Friday, June 15, 2012

Zucchini and Shallot Bread with Aged Gouda and Cheddar

This recipe was inspired by and adapted from a Dorie Greenspan recipe from her book, Around My French Table. After the loaf is baked, it will be good for 2-3 days stored in an air-tight container at room temperature. I doubled her recipe, opting to freeze and reheat one of the loaves when I had guests over for breakfast. If you intend to freeze a loaf, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. The day-old bread is wonderful toasted.

Makes 2 loaves
Total Time: about an hour

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's "Savory Cheese and Chive Bread"

Ingredients:
  • 3 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp baking powder
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 C whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2/3 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 heaping cup grated zucchini, well-drained (from about 2 medium zucchinis)
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 8 oz cheddar, grated
  • 4 oz aged gouda, grated
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • butter for greasing pans

Procedure:
Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) with a rack in the center of the oven. Grease the sides and bottom two 9x5 loaf pans with the butter. In a small skillet, add about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and saute the shallot. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, freshly ground pepper, and baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Stir in the flour until just combined and fold in the graded cheeses, shallot, and zucchini (do not overmix).

Divide the dough between pans and bake for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf comes out clean. Let cool on racks completely before serving.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Brussels Sprouts

These are great as a side dish or appetizer for a party. Try to get uniformly sized brussels sprouts, or at least fit similar sized ones on the same skewer to ensure even cooking. If you use wooden skewers, soak them in water before grilling. These reheat very well in the oven. I tossed them in a lightly greased baking dish and baked them for about 15 minutes at 400F (200C).


Total Time: about 40 minutes
Makes 16 brussels sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 16 brussels sprouts, tough outer leaves removed and woody stalks trimmed
  • 8 rashers of bacon, cut crosswise in half
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt
  • ice bath

Procedure:
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season generously with salt. Add the brussels sprouts and cook for 5-8 minutes, depending on the size of your vegetables. You want them to be just a bit tender when squeezed. Transfer the brussels sprouts to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Drain well.

Wrap a half-slice of bacon around each brussels sprout, securing the overlapping ends of the bacon as you slide it onto a skewer. You can probably fit 3-4 brussels sprouts onto each skewer. Position each so that the bacon-covered parts are all facing the same direction. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.

Meanwhile, preheat your grill over medium-high heat. Place the skewers on the grill, making sure the bacon makes contact with the grill grates. Grill 8-10 minutes per side, depending on the size of the sprouts, or until the bacon gets a bit crispy and the vegetables are cooked through.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mediterranean-Inspired Mac and Cheese



Total Time: about 30 minutes
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
1 lb dried macaroni elbows
4 oz feta, crumbled
1 small red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
12 oz canned tuna, packed in olive oil, drained
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp mustard powder
3 C skim milk
1 C half-and-half or cream
1/4 C basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp chopped oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Procedure:
Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta and season generously with salt. Cook the elbows until just al dente. Drain and keep warm while you make the sauce.

In the pasta pot, melt the butter over medium high heat and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the red onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring frequently, until the flour has darkened. Add the milk slowly, whisking constantly so that the sauce won't become lumpy. Add the cream, mustard powder, and teaspoon of salt. Cook until the sauce has thickened, stirring frequently. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. Add the feta, black pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes, and almost all of the basil (save a bit for a garnish). Stir until all of the cheese has melted, then taste for seasonings.

Add the pasta back to the pot, toss in the tuna, and stir together. Divide between bowls and garnish with the reserved basil leaves.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spiced Quinoa Lettuce Wraps

I was browsing for some recipes other than green salads to show off some of the lettuce we're growing and I came across these quinoa lettuce cups from Aarti Sequeira. Though I changed the spices and dressing a bit, they were the inspiration for these delightfully sweet and incredibly healthy little wraps.


Total Time: about 30 minutes
Makes 8-10 wraps

Ingredients:
  • 1 C quinoa, rinsed very well
  • 1 1/2 C water
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger root, minced
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp honey or agave nectar
  • 2 tsps fig balsamic vinegar (or balsamic vinegar of choice)
  • 1/4 C dried cranberries
  • kosher salt, to taste 
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 8-10 large Bibb lettuce leaves 

Procedure:

In a medium sauce pan, add the quinoa and water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the quinoa is fluffy and the germ is starting to show, about 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool a few minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, stirring frequently. Add the garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and red pepper flakes and toast until fragrant. Add the onions and carrots, season with a pinch of salt, and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the vegetable spice mixture to the quinoa and stir in the tamari, honey, vinegar, cranberries. Season with salt and black pepper to taste (I didn't end up needing to add any extra salt). Serve wrapped in lettuce leaves.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A more awesome BLT...

Bacon and avocados are meant to be together. And so are biscuits and bacon. And bacon and eggs. Alright, so bacon goes with damn near everything. But the combination of all these things and a bit of tomato make my favorite variation on a BLT (if you can even call it that). Slap it on a biscuit and it takes all my will power not to slather this sandwich over my face.



Makes 4 sandwiches
Total Time: less than 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 biscuits (try my own recipe!)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 avocado
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 4-8 slices of tomato, depending on your variety
  • freshly ground black pepper

Procedure:
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and fry the bacon until crispy. Lay the slices on a paper towel-lined plate while you prepare the eggs and the rest of the sandwich.

Slice the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop out the flesh and slice thinly. Cut the biscuits in half and top with the avocado slices, tomato slices and bacon.

Meanwhile, pour off all but a tablespoon of fat from the skillet. Heat over medium low and crack the eggs into the pan. Fry until the whites turn solid, cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until the egg yolks are the tiniest bit jiggly and a thin white film is starting to cover the yolks (for over-medium eggs). Remove from the heat immediately and transfer to your biscuit. Sprinkle with a little black pepper, if desired. Enjoy!

Note: If you don't like the deliciously gooey egg yolks which create their own dressing on your sandwich, feel free to fry them longer for over-hard eggs.

Buttery Biscuits

Biscuits are one of those simple baking recipes I have memorized. It's pretty handy to be able to whip these up in the morning for guests or a picnic without having to drag out a recipe book. Serve some of these up for brunch this weekend or alongside your fried chicken and greens.


Makes 6-8 biscuits
Total Time: about 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz (2 C) all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 C cream

Procedure:
Preheat the oven to 450F (230C) with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Work the cold butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or pastry blender (don't be too concerned with a few large chunks of butter in your dough--you'll just get yummy melty buttery bits in the finished product). Add just enough cream to form a dough and mix together with a fork or your hands.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured board and gently pat into a round disk a little over 1 inch high. It is very important here not to overwork the dough. With a 2 1/4- or 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter or ring mold, cut out the biscuits and place them on the prepared baking sheet so that their sides are touching. Collect the dough scraps and repeat the cutting process. After the second cutting process I usually only have enough dough to scrap together biscuit and it's usually a wonky shaped one (but still tastes just as good as the others).

Bake for 13-14 minutes, or until the tops have browned a bit. Let cool a few minutes before devouring.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Grilled Asparagus with Parsley Butter

It's grillin' weather. While you're cooking up some chicken or burgers, why not throw some tasty buttery vegetables on the grill? Make sure you don't use skinny stalks of asparagus; they will char up too quickly. Look for stalks about 1/2-inch thick.

I use a smaller grill grate laid perpendicular to the one on the grill so I don't worry about the asparagus falling through into the flames. It's definitely worth spending another $8 or so on an extra grate; they're handy for things like this, but you can also use it as an extra cooling rack, or on top of a baking sheet in the oven for making things like biscotti, chicken wings, etc.

This recipe will make extra herb butter. See my other note under the instructions for a suggestion of how to finish it (as if you needed ideas for using up butter).



Serves 2
Total Time: about 25-35 minutes (depending on how long it takes to heat your grill)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • pinch kosher salt

Procedure:
Heat your grill to medium-high heat. Lightly oil the grill grate.

Combine the butter, parsley, and salt in a bowl. Put the asparagus on the grill (see note above regarding the grates). Brush with a bit of the parsley butter and cook for about 2 minutes. Flip the spears over and brush with more butter; cook for another 2 minutes. Continue turning and basting with butter until the asparagus has browned a bit. Remove from the grill and serve!

BONUS: You might have some extra butter leftover. I did and used it up by brushing it over and grilling a few biscuits I had made that morning. I'm pretty sure that was one of the best ideas I've ever had. I'm sure the butter would also be heavenly over some grilled cornbread.