Sunday, April 30, 2006

Skordalia with Crostini

So, it isn't that I haven't been updating this blog, it's just that I haven't been cooking anything. We've been out of town so much that I haven't had the chance. So this week I am cooking!

Tonight we had Greek Garlic Potato Dip (Skordalia) With Crostini, from One Potato, Two Potato. It was good but was disappointing. It was kind of more like mashed potatoes on bread. I still ate it because I loved roasted garlic, and potatoes, but I definitely won't make this again. This is the second dud I've had from this cookbook (and I've only made two things from it). One more and it's going on Ebay.

Greek Potato Garlic Dip (Skordalia) with Crostini
1 lb. small white or all-purpose potatoes, scrubbed
Coarse salt
1/2 head garlic, cloves broken apart but not peeled, plus 1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2-3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Warm water or stock for thinning (optional)
Crostini (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350. Put the unpeeled garlic on a square of foil. Drizzle with 1 tsp of the oil, season with salt and pepper, and fold up the foil to form a neat little package. Roast for about 30 minutes until the garlic is very soft but not caramelized. Carefully open the foil and let the garlic cool.

Put the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water by at least an inch, add a good pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover partway, and cook until the potatoes are very tender. Drain the potatoes on a rack set in the sink and leave them there to cool somewhat.

Meanwhile, pound the garlic and 1 tsp salt into a smooth paste, either in a mortar with a pestle or on a cutting board with the side of a chef's knife. Transfer the paste to a bowl - wooden is best.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still rather warm, peel them and add them one at a time to the garlic, crushing them completely with the pestle or spoon as you go. Continue until you have a smooth puree.

Dribble in the olive oil a bit at a time, working the puree until each bit is incorporated before adding more oil, until you have a creamy puree. the amount of oil that the potatoes will absorb depends on their texture, character, and age.

Season with lemon juice to taste. Taste for salt - you may not need any more. The sauce should be thick enough to hold up a spoon, but if you prefer a looser sauce, stir in a bit of warm water or stock.

Serve right away, or cover loosely and keep at room temperature for several hours. The dip can also be covered and refrigerated for a day or two; just be sure to let it return to room temperature before serving. If any oil puddles on the surface, stir it back in.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice a baguette on the diagonal into 1/3 inch thick slices.
Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and bake, turning once halfway through until crusty and beginning to brown around the edges, about 15 minutes. You may want to finish them with a brush of extra-virgin olive oil or a rub on the crust with a cut clove or garlic- or both. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Weekend in CT

My family doesn't cook anymore, so we ate out a lot. Two meals of note:

Friday: Tamales in Danbury, CT
I had: vegetarian fajitas with delicious things like artichokes, broccoli, mushrooms, and peppers; and a guava margarita.

Sunday: Rraci in Brewster, NY
I had: arugula salad with beets, oranges, and mascarpone cheese; penne with salmon, peas, mascarpone cheese, and tomato sauce.

So yummy. :)

Tonight we're back in Boston and we're eating Rice & Bean Burritos.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Lemon-Lime Macaroon Pie

I made a lemon-lime macaroon pie for Something Awful's Iron Chef: Coconut competition. It seems we're having these happen more often, which is fine with me because it gives me a chance to be creative. So today I hacked together like 4 different recipes (from Cooking Light, a Florida Keys website, Real Simple magazine, and someone on a cooking forum, among others) and created this pie. It is really yummy. I will definitely make the crust again, though maybe with a chocolate filling; and I will definitely make the lime curd again, though maybe to work more as a sauce. I enjoyed it though. The only problem is that I didn't spray the pan enough so the crust stuck, which kind of sucked. But that's ok!

Lauren's Lemon-Lime Macaroon Pie
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
A pinch of salt
Juice of four limes & one lemon (or a combination)
3 eggs
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp grated lemon or lime zest (I used some of both)

2 2/3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2 egg whites

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir in juice and eggs with a whisk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with the whisk. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 1-2 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and zest until butter melts.

Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 3 hours.

After the 3 hours, start the crust. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, combine the coconut and egg whites and pulse until finely chopped. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Press the coconut into the pie plate, spreading it evenly. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is golden (or, in my case, nice and brown).

Pour the chilled filling into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 more hours, to give the filling time to thicken. Then eat!

my pie

Tuna-Noodle Casserole

Tonight I made some Tuna-Noodle Casserole from Cooking Light for dinner. It was so yummy! I'm very picky about dishes with tuna in it. But I really liked this one, so I will definitely make it again. I like that it was low-fat, too. Next time I might add a dash of paprika or cayenne to add a little kick or something.

My changes: I omitted the peas. And instead of a jar of pimiento, I just diced up some roasted red peppers I had left over. And I didn't use the lemon juice (though you will see why next time I post).

Tuna-Noodle Casserole
1 tablespoon stick margarine or butter
3/4 cup diced onion
1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 (10 1/2-ounce) can condensed reduced-sodium, reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
3 cups hot cooked egg noodles (about 6 ounces uncooked pasta)
1 1/4 cups frozen green peas, thawed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 (6-ounce) cans low-sodium tuna in water, drained and flaked
1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimiento, drained
1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450°.

Melt margarine in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add milk and soup. Cook 3 minutes; stir constantly with a whisk. Combine soup mixture, noodles, and next 6 ingredients (noodles through pimiento) in a 2-quart casserole. Combine breadcrumbs and cheese; sprinkle on top. Bake at 450° 15 minutes or until bubbly.

Makes 4 servings

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Today is his 25th birthday! I pulled out a bunch of cake recipes and let him pick which one he wanted. He decided on a Red Velvet Cake, c/o a McCormick ad in a magazine. Their recipe included a cream cheese frosting, but I decided to substitute a lower-fat cream cheese frosting from the Southern Living Ultimate Cookbook.

We haven't eaten it yet, but I ate small pieces that stuck to the pan and they were good :) And the cream cheese frosting is also good- I've made it before for carrot cakes and quite enjoy it. The cake is pretty since it is such a bright red! It's all frosted with candles and ready to go! I do a terrible job frosting things though so it's kind of messy looking :( Oh well! So now it will just have to wait for a few hours until we get home from dinner to be eaten.

Red Velvet Cake
c/o McCormick

1 oz bottle McCormick Red Food Color (Note: I think that's a misprint because they only come in .25oz bottles, in sets of 4)
2 tsp McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Cream butter and sugar, 5 to 7 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in sour cream, milk, food color, and vanilla. Gradually blend in flour mixture. Do not over mix!

2. Pour batter into 2 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan to cool on wire rack. Cool cake completely before frosting.

Makes 16 servings.

Light Cream Cheese Frosting
c/o Southern Living

1 8oz package Neufchatel cheese (do not soften)
1 Tbsp light butter (do not soften)
5 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese and butter at high speed with an electric mixer until soft and creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed just until mixture is light. Gently stir in vanilla. Chill until ready to spread.

Makes 2 2/3 cups (Enough to frost a whole 9-inch double-layer cake)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Red Lentil Mulligatawny Soup with Apple-Celery Salsa

This recipe was from Cooking Light. I've been wanting to try a mulligatawny recipe for awhile, because the Soup Nazi serves it on Seinfeld. This recipe came along in a recent issue of the magazine and got really high reviews, so I thought this would be nice to try.

It was so yummy! It's such a pretty color. Make sure to use red lentils, not brown ones. I liked the salsa but I probably won't add the salsa again unless I'm serving it to someone else, because it just looks so pretty with it.

Red Lentil Mulligatawny with Apple-Celery Salsa
2/3 cup finely chopped Granny Smith apple
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

3 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup dried small red lentils
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups light coconut milk
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger [I omitted this]
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To prepare salsa, combine the first 4 ingredients; cover and chill.

To prepare soup, combine broth, lentils, and onion in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until lentils are tender. Pour half of lentil mixture in a blender; let stand 5 minutes. Process until smooth. Pour pureed lentil mixture into a bowl. Pour remaining lentil mixture into blender; process until smooth. Add coconut milk, tomato paste, ginger, cumin, and turmeric; process until smooth. Return coconut milk mixture and remaining pureed lentil mixture to pan. Cover and simmer over medium heat 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in 1 teaspoon juice, salt, and pepper. Ladle about 1 cup soup into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with 1/4 cup salsa.

Yield: 4 servings

Friday, April 07, 2006

Bean Dip

One of the simplest pleasures in life is a good bean dip with those scoopable tortilla chips. It's easy to put together, quick to cook, and perfect for a Friday night spent doing homework and watching the Spongebob Squarepants movie. I usually use refried beans in this recipe, but tonight I was inspired to use black beans instead, and it was wonderful.

Bean Dip
8 oz 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
15 oz black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup to 1 cup salsa or diced rotel tomatoes
Cheddar cheese

Layer the ingredients in the order listed, in a pie plate or small casserole dish (cream cheese on the bottom, cheddar on the top). Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Eat.

Photo added August 28, 2008:

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bill's Spaghetti

This recipe came from the Penzey's One magazine. I don't think I'm going to renew my subscription because I feel like everything I make from it is only sub-par. This was good, quick, and easy, but not anything special. It kind of had a funny aftertaste (to me, at least) from the balsamic vinegar (which I normally swoon over).

Bill's Spaghetti
4 oz ground beef (I used soy crumbles)
1 14 oz can whole tomatoes, no salt added
1 small to medium yellow onion, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, cored and minced (optional)
4 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 Tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
2-3 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp fennel seed
2 piquin peppers, crushed, or a dash of cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper

4-6 oz thin spaghetti noodles (dry) (I used farfalle)
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp olive oil (optional)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat a large, heavy duty pan over medium-high heat until hot. Break the ground beef into large marble-sized chunks and drop into the hot pan, leaving a bit of room between the chunks. Let brown on one side, then stir to turn over so the beef is nicely browned on both sides and stays in hunks, 3-5 minutes. The key to lower fat cooking that still has flavor is good browning, so don't rush it or put too much meat in the pan at once. Remove the meat from the pan once brown, drain on paper towels. Pour off almost all of the fat, then add onion and red bell pepper. Stir over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, until everything starts to get nice and brown. Add the fennel seed (crush it if desired), oregano, and red pepper. Stir, then add balsamic vinegar. The vinegar will bubble up, use it to dislodge the tasty browned bits. Add the juice of the can of tomatoes, let it simmer a minute while stirring, then add the browned beef and whole tomatoes. Use a fork to chop the tomatoes a bit while they are still in the can. Give everything a final stir, reduce the heat so the sauce barely simmers. Cook about 20 minutes, which is just enough time to cook pasta and set the table. For pasta, bring at least 2 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add thin spaghetti noodles, cook until done, 7-8 minutes. Drain, add basil and garlic, stir, let stand 1 minute. If you won't be eating within a minute, use the tsp of olive oil to coat the pasta and keep it from sticking, otherwise, you don't need it. Divide pasta between two plates, ladle sauce on top, sprinkle with cheese and enjoy. Great served with Italian bread and a salad.

Makes 2 servings.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Artichoke-Black Bean Nachos

Sunday we had Vegetable-Chickpea Curry (still our favorite!), and last night we had tacos made with soy crumbles.

Tonight we had Artichoke Black Bean Nachos for dinner. It is a recipe from Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. I kind of didn't think we would like it, but we did! It was good. I don't think it was impressive enough to put into my regular rotation, but it was good for tonight.

My changes: he won't eat blue corn chips so we had normal ones, I used mozzarella and cheddar instead of Monterey Jack, and I only used one tomato, on half of the pan of nachos.

Artichoke-Black Bean Nachos
1 (9-ounce) bag red or blue corn tortillas
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (12-ounce) jar marinated and quartered artichoke hearts
1 (8-ounce) bag pre-shredded Monterey jack
5 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup sour cream
1/2 bunch scallions, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

Preheat the broiler.

On a heatproof serving platter, layer the tortillas to cover the surface of the platter. Top with 1/3 of the black beans. Place 1/3 of the artichokes on top of the black beans. Sprinkle some of the cheese and tomatoes on top of the artichokes. Repeat the layers 2 more times. Place under the broiler until the cheese melts.

Garnish with dollops of sour cream and the chopped scallions.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Deep Chocolate Mint Cookies

In less than 2 months, we will be moving to Northern Virginia. Because it's a much bigger move than just moving across the city, we are going to be taking less with us than before. So that means I have to use up everything that's in the freezer! Today I decided to use the Hershey's Mint Kisses I stocked up on around Christmas-time. I bought them specifically for this recipe because it is my favorite cookie recipe ever. It is so yummy. So I cooked up a batch and now the apartment smells like delicious minty chocolate cookies.

The recipe is from a bag of Nestles Tollhouse Mint Chocolate morsels, which they do not make anymore. So buy some mint kisses and chop them up so they're about the same size as a chocolate chip. When you take the cookies out of the oven, they might look like they aren't done, but they are. Take them out or else the bottoms will burn.

Also, instead of melting the chocolate over a double-boiler, I just zap it in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes, stopping it to stir every 30 seconds.

Deep Chocolate Mint Cookies
1 1/2 cups Mint chocolate morsels, divided
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (5 1/3 Tbsp) butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Over hot (not boiling) water, melt 3/4 cup Mint Morsels; stir until smooth. In small bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixer bowl, beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar until creamy. Beat in melted morsels, egg, and vanilla extract. Gradually blend in flour mixture. Stir in remaining 3/4 cup mint morsels. Drop by rounded measuring tablespoonfuls unto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until cookies are puffed. Let stand 5 minutes on cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies

Photo added 1/10/10:

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Butternut Squash Soup

Tonight I made Butternut Squash Soup with Sage & Parmesan Croutons, from Real Simple magazine. Seriously, this magazine consistently has amazing recipes. I don't think I've ever made one that was not good. SO many of our favorites (Fettuccine Bolognese, Sloppy Joes) come from it. Anyway, tonight's was yummy! I will definitely make it again. Make sure you take the time to make the croutons, because they really make the dish.

My changes: I halved the recipe, used vegetarian bouillon cubes instead of broth, added a Tbsp of minced garlic, and omitted the sage (though I did substitute a sprinkle of thyme). Also, if you multitask during the preparation, you can get it done a lot quicker than if you do one step at a time (for example, start the soup while the squash is roasting).

Butternut Squash Soup with Sage and Parmesan Croutons
1 3lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (5 to 6 cups)
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 tsp kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp butter
1 large yellow onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 stalks of celery, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage (about 6 large leaves)
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Sage and Parmesan Croutons (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the squash with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil, 2 tsp of the salt, and the pepper. Place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in oven for 15 minutes. Turn the cubes over and continue roasting for 15 minutes or until they are caramelized; set aside.

In a Dutch oven or a large stockpot, heat the butter and the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and sage and saute, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent and tender, 10 minutes. Add the squash, broth, and the remaining salt, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid is flavorful. Remove from heat. Using a blender or a food processor, blend the soup in batches until smooth. Return to the pot and keep warm. Top with Sage and Parmesan Croutons and the grated Parmesan.

Makes 6-8 servings

Sage and Parmesan Croutons
3 oz rustic white bread (about 3 thick slices), torn into 1-inch pieces
1 large clove garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage (about 6 large leaves)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl to coat. Spread the bread evenly on a baking sheet and toast in oven for 10-12 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.