Sunday, July 29, 2007

Spanikopita burgers

I'm always looking for a new way to make turkey burgers, and these were pretty good. I had intended to put them on the grill, but the thunderstorms (stupid weather!) made that impossible and I cooked them on our Foreman grill instead.
(Also, and unrelated -- if you live in this area and you haven't been to the Penzey's yet, go. Go right now. Trust me.)

adapted from Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red onion, half chopped, and half thinly sliced
1 10-ounce box frozen spinach, defrosted
1 teaspoon dried oregano, lightly crushed in the palm of your hand
1/4 pound feta crumbles
1 package (1 1/3 pounds) ground chicken or ground turkey breast
1 tablespoon grill seasoning, such as McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning (I used the no-salt kind)
1/3 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced lengthwise
salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 crusty rolls, split (This makes 6 burgers for us)
1 cup coarsely chopped or shredded arugula
Hot pepper rings or pepperoncini (optional)

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. To one side, add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the butter. When the butter melts, add the garlic and all the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer the garlic and onions to a bowl to cool. Return the pan to the heat. (I think she forgot a step here. I think you are supposed to keep the chopped onions and sliced onions separated in the pan. The chopped onions go into the burger mixture and the sliced onions are saved to put on top of the burger.)

Wring the defrosted spinach dry by twisting it in a clean kitchen towl over your sink. Separate the spinach as you add it to the bowl with the cooled onions and garlic, and season with the oregano. Add the feta crumbles, then the chicken or turkey, grill seasoning, and a drizzle of olive oil. Make patties, cook for 6 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.

Season the cucumbers and tomatoes with salt and pepper.

The recipe calls for an olive/red pepper paste to spread on the bread, but we used just mayo and the cooked onion slices. (I didn't have any cucumbers in the house) I think this would be really good with a yogurt/cucumber sauce, which is what I'll do next time.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Corn risotto

This would be really good with fresh corn, if you've got some nice fresh corn. I didn't feel like dealing with the fresh corn, though, so I used defrosted frozen corn.

From Food & Wine, Aug. 2007

6 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio rice (12 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup white corn kernels (from 2 ears)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil with the bay leaf. Keep the stock warm over very low heat.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring until opaque, about 3 minutes. Add the white wine and cook, stirring, until completely absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the warm stock and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until nearly absorbed.
Continue adding the stock 1 cup at a time and stirring until it is absorbed between additions. After about half of the stock has been added, stir in the corn, then add the remaining stock. The rice is done when it's al dente and creamy, about 25 minutes total. Stir in the cheese and butter; season with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf and serve.

Sour cherry streusel pie

Bon Apetit, July 2005

1 pie crust (I used frozen)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
6 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (scant) sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 1/2 pounds sour cherries, pitted

For streusel:
Mix first 5 ingredients in bowl. Add melted butter and vanilla; rub in with fingertips until small clumps form. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover; let stand at room temperature.)
For filling:
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 375°F. Place foil-lined baking sheet in bottom of oven to catch spills. Mix first 4 ingredients in large bowl. Add cherries; toss to coat. Let stand until cherries begin to release juice, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer filling to chilled crust, mounding in center. Sprinkle streusel over, covering completely and pressing to adhere.

Bake pie 20 minutes. Tent loosely with foil. Bake until filling bubbles thickly and streusel is golden, about 1 hour 10 minutes longer. Cool on rack.

Pesto alla Genovese

I got this one from the Food Network. It was quick, easy and really tasty. Gaby slurped up all the noodles, and it makes good use of all my basil. We'll be making it again this week.

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2004

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound dried or fresh farfalle pasta
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the basil, salt, and pepper and process for a few seconds until the basil is chopped. Add the cheese, pine nuts, and garlic and, while the processor is running, add the oil in a thin, steady stream until a mostly smooth sauce is formed. Transfer pesto to a bowl and set aside. (Note: Pesto may be made 1 day in advance and kept, refrigerated, in an airtight container, until ready to use. If making in advance, be sure to cover the top of the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent the pesto from darkening. Pesto may also be frozen in the same manner in small quantities for use at a later date.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, according to package directions, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. In a large bowl, toss pasta with pesto. Add a little of the reserved cooking liquid if pasta seems to dry. Serve immediately.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Banana bread of sincere repentance

Due to circumstances the details of which are now lost to time, I once pissed off a woman in my Arlington neighborhood and needed to make amends. I sought the advice of the sage and amicable Gwen. We decided that a loaf of homemade banana bread was in order and this is the fabulous recipe she provided.

6T of softened butter
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 med. mashed bananas
1 1/2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

(In my most recent loaf, I used 8 T butter because I'm asking for heart disease, 4 large bananas because I'm trying to whittle the quantity of bananas in my freezer to a manageable number, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste because I consider it cheating if my spice cabinet gets ignored when I'm in the kitchen. I also used bread flour because that's what I had on hand and added an extra tsp of baking powder because my butt told me that a rising agent is what all purpose flour has that bread flour doesn't. (??) Due solely to availability in my house, chocolate and coconut went in, nuts stayed out. I was very happy with the results and have been single-handedly polishing off the entire loaf.)

preheat oven to 350
cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth
stir in mashed banana
stir together flour baking powder and salt in separate bowl
fold dry ingredients into batter until just blended
stir in nuts/choc/coconut
grease 9x5 loaf pan
bake about 1 hr (golden on top, clean toothpick)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Summer Express

Geoff sent me the link to an article from the NY Times (registration required, but it's free) entitled "Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less." Enjoy!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

White Bean and Spinach Pizza

from Betty Crocker, The Healthy Heart Cookbook (2005)

Geoff added some sliced portabellos to his pizza. He thought it was a good addition. I'm not a fan of fungus, so I left that off. We both liked the end results. I'm sure you could add meat or cooked chicken to this, and it would be great, too.

1/2 cup sun-dried tomato halves (not oil-packed) (we used fresh, sliced tomatos)
1 can (15-16 oz.) great northern or navy beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium cloves, finely chopped
1 package (10 oz.) ready-to-serve thin Italian pizza crust (12" diameter) (we used 2 mini crusts)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 cup firmly packed washed fresh spinach leaves (from 10-ounce bag), shredded
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Colby-Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 425. Pour enough boiling water over dried tomatoes to cover; let stand 10 minutes. Drain. Cut into thin strips; set aside.

Place beans and garlic in a food processor. Cover and process until smooth. Spread beans over pizza crust. Sprinkle with oregano, tomatoes, spinach and cheese. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Curried Chicken or Turkey Salad

from The Joy of Cooking (2006 version)

Geoff and I made this, and put it into croissants for delicious party hors d'oeuvres. They were gone by the end of the party, so in my book it was a hit. We'll probably make this again, just for ourselves.

Makes 4 servings

2 cups diced cooked chicken or turkey
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts, almonds, or cashews (we used walnuts)
1/4 cup dark or golden raisins (we used golden)
3 scallions, chopped
1 apple, cored, peeled, and coarsely chopped
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1/2 to 3/4 cup curry mayonnaise (recipe follows)
salt and black pepper to taste

Combine chicken, nuts, raisins, scallions, apple, and celery in a medium bowl. Mix in curry mayonnaise and salt and pepper. Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves (or in a sandwich).

Curry Mayonnaise
Makes generous 1 cup

2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped mango chutney (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped kumquat (optional)
1 tablespoon slivered almonds (optional)

Stir curry powder and vegetable oil together in a small skillet over low heat for 30 to 60 seconds, until fragrant. Let cool, then whisk curry mixture into mayonnaise. Add remaining ingredients.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Banana Crunch Muffins

I had a few overripe bananas on the counter, so I turned them into banana muffins today, with Gaby's help. They are really good. My notes in italics.

Copyright, 1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 extra-large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk (I used 2 percent)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)
1 cup medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)
1 cup small-diced walnuts (I omitted)
1 cup granola (I didn't have granola, so I used grape nuts and a Kashi cereal I had mixed)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Dried banana chips, granola, or shredded coconut, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 18 large muffin cups with paper liners. (I didn't do this, I just sprayed the muffin cups with Pam) Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the melted butter and blend. Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas, and add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Scrape the bowl and blend well. Don't overmix.
Fold the diced bananas, walnuts, granola, and coconut into the batter. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each 1 to the top. Top each muffin with dried banana chips, granola, or coconut, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, (it took 25 minutes for mine) or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly, remove from the pan, and serve.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Moroccan Lentil Salad

From Cooking for Two or More by the Pampered Chef Test Kitchens (but I found it on

When Geoff and I went to the grocery store on July 4th, we couldn't find some of the ingredients the recipe calls for. I've put our substitutions in parentheses. Also, be aware that this recipe only makes enough for 2 people.


1/2 cup dried brown lentils
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1 plum tomato, diced
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1 (1-ounce) block feta cheese, finely diced
3 tablespoons snipped fresh mint
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 garlic clove, pressed
Mixed baby salad greens (optional)
Paprika (optional)


Place lentils in colander; rinse and pick out any stones or other debris. Bring water to a boil in (1.5-qt.) saucepan; add lentils, salt and bay leaf. Simmer, uncovered, 20-25 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain lentils; remove and discard bay leaf. Set lentils aside to cool.

In stainless (2-qt.) mixing bowl, combine lentils, tomato, onion, cheese, mint and parsley. In small bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and garlic until well-blended. Drizzle dressing over salad, tossing gently to coat. If desired, serve salad over salad greens and sprinkle with paprika.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Lavender honey and yogurt pie

This recipe was a little fussy but worth it. From Epicurious/Icebox Desserts:

Lavender honey is especially fragrant and flavorful, but any other favorite honey is fine in this wholesome-tasting pie. (We couldn't find lavender and used wildflower.) I think fresh peaches sweetened with a little honey and cinnamon are the perfect accompaniment, but plums, berries, or any other fresh fruit of your choice may be substituted. Use organic, whole-milk yogurt if at all possible. The Stonyfield Farm brand is widely available at supermarkets and natural foods stores.

Makes 8 servings.

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Crumb Crust:
11 whole graham crackers (to yield about 1 1/3 cups crumbs)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
1 cup whole-milk yogurt
1/2 cup lavender honey
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled

2 medium-size ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons lavender honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350°F. Process the graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground. Combine the crumbs, melted butter, oats, brown sugar, and salt in a medium-size bowl and stir until moistened. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate and all the way up the side, packing it tightly with your fingertips so it is even and compacted. Bake until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. (The crust may be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 1 month.)

2. To make the filling, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small stainless-steel bowl and let soften for 2 minutes. Whisk together the yogurt and honey in a medium-size bowl.

3. Bring 2 inches of water in a small saucepan to a bare simmer. Set the bowl containing the gelatin over the pan, making sure it doesn't touch the water, and heat, whisking constantly, just until it melts, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk into the yogurt mixture until smooth.

4. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds stiff peaks. Gently fold the yogurt mixture into the whipped cream, taking care not to deflate the cream. Scrape into the prepared pie shell, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely set, at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.

5. To make the topping, when ready to serve, combine the peach slices, honey, and cinnamon in a medium-size bowl. Slice the pie into wedges and serve each slice with some peaches on the side.