Sunday, July 31, 2011

Avocado Topped Bagels

This breakfast concoction is inspired by something I tried recently at a nearby coffee shop.  They had this interesting bagel covered with an avocado, cream cheese, and lemon pepper spread.  It turned out to be a killer combination!  Tangy and creamy, with a kick of spice from the pepper – At home, we prepare this with the ingredients separated, which makes the flavors really pop, as well as some fresh herbs on top. If you’re an avocado lover like us, we highly recommend trying this.

1 everything bagel
1 avocado
cream cheese to taste
zest and juice from 1 lemon
ground pepper to taste
sea salt to taste
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro (or parsley)

In a small bowl, mix lemon zest, ground pepper, and sea salt.  Slice avocado and drizzle slices with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Toast bagel and spread cream cheese on top.  Place the avocado slices on the cream cheese.  Sprinkle with lemon zest mixture and herbs.

When picking out an avocado:  If you are making this within a day or two, make sure it is slightly soft and uniform.  Too mushy, and it is probably bruised or going bad.  Too hard, and it is unripe and will take around a week to soften up.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Homemade Beer Bread

Beer bread is great, because it doesn't take hours to make, it has a nice subtle flavor, reminiscent of your favorite beer, and it has has that great pillowy inside and crusty outside you only get from fresh baked, homemade bread. Excellent with a sandwich, pasta, or best of all, on its own.

3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 bottle of beer (we've enjoyed Newcastle and Blue Moon)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir in beer. Place batter into greased loaf pan and bake for about 25 minutes. Brush on melted butter and continue baking for another ten minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Green Bean and Mushroom Pork Stir Fry

This stir fry has a delicious, unique flavor profile. Packed with umami, the flavors of hoisin, mushrooms, ground pork, and spice stand out right away. Supported by hints of garlic, sweet honey, rice wine, and soy, this dish surprised us with its complexity and richness of flavor, and has become a regular mainstay for weeknight dinners.

½ lb ground pork
2 teaspoons cornstarch
¼ tsp white pepper
dash black pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon canola oil
splash sesame oil
3 cups chopped green beans
5 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces cremini ("baby bella") mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon honey
3 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon thick soy sauce
1 ½ teaspoons chile paste

Whisk cornstarch, white and black peppers, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon rice wine. Coat the ground pork with the cornstarch mixture. Heat oil in wok over medium high heat and cook green beans, mushrooms, and garlic for five minutes and the mushrooms have started to brown. Add the ground pork and cook until the pork is cooked through. Whisk together hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauces, and chile pastes and add to the meat and vegetables. Cook for a few more minutes.

Peach and Blackberry Cobbler

Is there ever an end to what you can do with fresh blackberries? Combine the sour of blackberries, the sweet of peaches, the creaminess of vanilla, and the spiciness of cinnamon and ginger to get this delicious, crumbly cobbler. Perfect for satisfying guests who know their sweets.

2¼ cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 cup half and half
4 cups sliced peaches
2 cups blackberries
½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lime zest
½ teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon half and half
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger

Whisk baking powder, 2 cups flour, and salt. Mix in the chilled butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumble. Stir in the half and half and form into dough. I like forming the batter into one large biscuit to place on top, but you can also form the dough into smaller clumps and place all of them on top.

Mix the fruit with ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup flour, vanilla, lime zest, and lime juice. Pour the fruit mixture into a greased baking dish and cover with the biscuit dough.

Brush half and half on the biscuit dough with a pastry brush. In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon, ginger and 2 tablespoons sugar and sprinkle before placing the cobbler in the oven. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Avocado Bacon Penne

Avocado and bacon... a match made in heaven. This luscious and creamy pasta harnesses the same mystical powers that make avocado bacon burgers so delicious, and turns them away from the dark side, and toward the light! Forget all that cream, butter, and cheese, and savor the natural, buttery creaminess of avocados!

12 ounces penne
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 slices bacon, chopped
½ tsp red pepper
ground black pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 avocadoes, sliced

Bring a large pot of water with salt to a boil, and cook the penne until pasta is about two minutes from being al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining it. Heat oil in large skillet and crisp the bacon. Add black pepper, red pepper, and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and wine. Bring to a boil then simmer for ten minutes. Add lemon juice, lemon zest, and parsley. Add the almost cooked pasta to the skillet and finish cooking in there. Add about ½ cup of the reserved pasta water (add more if it is dry). When the pasta has cooked, top with the slices of avocadoes, letting the slices melt into the pasta.

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