Thursday, August 30, 2007

Honey Blueberry Muffin Bread

This is a recipe that my MIL makes quite frequently in summer (but can be made at any time with frozen or dried blueberries). It makes a lot and it's good to eat at breakfast or to nibble on as a snack. It's not terribly sweet but still tasty.

2 eggs
2 C milk
1/2 C veg oil
1/4 C honey
1/2 t. salt
6 t. baking powder
4 C AP flour
1 C blueberries** (I always use more than that)

Mix all ingredients EXCEPT berries by hand in a large bowl. Batter will be lumpy. Fold in blueberries. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and pour in batter. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 min. (depends on your oven).

**if using frozen berries batter will take on a blue tinge the more you stir. It still tastes good anyway.

Pistachio-Crusted Tilapia with Chard, Flash-Fried Prosciutto, Gorgonzola and Pine Nuts


I didn't have any honey mustard, so I just stirred together a couple of spoonfuls of good honey from the farmers market with a couple spoons of Grey poupon. It was tasty. I also only made the tilapia part, because I had other sides for this dish, so I didn't get to the chard/prosciutto part. The fish had a nice flavor, though, and was easy to make.

1 cup shelled pistachios
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tilapia fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons honey mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 ounces prosciutto, diced
4 tablespoons pine nuts
6 cups fresh chard leaves
1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or blue cheese

In a food processor, combine pistachios, oregano, thyme, and garlic powder. Process until finely chopped and transfer to a shallow dish. Season both sides of tilapia fillets with salt and pepper. Brush honey mustard over both sides of tilapia and then transfer to pistachio mixture. Press mixture into both sides of fish.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add tilapia and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, until fork-tender.

Heat remaining oil in a small skillet over high heat. Add prosciutto and cook 2 minutes, until golden brown. Add pine nuts and cook 1 minute, until nuts are golden brown. Add chard leaves, cover and steam 2 minutes, until leaves soften. Arrange chard mixture on a serving platter and top with Gorgonzola and serve with tilapia.

Monday, August 27, 2007

gooey decadent chocolate cake with chocolate chip butter cream frosting

This is the recipe I wound up with this weekend -- Shannon found it here. It turned out really well. The frosting was a little too runny, but I think it would have been OK if it hadn't been 80 zillion degrees in the kitchen where I was baking. Or if I'd thought to refrigerate it for a while first.

But the cake was delicious, with a really rich texture. The bittersweet chocolate also made it very chocolatey without being overly sweet.

2 1/2 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 1/2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet dark chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups cold water
Chambourd raspberry liqueur, for drizzling (I skipped this)
Chocolate Chip Butter Cream, recipe follows
Dark chocolate shavings, for decoration

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla and beat for 3 minutes to incorporate. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another 3 minutes. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the cold water. Beat for 1 minute after each addition to incorporate the ingredients. Mix until the batter is smooth.

Coat 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Cut 2 circles of parchment paper to fit the pan bottoms and place them inside the pans; then spray the paper for added non-stick insurance. Pour batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula; the pans should be 2/3 full. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, see Cook's note*.

Leave to cool for 40 minutes. Turn the cakes out of the pans and remove the paper. Drizzle them with a few tablespoons of Chambourd. With a metal spatula, spread 1/2 cup butter cream on top 1 of the layers. Start in the center and work your way out. Carefully place the second layer on top. Smooth the sides with butter cream, then spread the rest over the top so that the cake is completely covered. Refrigerate for 5 minutes before decorating or cutting.

With a large knife scrape some shavings from a block of dark chocolate. Scatter shavings over cake.

*Cook's note. The cake is cooked when a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean and the cake springs back when touched

Chocolate Chip Butter Cream:
3 cups powdered sugar
7 tablespoons hot water
4 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup semisweet dark chocolate, finely chopped

In the bowl of an electric mixer, dissolve the sugar and water at low speed. Beat in the dark chocolate and vanilla. Add butter gradually in small bits. Mix until everything is completely incorporated. Using a spatula, fold in the chopped chocolate and give a final quick spin.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


I made this to eat on top of the spanikopita burgers we had for the party last night. It's also good with some pita, as a snack in front of the tv. (Not that I'd know anything about that.) And I'm anticipating it being good on my wrap tomorrow -- leftover hummus, sprouts, tomato, cucumber, red onion, chipotle cheddar cheese, on a multi-grain tortilla. It sounds like it'd be good on that, anyway.

from Grazing by Julie Van Rosendaal

1 small cucumber, peeled
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed (I put it through the garlic press)
2 c. good quality plain yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

Grate the cucumber with a box grater onto a double thickness of paper towel. Gather up the cucumber in the towel and squeeze out as much excess water as you can.
Combine cucumber, garlic, yogurt, salt and pepper in a bowl and stir until blended. If you like, add a squeeze of lemon. The garlic flavor intensifies the longer it sits.

Broccoli salad

I made this yesterday for the crab feast and it came together really quickly, and made about a ton. I think we'll be eating it all week (which is totally okay with me).

From Simply Recipes

1 teaspoon salt
5-6 cups fresh broccoli florets (about 1 pound of florets)
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
1/4 cup of red onion, chopped
1 cup of frozen peas, thawed (or fresh peas if you can get them)

1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey

Bring a large pot of water, salted with a teaspoon of salt, to a boil. Add the broccoli florets. Cook 1-2 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want the broccoli. 1 minute will turn the broccoli bright green, and leave it still pretty crunchy. 2 minutes will cook the broccoli through, but still firm. Set your timer and do not cook for more than 2 minutes, or the broccoli will get mushy. Drain the broccoli and immediately put into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Let cool and drain.

Combine broccoli florets, almonds, crumbled bacon, chopped onion, and peas in a large serving bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, cider vinegar and honey. Add dressing to the salad and toss to mix well.
Chill thoroughly before serving.

Heidi Swanson's Special Zucchini Bread

Gwen and I tried this a few weeks back but we didn't squeeze enough moisture out of the shredded zucchini so we baked it for like, 19 hours. The attempt turned out better; it's now my favorite zucc. bread recipe. The notes in brackets are mine.

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, plus a few to sprinkle on top [the bigger the chunks, the better]
1/3 cup poppy seeds (optional)
zest of two lemons (optional)
1/2 cup crystalized ginger, finely chopped (optional) [I'm not crazy about how crystalized ginger gets stuck in your teeth, so I used powdered ginger, but I suspect grated fresh ginger would taste awesome too]

1/2 cup unsalted butter [I added another 1/4 C]
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large (preferably organic) eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups grated zucchini (about 3 medium), skins on, squeeze some of the moisture out and then fluff it up again before using. [do not skip the squeezing step!]

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or apf flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon curry powder (optional) [I used garam masala]

Special equipment: two 1 pound loaf pans (5 x 9 inches) [I made muffins - the teeny ones baked for 20 min and the regular sized baked for just under 30 min]

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter the two loaf pans, dust them with a bit of flour and set aside. Alternately, you can line the pans with a sheet of parchment. If you leave a couple inches hanging over the pan, it makes for easy removal after baking. Just grab the parchment "handles" and lift the zucchini bread right out.

In a small bowl combine the walnuts, poppy seeds, lemon zest, and ginger. Set aside.

In a mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat again until mixture comes together and is no longer crumbly. Add the eggs one at a time mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Stir in the vanilla and then the zucchini (low speed if you are using a mixer).

In a separate bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and curry powder. Add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches, stirring between each addition.

By hand, fold in the walnut, poppy seed, lemon zest, and crystalized ginger mixture. Save a bit of this to sprinkle on the tops of the zucchini loaves before baking for a bit of texture. Avoid over mixing the batter, it should be thick and moist, not unlike a butter cream frosting.

Divide the batter equally between the two loaf pans. Make sure it is level in the pans, by running a spatula over the top of each loaf. Bake for about 40-45 minutes on a middle oven rack. I like to under bake my zucchini bread ever so slightly to ensure it stays moist. Keep in mind it will continue to cook even after it is removed from the oven as it is cooling. Remove from the oven and cool the zucchini bread in pan for about ten minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to finish cooling - if you leave them in their pans, they will get sweaty and moist (not in a good way) as they cool.

Makes 2 loaves. [or many muffins]

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

a call for chocolate cake

J. has requested a chocolate cake for his birthday next week, and I'm looking for a good recipe... I just paged through the ones on our site, and although I now am craving all things dessert, none of them are quite perfect. I want to do a full cake (not cupcakes), only chocolate (no mint or peanut butter anything) and something from scratch (not a mix, since I'm trying to be all fancy and "it's your birthday"-level special, which I recognize is kind of dumb since Becky's Triple Chocolate Cake is probably better than whatever I'll wind up making).

All that said, any ideas?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fish and Chips, a variation

3-4 tilapia fillets
1 avocado, scored in skin and scooped out (diced)
2 tomatoes, diced
1 lemon, quartered lengthwise
1 yellow onion, quartered lengthwise
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 medium potatoes
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
ground cumin
ground coriander
Tabasco (or preferred hot sauce)
olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine diced avocado with diced tomato and the juice of one lemon quarter. Finely mince one onion quarter and add it to the mix. Season with a splash of olive oil and cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste. Stir together to slightly mash avocado. Set aside in the fridge for flavors to meld.

Put potatoes in the microwave for 4 minutes. Cut potatoes in half and then the halves into 1/4" slices. Slice one onion quarter into 1/4" slices. Combine potato slices, onion slices, minced garlic, sea salt, pepper and olive oil to coat. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 35-45 minutes until potatoes are golden brown and crisp on outside.

Lightly oil the bottom of a baking dish and arrange fish in one layer. Season with salt and pepper. Slice the remaining lemon and the remaining onion into very thin smiles and arrange them generously on each fillet. Bake fish until white and flaky, approx. 15 min. (Potatoes will be finishing)

Serve fish topped with your fresh salsa beside a mound of oven fried potatoes.
So yummy.

Chickpeas in Tomato Sauce With Feta and Wine served over Polenta

These two recipes came from I was looking for something on which to serve the beans and didn't want to do the usual rice or pasta routine.

part 1 - Chickpea recipe

I used Great Northern beans b/c I was out of chickpeas (the horror!)

1 1/3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and ground black pepper to taste.

1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, and stir in the onion, garlic, and oregano. Cook and stir about 10 minutes, until onions are tender.
2. Mix tomatoes into the skillet, and cook until heated through. Mix in wine, and continue cooking about 15 minutes, until thickened.
3. Stir garbanzo beans and feta cheese into the skillet, and cook 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, and allow to cool about 5 minutes before serving.

part 2 - polenta recipe


* 2 cups milk
* 2 cups chicken stock
* 1 cup yellow cornmeal
* 1 cup Parmesan cheese
* 2 cups spaghetti sauce, or your favorite recipe (I should have left this part out and just put some of the bean mixture on top.)

easy, no?

Baby Bran Muffins

From the The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook by Jean Hewitt
via the lovely and talented Heidi Swanson of 101

These were very easy and delicious.

2 cups white whole wheat flour OR stone ground whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups wheat bran
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons raw natural cane sugar OR brown sugar
2 cups full fat yogurt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey, preferably a light honey such as clover
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup of add-ins of your choice - raisins, chopped dried fruit, nuts, etc (optional)

Preheat oven to 425F degrees, racks in the middle.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, wheat bran, salt, baking soda and sugar.

Beat together the yogurt, egg, honey, and butter in a second larger bowl. Add the dry ingredients and fold in until everything comes together. Fold in any optional add-ins, raisins, nuts, and the like. Resist overmixing.

Either grease a mini-muffin tin with butter or line the tin with small muffin papers. Fill each 3/4 full. Bake 10 -15 minutes, until muffins are golden on top and cooked through. You can also make larger muffins in a standard size muffin pan with this batter, you just need to bake them about 5 minutes longer.

Makes about two dozen tiny bran muffins or one dozen larger ones.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

roasted peppers with garlic & basil

Ho HO, these are good in sandwiches or with pasta or just on their own. I threw a dozen multi-colored little tomatoes in there too. (One tip: Next time, I will put foil down on the pan before putting it in the oven; the tomatoes burst and burned on the bottom, and the pan required 24 hours of soaking to get them off.)

4 large green and/or red bell peppers, cleaned and sliced into 3/4-inch slices
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried basil (I used fresh, and a lot more than a tablespoon)
Salt and pepper to taste
About 3 tablespoons of olive oil (more if needed)

Preheat oven to 475° F. Place peppers, garlic, basil, salt and pepper in large shallow baking dish or sheet pan. (Do not crowd the peppers or they will steam rather than roast.) Pour oil over all and stir well to combine. Place in oven and roast until very tender, stirring occasionally. The peppers should brown slightly between turns. This will take between 40 and 60 minutes, depending on the thickness of the flesh. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. These are also very good at room temperature.