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.