Sunday, August 26, 2012
I pulled out this recipe in mid-May for my then-boyfriend (now-fiance!) on his birthday. I swear, he could eat this every day of the week, and twice on Sunday. I would like to pretend that I waited to post it until tomatoes were in season, but to be perfectly honest, I've just been too caught up in the excitement of getting engaged to worry about blogging. Regardless, I'm posting this at precisely the right time of year for you to try it yourselves :-)
My fiance prefers it straight out of the fridge -- the colder, the better. Personally, I prefer it at room temperature, but it's yummy no matter what. With so much fresh basil, mozzerella, and tomatoes, how can you go wrong, right?
Caprese Pasta Salad with Chicken
(adapted from The Cooking Photographer, who got the idea here and added a vinagrette from here)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemons zest
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed to wet pasta
Blend the lemon zest and juice, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette to taste with more salt and pepper.
Pasta:1 pound pasta (whatever fun shape you like)
As a "welcome back," I present to you a recipe for key lime pie that I baked back in May, but remember like it was yesterday. This was such an incredible pie, the pictures simply do not do it justice. The filling-to-crust ratio is beautifully high, and it is just a tart and creamy as you can imagine. The almonds in the crust, while not overpowering, certainly "take it up a notch," and set this creation apart from any I have made in the past. (I have this vivid memory of using a pre-packaged graham cracker crust for my first key lime pie however many years ago. It's hard to believe that I ever thought such a short-cut was necessary!)
Just remembering this pie is making my mouth water -- and making me slap myself (metaphorically) for not making it again this summer! Of course, summer isn't over yet, so there is still time to whip out another one. Anyone want to come over for pie???
Key Lime Pie with an "Almond-Spiked" Crust
(from Gourmet via Epicurious; adapted from Town Hall Restaurant in San Francisco)
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Trader Joe's sells a Sicilian chicken sausage that in the words of Mary Poppins, is practically perfect in every way. I try to keep some in the freezer at all times for a quick weeknight meal. My go-to preparation is to sautee it with some onions and red peppers, mix in a jar of spaghetti sauce, doctor it with whatever herbs I'm in the mood for, and voila' -- dinner!
Every once in awhile, however, I get bored with that old standby, and decide to branch out. Enter my good friend, the Epicurious app. A quick search yielded this 4-fork, blue-ribbon recipe, which I can now add to the weeknight rotation. It's simple. It uses ingredients I tend to have on hand. And it's absolutely delicious.
For my first attempt, I made as written, heavy cream and all. Next time, I'll try lightening it up with some haf-and-half. I have a feeling it will be just as good.
Rigatoni with Chicken Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cream
(adapted slightly from Epicurous)
Well, never say never. One day, the stars aligned. I had a box of graham crackers and half a bag of marshmallows in the pantry, and I was jonesing to bake something I had not tried before. Suddenly, this recipe popped into my head, and like an "earworm," I simply could not get it out. I did not have any Hershey's bars, but I figured dark chocolate Ghiradelli bars would make a fine substitute. I was absolutely right.
I don't think words can truly express how happy these cookies made me. Seriously. I was giddy. I couldn't wait to share them, and I had an absolute ball watching faces light up as they gazed upon these (non-sticky!) bites of nostalgic marshmallowy goodness. And the taste! My favorite part is the graham cracker crumbs mixed right into the batter. It's such a subtle, but delicious addition -- one that I just might use again and again.
I simply don't think it's possible not to have fun with these cookies. Just. Not. Possible.
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup mini marshmallows (I used slightly more than a cup)
- 2 chocolate bars, chopped up (Hershey's are recommended, but I used Ghiradelli and LOVED it)
In a stand mixer, ccombine the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla until combined. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, graham crackers, salt, and baking soda, and then gradually add to the butter-sugar mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop by the rounded tablesppon onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven. Push 3-4 marshmallows and a few pieces of chocolate bar into each cookie. Return to oven and bake for an additional 3-4 minutes until fully cooked. Cool cookies on a wire rack.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
I'd actually had this recipe bookmarked for some time, just waiting for the perfect time to whip it out. It was every bit as fun and delicious as I'd hoped. I doubled the recipe just to make sure I had enough, and I am so thrilled that I did. Usually, when there are leftovers at the end of a potluck, I leave them for the host. In this case, however, I unapologetically took the remaining bites right back home with me -- and enjoyed them with a salad for dinner the next night!
Re: the recipe, I decided to trick myself into thinking these wer healthy (and thereby giving myself permission to eat more) by subbing reduced-fat cream cheese and reduced-fat sour cream for the regular stuff. Do I realize that I'm fooling myself? Yes. Did it damage the final results to cut a few calories and fat grams? No. So, why not?
John and Kate, I will miss you terribly. In fact, I miss you already. I am dedicating this blog post to your beautiful family, and can't wait to visit you soon! In the meantime, I'm adding these crab cakes to my appetizer repertoire, and every time I make them, I will think of you!
Mini Crab Cakes
(barely adapted from Annie's Eats)
- ¾ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup sour cream (regular or reduced fat)
- ½ tsp. lemon zest
- 3 tbsp. minced fresh chives, divided + additional for garnish
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 8 oz. fresh lump crabmeat, patted dry and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, ¼ cup of the Parmesan, and the egg; beat with an electric mixer to blend. Beat in the sour cream, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of the chives, salt and cayenne pepper. Gently fold in the crabmeat. (This mixture can be made up to 1 day in advance.)
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Spray a 24-well mini muffin pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine the panko, remaining ½ cup of the Parmesan, and 2 tablespoons of the minced chives. Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and toss with a fork until evenly blended and moistened. Place 1 tablespoon of the panko mixture in each muffin well and press down to form a crust. Spoon 1 generous tablespoon of the crab mixture over the crumb mixture in each well. Sprinkle a rounded teaspoon of the panko mixture over the top of each.
Bake until golden and set, about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Allow to cool in the pans 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each cake and gently lift it out of the pan. (These can be baked 2 hours in advance. Rewarm at 350˚for 6-8 minutes* just before serving.) Garnish with additional fresh chives.
*The afternoon of the party was a scorcher, and no one wanted to put the oven on for rewarming. Since the boys were already grilling outside, they offered to put the muffin pan directly on the grill for a few minutes. It worked great.
Saturday, April 28, 2012
I have a number of go-to risotto recipes, but I do think this is my favorite. I've had it shelved for awhile, as my significant other declared our home a mushroom-free zone for a month or so to test a hypothesis that he is allergic to the little buggers. Given that I LOVE mushrooms, I've never been so happy for a theory to be proven wrong! To celebrate, I whipped up this dish, compliments of one of my favorite blogs, Pink Parsley.
The only major change I made was the addition of chicken, 'cause at my house, dinner just isn't dinner without a little meat.
Chicken Marsala Risotto
(adapted fom Pink Parsley)
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 3/4 cup Arborio rice
- 1 cup Marsala wine, divided
- 3-4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups mushrooms, sliced (cremini are recommended, but I used baby bella with good results)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little more to sprink on top
- 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, minced, plus a little more to sprinkle on top
- kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a medium saucepan until simmering.
Add the Arborio rice and toast until opaque around the edges, 3-5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of the Marsala wine and cook, stirring often, until absorbed, 5 minutes or so.
Stir in 1 cup of the chicken broth, and stir occasionally until almost absorbed, 8-12 minutes. Working 1 ladle of broth at at time, continue to add broth, stirring constantly. Add the next ladle when the broth is almost completely absorbed.
After you have been cooking the risotto for 10 minutes, stir in the mushrooms. Continue to cook risotto, stirring constantly, until it is al dente, for a total of 20-25 minutes.
Remove from heat, and stir in the chicken cubes, the remaining 1/4 cup of Marsala wine, Parmesan cheese, basil, and remaining butter. Add salt and pepper if necessary and season to taste.
Serve immediately, with a little extra basil and parmesan on top (if desired).
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Why, savory scones, of course!
(from Confections of a Foodie Bride)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper (cut back to 1 tsp, if you're not a pepper lover like me)
- 1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 10 slices bacon, cooked and chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 3/4 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- heavy cream, optional (I didn't use it, but you can substitute for half the buttermilk, if you like)
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp water
Grab your peppermill and start grinding - use a full tablespoon for a wonderfully peppery background or reduce by 1 tsp for less pepper flavor.
Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl on low speed.
With mixer running, gradually add cubes of butter until the mixture is crumbly and studded with flour - butter bits about the size of small peas.
Add grated cheese and mix just until blended. (This can also be done by hand: In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Gradually cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles small peas. Stir in cheese.)
Saturday, April 7, 2012
It's another goodie from Epicurious. But at this point, I don't rely very heavily on the recipe. I know I add more of just about everything. More cheese. More prociutto. More sun-dried tomatoes. Who needs measuring cups, right? I just eye-ball it.
As for pasta, the recipe calls for shells or gnocchi, but really, you can use whatever you want. These pictures depict a version using orechiette, which in my opinion, is basically just a more sophisticated version of shells.
The only other change I make is to cut the chicken before I cook it. I am under the illusion that it shortens cooking time, though to be honest, I've never checked.
Pasta with Chicken, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Gorgonzola, and Pine Nuts
(adapted from Epicurious)
Sunday, April 1, 2012
When time is short, however, and outcome important (e.g., when you have only an hour or two to put together something for a girls' get-together 45 miles away), nothing beats a short cut. Combine that with a hearty helping of booze, and you have what I like to call "magic."
For this particular occasion, I turned to Allrecipes, typed "rum cake" into the search field, and sorted by rating. This one came out squarely on top, with a perfect 5-star rating and 866 reviews. I figured, 866 can't be wrong, right?
The reviews around the dinner table are in, and I can officially add my rave to the mix. Easy, moist, rummy and delicious. What could be better than that?
Golden Bundt Cake
(adapted a tiny bit from Allrecipes)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over the bottom of the pan.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Mix in the eggs, 1/2 cup water, oil and 1/2 cup rum. Blend well. Pour batter over chopped nuts in the pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let sit for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto serving plate.
While cake sits, make the glaze by combining butter, 14 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup rum.
Pour half the glaze into the bundt pan. Reisert cake. Using a meat fork, a skewer, or a chopstick, poke holes in the bottom of the cake. Carefully pour the rest of the glaze over the cake, and let sit for at least an hour.
Ok. I get it. Beef, noodles, and gravy do not exactly equal Spring cuisine. In my defense, however, the past few weeks has brought more rain and chilly weather than we saw in January and February combined. San Francisco is just like that, I guess. Living here means throwing out all rules for "seasonal" wardrobe and cuisine!
This dish is comfort food at its finest. A cross between beef burgundy and a mole sauce, it boasts a complex array of flavors and a hugely satisfying aroma. Don't be put off by the long ingredient list. While you might end up having to purchase (or substitute) a few spices, it's a breeze to prepare. Basically, you just mix the spices, toss in some cubed meat, brown it, add your liquids, cover, and try to stay patient while the beef becomes melt-in-your-mouth tender.
Re: the wine, I used a Barbera from Robledo Family Winery, one of our favorite stops when we're in Sonoma. It worked beautifully, both as an ingredient and as an accompaniment. Yum!
Beef with Spicy Cocoa Gravy
(from Culinary in the Desert)
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 1/2 pounds trimmed top round steak, cut into 1" cubes
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 14.5 ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, coriander, ancho powder, cumin, garlic, oregano, paprika and cinnamon. Add beef and toss to coat. Remove beef and set aside. Stir in flour to the remaining spices and return beef - toss well to evenly coat the pieces.
In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add half of the beef mixture to pan and sauté until brown on all sides - about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove beef from pan and add remaining oil. Repeat browning with the remaining beef mixture - remove when browned.
Add onions and bell pepper into the Dutch oven and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes tender. Pour in wine and tomatoes - cook 3 minutes. Mix in beef broth, salt and black pepper. Add the browned beef back into the pan - cover, reduce heat and simmer until the beef is tender - about 1 hour and 10 minutes.