It's time to get outside and enjoy the January sunshine - while it lasts. To help you get motivated, recipe researcher Sheila Kern offers up great recipes for blueberries, cucumbers, pork loin and chicken breasts - all of which are on sale this week. Enjoy!
Blueberry Breakfast Bake
1 (12-ounce) day-old baguette, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pint blueberries, divided
12 ounces Neufchatel cheese, softened•
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup milk
Maple syrup (optional)
Place half of the bread cubes in a greased 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with blueberries, reserving a few for garnish.
In a mixing bowl, beat cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Gradually add milk until blended. Pour half over bread. Top with remaining bread, then remaining cheese mixture. Cover and chill overnight or up to 24 hours.
Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Cover and bake at 350ºF about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake about 25 minutes longer, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Sprinkle with reserved blueberries. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve with maple syrup, if desired.
Spinach Salad with Steak & Blueberries
Makes 4 servings, about 2 cups each
1 cup fresh blueberries, divided
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see Tips)
3 tablespoons fruity vinegar, such as raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
3 tablespoons walnut oil or canola oil
1 pound sirloin steak or strip steak (1-1 1/4 inches thick), trimmed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Preheat grill to medium.
Pulse 1/4 cup blueberries, 1/4 cup walnuts, vinegar, shallot, sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor to form a chunky paste. With the motor running, add oil until incorporated. Transfer the dressing to a large bowl.
Sprinkle steak with pepper and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Oil the grill rack (see Tips). Grill the steak about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare, 6 minutes per side for medium. Let rest on a clean cutting board for 5 minutes.
Add spinach to the bowl with the dressing; toss to coat. Divide the spinach among 4 plates. Thinly slice the steak crosswise. Top the spinach with the steak, feta and the remaining blueberries and walnuts.
Spicy Quinoa, Cucumber and Tomato Salad
Yield: serves 6
1 cup quinoa
3 cups water
Salt to taste
2 cups diced cucumber
1 small red onion, finely minced (optional)
2 cups finely diced tomatoes
1 to 2 jalapeno or Serrano peppers (to taste), seeded if desired and finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus several sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 avocado, sliced, for garnish
Place the quinoa in a bowl, and cover with cold water. Let sit for five minutes. Drain through a strainer, and rinse until the water runs clear. Bring the 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add salt (1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon) and the quinoa. Bring back to a boil, and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and translucent; each grain should have a little thread. Drain off the water in the pan through a strainer, and return the quinoa to the pan. Cover the pan with a clean dishtowel, replace the lid and allow to sit for 10 minutes. If making for the freezer, uncover and allow to cool, then place in plastic bags. Flatten the bags and seal.
Meanwhile, place the finely diced cucumber in a colander, and sprinkle with salt. Toss and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Rinse the cucumber with cold water, and drain on paper towels. If using the onion, place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit for five minutes, then drain, rinse with cold water and drain on paper towels.
Combine the tomatoes, chiles, cilantro, vinegar, lime juice and olive oil in a bowl. Add the cucumber and onion, season to taste with salt, and add the quinoa and cilantro. Toss together, and taste and adjust seasonings. Serve garnished with sliced avocado and cilantro sprigs.
Asian Cucumber Ribbon Salad
Gourmet | October 2001
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 1/2 English cucumbers (1 1/4 lb total), halved crosswise
Bring vinegar and sugar to a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then cool to room temperature. Stir in soy sauce and sesame oil.
Cut cucumber lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick ribbons using a mandoline or other manual slicer. Toss cucumber with dressing and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Cooks' note: Do not let dressed cucumber salad stand more than 20 minutes before serving, or it will become soggy.
Herb Roasted Pork Loin and Potatoes
6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
salt and pepper to taste
1 (4 pound) boneless pork loin roast
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a pot with enough water to cover, boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes. Drain, cool, and place in a bowl. Toss with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, chives, salt, and pepper.
Rub the pork loin roast with 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and onion powder. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place the roast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan, and cook 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Arrange the potatoes around the roast, and continue cooking 50 minutes, to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Remove from heat, cover with foil, and let sit 15 minutes before slicing.
Apple Apricot Stuffed Pork Loin
Yield: Serves 4
2 pounds pork loin roast
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
6 dried apricots, minced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage)
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Trim pork loin of fat and sheath. Butterfly or roll cut the pork loin. If you butterfly it, pound it to about 1 inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine the apple, apricots, Parmesan cheese and sage. Mix well. Spread apple mixture over the pork. Roll the pork loin back up and tie with kitchen twine. Space the string about 2 inches apart. Secure the stuffed pork loin tightly. Preheat grill and prepare for indirect grilling. Coat the outside of the pork loin roast with olive oil. Let the stuffed pork loin roast sit for about 15 to 20 minutes before you place it on the grill.
Place the stuffed pork loin over the direct heat on your grill to brown the outside. Roll so that the entire surface gets about 2 minutes of direct heat. Transfer to the indirect portion of the grill and continue grilling for about 30 minutes. Check for doneness with an instant read meat thermometer. Remember to take several readings from the center of the pork loin and to consider the lowest to be accurate.
Remove the stuffed pork loin roast from the grill. Let is stand for about 5 minutes, then carve pork loin into even slices end to end. Make the slices about 1 inch thick and use a very sharp knife so you can get a good slice that shows the spiral of the stuffed pork loin.
Honey Dijon Baked Chicken
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup Dijon or spicy brown mustard
3 teaspoons curry powder
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Dash ground cayenne pepper
4 split chicken breast halves, bone-in, skin removed or left on
In a bowl, combine the honey, mustard, curry powder, butter, and peppers; blend well. Wash chicken breasts and pat dry. Trim away any excess fat and remove skin, if desired. Arrange the chicken breasts, skin or meaty side up, in a lightly greased baking pan. Coat the chicken with the honey mixture. Cover with foil and refrigerate for an hour or two.
Bake the chicken, covered, in a 375° oven for 45 minutes. Remove foil and baste the chicken. Continue baking, uncovered, for 30 minutes longer, basting every 10 to 15 minutes.
Rosemary-Lemon Roasted Chicken Breasts
Makes 4 servings
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest
4 split bone-in chicken breasts, about 2 pounds
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Coat a baking sheet and wire rack with cooking spray.
2. Combine the rosemary, garlic, lemon juice and zest in a small bowl. Gently lift the skin off each breast and spread the rosemary mixture on the breast; replace the skin. Rub the olive oil over the skin and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Place the chicken skin-side up on the wire rack.
3. Roast in the middle of the oven until a thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the breast registers 165 degrees, about 34 to 38 minutes