Marshmallow Cream Frosting

Some months back I made chocolate whoopie pies following a recipe I found at King Arthur Flour. The cake component was good however the filling was just out of this world. I wondered at the time if it would make a good replacement for my usual cake topping. I gave it a go for my husbands recent birthday and it was delicious. Just enough sweetness to enhance, and not overpower, the cake.

Marshmallow Cream Frosting
Servings: covered a 13″x9″ cake with a bit to spare
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 3/4 cups Marshmallow Fluff
  • 2 tsp. table salt dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water
  • 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. tangerine oil

Directions:

  1. Beat the shortening, sugar and Fluff together in the bowl of a stand mixer until combined.
  2. Add the dissolved salt, vanilla and tangerine oil. Mix into the frosting and then beat for 2 minutes on high. Frosting should increase in volume.

Notes:
You can replace the tangerine oil with additional vanilla extract if you don’t have it on hand.

Marshmallow Fluff is a spreadable, white gooey confection, sometimes called marshmallow creme. There are several makers of marshmallow creme but the one I grew up with was simply known as Fluff. You can find Fluff throughout the Northeast, some Midwestern states and California according to manufacturers. If all else fails, there’s always Amazon.

Skillet Asparagus

Healthy Appetite Food Meal Stalk Green Asparagus

My mom’s favorite vegetable is asparagus. Between mother’s day and her May birthday we have plenty of chances to share it with her. I was a bit tired of the usual roasted asparagus we make though so I went for something quicker.

Skillet Asparagus
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 11-15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. fresh asparagus
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • zest from a lemon
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. You can either snap the asparagus stalks one at a time or just cut off the bottom 2″ like I do. Rinse the stalks and set aside.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the butter. Heat until the butter is melted and add the asparagus. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Toss the asparagus to coat it in butter and then cover the dish. Cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Remove the cover, toss the asparagus and cook for another 2-3 minutes until tender. Transfer asparagus to a platter.
  4. Turn off the heat under the skillet. Add the lemon juice to the skillet and scrap up any browned bits on the button of the skillet. Swirl the browned bits in the lemon juice and pour it over the plated asparagus. Garnish with the lemon zest and serve.

Notes:
Skinny asparagus will cook faster than the thicker ones. Choose a bunch with all similar thicknesses throughout if possible.

Maple-glazed Pork Roast

I’ve made this recipe several times using both pork tenderloin and pork roast. I think I prefer the pork roast; the meat to glaze ratio is higher so the sweetness of the glaze doesn’t overpower the meatiness of the dish.

If you want to make this with a pork tenderloin use 2 x 1 pound tenderloins and cook them for 15 minutes in the oven before checking the temperature.

Maple-glazed Pork Roast
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lb. boneless pork roast
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp.ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • pinch each of ground cloves and cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. While the oven heats up tie the pork roast in 3-5 places with butcher’s twine to make a more uniform “log” out of it. Sprinkle with the kosher salt and black pepper.
  3. Add the oil to a non-stick skillet and heat it over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes until it starts to smoke. Brown the roast on all sides, starting with the fattiest side, for 2-3 minutes each. Transfer the pork roast to a plate.
  4. Lower the heat to medium and drain off any excess oil. Return the skillet to the burner and add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine and bring to boil. Cooks for 30 seconds.
  5. Return the roast to skillet and coat on all sides with the glaze. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes. The center of the thickest part of the roast should register 140°F on an instant-read thermometer.
  6. Rest the pork for 5 minutes in the skillet and then transfer to the cutting board for an additional 10 minute rest.
  7. Slice into 1/4″ slices, streak with some of the remaining glazes and serve.

Notes:
If you spray your measuring cup with a bit of non-stick spray before adding the maple syrup with will pour our much more easily.

Dark Color, Robust Taste Maple Syrup (formerly know as Grade B Maple Syrup) works very well in this recipe.

Soy-glazed Chicken Thighs

This recipe is brought to you by rainy weather which ruined my plans for grilled chicken. A couple hours in a soy sauce based marinade turned “boring” old chicken thighs into something very flavorful.

Soy-glazed Chicken Thighs
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 4 hours (includes time for marination)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup dark soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup dry sherry
  • 3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil plus additional oil for browning the thighs
  • 12-16 bonless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat

Directions:

  1. In a large measuring cup or bowl combine the first 5 ingredients and whisk them together until combined.
  2. Place the trimmed chicken thighs in a large zip top bag or sealable container. Add the marinade, coating the thighs. Stash in the fridge for a minimum of 2-3 hours, Give the bag/container a shake every hour or so to recoat the thighs.
  3. Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  4. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 4 chicken thighs, “skin” side down and brown for 3 minutes. Flip the thighs and brown the second side for an additional 3 minutes. Transfer to a foil lined sheet tray.
  5. Repeat browning of the remaining thighs, heating additional oil as needed.
  6. When all the thighs are browned cover the tray with foil and transfer it to the heated oven for 20-25 minutes. The chicken should register 165&degF on an instant-read thermometer before removing.
  7. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Notes:
A 1-quart measuring cup is ideal for mixing the marinade.

Inspiration provided by the Joy of Cooking cookbook recipe for Deviled Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts.

Lemon Shrimp with Garlic Rice

Rummaging through the freezer I came across a bag of peeled, uncooked shrimp waiting for inspiration. After looking through a couple of cookbooks and scavenging the Interwebs I came across a recipe similar to the one below. I made a few modifications and, presto, dinner was served.

Lemony Shrimp with Garlic Rice
Servings: 2
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt (plus more for seasoning the shrimp)
  • 1 cup chicken stock (unsalted if you can find it)
  • 2 lemons, sliced into rings
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the rice and toss to coat with oil. Toast the rice for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the water, garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover, return to heat and reduce to low. Cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Pat the shrimp dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  4. While the rice cooks heat the chicken stock, lemon rings and paprika in a non-stick skillet over low heat until it is simmering; about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the butter and swirl it among the shrimp to create a slightly creamy sauce. Remove from the heat, add the parsley and taste. Adjust salt and pepper as desired.
  6. Serve shrimp over a generous helping of garlicky rice.

Salt “Crust” Potatoes

Like many things we try we first saw this dish prepared on a cooking show. Best I can recall it was America’s Test Kitchen however their website tells me it was Cook’s Country. They attribute the dish to Syracuse, NY. The idea is you cook small, whole, potatoes in briny water and the result is a perfectly seasoned potato. Despite the name, and the amount of salt used in preparing this dish, these potatoes taste no more salty than my regular boiled potatoes. In part that comes from the “whole potato” nature of the recipe.

I call for “baby” red potatoes here. My local megamart sells 1 1/2 pound bags of these as gourmet potatoes. I just know that they are all similarly sized and that’s a key to this recipe being a success.

Salt “Crust” Potatoes
Servings: 12-15
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 12 cups water
  • 2 1/4 cups kosher salt (see note)
  • 4 1/2 lbs. “baby” red potatoes
  • 1/2 stick (4 Tbsp.) unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley

Directions:

  1. Combine the water and salt in a Dutch oven and stir until the bulk of the salt is combined. Place over high heat until boiling. While the water comes to a boil give the potatoes a rinse and set them aside.
  2. Add the potatoes to the boiling water. Cook them until they are easily pierced with a fork, which for me is 20-25 minutes.
  3. Drain the potatoes in a colander and allow them to rest. Return the unrinsed pot to the cook top and add the butter. Once the butter melts turn off the heat and add the pepper and parsley. Swirl to combine then return the potatoes to the pot.
  4. Toss the potatoes in the pot until the flavored butter has a chance to coat all the spuds. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Notes:
I use Morton’s Kosher Salt (you know, the one with the girl holding the umbrella on the box). I vaguely remember that the original recipe suggested that different brands of kosher salt yield a different amount of salt by volume. 2 1/4 cups of Morton’s kosher salt weighs in at 130 grams, give or take a gram. If you are using a different salt then try 130 grams of it the first go around.

This recipe is based on a couple of sources including an article in The New York Times and the brief access I had to it on Cook’s Country when the episode first aired.

Seared Zucchini with Beans

Despite having hosted our friends for dinner for many of the Saturday nights over the past 20+ years I still find myself stumped fair to regularly on what to make for dinner. As a result I will often add “2 vegetables” to my grocery list with no real plan and hope for inspiration while in the produce section. Here are the results from such a recent inspiration.

Seared Zucchini with Beans
Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 red onion, 1/4″ dice
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 3 zucchini, 1/4″ dice
  • 1 28 oz. can kidney beans, drained
  • 2 tsp. Penzey’s Mural of Flavor spice blend
  • 1/2 cup water.
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onion, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent; about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, stirring it into the onions and cook until fragrant, which should be less than a minute. Push the onions and garlic to the edge of the skillet.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and increase the heat to medium high. Add the zucchini and spread it out into a single layer. Allow it to brown on this side, untouched for 3-4 minutes. Now sprinkle the zucchini with salt and stir it to redistribute the pieces. Cook for another minute.
  4. Add the beans, spice blend and water. Stir everything together and cover. Reduce the heat to low and allow it to cook until the beans are warmed through, about 5 minutes.
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Notes:
You can really use any type of bean here that you like. Hominy probably wouldn’t be my first choice but if you rinsed it then it would work.

If you don’t have the Mural of Flavors spice blend you can mix together 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, 1/2 tsp. ground coriander and the zest from a lemon or orange. Use 1 teaspoon of that and save the rest.