Heather's Florida Kitchen

Seasonally inspired easy recipes for the home cook.
Ancient Grain Salad

Ancient Grain Salad

Ancient Grain Salad (photo courtesy National Watermelon Promotion Board)

Ancient Grain Salad (photo courtesy National Watermelon Promotion Board)

Ancient Grain Salad is a great go-to for Fourth of July picnics because it’s delicious chilled or at room temperature and you can preassemble the side dish in individual servings. This recipe is full of Florida flavor with a twist. It includes the ancient grain Kamut (properly capped because it is trademarked in modern times). The large kernels – about twice the size of standard wheat kernels – have a chewy texture and mildly nutty flavor that works well in rice dishes and salads. Look for Kamut in the whole grains section of supermarkets (Bob’s Red Mill is the brand I buy), Whole Foods Market and health-food stores.

Ancient Grain Salad
Yield:6 side dishes

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons maple syrup, or to taste
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
Coarse salt to taste
3 cups warm cooked Kamut grains, about 1 1/2 cups dry (see note)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans, plus additional for garnish
1/3 cup diced green onions, plus 1 tablespoon
1/3 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup fresh corn kernels, grilled if preferred
2 cups diced watermelon

1. Blend oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt in a small bowl. Add Kamut and pecans. Stir thoroughly and let sit until cooled.
2. To assemble salad, place 1/3 of the Kamut at the bottom, topped by half each of the onions and celery, corn, and watermelon. Repeat. Add the last 1/3 of the Kamut to the top and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of diced green onion and pecans. Present as a layered salad and toss just before serving.
To make the Kamut: For best results, soak 1 cup Kamut berries in water overnight, then drain. Bring 3 1/4 cups of water or vegetable stock to a boil in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add Kamut grains. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes (45-60 minutes if grains were not soaked). Drain off excess liquid.
Recipe note: For outdoor gatherings, layer in individual servings in small plastic cups (the stemless kind often used for wine).
SOURCE: National Watermelon Promotion Board

A savory salute to National Dairy Month and World Milk Day

A savory salute to National Dairy Month and World Milk Day

June is National Dairy Month and today, June 1, is World Milk Day. So let’s raise an ice-cold glass of milk to toast Florida’s more than 100 dairy farms. And while we could leave it at that, there is so much more to this monthlong focus on dairy awareness. The possibilities are endless because milk is only the beginning of this culinary journey.
Just check out our new campaign “Undeniably Dairy,” to see just how easy it is to help yourself to several servings of all things dairy every day.
Over the next five Thursdays we’ll explore how the versatility of dairy products fit into busy healthful, lifestyles with recipes that won’t bust the budget. Today’s recipe is Herbed Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Roulade with Avocado Crema. This dish uses a variety of dairy products to enliven flavors and tenderize texture. It’s a savory salute to the power of milk.

Herbed Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Roulade with Avocado Crema
Yield: 4 servings

Crema:
1 ripe Florida avocado
1 cup light sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange or tangerine juice, or more to taste
Coarse sea salt and white pepper to taste
Chicken:
4 (6- to 8-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/8-inch
1 cup buttermilk
1 minced garlic clove
2 tablespoons olive oil
Panko bread crumbs
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Filling:
1 cup part-skim ricotta
1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
Fresh lemon zest to taste
Coarse sea salt and white pepper to taste
Garnish:
Freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
Fresh lemon zest

1. For the crema, combine all the ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth, tasting to adjust seasonings as needed. Scrape into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Bring mixture to room temperature to serve.
2. For the chicken, combine the buttermilk and garlic in a sealable plastic bag. Add the chicken and refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight. Remove from bag, shake excess liquid off and lay chicken flat on parchment paper. Combine the panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, set aside. Preheat oven to 450F.
3. For the filling, blend ricotta with parsley, garlic, salt, pepper and zest. Divide filling among chicken, spreading to just before the edges. Beginning at the narrow end of the chicken, roll up to enclose the filling. Tie with kitchen string at 1-inch intervals to secure or skewer with wood picks in several places.
4. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy, oven-proof skillet over medium-high. Add chicken roulades and cook until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Using a high heat spatula brush tops of roulades with mayonnaise. Using tongs, top each with the of Parmesan and Panko mixture. Carefully transfer pan to the oven to bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of roulades registers 160F, 5-7 minutes.
5. Remove from oven, let rest 5 minutes. Slice each on an angle and arrange medallions on servings plates. Drizzle with crema and garnish with parsley and lemon zest.

Time-saver tips:
• Make the avocado crema the day before.
• Marinate the chicken in the buttermilk overnight.
• Filling can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before stuffing.
The versatility of dairy
Buttermilk: Can be used as a leavening agent in baked goods and to make lighter pancakes; also its lactic acid helps tenderizes meats and encourages moist texture.
Sour cream: Use as a tangy topping for tacos, potatoes and soups. It makes a thick base for salad dressings and dips, and can be added to batters and doughs.
Parmesan cheese: Sprinkle grated cheese on pasta, fold into risotto, toss with salad greens. Drizzle with honey and add to a cheese board. Simmer the rind in slow-cooked soups.
Ricotta: A component of sweet and savory dishes, its texture can take on a variety of flavors. Use as a thickener for creamy sauces or as spread on multi-grain bread.
Dairy and your health
Dairy products provide health benefits – especially improved bone health, according to choosemyplate.gov, a USDA program that helps consumers find their individual healthy eating styles and build on it throughout their lifetime. Dairy ingredients provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of your body. These nutrients include calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.

Florida Dairy Fun Facts
Most of the dairy cows living in Florida are Holsteins (the black and white cows).
Lafayette and Okeechobee are Florida’s leading dairy counties.
Most Florida dairy herds range in size from 150 cows to 5,000 cows.

12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk: Let’s play 3 cookie catch up!

12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk: Let’s play 3 cookie catch up!

WalnutCranberryCookies22

Cranberry Walnut Cookies

I’ve been counting down the Florida Dairy Farmers’ “12 Days of Christmas Cookies & Milk.” With this busy holiday weekend I need to play three cookie catch up quick. Here’s Friday’s (12/16) Today we’re celebrating with Cranberry Walnut Cookies, Saturday’s (12/17) Santa’s No-Bake Thin Mints and today’s (12/18) Rosemary Polvorones. Here’s the first of the three recipes:
The combination of rich walnuts and tart cranberries creates a wonderful profile and both are ingredients associated with the season.
I prefer to mince the dried fruit, which gives the dough flecks of color and avoids pockets of unbalanced flavor. Chopping the dried fruit can be problematic for novice cooks. For expert results, carefully wipe the knife blade with vegetable oil to prevent sticking.
Walnuts and other hard shell nuts have been part of holiday traditions for generations. The ruffled flesh is relatively high in tannins, which give walnuts a bitter, dry finish, according to Epicurious.com. It’s this astringency coupled with the richness of the natural oils that make walnuts a good complement to sweeter flavors.
These two recipes were inspired by a store-bought treat from a popular mainstream supermarket chain.  I had experimented with several variations settling on this duo. I like them both. The second recipe produces a chewier, softer cookie. It was given to me by a friend a couple of years ago, and she couldn’t recall the source.
At the end of the recipes you will find another treat: A chance to win a KitchenAid Mixer and a $250 Visa Gift Card. I think Santa is a farmer.

Cranberry Walnut Cookies
Yield: About 3 dozen

3/4 cup butter flavor all-vegetable shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup minced dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Heat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. With mixer, beat shortening, granulated sugar and brown sugar until blended and creamy in texture. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in small bowl. Mix dry ingredients with whisk to evenly distribute ingredients. In batches, mix dry ingredients into shortening mixture until smooth. Stir in oats, cranberries and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoons about 2-inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
3. Bake 10-12 minutes or until light brown. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Place on cooling rack to cool completely.

Cranberry Walnut Cookies
Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup walnut pieces, toasted and chopped
1 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Combine oatmeal, flour, salt, and sugar. Whisk to evenly distribute ingredients.
3. In a saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter and cook until it turns golden brown, 5-7 minutes; remove from heat, stir in maple syrup and extract.
4. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water. Stir into browned butter mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until only a few streaks of flour remain. Fold in nuts and cranberries.
5. Using a small dough scoop, place dough about 1 to 2 inches apart on baking pans. Flatten each of the balls slightly. Bake until golden brown and set, about 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer to rack to cool. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Baking tips

  • Tools that operate like ice cream scoops are the key to a nice round shapes for cookies. The come in several sizes. In addition, the scoops use dough efficiently and uniformly, keep yields consistent.
  • If cookies are too tough, try substituting pastry flour for the all-purpose flour. Pastry flour has less protein, so it develops less gluten when worked.
  • To toast walnuts, preheat oven to 350F. Arrange whole walnuts on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, checking frequently. Cool completely. Chop as needed for recipes.

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

Let carambolas star in holiday recipes

Let carambolas star in holiday recipes

carambola-010Carambolas can had flavor and star power to your holiday recipes. This  gift from nature to the garnishing-impaired, is harvested in Florida from June through March, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Typical size for the golden fruit is 2-4 inches long. For best flavor, allow fruit to ripen at room temperature until ribs turn brown, about 2-5 days. Simply slice and use as a garnish for cocktails or party platters, a refreshing touch of sweet in fruit salads, or substitute for pineapple in upside-down cakes. I recently grilled carambola slices and really liked how the sugars caramelized. The second time I tried them this way I brushed them with a little spiced rum and the results were even better. The results can get messy looking if you leave them on the heat too long. The key is a super quick sear to maintain the star shape. Drying slices is a cool way to create garnishes as well. At 1921 by Norman Van Aken in Mount Dora, Fla., dried carambola adds a whimsical touch to cocktails and more. Here are a few recipes to get you cooking and entertaining with Fresh From Florida carambola.

Dried Carambola

15 carambolas
25 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick (see note)
5 cups brown sugar

1. Remove either end of the fruit and slice each into 1/4 – 1/2 inch pieces.
2. Place fruit in a large pot and cover with water and add the sugar and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil for 1 minute then turn off heat and set aside to cool for 3 hours. The fruit will soak up the sugar and spice flavors.
3. Preheat oven to 150F.
4. Drain liquid. Place fruit on baking sheets. Dry fruit in the oven with the door propped open to allow the steam to escape. Turn every hour or so until the fruit is done (cooking will vary depending on how much liquid was drained and humidity).
5. Store in an airtight container.
Recipe note: If you have a dehydrator, set the temperature at 125 to 135F to dry fruit. Experiment with different spices to enhance the flavor of the fruit. You can substitute white granulated sugar for brown sugar.

Chicken & Carambola With Ginger-Lime Butter Sauce
Yield: 4 servings

4 chicken breasts, boned and skinned
1 tablespoon safflower oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 ripe carambolas, sliced and seeded, use one in recipe and the other for garnish
4 lime slices for garnish
Lime zest for garnish
Sauce:
1-inch piece of ginger, or to taste
Zest and juice of a lime
1/2 stick of butter
Coarse salt

1. To make the sauce, let the butter come to room temperature. Peel the ginger and grate it fine. In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter, ginger, lime zest and a little lime juice. Taste and add salt or more lime juice to balance; set aside.
2. Pound thickest part of breast with the bottom of a bowl or a meat pounder to quarter-inch thickness. Roll lengthwise up into a tube-shape. Heat butter and oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Saute the chicken breasts, turning occasionally, until they are golden and springy to the touch. Slice, remove to a heated plate and keep warm.
3. In same pan, saute the carambola slices until soft and lightly browned.
4. Arrange carambola and chicken on serving plates and brush sauce over both. If desired, garnish with sliced lime peel.

Morning Mix recipe: Vegetable Tortellini with Anchovies & Toasted Walnuts

Morning Mix recipe: Vegetable Tortellini with Anchovies & Toasted Walnuts

Vegetable Tortellini with Anchovies & Toasted Walnuts (Photo courtesy: Pastafits.org)

Vegetable Tortellini with Anchovies & Toasted Walnuts (Photo courtesy: Pastafits.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 Vegetable Tortellini with Anchovies & Toasted Walnuts. It’s a quick recipe that offers a great meal as is or used as a vehicle for cooked leftovers such as roasted chicken or pork (simply stir meats in with the pasta). Or, keep the dish  vegetarian and omit the anchovies and add grilled tofu.  Every Thursday, you can find more recipes exclusively for Mix 105.1’s Morning Mix here and at the radio station’s website

Vegetable Tortellini with Anchovies & Toasted Walnuts
Yield: 4 servings.

1 (18-ounce) package cheese tortellini
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
1 cup snow peas, sliced in half on the bias
2 cups Florida cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the tortellini according to package directions. Drain and reserve.
2. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil with the garlic and anchovy paste. When the garlic is aromatic and starting to brown — about 30 seconds — add the walnuts, snow peas and cherry tomatoes. When snow peas are crisp-tender, stir in the lemon juice; about 5 minutes. Gently stir in the tortellini.
3. Divide the mixture between 4 bowls. Top with parsley.
SOURCE: Pastafits.org

Corn, Black Bean & Quinoa Salad

Corn, Black Bean & Quinoa Salad

Sweet Corn, Black Bean & Quinoa Salad

Sweet Corn, Black Bean & Quinoa Salad

Welcome to the next installment of my Fourth of July countdown. Today we are husking sweet corn for Sweet Corn, Black Bean & Quinoa Salad. The Florida corn harvest has waned but garden fresh herbs and Fresh From Florida tomatoes and shrimp still give this dish a nod to the state’s farmers and food purveyors. The  shrimp adds protein, but you can leave the shellfish out and you’ve got a great dish for vegetarians and vegans at your holiday party.

Sweet Corn, Black Bean & Quinoa Salad
Yield: 4 to 6 portions

3 cups fresh sweet corn kernels (4 medium ears)
3 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup diced mix of red and green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
8 ounces cooked small shrimp, or more to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup freshly minced cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves
Halved grape tomatoes for garnish
Butter lettuce leaves or mixed greens for serving

1. In a large bowl, toss corn, quinoa, beans, peppers, red onion, green onion, and shrimp.
2. To make the vinaigrette, whisk olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over the quinoa mixture and toss to combine.
3. Just before serving, sprinkle with the cilantro or parsley. Garnish with halved cherry tomatoes and serve on a bed of greens.
Recipe note: Cubed Florida avocado makes a creamy addition to this salad.
SOURCE: Fresh Sunshine Sweet Corn Council

Any way you slice it, a nicely glazed ham demands center stage at the holiday table

The centerpiece Easter ham has earned its time-honored holiday position probably because it’s so easy to prepare on a day often filled with egg hunts, church services and festive gatherings. Glazes are an easy way to add your favorite flavor profiles to the smoky, savory flavor of pork. Buy a pre-cut spiral ham and skip the ubiquitous brown-sugar coating that comes with many of these products. With a little creativity you will discover a wealth of no-fuss flavor options probably already in your kitchen.

Jams and jellies seasoned with frseh herbs create a flavorful finish for holiday hams.

Jams and jellies seasoned with frseh herbs create a flavorful finish for holiday hams.

Fruit spreads, mustards, chutneys and syrups seasoned with fresh herbs, rum or bourbon create instant glazes. Because you want the liquid to adhere to the meat, explore the other sticky options in the kitchen cupboard — pepper jellies, molasses, honey and the like. When buying a ham, allow 1/4 to 1/3 pound per serving of boneless ham, 1/3 to 1/2 pound of meat per serving of partially boned ham (commonly sold as “whole bone-in” ham), and 3/4 to 1 pound of meat per serving of ham with large bone. Roasting is the preferred method for cooking. Check the label to see whether the ham is fully cooked or marked “cook before eating.” Fully cooked hams can be eaten as is or warmed in the oven. The rest must be roasted until a thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 155F.

THE BASICS
Mix and match. Before you heat the ham, or while it is in its initial stages of heating, mix the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Thoroughly mix the glaze before applying for easy spreading or let sit for a thicker textured glaze that can be poured on the ham.
Score big. Use a serrated knife and score the ham in a diagonal pattern, creating thin cuts that will allow the glaze to seep deep into the ham creating rich, full flavor in every bite.
Brush up. It’s best to add the glaze at the end of cooking, in the last 30 to 45 minutes, to keep it from burning. Use a pastry brush to generously apply the glaze and return ham to the oven. Repeat the process occasionally until the entire glaze has been used.
On the side. Hams also can be baked without a glaze and then served with a sauce or chutney on the side.

10 GREAT GLAZES

  1. Apricot. In a small saucepan, combine 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Stir in 2/3 cup apricot nectar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly.
  2. Mustard. In a small bowl, stir together 3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 teaspoons dry, white wine. Brush ham with glaze during the last 20 minutes of cooking.
  3. Maple-bourbon. In a small bowl, stir together 3 tablespoons maple-flavored syrup, 2 tablespoons bourbon, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 crushed garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard.
  4. Cola. Combine 6 ounces cola, 2 tablespoons mustard, 1 teaspoon ground cloves and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Baste ham with glaze mixture during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
  5. Root beer. In medium saucepan, whisk 1 cup room-temperature root beer, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup ketchup and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook uncovered until mixture reduces in half (about 15-20 minutes), stirring occasionally. Brush half of mixture on ham prior to baking. Brush remaining sauce over ham just as it comes out of the oven. Makes about 1 1/3 cups glaze.
  6. Cherry. Mix 1 can cherry pie filling, 1 cup orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a saucepan. Heat the mixture until warmed through.
  7. Mixed fruit. Soak 1 cup dried apricots in rum 1 hour. Blend in 2 cups apple cider, 1 cup red delicious diced apples, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. After the ham has cooked for 1 to 11/2 hours, add the fruit mixture to roasting pan. Baste the ham with juices during remaining cooking time.
  8. Maple-pepper. Mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon mustard and 3 whole cloves in a saucepan. Add 1 cup maple syrup, stir and cook slowly until mixture is thick and clear.
  9. Pineapple-raisin. Saute 1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion in 1 tablespoon melted butter until just tender. Add 3 ounces of undiluted frozen pineapple-orange or pineapple juice concentrate (half of 6-ounce can), 1 1/4 cups water, 3/4 cup golden raisins, 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard. Mix 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar and 4 teaspoons cornstarch. Add vinegar mixture to the raisin mixture. Cook and stir until the glaze is nicely thickened and slightly bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.
  10. Cranberry-mango. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup thawed frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, 2 tablespoons honey, 1/4 cup mashed mangos, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Pour over chops or ham. Cook until thick and heated through, 4 minutes.

BAKED HAM WITH HONEY GLAZE

Yield: 22 servings.

10-14 pound spiral-sliced, fully cooked smoked ham
1 cup honey
6 ounces orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup apricot jam
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1. Heat oven to 325 F. Place ham on rack in roasting pan.

2. Stir remaining ingredients in bowl; set aside.

3. Bake ham 30 minutes; pour glaze on top. Bake until ham is heated through, total of 2 1/2 hours, 15-18 minutes per pound.

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