Sunday, February 12, 2012

Project Focus: Getting Organized Part Two

The first part of this article was published in my electronic newsletter. To see it, please send me an email to

Hang attractive, frequently used cookware from a metal rack suspended from the ceiling or wall. This will free up cabinet space for storing other items. Try storing baking pans, trays, and platters vertically in that hard to reach cabinet over the refrigerator. Install them between spacers of the same material on the cabinet’s top and bottom.

Creating New Kitchen Storage
This next set of tips can add much needed storage in ways you might not have considered. Try some of these ideas:
 Hang measuring cups and serving spoons from hooks inside your cabinets
 Mount a spice rack on the inside of a cabinet door
 Place a rollout pantry in the space next to your refrigerator if you have 4 inches or more to work with
 Add a clever bookcase to your kitchen and use it for cookbooks and canisters
 Use a rollout cart, which can provide extra work and storage space that you can wheel from sink to stove.

Whatever you do, try a few of these ideas to get and keep your kitchen organized. You’ll be glad you did!

Penne With Turkey Ragu


Kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 leeks (white and light green parts only), finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 ounces ground turkey
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
Freshly ground pepper
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped, plus more for topping
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus the rind (optional)
12 ounces penne
2 tablespoons half-and-half

To Prepare

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic and turkey and cook, stirring until the turkey browns slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 2 cups water and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high, bring the sauce to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium; add half of the basil and the parmesan rind and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes.
2. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook as the label directs. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Stir the half-and-half, the remaining basil and 2 tablespoons cheese into the sauce. Add the pasta and toss to coat, adding some of the reserved pasta water to loosen, if needed. Remove the parmesan rind and season with salt and pepper.
3. Divide the pasta among the bowls. Top with remaining 1 tablespoon cheese and more basil.
Total prep time: 35 minutes. Serves 4.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Apricot Cheesecake Pockets


2 cups flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup apricot jam
1 ¼ cups confectioners' sugar
Gold sparkling sugar, for decoration

To Prepare

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, granulated sugar and salt.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat 8 oz. cream cheese and the butter on medium-high speed, until fluffy, 1 minute. Beat in the flour mixture on low speed. Divide the dough in half; place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Using the wrap to help, form the dough into disks and seal. Chill the dough until firm, at least 1 hour.
3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix half the beaten egg into the remaining 4 oz. cream cheese. Stir 1 teaspoon water into the remaining egg. Chill both the cream cheese mixture and the egg wash.
4. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment. Working on a floured surface, roll out 1 disk of dough ¼ inch thick. Using a 4-inch round cutter, cut out the cookies and place on the pans. Repeat with the remaining dough disks. Reroll any scraps and cut out enough cookies to total 24.
5. Transfer 1 of the pans to the refrigerator. Working with the other pan, place 1 teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture and 1 teaspoon jam in the center of each cookie. Using a pastry brush, coat the cookie edges with the egg wash; fold over the filling. Using the back of a fork, seal the edges. Brush the tops with egg wash. Place the pan in the refrigerator; repeat with the remaining cookies.
6. Bake the cookies until golden, 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a rack; let cool.
7. In a medium bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar with 2 tablespoons water. Working over the parchment, drizzle the cookies with the glaze. Sprinkle with the sparkling sugar. Let the glaze set.

Coconut Snowflakes


2 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (10.5 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon coconut extract
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar
4 tablespoons half-and-half
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice plus teaspoon lemon zest
White sparkling sugar, for decorating
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

To Prepare

1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt.
2. Using an electric mixer, cream 11 tablespoon butter and the granulated sugar on medium low speed until fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and the extracts, scrapping the bowl, for 2 minutes. Mix in the flour mixture in 2 batches on low speed.
3. Divide the dough between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Using the wrap to help, shape the dough into 2 disks and seal. Chill for 2 hours.
4. Meanwhile, using the mixer, beat the remaining 10 tablespoons butter, ½ teaspoon salt, the confectioners' sugar, half-and-half, lemon juice and lemon zest on low speed until smooth. Beat on high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Chill the filling.
5. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, preheat to 375 degrees. Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment. Working with 1 dough disk at a time, roll out on a floured surface to 1/8 inch, rotating the dough as needed. Using a 2 ½ inch cutter, cut out the cookies. Divide the cookies among the pans, chilling the pans as you work.
6. Sprinkle the cookies with the sparkling sugar. Bake 2 pans at a time, switching them halfway through cooking, until the edges are brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a rack; let cool.
7. Spread the bottom of 1 cookie with 1 teaspoon of the filling. Sandwich with another cookie. Use your fingers to scoop and press the coconut onto the filing. Chill for about 30 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen sandwich cookies.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

New Recipe: Shrimp, Cod & Fennel Soup with Tomatoes

This recipe is guaranteed to warm you up during the coming chilly, fall days and nights. It's easy to make, and it tastes absolutely delicious! Try it.

Shrimp, Cod and Fennel Soup with Tomatoes

Tip: Poaching shrimp and cod in wine-and-garlic-spiked fish stock elevates their flavor but keeps calories minimal. If you can't find the fish stock at your grocery store, ask your fishmonger.


2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small fennel bulb, quartered lengthwise, cored, thinly sliced crosswise,

fronds reserved for garnish

Coarse salt

Freshly ground white pepper

1 cup dry white wine

4 cups fish stock

12 ounces skinless cod fillets, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces

12 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left intact)

To Prepare

  1. Prepare an ice water bath. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Score an X into the bottom of each tomato using a sharp paring knife. Blanch tomatoes until skins loosen, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to ice water bath using a slotted spoon. Peel and discard skins. Core and coarsely chop tomatoes.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium Dutch oven or a large pot over medium high heat. Cook onion, garlic, and sliced fennel until fragrant and softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper. Remove from heat, and add wine. Return to heat, and bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits from bottom using a wooden spoon. Cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

  3. Add stock and chopped tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Stir in cod and shrimp, and return to a simmer. Remove from heat, and let stand, stirring halfway through, until cod and shrimp are just cooked enough, about 3 minutes. Divide soup among 4 bowls, and drizzle with remaining tablespoon oil. Garnish with reserved fennel fronds. Serve immediately.

Serves 4. Takes 30 minutes to prepare.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Classic Recipes for the Summer

It's grilling season!!!

When you want to try something different to grill, try the following two recipes. The Patty Melt is really good, and it uses good, old fashioned rye bread. The Veggie Burger is just plain healthy (and delicious). Try them out for yourself!

Classic Recipe: Classic Patty Melts on Rye

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
Kosher salt
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
12 slices crusty rye bread, each about 1/3 inch thick
2 pounds ground chuck (80% lean)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups (about 4 ounces) grated Havarti or Swiss cheese
Dijon or spicy brown mustard, optional

To Prepare
1. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onions, sprinkle with the sugar, cover and cook until the onions are tender and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt. Remove from the heat.
2. Butter the bread on each side and set aside.
3. Prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat. In a large bowl, gently mix the ground chuck with the Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper, incorporating the spices evenly. Gently shape into 6 patties of equal size and thickness, about ¾ inch thick. With your thumb or the back of a spoon, make a shallow indentation about 1 inch wide in the center of each patty.
4. Brush the cooking grates clean. Grill the patties over direct high heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until cooked to medium, 8 to 10 minutes, turning once. Transfer the patties to a work surface.
5. Lower the temperature of the grill to medium heat. Grill the bread slices over direct medium heat until toasted on one side only, about 1 minute. Transfer the bread, toasted side up, to a work surface.
6. Evenly divide the caramelized onions on 6 of the toasted bread slices and top each with a patty. Scatter the cheese over the patties. Place the remaining bread slices, toasted sides down, on top of the patties. Using a wide spatula, carefully place the patty melts back onto the cooking grate and grill over direct medium heat until the brad on the bottom is toasted, about 1 minute, and then carefully turn the sandwiches and toast the other side. Serve the patty melts warm with mustard, if desired.

Serves 6; Prep time: 25 minutes

Perfect Veggie Burgers

1/3 cup quick cooking barley
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small stalk celery, chopped
Kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5 tablespoons barbeque sauce
1 medium carrot, finely grated
1 cup canned pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
6 soft buns, split
Onion rings, for topping

To Prepare
1. Prepare the barley as the label directs. Let cool completely.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Add the garlic, 3 tablespoons barbeque sauce and the carrot; cook, stirring until the mixture dries out slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and let cool completely.
3. Add the barley, beans, breadcrumbs, walnuts, soy sauce, egg whites, parsley and ½ teaspoon salt to the food processor. Pulse until finely ground with some chunks. Form into six 4-inch-wide, ½ inch thick patties and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover and refrigerate until firm, 1 to 4 hours.
4. Preheat the broiler. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, cook the patties until golden brown, about 6 minutes per side. Meanwhile, place the buns, cut side up, on a broiler pan and broil until toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve the patties on the buns; top with the remaining 2 tablespoons barbeque sauce and onion rings.

Makes 6 burgers; total prep time 1 hour 40 minutes.

Cool & Refreshing Smoothie

These two ingredients: cantaloupe and pistachio make a delicious smoothie.

I really love making and drinking smoothies. Nothing cools you better than a delicious smoothie on a hot summer day. The following two recipes are a continuation of those that I recently placed on my eNewsletter. Want to get my newsletter? Send me an email to or visit my website at

Cantaloupe-Pistachio Smoothie

1 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons agave nectar, Domino
2 teaspoons finely chopped pistachios
Garnish: cantaloupe slices

To Prepare
1. On a small baking sheet, place cantaloupe chunks; place in freezer for 30 minutes, or until firm.
2. In the container of an electric blender, combine cantaloupe, yogurt, and agave nectar*; process until smooth. Top with pistachios. Garnish with cantaloupe slices, if desired. Serve immediately.

* 2 tablespoons honey may be substituted for agave nectar.
Note: Fresh unfrozen cantaloupe chunks may be used. Add 4 ice cubes to blender before processing.

Makes 1 serving; Prepares in 5 minutes, freeze time: 30 minutes

Blueberry-Ginger Smoothie

1 cup frozen unsweetened blueberries
1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger

To Prepare
1. In the container of an electric blender, combine blueberries, yogurt, honey, and ginger. Process until smooth. Serve immediately.

Males 1 serving; prepares in 5 minutes.