Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Salmon Ravioli with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Another great recipe from Cara's Cravings.  Cara has posted a few ravioli dishes that I have been wanting to try.  I love using wonton wrappers to make ravioli.  I made homemade pasta last summer with my little sister when she was visiting.  I had her cutting them and we laid them all on top of each other.  Of course, they all stuck together because I wasn't thinkin' straight.  And we were kind of able to save some and eat some stuck together pieces., was I frustrated.  

Luckily, my sister is not a picky eater.  She is amazing.  She told me it was still delicious.  But even when she was little, she was a pretty adventurous eater.  I like to give myself the credit for forcing her to eat weird things.  I can do that (that is, give myself the credit) because I am 9 years older.  At many points in my life, I was pretty cool to her.  Not sure on the status of that currently.

What I am trying to get I have been putting off making homemade ravioli because I am still mad at pasta dough.  Why do you stick together?  Why did you take me two hours to make and then ruin everything?!?!  So, using wonton wrappers makes me feel so so good.  

But really, it just makes everything easier.  I don't think I have ever ordered ravioli out.  I like it but I like a lot of other things a lot more.  So, I pretty much only have it at home when I want something different.  And those refrigerated raviolis in the deli?  Ew.  The dough is so thick.  And chewy.  And the fillings are worse.  Sorry Butoni.  Or whatever you are.  I hate you.  Seriously.  

Um, what was I talking about?  Oh yeah, so this is the perfect solution for a quick (er) ravioli.  And you can fill it something other than ricotta cheese.  Why am I being such a snot.  Not sure. 

But try this combo.  It is great.  And healthy!  I didn't exactly follow the recipe because I doubled it and was being lazy.  I used jarred roasted red peppers...again because I am lazy but also because right now they are cheaper than fresh.  If you cook them a bit with the rest of the sauce ingredients, you can't even tell.  I also just cooked the sauce in a sauce pan and used my immersion blender to puree.  And I never froze the ravs after assembling.  Mostly because I made the sauce first.  

I am tired.  Bye.

Salmon and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

6 oz salmon fillet
1/2 of a lemon
salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 oz goat cheese
4 oz wonton wrappers (for the brand I buy, from an Asian grocery store, this is about 20 wrappers)
2 medium red bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
dash of oregano, salt & pepper
1/4-1/2 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350F. Squeeze lemon juice over salmon and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Remove from oven and cool. Chop finely in food processor, and combine with garlic, parsley and goat cheese. Place 1 tsp of filling onto each wonton wrapper, wet edges with water, and press together to seal. Place in freezer while preparing sauce.

Preheat broiler to high. Spray peppers with cooking spray, place on a baking sheet, and cook under broiler for several minutes on each side, until all sides are charred. Remove from oven and place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap until
cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, saute onion in a small pan coated with cooking spray, over medium heat, for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic, crushed red peppers, oregano, salt, and pepper; cook 1 minute more. Remove skin and stems from peppers and place in blender along with onion mixture and broth; puree until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan to keep warm.

Cook ravioli in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. To serve, place a ladle of sauce on a plate, place ravioli on top, and drizzle with remaining sauce. Garnish with freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, if desired.

(Servings: 2, Prep time: 45 min., Cook time: 20 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Congrats to Scot for passing his comps!  Woohoo!

I made this coffee cake for those at his morning presentation.  I also made some bacon cheddar scones, which I will post later.  

So, this recipe is like 8 pages long.  And it takes about 3 months to make.  I am not going to sit here and be like, "it was really easy, you should try it."  I mean, come on, the ingredient list is seriously a page long.  Not that you shouldn't make it.  You should.  It is delicious.  And if you want a part-time job that doesn't pay anything, you should definitely make it.

Ok.  But.  The thing is.  I thoroughly enjoyed making it.  I made the dough, let it rise and chilled it Sunday night.  I also made the cream cheese filling, raspberry filling and streusel topping and chilled them Sunday.  On Monday I did the rest and then served it this morning (Tuesday).  Since it needs to be spaced out and things have to be chilled, it does make it more manageable.  

Sometimes I wonder how much time I spend in the kitchen per week.  I feel like when I am not sleeping or eating, if I am at home, I am in the kitchen.  Cooking.  Cleaning up after my cooking.  Prepping.  Or, if I am not doing one of those things, I am usually planning what I am going to make next.  Or blogging about it.  

If you are like me, you will like to make this.  

But give it a shot.  If you want.  Or whatever.  

Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

For the dough:
21/4 tsp. instant yeast
2 tbsp. warm water
1/4 cup sugar (13/4 oz.)
2 large eggs
1 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour (10 1/8 oz.)
3/4 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the berry filling:
11/4 cups fresh or frozen raspberries or blueberries
11/2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
13/4 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp. water

For the cream cheese filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened but still cool
2 tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/2 egg (I just beat it lightly with a fork and add about half)
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

For the streusel topping:
21/2 tbsp. brown sugar
11/2 tsp. granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
21/2 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

For the egg wash:
1 large egg
1 tsp. heavy cream or whole milk

For the glaze:
6 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
11/2-2 tsp. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the dough, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; stir to dissolve. Add the sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix at the lowest speed until well combined. Add about 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing on low speed until the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-low and add the butter pieces one at a time, beating until incorporated, about 20 seconds after each addition. Replace the paddle with the dough hook and add the remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour; knead at medium-low speed until soft and smooth, about 5 minutes longer. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough tightens up slightly, about 2 minutes longer.

The dough will be too soft to pick up with your hands, so scrape it into a straightsided lightly oiled plastic container using a dough scraper. Cover the container tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size, 3-4 hours. Press down the dough, replace the plastic and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 or up to 24 hours. Alternatively for a quick chill, spread the dough onto a lightly oiled baking sheet, about 1-inch thick, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, to make the berry filling, combine the berries, sugar, lemon juice, salt, cinnamon, cornstarch and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Continue boiling, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and shiny, 11/2 to 2 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl, cover and chill thoroughly before using.

To make the cream cheese filling, beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour and salt in the bowl of a mixer at high speed until smooth, 2-4 minutes. Add the lemon zest, egg and vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to medium and continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once, until incorporated, about 1 minute. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl and chill thoroughly before using. To make the streusel topping, mix the brown and granulated sugars, flour, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Add the butter pieces and toss to coat. Pinch the butter chunks and dry mixture together between your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly. Chill thoroughly before using.

When you are ready to shape the coffee cakes, remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into a log about 8 inches long and about 2 inches in diameter. Roll the log evenly into a 40-inch rope about 1 inch in diameter. Use your fingers to flatten the log slightly into a 11/2-inch wide strip. Use both hands to twist the strip of dough into a coil. Loosely coil the rope in a spiral pattern, leaving a 1/4-inch space between coils. Tuck the end under and pinch to secure. Place the coil on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the shaped cake with plastic wrap and let proof at room temperature until slightly puffed, 11/2 to 2 hours.

Brush the cake with egg wash. Spoon the cheese filling over the center of the top of the cake, leaving a border clear around the edge. Layer the raspberry filling over the top of the cheese filling. (Some of the filling may leak over the edges, but it won't hurt anything.) Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the cake. Slide the baking sheet onto a second baking sheet to prevent the bottom crust from over-browning. Bake in an oven heated to 350° F until deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the cake reads 190° F, about 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for at least 20 minutes.

To prepare the glaze, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, milk and vanilla extract in a bowl. Drizzle over the top of the finished cake and let set before serving.

(Servings: 8-10, Prep time: forever, Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Intermediate)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Salmon Burgers with Cilantro Mayo

"I would eat these over beef burgers any day."

That is what Scot said.  He isn't a meat only kind of guy (you know the guys I am talking about...when asked what kind of burger they want, they answer, "animal"), but it does still say a lot about these burgers.  They were reallll good.

Scot and I had a little incident last night with our beef burgers.  We were so excited to eat the burgers on the homemade buns, that we were both chowing down.  Then, we both realized that our burgers were completely raw.  And that we bought ground sirloin on manager's special.  And that we both had a stomach ache.  We spent most of dinner talking about how and when we were going to get sick.  Wondering if it would be a 12 hour food poisoning or just a quicky.  And I am a medium/medium rare kind of girl, so don't be thinkin' we are just babies.  It was like eating uncooked ground beef.  Whoops!  

Well, turns out, we could handle it.  We survived!

These salmon burgers were a refreshing change from last night's catastrophe.  First, they were cooked.  Bonus!  Second, they were perfect with the homemade buns.  Third, they were seriously amazing.  Perfect with the cilantro mayo.  It has that fish sandwich flavor combo that we all love.  

I didn't follow the recipe exactly...but kind of.  Hard to say.  I did add some chopped green onion and cilantro to the salmon mixture.  The burgers stay together pretty well, but you do have to be careful with forming and flipping.  If they really aren't working for you, add more panko or egg, as necessary.  It also helps to fry in a bit more oil than you might want to.  Kind of seals the deal.  

Salmon Burgers with Cilantro Mayo
from Annie’s Eats adapted from Paula Deen via Food Network

1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
6 tbsp. panko bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, grated
1 lb. salmon fillets, skinned, boned and finely chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
11/2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1-2 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil

For the cilantro mayo:
1 clove garlic, grated
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup cilantro
Dash of cayenne pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice

For serving:
Burger buns
Green lettuce
Sliced red onion
Sliced tomatoes

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the diced bell pepper, panko, garlic and salmon. In a small bowl combine the egg, soy sauce, lemon juice and salt. Add the liquid mixture to the bowl with the salmon and toss gently until well incorporated. Form the mixture into four equal patties.

To make the cilantro mayo, combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined and smooth.

Lightly coat a grill pan or skillet with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Heat over medium high heat until hot. Cook the patties about 5 minutes per side, until cooked through.

Place the burgers on the buns, spreading one side of the bun with the cilantro mayo. Top as desired with lettuce, onion and tomato.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 10 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Burger Buns

Yo, peeps!


Sometimes I have hard time figuring out how to start out my blogs.  Mainly because about 50% of the time I want to start "O.M.G...these were so..." etc.  But then I am afraid people who don't know me will...x their browsers.

Weeeeeellllllll, lemme tell you something.  Hands buns ever.  Burger buns.  

Making crazy things like hamburger buns from scratch is kind of like the best and worst idea ever.  The best because when these are baking, you will experience one of the most amazing smells ever.  And best because, they seriously make the world of difference for your next sandwich or burger.  The worst because you will have a hard time eating store-bought "whatever you make" again.  

For me, I detest, strongly, in a very strong way, the smell of store-bought breads (including flour tortillas, pitas, and ESPECIALLY buns).  If I close my eyes and nose, I don't notice it.  If we grill them, it isn't so bad.  Whole Foods helps me sometimes.  I get through it.  I try not to be a store-bought bread snob.  But I am.  Yeah, let's just be honest, I really am.

Can I make these every time we have burgers?  I wish.  I hope.  They weren't too hard to make.  Dealing with yeast (especially at high altitude) is always a little difficult for inexperienced bakers like me.  I actually had no problems because my blogging friend, Monet, gave me some tips.  She is also at high altitude and bakes all the time.  She told me to let the dough rise in a warm oven with a dish of water on the bottom rack.  It helps control the humidity (since it is so dry up here).  And she also explained that we high altituders can't just simply follow recipes.  For all yeast doughs, you want a tacky but not sticky dough.  Therefore, while it is kneading...add water and flour as necessary.  And I did need to add some water to this dough to get it right.  I also find that the cooking times are usually way different.  I baked these for about 10 minutes, and the recipe says 15 minutes.    Oh, mountains, I love you.

My only change is that next time I will probably make 10-12 buns out of this amount of dough.  It is also possible that I allowed them to rise too much and that is why they were so big.  But that is unlikely because my second rise only took 30 minutes.  I prefer a quarter pound of meat and these buns were too big for that size burger.  

We also had this wonderfully simple salad from smitten kitchen with our burgers.  It was perf.  It was napa cabbage, celery and radish with a buttermilk dressing.  

Light Brioche Burger Buns

3 tbsp. warm milk
1 cup warm water
2 tsp. instant yeast
21/2 tbsp. sugar
11/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
21/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
For topping:
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for egg wash
Sesame seeds

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt and egg. Mix briefly to combine. Add the flours to the bowl, and mix until incorporated. Mix in the butter. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 6-8 minutes. The dough will be somewhat tacky, but you want to avoid adding too much extra flour which will create tough buns.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Using a dough scraper, divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each portion of dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet, 2-3 inches apart. Cover loosely
with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise again, 1-2 hours, until puffed up and nearly doubled.

Set a large metal pan of water on the lowest rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400° F with a rack in the center. Brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake the buns about 15 minutes rotating
halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

(Servings: 8-12, Prep time: 3-4 hrs., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Intermediate)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Harvest Grain and Nut Pancakes

A while back, I posted a recipe for IHOP's country griddle cakes.  It is a yummy, corny flavored pancake.  Always been one of my favorites.  My other favorite IHOP pancake is the harvest grain and nut.  I worked there for a long time without trying it. At some point, my grandma told me that the HGN pancakes were her favorite.  My grandma had very good taste in food.  She was a grandma foodie.  And the best grandma ever.  So, I knew if she liked them, they had to be good.  I eventually tried them and they are!!!  

They are very dense, kind of crumbly.  They are nutty, but the nuts are chopped up really fine, so they don't add a ton of crunch (which I like...the non-crunch, that is).  They are good with just about anything, but my favorite is hot maple syrup or butter pecan syrup.  I have never been much of a fruit syrup lover, but I am sure that would be great too.

They are a little more difficult to make than a regular pancake.  I made them a few times when I worked at IHOP, but mostly I always watched the pancake guy make them because I stood right behind him.  So, a few good tips....When ladling the batter on, put a little on the griddle and tap your ladle onto the batter as you continue to pour.  It will help spread it out (and keep it circular).  It is thick batter so it doesn't spread out naturally like most pancake batters do.  Next, the pancakes need to cook on low heat slowly.  They brown quickly but take a while to cook through.  Unfortunately, you will not see those nice air bubbles around the edges.  You will have to flip when half the dough is still raw.  As opposed to buttermilk pancakes which cook mostly on one side and finish on the other.  These HGN guys cook equally on both sides.  Just check to see if they are a nice brown color.  Then, flip.  And to do it without being messy, you have to slide the spatula under quick and flip fast.  And do check to see if the insides are cooked on the first couple so you can get an idea.  

And remember, they are rather dry.  But not in a gross way.  In a crumbly way.  Kind of like cake.  You have to use the back of your fork to get all the crumbs.

Harvest Grain & Nut Pancakes
adapted from recipezaar

3/4 cup Quaker Oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup blanched almonds, can be heaping
1/4 cup walnuts, can be heaping

Grind the oats in a blender or food processor until fine, like flour. Remove oats from food processor and place in large mixing bowl. Add nuts to food processor. Pulse until finely chopped (or whatever your preference).

Preheat griddle or skillet to medium to medium low heat.

Add whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt to the bowl with the oat flour.

In another bowl combine buttermilk, oil, egg and sugar.

Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients, add nuts and mix well.

Lightly butter a skillet or griddle. Ladle 1/3 cup of the batter onto the hot skillet and cook the pancakes for 2 to 4 minutes per side or until brown.

(Servings: 3-4, Prep time: 15 min., Cook time: 20 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with or without Chocolate Sauce

I have been wanting to make a vanilla bean ice cream ever since I got my ice cream maker back in Decemeber.  Ice cream is kind of my dessert.  I am not a big sweets person.  Of course, I love a homemade dessert or cake or cookie or whatever.  But, dessert is really my last priority when it comes to my caloric intake.  I would much rather fill up on the savory/salty stuff.  On the other hand, I have definitely saved room for ice cream on one too many occasions.  

And I am kind of a purist when it comes to ice cream.  I will try anything, but if I get to decide, I rarely choose something with chunks of things in it.  My favorites are cinnamon and coffee.  And I love vanilla but never get it because I fear I will be judged for being big time boring.  

But honestly, there may be nothing better than a good vanilla bean ice cream.  SO amazing!

When I make these homemade ice creams, I have been going all out using massive amounts of heavy cream.  Which is honestly a huge part of what make them so good.  And in this case, the whole vanilla bean.  This is why it has taken me so long to make this...I needed a special occasion/excuse.  

So when my bestie was coming into town for the weekend, I knew I had to splurge.  She is a country girl and loves any cow product, anything creamy and really anything white.  Therefore, I made country fried steak, mashed potatoes and corn for dinner.  And we had this vanilla bean ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert.  Did I feel really fat after dinner?  It wasn't bad actually.  Quite comfortable.

The chocolate sauce has amazing flavor.  The only problem I had was that you need to heat it up and then let it sit for two hours to get it to thicken.  And even then, it isn't as thick as a typical hot fudge.  It is definitely more of a sauce.  But it is really easy to make.  And tastes delicious even if you don't let it thicken.  I might prefer a hot fudge but I'm not complaining.  

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
from The Perfect Scoop, David Lebovitz via Annie’s Eats

3 cups heavy cream, or 2 cups heavy cream and 1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Pour 1 cup of the cream into a medium saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan and add the pod to the pot. Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

Remove from the heat and add the remaining 2 cups cream (or cream and milk) and the vanilla extract.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, and then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 20 min. + chill time, Freeze time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

The Best Chocolate Sauce

1 cup (250 ml) water
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1/2 cup (160 g) light corn syrup, agave nectar, or glucose
3/4 cup (75 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
2 ounces (55 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the water, sugar, corn syrup (or agave or glucose), and cocoa powder.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it's just begun to simmer and boil, remove from heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until melted.

Serving: You should let the Chocolate Sauce stand for a few hours before serving, which will give it time to thicken a bit.

Storage: Store the chocolate sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Rewarm before serving.

(Servings: 2.5 cups, Prep time: 0 min., Cook time: 15 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Penne with Gorgonzola Tomato Sauce

I was very scared to make this.  The original recipe comes for Bon Appetit, so I had had some faith in the idea.  But blue cheese sauces sound mega nasty to me.  And they CAN be nasty, trust me.

However, since this was a gorgonzola tomato sauce.  I thought it might work  And it really did.  The blue cheese flavor is subtle, just the way I like it.  And, btw, I chose this recipe because Scot loves blue cheese.  And he was a big fan of this pasta.  

I put onions in everything.  And garlic in most things.  But dare I say that this pasta could do without both?  Never thought I would. For me, I thought the texture of the onion and garlic was awkward.  But it was fine.  I might even recommend grating garlic in and leaving out the onion all together.  

And lastly, I definitely did not stick an entire stick of butter in this otherwise pretty healthy pasta dish (as the recipe states).  I'm not afraid of butter but it really wasn't necessary.  I used half a stick.  I also used a 28 ounce can of tomatoes and used the juice.  And you only need a little parm to sprinkle on the top (not a whole cup).  Maybe I should write a new recipe?  Nah.  Just do what you like.  

Penne with Gorgonzola Tomato Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 14 1/2-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, drained, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried, crumbled
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
6 ounce Gorgonzola cheese
1 pound penne pasta
1 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in chopped tomatoes and basil. Cook until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, using fork, beat butter with Gorgonzola until blended.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain well. Return pasta to pot.

Whisk Gorgonzola mixture into tomato sauce. Add sauce to pasta and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Romano and serve.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 15 min., Cook time: 15 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Veggie Pizza

One of my favorite pizzas is the veggie pizza at Davanni's in Minnesota.  In college, Davanni's was pretty much gourmet food for me.  I was poor.  Wicked poor.  I remember that at one point, I started doing some private tutoring.  And I called my dad and asked him if I could use my money from it for spending money rather than putting it towards tuition.  He agreed.

So, I made $30 every two weeks for the 2 hours of math tutoring.  I had to walk to the house and it was a REALLY scary walk.  I held pepper spray in my hand, in my coat pocket...finger on the trigger.  It was the good stuff that turns the bad guys face blue, so that it is easy to find him.  But I didn't have a choice.  I could only do my roommate's homework for money so many times.

Anyways, the beauty of Davanni's is that our school had a deal with them and we could use our flex bucks there!  Talk about a dream come true.  I wasn't exactly a fan of the cafeteria.  I ate from the salad bar pretty much exclusively.  I was also going through a semi-vegetarian phase.

This veggie pizza from Davanni's was everything I needed.  The thing that makes this veggie pizza unique is that it has both black and green olives on it.  So delicious!  Everything is raw before baking the pizza, but since it is all sliced very thin, it works.  My version is pretty close.  

I was in a hurry when I made this tonight because I had some stuff going on.  I didn't have time to let the dough relax so I couldn't get it as thin as I would have liked.  But it was still yummmmmmy.  See how funny it looks:

Veggie Pizza

1 pizza crust (I used 1/2 of this recipe)
1/2 cup of tomato/pizza sauce
2 large baby bella mushrooms, very thinly sliced
5-10 green olives, sliced
5-10 black olives, sliced
1/4 green pepper, diced
1/4 red pepper, diced
some thin slices of red onion
1-2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp olive oil

Place pizza stone in oven and preheat oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees F.

Roll/stretch out pizza dough on a pizza peel (or parchment paper) dusted with corn meal. Slide dough onto pizza stone in oven and cook for about 2 minutes. Precooking the crust makes it much easier to slide pizza into oven after toppings are on. Remove from oven using pizza peel.

Top pizza. First, coat with tomato sauce. Top with all the veggies in the order they are listed above. Cover everything with shredded mozzarella cheese. Brush crust with olive oil.

Slide pizza back onto pizza stone and cook for about 10 minutes or until cheese and crust are golden brown.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 12 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Monday, May 17, 2010

New Mexican Green Chili Pizza

Back to my pizza stone.  I have been making Pioneer Woman style pizzas for the past couple of months.  I love her crust and the idea that it tastes better with time and is made on a baking sheet.  However, I also love pizza stone pizza.  Totally different texture.  Softer on the inside.  It is crispy on the outside, but in a different way from PW's crust.  Her crust has quite a bit more oil in it, which makes it thin and crispy.  The crust I used for this recipe is more traditional and the crispness on the outside comes from the stone rather than from the oil.  

I had the idea to do a New Mexican pizza because we were so lucky to receive authentic roasted, peeled and diced NM green chilies back in March.  Shipped to our door! Amazing!

This pizza was formed to spotlight NM green chilis.  In addition, I topped with frozen corn, thinly sliced red onion and crisp bacon pieces.  Then, to cut the heat from the chilis, I added little pieces of cream cheese and shredded Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar.  It was amazing.  Really, really enjoyed it.

The NM green chili really makes this pizza.  But, if you want to try it and can't get a hold of them, you could sub other green chilis or even some jalapenos.  I think you can easily get the same effect if you simply roast whatever peppers you choose yourself.  

I think it would also be great with sausage (chorizo!) instead of bacon.  

New Mexican Green Chili Pizza

1 pizza crust (I used 1/2 of this recipe)
2-3 tbsp of tomato/pizza sauce
1/2 - 1 cup New Mexican green chilis, roasted, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup of frozen corn
10 very thin slices of red onion
3-4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2-3 tbsp of cream cheese
1 cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 tbsp olive oil

Place pizza stone in oven and preheat oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees F.

Roll/stretch out pizza dough on a pizza peel (or parchment paper) dusted with corn meal. Slide dough onto pizza stone in oven and cook for about 2 minutes. Precooking the crust makes it much easier to slide pizza into oven after toppings are on. Remove from oven using pizza peel.

Top pizza. First, coat with tomato sauce. Then, cover with green chilis. Top with corn, red onion slices, crumbled bacon and little bits of cream cheese. Cover everything with shredded Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar cheese. Brush crust with olive oil.

Slide pizza back onto pizza stone and cook for about 10 minutes or until cheese and crust are golden brown.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 12 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Grilled Fish Tacos

Just added another favorite, to "my favorites".  These tacos are SERIOUSLY good.  I mean, I really love fish tacos so I am not surprised.  

I am into tacos that have no cheese.  The Korean tacos that I made a while back, also didn't have cheese.  It makes them so fresh.  YUM!

I picked this recipe to try for the marinade.  It is actually a really simple vinaigrette.  It is mainly lime, garlic and cilantro.  And it is really delicious.  I am excited to use it for salads.  In fact, I tossed the cabbage in some of the vinaigrette for these tacos (in addition to using it to marinate the fish in).  

As always with tacos, it takes some time to prepare all the different toppings, but 100% worth it.  

Grilled Fish Tacos

1/2 lb any white fish (I like tilapia because it is cheap)
8 small corn tortillas
1 mango, diced
2 avocadoes
1 quarter of a red onion, finely minced
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 limes
1 quarter of a small cabbage (I like red)
1 batch of Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Cut fish fillets into 1-1.5 inch long strips (1/2 an inch wide). Place in small dish and pour over enough of the cilantro-lime vinaigrette to cover (saving at least 1/4 of a cup). Marinate for 20 minutes.

Prepare mango-tomato pico de gallo. Mix together mango, 1 tomato, 1/2 the red onion, some cilantro and the juice of 1/2 - 1 lime. Season with salt to taste. Prepare guacamole. Mash avocadoes with salt and juice of one lime. Add two tomatoes, 1/2 the red onion, and a nice big handful of cilantro. Mix, taste and adjust seasonings.

Prepare cabbage. Thinly slice cabbage and toss in enough of the cilantro-lime vinaigrette to coat.

Prepare corn tortillas. In a small skillet, add a drizzle of olive oil and preheat over medium high heat. Fry corn tortilla in pan, 1-2 minutes per side. Cooking some of the raw-ness out of corn tortillas is KEY.

Cook fish. Remove fish from marinade and sauté fish pieces in batches in a hot non-stick skillet. They will only need 1-2 minutes per side.

Assemble tacos and eat! Can use leftover vinaigrette as more sauce for tacos.

(Servings: 2-3, Prep time: 1 hour, Cook time: 20 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

1/4 c. fresh lime juice (about 2-3 juicy limes)
1/4 c. white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
4-5 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. Kosher or sea salt
2 tsp. sugar
1 c. canola oil
1/2 c. roughly chopped cilantro, stems removed

In the jar of your blender, combine lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, and sugar. Blend until ingredients are completely combined. With the blender running, add the oil in a steady stream. Add cilantro and blend until the cilantro has broken
down but still maintains some of its texture. Serve with greens, on any type of Mexican salad, or use as a marinade.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

These were my second favorite cookies that we made earlier this week.  I originally picked this recipe because I read that they shipped well and that they get better with time.  And they really do!  We kept a few of each cookie around so that we could taste test them as the days went on.  And taste how they would taste when all the wonderful people got them.  You know...someone has to do it.  

I have always loved shortbread.  I am not sure why because I could care less about sugar cookies.  Especially if they are frosted.  They are usually WAY too sweet too.  You know those really soft ones at the grocery store, with the frosting and sprinkles?  Ew!  I eat one bite of those and I get a cavity.  So, maybe shortbread is less sweet?  Or maybe all the extra butter tricks me?  Or MAYBE I need to try making some good old fashion sugar cookies and see if I really do like them?  

Back to these babies...I quite enjoyed them.  They are something different and I just like the texture of shortbread (/butter).  And I love coffee-flavored anything.  And I agree with everyone else who has made these, the ziplock bag method is genius.  I totally used a ruler to make these perfectly square.  Although, I have to admit, I felt like using a ruler in the kitchen just wasn't right.  But a little obsessive-compulsive behavior is ok every once and a while.    

Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (plain, or a toffee variety), finely chopped, or 3/4
cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and espresso, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate with a sturdy rubber spatula.

Using the spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.

If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.

(Servings: 32 cookies, Prep time: 2.5 hours, Cook time: 20 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

Scot and I baked up some cookies and bars for some of the people in our lives that truly deserved a treat.  Including late mother's day gifts (Sundays are not good for shipping) and some for great friends!  We made four different cookies/bars and these were my favorite.  I will try to the post the others! 

While these were baking, I kept going on and on to Scot about how cute they were.  I really loved these.  They have kind of a muffin texture.  And I didn't adjust for altitude, because I never have any problems with muffins, so I thought they would be fine.  And they were.  They baked up so nicely.  

If you have never made a powdered sugar glaze, it is really easy...but there are not exact measurements.  You just need to start with the powdered sugar, add the liquid, mix around and add more liquid to get the thickness you want.  I made mine pretty thin, because I don't like too much of it to stick to the cookie.  I think it makes it too sweet.  But the thicker it is, the more the cookie will get.

And this recipe used the zest of 6 lemons!  Woah!  Lemons don't last that long after you zest them, so I made some lemonade with all the zested lemons.  You don't want to waste all that lemon juice, so just plan something to use it up within a few days.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

For the cookies:
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. lemon zest
1 large egg

For the glaze:
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the lemon zest and egg until blended. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated.

Drop balls of dough (I used a 2 tsp dough scoop) onto the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until cookies are set and just beginning to brown at the edges (do not let the tops brown). Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack set over wax paper to cool a bit before glazing.

To make the glaze, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Add more lemon juice if necessary, just until the glaze has reached a consistency good for drizzling over the cookies. Glaze the cookies and let the glaze set before serving. Store in an airtight container.
(Servings: 18-24 cookies, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)