September 30, 2015

Shrimp Miso Noodle Soup


Ingredients:
3-4 tablespoons aka miso (red miso)
5.3 oz beech mushrooms, roots removed
1 bunch green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
3/4 cup matchstick-cut carrots
1 1/4 cup diced okra
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb shrimp (small-medium)
12 oz fresh rice noodles
cilantro for garnish (optional)


Directions:
Whisk miso paste into 1 1/2 quarts water in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Add the mushrooms, green onion, carrot, okra and garlic and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add the shrimp and cook 1-2 minutes or until just pink. Add the rice noodles and cook 2-3 minutes or until the shrimp and noodles are cooked through.

My thoughts:
Poor Matt has been a little under the weather lately so I wanted to make a soup that would be soothing but not too heavy for dinner tonight. This recipe combined some of our favorite foods (okra, shrimp and mushrooms) in a light miso broth with fresh rice noodles. The whole soup took only about 15 minutes start to finish and was every bit as soothing and homey as I'd hoped.

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September 28, 2015

How to: Roast Beets


you need:
beets, greens removed*
baking sheet
foil



Directions:

Preheat oven to 400. Pull off a length of foil that is twice the length of your baking sheet. Line your baking sheet, allowing half of the foil to hang off the end. Place the beets on the foil in a single layer. Fold the foil over the beets and crimp close.



Bake 45-60 minutes or until each beet is easily pierced with a thin knife. Allow to cool slightly. Use a paper towel to rub the skin off the beets. Eat or cook with immediately or refrigerate up to one week.



*I used a mix of red and white beets (that pale guy on the end is a white beet. fun!) because that is what I had on hand. Smaller beets may cook more quickly than larger beets. If you have some nice beet greens leftover, I have a few recipes that use them.
My thoughts:
I keep a running tally of questions readers ask and when it reaches what I deem a critical mass, I try to do a how-to post. I haven't done one in a while but it was clear one was needed about roasting beets. I frequently call for cooked beets in my recipes and roasting is by far the easiest method. You can boil them but that takes just as long and you have a pot of boiling water on the stove that you have to make sure doesn't evaporate. I much prefer a hands-off method. I actually like roasting beets for recipes that call for me to saute them until tender. Sauteing beets until they are tender takes forever. I just roast up a big batch when I get a chance and refrigerate them until ready to use. Then I add them towards the end of the root vegetable cooking time or add them long enough to warm them through if they are the only root vegetable in the recipe. Added bonus? The skin slips right off of cooked beets; so you can avoid peeling the slippery, staining things with a regular peeler. Win-win-win.





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September 26, 2015

Chocolate Chip Yoghurt Cookies


Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup vanilla noosa yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 375. Line 2cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, cream together the brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder. Stream the flour into the butter/yoghurt mixture until a soft dough forms. Fold in chocolate chips. Place healthy teaspoons of dough roughly 2 inches apart onto the lined cookie sheets.
Bake for 8 minutes or until the bottoms are golden. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Yield: about 1 1/2 dozen cookies

My thoughts:
If you like cake-like, moist cookies, these are the cookies for you! When noosa first approached me about developing a recipe using their yoghurt, I immediately said yes because I was already a big fan. I love creamy, smooth, lightly tart Australian-style yoghurt and I think their flavors ( my personal favorites are  the strawberry-rhubarb and the cranberry-apple) are some of the truest found in yoghurt. They sent me a big box of flavors to play with but I was drawn to the vanilla because it not only comes in a 24-oz tub but it was totally flecked with vanilla bean seeds and had a really pure vanilla flavor. I've been craving chocolate chip cookies for a while now so it only seemed natural to use the vanilla yoghurt in a batch. Like I said, these are more cake-like than crisp; sort of like a cookie scone if you can imagine that! They were a big hit and super easy to make (and allergy-friendly--they are egg-free thanks to how thick and rich the yoghurt is!) with only 6 ingredients.

I buy my noosa at the regular supermarket and Target but if you are having trouble, check out their product locator.




This blog post is sponsored by noosa® yoghurt and SocialMoms. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. 
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September 15, 2015

Swiss Cheese and Black Forest Ham Stuffed Buckwheat Crêpes





For the crêpe batter:
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon canola oil
pinch salt

for the filling
8 oz Boar's Head SmokeMaster Beechwood Smoked ™ Black Forest Ham, thinly sliced
8 oz aged Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
Freshly ground pepper, to taste


butter for greasing pan

Directions
for the crêpes batter: Place the milk, egg, flour, oil and salt in a blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour prior to making the crêpes.

In a crêpes pan over medium heat, melt enough butter (probably about 1/2 teaspoon) to fully coat the pan. Pour 3 tablespoons of the batter into the center of the pan. Tilt the pan to spread the batter towards the edges of the pan. Cook until the crêpe is lightly browned on the bottom and the bubbles that have appeared have mostly popped, roughly 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully flip the crêpe over and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter to make 8-10 crepes.

Re-butter the pan. Return the crêpes one by one (re-buttering after each crêpe) and place 1 slice of cheese and 2 slices of ham on the bottom half of the crêpe. Fold the top over and cook, flipping once, until the cheese melts.

Serve immediately.




My thoughts:

I've been neglecting my poor crêpe pan so when I was given the chance to try out Boar's Head SmokeMaster Beechwood Smoked ™ Black Forest Ham, I thought I'd bust it out and make a classic: ham and cheese crêpes. I love smoked meat with stronger cheeses like Swiss and Boar's Head is the only deli meat I buy because it never disappoints. It was very lean but smoky and flavorful. Buckwheat (this buckwheat was ground at a local gristmill!) makes for heartier crêpes, which I prefer for savoring fillings, it makes it seem more like a meal than a snack. I served mine with a salad for that extra French flair.

Visit the Boar’s Head Smoke House Rules sweepstakes, and enter for a chance to win a gift card by sharing your own culinary rules for creating the perfect smoked recipes.




I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.



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September 10, 2015

Clam, Swiss Chard and Arugula Linguine



Ingredients:
50 mahogany clams
1 onion, diced
1 cayenne pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bunch Swiss chard*, leaves and stems chopped
1 bunch arugula, chopped
16 oz linguine, hot and cooked
shaved or grated Parmesan for sprinkling

Directions:
Preheat oven to 475. Arrange the clams in a single layer in a rimmed baking pan. Roast for 6-8 minutes or until the clams have opened. Using tongs, separate the clams from the shells. Discard shells and unopened clams. Chop clams and set aside. Reserve 1/4 cup clam juice.

Meanwhile, saute garlic, onion, greens and pepper until the greens are starting to wilt. Add the clam juice and cover. Cook about 10 minutes or until the greens are nearly fully wilted then stir in reserved chopped clams and saute 1-3 additional minutes. Toss with pasta. Serve with a sprinkle of grated or shaved parmesan.

*I used red Swiss chard but any Swiss chard will do!
My thoughts:
It must be clam season because my local grocery store had 4 different kinds of clams on sale this week! I bought mahogany clams because while littleneck are more frequently used in pasta dishes, mahogany (also known as ocean quahog, golden neck or black clams) have a slightly stronger clam flavor and are often much cheaper than littleneck. I bought 50 of these clams for under $8 here in Baltimore. I find chopping them makes them just as easy to eat as littleneck and the juice they make is more flavorful which makes for a tastier "sauce" for this pasta. It is tricky to find recipes using mahogany clams so I knew I had to post this! Both arugula and  Swiss chard are in season now so it was an easy choice when it came to deciding which recipes to use. Their robust flavor held up to that of the clams without overpowering them. I also used fresh cayenne peppers from our garden for a bit of spice but a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes would work well also. I love a thrifty recipe that includes seafood, don't you?

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September 08, 2015

Benedictine BTC Sandwiches


Ingredients:

for the benedictine:
8 oz brick cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 medium cucumbers, peeled and de-seeded
2 tablespoons onion juice*
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
pinch kosher salt
pinch cayenne pepper

for the sandwich:

8 slices white sandwich bread
3/4 lb thick cut bacon, cooked
8-16 thin slices of tomato
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced


Directions:
for the benedictine:

Finely grate the cucumber. Scrape the cucumber, juices and all, into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients. Using a spoon or mixer, throughly combine all ingredients until smooth. Scrape into a bowl and refrigerate at least 1 hour prior to serving.


for the sandwich:
Line slices of bread with cucumber slices, then top with benedictine. Top with tomatoes, bacon and final slices of bread. Serve immediately.


*made by grating onion and squeezing out the juice




My thoughts:
During our recent trip to Louisville, Kentucky we got the chance to try a lot of regional specalties, beer cheese, bourbon balls, Mint Kentucky Colonels (we toured the tiny factory where the last two were invented and still made today), and benedictine. We love going to what we call "ladies who lunch" restaurants-the type of place where the salad plate is tuna salad, chicken salad and pimento cheese- while we are on vacation in the south and benedictine is the perfect spread for that sort of place. It is smooth, creamy and flavored solely by cucumber, onion and the teenist bit of pepper. It was invented by Jennie Benedict, a caterer and restaurant owner in Lousiville, and originally only used the juice from cucumber, not the actual flesh! We tried a few versions of the spread while we were in town and our favorite was at The Cafe* where they turned it into basically a benedictine BLT. I was excited to come home and make my own version which my husband swears is better than any we had in Kentucky! It isn't the most attractive sandwich and a bit messy but it is one worth making.


*If you ever are in town, go there and get a giant slice of tuxedo cake to share.

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September 02, 2015

Watermelonade


Ingredients:
1-6 lb seedless watermelon
½ cup lime juice
½ cup cold water
¼ cup simple syrup

Directions:


Scoop out the watermelon flesh directly into a food processor. Pulse, working in batches if necessary, until all of the watermelon is pureed.

Strain the watermelon puree through a wire mesh sieve into a large pitcher.

Stir in the lime juice, water and simple syrup. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.



My thoughts:

You’ve had lemonade, limeade, and maybe even orangeade—but have you had watermelonade? This thirst quencher gets its flavor and beautiful pink hue from seedless watermelon. I like to make it with a hefty dose of freshly squeezed lime juice to cut the sweetness a bit. If you like it sweet, decrease the amount of lime juice and add additional water to make up the difference. It is a fun change from the typical soft drink, try it at your next cookout, barbecue, crab feast or picnic!
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