Sunday, September 14, 2008

I've Moved....

...on over to wordpress...so please run, walk, click on over to the new Just Get Floury!!! Make sure to change your reader to www.justgetfloury.com...you do not want miss out on one more delicious mouthwatering recipe...

Click Here for Recipe...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Peach-Blackberry Pie and the Omnivore's Hundred...


If you a loyal and obsessed foodie blogger like I am, you have seen Very Good Taste's Omnivore Hundred popping up all over the place. Well, I must admit I became quite curious so I decided to take the "test." I have tried 48 out 100...and would try them all except two did not quite suit me... check it out...

Here’s what to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or Head Cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam Chowder in Soudough Bowl
33. Salted Lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a Fat Cigar
37. Clotted Cream Tea
38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat

42. Whole insects

43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
46. Fugu: the whole lethally poisionious thing makes this a little iffy…
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (Is there anything better?)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV (Dogfish 120 IPA is amazing!)
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (What is this? Google is failing me…)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost or brunost
75. Roadkill (um…don’t think I could do it!)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang Souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom Yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose Harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole Poblano
96. Bagel and Lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake


Before I left for Chicago, J and I went blackberry picking. Before we knew it, we had over five pounds of berries...not including those we tested along the way. One night with his sister, E, we made a simple peach and blackberry pie. It was a store bought crust. I really like using the Pillsbury crust when I do not have time to make a real one. We decided to start making this pretty late at night...E and I figured out how to make the lattice...it was yummy...




Peach and Blackberry Pie
(based upon this recipe)
2 pie crusts
3 cups blackberries (1 3/4 lb)
2 peaches, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour


1. Place a baking sheet in lower third of oven and preheat to 400°F.
2. Toss together berries, granulated sugar, flour, and lemon juice. Let stand, tossing occasionally, 15 minutes.
3. Roll out 1 piece of dough into a 14-inch round and fit into a 9-inch pie plate (4-cup capacity). Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Chill shell while rolling out top.
4. Roll out remaining piece of dough into a roughly 16- by 11-inch rectangle. Cut crosswise into 11 (1 1/4-inch-wide) strips with a fluted pastry wheel or a knife.
5. Stir berry mixture, then spoon evenly into shell.
6. Dot with the butter.
7. Arrange strips in a tight lattice pattern on top of filling and trim strips close to edge of pan. Roll up and crimp edge. Sprinkle all over with sugar.
8. Bake on hot baking sheet for 10 minutes.
9. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and continue to bake for 30-35 minutes.
10. Allow to cool (or like us, dive right in!)



Click Here for Recipe...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nectarine Quinoa for a Healthy Breakfast...

I should be doing my reading for Contracts but my breakfast was just too yummy to not post right away...

I love Quinoa...ever since I discovered it last year, I've made it a staple of my diet.

Normally, I use this high protein grain in savory dishes for dinner. Well, when Melissa of Baking a Sweet Life announced the event, Let it Grain, I started thinking something sweet may be a nice change. I had some nectarines that were getting dangerously ripe, so I sauteed them with some butter, sprinkled with brown sugar and some nutmeg, and served over the quinoa. It is delicious!



Ginny's Nectarine Quinoa

1 cup cooked quinoa (follow directions on the package, I added a tablespoon of butter to give it some more flavor as it cooked)
2 Nectarines, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup almond slices (optional)


1. In a pan, heat the butter over medium to low heat until melted.
2. Add the nectarines and sautee until warmed through.
3. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and the nutmeg, stir and allow the nectarines to bubble and carmelize for a few minutes.
4. Serve over the quinoa

P.S. An extra idea: To add a bit more protein and a little crunch, mix in almonds! I thought about this while at the store but opted to buy a chocolate bar instead of almonds...I can't always be healthy!

Click Here for Recipe...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My New Home!

And that is the view from my new apartment! I've officially moved to Chicago!

The past couple days, I've been trying to organize and unpack. It is still a disaster. My kitchen was not quite ready for me so all my kitchen stuff is strewn all over the dining room table. This of course makes it very hard to cook. Last night I made a simple Tomato Caprese Salad and then played with my new camera...
This is the view from my bed. Yep! I'm not kidding...I look out onto Lake Michigan. This will make law school better, right?
This is Elmer my roommate. He shares the dining room with his wife, Bernadette. She was not feeling very photogenic this evening. I also have a neighboring spider, named Charlotte. She refused to sit still for a picture!

I took this shot of one of the buildings next door in the late afternoon light. It reminded me of the Dancing House in Prague, a favorite building of mine. I love the way the lines are refracted by the windows.

P.S. I promise, as soon as my kitchen is ready, I will make some absolutely delicious! So stay tuned!

Click Here for Recipe...

Monday, August 11, 2008

IRELAND: PART II and a recipe

The thing I miss most about traveling and moving happens to be the lack of time and often space to cook. When I returned from Ireland, I couldn't wait to get all floury again and I made Challah. With the some leftovers and the "starting to go stale" challah, I made a really good brie and balsamic onion sandwich that I chowed down as I packed. Now for the rest of Ireland...
Off I went to Galway, a fun, university town on the Western Coast. I spent my days roaming around the town, falling asleep by the river and doing a bit of shopping. I had two fabulous meals...One day for lunch, I stumbled into Anton's Cafe, a cute and artsy cafe. Craving avocado, I decided on the Smoked Bacon, Avocado & Beef Tomato with Red Onion Marmalade sandwich. It was very good. A few days later, I had a lovely dinner at Ard Bia. This cute restaurant sits on the river near the Spanish Arch. It is like walking into the dinning room of your favorite artsy, bohemian and eclectic friend. Nothing traditionally matched but all the tables and decoration created a welcoming and comforting atmosphere. I had to wait for a moment as the servers finished writing down the menu on the blackboard, which was then placed in a chair next to me so I could decide what to order. I chose a seared white fish fillet with lentils and a fresh summer salad. It was a wonderful meal. They even had fennel and pomegranate seeds in the salad...yummy!
During one of my days in Galway, I took a day trip around the Connemera...a beautiful part of Ireland with mountains, hills and ponies. We went to this Franciscan Abbey and the Kylemore Abbey (below). The countryside was gorgeous!
After Galway, I went back to Dublin for a few days. I went shopping, got my haircut and saw a great art exhibit at Chester Beatty Library and Gallery of Oriental Art. I saw this cake in the window of the cafe, Leon, and like every good foodie...I stopped in for a slice. Although the picture is quite blurry, I think it speaks for itself. Yum!
That kind of sums up the highlights of my trip...The best part of my trip though, which I can not show you in pictures, was the many different people I met. I stayed in hostels and every night I would meet a new crew of people from Germany, France, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland...and the list goes on. Often, we would go sit at the pub together, meet the locals and listen to the music. These people made my trip very fun and interesting. I have many memories and new friends that I will not forget.


Brie and Balsamic Onion Challah Sandwich

2 slices of Challah
Balsamic Caramelized Onions (Jennifer's recipe)
1/2 Vidalia Onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 slices of brie
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1. Peel the Onion and cut in half. Slice the onions into strips.
2. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sautéed the onions moving the onions around with a spatula until they soften and brown.
3. Drizzle the onions with the balsamic vinegar and mix with a spatula.
4. Cover the pan and stir occasionally until the onions have caramelized. Season with salt and pepper. Move to a dish.
5. In the same pan, toast the bread and melt the brie on both sides. Sprinkle with the Italian Seasonings.
6. Top with the onions and eat.

P.S. For more photos from Ireland, check out my flickr.

Click Here for Recipe...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

IRELAND: PART I

Ah, Doolin! How I miss you...your beautiful rolling green hills, sparkling blue sea and occasional sunshine... I have been back in the states for over a week now and have been running around none stop. I moved out of my current apartment and temporarily into my aunt's house. Next week, I'll be driving my things out to Chicago and into my new apartment. Until then, there is no rest for the weary but rather a long list of odds and ends that need to be taken care of...so in between the craziness, I am going to try to post some...I've even cooked a bit and took some pictures...hopefully, I'll have a few free moments to get them up here...but first a bit about my trip...

When I graduated from college two years ago, I had three non-career related goals...

1. Learn to make a souffle.
2. Learn how to blow glass.
3. Travel to Ireland.

I am happy to announce that I completed all three...one and two will make it into a post one of these days... My trip to Ireland was alot of fun. It was the first time that I had ever traveled alone for that long. Overall, I loved it. I spent my time roaming, reading and relaxing.

After arriving in Dublin, I took a bus over to Doolin, a small town on the Western Coast known for its fabulous music. From there, I took a beautiful but strenuous hike to the Cliffs of Mohr. These photos are from that trek. That night, slightly exhausted, I settled down in the pub with a wonderful Guinness Beef stew served over mashed potatoes with a pint of Guinness. It was an excellent meal and the local music did not disappoint!

After a few days in Doolin, I took the ferry to the Aran Islands. I spent one day biking around Inishmore. There were many old ruins to explore and I saw seals. I did not take too many pictures because the weather was very misty that I did not want to get my camera too wet. I did break it out to capture these roosters...

That about sums up the highlights of the first part of my trip...I don't want to leave you without a recipe. When I returned, J and I made a green chutney inspired by Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children as we had previously done with our Lotus Root Curry disaster. The chutney was a success and did not last long. We ate it with some samosas and a chicken curry. The pictures looked awful but it looks like any green pesto or dip. It was fabuous!!!

Green Chutney
(adapted from One Hot Stove)

2 cups packed fresh cilantro
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup roughly chopped onion
2 green chillies
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
1 tbsp yogurt
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp lime juice
salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend with a little water to get a thick chutney.

P.S. For more photos from Ireland, check out my flickr. Warning: I am just learning how to use flickr.

Click Here for Recipe...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Challah, I'm Back


Greetings everyone! I am back from Ireland. I had an amazing trip but I'm very glad to be back. This morning, I made some Challah. This recipe came from my roommate last year and it is very good.

Ok, quick post...I'm still unpacking...I'll have my Ireland pictures on flickr soon for anyone's enjoyment.

Challah

1/2 c oil
4t salt
1/3 c sugar
1 c boiling water
1/2 c cold water
2 pkg dry yeast
1/3 (scant) c warm water
3 eggs
7 c bread flour
poppy or sesame seeds
pour oil, salt and sugar into large mixing bowl. add one c boiling water and stir. add 1/2 c cold water. in a separate cup, dissolve the yeast in the 1/3 c warm water (with a pinch of sugar added). beat eggs and add to oil and water mixture, reserving two T to brush on loaves. add dissolved yeast and stir. add flour gradually and mix well.
turn out onto floured board and knead until dough doesn't stick. add more flour if necessary. return to bowl and cover with a clean town. let rise one hour.
knead one minute. cut into six pieces. knead each piece with a little flour. roll into strands and braid into two loaves. place loaves on greased pan or baking sheets.
let rise forty-five minutes. brush tops with reserved egg. sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds. bake at 375 for 30 min.

Click Here for Recipe...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Crab Cakes!!!

This is Mortimer...He is a Blue Crab from the Chesapeake Bay. A couple weeks ago, J and I went crabbing with my uncle, catching Mortimer and many of his friends. We did a fairly good job. The first time I went crabbing with my uncle, I fell asleep on the boat and was not too good at catching the crabs. In my defense, I did have to get up at 4am so it was understandable that I fell asleep. After that though, I normal chose to sleep in and just eat the crabs with my brother and sister caught. Lazy, I know!

This year, however, when J expressed interest in going crabbing and my uncle mentioned it, I thought, "Why not? It would be fun!" This time, I had to get up at 6am, which was not as bad. We spent a beautiful morning on the boat and caught a good amount of crabs. I have definitely improved in catching crabs and found that I really enjoy it. When we got back to the house, my uncle smothered them in Old Bay and steamed them. We picked some for lunch and took some home with us.

A few hours later, J turned to me and said the magic words "Crab Cakes?" We picked the rest of the crab meat and I called my mother for her recipe. My mother's secret is more crab and less filling. They turned out great! J is responsible for the photography. Mortimer was quite photogenic and quite tasty!



Maryland Crab Cakes
(from Ginny's Mom)

1 lb crab meat
2-3 tablespoons of flour, pancake mix or bisquick
4 shakes Worcestershire sauce
1 large egg
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon mayonnaise
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Pick over the crab meat carefully to remove any shell or cartilage.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir gently.
3. Heat vegetable oil in the frying pan to about one-half inch depth.
4. Form the cakes and fry for 3 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels.

P.S. I am off to Ireland this week! I will see you in two weeks!

Click Here for Recipe...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

My Love Affair with Squash Continues...

As I have mentioned many, many, many times before, I love butternut squash...I also failed to mention that I LOVE SQUASH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Every variety is absolutely delicious. When I was younger, I would love it when my father would make us spaghetti squash with some olive oil and paremesan. It is amazing!

When I saw Cookthink's Root Source Challenge #21 was to make a dish with Yellow Squash, I felt I was up to the challenge and I knew exactly which recipe I wanted to use. Every month or so, I get together with a good high school friend of mine to cook. We sit around talking, eating lots of Brie and making some good vegetarian dishes. She is one of those really good friends, who I can go months without talking to and yet, when we do talk, we pick up exactly where we left off. She and her husband moved up here last fall and I will definitely miss our cooking adventures when I move next month.

The last time we were together, she showed me a cute little cookbook, Gail Greco's Gardens of Plenty. It had a number of interesting recipes that used herbs in new and interesting ways. The Lemon Yellow Squash Soup with Orzo caught my eye and I scribbled it down. Overall, I liked it but I think next time I would reduce the butter. I used frozen yellow squash because we are moving soon and trying to clean out all the food. I think fresh would have made it much better. Also, I would recommend increasing the lemon juice. There was a hint but not enough. I loved the addition of the mint and now I have plenty leftover to make some good ole' Southern Sweet Tea!

Lemon Yellow Squash Soup with Orzo
(adapted from Gail Greco's Gardens of Plenty)

16 oz frozen yellow squash (1 1/2 lb. yellow squash, sliced)
4 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, finely minced
salt and fresh cracked white pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup orzo
1/2 cup light cream
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon mint, chopped

1. Melt butter in larger soup pot over medium heat.
2. Add onion and cook until tender but not browned.
3. Add squash. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 min.
4. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender and liquid reduces.
6. Blend in food processor.
7. Return to soup pot and bring to a boil.
8. Add orzo and cook until pasta is tender, about 7-8 min.
9. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine cream, egg and lemon juice. Whisk until smooth.
10. Add the mixture to the soup and whisk over low heat until blended. Do not let the soup come to a boil or the egg yolk will curdle.
11. Stir in the mint.
12. If the soup is too thick, add some more chicken stock.

P.S. Happy July 4th!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope everyone has a wonderful and fun holiday weekend!!!

Click Here for Recipe...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mango- Avocado Salsa...

As much as I do not really want to admit this, my friends and I have been known to compare ourselves to the women from Sex and the City. Although, we really are nothing like them...after a couple glasses of wine, this topic of conversation sometimes comes up. With the recent movie, my roommates and I found ourselves again comparing. They agreed that I am most like Carrie...slightly crazy and outspoken. Well, considering she uses her oven to store shoes, I beg to differ but as I was apartment shopping in Chicago this weekend...I think I may have slightly channeled my inner-Carrie.

In the movie (and yes, if you continue reading, I am going to ruin a scene), Carrie and her boyfriend, Mr. Big, are looking for a place to live...they walk into a beautiful penthouse with the light streaming in and hardwood floors...Carrie is instantly hooked until she sees the really tiny little closet. Mr. Big, of course, says he will build her a better closet...aw! so cute!

Well, in Chicago this weekend, the realtor showed me a number of places that were small, dark and depressing. Then we walked into this absolutely gorgeous studio... my mouth dropped as I looked at the view of Lake Michigan, jumped for joy at the amount of sunlight and then cringed when I saw the tiny little kitchen...I looked around for Mr. Big but, alas, I didn't have one...

I went for it anyway. It is a beautiful apartment and the kitchen will just challenge me to be more creative with cooking. Plus, although I do not need the space, the closet is huge so I may just have to store some of my kitchen ware in there! I think the best part is that the apartment is all mine! For the first time, I will not have roommates!

I know this should be a Daring Baker's post but...the challenge this month was just not in the cards. I barely had time to cook, let alone make the delicious Danish Braid that is popping up all over the place. Instead, I have been keeping things simple with this yummy mango-avocado salsa. This time I paired it with this chicken and some rice. Some simple seared salmon or tilapia also tastes great with it. I also want to enter this in Meeta's Monthy Mingle of Mango Mania over at What's for Lunch Honey.


Ginny's Mango-Avocado Salsa

3 Mangos, diced
1 Red Onion, diced
2 Avocados, diced
3 Tomatoes, diced
2 cups cilantro, chopped

5 limes, juiced

1. Mix it all together and serve. Makes a really large bowl.

P.S. Many thanks to Canary Girl for passing along the I Love You This Much Award! Made my day!
I would like to pass it along to some excellent bloggers...

LyB of And then I do the dishes
Mark of No Special Effects
Susan of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy
Deborah of Taste and Tell
Peabody of Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Click Here for Recipe...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

An Attempt at Lotus Root Curry...


My boyfriend, J, and I are major dorks. Yes, I admitted it! When he suggested the idea of reading a book together this summer...I was quite excited! When was the last time you read a book and discussed it with someone? After much deliberation, we finally decided upon Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie.

Yesterday, J emailed me this passage....

"his wife grew lotus-roots and other curious vegetables on one of the
many 'floating gardens' lilting on the surface of the spring and summer
water" (9)

followed by a few links to recipes...

As a cook, you can imagine my reaction...yep, he's a keeper...so we decided upon a lotus root curry...

The recipe we used was from Chachi's Kitchen for Coconutty Lotus Root Curry. Unfortunately, the store was out of lotus root so we had to resort to frozen lotus root. There were also no kaffir lime leaves or Thai basil. We added some fresh basil that we had in the fridge. I know it really doesn't work but we were trying.

For our first attempt at curry, it wasn't exactly a disaster. J dubbed it "Ginny's Neon Beige Curry" because it glowed hot while still being bland. I would love to have some advice on how to best make curry because I am very interested in learning to cook out of my comfort zone.


Coconutty Lotus Root Curry
(original recipe from Chachi's Kitchen)

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion; sliced into rings
2 tbsp green curry paste (according to taste; available in Asian stores)
400ml/14fl oz can coconut milk
400gm lotus root, frozen
3 potatoes; washed and sliced into ½ inch rounds
½ cup basil leaves chopped
1 teaspoon of coriander, ground
1 lime; juiced

1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Fry the onions until golden brown, add the green curry paste over a fairly high heat for about a minute,
Reduce the heat slightly and add the thick part of the coconut milk from the tin, stir for a few minutes, add the rest of the coconut milk.

2. Add the lotus root and the coconut milk, bring to a simmer, cook for 15 minutes, add the potatoes, cook a further 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked and the sauce is thickened. Stir in the basil, coriander and lime juice.

Let it stand for 15 minutes, serve with rice.

P.S. Thank you MK for the beautiful platter! I love it!

Click Here for Recipe...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

California dreamin...

On such a summer day? It is finally summer and I find myself craving avocados alot. Last night as I was roaming the aisles of the grocery store, pondering what to make and searching for inspiration...I kept coming back to this comfort food sandwich that my mother makes quite frequently. The combination of the creamy avocado with the juicy grilled chicken breast is delicious. So I made it last night for dinner and again for lunch today. Problem is...I still want more avocado...

A couple weeks ago, Lore of Culinarty tagged me to write a 6 word memoir. Even as I sit here poised to write it, I am uncertain of what to say....

Exuberant
Critical (mostly of myself)
Thoughtful
Happy
Curious
Lucky

I am not going to tag anyone but if you are interested...consider yourself tagged!


Mom's California Sandwich

1 chicken breast
2 tablespoons of white worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 of an avocado, sliced
1 poppy seed bun
mayo to taste and preference

1. Marinate chicken breast for at least an hour with the worcestershire sauce and rosemary.
2. Grill chicken breast.
3. Toast bun.
4. Spread bun with mayo and place slices of avocado.
5.Top with Chicken Breast and top of bun.
6. Slice and eat!

P.S. As the summer takes off, so does my life. I am finishing my job, going to Ireland on vacation, moving to Chicago and starting law school...all the while trying to find as much time to spend with my friends and family as possible. This will limit my blogging but I will post when I have a chance...just a warning, if I go quiet, it is not for lack of thinking of you all...but life is getting busy. Of course, I will continue to read your posts because really nothing goes better with my morning coffee than a slew of tempting and mouthwatering dishes...

Click Here for Recipe...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Coconut Macaroons and a Cause!

More and more lately, I have been struggling to find the time to blog, as my life has gotten quite hectic with graduations, moving plans and vacation ideas. I try not to feel guilty about it but as I watch my google reader fill up with many posts of delicious, scrumptious food, I become sad. I feel neglectful of my duty as a fellow food blogger and friend. I miss reading and commenting on blogs. And this is often only after a few days...

One of the major benefits of starting a food blog has been the people I have "met." In only a few short months, I have developed relationships with my fellow bloggers. I look forward to reading their blogs and am concerned if they have not posted in a while. I want to know what is going on with their lives, both the good and the bad. I feel like I have become part of a community and I really value this experience.

I have been following Bri's Figs with Bri for quite some time now. When I heard that her cancer had returned, I felt this rush of sympathy for a woman, who I have never met and yet have gotten to "know" through her food and posts. As she fights for her life, she is also struggling to pay for the treatments. I remember when my aunt had cancer and as a family, we had fundraisers in order to help her pay for the necessary expenses. The food blogging community has rallied behind Bri and decided to help.

The Click team, together with Jugalbandi have organized a special fundraiser with June's edition of CLICK. With the help of many generous bloggers, a spectacular variety of prizes are being offered as part of the fundraiser.

CLICK is a monthly photography workshop hosted by Jugalbandi. This month’s theme is: YELLOW for Bri. Yellow is the color of hope. Through the work of the LiveStrong Foundation, it has also come to signify the fight against cancer.

If you are at all interested in supporting this campaign to help Bri, please visit here for more details.


Ah, the Macaroons. My family was in town this weekend for a huge family party in honor of my sister, brother and cousin. My sister and cousin have graduated college and next weekend my brother will be graduating from high school. Congratulations to you all!!!! I am very proud of you!!!!

My mother asked me to make something for the party, so I decided to use up all the coconut in the apartment by making a triple batch of macaroons. They turned out great but I do not think I would attempt to triple the recipe again. I managed to make a huge sticky sugary coconut mess. And thank you to my boyfriend for the beautiful flowers!

Coconut Macaroons
(adapted from here)

4 large eggs whites
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. In a heavy saucepan stir together the egg whites, the sugar, the salt, the vanilla, the coconut, and the flour.
2. Stir the mixture until it is combined well.
3. Cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, increase the heat to moderately high, and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes more, or until it is thickened and begins to pull away from the bottom and side of the pan.
4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, let it cool slightly, and chill it, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until it is just cold.
5. Roll about a tablespoon of the dough into a ball and place 2 inches apart onto buttered baking sheets.
6. Bake the macaroons in batches in the middle of a preheated 300°F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they are pale golden.
7. Transfer the macaroons to a rack and let them cool.
8. The macaroons keep, chilled and separated by layers of wax paper, in an airtight container for 3 days. (If the macaroons are made in advance, let them stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving).

P.S. I did not followed step 8 as it was written. I placed them on a plate, covered with plastic wrap and left them overnight on the counter. The macaroons still tasted excellent the next day. I wanted to cover them in chocolate but unfortunately did not have the time. Check out the original recipe, if you are interested in chocolate covered macaroons!

Click Here for Recipe...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daring Bakers May Challenge: White Chocolate Lavender "Opera" Cake!!!


When I saw this month's Daring Bakers Challenge, I was very excited! An opera cake! How thrilling! How delicious! How hard!

Chosen by the lovely ladies, Fran, Shea, Lis, and Ivonne, and dedicated to Barbara, these opera cakes had to be light in color and flavor instead of the typical chocolate and coffee. They decided this in order to support Barbara's Taste of Yellow event which advocates the LiveSTRONG foundation. I enjoyed the extra challenge, choosing a white chocolate and lavender opera cake. I did not have a jellyroll pan so I used regular pans. The challenge was fun! Definitely, one of my more labor and time intensive cakes. I was a little frustrated and impatient by the end. I did not let my glaze cool enough before pouring it on top, causing some of the mousse to go sliding off the top of the cake. But I covered my mistake with more glaze once it had cooled some more. The cake tasted great and even better the next day. The lavender was not too overpowering. I was very afraid it would taste like soap!

White Chocolate Lavender "Opera" Cake

Check out the recipe here.

White Chocolate Lavender Mousse

7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup heavy cream infused with 2 tablespoon lavender (adapted from here)
3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)

1. Bring a cup of heavy cream and 2 tablespoon lavender to a slight boil over low heat.
2. Remove from heat and allow to seep for 30 minutes.
3. Strain out the lavender and place in the fridge to cool
4. Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan.
5.Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.
6.In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.
7.Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.
8.If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable.
9.If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.

P.S. Check out the rest of the Daring Bakers creations.

Click Here for Recipe...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Spoils of Packing...

Last week, as part of my sister's graduation weekend of celebration and fun, we also had the unfortunate but necessary duty to move her out of her apartment. So, all of last Monday, we sorted, boxed, threw out and packed the last four years of her life.

At one point, my sister asked me to go through the pantry and throw out her leftover food. I cringed at the thought but unfortunately, it didn't make sense to ship it all back home. Well, when I opened it up to see boxes and boxes of unopened rice pilaf, couscous and pasta, there was no way that I was going to let it all go to waste. I grabbed an old Victoria Secret shopping bag and went shopping.

She even had a couple cans of Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip icing! I am definitely a baking purist but a Funfetti cupcake with Rainbow Chip icing is my favorite half-birthday treat. This past February, I discovered that you can not find Rainbow Chip icing anywhere around here. But up in Boston, my sister was squandering two whole cans! My roommates were very excited to see me come home with this loot. I somehow miraculously managed to squeeze it all into my suitcase. I also nabbed a pair of her "old" jeans and they look absolutely awesome on me!

This dish, I came up with last night when I was looking over my spoils and what was about to spoil in the fridge. I do not normally buy anything that has a flavor packet because I enjoy making my own. This couscous had real pine nuts in the flavor packet so I thought I would try it. Turned out really well for a quick dinner!


Couscous with Mushroom, Spinach, and Goat Cheese

1 box of Pine Nut of Couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups sliced Mushrooms
2 cups Spinach
1 cup Goat Cheese

1. Prepare the Couscous as directed.
2. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil.
3. Saute the Mushrooms and Spinach. Cover with a lid for about 5 minutes to wilt the spinach.
4. Stir the cooked mushrooms and spinach into the couscous. Crumble the goat cheese into the mixture.

P.S. Next time, I think I would add some sundried tomatoes and more pine nuts to jazz up the couscous a little more.

Click Here for Recipe...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Taste and Create Part 2: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day


For my second recipe for Taste and Create IV from Veronica's La Recette du Jour, I made Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Although, I never thought I would get caught up in the no-knead bread fad...I have! I love having fresh bread! This makes it possible more frequently. There is also the extra benefit of not angering my roommates by covering the kitchen with flour. No matter how hard I try to clean up...we still find flour in the oddest places!

When I saw this recipe, I was excited because Veronica said it was possible to mix it up, throw it in the fridge and pull out a bit when you want some fresh bread! So, I tried it and I am very happy with the results. I am thinking about throwing in another loaf right now. Veronica gives her readers some excellent advice and tips, especially if you are not cooking in America. I was lucky on this one as the recipe was written in cups and based on the flour I can get here. She recommended using a pizza stone and not worrying about using an oven thermometer. I took both tips and it work well! Delicious!

And now for a tag and award...

Elle of Elle's New England Kitchen tagged me with"Look What I Made." Started by Farida at Farida's Azerbaijani Cookbook, I was asked to make a list of recipes I have made from other blogs. I love this tag because it is great to see what other recipes people have tried.

1.
Butterscotch Mascarpone Cream Layer Cake from Tartelette
2.
Pasta & corn salad with red bell pepper sauce from Kitchen Unplugged
3. Chicken Pot Pie with Cilantro Biscuits from Wandering Chopsticks
4. Chocolate Tribute Cake from Veronica's Test Kitchen
5. Chubble* Bread from To be Mrs. Marv…

My tags....
1. Susan of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy
2. Lore of Culinarty
3. Veggie Girl
4. Kristin of The Pearl Onion
5. Nemmie of Cast Sugar

Sylvie of A Pot of Tea and Biscuit bestowed this wonderful award upon me. Thank you so much Sylvie! It made my day!

I struggled to figure out who to award this to, as I read so many worthy blogs, but finally decided upon...

1. Kevin of Closet Cooking
2. Jen of Use Real Butter
3.

You all have excellent blogs and I look forward to reading them everyday!!!

Simple Crusty Bread

Adapted from “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007)

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough

Cornmeal.

1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pan sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.

4. Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.

P.S. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Click Here for Recipe...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Taste and Create Part 1: Rocket Mousselines!


Don't you just hate it when real life gets in way of your blogging? This past week has been very hectic and busy...I have barely had a chance to read a few blogs here and there let alone do something for my own.

Last weekend, my sister graduated from college. I met my family in Boston for a long weekend of eating, drinking, and some more eating. It was a really fun weekend but when I got back late Monday evening, I was exhausted and sick of eating so many large meals. I decided to take a couple more days off. Tonight, I finally found my desire to cook again and just in time for the event Taste and Create IV. This month I was paired with Veronica of La Recette du Jour. My job was to look over this beautiful blog, pick some recipes to try and report back. After much reading and deliberating, I decided upon two...the Rocket Mousselines and Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

When I was living in Rome, my friends and I would see Rocket on the menu but, showing our American ignorance, had no idea what it was. Eventually, we ordered some pizza with Rocket and discovered that Rocket is Arugula!

I really liked this recipe because it seemed like a perfect light dinner. I struggled a little bit with converting the gram measurements (I really do need to invest in a scale) but I think it turned out great. Also, I halved the recipe and it made two ramekins. I took Veronica's suggestion pairing it with a salad and drizzled with a lemon vinaigrette. Delicious! Exactly what I was craving!

Check out La Racette du Jour's recipe for Rocket Mousselines

Arugula Mousselines

1 cup arugula leaves
1/2 cup soft cheese such as ricotta or goat's cheese
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 egg
1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan
fresh basil (about 6 large leaves)
salt, pepper, nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 320 F.
2. Bring a pan of water to the boil and have ready a bowl of iced water.
3. Throw the rocket into the boiling water, blanch for 30 seconds, drain, and immediately tip into the bowl of iced water.
4. Food process the eggs, cream, and cheese with the seasonings.
5. Squeeze out the rocket, add to the liquidizer with the basil and parmesan, and mix again.
6. Pour the mixture into buttered muffin tins or ramekins and bake for 25-30 minutes until set.
7. Turn out onto plates and serve warm.


P.S. Check out my post on Saturday for Veronica's Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Click Here for Recipe...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Confessions of a Food Blogger...


My boyfriend jokingly commented that I've been eating like a five year old lately. So what if I have been making Kraft mac and cheese, ordering pizza and having peanut butter sandwiches? I am an adult and I can do what I want...Ginny whines, stomping her foot.

Yes, I know, I just wrote a post about trying to be more healthy but then I hit a few stressful days and found myself reaching for some quick comfort food. I had no inspiration to cook so I relied on some old favorites.

Before this short diet derailment, I had challenged myself by trying to make dinner without the use of olive oil or butter...yes, maybe, I should get a life but culinary games are so much fun. Recently, I made Allen of Eating Out Loud's Citrus Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables served with seared scallops and some roasted salmon. It was absolutely fabulous! I highly recommend making it! This left me with some leftover red onion and asparagus. I decided to caramelize them with some balsamic and put it over my latest favorite find, Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend with Israeli Style Couscous, Orzo, Baby Garbanzo Beans, and Red Quinoa. I am sending this over to Ruth's Presto Pasta Night. Check it out for more great pasta ideas!

And please do not stop reading my blog because I eat Kraft mac and cheese occasionally. With the Spiderman shapes, how can you resist? We all have our secret anti-foodie pleasure. Actually, what is yours?

Balsamic Asparagus and Red Onion Pasta

1/2 bunch Asparagus (chopped into small 1 in pieces)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 pound of pasta

1. Spray frying pan with Pam and throw in the crushed red pepper.
2. Saute asparagus and red onion in the frying pan.
3. Mix in balsamic vinegar and cover with a lid to steam the vegetables. When they are tender and carmalized, remove from heat and mix with pasta.

P.S. I sprinkled some shredded mozzarella over it because I wanted something a little gooey. I wish I had some goat cheese instead as it would have added a good flavor to it. Michelle over at Tarheel Table just made a Pasta with grilled chicken and vegetables with a goat cheese sauce that would be great with something like this.

Click Here for Recipe...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Free and "Healthy" Chocolate? I'll take it!


When I stumbled across Blake's of Blake Makes group of taste testing food bloggers, the Sooper Heroes, I couldn't wait to join. If a food company wanted to send me some free food to taste and test, I would gladly give it a shot. I love trying anything new and different. Last week as I was walking out of my apartment, I stumbled across the cutest little box of CHOCOLATE!!!! My first give-a-way had come!!! Amano Artisan Chocolate had sent me three bars of high quality delicious chocolate. For this chocolate lover, I was hooked...

But then, I stared at the bars, Ocumare, Madagascar, and Cuyagua. They just stared back at me, threatening me to destroy my healthy pledge and devour them in all one sitting. I could not decide how to go about this...should I research how to preform an official taste test and get my roommates involved? But wait one does not like dark chocolate and the other went home for the weekend... Ok, should I bake something with them? I had been looking at an amazing brioche recipe that besides the three sticks of butter would not be that bad...oh, yes, healthy! But then, as I find happens often in blogging world, I stumbled across the perfect post...the fabulous Mandy from Fresh from the Oven wrote and beautifully photographed about her Almond and Dark Chocolate Granola...I knew what I would make!

Lately, I have been making a huge effort to become healthier. I started working out more regularly and modified my diet a little bit. I've managed to lose some weight, feeling overall healthier and happier. My diet, however, could still use some work. Although, I tend to eat with moderation, I have my days of gluttony. Thankfully, dark chocolate is supposed to be very healthy and thus a perfect addition to a granola. Honestly, I just googled "dark chocolate"...try it! The first four website are links to article proclaiming the health benefits of dark chocolate. I mean, if the internet says it, it must be true!

Of course, my final problem was which of the bars to use or maybe a mixture of the three. So, I took a piece of each and determined which I liked the best. I found Cayagua to be very mild and smooth dark chocolate. The Madagscar was the strongest and fruitiest. The Ocumare was strong but not too powerful and definitely my favorite. The chocolate really is delicious! I chopped up the Cayagua for the granola since I did not want something too overpowering for my next couple breakfasts. I really like it! Thank you Mandy for the idea, Amano for the chocolate and Blake for the creating the Sooper Heroes!

Almond and Dark Chocolate Granola
(adapted from Mandy of Fresh from the Oven and inspired by this recipe)

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
2 tbsp light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
5 tbsp mild honey
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 block of 3.5oz 70% chocolate or more, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 300°F.
In a food processor, coffee grinder or blender, grind half the oats to a fine powder.

In a large bowl, combine the grinded oats, oats, almonds, brown sugar, and salt. Stir well to blend.

Zap the honey, maple syrup and oil over in the microwave for 15 seconds –until the honey is loose, this should not take long, about 15 seconds. Pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to combine well.

Spread the mixture evenly on an oiled baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden. Stirring the granola half way through for even baking. When it’s ready, remove the pan from the oven, stir well – this will keep it from cooling into a hard, solid sheet – and cool completely.

When cool, transfer the granola to a large bowl, storage jar, or zipper-lock plastic bag. Add the chocolate, and stir (or shake, if using a jar or bag) to mix.

Makes about 5 cups.

P.S. Check out Mandy's blog Fresh from the Oven. She is a wonderful baker and a fantastic photographer!

Click Here for Recipe...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Yodeling for Swiss Chard by My Mom


My introduction to Swiss chard was during a Sunday dinner at my future in-laws' home when I was about 16. There was the homemade sauce and pasta, meatballs, a roast, and a bowl of cooked, green, leafy vegetables that looked sort of like spinach. I asked what it was and my future father-in-law said, "It's Swiss chard. Eat some and it will clear up your face". I don't even remember if I tasted it at that time. But years later when I was married, my husband and I bought our first house and we planted a vegetable garden that included Swiss chard.

What is Swiss about Swiss chard? We lived in Switzerland for several years and I don't recall seeing any there. I've done some research to find that Swiss chard is so named because the Swiss botanist, Koch, determined the scientific name of the plant in the 19th century and the name honors his homeland. Swiss chard originates in the Mediterranean area specifically Sicily. If you check out Italian cookbooks, there are always recipes that use Swiss chard. My copy of the first Marcella Hazan has three different recipes, one for a tortellini filling, one for the stalks with parmesan, and the other for a cold salad of the cooked leaves.

According to the World's Healthiest Foods website, Swiss chard is the "valedictorian" of vegetables because it is so low in calories and rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, etc, although there was no mention that it cleared up acne! It's been around for a long time and was used medicinally by the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Botanically, Swiss chard is a member of the beet and spinach family and is very easy to grow. It is hardy to about 20 degrees F so you can sow the seed in the fall for an early spring crop. To harvest, pick the outer leaves of the plant and it will keep on producing throughout the growing season. I like the small leaves because they are tender. When the leaves get bigger then the stalk gets tougher much like celery. In that case, you can boil the stalks for about 10 minutes and then add the leaves. The Swiss chard available in the stores is often organically grown in California and has red, orange, or yellow stalks and veins and is called "Rainbow Chard".

All this brings me to my entry for the "Dollar Dish Duel". Some years ago on a cold, February Lenten Friday, I was trying to think of a meatless dinner. Before going to the grocery store, I took a walk around the yard and there in the vegetable garden was some beautiful Swiss chard, the first of the year. I picked a bowlful and cleaned it and then the following recipe was born.

-Ginny's Mom


CECI 'N CHARD


3 tablespoonfuls olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 can ceci (pronounced "chaychee", AKA chickpeas, garbanzo beans)
1 bunch of Swiss chard
1 cup vegetable broth (use a bouillon cube dissolved in a cup of boiling water)
1 lb of spaghetti
grated cheese either romano or parmesan

Warm the oil in a large skillet. Mince the garlic and cook in the oil. Drain the ceci well and add to the pan. Cook for a few minutes stirring often. Wash the Swiss chard thoroughly . Discard the stalks if overly large and tough. Chop into large pieces and add to the pan. Saute for a few minutes. Pour the vegetable broth into the pan, bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer and cover.

Cook the spaghetti and drain. Arrange the pasta on a platter. Pour the ceci and chard mixture over the pasta. Serve with grated cheese.

Cost of the dish:
The spaghetti was 0.88, the Swiss chard was 2.99, the can of ceci was 0.60 for a total of $4.47. The pantry staples were the bouillon cube, the olive oil and the garlic. That leaves only 0.53 for grated cheese. However, this dish will serve 4 to 6 persons and if you grow the chard in the garden then it's really cheap!!

BUON APPETITO!

P.S. Ginny here...time for The Dollar Dish Duel WINNER!!!!! My judges had a very difficult decision, as all the dollar dishes were excellent, but I think they were all up to the challenge. Just to let everyone know, I did not tell them anything about the entries until the round-up went up on Tuesday, in hopes of keeping them impartial. They read every blog entry and made their decision. The winner of the first Dollar Dish Duel is Kristin of the Pearl Onion for her Soft Boiled Egg Prosciutto with Rustic Toast. She will receive The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider. Thank you again for participating!!! Also, thank you to my mother for the wonderful post!!! and my father for the delicious photo! Happy early Mother's Day!!!!

Click Here for Recipe...