Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cornbread with figs and feta

The November 2011 issue of Food & Wine Magazine had an interesting looking recipe for cornbread that was all decked out with figs, feta cheese, and rosemary.  Plus, it was baked in a skillet.  Although I usually make my cornbread in a cast iron skillet, this recipe called for a pan size that I don't own, so I used an 8x8 glass baking dish instead, and baked it for 25 minutes instead of the 20 called for.  Check it out and decide for yourself how you want to bake it!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Our favorite hummus

Hummus can be dressed up with all kinds of additions, but if you want a plain old good hummus, try this:


2 cloves of garlic
15 oz can of garbanzo beans, liquid drained and reserved
1/3 c tahini
2 t sesame oil
1 T olive oil
2 t lemon juice
1/4 c toasted sesame seeds

In a food processor, whirl the garlic until minced.  Add the garbanzo beans through the olive oil and process until pureed well.  Add some of the reserved liquid if needed.  Scrape into a bowl and add salt and lemon juice to taste.  Stir in sesame seeds.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Brussels sprouts with Gouda sauce

The smokey quality of Gouda cheese stands in well for bacon.  Of course, you could still add bacon if you really wanted to, but this sauce stands well on its own!

A mornay sauce is nothing more than a classic white sauce (aka bechamel sauce) with cheese added. 

Brussels Sprouts with Gouda Sauce

1 lb Brussels sprouts

Mornay Sauce:
2 T butter
2 T flour
1 c milk
2 oz grated Gouda cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.  Steam or parboil the sprouts on top of the stove until just barely soft.  Drain and place into an oven-safe dish. 

Prepare a white sauce (bechamel sauce) with the butter, flour, and milk.  Stir in grated Gouda cheese, reserving just a bit to sprinkle over the top later.

Pour the sauce over the sprouts and stir to coat.  Bake uncovered until hot and bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Top with a bit of leftover cheese and brown under the broiler just before serving.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Making an excellent gravy

There are lots of shortcuts to making turkey gravy, but there's really no excuse for any of them ;-)  Gravy does take some time.  So does brining your bird.  Both are infinitely worth it!

Make turkey stock
This can be done the day before the big event, when you prep your bird for brining.  Remove the neck and giblets, add them to a large saucepan along with a carrot, a celery stalk, and 1/2 an onion.  Also add about a dozen black peppercorns and a bundle of rosemary, thyme, and a bay leaf.  Add about 2 quarts of water and bring it to a boil; reduce and simmer for at least an hour.  Strain out the solids and make sure you have about a quart of liquid. 

What about the giblets?
Well, we happen to like 'em coarsely chopped, but some people gag on them.  It's your choice whether to chop and add them back to the stock or not.  One of our friends (Bill from the Grill Team) puts his through a food processor because he likes the taste but not the texture.

Make a flour slurry
Another thing you can do ahead of time if you want.  Add a scant 1/2 c of flour to 1 c of cooled stock in a lidded jar.  Shake until very well-combined.  You'll have to reshake it just before adding to the gravy.

Deal with the drippings
Once the bird is done, remove it to a platter to firm up and pour all the drippings into a fat separator.  It usually takes from 5 to 10 minutes for the fat and other juices to separate, so in the meantime...

Deglaze the pan
Add either 1/2 c of water or white wine to the pan and bring it to a low boil across a couple of burners.  Scrape up all the lovely brown things with a wooden spoon.

Some assembly required
Add about 2 c of stock and the separated juices to the pan, leaving most of the fat behind.  Bring it to a boil and whisk in the slurry.  Cook, whisking steadily until it thickens.  Add as much additional stock as you need to make the gravy the consistency you like.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sesame-honey tempeh bowl

This concoction makes a great one-dish vegetarian meal.  When you first see a block of tempeh, if you've never actually eaten it before, you'll think it looks like horse food.  Well, grow up and don't eat with your eyes, as my mother would say!  This stuff takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it in, so make sure the sauce is to your liking! 

Sesame-Honey Tempeh Bowl

1 c quinoa
2 c water

2 c grated carrots
1 T sesame oil
1 T soy sauce
2 t rice vinegar
2 T toasted sesame seeds

Sesame oil
Canola oil
16 oz tempeh
3 T honey
2 T soysauce
3 T water
2 t cornstarch

Sliced scallions for garnish

Start the quinoa, bringing the water to a boil and adding the grain.  Return to a boil; reduce to a simmer; let cook for about 10 minutes.  Let it sit covered until the water is all absorbed and then remove the cover.

In a medium bowl, mix the grated carrots with the sesame oil through the toasted sesame seeds.  Set aside.

Break up the tempeh into bite-sized pieces.  In a large skillet, heat a couple T of sesame oil and begin to brown the tempeh.  Add a bit of canola oil if more is needed.  Mix the honey through the cornstarch in a small bowl and add to the pan, stirring quickly to thicken and coat the tempeh.

To serve, layer the quinoa, carrot slaw, and tempeh in bowls.  Top with scallions. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Five-grain oatmeal

I cooked this mixture in our rice steamer, and it was fantastic.  You can alter the grains to suit yourself, or make real steel cut oatmeal by following the simple instructions at the link. 

Five-Grain Oatmeal

1/3 c steel cut oats
1/3 c mixture of oat groats, millet, quinoa, and barley
2/3 c water
2/3 c milk or soy milk
Fruit, nuts, additional milk

Steam for 55 minutes.  Stir in fruit and nuts when finished and top with more milk.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lemon-macadamia nut cookies

Pretty and tasty.  Pretty tasty, even!  These cookies are soft and chewy, but you can bake them longer at 300 if you'd like them snappier.  I think they'd be a nice treat for Valentine's Day...hint hint!

Lemon-Macadamia Nut Cookies
(makes about 3 dozen)

2 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c butter, soft
4 oz cream cheese, soft
1 egg
2 t lemon extract
Zest from 1 lemon
1 1/2 c (7 to 8 oz) macadamia nuts, whole

Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 300.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour through the salt.  In a large bowl, mix together the sugars, and then beat in the butter and cream cheese until thoroughly combined.  Add the egg, lemon extract, and zest and beat until all ingredients are smoothly combined.  Add the flour mixture and the nuts.  Blend together with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Using a 1-1/2 inch scoop, dip out portions that are not completely rounded.  Drop onto cookie sheets, about 12 per sheet.  Flatten the balls and bake for about 20 minutes, turning the sheets half way through.  Remove immediately to a cooling rack.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bourbon sweet potatoes

Great to serve for an all-adult holiday dinner, or to use up leftover sweet potatoes.  The bourbon will NOT cook off, so please serve these responsibly!

Bourbon Sweet Potatoes

Pre-cooked sweet potatoes
Cream (any variety)
Brown sugar

Prepare sweet potatoes by pre-cooking in foil until soft.  Slip off the skins and place in a bowl.

For each sweet potato in the bowl, add a dollop of cream, a pat of butter, a T of bourbon, sugar, and molasses, a dash of salt and a sprinkling of nutmeg.  Mix together and serve hot.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chocolate wafers with ginger

Here's a real show-off treat for you to serve, which can be found on the Food & Wine site.  I decided that they were a bit too labor-intensive to be added to our regular holiday line-up, but they sure are impressive looking when they're all stacked up on a plate.  I preferred to use a small metal spatula to spread the chocolate on one side of the wafers, cool them in the fridge, and then flip them over to do the other side, to which I added the ginger and other treats.

If I make them again, I will line them up on a sheet of parchment and do them more like the Matzo Toffee, minus the toffee part.  Both sides of the wafers really don't have to be coated with chocolate, although like I said before, they are pretty impressive!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Shrimp, cod, and fennel soup

Another delicious soup recipe from Martha Stewart magazine: Shrimp, Cod, and Fennel Soup with Tomatoes.  If you're really in a hurry, you could substitute canned tomatoes for the fresh ones, but it really doesn't take much time to blanch and chop.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lemon-garlic chicken

I used panko breadcrumbs for this dish, but you can use plain breadcrumbs instead if you'd like.  Darker breadcrumbs will give you a more satisfyingly brown color to your chicken!

Lemon-Garlic Chicken

1/2 c breadcrumbs (panko or regular)
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 c lemon juice
1 T olive oil
4 large chicken breast halves, skinned
Lemon wedges

Mix the breadcrumbs through the salt in a plastic bag.  Combine the lemon juice and the olive oil, and brush it on the chicken.  Shake the chicken pieces in the breadcrumb mixture and place in a baking dish that has been treated with cooking spray.  If there are any leftover crumbs, shake them onto chicken.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes at 375, or until done.  Serve with lemon wedges.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Rosemary roasted sweet potatoes

It's still roasted vegetable season...yay!!  One of our favorites is this recipe for Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes , especially when we can use our own home grown rosemary!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Braised chicken in a skillet with potatoes, olives, and lemon

One of the fall issues of Martha Stewart magazine had this fabulous and easy recipe for Braised Chicken.  The cooking liquid becomes a great sauce to top it all off!