FLAVORS OF '09

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Local produce, comfort foods, decadent treats: This year's Taste section shared a bounty of recipes.

We took advantage of seasonal foods such as spring berries with an orange and almond shortcake, summer garlic scapes with a fresh and tangy garlic scape pesto and fall apples in an easy apple crisp cooked up in a skillet.

A warm and chocolatey brownie lava dessert and a decadent dessert-for-breakfast - french toast made with slices of angel food cake - were deemed perfect for celebrating a special occasion.

We served up some easy but flavorful dinners, including a roasted shrimp cocktail and an orange chicken dish that's faster - and almost as easy - than your average take-out order.

A traditional chili served over pasta fulfills that craving for comfort food and takes the edge off a winter chill.

In a story about helping use up staples in your pantry, we revisited the classic Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. All that garlic doesn't go to waste: You can eat the cloves spread like butter on bread and eat it with the chicken.

In today's section are nine of our favorites from 2009.

Angel Food French Toast

For Mother's Day, we tried this iteration of French toast, which takes light and airy angel food cake right over the top by slicing it up and cooking it in egg. Moms - and everyone else, for that matter - will like this option for dessert or breakfast.

Makes: 10 servings

1

angel food cake (store-bought)

6

egg yolks plus 1 whole egg (or use a total of 4 whole eggs)

1 1/2

cups milk

1

tablespoon vanilla

1

tablespoon butter

Slice cake into thick wedges. In a shallow dish, beat egg yolks and egg (or eggs) slightly, then whisk in milk and vanilla. Soak wedges in egg mixture for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side.

Melt butter in a nonstick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Cook cake wedges in batches, a minute or 2 per side, until golden brown. Serve with syrup, fresh fruit and yogurt or whipped cream.

Nutrition information

Per serving: 144 calories, 5 grams protein, 5 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 18 grams carbohydrate, trace fiber, 153 milligrams cholesterol, 237 milligrams sodium

Adapted from recipezaar.com

Ina Garten's Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

Ina Garten gives the classic shrimp cocktail a twist in her book "Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics." Roasting the shrimp with olive oil, salt and pepper is even faster than poaching and just as tasty.

Makes: 6 to 8 servings

Shrimp:

2

pounds (12 to 15 count) shrimp

1

tablespoon good olive oil

1/2

teaspoon kosher salt

1/2

teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sauce:

1/2

cup Heinz chili sauce

1/2

cup Heinz ketchup

3

tablespoons prepared horseradish

2

teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2

teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4

teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place them on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt and pepper and spread them in 1 layer. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through. Set aside to cool.

For the sauce, combine the chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco. Serve as a dip with the shrimp.

Nutrition information

Per serving (based on 8): 171 calories, 23 grams protein, 4 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 172 milligrams cholesterol, 687 milligrams sodium

From Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, by Ina Garten

Nancy Longo's Chili

Chef Nancy Longo's dish takes a traditional chili and serves it over pasta, creating a comfort-food favorite, especially when it's cold outside.

Makes: 10 servings

12

cloves garlic, chopped fine

1

bunch garlic shoots, chopped fine (see note)

1

bunch green onions, chopped fine

3

large yellow onions, cut into 1/2 -inch dice

2

tablespoons butter

1

pound ground beef

1

pound ground pork

4

cups diced plum tomatoes, canned, with juice

1

cup low-sodium tomato juice

1

cup cooked pinto beans

1

cup kidney beans

1

cup beef demiglace or 2 cups good beef broth

3

chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped to paste

1

tablespoon Tabasco sauce

2

tablespoons brown sugar

3

tablespoons ground cumin

2

tablespoons ground coriander

3

tablespoons chili powder

2

tablespoons fresh lime juice

2

teaspoons cinnamon

1

teaspoon kosher salt (if needed)

1

box angel-hair pasta (about 16 ounces), cooked according to package directions

2

cups double Gloucester with chives cheese or a good sharp cheddar

Saute garlic, garlic shoots, green onions and yellow onions in butter until translucent. Add beef and pork and saute until cooked.

Add tomatoes with their juice, beans and remaining ingredients except pasta and cheese. (Use the salt only if needed, because the beef broth might be a bit salty if it is not homemade.)

Cook the chili until it has thickened and has a gravylike consistency. Serve over angel-hair pasta with cheese on top.

Note: If you can't find garlic shoots, substitute 3 more cloves of garlic.

Nutrition information

Per serving: 585 calories, 35 grams protein, 22 grams fat, 10 grams saturated fat, 60 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams fiber, 89 milligrams cholesterol, 1,034 milligrams sodium

Courtesy of chef Nancy Longo of Pierpoint restaurant

Garlic Scape Pesto

The curly garlic scape made its appearance at many a farmers market this summer, confusing some with its curly, scallion-like appearance. The scape, which is the flowering, curly, central stalk of the garlic plant, has a pleasing, mild garlic flavor that translates well in this pesto. Try it on pasta or crackers or crusty bread.

Makes: 8 servings

1/4

pound garlic scapes, chopped into one-inch lengths (seed bulb portion and above discarded)

1/4

cup pine nuts

1/2

cup olive oil

1/2

cup grated Parmesan cheese

3

tablespoons lemon juice

1

teaspoon salt or more to taste

Puree scapes and nuts in a food processor until finely chopped. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil until smooth. Stir in Parmesan, lemon juice and salt to taste. Serve on bread, crackers or pasta.

Nutrition information

Per serving: 189 calories, 3 grams protein, 18 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 5 grams carbohydrate, trace fiber, 4 milligrams cholesterol, 370 milligrams sodium

Adapted from a recipe by Rita Calvert, which appeared in Edible Chesapeake Skillet Apple Crisp

Tart apples meet hearty oats in this easy dessert, which is topped with a tang of lemon.

Makes: 8-10 servings

6

tart apples such as Granny Smiths, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1

vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out with the tip of a knife

3/4

cup (packed) light brown sugar

1

tablespoon corn starch

finely grated zest of 2 lemons, juice of 1

1

teaspoon ground cinnamon

1

cup all purpose flour

1

cup granulated sugar

1

cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2

teaspoon baking soda

1/2

teaspoon fine sea salt

12

tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place the apples in a large bowl. Add the vanilla seeds, brown sugar, cornstarch, zest and juice of the first lemon, and cinnamon to the apples and toss to coat. Transfer the apple mixture to a 10-inch skillet and set aside. To make the topping, in a medium bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, oats, baking soda, salt and zest from the second lemon. Add the butter and use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour mixture until no pieces are larger than small peas. Sprinkle the flour mixture evenly over the apple mixture. Bake for 1 hour, until the apple filling is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm.

Nutrition information

Per serving (based on 10): 375 calories, 15 grams fat, 9 grams saturated fat, 3 grams protein, 62 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 37 milligrams cholesterol, 186 milligrams sodium

From The Blackberry Farm Cookbook by Sam Beall (Clarkson Potter)

Brownie Lava Dessert

This warm and gooey chocolate treat is perfect for Valentine's Day, provided you want your sweetie to stick around forever.

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

1/2

cup pecan pieces

3 1/2

ounces good bittersweet chocolate

1

stick unsalted butter, cubed

1

cup minus 1 tablespoon sugar

2

extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4

teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2

cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the pecan pieces into a baking dish and lightly toast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, break up the chocolate and put it in a medium saucepan. Add the butter and melt gently over very, very low heat, stirring frequently.

Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, then gradually stir in the eggs, followed by the vanilla extract.

When those ingredients are thoroughly mixed, stir in the flour, then, finally, the nuts. When there are no more floury streaks, scrape down the sides of the pan and transfer the mixture to a greased, 7-by-2 1/2 -inch round or oval baking dish.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the mixture is set on top and there is a soft, gooey layer at the bottom. Serve immediately, alone or with light cream or vanilla ice cream on the side.

Nutrition information

Per serving (based on 6 servings): 468 calories, 6 grams protein, 31 grams fat, 15 grams saturated fat, 48 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 122 milligrams cholesterol, 29 milligrams sodium

Adapted from "Heavenly Chocolate Desserts," edited by Celine Hughes

Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic

The classic 40 Cloves of Garlic recipe is also good for helping use up any excess garlic before it goes bad. In these economic times, who can afford to let food go to waste?

Makes: 8 servings

2/3

cup olive oil

8

chicken drumsticks and 8 thighs (or 16 of either)

4

ribs celery, cut into long strips

2

medium onions, chopped

6

sprigs parsley

1

teaspoon dried tarragon

1/2

cup dry vermouth or white wine

2 1/2

teaspoons salt

1/4

teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

pinch nutmeg

40

cloves garlic, unpeeled

French bread for serving

Put the oil in a shallow dish, add the chicken pieces, and turn them to coat all sides evenly with the oil.

Cover the bottom of a heavy 6-quart casserole pan with a mixture of the celery and onions. Add the parsley and tarragon, and lay the chicken pieces on top. Pour the vermouth or wine over them, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add nutmeg, and tuck the garlic cloves around and between the chicken pieces.

Cover the top of the casserole tight with aluminum foil and then put the lid on the pan (this creates an airtight seal so the steam won't escape). Bake in a 375-degree oven for 1 1/2 hours, without removing the cover.

Serve the chicken, pan juices and whole garlic cloves with thin slices of heated French bread or toast. The garlic should be squeezed from the root end of its papery husk onto the bread or toast, spread like butter and eaten with the chicken.

Nutrition information

Per serving: 462 calories, 31 grams protein, 33 grams fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 9 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 105 milligrams cholesterol, 859 milligrams sodium

Adapted from "Epicurean Delight, the Life and Times of James Beard," by Evan Jones, reprinted on leitesculinaria.com

Orange Chicken With Scallions

This adaptation of a recipe from the third volume of Fine Cooking's annual cookbook lets you make a great version of Orange Chicken at home. You can save money by buying a bulk package of bone-in chicken thighs and removing the skin yourself.

Makes: 4 servings

1

large navel orange

1 1/2

tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2

tablespoons rice vinegar

1

tablespoon light-brown sugar

1/8

teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

2

pounds chicken thighs or boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes (skin removed)

3/4

teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

2

extra-large egg whites

1/3

cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch

4

tablespoons canola or peanut oil

1

bunch scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (keep whites and greens separate)

2

cups cooked white or brown rice

Using a vegetable peeler, shave the zest from the orange in long, wide strips. If necessary, remove any large patches of bitter white pith from the zest strips with a paring knife. Set aside zest strips. Juice the orange into a small bowl and mix with the soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar and red-pepper flakes.

Sprinkle the chicken with the salt. In a mini chopper or food processor, process the egg whites, cornstarch and a pinch of salt until smooth. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the cornstarch batter.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet or large stir-fry pan over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Using tongs, transfer about half the chicken to the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook, flipping every minute or so, until the chicken browns and crisps all over and is firm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes.

With clean tongs, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Add the remaining oil to the skillet and repeat the cooking process with the remaining chicken; transfer to the plate.

Put the orange zest strips in the skillet and cook, stirring, until they darken in spots, 15 to 30 seconds. Stir the orange-juice mixture and add it to the pan. Let it boil for about 10 seconds and then add the chicken and the scallion whites.

Cook, stirring often, until the sauce reduces to a glaze and the chicken is just cooked through - check by cutting into a thicker piece - 1 to 2 minutes.

If the chicken isn't cooked through, but the glaze is cooking away, add a couple of tablespoons of water and continue cooking. Serve over rice, sprinkled with the scallion greens.

Nutrition information

Per serving: 614 calories, 39 grams protein, 31 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 44 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 237 milligrams cholesterol, 1,013 milligrams sodium

Adapted from "Fine Cooking Annual, Vol. 3," by the editors and contributors of "Fine Cooking"

Orange Almond Strawberry Shortcakes With Whipped Cream

This decadent dessert takes advantage of whatever berries are in season. The original recipe calls for strawberries, which mix well with the light almond and citrus flavors in the shortcake, but you can also use whatever berry you can find. Dollops of whipped cream finish it off.

Makes: 8 servings

For the shortcakes

1 3/4

cups all-purpose flour

1/4

cup granulated sugar

1 1/2

teaspoons baking powder

1/2

teaspoon salt

2

teaspoons grated orange zest

1

cup cold heavy cream

1

large egg

1/2

cup (2 ounces) sliced almonds

For the topping

6

cups cleaned, stemmed, sliced strawberries (about 3 pints)

1/4

cup granulated sugar

1 1/2

cups cold heavy whipping cream

2

tablespoons confectioner's sugar

1/2

teaspoon grated orange zest

1

teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4

teaspoon almond extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a baking sheet.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the orange zest. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the whipping cream and set aside. In a small bowl and using a fork, beat the whipping cream and egg to blend them. Pour the cream mixture over the flour mixture. Stir the mixture together until a soft dough forms, and the flour is incorporated.

Gather the dough up and form it into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll or pat the ball of dough into an 8-inch circle and use a 2-inch or larger round cutter to cut out shortcakes. Place them 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Gather the scraps together, pat out and cut the remaining shortcakes, placing them on the baking sheet. Use a pastry brush to brush the reserved cream over the top of each. Sprinkle with sliced almonds, pressing them gently onto the shortcakes. Bake about 16 minutes, until the bottoms are light brown. Cool on the baking sheet.

For the topping, in a large bowl, stir the sliced strawberries and granulated sugar together. Let sit for 15 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream, confectioners' sugar, orange zest, almond extract and vanilla until soft peaks form, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Use a fork to split each shortcake in half horizontally and place on an individual plate, cut side up. Spoon a dollop of whipped cream over each half. Spoon strawberries including some of the juice over the cream. Top with additional whipped cream. Serve.

Nutrition information

Per serving: 503 calories, 33 grams fat, 18 grams saturated fat, 129 milligrams cholesterol, 8 grams protein, 48 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 253 milligrams sodium

Courtesy of Elinor Klivans

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