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Picco’s Warm Spinach Salad

20 Sep

10562588_938865354494_5022638164799507105_oA few years ago the advertising agency I was working for catered lunch for us from local Boston eatery Picco. While the pizza was to die for, it was this warm spinach salad that I absolutely fell head over heels for. It’s a seasonal salad so the second the temperature turns cooler, I look for it on their menu, but when it’s not available, (or I’m craving it on a weekday and can’t drive into the city) I like to use the following recipe to make it at home:

Warm Spinach Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon (cut into 1 inch slices)
  • 1 cup red onion (sliced)
  • 1 1/2 cups white beans
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 small clove garlic (grated)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces baby spinach
  • ¼ cup goat cheese (crumbled)
Instructions
  1. Cook the bacon in a pan and set aside reserving 2 tablespoons of bacon grease.
  2. Caramelize the onions in the remaining bacon grease and remove from heat before tossing with the beans and set aside.
  3. Add the vinegar to the pan and deglaze it.
  4. Add the reserved bacon grease, sugar, garlic and season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
  5. Assemble salad, toss with dressing, and serve immediately.
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Triple Berry Muffins

24 Feb

1/12/15 — Out of nowhere, I got the most random craving for triple berry muffins. I’ve been on a major fruit smoothie and Greek yogurt kick lately, so I was excited to try a few healthier swaps in this recipe with the flour and butter. The result is a slightly denser muffin, which was perfect on such a dreary, rainy day. They were so good I ate two four, searing hot, straight from the muffin tin!

Triple Berry Muffins

Yield: 18 muffins

Healthier Version: Sub 1/2 flour for whole wheat, sub butter with 3/4 cup applesauce + ¼ cup oil or ½ cup smart balance and ½ cup Greek yogurt; reduce sugar to 1 cup

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup butter or 1 cup margarine, melted
1 cup fresh blueberries*
1/2 cup fresh raspberry*
1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries*

*Can substitute berries for 2 cups frozen (leave frozen)

Directions

1. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients.
2. In another bowl beat the eggs,milk and butter, stir into the dry ingredients,just until moist and fold in berries.
3. Fill greased or paper lined muffin pans 3/4 full.
4. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
5. Cool for 5 minutes.
6. Remove from Pan to a wire rack.
7. Dust with powdered sugar

Cream Puffs

27 Sep

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My mom is always whipping up delicious things, but when she raved about this cream puff recipe from a local church cookbook we were both gifted a few years ago, I ran to grab it from my shelf. I LOVE cream puffs!

The recipe is essentially three steps: puffs, filling, chocolate drizzle. I recently brought them to a housewarming party where they were a huge hit, but I think I made some enemies because there weren’t exactly enough to go around (!!!). So keep that in mind and double the recipe — they won’t go to waste, trust me.

In the culinary world, the puff dough is called “choux pastry” or “pâte à choux”. Without geeking out too much, I find it so cool that this dough was created by Catherine de Medici’s chef (since we love all things Florence). Anyways, the pastry dough is a breeze to make in a pinch since the ingredients are kitchen staples like eggs, butter, and flour.

creampuffs3

creampuffs2

Ingredients

Puffs:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 c. water
1 c. flour
3-4 eggs

Filling:
1 sm. box instant vanilla pudding
1 c. whipping cream
1 c. milk

Drizzle
3 T. butter
2 T. cocoa powder (light frosting)
1/4 c. cocoa powder (med. frosting)
1/2 c. cocoa powder (dark frosting)
1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
2-3 T. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Directions

Puffs: Place butter and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add flour to pan all at once. Remove from heat and stir vigorously until a ball of dough forms. Place ball in mixing bowl and let cool for 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each one. Dough should be stiff and smooth. Add 4th egg if needed. Place rounded spoonfuls of dough 2-inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in oven at 375 for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. (Puffs should look dull, not glossy.) Carefully cut tops off and cool on rack.

Filling: Place cream in mixing bowl,  add pudding mix and beat until thick. Gradually add milk until pudding is the right consistency. Fill puffs no more than 24 hours before serving.

Chocolate drizzle: Melt butter in saucepan or microwave. Add cocoa in amount you prefer. Heat mixture until it boils, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Pour into mixing bowl. Let cool completely. Add confectioners’ sugar, alternately with milk and vanilla until it is spreading consistency.

After assembling, I like to refrigerate mine until just before serving.

Hope you enjoy!