Friday, July 31, 2009

Blue Cheese Burgers with Portobello Mushroom Caps

This recipe can be altered to suit your tastes-I used blue cheese, but feta, cheddar, jalapeno jack, Gouda-anything can be used in its place!

2 lb lean ground beef
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2-1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (depending on how much you like it)
1 medium Vidalia onion (already diced and sauteed in olive oil until translucent)
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 large portobello mushroom caps
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 hamburger buns

Using your hands, mix together beef, garlic, onion, salt, pepper and blue cheese.

Form into 8 burger patties (with the added ingredients they are about 1/3 lb patties).

Thoroughly wash mushroom caps and let dry. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Heat grill on medium-high.

Brush each side of burger with a little olive oil to prevent from sticking to grill.

Sear burgers about 2 minutes on each side.

Turn heat down to medium. Add mushroom caps to grill.

Cook burgers and mushroom caps about 8-10 minutes, flipping once to cook evenly.

Remove burgers and mushroom caps from grill. Slice mushrooms into strips.

Grill buns until lightly toasted.

Place burgers on their respective buns, top with a few strips of mushrooms and garlic aioli, mushroom, ketchup or whatever your stomach desires!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Whipped Hummus

I first fell in love with hummus at an Arab Students Association event at Tufts. It was creamy, flavorful and very satisfying. My friend let me know the source-Cafe Barada, a small Lebanese restaurant located outside of Porter Square in Cambridge. This is my recreation of their hummus-I hope that you enjoy it!

2 cups canned chickpeas

1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1 lemon

Fresh parsley leaves

Rinse chickpeas well with water, drain and let dry.

Rinse a handful of parsley leaves and let dry.

Chop up garlic cloves coarsely. Juice lemon.

Add 1/2 chickpeas, tahini, garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, yogurt, cumin and paprika in blender. Blend until smooth, add remaining chickpeas and lemon juice.

Place hummus on serving dish. Drizzle remaining olive oil over hummus. Garnish with parsley, cumin and paprika.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Passionfruit Panna Cotta with Raspberry Lime Coulis

2 cups light cream
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup thawed Goya passionfruit pulp
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons hot water
3 teaspoons Knox gelatin

2 cups fresh raspberries
Zest of 1 lime
1-2 tablespoons sugar

To Make Panna Cotta:

Heat up cream, milk, passionfruit pulp and sugar in medium heavy sauce pot over medium-low heat. Cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If mixture begins to steam, turn heat down to avoid boiling. Remove from heat.

Whisk together hot water and gelatin in small bowl. Let dissolve for about 5 minutes. Stir in some hot passionfruit cream until gelatin dissolves.

Mix in gelatin mixture into passionfruit cream. Taste and add more sugar if cream is too tart. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Pour into 6-8 ramekins and refrigerate, covered with Saran wrap at least 4 hours.

To Make Raspberry-Lime Coulis:

Place 1 1/2 cup raspberries in a saucepan and add the lime zest. Mash with a fork and add 1 tablespoon, stirring until dissolved.

When the raspberries are just beginning to simmer, pour through a sieve into a bowl, pushing the berries with a large spoon to release the juice. Taste, adding more sugar if needed.

Serve panna cotta with raspberry-lime coulis. Garnish with fresh raspberries.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Vanilla Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce and Creme Anglaise

I have never been especially drawn to French cuisine - those who know me know Italian, Spanish and Caribbean occupy most of my heart and stomach - but lately I have found myself intrigued by the recipes in my Corden Bleu cookbook. This dessert is based off a similar recipe in my cookbook, altered for my convenience and taste.

For Creme Anglaise (adapted from Epicurious):

1 cup whole milk
1 2-inch piece vanilla bean, split
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar

Combine milk and vanilla in heavy sauce pan and bring to a simmer/boil. Remove from heat. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into yolk mixture. Return custard to saucepan. Stir over low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 5 minutes (do not boil). Strain sauce into bowl. Cover and chill.

For Chocolate Sauce:

2/3 cup whole milk
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Bring milk and vanilla to a simmer in small saucepan. Add chocolate and turn heat to low, whisking until melted and smooth. Cool sauce to room temperature.

For Pears:

1 bottle white wine, such as Viognier
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
Zest of 1/4 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 Bosc pears

Core and peel pears.

Place the white wine, water, sugar and vanilla and zest into a large saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium low and place the pears into the liquid, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes until the pears are tender but not mushy.

Remove the pears, stand them upright in a dish, and refrigerate.

To serve, scoop creme onto small dessert plates. Place pear upright over cream and drizzle with chocolate sauce.

Happy Eating,


Friday, July 10, 2009

Pan Seared Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri

Every Thursday, there is a lovely farmer's market in Coolidge Corner, Brookline, MA. Now that my schedule is more flexible, I have delighted in visiting the various local vendors and purchasing local meats, cheese, bread as well as the traditional fruits and vegetables. I decided to make a nice, romantic meal for two last night featuring the market's products.

Last week I purchased a small log of aged goat cheese from Westfield Farm
. I managed to eat it in under 24 hours : ) Thus, I decided it would be an appropriate choice for my meal. I bought a loaf of ciabatta from Clear Flour Bread, an amazing bakery in Brookline, to serve with the cheese and a bottle of dry red wine-a blend of malbec, cabernet sauvignon and merlot.

I made homemade chimichurri, both to marinade the steak and to use as a sauce for the cooked steaks.

To make the chimichurri:

1/4 cup minced cilantro
2 roasted piquillo peppers, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin

I bought flat iron steak from River Rock Farm, that sells fresh beef at the farmer's market. Flat iron is a relatively new cut of beef, created from removing a very tough piece of gristle from an otherwise tender and flavorful cut of meat. River Rock Farm sells meat from steers raised in pastures, without the use of artificial growth hormones or feed additives. All meat is aged for 14-28 days for maximum taste and tenderness.

Using a fork, poke small holes throughout the steak, flip it and repeated the process. Use 1/2 of the chimichurri as a marinade for the steak, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours; remove from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.

To cook, preheat the oven to broil then lightly oil and heat up a cast iron pan with raised grilling edges over medium high heat.
When the pan becomes hot, place steak in pan, cooking about 3 minutes on each side to sear. Place pan in oven about 5 inches from broiler and cook additional 5 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes on plate before slicing. Spoon chimichurri over sliced steak and enjoy!

YUM! The end result was delicious. I highly suggest buying local meat if you can, the flavor was rich and the meat unbelievably tender.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Guava and Passion Fruit Popsicles

3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons water
1 cup guava nectar
1/2 cup passion fruit juice
2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice

Combine sugar and water. Stir to dissolve sugar. Stir in guava nectar, lime juice and passion fruit juice.

Divide mixture among eight Popsicle molds.

(If you don't have Popsicle mold, buy 3 oz paper or plastic cups. Freeze for 3 hours or until firm. When mixture is slushy but not solid, add wood handle-the kind you use for caramel apple).

Freeze for 3 to 4 hours or until firm. Makes 8 Popsicles.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Open Faced Peach & Raspberry Pie

1 pie crust (bottom only, for a 9 inch pie dish)

3 1/2 lbs ripe peaches
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup raspberries
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons apricot preserves

Preheat oven to 375.

Cut the bottom of each peach. Cook the peaches in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove and place in bowl of ice water. Let cool, then peel off skins.

Slice the peaches into 3/4 inch thick slice, and toss with the lemon juice to prevent discoloring.

Add 1/2 of the peaches to raspberries, vanilla, cornstarch and sugar; toss well. (If peaches are not very sweet, add additional 2 tablespoons sugar).

Lightly brush crust with the egg white.

Fill pie crust with raspberry-peach filling. Arrange peach slices in concentric rings so that the pie resembles a flower.

Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until the juices are bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Brush with apricot preserves. Cook another 15 minutes until bubbling.

Let the pie cool on a wire rack before serving.

Serve with creme fraiche, vanilla ice cream or whipping cream.

Happy Eating,


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Black Bean, Red Bell Pepper and Shrimp Stew

This is pretty similar to my vegan black beans and rice recipe. In this version, I add red bell pepper, corn and shrimp to the beans, creating a healthy Caribbean stew served with white rice that is a bit lighter than its beans-only version. (Photos will be posted tonight!) Other fun option would be the addition of sweet plantains or chorizo to the black bean soup.


1 1 lb bag dried black beans
4 cups chicken stock
2 onions, diced
1 head garlic, chopped finely
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons pimenton (Spanish paprika)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup frozen corn
1 lb large shrimp, de-veined and peeled
4 cups cooked white rice
2 limes, cut into wedges
2 avocados

Rinse beans very well in cold water and let drain. Put in large stew pot and cover with water, so that there is about 3 inches of water above beans. Let beans soak overnight or 8 hours.

Drain beans and rinse well and drain again. (For some reason, the rinsing gets rid of most of the substance that gives people indigestion).

Heat olive oil in stew pot over medium high heat. Add onions, bell peppers and garlic. Turn heat to medium and saute, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until vegetables have softened.

Add tomato paste, spices, and vinegar and cook 3 minutes.

Add beans and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Turn beans down to soft boil and cook 3-4 hours, or until they are almost soft enough to eat.

Stir in frozen corn, and bring to a soft boil. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp turns pink.

Scoop white rice onto plates. Ladle soup over rice. Serve with sliced avocado and lime wedges.