Saturday, December 26, 2009

Spaghetti with Pea Shoots, Mint and Ricotta Salata

*Whole wheat spaghetti works really well with this.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pasta Puttanesca with Roasted Tomatoes and Tuna

Every summer I roast and freeze tomatoes to use when they are out of season. This dish is great with fresh tomatoes, but since it's December, I tapped into my reserve and used the roasted ones instead. It actually ends up saving time, since the tomatoes are already caramelized and you can just throw them into the sauce as is.

Boil pasta. Melt anchovies in a little olive oil, and add garlic (I just throw in whole cloves), capers and chili flakes. Add tomatoes, tuna*, smashed Kalamata olives, and a little pasta water. Season with black pepper. Toss with drained pasta and serve.

*I always use tuna canned in olive oil for cooking. I think it is more flavorful and moist than the kind in water, but you could use either.

Radicchio with Clementines, Green Olives, Feta Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Banana Tart Tatine

This recipe is from Jamie Oliver (with a few changes by me), and is delicious! I served it with dulce de leche ice cream.

2 oz butter
3/4 C sugar
4 large bananas
Ground cinnamon
Zest of one tangerine, or half an orange
1/2 lb puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy skillet, melt the butter and add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Cook over low heat until golden and caramelized (about 5 minutes). Meanwhile, peel the bananas and slice them about an inch thick. Lay them carefully on top of the caramel (watch out- the caramel is very hot). Remove from heat and sprinkle some cinnamon and the orange zest on top. Lay the puff pastry over the top of the skillet, and carefully tuck it around the inside to make sure there are no gaps. Using a knife or fork, poke a few holes to vent the tart. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is puffy and golden.

When the tart comes out of the oven, place a serving plate on top and carefully (wear oven mitts!) turn it over. You want to do this right away or the caramel will harden and make it much harder to remove the tart from the pan. If the pastry's not quite cooked on the bottom, stick it back in the oven for another few minutes. Otherwise, serve!

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

This is based on a recipe from Deb at Smitten Kitchen. If you can find pre-made dulce de leche, you can simply combine it with the hot milk mixture, chill, and freeze. If you prefer to make the dulce de leche from scratch, you can do that, too- here's a recipe on Apartment Therapy. But if you're like me and would rather not spend the time, condensed milk makes an easy shortcut.

1 2/3 C sweetened condensed milk
1 C cream
2 C whole milk
Vanilla (1 bean or 1 tsp extract)

Cook the condensed milk over low heat, stirring constantly to keep it from burning. In a second pot, bring the milk and cream to a boil with the vanilla. When the condensed milk has caramelized to a golden brown and is very thick, whisk it together with the milk mixture. If you used a vanilla bean, remove it from the milk now. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in an ice bath in the refrigerator until cold. Follow the instructions on your ice cream maker to freeze.


This is another recipe from Deb at Smitten Kitchen.

2 lbs boiling potatoes
1 1/2 C flour
Pinch of salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Boil the potatoes until fork tender. Pass through a ricer, or grate into a large bowl with the fine side of a box grater. Add the egg and mix together with a wooden spoon. Add the flour a little at a time until thoroughly combined. Transfer to a floured board and knead like you would bread dough (for about 3-4 minutes). Divide into 6 pieces and roll each piece with your hands into "ropes" about 3/4 inch thick. Chop into 1 inch "pillows." If you'd like, roll each pillow across the back of a fork to create the traditional shape. At this point you can boil the gnocchi (add to a pot of boiling, salted water and cook for about 1 minute after they have risen to the surface), pan fry them until browned*, or freeze them for later use.

*To pan fry, I boiled the gnocchi until they rose to the surface of the water, tossed them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and then threw them in a hot pan for a few minutes. They were delicious this way!

Chicken with Olives and Fennel

There was a recipe for chicken with olives in the most recent issue of Jamie Magazine, but when I examined it I thought it seemed sort of boring. I was inspired by the concept and decided to make up my own dish instead. This is sort of like a fricassee, but with a bit of a Southern Italian/Northern African spin on it.

1 onion, sliced
2 bulbs fennel, quartered (keep the fronds aside, chopped)
Parsley, chopped
6 sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
4 chicken breasts, cut into large pieces
1 1/2 C green olives, cracked and pits removed
1/2 C Preserved lemon peel*, rinsed and diced
2 C chicken broth
4 Tbs flour
Olive oil
1/2 C white wine

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a heavy, oven-proof pot or dutch oven, lightly saute the onions with the bay leaves, thyme, and olive oil. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. In the same pot, brown the chicken, and set aside. Add the white wine to the pot to deglaze it. When most of the wine has evaporated, add the flour and stir until all the oil and drippings are absorbed (you can add a little extra oil if there isn't much left). Gradually add broth to form a thin gravy. Add the chicken, onions and herbs, along with the fennel, olives, and preserved lemons. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Garnish with the fennel fronds and parsley.

*If you don't have preserved lemons, you can just use thinly sliced fresh lemons. Don't dice them- keep them in slices so they are easy to avoid when it's time to eat, as they will be very bitter.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Annie's with Tuna and Spinach

Sometimes I just crave processed mac and cheese a la Kraft. As you may have gathered, I love real cheese, but it is an entirely different food than Velveeta. Although in general I buy whole foods and put them together myself, there's nothing wrong with stepping over to the dark side a couple times a year. When I do, I try to compromise by buying organic substitutions. Annie's Goldfish alternative, Cheddar Bunnies, are a dangerously good snack, and I'm a huge fan of Sunny Bears, the gummy bears from SunRidge Farms. When it comes to mac and cheese, Annie's Organic Whole Wheat Shells with White Cheddar are about as healthy and responsible as you can get when it comes to processed food, and mixed with some tuna and fresh spinach, it's a delicious way to satisfy my craving.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Sandwich

It has to be sourdough bread. And don't skip the mayonnaise. There is something magical about the way cranberry sauce and mayo combine, topped with stuffing and sliced turkey. This is my favorite sandwich in the world. If I could choose my dying meal, it would be a Thanksgiving sandwich with corn pudding on the side, and a slice of pumpkin pie for dessert.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sweet Potato-Coconut Pudding

This is a Deborah Madison recipe that I tried the first time for Thanksgiving. I'm not sure I loved it (it took much longer to cook than it was supposed to and the eggs in the custard scrambled a bit so it tasted really eggy)- I think next time I would try making a stovetop custard and see how that went.

2 cups cooked sweet potato, from 1½ lbs. sweet potatoes
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk (1¾ cups)
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
⅞ cup dark muscovado sugar or organic dark sugar
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup wide strips dried coconut

If you haven’t sweet potatoes already cooked, chop them into large pieces and steam until tender, about 30 minutes. Peel, then coarsely mash.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put a kettle of water on to boil for the bath.

Purée the cooked sweet-potato flesh in a blender or food processor with the remaining pudding ingredients until smooth.

Pour the pudding mixture into a 2-quart baking dish. Set it in a larger dish and add the boiling water to come halfway up the sides. Bake until the pudding is firm, 45 to 50 minutes.

Before the oven cools, toast the coconut shavings on a sheet pan until crisp and golden, just a few minutes.
Once the pudding has cooled, top with whipped cream, cover with the toasted coconut, and serve.

Apple Pie

I can't believe I've never posted apple pie before! To be honest it is not one of my favorite pies (just as vanilla is not one of my favorite ice creams), but everyone else loves it, and I've certainly made my share of apple pies.

6-8 apples (or more if you are using small, home-grown ones)
Ground cinnamon
Ground nutmeg (I recommend grating your own- you only need a tiny bit, as it is very strong)
Ground ginger (or you can grind fresh ginger- yum!)
Ground cardamom
2 Tbs corn starch
Juice of one lemon
1 stick of butter, diced into small cubes
Two pie crusts

Peel and chop the apples how you like (I usually do pretty big chunks) and toss with the lemon juice to stop them from discoloring. Add the spices (to taste), corn starch, and butter and put aside. Roll out your crusts. Fit one into the bottom of your pie pan, and fill it with the apple mixture. I like my filling to mound up a bit, but use your judgement on how much will fit. The traditional way to do the top crust is to simply lay it over the top and pierce it with a fork or knife in the center to vent the steam, crimping the edges. This pie definitely needs to be mostly covered because the apples will dry out otherwise, but you can have fun with it! You could do a lattice, or use cookie cutters to make shapes like the stars I did here. I also brushed my crust with some egg wash and sprinkled a little sugar on top, just to make it extra pretty.

Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, and then turn the oven down to 350 and bake for another 45-50 minutes until the apples are soft and the crust is golden brown.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hot Cereal with Raspberries

My dad gave me these raspberries from his yard and I wanted to have them for breakfast. Since it's cold and rainy out, I opted for something cozy. My favorite hot cereal is Malt O Meal but I prefer it savory, not sweet. Cream of Wheat would have been my first choice for this dish, but since I didn't have any I used polenta and it came out great! I just cooked it with milk instead of water, and added a tiny bit of sugar.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lemon Mascarpone Tart

I had a slice of this tart at River Cafe last month and have been dreaming about it ever since. I found the recipe and made it for some friends the other night- served with a dollop of creme fraiche (or sour cream) it was every bit as delicious as I remembered, but I would recommend adding even more lemon zest if you can to make it extra lemony.

For the sweet pastry

Unsalted butter 8 oz
Egg yolks, organic 3
Plain flour 1 1/2 C
Salt 1/2 tsp
Icing sugar 1/2 C

For the filling

Lemons 6
Eggs, organic 6
Egg yolks, organic 6
Caster sugar 1 1/2 C
Mascarpone 1 1/3 C
Icing sugar 2 tbsp

For the pastry, cut the cold butter into small pieces. Separate the eggs. In a food processor, pulse-chop the flour, salt and butter to the texture of coarse breadcrumbs. Add the icing sugar and egg yolks, and pulse into a soft ball. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 300F. Coarsely grate the pastry into a loose-bottomed, fluted 10" tin, then press it down evenly to cover the sides and base. Line with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 20 minutes. Cool.

Reduce the oven to 275F. For the filling, grate the lemon zest, squeeze the juice, and mix together. Beat the whole eggs and extra yolks with the sugar. Add the mascarpone, stir to combine, then stir in the lemon mixture.

Pour into the tart shell and bake for an hour. Leave to cool, then sprinkle over the icing sugar. Serve with sour cream.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Out Like a Lamb

A little while ago I saw Bobby Flay on Iron Chef making a rack of lamb glazed with honey, chilis, blackberries and rosemary. My immediate reaction was, "that would make a GREAT cocktail!" so I decided to give it a try.

I made a honey syrup (1/2 water and 1/2 honey, brought to a boil and stirred) with rosemary, chili peppers, and black peppercorns steeped in it, and then muddled some blackberries (frozen from the summer) with orange peel. Then I combined the two with gin... spicy, sweet, aromatic, yum!

Duck Legs with Quince, Plums and Sage

This is a pretty broad adaptation of a Jamie Oliver recipe. I followed his steps pretty closely but all the ingredients except the duck and plums are different (his recipe had a more Asian slant, with chilis and cinnamon and soy sauce). Since I made this up as I went along, there are no quantities- just use your judgement.

Duck legs
Sage leaves
Fennel seed
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Chili flakes

Marinate the duck legs in orange juice and olive oil with sage, fennel seed, salt, pepper, and chili flakes for an hour or more. Cut the plums and quince into large chunks and toss with a little lemon juice (to keep the quince from discoloring) and honey (you can skip the honey- my plums were not very ripe so I wanted to sweeten them up a little). When the duck is done marinating, toss the quince and plums in the marinade and arrange in the bottom of a baking pan, with the duck legs on top. Roast in a 325 degree oven for 2 hours.

I served this over creamy polenta (surprise!), with a big green salad on the side and roasted squash.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Roasted Vegetables with an Egg

Pretty simple: just some roasted sweet potatoes, squash, beets and fennel with an egg on top! If I was better at poaching eggs, I think that would have been even better, but this was very tasty.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Spinach with Avocado, Grapefruit, and Fennel

This is also really good with smoked whitefish or trout, if you have it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Croque Madame (or Monsieur)

For Croque Monsieur, skip the eggs.

2 slices good bread
Sliced gruyere cheese
Thinly sliced, aged ham (proscuitto works great)
Dijon mustard
2 eggs

Spread mustard on both slices of bread. In a large frying pan, melt the butter, and place the bread in it, mustard-side up. On one half, arrange the sliced cheese, and on the other, the ham. Cook until the bread is nice and brown on the bottoms, and flip the cheese half onto the ham half to assemble the sandwich, keeping it on one side of the pan. Crack the eggs into the empty side of the frying pan and fry until the white is mostly cooked. Cover the pan with a lid to finish melting the cheese on the sandwich, and to just cook the top of the egg yolk (you want the yolk to still be runny, just not raw). Serve the eggs on top of the sandwich, with a nice green salad on the side.

National Sandwich Day! (Finocchiona, Manchego and Figs on Walnut Bread)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pasta with Caramelized Sweet Potatoes, Arugula, Purple Basil and Goat Cheese

To caramelize the sweet potatoes: parboil them just so they are barely cooked, and then let them caramelize in a hot pan with olive oil (or butter!), some garlic and seasoning. To make them extra sweet, you could add some honey or brown sugar.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Chorizo and Butter Bean "Stew"

As I've posted many times before, I have a huge crush on Jamie Oliver. Ever since his days as the Naked Chef, I've been following his cookbooks, television shows, products, projects and now... his magazine. I love getting Jamie Magazine every other month more than any other piece of mail. It's chock full of simple, rustic recipes, including the magnificent "recipe a day" centerfold, and is a constant source of cooking inspiration for me. I am so excited for his American tv series to start!

I had leftover polenta from last night's dinner, so I decided to have it for dinner with this chorizo and butter bean "stew" from the latest issue of Jamie. One thing I love about Jamie's recipes is that they are very intuitive, so even though he provides quantities and instruction, it's pretty easy to just look at the ingredients and improvise. I made this by just sauteing some Spanish chorizo with onion, adding some canned tomatoes and beans, and simmering until it was all good and soft. It was, as Mr. Oliver would say, "easy peasy" and deliciously smoky on a cold autumn night.

*Note: I also served this on top of crostini as an hor d'oeuvre at my last dinner party and it was a huge hit! I paired them with my "Out Like a Lamb" cocktail, which really complimented the smokiness of the chorizo. To make crostini, just slice good bread, brush with olive oil, and bake for a few minutes until it gets crispy. Then top with whatever you like!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Bee's Knees!

This is a classic 1920's cocktail that I recently discovered and LOVE.

3 parts gin
2 parts lemon juice
1 part honey syrup (1/2 honey, 1/2 warm water, whisked together)

Polenta with Roasted Winter Vegetables and Swiss Chard in "Bagna Cauda"

Bagna cauda is an anchovy-based sauce that is used for dipping vegetables. At the River Cafe in London, I had it with some delicious winter vegetables, and I decided to make a main course out of it at home by serving it over polenta. I just roasted beets, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and fennel with a little olive oil, thyme, and fennel seed. Meanwhile I made the sauce with anchovies, garlic, olive oil, and a little sweet vermouth and lemon juice, and I wilted some swiss chard in that while I made the polenta. The saltiness of the anchovies really complimented the sweetness of the root vegetables. Yum!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Tacos

This is pretty much a direct rip off from Doña Tomas... except theirs were called "quesadillas" and served with an amazing tomatillo salsa. Lacking tomatillos, I just used lemon thyme instead of regular thyme to add a little citrus to the dish.

1 medium sweet potato/yam, peeled and diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
lemon thyme
goat cheese
salt and pepper
3 small corn tortillas

Parboil the sweet potato. Sautee the onion and garlic until lightly caramelized. Add the sweet potato and season with thyme, salt and pepper. Serve in small corn tortillas.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pasta with Tuna and Arugula

1/3 pound pasta (any kind- all I had were tortelli)
1/2 can tuna packed in olive oil
about 1 C arugula
1/4 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp red chili flakes
salt and pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon

This is an easy dish that can be varied in a million ways. You could add capers (I meant to but forgot), or tomato paste, or broccolini, or use anchovies instead of tuna... All I do is quickly sautee the onions and garlic with the chili flakes, add the tuna just to heat it, and then throw the arugula on top and let it wilt while the pasta boils. Then you can just squeeze a little fresh lemon juice into the mixture, toss it with the pasta, and eat! Yum. These quantities serve one, by the way.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Banana Milk "Shake"

I used to make this all the time in college, but I forgotten about it until I had a banana-Dulce de Leche milkshake in LA last weekend, and now I can't get enough!

1 Banana
1 Cup Milk
1/2 oz Simple Syrup (or more if you like it sweet)
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend and serve over ice! (Peanut butter and honey on walnut bread optional.)

Endives, Baby Spinach, Comice Pears (from Dad's garden!), and Shaved P'tit Basque with Aged Balsamic

I have been really into endives lately. They add such a nice crunch to baby greens.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Endive and Watercress Salad with Pluots and Marcona Almonds in a Lemon-Yogurt Dressing

Lemon-Yogurt Dressing
1/4 C plain yogurt
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Still Hungry?

Hello again! I am thinking about posting on this blog again. Most of the things I cook lately are very simple (and don't really require recipes), but I would like to keep a better record of them, so I guess that this will be more of a collection of different combinations of ingredients from here on out (with the occasional real recipe, I'm sure). Summer makes it easy to take advantage of all the wonderful local produce available. Here are some of the things I've eaten over the last couple of months:

Tomatoes on toast with Fleur Verte goat cheese.

Blistered Padron peppers with sea salt.

(Richard made this one, but I intend to copy it.)
Tomatoes, basil, snap peas and grilled chicken in a garlic-anchovy dressing.

Sangria made with kumquats, key limes, plums, nectarines, grapefruit, and Moscato D' Asti.

Little gems lettuces with Mission figs and mint in a creme fraiche dressing.

Homemade pot pie and a spinach salad with mint, basil, fennel and strawberries with pecans and ricotta in an orange-balsamic dressing.

"The Eton Mess" (strawberries, whipped cream, and crushed meringues).

A gimlet with bergamot-basil simple syrup, lemon juice, and vodka.

Scrambled eggs with broccoli rabe and aged Danish gouda served with fruit salad and toast.

Tomato-grape salad with mint and feta.