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

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Summer Stone Fruit Cake with Honeyed Yogurt

This cake is simple and rustic, just perfect for summer's gift of fresh-from-the-tree peaches, plums and apricots. Serve for dessert or as a breakfast treat.
Summer Stone Fruit Cake
adapted just slightly from food52
The Ingredients:
3 ripe peaches or plums, or 6 apricots
3/4 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Turbinado Sugar
The How-to:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.
Cut the peaches, plums or apricots into bite sized pieces. Toss with cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Set aside.
Cream together the butter and remaining sugar with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add the egg, buttermilk and extracts, and stir to combine.
Combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add this flour mixture to the butter mixture, mix until smooth (some lumps may remain). Pour into the prepared pan.
Press the peaches into the top of the cake. They can be nicely arranged, but I like to cram as many peaches as possible into the cake. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top.
Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 325 degrees and bake for an additional 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Serve with honeyed yogurt or fresh cream.

Honeyed Yogurt
1 cup Plain Yogurt
1/2 cup honey

Cucumber Tomato Salad

This may just be Mark's last supper request. Maybe it's a Russian thing, nostalgia for meals served in those warm, cramped apartments in the Urals, but if I serve this with crusty bread, sometimes broiled warm in the oven, sometimes not, it makes my man happier than anything.
Cucumber Tomato Salad
The Ingredients:
1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
3-4 vine-ripe Tomatoes or equal to the amount of cucumbers, sliced
1 Shallot, sliced very thin
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1-2 Tbl. Vinegar
1 tsp. dry Dill or 2 Tbl. fresh Dill
Salt and Pepper, to taste
The How-to:
Combine all ingredients ans serve with bread. It's as simple as that.

Fresh Blackberry Muffins with Lemon Glaze

We picked juicy, sun-warmed blackberries until our hands were stained purple and then I made these. Awesome. I doubled it.

Fresh Blackberry Muffins
adapted from Williams-Sonoma

The Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Grated zest of 1⁄2 lemon
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
5 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups fresh blackberries

The How-to:
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Grease 12 standard muffin cups with butter or butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray. In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, lemon zest and salt. Make a well in the center and add the egg, melted butter and buttermilk. Stir just until evenly moistened. The batter will be slightly lumpy. Sprinkle with the blackberries and gently fold in with a large rubber spatula just until evenly distributed, no more than a few strokes. Take care not to break up the fruit. Do not over mix. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each to a bit above the rim of the cup. Bake until the muffins are golden, dry and springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Dip the tops into the glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Lemon Glaze
The Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups Confectioner's Sugar
3/4 cup Heavy Cream, warmed in the microwave, but not boiling
juice of one lemon
The How-to:
Whisk all ingredients together until there are no lumps. Use while warm.

Perfect Meatballs with Asian BBQ Sauce

I've tinkered with this meatball recipe a lot and tried a variety of binders--bread, oats, Italian breadcrumbs--and this is my very favorite. I like to make a double batch, and freeze half of the browned meatballs, without sauce, in the freezer to pull out for a quick spaghetti and meatball dinner, or meatball subs.
Perfect Meatballs
The Ingredients:
1-½ pounds Ground Beef
2 cups Panko Breadcrumbs
1 cup Milk
1/2 onion, grated
1-2 Garlic Cloves, minced
a handful of Fresh Parsely, if I have it around, chopped finely
Plenty of salt and pepper
The How-to:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs and milk and let sit until absorbed. Add remaining ingredients. Roll into medium-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet.Brown meatballs in 1-2 Tbl. olive oil until just brown. Place into a baking dish.Combine all sauce ingredients in the same pan as you browned the meatballs in. Stir up any caramelized bits at the bottom and cook until warm. Pour over meatballs and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. I like to serve them with brown rice and green beans.
Asian BBQ Sauce
1 cup Ketchup
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Tbl. Honey
3 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1/2 Onion, diced
1 pinch Red Pepper Flakes, 2-3 if you feel like heat
1 1/2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1-2 inch piece Fresh Ginger Root, peeled and grated

Sweet Corn Cornbread

Everyone has to have a good cornbread recipe and this is mine. It's moist and has big corn taste. It's loosely adapted from Cook's Illustrated; I just added more corn and more sweetness.
Sweet Corn Cornbread
The Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
1 cup Yellow Cornmeal
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
3/4 tsp. Salt
1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar
1 cup Frozen Corn Kernels, thawed
1 cup Buttermilk
2 large Eggs
8 Tbl. Unsalted Butter, melted and slightly cooled
The How-to:
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 8-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Melt butter in microwave; set aside to cool. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl until combined; set aside.
2. In food processor or blender, process brown sugar, thawed corn kernels, and buttermilk until combined, about 5 seconds. Add eggs and process until well combined, about 5 seconds more.
3. Make a well in center of dry ingredients; pour wet ingredients into well. Fold ingredients together gently until barely combined; add butter and continue folding until just moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth surface with spatula. Bake until golden, about 25-35 minutes.
Quick Honey Butter
Melt 8 Tbl. or one stick butter. Add 1/2 cup honey and whip like crazy until incorporated. Let cool until desired consistency.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Calcutta Grilled Chicken

This is one of my Mom's recipes, changed just a little bit. It's my favorite chicken marinade hands down. Maybe it's the butter?
Calcutta Chicken
2-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 stick butter, melted
4 tsp. ground coriander
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 Tbl. soy sauce
zest and juice of one lemon
1 Tbl. brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

The How-to:
Combine all ingredients in bowl or zip lock bag. Add chicken and mix thoroughly. Cover and marinate in fridge for 6-7 hours or overnight. Grill or broil.

Tortellini Salad with Cranberries and Arugula

This is so much better than your average Tortellini Salad. The arugula and cranberries make the tortellini shine. It's definitely one I will make again and again.

Tortellini Salad with Cranberries and Arugula

1 package cheese tortellini, cooked according to directions
1 plastic shell baby arugula or tender greens, 2-3 large handfuls
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted in a dry pan
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, shaved Parmesan or feta cheese

The How-to:
Toss all ingredients with Shallot Vinaigrette or your favorite salad dressing. Poppy Seed would be yummy too. Serve immediately.

Shallot Vinaigrette
1 small shallot, minced
2 Tbl. vinegar (I use Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 Tbl. Honey
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Walnut Oil or extra virgin olive oil

The How-to:
I prefer combining all ingredients in a jar and shaking like crazy.

Chocolate Mousse Pie

This is a gorgeous pie. This is also a very rich, coats-the-back-of-your-throat pie. Dark chocolate lovers unite!
Dark Chocolate Mousse Pie
oringinally from Epicurious
For Crust:
21 chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreos)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
For Mousse:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
3 3/4 cups chilled whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar

The How-to:
For Crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Finely grind cookies in processor. Add butter and process until mixture is evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides of prepared pan to form thin crust. Bake crust 5 minutes. Transfer crust to rack and cool completely.
For Mousse:Combine chocolate, vanilla and salt in processor. Bring 1 cup cream to boil in heavy small saucepan. With processor running, gradually pour hot cream through feed tube and process until chocolate is melted and smooth. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Beat 2 cups cream and sugar in large bowl to stiff peaks. Fold into chocolate mixture. Pour mousse into prepared crust. Chill until set, about 6 hours. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead.)
Beat remaining 3/4 cup cream in medium bowl to firm peaks. Transfer to pastry bag fitted with medium star tip. Pipe rosettes of cream around edge of cake. Garnish with chocolate chips, or if you're feeling fancy, chocolate shavings.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Red Velvet Cake

This is the cake Bobby Flay used in the Red Velvet Throwdown. I don't remember if he won or not, but it is fabulous. I love that it uses both butter and oil, making it rich and moist, and it's less red and more chocolaty than most Red Velvets. I was skeptical about not using the traditional cream cheese frosting, but this unique buttercream frosting is divine. It's a winner, and no matter that it has more than a pound of butter in it. Just take a bite and look the other way.
Red Velvet Cake
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking
1/2 teaspoon
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups vegetable oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure
vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
The How-to:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 2 (9-inch) cake pans and line each pan with a round of parchment paper.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl
Cream the butter, sugar and oil in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beat until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla, vinegar and food coloring.
Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches alternating with the buttermilk, mixing well after each addition. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool on a baking rack for 15 minutes before removing the cake from the pans. Let cool completely before frosting. Slice each cake into 2 layers and frost.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk

1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
The How-to:
Combine the cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove the vanilla bean and discard. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened to a paste, about 2 minutes. Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until the mixture is very fluffy and the sugar is totally dissolved, about 6 minutes. Add the cold paste, a few tablespoons at a time to the butter mixture and whip until light and fluffy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Marscapone Ice Cream

Marscapone is an Italian cheese, a lot like cream cheese. I still prefer Buttermilk Ice Cream, but Mark loved this. It's super rich and elegant.
Marscapone Ice Cream
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 8-oz container mascarpone
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

The How-to:
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until fluffy and lighter in color. Set aside. Combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan and just bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
While beating the egg yolk mixture, pour in a small spoonful of the hot milk mixture and continue to beat. Repeat process with a larger spoonful, while beating, then repeat. Next, scoop all the egg yolk mixture into the hot milk mixture. Return heat to medium-low. Cook about 8-10 minutes longer, stirring frequently with a spatula to scrape all corners of the bottom of the pot. Do not let boil. The custard should be just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, but have no lumps.
Whisk in the mascarpone and vanilla until smooth in texture. Chill the custard 4 hours or overnight. Follow your ice cream maker’s instructions to churn into ice cream. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for 2 hours.

Marscapone Ice Cream served over roasted peaches in a white wine honey sauce.

Lettuce Wraps or Lettuce Wrap Salad

I had some leftover dressing from the Asian Noodle Salad, so I tried it in this recipe and it worked beautifully. So may I suggest you double the dressing recipe when you make the noodles one week, and use it for these the following week. Two birds with one stone and so yummy. Also, I prefer to eat this salad style because I just couldn't manage to keep the filling inside the lettuce leaf anyway.
Lettuce Wraps or Lettuce Wrap Salad

1 Tbl. Olive Oil
1 lb. Ground Turkey
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 cup Carrots, grated or pre-packaged matchstick
1 can Water Chestnuts, drained and chopped
3-4 stems Green Onion, chopped
1 head Romaine Lettuce, cleaned

Asian Sauce (as used for the Asian Noodle Salad)
Combine in a blender until smooth:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbl. creamy peanut butter
3 Tbl. rice vinegar
2 Tbl. sesame oil
1 tsp. ginger, freshly grated or minced*

The How-to: In a saute pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil and once hot, add ground turkey and cook until browned well. Add peppers, carrots and water chestnuts. Cook for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add sauce and cook until everything begins to caramelize, 3-4 additional minutes. Take off of heat and garnish with green onions. Serve over chopped lettuce or inside and rolled up in a lettuce leaf like a burrito.

Drowned Eggs or Uova in Brodetto or Eggs in Tomato Sauce

One of the greatest discoveries of my adulthood is the runny egg, over toast, in a sandwich, whatever which way, it's amazing. Well, this dish showcases the runny egg, and even better, it is easy and quick to prepare, and you probably have everything in your cupboard. So, what are you waiting for? For extra speedy, warm up a jar of my favorite Archer Farm's Pomodora Sauce and proceed with the egg cracking from there.
Drowned Eggs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 shallots or 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 16-oz can tomatoes and their juice, crushed by hand
3 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
8 large eggs
The How-to:
In a 10 to 12-inch saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot or onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and allow it to evaporate completely.
Add the tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. rd.
Add the basil to the sauce and stir in. Gently break the eggs into the sauce, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve immediately with crusty bread, a shaving of Parmesan and if you have them, fresh tomatoes and more basil.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Homemade Frozen Burritos and Cilantro-Lime Rice

These are healthy, easy, meat-free, grab-n-go deliciousness. Throw in your husband's briefcase, bring them to your child's soccer game, or pour some enchilada sauce and cheese over them, bake in the oven until bubbly, and you have dinner.
Homemade Frozen Burritos with Rice and Beans
makes 10
10 whole wheat Tortillas, burrito size
8 oz. tub Sour Cream
2 Tbl. Olive Oil
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 - 1 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 can Black Beans, drained
1 recipe Cilantro-Lime Rice (recipe follows)
The How-to:
1. Make rice according to instructions. Set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers and jalapeno, and saute until al dente, just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add beans and stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
3. Warm tortillas, covered in a wet paper towel until warm and pliable, about 1 minute. Or, do it my way, set over a boiling pot of water and a baking wrack, about 30 seconds until pliable.
4. To assemble burritos, apply a small spoonful of sour cream on the surface of the tortilla, about 1 1/2 Tbl. Spoon a large spoonful of rice, followed by the pepper mixture. Fold tightly into a burrito, sides in and then roll. Wrap in aluminum foil and freeze to use later or refrigerate for the immediate future.
Cilantro Lime Brown Rice
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
2 Tbl. olive oil or canola oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 cups cilantro
1 lime, zest and juice
2 cups water
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 teaspoon salt

The How-to:
In a heavy sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat and, when it shimmers, add the onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
Add another 1/2 Tablespoon of oil and let it heat thoroughly. Then add the rice and salt and stir to coat. Cook until the rice becomes opaque, about 3-4 minutes.
Pour the water into the sauce pan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to low so rice is at a simmer. Cover and cook until rice is tender and all the water is absorbed, about 45-55 minutes, or however long indicated on the package. Combine cilantro, garlic and lime zest and lime juice in blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside. When rice is ready, turn off the heat and let rest covered for 5 minutes.
Add cilantro-lime mixture and fold together. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Hummus Pita Sandwich

The only thing that is mandatory in this pita sandwich is the hummus; it is a hummus pita sandwich after all. (Recipe for hummus follows.) So after spooning a generous amount of hummus in the bottom of your pita, fill with any of the following: bell peppers, matchstick carrots, cucumber, spinach, lettuce, tomato. And there, my friends, is a healthy, easy lunch. Use leftover hummus to dip raw veggies or crackers in for a snack.
Perfect Hummus
adapted from David Lebovitz's Cabbagetown Hummus
2-3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped (depending on how much you like your garlic)
1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 cans canned chickpeas, drained
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
1/8 teaspoon chile powder or a few dashes of hot sauce, optional
1/2 cup (or more) water or reserved chickpea liquid
The How-to:
1. In a blender or food processor, whiz together the garlic, salt, tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice until the garlic is finely-chopped.
2. Add the chick peas, parsley leaves, chile powder, and the water or chick pea liquid, and pulse until smooth. Stop the machine a couple of times during blending to scrape down the sides to make sure everything gets well-incorporated.
3. Taste, and add more lemon juice or salt if desired, and more liquid until it reaches a thick, but spreadable consistency. You can make it as smooth, or as coarse, as you want.
*Hummus will keep in the refrigerator for up to four days. You can also freeze hummus, well-wrapped, for up to two months.

Butterscotch Sauce

This is Smitten Kitchen's ridiculously easy butterscotch sauce. She was right, it is super easy to prepare, but also spectacularly yummy.

Ridiculously Easy and Yummy Butterscotch Sauce
Yield: About 2/3 to 3/4 cup sauce
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 2 ounces or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark or light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt (or 1/4 teaspoon regular salt), plus more to taste*
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, plus more to taste
The How-to:
Melt butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, cream and salt and whisk until well blended. Bring to a very gentle boil and cook for about five minutes, whisking occasionally.
Remove from heat and add one teaspoon of the vanilla extract, stirring to combine. Tweak it to your taste, maybe more salt, more vanilla, whisking well after each addition.
*The flaky sea salty really does make a difference and I ended up using an entire teaspoon.
Serve cold or warm over ice cream or cake or go right in with a spoon. The sauce will thicken as it cools. It can be refrigerated in an airtight container for at least 2 weeks and reheated in a microwave or small saucepan. The recipe can be doubled, if you want to be naughty like me.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sweet Ginger Zucchini Cake with Lemon-Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

I love friends with gardens, especially when they share. My friend Christie gifted me with two beautiful zucchinis, so it was either something healthy or cake, and presented with the option, I always, always go for cake. Most zucchini cakes call for chocolate, but I didn't want to hide the zucchini, so I tried this trio of flavors and I think it worked. It's an easy, one-bowl cake and perfect for those summer picnics, or breakfast. I love cake for breakfast.
Sweet Ginger Zucchini Cake
2 cups Sugar
1 cup Vegetable Oil
3 whole Eggs
3 tsp. Fresh Ginger Root, peeled and finely grated* (I just pull it out of the freezer and use my micro plane grater)
zest of one Lemon
juice of 1/2 Lemon
2 cups All-purpose Flour
½ teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
2 cups zucchini, grated (about one medium zucchini)
Preparation Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350*. Mix together the sugar, oil, eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest and ginger in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Gently fold together, and then add zucchini and mix well. Pour into a greased sheet cake pan or 9 x 13 Pyrex and bake at 350* until done, 25 minutes for the sheet cake to 35 minutes for the 9x13, depending on the pan you use. Cool completely.

Lemon-Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick Butter, softened
1 8 oz. package Cream Cheese
1 pound Powdered Sugar
juice of 1/2 Lemon
2 tsp. Fresh Ginger Root, finely grated
2-4 Tbl. Milk or Cream
1 cup Pecans, finely chopped, optional (I opted out)
Preparation Instructions:
In large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese. Add sugar, lemon juice, ginger and blend until smooth. Add milk or cream until you reach desired creaminess. Spread on cooled cake.
*If you're a big fan of ginger, by all means, add more ginger. I just wanted a tease of it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Asian Noodle Salad (Take Two)

I know I've previously posted a recipe for Asian Noodle Salad, but this one is a lot better for a lot of reasons. It's easier to prepare and it can sit in the fridge overnight without getting gloopy or stiff. * It's a crowd pleaser. Thanks for the inspiration, Christina.
Asian Noodle Salad
1 lb. Linguine
1 bunch green onions, cut on angle
1 large red pepper, julienned
1 large green peeper, julienned
1 large carrot, peeled, julienned
1-2 Tbl. sesame seeds, toasted (toasting is optional but optimal)

Cook noodles until al dente. Rinse with cold water to shock. To toaste sesame seeds, heat over medium heat in a saute pan 2-4 minutes until they smell nutty.

For the dressing, combine in a blender:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbl. creamy peanut butter
3 Tbl. rice vinegar
2 Tbl. sesame oil
1 tsp. ginger, freshly grated or minced*

Blend until smooth.
Combine dressing with vegetables and noodles and toss until well coated. Garnish with green onions and toasted sesame seeds.
*If preparing the day before, wait and toss noodles and veggies with dressing immediately before serving.
*One of my new favorite tricks and to insure I always have fresh ginger at my disposal: peel a nob of ginger and throw it in a freezer bag in the freezer. Then it's always ready and even easier to grate.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

This is a slightly tweaked version of Smitten Kitchen's Cream Cheese Pound Cake, otherwise known as the very best pound cake I've ever had and the only one I'm going to make for the rest of my life. It's easy to prepare, and boasts that crackly top and moist crumb. It's perfect. Serve with berries and cream, ice cream and chocolate sauce or layer in a trifle.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 package (8 ounces) Philadelphia brand cream cheese, at room temperature

3 1/4 cups sugar

6 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly butter a 10-inch tube pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper. Alternately, you can use a 12-cup bundt pan, and simply butter and flour it.
2. Place the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar, increase the speed to high, and beat until light and airy, at least five minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the vanilla, almond, then the flour and salt all at once. Beat just until incorporated.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and shake lightly to even out the top. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, 1 1/4 hours.
4. Place the pan on a cake rack and cool for 20 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely. Serve at room temperature.

Tuna Melts with Lemon and Capers

This is a 15-minute meal. Beat that, Rachel Who? The lemon and capers make this so fresh, not your Momma's stinky tuna. My girls asked, flabbergasted, "This is fish?!" Enjoy.

Tuna Melts with Lemon and Capers
makes 8 half sandwiches

4 5-oz. cans best quality White Albacore Tuna, drained really well
zest of one lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
3-4 Tbl. capers
1-1 1/2 cups Mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
Crusty French rolls or bread, sliced
2-3 Tomatoes, sliced
8 slices Munster or Swiss cheese

Gently fold together tuna, lemon zest, lemon juice, mayo and capers. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon about 1/4 cup of tuna mixture on each half of roll or sliced bread. Top with sliced tomato and cheese. Place under broiler for about 5 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Monday, July 19, 2010

BLT Pizza

We have pizza night around here about once a week. It's a happy, cheesy night. So, I was making this pizza PW's Potato Bacon Leek Pizza which has been an adult favorite around here, and I had all this leftover bacon. What's a girl to do? I also had a lot of ripe tomatoes on my counter and some lettuce in the fridge. What happened next was nothing short of miraculous: BLT Pizza. I had my doubts, but it ended up being every one's favorite. This will definitely be made again and again and again. And again. Enjoy.

BLT Pizza

Favorite pizza dough for one pie
Olive oil
4-6 slices Thick-Cut Bacon, cooked until nice and brown
Mozzarella, grated
2-3 ripe Tomatoes, sliced
1 head of Romaine, washed, dried and chopped
1/2 cup Mayo
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 450*. Sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal. Form fresh pizza dough on the baking sheet until it's about 1/4 inch thick. Drizzle with olive oil and spread around the crust with your fingers. Cover generously with mozzarella. And then just as generously with bacon. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Layer entire pizza with tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Dress the lettuce with the mayonnaise and serve on top of the pizza.

PW's Potato Bacon Leek Pizza
(and don't' forget the goat cheese; it really does give it that something special)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sausage and Spinach Baked Pasta

This is the only casserole in my cooking repertoire. I make it when I don't want to mess around. It's easy and quick to make, and everyone always likes it, no whining for PBJs two hours later. It's based very loosely on a casserole I grew up eating and loving that my Mom and her Mom called Tyrolean Casserole. It's comfort food to me and mine.
Sausage and Spinach Baked Pasta
1 lb. any Tubular Pasta, I use Archer Farm's Rigatoni
1 jar Archer Farm's Pomadora Sauce, or your favorite jarred pasta sauce
6 links Mild Italian Sausage
1 block Cream Cheese
1 small container Cottage Cheese
4 large handfuls of Fresh Spinach (or 1 small grocery store bag)
Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preparation Instructions:
Brown sausage until nice and carmelized, and add pasta sauce. Stir and turn off heat. Prepare pasta according to package instructions, keeping pasta al dente. Drain but do not rinse. Immediately add pasta back to pot and add cream cheese and cottage cheese. Stir until pasta is creamy and coated thoroughly.
In a medium to large casserole dish, spoon the sausage sauce over the bottom just until it's covered. Add a layer of creamy pasta, followed by two large handfuls of spinach and a good handful or shaving of cheese. Keep layering until you run out of ingredients. I usually end with pasta or sauce, either will work. Bake, covered, in a 350* oven for 35-45 minutes or until bubbly.
(Sometimes I add fresh garlic or basil from my Summer herb garden)

Slab Cookies

I married a cookie person, which is only unfortunate because I'm a cake person and I don't like making cookies, which is why (can you use "which" twice in a sentence?) I'm always looking for a way to make cookies without really making them. This may be just the thing. Thank you, Pioneer Woman. For the step-by-step instructions, straight from the source, go to Pioneer Woman Cooks.
Slab Cookies
or Spreads or the Lazy Man's Chocolate Chip Cookie or CCC Deconstructed
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Butter
1 whole Egg
2 cups Flour
½ teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 cup Chocolate Chips
1 cup toasted Walnuts or Pecans, chopped finely (optional)
Preparation Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together brown sugar and butter. Add egg and mix together. Add flour, salt, and vanilla, and mix together well.Spread dough onto cookie sheet to a thickness of 1/4 to 1/2-inch.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until slightly brown. At this point, pull out of the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top. Return to oven for 1 minute. Remove and spread melted chips over the top. Sprinkle with nuts or MnMs. Cut into squares.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Veggie Burgers

This just may be the only vegetarian meal that gets a standing ovation at our house. I've been tinkering around with this recipe since last summer and I may just have it right now. They are delicious, without the meat hangover afterwards. I promise you won't miss the beef. Promise.
Veggie Burgers
makes 8 large patties
2 cups cooked brown rice (couscous or quinoa also work)
1 cup rolled oats
In a food processor, blend until smooth:
2 15 oz. cans beans (I use a combo of black with lentil or soy)
1/2 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
1 egg yolk, optional but it helps it hold together
2 Tbl. worcestershire sauce
2 Tbl. steak seasoning
1/4 cup BBQ sauce or 1/4 cup ketchup mixed with 2 Tbl. vinegar
Preheat oven to 350*. In a large bowl, combine bean puree with the rice and oats. Divide mixture into 8 portions and with hands, form patties and lay on parchment lined baking sheets. Brush patties with BBQ or ketchup sauce. Bake for 35-45 minutes until somewhat firm to the touch and caramelized on top. Serve on whole wheat buns with your favorite fixings.
One of the great things about this recipe, is its versatility. Use the above recipe as a base and go wild. I've added roasted red peppers, caramelized mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, blue cheese, and green chilies to the beans and it's always perfect. I've also changed up the seasoning (added cumin, for example) and then served the patties with a cucumber yogurt sauce on pita bread. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Buttermilk Ice Cream

I've tried some fabulous homemade ice creams--Dulce de leche, David Lebovitz's chocolate, etc.--but whenever I pull my ice cream maker out of its wintry hold, I'm powerlessly drawn to my recipe for Buttermilk Ice Cream. I'm convinced it's the most incredible frozen homemade confection ever. It's the perfect companion to Summer's berry and fruit desserts: fruit pies, cobblers, and crisps, and it's magnificent with simple sugared berries. Thank you, Smitten Kitchen.

2 cups heavy cream

1 1/4 cup sugar

12 large egg yolks*

2 cups buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla or half a vanilla bean, scraped and simmered with the cream

Pinch of salt

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the heavy cream and one cup of sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.
Remove the cream mixture from the heat and drizzle a small amount into the yolks, slowly, and whisking constantly to keep the eggs from curdling. Do this a few more times to warm up the yolks before pouring the yolk mixture back into the cream, whisking constantly.
Cook over low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture and whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and salt. Cool completely and freeze according manufacturer’s directions.
* I’m going to share with you a little secret: You don’t need to use all of these egg yolks. Oh sure, you can and the results will blow your ice cream-loving mind. However, let’s say you find that you only have six or eight egg yolks on hand, this will also do. The ice cream will be less rich, but still incredibly more rich than anything you can buy at any store.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Rib-eye Steaks ith Whisk Cream Sauce

Rib-eye Steaks with Whiskey Cream Sauce
(stolen and made to my liking from the Pioneer Woman)
5 Tbl. butter
3 Tbl. diced onion
1/4 cup whiskey
1/4 cup beef stock
1/4 cup light cream
2 rib-eye or new york steaks
1. Melt 2 Tbl. of butter in a large skillet (cast iron works great) over medium-high heat. Generously salt and pepper the steaks on both sides, then add to the hot skillet.
2. For medium rare, cook for 2 minutes on each side for a thin steak, or 3-4 minutes on each side for a thick steak. Place the steak on a plate and keep warm.
3. Melt 2 Tbl. butter in same skillet and add the onion and cook until brown, about 4 minutes.
4. Carefully pour in the whiskey, scraping the yummy brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn the burner on medium and pour in the beef stock.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Now, whisk in remaining Tbl. of butter.
7. Allow the mixture to bubble for 30 seconds, then reduce heat to low.
8. Over low heat, pour in the cream.
9. Whisk, adding more cream if the mixture looks too brothy.
10. Allow to simmer on very low heat until you're ready to spoon over the steaks.