Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

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dinner party prep

January 17, 2008

i’ve been invited to an all-women dinner party on friday night.  the host is preparing the main course (vegetarian) and guests have been asked to bring a dish.  i picked “starch” and immediately found a recipe for “savory mashed root vegetables” on the food network site.  i also found what looks like a killer take on mac and cheese.  i really can’t stress how great that site is, btw.

i’ll blog more about the dinner party over the weekend (hopefully with pictures!) because it should be hella interesting but first i thought i’d post the planned recipes for posterity.

Savory Mashed Root Vegetables (Tyler Florence)
3 pounds assorted root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, turnips, and rutabaga, coarsely
chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 handful fresh thyme sprigs
1 handful fresh rosemary sprigs
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch fresh chives, chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil

Place all the vegetables and garlic in a large pot and fill with cool water to cover; season with a teaspoon of salt. Bring to boil over medium heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are very tender.
While the vegetables are cooking, combine the heavy cream, butter, and herbs in a pot and heat over low flame to melt the butter and infuse the herb flavor into the cream – do not allow to boil. Shut off the heat, cover, and let steep until needed. When ready to use, remove the herb stems and the bay leaves.

Drain vegetables and put them into a large mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher. Stir in the warm cream mixture and mix until the liquid is absorbed and the vegetables are smooth; season with salt and pepper. Put the mashed root vegetables in a serving bowl, garnish with chopped chives and drizzle with a healthy dose of olive oil.

Baked Penne w/ Roasted Vegetables (Giada DeLaurentiis)
2 red peppers, cored and cut into 1-inch wide strips
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 summer squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cremini mushrooms, halved
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon dried Italian herb mix or herbs de Provence
1 pound penne pasta
3 cups marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)
1 cup grated fontina cheese
1/2 cup grated smoked mozzarella
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/3 cup for topping
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
On a baking sheet, toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and onions with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and dried herbs. Roast until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain in a colander.

In a large bowl, toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, cheeses, peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix, until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.

Pour the pasta into a greased 9 by 13-inch pan. Top with the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan and butter pieces. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes.

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delicious

December 5, 2007

quinoa salad

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

1 cup water

1 cup leftover salad (or not leftover salad)

Some acid – half a lemon or 1 1/2 tablespoons of vinegar

Some olive oil – about 1/8 to 1/4 cup

Salt and pepper

Put quinoa and water into a pot over high heat.  Once at a boil, cover the pot and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for 15-18 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the seeds (quinoa is a seed, you know) are chewy.  Dump the quinoa into a bowl and allow it to cool until no longer hot and steamy.

In the meantime, chop up your salad.  You want it to be pretty finely chopped but not so fine that you can’t distinguish the different veggies.  Add the salad to the slightly cooled quinoa.  Add the acid and the olive oil.  Add some salt and pepper and taste.  Adjust acid/oil/s&p balance as needed.  While you’re adding stuff to the quinoa make sure you’re stirring really well.  Quinoa has a tendency to clump.  Once well mixed, refrigerate until cold or if you can’t stand it, eat!

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Friday Fruits and Veggies: Thanksgiving!!!

November 17, 2007

I love Thanksgiving.  It is my favorite holiday by far.  No gifts, no baskets, no staying up until midnight. 

Just food. 

Brilliant.

This week’s co-op basket has some Thanksgiving gems:

Spinach
Garnet Sweet Potatoes
Red Onions
Celery
Cranberries
Grannie Smith Apples

Aww Yeahh!  It’s Thanksgiving alright.  Cranberry bread is on the to-do list for tonight if I can keep my eyes open.  If I have a few berries left over I’ll throw them into an apple crisp.

Here’s my cranberry bread recipe:

    Need

Juice and grated peel of 1 orange
Boiling water
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup chopped fresh cranberries (i find throwing them in a zip bag and smashing them with a bottle of wine or other blunt instrument works best to get them started)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (use the same bludgeoning technique as above)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

    Do

Preheat the over to 325` and butter one standard loaf pan or two small loaf pans. I prefer doing a few small loaves.

Put orange juice in a 1 cup measure. Add enough boiling water to the orange juice to make 3/4 cup. Add grated orange peel and butter to juice and water and stir until the butter is melted. Set this aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat the sugar and egg together with a whisk. Add the orange mixture and stir until blended. Add cranberries and walnuts to the bowl.

Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. If you are lacking a sifter simply fluff the dry ingredients with a fork or whisk until the mixture gets a bit lighter in volume. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture.

Pour the batter into the greased pans and bake for between 40 and 60 minutes. I know, there are lots of minutes between 40 and 60 but you should check the loaves at 40 minutes by inserting a toothpick in the center to check for doneness, and keep checking every 10 minutes until they’re done.

Good luck!

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As promised: Spanish White Bean Soup

October 13, 2007

In my Friday Fruits and Veggies post earlier today I promised the following recipe for my Spanish White Bean Soup. It is adapted (my notes in italics) from a Sara Moulton classic.

Spanish White Bean Soup

first and foremost, allow two hours to cook the beans. if you don’t anticipate this process you’ll never get the soup in time for dinner. i tend to make it a day ahead because of this lengthy step. i will admit however, that i’ve made it along side dinner and ate a small portion of the soup as a side as soon as it is finished. it is, however ans thakfully, much better heated up the day after preparation. also be advised that you’ll need two pans – a stock pot and a large fry pan.

1/2 pound dried white beans, such as Great Northern, rinsed and picked over

8 1/2 cups chicken stock, (preferably homemade) (buy at least three boxes of stock, 4 cups each. i find i always need to add some at the end to push it from the edge of stewdom)

1 bay leaf, preferably Turkish

Kosher salt

Pinch saffron threads (this is expensive but, i’ve found, important. if you can’t afford the saffron, by all means, skip it. if you can, add a solid pinch the first time you make it and hold back on subsiquent trys to get your peronal balance between expense and flavor)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 Spanish chorizo sausages, about 3/4 pound, cut into 1/2-inch dice (i’ve also used spicy/hot italian sausage. cut half into pieces with casing and cut half out of the casing and mash it into a crumble. this provides the proper texture)

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 large red bell pepper, finely diced (i’ve used green pepper and other veggies i have laying around. what good is a soup if you can’t get rid of all the old stuff in the fridge?)

1 tablespoon sweet paprika (or more to taste)

1 small bunch kale, about 3/4 pound, tough stems removed, washed well, and coarsely chopped (here you can use anything, literally. i’ve reached for spinach, chard, escarole, anything green and leafy will do.)

Freshly ground black pepper

Sherry vinegar, to taste (any vinegar will do as this is simply a garnish. i would stick to something semi clear, however – red wine, apple cider, white balsamic, etc.)

Place the beans in a large pot or soup kettle (the bigger the better). Pour in 8 cups of the stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Cook, partially covered, stirring often and adjusting the heat to keep it at a slow steady simmer, until the beans are tender, about 2 hours (or more. be prepared to baby the beans.). Remove and discard the bay leaf.

Soak the saffron in the remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo (or sausage) and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate.

Add the onion; reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the red pepper and the paprika. Cook for 2 minutes longer, (i find these steps to take longer than the recipe suggests. you want to make sure that the veggies are cooked to beyond recognition. the soup is chunky enough as it is with the meat, beans and greens.) then transfer the contents of the skillet to the bean pot.

Stir in the saffron with the soaking liquid, the chorizo, and the kale. (at this point you will likely want to add more stock. much more stock. add as much as you think you want in your finished product.) Bring back to a simmer and cook just until the kale is wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, (IF EATING NOW) stir in the vinegar, and serve hot in warmed soup bowls. If not eating now, store soup in the fridge and add vinegar to each bowl upon serving

ENJOY!

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Friday Fruits and Veggies: Fiesta Time

October 5, 2007

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 I’m back on the wagon with Friday Fruits and Veggies.  Yea!

On tap for this week:
Escarole
Red Pepper
Tomatoes
Cilantro
Avocado
Bananas
Limes

Looks like a Mexican basket to me! This is the perfect excuse for me to run over to my local Tortilleria for fresh corn tortillas. Sunday would be a great day for Chicken Soft Tacos. In the past I’ve used a Bobby Flay recipe for the chicken:

New Mexican Style Soft Tacos w/ Hacked Chicken
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds chicken legs and thighs, skin removed
Salt
3 tablespoons ancho chile powder
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 ancho chile, coarsely chopped
2 New Mexican chilies, coarsely chopped
4 cups chicken stock
6 sprigs cilantro, plus more chopped, for garnish
12 flour tortillas, warmed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and ancho chile powder. Sear, skin-side down, in the oil until golden brown. Turn over and brown on the other side. Remove the chicken to a plate.
Add the onion to the pan and cook until lightly golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the chicken back to the pot, add the chiles, stock, and cilantro, and bring to a boil. Cover and roast (or keep on the stove over med-low heat – ed.) in the oven until the chicken easily falls away from the bone, about 40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and strain the cooking liquid into a bowl.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove bones and cut or shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Place the reserved cooking liquid into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the shredded chicken, turn off the heat and let warm. Top tortillas with warm chicken and garnish.

Ed. Note – If you’re not into spicy foods, cut out the chilies and substitute one jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and cut in large pieces so you can pull them out at the end.

What I love about this recipe is the technique. Although hard to believe, the flavors here are secondary to the method which I call “sear and simmer”.  You can easily use this recipe as a guide to make a really subtle chicken and rice by adding thyme or sage in place of the cilantro, maybe some diced carrot or celery instead of the chilies, cipollini oinions, shrooms, whatev. Shred the chicken over some rice cooked in one part water and one part of the chicken cooking liquid and you’re golden.

I employ this method most frequently when I make my version of chicken cacciatore – sear chicken, add onion, garlic and herbs, deglaze with wine, add canned tomatoes, olives, shrooms, etc. and simmer until sauce is reduced and chicken falls off the bone.

Since it is essentially being stewed, the chicken gets spectacularly moist and delicious, keeps well in the fridge and heats up nicely. The other great thing about this recipe is that it’s relatively cheap since it calls for dark meat (use white if you wish). You can double or even triple the recipe (if you have the vessel for it) and feed a crowd very inexpensively especially if, like me, you can get homemade tortillas at about a buck a pound.

For my tacos, I’ll top them with lettuce (maybe I’ll sauté the escarole instead?), tomato, avocado, radish, cilantro, and some kind of cheese. Mr. D will no doubt add jalapeno and maybe a little hot sauce, that Devil. A squeeze of lime on the tacos, and in a Modelo, and we’ll be good to go.

How is your weekend shaping up food wise?

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Will Blog for Pie

September 18, 2007

I mentioned in last week’s Friday Fruits and Veggies post that I might make an apple pie if the mood struck. Well, one mention to Mr. D that I was remotely contemplating even the idea of apple pie and there was no way around it. The whole weekend went a little something like this:

Mr D: So, when are you going to make that apple pie?

Me: Um, I dunno.

Mr. D: Hey honey, didn’t you say something about pie, because I’m pretty sure you said something about pie but I don’t see a pie.

Me: D, I’ll get to it later, okay.

Mr. D: When you make that pie is there going to be enough for my mom ’cause i told her you were going to make one and she was, like, really excited and hey, when’s that pie going to be ready?

Me: Gaw!

Domestic goddess and sheer genius that I am, not only did I make that damn pie, I went totally recipe free. I’ve been watching the women folk of my family make pies my entire life, especially apple pie. Once you get the basics down it’s a piece of cake…or pie as the case may be.

Now, one would figure that apples would be the first thing to think about when thinking about making an apple pie. One would be just plain wrong.  Crust is the first step to a successful apple pie (or any pie for that matter). I’d hate to get all my fillings together to only find that I forgot to defrost the crust.

Okay, okay, calm down. I hear the collective racket out there and I stand firm. I don’t make own crust and neither did my mother!! I swear by Pillsbury refrigerated dough. Make sure to bring it to room temperature, put it in your vessel, pie plate or whathaveyou, and then chill it in the fridge. You want the crust to go in the oven cold so the butter will melt and release steam creating those delicious flaky layers.

Think about how many apples you have and that will determine the size of your vessel and how much crust you’ll need.  I only had one pie crust, typically you’d need two, one top and one bottom, for a traditional apple pie.  I used three half-cup ramekins.   I got three bottom crusts for the three ramekins and made strips of dough for a lattice style top all from one pie crust.

So, while the crust is gettin’ cold, it’s time to prep the apples. Most skilled bakers will tell you to use something firm like a granny smith or macintosh. Personally, I don’t discriminate. To me the apples are simply a conduit for spicy sugary goodness. Peel, core and slice your apples and add them to a bowl with some lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. If you don’t have lemon juice, a little diluted vinegar will work fine.

Next, add the sugar, I like turbinado, and spices like cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg. To start I’d go with a 1/4 cup of sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon each of the spices for four to six small apples. Now is the time to stir up the apples and give them a taste. If it’s too spicy, add some more sugar or even some honey. Try some fresh ginger or vanilla if you’re feelin’ groovy. At this point you should also add a pinch of salt to bring up all the flavors and a bit of flour to thicken the sauce.

In the time it takes you to pre heat the oven, I typically bake pies at 350`, the sugar will have worked its magic on the fruit leaving you a nice syrup in the bottom on the bowl.

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Once the oven in pre heated, fill your vessel(s), piling the apples as high as they can go as they will cook down. Top with more crust and throw the deliciousness in the oven.

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Oh, and those little creamy white bits poking out of the crust are pieces of butter.  It’s a good idea to put a few cold pieces in just before baking to add flavor and moisture.  At this point, the extra calories won’t matter.  

My mini-pies were in for about 45 minutes. I would go for about 60 on a standard 8 or 9 inch pie plate. I set the timer in 15 minute intervals so I can control the browning, laying foil over top as needed. Once they start to bubble you’re good to go.

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Spicy, sugary, appley, and dee-lish if I do say so myself. And something we all should try, with our without a recipe card.

So go hound your mom, grandmother or uncle for the keys to the food your family loves. Shock the hell out of them at the next holiday meal. These dishes are our memories. We should enjoy the hell out of them while we have the time and the taste buds.

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Plum Glazed Chicken

September 11, 2007

I talked about attempting a Plum Glazed Chicken recipe in my Friday Fruits and Veggies post. I made it tonight and it was deelish, if I do say so myself. The sauce, tart from the plums and little lemon juice, yet sweet and smoky with a combination of caramelized onions and prepared chili sauce, is spooned over the chicken breast in the oven while it bakes. The denseness of the sauce keeps the chicken super moist. Tonight I served it with brown basmati rice and steamed asparagus and broccoli. In the future I’d like to try the sauce on turkey breast and surround the turkey with sides reminiscent of a Thanksgiving meal.

So, without further commentary, here is the recipe:

Serves 4 (sauce can be made ahead)

16 oz. fresh plums, pitted and cut into pieces

2 tbls. Butter or olive oil

1 onion finely chopped (I think red onion becomes sweeter and more caramelized as it cooks but use what you have)

1/4 c. prepared tomato based chili sauce (Siracha or Sambal Oelek would work well here if you like spice, but start with a tablespoon and then add more to taste)

2 tbls. soy sauce

1 tsp. ginger fresh or pickled (rinse if using pickled)

2 tsp. lemon juice

Sugar to taste (tubinado worked well for me)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (this would be great on legs or thighs you’d just need to adjust cooking time and maybe temp)

If not making the sauce ahead, preheat the oven to 350’F. In a blender, food processor or food mill, process the plums with a splash of water and about a teaspoon of sugar to taste (my plums were super ripe, sweet and juicy so I didn’t need much water or sugar). Melt the butter or oil in a wide skillet over medium heat, add the onion and cook until soft and starting to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Stir in the plum puree, chili sauce, soy sauce, ginger and lemon juice. At this point, taste for seasoning and add sugar, salt and pepper to if needed. You can also up the spice by adding more chili sauce. Cook the sauce, uncovered, stirring often until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Set aside about a 1/2 cup of sauce for passing at the table. Put chicken in a lightly oiled baking pan and salt and pepper both sides. With the smooth, top of the breast down, spoon the sauce onto the chicken, spreading it over the surface. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, adding more sauce after 15 minutes. Turn the chicken over, add more sauce, crank the heat to 400 and bake for another 15-30 minutes (get a meat thermometer, people), basting occasionally. Serve with the reserved sauce. Eat. Enjoy.