Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Change has Come

My blog has moved - to a place with more flexibility and support.


I'll leave this version up, but I also moved all the posts for your convenience.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Fire and Ice Salad

Tomato and cucumber salad - one of my favorites.  Cool, refreshing and that bite of vinegar! Never before has it had a kick, though and this one fits the bill. Quite colorful and inviting for the eyes as well, this salad was a huge hit at our barbecue yesterday and I was thrilled to have a little bit to bring home for lunch today. Don't let it sit for too long as the tomatoes will turn to mush, but I don't think it will last very long - it'll be devoured.

Adapted from Cook's Country Magazine
Yields 6 to 8 servings
1/2 Cup vinegar, white wine 
1 Tbls sugar, white 
2 tsp salt, Kosher 
1 tsp mustard, dry 
1/2 tsp celery salt 
1/4 tsp pepper, crushed red 
1/8 tsp pepper, black, ground 
2 Pounds tomatoes, red, fresh cored, cut in 1/2-in wedges
2 Large cucumbers peeled, sliced, 1/4-in thick
1 Large bell pepper, yellow or orange seeded, sliced in matchsticks
1 Medium onion, red halved, sliced thin

Tools Needed:

Whisk together vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard, celery salt, and peppers in a large bowl. Add tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper and onion and toss to combine. 

Refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Serve. 

Triple Oreo Madness Cupcakes

Who doesn't love Oreos? The best of both worlds - vanilla and chocolate all in one cookie. Whether you eat it straight up, or split it apart and eat it in pieces, it's America's cookie.

They keep churning our imitations and fancy new variations (cookie dough was a travesty), but you cannot mess with the classic Oreo. I'll even take a Double Stuff once in a while.

So I've turned it into the ultimate decadence - a cupcake with more Oreo than you may be able to stand.

Yields 24 cupcakes
24 Each cookies, oreos halved w/ cream filling attached (reserve other cookie)
2 1/4 Cups flour, all-purpose 
1 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt, table 
8 Tbls Crisco, butter-flavored sticks 
1 2/3 Cup sugar, white 
3 Large egg white at room temperature
2 tsp extract, vanilla 
1 Cup milk, skim 
20 Each cookies, oreos quartered
24 Each cookies, oreo minis

Tools Needed: 
OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop
Farberware 52106 Nonstick Bakeware 12-Cup Muffin Pan
Wilton Disposable 16-Inch Decorating Bags, 12 Pack
Oasis Supply No.1A Round Decorating Tip, Large

Preheat the oven to 350. 

Line the wells of two cupcake pans with 24 paper liners. Place an Oreo halve in the bottom of each liner, cream side up. 

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir together with a fork to blend and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Blend in the egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

Blend in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Add the milk and beat just until combined, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Gently fold in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated, being careful not to over-mix. 

Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

While baking, pulverize the reserved cookies in a food processor until a fine powder.

Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired. Sprinkle with Oreo crumbs* and garnish with Mini Oreos.

Cookies & Cream Frosting: (optional) 
8 Ounce(wt)s cheese, cream regular at room temperature 
6 Tbls butter, unsalted at room temperature 
1 Tbls extract, vanilla
4 Cups sifted sugar, powdered
2 Tbls cream, heavy

Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla extract. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream to the bowl and beat on medium-low speed just until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip for 4 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

*If you like, fold in the cookie crumbs (instead of sprinkling on top of the cupcakes) to make a true cookies and cream frosting.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Onion Dip from Scratch

We all remember that onion dip our mom's made with the container of sour cream and a packet of onion soup mix - we thought it was the greatest thing to have at a party.  You can admit it.

Then came Alton Brown and he figured out a way to make it from scratch and my whole world was turned upside-down - how could it be better?

Well, after a few times making it and then being challenged to even approve upon that - this is the ultimate, cannot stop eating it EVER dip. A must-have at every party.

Yields 2 to 3 cups
Adapted from Alton Brown, Good Eats

2 Tbls oil, extra virgin olive 
1 1/2 Cup onion, yellow or Vidalia (when in season) diced
4 cloves garlic, fresh, minced 
1/4 tsp salt, Kosher 
16 oz sour cream (1 lb container)
3/4 Cups mayonnaise 
1/4 tsp garlic powder 
1/4 tsp onion powder 
1/4 tsp pepper, white, ground 
1/2 tsp salt, Kosher 

Tools Needed:

In a saute pan over medium heat add oil, heat and garlic. Let begin to sizzle and lighten in color - do not let brown.  Then add onions and salt. Cook the onions with the garlic until they are caramelized, about 20 minutes.  Do not be afraid to let them cook longer, if needed. They need to brown and get some dark edges, but do not let them burn.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool. 

Mix the rest of the ingredients, and then add the cooled onions. 

Refrigerate for at least an hour and stir again before serving.

Chef's Note: If you can resist, let this sit in the fridge overnight to let the flavors really meld. The dry spices will soften and the onion flavor will permeate the dip and you will wonder how you were ever satisfied with the powdered mix growing up.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Breaded Chicken Thighs with Angry Cuke Salad

From Garnish & Gather
Yields 4 servings

4 Each chicken thighs, boneless, skinless 
1 Cup yogurt, Greek, plain 
1 tsp pepper, crushed red 
1 Cup flour, all purpose
1/2 Cup cornmeal, yellow 
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1/2 Tbls onion powder 
1/2 Tbls thyme, dried 
1 Large egg, whole 
To taste salt and pepper 
oil, olive cooking spray 

For Salad:
1/2 Cup yogurt, Greek, plain 
1 Tbls mustard, dijon 
1/2 Cup Doux South Angry Cukes sliced drained, brine reserved (*you can use dill pickles)
2 Cups cucumbers 
1/4 Pound green beans 
1/4 Pound radish 
1 Tbls basil, fresh chiffonade
2 Tbls oil, extra virgin olive 
To taste salt and pepper 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray roasting pan with cooking spray to prevent sticking. 

Bring a medium pot of water to boil for the green beans. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the 1 cup of greek yogurt, egg, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes. In a separate dish, mix together the flour, cornmeal, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, salt and pepper and mix well. 

Dredge the chicken thighs in the breading mixture, then the yogurt mixture then again in the breading mixture. Place into a prepared roasting pan. 

Bake chicken for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping half way during cooking time, until cooked through. 

For the salad: 
Finely chop the pickles (Angry Cukes if you can get them), reserving 1 tablespoon of the brine to use in the dressing. 

Peel, seed and small dice the cucumbers. 

Thinly slice, then roughly chop the radishes. 

Dice the green beans and cook in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes, until bright green but still crisp, then drain and run under cool water or in an ice bath to stop cooking. 

Assemble all veggies. 

In a small bowl, combine the 1/2 cup yogurt, Dijon, olive oil, brine, salt and pepper. Whisk until combines and toss with the veggies. Add basil and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Lindy's Lemon Bars

From Lindy Sparks Ruffin
Yields 24 bars

1 Cup butter, unsalted 
1/2 Cup sugar, powdered plus some for dusting
2 Cups flour, all-purpose 
4 Large egg, whole slightly beaten
2 Cups sugar, white 
4 tsp juice, lemon 
4 tsp flour, all-purpose 
2 tsp zest, lemon 
1 tsp baking powder 

Tools Needed:
Pyrex Grip-Rite 2-Quart Oblong Baking Dish, Clear

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine butter, powdered sugar and 1 cup flour; cut fine with pastry blender. Pour into 9x13-inch glass baking dish. Press in bottom until flat all over. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Should not be brown. 

Mix eggs, sugar, juice, remaining flour, zest and baking powder and pour over baked crust. (While still hot).

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar immediately and let cool completely before trying to cut into them or they will NOT set up.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Superfudge Brownies

From Ben and Jerry's
Yields 12 servings (24 brownies)

4 Ounce(wt)s chocolate, baking, unsweetened 
1/2 Cup butter 
4 Each egg, whole room temperature
1/2 tsp salt 
2 Cups sugar, white 
1 tsp extract, vanilla 
1 Cup flour, all-purpose unsifted

Optional Ingredients:
1 Cup walnuts, English chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish. 

Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave or on top of a double boiler. Let cool to room temperature. If you are in a hurry, you can quickly cool the mixture in the refrigerator, but be sure it doesn't get solid again. 

Beat the eggs, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl until very fluffy; add vanilla and mix to combine. Fold in the cooled chocolate mixture. Add the flour and fold just until blended. Carefully stir in the walnuts. (it is important to fold in chocolate, flour and nuts gently to keep the batter as fluffy as possible). 
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan completely before cutting. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lemon Blueberry Tiramisu Trifle

Yields 8 servings

1/4 Cup juice, lemon 
1/4 Cup sugar, white 
8 Ounce(wt)s cheese, cream light softened
1 recipe of Lemon curd (below)
2 Cups cream, heavy 
24 Each ladyfingers, crisp 
2 Pints blueberries 

Tools Needed:

Lemon Curd (adapted from Martha Stewart):
3 Large strained egg yolk
1/2 Large lemon, zested
1/4 Cup juice, lemon
6 Tbls sugar, white
4 Tbls cold, cut into pieces butter, unsalted

Lemon Curd Directions:
Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Whisk to combine. Set over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, making sure to stir sides and bottom of pan. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes. 

Remove saucepan from heat. Add butter, one piece at a time, stirring with the wooden spoon until consistency is smooth. 

Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to avoid a skin from forming; wrap tightly. Let cool; refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour. Store refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 days.

Trifle Directions: 
In a small measuring cup, mix the lemon juice with the sugar and 1/4 cup water until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside. 

Place the cream cheese, lemon curd and heavy cream in a food processor and process until smooth and a bit fluffy. 

To assemble the tiramisu, place 1/3 the ladyfingers in the bottom of a trifle dish, breaking a few to fit, if needed, and drizzle with 1/3 of the lemon syrup. Top with 1/3 the lemon cream and 1/3 of the berries. Repeat the layers twice, topping with the remaining berries. 

Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 8 hours or overnight.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Scarpetta Braised Short Ribs

From Scott Conant, Scarpetta, New York, NY
Yields 4 servings

Serve over Farro and Vegetable Risotto

4 Pounds beef, short ribs 
Salt, Kosher 
Pepper, black, ground 
Oil, extra virgin olive 
1 Cup carrot chopped
1 Cup celery chopped
1 Cup onion, yellow chopped
10 Cloves garlic, fresh coarsely chopped
3/4 Cups wine, dry red 
1/2 Cup vinegar, balsamic 
14 Ounce(wt)s tomatoes, diced 
2 Cups stock, chicken reduction* 
4 Sprigs thyme, fresh 
2 Sprigs rosemary, fresh 

Chef's Note: There is a brand you can use (available at Whole Foods) called Glace de Poulet Gold by More Than Gourmet.  Or, you can reduce 4 cups of Chicken Stock on the stove by half. 

Tools Needed:
Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 7-1/4-Quart Round French Oven, Cherry

Heat the oven to 325 degrees (or a convection oven to 300 degrees). 

Season the short ribs all over with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a deep, heavy-based Dutch oven or similar pot over medium-high heat. Add the ribs - in 2 batches if they don't fit in the pot in a single layer - and sear on all sides until well-browned all over. 

Remove the short ribs, wipe out the pan, and add more oil to coat the pan. Add the carrot, celery, onion, and garlic to the pot, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the red wine and the vinegar and cook, stirring and scraping up the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced by half. 

Add the tomatoes, Chicken Reduction, thyme, and rosemary. Return the short ribs to the pot, bring the liquid to a boil, cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook, turning ribs once, until the ribs are fork-tender and the meat is just barely clinging to the bone, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. 

Remove the ribs from the cooking liquid, then strain and reserve the liquid. 

Use a large spoon or ladle to remove as much of the clear fat floating on top of the cooking liquid as possible. (If you are making the ribs ahead, you can remove the fat more easily once the cooking liquid has cooled. Refrigerate the ribs in their cooking liquid, and then remove the hardened fat from the top.) Cook the defatted sauce over medium-high heat until it has reduced somewhat, becoming thicker and more flavorful. (The ribs can be made 2 days ahead; let cool to room temperature, and then cover and refrigerate the ribs in the braising liquid. Reheat gently to serve.) 

Reheat the ribs in the reduced braising liquid in a 300 degree oven (325 for a conventional oven).

Farro and Vegetable Risotto

From Scott Conant, Scarpetta, New York, NY
Yields 6 servings

Serve with Scarpetta Braised Short Ribs

Salt, Kosher 
3/4 Cups farro 
Oil, extra virgin olive 
1/2 Cup carrot 1/4-inch diced
Pepper, crushed red 
1/2 Cup squash, yellow 1/4-inch diced
1/2 Cup squash, zucchini 1/4-inch diced
1 1/2 Cup stock, chicken, low-sodium warmed
2 Tbls butter, unsalted 
2 Tbls cheese, Parmesan, grated 
Pepper, black, ground 
1 Cup tomatoes, red grape cut in half
1/4 Cup onion, green sliced, optional

Tools Needed:
Cuisinart 622-30G Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Skillet with Glass Cover

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the farro, lower the heat to a gentle boil, and cook until chewy but no longer hard, about 15 minutes. Drain and spread the farro out on a rimmed baking sheet to cool evenly. 

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and season with salt and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add the squash and zucchini. Season again and cook, adding additional oil, if needed and stirring, until the vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve. 

In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the farro and 1/2 cup of the stock and bring to a boil, stirring, until the broth is almost completely absorbed, about 4 minutes. (Do not let the pot become completely dry.) Add another 1/2 cup stock, stirring, until the pan is almost dry. Season with a little salt, then add the remaining 1/2 cup stock and the sautéed vegetables. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. 

Take the pan off the heat and stir in the butter. Add the cheese and stir, shaking the pan to help release the starch. Season with salt, a tiny pinch of crushed red pepper, and a few grinds of black pepper. Cover the pot and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and scallions and season to taste. 

To serve, spoon onto plates, top with short ribs and ladle braising liquid over the top.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Slow Cooker Garden Minestrone

Yields 8 servings
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

1 Large onion, white minced
4 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1 Tbls oil, extra virgin olive plus extra for serving
1 1/2 tsp oregano, fresh minced
1/8 tsp pepper, crushed red 
6 Cups stock, vegetable OR chicken, low-sodium 
15 Ounce(wt)s sauce, tomato 
6 1/2 Ounce(wt)s beans, great northern, dried picked over
2 Large carrots peeled, cut in 1/2-in pieces
1 Large squash, zucchini 1/4 length, slice 1/4-in thick
8 Ounce(wt)s Swiss chard stemmed, leaves sliced 1/2-in
1/2 Cup pasta, ditalini 
1/2 Cup basil, fresh minced
1 to taste salt and pepper 
1 to taste cheese, parmesan, grated for serving 

Tools Needed:
Crock-Pot SCVT650-PS 6-1/2-Quart Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel
Cuisinart 622-30G Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Skillet with Glass Cover

Salt soak the beans: Pick through and rinse the beans. For every pound of beans, dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in 2 quarts of boiling water . Combine the beans and the hot salt water in a large pot and let the beans soak at room temperature for 1 hour. Drain the beans, discarding the soaking liquid, and rinse well before cooking. 

Microwave onion, garlic, oil, oregano, and red pepper flakes in bowl, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker. 

Stir broth, tomato sauce, soaked beans, and carrots into slow cooker. Cover and cook until beans are tender, 9 to 11 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high. 

Stir in zucchini, chard, and pasta, cover and cook on high until vegetables and pasta are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in basil, salt & pepper to taste and serve with Parmesan cheese and extra olive oil.

Serve with: Rosemary Onion Focaccia

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Slow Cooker Farmhouse Chicken and Corn Chowder

Yields 6 servings

Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

2 Slices bacon, uncooked minced
4 tsp oil, vegetable 
2 Large onion, white minced
6 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1 Tbls tomato paste 
2 tsp thyme, fresh minced
1/4 Cup flour, all-purpose 
5 Cups stock, chicken, low-sodium 
1 Pound potatoes, small red scrubbed, cut in 1/2-in chunks
1 Large carrot peeled, sliced 1/4-in thick
2 Each bay leaves 
1 1/2 Pound chicken thighs, boneless, skinless trimmed
1 to taste salt and pepper 
1 Large bell pepper, red seeded, cut in 1/2-in pieces
14 3/4 Ounce(wt)s corn, creamed, canned 
1/2 Cup cream, heavy 
2 tsp pepper, chipotle, canned minced
3 Tbls basil, fresh minced 

Tools Needed:
Crock-Pot SCVT650-PS 6-1/2-Quart Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel
Cuisinart 622-30G Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Skillet with Glass Cover

Cook bacon in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove bacon from pan.  Stir in 1 tablespoon oil and onions and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, tomato paste, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in 2 cups stock, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker. 

Stir remaining 3 cups stock, potatoes, carrot, bacon, and bay leaves into slow cooker. Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 6 hours on low. 

Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces. Let soup settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon; discard bay leaves. 

Microwave bell pepper with remaining teaspoon oil in bowl, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. 

In separate bowl, microwave cream corn until hot, about 3 minutes. 

Stir softened peppers, hot creamed corn, shredded chicken, heavy cream, and chipotles into soup and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in basil, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.