Archive for March, 2010

March 24, 2010

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars


I have been, and continue to, play with this recipe. But since so many of my co-workers raved about the bars I’ll post the recipe. I’d like to see a creamier texture to them.

Shortbread Crust
1 1/2 sticks softened butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt

Heat oven to 350°.
Cream the butter and sugar, then add flour and salt.
Cook the crust for 20 minutes until light brown.

Lemon Filling
4 eggs + 2 yolks
1 1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. lemon juice
1/3 c. flour
6 T melted butter

Look there is a heart shining on the filling mix – that’s because it’s made with love! ha ha!

Wisk eggs, sugar, and lemon juice. Then mix in flour and butter. When the shortbread comes out of the oven slowly pour the filling onto the crust.

Reduce the temperature to 300° and cook for 30minutes or until the filling is set. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. (I am going to make meringue and top the bars with that – something I saw in Thomas Kellers new book).

Cover and chill. Store for 3 days.

March 23, 2010

Spinach and Tomato Stracciatella Soup (egg drop soup)

Spinach and Tomato Stracciatella Soup

I began with a recipe from Epicurious.com then altered it. This soup is the italian version of egg drop soup you get in Asian restaurants. Way different flavors than the Asian version. It’s very good…

I added some tomatoes and orecchiette pasta. My daughter requested noodle soup tonight and I wanted to get her to eat this soup so perfect opportunity. She is sick today too so we needed some vitamins to kick our immune systems into gear and this soup is filled with the goods…

2 cups water
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt 
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 cup fresh torn spinach (or 10 oz pkg frozen spinach, not thawed)
1 oz grated parmesan cheese (1/2 cup for serving)
1/2 – 14oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup slightly undercooked orechiette pasta
2 large eggs, beaten
Croutons or garlic toasts

orechiette

Heat the water, broth, salt, and pepper in a sauce pan over moderate heat until hot.  Stir in spinanch, cheese, orechiette, and tomatoes.  Simmer and cover stirring occasionally, until the spinach is tender, about 8 minutes.

Sirring constantly, add beaten eggs in a slow stream.

Divide among bowls (serves 6) and top the soup with remaining cheese, toasts (or croutons) and serve.

My daughter ate the soup and even if she didn’t eat all of the spinach she ate the broth which has the good vitamins in it too! As usual I will make this again – I don’t post anything I wouldn’t make again! Another easy and healthy weeknight dinner. Seems that’s the theme of the week!

March 23, 2010

Garlic Toasts

Garlic Toasts

Slice a baguette in 1/8 inch thick slices

brush tops with olive oil sprinkle with a little salt.

Toast in upper part of a 400° oven for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. 

Slice a clove of garlic and rub on tops of all toasts).

March 22, 2010

Bok Choy Chicken

A fast easy chicken dish for your after work evenings. And it’s good!

Bok Choy Chicken and Brown Rice

2 chicken breasts
4 small bok choy
2 cups bean sprouts
1 clove garlic
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cayenne
drop or two of sesame oil
1 c. water
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4c. teriyaki
1T cornstarch mixed with 1 T water (roux)
2 green onions

Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Brown the chicken. Add soy sauce and teriyaki, and stir chicken to coat with sauce. Remove the chicken to a plate. Add chopped garlic saute a few minutes.

Quarter the bok choy. Add bok choy, bean sprouts and water to pan. Cover and reduce heat until bok choy is wilted. Add roux and stir. Let simmer for few minutes until sauce thickens. Add sliced green onions and stir.

Serve over brown rice.

March 18, 2010

Eating Right

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/chefsexperts/interviews/michaelpollaninterview

This is an Epicurious article – Q&A with Michael Pollan. He wrote the book Omnivoire’s Dilemma that I am currently reading. He also wrote Food Rules and In the Defense of Food.  Pollan writes about the Western Diet and how our food is killing us and attributing to our country’s obesity, heart disease, and cancer and how eating “real food” can change that.  I really hope you all take a look it’s very interesting!

March 16, 2010

Sun Dried Tomato Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

This is a different take on the Apricot version but with sundried tomatoes in place of the apricots.

1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes
1 T. unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
2 T. fresh sage, minced
3 T. pine nuts, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup. Mascarpone cheese
1 lb. pork tenderloin
8 slices prosciutto
1/2 cup dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 400F. 

In a small mixing bowl, combine the sage, pine nuts, apricots and all but 1 T. of the mascarpone.  Don’t mix yet…

In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the shallots for 5 minutes, or until golden. Add to the apricot mixture now mix well.

Make a deep slit down the side of the tenderloin from end to end, cutting nearly all the way through.  Open the butterflied meat and spoon the stuffing along the middle of the cut.  Fold the tenderloin around the stuffing.

Lay out 4 pieces of string and place the stuffed tenderloin on top, with the open/stuffed side facing up. Place the slices of prosciutto, slightly overlapping, on top of the tenderloin, and then tie the strings to hold it all together. 

Place the meat in a small roasting pan and roast for 30-45 minutes (temp registers 170° in stuffing and in thickest part of tenderloin), basting with the wine halfway through.  Remove from the oven and let rest on a warm platter.

Over medium heat, bring the pan juices to a simmer and whisk in the remaining 1 T. mascarpone.  Whisk well.  Remove from heat. 

Cut the strings and slice the tenderloin crosswise into 4 pieces.  Place them on a platter and drizzle the sauce over each piece. 

March 16, 2010

Barbeque!

Yes barbeque not just grilling (you know who you are!).

I bought a smoker this weekend and something was missing….

Disappointment...

Since I already bought the ribs and I want to eat ribs today I will alter my propane grill. Next weekend we smoke! (My daughter and her Auntie Tara will be able to have some then too…they will be so happy!)

Rub
3T. Kosher Salt
3T brown sugar
3T black pepper
2T paprika
2T garlic powder
2T onion powder
2t. mustard powder
dash of cayenne (or more if you like the heat)

Ribs
1 rack of baby back ribs
covered with rub and placed in fridge overnight or a few hours

SET UP FOR MY PROPANE GRILL:
Hickory is my favorite so I wrapped up some hickory chunks in foil. If I had an aluminum throw away pan I would have used that but instead I just used my roasting pan with the rack placed on top of the pan the opposite way so that I can put water in the pan and keep the ribs above it.

Ribs

Using one burner only, I placed the ribs on the opposite side of the grill of the burner that was turned on. I kept the temp about 220-230 until the ribs are done.

“Done” is an art that I’m still perfecting. Some places say until the meat falls off the bone. That is good and all, but I like the ribs a little “less done” so you have to pull them off with your teeth, but they still come clean off the bone. So about 3-4 hours.

But first you have to decide how you like your ribs…falling off the bone, or slightly less done…then figured out how long it takes in your environment (altitude and temps may change the cooking time) with your equipment.

If you use sauce, after slow cooking the ribs, crank up that heat on your grill. Slather those baby backs with some good sauce and place on grill and cook until the sauce carmelizes.

March 16, 2010

Barbeque Sauce

I love vinegar-sweet sauce and have played with this recipe a lot. Everytime I make it I seem to alter it maybe a little more. But this is the best version yet.

1/2 white onion (Or 2 shallots)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 c. beer
1 can tomato sauce
1/4 c. vinegar
2/3 c. brown sugar
1T worchestershire
1T soy sauce
1T hot sauce
1t. mustard powder

Saute onion and garlic in butter for 2 minutes. Add beer next and stir. Add the rest of the ingredients – adding the tomato sauce last. Simmer for 1 hour.

March 7, 2010

Artisan Breads Every Day w/Peter Reinhart @ Nothing To It!

(Please forgive the photo quality – they were taken on my phone) 

On Saturday I took a class at Nothing To It! (which is a great place to take cooking classes this was my second class with them). My dad gave me the book Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day (you have probably seen it in my list of cookbooks I use/read and I mentioned it in my Ciabatta post).  Several weeks ago I saw that he was actually teaching a class at Nothing To It, what coincidence! So I signed up right away! Lucky I did because looking at his schedule, his other classes on the West Coast have filled up and there were several out-of-towners in our class. There were 60 people in the class and that’s pretty significant for the small cooking school in small town Reno. 

The class was great. I learned a lot and just watching an expert make bread is a great experience. To watch Peter mix, shape and bake the bread is a lesson on it’s own. But he also shared tips and knowledge he picked up during his years of experiences being a baker – owning a bakery, writing cookbooks and now teaching.   As well as sharing the science of bread. In fact I could probably use a few classes of this information!- he teaches at Johnson and Wales. 

A Couple of the many things I took away from this class: 

Oil instead of butter! Peter mentioned that he started using oil and has found the dough is more supple. So I will be trying this out.

High altitude baking – water boils at a lower temp, which means you can reduce the oven temps.  We (those of us here in Carson) are only at 4500 ft so it’s not a huge difference and we probably don’t need to do this. However, since our climate is drier – and higher altitude environments are generally drier – it may require us to use more water in some recipes. AH HA moment! hence my Babka recipe blunder! I thought the dough was too dry but didn’t think I could add more water without compromising the dough. I was prepared to ask him if he would add more water to some of the recipes since we have a drier environment, but that was the first question that came up in the class! Guess I wasn’t the only one with that problem!!! My biggest babka problem was that it was not cooked through. I thought I used too much chocolate which resulted in it being undercooked, well this was the bread that Peter had to keep checking in class and it went back in the oven several times! While it seems to brown fast it didn’t burn like I thought it would so I should have just kept baking it – now I know. 

Babka

Babka and Challa baking

Next Peter demonstrated how to do a 6 braid Challa (pronounced hall-a, which makes me think of that Gwen Stefani song…holla back girl! LOL)! Instructions for braiding are pretty intimidating, but much easier to absorb when you get to see it done first hand!

Challa Braiding

Taste

While the enriched doughs (Challa, brioche) and sweat breads are super good, my favorites are definitely the lean doughs.  The nutty, crusty breads have always been my favorite, well before I got started making bread.  So my favorites are ciabattas, batards, boules and the like. However, the sticky buns are fantastic. Peter made three different stucky buns and my favorite was the cranberry pecan – those of you who eat my food will be having this sometime soon!  There was much more I learned that will help me in my bread making adventures! I feel more confident that while bread recipes are so scientific, I have more room to play around with than I thought.  So I’m going to be BRAVE in my bread making now! LOL I tell my daughter to “be brave” whenever she is scared…

This is the worst photo of me but I’m going to post it anyway because it’s all I have. It was a great class and I can’t wait to start making more bread! 

Me and Peter

March 2, 2010

Lavash Chips

Lavash is a flat bread, referred to as a Middle Eastern bread. To me Middle Eastern is pretty broad so I looked further. Apparently the bread has origins in Armenia, and is popular in Turkey, Georgia, and Iran too – hence the generalization of “Middle Eastern.” The bread is thin and flat – thinner than a tortilla but the texture reminds me more of naan bread (if you haven’t ever had naan get yourself to Trader Joes, even Albertsons/Savemart and get the Naan Brand – garlic is my favorite! Toast it up with butter – heaven!) Naan bread is of Indian origin and cooked in a tandoor oven. Lavash bread is also made in a tandoor oven – dough is rolled out flat and slapped against the hot walls of a tandoor oven, then peeled off.

This Lavash bread would be great for wraps and rolled sandwiches! This is the main reason I bought the bread to use for wraps. BUT first! I thought I’d make some chips. For this I just rubbed both sides of the bread with some good olive oil, cut the bread into small wedges and sprinkled with some herbs de provence and coarse sea salt.

Lavash Bread

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. Careful this bread dries out fast and you don’t want to burn it!

Lavash Chips...tada!

Yum…serve with humus, salsa, mediterranean salsa (coming soon to this blog) or just eat naked! (No I don’t mean without your clothes, but hey whatever makes you happy!)