Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Saffron Fingerling Potato Salad

This amazing salad keeps well for leftovers the next day...that is if there ARE leftovers.  This dish is creamy yet light, delicious and pretty darn easy AND you can get all the ingredients in one Trader Joes trip. The recipe came from Food and Wine Magazine


3/4 pound fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/3-inch-thick coins
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1 small fennel bulb—tough outer layer discarded, bulb cored and finely diced
8 cups mixed baby greens, such as arugula and mesclun (8 ounces)


In a medium skillet, combine the fingerling potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the garlic, saffron and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Add 2 cups of water to cover and simmer over moderately low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly. Discard the garlic. 

In a large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the lemon juice and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes, tomatoes and diced fennel and toss. Add the mixed baby greens, season with salt and pepper and toss again. Serve right away.
The cooked potatoes can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Magnolia's Blueberry Coffee Cake with Vanilla Glaze

As many of you know, my husband brought home the Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook from the library and immediately set to work tabbing which recipes he wanted me to make.  But of course the first one that grabbed my attention was the zucchini cake (I promise to post another time!)  Which was delicious, except that Jeff doesn't like zucchini.  So, it being fall, I made another cake...the Pumpkin Bars.  Also delicious, but Jeff doesn't like pumpkin.  So I finally fulfilled my matrimonial obligations with this Blueberry Coffee Cake with Vanilla Glaze.  Twice.  And Jeff will now let me get the book for my very own.  Because he knows he will get this cake again.

This cake is easy to make, but plan ahead because it needs a lot of time to cool before you can slice it.  Make it the day before and it keeps beautifully.


2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (preferably kosher..its a chemical composition thing, not a jew thing.)
2/3 c canola oil
1 c sugar
2 large eggs at room temp (nifty hint:  put eggs from the fridge into a bowl of warm water for 10 min or so to get room temp eggs!)
1 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c fresh blueberries, lightly coated with flour (so they don't sink in the cake)

Glaze Ingredients:

1 1/4 c. confectioners (i.e. powdered) sugar, sifted
1/4 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease and lightly flour a 10 inch tube/bundt pan.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt into a small bowl. 

Beat together in the mixer the oil, sugar and eggs for about 3 minutes until light and thick.  Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla, beating until smooth.  Fold in the blueberries.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 60-70 minutes.  Let the cake cool in the pan for one hour.  Remove from pan.

Make the Vanilla Glaze:  In a double boiler over barely simmering water, combine the sugar, cream and vanilla and stir for about 2 minutes until well blended.  Once the cake is completely cool, drizzle over the cake.  Allow the glaze to set for one hour before slicing.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Grilled Shrimp and Vegetables with Israeli Couscous


Adapted from Gourmet Magazine June 2006 by Melissa Roberts-Matar

This is one of those ooh and ahh type recipes that come off as super impressive with not too much work.  It helps if you have the herb garden outside with the oregano and thyme, but I would definitely purchase those items rather than use dried to pull this off correctly. You can make the shrimp, veggies and couscous ahead of time and them combine them together with the feta just before serving.  Here is my handy dandy helpful tip:  when grilling shrimp, thread each of them on two skewers to prevent the shrimp from twisting around and it will be easier to flip over the fire.  Oh yeah, Israeli Couscous is available at Trader Joes, but is even cheaper at a kosher market.


  • 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 1/4 cups pearl couscous (sometimes called Israeli couscous; 3/4 pound)
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl ounces)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 2 lb large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined if necessary
  • 2 medium red onions (1 pound total)
  • 2 pounds large zucchini (about 4), cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 6 ounces feta, crumbled (1 1/4 cups)


    Prepare grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas).  Toss shrimp with 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and thread 4 or 5 shrimp onto each skewer (don't crowd, or shrimp won't cook evenly).

    Peel onions and trim root ends slightly, leaving ends intact, then halve lengthwise and cut halves lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide wedges. Insert 1 wooden pick through each wedge to hold layers together while grilling, then put onions in a large bowl with zucchini. Toss vegetables with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 

    Grill shrimp skewers on lightly oiled grill rack, covered only if using a gas grill, turning over once with tongs, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Transfer shrimp, discarding skewers, to a clean bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette.  Grill vegetables on lightly oiled grill rack, covered only if using a gas grill, turning over once, until just tender, about 5 minutes, transferring to bowl as grilled. Remove and discard picks from onions.
    Whisk together vinegar, oregano, thyme, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl until salt is dissolved. Add 1/3 cup oil in a slow stream, whisking until vinaigrette is combined. 

    Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wide 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then toast couscous, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and pale golden, 3 to 5 minutes. While couscous toasts, stir together broth, water, and saffron in a large glass measure. Add to couscous with 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer, uncovered. Simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed and couscous is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Stir vinaigrette to combine, then stir 2 tablespoons into couscous and let stand, uncovered, at room temperature. 

    Drizzle vegetables with remaining vinaigrette and toss to combine.

    Spoon couscous onto a large platter or shallow serving bowl. Arrange shrimp and vegetables on top of couscous and sprinkle with feta. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Magnolia's Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing

    Now, I know ya'all think of cupcakes when you think of Magnolia Bakery, at least I know my husband did when he brought home the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook from the library.  But I am a fickle baker.  And I don't really like cupcakes.  So, the first outing was the Zucchini Walnut Bread, which was delicious.  The second outing was these Pumpkin Bars.  Which most everyone loved...neighbors, friends, the guy who teaches my son violin...but not my husband (hates squash, be it zucchini or pumpkin).  So he gets to pick out the next experiment from the book...Blueberry Muffins (can you get any more pedestrian?)

    But, as I said, this recipe rocked for those of us without squash aversions.  And so, I present to you:

    Magnolia Bakery's Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting.  Which is really more like cake than bars, but I digress.

    Bar Ingredients:

    1 1/2 c flour
    1 1/2 t baking powder
    1 1/2 t cinnamon
    1 t baking soda
    1/2 t salt

    1 1/4 canned pumpkin puree
    1 1/4 c sugar
    3/4 c canola oil
    3 large eggs (room temperature)
    1/2 c coarsely chopped pecans, toasted

    Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients:

    1 8 oz package of cream cheese
    3 Tb butter
    3/4 t vanilla extract
    2 1/2 c sifted confectioner's sugar

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and lightly flour a 13 x 9 baking pan.

    Sift together the first 5 ingredients, flour through salt, into a bowl.

    In a mixer, beat the pumkin, sugar, oil and eggs about 3 minutes.  Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Mix in the toasted pecans.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for about a half an hour.  Remove from oven and let cool completely before icing.

    To make the icing,  beat the cream cheese with the butter for about 3 minutes.  Add the vanilla and beat well.  Gradually add the sugar, and continue to beat until smooth and creamy.  Cover and refrigerate the icing  for 2-3 hours before using.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    Ad Hoc's Rice with Roasted Cauliflower

    This recipe, printed in the Los Angeles Times, had been sitting around my house for a while, but with a cauliflower adverse family in tow, it never seemed like the right time to make it.  But sometimes, you just gotta say, what the heck, I'm making it anyway and if I am the only one who eats it, so be it.  And I was the only one who ate it.  But I went back for seconds and but for the fact that I actually need to be able to fit into my jeans, I would have scarfed down the entire thing, easily. 

    So I pass this on to you, with the caveat that it has not met with worldwide approval, but I did eat leftovers for breakfast...

    Total time: 45 minutes

    Servings: 8 to 10 (or one, if you are me.)

    1/2 head white cauliflower, cut into florets
    2 tablespoons canola oil
    Pinch of curry powder
    6 cups water
    1 cup Carolina, or long grain, rice (I used basmati, but jasmine would work well also.)
    1 teaspoon red chili flakes
    2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil (I used only one)
    2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature (I used only one)
    1/4 cup chopped green onions

    1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

    2. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the canola oil and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper, or to taste.

    3. Place the cauliflower in a roasting pan (reserve the bowl) and roast until the cauliflower is a deep brown and tender throughout when pierced with a knife, 20 to 25 minutes, tossing every few minutes for even coloring and cooking. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees.

    4. While the cauliflower is roasting, cook the rice: In a large saucepan, add the water and a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the rice and chili flakes and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook the rice just until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the rice well, then spread the rice in a thin shallow layer in a large baking dish.  (I used my handy dandy rice cooker to cook the rice with the chili flakes and then dried it out further in the oven per the next step.)

    5. Place the rice in the oven to dry out for 5 minutes. Remove, then stir in the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired with salt and pepper.

    6. Place the cauliflower back in the bowl and toss with the curry powder. Taste and season, if desired, with additional salt and pepper.

    7. Gently stir in the warmed rice and butter, tossing until the butter is melted and evenly coats the rice and cauliflower. Stir in the green onions and serve immediately.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Last of Summer Fettuccine

    What better way to celebrate back to school (and I mean "celebrate" with dancing around the house to cranked up tunes once the kids are safely ensconsed in their cubbies of scholasticity) than with this fabulous and aptly named tequila infused pasta dish adapted from Jesse Ziff Cool's Simply Organic cookbook?

    1 lb fettuccine
    1/4 c (or a bit less) olive oil
    1 small red onion, sliced thin
    1/2 red pepper, sliced thin
    2 large garlic cloves, chopped
    1 jalepeno pepper, stemmed, seed and chopped
    1/4 c tequila (totally optional)
    2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    1/2 c. chopped cilantro
    2 T chopped fresh oregano (I'm sure 1T dried would work, but since the stuff is overtaking my garden, I am happy to machete it for this purpose.)
    4 oz feta cheese
    1 avocado, chopped
    Kosher salt and pepper

    Cook the fettucine according to the directions.  Drain and transfer to a large bowl.  While it is cooking, heat the olive oil in a saute pan over med high heat.  After a couple of minutes, add the onion and red pepper and saute for 2 minutes.  Add the garlic, jalepeno and tequila, if using, and cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes, cilantro and oregano and saute for another 3 min or so until the tomatoes are soft.

    Stir in the cheese and avocado and add salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the drained fettuccine into the pan and toss over heat until incorporated.  Serve and bask in the glow of your dinner guests' praise.

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Watermelon and Feta Salad

    This is my all time favorite summertime potluck bring along.  Yeah, this Nigella Lawson recipe is a bit weird sounding with the onions and all, but at the heart of it, it is just fruit and cheese...a classic combo.

    1 small red onion
    2-4 limes, depending on juiciness
    3-pound watermelon
    8 ounces feta cheese
    handful of Italian parsley
    handful of fresh mint
    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    4 ounces Kalamata olives (totally family is not olive friendly, so they rarely make it in.)
    coarsely ground black pepper

    Peel and halve the red onion, then cut into the thinest slices possible. Cover with lime juice, and let the onion steep for at least 30 minutes.

    Remove the rind and seeds from the melon, and cut into 1-inch chunks. Cut the feta into slightly smaller pieces, and put the watermelon and the feta in a large bowl. Coarsely chop the olives, parsley, and mint, and add them to the bowl. Pour in the onions and the lime juice, and add the olive oil and pepper. Toss gently.

    Serves 8.  Or if you are me, 1.

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Roasted Zucchini with Ricotta and Mint

    Best way to eat zucchini, ever!  Though I can't quite convince my kids or highly squash adverse husband to try it.  But, will be begging that neighbor or friend with an extra bushel of zucchini from the backyard for any stragglers after trying this out.  The recipe came from this month's Food and Wine Magazine and was created by Sheamus Feeley.  

    Now, I had the zucchini in the fridge (thanks, friend with bountiful garden!) and decided to make a half order of this spur of the moment, which means I did not have the ricotta cheese on hand.  And you know what?  It is still really, really good without it.  But the lemon at the end is essential.  And the mint adds a certain depth.  You can eat it as a side dish or spoon it over pasta or rice.  Or you can scrape it off the foil and shove it into your mouth...whatever makes you happiest.



    8 medium zucchini (3 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch dice
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
    1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
    2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    Fresh ricotta, for serving
    Mint leaves, for garnish


    • Preheat the oven to 450°. Spread the diced zucchini on 2 large rimmed baking sheets, lined with foil. Drizzle with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Roast for about 18 minutes, until the zucchini are browned around the edges. Sprinkle the zucchini with the crushed red pepper, cumin seeds and fennel seeds and roast until fragrant, about 2 minutes longer.  
    • Transfer the zucchini to a bowl. Toss with the lemon juice and season with salt. Dollop the ricotta alongside the zucchini and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with the mint leaves and serve.

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010

    Summer Peach Crisp

    I am lucky enough to have a generous friend with a great big old peach tree in his backyard and after realizing that I would never finish off the big bowl full of fruit he gave me, I decided to make a fantastic peach crisp.  Minimal effort, big effect.  I had some raspberries that were getting a bit mushy/ugly, so I threw those in as well.  My dinner guest was kind enough to stop at the market for vanilla ice cream which was just the finishing touch for a perfect summer dessert (even if it was 63 degrees outside by the time we sat down to eat it on the front deck.)

    This recipe, by Paul Virant, came from Food and Wine Magazine




    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
    1/2 cup rolled oats
    7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    1/4 teaspoon salt


    3 pounds peaches
    1/4 cup cornstarch
    Ice cream, for serving (optional)


    • In a food processor, combine the flour, sugars, oats, butter and salt and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal.   
    • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the peaches and blanch for 1 minute to loosen their skins. Transfer the peaches to a bowl. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and cut the peaches into 1/2-inch dice. Transfer the peaches to a large bowl and sprinkle with the cornstarch. Toss well to coat and let stand for a few minutes. 
    • Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter and sugar a souffle or baking dish. Then spoon the peaches into said dish and sprinkle with the topping. 
    • Bake the crisps for about 1 hour, until the filling is bubbling. Remove the souffle dish from the oven and increase the temperature to 400°. Bake  on the upper rack for about 8 minutes, until the topping is browned. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream, if desired.

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Back to School Raspberry Granola Bars

    This is one of those amazing cookie bars...sweet and salty, crunchy and chewy.  And I usually have the ingredients on hand, which means that anytime someone says, "can you bring dessert," I can at the drop of a hat (ok, not quite the drop of a hat, but assuming I have a little time in the morning....)  I found this incredible recipe in Food and Wine from Karen DeMasco who suggests making them for school bake sales...which, I guess would work if I didn't feel like hiding half the baked goods away for me to eat throughout the week.


    1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

    1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

    1/3 cup granulated sugar

    1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

    1 teaspoon kosher salt

    1/2 teaspoon baking soda

    1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan

    1 cup raspberry preserves (THIS IS KEY...use the best you can find...none of that "no sugar added" naturalist stuff...time to pull out the big guns.  I use a Russian/Israeli mixed berry jam that I find at Jon's Market)


    1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Spread the chopped pecans in a pie plate and toast for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the rolled oats, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking soda and pecans. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the melted butter until the oat mixture is thoroughly combined.
    3. Press two-thirds of the oat mixture in an even layer on the bottom of the prepared baking pan and top with the raspberry preserves. Sprinkle the preserves with the remaining oat mixture.
    4. Bake the bars for about 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the top is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the granola bars cool completely, about 3 hours. Cut into squares and serve.

    Make Ahead

      The bars can be kept in an airtight container for up to 1 week.  If they last that long.  Hah!

    Thursday, June 17, 2010

    Israeli Couscous with Roasted Shrimp

    I picked up this main course salad (perfect for warm weather dining!) from a blog I found on my favorite food porn site called which itself adapted a recipe from Ina Garten (of Barefoot Contessa fame.)  The original recipe called for orzo, but Joelen substituted Israeli Couscous, which is way more fun!.

    Kosher salt
    Good olive oil
    1 cup dried Israeli couscous +  equal amount chicken broth for preparing
    1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
    Freshly ground black pepper
    1-2 pounds (16 to 18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined, depending on how much shrimp you desire
    1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
    1 cup chopped fresh dill (I totally left this out and it was fine)
    1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced (persian cukes work well too)
    1/2 cup small-diced red onion
    1/2 cup chopped and seeded tomatoes
    3/4 pound good feta cheese, crumbled

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    Prepare the Israeli couscous as directed (bring broth to boil, dump in couscous, simmer 15 min or so covered.)  Once cooked, place in a large bowl to cool.

    Meanwhile, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don't overcook!

    Add the shrimp to the couscous and add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and stir carefully. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving.

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    Grilled Salmon with Charred Corn Relish

    First, I am going to apologize to all the folks out there who a) don't really like salmon and b) are looking for a little diversity in their blog recipes.  Because, yes, so close on the heels of another salmon recipe I am showing off one more.  And yes, this one has cherry tomatoes, too.  I know I should be a responsible blogger and spread out the salmon recipes among other more chicken/steak/pasta type recipes, but I just made this one tonight and I am too darn excited to wait.  Excited because the ingredients are so in season right this very minute and excited because it is pretty healthy and very, very delicious.  So at the risk ob sounding like a one note kind of gal, I give you Grilled Salmon with Charred Corn Relish (original publisher unknown.)

    4 ears shucked corn
    Cooking spray
    3/4 t kosher salt DIVIDED
    3/4 t pepper DIVIDED
    1 pt cherry tomatoes, halved
    2 T olive oil
    2 T balsamic vinegar
    3 T sliced basil
    4 4oz salmon fillets

    Prepare grill.  Soak corn in water for 15 minutes.  Remove and pat dry.  Spray corn on all sides w/spray oil and sprinkle with 1/4 t salt and 1/4 t pepper.  Grill for 15 minutes, turning until charred on all sides.  Remove from grill and slice kernels from cob.  Place in bowl with tomatoes, oil, vinegar, sliced basil and 1/4 t salt and 1/4 t pepper.  Let sit for 15 min.

    In the meantime, spray salmon fillets with oil and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 t salt and 1/4 t pepper.  Grill for 3-4 min, flip and grill 3 min more.

    Serve salmon along side charred corn relish.  Makes a great salad the next day if you are lucky enough to have leftovers.

    Saturday, May 1, 2010

    Pan Roasted Salmon with Tomato Vinaigrette

    This recipe came from Ted Allen (he of the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy fame) via Food and Wine Magazine.  It is not only delicious, but pretty gorgeous as well.  I tend to forget to put the parsley on at the end...but don't forget the basil because it makes the dish.  This is yet another reason to buy those big pots of fresh basil at Trader Joes...

    1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
    1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
    1 tablespoon drained capers
    2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    4 center-cut salmon fillets with skin (about 7 ounces each)
    Freshly ground pepper
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    2 tablespoons canola oil
    1 tablespoon minced parsley
    1 tablespoon chopped basil


    1. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a bowl, toss the tomatoes with the shallot, capers, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
    2. In a medium ovenproof skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and add it to the skillet, skin side up. Cook over moderately high heat until well-browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip the fillets. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the salmon is cooked through, about 7 minutes. Transfer the fish to plates and pour off any fat in the skillet.
    3. Place the skillet over moderate heat and add the tomato mixture along with the cumin, canola oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook, scraping up any bits stuck to the skillet, until the tomatoes just soften, about 2 minutes. Pour the sauce over the salmon, sprinkle with the parsley and basil and serve right away.

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    Sablés Korova (aka the awesome chocolate cookie)

    This cookie recipe originally comes from Pierre Hermé, the man Vogue magazine called "The Picasso of Pastry," via Dori Greenspan, baker extraordinaire.  In her words:  They are cocoa dark, not very sweet, chock-full of chocolate bits, melt-on-your-tongue buttery, just crumbly enough to be true sablès, or sand cookies, and just salty enough to catch you off guard.

    The cookies are a basic log roll, fridge and slice kind of cookie, but with a drier, not so sweet and kind of unusual but yummy taste.

    Makes about 36 cookies.

    1¼ cups all-purpose flour
    1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoapowder
    ½ teaspoon baking soda
    1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
    ¼ cup sugar
    ½ teaspoon fleur de sel or ½ teaspoon fine sea salt (but really, spring for the fancy stuff because it just dances on your tongue in a way that sea salt never will)
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small bits (or I use the Nestle chocolate chunk chips)

    1.  Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together. Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until the butter is soft and creamy. (Alternatively, you can do this and all subsequent steps by hand, working with a sturdy rubber spatula.) Add both sugars, the salt, and vanilla extract and beat for another minute or two. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients. Mix only until the dry ingredients are incorporated—the dough will look crumbly, and that’s just right. For the best texture, you want to work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

    2.  Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface and squeeze it so that it sticks together in large clumps. Gather the dough into a ball, divide it in half, and working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1½ inches (4 cm) in diameter. (Cookie-dough logs have a way of ending up with hollow centers, so as you’re shaping each log, flatten it once or twice and roll it up from one long side to the other, just to make certain you haven’t got an air channel.) Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill them for at least 2 hours. (Wrapped airtight, the logs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 1 month.)

    3.  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

    4.  Working with a sharp thin-bladed knife, slice the logs into rounds that are ½ inch thick. (Don’t be upset if the rounds break; just squeeze the broken-off bit back onto the cookie.) Place the cookies on the parchment-lined sheets, leaving about 1 inch spread space between them.

    5.  Bake only one sheet of cookies at a time, and bake each sheet for 12 minutes. The cookies will not look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies stand until they are only just warm or until they reach room temperature—it’s your call. Repeat with the second sheet of cookies.

    KEEPING: The dough can be made ahead and chilled or frozen. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking—just slice the logs and bake the cookies 1 minute longer. Packed airtight, baked cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; they can be frozen for up to 1 month

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    Asparagus and Scallops

    Holy Springtime, Batman!  This excellent recipe comes from Jesse Ziff Cool's Simply Organic and is pure April in a bottle.  The dressing is delicious...stilll figuring out what else I can drizzle it on...breakfast cereal, perhaps?

    3 T olive oil
    3 T fresh lime juice
    2 T sugar
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 whole canned chipotle chile or a teaspoon of the pureed stuff (see my earlier post for Chipotle Sweet Potatoes for how to do this....)

    1 lb scallops
    3/4 c cornmeal
    1 t ground coriander
    1/2 t salt
    1/4 t pepper

    1 lb asparagus, trimmed
    2 T butter

    In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lime juice, sugar, garlic and chipotle and let sit for 30 minutes.

    In another bowl, combine the cornmeal, coriander, salt and pepper.  Toss the scallops.

    Bring 1/4 c water to a boil in a skillet, place the asparagus in, lower heat to medium, cover and let steam for 4 minutes.  Remove to a plate.

    Wipe out skillet, melt butter over medium high heat and add scallops.  Cook for about 2 minutes on one side and another 2 minutes or so on the other side.

    Divide asparagus among 4 plates, top with scallops and drizzle the delicious dressing on top.

    Sunday, February 28, 2010

    Salmon en Papillote

    adapted from Simply Organic by Jesse Ziff Cool.

    This terrific salmon recipe sounded pretty weird to me (goat cheese and salmon, are you kidding?) but I took a chance with it and it turned out to be one of my favorite ways to prepare salmon.  Serve it with white rice (or brown if you are just one of those people who HAS to do the right thing) to soak up the yummy juices.  Make sure you have parchment paper for this.  I buy rectangular sheets of the stuff but you can use the rolled up grocery store stuff, too.  If worse comes to worse, foil will do as well.

    4 oz goat cheese
    1/2 c raisins
    1/8 t nutmeg (preferably freshly grated...easy to do with big seeds and microplane grater)
    1 1/2 T capers
    4 salmon fillets (about 1 lb. total)
    freshly ground pepper
    juice of one orange
    2 T finely chopped fresh chives

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine the cheese, raisins, nutmeg and capers (yeah, I know it sounds weird, but it totally works!)

    Cut 4 sheets of parchment, approximately one foot longish off the roll or cut a rectangular sheet in half.  Rinse the salmon and pat dry.  Place each one one fillet in each sheet, about 1 1/2 - 2 inches from one of the edges of the paper.  Sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper.

    Place one quarter of the cheese mixture on top of each fillet.  Sprinkle with one quarter of the orange juice and the chives.  Fold the parchment in half and starting in one corner, make small folds to seal the  parchment paper into a half circle.  Place the packets on a baking sheet and cook for 5 minutes.

    Mound some of your rice on the side of a plate and put a parchment packet on it as well.  Instruct your guests to open their packs and wait for them to say...oooh and ahhhh... because everyone likes getting a wrapped present for dinner!

    Friday, February 5, 2010

    Poached Eggs with Prosciutto on Toast (or the best egg mcmuffin ever)

    This is a very simple breakfast, lunch or light dinner that ends up being a whole lot better for you than the old brunch stand by, Eggs Benedict.  It's not fancy, so I wouldn't serve it as part of a brunch, but it sure is delicious. 


    1/4 lb prosciutto

    Really good sliced bread

    parm cheese, sliced

    So, the key is really the poaching of the eggs, which I used to screw up monumentally in the past.  But then I came across this lovely under 4 minute video on Facebook and it changed my egg poaching life for the better:  Perfect Poached Egg.  So, now you poach your eggs, toast up your bread, put the eggs on the toast, add salt and pepper, cover with a slice or so of prosciutto and shred a few slices of parm cheese on top.  You can even eat it with your hands.  But make sure you have a napkin, as that runny yummy yolk can be a bit of a mess.

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    Spicy Corn and Chick Pea Soup w/ Chiles

    This recipe is adapted from Field of Greens by Anne Sommerville.  The Greens restaurant in San Francisco is a terrific vegetarian place, elegant and delicious.  Although the book is quite bare bones, i.e. not one photo in the whole thing, everything I have made from it is beautiful and tasty.  The original recipe called for soaking dried chick peas for an hour, using the resulting liquid as the broth base for the soup.  I am lazy, so I use boxed veggie or, gasp, chicken broth and canned beans.  It is a great cold weather soup with very clear and distinctive flavors.

    1 large yellow onion, diced


    1 1/2 t cumin (preferably whole seeds, toasted over heat and ground)

    1/2 t dried oregano (no, you don't have to grow it, dry it and flake it.)

    cayenne pepper

    6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

    1 large yellow or red bell pepper, diced

    2 ears of corn, shaved, or 2 c frozen

    1/2 c hominy (look for it in the Hispanic section of Ralphs or your local supermarket)

    1 can chick peas

    1 28 oz can of tomatoes w/ juice, chopped

    1/2 t chipotle puree (get a small can in the Hispanic section, puree contents of can in blender or food processor, put in tupperware and leave there for a very long time after using it for this recipe, or you can mix a bit into mayo for tuna, or look for my chicken salad #2 recipe elsewhere on this blog)

    2 green jalepenos, seeded, coarsely chopped and pureed w/ 1/2 c water (yes, this is the biggest pain of this recipe, but necessary.)

    2 Q chicken or veggie broth

    2 t lime juice

    1 T chopped sage (I just used rubbed since it was in the pantry.)

    Heat olive oil in soup pot over medium heat.  Add onions, 1/2 t salt, toasted cumin and oregano and add a pinch of cayenne pepper.  Saute until onions are soft, about 7-8 min.  Then add garlic, peppers, corn and hominy.  Cook for about 5 min and then add the chickpeas, tomatoes, 11/2 t salt, chipotle puree  and the broth. 

    Season the soup with the jalepeno puree (I used the whole 1/2 c), lime juice, sage and you can add a pinch of sugar to brighten it up if you want.  Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.  Season to taste with salt.  You can pretty it up with cilantro if you want before serving.

    Thursday, January 21, 2010

    Fettuccine with Swiss Chard, Currants, Walnuts and Brown Butter

    1/2 stick of butter
    1 T dried currants
    2 T golden raisins
    1 bunch red or green chard
    1 T olive oil
    1/2 med sized red onion, sliced thin
    1/2 t salt (plus more for pasta water)
    freshly ground pepper
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    1/3 c walnut pieces, toasted
    fresh grated parm cheese

    Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. As it simmers, the butterfat and solids will separate. When the butter turns a nice golden color (about 8 min), remove pan from heat. Pour through a fine sieve lined with paper towel.

    Cook fettuccine in salted water

    Meanwhile, plump currants and raisins by placing them in a small bowl and covering them with 1/4 c. hot water.

    Trim stems of chard and slice leaves across into 2 inch wide ribbons.

    Heat olive oil in large saute pan, cook onion, 1/4 t salt and some pepper for about 5 min. Add garlic, chard, and another 1/4 t of salt. Saute for 4-5 min, then reduce heat to low.
    When the pasta is tender, drain and add to the saute pan along with the plumped fruit, walnuts and brown butter. Toss together with salt and pepper to taste and finish off with parm.

    So freaking yummy. From Field of Greens Cookbook by Annie Sommerville.

    Orzo with Shrimp and Tomatoes

    Having tried a few new recipes that were less than stellar (sorry, Rick Bayless, your tortilla soup did not make the cut), I made an old forgotten favorite from the Sofi cookbook last night that reminded me of why I do these posts....great food fairly quickly, and generally not too bad for your waistline.  You can even use the peeled raw frozen shrimp in a bag to make less work for yourself.

    3 T olive oil
    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped*
    1 T fresh basil or 1/2 t dried if it is winter
    2 T dry white wine
    salt and pepper
    bag o' shrimp, raw and peeled (tails on are ok)
    3 oz quality you can get (bit under a cup)
    1 lb orzo (yes, they have it at the market...Barilla makes a decent one)

    Put a big pot of salted water on the stove and bring to a boil.  Dump in the orzo and set the timer for 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saute pan over med  heat and, when hot, add the garlic.  Stir quickly and try not to let it brown.  Add tomatoes and saute for 2 minutes.  Raise heat to med high and add basil, wine, salt and pepper to taste and shrimp.  Simmer for approximately 5 minutes until the shrimp turn pink.  Add the feta.

    Drain the pasta and put back in the pot.  Add the shrimp and tomato mixture and stir over med heat for a couple of minutes and then serve.

    *to peel tomatoes, cut an "x" in the bottom of the tomato and put in a small pot of boiling water...cook for a minute and then put tomato in ice water to stop it from cooking.  Peel the skin right off of it!

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    Black Cod with Miso

    So this dish is based on the famous Nobu Matsuhisa dish.  The original recipe called for marinating the fish for 2-3 days, but this recipe allows for merely an overnight stay.  And you can make the marinade up to a week in advance.  The marinade is a bit stinky and it takes a leap of faith to believe that it will come out fantastic, but it will. Serve with rice and something green.

    • 3 T mirin (available in the asian section of the grocery)
    • 3 T sake 
    • 1/2 c white miso paste (available in the refrigerated healthy section of the grocery)
    • 1/3 c sugar
    • four 6-7 oz skinless black cod fillets, about 1 1/2 inches thick (fyi, black cod is not actually a cod at all, but a sable fish.) I have made this recipe with just two pieces of fish and the proportions are fine.
    • canola oil (for grilling)

    In a small sauce pan, bring the mirin and sake to a boil.  Whisk in the miso until it has dissolved.  Add the sugar and cook over moderate heat, whisking, until dissolved.  Let cool and then pour into a big ziplock baggie and add fish.  Cover and fridge overnight, turning occasionally.

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat a grill pan and oil it.  Scrape off excess marinade from fish (yes, it is very stinky at this point) and cook over high heat until browned, about 2 minutes.  Flip the fish onto a heavy rimmed baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes, until flaky.

    Serve and be amazed.