Thursday, June 28, 2012

Roasted Potato Salad with Cantaloupe

What a completely bizarre salad, this is. Cantaloupe, potatoes, and soy chorizo? But I figured that since I love all the components, I might as well see what it's like. And that turned out to be a very good idea, because this was oddly delicious. I actually really liked it a lot. I had halved the recipe but ate the whole thing. It is a nice, spicy, summery salad. I would make this again.

melon

Roasted Potato Salad with Cantaloupe
Vegetarian Times, June 2012

Serve this warm main-dish potato salad on a bed of watercress or arugula, which will wilt slightly from the potatoes' heat.

3 pounds small red potatoes, cut into eighths
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 6 oz soy chorizo sausage
1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cantaloupe, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (2 cups)
1 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400. Toss potatoes with 2 tablespoons oil in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Spread on baking sheet, and roast 40 minutes, or until tender and browned, stirring once or twice.

2. Meanwhile, remove chorizo from casing and crumble into large skillet. Add 1 tablespoon oil and saute over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, or until chorizo is browned and crispy. Add onion and garlic, reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes more, or until onion softens. Transfer to bowl, and stir in potatoes.

3. Whisk together remaining 2 tablespoons oil, sherry, and vinegar in small bowl. Add to potatoes, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Gently stir in cantaloupe chunks and chopped parsley. Serve warm.

Servings: 6

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ultimate Double Chocolate Brownies

Last night I was preparing to make dinner, which means I was watching Mad Men on my couch, and I just did not feel like eating real dinner. What's a girl to do? Make a tray of brownies, that's what. So I did. No, I did not eat the whole tray. Yes, I did eat three in lieu of dinner.

This recipe caught my eye because it does not involve a double boiler or a mixer, and I just didn't have the energy for either of those. It also just uses one bowl. And it has such a bizarre order of adding ingredients. I followed the instructions exactly, and I swear that despite the weird changes in texture, you will end up with a perfect brownie batter. I did not add nuts because I feel like nuts do not belong in my brownies, but I did add chocolate chunks.

If you are trying not to burn the brownies, I would suggest baking it for about 1 minute less than what it recommends and then checking from there. I baked it for 34 minutes and that was all it needed for me. These are delicious, but a tad crispy. Not burned. Just crisp. Some people dig that. If you're an "edge" kind of brownie person, you will really like these. If you are a "middle," then you're SOL. And if you're like me, where you just really want to eat any kind of brownie at all, then these are perfect.

brownies

Ultimate Double Chocolate Brownies
Country Woman/Taste of Home, January/February 1994
Contest Winning

3/4 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup butter -- melted, divided
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour -- (1-1/3)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks -- (12 ounces)

1. In a large bowl, combine cocoa and baking soda; blend 1/3 cup melted butter. Add boiling water; stir until well blended. Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining butter. Add flour, vanilla salt. Stir in the pecans and chocolate chunks.

2. Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool. Yield: 3 dozen.

Servings: 36

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Two Potato and Beet Hash with Poached Eggs and Greens

Another pinterest recipe! Finally a major success. I used three different tiny beets - golden, red, and chioggia. What are chioggia beets, you ask? My new favorite variety of beets, that's what.

beet

I read the reviews of this recipe on MyRecipes and nearly everyone said it took a lot longer for the beets and potatoes to cook than they had anticipated. I immediately thought of THIS RECIPE, where I roasted beets and potatoes in the oven. So I printed that out and adapted it. What I ended up doing was roasting the beets with some olive oil, salt, and pepper at 450 for 20 minutes.

beets

I then added the potato and sweet potato for another 10 minutes of roasting. By then, everything was cooked but still crisp. Then I picked up where the actual recipe starts, by tossing it all into a pan with some sage, salt, and pepper.

I had never poached eggs before so that was a scary moment in life, but it worked out beautifully. I over-cooked them on purpose because runny yolks freak me out, so they ended up perfectly delicious.

This entire thing was just wonderful. It was a wonderful dinner. I didn't make a vinaigrette for my greens (I just used bottled) and that makes zero difference in the long run. This was easy and great and I would definitely make it again.

eggs

Two Potato and Beet Hash with Poached Eggs and Greens
Cooking Light, October 2010

To save time, you can purchase precooked, vacuum-packed beets at many markets in the produce section.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil -- divided
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 cups cubed peeled Yukon gold potato -- (about 3/4 pound)
2 cups cubed peeled sweet potato -- (about 3/4 pound)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage -- divided
3 garlic cloves -- minced
1 cup cubed peeled cooked beets -- (about 1/2 pound)
1/2 teaspoon salt -- divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper -- divided
5 teaspoons red wine vinegar -- divided
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
6 cups torn frisée or curly endive

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté for 5 minutes or until tender and golden brown. Add potatoes, 2 teaspoons sage, and garlic; cook for 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in beets, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add water to a large skillet, filling two-thirds full. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar. Break each egg into a custard cup, and pour gently into pan. Cook for 3 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove eggs from pan using a slotted spoon. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon sage evenly over eggs.

3. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 2 teaspoons vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon sage, and mustard in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add frisée; toss to coat. Serve with hash and eggs.

Servings: 4

Friday, June 22, 2012

Roasted Vegetable and Refried Bean Tostadas

I made this the other day from fresh vegetables from the farmer's market, including mushrooms from Primordia Mushroom Farm in Lenhartsville, PA. I love them so much. They have amazing mushrooms at the market every week. Anywho, this recipe should have been awesome but in reality was totally boring. I even spiced it up with some hot sauce, and it was still pretty boring. It was a good dinner but I wouldn't make it again.

tostada

Roasted Vegetable and Refried Bean Tostadas
Real Simple, May 2012

10 ounces button mushrooms -- trimmed and quartered
2 zucchini -- (about 1 pound) thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers -- cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt
8 corn tortillas
15 ounces refried beans
4 ounces Cheddar -- grated (1 cup)
sour cream -- fresh cilantro leaves, and hot sauce, for serving

Heat oven to 450° F. On 2 rimmed baking sheets, toss the mushrooms, zucchini, and bell peppers with 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Roast, tossing once and rotating the sheets halfway through, until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.

Place the tortillas on the baking sheets. Dividing evenly, brush with the remaining tablespoon of oil, spread with the refried beans, and sprinkle with the Cheddar. Bake until the beans are warm and the Cheddar is melted, 5 to 7 minutes. Top with the vegetables, sour cream, cilantro, and hot sauce.

Servings: 4

Monday, June 18, 2012

Beet, Arugula, and Goat Cheese Grilled Cheese

Every week at the farmer's market, I stop by the Cranberry Creek Farm goat cheese tent and I try a different sample, hoping that some day I would find a goat cheese that I liked. I don't know why I feel it's important to like it. I think it's just the idea that I feel like everything can taste good if it's just made a certain way or served a certain way and I don't like generally writing off a food as something I dislike. So this week I finally decided to buy the herb-garlic flavor. It isn't bad. It's tolerable to eat in small quantities. Should be fine.

So I made this with fresh country bread, beets, and arugula - all from the farmer's market. I also decided to skip the sherry and use balsamic instead. I didn't saute the beets, I just sprinkled it with balsamic when it came out of the oven.

Surprise: It was GOOD! I didn't LOVE the goat cheese, but I also didn't hate it. I ate my sandwich and I enjoyed it. I love roasted beets and I love grilled cheese sandwiches, and it worked out to be a good preparation of goat cheese. Hooray! Success! Doubt I'd make this again though, but at least I know I can!

goats

Beet, Arugula & Goat Cheese Grilled Cheese
BS' In the Kitchen via Pinterest

1-2 beets
Olive oil
Arugula
Goat cheese
Butter
French bread
1/2 ounce sherry (optional)
Salt

1. Start off by roasting the beets by your preferred method, such as skinning them with a paring knife, slicing them evenly, tossing them in some olive oil and salt, then baking at 375°F for 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

2. Once the beets have cooked to your desired tenderness (poke them with a fork or taste a few slices), take them out of the oven and in a pan on medium-high heat, quickly fry them with about a ½ ounce of sherry wine, cooking until evaporated. You could also try cooking them in some red/white wine or some balsamic vinegar, as I think they would add some nice flavours to the beets.

3. Once you have finished frying the beets, slice up your bread, butter each side, lay down some arugula, a little bit of goat cheese, then your beets and some more goat cheese, and slap it together!

4. Fry the sandwich in a pan on medium heat until each side is golden brown, then sliced it in half and enjoy!

Roasted Carrots

At the farmer's market, I bought a big bunch of rainbow carrots - red, purple, orange, white - and then decided I should probably roast them. I used this recipe from Ina Garten but I used less olive oil than is called for, and I didn't even bother adding the dill. It was wonderful! I loved this preparation. I would make this again as an easy side dish.

carrots

Roasted Carrots
Barefoot Contessa

12 carrots
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill or parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

If the carrots are thick, cut them in half lengthwise; if not, leave whole. Slice the carrots diagonally in 1 1/2-inch-thick slices. (The carrots will shrink while cooking so make the slices big.) Toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a sheet pan in 1 layer and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until browned and tender.

Toss the carrots with minced dill or parsley, season to taste, and serve.

Servings: 6

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Strawberry-Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

The farmer's market has been full of berries these past couple of weeks and I couldn't help buying a big container of strawberries and rhubarb from Beechwood Orchards last week. I looked through my recipes and determined that I didn't have enough of either (even combined) to make a pie, so I pulled out this old recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars from a few years ago. I really liked it when I made it the first time. Despite my note on the original post, I skipped the glaze. I KNOW RIGHT. But it really didn't need it. I swear. It was already sweet enough to begin with. My companion for the evening, Shawn M, rates it a 5/5 in deliciousness. Hooray!

OF NOTE: I ran out of brown sugar in the middle of making this and I panicked. Then I googled. Here is what I learned from Cookie Madness: If you run out of brown sugar, you can use 1 cup white sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons of molasses, and then just use that ratio for whatever amount of brown sugar you need. It worked perfectly and I didn't even notice the difference. CRISIS AVERTED.

Campanelle with Walnuts, Ricotta, and Lemon

I had plans last night so I wanted a fairly quick, but filling, dinner. I also wanted an excuse to use more of my ricotta from Keepsake Farms because it's great. For some reason I have a ton of bizarre pasta shapes in my basement, including campanelle (little trumpets!). I did not wait an hour and a half before serving. Sue me. I reduced the amount of olive oil as well, because that's a lot of olive oil. And I used hazelnuts instead of walnuts because that's what I had. It was pretty good. I saved the pasta, sans ricotta, for lunch today (and maybe tomorrow). I don't think I'd go so far as to make this again, but that's okay. It was pretty good.

pasta

Campanelle with Walnuts, Ricotta, and Lemon
Martha Stewart Living, May 2012

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound campanelle pasta
1 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves -- divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley stems -- (from 1 small bunch)
2 heaping tablespoons finely grated lemon zest -- (from 3 large lemons)
4 ounces walnuts -- toasted well and roughly chopped (1 1/4 cups)
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese

1. Heat oil in a medium pan over medium heat until shimmering. Meanwhile, very thinly slice garlic with a mandoline (you should have 1/4 cup). Add to oil, and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is pale golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain garlic chips in a sieve set over a large bowl (reserve oil). Spread garlic chips on paper towels; season with salt.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until just barely al dente. Drain. Add pasta to oil, and toss. Partially cover, and let cool at least 20 minutes and up to 1 1/2 hours.

3. Roughly chop 3/4 cup parsley leaves, and add them with parsley stems, lemon zest, and walnuts to pasta. Toss to combine. Dot with cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine, being careful not to fully incorporate cheese. Garnish with remaining parsley leaves, and serve with garlic chips.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Quinoa with Edamame, Parm, and Egg

Another Pinterest recipe! Oh god, it's an addiction. For once, this is a recipe that does not involve cream cheese. In fact, it really doesn't involve much of anything. It's just very basic and simple. You know I love everything fried egg-related, so I did enjoy this. I always make my eggs over hard because I don't like runny yolks at all, though I do understand why that is suggested. This is good but it is pretty bland and basic. I had it with some Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Browned-Butter, which mixed in with the quinoa and made it a little more flavorful. I doubt I would make this again.

quinoa

Quinoa with Edamame, Parm, and Egg
These Peas Are Hollow, via Pinterest

1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup shelled, cooked edamame
1/2 ounce shaved parmigiano reggiano
1 extra-large egg
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for frying egg
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced

1. In a bowl, mix together the quinoa and edamame, and toss with one teaspoon of olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Fry the egg until whites are set, but yolk is still runny (this will make a nice little sauce for your quinoa). Season egg with salt and pepper.

2. Sprinkle the cheese over the quinoa and top with the hot fried egg. Serve with the sliced avocado, drizzled with a bit of olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Servings: 1

Friday, June 15, 2012

Jalapeno Popper Dip

On Tuesday, my women's group had a wine & appetizer gathering. I couldn't decide what to make, but everyone likes cheese so I picked this dip to try. It took about 10 minutes to make from start to finish. I took it to the party with some garlic crostini, and I came home with exactly one bite left. I was afraid it would be too spicy but everyone said it was really good! I'm very happy! It didn't remind me of jalapeno poppers, but I still really liked it. I would make this again for parties.

dip

Jalapeno Popper Dip
Closet Cooking

1 8 oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano
1 4 ounce can sliced jalapenos (pickled)
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmigiano-Reggiano

1. Mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, parmigiano reggiano and jalapenos in a bowl and pour into a baking dish.

2. Mix the panko bread crumbs and parmigiano reggiano and sprinkle over the dip.

3. Bake in a 375F oven until bubbling on the sides and golden brown on top, about 10-20 minutes.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pappardelle with Leeks, Sugar Snap Peas, and Lemon

I made this Monday night and had high expectations for it. I had some amazing sugar snap peas from the farmer's market, fresh ricotta from the dairy, and fresh pappardelle. The first thing that went wrong is that my leeks were no good. I scrambled around and found some broccoli I'd picked up at the farmer's market and used that instead. That worked just fine. To make up for the lack of flavor from the leeks, I chopped up some more of the garlic scapes and threw those in. The vegetables were not the problem.

Between adding the pasta water and the ricotta, something went terribly wrong (as usual) and I somehow ended up with a goopy mess (as usual). I didn't sub anything, I didn't use anything low-fat... I have no idea why this happens when I try to make a creamy sauce with pasta. Thus, this was not tasty. Can anyone provide pointers on what I'm doing wrong here?

pappardelle

Pappardelle with Leeks, Sugar Snap Peas, and Lemon
Martha Stewart Living, April 2012

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 ounces unsalted butter
2 medium leeks -- (white and pale-green parts only) cut into thin half-moons and rinsed well
2 lemons
1/2 pound sugar snap peas -- trimmed and cut in half crosswise (optional)
3/4 pound dried pappardelle or other flat egg noodles
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese -- grated (3/4 cup)

1. While bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and a pinch of salt; cook until leeks begin to soften and are bright in color, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 5 more minutes. Turn off heat. Finely grate zest of lemons directly into skillet, and season generously with pepper.

2. When water boils, add sugar snap peas to boiling water, and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes. Transfer peas to a plate using a strainer.

3. Add pasta to boiling water, and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes (do not drain water). Transfer pasta to skillet using the strainer. Add sugar snap peas. Gradually stir in 1 cup pasta water, about 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with ricotta and half the Pecorino and tossing until pasta is coated and sauce is creamy.

4. Divide among 4 bowls, and top with remaining grated cheese.

Servings: 4

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Grilled Fontina, Mushroom, and Arugula Sandwiches

To go along with the fruity salad I had on Sunday night, I also made these sandwiches, made with fresh mushrooms and arugula from the farmer's market. It was okay. Pretty good. Nothing particularly exciting. Not nearly as good as some of the other grilled fontina sandwiches I've made. I would eat this again but I probably wouldn't make it again.

I recognize that they're a little toasty. Leave me alone. It was just one of those days.

sandwich

Grilled Fontina, Mushroom, and Arugula Sandwiches
Bon Appetit, August 2001

6 tablespoons olive oil -- (about)
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
4 very large portobello mushrooms -- stemmed, dark gills removed, caps thinly sliced
8 1/2 -inch-thick slices country white bread -- (each about 3x6 inches)
Dijon mustard -- (optional)
8 ounces Fontina cheese -- thinly sliced
2 bunches arugula or 1 bunch trimmed watercress

1. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add rosemary and stir 30 seconds. Add mushrooms. Cover skillet and cook until mushrooms are tender, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Season mushrooms to taste with salt and pepper; transfer to plate. Wipe out skillet.

2. Arrange 4 bread slices on work surface; spread with mustard, if desired. Top bread slices with cheese, then mushrooms and arugula, dividing equally. Top each with bread slice; press to compact. Brush tops lightly with oil.

3. Heat reserved skillet over medium heat. Place sandwiches, oiled side down, in skillet. Brush tops lightly with oil. Cover and cook until golden on bottom, occasionally pressing with spatula, about 5 minutes. Turn sandwiches over. Cover and cook until golden on bottom and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer sandwiches to plates; cut in half and serve.

Servings: 4

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mesclun Salad with Berries and Sweet Spiced Almonds

I loaded up my farmers market bag with fruit and vegetables on Saturday with no meal plan in sight. So then I had to scramble to figure out ways to use everything up. I had a whole big thing of raspberries, most of which I ate while watching TV, and tons of greens, so I decided to try this salad. I didn't make the spicy-sweet almonds. In fact, I don't even have the recipe for it, so I'm going to google it for you and then link to it in the recipe. Instead, I used Sahale Soledad Almonds, which were probably a totally acceptable stand-in. I bought a bunch of garlic scapes for $1 so I threw them into this instead of the chives (and have subsequently used them in nearly everything else I've made). It was very tasty. Go light on the dressing. I really enjoyed it! What a nice, summery salad.

[EDIT: HERE is the recipe for the almonds.]

salad

Mesclun with Berries and Sweet Spiced Almonds
Cooking Light, May 2008

Raspberries add bright color and several good-for-you nutrients like fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C. Almonds are a good source of vitamin E and monounsaturated fats. Chives, members of the onion family, add phenols and flavonoids.

5 cups gourmet salad greens
1 3/4 cups raspberries -- (about 1 [6-ounce] container)
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
3 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon country-style Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
6 tablespoons Sweet Spiced Almonds

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine vinegar and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a small bowl. Gradually add oil, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle vinegar mixture over lettuce mixture; toss gently to coat. Arrange 1 cup salad on each of 6 plates; top each serving with 1 tablespoon Sweet Spiced Almonds.

Servings: 6

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lemon Shandy

Summertime, and the livin' is easy...

shandy

Lemon Shandy
Gourmet, July 1996

Shandy — a drink made of beer mixed with lemonade, ginger ale or ginger beer — first appeared in Britain in the mid-nineteenth century. Guests can, of course, quaff the beer and lemonade separately.

1 cup sugar
3 cups water
four 3-inch strips lemon zest -- removed with a vegetable peeler
1 cup fresh lemon juice
2 fresh mint sprigs
Chilled beer -- such as pale ale

1. In a small saucepan bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved, and stir in zest. Cool sugar syrup to room temperature.

2. Transfer syrup to a small pitcher and stir in remaining 2 cups water, lemon juice, and mint. Chill lemonade until cold. (Makes about 4 1/2 cups lemonade.)

3. Pour 1/4 cup lemonade, or to taste, into each of 4 chilled beer glasses and top off with beer.

Servings: 4

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Feta-Olive Salad

Something I pride myself on with this blog is that I don't really make an effort to fancify food for pictures. I don't do backdrops, I don't adjust camera levels (as if I knew how to do that to begin with), and I am fully aware that the food I make, for the most part, does not look appetizing. But I DO make an effort to at least show you what I have made and present it in a way that conveys what it is.

When I do a make-again, that is not my focus, since I don't post pictures for repeats. I decided I should show you what happens when I make Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Feta-Olive Salad for myself (which I do, frequently, since I love it so much):

tato

Where is the potato? Why is everything just glopped on the plate? The answer is that none of that matters. It is all mushed up and messy but it is perfectly delicious, and that is exactly how food should be.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Black Bean & Chipotle Tostadas

Last night's dinner was a lovely little take on huevos rancheros that was made even better by using farm-fresh eggs. I had a whole discussion with friends about this last night: eggs from a local farm taste significantly better than eggs from the grocery store. It's just the way it is. They're brighter and more vibrant, too. See how yellow the eggs look in the photo? I'm terrible at taking pictures and half of the plate is in sunlight, but you can still tell its bright and tasty-looking.

I didn't use creme fraiche, because I just can't bring myself to pay for it for something like this when sour cream is a perfectly acceptable stand-in. Also, because it reminds me of Randy Marsh.

All in all, this was absolutely wonderful. I would definitely make this again. I loved it and it was delicious and it made me happy.

tostada

Black Bean & Chipotle Tostadas with Crème Fraîche
Eating Well

If you love breakfast burritos or huevos rancheros, you’ll love this tostada with seasoned black beans on crispy tortillas with scrambled eggs on top. Pass salsa or hot sauce to go with it.

8 5- to 6-inch corn tortillas
Canola oil cooking spray
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sliced garlic
2 cups cooked or canned -- rinsed black beans (see Tip)
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt -- divided
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper -- plus more for garnish
6 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup low-fat milk
1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream

1. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 375°F.

2. Coat tortillas on both sides with cooking spray. Place on 2 baking sheets. Bake, turning once, until light brown, 12 to 14 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until just beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Add beans, water and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and chipotle. Mash the mixture with a potato masher or large fork to the consistency of a chunky puree. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

4. Beat eggs, egg whites and milk in a large bowl. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, folding and stirring frequently with a heatproof rubber spatula, until almost set, 2 to 3 minutes.

5. To assemble tostadas, spread each tortilla with about 1/4 cup bean mixture. Top each with 1/4 cup scrambled eggs and sprinkle with chipotle pepper, if desired. Serve garnished with onion, cilantro and a small dollop of crème fraîche (or sour cream).

Servings: 4

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Espresso Chews

I posted on twitter that I was making these chocolate-caramel tassies for my friend's bridal shower a couple of days ago. Because that's what these are - tassies. And suddenly my twitter blew up with people demanding to know what a tassie is and why that is different from a cookie, a cupcake, a brownie, or a cup-pie. I don't know, people. What's the difference between a crumble and a crisp? A buckle and a betty? TOMATO TOMATO. Things just are.

Martha Stewart explains in one of her recipes: The name of these treats is derived from the Scottish word for a "small cup."

And that's what I made:
tassies

See, they are about the size of a quarter. I made them in a mini-muffin tin. They are chocolatey cookie-ish goodness filled with a rolo, which melts, causing the middle to become completely caramel-filled.

And let me just tell you: these are amazing. I didn't make the glaze because I ran out of instant espresso powder, but I don't think it was needed anyway. I also left out the pecans because not everyone likes pecans. These were delicious just how they were. Nearly all of them were eaten at the bridal shower (I made *four dozen*!) and I saved a few for myself. Delicious! I would make these again. I would also feel comfortable trying a mini-Reese's cup instead of a Rolo, because that also sounds delicious.

tassies

Chocolate Caramel Espresso Chews
Joe's Blog adapted from Land O' Lakes

For the dough:
1 tablespoon milk
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder or coffee granules
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely chopped pecans -- toasted
48 Rolo candies, unwrapped

For the glaze:
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1-2 tablespoons hot water
1 cup confectioners' sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, stir together milk and espresso powder.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

4. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugars until smooth and creamy. Beat in dissolved espresso powder and milk mixture. Mix in eggs, one at a time, beating until combined after each. Mix in vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Fold in pecans.

5. Shape dough into 1 1/4" balls, lightly flouring your hands as needed to prevent sticking. Set balls into miniature muffin tins lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Place into the oven and baked until puffed and set, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and quickly, but carefully, press 1 candy piece, top-side down, into each cookie. Set aside and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge of each individual muffin well, then gently remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. In a small bowl, stir espresso powder into 1 tablespoon water. Stir in confectioners' sugar - if it is too thick to drizzle, stir in enough of the remaining tablespoon hot water to thin. Drizzle over cooled cookies.

Yield: 4 dozen

Smoky Red Peppers 'n' Beans Gumbo

I have been wanting to make this but could not freaking find liquid smoke anywhere. Then, magically, I found it! I had a feeling this wouldn't taste right without it, and I was correct. The liquid smoke adds a wonderful flavor. What an exciting new ingredient. I want to use this SO MUCH in EVERYTHING this summer. So hickory-flavored. Yum.

So the gumbo itself was pretty good. I love okra, but if you don't then this is probably not the meal for you. I used real butter, nt vegan margarine, and I used Weyerbacher Merry Monks ale for the beer. It should also be noted that this reheated really well and was still delicious. I probably wouldn't make it again, but who knows? I might.

gumbo

Smoky Red Peppers 'n' Beans Gumbo
Veganomicon, page 149

Thick but not too thick, a stick-to-your-ribs veggie gumbo has a hint of smokiness from juicy, roasted red peppers. And a little help from the magic of liquid smoke (and it's vegan, like a dream come true, so relax!). Traditionally, gumbos are served with a scoop of white rice in the middle, but this also pairs nicely with crusty French bread and a crisp green salad.

1/3 cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 medium-sized onions, cut into small dice
2 green bell peppers, cut into small dice
1 stalk celery, sliced very thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 10 ounce package frozen okra, slightly thawed and sliced thinly
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice, preferably fire-roasted tomatoes
3 roasted red peppers, jarred or homemade, chopped into fine dice
1 16 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup ale-style beer
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons oregano
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 bay leaves
4-5 sprigs of thyme
Pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat a large heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat. Place the margarine in the pot and stir until melted. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to dissolve it. Cook the flour mixture, stirring frequently, until it is a rich caramel color and smells toasty, anywhere from 10 to 14 minutes.

2. Add the chopped onions and peppers to the roux, stirring to coat completely .Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the vegetables are very soft, at least 12 minutes.

3. Add the celery, garlic, and okra, and cook for another 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes, roasted red peppers, kidney beans, and vegetable broth. Whisk together the beer and tomato paste and add that to the mixture, stirring to incorporate completely. Stir in the allspice, liquid smoke, and grated nutmeg, and lastly tuck in the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.

4. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a gently boil, then lower the heat back to medium and partially cover. Allow the mixture to simmer for 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the okra is very tender. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving, then season with salt, pepper, and cayenne.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Avocado Ice Cream

When my best friend Erica moved in back in March, I did a little interview with her for the blog about the food she likes. Her favorite food, hands-down, is "the almighty avocado." During her stay here, she sent me tons of links to avocado recipes - the California Avocado Commission, Hass Avocados, random blog posts or pinterest pins. I've made a lot of avocado recipes while she's been here, but yesterday I decided to pull out the big guns and make the most bizarre avocado recipe I've found thus far: ice cream.

Erica is moving to Florida today. It's kind of abrupt but it's a good opportunity for her and while we are all terribly sad, I know it will be a positive thing in the end. Even though my brother will probably end up moving to Florida too, eventually. But at least I can fly out of my local airport to see them. And they'll be in Naples, and that sounds like nipples and that is funny. And Erica will be able to have her beloved avocado every day.

Now back to the ice cream. I made it while she and Marc had gone out to sell her car to a junkyard and kept it secret til last night. She was opining about the wonder of guacamole and margaritas, and that sounded like a perfect segue since this ice cream is kind of like a combination of the two. I pulled out the weird, grayish green concoction, and we all hesitantly tried it. These were our reactions:

Me: "I think the tequila is too strong but this is oddly not terrible and has a nice texture for being dairy-free."
Erica: "Sweet Jesus, I love avocado but I DO NOT love this. This is horrible."
Marc: "This is not so bad. It's actually kind of good." //eats the rest of the bowl

And so went the experiment of the avocado ice cream. I wouldn't ever make this again, but it was fun.

I know it looks like baby poop in a bowl. I told you it was a weird grayish-green color.
avocado

Avocado Ice Cream
Eating Well

This is a creamy, refreshing dairy-free dessert Rick Bayless has served in his restaurant Frontera Grill for years.

Tip: To make avocado puree, peel and pit 3 ripe large avocados and process in a food processor until smooth. Measure out 1 1/2 cups for the ice cream. Reserve any extra for another use.


1 1/2 cups avocado puree -- (see Tip) from about 3 ripe large avocados
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
1/3 cup tequila
Lime zest for garnish

1. After making avocado puree, add water, sugar, lime juice and tequila to the food processor with 1 1/2 cups of the puree; pulse until well combined. Refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour or overnight.

2. Transfer the avocado mixture to the canister of an ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. If desired, place the ice cream in the freezer to firm up before serving. Garnish with lime zest, if desired.

Servings: 8

Pecan Bars

Today I was cleaning out my refrigerator and freezers (standard and a chest freezer downstairs) obsessively yesterday (more on that in the next post) and found a whole big bag of pecans that I must have acquired around Christmas with the intention of making my mom's famous Christmas pecans. I obviously didn't do that, so I needed a new use for them. I settled on this recipe for pecan bars. As I explained to Erica, who has never even had pecan pie, this is kind of like pecan pie but doesn't have egg in the filling so it isn't as gooey, it's just more caramelly. The whole thing is delicious but I didn't love the addition of the egg to the shortbread crust and wished it were more like the crusts on this or this. Oh well. At least it isn't as unhealthy as this version! It was delicious and even my pecan-hating brother loved it. Hooray!

bars

Pecan Bars
Everyday Food, December 2004

These buttery treats are made with an easy press-in-the-pan shortbread crust.

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter -- (1 stick) chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg -- lightly beaten

For the Filling:
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces pecans -- (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter -- (1 stick) cut into small pieces


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg; pulse just until a dough forms.

2. Transfer dough to prepared pan; with floured fingers and an offset spatula, press firmly into bottom and 3/4 inch up sides. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

3. Prick bottom of dough; bake until lightly golden, 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool while preparing filling.

4. Make the filling: In a large saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly, until smooth; continue boiling, without stirring, until slightly darkened, about 2 minutes.

5. Remove pan from heat. Whisk in cream and salt; mix in pecans.

6. Assemble and bake: Spoon hot filling evenly over crust, using spoon to arrange and press in nuts so they fit snugly (create as flat a surface as possible).

7. Bake until bubbling and amber-colored, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

8. Using foil, lift cake from pan; peel off foil. With a sharp knife, trim edges (if desired). Cut into 6 even strips; cut each strip crosswise into 4 even strips to make 24 bars.

Yield: 24

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Clinton Station Diner

I have lived in Pennsylvania for three years (longest I've lived anywhere, ever!) and every time I drive to my parents' house in Connecticut, I pass the Clinton Station Diner off of I-78. It has been on the Food Network, the History Channel, and a bajillion other places. It is famous for two things: there is a traincar built into it, and they have this on the menu:

omg
{Oh my gosh}

Erica is gearing up to move to Florida next week, so we decided that this is something that must happen before she leaves. And thus, we drove out there tonight for dinner. It only took about 15 minutes, and although the line was pouring out the front door when we arrived, it was only a 10 minute wait. We loved them already. But then they gave us our table, which was in the traincar, and I was the happiest person ever.

cute
{Erica & Marc}

Tons of food was eaten. Tons. The highlight certainly was when we ordered three different desserts and ate all three of them.

dessert
{I am eating both a chocolate-covered cookie AND a forkful of oreo cheesecake. So sexy.}

I'm so happy we finally got to eat there, and I'm so glad we got to do it before Erica leaves. Fun times were had by all, and now when I pass it on my drive up to my parents, I can smile and think, "Hey. I ate there."

Friday, June 01, 2012

Toasted Ravioli

Oh my gosh, so many make-agains. I need to try some new things! Hopefully in the next few days. More changes are coming to the Lauren household, which is that Erica is on her way to a new job out in Florida. It has been wonderful having her stay here and we will miss her enormously, and I'm pretty sure my brother will eventually move down there with her, but it's the right decision for her right now. So we'll be back to just my own reviews of food!

So I made Toasted Ravioli the other day. I had found some giant roasted vegetable ravioli and didn't feel like eating it straight, so I used this recipe. And I didn't have any milk, so I subbed in some wine. That makes sense, right? The end result was very good. I will continue to keep this recipe around.