"Of soup and love, the first is best."
Spanish Proverb

Friday, July 10, 2009

Food Catch Up

When I can blog in a meaningful way, I will tell you about....
Buttermilk Ice Cream
Homemade Veggie Burgers
Cookies and Cream Cake
Buttermilk Pudding Cakes

Easy, Homemade Verde Sauce and Refried Beans
Cafe Rio-style Salad (including sweet pork, creamy tomatillo dressing, cilantro lime rice, etc.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Peanut Sesame Noodles

So easy to make, kids love it, perfect for the warm weather ahead--yahhh!!!
Peanut Sesame Noodles
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Servings: Makes 6 side-dish or 4 vegetarian main-course servings.
For peanut dressing:
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes or a splash of hot sauce
For noodles:
3/4 lb dried soba nooodles (I used whole wheat spaghetti)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips (optional)
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips (optional)
1 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup firm or extra-firm tofu, cubed (optional)
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
Puree dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth, about 2 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl.
Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until tender. Drain in a colander, then rinse well under cold water.
Add pasta, scallions, bell peppers, cucumber and tofu to dressing, tossing to combine. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nigella's Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

Nigella could even get Mark to watch a cooking show. She's definitely got the Domestic Goddess thing down. This is one of my favorite recipes of hers. Enjoy!

Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) soft unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Grease and line the bottom of a 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla and beat in well. Next, fold in the melted and slightly cooled chocolate, blending well but not overbeating. Then gently add the flour, to which you’ve added the baking soda, alternately spoon by spoon, with the boiling water until you have a smooth fairly liquid batter. Pour into the lined loaf pan, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325ºF and cook for another 15 minutes. The cake will still be a bit squidgy inside, so an inserted cake tester or skewer won’t come out completely clean.
Place the loaf pan on a rack, and leave to get completely cold before turning it out.

Delicious on its own or sprinkled with powdered sugar or a drizzling of ganache. Makes 8-10 slices

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Homemade Nearly White Pizza with Arugula

First, you need pizza crust (or pita bread is a nice, quick cheat):
Pizza Dough
3 cups warm water
3 Tbl. yeast
1 Tbl. sugar
3 Tbl. olive oil
2 tsp. salt
about 6 1/2 - 7 cups flour (1/2 white, 1/2 wheat works great)

Dissolve yeast in warm water sprinkled with sugar and let sit and get fluffy, 5 minutes. Add olive oil, salt and flour and knead for about 5 minutes. Rub down a large bowl in olive oil, dump dough and with hands, form into a smooth ball. Let rise, covered with a towel, for about an hour until doubled and ginormous. Punch down and freeze or use.

Nearly White Pizza with Baby Arugula
I work a tennis ball sized ball of pizza dough in my oiled hands into a disc, and then spread it even thinner on a cookie sheet sprinkled lightly with cornmeal. Then, go crazy. I spread pesto as the base, but alfredo or a light tomato sauce would be lovely, followed by small dollups of seasoned ricotta cheese, handfuls of mozzerella cheese, a sprinkling of parmesan and a whirl of tomato sauce. Green onions or fresh basil would've been nice. Throw in a very hot 450* oven for about 10-12 minutes until golden and bubbly. Let sit about 5 minutes before cutting. I tossed baby arugula with olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, and then piled on top and served. So good.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Crispy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am not a cookie person--give me cake, cake, cake!!!--but I married a cookie person. Not only that, but his mother was a fabulous, top-notch cookie baker. Crap. Almost ten years of trying and not quite getting it right, and finally, Marko liked these. So, these will be my/his cookies from now on; that is, when we're not eating cake.

Crispy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour, minus 2 Tbl.
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tbl. vanilla
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups mixed semi-sweet/milk chocolate chips
1 cup toasted pecans, optional but not if you're baking for a Purves

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.
3. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.
4. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time (for giant cookies) or a tablespoon at a time (for smaller cookies) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
5. Bake larger cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, or 10 to 12 minutes for smaller ones (check your cookies before they’re done; depending on your scoop size, your baking time will vary) in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Salmon with Lime Butter Sauce and Sauteed Spinach with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins

My kids will like fish or I'll die trying. This version is simple and tasty. Lime and butter together? Me, me, me. The salmon was to be grilled, but our dog ate the wiring in our BBQ, so I broiled it. Just as well. Enjoy.

Salmon with Lime-Butter Sauce
(adapted from Epicurious)
1 Salmon fillet or 4 Salmon steaks
salt and pepper
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice, about 2 limes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted

zest of one lime
Salt and pepper salmon and broil in oven for 6-8 minutes. (Grilling would be lovely too.) In the meantime, purée garlic with lime juice, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth. With motor running, add melted butter and blend until emulsified, about 30 seconds. Stir in lime zest and spoon over salmon.

Sauteed Spinach with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins
1 1/2 Tbl. olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup golden raisins
3 Tbl. pine nuts, toasted
1 Tbl. apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. butter
5 cups packed baby spinach
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute until softened. Add the raisins and cook until warm, about 1 minute. Add the pine nuts, increase the heat, and add the sherry vinegar. Stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits that cling to the bottom of the pan. Add the butter and melt, then add the spinach and stir or toss with tongs until wilted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Homemade Tortillas

The empty pot at the end of the month often challenges my ability to stretch what little is left in the cupboards and fridge. It so happens that I had leftover sweet pork salad fixings, but no tortillas, and I had promised not to go to the store unless it was absolutely necessary. So, I rolled these babies out myself. Easy and so, so much better than store-bought. Will make again.

Homemade Tortillas
3 cups flour (I used 1 1/2 cups white and 1 1/2 cups whole wheat)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbl. vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups warm water
In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients until combined. Make a well in the middle with your hand and pour in wet ingredients. Mix with a large wooden spoon or your hands until a soft ball forms. Knead 3-5 minutes until smoothish. Cover with a towel and let sit 5-10 minutes. Make small balls in the palm of your hand (smaller for taco size and larger for burrito size) and roll out on a lightly-floured surface with a lightly-floured rolling pin. Bake on a large, greased (Pam or butter) skillet or frying pan, about 3 minutes on each side until slightly golden. Hopefully a helpful image.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cadbury Eggs

It's that time of year again. Seriously, these gooey-centered devils do me in every Spring. And then there's these....have you tried the dark chocolate ones? Oh, the glorious temptation....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pioneer Woman Cooks

This is one of my favorite food blogs: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/.
And this is one of my favorite posts of hers because they're her hand-picked favorites: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/03/salt/. I want to try all of them, including this: Peach Crisp with Warm Maple Cream Sauce

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

Strawberries were .99 cents a pound. What's a person to do? I made Martha Stewart's Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream (http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/strawberry-cupcakes-with-strawberry-buttercream?backto=true), and was not impressed. They were okay, but definitely not worth the sweat on my brow. I've never had much luck with any of Martha's cupcake recipes, so I should've known. Next time, and there definitely will be a next time with strawberries, I will make this:


or simply this:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Indoor Ribs and Roasted Potatoes with Blue Cheese

These are Marko's favorite ribs, indoor or out. They're terrific for a lot of reasons: no need for an outdoor BBQ (however, in the summer, I just throw them on the grill at the end), they go on sale often (super cheap), and you throw them in the oven and virtually walk away to enjoy a few hours later.

Indoor Ribs
1 pkg. Country-style Pork Ribs (boneless or bone-in)
salt and pepper
Your favorite bottled or homemade BBQ sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 400*. Season both sides of ribs with salt and pepper. Place in large baking dish. Bake uncovered for about 10 minutes (at this high heat, it's like searing the meat). Take the ribs out of the oven, cover with aluminum foil (careful, it's hot) and reduce heat to 300*. Bake for another 2 1/2 hours. Remove aluminum foil, drain juices and slather with BBQ sauce. Bake until bubbly and carmelized, about 20 minutes. Serves 4.

The Ultimate BBQ Sauce (courtesy of Tyler Florence)
1 slice bacon (optional)
1 bunch fresh thyme or 2 tsp. dried thyme
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, small dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. cumin
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 Tbl. red or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup mustard
1 tsp. paprika

Heat about 2 Tbl. olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and add bacon, if using, to render its yummy fat. Discard bacon once browned. Add the onion and garlic and cook slowly 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, give the sauce a stir, and turn the heat down to low. Cook slowly for about 20 minutes. If using fresh thyme, fish out stems and discard.

This is one of my favorite side dishes. It ends up on our plates a lot because it's no-nonsense and versatile. If you don't care for blue cheese (what?!), use Parmesan. Enjoy!
Roasted Potatoes with Blue Cheese
2 lbs (4 medium) Idaho or red potatoes, cleaned and sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbl. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. each cumin, paprika and thyme
2-4 oz. Blue Cheese ( I prefer wax-sealed, so it's extra soft and gooey)
Preheat oven to 450*. Place the potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season. Toss with hands until well coated. Bake, uncovered, until tender when pierced with a fork and carmelized, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and crumble 2-4 oz. fresh blue cheese over hot potatoes. Once melted, serve and enjoy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Peppers and Ricotta

This was a pleasant surprise. If only all my kitchen experiments turned out as well.... It's super quick and easy, and wait until the ricotta starts melting over the hot pasta. Perfectly yummy.

1 pkg. Potato Gnocchi (I prefer Target's Archer Farm's brand)
3 bell peppers, red, orange and yellow, large dice
1/2 purple onion, chopped
2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
3-4 Tbl. olive oil
salt and pepper
15 oz. container Part-skim Ricotta cheese
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Preheat oven to 400*. On a parchment lined baking sheet, toss peppers, onion, herbs, salt and pepper with olive oil to coat. Cook until carmelized, about 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare gnocchi according to package directions. With a large slotted spoon, directly transfer hot, cooked gnocchi to baking sheet with peppers. Toss together. Serve with freshly grated parmesan and a generous dollop of ricotta cheese. Enjoy!