recipes, food and cooking

April 1, 2005

Well it appears that spring is finally going to arrive here in Boston! Finally rain instead of snow... now if it will just melt what is left and in my front yard. I can tell you there is still well over a foot of it. This months newsletter is all about spring vegetables and fruits, a little something different. I've been busy adding new recipes at Razzle Dazzle Recipes where you will find a few new sections, new Ethnic recipes (links on the RDR Home page) and I will be adding more over the next month and a new Tea Recipes section.

     Mary Ellen        

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RECIPES FOR APRIL - SPRING IS AROUND THE CORNER - YEAH!

CHICKEN ASPARAGUS PARMESAN

6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1, 10 3/4 ounce can cream of asparagus soup
1 10 3/4 ounce can cream of celery soup
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
chopped asparagus spears, fresh

Place chicken breasts in a single layer in the bottom of baking pan. Lay the asparagus on top of the chicken breasts.

Mix soups, parmesan cheese, egg and milk together thoroughly and pour over top of asparagus and chicken.

Sprinkle top liberally with parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 45 minutes, or until chicken is done.

GARLICKY PASTA WITH ASPARAGUS AND TOMATOES

1 pound fresh asparagus
1 pound unpeeled medium size fresh shrimp
1 large head garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 plum tomatoes, quartered
6 ounces fusilli or corkscrew pasta
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese

Snap off tough ends of asparagus, remove scales from stalks with a knife or vegetable peeler. Cut asparagus into 2 inch pieces and set aside.

Peel shrimp and devein, if desired, set aside. Slice 1/4 inch from top of garlic head; place on aluminum foil. Drizzle garlic with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Seal foil around garlic. Bake at 425F for 10 minutes. Leave garlic in oven.

Place tomato in a 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan; drizzle with remaining 2 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Place in oven with garlic. Bake, without stirring, 20 minutes or until tomato wrinkles and begins to brown.

Place asparagus and shrimp over tomato. Bake with garlic 10 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and asparagus is tender. Remove garlic and pan from oven. Set tomato mixture aside.

Unwrap garlic; cool 5 minutes. Cook pasta in a large saucepan according to package directions; drain. Return to saucepan.

Separate garlic cloves; squeeze out soft pulp. Add garlic pulp, lemon juice and next 4 ingredients to pasta; toss gently. Add tomato mixture; toss gently. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4.

BAKED ASPARAGUS

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbls. chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound fresh asparagus
1/2 pound raw bacon
salt and pepper to taste
toothpicks

In a saute pan over medium heat, cook garlic and parsley in oil for 3 minutes. Break tough ends off asparagus

Lay 4-5 stalks of asparagus in the center of each strip of bacon; drizzle garlic oil over each bundle of asparagus; wrap the bacon around the stalk and secure with a toothpick. Lay asparagus bundles in a cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake in 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until bacon is cooked.

SALMON ASPARAGUS PIE

1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup sliced green onions, with tops
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese (6 ounces)
1 can (6 1/2 ounces) salmon or tuna, drained and flaked
1 3/4 cups milk
3 eggs
1 cup Bisquick baking mix
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease pie plate, 10 by 1 1/2-inches.

Sprinkle into pie plate in order listed: asparagus, onions, 3/4 cup of the cheese and the salmon. Beat remaining ingredients except remaining cheese in blender on high 15 seconds or with hand beater 1 minutes or until spoon. Pour into pie plate.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake about 2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

ASPARAGUS AND CHICKEN LASAGNA

4 lbs. fresh asparagus
1 lb. butter
2 C. flour
2 C. Chablis
4 tsp. lemon zest
2 C. Half and Half
2 C. Milk
16 oz. Ricotta Cheese
8 whole eggs
1 box Lasagna Noodles
9 boneless skinless Chicken Breasts, cooked
1 lb. Mozzarella Cheese
1 lb. Parmesan Cheese

Roast asparagus in a small amount of olive oil in oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Make the white sauce with the next six ingredients. Mix eggs, and Ricotta cheese together, and add this to the white sauce. Cook lasagna noodles as directed on package, and coat the noodles with sauce, and lay in a 9 by 13 inch casserole that has been coated with Pam.

Chop chicken and asparagus, spread over the noodles, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. One layer of noodles and repeat. Top with noodles, sauce and mozzarella cheese. Cook at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve after casserole has sat for 15 minutes. Topping of red sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

GRILLED NEW POTATOES AND ASPARAGUS

2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
6 small new red potatoes, quartered
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

Heat grill. In a large shallow bowl, combine 1 T oil, 1/4 t of salt and 1/4 t lemon pepper seasoning. Add potatoes; toss to coat. Place in grill basket. When read6y to grill, place grill basket on gas grill over medium heat (or coals). Cook 15 minutes, shaking grill basket occasionally to turn and mix potatoes. Meanwhile, place asparagus spears in same shallow bowl. Add remaining olive oil, salt, and lemon pepper seasoning, toss to coat.

Add asparagus to potatoes in grill basket. Cook about 10 minutes or until potatoes and asparagus are tender, shaking basket occasionally to turn and mix veggies.

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RHUBARB RECIPES

RHUBARB CHEESECAKE BARS

Crust layer:
1/2 c. cold butter
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Rhubarb layer:
4 c. sliced rhubarb
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. all-purpose flour

Cheesecake layer:
2 8-oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 eggs

Topping:
1 1/2 c. sour cream
3 T. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Additional chopped pecans, optional

In a bowl, cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans. Press into ungreased 13x9 cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Combine rhubarb, sugar and flour. Spoon over the hot crust. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour over hot rhubarb layer. Bake for 30 minutes.

Combine sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Spread over hot cheesecake. Cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight. Sprinkle with additional pecans if desired.

RHUBARB BREAD

1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup oil
1 egg
1 C buttermilk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups diced rhubarb
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 Tbl soft butter
1/4 C granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 2 8x4-inch loaf pans.

Combine in a bowl the brown sugar and oil. Stir well until smooth. Add egg, buttermilk, salt, soda, vanilla and flour. Blend until moist. Fold in rhubarb and nuts. Turn batter into prepared loaf pans.

Combine butter, and sugar until crumbly: Sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 350 F 50 to 55 minutes, or until bread passes the toothpick test. Turn out onto racks and cool before slicing. Slice into about 20 slices per loaf.

RHUBARB WALNUT MUFFINS

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven 325 degrees F.

Combine dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients, mixing only until moist. Fold in rhubarb and walnuts. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over muffins.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

RHUBARB CUSTARD CAKE

1 yellow or white cake mix.
3 Cups chopped rhubarb.
1 Cup sugar
2 Cups whipping cream.

Mix cake mix according to directions on box and put cake in 9 x 13 inchgreased pan.

Arrange rhubarb evenly over top of uncooked cake. Sprinkle sugar evenly over rhubarb. Pour unwhipped cream evenly over rhubarb. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Cool and then chill and keep in refrigerator, so that the custard sets up.

The cream, sugar, and rhubarb will go to the bottom of the pan forming a
custard - like layer.

RHUBARB CHEESECAKE

Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter or margarine
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping
3 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb, thawed and drained
1 cup granulated sugar (optional)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 to 4 drops red food coloring (optional)

Crust:
In a bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and salt; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in walnuts and vanilla extract. Press into a greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool slightly.

Meanwhile, prepare filling.

Filling:
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla extract; mix well. Pour over the crust.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until center is set and edges are light brown.
Cool.

Topping:
In a saucepan, combine rhubarb, sugar, water, cornstarch and cinnamon; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in food coloring if desired. Remove from the heat; Cool. Pour over filling. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Yields 12 to 15 servings.

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SPRING VEGETABLES

CREAM OF SPRING ONION SOUP

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) butter
1 1/2 cups (about 4 1/2 ounces) sliced spring onions, "rare ripes" (scallions), ramps or leeks*
2 cups (about 8 ounces) thinly sliced white onions
3 1/2 cups (10 ounces) sliced mushrooms (domestic or wild; morels, if you can find them)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3 cups (two 10 1/2 ounce cans) chicken broth
2 cups (16 ounces) milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound (3 to 4 packed cups) chopped fresh spinach; if you're using fresh baby spinach, there's no need to stem or chop it
1/2 cup (4 ounces) light cream or evaporated milk (optional)

*Use all of the white part and about 2 inches of the green part or, in the case of leeks, as much of the green as is tender; don't use the tough parts.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and saute the spring onions or leeks, onions, and mushrooms until the onions are translucent and the liquid from the mushrooms has mostly evaporated.

Stir in the flour, and cook gently for several minutes. Stir in the chicken broth or water a little at a time; if you keep stirring, it won't become lumpy. Add the milk, and bring to a boil. The liquid will thicken just a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste, the chopped fresh spinach, and cream or milk, if desired. Bring soup to a simmer, and serve it immediately, so it retains its bright green color. Yield: 8 cups, about 6 servings.

SPRING VEGETABLE PIE

Crust:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter or vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces, chilled
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
Filling:
1 cup sugar snap peas (about 4 ounces) cut diagonally in half
1 cup (1-inch segments) asparagus (about 4 ounces)
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons flour, divided use
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon minced chives
Salt, freshly ground black pepper
1 medium sized red or Yukon Gold potato, cooked, peeled and cut into
1/2-inch dice

Prepare the crust: Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add ice water, stirring to moisten. Gather dough into a ball. Shape into a flattened disc, wrap tightly with plastic and chill while preparing the filling.

Blanch peas, asparagus: Place peas and asparagus in pot of boiling water.
Blanch about 1 minute; drain and set aside.

Make the mushroom sauce: Heat butter in a medium pan. Add mushrooms and saute over medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons flour to form a paste. Add half-and-half, stirring well. Add milk; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened - 3 to 5 minutes. Add cheese, dill,
chives; salt and pepper to taste, stirring until cheese melts. Add peas, asparagus and potato. Set aside.

Assemble the pie: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a shallow, 7- to
8-inch diameter baking dish. On a board dusted with remaining tablespoon of flour, roll out crust to a 10-inch circle. Spoon filling into baking dish. Gently place crust over filling. Press down to seal edges, then fold overhanging dough into a rim.

Bake the pie: Make slash in center of pie to vent steam. Bake in preheated
oven until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes; filling will thicken during standing time.

FRESH FETTUCCINE WITH SPRING VEGETABLES AND CHICKEN

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon tarragon
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
4 ounces snow peas, trimmed
1 cup frozen baby peas
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 packages (9 oz. each) fresh fettuccine or linguine, cooked according to package directions
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

Heat oil in large skillet over high heat. Add chicken. Sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate.

Add onion to skillet and cook 3 minutes. Carefully add chicken broth and tarragon and bring to boil. Add asparagus and cook just until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and return to boil. Add snow peas, baby peas and chicken to sauce and cook 2 minutes more. Stir in lemon peel.

Toss sauce with hot pasta in large serving bowl. Sprinkle with chives.

Makes 6 servings.

PER SERVING: Calories 435.Total Fat 10 g (Saturated Fat 3 g).Cholesterol 157 mg.Sodium 858 mg.Carbohydrates 55 g.Protein 32 g

SAUTEED FRESH SPINACH

1 10 oz bag Fresh Spinach, washed, drained & stemmed
2 T Olive Oil
1 - 3 Cloves Fresh Garlic, sliced thin
Salt
1/4 t Red Pepper Flakes
1 t fresh Lemon Juice, opt.

Heat Olive Oil in Deep vessel over medium heat. Add sliced Garlic and Red Pepper Flakes and saute about one minute. Add Spinach, toss to coat with Oil, cover and steam about 2 minutes.

Season with salt to taste and a squirt of fresh Lemon Juice, if desired.

Serves 3

FRESH SPINACH PESTO SAUCE

1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 cups fresh spinach leaves, firmly packed
2 teaspoons dried basil or 2 tablespoons fresh
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Saute onion and garlic in about 4 tablespoons of olive oil until onion is soft and transparent; remove from heat and cool slightly.

Spoon onion and oil mixture into blender or food processor. Add spinach, basil and salt. Process until mixture is finely chopped.

With motor running, pour in remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in slow but steady stream.

Blend to coarse puree, then stoop motor, add cheese and process just a moment.

Makes 1 1/4 cups sauce.

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SPRING SALADS

SPRING GREENS FRUIT SALAD

1/2 cup champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
Dash of salt
6 cups mixed baby greens
2 cups sliced strawberries
2 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced
1 cup diced Gouda cheese (4 ounces)
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Mix vinegar, oil, honey, marjoram and salt.

Mix baby greens, strawberries, peaches and cheese in large serving bowl. Add vinegar mixture; toss to coat. Sprinkle with hazelnuts.

12 servings.

MUSHROOM SPINACH SALAD WITH TARRAGON EGG DRESSING

For dressing:
2 hard-boiled large eggs, yolks mashed and whites chopped fine
3 tablespoons tarragon white-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons minced shallots (about 2)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound fresh spinach, coarse stems discarded and leaves washed well and spun dry
10 ounces fresh white mushrooms

In a small bowl whisk together yolks, vinegar, and mustard and add oil in a stream, whisking constantly until dressing is emulsified.

Stir in egg whites, shallots, tarragon, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Thinly slice spinach leaves and spread on a platter. Cut mushrooms into very thin slices and mound on spinach. Spoon dressing over salad.

Yield: 6 servings

SPINACH SALAD

Fresh spinach, washed and torn into bite size pieces
1 fresh orange (can use canned mandarin, drained) peeled and broken into
Segments or sliced into rounds
Fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
Red onion, sliced into thin slivers
Fresh mushrooms, sliced

Place the spinach on a large platter then scatter the rest of the ingredients over the spinach. Pour dressing lightly over the salad or let everyone add the amount of dressing they like. Serves about 6

Dressing

1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. Dry mustard powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (do not use olive oil)
1 tsp. grated onion

In a large bowl mix sugar, mustard powder, salt and paprika, add in the vinegar. Mix for about 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved, this may take more time.Slowly add in the oil and continue to mix until thick. Add the onion and beat a few more minutes. A mixer with a stand comes in handy for this dressing. This keeps for about a week in the refrigerator and is great over tossed salads and fruit.

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KITCHEN TIPS

Remove sticky labels by applying baby oil to the label. Let it set and then remove the label by scrubbing with nylon.

When microwaving, cover items with coffee filters to prevent splattering in your microwave.

For evenly rounded tops on nut breads and muffins, grease baking pans or muffin cups on the bottom and only 1/2 inch up the sides. Do this and your batter will cling to the sides of the pan instead of sliding back down.

For soft, shiny crust on bread, brush loaves with margarine or butter before baking. For glossy, crispy crust, brush before baking with milk, water, or beaten egg.

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RESTAURANT RECIPES

THE FAIRMONT COPLEY PLAZA'S LOBSTER BISQUE

2 whole lobsters
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3 T. cognac
3 T. sherry
2 T. tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
Pinch salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
6 c. water
3 oz. (6 T.) butter
3 oz. (6 T.) flour
1 c. heavy cream

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the lobsters and cook for 4 minutes. Remove, drain and cut the lobsters into chunks. (Leave the shell on.)

In another large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the cut-up lobster, onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the cognac and sherry. Add the tomato paste, stir, and continue to cook for a few minutes. Add the bay leaf, thyme, salt and cayenne pepper.

Add the water to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 1 hour. Strain the lobster stock. Pick out and reserve as much lobster meat as possible; discard the rest of the solids.

In the same pot used for the stock, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir to combine. Add stock and stir while you bring to a boil. Add the heavy cream. Adjust the seasonings if needed. Add lobster meat and serve. Makes 4 servings.

STREGA RISTORANTE'S FETTUCCINE ALLA STREGA

For the fettuccine:
3 1/2 c. flour, plus additional for sprinkling
3 extra-large eggs
1/2 c. water
1/4 t. salt

For the sauce:
16 oz. uncooked jumbo shrimp
16 oz. uncooked large sea scallops
3 T. butter
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 c. Strega liqueur
3/4 c. heavy cream or half-and-half
Pinch saffron
8 oz. fresh baby spinach, washed and dried
Salt and pepper, to taste

To make the fettuccine: Put the flour in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the remaining ingredients. With a fork, mix the flour into the liquid and continue to mix by hand for 10 minutes until a ball is formed. The dough should not be too sticky or too dry. (Add a bit of flour if it is too sticky; a bit of water if it is too dry.)

While making the sauce, bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Sprinkle some flour on the countertop or another flat surface. Spread the dough and roll with a rolling pin, using a forward-and-back motion. Sprinkle on more flour as needed to prevent sticking, and turn the dough occasionally so it flattens evenly. Continue until the desired thickness is achieved. Cut the dough into -inch-wide ribbons to make the noodles.

To make the sauce: Peel the shrimp, leaving the tail on. Cut each shrimp down the back to devein. Rinse the scallops and pat dry with a paper towel.

In a large saute pan, heat the butter and oil. Add the shallots and saute until they soften. Add the scallops and shrimp and saute for 6-10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the Strega. To flambe (optional), carefully hold a match to the surface of the liqueur and let it burn until the flame dies. Stir in the heavy cream and saffron. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the fettuccine in the boiling water until tender. Drain and place in a large bowl. Stir in the sauce. Add the baby spinach and stir until it wilts. Makes 4-6 servings.

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