Monday, December 21, 2015

Easy Lemon Shortbread (Simple Holiday Cookies)

Are you busy during the holidays? Silly question; of course you are! I am as well. If you’re like me you are expecting company for Christmas. If your life is at the moment eerily similar to mine, you’re also a brand new first time mom and the time crunch is--oh my word--really *real*, people! What to do if you like sweets, especially the homemade kind and want to have something baking when family arrives? You could try this easy recipe for divine homemade shortbread! It comes together with only a few ingredients and leaves the house smelling wonderful. It makes a lot of cookies, should you not be able to help yourself from grabbing just one more. As an added bonus, this is for me a seasonal recipe (December is citrus season in Northern California).

Easy Lemon Shortbread

Makes 2 dozen bars

Adapted from a recipe on

2 sticks of butter, softened
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon lemon extract
3/4 cup sugar + approx 1/2 Tablespoon as topping
Zest of 1 lemon

1. Cream together butter, sugar and lemon extract. Fold in lemon zest
2. Preheat oven to 300. Carefully fold in flour.
3. Gently press mixture into a 9 x 13” baking pan. Make sure to press the entire surface down evenly.
4. Prick all over with a fork and sprinkle evenly with sugar. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until the tops just begins to get golden.
5. Let stand for about 5 minutes to cool, then cut into bars. Do not lift the bars out of the baking dish until they have cooled completely.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ten Minute Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Ah, the decadence of the holidays. I adore holiday treats as much as the next sweets lover, but they tend to be so decadent (hello bourbon pumpkin cheesecake!) that I can’t rationalize eating them all the time. What’s a girl to do when she’s craving sweets in between all this holiday indulgence. Well, make herself some easy, er “healthy” cookies. Can cookies be called healthy? Well, of the two main ingredients, one is oatmeal--full of fiber and great with sweetener--and the other adds protein (peanut butter). I’m going to claim they’re healthy. At least healthier than your average holiday sweet. Another thing to love about these cookies is that they come together quickly, with few ingredients, and bake up even more quickly. I made mine tiny (one Tablespoon scoop) and baked up about 32 cookies. They turned out rather crunchy after they cooled. If you’d like a soften cookie I suggest making them a bit larger and gently pressing them down. Making them larger will yield between 18 and 24 cookies from this batter. If you don’t have a jumbo egg on hand add a Tablespoon of neutral oil to achieve the proper moisture. You may notice they crumble if you eat them straight out of the oven. To avoid having them dissolve into crumbles allow them to cool a bit before handling. If you can resist the smell of baked peanut butter, that is.

Ten Minute Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from a recipe from

Makes 18 - 32 (depending on size)

1 1/4 cups quick oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 jumbo egg
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 325. In a small bowl combine oats, raisins and baking soda.
2. In a larger mixing bowl mix sugar and peanut butter.
3. Add in dry ingredients, egg and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
4. Drop onto parchment lined cookie sheet in small balls. Gently flatten balls with a spatula.
5. Bake for 7 - 10 minutes, or until you can smell the peanut butter in the kitchen.
6. Allow to cool before handling and enjoy!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Grandma's Best Meatloaf

A phrase I hear over and over again in conjunction with meatloaf is “my grandma makes the best meatloaf!” Well, so does mine! Not to encroach on your grandma's meatloaf, mine makes hers with ground turkey and puts an Italian spin on it with dried Italian spices and grated parmesan cheese. The resulting meatloaf is very tender and so flavorful that it doesn't need gravy, or a ketchup glaze. Zesty herbs, nutty cheese and acidic tomato compliment the richness of fatty turkey and give the meatloaf a really great flavor.

What makes a good meatloaf? It has to be well seasoned, moist and not too dense. What makes a great meatloaf? A flavorful, consistent personality and a tenderness equal to the best authentic meatball you've had. This is a great meatloaf for all those reasons and more! Try it and you'll be hooked. Grandma promises. 

Grandma's Turkey Meatloaf

Makes one large loaf

2 lbs ground dark meat turkey*
1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 egg
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs**
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 Tablespoons milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Gently mix all ingredients together. Do not over mix or handle more than necessary, as this can make ground meat tough.
3. Pat into a large greased loaf pan. Bake in oven for 50 minutes.

Serve alongside some mashed potatoes or a salad.

*if you can't find dark meat, try to get the ground turkey with the highest fat content

**I had leftover sourdough baguette, so I made my own breadcrumbs using that. I highly recommend making your own fresh breadcrumbs.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Turkey Sloppy Joe’s

Hello again, dear readers! I'm sorry I've been away from the blog for so long. I was a bit busy having a baby! Because of this wonderful event, my life has recently been about family, family and more family. We first had my mom to visit (currently mom has gone back to the east coast and we have my husband's family here from down south) and one of the things I requested of her was to cook for us. My mom was largely responsible for developing my love of food. She made amazing vegetarian food when I was growing up and baked on a regular basis. She filled the house with the irresistible smell of freshly baked challah bread and bought local eggs and milk. I remember getting fresh milk in a narrow necked glass bottle and being able to see the layer of cream floating at the top. We really appreciated growing up eating all that marvelous food! When we first came home from the hospital, mom asked me what I wanted her to cook. Recalling her flavorful vegetarian version growing up, I immediately requested Sloppy Joe's. She now eats meat and was happy to adapt the recipe for ground turkey, a protein we settled on to keep the fat and cholesterol content low.

Sloppy Joe’s is a thoroughly American dish. Perfect for the cold it is filling and very comforting. Despite this it is actually fairly low in calories. Although this dish is endlessly customizable, there are a few elements it must have to be considered a proper Sloppy Joe's: ground meat, tomato sauce and it must be served over a toasted bun or slice of bread. I've made this recipe with Mexican spices, roasted corn and ground beef. More recently my mother and I developed this turkey version with loads of garlic and Italian herbs. Both are great. I know, I know: you're all about to be awfully sick of turkey. Trust me when I tell you this works equally well with ground beef. Each serving will cover one bun.

Turkey Sloppy Joe's

Makes 10 servings

2 lbs ground dark meat turkey
1/2 medium yellow onion, julienned
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (11 ounce) can chopped, fire roasted tomatoes
16 ounces marinara sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small pinch crushed red pepper
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive and onions and sauté until just beginning to caramelize (about 5 minutes).
2. Add garlic and cook for one additional minute.
3. Add turkey, salt, pepper, bay leaf, oregano and basil and cook until turkey is browned.
4. Add chopped tomatoes, marinara sauce, crushed pepper and 1/2 cup water to loosen tomatoes. Bring to a lazy boil and then turn heat down to low. Simmer for about 45 minutes to allow mix to thicken and flavors to marry.

Heap generously on toasted buns or bread and serve.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Beef and 3 Bean Chili: Husband Collaboration

I probably don't mention this enough, but my husband is my photographer. By which I mean he takes all of the photos for this blog. And he does a great job! He also cleans the lion's share of the dishes and is my official taste tester (every single plate photographed is implicitly promised to him, for his many contributions; I think that extra bit of motivation keeps him hungry and helps him to take photographs from the perspective of one who wants to eat what's on the plate).

Now he has an even larger job: cooking for the two of us. Or should I say three? Baby G will be coming along any week now; I'm just about 9 months along and I certainly feel ready to pop! Not only is it difficult to get around these days, my doctor put me on bed rest and I'm not supposed to be on my feet for more than 25 minutes per day. As you can imagine, this has made cooking impossible. This in turn makes blogging next to impossible as well. That is why I'm so pleased to be bringing you a new recipe, courtesy of my husband, who was my feet, hands, eyes, ears and tongue in the kitchen. A hearty, warming beef and bean stew with an irresistible flavor: beef and three bean chili.

Chili is such a basic dish, but it means something different in different places. A thoroughly American stew that nevertheless owes a debt of gratitude in its concept and flavor profile to Mexican food, chili is incredibly adaptable to different dietary choices (vegetarian/vegan; gluten free; paleo). It is also made entirely with beef (completely bean-less) in some parts of the country. Our version contains all of my favorite chili ingredients: beef, beans, Mexican spices, chilies and tomatoes. Feel free to tweak the recipe to your liking, but try it this way at least once, if you eat beef; it is the perfect blend of flavorful and zesty. Garnish with sharp cheese (I used extra sharp New York State cheddar), Yogurt or Sour Cream and serve alongside corn bread, corn tortillas or tortilla chips.

Beef & Three Bean Chili

Makes 10 -12 servings

1 1/2 lbs. ground chuck
1 (26 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (26 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (26 oz) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 (26 oz) can chopped tomatoes
6 ounces grape tomatoes, halved (optional)
2 dried chilies, seeds removed, chopped roughly
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 bay leaf
fresh pepper, to taste
sea salt, to taste
2 teaspoons caldo de res*
2 Tablespoons olive oil

1. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat and add olive oil, then onions. Saute onions until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
2. Add garlic, cumin, cayenne, paprika, ginger, bay leaf and a generous helping of fresh pepper. Cook for one minute.
3. Add ground chuck and break up into small pieces. Add salt, to taste. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until beef is browned and some fat has been rendered.
4. Add canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, dried chilies, beans, caldo de res or beef stock and up to 6 cups water.
5. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Taste for salt and add more, if needed. Simmer for about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. As the liquid reduces use a big serving spoon to gently mash the beans to help thicken the chili.
Fish out bay leaf and serve, garnished with cheese and sour cream and alongside a bread or starch (preferably corn based).

*Concentrated bouillon powder; this can be found in a Latin food market. If you are unable to obtain it substitute 2 of the 6 cups of water with beef stock

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Caramelized Pear Sauce with Vanilla

Ok, confession time: I don't love raw pears. I mean, I like them okay, particularly bosc, and especially when ripe enough to squish if you handle them too roughly. However, it is the start of pear season in my part of the world and one thing I do love is seasonal produce. Another thing I can easily get behind is spiced poached pears and roasted pears. In fact, vanilla and a touch of cinnamon have such a natural affinity for this fruit that I was thinking it might make a perfect gateway puree to condition my baby to eat the more off the wall combinations that will likely come out of my kitchen when he is older.
I just couldn't resist finishing the pears in the oven to caramelize the sugars. As our son has yet to make his appearance we will be taste testing all of his homemade baby food ourselves and if I had the energy to make it I would recommend serving it with pan seared lamb chops smothered with berry jam (I have some fabulous jam from a Tacoma farmer's market) and warm pearl barley with sliced button mushrooms. Yum. I'm making myself hungry. Too bad the third trimester has robbed me of energy and made getting around difficult, or I know what I'd be having for dinner tonight, even if the hubs isn't exactly sold on barley. I think this combination would make him a convert.

Caramelized Pear Sauce with Vanilla

Yield: 6 ounces (3 servings of baby food)

2 pears, halved with seeds and stems removed
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. In a medium saucepan combine vanilla paste, cinnamon, pears and water to cover (I used about 4 cups filtered water).
2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove pears from poaching liquid and turn the heat up under the poaching liquid to reduce it. This process should take 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Lay pears in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until you can smell the sugars caramelizing.
5. Remove baking tray from oven and allow pears to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
6. When pear are cool enough to handle, puree them in a blender or pass them through a food mill.
7. Add up to 1/4 cup of the reduced poaching liquid, passing it through a strainer.
Serve to baby or enjoy yourself.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Vegetable Egg Foo Yung

The dish I'm posting about is one of the most versatile recipes and is enjoyed by many cultures. The name for the Chinese version-- the only version known widely in America-- is derived from Cantonese and named for a mainland Chinese dish popularized in Shanghai. In America it typically includes the usual canned ingredients, such as sliced bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and what are here called straw mushrooms; in the traditional Chinese version it is more often made with fresh vegetables. In either case the vegetables and--if desired--meat are embedded in a fluffy egg omelette which is fried in oil. I'm exceptionally curious, so I'll put the question to my international friends: is the local version served topped with brown gravy in your country, as it is here?

Why am I cooking this up for the Joyous Kitchen? Several reasons, actually. For one, it is near and dear to my heart, having been the first dish I ever learned how to make on my own after leaving home to go to college. Another reason is to hopefully win some converts; despite its appearance on just about every Chinese food menu, I think the majority of Americans have yet to try it which is a shame. Not only is it practically endlessly customizable but the rich brown gravy is delicious and soul-satisfying. The main reason for including it here is that it fits in perfectly with the event I'm hosting at Foodies+ on Google+: a baby food and kid friendly recipe event during the month of October. Not only can this simple recipe be tailored to appeal to the pickiest of palates, it is also a fun and easy thing for the kids to help prepare, with lots of mixing to be done.

I am keeping my version of the dish simple and vegetarian to appeal to the picky eaters and the children going through vegetarian face. Some variations I suggest are: chopped roast pork with the strained, diluted roasting juices forming the base of the brown gravy, or sauteed shrimps with the vegetable stock version of the gravy I have laid out here.

Egg Foo Yung

Serves 2 adults and one child of small appetite.

5 eggs
1/3 cup bean sprouts
1/2 medium yellow onion, julienned
2 small carrots, washed and diced
2 ounces green cabbage, shredded
1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/4 cup shelled raw peas
soy sauce, to taste
Pepper to taste
Oil, for cooking ( up to 3 tablespoons)

1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 inch piece of ginger peeled and grated
1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock*
3 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Pepper, to taste

1. Parboil peas and carrots for 2 or so minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
2. Beat eggs in a bowl until fluffy and filled with air. Have the kiddo help with this step.
3. In 1 ½ Tablespoons oil, saute onions for 3 minutes or until starting to be translucent. Add cabbage, peas and carrots and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes. As each vegetable is added, also add a small dash of soy sauce.
4. Add bean sprouts and water chestnuts and a dash of soy sauce and then heap veggies into a pile in the center of the pan.
5. Turn the heat up slightly and pour eggs over the vegetable mixture, starting in the center and working your way out.** Try to saturate vegetables with egg mixture so it does not spread beyond veggies and thin out. You can have a child help with this step, as well. Add remaining oil in the space around your pile of vegetables
6. Cook egg mixture without flipping until it is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip (you may need to very carefully turn it out onto a plate to flip it successfully--there will be an excess of hot oil surrounding the omelette) and cook for another 5 minutes, or until both sides are golden brown.
7. Set egg and vegetable Patty aside. Cover to keep warm. In a small saucepan over medium heat add 1/2 Tablespoon cooking oil, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, garlic, ginger and pepper to taste and the sesame oil. Cook for 2 or so minutes, stirring frequently, until you begin to smell the flavors. Add all but 3 teaspoons of the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.
8. In a small dish whisk together remaining cold vegetable stock and cornstarch to form a slurry. Your little helper can also assist with this.
9. Add slurry to saucepan, whisking constantly, and reduce heat to low. Allow gravy to thicken slightly, about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve egg and vegetable patty, topped with gravy, or with the gravy along the side.

* or stock of choice

**for aesthetic reasons many chefs prefer to divide the veggies and egg batter into two equal portions to form two separate egg/veggie patties. This step is optional, but it does have its advantages in that two omelettes are less unwieldy than one.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sweet Potato Baby Food: A First Foray

The more I read about making baby food and the more I listen to the advice of mothers who have come before, I have been advised by multiple sources that baby food should be bland and smooth. Babies, many of my sources say, have very strong taste buds and will not appreciate any type of seasoning. Do not add any salt to their food and absolutely no sugar of any kind. In reading up on the subject I have learned it is advised to start your infant on solid foods no earlier than 4 months and no later than 6 months. At this early stage it is important to keep the food as simple as possible, as they will eat (or not eat) whatever you set in front of them. You can therefore expect them to enjoy such maligned foods as carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes and many other vegetables. What happens when they get older? How to entice them to continue to eat healthy with such bland presentations, particularly if they’ve inherited your foodie palate? Well, I have started to read a magical book about a stay at home foodie dad’s experience with cooking for an adventurous eater* and I have (hopefully) come up with a simple solution, at least in the case of sweet potatoes. If you’re planning to make this for an infant younger than 6 months, skip my seasoning. I your child is older than 8 months these ingredients, particularly in such small amounts, should be fine. If you decide your baby isn’t ready for seasoning, this makes a fabulous fall side, particularly for the holidays. I've used a food mill to make it smooth, which we received as a wedding gift from my awesome foodie boss.

Sweet Potato Puree with Brown Sugar and Cinnamon

Makes approximately 6 servings

2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Teaspoon maple syrup
¼ Teaspoon cinnamon
1 tiny pinch salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush skins with melted butter and place on baking tray.
2. Bake for 40 -45 minutes, until you can easily pierce with a fork at the thickest point.
3. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
4. When potatoes are cool enough to handle. peel potatoes and pass the flesh through a food mill. If you are making this for a baby under 6 months old, you are ready to serve.
5. To spice it up, add sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon to melted butter in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar has melted.
6. Mix sugar/syrup mixture into potato puree and stir until smooth. Add salt, a tiny bit at a time, to taste. Remember to salt it less than you would for your own tastes. It is now ready to serve.

*If you’re interested in checking it out, the book is called Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pesto Cream Cheese

Pesto. Cream Cheese. Earthy, spicy and sweet pesto in rich, tart cream cheese. Need I say more to sell you on this idea?

It's a great thing to serve while entertaining, or to bring to a party. Served alongside bagel chips, it is a flavorful spread to bring to brunches. With just three steps, it is incredibly easy to make Make it with fresh pesto and it will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

I prefer my summer pesto a little sweeter, so I make it with cashews in place of pine nuts, which lends the pesto a subtle rich sweetness that pairs especially well with cheese, particularly creamy cheese. If you don't like cashews or don't think you would go in for a slightly sweeter pesto, you can instead use toasted pine nuts. The pesto recipe I used makes extra and it is awesome over tortellini, ravioli, gnocchi or roasted potatoes.

Pesto Cream Cheese

Serving size: adjustable

For the pesto:

1 1/4 cups cleaned basil leaves
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped roughly
1/4 cup cashews, chopped roughly
salt, to taste

1. Make the pesto: combine all ingredients in blender and pulse for 1-2 seconds at a time until pesto achieves desired consistency (I go for a slightly rough paste, about 3 - 4 two second pulses).
2. Fold pesto into softened cream cheese on a 1:2 ratio (for example, 1/2 cup cream cheese to 1/4 cup pesto).
3. Cover and refrigerate for about one hour.
Serve with bagels, bagel chips, toasted pita or bread of choice.

Monday, September 7, 2015

"Italian" Burger with Tomato & Herb Concentrate

The inspiration for this post came from last week’s craving: I was really yearning for a fresh, basic tomato sauce before all the good summer tomatoes disappeared. It had to have just a few basic ingredients to be a great, simple sauce: tomatoes (roma), olive oil, garlic and fresh basil. It only needed a little fresh basil, so I was stuck with nearly an entire bunch of basil, wondering what to do with it. Pesto was the obvious answer, and while my recipe would use all of my remaining basil it would also make an abundance of pesto. More than enough for one pasta dish, even two. Within three days I would have to freeze it and before that I was trying to use it in as many dishes as possible. I enjoyed it with raviolis and smeared over plain cream cheese on a bagel (I may even post in the future about how to make pesto cream cheese at home; is there interest in such a recipe?). What else could I use it in? Well, I’d always loved pesto potatoes.
This weekend is a long weekend for Americans: Labor Day weekend, where most of us also get Monday off and for many a last official chance to grill. Of course I had to get in on the fun. Since I already had the pesto potatoes planned out as my starch I decided to let the flavors of Italy inspire my burger as well. Thus the "Italian" Burger was conceived. I flavored my burger with a zesty, herbed tomato sauce concentrate and topped it with fresh mozzarella and some grill roasted grape tomatoes. The result was a fabulously flavorful burger that was a great compliment to the pesto potatoes. Whether it's the last of the grill weather for you and you'll have to be making these in a pan indoors, or you live in a climate where you can grill this time of year, you have got to give these a try. I roasted about 4 - 5 grape tomatoes per burger on skewers by brushing them lightly with olive oil and seasoning with salt & pepper before grilling them over direct medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side.

"Italian" Burgers with Tomato & Herb Concentrate

Makes 6 patties

2 lbs ground chuck
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. Make the tomato sauce concentrate: in a small saucepan over the lowest heat, sweat garlic in olive oil for approximately 2 minutes to infuse the oil. When the smell of garlic fills up the house, add basil and oregano. Cook for another 2 minutes.
2. Add tomato paste, 1/2 cup of water and salt, to taste. Stir to thoroughly combine.
3. Reduce over the laziest simmer for about 15 minutes.
4. Remove concentrate from heat and allow to cool completely.
5. In a medium bowl, very gently mix together ground chuck and tomato sauce concentrate. As delicately as possible, form into 6 equal patties.
6. Brush grill with olive oil and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Flip and add sliced mozzarella. Cover the grill and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Serve on a toasted bun and topped with roasted tomatoes. Goes really well with pesto potatoes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Spinach, Cheddar & Garlic Mini Arancini (fried rice fritters)

This is my first leftovers post, and I'm pleased to say it is one solution to what to do with leftover rice. In my case I already had a side dish prepared of jasmine rice tossed with spinach sauteed in garlic. However, since I think this would make a great snack with any old leftover rice you have laying around, I'm going to share my method of cooking the spinach here. I used a lot of garlic and a lovely sharp cheddar, because cheddar and spinach were what I was craving. Back in NYC at a cute little bistro called Elephant and Castle, I used to get an omelette called gold n greens, and that's all it was, wrapped in a luscious French style egg omelette. I wanted to recreate a little of that magic, so I decided to add cheddar to my rice mixture. You can add Gruyére or any soft, meltable cheese. Even Parmesan, if you want to make it more Italian.
What does Italian food have to do with this snack? Quite a bit. In Italy there is a popular fried rice fritter called Arancini. Its shape and filling will vary, from region to region. Their name means little orange, as many are rounded and will come from the deep fryer a golden color reminiscent of the orange. My choice of fillings is rather unusual, but it was what I had on hand and it turned out very nicely. Enjoy! Or as the Italians would say "Mangia! Mangia!" (Or is that just in the popular imagination?)

A special nod to Lisa Watson of Italian Kiwi, a good friend, whose post and recipe for Arancini was the first I'd ever looked at.

Spinach, Cheddar & Garlic Mini Arancini

Makes 20 - 24

2 cups cooked rice
4 ounces fresh spinach, stems removed
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 ounces grated sharp cheddar
2 eggs
2/3rds cup breadcrumbs
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups oil for frying

1. In a large pan over medium heat add olive oil, then spinach. Add crushed garlic, season with a little salt and pepper and cook until just wilted. Remove from heat and roughly chop spinach.
2. Mix rice, spinach, cheese and a bit more salt and pepper together. Form into balls of approximately 1 heaping Tablespoon. I used my rounded Tablespoon measure, then pressed it in on all sides to form the rounded shape.
3. Set in fridge to firm up for about 1 hour.
4. In a small bowl beat eggs with a fork. Set breadcrumbs in a shallow dish.
5. When arancini have firmed up, dip in egg batter, then cover with breadcrumbs.
6. In a small saucepan with high sides, heat oil to about 200. Cook arancini in a single layer in small batches, 4 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook an additional 3 minutes, or until golden brown.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cheddar, Beer & Chive Cheese Puffs (Gougères)

Today I’m going to post about Gougères, a decadently cheesy, crunchy, tiny French biscuit made from Pâte à Choux, into which a soft, meltable cheese like Gruyére has been folded. As my twist on these little puffs I used beer as the liquid in the Choux pastry and cheddar in place of Gruyére. I also folded in fresh chives. The wonderful sharp cheddar flavor was enhanced by the earthy beer and spicy, grassy note of chives. These are great fresh out of the oven and the dough can be made up to 4 hours ahead. I used a Bon Apetit recipe as a guide for the savory Choux pastry.

This post is another entry in the Canapés month event on Foodies Plus.

Cheddar, Beer & Chive Gougères (Cheese Puffs)

Makes 50 tiny puffs

1 cup pale ale or similar beer
1 cup AP flour
5 1/2 ounces extra sharp Cheddar, finely grated
6 Tablespoons butter
4 eggs
1 egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 Tablespoons chopped chives

1. Preheat oven to 400*. In a non stick pan, combine beer, salt, mustard and butter. Cook on medium low until butter has melted.
2. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold in flour. Turn heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture forms a ball and turns a bit glossy.
3. Allow to cool for about 2 minutes and fold in eggs, one by one, making sure to thoroughly incorporate them.
4. Fold in cheese, then pepper, then chives.
5. Transfer to a pastry bag with a 1/4" tip.
6. Pipe small rounds onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
7. Whisk egg yolk in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon water and brush over tops of puffs.
8. Bake until set in the center, roughly 25 minutes.

Serve warm

*If your oven runs hot, as mine does, you can bake these at as low as 350.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Cheesy Roasted Zucchini Pasta Bake with Ricotta

I have been travelling to visit family recently--from the West to the East coast--to visit family. It was a great visit, even if weather did ground us in North Carolina for the night. This will be the last time I fly before the baby is born; I'm nearly in the third trimester and air travel is ill advised at that point. Things were hectic, getting ready for that trip and have not slowed down much since our return. I've really missed having the time to update the blog, and so I'm really excited to be back!

Apart from some fantastic and much needed family time--my Mom threw us a baby shower and I got to have my busy, world travelling family all in the same place to celebrate together--and relaxing both at the beach with my grandparents and at my Dad's turn of the century upstate NY house where we were lucky enough to babysit my three year old nephew, read stories and sing songs to him, and dine al fresco in my my Dad's and Nona's magnificent backyard garden, I also found some inspiration for my next post.

The inspiration for this dish comes from my dad's lovely zucchini squash, heavy on the vine. I was excited to make this pasta bake for him, but his kitchen is currently being renovated, so we settled on nostalgia in the form of my favorite local burrito place. Probably a good thing, because for someone who grows zucchini, my dad apparently doesn't like it very much. (Likely it,was Nona's idea to plant it)

Summer’s almost over and I have yet to post a zucchini recipe, so this is a perfect time for inspiration to hit. This creamy, rich pasta bake with be a hit with vegetarians and meat eaters alike. It is rich so to cut the richness I recommend serving it alongside arugula (rocket) dressed in fresh lemon juice and pepper.

Cheesy Roasted Zucchini Pasta Bake with Ricotta

Makes 6 enormous servings

3 small to medium zucchini squash, or two extra large, cut lengthwise into 1/4" strips
3/4 pound chunky pasta (such as campanelle or radiatore; shells or orecchiette will also work fine)
~1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan


1/2 cup cream
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 small pinch nutmeg (about 1/4 teaspoon)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425. Cover zucchini in olive oil, salt and pepper and lay in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Bake until zucchini begins to caramelize, 12 - 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. Boil pasta according to package instructions; take pasta out 1 or 2 minutes before time suggested on package (it will continue to cook in the oven). Drain al dente cooked pasta and pour into baking dish.
3. In a small mixing bowl, beat egg into ricotta. Cut zucchini strips into 1/2" pieces and mix into cooked pasta. Turn oven down to 350.
4. Make the sauce: over low heat melt butter. Whisk cream and milk into melted butter. Do not allow to boil. Season with salt and pepper and add nutmeg. Allow to steep for 5 minutes, whisking frequently. Grate parmesan into sauce and whisk to combine. When cheese is melted, pour sauce over pasta.
5. Using a Tablespoon drop dollops of ricotta evenly over top of pasta.
6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until ricotta has started to turn golden.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Roasted Fig, Honey & Rosemary Spread (Tapas month)

Have you ever found an ingredient at the store that was so fabulous you knew you had to do something special with it? It happens to me from time to time. This week it happened twice, with two separate ingredients. First it was the brilliantly beautiful Bresaola, deeply meaty and slightly gamey, which I purchased to stand in for Serrano Ham during my Tapas month posts and recipes written for the event at Foodies Plus. The second impressive ingredient was a twelve month aged Manchego, magnificently nutty and subtly sharp. I had been planning some kind of combination of figs, Manchego and Serrano Ham (but had to settle for the ham’s stand in, Bresaola) for some time, which I thought would be an excellent way to honor the ingredients. Although I considered using the fig jam I’ve already got on hand, I remembered from the first tasting that it was overly sweet and had obviously been made with dried figs. It is coming up on fig season; this just won’t do. As I was planning my own fig spread I decided to roast them with honey and rosemary.

Regarding honey: for these purposes, I recommend using a darker honey with molasses notes, such as buckwheat or wildflower honey. I used this lovely avocado honey (yet another ingredient I picked up for special recipes), and not only does it have a molasses note, but it also has an avocado-like buttery aftertaste, and a lightly bitter, grassy finish which reminds me of artichokes. Avocado honey is a very complex honey and I recommend trying some if you can get your hands on it. It is delightful on buttered dark bread.

Serve your roasted fig spread on crostini (as I did), or crackers and top with shaved Manchego and a slice of Bresaola.

Roasted Fig, Honey & Rosemary Spread

9 figs, halved with the tops removed
2 Tablespoons dark honey of choice
1 Tablespoon butter
2 large sprigs rosemary, leaves only
2 - 3 drops olive oil
Salt, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add olive oil, to keep butter from burning. Add 1 Tablespoon honey and stir to melt.
2. When honey has melted, add rosemary leaves. Add a small pinch of salt. Allow to steep for five minutes.
3. Brush figs all over with butter/honey and in each cavity add a few rosemary leaves. Set on a greased or parchment lined sheet tray and roast for 10 - 15 minutes, until the figs have softened completely.
4. Allow to cool down to warm and pulse in a blender with remaining honey until smooth. Taste and add additional salt, if needed.
5. Serve spread on crackers or toast with Manchego and Serrano Ham or Bresaola.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Huevos Rellenos con Trucha ( Smoked Trout Deviled Eggs with Lemon Aioli)

It is Tapas month on foodies plus and the ideas are flowing freely! This is another idea inspired by my Tapas cookbook, and a variation of Huevos Rellenos that includes canned tuna. While we enjoy canned tuna, our favorite type of preserved fish is smoked trout in oil. We often enjoy smoked trout in a salad with a bright, zesty citrus dressing, so I hit upon the idea of whipping up a lemon aioli to use in my deviled eggs to compliment the rich, smoky flavor of the trout. It turned out to be a really fabulous combination with a lot of personality. I garnished my deviled eggs with capers and cornichons, as well as a sprinkling of cayenne pepper.

I’m including the Lemon Aioli recipe, which was an adaptation of Williams-Sonoma’s Lemon Garlic Aioli (without the garlic; it just didn’t fit with the other flavors), because I really feel that this dressing made the dish; if you’re pressed for time or don’t have a stand or immersion mixture, you can always use store bought mayo and squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into the yolks (before adding mayonnaise or anything else). I recommend making the aioli hours to a day ahead of time to give it time to set. You’ll have some leftover. It makes a fantastic dipping sauce for grilled artichokes and is really yummy in chicken salad, as well as in a potato salad (particularly if made with yukon gold potatoes).

Huevos Rellenos con Trucha

(Makes 16 deviled eggs)

8 hard boiled eggs, peeled
5 Tablespoons lemon  aioli (see recipe below)
50 grams smoked trout
2 teaspoons mustard powder
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. Cut eggs in half and pop yolks out into a mixing bowl.
2. Set whites aside and mix the filling: Add everything except the smoked trout to the mixing bowl and mix until smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, flake the trout until it is just broken up. Fold trout in to the filling (egg yolk) mixture. Fill the egg white cavities with the yolk filling.
4. Serve sprinkled with capers and a dash of cayenne. A separate bowl of cornichons goes great with these stuffed eggs.

Lemon Aioli

(Makes 8 ounces)

2 eggs yolks, brought to room temperature
zest of 1 lemon
juice of two lemons
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 1/2 cups neutral oil (such as canola or vegetable)
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg yolks, lemon zest, half the lemon juice and mustard powder. Attach the whisk attachment. Turn mixer on full speed and whisk until egg yolks are foamy (approximately 45 seconds).
2. Turn the speed down just a bit (mine goes to 8 and I turned it down to 7) and begin adding the oil, a little drizzle at a time, being careful to create an emulsion and not to break the egg yolks. When you’ve incorporated 2/3rds of the oil, add remaining lemon juice. Drizzle the rest of oil slowly into the mixture. Turn mixer off.
3. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then pour into a glass jar. Cover jar and allow to set in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours, and up to 24 hours.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Albondigas with Chipotle Adobo Ketchup Glaze

As far as food goes, Mexico and Spain don't share all that much. When I discovered something they had in common, I couldn't wait to share it with you for Tapas month on foodies plus. What are albondigas? They are made of beef and pork combined. In Mexico they are served as a soup in broth and in Spain as Tapas, or bite sized foods. My version is meant to be consumed as a Spanish style Tapa, but has the spice typical of Mexican style meatballs; the way these meatballs are seasoned is inspired by Mexican cuisine.

What makes a perfect meatball? In my opinion a perfect meatball would be moist, tender and have a great balance of flavor. These meatballs deliver all that and a crunchy exterior. They are perfect topped with the spicy, acidic glaze and garnished with manchego shavings. Ordinarily I use milk-soaked bread crumbs to achieve a tender meatball, but I wanted a Mexican twist so I decided to use cornbread in the meatballs. I made a fresh cornbread the day before, but as long as you toast the bread on a low heat to make it stale it can be made the day of, or purchased in a store. If you can’t get hold of cornbread and you don’t have the ingredients to make some, substitute the same amount of corn muffin. The sweetness of the cornbread is a fantastic compliment to spicy, tart and smoky chipotle adobo glaze.

Other than milk soaked bread the key to a perfectly tender meatball is to handle with care. The more delicate you can be and the less you handle the meatball mix and its individual ingredients, the more tender they will turn out.

The best thing about these meatballs is that they’re fairly easy to make and yet they are impressive and taste delicious.

If you don’t prefer frying them you can braise them in the glaze by adding more liquid or bake them.

Albondigas with Chipotle Adobo Ketchup Glaze

Makes approx 40 mini meatballs


1 lb. minced chuck
8 ounces minced pork
2 Tablespoons chipotles in adobo*
1 cup cornbread crumbs
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg
salt, to taste
pepper to taste
canola oil, for frying

Measure cornbread crumbs into a large mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. Pour over cornbread crumbs and stir gently. Combine thoroughly.
Allow bread crumb mixture to cool. Add all other meatball ingredients. Mix with hands gently. Combine thoroughly.
Roll the meatball mixture into 1” round balls, handling delicately.
Cover the bottom of a large saucepan in about 1” canola oil (or any neutral oil). Bring oil to medium low heat. Lay meatballs in a single layer with room in between (you may have to cook the meatballs in a couple of batches). Fry without touching for about 4 minutes.
Flip meatballs over and fry for an additional 4 minutes, or until they’re cooked through.
Brush with glaze (see recipe below) and serve with small forks or toothpicks.


2 teaspoons paste of chipotles in adobo*
3/4 cup low sodium beef broth
3/4 cup tomato paste

Bring stock to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat.
Whisk in all other ingredients.
Cook for 5 minutes, to allow flavors to marry.
Brush onto meatballs

*grind the entire can into a wet paste and freeze the rest in an ice cube tray for later use

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tapas Recipes: Tortilla Española with Ají Amarillo

It is tapas month at foodies plus, my main--and favorite--social networking community. Everyone in the community is so kind and creative. So much so that I find tapas a perfect theme for the month of July. One tapas recipe or dish is made large and meant to be shared in small bites; sharing is kind. And since tapas means small bites the confines of the idea are pretty much endless, from a creative standpoint.

I am so thrilled to joining in the fun and bringing you my own small bite, my twist on a classic: Tortilla Española with Ají Amarillo paste. A tortilla usually means a very flat bread made with stone ground corn flour (masa) or wheat flour, and fried on a griddle. This type of tortilla is a wrap or vessel for delicious stuffing. A tortilla in Spain, at least a “Spanish style tortilla” is an entirely different thing. It is a light, fluffy omelet/thin egg pie that is often studded with cubed potatoes and will sometimes also include sauteed onions. I kept the dish to more or less the same formula, but I thought it would make for an interesting variation to fill the tortilla with spicy potatoes and caramelized onions. I topped it with minced green olives and a skewered slice of Bresaola (the closest thing I could find to Serrano Ham at my regular market; it seems like the beef equivalent of Serrano Ham). The combination of fluffy, spicy omelet with earthy potatoes, the richly nuanced musk of dry cured meat and briny olives was just perfect. Not to mention this dish is incredibly photogenic. Tortilla Española would probably be best enjoyed with a dry white wine. Don’t let me tell you what to drink, however; you do you. That’s the way I like it.

Learning how to make a Tortilla Española is a good tool to have in your culinary arsenal, especially if you have an interest in tapas, and/or enjoy entertaining. My method of cooking was adapted from a great little coffee table book I picked up awhile ago, Tapas Made Easy. The right equipment is very important, as I learned the hard way the first time I attempted this dish and it stuck completely to the inside of my enameled cast iron saucepan. A good ceramic nonstick pan is what’s needed. If you don’t have one you could bake your tortilla at 375 for 6 - 9 minutes (until top turns golden). This is supposed to be served cold and is much easier to portion out after it has completely cooled.

Tortilla Española

Makes 16 tapas

2 small potatoes, any variety
1/2 medium yellow onion, julienned
4 eggs
1 clove garlic
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Ají Amarillo paste
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

For Garnish (optional, but highly recommended):
4 pitted Manzanilla olives, diced finely (you’ll serve only about ¼ olive per portion of tortilla)
1/3 lb sliced Serrano Ham or Bresaola (16 slices total, one for each serving)

Parboil the potatoes whole in their skin for about 10 minutes, depending on the size. You want them just shy of cooked. Transfer to your cutting board to cool, then dice up into about a 1/2 inch dice.
Heat a medium sized nonstick pan to medium heat and add ½ of the olive oil. To the pan add onions and saute for 2 -3 minutes. Add potatoes.
Stir to coat and saute for about 7 minutes. Add Ají paste and saute for another 3 or so minutes, until potatoes are fully cooked. Set cooked onions and potatoes into a sieve to cool and drain off excess oil.
As potatoes cool whisk together eggs and grate the garlic into the eggs. When onions and potatoes have cooled, add them to the egg mixture.
Bring the heat up to high in the same non-stick pan and add remaining olive oil.
Poor in egg/potato.onion mixture and cooked for 2 minutes. Flip omelet and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to cutting board.
Cut into squares and enjoy. This will make about 16 small servings.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Aji Amarillo Chicken Skewers w/ Aji Sauce

As far as the traditional food from Peru goes, I enjoy a good Causa and I'll never say no to a Saltado, particularly with lamb. My favorite Peruvian dish, however, is hands down aji de gallina: a flavorful chicken dish with a spicy yellow gravy which is made delicious and unique by the inclusion of the star of the dish: aji amarillo peppers. Aji is a type of chili from Peru which is of medium to high heat, depending on your tolerance (the pepper averages out at about 50,000 units on the Scoville scale). As its name suggests it is yellow as it grows and reaches an orange-ish yellow upon maturation. This dish is hearty, comforting and rich without being overly so. Traditionally the dish is made with bone-in, skin on chicken, which is simmered in chicken stock and aji amarillo paste until the chicken is fall off the bone tender. At some point cubed potatoes and sliced hard boiled eggs (big in Peruvian cuisine) are added and the sauce is thickened with breadcrumbs. Olives, particularly green ones, are popular in Peru and often included in this dish. I love for my husband's Peruvian relatives to show up to a family gathering with a delicious, aromatic pot of this dish. It was only a matter of time before I tried to make it at home. Of course me being me and this being grilling season, I had to put my twist on it. I felt grilling chicken thighs and quail eggs brushed with aji amarillo paste would lend a smokiness to the dish's rich and spicy flavor and I am very happy with how it turned out! Initially I had hoped to find really small new potatoes and pop them onto skewers, so I could pack a little more smoke flavor into my dish, but I could only find smallish Yukon Golds, so I parboiled them and finished them in the aji de gallina sauce, which I ended up preferring anyway, but I recommend the idea as something to play around with if you can find gold fingerling potatoes.

I cannot find fresh aji peppers here, so I make do quite nicely with aji amarillo paste. There is no substitute for it and I can order a jar of it online. One jar goes a long way and it can be used to spice up your chicken, pasta or potato salad, or in place of sriracha in any sauce.

Stay tuned to for an upcoming post on a traditional aji de gallina.

Grilled Aji de Gallina

Serves 4

1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
3 Tablespoons aji amarillo paste, divided equally in two
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (preferably homemade)
1/2 cup milk
20 quail eggs
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. Cover potatoes with water in a pot. Add salt. Bring to a boil and cook for about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. Cover quail eggs with water and when they have reached a simmer, swirl them around carefully but vigorously to ensure yolks will rest in the center of the egg. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. Cut up chicken thighs into large bite sized pieces and thread them onto skewers. Peel eggs and thread them onto their own skewers, to avoid the risk of cross contamination.
4. In a small bowl add milk to bread crumbs.
5. In a large pot bring chicken stock, 1 1/2 Tablespoons aji paste, 1 cup water and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and add potatoes.
6. Mix water into the remaining 1 1/2 Tablespoons of aji paste to form a slurry. Baste chicken and egg skewers with aji paste slurry. Salt skewers to taste.
7. On a charcoal grill over medium high heat, cook the chicken skewers for 4 -5 minutes per side (or until cooked through) and egg skewers for 2 - 3 minutes per side (or until they develop some lovely grill marks.
8. As the skewers are cooking add milk and breadcrumbs to the chicken stock and aji paste mixture in the pot. Reduce heat to the laziest simmer and when the skewers are ready the sauce will have thickened.
9. Serve over long grain rice and garnish with sliced green olives.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Grilled Peaches with Grand Marinier & Spice Clove Syrup

Grilled peaches

Barbecues and grills are not just for meat. This time of year you can grill vegetables, and even grill dessert. Wait, grill dessert??? Yes, exactly. It's widely known that grilled and roasted fruit makes a great sauce for certain cuts of meat, such as roasted plums with pork loin or roasted berries with venison. In a similar vein (no pun intended), grilled pineapple slices are great on a teriyaki burger or Hawaiian themed burger. So, last year I decided to try grilled peaches. And I'm revisiting it, partly because of the grill/bbq event at foodies plus and partly to offer a different sauce and to serve it in a different way. In honor of Balvinder Ubi I am serving it with crêpes. And in the spirit of experimentation I have replaced the honey cognac sauce with a grand marinier and clove syrup. Enjoy!

Grilled Peaches

(Makes enough to cover 4 crêpes)

1 barely ripe peach, halved with the stone removed
1/2 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 Tablespoons grand marinier
2 spice cloves, ground up

1. Preheat the oven to 400. Brush butter onto the inside of the peache halves. Grill peaches for about 7 minutes over medium heat coals.
2. Transfer peaches to a baking dish and bake for about 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make the syrup: heat water in a small heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium-low heat. Whisk in sugar and cook for 5 minutes, or until sugar is thoroughly melted and incorporated.
4. Add liquor and cloves and cook over low heat for am additional 10 minutes, to reduce syrup by about 1/3.
5. Remove peaches from the oven and slice them into wedges. Serve warmed crêpes, topping each with 1/4 peach and desired amount of syrup.

Monday, June 15, 2015

For the love of bolognese

This post is all about the basics. I’m a passionate fan of a certain slow-cooked, flavor packed meat and tomato sauce that originates in Italy. It might surprise you to know that you’ve probably ordered bolognese in a restaurant, only to have a quicker (and therefore less flavorful) version passed off as the real thing. You see, many people are confused about the difference between a ragu and a bolognese. A bolognese is a type of ragu, but not all ragus are bolognese. In America we often offer bolognese over spaghetti, but in Bologna, the region the dish hails from, it is served over tagliatelle, or used as the basis (along with a white sauce) of Italian lasagna. A proper ragu alla bolognese simmers for a minimum of three hours and has layers of flavor cooked in. I have adapted my recipe from Marcella Hazan’s Classics of Essential Italian Cooking, one of my top three favorite cookbooks. In doing some research on the subject I am given to understand that there are many variations on this pasta sauce; the only constant is that it must respect the “spirit of the region”. I cannot be certain of what that means, but I’m sure you’re going to love this rich, sumptuous pasta sauce.
What tweaks do you have when making bolognese sauce?

Bolognese Sauce

Makes enough to cover 1 ½ lbs of pasta

1 pound minced beef, with a 20/80 fat-to-lean content
2 ½ cups chopped stewed tomatoes, in juice or crushed tomatoes
½ cup chopped onion
⅔ cup chopped celery
⅔ cup chopped carrots
3 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup milk
1 cup dry white wine
a small pinch nutmeg (about ¼ teaspoon)
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add olive oil.
Add onions, and cook for 2 minutes, then add celery and carrots and a small amount of salt and pepper. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until carrots have started to become tender.
Add minced beef, more salt and more pepper and cook until browned, about 15 - 20 minutes.
Reduce heat slightly and add milk and nutmeg, stirring frequently, until it has been cooked into the meat (about 15 minutes).
Add wine and simmer until wine has been absorbed into the meat, about 25 - 30 minutes.
Add tomatoes. Turn heat down to the lowest possible setting. Simmer on the laziest boil for 3 to 4 hours, adding water 1/2 cup at a time if sauce dries out. Remove from heat and serve over pasta of choice.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cracked Pepper & Four Fruits Vinaigrette Spinach Salad with Citrus & Cracked Pepper Grilled Chicken

There are two sources of inspiration for today’s post: the first is the event I’m hosting on Foodies Plus this month (link here), a barbecue & grill event that I’d like to encourage more people to jump into. So, perfectly tender, immensely flavorful grilled chicken. The second source of inspiration was the strong jammy perfume my quinoa imparted as a dry ingredient; the smell only got stronger as it cooked and it put me in the mood to play around with the idea of a jammy vinaigrette. Well, I had more of that delightful four fruits preserve and a hankering for black pepper, and this sweet, bitter, zesty and bold salad all came together in the end. It is as flavorful as it is healthy. Filled with fiber, protein, vitamins and iron. But most of all deliciousness. Yes. Filled with deliciousness. Try it out for your next bbq or grill night. I promise it is easier than its list of ingredients might suggest.

Citrus & Cracked Pepper Grilled Chicken

Two chicken breasts, butterflied & tenderized
Zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest & juice of 1/2 orange
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon sriracha
Salt, to taste

Grind the peppercorns in a spice grinder or mortar and combine with all of the above ingredients, except the chicken to make the marinade.
Mix thoroughly.
Lay chicken in a shallow dish and pour marinade over the chicken. Cover pan and marinate for 30 minutes.
Over medium to medium high heat of charcoals, grill chicken. Cook it for about 3 -4 minutes per side, or until internal temp at the thickest part reads 165.
Set aside to cool, then chop into bite sized pieces to be tossed with salad.

Cracked Pepper & Four Fruits Vinaigrette Spinach Salad

For the vinaigrette:
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 orange
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons Four Fruits Preserve
1/2 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon or stone ground mustard
Salt, to taste

For the salad:
1 cup cooked white quinoa
3 ounces baby spinach, cleaned
4 leaves radicchio, chopped into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup almonds

Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in the blender. Pulse until thoroughly combined.
Roughly chop almonds in the food processor
combine spinach, radicchio, quinoa, chicken and almonds. Top with vinaigrette and toss to combine.
Enjoy for lunch or as a dinner entree.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Of course each of my recipes has to have a story. I don't know why--perhaps it's because there is a source of inspiration for each of them. Maybe I simply can't stop myself from being a storyteller. Whatever the case, today's post and recipe has my favorite source of inspiration: good friends. Recently we went North to Sonoma, CA to visit a dear family friend with another dear friend in tow. Our Sonoma friend had in her courtyard a few healthy yet gnarled lemon trees which were heavy with the most enormous lemons I have ever seen in my life. for context, they were considerably larger than softballs. I'll have to get her to take a picture, because I didn't think of it. I am a little embarrassed to say that I didn't think of taking one, either, despite the overabundance. It was the dear friend we had brought with us who suggested we take one and that I do something special with it. And it is a special lemon. The ones you let get heavy on the tree and which are plucked immediately are sweeter, but at the same time more redolent of citrus fragrance.
I'm finally getting around to that project, so in honor of dear friends, I present my creamy, dreamy, deliciously citrus-y and just a little bit tart lemon cheesecake bars. To enhance the lemon flavor I used lemon extract and to really compliment the sharp cheesecake filling I used some sweet and buttery vanilla wafers in the crust. The zest was put into this dessert and I used the juice to make fresh lemonade which was absolutely fabulous.

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

makes one 9" square pan

For the crust:
2 graham crackers, crushed to crumbs
12 Nilla Wafers, crushed
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Zest of 1/4 lemon

1. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Press into the bottom of pan. If you don't have a square springform pan, line the inside of your square pan with parchment paper to make the cheesecake easier to remove.
2. Cover pan and refrigerate for one hour.
3. Meanwhile, make filling (see ingredients below).

Ingredients for filling:

(2) 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup cream
2 eggs
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
Zest of 1 enormous lemon or two large lemons

1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Combine all filling ingredients, mixing thoroughly.
3. Pour over crust and bake until the cheesecake has set, 40 to 50 minutes.
4. Cut into squares and serve with an optional garnish of candied lemon peels or candied lemon slices.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Napa Cabbage and Bean Sprout Wasabi Slaw

This slaw was created because I wanted to get an updated (ok, sexier, or at least more appealing) photo of my teriyaki turkey burgers (; they are delicious, flavorful and so easy to make that I thought they deserved a photo as enticing as they are. I wanted to make an Asian inspired slaw to serve on top of them, so I thought of combining napa cabbage and bean sprouts with a wasabi mayonnaise dressing. The slaw turned out so well I decided to blog about it. Softly crisp sprouts and cabbage in a creamy, tangy mayonnaise, vinegar and wasabi dressing with just a little bit of a kick to it makes a fabulous burger topping, especially for these burgers. What's really great about both of these recipes is that they're both very easy to put together.

Napa Cabbage and Bean Sprout Wasabi Slaw

3 leaves napa cabbage, chiffonaded
2 1/2 ounces bean sprouts
4 green onions (dark green upper stem parts only*), thinly sliced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar
1 teaspoon mirin
2 teaspoons wasabi powder
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 pinches sugar
salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

1. Combine mayonnaise, wasabi powder, sesame oil, vinegar, mirin, sugar and salt in a small bowl to create dressing. Whisk to combine thoroughly. Cover and set in the fridge to allow flavors to combine.
2. Meanwhile combine cabbage, green onion and bean sprouts in a larger bowl.
3. After the dressing has been in the fridge for 20 minutes, pour over vegetables and toss well to combine. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the slaw and mix in gently. Serve alongside or on top of burgers.

*grill the leftover white/light green parts and put them on burgers.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Roasted Garlic, Cannelini Bean and Kale Soup

One thing I should mention about this cannelini bean soup is that it is rather a different dish from my Tuscan Cannelini Bean Stew. In what ways? Well, the beans are pureed, which is less rustic and more sophisticated. And it isn’t quite hearty enough to be an entree, even if it is rather filling. It’s also delicious and a perfect starter or quick lunch for a meatless Monday. The inspiration is partly from a delicious bean and roasted garlic soup I had at a cafe here and partly inspired by our house falling sick. Thankfully, we’re both on the mend, but in the meantime it was nice to have something as nourishing and filling as it is tasty in the fridge. Sweet and pungent roasted garlic is a great complement to creamy, nutty pureed cannelini beans and bitterly earthy kale. We enjoyed this alongside grilled pork sausages and it was a really amazing meal. Also, it was incredibly easy to make.

Roasted Garlic, Cannelini Bean and Kale Soup

(makes 6 servings)

2 ½ cups cooked cannelini beans*
1 head of garlic, roasted
8 ounces kale, washed, stems trimmed and chopped into 1” pieces
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
2 cups water
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

1. While the beans are still warm from being cooked, combine in blender with water, stock, garlic and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth.
2. In a large pot over medium heat, add olive oil. Season with salt & pepper.
3. Add kale and saute 3 or so minutes, until it has started to turn color, but is still tender.
4. Add pureed bean mixture and cook until soup is heated through.Serve garnished with parmesan.

*I cooked my own beans, but if you’re using canned drain and rinse them

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Rosemary Garlic Cheddar Chicken Roulade

I don’t have a curing chamber, but I do love me some fancy lunch meats. Hmm...what to do? I remembered a long-ago experiment by my then roommate (also my foodie guru) where she made a garlic and rosemary roulade with some fantastic biodynamically organic chicken breasts and I had the idea of using the roulade slices on a sandwich. They were amazing. Remembering that long ago chicken dish, I decided that would be a fabulous and fairly simple way to create for myself some fancy lunch meats. So, here we are. Rosemary, Garlic and Cheddar Roulade. Butterflied and tenderized chicken stuffed with a trio of delicious ingredients is perfect on a crunchy roll. Pictured below is the sandwich I made with baby spinach and mayonnaise. Really worth the effort!

Rosemary Garlic Cheddar Chicken Roulade

Makes enough for 4 -6 sandwiches

4 chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded thin (about ¼” thick)
3 large sprigs of rosemary, woody stems discarded and leaves chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
2 - 3 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Spread a thin layer of cheese over one side of each chicken breast, then sprinkle all over with rosemary and garlic. Starting from the thinnest side of the breast, roll up tightly. Secure with kitchen twine along the length of the roulade approximately every 1 - 1.5”.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Add olive oil to cover the bottom of a large saucepan over medium heat. Sear the wrapped chicken (roulades) on all sides, about 10 minutes total cooktime.
Transfer chicken roulades to a baking dish and bake in oven for an extra 10 -15 minutes, or until thermometer shows internal temp to be 165 degrees.
Slice into approx ¾” rounds and use in sandwiches.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Brown Butter Pecan Brioche Pudding with Bourbon Brown Butter Sauce

Butter Pecan Brioche Bread Pudding with boozy sauce. Just say it to yourself and you'll know exactly why I allowed myself to be seduced by this idea. The idea for this was sparked because my new boss has a pretty sweet (no pun intended) ice cream maker and was describing the rich, custard-y chocolate ice cream she had made. It caused me to dream of making my favorite flavor at home: butter pecan. Well, I don't have an ice cream maker and I'd been planning to play around with another style of bread pudding and bam--this dish was born. I added my own little twist to the idea of butter pecan by using nutty brown butter in both the pudding and the sauce. Sweet and spicy cognac and bourbon in the sauce compliment the rich butter flavor and crisp toasted pecans. This is an easy yet impressive dish to make for company. If you chill the sauce you may notice it separating. It will come back together when warm and sufficiently whisked.

A word about the choice of bread: If you can find brioche or have a good recipe and don't mind making some, definitely use it; it really gave the pudding a much softer consistency, so it was more like a custard than a bread pudding. This was the consistency I was shooting for and I think it can best be achieved with soft bread like brioche or challah, although brioche is best.

Brown Butter Pecan Brioche Pudding with Bourbon Brown Butter Sauce

For the Pudding:

4 cups stale brioche, cubed
4 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons clarified brown butter
1/3 cup whole pecans
1 tiny pinch of salt

1. Assemble the bread pudding: grease a 9 × 9 inch baking dish and lightly press the brioche into the dish to compact it somewhat and make it easier for the egg mixture to be absorbed.
2. Whisk together all other pudding ingredients and pour equally over entire pan of bread cubes. Press once more to get eggs absorbed. Cover and chill for a minimum of 3 hours and up to overnight.
3. In the last half hour of your pudding chilling, make your sauce (see below instructions).
4. Preheat the oven to 325 and lay your pecans in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Ladle a small amount of sauce over them and toast for between 5 - 10 minutes. Set sauce aside and cover to keep warm.
5. Turn the oven down to 300 and bake bread pudding for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake.
6. Chop toasted pecans and sprinkle over each portion before serving. Cover each portion with a generous amount of sauce.

For the Sauce:

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons cognac
2 Tablespoons bourbon
1/4 cup cream
2 Tablespoons clarified brown butter

1. Add water sugar and salt to a small saucepan over low heat. When sugar has dissolved add cognac and bourbon.
2. Reduce to 2/3rds of its original volume by continuing to cook sauce at a lazy simmer.
3. When it has been suitably reduced, add cream to warmed brown butter. Whisk to combine. Slowly incorporate this into your sauce and remove from heat.
4. Use sauce for pecans and to cover bread pudding.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies

What could be better than buttery thumbprint cookies, topped with your favorite jam? Introducing peanut butter into the mix. Think of it as a PB & J, but for dessert. I had a couple of jars of this fabulous four fruits jam (cherry, strawberry, red currant, raspberry), so I wanted to do something special with them. Thumbprint cookies were a good idea in the “something special” category, but to make it even more so I decided to change the cookies from butter cookies to chewy, rich peanut butter cookies. They’re my dad’s favorite. I’m thinking I’ll probably have to make these for him the next time I visit.

Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies

Makes 2 dozen

1 cup flour
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup + 2 Tblsp brown sugar
½ cup + 2 Tblsp sugar
2 eggs
1 stick butter, softened
¼ teasp salt
¼ teasp baking soda
1/2 Teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup jelly of choice (I used a preserve called four fruits)

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease a baking sheet.
2. Whisk together dry ingredients.
3. In a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together sugars and butter until they form a paste. Add eggs, then peanut butter and vanilla.
4. Turn speed down to low and add dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated.
5. Drop onto cookie sheet in rounded Tablespoonfuls. Press center of each with your thumb gently to form a well.
6. Bake for 18 minutes, or until cookies are set. Reflatten the thumbprint and fill it with the jam of your choice. Serve them warm, if possible.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Chilled Pencil Asparagus Spears in a Zesty Miso Citrus Dressing

As we all know (and can even feel in the air), two things are coming: asparagus season and beyond that bathing suit season. This recipe is a new way to enjoy tender chilled asparagus virtually guilt free. The zesty, umami rich flavor of miso dressing compliments asparagus gently bitter green taste and is very low in calories. The result of this combination tastes like a tangy and flavorful celebration of the fact that spring is on its way!

Chilled Pencil Asparagus in a Zesty Miso Citrus Dressing

1 bunch of pencil asparagus, washed and trimmed

For the dressing:

1 shallot clove, roughly chopped
juice of 2 limes
juice of 2 small navel or two blood oranges
1 Teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup red miso
2 Teaspoons mirin
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

Prepare an ice bath for your asparagus (2 parts ice cubes to 1 part water in a metal mixing bowl or metal baking dish).
Bring a large pan of water to boil and salt it.
When the water is boiling, add asparagus and allow to boil for 1 - 2 minutes. Immediately scoop asparagus spears out of pan and into ice bath. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, pulse all dressing ingredients in the blender.
Serve asparagus drizzled with dressing.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Asparagus, Chicken Apple Sausage and Gruyere Frittata

I may be taking liberties with the concept of a frittata. The consistency of this baked egg dish is very similar--light and fluffy, but it is not fried or flipped. And it has potatoes, much like a Tortilla Espanola. Whatever I decide to call it there's no doubt this combination of vibrant, earthy roasted asparagus, melty and nutty gruyere and slightly sweet, incredibly flavorful chicken apple sausage is a winner. If you're searching for new ways with asparagus, I highly recommend this. There were two reasons to use chicken apple sausage: the first is because it goes really well with the other flavors and the second because the South Bay Area loves themselves some chicken apple sausage. My husband and I have never seen a breakfast place in the bay area that did not offer a chicken apple sausage item on their menu. So, to honor my new (ish) home I used their favorite sausage.

Asparagus, Chicken Apple Sausage and Gruyere Frittata

Makes one 9 x 9" frittata

4 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup half n half or 1/2 cup each milk and heavy cream
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
10 stalks roasted asparagus*, chopped into 1" pieces
2 chicken apple sausages, sliced into about 1 centimeter pieces
3 ounces gruyere cheese, mostly grated**
2 medium yukon gold potatoes, sliced the thickness of kettle potato chips

1. Preheat oven to 400. Toss potato slices with olive oil to coat and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast until tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. (optional) in a medium saucepan over medium heat, brown sliced sausages in olive oil and set aside to cool.
3. Mix egg batter: whisk together the eggs and egg yolks, then add half n half (or milk & cream), asparagus, gruyere (in both forms) and sausages. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Lower oven heat to 350 and grease your baking dish. Lay potato slices three layers thick across the bottom of your baking dish. Pour in egg batter.
5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top begins to brown. Lower the heat to 275 and cook for an additional 20 minutes, or until a fork inserted in center comes out clean. Serve alongside a simply dressed salad.

*To roast asparagus, toss whole spears (trimmed of fibrous ends) to coat in olive oil and season with salt and pepper; bake in a single 375 degree oven until tender, about 12-15 minutes, depending on stalk thickness

**To prepare the cheese to mix into the egg batter first use a vegetable parer to shave 10 or so pieces from your hunk of gruyere, then grate the rest

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spicy Italian Sausage and Beef Meatballs Glazed in Mushroom Cream

Everyone wants to be that person who brings the best food to the party. If you agree, these amazing meatballs are for you! Spicy Italian sausage and well-marbled chuck combine to make a lusciously rich meatball. The spice from the meatballs pairs perfectly with earthy mushrooms, sweet sherry caramelized shallots and sumptuous cream. Italian Parsley is more than just a garnish--it is a must to complete the flavor profile; bright, herbaceous, slightly bitter parsley serves as a perfect counterpoint to the rich, spicy and slightly swet sauce. I served the meatballs with toothpicks and photographed them on bamboo skewers. If you don't have a party to take these meatballs to they would be excellent over spätzle or egg noodles or even mashed potatoes.

Spicy Italian Sausage and Beef Meatballs in Mushroom Cream

Makes approx 2 dozen mini meatballs

2 1/2 spicy Italian pork sausages, casings removed
8 ounces ground chuck
1/4 cup cream
2 Tablespoons sherry
2 Tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces mushroom caps, sliced
1 shallot, diced
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons Italian parsley leaves, chiffonaded
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Gently mix sausage and beef together and form them into mini meatballs 1 - 1.5" in diameter. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil. Place meatballs in pan in a single layer. Cook 2 -3 minutes on each side to develop a sear and render some of the fat into the pan.
2. When meatballs are browned on all sides, remove from pan and set aside. Drain approximately half of the fat from the pan. Turn the heat down a smidge and add your butter.
3. When the butter is melted, turn the heat back up to medium and sautee the diced shallots until they begin to brown. When they have caramelized somewhat, add in sherry to deglaze the pan. Allow the sherry to cook into the onions. Add salt, to taste
4. When the liquid has mostly evaporated, add mushrooms and pepper to taste and sautee until cooked through.
5. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and add cream. Stir to incorporate and when the cream has been just heated through pour quickly over meatballs.
6. Serve with chiffonade of parsley and toothpicks and enjoy.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Welsh Rarebit

I just demonstrated how to cook this very simple cheddar and beer spread on Good Day Google Plus, Chef Dennis' live hangout on air show on Google Plus. It was my first time appearing on his show and I was excited and honored! This sauce is dead simple and although I love it as a snack it also makes an amazing spread for your next burger. In fact, I made some sirloin burgers tonight and spread it on our buns, then toasted it. It made for a much sexier picture of my Welsh rarebit than the one we initially took (on toast), which is why you'll see the spread featured with a burger in the picture.

What in the funk is Welsh Rarebit? Well, deliciously sharp aged cheddar -- not to mention amber ale -- do make the taste of it a little funky, but it's a fabulous and subtle funk and pairs perfectly with tangy mustard and spicy cayenne. Plus, it's really easy. Try it. If you like sharp cheddar at all you'll love it. So, it's a rich cheese sauce that became popular in the United Kingdom around four hundred years ago. It is served either spread on toast and then broiled, or a thinner version is often served as an alternative to the traditional Swiss cheese fondue. If you'd like to serve it as an alternative to Gruyere fondue I've included a method in the recipe.

Welsh Rarebit

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
6 ounces pale ale or other ale or lager
1 Teaspoon worcestershire sauce
½ Tablespoon dijon mustard or 1 Teaspoon mustard powder
¼ Teaspoon cayenne powder

1. In a saucepan over low heat, melt butter. When butter is thoroughly melted, whisk in flour.
2. Cook, whisking constantly, until the flour turns golden.
3. Whisk in beer, mustard and worcestershire sauce.
4. Whisk grated cheese in a pinch at a time.*
5. Spread on toast, then broil under the broiler for 2 - 3 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

*If you wish to enjoy this as a fondue you can thin it out with up to ¾ cups half n half or ½ cup milk until fondue reaches desired consistency and serve with crostini.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Brown Butter Cauliflower Gratin Puree

Even vegetable haters have to admit they can stand to eat them if they're covered in luscious cheese sauce. At its heart that is exactly what cauliflower au gratin is. Of course, developing a subtle flavor in the cheese sauce is what elevates this popular dish. I love cauliflower gratin myself. But I found myself thinking: what if there was a way to get the sauce even more throughout the dish and to enjoy a smoother experience, like a puree? Well, there is. And pre-roasting the cauliflower in clarified brown butter serves two purposes: one is to cut down on time needed for the gratin in the oven, making it easier to save your sauce from separating; and the other purpose is to add another dimension of flavor to it--butter roasted cauliflower has a nutty sweetness all its own. That nutty sweetness is a perfect--if subtle--compliment to the sharp, creamy and nutty gruyere as well as the sweet and vaguely spicy touch of nutmeg in the sauce.

Brown Butter Cauliflower Gratin

1/2 head of cauliflower, divided into large florets
3 ounces guyere cheese, grated
3 Tablespoons Butter, divided
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 small pinch nutmeg
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay cauliflower florets in a single layer on a large cookie sheet. Brown one tablespoon butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, clarify and brush thoroughly over every floret. Add a small pinch of salt to taste.
2. Roast for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool. When it has cooled puree it roughly in a blender.
3. In a saucepan melt remaining butter. Add cream and whisk to incorporate. Add salt and pepper to taste and nutmeg. Pinch by pinch add in cheese and whisk to combine.
4. Combine sauce and cauliflower in your baking dish and bake at 375 until the top starts to turn golden, about 10 - 20 minutes.
5. Serve and enjoy.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Green Tea Cheesecake

The first time I tasted green tea creme brulee I thought it was excellent. I thought that the marriage of creamy vanilla and bitterly brassy and herbaceous green tea was just magical and it sparked a thought: what other creamy vanilla desserts would embrace the flavors of green tea? Cheesecake was the first thing that popped into my head. After tasting the product of two batches worth of experimentation I was rather glad it did! The green tea flavor is subtle, but perfect and the smell of vanilla in the kitchen was intoxicating. I made mini cheesecakes in my muffin tin, lined with large sized paper baking cups.

Green Tea Cheesecake

Makes 5 mini cheesecakes or one 7" cheesecake

For the crust:
2 graham crackers, crushed
4 small ginger snaps, crushed
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons sugar

For the filling:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup half n half
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 Tablespoon green tea with matcha powder
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla
1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg

1. Mix together all crust ingredients and press into baking cups or springform pan (if you're planning to make one cheesecake you'll be using the springform; multiple mini cheesecakes are made in baking cups). Set in the fridge for an hour to cool.
2. Add cream, half n half and tea to a small saucepan and steep for 10 minutes over the lowest setting. Strain dairy and set aside to cool.
3. When cream mix has cooled, whisk it thoroughly into cream cheese. Form a slurry with vanilla and cornstarch and add it to cream and cheese in bowl. Add egg and stir to thoroughly mix.
4. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and pour filling into baking cups or springform pan. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
5. Cool to room temp, then refrigerate for at least one hour to allow to set. Serve.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!