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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Honey Wheat Bread

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

This week, I find myself baking my own loaves of bread from scratch. Luckily, I also have a pretty well-stocked pantry and I have been wanting to perfect my bread making skills so it was nice to try out this bread. In terms of texture, I am not sure I got it exactly right. It was dense, but not heavy feeling once I ate it and the honey gave it a wonderful flavor, but I am just not sure it rose as much as it should have. Also, I took the lazy person option and let my stand mixer do the kneading instead of releasing my frustrations into the loaf of bread. Either way, it was still delicious (which in the end, isn't that the point), and it made a fabulous sandwich that I will tell you more about later.

Honey Wheat Bread
(Adapted from All Recipes)

Makes 1 loaf

1 cup warm water (110 degrees Farenheit/45 degrees Celsius)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add honey, and stir well. Mix in whole wheat flour, salt, and vegetable oil. Work all-purpose flour in gradually. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for at least 10 to 15 minutes (I used a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook). When dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a well oiled bowl. Turn it several times in the bowl to coat the surface of the dough, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Punch down the dough. Shape into a loaf, and place into a well greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Allow to rise until dough is 1 to 1 1/2 inches above pans.

Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chocolate Cinnamon Gelato

Chocolate Cinnamon Gelato

Lately, so many of my posts come from inspiration I see from other food bloggers. Like this gelato that I spotted on Delectable Deliciousness. It's been a while since I gave my ice cream maker a workout and since I absolutely adore the combination of chocolate and cinnamon (see here, and here), I thought I would give it a whirl. I had just enough whole milk leftover from the hot toddy cake to make this so, like Jayme, I replaced the cream with the milk. I also left out the toffee bits since I didn't have them, but I just found these mini peanut butter cups at TJs that I ended up enjoying with a bit of the gelato later. So good. Is it just me or is food in mini form better? Anyway, I loooooved this gelato. It's rich without feeling heavy and the balance of chocolate and cinnamon is perfect. If you let the gelato freeze overnight, it gets a bit hard so before you want to eat it, I suggest letting it sit out for 10-15 minutes at room temperature before serving.


Chocolate-Cinnamon Gelato
(Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2006)

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk, divided into 1/4 cup 1 3/4 cups, and 1/2 cup
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup coarsely chopped toffee bits/candy bar pieces (optional)

Whisk sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt in heavy medium saucepan until blended. Gradually add 1/4 cup milk, whisking until cornstarch is dissolved. Whisk in 1 3/4 cups milk. Whisk over medium-high heat until mixture thickens and comes to boil, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook 1 minute longer, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat; add chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until melted and smooth.

Transfer gelato base to medium bowl. Mix in the last 1/2 cup milk . Place bowl over large bowl filled with ice and water and cool, stirring often, about 30 minutes.

Process gelato base in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions, adding toffee (if using) during last minute of churning. Transfer to container; cover. Freeze at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pork Souvlaki

Pork Souvlaki

Ever since I made that shrimp saganaki a couple of weeks ago, I have been thinking about more Greek food. Souvlaki and gyros were some of my favorite things we ate in Greece (especially after a night of drinking and dancing), but I haven't had it too many times here in the US and I have certainly never made it before. This recipe for pork souvlaki is really good and I think the marinade would work well with chicken or lamb as well. I let my meat marinate for 24 hours so the flavors went all through it. Of course since I am a garlic fiend, I kicked up the amount of garlic, but if you have someone to kiss, you may want to reduce the amount if you try it yourself. I used whole wheat pitas to make it a little healthier and grilling them in the pan after the souvlaki gave them a nice texture and flavor. I was a little lazy about taking the cover off my outdoor grill so I made these on the grill pan and was pleased with the grill marks and flavor.


Pork Souvlaki

Pork Souvlaki
(Adapted from Serious Eats)

Makes 8 skewers (2 servings)

For the marinade
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Greek oregano
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 pound pork tenderloin
Tzatziki
Pocketless pitas or flatbread

Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl. Place pork cubes in a plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and toss to coat pork evenly with the marinade, then open the bag and reseal, removing as much air as possible. Place the pork in the refrigerator for at least two hours to overnight.

Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. While the grill is heating, thread the pork cubes onto the skewers.

Grill the pork skewers until they browned on all sides and cooked through, about 8 minutes, turning once during cooking. Remove the skewers to a plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes. While the pork rests, grill the pita until lightly browned on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Remove the pita from the grill and served topped with the pork and tzatziki.

So as I briefly mentioned the other day, my friends and I made our way to UCLA to go see Giada at the Festival of Books (we just missed the hotness of Curtis Stone). Barbara Fairchild of Bon Appetit interviewed Giada about her inspiration, influences, and thoughts about Italian cooking. In all honesty, it was a bit boring especially if you have ever caught her "Chefography" on FN, but it was really nice to be outside in the sun forgetting about my recent troubles. Afterwords there was a meet and greet where people could get copies of her new book autographed. We opted to skip the long ass line for that. Here are a couple of pics from the event.

Giada and Barbara Fairchild

Giada and Barbara Fairchild

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Bakers April Challenge: Cheesecake

Lemon Cheesecake Cupcakes

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

The thing I enjoyed most about this April challenge was the freedom we were given in creating a cheesecake of our liking. I made these cheesecake cupcakes for our Easter brunch. Originally, I was going to do a red velvet cheesecake since our brunch had a Louisiana/Southern theme, but then I saw a recipe for cheesecake cupcakes topped with lemon curd so I decided to use the rest of my Meyer lemon curd and make lemon cheesecakes instead. I made very few changes to the recipe. I left out the vanilla in the crust and instead of using lemon juice in the cheese mixture, I used a few teaspoons of zest from the large batch of lemons that Raulito gave me a while ago. Also, instead of cream, I used a bit of sour cream and no vanilla. Making the cheesecake was really easy. I pressed the crust into the wrappers in the muffin tin, filled with the batter and baked. This was a straightforward challenge that I really enjoyed and I am pretty sure my friends enjoyed the results. Making little cheesecakes like this was a great way to enjoy cheesecake without too much guilt. The original recipe can be found on Jenny's site. The other Daring Bakers got really creative with their flavor combinations. Visit the blogroll to check them out!

Lemon Cheesecake Cupcakes
(Couldn't decide which plate I liked better, lol)

PS, Didn't meet Curtis Stone yesterday (unfortch), but Giada was nice. More on that tomorrow.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Vodka Rosemary Lemonade Fizz

Rosemary Vodka Lemonade Fizz

When life gives you lemons...make vodka rosemary lemonade fizz. Since this past week was pretty crappy, I knew I wanted to have a nice relaxing weekend. I still have a surplus of lemons from my favorite Mexican and when I saw this post on TasteSpotting the other day, I knew I would have to make it while sitting outside and enjoying the beautiful sunshine. Unfortunately, my apartment doesn't get a lot of light and it was rather windy and cool yesterday, but nevertheless it was a beautiful day and this cocktail is amazing. Remember back when I made the lemon-rosemary sorbet? Well maybe you don't, but this recipe is basically that in a drink form. So refreshing and perfect for warm weather and even though it has cooled down considerably from the unbearable heat last weekend, it was perfect for my Saturday out on my patio with Us Weekly (and of course my new Gourmet and Saveur) and some tunes.

I'm off to the farmers market and then the LA Times Festival of Books so Raul can stalk Giada and I can hopefully stalk Curtis Stone. Enjoy your Sunday!

Rosemary Vodka Lemonade Fizz

Vodka Rosemary Lemonade Fizz
(From Gourmet, May 2009)

Makes 8 servings

1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar (I used a little less than 1 cup)
2 (8-inch) rosemary sprigs, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup (or more, to taste) vodka
Chilled club soda or seltzer

Bring lemon juice, sugar, and rosemary to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Discard rosemary sprigs.

Fill glass halfway with ice. Pour about 2-3 tablespoons of lemon syrup and add 1-2 tablespoons vodka. Top with selzter and stir. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.

Rosemary Vodka Lemonade Fizz

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Roasted Beet Salad

Roasted Beet Salad

Early last week I received an email from my old boss asking me when we were going to open our restaurant. Apparently he had just discovered my blog and I guess he liked it :) He immediately sent me his recipe for roasted beets and I was intrigued. I had never cooked with beets before. Beets are one of those vegetables that I had managed to avoid. Not because I thought I wouldn't like them, but I just didn't know a lot about how to prepare them. I had always equated beets with those kind of nasty looking things in a can that sort of resemble that cranberry sludge that people serve at Thanksgiving. However, armed with this recipe I ventured out in the hot, hot heat last Sunday to get beets at the farmers market. Luckily the weather has cooled down by 30 degrees over the last couple of days so I was able to turn on my oven the other night to make this. The possibilities are endless when it comes with what to pair the beets with. Gregg's suggestions included lentils, feta, blue cheese, walnuts, chopped endive, etc. I decided to go with some feta and a few roasted pistachios. I have probably mentioned this a million times, but I am obsessed with this mild feta I get from the farmers market. It was a great pairing with the sweet beets and salty pistachios.


Roasted Beet Salad
(Courtesy of Gregg aka one of the most talented agent/chefs in Los Angeles*)

2 bunches beets (I used a mix of red and golden), washed with the tops cut off
Canola oil
Kosher salt
Crumbled feta cheese
Roasted pistachios

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Drizzle the beets with canola oil and double wrap with foil.

Roast 75 minutes for medium beets...maybe longer for larger beets. When done open carefully, being careful of steam. If a knife goes through smoothly, the beets are done.

When the beets have cooled, peel off skin, slice, put in bowl with more drizzled canola oil and kosher salt.

*His words not mine

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Asparagus wtih Blood Oranges

Asparagus with Blood Oranges

For the last few months I have been receiving Saveur courtesy of the Foodie Blogroll and it has quickly become one of my favorite food magazines. I love everything about it from the pictures, to the writing and of course the tasty recipes. There are also so many helpful tips on food preparation. I can't believe I didn't discover this magazine earlier. In one of the recent issues, this recipe jumped out at me. The original recipe caled for navel oranges, but since I am having a love affair with blood oranges lately, I decided to use them here. The dressing was the right balance of sweet and tart with the asparagus and the orange segments added a nice dimension as well. It's really easy and fast for dinner, especially if you're not very hungry like I was last night.


Asparagus with Blood Oranges
(Adapted from Saveur, April 2009)

Makes 1-2 servings

1 blood orange
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 scallion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 stalks green asparagus

Zest the orange; set zest aside. Slice off the ends of the orange. Set an orange on end; with a small knife, slice off and discard the peel and the white pith. Holding the orange in your hand, use a knife to cut the orange segments away from their membranes. Place segments in a bowl and set aside. Over a separate bowl, squeeze the remaining orange pulp to extract any remaining juice. Whisk 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, lemon juice, oregano, and scallion into orange juice and season with salt and pepper; set dressing aside.

Cut off about 1" from the tough end of the asparagus and transfer asparagus to a large microwavable baking dish. Sprinkle asparagus with reserved orange zest and drizzle with remaining oil and 2 tablespoons water. Microwave on high for about 2 minutes, rotating the dish if necessary until asparagus is just tender. Drain off cooking liquid. Toss asparagus with reserved citrus dressing and season with salt. Top with orange segments. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Thyme Vinaigrette

Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Thyme Vinaigrette

I know you have heard me say this a lot over the past couple of days, but it's been hot, ya'll. Seriously. So hot that Diana didn't even feel like blogging because who really feels like eating anything but frozen goods when it's 100 degrees out? The other night when I got home, I wanted to do nothing more than crash in the comfort of my air conditioned apartment, but unfortunately I had a mountain of laundry waiting for me. My magic fairy had forgotten to take care of it while I spent the previous day cooling off on the beach so I can tell you it was a rockin' Monday night. Luckily, there was a new episode of Gossip Girl to keep me entertained in between. Since I am not a fan of starving myself ever, I needed something easy for dinner that night. There was no way I was going to stand over a stove waiting for something to cook so I made this salad. The original recipe calls for infusing the olive oil with the thyme, but that required stove time and I was not in the mood. I opted for just whisking the ingredients together and hoping for the best. Luckily, my gamble paid off. As I so recently discovered, strawberries and thyme go very well together and with the cool spinach it was a perfect no-cook dinner. The balsamic and Dijon in the dressing gave it a bit of tang so this was in no way a boring salad. The dressing recipe makes more than you will need for a serving of one, so luckily I was able to enjoy another salad for lunch yesterday.

We're finally going to get some relief from the heat. Good thing too because I was about to pack my bags and move to Alaska (or somewhere less hot...). Happy Earth Day!



Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Thyme Vinaigrette
(Adapted from the Los Angeles Times)

Makes 2-3 servings

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 small shallot, finely minced
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1-2 large handfuls baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
Most of a pint of strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced

In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, thyme, Dijon and balsamic vinegar. Stir in the shallots and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the spinach among plates and top with sliced strawberries. Spoon the dressing over each plate.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring Cianfotta

Spring Cianfotta

Looking for springtime in a bowl? Ok, well maybe you're not, but if for some reason you are, the search is over. For a while now, I have been receiving daily emails from a fabulous website called Tasting Table. Not only do they have wonderful restaurant recommendations and inside tips, but very often they publish recipes from amazing restaurants in Los Angeles. That is how I have the tuna tartare recipe from my dear Chaya, the dill dressing recipe from my new fave Tender Greens and now this recipe for spring cianfotta. If you listen to KCRW and Good Food with Evan Kleiman, or if you have been to her restaurant, Angeli Caffe, you know how amazing she is in the food world. I was so excited to see this recipe pop up in my inbox a few weeks ago and even more excited to see all the ingredients at the farmers market the other day. With the insane hot weather we have been having, this is exactly the kind of food I am in the mood for. Nothing too heavy and lots of fresh bright flavors. Look at the colors here. So gorgeous. Since I like really crisp vegetables, I didn't cook them for as long as the original recipe called for. I also greatly reduced the amount of olive oil. The best part is that this is just as good hot as it is cold. Given the sweltering temps yesterday (100 degrees!), I was in no mood to eat hot food so I had this as a nice cool lunch and it was fantastic!

Spring Cianfotta
(From Angeli Caffe's Evan Kleiman)

Makes about 3 servings as a side dish or 1 large serving as a main dish

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
1 stalk green garlic (or 2 garlic cloves), peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 bunch thin asparagus, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 pound sugar snap peas, stem end and string removed; pods sliced vertically to expose peas
15 spearmint leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper

In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks and cook over medium-high heat until soft. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.

Turn the heat to high and add the asparagus, sugar snap peas and spearmint. Cook the vegetables, stirring frequently, until slightly softer than al dente, about 4 to 7 minutes; longer for softer vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Egg Tart

Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Egg Tart

Well, here we are at another Monday. Where did the weekend go? Yesterday was a fabulous day at the beach, I didn't want it to end. Well as I mentioned the other day, I broke the cleanse. After barely three days! I have no will power. I wasn't sure what I was going to have for my first carb-fueled meal, but I had a little bit of puff pastry and a little bit of prosciutto in my freezer (a few things, I wasn't able to use up before I started the cleanse). I actually have quite a few things in my freezer. While I am not an actual participant, I am definitely following along in The Kitchn's Kitchen Cure challenge to get your kitchen in shape. I was partially inspired by the pizza I did a little while ago, the tart I made last week, and by this other tart I found on a random search at TasteSpotting. I seem to have a big F for FAIL over my head when cracking eggs onto pizzas and tarts, but that doesn't mean this wasn't good. The flavors worked well together and it was quick and easy for a Friday night dinner since the longest part of making this recipe, besides the baking, was from rolling out the dough. You just really can't go wrong with prosciutto, cheese, and eggs.

It's going to be 97 degrees today. Wonder if I can skip work and go back to the beach!

Prosicutto, Mozzarella, and Egg Tart

Makes 2 servings

2 rounds puff pastry, rolled out to about 6 inches in diameter
2-3 slices of prosciutto
Mozzarella cheese
1-2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place each puff pastry round on the parchment. Score each shell with a one inch border, being careful not to puncture the dough. Prick the inside with a fork all around.

Top each pastry with the mozzarella, and then line the mozzarella with overlapping slices of prosciutto. Bake 10-15 minutes until the cheese has melted and the prosciutto is crispy. Place the baking sheet on a level surface and carefully crack the egg in the middle of the pastry. Bake for 7-10 more minutes until the egg whites have set and the pastry is golden. Top with the green onions and serve immediately.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hot Toddy Pudding Cake

Hot Toddy Pudding Cake

This dessert is weeks in the making. I've dreamed about it. I've emailed my friends about it, I have even Twittered about it. Finally I decided to stop torturing others with my "I really want to make this" comments and just finally make it. All I really had to do was pop in to TJs to get the scotch and milk. Everything else was already waiting for me at home. I made this dessert the other night as my way of breaking the "cleanse". I am so glad I finally did. I was expecting something similar to what I thought the brownie pudding would end up being in that I was expecting something thick and rich, but I was totally wrong. Since this was one of the few times I made a recipe to the letter, it ended up turning out exactly as described. The cake separates into two layers with a nice lemony custard on the bottom and one of the lightest cakes you have ever had on top. It's unbelievable how light the top is. Lighter than angel food cake light. The taste? Lemony and boozy and absolutely divine. In Gourmet, they state the scotch is optional, but in my opinion, it isn't a hot toddy cake without the scotch and the scotch kind of makes the cake. Since, I have never bought scotch in my life, I went with an inexpensive brand from TJs which was good, but I can see how a good scotch would be fantastic in this recipe. I say definitely splurge on the scotch because chances are you already have everything else to make this recipe so really this is an inexpensive dessert.

How's your weekend going? I am off to the farmers market and then the beach!!

Hot Toddy Pudding Cake


Hot Toddy Pudding Cake
(From Gourmet, April 2009)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Scotch (NOT optional)
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons mild honey
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature 30 minutes
1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in middle. Butter a 1 1/2-qt shallow baking dish (I used a 8x8, 2 quart dish).

Whisk together flour and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together milk, lemon juice, Scotch (if using), butter, honey, zest, and yolks, then stir into flour mixture.

Beat whites with an electric mixer at medium speed until frothy. Increase speed to medium-high and add sugar, 1 Tbsp at a time, beating until whites just hold stiff peaks.

Stir about one third of whites into flour mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Pour batter into baking dish and bake in a water bath until puffed and golden-brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Serve warm.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Fat Flush Egg Salad

Fat Flush Egg Salad

Ok guys, here's the last post of the Fat Flush because today is my last day doing it! I know ya'll don't come here for bland cleanse food so I promise to have some treat for you really soon. However, this salad was actually not bland at all. It is actually what helped me get through the day yesterday! The original recipe calls for the egg salad to be stuffed into a tomato which I am sure would have been very cute, but I only had the little tomatoes and as I have already blown most of my recent paycheck at TJs, I decided to make do with what I had. Besides, the recipe said to serve the tomato and egg with leafy greens. I'm pretty sure I am not supposed to have Dijon on the flush, but to hell with it. It definitely helped kick up the flavor and surprisingly, the raw garlic was not overwhelming. This is totally something I would eat regardless of the cleanse. Thanks for baring with me and for all your words of encouragement for doing this. It's just not for me, but I am glad I tried it for at least a little bit.

It's gonna be hot, hot, hot here in LA this weekend. I hope you enjoy yours, wherever you are.



Egg Salad on Spinach
(Adapted from The Fat Flush Plan)


2 eggs, hard-boiled
1 1/2 teaspoons flaxseed oil
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 scallion, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of salt
2 hanfuls baby spinach
Handful of grape tomatoes, halved

Dressing
1 1/2 teaspoons flaxseed oil
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Mix oil, vinegar, mustard, scallions, garlic, salt and cayenne with the eggs. Toss the spinach and tomatoes with the dressing and serve the egg salad over the spinach.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fat Flush Stir-fry

Fat Flush Stirfry

So day 1 of the fat flush is done. In all honesty, I am not sure I am going to make it a week, much less three days. I have mentioned before that I don't really believe in diets, so you may be wondering why I was willing to put myself through this cleanse. It's just to kind of jump start my system and get out the toxins, but all the restrictions are already kind of bugging me. I am much more a fan of moderation, so that is probably what I will switch back to before today is over. However, I did want you to know that I have been eating actual food including dishes like this stir fry. One of the key points of this flush is to use little to no salt. Instead, you're supposed to use other spices (but only certain ones) to enhance the flavor of the food. In this stir fry, the flavor comes from ginger and cayenne. Since the FM was closed over the weekend, I was a little delayed in getting my vegetables so I just used what I had around. This is actually not a bad tasting dish despite its bland appearance. The ginger and cayenne definitely liven it up and the crisp vegetables are definitely the way I prefer to eat vegetables. Thanks to everyone for all the support with this. Your words of encouragement (and one "raw" cookie and a handful of peanuts), definitely helped me get through the day!

Basic Stir-fry
(Adapted from The Fat Flush Plan)

2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
8 ounces chicken (you can also use shrimp, lamb, or beef)
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon ginger
Pinch cayenne

Heat broth in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the protein and cook until almost done. Add veggies and seasonings, cooking until tender.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Shrimp Saganaki

Shrimp Saganaki

I know I have mentioned this before, but about two years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Greece to see two great friends get married. It was a perfect week filled with a LOT of food and a LOT of wine. One of the dishes that I remembered loving was shrimp saganaki so I am so glad I finally got to try making it on my own. It's certainly not the most authentic recipe for shrimp saganaki, but it's good. Also, it's really fast. Make sure you have tons of bread. My tomatoes didn't create a whole lot of juice, but there is still a lot of delicious-ness to soak up with the bread.

So today is Day 1 of my cleanse. Tomorrow, I will start sharing with you the food I get to eat while doing it. Wish me luck, but I don't have much confidence I will last longer than a day. Happy hump day/tax day! (yeah right)

Shrimp Saganaki
(Adapted from Food & Wine, March 2009)

Makes 2-3 servings

2 teaspoons each of extra-virgin olive oil and canola oil
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Salt
Crushed red pepper
1/2 pound shelled and deveined large shrimp, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 ounces Greek feta cheese, crumbled
Crusty bread, for serving

In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and crushed red pepper and cook until softened, crushing them with the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and olives and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Stir in the dill and half of the feta and cook just until the feta is hot, about 1 minute. Transfer to shallow bowls, sprinkle with the remaining feta and serve with crusty bread.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kitchen Clearing Calzones

Kitchen Clearing Calzone

Last week I was looking through my freezer and refrigerator at things I needed to use up. I am supposedly about to start a cleanse (I keep pushing the date back) and also, with summer approaching, I want to make some room in my freezer for the most excellent produce of the year. I found a few balls of pizza dough so I thawed one out. I wasn't really sure what I was going to do with it, but I noticed that a bunch of people in the food blogosphere last week made calzones and they sounded so good, that I wanted to make one too. I found a couple of links of some spicy chicken sausage from the farmers market and I had some leftover spinach and most of an onion. I used a hodge-podge of leftover cheeses to use up what I had on hand. I made sure to pile the filling high because as suspected, it cooks down a bit in the oven. While this is an easy recipe, it took some time since I had to let the sausage mixture cool. I think it is more than acceptable to make that mixture in advance so you have it ready for a weeknight meal. The calzones were so good. The spicy sausage was such a nice contrast to the sweet onion and the roasted garlic tomato sauce (from a jar) provided so much flavor as well. Even though I used a mix of cheeses, there wasn't too much on each calzone so I didn't feel weighed down after eating one. I don't know about you, but I think pizza (and now calzones) are a perfect food for a movie night. I suggest you try it!

Kitchen Clearing Calzones

Kitchen Clearing Calzones
(By Esi)

1 ball rosemary whole-wheat pizza dough at room temperature
1 small red onion, diced
1-2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 spicy chicken sausage links, split open and crumbled
6 tablespoons roasted garlic tomato sauce (or your favorite tomato sauce)
Shredded cheese (I used a combination of mozzarella, 3-cheese, and Gruyere)
Baby spinach leaves

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

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook until the onions have softened about 5-7 minutes. Add the sausage and cook through. Stir in the tomato sauce until it has warmed through. Set the mixture aside to cool.

Split the dough into two small rounds Roll each round to about 6 inches in diameter. Top half of each round with a few spinach leaves and then a few heaping spoonfuls of the sausage mixture. Top with cheese and fold the dough over and cinch to close.

Brush the top of each calzone with a bit of olive oil and make a few slits so that steam can escape. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Sear-Roasted Halibut with Blood Orange Salsa

Halibut with Blood Orange Salsa

Aaand, we're back to the working week. Did you all have a good Easter and/or long weekend? Mine was nice and relaxing with tons of food and the arrival of my "nephew". Our southern themed Easter brunch was fantastic with amazing food and I may have indulged in one too many mint juleps (thanks JenFinn!). The one disappointment of the weekend was that my farmers market was closed yesterday. So annoying. No notice at all!! Anyway, I made this quick recipe for dinner last week so luckily I had something to share with you. Since I got two halibut steaks at the farmers (back when it was open), and I had some blood oranges laying around, this was super easy. I made the salsa the night before so the flavors had plenty of time to come together. It was so delicious and rich without being heavy. Once again, the quick cook of the halibut left me with a fish that was nicely cooked and buttery with a nice sear. I loved the tart and sweet blood orange salsa, which as you can see from the picture, I used liberally on my fish. It was a great combination. If you think you don't like fish, I really encourage you to try halibut because it is one of the least fishy fishes and has a nice flavor and texture. Dishes like these are an excellent and easy preparation that you can make any day of the week.


Sear-Roasted Halibut with Blood Orange Salsa
(Adapted from Fine Cooking)

For the salsa:
3 small blood oranges, cut into segments, with half of the segments juiced
1 tablespoon minced red onion
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the halibut
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 skinless halibut fillets
Olive oil

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F.

Make the salsa:
In a small saucepan, boil the orange juice over medium heat until reduced to 1 tablespoon, let cook

In a medium bowl, combine the reduced orange juice, remaining orange segments, onion, and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the halibut:
In a small bowl, mix the thyme, 1/2 tsp. salt and a pinch of pepper. Rub the mixture all over the halibut. Heat some oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot, arrange the fillet in the pan. Sear for about 2 minutes without moving; then use a thin slotted metal spatula to lift a piece of fish and check the color. When the fillets are nicely browned, flip them and put the pan in the oven.

Roast until the halibut is just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the halibut to a serving plate. Spoon some of the salsa over the halibut.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Smoked Salmon and Poached Egg Salad

Smoked Salmon and Poached Egg Salad

Yesterday I had a lovely day off. I did some things around the house and then I met up with JenFinn for lunch. I am almost embarrassed to admit this, but my lunch consisted of a brownie with espresso ice cream and a blackberry mojito. I know, super healthy, but there was a reason for that...more on that later. After a while, I was pretty hungry, but wanted something on the lighter side. Luckily, I had this recipe on my plan for the week. This was only my second time poaching an egg. I still need to practice those skills, but I think it came out alright. This is such a quick and refreshing recipe. The salty smoky salmon was perfect with the lemon dressing and peppery arugula. The egg on top made it feel like more of a meal and it was exactly what I needed to get through the night and await the arrival of my friend's first baby! He arrived very early this morning and I am so excited to go meet him. Have a fantastic Saturday and if you celebrate it, Happy Easter!

Smoked Salmon and Poached Egg Salad
(Adapted from Junglefrog Cooking)

Makes 1 serving

1-2 handfuls arugula
Smoked salmon, torn into pieces
1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, poached

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Toss the arugula with the dressing.

Arrange the salad on a plate. Top with a few pieces of salmon and top the salad with the egg. Lightly season the egg with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Asian Pork Tenderloin

Asian Pork Tenderloin

But Esi, didn't you just recently do an Asian pork recipe? Why yes, yes I did, but when you find a good recipe and you have all the ingredients, it somehow pushes it's way right to the top of your "to-make" recipes list. So a couple of days ago, I set out to make this. To make my life easier, I prepped the marinade in the morning. It only takes a few minutes. I somehow forgot the ginger even though I had some in my freezer. It was not a huge difference, but I definitely noticed it missing in the end product. No matter, it was still excellent without. The flavors really balance each other out. There is saltiness from the soy, a nice hint of spice from the chili sauce, and a mellow sweetness from the sugar. The rice was the perfect accompaniment for all the drippings even though I had planned on doing some sesame noodles. Since most of the prep time comes from marinating the pork, you can easily throw this dish together when you are done with your working day. I kind of wasn't paying attention to my clock and overcooked the pork by about five minutes. It was still good, just a little tough. Note to self, don't turn away from the clock!!


Asian Pork Tenderloin
(Adapted from For the Love of Cooking)

1/3 cup of low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspooon hot chili sauce (I used chili-garlic sauced)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 green onions, sliced
7 ounces pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat
Canola oil
Rice or noodles for serving (optional)

Combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, chili sauce, garlic, and most of the green onions in a large zip lock bag, then add the pork. Seal and marinate in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours, turning the bag occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat some oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Remove pork from bag, reserving marinade. Add pork to pan, cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Place pan in oven, and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 155-160 degrees (medium) or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

Bring reserved marinade to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Cut pork into 1/4 inch thick slices and drizzle with sauce and the remaining green onions.

Serve over rice or noodles

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Springtime Carbonara

Springtime Carbonara

Here we have yet another recipe with one of my favorite springtime ingredients...asparagus! It also has another great spring ingredient peas, but since my small farmers market seems to be lacking in fresh peas, I had to go with frozen. I hope to get to the bigger market soon so I can have a lovely afternoon sitting outside shelling peas. You think I'm joking? Last week and this week I am cooking with things in my fridge, freezer, and pantry in preparation for a cleansing week next week so I had to use some bacon I had in my freezer. I still have more bacon in the freezer, but I am hoping the fact that I actually have to wait for it to thaw out won't be too much of a temptation. I had never made a carbonara before this, but it was quite easy and I hope to do it again. I had wanted to use whole wheat spaghetti, but I only had a little bit left and not enough for the recipe, so I used the rest of some leftover linguine. I must say, the whole kitchen cleaning thing is going quite well and leaving lots of room for my cleansing stuff. Watch me last all of a day doing it. Anyway, this is a wonderful and flavorful pasta dish. The salty Parmesan and bacon where perfect with the sweet peas and the sauce was nice and creamy.

It's Thursday, but really my Friday. Do the rest of you have a short week? Do you have plans for Easter? My friends and I are doing a New Orleans/Southern themed brunch and I am super deluxe excited. I am sure I will be sharing recipes very soon!


Springtime Carbonara
(Adapted from the New York Times)

Makes 2-3 servings

2 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
8 ounces linguine
2 ounces asparagus, sliced 1-inch thick (1/2 cup)
5 fresh basil leaves, sliced thin
1 egg, whisked, at room temperature
1 tablespoon whole milk
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish (2 ounces)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add the bacon, cooking for about 5 minutes, until crispy. Transfer the cooked bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel and set aside. Drain most of the fat from the pan. Return the pan with the rendered fat to the stove top for future use.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 6-7 minutes, or until al dente.

While the pasta cooks, heat the bacon fat in the sauté pan over medium heat. Add the peas and asparagus, and sauté for about 2-5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the basil, and set aside.

Whisk together the eggs and milk. Have the egg mixture, vegetables and bacon ready to toss with very hot pasta.

Quickly drain the pasta and transfer immediately to a large serving bowl. Pour the eggs and cheese on top of the pasta, and toss vigorously to coat the strands and gently cook the eggs, forming a creamy sauce. Add the vegetables and bacon, and continue tossing to incorporate them. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Portion the spaghetti on plates and ladle any sauce left in the bowl over each serving. Grate additional cheese on top if you like.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Halibut with Pico de Gallo

Halibut with Pico de Gallo

One of the things that is not so cool about going away...even for a couple of days is missing the farmers market. It's not just because I don't get to flirt with salad boy, but also because I miss out on picking my own stuff to showcase over the week. However, I have some nice friends who in my absence will pick out the things I ask so that I can continue to bring you guys fresh recipes over the week. Unfortunately, I had put this recipe in my meal plan, but the tomatoes I was seeking were not to be found so I went with some on the vine tomatoes from the regular grocery store which were not as vibrant as I would have liked. However, this is a stellar dish. I absolutely adore halibut. One of my most favorite meals ever was at Mix at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay in Vegas and it was a lovely buttery halibut in a sauce that literally just melted in my mouth. This meal was almost four years ago and I still think about it often. I picked up some halibut a couple weeks ago at the farmers market and it was just a matter of a quick thaw to make this simple and delicious recipe. The quick cook of the halibut made it have that buttery texture that I was craving and the fresh pico de gallo was the perfect accompaniment with a glass of cold white wine. Bonus points for this recipe not using a lot of fat despite being insanely delicious.



Halibut with Pico de Gallo
(Adapted from Serious Eats)

Makes 1 serving

1 halibut fillet, seasoned with salt and pepper
1-2 small tomatoes, chopped
1/4 medium onion, diced
1 small jalepeno, seeds removed and chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced
Juice from 1/2 lime
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tortilla chips for serving (optional)

Chop the tomatoes and onions and add to a bowl along with the cilantro and jalapeno, finely chopped. Add a pinch of salt, black pepper and the juice of one lime. Adjust for seasoning and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes, preferably longer for the flavors to marinate.

Heat a nonstick skillets over medium-high heat with 1-2 teaspoons olive oil. When the oil is almost smoking, lay the fillet in the oil to coat, then turn over to cook opposite side.

Cook, without touching, for one to two minutes per side, depending on thickness. Remove from the heat and plate, topping with the pico de gallo. Squeeze a little lime juice, crack fresh pepper, and serve.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Grilled Cheese with Bacon and a Fried Egg

Grilled Cheese with Bacon and a Fried Egg

So have you guys heard the news? My friend Kathy of Panini Happy is having a blog event devoted to grilled cheese month! I had actually planned on making something similar to this prior to learning that April is grilled cheese month, but once I heard about Kathy's event, it really lit a fire under me. I had planned on doing this with a different type of cheese, but the thoughtless a-holes at my new TJs ran out of that kind of cheese a few days ago, so I decided to go with a low fat smoked Gouda. Honestly, I have no good reason for going low fat with the cheese. I mean, just look at the rest of the ingredients in this sandwich. In order to use up the rest of the compound butter from my steak "frites", I decided to cook my sandwich in the leftover butter. This ended up being quite a good combination since the flavor of thyme was in not only in the butter, but in the tomatoes. I was worried about the flavors of the sandwich not being right together, but the smokiness of the bacon and the cheese worked nicely with the sweet tomatoes and the mellow spinach and egg and as I mentioned previously, cooking the sandwich in the herb butter worked perfectly well with the other flavors. Despite the rich ingredients, this sandwich did not make me feel weighed down and heavy. So this is my entry to Kathy's event for grilled cheese month. There are so many thousands of ways to jazz up a grilled cheese. How will you do yours?

Grilled Cheese with Bacon and a Fried Egg






Grilled Cheese with Bacon and a Fried Egg
(Liberally adapted from Thomas Keller via Food & Wine)

3 slices bacon, cooked and drained
Shredded smoked Gouda cheese
2 slices whole wheat bread
3-4 slow roasted tomato halves
Baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon parsley and thyme compound butter
1 large egg, lightly fried and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper

Top each half of bread with shredded cheese. Top one half with the bacon, tomato, spinach, and egg and then finish with the other half of bread.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and add the sandwich. Fry until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Chicken Satay Skewers

Snappy Chicken Satay

I'm making my way back from San Francisco. Hope you all had a nice weekend. The race went well and our team met and exceeded our goal of raising $10,000 for MMRF so thanks to all who supported our effort!! I didn't want to leave you guys starving so here's a little tasty something I cooked up last week. This is fabulously simple and perfect for any night of the week. Chicken satay is one of my favorite things to order when I get Thai food, but I have not tried making it myself. This isn't the most authentic recipe, but it's really good and perfect for when you want something quick and light for a weeknight. I let the chicken marinate for about 15 minutes which only enhanced the flavor and since I still haven't dusted off my outdoor grill, I did these inside on my grill pan. I personally didn't like the peanut sauce with just peanut butter and vinegar, so I added agave nectar until I got something I was happy with. It's all about adding and re-tasting for that one. This was perfect for me as a light dinner since I had a heavy lunch that day, but it would be just as great as an appetizer to your own takeout inspired menu.

Chicken Satay Skewers
(From Everyday Food as found on bloom.acious)

2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/4 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
Agave nectar to taste

Toss chicken with sesame oil, soy sauce, cilantro, garlic, and red pepper flakes in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper and thread each chunk onto skewers.

Heat grill to medium-high heat and spray with oil if needed, cook chicken for about 2-3 minutes per side.

For sauce blend peanut butter and vinegar, add agave nectar and water if necessary for desired flavor and consistency.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Brownie Pudding

Brownie Pudding

I have had some pretty insane chocolate cravings lately and rather than deny myself, I thought I would make a mini version of Ina's brownie pudding that I have been lusting after lately. Besides, I am about to put myself through a brief period of denial (more on that later), so I may as well splash out when I can, right? This dessert comes together quickly so it's just a matter of throwing it in the oven. I probably should have baked this for about 20-30 minutes less than I did (I blame the FN site, tells you an hour in one part in and 30 minutes in another). Instead of a pudding, I ended up with more of a brownie cake, but that's not to say it wasn't good. Unlike my DB challenge from a couple of months ago, this was a delicious rich chocolate dessert that went excellently with the smooth honey ice cream that I paired it with. Instead of baking this in a large pan, I used two 4.5 ounce ramekins to have a little individual dessert. As I said, I overbaked these so they came out of the ramekins quite easily, but they were still delicious. I definitely want to try making this again to get the pudding consistency that was intended, but if you are looking for an easy chocolate fix, look no further.

It's Friday, go out an enjoy the weekend. I am heading up to SF tomorrow morning and may not have time to visit/comment on your blogs, but I will be with you in spirit and back on Monday. If you want to contribute to my race (which is this Sunday), it's not to late...click this link. Have a fantastical weekend!

Brownie Pudding
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

Makes 2 servings

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 egg at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Ice cream for serving (optional, but recommended)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter or spray two 4.5-ounce ramekins. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.

When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, and the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for 20-30 minutes. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.

Allow to cool and serve with ice cream.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bacon and Tomato Tart

Bacon and Tomato Tart

Lately I have been making more of an effort to clean out my refrigerator and freezer. Summer is approaching quicker than I can shake my fist and I want to make room for some of its goodies. Remember those slow roasted tomatoes I made at the end of last summer? Well I still have a few of them lurking around in my freezer. I also had some puff pastry that I needed to use up. In my haste to make a recipe a while ago, I picked up a brand of puff pastry that didn't use all butter so I am trying to use it up before I switch to my brand that uses just butter. Fyi, in case you didn't know, there are some fancy brands that use just butter, but TJs makes a great puff pastry that is all butter as well and it is inexpensive. Anywho, back to the tart. I made it last night for an easy dinner, but can just as easily be made for a nice party or an appetizer for a dinner party. Even with forgetting to thaw my puff pastry earlier in the morning, I had this on the table relatively quick, just in time to watch Top Model...I mean, Damages. Oh, who am I kidding? I am so behind on Damages that I haven't even seen this current season yet and it just ended. No one tell me what happens. I will catch up, soon enough. I had to make some changes to the original recipe to use what I had on hand, but it was easy and really good. If you don't have slow roasted tomatoes laying around in your freezer, use fresh tomatoes..or even sun dried tomatoes would be good. If you like roasted red peppers, I am sure they would be great as well. I switched out the blue cheese for mozzarella I had left from pizza experiments and chives for parsley because I was too busy flirting with salad boy to remember to pick up fresh chives this past weekend at the FM. As always, I encourage you to play around with the flavors in this recipe. Maybe use some cheddar or Gruyere in place of the mozzarella or maybe another fresh herb instead of the parsley. That is what cooking is all about, isn't it?

Bacon and Tomato Tart
(Adapted from Salt and Chocolate)

Makes 2 6-inch tarts

2 puff pastry rounds, rolled out to about 6 inches in diameter
6 slow roasted tomato halves
2-4 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese
3 strips of bacon, chopped and cooked until crisp
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place each puff pastry round on the parchment. Top each pastry with the tomatoes, leaving about a 1/4-inch boarder around. Top the tomatoes with a bit of cheese and bake for 15 minutes or until the pastry and cheese are golden brown.

Top immediately with the bacon and parsley and serve warm.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lemony Asparagus Soup

Lemony Asparagus Soup

Lately I have been completely seduced with all the spring asparagus. Like strawberries, asparagus are another one of those things that are pretty much year round here in SoCal, but taste better in the spring. I found this soup and immediately added it to the meal plan. It's super healthy and light, but very tasty! It is very easy to make this recipe vegan by replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock. I actually would have done that myself, but I already had some open chicken stock. This soup is good hot or cold, but I preferred it hot. I may have used a bit more lemon juice than noted in the recipe below. On Friday nights, I'm not really in a measuring mood. I just want something good and fast and this recipe is both of those things!

Lemony Asparagus Soup
(Adapted from Food & Wine, April 2007)

10 ounces (1 small bunch) asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch pieces with a few 3-inch tips reserved
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
One 1-inch wide strip of lemon zest, plus 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest for garnish
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Boil all of the asparagus until bright green and barely tender, about 2-3 minutes. Drain and transfer to the ice water to cool, then drain again. Set most of the tips aside from the rest of the cut up pieces.

Wipe out the saucepan. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the sliced onion to the saucepan and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock and lemon zest strip, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the asparagus pieces and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Discard the lemon zest strip.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Return the soup to the saucepan and stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and reheat if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the asparagus tips and grated lemon zest. Serve hot or chilled.

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