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Our cousin Ken came to visit from Minnesota in May. He’s not only a fun-loving and hard-working guy, but he’s a genuine food lover.

So naturally, we’ve bonded.

On his visit last year, Ken promised to bring us a block of cheddar cheese aged for 8 years. Eight!

That’s right, cheese that may be older than your children.

This spring, Ken delivered not one but three one-pound blocks of sunset gold cheese. Dense to lift and dry to the touch, this “old” cheese was not at all stinky {even in the good way some cheeses are}.

As a sharp cheddar lover, I sliced it up for a snack with apple, cooked it into a grilled cheese on crusty bread and grated it into an omelet.

It was wonderfully so tangy and creamy, there was no comparing this sharp cheddar to ordinary American cheddar.

The highest honor I could pay to this ripe old cheese? This savory scone recipe: sharp cheddar, diced ham, fresh thyme folded into a flaky dough enriched with rye flour.

Cece, my 11-year-old baker thought it would be great to cut these scones with one of our decorative large cookie cutters. Then, we “stuffed” these breakfast scones with even more cheddar and bacon.

These sharp cheddar and bacon scones are a terrific all-in-one breakfast on the go. Or for taking on your next camping trip.

I hope you enjoy one of these breakfast scones this summer in your free time somewhere in the great outdoors.

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Sharp Cheddar & Bacon Scones
The addition of bacon and sharp cheddar, along with dark rye flour and fresh thyme, load up the flavor in these flaky savory scones. They're perfect for a breakfast on the go or for taking on your next camping trip.
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword buttermilk biscuits
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 16 minutes
Servings 12 scones
Author Lynne Curry
Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark rye flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 cups (about 1 pound) chopped cooked bacon, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated sharp cheddar, divided
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk or combine plain yogurt with milk
Instructions
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silicone liner.
  • Whisk the all-purpose flour, rye flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl until blended.
  • Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter, knives or your hands until the mixture is uniformly crumbly. Add 1 1/2 cups of the bacon, 1 cup of the cheese and thyme and toss lightly with your hands to distribute them throughout the mixture.
  • Add the buttermilk and use a fork or your hands to mix the liquid into the flour. It will still be very crumbly. Use a spatula or your hands to press it into a loose dough, turning the bowl while continuing to press and fold, and gathering together as best you can.
  • Turn the dough onto the counter and use a pastry blade to continue folding, pressing and gathering–a type of gentle kneading–5 to 6 more times. Use a rolling pin or your palms to form the dough into a rough round about 1 inch thick. Use a 2 1/2- to 3-inch biscuit or cookie cutter to cut the dough and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Use a floured finger to make a pocket in the center of each scone about 1/2 inch deep. Place a portion of the reserved bacon and cheddar into the pocket in each scone. Bake until light and springy in the centers and golden brown on the tops and bottoms, 18 to 20 minutes

The post Sharp Cheddar & Bacon Breakfast Scones appeared first on Lynne Curry.

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How I love the start of grilling season!

Sure, the weather doesn’t always cooperate, but it’s a great time of year to dust off the grill {literally}, order a new set of tongs and make friends with live flame.

If you’re new to grilling or short on time, shrimp are a terrific choice. Since they change color from translucent to opaque pale pink, there’s no guessing when they’re done.

And they take just minutes.

Cooking with Shrimp

Shrimp is a luxury item in my mind. And since there are a host of terrible problems with international shrimp fisheries, I make sure to buy wild American shrimp. They are sold frozen at my supermarket, so I defrost them overnight in the refrigerator.

Shrimp are sold by size with a number on the bag that indicates how many shrimp per pound. The lower the number, the bigger the shrimp. I prefer the 30-45 count, about the size of a quarter cooked for this recipe.

Peeled and deveined save a ton of time. I use a grill pan for ease, but you can also skewer shrimp this size.

I find that shrimp benefit from a quick and simple marinade. For this recipe, I turned to the Vietnamese sauce of lime juice and fish sauce called nuoc cham. Then, after a 20-minute marinade and a three-minute shift on the grill, they’re ready.

These lettuce wraps are the ticket for making a pound of shrimp go far. Perfect for a few or a crowd–and for a first meal out on the deck.

Just add small washed lettuce leaves, like Little Gem, romaine or green leaf with this sweet, sour, salty and just a little bit spicy mango salsa. Serve it for a scrumptious appetizer.

For a heartier meal, I’d add in sticky rice and a cucumber salad. But even without the sides, my husband said that these grilled shrimp lettuce wraps were “surprisingly filling.”

Now, we’re all warmed up for a whole season of grilling!

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Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Wraps with Mango Salsa
Kick off grilling season with a quick and simple shrimp lettuce wrap for a hearty appetizer or light main dish. Use a portion of the lime juice and fish sauce marinade (nuoc cham) for the shrimp and the rest for the mango salsa. Serve with fresh herbs and extra limes.
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword grilled shrimp, shrimp lettuce wraps
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Marinating time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Lynne Curry
Equipment
  • Grill pan or skewers
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 Bird's eye, serrano or jalapeno chile pepper, finely chopped optional
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp wild American
  • 8 small romaine lettuce leaves
  • cilantro sprigs for serving
  • fresh basil leaves for serving
  • lime wedges for serving
Mango Salsa
  • 1 medium ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cut into small dice
  • 1 small red pepper, cut into small dice
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
Instructions
  • Combine the warm water and sugar in a small mixing bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the lime juice. It should taste like very strong but balanced limeade. Add the fish sauce, shallot and chile pepper, if using, to make 1 cup.
  • Pour 3/4 cup of the marinade over the shrimp and marinate for 20 to 30 minutes while you preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat.
  • Meanwhile, make the salsa by combining the mango, pepper and scallion with the remaining 1/4 cup marinade and toss gently with the cilantro. Taste and set aside at room temperature. Arrange the lettuce cups on a platter, slice the extra limes and put the cilantro and basil on a small plate.
  • If you do not have a grill pan, skewer the shrimp and place on a sheet pan and pat dry with paper towel. Or, drain the marinade from the shrimp, pat dry with paper towel and arrange on the grill pan. Grill the shrimp until they change from translucent to pink, turning once, about 3 minutes.
  • Portion the shrimp into each lettuce cup and serve with the mango salsa, herbs and limes.

The post Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Wraps with Mango Salsa appeared first on Lynne Curry.

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While we were traveling through the south of Spain, we often went out for falafel. Is that surprising?

Every town we visited had historic Arab and Jewish quarters, and the falafel was plentiful and oh, so good! As a falafel plate, a falafel wrap or out of hand, these chickpea patties are incredibly satisfying.

I have a recipe I love from Saveur, one I’ve been making for years. But since it involves deep frying, I hardly ever make it.

But now that we’re a family of devoted falafel eaters, I wanted to find a way to incorporate it into our regular weeknight dinner rotation.

So, I decided to test out frying versus baking falafel. To be honest, I doubted that the baked falafel could be as crispy as the deep-fried version.

Oh, was I ever wrong!

The key to getting crispy baked falafel was to use the technique I rely on for making crispy sweet potato oven fries:

1. Preheat a sheet pan in a hot oven.

2. Use enough oil for browning on both sides.

As you can see, the fried falafel does have a more even crust. So, when I’m going for falafel perfection, frying is still the way to go.

But, the baked falafel is a lot easier when time is short, and there’s no oil splatters on the stove. I just add warmed pita breads, sliced tomatoes, lettuce and this terrific 5-minute tahini-yogurt sauce.

So, now we can feast on falafel whenever the mood strikes. And around here, that’s a lot!

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Baked Falafel
This is the recipe I've been making for years, adapted from Saveur. You'll need to soak the chickpeas overnight before blending in a food processor. You can form the patties in advance and bake (or fry) before serving.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Prep Time 20 minutes
soaking time 8 hours
Servings 6 people
Author Lynne Curry
Ingredients
  • 2 cups dry chickpeas soaked for 8-12 hours
  • 2 tablespoons bulgur
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro stems
  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • pinch cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  • Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse, scraping down the bowl, a few times until evenly ground but not smooth.
  • Use a 1/4-cup measuring cup to portion the falafel mixture into slider-sized patties. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (This step can be done in advance.)
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place a rimmed sheet pan in the oven for 5 minutes. Then, add the oil and heat for 1 minute.
  • Carefully arrange the falafel on the sheet pan about 2 inches apart. Bake until the bottom sides are golden brown, about 6 minutes. Flip the patties so that they land in oil and cook until the bottoms are golden brown and the falafel are heated through, about 5 minutes more.
Notes
To fry falafel, I pan fry instead of deep frying. Heat 1 1/2 inches of vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat until a few crumbs of the mixture sprinkled into the oil bubble. Cook the patties in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan for 3-4 minutes per side until deeply golden brown.

The post Is It Better to Fry or Bake Your Falafel? appeared first on Lynne Curry.

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Everyone’s asked me about my favorite foods since I got back from our trip to Spain. The answer is olive oil!

Certainly we ate more than our share of gelato and jamon, but the fruity olive oil was ubiquitous. On baby romaines with fried garlic at lunch. Pooled onto a plate for dipping bread at dinner. Even for breakfast drizzled over toast with tomato.

Pretty natural, considering that half the country is planted in olive trees! And we spent most of the month in the south region of Andalusia, renown for its olive oils.

As soon as I got home, I ordered several bottles. {It seemed easier to order from home than lugging them from Madrid.} And I started using more olive oil on everything.

Including in cake.

Homemade Olive Oil Cake

It was a cool and cloudy day in Avila, Spain when we tucked into a coffee shop to study our Spanish. The only tourists in the place, we ordered our drinks and circled a back table to settle in. But I was drawn back to the counter by a display of cakes.

There was dulce de leche cake and cheesecake…but what struck me most were several unadorned cakes. They looked like supersized loaf cakes.

Eating in another country is as much a language experience as it is about the food. And so I asked in Spanish about them. All made in house, the server told me, and then she listed the flavors pointing to each one: chocolate, marble, lemon, orange, carrot…

Turns out these are bizcocho casero, simple cakes that are beloved in Spain and come in a host of flavors. And they’re often made with olive oil.

No wonder! So, here you have it, olive oil cake baked in a bundt pan at home!

Ideal All-Occasion Cake

I used almond flour for some of the flour in this cake because almonds are also beloved in Spain. And since I wanted to really taste the olive oil, I left out any flavoring in my first few trials. Oh my goodness was it good!

A snack cake, a coffee cake, a potluck dessert–this is the cake I’d want any day of the week.

The amazing thing about this cake is how long it stays moist at room temperature. {One of the many cakes I baked for this post was still fresh tasting after 5 days.}

Credit the olive oil, which is an easy substitute for butter in many baked goods that also brings nutritional benefits.

Olive oil cake is just one of those that suits any occasion. You can flavor it with anything–this recipe offers lemon or orange zest as an option, but I love it with nothing but olive oil for flavoring, too.

Then serve it as is, or adorn it as you like, say, with fresh raspberries and whipped cream.

Such an easy dessert! You might whip up one of these for Mother’s Day and top it with rose-macerated strawberries, an edible gift or treat for yourself.

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Olive Oil-Almond Bundt Cake
This cake is all about the simplicity of ingredients. It mixes up quickly before baking at a low temperature for just oven an hour to prevent overbrowning. It is a very moist and finely textured cake that is wonderful unadorned, or serves as a blank canvas for dressing up as you like. The olive oil keeps it moist for several days, so you can actually bake this cake in advance of your next celebration or bring it to the office.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Spanish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Author Lynne Curry
Ingredients
  • 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (3 3/8 ounces) almond flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) milk or almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) olive oil
  • 5 large eggs pastured
  • 1 3/4 cup (12 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange or lemon zest optional
Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees with the oven rack in the center position. Thoroughly oil a 12-cup bundt pan.
  • Whisk the flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Measure the milk and olive oil and set them aside.
  • In a stand mixer, beat the eggs with the paddle attachment until they are very well beaten, about 1 minute. Add the sugar in a stream with the mixer running on high speed and beat until the eggs are pale and thick like heavy cream. With the mixer on medium, drizzle in the milk followed by the olive oil. The batter will become like the consistency of mayonnaise.
  • Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture all at once just until combined. Scrape down the bowl and stir to blend thoroughly. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake the cake for 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The cake is done when it is well risen in the pan, golden brown and a wooden skewer cake tester comes out clean. If necessary bake 5-10 minutes more.
  • Transfer the cake to a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Turn out of the pan and cool completely before serving. The cake will stay moist and fresh tasting at room temperature for several days.

The post Fruity Spanish Olive Oil Cake Suits Any Occasion appeared first on Lynne Curry.

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Spring is for salads! Are you with me?

But with the rain still drizzling down and the temperature on this side of sweater weather, it’s still a bit early for all the wondrous lettuce varieties.

Good thing there’s spinach. I adore a good wilted spinach salad. But sometimes I also need that salad to be a bit more substantial. Or even a Meatless Monday main dish.

That’s when I turn to this spinach, lentil and parsnip salad recipe from my beloved River Cottage cookbook called Veg.

If you’ve been hanging around Forage at all, you know that I adore three foods perhaps above all {but please don’t make me choose}: greens, legumes–which include beans, lentils and peas–and roasted vegetables.

This lovely salad brings them all together for a kick start to spring salad feasting.

It’s a medley of textures from the spinach leaves, the just-cooked-to-tenderness lentils {I used red lentils here, which are super quick to cook} and toothsome parsnips chunks.

The flavors are all mellow and blend together like a harmonizing trio. And that’s why this zingy little homemade honey mustard dressing works so well.

This dressing is so uncomplicated and rewarding, you may want to use it for other roasted vegetables or grain salads this spring.

You know, before we turn our backs on the produce that got us through the wintry months and gorge on all the lettuces.

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Spinach, Lentil & Parsnip Salad with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette
This recipe is from a terrific vegetable book from the River Cottage series called Veg. It brings together fresh spinach, cooked lentils and roasted parsnips with a harmonizing honey-mustard vinaigrette. Serve it as a main dish or as a side for roast pork, chicken or fish. This is best served at room temperature.
Course Salad
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword spinach lentil salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 people
Ingredients
  • 4 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups packed fresh baby spinach leaves, stemmed
  • 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
For the honey-mustard dressing:
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
Instructions
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the parsnips with the oil, season with salt and pepper and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast until they are deeply browned, turning once or twice, about 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cover the lentils in a sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. Salt the water, add the garlic and bay leaf and reduce the heat to simmer until the lentils are just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well and discard the garlic and bay leaf.
  • To make the dressing, whisk the oil, lemon juice, honey, mustard and garlic in a small bowl, or use an immersion blender for a smoother dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • When the lentils are cooked, toss them with most of the dressing to lightly coat. Toss the spinach with the remaining dressing and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To serve, make a loose bed of spinach on a platter and distribute the parsnips and lentils over it. Top with a shower of sunflower seeds.

The post Early Spring Spinach, Lentil & Parsnip Salad with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette appeared first on Lynne Curry.

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Spring is one of those uncertain times. One day, it can be T-shirt weather and the next you’re pulling out your down jacket–again.

Or you’re looking forward to spring break while nursing a winter cold. Or just wondering when you’ll be able to sit on the deck in the sun for more than five minutes.

All of these situations point to soup. Yes, the days are getting longer but it’s still soup weather all the way!

Plus, is there anything more comforting, satisfying and healthful than soup?

And yet, spring offers the opportunity to lighten it up.

Instead of my go-to hearty soups, like chili, pasta and bean, and minestrone, I crave a brothier soup. And I look for ways to bring in more variety and fresh herbs.

This big bowl of meatball noodle soup is my take on pho–a wonderful Vietnamese dish.

Pho is the ideal spring soup to transition from winter into spring. It’s so adaptable to weather, mood and ingredients.

And it all starts with a tasty stock or broth infused with ginger and garlic, cinnamon and star anise. Then, just add rice noodles, shiitakes, bok choy…

…and these phenomenal gluten-free/Whole30/keto meatballs. This is a make-ahead meatball that you can batch cook and pull from the freezer as a building block to an easy weeknight dinner.

Then top it with all the fresh spring herbs you can find, including mint, cilantro and Thai basil–I added sprouts to my bowl, too.

A squeeze of lime adds even more freshness to your own bowl of meatball pho.

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Meatball Pho with Shiitakes and Bok Choy
This meatball pho features pork meatballs, whole wheat rice noodles, shiitakes and bok choy in a simple broth. Since you make all the components in advance, it’s a great weeknight meal. Feel free to substitute any ground meat, including chicken or turkey for the meatballs. They freeze well, too. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword meatball pho
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Lynne Curry
Ingredients
For the meatballs:
  • 1 pound ground pork pastured
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 egg pastured
  • 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped and green parts reserved for the soup
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the pho:
  • 7-8 cups chicken broth
  • 3 1/4-inch slices unpeeled ginger root
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 10 ounces rice noodles, soaked in hot water regular or whole wheat
  • 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 baby bok choy, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or additional to taste
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 lime, quartered for serving
  • fresh herbs, such as mint, cilantro, Thai basil to taste
Instructions
  • To make the meatballs, combine the ground pork, almond flour, egg, scallion,, garlic, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and blend well using rubber spatula or your hands. 
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F while you form the meatballs. Use a portion scoop or tablespoon to form the meatballs about the size of a golf ball. Arrange them on 2 rimmed ungreased baking sheets in a single layer about 1/2 inch apart. Bake until cooked through, about 16 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the broth by bringing the chicken stock to a simmer. Add the ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick and star anise. Simmer for 15 minutes–or even longer for a more pronounced taste. Reduce the heat to low and add the fish sauce, brown sugar and pinch of salt. Taste for seasoning, then discard the ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick and star anise.
  • Bring the broth back to a low simmer and use a strainer to dunk the noodles in batches to cook until they are tender to the bite. Distribute them among the bowls. Finally, add the mushrooms and bok choy and simmer until softened, about 10 minutes.
  • To assemble the bowls, ladle the hot broth with mushrooms and bok choy over the noodles. Top with 3 to 4 meatballs and the reserved green parts of the scallions. Serve with lime slices and fresh herbs to taste.

The post Spring Pho: Meatball Noodle Soup Bowls appeared first on Lynne Curry.

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I am always on the lookout for good snacks. Not the cheese-and-crackers that are my fall backs. But better snacks.

Delicious and nutritious enough to even stand in for a quick meal when I am on the run. And who isn’t?

Funny enough, this white bean dip is one I’ve made for years. It’s one of my go-tos for special occasions and an appetizer for private chef events.

Flavored with fresh garlic, rosemary, a splash of balsamic vinegar and plenty of olive oil, it hits all the marks. And satisfies when I’m super hungry.

Fresh rosemary is essential, and I’m happy to have friends who bring me branches of rosemary that thrive in Seattle and Portland. This hardy herb lasts for months in my fridge.

If only I could keep a rosemary plant alive in this mountain climate, I’d probably make this white bean dip even more often!

Recently, I had to replace my Cuisinart. So, a brand new one seemed like a good opportunity to whip up my best white bean dip.

It works with crackers (especially these homemade crackers from Fine Cooking, which are one of my all-time most popular recipes) or rice crackers or flatbreads, too.

Or try green beans, snap peas, carrots, endive, red pepper or any other cut fresh vegetable to use as a scoop.

There are many good occasions to serve this easy white bean dip: Easter, Mother’s Day and all the fall holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.

Because it’s vegan and gluten free, anyone can dig into this dip.

It’s equally great on a late winter Saturday for afternoon snacking. My 13 year-old daughter, who is always hungry, couldn’t stay away from the platter I set out one day.

I count that as a rave review. Hope you like it just as much!

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Rosemary White Bean Dip
Quick, easy and satisfying, this white bean dip is great for a crowd or for healthy snacking any time. Make it in advance for a party or keep it on hand for a quick lunch or appetizer for up to 5 days. It also freezes well in a sealed container in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Keyword white bean dip
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 10 people
Author Lynne Curry
Ingredients
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, stemmed
  • 1 1/2 cups (1 15-ounce can) cooked cannellini beans, drained rinsed if canned
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  • Puree the garlic and rosemary in a food processor until finely ground. Add the beans, balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Puree until very smooth. Taste for seasoning, especially salt.
  • Transfer to a plate or shallow bowl and smooth. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and serve with fresh vegetables, flatbreads and/or crackers.
Notes
The amount of salt needed in this recipe will vary depending on whether you’re using home-cooked or canned beans. It can also depend on what you’re serving with this dip: fresh vegetables or salted crackers. So season this white bean dip accordingly.

The post My Favorite Rosemary White Bean Dip appeared first on Lynne Curry.

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Are your weeknights as busy as ours lately? There are so many evening activities I’m usually scrambling to make something on the fly {hello omelets, panini, Dinner 911}.

Or, I get my act together and prepare a make-ahead, eat-anytime meal.

Shepherd’s pie fits the bill because it is an easy casserole that’s nothing more than a meat filling + mashed potatoes. And it makes a satisfying and nutritious meal everyone likes {win-win}.

The filling is a simple ground meat mixture with vegetables in a light gravy. Yes, everyone will tell you that shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb. If it’s made with ground beef, it’s cottage pie.

Technically speaking, that is…

Since I buy a pasture-raised lamb every year, I have ground lamb in the freezer. So, that’s what I use. If you like lamb, this is the way to go, since the simplicity of shepherd’s pie really celebrates the distinctive taste of lamb.

But if you have good ground beef, especially grassfed, to use or dislike lamb, use it instead for this recipe.

In the same way, the mashed potatoes are your call. You could even use good-quality instant mashed potatoes in a pinch. Just don’t skimp on the butter and seasonings to make them extra tasty.

I’m always looking for ways to cram more veggies into every meal. So, my Shepherd’s Pie mashup involved mixing in a healthy dose of frozen spinach. I squeezed the thawed spinach dry and pureed it in a food processor with the mashed potatoes.

Boy, did they turn out green! And the flavors? The wonderful earthy and vegetable notes of the spinach complemented the lamb to a “T.”

In terms of baking this dish, once again shepherd’s pie is a hallmark of versatility.

You can bake it in the same skillet you cooked the ground meat in, or in a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. I love to make individual servings, the same way I do for pot pies.

I put to use these restaurant-style oval baking dishes, which make this humble, peasant meal look a little bit fancy.

Once assembled, you can bring shepherd’s pie straight to the oven to bake and serve. Or you can bake it later in the day or the next. You can also freeze it for a day when you need a homemade frozen dinner on the double.

Even reheated, shepherd’s pie loses none of its charms. So leftovers are also lifesavers.

No matter which way you roll, shepherd’s pie is a complete and whole meal that takes the sweat out of hectic weeknight meals.

Or, for the weekend it makes for wholesome comfort food for a Sunday supper when you may even have a chance to slow down.

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Shepherd’s Pie
This version of shepherd’s pie calls for ground lamb (but use ground beef if you prefer) and spinach in the mashed potatoes. It’s a hearty make-ahead nutritious comfort food dinner for any day of the week.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Irish
Keyword shepherd’s pie
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Lynne Curry
Ingredients
For the filling:
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups beef, chicken or vegetable stock or broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
For the topping:
  • 2 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 cup warm cream or milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1 large egg pastured
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Instructions
  • To make the filling, melt the butter in a large, deep, oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the lamb, salt, and pepper and break it up into crumbles. Cook, stirring, until the lamb is no longer pink.
  • Add the flour and stir until it absorbs all the moisture in the pan, about 1 minute. Stir in the stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate all of the flour. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. 
  • Take the skillet off the heat, taste for salt and pepper, and stir in the peas. (You can prepare the shepherd’s pie filling up to 2 days in advance and reheat on the stovetop before proceeding with the recipe.)
  • Meanwhile, make the topping by putting the potatoes in a stockpot and add enough cool water to cover them by 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce the heat to low and simmer the potatoes until they are fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes well and return them to the pot to steam dry for 5 minutes.
  • lip the skins from the potatoes and pass them through a ricer or food mill or food processor, blending in the butter, and milk. Season the potatoes with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg and taste them for seasoning. Add the egg and spinach and purée or mix just until the mashed potatoes are smooth and light.
  • Preheat the broiler to medium high with the top rack placed 8 inches below the element. Spread and smooth the mashed potatoes over the top of the filling to make the top “crust.” Broil the shepherd’s pie until the top is evenly golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

The post Make Your Own Genuine Shepherd’s Pie, Make it Green appeared first on Lynne Curry.

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This winter, I discovered a cache of Cara Cara oranges at the supermarket. I mean generic navel oranges are reliably good, but these?

I told my eighth grader one afternoon, “These are the best oranges you’ve ever had.”

Naturally, she eyed me with suspicion. But she reached into the fruit bowl and cracked one open. Then, without another word, she devoured it.

And since that moment with the orange, I think she trusts me just a little bit more.

For my part, I became a hoarder. I purchased 15 pounds of Cara Cara oranges at a time. It’s possible that each person in our family consumed our weight in oranges.

But what does this have to do with biscotti?

It’s this: every time I peeled one of these beauties, the orange oil misted my hands and infused the air with a pure and intoxicating essense of orange.

And I realized that I was wasting one of the most precious parts of these {expensive} oranges: the zest.

If I zested these oranges before peeling, I could capture every part. And what do you do with extra orange zest?

Make biscotti, of course! {Or maybe this kale quinoa citrus salad.}

I learned while making this lemon pudding cake that the best way to maximize the flavors of zest in baking is to massage the zest with the granulated sugar {thanks, Dorie!}.

The dough comes together so quickly in a stand mixer. It’s easy to handle, so you just shape it into a log, bake and slice.

Even if you’ve never baked biscotti before, or think that they’re hard to make, try this orange pecan biscotti recipe before citrus season is over.

One other thing to note is that while biscotti means “twice cooked,” you don’t actually have to bake them twice. After baking and slicing, you get a soft cookie that my kids like.

I love them toasted, but only lightly. So that they’re both crunchy and chewy. You never need a cup of coffee to dunk these orange pecan biscotti.

And since these cookies last for weeks, they preserve the flavors of Cara Cara oranges when my cache at the store is long gone.

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Orange Pecan Biscotti
This is my go-to biscotti recipe, adaptable for all types of flavoring, like orange zest. I love the tender, toasted flavors of pecans, but use the same quantity of your favorite nut, like almonds or pistachios. And with this recipe you can choose how chewy or crunchy to make biscotti just the way you like them.
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Keyword biscotti
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
toasting 16 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 12 people
Author Lynne Curry
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) organic cane sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups (8.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten pastured
  • 1 teaspoon triple sec or vanilla
  • 1 cup pecan halves or pieces
Instructions
  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Use your fingers to blend together the orange zest and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix on low speed to blend.
  • Add the eggs, triple sec and pecans and mix on low speed until it collects into a dough. Gather the dough with your hands and shape into a log on the baking sheet about 10 inches long and 4 inches wide.
  • Bake until risen, spread and lightly golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, then remove the parchment paper. Slice along the short side into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
  • Arrange the slices onto their flat sides on the unlined baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, 8 minutes for lightly toasted biscotti and 10 minutes for crunchier biscotti you’ll need to dunk. Flip to toast the second side for 8 or 10 minutes.
  • Cool complete and store in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.

The post How to Capture the Essence of Orange in Biscotti appeared first on Lynne Curry.

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When I want to bust out of my weeknight dinner ruts, I often reach for a can of coconut milk.

For many of us, this ingredient has become a staple. But coconut milk can still coax my imagination into new directions–even after a long workday.

This one-pot braised coconut chicken with rice came about just that way. A can of coconut milk from the cupboard combined with a memory of the most perfect coconut rice.

Make that two cans. The result is a mild, aromatic, and wonderfully uplifting comfort food main dish: braised coconut chicken and rice in a single skillet.

The chicken was really an afterthought to turn a pot of coconut rice into a meal I could feed my family.

Chicken thighs are the best cut to braise on the bird. I buy bone-in and skin on. The first time I prepared this meal with pasture-raised chicken thighs, I peeled off the beautifully browned chicken skin.

And while the chicken braised and the rice swelled in the coconut milk in the oven, I fried the skin in a skillet until crisp as a potato chip.

I may have snacked on more than one piece. Then, I served the rest cut into strips as a garnish at the table. Since crisping the chicken skin does involve using an additional pan, it’s entirely optional.

I don’t always take the time for the crispy chicken skin garnish, though I usually wish I had.

No matter what this is a stove top-to-oven-to-table dinner. Use your largest skillet with a lid that fits well to braise the coconut chicken cook the rice in the oven.

The chicken will become fall-apart tender and the rice will swell up around it. And it will hold in a warm oven as long as you need it to.

But it’s hard for me to wait to dig into the pan to get all the coconut rice I want mounded into a shallow serving bowl. {There’s extra for everyone in this recipe.}

Then top it with one of the chicken thighs, a scattering of scallion and cilantro. A squeeze of lime brings it all into relief.

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Coconut Chicken & Rice
A simple but sumptuous feast of coconut chicken and rice. To make this recipe, use your largest skillet with a lid that fits securely. Serve it with your favorite steamed green vegetable, such as broccoli, bok choy or snow peas.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Thai
Keyword coconut chicken
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Lynne Curry
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil vegetable oil or ghee
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
  • kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 14-ounce cans coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lime juice or rice wine vinegar
  • 2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • lime wedges for serving
Instructions
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the coconut oil and let it melt. Season the chicken thighs with kosher salt on both sides and cook skin-side down without moving until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook on the second side for 2 minutes more, then transfer to a plate.
  • Drain any excess fat, reduce the heat to medium and cook the ginger and garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and lime juice, scraping the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, then add the rice and salt. Stir well to combine.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the reserved chicken on top of the rice, cover the skillet and place it in the oven to bake until the chicken is cooked through (internal temperature is 165 degrees F) and the rice is tender to the bite, about 30 minutes. Serve with the scallions, cilantro and lime wedges.
Notes
To make the crispy chicken skin garnish: After browning the chicken, slip off the skin and set it aside. While the chicken braises in the oven, brown the underside of the chicken skin in a dry skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp. Use tongs to press sections of the skin on the pan’s surface as needed for even browning. Turn and re-crisp the top side. Cut the chicken skin into strips or tear into smaller pieces for serving over the coconut chicken rice or just for snacking.

The post One-Pot Braised Coconut Chicken and Rice appeared first on Lynne Curry.

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