Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dandelion Green Salad with Beets and Goat Cheese

Oven Schmoven. It's about 100 degrees out there and humid...so there will be no baking of hot stuff until I get about 10 less degrees out of my day!

That said, I found a cool, summer salad recipe in my brand-spankin-new Dave Lieberman cookbook (thank you, T-family!). This salad would be lovely paired with some grilled meat, fish, or as an appetizer to pasta.

Dave's recipe calls for the beets directly in the dressing via blender, resulting in a sweet, brilliant, magenta-colored dressing drizzled over the crisp and bitter greens and cool, creamy goat cheese. I don't have a blender or food processor (I know, I know, disgrazie for a cook!!), but if/when I do acquire one, I will follow Dave's recipe and add the pics. The bright red dressing is quite striking in his book photos, and it would be an impressive dinner party salad.

In the meantime, this dish is just as scrumptious (and still very pretty to look at) with beets in solid form. :)
DANDELION GREENS WITH BEET DRESSING AND GOAT GOUDA

Adapted from Dave's Dinners
(this book is awesome)

For the Salad:

1/3 cup sliced, toasted almonds (I used pecans)
2 bunches dandelion greens *tip - see below
1/4 pound goat Gouda, shaved (I used french honey goat cheese, crumbled)

For the Dressing:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lemon
1 pound boiled beets
Salt

Wash and trim the greens.

Combine dressing ingredients in a blender container and blend until perfectly smooth. Spoon a generous amount onto serving plate. Top with a small bunch of greens, then top with a small handful of toasted nuts and cheese.

If you are doing the no-blender version, then whisk all dressing ingredients (except beets) in a glass measuring cup. Drizzle the dressing over the sliced cooked beets and let marinate in the fridge for an hour or so.

When ready to serve, spoon the beets and dressing over the greens, nuts and cheese.

*TIP:
Fresh dandelion greens come with a LOT of grit on them. The most effective and easiest way to clean them is to soak them in cold water, lift them out, drain, and repeat 2 or 3 times. I do this in a big bowl or in the kitchen sink. Store the greens in large ziplock bags lined with paper towel--they will stay crisp and fresh and ready to eat! 


Monday, July 27, 2009

Whole Wheat Poppy Seed Cookies

I know, I know, I just featured a recipe with poppy seeds. I’m like that. I get into something, and it’s go-time till it’s gone. The same thing happened with my cousin Karen’s amazing pasta recipe -- I made it for dinner twice last week and had the leftovers for lunch…So my latest craze is poppy seeds. They make things look so pretty and cute, and they add the same kind of sensual crunch to baked foods that figs do (which are, incidentally, my all-time favorite, mother-nature-made snack in the whole wide world.)

These cookies are simple, buttery, delicate and just-right. Biting into a cookie like this, with all these little seeds making that happy “pop-crunch-snap” in the mouth is one of the simplest, smilingest joys not to be guffawed at. Sesame seeds in place of the poppy seeds in this recipe are also highly recommended, and will induce an equal state of general goodwill. I think that if snacks and little bites of sweets containing crunchy things were consumed by all world-leaders on a daily basis, there might be no more war.


WHOLE WHEAT POPPY SEED COOKIES
Adapted from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest

Ingredients:
1/2 c. soft butter
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
2 beaten Large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon rind
1/3 c. poppy seeds
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. white flour (I used a combo of spelt & soy flour)
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
1. With a hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Beat till light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla.

2. Add in lemon rind and poppy seeds. Beat another five min.

3. Sift together dry ingredients. Add in to first mix and mix well with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.

4. Refrigerate the dough about an hour (important step, or the cutouts won't do their thing!). Roll to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into your favorite shapes. Bake on a lightly greased tray 10-12 min at 375 degrees.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil & Brie

My cousin Karen hooked me up! She is an amazing cook, especially of Italian cuisine: she makes her own homemade pasta and has a wonderfully fresh style of cooking. I'd like to officially announce that Karen rocks. I love this dish so much, I've already made it for dinner twice this week!

This is light, summer cooking at its very BEST. It's a celebration of summer's bounty: juicy, sweet tomatoes, bright green basil leaves, and sharp, glorious garlic. The sauce does not even get cooked--the ingredients just macerate in a bowl on the counter. If you aren't a fan of brie, smoked mozzerella makes a fantastic substitution. I tried it and it was delicious!

I have not yet attemped making my own pasta, but I did buy fresh whole wheat fettucini from my local grocer. It makes a huge difference to buy fresh, I think. The texture is so lovely and succulent with the sauce.

The lighting was a little low for my evening food photo session, but I promise you, the colors, texture and taste of this dish are vibrant times one hundred.

Thanks cous! xo
Linguine with Tomatoes and Basil
adapted from the Silver Palate Cookbook

4 ripe large tomatoes, cubed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup clean basil leaves, torn in strips
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (but Karen & I both think a 1/2 cup is plenty!)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 lb Brie, rind removed and torn into pieces (good brie substitutions: smoked mozzerella or regular mozzerella)
1 ½ lbs linguine
freshly grated parmesean (optional)

Combine first seven ingredients in a large bowl and set aside covered at room temperature for up to 2 hours.

Cook linguine and drain. Add pasta to the bowl of tomato mixture, and toss to combine. Serve at once - and pass the peppermill and parmesean at the table.

Could a delicious, fresh, gorgeous dinner come any easier than this??

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Poppy Seed Bread


Before I begin, I’d like to ask that you put on the [soundtrack to this post by playing this. ] Ah, nice and soft volume….good…the mood is set...


Dear Tony the Tiger, Boo Berry, Sugar Bear, and of course my beloved, Sonny the Cuckoo,

It is with wistful nostalgia that I share my news with you today.

Alas, it is time to say goodbye.

We both saw it coming. I think we just need a little time apart. I’ve grown and changed. You haven’t. It’s not your fault. I didn’t mean to change; it just…happened. I suppose moving to this town, reading more books, or taking that cooking class had something to do with it. Who can say why the caged bird sings?

I guess what I’m trying to say Sonny, Tony, Boo and Sugar Bear, is that as much as I love you, and will always love you, I can no longer have you in my life as part of this nutritious breakfast.

I’ve fallen for another. Her name is Poppy Seed Bread. I know what you’re thinking. But I’m not a snob, and you know it. Sure, my poppy’s more sophisticated and complex than what I’ve shared with you, but we have fun together. And I feel, well, complete now.

I’m sorry it had to end this way. But it’s over. One day you’ll look back and know this was the best thing that could’ve happened to us. I only hope we can be friends.

Forgive me,
Flappergirl


POPPY SEED BREAD
Adapted from Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

Ingredients:
1 ½ Cups Flour (I used 1 cup spelt, 1 cup soy flour , and ½ cup whole wheat)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 ¼ cup vegetable oil
1 ¼ cups sugar (I used 1 cup agave nectar)
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup milk
1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
¼ cup poppy seeds

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease & flour a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan.

2. In large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and sea salt. Set aside.

3. In another large bowl, beat oil and sugar (or agave nectar) till smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

4. To the egg mix, add the evaporated milk, regular milk and vanilla.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix well. Stir in poppy seeds.

6. Pour into baking pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs attached to it.

7. Cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cordially Uninvited (aka Calzones & Ice Cream Day!)

Once a year or so, I have one of those days where I just stay in. And I don’t mean “stay in” as in forego drinks on Saturday night. I mean “stay in” as in “Honeys, I’ll see y'all in 24 hours, ok?”

It’s really a lot of fun and a necessary annual event for me. I turn off the cell phone, unplug the computer, remain in my house in my favorite soft shirt and fuzzy pink socks, and really just decompress. Relax. Chill. Just once a year or so. We all have some sort of list of day-to-day, taxing nonsense we experience and we all have a need to get away from it every so often.

Here is my list:
the grind,
living in a large city,
over-stimulation,
honking horns,
noise,
electronics,
people,
vibrations,
commerce,
ads,
and as Sting sang, “too much information, running through my brain.”

Don't get me wrong, mine is a stimulating life that I love and have chosen. But once in a blue moon, I just love to say, “Thank you for coming, World, I had a fabulous time with you. Now please leave, and don’t let the door hit you’re a$s on the way out. See you tomorrow.”

And you know what? It's a great feeling to totally do it and give yourself permission. Just once! Allow the kids a sleepover night at their friends' house, schedule one personal day off from work, or have your partner go run the errands and do the laundry this once. Hang out in your fuzzy socks.

That’s just what I did last Saturday. After I sighed, I smiled. It was a glorious day of well-deserved quiet, lounging, staring at the clouds, spacing out…Oh and I baked some calzones and made homemade ice cream…and had a little indoor pizza party with my fiancĂ©. We ate dessert first. :) I recommend this.
While we all know how amazing it can feel to vacation far, far, away, I must fully and wholly sing the praises of the random vacation that’s close, close, inside...


SPINACH & CHEESE CALZONES

Dough:
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
1 cup lukewarm (wrist temp) water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2-3 cups whole wheat flour (or combo of flours totalling this amount)
Olive oil

Filling:
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 sprig of thyme leaves
2 minced cloves of garlic
1 small sliced onion
1 lb. fresh spinach (or kale, or collards, or chard), washed and chopped
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 tbs. dried sweet basil
2 cups grated mozzerella
½ cup grated parmesan
Sea salt & fresh-cracked pepper
½ jar of your favorite tomato sauce

MAKE DOUGH:
Soften together yeast, water and honey.

Add salt and flour to make a soft dough. With floured hands and floured board, knead 10 minutes, or till smooth and elastic, adding flour if necessary to keep from being too sticky.

Place the dough ball into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic or a tea towl, and let rise till doubled (about 1 hour).

While dough is rising, prepare the filling (see below for directions)

Punch down. Divide into six sections and roll out in rounds 1/4 inch thick.

Fill with 1/2-3/4 cup the greens/cheese filling, placing the filling on one half of the circle, leaving a 1/2 inch rim. Add a tablespoonful of tomato sauce on top of filling.

Moisten the rim with a little water, fold the empty side over, and crimp the edges.

Prick here and there with a fork to allow steam to escape.

Bake on a parchment-lined cookie sheet lined with cornmeal (or an oiled tray, or a baking stone) in a preheated 450 oven for 15-20 minutes or till crisp and lightly browned.

Serve hot, with a little extra tomato sauce on the side for dipping.

MAKE FILLING:
1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic, thyme and onions. Stir and cook 10 minutes or so, until onions are slightly caramelized. Stir often.

2. Add greens and red pepper flakes and stir, cooking until greens are wilted. Remove from heat.

3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, basil and salt & pepper. Stir in the warm greens mixture, and taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

EASY VANILLA CHOCOLATE CHIP ICE CREAM

Ingredients:

* 1 cup heavy cream
* 1 cup light cream* (half and half)
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 pinch salt
* 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (or chocolate shavings)

Whisk all ingredients (except chocolate chips) in a large mixing bowl. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add to ice cream maker and freeze according to machine's directions. Stir in chips 5 minutes before ice cream maker time is up.

Makes 1 quart (that should cover a campy 60s double feature for two on cable TV)

*1/2 cream and 1/2 milk may be substituted for light cream

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lemon Taralli Biscuits (Biscotti Taralli al Limone)

Many years ago I was enjoying the San Genarro Festival in Little Italy in New York City, when I spotted a local baker selling these donut-like cookies on the street. I think he charged me a dollar, and he tucked 3 or 4 of them into a small paper bag. I walked away with my treat thinking not a whole lot about them until I got home. And when I dunked one of them into a hot cup of coffee, I felt instantly transported to a sunny little café near a lemon tree orchard, somewhere deep in the hills of Sicily.

Taralli biscuits are common throughout all of Sicily, and some provinces flavor them with anise, or with orange. This version is lemon-flavored, with lots of bright, fresh lemon zest and juice in the cookie and the glaze. These crunchy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside biscuits can also be enjoyed with espresso, or even a glass of wine (sometimes they are called Wine Biscuits). I say go all European style on these cookies, and enjoy them with a glass (or two) of wine after a long and leisurely late afternoon lunch.

LEMON TARALLI BISCUITS
(Biscotti Taralli al Limone)

INGREDIENTS:


For the Dough:
4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
¼ lb. or 1 stick of unsalted butter (at room temperature)
4 medium eggs
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon
flour for dusting

For the Icing:
1 cup confectionary sugar
juice of 2 lemons
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of water

DIRECTIONS:

The Dough

Make a well with the flour, place in it and combine sugar and butter.
Add eggs, salt, baking powder, baking soda and lemon zest. Mix all ingredients with the help of a fork and then using your hands knead to bring dough together.
Do not over mix. Do not handle dough more than necessary. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.
Prepare pan: grease and dust a cookie sheet with flour.

The Biscuits
Cut dough in 2 pieces and each pieces in 2 parts. Knead dough and make each piece compact, shape each piece into an elongated roll 1½ inch in diameter. Cut it into 6 pieces and roll each piece to form a stick about 6 inches long. Seal the ends together to form a circle, place each piece into a greased pan, 2 inches apart.

The Baking
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, until cookies are a light golden color.

The Icing
Place the confectionary sugar, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of water and the zest of lemon in a bowl and whip it until it becomes creamy. If needed, add a bit more confectioner’s sugar to achieve the creamy consistency.

When taralli are cooled, using a pastry brush, glaze the taralli. When biscuits are completely dry, store them in an airtight cookie jar or container.







 

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fig Scones

Sometimes when I pull baking sheets out of the oven I talk to the items sitting atop of them. “Hello scones. Oh you lovely little breakfast babies. I love you. Yes I do. You did a good job there in the oven. I’m proud of all your hard work.”

These crumbly little cuties are a bit of heaven if you ask me. Oh and the figs? Forget it, I'm convinced God was just in a really good mood when he invented them. Both fresh and dried are perfect foods to me. Fresh figs are aphrodisiacally delicious, like, oh say, poached in port and served warm over vanilla ice creammmm. And dried figs are to-die-for in baked foods, ever-reminiscent of one of the best cookies of childhood and maybe ever: the almighty Fig Newton.

You can use either fresh or dried figs in this recipe, but I chose dried because the raisin-like chewiness of the fig flesh, along with that little crunchy pop of the inner seeds just seemed like it needed to be nestled inside the flaky loveliness of a buttery scone.

This is another very easy and fun-to-make quick bread. I sit happy and reassured at the fact I’ll never again have to spend 5 bucks on a cold, hard scone from my local corporate coffee conveyor belt, when I can have my home smelling like a sweet Irish lass’s B&B in minutes. And no one's going to be afraid when I fuss and coo at my beautiful baked babies.
FIG SCONES
adapted from Whole Foods Market

Ingredients
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats or (i used red winter wheat)
3 tablespoons flax seeds
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces and well chilled
3/4 cup chopped dried figs
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon low-fat buttermilk, divided
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional, but adds a lot of flavor and aroma!)
1 to 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (optional)
Method

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Put flour, oats, flax seeds, baking powder and salt into a food processor and pulse until combined. Add butter and pulse again mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add apricots and repeat process.

In a small bowl, whisk together honey, 1/2 cup of the buttermilk, eggs and almond extract then pour in a constant stream into food processor while pulsing just until mixture is blended. Transfer dough to a well-floured surface and form into a 9-inch circle. Using a floured knife, cut dough into 12 wedges and transfer to a large baking sheet, arranging the scones 1 to 2 inches apart.

Brush scones with remaining 1 tablespoon buttermilk then sprinkle with sugar. Bake until cooked through and golden brown around the edges, about 25 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

We will miss you, Michael.

Losing Michael Jackson, the greatest entertainer of our lifetime, hit me harder than I thought it would. He was such a huge influence on me musically (I spent many years as a professional musician) and he was a huge part of the soundtrack of my life, as I know he was for so many of us. And I am sad.

All I’ve wanted to do since I heard the shocking news, is bake a pie in his honor. I don’t know why. I know it's silly. But I have to do it. It’s going to be a special pie that I have never made before, and I will make it with love and affection for one of the most gifted and original talents the world has ever known. Sometimes baking in quiet contemplation and love can be like a form of prayer.

This pie will be shared and eaten in honor of all the sweetness and smiles Michael brought to us.

I am going to get my recipe together and bake it with quiet love for the shooting star that went back into the sky.

We are honored to be in the world when Michael Jackson was in the world.

Nice Rice

I had to make some room in my fridge for a pie, which will be baked with love in honor of Michael Jackson. It will be shared and eaten in honor of all the sweetness and smiles Michael brought to the world.

In my attempt to empty the pantry, I made a rice dish that surprised me in its yumminess. I took my scraps of veggies, leftover meat and a few spices, and came up with a Chinese-style fried rice that was filled with surprisingly piquant flavor for so few ingredients. It’s easy and a very mix-and-match dish that you can alter according to the leftovers you in your fridge. Maybe you will try it when you need to make room in your fridge for something sweet that will make people smile.


NICE RICE

3-4 Tbs, Sesame oil (or vegetable oil)
2 cups leftover chicken or beef, diced, or frozen, thawed shrimp
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. ground ginger (or fresh, minced)
¼ tsp. ground coriander
Ground white pepper, to taste
¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
T Tbs. pomegranate molasses or oyster or hoisin sauce
1 medium onion, sliced
1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 carrot, peeled & sliced into diagonal pieces
4-5 shitake mushrooms, sliced into strips
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper of any color, thinly sliced
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 eggs, beaten
Lemon zest
Fresh chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

1. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the meat, red pepper, ginger, 5-spice powder, white pepper, soy sauce and molasses. Stir fry for a couple minutes.

2. Add onion, broccoli, carrot, and stir for another 2 minutes or so.

3. Add mushrooms, garlic and bell pepper. Stir for a minute or two.

4. Add rice and stir till all combined.

5. Make well in center and pour in eggs. Let set for a few seconds to solidify, and gently stir through rice, so that pieces of egg are visible throughout.

6. Turn off heat and zest some lemon over the whole thing. Sprinkle some fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley over the top, if desired.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pomegranate Shrimp

How was your Fourth of July? Did you enjoy the long weekend? I live in a big city, and while I spent a bit of the weekend longing for a backyard and a grill (and a washing machine that doesn't require quarters to run!!), my fiance and I managed to have a lot of fun riding down the coast to the beach.

That said, I had no interest lollying for hours in my kitchen as I usually do--the big blue sky was out there waiting for us to play under it! So we had a quick bite of 5-minute pomegranate shrimp, grabbed the sunscreen, and we were on off...


POMEGRANATE SHRIMP
Adapted from Modern Spice

I am in love with my new favorite pantry condiment: pomegranate molasses. I just bought it by chance in a Middle Eastern grocery because it looked interesting and was inexpensive....and it turned out to be an killer ingredient in so many dishes! I recommend you grab a bottle for yourself. It's tart-sweet-tang adds a gorgeous depth of flavor to so many dishes.

Serves 4 as an entree

1 ½ pounds shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon red chile powder or red chile flakes
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
2 large or 4 to 6 small shallots, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (see Note)

In a large bowl, combine the shrimp, pomegranate molasses, garlic, turmeric, chile powder, coriander, and salt. Mix well. The best way to do this is with your hands.

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the curry leaves and shallots. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the shallots just begin to change color.

Add the shrimp and marinade. Toss for a few minutes, just until the shrimp are completely cooked through.

Remove from the heat and serve immediately, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.

Note: Use only fresh pomegranate seeds, not dried, or you will have a mess on your hands!

 
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