Sunday, August 31, 2008

Chocolate Drizzled Cherry Cookie Bars

I can't remember where I got this. I'll update if I figure it out. These were a big hit for a game-night treat, and also the next day for breakfast. Oats and fruit... counts as breakfast, right?

For the crust and crumb mixture:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I used regular whole wheat flour)
1 cup all-purpose flour (I omitted this and used 2 cups whole wheat flour instead)
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
20 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

For the Filling:
21 oz can cherry pie filling
1 tsp almond extract

For the Drizzle:
3 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the base:
In large mixing bowl, beat together flour, oats, sugar, butter and salt on low speed until combined and mixture is clumpy (I just mixed with a big spoon until clumpy). Set aside 1 1/2 cups of mixture). Scoop rest of mixture into a 9x13" baking dish. Press the crumbs down to form an even base. Bake until edges are very light brown -about 15 minutes (I baked a few minutes longer).

To make filling:
In the same mixing bowl, stir together the cherries and almond extract. Carefully spread the filling over the hot crust. Evenly scatter the top with the reserved crumb mixture. Place back in the oven and continue to bake until top is golden brown - about 30 minutes (I baked a few minutes longer). Remove and set on a wire rack to cool completely.

For the drizzle:
Melt chocolate. Drizzle over the top of the cooled bars and let sit until the chocolate has a chance to set before cutting.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Apricot chicken

Since I'm working my way through cookbooks, I picked out two to get me started. Because eating a recipe from one author every day seems like not so much fun.
In any case, this is from "Mama Now Cooks Like This" by Susan Mendelson. And it was GOOD. Ernie inhaled his chicken, and Gaby ate hers, too, and had some of the leftover sauce on her rice. Which she pronounced was delicious. I'll be making this again.

Preheat oven to 375.

1 5-lb roasting chicken, cut into serving-size pieces. (I used a package of chicken breasts I had in the freezer.)
Combine and heat:
1 c. apricot jam
1/2 c. chili sauce
1/4 c. dry white wine
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. fresh ginger
1/4 tsp. salt

Place chicken in baking pan. Baste thoroughly with sauce. Bake 1 hour until chicken tests done and surface is sticky.
Top with 5 oz. dried apricots during last half hour of baking time.

Peanut butter dog treats

I love my dog. I mean, a lot. She is part of our family. And yet, it doesn't bother me to buy dog treats in the pet store. Not one bit.
But then I went to visit my parents, you see, and my father is always doing something. Like making dog treats for his two dogs. And Sally, she loved them. And they're not hard to make. And are definitely less expensive than buying them in the grocery store.
So I made my own dog treats today. I'll be making these again, along with the other recipe my dad gave me. And possibly some other ones that I find online.
I know. I'm now one of those crazy dog people. I'm trying to come to terms with that.

This is adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe my dad got from somewhere. I don't know where.

2 c. whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 pinches cinnamon
1 c. peanut butter
1 c. milk

Combine whole wheat flour, baking powder and cinnamon in large bowl. In medium bowl, microwave peanut butter for 15 seconds to soften, then combine with milk. Stir peanut butter mixture into dry ingredients.
After combined, roll out the dough to about 1/8-inch thick. Either cut out with very small cookie cutters (which is what I did today) or cut into 1" squares (like my dad).
Bake 5-6 minutes, flip, and bake 5-6 minutes more.
Cool completely before feeding to dog. Who will love you even more than she/he already does.

Sticky fries

This is for Gwen, who requested the recipe. I've been wanting lots of potatoes lately, and remembered my mom used to make these when I was a kid. Of course, she made them when she was cooking liver and onions (yuck) for dinner, but I figure I'm not a kid anymore and I can eat them whenever I want.
I had to call her last night to have her remind me how to make them. They're not fancy at all, but they sure do taste good.

Peel some russet potatoes. I think you could really use whatever kind of potatoes you want, I had russets in the house last night. And you don't really have to peel them, I just did.
Slice potatoes thin, but not too thin.
Put them in a microwaveable dish, cover with water, and microwave for about 3-4 minutes, to soften them up but not cook all the way through.
Drain water.
Put oil enough oil in the bottom of a skillet to coat it. (I used my cast iron skillet) Turn heat to medium.
Put potatoes in the pan. Sprinkle with salt and granulated garlic. (or no garlic, your choice) I think an onion might also be good here, but I didn't use one in the hopes that Gaby might want to eat the potatoes. She didn't.
Cook potatoes over medium heat until desired crispiness/softness. They'll stick together, hence the name. They're also not going to be the same amount of crispy on all the potatoes. It's just because they stick together.
Drain on paper towel, then eat the whole batch. might want to share them. But eat warm. I'm not sure they'd reheat well, but we've never tried it out.

quinoa and black bean salad

Photo! Doesn't look as good as real food bloggers' photos, but it'll have to do.

I found this recipe on Epicurious when I was looking for something to pay homage to my first green pepper from the garden. (Apologies if you are getting sick of this garden theme...) I didn't make the quinoa the crazy way they're recommending, because it just seemed complicated and I like quinoa's texture the way it is when you just cook it normally in water, like rice. If any of you are adventurous, I'd be curious to know if it really is that much better with the steaming step at the end.

1 1/2 cups quinoa (small disk-shaped seeds)
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed if canned
1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups cooked corn (cut from about 2 large ears) [I skipped this]
3/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper [I doubled this]
2 pickled jalapeƱo chilies, seeded and minced (wear rubber gloves) [I didn't have this but I'm sure it would have been better if I had]
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
[I topped with feta right before serving]

For dressing
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
1/3 cup olive oil

In a bowl, wash quinoa in at least 5 changes cold water, rubbing grains and letting them settle before pouring off most of water, until water runs clear and drain in a large fine sieve.

In a saucepan of salted boiling water cook quinoa 10 minutes. Drain quinoa in sieve and rinse under cold water. Set sieve over a saucepan of boiling water (quinoa should not touch water) and steam quinoa, covered with a kitchen towel and lid, until fluffy and dry, about
10 minutes (check water level in kettle occasionally, adding water if necessary).

While quinoa is cooking, in a small bowl toss beans with vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and cool. Add beans, corn, bell pepper, jalapeƱos, and coriander and toss well.

Make dressing:
In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, salt, and cumin and add oil in a stream, whisking.

Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well with salt and pepper to taste. Salad may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring salad to room temperature before serving. [And put feta on it -- I highly recommend that step.]

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ham and cheese mini frittatas

I'm cooking! Every night! Just like before I go on vacation and then fall into the stupor of having other people (my dad) cook for me, and then come home with no motivation to cook.
Alright, so I set out with this plan before I departed for Angie's wedding/trip to see my parents in Florida -- to cook my way through my cookbooks, and also the cooking magazines I've been saving forever. Plus, to actually make the recipes I see on food blogs that look good.
No more eating spaghetti once a week for us...erm...I mean, no more eating spaghetti quite as much. Because I really love pasta.

I started yesterday with the spinach recipe from the crockpot site, which I just find fascinating -- I'm not sure I could use my crockpot every day. Today I moved on to Rachel Ray. I have to say that I often end up adapting RR recipes -- usually to take out some of the fat -- and I'm always skeptical as to whether the recipe will actually take 30 minutes. This one actually took much less time.
We had this tonight with sticky fries (my mom's version of home fries) and a green salad. I bet it'd be good for brunch, or as finger foods for a party.

from Rachel Ray 30-Minute Get Real Meals (it's the low-carb cookbook. i'm watching my girlish figure, you know)

3 Tbsp. melted butter (I substituted canola spray)
1/4 lb. deli-sliced Swiss cheese, finely chopped
1/4 lb. ham steak or Canadian bacon, finely chopped (I just used deli meat)
A splash of milk or half-and-half
3 Tbsp. snipped or chopped fresh chives
salt and pepper
a few drops of hot sauce (I omitted -- young palates -- but I bet it'd be good)
8 large eggs, well beaten.

Preheat oven to 375.
Brush a 12-cup muffin tin liberally with the butter. (or just use the cooking spray) Divide the cheese and ham evenly among the muffin cups. Add the milk, chives, salt and pepper, and hot sauce to the eggs and fill the cups evenly with the egg mixture. Bake the fritattas until golden and puffy, 10 to 12 minutes. (ours took 15 minutes) Remove to a plate with a small spatula and serve.

Alternative fillings: broccoli and cheddar cheese; cooked bacon and shredded Gouda and sauteed mushrooms.

Indian Spinach and Tofu

Gwen moved away, and now it's harder to find an excuse to go to my favorite Indian buffet, even though it's next to a really good Indian market.
Usually I don't even think about it, but yesterday I was craving palak paneer. I didn't have any paneer, but I did have some tofu. This recipe was perfect.

Adapted from a recipe here.

2 boxes of frozen spinach, drained (I used one chopped, and one whole leaf)
1 lb of extra firm tofu
1 yellow onion, diced
3 smashed and chopped garlic cloves
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
2 inches of ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 tsp kosher salt (and then more later to taste)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry
1 Tbsp. coriander
1/2 tsp chile powder (I omitted, but will add next time, since Gaby didn't want to eat it anyway)
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 cup water

Drain your tofu. Squeeze it in between some paper towels or a clean dish cloth if need-be to get as much of the liquid out as you can.
The original recipes calls for cutting the tofu into 1-inch cubes and toss it with corn starch. Fry in butter until golden brown. I did this, but I feel like it gets sort of soggy in the crockpot. Next time, I won't bother.
Squeeze out all of the moisture from the spinach and dump it into your crockpot. Dice up the onion, and mince the garlic. Add that, too. Drain your garbanzo beans, and pour them in. Add all of the spices.
Stir in 1/2 cup of water.
Add the tofu to the very top of the spinach.
Cover and cook on low for about 4 hours. Serve over white rice, and scoop up with naan or pita.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

slow-roasted tomatoes, with and without couscous

Another garden-honoring recipe. The cherry and grape tomatoes are ripe now, and delicious.

It's worth checking out Smitten Kitchen's slow-roasted tomatoes recipe. She modified it for this couscous with olives and slow-roasted tomatoes recipe (I think only by shortening the cooking time and slightly raising the temperature of the oven). Then I modified it myself by not using Israeli couscous and not making the dressing.

Now that I think about it, all I did was slow-roast tomatoes in the oven, make regular couscous, take the roasted garlic and mash it with some basil and olive oil and spices (could not be bothered making the food processor dirty for this), and throw it over the whole thing. And it was really good, but the only part that's truly notable is the tomatoes, which taste like a completely different food when they're roasted at that temperature.

OK, that wasn't much of a recipe. Let's call it a technique! Yes! Slow-roasting is my new favorite technique.

fried green tomatoes

This recipe is from a Food Network show I've never heard of -- I found it because I have a lot of green tomatoes in the garden and a very large box of panko, and I wanted to use both of them in a way that would honor them properly. :) This recipe disappoint, either... the tomatoes were really crispy and sweet, even though I tried a raw green tomato and it was so sour it was inedible. I guess cooking brings out the sweetness or something, like it does with onions?

6 cups canola oil, for frying [I didn't use anywhere near this much -- we didn't submerge the tomatoes in oil, only coated the bottom of the pan]
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
[we also added some Old Bay, which is J's signature spice]
2 medium green tomatoes
2 cups Japanese bread crumbs (panko)

In a large, deep, heavy pan, heat the oil to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and the milk together. Mix in the salt, black pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper.

Slice the tomatoes into 1/2-inch slices. Dip the tomato slices into the batter, making sure they are coated thoroughly. Cover both sides with bread crumbs. Carefully add to the hot oil and fry in the oil until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Apple Pie with fluted Round Cut Outs

Also for Gwen. And because it feels like fall is just around the corner and stores are already putting our their fall decorations and Martha is talking about Halloween crafts.

Warning: this pie is labor intensive but it is so good that people will still be talking about it a year later.

from one of Martha Stewart's 2007 Thanksgiving shows (one of many)

For the crust:
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup chilled unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
Combine everything except the water in a food processor and whiz for about 30 seconds. Slowly stream in water until dough comes together. Separate into 2 balls, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.

For the filling:
  • 4 pounds Granny Smith apples
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (this really is a must)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling (I used honey)
Rolling out the crust:
  1. On a lightly floured work surface, roll 1 disk of dough to 1/8 inch thick. Fit into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Trim edges flush with rim. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Roll remaining disk of dough to 1/8 inch thick. Using a 1 3/4-inch fluted round cutter, cut out about 70 rounds, rerolling scraps if necessary. Place rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. *I used a small star-shaped cutter because I couldn't find a fluted round one and I think it was all the prettier. Stars are more work than circles, fyi.
For the pie:
  1. Peel and core apples. Thinly slice half the apples, and cut remaining apples into 1-inch pieces. *I just cut them all into small chunks. This pie is already a labor of love and I felt no need to make it more complicated.
  2. Toss together apples, lemon zest and juice, sugars, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Place filling in piecrust, mounding it in the center. Dot with butter. To make egg wash, whisk together egg yolk and cream in a small bowl. Lightly brush edge of piecrust with egg wash.
  3. Arrange dough rounds over filling, working in a spiral from the outside in to the center, overlapping them slightly. Lightly brush top of each round with egg wash as you work to help them adhere to one another.
  4. Once the filling has been covered with rounds, lightly brush entire top of pie with egg wash.
  5. Sprinkle top with sanding sugar. Refrigerate pie for 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with racks in middle and lower positions. Place a foil-lined baking sheet on lower rack to catch any juices. Place pie on middle rack, and bake until crust begins to turn golden brown, about 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, and bake until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling, about 1 hour, 10 minutes more. Tent with foil if crust browns too quickly. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
*Both times I made this pie I used honey instead of sugar b/c my FIL is allergic to sucrose. If you want to make it with honey, taste as you go until you get the right amount of sweetness. You will end up with an enormous-looking pie but it will cook down a bit in the oven. Here's what mine looked like:

Pie Crust

This is at Gwen's request. I told her about the yummy nectarine and plum galette I made recently and then I had to gloat about the wonderful (and fiddly) deep dish apple pie a la Martha Stewart. This recipe can be used for sweet or savory (mmm...onion pie) pies and is very easy to make.

From Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food

1/2 C ice-cold water
2 C AP unbleached flour
1/2 t salt (omit if using salted butter)
12 T cold butter cut into small cubes

Frankly, the easiest thing to do is put all the ingredients except the water into your food processor and whiz them around until it looks sort of like sand. Then stream in the water until the dough just comes together. Otherwise, use whatever method works best but I think the processor ensures a more superior end product. You'll end up with enough dough for two 11" tarts or one 9" double crust pie. Or, you can use half and put the other half in the freezer to use at another time. Either way, once the dough has come together, cut in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour or more. If you're freezing half, wrap that half in plastic wrap and then a layer of foil.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

linguine with herbs

The herbs in my garden go way beyond what you need for a garnish, so this recipe came at the perfect time. A cup of chopped mixed herbs is actually a LOT. It worked well -- I had mostly basil and oregano as the bases, with some mint, parsley and chives thrown in too.

1/4 cup olive oil, or more to taste
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup or more mixed herbs, like parsley, dill, chervil, basil, tarragon, thyme, oregano, marjoram or mint
1 tablespoon butter, optional (I omitted)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound linguine or other long pasta
(I also put grated parmesan on top)

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Combine olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan, and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook gently, just until the garlic begins to color, then remove from the heat. Meanwhile, wash and mince the herbs. Place them in a bowl large enough to hold the pasta. Cut the butter into bits, if you're using it, and add it to the bowl.

2. Salt water, and cook pasta until tender but not mushy. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain pasta and toss with herbs and reserved olive oil-garlic mixture. Add a little more olive oil or some of the pasta water if the mixture seems dry. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan

I'm really pressed for time this week, trying to get packed and ready for our trip and also finish up my huge freelance project. But we were gone for four days, and I didn't really cook last week, so I wanted to cook today.
This Chicken Parmesan is so, so good. It's easy, it smells good and it tastes really good. It's not as pretty as making it in the oven, but you don't even miss the prettiness when you're eating it. All three (four if you count Mikey) devoured it.

Recipe taken from here. My notes in italics.

2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I used 6)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 t Italian Seasoning
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t kosher salt
1 T olive oil (I used canola oil spray)
1 beaten egg
sliced mozzarella cheese
favorite jarred marinara sauce

Spread the 1 T of olive oil into the bottom of your crockpot stoneware insert. Beat the egg with a fork in a separate bowl. Mix the bread crumbs with the seasonings and the parmesan cheese in another separate dish. (I actually used Italian bread crumbs, and to that I added a few pinches of Mediterranean sea salt I had, and didn't use the rest of the seasonings) Dip the chicken into the egg, then into the bread crumb mixture, coating both sides with crumbs, cheese and seasonings. Place the chicken breast pieces in the bottom of the crock. Layer slices of mozzarella cheese on top. Cover with entire jar of marinara sauce. Close lid and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-4. (I cooked on high for about 3 hours) If your chicken is still frozen, it will take longer.
Serve with your favorite pasta.

Ravioli with sauteed zucchini

from Real Simple

1 pound cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen) (Geoff and I used a 20-oz package of fresh stuff)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 small zucchini, sliced into thin half-moons
Kosher salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces)

Cook the ravioli according to the package directions. Drain them and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the zucchini mixture and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan to the ravioli and toss gently to combine. Serve with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Friday, August 01, 2008

herbed summer squash and potato torte

Really simple and perfect from Smitten Kitchen. I halved the recipe and only made one pie and regretted it later when there were not enough leftovers.

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
12 ounces yellow crookneck squash or regular yellow summer squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
6 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans. (Deb note: I had only a 9-inch pan around, so what you see in my pictures is slightly thinner.) Set aside 1/4 cup sliced green onions. Toss remaining green onions, cheese, flour, thyme, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend.

Layer 1/6 of potatoes in concentric circles in bottom of 1 prepared pan, overlapping slightly. Layer 1/4 of squash in concentric circles atop potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture. Repeat with 1/6 of potatoes, then 1/4 of squash and 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture. Top with 1/6 of potatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with 1/6 of cheese mixture and press gently to flatten. Repeat procedure with second cake pan and remaining potatoes, squash, oil, and cheese mixture.

Cover pans with foil. Bake until potatoes are almost tender, about 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until tortes begin to brown and potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes longer. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cool. Cover with foil and chill. Rewarm, covered with foil, in 350°F oven until heated through, about 30 minutes.)

Cut each torte into wedges. Sprinkle wedges with 1/4 cup green onions; serve.

Nutella brownies

I love Nutella. Love, love, love it. I love brownies, too. So there's really just a lot to love here.

from Epicurious

1 1/4 cups hazelnuts (about 6 1/4 ounces)
4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
3 ounces fine-quality milk chocolate (I forgot to buy this, but luckily had a Hershey's bar in the fridge)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 cup Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350° F. and butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan, knocking out excess flour.
Toast and skin hazelnuts (procedure this page). In a food processor pulse hazelnuts until coarsely ground (bits should be about 1/8 inch). (I didn't do this, because mine already were in pieces, and I wanted chunks)
Chop chocolates into small pieces and in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolates with butter and Nutella, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat. (You know, you could also do this in your microwave. I did)
While chocolates are melting, into a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and a pinch salt. Whisk sugar into chocolate mixture until combined well. Add eggs, whisking until mixture is glossy and smooth. Stir in flour mixture and hazelnuts until just combined.
Pour batter into baking pan and bake in middle of oven 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out with moist crumbs adhering to it. Cool brownies completely in pan on a rack and cut into 16 squares. Brownies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container at cool room temperature, 5 days.