Monthly Archives: July 2010

Berries and Brown Sugar Gratin

  

Boy, do I have a treat for you today. First, I’m going to tell you how this was so brutally amazing.  And second, I’m going to tell you the story behind why I made it:

It was approximately 9:50 in the evening, just minutes after completing my bedtime prep routine and seconds before I was to crawl into the sheets  with  Elizabeth Gilbert and her chapter on yogi soul-searching when, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a still and mysterious shadow lurking in the hallway.   As I turned my body to investigate further, I discovered a tall handsome man masked by the facade of a young school boy who appeared as if he had just been harshly scorned. With arms stiff to his  side and chin pointing down towards the ground,  I was expecting some type of  involuntary apology for throwing a spitball into my hair. Or a confession that he had just stole my afternoon snack and sold it for candy.  I made direct eye contact with him to ask if he was ok.  In his deepest, most manly voice, he replied: “Will you make me a gourmet dessert?” 

Yep, that’s exactly how it went down.  Just 2 minutes prior to me retiring into the plush white sheets, it was being requested by the foodie monster I’ve created (he’s not really a monster, I just used that word for dramatic effect) to develop a gourmet dessert.  I’m not really sure what constitutes as  “gourmet”, but I do know what is definitely not gourmet – which were all of the things quickly rushing through my head while trying to come up with something – anything! – so I could hurry back to my bedtime read. Finally, it hit me. I remembered seeing this 3-ingredient, 5-minute delight on the Smitten Kitchen’s website, the other day.  Her recipe called for raspberries and sour cream, but with the mixed berries and greek yogurt we had in the fridge, it was the perfect substitute.

I would say the next time you have a request for a gourmet dessert right before you are hopping into bed, try this out.  But instead, I’m going to tell you that this really, really needs to be planned ahead.  Not because it takes 5 minutes to make, but because it is so heavenly delicious that you need to set aside a special time to sit down and savor each individual bite.  Trust me.

 

Berries and Brown Sugar Gratin

 (Courtesy of Smitten Kitchen)

Serve with shortbread cookies for an ultimate delight!

– 2 cups of fresh berries

-2 cups of greek yogurt

-1 cup of brown sugar

Spread a layer of yogurt on the bottom of a ramekin and place berries on top (repeat for all ramekins).   Spread a second layer of yogurt on top of berries and press the brown sugar through a sieve or mesh colander so that it sprinkles evenly over the dish.  Broil under high until sugar begins to caramelize.

1 Comment

Filed under Healthy Options, Recipes, Sweet Treats, Uncategorized

Rosemary-Goat Cheese Potato Chips

 

I know what you’re thinking.  But just let me explain…

I’ve decided that if we’re going to have any type of long-term relationship, you deserve to know the truth.  So, here I am, in front of you, bearing no shame as I confess my gluttenous  small obsession for an irresistably smooth, slightly tangy – but oh so creamy – melt in your freaking mouth sensation.  More widely known as goat cheese.  If I told you that I would try to slow it down on the postings, I would be lying.  And that, my friend, is no way to build a solid foundation when just starting off (plus I try to stay on God’s good side).  So, I hope you will be able to look past this minor little weakness and join me as I swoon over these salted crispy spuds with a hint of freshly cracked pepper, drizzle of rosemary oil, and beautiful goat cheese crumbles.

 Rosemary-Goat Cheese Potato Chips

These can be enjoyed rustic-style in a large bowl, or for a more elegant touch these also make a great bite-sized hor’dourve.

  • 3 Large Potatoes, peeled
  • Peanut Oil (or vegetable oil if you do not have peanut oil)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 4 Sprigs of Rosemary
  • One small Goat Cheese Log

Roughly chop rosemary and combine in small bowl with olive oil.  Set aside. Slice peeled potatoes with a mandoline (or slice thinly with a knife).  If you do not have a deep fryer, fill a medium-large saucepan half-way with peanut oil and heat to about 350 degrees.  Once oil is hot, add potatoes one small batch at a time.  With metal tongs stir potatoes a to ensure they do not stick together.  Once chips are lightly browned remove from oil and drain on prepared paper towels.  Immediately season with salt and pepper and finish remaining batches.

Once potatoes are all prepared, top with rosemary drizzle and crumbled goat cheese.

2 Comments

Filed under All Posts, Goat Cheese, Recipes, Uncategorized

Banbanji Chilled Sesame Chicken

Allow me to sweep you across the Pacific today as we visit a land of rice brewed beverages, incredibly fresh tuna, and one of the most intriguing cultures in existence.  I was a lucky 17-year-old when I was invited to Japan by a good friend and his wife, who was an Osaka native. My knowledge of Japanese cuisine, at the time – or should I say what I thought I knew – was on par with my ability to use chopsticks — embarrassing and a little…off.  But as each day of my adventure unfolded, my hunger grew stronger and my appreciation fonder.

A whole new definition of soul food was brought to life, for me. The type of soul that originates from a deep-rooted society of tradition and history where food is an undeniable way of life and meaning to their existence.  With each meal the most fresh and pure ingredients are prepared in the simplest of ways to create captivating presentations and unforgettable flavors. 

This dish was made for me by my host mother after I expressed my love for the fresh seasonal flavors and the sweet taste of sesame.  It ‘s been nearly ten years, and I can still taste that first bite of pleasure hitting my tongue.  The recipe below was taken from the only Japanese cookbook I could find in English! Arigato gozaimasu Japan!

Banbanji Chilled Sesame Chicken

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 pack bean sprouts
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 3/4 cup roasted white sesame seeds
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp mirin (or 3 Tbsp sake + Tbsp sugar)
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 12 cherry tomatoes halved
  1. Place chicken in pan of lightly salted water boiling water and boil for about 10 minutes. Allow to cool in the water. Remove chicken reserving the stock. When cool, tear chicken into long strips by hand.
  2. In separate pan, blanch bean sprouts, rinse immediately in cold water and drain.
  3. Slice cucumbers diagonally into matchsticks.
  4. Make the sauce by grinding sesame seeds with a grinder or food processor. Add soy, mirin and vinegar and mix in some reserved stock, a little at a time until mixture becomes smooth.
  5. Arrange sprouts, chicken and cucumbers on plate and dress with sesame sauce. Serve with cherry tomatoes.

Leave a comment

Filed under A taste of Asia, All Posts, Healthy Options, Recipes - Chicken, Scrumpdidily Salads

Put the spark back into your spoon

Some of you don’t share the same enthusiasm for cooking as I do.  And I get that.  I really do!  I understand how difficult it is to come home from a long day of work, an hour of sitting in New Jersey traffic, feed the dog, bathe the baby (Ok, I don’t have a baby. Or a dog – but I could imagine), watch Oprah on dvr, do the laundry, and then have to worry about cooking dinner too?  Cooking is not always as glamorous as Paula Deen makes it out to be. I love how she stands in the middle of a pristine kitchen with makeup and hair fully done and ingredients that just happen to be conveniently measured out within arms reach.  I mean, really?  Who actually has time to make sure their collar stays popped and their lips stay a rosy shade of Russian Red while stirring, sautéing, and whisking all at the same time?  Tsk

Glamorous?  Not always.  Fun? Yes!  I’m here to tell you that it can be fun, and should be fun!  Here are some of my tips for keeping things exciting in the kitchen:

  1. Be confident. Michael Ruhlman said it best when he wrote about The Worlds Most Difficult Roasted Chicken Recipe.  It doesn’t have to be complicated to be good. Read this!
  2. Try a new ingredient. Do you like asparagus?  Try white asparagus.  What about fresh artichokes?  Plantains? A new cut of meat?  For every few recipes you make, try one ingredient you’ve never used before. The anticipation for trying a new ingredient keeps things fresh and exciting.
  3. Let the recipes come to you.  Do you know what I love most about blogging? (Well, other than being able to say whatever the hell I want and then duck and hide behind a tiny 12pt, Times New Roman font – that’s actually my favorite) But secondly, I love having the opportunity to inspire people through a daily blog that can be delivered directly their inbox.  There are gobs of excellent food blogs out there.  And they are free!  Find a few that you like and that inspire you.  Subscribe to them and let the ideas come to you.
  4. Clean as you go! This one is huge for me.  As a culinary school graduate, being clean and organized in the kitchen is the most important step.  Instead of letting the dishes pile up into an overwhleming mound, clean them as you go.  Not only will this help keep things moving smoothly, but this will also prevent you from having tons of work to do at the end.
  5. Eat with the ones you love.  Even if it’s for a mere 30 minutes a night, sit down and enjoy your work with your family. And if you live by yourself still sit down at the table with your settings in place, napkin on your lap and knife and fork in hand. And if you have fine china, use it! Why the heck not?
  6. Turn on some tunes. Trust me, it helps.  I could never go to the gym for a full hour if I didn’t have music to distract me from my I-can’t-wait-to-get-off-this-dang-treadmill thoughts.  Crank up your ipod with your favorite tunes and let the beats engulf you in the moment.
  7. And lastly, Don’t take yourself too seriously…and always keep a frozen pizza on reserve in case you royally screw up.

2 Comments

Filed under All Posts, Tips and Tools, Uncategorized

Black Bean Salsa – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Please!

 

Everyone has those one or two regulars in their diet that show up on a weekly, sometimes even daily basis.  You try to push them away, switch things up a bit, but no matter how hard you try they keep popping up in the forefront of your memory.  This is my regular – Black Bean Salsa.   I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – and sometimes I do!  I make a large bowl, seal it with a lid, and then all the work is done when I want to enjoy it with anything I choose. Here are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

Breakfast:

Huevos Rancheros – Fried eggs topped with melted cheddar and monterey cheeses, and black bean salsa

Breakfast Burrito – Scrambled eggs, black bean salsa, peppers, cheese, dash of hot sauce, wrapped up in a warm tortilla

Lunch:

Mixed Greens Salad with Blackened Salmon and Black Bean Salsa, with a Citrus Vinaigrette

Cheese and Black Bean Quesadilla

Southwestern Chicken Wrap – Chicken, black beans, pepper jack cheese, lettuce and chipotle mayo wrapped up in a tortilla

Dinner:

Skirt Steak Soft Tacos – Shredded lettuce, guacamole, cheese and black beans

Caribbean Jerk Chicken with Grilled Pineapple and Black Bean Salsa  

Citrus Marinated Tilapia with Black Bean Salsa and Rice

 

 

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

The variations of this are endless. You could add mangoes, pineapples, avocados, bell peppers, white beans, etc.  Here is my basic (and absolutely delicious) version:

  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups of corn (preferably off the cob if available)
  • 2 tomatoes, guts cleaned out and diced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, insides scraped out and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lime juiced
  • kosher salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.

 

3 Comments

Filed under All Posts, Appetizers and the likes, Healthy Options, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Portobello and Roasted Vegetable Napoleon

Who doesn’t love eating foods that look just as beautiful and sensual as they taste? (aka food porn) Each layer of this Napoleon compliments its former more than the next.  Balsamic marinated vegetables lay between soft mozzarella perfumed with fresh basil, and all sitting upright on a bed of peppery arugula.  Simple, yet sophisticated – light, yet satisfying – easy, yet impeccable. 

Place vegetables of choice (in this case, Portobellos, Bell Peppers and Zucchini) in large bag and marinate with Balsamic, Olive Oil, Crushed Garlic, Salt, Pepper and Dried Herbs (Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano). Roast vegetables in oven on 425 degrees for approximately 20 minutes (depending on size of veg – you may have to roast longer or shorter).

Let vegetables rest and come to room temp.  Layer with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, fresh cracked pepper and kosher salt, and drizzle a little marinade on top.

2 Comments

Filed under All Posts, Healthy Options, Seasonal - Summer, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Cheese and Spinach Raviolis with Toasted Pine Nuts and a Brown Butter-Sage Sauce

Happy Monday blog-land!  If you woke up this morning wanting to start this week off right – you’ve come to the right spot!  I had some new toys to play with over the weekend (huge thanks to my future mother in-law and all in attendance at my lovely bridal shower luncheon) and I was finally able to try my hand at making pasta!  I will have to give myself a pat on the back for my first attempt. These swoon-worthy, delectably stuffed ravioli’s just left me hungry for more.

For my first shot I just used the basic pasta recipe straight from the Cuisine Art, pasta attachment recipes. 

For the filling:

  • 1 bag of baby spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 3 tbs parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Season spinach and saute with butter, garlic and shallots until spinach is cooked down.  Remove from heat and in large bowl mix spinach with ricotta and parmesan cheese.

For the Sauce:

  • Half a stick of butter
  • Handful of fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Pine Nuts
  • Parmesan Cheese

 While pasta is cooking in boiling water, heat butter in large saute pan making a Beurre Noisette (hazelnut brown butter) until color turns brown and nutty in flavor.  Remove from heat and add fresh sage, squeeze of lemon and salt/pepper.

Once the pasta is ready cut directly in half into two sheets.  Spoon out about a teaspoon of the filling onto one side of the pasta sheet and with an egg wash brush the remaining dough.  Place the second sheet of pasta on top and using a cutter (I used a biscuit cutter) cut out circles. Close the edges together by pressing a fork around entire edge.  Let ravioli’s sit for about a half hour and then boil in salted (and small dash of olive oil) water for about 4 minutes.

Pour finished sauce over hot pasta and toss with toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese to your liking.

  

3 Comments

Filed under All Posts, Pasta!, Recipes