Monday, April 26, 2010

Dinner tonight

We made Classic Sole Meuniere a few weeks ago (apparently I mentioned it here in one of my longer posts but never wrote about it), in part because of this article (a little motivation never hurts). A nice sale on Sole at the store last night prompted another purchase, so we will be enjoying it again tonight. It was quite good when we had it before.
I'll update later tonight with pictures and more.

Mastering the Art of <em>Sole Meuni

Roasted Grape Tomato Sauce

We made this recipe a number of times last fall, after it cooled off enough for our grape tomato plants to really start producing. We're hoping for a slightly cooler summer, so maybe we'll have tomatoes all summer instead of spring and fall. It's a fairly easy recipe, with not a lot of time in the kitchen. It's modified from a Bon Appetit recipe, and I was going to link to it, but I realized the modifications we made this time stray a little too far from the original recipe. It may be the subject of another post in the future, because we do enjoy it so much.

First, preheat the oven to 375. Slice tomatoes and add them, with olive oil, balsamic, red pepper flakes, garlic, basil, and oregano to a glass baking dish.

Roast the tomato mixture for 45 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are very tender.
Cook the pasta in boiling water until tender but still firm to the bite. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the tomato mixture and stir over medium heat until heated. Add cheese and stir until melted. Serve, adding a fresh basil garnish if you so desire.

Ingredients (for two servings and leftovers)
1 1/2 pounds grape tomatoes (or cherry)
1/3 cup olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 t crushed red pepper
3 T chopped fresh basil
3 T chopped fresh oregano
1/2 pound pasta of your choice
3 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated
extra basil and olive oil for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375. Slice the tomatoes in half, and combine them in a glass baking dish with the olive oil, balsamic, garlic, red pepper, basil, and oregano. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until tomatoes become nice and soft. Stir occasionally. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and set aside.
Cook pasta in boiling water until almost done. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot, along with the tomato mixture. Reheat over medium heat until heated, then add the cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. The cheese will be very stringy.
Serve with a basil garnish and a light drizzle of olive oil, if desired. It pairs nicely with a green salad.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze

Bon Appetit April 2010 Cover recipe.
Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze, Sugar Snap Peas, and Pea Tendrils BA's picture.

Our attempt.

The recipe was easy to make and good. We served it with rice. Our pea tendrils were more mature than the intention (so they were woody) and we ended up placing them to the side. Other than that, a success, and we'll add it to our ways to prepare salmon.
Note: I am not including stirring times in the stove-top portion of this recipe because I find them to be inaccurate on my electric stove. Sadly, gas is not available in my house.

vegetable oil spray
1/4 cup Asian sweet chili sauce (Asian aisle)
3 T soy sauce, divided
2 T finely grated fresh peeled ginger, divided
6 6-ounce salmon fillets with skin
2 T vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces sugar snap peas
1 1/2 T Chinese rice wine or dry Sherry
3 cups pea tendrils or pea sprouts (6 ounces)
1 t Asian sesame oil

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray it with cooking spray. Place salmon on the baking sheet, skin side down, with a bit of room between each fillet. Combine chili sauce, 2 T soy sauce, and 1 T ginger in a small bowl, whisk, and spoon sauce over the salmon. Let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat the broiler. Spoon any remaining sauce from the baking sheet back onto the salmon. Broil the salmon for 6 to 10 minutes or until desired doneness.
Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Add the remaining ginger and garlic and stir until aromatic. Add the sugar snap peas and stir until crisp-tender. Add the remaining soy sauce, the rice wine, and pea tendrils and stir until the tendrils are just wilted. Drizzle the pan with sesame oil.
Serve the salmon on plates with the pea mixture over the tops.

Migas Casserole

The husband was still asleep. I started making breakfast, and mid-way through the bacon cooking I realized I wanted migas, but didn't want to have to cook after he got up. I wanted everything to be ready by then. Migas became migas casserole, and it stayed nice and warm in the oven until he woke up. Serve it with fresh fruit.

Migas Casserole
2 strips of bacon (optional - if not using, use olive oil to crisp the tortillas instead)
2 corn tortillas
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 to 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
5 eggs
1/4 cup cream
1 cup grated cheese of your choice (used cheddar and Cojita)
fresh ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 375.
Cook bacon. Drain on paper towels. Tear corn tortillas into bite sized pieces. In the same pan, with bacon grease that remains (or olive oil if you choose), cook corn tortilla pieces until crisp, stirring occasionally (for me, that means I stir almost constantly thinking that the more or faster I stir, the sooner the food will be done). Drain tortillas pieces on the paper towel with the bacon. When the bacon is cool enough to handle, break it into small pieces.
In the same pan, add the onion and red bell pepper and cook until onions are almost translucent and peppers are tender. Scrape the pan to remove browned bits. Remove from heat. Add the bacon and tortillas back to the pan and stir to combine.
Prepare the eggs. Whisk the eggs with the cream. Add pepper to taste (but don't taste the raw eggs, just guess).
Grease a small casserole dish. Place about half of the onion/bacon/tortilla mixture in the bottom of the dish. Pour half of the egg mixture over it, and top with half the cheese. Repeat.
Cook on the middle rack of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes until the eggs are firm. Let it cool for about 5 minutes. Serve with chopped tomato, cilantro, avocado, and anything else you want (black beans, salsa, and so on).

Foodie Friday Favs - BLTs with a twist

These are really more like PATs, with pancetta, arugula, and heirloom tomato (in season). The original recipe also calls for burrata, which I have yet to find in Central Market (can find EVERYTHING there) or any other place I've looked in the area. Instead, we use fresh mozzarella. This is a great summer meal, served with a salad, because it can be served room temperature, requires little time in a hot kitchen, and shows off those summertime tomatoes. We recently found a tomato that almost tastes like summer, so I decided to use part of it in this recipe.

pancetta - 2 thick slices or 4 thin slices per sandwich
tomato slices - use a red heirloom
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves (use fresh, makes such a difference)
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano (dried is ok here)
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or coarse kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
slices of bread, enough for as many sandwiches you want to make
2 ounces of cheese per sandwich, burrata recommended, fresh mozzarella is an ok substitute
1/2 to 1 cup baby arugula or other fresh small greens

First, cook the pancetta as you would cook bacon.

We've tried it several ways, and thick slices of pancetta work the best. You can find it at an Italian market or a specialty grocer. I even found it in small town grocery store. Once it is cooked, drain it on paper towels and set it aside.

Meanwhile, marinade your tomatoes.

Slice the tomatoes to desired thickness and lay flat in a shallow pan. Add the oil, basil, salt, pepper, and oregano, and flip the tomatoes to make sure they are completely coated. Let them sit in the oil mixture at least 30 minutes and longer if you get busy in the garden or outside and lose track of time.

Assemble your bread. We've used ciabatta, potato bread, challah, Safeway bread (French loaf), and others. All of it is good, with the slightly more substantial breads standing up to the sandwich a little better. Thick slices of challah may be my favorite so far. Toast the bread slices to desired level of toastiness. Slice the mozzarella (or burrata if you're lucky enough to locate some) and spread it on one side of the sandwiches. Top the cheese with one tomato slice each, then with pancetta and arugula. Press the tops of the sandwiches lightly down. Sometimes we use a little less cheese on the first slice of bread in order to use some on the upper slice - it helps with sandwich integrity. Cut each sandwich in half and serve.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday Treats - An Almost Disaster

Last night I made this cake. I wish I had pictures of the kitchen. From the state of things, it appeared that I had never baked before, and that I was a complete mess when it came to doing anything in the kitchen. There were dry ingredients everywhere (everywhere!), on the counters, on the floor, on the dog - she was almost white at one point - and all over me. I was spilling everything, from cake flour (both before and after sifting) and cocoa powder to dropping eggs (at least one) on the floor. I also added powder instead of soda, then removed the powder, only to discover I needed it as well. Disaster, and ridiculously messy kitchen to clean up at around 10:00 last night. Groan. But the cakes baked just fine, and were nice and fluffy once they cooled.
Frosting the cake this morning was equally as challenging. It's a very tasty frosting, but between the hardness of the frosting and the softness of the cakes, I had lots of difficulties and in several places removed the top layer of the cake.

Anyway, here is the recipe (adapted from Bon Appetit)
Chocolate Cake with Caramel-Milk Chocolate Frosting

24 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped (I used milk chocolate chips and did not finely chop them)
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
2 1/4 whipping cream

Combine chocolates in large bowl. Combine water and sugar in saucepan and make caramel, stir sugar into water over medium heat until dissolved, then swirl pan and brush down sides until mixture darkens and turns golden. Add the whipping cream SLOWLY (it will boil and fizz A LOT) and then stir until the caramel dissolves (it will take some time and it's hard to do). Once it is all nicely dissolved, pour the caramel cream over the chocolate and stir the chocolate mixture until the chocolate is all dissolved and the mixture is very smooth. At this point, you can either chill it in the refrigerator or you can let it sit out at room temperature if you plan to frost the cakes as soon as the cake portions cool.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray and parchment paper
2 cups sifted cake flour (sift, then measure)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups golden brown sugar (packed)
1 cup plus 2 T room temperature butter
3 large eggs (more if you drop one on the floor)
1 T vanilla
1 cup plus 2 T buttermilk
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

First, preheat the oven to 350 and prepare your pans. You will need between 2 and 3 springform cake pans. I used 2, the original recipe calls for 3. Spray pans with cooking spray, then cut parchment paper circles and line the bottom of each pan with one circle. Set them aside.
Sift and measure the flour into a medium bowl. Add the rest of the dry ingredients (through the salt) to the flour. In the mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar and butter and beat until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to combine between each addition. Add a third of the flour mixture, then a third of the buttermilk, and repeat until all ingredients are incorporated, beating after every new addition. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Distribute the batter equally among pans. Tap the sides of the pan to smooth the tops of the batter. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let them cool in their pans until they are entirely cool, then pop them out of their pans.

Once the frosting is at room temperature, beat it until smooth and light brown, about 1 minute. Do not over stir it, you want it smooth not grainy. Spread frosting on the lowest level, then stack the next level on top. If you are using two layers, place the layer upside down so the top is flat. Frost all around and on top of the cake. It works best if you use a frosting spatula thing and not a butter knife. Be patient. It takes some time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dinner! Mac and Cheese

Dinner: a revised version of this recipe.

Prep was easy. 20 minutes from start (including grating the cheese) to in the oven. My kind of weeknight recipe. The recipe, as I made it: 


  • 2 or so cups Dried Macaroni (the husband is sick, and a small bowl of cooked noodles went to him, with a tiny dab of butter)
  • 3 T  Butter
  • 3 T All-purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups 2% Milk (it's what we had - I originally used 1 1/2 cups but added a little more right before adding the noodles because the sauce was very thick)
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) Dry Mustard 
  • 1/2 whole Egg Beaten (the puppy does not like uncooked egg - I tried to give her some and, to give her credit, she tried it, but did not take another lick)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 pound Cheese, Grated - I used medium cheddar (my other macaroni and cheese recipe uses gouda and edam, so this was a nice change)
  • ½ teaspoons Salt, More To Taste
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, to taste
  • ½ teaspoons or so Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • whatever other spices you like, I usually add ground nutmeg to my creamy cheesy dishes, I think it was about 1/8 teaspoon to this one (I don't measure, just sprinkle on top until it looks like a good amount, then taste, and add more if needed)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped greens of some sort - I used broccolini because it was in the fridge

  • Preparation Instructions - these I didn't really adjust, aside from adding the green vegetable
Cook macaroni until very firm. Macaroni should be too firm to eat right out of the pot. Drain.
Preheat your oven to 350.
In a small bowl, beat egg.
In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly. Don’t let it burn.
Pour in milk, add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick. Reduce heat to low.
Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking eggs. Whisk together till smooth.
Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth.
Add in cheese and stir to melt.
Add salts and pepper. Taste sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed! DO NOT UNDERSALT.
Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine.
Add green vegetable of choice and stir to combine.
Pour the entire mixture into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cilantro and Taste Memory

Fascinating article on cilantro in the New York Times. Not as much for the cilantro aspect of it, but for what it means for our taste memories and how we can change taste associations. (Picture from the article)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday Treats 2 - Cinnamon Rum Ice Cream

Cinnamon Rum Ice Cream (to accompany Caramel Apple Tartlets)
Adapted from this recipe.
(make ahead - ice cream needs to freeze overnight for best results)
Whisk 6 large egg yolks to blend in a medium bowl. Pour 1 cup heavy whipping cream into another medium bowl. Place a large strainer over the bowl with the cream in it. Whisk 1 1/2 cups whole milk, 3/4 cups sugar, and 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream in a heavy medium saucepan and bring to a slow simmer. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Gradually (and do this slowly, or you will cook the egg) whisk the hot milk and sugar mixture into the blended egg yolks. One it is blended, pour it back into the saucepan and stir constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens and the temperature reaches 160 to 170. If you boil it, start over - it is too hot and the chemical composition has permanently altered. Once it reaches 160 to 170, you have made custard. Pour the custard through the strainer into the cream. Whisk it together and add 3 tablespoons dark rum and 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon. Refrigerate the mixture until cold. I left it in about 3 hours.
KitchenAid KICA0WH Ice Cream Maker AttachmentAfter it's chilled, process it in your ice cream maker. I highly recommend the ice cream maker attachment for the kitchenaid mixer. It makes making ice cream very easy. All you have to do is set up the frozen bowl on the stand and let it run for 20-30 minutes until the ice cream starts to solidify.
After you have ice cream, taste it. Then freeze it overnight.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Weekend Activities

Lots of cooking happened this weekend. Baking, too, so lots of recipes will appear this week. However, for some reason, I was very unmotivated to take pictures. I did get some great shots in the garden, which I'll post soon. As a preview, the recipes are Caramel Apple Tartlets with Cinnamon-Rum Ice Cream, Asparagus Raviolini with Beef Shank Ragu, Classic Sole Meuniere (we do have pictures of this one), Onion Foccacia, and Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Favs - Crockpot!

This recipe is adapted from a giant saved file of slow cooker recipes I have. If you are interested in the "book" leave me a message and I'll send it to you.

Crockpot 3040-BC 4-Quart Round-Shaped Manual Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel
I love my crock-pot (the one thing I wish is that it had a programmable feature - that'll be on the next one). We usually make slow cooker recipes on the day of the week when the husband has a long day at school, because we both come home tired and lacking the desire to cook. 

Serves 6

cooking oil
3 lbs. beef short ribs (we trim some of the fat)
1 cup BBQ sauce (Salt Lick is the best, of course)
2 T. Molasses
2 T. white vinegar
1 1/2 t. Salt
1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
1 T. soy sauce
1 28 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion or more to taste
can also add celery or other similar vegetable at this time

Heat oil in frying pan, enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Add the ribs. Brown on all sides. Drain the fat. Place ribs in 5 qt. slow cooker.
 Mix next 7 ingredients well in bowl. Stir in onion. Pour over short ribs. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hrs. or on HIGH for 4 to 5 hrs. Spoon the fat off of the top. Serve the ribs with or without the sauce to accompany.

We serve this with polenta or mashed potatoes and vegetables. This week we had it with polenta and sautéed spinach, and a modified Caesar salad on the side.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tuesday Treats - Snickerdoodles

This recipe is from a book I purchased from the clearance section of the bookstore years ago. I still want to try more of the recipes, and will at some point. The snickerdoodles recipe is one we make all the time. The cookies are especially good as a brunch or breakfast cookie, light and fluffy, not too sweet, with lovely cinnamon flavors.

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 t vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
3 1/2 all-purpose flour
1 t baking soda

5 T sugar
2 T cinnamon

With an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and creamy.  Add the sugar and the vanilla and continue until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and the milk.  

Sift the flour and baking soda over the butter mixture and stir to blend (the sifting gives them the lighter texture, we have been known to lightly beat the batter at this point instead of just stirring).  Stir in nuts.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease 2 baking sheets.

Mix the cinnamon and sugar for the coating in a bowl.  Roll tablespoon sized balls of dough in the mixture and place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets.  Bake 10 minutes until golden.  Cool on wire rack.

For perfectly round cookies, shape the dough with damp hands, then roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. The colder the dough, the easier it is to shape.