Heather's Florida Kitchen

Seasonally inspired easy recipes for the home cook.
Cranberry Citrus Pecan Wild Rice Salad

Cranberry Citrus Pecan Wild Rice Salad

Cranberry Citrus Pecan Rice Salad (Photo courtesy Florida Citrus Commission)

Cranberry Citrus Pecan Wild Rice Salad (Photo courtesy Florida Citrus Commission)

Cranberry Citrus Pecan Wild Rice Salad is full of Florida flavor. The chilled dish is also a  great choice for a football bowl game tailgate or New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day potluck gatherings. If transporting, pack the prepared rice mixture, cranberry mixture, fresh-washed salad greens and orange zest separately in 4 sealable plastic bags. Simple assemble onto a platter and serve.

Cranberry Citrus Pecan Wild Rice Salad
Yield: 6 servings

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
2 cups wild rice, uncooked
2 cups Florida orange juice
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
Fine sea salt to taste
3/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup seeded and chopped Florida orange segments
1/2 cup seeded and chopped Florida grapefruit segments
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse-ground pepper to taste
1 cup mixed salad greens
Fresh orange zest for garnish

1. Place 2 tablespoons olive oil and onions in medium saucepan; sauté 3 to 4 minutes. Add wild rice, orange juice, water and bay leaf; season to taste with salt. Cook 20 to 25 minutes, or until rice is tender but not overcooked (rice grains will split open when cooked). Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf; fluff with fork and refrigerate until chilled.
2. Combine chilled rice, celery, cranberries, nuts, orange and grapefruit segments, sherry vinegar and olive oil in large mixing bowl; mix to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Place small bed of mixed greens on serving plates and spoon wild rice salad on top. Garnish with orange zest.
SOURCE: ADAPTED FROM THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CITRUS

Spatchcock Roasted Lemon Chicken

Spatchcock Roasted Lemon Chicken

Spatchcock Roasted Lemon Chicken

Spatchcock Roasted Lemon Chicken

In November I told you about the spatchcock method of speeding up the cooking of small turkey. The technique is similar to butterflying meat and it’s one of my favorite ways to roast chicken. Today I am sharing my simple recipe for Spatchcock Roasted Lemon Chicken. It isn’t the prettiest presentation but it is the most delicious. You can add shallots or fresh garlic to the bed of herbs that serves as the cooking surface on top of the pan rack. The herbs flavor and keep the bird from sticking to the grate. In addition, the rack allows the fat to drip away from the bird. The resulting pan juices can be used for gravy.

Spatchcock Roasted Lemon Chicken
Yield: 6 servings

2 fresh oregano sprigs
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 or 3 bay leaves
1 lemon, cut in 4 wedges
1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chicken
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil or butter

1. Preheat the oven to 450F. Place a rack brushed with olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet or shallow roasting pan. Arrange the herbs and bay leaves in the center of the rack.
2. Lay the chicken on a cutting board breast-side down. Cut out the backbone with sturdy kitchen shears. Open the chicken. Use your hands (I like to put on food handling gloves for this) and a sharp knife (I like a cleaver for heft) to crack the bones and flatten the breasts and rib cage. The bird will be lumpy. Rub butter or olive oil on all exposed surfaces. Season with salt and pepper and, using 2 of the lemon wedges, finish with a light spritz of fresh lemon juice all over the top. Place all of the lemon wedges on the herb bed.
3. Place the chicken, skin-side up, on top of the herb bed and lemons. Roast until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165F, about 40 minutes. Let the chicken rest 5 minutes before serving.

Rolled Christmas Sugar Cookie Cutouts

Rolled Christmas Sugar Cookie Cutouts

Rolled Christmas Sugar Cookie Cutouts

Rolled Christmas Sugar Cookie Cutouts

There is that one point in the holiday rush in which you take a deep breath and realize that life is not a photo shoot. For the home baker food magazines and cooking shows seem to throw down impossible challenges in the context of real life.
Then you get a glimpse of a treasured homemade Santa ornament on the holiday tree. It’s a little rough around the edges and perhaps the jolly guy’s eyes are a little askew, but you wouldn’t trade it for all the glam, limited-edition porcelain Santa Claus figurines in the world. That piece of art shows a budding young artist, a free-thinker blazing through second grade and reminds you of the pure joy when your son or daughter presented it to you.
Rolled Christmas Sugar Cookies for Santa decorated by the wobbly hands of young bakers should be celebrated as well. Your joy comes from watching them grow more steady as cookie decorators year after year. Paired with a nutritious glass of milk, they are just the thing to keep that twinkle in St. Nick’s eye and give him and energy boost to complete his Christmas Eve tasks.
This is one of a dozen cookies I am sharing in the Florida Dairy Farmers “12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk.” Not only are the Dairy Farmers offering inspiration for sweet treats, but you can also enter to Win a KitchenAid Mixer & $250 VISA Gift Card.

Rolled Christmas Sugar Cookie Cutouts
Yield: About 5 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla or almond extract
2 tablespoons milk

1. For the dough, mix 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, butter, extracts and egg until well blended. With a wooden spoon, stir in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
2. Heat oven to 375F. Working in batches on a lightly floured work surface, roll out about 1 cup of dough at a time. The dough should be less than 1/4-inch thick. Cut into assorted shapes with cookie cutters. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
3. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until light brown. Remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30-45 minutes.
4. In medium bowl, beat all icing ingredients until smooth and spreadable. Tint with food color if desired. Frost and decorate cookies as desired.

Baking tips

  • To test if baking soda is fresh, add a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar to a small amount. Fresh baking soda will bubble and fizz.
  • Heat the oven before baking to the temperature specified in the recipe. Be patient because this can take 10 to 15 minutes. For the best results, use an oven thermometer to check if the temperature of your oven is accurately calibrated.
  • Choose cookie cutters formed from sturdy materials so that the shape will last for years. Cutters with sharp edges and open backs will pull away from the dough cleanly

Enter to Win a KitchenAid Mixer & $250 VISA Gift Card in the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk!

Herbed Pork Roast & Roasted Cauliflower

Herbed Pork Roast & Roasted Cauliflower

Herbed Pork Ribeye Roast & Roasted Cauliflower (Photo courtesy National Pork Board)

Herbed Pork Ribeye Roast & Roasted Cauliflower (Photo courtesy National Pork Board)

Herbed Pork Roast & Roasted Cauliflower makes a great holiday meal. In this dish the meat has a “French” cut, which exposes an inch or two of the ribs make for an elegant presentations. You can ask the butcher to do this for you or carefully trim the rack yourself using a sharp knife. The recipe was developed by the National Pork Board, but I added a few Florida twists with garden-fresh herbs and citrus. If you don’t care for cauliflower use the same seasoning and roasting technique with carrots or potatoes.

Herbed Pork Roast & Roasted Cauliflower
Yield: 8 servings.

1 (8-rib) pork ribeye roast (rack of pork), frenched
2 tablespoons freshly-chopped thyme
2 tablespoons freshly-chopped oregano
1 tablespoon freshly-chopped rosemary
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cauliflower:
8 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 large head)
4 shallots, sliced
3 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
Sauce:
1 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 shallots, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon zest, or to taste
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Arrange one oven rack in the lower third of the oven and one in the upper third.
2. Combine thyme, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper. Set 5 teaspoons of herb mixture aside, then sprinkle remaining mixture over all sides of the pork. Place pork, fat side up, in a shallow roasting pan, and then place pan on the lower rack in the oven; roast until the internal temperature reaches between 145F (medium-rare) to 160F (medium), 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours.
3. About 30 minutes before pork is done, combine cauliflower, sliced shallots and reserved herb mixture. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and scatter bacon on top. Place baking sheet on the upper rack in the oven, and roast until cauliflower is tender and bacon is browned, about 40 minutes.
4. For the sauce, in a saucepan over medium-high, combine wine, cream, diced shallots and lemon zest. Bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 2/3 cup, about 10 minutes (adjust heat to avoid boiling over). Remove from heat and whisk in butter, 2 or 3 pieces at a time, waiting until the pieces are melted before adding more. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover to keep warm, set aside.
5. Remove the roast from oven and let rest 10 minutes (the cauliflower will continue cooking; it should be done about when the roast is finished resting).
6. Slice the roast between the rib bones. Serve drizzled with the pan juices, and with the cauliflower and sauce on the side.
Adapted from National Pork Board and porkbeinspired.com

Bourbon-Scented Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bourbon-Scented Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bourbon-Scented Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bourbon-Scented Chocolate Chip Cookies

Welcome to the Florida Dairy Farmers’ “12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk.” Pour a cold glass of milk, preheat the oven and wait for the intoxicating aroma of this American classic. I bet you can’t wait for them to cool properly.
The Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie formula is a recipe attributed to Ruth Wakefield, who ran the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Mass. Nestle, which had an agreement with Wakefield to print the recipe on the label of its semisweet chocolate bar, packaged the solid chocolate with a chopper for cutting it into smaller pieces. In 1939, the company introduced the chocolate bits, eliminating the need for a knife.
Familiar cookies such as these are welcome on holiday platters. But I like to give them a special touch by experimenting with extracts and other flavorings. Vanilla is just fine, but we are in the winter special-occasion homestretch so let’s dress things up a little. John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse has created a syrup that is infused with the smooth, oaky flavors of Kentucky bourbon. Straight bourbon with do just fine as well.
At the end of the recipe you will find another treat: A chance to win a KitchenAid Mixer and a $250 Visa Gift Card.

Bourbon-Scented Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 4 dozen cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon bourbon or bourbon syrup
2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
3. Bake 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Enter to Win a KitchenAid Mixer & $250 VISA Gift Card in the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk!

Baking tips

  • If the first batch goes flat on the baking pan, stir in a tablespoon, or so, of flour (for a more cake-like cookie) along with 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda (for puff up) into the dough.
  • For crispy cookies with a soft center, use 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.
  • To get cookies to look and taste like store bought, use half butter and half solid shortening. Then freeze dough 1 hour before baking. This solidifies the fat, which will spread less while baking. Also, portion on to baking pans with a cookie scoop, this will create consistently round cookies.
Morning Mix recipe:  Ham & Egg Casserole

Morning Mix recipe: Ham & Egg Casserole

Ham & Egg Casserole (Photo courtesy Incredibleegg.org)

Ham & Egg Casserole (Photo courtesy Incredibleegg.org)

The more the merrier in Heather’s Florida Kitchen! That’s why I have teamed with the fabulous folks over at Orlando’s WOMX Mix 105.1 to offer the morning show’s Recipe of the Week. Today’s recipe is Ham & Egg Casserole. Holiday stratas are mainstays on Christmas morning. But what if you forgot to prep the casserole and let the ingredients soak into torn pieces of bread overnight? This Christmas morning Ham & Egg Casserole fills the bill. You can add fresh herbs, garlic and even diced leftover (cooked) veggies. Every Thursday, you can find more recipes exclusively for Mix 105.1’s Morning Mix here and at the radio station’s website.

Ham & Egg Casserole
Yield: 12 servings

12 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
2 cups chopped cooked ham
1 cup sliced or chopped crimini mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon freshly chopped oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly chopped tarragon (optional)
1/4 cup chopped green onions

1. Heat oven to 350F. Butter a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish.
2. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in nutmeg, ricotta cheese, flour and baking powder. Stir in cheese, ham, herbs and onions.  Pour into prepared baking dish.
3. Bake 35-45 minutes, or until puffed, golden and knife inserted near center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
SOURCE: Adapted from incredibleegg.org

12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk: Lemon Bars

12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk: Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

Welcome to the Florida Dairy Farmers’ “12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk.” Bars get a free pass onto the cookie platter during the holidays. Over Thanksgiving I pulled out a platter I purchased in Ravello, Italy. It has a lively lemon pattern inspired by the citrus terraces of Sorrento, where crafting sweet-tart limoncello liqueur is an art. The platter recalled a glorious trip with friends to the Amalfi Coast a couple of years ago. Lemon Bars, I said to myself. Lemon Bars must be part of holiday baking this year.
The mellow Meyer lemon is my lemon of choice from November to March. But regular lemons work just as well in this recipe for lemon bars. The fruit can be scarce in mainstream supermarkets and I readily admit I have been spoiled with landscape harvests from friends and relatives’ trees. Other Florida-grown lemons are likely to be Lisbon-type fruits called Bearss.
For gift-giving use parchment paper between layers of the sticky squares.

Lemon Bars
Yield: About 2 dozen servings.

1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon peel
1/2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (see note)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 350F.
2. Blend butter, 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and nutmeg. Press into the bottom of ungreased 13-by-9-inch pan. Bake 15 minutes, or until lightly tanned and edges just begin to turn golden. Remove from oven.
3. As soon as crust is in the oven, mix remaining 1/4 cup flour and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar with whisk. Add eggs, lemon peel and lemon juice; stir with whisk until combined. Let ingredients meld while crust bakes. Mix filling again and pour into warm crust.
4. Bake 20 minutes longer or until center is set and edges are golden brown. Let cool to room temperature. Chill, uncovered, in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
5. Just before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into squares.
Recipe note: Substitute a portion of the lemon juice for limoncello liqueur if desired.

Baking tips

  • In recipes, a baking pan refers to a metal pan, and a baking dish refers to a glass or ceramic container.
  • If baking with glass pans, set the temperature 25F lower. Glass holds heat more efficiently than metal.
  • Cookies, bars, breads, cakes and quiches all need time to set or cool after baking.
12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk: Alfajores

12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk: Alfajores

Alfajores

Alfajores

Welcome to the Florida Dairy Farmers’ “12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk.” Dulce de leche is a luxurious caramel sauce with culinary roots in Argentina. Chile has a similar sauce laced with vanilla called manjar and Mexico has cajeta, which is made from goat’s milk. A French version, confiture de lait (“milk jam”), is comparable to the spreadable forms of dulce de leche.
For the holidays creating Alfajores, decadent cookie sandwiches from shortbread rounds and a thick dollop of dulce de leche, is a Hispanic favorite. Some households roll the cookies in toasted coconut or nuts too. In Heather’s Florida Kitchen, we serve them chilled and plain. Dulce de leche is made by simmering sweetened milk until it turns thick and amber. You can make the dulce de leche a week ahead and store tightly covered in the refrigerator. The cookies can be made in advance as well.
At the end of the recipe you will find another treat: A chance to win a KitchenAid Mixer and a $250 Visa Gift Card.

Alfajores
Yield: About 4 dozen cookies, depending on size of rounds

Dulce de leche:
4 cups milk
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch cinnamon
Cookies:
1 tablespoon brandy
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks

1. For the dulce de leche, combine all ingredients in large heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until mixture boils, 15-20 minutes. Briefly remove from heat. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture becomes caramel color and thickens enough to see bottom of pan when stirring, 45-60 minutes. Cool to room temperature or refrigerate covered. Makes about 2 cups.
2. For the cookies, mix brandy, lemon zest and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt to evenly distribute ingredients. With a mixer, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add yolks and mix to combine, then add brandy mixture and beat until just combined. Add flour mixture, and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. Divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a log about 1 1/2 inches thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, at least 3 hours.
3. Heat oven to 350F. Line baking pans with parchment paper.
4. Slice dough into 1/8-inch rounds. Place on baking pans. Bake 7-10 minutes, or until edges turn golden. Let pans cool on a wire rack.
5. Spread a thick layer of dulce de leche onto half of the cookie. Top with remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Recipe note: If desired, sprinkle dulce de leche with fine sea salt before adding cookie tops.

Enter to Win a KitchenAid Mixer & $250 VISA Gift Card in the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk!

Holiday Ham Crescents

Holiday Ham Crescents

Warm Holiday Ham Crescents

Holiday Ham Crescents

Holiday Ham Crescents is a quick holiday breakfast that is best served warm from the oven. Cured deli pork is the protein in this five-ingredient recipe. Hams are dry-cured by rubbing salt and spices into the meat’s surface. Wet-curing involves a brine solution that contains water, salt, sugar and spices. Dry-cured hams are known as country-style. Wet cured hams are most common. All varieties of cured ham are either boneless or bone-in.

Holiday Ham Crescents
Yield: 8 servings

1/2 pound brown-sugar fully-cooked ham, shaved
1 (8-ounce) can crescent dinner rolls
4 slices mozzarella or Swiss cheese, cut diagonally
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1. Heat oven to 375F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Separate package of crescent rolls into triangles; place on waxed paper. Place cheese triangle over each dough triangle. Divide ham among the 8 dough/cheese triangles. Beginning at widest end, roll up to form a crescent. Place on baking pan.
3. Bake 13-15 minutes.
4. Combine mayonnaise and mustard serve with filled crescents.
SOURCE: BEPORKINSPIRED.COM

12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk: Snickerdoodles

12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk: Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

Welcome to the Florida Dairy Farmers’ “12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk.” At first glance, the Snickerdoodle appears to be a dressed-up sugar cookie. But of you compare recipes, there is a difference: Cream of tartar.
Cream of tartar is the magic dust that is a byproduct of wine production. The acidic residue left in wine barrels is the key to stabilizing egg whites, keeping sugar from crystallizing in simple syrups and imparting a soft texture to baked goods.
The unappetizing names chemical names are potassium acid tartrate, potassium hydrogen tartrate, and potassium bitartrate, according to McCormick & Co. But on product labels this tartaric acid is simply cream of tartar.
The Snickerdoodle earned its status as a holiday cookie long ago. Most likely because of the addition of aromatic cinnamon, a key winter spice. The cookie’s origin has been linked to New England and the Pennsylvania Dutch community as well as England. Recipes first surfaced in American cookbooks in the 20th century. During the holidays, you can substitute red or green sugar for the granulated white sugar in the ubiquitous topping. But I prefer to stay classic.
At the end of the recipe you will find another treat: A chance to win a KitchenAid Mixer and a $250 Visa Gift Card.

Snickerdoodle Cookies
Yield: About 4 dozen cookies

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 large eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Blend 1 1/2 cups sugar, butter, shortening and eggs. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Mix 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on baking pan.
4. Bake 8-10 minutes, or just until edge is lightly browned. Remove from pan to wire rack to cool completely.

Kitchen tips

Check your spices before starting a recipe. You won’t get optimum flavor from a product past its prime.
To maintain good quality spices:

  • Keep containers away from heat, moisture, and direct sunlight. These elements hasten the loss of flavor and aroma. Avoid storing over the stove, dishwasher, sink or near a window.
  • Make sure the measuring spoon is completely dry when you dip it into the bottle. Moisture introduced into the bottle will also result in caking and flavor loss.

To check for freshness:

  • The shelf life for extracts is about 4 years, except vanilla extract, which has an unlimited shelf life.
  • The shelf life of properly stored spices and herbs is approximately 4 years for whole spices, 2-3 years for ground spices and 1-3 years for leafy herbs, depending on the herb.

SOURCE: McCormick & Co.
Enter to Win a KitchenAid Mixer & $250 VISA Gift Card in the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk!