Monday, July 31, 2006

Blueberry pudding cake

courtesy of epicurious

1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
10 oz blueberries (2 cups)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.
Stir together 1/3 cup sugar with water, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a small saucepan, then stir in blueberries. Bring to a simmer, then simmer, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl. (I also added cinnamon to the flour mixture)
Whisk together egg, milk, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl, then add flour mixture, whisking until just combined.
Spoon batter into baking pan, spreading evenly, then pour blueberry mixture evenly over batter (berries will sink). Bake until a knife inserted into center of cake portion comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes.

Cooks' note:
Cake can be made 1 day ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then kept, wrapped well in foil, at room temperature.

July 2005

Chocolate Mint Mousse Pie

This one's from my mom. It's been a while since I've made it...

1 t unflavored gelatin
1 T cold water
2 T boiling water
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup Hershey's Cocoa or Hershey's European Style Cocoa
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold whipping cream
1 t vanilla extract
1 baked 8- or 9-inch pie crust, cooled

Mint Cream Topping:
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold whipping cream
2 T powdered sugar
1/4 to 1/2 t peppermint extract
green food coloring

In small cup, sprinkle gelatin over cold water; let stand 2 minutes to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and mixture is clear. Cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in small mixing bowl, stir together sugar and cocoa; add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer until stiff, scraping bottom of bowl occasionally. Add gelatin mixture; beat until just blended. Pour into prepared crust.

Prepare mint cream topping: In small mixing bowl on medium speed of electric mixer, beat whipping cream, powdered sugar, peppermint extract and several drops of green food coloring until stiff. Spread over filling. Refrigerate about 2 hours. Garnish as desired. Cover, refrigerate leftover pie.

Maple Salmon

from Geoff's co-worker Tracey

1/4 cup maple syrup
2 T soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 t garlic salt
1/8 t ground black pepper
1 lb salmon

Mix syrup, soy sauce, garlic, garlic salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

Put salmon in a shallow baking dish, coat with maple syrup mixture. Cover, marinate in fridge for 30 minutes, turning once.

Preheat oven to 400.

Put dish in oven, bake 20 minutes, or until easily flaked with fork.

Spaghetti with Broccoli, Brie, and Walnuts

from Food Network

It's been a while since Geoff and I ate this one, but it's really good. The hardest part, for me, is cutting off the rind of the Brie.

1 pound spaghetti
3 T olive oil
2 bunches broccoli (about 1-1/4 lbs), cut into 1/2-inch florets
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound Brie, rind discarded, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

To a large pot of salted, boiling water, add spaghetti and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/3 cup cooking liquid and drain pasta in colander. Return pasta to pot with reserved liquid.

While pasta is cooking, in a large heavy skillet heat oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and cook broccoli with salt, to taste, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 30 seconds.

To pasta add broccoli mixture, Brie, and walnuts, tossing until cheese is just melted, and season with salt and pepper.

Toasted garlic and sweet pea pasta

I feel like I go through these phases where I don't want to cook, much less eat, anything new...and then I get tired of our tried and trues and we branch out into new things.
I happened to pick up a cookbook last night and it opened to this recipe. As luck would have it, I had all these things on hand, and they made a tasty dinner. And it was quick.
By the way, I'm still looking for recipes for Friday night. I'm going to thumb through some cookbooks tonight.

from Rachel Ray's Express Lane Meals

1 pound long-cut pasta, whatever you have in the pantry
1/4 to 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (I eyeballed it)
black pepper
3/4 c. dry white wine
2 c. chicken stock
2 10-oz boxes frozen peas
1/2 c. fresh parsley
1 c. grated Parm or Romano cheese

Place a large pot of water with a tight-fitting lid over high heat and brign to a boil. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Right before draining, remove 1/2 c. of the starchy cooking water
While the water is coming to a boil, heat up the EVOO and the sliced garlic in a large skillet (I used a dutch oven, actually). Spread the garlic in an even layer and keep an eye on goes from brown to burnt really quickly. Once the garlic is toasty brown, remove from oil.
Turn up the heat under the oil to medium high and add onion, red pepper flakes, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, about 5 min, until the onions become tender and lightly browned. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and cook for another 2 min. Add the peas and the cooking water from the pasta, and bring sauce back to a boil. With the back of the spoon, mash half the peas. Add the parsley and garlic slices, stir and taste. Add pasta and toss to coat in sauce. Stir in the cheese, then transfer to serving plates. Pass extra cheese at the table.

**My notes -- I thought the sauce was too watery. Next time, I'd cut down the amount of chicken broth, or leave the wine out altogether. Also, I blended the peas with my imersion blender, but Ernie said he thought they'd have been fine without mashing or blending...and I like my peas to have shape, but I think she intended them to be mushy, hence the mashing. You decide which you like better. We'll be eating this again, I know.

Baked Apricot Chicken

from The Six O'Clock Scramble by Aviva Goldfarb

Geoff and I made this tonight. It was easy and it turned out well.

1-1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup apricot jam (we used preserves)
2-3 T lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
2 T soy sauce
1 T minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
2 T dijon mustard
1 T olive oil
6 dried apricots, coarsely chopped (we ditched these, and it was fine)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay the chicken breasts flat in an oven-safe dish with sides.

In a large measuring cup, measure out the apricot jam and mix togeher with all the remaining ingredients except the dried apricots. Pour the mixture over the chicken breasts. Top them with the dried apricots.

Bake 20-25 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

SLIGHT ALTERNATIVE: Marinate the chicken for up to 24 hours, covered in the fridge. We baked it after dumping the sauce on the chicken, and it turned out fine, but I think we'll be marinating it the next time we make it.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Alright, someone gimme some help.
Ernie and I will have been married for six years on Friday. The original plan was to get take out and stay in, but I don't want take out. I sort of want to cook.
But I have no freaking clue what I want to make. Anyone want to offer any suggestions (in the form of recipes -- including dessert)? Remember that I actually do have to work all day on Friday, so it's going to be an after-work cooking thing, although I can do prep stuff the day before.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

tropical gazpacho

It seemed too hot even for Becky's summer minestrone, so I gave this a try. It's from the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites, and it has two secret ingredients -- pineapple and bread -- that give it a nice tanginess and texture, respectively. And they also keep it from feeling like you're eating a giant bowl of salsa, which is my usual complaint with gazpacho.

Also, I didn't have tomato juice, so I used 2 c chopped fresh tomatoes, 1 c canned crushed tomatoes and 1 c water. Worked fine.

4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 1/2 c peeled, seeded, diced cucumbers
1 1/2 c diced red bell peppers (I used green)
1/2 c diced red onion
1 c diced tomatoes
1 c canned unsweetened pineapple chunks in juice
2 T red wine vinegar
generous pinch of cayenne (I used a lot and it's spicy)
1 t ground cumin
1 1/2 c French or Italian bread, crusts removed, torn into chunks
3 c tomato juice
salt and ground black pepper to taste
thin slices of lemon or lime for garnish

In blender or food processor, combine the garlic, 3/4 c of cucumbers, 3/4 c of diced bell peppers, red onions, 1/2 c tomatoes, pineapple and its juice, vinegar, cayenne, cumin, bread chunks and tomato juice. Puree until smooth.

Transfer to a bowl, then stir in remaining diced cucumbers, bell peppers and tomatoes for texture and visual appeal. (I love that direction.) Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours until cold, and serve garnished with lemon or lime slices.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Braised baby bok choy

Courtesy of epicurious

We've been eating a lot of bok choy lately. I love bok choy, and it's super cheap at my favorite Asian market. And, I read, really good for you, too.

1 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 lb baby bok choy, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
Bring broth and butter to a simmer in a deep large heavy skillet. Arrange bok choy evenly in skillet and simmer, covered, until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer bok choy with tongs to a serving dish and keep warm, covered.
Boil broth mixture until reduced to about 1/4 cup, then stir in sesame oil and pepper to taste. Pour mixture over bok choy.

Bok choy with beef

Courtesy of epicurious

Equally good with pork. I think it'd probably work for chicken, too.

1 (1-lb) piece beef tenderloin

For marinade
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon medium-dry Sherry
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 1/2 lb baby bok choy
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons medium-dry Sherry
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

Accompaniment: rice
Cut beef crosswise (across the grain) into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then cut slices into 1/2-inch-wide strips.
Make marinade and marinate meat: Stir together marinade ingredients in a medium bowl until sugar is dissolved.
Add beef, tossing to coat, and marinate 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Blanch bok choy: Separate bok choy into individual leaves and halve crosswise, keeping stems and leaves separate. Cook stems in a large pot of boiling water 15 seconds, then add leaves and cook 15 seconds more. Drain in a colander, then rinse with cold water to stop cooking and drain well.
Fry beef: Stir together soy sauce, Sherry, and vinegar.
Heat vegetable oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat..
Add beef to hot oil with tongs (discard marinade) and cook, stirring carefully, until slices separate, about 1 minute. Transfer beef with tongs to a colander and drain.
Stir-fry beef and bok choy: Reserve 3 tablespoons oil from skillet and discard remainder. Heat reserved oil in skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then stir-fry garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 30 seconds.Add beef, soy mixture, and bok choy and stir-fry until sauce is simmering and mixture is just heated through, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Alissa's mashed potatoes

OK, this isn't really a recipe, but I have to put in a plug for Alissa's not-so-secret mashed potatoes. The not-so-secret ingredient?

Cream cheese.

Boil the potatoes, mash the potatoes, put a little milk and salt and pepper in the potatoes. Apparently one can also put butter in the potatoes at this step, but I did not. Instead I put in the magical cream cheese, and boy howdy, as they say. I have never made such delicious potatoes. I put in a fair amount of cream cheese, too, because a lot of a good thing is really good.

Alissa + starchy tubers + delicious dairy products = AWESOME.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Light Summer Minestrone

There aren't a whole lot of seasonings in this recipe, so some may find it bland. I like that the flavor of the veggies really comes through.

Light Summer Minestrone
from Aviva Goldfarb, The Six O'Clock Scramble

1 T olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots or 10-15 baby carrots, diced
2 cans (15 oz each) chicken or vegetable broth
2 soup cans water
1 1/2 cups uncooked thin egg noodles
1 medium yellow squash (about 1/2 pound), diced (or use zucchini)
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 can (15 oz) cannellini or pinto beans, drained
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes or 2 cups fresh tomatos (about 2 tomatos)
10 fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese for serving

In a large saucepan (I used a 5 qt, and that seemed to be about right), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute it for a few minutes while you chop the carrots.

Add the carrots, broth, and water. Cover the pan and bring it to a boil.

Add the noodles and simmer them for about 5 minutes. Add the squash, peas, beans, and tomatos and return the soup to a simmer. Cook it for a few more minutes until the squash is tender.

Stir in the basil and season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup topped with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 8.

While the flavor was good, I think Geoff wanted something more. Next time we do this, we'll probably throw in some sausage or pepperoni.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lemony Nutty Garlicky Broccoli

I discovered a recipe on the Food Network's website. I changed it up a lot -- changed the veggie, changed the cooking method, and ditched the ricotta -- and Geoff and I really liked it. We eyeballed pretty much everything, but I'll estimate amounts to the best of my ability.....

1 T olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups broccoli
1 T lemon juice, maybe a little less?

Heat the oil in a pan, then add the pine nuts. Stir occasionally. As they get lightly browned, add the garlic. When the garlic gets brown, add the broccoli and lemon juice. Season to taste (we used fresh black pepper and Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt).


Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Ok, this isn't exactly healthy, but you can eat it with lots of fresh veggies! Someone brought it to our Memorial Day BBQ and it disappeared in a nanosecond, so I had to find a recipe.

1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled, cooled
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 c. mayo
1 c. sour cream

Combine mayo and sour cream. Fold in bacon and tomatoes. Serve with veggies and crackers.

* One of the recipes I found called for the addition of seasoned salt and onion powder to the recipe above. I thought the bacon added enough of a salty flavor that it didn't need anything else.
* Make sure tomato is seeded and as much liquid is drained off as possible before you add them to the dip. Otherwise the dip gets runny.
* I used low-fat ingredients and it tasted great

Monday, July 03, 2006

French Toast

from the amazing Alton Brown, recipe found on Food Network

1 cup half-and-half
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 (1/2-inch) slices day-old or stale country loaf, brioche or challah bread
4 tablespoons butter
In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, and salt. You may do this the night before. When ready to cook, pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes. Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.

Classic Chocolate Ice Cream

from The Best Ice Cream Maker Cookbook Ever

2 c. heavy cream
2 c. half and half or light cream
3/4 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
3 egg yolks
6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a heavy saucpan, combine the cream, half and half, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot, 6 to 8 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, then gradually whisk 1 c. of the warm cream into it. Return egg mixture to saucepan and cook like vanilla ice cream (below). Remove from heat. Immediately add chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
Strain into a bowl and partially cover. Let cool one hour at room temperature. Stir in vanilla. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or as long as 3 days.
Freeze in ice cream maker according to instructions.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Speckled vanilla bean ice cream

This is our tried and true vanilla ice cream, adapted from the recipe in The Best Ice Cream Maker Cookbook Ever. I've said it before, and I'll say it ice cream maker is a good investment.

2 vanilla beans (I bought some nice ones on eBay last year for not much money)
2 cups heavy cream (or half and half, your choice)
2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
3/4 c. sugar
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla

Split vanilla beans and scrape out seeds. Add beans and pods, cream, vanilla and milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat, cover and let stand for 30 minutes.
Add the sugar and cook until the sugar dissolves and mixture is hot, 6 to 8 minutes.
Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk about 1 c. of the milk mixture into the bow, then return the egg mixture to the pan. Reduce heat to medium low, cook 5 to 10 minutes, until custard thickens.
Strain the custard into a bowl, add vanilla bean pods for flavor. Cool 1 hour at room temperature, then in fridge at least six hours or as long as 3 days.
Discard vanilla bean pods. Pour custard into canister of ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions (30 min for our maker). Transfer to a covered container and freeze at least 3 hours.

Marinated mushrooms

Ernie loves mushrooms. He likes them marinated, raw, sauteed...doesn't really matter, he just loves mushrooms. I'll be making this for him today.

from Tastes of Italia

1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1 1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms (1/3 whole, 1/3 halved, 1/3 quartered)
3 cloves garlic, minched
1 pinch chili flakes
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. lemon zest
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt

In a large saucepan, bring the vinegar and water to boil. Add mushrooms and boil for 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms with slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients, plus enough cooking water cover mushrooms. Let cool, then refrigerate 1 to 2 days. Remove and serve.