Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chocolate Coconut Mousse with Mango Topping

Sooo we didn't have the best pictures to work with today, but what can I say? Sometimes, the forces conspire as such, and the show must go on.  I don’t know about you, but I get really specific cravings for things.  Take chocolate.  I will get very specific about what form of chocolate I need at the moment – maybe I will really, really need a brownie, maybe it will be a candy bar form, maybe I will desperately crave a chocolate chip cookie.  And maybe it will be ice cream.  This past Saturday, I soooooo desperately wanted chocolate ice cream.  Plus, Seth had to go into work, so having ice cream ready for him when he got home seemed like the fun thing to do.  And, you know, I really wanted it.  I was all ready to make some.  Or so I thought.  Here is where the story takes a very sad turn.  I looked in the freezer to take out the bowl of the ice cream maker…. and it wasn’t there.  I somehow forgot to put it back in after making ice cream previously.  It would take about 8 hours until I could actually make the ice cream.  So, I decided that my craving could cover any form of chocolate that could be eaten with a spoon.  And I made chocolate mousse.  With a fruity topping, because I had been picturing eating an ice cream sundae.  And mangoes were pretty much all I had around.  Long story short, it definitely took care of the craving, and was pretty darn good too!  The mousse recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman’s chocolate mousse recipe in How to Cook Everything.

For the mousse:
5 ounces good quality dark chocolate (I used a 70%), chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
13.5 ounce can coconut milk, chilled
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 egg whites
pinch salt

For the topping:
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
2 mangoes, diced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon lime zest
¼ teaspoon ground Szechuan peppercorns
pinch cinnamon
pinch cayenne

In a microwave-safe bowl and in 30-second increments, carefully melt the chocolate with the butter in the microwave.  After each 30-second interval, stir.  Stir in egg yolks. Chill.

Place the chilled coconut milk in the bowl of a stand mixer with 2 tablespoons sugar.  Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. This actually takes awhile, just be patient.  Set the whipped coconut milk aside, and clean the mixer bowl and beater (unless you are super lucky and have two of each of these!). 

Whip egg whites with pinch salt and 2 tablespoons sugar until they hold stiff peaks.  Fold a bit of the egg whites into the chilled chocolate to lighten it.  Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites.  Then fold the coconut cream into the mixture.  Chill. 

Place all the topping ingredients into a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until everything comes together, about 5 minutes.  Chill.  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cucumber, Bacon, Strawberry Mini Sandwiches with Fresh Pea Spread and Sriracha Whipped Cream

Originally, these started out as a crostini with three toppings – the pea spread, a cucumber slice, and a slice of strawberry.  Well, it was okay, but not very interesting… at all.  So then we decided that something salty and savory was needed, like bacon.  Because bacon! So smoky and crisp, how can that not add something fun to the mix?  To be honest, I think strawberry and bacon are actually pretty magical together.  Then we asked the very normal question – what does Sriracha whipped cream taste like?  We determined that the answer was good, and interesting!  So we added that to the crostini.  Then we were left with a flavorful, but unwieldy appetizer.  We solved that problem by slapping another slice of baguette on top and calling it a sandwich, but mini-size!  You can, of course, make these as regular size sandwiches, but where is the fun in that?  They’re so cute and bite size, what is not to love?  Even the word mini is super fun to say!  Mini!

1 baguette, sliced
1 hothouse cucumber, sliced
4 strawberries, sliced
Pea spread
Sriracha cream
5 pieces bacon

½ cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons Sriracha hot sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Pea spread:
12 ounces peas, cooked according to package directions
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

For the pea spread:  Place the cooked peas in a bowl and toss with butter and olive oil.  Once the butter has melted, add lemon juice, chopped mint, and parsley.  Puree in a food processor or with an immersion blender.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste. 

For the Sriracha cream:  Place whipping cream, Sriracha, and lemon juice in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip on medium-high until the mixture holds soft peaks. 

For the bacon:  Fry up bacon slices on a griddle over medium heat.  Once both sides have crisped, remove from griddle and place on a paper towel.

To assemble, spread the pea spread on a baguette slice.  Top with cucumber, strawberry, bacon, and Sriracha cream.  Finish with another baguette slice.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Grilled Avocados with Shrimp Salad

Today is another exciting day for us - we are guest posting over at Gen Y Foodie!  We absolutely love Dara’s blog, everything is so healthy, fresh, and delicious – and accompanied by gorgeous photos!  Like her Thai marinated skirt steak – YUM!  And her asparagus potato salad? We didn’t even think we liked potato salad but this sounds absolutely fantastic!  If it weren't for her, we wouldn't even know about the amazingness that is homemade cheez-its! So we totally thank her (blame her?) for our addiction to these cheesy, salty snacks!  We also have Dara to thank for introducing us to flax seeds - I now try to sneak them in as many things as possible.  You definitely have to stop by her blog and see all of her yummy things - like her breakfast pizza (how awesome is that??), her baked coconut chicken fingers with pineapple sauce, and her homemade pitas with garlic scape hummus.  Doesn't everything just sound so delicious?  Now hop on over to her blog to check out our recipe for spicy shrimp salad in grilled avocados!

Monday, June 18, 2012

"Be Quiet" Baby Fudge

In the book One Hungry Monster, the protagonist is plagued by…well…hungry monsters.  To ward them off, he gives them 10 jars of peanut butter.  He gives it without jam, because he wants “every monster mouth shut tighter than a clam.”  We apply the same principle to our own little monster, Max.  These chewy energy bites are perfect for those super whiny times.  Like when you and your best friend from college live on opposite sides of the country and have been playing phone tag for months.  And just when you finally get a hold of each other, he starts getting upset for some ridiculously minor reason.  Bingo.  "Be quiet" baby fudge to the rescue.  It does double quiet duty actually – not only when he eats it, but also when he helps make it, carefully dumping each ingredient into the bowl with little toddler concentration-face… until he gets too grabby with the chocolate chips.

1 cup old fashioned whole wheat oatmeal
½ cup natural peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup ground almonds
¼ cup ground flax seeds
½ cup chocolate chips
pinch salt
pinch ground cinnamon
pinch ground cardamom

Place all the ingredients into a large bowl.  Use your hands to mix everything all together.  Feel free to use a wooden spoon, but I think it gets mixed up better when done by hand.  I like to mush the “dough” into a square Tupperware container.  Refrigerate for at least an hour, then cut into square bites.  Store in the fridge.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Spicy Shrimp Scampi Pasta

This dish came together by complete freak accident.  Seth’s mother was visiting, and we had bought and marinated a bunch of shrimp for grilling.  Unfortunately, when it came time to grill, the weather looked mean and scary, so we turned to the stove and quickly improvised a shrimp scampi pasta from what we had on hand.  Well, short story, it was amazing, the best shrimp scampi we’d ever had, and we’ve been struggling to recreate it ever since.  After weeks of testing, failed attempts, and altering, we finally got it back!  Something about this dish makes me picture a rustic, beachside, seafood bistro in New England.  You get a bowl brimming with pasta and shrimp, filled with the spicy, garlicky, lemony flavors.  You pour two glasses of wine, maybe light some candles, you go to your table, and you talk with your significant other.  Or you first stuff your face with dinner and then talk.  But it is definitely a dinner that involves some romance.  The shrimp marinade itself was adapted from Cook’s Illustrated (August 2011 Summer Grilling Issue).

For the shrimp:
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup chopped parsley
6 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound large shrimp

For the sauce:
1 stick unsalted butter (yes, 8 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons parsley
1 shallot, minced
7 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup fresh arugula
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 ounces linguine
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup chopped parsley

In a medium bowl, whisk lemon juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest, parsley, garlic, salt, and red pepper. Add the shrimp and toss with the marinade.  Place in the fridge to marinate for 15 minutes.  Cook the marinated shrimp on a buttered griddle over medium-high heat, be sure to brown each side (about 3-4 minutes per side). Set aside.

Bring a large pot of boiling salted water to boil and cook linguine according to package directions.  In a large sauté pan, melt butter, lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and the parsley together over medium low heat.  Add minced shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Sauté until shallot is soft.  Add the white wine and lemon juice.  Increase heat and reduce just a bit. Add the arugula.  Use tongs to coat and wilt the arugula.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.  Toss with the cooked shrimp.  To serve, place pasta on individual plates.  Drizzle olive oil and about 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley over each plate of noodles.  Then spoon some shrimp and sauce over the herbed noodles.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Thinly Sliced Beef Yakitori

Plunging a stick in food was a genius idea – I sincerely wish we could thank the person who originally thought of doing that.  Think about hard candy.  If someone was like ohh, here have some candy and they handed you hard candy you would be like um thanks? But get a stick in that hard candy and it becomes fun!  You would totally be happy if someone gave you a lollipop.  Take a corn dog...  If possible, Seth would probably divorce me and marry the person who came up with that.  Take the stick out of the cornbread encrusted hotdog, and he would be like ehhh, ok.  But once that stick is there it is all like, ohh my god must have it.  Here, we take fresh beef flap meat, marinate it in a homemade teriyaki sauce, skewer it, then grill it over high heat, brushing it with a thickened version of the marinade.  Like eating a popsicle, but all meaty and umami.  And you know, grilled.  And not frozen.  Actually the opposite.  

2/3 cup mirin
1 cup soy sauce
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup brown sugar
7 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
1 inch strip of orange peel
1 pound flap steak, thinly sliced across the grain
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
10-15 bamboo or wooden skewers
5 tablespoons canola oil (for grilling)
rice, for serving

Place the mirin in a medium pot and boil over high heat.  Reduce to medium low and add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and orange peel.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Place half of sauce in a Ziploc bag or container and refrigerate until cool. 

Take thinly sliced beef flap steak and cut into 1½-2 inch strips for skewering.  Submerge in cooled marinade and refrigerate for at least another hour.  Take bamboo or wooden  skewers and soak in cool water for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with water.  Bring the remaining sauce to a boil and thicken with the cornstarch mixture, constantly stirring.  Let the sauce cook for 5 more minutes, tasting to make sure the cornstarch has fully dissolved.  Once ready, pour into small bowl and set aside.
Preheat grill to high (roughly 400°).  Just before grilling, take marinated beef and skewer so that the meat can lie flat.  Place canola oil in a small bowl.  Using a paper towel or cloth, dip in canola oil and rub over hot grates to prevent sticking.  Lay beef skewers over heat and stay nearby to monitor.  Once bottom is a little charred, brush the tops with canola oil, and flip.  Brush again with thickened teriyaki sauce.  Once the bottoms are slightly charred again, be careful not to overcook, flip and brush with thickened teriyaki sauce, so both sides are sauced.  Remove and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.  Serve with rice.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Grilled Artichokes with Lime Aioli & Cotija Cheese

Today we were lucky enough to guest post on one of our favorite blogs, Lazaro Cooks!  We are super excited about it, because Lazaro is a truly fantastic and innovative food blogger.  His site, his cooking style, plating, and presentation are all top notch, and we agree with much of his perspective on cooking and food blogging in general.  We're honored to be included as guest contributors.  Here is a snippet from our post.  For the full post and recipe, head on over to our post on Lazaro Cooks

"We thought we would go ahead and celebrate one of our local, seasonal favorites by sharing this new recipe for Mexican-style grilled artichokes.  This recipe combines three things that we absolutely love – grilling (I mean, how can you resist that siren song of smoke, charcoal, fire, and cast iron grates), artichokes (we have a doormat decorated with artichokes and an artichoke-shaped candle, just to give you an idea of the depths of our love for this vegetable), and dipping (we are obsessed with foods that involve dipping; it’s such an active, communal way to eat)."

FULL RECIPE and post

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Strawberry Lime Basil Sherbet

August 25, 2010 was a very special day in our lives.  Very special.  I remember everything so clearly.  The blue skies, birds chirping, bright sun shining its rays down on us… the knock on the door by the delivery guy.  I will never forget that day – the day that our ice cream maker arrived at our doorstep.  I remember feeling excited – I would finally be able to make a dessert that Seth would love.  He never had much of a sweet tooth, except when it came to ice cream. And I felt powerful – the ability to make this sweet treat was now in my control – take that milk and cream!  Of course, once I realized I would have to wait a day to make ice cream, because the bowl of the ice cream maker has to be chilled, I was super disappointed.  Ever since its initiation by freezer, however, it has been one of the most beloved appliances in our kitchen.  I can’t even remember what life was like without it.   Our most recent concoction is this strawberry lime basil sherbet.  I wanted to take this fruit salad, whose flavors worked so well together, and make it into a cold ice cream treat.  It tastes fruity, yet unique, and is just perfect for summer.

½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1/2 cup chopped basil
1 quart strawberries, hulled and chopped
3 cups milk
3 -4 tablespoons lime juice
1 ½ teaspoon lime zest

To make the basil syrup: Place sugar, water, and basil in small pot.  Gently boil until the sugar has dissolved, about 8 minutes.  Take off heat and strain out the basil.  Chill. 

To make the sherbet: Use a blender (I used my trusty immersion blender) to puree the strawberries, milk, basil syrup, lime juice, and lime zest together.  Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.  I find that this doesn’t freeze particularly well, so if you do freeze it, you may want to take out the sherbet 20 minutes before you serve.
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