Saturday, June 28, 2008

Peach Yums

This recipe is from a Northern Irish friend who learned it from an American. It's so easy yet so delicious. Perfect for when you need a quick dessert.

Serves 4:

2-3 tins of halved peaches (in syrup or juice, whatever your preference - I use syrup)
1 bar of really nice chocolate (milk or dark, again, whatever you prefer - I like the dark)
ice cream, yogurt, creme fraiche, or thick cream to serve

In a casserole dish, place the peaches with the rounded side down/pit side up. Drizzle the syrup/juice around the bottom of the dish, around the peaches. Place a couple of squares of chocolate on top of each peach half. Put in the oven at 350F/180C for about 20 minutes or until the chocolate is lovely and gooey.

Serve with the dairy product of your choice and drizzle the warm juice from the pan over the top. Yummy!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mediterranean kebabs

I made this for dinner last night and it was so, so good. Gaby inhaled her chicken, without any prodding from me. I'll be making this again, and soon.

The original recipe is here.

Four chicken breasts
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 cloves crushed garlic
1/4 cup finely-chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup finely-chopped fresh basil (from my garden!)
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp fresh thyme (from my garden!)
1Ž2 tsp ground cumin
1Ž2 tsp ground coriander
2 large sweet onions chopped into wedges (I forgot to do the onions)
Approximately 20 cherry tomatoes
Three yellow bell peppers cut into chunks (I didn't use this many)
Three orange peppers cut into chunks (I didn't use this much, either)

Mix yogurt, herbs, garlic spices and mustard. Cut meat into 1-inch chunks and marinate in yogurt mixture. Marinate lamb or chicken (we marinated the chicken for about 8 hours)
Thread on skewers, cook on grill until done.
A tip: We find if you thread the chicken on separate skewers than the vegetables, then you can cook everything until it is the appropriate doneness without having stuff burn.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Chicken in red sauce

I think Pioneer Woman must be listening when we complain about too much butter. Or else someone went to the doctor and the doctor had a heart attack just looking at the cholesterol level.
In any case, this recipe was good, quick to throw together, and hearty. We had this with garlic bread, and I managed to not burn the top of the garlic bread this time, leading to much rejoicing from Ernie and Gaby. This tastes sort of like chicken cacciatore, only without the mushrooms and red pepper flakes. Next time I might add the red pepper flakes, at least to my bowl.

PW's original recipe is here.

Olive Oil
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (I used chicken tenderloins)
1/2 to 1 medium Onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves Garlic, chopped
1/2 cup White Wine (or Chicken Broth)
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
Pinch of Sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped Fresh Parsley
8 large fresh Basil leaves, chiffonaded (from my garden!)
3 to 4 Tbsp. fresh oregano (from my garden!)
1 package Linguine noodles, cooked. (Can use any pasta you'd like.)
Fresh Parmesan Cheese, grated, in abundance

Boil a pot of water for the pasta. Cook linguine noodles until al dente.
Heat olive oil in a hot skillet, then add diced chicken thighs in single layer. Don't stir around; just let them brown on one side. Flip over with spatula, allow to brown, then remove to separate plate. In same pan, over medium heat, add onions and garlic and stir to combine. Pour in wine (or broth) then scrape bottom of pan with whisk to loosen brown bits. Next, pour in crushed tomatoes, add salt, pepper, and pinch of sugar, then simmer for fifteen minutes. After fifteen minutes, throw in all the cooked chicken, including its juice from the plate. Allow to simmer for fifteen more minutes. Add chopped fresh herbs at the end, then pour over cooked linguine in large bowl or platter. Top with lots and lots of fresh grated Parmesan

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Golden Buttermilk Cake with Strawberries

Found this recipe here. I intend to make strawberry shortcakes tonight with the cake, strawberries, ice cream and whipped cream.

1 cup cake flour (about 4 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup egg substitute (or 1 egg)
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
4 cups sliced strawberries
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
Place 1/3 cup granulated sugar and butter in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add egg substitute; beat just until combined. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition. Stir in vanilla (batter will be thick).
Spoon batter into an 8-inch round cake pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack. Sift powdered sugar over top of cake.
Combine berries and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; toss to coat. Let stand 15 minutes. Serve berry mixture with cake.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Macaroni and cheese

Gaby wanted mac and cheese tonight, and Mikey agreed he/she might like some, too. It's too hot to go with my normal recipe -- I was afraid it would be too heavy -- so I tried a version from Kim O'Donnel (if you're not reading the Washington Post cooking writer, why not?) instead. It was definitely good, and easy to throw together. I made the roux while the pasta was boiling.

Kim's original recipe is here. And here's how I did it, based on 5-year-old sensibilities and what was in the house.

9 ounces small shells
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus a little extra for greasing the pan
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)
1/4 cup bread crumbs (all I had were Italian bread crumbs)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease the sides of a glass or ceramic baking dish with butter. Cook macaroni in salted boiling water until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to buttered dish.
In a medium saucepan, add butter and allow to melt over low-medium heat. Add flour, and with a wooden spoon, stir quickly to combine and form a roux.
Continue to stir, and cook for about 1 minute, making sure flour lumps disappear. Roux will be a golden yellow color. Add milk, mustard, salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir to combine. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring regularly to make sure milk does not scald, until mixture is thickened. The mixture is ready when a streak on the back of your wooden spoon is prominent. Add cheese and stir or whisk constantly until mixture is smooth and free of lumps.
Pour cheese sauce over pasta to cover evenly. Top it off with a layer of bread crumbs. Place dish in oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until cheese begins to bubble. To crisp up bread crumb topping, place dish under broiler for about 1 minute. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

Karen's Molasses Cookies

Apparently these are originally from Mocha Molly's Coffee Saloon in Steamboat, Colorado, and the recipe was printed in Gourmet in Nov. 1995. These were some good cookies. Karen adds chocolate chips to the dough at the very end, but I prefer mine in their pure non-chocolately state.

4 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 ¼ tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 ¼ tsp ground cloves
1 ¼ tsp cinnamon
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup vegetable shortening
3 ½ cups sugar, divided (Karen uses less in dough)
½ cup unsulfured molasses
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease 2 large baking sheets.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cloves and cinnamon.

In another large bowl with an electric mixer, beat together butter, shortening, and 3 cups sugar (Karen uses 2 ½ cups here) until light and fluffy and then beat in molasses. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture and combine well.

In a small shallow bowl, put remaining ½ cup sugar. Form dough into 2 inch balls and roll in sugar. On baking sheets, arrange balls about 4 inches apart and flatten slightly with bottom of a glass dipped in sugar.

Bake cookies in batches in middle of the oven 15 minutes, or until puffed and golden (cookies should be soft). Transfer cookies with metal spatula to racks to cool.

Makes about 25 cookies.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pineapple shrimp

Ernie and I joked that yesterday was a Pioneer Woman cooking day. I can't help it, I don't have much time to cook during the week (that should change when I'm home all the time) and a lot of PW's recipes have a lot of butter in them -- which makes me automatically think of "special occasions.
This shrimp isn't really a special occasion type food, it just took a bit to thread all the shrimp through the skewers. Ree's original recipe is here, but here's how I did it. We ate it with my new favorite way to eat potatoes -- smashed -- and corn on the cob. And Ernie was a happy man.

Peeled, Deveined Jumbo Shrimp
Teriyaki Sauce
Chopped Garlic
1 Tbsp. Sugar
Canned Pineapple Chunks, juice reserved
Lemon juice
Fresh ginger

Make a marinade by combining Teriyaki sauce with remaining ingredients and reserved pineapple juice. Feel free to add whatever ingredients sound good! Stir in peeled/deveined jumbo shrimp and marinate at least a couple of hours. Skewer pineapple chunks with the shrimp and grill until done.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

zucchini carpaccio salad

The first recipe I've cooked in my new kitchen in Ithaca! It is a cute kitchen, red and white and just the right size, although I'm kind of curious to see how I'll navigate the tiny ancient oven that won't light properly.

It's still too hot to think about really cooking, though, so I did this cold salad from Smitten Kitchen (and arugula from my garden!). It was simple and good -- I don't trust myself to own a mandoline because I'd probably slice off an important finger or two, so I just tried to cut the zucchini extra-thin with a regular knife.

Adapted from Gourmet, July 2006

1 1/2 lb zucchini (about 3 large)*
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 lb arugula, stems discarded and leaves cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips (6 cups)
1 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, coarsely grated (on large holes of a box grater; 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Special equipment: an adjustable-blade slicer

Cut zucchini crosswise into paper-thin slices with slicer.

Toss zucchini slices with 1 teaspoon salt in a large colander set over a bowl and let drain 20 minutes.

Rinse zucchini slices well, then drain, pressing gently on slices to extract any excess liquid. Pat zucchini slices dry with a kitchen towel.

Put arugula greens in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Drizzle 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil over greens and toss.

Arrange zucchini slices over arugula greens, then drizzle with remaining oil, lemon juice and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and pepper.

* A delicious and colorful variation could include yellow summer squash, as well.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The handy meat "doneness" test from elise at simply recipes

Just putting this here for future reference for any remaining red meat eaters in the bunch. so clever.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Garlic bread

Garlic bread seems like a pretty easy thing to make, but I've been looking for the "perfect" recipe for a while. Simply Recipes to the rescue again.

1 16-ounce loaf of Italian bread or French bread
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
1 heaping tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut the bread in half, horizontally. Mix the butter, garlic, and parsley together in a small bowl. Spread butter mixture over the the two bread halves. Place on a sturdy baking pan (one that can handle high temperatures, not a cookie sheet) and heat in the oven for 10 minutes.
Remove pan from oven. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over bread if you want. Return to oven on the highest rack. Broil on high heat for 2-3 minutes until the edges of the bread begin to toast and the cheese (if you are using cheese) bubbles. Watch very carefully while broiling. The bread can easily go from un-toasted to burnt.
Remove from oven, let cool a minute. Remove from pan and make 1-inch thick slices. Serve immediately.

Homemade Pizza

I have become obsessed with homemade pizza recently. I seriously can't get enough of it, and it's something I love making as much as I enjoy eating. I find this recipe is even better as reheated leftovers.

The recipe makes enough for a 14in pizza.

To make the dough (to be made in a bread machine - recipe from Russell Hobbs):
160ml tepid water
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp dried milk powder
320g strong white flour (I use half whole wheat and half white)
1/2 sachet dried active yeast

1. Add the tepid water to the tin. Follow this with the olive oil, salt, sugar and milk powder.
2. Add the strong flour to the tin, on top of the wet ingredients.
3. Finally add the yeast into the tin, on top of the flour.
4. Place the tin back in the machine and set the program to 'dough' or 'pizza dough' and press start.
5. When the cycle has finished, remove the dough from the machine and place onto a floured surface. Roll the dough into the desired shape and place onto a lightly oiled non-stick baking tray.
(my note: I like crispy, medium thick crust, so I bake my pizza dough for about 5-10 minutes before adding the toppings)

To make the sauce (recipe my own but inspired by an Italian friend):
2 tbsp olive oil
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 garlic cloves peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 onion roughly chopped
salt to taste
sugar to taste (if the tomatoes are particularly bitter)
1 tbsp mixed Italian herbs (I sometimes use more)

1. Heat olive oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and saute for a couple of minutes.
2. Add tomatoes, salt, sugar and herbs. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Pour the tomato sauce through a sieve into another saucepan, using the back of a spoon to squeeze all the juice from the tomato bits, onions and garlic. If the sauce seems slightly watery, you can continue simmering it to reduce it a bit.

While the dough is being made and the sauce is simmering, cook whatever meat you want on your pizza and prepare any vegetable toppings. Build the pizza using fresh or grated mozzarella and your favourite toppings (mine are sausage, red onion and fresh green chili peppers). Bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust of the pizza is crispy.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Smashed potatoes

I've got a love affair with potatoes. Any kind of potatoes, doesn't really matter in my book. Which is sort of unfortunate, since I live with a Filipino who could never eat another potato and be perfectly happy with life, as long as he's got rice.
I make potatoes anyway, because I am stubborn -- and pregnant -- and I do most of the cooking. If he wants rice, he makes a pot of rice and eats that. Gaby? She's firmly in the rice camp.
Which really just leaves more potatoes for me.
I knew when I saw this recipe earlier in the week that it'd turn up in my menu planning this weekend. Cooking potatoes this way is good, and easy, and you can really adapt it any way you like. My friend Crystal also made them this week, and she used chives, cheese and bacon bits.
But here's how I did it.

New Potatoes (or other small, round potato -- I used red potatoes)
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Whatever herb you like (I used rosemary)

Begin by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make, and cook them until they’re fork-tender.
Next, generously drizzle olive oil on a sheet pan. This is to keep the potatoes from sticking, so I put some oil on the pan and then smeared it around to coat.
When the potatoes are tender, place them on the cookie sheet, giving them plenty of room to spread out. Next, grab your potato masher and gently press down on the potato until it slightly mashed.Then rotate the masher 90 degrees and finish flattening it. Of course, you don’t want to absolutely smash it into the pan -- you want it almost to resemble a cookie. You can also use the bottom of a glass for this step.
Next, brush the tops rather generously with olive oil. Salt with kosher salt, sprinkle with pepper and add whatever herbs you like, chopped finely.
Put them onto the top rack of a 450-degree oven, and cook them for 20-25 minutes until they’re golden and crispy and sizzling.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Broccoli Pesto & Fusilli Pasta

I thought I had fallen out of love with Heidi of 101 after the black bean brownie incident, but I had all of these ingredients in my fridge the same day I clicked open this recipe and now we're cool. I'd never tried pesto made from veg (as Kel would say), and I really liked the flavor of this.

1 medium head of broccoli (about 3 cups), cut into very small florets
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
1 clove of garlic
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 teaspoon + fine grain sea salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound (8 ounces) dried whole wheat pasta (bite-sized - fusilli, penne, etc)
3 handfuls of spinach or chard, well chopped
handful of oily black olives, pitted

more Parmesan for serving

Bring two pots of water to a boil, one large, one medium. In the medium pot you'll cook the broccoli, the large can be used for the pasta.

To cook the broccoli, salt the boiling water and add the broccoli. Cook for just twelve seconds. Drain immediately and run cold water over the broccoli to stop the cooking. Reserve a few of the small broccoli trees and puree the rest in a food processor along with the walnuts, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Drizzle in the olive oil while still blending. Taste, adjust with more salt or lemon juice if needed and set aside.

To cook the pasta, salt the boiling water generously and add the pasta. Boil until just barely tender. Drain, transfer the hot pasta to a large bowl and stir in the spinach, it should wilt. Gently stir in about half of the pesto. Taste, add more pesto to your liking. Served topped with olives, the reserved broccoli florets, and a dusting of Parmesan cheese.

Makes about 6 side servings.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Baked Apricot Chicken

From: The Six O'Clock Scramble

This took no time at all to throw together. This would make a good weekday meal, because you can get it on the table in about 30 minutes, and you probably have most of the ingredients already. I served it with cous cous and broccoli.

1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c. apricot jam
2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. olive oil
6 dried apricots, coarsely chopped (I didn't have these)

Preheat oven to 350 (when ready to cook. If you want to marinate this for a few hours, preheat whenever you're ready to start baking). Lay the chicken in an oven-safe dish.

Mix together all the remaining ingredients except the dried apricots. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Top with the dried apricots.

Marinate chicken in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 24 hours, or bake it immediately for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.