Friday, March 27, 2009

Basil-Macadamia Nut Pesto

Macadamia nuts are ridiculously delicious. I could not stop eating them while prepping this recipe and I had a hard time putting the few leftovers away. I should find more recipes using them just so I can have them around. Or maybe not. I’d probably eat them all before I got around to making anything with them. I did see a recipe the other day on Good Eats with macadamias that looked fabulous, so I might look into that.

Anyway, this recipe is from my massive list and comes from this very cool Polynesian cookbook my aunt sent me years ago for my birthday/love of Kauai. I was not really into cooking much at the time, or at least not often, so the book sat with many others, collecting dust and just being sad in general. Well, no more (obviously). I love the fresh twist on pesto and any excuse to cook up salmon and eat macadamias is fine by me.

Basil-Macadamia Nut Pesto from Sam Choy’s Polynesian Kitchen:

Yield: 1¼ c.

½ c. fresh sweet basil leaves, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced (I went to 4)
¼ c. chopped parsley leaves
1 Tb. lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c. canola oil (I subbed in regular olive oil as I don’t have canola oil about)
½ c. minced roasted macadamia nuts

The original directions say to mix all of this in a blender. I decided to use my mini prep food processor because it would cut down on prep time and I just love using it anyway. Plus, it’s easier to clean. I chopped the nuts first, then the basil leaves and parsley, cleaned it out, and minced the garlic. In a blender (or mini prep food processor!), add all the ingredients, except the nuts. Blend. Add the nuts to the mixture and blend for a few seconds. Keep in the refrigerator, or store in the freezer until needed.

According to the book, it works well over any fish or chicken, or with a plate of pasta. I had mine with pan seared sockeye salmon (Alaskan, of course) and some grilled onions. It went fabulously. Although not radically different from traditional pesto, there is a slightly different flavor to it. I liked the bigger chunks of nuts in it and also the lack of cheese because that made it better for fish. I know, I’m surprised I said I was glad about a lack of cheese too. But really, it goes with fish so much better.

PS: Look at my pretty plating. I’ve been watching Chopped too much.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Roasted Shallot Mashed Potatoes, Stuffed Chicken Breasts, and Balsamic Reduction

Balsamic vinegar is wonderful. Sometimes I come up with dinners that work around it just to make sure I can have some. Most of the time I just have it with fresh greens and olive oil. I already had the plan for the mashed potatoes (thanks Aaron!) and wanted to make something fancy around it. The thing that’s funny about this is that although the whole meal sounds kind of fancy, it’s really easy to do and doesn’t take that much time. Cheater, cheater!

This is what I did:

For the potatoes –
2 large russet potatoes
A hunk of butter
A splash of milk
2 shallots
Olive oil
Pepper to taste

For the chicken-
¼ c. ricotta cheese
A hunk of yellow onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
A bit of flour to dredge
Olive oil

1/3 c. balsamic vinegar for the reduction

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Peel the shallots and place in a baking dish or muffin tin, drizzle with olive oil, and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for another 20. When they are cool enough to handle, rough chop them and set aside. You can also use this method for roasting garlic, which is fantastic.

Follow mashed potato directions from this post and mix in roasted shallots at the end.

For the chicken, heat olive oil in a small saucepan and add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is glassy and soft, which should only be a few minutes. Add ricotta to a small bowl and mix with onion and garlic. Set aside. Flatten the chicken a bit and cut open the breasts. Cut so there’s a pocket, but not all the way through. I know the picture looks kind of gross. Just go with it. Stuff in a bit of the ricotta mixture and close the pocket. Just eyeball it. Lightly season each side with salt and pepper. Dredge with a bit of flour for a crispier crust.

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Sear on both sides, about 2 minutes each. You want a nice, brown crust. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover saucepan. Cook through, about 10 minutes.

The reduction is the easiest part. Add the balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let cook until most of the liquid is gone. Mine took about 7 minutes, but it will really depend on your stovetop. Drizzle over chicken, potatoes, anything else you want. It is so, so good.

The timing of this meal was a bit difficult and the potatoes ended up being a wee bit cold. Bummer, I know. The potatoes don’t really take very long to cook and if you have a mixer, the rest is so easy. Next time I’ll start the potatoes a bit later and have the chicken all prepped and ready to go sooner. All in all though, this was a tasty meal.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I've been meaning to blog about this place for ages (okay, a few weeks), but kept forgetting (so me!). Anyway, Petisco is a very, very tasty and new sandwich place very close to my house. I discovered it through the hive mind that is the livejournal community DamnPortlanders. One recommendation and one half of a turkey and brie sandwich on baguette with potato cheddar soup later, I was hooked. I ate there twice in one week. I think about it all the time! Well, okay, not all the time, but often.

I've had the turkey and brie, which comes with honey mustard and is to die for. I've also had the tomato and mozzarella, which is also amazing. Carrina has had the roast beef with manchego cheese, or rather, as she said, "Make that rare roast beef with manchego and HORSERADISH CREAM!" What makes Petisco so good is very high quality ingredients at not such a ridiculous price. I love cheese (check the bio) and I love it when restaurants care about their cheeses. The bread is crunchy and perfect, the cheeses are creamy, the meats are perfectly salted. The side salad is substantial and tossed with a nice olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The soups are also amazing. I've yet to check out brunch, but I'm sure I will soon.

The sandwiches are like a siren song, calling me. I'll be back and not just because the brie is so delicious.

Raspberry and Cream Cheese Bread plus French Toast

This delicious bread recipe comes courtesy of my ambitious list of recipes that I am slowly working through. Originally called Blueberry and Cream Cheese Bread, there is a note underneath that says raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries can be substituted, which is what I did. I think the marbled red with the whiteness of the bread is so pretty and it is very, very tasty.

The main reason I did this recipe, though, was due to the other half of the note which states “this marbled bread makes terrific French toast.” So that’s what I did (and documented!) and it was quite terrific.

The only issue I had at all was the top of the bread being a teeny bit burnt. I did it on the low side of the bake time and should have been checking on it due to all the mushy fruit on top. It was only a little burnt, though, and hardly affects the flavor. Just be more careful than I was!

Raspberry and Cream Cheese Bread modified from Blueberry and Cream Cheese Bread from Flavored Breads:

Yield: 1 loaf

8 oz. cream cheese
2 Tb. sugar
2 Tb. butter, softened
2 eggs
1 c. lukewarm water
2 tsp. active dry yeast
4 c. bread flour
1½ tsp. salt
2 c. raspberries (I used frozen, defrosted and drained)

In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with a flat beater, cream together the cream cheese, sugar, and butter. Add the eggs and cream for 1 minute longer.

Place the water in a separate bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water, stir in, and let sit for 2 minutes. Add the yeast to the cream cheese mixture. Add the flour and salt (I mixed the two together beforehand) and mix with a dough hook (or knead by hand) for 4 to 6 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. As usual, I started this in the mixer and finished it off by hand. It goes faster and you still get the joy of kneading bread.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl (for example, a cleaned out mixer bowl that you just used) and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until approximately doubled in volume.

Carefully fold in the raspberries into the risen dough until evenly incorporated. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. From here he goes on to have you form a round loaf. Instead of doing this, I just shaped it square and dropped it into a square baking pan.

Anyway, shape the loaf how you please (it’s really only a suggestion) and lightly butter or oil a 10-inch square baking pan or cake pan with sides at least 2 inches high and dust with bread flour. Place the loaf seam side down in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes, or until approximately doubled in volume.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Uncover the loaf and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until dark brown. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn the loaf out onto a rack to finish cooling. I left mine in the pan because when I tried to take it out, it bent funny and raspberries got all over the counter. It was fine.

So! French toast. It’s delicious. In case you don’t know how to do it, it’s really easy, and it makes good use of stale bread. Or this bread. Anyway, this is what I did for 2 people:

2 eggs
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. milk
Splash of vanilla extract
Dash of cinnamon
3 slices of raspberry and cream cheese bread, cut in half

In a pie pan (this work out perfectly, but any flat dish with sides will do) beat eggs slightly, add salt and milk, flavor with vanilla extract, and add cinnamon to taste. Dip the bread into the mixture, coating on both sides. I like to let one set sit while I cook another and the flip them when I flip the ones in the pan.

Brown the bread, each side, on a hot, well-buttered griddle or pan. It only takes a couple of minutes for each side. Serve hot with your choice of syrups. It’s a very sweet way to start a day and I love that. Daaang! So good!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Not a Breakfast Burrito

The more I cook, the more I want to. So when my husband said he was hungry the other night, I jumped up, ran downstairs and dug through the fridge to find something interesting to make. What I came up with was dubbed “Not a Breakfast Burrito” by my husband, but I think it was more like not a breakfast taco or tostada.

This is what I did:

About 2½ cups broccoli
¼ finely shredded cheddar cheese
2 corn tortillas
2 fully cooked mango sausages
¼ yellow onion, sliced and cut into half rings
2 small red potatoes
3 cloves garlic
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Sprinkle olive oil over both sides of tortillas and place on a cookie sheet. Heat in oven for about 5 minutes for each side. Add cheese and cook until cheese is melty. You can leave this in the oven to stay warm while everything else comes together. If you do this, add the cheese at the very end.

In a small saucepan, heat a small amount of olive oil, enough to coat bottom of pan, over medium heat. Add onion, sprinkle a bit more oil and reduce heat. The key to grilled onions is patience. To get nice, not crispy, onions, you need to give them time to cook. Don’t bother them. Just let them do their thing. It takes about 20 minutes for this.

Steam broccoli and whole potatoes. I have a really nice glass steamer I can stick in the microwave. Easy easy.

Meanwhile, chop sausages and mince garlic. When veggies are done, remove potatoes and chop. Heat olive oil in another small saucepan and add potatoes. Cook until outsides are crispy, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and sausages and cook until garlic is soft and sausages are warm.

Remove tortillas from oven. Add potato, sausage garlic mixture to the top and cover with broccoli. Garnish with grilled onions on top.

Because I use so much olive oil in my cooking, I got this handy little container at IKEA. It’s perfect for adding just the right amount of oil to the pan. It came with a twin (now holding my balsamic vinegar). It makes throwing together a vinaigrette a snap. I love this thing!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Irish Cupcakes

It’s St. Patrick’s Day and here is my Guinness recipe, as promised. First, though, a disclaimer. I’m not even the teeniest bit Irish. Not even close. None. Nothing. However, I love Guinness. A lot. Here’s some proof:

(that’s me at St. James’s Gate in Dublin)

Anyway, I saw this recipe back in January and thought “daaang! Perfect Paddy’s day recipe!” So here we are, today, and I have found an excuse to cook with both Guinness and Bailey’s. These are so delicious, though, that no one should need an excuse. The original recipe has these cupcakes filled, but though I do love a filled cupcake, I just didn’t feel like doing the extra work. Plus, not everyone likes a filled cupcake. These are amazing this way and I will have to restrain myself from eating all of them.

Irish Cupcakes modified from Chocolate Beer Cupcakes from

Makes 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes-
1 c. stout Guinness
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
¾ c. unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 c. all purpose flour
2 c. sugar
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2/3 c. sour cream

For the frosting-
3 to 4 c. confectioners sugar (3 cups was fine for me)
½ c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 Tb. Bailey’s

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.

Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Mine took closer to 18/19 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

For the frosting, whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.

When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Bailey’s and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar. 4 tablespoons of Bailey’s made this frosting perfect.

Ice and decorate the cupcakes. I don’t have a pastry bag, so I filled a zip baggie with the frosting and cut the corner. This worked well for most of them, but then the top of the bag wouldn’t close and started to make a mess, so I frosted the last 4 the way I usually do. It doesn’t really matter though because these are so good, you’ll just eat them all up anyway.

I plan on sharing these with some friends, especially those more Irish than I am, but it will be difficult to not eat them all tonight!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Roasted Corn and Herbed Goat Cheese Quesadilla

One of my most favorite things in the world of food is goat cheese. I’ve mentioned it a few times in the last couple of weeks and I have something awesome planned for goat cheese in the near future.

Anyway, I’m not really sure what inspired this recipe other than being hungry and loving corn, goat cheese, and quesadillas. It’s really easy (and inexact, as my recipes tend to be) and very tasty.

This is what I did:

2 c.-ish of corn kernels (frozen-defrosted okay)
2 oz.-ish herbed goat cheese, room temperature (or regular or some other flavor. Whatever you like is awesome.)
2 small corn tortillas
Olive oil

In a medium saucepan, dry roast the corn over medium heat until browned spots appear on all sides, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Spread warm goat cheese over one side of the corn tortilla. Sprinkle on corn, reserving a few for garnish and cover with other tortilla. I would’ve had more corn for mine, but I kept eating it because it’s just that good. Corn is awesome.

Heat a bit of olive oil in the same saucepan over medium-low heat. Gently place quesadilla in warmed oil and cook until browned on both sides, about 5-8 minutes each. Goat cheese takes a bit longer to warm up than other cheeses, so the medium-low heat is to make sure the tortilla doesn’t burn while the cheese is warming up.

Slide gently off pan and onto plate. Garnish with remaining corn and a few sprinkles of goat cheese. Serve immediately. This is a great appetizer or, if you’re like me and don’t want to share any of that delicious goat cheese, light meal, especially with some salad greens. Yum!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Blueberry Smoothie

This one was inspired by my friend Ryan when I was over at his place and complaining that I was hungry. He made me a kick arse smoothie and I was ever thankful (and I stopped complaining too!) Anyway, since then I’ve been on a banana kick and I made this smoothie the other day and it was super awesome!

This is what I did (rather inexact):

1 c. or so of low-fat yogurt (I used Nancy’s and it turns out I like the non-fat better. Huh.)
Handful of blueberries
Splash of soy milk
Medium banana
Splash of vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a blender and whip together. Enjoy in a large pint glass and feel good.

Okay, now maybe I need another one.

Guinness Rye Bread

This is another recipe from my ambitious list, adapted from one in my Mark Miller book. It was originally called Liberty Ale Rye Bread, but since I had never heard of Liberty Ale and didn’t care to go on a super search for it, I went for the adaption. In addition, the note before the recipe says you can use a stout “for a darker, more intense bread.” When I see stout I automatically think Guinness. And it is March. I do have a special recipe coming up for St. Paddy’s day that involves the brilliant beer, but you’ll just have to wait for that.

Anyway, I meant to post this recipe days ago. We’re on the second loaf now. The benefit, though, is that I’ve tried it a number of different ways and can tell you it is amazing with pretty much anything. It’s very tasty with meats and sharp cheeses (the intense, interesting flavor really lends itself to that), as toast with goat cheese or jam, as a grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar and pickled onions, by itself, with egg salad. It’s versatile, it’s different, and it will definitely make your sandwich awesome.

This bread may also mark the first time I was able to properly shape a loaf that wasn’t challah. Although the first rising was a bit slow (it’s been on and off cold here) and the dough was ridiculously sticky in the beginning, by the time I shaped them, it was wonderful. I don’t mind doing a bit of battle with my bread; doing so makes the results so much more worth the time.

Guinness Rye Bread adapted from Liberty Ale Rye Bread from Flavored Breads:

Makes 2 loaves

1½ c. Guinness (I used Extra Stout), at room temperature
2 Tb. dark molasses
1 Tb. olive oil
2½ tsp. dry active yeast
1¼ c. rye flour
2 c. bread flour
2½ tsp. salt (I used kosher)

Combine the beer, molasses, and oil in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over the mixture, stir in, and let sit for 2 minutes.

Add the dry ingredients (flours and salt). Mix with the dough hook (or knead by hand) for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough appears silky and resilient. I finished mine of by hand as it was still very, very sticky in the mixer. Plus, it just feels nice to knead bread. If you like to finish yours off by hand, remove the dough from the mixer a few minutes before the finish time, turn out on a floured surface, and work by hand. You’ll get the same results and it’s a very relaxing activity.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place (like on top of a warmed oven) for 1½ hours, or until approximately doubled in volume.

Punch the dough down again, re-cover with the plastic wrap, and let rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes. Place a baking stone (if you have one. I don’t) on the middle rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and cut into two equal pieces. Grease two loaf pans or generously dust a baking sheet with rye flour. I went for the loaf pans. Shape the dough into oblong loaves. With the heel of your hand, flatten and pull the dough horizontally into an oblong shape. Beginning with the long bottom edge, roll up the dough jelly-roll style and pinch the same firmly to seal. Tuck in the ends and even out the load by gently rolling it with the palms of both hands.

Place the loaves in the prepared loaf pans or on the baking sheets, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap, and let rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Uncover the loaves and, using a spray bottle, spritz them with water, then dust with rye flour. Make 2 or 3 diagonal slashes in the tops of the loaves with a serrated knife to allow the dough to expand in the hot oven. Using the spray bottle, spritz the oven walls with water. Work quickly so the oven does not lose heat.

Set the loaf pans or baking sheet on the hot stone, again, if you have one. Mine were fine without it. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is crisp and deep brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Transfer the loaves to a rack and cool completely before cutting. If you can wait. I have a few more cool recipes that I really want to do out of this book that are on my list, so look forward to that. Every single one I have tried so far has been delicious and fun.

PS: I love how the edges of my cookbooks seem to appear in the background of so many of my photos.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spiced Shredded Chicken

I know, I know, I know. I’ve been quite absent lately. I was powering through Wicked so I would have totally re-read it by this past Tuesday when Aaron and I went to see the Broadway musical at Keller Auditorium (it was really, really awesome, btw). And then the hubby and I started working on our guest bedroom and clearing out the closet filled with boxes that have been sitting since we moved in (2006). And I’ve been getting my stuff together for grad school. Oh, and the DS is charged again, so I’ve been playing games. In other words, sorry I haven’t been posting! I’ve been meaning to and I have been cooking!

So, the other night I decided I wanted nachos for dinner. This isn’t uncommon. If you know me, you know I am rather obsessed with nachos. Aaron has even made the joke that when I die and they do an autopsy, I will be filled with nothing but nachos. Anyway, I decided to split the plate with Aaron instead of selfishly hoarding them all to myself, as I have done in the past. Aaron loves meat on his nachos, so I decided to make up some shredded chicken. I mostly made this up as I went along, but I did try to keep track of what I was doing so a) I could do it again and b) so I could post it. See how nice I am?

Here’s what I did:

1 medium chicken breast
1 small lime
A few tablespoons of spices (cumin, a random mix my friend left over here. You can also use chili powder, red pepper flakes, Mexican oregano, whatever else you usually like in your Mexican food)
3-4 oz. vegetable stock (chicken stock would’ve been even better, but I used what I had. I froze some of my stock into ice cubes just for occasions such as this. It’s perfect. You should try it.)
Olive oil

Heat oil in a small pan over medium heat. Coat chicken breast in spices. Cook chicken on both sides until browned, about 5 minutes each. Squeeze in ½ of the lime juice and add stock. Cover and cook through over medium-low heat, about 10 minutes.

Remove from pan and let cool. When you can handle the chicken, shred it and return it to the pan. Add remaining lime juice and adjust spices to taste. Serve with your favorite Mexican dish, like tostadas or tacos. Or, you know, nachos.

You can make this ahead of time and use it later the same day or the following day. It’s very, very tasty and versatile.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Berry Galette

So while my Cheese and Sausage Galette was being consumed, this tasty dish was being baked. Unfortunately, time ran short and my husband and I had to take off for a movie (this one, in case you care. It was really good, btw). So it was cooled and stuck into the fridge. This morning it was gently reheated for about 20 minutes and was fantastic! I cannot wait to try different fruit combinations with this because it is so, so good. You have to try it. Do it now!

Berry Galette from Baking with Julia via my mom:

½ recipe galette dough, chilled
1½ c. mixed berries (I used a mix of frozen strawberries and frozen blackberries. You can also use a variety of cut up fruit instead or in addition.)
1 Tb. plus 1 tsp. sugar, separated
1 Tb. honey, optional (the sugar is enough on its own)
1 Tb. cold unsalted butter, cut into slivers and chilled
A cup of chilled water (for brushing the dough)

Follow prep for dough from the Cheese and Sausage Galette.

Spread the berries (or cut up fruit) over the dough, leaving a 2”-3” border. Sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar over the fruit and drizzle the honey if you are using it (really, though, you don’t need it). Scatter the slivers of butter on top of the fruit. Fold the uncovered border of dough up over the filling, allowing the dough to please as your lift (just like with the cheese and sausage one, but make the border thicker as fruit is runnier than cheese. Dip a pastry brush in the chilled water and give the edge of the crust a light coating and then sprinkle the fruit with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. Or put it on the fruit if you feel like it.

Bake just like the cheese and sausage galette. This is also done at about 35 minutes. Place baking sheet on cooling rack and let cool for about 20 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

It’s sweet and warm and yummy. And it looks so pretty too. I forgot to take a picture of the final product and my awesome pleating (way better than the savory one was as I followed all the steps correctly this time around), but you can see how nice the edge is on the single piece. It’s all gone now, but I will be making more soon!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Galette Dough and Cheese and Sausage Galette

My mom sent me this recipe from her Baking with Julia book awhile ago and dang, I wish I had done it sooner. It was such a snap to put together and so tasty. Aaron and I had a savory one for dinner and there’s a sweet one baking in the oven right now that I’ll post about later. This can be done in a food processor or by hand. Since my food processor is itty bitty, I did it by hand. As with all recipes from my mom, her notes are scattered throughout.

Galette Dough from Baking with Julia via my mom:

Makes enough for two 8-inch galettes

3 Tb. sour cream (or yogurt or buttermilk. I used sour cream because for once I had some in the house.)
1/3 c. approximately ice water
1 c. unbleached white flour
¼ c. cornmeal
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
7 Tb. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Sit in sour cream and 1/3 c. ice water together in a small bowl and set aside. Mom note – place in freezer along with your cut up butter while you get the flour thing going – it is important that these ingredients remain cold before adding. Okay back to the recipe.

Put flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and stir with a fork to mix. Drop butter piece into bowl, tossing them once or twice to coat them with flour. With a pastry blender (I used my fingers, as always), work the butter into the flour, aiming for piece of butter that range from bread crumb to small peas. The smaller pieces will make the dough tender, the large ones will make it flaky. Mom note – aim for a smaller crumb size – you will be happier when it comes time to roll it out later.

Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over the dough one tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you’ve added all of the sour cream, the dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if it is not, add additional cold water, one teaspoon at a time. With your hands, gather curds of dough together. You’ll have a soft, malleable dough, the kind you might want to overwork. Mom note – do not as this dough comes together quite easily.

Turn the dough out of the bowl and divide in half. Press each piece of dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two, or it can be wrapped airtight and frozen for a month. Thaw, still wrapped, in the refrigerator. It is convenient to roll the dough into rounds, place parchment between each round and freeze them wrapped in plastic; this way you’ll need only about 20 minutes to defrost at room temperature before it can be filled, folded into a galette and baked.

I modified the Cheese and Tomato Galette from the same set of recipes my mom set for the following savory galette. It was so tasty and I wish I had more to eat right now. Yum, yum, yum.

Here’s what I did for a Cheese and Sausage Galette:

½ recipe galette dough, chilled
2 oz. Monterey jack cheese, shredded
2 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks
½ c. yellow onion, sliced
2 Andouille chicken sausages, sliced (yay TJ’s!)
Olive oil

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat with a small amount of olive oil. Toss onions in oil and cook until soft and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Set aside.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it into an 11-inch circle that’s about 1/8 inch thick. Since the dough is soft, you’ll need to lift it now and then and toss some flour under it and over the top. Roll the dough up around your rolling pin and unroll onto a prepared baking sheet. I missed this step here and prepared mine on the counter and then had to move it. As a result, it looked much nicer on the counter. Oh well. It still turned out fine.

Mix cheeses and scatter over rolled-out dough, leaving a 2”-3” border. Scatter the onions over the cheese. Place the sliced sausage in concentric circles, one slice slightly overlapping the last, on top of the cheese and onion. Fold the uncovered border of dough up over the filling, allowing the dough to pleat as you lift it up and work your way around the galette.

(PS: Thanks Blogspot for turning this one sideways! You're a pal!)

Bake the galette for 35-40 minutes (35 was just about perfect for me, but you may want to start checking on it at 30), or until the pastry is golden and crisp and the cheese is bubbly. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the galette rest on the sheet for 15 minutes. Mom note – Slip a wide spatula or two smaller ones under the galette and gently place on your serving plate. Do this with careful determination. The galette will easily peel away from the parchment paper.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

The galette can be kept at room temperature for several hours and is best serve the day it is made.

We had ours with some mixed greens. It was such a tasty meal! The dough is crispy and light and just has a really, really good taste. Aaron compared the flavor to the crispy part of a croissant, which I think is a very apt description. I will most certainly be making the dough again and will try different types of savory galettes. It’s just so adaptable and wonderful.

Bolognese Pickled Onions

I love pickled onions. They’re on salads at McMenamin’s and I just adore it. When I got Marcella’s Italian Kitchen from my folks over Christmas and I saw this recipe in it, I was so excited. So over a month ago, I started it and daaaaang! So good. They perk up salads, they’re great in tacos, they’re awesome on sandwiches.

The only difference between the original recipe and mine is that I didn’t use small, white onions. Instead I use a similar weight of onion in sliced onion and I think it came out just fine.

Bolognese Pickled Onions from Marcella’s Italian Kitchen:

13 to 14 small, flat white onions, 1 to 1½ inches in diameter, about 6 oz.
1 quart water
2 Tb. salt (kosher)
Red-wine vinegar

Peel and wash onions. Slice if using a larger onion. Bring water to a boil and add the salt.

When the water returns to a boil, put in the onions. When the water begins to boil again - and make sure the heart is high enough so it doesn’t take too long - cook the onions from less than 1 minute, at most 50 seconds.

Drain the onions, pat them thoroughly dry with kitchen towels, and allow to cool completely.

Choose a glass jar with a tight closure. When the onions are cold, put them in the jar, adding enough vinegar to cover amply.

The onions are good within 48 hour of making, but they are even better after a month, when they are fully pickled. Mine are a little over a month old and they are awesome.

Here’s a salad I made earlier today with some delicious goat cheese, tomatoes, my croutons, and the pickled onions. I sprinkled it with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Perfect!

Parmesan-Romano Croutons

I figured since I was talking about homemade croutons in my last post about vegetable chowder, I should mention how to make them. It’s very simple and a great way to use stale bread. Plus, everyone will think you’re fancy because you made your own croutons. It’s awesome!

Here’s what I do:

A bunch of bread, cut into cubes (I used no-knead last time)
¼ Parmesan Reggiano and Pecorino Romano, grated
Herbs if you feel like it (oregano, basil, rosemary are all good)
Olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss cubes with olive oil and cheese or just sprinkle both over cubes on a baking sheet on all sides. Bake for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they can go from crunchy delicious to totally burnt in a short period of time.

Also, eat these quickly. They can get too tough and chewy within a few days.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Vegetable Chowder

Another day, another Moosewood recipe. I made this one for my friend Amy since she asked if I would cook for her while she was in town (based on her love for this blog! <3!) She ended up getting in to town a bit late, so she and her boyfriend had it the next day. I had it both times and it is great fresh and reheated the next day. Now that’s a good recipe!

I love soup, especially when it’s cold. Soup is one of those things that everyone has some sort of theory and idea about. For example, I love my soups full of chunky vegetables. This recipe had all the veggies minced or otherwise cut pretty small, which is not what I’m into. If I’m going to cook with broccoli (my fave veg), I want to see it and taste it. So everywhere it says diced below, you can assume I used a rougher, larger chop, except the garlic. Aaron, when it comes to chowder, likes it super thick. Although this one isn’t very thick, it could easily become Aaron’s ideal chowder. This one is also super easy to mess around with. I took out a bunch of ingredients and subbed in more broccoli. Did I mention I love soup?

Vegetable Chowder from The New Moosewood Cookbook:

Yield: 8 servings

1 Tb. butter
2 c. chopped onion
6 cloves garlic, minced (yup, I used 8. No surprise, right?)
2 tsp. salt (kosher)
½ tsp. thyme
2 tsp. basil
1 medium potato, diced (I used several smaller potatoes)
2 medium stalks celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced (I only had one. Oops!)
2 c. chopped broccoli
2 c. chopped cauliflower (I took out the cauliflower and used about 5 c. chopped broccoli)
½ lb. mushrooms, chopped (I took this out altogether)
2 c. corn (frozen-defrosted fine)
Lots of fresh black pepper
1½ c. water (I used veggie stock instead)
1 quart milk (lowfat ok), heated

Melt the butter in a kettle or Dutch oven. Add onion, half the garlic, salt, thyme, and basil. Sauté over medium heat 5 minutes. Add potato, celery, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. Sauté another 5 to 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and corn, plus lots of black pepper. Sauté another 8 to 10 minutes.

Add water (or stock), cover, and simmer about 15 minutes, or until everything is tender. (Make sure potatoes are done.) This should be enough time.

Stir in hot milk and remaining garlic. Remove from heat until 10 minutes before serving time, then heat gently.

I served this the first night with pieces of no-knead bread. The second night I took the same bread, turned it into croutons, and served it in the soup with some shredded parmesan reggiano and pecorino romano cheese. My favorite new trick with these types of cheese is to use my zester to shred just a bit of cheese on top without having to bust out my shredder. I did overdo it on the pepper a bit, but otherwise, this soup was very tasty and everyone liked it. Yay!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Grilled Chicken with Grilled Pineapple, Apples, and Pineapple-Citrus Reduction

I love it when Aaron cooks. The other night, after a plethora of my vegetarian dishes, Aaron wanted some chicken and fruit. We used the apple recipe from this dish and invented the rest. One of my very favorite things in the world is pineapple. I could eat it all day long. While Aaron was prepping everything, I ate the rest of the pineapple rings from the can. Mmm. Now I wish I had more.

Anyway, this is what Aaron did:

2 chicken breasts
4 pineapple rings (reserve juice from can)
Favorite herb/chop rub for chicken (A used TJ’s Steak and Chop Mix)
Juice from lemon, lime and ½ tangelo (orange would be fine)
Zest from above three
Cooked pasta (with a bit of butter)
Apples from Chicken with Apples and Cider

Heat grill (we have any awesome Panini press that works for this, but Mr. Foreman’s grill and the like are also fine). Rub herb mix on both sides of chicken and place on grill with pineapple rings.

In the meantime, mix juice from lemon, lime, tangelo, and pineapple with zest and bring to a boil in a pot. Reduce to a simmer and cook until thick. We started this a little too late and as a result it was still a little liquidy. It was still very tasty though.

One chicken is cooked and pineapples are grilled, place chicken over pasta, cover with sauce, and surround with apples. Place grilled pineapple on top and enjoy.

I love the tropical flavor. Plus, an excuse to eat tons of pineapple? I’m in!
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