Monday, November 29, 2010

Double Chocolate Dream


Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Peppermint Cookies


Chocolate, chocolate chips and peppermint? You can’t go wrong with these delectable cookies! Eat them straight out of the oven with a tall glass of milk. They’re exactly the kind of cookie that Santa would want on his plate, don't you think?

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks (or chips)
Small handful of crushed peppermint candies, or peppermint snow

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) and beat together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and peppermint extract.

3. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture and beat until combined.

4. Stir in the chocolate chunks until evenly mixed.

5. Drop dough in 2 tablespoon portions (about 1/8 of a cup) 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Sprinkle crushed peppermint over the top of each cookie.

6. Bake for 6-9 minutes, or until cookies are set on the edges. Carefully remove from baking sheet using a wide spatula and cool on wire racks.

Cranberries in the Snow


Christmas Cranberries

The cranberry stands alone in all her ruby-red glory in this simple recipe, adapted from here. Baked instead of simmered in the saucepan, this sauce tastes wonderful with roasts of all sorts, or even over ice cream. Try stirring some of this into your favorite orange marmalade to create a pink-hued marvel to spread over scones...or give as a gift.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Yield: about 1 half-pint of sauce

Ingredients:

3 cups of fresh cranberries (frozen would work too, but you may need to increase the baking time)
1 cup of granulated sugar

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place cranberries in a 8x8 inch square baking dish and sprinkle with sugar. Do not stir.

3. Bake cranberries for 35 minutes, stirring twice during baking. Remove from dish into a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cranberry-Rosemary Martini



Garnet Martini Syrup


We enjoy this gorgeously-hued cocktail on Thanksgiving, and again on Christmas. Strain it into a nice bottle, and it makes a wonderful gift as well. Be sure to attach the martini recipe.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: makes about 16 martinis

Ingredients:

6 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries
4 1/2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

Preparation:

1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until a glossy syrup has formed.

2. Strain through a fine sieve into a pitcher and chill for at least 3 hours or up to a couple of weeks.

3. To make one martini, shake 1 part syrup with 2 parts vodka with a handful of ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a martini glass (with a sugared rim, if you'd like). Garnish with a sprig of rosemary if desired.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oh My, Cranberry Pie


Nantucket Cranberry Pie

This recipe is so easy to make, and so easy to eat. The tart cranberry underbelly is spiked with walnuts then topped with a glorious almond scented-butter batter that turns golden and crunchy when baked in the oven. I've adapted it from Laurie Colwin's recipe that originally appeared in Gourmet Magazine in November of 1993.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes
Yield: serves 6-8

Ingredients:

2 heaping cups of fresh or frozen whole cranberries
1 scant cup of walnuts or pecans
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
Zest from one orange
1 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a deep dish pie plate or 8 inch cake pan and set aside.

2. Place cranberries in the bowl of your food processor fitted with the steel-blade attachment, and pulse until they are chopped. Pour into the pie plate.

3. Place walnuts into your food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped (but not a paste) and pour over the cranberries.

4. Sprinkle the cranberries and walnuts with the orange zest and 1/2 cup of sugar.

5. Rinse the bowl of your food processor and return it to the base. Add the rest of the sugar, the flour, eggs, butter and almond extract. Run the food processor just until the mixture is evenly mixed.

6. Pour the batter over the cranberry and walnut mixture, and sprinkle the top with additional sugar if desired. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup


Butternut Squash Soup

Spiked with a bit of curry powder, ginger, and nutmeg, this gorgeous soup will warm you right through. Serve it as an appetizer in little shot glasses (mix and match is fine...even preferable), or as a meal, accompanied by a loaf of freshly baked bread. Adapted from a recipe by Susan Branch.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: serves 6 as a main course...and lots more as an appetizer

Ingredients:

1 2 1/2 pound butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 quart of chicken stock, plus more to thin if needed
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
large pinch of ground ginger
large pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Cut squash in half length-wise and scoop out all the seeds and gooey flesh. Rinse seeds, and if desired, roast as you would pumpkin seeds for a garnish.

3. Place squash, cut side down onto prepared baking sheet and bake fore 45 minutes, or until the squash can be easily pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and let cool a bit.

4. While squash is baking, heat olive oil and butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and carrot slices and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and one quart of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are quite soft. Remove from heat.

5. Scoop squash flesh out of its skin and stir into the stockpot along with the potatoes. Add curry, ginger and nutmeg and stir to combine.

6. Carefully ladle the soup into a blender, filling only about half full. Vent a bit, to allow steam to escape and pulse soup until smooth. Pour off into a large bowl and continue blending soup in this way until it is all pureed.

6. Return soup back to the pot and add more stock if necessary to get your desired thickness. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired. Serve hot, garnished with a swirl of heavy cream and the roasted seeds, if using.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Microgreen Omelet


Microgreen Omelet


This petite omelet is a perfect light breakfast. You can fill it with baby spinach or arugula in place of the microgreens if you can't find any.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Yield: serves 1

Ingredients:
1 extra large egg
salt and pepper to taste
1 pat butter
1/2 jalapeno, thinly sliced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
small handful grated cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
1/2 tomato, chopped
small handful microgreens

Preparation:

1. Beat egg in a small bowl and add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

2. Heat a medium, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add butter and swirl pan to coat evenly.

3. Put the scallion and jalapeno in the pan a cook, stirring occasionally, for a couple of minutes until they become tender and lightly golden brown.

4. Pour egg into the pan, tilting it so that the egg completely coats the bottom of the pan. The egg will cook through almost immediately, but spread any gooey egg to the edges, taking care not to tear the middle.

5. When the egg has set, sprinkle the cheese, tomatoes, cilantro and microgreens down the middle. Carefully fold omelet in half and slide out onto a plate. Serve immediately.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hallowe'en Spirits


Orange Stinger Martini

It's been awhile since I've shared a cocktail recipe. And I think that this one is especially appropriate for the upcoming holiday. It's a devil of a drink, sweet and sour upon first sip, with a heat that slowly builds in your mouth and on your lips that just makes you want another sip...and then another. Before you know it you're gulping down martini number two. Honestly, you should stop right there, because as we know (some of us all too well)....

Martinis are like breasts--one is not enough and three are too many.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
Yield: 1 martini

Ingredients:

2 jalapeno slices
2 shots (about 1 1/2 ounces each) Absolute Mandarin
1 shot Patron Citronge (or other orange liquor)
1 shot freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 large pinch sugar

Preparation:

1. Muddle the jalapeno slices in a cocktail shaker to release all the spicy juices.

2. Add 2 handfuls of ice, and the rest of the ingredients.

3. Cover and shake well, until martini is thoroughly chilled.

4. Rub the rim of a martini glass with a slice of lemon and dip in a plate that's been coated with sugar. Strain martini into the glass and garnish with another slice of jalapeno if desired.

Cheers!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Easy As Apple Pie


Farm Stand Apple Pie

To be perfectly honest with you, this pie is a bit of work in the kitchen. But an old-fashioned pie like this is so worth the effort. When you are assembling it, it may seem like you won't be able to fit all the apples in the crust. Keep piling them on because they will shrink a lot. I had to bake my last pie for nearly 2 hours it was so big. Just check on it every 10 minutes or so after the first hour. The crust should be deeply golden brown and some juice will begin to bubble through when it is done.

Prep time: 45 minutes
Total time: 2 hours
Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

12 small-medium sized green apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon flour

Single pie crust (I use this one from Marion Cunningham)

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 to 3 1/2 tablespoons ice water

To prepare the crust, combine flour and salt in a bowl; cut in shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle surface with ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time; toss with a fork until moist and crumbly. Press mixture gently into a 5-inch circle; wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 15 minutes. Flour dough lightly. Roll into circle between sheets of waxed paper on a work surface. Peel off top sheet. Flip into pie plate. Remove other sheet and press pastry to fit. Fold edge under. Flute and chill while you prepare the filling.

Topping
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
14 tablespoons cold butter, cut in cubes

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Make the filling. Toss together apples, brown sugar, vinegar, spices and flour in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. Make the topping. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour and sugar. Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, blend in the butter, until coarse crumbs form.

4. Remove the crust from the fridge and pour apples into it. It will seem like a lot of apples for that size pie, but they shrink while baking. Carefully sprinkle the topping on the apple filling, covering the entire pie to the crust edges. Place pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about one hour or until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. If necessary, cover the crust during the last few minutes of baking to prevent burning.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Apple Jalapeno Salsa


Apple Jalapeno Salsa

This salsa is an explosion of bright flavors. It's crisp and tart, sweet and sour and has a little kick from the jalapeno peppers too. Serve it over grilled sausages or chicken breasts, or even with chips as an appetizer.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Yield: about 1 cup

Ingredients

1 medium tart, green apple, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded if desired and diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons light olive oil
pinch of salt
2 pinches of raw sugar

Preparation:

1. Mix apple, jalapeno, bell pepper, green onion and cilantro in a medium bowl.

2. Add the lime juice, vinegar, oil, salt and sugar and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately, or refrigerate and use within one day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fig Jam


Fig Jam
Adapted from Put "Em Up

This sexy concoction is sticky, sweet and tangy--and definitely not child's play. Sure your kids can eat it if they want, but I'm willing to bet you won't want to share it! Spread it on a sandwich with smoked turkey and goat cheese, or spoon it over a hunk of aged farmhouse cheddar. Make extra to give as a gift....

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: Just over an hour
Yield: about 4 cups

Ingredients:

2 pounds fresh figs
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Preparation:

1. Sterilize 4 half pint jars in a pot of boiling water (or in a 200 degree oven) for 10 minutes, turn the heat to low and add the lids (it should no longer be boiling). Keep warm while you prepare the jam. Just before filling with jam, remove jars from the water and invert on a clean dishcloth to drain. Fill your canner (or pasta pot with insert) with water and bring to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, stem and quarter figs and place in a medium non-reactive stockpot with the water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes to soften fruit.

3. Mash the figs using a potato masher, then add the sugar, lemon juice and vinegar. Return to boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes, or until thick and glossy. If you want to test to make sure it has gelled, place a plate in the freezer for 10 minutes and then drizzle some of the jam across it. It should set quickly.

4. When jam is ready, carefully ladle it into the hot sterilized jars using a canning funnel leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe rims clean, top with lids and loosely tighten bands.

5. Process in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let jars rest in the hot water for 5 minutes more. Remove from pot, using jar tongs and let sit on the counter for 24 hours. You will probably hear the "ping" from the lids much before this. Jars that are sealed properly (the lids will fit tightly and you won't be able to indent the top) can be stored in a cool pantry for a year or so. Any that did not seal, must be refrigerated and used within 3 weeks.

6. If you do not wish to process the jam, cool to room temperature and freeze or refrigerate and use within 3 weeks.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips


Roasted Sugar Pumpkins

Roasting pumpkins is much like roasting any other winter squash. Just make sure they are sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins first (not carving pumpkins which lack flavor). Cut them in half, scoop out those seeds (which I recommend roasting after tossing with a little salt and melted butter), and place them face down on a baking sheet. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Scoop out the flesh, discard the skin, and mash the flesh until it is smooth. Sometimes pumpkin puree can be a bit watery. If it is, try draining it in a cheesecloth lined sieve for awhile.

Marion Cunningham's Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from Fanny Farmer Cookbook

This loaf is spicy and dense, but not overly sweet. It's a wonderful snack with hot coffee or tea, but would also be a fantastic dessert if topped with cream cheese frosting (or a dollop of sweetened whipped cream).

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon allspice, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and spices in a large bowl.
3. Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs and water in another medium bowl.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk only until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Pour into a greased standard-sized loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
6. Turn out of the pan and cool on a rack.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wonderful Watermelon Cooler


Watermelon Cooler


Try this most refreshing beverage at your next barbecue or picnic. Leave out the alcohol to make a kid-friendly version that tastes just as good...well, almost as good.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes, plus one hour chill time
Yield: serves 12

Ingredients:

1 large watermelon (about 8 pounds)
2 cups vodka or white rum
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup sugar (superfine is best)
10 mint leaves
Seltzer water or club soda

Preparation:

1. Remove rind from watermelon, cut the flesh into cubes and puree using a blender. Strain watermelon puree through a very fine mesh sieve into a large pitcher, discarding solids. You should end up with about 6 cups of watermelon juice.

2. Stir in vodka or rum, lime juice and sugar. Bruise mint leaves by squeezing them with your fingers, then add to the pitcher.

3. Refrigerate the mixture for about one hour, for the flavors to meld. Stir again then serve over ice with a splash of club soda, garnished with a slice of lime or watermelon.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Awesome Tomato Salad


Jamie Oliver's Tomato Salad

This recipe is so easy to make, and so easy to eat. For a lovely, rustic look use all different kinds of heirloom tomatoes, some sliced, some quartered or halved.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Yield: serves 4 (or two piggies like us)

Ingredients:

2 pounds of mixed heirloom tomatoes
pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup best extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic, grated
pinch of dried oregano
1 ball or log of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 teaspoon of fresh spicy red or green chile (seeded and de-veined)
sea salt and pepper, to taste
handful of basil leaves, torn into smallish pieces

Preparation:

1. Cut the tomatoes into halves, quarters or slices, depending on the size and place in a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt and toss with your hands. Let drain for 15 minutes to concentrate the tomato flavors.

2. Meanwhile whisk the olive oil, vinegar, garlic and oregano in a small bowl.

3. Slice the mozzarella and place on one side of a medium platter. Arrange the tomatoes next to the cheese. Drizzle the cheese and tomatoes with the dressing and sprinkle salt and pepper over the cheese. Sprinkle the minced chile and the torn basil over the top of the platter and serve immediately.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Zucchini Walnut Bread with Cranberries




Zucchini Walnut Bread with Cranberries


I am a huge, huge fan of one bowl cakes that don't require any special equipment that might be stored on a garage shelf (think stand-mixer). This one fits the bill. Not only is it pleasantly spiced, it has a nice crunch from the walnuts and a bit of tangy goodness from all the dried cranberries. I think it would also be fabulous with chocolate chips. But almost everything is, isn't it? The recipe is adapted from this one.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients:

2 extra large eggs
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup sweetened, dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 2 standard loaf pans and set aside.

2. Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl with a wire whisk. Whisk in sugar until thoroughly combined. Add butter and vanilla, stirring well. Whisk in zucchini and salt.

3. Sprinkle the top of the batter with the baking powder, then add half the flour and all the nutmeg and cinnamon. When combined, add the remaining flour and whisk just until barely combined.

4. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold in the walnuts and cranberries, taking care not to over-work the batter.

5. Pour the batter evenly between the two prepared loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean.

6. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, before inverting to a cooling rack to cool completely. Top with your favorite cream cheese frosting, if desired.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cool Cucumber Margarita


Cucumber Margarita

This cool cocktail is a fantastic way to use up those rogue cucumbers sprouting in the garden. It is light, refreshing and is easily multiplied so that you can make a whole pitcher for your thirsty guests.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
Yield: 2 drinks

Ingredients:

6 slices of cucumber
4 ounces of tequila
2 ounces of triple sec
Juice from 2 limes
3 handfuls of ice
Salt and cayenne pepper

Preparation:

1. Place cucumber, tequila, triple sec, lime juice and ice in the blender. Pulse until blended.

2. Sprinkle salt and cayenne pepper on a plate. Rub the rims of 2 glasses with the squeezed limes. Dredge rims across the salt/cayenne mixture so they have an even coating of salt.

3. Pour blended margarita into the glasses. Serve immediately, garnished with additional cucumber slices if desired.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Creamy Mexican Street Corn


Smothered Mexican Street Corn

While you can use frozen corn to make this recipe, fresh, seasonal, and local corn tastes best. Look for cotija cheese and creme fraiche in the dairy section of your regular market, but in a pinch, feta cheese and sour cream can be substituted with good results.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Yield: serves 4-6

Ingredients:

5 ears of corn, shucked, cleaned of silks and cut off the cob
3 fresh poblano chiles
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1/2 cup cotija or feta cheese, crumbled

Preparation:

1. Roast poblano chiles over an open flame on a gas burner or under a broiler, using tongs to turn frequently, until the skin has blackened on all sides. Wrap in a paper towel and set aside for 5 minutes.

2. Using the paper towel, rub the skins off the chiles, then remove the stem and seeds. Cut each chile into 1/2 inch strips, then again into 1/2 inch segments. Set aside.

3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.

4. Stir in corn, chiles and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until corn is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in creme fraiche and cook for 2 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired.

5. Pour into serving bowl and sprinkle with cotija cheese. Serve immediately.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kohlrabi Slaw


Asian Kohlrabi Slaw

This salad, tossed in a ginger dressing was everything I could have hoped for....zingy, bright and refreshing. If you can't find kohlrabi, try substituting cucumbers, and/or broccoli stems (slaw).

Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Yield: serves 4, with leftovers

Ingredients:

1 kohlrabi, peeled and julienned and cut into 2-inch pieces (sliced into matchsticks)
1/2 pound of snap peas, de-stringed and julienned
4 scallions, julienned and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 jalapeno, seeded, de-veined and minced
1 handful of cilantro, chopped
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and grated
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons canola (or other plain tasting) oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Chopped salted peanuts (a handful), optional

Preparation:

1. Toss kohlrabi, snap peas, scallions, jalapeno and cilantro in a large bowl. Set aside.

2. In a smaller bowl, whisk ginger, vinegar, oils, sugar and soy sauce until combined.

3. Drizzle dressing over the kohlrabi mixture and toss well to coat thoroughly. Serve immediately, or chill until ready to eat. Top with chopped peanuts (if using) just before serving.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Salad for Supper


Arugula Salad with Corn, Tomatoes, and Blue Cheese
adapted from Everyday Food

There are so many things going on in this salad, I feel it needs minimal dressing. But if you like your salads more heavily coated, you may want to double the lemon and olive oil. This would make for a fantastic lunch or light dinner.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Yield: serves 2ish

Ingredients:

1 bag of baby arugula
2 large tomatoes, sliced
2 ears of corn, steamed for 2-3 minutes until tender and sliced off the cob *
1/2 cup sliced red onion
2 cooked chicken breast halves, sliced
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
juice from one lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper

Preparation:

1. Place arugula in a large salad bowl. Add in tomatoes, corn, red onion, chicken breast, and blue cheese.

2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil until combined. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

3. Toss salad with dressing until lightly coated. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.

*You can also try microwaving your shucked corn. Place it on a plate and cover it with a paper towel. Microwave it for about one minute per ear.

Summer Frittata


Farm Egg and Veggie Frittata


This simple yet elegant dish works well with just about any vegetable you have on hand. Try it with asparagus, or crook-neck squash, add crumbled cooked sausages or peppers...have fun and don't be afraid to experiment! Because eggs are the main ingredient, make sure they are the freshest possible.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: serves 6 as a main course

Ingredients:

1 dozen eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream, half and half, or milk
1/2 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
2 zucchini, sliced into half moons
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 large handfuls of arugula, spinach or chopped young chard
1 tablespoon olive oil
Minced parsley

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 inch casserole dish. Set aside.

2. Beat the eggs, with salt, pepper and cream in a large mixing bowl until combined. Set aside.

3. Heat olive oil over medium heat in large skillet. Add zucchini, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini becomes tender and onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the arugula (or whatever tender green you are using) and cook for 1-2 minutes more, or until it just begins to wilt.

4. Spread the veggies evenly out in the prepared 9x13 inch dish. Sprinkle over the cheese and then pour over the egg mixture.

5. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until puffed slightly and cooked though in the middle.

6. Garnish with minced parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sauteed Rainbow Chard


Sauteed Rainbow Chard

Chard is a mild green, and needs minimal cooking to become tender and delicious. With the exception of the bottom inch or so, the stem is edible.

Ingredients:

1 large bunch of rainbow chard, washed well, and sliced into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic, grated
Zest from one lemon
Pinch of salt and pepper

Preparation:

1. Drizzle olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and zest and heat over medium heat until garlic begins to color.

2. Add chard to the pan and using tongs, turn it so that it wilts evenly. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until wilted slightly throughout.

3. Remove from pan, and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, June 7, 2010

At Market...Apricots


Apricot Jam

I always use my pasta cooker with strainer insert to water bathe smaller batches of jam because my large pot heats up my kitchen so much and takes forever to boil. I can fit about 6 jars at a time in my pasta cooker, so I need to boil the jars in two batches. Alternatively, you can simply invert the newly filled jars on your counter for about ten minutes to seal them. I have never tried this, but Chez Madelaine who wrote Gourmet Preserves recommends this easy method. Good canning tools to have on hand include jar tongs and a funnel which are usually available at your local hardware store.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: about 1 hour and 45 minutes
Yield: 8 half pint jars

Ingredients:

4 pounds of apricots, pitted and quartered
7 cups of sugar
3 "bitter almonds" or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Juice from 1 lemon
vodka

Preparation:

1.Wash jam jars with hot, soapy water, dry carefully with a clean dishcloth, then place on a baking tray in a 180 degree oven to sterilize. Wash rings and jar tops and set aside.

2. Toss apricots with sugar in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Add lemon juice and bitter almonds or extract, and toss well to combine. To remove the bitter almonds from the pits of the apricots, simply crack the pits with a hammer (gently) and remove.

3. Turn stove to high and bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about one hour, or until jam sets when drizzled over a frozen plate. Make sure to skim the foam that rises to the top...save it to drizzle over ice cream. When the jam is done, it will have reduced by about half in the pot, and be sputtering. You may even be able to see the bottom of the pot when you stir. You need to stir frequently during this hour to ensure that the bottom does not scorch.

4. While jam is simmering, fill your pasta pot or hot water canner with water and bring to a boil.

5. When jam is set, remove jars from the oven and wipe rims and lids with vodka. Remove the bitter almonds from the jam. Using the funnel, carefully fill jars with jam, leaving about 1/2 inch head space in each jar. Wipe rims with vodka again to clean off any drips and top with the lids.

6. Screw on the bands loosely and using the tongs, carefully place them in the insert of you pasta pot or water canner. The water in the pot should cover the lids by about 1 inch. Vigorously boil the jars for 12 minutes, remove from water using the tongs and set on a clean dishcloth to cool. Each lid should "ping" and have a tight seal. If a jar doesn't seal, refrigerate after it is cool and eat within 2 weeks. All the sealed jars will last at least a year in your pantry.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Burning Mandarin


The Burning Mandarin Martini
inspired by Katsuya Restaurant

In my humble opinion, this quite possibly the best martini ever. The first sip is an intriguing combination of bright citrus followed by a slow burn, brought on by the serrano chiles that are muddled in the bottom of the cocktail shaker.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
Yield: 1 martini

Ingredients:

2 slices of serrano chile
1 1/2 ounces Absolute Mandarin
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce orange juice
1/2 ounce cranberry juice

Preparation:

1. Muddle one slice of chile in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, orange juice, and cranberry juice, along with one large handful of ice.

2. Shake vigorously until well-chilled. Strain into a sugar-rimmed martini glass. Garnish with remaining chile slice.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Makin' Whoopie!


Whoopie Pies
adapted from Epicurious

I measured out the cake dough using my regular ice cream scoop, but mini versions would be great too. Just make sure to adjust down the baking time by a few minutes.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: about 8 desserts

Ingredients:

For cakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg

For filling
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4-1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 cups marshmallow cream such as Marshmallow Fluff (you will need 2 jars)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and egg and beat until smooth.

4. Mix in the flour and buttermilk, alternating in batches, starting and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the flour.

5. Spoon scant 1/4 cup mounds, 3 inches apart, on two greased cookie sheets. You should have 16 cakes. Bake for 11-13 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.

6. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Fill with frosting.

7. While cakes are baking, you can prepare frosting. Beat butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the marshmallow cream, vanilla and powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add enough powdered sugar so that the frosting isn't runny, but not overly stiff either. Cover with plastic and set aside until cakes are ready to fill.

Scrumptious Sopaipillas


Sopaipillas
adapted from Artisan Farming

Sopaipillas are New Mexican deep-fried pillows of pastry that you fill with jam or honey. You can also stuff savory fillings inside, like refried beans, stew meat or cheese. Make sure the oil is hot enough. You can drop a small bit of dough in the oil to test it. It should bubble up and begin to brown immediately, but the oil should not be smoking. If you have a thermometer, the ideal frying temperature is between 350 and 375 degrees F.

Prep time: 15 minutes, plus 30 minute rest time
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: about 1 dozen

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup warm water
vegetable oil for frying
honey, powdered sugar and/or jam

Preparation:

1. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk until blended. Stir in the oil, cream and water and mix until shaggy.

2. Turn out onto a board and knead until a soft dough forms. Knead for a couple minutes more. Cover the dough with a clean cloth and let it rest for about 30 minutes.

3. Roll dough out into a rectangle about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Cut into 3 inch squares using a sharp knife or pizza cutter.

4. Fill a medium saucepan with 3 inches of vegetable oil and heat over medium heat until a small piece of dough, dropped in the oil, sizzles and becomes golden brown (about 350 F). Carefully drop squares of dough, a couple at a time, into the hot oil. Fry on the first side for a minute or so, until golden brown, flip and fry for a minute or two more. Remove from the oil and place on paper towels to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.

5. Dust sopaipillas with powdered sugar if desired (we didn't ) and fill with honey or jam. Eat immediately.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

At Market...Fava Beans




Grilled Fava Beans

This fabulous way of preparing fava beans not only imparts a rich, smoky flavor, but also saves on clean up! Feel free to use any herbs and spices that suit your fancy like crushed red peppers, lemon zest or chopped fresh herbs.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 12 minutes
Yield: serves 2-3

Ingredients:

1 pound of fava beans
a couple of glugs of olive oil
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
a good pinch of sea salt

Preparation:

1. Wash pods well then toss with oil, garlic, and salt in a large bowl

2. Heat a grill (or grill pan) to medium high. Grill fava beans for about 5 minutes on one side, then flip and grill for another couple of minutes. Remove one from the grill, open the pod, slip the bean from the skin to see if they are tender enough. If not, continue grilling for a couple of minutes more.

3. Serve hot...with napkins.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sugar Snap Pea and Tangerine Stir Fry



Sugar Snap Pea and Tangerine Stir Fry with Pork Tenderloin
adapted from Bon Appetite

The contrast in colors and flavors, not to mention the heat from the chile sauce, makes this dish exciting. Don't bother peeling the tangerines as their skin becomes tender and sweet during cooking. I've included a recipe for sweet chile dipping sauce below, but sometimes you can find it at the grocery store.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: serves 4

Ingredients:

1 1/4 pound pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon cornstarch
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 seedless tangerines, sliced into 8 wedges
1 pound of sugar snap peas, de-stringed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup sweet chile sauce (*see below)
1 bunch of green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Preparation:

1. Slice the tenderloin into 1/2 inch rounds, then slice each round into strips. Toss with the corn starch and a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside.

2. Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add oil and when nearly smoking add the fresh ginger root and stir. Toss in the tenderloin slices and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat begins to brown. Add the tangerines and cook for 30 seconds more.

3. Stir in the sugar snap peas, soy sauce, chile sauce and half of the green onions and cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about 1 to 2 minutes more. Take off the heat and top with remaining green onions. Serve over hot rice.


*Sweet Chile Dipping Sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Yield: about 3/4 cup

Ingredients:

1 C sugar
1/2 C white vinegar
1/2 C water
3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1 t salt
1 T chile garlic sauce (sambal oelek or siracha sauce...or minced fresh chiles or dried chile flakes)

Preparation:

In a medium saucepan bring the first 5 ingredients to a gentle boil over medium heat. Boil for 10 minutes or until the mixture is a thin syrup. Remove from heat and stir in the chili garlic sauce. It keeps for about a week in the fridge when sealed in a glass jar. If you are using dried red chile flakes or fresh chiles instead, use sparingly as they can be quite spicy.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Salted Caramel Blisscakes



Salted Caramel Cupcakes


Oh my goodness, these are good. Frost sparingly, and while the frosting is still hot, as it sets quickly and is quite heavy. Maldon salt is best for sprinkling over the tops. It can be found online or at many specialty grocers (like Whole Foods). If you don't have cake flour, all purpose flour can be substituted. After measuring, remove 4 tablespoons of flour and replace with 4 tablespoons of corn starch.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons of cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup of buttermilk, well shaken

Frosting:

1 stick of butter
1 cup of dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup whole milk
5 cups of powdered sugar, sifted

Maldon salt

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners, or spray liberally with cooking spray.

2. Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

3. Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer). Add sugar and beat until mixture becomes light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined.

4. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk. Beat until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula.

5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from muffin tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

6. Make frosting. In a large saucepan melt the stick of butter with the brown sugar over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Bring mixture to a boil (will take about 2 minutes), then add the milk. Remove from heat when it returns to a boil and whisk in vanilla and then the powdered sugar, cup by cup. Frosting will be quite thick.

7. If desired, spoon warm frosting into a piping bag (or ziplock bag with the corner snipped) and pipe frosting over cupcakes, sprinkling salt over each one immediately after it is frosted. Alternately, frosting can be spread on top of the cupcakes with a knife. Frosting will harden quickly, so you need to work fast. Cool and serve.

Summer Squash, Olive and Feta Tart



Summer Squash, Olive and Feta Tart

adapted from Martha Stewart

This dish makes a wonderful main course when served with a salad, or cut it into smaller squares and serve it as an appetizer. Using a mandoline slicer to cut the squash really speeds up preparation time, but a sharp knife does the job too. Martha's version doesn't call for cheese, but I think it adds a rich,salty edge to the otherwise mild squash.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: 4 main course servings

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh thyme, plus a few sprigs for garnish
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 small zuchini, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
2 small yellow summer squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
6 sheets phyllo dough (each 12 by 17 inches), thawed if frozen
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Unroll the phyllo dough on the counter, count out six sheets, and cover them with a clean, damp cloth. Re-roll the remaining dough, wrap with plastic and refrigerate or re-freeze. Brush a large baking sheet with butter, then carefully lay down one sheet of phyllo. Brush it lightly with the melted butter, top it with another sheet and brush it lightly with butter. Continue in this way until all the phyllo is stacked together on the baking sheet.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the parsley, oregano, thyme, garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper and the olive oil. Spoon the mixture over the phyllo dough, leaving a 1 inch border all around.

4. Spread the squash slices evenly over that, again leaving a border. Drizzle the squash with olive oil. Sprinkle over the olives and the feta cheese and another pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until edges are crisp and the squash is tender. Serve immediately, or at room temperature.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lemon Basil Pesto


Lemon Basil Pesto

Lemon basil is a variety of basil that can be found at your farmers' market. If you cannot find it, and want to add a lemon essence to your pesto, add the zest from one lemon, not the juice, as the acidity will destroy the bright green color. Enjoy with over pasta, roasted vegetables, as a dip or as a sandwich spread.

Ingredients:

1 bunch of lemon basil (about 2 loose cups)
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup asiago cheese
pinch of salt and pepper

Preparation:

1. Wash basil well to remove any grit and cut the leaves off the stems. Place in a blender or food processor along with the garlic.

2. Using the feed tube, slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whizzing the basil and garlic until you get a smooth puree.

3. Add the pine nuts and cheese and blitz until smooth.

4. Add the salt and pepper, taste for seasoning and serve immediately. If you have made this ahead, drizzle a thin layer of olive oil over the top to help maintain its bright green color, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Pesto also freezes well.

Green Tomato Chutney


Green Tomato Chutney

Serve this sweet, sour and spicy chutney on a cheese plate, spread it on a sandwich, or spoon it over lamb. I'm sure you'll find many uses for this tantalizing treat.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1 1/2 hours
Yield: 2 pints

Ingredients:

6 cups of chopped green tomatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup golden raisins (sultanas)
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1-2 teaspoons chili flakes
1 teaspoon salt

Preparation:

1. Place all ingredients in a large dutch oven and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until chutney is thick and golden brown in color.

2. While chutney is simmering, wash canning jars in hot, soapy water and then place on a baking sheet in your oven (pre-heated to 280 degrees) for 20 minutes to sterilize them.

3. Bring a pasta cooker (with strainer) or canning pot filled with water to a boil.

4. Remove jars from oven, and using a canning funnel, fill to within 1/4 inch of the rim with the hot chutney. Wipe rims and lids with vodka, cover with lids, secure bands and process for 15 minutes in boiling water. Listen for the tell-tale "ping" to assure jars are sealed tightly. Any jars that are not properly sealed should be refrigerated and consumed within a couple of weeks.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Patricia's Speedy Ratatouille


Patricia's Speedy Ratatouille

This recipe, adapted from At Home in Provence by Patricia Wells, has all the flavor of a slow simmered ratatouille, but in much less time. The splash of red wine vinegar beautifully sharpens the flavors of this dish. We ate this warm over pasta, but it would also be delicious chilled or at room temperature spooned over some crisp French bread.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Yield: serves 4

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (evoo)
1 1/2 pounds small zucchini, cut into thin slices
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, stems removed
sea salt to taste
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 pound of cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons of good quality red wine vinegar

Preparation:

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the evoo, zucchini and 1 teaspoon of thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini begins to brown along the edges, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the salt and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more, just until the garlic begins to get golden.

3. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, and vinegar and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until zucchini is very tender and ingredients have melded together a bit.

4. Top with remaining thyme leaves and taste for seasoning. Serve warm over pasta or at room temperature with a hunk of good bread.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Grilled Brined Shrimp with Mango Salsa


Grilled Brined Shrimp with Mango Salsa


No shirt, no shoes, no problem!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Yield: serves 4....okay, 2

Ingredients:

1 pound of jumbo shrimp (16-20 count)
1/3 cup kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups ice
1 mango, peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 a red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons of minced red onion
1 tablespoon of minced fresh cilantro
1 lime, juiced
2 teaspoons evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined and minced
pinch of salt and pepper

Preparation:

1. Prepare the shrimp. If you can find peeled and deveined shrimp, and you have the extra cash to pay for them, by all means do it. It is quite the time saver. But if you have to (or want to) do it yourself, here is what I do. I like to grill my shrimp "butterflied" so using a sharp knife, I peel them, slice open the back, remove the vein (read, intestinal tract) and open the shrimp like a book, taking care not to break it in half. For more specific instructions on how to prep shrimp check here. His cute accent doesn't hurt either....

2. Make the brine. Place the salt, sugar, water and ice in a large bowl. Gently submerge the shrimp in the brine and let them sit for 30 minutes. This would also be a good time to soak any wooden skewers in a separate bowl of water so they don't catch fire on the grill.

3. While the shrimp is brining, make the mango salsa. If you need instructions on how to peel and cube a mango look here. But basically you cut around the big, hairy pit so that you have large hunks of mango. Score the flesh into a grid pattern, invert the flesh so that the cubes pop out and remove the skin with a sharp knife. You will have little cubes of mango that way. So, place your cubes of mango into a small mixing bowl. Add the onion, cilantro, bell pepper and jalapeno and stir. Squeeze in the lime juice and drizzle over the oil. Stir to combine. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and taste for seasoning.

4. Remove the shrimp from the brine and put two or three on each skewer. Spray a grill (or grill pan) with cooking spray and heat to medium high. Grill the shrimp for 2-3 minutes on each side or until just cooked through. They will have turned pink and be and opaque throughout. Remove from heat and serve immediately with mango salsa, over a bed of rice if desired.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake


Flourless Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Everyday Food

This dessert is liked baked mousse...like chocolate clouds....like heaven on a spoon.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: serves 8

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons salted butter, cut in small cubes
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup)
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees and butter a 9-inch spring-form pan.

2. Melt the butter and chocolate chips together in a small saucepan (or in a microwave for about a minute), whisking constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

3. Separate eggs, placing the egg whites in a large bowl and the egg yolks into the cooled chocolate. Whisk yolks into the chocolate until thoroughly combined.

4. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar, beating continuously, until stiff and glossy peaks form. Whisk about a quarter of the whites into the chocolate mixture, then add the chocolate mixture to the bowl with the egg whites, folding gently until totally combined.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until set in the middle. It will still jiggle slightly. Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack. You can expect to deflate somewhat. Remove from pan, dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

At Market...Asparagus




Mock Mushroom Risotto with Asparagus Spears


Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Yield: serves 2 (can be easily doubled)

Ingredients:

10 asparagus spears
5 slices of prosciutto, halved length-wise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup of arborio or other short grain rice (or grain mix...I used a mixture of arborio, spelt and barley available at Trader Joe's)
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
shaved Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Wrap each asparagus spear with 1/2 slice of prosciutto, put on a baking sheet and set aside.

3. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and mushroom and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until they begin to turn golden around the edges. Stir in garlic and cook one minute more. Remove mushroom mixture from the pot and set aside.

4. Return pot to the stove and add vegetable stock. Bring to a boil. Stir in the rice, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Uncover rice and stir in mushroom mixture. Continue to cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for 10-15 more minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

5. While rice is cooking place asparagus in the oven and roast for 10-15 minutes, or until asparagus is tender and prosciutto is crisp.

6. Spoon risotto out onto two plates and top with the roasted asparagus spears and shaved Parmesan cheese.

Monday, March 15, 2010

At Market...Tuscan Kale


Shredded Tuscan Kale Salad

This type of kale might also be labeled dinosaur kale, cavolo nero, lacinato kale or black kale at the market, and is prized for its mild, earthy flavor. If you cannot find it, try substituting savoy cabbbage or spinach.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
Yield: serves 4

Ingredients:

1 bunch Tuscan kale, finely shredded
1 garlic clove, grated or minced
coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus some shaved slices for topping

Preparation:

1. Finely shred kale by stacking the leaves and using a sharp knife to slice them very thinly, in batches if necessary.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper, the lemon juice and oil and let stand for 5 minutes.

3. Add the kale and toss to combine thoroughly. Toss with the finely shredded cheese and taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Top with shaved parmesan slices and serve immediately.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lemongrass Quinoa Pilaf


Lemongrass Quinoa Pilaf

This quick meal is not only nutritious, but also flavorful and immensely satisfying. Omit the tofu and it becomes a wonderful side dish as well.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes, plus marinating time
Yield: serves 4

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well in a fine sieve to remove any bitterness
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
dash of cloves
dash of ground ginger
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
1 stalk lemongrass, bulbous end only with outer leaves peeled, minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 12 ounce package of firm tofu, marinated for 1 hour in soy sauce (or Asian marinade)
1 medium head of broccoli, florets separated and stem sliced thinly
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 bunch of spring onions, washed well and thinly sliced
handful of cilantro, chopped
handful of mint, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Bring the 2 cups of stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the rinsed quinoa and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the broth has been absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the pepper, cloves and dried ginger and stir. Add the ginger, garlic and lemongrass and cook for one minute, until it becomes fragrant. Add the tofu and stir-fry for about three minutes or until it begins to brown slightly. Add the broccoli and 1/4 cup of water and cover the pot. Let the broccoli steam for 3 minutes, then remove cover.

Add cooked quinoa to the broccoli and tofu in the skillet and stir to combine thoroughly. Toss with chopped cilantro, mint and spring onions and serve immediately or at room temperature.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No Knead Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread



Soft No-Knead Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread


I mix and store the dough in the same container...a latch-lidded one gallon plastic storage container I found at Target. Make sure if you do it this way that you incorporate every last bit of flour into the dough. I use my hands to mix it together, which is messy, but effective. Do not latch the lid when storing the dough, or the gasses may cause it to explode off. Also, I never wash my container after I bake off the last loaf of bread. The dried bits that cling to the side, get scraped into the new batch of dough, creating a tangier flavor, not unlike sourdough.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 55-60 minutes, plus rising time
Yield: 3 loaves

Ingredients:

5 cups whole-wheat flour (I like so-called White Whole Wheat)
2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast, or 2 packets
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten (available at health food stores and online)
2 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup honey
5 large eggs
2/3 cup melted butter or canola oil

Preparation:

1. In a large bowl of a stand mixer or food processor (14-cup capacity), or your 1 gallon storage container, mix together the flours, yeast, salt and wheat gluten. In another smaller bowl, whisk together the water, honey, eggs and preferred fat. Using the dough attachment, or your hands, mix the wet ingredients with the dry until thoroughly combined. It will be very sticky. Do not knead.

2. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 2 hours. After this, the dough is ready to be formed and placed in a loaf pan, but it is easier to do this if you refrigerate it first for a couple of hours. The flavor improves after 24 hours, so make it the evening before, if you have time.

3. On baking day, lightly grease a standard loaf pan (8 1/2 x 4 1/2). Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and grab a large hunk in your hand, cutting it off at the bottom. It should be about the size of a cantaloupe. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Cover the rest of the dough loosely and return to the refrigerator.

4. Form the ball into a thick log shape and place it in the prepared loaf pan. It should be just over half full. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for 90 minutes in a warm place (40 minutes if the dough you are using is already room temperature).

5. Thirty minutes before you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the loaf in the center of the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown. Remove the bread from the pan and allow it to cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Double Chocolate Crumble Cookies


Double Chocolate Crumble Cookies

A.K.A. Family Peace Cookies
A.K.A. World Peace Cookies

These small cookies are so achingly scrumptious that you will barely be able to contain yourself. They are so tempting that I found myself eating them straight out of the oven so that they sizzled a little on my tongue. I recommend that you have a cold glass of milk handy, even if they are cooled, to wash down all that chocolate. Bake one batch during the day to enjoy with the kids, but save the other one for your late night snack. Or maybe even share the mind-blowing bliss with your Valentine....nothing says I love you like a homemade treat.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 22 minutes, plus 3 hours cooling time
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer is fine), beat the butter until soft. Add the sugars, salt and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, about two minutes.

Carefully add the flour mixture a little at a time, mixing slowly so you don't get flour all over the place. Dorie recommends covering the mixer with a towel for awhile to help with the spraying flour. Mix until the dough looks evenly incorporated, but still crumbly. When you pinch it with your fingers it will stay together though. Do not overmix!

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and pat into two balls. Wrap each ball in plastic and roll it into a log that is about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. The plastic will help hold it together as it still may be a bit crumbly. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Unwrap the log and cut into slices that are about 1/2 an inch thick. If the cookies break apart, just press them back together with your fingers. Place cookies on a greased cookie sheet (or a silicone lined one) about 1 inch apart. Slide the cookie sheet onto the center rack of the oven and bake for exactly 12 minutes. The cookies will look underdone. That is okay. Remove them from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes on the pan, then transfer them to a rack to finish cooling completely.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting



Strawberry Buttercream Frosting


Pretty in pink, and delicious too. What are you making for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day?

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
Yield: enough to frost an 8-inch layer cake, or 2 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup strawberry jam
5-6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2-3 drops red food coloring

Preparation:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer), beat the butter with the strawberry jam until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time and beat until thoroughly combined. Add the food coloring and beat until uniform in color. Spread on top of cake or pipe decoratively onto cupcakes.

Devils on Horseback


Bacon Wrapped Dates

These to be quite fashionable some time ago and are making a comeback for good reason--the soft date, almost too sweet on its own, marries beautifully with the tangy melted gorgonzola and the salty crunch of smoked bacon. They taste, in a word, heavenly, which seems awfully appropriate for a fruit born in the fires of heaven, doesn't it?

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Yield: 2 dozen appetizers

Ingredients:

5 ounces of soft dried dates, or approximately 24
4 ounces of Gorgonzola cheese
1 pound of apple wood smoked bacon

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Make a slice down the length of each date and remove the pit. Stuff with a small hunk (about 1 teaspoon) of cheese. Cut each slice of bacon in half crosswise and wrap around the dates. Place on a baking sheet, seam side down.

Bake for 6 minutes on one side, remove from the oven and carefully turn dates with tongs, securing any loose bacon with toothpicks if necessary. Return to the oven and continue to bake until the bacon is crisp, another 6-8 minutes. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Goat Cheese


Goat Cheese

This cheese is easy to make and even easier to eat. Double the recipe to make more if you want, but keep in mind that it only stays fresh for a few days.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes, plus an hour or two to drain
Yield: about 1/2 cup of cheese

Ingredients:

1 quart of goat milk
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
pinch of salt, to taste

Directions:

1. Heat milk in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Place a candy thermometer in the milk and stir occasionally.

2. When the milk reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit, stir in the lemon juice. Continue heating until small curds form, but do not let the milk boil. At this point, the milk will begin to look clearish yellow. That is the proverbial whey, which can be drunk, used in baking, or fed to your animals.

3. Turn off the heat. Line a small strainer with cheesecloth. Carefully pour the curds into the cheesecloth-lined strainer, reserving the whey in a bowl underneath if desired. Tie up the cheesecloth and gently squeeze to remove more whey. Hang the cheese from your faucet, or a wooden spoon set over a deep bowl or pot for one to two hours to continue to remove moisture from the cheese.

4. Remove the cheese from the cloth. It will be a bit crumbly. Add salt to taste and then pack the cheese into a small ramekin to store. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Use within a few days.

Curried Lentil Stew



Curried Lentil Stew

This hearty stew has stick-to-your-ribs goodness in every bite. Though this version is vegetarian, chunks of cooked, spicy Italian sausage would make a very nice addition if you are so inclined.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: serves 6

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 stalks of celery, sliced
4 medium carrots, halved length-wise and sliced
1 cup of cubed baby potatoes (fingerling or new potatoes)
2 tablespoons of good-quality curry powder
1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 quart of vegetable stock
2 cups of dried green lentils
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrots and potatoes and cook until the vegetables begin to get tender.

2. Add curry powder and cook for two minutes more, or until fragrant. Stir in tomatoes, and stock and bring to a boil.

3. Add lentils, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until lentils are tender. Check in periodically and add more stock if necessary.

4. Taste for seasoning, and ladle into a bowl. Top with crumbled goat cheese if desired. It is also great over brown rice or quinoa or you could serve it with a rustic loaf of bread to sop up all the delicious broth.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Oatmeal Brown Sugar Scones



Oatmeal Brown Sugar Scones

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: 8 large scones

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk plus additional for brushing

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In the bowl of your food processor fitted with a steel blade attachment, pulse flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 1/3 cups of oats 15 times to combine.

2. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles small peas. Place mixture into a large bowl and stir in buttermilk until the mixture begins to come together. Turn out the dough onto a board (it will still be floury and shaggy) and knead until it just comes together.

3. Pat into a circle about 1-inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges. Brush each wedge with buttermilk, then sprinkle on the remaining brown sugar and oats.

4. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until scones are lightly golden brown. Cool completely on a cooling rack....although they taste wonderful warm too.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lovely Lemon Curd


Lovely Lemon Curd
Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa

This curd is the perfect combination of sweet and sour and is so rich and glossy. Try it with scones, or as a filling for a tart.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Yields: 2 half pint jars...with a bit leftover to eat right out of the bowl...shhh...

Ingredients:

3 lemons
1 1/2 cups of sugar
4 extra large eggs
1 stick of butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup lemon juice
pinch of salt

Preparation:

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the rind (not the white pith) from the lemons and place in the food processor, along with the sugar. Pulse mixture until lemon peel is finely minced and blended with the sugar.

In a separate bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar/zest mixture and mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time until thoroughly combined. Mix in the lemon juice and salt.

Place mixture in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over a low flame, stirring constantly for 10-15 minutes, or until about as thick as a pudding. The curd will be about 170 degrees when this happens, and not yet simmering. Pour into a container and cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. You may want to place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Dollop onto anything....