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

Friday, October 30, 2009

Spicy Sauteed Tilapia with Kalamata Olives and Cherry Tomatoes

I remember the first time I had tilapia. I was on the coast of Jaffa, Israel with my Dad in 2005. We had just had an active day of walking around in Tel Aviv and were meeting his friends at an open air seafood restaurant overlooking the sea. I remember thinking that "Gasp! The menu didn't have salmon!" Salmon was the one fish I was really comfortable with until a few years ago. So I ordered tilapia which was served grilled in the whole fish form with a garlicky sauce and parsley. Since then, I have tried many more kinds of fish and I've found preferred ways to cook and eat each of the different kinds. I was thrilled to find this recipe by Candida Sportiello, chef at IL Giardino restaurant on epicurious.com. I changed it up a bit because I'm a fan of turning of the spiciness and increasing the garlic as it is probably my favorite ingredient of all time. I was looking for a main course for an Italian dinner and I thought the freshness of this dish would be perfect with the richness of the Eggplant Rolls. The two dishes complimented each other quite nicely.

Spicy Sauteed Tilapia with Kalamata Olives and Cherry Tomatoes
(Serves 4)

1/4 cup olive oil
2 lbs tilapia
2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon dried crush red pepper
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced

1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Sprinkle tilapia with crushed red pepper and saute just until it is opaque in the center, about 4 minutes. You may need to do this in two batches if you have more fish than pan space. Place the fish on a platter.
2. Add parsley and crushed red pepper to the same pan and saute for one minute. Then add the tomatoes, olives and garlic and saute until the tomatoes are juicy, about 2 minutes. Season with pepper and add over the fish.

This would go wonderfully with some rustic Italian bread!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Eggplant Rolls with Spicy Tomato Sauce

I bought a large, gorgeous, purple eggplant at the farmers market and I wasn't sure what to do with it. I'll be the first to finish baba ganoush or eggplant parmesan but I haven't cooked with this fruit that we call a vegetable. In search of the perfect recipe, I landed upon this recipe on epicurious.com. I changed the recipe to make a more flavorful filling and of course a spicier tomato sauce. I thoroughly enjoyed making this appetizer as it looks elegant and tastes great! This was also a great excuse to rock my Emeril Lagasse double stove top ridged grill pan! Rolling the eggplant was fun because it looked quite cute and put together at the end. I realize that there is a lot of possibility for variation. I was having two friends over for dinner and I was trying to stick to an Italian theme. One eggplant made about 8 rolls! Be cautious to not cut the eggplant too thin as the strips will tear when you try to roll them. Some ideas of items to add to future eggplant rolls include Italian sausage, mozzarella, or thin slices of shawarma!! YUM YUM YUM :)

Eggplant Rolls with Spicy Tomato Sauce
(Makes 8 rolls)

6 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried hot red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil (for sauce), plus about 6 more tablespoons of olive oil
1 1/2 lbs plum tomatoes (about 5), chopped
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 large eggplant
1 1/2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan, finely grated
1/3 cup basil finely chopped
Black pepper

1. Cook 3 minced garlic cloves, dried pepper flakes in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat, stirring until the garlic is fragrant and turning gold, about 30 seconds.
2. Add the tomatoes and sugar and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 20-25 minutes.

Eggplant Rolls:
1. Heat grill pan over high heat until hot.
2. Peel the skin from the eggplant and cut 1/3 inch thick slices of the eggplant, lengthwise. Place the eggplant strips on a pan or plate and brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper.
3. Grill the slices in batches, turning over once, until golden brown and tender with grill marks, about 5 minutes. Transfer these to a tray or pan.
4. Mix together the parmesan, ricotta, basil, pepper and remaining garlic. Spread the cheese mixture on the slices, leaving a 1/3 inch tip at each end of the eggplant.
5. Roll up the slices of eggplant and serve with spicy tomato sauce. YUM!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Celadon's Bacon and Gruyere Quiche with Spinach and Onion

"It must be the smell of bacon."  That's what my roommate, Celadon, said when I exclaimed how happy I suddenly felt after a kind of stressful day. Before even opening the door to our apartment, I could smell something wonderful. Celadon made a very scrumptious and very comforting quiche that quickly disappeared. Adapted from Emeril Lagasse's Quiche Lorraine, Celadon's quiche was wonderfully rich and filling and the perfect meal for...well...breakfast, lunch and dinner! And let's be honest, bacon makes us happy.

Celadon's Bacon and Gruyere Quiche with Spinach and Onion
(Makes one pie)

1 pie crust
3 eggs
1 cup half and half
1 cup gruyere, grated
1/4 white onion, chopped into small pieces
6 strips of bacon
1/2 cup spinach
Salt, pepper and cayenne for taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and bake the pie crust for 8-10 min
2. Cook bacon all the way through until crispy.
3. Saute the onions and the spinach until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes
4. Whisk the eggs and half and half together and add some salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Add in the onions and spinach to the egg mixture.
5. Crumble the bacon at bottom of pie crust, pour the egg mixture on top. Cook the quiche for 30-35 minutes until it is set but still a little bubbly. Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sweet Dark Cherry Pudding Cake

I always buy the frozen fruit from Trader Joe's. It's my go-to for a quick snack or to incorporate with a dessert. I had yet to use the frozen sweet dark cherries in a dessert; I always just mixed them with yogurt. So I was thrilled to find this recipe for a Sweet Dark Cherry Pudding Cake on Northwest Cherries, a site devoted to tips, information and recipes for Northwest cherries. When in doubt, a good source for recipes is always the actual source or site of the main ingredient. I altered the recipe a bit. This was delicious! It was scrumptious when heated up with some vanilla ice cream. Initially I though the juices from the cherries were too much and would cause the pudding to not maintain it's shape, however after chilling the pudding cake for a little bit, it's shape was held perfectly and it could be cut and served with much more ease. This is a standard recipe so I'm sure it can work with many other fruits such as strawberries or black berries. This really is a comforting dessert :)

Sweet Dark Cherry Pudding Cake
(Makes one 9 inch cake)

1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soy milk
1 egg white
2 cups frozen pitted sweet dark cherries
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Then add in the milk and egg white just until smooth. This may be a bit of a challenge if you are just using a flimsy whisk like me, but it won't take long. Spread this batter into a 9x5 inch baking dish.
2. Place the pitted cherries in a layer on top of the batter.
3. Mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar and sprinkle evenly over the cherries.
4. Stir lemon juice in with the boiling water and carefully pour over the cherries and brown sugar.
5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out clean. Best enjoyed warm with ice cream.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Szechuan Broccoli, Carrots and Tofu

My first encounter with Szechuan sauce was at my freshman dorm cafeteria. For dinner they had a stir fry station set up where you could put together your own bowl of fresh veggies and pick your sauce and the cook who fry it all up in a wok. I tried all the sauces but eventually would only request the Szechuan sauce; it carries the perfect amount of heat from chilies. This dish was a healthy accompaniment to the Kimchi pancakes I  made last week. I served this over brown rice which was a great starch to absorb the spiciness of the sauce. While you could just fry all the ingredients together, I prefer to prepare the tofu separately so that I can get it to my desired firmness and allow it more time to marinate in the Szechuan flavors.

Szechuan Broccoli, Carrots and Tofu

Broccoli, cut into small florets
Carrots, sliced
Cabbage, sliced
Tofu, cut into small cubes
Szechuan sauce
Olive oil

1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat, put in the tofu cubes and a bit of Szechuan sauce. Stir fry up the tofu cubes until they are firm. Set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a wok over medium high heat and add in the broccoli and carrots and drizzle the Szechuan sauce over the vegetables. Using a wooden spatula, stir fry the vegetable until they have softened, then add the cabbage and tofu cubes with more Szechuan sauce. Enjoy with some brown rice!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Craig Murphey Memorial Hummus Contest

My awesome roommate sent me a link about local food contests and one of the items was a hummus contest! This contest ended up being very humbling and while I didn't win I got to try some fantastic new flavors and meet new foodies! It was put on by the Craig Murphy Memorial Foundation, in honor of the Craig Murphy, the community organizer and activist against poverty. It was at the Hope Lounge in Brooklyn and the rules were simple, bring 3 quarts of a creative hummus with your own dipping items. The judges were friends, family and supporters who came to the event to try all the hummus tubs and judge them based on taste, texture, choice of dip item and originality. The winner was a fantastic pumpkin spice hummus made by Janelle, a lovely aspiring chef with a talent for cooking and presentation! She just started a cooking show so check her out on Facebook fan page or you can subscribe on YouTube. She had rolled individual whole wheat tortilla triangles with the spicy pumpkin hummus and a lettuce leaf. All of it was held together by a cute little fall leaf toothpick. Here is a picture she took at the contest.

Second place went to a Moroccan hummus.

Third place was given to a really tasty Thai style hummus made with coconut milk, lemon grass and some Thai spices. One of my personal favorites was a beet hummus shown below.

Fourth place (just kidding there was no fourth place but I like to think I would have won 4th) went to my Kalamata olive hummus :)  I decided to go with my Kalamata olive hummus.

For a first food contest, it was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to more! Thanks so much to everyone who came and supported!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Atlantic Avenue Street Festival: The Best of the Street Food

Even though I've been in New York for a few years, this was my first year making it to the annual Atlantic Avenue Street Festival. It was a gorgeous late summer day and there was plenty of delicious food from local restaurants to go with the awesome live music on every block! I went with two fellow adventurous foodies and we strategically bought stuff from a number of vendors so we could get a taste of the different offerings. We tried soul food, Mexican food, Middle Eastern food, BBQ and red velvet cake but only not all these foods made the cut so I am only going to share the pictures from the best. Our first stop was soul food. There were blocks of different restaurants and groups selling soul food and we checked out each one before deciding on "The Women from the House of the Lord Church" in Brooklyn. Our decision was based on the long line, the mouth watering look of the macaroni and cheese and well....when don't Churches put on great meals!? We got a set meal with fried chicken, collard greens, corn bread and macaroni and cheese. In the picture below the corn bread is hiding the collard greens. It was delicious except that the corn bread needed more corn flavor.

Our next yummy food purchase was a delicious spinach and cheese pie from the Bedouin Tent. It was baked calzone style and loaded with spinach, onion, spices and mozzarella.  It had been baked until it was golden on top and served warm. With cute Middle Eastern guys serving up this fresh and flavor Jordanian food to Arabian music, what's not to like? The Bedouin Tent is located at 405 Atlantic Avenue and open daily from 11 am to 11 pm.

The winner of the street foods and the best item we tried was at the end of the fair. Just when we thought we might actually be full we saw a long line of eager people waiting at the Salvatore Bklyn stand. "If cheese were a rock star, it'd be Salvatore Bklyn" boasts the company's website. They make two products: whole milk ricotta cheese and whole milk smoked ricotta cheese. They were serving up their celebrity cheese on sandwiches with freshly cut pancetta and delicious cannoli. The sandwich was on rustic Italian bread with the cheese spread generously over it. Then some arugula and a few thin and perfect slices of pancetta that practically melted in your mouth. The whole lot was sprinkled with a bit of pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. The cannoli was great too but paled in comparison to it's savory counterpart. Buy your own ricotta at one of their distributors and create this incredible sandwich.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pesto Chicken Calzone

Whenever I go for a late night pizza break in the city I notice people folding their slices over onto itself like a sandwich and so it can be eaten in half the bites....basically making a calzone. I have been a little nervous to make these because I wasn't so sure they would bake evenly, or would the dough be too soft? Surprisingly, I found that I enjoy making calzones very much! Unlike a pizza where you commit to a topping scheme, with calzones you can make a creative selection of varieties and have them all on the same pan! I didn't really have a plan for this calzone, I just took all the ingredients I thought were tasty out of the refrigerator and when it was time to go, I just went with a simple and tasty combination that is always a hit with pizza. These take about half the over-all cooking time of a regular pizza and because they are all sealed, they are surprisingly easy to transport. Foil wrapped lunch anyone? Traditionally, calzones are made with an egg yolk inside that should be a little runny and they are served with marinara sauce. I opted out of the egg yolk ingredient for my first calzone experience and these puppies are packed with so many flavors, I didn't even need the marinara on top. Also, the thin crust calzone gives a lovely airy pocket and cooks much more evenly. I can't wait to make more calzones!

Pesto Chicken Calzone
(Makes one large calzone)

Whole wheat refrigerated pizza dough
3 tablespoons pesto sauce
Freshly grated parmesan
1 small chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 large slice of a tomato
8 fresh spinach leaves
Garlic powder
Olive oil

1. Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Over medium-high heat, saute the chicken with garlic powder and pepper just until fully cooked. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Roll out a golf ball size piece of the dough in flour until it is thin and about the size of your face.
4. Take baking sheet out of oven, sprinkle some flour on it and carefully place the rolled out dough on it. Poke the dough all over with a fork for breathing holes.
5. Spread the pesto sauce on it, leaving a 2 inch border all around. Put the parmesan cheese on it, followed by the chicken pieces, and the large slice of tomato and lastly the spinach leaves. You want to place all the ingredients on one half of the dough so you can easily fold the other half over itself. Fold over the other half and seal tight around the edges, folding over to form a slight crust. Brush with a bit of olive oil and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the dough turns a darker brown.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kimchi Pancakes

Last night my friend and I were watching Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations: South Korea." All the food looked delicious and what really caught our appetites was the Kimchi. This Korean side dish has many regional varieties but the most popular is made with Chinese cabbage. On the show, we saw how kimchi was fermented underground for 6 months before being ready to eat. On a recent trip to Essex Market in the Lower East Side, we stumbled upon a young woman from Los Angeles who was selling jars of her mother-in-law's kimchi. She was debuting her special kimchi at the annual NY Pickle Festival. The Food Stuff section of the NY Times reported that the kimchi is made by Young Ja Chun and based on an old family recipe. Luckily, I bought a jar before she left to go back to California.

It had been siting in my refigerator for a week and after Bourdain's tour of South Korea, I was ready to cook with the kimchi! I searched the web for a recipe and ended up finding this one on Closet Cooking which I adapted to our tastes. I used whole wheat flour as the starch and amped up the spice factor ten fold! These pancakes were easy to make and delicious and healthy!

Kimchi Pancakes
(Makes about 10 pancakes)

1 cup kimchi, sliced
1 teaspoon kimchi juice
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup purple cabbage, sliced
2 eggs (fake eggs work perfectly!)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 small Thai chilis, diced
2 scallions, sliced for garnish

1. Mix together the kimchi, juice, flour, cabbage, eggs. cayenne pepper and chilis until evenly combined.
2. Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet on medium high heat.
3. Using your hands, gather small mounds of the batter and place in the oil, pressing down with a spatula to flatten. Fry until golden on each side, about 3 minutes per side.
4. Garnish with scallions.

These taste delicious alone or with Sraracha sauce or peanut sauce!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Andy's Cod in Chowder with a Bread Salad and Roasted Corn Topping

Sunday night dinners with Andy are always a  delicious and impressive surprise. I'm often awed when I learn how he re-created an elegant meals just by reading about it! This evening's meal was a succuluent and buttery cod that was placed in a bowl of chowder and topped with a crunchy bread topping and roasted corn. Served with a slice of toasted sourdough, this meal really hit the cold-winter-day spot!
There are three main parts to  this meal: the chowder, the fish and the topping. The fish cooks fast so the other two parts can be prepared ahead and just before you are ready to eat you can cook the cod. While I wasn't there for the cooking process I can provide all the ingredients and because it's a rather simple dish, the chowder can be made just as any one would.

Andy's Cod in Chowder with a Bread Salad and Roasted Corn Topping

For the Chowder:
Potatoes, cut into small cubes
2% Milk

For the Cod:
Heat a cast iron skillet in an oven at 500 degrees. When you are ready to eat the cod, put the skillet on the stove top on medium high heat and cook the cod for aout 4 minutes.

For the Bread Salad:
Panko, toasted
Lemon Juice
Smoked Oysters
Combine all the above ingredients in a bowl and just before serving, dollop the salad on the cod.

1 Roasted Corn, remove the kernels and sprinkle them on top of the dish. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tomato Pie

My good friend has been talking about his mother's tomato pie for ages. I finally got to try some of this deliciousness on a recent visit and it was indeed delicious! I got her original recipe and have wanted to make it. This was the last weekend of large, plump, luscious tomatoes at our local farmer's market so I seized the opportunity to make my own adapted version of this famed Southern dish. Tomato pie originated on the coast of South Carolina and everyone has their own version but the basic ingredients of pie crust, tomatoes and cheese have stayed constant. I would love to try this again and use sweet onions or green onions. It's perfect for brunch, lunch or dinner.

Tomato Pie
(Makes one 9 inch pie tin)

2 pie crusts
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups chopped basil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Thaw the pie crusts and roll them together to form one large ball. Adding some flour, roll it out on a floured surface into one large sheet. Place over a deep dish 9 inch pie pan crimping the edges to make a nice pie crust. You will most likely not need all the pie dough. Heat the pie crust in the oven for about 7 minutes or just until the bottom starts to bubble.
3. Slice the tomatoes and place on a paper towel to let drain for 10 minutes.
4. Put 1/2 cup grated mozzarella on the bottom of the pie crust. Layer the tomato slices over lapping just until slightly below the top of the pie tin. Layer on the grated cheddar and the other 1/2 cup grated mozzarella.
5. In a bowl combine the mayonnaise, garlic, parmesan and basil. Layer this mixture on top of the cheese covering the entire pie top.
6. Bake in the over for about 35 minutes, just until the top is slightly golden and bubbly.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Double Chocolate Cookies with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

Growing up I had a poster in my room of Seasame Street's Cookie Monter stuffing his face with cookies with a caption that said "Got Milk?" I think it's fair to say cookies are an American favorite and over the years the cookie has developed from classic chocolate chip to an incredible, ever-growing, variety from pumpkin spice to blueberry cream. Regardless of the type of cookie, it always tastes best with a glass of cold milk. I love cookies that are loaded with nuts and fruits giving them flavor and, well, anything with chocolate is usually a winner. I had an old recipe clipping from an August 2007 issue of Gourmet for Cherry Chocolate Cookies and in recognition of the magazine's being 86'd, I decided I would make it and adapt to what ingredients I had. The dried cranberries add a fantastic chewiness and the nuts give the perfect crunch. I made a bunch and brought a plate to work which disapeared within one hour.

Double Chocolate Cookies with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts
(Adapted from Gourmet Magazine's Cherry Double Chocolate Cookies recipe: makes about 3 dozen)

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs (fake eggs work perfectly)
1/2 cup chocolate morsels
1 cup walnuts, corsely chopped
1 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, placing the racks on the upper and third level.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the butter and brown sugar until it is well combined. Then add the flour mixture and mix just until it is combined. Then add the chocolate morsels, pecans and cranberries just until incorporated.
4. On ungreased baking sheets drop two tablespoons of the batter per cookie about two inches apart from each other. Each sheet should hold about one dozen cookies. Gently flatten the cookies using your hands.
5. Bake for 12-14 minutes, switching the level of the sheets half way through. Transfer the cookies to a rack, and cool. Or if you are like me and can't wait, you can bite into one right away and burn your mouth.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Nine Layer Polenta Lasagna

Lasagna is very much one of those comfort foods that reminds people of their childhood. I actually never really had lasagna as a kid and I didn't even develop a desire for it until about a week ago. Actually, lasagna will forever remind me of the Garfield cartoons and how Garfield the cat was particularly fond of lasagna. Something funny that I recently learned is that Garfield was born in the kitchen of an Italian restaurant belonging to Mama Leoni and that is how he became addicted to lasagna.

Well, I was neither born in an Italian kitchen nor am I a cat, but after this meal I want to eat more lasagna. I am also unfamiliar with polenta but I have been eager to learn more about this corn based ingredient and how it can be incorporated in dishes. I am all about generously lathering on sauces and ingredients so I was prepared for this to affect the ability of the lasagna to hold itself together. I presume I used too much pesto and while the taste is fabulous, this failed me on the presentation aspect. I will need to work on getting that perfect amounts of sauces to maintain the delicious taste and enable the lasagna to be cut in even pieces and hold together. As with most dishes, I'm looking forward to experimenting and incorporating different cheeses and perhaps eggplant and different meats!

Nine Layer Polenta Lasagna
(For a 9x5 dish)

15 ounces regular polenta
1/4 cup pesto
2 cups fresh spinach
5 roma tomatoes
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
Fresh grated parmesan
Pine nuts

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place a 9x5 glass dish in the oven to heat up.
2. Cut the polenta and tomatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices.
3. Lightly oil the pan and place one layer of the polenta on the bottom of the dish. Cover with the pesto sauce, then layer on the fresh spinach, followed by the tomato slices. Next add half of the mozzarella cheese and then the second layer of polenta.
4. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. Then place the remaining mozzarella on top followed by the parmesan and the pine nuts and broil the dish for a few minutes until it becomes slightly golden and crispy on top.
5. Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy!! I recommend a glass of red wine or a Tecate beer to wash it all down.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Spinach Salad with Pears, Grapes, Goat Cheese, Pine Nuts and Honey Dressing

I'm partial to incorporating fruits in savory dishes and now that Bosc pears are in season, there is so much I want to make with them! I was making polenta lasagna for dinner and I wanted to make a fresh and crisp accompaniment. I usually don't put dressing on my salads so instead I put the dressing in a small side bowl so that eaters could dress to their preference. My companion who joined me for dinner who has told me before he doesn't like fruit in salads ended up going back for seconds and thirds! His ending comment was "never listen to what I say again." This salad tastes best when prepared just before serving. It will keep the flavors crisp and independent so that when the dressing is applied it comes together just perfectly.

Spinach Salad with Pears, Grapes, Goat Cheese, Pine Nuts and Honey Dressing

For Dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 dash of red wine vinegar

For Salad:
Fresh spinach
1 Bosc pear (thinly sliced)
1 small branch of red grapes (halved)
Goat cheese (crumbled)
Pine nuts

1. For the dressing, combine all in the ingredients in a small bowl and mix quickly with a fork.
2. For the salad, combine all the ingredients and drizzle with the dressing. Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Skillet Baked Lemon-Almond Tart

Wednesday mornings are my favorite because I look forward to browsing the New York Times Dining section online. It's pretty much the first thing I do in the morning. As a relatively new baker, I was excited to find this recipe in Mark Bittman's The Minimalist column. It seemed promising on the simple pedometer. This is one of those dishes that cooks fast and so I couldn't really leave the kitchen. As easy as it is, it still is a rather elegant dessert and when garnished and served is the perfect ending to a nice meal. In my case, it was the ending to my lazy cereal dinner - but I fully enjoyed it none the less! I did find this tart rather difficult to transfer to a plate and I think if you have one of those large flat serving utensils, your good. I was improvising and ended up having to pick it up with my hands. Let's just say, the presentation was much prettier in the skillet. What's fun about this recipe is that you don't have to stick to lemon and almond. I think a ginger and hazelnut combination would be delicious, or orange and pecan! I didn't have any lemon tea with me but I imagine this little tart would taste fantastic with some lemon tea or warm milk!

Skillet Baked Lemon-Almond Tart
Adapted from Mark Bittman's recipe in the New York Times

4 eggs (I used fake eggs)
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup almonds (ground)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sliced almonds, plus more for garnish
1 lemon, zest and juice
2 tablespoons butter
Powdered sugar, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, salt, ground almonds, cream, sliced almonds and lemon zest and juice.
2. Melt the butter in an 8 inch skillet over low heat. When it has completely melted and the foam has subsided, add the almond mixture to the pan, lightly using a whisk to distribute the batter evenly. Continue to cook the tart on the stove for about 5 minutes until the edges begin to set. Then put the pan in the oven for 10 to15 minutes.
3. When tart is done, turn your oven to broil and broil the tart for a few minutes until the top becomes slightly golden. Remove tart from the oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar and almonds. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Butternut Squash Pizza with Sauteed Onions and Zucchini

I had half a jar left of Dave Gourmet's Butternut Squash pasta sauce and I decided to give it a shot on a pizza. Wow! Why aren't restaurants doing this yet? The combination of onions, zucchini and the butternut sauce was delightful. I was cooking this at my friend's kitchen and the occassion was his new pizza pan and I had just gotten a hair cut. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my nifty wine bottle rolling pin so making the dough round and flat was a little more difficult. Rather than my usual pepper and garlic seasoning I decided to go with some Italian seasoning and it was perfect! Perhaps next time I'll use some oregano. Other than that, I wouldn't add anything to this pizza combination except maybe some corn kernels would taste nice on it. Also, while I decided to put chicken on this pizza it could just as easily be made vegetarian by omitting the chicken - or you could use seitan instead of chicken. Whatever you do, this pizza is sure to please! Enjoy my friends with a nice glass of Toasted Head Chardonney!

Butternut Squash Pizza with Sauteed Onions and Zucchini
(Makes 1 pie)

1 package refrigerated wholewheat pizza dough (for a thin crust pizza, you will not need the whole package)
Butternut squash pasta sauce (Dave's Gourmet - available online)
Fontina cheese (thinly sliced)
Half a white onion (thinly sliced)
1/3 cup zucchini (sliced)
1 chicken breast
Mozarella cheese (grated)
Italian seasoning
Olive oil
A little Italian parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the pizza dough and place on a floured pan. Drizzle the dough with olive oil and poke holes in it with a fork. Pre-bake in the oven for 8-9 minutes.
2. Cut the chicken breast into small bite size pieces and cook in a skillet over medium high heat with olive oil and Italian seasoning. Set aside.

3. Sautee the onions and zucchini in a skillet over medium high heat with olive oil and Italian seasoning set aside.

4. Generously spread the butternut squash all over the pre-baked pizza crust.

5. Place the fontina cheese on the pizza, followed by the onions and zucchini, then the chicken and finally sprinkle the mozarella cheese on top.

6. Bake in the oven for 15-19 minutes. Sprinkle some Italian parsley on it. ENJOY!