Monday, March 31, 2008

Pasta Primavera

I've made pasta primavera in the past, and it was yummy, but I am always seeking out better versions of recipes I've made before. I decided to try this recipe because it's very spring-like and uses pattypan squash. "Pattypan squash" is fun to say, and that's good enough for me! I used regular sliced carrots instead of baby carrots, and we ran out of penne so I also threw in some macaroni noodles. We didn't have 'real' wine so I used crappy cooking wine, but it worked well. And I used fresh herbs! Woohoo!

We liked it better than the previous version we made. We both agreed it could be better, so the search has not ended, but this is a very yummy recipe that makes good use of spring produce. I would make this again.

I am including the whole recipe, which includes a variation involving shrimp, just in case anyone wants to try that version instead.

pasta

Pasta Primavera
Cooking Light, April 2002

1 1/2 cups baby carrots, trimmed (about 6 ounces)
3 cups uncooked cavatappi or penne pasta (about 8 ounces)
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups pattypan squash, halved (about 8 ounces)
3/4 cup shelled green peas
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a stockpot. Add carrots; cook 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Add pasta to boiling water; cook according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash; sauté 3 minutes. Add carrots, peas, salt, pepper, and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in cream and juice; cook 1 minute. Add pasta and cheese; stir well to coat. Remove from heat; stir in basil and parsley.

VARIATION:
Pasta Primavera with Shrimp and Sugar Snap Peas: Substitute 2 cups sugar snap peas for the green peas; cook sugar snap peas in boiling water with carrots. Substitute 1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp for pattypan squash; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in 2 cups trimmed arugula and 2 tablespoons chopped green onions with the basil and parsley.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mango and Black Bean Salad

While our empanadas were cooking, I threw together this easy salad. It completely blew us away - it is so delicious!!! I haven't had a lot of experience with fresh mangoes, and this was a nice way to become familiar with them. All of the flavors come together so beautifully, it looks amazing, and it is wonderfully tasty. I'm already thinking about the next time I will make this (probably in 2 weeks when my mom visits!).

Notes: We used jarred tomatillo salsa and a red-and-white wild rice & barley blend in place of plain wild rice. Also, in the future I would use a tad less lime juice because the lime flavor was a little bit too strong this time around. If you don't know how to cut a mango, go here and learn how.

OK guys, I know the directions are really complex so if anyone has any questions or needs any clarification, please let me know.

mangoes

Mango and Black Bean Salad
Cooking Light, 3/08

1 1/2 cups chopped peeled ripe mango
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup cooked wild or brown rice
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons roasted tomatillo or fresh salsa
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can organic no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss gently to mix.

Yield: 6 servings

Corn and Poblano Empanadas

Technically these empanadas are appetizers, but I wanted to make them for dinner so we just both ate a bunch of them. While they are not difficult to make, they are very time consuming. Making the empanada dough took awhile. You may notice in the photo that the dough is reddish-colored. In the photo from Cooking Light, where the recipe was originally published, their empanadas were very pale and whitish. I think that means that our Penzeys Medium-Hot Chili Powder is so super awesome that it dyed the dough red. So that was pretty cool. The empanadas were a little tough, similar to the dough from the Sweet Potato Samosas we made awhile back. But they were really good and we really liked them a lot. They are a definite make-again!

Note: If you can't find masa harina, you can use substitute cornmeal. I found masa harina in the international foods aisle in the grocery store, by all the Goya brand items.

corny

Corn and Poblano Empanadas
CL 8/03

Masa harina--used to make corn tortillas and tamales--yields a more richly flavored and textured dough than that made with flour alone.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup masa harina
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
2 poblano peppers
Cooking spray
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 500°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, masa harina, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and chili powder in a food processor; pulse 3 times. Add water and butter; pulse until mixture forms a loose ball. Remove from processor; knead until ball completely forms. Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Shape each dough portion into a ball; flatten each ball into a 3-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Cover and chill 30 minutes. (Stack dough portions between pieces of wax paper.)

Place poblanos on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 500° for 20 minutes or until brown and blistered, turning once. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel poblanos; cut in half lengthwise. Discard seeds and membranes, and finely chop. Place in a medium bowl.

Reduce oven temperature to 425°.

Heat a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and corn; sauté 3 minutes. Add to poblanos; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in cheese.

Roll each dough portion into a (5-inch) circle. Working with 1 circle at a time (cover remaining circles with a damp towel to prevent drying), spoon 3 level tablespoons corn filling into center of each circle. Moisten edges of dough with water; fold dough over filling. Press edges together with a fork or fingers to seal. Place empanadas on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Combine egg white and 1 tablespoon water. Lightly coat tops of empanadas with egg mixture. Pierce top of dough with a fork. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Yield: 8 servings

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Honey and Toasted Pistachio Muffins

After the CakeLove cake last week, and the brownies I made last weekend, I started feeling pretty unhealthy. So my baked good this weekend is a super-duper healthy muffin that uses just a little bit of brown sugar as a sweetener and contains healthy things like whole wheat flour and flaxseed meal. It's topped with some pistachios and honey.

While health food can often be disgusting, these muffins are absolutely amazing. I was shocked at how delicious they were. They will be perfect to eat for breakfast during the week, as well as for a healthy snack. At less than 200 calories apiece, they're pretty wonderful! I even emailed the recipe to my mom to make her whip up a batch for my family! These are definitely a make-again.

muffin

Honey and Toasted Pistachio Muffins
Cooking Light, April 2007

1 cup whole wheat flour (about 4 3/4 ounces)
1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup golden raisins
Cooking spray
3 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios
2 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups level with a knife. Combine flours and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a medium bowl, and stir well with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, sugar, canola oil, and eggs; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Stir in 1/4 cup golden raisins. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with pistachios. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pans immediately; cool on a wire rack. Drizzle honey evenly over tops of the muffins.

Yield: 1 dozen

Berry French Toast

This is quite possibly the easiest French toast - dump some stuff in a casserole dish, dredge the bread, slap it on top of the berries, and bake. I used up most of the remaining frozen strawberries we picked from last year's trip to the farm, and I also used some frozen blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. We used a baguette I got as a gift for my bridal shower (long story - thanks, Michelle!) and that was that. It was easy and good, but we didn't really like how soggy the bread got. I'm not sure if it's because we used a softer bread, but ours was really soggy. I think we like our french toast a little bit crispier. So for us this is not a make-again, but if you don't mind soggy french toast, then this is for you.

messy

Berry French Toast
Cooking Light, April 2004

This dish is great for lazy mornings when you don't feel like standing at the stove. Egg-rich French toast bakes atop a mixture of sweetened berries.

2 cups frozen blueberries
1 1/2 cups frozen blackberries
1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cooking spray
1 cup fat-free milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 (8-ounce) loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch slices
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a 13 x 9- inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine milk, vanilla, egg whites, and egg in a large, shallow baking dish, stirring well with a whisk. Add bread, turning to coat. Let stand 5 minutes, turning bread occasionally. Arrange bread in a single layer over berries. Sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Sprinkle evenly with powdered sugar.

Yield: 6 servings

Friday, March 28, 2008

Hamburger Buddy

Hamburger Helper is tasty (at times) and often a staple of the College Student, but it is so horribly processed and unhealthy. Enter Eating Well magazine, which re-did Hamburger Helper and made this recipe - Hamburger Buddy. I got the recipe off of Joe's Blog. Obviously we modified it to make it vegetarian (soy crumbles instead of sirloin, veggie stock instead of beef). Somehow we ran out of Worcestershire sauce so we had to omit that, and I don't know how much that affected the taste of the final product. We liked it. It was definitely better than boxed Hamburger Helper. Much healthier, with lots of chopped up veggies mixed in. I don't think we would make it again, but it's an easy and simple meal and I think a lot of my friends who eat meat would really like it. I will post the original (meaty) recipe.

buddy

Hamburger Buddy
Eating Well

3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium carrots, cut into 2" pieces
10 ounces white mushrooms, cut any large pieces in half
1 large onion, cut into 2" pieces
1 pound ground sirloin
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups water
1 3/4 cups beef broth, divided
8 ounces whole-wheat elbow noodles
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

With a food processor running, drop garlic through the feed tube and process until minced. Add carrots and mushrooms - process until finely chopped. Add onion and pulse just until the pieces are roughly chopped.

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add ground sirloin and cook, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped vegetables, thyme, salt and pepper - cook, stirring often, until the vegetables start to soften and the mushrooms release their juices, about 7 minutes.

Stir in water, 1 1/2 cups broth, noodles and Worcestershire sauce. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk flour with the remaining 1/4 cup broth until smooth. When the pasta is just tender, stir into the meat mixture. Stir in the sour cream. Simmer, stirring often, until the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes. Scatter each portion with a sprinkling of parsley.

Yield: 6 servings

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

CakeLove

Today my office threw me a surprise bridal shower. It was amazing and I was surprised and it was super fun. They rock.

One of the "foodie" highlights was a cake that was purchased from CakeLove, a popular bakery in the DC area that has received national fame since its chef and founder, Warren Brown, has a show on the Food Network called Sugar Rush. I met him last fall when I went with my boss to a talk show taping (my boss was a guest) and I almost peed of excitement. So to actually eat his cake was pretty freaking awesome.

And what a cake! Here is a photo from the CakeLove website:
cake

It is the Strawberry Shortcake, described as:
A classic vanilla butter pound cake bursts with vanilla buttercream and fresh, sugared strawberries. A CakeLove favorite that's heartily endorsed by Mom!

It was SO RICH and delicious and so super unhealthy. We have the leftovers in our refrigerator and I am looking forward to eating the rest of it. It will probably be the only thing I eat tomorrow since the calories in one slice surely surpass a typical day's allotment.

Thanks, CCRA!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Trofie with Pesto, Green Beans, and Potatoes

Trofie is a kind of squiggly-shaped pasta. We didn't have any, so we used a combination of fusilli and pennette. Just wanted to clear that up.

This was super-simple and has like 5 ingredients, and it produced a very tasty result. It's very comforting - how could it not be, with all those pure carbs and starches?? Mmm. Pasta and potatoes. Delicious. We would make this again.

A note about the pesto: It doesn't specify how much to use. I used about 1/4 cup, and I halved the recipe. If you make the full recipe, I'd use about half a cup of pesto, or more if you want a stronger flavor.

trofie

Trofie with Pesto, Green Beans, and Potatoes
From Martha Stewart Living

12 ounces fingerling or small new potatoes
Coarse salt
1 pound trofie (or fusilli or penne)
4 ounces green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
Pesto
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

1. Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch-thick rounds or pieces and cover with cold water by 2 inches in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; add salt. Reduce heat to medium; simmer potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

2. Bring one large pot and one medium pot of water to a boil; add salt to both. Add pasta to large pot; cook until al dente. Add green beans to medium pot; cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain pasta and green beans.

3. Heat pesto in a large skillet over medium heat until warm. Stir in potatoes, pasta, and green beans; cook until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with cheese.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mexican Polenta

Tonight we had Mexican Polenta and it was very tasty. I used real cilantro this time, which was cool. And I used freshly shredded Australian cheddar from Trader Joe's, and it was delicious.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Chocolate-Mint Bars

These minty brownie bars were pictured on the cover of the March Cooking Light magazine and were so appealing that I had to make them! In hindsight, I should have made them for St. Patrick's Day, but whatever.

I read a lot of reviews on the CLBB, and everyone said the bottom layer of this recipe is bizarrely spongey and not that great. Recommendations were made to replace the bottom with some standard brownies. So that is what I chose to do.

But instead of trying a new brownie recipe, I decided to buy some No-Pudge Original Brownie mix, which is fat-free, low in calories, and super easy (you just have to add yogurt). It also makes surprisingly tasty brownies.

So I made those brownies in place of the base layer of the original recipe and then followed the recipe as written. It was fairly simple to make and tastes very good!!! The minty flavor is strong but in a good way, like a Peppermint Patty. I would make these again, repeating the changes that I made.

I'm going to post the original recipe here, but replace the brownie layer with standard brownies if you so desire.

brownies

Chocolate-Mint Bars
CL 3/08

Bottom layer:
1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
1 (16-ounce) can chocolate syrup
Cooking spray

Mint layer:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops green food coloring

Glaze:
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare bottom layer, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt; stir with a whisk. Combine granulated sugar, egg substitute, 1/4 cup melted butter, 2 tablespoons water, vanilla, eggs, and chocolate syrup in a medium bowl; stir until smooth. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring until blended. Pour batter into a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

3. To prepare mint layer, combine powdered sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, and next 3 ingredients (through food coloring) in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer until smooth. Spread mint mixture over cooled cake.

4. To prepare the glaze, combine the chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until melted, stirring after 30 seconds. Let stand 2 minutes. Spread chocolate mixture evenly over top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into 20 pieces.

Yield: 20 squares
(I got 12 because I made mine in an 8x8 pan instead)

Pan-grilled Veggie Sandwiches with Ricotta, Arugula and Balsamic

Continuing with my theme of eating spring-like meals in order to pretend like spring has actually arrived (when, in fact, it is still cold out), tonight I made this light sandwich for dinner. It is super-easy and very delicious. It is similar to a lot of grilled veggie wraps I've gotten at restaurants recently. Instead of using a baguette, as the recipe calls for, we used a loaf of "country miche" bread from Panera. Delicious! We would definitely make this sandwich again.

sandwich

Pan-grilled Veggie Sandwiches with Ricotta, Arugula and Balsamic
Recipe from Good Deal with Dave Lieberman (Food Network)

Vegetable oil, for brushing
2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise in 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 yellow squash, sliced lengthwise in 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 red onions, sliced into 14/-inch rounds
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 baguettes
1 (16-ounce) container ricotta cheese
1 bunch arugula, washed, dried and stems discarded
Balsamic vinegar, to taste

Brush large grill pan with vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat.

Before grilling, toss veggies with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Grill vegetables in batches until nicely colored and soft, about 6 to 8 minutes per batch.

Cut bread into 6-inch pieces. Cut pieces lengthwise but don't go all the way through.

Spread a thick layer of ricotta on the bottom half of the bread. Sprinkle with salt.

Toss arugula with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Place dressed arugula on top of ricotta layer.

Then add the generous amounts of the different grilled vegetables.

Yield: 4-6 servings

potatoes

We also had some roasted potatoes with our sandwich. I did not feel this necessitated its own post because the recipe is as follows: cut up some fingerling or baby potatoes (we used red), toss them with olive oil, salt & pepper, and any herb or spice you deem tasty, and roast at 350 for 1 hour. Ta-da! This also works on the grill, though you don't have to grill them for as long (and put them in a basket or aluminum foil, not directly on the grill).

The herbs I used tonight were: rosemary, oregano, parsley, garlic salt, onion powder, cayenne, and paprika. I kind of just grabbed things.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce

On the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards, this recipe is always suggested when someone says, "Help me not to hate fish!" I don't know why it's taken me so long to get around to making it. It's been in my recipe-storage program ever since I started using it in 2005! That is a long time. It has all the components I require for a fish dish that I like: spicy. I think that's the only component I require. It was spicy from curry powder and curry paste, but had a really nice flavor from the coconut milk. We really liked it a lot, and our only complaint is that I didn't cook the basmati rice long enough because I am dumb.

tilapia

Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce
Cooking Light

Tilapia's mild flavor allows the bold flavors in this brothy sauce to shine. Serve this dish with rice, which will absorb the sauce.

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil, divided
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
Cooking spray
3 cups hot cooked basmati rice
4 lime wedges

Preheat broiler.

Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add pepper and onions; cook 1 minute. Stir in curry powder, curry paste, and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer (do not boil). Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.

Brush fish with 1/2 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sauce, rice, and lime wedges.

Yield: 4 servings

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hash Brown Quiche

Tonight we're having Hash Brown Quiche while we watch Die Hard. This is our version of "Date Night."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Vegetarian Pad Thai

I love ordering pad thai at Thai restaurants. It's such an interesting noodle dish and I just love it. We've tried to make it at home before, but it just didn't taste like the pad thai I get from restaurants.

Until tonight.

I was adventurous and tried this recipe, which used scary things like tamarind (what is tamarind??). I didn't get tamarind from a "pliable block," as directed in the recipe; instead, I used some tamarind paste I found at Balducci's. I used a sparse amount comparatively since the paste was more concentrated than the "pliable block" would have been. Therefore, I skipped the step about simmering and sieving the tamarind. I also don't have a wok so I just used a big saucepan.

I also reduced the oil by a bit. I'll admit I still used way more oil than we usually prefer - and we both agreed it was still pretty oily. But I see the purpose of it and would probably use just a tiny bit less than I did today when we make it again in the future (AND WE WILL). It is excellent and tastes exactly like the ones I order from restaurants. I am so super excited!

I decorated the plate with Sriracha:
yay

Vegetarian Pad Thai
From Gourmet, 12/07

In Thailand, people are fiercely loyal to their favorite pad Thai—which is painstakingly made one plate at a time. After a taste of this quicker vegetarian version, we think you'll start to feel that same sense of loyalty.

12 ounces dried flat rice noodles (1/4 inch wide; sometimes called pad Thai or banh pho)
3 tablespoons tamarind (from a pliable block)
1 cup boiling-hot water
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Sriracha (Southeast Asian chile sauce)
1 bunch scallions
4 large shallots
1 (14- to 16-ounce) package firm tofu
1 1/2 cups peanut or vegetable oil
6 large eggs
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups bean sprouts (1/4 pound)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Equipment: an adjustable-blade slicer; a well-seasoned 14-inch flat-bottomed wok
Accompaniments: lime wedges; cilantro sprigs; Sriracha

Soak noodles in a large bowl of warm water until softened, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain well in a colander and cover with a dampened paper towel.

Meanwhile, make sauce by soaking tamarind pulp in boiling-hot water in a small bowl, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Force mixture through a sieve into a bowl, discarding seeds and fibers. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, and Sriracha, stirring until sugar has dissolved.

Cut scallions into 2-inch pieces. Halve pale green and white parts lengthwise.

Cut shallots crosswise into very thin slices with slicer.

Rinse tofu, then cut into 1-inch cubes and pat very dry.

Heat oil in wok over medium heat until hot, then fry half of shallots over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until golden-brown, 8 to 12 minutes. Carefully strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl. Reserve shallot oil and spread fried shallots on paper towels. (Shallots will crisp as they cool.) Wipe wok clean.

Reheat shallot oil in wok over high heat until hot. Fry tofu in 1 layer, gently turning occasionally, until golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer tofu to paper towels using a slotted spoon. Pour off frying oil and reserve.

Lightly beat eggs with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Heat 2 tablespoons shallot oil in wok over high heat until it shimmers. Add eggs and swirl to coat side of wok, then cook, stirring gently with a spatula, until cooked through. Break into chunks with spatula and transfer to a plate.

Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly. Pour in 6 tablespoons shallot oil, then swirl to coat side of wok. Stir-fry scallions, garlic, and remaining uncooked shallots until softened, about 1 minute.

Add noodles and stir-fry over medium heat (use 2 spatulas if necessary) 3 minutes. Add tofu, bean sprouts, and 1 1/2 cups sauce and simmer, turning noodles over to absorb sauce evenly, until noodles are tender, about 2 minutes.

Stir in additional sauce if desired, then stir in eggs and transfer to a large shallow serving dish.

Sprinkle pad Thai with peanuts and fried shallots and serve with lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, and Sriracha.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Grilled Vegetables and Chickpeas with Couscous

After a horrible night at class, I was glad to come home to a quick and easy dinner. It was nice to bust out the grill pan because it hasn't been used in quite awhile. I personally loved this meal, and while I was eating it I thought, "It's going to be delicious for lunch tomorrow!" Unfortunately, that meant it was probably not his favorite - and that turned out to be the case. He ate it and was happy, but felt it's better as a lunch (for me) than for a dinner. But I like it a lot and would definitely make it again for myself to take for lunches.

couscous

Grilled Vegetables and Chickpeas with Couscous
Cooking Light, September 2005

1 large zucchini (about 8 ounces)
1 large yellow squash (about 6 ounces)
1 small green bell pepper, quartered
1 small red bell pepper, quartered
1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 1/2 cup)
Cooking spray
1 cup water
3/4 cup uncooked couscous
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash of ground cinnamon
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled feta cheese

Prepare grill.

Cut zucchini and squash lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place zucchini, squash, bell peppers, and onion on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until well browned. Remove vegetables to a cutting board; cool. Chop vegetables into bite-sized pieces; place in a large bowl.

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in couscous and the next 5 ingredients (through cinnamon). Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Add couscous, tomatoes, and remaining ingredients except cheese to vegetable mixture; toss well. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, March 17, 2008

Rumpledethumps

To celebrate St. Patrick's Day, I made Rumpledethumps, which is a deliciously fantastic casserole similar to colcannon.

I followed my own suggestions from the previous times I've made it, and made sure to use super small pieces of cabbage. In fact, I chopped up the broccoli, cabbage, and leeks, threw them into a bowl, and microwaved them, which was much easier than steaming. Much less effort.

So Rumpledethumps continues to be one of the most delicious things ever, and we are happy.

rumples

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rigatoni with Swiss Chard

This super-simple recipe comes from Martha Stewart Living. It reminds me how much I miss that magazine. I let my subscription lapse last year, after years of obsessively reading it, because I didn't want to spend the money. I think I will renew my subscription and start getting it again.

So as you might suspect, we really enjoyed this recipe. It is very simple and it's healthy with all the swiss chard. I used part-skim ricotta and half the butter and oil as extra precautions. I also added a little extra red pepper (don't I always?). We both agreed it was very delicious and we would make it again.

chard

Rigatoni with Swiss Chard

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound rigatoni or other tubular pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, leaves cut into 1/2-inch strips and stems cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts (about 1 1/2 ounces), toasted
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta; cook 3 minutes less than package indicates. Drain.

2. Heat butter and oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat about 1 minute. Add garlic and shallots; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in chard, lemon zest, wine, 1 teaspoon salt, and the red pepper flakes; season with pepper. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until chard has just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Stir in pasta, ricotta, and pine nuts. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, 3 to 4 minutes. Divide among 4 serving dishes. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.

Yield: 4 servings

Potato Rolls

In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day, I thought I'd make a batch of potato rolls. I figured we could eat them for dinner, snacks, and take them for lunches during the week. They were fairly easy to make as far as homemade bread goes, but during the second rising time (when they were shaped into roll form) they just...didn't rise. The dough had risen an expected amount during the first 45 minutes, so I don't know what happened. Did all the yeast die? But I put them in the oven anyway, hoping they would expand in the oven.

Nope! So we were left with small (about 2 inches long), super-dense, yeasty-tasting rolls. Very disappointing :( I'm not sure if it was my fault or if the recipe just sucked, but these are not a make-again.

Actual size:
rolls

Potato Rolls
Cooking Light Holiday Cookbook
(Originally in CL 11/02)

Adding potato to the dough creates light texture. Bake these rolls up to 1 month ahead. Cool completely, wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil, and freeze. Thaw completely, and reheat (still wrapped in foil) at 375º for 12 minutes or until warm. Try using the leftover rolls to make miniature sandwiches with turkey and relish.

2 cups cubed peeled baking potato
4 teaspoons sugar, divided
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
4 1/4 cups bread flour, divided
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 large egg
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons bread flour

Place potato in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Mash potatoes with a fork.

Cool reserved cooking liquid to 105° to 115°. Stir in 1 teaspoon sugar and yeast. Let stand 5 minutes.

Lightly spoon 4 1/4 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine mashed potato, yeast mixture, 1 tablespoon sugar, 4 cups flour, butter, salt, and egg in a large bowl, stirring until well blended.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add up to 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 10 minutes.

Divide dough in half; divide each half into 12 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), shape portion into a 2-inch-long oval on a floured surface. Roll up tightly, starting with a long edge, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets; pinch seam and ends to seal. Place roll, seam side down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

Repeat procedure with remaining dough portions, placing 12 rolls on each of 2 baking sheets. Sift 2 tablespoons flour over rolls to lightly coat. Cover rolls and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Bake at 350° for 10 minutes with 1 baking sheet on the bottom rack and 1 baking sheet on the second rack from the top. Rotate baking sheets; bake an additional 10 minutes or until rolls are browned on bottom, lightly browned on top, and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pan; cool on wire racks.

Yield: 2 dozen

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Crisp Salmon with Lemony Spinach and Potatoes

Tonight we did another fish dish. I was attracted to this recipe because it is one recipe for an entire meal! All the components go together really well. It's very fast and very easy, although at one point I had three burners on the stove going AND a pan in the oven, so it was a little bit chaotic. But for the most part it was super simple. I didn't hate the salmon, and I really liked the potatoes and spinach. I didn't love the salmon. I didn't even really like it. I think it really does have to be spicy for me to enjoy it. But this was not bad in terms of fish and I would probably even eat it again!

fish

Crisp Salmon with Lemony Spinach and Potatoes
Cooking Light, 9/07

All you need to round out this nutritious meal is a whole-grain dinner roll. Salmon and olive oil provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fat; the salmon also contributes omega-3 fatty acids.

2 large peeled baking potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 1/4 pounds)
1/3 cup fat-free buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, divided
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 teaspoon instant minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon paprika
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (6-ounce) packages fresh baby spinach
Oregano sprigs (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place potatoes in a saucepan, and cover with water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender, and drain. Return potatoes to pan. Add buttermilk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon lemon rind, and juice; mash with a potato masher. Keep warm.

Combine panko, onion, dried oregano, paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle salmon evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Dredge fillets in panko mixture.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add salmon to pan; cook 2 minutes on one side or until browned. Turn fish over; place skillet in oven. Bake at 400° for 6 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

While salmon cooks, heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add spinach, turning frequently; cook for 3 minutes or until spinach wilts. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon rind and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Arrange 1/2 cup spinach mixture on each of 4 plates; top each with 3/4 cup potato mixture and 1 fillet. Garnish with oregano sprigs, if desired. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Friday, March 14, 2008

Korean Style Striped Bass and Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

We've really been into Korean-flavored food lately, have you noticed? We like spicy and sesame and all that good stuff. So tonight we had some more. I picked this recipe for the fish specifically because I have been liking fish best when it is spicy. I also picked it because I read that striper is a very mild fish that most people like. So this combination seemed to be good for me.

It was excellent! We liked it very much. It isn't very pretty to look at since it's so flat, but it was definitely very good and we both really enjoyed it. We would definitely make it again.

We had it with some Wasabi Mashed Potatoes because I felt they would be a nice accompaniment to the fish. I was right about that. They went very nicely and were a good, filling side dish. However, they weren't particularly amazing so we probably wouldn't make them again.

striper

Korean Style Striped Bass
From Cooking Light

Striped bass is a mild, firm fish from the Atlantic coast. It is also sold in fish markets as striper, greenhead, or squidhound. It cooks best under the broiler because fillets are usually cut thin and fall apart easily.

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon chile paste with garlic
1 garlic clove, minced
4 (6-ounce) striped bass fillets
Cooking spray

Combine all ingredients except cooking spray in a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 20 minutes.

Remove fish from bag; discard marinade.

Preheat broiler.

Place fillets on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 4 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Yield: 4 servings

wasabi!

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes
Cooking Light, 10/05

4 cups cubed peeled baking potato (about 1 3/4 pounds)
3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
3/4 teaspoon wasabi powder (dried Japanese horseradish)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 10 minutes or until very tender. Drain.

Combine potatoes and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spicy Thai Curried Lentils

This was a quick and simple recipe from an old issue of Woman's Day magazine that has a lot of super-healthy ingredients and only a little bit of fat from the coconut milk (I used light coconut milk). In a rare occurrence, we had a drastic difference of opinion! I liked it a lot; he ate about half of it and then declared that he did not like it at all. I asked him what he didn't like so I could write about it here, but he has no idea. He thinks that maybe he doesn't like lentils, or maybe it was too spicy (I agree it was crazy spicy because I added a ton of the curry paste). He also thinks it may be because of all his eye drops from the Lasik, because they're making things taste weird. Regardless of the reason, he was not a fan. That's too bad. I would have made it again!

Yo, I used fresh herbs!
lentils

Spicy Thai Curried Lentils

1 cup brown lentils ,picked over and rinsed
1 can (14 oz) vegetable broth
1 cup canned lite coconut milk (not cream of coconut), stirred well before measuring
1 1/2 Tbsp red curry paste or 2 tsp red curry powder
3 cups fresh cauliflower florets
1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut in 3/4-inch chunks
1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup each: basil, finely shredded, and cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Mix lentils, broth, coconut milk, and curry in a large saucepan. Simmer, covered, 15-20 minutes until lentils are almost tender.

Place cauliflower, sweet potato, and red pepper on lentils. Return to a simmer, cover and cook 10-12 minutes until vegetables and lentils are tender. Sprinkle servings with the basil and cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Scallion and Potato Soup

This is from Real Simple's April 2007 issue. The little note suggests adding corn at the end of cooking, so we did that.

We also subbed half and half for the heavy cream, and I ran out of small potatoes so we had to use one of the Yukon Golds that I was going to use later this week (so now I have to go to the store again, grr). We liked this soup, although it took longer to cook than we anticipated. It was simple and good. We would make it again.

soup

Scallion and Potato Soup
Real Simple, 4/07

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
18 scallions (white and light green parts), sliced
1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the scallions and cook 1 minute. Add the potatoes, wine, cream, broth, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and sprinkle with the remaining pepper.

Tip: Add flavor and texture by stirring in 1 cup frozen corn kernels during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, March 10, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Today is his 22nd birthday! For dinner I made the super-spicy Poblano Stuffed with Soyrizo, Shrimp, and Rice that we were a big fan of. I couldn't find soyrizo anywhere, so I just dumped in like a tablespoon of cayenne pepper and we didn't even know the difference!

For his birthday cake, he wanted a cheesecake. I don't think I've ever made a cheesecake before, so I picked a simple recipe. It comes from Sunset.com. It was really easy and was really, really yummy. I would recommend it.

cheesecake

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

2/3 cup (about 3 oz.) reduced-fat chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
3 packages (8 oz. each) nonfat cream cheese
1 can (14 oz.) nonfat sweetened condensed milk
3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

1. Combine crumbs and melted butter. Pat evenly over bottom and about 3/4 inch up the side of a removable-rim 8-inch cheesecake or cake pan (at least 1 3/4 in. deep).

2. In a food processor or bowl, whirl or beat cream cheese, milk, egg whites, and vanilla until very smooth. Stir in 1/4 cup chocolate chips.

3. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Evenly sprinkle batter with remaining chocolate chips.

4. Bake in a 350° oven until cake jiggles only slightly in the center when gently shaken, about 30 minutes.

5. Run a thin-bladed knife between cake and pan rim. Refrigerate cake, uncovered, until cool, at least 2 1/2 hours. Serve, or if making ahead, wrap airtight when cool and chill up to 2 days. Remove pan rim and cut cake into wedges.

Yield: 10 servings

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Korean-Spiced "Beef" and Cabbage Rolls

In the January 2008 issue of Cooking Light, they published winners of the annual recipe contest. I saw this recipe for meat-filled Korean buns and really, really wanted to make it - but I don't eat sirloin. What to do, what to do? Soy crumbles, hooray! In place of the sirloin, I used an equal amount of soy crumbles. I was a little bit nervous about how that would turn out, but it was WONDERFUL! I think it would have tasted similar even when made with real meat.

Though this recipe does require making the dough and making the little meat- (or soy-) filled pockets, it doesn't take as long to make as it sounds like it would. I was pleasantly surprised that they came out looking just like the magazine. We really liked these a lot and would definitely make them again!

Buns are closed:
buns

Buns are open:
buns

Korean-Spiced Beef and Cabbage Rolls
CL 1/08

Filling:
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon bottled ground fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 pound ground sirloin (Sub soy crumbles or chopped mushrooms)
Cooking spray
2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage

Dough:
4 cups all-purpose flour (about 18 ounces)
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups water
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon water
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375°.

To prepare filling, combine first 11 ingredients in a large bowl.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add beef mixture to pan; cook 8 minutes or until done, stirring occasionally. Stir in cabbage; cook 4 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Remove from heat; cool completely.

To prepare dough, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine 1 1/3 cups water, honey, and canola oil, stirring with a whisk. Add water mixture to flour mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes); cover and let stand 5 minutes.

Roll dough into a 16 x 12–inch rectangle (about 1/4-inch-thick) on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough into 12 (4-inch) squares. Working with 1 square at a time (cover remaining dough with a towel to prevent drying), spoon about 1/4 cup beef mixture into center of each square. Moisten edges of dough with water; bring 2 opposite corners to center, pinching points to seal. Pinch 4 edges together to seal. Place rolls, seam side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Combine 1 tablespoon water and egg white in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Lightly brush tops of dough with egg white mixture; sprinkle each with 1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until rolls are lightly browned. Remove from baking sheet; cool on wire racks.

Yield: 12 rolls

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Citronelle

So tonight we went to Citronelle for Gibby's birthday dinner (he turns 22 on Monday) with his mom and grandma. For those who are unfamiliar with Citronelle, the head chef is Michel Richard, who has won a ton of awards, has been on the Food Network a bunch of times, and is entirely awesome. Citronelle was recently voted the number 1 restaurant in DC by Washingtonian magazine and has consistently received amazing reviews. Not only is it known for good food, but it is also known for Michel Richard's innovative way of presenting his food. And oh, boy did he present it well! Which was great, considering the price! It is super crazy expensive. But so worth it.

Gibby and me in front of Citronelle after our meal:
us

Immediately upon entering the restaurant, we literally ran into Michel Richard. I almost peed myself. We shook his hand and I said something wicked lame like "I am so excited to meet you!" and he said ok and continued on his way. But at that point, my night was already made. Food came second to meeting one of the greatest culinary icons alive today.

The three-course prix fixe meal started off with some amuse bouche (little tastings) and some delicious bread. There were little tiny pieces of fried chicken in a honey dijon sauce. I didn't eat any (obviously) but Gibby said it was the best fried chicken of all time. There was also a single hardboiled quail egg atop smoked salmon - which kind of scared me at first (WTF does a quail egg taste like?!) but I trusted Chef Richard and ate it anyway. And it was delicious!

Then we ordered crazy appetizers. Gibby ordered "Lobster Beluga Pasta," which we envisioned as a little pasta dish with some lobster in it. Wrong! Arriving in a caviar dish, it appeared to be a huge container of caviar. It turns out that it was pearled pasta dyed black with squid ink to resemble caviar, with pieces of tender lobster throughout. It was on a bed of "ice," which actually was a pile of glass stones. It was so awesome and was delicious.

Here is a picture. It was dark and I suck with photoshop so deal with it.
not caviar

For my appetizer, I ordered the infamous "Egg Symphony." I have heard wonderful things about it - 4 items that arrive looking like eggs, but they aren't eggs! AND IT WAS TRUE!! I was so entertained. One square had what appeared to be sliced eggs and tomatoes, but it was specially dyed mozzarella cheese slices atop tomatoes with a basil dressing. One square had what appeared to be a fried egg, but it was actually a cheese tart with a yellow bell pepper circle on top as the "yolk." Another square looked like a soft-boiled egg in an egg cup, but it was a creme fraiche with some cheesy crackers in it. And one looked like scrambled eggs, but it was actually saffron-scented lobster. Soooo awesome.

I took a picture of that one too, and then realized the lighting was so bad that I didn't take any more.
not eggs

Also of note is that Gibby's grandma ordered some oyster shooters topped with avocado foam (Mr. Richard is very into the foam lately... more on that later) but she felt they were too spicy so I don't know how they really were. Nancy (Gibby's mom) got a tuna napoleon nicoise and it was beautiful. She loved it, except the sardine, which she gently placed on the side of her plate.

On to entrees!
*I ordered sablefish in a miso-sake glaze. It was amazingly fantastic (yay fish!) and came with some delicious vegetables. LOVED it.
*Gibby ordered chateaubriand (fancy steak!) which came topped with some small chinese green beans, a side of amazing vegetables, and a potato cake that was mashed potatoes and some sort of cheese (maybe Fontina??) covered in crispies similar to a panko. Gibby reports it was delicious, a very good steak, and the concept of having very thinly cut green beans on it was amazing, and the pairing with the potatoes was genius. He had a glass of Cabernet with it but did not like it. We aren't really wine people.
*Gibby's mom got skate stuffed with crab, which came with some roasted cauliflower and pearled onions. I have never seen her eat so much in my life. She said it was amazing.
*Grandma ordered squab with a foie-gras sauce (ugh to foie gras, but whatever), which came with a delicious macaroni and cheese. She ate most of her squab, which was awesome because she usually doesn't eat more than a few bites of anything.

After our entrees, we were presented with another tiny surprise plate. This time it was a little white square of orange foam-mousse topped with orange-passion fruit sauce. It was INCREDIBLE. The foam-mousse disintegrates in your mouth. It's the weirdest feeling but it was so delicious and such an interesting experience.

Then came dessert, yay! Grandma got a cheese plate and was too full to eat most of it. Nancy got a creme brulee topped with fruit and she ate the whole thing. Shocking since she usually avoids sugar!

Gibby got the Chocolate Degustation, one of the legendary desserts. It has four components. The first was a tiny chocolate tart topped with edible gold flecks and raspberry sauce. It was "alright." Then there was a frozen chocolate mousse on a popsicle stick that was absolutely delicious (I ate part of it, haha). In another part of the plate, there was a white chocolate gelatin mold covered in chocolate chips and butterscotch sauce, which Gibby really enjoyed. And finally, there was a hazelnut chocolate bar (sort of resembling a Kit-Kat), which Gibby has proclaimed the "best dessert ever."

I got the other legendary dessert: Breakfast at Citronelle! I figured if I'd started with the egg theme, I might as well finish with the egg theme. Mine came with 5 components: pancakes, bacon, sausage, a fried egg, and some hash browns with ketchup. BUT OH WAIT, NONE WERE WHAT THEY SEEMED. The pancakes were thin sweet crepes with a fruity filling and topped with vanilla ice cream. I LOVED the pancakes. The "bacon" was actually long, thin cookies. The sausage was a weirdly textured chocolate bar that was pretty cool. The fried egg was a saucer of coconut cream with some mango mousse in the center and was sooooo good. And the hash browns were tender cooked apple cubes topped with a raspberry sauce.

Seriously. Who thinks of this???? Michel Richard, that is who.

This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us because there is no way we'll ever be able to afford to go back, ever. I won't even tell you how much it cost because it's horrific. But it was so worth it, because we didn't just get delicious food, we got an exciting experience that was fun and adventurous. It is very memorable. We are very happy and still very full!!! YAY MICHEL RICHARD, VIVA CITRONELLE!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Food Blog Search

Woohoo! My blog has been added into the Food Blog Search Engine! I am excited about that. I know my blog is very simple and not anywhere close to being as elaborate and detailed as Jaden's Steamy Kitchen or 101Cookbooks or even Culinary in the Country, but I like being thrown into the official food blog mix :)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Fried Eggs and Refried Beans Burritos

This is another recipe I've had for a long time. It's from Sara Moulton, editor (or former editor?) for Gourmet magazine. She has a show on the Food Network called Sara's Secrets that no one watches, but she used to host a popular show called Cooking Live. I believe this recipe was from Cooking Live.

It's pretty simple and is really good. As with many egg-based meals we have, this would probably be perfect for someone who has a hangover. It just has that certain quality to it. We used storebought tomatillo salsa but you could make your own if you wanted.

Oh, on a side note, we have a new oven (our other one broke) and this one actually cooks at the proper temperature, so let's see how things go. I'll have to adjust my whole baking method!!

No more recipes until Sunday because tomorrow night I have class, Friday we're going to the gma's house, and Saturday we're going to eat at Citronelle (!!!!!) for his birthday. I will probably still post on Friday and/or Saturday, especially about Citronelle because I am crazy excited to eat at such a legendary restaurant. I love Michel Richard!!

OK back to the burritos. Here's a picture of one before we rolled it up:
burrito

Fried Eggs and Refried Beans Burritos
from Sara Moulton

Eggs and beans are a happy match and substantial enough for dinner. These beans are quote-unquote "refried" because I've come up with a much lighter version of the classic recipe, which involves a fair amount of lard. Originally, I'd planned to serve the eggs and beans on top of crisped corn tortillas, but they were too hard to cut through. So I wrapped the whole concoction in warm flour tortillas, adding crushed tortilla chips, cheese, and salsa to the filling--and turned the dish into a breakfast-for-dinner burrito. Serve with a sliced tomato and avocado salad.

4 (7-inch) flour tortillas
1/4 cup oil
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper
8 large eggs
4 ounces Cheddar, grated (about 1 cup)
1 recipe Mexican Tomatillo Salsa or 1 cup bought salsa
1 cup crumbled tortilla chips

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium skillet over high heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Place the wrapped tortillas in the oven to warm.

Add the cumin and chili powder to the onion and cook 1 minute. Add the pinto beans and 1/2 cup water and cook for 5 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated. Remove from the heat and mash with a potato masher or fork until smooth with some lumps. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and keep warm while you cook the eggs.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium-low, break the eggs into the pan and cook, covered, 5 minutes, or to desired doneness. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, spread some of the pinto bean mixture on each tortilla, top with 2 eggs, some of the cheese, salsa, and crumbled tortilla chips. Roll up and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Potatoes and Chard with Green Curry Sauce

I have been wanting to make this recipe for a very long time and couldn't because I couldn't find any Thai green curry paste. Red curry paste was everywhere (and we have it, and use it) but no green curry paste anywhere in Germantown.

Then, two weeks ago, we switched to a new Giant supermarket (better produce and a fresh seafood department!), and lo and behold, they had the elusive green curry paste. I knew then that we would be making this recipe.

It was very good but I wish I'd added more of the curry paste because it wasn't quite spicy enough for us. Despite the instructions, I still used light coconut milk because I just couldn't use the full-fat version. I do not think this impacted the taste at all because it was still delicious and coconutty. He often doesn't like the taste of swiss chard, but he liked it in this. We would make this again!!

curry

Potatoes and Chard with Green Curry Sauce
From A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop
As posted on the Internet

The green curry paste is cooked in a rich coconut cream to intensify its flavor. Choose a firm potato that will hold its shape when braised. I've made this recipe with baby Yukon Golds as well as small red potatoes. Either way, cut the potatoes into halves or quarters (or more pieces if necessary) that measure roughly 3/4 inch thick. Two tablespoons of curry paste make this dish very hot--just the way I like it on a cold winter night. Use regular rather than light coconut milk and carefully open the can without shaking it, then spoon off the thick cream from the top.

1 Tbs roasted peanut oil
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs minced gingerroot
1 14-oz can unsweetened coconut milk, with 1/2 cup thickened coconut cream spooned off and reserved
1-2 Tbs green curry paste
1/2 cup water
2 lbs small potatoes, scrubbed and halved or quartered, depending on size
4 oz chard, stems and thick center ribs discarded, leaves washed, shaken dry to remove excess water, and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 Tbs fresh lime juice

1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, no more than 1 minute. Add the 1/2 cup thickened coconut cream and the curry paste. Simmer briskly until the liquid in the coconut cream evaporates and the mixture forms a very thick paste that sizzles in the pan, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Add the remaining coconut milk, water, potatoes, and 1/2 tsp salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are almost tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chard, cover, and cook, stirring once, until the potatoes and chard are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice. Adjust the seasonings, adding salt to taste, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Macaroni and Cheese

We are on a quest. A quest for a good macaroni and cheese. We try lots of mac & cheese recipes, or other baked pasta recipes, but none seem to be right. Tonight we tried one from Real Simple magazine, and it is perhaps one of the best we've made. I can't say it's the best macaroni & cheese ever, because we will continue with our quest, but it is the best of the ones we have tried. With Gruyere, cheddar, and a bit of cayenne pepper, it is creamy and cheesy without being overly starchy and sticky. We enjoyed it a lot and would make it again.

Notes: We used low-fat milk, reduced-fat cheddar, and a little less butter.

mac

Macaroni and Cheese
Real Simple, 11/06

1 pound elbow macaroni
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups whole or low-fat milk
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated Cheddar
2 cups (8 ounces) grated Gruyère
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

Heat oven to 350° F.

Cook the macaroni according to the package directions.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the top. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Still stirring, slowly add the milk. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, about 7 minutes. Add the Cheddar, Gruyère, salt, and cayenne (if using) and heat until the cheeses melt.

Drain and rinse the macaroni. Add it to the sauce and toss. Transfer to a buttered casserole. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

In Advance: Assemble the macaroni and cheese but do not bake it. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Bake as directed, adding 15 to 20 minutes to the cooking time.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Baked Pommes Frites

For our side dish tonight I decided to try Michael Chiarello's recipe for Baked Pommes Frites. Michael Chiarello has a show on the Food Network that isn't that great, but he has some good recipes.

I've tried making homemade fries before, and the same thing always happens - the fries stick to the pan and by the time they make it out of the oven, some are all torn up from being scraped off the pan and flipped, some are burned, and a few turn out good. That happened again this time, but more turned out edible than usual. I probably wouldn't make this again because I'd like to keep searching for a better baked fry recipe, but this one was pretty good!

fries

Baked Pommes Frites
Michael Chiarello

6 russet potatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Peel potatoes and cut lengthwise into quarter-inch thick slices. Cut again into 1/4-inch thick fries. Place the potatoes into a bowl with cold water; this will help keep the fries crisp. Just before cooking, drain water and place on paper towel, pat dry.

Put the potatoes in a bowl; add olive oil, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Toss well and lay out in 1 layer on nonstick baking sheet. Bake until light brown. Cook for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, turning frequently until golden brown.

Remove from oven, allow to cool for 1 or 2 minutes and serve.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Tuna Burger

Oh Paula Deen, why did you fail me? I was even watching you on TV while I was making this. Sigh.

I've decided we need to try to have seafood twice a week. So since we had shrimp last night, I figured we could try for some tuna tonight. Nothing fancy, just a burger made with canned tuna. It sounded good so I made it. It was not so good. It's really bland and dry. It's kind of like a hot tuna sandwich, but not as good as a tuna melt. Definitely not a make-again - mine went into the trash.

burger

Tuna Burger
Paula Deen

2 (6-ounce) cans solid white tuna, drained
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon chopped pimento, optional
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the tuna, bread crumbs, and egg, and stir lightly. Add the onion, celery, pimento (if using), lemon juice, horseradish, garlic, and pepper, and mix again. Form the mixture into 4 patties. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook the patties, covered, until golden brown. Carefully flip the patties and cook the other side for 5 minutes. Finish baking in the oven until golden brown.

Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Spanish-Style Shrimp with Garlic

OK our dinner was fantastic and took about 10 minutes from start to finish. We let the garlic chips cook a little extra so they were crispy and delicious. We loved the shrimp and would definitely make it again with no changes.

Look, I learned how to garnish things in a semi-attractive way:
shrimp

Spanish-Style Shrimp with Garlic
Cooking Light, 3/06

To determine when the shrimp are done--beyond looking for the characteristic pink or orange marks--check to see that the shrimp flesh has changed from translucent to opaque white. Serve this tapas-style dish with grilled bread, if desired.

1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 lemon wedges

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pepper, garlic, and bay leaf; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Increase heat to medium-high. Add shrimp; sauté until shrimp have pink or orange markings and white, opaque flesh (about 4 minutes). Remove from heat. Sprinkle with salt. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve with lemon wedges.

Yield: 4 servings

Lemon Couscous

To go along with our Spanish-Style Shrimp, I made some lemon couscous from the March 2000 issue of Cooking Light. It wasn't particularly special and I didn't even taste much of the citrus flavor. However, couscous is always a nice complement to shrimp, and any residual citrus flavor is complementary to Spanish-style cooking. It was a good side dish for tonight but is not a make-again.

No picture since it's under a pile of shrimp. Look at the shrimp post to see a photo.

Lemon Couscous
1 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup uncooked couscous
1/4 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Stir in onions and remaining ingredients.

Yield: 4 servings