Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cheesy Frittata with Spinach, Asparagus and Mushrooms

Jerry Seinfeld once said that a washing machine was like the night club for clothes. 
I always think of that quote when we have frittatas.  Why?  Well, frittatas are kind of like the nightclub for vegetables, right?  It can get a bit stuffy in the crisper drawer, so its inhabitants need to get out and live a little.  Vegetables, fresh herbs, and in this case fungi, each get all primped and pampered, rinsed, peeled, chopped, cleaned up and ready for a night on the town to mingle with the other cleaned up vegetables.  They get to dance and sauté and bake together in a cheesy egg mixture.  And a good time is had by all.

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 leek, chopped
5 ounces fresh spinach
12 ounces asparagus, chopped into 1 inch pieces
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
5 whole eggs
4 egg whites
1 1/4 cup shredded Fontina cheese, divided
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 325.  In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat, sauté the leek in butter and olive oil until soft.  Increase the heat to medium-high and add the asparagus and mushrooms.  Sauté for 3 minutes.  Meanwhile, boil some water (I tend to do this in the microwave) and wilt the spinach leaves.  Wring dry, being sure to get rid of the excess moisture.  Chop the leaves, and add the spinach to the rest of the vegetables and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.  In a large bowl, whisk eggs, egg whites, 1 cup Fontina cheese, 1/8 cup Parmesan, seasonings, and the fresh herbs.  Add to sauté pan, sprinkle with remaining cheeses, and bake for about 35 minutes until edges are golden brown and eggs are set.

I sometimes serve this with a quickly assembled sauce of jarred pizza sauce mixed with some red pepper sauce like Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.  Just mix together, heat, and serve.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pop Tarts, 3 ways – Rose Hip and Apple, S’mores, and Brown Sugar Spice

So this post is all thanks to my mom, who gave me some random things that, when put together, created a super fun treat!  My mom lives on the opposite side of the country, so she likes sending us packages to stay in touch.  Just recently, she sent me two jars of rose hip fruit spread.  I’ve never even heard of rose hips before this.  And I’m not really the kind of person who puts jelly on toast.  I’m not really sure why.  So I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with this.

Also about 8 years ago, my mom gave me this kitchen gadget, telling me she thought I would use it more than she would.  It was a Cut-N-Seal gadget from Pampered Chef that can make tarts.  At the time, I was an odd choice of recipient for this gadget, since I didn’t cook, and what I did cook consisted of packaged Lipton sides, Easy Mac, and ramen noodles (I was not a sophisticated eater in college).  I always assumed I would never get around to using it.  Over the years, I have moved far away from our once college-style cooking, and it has been bugging me that I have this gadget that has never been used. 

Then there was an epiphany- I could put both of these things together! So I finally unearthed the kitchen gadget from its place in the baking kitchen utensil drawer and put it to use, cutting out pocket sized tarts filled with rose hip jelly.  I also decided to try out some other fillings, like s’mores and brown sugar and spice.  So 8 years later, I can finally say, “Thank you mom!”

Adapted from the King Arthur Flour website.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
4 tablespoons whole milk
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
1 egg for egg wash

Rose Hip and Apple filling:
8.8 ounce container rose hip fruit spread
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 apple
1 lemon wedge

Brown Sugar and Spice filling:
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
pinch allspice
pinch ground ginger

S’mores filling:
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 graham crackers, chopped
½ cup marshmallow creme

Place flours, sugar, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk together.  In a small bowl, beat the egg and milk and set aside.  Add the pieces of butter into the flour mixture with the paddle attachment of the mixer to make a mixture of coarse crumble.  Add the egg mixture and beat with the paddle attachment until the dough comes together.

This is what I did for the 3 ½ -inch circle-shaped tart maker, and if you don’t have a special gadget, just use a traditional biscuit cutter or really anything circle-shape (like a mason jar lid) and use it to trace circle shapes from the dough.  If you want the traditional rectangle shape for the pop tarts, the King Arthur site has directions for that.  Divide the dough in half and roll each half into an 8-inch circle.   You can either place them in the fridge or continue rolling them out.  If you do choose to chill the dough, let the dough come to room temperature before working with it (takes about 25 minutes).  Lightly flour a work surface, and roll each half of dough to a 1/8 inch thickness.  Use the cut and seal gadget to cut out 18 circles from the dough (to make 9 tarts).  Fill each tart with filling then seal shut, either using the gadget or pressing together the edges of dough by hand.  Beat the egg, then brush on the egg wash and cut a few vents into each tart.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, until the pastry has turned golden brown.

To make the rose hip and apple filling:
In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water.  Place fruit spread and cornstarch mixture in small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for two minutes. Let cool.  Peel and dice the apple, then squeeze the lemon juice from the lemon wedge over the apple pieces.  Place 1-2 tablespoons of the thickened fruit spread in each tart, then a tablespoon of the apple pieces. 

To make the brown sugar and spice filling:
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together with a fork.  Put 1-2 tablespoons in each tart.

To make the s’mores filling:
Mix the chocolate chips and graham cracker pieces in a bowl.  Place 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture in each tart and top with a tablespoon of the marshmallow crème.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Baked Pork Flower Dumplings with Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce

Sometimes, pork just wants to be elegant.  Don’t get me wrong, pork does enjoy being in the comforting, homey dishes like pulled pork and pork chops, or more often in our house, pork stir fry.  But every now and then, the mood strikes, and it has the desire to put on its frilly dress and head out to the gala.  So we let ground pork mingle with a juicy mixture of scallions, ginger, and Serrano, then wrapped them up in wonton wrappers and baked them into some fancy, flowery dumplings.  A lime and soy ginger sauce gives it a final adornment on its way to the ball.  These dumplings do a great job of being juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside, without any need to fry in oil.

8 ounces ground pork
4 scallions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon minced ginger root
1 teaspoon minced Serrano pepper
3 tablespoons chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 ½ teaspoon lime juice
20 wonton wrappers

Soy Ginger Sauce:
¼ cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon minced ginger root
½ Serrano pepper, sliced

Heat oven to 375.  Grease two muffin tins, as these make about 20 dumplings.  In a medium-sized bowl, mix the ground pork, scallions, garlic, ginger, and Serrano pepper with a fork.  In a small bowl, whisk chicken broth, soy sauce, sesame oil, canola oil, and lime juice.  Pour the liquid mixture over the ground pork mixture and mix together with a fork.  Cup a wonton wrapper in your hand, then scoop about a tablespoon of the pork mixture, and place it in the middle of the wrapper.  Bring up the sides of the wrapper and sort of twist them together, then place in the cup of a muffin tin.  Repeat until all cups are filled.  Bake about 15 minutes, until you see a nice golden exterior.  While the cups bake, mix together the dipping sauce by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Kale Chips with Parmesan Cheese and Garlic

Oh, kale.  Kale is such a vain vegetable.  It loves nothing more than jumping into the oven to get all crispy and chip-like.  Kale likes partaking in this act because it turns kale into a beloved food.  Once kale emerges from the oven all crisped up and full of flavorings, even all those people who say they don’t like kale end up liking it.  And kale just wants to be liked.  

1 bunch curly kale
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat for easy cleanup.  Chop the leaves of the kale into medium-sized pieces.  Wash and dry thoroughly, then place in a large bowl for mixing.  In a small bowl, whisk Parmesan cheese, kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic.  In another small bowl, mix the lemon juice and olive oil.  Drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil mixture over the kale in the large bowl.  Use tongs to help coat all the pieces.  Then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese mixture, and use tongs to help coat the pieces with the mixture.  Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes.  You want the pieces to be brown and crispy, but not burnt.  I sometimes remove pieces as they become the desired crispness and let some of the less crispy ones stay in the oven longer.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Smooth and Creamy Carrot Dip with Tahini

The carrots in this house are staging an uprising.  They feel they never get to be the star of the show.  I guess they do have a point (as evidenced by the roasted radish and carrot dish and vegetable dip).  So we are giving into their demands for the royal treatment….their very own dip!  We love how the sweetness of the carrots works with the creamy nuttiness of this tahini dip.  

3 bunches baby carrots, peeled
½ cup tahini + 1 tablespoon
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 ½ teaspoons rice vinegar
2 ½ teaspoons Sambal Oelek chile paste
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped chives, for garnish

My tahini was pretty separated, with the liquid on top and the paste on the bottom.  I stirred it up as much as I could, but it was still mildly runny, which was actually a good thing, as it made combining the ingredients easier.  After mixing the tahini, add the tahini, soy sauce, sesame oil, canola oil, honey, rice vinegar, sambal oelek, and lemon juice into a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Stir all the ingredients together.  If your dip is too thick, try adding some a little canola oil to thin it out.  Place in serving bowl, and add chopped chives on top for garnish.  Serve with the peeled baby carrots.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hibiscus Iced Tea

Ice water is generally the drink of choice in our family.  However, sometimes we like to get a little crazy and gussy up our drink glasses.  Those glasses always feel fancy when they sport this pretty red beverage.  Ordinary iced tea just doesn't cut it with our picky glasses though.  Oh no.  They only feel spiffy when showing off iced tea like this, which gets a bit of tartness and beautiful color from the hibiscus leaves, and sweetness from the combination of honey, sugar, and freshly squeezed orange juice.

8 cups water
¾ cup dried hibiscus leaves
10 regular-size tea bags
2 inch peel of orange
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
orange slices, for serving

Bring the 8 cups of water to a boil.  Take off heat and add the hibiscus leaves, tea bags, and orange peel.  Cover and let sit for 10 minutes.  Strain out the hibiscus leaves, tea bags and orange peel.  Stir in honey, sugar, and fresh orange juice.  Chill and serve with orange slices.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rice Krispies Treats with Dulce de Leche and Chocolate Drizzle

Yep, we are posting Rice Krispies treats again!  We are seriously addicted to these goodies.  So crispy and gooey and sweet, with a bit of saltiness thrown in there…how does one not love these?  In this particular recipe, the dulce de leche, a type of creamy caramel, adds a rich sweetness that makes these bad boys even yummier.  And like most caramel, it pairs really well with a bit of chocolate.

½ cup unsalted butter
16 ounce bag marshmallows
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
11 ½ cups crisped rice cereal
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons heavy cream

I like using David Leibovitz’s method of making dulce de leche.  He suggests pouring a can of sweetened condensed milk in a pie pan, sprinkling a bit of sea salt, covering with aluminum foil, then placing in a larger baking dish filled halfway with water and baking at 425 for about an hour, hour and fifteen minutes.  Stir the mixture occassionally while it bakes, and add more water if it evaporates during the process.  You want the mixture to have a nice brown color.  But feel free to use whatever method works for you.

Grease a 9x13 pan, or line with parchment paper.  Melt butter over medium-low heat in large pot.  Add the marshmallows and stir until they have melted.  Mix in salt and vanilla extract and take off heat.  Stir rice cereal into the melted marshmallow mixture and then press into prepared pan.  Let cool.  Using a double boiler or microwave, carefully melt the chocolate chips with the heavy cream.  Stir the mixture until the chocolate chips have all melted.  Take off heat and brush onto the rice krispies.  Drizzle the dulce de leche over the layer of chocolate.  If feeling really indulgent, we will press half of the rice krispie mixture into the pan, then pile on a layer of chocolate and a layer of dulce de leche, then put the remaining rice krispie mixture into the pan.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A “Whale” of a Grilled Cheese, with Roasted Broccoli, Garlic and Caramelized Onions

This weekend, our town, Dana Point, is hosting its annual Festival of Whales!  We celebrate with cheesy things like a town parade featuring a giant whale balloon, a sprawling block party, and all kinds of whale and marine themed activities in the harbor.  It’s actually a lot of fun, and one of the reasons we really dig living in Dana Point.  So we figured we’d run with the whole cheesiness theme, and whale theme, by making whale-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches!  Or, to be more accurate, vaguely-whale shaped grilled cheese sandwiches (That little broccoli floret is supposed to be an eye)…Of course, since we like to experiment when we cook, we added things like roasted broccoli and garlic as well as caramelized onions.  We also like to get both nice creamy cheeses like Jack in there along with sharp cheeses like extra-sharp cheddar and parmesan.  I have to say, it’s one of the best grilled cheeses I’ve ever had.  And I’ve had a lot…

Extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cut into slices
Monterey Jack cheese, cut into slices
Grated Parmesan cheese
Sourdough bread slices
Whale-shaped cookie cutter

Roasted Broccoli:
1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets
olive oil, for drizzling
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 lemon wedge
balsamic vinegar, for drizzling

Roasted Garlic:
1 garlic bulb
1 tablespoon olive oil

Caramelized Onions:
2 onions, peeled, halved, then sliced

To roast the broccoli: Heat oven to 425.  Place florets on baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle red pepper flakes, salt, and freshly ground black pepper over pieces.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over pieces.  Roast for about 25 minutes, until pieces are soft and have that delicious browning on them.  Remove from oven and drizzle fresh lemon juice and balsamic vinegar.  Set aside.

To roast the garlic:  Heat oven to 400.  Take off the papery outer skin of the garlic bulb.  Don’t remove all the skin, just the stuff that comes off easily.  The head of garlic should still remain intact.  Slice off the pointy end of the bulb to expose all the cloves.  Place in a small greased ramekin and cover with the olive oil.  Sprinkle just a pinch of salt and cover with aluminum foil.  Place in oven and roast for about 45 minutes.  The cloves of garlic will be all nice and soft.

To caramelize the onions:  Place a tablespoon of olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the onion slices.  Don’t stir too often yet.  Let the pieces brown, without getting burnt.  After about 15 minutes or so, once slices have mostly browned, I like to turn the heat down to low or medium low.  Stir frequently.  I like adding a bit of water or oil every so often to keep the pieces from burning or sticking too much.  After about 40 minutes or so, the onions should have a dark brown, jam-like quality.

To assemble the sandwiches:  Place slices of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses on slice of bread.  Place pieces of roasted broccoli on top, followed by some caramelized onions.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.  Spread clove or two of roasted garlic on the top piece of bread.  Butter both sides of the sandwich and place on greased griddle.  Once one side has turned golden brown, flip and let the other side develop a golden brown color.   Once the sandwich has cooled a bit, use the cookie cutter to cut out the whale-shape.

We'd also like to take the opportunity to acknowledge our three fellow bloggers who were nice enough to give us our first blogger-to-blogger awards!  Averil, from The Cook, The Baker and the Clay Boy Maker, and Dara Reppucci, from Generation Y Foodie, both recently awarded us the Versatile Blogger Award; while Greg, from Crostini and Chianti, awarded us the Liebster Award.

Averil's site, The Cook, The Baker and the Clay Boy Maker, is a wonderful new blog sharing great recipes and stories filled with humor and heart.  We are drooling over her O is for Oodles of Sesame Noodles and Whiskey Hoisin Meatballs.

Dara's site, Gen Y Foodie, has actually been one of our favorites for awhile now.  She cooks adventurous, varied, mouth-watering, and healthy dishes, always paired with fantastic photos and entertaining writing!  We'd love to make just about everything she posts, but her Shepherd's Pie with Horseradish Cheddar Mashed Potatoes has been particularly on our minds lately.

Greg's blog Crostini and Chianti is a great food blog that mostly focuses on Italian food, with occasional forays into other cuisines.  His recipes are varied and interesting, and if you haven't seen it, I'd recommend hopping on over.  I really like his Irish Dinner Party post from earlier in the year.  The mashed potato cakes look so cool!

It means so much to us to see support like this from our fellow food bloggers.  You guys are awesome, and we look forward to being a part of the community for many years to come!  Can't wait to see your next recipes!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Creamy Egg Marinara Breakfast Dip

We know what you are thinking.  Breakfast dip?  What is this?  And who wants to dip things in the morning?  Well, we prefer the term breakfast dip over “eggs baked in tomato sauce,” and let’s face it, dipping is a super fun activity.  Don’t we all love dipping our fries, chips, crackers, vegetables, fruits, etc. into various concoctions?  And isn’t the appeal the actual act of dipping?  We believe so, and we believe wholeheartedly that dipping needs to be brought to the morning. 

The sauce recipe is adapted from Marcella Hazan’s fabulous recipe for tomato sauce with onion and butter.  We threw a bit of fresh herbs in to give it a woodsy element, and some crushed red pepper for heat.  We liked the way the sauce works with the creaminess of the freshly punctured eggs.

Tomato Sauce:
28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
5 tablespoons butter
1 small sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

7 eggs
2 cups arugula
2 garlic cloves, sliced
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped basil

Baguette Dippers:
1 baguette, sliced
¼ cup olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

To make the tomato sauce: Place tomatoes, butter, onion, rosemary, thyme, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue simmering for 45 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Remove from heat and take out the onion, and sprigs of rosemary and thyme.  Seth doesn’t like chunks of tomato, so we use an immersion blender to puree the sauce.  Add crushed red pepper if desired.  I like doing this step the night before and refrigerating the sauce until I need it the next day.

To prepare the dip: Heat oven to 350.  In a baking dish, layer the arugula and place the slices of garlic over the arugula.  Put half the sauce over that.  Break the eggs into the sauce.  Cover with remaining sauce.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake for about 24 minutes.  The whites should be set, and the yolk should still be runny.  When done, scatter the basil on top.  We like to break the eggs as soon as the dip comes out of the oven to ensure they remain runny, and we mix it all together.

Baguette dippers:
Brush the olive oil on baguette slices.  Sprinkle the salt, freshly ground black pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
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