Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Miso dressing for salad

A liquid form of miso can be mixed with lots of different ingredients to make a great salad dressing.  Here's one of our favorites:

Miso Dressing

3 T miso
3 T rice vinegar
1 T brown sugar
2 t sesame oil
Juice and zest of an orange
1/4 c canola oil
Minced scallion

Shake it together in a jar or use an immersion blender in a glass measuring cup.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Salmon simmered in green tea

Sound a little strange?  Let me tell you, it's absolutely delicious.  This is a combo that I probably would never have thought of on my own, so I give all the credit to Hannaford's Fresh magazine.  Green tea, ginger, and tangerine zest as a broth for simmering...brilliant!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Antique cooking gadgets: masher

There's nothing like a bright red bakelite handle to brighten up a masher.  I needed another masher like I needed a hole in the head, but hey...the handle matches my kitchen walls ;-)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Deconstructed lasagna

There was a fun recipe for a No-bake Lasagna in the May issue of Martha Stewart's magazine.  Although I changed it up slightly to account for local availability, I really did stick with the basics of her dish.  Since it was warm out the other day, it was nice to just be able to quickly boil up the noodles and not to have the oven on for an hour!  You could add any other lasagna ingredients that you wanted to, including meat sauce, but we kept it vegetarian.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Polenta...a great spring dish

We had one of our favorite varieties of polenta recently along with fresh fresh fresh asparagus.  Oh my!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fresh pea soup with lemon

As much as we love split pea soup, I've never before had a fresh pea soup that I really liked until this one.  This recipe is another hit from Fresh magazine.  It's a really pretty color, and makes such a nice early spring dinner.  Add cheesy bread and wine.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Antique cooking gadgets: meat pounder

I guess some folks also used these utensils as potato mashers, and I do use mine for making smashed potatoes, but I prefer a more traditional masher for potatoes otherwise.  This is one heavy and terrifically useful meat pounder though, guaranteed to get your cutlets thin thin thin!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tuna with a sweet cardamom glaze

Tuna makes such a great centerpiece for a meal.  We love to grill it on foil with some sort of glaze, and this simple mixture that we tried recently really was a hit.

Cardamom Glaze

2 parts honey
1 part orange juice
1/2 part ground cardamom

Stir together in a small glass measuring cup and use to baste the fish (or chicken) as it cooks.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spring herbs from our garden

How lovely to be able to walk out the door and snip a few sprigs of oregano, thyme, mint, basil, and rosemary!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Garlicky yellow rice

This rice is a fabulous accompaniment to all kinds of meals.  Here we had it with salmon and a fresh spinach salad.

Garlicky Yellow Rice

Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1-1/4 c rice (I used Arborio, but long grain is good too)
2-1/2 c stock and/or water
1 t tumeric
Salt and pepper

Saute onions and garlic for a few minutes.  Add rice and saute for two minutes.  Add water and spices.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and cook for 20 to 25 minutes.  Can also be done in a steamer, adjusting water as needed.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Antique cooking gadgets: coffee grinder

I have used this grinder successfully, but it grinds a bit too coarsely for my tastes, so now it's mostly decorative :-)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lentil soup with recaito

Recaito is a cilantro cooking base, easy enough to make but also easy enough to buy from Goya if you want to try it out before committing to a big batch.  I decided to try it out as a garnish for a soup recently, and I think it added just the right note.  Martha Stewart had a recipe for Yellow Lentil Soup with Cilantro Chutney that I wanted to try it in, and while I thought her version looked very tasty, I usually prefer to alter her recipes a bit.  You can check out hers at the link, and/or try mine.

Lentil Soup with Recaito

Canola oil
Onion, chopped
1 t coriander seeds, ground
2 t fresh ginger, grated
7 c vegetable stock
12 oz lentils, rinsed and picked over
1-2 T lime juice
Recaito for garnish

Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large saucepan and saute the onions, seeds, and ginger.  Add the stock and lentils.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer partly covered until lentils are soft, approximately 45 minutes.  Add lime juice and salt to taste.  Serve with a large dollop of recaito. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shrimp soup

You can load up or pare down this soup as much as you like.  We tend to like soups that border on being stews, so ours is usually pretty loaded!

Shrimp Soup

6-7 c vegetable stock
Star anise
2 t fresh ginger, grated
1/4 c soy sauce
Thai chili or a squirt of Thai chili sauce
Vegetables and herbs: carrots, radishes, celery, bok choy, chives, shitake mushrooms

Bring the stock to a boil and add the star anise through the Thai chili.  Lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.  In the meantime, microwave the thicker vegetables like carrots for a few minutes.  Add all the vegetables and herbs to the stock and simmer until barely tender.  Add the shrimp and do not overcook.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Chocolate pizza

I originally saw a recipe for chocolate pizza at Epicurious, and I was stunned.  Stunned and kind of mad that I hadn't thought of it first!  After making it and sharing it with my friends, I ended up altering the recipe a bit.  Still, credit where credit is due...I'd never have tried it if I hadn't seen it there first!

Chocolate Pizza

Thin crust pizza dough, 1/2 recipe
1/4 c Nutella hazelnut spread
1/2 c dark chocolate chips
1/4 c white chocolate chips
1/4 c hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

Roll dough out into thin round on parchment paper.  Slide it onto a pizza stone in a 400 oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until barely golden.  Remove from oven and spread with Nutella.  Sprinkle on dark chocolate chips and return to oven for a minute.  Remove again and spread out the dark chocolate.  Sprinkle with white chips and with toasted nuts.  Cut into wedges to serve.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Antique cooking gadgets: pastry blender

So long to my modern pastry blender.  Who could resist this bakelite handled beauty?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Irish soda bread

Many people that I talk to claim that they don't like Irish soda bread.  I'm supposing that's because they haven't tried mine yet ;-) 

OK, seriously, one of the biggest mistakes that I think many American bakers make with soda bread is adding an egg to the mix.  99% of the Irish recipes I've seen don't use any eggs.  So why do we add them?  Because we think that an egg will make the bread moister and keep it from being crumbly. 

Uh, news flash...Irish soda bread is supposed to be crumbly, but it's not supposed to be dry.  By adding an egg, you now have to bake it longer, so you've got more of a chance that it's going to end up dry anyway.  Just bake it until it's done but not overdone and you'll like it just fine.  Also, don't use bread forms more gluten, and you actually don't want this bread to do that.  It's supposed to be crumbly, remember?  :-) 

The options that I listed below are all variations that I've tried: the amount of sugar you use is up to your personal taste.  Take a little taste of the won't hurt you because there are no raw eggs in there!  As for baking powder plus milk vs baking soda plus buttermilk, the buttermilk will give you a slightly (but only very slightly) tangier bread.

Irish Soda Bread

3 c flour (1 c cake flour plus 2 c AP flour preferred)
1 T baking powder (or 1 1/2 t baking soda and 1 1/2 t cream of tartar, plus buttermilk instead of milk)
1/4 t salt
1/2 to 1 c sugar
2 T softened butter
1 c raisins or currants
1 T caraway seeds
1 c milk (or buttermilk if using baking soda)

Whisk the flour, leavening, salt and sugar together.  Work the butter in with your fingers until it's evenly distributed.  Stir in the raisins and caraway seeds, and add enough milk to make a thick dough.  Mix only enough to moisten all the flour.  Form into a big biscuit or into several smaller rounds and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Bake at 375, turning the pan partway through.  It takes approximately 35 minutes for 3 small rounds, approximately 45 to 50 minutes for one large round.  Test with a wooden skewer.   

Thin pizza dough

We like all different types of dough for our pizza, but our favorite is probably a thin crust.  The problem?  Some of them get soggy, and many are limp.  Yuck. 

So here's a recipe for a wonderful thin dough that has the best consistency I've ever experienced.  You can even toss this stuff if you know how.  Mostly I stick to rolling it out ;-)  I got the recipe from my friend Barbara, but I don't remember what she said the source was...if you recognize it, please let me know so I can give proper credit! 

I used a peel and a pizza stone to cook this one.  Sometimes we do it on the grill!

Thin Pizza Dough

2 1/4 t yeast
1 3/4 c flour plus extra if needed
3/4 c water, warm
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t olive oil

Stir together the yeast, 1 T of the flour, 1/4 c of the water, and let them stand for 5 minutes.  Stir together 1 1/4 c flour and the salt, and add the yeast mixture, oil, and 1/2 c water.  Knead.  Cover and let rise 1 hour.  Don't punch down; just sprinkle with flour and shape to a 14 inch circle.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mandelbrot - two of my favorite variations

Mandelbrot is the Jewish equivalent of biscotti, those terrific twice-baked cookies designed to dip into tea, coffee, milk, or even something stronger!

I have quite a few recipes for mandelbrot, but two of my favorites are variations on the same basic recipe.  Each uses 1 3/4 cups of dried fruit soaked in some sort of flavored liqueur.  Maybe you'd like to make up new versions?

Mandelbrot with Fruit

Version #1 - 1 3/4 c dried cherries soaked in 1/2 c amaretto
Version #2 - 1 3/4 c dried cranberries soaked in brandy

3 c flour plus more for kneading
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
4 T butter
1 c sugar plus extra for top
3 large eggs
2 t vanilla
3/4 c chopped almonds (or pistachios)

Heat the fruit and liquor together in a small saucepan until the fruit softens.  Drain, saving about 2 T of the liquid.

Preheat the oven to 325.  Whisk together the flour, powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in the eggs, one at a time.  Add the reserved liquid and the vanilla.  Stir in the flour mixture gradually, and stir in the fruit and nuts to just mix through.

The dough can be very sticky.  Use flour on your hands and the surface to form two logs, about 12" by 3".  Flatten them to 1/2 inch thick.  Sprinkle with sugar and bake on sheets lined with parchment paper for about 35 minutes.   Rotate sheets at the halfway point.  Cool on wire racks for about 20 minutes while you reduce the oven temperature to 300.

Cut each log slightly on the diagonal into about 16 pieces.  Lay the pieces on their sides the parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for about 8 minutes.  Flip the pieces and bake 8 minutes more.  Cool them on the racks until crisp.