Sunday, November 30, 2008

Coconut Shrimp with Tamarind-Mango Dipping Sauce


Ingredients:
2 mangos, peeled and coarsely chopped (or 2 1/2 frozen mango chunks, defrosted)
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind paste (not pulp)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1 pound large raw tail on shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons hot chili oil
2 cups flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 400.

Place the mangoes, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, tamarind paste, oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic in a blender. Puree until smooth.
, cover and refrigerate.

Rinse shrimp and dry with paper towels.

Stir together honey, soy sauce and chili oil in bowl. Pour coconut into another bowl. Dip shrimp in mixture then roll in coconut, applying pressure so that it covers shrimp completely.

Bake on non-stick baking sheet for 6 to 8 minutes or until shrimp is firm and coconut is golden brown.


Serve mango sauce on the side for dipping.

Sofrito

I use "sofrito" in many (perhaps most) of my recipes. It is to Latin cuisine what "mirepoix" (onions, carrots and celery) is to French cuisine. The following is my version of sofrito-the amounts of each ingredient can be played around with according to one's individual preferences.

Ingredients:
2 onions
2 bell peppers (green gives kick to your recipe, yellow, red & orange add a softer, sweeter flavor)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup minced cilantro
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Oil
Salt
Pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in large saute pan. Add first four ingredients and stir, turning heat down to medium. Cook about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook 2 additional minutes. stirring occasionally. Add cumin and paprika. Salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Empanadas with Goat Cheese, Black Beans and Sweet Plantains


I'm part of a lunch group at work; every day a different person brings in food. About 8 months after I started the group, a vegetarian was hired. Now I am all about free choice, but this threw a serious wrench in the works (<-is that a saying?). As a result, I was forced to come up with some veg-friendly dishes.

Ingredients:
Dough to make about 12 empanadas (homemade, or frozen-if frozen, remove from freezer before starting to cook)
1 can black beans, rinsed
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1 small onion
1 green pepper
4 cloves garlic
4 oz goat cheese
2 fried sweet plantains (if you are not feeling it, buy Goya frozen ones, they are very close to the original)
Salsa
1 avocado
2 limes
Cumin
Paprika

Preheat oven to 375.

Mince the cilantro and garlic and dice the pepper and onion. Heat oil over medium-high heat in large saute pan. Add diced/minced ingredients and turn heat to medium. Add 1/4 teaspoon paprika and 1/4 teaspoon cumin to mixture. Saute about 7 minutes or until onion is translucent. Remove from heat.

Slice fried sweet plantains (maduros) into small chunks, about 1/2 inch wide. Mix into black beans. Crumble goat cheese over beans and mix well. Add sauteed ingredients to beans, stir and set aside.

Roll out empanada dough and cut into small discs, about 3-4 inches in diameter. If using frozen discs, gently roll out a little to loosen the dough. Fill each disc with about 2 tablespoons of filling. Fold over to create a half-moon and use a fork to pinch dough shut. Repeat until all filling has been used.

Set filled shells onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Cook about 20 minutes or until empanada dough is starting to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool a little on cookie sheet.

Slice avocado into 1/4 inch strips and cut limes into 12 wedges (6 for each lime).

Serve empanadas with sliced avocado and salsa for dipping. Squeeze lime juice over empanada to eat.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Red Wine Truffles

A conversation with my boss (we'll call her "Yulie" to protect her identity) about holiday treats made me realize that I would like to try to create red wine-flavored truffles (I already enjoy both ingredients, this just skips a step..) I set out on an Internet quest, looking for a such a recipe. The results were mostly about infusing red wine with truffle mushrooms (does that even sound good...?) or about BUYING chocolate truffles. Tasting each wine and chocolate before creating a finished product shall require strength and perseverance, but I suspect I'm up for the task. I'm posting below the only recipe found thus far. (I cannot eat hazelnuts thus my test-run will omit them). I'll post as to how these turned out, and then create a new, personalized version.

Merlot Hazelnut Cocoa Truffles
Makes approximately 40 bite-sized truffles with an enticing interplay of flavors.

Ingredients:
2 cups bittersweet chocolate (1 12-oz. bag of chips or 3 4-oz. bars chopped into small pieces)
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup red wine, such as Merlot
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
½-1 cup cocoa, such as Scharffen Berger or Hershey's Dark

Place chocolate chips or pieces in a medium-sized bowl. In a sauce pan, bring heavy cream and butter to a boil. Immediately pour over chocolate. Stir with a whisk until chocolate has melted and ingredients are fully combined. Whisk in wine, and then hazelnuts.

Let mixture cool at room temperature for 3-4 hours or overnight, covered but not refrigerated. Or chill in the bowl in the refrigerator. Remove it every 5 minutes and stir well. Continue until mixture thickens slightly, 10 to 20 minutes.

Place cocoa in a small shallow pan or dish. Set aside.

Stir mixture well with a spatula. The filling should have a spreadable consistency. Pipe 1-inch ganache rounds with a pastry bag fitted with a 3/4-inch round tip onto waxed paper, or scoop 1-inch rounds onto the paper with a teaspoon.

With gloves on, shape the filling in the palms of your hands to create a rounder appearance. Place into the pan that contains the cocoa and roll it in cocoa until fully covered.
Remove from the pan with a fork, knocking off any excess cocoa. Place onto a clean tray or plate.

They are best served at room temperature.

Truffles may be refrigerated for up to one week, or kept at room
temperature for up to three days. They will keep in the freezer for up to two months.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pollastre (Catalan Chicken Sandwich)


I had this about ten million times when in Barcelona. There is a sandwich stand in Plaza Sant Jaume (in Barri Gotic) called "Conesa." The first sign that this might be a good place to eat was the line twenty people-deep at any given time of day. I was lucky enough to be staying with a friend about 2 blocks away. My favorite sandwich was the "pollastre," I am going to try to reproduce it here.

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts
1 onion
1 tablespoon alioli
2 large pieces lettuce
1 tablespoon butter
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Pa amb tomaquet

Rinse chicken breasts in cool running water and pat dry with paper towel. Using a meat mallet, pound breasts until thin between two pieces of wax paper. Salt and pepper chicken. Cover and refrigerate for later.

Wash onion and cut into long, thin strips. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large saute over medium heat and add onions, stir so that onions are coated with butter. Turn heat down to medium-low and stir occasionally, until onions are lightly golden (about 20-25 minutes).

Heat up about 1 tablespoon olive oil in clean sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan and turn down to medium. Cook about 4 minutes on each side or until juices run clear (you can also cut into chicken, pink=undercooked, white=good to go). Remove chicken and cut into thin strips.

Wash lettuce and cut into thin strips. Place caramelized onions, lettuce strips and chicken on tomato bread. Drizzle alioli over chicken and top with another piece of bread. Grill on panini press for 5 minutes.

Pa Amb Tomaquet (Catalan Tomato Bread)


This is a staple in Catalan restaurants. It is simple to make and can be topped with jamon serrano, manchego cheese or made into a sandwich. Pa amb tomaquet (bread with tomato) "Pahm toh-mah-ket."

Ingredients:
1 clove garlic, sliced in half vertically
1 baguette
1 large juice tomato
Olive oil
Sea salt

Optional:
Jamon Serrano
Manchego or other cheeses
Other sausages
Vegetables

Slice baguette in half lengthwise. Rub bread with garlic and drizzle olive oil over bread. The bread can be toasted or eaten cold. Cut tomato in half and vigorously rub over bread so that a layer of tomato goodness covers bread. Drizzle a little more olive oil on top and salt bread.

This can be served as a simple side or made into a delicious Bocadillo.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Coconut Rice with Mango Chunks


Ingredients:
2 cups jasmine rice
2 cups water
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup coconut water
2 mangos, chopped, or about 2 cups of frozen mango chunks, defrosted
1 lime
1/2 cup cilantro
Salt

Wash and mince cilantro. Cut mango into small chunks, about 1/4 inch thick.

In large pot, add 2 cups rice with coconut milk/water and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and stir 1 minute. Turn heat down to medium-low and cover pot. Cook 15-20 minutes, checking to stir rice and add remaining water as needed. Let rice cool so that it is no longer steaming.

Juice lime and pour over rice. Stir in cilantro and salt lightly. Fold in mango chunks. Turn heat to medium, until rice is just hot again, being careful not to burn rice.

Eat with Chicken Breasts with Passion Fruit Sauce

Chicken Breasts with Passion Fruit Sauce


Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Juice of 1 lime
Salt
White Pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup (2 ounces, a little more than 1 shot) of brandy or rum
1/4 cup thawed Goya passion fruit (maricuya) pulp
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons cane sugar
1/4 cup light whipping cream (or evaporated skim milk)

Wash chicken breasts under cool running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Place between 2 sheets of wax paper and pound breasts thin. Place in large bowl, season with salt and pepper and pour lime juice over breasts. Turn once to ensure even coverage. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

Melt butter and oil in large saute pan over medium heat until butter melts. Add chicken breasts and pan fry for 3 minutes, then flip and cook additional 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set on a plate covered with paper towels.

Drain fat from pan. Add rum or brandy and deglaze saute pan, scraping bits off of pan bottom. Add passion fruit pulp, orange juice, sugar and cook over medium high heat so that liquids are lightly boiling. When liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup, add cream and stir into juice mixture. Add chicken breasts and adjust heat so that liquid is just simmering. Cook an additional 3 minutes on each side, test for done-ness (cut breast, inside should not be pink and juices will run clear). Taste sauce and add sugar if too tart. Transfer breasts to plate and drizzle sauce on top.

Serve with Coconut Rice with Mango Chunks

Dancing on the Beach with a Pina Colada

So I bought tickets as a Christmas present to myself to visit the boyfriend & co for New Year's Eve. My first Spanish holiday in sunny Santo Domingo! : ) Super excited for many reasons, and the Dominican Republic's food is definitely one of them. I aim to eat, and get recipes for the following:

La Bandera: rice, beans, meat, vegetables and fried plantains
Habichuelas con Arroz: Good 'ole rice and beans. I'm already down with making the Cuban moros y cristianos but have yet to learn the red Dominican beans.
Bizcocho: Dominican cake with lime, orange juice, lots of buttery goodness
Mofongo: mashed plantains with chicken broth and usually pork or chicken meat, fried twice and I suspect a good hangover remedy.
Sancocho: THE Dominican stew. A bagillion types of meats go into this. I am a bit scared to eat it, and more afraid to cook it.

Also psyched to eat mamey, or, as called in the Dominican Republic, SAPOTE.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Moro de Guandules



Ingredients:
2 cups of rice
1 cups of pigeon peas, soaked in water overnight
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 minced cloves of garlic
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 diced onion
1/2 chopped green bell pepper
1/2 chopped red bell pepper
1 chopped rib of celery.
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup coconut milk
2-3 cups of water
2 cups of chicken broth

Soak peas overnight. Rinse well and drain water.

Heat oil in large stew pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, peppers and celery and saute for 3 minutes. Turn heat to medium. 

Add tomato paste and cook 5 minutes. 

Add pigeon peas, remaining oil and chicken broth and bring to simmer until peas are soft. 

Add 4 cups water and bring to boil. 

Add rice and stir occasionally -do not over stir, or the rice will get mushy and you will call your boyfriend upset that you have ruined "everything." Not just your thanksgiving meal, but everything ; )

If mixture is drying out, add extra water until rice is done, about 20-30 minutes.

Puerco Asado (Cuban Pork Roast)

Since home is many miles and many dollars away, it just makes more sense to stay in Boston for Thanksgiving. The BF will be here as he has school and is from the Caribbean (lucky ba$tard).
SO, I am going to make a Cuban pork roast with a mojo dipping sauce, paired with rice and peas (arroz con guandules), maduros (fried sweet plantains) and probably an apple pie, just because I do love apple pie. A little apprehensive about dealing with an entire pig shoulder, skin on (ew) but I have eaten puerco asado and it is REALLY tender and delicious.

The ingredients:
6 cups bitter orange juice (sold at Platanero in Dudley Square, or probably at any of the small shops in Jamaica Plain)
Zest of bitter orange
1/3 cup fresh oregano
2 heads of garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1 bone-in pork shoulder (mine was 9 pounds)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Wash and peel garlic cloves. Coarsely chop garlic. Add 1/4 of garlic to juice and zest.

Wash and mince oregano. Add 1/2 to juice.

Make small slits in pork skin and push garlic under skin. Whisk together the oil and remaining oregano in a large roasting pan, add the pork and turn to coat. Pour citrus marinade over pork. Cover, and let marinate overnight in refrigerator, covered.

Preheat oven to 450. Season pork with pepper and generously rub with salt, to help crisp skin. Place in large roasting pan, on bottom rack of oven. . Cook 30 minutes. Remove from oven, turn heat down to 250. Pour marinade over pork. Cover with aluminum foil. Baste every 45 minutes or so with marinade. Cook 8 hours. Turn heat to 350 degrees and remove foil, cook additional hour or until internal temperature reads at least 170 degrees. Roast should be falling off of shoulder bone.

Remove pork from oven, let sit 10 minutes before cutting.

Update: After gorging ourselves with pork and the fixings...we cut off the remaining meat. I weighed myself, then weighed myself with a tupperware full of meat. We had 3.4 pounds of leftover pork. Makes a delicious Cuban sandwich...mmm...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Turkish Zucchini Fritters (Mücver)


These fritters are amazing with Greek yogurt mixed with lemon juice drizzled on top of them.

Ingredients:
2 zucchini (about 1 pound), finely chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
3 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
pepper
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup minced dill
1/2 cup (6-8 ounces) feta, crumbled

Fry onion in 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add the zucchini and saute, stirring until soft (about 3 minutes). Let cool.

In bowl, beat eggs with flour. Add feta cheese, pepper, herbs and mix well. Add the onion and zucchini and mix everything together.

Heat clean saute pan with remaining oil to medium-medium high. Drop scoops of mixture into pan (you can make several at the same time). Turn heat down to medium. Turn each fritter over once, until both sides have turned golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Jicama, Avocado, Bell Pepper and Black Bean Salad

This recipe is quite healthy for you! It is high in protein, fiber and vitamins and low in fat.

Ingredients:

1 jicama
1 avocado
1 can black beans
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper
1/2 Vidalia onion
1 lime
1/4 cup cilantro
Cumin
Paprika

Open beans and pour into colander. Rinse beans well and let dry. (Rinsing the beans removes the mysterious substance that makes people gassy. I know that isn't polite to talk about, but it's good to avoid being gassy).

Wash and peel onion. Dice as small as your patience allows. Mix with black beans in medium sized bowl. Rinse and mince cilantro, add to bean mixture. Add about 1/4 teaspoon cumin and 1/4 teaspoon paprika to beans. Wash bell peppers and cut into slender pieces about 1 1/2 inches long. Wash jicama and cut in half. Peel and cut into sticks that resemble french fries. Cut avocado into small chunks before serving.

Scoop bean mixture onto plates. Place jicama sticks and bell peppers and avocado on top of beans. Squeeze lime over salads.

*A grilled chicken breast would be a nice addition to this salad. I'd add a light splash of olive oil to add more moisture if using chicken.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Supposedly this is the "urban legend" chocolate chip cookie recipe. Some lady wanted to buy the recipe from a company and was told it would cost "two fifty". She was excited and bought it for....$250 and as a results decided to spill the company's secret recipe. Either way, it makes some d@mn fine cookies.

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt (if using salted butter, omit extra salt)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, grated (I just use a butcher knife and chop up Baker's baking chocolate squares on a cutting board)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, oats, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to butter and sugar mixture. Mix together. Add chocolate chips and grated chocolate.
Drop by rounded teaspoons onto lightly-greased cookie sheets. Place in freezer for 1-2 minutes or refrigerator for about 4 minutes to firm up dough before baking. This prevents the cookie from becoming flat and crispy.

Bake for about 8 minutes in the preheated oven (removing right before they are about to turn golden) for soft, chewy cookies.
Let sit 1 minute on cookie sheet then use a pancake spatula to remove and let cook on cookie racks.

I like to make a full recipe, cook a dozen, and freeze the rest as logs of cookie dough that I wrap well with saran wrap and then aluminum foil. That way, I can have a hot cookie fresh out of the oven whenever I crave them. Which is pretty often.

Beef Bourguignon

Ingredients:

3 lbs beef chuck
Optional 1/2 cup brandy
Optional 2 strips bacon, diced
1/2 cup flour
1 bottle full-bodied dry red wine (Bordeaux, Cabernet, Zinfandel)
2 celery ribs
2 large carrots, or about 12 baby carrots
2 onions
1 head garlic
12 oz baby bella (crimini) mushrooms
1 pound pearl (boiling) onions
1 tablespoon tomato paste, or 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 cups beef stock, optional
Salt
Pepper
Rosemary
Thyme
Parsley
2 pounds baby potatoes

Before you begin cooking, wash the onions, carrots and celery. Cut celery and carrots into 1/4 inch thick pieces, dice the 2 regular onions and mince the garlic. Set aside.

Mix flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in Ziploc bag.

Cut chuck into 1/2 inch thick square chunks and coat with flour mixture.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in pan over medium-high heat, being careful not to burn the butter. Add meat pieces in 2 batches and brown well on all sides. (If you cannot brown every side, it is not the end of the world, it'll do). Remove meat and put in bowl.

Add brandy to and let simmer about 5 minutes to deglaze the pan, scraping up any beef or bacon fat left in pan. Pour over beef chunks.

In large stew pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat and add the bacon and cook for 2 minutes. Add the prepared vegetables to the pan and saute about 5-7 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook one more minute. If using canned diced tomatoes, add to pan after vegetables have been cooking for 5 minutes and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Add meat and juices to pan. Add 1 teaspoon parsley, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary and 1 teaspoon thyme. Liberally add freshly ground pepper. Pour bottle of wine over everything. Turn heat to medium until stew begins to simmer. When first bubbles appear, turn heat down to medium low to maintain a simmer but avoid boiling. This level of heat will dissolve tough collagenous tissue but reserve natural meat juices. Cook at a simmer for about 3 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
If stew looks dry, add beef stock as needed.

Cut ends off of pearl onions. Cook for 1-2 minutes in boiling water. Strain and run cold water over onions. Let cook, then peel. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in saute pan and cook onions over medium-high heat until onions are golden. Add to stew.

Wash mushrooms, cut off stems and slice thinly. Melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat and saute mushrooms about 8 minutes or until liquid has evaporated. Add mushrooms to stew.

Cook stew additional 30 minutes at simmer.

While stew is simmering, boil large pot of salted water and cook potatoes until tender or a knife can easily pierce them. Rinse with cold water and remove peel and cut potatoes in half.

Place potatoes on large plate and top with beef stew.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Roasted Butternut Squash, Rosemary, and Garlic Lasagna

This is one of my favorite fall recipes. I got it from www.epicurious.com and tweaked it to make it a little bit healthier.

2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups skim milk
2 tablespoons dried rosemary, crumbled
2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/3 stick butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 box lasagna noodles
1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan (about 5 ounces)
1 cup lite whipping cream (if you prefer, you can add 1 can evaporated skim milk to sauce and substitute sauce for top layer of cream).

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

If you are using a whole squash, I would recommend purchasing one that is about 3 to 3 1/2 pounds. To ease peeling, stab squash once or twice to create a steam vent, then microwave for about 5-7 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel squash and remove stringy pulp inside. Cut into small cubes. Toss with oil. Roast in pan about 20 minutes, flipping it midway through cooking time. Take out when turning golden brown and easily cut with knife. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees.

When squash is roasting, simmer milk with dried rosemary over medium-low heat for 10 minutes (time starts when milk first starts to form bubbles, if starting to boil, turn heat down). Place strainer over medium bowl and strain milk.

Fill large pot with water. When boiling, add lasagne noodles and cook according to box directions, checking to make sure noodles do not stick to each other. Strain and set aside.

While pasta water is heating up, melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and turn down to medium-low to avoid browning. Cook about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in flours and stir continuously for 3 minutes. Pour strained milk into pan a little at a time, whisking into roux (flour/butter mixture). Cook additional 7-10 minutes over low heat, or until mixture thickens. Stir in squash and grind fresh black pepper to taste.

Grease a 13 by 9 inch baking dish.

Pour about 1/3 sauce into baking dish, spreading it around to cover bottom of dish. Cover with 3 lasagna sheets. Spread 1/3 of sauce over sheets and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Repeat for one additional layer.

If using whipping cream, use mixer to beat cream in large bowl until it holds soft peaks and spread evenly over top pasta layer, covering it evenly. If not using cream, use remaining sauce to cover top of lasagna.

Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese on top of lasagna. Cover with aluminum foil, tenting slightly to prevent it from sticking to lasagna. Bake for 30 minutes in middle rack of oven. Remove foil and bake additional 10 minutes, or until top is bubbling and turning brown. Remove from oven and let stand about 5-10 minutes before cutting.

Asiago & Bell Pepper Omelet

I made this omelet visiting my parents in Minnesota this summer. We had bell peppers from the Farmer's Market and fresh eggs from a friend's farm. I ate it sitting outside on our balcony overlooking Lake Superior.

Ingredients:

6 eggs
1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 orange or yellow bell pepper
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil

Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in large saucepan.
Wash bell peppers and cut into long, thin pieces. Add to saucepan and saute for about 5 minutes. Remove peppers from pan. Turn heat up to medium-high. Break eggs into bowl and whisk vigorously. Add dash of salt and pepper and mix in. Pour eggs into saucepan and immediately turn heat down to medium. Let cook for about two minutes and using a spatula to loosen egg from bottom of pan. Add bell peppers to top of eggs and sprinkle Asiago cheese on top. Carefully fold over omelet and cook for an additional minute, or until eggs have set. Cut into two pieces and serve.

When I had this, I had Asiago cheese bagels from Brueggers that I toasted and served each omelet on 1/2 bagel. Yum!

Parmesan Chicken

This is one of my go-to recipes. It always turns out and I usually have the ingredients in my fridge. I got it (I think) from Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. It is nicely paired with a side of baby greens with citronette dressing or a caprese salad.

4 chicken
breasts
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 large eggs
3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or a Parmesan-Romano blend)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Wax paper
Meat mallet

Preheat oven to 275. Place pie dish in oven on middle rack

Rinse chicken breasts under cold running water and cut off any visible fat. Dry them with a paper towel and place one breast between two sheets of wax paper onto top of a large cutting board. Pound meat on one side, then flip over and pound until it is about 1/4 inch thin (more or less). Repeat with additional breasts.

Combine flour with pepper and salt in large ziploc bag or on large plate.

In a medium-large bowl, break eggs and beat them. The bowl should be big enough to fit the breasts.

Mix bread crumbs and cheese on large dinner plate.

Using large saute pan, melt 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium heat, if begins to sizzle/brown, turn heat down to medium low.

Coat chicken breasts evenly with flour. Dredge in egg mixture. Then place on bread crumb cheese mixture and flip, making sure the whole breast has been covered.

Place in saute pan and turn heat down to medium low. Two chicken breasts should be cooked at a time for about 3 minutes on each side. After sauteing, place in pie dish in oven. Repeat with remaining breasts, using the rest of the oil and butter. Leave breasts in oven for about 10 minutes, until table is set and you are ready to eat. They will come out incredibly moist with a crispy cheese breading.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tropical Rum Punch

I made this recently for a Halloween party - gone within the first 45 minutes or so...
AND it has fruit, so it is totally good for you, right? Probably provides 2 or 3 of your daily recommended servings : )

Ingredients:

375ml rum I recommend something like Brugal blanco which runs at about 10 bucks.
Bottle of strawberry lemonade. I got mine at Trader Joe's.
1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced thinly.
1 pound pineapple, can be fresh or frozen, cut into small chunks (avoid canned at all costs!)
2 cups diced mango. Again, I bought mine frozen at Trader Joe's. Hey, it cooled the lemonade and rum...instant ice cubes!
1 can of concentrated orange juice & recommended amount of water.
Ice cubes to serve.

You can make this stronger or weaker as you like, however the sweetness of the fruits tends to mask the alcohol taste, so be warned. Too much of a good thing can be wonderful...but not if you are hungover the next day ; )

Bistecca Fiorentina (Florentine Steak)


If God had wanted us to be a vegetarians, he wouldn't have made steak taste so good. Nothing shows someone you love them like steak. Or rather, I'll love anyone who feeds me a good, medium rare juicy cut of beef. : )

Ingredients:

2 rib eye (Delmonico) steaks
Olive oil
1 head garlic

Freshly ground black pepper
Salt

1 lemon
Parmesan cheese (either shaved, or shave your own using a vegetable peeler)
Arugula or spinach

Mince garlic and sprinkle 1/2 over steaks. Drizzle olive oil until steaks are well-covered. Grind pepper over steaks. Flip steaks and cover the other sides. Seal in Ziploc bag and let marinate for a minimum of 12 hours.

Turn grill to high for 10-15 minutes to warm up. Lightly salt both sides of steaks. Grill steak for 4 minutes, then flip and grill on other side for 4 minutes. This will cook the steaks to a juicy medium-rare. Let sit at least 5 minutes before cutting, as the steak will re-absorb its juices. If it is cut right away, all of the juiciness will flow onto the plate.

Cut lemon into 6 wedges. Place steaks on top of washed arugula. Shave Parmesan into curls on top of steak and greens. Squeeze lemons on top of everything. The sweetness of the steak is cut by the bitterness of the greens and the tart lemon.

Serve with a good, crusty bread like ciabatta. In Boston, a great ciabatta is sold in the South End at Las Ventas. It's less than 3 dollars and seriously the best I have found to date.

A nice, dry red wine such as an Argentine Malbec or Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon makes this meal heaven.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Caramel Apple Puffed Pancake


Preheat oven to 425 degrees, set oven rack in the middle of the oven.

For Apple Filling:
3 medium apples
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Peel apples and slice into thin pieces. Toss with vanilla, cinnamon, lemon juice and brown sugar. Melt butter over medium heat in saucepan. Add apple mixture and cook about 5 minutes, or until apples have softened.

For Pancake:
3 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2/3 cup flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon butter

Place 8 inch round pie pan in oven.

Using mixer, beat eggs, milk, flour and sugar together in medium bowl.

Melt tablespoon butter in pie pan. Pour pancake batter into pan. Scoop apple mixture over pancake. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until top is golden and puffy.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:
A medium sized pumpkin...a 2 pound pumpkin should make about 2 cups of roasted pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar (I like to use brown sugar for a richer flavor)
Cinnamon
Ginger
Molasses
Dash Salt
1 1/3 cups whole milk or evaporated skim milk
3 eggs
A pie shell (you can buy one or use a recipe on my site)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice pumpkin in half vertically (microwaving for a few minutes will make cutting easier...just make sure you stab it once or twice to avoid a pumpkin microwave bomb). Scoop out seeds and pulpy stuff, scraping with a spoon until you see solid pumpkin flesh. Lay pumpkin halves skin-side down on roasting pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and ginger. Sprinkle some water on top of pumpkin and in pan. Roast for about an hour to 1 1/2 hours, test with knife to see if done. If knife slides in easily, it can be taken out of the oven.

Turn oven down to 350 degrees.

After letting pumpkin cool, peel skin from pumpkin and cut pumpkin into chunks. Blend the pumpkin chunks, adding a little milk if necessary. Add 2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger. Add milk, 2 teaspoons molasses and eggs and beat lightly until ingredients are incorporated. Pour mixture into prepared pie crust. Cook for about an hour or until knife comes out clean. Let cool on cookie rack, then cover and refrigerate until serving

Rose Levy Beranbaum's Designer Apple Pie

I made this for my boyfriend to share with his business school group. When I asked him how they liked it, he told me that he ate the whole pie himself.

Open-Faced Designer Apple Pie Recipe (slightly adapted) from: The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Ingredients:
1 recipe Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust
for 9-inch lattice pie
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 1/2 lbs. apples; (about 6), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/8-inch (should equal 8 cups)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Make the dough. Remove one piece of dough from refrigerator. If necessary, allow it to sit for about 10 minutes until it is soft enough to roll. On floured pastry cloth or between 2 sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap, roll pastry 1/8 inch thick or less and large enough to cut 12-inch circle. Use expandable flan ring or cardboard template as guide and sharp knife to cut out circle. Transfer it to the pie plate. Trim the edge if necessary so that it extends 1/4 inch past edge of pie plate. Cover the pastry lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for minimum of 1 hour and maximum of 24 hours. Roll out the second piece of dough 1/8 inch thick and cut about twenty-six 2 1/2-inch leaves, using cutter or small sharp knife. Use small sharp knife to make veins. Cover and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees for at least 20 minutes before baking. Line the pastry with parchment, pleating it as necessary so it fits into the pan, and fill it with dried beans or peas. Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully lift out the beans with parchment. With fork, prick the bottom and sides and bake 5-10 minutes more or until crust is pale golden. Check after 3 minutes and prick any bubbles that may have formed. Cool the crust on a rack 3 minutes, so it is no longer piping hot, then brush the bottom and sides with lightly beaten egg white.

In large bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, and salt; toss to mix. Allow the apples to macerate for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours at room temperature.Transfer the apples and their juices to colander over a bowl to capture the liquid. The mixture will release at least 1/2 cup of liquid. Over medium heat, boil down liquid with butter until syrupy and lightly caramelized. Swirl liquid but do not stir it. I like to add 1 additional tablespoon brown sugar and butter to increase the amount of syrup. Meanwhile, transfer the apples to a bowl and toss them with the cornstarch until all traces of it have disappeared. Pour 1/2 of the hot syrup over the apples, tossing gently. (If liquid hardens on contact with apples, allow them to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes or until moisture from apples dissolves it.) Arrange the apples, overlapping the slices in concentric circles in the pie shell, starting from the outside edge. Keep adding more apples, using the tip of a knife to help insert them in between the other slices, until you have used all the slices. Pour any remaining apple juices evenly over the apples. Brush the baked pie crust rim with egg. Brush the bottom of each leaf with egg and place the leaves on the border, tilting them and overlapping them slightly. Brush the top of the leaves with egg. Cover the pie loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes before baking to chill the pastry . This will maintain flakiness.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F for at least 20 minutes before baking. Set an oven rack at lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating. Place large piece of greased foil on top to catch any juices. Set the pie directly on foil-topped baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Cut a round of foil to fit over the apples and the edge of the crust and crimp it in 3 or 4 places to create dome. Cover pie with the foil and cut 3 steam vents in the foil, about 3 inches long. Continue baking for 45 to 50 minutes or until the juices bubble and apples feel tender but not mushy when pierced with a cake tester or small sharp knife. Remove the foil and pour the remaining syrup over apples. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes more or until the top of apples is golden brown. Remove pie to a rack.


Serve warm or at room temperature

Triple Chocolate Cookies with Espresso Filling


Ingredients:
10 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (look for a minimum of 55% cocoa)
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons all purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (if you only have salted butter, use that and omit the 1/2 teaspoon salt)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, set out to warm to room temperature
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 dash cinnamon
1 teaspoon instant espresso (instant coffee, while not as good, is okay)
6 oz (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 tub of mascarpone cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup whipping cream

Preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper. Stir chopped chocolate in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth; remove from over water. If you don't have a double boiler, use a small metal bowl set on top of a pot of simmering water. Remove from heat, let cool about 10 minutes.

Sift flour, cocoa , baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Use a mixer to beat sugar and butter in another medium bowl. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after adding. Beat until mixture is light and creamy (give or take 5 minutes). Add melted chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of instant espresso and beat just until blended. Fold in dry ingredients, then chocolate chips. Chill the dough in fridge for 60 minutes

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop batter and roll into balls, flatten them slightly then place onto wax paper-covered baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies until tops just begin to crack about 15 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets.

Add whipping cream to large mixing bowl. Add remaining 3/4 teaspoon of instant espresso and mascarpone. Beat until soft peaks form, add 1/2 tablespoon sugar, or to taste.

Spread mixture evenly over bottom side of cooled cookies, forming sandwiches. Refridgerate until ready to serve to prevent mascarpone mixture from softening.

Fruit Skewers with Vanilla-Mint Yogurt Dipping Sauce

I like to jazz up my fruit salads by using wooden kebab skewers to make an individual portion party guests can pick up and eat without needing a plate or fork. Arranged around a dip of vanilla yogurt with mint, the finished product is appealing to the eye AND to your taste buds.

Ingredients:
Wooden kebab skewers, cut in half
Small container vanilla yogurt
Fresh mint leaves

Pineapple, cut into small cubes

Strawberries

Bananas, thickly sliced

Watermelon, cut into cubes

Honeydew or Cantaloupe, cut into cubes

Rinse mint leaves and mince them finely. Scoop yogurt into small dipping bowl and mix in mint leaves. Cover and refrigerate until eating. Skewer fruit, alternating by color and type of fruit. Typically I use 3-4 pieces of fruit per skewer. Arrange skewers around dipping bowl placed on the center of large round serving plate. Stack them evenly so that the finished product resembles a flower.

*Fruit can be cut ahead of time (minus the bananas, as they tend to brown) and skewered before presenting. Feel free to substitute other fruits like kiwi, mango, papaya, apples, grapes, whatever you like and is in season!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche Mascarpone

This is my go-to dessert when I don't have a lot of time on my hands. It is easy to make-if you can stir and pour, you can make this cake. Also a gluten-free.

Ingredients:

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
6 eggs
1 cup cocoa powder
1 tub marscarpone
1 cup whipping Cream
1/2 cup dulce de leche, or to taste
2 8 inch round cake pans or cupcake liners and cupcake pans
Wax paper

Optional:
Instant coffee or espresso
Vanilla
Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt chocolate and butter in pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally. (If it bubbles, it is too hot, the melting should be gradual). When chocolate and butter have been melted, take off burner and set aside. Mix sugar and cocoa powder together in large bowl. Crack 6 eggs and put in separate bowl, whisk the eggs briefly. Add dry ingredients to chocolate mixture slowly, stirring until they have been incorporated. Add eggs and stir vigorously to incorporate. If you like, add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and a few shakes of ground cinnamon and mix in.

This recipe can make two 8 inch round layer cakes or about 20 cupcakes. If using cake pans, line the bottoms with wax paper to facilitate removal after cooking.

The cake takes about 30 minutes to cook, but check after 20-25 minutes. If a thin crust has formed on the top, it is done. Remove from oven and let rest on cookie rack for 5-10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of cake and flip onto plate.

The cupcakes take less time, 12-18 minutes, but check for the thin crust. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool on cookie rack.

Put large mixing bowl and whipping cream in freezer to chill for 5 minutes.
Scoop the mascarpone into the mixing bowl and pour in 1 cup whipping cream. Beat until soft peaks form. Add dulce de leche. Beat until stiff peaks form. Refridgerate.

When cakes have cooled, spread mascarpone mixture over the top of one cake layer. Place the second layer on top on press down gently. Spread remainder of masarpone onto top of cake. Refridgerate until serving. Toothpicks/kebabs can be used to ensure the top layer doesn't go anywhere before serving the cake! They also prevent cling wrap from sticking to the mascarpone.

For cupcakes, simply spread mascarpone on tops before serving.

Lemon Panna Cotta with Berry Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup whole milk
1 cup whipping cream (this can be reduced to 1/2 cup, if so, increase whole milk to 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (I sometimes use 1 t vanilla extract if I don't have vanilla beans on hand)
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup sugar (sometimes I use a bit less if my topping is sweet)
1 cup crème fraîche*(A cheaper option is 1/2 sour cream & 1/2 plain yogurt)
2 tablespoons lemon zest
3 c frozen berries (about 12 ounces), thawed, drained, juices reserved
3 tablespoons sugar

Mix milk and cream in saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to simmer. Remove from heat. Cover; let steep (cover) 30 minutes. Remove vanilla bean.

Pour lemon juice into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 10 minutes. Stir sugar and gelatin mixture into milk mixture. Stir over low heat until sugar and gelatin dissolves. Remove immediately from heat. Whisk in crème fraîche mixture and lemon peel. Divide among ramekins. Cover; chill until set. It typically needs at least 5 hours to set.

Puree berries (reserving a few for garnish) and all reserved juices and sugar in blender. Strain mixture into medium bowl, pressing to get out all of the juices . Discard solids in strainer. Stir remaining berries into sauce. The sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until serving time.

Run small knife around panna cotta. Place bottoms of ramekins in bowl of hot water briefly to loosen them. Place plate atop ramekin. Hold plate and ramekin together and flip gently to removed panna cotta. Serve with sauce.

Makes 6 large servings.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thanksgiving: Rosemary, Garlic and Prosciutto Turkey

1 turkey
3 tablespoons of fresh minced rosemary
8 cloves chopped garlic (depending on size of bird)
8 ounces thinly sliced, chopped prosciutto
Olive oil
3 whole heads garlic, each cut in half horizontally
Canned chicken broth

Rinse turkey with cool water. Pat bird dry. Run hands under skin, separating skin from breast and thighs. (This is where you might want to buy the bird a drink first...)

Carefully arrange half of prosciutto, rosemary and all of minced garlic under skin over breast and thighs. Rub remaining rosemary and prosciutto inside cavity of bird and leave inside for roasting.

Place bird in roasting pan. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Rub outside of bird with oil. Season with pepper. Place 1 head garlic in cavity of bird. Place 2 heads of garlic in roasting pan. Tie bird legs together.

Roast 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Continue roasting bird until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, basting occasionally with chicken broth, about 3 hours. The white meat in the breast should be 160°F to 165°F. If you don't have a meat thermometer, spear the breast with a knife. The turkey juices should be clear, not pink.

Transfer to platter. Surround with roasted garlic from cavity. Tent bird with foil until serving.