Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sunny Anderson: Butterflied Cornish Hens with Sage Butter

Around this time of year you're getting really tired of turkey and ham.  Turkey and ham.  Turkey and ham.  But there's still one more celebration to go.  And burgers aren't on the menu.  So what do you do?  You reach for those tiny little chickens that make you feel special.  I mean, who doesn't feel special with their very own little hen sitting on their plate?  And even better if it's covered in bacon and butter, right?  Because I think you can gain a couple more pounds before tomorrow morning and the ugliness that is New Year's resolutions.

Butterflied Cornish Hens with Sage Butter
From Sunny Anderson

4 (1¾-pound) Cornish game hens, butterflied
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
5 to 7 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil, for sauteing
4 strips bacon, chopped

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place hens on a sheet tray fitted with a cooling rack in the refrigerator to dry skin out for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a small pan over medium heat, melt butter with sage, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Remove hens from refrigerator. Preheat 2 large sauté pans over medium heat, lightly coat with oil. Season hens with salt and pepper and sear, skin side down, in the pans. Sear until skin caramelizes and turns golden brown and crispy, about 7 to 10 minutes. Flip birds over, and baste with sage butter. Sprinkle tops with chopped bacon and place in preheated oven to finish cooking, 25 to 30 minutes, basting occasionally. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gourmet: Creamed Spinach

This may be my favorite side dish ever.  Ever.  This is everything that is beautiful about getting your greens, even though they're covered in cream.  And this spinach goes with just about any dish.  Steak?  Definitely.  Baked chicken?  Of course.  Fried fish?  Yep.  Chocolate cake?  Okay, maybe not everything, but pretty darn close.

Creamed Spinach
Adapted from Gourmet magazine, December 2004

2 (16-ounce) bags chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1¼ cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 small onion or large shallot, finely chopped
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
¼ cup grated Gruyère or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat milk and cream in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until warm. Meanwhile, cook onion in butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add warm milk mixture in a fast stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, and simmer, whisking, until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in nutmeg, spinach, and salt, white pepper, cayenne, and cheese and cook, stirring, until heated through.

Makes 10 servings

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wolfgang Puck: Strawberry Shortcake

I think I have discovered the pinnacle of strawberry shortcake recipes.  I know that's quite a statement, but this is quite a shortcake. The cake is buttery and flaky outside, with an incredibly tender middle.  The strawberries are elevated to boozy new heights.  And homemade whipped cream just makes everything better.  I could probably just eat this for the next week and be perfectly happy.  And yes, I know it's December.  Don't judge.

Strawberry Shortcake
From Wolfgang Puck

2¾ cups cake flour
¼ cup granulated sugar, plus additional to sprinkle on top
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 2 tablespoon pieces
1 cup heavy cream, plus additional to brush on top
2 pints fresh strawberries, stemmed
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons kirsch
½ teaspoon orange zest
½ cup sweetened whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, and salt and pulse 2 or 3 times. Add the chilled butter and process just until combined. With the motor running, pour the cream through the feed tube, stopping just before the dough forms a ball.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead, forming a smooth ball. Do not overwork. Roll out the dough into a round, ¾-inch thick. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out 8 circles. (Knead the scraps together and reroll as required.)

Arrange the 8 circles on the prepared baking tray, brush the tops with cream and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are golden and firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, rinse and drain the strawberries. Cut each berry into thick slices and toss with the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, kirsch, and orange zest, and gently mix. Set aside.

When ready to serve, split each shortcake in half and warm slightly. Top the bottom half with strawberries and cream. Then put the rounded top on the cake and top with additional berries and cream.

Makes 8 servings

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Bobby Flay: Coffee-Rubbed Steak

Bobby Flay is another one of those chefs who has never failed me.  Ever.  Each time I make one of his recipes, I get something super delicious.  Like this giant hunk of fabulous meat love.  I seriously could never be a committed vegetarian because of things like this.  And I'm okay with that.  Sear on, delicious cow.

Coffee-Rubbed Steak
Adapted from Bobby Flay

4 (1½-inch thick) filet mignon steaks (8 ounces each) or 2 pounds ribeye steaks (1-inch thick), at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
Spice Rub

Coat the steaks with the olive oil and sprinkle both sides of the steaks generously with Spice Rub.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Sear in a hot iron skillet until a crust has form, about 2 minutes on the first side, then flip the steaks and cook for another 2 minutes before transferring the pan in the oven. Cook until the thermometer registers 130-140°F for medium rare, about 3 to 5 more minutes.  Remove the steaks from the pan, cover, and let rest for five minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings

Spice Rub
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon finely ground espresso beans or instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
2 teaspoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon dried oregano
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon chile de árbol powder or cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Better Homes and Gardens: Mandarin Coconut Bowl (a.k.a. California Salad)

My dad has one mission for Thanksgiving.  Okay, one mission besides running to the store before they close to grab whatever ingredients are missing.  Hey, when three women are trying to bring a massive meal together, sometimes things get overlooked.  But the night before, his mission is to make this salad.  A very strange, very 70's concoction, but it's been part of my family's Thanksgiving ever since I can remember.  And who can argue with miniature marshmallows?

Mandarin Coconut Bowl (a.k.a. California Salad)
Adapted from the 1974 edition of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

2½ cups pineapple tidbits, drained
1 (11-ounce) can Mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 (3½-ounce) can flaked sweetened coconut
2 cups sour cream

Combine first five ingredients. Fold in sour cream and chill overnight. In desired, serve in lettuce cups.

Makes 8 servings

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Food 52: Roasted Radish and Potato Salad with Black Mustard and Cumin Seed

For some reason, I keep getting a ton of radishes in my CSA box.  I'm trying to figure out why that is exactly.  I don't really know that many people who eat radishes, so I'm not sure why the farmers decide to plant them in such large numbers.  Maybe I'm not aware of the secret radish society or something.  Anyway, I found a good use for my beautiful French breakfast radishes this time.  It's an Indian-inspired potato and radish salad.  If you can't find black mustard seeds, brown are definitely okay.

Roasted Radish and Potato Salad with Black Mustard and Cumin Seed
Adapted from Food 52

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1 large Yukon gold potato, cut into 1-inch cubes
8-10 French breakfast radishes, ends trimmed
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 tablespoons whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, salt, and sugar until solids dissolve. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine potato pieces with a glug or two of olive oil, a good sprinkling of sea salt, and a few grinds of black pepper, tossing evenly to coat. Roast potatoes in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the radishes into two or three pieces, depending on how big they are. Using the same bowl that you tossed the potatoes in, combine radishes with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper; mix well to evenly coat.

Once the potatoes have roasted for 10 minutes, using a wooden spatula or spoon, gently push potatoes around, being careful to keep skin intact (as best as possible). Push potatoes to one side of pan, adding radishes in a single layer to the other side. Continue to roast for another 10-12 minutes or until potatoes and radishes are tender, shaking pan midway through (at 10 minutes start checking to make sure radishes do not overcook).

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add black mustard seeds and whole cumin seeds and gently mix. Cook for about a minute, until fragrant, being mindful that black mustard seeds will start to pop. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

Remove pan from oven and allow vegetables to completely cool (making it easy to remove from pan without sticking – especially the potatoes). Transfer roasted radishes and potatoes to a bowl. Add yogurt, black mustard/cumin seed mixture, and green onions, folding with a spatula to combine. Add lemon juice mixture by the teaspoonful until you reach desired taste (one and a half teaspoons of lemon juice-salt-sugar mixture is a good starting point). Fold to combine. Cover mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to develop. Bring salad to room temperature before enjoying.

Makes 2 servings

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Home Cooking with Jean-Georges: Butternut Squash with Balsamic and Chile Panko Crumbs

Since butternut squash only entered my life about ten years ago, I don't have a ton of recipes to use the delicious roasted gourd.  Gotta fix that.  This one is a nice recipe from Jean-Georges Vongerichten (geez, is that a mouthful or what??) that I kinda doctored up my own way.

Butternut Squash with Balsamic and Chile Panko Crumbs

1 large butternut squash (about 2½ pounds)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup panko crumbs
1½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
¼ cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cut the squash in half and scoop the seeds in to a bowl.  Set the seeds aside.  Rub the squash with vegetable oil, and place on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down.  Bake until soft when pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.  Transfer the flesh to a large serving dish and mash with a fork into an even layer. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the squash along with the balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.

Remove and discard the strings of the squash seeds.  Heat 3 tablespoons of the squash seeds in a large skillet over medium-low heat until dry. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and a pinch of salt and toast, tossing occasionally. When the seeds begin to pop, partially cover the pan. Continue toasting until golden brown, about 3 minutes, then transfer to a plate.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat until melted, then toss in the panko. When well coated, stir in the thyme, chile flakes, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Toast, tossing occasionally until golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and toasted seeds. Spread the crumb mixture over the squash in an even layer and serve immediately.

Makes 8 servings

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Simply Recipes: Wild Mushroom Quiche

You know what I've never tried to make myself?  Quiche.  I have never made quiche.  It just always seemed so complicated.  And I've had some bad quiche in my days, so I didn't want mine to be a rubbery, tasteless pile of eggs like those other bad quiches.  This was a lot of quiche-related stress.  Luckily, I found a delicious quiche recipe for an eggy breakfast full of the my favorite thing: mushrooms.  Tons of mushrooms.  And it came out tasting fab-u-lous.

Note:  I used (from top right, moving clockwise) yellow oyster, shiitake, chanterelle, morel, and blue foot mushrooms.  But of course use whatever you can find at your local store.

Wild Mushroom Quiche
Adapted from Simply Recipes and Martha Stewart Living magazine, June 2002

Pâte Brisée
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1 pound assorted wild mushrooms, quartered or sliced
¾ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
Pinch nutmeg
6 ounces Gruyère or Comté cheese, grated

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Fit into a 10x1½-inch round cake pan or springform pan, pressing dough into corners. Transfer to the freezer and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the pastry with parchment paper, pressing into the corners and edges. Fill at least ⅔ with baking weights or dry beans. Bake first for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Carefully remove the parchment paper and weights. Poke the bottom of the pan with the tongs of a fork and return to the oven and bake an additional 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool while making filling.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring, until translucent but not brown, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms first release their liquid and then the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Place the cake pan on a baking sheet to catch any overflow. Sprinkle half the cheese evenly over the bottom of the crust. Spread the mushrooms over the cheese and then top with the remaining cheese. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, cream, and eggs. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Pour over cheese. Transfer pan to the oven, and bake until just set in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before slicing.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Pâte Brisée
1¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen, cut into ½-inch cubes
3 to 4 tablespoons water, ice cold

Place the flour, salt, and sugar into a food processor and pulse until well combined. Add half of the butter cubes and pulse 6 to 8 times. Then add the other half of the butter cubes and pulse 6 to 8 more times. The mixture should resemble coarse meal, with many butter pieces the size of peas.

Add a couple tablespoons of ice water to the food processor bowl and pulse a couple of times. Then add more ice water, slowly, about a tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the mixture just barely begins to clump together. If you pinch the crumbly dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If not, add some more water and pulse again.

Remove the crumbly mixture from the food processor and place on a very clean, smooth surface. Press the heel of your palm into the crumbly mixture, pressing down and mashing the mixture into the table top, 4 to 6 times. Use your hands to press the crumbly dough together and shape into a disk. Work the dough only enough to just bring the dough together. Do not over knead, or your dough will end up tough. Sprinkle the dough disk with a little flour on all sides. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When you are ready for the dough, remove the disk from the refrigerator and place on a clean, smooth, lightly floured surface. Let the dough sit for 5 to 10 minutes so that it will be easier to roll out.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Homesick Texan Cookbook: Seven-Chile Texas Chili

Want a project that will keep you entertained for most of the day?  I've got one for you.  Making Texas chili.  It only takes, oh, FIVE HOURS.  Not that bad.  And it's pretty darn spicy, so if you have issues with that, you might want to cut the cayenne and chiles de arbol way back.  But otherwise, this will put some hair on your chest.

Seven-Chile Texas Chili
Adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain

6 dried ancho chiles
2 dried pasilla chiles
2 dried guajillo chiles
2 dried chipotle chiles
4 dried chiles de arbol
4 pieces of bacon
4 pounds chuck roast, cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup brewed coffee
1 bottle of beer (preferably Corona or Dos Equis)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon grated Mexican hot chocolate (such as Abuelita tablets)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
4 dried pequin chiles
2 tablespoons masa harina
Grated Cheddar and chopped onions, for serving

Remove the seeds and stems from the dried chiles.  In a dry skillet heated on high, toast the ancho chiles, pasilla chiles, guajillo chiles, chipotle chiles, and chiles de arbol on each side for about 10 seconds or just until they start to puff.  Fill the skillet with enough water to cover chiles.  Leave the heat on until the water begins to boil and then turn off the heat and let the chiles soak until soft, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy pot such as a Dutch oven, fry the bacon on medium heat.  When it's done, remove from the pan and drain on a paper-towel-lined plate.  Leave the bacon grease in the pot, and on medium heat, cook the beef on each side until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  (You may have to do this in batches.)

Remove the browned beef from the pot.  Leaving the heat on, add the diced onions to the pot and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.  Add the beef back into the pot, crumble in the bacon, and add the coffee, beer, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cayenne, chocolate, 3 cups of water, and salt.  Turn the heat up to high.

While the pot is coming to a boil, make the chile puree.  Drain and rinse the chiles, then place them in a blender along with the pequin chiles (you don't need to presoak these little chiles) and add 1 cup of fresh water.  Puree until nice and smooth and then pour the chile puree into the pot.

When the chili begins to boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer, uncovered, for 5 hours, stirring occasionally.  Taste it once an hour and adjust seasonings.  If it starts to get too dry, add more water.  After 5 hours, scoop out ¼ cup of broth out of the pot and combine with the masa harina.  Pour the masa harina mixture into the pot and stir until the chili is thickened.  Let the chili simmer for another 30 minutes or so.  When done, serve with Cheddar and onions.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Note: If you can't find all of these chiles, just use the more readily available anchos and chipotles.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Homesick Texan Cookbook: Pork Chops with Salsa Verde Rice

This dish is like a cross between your mom's old-fashioned baked pork chops and your abuelita's fresh salsa.  It's tangy, but still hovers on this side of reminiscent.  You de-fang the jalapeño, but I threw some tequila in for the heck of it.  Like the best smash-ups, this pork is messy but delicious.

Pork Chops with Salsa Verde Rice
Adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain

½ pound tomatillos, husks removed, cut in half, or 1 (11-ounce) can of tomatillos, drained
¼ medium yellow onion, cut into slivers, divided
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup cilantro
1 jalapeño chile, seeds and stems removed, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons tequila
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 bone-in, thick-cut (porterhouse) pork chops (about ½ pound each and about 1 inch thick)
Salt and black pepper
½ cup white long-grain rice (such as Texmati), soaked in water for 30 minutes and then drained

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

In a blender, mix together the tomatillos, half the slivered onions, garlic, cilantro, jalapeño, cumin, chicken broth, tequila, and lime juice.  Add salt to taste.

In a large ovenproof skillet, preferably a cast-iron skillet, heat the oil on medium heat.  Lightly season the pork chops with salt and black pepper and then cook for 6 minutes, turning once.

Remove the skillet from heat.  On top of each chop, place 2 tablespoons of the soaked rice and the remaining onion slivers.  Pour the tomatillo salsa over the chops, cover the skillet tightly with foil, and bake for 1 hour.  Then remove the skillet from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.  Remove foil and serve chops with the rice and salsa.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Two Meatballs in the Italian Kitchen: Penne Pasticciate (Baked Penne with Radicchio and Sausage)

I've made this recipe before.  Well, not this recipe.  The original recipe.  And it was kinda wah...wah...wah.  Enough that it went in the trash, much to my dismay.  But I knew this "messy penne" could be so much more.  All it needed was...flavor.  How do so many people miss something as simple as flavor?  Meat + radicchio + milk ≠ delicious.  It = boring.  Add some garlic, basil, oregano, and parsley to that puppy, and now we're talking.

Penne Pasticciate (Baked Penne with Radicchio and Sausage)
Adapted from Two Meatballs in the Italian Kitchen by Pino Luongo and Mark Strausman

8 ounces sweet Italian sausage (about 2), removed from casings and crumbled
8 ounces hot Italian sausage (about 2), removed from casings and crumbled
1 tablespoon olive oil (if necessary)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small head radicchio, thinly sliced and coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons plus ¾ teaspoon sea salt, divided
1 pound penne rigate
1 cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup (3 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter an 8x12-inch baking dish.

Heat a 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add the sausage. Cook, breaking up the sausage into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the fat is rendered and the sausage has lost its pink color. If the sausage is pretty lean, add the olive oil to help it along.  When the sausage is cooked through, pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Add the garlic and radicchio, stir well, and cook, stirring until the radicchio is soft and well blended with the sausage, about 4 minutes. Season with basil, oregano, and ¼ teaspoon salt, and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, fill a 10-quart stockpot with 7 quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of salt. Add the pasta, stir, and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and add to the bowl with the sausage. Beat together the milk, cream, eggs, parsley, black pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt. Spread the pasta/sausage mixture evenly in the baking dish, and then pour the cream mixture over. Sprinkle the top with the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Transfer to the oven and bake until the top looks a bit crunchy and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 servings

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wolfgang Puck: Gulyás (Beef Goulash)

As a child, when I used to flick through my mother's recipe cards, I always stopped to look at the ones written in a strange handwriting.  The recipes were in metric units, and they were always something foreign-sounding.  Like Gulaschsuppe.  Or Apfelstrudel.  I didn't know it at the time, but they were written by my mother's best friend when she lived in Germany.  These items never appeared on our dinner table that I remember, but I always wondered what they tasted like.  Finally I made some goulash (although not with my mother's recipe card - I'm too lazy to translate metric), and I'm certainly glad I did.  This Hungarian stew has a beautiful depth of flavor and is true comfort food.

Gulyás (Beef Goulash)
From Wolfgang Puck

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon caraway seeds, toasted and ground
1½ tablespoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon hot paprika
2 tablespoons minced fresh marjoram leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 cups chicken stock
2½ pounds beef shank, cut into 2-inch cubes**
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions and sugar until caramelized. Add the garlic and caraway seed. Cook for 1 minute. Add the sweet and spicy paprika, marjoram, thyme, and bay leaf. Sauté another minute, until fragrant. Add the tomato paste. Deglaze with the vinegar and the stock and add the pieces of beef shank, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until very tender, about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally.

Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with spaetzle on the side.

Makes 4 servings

**Note: If you can get beef shank still on the bone, throw those bones in at the same time as the beef cubes.  The marrow from the bones will cook into the stew and make it even more delicious.  Just toss the used bones before serving.  I got 3 (1¼-pound) shank steaks on the bone, and it worked beautifully for this recipe.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Italian Easy: Recipes from the London River Cafe: Dried Porcini and Sage Tagliatelle

This dish is one of those dishes that makes you want to lick the bottom of your bowl like a slob.  And then when all of the creamy goodness in your bowl is gone, you want to lick your dining companion's dish, too.  But that would be...uncomfortable.  So you debate just how far you would go for more of the delicious goodness.  And then you come to a conclusion.  Who cares if your dining companion thinks you're crazy?

Dried Porcini and Sage Tagliatelle
From Italian Easy: Recipes from the London River Cafe by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers

16 ounces egg tagliatelle
1½ ounces dried porcini
8 sage leaves
2 garlic cloves
1 dried chile
1 lemon
2 ounces Parmesan
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons heavy cream

Soak the porcini in 1 cup of hot water for 20 minutes.

Peel and finely slice the garlic, chop the sage, and crumble the chile.  Finely grate the peel from ½ the lemon and squeeze all the juice.  Grate the Parmesan.

Drain the porcini, reserving the water.  Rinse the porcini and chop.  Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth.

Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan, and add the garlic, sage, and chile.  Color, then add the porcini.  Fry until soft, then add 4 tablespoons of the mushroom liquid and simmer until most of the juice has been absorbed.  Add the cream, lemon zest, and juice, and reduce until the sauce is creamy and thick.  Season.

Cook the tagliatelle in boiling salted water until al dente, then drain.  Add to the sauce, and turn over to coat each ribbon.  Serve with Parmesan.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kalachandji's: Yellow Mung Dal Soup

Tonight I went to an amazing little vegetarian restaurant that is nestled inside an Indian temple.  All of the food is Ayurvedic, which means no meat, fish, eggs, onion, or garlic.  But that doesn't mean it's tasteless.  The food is surprisingly good.  They even had something like looked like a quiche, but without eggs...I'm curious how they made it.  For dinner I had some soup, cabbage, beans, steamed vegetables, fritters, brown rice, spinach, eggplant, and brown bread.  Yum!

Yellow Mung Dal Soup
From Kalachandji's Restaurant as seen in The Dallas Morning News, February 2007

1 cup yellow mung dal (mung beans, shelled and split)
⅓ teaspoon turmeric
1½ teaspoons salt
6 to 8 cups water
2 teaspoons ginger, minced
1 teaspoon jalapeño, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1½ teaspoons cumin seeds (divided use)
2 zucchini, cubed
2 tablespoons ghee or oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon hing (asafoetida)
A few curry leaves
2 to 3 teaspoons cilantro, finely chopped
Lemon juice to taste

Wash dal and drain. Combine dal, turmeric, salt and water. Bring to boil and simmer until half-cooked (about 20 minutes), removing foam that accumulates on top. Add ginger, jalapeño, ground coriander, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and cubed zucchini. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking.

When dal is soft, whisk to smooth consistency. Heat ghee or oil in small saucepan. Add mustard and remaining cumin seeds. When they crackle, add hing and curry leaves, and add to dal.

Stir well, garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

Makes 6 servings.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ball: Traditional Corn Relish

One of the best things about summer is the absolutely fabulous fresh sweet corn.  But it's not around for long.  And frozen corn just doesn't hack it once you've had the good stuff.  So it makes me wonder if there's any good way to preserve the days of summer.  I found this recipe in my good ol' Ball preserving book and figured I would give it a try.  What I got was a delicious sweet-and-sour relish that would be awesome on a hot dog, but just as amazing on some grilled chicken or pork.  And come January, I'll still have the sweet ripeness of summer to savor.

Traditional Corn Relish
From Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving

9 cups corn kernels (from about 18 medium ears corn)
3 cups finely chopped cabbage
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped, seeded red bell pepper
4 cups white vinegar
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon celery seeds
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground tumeric

Prepare canner, jars, and lids.

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine corn, cabbage, onion, red pepper, vinegar, sugar, water, dry mustard, celery seeds, mustard seeds, salt, and turmeric.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes or until liquid is reduced and vegetables are tender-crisp.

Fill jars, one at a time, leaving ½-inch headspace.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes.  At the end of the processing time, turn heat off and remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, without tilting.  Cool and store.

Makes about 5 pint jars

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Italian Easy: Recipes from the London River Cafe: Green Bean and Tomato Tagliatelle

So, it's the middle of the summer, produce is fresh and fabulous, and you have a craving for...pasta?  Pasta always seems so incredibly heavy to me.  Especially in the summer, when the air conditioner is struggling against the 110°F outside ambient temperature.  A big stomach full of pasta just makes you feel even more sluggish than usual in those circumstances.  Unless you're using my new favorite cookbook.

This pasta dish, with fresh haricot verts green beans from Central Market and tomatoes from the farmer's market, was perfect.  And it certainly helps that there were only seven ingredients on the list.  Super quick, super fast.  The tagliatelle noodles held the creamy sauce, and the green beans still had some snap.  The tomatoes added a little acidity.  I was licking my plate.

Green Bean and Tomato Tagliatelle
From Italian Easy: Recipes from the London River Cafe by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers

16 ounces egg tagliatelle
1 pound fine green beans
6 plum tomatoes
2 ounces Parmesan
1 garlic clove
 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoon basil leaves

Top and tail the green beans, cook in boiling salted water until tender, then drain.

Cut the tomatoes in half, remove the juice and seeds, and chop the flesh coarsely.  Season.  Grate the Parmesan.

Peel the garlic, add to the cream, and bring to a boil.  Season.  Remove the garlic, and add the tomato, green beans, and basil.  Stir to combine.

Cook the tagliatelle in boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain, and add to the tomato and beans.  Serve with Parmesan.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Vinie Keattikul: Khao Neeo Mamuang (Thai Sticky Rice with Mango)

In case you haven't noticed, Asian restaurant menus don't really include a lot of dessert.  Sugar is a limited-quantity, limited-availability kind of thing.  If you do get a dessert, it's normally a European-style cake (although this, too, normally has almost no sugar in it, which is disconcerting to say the least).  So when I was first introduced to Thai food, I didn't exactly expect to find anything appealingly sweet.  Boy, was I wrong.  This dessert, a perfect combination of sticky rice, syrupy coconut, and sweet mango, is just about my favorite thing.  I have seriously considered skipping the dinner altogether (and I'm all about some green curry) and just moving on to the finale.

Khao Neeo Mamuang (Thai Sticky Rice with Mango)
From Vinie Keattikul

2 cups sweet (glutinous) rice
2 pandan leaves (optional)
1½ cups coconut milk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided use
¾ teaspoon sea salt
3 ripe mangoes, peeled and sliced

Wash rice several times to remove starch. Cover with water in a medium bowl, and soak for at least 2-3 hours or overnight. Steam sticky rice with pandan leaves for 30 to 35 minutes.

While rice is cooking, combine 1 cup coconut milk, 1 cup sugar, and salt. Cook the sauce over medium heat until the sugar dissolves completely. When rice is done, combine cooked rice and sauce in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Let stand for 45 minutes.

Combine remaining ½ cup coconut milk and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Stir together over medium heat until sugar melts (or microwave for about 10 seconds to warm). To serve, scoop a mound of rice onto a dish, spoon sauce over the rice, and place sliced mango on the side.

Makes 6 servings

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Two Meatballs in the Italian Kitchen: Polpettine con Spaghetti (Meatballs with Spaghetti Coco Pazzo)

I'm not a big spaghetti girl.  Or pasta in general.  So basically every time I have the option of Italian or something else, I'm choosing the something else.  But once every great while I feel like having some meatballs.  Tender, beefy meatballs in a tomato sauce.  But not just any meatballs.  Homemade meatballs in a homemade sauce.  No jars here.  And each time I make it, I remember how really delicious homemade Italian food can be.

Note: In addition to some other tinkering which is included in the instructions below, I added 10 leaves of fresh basil (chiffonade) to the sauce.  Because it's awesome.

Polpettine con Spaghetti (Meatballs with Spaghetti Coco Pazzo)
Adapted from Two Meatballs in the Italian Kitchen by Pino Luongo and Mark Strausman

For the meatballs:
1 cup day-old sourdough bread cubes (crust removed)
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
8 ounces ground veal
8 ounces ground chuck
8 ounces lean ground pork
8 ounces sweet Italian sausage (about 2), removed from casings and crumbled
3 tablespoons dried oregano, preferably Sicilian
½ cup (2 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ cup (2 ounces) freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium red onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ cup dry red wine (such as Chianti)
2 (28-ounce) cans Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, with the juice, puréed in a food processor or food mill
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste (optional)

2 tablespoons kosher salt
1½ pounds spaghetti or linguine

To make the meatballs:
Place the bread and milk in a medium bowl and let soak for 5 minutes.

Heat a 7- to 8-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, and when it is hot, add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until soft and golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside.

Place the veal, beef, pork, and sausage in a large bowl and, using your hands, mix well. Add the oregano, cheeses, eggs, garlic powder, parsley, and bread one at a time, mixing until thoroughly combined after each addition. Add the onion and mix until very well combined. Add the salt and pepper. Set aside.

To make the sauce:
Heat a 10-quart casserole over medium heat, and when it is hot, add the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until wilted. Add the tomato paste and stir for 1 minute. Add the wine, tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of salt, and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt, dried basil, and red pepper flakes to taste if necessary.

While the tomato sauce is cooking, form the meatballs:
Take a piece of meat the size of a golf ball and roll it between the palms into a ball. Add it to the sauce, and repeat with the remaining meatballs.

Return the sauce to a simmer and simmer gently until the meatballs are cooked through, about 1½ hours. Be sure to cook the meatballs at a very gentle simmer; if the sauce boils, the fat will separate from the meat and they will dry out. When you think they are done, remove one from the pot and cut into it with a paring knife. If it is still pink in the middle, continue to cook until done, another 10 to 15 minutes.

Just prior to serving, fill a 10-quart stockpot with 7 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Add the 2 tablespoons of salt and spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain, add to the pan with the meatballs and sauce, and carefully toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 to 6 servings, 16 to 18 meatballs with sauce

Saturday, May 07, 2011

New American Table: Beer-Braised Short Ribs

I love making short ribs.  They are like the absolute pinnacle of beef eating if you have the 3 hours to wait for them to cook up.  Where else do you start with a nasty, tough old piece of meat, and come out the other end with a tender, succulent dinner?  Maybe brisket.  But even brisket can't live up to the saucy perfection of these babies.  Chef Samuelsson, I salute you.

Note: Definitely try to use the beer recommended (or a close relation).  Otherwise the flavor profile is changed, and it's just not as good.  When it comes to cooking the ribs, I used some of the marinating liquid in lieu of all beer.  It adds some of the spiciness from the Sriracha back in for the long haul.  I'd maybe swap out 1 cup of marinating liquid for 1 cup of the beer and 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce.

Beer-Braised Short Ribs
Adapted from New American Table by Marcus Samuelsson

3 tablespoons red chile paste (such as Sriracha)
4 pounds short ribs
½ cup soy sauce
4 cups beer (such as Brooklyn Lager)
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 red onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
One 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
3 bay leaves
4 cups chicken stock
½ cup mirin
2 tablespoons ketjap manis
1 tablespoon honey
2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Smear the chile paste over the short ribs. Arrange the ribs in a single layer in a baking dish. Mix together ¼ cup of the soy sauce and ½ cup of the beer and pour over the ribs. Turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Remove the ribs from the baking dish and pat dry. Season with salt. Heat the sesame oil and olive oil in a large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot, add the ribs and brown on all sides. Remove to a separate dish.

Add the onions, garlic, ginger, and bay leaves and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Return the ribs to the pot and pour in 3 cups of the beer, the remaining ¼ cup soy sauce, the chicken stock, and mirin. Bring to a simmer over low heat, cover, and place in the oven. Cook until meat is tender and falling off the bone, about 3 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Remove the ribs from the pot. Skim the fat off the top and reserve 2 cups of the liquid. Combine the reserved cooking liquid, 1 teaspoon salt, ketjap manis, honey, and the remaining ½ cup beer in a small saucepan. Remove and discard the bay leaves.  Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, stirring constantly.  Stir in the scallions and butter and serve over the short ribs.

Makes 6 servings

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Alton Brown: Chocolate Bread Pudding

My sister's boyfriend, who is from Louisiana, decided to invite a bunch of us ignorant Texans over for a authentic crawfish boil.  I had never been to one.  I definitely needed edu-ma-cating.  He had ordered several bags full of live crawfish, and he was all set up in the backyard with his pot, stirring paddle, and cutoff shorts.  No, I'm not sure what the shorts have to do with it.

He mixed a bunch of crawfish boil spices and lemon juice into boiling water, and then he tossed in some red potatoes, corn on the cob, and venison sausages.  When it was done, he dumped all of the crawfish out on a garbage bag-lined table in the backyard.  We all gathered around and greedily pulled our crawfish apart.  For the grand finale, I baked up a delicious bread pudding chock-full of chocolate.  Because, I mean, how else could I top those shorts?  Except with chocolate whipped cream.

Chocolate Bread Pudding
From Alton Brown

2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup hot chocolate mix (I used Ghirardelli Double Chocolate)
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
3 cups half-and-half
1 cup whole milk
2 ounces espresso, slightly cooled
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
18 ounces stale challah bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into ½-inch pieces

Place the eggs and yolks in the carafe of a blender and combine on the lowest speed for 30 seconds. Slowly add the sugar over 30 seconds, and then add the hot chocolate mix and blend until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the half-and-half, milk, espresso and vanilla and blend until well combined, about 30 seconds.

Butter a 9x13-inch metal pan with 1 tablespoon of the butter and place the cubed bread in the pan. Spread the chocolate on top of the bread and slowly pour in the custard. Press down on the mixture with a spatula or the back of a spoon to thoroughly saturate. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 2 hours, or refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Bake until the internal temperature reaches at least 170°F, about 45 minutes. Set the oven to the high broil setting with the oven door ajar.  Remove the bread pudding from the oven. Pour the remaining melted butter into a spray bottle and spritz the top of the bread pudding. Return to the middle rack and broil for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack for 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Bird in the Oven and Then Some: Greek Roast Chicken with Caper Butter, Roast Lemons, and Skordalia

I recently acquired an entire book full of chicken recipes.  No, you can never have too many chicken recipes.  Chicken is the ultimate go-to.  Do you know anyone who won't eat chicken (besides vegetarians, they don't count)?  Actual meat eaters who don't like chicken?  I don't.  Especially when that chicken is roasted so that the skin is nice and crispy and the breast meat is juicy and tender.  That is chicken nirvana.  And apparently it's accomplished by burning down your kitchen.  I kid.  Sort of.

Note: Have a window open, the vent on high, and your smoke detector disconnected because this baby is going to smoke you out of your kitchen.

Greek Roast Chicken with Caper Butter, Roast Lemons, and Skordalia
From A Bird in the Oven and Then Some by Mindy Fox

1 (4-pound) whole chicken
3 tablespoons capers, preferably salt-packed, rinsed, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes, then rinsed again
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 lemons
1 tablespoon crumbled dried oregano, preferably Greek
Flaky coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pita bread for serving

½ pound Yukon gold potatoes
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450°F with the rack in the middle.

To make the skordalia, peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch cubes.  Combine with 5 cups cold water in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, then bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until tender, 10 to 12 minutes.  Drain in a colander and let cool to room temperature.  Push through a potato ricer or gently mash with a fork.

Meanwhile, prepare the chicken: Pull off excess fat around the cavities of the chicken and discard, then rinse the chicken and pat dry very well, inside and out.  From the edge of the cavity, slip a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, then use your fingers to gently but thoroughly loosen the skin from the meat of the breasts and thighs.

Pat the capers dry, then roughly chop and put them in a bowl with the butter.  Finely zest the lemons into the bowl, holding the zester close so that you capture the flavorful oil that sprays from the lemons as you zest.  Add the oregano then mix to thoroughly combine.  Cut 1 lemon lengthwise into quarters and set aside.

Using your hands and working with about 1 tablespoon of the butter mixture at a time, gently push the mixture into the spaces you created between the chicken skin and meat, being careful not to tear the skin.  As you work the mixture in, gently rub your hand over the outside of the skin to smooth out the mixture and push it farther down between the skin and meat where you may not be able to reach with your hand.  Season the chicken all over, using 2 to 3 tablespoons coarse salt and generous pepper, then tie the legs together with kitchen string.

Put a roasting pan (not nonstick) or 13x9-inch baking dish in the oven to heat for 10 minutes.  Remove and immediately place the chicken inside, breast-side up.  Roast for 20 minutes, then turn breast-side down.  After 10 minutes, squeeze half of the juice from each lemon quarter over the chicken, and drop the quarters into the pan.  Continue to roast until the juices of the chicken run clear when the thigh is pierced with a fork, 20 to 30 minutes more.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, return to the skordalia: Use a mortar and pestle to pound together the garlic and salt to a paste.  Transfer to a large wooden bowl.  Add the potatoes and pepper.  Using a large wooden spoon, pound and stir the mixture together just to combine.  Add the vinegar in a slow but steady stream, while still pounding, until incorporated.  Repeat with the oil.  Transfer to a serving bowl.

Carve the chicken on a cutting board.  Serve with the pan juices, skordalia, lemons, and pita.

Makes 4 servings

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ina Garten: Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter

What is the richest, most fattening pasta dish you can think of?  Fettuccine alfredo maybe?  I've got one that tops it.  It's Ina Garten's Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter.  It's pasta with heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, and butter.  Not just any butter, though.  Truffle butter.  And tons of it.  This pasta is so rich you can feel your heart screaming for mercy.  I have never felt more like eating a salad than I did after this dish.  But you know what?  It's absolutely fabulous.  Creamy, rich, and decadent.

I used some fresh tagliatelle pasta that I bought at Whole Foods, and the truffle butter came in a little tub at the same store.  I have to admit it's amazingly simple to put together, but you can only eat a little bit at a time.  I couldn't even make it through a whole serving.

Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter
From Ina Garten

Kosher salt
½ cup heavy cream
3 ounces white truffle butter
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (8.82-ounce) package Cipriani tagliarelle dried pasta or other egg fettuccine
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
3 ounces Parmesan, shaved thin with a vegetable peeler

Add 1 tablespoon salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large (12-inch) saute pan, heat the cream over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Add the truffle butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper, lower the heat to very low, and swirl the butter until it melts. Keep warm over very low heat.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, exactly. (If you're not using Cipriani pasta, follow the directions on the package.) When the pasta is cooked, reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the drained pasta to the saute pan and toss it with the truffle-cream mixture. As the pasta absorbs the sauce, add as much of the reserved cooking water, as necessary, to keep the pasta very creamy.

Serve the pasta in shallow bowls and garnish each serving with a generous sprinkling of chives and shaved Parmesan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve at once.

Makes 2 servings

Friday, February 04, 2011

Cooking Light: Banana-Chocolate-Walnut Bread

I've become dissatisfied with banana bread recipes.  I want a moist crumb that is just sweet enough to be a treat, but not so overwhelming that my teeth rot.  But it also has to have something else...something to make it special.  And I never thought I would find that something in Cooking Light magazine.

The banana bread I made is called Banana-Chocolate-Walnut Bread, and it is absolutely delicious.  The flax seed that you add into the batter gives it this amazing nutty flavor that goes so well with the ripe banana and sweetness of the sugar.  The yogurt helps to keep it moist over multiple days.  And of course everything is better with chocolate.  I didn't melt the extra chocolate chips; instead I just threw them all into the batter.  This will definitely be the recipe I reach for when I have a craving for banana bread.

Banana-Chocolate-Walnut Bread
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine, October 2010

1½ cups mashed ripe banana
 cup plain fat-free yogurt
5 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs
 cup granulated sugar
 cup packed light brown sugar
6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1½ cups)
¼ cup ground flaxseed
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
 teaspoon ground allspice
 cup semisweet chocolate minichips, divided
 cup chopped walnuts, toasted and divided
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended. Add sugars; beat until blended.
Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended.
Fold minichips and nuts into batter; pour batter into a 9x5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350°F for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; cool completely on wire rack.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Southern Living: Beef Lombardi

Sometimes you don't want to make something complicated.  Sometimes simple is best.  Pulling something warm and delicious from the oven shouldn't require two hours of prep time.  There's a middle ground, somewhere between opening a can of ravioli and making pasta from scratch.

Beef Lombardi
Adapted from Southern Living magazine, October 2003

1 pound lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14½-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 (6-ounce) package medium egg noodles
6 green onions, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
Garnish: fresh parsley sprigs

Cook ground beef and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes, stirring until the beef crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain. Stir in chopped tomatoes and next 4 ingredients; cook 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and bay leaf, and simmer 30 minutes.

Cook egg noodles according to package directions; drain. Stir together cooked egg noodles, chopped green onions, and sour cream until blended.

Place noodle mixture in bottom of a lightly greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Remove bay leaf from beef mixture, and then pour it over the noodle mixture; sprinkle evenly with cheeses.

Bake, covered with aluminum foil, at 350°F for 35 minutes. Uncover casserole, and bake 5 more minutes. Garnish, if desired.

Note: Freeze casserole up to 1 month, if desired. Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Bake as directed.

Makes 6 servings