November 30, 2006

Cauliflower and Garlic Pasta


Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
3/4 lb dried pasta
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
2 tablespoon olive oil
5 anchovy filets
5 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Five minutes before it is finished, add the cauliflower to the pasta and allow to steam for the remaining of the cooking time. Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, heat the oil. Add garlic and anchovies, stir until the garlic is soft and the anchovies have melted. Add red pepper flakes, stir. Add broth and heat through. Toss with cheese and drained pasta/cauliflower and serve.

My thoughts:
Another 10 minute meal. Super quick, tasty and a good way to get up your veggie intake without a lot of fuss.

November 29, 2006

Cranberry Ribbon Cake

Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 cup plain yogurt, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour or use a baking spray 1 bundt or tube pan. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, butter, vanilla and sugar until well mixed. Slowly add in yogurt. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and a dash of salt. Slowly incorporate into the yogurt batter. Mix thoroughly. It might not look like you have enough batter to fill the pan, but you do. It is not a super tall cake, but it will rise and have a great texture, I promise. Spoon 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth with the back of a spatula. Carefully spoon the cranberry sauce to form a ring around the middle of the pan, without touching the middle or sides. Top with the remaining batter and smooth with the back of a spatula. Bake 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan about 5 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack. Slice and eat.

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My thoughts:
I have been wanting to come up with something that used leftover cranberry sauce for years and every year, I end up either eating or throwing out any leftovers I have. This year I swore I'd actually do it. I had several ideas (cranberry swirl ice cream? some sort of cranberry fudge?) but ended up making this truly addictive cake. At first I had planned to make my recipe for sour cream cake and swirl some cranberry sauce through, but we only had a tiny dab of sour cream so I had to come up with something totally new. I am so glad I did! The yogurt gives it a light tang and and the cranberry sauce formed a beautiful red ribbon of tart flavor. It is so so good: moist, tender, and slightly tart. I am eating a piece and swooning as I type. I am swooning, people! Swooning! If you have any cranberry sauce left in the fridge go and make this cake right now. Go! Bake!

November 28, 2006

Turkey Enchiladas


Filling Ingredients:
2 cups turkey, dark meat
2 cups broth
2 onions
4 cloves garlic
1 small punch of parsley (not cut up)
1 dried arbol chili pepper (or any other dried large black chile pepper)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
2 chipotle peppers packed in adobo sauce (it comes in a can)
2 tablespoons adobo sauce (see above)
4 tomatoes (canned)
2 teaspoons of tomato paste
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, combine broth, turkey, the dried chili paper, the parsley, 2 cloves of the garlic, smashed, 1 of the onions (cut roughly into 8 pieces), the salt and oregano. Bring to a boil and cook over a medium-low heat, partly covered, for 20-25 minutes until the meat can easily be separated out with a fork. Strain and reserve the broth then remove the parsley and chili pepper and shred the chicken mixture with a fork. Slice the other onion, chop the remaining 2 cloves of garlic and saute in the olive oil in a medium saucepan until soft about 5 minutes. Put 3/4 cup of the broth back in the saucepan with the tomatoes, tomato paste, chipotle peppers, and adobo sauce and cook for about 15 minutes until the mixture is quite thick. Stir into turkey.


Sauce Ingredients:

1 small can of tomatillo-based green chili sauce (8-10 oz)
3 Tablespoons Sour Cream
habanero sauce to taste (green, if you can find it)

Directions:
Whisk together sauces and sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Other ingredients needed for enchiladas:
8 corn tortillas
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1/2 cup frozen spinach, cooked and squeezed (to remove excess water)

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 375. Warm tortillas in the microwave or steamer for 1 minute or until they are pliable. For each enchilada, dip a tortilla in green sauce on both sides, place 3 tablespoons of chicken mixture down the middle adding one tablespoon of the spinach and a little sprinkling of cheese. Fold one side of the tortilla over the mixture and then the other side and place folded side down in a rectangular baking pan. Repeat with each of the tortillas. Pour the remaining green sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

Serving suggestion: serve with rice and seasoned beans.

My thoughts:
This very long (but easy! I promise!) recipe was what my husband came up with when I asked him to create a new recipe that utilized leftover turkey. It was amazing! Spicy and juicy. We rarely have eaten enchiladas before much less made them, but now I feel sudden a urge to experiment with more varieties. Maybe a red sauce? I only wish we had leftovers.

November 27, 2006

Apple Cider Spiked Cranberry Sauce



Ingredients:
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup apple cider
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Madeira
2 cinnamon sticks

Directions:
Place the cranberries, apple cider, sugar and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan and, stirring occasionally, cook for 20 minutes over medium high heat to reduce and thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the Madeira. Remove the cinnamon sticks and serve.

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My thoughts:
We created this cranberry sauce recipe to reflect the other flavors in the food we were serving: the apple cider and Madeira were also present in the turkey, and the gravy. This created a sort of flow of flavors in the meal. Even though each dish had very different tastes, they all had similar notes of flavor.

Apple Cider Basted Roast Turkey



Ingredients:
1 16 lb turkey*
1 cup apple cider
½ cup Madeira
2 cups chicken or turkey stock
1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces
1 bunch parsley

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450. Combine the broth, Madeira, apple cider and pour on the bottom of the roasting pan. Scatter the onion chunks on top of the broth/cider mixture. Meanwhile, rinse the turkey off with cold water. Place on the rack and position in the roasting pan. You can rub the turkey with a tablespoon of oil and salt and pepper if you desire. Stick the bunch of parsley inside the empty cavity of the turkey. Roast at 450 for ½ an hour then reduce heat to 325 and continue to roast for about 2 ½ hours, basting with juices from the pan every ½ hour, or until the juices run clear and the leg is easily moved. You may choose to tent the breast of the turkey about ½ an hour in for tender meat. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before carving. Remove stuffing balls if necessary and reserve juices to make gravy.

*you could use this same recipe using a chicken, just reduce the cooking time accordingly.

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My thoughts:
This recipe not only produces a moist and flavorful turkey with beautiful brown skin, but its drippings produce moist stuffing and an excellent base for homemade gravy. It also roasts for only about 3 hours, not bad for a 16 lb turkey.

Apple Cider and Madeira Turkey Gravy



Ingredients:
Juices from the turkey*, strained for lumps
¼ cup flour
½ cup Madeira
1 cup apple cider
1 cup chicken or turkey stock

Directions:
In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, whisk together the juices, cider, Madeira, and stock. Whisk in flour then bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened. If it is overly thick, you can thin it out with a bit more stock.

*You could, of course, follow the same instructions with a chicken to make chicken gravy.


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My thoughts:

We created this gravy to accentuate the flavors we roasted the turkey with and we were rewarded with a very rich and surprisingly savory gravy. Yummy over turkey, stuffing or mashed potatoes.

November 26, 2006

Pecan "Stuffing"



Ingredients:

1 ½ cups chopped onions
1 ½ cups chopped celery
½ cup parsley
¼ cup pecans, chopped
about 25 slices bread, torn
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon celery seed
½ cup chicken or turkey stock

Directions:

In a large pan, sauté celery and onions in the butter until translucent. Do not brown. Add to bread cubes in bowl and add sage, celery seed, poultry season, parsley and pecans. Combine with egg and broth and form medium sized balls. Place balls in the bottom of the roasting pan underneath the chicken/turkey and on the rack for about the last ½ hour of baking and cook until cooked through.

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My thoughts:
This year we went to my mom’s house for Thanksgiving, that’s nice, but we missed the opportunity to make our own food. So we bought a turkey and spent the day recreating Thanksgiving. I made this stuffing that is similar to what my mom traditionally makes. In my family, we don’t stuff the turkey or bake dressing in a dish. We made little balls of stuffing and arrange them around the turkey towards the end of the cooking time. You get the flavor of the bird without the risks of stuffing or the tendency towards dryness of dressing. Plus they are already in individual serving sizes, so it makes serving a breeze.

November 25, 2006

Ginger Spiced Sweet Potato Pie




Ingredients:
3 sweet potatoes or yams, peeled, boiled and mashed
2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

pecan halves for decoration

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, combine sweet potato, ginger, sugar, vanilla, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, condensed milk and butter until will mixed. Taste for seasoning, adjust as needed. Stir in egg. Pour into a prepared pie shell, it is excellent with pecan pastry pie crust. Smooth surface with the back of a spoon or spatula and decorate with pecan halves. Bake 20 minutes.


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My thoughts:
I personally don't care for sweet side dishes and thus rarely serve sweet potatoes in any form. In this pie, however, the sweetness makes more sense and is tempered by the spice of the ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. It is also a wonderful alternative to pumpkin pie around the holidays.

Pecan Pastry Pie Crust



Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup crushed pecans
1/4 cup ice water
8 tablespoons butter, cold
4 tablespoons shortening, cold
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Place flour, sugar, salt and pecans in a food processor and pulse once or twice to mix. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until it forms pebble-sized clumps. Add the cold water and pulse until the mixture forms a ball. Remove to a pie pan, and spread, using your fingertips, evenly across the bottom and up the sides. The dough will feel more like a thick paste than pie dough. Prick the bottom thoroughly with a fork and bake for 10 minutes then check on the crust. Prick again if it is rising very high and continue to bake an additional 10 minutes.
My thoughts:
A tasty alternative to traditional pie crust. Great with Ginger Spiced Sweet Potato Pie.

November 24, 2006

Two Mushroom Risotto with Shrimp



Ingredients:
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled
5 cups chicken stock
2 cups Arborio rice
2 cups hot water
2/3 cup parmesan
8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
3/4 oz dried porcini mushrooms
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, minced

Directions:
In a medium bowl, soak the porcini mushrooms in the hot water. After 30 minutes, strain the porcini mushrooms into a small bowl, reserving liquid. Wash and chop the porcini mushrooms and return them to the mushroom liquid and set aside. In a saucepan bring the chicken broth to a boil then reduce heat and continue to simmer. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan sauté the shallot and sliced mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter. Sauté until the mushrooms release their liquid and add shrimp. Cook until the shrimp is pink, then transfer the sliced mushrooms and the shrimp to a clean bowl and cover. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan that just held the sliced mushrooms and shrimp. Add the rice and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring continually. Add 1/2 of the reserved mushroom liquid, turn the heat up to high and stir continuously until liquid is absorbed. Add the remainder of the mushroom liquid, and stir continuously until the liquid is absorbed. Add the broth a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, and waiting until the liquid is absorbed before each addition. This will take about 20 minutes total. When the risotto is cream and the rice is al dente, add the shrimp and sliced mushrooms and stir until absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan.



My thoughts:
The great thing about making risotto is that while it is a bit tedious, is it is impressive, delicious and can be ready in about 30 minutes. This particular risotto is both comforting and very flavorful-the two types of mushrooms give depth of flavor while the addition of the shrimp keeps it from being too heavy.

November 21, 2006

Jellied Cranberry Sauce




Ingredients:
2 cups cranberries
2 1/2 cups cranberry juice
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 oz unflavored gelatin


Directions:

In a saucepan simmer the cranberries, 2 cups cranberry juice, and sugar for about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally, or until all of the cranberries have popped and left empty skins behind. Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup cranberry juice to soften in a small bowl. Whisk the gelatin mixture into the cranberry berry mixture. Strain this into a bowl or pitcher, mashing the pulp with the back of the spoon to release all of the juice and bits. Discard the leftover pulp/skins. Pour into a gelatin mold or cupcake pan for individual servings.* Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, unmold** and serve*** as a side dish or a light dessert.



* If you are worried about your mold or pan sticking or if you have the type of mold that doesn't open on both sides, you might want to lightly spray with cooking oil.

**run under warm water for a couple of seconds if doesn't release right away.
***You could also make this the night before you are going to serve it.


Spring this recipe!



My thoughts:
As result of many family Thanksgivings where it was served, I do have a secret fondness for the sort of cranberry sauce that comes out of the jar with the little can ridges intact. Embarrassing, I know. So to regain some credibility, I came up with this homemade version. It's slightly tart and has little bits of seeds and cranberry pulp suspended in intensely cranberry flavored gelatin. Much tastier than the canned stuff while still retaining that sort of retro feel. I actually have
individual-sized Tupperware Jell-O molds so I used them. They are awesome because they have two seals: a star design seal on the top and a larger seal for the whole bottom. When you open one, then the other, the suction breaks and the gelatin slides right out. It would also work well in a standard sized mold or cupcake pan. Fear the jellied cranberry sauce no more.

November 20, 2006

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November 18, 2006

Ham, Peas & Mushroom Frittata



Ingredients:
1 cup cubed ham
4 oz sliced mushrooms
1 small onion, sliced into rings
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar
½ cup parsley, minced
½ cup frozen peas
¼ cup green onions, chopped
6 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon hot paprika


Directions:
In a large, oven safe skillet, heat oil. When hot, sauté, onions (not green onions), garlic, mushrooms and ham about 10 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft and the onions are translucent. Add parsley and peas, stir. Cook an additional 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together eggs, paprika, cheddar, salt, pepper and green onion. Add butter to the skillet and stir. Pour egg mixture over the skillet. Tilt the skillet slightly and turn to coat the ingredients in the skillet with the egg mixture. Keep on medium heat and cook about 15 minutes or just almost set-the top should still look “loose” and uncooked. Place under the broiler for 5 minutes or until the top is just beginning to brown. Remove from pan and slice.

My thoughts:
This is so good. We took advantage of holiday sales and bought a ton of eggs and a boneless ham. We had barely made it in the door when I forced my husband to make me this frittata. Luckily he agreed, and the results were amazing. Our best frittata yet.

November 17, 2006

Cheerios Chocolate Marshmallow Bars



Ingredients:
5 cups Cheerios dry cereal
4 cups marshmallows*
1 tablespoon butter
3 oz semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Grease or spray a 9x13 inch baking pan. In a large pot, melt butter and marshmallows together, stirring** near continuously. When the marshmallows are almost totally melted, add the chips. Stir once or twice, then stir in the cereal, one cup at a time. Once thoroughly mixed, pour into the prepared pan and flatten slightly with the back of a spatula or spoon. Allow to cool, then cut into bars.




*mini marshmallows melt faster, but the big ones work just as well.
**spray a spatula or spoon with cooking spray to avoid a sticky mess.


My thoughts:
These are a good alternative to Rice Krispy Treats. Slightly hardier, but just as good. And if the Cheerios ads are to be believed, heart-healthy. The tiny bit of chocolate adds a bit of flavor, but could be easily left out if you are a cereal bar purist.

November 16, 2006

Mashed Potatoes Gratin




Ingredients:
2 1/2 lb potatoes, peeled* and chopped
1/2 lb frozen spinach
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup fresh broccoli
1/2 cup sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 onion, sliced
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425. Grease or spray a 3 quart lidded casserole dish. Bring a large pot of salted water and potatoes to boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender and easily pierced with a fork. Meanwhile, heat oil and butter together in a saucepan. When hot, add onion and cook over low heat until golden brown and near caramelized. In a small sauce pan or in a wire basket over the potatoes steam the broccoli, peas and spinach. Drain both the potatoes and the vegetables when ready. In small bowl or measuring cup beat together the egg and milk. Pour over drained potatoes and mash. Gently fold in vegetable mixture and the onions. Spoon into prepared bowl. In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs, cheese and paprika. Sprinkle evenly over potato mixture. Bake, covered, for 15 minutes then uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. The top should be lightly browned and slightly bubbly. Serve hot.



*depending on the variety of potato, it may be easier to boil the potato first and then remove the skin.

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My thoughts:
This would make a wonderful side dish, but to tell the truth, it was the whole of our dinner tonight. It does create a number of dishes to wash for what is basically a simple dish but it is well worth it. Lots of vegetables, but still homey and comforting. What could be better on a violently rainy day?

November 12, 2006

Chocolate Chip Peanut Cookies



Ingredients:
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup dry roasted, lightly salted peanuts
6 oz semisweet chips

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease or spray with baking spray 3 cookie sheets. In a medium sized bowl combine flour, salt, and baking soda. In a large bowl, cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sweetened butter. Once combined, add chips and peanuts and distribute evenly using the mixer on the lowest setting. Form cookies by dropping 1 tablespoon of dough on the sheet two inches apart. Smoosh them down a little then bake until light brown, about 10-12 minutes. They might look a little shiny on top, but that is okay, they will "set" as they cool. Remove to wire rack and cool.
Yields: approx. 30 cookies, depending on size


My thoughts:
It's a three borough day today: we're staying in Staten Island, we are going to visit Matt's grandma in Park Slope, Brooklyn and we are ending up at a friend's house for dinner in Manhattan. We wanted to bring dessert to dinner tonight and wanted it had to be some thing that could withstand travel. Cookies seemed to be the answer and these are amazing! A little salty and sweet and chocolate-y. The peanuts are less on the nose than walnut and something both adults and children would enjoy. I can't imagine why there aren't peanut and chocolate chip cookies in every bakery. Something Slashfood might address on their nut day?They are that good!

November 10, 2006

Chai



Ingredients:
2 cups milk
2 cups water
2 tablespoons cardamom, crushed
4 teaspoons black leaf tea*
2 teaspoons granular black tea**
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cloves
10 black peppercorns
1 inch clove of ginger, smashed with a knife
sugar to taste

*green label tea (ask for it at your local Indian grocery)
** red label tea (ask for it at your local Indian grocery)

Directions:
In a large saucepan, bring the milk, water, both teas and all of the spices to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or until the it coats the back of a spoon. Add sugar (traditionally chai is served rather sweet) and stir. Strain into 4 large mugs.



My thoughts:
While I am not a tea fan, my husband and the rest of his family is. We are up in NYC this weekend visiting his parents and sister and he made this for them. His sister is back for a 2 month visit from India, where she has been living the last couple of years. This is as authentic as he can make it- he learned from some Indian coworkers years ago and has been making it ever since! Try and find red and green label tea at your local Indian grocery.
This is also for Ivonne's Dishes of Comfort-it may not be my top comfort food, but it certainly is one of my sister-in-law's favorites.

November 09, 2006

Our Usual Vinaigrette



Ingredients:
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon on Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced
a pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:
Whisk all ingredients together vigorously; it should make a nice dark brown emulsion. Add more oil, vinegar, or mustard to taste.
My thoughts:
We make this salad dressing at least once a week, some times more. It also plays a key role in our "need to feed a crowd" or lazy dinner nights: we make a big salad and slice steak or chicken to serve over it. You can also easily double or even triple the recipe and refrigerate the rest.

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November 08, 2006

Triple Ginger Chewies




Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup applesauce
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 egg whites

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325. Grease 2 cookie sheets. In a large bowl, mix together applesauce, molasses, sugar and egg whites. Add both flours, crystallized ginger, ground ginger, fresh ginger and the baking powder and mix thoroughly. Drop in 1 tablespoon amounts on the prepared pans, leaving at least one inch space between. Bake 15 minutes or until the cookies are no longer shiny and look "set". Yield: about 18-20 cookies.

My thoughts:
I made these cookies last night (continuing my "sweets on Tuesdays" streak) and I think they came out well: very ginger-y, chewy and low fat. I was going to make just basic ginger cookies, but then I noticed I had a knob of fresh ginger and some (probably very elderly) crystallized ginger in the cabinet and decided to make triple ginger cookies instead. I am glad I did, all of that ginger kept me from the "where's the chocolate?" thoughts I usually have with these sorts of cookies.

November 07, 2006

Potato, Cabbage, Bacon and Parsnip Goodness




Ingredients:

1/2 head cabbage, shredded
4 small potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, cut in half and sliced into rings
4 clove garlic, minced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
4 slices of thick cut bacon cut into 1-2 inch strips
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon paprika (preferably the hot Hungarian kind)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Brown bacon in a large pan or Dutch oven. Scoop out and remove. Saute onions and garlic in drippings on medium high heat until they start to turn brown (about 10 minutes). Add potatoes, turnips and 1/3 cup water and some salt. Cover. Cook for about 30 minutes stirring frequently so it does not burn. Add cabbage, salt, pepper, paprika, caraway seeds, and 1/3 water. Cover and cook for another 15-20 minutes until the cabbage is tender.

My thoughts:
My husband, Matt, made this last night at dinner (he also wrote up the recipe for me, so I take no responsibility for its content) in response to my mother dropping off 1/2 a head of cabbage. It is so yummy, but we are a total lost as to what to call it. I thought it felt British (cabbage, parsnips, potatoes, bacon) but Matt insists it is more Eastern European (caraway seeds, cabbage, potatoes). So it has no real name, but it is goodness itself. The flavors compliment each other, and if you are squeamish about cooking in bacon fat, you can drain all or some of it and replace with less heart-stopping olive oil.

November 06, 2006

Cranberry Muffins


Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup cranberries
1 cup milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cottage cheese
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour or line 12 wells of a muffin tin. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil and cottage cheese. In a medium bowl, whisk together baking powder, salt, sugar and flour. Mix into the egg mixture alternately with the milk. Mix thoroughly. Fold in cranberries. Fill each well 3/4 of the way up. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the center muffin comes out clean. Remove to wire rack and cool.


My thoughts:
As you can see from all of my recent posts, I took my own advice and stocked up on cranberries while they were on sale. I wasn't planning on doing more baking today, much less with cranberries, but my mom called and asked if she could bring my grandfather over for a short visit. He's in his 90s and has never been to my house before, despite the fact that he and my mom lived on this same block in the 1960s. Anyway, I thought I'd make a little treat to have while he was here and give them some to take home. I wanted to make a recipe that was different than the cranberry bread, so I kept the cranberries whole, added some cottage cheese and used oil instead of butter. This resulted in a light, fairly fluffy muffin.

November 05, 2006

Cranberry Pancakes



Ingredients:
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup milk
2/3 cup halved cranberries
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 egg

Directions:
Whisk together the egg and milk in a small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside. Pour the lemon juice and zest over the cranberries. In the medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and baking powder. Slowly whisk in the egg/milk mixture. Add the cranberries and whisk to combine. There should be no pockets of unmixed flour or large lumps. Spray a frying pan or griddle with nonstick spray or melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Heat the pan so that it feels warm when you hover your hand over it. Add about 1/2 cup of the batter into the middle. Cook until bubbles begin to appear and pop. Flip. Cook for about 2 minutes. Both sides should be golden brown. If not, return it to the stove and continue to cook for 1 minute. Yields about 5-6 mid-sized pancakes.




My thoughts:
Cutting cranberries in half is tedious but necessary for this recipe. They are much denser than most berries and would remain hard after the short cooking time of pancakes. The trick is to cut them using a small knife and resisting the temptation to try and cut more than one at once. If you are too impatient for that, you could also pulse them once in the food processor to chop them up. This pancakes are worth the extra effort, not too tart, not sweet, just perfect. I like mine with butter and King's Syrup (developed right here in Baltimore) and Matt likes his with maple syrup and butter.

November 04, 2006

Cranberry Bread


Ingredients:
3 cups flour
1 1/4 cup cranberries, chopped
1 1/4 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon rosewater
1 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour one large loaf pan or two smaller pans. Beat together the eggs and sugar. Add the rosewater, lemon zest, butter and milk and stir. Slowly stir in the baking soda, baking powder, salt,mace and flour. Mix until just combined. Fold in cranberries and pour into prepare pan(s). Bake for about 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes, then invert and continue to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

My thoughts:
This is a surprisingly mild cranberry bread, the rosewater and zest sort of even out the tartness without being sweet. Perfect for breakfast.

November 03, 2006

How to De-Seed a Pomegranate




First, cut the pomegranate in half and lightly score-without piercing-the rest of the skin, in about two places on each half. This will make it easier to turn the skin inside out as you pick out the seeds. Fill a bowl with cool water. I like to use my largest mixing bowl so I have room to work without splashing. Place the pomegranate in the water.


The pomegranate halves will float so you have to to hold them under water while you work.


Carefully pick out each pip (aril) with your fingers while holding the fruit underwater, carefully breaking the white membrane apart as you go. I try to use only my fingertips and not my nails at all, so I don't puncture the pips and release any juice. You also might find that turning the skin inside out (carefully!) will release a lot the seeds without having to pick. Work slowly.

Drain the pips and remove any membrane still attached. You are now ready to enjoy your pomegranate! You can eat them as is (seed and all) or use them in a recipe.


My thoughts:
I love love love pomegranates. They are my favorite fruit by far and even if they are pricey, I like to get them at least once each year. The only drawback to the pomegranate is how messy it can be to get the pips (arils is the technical name) out of the skin. The juice will stain* clothing, cutting boards, tables, anything porous. I used to make such a mess that when I was in high school my mom banned me from peeling them in the house. That was before I figured out the underwater technique. There are many variations on this, some calling for you to remove the crown first, others call for you to quarter or even eighth the fruit, but I find this way to be the most efficient. Plus, the less you cut the fruit, the more whole pips you will end up with. Once you puncture the pip, the wonderful juice drains out, and you don't want that!

I always buy the Pom Wonderful brand pomegranates (even though I think searching out branded fruit is a little odd) because they are always large and juicy. You want a large, heavy pomegranate with an unblemished skin. Pomegranate pips or arils can be frozen for up to a year, and the whole fruit will keep in your refrigerator for a couple of months. Pomegranates are full of antioxidants, and each one has exactly 840 seeds.

*it also turns bright blue when rubbed with Ivory soap, oddly enough.

November 02, 2006

Mushrooms & Egg Noodles




Ingredients:
1/2 lb egg noodles
2/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
6 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt

Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Then add egg noodles and cook about 6 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, heat the butter and oil. Add the shallot and garlic, saute until soft and translucent but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute, stirring occasionally, until coated and cooked through. Drain the egg noodles and toss with parsley and lemon juice. Add the mushroom mixture and a sprinkle of salt and toss again. Serve immediately.
My thoughts:
This is a great side dish to fall back on. It requires little effort, is simple and tasty and great with a variety of main dishes. I really don't know why I don't serve it more. I made it for my husband for the first time today and he really enjoyed it. Egg noodles are so plain, it's fun to dress them up a bit.

November 01, 2006

Tartar Sauce



Ingredients:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons capers, with juice
3 tablespoons fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped dill pickle
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate 1/2 hour before serving. Excellent with fried fish.

My thoughts:

If you have only had tartar sauce out of a jar, this is a revelation. I am not a big mayonnaise fan but I love a good, savory tartar sauce. This was amazing with some fried fish. And I know that the picture makes it look like I ate a cereal bowlful, but it's really only about a tablespoon's worth in a tiny soy sauce bowl.