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Fava Beans with Sage & Cheese Ravioli

Favas with cheese ravioliFava beans are among my springtime favorites. As delicious and versatile as favas are, I wish they were faster to prep. At my farmers market, growers sell sweet peas, shelled, in large bowls for scooping. Not so for favas. But let’s not get discouraged. This is a super easy recipe. Once the favas are shelled and lightly cooked, this is totally worth the fava time. If you want, shell the favas a day ahead and refrigerate.

favas in basket

Fava beans from the Mountain View CA farmers market.

favas raw and cooked

Raw favas in and out of pod. Cooked favas with skins removed.

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Fava Beans with Sage & Cheese Ravioli
Makes 2 hearty dinner servings

8  fava pods or more (40 beans +)
16 oz. cheese ravioli (frozen Lucca 3-Cheese is a good choice)
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried rubbed sage leaves (try McCormick’s Dalmatian sage leaves)
Shredded Parmesan, Romano or other robust cheese

Split fava pods with your fingers and remove beans. In a 4-quart pot, bring water to a boil; salt lightly. Add favas and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove with a wire strainer, rinse with cold water and drain. Slip skins off favas and discard. Meanwhile, keep water in pot simmering.

Melt butter with olive oil in a large skillet. Add sage and simmer very gently. Meanwhile, add ravioli to pot of boiling water. Cook as directed, 2–6 minutes depending on the brand and size of ravioli.  Note: The cooked ravioli will be a bit green from the favas. If you prefer, use a fresh pot of water.

When ravioli is cooked, drain well and add to skillet along with fava beans. Toss to coat and warm up favas. Serve immediately topped with cheese.                                                 Recipe and photos by Rita Held

fava & ravioli w cheese

Posted in Entrees, Rita's Kitchen | 6 Responses

Bedevil those Easter Eggs

Get cracking with Rita and Rosie’s Deviled Easter Eggs!  Of course, Rita’s have a splash of bitters — but wait! How about Rosie’s mashed potato deviled eggs? A combo of mashed potato flakes, cheddar and bacon bits. Think of warm twice-baked potatoes tucked into a deviled egg. Either way, both recipes are unique. Bitters adds an umami flavor of sorts, the way soy sauce or anchovy do — a sophisticated twist along with Romano cheese, Dijon mustard and cayenne.

Here are the recipes:  Rita’s Be-Deviled Eggs    Rosie’s Devil-ish Eggs

What do you do with all your Easter eggs?  Please share your tricks and tips with us; there are many ways to ‘peel an egg’!

Hard-cooked egg whys and hows

  1. Why hard-cooked not hard-boiled?  Because as this video explains, cook the eggs, don’t boil them. So simple it’s almost hilarious.
  2. Why is there a gray ring around the yolk? It’s a reaction between the sulfur in the white and iron in the yolk that at temperatures above 158F turn to ferrous sulfide. It’s only unsightly, not a bad egg. Too much chemistry?  Just don’t overcook! And, immediately dunk the hot cooked eggs in very cold water (ice water even). 
  3. Why are some eggs hard to peel? Usually because they are too fresh. There is a membrane that sticks to the shell of a fresh egg which pretty much calls off all bets on peeling. The longer past laying the egg is, the more chance for the egg to breath through the porous shell, so the membrane loosens and an airspace develops. You can speed up this process by leaving eggs at room temperature overnight (no they will not go bad). The more the eggs might go from refrigeration to non-refrigeration which could happen (but shouldn’t) during transportation and handling, the faster the breathing process happens.  So boil or scramble older eggs, fry or poach the freshest eggs before that air space develops and loosens the white.                           Disclaimer:  The pros* at Serious Eats Food Lab say, “Here’s the truth: There is no 100% Fool Proof method”.  The Food Lab also says that egg freshness is not the issue. (Rosie disagrees — as some of you know, she worked in the egg industry and with the California Egg Board many years ago and has plenty of egg-sperience!)  So, let us know your experience with this!
  4. How can I keep deviled eggs from slipping off the plate?
    1. First, after peeling, slice a very thin piece off the bottom of each half, just enough to make about a 1/2 inch flat area.
    2. Spread clover sprouts on the plate to make a non-slippery bed for the eggs.
    3. Place stuffed eggs on an ‘egg plate’ with divots but those usually don’t hold very many eggs.

Prior to founding SeriousEats.com, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt worked at America’s Test Kitchen — well-known for its detailed kitchen testing. He has also worked in restaurants, giving him a wide-range of experience and credibility.

Posted in Appetizers & Snacks, Rita & Rosie's Kitchens | 4 Responses

Banana Raisin French Toast

Banana Raisin French Toast

Banana stuffed French toast is super easy to make in this oven-baked recipe. There’s no tricky bread pocket to slice and stuff. Just layer sliced bananas between raisin bread in a casserole dish then drench in a cream cheese custard and bake to a creamy-on-the-inside, crunchy-on-the-outside French toast. Prepare it the night before or a few hours ahead then bake just before serving. With bananas and raisins it’s a double-fruit French Toast ready when you are. Serve with fresh strawberries and a side of bacon or sausage if you like. Pretty and simple for Easter brunch or any day!

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4

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Banana Raisin French Toast

Makes 4-8 servings     Prep Time: 10 minutes     Bake time: 40-50 minutes

8   slices Sun-Maid Raisin Bread
2   medium bananas cut in 1/4-inch slices
1    cup milk
4    ounces cream cheese, at room temp or microwave 20 seconds
3    eggs
1/3 cup sugar or 3 tablespoons honey
3    tablespoons all-purpose flour
2    teaspoons vanilla extract
dash of nutmeg and/or cinnamon (optional)
Powdered sugar (optional)

HEAT oven to 350° F. (If baking immediately).
PLACE four slices of raisin bread in a single layer in a buttered 9-inch square baking dish. Top with bananas and four slices of raisin bread.
BLEND milk, cream cheese, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla and nutmeg and cinnamon if using in a blender or food processor until smooth.
POUR over raisin bread. Let stand 5 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
BAKE 40 to 45 minutes (50 to 55 minutes if refrigerated) until set and top is toasted. Let stand 10 minutes.
CUT French toast into diagonal halves and remove with spatula. Dust servings with powdered sugar if desired.

Photo by www.kellyburgoyne.com

Posted in Breads, Entrees, Rosie's Kitchen | 10 Responses

Kale Supper Saute

Kale Potato SauteFor simple week-night suppers, I often “toss together” foods I have on-hand: yellow onion, garlic, Yukon gold potatoes, and kale (usually Tuscan kale, aka lacinato kale). In my freezer there’s typically cooked sausage of some type or another. For this healthful, one-pan meal, I prefer Aidells Portabello & Swiss Cheese smoked chicken sausage. I use just one sausage, so yes, this is a good-for-you supper.
To add a yummy background flavor, I especially like “McCormick’s Gourmet” Italian Seasoning. It’s my recently-discovered, and now favorite, dried seasoning mix. It’s not just for Italian-style dishes at all! Rather, it’s a delicious, just-the-right blend of marjoram, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, savory, and sage. Quite versatile.

This recipe is an ad lib, do-your-own-thing, week-night supper. Change it up a bit! Let me know your variations or tell me about one of your own simple supper routines.
Kale Potatoes & Sausage

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Kale Supper Sauté
Makes two dinner-size servings

1 large bunch Tuscan kale
3 Yukon gold potatoes or red potatoes
Olive oil
1/3 medium yellow onion, sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt & fresh ground pepper
1 link Aidells sausage of your choice, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced
McCormick’s Gourmet Italian Seasoning, or a combination of dried rosemary and thyme

Rinse kale. Cut out thick stems at bottom of leaves and discard. Coarsely chop kale and set aside to microwave (blanch)* after the potatoes.

Cut potatoes into bite-size pieces. Salt generously. Cover and microwave until easily pierced with a fork (no water needed in microwave dish). Drizzle some olive oil into a large sauté pan. Brown potatoes, turning as needed and salting more. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Add more olive oil to the same pan. Sauté onion and garlic for a minute or so. Add sliced sausage and a generous shake of dried herbs; stir.

Meanwhile, microwave* kale on high—covered—for 1 minute. Again, no water needed. Transfer kale to pan (tongs work well for doing this). Turn up heat. Sauté and stir, sprinkling with salt, pepper, more dried herbs and olive oil as desired. Stir in cooked potatoes and serve.

* Kitchen Note
If you like chewy kale, no need to microwave/blanch it. Just sauté it longer, then lower heat a bit and cover pan for 5 minutes or so to soften. I sometimes add a splash of red wine vinegar for some tang at this point, or a splash of water.

Posted in Entrees, Rita's Kitchen | Leave a comment

Stir Fry for Year of the Monkey

Simple Stir Fry

February 8 marked the beginning of Chinese New Year which is celebrated through February 22. So Rita’s Basic Stir Fry is just right for this month. You’d think cooking a stir fry would be a snap for me, because I’ve help my mother-in-law chop, stir, sauce and serve many a banquet dish.  But neither she nor I measured while we cooked.

Rita’s formula is perfect: 1 cup water plus 1 tablespoon of each sauce ingredient – so it IS a snap! (What wasn’t a snap was our guests driving and parking in San Francisco Chinatown to attend our wedding banquet 32 years ago ON Chinese New Year parade day — I hope they’ve forgiven us by now!).  And don’t forget the little red Lai See money envelops this month. Traditional etiquette says adults give Lai See to family and friends (usually $1-100, but here are some guidelines) symbolizing auspiciousness, wealth and good fortune. It’s sometimes a funny exchange of pass-the-envelope.
Gung Hay Fat Choy! And Happy Anniversary Bernie 🙂

Basic Stir Fry Recipe
(see printable recipe below)
Vary your stir fry by the vegetables you have on-hand and your choice of chicken, tofu, beef or pork. Or make it completely vegetarian. This time I had a lot of broccoli and leeks from my Riverdog Farm CSA , and some bell pepper leftover from a crudite tray.
Your choice veggies

Chop vegetables into bite-size pieces to make about 4 cups. Chopped stir fry veggies







Stir together 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon each cornstarch, cream sherry, oyster sauce and soy sauce plus 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil.Stir Fry sauce ingredients

Add chopped garlic and fresh ginger to a hot skillet or wok with 1 Tbsp oil. Check Rita’s tips for freezer ready ginger and garlic. I use my Circulon 14-inch Stir Fry pan over medium-high heat, or use your widest skillet.

Garlic and ginger

Brown chicken, or your choice of beef, tofu, pork. Remove meat to a plate.

Brown chicken

Add vegetables; stir fry about 2 minutes. I added the leeks with the vegetables. If using yellow onion, see Rita’s instructions below.Vegetables

Return chicken to pan and add sauce. Cook over high heat stirring constantly until sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately over hot cooked rice. Top with toasted cashews if desired.Chicken Stirfry
Print This Recipe
Rita’s Basic Stir Fry
enough for 2 servings with rice

7-8   oz. boneless chicken, pork or beef, sliced
1+    Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

1       cup water (3/4 cup for thicker sauce or use a bit more cornstarch)
1       Tbsp. cornstarch
1       Tbsp. soy sauce (low sodium or regular)
1       Tbsp. cream sherry  (Christian Brothers or any inexpensive brand)
1       Tbsp. oyster sauce  (Lee Kum Kee brand or your choice)
1       tsp. toasted sesame oil  (Dynasty 5 oz bottle, or your favorite brand)

1       Tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil
1       Tbsp. minced fresh garlic (or freezer ready)
1       Tbsp. minced fresh ginger (or freezer ready)

1/2   cup large-dice yellow or white onion (or 1/2 small onion)
1       large stalk celery, sliced (optional)
3-4   cups cut-up veggies (broccoli, asparagus, green beans, snow peas, carrots)
Cashews (optional garnish)

Place sliced chicken in a small bowl and drizzle with soy sauce. Stir to coat chicken; set aside.

Measure water. Stir in cornstarch and remaining sauce ingredients; set aside.

In a large sauté pan, gently cook garlic and ginger in oil for about 1 minute. Increase heat and add chicken; stir-fry until almost cooked. Transfer to a warm plate.

Add onion to pan; stir-fry 1 minute. Add veggies and continue to stir-fry 1-2 minutes.*

Stir sauce well and pour into pan. Cook 1-2 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in cooked chicken; heat through. Serve immediately with hot steamed rice. Sprinkle with cashews, if desired.

* Rita’s Kitchen Notes:
Do not overcook chicken and veggies. Veggies should be crisp; they will continue to cook in the sauce.

Additional peanut oil may be needed for the vegetables. If the pan gets too dry, simply splash in a bit of water or some of the un-stirred sauce. If the pan browns a bit, that adds flavor to the stir-fry!

*Rosie’s Kitchen Notes:
Adjust the amount of garlic and ginger to your taste. I like lots of ginger and little less garlic.

Add chopped fresh cilantro; top with peanuts or almonds instead of cashews.

Photos taken with IPhone by Rosie 

Posted in Entrees, Rita & Rosie's Kitchens | 4 Responses

Chili — Southwest & Midwest Style

Chipotle Black Bean Chili
Yes, it’s that time of year. Time to try one of these warming winter “stews” —  Chipotle Black Bean Chili (with bitters), or my authentic Cincinnati Chili.  The Cinci chili was inspired by my cousin Anne who lives there. And yes, spaghetti makes the foundation for the south Ohio specialty.  If you have a favorite chili, let us know! Tell us about it in Comments (aka Responses) below this post. If you’d like to add a link to your chili, please do so.   PS: My favorite Sloppy Joes recipe is suitable for this time of year as well. Humm… Now, which to make?!

Chili - Black Bean and Cincinnati

Posted in Entrees, Rita's Kitchen | 8 Responses

Peppermint Ice Cream Truffles

Peppermint Ice Cream Truffles

These ice cream truffles make a stunning holiday or New Years presentation and are simpler to make than they look. The trick is to freeze the scooped ice cream balls before attempting to dip in the chocolate. And work quickly with just a few ‘truffles’ at a time. Another trick is to line a metal baking tray with plastic wrap, chill it in the freezer, then set it on a frozen ice pack to receive the ice cream balls while you’re scooping. I figured that out when I created this recipe for Dreyer’s Ice Cream in the middle of summer when my kitchen was a lot hotter than it is at Christmastime!

Set the dipped truffles in mini muffin papers in a box or tray, then freeze until ready to serve. Pass to guests for a bite-size dessert or nestle a few in individual dessert dishes. Enjoy quickly!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Print This Recipe

Peppermint Ice Cream Truffles

Active Prep Time: about 30 minutes
Plus Chill Time: 30 minutes
Makes about 16 truffles.

2 pints peppermint ice cream or favorite flavor- look for Dreyer’s Limited Edition Peppermint
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup (6 ounces) white baking chips
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
Colored sprinkles (optional)

  1. Line a metal baking tray or pan with wax paper or plastic wrap. Make space on freezer shelf and place pan in freezer until cold. Place a covered food storage container in freezer to receive dipped truffles.
  2. Remove ice cream from freezer and soften just enough to scoop easily. Working quickly with a 1–inch diameter scoop or two teaspoons, scoop 16 balls of ice cream and place on prepared pan. Freeze 30 minutes or until ice cream balls are hard. Hint: place pan on a frozen cold pack while scooping to keep ice cream cold.
  3. Place chocolate and white chips in separate small bowls. Add 2 tablespoons oil to each bowl. Heat one bowl at a time in microwave on medium power (50%) for 2-3 minutes, stirring well until melted and smooth, and bowl no longer feels warm. Repeat with the other bowl of chips.
  4. Loosen one frozen ice cream ball from the pan with a small spoon and set in a bowl of chocolate. Using two spoons, quickly spoon chocolate over ice cream until completely coated. Lift ice cream ball out of bowl allowing excess chocolate to drip back into bowl. Return truffle to pan. If using sprinkles, immediately shake sprinkles over top of truffle before chocolate hardens.
  5. Continue to dip ice cream balls one at a time, dipping eight balls into each type of chocolate. For chocolate drizzle, dip a fork or toothpick into the melted semi-sweet or white chocolate and drizzle over the opposite color ice cream truffle. Work in batches if needed, returning ice cream balls to freezer for 5-10 minutes to keep frozen before dipping. Place truffles in food storage container in freezer for up to 1 week.

Top photo by Eskite Photography; Styling by Kim Konecny Kissling

Rosie's peppermint truffles

Rosie’s Kitchen Peppermint Truffles — just as yummy & fun!

Posted in Desserts, Rosie's Kitchen | Leave a comment

Cranberry-Apricot Relish

Cranberry-Apricot RelishWhen there’s a lot to juggle in the kitchen, this sherry-laced relish is a welcome addition to holiday meals. It’s familiar, yet unique, and very easy. Make relish several days ahead. When ready to serve, warm it up just a bit in the microwave. While you’re prepping for Thanksgiving, perhaps try my Pumpkin Pie with orange bitters — dee-lish.

Print This Recipe

Warm Cranberry-Apricot Relish

Makes 1-1/2 cups

1-1/2 cups dried cranberries (about 7 oz.)
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup Holland House sherry cooking wine*
Zest of 1 orange

Combine ingredients in a 1-1/2 to 2 quart saucepan; stir well. Cook over medium heat until mixture just starts to boil, 2-3 minutes; stir. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool 20 minutes.

Stir in 2-4 tablespoons water if relish becomes too thick as it cools. Do the same for relish made several days ahead. Serve warm with roast beef, chicken, turkey or ham.

* Kitchen Note: If using your own favorite sherry, add 1/4 teaspoon salt to the recipe.

Nutrition information per 2 Tbsp: 290 calories, 0g protein, 22g carb, 0g fat, (0g sat. fat), 0mg chol,, 35mg sodium, 1g fiber

Recipe developed by Rita for Holland House Photo by Suzanne Carreiro

Posted in Rita's Kitchen, Sides and Sauces | Leave a comment

Turkey Stuffing-inside or out?

artichoke stuffing

I’ve never thought twice about stuffing a turkey (or chicken); the juices from the roasted bird add so much flavor. Yet, as Thanksgiving gatherings have come and gone over the years, I’ve become tired of the rather messy work involved — especially considering all the other foods and table settings. So in the interest of cooking simply, I started to experiment with “dressings” — those baked separately outside the turkey. The result? Wow. I will never stuff another bird again. With the right combination of flavors, textures and moistness, turkey dressing can be easy and quite delicious.

For this recipe, I combined aromatic vegetables cooked in wine with mushrooms and artichoke hearts. Along with crunchy toasted pecans, the result is a fantastic flavor combination. And yes, if you prefer, the dressing will stuff a small turkey or two 3 lb. chickens. Print This Recipe

Artichoke Mushroom Dressing

Makes 12 cups

1 lb. (approx.) sliced French bread
1 can (13-14 oz.) artichoke hearts (not marinated artichokes)
4 Tbsp. butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
8 oz. pre-sliced mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. dried rubbed sage
1 cup Holland House white cooking wine*
1/2 cup toasted pecans, hazelnuts or walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup+ chicken broth

Spread bread slices out on sheet trays for several hours to dry out a bit. Or place in a warm oven for 15 minutes. Tear bread into bite-size pieces. Measure 12 cups and place in a very large bowl.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 3-quart casserole dish or large shallow baking dish. Drain artichokes and cut into smaller pieces.

In a large skillet, combine butter, onion, celery and mushrooms. Cook over high heat 6-7 minutes. Stir in artichokes, poultry seasoning and sage; add cooking wine. Cook 5 minutes more; remove from heat.

Gradually spoon mixture and liquid over bread, tossing gently after each addition. Sprinkle in nuts. Drizzle with chicken broth and toss, using more broth of you prefer moist stuffing.

Spoon stuffing into buttered casserole dish. Cover and bake 45-50 minutes for a casserole dish, or 25-30 minutes for a shallow baking dish (13 x 9).

* In place of cooking wine, use a light, balanced white wine such as Chablis or Riesling. Holland House is my go-to cooking wine — real wine with a splash of salt (in this case a Chablis). What I like about Holland House, is that the flavor remains stable much longer than an open bottle of wine. And importantly, there’s no guess work about the type of wine to use — dry or a bit sweet or … Holland House hits the mark every time. If using table wine, add 1/2 teaspoon salt to it.

Nutrition information per cup (using cooking wine and 1/2 cup chicken broth): 200 calories, 6g protein, 26g carb, 8g fat, (3g sat. fat), 10mg chol,, 570mg sodium, 2g fiber

Recipe by Rita Held Header photo by Suzanne Carreiro
artichoke stuffing up close


Posted in Rita's Kitchen, Sides and Sauces | Leave a comment

Edamame Green Monster Dip

Green Monster Dip

Scare up this hummus with edamame beans and walnuts for your munchkins to dig into before their Halloween treats. A healthy bunch of parsley makes the scary-good green color, boosts Vitamins K and C, adds flavinoids too, which function as antioxidants. And of course loads of good omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber from the walnuts and the edamame. But most important, Green Monster Dip simply tastes good. So don’t save it just for Halloween. Serve it any time as a sandwich spread…cracker, chip or veggie dip…in wraps…on toast with tomatoes and fried egg… Let me know how you serve it!

And check out more great Halloween walnut recipes here. I love the spiders — BOO!
Print This Recipe

Green Monster Dip

Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

1 cup shelled edamame (soybeans), fresh or frozen and thawed
3/4 cup California walnuts
1/2 cup parsley, lightly packed
1/4 cup yogurt, plain
1 clove garlic, small, pressed
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place edamame, walnuts, parsley, yogurt, garlic and salt in food processor. Whirl until smooth.

Recipe developed by Rosemary Mark for California Walnuts. Photo by California Walnuts.
Food Styling by www.ifoodstylist.com

Posted in Appetizers & Snacks, Rosie's Kitchen, Sides and Sauces, Vegetarian | Leave a comment
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