Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chicken Pita Pockets with Apple and Brie

This is a bit of a Blog-Lite today, not because this is enormously healthy for you or anything, but because my laptop is currently revolting and I'm borrowing (St.) Andy's. So I've thrown my technology-related frustration into cooking and emerged with these delicious little nuggets (Disclaimer: These are not nuggets.)

I began by marinating the chicken tenderloins in cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, onion powder, basil and sage. I covered the dish and let it sit for thirty minutes at room temperature. At this point, I preheated my oven to 350.

I then took a large skillet and heated a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high. Once the oil was hot (but not smoking) I added half the tenderloins--browning them for 5 minutes per side--and then reserved them to a plate to cool while I cooked the other batch.

Then I took a large mixing bowl and added my apples, onion, brie, raspberry vinaigrette, spinach and 3 tablespoons honey. Once the chicken had cooled, I chopped it into bite-size pieces and stirred these into the mixing bowl. I made sure to toss the mixture well, to evenly distribute all the little pieces.

I coated a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, then filled each pita with a healthy dollop of the chicken mixture, making sure each had a fair amount of cheese in strategic places.

I could fit about six pitas onto the baking sheet, though the mixture would have filled eight (I refrigerated the remainder.) I put the filled pitas into the oven and cooked them for 9-11 minutes--or until the cheese had melted.

Chicken Pita Pockets with Apple and Brie
1 lb. chicken tenderloins
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon sage
4 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 apples, chopped (I used Granny Smith, because I couldn't find sweet cooking apples)
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cups spinach, chopped
8 oz brie, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup raspberry vinaigrette
4 pitas, halved

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mexican-Inspired Shepherd's Pie

The other day I asked my coworkers, "What should I make for dinner?" Considering most of them are cooks, I considered it a good panel. One suggested shepherd's pie, and while I love potatoes and cheese and all that goodness, I decided to substitute some more flavorful ingredients for the peas and the carrots, ultimately arriving at a kind-of Mexican-inspired version of the dish. +

I began by preheating the oven to 375. Then I set a large pot of salted water to boil. Once the water was rolling, I added my cubed potatoes and let them cook for 15-18 minutes.

Meanwhile I heated my cast-iron skillet to medium-high and added a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once the oil was hot but not smoking, I added the chopped onion. I sauteed the onion until it had become golden and translucent, then I added the ground beef, Mojo marinade and Goya Sazón. I stirred the beef until it browned, and then added it as the first layer in the bottom of my 9x12 casserole dish. Then I reduced the heat to medium and added the corn to the skillet. Once the corn heated, I added it to the casserole dish as the second layer.

We drained the potatoes and then placed them in a medium bowl and added a 1/4 cup of cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper. Andy mashed the potato cubes with my handy new potato masher.

For the third layer, I added the roasted red peppers. then the sour cream, cilantro, and mashed potatoes. For the potatoes, I used the back of a large spoon to make sure the layer was spread evenly over the entire dish. Then I sprinkled the remainder of the grated cheese on top. 

After 20 minutes in the oven, we were greeted by a delicious cheesy potato meat extravaganza. Cheers to pie!

Mexican-Inspired Shepherd's Pie
Serves 6.

1 lb. ground beef
1 package Goya Sazón
1 tablespoon Mojo marinade
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup cheddar, freshly grated
3 red peppers, roasted
1 15-oz can of corn
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turkey Burgers Stuffed with Spinach, Swiss, and Turkey Bacon

I've been trying to get away from other people's recipes for a while, but this is the first time I went completely off-book and I had a blast.

I had some ground turkey breast that I wanted to use, so the idea blossomed from there. I began by making a dressing, whisking together olive oil, honey, Dijon, white wine vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, French vinaigrette, salt and pepper.

Then I cooked up the turkey bacon until well-done and easily-crumbled. I reserved the drippings in the pan and transferred the bacon to a paper towel to blot up the grease.

For the burgers, I combined ground turkey, chopped onion, honey, garlic powder, onion powder, three tablespoons of vegetable oil, chopped almonds, salt and pepper. I formed the mixture into thin patties. On top of every other patty, I mounded chopped spinach, Swiss, and crumbled turkey bacon. I drizzled the dressing over the mixture and then placed another patty on top, crimping the edges in order to fully enclose it.

I heated up my skillet to medium-high and added a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once the oil was hot but not smoking, I heaved my massive burger into the pan and cooked it for about three to four minutes each side.

I plated the burgers and reduced the heat on the pan to medium, then I sauteed some sliced onions for an additional topping.

I served the burger on a French bread bun and topped it with Swiss, sauteed onions, and more honey Dijon dressing. Boom, dinner!

Thoughts for next time:
-I might sauté the spinach with some chopped onion and garlic and let it wilt a little. 
-I would toast the French bread bun before I added my burger. 
-I wanted to use pancetta or proscuitto instead of turkey bacon, but I couldn't find it at the store. Turkey bacon was still delicious, though!

Turkey Burgers Stuffed with Spinach, Swiss, and Turkey Bacon
Serves 3.

For the burgers:
2 pounds ground turkey
One onion, halved: one half chopped, the other half sliced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup spinach, chopped
1 cup Swiss, grated
3 slices turkey bacon, crumbled
3 French bread buns

For the dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 tablespoon French vinaigrette

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chicken Vindaloo

I'm from Louisiana, and it's not too often that we have stew or gumbo weather. But so delicious and aromatic are these dishes that sometimes you've just gotta turn down your air conditioner and curl up under a blanket as you enjoy the scent of your simmering dinner and later the hearty taste! Sacrifices must be made for proper sensory overload.

To start with, I chopped up one onion (or rather Andy chopped it) and combined it in the food processor with curry powder, chili powder, turmeric, ground mustard, minced garlic, ground ginger, cumin, white wine vinegar, and ground cloves and blended the ingredients until they were smooth.

Full disclosure: I forgot to chop up the chicken thighs before I coated them all with the spice mixture. So that had to happen post-coating and was rather messy and not at all noble. Chop up the chicken first! 1/2- to 1-inch pieces should do the trick. THEN throw them in a bowl and coat with your spice mixture. Now to return to the first-person narrative...

Andy chopped up the remaining onion. Then we heated up two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high. I added the onions and sauteed them until they were golden (about 5-7 minutes.) Then I added in the chicken (and all of the spice mixture) and stirred it in with the onions for about 3 minutes.

Next came the can of diced tomatoes (including all the liquid) and a cinnamon stick. Once the sauce came to a boil, I covered the pot, reduced the heat to low, and let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring on occasion.

After that, I removed the lid and added a tablespoon of yellow mustard seeds. I raised the heat to medium and let it simmer for another 8-10 minutes so the sauce would thicken.

Meanwhile I boiled up a pot of orzo on which to serve the stew. Basmati rice would be really delicious too.

Before serving, I fished out the cinnamon stick and seasoned the stew with salt and pepper. Then I stirred in my cilantro, ladled the vindaloo over bowls of orzo and curled up on the couch in front of a movie. Three cheers for makeshift stew weather!

Chicken Vindaloo
Serves 4.
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground mustard
6 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 tsp cumin
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 onions, chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 3/4 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 cinnamon stick
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Orzo or basmati rice or whatever you choose to serve it on!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Grilled Salmon with Almond Vinaigrette

Fairly simple weeknight dinner!

I began by toasting the almonds. I just placed a heavy skillet over medium heat and then added the whole almonds and let them toast until they were a bit more golden (and passed the taste-test of being bloody delicious.)

I bagged the almonds in a Ziploc (Andy cleverly let the hot air out of the bag and then resealed it.) Then the almonds were crushed. In a small bowl, I stirred up olive oil, white wine vinegar, onion powder, thyme, water, Dijon,  honey, and the crushed almonds.

For the salmon, I heated my stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat and added a drizzle of olive oil (I will now officially dub this measurement a "ZZ Top" because that is what I visualize. Minus the Beard.)

I rubbed the salmon with salt, pepper, and paprika, then added it to the grill pan (skin-side-up, two fillets at a time.) I did another ZZ-top of Lea & Perrin's chicken marinade to the fillets and let 'em fryyyy (or grill or whatever it is that was happening. Let's just be professional and call it grilling.)

After a few minutes, I rotated the salmon 90 degrees to get those lovely cross-hatches. Then once the juices began to run clear, I flipped the fish and let them cook for four minutes more on the skin-side (adding a bit more chicken marinade as they cooked.)

I then plated the fillets and covered them with tented foil to keep them warm as I grilled the other two. Once everything was nicely done, I put two fillets on each plate and topped them with a hefty spoonful (this said "spoonyful" at first, which I nearly let lie) of almond vinaigrette.

For a side, I whipped up a salad of baby spinach, shredded carrots, sliced roma tomatoes, a sprinkle of parmesan, and some more of the same almond vinaigrette. Probably not the ideal accompaniment, but it worked in terms of "things I had in my fridge." Two things I've been learning with cooking are to a) actually have a side with your main dish and b) sometimes just work with what you've got instead of going to the store and making something ridiculous and exotic. The delicious can be found right in your very pantry!

Grilled Salmon
4 6-oz salmon fillets, skin-on
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp Lea & Perrins Chicken Marinade
One ZZ Top of olive oil

Almond Vinaigrette
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/3 cup olive oil
4 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground thyme
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp cold water
1 tsp Dijon

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Broiled Portobellos with Creamy Scrambled Eggs

I'm not a huge fan of mushrooms--I'll tolerate them in some dishes, but when I can avoid them, I do. Something about their texture really throws me off. But I love portobellos. They're so silky and wonderful.

I had the morning/afternoon off, so I convinced myself that I deserved an elaborate brunch. (The thought process was something like "Man, I wanna cook" and then "Man, I love breakfast foods," and hark! an idea.)

For a side, I picked up some country sausage. I also grabbed asparagus and hollandaise ingredients, but that might have to wait till morning.

First I removed the entire stem from the mushroom. Then I preheated the broiler and lined a baking sheet with foil. I brushed the mushroom with olive oil and then placed it underside-up and added minced garlic, salt, and pepper. I broiled the mushroom for five minutes on one side, then flipped it over and cooked it for another seven.

While the mushroom cooked, I mixed country sausage, thyme, cayenne, sage, allspice, and onion powder. From this mixture, I formed two patties.

Then I whisked together eggs, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and diced fresh rosemary. I melted half a tablespoon of butter in a non-stick skillet over medium low, into which I poured the egg mixture.

I took out another skillet and put it over medium heat, spritzing it with some Pam. I added the patties, which needed little attention as I stirred the eggs. Just flip them after four to six minutes and these babies handle themselves. Non-needy foods enable one to have a breather in the middle of hectic breakfast times (Note: Breakfast times are never, ever confined to the morning.)

The eggs were done once they'd set into a loverly-soft-creamy texture. I dotted a little bit of butter on top, then I put the portobello on a plate (gills up), scooped the egg mixture over the mushroom, and sprinkled a little cheese on top.

I placed the sausage on the side, threw in a banana for good measure, and BOOM! Breakfast!

Perhaps next time I should invite other people over...

Broiled Portobello Topped with Creamy Scrambled Eggs (via Bon Appetit)
(I adapted this for one)
1 portobello mushroom
Olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 eggs
2 tablespoons Parmesan
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

Sausage Patties:
1/4 lb country sausage

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pumpkin Ginger Bread Pudding

Pumpkin season!

I've been wanting to try something pumpkiny for a while, since it saturates the fall culture so much in flavor and color and decoration and whatnot. I'm not much of a baker, since I tend to fall short of the necessary precision, but I wanted to bake a fun seasonal dessert that I could potentially bring to other gatherings.

I began by making crystallized ginger. I couldn't find any already-crystallized at the store, so I looked up a recipe and found it was really simple. I took fresh ginger root, then peeled it and sliced it thinly. I brought 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan, after which I added my ginger slices and a cup full of sugar. I reduced the heat and then covered the ginger and let it simmer for five minutes. I then removed the saucepan from heat and let it sit for another twenty minutes.

Here I preheated the oven to 200.

Meanwhile I took a large bowl and combined eggs, heavy cream, brown sugar, allspice, nutmeg, and vanilla extract. After it was mixed well, I stirred in the canned pumpkin and set this aside while I finished preparing my ginger.

I poured the ginger into a colander. At this point, I really, really wish I'd preserved the ginger water to make ginger ale, but I had nary an appropriate airtight container on hand for its safekeeping. Dadgummit.

Then I placed the ginger slices in a glass baking pan and put them in the oven for 8-10 minutes to dry out. After they were dried, I tossed them with sugar and then diced them up.

In a 7x11 baking pan, I combined a crumbled loaf of pound cake, the diced ginger, and golden raisins. Then I poured my liquid mixture all over and let it soak for fifteen minutes. During this time I preheated my oven to 375. Once the mixture was done soaking, I put the baking pan in the oven for 25 minutes. (For me this turned into 35 minutes, because I this one BLACK HOLE OF DEATH that refused to set properly. How it vexed me.)

Anyway! It all worked out eventually. I took the pan out of the oven, doled it out into individual bowls, and then garnished these with confectioners' sugar. Happy Fall!

Pumpkin Ginger Bread Pudding (adapted from Food Network)
1 lb 13 oz can pumpkin puree
2 cups heavy cream
4 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 loaf plain pound cake
1/4 cup crystallized ginger
1/2 cup golden raisins
Confectioners' sugar (garnish)

Crystallized ginger:
1/4 cup ginger
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Catfish Fillets with Tahini Sauce and Spicy Egyptian Couscous

My first experience cooking with tahini was last year. I made some chicken tacos where the marinade involved tahini, gin, and other bizarre and wonderful things. I might just have to remake those soon so I can blog about it. So yummy were they.

Tahini is a sesame seed paste that somewhat resembles (both in consistency and smell) a watered-down creamy peanut butter. Though that doesn't sound very appetizing (especially since crunchy peanut butter is a million times better), tahini makes up for it in flavor. You'll find it most often in things like hummus or baba ghanoush. Definitely a Middle Eastern ingredient.

However, most of the complaints I read about this recipe (though there were a lot of raves too) involved the overwhelming taste of tahini. When making this, I strove to temper the sesame seed flavor while making sure the fish was representing itself well too.

I made the sauce by combining tahini, crushed garlic, water, lemon juice, cumin, salt, and a little white vinegar in the food processor.  I processed the sauce for less than a minute until it was smooth. I didn't want to process too long, though, as that would further bring out the tahini flavor.

For the catfish, I dried the fillets and then seasoned them with salt, pepper, and paprika. I then heated a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high and seared two fillets at a time. After three or four minutes, I flipped the fish and sprinkled each fillet with crushed coriander seeds. Then I let the fish finish cooking through (another two or three minutes), and transferred them to a platter. I added more oil to the skillet and then did the next batch in the same manner.

I would have Andy write about the spicy Egyptian couscous, since I didn't even really make it, but he's at work and I'm not entirely sure he would I will take you on this journey instead! For some reason, I feel like Ms. Frizzle from Magic School Bus, but I'm not sure why.

Andy began by chopping his zucchini up into 1/2-inch pieces. We bought the carrot shredded, so there was no worry about preparing it. He then fired up the couscous water, adding a little bit of butter and letting it boil before stirring in the couscous and raisins.

While the couscous cooked, he heated up a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and sautéed the zucchini and carrot for a few minutes until they were tender. He then stirred in coriander, cayenne, garlic, and cumin and let it cook for another minute before adding the garbanzo beans and water. All that was left at that point was to stir in the couscous!

We then combined our two creations. I spooned tahini sauce over each fillet and then drizzled some of the oil and crushed coriander that was still in the fish skillet. Both dishes were garnished with parsley. It was all so good, especially since I usually forget a side dish, so it was nice to have that accompaniment. And I do believe the couscous outshone the catfish in this instance.

Catfish Fillets with Tahini Sauce (adapted from Gourmet)
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup well-stirred tahini
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 catfish or mahimahi fillets, skinned
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons coriander seeds, coarsely crushed with side of a large knife
Garnish: 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley.

Spicy Egyptian Couscous (via
1 5-oz. package couscous
1/4 cup raisins
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 zucchini, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup carrots, grated
1/2 teaspoon coriander
pinch cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
3/4 teaspoon. cumin
1 can garbanzo beans
4 teaspoon water
1/4 cup pimento-stuffed olives, chopped and drained (I left these out)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sautéed Halibut with a Pecan Topping

I don't cook nearly enough fish, so when I saw this recipe in the Gourmet cookbook, I couldn't wait to turn it into a fairly healthy dinner.

First things first, I preheated the oven to 200 degrees. Then I began skinning the halibut, which was a pretty new arena for me. I angled the blade at 45 degrees and used long, clean strokes, cutting 1/4 inch at a time so as not to take off too much of the meat.

Then I dried the fillets and seasoned them with salt, pepper, and paprika. I sautéed them in two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat (with the oil hot, but not smoking). While the fish cooked, I basted it with Lea & Perrins chicken marinade to heighten the flavor. 

After four minutes, I flipped the fillets and added more marinade. I then transferred the fillets to a plate which I then tented with foil and placed in the oven to keep warm.

Before the next step, I reduced the heat under my pan to medium and let it cool slightly, otherwise the sauce would burn. I replenished the pan with a tablespoon of oil and then added chopped green onions and garlic and cooked them for a few minutes until they were fragrant. I then increased the heat to medium-high and added the pecans. I let these cook for a few minutes until they were darkened and also aromatic, after which I  added a bit of butter and stirred it until melted. Finally I took the pan off the heat and sprinkled a little lemon juice, chopped parsley, salt, and pepper.

For a side, we steamed asparagus and then drizzled it with melted butter infused with lemon and garlic. Way too good.

Apologies for the scarcity of pictures! I shut my finger in a corkscrew mid-sauté and got a bit occupied. On a not-entirely-unrelated note, this dish goes well with a nice Pinot Grigio. 

(Adapted from Gourmet. Serves 2.)

1 lb. halibut, skinned and halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons Lea & Perrins chicken marinade
3 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 oz. pecans, chopped
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 bunch asparagus
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lasagna Timpano

Today's delicious recipe comes from The Food in My Beard, which is something with which I wish I could identify, because it sounds scintillating. Plus if I had a beard, I'd probably have a whole food pyramid living it without me realizing.

We've been talking about doing lasagna for a while, but other recipes would crop up and push poor lasagna out of the way. No longer! Andy finally pushed the issue last night--and after seeing the recipe, I couldn't resist. So we ventured out for a ton of ingredients and a nice bottle of chianti (fava beans omitted, har har har.) 

For the sauces...I know I'm always championing do-it-yourself, but this time around I followed Andy's suggestion of just buying the marinara and pesto, for the sake of time and money and clean dishes and the depletion of all my basil stock last time I made pesto. But I stopped short of buying alfredo--it's way too easy and quick to make on your own. Next time, though, I will concoct all my marinara dadgummit!

Last night we began by grating the cheese and putting the water onto boil. This took foreeeever because of the amount of water, so make sure to arm yourself with some patience. We used two packages of lasagna noodles, which ended up being just a little more than enough. Once the water had finally reached a rapid boil, we added the noodles, submerging them as much as possible, and letting them cook down for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile I made the alfredo sauce. If you're not familiar with this process, it just involves melting butter on medium low heat, adding cream and letting it simmer for five minutes, and then stirring in parmesan and crushed garlic and stirring until the cheese has melted. Add chopped parsley and you're done! Make sure to use freshly grated parmesan, otherwise it won't melt as well and you'll have a mess of goopy parmesan strings.

At this point, Andy browned the ground beef and then stirred in the marinara for a nice chunky sauce.

Once the noodles were done, we made the base of the crust in a large, oven-safe bowl (well-coated with cooking spray.)

I snipped some of the dangling noodles and used those bits to help make the noodle dividers between layers. We began with three alfredo layers, adding salami to the first and third. I ended up making more alfredo for the end of this recipe, but I wish I'd stocked up on more from the beginning. You can never have too much alfredo. 

Next we had a layer of pesto, topped it with parmesan, provolone, and parmesan, then a bit more pesto.

We took a minute here to preheat the oven to 350. Then it was time for the marinara layers! At this point, we were running out of room. We had only been pressing the layers down occasionally, when we probably should have done it every time. But believe me, it was more than enough. To combat the space issue, we just did two layers of marinara. On the top layer, we dotted clumps of ricotta on top.

Finally we covered this top layer with strips of lasagna, folded over the ends of the base noodles, and brushed everything with alfredo sauce as a glue.

The lasagna cooked for almost an hour and fifteen minutes. I took it out a few minutes beforehand, after noticing it looked like this:

Still tasty, but on the verge of disaster!

We let it rest for twenty minutes before we approached again. Flipping this baby over was an adventure, but we secured the top with a platter, slid the bowl off the counter and inverted it back down. Thanks to my good friend cooking spray (she's asked me to call her Pam), the bowl slid off quite easily! Oven mitts were required  due to the heat of the bowl. And after all that, it really looked like something had been birthed.

Gaze upon it.
Be careful when cutting this. I advise long deliberate strokes with your knife, otherwise it's going to fall apart.

But there you have it! It's hard to nail down exact ingredients for this recipe, because a lot of this is like a canvas, and you're welcome to add whatever you'd like!

Lasagna Timpano (adapted from The Food in My Beard):
2 16 oz.-pkgs. lasagna noodles
3 c. parmesan
1 c. provolone
2 c. mozzarella
4 oz. sliced salami
1 lb. lean ground beef
3 c. marinara
2 c. pesto
1/2 c. ricotta
1/2 c. butter
2 c. heavy whipping cream
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 c. parsley, chopped

Friday, October 7, 2011

Israeli Schnitzel Sandwiches

Allow me to guide you through the assembly of a tasty sandwich! The highlights here are the two sauces, and it's always fresh (both in the "not-stale" and "sassy, in a gender-neutral sort of way" senses) to produce your own.

First things first, I marinated 12 chicken tenderloins in a bowl with olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. I covered the bowl and placed it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

For the pesto, I first toasted three tablespoons of pine nuts in the oven. I preheated the oven to 400 and then spread the nuts onto a cookie sheet and let them bake for three minutes. I got to the store too late for fresh basil, so I was forced to substitute dried basil. The recipe called for 6.5 cups of packed basil leaves, which seems like an awwwwful lot. I opted to rely more on my sense of taste. I poured an inch or so of olive oil into the bottom of a cereal bowl, then I used about 8-10 tablespoons of dried basil. I'm not totally sure of the final amount. I just added the basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, salt and pepper to the food processor, ground it up, and then added a little more salt, basil, and garlic until the taste was where I wanted it.

For the chimichurri sauce, I roasted a red pepper--though on a second-go-round, I would use two. I always roast mine in the oven, but there are all sorts of methods you can find on the internet. I started off by halving, coring, and seeding the pepper, then I laid each half flat onto the baking sheet and pressed them down with the heel of my palm. I set my broiler to high and roasted the peppers until the skin began to blacken, about fifteen minutes. Afterwards I placed the peppers into a plastic bag and tied it tightly, letting them cool for ten minutes before chopping them up.

In my food processor, I combined 1/2 cup of olive oil, the roasted red peppers,distilled white vinegar, paprika (I couldn't find sweet paprika at the store, so I substituted, but I will be adding this to my stockpile soon), red wine vinegar, one teaspoon of dried oregano (a tablespoon if you're using fresh chopped herbs), red chile flakes, pepper, cumin, garlic, and parsley. The bowl was most definitely brimming at this point, but it ground down easily into a delicious, colorful chimichurri.

To prepare the chicken, I first made an egg wash with six beaten eggs. Then I filled another bowl with flour and another with 4 cups of breadcrumbs mixed with 1/2 a cup of chile flakes. I heated canola oil over medium -high heat in a large skillet. Then I dredged each tenderloin in flour, egg wash, then bread crumbs. I fried three or four tenderloins at a time.

They really just took four minutes until they were completely done. I then placed them onto paper towels to drain. Once the chicken was finished, I added half of the sliced onions to the remaining oil and let them cook for about 6-8 minutes, until caramelized.

For the ultimate assembly, I lined each foot-long baguette with three chicken tenderloins, followed by the sauces, lettuce, tomato, raw onion, and cooked onion. Close the baguette and enjoy! For best results, pair with napkins.

Israeli Schnitzel Sandwiches (adapted from

Pesto sauce:

6½ cups packed basil leaves (or 8-10 tbsps. dried)
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. toasted pine nuts
3 cloves garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Red chimichurri sauce:
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup roughly chopped roasted red bell peppers
¼ cup distilled white vinegar
1½ tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. sweet paprika (or regular if you can't find sweet)
1 tbsp. finely chopped oregano (or 1 tsp. dried)
1½ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. ground cumin
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley

3 cups flour
6 eggs, beaten
4 cups bread crumbs
½ cup crushed red chile flakes
12 ¼″-thick chicken tenderloins
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup canola oil
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
4 12″ French baguettes, split 
4 cups loosely packed shredded romaine lettuce
2 ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced

Monday, October 3, 2011

French Onion Mac and Cheese

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to throw away those pesky diet books and work-out DVDs. I come bearing the answers to all your waistline worries!

Just kidding, y'all. I am the harbinger of delicious death. Before you get your panties in a bunch--while they still have room to bunch, that is--don't fret too hard. This meal is so rich and tasty that you'll find it difficult to overindulge. I hadn't eaten all day and I could hardly finish half a serving. No matter! More for later.

The onions entranced me here. Andy and I baked mac and cheese with caramelized onions and bacon last summer with wonderful results. With last night's dinner, I attempted to fill the bacon void by replacing the usual cheddar, mozzarella, etc. with some more exotic cheeses.

J'aime le fromage. Pictured: asiago, gruyere, edam.
 For my cheeses I used the ones pictured above, plus mascarpone. For the latter, I made a substitute out of 16-oz light cream cheese, 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, and 1/3 cup sour cream.

Before I grated or substituted anything, though, I had to caramelize my onions. I heated two tablespoons of butter and two of olive oil over medium-low heat in my cast-iron skillet. Meanwhile I sliced the onions 1/8 inch thick on my mandoline.

After the butter melted completely, I added all the onions to the skillet. They needed a little stirring to separate, after which I covered the skillet for 30 minutes, lifting the lid every ten minutes to stir again.

 I cooked the penne in a medium pot of well-salted water--I won't baby you with directions--and set to work on my cheese sauce. I melted 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Once the butter melted, I added a 1/4 cup of flour and whisked until the mixture was even and at the onset of browning. Then I whisked in two and a half cups of milk and proceeded to gaze away from the pot, so it would boil.

(At this point, I preheated my broiler to 500 degrees.)

Once the surface began to distend and belch--attractive, I know--I added the edam, mascarpone, and asiago, stirring it in until the cheeses were just melted and heated through.

I combined the onions and the cheese sauce into the pot with the cooked and drained penne, tossing it all into uniformity. Then I filled my ramekins with the pasta and placed each onto a cookie sheet. Each bowl got a dusting of croutons and gruyere, after which I gathered together every ounce of daintiness, grace, and dexterity I have--this may not be necessary for you--and hoisted the cookie sheet into the oven.

After three minutes I had my a tasty treat, plus my calories for the entire day.

The beverage.
And the final product:

 Enjoy the decadence!

Ingredients (adapted from Cake, Batter, and Bowl):
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large yellow onions, sliced (9 cups)
1 pound penne pasta
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
2 cups shredded edam cheese
2 cups shredded asiago cheese
8 ounces mascarpone (or substitute)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups croutons
3 cups shredded gruyere cheese

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Roast Pork calypso style

So last night was the first time in a few days that I didn't have to work too late, so of course I had to cook. The dish I chose to tackle was a roast pork tenderloin from Bon Appetit. The calypso part refers to a Caribbean flair added by ginger, allspice, and orange juice, among other elements.

I began my preheating the oven to 500. I treated my tenderloin with a rub of shallots, bay leaves, salt, allspice, and ginger, plus a hefty portion of black pepper. 

To roast the pork, I placed it in a roasting pan and took the advice of a friend from work: roast for 5 1/2 minutes per pound of meat, then turn off the oven and let it sit for the next hour. It will cook itself to perfection!

While the pork took care of itself, Andy and I prepared the salsa. I steamed the corn and sliced the hearts of palm while Andy seeded and diced the tomatoes. We then minced the red onion and chopped up the cilantro. Black beans were included in the recipe, but we somehow lost track of these between the checkout line and home. No matter though! It was delicious without. In fact, I think the starchiness of the beans would have thrown off the rest of the flavors, but venture forth however you please.

To top it off, I added olive oil and fresh lime juice plus a generous grinding of coriander seed.

As the pork finished up, I combined orange juice, shallots, light brown sugar, minced fresh ginger, bay leaves, and all spice in a small heavy saucepan and simmered it for about ten minutes until it formed a syrup, coating the spoon as I stirred the mixture. I then seasoned it with salt and pepper.

Once the pork was done, I removed it from the oven and sliced it up.

Ay, there's the rub.
Finally, I lined each plate with spinach. I placed a mound of salsa in the center. Then around the edge of the plate, I alternated slices of pork and avocado then drizzled these with the syrup.


3 shallots, chopped
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 3/4 lb. pork tenderloins

1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 bay leaves
3/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed, drained (optional)
1 10-oz package frozen corn, thawed, drained
1 7/5-oz can hearts of palm, drained, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
2 large tomatoes, seeded, diced
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon ground coriander

Fresh spinach leaves
2 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, sliced crosswise

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

 So many posts lately! I should slow down, since there are indeed bills to pay. But I have an addiction to recipes, new and old. Tonight's blog features one of the first dishes I made with my boyfriend (also one of the first complicated dishes I tried. I use "complicated" as an antonym to "easy," as in Easy Mac.)

It was definitely interesting to see how much more comfortable I was in the kitchen. The dish turned out well the first time, but I think confidence and ease are great attributes in the kitchen (nowhere else, though. Shaky cowards unite!)

I couldn't find any garam masala at the store, so I began with making a substitute out of cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, crumbled bay leaves, cinnamon, and ground cloves--garnered from a useful Yahoo! Answer. My friend Andrew suggests adding freshly ground coriander next time and favoring it above the other ingredients.

For the marinade, I used yogurt, the garam masala substitute, lemon juice, a teaspoon of salt, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, freshly ground black pepper, and minced ginger. I took three boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut them into bite-size pieces, and stirred them into the marinade. Then I covered and refrigerated the bowl for two hours.

Once the chicken was ready, I threaded it into four long wooden skewers. Using my new stovetop grill pan, I heated it in high and drizzled olive oil onto the pan. I situated the skewers on the pan and let the chicken cook for about five to seven minutes on each side--it's done when the juices run clear.

For the sauce, I melted butter over medium heat in a heavy skillet. Then I added garlic and chopped fresh jalapeno. I sauteed these for a minute, then added three teaspoons of the garam masala substitute, cumin, and paprika and stirred the mixture to combine the seasonings. 

Next I added tomato sauce and coconut milk. I heated the sauce through, then reduced the heat to low and let it simmer for twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.

After twenty minutes, the sauce had begun to thicken and I unthreaded the chicken from the skewers, stirring them into the sauce to coat. I let it simmer for ten more minutes.

Finally I served the chicken and sauce on a bed of rice, then I garnished it all with chopped cilantro. Wonderfully spicy and tasty. Enjoy!

Chicken Tikka Masala (adapated from Allrecipes)

For the marinade:
1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon garam masala substitute
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon salt
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

For the sauce:
1 15-oz can of tomato sauce

1 3/4 cup of coconut milk
1 fresh jalapeno, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon butter
3 teaspoons garam masala substitute
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika

Garam masala substitute:
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1.2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Red Pepper Hummus and Window-Pane Potato Chips

 Hello, party people! I am here to fulfill your needs--that is, if your needs involve tending to vegan party guests. I totally respect vegans. It's an interesting and difficult choice to make, and I know that I love food in general too much to say "No more steak for breakfast." (Full disclosure: I had prime rib for breakfast. I called it brunch, because it was ten-thirty, but it still happened.) But when I have vegan friends coming to my parties--or vegan friends having birthdays--nothing delights me more than to provide. For my lovely friend Emily's birthday today, I made red pepper hummus and window-pane potato chips.

The hummus was fairly straight-forward, though it was a lot of fun to make. I doubled the original recipe and began by roasting two red peppers. I don't see the point in ever buying roasted red peppers, because it's so much more fun to roast your own. Just buy the peppers, halve them and remove the core, then pull out the seeds and membranes. So much easier than you could have ever imagined. Then wrap a baking sheet in foil, flatten your peppers down on the sheet, and roast them under the preheated broiler for 10 minutes. After this passes, seal the peppers up in a Ziploc bag for ten minutes to let them cool. If you just drop the hot peppers into the bag, the bag will break open and the pepper will fall to the ground. Just slide it in carefully and avoid strong heat and gravity issues.

After the peppers have cooled, peel them and put them into your food processor along with your chickpeas, lemon juice, cumin, salt, ground black pepper, tahini, and quartered garlic clove. Process this up until everything's fairly smooth and you can no longer spot any chickpeas. Then serve!

 For the windowpane potato slices, first you must preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Then you will need a mandoline slicer. If you don't own one, I highly recommend it. I've never been able to slice onions more beautifully, and I was even more delighted with it once I got to this recipe. I set the slicer to its thinnest setting and sliced up a couple of baking potatoes. I tossed the first few slices because they were too small or incomplete. Then I took twenty-or-so slices and set them in a single layer atop several paper towels. I covered this layer with more paper towels, pressed down lightly, and then let them rest for a few minutes to reduce the moisture.

After this period, I covered a baking sheet with cooking spray and placed as many potato slices as I could on top of it, yet again in a single layer. On these slices I placed sprigs of sage, tarragon, thyme, and rosemary. I covered them with yet another potato slice and pressed down to adhere.

I sprinkled the slices with salt and coated them in cooking spray, then covered the sheet with foil. I placed a baking sheet on top and put the sheets in the oven. I took my cast-iron skillet (though you can take any heavy oven-proof skillet) and put it on top of the baking sheets.

I originally followed the recipe and baked the slices for 25 minutes at 400 degrees, but this resulted in many burned potato chips. So I tried again for 15 minutes, then I turned the slices over and baked them for another 5-7 minutes.

Trial periods are definitely recommended, and ultimately you will end up with something fairly tasty but ultimately prettier than it is delicious. But if you are cooking for the aesthetic qualities, you're in luck!

(The hummus was terrific, though.)

Red Pepper Hummus (via Cooking Light)(This is the recipe before I doubled it)
1 red bell pepper
2 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp tahini 
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 19 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, quartered

Window-Pane Potato Chips (via Cooking Light) (doubled this one too)
2 medium baking potatoes
Cooking spray
Assorted fresh herb sprigs (I used sage, rosemary, thyme, and tarragon)
1/2 tsp salt