Leek Fritters & Garlic Lemon Cream (SK recipe)

You know those bus ads that roll past you with some amazing picture of someone doing something somewhere ridiculous and at the bottom it says “taken with an iPhone”?  Yea, so my iPhone pictures don’t look anything like that.  (Maybe because my life doesn’t really look like this. Although I did pay for the ridiculous storage upgrade so I can now take thousands and thousands of pictures of baby, all doing the same thing, lying on our bed. Maybe not the same thing.)

Of course, that doesn’t stop me from thinking: now that it’s awful and dark and rainy out, maybe the iPhone camera will be able to create some magic in the kitchen.  First up, these leek fritters, taken unabashedly from the Smitten Kitchen, in honor of Rosh Hashanah.  Yes, I know that latkes are for Hanukkah and moreover, that they’re made with potatoes.  But who wouldn’t want to start the New Year, though, with some fried onions with cream and garlic?

Leek Fritters

  • 3-4 large leeks, sliced in half lengthwise and then sliced thinly crosswise
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced down to the white parts
  • about 1/4 cup flour
  • dash garlic powder
  • dash crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • butter
  • for the sauce:
    • about half a cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
    • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
    • juice from 1/2 lemon
    • a bit of lemon zest
    • pepper, salt to taste
    • optional: dash hot sauce
  • additional eggs, for frying and serving on top

**tip: if you’re serving these for dinner, this makes a comfortable amount for 2 people for dinner.  Otherwise, double the recipe if you’re serving 4, etc.

  1. Prep your vegetables.  Trim the leeks, leaving the white and pale green parts.  Cut them lengthwise and slice them thinly crosswise.  Slice up the scallions, discarding the bottom parts.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to boil, and boil the leeks for about 3-4 minutes.  Drain, and then wring all the water out using a dish towel, paper towel, or cheese cloth.  Try to get out as much water as you can.
  3. Mix the leeks and the scallions in a large bowl with your fingers, making sure to break up the clumps of leeks that will form after you wring them out.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and garlic powder.  Add to the leeks/scallions, and then add one egg.  Give it all a stir so a lumpy batter forms.
  5. Preheat an oven and a baking sheet so you can keep your batches of leeks warm.
  6. Over medium to medium-low heat, heat more butter than you think your heart wants, and then add little drops of batter to the pan, smushing each little drop so it forms a flat pancake.  Fry each side until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.  When nice and toasty, transfer to the warmed oven.  Repeat until you finish off the batter.
  7. While your fritters cook, mix together your cream sauce by adding the sour cream, garlic, lemon, lemon zest, salt, pepper and hot sauce together and whisking.
  8. When the last of your fritters is sitting in the oven, fry up a couple of eggs to finish off your meal.  Serve hot.

The Verdict:

Deb Perelman promises that these keep well in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for about a month – simply warm them up in a 325 degree oven to get them nice and crisp again.  The Husband and I have no idea if this is true, because we gobbled all of these right up.

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Cranberry Grapefruit Muffins

Here are just a few ways you can tell I’m no baker.

  1. I measure things in “handfuls,” “bunches,” “splashes,” and other oh-so-specific terms.
  2. I (always, always, always) eat the batter.  Even pancake batter.  Raw eggs, bring it on.
  3. After the first round of pancakes/muffins/coookies/insert-the-baked-good, I will often end up with just enough dough or batter to make just one GIANT insert-the-baked good.  I always go for it.

Despite being no baker, I don’t let a little thing like recipes get me down.  I had a grapefruit going bad and I didn’t want to do the healthy thing and just eat it for breakfast on its own, so I added sugar and butter and sour cream and flour and all sorts of things that are absolutely no good for you, and THESE turned out.  They were absolutely delicious.  I even measured along the way, so I could try to replicate them some time in the future.

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Cranberry Grapefruit Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • ½ tsp of baking soda
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • 1 cup white, granulated sugar
  • 2 medium-sized eggs
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • juice from one grapefruit (about 1/2 cup)
  • zest from 1/2 grapefruit
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • about a cup dried cranberries

**I bet these would be awesome with added almonds, coconut flakes, etc.  Since I don’t want to be the only ones eating them (as in, the Husband isn’t a fan, and baby is on a milk-only diet), these versions did not include those.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly butter or add baking liners to a muffin pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, add sugar and the 2 eggs.  Whisk together, then add the vanilla extract, milk, grapefruit juice and grapefruit zest.  Slowly stir in the sour cream.  Finally, whisk in the room temperature butter – you don’t want overmix or you’ll make it a little heavy, but you want the butter throughout.
  4. Slowly (slowly) add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, careful not to overmix.  Add the cranberries (and any other extra ingredients) at the end and give everything a stir.
  5. Evenly divide the mix to the muffin tray and bake for 20 minutes.

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The Verdict:

So when I made this batter, I made exactly enough for 13 muffins.  That’s right.  One full tray…and then one more go-round in the oven for just one more muffin.  It’s lucky 13 for me, though: I could eat one and no one ever has to know.  Which is a good thing, because your family is going to want the other 12.

 

Ground Turkey Tostadas with Pickled Onions and Jalapeño

There’s nothing I don’t love about Mexican food.

Onions? Check. Cilantro? Check. Heat? Check. Crispy, fried corn chips? Check. Melted, delicious dairy? Yes, please.  Something you can make with veggies or with meat, so Husband doesn’t complain about wasting away? YUP.

Because we tend to have Mexican food fairly often, I keep a lookout for interesting twists.  This quick-pickling innovation, from Cooking Light, really is as good (and as quick) as it sounds.  Reduce the amount of jalapeño if heat isn’t your thing.  But seriously, make these.

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Ground Turkey Tostadas with Pickled Onions and Jalapeño

  • 1 thinly sliced red onion, divided
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • large handful chili powder
  • about half handful ground cumin
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • small handful smoked paprika
  • small handful garlic salt
  • handful pepper
  • handful crushed red peppers
  • corn tostadas
  • to serve:
    • sour cream, cilantro, cheese, avocado
  1. Combine 1/2 of your sliced onion, vinegar, water, a little bit of sugar, about 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the jalapeño in a small saucepan over high heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook for a minute.  Remove from heat and place to the side while you make the rest of your meal.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and add the other half of the onion, along with bell pepper.  Cook down about 5 minutes, and then add ground turkey and garlic.  Break the turkey up and add all of the spices.  Cook 5-7 minutes, or until browned.
  3. Drain pickled veggie mixture.  Top tostadas evenly with the ground turkey, pickled onions and jalapeños, a bit of sour cream, avocado, cilantro – whatever makes your heart sing.

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The Verdict:

While lamenting the effectiveness of the tostada as a food delivery system, Husband agrees: we should pickle more vegetables, more often.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I officially became old about three or four Christmases ago, when I received an immersion blender.  When you open a carefully wrapped present and you’re excited to see Cuisinart peeking out at you, you know it’s all downhill from there.

On the positive side, if you own an immersion blender, you can make lots of delicious soups.  Which in my opinion, almost outweighs the fact that I now wear sneakers when I walk to work, knee braces when I run, and ear plugs when I go to the gym (that music is so LOUD!).

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

  • olive oil
  • 1-2 pounds diced & cubed butternut squash
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • fresh sage (about 8-10 leaves)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • about 3-4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy or sour cream
  • optional toppings: scallions, sour cream, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  On a large baking pan, toss the squash with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast for about 35-40 minutes.  Midway through the roasting, take the squash out and give them another quick toss before sticking them back in the oven.
  2. In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat and add the apple, onion and sage.  Cook these down gently, about 10 minutes.  Add a dash of apple cider vinegar and cook off before removing the mixture from the heat.
  3. When the squash is done roasting, add to the Dutch oven, pour the broth over the mixture and bring to a boil.  After it boils, reduce heat, cover and simmer 5-10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, and blend using an immersion blender (or in a food processor or regular blender; just be careful to do it in batches).  Add the cream or sour cream and mix thoroughly.  Serve with your choice of topping – I love this with a little addition of sour cream.

Note: You can certainly make this healthier (and/or vegan) by swapping the butter for olive oil and using milk instead of cream or even coconut/almond/soy milk.  I’ll stick with the butter and cream, myself.

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The Verdict:

This soup has been a staple in our house for a while now and was inspired by my very first cookbook, which my mom bought for me before I ever owned a pot, much less an immersion blender, and way before I even thought to judge the people walking to work in sneakers, because they were just so OLD.  We’ve come full circle here.  Also, the Husband pronounced this particular version (there are so many!) the best he’s had.  That’s saying something – we’ve eaten this soup A LOT, so I’m bringing it to the party.