Category Archives: Recipes

Thanksgiving 2022 – Menu & Recipes

This year, my sister and her family came to visit us for Thanksgiving. It took me forever to decide in a menu, nothing really inspired me. I knew I wanted to make poultry for dinner – both as a stand for the traditional turkey that nobody likes, and because my mother, who won’t eat poultry, wasn’t coming, so it seemed like a good opportunity. First I thought about making Basque Chicken, and from there do a Basque meal. But I couldn’t find enough vegetarian recipes without peppers to satisfy my daughter’s likes. Then I read a post on FB that mentioned someone was making chicken and dumplings, a recipe I just love and that my father used to make when I was a little kid. So I thought I’d make a menu based on family recipes – but it turns out most of what I used to eat growing up is not special enough for a Thanksgiving dinner. So, I finally decided to make Calypso Chicken, because it was an old favorite, and ended up with an “old favorite” menu. Originally, it was /also/ supposed to include a bunch of persimmon dishes: soup, lassi, sorbet and pie – but this year my persimmons are ripening slowly, so I only managed to get a couple for the soup.

I didn’t sleep well the night before Thanksgiving, however, and I was really exhausted through dinner. That means that I messed up some things as I slept walk through it.

This is what I ended up with.

Salad

So my original intention was to make a salad based on this Pear & Goat Cheese Salad with Caramelized Walnuts and Cranberries recipe I’ve made before and liked. But the road to hell is paved with new intentions. First, I decided to use butter lettuce instead of mixed green because my kids – who ended up not eating it anyway – only like lettuce. Then I decided to cut corners and use a store-bought Raspberry Poppy Seed dressing instead of making a vinaigrette with olive oil and raspberry vinegar. And I decided to use an apple instead of a pear. But when the time came to actually make the salad, I realized I’d forgotten to buy the cranberries and I had ran out of goat cheese. Then it turned out that my brother in law, like one of my daughters, only likes Caesar salad. So I put out the lettuce, all the dressings I had and the caramelized walnuts – forgetting the apple and green onion slices. At least the raspberry dressing was good.

Buttnernut Squash, Carrot and Persimmon Soup

While most of my persimmons didn’t ripen in time, I was able to find two of them ripe enough for this recipe. They gave a very pleasant sweetness to this soup. At first, I felt the soup was too carrot-y, but that flavor profile mellowed the second day. Still, next time I might use just one carrot. It’s slightly modified from superchef’s recipe at allrecipes.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled & thickly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 20 butternut squash cubes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • pulp from 2 Hachiya persimmons
  • 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • salt & black pepper to taste

Directions

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and bay leaf and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the butternut squash and continue cooking for 5 minutes, also stirring occasionally.

Add the white wine and continue cooking until it evaporates. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the persimmon pulp. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Alternatively, wait until it cools down a bit and transfer to a blender, then return to the pot. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Assorted Appetizers

For my appetizers, I reverted mostly to old family favorites. I hadn’t made bacon-wrapped bananas in a long time, and I thought it would go well with the Caribbeanish theme of the dinner. This time I used a maple hickory bacon and it was delicious. I had originally planned to make coconut shrimp, but then I thought I had too many sweet flavors in this meal, so I decided to do shrimp wrapped in cheese and bacon instead – though it was a bit repetitive with the bananas. This time I used Havarti cheese and the maple bacon, and my husband loved them (but he always does).

The goat cheese & caramelized onion tart was a variation on my blue cheese & caramelized onion squares from yester holiday meals. I simply substituted goat cheese for blue and thyme for rosemary. My daughter, who doesn’t like blue cheese, loved it but I think the rest of us prefer it with blue cheese. Still, it’s an easy appetizer to make and you can make the caramelized onions in advance. I used Vidalia onions this time, but any onion will do.

The Sundried Tomatoes and Garlic Butter Bruschettas, from a recipe I found at Scrambled Chefs. It’s not really bruschetta but cheesy garlic bread with chopped sundried tomatoes on top. BUT it was very good cheesy garlic bread, mostly because it had a lot of garlic and I used a lot of butter on each slice.

Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onion Tart

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 4 large onions, sliced
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 8 oz goat cheese
  • 2 puff pastry sheets, defrosted
  • 1 Tbsp chopped thyme

Directions

Heat a thin layer of olive oil over medium-high heat in a sauté pan. Add the sliced onions and turn heat to medium. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Season with salt and stir in sugar, if using. Continue cooking for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn heat to low and continue cooking until the onions get the consistency and sweetness you want. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 425F. Grease a large baking sheet or cover it with parchment paper.

Set puff pastry sheets on the baking sheet. Spread goat cheese on the sheets, leaving about a 1/2 ” margin. Spread caramelized onions on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle chopped thyme on top. Pinch the edges of the tarts, making a border. Bake until the the crust is golden, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Sundried Tomatoes and Garlic Butter Bruschettas

Ingredients

  • 1 baguette
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 5 garlic cloves, minched
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 cup Mozarella or other shredded cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup chopped sundried tomatoes

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F

Cut baguette into inch-thick slices

Place the butter in a small bowl and stir until soft. Add the parsley, garlic and salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Spread butter on baguette slices. Arrange on baking sheet. Top each slice with shredded cheeses and top with chopped sundried tomatoes. Bake until the cheese starts to brown, about 5-7′

Calypso Chicken & Roasted Vegetables

Calypso Chicken is a dish that you can find throughout the Caribbean in different iterations. I’d made a Dominican recipe originally and repeated it for this dinner. Alas, by this time in the meal I was too tired and full, and went to bed before tasting it, leaving it to my husband to do the honors. He apparently just served the chicken without the sauce, and thought it was just OK, though my daughter said she liked it. We all enjoyed the leftovers the next day, however, when I did heat them up and serve them with the sauce. It’s really a solid dish. I made roasted potatoes, carrots, green beans and asparagus to go with it – I just mixed them with olive oil, garlic powder, oregano and salt and pepper, and I’m told people enjoyed them. There were very few left the next day. I had also planned to make air fried plantain slices, but I was too tired to follow through with that.

Granny’s Sponge cake with lemon frosting

This used to be my favorite cake as a child, one that I would ask my Grandmother and later my aunt Gladys, to make for my birthday. I’ve made it a couple of times before and my daughter specifically asked that I make it for Thanksgiving. While I didn’t eat it the night of the meal, as I was already in bed by then, everyone else enjoyed it and we had the leftovers the next day. I was extremely proud that the cake tasted exactly like I remembered it from my youth. I made it with no whipped cream in the filling and only 1/4 cup of whipped cream for the frosting. I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary, and I think my grandmother probably didn’t use it, but it does make it easier to spread. In any case, both the cake and the frosting came out perfectly and I was glad that my sister could try something my grandmother – who died years before she was born – made.

Marga’s Party & Holiday Menus & Recipes

HelloFresh Coconut Curry Chicken Recipe

So fast and easy, with stuff you are likely to have around

I’m often amazed at how HelloFresh comes up with very easy, very simple recipes that are, however, super tasty – specially now, when they’ve made their recipes quicker and simpler, both to save customer’s time and their own profits. This recipe is a prime example. It’s a complete cheat curry and one I think I should be able to recreate. What makes it particularly fast is that it’s made with pre-cut chicken, but buying tenders and cutting them into pieces shouldn’t take that long. I’m planning to make it for my vegan daughter, though I will have to figure out what to use instead of peppers, as she doesn’t like them.

The recipe below is for two portions, double for four.

Thai Coconut Curry Chicken

Ingredients

  • cooking oil
  • 1 red/orange/yellow bell pepper, cored and seeded and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • salt to taste
  • 10 oz chicken tenders, cut into 1″ strips
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp chicken stock concentrate
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Instructions

Heat a generous drizzle of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and salt to taste. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and a pinch of salt and continue sautéing, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes, or until the chicken browns. Add the curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the coconut milk, the chili sauce, stock concentrate, sugar and lime juice. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low and cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and lime juice. Sprinkle chopped cilantro and serve over rice.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Jazmine rice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • salt to taste
  • zest from 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Instructions

Place rice, water and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in lime zest and chopped cilantro.

Braised Short Ribs with Pomegranate Molasses

I have been cooking for over 30 years, but I pretty much never cook without a recipe. I’m not a particularly creative person – and I’m anxious enough to believe that if I can’t anchor myself to a recipe, I’ll screw it up. So I was pretty nervous making this. I did look at several recipes out there, but none of them were exactly what I wanted. So I combined them, skipped what I didn’t want to use (carrots and celery) and tried to think of what flavors would work well together. And, of course, I used what I already had at home (thus the ginger garlic paste and pomegranate molasses).

The results were great. A little greasy (I used more bacon than what I’m recommending in the recipe below), but delicious. Maybe still not the ultimate short rib recipe, but getting close.

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs short ribs
  • kosher salt & pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 4 strips bacon, cut into 1″ squares
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup port wine
  • 2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses or concentrate
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 6-8 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 Tbsp corn or potato starch

Directions

Preheat oven to 300F

Season short ribs with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Pour a very thin layer of oil in a wide oven safe lidded sauté pan or dutch oven, if needed. Heat over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Cook until the fat renders. Remove the bacon bits (feel free to eat them, you won’t use them).

Working in two batches, add the short ribs to the grease and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside. Pour any excessive grease out.

Add the chopped onions, turn heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft. Add the ginger garlic paste and cook for 30 seconds. Add 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until dry.

Add the red wine and deglaze the pan. Add the port, pomegranate molasses and beef broth. Mix well and bring to a boil. Return short ribs to the pan. Add the sage leaves. Add enough water to submerge the short ribs. Cover, put in the oven, and cook for 3 hours.

Remove from the oven. Gently remove the short ribs to a plate and set aside. Place the pan on the stove and turn heat to medium-high. In a small bowl, mix corn starch with about 1/4 cup of the liquid from the pan. Whisk into the sauce in the pan. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Cook for a few minutes until it starts to thicken, then return short ribs to the pan and warm for a few minutes before serving.

Garlic Braised Short Ribs With Red Wine

I made this recipe last night, as Safeway had a great sale (great as in, the same price that short ribs were at just a handful of years ago – yes, I’m not an old lady that decries how expensive everything has gotten) on short ribs last week. The NYT has a similar sounding recipe, but it’s behind a paywall, so I looked for something that approximated it.

It was good, but nothing to write home about. Just a standard short rib recipe. On the plus side, it was an easy recipe to make and my non-vegetarian daughter liked it. She thought it looked horrible and had no hopes for it, but she was hungry enough to try it, and was pleasantly surprised. I skipped the parsley and lemon zest at the end, simply because I forgot about it. They might have given the recipe the ummph need it to elevate it. I’ll see if I remember to add them to the leftovers.

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs bone-in short ribs
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 2 whole garlic, sliced in half crosswise
  • 2 white onions, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 275°F

Season short ribs with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat a thin layer of oil in a large, lidded, oven-safe sauté pan over high heat. Working in batches, add the short ribs and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.

Turn heat down to medium and add the garlic, cut side down. Push to a side of the pan.

Add the chopped onions, celery and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft – about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the vegetables.

Add the wine, deglace the pan, and let boil for 2 minutes. Add the beef stock and the thyme and bring to a boil. Gently return the short ribs to the pan. Add enough water to cover the ribs. Bring to a boil, cover, turn off the heat and carefully place the pan in the oven.

Cook for 3 to 4 hours, until the ribs are cooked through and tender. Add the parsley and lemon zest and serve.

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Here are some other short ribs recipes I’ve cooked in the past, if you are looking for inspiration. All of these were good as well, just not the ultimate recipe:

Denali’s Toast – Recipe

My oldest daughter came up with this loaded toast and liked it so much that she made it again. Denali, the cat, was not very amused, maybe because she knew my daughter wasn’t planning to share. Here is the recipe for anyone in search of inspiration.

Denali’s Toast

Layer in order

  • Sliced bread, toasted
  • Hummus
  • Avocado
  • Sliced or smashed fresh tomatoes
  • Fried egg
  • Season with dill, onion powder, paprika, turmeric and black pepper

Roasted Tri-Tip with Mexican Chorizo stuffing

A recipe

Stuffed Tri-tip, cut about half way through.

Tri-tip is a very Californian cut of meat, it comes from the “bottom sirloin sub primal” and it has a very distinctive triangular shape. It’s a very lean cut of meat, but quite tender, and can be grilled, roasted, slow cooked with bbq sauce or even thinly sliced for everything from bulgogi, to beef Stroganoff to stir fries. In California, you can usually buy either trimmed – with the otherwise thick layer of fat surrounding it removed – or untrimmed. The untrimmed version often goes on sale at my local Safeway, which makes it a very tempting cut to get during these times when meat prices are through the roof.

I’ve been cooking tri-tip for over twenty years, but it never occurred to me to check whether this cut was used in Argentinian cuisine. So it was only last week that I found out that tri-tip is colita de cuadril, which in Argentina is usually stuffed and then grilled. I don’t think my father ever made it, I don’t have any childhood memories of stuffed meat, beyond matambre, which is actually thin flank steak rolled around the stuffing. Of course, as soon as I ran across these Argentinian colita de cuadril recipes I wanted to ask my dad about it, but he passed away a couple of years ago. Alas, I did write about it on Facebook and tagged him – and a couple of his friends responded telling me about it. That was very sweet, and I’m writing it down here so I can remember how nice it felt.

In any case, I had bought a twin pack of tri-tip roasts on sale and had used one to make Floribbean Tri-tip Roast with Chimichurri Verde, so I had another one already trimmed and ready to be stuffed. There are many ideas for stuffings online, and this one sounded particularly good. I did adapt it considerably to account for my taste and ingredients available in California (in other words, I did not use blood sausage).

I roasted the tri-tip rather than grilling it, and I overcooked it (you might want to cook it for 30 minutes total and check to see if it’s done), but overall it was a very tasty dish and I would make it again – though what I really want to do is experiment with different stuffings, so if tri-tip continues to be on sale this summer, you can expect more recipes.

The hardest part of making stuffed tri-tip is cutting the tri-tip. You want to cut as wide and deep a hole as you can without opening up any sides. I found that cutting a couple of inches deep at a time worked best. But I also found that I didn’t have a knife long enough to go all the way to the end, and my hand was too big to get inside it. I think I might invest in a long knife for future tri-tips.

Ingredients

  • 1 tri-tip roast
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 thick bacon slices, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 large leek, trimmed and white and stalk thinly sliced in semi-circles
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 small apple, diced
  • 1 9oz Mexican chorizo
  • 4 – 6 oz fresh Mozzarella, cut into big chunks.

Directions

Preheat oven or grill to 300°F.

Trim excess fat from both sides of the tri-tip. Make a wide incision on the center of the larger end of the tri-tip and cut across the wide side, being careful to not pierce the sides. Continue cutting deeper and deeper, as wide as you can without piercing the sides and as far as you can get. Set aside while you prepare the filling.

Heat oil over medium heat in a sauté pan. Add the bacon bits and cook until the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften. Add the leek and cook for a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the apple and cook for a couple more minutes. Remove the chorizo from its casing and add to the sauté pan. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the chorizo is cooked through.

Stuff the tri-tip alternating between Mozzarella chunks and stuffing, going as deep into the tri-tip as possible and filling it up as much as you can. If you are grilling it, tie the roast shut with kitchen string.

Transfer roast to a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes per side. Alternatively, place on the grill over indirect heat and cook for about an hour, turning half way.

Kashmiri Masala Recipe

This masala is wonderful, not at all spicy but very tasty.

  • 1″ cinnamon stick
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 Indian bay leaf
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • a dash of ground mace

Heat a dry saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cumin seeds and fennel seeds. Toast for a few minutes, stirring, until the spices are toasted and fragrant. Transfer to an electric grinder, add the bay leaf and ground into a powder. Mix in the nutmeg and the mace.

Based on this recipe at Archana’s Kitchen

Marga’s International Recipes

Please Comment on My Recipes & More

If you see any of my blog postings, it’s very easy to just comment below them. However, most of the recipes I share are actually on static pages that don’t allow for commenting. So I’m creating this blog entry to allow people to comment on any of those recipes or anything else on my site.

Please write your comment below.

Creamy Pesto Sauce Recipe

My basil has been incredible this year – at least the one I keep by my kitchen window. It started from a small pot I got at the supermarket in the spring and since then it’s grown, grown and grown. It’s done significantly better than the basil we’re keeping on a pot inside.

And what better to do with basil than to make creamy pesto? The recipe below is very basic but it works. You may need to use less Parmesan-Romano cheese if you use a high quality one – I just went with a pre-shredded supermarket brand because it’s cheap and easy. I used walnuts, as I already had them, and they’re far cheaper than pine nuts – but, of course, pine nuts are tastier and more traditional.

If you are looking for a vegan version, try this one.

Creamy Pesto Sauce

  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 5 garlic cloves, 3 whole and 2 minced
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan-Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil plus more for sautéing
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Using an electric food processor, puree the basil leaves, whole garlic cloves, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, pine nuts and salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Add the chopped garlic and sauteé for 30 seconds. Add the pesto sauce and sauteé for another 30 seconds. Add the cream and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes.

Apple Pie Granita – Recipe

This apple pie granita tastes exactly like frozen apple pie, and it’s absolutely delicious. I served it as a palate cleanser for my 2020 Christmas Eve dinner, though it’s probably too sweet for that. It would work just as well as dessert. Everyone enjoyed it nonetheless.

I made it using Martinelli’s apple juice rather than “natural-style apple juice” like the original recipe called for, because that’s what I had at home. If I made it again using regular apple juice, as I did, I’d probably reduce the sugar to 1/4 cup or leave it off altogether.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups apple juice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a dash of nutmeg
  • a dash of allspice

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Transfer it to an 8″x8″ glass baking dish. Place in the freezer until the sides start to freeze, about 1 to 2 hours. Using a fork, break and mix and put back in the freezer for another 2 hours. Break again with a fork and transfer to small serving glasses. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve.

Based on Emerile Lagasse’s recipe at Food & Wine magazine.

2020 Christmas Eve Dinner

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