Monday, March 17, 2008


I am a few days early, but the weather today has gotten me excited about the upcoming seasonal change, (April 20th). This is my favorite time of year, and I can't help but anticipate the new offerings. So, hide that crock - pot and Dutch Oven and break out the salad bowls and simple plates, because this is the season for impromptu cooking and ice cream making! Just have fun with it!

Chicken Sausage with Peppers and Polenta

Here's a recipes that takes no time at all. I used already prepared polenta, (the kind in a clear plastic tube, usually in the grains section). Making polenta from scratch is always an option, but it's time consuming and, frankly, this tastes really good. This whole meal can come together in under half an hour.

4 julienned bell peppers, any colors - mix it up!
1 onion, julienned
2 pkgs Organic chicken sausage, I like Italian style, sliced in 1/2" coins
3 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
1 pkg cooked polenta, sliced into 1/2 " inch cuts
extra virgin olive oil

You need two large saute pans, one for the sausage and peppers and the other for the polenta. Fire these up at the same time, on med high heat. Add olive oil to each pan in equal amounts, (maybe a touch more for the polenta).

For the peppers, onions and sausage:
Throw in onions, peppers and garlic to hot pan, season with salt and pepper. Cook on med heat for about 5 minutes, or until everything looks wilted. Add sausage and continue to cook on medium heat. The sausage will begin to take on a lovely golden hue - you are pretty good here. Turn down to low and just let all this hang out until polenta is ready.

For Polenta:
Make sure oil is hot when you carefully add polenta coins to the pan. Lower heat to medium. Let them cook for about 10 minutes on each side, don't try to flip too soon. You will know when to flip becuase they will seperate from the pan easily.

To serve:
Place polenta coins on a platter and top with sausage and peppers.

Have any leftovers? Try this with scambled eggs in the morning!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Seared Scallops with Scarlet-Runners and Asparagus

The idea for this meal all started when I saw some heirloom Scarlet Runner beans at the store. They are so interesting, about the size of a lima, the skin is freckled, like a quail egg. I had never used them before, so I was curious to see how they would do in place of a white bean as a puree. I soaked the beans over night and cooked them the next day with some celery and onion. The flavor was great, however, I wasn't thrilled with the color, especially after I pureed them. Since I believe we eat with our eyes first - this choice was disappointing - I suggest substituting the beans for pureed celeriac, mashed potatoes or soft polenta.

Although the beans were a disappointment, everything else on the plate was fantastic. New to the Farmers' Market this week were asparagus
and after seeing them, I had the whole meal realized. Scallops are always a great way to add some pizazz to a meal. They couldn't be any simpler to prepare.

Seared Scallops:

1 dozen scallops, rinsed and pat dry
salt and pepper

1 TBLS butter
1 TBLS extra virgin olive oil

Season scallops with salt and pepper.
In a large pan, heat oil and butter on medium high heat, almost to smoking point.
Add scallops and sear for 3-4 minutes, or until golden. Turn
and repeat.

Serve over bed of pureed celeriac, mashed potatoes or soft polenta.

Sauteed Asparagus:
(This works best with fresh, pencil-thin asparagus.)

1-2 bunches thin asparagus
1 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

In a large saute pan, heat oil on medium heat. Add asparagus, and season with salt and pepper. Keep moving asparagus around to get an even saute. Allow asparagus to soften slightly and develop a slight char. Serve immediately.Yvette Roman Photography©, 2008.

Something Sweet

Another trip to the Farmer's Market inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and put on my bakers' hat. I have always loved carrot cake and after seeing all of the different varieties of carrots and their amazing colors, it seemed only logical to give in to my sweet tooth. These turned out super moist and the icing is pure decadence.
Adapted from Bon Appetit, September 1999.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Maple-Cream Cheese Icing

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
4 eggs
3 cups grated carrot
1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts
2 TBLS minced, peeled ginger
Handful of golden raisins for garnish

10 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
5 TBLS unsalted butter, room temp.
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake pan with liners. Set aside.
Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
Whisk sugar and oil in a large bowl until well blended.
Whisk eggs in 1 at a time to sugar and oil.
Add flour mixture to wet mixture and blend well.
Stir in carrots, ginger and nuts.
Fill liners a little past halfway.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until tester inserted comes out clean.
Cool cakes completely before adding icing.


Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
Add powdered sugar and beat low until well blended.
Add maple syrup and blend completely.

Fill pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip and pipe icing in a circular motion, starting in the center and work outwards.
Top with golden raisins.

Yvette Roman© Photography, 2008.