Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Baked Kale Chips

In an effort to use up all the CSA veg before we leave for vacation, I had to find quick recipes for lots of greens. Once again, Smitten Kitchen to the rescue!

1 bunch (about 6 ounces) kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry the kale, then remove the stems and tough center ribs. Cut into large pieces, toss with olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle with salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool.


She also recommends turning the kale chips into a flavoring for popcorn (but I haven't tried this yet):

Kale-Dusted Popcorn If you’re making the chips with the intention to grind them up for popcorn, I’d use less oil — perhaps half — so they grind without the “powder” clumping. I ground a handful of my chips (about half) in a mortar and pestle and sprinkled it over popcorn (1/4 cup popcorn kernels I’d cooked in a covered pot with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over medium heat, shaking it about with potholders frequently). I seasoned the popcorn with salt. I liked this snack, but I think Parmesan and Kale-Dusted Popcorn would be even more delicious. Next time!

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette

From: Smitten Kitchen

Let zucchini season begin! I love galettes, but I usually use a store-bought crust. Use the recipe here for a flakier crust, but a store-bought crust will do in a pinch.

Serves 6

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chill again
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water

Filling:
1 large or 2 small zucchinis, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup (about 1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded mozzarella
1 tablespoon slivered basil leaves

Glaze:
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Make dough: Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle bits of butter over dough and using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter-flour mixture. With your fingertips or a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Make filling: Spread the zucchini out over several layers of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let drain for 30 minutes; gently blot the tops of the zucchini dry with paper towels before using. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and the garlic together; set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, and 1 teaspoon of the garlicky olive oil together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare galette: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet (though if you line it with parchment paper, it will be easier to transfer it to a plate later). Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the bottom of the galette dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Shingle the zucchini attractively on top of the ricotta in concentric circles, starting at the outside edge. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of the garlic and olive oil mixture evenly over the zucchini. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Brush crust with egg yolk glaze.

Bake the galette until the cheese is puffed, the zucchini is slightly wilted and the galette is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with basil, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

My daughter asked for a chocolate cake for her third birthday, so I used this delicious recipe from Simply Recipes. I made this exactly as Elise directed and it turned out great.

Ingredients

* 2 1/2 cups regular all-purpose flour, unsifted
* 1/2 cup cocoa
* 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 3/4 cup soft butter
* 2 cups sugar
* 3 eggs
* 2 teaspoons vanilla
* 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
* 2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
* Glaze (directions follow)

Method

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

1 Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.

2 With a mixer, beat together the butter and the sugar until they are smoothly blended. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. With a spoon, stir in the vanilla, orange peel, and zucchini.

3 Alternately stir the dry ingredients and the milk into the zucchini mixture, including the nuts with the last addition.

4 Pour the batter into a greased and flour-dusted 10-inch tube pan or bundt pan. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes (test at 45 minutes!) or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes; turn out on wire rack to cool thoroughly.

5 Drizzle glaze over cake.

Glaze: Mix together 2 cups powdered sugar, 3 Tablespoons milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Cut in thin slices to serve. Makes 10-12 servings.

Chocolate Cream Pie

This is another Karen recipe (meaning it is deLiCious!) Apparently it was the cover recipe for Martha Stewart in Feb 2002. I can't find the recipe on Martha's site, but I did find someone who had posted the recipe elsewhere.

Karen made this for another coworkers going-away party today, and it was the hit of the party. Like everything Karen makes. I swear, it drives me insane that I can't compete with her in the baking department, but I'll happily eat her delicious offerings any day.

1 (12 ounce) box chocolate wafers
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg whites

Directions

Place the chocolate wafers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add melted butter and stir until well combined. Press into the bottom and lower half of the sides of an 8" springform pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Pour the milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and let it soften for 5 minutes. Place the cream and 2 Tbsp of sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the gelatin mixture, stir to combine. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and vanilla, cover and let stand for 3 minutes. Stir until combined well. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into the prepared cookie crust. Return filled crust to refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.

Place the egg whites and remaining 3/4 cup of sugar in the heat proof bowl of an electric mixer and place over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir constantly until the egg whites are warm to the touch and the sugar is completely dissolved, about three minutes. Attach the bowl to the mixer and use the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites on medium until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Raise speed to high and beat until stiff and glossy but not dry, about 1-1/2 minutes.

Remove pie from refrigerator. Using a rubber spatula, drop meringue on top, lifting to create tall peaks. Use a kitchen blowtorch to brown the top of the meringue peaks or place under a broiler, watching carefully as it will brown quickly.

Chill the pie in the refrigerator and serve cold. This pie will keep in the refrigerator for 2 days.

How to Freeze Zucchini

I'm just starting to get zucchini in my farm share, but we got about 5 this week and we're leaving for vacation before I'm going to be able to use it all. I could give it away, but I thought I would see if I could freeze it to use in breads or muffins later.

I searched and found different ways to prep it for freezing, but this way seems like it has the best potential. All of the other methods involved steaming it first, which seems like you would be freezing limp watery shreds that would get even worse with freezing.

This is Julia Child's method for freezing, which is simply shredding, salting, draining and then freezing in 1-cup portions. I can't report back on the final verdict right now but I'll report back after I actually use the frozen product.

Zucchini-Potato Frittata

Adapted From: The Kitchn (originally from Serving Up the Harvest)

1 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
1 tsp Salt
4-5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
1 1/2 pounds waxy potatoes, thinly sliced
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 pound smoked Canadian bacon or ham, diced (I used 2 roasted garlic chicken sausages)
6 eggs (I used a combination of whole eggs and bottled egg whites)
Freshly ground black pepper
(other seasoning to taste - I used a few dashes of Penzey's shallot-pepper mix)
1 cup grated Cheddar (I used fontina)

1. Combine the zucchini and 1 teaspoon salt in a colander and toss well. Set aside to drain for 30 minutes.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat in a large, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or ovenproof nonstick skillet. Add the potatoes and onion, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, flipping and stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are soft, about 20-30 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and continue cooking, tossing occasionally, until the potatoes are are brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon but keep the skillet on the burner.

3. Transfer the zucchini to a clean kitchen towel and pat dry. Add the zucchini and Canadian bacon or sausage to the skillet and sauté over medium-high heat, until the zucchini is just tender, about 4 minutes. Remove the zucchini and Canadian bacon with a slotted spoon. Keep the skillet over the heat.

4. Beat the eggs and pepper (and any other seasonings) to taste in a medium bowl until well blended. Fold in the potatoes, zucchini and Canadian bacon, and cheese.

5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil to the skillet as needed to lightly coat the bottom. Pour in the egg mixture, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook without stirring until the bottom is set, about 10 minutes.

6. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the top is set, 5 to 15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes.

7. Place a serving plate on top of the skillet and carefully invert. The frittata should fall out of the pan. Cut into wedges and serve.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Grandma's Biscuits and Gravy

And by biscuits I don't mean the kind that comes in a can. Not that my mom didn't do that growing up but they don't taste the same. Not bad, just different. And if your grandma is anything like mine, she's been making this "recipe" for like, 60 years and doesn't follow a recipe. She does it by feel. And that, my friends, is why it has taken so long for me to post this. I have watched her many times and taken notes and then gone home and tried it myself and...well, let's just say it took me a while to get it just right. Now that I have I happily share it with you. Admittedly, I did adapt the biscuit recipe slightly but otherwise, this is as close to replicating Grandma's recipe as I'm going to get.

This is not a low-fat dish (duh) and I really only make it about 3 times a year. But it is so good that you'll be thinking about biscuits for the rest of the day.

For the biscuits:

2 C self-rising flour (I happen to keep a sack in the freezer--feel free to make your own)
1.5 T baking powder
a big pinch of salt
1/4 C butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/4 C shortening, cold (yes, shortening--really--trust me on this)
1 C low-fat buttermilk, plus extra on hand if needed
butter for greasing the pan and the tops of the biscuits

For the gravy:

one pkg hot pork sausage (Bob Evans hot is the best for this)
1 can evaporated milk (2% is fine--do not use fat free)
flour
S&P
a smidge of bacon grease (I keep mine in the fridge)

First, preheat the oven to 450 and then get started on your sausage. Open the tube of sausage and put it in a cast iron pan set over medium heat. Break up the sausage into medium chunks while it cooks and when it is brown, delicious and cooked through, remove from pan to a paper towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon. If using Bob Evans sausage, you'll find it to be on the lean side and so you may not have enough grease left over in the pan. This is where you'll need to add a smidge of bacon grease, if you have it, or a bit of oil. If you are using another brand, it may render more than enough grease and you'll have to get rid of some. Either way, you should have 2-3 T of fat in the pan. Turn down heat to somewhere between med-low and medium. Sprinkle over 2-3 T of AP flour and whisk to combine. You are making a roux here so just keep going until the roux is brown and has taken on a nutty smell. Slowly add in the evaporated milk, whisking constantly to avoid roux balls, and then add 1.5 C of water. Return heat to medium and stir frequently. Cook gravy until thickened to desired consistency (some people prefer thin gravy and some not--whatever you like is fine) and add S&P to taste. YOU MUST SALT THE GRAVY. I know, you're thinking that there's plenty of sodium added to the sausage and while that might be true, you must salt the gravy. Stir in sausage and set aside in a warm place. I leave mine in the skillet until ready to serve.

For the biscuits, it is important to remember not to overmix them or they will get tough. I like to use my food processor b/c it makes this as close to foolproof as you can get. In your food processor, add flour, baking powder and salt and pulse a few times to combine and fluff up the ingredients a bit. If you want to do this by hand, you will need to sift your dry ingredients together. Add in the butter and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles nubble-y sand. At this point, pour in a scant cup of the butter milk and pulse to combine. You want this to be a wet dough. You may need to add a bit more buttermilk. Pulse a couple of times and then dump out onto a well-floured surface. Liberally sprinkle with more flour (AP flour is fine at this point) and knead carefully a few times. You don't want to overwork the dough but too little kneading and the biscuits will fall apart as you try to take them from the pan. Pat out into a 3/4"-1" high circle and press out rounds with 2.5" biscuit cutter. Be sure to use a tall cutter b/c you do not want to compress the dough. Also, be sure to push straight down without twisting. Cut out as many biscuits as possible and then carefully knead together scraps, press out dough and cut out more biscuits. Each time you have to knead together scraps you will toughen up the dough so try to do this as little as possible. It may be easier to just cut them out into squares using a large knife or bench scraper. I ended up with 14 biscuits using my cutter.

Melt a bit of butter, about 1-2 T, in the microwave. Liberally grease a heavy-duty baking sheet with some of the butter and place biscuits close together in the middle. If you like all of your biscuits to be GB&D all around, then keep some space between them. Using your fingers, lightly rub the remaining butter on the biscuit tops and then put the pan on the middle rack in the oven. Bake for 15-20 or until GB&D.

Grandma has "asbestos hands" from years of cooking and scrubbing so she would split the biscuits in half for us, pour over some gravy and serve with one or two over easy eggs with perfectly runny yolks. I recommend you do the same. Consume. You'll think you've died and gone to heaven.

Serves about 4 or so but it depends on whether you are serving eggs, too. Leftover biscuits should be stored in an airtight container or zip top bag. Put in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm up and serve with butter and apple butter or strawberry preserves. It's just heaven.

*A few notes, you really want to use pork sausage here. I think I tried it once with turkey sausage but it just does not have the flavor nor does it render enough fat to make good gravy. Admittedly, I am always striving to recreate something that has very strong memories attached to it and I insist on making it the way I've written it out. Feel free to tweak it to suit your needs.

Also, you don't have to buy self-rising flour but since I do make B&G a few times a year and I do occasionally use self-rising flour for other recipes, I keep it on hand and store it in the freezer.

Leftover gravy will keep in the fridge for a few days but you'll want to press a piece of cling wrap onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. It will also thicken up a bit during storage so when I reheat I add a bit of water until it has the desired consistency.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dayton's Famous Pine Club Salad Dressing

Well, close enough anyway. The Pine Club is probably Dayton's most famous restaraunt--not that Dayton is some culinary mecca or anything. This dressing is traditionally served on an iceberg lettuce salad with grated carrot (boring). It's a shame, really, since the dressing is so good but that's why it's better to eat it at home on the salad of your choice. I like it over a green salad with blue cheese, apples/pears and toasted walnuts/pecans, it's good with pasta salad and it's also good on Isaac's broccoli salad. Serves approximately 8.

1 C vegetable/canola oil
3/4 C cider vinegar
1/3 C white sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 scant tsp red pepper flakes

You can mix this one of two ways: either pour it all into a mason jar, put on the lid and shake the heck out of it or do it up with your stick blender. I recommend using the stick blender. Either way it's delicious. Refrigerate leftovers and note that it keeps pretty well. I think I had my last batch for 2-3 months before I finished it off.

White Peaches in Champagne Jello

Also from the Donna Hay supplement from the June issue of Livingetc.

750ml rose champagne or sparkling wine
2 1/2 teaspoons gelatine powder
110g caster sugar
3 white peaches, sliced


Place 2 tablespoons (probably closer to the equivalent of 3 American tablespoons) of the champagne in a bowl, sprinkle over the gelatine and stir well to combine. Place the remaining champagne and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for one minute. Remove from the heat, add the gelatine mixture and stir until dissolved.

The recipe says to place the peaches in a 1.25L jar and pour over the mixture, but whatever dish you usually use for jello would be fine, no doubt. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set. Serves 6.

Courgette (Zucchini) and Ricotta Pasta

In an effort to become a real human being again rather than a stressed out university student and trainee-priest, I have vowed to myself (and Justin) that I will spend the rest of the summer playing with new recipes. I tend to cook the same things over and over again throughout the academic year. Boring. Boring for me to cook. Boring for Justin to eat.

This and a couple of other recipes I'll be posting are from a foody supplement by Donna Hay in this month's Livingetc.

This looks lovely - fresh, seasonal, easy. Because the only thing that needs cooking is the pasta, it's the perfect dish to cook after a busy day.


400g fresh lasagne sheets, sliced (I'm guessing fettuccine will work just as well)
3 courgettes (zucchini)
2 green onions, sliced (lengthwise, and pretty fine)
200g ricotta
sea salt and cracked black pepper
shave parmesan and lemon wedges, to serve
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed

First make garlic oil by placing the oil and garlic in a bowl and whisking to combine. Set aside.

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 10-12 minutes (or according to instructions on package). Drain and return to saucepan. Add the courgettes, green onion, ricotta, salt and pepper and garlic oil and toss to combine. Top with cheese and serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 4.

Calzones with Marinara for Dipping

For Christmas this past year, I gave my husband the book, Lidia's Italian American Kitchen, which is a collection of recipes by beloved restaurateur and PBS TV chef, Lidia Bastianich. I gave him 12 post-its and the promise that I'd make the recipes he marked, one for each month. These calzones were his Father's Day dinner along with stuffed zucchini, which I'll post later. My notes are in italics.

I think filled foods are extremely festive. I love making potstickers, pupusas, samosas, and now these. I make recipes like these only for special occasions -- probably because of the time commitment -- because I think they say "I love you" in their own little pocket of delicious surprises way. I'll post the pupusa and samosa recipes soon too.


Calzones

Makes about 15 4” calzones (at LEAST!)

1 lb fresh ricotta or one 15 oz. container of whole-mild ricotta
Pizza Dough (see below)
2 medium leeks, white and light-green parts only, trimmed and cleaned
3 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the calzones
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb fresh bunch spinach, stems removed, leaves washed and drained or one 10 oz bag of spinach
12 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into ½” cubes (I used 8 oz.)

Line a sieve with a double thickness of cheesecloth or a basket-type coffee filter. Dump the ricotta in and set the sieve over a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to one day. Discard the drained liquid.

Prepare the pizza dough. It isn’t necessary to divide the dough before the second rising. (your favorite - I used my bread machine with the hillbilly housewife recipe)

Slice the leeks crosswise, ½” thick. In a large, deep skillet or braising pan, heat 3 T olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the spinach a large handful at a time, waiting for each handful to wilt (I employed a lid between each handful) before adding the next. Continue cooking until the spinach is completely wilted and all the liquid is evaporated, about 4 minutes. Drain in a colander, pressing lightly to remove excess liquid. Stir the drained ricotta and mozz. together in a bowl until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place one oven rack in the lowest position and the second rack in the upper third of the oven. Center a baking stone, if using, over the lower rack. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If not using a baking stone, sprinkle two large baking sheets generously with coarse cornmeal. (silpat on baking sheets worked for me)

Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about ¼” thick. Cut the dough into 4” circles and reserve the unused dough. Spread 3 T of the cheese mixture in an even layer over half of each circle, leaving a ½” border around the edge. Top the cheese with about 1 T of the spinach and leeks. Brush the edges of the circles with water and fold the uncovered dough over the spinach-cheese filling. Seal the edges by pressing firmly with the tips of a fork’s tines or by plaiting the edges. Poke holes into the top of each calzone several times with a fork. Brush the tops of the calzones with olive oil. Let stand until slightly puffed, about 15 minutes. (Many of mine oozed a bit because I overfilled them, but I just stuffed everything back together once they were out of the oven)

To bake the calzones on a baking stone: Sprinkle a pizza peel or perfectly flat baking sheet generously with cornmeal. Place three or four of the calzones on the prepared peel and slide them onto one side of the stone, leaving some space between them. Repeat with a second round of three or four calzones. Bake the calzones until lightly browned on the underside, about 8 minutes. Transfer the calzones directly to the upper rack and continue baking until deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Start baking a second batch on the stone once you have removed the first.

To bake the calzones on baking sheets: Transfer the calzones to lightly oiled baking sheets. Bake, rotating the pans side to side and shelf to shelf halfway through the cooking until the calzones are golden brown, about 25 minutes (mine took 20ish).

Baked either way, let stand at least 10 minutes before serving. They are also delicious at room temperature.


Marinara Sauce

¼ C extra-virgin olive oil (about 4 T)
8 cloves garlic, peeled (5 or 6)
3 lb ripe fresh plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded or one 35 oz can of peeled Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), seeded and lightly crushed, with their liquid. (28 oz can of Giant brand crushed tomatoes)
Salt
Crushed hot red pepper
10 fresh basil leaves (Mary gave me a basil plant that has teeny leaves, so about 1 T of the little leaves)

Heat the oil in a 2-3 quart, non-reactive saucepan over medium heat.
Whack the garlic with the flat side of a knife, add it to the oil and cook until lightly browned (use your nose so can grab it out of there when it smelled sweet and mellow – before the garlic burns and turns the oil bitter!)
Carefully slide the tomatoes and their liquid into the oil (carefully!).
Bring to a boil and season lightly with salt and crushed red pepper. Lower the heat so the sauce is a t a lively simmer and cook, breaking up the tomatoes with a whisk or spoon, until sauce is chunky and thick, about 20 minutes. Stir in the basil about 5 minutes before the sauce is finished. Taste the sauce and season with salt and red pepper if necessary.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

White Peach Sangria

How is it that we did not have a single recipe for sangria on here? Well, I am going to rectify that right now.

Adapted from Sunset.com.

1 bottle (750 ml) Reisling (I recommend Fetzer--usually about $8)
2 firm white peaches or nectarines
1/2 C peach frozen juice concentrate (I used peach/orange/mango)
1 bottle (750 ml) chilled sparkling white wine, brut-style (I used Cook's--$5)
handful of mint leaves

Mix together reisling, juice concentrate, peaches and mint and chill in fridge for at least 2 hrs prior to serving. When guests arrive, add in bottle of sparkling wine, stir gently and serve immediately over ice. It's crisp and refreshing! Serves approx. 4-6 depending on how big your glasses are and how much ice you use.

*Note: original recipe calls for peach schnapps but I don't keep that on hand and I think the drink was plenty alcoholic and fruity enough without it. If you prefer, add 1/2 C schnapps and omit juice concentrate.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

thoughts?

Edited to add: Better now? A little plainer, but a little easier to read. And maybe we won't get sick of the forks and spoons quite as quickly.

---

Forks and spoons and knives are falling on our heads! What do you think?

The only part I'm not crazy about is the lack of a background on the title. You can put one on, but not a transparent one and not one with rounded corners, so it just looks like a huge ugly white square. Other than that, Mikey likes it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Brown-Butter Gnocchi with Spinach and Pine Nuts

From: Culinary in the Country

Yum! This recipe has been on my menu plan for many weeks now, and always seemed to be the recipe we didn't get to. In fact, it was on my menu plan for tomorrow, but I just found out we're going to a movie and may not have time for a proper dinner, so I bumped it up to tonight so it wouldn't be the menu casualty once again.

And it was really good. I used frozen spinach instead of fresh. The parmesan on top makes all the difference, I think. I used a package of TJ's potato gnocchi. If you see this on my menu plan again soon it will be because it was so tasty and easy to throw together.

1 pound prepared gnocchi
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, minced
10 ounces torn fresh spinach (Or about 5 oz frozen)
salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 ounce (about 1/4 cup) fresh grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot of boiling salted water, add gnocchi and cook according to package directions. Drain well.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in pine nuts and allow to cook, stirring, until butter and nuts are lightly browned. Stir in garlic and cool until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add gnocchi and spinach to pan - cook, stirring, until heated through and the spinach wilts, about 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Serve with Parmesan cheese to serve.

Makes about 3 to 4 servings.

Low-fat cocoa fudge cookies, part II

Because I can't leave well enough alone, I made some changes to Gwen's original post.

I subbed 1 C white whole wheat flour for the AP, increased the 1/3 C yogurt to 1/2 C and added 1/2 t espresso powder.

If baking with whole grains, keep in mind that they absorb more liquid (hence the extra yogurt) but also you want to let the dough/batter sit a while before baking so that the flour can absorb all the liquid. It just makes for a better end product.

I used a #18 cookie scoop and got 30 cookies (well, would have gotten 30 cookies except that I ate about 1.5 cookies worth of dough before baking. Ah, well, chef's treat, right?). I did not flatten mine (remember that these don't really spread unless you smoosh them like a peanut butter cookie) and baked for 9 min. Allow to cool on pan for 5 min before placing on a cooling rack.

Each cookie is 72 kcals with .6 g fiber. And if you use dark or semi-sweet chips then you get all the health benefits of dark chocolate (plus a little serotonin boost).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mango Apple Pecan Poppyseed Muffins




In an effort to reproduce the unusual and delightful muffin found at The Red Canoe, a beloved children's bookstore and cafe, I took a guess at the proportions and was fairly happy with the results. Peter's are of course much better than mine, but it was the combo of ingredients that made me unable to resist trying to make them. They are like a stack of baked fruit with a little batter to bind the sweet bits. Mmmmm...I made them February 4, 2010, right before the snows came and we ate them each morning toasted and buttered while contemplating how lucky we were to be snowed in.

fruits, nuts & seeds
1 mango, hunked into pieces about 1" x 1/4"
3 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, wedged and sliced into 4-6 chunks
2/3 C pecan pieces
2 T poppyseeds

batter
4 T butter, melted
2 C flour
scant 1/4 C sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t vanilla
1 egg
1 C milk

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In two separate bowls, prepare mango hunks and apple chunks and set aside.
- Make the batter by stirring together the ingredients in a bowl.
- Add 1/2 of the batter and 1/2 of the pecans to the mango bowl and the remaining 1/2 of the batter and 1/2 of the pecans to the apple bowl. Mix until fruit and nuts are evenly coated.
- Fill muffin tins so that the mango layer is on the bottom and the apple layer is on top. These muffins will not expand like you'd expect of a muffin, but rather, the fruit will bake and soften while retaining its structure, so don't hesitate to pile the apple layer above the top of each tin by about 1" or so. Proportionally, the measurements worked out to be about 1/2 tin for the mango layer and 2/3 tin for the apple layer).
- Top each muffin with a generous dusting of poppyseeds.
- Bake at 400 for 40 min or so.


Elise's story

If you haven't caught this post at Simply Recipes, you'll enjoy your day that much more after you read it.

Cinnamon ice cream

Oh yum. So good. So, so good.

from Simply Recipes

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 cup of whole milk
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 cups of heavy cream
6 egg yolks

Warm the milk, sugar, salt and cinnamon and 1 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat whisking to incorporate the cinnamon into the liquid.
Place the remaining cup of cream into a bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.
In a separate bowl whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to avoid the eggs scrambling. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon or heat proof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir. When the custard becomes thick until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run.
Pour the custard through the strainer into the cream.
Chill the mixture thoroughly and then place in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Makes about 1 quart.

Caramel sauce

My husband, he loves caramel. And he loves this sauce, which he made in practically no time at all.

from Simply Recipes

1 cup of sugar
6 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream


Heat sugar on moderately high heat in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart or 3-quart saucepan. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. You can swirl the pan a bit if you want, from this point on. Note that this recipe works best if you are using a thick-bottomed pan.
As soon as all of the sugar crystals have melted (the liquid sugar should be dark amber in color), immediately add the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted.
Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat. Count to three, then slowly add the cream to the pan and continue to whisk to incorporate. Note than when you add the butter and the cream, the mixture will foam up considerably.
Whisk until caramel sauce is smooth. Let cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then pour into a glass jar and let sit to cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Warm before serving.

Makes a little over one cup of sauce.

Monday, June 14, 2010

redesign?

Looks like Blogger has added a ton of new design options... anyone up for a makeover? Some of the backgrounds under the "food and drink" category have great photos -- big close-ups of tomatoes, colorful jellybeans, a retro spoon and fork pattern. I'm happy to mess with it a bit if anyone is interested. I like playing around with this stuff a little too much.

zucchini mint pesto

Originally from The Dinner Files, although M. and I adapted quite a bit. I wish I'd had this recipe a year or two ago, when I had more mint in the garden than I knew what to do with, although it's kind of cool that we used some that M. found growing wild in the city. The flavors are actually pretty subtle -- you can taste the mint, for sure, but it doesn't whack you over the head.

2 medium zucchini (we used yellow squash)

10 – 12 sprigs of mint

1 small clove garlic

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup shelled pistachios (we used toasted pine nuts)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino (we used some four-cheese blend of something from the back of the fridge)

(we added a few squeezes of lemon juice too)


Chop zucchini and put in a blender or food processor. Pick leaves off the sprigs of mint and add them to the zucchini, tearing any larger leaves into smaller pieces if you’re so inclined.

Chop the garlic and throw it in along with the oil and salt. Whirl until a more or less smooth paste forms – this will take a minute or two of running the blender, so be a bit patient.

Add the pistachios and cheese and whirl until smooth again, another minute or two. Taste and add more salt to taste, if you like. Use fairly quickly or cover (plastic wrap or waxed paper or parchment paper pressed to the surface). You can keep it at room temperature for a bit while you prepare the rest of the food or chill up to two days.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Substitution Chart

Here is a handy chart from "The Joy of Baking" that tells you what you can substitute if you don't have a certain ingredient on hand:

Substitution Chart

Rhubarb Spiced Yogurt Cake

Ok, so this was almost the second epic cooking fail of the weekend, but I think I salvaged it. I don't usually post my cooking fails here, but this one actually tastes really good, even if it is not the most beautiful creation.

What happened to me: I took the cake out after 60 minutes and the toothpick test told me it was still undercooked in the center. I put it back in for another 15 minutes, and when I took it out again the toothpick came out clean and it was firm to the touch. I let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and when I flipped it out onto a cooling rack, it split open and oozed its liquid center all over the place. Luckily I had the cooling rack over a cutting board, so I just scraped everything into a pie plate and put it back in the oven. In this format it was more spread out - less height meant it cooked more evenly, and then I just broke it up into pieces. I don't know what I would do differently next time - maybe even make it in a pie plate from the beginning. That would probably work better. The problem I think is all the liquid that comes out of the rhubarb as it cooks down. Anyway, it looks a mess but it tastes really good, and because it has no eggs in it, I'm totally fine eating it even a little "wet." It really tastes good. :)

This is the description that came with the recipe: "Once baked in this extra moist cake, the rhubarb is sweet and sour and with the heat of the ginger spice and richness of cinnamon." Right. "Extra moist."


1 cup of self rising flour *
¾ cup of light sugar
1 cup of plain yogurt
1 tbsp of ground ginger
1 tbsp of cinnamon
3 tbsp of honey
2 big stalks of rhubarb chopped into cubes

1. Preheat the oven to 350, line a pan with baking paper or grease and flour
2. Mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon.
3. Add the yogurt & honey to the flour stir until combined.
4. Place half the cake mix into a lined loaf tin add the cubed raw rhubarb. Pour over the rest of the cake mix.
5. Bake for 1-1¼ hours
6. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Take the cake out of the pan and put it in a plastic bag, close the bag and allow it to cool completely. (I obviously did not get to this step, and I do not understand the purpose of this step, so do whatever you want here)

* If you do not have self-rising flour, you can use 1 cup of all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 tsp baking powder plus 1/4 tsp salt.

PW's Restaurant-Style Salsa

From: The Pioneer Woman

This salsa was very easy to make, and would be good for a variety of uses (with tortilla chips, used in recipes, etc). I think I will make this rather than buying jarred salsas in the future. Be warned, though - this makes a LOT of salsa. It might not even fit in your food processor unless you have a large capacity. You might also want to start with 1/2 a jalapeno if you are concerned about the heat - I used a whole jalapeno, and a large one to boot, and thought it was very hot when I first made it, though the heat did mellow somewhat by the second day.


1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
1/4 cups Chopped Onion
1 clove Garlic, Minced
1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin
1/4 teaspoons Sugar
1/4 teaspoons Salt
1/4 teaspoons Ground Cumin
1/2 cups Cilantro (or to taste!)
Juice from 1/2 a lime

Preparation Instructions
Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like—about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.

Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips or cheese nachos.

Classic Hot Fudge Sauce

From: "The Perfect Scoop" by David Lebovitz

3/4 C. heavy cream
1/4 C. packed dark brown sugar
1/4 C. unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 C. light corn syrup
6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp. salted butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix the cream, brown sugar, cocoa powder and corn syrup in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds.

Remove from heat and add the chocolate and butter, stirring until melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla. Serve warm.

Sauce can be store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Rewarm it gently in a microwave or by stirring in a saucepan over very low heat.

Makes 2 cups.

Strawberry Sauce for Ice Cream - Two Ways

For a Sweeter Sauce:
Adapted from: All Recipes

1 pint strawberries, cleaned and stemmed
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cut the strawberries in half. In a saucepan over medium high heat, combine strawberries, sugar and vanilla. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. In a blender, puree about 1/3 of sauce, then mix back into remainder (or use an immersion blender and blend as much as you want to get the consistency you want). Store in refrigerator.


No-Cook Strawberry Sauce:
From: David Lebovitz

1 1/2 lbs. fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Puree strawberries with sugar and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth. Press puree through a strainer to remove seeds. Serve chilled or at room temperature. This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Low-Fat Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

Adapted from KAF Whole Grain Baking and Cooking Light.

I made the full fat/sugar version from KAF for Michael's friends to eat during their "Man Summit" this weekend and decided to tweak it a bit for a less caloric version.

1 3/4 C (about 7 oz) whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 C packed dark brown sugar
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/4 C low-fat buttermilk
1/2 C peanut butter of your choice (I used chunky-style natural pb)
2 large eggs
2 T butter, melted
1 t vanilla extract
Cooking spray
1/4 cup strawberry all-fruit (or jam of your choice)

Preheat oven to 400 and place muffin liners in a muffin tin. Super helpful hint from KAF: spray the muffin liners with cooking spray and your muffins/cupcakes will not stick to the liner. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients including sugar and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients except jam and mix well. Pour wet into dry and fold gently until just combined. Just make sure there are no dry pockets in the bottom of the bowl.

Scoop about 1/3 of batter into each muffin cup. Drop in 1 tsp of jam and evenly distribute remaining batter over jam. Some commenters from CL said that putting the jam too close to the bottom makes it sink to the bottom of the muffin but my experience is that if you put the jam too close to the top, it can leak out all over your muffin tin. Bake for about 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched and/or a toothpick inserted at a 45 degree angle comes out clean. Allow to sit 5 minutes in muffin tin before placing on a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Serves 12. 201 kcals/muffin; 2.3 g dietary fiber; 8.6 g fat (keep in mind that's mostly from the pb which is good fat).

Note: You could cut back on pb to 1/3 C but if you do the pb flavor will be less pronounced (also a commenter issue with the CL recipe).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

SK's Favorite Spinach Quiche

Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen, who adapted from Bon Appetit

I had intended to make a spinach/feta/pine nut tart on phyllo for our house guests last night. But then I forgot to take the phyllo out of the freezer in time, and needed to find an alternative. I made this recipe, and everyone loved it.

You can use a 9-inch round pie dish or removable-bottom 9-inch round tart pan as the base. You can par bake this if you wish, though Smitten generally does not. The original recipe calls for a sheet of puff pastry as the shell but Smitten uses pie dough. I used a premade crust from TJ's.

1 3-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature (I used 4 wedges of original Laughing Cow Swiss cheese because I didn't have any cream cheese)
1/3 cup half and half (or milk)
3 eggs
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup grated gruyere (or cheddar)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
4 to 6 green onions, thinly sliced (1/2 cup finely diced red or white onion or shallots work as well)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425°. Beat cream cheese in medium bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in half and half and eggs. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is set, about 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Hominy, Vegetable and Rice Salad

Adapted from the latest issue of Vegetarian Times (not yet available online). This recipe is so easy and so delicious and is perfect for lunches as you can eat it cold or room temp--ideal for those without microwaves at the office!

1 15 oz. can of hominy (white or yellow), drained and rinsed
1 small bell pepper (or a mix of red, yellow and green), medium dice
1 small red onion, minced
1 1/2 C lima beans or edamame (defrosted if frozen)
1 C prepared brown rice
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/8 C EVOO
1/4 C red wine vinegar
S&P
2 T chopped herbs (I used basil, oregano & garlic chives)
generous 1/4 C reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled (I like TJs better than Athenos)

In a large bowl, mix veg and grains. In a measuring cup, combine EVOO, vinegar, S&P, and herbs. Whisk to combine and pour over salad. Stir to coat veg mixture with dressing and add in feta. For best flavor, allow to sit 30 min before serving.

5 servings, 397 kcals, 8 grams dietary fiber

Farfalle carbonara with spring peas

Ernie made this for dinner earlier this week, and it was fantastic.
We made it with hickory smoked bacon, but I suppose you could use turkey bacon if you so desired. It made enough for all of us to have for dinner, and then leftovers for lunches for both girls.

from Jamie Oliver (the instructions are all his)

1lb farfalle
1 egg
3½ oz heavy cream
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 rashers of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, roughly sliced
3 handfuls of fresh podded or frozen peas
2 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked
2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

First of all, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the farfalle, and cook according to the packet instructions. Whisk the egg in a bowl with the cream, salt and pepper. Put your pancetta or bacon into a second pan and cook until crispy and golden.
When the farfalle is nearly cooked, add the peas for the last minute and a half. This way they will burst in your mouth and be lovely and sweet. When cooked, drain in a colander, saving a little of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the pancetta and stir in most of the mint, finely sliced - if the pan isn't big enough, mix it all together in a large warmed bowl.
Now you need to add the egg and cream mix to the pasta. What's important here is that you add it while the pasta is still hot. This way, the residual heat of the pasta will cook the eggs, but not so that they resemble scrambled eggs, as I've seen in some dodgy old restaurants on the motorway! The pasta will actually cook the egg enough to give you a silky smooth sauce. Toss together and loosen with a little of the reserved cooking water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the Parmesan and the rest of the mint leaves, and serve as soon as possible.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Oven Roasted Radishes

So, roasting saves the day again. I am not a radish lover, and we keep getting radishes in the CSA every week. I can force down a few sliced up in green salads, but beyond that... not so much. So, today I went looking for alternative ways to eat them, and found a bunch of people roasting them. The bitter flavor mellows a bit and they get all brown and flavorful.

No real recipe - just roast as you would any other root vegetable. I cut the tops and bottoms off, halved them, tossed with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and then roasted in the oven at 425 for 15 minutes or so. Or, rather, that's what you should do. I forgot about mine and cooked them a little too long, so mine are a little softer and darker than I'd like, but they're still good. Just keep an eye on yours - the cooking time will depend on how big your pieces are.

Friday, June 04, 2010

White Beans Puttanesca with Spinach

Adapted from epicurious.com

I could have sworn that I posted this last spring when I first made it but apparently not. I love puttancesca and this is a great way to get it on the table quickly and using more veg than if you just made it with pasta. The original recipe calls for anchovy fillets but I don't keep those on hand; I prefer to use a tube of anchovy paste. Before you turn your nose up at it, it's a wonderful staple to have on hand as it melts rights into the dish giving it a wonderful flavor without being at all fishy.

1 1/2 T anchovy paste (found in the canned fish aisle at your local mega mart)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (less for kids or wussy fathers-in-law)
3-ish T extra-virgin olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped (good olives make all the difference here)
2 T drained capers, chopped if you like
1 (19-oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 large bag baby spinach (about 12 oz--I didn't really measure), rinsed and drained well
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

In a large skillet or brazier, heat olive oil, garlic, pepper flakes and anchovy paste over medium heat until anchovies are all melted and garlic and pepper flakes start to smell fragrant. Stir in tomatoes, olives and capers then stir in spinach handfuls at a time allowing time for what's in the pan already to wilt. Turn up heat and add beans and stir until heated through and spinach is wilted and water from spinach and tomatoes has somewhat evaporated. Add basil and stir. Garnish with shaved parmesan with a green salad and crusty bread. Serves about 4.

*A note about the anchovy paste: when you open the tube, be sure to do it over the sink or trash can and point the opening of the tub down into the sink/trash and away from your body. The pressure from inside the tube will force a little bit of the paste to spray out and it gets on everything if you aren't careful.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Steamed Alaskan King Crab Legs

From: Alton Brown

Hey, you can microwave-steam crab legs! Kelly told me about this, and I was totally skeptical and didn't want to ruin my expensive king crab legs. But, she convinced me to try it, and it totally worked. I really did not think microwaving seafood was a good idea - I thought it was going to turn out rubbery. It didn't! I put ours in for 1:45, because our microwave is really powerful and we always have to cut down on times in recipes. They were perfect.

6 Alaskan king crab claws, thawed
2 sprigs dill

Directions

If necessary in order to fit in microwave, cut claws at joints. Wrap 3 claws at a time in a damp paper towel, along with 1 sprig of dill, and then wrap in plastic wrap. Place wrapped claws in microwave 1 package at a time and cook on high for 2 minutes. Remove and unwrap carefully. Serve immediately.