Saturday, February 25, 2012

Congo Bars

I've made these quite a few times lately and they come together quickly with the use of one bowl, one spoon and a whisk (optional).  And, most importantly, they are delicious.

Adapted from Cook's Illus. The New Best Recipe.

7.5 oz AP flour
1 t baking powder
1 t kosher salt
1.5 sticks of unsalted butter
10.5 oz brown sugar (I used dark)
2 large eggs
1.5 t vanilla extract
1 C dark chocolate chips*
1 C pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1.5 C unsweetened flaked coconut (better than shredded, I think), lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 350 and line a 13x9 pan with a foil sling and spray with cooking spray; set aside.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, place butter and brown sugar and cook on high for about 2 minutes or until butter is melted and sugar mixture is shiny when stirred.  Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients including chips, nuts and coconut taking care to be gentle and do not overmix.  Turn batter into prepared pan and bake on oven rack set to middle position for 22-25 minutes.  Cool completely before cutting.

*original recipe calls for 1/2 C white chips and 1/2 C semisweet but I had neither and I prefer dark chocolate chips anyway.  Flaked coconut is better than shredded because it is large and coconutty but go for the shredded if you can't find flaked.  Sweetened coconut will make the bars way too sweet, FYI.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Joy the Baker

Is doing a book tour and is coming to SF the first week of March.  I'm planning to go to her book signing on March 4th--anyone want a signed copy?  If so, let me know.  She's so cute that I have to go meet her in person.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Super Tasty Chili without Beans

Adapted from The Clothes Make the Girl.

Delish.  Makes a lot.

2 T olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 bell peppers, chopped
2 Japanese sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 lbs. ground meat (lean beef, pork, turkey, bison--I used 1 lb ground beef and 1 lb cubed stew meat)
2 T chili powder (I used chipotle chili powder)
2-3 T ground cumin
1 T unsweetened cocoa
1 t dried oregano
1 t allspice
1 t salt
2 14.5 oz. can chopped tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
6 oz. tomato paste
14.5 oz. can beef broth
12 oz. beer--something in an ale or lager

In a large dutch oven, combine oil, onions and peppers and saute until soft.  Add garlic immediately followed by the meat.  Saute meat until browned and the ground beef is well crumbled.  Toss in spices and stir to coat contents of pan.  Add tomato paste and tomatoes, broth and beer and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer for 2 hrs.  Seriously, you want to build the flavor here and it's worth the time.  As you get to the last 30 min or so of cooking time add the sweet potatoes.  By the time you've hit 2 hrs total of cooking the potatoes will be done and the chili ready to eat.  Like most stews and soups it's even better the next day but is delicious right off the stove.  I served this with homemade northern style cornbread (that means a bit more flour and some sugar) and a beer.  So good.  

p.s.  Don't skimp on the spices.  You won't taste the cocoa as a chocolatey note but it gives it a little extra depth.  Also, the addition of chocolate does not qualify this recipe as being remotely close to Cincinnati chili.  

My Mom's Baked Oatmeal

This tastes so good. Kids and grown-ups alike love it.
It's my wonderful mom's recipe so it's got the wholesome stamp on it, but knowing my mom and how careful she usually is with salt, fat and sugar it surprised me that this recipe is a little heavy on all three. I've cut back on each and there testing if it's still delicious when it's a little more nutritious. So far, so good.

3 eggs
1 C oil (3/4 C)
2 C milk
1 C brown sugar (3/4 C)
1 1/2 T cinnamon
2 T vanilla
1 1/2 t salt (scant 1 t)
4 t baking powder
5 C uncooked oatmeal (rolled or quick oats both work fine)
(fruit of any kind chopped is an awesome addition, I've tried pears in one batch and bananas in another)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix/Beat together all but oatmeal until completely combined.
Add oatmeal and mix well. Bake in a greased two quart casserole dish.
40-45 min until golden brown.

Easy Broccoli Quiche

from AllRecipes, 4.5 stars.

2 tablespoons butter (less)

1 onion, minced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I just sprinkled a handful, maybe 3/4 cup)
4 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon butter, melted


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2.Over medium-low heat melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onions, garlic and broccoli. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft. Spoon vegetables into crust and sprinkle with cheese.

3.Combine eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in melted butter. Pour egg mixture over vegetables and cheese.

4.Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until center has set. (I don't know what's with my oven, but this took 60 minutes to bake two quiches. Somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes, you will have quiche.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lamb Tagine with Prunes

Adapted from Claudia Roden's The New Book of Middle Eastern Food p. 254.

So, in case it's not obvious, I've switched from an almost entirely vegetarian (except for bacon) diet to one that is high protein.  And I don't mean just eating lots of eggs and Greek Yogurt--I mean meat and lots of it.  Even red meat.  And lamb, which I don't eat a lot of but this recipe sounded so good that I had to try it out.  You can use beef just as easily if that's your preference.  Don't use bone-in meat for this, just cube it and trim it of any excess fat.  Also, I think it's good to have lots of veg with your meat so I added lots more than the recipe called for.  In fact, everything but the onion is an add-on.  And I think it turned out perfectly because the lamb is really rich and the veg just soaks up all that delicious juice.

2 lbs shoulder of lamb (or beef), cubed with excess fat removed
3 T vegetable oil
1 t ground ginger
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t allspice
2 t ground cinnamon (Vietnamese, please)
salt & pepper
a fat pinch of red pepper flakes
1 lg onion, medium dice
1 lg red bell pepper, medium dice
2 zucchini, medium dice
1 large eggplant, medium dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz pitted prunes
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed well
1/2 C toasted slivered almonds

Set broiler to low and line a large baking sheet with foil.  Toss the zucchini and eggplant with a little olive oil, S&P and spread into an even layer on the baking sheet.  Place under broiler, stirring occasionally until veg is done and nicely charred in spots.  You could just cook all this together with the meat but in another section of Claudia's book she talks about the delicious flavor that broiled and lightly charred veg brings to the dish.  I agree.

In the meantime, using a tagine (if you have one) or a brazier or dutch oven, add the oil, spices, onion, garlic, bell pepper and meat and brown meat on all sides.  Add water to cover and simmer gently, covered, for about 1.5 hrs or until the meat is very tender.  Add more water if needed to keep the meat covered.

Add the prunes and cook 30 min until the liquid is reduced to a "thick, unctuous sauce."  Add chick peas and stir until warmed through.  Garnish with slivered almonds and serve with roasted veg and rice or cous cous.  Tastes even better the next day.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Arroz con Pollo

Easy. Delicious. That is all.


•3 Tbsp olive oil
•1 broiler-fryer chicken, about 2 1/2-3 pounds, cut into serving pieces, or 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of chicken thighs or breasts, bone-in, with skin on, rinsed and patted dry
•1/2 cup of flour for dredging
•Freshly ground black pepper

•2 tablespoons olive oil (can use up to 1/4 cup)
•1 medium yellow onion, chopped
•1 garlic clove, minced
•2 cups of medium or long-grain white rice
•3 cups* chicken stock
•1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste or 1 cup of diced fresh or cooked tomatoes, strained
•Pinch of oregano
•1 teaspoon salt

*Check the instructions on the rice package for the proportions of liquid to rice. They can range from 1:1 to 2:1. If your rice calls for 2 cups of water for every cup of rice, then for this recipe, use 4 cups of stock for 2 cups of rice.

1 Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet (a skillet that has a cover) on medium high heat. Put the flour in a wide bowl, mix in a generous sprinkling of salt, pepper, and paprika. Dredge the chicken pieces lightly in the flour mixture and put in the pan to brown. (You can skip the flour dredging part if you want. It just makes a nicer coating for the chicken.) Cook a few minutes on each side, just enough so that the chicken has browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove from pan and set aside.

2 Add the rice to the pan to brown. Add a little more olive oil if necessary. Stir first to coat the rice with the olive oil in the pan. Then don't stir too much or you will prevent it from browning. Let it brown and then stir a little to let more of it brown. Then add the onion and garlic. Cook the onion, garlic and rice mixture, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened, about 4 minutes.

3 Place the chicken pieces, skin-side up, on top of the rice. In a separate bowl, mix together the stock, tomato, salt, and oregano. Pour the stock mixture over the rice and chicken. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cover. Let cook for 20-25 minutes, depending on the type of rice and the instructions on the rice package, until the rice and chicken are done. Fluff the rice with a fork. If you want you can sprinkle with some peas. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.

Originally posted on Simply Recipes

Monday, February 06, 2012

Lemon Cherry Trifle

Idea from Martha Stewart and lemon curd from my very favorite KAF.

So, every year our friends host a Super Bowl party (yes, I watch the game but once again neither of the teams playing were the one I cared about) and usually it is a Top Chef-style party.  Not this year.  This year it was all about smoked meat and delicious sides and desserts and no Top Chef-fing.  I brought 2 desserts: lemon cheesecake (recipe to be posted later) and lemon cherry trifle.  The trifle could not be easier.

1 box lemon cake mix, baked according to pkg directions (yes, I cheated and used a box mix)
2 C whipped cream, beaten to soft peaks and stabilized with a bit of sifted powdered sugar
1 jar Morello cherries from TJ's, drained
1 recipe lemon curd from King Arthur Flour (recipe to follow) or 2 C of your favorite recipe

For the cake, you can either cut it into 1" cubes or do like me and squish it up with your fingers.  This is why I used a box mix--why should I bake from scratch just to destroy it?  Anyway, place half of the cake into the bottom of the trifle bowl and top with half the curd.  Top the curd with half the whipped cream and place half the cherries on top being sure to get some close to the edge as to be visible thru the trifle bowl.  Repeat with remaining ingredients and garnish top with remaining cherries.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for up to 2 hrs before serving.  Delish.

For the curd, KAF just posted a rather timely and awesome microwave version.  Here goes:

1 C freshly-squeezed lemon juice 
1 C sugar
1 stick butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/4 C cream, optional

In an 8 C bowl, place all ingredients except cream and whisk together.  For more lemon flavor add 1 T of grated zest.  For even more lemon flavor, place zest and sugar in a food processor and whiz about until sugar is yellow and the zest has all but disappeared.  My work bowl was dirty so I didn't bother but also I liked how the tiny flecks of zest looked in the curd.  Microwave lemon mixture 1 minute at a time stirring between each 1 minute increment; this may take 4-10 min depending on your microwave.  Cook until curd coats the back of a spoon and begins to mound in the middle of your work bowl.  Add cream if desired and stir one last time then refrigerate until firm.  The cream is unnecessary but was a recommendation from Cooks Illus. and it mellows the curd just a smidge and makes it taste even more delicious.  Will keep in the fridge for 2 wks.  Except that you will use it all for this recipe and then you'll find yourself running your finger around the edge of the bowl to get any remnants because it tastes so darned good.  I love you, KAF.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

buttermilk roast chicken

Smitten Kitchen gets it right again. This is yum, particularly with that baked spinach that I've made three times in like two weeks.

2 cups buttermilk
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 tablespoon table salt [there is much more explanation on her website about what kind of salt, etc.]
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 T paprika, plus extra for sprinkling
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken parts [I used three boneless skinless breasts]
Drizzle of olive oil
Flaked or coarse sea salt, to finish

To make the brine, whisk buttermilk with all ingredients up to the chicken in a bowl. Place chicken parts in a gallon-sized freezer bag [I used a lidded glass bowl] and pour buttermilk brine over them, then swish it around so that all parts are covered.

Refrigerate for at least 2 but preferably 24 and up to 48 hours.

When ready to roast, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking dish with foil. Remove chicken from buttermilk brine and arrange in dish.

Drizzle lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle with additional paprika and sea salt to taste.

Roast for 30 minutes (for legs; approximately 35 to 40 for breasts), until brown and a bit scorched in spots. [The breasts I used were really thick [[I just tried to figure out a way to write that sentence that wasn't disgusting and I couldn't; ah yes]] so it took almost an entire hour, and I never got any scorched spots. Still delicious.]

Serve immediately.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Crêpes au sarrassin

Yesterday was Candlemas, called Chandeleur in French-speaking places. In those French-speaking places, they traditionally eat crepes to celebrate. So we did too. There's more to the holiday, but we just did the crepes and candles this year. Some year we'll make candles. S really wants to. Can you tell we're reading Little House Books?

T ate his filled with turkey and cheese. S had hers drizzled with honey (in honor of the recent feast day of St. Brigid who, according to legend kept bees...and cows). The grown-ups had caramelized onions, chicken, black olives, goat cheese and a sweet onion mustard (I was quite tickled with myself about my use-up-random-leftovers filling invention! score!). 

I wanted a Brittany-style savory crepe but subbed spelt and wheat flours for buckwheat cuz I have those on hand instead. The website it came from is called easyfrenchfood.

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • butter to cook the crepes
Whisk all of the ingredients together to make a smooth batter. Allow the batter to sit in the refrigerator several hours before cooking.
You may need to add more milk at this point. You want the batter to be pourable, but not too liquid.
To cook, heat a non-stick skillet or crepe pan on medium heat until hot. Using a paper towel coat the bottom of the pan with a bit of butter. Pour in a scant 1/4 cup of batter (for about 9 inch crepes) and tilt and turn the pan to spread the batter evenly. Once the top of the crepe is just cooked, use a spatula to gently turn it and cook for 15 more seconds. You may have to adjust your heat to get the crepes just right - they should be lightly browned on both sides.
As you cook each crepe, stack and wrap them in a clean tea towel. This will keep them warm. Or you can rewarm them by wrapping in aluminum foil and warming in the oven.
Makes about 10 crepes.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

taco dip, G**l style

Can't believe this recipe isn't already on here -- I'm going to a not-watching-the-Superbowl party on Sunday, and it will prominently feature DIP, and taco dip is my own heart's one and only true dip. A and A collaborated on the directions:

In a bowl, combine 5 to 8 oz. sour cream and an 8 oz brick of cream cheese, slightly softened. Spread in a glass pie plate.

Drain off the extra liquid from some mild salsa (don't forget this step: draining is important). Spread a 1/4-inch-thick layer on top of the sour cream/cream cheese mixture.

Finely chop a white onion and a green pepper and spread on top of the salsa. (You can also add olives or jalapenos in this step.)

Cover the whole thing with shredded cheddar cheese.

Get tortilla chips and eat it all in your friend's basement.

(Younger A adds: "In theory, you can make all this less bad for you by using low or reduced fat products and using celery instead of tortilla chips to get it to your mouth, but what's the fun in that?")

warning: 'it tastes like hot fruit'

I am sure Joy the Baker would never lead us astray, but I tried her roasted winter citrus last night, and I must have done something wrong, because... no. Just no. Not sure if it was too much of the herbs de provence (that Alissa brought me from France!) or too little salt or oil or sugar or what, but it was really vile and wrong.

"It tastes like hot fruit" is a direct quote from J, and it was not a compliment. (He ate it, of course, because he eats everything, but I don't think he wants to repeat the experience.)

Wine-Poached Pears with Yogurt Sauce

I thought I had posted this already but it looks like I did not.  This is adapted from a Jacques Pepin recipe via Chowhound (I think).

Serves 4-6 depending on how big your pears are and how much room you have left for dessert.

4 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced into eighths
1 bottle fruity red wine (it really needs to be fruity.  I used Apothic Red which runs about $12)
~1/4 to 1/2 C honey depending on how sweet your wine is
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of ground cloves, if desired

1.5 C plain Greek yogurt (I prefer Fage but Chobani is fine)
splash of vanilla or even better, vanilla bean paste
1/2 t cinnamon
2-3 T grade B maple syrup but grade A is fine too

In a deep saucepan, pour wine, honey and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for about 8 minutes.  Add pears and stir occasionally to make sure all the pear slices are poaching properly.  Pears are done when a knife slides easily into the flesh.  Strain out pears and return liquid to the stove top.  Simmer until liquid reduces and becomes a bit syrup-y.  Return pears to liquid if planning to serve shortly.  If not, keep separate.

For yogurt sauce, whisk together ingredients and return to fridge until time to serve. When time to serve, re-warm pears and wine reduction if need be until warm but not necessarily hot.  Serve pear slices topped with yogurt sauce.  Try not to lick the bowl in front of company.  This is a GREAT dessert to make ahead and have waiting to serve when you have company.  It's the perfect finish to a dinner with beef as the main course as it is light and yet substantial.

Roasted Pears & Raisins

This recipe surprised me. It is supremely quick and easy and the pears were perfectly spiced, sweet and delicious. They were so delicious by themselves I didn't even have the urge to use the pears as a topping for ice cream or anything typical of me and the hub loved it too. Score.
It's from an ayurvedic email newsletter called Joyful Belly. (They probably would not have approved of using it as an ice cream topping, so we're in the clear there too.)

1/2 tsp Star Anise
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 c Raisins
2 tbsp Oatmeal
1/2 tsp Cloves
4 pear Pears

Preheat oven to 350. Powder the spices in a coffee grinder or pulverize with a mortar and pestle. Peel and halve the pears, slicing out the core. Place pears in a baking pan. Add 1/4c of water. Sprinkle with spices and raisins. Bake, covered, for one hour or until pears are tender. Uncover, sprinkle rolled oats and, optionally, pecans. Broil for five minutes for a grilled effect.