Monday, May 30, 2011

Stovetop Fideos

We've been making a lot of variations of the same old flavors lately. Nothing really exciting or different. This isn't exciting, really, but it's definitely different. And delicious. We really liked this a lot. It's unique and very tasty. I used Asiago cheese because our grocery store did not have Cotija. I also did use the "No Chicken" broth. I'm a fan of this. I would make this again.

fideos

Stovetop Fideos
Eating Well, June 2011

Our vegetarian version of fideos, a toasted pasta dish served in both Mexico and Spain, is packed with green beans, corn and tomatoes. Omit the cheese to make it vegan. Serve with a crisp romaine, red onion and avocado salad tossed with red-wine vinaigrette.

3 tablespoons extra - virgin olive oil -- divided
8 ounces whole-wheat angel hair pasta -- broken into 2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
2 cups 1-inch green bean pieces
1 medium onion -- diced
4 cloves garlic -- minced
2 medium tomatoes -- diced
1 cup corn kernels -- fresh or frozen (thawed)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups “no-chicken” broth or vegetable broth -- (see Notes)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely shredded Cotija or Asiago cheese -- (see Notes)
2 scallions -- sliced
Lime wedges

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add pasta pieces and cook, stirring, until toasted and browned in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add green beans, onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the beans are beginning to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, corn and oregano and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes are just beginning to break down, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in broth, salt and the toasted pasta; bring to a boil over high heat.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the pasta is tender and most of the broth is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Serve topped with cheese and scallions, with lime wedges on the side.

Servings: 4

Notes: Chicken-flavored broth, a vegetarian broth despite its name, is preferable to vegetable broth in some recipes for its hearty, rich flavor. Sometimes called “no-chicken” broth, it can be found with the soups in the natural-foods section of most supermarkets.

Cotija cheese, also called queso añejo or queso añejado, is an aged Mexican cheese similar in texture and flavor to Asiago or Parmesan. Find it near other specialty cheeses or in Mexican grocery stores.

Five-Minute Hummus

So I'm a very defensive, competitive person. It's in my nature.

So when someone at work questioned why I buy hummus versus making it myself, I automatically took it as a personal challenge. Why don't I make my own hummus? What makes Tribe hummus so much better than something I could make in my food processor? Challenge accepted.

This was the first hummus recipe I found (because you know I can't cook without a recipe) and it was super simple. The hummus is good, but there's something off about it. I can't quite figure it out. Maybe it's the olive oil? Maybe I need a different one? I'm not sure yet. I will take this for lunch throughout the week but I will probably try a different recipe in the future. Oh, and I tripled the recipe because I really eat a lot of hummus.

hummus

5-minute Hummus
Real Simple, May 2010

15 ounces chickpeas -- rinsed
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup olive oil -- plus more for serving
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini -- (sesame seed paste; optional)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika

1. In a food processor, puree the chickpeas and garlic with the olive oil, lemon juice, tahini (if using), cumin, and 3/4 teaspoon salt until smooth and creamy. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons water as necessary to achieve the desired consistency.

2. Transfer to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the paprika before serving.

Crackle-Topped Rhubarb Coffee Cake

We had some rhubarb from the farm this week, so I wanted to use them in a nice dessert. I had rhubarb-strawberry pie at a meeting earlier in the week so I didn't want to do something with strawberries, so this sounded like it would be nice. Well, it was good but we couldn't even taste the rhubarb. It was barely there. I was really sad because it felt like I'd wasted the rhubarb, but hopefully this week's bounty will bring us more so I can make something proper with it. This is a delicious coffee cake but it would probably taste better with some blackberries or blueberries in place of the rhubarb.

cake

Crackle-Topped Rhubarb Coffee Cake
Eating Well, May/June 1994

Chunks of rhubarb accent this moist, tender cake. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the batter before baking to create a crisp top.

Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 ounces rhubarb -- trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups)

Topping
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. To make cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray. Sift flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk together egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon just to blend. Stir in rhubarb. Turn the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.

2. To prepare topping: Stir together 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the cake. Bake until the top is brown and crackled and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Servings: 9

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Moroccan Roasted Salmon with Mango Salsa

Alright: attempt 10000 at liking fish. I typically enjoy fish when it is spicy, and harissa is definitely a spicy ingredient. If you are sensitive to spices, maybe this is not the recipe for you. I, however, doubled the amount. It was cool.

As is to be expected, I was not really a fan of this. Too fishy still I guess? It all seems good and is apparently delicious to people who like fish. To my credit, I did eat most of it. I don't know.

I am seriously considering stopping seafood altogether.

I served this with our favorite Caribbean Coconut Rice, which is finding its way into our repertoire like at least once a week. I'm a fan.

fish

Moroccan Roasted Salmon with Mango Salsa
Cooking Light, April 1998

1 1/2 cups chopped peeled mango -- (about 1 large)
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons commercial harissa
1 1/2 pounds salmon fillet -- skinned and cut crosswise into 4 equal pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl; cover and chill. Spread harissa over both sides of salmon; sprinkle with salt. Place salmon on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve with mango salsa.

Servings: 4

Radish & Cucumber Danish Sandwiches

Yesterday we went to a barbecue in the middle of the day and ate a ton of food, so by 8 or 9:00 all we wanted was a light mini-meal. We had gotten some radishes in our CSA bag this past week so I chopped those up and used them in this, despite the fact that the radishes were long and thin and therefore difficult to slice like Martha wanted them to be sliced. But I tried. This was just okay. I was just eh. I wouldn't make them again.

So, here's the thing: I can't find the recipe on the Martha Stewart website. And (again) I didn't realize that the ingredients hadn't shown up in my program (seriously, it's Lauren error, not a computer glitch). I had a photo from the magazine stored in the program so I knew it was white bread, so I just ran with that. White bread and a cookie cutter, all the way.

sandwich

Radish and Cucumber Danish Sandwiches
Martha Stewart, April 2007

Lemon-Black Pepper Cream Cheese:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sandwiches:
1 cup very thinly sliced radishes
1 cup very thinly sliced English cucumber
Thin lemon zest strips, for garnish

Procedure
1. Stir together cream cheese, lemon zest and juice, and pepper in a bowl. Can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week; let soften before using.

2. Spread each bread slice with about 2 teaspoons cream cheese. Arrange radish and cucumber slices on top. Using a 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut out rounds; discard scraps. Garnish with lemon zest.

Servings: 16

Friday, May 27, 2011

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Focaccia

Tonight I used the fresh spinach from the farm to make this Spinach and Feta Stuffed Focaccia that we used to make all the time. It's been forever since we made it so I wanted to try it out and see if the recipe is worth keeping around. The answer is yes. It is still delicious. Good for us.

We finally took a picture of it, after like five years of making it without a photo.

spinach

Fusilli with Roasted Vegetables

Okay. So I made my grocery list and bought the ingredients listed in the ingredients section. Keep in mind that I use Living Cookbook and transcribe various recipes from cookbooks into the computer program. Well, once I started dinner, I realized that I was missing some of the vegetables. The peppers, onions, and the tomatoes, specifically. Oops. Luckily I had one tomato so I used that, but no pepper. Oops. Oh and I ran out of fusilli so I added in some rotini. Oh well. I used what I had and it turned out really well. It was an easy and very yummy dinner. I would make this again.

But good luck trying it since I don't have the correct measurements. Just guess. It's not like you're going to screw it up, it's just roasted vegetables. Throw whatever you want in there. Here is the recipe as I typed it up, since it's the only one I have:

fusilli

Fusilli with Roasted Vegetables
Weight Watchers Versatile Vegetarian


Roasted vegetables have a rich and hearty flavor; roast them ahead of time for an almost instant supper. This pasta is a delectable treat.

1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
3 garlic cloves, quartered
1 teaspoon minced thyme
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups fusilli
1/4 cup finely shredded basil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large roasting pan, combine the bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, garlic, thyme, and 1/2 tsp of the black pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil; toss to coat. Roast, tossing the vegetables once or twice, until the peppers are softened, about 40 minutes.

2. Cook the fusilli according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Add to the vegetables with the cooking liquid, basil, cheese, and the remaining 1/4 tsp of black pepper; toss to combine.

Servings: 4

Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms & Mascarpone

I made this the other day with some leftover dried porcinis that I've been wanting to use up. Plus I love any excuse to buy mascarpone. It is just so yummy.

So the big thing with this recipe was to vegetarian-ify it without ruining it. I didn't have any white wine so I subbed some low-quality red and it worked out very well. I used vegetable stock instead of beef stock, and the red wine kind of balanced it to make it seem more meaty. I guess.

Ultimately, this was really good but it was reminiscent of a lot of other mushroom things we've made lately. I really liked it but if I can boil pasta versus stirring risotto for 25 minutes, I'm usually going to pick the pasta dish. Probably not a make-again, but a very good dinner.

risotto

Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Mascarpone
Cooking Light, January 2010

Meaty, woodsy mushrooms and a dollop of buttery Italian cream cheese make this rich dish a risotto to remember.

2 cups boiling water
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms -- (about 1 ounce)
14 ounces less-sodium beef broth
Cooking spray
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
3/4 cup chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves -- minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese -- (1 ounce)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese -- (1 ounce)
Fresh thyme leaves -- (optional)

1. Combine 2 cups boiling water and mushrooms; let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain through a colander over a bowl. Reserve 1 1/2 cups soaking liquid; chop mushrooms.

2. Bring soaking liquid and broth to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep broth mixture warm.

3. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add rice, shallots, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add wine, and cook until liquid evaporates (about 2 minutes).

4. Add 1 cup broth mixture to rice mixture; cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of the broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Add mushrooms, grated cheese, chopped thyme, salt, and pepper; stir gently until cheese melts. Spoon 1 cup risotto into each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon mascarpone and thyme leaves, if desired.

Servings: 4

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

CSA: Week 1

I did make some things this week but I don't have the photos yet so I haven't posted the recipes.

But! I do have a photo of my latest acquisition: a big bag of fresh vegetables from Clear Springs Farm, a CSA (community-supported agriculture) near my house. I just finished reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, and that gave me a whole new perspective on farming in general, so I am even happier that we signed up for the CSA (which we had to do a few months ago!). This week's bounty was "small" according to the owners, due to all the rain and tornadoes and stuff, but I was very happy with it:

veggies

We have some lettuce, a huge bag of spinach, radishes, green onions, and rhubarb! This means I will definitely have to make something strawberry-rhubarb this weekend.

I also learned that they sell eggs at the farm, and given that I can see the chickens that are laying them, I will be purchasing eggs from them weekly from now on.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chocolate-Caramel Cookie Bars

Alright. I had some issues with this recipe. Shortbread crust? Fine. But the caramel - we were not friends. Caramel is such a delicate thing to make. Too cold and it doesn't caramelize, too hot and it solidifies. I followed the instructions so carefully and then BAM all of a sudden my caramel had gone right past softball stage and straight into being rock candy. I panicked, added some extra water, and tried desperately to dissolve the sugar. Then I added the rest of the ingredients - a terrible idea because it just solidified everything more. But I just kept on stirring and stirring and stirring, until finally it was smooth again. Not caramely, but at least not chunky. So I poured that over the chocolate and continued.

In the end, it turned out to be fudge bars that taste like caramel. I got to use my favorite fleur de sel on top and that was fun even though not everyone likes salt on their caramel. These are seriously rich though from all the butter. I really liked it but couldn't eat a whole thing myself. I brought a piece for a coworker for lunch today and he said it was very good albeit not caramel-y at all. That's pretty much the consensus. It was a mess to try and even though it yielded something tasty in the end (though totally different from how it was intended), I'm definitely tossing this recipe. Sorry, Martha.

caramel

Chocolate-Caramel Cookie Bars
Martha Stewart Living, November 2009

FOR THE CRUST
4 1/2 ounces unsalted butter -- (9 tablespoons) room temperature, plus more for parchment
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt

FOR THE CHOCOLATE CARAMEL
10 1/2 ounces milk chocolate -- chopped (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3 ounces unsalted butter -- (6 tablespoons)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sea salt -- preferably fleur de sel

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the crust: Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides; butter parchment, excluding overhang. Beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour and table salt, and beat until just combined.

2. Press dough evenly into pan, and bake until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

3. Make the chocolate caramel: Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, washing sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming, until amber, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter, cream, and table salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until smooth. Pour over chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes. Stir to combine, and let stand until cool, about 10 minutes.

4. Pour mixture over crust. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight. Run a knife around edges; lift parchment to remove whole bar from pan. Sprinkle with sea salt. Trim edges, and cut into 16 bars. Bars can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Yield: 16

Chickpea, Spinach, Feta, and Pepita Tacos

I know this sounds so totally weird. It's a bizarre combination of stuff. But it's surprisingly delicious. We both really liked this a lot. I found pepitas (pumpkin seeds) in the bulk bins at the grocery store, like with the grains and nuts and stuff. I think I paid like 14 cents for a scoop of them. Awesome. We used flour tortillas instead of corn, and I doubled the recipe for two of us.

tacos

Chickpea, Spinach, Feta, and Pepita Tacos
Epicurious, April 2011

I have to admit that making a vegetarian dinner is liberating. When I don't include meat, I feel entitled to splurge on other riches, in this case avocado and pumpkin seeds. Nonetheless, these veggie-packed tacos are proof that something can be hearty and healthful at the same time.

3 or 4 corn tortillas -- preferably homemade
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ancho chile
2 cloves garlic -- thinly sliced
1 small shallot lobe -- thinly sliced
1 small tomato -- chopped (or substitute 1/3 cup canned crushed tomatoes in their juices)
1/3 cup cooked chickpeas -- preferably homemade, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup lightly packed spinach leaves -- stacked, rolled, and thinly sliced
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 avocado -- peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 ounce feta cheese -- crumbled
1 tablespoon roasted pumpkin seeds -- (pepitas)
Hot pepper sauce -- such as Tabasco
1/2 lime

1. Warm the tortillas and wrap them in aluminum foil to keep warm.

2. Pour the oil into a medium skillet over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the ground ancho, stir to combine, and cook until it sizzles and becomes very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the garlic and shallot and cook until the vegetables start to soften and slightly brown, 4 to 6 minutes.

3. Stir in the tomato and chickpeas and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato softens and starts to break down. Add the spinach and cook until the spinach wilts, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Lay the tortillas out on a plate and divide the chickpea-spinach mixture among them. Top with the avocado and feta and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds. Dash a little Tabasco on each taco, squeeze the lime over them, and eat.

Note: To roast the pumpkin seeds, spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for 5 to 7 minutes, until the seeds are very fragrant. Immediately transfer to a plate to stop the cooking and allow the seeds to cool completely.

Panfried Tofu with Asian Caramel Sauce

I made this for dinner last night. Big slabs of tofu? Doesn't usually go over well in this house. But it was really good. I liked it a lot. He liked it except for the mint on top. He really hates fresh mint. I needed to add it to his to make it look good for the photo though, so that's just too bad.

I probably wouldn't make this again, but it was good.

tofu

Panfried Tofu with Asian Caramel Sauce
Gourmet, April 2007

I like to think of tofu as a blank canvas just waiting for the application of texture and color. Here, I've panfried it to crisp the edges and draped it in a velvety Vietnamese-style caramel sauce. A shower of fresh herbs and browned shallots gives it an extra layer of flavor. If you prep the herbs and make the sauce ahead, you can put this on the table in under half an hour.

1 14 oz block extra-firm tofu, rinsed
1/2 pound shallots (4-5 large)
1 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1 1/3 cups water plus 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
Accompaniment: cooked jasmine rice; steamed baby bok choy (optional); lime wedges

1. Drain tofu and fry shallots:
Halve tofu crosswise, then cut lengthwise into fourths to form 8 slices. Put tofu slices between several layers of paper towels to drain, replacing towels as needed, until ready to use.

2. Finely chop enough shallots to measure 1/2 cup and reserve. Cut remaining shallots crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and separate into rings. Heat oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then fry sliced shallots in 2 batches, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes per batch (watch closely, as shallots can burn easily). Quickly transfer shallots as fried with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon oil from skillet and reserve skillet.

3. Make sauce:
Cook sugar in a dry 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, undisturbed, until it melts around edges and begins to turn golden, then continue to cook, stirring, until all of sugar is melted and turns a golden caramel.

4. Add reserved chopped shallots (use caution; caramel will bubble up and steam vigorously) and cook, stirring, until shallots shrink and are very fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Stir in soy sauce, vinegar, and 1 1/3 cups water and simmer, stirring, until any hardened caramel is dissolved, about 1 minute.

5. Stir together cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons water until smooth, then stir into sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm, covered.

6. Panfry tofu:
Heat oil remaining in skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Meanwhile, blot any excess moisture remaining on tofu with paper towels, then add to hot oil in skillet in 1 layer. Fry tofu, turning over once, until golden and crisp, 7 to 10 minutes total. Transfer to clean paper towels to drain briefly.

7. Reheat sauce, then serve tofu topped with sauce, basil, mint, and fried shallots.

Shallots can be fried 1 day ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then kept at room temperature in an airtight container lined with paper towels.

Sauce can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, uncovered, until completely cooled, then covered. Reheat sauce over moderately low heat, thinning it with additional water if necessary.

Servings: 4

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Some Repeats

Last night I made Roasted Corn & Poblano Chowder. I believe the exact (edited for language) post I made on Twitter as the corn and peppers were roasting (and I had some downtime) was:

"F*** I FORGOT TO BUY POTATOES Ahhhhhhhh i figured this out once I was halfway through the f***ing recipe. S***. This will be terrible."

So, you may have guessed from that tweet that I didn't have potatoes. Luckily, I discovered I'd bought more corn than I needed so I just added all of it to bulk up the soup in place of the potatoes. It's better with potatoes, but it's still always awesome.

Then tonight I made Broccoli Alfredo, which is a recipe I've been making since my first apartment in college. It's so super easy and requires pretty much zero thought or cooking ability. Yet it's still really good. Since I didn't feel like making much tonight, it worked out very well.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Peanut Butter Pie

I was craving pie this past weekend, so I picked this peanut butter pie. It was very good. I took it for lunches this week. I really enjoyed it. It was best with the chocolate on top, so don't skip that.

Also of note is that I am grateful my grandfather passed on his genius skill for cutting a perfect slice of pie before he passed away, because now I am able to cut nice, neat slices. I love it!



Peanut Butter Pie
Cooking Light, December 2001
and CL Holiday Cookbook

Treat yourself to a light version of peanut butter pie. It tastes like eating a peanut butter and chocolate candy bar, but has only 8.2 grams of fat.

1 cup powdered sugar
8 ounces light cream cheese -- softened
1 cup natural-style -- reduced-fat creamy peanut butter (such as Smucker's)
14 ounces fat-free sweetened condensed milk
12 ounces frozen fat-free whipped topping -- thawed
2 9-inchs ready-made reduced-fat graham cracker shells
4 teaspoons fat-free chocolate sundae syrup

1. Combine the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add the condensed milk, and beat until combined. Stir in the whipped topping. Divide the mixture evenly between shells; chill 8 hours or until set (pies will have a soft, fluffy texture). Cut into wedges, and drizzle with chocolate syrup.

CL Note: We loved this pie frozen--its texture is more like that of an ice-cream pie.

Servings: 2 pies

Pasta al Pomodoro

Immediately when I saw this recipe posted on Epicurious, I decided to make it. It's super-simple and makes a nice, quick pasta sauce. Definitely takes way less time than our favorite marinara sauce (though surely not as good). It's nice for a quick spaghetti & sauce without having to use jarred sauce. We are fans. I might make it again.

pasta

Pasta Al Pomodoro
Bon Appétit, May 2011

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion -- minced
4 garlic cloves -- minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
28 ounces peeled tomatoes -- puréed in a food processor Kosher salt
3 large fresh basil sprigs
12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
2 tablespoons cubed unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino

1. Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a 12" skillet over medium-low heat. Add minced onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 2-4 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute more. Increase heat to medium, add puréed tomatoes and season lightly with kosher salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly and the flavors meld, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir in basil sprigs, and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a 5-quart pot. Season with salt; add spaghetti or bucatini and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.

3. Discard basil and heat skillet over high heat. Stir in reserved pasta water to loosen sauce; bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring, until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat; add butter and cheese; toss until cheese melts. Transfer to warm bowls; serve with more cheese, if desired.

Servings: 4

Tried & True Buttermilk Pancakes

The "tried & true" part is part of the recipe name. It is NOT my tried & true recipe (that one is here). This was an Emeril recipe and I had high hopes for it. It was not good. They were gluey and dense despite following the directions to a T. I was really disappointed. Boooo.

pancakes

Tried and True Buttermilk Pancakes
Emeril Lagasse

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk -- plus more for thinning
1 large egg -- beaten
1 tablespoon vegetable oil -- plus about 1/4 cup for the pan
4 ounces unsalted butter -- (1 stick) cut into teaspoons
Powdered sugar

1. nto a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add the buttermilk, the egg, and 1 tablespoon of oil, and stir just until blended, being careful not to over mix. (Lumps are okay.) Let the batter stand, covered, in the refrigerator, for at least 1 hour, and up to 8 hours. If necessary, thin with extra buttermilk after resting.

2. Preheat a large, heavy skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to lightly grease and leave a film on the bottom of the pan.

3. Working in batches, ladle the batter about 1/2 cup at a time into the pan. Cook until golden brown and bubbles start to form on the top, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and cover to keep warm.

4. To serve, divide the pancakes into stacks among 4 plates. Pour syrup over each stack and sprinkle with powdered sugar and pass the butter at the table. Serve immediately.

Yield: 12 to 15 medium pancakes

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hot Chile Grilled Cheese

Well this was a quick and delicious sandwich. I really liked it. It isn't as spicy as it would seem to be, and it was just very delicious overall. I was lazy so I used some vegetarian refried beans instead of mashing up some pinto beans. That worked out very well because it helped the sandwich to stick together better than it would have otherwise. We would make this again.

chiles

Hot Chile Grilled Cheese
Eating Well

This deconstructed version of a chile relleno turned sandwich packs some heat and an ooey-gooey filling. We like the flavor of sourdough, but any kind of bread will work well.

4 poblano peppers
14 ounces pinto beans -- preferably low-sodium
3 tablespoons prepared salsa
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt
3 scallions -- sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
8 slices sourdough bread

1. Place peppers in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on High until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Let stand, covered, until cool enough to handle.

2. Meanwhile, combine beans, salsa and salt in a medium bowl. Mash the beans with a fork until they begin to form a paste (some can remain whole). Combine cheese, yogurt, scallions and cilantro in a small bowl.

3. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, slice each one in half lengthwise and remove the stem and seeds.

4. Heat a panini maker to high. (No panini maker? See Stovetop Variation, below.)

5. Spread 1/3 cup of the bean mixture on each of 4 slices of bread. Top with a heaping tablespoon of the cheese mixture. Place 2 pepper halves over the cheese. Cover with the remaining slices of bread.

6. Grill the sandwiches in the panini maker until golden brown and through, about 4 minutes. Cut in half and serve immediately.

Servings: 4

Stovetop Variation: Place four 15-ounce cans and a medium skillet (not nonstick) by the stove. Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 2 sandwiches in the pan. Place the medium skillet on top of the sandwiches, then weight it down with the cans. Cook the sandwiches until golden on one side, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, flip the sandwiches, replace the top skillet and cans, and cook until the second side is golden, 1 to 3 minutes more. Repeat with another 1 teaspoon oil and the remaining 2 sandwiches.

Albuquerque Corn Salad

I saw some jicama in the grocery store the other day so I thought this might be something interesting to try out as a side dish along with a sandwich. It was quick to make, but it was just eh. It was definitely not anything special. We would not make this again.

jicama

Albuquerque Corn Salad
Cooking Light, August 2008

Farmers' markets overflow with corn this time of year; this Southwestern-accented salad is a delicious way to use the bounty. Because the corn is so fresh, all it needs is a quick sauté. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with cilantro sprigs.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2/3 cup chopped jicama
1 tablespoon minced jalapeño pepper
2 cups fresh corn kernels -- (about 4 ears)
1 3/4 cups thinly sliced green onions -- (about 8 onions)
2/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add jicama and jalapeño to pan; sauté 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add corn and remaining ingredients; sauté 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Servings: 4

Vegetable Sushi

For some reason I was in the mood for sushi, so I made these vegetable rolls. They are obviously very versatile since you could pretty much put any mix of vegetables in it. I left onions out of mine. We really liked them but agreed that the sauce was boring and really this is the kind of thing that doesn't require a recipe. I will also be honest and admit that instead of making my own sushi rice, I bought some microwave sushi rice. It saved time and was not noticeably different. So. Shush. I also omitted the ginger entirely, and I used a tube of pre-made wasabi because my wasabi powder was not cooperating.

sushi
Here is a picture of me, rolling up sushi. You will need a bamboo roller for this process to go well.

sushi

sushi

Vegetable Sushi
Barefoot Contessa

1 1/4 lbs sushi rice (2 3/4 cups)
3 cups water
1/4 cup mirin, plus additional for moistening nori
5 sheets nori (1 package)
4 tsp wasabi powder, mixed with 2 teaspoons water
1/2 cup small-diced red onion
1 carrot, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
1 scallion, julienned (green part only)
1 hothouse cucumber, seeded and julienned
1 (10-ounce) jar pickled ginger

Sushi Dipping Sauce:
1/2 tsp wasabi powder
1/4 tsp water
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp minced pickled ginger
1 tsp minced scallion (green part only)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp good soy sauce
1/2 tsp dark sesame oil

1. Place the rice in a strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water is fairly clear, about 5 minutes. Shake the water out and allow the rice to dry in the strainer for 15 minutes.
Put the rice in a pot with exactly 3 cups of water and cook covered over high heat until it starts to foam, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and sprinkle with 1/4 cup mirin. Replace the lid and allow the rice to steam for 15 minutes. Place in a bowl and cool to room temperature.

2. To prepare the sushi, place a bamboo sushi roller flat on a table with the bamboo reeds horizontal to you. Sprinkle lightly with water. Place 1 nori sheet on top, smooth side down, and moisten lightly with mirin. With damp hands, press 1 1/4 cups rice flat on top of the nori, leaving 1 1/2-inch edges on the top and bottom, but pressing all the way to the sides. Make sure the rice is pressed even and smooth.

3. Spread 1/4 teaspoon of wasabi paste in a horizontal stripe near the lower edge of the rice. Over the wasabi, lightly sprinkle the red onions in a horizontal stripe. Place strips of carrots in a horizontal stripe, on top of the wasabi and onions, and follow by piling the red and yellow peppers, scallions, and cucumbers on top, making a tight, straight bundle of vegetables. Place 1 layer of pickled ginger slices on top.

4. To roll the sushi, pick up the near edge of the bamboo roller and hold it with the nori, then pull them up and over the vegetable bundle until the nori reaches the rice on the other side. Press the roller to make a round bundle, then roll the bundle to the far edge of the nori and press again to make a round bundle. (The nori should totally enclose the rice and vegetables in a round tube, but the ends will have rice and vegetables sticking out.) Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients. Keep the rolls under a damp towel and refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, slice off the ends with a very sharp knife and slice each roll into 8 equal pieces.

5. Meanwhile, for the sushi dipping sauce, combine the wasabi powder and water to make a paste. Mix in the red pepper flakes, ginger, scallions, vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Serve the sushi at room temperature with the dipping sauce.

Yield: 40

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Farmhouse

In celebration of my new job, Gibby graduating, my friend's birthday, and his partner helping me to get the aforementioned new job, we took the two friends out to dinner at The Farmhouse in Emmaus, PA. The Farmhouse is on our Restaurant Challenge, which now brings us to 10 at which we have eaten.

This restaurant was unique in that it uses largely locally grown foods and cheeses, and cooks them so wonderfully. We were absolutely thrilled to finally find a super-nice restaurant that was super-delicious. I had a wonderful mushroom spring roll with tea-infused black rice and spring vegetables. It was amazing. Even the green tea I got in place of dessert was amazing.

And the wine. Can't forget my delicious wine. That's not true. I can't remember what it was other than "chardonnay." But it was great.

We had a really nice time and enjoyed the ambience and the environment. The waitstaff was great, the food all came out on time and as ordered, and it was entirely not at all disappointing. Two thumbs up!

Tuna Casserole

I have a whole bunch of egg noodles that I bought on sale so I wanted to use them up, and this sounded like a really nice way to do it. It's a revisiting of traditional tuna casserole. I lightened it by using significantly less butter (even for the roux), half and half instead of whole milk, low-fat cheese, and panko instead of regular bread crumbs. God, the panko was a great choice. It made for an extra delicious topping.

I thought this was really great, which means a lot since I am so finicky with tuna and stuff. He wasn't very impressed, other than with the topping. I suspect it may have been because of the mushrooms, but whatever. Win some, lose some. This is another recipe to go in the "worth keeping" folder.

casserole

Tuna Noodle Casserole
Gourmet, May 2004

My mother came from a long line of New England women who cooked from scratch, but with four kids in the early 1950s, she quickly embraced canned cream of mushroom soup as the all-purpose binding sauce for casseroles, which were the backbone of her meal planning. Tuna noodle was the hands-down family favorite, which was a boon to my mother because she could make everyone happy with the contents of two cans (tuna and soup) and a partial box of egg noodles. When I'm feeling nostalgic, I make it for my own family. I have to admit I now prepare it with my own sauce, embellishing it with extra mushrooms and a little Sherry for flavor.

1 medium onion -- finely chopped
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 ounces mushrooms -- trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick (4 cups)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup Sherry
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces tuna in olive oil -- drained
6 ounces dried curly egg noodles -- (preferably Pennsylvania Dutch style; about 3 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs -- (from 3 slices firm white sandwich bread)
4 ounces coarsely grated Cheddar -- (1 cup)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish.

2. Cook onion in 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with a pinch of salt in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to moderately high and add mushrooms, then sauté, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to give off liquid, about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce and continue to sauté mushrooms, stirring, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated. Add Sherry and boil, stirring occasionally, until evaporated. Remove from heat.

3. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat and whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add broth in a stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking. Whisk in milk and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture, lemon juice, and salt. Flake tuna into sauce and stir gently. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

4. Cook noodles in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain noodles in a colander and return to pot. Add sauce and stir gently to combine. Transfer mixture to baking dish, spreading evenly.

5. Toss together bread crumbs and cheese in a bowl. Drizzle with oil and toss again, then sprinkle evenly over casserole. Bake until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling, 20 to 30 minutes.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Chorizo and Potatoes Tinga

Remember what I told you about how I injure myself with box graters? Did it again on this one. That's ok. I didn't die.

This is a really lovely little stew type thing. It's wicked spicy so adjust it to your taste. We were very happy with the amount of spicy, especially from the chipotle powder. Delicious. We used a chipotle-spiced vegetarian grain sausage (not real chorizo, obviously) and it was wonderful. I really liked this. I'd keep it around.

tinga

Chorizo and Potatoes Tinga
Vegetarian Times, May 2009

Tinga, a hearty Pueblan stew seasoned with smoked chiles, can be served on its own or as a filling for tacos or enchiladas.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
6 oz diced soy chorizo sausage, such as El Burrito Soyrizo (1 cup)
1 medium onion, sliced (1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.), divided
4 medium boiling potatoes, such as red-skinned, peeled and grated (2 cups)
3 15 oz. cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
3/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese, optional

1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add soy chorizo, onion, and 2 tsp. garlic, and cook 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Meanwhile, place grated potatoes in colander; squeeze out any liquid. Add potatoes to chorizo mixture, and cook 10 minutes, or until potatoes begin to brown, stirring often to scrape up brown bits.

3. Add liquid from diced tomatoes to pot, scraping up any bits from bottom. Stir in tomatoes, oregano, sugar, chipotle chile powder, ancho chile powder, and remaining 2 tsp. garlic. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 45 minutes, or until sauce is thick. Garnish with avocado and cheese, if using.

Servings: 8

Spring Turnip Frittata

I have not updated this in almost a week and I apologize. I have been able to cook several times, but I didn't have time to update. So we're going to play a little bit of catch up. I made this last Tuesday-ish for dinner and brought the leftovers for lunch the next day. Yummy for dinner, not so great warmed up. The turnips are not very noticable. We used broccolini because I like it better than broccoli rabe. I also advise you to follow the tip at the end of the recipe about box graters, because I never EVER fail to grate myself at some point. I did it with the turnips, and I did it the next night with shredded potatoes. It's a good thing I keep band-aids in the kitchen.

So this was a yummy spring meal but I'm not sure we'd make it again.

turnips

Spring Turnip Frittata
Eating Well, March/April 2011

Broccoli rabe and turnips are a fantastic pair in this frittata. If you’re shy about the broccoli rabe’s strong flavor, try this frittata with milder broccolini instead.

Ingredients
8 ounces broccoli rabe or broccolini -- (about 1/2 bunch) trimmed
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt -- divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil -- divided
3 1/2 cups shredded peeled turnips -- (about 2 medium; see Tip)
1/2 cup chopped onion
8 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup shredded fontina or Cheddar cheese

Procedure
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add broccoli rabe (or broccolini) and cook until very tender, about 5 minutes for broccoli rabe (or 6 to 7 minutes for broccolini). Drain well. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the turnips, onion and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread and pat the mixture into an even layer; cook, without stirring, for 2 minutes. Then stir the mixture and scrape up any browned bits. Pat the mixture back into an even layer and continue cooking, without stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir again, spread back into an even layer and cook until mostly golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes more. Transfer to a plate. Wash and dry the pan.

4. Whisk eggs, egg whites and milk in a medium bowl. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the pan over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and cook, stirring briefly, until beginning to set, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Spoon the turnip mixture evenly over the eggs. Top with cheese, then the broccoli rabe (or broccolini).

5. Transfer the pan to the oven. Bake the frittata until set, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand 5 minutes. To release the frittata from the pan, run a flexible rubber spatula along the edges then underneath, until you can slide it out onto a cutting board or serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve.

Servings: 6

Tip: To prevent nicking your fingers on the sharp holes of a box grater while shredding round root vegetables, such as turnips or beets, shred about half the vegetable, then use a clean dish towel to grip the remaining half (and protect your fingers) as you shred. Or, use the shredding blade on your food processor and let the machine do the work for you.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Garden Po'Boy

I've had this recipe for awhile and decided to make it yesterday since it was a good time to start up the grill. This really isn't very different from any other grilled vegetable sandwich, which we've had many of over the years, although this one has delicious Boursin cheese spread on the bread. It was definitely delicious but I wouldn't consider it a "make again" because it's pretty basic.

poboy

Garden Po’ Boy
Vegetarian Times, May 2005

New Orleans folks cut crisp French bread in half, remove some of the soft bread center and fill that hollow with anything good to eat. The easiest way to grill vegetables is with a grill basket. It looks like a square metal bowl with lots of holes in it. This lets you to toss the vegetables freely without having them fall in the fire.

18 jumbo asparagus stems or smaller asparagus
4 large carrots -- peeled and sliced lengthwise
6 scallions
3 large red onions -- sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 red bell peppers -- quartered
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 18-inchs French baguettes or 6 submarine rolls
8 ounces Boursin cheese or herbed goat cheese

1. Prepare medium charcoal fire, or preheat gas grill to medium.

2. Snap off ends of asparagus. Using vegetable basket, grill asparagus on all sides until done. Set aside.

3. Grill carrot slices and scallions in basket until done. When finished, grill onion slices and bell peppers. All vegetables should be cooked through and lightly charred.

4. Meanwhile, mix oil, garlic, salt and pepper in bowl. Pour over hot grilled vegetables. Toss gently.

5. Cut bread in half lengthwise. Tear out about one-third of interior to hollow it slightly. Spread bottom and top with cheese. Divide vegetables evenly on bottom parts of bread, and drizzle with any olive oil marinade left in bowl.

6. Place tops on loaves, and press lightly. Cut each baguette into 3 equal sections.

Servings: 6

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Filling

At my new job, there are two Laurens (myself being one of them) who are in training. We are both Lauren G, same height, brown hair. To tell us apart, one of the people at work started calling me Debbie. Then someone heard that and said, "Debbie? Like the cupcake?" And then they started introducing me as Cupcake. I doubt it will last, but now that my week of training with that particular team is over, I made cupcakes as a thank you. I'm never one to shy away from poking fun at myself. Plus it was fun to try out a filled cupcake.

Now, I made the mistake of refrigerating the cupcakes after I made them yesterday so they would be fresh and sturdy today. Doing this made the cream filling absorb into the cupcake. I was very disappointed by that and I was very worried that my coworkers would hate them. There's a lot of pressure, making food for new coworkers for the first time! But it turned out that they LOVED them. In fact, I got yelled at for bringing the rest of the cupcakes home with me instead of leaving them on the desk for people too get after their workday. Haha!

cupcake

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Filling
Food & Wine

1/2 cup cake flour
2 tablespoons cake flour
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
2 large eggs -- separated
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons unsalted butter -- softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup Marshmallow Fluff
1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon heavy cream
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate -- finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter -- softened

1. MAKE THE CUPCAKES: Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 12-cup nonstick muffin pan with vegetable oil spray. In a medium bowl, sift the flour and cocoa with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the canola oil, 1/2 cup of the sugar and the water. Beat in the dry ingredients at low speed until smooth.

2. In a clean bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Beat one-fourth of the whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them halfway. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cupcakes are springy when touched. Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

3. MAKE THE FILLING: In a medium bowl, beat the butter with the confectioners' sugar, Marshmallow Fluff and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the heavy cream at medium speed until fluffy. Transfer all but 1/2 cup of the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain round tip. Beat the remaining 1 teaspoon of cream into the remaining 1/2 cup of filling and reserve.

4. Line a large baking sheet with wax paper. Insert the tip of the pastry bag about 1/2 inch deep into the bottom of each cupcake; squeeze lightly to fill with cream. Set the cupcakes on the sheet.

5. MAKE THE FROSTING: Heat the cream in a small saucepan until steaming. Add the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Spread the top of each cupcake with the frosting. Spoon the reserved filling into a pastry bag fitted with a very small plain tip and pipe decorative swirls on each cupcake. Refrigerate the cupcakes for at least 10 minutes to set the frosting.

Servings: 12

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Paolo's

Today my mother-in-law visited so we went out to dinner. We decided to knock another restaurant off the Restaurant Challenge (our 9th!) so we tried out Paolo's in Northampton.

Well, it's in a strip mall next to a Family Dollar and a Subway. But that's okay. Maybe it's awesome. Well... not quite. I mean, it's definitely upscale compared to many restaurants in this area. But just because your food costs more than Red Robin does not mean it is a fine dining establishment. This restaurant was definitely way better than Miguel's, but there is no way I would ever include it on a "top 25" best restaurants in the Lehigh Valley.

We're fairly certain at this point that the person who compiled the list was taking kickbacks to include some of these restaurants. Seriously.

Will that stop us? No. We're in the middle of a challenge! We must continue this. Unless a restaurant on the list closes before we get to it, we are still going to eat at all of them!