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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

Lately I have been thinking I should cook with other meats than just chicken, shrimp, beef, and bacon. Obviously those are my favorites, but it is nice to mix things up once in a while. My mom used to make pork tenderloin once in a while and I always liked it, but I have never tried it myself. I was originally planning on preparing the pork with a parsnip puree, but then I started scrolling through my Good Housekeeping cookbook. My parents gave me this book nearly ten years ago and I am still putting it to good use. It has so many helpful tips and lots and lots of pictures (which I need). The recipe calls for roasting the vegetables for an hour, but I am glad I kept an eye on mine as they only took about 25 minutes. It was probably because I used a baking sheet instead of a roasting pan. Either way the vegetables were really delicious. Nice and sweet and well seasoned. The shallots were my favorite part even though they got slightly gray in color after I took them out of the oven. The pork was really good too! It was moist and flavorful and for my first time cooking tenderloin, I think it came out just right.

I hope you all have happy, fun, and safe New Year's Eve celebrations. The past year has been really fun, especially with the birth of this blog. I have loved getting to know you all and sharing stories and recipes with you. Hopefully you enjoy reading them, and I look forward to sharing more and learning more from you in 2009. Happy New Year!!!



Grilled Pork Tenderloin
(Adapted from Epicurious)

2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 (1-lb) pork tenderloin

Mince garlic and mash to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt using a large heavy knife, then stir together garlic paste, rosemary, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl. Pat pork dry and rub all over with paste. Marinate, uncovered, at room temperature 20 minutes.

Pre-heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Cook the tenderloin, turning over occasionally until a thermometer inserted diagonally into the center of the pork reads 150 degrees. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.


Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
(From The Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Cookbook)

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
8 ounces large shallots, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a roasting pan or large baking sheet, toss the carrots, parsnips, and shallots with the olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper until evenly coated. Roast for 25-40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

I am sooo loving this break!! Right now I am on a vacation from my vacation, but given the circumstances that surrounded my vacation, I feel it is completely necessary. Yesterday I slept in (well, for me 10AM is sleeping in) and then had a wonderfully lazy day of going to the mall and catching a movie (Benjamin Button...highly recommended). Then, I headed home to cook some grub. I have been wanting to make this for weeks ever since I saw it on Erica's blog, and now I finally had the time. Unfortunately for me, the farmers market was missing some vendors including the people where I normally buy squash. I sucked it up and got a squash at the grocery store because I really wanted to make this recipe. It was so easy and so good!! I went with some spicy chicken sausage that I purchased and froze a while ago from the farmers market. I meant to add a bottled pasta sauce, but I could not for the life of me get the jar open so I added a few slow roasted tomatoes and some of the wine I was drinking (What? I'm on vacation!). I also added some garlic and onions instead of frozen vegetables which I am not the hugest fan of. It takes a bit of time with the cooking of the squash, but this can be a really easy weeknight meal if you have the time. It's also light enough to make you not feel guilty during the holiday season.


Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
(Adapted from Itzy's Kitchen)

1 medium acorn squash
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 links spicy chicken sausage, casings removed and crumbled
5 or 6 slow roasted tomatoes
1 or 2 tablespoons red wine
Shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash, cut side up in an 8x8 baking dish. Add about a 1/2 inch of water to the dish, cover with foil and bake the squash for 40-50 minutes until the squash is fork tender, but not mushy.

While the squash is cooking, saute the onions and garlic in a large pan with some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sausage and cook through. Add the tomatoes, and a few splashes of wine, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan.

Remove the squash from the oven. Drain the water. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Fill each squash half with the sausage mixture. Top each half with mozzarella and bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm ba-aaacckkk!!

I wish I could come up with some awesome title for this post, but I am typing this late after traveling and getting stuff done all day, so sorry. Well, I am back...barely. My trip was great, but let me tell you...flying has become a ginormous pain in the ass. I almost didn't make it to Hawaii and on the way back, I almost didn't make it back to LA. Luckily, I made it both ways and my luggage only got delayed once. Remember the days when flying used to be easy and even somewhat glamorous? Yeah, me neither. Now it is just a big shit show of people waiting in long lines and going crazy having to get between terminals. That all said, I had a really good vacation even though I missed my kitchen and all of you!! Having no internet connection besides my BlackBerry made me feel really disconnected with the world. I am happy to be back and here are some pictures of my Hawaiian adventure.

So, I spent the last four days in Kona, Hawaii. The big island is really nice, but unfortunately I couldn't escape the rain that has been plaguing LA...although, this time it was warm rain. The first full day (Christmas Eve), I got doused by a rainstorm while visiting the volcano park, but we did manage to see this beautiful double rainbow before the heavens opened up on us.



Christmas day was nice and relaxing spent at a couple of beaches before the rain came.

The next day we were up early for a trip to Kealaekua Bay (which has my sis' name in it!) to kayak and snorkel. Without going into details, there was an episode of me getting out of the kayak where I resembled a beached whale. I definitely worked up an appetite that day which was great because we went to a luau that night. Here is a pic of my plate piled sky high with food. I promise there were veggies and fruit on this plate underneath all the meat. Bonus was the fire dancer being kinda hot!!



The last full day we drove the entire circumference of the island. Here's a pic of me at the (supposed) southern most point on earth and we also did another trip to the volcano, but the air quality was so bad, we didn't get to go too far in. Let me tell you, the smell was enough to keep thousands away.



We finished with an earlier dinner at Merriman's which focuses on locally grown, organic, and sustainable ingredients...just my kind of place! It was a great dinner (lamb pita and fries), before heading out to our delayed flight and nearly missing my connection to LA.


I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. I literally headed from the airport straight to the farmers market so I am looking forward to bringing you some great food in anticipation of the New Year's celebration. I hope you have the whole week off, but if not, I hope it is a short one and that you get to enjoy a New Year's Eve with wonderful people you love.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

December Daring Bakers: French Yule Log

If you're reading this now, it means Blogger didn't screw me over and my post has appeared on time while I make my way back from Hawaii. If you're nice and not naughty, I will share some pictures of my beautiful vacation with you soon. I should really have a better title for this post like "How Chocolate Kicked My Ass" or something clever like that. As I do at the beginning of every every month, I headed over to the Daring Bakers forum to see what this month's challenge would be. At first I was confused. I know for a fact that last December the Daring Bakers made a yule log, but then I kept reading. This was wasn't a nice rolled cake, this was a scary French thing with dozens (ok, six) layers and lots and lots and LOTS of eggs and cream. Of course I work with eggs and cream, but this dessert involved many things I have never made before.

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They chose a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

Fear paralyzed me when I saw that the recipe was 18 pages long (which I later came to realize as mostly full of filler). As I said before, it called for things I had never made like creme brulee, ganache, praline, and dacquoise. I was so scared that I seriously contemplated opting out of this one, but my competitive side got the best of me. Hello! This is a challenge, of course I had to take it on. After reading through the recipe several times, I figured out the flavors I wanted to incorporate into my log. I am a sucker for cinnamon so I decided to go with the mostly dark chocolate flavors with a cinnamon milk ganache insert and a cinnamon creme brulee. Since the daquoise was almond in flavor, I decided to use almond in my praline (hence the almond brittle which I turned into the paste for that layer)

One of the things I love about being a Daring Baker is that there are so many people to help you and guide you through the process. One of the bakers gave a timeline of what order to prepare the various components of the log so that is how I was able to organize myself. Another big thing (one of the most exciting things to happen all year) is that I was finally able to get the STAND MIXER I have been coveting for months. When I first started cooking, I was very scornful of the stand mixer. I figured that people baked and cooked for years without it, so why would it not be possible for me to do the same. That was until a week ago, when I got mine. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen making the various components of this dessert, but my life was made infinitely better by the use of my spanking new stand mixer (which was worth the trip to the ghetto Target). The other thing that helped was a kitchen scale which was another recent purchase. So much of this recipe was in ounces and grams and instead of trying to do conversions, I just figured it out on this handy kitchen tool. This was a pretty exhausting process and even though I wanted to take pictures of each step, I just didn't have the time since I was trying to bang this out before I left on my trip.

The first part I made was the praline paste for the Praline Crisp insert. I also decided to go ahead and make the gavottes (lace crepes) versus using Rice Krispies. The only snag is that I didn't have enough of the gavottes once I had finished that part, so I made up the difference using Special K. Even though my praline layer was very crumbly, it was one of my favorite parts of the recipe. I am glad, that I had a lot of it leftover because it made quite an addictive snack.

The next day, I tackled the bulk of the log. First up was the creme brulee insert. As I mentioned, I wanted cinnamon flavors in my log so I made a cinnamon creme brulee. It was a simple recipe, but the cooking temperature and time was not only a problem for me, but for most of the Daring Bakers. I ended up cooking it at (approximately) 210 for the first hour and then at 275 for another 30 or so minutes until it set.

While the creme brulee was baking, I attacked the dark chocolate mousse. The only other mousse I have made was an incredibly simple recipe. This chocolate mousse recipe was waaaay more involved. I had to make a pate a bomb (what?) and whip cream, and soften gelatin, and do all sorts of unmentionable things. I messed up a couple of times in the mousse recipe. Instead of bringing the cream to a boil in my double boiler, I added the cream and chocolate at the same time. I ended up needing way more cream than the 2 tablespoons called for to make it a smooth mixture. Also, I used powdered gelatin. In the recipe it says to "follow the instructions on the box" for powdered gelatin. I can prove to you, my box didn't come with instructions. When I mixed the gelatin with the chocolate, I had a really unappetizing mix with a whole bunch of liquid on the top, which I skimmed a lot of off before I folded in the whipped cream. After a while, I thought I was going to have to restart the whole thing, but magically it came together. It was delicious too. In retrospect, I wish I had added a little bit of cinnamon flavor to the mousse, but again it was delicious the way it was.

Next up, daquoise. Da-WHO?? This little almond cake was one of the easiest parts of the recipe and also one of the tastiest. I just did the straightforward almond daquoise recipe and could not have been happier. I was so glad to have some of the cake left over to munch on while I waited for the partially assembled log to freeze and make the ganache.

So second to last, I made the cinnamon milk ganache. This was actually not as difficult as I thought it would be. It called for making a caramel out of sugar, adding cream to the caramel and then adding that mixture to some chocolate and then some butter. One bit of advice, do not (not even for a second) walk away from the sugar while it is caramelizing. One bathroom break and you could have an almost burned caramel...not that I would know from experience.

Once I had these layers complete, the actual log assembly was pretty straightforward. Mousse, creme brulee, mousse, praline, mousse. Freeze for a couple of hours...make ganache, top with dacquoise and freeze overnight. Next day, make the icing and re-freeze the log. My log was very uneven so I "decorated" it with leftover praline. I think it's quite ugly, but the taste of this was amazing. Tony came over and we enjoyed the log together. It is verrrry rich. We could only eat a little bit at a time, but it was fantastic.


The recipes below are the components I used. Check out the Daring Bakers blogroll to see the other combinations people came up with.



Daquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)

Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper

Note: You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.

2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar
2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar

Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner's sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).

1. Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner's sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).
2. Sift the flour into the mix.
3. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
4. Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5. Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6. Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm).
7. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden.
8. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Dark Chocolate Mousse

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula

Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.

Ingredients:
2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 1/2tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)
2. Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in color (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).
2a. Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b. Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.
2c. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3. In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff.
5. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in 1/2 cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.
6. Add in the rest of the whipped cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Cinnamon-Milk Ganache Insert

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Equipment: pan, whisk. If you have plunging mixer (a vertical hand mixer used to make soups and other liquids), it comes in handy.

Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.

1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp / 135g) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2.7 oz (75g) milk chocolate, finely chopped
3.2 oz (90g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened

1. Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).
2. Heat the cream with the cinnamon (use the quantity of cinnamon you want to infuse the cream, a pinch is the smallest amount suggested) until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the milk and dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.
4. Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast. The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.

Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert

Preparation time: 10 minutes (+ optional 15 minutes if you make lace crepes)

Equipment: Small saucepan, baking sheet (if you make lace crepes).
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin (or I use an empty bottle of olive oil).

Note: Feuillete means layered (as in with leaves) so a Praline Feuillete is a Praline version of a delicate crisp. There are non-praline variations below. The crunch in this crisp comes from an ingredient which is called gavottes in French. Gavottes are lace-thin crepes. To our knowledge they are not available outside of France, so you have the option of making your own using the recipe below or you can simply substitute rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K for them. Special note: If you use one of the substitutes for the gavottes, you should halve the quantity stated, as in use 1oz of any of these cereals instead of 2.1oz.

If you want to make your own praline, please refer back to the Daring Baker Challenge Recipe from July 2008.

To make 2.1oz / 60g of gavottes (lace crepes - recipe by Ferich Mounia):
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk
2/3 Tbsp (8g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup – 2tsp (35g) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp / 0.5 oz (15g) beaten egg
1 tsp (3.5g) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vegetable oil

1. Heat the milk and butter together until butter is completely melted. Remove from the heat.
2. Sift flour into milk-butter mixture while beating, add egg and granulated sugar. Make sure there are no lumps.
3. Grease a baking sheet and spread batter thinly over it.
4. Bake at 430°F (220°C) for a few minutes until the crepe is golden and crispy. Let cool.

Ingredients for the Praline Feuillete:
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
2.1oz (60g) lace crepes(gavottes) or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
2. Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

Cinnamon Creme Brulee Insert

Preparation time: 15 minutes + 1 hour infusing + 1 hour (+) baking

Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper

Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc...

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
1/2 cup (115g) whole milk
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean

1. Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.
2. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3. Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
4. Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
5. Put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly

Dark Chocolate Icing

Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)

Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan

Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.
For other gelatin equivalencies or gelatin to agar-agar equivalencies, look at the notes for the mousse component.


4g / 1/2 Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
1/4 cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50g) water
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2. Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
3. Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
4. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mele Kalikimaka

I'm off! Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah and whatever it is that you celebrate at this time of year. Thank you all so much for welcoming me so warmly into the food blogging world. I have had so much fun working on this blog, so I hope you have a fun time reading it. Love and best wishes to you all and see you when I get back!! xoxo

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Pancetta and Cinnamon Waffles

A few days ago, my friend Raul suggested another chicken and waffle brunch. How could I resist? I'm on vacay! Of course, I knew we wouldn't do a whole chicken and waffle ordeal, but I wanted to do something special before we left on our respective trips (Daul to Mexico and me to Hawaii). I saw this recipe last week on Giada's new show. By the way, I have officially decided that Giada as a person bugs me, but her recipes tend to be excellent so I will continue to make them. This was another good one. Using a mix certainly helped because after all the cooking I did on Saturday, I wasn't really in the mood to create waffle genius. Raul picked up the gluten free waffle mix from Trader Joes which ended up being pretty good. The recipe doesn't call for sugar in the mix so the maple syrup (which I personally don't normally go for), added to the recipe. We used Vermont maple syrup from Dan's home town because we roll local like that :). This is a very easy and straightforward recipe. The only thing that bothered me a bit was that the pancetta mostly sunk to the bottom of the waffle batter so the last few waffles had most of the pancetta. No worries though, Raul cooked up some bacon to add some more pork to the menu. It was really good and filling...now if only I could become an expert at the new Raving Rabbids game, it would have been a perfect day.





Pancetta and Cinnamon Waffles
(From Giada De Laurentiis)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
4 ounces pancetta, diced
1 package Trader Joe's waffle mix
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup maple syrup

Special Equipment: a Belgian or conventional waffle iron

Preheat and lightly grease a waffle iron.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until brown and crispy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine waffle mix, eggs, vegetable oil, water, cinnamon, and salt. Using a whisk, blend the ingredients together until smooth. Stir in the pancetta. Pour the batter, using the amount recommended by the waffle iron manufacturer's instructions, into the preheated waffle iron. Cook waffles for 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown.

Place waffles onto serving plates. Sprinkle with the chopped walnuts and drizzle with maple syrup. Serve immediately.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Caramelized-Apple and Pecan Pie

Two days into my vacation and I am already completely exhausted. Tony and I had a very long trip to the "ghetto" Target yesterday and then I came home and baked, and baked, and...baked. I did so much cooking and tidying up, that I didn't have time to come up with something for today until the glorious JenFinn came to my rescue. You will see the results of my baking at the end of the week. Today, we have this awesome looking pie. Remember that pie pic I posted at the beginning of the month? Well, here is the final result. Unfortunately, I didn't get to stick around long enough to try this pie, but according to JenFinn and friends, it was pretty freaking amazing. Jen didn't alter the recipe at all, but forgot the egg wash initially and added it 20 minutes in, which she thinks is how the cracks developed. Regardless, it is beautiful and I really wish I could have been there to try it.


Scroll down to the bottom to see a picture of Raul's best turkey ever. Let me tell you, watching him lug that 25 pound turkey to the car from the farmers market was not a pretty site, but apparently it was one of the stars of the Thanksgiving dinner.


Caramelized-Apple and Pecan Pie
(From Bon Appetit November 2008 via Epicurious)


Crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons (about) chilled orange juice, divided
1 large egg white, beaten to blend

Apples:
1 1/2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
3 Albemarle Pippin apples or Fuji apples (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds), peeled,quartered, cored

Filling:
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup coursely chopped pecans, toasted

For crust:
Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor 5 seconds. Add butter. Using on/off turns, blend until butter is reduced to small pea-size pieces. Add 4 tablespoons orange juice. Blend, using on/off turns, until moist clumps form, adding more juice by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Roll out dough on floured surface to 14-inch round. Transfer to 10-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Cut off all but 1/2 inch of dough overhang. Fold dough edge under and crimp decoratively, forming high-standing rim. Freeze 10 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate crust.

Brush inside of crust with enough beaten egg white to coat.

For apples:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk brown sugar and butter in large ovenproof skillet over medium heat until butter melts, sugar dissolves, and mixture comes to boil. Boil 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Arrange apples, rounded side down, in syrup. Bake 15 minutes; turn over. Bake until just tender, about 20 minutes longer. Transfer apples to paper towels to cool slightly. Whisk syrup in skillet until smooth. Cool slightly and reserve. Maintain oven temperature.

For filling:
Mix sugar, flour, and salt in small bowl. Place eggs in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in reserved syrup from apples. Add corn syrup, vanilla, and sugar mixture; whisk until smooth. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into crust. Arrange apples, rounded side up, atop filling.

Bake pie until filling is set in center, covering edges with foil if browning too quickly, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover loosely with foil and let stand at room temperature.




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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Almond Brittle


Wooohooo!!! As of yesterday at 4PM-ish I have the next two weeks off! Besides my trip, I am planning on spending a lot of time in the kitchen. However, my posting for the next week or so will be light due to the fact that I won't really be around until after Christmas (besides this weekend). I did manage to squeeze in time to make this candy which I plan on sharing with my friends in the spirit of the holiday. Remember back when I stated that I suck at candy making? Well, I attempted that pepita brittle four times before I decided to call it a day and declare the brittle the winner. My best attempt looked like this:


This was so annoying and I blame the recipe because even the switch to refined sugar (from organic) yielded these results. After all the failed attempts and a waste of a whole lotta sugar, I wasn't so sure I wanted to attempt another candy recipe so soon, but I had pretty decent results when I made last month's caramel, that I decided to give it another go. This time, the recipe only took me two tries. The first time, I toasted the almonds first, but realized that they toasted a lot when I added them to the sugar mixture. The first batch came out tasting good, but slightly burned. I immediately tried it again with un-toasted almonds and thought this was the better tasting of the two. I think the only change I would make next time is to add a little bit of salt to the mix to give it another dimension.

I borrowed this recipe from the Daring Bakers' July Challenge who got it from Carole Walter.


Almond Praline
(Adapted from Carole Walter)




1 cup slivered raw almonds
2/3 cup Sugar
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.

Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly.

When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces.

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And the Winner Is...

According to the Random Integer Generator, Laurie from That's Not What the Recipe Says is the winner of the Christmas plate giveaway. Congratulations Laurie!! Please email me your address [dishingupdelights AT gmail DOT com] so we can get you your plates. Thanks to all who entered I hope you have a wonderful and happy Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year, and whatever else you celebrate!! I hope to do another giveaway soon :)

Here are your random numbers:

8

Timestamp: 2008-12-20 08:06:12 UTC

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Last Chance!!!

Ok ya'll...today's the last chance to enter my holiday giveaway and/or get a 15% discount on Delight.com. What are you waiting for? Entries must be received by midnight tonight and it's open to US residents only so you better get on it!!! Happy Holidays!!!

Images from Delight.com

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Slow Roasted Tomato Soup

Weird things are going on in Southern California. The heavens have opened and rain is pouring down. Cold temperatures have hit and snow has hit abnormal levels. While a trip to the farmers market brings the normal fall/winter foods of root vegetables, winter squash, and wonderful greens, there are also still tons of berries, asparagus, and other foods that people in say, Illinois only see in the middle of summer (think, figs). This time of year tends to be a time of excess and I am no exception. I am just feeling stuffed full of things that I don't normally eat. For example, yesterday, my friend and I made plans to have a long, boozy lunch at Saddle Ranch. While the food at Saddle Ranch is nothing special (besides GINORMOUS portions), the bottomless mimosas and bloody marys for ten bucks are nothing to laugh at. My friend stood me up for TV star drama, but I ended up eating way too much of my bland (4 egg!!) omelet and having several mimosas on my own. By the time I got home, my body was begging me...pleading with me to please be nicer to it. I am trying not to cook too many things before I leave for Hawaii in five days, but I still have to get through the next few days and weekend. A quick browse through my freezer led me to a rather large bag of slow roasted tomatoes. As I mentioned, we still have berries and asparagus at our farmers market, but tomatoes are one of things that have disappeared almost completely. I am so glad I thought to buy a bunch of them every week when they were in season and put them through the delicious slow roasting process.

This is a really simple soup. I decided to go vegan on this one and use some home made vegetable stock. I thought I would jazz it up (and make it a less puke-y color) by garnishing it with some fried garlic (garlic lightly fried in olive oil until golden, season with salt...save the oil), and some fresh parsley and leaving a couple of whole tomato slices in there (if you squint, you can see them). Since my stock and tomatoes were already pretty well seasoned, I went very light on the seasonings in the soup. I kind of just threw things in that I needed to use up. This was such a tasty soup and so light. Of course, I really like a lot of my food to have a little kick so the red pepper flakes added a nice background heat. I was pleasantly surprised by the garlic chips on top which is something I have never tried before and thought I had kind of failed at, but they were delish. Cold, rainy night...warm soup...does it get better?

You only have two more days to enter my Christmas giveaway and receive a discount on Delight.com! Better hop to it!

Slow Roasted Tomato Soup
(By Esi)

10 slow roasted tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
Dash of dried oregano
Dash of dried red pepper flakes
2 cups vegetable stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Garlic chips for garnish (optional)
Flat-leaf parsley for garnish (optional)

In a large stock pot, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and shallot and saute until translucent, about ten minutes. Add the garlic and thyme sprigs and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, if they are frozen, cook until heated through.

Add the vegetable stock. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until all of the flavors have come together.

Remove the sprigs of thyme. Carefully ladle the soup into a blender and pulse until blended, leaving some chunks if desired. Serve warm, topped with fried garlic and/or parsley if desired.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pesto Pizza with Shrimp

I still have pizza dough left from my October Daring Bakers! I also had pesto left from when I made pesto pizzas at Halloween. I knew I wanted to do another pesto pizza and I thought shrimp would be a nice topping this time. This was delicious and fast since I already had everything ready. This was so good that instead of saving some for my work lunch the next day, I ate the entire pizza in one sitting. I KNOW!! Little miss piggy! It was that good though. Clearly from my picture (and all my other pizza recipe pictures), I am incapable of rolling a pizza dough into a round shape. I have come to enjoy the look of the misshapen pizza though. Oh, and I am still looking for help on how to create an "About Me" tab, separate from my Blogger profile. Any and all help is appreciated!

Don't you want some cute plates for Christmas? Find out how to win them, here! There's also a 15% discount for the amazing site, Delight.com.



For the pesto:
1 1/2 cups fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt

For the pizza:
1 ball pizza dough
Shredded mozzarella
Shrimp
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pesto

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees

In a skillet, heat olive oil and add the shrimp. Season with salt and pepper and cook the shrimp, just until they are pink on the outside (they will continue to cook in the oven). Set aside to cool slightly.

To make the pizza, spread a thin layer of pesto over the dough. Top with mozzarella and then top with the shrimp. Brush the edges of the dough with olive oil. Bake 8-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the edges are browned.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Parmesan Thyme Crackers

I feel like every food blogger who has picked up Ina Garten's new book has made this recipe. Well of course I had to jump on the bandwagon! Over the weekend, I went to a (very long) birthday party and I made these crackers to add to the munchies table. I also made the POM Cheesecake, but I was a little less successful with the topping which was a little runny and leaked on me in the car ride over. The only other crackers I have made are the ones I did for my first Daring Bakers challenge and this was a completely different cracker. They are buttery and flavorful and sooooo good! I mean, this is just getting ridiculous. Does Ina ever make a bad recipe? These are really simple too and I am sure extra dough freezes well so go ahead and make a double batch! Oh, random question, but if any of you have Blogger expertise and can tell me how to make an "About Me" section, I will love you to pieces! And PS, did you notice that those chicks on The Hills went to Lemonade on last night's ep, and they went to Palihouse where I had my birthday...yes, I am still watching The Hills, please don't judge. The "reality" may be laughable, but at least they have good taste in lunch and drink spots!

Don't forget about that giveaway and the discount on Delight.com!


Parmesan Thyme Crackers
(From Ina Garten)



1 stick butter at room temperature
4 ounces grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cup flour

With an electric mixer, cream the butter for 1 minute. The mixer should be on low speed as you add the cheese, thyme, salt and pepper. Once combined, add the flour and continue to mix until the dough is in large crumbles, should take about 1 minute more. You can add 1 teaspoon of water if it's too dry.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and press it into a smooth ball. Roll into a 9" log and wrap the log in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 4 days.

Oven preheated to 350. Cut the log into 3/8" rounds with a sharp knife and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes until lightly golden brown. Cool on racks and serve.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette in Rosemary Pie Crust

To say I was a waste of space yesterday would be putting it lightly. Sure, I made it to the farmers market and Trader Joe's, but then I came home and watched three episodes of Top Chef while wrapped in two sweaters wearing my Ugg scuffs. I was starving all day and seriously thought about walking over to Chaya to pick up a burger, but guilt and my low bank balance got the better of me. I came across this recipe because several food bloggers had been making it, so I decided to give it a shot and make it my afternoon project. I recently made another round of rosemary pie dough so I used that instead of the written pastry crust, but otherwise, I followed this recipe exactly. It is insanely delicious. I mean, how can you go wrong with sweet caramelized onions, butternut squash and cheese?! There was also a nice kick from the cayenne pepper (which instead of stirring into the onions, I just tossed with the butterut squash mixture because in true to me form, I didn't read the directions all the way through). Even with the pre-made pie dough, this recipe requires a bit of time, so it's best to save it for a weekend project, but seriously, you should try it. Can you believe there is only a little over a week left until Christmas?? I am definitely looking forward to an easy work week and then two weeks off!!

Check out the Menu for Hope V on Chez Pim. Find out what you can do to help people less fortunate...then...

Don't forget to enter the giveaway!!


Click here for the galette recipe. The dough recipe is below.

Rosemary Pie Crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 tablepoons-1/4 cup, ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Kosher salt

To make the dough:
For the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and rosemary in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to one hour.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage Butter

I planned to make this dish several weeks ago, but other things kept coming up that I wanted to try instead. However, I really want to make some space in my freezer and I had just enough pumpkin to make this. I have never made my own pasta before, so this was a nice and simple introduction to that world. Now, I want to get a pasta roller and make all sorts of things. As if I need another thing to clutter my odd kitchen. As usual, I made a couple of mistakes, but overall this turned out well. I forgot to add the salt and nutmeg called for in the original recipe to the pumpkin mixture, but I salted the pasta water well enough, that it made up for it. Since I am not the hugest fan of nutmeg, I didn't feel like I was missing anything. Remember that thing I said, about not being all there lately, this was classic, but it ended well. This is a pretty hearty dish so if you're looking for something filling on a cold night, this could definitely fit the bill.

You know what else? This would look really good on Christmas plates! Click here to find out how to win a set.



Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage Butter
(Adapted from Cookthink)

1/2 cup pumpkin purée
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
6 tablespoons whole wheat flour
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
5-8 fresh sage leaves (depending on the size, mine were small)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan

Stir the egg yolk into the pumpkin. Add the whole wheat flour, then half the all-purpose flour and stir just to combine the flour with the pumpkin. Add the remaining flour a little at a time, stirring, until the mixture forms a dough.

On a floured work surface, knead the dough two or three times to firm it up, taking care not to overwork the dough or the gnocchi will be tough. Separate the dough into four pieces and roll each piece into a ball.

Again, on a floured work surface, roll each ball out into a long dowel shape, about an inch in diameter. With a fork or pastry knife, cut the dowel into 2-inch pieces. Roll each piece across the back of a fork with your thumb to form a small indentation on one side and ridges on the other. Toss the finished gnocchi with flour.

Bring a large pot of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: melt the remaining butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter melts, add the sage leaves and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Shake the pan around until the butter lightly browns, then remove the pan from the heat so the butter doesn't burn.

Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook them until they rise to the surface, 4-6 minutes per batch. Put the butter back over medium heat if it has cooled. Drain and add the gnocchi to the skillet with the butter and sage and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Vanilla Bean Scones

You may be asking yourself (or me) "didn't you just make scones a few weeks ago?". Well, I did, but I love scones and I have been wanting to try this version for a while. I am totally obsessed with those mini vanilla bean scones at Starbucks and even though they are pretty inexpensive (75 cents per scone), I wanted to see if I could at least try to find a way to replicate this recipe if and when Starbucks decides to discontinue those bad boys. I have a bajillion vanilla beans so I thought this would be a good use for one. I based this recipe on the pomegranate cream scones I made a few weeks ago. Instead of doing a vanilla bean icing a la Starbucks, I just brushed the tops of the scones with cream and gave them a pretty liberal sprinkling of vanilla sugar. These turned out really well. I OD'ed a little on the cream in the scone recipe (used a little more than what I wrote) because my dough wasn't coming together. Instead of staying in the lovely triangles I cut them into, the scones looked more like question marks, but the flavor was really similar to the Starbucks version. Also, I don't feel guilty about eating these because I know exactly what went into them. Although, with the few cents I am saving, I may be picking up a Cinnamon Dolce Latte one of these weekends...

Have you entered the giveaway yet? Click here for the deets.

Vanilla Bean Scones

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons vanilla sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
6 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1 large egg
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream, plus extra for brushing
Vanilla sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and work it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until it resembles a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, beat the egg, vanilla beans, and the cream together with a fork. Add to the flour mixture and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat the dough into a round, about 1-inch thick. Cut into equal sized wedges. Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with cream and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Bake until golden, about 12 to 15 minutes.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Kale Salad with Parmesan and Lemon

I'm so glad I came across this recipe on The Kitchn the other day. I didn't pick up much at the farmers market last weekend, but on an impulse I bought a head of kale. I really want to make kale chips again, but they have now been requested for our New Year's Eve potluck/slumber party so I am saving it until then (really looking forward to that by the way!). This is a really good, easy recipe to make if you're having a dinner party and want a nice light starter. Just make this first, and then let it sit for a while to let the flavors come together while you get everything else going. Of course this recipe didn't call for pomegranate seeds, but I thought the contrast of colors looked pretty in the picture. Looks like Christmas, huh? I didn't use all of the dressing that I made, but I like this kind of dressing with spinach a lot so that's what I used the leftovers for. I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of holiday parties and cheer and don't forget to enter my giveaway!

Oh! Visit Tony's blog to see you know who on Ellen the other day!


Kale Salad with Parmesan and Lemon
(Adapted from The Kitchn)

1 small bunch kale, washed, trimmed of stems, and leaves sliced into thin ribbons
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved
1 lemon, juiced
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pomegranate seeds for garnish (optional)

Toss the kale with the cheese. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and olive oil and pour over the salad. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Let the salad sit at room temperature for an hour before serving. Top with pomegranate seeds before serving, if desired.

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All I Want for Christmas...Is a GIVEAWAY!

This year in my family, we aren't giving gifts. For some reason, my mom thought giving us a trip to Hawaii is gift enough (haha). However, later this month I will be doing a gift exchange with my friends. I recently came across the site Delight.com that I am totally obsessed with. First of all, the name, isn't it...delightful? They have some really unique and interesting gifts that are perfect for the home cook or entertainer and even better because many of them are eco-friendly. I am so needing this cookbook stand and these onion goggles, since the mere mention of onions makes me tear up. The mac daddy of all gifts is this Eco-Delightful Get Green Gift Set which has tons of goodies for when you want to look cool at the farmers market or are strolling around town. Including one of those aluminum water bottles that I have been coveting. Someone feel free to get me this bag, I will love you forever :)

Well, the nice people at Delight.com are offering my readers a 15% discount. Just enter the code: DishingDelight (case sensitive) at checkout. They are also letting me host my first giveaway! One lucky reader will win a set of the White Christmas Vintage Plates so you can have your Christmas dinner in style. All you have to do to be eligible is leave a comment about one or two things you would like to give and/or get this year. Giveaway is open to US residents only, and comments must be received by midnight PST, December 20th to be eligible. Good luck!





Images from Delight.com

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Orzo with Bacon and a Fried Egg

Do you ever have those days when you get home from work and are starving and have absolutely nothing in your refrigerator? No? Well, I do. Well a while back I found this recipe on Mango & Tomato (two of the best fruits ever!) and saved it for one of those days. I had just enough bacon, just a few eggs, and a box of orzo that I needed to finish. It came together quickly and was really satisfying. The original recipe calls for a poached egg, but wouldn't you know, I have never poached an egg in my life! I forgot to add capers. Lately my mind has been off. I forget to add things in recipes, completely ignore steps, and yet they still somehow turn out okay. Can I just say I am really looking forward to my two week break after next week? After I get back from tanning myself in Hawaii, I plan on spending some time in the kitchen (not like I don't do that enough already), and really reading through recipes and preparing things with more love instead of just the quickness of getting through it. For now, I just have to get through this week which has been the longest. Week. Ever!

Orzo with Bacon and a Fried Egg
(Slightly Adapted from Mang0 & Tomato)

Orzo
3 slices of bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 egg
Cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large pan, cook the bacon until almost crispy. Add the onions and garlic to the pan with bacon and cook until the onion and garlic are tender. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Add the cooked orzo to the bacon mixture and toss until everything is combined. While the orzo mixture is combining, lightly fry and egg until the whites have set and the yolk is slightly runny.

Serve with the egg on top of a bed of the orzo mixture and garnish with cilantro.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

POM-Tastic!

Here are some more fun things to serve up if you are having a holiday party soon. A few weeks ago, I took a picture of this cocktail that I had before going out to a party. It was delicious and pretty. I got the idea from a yummy drink that I love at Chaya which is just champagne (or sparkling wine) with pomegranate seeds sprinkled in it. I enjoyed several of these cocktails earlier this year while reading a script out on the restaurant's patio. The script was ludicrous (when the movie comes out next year, I may or may not share details with you), but the drinks and the Chaya burger kept me going.


Last week, I got the idea to make a pomegranate granita. I mean, I have done everything else with pomegranates, why not a boozy granita as well? You get your antioxidants and your buzz in one swoop :) I used quite a bit of vodka in this recipe. If you're not down with that amount, or want to make this a virgin granita (which will freeze better), just replace the vodka with water.


I recently came across this pomegranate jam on TasteSpotting that I knew I would have to try. We often talk about preserving our summer harvest, but clearly, I love pomegranates so much, I thought it would be an excellent way to preserve some of the winter harvest. Well, unfortunately for me, the recipe didn't go exactly as planned. I blame my roommate who was hovering around my space while I was trying to recreate culinary genius. Whatever the problem, before I knew it, I had created pomegranate caramel instead of pomegranate jam. Fortunately for me, it was really good!

(When I still thought it could pass for jam)



(The resulting caramel candy)


Pomegranate Bellini

Proseco
Pomegranate juice
Pomegranate seeds

Fill a glass with proseco. Add a splash of pomegranate juice and top with pomegranate seeds.


Pomegranate Granita

1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
3/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup water
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Whisk together all of the ingredients in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved. Pour into an 8x8 baking dish and place in the freezer. Chill for at least 4 hours, scraping the top every hour. Can be done overnight.

To serve, layer a glass alternately with pomegranate arils, granita, and then top with more arils. Serve immediately.

Pomegranate Carmel Candy

1 3/4 cups pomegranate juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds


Combine pomegranate juice and sugar in a large pot over moderate heat. Stir frequently until the sugar dissolves, turn the heat to medium high and continue cooking for 30 minutes. Skim off the pink foam as necessary.

Add the pomegranate seeds and lemon juice and cook for another 30 minutes.

Check for consistency by dropping a spoonful of candy on a chilled plate. When you tilt the plate, if it stays in a mound and not run, the candy is done. Alternately, you can cook the mixture until dark amber in color.

Pour into an 9-inch baking dish lined with greased aluminium foil. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Use a pizza cutter to cut the candy into pieces. Alternately, you can break the candy into pieces once it has completely cooled.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shrimp with Chive Butter

Here's a quick and simple dish for your next party, or a light Sunday lunch if you're like me. It's fantastically easy and quick and the flavor is awesome! I don't know what else to say about them, they are really good. So instead I want to talk about one of my favorite movies ever. Some people tend to think that I am a bit of a Scrooge at this time of year, but I'm not. It's just that, for me, the holidays are bittersweet. However, any time I pop in the movie Love Actually, I am reminded that it really is a time to celebrate and be happy with the people you love. I remember when I went to the theater and I was by myself watching the movie and laughing and crying like a baby. To this day, I still have the same reaction! If for some strange reason you have not seen it, please go rent this amazing movie. It will put a smile on even the grumpiest of faces, and lest I sound cheesy, it will warm your heart as well.



Shrimp with Chive Butter
(Adapted from Epicurious)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Juice from 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
18 uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, butterflied
Whole chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat broiler. Place mustard in bowl; whisk in lemon juice, then melted butter. Add chopped chives. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange shrimp on broiler pan. Brush with some of butter mixture. Broil until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Arrange on plates and garnish with whole chives. Serve with remaining butter.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Rosemary Foccacia

For the last couple of months, I have been baking loaves of faster no knead bread almost every week. I have done it so often, I don't even need to look at the recipe anymore. However, I have been noticing other recipes for breads that I wanted to try. Natalie of the amazing blog Hot Off the Garlic Press, recently posted this delicious post-Thanksgiving sandwich, but the bread recipe is what really caught my eye. Yesterday was the perfect day for cooking and baking. It was cool and gloomy and rain was threatened. I really like staying in and baking on days like that. To me, it feels more like the holidays than the eighty plus degree weather that's expected in a couple of days. I know, I shouldn't be complaining...I'm going to Hawaii for Christmas, but still. Anyway, I cooked up a bunch of things and have some easy recipes coming up for holiday entertaining. I feel like the holiday parties just sneak up on you and then all of a sudden you have like four parties in one day. It's tough being so popular, but I manage ;) Back to the bread. It's a really simple and delicious recipe. I only modified it slightly by using some whole wheat flour and sprinkling the top with some kosher salt. It didn't get quite as brown as I wanted it so I think next time, I may play around with the cooking time. Focaccia is really an easy bread to make and takes way less time than even the faster no knead bread. If you haven't tried it, you should really whip up a batch soon.



Rosemary Foccacia
(Adapted slightly from Hot Off the Garlic Press)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package active yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup very warm water
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

In a small bowl, mix together the white and whole wheat flours. In a large bowl, mix 1 cup of the flour, the rosemary, the sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons
of the olive oil and the warm water. Beat on medium speed 3 minutes. Stir in enough of the remaining flour until dough is soft, and leaves the sides of the bowl.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 5-8 minutes, or until dough is smooth and springy. Take the first bowl and spray it lightly with cooking spray, then place the dough back in to rise. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until almost double, about 30 minutes. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Gently deflate dough. Make the dough into a big circle. Brush the remaining olive oil across the dough, while using your fingers, make little dents all the way across the dough allowing the oil seep in. Let the dough rise once more, about another 30 minutes. Heat oven to 400 and bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Grate the cheese on top right as it comes out of the oven.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Coxinha

A little while ago, a friend of mine asked (begged) me to make coxinha. What are coxinha you ask? Well, they are fried chicken pastries in the shape of little drumsticks (clearly mine don't look like drumsticks..I'm a novice!). This local restaurant make some of the best coxinha I have ever tried. Actually, I think they are the only coxinha I have ever tried. The ingredient list for these is simple enough, but the process can take quite a while. I definitely do not suggest making these after you have had several cocktails and nothing to eat all day except candy and popcorn like I did yesterday! Raul let me borrow his little deep fryer which made these much easier to make. Although I read the recipe completely through a few times, I still ran into some snags. The boiling of chicken and chopping is very straightforward. However, when it comes time to make the dough, that's when things get strange. I ended up just reheating the stock and chicken and stirring in the flour to make a dough. That's what I did when I made zeppole last year so I thought it would work with this. However, I found the dough to be extremely sticky and difficult to work with so I added much more flour to the mix. Also, in re-reading the recipe, I realized I forgot the egg whites. Even though I halved everything else, I ended up using much closer to the three cups of flour called for in the original recipe. Even with the halved recipe, I had about eighteen of these little balls. They are very filling so I suggest you make them for a party instead of your Saturday late night dinner. One last note. The chicken filling makes more than you will need for the recipe. I am saving mine to use in taquitos or quesadillas or something, so stay tuned!


Oh, I had the opportunity to go to a screening of the insanely amazing movie Milk the other day. if you haven't already seen it, I strongly suggest you get out to your local movie theater and catch this wonderful, inspiring film straight away!

Coxinha
(Adapted from Recipe Zaar)

1 1/2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 chicken bullion cube
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 -2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 oz cream cheese, cubed
Breadcrumbs

Cut chicken breasts into 2-inch cubes, and place in a saucepan with onion, garlic, butter, stock cube, salt and pepper and 1 1/2 cups of water. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Strain the solids from the broth, retaining the broth and the solids. Finely chop the chicken to make the filling. Add the parsely and green onion to the chicken.

Measure the remaining broth into a saucepan. You will need 1 1/2 xups so make it up with extra water. Add the chicken mixture to the pan and stir to combine. Add all the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon for one minute until the dough becomes stiff. Remove the dough from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Turn the dough out to a floured board and knead until the dough is smooth, adding more flour if the mixture is too sticky. Using your hands or a tablespoon, break the dough into pieces. Pat flat, and place a piece of cream cheese in the center of the dough. Fold the dough up around the cheese and roll in the breadcrumsb.

Deep fry for 8 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden brown. Drain on towels and sprinkle with kosher salt. Serve warm.

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