Goat cheese with candied almonds

a plate of goat cheese crusted with candied almonds and surrounded by crackers
Today is the first official day of my mid-life gap year. To start, I overslept and then failed to attend a 10:30 a.m. yoga class. Not an encouraging start to a year that’s supposed to change my life. I did, however, manage a walk around the neighborhood and took a shower. I remember reading somewhere that you should take a shower every day to avoid sinking into depression. Well, I managed that, at least.  Also, there’s an electrician here repairing lighting issues I’ve been meaning to get to for a few years. All-in-all, not a bad first day.

This recipe is based on a goat cheese appetizer we devoured during an Innkeeper seminar last week in Asheville (Yes, I’m considering Innkeeping as my next adventure.


Goat Cheese with Candied Almonds


Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 log goat cheese

Directions

  1. Melt sugar in a skillet over medium-low heat without stirring. Sugar syrup should be tan to golden brown once melted.
  2. Add sliced almonds and stir to coat almonds well. Remove from heat and spread almonds on a silicone mat, sheet pan, or parchment paper to cool completely.
  3. Crush almonds using a rolling pin or food processor until crumbs are a bit smaller than pea sized.
  4. Roll goat cheese in candied almond crumbs, pressing crumbs on as needed until cheese is well coated. Serve with crackers or toast slices.

Savory Brussels Sprout & Caramelized Onion Galette

Savory Galette

Every Superhero has one great nemesis. Batman has Joker. Superman has Lex Luthor. My nemesis is named Inertia. Inertia convinces me to sleep an extra hour; she calls me to my comfy couch, and encourages me to get lost in formulaic television rather than creating something of my own. Inertia’s power frightens me. Without her, there’s no telling what I can do, yet I don’t know how to rid myself of her. This layoff has given me approximately 40 weeks to reinvent myself. 40 weeks seems like plenty of time, but not when Inertia sits at my left hand, whispering to me, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, start tomorrow.”


Savory Brussels Sprouts & Caramelized Onion Galette


Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • 4 Large Brussels sprouts, cut in half and finely shredded (about 1 1/2 cups of leaves)
  • 1/3 cup Canadian bacon, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 1/3 cup All-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 3 Tablespoons plus 1 Tablespoon milk

Directions

  1. Sauté onion in butter until beginning to soften. Add Brussels sprouts and bacon and continue cooking until onions are soft and golden. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and thyme. Combine canola oil and 3 Tablespoons milk in a measuring cup. Pour oil mixture over flour mixture and mix well. Place dough between two sheets of waxed paper and roll into a 12” circle. Place on a sheet pan, remove waxed paper.
  3. Spread filling on dough, leaving a ¾” border. Sprinkle filling with feta cheese. Brush border with remaining 1 Tablespoon milk, fold border towards center, just barely enclosing filling and pleating as you go. Brush top of dough with any remaining milk.
  4. Bake galette 25-30 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Lamb Keftedes in Tomato Sauce

Greek Lamb Meatballs

“You’re HOW old?” They ask with such incredulity you would think I told them I have leprosy or I’m ½ human, ½ cyborg. “No, you’re lying. You can’t be.” Why would I lie about being old enough to be the grandmother of a 10 year old – and without the words “teenage mom” having passed anyone’s lips? After the initial shock wears off, I’m usually told that I look good for my age. The kiss of death – for my age, which really means I’m looking a bit haggard, but not when you consider I’m a woman of advanced years.

Yeah, I’m staring down a milestone birthday, deal with it. I have. Yes, of course I have regrets – I wish I had pursued my dreams earlier (or figured out what they were, for that matter), lived larger and bolder, loved with greater abandon, had the courage to make my mark on this world, balls to the wall. However, just because I’m no longer chugging up the hill, it doesn’t mean my life’s best parts are over. This is merely a new chapter, a new beginning and, this old dog’s looking for some new tricks.


Lamb Keftedes in Tomato Sauce

  • Servings: 16 meatballs
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Ingredients

  • ½ onion, grated
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk, beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon dried mint
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 slices fresh white bread crumbs
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 14 oz. can chopped tomatoes
  • 14 oz. can low sodium beef broth
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 wide strips orange zest
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Chopped parsley

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 13×9 pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine, onion, eggs, mint, oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne, add bread crumbs and lamb. Season with salt and pepper and mix until combined. Shape into 16 torpedo-shaped meatballs. Dredge in flour and place in pan. Bake approximately 40 minutes, turning over after 20 minutes, until browned.
  2. Meanwhile combine tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, garlic, orange zest and bay leaf in a large skillet. Heat on medium high until thickened. Add meatballs and simmer until meatballs absorb some of the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parsley and serve with fried potatoes.

Curried Shrimp Appetizer

Shrimp Appetizer with Cilantro Chutney

When her family home was finally tenant-ready, scrubbed clean of 40+ years of memories, she foolishly believed she would never return; that these renters would somehow morph into buyers without her involvement. She dreaded opening that front door again, scared of releasing nearly forgotten childhood sadness into the blinding daylight.  This house, this street, this city, no longer held significance for her, scorched of sentimentality.  As if to prove it, she never calls it “our home” or “mom’s home.” She either says, “The Norwood street house” or, more aptly, “The Albatross.”

Curried Shrimp Appetizer

Ingredients

    Curried Shrimp
  • 4 teaspoons coriander, ground
  • 2 teaspoons cumin, ground
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon clove, ground
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ lbs. raw shrimp, tail on
  • Cilantro Chutney
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems removed
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger
  • 1 serrano chili, seeds removed
  • 6 scallions, white and pale green parts
  • 8 to 10 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • water, as needed

Directions

  1. Measure all curry spices except salt into a small, dry sauté pan. Cook until fragrant. Remove from heat and add salt. Set aside.
  2. Combine chutney ingredients except water in a blender  Add enough water to blend until chutney resembles pesto. Set aside.
  3. Rinse and dry shrimp well. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with curry, mixing until shrimp is covered with curry.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add shrimp and sauté until pink and opaque, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Serve shrimp at room temperature with chutney.