Saturday, March 31, 2012

Easter Recipes: Spring Side Dishes

As with all holidays, each family has their special Easter dinner dishes. Our family table is never without ham, rolls, and potatoes, but I tend to mix it up as far as the other dishes. My grandmother was Polish and she often fixed kielbasa along with the ham, which I tend to do to if I can get into the city to a meat market. Today I have a few recipes that would be wonderful with Easter dinner if you want to mix it up this year too.

New Potato Fennel Salad

10 small new red potatoes, sliced
4 eggs, hard-cooked
1/2 c. sliced celery
1/2 c. chopped fennel bulb
1/4 c. thinly sliced sweet onion
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. spicy mustard
1 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
1 tbsp. white vinegar
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. ground pepper

In large pan, cook the sliced potatoes in boiling water until JUST tender; drain well. Chop the boiled eggs. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, eggs, celery, fennel and onion. In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients; whisk well. Spoon dressing over salad; toss gently. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.

What I do with the onion is slice it very thin, then cut those slices in quarters. You can also dice the onion.

Dilled Cheddar and Pea Salad

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen green peas
1 c. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 large stalk celery, chopped
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp. snipped fresh dill weed

Rinse frozen peas under running cold water to thaw slightly; drain well. Toss the pea, cheese, celery, mayonnaise and dill. Chill until ready to serve.

Notes: I also like adding 5 or 6 diced radishes to this. The cheese should be the regular shredded cheese NOT the finely shredded. You can also dice a block of Cheddar with a sharp knife if you wish. Fresh dill makes all the difference in this salad.

Feta Couscous Salad

1 c. plus 2 tbsp. chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 c. quick cooking couscous
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded & chopped
3 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 c. minced watercress
3 tbsp. minced green onion
5 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
ground black pepper

Bring the stock to boil in a small pan. Mix in the couscous, cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Cool to room temperature. Add the couscous to a large bowl. Mix in the tomato, feta, watercress and green onion. In a small bowl or jar, whisk together the oil, lemon, a dash or two of salt and a generous amount of pepper. Gently mix into salad.

Scalloped Potatoes and Onions

4 medium potatoes, cooked, peeled & sliced
2 sweet onions, thinly sliced then halved
6 slices sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
6 slices bacon

In a medium pan combine the onions, soup, milk, salt, and pepper together and heat on medium low until warmed. Arrange 1/3 of the potato slices in the bottom of a greased 2 1/2 quart casserole. Top with 1/3 of the sauce, then the cheese. Continue layering. Lastly, place the strips of bacon across the top. Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Notes: This recipe can be varied by using regular white or yellow onions, a different type of cheese or shredded instead of sliced.

On OFL we have a nice article on Polish Easter traditions:


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Recipes: Asparagus

One of my favorite spring vegetables is asparagus, especially when it's fresh and thin in size. It's still tasty even when fairly thick, as long as the tough ends are cut off before cooking. Those ends can be used in making stock for a little extra flavor. All of the recipes below use fresh asparagus, which should be washed and the ends trimmed or snapped off before cooking. Any of these dishes would be lovely with Easter or Sunday dinner.

Asparagus Salad

1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into pieces
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 c. red onion, very thinly sliced
1 hard boiled egg, finely chopped
1/4 c. Italian dressing

Cook the asparagus until just tender, 6-8 minutes. Drain and cool. Combine remaining ingredients. Add the asparagus. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. 4 to 6 servings.

Note: I also like sprinkling with Parmesan or Feta cheese before serving.

Italian Style Asparagus

1 1/2 pounds asparagus
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. grated lemon zest

Cook the asparagus until just tender in boiling, salted water. Drain. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is softened, about 1-2 minutes. Add drained asparagus, cook, stirring until heated through, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with zest.

Pasta with Asparagus and Feta

8 oz. pasta, spaghetti or other type
1/2 lb. fresh asparagus
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tomato, diced
4 oz. feta cheese
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp. dried

Cook pasta according to package directions. Steam asparagus until just tender; cut into pieces. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add oil and tomato and heat gently until heated through. Add cheese and oregano and heat gently to heat. Toss lightly. Makes four servings.

Garlic Butter Asparagus

1 lb. fresh asparagus
1/4 c. butter, cut into pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced finely
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

Boil asparagus until just tender, after trimming ends. In large skillet, melt the butter, add the garlic and sauté until softened. Add the asparagus; and stir in while heating through. Season with salt and pepper. Place on a platter, then squeeze with lemon. Sprinkle generously with cheese.

On OFL I have a menu for a spring luncheon:


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Salads for Lunch or Dinner

Greens, whether in salad or cooked, are a nice spring treat for dinners and luncheons. Dandelion greens are a classic, but always be sure to use dandelions that have not been sprayed or treated with chemicals in any way. Many times they are available in the spring in the produce section along with other greens, if you prefer to buy them. The following recipes are from my copy of Meta Given's Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking, printed in 1949.

Dandelion Green Salad

1 cup finely shredded dandelion greens, very tender
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 cup sliced radishes
1 hard cooked egg, quartered and sliced
2 tbsp. crumbled Blue Cheese
Horseradish dressing

Use only the very tender heart leaves of either the wild or cultivated dandelions and shred by cutting with a very sharp scissors. Cabbage is best shredded by using a very sharp, thin bladed knife. Combine all ingredients and toss lightly with horseradish dressing. 4 servings.

Horseradish Dressing

1/3 cup prepared horseradish
1/4 cup vinegar
1 cup salad oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. onion juice
1 tbsp. ice water
1/8 tsp. paprika

Soak horseradish in vinegar overnight. Drain in a sieve over a bowl, pressing horseradish until dry. Discard dry portion and to the strained liquid, add remaining ingredients. Beat well with a rotary beater. Makes about 1 1/3 cups.

Spinach Medley

1/2 pound clean, crisp, raw spinach
1 1/2 cups shredded lettuce
)1 cup grated raw carrots (2 large)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup sliced radishes
1/2 cup French Dressing
1/2 tsp. salt

Vegetables should be cold and crisp. Cut spinach into shreds with a sharp scissors. Cut head lettuce with a sharp knife. Grate carrots. Combine all ingredients but carrots and mix very lightly but thoroughly using two forks. Do not stir. Add the carrots and toss two or three times only. Serve. 4 servings.

Mustard Greens and Spinach with Bacon

2 pounds fresh, tender mustard greens
1/2 pound bacon
1 quart boiling water
1/2 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste
1/2 pound spinach

Wash mustard greens very thoroughly, trimming off roots and tough stems; trim and wash spinach. Put mustard greens into kettle with bacon, add water, cover and boil gently for 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper, and put spinach into kettle, pressing down well. Again cover and cook until spinach is tender, from 10 to 15 minutes. More water may be added as needed. Serve hot. 4 servings.

Watercress is another green that can be grown from seed year round: