Monday, March 19, 2012

On our way to a picnic in the Pine Tum in Central Park

What a wonderful spring day! The pine tum is like our back yard in N.Y.C. It is a cool spot with wonderful old pine trees . It is outfitted with pic nick tables and a lovely spot for lunch. When I have time or when I need a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city and work, I take a nice walk with hubby and pooch to a place where I can breathe deep and recharge. In a recent stroll I was enchanted by the burst of spring, which is always a surprise and special treat!

To make the white bean dip

Drain and rinse 1 can of Great Northern or Canellini  beans. Place in the food processor. Add 1 clove of garlic, 3 Tbs. olive oil, 3 Tbs. water and a large pinch of salt. 10 grinds of pepper and the juice of half a lemon. Puree until smooth. Place in a bowl or container. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse salt. and fold in 2 tsp. of fresh thyme. Serve with 3-4 cups of your favorite cut up vegetables.
I used, carrots, cuke, red and green pepper, cauliflower and celery.

Recipe, photos and writing by Karen Pickus 2012
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Proverbial Corned Beef Hash

I am not often compelled to make hash, but with a bit of corned beef, potatoes, onion and thyme, I'm inspired. Being that it's St. Pats I find it lucky to have the time to make it this morning.
I wouldn't call this traditional... it is my rendition of delicious ingredients contrasted together to make a morning song.  So here goes.

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 large sprig of thyme
1 large onion small diced
6 oz. potato small dice. I leave the skin on
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 pinch of salt
4 oz. corned beef, cubed
freshly ground black pepper (16 turns)

1 pat of butter
2 - 4 eggs

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat, add the thyme, heat herbs. Then add the onion and cook until lightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, paprika and salt and brown on all sides until golden, cokk 3-5 minutes, stirring occationally. Add the cubed corned beef. add 1/4 cup water and stir. Cover the pan and cook on very low heat for 15 minutes until potatoes are cooked through and water has evaporated completely. Place on serving dish. In a clean skillet melt the butter. Crack the eggs in the pan and cook  to desired done ness. Serve immediately over the hash. Serves 2-4.

Recipe, writing and photos by, Karen Pickus 2012
Courtesy, Karen Pickus 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"Shamrock" Salad

I recommend this salad in spring when watercress is in its prime. Here I was able to find organic watercress at my market. It has thin stems that are sweet and tender and the leaves are large a gorgeous green, hence the title shamrock. Serve this crunchy salad after my spring stew, perhaps with some Irish
Cheeses to cap off the celebratory meal.

For the dressing
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon (1 Tbs)
1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 Tbs. fresh chopped chives
1 pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
2-3 Tbs. Olive oil

1 head of watercress, washed, if the stems are tender, leave on, otherwise just the leaves
1/2 head romaine cut into bite sized pieces and washed

Make the dressing

Steep the lemon zest, and  juice with the herbs, the salt and the pepper together in a bowl for 10 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil and toss with the greens.
Serve immediately with Kerry Gold Dubliner, a magnificent cheddar  and/or a Cashel Blue, a wonderful Irish creamy number. The cheeses are great on my Irish Soda Bread.

Recipe, writing and photos, by Karen Pickus 2012
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring beef stew braised in Guinness,with asparagus and peas and potatoes

This time of year we are all anxious for spring to arrive. It's right around the corner! In this trans formative time we are lucky to have asparagus at our finger tips.

With St. Pats here too I thought it befitting to create a whole celebratory meal around all things green.
First I will share this stew. On my blog I have my version of Irish soda bread,

and a green salad to brighten up any ones Ides of March!
Braising means cook in moist and dry heat.

This is one of the best ways to cook shoulder
because it is a flavorful cut but tenderizes when it is cooked this amount of time in liquid.
The method works well on top of the stove. You can derive the same results by adding the liquid, bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, cover and place the Dutch oven into a 350 degree oven for about the same amount of time. Just check the stew after 1/2 hour and stir. This way there is much less chance of scorching the stew when it is braised inside the oven. Proceed the same way when adding the vegetables.

Spring beef stew braised in Guinness with asparagus, peas and potatoes

1/3 cup of flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 lbs.  1"cubed shoulder of beef or lamb
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 yellow onions cubed
5 cloves of garlic
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 lbs. potatoes cut into bite sized pieces
2 - 12 oz.bottles of Guinness Stout
2 cups chicken or beef broth, or half and half
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut on the bias 2 1/2 inches long
1 10 oz package of frozen peas

 Season the flour with the salt and pepper and combine thoroughly on a plate. Toss the meat onto the plate, a few pieces at a time to coat, shake off any excess and place on a plate.  When you have dredged half of the meat heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a 4 quart Dutch oven. Sear half of the meat on all sides until golden brown. Remove the seared meat and reserve on a plate. Repeat with the remaining meat. Add all of the meat back to the pot. Add the onions, garlic, and thyme to the pot. Cook until the vegetables are golden brown, about 4-5 minutes.

Add the Guinness, and let it reduce by half,  then add the stock. Bring to a boil and cover. Lower the heat to a simmer and braise the stew for 1 hour -1 1/2 hours.The meat should be tender but not falling apart. The juices should be thickened. Add the potatoes and simmer for about 15 more minutes, covered, until the potatoes feel tender when pierced with a knife. Add the prepared asparagus and peas and cook uncovered for 3-5 minutes until the asparagus are tender and retain their bright green color. Remove the thyme sprigs.

Serve with my Irish Soda Bread and Watercress Salad.

Recipe, photos and writing by Karen Pickus 2012
Courtesy, karen Pickus 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Irish Soda Bread

Here is my version of Irish Soda Bread, in honor of St. Pats. It is wonderful with tea in the afternoon but I also recommend it with my Spring Stew. It is chock full of raisins, caraway and oats. I use buttermilk because it adds tenderness to the loaf. Bear in mind I used whole grain flour but you can make it as I have, or you can use a combination of flours or all purpose if you prefer. I recommend letting this bread cool completely then wrapping it up to use the next day. The flavors develope and the slices are firmer.  But if you can't wait it is still delicious. Hope you enjoy and Happy Saint Patricks' Day!

1 1/2 cups of oat flour or all purpose or a half and half combination
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 1/2-2 cups rye flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. fine grain sea salt
1/4-1/3 cup turbinado sugar
1 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
4 Tbs. melted butter
4 tsps. caraway seeds
1 cup golden raisins

for the topping

2 tsp. caraway seeds
2 Tbs. rolled oats
1 pinch coarse salt
1 pinch turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the first 7 ingredients slowly with a paddle in the bowl of a stand up mixer. Add the raisins and the caraway until mixed in. Combine the buttermilk, the eggs, and the melted butter in a medium bowl with a wire whisk.
Add the liquid to the dry, in a steady stream, just until combined. Knead the dough on a floured surface a few times and form into a ball.

Place the ball on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the surface with water and toss the topping ingredients on the bread. Score the bread with a sharp knife into an x.
Place into the hot oven and bake for 1 hour 25 minutes. Let cool completely. Slice and serve.

Recipe,writing, and photos by Karen Pickus 2012
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Braised Balsamic Greens

1 Tbs. olive oil
5 cloves of garlic sliced thin
1 Bunch Dinosaur Kale washed and cut into bite sized pieces, remove thick ribs
1 Bunch Rainbow chard washed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 pinch of coarse grained sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
3-4 Tbs. aged, at least 10 years, balsamic vinegar

In a 12 inch skillet or dutch oven, over medium high heat, heat the olive oil, add the garlic to the pan and cook stiring constantly with a wooden spoon until the garlic is golden brown. Add the greens all at once and the salt and pepper. Give them a stir and add the vinegar then cover them for 2 minutes until they wilt. Remove the cover and let the vinegar reduce a bit. Stir the green and cook 2 more minutes until the greens are tender. Serve immediately.
They go well with rice and beans or pork chops.

Recipe, writing and photos by Karen Pickus 2012
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2012

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Buckwheat Breakfast Pancakes

Who doesn't like the special treat of home made pancakes? They are among my favorite breakfast items on a lazy winter morning. I have come up with a very fluffy whole grain variety that is not only a fun treat, but a healthy one too!


2/3 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup corn meal
1/2 cup oat flour
1 Tbs. baking powder

Combine in a large bowl and stir dry ingredients with a wire whisk.

1 cup milk
2 large eggs
2 Tbs. almond oil (or any other flavorless oil)
2 Tbs. maple syrup

Combine wet ingredients together. Mix thoroughly with a wire whisk.
Add wet  mixture to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Heat a griddle over medium high heat. Add a bit of butter or oil. Pour 1/4 to1/3 cup of batter on the well buttered griddle for each pancake.

Makes 10-12 pancakes.

Serve with bananas and maple syrup.
Top with butter if you wish.

Recipes, writing and photos by Karen Pickus 2012
Courtesy, Karen Pickus 2012

Finished Slaw

Finished Slaw
Ready to eat!