Monday, March 30, 2009

Family favorite meatloaf

From a cookbook my friend Tara in Vancouver sent me called "The Best of the Best and more"

1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped (I minced mine, because then Gaby doesn't notice it)
1/2 c. milk
1 egg, beaten
8 crushed soda crackers (I used about 1/4 c. plain bread crumbs)
salt and pepper to taste

1/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. water
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 c. brown sugar

Combine ground beef, onion, milk, egg, crackers (or bread crumbs), salt and pepper and mix well. Place in a large loaf pan and make a groove down the center of the loaf. In a bowl, combine ketchup, water, mustard, and brown sugar. Pour over meat and bake at 350 for 1 hour; drain.

Guinness Beef Stew

From: Simply Recipes

We thought the beer and wine gave this a really great flavor, different from the standard beef stews I usually make. Some of the beef cubes I used were too big, so I had to simmer the meat mixture longer to get the beef tender. You can avoid that by making sure your beef cubes are uniform and bite-sized. Also, I thought 1 Tbsp of thyme was way too much, but I added it anyway, and by the time the whole thing was done, it was actually really good.

1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/4 pounds well-marbled chuck beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces (NOT extra-lean)
6 large garlic cloves, minced
6 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
1 cup of Guinness beer (I used the whole 12 oz bottle)
1 cup of fine red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons butter
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Lightly salt and pepper the beef pieces. Working in batches if necessary, add the beef (do not crowd the pan, or the meat will steam and not brown) and cook, without stirring, until nicely browned on one side, then use tongs to turn the pieces over. Continue to cook in this manner until all sides are browned. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, Guinness, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

2 While the meat and stock is simmering, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside until the beef stew in step one has simmered for one hour.

3 Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Tilt pan and spoon off fat. Transfer stew to serving bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. (Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before serving.)

Serves 4 to 6.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Miso soup

This is a long-promised recipe for Becky. It's hard to make it into a recipe, because I just sort of wing it now.
This involves some very specific Asian ingredients, so get yourself to your local Asian market.

6-9 c. dashi (I use instant dashi, you can make your own using bonito flakes and water)
miso paste (I like the yellow or white miso, because I think it's milder. You can use red if you like)
rehydrated Wakame seaweed (just steep it in warm water for a few minutes)
extra-firm tofu, drained and cubed

Get the dashi almost boiling in a pot, then begin to slowly whisk in miso. I start with 2 Tbsp., then taste and add more as needed. I don't like my soup quite as salty as most sushi restaurants make it, but the beauty of making your own is you can make it as salty as you like.
Once you've got the stock and miso combined, add the Wakame and tofu, and heat through.
Sometimes I add mushrooms, noodles, bean sprouts or shrimp to the soup. Mostly we eat it with just tofu and seaweed.

Spicy Asian noodle salad

Adapted from a recipe I saw here

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil, divided
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 can water chestnuts, drained
1 bag fresh snow peas
1 can bean sprouts (or fresh), drained
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons garlic chili paste (more or less, to taste)
1 (6.75-ounce) package thin rice sticks (rice-flour noodles)

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic to pan; cook 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Add vegetables, and cook through. Place in a large bowl. Stir in remaining 1 teaspoon oil, and everything except the rice noodles.
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain. Cut noodles into smaller pieces (use scissors). Add noodles to bowl; toss well to coat.

Nut and seed clusters

1 1/2 c. mixed nuts (almonds, pine nuts, chopped pecans, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, walnuts)
1/2 c. sesame seeds
2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed (optional)
1/4 c. honey
2 Tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt (I omitted this because the nuts I used were already salted)

Preheat oven to 350. Spread nuts and seeds on a baking sheet and toast for eight to 10 minutes, shaking often, until pale golden and fragrant. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine honey, water and oil. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in nut mixture. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, for another two minutes. Stir in sugar and salt and cook for another minute.
Spread the mixture in a thick layer on a cookie sheet and allow to cool. Once cooled, break into clusters.

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Courtesy of Nigella Lawson's Feast (which I highly recommend if for no other reason than to look at the beautiful photos of all that delicious food). I made this for Michael's birthday 2 years ago and haven't made it since. Which is terrible because this is so yummy even if you don't like Guinness (like me) . This cake is dark and moist and lovely and you really can't beat it. Especially if you are a half-Irish birthday boy who's entry into this world is the day before St. Patrick's Day.

For the cake
1 C Guinness
1 stick plus 2 T unsalted butter cut into chunks
3/4 C unsweetened cocoa
2 c granulated sugar (or superfine if you have it)
3/4 C sour cream (I used low-fat by Daisy)
2 eggs
1 T vanilla extract
2 C AP flour
2 1/2 t baking soda

For the topping
8 oz Philly cream cheese (again, I used the lower fat version), brought to room temp
1 1/4 C 10X (confectioner) sugar
1/2 C heavy cream (I used regular milk)

Preheat oven to 350 and butter and line a 9" springform pan. I just got my new pans from Baker's Secret so I used those instead (8") but no matter what pan you use, you really need to line the bottom or the cake will be a stinker to remove later. Also, I dusted with cocoa powder after the buttering.

Pour Guinness into a large saucepan and add butter, heating until melted. Whisk in cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream, eggs and vanilla and pour into the beer mixture. Whisk in flour and baking soda.

Pour batter into cake pan(s) and bake for 45 to 60 min (or less) depending on what kind of pan you use. Cake will be moist but a knife or skewer stuck into the center of the cake should come out clean. Allow cake to cool completely before removing from pans.

To make frosting, beat frosting until fluffy. Sift over 10X sugar and beat until smooth and lump-free. Dribble in the cream and beat until combined. I would use a hand mixer to make the frosting because there isn't enough of it to work in a stand mixer. The cream cheese just ends up sticking to the bottom of the bowl where the whisk attachment can't reach it.

Frost cake and serve. Refrigerate leftovers.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Jagerschnitzel with Bacon Mushroom Gravy

I lived in Germany for a year and a half while I was a teen, and although I was sullen, hormonal and a pain in the ass most of the time, I really did love the food. And the culture. And the people.
Okay, so I was really only a pain in the ass to my parents.
In any case, German food sort of feels like comfort food, because I learned to embrace it during a time when I definitely needed some comfort. This doesn't taste entirely like the real thing, but it was close enough.

from Guy Fieri, my notes in parenthesis

1 1/2 pounds pork loin, cut into 6-ounce portions
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons mustard
1 cup crushed unsalted crackers (I used bread crumbs here)
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 pound bacon, diced
1/2 diced yellow onion, approximately 1/2 cup
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
1/4 cup red wine
Olive oil, for frying (I used a mixture of olive oil and vegetable oil)
2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (I omitted this altogether)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Pound pork slices between sheets of plastic wrap to 1/4-inch thickness. (I didn't do this, because I was pressed for time. Instead I just cooked the pork a few minutes longer) In a shallow medium bowl, mix together 3/4 cup flour with salt, pepper, garlic and paprika. In another shallow medium bowl, combine egg, milk and mustard. In another medium shallow bowl, combine cracker and panko crumbs. Dredge pork slices first in flour, then in egg wash, and finally in crumbs. Let set on a baking sheet fitted with a cooling rack for 5 minutes.
In a medium saute pan over medium heat cook the bacon until crispy. Remove from pan to drain on paper towels. In same pan with bacon fat, add onions and saute for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue sauteing for 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup flour. Cook flour to make roux until light brown, about 2 minutes. Add wine and cook for 3 minutes, reducing by 1/3, then add stock. Continue cooking to reduce by 1/3 again. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
Heat 1/4-inch oil in thick saute pan or cast iron skillet to 350 degrees F. Cook pork evenly on both sides, about 5 minutes for the first side, 3 to 4 minutes for the second. Remove to platter when done. Add butter to sauce, stirring until it has melted. (I omitted this step, because I omitted the butter. I did add a little half and half to the gravy, though) To serve, cover pork with sauce. Sprinkle with chopped bacon and fresh parsley to garnish.

Party oyster crackers

I'm compulsively preparing snacks for the next two road trips -- Va Beach this coming weekend, Florida the weekend after that -- because I'd like to keep us out of gas station convenience stores along the way.

This morning I made these. I might have to buy some more oyster crackers if I keep eating them.

1 package oyster crackers (10-12 oz)
1 package ranch dressing mix (the powdered stuff)
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper (Gwen! Another use for the spice)
1/4-1/2 c. vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 250. Mix dressing mix, lemon pepper and vegetable oil in a large bowl. Add oyster crackers and toss to coat well.
Pour onto baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to soak up all the excess vegetable oil. Store in airtight container.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pumpkin Soup

From: Cooking in Cathedral Hill

I know, it's not really pumpkin season, and it's kind of not even really soup season anymore. But I like to make a big pot of soup on the weekends and take it for my lunch all week long. Plus, I had this can of pumpkin sitting in the cabinet that I'd rather not have there until next fall. So, pumpkin soup.

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup onion, chopped
28 ounces vegetable broth (I used homemade chicken stock)
14 ounces canned pumpkin (I had a large can - I think it was 24 oz. It's fine)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup heavy cream (I used milk. It's fine)

Stove top instructions:
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.
Add onion and saute until translucent - about 8 minutes.
Add vegetable broth, pumpkin, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and pepper, stirring to combine.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes.
Stir in cream and heat through, being careful not to let it boil.

Alternate crockpot version (this is how I made it):
Put butter, onions, vegetable broth, pumpkin, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and pepper in a slow cooker (I softened the onion in the skillet first). Stir everything together.
Cook on high for 2-3 hours.
Stir in cream and cook on low until heated through - about 15 minutes.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

skillet Irish soda bread

I'm not Irish by a long shot, although my mom does have a pin with a Jewish star inside a four-leaf clover, but this recipe had three things going for it. One, it's made in skillet (which I always think of as "my birthday skillet from Kelly") -- the quickest way to my heart. Two, someone had given me a piece of Irish soda bread on St. Patrick's Day and it was delicious and I wanted some more. And three, it has buttermilk in it, and "buttermilk" is one of those words like "cream cheese," "curry" and "heaping tablespoon of cinnamon" that always makes me want to try a recipe.

You can never go wrong with Smitten Kitchen, especially when she is improving on some NY Times recipe. This stuff is ridiculously delicious, and I haven't even tried it with the cheddar and apples yet.

Skillet Irish Soda Bread Served With Cheddar and Apples, from the New York Times, 3/14/07

Time: 1 1/2 hours

Butter for greasing pan plus 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups raisins or currants
1 tablespoon caraway seeds

Good aged Cheddar cheese, for serving
Tart apples, cut into slices, for serving.

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch oven-proof skillet and line with parchment or waxed paper. (Deb note: Mine came out a bit taller, as my cast-iron is 8-inches and deep.) (Gwen note: Mine was in a 10-inch skillet and it still puffed up quite a bit.)

2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined. Do not overmix. Stir in the raisins or currants and caraway seeds.

3. Pour batter into skillet. Brush top with remaining butter. Bake until golden and firm to touch, about 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving with cheddar and apples.

Yield: 1 10-inch loaf.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tuna Croquettes

From Alton Brown. My boyfriend.

  • 1 (7-ounce) pouch albacore tuna, drained well and shredded by hand
  • 2 green onions, chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs, divided
  • Olive oil, for sauteing

Place the tuna, onions, mustard, eggs, lemon juice, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs into a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. Divide the mixture into 8 rounds and set aside on a parchment lined half sheet pan. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. Place the remaining bread crumbs into a pie plate. One at a time, coat each round in the panko on all sides.

Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a 12-inch saute pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the croquettes and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack set over a half sheet pan lined with paper towels. Allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

I served this with oven fries, horseradish sauce and a lemon wedge. Definitely some good eats.

Lemon pepper shrimp

Another lemon pepper recipe for Gwen, who is wanting to use the much-ignored spice. :)

1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 Tbsp. butter
2 garlic cloves, minced (or put through the garlic press)
2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice
lemon pepper

Melt the butter in a skillet, and add the garlic to sauté until it starts to turn brown. Add the shrimp, sprinkle liberally with lemon pepper, turn and sprinkle other side liberally with lemon pepper. Add lemon juice.
Cook shrimp until it is pink and cooked through.

Pan-Fried Chickpea Salad


I LOVE chickpeas and will put them in almost any recipe. I'm always on the look out for new ways to eat them and this is a good one. Here is my slightly modified version of the recipe:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup of chopped leeks
1 medium clove of garlic, minced
zest of one lemon
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons Indian-style curry powder (or to taste)
scant 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup of loosely packed fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup red onion or red spring onions, chopped (I used half of one shallot)

Make the yogurt dressing by combining the yogurt, curry powder, and salt in a small bowl. If you need to thin it out a bit, particularly if you are using Greek yogurt, whisk in warm water a tablespoon at a time. Taste, adjust, and set aside. I think it's best to make this first so the curry flavor has enough time to develop. Also, in the comments section someone mentioned putting a dash of cumin in here...I think that would be good, too, but I was too lazy to toast the cumin seed.

Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet and add the chickpeas. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they start getting a bit golden in color (I did this in the oven instead with good results. Preheat to 400 and dump chickpeas on a rimmed baking sheet with the oilve oil and a sprinkle of salt. Cook for about 20 min, shaking the pan occasionally.) Stir in the leeks and cook until the chickpeas are more golden and the leeks have browned a bit as well, roughly 7 - 10 minutes total. At the last minute stir in the garlic and the lemon zest. Remove from heat, and set aside.

When you are ready to serve the salad, toss the chickpea mixture with most of the cilantro and most of the chopped red onion. Add the yogurt dressing and toss again. Serve on a platter sprinkled with the remaining onions and cilantro (I just dumped all of it in at once. Lazy, I know.)

Serves 4 as a side. A very small side, I might add. I served this over some mixed greens that we had laying around but this would be really yummy with some couscous. I served some naan from TJ's on the side. I just can't get enough of that stuff.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Chicken, mushroom and spinach lasagna

This is in the oven right now. I tasted the alfredo sauce and it's good, and you can't go wrong with more Parm, chicken and pasta, in my book. Oh my, the house smells really good.

adapted from Food Network

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 pound button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
7 cups milk
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 pound spinach, stemmed, washed, blanched and roughly chopped
3 cups grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast (or thighs)
Italian seasoning

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often until the mushrooms are browned and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and saute until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, to make a light roux, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, slowly add the milk and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until thickened, 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, pepper, nutmeg, spinach and 1 1/2 cups of the Parmesan and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the bechamel sauce until ready to assemble the lasagna.
Set a large, 12-inch saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Season the chicken with Italian seasoning and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and place in the hot pan. Sear the chicken, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool and set aside. When cool, cut into bite size pieces.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Coat a 9 by 13 by 3-inch casserole with olive oil, and spread about 1/2 cup of the bechamel sauce on the bottom of the dish. Lay 3 sheets of pasta across the bottom of the dish and spread 3/4 cup of the bechamel sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle 1/4 of the chicken over the bechamel sauce, then sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the remaining Parmesan. Lay another 3 sheets of pasta over the chicken. Repeat 2 additional times with the remaining bechamel sauce, chicken, Parmesan, and pasta, ending with a layer of pasta covered with bechamel sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan over the bechamel sauce. Place the casserole on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake, uncovered, until bubbly and well browned, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
Note: You may need slightly less than the entire package of lasagna noodles, depending on the pan used for the casserole. Also, you may be able to fit more than 3 pieces of pasta in each layer, depending. The pasta can be broken into smaller pieces to fill in the gaps.

Baked Lemon-Pepper Salmon


from Epicurious

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup drained capers
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dillweed
1 1 1/4-pound skinless center-cut salmon fillet
1 tablespoon lemon-pepper seasoning
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
Lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place large sheet of foil on baking sheet. Spray foil with vegetable oil spray. Mix shallots, capers and dill in small bowl. Place salmon on foil; sprinkle with lemon-pepper seasoning. Spread shallot mixture over salmon. Dot with butter. Fold up foil edges to enclose salmon; seal.
Bake salmon just until opaque in center, about 28 minutes. Open foil; transfer salmon to platter. Spoon any juices over. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Borlotti Beans in Tomato Sauce with Creamy Parmesan Polenta

From Joy the Baker. A big thank you to Alissa for sharing this site with me!

This was so good that I wanted to dive head first into the pan of polenta.

Borlotti Beans in Tomato Sauce
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 medium fennel bulb trimmed and chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 teaspoons fresh oregano (I used dried and seasoned to taste)

1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

salt & oepper

1 small carrot peeled and shredded

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes or plum tomatoes (I used crushed tomatoes)

3 cups cooked and drained Borlotti beans (I used one can of canellini beans and it seemed like plenty)

For Parmesan Polenta

1 cup polenta

3 cups cold water

2 cups whole milk (I used a can of evaporated skim milk and added enough regular skim milk to make 2 cups)

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used more and I'm glad I did)

In a small, heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions, fennel, garlic, 2 teaspoons oregano and red pepper flakes, plus a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for 10 minutes. Add shredded carrot and saute for 2-3 minutes more. Add tomatoes and stir to break up. Add another pinch of salt.

Reduce heat to super low (a very very low simmer) and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to separate from oil, about 2 hours. I think I cooked mine for a little over an hour.Add the rest of the oregano, plus more salt and pepper to taste. Add beans and stir to combine.

Now make the Polenta

Place 1 cup of dried polenta in a medium sized bowl. Top with one cup cold water. Set aside.

In a medium sized sauce pan bring 2 cups of whole milk and remaining 2 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add salt. Slowly whisk the polenta and water mixture into the boiling milk mixture. Turn flame down to medium low. The time the polenta takes to cook will depend on weather you’re using fine grain or course polenta. Mine took just minutes to thicken. However long it takes, stir occasionally until you’re reached a desired thickness. Turn off flame and add grated parmesan cheese. Stir to incorporate.

This makes enough to serve 4. We ate 2 servings and ate the rest the next day. The polenta carries over fairly well if you add a smidge of milk and stir a lot. So, so good.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gratin Potatoes with Cheddar and Tarragon

From my friend Heidi

Heidi made this for a dinner party several years ago, and I have made it again since then. Heidi uses more cheese than this calls for. I say you can rarely go wrong with more cheese.

3 lbs potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
1 1/2. cups (packed) grated Sharp white cheddar (about 6 oz)
1 Cup whipping cream
1 Cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 400. Butter a 9x13 glass dish. Layer 1/3 potatoes in prepared dish, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with 1/3 of salt and 1/3 of pepper. Sprinkle with 1/3 of tarragon, then with 1/3 of cheese. Repeat layering two more times with remaining potatoes, salt, pepper, tarragon and cheese. Whisk cream and wine in medium bowl to blend. Pour over potatoes. Bake uncovered until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife and top is golden, about one hour. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Hef-k's Lemony Pasta Salad

"Insalata di Pasta Profumata al Limone"

Heather made this for my bridal shower last year - yum! I made it again today because I had a bunch of extra lemons after making lemon bread last weekend. It's in the fridge now allowing the flavors to meld. I want to eat some right now.

1 box pasta shapes, cooked and drained
12 oz (2 cans) tuna, in oil, drained
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 Tbsp minced parsley and basil
juice of 1-2 lemons
1/2 C. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. Chill and allow flavors to mingle before serving.

Friday, March 13, 2009

White chocolate chip banana bread

Yum. I've been craving banana bread. And then Gwen had to be all ridiculous and suggest I make a bunch of recipes and taste test them all. So I am. This one is good. Sort of cakey, very sweet. I think it'd make a good dessert, but it's also good at 11 a.m. sitting here on the couch.

From a site I found called Banana Bread Recipes

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch of salt
3 ripe mashed bananas
2 tablespoon soft butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts or walnuts (I omitted these, Gaby doesn't like nuts in her banana bread)
added -- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan and coat lightly with flour to prevent sticking.
Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl and add the baking soda, sugar and salt.
In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar then add in the mashed bananas and mix well.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the chocolate chips and nuts if you are using them.
Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes and then place on a cooling rack to cool fully.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lemon Cake

From: Ina Garten. Talked about at Smells Like Home.

Todd loves lemon anything, so when we had to host a coffee hour at church this week, I decided to try this recipe. I accidentally left it in the oven about 5 minutes after the 45-min timer went off, and I thought it was slightly over-cooked. Next time I will check it at 45 minutes. It was very lemony, mostly due to the lemon syrup brushed over the top after it comes out of the oven. I added the step of poking holes in the top of the cake before I drizzled the syrup, so the syrup could soak down through the cake. I just used a toothpick, but you could also use a skewer or thin knife blade. The top will later get covered with a glaze, so you won't see the holes. FYI, it only took me 4 large lemons to get 1/3 cup lemon zest. I used a microplane and it took no time at all to accumulate that much zest.

* 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
* 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
* 1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons, or fewer)
* 3 cups flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
* 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:

* 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
* 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean (50 min was a little too long for my cakes).

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; using a toothpick or skewer or thin knife blade, poke holes over the top of the cake; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding

From Paula Deen on the Food Network

One of my colleagues clued me in to this recipe. It's a sugar bomb, definitely, but much better than your standard nilla wafers and vanilla pudding concoction.

A couple of suggestions:

1. Make it several hours to a day in advance, to allow the cookies to soften a little.

2. Balance making it early by the fact that the bananas get brown. They start looking gross about 48 hours after you make it.

3. Given the first two suggestions, make it for a group of people. Unless you feel like being on a sugar rush until you eat the entire 9x13 pan yourself!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New York style cheesecake

Mmmm...cheesecake. Cheesecake is Ernie's favorite thing, so it's what we had for his birthday this year.
I tried a new recipe. This one was easy to put together, and tasted really good. There are still a few slices in the fridge, but I'm being good and letting Ernie eat them.

from Food Network

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 lemon, zested
1 orange, zested
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. In a mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar and mix well. Press onto bottom of springform pan and bake until golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool. When completely cooled, butter the sides of the pan.
Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar, zests and vanilla and beat until light and creamy. Add the flour, then the eggs and yolks 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the sour cream and mix until smooth. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 12 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees F and bake for 1 hour more. Transfer cake to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Refrigerate cake overnight before serving.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Calling all bakers!

Admittedly, this is not a recipe-specific post but I'm looking for bakeware suggestions from the bakers out there. The silicone bakeware I have is beyond awful and I need to replace it. I've heard good things about Baker's Secret and just ordered to 8" cake pans from them to try out. I'd love to hear about what product line(s) work(s) best for you. I'm in the market for a 12 cup muffin tin and a loaf pan as well. Thanks!

Caramelized onion, goat cheese, and spinach quesadillas

I got this recipe from my friend Christine...

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced onion
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
9 oz baby spinach
4 oz semisoft goat cheese
4 8-inch whole wheat tortillas
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over med-high heat
Add onion, sugar, salt, cook stirring occasionally until onion is golden brown
Remove from pan

Add spinach and 1 tbsp water cook 2 minutes or until spinach is just wilted
Remove from skillet and turn off heat

Spread a quarter of the goat cheese on each tortilla then top with tomatoes onion and spinach, fold closed and press lightly
Heat skillet and place two folded quesadillas in it

Cook 2 mins per side or until golden brown and lightly crisp

Comment from Christine: This is a recipe from Fitness magazine so increase cheese it 1 oz per quesadilla seems skimpy :)

Comment from me: I agree with Christine. We used about 5-6 oz of goat cheese for 4 quesadillas, and that seemed like a good amount.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Black Bean and Salsa Soup

from: Annie's Eats

This took about 5 minutes to make and was delicious for lunch today. I just put everything in a pot and used the immersion blender right in the pot. I added a few more spices and a handful of caramelized onions I had sitting in the fridge. Just taste and adjust to your preferences. Below is the original recipe before I doctored it up a bit.

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1.5 c. vegetable broth (I used a small can, which is about 2 cups)
1 c. salsa
1 t. cumin
sour cream, green onion, shredded cheese for garnishing

Combine beans, broth, salsa and cumin in a food processor. Blend until fairly smooth. Heat soup in a saucepan over medium heat until thoroughly heated. Put soup in bowls and garnish as desired.

Monday, March 02, 2009

oven-roasted salmon, asparagus and new potatoes

This is my new favorite way to make fish -- I love that it only uses one dish. From Simply Recipes.

1 pound small new potatoes, scrubbed clean and halved
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 pound medium asparagus, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal, 1-inch long pieces [I have also used brussels sprouts, browning them in the skillet first and then transferring to the oven]
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 strip of lemon zest [I omit]
1 small garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 salmon steaks (10 oz each), cut about 1-inch thick
1 lemon, cut into large wedges

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large, shallow baking dish (10x14 inch) coat the potatoes with olive oil. Arrange the potatoes, cut side down, in the baking dish and roast for 10-12 minutes, until the potatoes begin to brown on the bottom. Turn the potatoes over and roast another 10 minutes until browned on top. Remove the baking dish from the oven.

In a medium bowl, toss the asparagus with the chopped dill, lemon zest, garlic, salt and season with pepper to taste. Add the asparagus mixture to the potatoes and stir to combine.

Push the vegetables to the side of the dish to make room for the salmon steaks. Return the baking dish to the oven and roast the salmon and asparagus for 10-12 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through.