Sunday, December 30, 2012

Parsnip, Fennel and Tarragon Soup with Squash and Apple Turkey Cheddar Sandwiches


We used to have this designated area in our living room, originally called "the reading nook."  It was a futon mattress covered with pillows and surrounded by books.  This eventually got phased out to make space for the nugget boy. But that reading nook actually had very important second function, which became our more commonly used term for the space.  It was called "the mope hole."  The mope hole was a fun place for - you guessed it! - moping.  Mad or sad or stressed about something?  Just go to the mope hole and hug a pillow!  Snuggling into a makeshift fort of books and pillows is a surefire way to lift a dark mood.  After a good mope, the sun shines brighter, the birds chirp more beautifully, the grass is greener, the sky bluer, I'm sure you get the cliched picture.  But alas, I am a woman without a mope hole.  So instead, I look to delicious food to eradicate a foul mood.  A warm bowl of parsnip, fennel and tarragon soup served with a grilled turkey, apple, and squash sandwich, all melty with cheddar, was just the thing to help me recently on a cold, (relatively) dark day.

Ingredients
6 peeled parsnips, cut in half lengthwise
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced on mandolin
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt, to taste
white pepper, to taste
1/3 cup tarragon leaves
2-3 tablespoons of juice from Meyer lemon
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup ricotta
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 cups chicken stock
deli turkey slices
slices of good quality cheddar
a roasted slice of acorn squash
slices of Granny Smith apple
good quality Dijon mustard
slices of whole wheat bread
1 tablespoon canola oil

Instructions
Heat oven to 400.  Place parsnips and fennel in baking dish.  Cover with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until tender and brown.  Remove from baking dish and place in a pot.  Add tarragon, lemon zest, lemon juice, ricotta, whipping cream, and chicken stock.  Blend everything together with an immersion blender (or pour into a blender or food processor), and puree until smooth.  Gently heat the soup until hot.  To assemble the sandwiches, place the turkey, cheddar, squash, and apple slices between the slices of bread, and smear one piece of bread with the mustard.  Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat and place the sandwich(s) in it.  Bronze one side of the sandwich, then flip over to bronze the other side.  Serve the soup with the turkey sandwiches, and feel your mood, hopefully, become a happy one.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chocolate and Olive Oil Crostini


A setting or rising sun is one of those sights that we, as a species, love to behold.  So colorful and and epic and majestic, it inspires a sense of wonder and awe.  Unless you are a certain two year old.  The sun is totally old news, apparently, for him.  A sunset, though, is exciting for one and only one reason - it is a harbinger of the moon!  Our little guy is quite taken with the moon, and has a deep love for just sitting outside and gazing up excitedly at it.  Moon watching, actually, can begin as early as 3 or 4 pm. That's when we start to think the moon is out.  So we have to go outside and check if it can be seen.  As expected, it usually is not visible at that time.  So we keep checking again and again and again.  And eventually, that wonderful moon of ours does indeed make an appearance (though I'm not sure how he will take the news that the moon goes through a "new moon" phase).  And when that happens, he scoots some chairs out to the deck and demands a moon watching companion. If Max was running the show, one would do nothing but moon watch from 4 pm until bedtime.  But, as you can imagine, that leaves no time to do things like, I don't know, make dinner.  So compromises are made.  Full on moon watching begins after dinner once the dishes have been cleaned up.  We go to the deck, bundle up, sit on on the chairs that Max so helpfully brought outside, and eat a snack while gazing up at the moon. These crostini with a chocolate and olive oil drizzle, mint leaves, coconut flakes, and vanilla salt make for a fun moon watching snack.  Packed onto a tray and taken outside, it is a delicious companion to celestial observations. And of course, it can be eaten indoors as well.

Ingredients
3.5 ounces good quality chocolate ( I used a Lindt 70% cacao bar)
1/4  cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 baguette, sliced
vanilla salt
white pepper
1/3 cup chopped mint leaves
1/3 cup coconut flakes

Instructions
Heat oven to 375.  Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet (I used a Silpat to line mine).  Pour 1/4 cup olive oil in a bowl, and brush the oil on each slice.  Sprinkle a bit of vanilla salt and pepper on each.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden-brown.

Place the chocolate bar (chopped) and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small microwaveable bowl. Carefully melt the chocolate and olive oil together (about 30 seconds).  Stir the mixture.

Have fun with these - drizzle the chocolate and olive oil on the crostini, or use it as a dip.  Sprinkle more vanilla salt on top, if desired. Or throw on some mint leaves and/or coconut flakes.  Whatever floats your boat!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies with Fruity, Nutty, Chocolaty Flair


I am beginning to think the only holiday traditions we have are intending to do festive activities and not following through.  For instance, this year we were going to carve pumpkins for Halloween, like we did last year.  Didn't actually happen.  It got pushed back and back until it would have been December 1 and we would have been the weird people with a jack o lantern out on the porch in December instead of glittery Christmas decorations. For Hanukkah, we plan to make latkes at least one of the nights.  This year we managed to make some before Hanukkah started.  But not during.  Even though we swore to ourselves we would.  Quite frankly, there didn't seem to be any reason not to make these again. We were looking forward to them! We actually completely failed to celebrate this holiday. Candles were bought for the menorrah and never even lit.  And now on to Christmas, we still have a few days, but it is looking increasingly likely that the gingerbread houses will not indeed be assembled and decorated.  Perhaps we crack under holiday pressures? At some point these things sound super fun but once they are upgraded to the category of tradition they also bring a sense of obligation, a yoke we refuse to wear?  Lazy? Busy? Perhaps we prefer to go with the flow, and see what new fun things each season brings? I have no idea.  But there is actually one tradition - ok, I'm not using that word anymore - one activity that always happens this time of year... one that, without fail, actually happens.  The cookies are always baked.  The exact list of cookies changes each time.  There are a few stalwarts, lending their years of experience to the annual cookie brigade.  But it is the addition of new cookies that adds excitement and a sense of whimsy to the mix.  These particular cookies are actually a hybrid between the new and old- a former heavy hitter recipe from my mom that got a bit of a chocolate makeover.  So here are some shortbread thumbprint cookies filled with either apricot or orange spread.  Or a raspberry, for funsies. Drizzled with a chocolate and almond ganache. Toasted almond slices optional.

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1/3-1/2 cup apricot or orange spread
raspberries
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup toasted almond slices, optional

Instructions
Using electric mixer, cream butter and sugar.  Add in extract.  Slowly stir in the flour.  The mixture will look sandy at first, but the dough should come together, just keep the mixer going.  Feel free to add just a touch of milk if it doesn't seem to come together.  Refrigerate for at least an hour.  Form into 1-inch balls.  Use the handle of a wooden spoon to press an indentation into the ball.  Fill with either the apricot spread or place a raspberry in there.  Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.  Cool for a minute on the tray then move to a cooling rack.  Combine chocolate chips and cream in a microwaveable bowl.  Carefully microwave for 30 seconds, or until the mixture is melted.  Stir in the almond extract.  Drizzle chocolate mixture over cookies.  Add toasted almond slices to each cookie, if desired.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Parmesan and Asiago Frico Squares with Fennel and Orange Salad


Party food is just so fun - dips, miniature, bite size morsels served on toothpicks, communal foods in general.  Party food makes me happy.  But the parties themselves stress me out.  Or, more precisely, the people at the parties stress me out.  Sometimes my evening is spent feigning interest in riveting topics like the virtues of cloth diapering.  Other times it might be spent wondering how to respond when someone snidely remarks "What? you haven't read anything from David Foster Wallace?" No, I'm sorry, I have not.  He is on my ever-expanding to read list, incidentally.  But I feel that there is no reason to be so mean about this current lacunae.  Ugh, and my hyper analytical brain starts trying to read something more into everything said to me or trying to appear as some very fuzzy, very blurry simulacrum of an "Interesting Person" (not that I really am).  And after a few hours of this, my brain and nerves are all exhausted and then bed sounds like the most amazing place ever created in the entire world.  I guess it's no secret that I'm an introvert :-P  But the food, that never fails to pick me up, helping me get through these strained hours and making it all worth it.  Here are some Parmesan and Asiago frico squares topped with fennel salad and a bit of orange.  Some party food to calm those party nerves.  And a glass of wine never hurt.

Ingredients
For the frico squares:
1 cup Parmesan
1 cup Asiago
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the fennel salad:
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced with a mandoline
1/4 cup thinly chopped Romaine lettuce
1/4 cup arugula
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
1 orange, supremed

Instructions
Heat oven to 350.  Place the cheeses, flour, and black pepper in a medium bowl and mix all together.  Place mixture on a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.  Pat the mixture onto the sheet as thin as possible.  It won't cover the entire sheet, probably about 2/3 of it.  Then bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture smells cheesy, is bubbly, and has become golden.  Take out of the oven, and once the frico has cooled, cut into squares.

Place fennel, Romaine, arugula, and parsley in a bowl.  Drizzle grapefruit juice over the mixture.  Place a bit of salad on each frico square and top with a chunk of orange.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pomegranate Banana Dip, Sugar and Spiced Tortilla Chips, and Red Laser App

Today we're reviewing a free app called RedLaser, and pairing this review with another type of app... chips and dip!  When I saw this opportunity through Daily Buzz Moms to use a list making and shopping app for the iPhone (the app also works on the Android and Windows Phone), I thought, maybe, just maybe, now I will become a person living in the year 2012 (almost 2013-where does the time go!).  So I seized the day and all that carpe diem jazz.  I decided to just take the plunge into this new era of life.  One filled with order and ease and apps, to make everything in your life run smoothly.  A whole new Jenn...  To read the full review, hop over to our brand spanking new Review Blog page!  It is an interesting app, and worth a read.

Pomegranate Banana Dip




Ingredients
8 ounces cold mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 small, ripe banana
3 tablespoons pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon grapefruit zest
pinch salt
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (arils), plus more for serving

Instructions
Place mascarpone and sugar in bowl of electric mixer and beat on medium speed. Mix in remaining ingredients.  Sprinkle top with additional pomegranate seeds.  Serve with Sugar and Spiced Tortilla Chips and fruit (I like it with apples).


Sugar and Spiced Tortilla Chips




Ingredients
4 tortillas, each cut into 8 equal size wedges
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
pinch salt

Instructions
Place tortilla wedges in bowl, toss with oil, cinnamon, sugar, clove, salt.  Use tongs to distribute oil and seasonings as evenly as possible on the tortilla wedges.  Bake at 350 for about 8-10 minutes, until crispy.  Serve with dip.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Orange and Anise Cookies


I love all the nuances and quirks of people.  They can be so strange and fascinating.  For instance, take Seth and me.  We love pajamas.  Love them.  Nothing makes us happier than being all cozy and comfy at home.  But when we eat, we rarely use paper plates and paper napkins.  We get out the place mats and plates and utensils and cloth napkins, even when we get takeout Chinese or pizza.  And we eat like this while wearing pajamas.

There are many things that Seth doesn't eat that I enjoy.  I love fruit and fruity desserts.  Seth doesn't. And it is a bit random what I actually find worth making for myself (and Max) and what I don't think is worth it.  Like cheesecake - I won't make it.  Even though I adore it and used to have my mom make me some for birthday cakes growing up.  But banana bread is a yes.  Desserts with peanut butter are generally a no (Seth hates peanut butter in sweets).  But I make apple pie at least once a year.  These cookies are also a yes.  Seth doesn't particularly love anise, but Christmas isn't Christmas without these cookies for me.  They are adapted from my dad's mother's famous recipe.  They are like anisey, orangey little cakes with a cream cheese frosting.  And I crave these every year.  So while peanut butter blossom cookies won't make the cut on the holiday cookie list - these are always at the top.

Ingredients
For the cookies:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup whole milk or buttermilk
2 teaspoons anise extract
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

For the icing:
8 ounces cold cream cheese
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons anise extract
1 tablespoon orange juice
pinch salt
pinch allspice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
For the cookies:
In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder, allspice, orange zest.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add egg and egg yolk, and beat until incorporated.  Add milk, anise, and orange juice into the butter mixture.  Slowly stir in flour mixture.  Once the flour has been incorporated, refrigerate the dough for a few hours or overnight.  Bake at 350 for about 8-10 minutes.  Once cool they have cooled, frost with the cream cheese icing.

For the icing:
Beat cream cheese, butter, and sugar in mixer.  Add in remaining ingredients and beat gently until a spreadable icing remains.  Feel free to add more sugar if the icing is too liquidy, or to add more liquid if it is too stiff.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Prosciutto and Papaya Skewers with Basil and Raspberry


I find it fascinating that a miniature stick of wood can make something instantly party-fancy.  Yes, party-fancy is a term.  Or it will be.  I'm sure of it.  2013 is a blank canvas at the moment.  I can color it however i want!

If you just threw some basil, prosciutto, papaya, and raspberries in a bowl, it would basically be a salad. And my heart would break just a tiny bit.  Salad, in theory, tends to make me sad.  Though in practice I do actually enjoy them...

But stick the same ingredients on  toothpick - and yes, I can get excited about that. The miniature stick of wood turns the salad into such cute and festive party appetizers, I become smitten instantly.  The toothpick - Oh, it's magic!

Ingredients
basil leaf
prosciutto, torn into chunks
papaya - cut into chunks
raspberry
toothpicks

Instructions
Place one of each on a toothpick.  I liked doing them in the following order - basil, prosciutto, papaya then raspberry.  Serve and eat!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Bus Cake, with Eggnog and Chocolate Chip Batter


Yep, it is indeed a bus-shaped cake.  You totally know that your life isn't complete until you've experienced the bus cake.  When most of us are out and about, buses are just another mode of transportation peppering the landscape. But to a certain 34 inch tall toddler, this mode of transportation is the most amazing thing ever.  Ever.  One never knew how much joy was to be had by a bus sighting until now.  His enthusiasm for this marvel of human innovation is so infectious, both Seth and I even find ourselves becoming genuinely excited when we spot a passing bus.  And a corresponding twinge of sadness when said bus moves out of sight.  Countless minutes have been spent doing Google image searches of buses, taking time to admire each and every bus on the page.  He is a delightful bus companion, radiating toddler glee while riding in this most favored vehicle, and every few minutes exclaiming "bus," as though I would have forgotten that we were on a bus.  Since it was his birthday last week, we decided to tackle a bus-shaped cake.  I made the icing and cake, and Seth assembled it into its bus form.  We originally wanted a double-decker London style bus, but we belatedly realized that much more cake would be needed.  Oh well... he recognized it immediately, exclaiming, "BUS!" and dove right in, so mission accomplished.  With the eggnog and chocolate chip batter and buttercream frosting, it was pretty tasty as well.

adapted from
cooking light pound cake

Ingredients
Cake:
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup egg nog
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Icings:
1/2 pound unsalted butter
3 cups confectioners sugar, whisked
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
red food coloring

1/2 pound unsalted butter
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
black food coloring

Decorations:
4 mini chocolate frosted donuts
2 yellow chicklets for the front lights
2 red chicklets for the tailights

Instructions
For the icings:  Beat butter in electric mixer.  Add in sugar.  Mix in cream, extracts, salt, and red food coloring.  Set aside, and repeat process for the black icing.

For the cake:  Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.  In another bowl, stir eggnog and buttermilk together.  In mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add in eggs one by one, being sure to mix well after each one.  Mix in vanilla extract.  Turn mixer to lowest setting, and alternate between adding flour and the buttermilk/eggnog mixture into the mixing bowl.  Once the flour and buttermilk mixtures have been incorporated, place batter in two greased 9x5 loaf pans and bake at 350 for about 50 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes then remove to cool on wire rack.

For the assembly:  Once the cakes have cooled, cut into rectangles by slicing off any ends and curved parts, you want nice rectangles to work with.  Spread red icing on one and stack the other on top.  Place donuts where they will eventually fit as wheels, and tracing around them, cut out chunks of the cake to make wheel wells.  We didn't think of this until after making the cake, which is why the wheels stick way out on the sides.  Spread red icing all over.  Spread the grey-black for windows.  Pipe grey-black around the windows using a a pastry bag or ziplock bag with a corner cut off.  Paint the donuts with the grey-black frosting, and use toothpicks to keep the wheels in place.  Add the yellow Chicklets to the front of the bus and the red ones to the back.



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Latkes with Clarified Butter, Cotija Cheese and Truffled Ketchup


We have almost reached that time of year.  The one where I put notations on the calendar to highlight the days of Hanukkah, and put a star on the day or days on which we intend to make latkes.  Then, all too often, end up hurtling though the entire holiday, forgetting to look at the calendar, and failing to celebrate even just one of the nights. Possibly that time of the year we end up ordering pizza on the night we were supposed to do the latkes.  Not this year.  We like the idea of celebrating Hanukkah, even if we completely fail at celebrating any of the other Jewish holidays.  I think doing one holiday makes us feel like we are keeping up tradition just a teeny tiny bit, even if it's not technically a major holiday.  However, we're not exactly traditionalists, so we find latkes a fun opportunity to try new flavor combinations we may never have thought of.  Seth got the idea for these after eating french fries with cotija cheese and clarified butter from a gourmet food truck.  They were so amazing, he thought we should put those flavors into latkes and serve them with truffled ketchup.  I'm pretty sure no phone calls will be made to a local pizza place this Hanukkah.  

Ingredients
1 pound unsalted butter
2 pounds russet potatoes
1 medium onion
1 small bunch scallions, chopped
1 egg, beaten
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
cotija cheese, crumbled
scallions, chopped
fleur de sel
ketchup (preferably Heinz), for serving
white truffle oil, for serving

Instructions
To clarify the butter, chop the sticks up and place in a medium pot over low heat.  Melt the butter.  After a few minutes, you will start to see foam covering the top.  Once that stops bubbling up, take off heat and use a spoon to skim off the top layer of foam.  Set a piece of cheesecloth over a mesh strainer and place over a heat-proof container.  Pour the butter through the cheesecloth and strainer into the container.  

Peel the potatoes, keeping the peeled potatoes in cold water.  Once they're all done, grate the potatoes and the onion into a medium bowl.  Once all grated, begin squeezing the water out of the shredded potatoes and onion and transferring them to a new bowl.  Left behind should be some water and, underneath, some separated potato starch.  Take out the starch and mix it back in with the grated potatoes and onion.  Add in the chopped scallions, beaten egg, and generous pinches of salt and pepper.  Mix everything together.  Form thin patties with the mixture (the thinner, the crispier), and cook in a skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat in the clarified butter. Once one side has browned (about 3 minutes) flip and cook the other side.  As they finish, remove and place on paper towel.  Just before serving, sprinkle each latke with a liberal amount of cotija cheese and scallions.  Finish with a pinch of fleur de sel.  In a small bowl, mix just a bit of white truffle oil with the ketchup (about a 1/4 teaspoon oil per 2-3 tablespoons of ketchup).  Serve the truffled ketchup with the latkes.



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Whole Wheat Ricotta Waffles with Blueberry Sauce



Most little ones seem to have favorite toys or favorite stuffed animals.  And favorite colors.  But not our little guy Max.  He is rather fickle, dispensing his affection on whatever catches his fancy at the moment.  Or maybe he just kinda likes his toys, stuffed animals and colors equally.  But he does have a favorite letter.  Okay, 2 letters.  He loves both B and O.  And b is just so super awesome because it's also his word for berries.  And it doesn't hurt that b is the first letter of his very favorite thing in the entire world - buses.  Now, he loves all berries, but you never know what berry he will actually want to eat that day.  You see some raspberries on sale and pick up a few cartons, thinking, ohh Max will like this.  No, no, he will not.  He will want blackberries, not the raspberries sitting in the fridge.  But sometimes, sometimes, the stars align all beautifully straight in a row and the kiddie gods smile beatifically upon you and somehow you get the right berry (or B, as it is known) to make him happy.  And since it was his birthday the other day, I made him some waffles with B's.  And it must have been the right B, because he was shoveling the sauce into his mouth.  So thank you gods of toddler eating, we totally appreciate it.  And, I'd have to say these waffles are pretty great for full grown people as well.

Ingredients
Waffles:
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup ricotta
1 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated

Blueberry Sauce:
1 pound blueberries
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cinnamon stick
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground clove (depending on how much you adore clove)

Instructions
Blueberry Sauce:  Place all ingredients in a medium pot over medium-low heat and gently boil, stirring often.  Let it cook together for about 5 minutes, and remove the cinnamon stick.  Let cool.

Waffles:  Beat the egg whites with a mixer until they hold soft peaks.  Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  In a large bowl, whisk ricota, buttermilk, butter, vanilla extract, and egg yolks.  Stir in the flour mixture. Gently fold in the egg whites.   Pour batter into preheated waffle iron and cook until waffles are crisp and golden.  I like keeping the oven hot at 350 and giving the waffles an extra round of crisping for a few minutes.  Pour sauce on top of waffles and serve.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Easy Mushroom Stir-fry with Chinese 5-Spice


I think I am reaching a point at which I no longer understand what qualifies as typical breakfast food.  There was a time in my life when I was very regimented in my thinking.  Bagels, muffins, cereal, eggs, bacon, waffles, pancakes - those were breakfast foods.  Then college came and I was taught the wonders of pizza for breakfast.  Sometimes you feel like pizza for breakfast!  And also the joys of leftover Chinese food were revealed to me as delicious morning fare.  And from there, chaos ensued.  So while I originally intended this as a quick lunch or dinner, it became breakfast.  An umami, Chinese 5-spiced breakfast.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
pinch white pepper
kosher salt, to taste
3 scallions, chopped
toasted sesame oil, for serving
rice, for serving

Instructions
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Once the butter has melted and the bubbles in the mixture have started to subside, add the chopped mushrooms. Stir continuously, allowing the mushrooms to absorb the butter and oil mixture. After a few minutes, the mushrooms will brown.  I actually did this step in two batches, as I didn't want to crowd the pan.  Once all the mushrooms have been browned, return to pan and deglaze the pan with rice wine (Pour the rice wine in and loosen up all the tasty stuff stuck to the pan.  The rice wine should cook down very quickly).  Mix in the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and 5-spice powder.  Sprinkle with white pepper and kosher salt to taste.  Scatter the chopped scallions on top.  Serve with rice and toasted sesame oil.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Spiced Cranberry-Ginger Cider with All the Fixins'


From my perspective, the people who celebrate Christmas fall into two camps.  First, there are the ones who wait until December to decorate.  They let Thanksgiving shine all on its own, without Christmas trying to nudge its way into the spotlight.  And then there are the ones who start decking the halls well before Thanksgiving, letting all the holidays sort of blend together into two, big, rosy, festive months.  We fall into the latter camp.  We are just such big fans of Christmas lights.  They make everything so cozy! And the cats - well, they are definitely Christmas fans, as garland and the tree make for some super amazing toys.  So we like to extend this Christmas cheer as long as possible.  We decorated last weekend, and made this drink to kick off a season of baked goods, good cheer and festive lights.

Ingredients
2 cups cranberry juice
2 cups ginger ale
3 cups apple cider
12 whole cloves
3 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
2-inch orange peel
2-inch chunk of ginger
1/2 cup cranberries
orange slices, for serving

Instructions
Put everything into a medium-sized pot over medium heat.  Once the mixture is nice and hot, and the aromatics are fragrant, ladle into mugs for serving.  It is also good served chilled. Serve with orange wedges and extra cinnamon sticks.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving Recipe Round-up!

I love a good list.  LOVE it.  Like really love it.  List making is so therapeutic, putting a bit of order and tidiness onto our messy and chaotic world.  So right now I am smack dab in Thanksgiving list mode - what to make, what groceries are needed, a master list of all the tasks to be done, and a schedule for said tasks to be accomplished.  And of course, this list - a list of possible foods to fill out the Thanksgiving menu.  Here we have some possible ideas for appetizers, side dishes, and some desserts (beyond the pumpkin pie) to round out your feast.


Appetizers







Side Dishes













Desserts







Very Vanilla Egg-Free Ice Cream
We just love putting this stuff on our desserts instead of whipped cream!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stuffing Pasta


Apparently, I've been born without the genes that makes one enjoy stuffing.  Or dressing, as the case may be.  I don't know why that happened in life.  But I just can't seem to like it.  No matter what wonderful things go into it.  Not even my gram's famous stuffing.  None of it.  But stuffing (or dressing) has been deemed a necessary component of the Thanksgiving feast.  And I can't bring myself to make it any more, to once again be disappointed that my genetic makeup prevents me from savoring each bite of this dish.  To once again, get my hopes up, to think that this one stuffing is the one I will like... then have those hopes dashed.  So instead of stuffing, I like doing a pasta dish that I like to think captures a bit of the essence of stuffing.  But not in stuffing form.  In pasta.  So here is a simple dish with brown butter, pancetta, fresh herbs, hazelnuts, and parmesan cheese.  Never disappoints.

Ingredients
2/3 pound farfalle pasta
4 ounces cubed pancetta
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup torn sage leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme and/or rosemary leaves
pinch nutmeg
white pepper, to taste
kosher salt, to taste
1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
juice from 1/2 a lemon
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile,
heat olive oil over medium high heat in skillet and add the pancetta.  Cook until the pancetta has a nice golden brown color (about 5 minutes).  Take off heat and set aside.

In large sauté pan, melt butter over medium-low heat.  Add sage, thyme, and rosemary and let the butter brown, about two minutes.  You will see brown specks that have formed on the bottom of the pan.  Be careful to not burn the butter.  Add pepper, salt and nutmeg, as well as the reserved pancetta.  Sprinkle chopped and toasted hazelnuts.  Take off heat and add lemon juice.  Add pasta to the brown butter mixture and toss with cheese.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thick and Creamy, Earl Grey and Lavender Hot Chocolate


Around this time of year, we become a bit introspective, reflecting on those things for which we are grateful.  I've got to say, I'm so grateful that chocolate exists.  I mean, what else is there in our cupboards, ready on standby to be deployed into whatever goodies we feel like whipping up?  Chocolate chip cookies, brownies,  mousses, ice cream, the list is endless.  What else goes with so perfectly well with so many different fruits (and vegetables - I'm looking at you zucchini!).  When there seems to be a dearth of produce to turn into dessert, who is always there?  Chocolate of course!

As Americans, we are looking to Thanksgiving and thinking of turning harvest foods like squash, apples,  pears and brussels sprouts and such into delicious feast food, I wanted to make sure chocolate still felt included in all the festivities.

Using half and half and the chocolate chips made this into a wonderfully thick and creamy hot chocolate, not quite pudding, but almost!  And it was ever so gloriously luxuriant, an edible tribute to our good friend chocolate.

Ingredients
2 cups half and half (or whole milk)
6 ounces good quality semi sweet chocolate chips or chocolate bar
pinch vanilla salt
2 teabags earl grey tea
1 tablespoon of lavender buds in a teabag (or just strain the lavender before serving)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
Place half and half, chocolate chips, vanilla salt, earl grey teabags, and the lavender tea bag in a small pot over medium-low heat.  Stir continuously, melting the chocolate into the milk. Once the mixture is nice and hot, and the chocolate is melted, stir in vanilla extract and remove the teabags.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Virtual Book Launch Party for An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair

We usually don't post on a Friday, but today is a special day.  We are participating in a virtual book launch party!  An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by the absolutely amazing Faith Gorsky comes out today, and we are so excited to (FINALLY) be able to get a hold of this book from one of our favorite bloggers.  Her book has over 100 Middle Eastern recipes, with a focus mainly on dishes from the Levant, but also a few recipes from other areas of the Middle East.  Her recipes are authentic Middle Eastern, but streamlined for today's cooking with an emphasis on demystifying techniques and ingredients that can be difficult for most of us to master.  The book is available to order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  So you definitely want to get a copy of this - doesn't this sound like such a valuable addition to the cookbook collection?  I totally think so.



Faith is letting us share a recipe from her book today - Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts.  Such a gorgeous and delicious dish!  This recipe is actually vegan, so it is perfect for incorporating into a vegan or vegetarian meal, but it is also wonderful served with chicken, beef, lamb, or seafood.  Faith recommends pairing the rice with her Shrimp in Aromatic Tomato Sauce.

After you check out the recipe below, please head over to Faith's blog to check out her virtual book launch party to see the other bloggers who are participating.  Also, as part of her virtual book launch, Faith is hosting a giveaway of a fabulous set of prizes.  Be sure to head over and enter!


Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts




ROZ MLOW’WAN

Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky
(Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.

Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking

1½ cups (325 g) basmati rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 onion, finely diced
4 tablespoons sultanas (golden raisins)
1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon saffron threads (or ½ teaspoon turmeric)

1. Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a
kettle of water on to boil.
2. Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add
the pine nuts and cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside.
3. Add the onion to the saucepan you cooked the pine nuts in, and cook until softened and
just starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and cook
2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sultanas, boiling water, salt, and saffron (or
turmeric), turn the heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil.
4. Give the rice a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook
until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time). Turn the heat off
and let the rice sit (covered) 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
5. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top; serve.

OPTIONAL Add two pods of cardamom, two whole cloves, and one 2-inch (5 cm) piece of
cinnamon stick at the same time that you add the rice.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Apple Pomegranate Fruit Bars with Rose and Ginger


I love that I am 28 years old, with a child of my own, and I can go to my gram's and still be treated like one of the grandkids.  When we were visiting friends and family back East last month, Max and I ended up with extra time to spend at her place, and it was AWESOME!  She fed us amazing baked goods. She gave us books to read to keep us busy (picture books for Max and Christmas-y cook and craft books for me).  I even had my friend Vicki come over and my gram made us all a homemade spaghetti dinner.  With both coconut pie and shortbread bar cookies with an apricot filling for dessert!  Yay for two desserts!  It probably sounds like she was babysitting both me and Max.  And that is probably a true statement.  I even needed her medical help with this weird thing that had popped up on my arm.  I apparently was the recipient of a spider bite.  I have no clue how that happened.  But my gram took care of it.

So after we got back, I missed my gram!  How could someone not miss gram?  And then I remembered that she gave me the recipe for her shortbread bar cookies with the apricot jam!  I didn't have any jam around, but I had gone to the farmer's market recently.  I combined her cookies with ingredients I had on hand, and it made me feel like she was right next door for a moment.

Ingredients
3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 apples, chopped (I used Granny Smith and Pink Lady)
pomegranate seeds from 1 pomegranate
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon ground dried rose leaves, plus more for sprinkling on top
2 teaspoons ground ginger

Instructions
Heat oven to 350.  Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar.  In a bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt.  Then slowly mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss the chopped apples, pomegranate seeds, sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, rose and ginger.

Press 2/3 of the reserved flour mixture into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan.  Pour apple mixture over it.  Then sprinkle remaining flour mixture.  Dust a bit of sugar and ground rose on top.  Bake for about 35 minutes, until golden brown and the apples have cooked.  Remove and set aside until cool.  Cut into squares for serving.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Butternut Squash Crostini


We as a society have weird rules governing behavior.  For instance, we have deemed the tuxedo, suits, ball gowns, and cocktail dresses as formal wear.  Why?  Why are these things inherently "dressy?"  Why can't pajamas be worn for formal occasions   I'm a huge proponent of comfort.  And why are shoes with a heel deemed dressy?  That just makes me mad.  I'm not super short, but I do veer into short territory, so I know people probably think I should wear heels.  But I refuse, just like I refuse to wear blue jeans because I find them to be uncomfortable!  The same goes for food.  A sandwich is always relegated as a quick food - lunch or dinner on busy nights, but pile some things on just one slice of tiny bread and it is apparently dressy, something that can be served as a fancy appetizer.  I suppose the obvious answer has to do with its tininess, the fact that it's so easy to snatch from a tray of hors de'oeurves. You know what, though?  I say, forget the rules.  They're just as good as an afternoon snack or at home on a weeknight!  

Ingredients
sliced baguette
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
vanilla salt
white pepper
roasted butternut squash puree (see note)
vanilla salt
brush of maple syrup
minced rosemary
thinly sliced carrots
toasted walnuts
arugula
sliced orange

Instructions
Note: I roasted a whole butternut squash in a 425 degree oven for about 90 minutes to 2 hours, then scooped out the seeds and stringy parts and ran the flesh through a food processor.

To toast the walnuts, I place in a dry skillet over medium high heat and toss until they have developed a golden brown color.

Heat oven to 375.  Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet (I used a Silpat to line mine).  Pour olive oil in a bowl, and brush the oil on each slice.  Sprinkle a bit of vanilla salt and pepper on each.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden-brown.

Spread butternut squash puree on baguette slices.  Sprinkle with a bit of vanilla salt.  Brush a bit of maple syrup on top.  Sprinkle rosemary and arrange a layer of sliced carrots.  Sprinkle walnuts and then place some arugula leaves on top.  Drizzle with freshly squeezed orange juice from a slice of orange.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Crabapple and Maple Syrup

I am convinced Brussels sprouts have magical powers.  You try them.  And maybe you hate them.  But you can't stop thinking about them.  And you cant resist buying them the next time you see them because they are so cute.  And then you make them again.  And your feelings have warmed up to them.  And this continues until you have fallen madly in love, and you don't really know why.  Most definitely a magic vegetable!

I might have picked up crabapples at the market purely because of how adorable they looked.  Ok, I definitely picked them up for that reason.  And then I thought, well if these are so cute and tiny, and Brussels sprouts are so cute and tiny - then maybe they would work well together! My reasoning skills leave much to be desired, obviously.  But regardless of how I managed to get these two together, I liked the how the sweet tang of crabapple paired with our miniature cabbage friends, the Brussels sprouts.  The maple syrup, bacon, and rosemary ended up making it a dish we can't get out of our minds.


Ingredients
4 cups halved Brussels sprouts
1 small red onion, chopped
8 thickly sliced crabapples
4 slices bacon, chopped

2-3 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sprig rosemary, leaves chopped
kosher salt
white pepper

Instructions
Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, toss Brussels sprouts, red onion, crabapples, and bacon all together.  In a small bowl, whisk maple syrup, vinegar, olive oil, and rosemary.  Pour the maple syrup mixture over the Brussels sprouts and coat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Place on a baking sheet or 9 x 13 baking pan and roast for about 35 minutes, until the sprouts have cooked through and have developed some nice caramelization.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hearty Bacon Clam Chowder

There are some annoying questions asked in this world.  Such as, what are you going to be for Halloween.  I don't know.  Myself?  I get all stressed out even thinking of what to be.  I am absolutely not creative.  And I can't pull off one of those clever easy costume things like scribbling the word book on your face so you can say you are "facebook".  I also hate spending money on costumes.  So I just tend to avoid it.  And then Halloween comes, or some other Halloween activity rolls around, and I dress in my normal clothes.  Or maybe, maybe - a festive Halloween shirt.  I probably sound like the Halloween grinch.  I like other parts of the festivities!  Like the previously posted candy mix.  How can someone be anti-candy?  And we make silly little holiday crafts and carve pumpkins and watch something scary.  But I just don't want to dress up.

Another annoying question is "soup or salad?"  In what world is this an okay question to ask?  How is that even answerable until you know all the possibilities!  Not all soups are the same! Chicken noodle is not crab bisque.  It is not.  I probably wouldn't order chicken noodle unless I was super sick, but then I probably wouldn't be in a restaurant to begin with.  So it just wouldn't happen.  And not all salads are the same!  What lettuce is being used?  What other things are on the salad?  What dressings do you have?  These are all critical pieces of information for us to have to make an informed decision!  Anyways, I'm not sure I've come anywhere close to talking about this clam chowder, except to say, it's hearty, it's bacon-y, and given a choice between this soup and almost any salad, I'd have to go with the clam chowder.

Ingredients
3 cups half and half
1 cup whole milk
1 sprig thyme
8 peppercorns
2 peeled garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
extra virgin olive oil
6 pieces of bacon, chopped
2 russet potatoes, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 small shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
plus more olive oil if needed
8 ounces clam juice
1/2 cup white wine
2 (6.5ounces) cans of chopped clams
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
Gently heat the milk, cream, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, and sprig of thyme in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Don’t let the mixture boil.  Once the mixture is very hot, take off heat and let the aromatics infuse the milk for 20 minutes. 

In a small pot, melt the butter, then whisk in the flour.  Keep stirring, until it begins to bubble (about 2 minutes or so).  Take off heat and set aside.

In a large pot, pour a bit of olive oil in to cover the bottom, and get the oil nice and hot.  Add the bacon, and let it crisp up (about 5 minutes or so).  Once it has crisped up, remove from the pan using tongs.  Set on a paper towel.  Add in the chopped potatoes.  let the potatoes cook in the bacon fat for a bit (about 3 minutes or so).  Then add in the celery, carrots, shallots.  Cook (feel free to add more oil if needed) until the potatoes have begun to brown.  Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).  Stir in the white wine.  Reduce, then add the clam juice, and cans of chopped clams.  Add in the the infused milk and reserved flour mixture (roux).  Stir, and cook until the vegetables have achieved the desired tenderness, and the chowder has become thick.  Add the salt and peppers, and adjust seasonings.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Muddy Buddies (aka Puppy Chow)


They say that if you love something, set it free.  If it comes back it is meant to be.  I hate pithy statements like this.  I really did love it and very very very reluctantly let it go.  Well, more like it was forcefully taken from my hands.  I made this candy mix.  A whole glorious batch of ridiculous festive candy in celebration of Halloween.  So garish and bright and delicious.  And placed it into a gigantic container.  And I loved it. Oh how I loved it.  I had no intention of setting it free.  And then Seth told me that it was an absurd amount of candy for one toddler and his parents.  So he was taking it into his office to share.  I hate sharing.  And obviously my container of candy does not have motor skills, so it can't find its way back to me.  But I will contend that it was meant to be.  As I fully intend to make another batch over the weekend.  Maybe, you know, just half a batch. And Seth will not be prying this one away from me.

adapted from bettycrocker.com

Ingredients
9 cups Rice Chex
2/3 cup butterscotch chips
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup Nutella
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon vanilla salt (see this post for details)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
a bunch of whatever Halloween candy floats your boat
  I used:
  1 bag of Brach's candy corn
  1 movie theater sized box of Reese's pieces
  ~ 10 ounces of pretzel M&Ms
  ~ 10 ounces of peanut M&Ms

Instructions
In a large bowl, pour in the Chex.  In a medium glass bowl, place butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, Nutella, and butter.  Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir.  You want the mixture to be melted together.  Stir in vanilla.  Sprinkle vanilla salt over the Chex, then pour the Nutella mixture over the cereal.  Get the cereal as evenly coated as possible, then sprinkle with the powdered sugar.  Place the mixture on waxed paper to dry.  In a medium bowl, mix together all the Halloween candy you are using.  Mix with the cereal mixture once it has dried.  Place in an airtight container.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Cilantro and Lime Fried Egg on Toast


Fate intervened.   Had I not been compelled to move the tupperware container sitting on a shelf in the fridge, I would not have spied the sad looking plastic bag behind it.  But I did move it!  I did!  And since then, our breakfasts have taken a delicious turn.  The lucky find was cilantro, an herb that was used days before and then quickly forgotten.  So that morning, I made eggs over easy with toast, some spices/herbs, and then a generous dusting of cilantro.  It was good, but we decided that the sourdough bread needed to be bronzed on a skillet in order to be easier to eat (plus, you know, more fat and deliciousness).  So the next day we did the bronzing with the same herbs and spices and the cilantro.  Then I wondered what would happen with a drizzle of lime juice, so the next day, we did the bronzing, the herbs and spices, cilantro... and the lime juice.  Harmony.  Seriously, what an unexpectedly awesome combination.

I can't bear to think what would have happened had I not moved that container when I did.  Instead of a wonderful new breakfast, a slimy green mess would have been found...  then tossed.

Ingredients 
chopped cilantro
eggs
oregano
kosher salt
crushed red pepper
cumin
garlic powder
slices of sourdough bread
extra virgin olive oil
lime wedges

Instructions
Heat olive oil in cast iron skillet.  Place the slices of sourdough bread on the griddle and bronze each side.  Take off heat once both sides have browned.  Set aside.  Pour in more olive oil if needed.  Crack the eggs into the hot skillet.  Sprinkle with oregano, salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic powder.  Once the white looks pretty cooked (about a minute), get the spatula (be sure to get it underneath the yolk) and flip the whole thing to finish cooking (over easy).  It should only take a few seconds.  Then place on bronzed toast.  Cover with a healthy sprinkling of cilantro.  Serve with lime wedges.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Butternut Squash and Apple Risotto


The butter had been melted.  The shallot had been added, and was wonderfully soft.  The rosemary and sage gave off their woodsy scents.  Garlic was emitting its pungent fragrance.  It was time to add the rice.  So I measured out the rice and stirred it into the onion and butter mixture, letting the rice get all toasty in a quick herbal butter bath before adding the white wine.

Then I noticed something strange.  I had poured in long-grain brown rice?  How did this even get into the cupboard, let alone get into my pan?  I must have purchased it up by mistake.  Do not make the same mistake I did.  I gave it a chance, trying to cook it for a bit, praying that somehow a risotto would force its way out of this mixture.  A risotto did not emerge.  I guess it could have, if I had given it about a year to cook.  So yeah, do not mistakenly grab long-grain brown rice at the grocery store than grab it from your cupboard to make risotto.

I had to restart the whole thing, of course.

Ingredients 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 sprig rosemary, needles removed and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 cups Arborio or medium-grain rice
smoked sea salt, to taste
ground white pepper, to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups butternut squash puree
2 Granny Smith apples, cored
1/2 cup toasted pinenuts, for garnish

Note: I roasted a whole butternut squash in a 425 degree oven for about 90 minutes to 2 hours, then scooped out the seeds and stringy parts and ran the flesh through a food processor.
To toast the pinenuts, I place in a dry skillet over medium high heat and toss until they have developed a golden brown color (about 4 minutes).  

Instructions 
In a medium pot over medium heat, keep the chicken broth warm.  Melt butter in a large saute pan.  Add the shallot, rosemary, and sage.  Once the onion has softened (about 4 minutes), add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, til fragrant.  Add the rice.  Stir the rice and let the butter coat the rice.  Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper.  Pour in the white wine and stir the rice.  Once the rice has absorbed the wine, add in a ladleful (about 2/3 cup) of chicken stock.  Stir and let the rice absorb the stock.  Once it has absorbed it, add the next ladleful, and keep repeating.  Be sure to stir frequently.  Once the rice has cooked, stir in butternut squash puree.  Grate the apples into the risotto and stir.  Top with toasted pinenuts.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Kale Pesto Breakfast Pasta


The wise Dr. Seuss asks "Did you ever fly a kite in bed? Did you ever walk with ten cats on your head? Did you ever milk this kind of cow?"  He then goes on to say, "If you never did, you should.  These things are fun and fun is good."

I totally agree - fun is good.  I have yet to fly a kite in bed, walk with ten cats on my head, or milk any cow (though, i remain skeptical that walking with ten cats on your head could be considered fun, as I'm pretty sure the result would be a flurry of biting and scratching).  But we did have pasta for breakfast. And that was fun.  Therefore it was good!

I worry that it appears that we have a kale obsession.  This is not the case.  I promise!  I just happened to have a ridiculous amount of the stuff around and wanted to use it up.  So I made this.

Ingredients 
For the pesto:
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
4 cups chopped kale
1/2 cup olive oil
zest and juice from 1 lemon
smoked sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper

For the breakfast bowls:
kale pesto (about 2 tablespoons per bowl) (I made this night before I wanted to use it)
cooked spaghetti (I cooked it the night before to help speed things along for the morning, you probably want about 1/2 cup -1 cup per bowl)
egg yolks (1 per bowl)
slices of bacon (1 per bowl)
chopped parsley (about a tablespoon per bowl)
grated Parmesan (about a tablespoon per bowl)

Instructions
To make the pesto, place garlic, walnuts, lemon zest, and kale in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse.  Slowly pour in the olive oil and lemon juice while the food processor is still running.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste, then refrigerate.

Place cooked and heated pasta in each serving bowl.   

Fry up bacon slices on a griddle over medium heat.  Once both sides have crisped, remove from griddle and place on a paper towel.  Chop.  In a skillet (I used my trusty cast iron skillet) over medium heat, fry the egg yolk.  It will only take about 30 seconds to a minute.  You want it to be warm, but still runny.   

For each bowl, toss the pasta with the pesto.  Then top with fried egg yolk, chopped bacon, chopped parsley, and grated Parmesan.


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