September 30, 2007

Roasted Beet Risotto

12 oz beets
5 cups chicken stock*
2 onions, quartered
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Arborio rice
1 oz Parmesan, grated
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400. Place onions and beets (quarter the beets if they are large)in a oven safe pan. Add the olive oil, toss with salt and pepper. Roast until just soft, about 40 minutes. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and cube. Chop the onions. Meanwhile, bring the broth and water to a simmer. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan you are making the risotto in. Saute the beets, rosemary and onion. Add the rice and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring continually. 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 creamy and the rice is al dente remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan. Top with a coin of chèvre.

*or use a mix of water and stock with the majority of the liquid being stock.

My thoughts:
This is my now one of my favorite versions of risotto: creamy and mild yet full of flavor. Roasting the beets and onions intensifies their flavor and keeps the risotto from being too bland. I had some lovely Lively Run chèvre that was perfect for a little texture contrast. I served with with some steamed lobster and the combination was fabulous!

September 26, 2007

Rosemary & Olive Oil Cornbread

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or spray one 8x8 baking pan or an 8 inch pie tin. In a medium bowl, whisk together the rosemary, cornmeal, flour, baking powder and soda, sugar and salt. Beat in the egg, buttermilk and oil until well combined. Pour into pan and bake 25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

My thoughts:
Noticing a theme? $1 bought us the largest bunch of rosemary I have ever seen and I am trying to think of new ways to use it all up. I always think of rosemary as sort of a rustic flavor-very woodsy-and thought that slightly sweet corn would make a good foil. I love the results, the rosemary flavor really spread throughout the cornbread without being overpowering.

September 24, 2007

Rosemary-Apple Meatloaf: National Meatloaf Appreciation Day

1 lb ground beef
1 egg
1 onion, shredded
1 cup shredded apples (I used Fameuse Snow Apples)
3/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon Montreal seasoning
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce


Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl and with a gentle hand, mix together all ingredients EXCEPT the olive oil. Add some additional breadcrumbs if the mixture seems wet. Mold into a loaf and place in a standard loaf pan. Spread the olive oil over the top of the loaf (this keeps the moisture locked in) and place in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes or until cooked through and the juices run clear. Allow to sit 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

My thoughts:
I saw that Serious Eats was hosting National Meatloaf Appreciation Day on October 18th and wanted to get in on the fun. We have a ton of fresh rosemary to use up so I wanted to incorporate that into the recipe. I remember having a rosemary-roast beef sandwich with sliced apples that was fantastic. Why not recreate those flavors in meatloaf form? It is super moist and makes the most of seasonal ingredients. Best sandwich meatloaf ever.

One note: If you are going to make meatloaf, well ever, consider buying this meatloaf pan. It is a two piece pan, the top part (where you put the meat) is perforated and sits on top of the bottom pan so all of the juices (read: fat) run off the meat and into the pan. It cuts down on both the fat content and the grease factor of meatloaf.

September 23, 2007

Breakfast Quesadillas

4 eggs
1 hot chile pepper*, diced
1 small potato, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
sharp cheddar
flour tortillas**

Whisk together the eggs and the hot pepper. Scramble in a small pan, leaving large curds. Set aside. Meanwhile, in a small heavy pan, saute the onions, potato and zucchini together in the olive oil. Cover for a few minutes if needed to soften the potatoes and zucchini, then uncover and continue to saute until the potatoes are soft enough to eat. Heat a pan large enough for a large tortilla to lay flat. Place one tortilla in the pan and heat until warmed through and slightly browned, flipping once. Repeat. Remove from heat. Sprinkle the cheese on one half of the tortilla. Top with eggs, then a bit of salsa, then the potato mixture, then a sprinkle of cheese. Fold the plain half over to form a half moon. Cook until the cheese has melted, flipping it once, and the both sides are slightly browned, about 1-2 minutes. Remove to a plate and cut in half. Serve immediately.

*I used a green cayenne pepper fresh from our garden.
** Use 4 regular sized tortillas OR two large burrito sized
***Our favorite prepared salsa is Mrs. Renfro's Habenaro

My thoughts:
When my husband lived in Austin, TX (before he moved to the greatest city in America and met me, a period I like to think of as the dark ages) he often had something that is rather foreign to most breakfast sandwich eating East Coasters: the breakfast burrito. The idea of a breakfast burrito seemed a bit much to me and their close cousin, the breakfast taco, too unsubstantial. Then I was flipping though Isabel's Cantina: Bold Latin Flavors from the New California Kitchen by Isabel Cruz and came across a very simple recipe for breakfast quesadillas. Smaller than a burrito, but larger than a taco, it seemed perfect. Her recipe called for not much beyond salsa, eggs and a sprinkle of cheese, but it provided the inspiration I need to create my own more complex (and dare I say more tasty) breakfast quesadilla recipe. I created a quesadilla that that incorporated the potatoes Matt liked from his breakfast burrito days and homegrown zucchini and peppers. I think it would also be good with some spinach or sauteed mushrooms but I only used what is in season right now.

Speaking of my husband, he's on a quest to bring back the cocktail hour with his new blog, Five O'Clock Shakes.

September 21, 2007

Spinach & Onion Stuffed Potatoes

4 baking potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 cup frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
1/4 sour cream (low fat okay)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Bake potatoes for 1 hour at 400. Allow them to cool to almost room temperature, then slice lengthwise and scoop out the insides, reserving skins. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Saute the onion until just soft then add the spinach. Stir to combine. Allow to cool slightly. Pour into a bowl, add the sour cream, salt, pepper and potato and mash until smooth. Refill the potato skins and place on a baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 10 minutes or until warmed through. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
I wasn't quite sure what to call these. I've seen similar dishes referred to as twice baked potatoes, double stuffed potatoes, stuffed potatoes, over stuffed potatoes and occasionally (and erroneously, I think, since they are stuffed with potato and not just skins with cheese) potato skins. These make a good side dish (if you only eat one half) or even a whole meal. I like that they have a lot of spinach-it eliminates the need for a second side dish.

September 19, 2007

Watermelon Basil Agua Fresca

1 6 lb seedless watermelon
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup basil simple syrup*
juice of 1/4 lime

Scoop out the watermelon, using an ice cream scooper, directly into a food processor**. Add the basil syrup. Pulse until smooth. Strain through a wide wire mesh sieve into a pitcher. Stir in the lime juice and water.

Optional: freeze cubes of watermelon to use as "ice cubes" in the drink.

*Follow these instructions for simple syrup, adding one handful of roughly chopped fresh basil to the water and sugar before boiling and strain the leaves out at the end.

**A blender won't work. A food mill would be a better substitution and you won't have to strain it out after processing. Or just mash the fruit if you want it to be thicker.

My thoughts:
Literally "fresh water" agua fresca is water based drink infused with fruit. Watermelon is a is my fruit to use because it is mostly water-if you use other fruits, the amount of water you need to use increases. Since I don't have to add a lot of extra water, the flavor is undiluted. I love basil and watermelon together so I thought instead of just adding simple syrup, I made a fresh batch and infused it with basil. It gave a herbal note to the drink that really cut the sweetness and made it extra refreshing. Perfect for a not-quite Autumn afternoon.

September 17, 2007

Chocolate Chip Cookies v.2.0

1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl combine flour, salt, and baking powder. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sweetened butter and mix until a very thick dough forms. Use a spoon to fold in the chocolate chips and distributing them evenly. Form cookies by dropping 1 teaspoon of dough on the sheet two inches apart. Flatten slightly then bake until light brown, about 12 minutes. Remove (using a flat turner or spatula) to a wire rack to cool.

One tip: The center of these cookies should look slightly soft (almost as if they were raw, but they not be shiny) when they are ready to be taken out of the oven. The trick is to take them out when their bottoms are just lightly brown-generally at exactly 12 minutes. They will set up as they cool.

My thoughts:
I'm always tweaking my original "ultimate" chocolate chip cookie recipe, this time I used half dark brown and half light brown sugar and little bit more vanilla. I really think the cookies get better each time I bake them. I noticed that our local Safeway stocks Guittard chips, which I previously thought were just a West Coast thing. I've heard good things about their products and now I know why-they were some of the best tasting chocolate chips I've ever had. I wish the rest of their products were available locally. Yum.

September 16, 2007

Fairy Tale Eggplant in Ginger-Garlic Sauce

14 oz fairy tale eggplant, sliced in half lengthwise*
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch knob fresh ginger, minced

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the eggplant, cut side down. Add the water and cover. Cook about 2-3 minutes or until the eggplant is softened but not fully cooked. Meanwhile, whisk together the soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sake and pinch of cornstarch and a pinch of sugar. Pour over the eggplant and recover. Cook about 5 minutes or until the eggplant is soft. Serve as a side dish.

*or substitute sliced Chinese eggplant

My thoughts:
Who could resist buying a vegetable as cute as the fairy tale eggplant? No one I'd care to know. I wanted to make something to show off their diminutive size so a quick side dish seemed in order. I really liked how it came out-spicy but not hot. The perfect accompaniment to some marinaded grilled steak and rice.

September 13, 2007

Apples & Honey Muffins

2 cups diced fresh apples*
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup honey**
1/2 cup buttermilk OR milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
freshly ground nutmeg
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease and flour 1 12-well muffin tin. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, flax seed meal, egg, salt, nutmeg, oil, milk and the baking powder until a fairly smooth batter forms. Fold in the apples. Divide evenly among 12 wells in a muffin tin. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the center muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

*About 2-3 apples in a fairly large dice. Don't pack them in the cup or you might end up with too much apple and the muffins won't stick together.
**I used mesquite honey because we have a lot of it, but really, any honey would work.

My thoughts:
Party like it's 5768! Today's Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is traditional to usher in a sweet new year by eating apples dipped in honey. We did that last night (over the phone with Matt's mom!) but I thought I'd make some yummy apples and honey muffins this evening. They are really tasty and pretty healthy too. The flaxseed meal gives them a buttery taste without using butter and since canola oil is roughly as "healthy" as olive oil but is flavorless so it doesn't compete with the apple and honey flavors.

September 12, 2007

Potato Dill Bread

2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup mashed Russet potatoes, at room temperature
1/2 cup warm water
1/8 cup fresh dill
2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 oz dried yeast


Dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle with yeast and allow to sit 5 minutes
Meanwhile, combine the mashed potato and dill with salt in a large bowl. Drizzle with butter, flour and yeast mixture. Mix until a soft dough begins to form. Then, knead or use you stand mixer and a dough hook to knead until smooth. Form into a round ball and place into an oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise, about 1 hour or until it has doubled in bulk. Punch it down, allow to rise again for about 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Form into a round. Place on a lightly greased (or sprayed) baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until it is browned on top and sounds almost hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

My thoughts:
I bought a huge bundle of dill at the farmer's market and was at a loss as to what to do with it. Potato and dill are a classic combination but a salad sounded sort of blah. So I decided to take advantage of the slightly cooler weather we had today and made this tasty bread. It is super moist, and has a good (but not overpowering) dill flavor.

September 11, 2007

Creamy Butter Bean Mash

1 lb fresh butter beans*
1/8 cup parcel**
3 sprigs mint, leaves only
2 tablespoons yogurt (low fat is okay)
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1/2 large lemon

In a food processor or blender, pulse all ingredients until a pate like paste forms. Add more yogurt or oil as needed. Serve on crackers, as a dip with raw veggies or spread on bread.

*Or subsitiute high quality canned butter beans, and drain them.
**Sometimes called "leaf celery", it is sort of a cross between parsely and celery. You can subsitute flat leaf parsley and a pinch of celery seed.

My thoughts:
Fresh beans are back at our local farmer's market and I couldn't resist picking up a pound of butter beans. Techincally Fordhook lima beans, they are large, pale and buttery unlike their close cousin and my nemesis, the baby lima bean, which is small, green and sort tastes like dirt. For the spread, I kept it simple using parcel from the neighbor's garden, mint from our garden, and a zestless lemon leftover from making limoncello to really highlight the delicate flavor of the beans.

September 10, 2007

Potato Masala Dosa


for the dosa batter:

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup moong dal flour
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup yogurt
1 small onion, minced
1-3 green chilies, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon jeera (cumin seeds)
6 curry leaves, minced

for the potato masala filling

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 pounds of potatoes, skinned and diced
1 large onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-3 green chiles, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
1 teaspoon amchoor (green mango powder)
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon jeera (cumin seeds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons oil

For the dosas:

Whisk all ingredients together. The batter should be quite thin like pancake batter. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, while you make the filling.

For the filling:

Saute mustard seeds and jeera in oil for 2-3 minutes until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Add onions, garlic, ginger, and chiles and saute 5-10 minutes until the begin to turn golden. Add potatoes, amchoor powder, salt, garam masala, and turmeric. Saute for 5 minutes until spices are fragrant. Add water, cover and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft enough to break with a spoon and most of the water has been absorbed. Turn heat off and mash potatoes.

Making the dosa:

To a hot non-stick skillet or crepe pan, add a teaspoon of oil and a large ladle full of batter. Tilt and turn the pan to spread the batter into a thin layer. When the top starts to cook around the edges, run a pancake turner underneath it to loosen the dosa. After about 2 minutes, flip the pancake and cook 2 minutes on the other side. Both sides should be golden brown. Flip onto a plate, scoop some potato filling into the center and fold the pancake over to form a half-moon.

Yield: 4 filled dosas.

My thoughts:
When he found me at a loss as to what to make for dinner tonight, Matt came to the rescue and made this yummy dish. For these dosas he used moong dal flour as a sort of short cut-skipping the whole soak the dal and grind it up method. It came out really well, and sped the dosa making time up of this not quite traditional treat considerably. I especially loved the potato filling. I could eat a whole bowl of it. We made extra to stuff in naan tomorrow and I can't wait.

September 05, 2007

Pimm's Cup Jelly

1/2 cup Pimm's
1/4 cup gin
1/4 cup cold water OR club soda

1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 oz plain gelatin

mint leaves
thinly sliced cucumber*
thinly sliced lemon slices*
any other Pimm's Cup favorite: orange, lime, strawberries

In a small pot, bring the lemon juice, sugar and 1/2 cup of water to a boil. Meanwhile sprinkle the gelatin into the bottom of a medium sized bowl. Pour the boiling mixture on top. Allow to cool slightly, when pour the gin, Pimm's, and the 1/4 cup water or club soda. Stir gently. Pour into wide mouth glasses. Allow to cool about 1/2 hr then refrigerate about 2 hours or set but still "loose" . Stick 1 lemon slice and 1-2 cucumber slices in each cup, suspending them in the mixture. Top with mint leaves. Return to the refrigerator and refrigerate an additional 2 hours or until set. Serve with a spoon.

*You want to use the smallest lemon and skinniest cucumber (try an English cucumber) you can find.

Yield: about 16 oz

My thoughts:
Since trying Pimm's Cup a couple of weeks ago, I've become a devotee. Part of the appeal is visual-the pretty colored liquid with the lemon, cucumber and mint floating within. I wanted to capture this look and the unique flavor of Pimm's in different medium. What better way than suspended in gelatin? Sort of like a more adult, elegant Jell-O shot, these are perfect for a light dessert.

Why is this recipe called Pimm's Cup Jelly when it is not jelly or even jelly candy? "Jelly" is a common British term for what Americans generically call "Jell-O" or gelatin. Since this is a reinterpretation of the quintessentially British Pimm's Cup, it seemed fitting to use their term.

September 02, 2007

Teriyaki Pineapple Chicken Meatballs


For the sauce:

14 oz can pineapple chunks, in juice
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 inch knob ginger, minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped chile pepper (I used cayenne from our garden)
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon water
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

For the meatballs:
1 lb ground chicken*
4 tablespoons panko
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
white pepper

For the sauce:
In medium sauce pan, stir together all of the sauce ingredients. Cook for about 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat.

For the meatballs:
In a large bowl and with a light hand, mix together all of the meat ball ingredients, adding an additional tablespoon of panko if needed. Form mini meatballsusing this method or by rolling 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture between oiled hands to form balls. Place the meatballs on the broiler and broil (alternately, bake them on a baking sheet in the oven at about 350) until they are pretty much cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add them to the sauce, and simmer over low for about 10 minutes.

Serve with rice.

*I guess you could substitute ground turkey, but I kind think it's gross. I always find a bit of bone in ground turkey and Maryland is chicken country. I've heard though, that ground chicken isn't easy to find every where so do what you have to do. Lean ground beef would probably be okay too.

My thoughts:
September must brought in a strange wind. Today I was at the store and saw a box of Bruce Aidells' teriyaki pineapple chicken meatballs and was oddly intrigued. I normally don't like anything that smacks of 1950s pseudo-Asian/Polynesian "company cooking" and I abhor sweet things for main courses but something about this sounded kind of good. The easy way out would have been to just buy the box, but you know I couldn't do that. I couldn't even bring myself to buy a bottle of teriyaki sauce. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it my way. So I made up my own spicy pineapple-teriyaki sauce (I had the the ingredients right in the cabinet-who knew?) and used some ground chicken we had bought without knowing what to do with. And you know what, despite the retro overtones, it was really good. By making it myself I could make it the way I knew I'd like it: slightly sweet and extra ginger-y spicy. I don't know if it is going to make it into my usual rotation (how often does one have canned pineapple on hand?) but it was fun to eat.