Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kitchen Renovation: Part 2

Again, I'm spamming this around my blogs because I have nothing else to be posting about right now. We aren't cooking, we're eating lots of pizza and eggplant parm, and our house is a disaster zone. I love it. Our contractor is moving swiftly and that is exciting.

Yesterday
Yesterday they finished the flooring and started setting up the cabinetry.

kitchen

kitchen

Today
They finished installing the cabinets and are preparing for the appliances. They're also doing the electrical work for another light fixture and to install the microwave above the range (instead of sitting in a corner on the cabinet like it had been doing).

kitchen

kitchen

kitchen

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kitchen Renovation: Part 1

I'm posting this in all three of my blogs so I apologize in advance for my IRL friends who read all three.

So here are some before/after pictures of the kitchen renovation thus far. I know it looked nice before. We liked it. But the refrigerator couldn't really open all the way without hitting the island, and we had to squeeeeeze past the island to get anywhere. It was really poorly placed. The electrical and flooring were poorly installed. And our dishwasher crapped out. So! A full renovation it is.

All the 'before' pictures were taken after we had already emptied out the majority of the kitchen. It used to have furniture and stuff in it.

Main Part of the Kitchen
Before:
before

before

Now:
after

Also they had to shift the doorway leading into my computer/craft room:
after

Breakfast Nook
This had already been emptied out when I took the 'before' picture. It used to have a table and chairs, spice cabinet, and Emma's bed (still in the empty picture).
before

before

All of it is in the garage until our contractor finds a buyer for our cabinets and appliances. Not sending it to the dump! Hoorah! Our refrigerator is still hooked up, just in the garage. Our microwave is in the dining room, and everything else from the kitchen is scattered throughout the house. It's kind of a disaster zone. Tomorrow they're supposed to tile and start installing the cabinetry.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Sage and Brown Butter Sauce

We have tried a few different sweet potato or pumpkin raviolis (including our favorite) that involve brown-butter sage sauce, and we always like them, so it should come as no surprise that a mushroom version went over just as well. Definitely good! The only change is that I reduced the butter from a stick to 3 tablespoons. And we didn't even use all of it! Seriously, a little goes a long way!

ravioli

Wild Mushroom Ravioli In Sage and Brown Butter Sauce
Vegetarian Times

“I have been cooking ever since I could see over the stove, but needed to get stuck behind a desk to inspire me to cook professionally,” says Emily Peterson. As a birthday present to herself, she enrolled at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, and has never looked back. Emily now teaches cooking classes at the Astor Center in New York, provides cooking demonstrations at local farmers’ markets, and cooks at The Green Table restaurant. To create this winning entrée, she used won ton wrappers to make ravioli—a time-saving trick that let her focus on the filling ingredients instead of fussing with dough and pasta makers.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small shallot -- minced (2 Tbs.)
4 ounces pkg. “gourmet blend” mushrooms -- (shiitakes, oyster mushrooms, and baby bellas) diced
2 tablespoons white wine
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
20 squares won ton wrappers
1/4 pound unsalted butter -- (1 stick)
4 fresh sage leaves -- plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add shallot, and sauté 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, and cook 7 to 10 minutes, or until softened. Add wine and thyme, and cook 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cool.

2. Cut 1 won ton wrapper in half, to form 2 rectangles. Brush edges of won ton half with water, and place 1 tsp. mushroom mixture on one side. Fold won ton wrapper in half to make square ravioli, pressing on edges to seal. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining won ton wrappers and filling.

3. Melt butter in large skillet over low heat. Add sage leaves, and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until fatty solids in butter sink to bottom of saucepan and turn nutty brown.

4. Meanwhile, cook ravioli in large pot of boiling salted water 2 minutes, or until they float to top. Transfer to skillet with slotted spoon, and toss to coat with brown butter sauce. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and sprinkle with cheese.

Servings: 5

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Frittata

Amazing.

I came home, quickly chopped some veggies and tossed them into a roasting pan, worked on cleaning out the kitchen (we're renovating - more on that later), and then voila! Dinner was ready. And it was delicious. Possibly too delicious since we definitely ate the entire thing. But YUM! Absolutely a make-again.

frittata

Roasted Vegetable Frittata
Emeril Lagasse

6 eggs
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup roasted potatoes -- cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup roasted or grilled red pepper -- chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup roasted or grilled zucchini -- chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup roasted mushrooms -- halved
2 cloves roasted garlic -- sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 small shallot -- minced

1. Preheat the broiler.

2. In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs and water. Add potatoes, red pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Fold in 1/4 cup Asiago cheese. Set aside.

3. In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute for 4 minutes. Stir in the egg mixture. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until the eggs are almost set, about 10 minutes.

4. Sprinkle the frittata with the remaining Asiago. Place the frittata under the broiler and cook until the top is set and starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Place a large serving plate over the pan, and carefully invert to turn out the frittata to serve.

Servings: 4

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hamantashen

Today is Purim! For you gentiles, Purim is a holiday to celebrate the narrow escape of genocide by the terrible ruler Haman thousands of years ago in Persia. It should be noted that I am not Jewish either, but I enjoy celebrating holidays. Especially when they involve delicious treats, which most do - Purim especially, which is kind of like a Jewish Mardi Gras. Hamantashen are little triangular pastries typically eaten on Purim. Their shape represents the three-cornered hat Haman used to wear. (Well, they're supposed to. Mine came out ugly and weren't shaped right, but they're supposed to be perfectly triangular.)

I got this recipe from a parent of a student I worked with a few years ago. We had a cooking day once a week in the classroom, and she came in to make these with the kids for Purim. Easy-peasy and tasty. I made three varieties: almond (with almond paste), raspberry (pie filling), and chocolate (just sprinkled some chocolate chips). I put some toasted slivered almonds on top of the almond ones. That variety was a little strong, but the chocolate and raspberry ones are delicious. I have never seen another recipe for this so I don't know if this is the "best" or not, but it is sufficient. I will make this again next year.

purim

Hamantashen

2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour

Various fillings:
Pie fillings (no jelly)
Chocolate chips or other varieties of chips
Almond paste

Mix together, adding an extra egg if the dough is too dry. Roll out into circles, fill with about 1 tablespoon of filling, and fold up edges into a little triangular packet. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Happy Purim!

Spinach-Stuffed Eggplant Rollatini

I have a lot to write about this recipe, so bear with me.

The first thing is that he doesn't really like things with ricotta, which things like rollatini and lasagna are filled with. I took note from my friend Michele and subbed in mostly feta for the lasagna. This recipe already uses some feta, so I switched the amounts - more feta, less ricotta. And you know what? It worked! He didn't love it, but it wasn't because of the ricotta this time. This is good to know. Now I can make lasagna again!

Alright, so the recipe itself is old. It's from Food & Wine's 1993 "Best Of" cookbook. There are a few things in the recipe that date it, such as using walnuts when today we would likely use pine nuts. I will also be open and admit that not only did I not make the Fresh Tomato Sauce, but I didn't even bother typing it into my Living Cookbook when I was transcribing the recipe months ago because I knew I wouldn't ever bother to make it. Lazy. So instead I used some jarred tomato sauce. You should do that too, since there are already so many steps.

Speaking of the steps: the steps make no sense. It has you do one thing, then let it cool while you do another thing that takes three times as long. So instead of baking your spinach and draining it, first get the eggplant cooking and then quickly dry-wilt your spinach on the stovetop (I don't understand the whole casserole-dish thing). Then when you put that in a bowl to cool, you can use the same pan to quickly toast the walnuts (or pine nuts), and then the same pan again to cook the onion. Also very easy. Mix everything in the bowl, add the egg, and by the time the eggplant is done cooking and had a chance to cool off a bit, everything else is ready. Also, I don't know why you need to bother heating up more sauce. There is already enough sauce on it. And if it doesn't have enough sauce, then you probably should cover it with more next time. I didn't add Parmesan or the olives to "garnish" it either, because that just seemed pointless to me.

As is my policy, I'm going to post the recipe as it's written in the cookbook. But I do highly suggest you follow my directions because it's way easier.

Verdict: I thought this was a very tasty rollatini recipe and I enjoyed it. I will probably keep the recipe around and modify it over time.

rollatini

Spinach-Stuffed Eggplant Rollatini with Fresh Tomato Sauce
The Best of 'Food & Wine': 1993 Collection

This vegetable main dish provides protein in the form of a cheese filing made mostly of part-skim ricotta mixed with a little feta and parmesan. At Cal-A-Vie, it's served with steamed broccoli, a green salad, and a slice of the spa's whole-grain baguette.

3 pounds fresh spinach, stems discarded, or 1 lb frozen leaf spinach, thawed
10 walnut halves
3/4 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 egg plus 1 egg white, lightly beaten
Vegetable oil cooking spray
Two 1 to 1 1/2 lb eggplants, peeled and cut lengthwise into 20 1/4-inch thick slices
Fresh Tomato Sauce (3 cups) (Lauren's Note: Or jarred sauce)
12 brine-cured black olives, pitted and sliced, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Place half of the spinach leaves in a large pot or medium flameproof casserole with 1 cup of water. Cover and cook over high heat until wilted, about 10 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a colander, rinse briefly under cool water and set aside to drain. Repeat with the remaining spinach. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the spinach in small bunches to extract as much liquid as possible (Alternatively, squeeze the thawed frozen spinach). Chop well and set aside in a large bowl.

2. Meanwhile, place the walnuts on a small baking sheet. bake for 7-8 minutes, until fragrant and toasted. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool. Place the bread crumbs on the baking sheet and bake, stirring once or twice, for 5 minutes, or until dry and lightly browned. Let cool briefly. Finely chop the walnuts and stir into the spinach. Stir in the bread crumbs.

3. In a medium skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 15 minutes.

4. Stir into the spinach mixture. Stir in the ricotta, feta, 2 Tbsp of the Parmesan, 2 Tbsp of the parsley, the basil, pepper, salt, and cumin (the spinach filling can be prepared up to 2 days ahead; cover and refrigerate. Return to room temperature before proceeding).

5. Increase the oven temperature to 450. Stir the egg and egg white into the spinach mixture and set aside. Lightly oil 2 large baking sheets with vegetable oil cooking spray. Spread the eggplant slices on both sheets. Brush lightly with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil and bake for 10 minutes. Brush again lightly with the remaining 1 Tbsp oil, rotate the baking seets and bake the eggplant for 8-10 minutes longer, until browned and soft. Set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.

6. Lower the oven temperature to 375. Spread 1/2 cup of the fresh tomato sauce in a 9x13 inch nonreactive baking pan. Lay a few eggplant slices on a work surface. Place 2 heaping tsp of the spinach mixture at the short end of each piece of eggplant. Roll up from the short end and place the rollatini, seam side down, in rows in the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices and spinach stuffing.

7. Pour 1 cup of the tomato sauce over the rollatini. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes, until heated through. Let rest for 5 minutes (The rollatini can be prepared to this point up to 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Reheat in a 350 degree oven).

8. Meanwhile, in a medium nonreactive saucepan, reheat the remaining 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce over moderately low heat. Sprinkle the remaining 1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, 2 Tbsp parsley, and the olives over the rollatini. Serve 2 rollatini per person. Pass the warm tomato sauce alongside.

Servings: 10

Cheese Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce

I know this is late! I made this on Friday night. It was only meh. I like my mom's recipe for cheese enchiladas better (even though it's weird). The sauce wouldn't thicken for me, and the yogurt kind of gave the filling an 'off' taste. It was alright, but I wouldn't make it again.

enchiladas

Cheese Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce
Eating Well

Intense, earthy and absolutely addictive, New Mexico’s cheese enchiladas showcase red chile sauce at its most elemental, thickly blanketing tortillas and melted Cheddar. We’ve added some extra creaminess and body with locally popular pinto beans, to cut down on the classic’s load of saturated fat. Top with shredded lettuce and minced onion.

Red Chile Sauce
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup minced white onion
1 clove garlic -- minced
1/2 cup mild-to-medium-hot red New Mexican chile powder
2 cups vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano -- preferably Mexican
1/2 teaspoon salt

Enchiladas
15 ounces pinto beans -- rinsed and mashed, or nonfat refried beans
2 tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt
12 6-inchs corn tortillas -- blue corn if available
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese -- (8 ounces), divided
1/4 cup minced white onion -- plus more for garnish

1. To prepare sauce: Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup onion; cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 1 minute. Stir in garlic and continue cooking until the onion is translucent and soft, about 2 minutes more. Stir in chile powder. Add broth, water, oregano and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until thickened and reduced by about one-third, about 20 minutes. (The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.)

2. To prepare enchiladas: Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 7-by-11-inch (or similar-size 2-quart) baking dish with cooking spray.

3. Combine beans and yogurt in a small bowl.

4. Spread about 1/4 cup of the sauce in the baking dish. Arrange 4 tortillas in the dish, overlapping them to cover the bottom. Top with half the bean mixture, using the back of a spoon to spread it thin. Scatter 2/3 cup cheese and 2 tablespoons onion on top of the beans. Top with one-third of the remaining sauce, 4 tortillas, the remaining bean mixture, 2/3 cup cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons onion. Spread half of the remaining sauce on top and cover with the remaining 4 tortillas. Top with the remaining sauce and the remaining 2/3 cup cheese.

5. Bake the enchiladas until hot and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with additional minced onion, if desired.

Servings: 8

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the sauce (Step 1) for up to 3 days.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Asparagus and Pasta

1) I did not make something St. Patrick's Day related (like colcannon) because I forgot it was coming up this week.

2) Recipes from the Penzeys catalog crack me up. They're written so fancifully and are not the most practical. Sorry.

3) This was really simple and really good but it reminded me a lot of the Pasta & Squash with Tomatoes, Basil and Pine Nuts I used to make all the time. But this one had asparagus, which was nice, and I liked the seared tomatoes. My balsamic expired last week so I used some white balsamic I had in the pantry (who knew?). I really liked this. I'm going to keep the recipe even though I'll probably never get back around to it.

4) I took this with my Blackberry so it's kind of weird shiny. Sorry again.

pasta

Asparagus and Pasta
Penzeys One

Elegant, yet quick and simple. There aren't many ingredients, so the key to this recipe is that they are all top-notch. Cherry tomatoes bursting with flavor, fresh olive oil, good Parmesan, very finely shredded, and excellent asparagus.

1 bunch firm fresh asparagus, ends removed
4-6 ounces dry pasta - your favorite (we used penne)
1 cup cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes (yellow and red, if possible)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 ounces fresh, finely shredded Parmesan (or Romano) cheese

Heat 1 quart of water for cooking the pasta. In a small separate pot, bring enough water to a boil to cook the asparagus. Halve the cherry or grape tomatoes. Heat a heavy fry pan on high. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Watch carefully - when done, drain without rinsing. Place in a bowl, sprinkle with garlic and basil crumbled through your fingers, toss with olive oil, and keep warm. Ideally, the draining and spicing of the pasta will occur during the asparagus cooking time. Place the asparagus in boiling water for 2 minutes. After one minute, add the cherry tomatoes to the fry pan face down to sear them. After two minutes, pull the asparagus from the boiling water using a small strainer and add to the fry pan for one more minute. The bit of moisture on the asparagus should loosen the tomatoes so they aren't stuck to the pan. Add the balsamic vinegar. Swirl the pan, tossing to coat the vegetables, then remove from the pan. Toss the tomatoes with the pasta, and divide between two attractive plates. Top with asparagus spears. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Finally, top with freshly, finely grated Parmesan cheese like a light blanket of snow.

Servings: 2

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Double Chocolate Layer Cake

His birthday was on Thursday but I didn't have time to bake a cake during the week (I know, I'm terrible) so I made it on Saturday instead. I had the recipe picked out for months. Why this one? It's on Epicurious and has more than 1400 reviews - all with the highest possible rating. It is a "blue ribbon" recipe, officially one of the most highly rated recipes in the history of the entire website. Epicurious covers Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines, so that says something about this cake.

Did it live up to its expectations? Hell yes. Hell. Yes. It is absolutely fantastic. It is the best chocolate cake ever. The ganache is a little bit rich, but that's how ganache is by nature. It's wonderfully unhealthy. Does it go into the "Legendary But Will Never Make Again" folder? Nope. He wants it again next year!

cake

cake

Double Chocolate Layer Cake
Gourmet, March 1999
Engine Co. No. 28, Los Angeles CA

This old-fashioned chocolate cake made our staff swoon! Chef Ed Kasky uses Callebaut semisweet chocolate for the cake and Guittard French-vanilla chocolate for the frosting, but any fine-quality semisweet chocolate will produce a wonderful result in either.

3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder -- (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 ounces unsalted butter -- (1/4 cup)
two 10- by 2-inch round cake pans

1. Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.

2. Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

3. Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

4. Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

5. Make frosting:
Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.

6. Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency).

7. Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.

Yield: 12-14

Sesame-Crusted Tofu Sticks with Vegetable Saute

Last Friday I made this for dinner. It was really weird, honestly. There's thyme and balsamic vinegar in it, and it doesn't seem to know if it wants to be Asian or Italian or some weird combination of both. The whole thing is just odd. Neither of us really liked it very much. I guess it was healthy. Not a make-again.

Sesame-Crusted Tofu Sticks with Vegetable Saute
Cooking Light, June 2002

Double-breading the tofu sticks gives them a crisp exterior. Look for ABC sauce in Asian markets.

Tofu:
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
15 ounces extra-firm tofu -- drained and cut into 18 sticks
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil -- divided

Vegetables:
6 ounces pineapple juice
Cooking spray
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 garlic clove -- minced
1/2 pound shiitake mushroom caps -- (about 10 mushrooms)
2 cups sliced green onions -- (2-inch)
1 cup cherry tomatoes -- halved
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Japanese sweet and sour sauce -- (such as ABC sauce; optional)

1. To prepare tofu, combine first 4 ingredients in a shallow dish. Combine breadcrumbs, flour, and sesame seeds in a shallow dish.

2. Dip tofu, one piece at a time, in egg mixture; dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Return tofu to egg mixture; dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining tofu, egg mixture, and breadcrumb mixture.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of tofu; cook 4 minutes, turning to brown all sides. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and tofu. Keep warm.

4. To prepare vegetables, pour pineapple juice into pan. Bring to a boil; cook until juice is reduced to 1/4 cup (about 5 minutes). Remove from pan.

5. Heat pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add shallots, minced garlic, and mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add green onions, tomatoes, and thyme, and cook 1 minute. Stir in pineapple juice and balsamic vinegar, and cook 30 seconds.

6. Arrange about 1/2 cup vegetable mixture on each of 6 plates; top each serving with 3 tofu sticks. Drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon sweet and sour sauce, if desired. Serve immediately.

Servings: 6

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Avocado & Cheddar Sandwiches

You know, for a "non-recipe," this Avocado & Cheddar Sandwich is something we've actually had many times over the past few years. I was feeling so uninspired and unmotivated to make dinner tonight, so throwing this together was a great choice. Healthy and tasty!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Burst O' Lemon Muffins

I had a whole bunch of lemons this week (unsure why, I just did) so I decided to make these muffins. Except the notes I had on the recipe said that making a variation with key lime pie yogurt and lime zest is also delicious. Unable to decide between lemon and lime, I decided to make both. Two whole batches! And what I discovered is this: they are both good, but the recipe burns so easily! I have no idea what the deal is. It's all still edible, just very dark brown. Hmm. We decided we like the lemon better than the lime. Also, I did not add toasted coconut to the topping, though I did add it into the muffin batter. I probably wouldn't make these again.

lemon

Burst O' Lemon Muffins
Taste Of Home, October/November 1999

1 cup all-purpose flour -- (1-3/4)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup lemon or vanilla yogurt -- (8 ounces)
1 egg
1/3 cup butter -- melted
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel -- (1 to 2)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup flaked coconut

TOPPING:
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flaked coconut -- toasted

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, beat the yogurt, egg, butter, lemon peel and lemon juice until smooth; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the coconut.

2. Fill greased muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 400° for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

3. In a saucepan, combine the lemon juice and sugar; cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Stir in coconut. Using a toothpick, poke 6-8 holes in each muffin. Spoon the coconut mixture over muffins. Serve warm or cool to room temperature.

Yield: 1 dozen

Orzo with Summer Squash and Toasted Hazelnuts

I know it isn't summer. I also know that summer squash is currently unavailable at my grocery store because of the weather. Luckily, I had some frozen squash and hazelnuts, and therefore was able to make this unseasonal dish. It was good but kind of boring. It was convenient but I probably wouldn't make it again.

orzo

Orzo with Summer Squash and Toasted Hazelnuts
Gourmet, August 2003

1 1/2 cups orzo -- (10 ounces)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped shallot -- (6 1/2 ounces)
2 medium zucchini -- (1 1/2 pound total) cut into 1/3-inch dice
2 medium yellow squash -- (1 pound total) cut into 1/3-inch dice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup hazelnuts -- (4 ounces) toasted , loose skins rubbed off in a kitchen towel, and nuts coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest

1. Cook orzo in a 4- to 5-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain orzo in a colander.

2. While orzo is cooking, heat butter and oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté shallot, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini, yellow squash, salt, and pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in nuts, parsley, basil, and zest.

3. Add cooked orzo to skillet and stir gently. If mixture seems dry, moisten with some reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Servings: 8

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Sweet Potato Ravioli

It's been quite awhile since I busted out this old favorite, Sweet Potato Ravioli with Lemon-Sage Brown Butter. So we had it for dinner tonight with some steamed green beans! Delicious delicious.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi

I had some frozen mahi-mahi in the downstairs freezer that I wanted to use up, so I made this for dinner tonight. I so thought I would like it because I love love love macadamia nuts and coconut milk and panko and all that good stuff. But alas, I disliked it. No one is surprised. I left the butter out of the topping and instead just mixed it with a little bit of coconut milk, so maybe that was why. I don't know. I wouldn't make it again.

I did, however, make it with Caribbean Coconut Rice, and it was delicious as usual.

fish

Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi
Food Network: Alton Brown (Good Eats)

5 ounces coarsely ground -- (about 1 1/4 cups) roasted macadamia nuts
1/2 cup panko -- (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter -- melted
Vegetable oil -- for brushing foil
4 (6 to 8-ounce) mahi mahi fillets
Kosher salt and pepper
2 tablespoons coconut milk

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a medium bowl, stir together the nuts, panko , flour, and butter. Set aside.

2. Place a piece of aluminum foil on a baking sheet and brush it liberally with vegetable oil. Place the mahi mahi on the foil and sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper on both sides. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush each fillet with the coconut milk . Divide the nut mixture among the tops of the 4 fillets, patting the mixture to spread and adhere to the fillets. Return to the oven and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

3. Remove from the oven and allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.

Servings: 4

Bucatini with Mushrooms

Making this was a fun experience because Giant was out of the pre-sliced "exotic mushroom" packages so I picked out a bunch of random ones, like a big bunch of oyster mushrooms that he swears is a Hen of the Woods and I am sure it was not, and some shiitakes for good measure. I could not find bucatini so I found some extra-long fusilli pasta. It was delicious but familiar. A quick look at my recipe index revealed why: we already made a Farfalle with Creamy Wild Mushroom Sauce in December! It is pretty much the same, minus the chunks of Parmesan! Obviously since they're similar we loved both of them. This is what we have decided: We will use the Farfalle recipe, continue to use random mushrooms, and use the chunks of Parmesan from the Bucatini recipe. Excellent.

mushrooms

Bucatini with Mushrooms
Cooking Light, October 2009

Substitute long fusilli or fettuccine if you can't find bucatini. Dried porcini mushrooms and truffle oil supply rich earthiness. Use leftover truffle oil to drizzle over pizzas, polenta, or salad greens.

1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms -- (about 1/2 ounce)
2/3 cup boiling water
8 ounces uncooked bucatini
3 1/2 teaspoons salt -- divided
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
8 ounces exotic mushroom blend -- coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves -- minced
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese -- divided
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon truffle oil
Sage sprigs -- (optional)

1. Rinse porcini thoroughly. Combine porcini and 2/3 cup boiling water in a bowl; cover and let stand 30 minutes. Drain in a sieve over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup soaking liquid. Chop porcini.

2. Cook pasta with 1 tablespoon salt in boiling water 10 minutes or until al dente; drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.

3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, mushroom blend, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in porcini, sherry, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute or until liquid evaporates.

4. Finely grate 1 ounce cheese; crumble remaining cheese. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in pasta, 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 cup reserved porcini soaking liquid, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup grated cheese, cream, chopped sage, and pepper; toss well to combine. Drizzle with oil; toss. Place about 1 1/4 cups pasta mixture on each of 4 plates; top each serving with about 1 tablespoon crumbled cheese. Garnish with sage sprigs, if desired.

Servings: 4

Friday, March 04, 2011

Noodle Bowl

"That's not a recipe."

"It IS a recipe. I'm reading it and doing what it says. It counts. It's telling me what to do."

"It's ramen noodles with stuff in it."

"Shut up, I haven't properly cooked in days so it COUNTS."

And that is the story of how I made myself some glorified ramen noodles last night. It wasn't bad. I probably would just make regular ramen noodles in the future but tossing in shrimp and vegetables definitely made it pretend to be healthier. Hooray!

No picture because I forgot.

Noodle Bowl
Southern Living, March 2009

3 ounces Oriental-flavored ramen noodle soup mix
2 cups water
1 chopped green onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh snow peas -- trimmed
6 peeled and deveined medium-size raw shrimp -- (26/30 count)
1/4 cup shredded napa cabbage
1 tablespoon chopped peanuts -- (1 to 2)

1. Stir together flavor packet from ramen noodle soup mix, 2 cups water, chopped green onion, and chopped fresh cilantro in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; add noodles and snow peas. Cook 1 minute, and stir in shrimp. Cook 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and top with shredded cabbage and chopped peanuts.

2. Note: You can substitute 1/2 cup chopped cooked chicken for the shrimp.

Servings: 1

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Crisp Tofu with Crudites and Sesame-Ginger Dipping Sauce

I have an excuse for posting late: I was sick. I don't know with what, but my tummy hurt and I was a mess. Before I was sick, on Sunday, I prepared this for myself to eat for dinner on Monday because I would be out late.

If I hadn't gotten sick Monday morning, this would have been a delicious dinner. It would also be a great lunch to take. Healthy and full of produce and yumyum. The tofu is great. I would make that part again. The sauce is good too, although I couldn't find tahini so I bizarrely decided to use some of the hummus I had in the refrigerator.

Oh, the dinner that could have been, if only I hadn't gotten sick.

box

Crisp Tofu with Crudites and Sesame-Ginger Dipping Sauce
Martha Stewart Living, September 2006

To press the tofu, place it on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a double layer of paper towels, then cover it with another double layer of paper towels. Place a baking sheet on top, and weight with heavy cans. Let stand for 30 minutes, then pat the tofu dry.

FOR THE SAUCE
5 teaspoons coarsely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup tahini
5 teaspoons low-sodium tamari soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

FOR THE TOFU
1 1/2 packages firm tofu -- (21 ounces total) cut into 2 dozen pieces and pressed
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

FOR THE CRUDITES
1/2 head green cabbage -- (1 pound) cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
8 ounces green beans -- trimmed, steamed until crisp-tender
1 red bell pepper -- seeds and ribs removed, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick strips

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make the sauce: Finely chop ginger in a food processor. Add tahini, tamari, honey, oil, and vinegar; process until combined. With machine running, add 3 tablespoons cool water. Process until smooth.

2. Put tofu into a medium bowl. Add sesame seeds, oil, and salt; toss to combine. Arrange tofu in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and bottoms are lightly crisp, 12 to 15 minutes. Flip tofu, and bake 10 minutes more. Let cool completely.

3. To assemble, divide cabbage, green beans, and bell pepper into 4 servings, and top with tofu. Divide sauce among 4 small cups. Serve within 2 hours, or refrigerate, covered, up to 1 day.

Servings: 4