Thursday, March 11, 2010

Greek Country Bread

Here's the bread I mentioned in my crostini post. It's great for a beginning bread maker because it's a resilient dough. No, (like me) you might not know if the bread has over-fermented a bit, if it's under-proofed just a wee smidge, or if the loaf has fully tripled in size. But give it a try. Did I mention this dough is resilient? And it's gratifying as heck to go through the process. If nothing else, your kitchen will smell amazing. No worries, though, it'll be good bread! It's "light and billowy" crumb and irresistibly crispy crust will keep you reaching for the bread basket.

Pan de Horiadaki -- Greek Country Bread
from A Blessing of Bread
makes 2 rounds and requires about 5 hours (1 hour active time)

7 1/2 cups bread flour
1 t. instant yeast
3 cups warm water
1 T plus 1 1/2 t. salt
2 T plus 1 t. sugar
2 T. olive oil, plus extra for oiling pans

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour and yeast. Add the warm water and, using a spoon, mix it in just until the flour is moistened and a rough dough forms. Cover the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Mix the dough
  • Using the dough hook, mix the dough on medium speed until it is very smooth, soft and tacky, 10-15 minutes. If it seems too firm, add a Tablespoon or two of water. Add more flour if it's super sticky.
  • Add the salt, sugar and oil and mix on medium speed until the sugar and the salt have dissolves, about 2 minutes. At this point, the dough should tighten up and clean the work bowl. Test the dough by stretching a small portion of it; if you can almost see through it when stretch without shredding, you're good to go. If not, continue to mix another minute. And add more water if necessary.
Ferment the dough
  • Place the dough into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel. Let dough rise until it has doubled in bulk, about 2 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
  • Generously oil two 8-inch round cake pans. Divide the dough in half and deflate each, and shape into tight balls. Coat each with oil in the cake pans and cover with plastic wrap. (At this point the dough can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.) Let the dough ferment until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour (2 if it's been refrigerated).
Shape and proof the dough
  • Remove rounds from cake pans. Shape them into tightly rounded loaves and put them back in their pans seam side down. Oil tops and cover with plastic. (Again, you can refrigerate for 24 hours.) Let dough proof until tripled in size, about 1 hour (2 if it's been refrigerated).
  • After shaping the dough and while it's proofing, preheat the oven to 400.
Baking the dough
  • When the loaves have tripled in size and remains indented when gently pressed, lightly oil again, and bake for 50-55 minutes. After the first 35 minutes of baking, rotate the pans so the bread browns evenly.
  • When the loaves are done, they should sound hollow when knocked, remove from the oven and cool on racks.
  • Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mashed Potato Cakes

This is a great way to use leftover mashed potatoes. It's a Sara Moulton recipe. She recommends not adding butter or milk, etc. to the portion of potatoes you reserve to make the cakes. But I go ahead and mash all the taters into creamy, buttery bliss and "settle" for cakes that are a bit softer and less (and more!) shapely. These babies got curves..

Serve with roasted chicken , topped with a poached egg or sprinkled with scallions.

Mashed Potato Cakes
makes 8 cakes

2 cups cold mashed potatoes
2 T canola oil
2 T butter
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 t. salt plus additional to taste
1/4 t. black pepper plus additional to taste

  • Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, divide mashed potatoes into 8 portions. Form into 1/2 inch (a bit thicker if using potatoes mashed with butter and milk bc they will soften and flatten more) patties.
  • Mix the flour with the salt and pepper in a pie plate. In a large non-stick or cast iron saute pan over medium-high saute pan heat oil and butter heat oil and butter until it's ripple-y almost smoking.
  • Coat the potato cakes thoroughly with seasoned flour. Add to the hot oil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until cakes have formed a golden crust, 15-20 minutes. Turn and cook other side until brown, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if you like. Serve hot. Enjoy!
Note: cakes can be kept for a couple of days in the fridge and reheated for a few minutes under the broiler until hot.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Two-Bite Chocolate Cupcakes

These cupcakes are a great go-to for any occasion. They come together in a snap and, well, they're scrumptious. And they're mini, so go ahead and have two. Happy day!

Two-Bite Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

makes about 40

1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 t. instant espresso (optional)
1 cup boiling water
1 1/3 cups flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
  • Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake tins.
  • In a small bowl, combine water cocoa and espresso, stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a large bowl or that of a standing mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Turn mixer to low and slowly add flour, and then the cocoa. Mix until smooth.
  • Fill lined tins 2/3 full and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If you make regular cupcakes, bake for about 15 minutes.)
  • Cool in tins for 5 minutes, move to cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 box confectioners' sugar
1 t. vanilla
2-3 T milk

Beat thoroughly until smooth, adding more milk as necessary.

Note: Go easy on the milk if you are using food coloring because the color will loosen the buttercream.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Clementine Cake

I love clementines. They are easy to peel, have few pits, and are usually super sweet and juicy. I tend to buy them by the crate because I can rip through a few in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, the last bunch I brought home was a dud. After a couple of hopeful tries, I gave up; the tasteless, dry fruit was just too disappointing. Unable to waste 'good' food and unwilling to eat not-so-good food, I decided to dress up my wan clementines and give them new life... Here's a recipe for clementine cake. It's gorgeous with a dollop of thick Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey.

Clementine Cake
adapted from Nigella Lawson

5 clementines
6 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups almond meal (either purchased as flour or finely ground in processor)
1 t. salt
1 heaping t. baking powder
  • In a medium sauce pan, submerge clementines in cold water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 2 hours. Drain and allow clementines to cool to room temperature.
  • Cut clementines in half and remove any pits. Coarsely puree in food processor.
  • Preheat oven to 375 and butter a spring form pan and line the bottom with parchment.
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs and add pureed clementine pulp; mix thoroughly. Add sugar, almonds, baking powder and salt; stir until combined. Pour into prepared pan.
  • Bake 40 minutes. Rotate pan, cover with foil and continue to bake for another 2o minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack.
  • Enjoy!

Place a bowl over the clementines to submerge them, if necessary.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Curried Sweet Potato Latkes

These sweet potato pancakes are a staple in my little home. They are quick to put together (especially if you use a food processor to grate the spuds) and they're just plain old good. Not to mention versatile.. Serve on top of black beans + rice for supper or over greens splashed with sherry vinegar for a nice lunch. Add a dollop of sour cream or eat them straight up. Whatever you do, make a batch! They keep in the fridge and are ready for round two after only a few minutes under the broiler. I'm thinking - as I write - that I might top them with some applesauce for a sweet and savory dessert tonight. Perfect!

Curried Sweet Potato Pancakes
Adapted from Jewish Cooking in America
makes about 20 small pancakes

1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup flour
2 t. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. cayenne
2 t. curry powder
1 t. cumin
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk
Canola oil, for frying
  • Grate the sweet potatoes coarsely.
  • In a medium bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cayenne pepper, curry powder, cumin, and salt and pepper.
  • Add the eggs and just enough milk to the dry ingredients to make a stiff batter. Add the potatoes and mix thoroughly. Batter should be moist but not runny. Add more milk if necessary.
  • Heat a couple of Tablespoons oil in either a non-stick or cast iron skillet over high heat until almost smoking. Drop ¼ cup batter into oil and flatten. Fry over medium-high heat 4-ish minutes on each side until golden. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with a touch of salt and serve hot.
  • Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Crostini with Goat Cheese and Fennel

It's a dreary day here in NYC. Luckily I have a well stocked larder and don't need to venture out into the wet world. I seem to gravitate towards crostini when I'm scrounging around in the cupboards for something to eat (check out my 'Sweep of the Kitch Crostini'). Crunchy chewy bread is just so satisifying, especially when it's topped with pesto, cheese or caramelized vegetables. This particular crostini is loaded with goat cheese, fennel and a pretty little fennel frond for a pop of color. Oh, and the bread is homemade, so check in later this week for the recipe. In the meantime, tell me what your favorite crostini is...

Crostini with Goat Cheese and Fennel

1 fennel bulb, fronds reserved
1-2 T. olive oil
spritz lemon juice, optional
salt to taste
2ish oz. goat cheese
  • Halve fennel lengthwise and cut out the small core. Place each half on flat side and dice in the same way you would an onion.
  • In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add fennel, and stir to coat. Add 1/4 cup water, turn the heat to high and cook fennel until soft. Add more water as necessary.
  • Once fennel's soft, turn heat down to medium-high and allow it to begin to brown. Resist the urge to stir often. Stir only occasionally, after you have added a touch of water so you don't tear the vegetables. Once lightly browned, add salt to taste and lemon juice. The whole process (raw fennel to caramelized) will take about 45 minutes.
  • Spread goat cheese on toast and top with caramelized fennel and reserved fronds.
  • Enjoy!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Classic Hot Wings

For those of you who could care less about Valentine's day, but are lamenting the loss of football Sundays, go ahead and crack open a beer and soothe your broken heart with a batch of these excellent hot wings. This super simple recipe is adapted from Grace Parisi's, check out her variations: Thai green curry, maple-chipotle, etc., at Food & Wine. The active time is all of ten minutes, and you'll be ready to dig into these classically crispy and hot wings in just under an hour. Don't worry, it'll be kick-off time before you know it!

Hot Wings
serves about 4

2 lb chicken wingettes and drumettes
1 t. salt
2 T unsalted butter
2 1/2 T red hot sauce
  • Preheat the oven to 500°. Line a large baking sheet with foil and grease lightly with canola oil.
  • Place chicken on baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and toss with a bit more oil to coat. Spread chicken in a single layer and roast for 45 minutes, turning once or twice, until browned and crispy.
  • In a medium stock pot, melt butter. Add hot sauce and stir to combine. Turn off heat and add cooked chicken; toss to coat completely.
  • Enjoy!

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies

    These are excellent sugar cookies. They are nice and crisp, but their buttery richness makes them melt in your mouth. And they're just sweet enough. Sweet enough to bake up a batch for those you love the most!

    Sugar Cookies
    makes 4-5 dozen

    1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
    1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
    1 large egg
    2 t. vanilla
    2 1/2 cups flour
    1 t. baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    • Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light. Beat in egg and vanilla.
    • Turn mixer to slow. add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix just to combine.
    • Divide dough in half. Gather each piece into ball; flatten into disks. Wrap in plastic and chill 1 hour. (Dough can be double wrapped and frozen at this point.)
    • Preheat oven to 325°F. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured work surface to 1/8-inch thickness and cut out cookies (Use any shape you like:). Transfer cookies to ungreased baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart.
    • Loosely gather dough scraps (don't mush together) and return to the fridge until cool. Re-roll and cut out more cookies.
    • This is the time to add sprinkles etc., if you're not going to eat plain or frost.
    • Bake cookies until pale golden, 10-13 minutes, depending on their size. Transfer cookies to racks and let cool. Frost cookies, if you like, using the recipe below.
    • Store in a airtight container for a week or freeze for a month.
    • Enjoy the LOVE!
    Cookie Glaze
    makes 2/3 cup, enough for about 4 dozen cookies

    2 cups confectioners sugar sifted, spooned and leveled (like you would flour)
    2-3 hot water, milk, lemon or lime juice, etc.
    1 T corn syrup
    (1/2 t. vanilla, if using water or milk)
    pinch salt
    • Combine ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.
    • Use sparingly; a little goes a long way.
    • Have fun decorating yer cookies!

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    Nutella Pudding Pie

    This pie was inspired by World Nutella Day. I don't usually cook with Nutella; I'm beginning to wonder why not. This fine pie has a crunchy hazelnut crust, a Nutella pudding filling and is topped with (more!) hazelnuts and dark chocolate. It might be a fun anti-Valentine dessert. Not because it's not over-the-top good, oh, it is. But, as you're digging into the silky smooth and rich pudding, you might feel a bit of smug satisfaction because YOU are enjoying such a decadent treat and your Ex is probably chewing on cardboard. Pie in the face. Yeah, yours:)

    Hazelnut Pie Crust

    1 cup hazelnuts, toasted (set 3/4 cup aside for decoration)
    1 cup flour
    1 T sugar
    1/4 t. salt
    1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
    3 T ice water
    • In a food processor, pulverize 1/4 cup hazelnuts, flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture looks like coarse corn meal. Add enough water to form crumbly dough.
    • Press dough into bottom and up the sides of a 9" pie pan. Chill 20 minutes.
    • Bake in a 400 oven 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

    Nutella Pudding

    3/4 cup Nutella
    1/3 cup unsalted butter
    4 eggs, separated
    1 T sugar
    • In a bowl set over simmering water, melt the Nutella and butter; stir to combine. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, stirring after each addition. Remove from the heat and set aside.
    • In large bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then add the sugar and continue beating until smooth and glossy.
    • Use a spatula to gently fold in 1/4 of the egg whites to the Nutella mixture; then add the remaining whites and combine completely. Spoon into cooled pie crust and cool in the refrigerator 4 hours.

    3/4 cup reserved hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
    2 oz. chocolate, melted
    • Sprinkle hazelnuts over pudding and spoon the chocolate over the nuts. Refrigerate for another couple of hours. Cut and serve in bowls.
    • Enjoy!

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    Ebook for Haiti

    I have exciting news! Lauren, of the fantastic food blog Celiac Teen, put together an awesome Ebook. She gathered 87 recipes (one of which is mine;) from 71 fellow food bloggers who, like her, want to help in the efforts to rebuild Haiti after the devastating earthquake. All proceeds from the Ebook will go to The Canadian Red Cross and donations made before (THIS) Friday 2/12, will be matched by the Canadian Government. Each Ebook is a minimum of a $10, but feel free to donate as much as you wish. As of this morning, after only one full day of sales, 34 books had been sold. Matched, that makes $2080 total! You Go Girl! Check out Lauren's site to learn a bit more about her labor of love, and to buy a book!

    Saturday, February 6, 2010

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Footballs

    If you're not into football, shape this peanut buttery goodness into hearts and you've got yourself a sweet, homemade valentine.

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Footballs
    makes about 30
    adapted from Food Mayhem

    Peanut Butter Filling

    1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
    1 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
    1 cup peanut butter (I used natural chunky, but I think any would be fine.)
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
    8 oz chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
    • Cover a baking sheet with parchment and place a cooling rack on top of that.
    • Combine the sugar and cereal in a medium bowl.
    • Stirring occasionally, melt peanut butter and butter in a small bowl over (not touching) simmering water or in a double boiler. Add a pinch of salt if your peanut butter is not salted. Pour mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
    • Divide filling into 1 Tablespoonfuls, then form into footballs. Place footballs on prepared baking sheet.
    • In another small bowl over simmering water, melt the chocolate. Place a football in the chocolate and brush with a pastry brush (I like the rubber ones). Transfer bake to baking sheet with the brush and a fork. Continue process with remaining balls. Cool in the refrigerator.
    • Once chocolate has hardened, paint on laces (or hearts, stars, etc. with royal icing
    Royal Icing

    1 large egg whites
    1 1/3 cups confectioners sugar
    • Place egg white and sugar in mixing bowl and beat until glossy and stiff peaks form. If it’s not stiff enough, add another tablespoon or two of sugar.

    turd turd turd, turd is the word.

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

    Mango Browned Butter Bread

    You just never know what might happen when you enter the kitchen. I didn't plan to make this bread, but I'm glad for the accident. My inspiration: One, I had a ripe mango resting it's pretty little self on the counter (not to mention the lone, rapidly darkening and, decidedly, un-pretty banana). And two, Meg of Queenie Takes Manhattan was gushing over a gorgeous browned butter pound cake she'd made. I wanted that buttery nuttiness and why the hell not throw in a touch of sweet mango. Shake what your mama gave you...

    Mango Browned Butter Quick Bread

    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
    3 eggs
    1/4 cup canola oil
    1 ripe banana
    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1 t. baking powder
    1 t. baking soda
    1 1/2 t. ground ginger
    1 t. ground cinnamon
    1/4 t. salt
    1 mango, peeled, pitted and diced
    zest of 1 lime
    3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
    • Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a loaf pan.
    • In a small saute pan over medium-high heat, cook butter until it has browned and smells nutty. Remove from heat.
    • Whisk together the eggs and oil and set aside.
    • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, spices and salt.
    • Slowly add the slightly cooled butter to the egg and oil mixture; pour over the dry ingredients and mix until blended. Dough will be thick.
    • Add mango, zest and nuts and stir to combine. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
    • Bake, on a sheet pan in case there is spillage, for about 1 1/2 hours, until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. If you remember, rotate pan half way through baking time.
    • Cool for 5 minutes in pan and then transfer loaf to a cooling rack. Once cool, store in the refrigerator.
    • Enjoy!

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    Sausage Ragu Take Two: Lunch

    I love a good sandwich. Seriously, LOVE. But when I need something to sustain me through an evening on my feet at work, I want a meal. Given my druthers, I like to eat pasta for that (any) meal. Well color me kelly green and call me lucky, last night I made a luscious sausage ragu and the LEFTOVERS might have well been made to match with linguine, a ton of cracked black pepper and a bit of Pecorino cheese. I might just skip to the subway. Probably not. It was a damn good bowl of pasta, though.

    If you are in NYC, check out Flying Pigs Farm at the Union Square Greenmarket. Happy pigs!

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    Sausage Ragu with Polenta

    This stick-to-your-ribs meal is perfect for mid-winter nights. It's serious comfort food, pairing well with a glass of red wine and your favorite pajamas. The creamy polenta is a nice counterpoint to the rich ragu, but if polenta's not your thing, serve it with any type of pasta or rice. An arugula salad with a bracing vinaigrette is a fresh way to finish the meal. No dessert necessary.

    Sausage Ragu

    serves 4, generously

    olive oil
    1 lb. sausage, removed from casings
    1 carrot, diced
    1 red onion, diced
    5 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed or minced
    1/2 cup white wine
    1 28 oz. can peeled tomatoes
    bay leaf
    dried red pepper, crushed
    2 thyme sprigs
    1/2 t. dried sage
    salt and pepper to taste
    • Heat a large saucepan over high heat. Add oil, allow it to shimmer, and add sausage. Cook, breaking links up with the back of a wooden spoon, until beginning to brown. Drain excess fat, if necessary.
    • Add carrot, onion and garlic and stir to coat. Add wine and tomatoes with their juices and bring to a boil.
    • Turn heat to low, add herbs and a pinch salt, and cook slowly, stirring frequently, for about an hour.
    • Season to taste and serve with polenta (recipe below) or pasta.
    serves 4

    1 1/2 cups water
    1/4 t. salt
    6 oz coarse cornmeal or grits
    2 T butter
    1 oz. Pecorino cheese, finely grated
    salt and pepper to taste

    Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add salt. Slowly pour cornmeal into water, stirring constantly and vigorously with a wooden spoon. When mixture starts to come together and bubble, turn heat as low as possible and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4o minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese. Season to taste.

    Thursday, January 28, 2010

    Ice Cream Sandwich

    One batch, two cookies with a scoop of ice cream. That's what I call a sandwich.

    Wednesday, January 27, 2010

    One Batch, Two Cookies

    Last night I was hankering for a cookie. No, I was jonesing. So much so, I finally broke down and bought a SKOR bar. Vanilla ice cream with homemade butterscotch sauce wasn't gonna cut it. I wanted crunch and chew. I needed it! While I was securing my temporary fix at the grocery store, I plotted my cookie making operation. Stocked in the fruit and nut department, I grabbed some malt powder inspired by the WHOPPERS in the candy aisle. Why make one kind of cookie when I could just as easily make two, I wondered innocently? C is for COOKIES.

    Malted Chocolate Chip + Oatmeal, Almond and Currant

    One Batch, Two Cookies
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 t. baking soda
    1 t. salt
    1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cold and cut into pieces
    1 cup light brown sugar
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1 t. vanill
    2 large eggs

    1/2 cup malt powder
    1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
    1 cup oatmeal
    1/2 cup sliced almonds
    1/4 cup currants, soaked in hot water 15 minutes and drained

    • Preheat oven to 350 F, place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and lightly grease or line baking sheets with parchment.
    • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
    • Using and electric mixer, beat the butter until it's light and creamy. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy. Make sure to periodically scrape the sides of the bowl.
    • Add the vanilla and then the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Again, scrape the bowl.
    • Turn the mixer to low and add the flour in three additions and beating until just combined.
    • At this point, divide the batter putting half into another bowl. To one batch add the malt and chocolate chips and the oatmeal, almonds and currants to the other. Or just add what ever you like;) Gently combine.
    • Scoop onto a baking sheet, leaving a couple of inches between cookies and , depending on their size, bake for 8-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
    • Enjoy!

    Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    Spicy Beet and Carrot Slaw

    This carrot and beet slaw is raw and spicy. RAW AND SPICY. And it'll make you feel like a million bucks. It packs heat from paprika and cayenne, has a touch of warming cinnamon and a slight tang from cumin. The sweet, earthy vegetables are bright and fresh and don't get lost behind the flavorful dressing. Beet-Carrot, it's like a one-two nutritional punch. Be a man, eat your uber-vegetables.

    Spicy Beet and Carrot Slaw

    serves 2

    2 large or 4 small beets, peeled
    2 large carrots, washed
    1/2 t. cumin
    1/2 t. paprika
    1/4 t. cinnamon
    1/4 t cayenne
    1/4 t. salt
    juice of half a lemon
    1/8 cup olive oil
    • Grate the beets and carrots using a food processor with grater attachment or the coarse side of a box grater. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
    • In a small bowl, combine the cumin, paprika, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and lemon juice. Stir until well blended. Add olive oil in a slow stream, whisking to combine, using more or less depending on your taste.
    • Add vinaigrette to shredded beets and carrots; mix well. Season to taste.
    • Enjoy!

    Monday, January 25, 2010

    Almond Parsley Pesto

    I am, decidedly, not going to brave the grocery store in this blustery wet weather. This 'Sweep of the Kitch' crostini will brighten even the grayest of days. Mine is a quick pesto made with parsley, almonds and jalapeno, but go ahead and substitute any nuts, herbs, or whatever else might be past it's prime in the fridge.

    'Sweep of the Kitch' Crostini
    serves 2

    1 1/2 bunch parsley, washed
    1 handful raw almonds
    1 jalapeno, coarsely chopped
    olive oil
    lemon juice
    4 pieces toast
    • Place parsley, almonds and jalapeno in food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Add oil in a slow stream and continue to process until pesto loosens slightly. Feel free to use a bit of water in place of the oil for a lighter pesto.
    • Add lemon juice and salt to taste. Start with a little of each and continue to add until you are satisfied with the flavors. Allow to sit for about 10-15 minutes so the flavors come together.
    • Serve on toast with a drizzle of oil.
    • Enjoy!

    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    Lentil Soup

    This soup is restorative. It makes me feel healthy and strong; ready for another long work week and these short, dark January days. But don't, for one moment, think that eating this lively lentil soup is like taking your medicine. There will be no need to hold your nose to get it down just because it's good for you. You'll want to slurp with abandon. Chances are you'll go back for more. Good! Fiberific, iron rich, and shamelessly full of vitamins and minerals - that lentil is one mighty legume!

    Lentil Soup

    olive oil
    1 bunch celery
    4 or 5 carrots, chopped
    2 or 3, onions, diced
    1/2 -3/4 t. red pepper flakes
    1 lb. lentils
    hot water (vegetable or chicken stock are great too)
    2 bay leaves
    3 sprigs fresh thyme
    cider vinegar to taste
    salt and black pepper to taste
    • Leaving the bunch celery in tact, cut it (leaves and all) crosswise about 1/4 inch thick.
    • Over a moderate flame, heat a large stock pot and coat with oil. Add the celery, carrot and onions and cook until softened, 15-20 minutes. Add red pepper, and salt to taste.
    • Add lentils, stir to coat with oil. Add hot water to cover by about two inches (your pinkie is a good measuring stick). Increase heat to high and, stirring occasionally, bring to a boil. Add bay leaves, thyme and a pinch salt.
    • Once bubbling, lower heat to medium-low, and cook until the lentils are soft and the soup has thickened, 25-30 minutes. Remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
    • Add a few good grinds of black pepper and enough vinegar to brighten soup. Salt, if necessary.
    • Enjoy!

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Mini Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

    Try these cupcakes...they'll make you smile! Happy Friday!

    Mini Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

    adapted from Martha Stewart
    makes 48

    1 3/4 c. flour
    3/4 T baking powder
    1/2 - 3/4 t. salt
    1/4 t. baking soda
    1/2 c. sour cream
    1/2 t. vanilla extract
    1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
    1 1/3 c. sugar
    2/3 c. natural, creamy peanut butter
    3 large eggs

    6 oz. cream cheese
    1/3 c. confectioners sugar
    1/2 t. salt
    1 c. peanut butter
    1/2 t. vanilla extract
    1/2 c. heavy cream
    fruit jam, for topping

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line mini muffin tins with paper liners.
    • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and soda.
    • In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and vanilla.
    • Using an electric mixer on medium-high, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add peanut butter and mix until incorporated. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry.
    • Divide batter among muffin cups using a 3/4 oz. scoop or two tablespoons. Bake cupcakes until a toothpick comes out clean, about 11-12 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Once completely cooled, frost cupcakes.
    • Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and confectioners sugar. Add salt, peanut butter and vanilla. Mix until incorporated and transfer to a large blow.
    • Again in the mixer, whisk cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture.
    • Pipe frosting in a ring around the outside edges of the cupcakes, leaving a space at the center about the size of a penny. Fill that space with a dab of jam.
    • Enjoy!
    If you want to make standard cupcakes, follow the same steps and bake them for about 20 minutes.
    Store cupcakes in the fridge for 3-4 days.

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    Black bean soup two ways

    I love to cook and often become happily obsessed with trying new recipes. That said, I can also be rather lazy. When the slug in me wins out (but my appetite remains voracious), my saving grace is the much maligned leftover. I LOVE leftovers!! I cook, for example, a big batch of spicy black bean soup and freeze a portion of it for future hectic Wednesdays or boozy football Sundays. I eat said soup, eat it again (and probably again-I have a high tolerance for repetition and, luckily, so does my boyfriend). Then, when I finally tire of eating the same old delicious soup, I use it to make a brand-spanking-new dish. Enter baked potato skins with black beans and three cheeses. Then I retire to the couch.

    Chipotle Black Bean Soup
    Serves a small army

    olive oil
    2 large onions, chopped
    1 red bell pepper, chopped
    1 7.5 oz. can chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped (this will be messy:)
    4 15 oz. cans black beans, drained, and divided in half
    2 28 oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes
    hot water
    2 bay leaves
    4-5 sprigs cilantro, plus more for garnish
    salt to taste

    optional garnish: chopped cilantro, cheese (I like cojito or feta), sour cream, avocado, toasted pepitas, etc.
    • In a large stock pot over moderate heat, use enough oil to coat bottom and cook onions and peppers until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Salt onion mixture to taste.
    • Add chipotles and adobo sauce, and then half the black beans. Stir to coat beans with oil and adobo. Again, add salt to taste.
    • Add tomatoes and enough hot water to cover beans by about two inches (your pinkie is a good measuring stick). Turn heat to high and bring to a slow boil, stirring often.
    • Once soup has boiled, turn heat down to medium low, add bay leaves and cilantro and cook for about an hour. Again, salt to taste.
    • Remove bay leaves and cilantro and puree soup until it's almost smooth. I highly recommend that you get an immersion blender, if you don't have one, because they are super handy. If not, puree the soup in batches in your standing blender. Make sure not to fill your blender more than half way unless you want to wear your soup!
    • Add remaining black beans and cook until they're warmed through, 15-20 minutes. Add salt, one last time, if necessary.
    • Serve hot and enjoy!
    A quick note: Because you salt the soup a number of times while you are making it, don't be heavy handed; a small pinch will do. Most importantly, make sure to taste throughout the process. And, trust those taste buds of yours!

    Freeze soup, cooled completely, for up to six months. Defrost under running hot water.

    Turn your soup into...
    Baked Potato Skins with Black Beans and Three Cheeses
    Serves 2-4

    1 1/2 cup black bean soup
    4 baked potato skin halves leftover from making hash browns
    1/4 cup each, shredded and combined: cheddar and jack cheese
    1/4 cup feta cheese
    cilantro, chopped
    • In a small sauce pan over moderate heat, cook down the black bean soup until it has thickened and you have about one cup
    • Preheat broiler
    • Place potato skins in an oven safe baking dish. Fill each potato with one quarter of the black beans. Cover beans evenly with the cheddar and jack cheeses. Broil until cheese is bubbling and starting to brown.
    • Top baked potato skins with feta cheese and cilantro, serve hot and enjoy!

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    Hash browns

    I like to bake the potatoes the night before (as I am NOT a morning person). With this step taken care of, the hash browns will take all of 15 minutes. Order up!

    Hash browns
    serves 2

    2 baking potatoes, scrubbed and dried
    butter or oil
    1 medium onion, chopped
    salt and pepper to taste
    • Preheat heat oven to 350. Prick spuds a few times with a fork and brush lightly with oil and bake for about an hour, or until soft to the touch. Allow to cool enough to handle, cut in half and scrap insides into a small bowl. Set skins aside for another use.
    • In a small saute pan over moderate heat, cook until soft, about 7-8 minutes. Increase heat to high and add potatoes and season well with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown, 5-6 minutes, flip and cook for another 5ish minutes. Serve hot.
    • Enjoy!
    Use the leftover potato skins to make Baked Potato Skins with Black Beans and Three Cheeses

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Mint Brownies

    New Year's resolutions be damned (or at least tempered). "They" say that if you completely deprive yourself you are less likely to stick to your diet. It's better to be moderate. Well, there's nothing moderate about these decadent mint brownies -read cream- but their beauty lies in their richness. No joke. One chocolaty bite leaves me satisfied and I don't feel the NEED to sneak another one (you know, the "Once you pop, you can't stop" syndrome). Whatever, maybe I am justifying, but I like to think that this minimal indulgence helps me ultimately tow the line. Anyway you couch it, these brownies are heavenly!

    Mint Brownies
    adapted from
    makes about 6 dozen

    Brownie layer

    1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
    10 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
    1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
    3 eggs, lightly beaten
    1 1/4 t. vanilla
    3/4 c. flour
    1/4 c. plus 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
    3/4 t. salt
    Mint ganache
    1/2 c. heavy cream
    10 oz white chocolate, chopped
    2 T green crème de menthe
    1 t. peppermint extract
    Chocolate ganache
    1 c. heavy cream
    10 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

    Brownie layer
    • Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375. Lightly butter a 13 x 9 inch baking pan and line with 2 crisscrossed sheets of parchment or foil, leaving a 2 inch overhang on all sides. Butter parchment or foil.
    • Melt butter and chocolate with brown sugar in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in eggs and vanilla until combined. Whisk in flour, cocoa, and salt until just combined.
    • Spread batter evenly in baking pan and bake until set and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.
    Mint ganache
    • Bring cream to a simmer in a saucepan and remove from heat. Pour cream over white chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Stir in crème de menthe and extract and chill, covered, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 1 hour.
    Chocolate ganache
    • Bring cream to a simmer in a saucepan and remove from heat. Pour over bittersweet chocolate in a bowl. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Chill, covered, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 30 minutes.
    • Spread mint ganache over top of cooled brownie in a thin layer using an offset spatula, then chill until firm but still slightly sticky, about 30 minutes. Spread chocolate ganache over mint and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
    • Lift brownies out of pan using 2 inch overhang. Run a heavy knife under hot water and wipe dry. Cut into small squares.
    • Enjoy!
    Brownies will keep in the fridge for three weeks.