"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chicken, Sun Dried Tomato and Avocado Wrap

My friend gave me some shwarma seasoning which I have been looking forward to using and I just whipped up some sun dried tomato hummus so I decided to search my refrigerator and make a wrap for dinner! I made two wraps, one for the Taste Tester and one for me, as it turns out, this is a newly requested healthy side to dinner. I found some great tasting whole wheat wraps at Whole Foods so these were much healthier that your traditional white flour wrap.

Chicken, Sun Dried Tomato and Avocado Wrap

1 whole wheat wrap

Sun dried tomato hummus
Mixed greens
Sun dried tomatoes, sliced
Avocado, sliced
1 chicken breast, sliced into strips
Shwarma seasoning
Olive oil

1. Heat some olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick skillet. Put the chicken strips on the skillet and generously sprinkle with shwarma seasoning and a drizzle of olive oil. After five minutes, flip the strips and sprinkle the other side with shwarma seasoning. Remove from heat when fully cooked.
2.  Spread the sun dried hummus on the whole wheat wrap. Put some mixed greens down, followed by the chicken strips, sun dried tomatos and avocado.

Roll like a wrap and enjoy!

Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

This hummus has hand down been my most successful one! It was the perfect consistency and wonderfully even in ingredients. Fortunatley I made a lot of it and the entire tub was finished by four people over one dinner! This is a no fail recipe.

1 1/2 cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup of the juice from the chickpea can
12 sundried tomatoes
6 garlic cloves
1/3 cup tahini
a little less than 1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Mince the garlic cloves and sundried tomatos in a food processor. Add all the other ingredients and blend until you have your desired consistancy. YUM!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Whole Wheat Beer Bread

Two weekends ago I went to the Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue, Long Island. After a rather scenic and snowy hour and half train ride we finally arrived at the local hot spot. Small, cozy and full of good'ol beer aficionados. It was a lot of fun and we got to try all the beers for free! They have a delicious, award wining toasted lager. It's a nice light amber color and has some bready undertones. You can really taste the malt and hops. We took home a bunch of goodies from the brewery including some of their toasted lager. Actually, the day of our adventure out there, was the first day of New York snow so we ended up sprinting back to catch the train in Patchogue carrying two growlers of their pale ale, some Blue Point glasses, and their lager. Fast forward a couple days later and the main course is vegetable soup, I decide to make whole wheat beer bread. I loved the taste of this bread. It was thick, dense, healthy, hearty and smelled like beer!The batter smelled incredible before it was baked and after it still had a beer aroma. I imagine this would taste great with bratwurst or some mustard and sausage.

Whole Wheat Beer Bread

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
12 ounces beer
1/8 cup honey

1. Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees
2. Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, slowly pour in the beer and honey and mix just until evenly incorporated
3. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean

Monday, December 21, 2009

Super Vegetable Soup

I made this vegetable soup back in the summer and ever since, my boyfriend has been requesting it. The tricky thing is that when I made it, I just threw together whatever vegetables I had so I had no idea how to recreate it exactly. He remembers it being orange and yellow which lead me to believe there was a lot of yellow squash and carrots. We enjoyed this soup with some homemade beer bread and freshly grated parmesan cheese. I recommend picking up some thick whole wheat bread to truly enjoy this soup. This soup is super because it keeps really well. It tastes great chilled and you can pack it for lunch for the next few days. It's also super because there are so many vegetables in it and it's filling and healthy. My recipe doesn't have any salt so if you prefer to add it in, then go for it! Also, I prefer vegetable soups to be a little chunkier, but you can easily puree to get your desired consistency. I just put the cooked vegetables in the food processor for a couple seconds to keep the chunkiness.

1 lb yellow squash (about 2 1/2 large squash), cut into 1/2 inch slices
5 bella mushrooms, cut into thirds
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 whole carrots, cut into 1 inch sliced
1 1/2 cup corn kernels
3 large shallots, minced
3 small Thai chilies, chopped
1 large leek, chopped
2 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin

1. Combine all the ingredients, except for the water, in a large pot over medium heat for about 3 minutes.
2. Stir in the water and let simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
3. Pour the soup in batches into a food processor and pulse for a few seconds to get a consistent texture.
4. Sprinkle with some grated cheese, dried pepper flakes, or some mint and enjoy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Andy's Squid Ink Pasta with Sauteed Shellfish

My good friend Andy has been on a mission to cook with squid ink after seeing it on an Italian cooking show about a Christmas feast of the 7 fishes. In the Mediterranean, squid and cuttlefish ink is prepared in dishes such as risotto, paella and pasta. It's a pitch black sauce and usually made with onions or tomatoes. Andy prepared his with onions. Squid ink has to be carefully extracted from the ink sac in the squid. It's a pricey purchase, but well worth the flavors. It tastes a little salty, but it's a mild flavor that is very accommodating in pasta. It tends to stain everything from your teeth to your lips. Here is a picture of the bottle of squid ink that Andy picked up at the Italian grocery in the Chelsea Market.

Andy's Squid Ink Pasta with Sauteed Shellfish

Squid ink
1 onion, diced
Olive oil
Dried chili pepper flakes
1 red bell pepper, diced

1. In a bowl marinate the scallops, shrimp and calamari in olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, pepper and dried chili flakes. Cover and chill for 20 minutes.
2. Prepare the pasta in a large pot with boiling water.
3. In a pan over medium heat, saute the onion and add the cooked pasta. Gradually add the squid ink, stirring to incorporate.

4. In a separate pan, saute the scallops, shrimp and calamari with a bit of their marinade just until cooked.

5. On a plate put the pasta, followed by the shellfish and sprinkle with the diced red pepper. Enjoy!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins with Walnuts and Raisins

These delicious and healthy muffins are courtesy of the 365 label on a Whole Foods can of pumpkin puree. I decided to alter the recipe a bit to add some texture and sweetness. These muffins tasted delicious with some apple butter and with some whipped frosting. I also added a lot more spices. These raised very nicely and were fluffy and very low fat. I will definitely make these again and perhaps swap out some of the sugar with honey. These would also taste great with some pieces of dark chocolate chips.

1 cup flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten (or 1/4 cup fake eggs)
3/4 cup soy milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and sprinkle a little flour in a 12 muffin tin and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and make a little well in the center of the bowl. Add in the egg, milk, butter and pumpkin and whisk just until moist. Add the walnuts and raisins and mix just until in combines. The batter should be clumpy.
3. Fill the 12 muffin tins about 2/3 of the way. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Cool on a rack and enjoy! Best enjoyed with a spread of apple butter and some milk.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sweet Potato Cumin Latkes

Okay, I'm on a latke kick. I feel almost like once Chanukah is over, I can't make latkes until next year. I love sweet potatoes so I wanted to show this lovely root vegetable a little bit of love on a holiday other than Thanksgiving. Cumin is fragrant and strong so it added a lovely, almost Indian taste to the latkes. Sweet potato fries different and much more quickly that regular potato so make sure you are paying close attention when the sweet potato latkes are on the skillet. Also, because sweet potato is a little dryer than regular potato when raw, it doesn't stick together as easily so you need to use both hands to keep it all together on the skillet. The sweet potato has a nice sweetness that really comes out. These latkes taste great with a bit of sour cream, gorgonzola cheese or apple sauce. I had Andy and the Taste Tester try these latkes and these were both their favorites!

1 large sweet potato
1/4 white onion
1/3 cup flour
2 eggs, fake eggs work perfectly
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

1. Peel the sweet potato and grate it in the food processor. Finely dice the onion.
2. Mix the grated potato, onion, flour, eggs and cumin in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Heat canola oil in skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, place small mounds, about 1/8 cup, of the batter onto the skillet and carefully working with your spatula, keep all the potato together. Fry on each side until starting to crisp on the edges.

4. Place latkes on a cooling rack lined with paper towels and blot to dry. Serve warm and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Potato Squash Latkes

Happy Chanukah! In order, my favorite Jewish holiday foods are 1. latkes, 2. hamentashen, 3. haroset and 4. chocolate covered matzoh (I'm not sure how traditional 4 is). As a kid, one of my happiest memories is helping my Dad make latkes every Chanukah. It was his responsibility to feed the bottomless pits of our family with his delicious crispy latkes. I remember sitting on stools in our garage and helping him peel the potatoes. I remember him wearing goggles when he cut the onions and sweating like a marathon runner over the hot oil filled skillets that were on all four oven burners. As his apprentice, I usually got first dibs on the first couple of latkes. Then our family would show up and it was every person for him or herself! We always ate ours with sour cream and applesauce only but this year I saw images of latkes with lox and the contrast of textures and flavors seemed, and was, delicious! My friend Andy and I had a little impromptu Chanukah dinner and I made the latkes to match his delicious chicken matzoh ball soup (recipe to come). Because I can probably never make straight up potato latkes taste as good as my Dad's, I have to create new variations. This one was flavorful, crispy and fantastic with all the fixings.

3 large potatoes
2 large yellow squash
1/2 white onion
1 cup flour
3 eggs, I use fake eggs
Canola oil
Garlic powder

Sour cream

1. Peel the potatoes and grate them in a food processor using the grating blade to get tiny thin strips. Grate the squash to get the same size pieces as the potato. Finely chop the onion.
2. In a bowl, mix together the grated potatoes, squash, onions, flour, eggs, garlic powder and pepper.
3. Heat enough canola oil to cover the bottom of a skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add small mounds, about 1/8 cup, of the potato batter to the skillet, flatten with a spatula. Flip when the sides are turning brown and beginning to crisp. A few minutes per side.

4. Line a cooling rack with paper towels and have spare ones to press down on the latkes to remove excess oil. Place fried latkes on the paper towels for a few minutes then place on a plate in the oven to keep warm. Serve warm with sour cream, apple sauce and lox.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Spicy Pineapple Chicken Fried Rice

On a cold weeknight, my boyfriend and I were walking home and not sure what to make for dinner. Naturally, I decided to walk into one of the many grocery stores that trace our path home. The one ingredient that caught my attention and inspired a meal was a small stack of pineapples. It probably caught my attention because it reminds me of Thailand or anywhere hot and tropical which is where I would love to be. I'm not so sure it's the pineapple season, and the frigid wind is definitely starting to pick up, but that's all the more reason to bring a little tropical sensation into our dinner. This dish was surprisingly easy and incredible flavorful. I think that it's better to try and keep the ingredient list short as the sweet pineapple can easily be overpowered with too many spices. Also, while I didn't have any cashews, I think that is the one thing that was really missing from this dish. I used chicken for this dish but pieces of ham or beef would also taste delicious or shrimp! This recipe makes enough filling to refill each pineapple bowl two times. This recipe packs a lot of spice so if you prefer more mild tastes, definitely cut back or omit the Thai chilies. I'll be honest, my sinuses were cleaned out instantly, but the heat is intense.

1 ripe pineapple
1 cup brown basmati rice
5 small chicken breast tenderloins, cut into small pieces
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3/4 red bell pepper, chopped
3 eggs, I used fake eggs
2 small Thai chili peppers
Cayenne pepper
Sriracha sauce
Olive oil

1. Carefully cut the pineapple in half length wise. With a smaller knife cut out a rectangular bowl in the two pineapple halves. Using a spoon, scoop out the pineapple flesh and juice leaving a 1 inch border around the pineapple. Save all the juice and pineapple chunks in a bowl and set aside. Place pineapple halves upside down on a rack to drain.
2. Begin cooking the basmati brown rice according to instructions on the box.
3. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and sprinkle with cayenne pepper, cook chicken completely, set aside.
4. Add some more olive oil to the pan and saute the carrots, onions and bell peppers.
5. In a separate pan scramble the eggs.
6. Add chicken to the vegetables and add the rice and eggs and Thai chilies. Add the pineapple chunks and saute all together. Add the rice, some of the pineapple juice and a lot of Sriracha sauce. Gently mix until all the ingredients are combined and the Sriracha sauce is evenly distributed. Scoop mixture into the pineapple bowls and begin your feast!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bitter Greens Salad with Apple, Pecans and Blue Cheese and Maple Vinegarette

For a holiday party I wanted to make a tasteful leafy salad to compliment all the rich and filling dishes. This salad can definitely be a meal by itself. It's packed with fruit, nuts and cheese and the maple vinegarette helps to offset the bitterness of the radicchio in the salad. I think that this salad is pretty versatile and the apples can easily be replaced with pears or even strawberries. Also, the pecans can be substituted with walnuts and the blue cheese can be swaped with gorgonzola or feta. In addition, if you want to pack in some extra flavor you can definitely add in bits of crumbled bacon or shredded pieces of turkey!

2 head torn dark lettuce
2 heads radicchio, leaves torn
1 bunch Watercress
Red onion, sliced
1 granny smith apple, sliced
1 cup of pecans, halved
1 cup blue cheese, crumbled

For dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pepper to taste

1. Toss together all the salad ingredients.
2. In a glass or jar, mix together all the dressing ingredients and mix quickly with a fork or knife. Drizzle in small amounts on the salad, tossing in between each drizzle.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche with a Brown Rice Crust

I came home from work and was really craving the good'ol comfort of the broccoli cheddar combination. I have some frozen pie shells so I was thinking I could easily whip together a quiche. Then I found this recipe on Closet Cooking and when I told my roommate, Celadon, about the brown rice idea she got so excited that I had to make it! While the effort involved at first seemed too much for a week night, it ended up being really easy. I changed the recipe to include more cheddar - yes, I was in that cheesey sort of mood. Also, I used the Trader Joe's brand Brown Rice Medley which is a lovely combination with black barley and daikon radish seeds. Surprisingly, this quiche is suppossedly one of the Taste Tester's favorites. Surprising for two reasons: 1. it is vegetarian and 2. it's not spicy, although he did dress the quiche with Sriracha accordingly. The brown rice crust makes this quiche loads more filling and healthy. I had some for lunch the following day and the Taste Tester polished it off for dinner the following night.

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche with Brown Rice Crust
Adapted from Closet Cooking

2 cups cooked brown rice
1/4 cup chedder cheese, grated
1 egg, (I used fake eggs for all the eggs)
4 eggs
1 cup soy milk
2 cups broccoli, cut into bite size pieces and blanched
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup chopped white onion
A pinch nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix the rice, cheese and egg in a bowl. Press the mixture into a pie pan. Bake for 5 minutes.
2. Mix in the eggs, milk, broccoli, cheddar, onion, nutmeg in a bowl. Feel free to sprinkle with salt and pepper for taste. Pour this into the rice crust. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until it is set in the center. Let it cool for a bit before you dive in - enjoy!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sweet Potato French Fries with Avocado Dip

I love sweet potato and although it is not intuitive, I love the way it tastes with avocado! This taste pairing comes from eating burritos and burgers with guacamole and ordering a side of sweet potato potato fries to put in the burrito or burger. It's delicious the way potato chips are delicious in a sandwich! My good friend Sarah was coming over for a week night dinner and I thought this would make a great side dish. It's easy to prepare a lot of sweet potato fries and the dip is fantastic and simple. I didn't have any left overs of these but one large sweet potato made about 30 fries. I would like to make these as a side dish to a left-over-Thanksgiving wrap! I spiced up the the fries a bit and the natural creaminess of the avocado perfectly complimented the heat of the chili flakes.

1 large sweet potato, cut and sliced into long fries
Olive oil
Chili flakes
Cayenne pepper

For Avocado Dip:
1 large avocado
Lemon juice
Salt and Pepper

1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the sweegt potato fries into a large bowl and toss with olive oil, chili flakes and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper. Toss to evenly coat and add chili flakes to desired heat.
2. Place the sweet potato fries evenly on the a pan and bake in the oven until golden brown and crispy, about 35-45 minutes.
3. In the meantime, mash together the avocado with lemon juice, a little at first and add more as necessary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Terriyake Glazed Salmon Steamed with Shitakes, Celery and Peppers

I love salmon and I'm really getting into the delicious meaty flavors of shitake mushrooms. Low and behold, the two work together magically. This meal was put together on a whim and was purely inspired by the contents of my refrigerator and the constant "Whatever you make is great!" remarks from my boyfriend - the Taste-Tester. Our soundtrack was the Rolling Stones' 1971 Sticky Fingers. The weather is turning cold, we have an ever increasing desire for warm meals, and I'm convinced that salmon is one of those super foods that makes everyone feel great. There are a couple of key things that make for a fantastic salmon dish. The first tip is to marinate: no less than 30 minutes and no more than 2 hours, get creative and marinate. I think Ziploc bags are the way to go; simply place your salmon filets in the bag, fill with the ingredients with which you wish to marinate, and gently mix around, refrigerate. Without Ziploc bags, Tupperware works very well too. For an extra citrusy zing I like to place two slices of lemon over the filets while it's cooking. This tasted so delicious and I had some leftovers for a lovely meal the following night. The Taste Tester loved this meal and was giddily delighted by how healthy it was. I served this over a bed of quinoa and watercress. Getting fancy I made a little Martha Stewart-esque flower out of Radicchio and avocado. As it turns out, we made lovely little radicchio salmon boats. Yes, we called them salmon boats and you can see the nice little pictures below.

For Marinade:
1/3 cup orange juice
4 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Garlic powder

2 salmon fillets
6 cloves garlic, chopped
6 shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced

1. Place the salmon fillets in a Ziploc bag or a Tupperware container; pour the marinade ingredients over the salmon, flipping the fillets to make sure both sides are coated evenly. Generously sprinkle garlic powder. Seal and chill for at least 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.
2. In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and garlic for a few minutes until garlic is fragrant. Add the mushrooms, bell pepper, and celery and make a space in the middle of the pan for the salmon. Carefully place the salmon fillets in the pan and pour the remaining marinade over the salmon and vegetables. Cover and turn to medium heat and cook until salmon is a light pink. About 15-25 minutes. Enjoy!
Here is a radicchio avocado salad. While waiting for the salmon to cook, I got all excited about making it look like a flower.
And here are the little salmon boats! Essentially a piece of radicchio with a slice of avocado and some salmon, exra quinoa and watercress for flavor :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pasta with Pesto Sauce, Tuna, Roasted Broccoli, Chickpeas and Parmesan

I love the combination of whole wheat pasta, pesto sauce, tuna and (insert vegetables here)! Honestly, it's hard to go wrong: broccoli, carrots, zucchini, spinach, bell peppers, squash, you name it and I'm sure it will taste great. I had some leftover broccoli florets and half a can of chickpeas so I thought to incorporate them into this pasta combination. I also had a little but of dried penne pasta and fussili pasta, so I decided to combine them and because they very similar in size, this little medley worked out quite well! Also, I realize I have a habit of listing all the ingredients in the title of the post, leaving nothing for surprise. Hmmm.....I'll work on that. This dish is easy, healthy and keeps well for a few days making it the perfect dish for a quick weeknight meal and providing left-overs for tasty lunches :)

Whole wheat penne pasta
Whole wheat fussili pasta
Canned tuna
Broccoli florets
Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Green onions, chopped
Parmesan, freshly grated
Olive oil
Garlic powder

1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle a baking pan with olive oil. Place broccoli florets on pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper and garlic powder. Roast until the flower part of the broccoli is starting to brown and crisp, about 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a pot and cook pasta. When pasta is ready drain and run under cold water to stop cooking. Place in a large glass dish. Add canned tuna, broccoli florets, chickpeas, green onions and pesto sauce. Gently mix to incorporate the sauce, adding more if necessary. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

This recipe combines two pie favorites into one! Cooking genius Kevin of Closet Cooking devised this heavenly holiday dessert recipe. My first stumble upon his recipe made me want to lick the monitor so I had to make it! The only element I changed was that I used hazelnut liquor instead of bourbon. Also, I used store bought canned sweet potato puree rather making it from scratch. I found that this pie tasted even better the following day, after having been chilled in the refrigerator over night. I don't know about you, but I always preferred chilled pumpkin pie as opposed to room temperature. Also, it holds together much more nicely after having been chilled. The blog Salt to Taste is have a Tried and Tasted event that features the Closet Cooking blog for the month of December! Another great reason to make this pie :)

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie
Adapted from Closet Cooking recipe

1 pie crust
2 cups sweet potato puree
2 eggs (or fake eggs)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons hazelnut liquor (optional)
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 eggs (or fake eggs)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon hazelnut liquor (optional)

1. Mix the sweet potatoes, eggs, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and hazelnut liquor in a large bowl and pour it into the pie crust.
2. Place the pecans on top of the sweet potato filling.
3. Mix the sugar, maple syrup, eggs, butter, vanilla and hazelnut liquor and pour it on top of the pecans
4. Bake in a preheated 375F oven until the pastry is golden brown and the pecan layer is set, about 40-60 minutes.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Olive Oil Rolls with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola

Wow! All hail the dinner roll, this is a whole new take and it's absolutely delicious. While searching for Thanksgiving recipes for a group, I came across this recipe on the White on Rice cooking blog. These are surprisingly easy to make and over the course of dinner they acquired the name "Super Rolls," because they are pretty much super. Also, after a few glasses of wine, it's a lot easy to ask for a super roll rather than a caramelized onion and gorgonzola roll. Eaten alone, dipped in soup, sauce, gravy, sliced open and stuffed with some turkey and cranberry, there is no wrong way to eat these! My boyfriend takes to drizzling them with Sriracha sauce - so take my word, they are very versatile! Also, the recipe makes 36-40 so I froze some of the already cooked rolls and I have been heating a few up for dinner and lunch daily! I made the dough the night before which really helped. It was a million times easier to work with and form into small rolls when it was chilled over night. The dough can actually be kept chilled for up to a week. The original recipe calls for regular milk but I decided to use soy milk and if anything it added to the richness. Also, be generous with the toppings, it's divine and your eaters will love it. I will for sure be making these again and for every family/friend function to come.

Olive Oil Rolls with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola
(Makes about 36)

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt
6 1/2 cups all purpose flour

For topping:
2 lbs onions (about 7 medium) thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup butter
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 lb gorgonzola, crumbled

1. Pour the water in a large bowl. Warm the milk slightly and add it to the water. Add the olive oil, yeast and salt. Whisk gently to dissolve
2. Mix in the flour just until everything is evenly moist. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise, about two hours. Then chill for a couple hours, preferably over night or a few days
3. Melt the butter with olive oil over medium-low heat in a large pan. Add the onions and gently saute until caramelized, about 40 minutes. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar on the onions at the end, set aside to cool
                                                                     40 minutes later
4. Line a few pans with parchment paper and sprinkle some flour on them. Dust your hands and the dough mass with a bit of flour. Gently pull a little chunk of dough and roll it into a golf ball size mound on the paper. One helpful trick for smooth rolls is to form a little disk in the palm of your hand and then bunch all the edges together so you have one smooth rounded side and one side where all the edges meet.  Place them twelve rolls per a pan and set them in a warm part of your kitchen for about 45 minutes.          
5. Pre heat the over to 425 degrees. Gently top your rolls with the caramelized onions and the gorgonzola.
6. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes or until the rolls start to brown and the onions start to singe. If you have more than one sheet in the oven at the same time, you will want to switch the sheets half way through cooking. Remove and place on a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. (You can freeze any left over cooked rolls and bake them for 7 minutes at 425 to re-heat)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Roasted Yams with Crispy Fried Sage, Gorgonzola, and Caramelized Onions over Quinoa

My good friend Andy and I were putting on a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 friends and I needed a few side dishes. I love that pumpkin, yams, and sweet potatoes are in season and finding new ways to incorporate them into dishes made me realize how versatile this cousin of the potato family is. I came across this delicious looking recipe on Closet Cooking and had to try it but with my own little twist. And I also had to modify it for 10 people. This is one of those filling and healthy dishes that is great the following few days too and it is also a spot-light-stealing side dish! While it is a vegetarian dish, I'm sure it would taste great with pieces of bacon or sauteed chicken. I decided to serve this dish with quinoa but it also would have tasted great with couscous or shell pasta.

Roasted Yams with Crispy Fried Sage, Gorgonzola and Caramelized Onions over Quinoa
(Serves 12-16)

5 large yams, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 onions, sliced
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 handfuls sage leaves
1 cup gorgonzola, crumbled
1 1/2 cups quinoa

(You may need to do many of these steps in two batches as it can amount to a very large bundle)
1. Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Toss the yams with olive oil and salt and pepper to evenly coat
3. Roast the squash for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is tender. About half way through, gently move the yam cubes around to roast evenly
4. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter in a non-stick skillet to melt butter. Add the onions and cook on low heat until caramelized, about 40 minutes, set aside
5. Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the box
6. Heat olive oil and garlic in the skillet, add the sage and saute until crispy
7. Add everything to the pan and mix gently to incorporate, add the gorgonzola and remove from heat with it starts to melt

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pesto, Potato and Chicken Sausage Calzone

This is all part of my calzone kick. Every time I make them, I think I'm going to make an extra for my lunch the following day and somehow, between dinner and the next day's lunch, it disappears. I had some left over potatoes so I decided to use them in the calzone for some extra texture and flavor. My friend Andy, makes a great pizza with pesto and potatoes, so naturally, I made this in a calzone.

Refrigerated pizza dough, I use Trader Joe's garlic herb pizza dough
Pesto sauce
Grated parmesan
Chicken, cut into bite size pieces
1 small potato cut into slices

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, place a pan in the oven.
2. In a pan, over medium high heat, saute the chicken with olive oil, pepper and garlic powder.
3. Roll out dough into small rounds. Spread pesto sauce on roll, leaving a 1/2 inch border all around. Sprinkle the grated parmesan on the half the round, then add the chicken and lastly, the potato slices. Fold over the free dough and seal the edges. Sprinkle some flour on the pan and place the calzone on the pan.
4. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Couscous with Dried Apricots, Raisins, Onions, Honey and Red Wine

A delicious accompaniment to a meat or fish meal with Mediterranean flavors, I made this as a side dish for some grilled fish. It's simple, easy, sweet, healthy and filling. Israeli couscous is thicker than traditional North African, yellow, couscous. It is small round semolina pasta. Israeli couscous resembles barley and after being rolled into small balls, the semolina pearls are toasted over an open flame. Most pasta are dried and not toasted, so the toasting of the couscous provides for a slightly nutty flavor and a very satisfying mouth feel. Israeli couscous has become a staple in my cabinet. It is versatile and absorbs flavors with ease. I also had some Calimyrna figs which are my favorite kind. They are slightly larger and have a golden skin and their flesh has a nuttier flavor.

Israeli couscous
1 white onion, sliced
Dried apricots, halved
Dried calimyrna figs, halved
Red wine
Olive oil
Sliced almonds, for garnish

1. Cook couscous according to directions on box.
2. Over medium heat, saute onions and olive oil in a pan for a few minutes. Add apricots, figs, raisin, some red wine and honey and sprinkle with cinnamon. Apricots and figs should soften, the onions should be translucent, and the red wine should be fragrant. Add in the couscous and mix until everything is evenly distributed. You may need to add more red wine and/or honey.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Andy's Proscuitto Wrapped Halibut with Paprika

This was another incredibly delicious meal by Andy that could have been at a fancy restaurant. He took two ingredients that normally you wouldn't think go together and made them work fantastically. The ingredient list was simple and the tastes were wonderfully complimentary. Inspired by nothing more than the contents of his refrigerator, he used the prosciutto to add a whole new flavor to the tender and thick halibut.
2 halibut filets
4 strips of prosciutto
Chili powder
Olive oil

1. Sprinkle chili powder on both sides of the halibut filets. Wrap the fillets in one layer of prosciutto.
2. Broil the filets for a few minutes. Remove and put in a pan on a medium high flame with a bit of olive oil for a few minutes. Viola.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jeffrey's Meat Market & My Kosher Dad

My Dad's in town and I took him to the Lower East Side's Essex Market for a bit of history and watching the famous butcher, Danny, of Jeffrey's Meat Market do his butchering art. From as long as I can remember watching meat get sliced and diced from the animal body has been something that my Dad always enjoys. In Chinatown in San Francisco, he always liked to watch the butchers take apart the pigs and ducks. It's a little weird, I know, but one person's job is another's entertainment.
It was Friday afternoon and we were getting ingredients for Shabbat dinner. Danny, the butcher, just arrived to Jeffrey's Meat Market and my Dad and I stood to the side as he started preparing the freshly butchered lamb and chickens. The market was relatively quiet so he started talking with my Dad and I. He's a mixture of zany hippie with classic New York Jew and he had a whole story to share with us. The market originally belonged to his great-grandfather Jeffrey and it's been in the family ever since. He only buys the freshest and most local meats and often picks them up minutes after they have been killed. Oh yeah, and he is a chef. as he put it "Any good butcher has to be a good chef." Enjoying a seemingly nostalgic and energetic conversation with my Dad and he, he noticed the time and generously proposed to make a special lunch for my Dad and I. I was taken back and delighted with his offer but we had to decline the offer because, well, my Dad keeps kosher and Jeffrey's Meat Market does not. Finding humor in this, probably the only time his offer of lunch has ever been denied, Danny proclaimed that his Jewishness makes everything kosher. When that didn't convince my Dad he settled for taking characteristic pictures and giving my Dad an apron! They are bearing Danny's butchering knives like proud soldiers with Samurai swords. Below is their photo shoot, I'm behind the camera. Danny is on the left with the long hair; my Dad is in the cap.

And here is a photo of my Dad just as he caught a leg of lamb or pork that Danny tossed over to him.
Well we didn't get a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to have lunch made by Danny but we got a great story and some once-in-a-life-time pictures! Oh yeah, and we got to keep the apron!