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Monday, September 29, 2008

Easy Butternut Squash Soup

I've decided not to let the fact that we don't really have fall here not let me get into the fall mood. I am having a ball coming up with old favorites that I want to share with you and things I definitely want to try this fall and winter. I'm thinking lots of soups and baked goods and I definitely want to try a bread or two. I am sure new things will be added to the list every day. If you have any suggestions, go ahead and send them over! Speaking of new, here's a new one for me at least. As you now know, I love butternut squash, but I have never had it as a soup. I decided to start with this easy one and maybe later in the season, I will modify it with some more complex flavors. This can be altered so many ways and can easily be turned into a vegan soup by replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock. This not a thick soup, so it's nice and light for when you want fall flavors with a little less guilt. It is also very good cold. What are you planning on making this fall?

Easy Butternut Squash Soup
(By Esi)

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into cubes
1 medium onion, diced
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
Chicken stock
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cumin
Cayenne pepper
Olive oil for drizzling (optional)
Pine nuts, toasted (optional)

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook onions until soft, but not browned. Add butternut squash and season with salt and pepper again. Cover and cook until the squash is fork tender, stirring occasionally. Add enough chicken stock to cover the squash and season with cumin, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes.

Remove the stems of thyme. Carefully ladle the soup into a blender or large food processor. Pulse until no lumps remain. Serve, topped with pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

You know how sometimes you see a recipe and you just have to go and make it? Well that happened to me the other day when I saw this post on Tartelette. Helen said there are so many ways you can do these bars and she is right. The only thing I changed was using pistachios since I was just about out of almonds and I used some fresh (organic) lavender from the farmers market. These were so easy to make and so good instead of my usual boring egg and fruit for breakfast. They also make a good snack to take to work. I am definitely going to try these again and play around with different flavors. PS, how are you liking my pictures with the new light? With the seasons changing, I have less daylight with which to take my pictures so I ordered this bad boy and I am having an absolute blast playing around with it. It makes me feel like when I used to work on set and all the guys fiddled with lighting making us have long ass work days.



Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
(Adapted from Tartelette)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup oats
1/3 cup raw, unsalted pistachios, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh lavender buds
1 egg
1/4 cup yogurt (I used non-fat Greek yogurt)
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl mix the flour, oats, pistachios, and lavender and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, yogurt, honey and vanilla. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a spoon until it comes together as a dough.

Turn the dough onto the parchment paper and form into a square (or something that resembles a square). Cut though with a sharp knife into 9 pieces and bake for 10-15 minutes. Let cool and break the squares apart.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers September Challenge: Vegan Lavash and Toppings

After seeing the last few months of cakes, Danish braids, and eclairs, I finally decided enough was enough. I wanted to be a Daring Baker too! Now I am! I anxiously awaited my first challenge and then it came...vegan and/or gluten free lavash crackers and vegan and gluten free toppings. Umm...what?! In preparation for my first challenge, I actually went out an bought a ton of butter. I like to keep extra in the freezer, and now you're telling me I can't use it? The recipe was chosen by Shel from Musings From the Fishbowl and Natalie from Gluten A Go Go. Once my initial shock passed, I began to look at this for what it truly was...a challenge. And a really fun one at that. I had all the ingredients for the crackers already, except for the yeast, so I just had to think about what I wanted to do for the dips. That was quickly solved by a trip to the farmers market. I made two savory crackers and then one sweet. For my savory dip, I grilled tomatoes and made a nice little salsa (which FYI, is also awesome with scrambled eggs). Inspired by my friend's bluberry and blackberry galette, I thought I would do a dip with these same components for the sweet crackers, but that particular weekend at the farmers market there were no blueberries or blackberries to be found. I think it was just an off week because they were there a couple of weeks later. One of the farmers convinced me to try a golden raspberry so I decided to make my sweet dip based on that. It was good, but verrry tart. I think I actually enjoyed the sweet crackers on their own more than with a dip, although they were pretty good with my fig jam. I made my first batches of crackers during the first weekend of the month, but then last week I decided to make them again, replacing some of the regular flour with whole wheat flour. I kneaded the dough for longer than the 10 required minutes. I find kneading dough to be comforting, especially after a day of dealing with whiny actors, but that's a whole other story (PS, those actors that are my friends, you know I love you and I am sooo not talking about you!). In both cases, I didn't roll my dough out as thin as I could have so some of the crackers came out a little chewy and my very first batch required double time in the oven, but overall I was really happy with how they turned out.

For the first batch of savory crackers, I topped them with kosher salt and sesame seeds. These were the ones that required double the baking time, but they still came out really good. I decided to tear them apart after baking to give them a more rustic look. For the next batch of savory crackers, I used sesame seeds, kosher salt, cumin powder, and cayenne pepper. I forgot to press the seeds into the dough so most of the seeds fell off after I tore the crackers apart, but it was still a delicious cracker. Spicy and made doubly so with the grilled tomato salsa. The salsa was just Roma tomatoes rubbed on each side with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled for a couple of minutes on each side. Let the tomatoes cool and toss with jalapeno, green onions, cilantro, lime juice and season with salt and pepper.For the first sweet crackers I just combined a tablespoon of sugar with a teaspoon of cinnamon. I sprayed the dough with spray oil and then spread the cinnamon sugar mixture all over the top. I think these were my favorite. For the dip, I crushed a large handful of the golden raspberries in my hands and combined them with segments from one orange. Then I added about a tablespoon and a half of agave nectar and some lemon juice. Again, this is very tart (kind of like me) so if you want less tartness, reduce the lemon juice, or remove it all together.As I said, I really loved these crackers so I decided to try them again a few weeks later, replacing some of the regular flour with whole wheat flour. This time, I cut them before baking using a pizza cutter which made them easy to take apart once they had cooled. I did one batch of the savory with the same combination of kosher salt, sesame seeds, cumin powder, and cayenne pepper. This time I remembered to roll and press the sesame seeds into the dough, but some still fell off.
With the remaining scraps, I rolled them out and made another batch of the sweet crackers. Both of these versions were so good and such a nice snack to pack up and take to work. I have a feeling I will be making these crackers often. To get the full lavash recipe, visit Shel and Natalie. And thanks to them for picking a fun challenge. Visit the blogroll to see how the other crackers worked out.

Grilled Tomato Salsa

2 or 3 Roma tomatoes sliced, 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
Olive oil for brushing
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 or 2 green onions, chopped
Juice from 1 lime

Preheat a grill. Brush each tomato slice with olive oil on each side. Season with salt and pepper. Grill on each side for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the grill and set aside to cool. In a small bowl combine the jalapeno, green onions, and lime juice. Chop the tomatoes and add to the mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve with cooled crackers.


Golden Raspberry and Orange Relish

1 large handful of golden raspberries, crushed
1 orange, cut into segments and roughly chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar or more to taste
Juice from 1 lemon
Zest from 1/2 lemon

Combine everything. Drain excess juice if desired.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Grilled Chicken with Roasted Butternut Squash Puree and Sauteed Spinach

Welcome to butternut squash season. For the next 6 months be prepared to see an immense amount of butternut squash recipes from me. Growing up I was never a squash fan (notice how I didn't feature any zucchini recipes during the summer?), but last year (pre-food blogging) I discovered butternut squash and I can't get enough. I love everything about it, the texture, the flavor, and the fact that it even with it's sweetness, it can be used in sweet and savory recipes. In fact, one of my first food blogging entries was about baking with butternut squash. I just can't get enough of the stuff. I may like it even more than figs!! Can you imagine?! You know how I feel about figs! The thing is, even though it is officially fall and we are heading into a season with some of the most amazing fruits and vegetables, it is becoming the hottest time of the year here in So Cal. The Santa Ana winds are approaching and 90 degree dry weather in October is about to make it's mark. I'm so jealous of my fellow food bloggers that get to experience the changing leaves and cooler temperatures of this time of year, so this is my attempt to bridge that gap. Grilled chicken because let's face it, I need to use my grill more and keep that summer flair, and a recipe using the beginnings of the best of locally grown produce. It's so strange, the smell of sage makes me slightly nauseous, but I think it does a magical thing when combined with butter and/or butternut squash. I totally love it. I thought about using a brown butter for the puree, but I wanted to keep it light given the current climate. If you're not a fan of raw garlic, cook it in a little bit of olive oil or reduce the amount to mellow out the taste. I recently discovered these individually wrapped organic chicken breasts at Trader Joe's which I bought and stuck in the freezer. I know I could do this on my own, but I don't and I am willing to spend the extra cost to have this little pre-wrapped beauties to take out of the freezer whenever I need them. I also added a little spinach to this, mostly to use up some spinach I had left from the farmers market, but also to add a little green to the dish. The puree can be done ahead of time, making this an easy and quick dinner to throw together any night of the week. Simplicity in one of it's finest forms.


Grilled Chicken

Chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste

Roasted Butternut Squash Puree
(By Esi)

1 medium butternut squash
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 or 5 sage leaves, roughly chopped
2 or 3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup chicken broth and/or water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sauteed Spinach
2 big handfuls baby spinach
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel, and dice the squash into 1/2 inch chunks. In a large bowl toss together the squash and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Turn squash onto a foil lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Turn squash over and roast until soft and golden brown, about another 15-20 minutes.

In a blender or food processor combine roasted squash, sage, garlic, and 1/4 cup chicken broth. Puree until smooth adding chicken broth and/or water as necessary. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat a grill. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Grill chicken for 5-7 minutes on each side until cooked through.

To make the spinach, heat oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Saute until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

I swear the Barefoot Bloggers who chose this month's recipes are trying to make me gain 20 pounds before my Hawaii trip. This decadence was chosen by Chelle of Brown Eyed Baker. When I was younger I was a pretty picky eater because I mostly only knew Ghanian food, but my parents insisted on my sister and I experiencing food from other cultures. One of the many things I did not like was mushrooms and to this day, I am still not a fan of fungus. Oh, I will have the occasional portobello or shiitake, but for the most part I stay away from them. Since I mostly just cook for myself, I halve most recipes and this one was no exception. Besides, I didn't want to waste it if I didn't like it. I decided to only use two mushrooms: shiitake and portobello. I wanted to use fat free half and half, but the thoughtless bastards at my "corner store" ran out the day I went grocery shopping. I got my vegetables at the farmers market and they were far less expensive than I thought they would be, mostly because I only bought a few of them. In all honesty, I actually enjoyed this recipe, but it is verrrrry rich. I could only have a few sips at a time. I could literally feel the fat exploding into different parts of my body. If I were to make this again (which I probably won't), I would maybe skip the cream and half-and-half all together...I guess that would just make it mushroom soup rather than cream of mushroom, but whatever. The broth is very flavorful and is a good broth to have on hand if you want to add more flavor to vegetarian recipes. I added a few more vegetables because I wasn't sure if the small amount of mushrooms would be enough, it turned out great. Visit the Barefoot Bloggers to check out how everyone else did and if you love Ina Garten as much as we do, go ahead and see how to sign up here!



Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
4 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 stick plus 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme, plus 1/2 teaspoon minced thyme leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 leeks, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced

Clean the mushrooms by wiping them dry with a paper towel. Don't wash them. Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stem. Slice the caps about 1/4 inch thick and if they are too big, cut them in to bite sized pieces. Set the caps aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add three cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 2 1/4 cups of stock. If not, add some water.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste and heat through, but do not boil. Serve hot.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fried Green Tomatoes

I've seen several posts for fried green tomatoes lately and I vaguely thought "maybe I should try those". I didn't set out to make them, but I was at the farmers market buying an onion, and when I went to pay, I spotted a big green tomato so I got it. Most of the recipes for fried green tomatoes included a mix of cornmeal and flour and egg. I liked Kevin's idea of frying in bacon fat so I cooked up some bacon as well. The result? Eh...I just don't think these were for me. I don't think it was the recipe. I think I would rather try green tomatoes another way. The tomato itself tasted a little bit like a tomatillo to me. Maybe a green tomato salsa is in my near future.

Fried Green Tomatoes
(Adapted from Closet Cooking)

1 large green tomato, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 strips of bacon
Paprika
Garlic salt

Fry the bacon until crisp. Meanwhile, whisk together the cornmeal, 1/4 cup flour, paprika, and garlic salt to taste.

Once the bacon has cooked, drain on paper towels. Season each tomato slice with salt and pepper. Dredge each tomato slice in flour, then the egg, and then the cornmeal mixture. Fry until golden. Drain on towels and sprinkle with kosher salt.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Vanilla Pots De Creme and Cocoa Shortbread Cookies

I had a really bad day yesterday. I must say that coming home and reading nice comments from people truly made my day. It also would have been so nice to come home to this dessert, but unfortunately, it was the dessert for the night of my mini Emmys gathering. The dinner (and the company) were the best part of the night. That show was a stinker!!! I was only happy when certain people I was routing for won. I got these awesome vanilla beans last week and I had been searching for recipes. This post caught my eye (via Tastespotting). I liked the sound of a vanilla custard with the chocolate shortbread. I didn't have the original recipes myself so I just followed the adaptations from the post, but I did halve the custard recipe. The custard was really good, kind of like a creme brulee without the burnt sugar top. The cookies were good too, but I made them a little too thick. The dough is really thick and requires a bit of arm work. If you make the cookies make sure you *follow instructions* and only roll the dough into walnut sized balls instead of baseball sized balls.

Vanilla Pots De Creme
(Adapted from Supper in Stereo and The Art of Simple Food)

2 egg yolks
6 tablespoons heavy cream
6 tablespoons half-and-half
2 tablespoons sugar
1 one inch piece of vanilla bean
2 custard cups or ramekins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a pot of water to a simmer.

Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Pour the heavy cream into another bowl.

Put the half-and-half and and sugar in a small pot. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds with the back of the knife. Add the seeds and the pod to the half-and-half. Heat until warmed through and the sugar has dissolved, but do not bring to a boil.

Remove the half-and-half mixture from the heat and slowly whisk it into the egg yolks. Strain the yolk mixture into the bowl of heavy cream. Discard or set aside the vanilla pod (clean and dry it to use again, if desired).

Pour the mixture into 2 ramekins. Put the cups into a deep dish (I used an 8x8 glass dish) and pour hot water into the pan until it comes to halfway up the sides of the cups. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and seal well. Bake the custards for 25-30 minutes until they are done. The edges will be firm, but the middle still jiggles.

Remove custards from the pan to cool. They can be served warm or stored in the fridge and served cool.

Cocoa Shortbread Cookies
(From Supper in Stereo and How to Be a Domestic Goddess)

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt in a medium bowl. Set the bowl aside.

In a larger bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. When they are pale and fluffy, stir in the dry ingredients. It will appear that the mixture needs more liquid, but just keep mixing, it will come together into a dough.

Roll the cookies into balls about the size of a walnut and place them on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Press them down with the back of a fork.

Bake the cookies for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to 300 F for the last 10-15 minutes. The cookies are done when they are firm but not hard on top. When the cookies come out of the oven, transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Pasta with Yellow Tomato Sauce

So yesterday I poo poo'ed about watching the Emmys. Guess what I did last night? I watched the Emmys with a couple of friends...sue me. Did you watch them? I was pretty bored. Of course I had to cook for my friends. In the morning I went to the farmers market with a very short list and ended up with way more things than I had intended to buy. Surprisingly, I was able to resist the figs, but I can't make any promises that you won't be seeing my fig jam turn up in something soon. There were still tons of great tomatoes so I picked up quite a few Romas so I could slow roast them, but later I saw this giant yellow heirloom tomato that caught my eye. I remembered on Saturday I was watching that new show The Cooking Loft and thought this tomato would be good in one of the sauces they featured. This was so good and tasty. I only had one giant tomato and I halved most of the other ingredients and it worked out well. I used a larger amount of red pepper flakes so it was a spicy tomato sauce which I love. Adding the olive oil in the end made the sauce really creamy tasting. I would definitely make this again and experiment with other kinds of tomatoes. I tried to make it a little healthier by using whole wheat pasta with flax. It's a little harder to tell the color of the sauce, but believe me it is on there. This is a keeper.


Pasta with Yellow Tomato Sauce
(Adapted from Alex Guarnaschelli)

1 large yellow heirloom tomato
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 pound whole wheat penne pasta (cavatappi would work well too and was actually)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
10-15 basil leaves
Grated Parmesan for serving

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Score the bottom of the tomato and add it to the boiling water. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the skin begins to start to peel away from the flesh. Remove the tomato with a slotted spoon and place in an ice bath. Once the tomato has cooled, peel and quarter. Scoop out the seeds and press the liquid through a sieve. Roughly chop the rest of the tomato and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic, shallot, and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sugar and oregano and cook until the shallots are translucent.

Add tomato and liquid to the shallots. Stir in 1/2 tablespoon salt, and one teaspoon of pepper. Cook until the the tomato flesh loses it's shape, about 8-10 minutes. Add the water and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve a little in case

Put sauce in a blender and puree until smooth. Slowly add the vinegar to the opening in the lid of the blender. Slowly pour in the remainder of the oil.

Pour the pasta into the skillet and add the sauce. Toss to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add the reserved pasta water. Chop the basil in a chiffonade and stir in to the pasta. Serve with grated Paremesan cheese.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fig and Prosciutto Pizza with Caramelized Onions

Ok - here it is. My last fig focused recipe for this season...I think. I am heading to the farmers market in a bit, and I can't promise that I won't be tempted to buy another basket of those little beauties...I know, I have a problem. I was originally going to make this recipe for today to watch the Emmys, but honestly, watching the Emmys feels a little bit like doing my homework working in this stupid business that I work in. All I know is that I am routing for 30 Rock because it's the best show ever and Mad Men is just so damn beautiful to look at (hello Jon Hamm - what a hottie!). Other than that, I don't care much about them...oh and Damages is pretty awesome too!! So instead, I decided to make this to watch movies which is something I love to do when eating pizza. I picked a dough recipe I found in 101 Cookbooks because it was described as "the best pizza dough recipe ever". However, I didn't read the instructions all the way through before I started on it. (It's a wonder I got a degree considering how little I like to follow instructions). If you follow Heidi's recipe exactly, it takes a lot of time which I don't always have, so I skipped a bunch of the steps. It was still a pretty good dough though, but I don't know if it was the "best ever". I like nice thin pizzas and while I rolled and tossed it pretty thin, it didn't get as crispy as I wanted. Probably my own fault for not following all the steps. Dough issues aside, this was a really tasty pizza. Sweet figs with salty prosciutto, a kick from the red pepper flakes, and of course the sweetness from the onions. I always like to add a little garlic to my caramelized onions so of course I had a nice garlicky flavor in there as well. The only thing I may do differently next time is add a little basil, mostly for color. I made two little pizzas and froze the remainder of the dough for another time.

Pizza Dough
(Adapted from 101 Cookbooks)


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup ice water

Toppings

4 or 5 figs, stemmed and quartered
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 slices prosciutto, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes
1/2 cup shredded mozarella, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


In a large bowl stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast. With a large metal spoon, stir in the oil and water until the flour is all absorbed. Repeatedly mix the spoon into cold water and stir vigorously until the dough is a smooth mass. Do this for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth and sticky and clears the sides of the bowl, but it still sticks to the bottom. Add flour as necessary.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Knead for about 10 minutes. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spraying the parchment with spray oil. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Spinkle flour over the dough and roll each piece into a bowl. Transfer as many dough balls as you plan to use to the baking pan and spray with spray oil. Freeze any remaining dough in plastic bags. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.

Remove the tray of dough from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat oil and cook onions over medium-low heat, season with salt and pepper. Cook onions for 10 to 15 minutes, until caramelized. Stir in garlic about 2 minutes before the onions are done.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and roll out to the desired thin-ness. You can also toss the pizza with your hands to get the pizza even thinner. To make the pizza, divide the onion mixture evenly between the pizzas. Top with mozarella, then prosciutto and then the figs. Sprinkle red pepper all over each pizza and bake for 5 to 10 minutes until the crust is crisp and browned.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Plum and Fig Galette

Last week at my jam class I tasted a plum that was so good I was reminded of how much I like plums. I immediately picked a couple up at the farmers market and thought about what I could do with them. I had seen a couple of recipes for plum galettes in the food blogosphere and they looked so good I had to try one too. Naturally, I wanted to add a little extra somethin' and you know I love me some figs so I stuck a few in there too. I decided to replace sugar in the filling with honey and didn't add much because both of the fruits were pretty sweet on their own. This was so good. The plums were sweet and slightly tart, the crust was nice and flaky and the figs caramelized a bit. I have hopefully at least one more figgy recipe for you all and then I think I will wrap it up for fig season this year...unless I can't resist them again at the farmers market tomorrow... :)

Update: I am submitting this to the Purple Food Event at Diary of a Fanatic Foodie.

Plum and Fig Galettte

For the dough
(Adapted from Simply Recipes)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
4 tablespoons very cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
1 plum, pitted and sliced
4 figs, stemmed and halved
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 tablespoon honey (or more to taste)

Additional:
1 egg, lightly whisked with a splash of water
1/2 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling (optional)

To make the dough:
In a food processor mix together the flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter in pieces until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the water a little bit at a time until the mixture just comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and form into a disc. Do not over-knead the dough. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the filling:
Gently stir together the plums, figs, lemon juice, and honey.

To assemble the galette:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a circle about 1/8 inch thick.

Arrange plum slices in a circle around the dough leaving 1-2 inches around. Place a slice of fig between every 2 or 3 slices of plum.

Fold the dough over the fruit. Sprinkle the butter over the top. Brush the sides of the dough and sprinkle with turbinado sugar if desired. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool before serving.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Fig and Bacon Salad

Betcha thought you wouldn't see anymore fig recipes from me, huh? Well you thought wrong! As I mentioned before there was so much good stuff at the farmers market and I wanted to buy everything. I picked up yet another basket of figs and then got to searching. Unfortunately the night I picked to do my search I was exhausted and starving so I had to eat dinner first. It was seriously like a flashbulb went off in my head. A quick salad was exactly what I was in the mood for and it took about 15 minutes to make. I still have a couple more fig recipes up my sleeve so stay tuned.


Fig and Bacon Salad
(By Esi)

1 big handful baby spinach
4 figs, stems removed and cut in half
2 slices of bacon
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Drain on towels and set aside to cool. Meanwhile assemble the salad by laying the spinach on the plate and topping with the figs. Chop bacon and spread over the salad. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil and balsamic and season with salt and pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and serve immediately.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers Bonus Recipe: Apple Turnovers

September's bonus recipe for Barefoot Bloggers was chosen by Anne of Anne Strawberry. At first I thought I wouldn't make it because it's been so hot, but it cooled down just enough over the weekend for me to try it out. These are super simple to make and tasted really good, but I think I used a little too much orange juice in mine. They were more like Orange-Apple Turnovers. This recipe makes more filling than you will need for the turnovers so cook the rest of it down and spoon it over some vanilla honey ice cream. Yum! Check out how the other turnovers *turned out* here.


Apple Turnovers
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Granny Smith apple
1 1/2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 tablespoon sugar, plus extra to sprinkle on top
2 dashes cinnamon
1 dash nutmeg
Pinch kosher salt
1/2 package puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with a splash of water for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the orange zest and orange juice in a bowl. Peel, quarter, core, and dice the apple. Immediately toss the apple with the zest and juice to prevent it from turning brown. Add the cranberries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Cut the sheet of puff pastry into four equal squares. Brush the edges of each square with the egg wash and neatly place about a large spoonful of the apple mixture on half of the square. Fold the pastry diagonally over the apple mixture and seal by pressing the edges with a fork. Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush the top with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, make 2 small slits, and bake for 20 minutes, until browned and puffed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze

I have a friend who is very nice, so he has become my number one taste tester for most of the treats I bake. I saw this recipe on a repeat of Giada this weekend and I thought it would be good to use up the last of the ricotta and a few lemons I had sitting around. I kind of went a little nutty at the farmers market this weekend so my fridge is once again overflowing with produce. I loved the cake-like texture of these cookies and I lightened them up a bit by using part-skim ricotta. My glaze wasn't as white as the glaze in the picture of Giada's cookies, but it was nice and lemony and added a tart bite. Giada (like how I'm on a first name basis with her?) sent these to her niece in college, but these are a simple treat to make any time.



Lemon Ricotta Cookies
(Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

Cookies:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick butter, at room temperature
Scant 1 cup sugar
1 egg
7 1/2 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 lemon, zested

Glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 lemon, zested

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl mx together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar. Using an electric mixer, cream together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta, lemon juice and lemon zest and beat until everything is combined. Working in batches, beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop the dough onto the paper leaving room for each cookie to rise. Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly golden at the edges. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

To make the glaze:
Stir together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest until smooth. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for 2 hours.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tomato Tart

I saw this post a few weeks ago on Closet Cooking and new I wanted to try it. This past weekend I was looking for puff pastry and accidentally picked up filo dough. Note, the two are not interchangeable, but I had never worked with either so how was I supposed to know? Haha, the things you learn while food blogging. Anyway, I don't think I used enough of the dough, so my tart came out pretty thin, but it was delicious. I didn't have any mozzarella on hand so I mixed together the last of my Gruyere and a little bit of Parmesan. I probably could have sliced my tomatoes a little thinner too, but they came out nice and juicy. Using a pizza cutter really helped when cutting slices of it. The tart and a nice glass of cold white wine was a perfect way to wind down after a day of cooking on Sunday.

Filo Tomato Tart
(Adapted from Sunset)

5 sheet filo dough, thawed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons grated Gruyere cheese
2 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray paper with cooking-oil spray (or brush lightly with vegetable oil). Lay 1 sheet filo on paper and brush lightly with a little melted butter. Sprinkle all over with Parmesan. Repeat layering with the remaining filo (with filo, butter, and Parmesan), pressing each sheet firmly so it sticks to sheet below. Lay the last filo sheet on top, brush with remaining melted butter, and sprinkle on Parmesan.

Mix 2 tablespoons Parmesan with 2 tablespoons Gruyere. Scatter onion across filo, top with Gruyere and Parmesan, and arrange tomato slices in a single layer. Sprinkle with thyme and salt and pepper to taste.

Bake until filo is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then serve.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

This entry should really be titled "How I Spent My Saturday Night". On Saturday morning, I was scrolling through my reader and this article over at The Kitchn about slow roasting tomatoes caught my eye. Then later in the day I went to a class called the Jam Session at Breadbar which was all about making jams and preserving the summer harvest. So naturally, when I got home I had preserving on the brain. I realize that living in Southern California I'm pretty lucky to get produce long after it's disappeared from other regions, but it's nice to know that I can have good tomatoes in the middle of February if I want. For the first few hours of cooking, I checked on the tomatoes every hour. Then it got late and I had to go to bed. Around 7AM I woke up from a dream that my tomatoes were burning. Of course they weren't. I hardly needed a pot holder to remove them from the oven. I couldn't resist eating a couple right out of the oven. I left the skins on because I like the skins, but I suppose most people remove them while the tomatoes are still warm. They were so good and full of concentrated tomato taste. I used a tad too much salt so when I actually use them in a recipe, I will just have to remember to use a little less salt, but otherwise they were great and I am so excited to do this again over the next few weeks.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes
(Adapted from Kitchen Parade)

2 pounds Roma tomatoes, halved
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Mix of dried herbs. I went with oregano, thyme and Italian seasoning
Unpeeled cloves of garlic
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Drizzle a rimmed baking sheet with the olive oil and sprinkle with the herbs and salt.

Rub each cut side of the tomato in the oil and herbs and place them face down on the baking sheet in a single layer. Tuck in the garlic between the tomatoes. Sprinkle the tomato tops with salt and pepper.

Roast for 10-12 hours. Let cool and remove skins if desired. Use within 2-3 days or freeze.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Creme Brulee Oatmeal

Normally on the weekend mornings/afternoons I eat leftovers or whatever is in the pantry. I rarely cook myself an actual breakfast because my schedule on weekends tends to be all over the place. I wake up pretty early and rarely sleep in, but it still takes time for me to get going and my Saturdays don't really start until about noon. It's usually around that time that I realize I am starving and devour all my leftover macaroni and cheese...or something. But this Saturday, I reached for a new recipe. I found it last week on Eating Out Loud and knew I had to make it immediately if not sooner. Creme brulee is my absolute favorite dessert and you're telling me I can have a breakfast version? I am so there! It was so so so good and a little extra decadent because I used whole milk. I am normally a nonfat milk kinda gal, but I had the whole leftover and needed to use it up. I was also able to use the last of my golden raspberries. I agree with Allen about not adding sugar to the oatmeal while cooking it. The top provides so much flavor, plus that extra bonus of getting to crack it just like you would on a normal creme brulee.

PS, Thank you to Jenn, The Leftover Queen for naming me a Finest Foodie this past Friday. If you're not a member of the Foodie Blogroll, click here to find out how to join!!


Creme Brulee Oatmeal
(Adapted from Eating Out Loud)

Makes 2 servings

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup milk (I used whole milk since I had it leftover, but by all means use skim or low fat)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 dashes cinnamon
Dash salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Berries (any kind)

Cook the oatmeal according to the package instructions with milk, vanilla, 1 dash of cinnamon, and salt. Fill each ramekin about three-quarters of the way with the oatmeal. Sprinkle a few berries on top of the oatmeal and then top the berries with the remaining oatmeal. Make sure to level the top part of the oatmeal.

Preheat the broiler and place the ramekins in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix the sugars with a dash of cinnamon if desired. Top each ramekin with the sugar mixture. Place the ramekins under the broiler for 1-3 minutes until the sugar is melted and golden. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, top with remaining berries and serve.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Cabbage Salad with Edamame and Cucumber

I just love how recipes can take on a life of their own. I originally set out to make this salad that I saw on 101 Cookbooks, but I realized I didn't have a few of the ingredients so I just threw in things that I already had, continuing the theme of cleaning out my fridge and pantry. I think this is the perfect kind of food to have me bathing suit ready for when I go to HAWAII for Christmas...Clearly I am a *little* excited about the trip. I have never been!! There was a lot of green going on in the salad and as I was cleaning up, I realized I needed to use some of the 20 pounds of oranges I got at the farmers market. Ok, it was only 5 pounds, but it felt like 20 on the walk home. I also had a few golden raspberries left that I used for garnish. This was so many different kinds of good with sweetness and crunchiness and tartness and yuminess...ok, enough with the "ness" words. This was awesome!

Cabbage Salad with Edamame and Cucumber

For the dressing (approximate measurements because I ended up tweaking to my taste):
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 or 2 splashes toasted sesame oil
Kosher salt

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, agave nectar, and sesame oil. Mix in the shallots and red pepper flakes. Season with salt. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

For the salad:
1/2 medium head green cabbage, shredded
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup slivered toasted almonds
Golden raspberries (optional)
Orange segments (optional)

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the edamame and cook or about 5 minutes. Drain well and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl mix together the cabbage, edamame, green onions, and almonds. Toss with the dressing and serve chilled. Garnish with orange segments or other fruit if desired.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Grown Up Mac and Cheese

Obviously, as evidenced by my membership in Barefoot Bloggers, I have a deep love and affection for Ina Garten. Now I have the feeling that I want to marry her and have her babies. I don't think I have ever tried a single recipe of hers that hasn't been simply wonderful. Our first September recipe was chosen by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl. This is something that I wasn't really looking forward to making. While everyone else in the country is boasting about cooler temps and fall, the weather has finally decided to turn summer in Southern California and it's been hot and humid the last few weeks. It's cooled down the last few days, but I made this over last weekend's 90 degree temps. Also, this recipe called for three different kinds of cheeses. Normally, this is something I am totally up for, but due to my dwindling bank account (I need to find a better paying job...and/or a sugar daddy) and the fact that I am not the hugest fan of blue cheese, I decided to leave that one out. Instead, I just increased the amounts of Gruyere and cheddar, but other than that, this was one of the few recipes I actually followed almost to a tee. Ina says this should be served in two serving dishes, but this made enough food to last me for days. It is definitely not something that should be made if you're on a diet, or even think about going on a diet because just thinking about this recipe may cause you to gain ten pounds. Luckily, I don't make mac and cheese very often so I didn't feel horribly guilty about eating this. It takes a bit of time to make and dirties quite a few dishes. I strongly suggest that while it's baking, you clean up the dirty dishes. Visit the Barefoot Bloggers blogroll to see how everyone else's mac and cheese turned out.

Grown Up Mac and Cheese
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

4 ounces center cut bacon
Vegetable or extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices white sandwich bread, roughly chopped (I used ciabatta and it was great)
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan lined with aluminium foil and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven (there will be hot grease in the pan). Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle a splash of oil into a pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, slowly add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere and cheddar, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg (I forgot the salt and pepper and it was fine). Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes or an 8x8 baking dish.

Place the bread slices in a food processor and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on top.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sweet Chili Shrimp with Sesame Soy Rice

I was flipping through an old cookbook (the one my parents gave me when I moved into my first apartment in college) and I came across a recipe for rice that sounded good. I make it a point to go through old books every so often because you never know what you will rediscover. I decided to combine it with a little shrimp that I cooked in sweet chili sauce. So tasty and so simple, I am loving this living out of my fridge/pantry week.

Sweet Chili Shrimp

Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
Kosher salt
Pinch red pepper flakes
Canola oil
Green onions for garnish (optional)

Toss shrimp in the chili sauce, salt, and red pepper flakes. Heat oil in a medium skillet. Cook shrimp until pink and cooked through

Sesame Soy Rice
(From The Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Cookbook)

1 cup long-grain rice
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 cup water
2 scallions, chopped
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sace
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

In a 2-quart saucepan rice, chicken or vegetable stock, and water to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 18-20 minutes until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Stir in green onions, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Serve immediately.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fig-Sesame Jam

There were so many figs at the farmers market this weekend it was hard to choose just one pack. Also, I wasn't sure if I should get the green or the black, I was in a fig conundrum. I ended up going with the black figs that I have been picking up the last few weeks (I made my ricotta figs again last week at the request of dear Kelly who was moving, but that time made with mascarpone). This time I was going to try a savory fig recipe, but then I came across a recipe that looked easy and would let me enjoy figs for longer than the season lasts. Sign me up! I am so loving the figs. I've never made a jam before, but this coming Saturday I am going to be taking a class on canning and preserving so I can't wait to test my new skills with the end of summer harvest. Oh yeah, I also saw the first butternut squash of the season at the farmers market. I am so excited since I just discovered this wonderful stuff last year pre-food blogging. Get ready to see tons of butternut squash recipes from me!

Fig-Sesame Jam
(Adapted from Epicurious)

1 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons
3/4 cup water
2 pounds firm-ripe fresh figs, trimmed and quartered
3 1-inch strips fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Simmer sugar and water in a large heavy saucepan, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Gently stir in figs, zest, and lemon juice and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, 1 3/4 to 2 hours. Gently stir in sesame seeds.

Let the jam cool and store in jars for up to one month.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Donut Muffin..Or Muffin Donut

Last week in the food blogosphere I saw a few recipes that were donuts as muffins or muffins as donuts. This week I am trying to cook with things that are already in my pantry or refrigerator so I couldn't resist trying them. These were to die for. I want to lie and say I only had one, but I had three. Soooo yummy and super easy to make (my personal favorite combination). Of course cinnamon is one of my most favorite ingredients (umm, what isn't my fave ingredient?!) and I love the way apartment smells when it is baking.

Donut Muffins
(From Laura Rebecca's Kitchen)

2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

2 large eggs
1 cup plain yogurt (I used nonfat Greek yogurt with excellent results)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 to 8 tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla

Topping:
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

Position oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a standard muffin pan with paper cups.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add flour mixture and mix with light strokes until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Don't overmix; batter should not be smooth.

Divide batter among the muffin cups and bake until a toothpick inserted in one or two of the muffins come out clean, 15-20 minutes.

While the muffins are baking, melt 1/2 stick butter and place in a bowl just large enough to hold a muffin. Combine 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small, shallow bowl. As soon as the muffing are done, dip them one at a time in the melted butter and then roll in the sugar mixture. Set on a rack to cool.

PS, at the farmers market yesterday, one of the farmers convinced me to try a golden raspberry. I normally can have one raspberry and be done, but these were great. Sweet and slightly tart, but not too much of that "raspberrieness" that usually turns me off from raspberries. I did something fun with about half of them, but if anyone has any other suggestions about what to do with golden raspberries, I am all ears!

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Steak Sandwiches

I wanted to make something special to go with my leftover steak. I decided to go with a steak sandwich. To go on top of my steak, I caramelized some red onions I also had some nutty Gruyere leftover so I thought that would be awesome melted over the steak. This was so great, kind of like a modern version of a Philly steak sandwich. I think next time I will add some arugula or spinach or other greens just to have some more *green*.

Steak Sandwich

1 Ciabatta roll
Cooked steak, sliced
2 tablespoons Gruyere cheese, shredded
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon parsley, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat a broiler

In a medium skillet heat oil and cook onions until caramelized, season with salt and pepper.

In a small food processor, mix together mayonnaise, parsley, and horseradish.

Split ciabatta in half, lay the sliced steak over the bread and top with the shredded cheese. Lay each of the sandwich face side up on a baking sheet and place under the broiler until cheese is melted and bread is toasted.

Spread mayonnaise over the top half of bread. Top the cheese with onions and close the sandwich. Serve immediately.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Grilled Steak with Cebolitas

When I was in my second year of college, I discovered Food Network and more importantly, Emeril Lagasse. I was obsessed with his shows. I literally used to make sure my classes were done by 5PM so I could race home and catch his shows. It wasn't just Emeril. At this time, I discovered Julia Child (who's repeats they used to show at around 2AM just when I was returning home from fraternity parties), Two Fat Ladies (who's dvds are coming out soon!), Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence, and Wolfgang Puck (who I saw at the farmers market a few months ago and almost crapped my pants!!!). Anyway, last year before I started food blogging, I found this great recipe of Emeril's for a grilled flank steak. I am not the hugest steak eater, but I love this marinade so much. It is so flavorful and the steak can be used in so many dishes it is definitely a keeper. I always make sure to marinate the steak overnight to get as much of the flavor into the meat as possible. I had a little mishap when I was making this and spilled my original batch of marinade all over my kitchen. I didn't have enough limes to use the second time around, so I replaced one of them with a lemon and it still turned out great.

PS, Totally un-food related, check out this clip of the lovely and insanely talented Adele on Conan. I had the greatest pleasure of seeing her perform back in May and I am hoping to see her again next month although there may be a scheduling conflict. She is really an artist that everyone should get to know and love.

Grilled Steak with Cebolitas
(From Emeril Lagasse)

1 Angus beef boneless Sirloin fillet
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus kosher salt, for seasoning

1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bunch green onions, plus 1/4 cup chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
Lime wedges, for serving

Combine flank steak, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, 2 tablespoons lime juice, cilantro, salt, pepper, and 1/4 cup chopped green onions in a large zip-top plastic bag. Allow steak to marinate at room temperature for 45 minutes, turning occasionally. Alternatively, marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Remove steak from marinade bag and remove as much of the marinade as possible. Discard remaining marinade. Place the steak on the preheated grill and cook steak for 2 1/2 minutes, then rotate on same side 45 degrees (to create grill marks) and grill for another 2 1/2 minutes. Flip steak and cook for an additional 5 minutes on the other side, rotating 45 degrees after 2 1/2 minutes. Remove from grill pan and allow the steak to rest for 10 minutes under a foil tent.

Meanwhile, trim the root ends of the green onions and toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and salt, to season. Place the green onions on the grill and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, (depending on the size of the onions), or until softened and slightly charred. Remove the onions from the grill and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice.
Slice the steak against the grain as thinly as possible and divide evenly between 4 plates. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Top each steak with several grilled onions. Garnish each plate with fresh cilantro sprigs and a lime wedge.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Green Cabbage Stir Fried with Egg

I picked up some cabbage at the farmer's market originally to use with turkey burgers, but then I wasn't in the mood. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with it, but then I came across this recipe. Tom makes some really beautiful Cambodian food. Check out his recent recipes featuring the biggest shrimp I have ever seen!! As with all stir fries, it is essential to have your ingredients ready before you start cooking because they go really quickly. I didn't feel like lugging out my wok so I used a large skillet which worked just fine. I served it with some brown rice and had a great lunch for work!

Green Cabbage Stir Fried with Egg
(Adapted from Under the Tamarind Trees)

1/2 medium head green cabbage, shredded
1 shallot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon agave nectar
1/2 tablespoon water
2 or 3 drops toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Canola oil for stir frying

In a small bowl whisk together the soy sauce, agave nectar, water, sesame oil, and chili flakes.

Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for one minute. Add the cabbage and cook just until it begins to wilt.

Push the cabbage to one side of the pan and add the egg. Cook the egg for a few seconds, scrape and turn and cook for a few more seconds. Stir the egg into the cabbage and toss until combined.

Add the sauce to the cabbage mixture and toss to coat the cabbage.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Ominivore's Hundred

Since it's my 100th post (ALREADY?!), I decided to complete this survey that has been floating around the food blogosphere lately. Andrew at Very Good Taste created a list of things that good omnivores should try at least once in their life. All the things in bold are things I have tried. Since I am not good with the Blogger functions, all the things I don't want to try are in italics (instead of being crossed out). If you're interested in doing this yourself, copy the survey and paste it to your site! Also, check back to Very Good Taste to see what other people have to say!


The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding (not sure how I feel about this one)
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart (At 2AM after a night at the club, hell yeah!)
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (Arbor Mist counts, right?! Please don't judge, it was in college)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream (one of my favorites!)
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras (to be perfectly honest, I don't think I would, but I'm not totally ruling it out)
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (A little of both, but not at the same time)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores (So many that I will probably never eat one again - side effects of Girl Scouts)
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain (practically everyday being Ghanian)
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Baked Eggs

Hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend! Mine was bittersweet since I had a great get together with my friends, but I had to say goodbye to a dear friend who is moving away for a little while :( Now to the food! I missed the first Barefoot Bloggers recipe of baked eggs and I have been wanting to try them for a while. I didn't have the ingredients for Ina's version, so I came up with a combination made up of things I had on hand. That's the beauty of baked eggs, you can literally through anything in to them and they come out great!! I am definitely going to be trying many versions of this in the future.

Baked Eggs

2 organic, free-range eggs
2 thin slices organic turkey breast
1 small Roma tomato, chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Cheese for sprinkling (I used a Mexican 3 cheese blend)
Bread for serving (optional)
Salt and pepper (optional - for the first time ever, I forgot to season and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this combo didn't really need the extra salt)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Butter a small ramekin and lay the turkey slices in it so they are overlapping. Lay the tomatoes on top of the turkey and spread the garlic over the tomatoes. Crack 2 eggs into the ramekin and top with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until the eggs have set. If you like less done eggs, reduce the cooking time.

Check out the beautiful blueberry and blackberry galette that pre-Jackie made!

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Slow Food Nation 2008

I don't even know where to start, Slow Food Nation was such a massive event and I was a little overwhelmed when I got there. I think it was the combination of trying to find the event and the large line of people waiting to get in to the Taste Pavilion. Once, I got in though, all was well. I went a little against the grain. The lines started at the bread pavilion so I decided to go all the way to the back. However, the last pavilion was for wine and I didn't feel much like drinking at 11 in the morning. I had a couple pieces of free cheese and then I decided to start my day with the Ice Cream. I chose the lighter flight which was made up of Cherry Lambec Sorbet from Jeni's Ice Cream in Columbus Ohio Cici's Gelateria in Mill Valley and Strauss Creamery provided Black Mission Fig and Yogurt flavors. I am so glad I picked this flight. The cherry flavor was nice and refreshing and a good palate cleanser. The yogurt was better than (dare I say?!) Pinkberry! And since I just finished a love affair with figs, I slowly savored the mission fig flavor.

The next stop was Charcuterie aka MEAT!! Since I returned to the meat eating world early last year, I love me some meat. I must admit, I hit this one twice. There was an appetizer of mortadella on crostini with sauerkraut and then three pieces of salumi. Prosciutto from Col. Newsom's, Berkshire VA Ham from Surry Farms, and the best (save the best for last) Salame Piccante from Perbacco. Each was great with their salty meatiness, but the spice of the salame put it in a class of it's own.
After the meats came the fish stop. The focus (of course) was on sustainable ways of catching fish. Here I had the Artic char that was smoked and mixed with tomatoes and other spices. Honestly, this was good, but it didn't blow me away. There was also a mix of seafood dishes, but I didn't want to use all my ticket space on this since there was still much more to try, but it seemed to be pretty good, judging from people's reactions.I headed towards the bread pavilions which were made up of pizza and Indian breads. I chose to go with pizza and I am so glad I did. While waiting in line I met Scott and Jennifer. Scott is in finance, but also has a sommelier's license which is how I found out that wine was actually one of the best bargains in the whole place. We all talked and enjoyed the rapini and sausage pizza which was being made right before our eyes in wood burning ovens. Then we headed to the wine. We enjoyed a lovely glass of Rubicon red (the varietal is escaping me at the moment, but I know it was delish) and some discussion. Scott and Jennifer had to leave me early, but not before they left me their extra tickets. (Thanks guys!!!) That left me with more opportunities to taste almost everything there.

The lines for olive oil, chocolate, and tea/coffee never really went down and since by this point, I had already had a couple of glasses of wine, I wasn't really in the mood to wait. I decided to try the honey pavilion and I am so glad I did. I am so passionate about people learning about the disappearance of honey bees and what we can do to help, the only regret was that I wasn't able to buy anything to contribute to the cause. I was able to taste several wonderful varieties of honey, my favorite being the Chicago city honey that had a wonderful fruitiness and a nice floral background.I finally made it through the cheese line and tasted several delicious cheeses, but like the pizza pavilion, there was little information about exactly which cheese I was tasting and where they were from. However, they were all amazing, and in the end, isn't that what it is all about?

By this point, I was quite full, but of course I kept going back for more wine. Sustainable, organic, and local wine? Hello! I am so there!! I tasted the meat again, but wasn't much in the mood for spirits so I went to the pickle and chutney pavilion. I only had one sample, but it was enough to tide me over until I got my flight back home to LA. It was cornbread topped with Newsom ham, and that was topped with a corn relish. I am not the biggest fan of corn, but that relish was enough to make anyone sing about the glories of corn from the rooftop.
My last stops were at the beer pavilion where I sampled a Summer honey brew from Big Sky Brewery in Missoula, MT and the Saison by the Sea from Coronado Brewing from Coronado, CA. Do you remember that song "Summer Love" by Justin Timberlake? That was so *my song* last summer even though I didn't have a summer love and this beer was so my beer at Slow Food Nation. It was bright and fruity and filled with the summer sun. Forgive me if that sounds so cheesy, but OMG it was good stuff.
That was it. My darling sister who lives in San Francisco came to get my lost ass and take me back to the BART station to catch my flight back to LA. Overall, I am so glad I made the trek. Everything was beautiful and the sense of community was so strong. Of course there were organizational things that could have been improved, but for a first event, I would say that Slow Food accomplished it's goal and put on a very successful event. I am looking forward to many more festivities like this in my future.

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