Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sea bream meunière

So good. So fast.

2 sea bream fillets (about 3/4 inch thick)
pinch black pepper
pinch salt
1 tsp flour
2 tsp butter
fresh lemon juice

Pat fish dry, and sprinkle both sides with black pepper and salt. Sprinkle with flour. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add fish to pan, and cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Carefully turn fish over. Cook 4 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve hot.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Baked squash spring rolls

This was idea number 2 in the series 'How to use spring roll leftover wrappers'. Definitely a keeper. So good, and quick to make for lunch, appetizers or a snack. The filling is very versatile and you could play around with it according to what you have on hand. Shredded vegetables, herb for flavor, something creamy like the cheese and crème fraîche, and a little bit of bacon, ham or sausage for flavor.

2 small yellow squash, grated
2 small zucchini, grated
2 Tbsp chopped onion
2 Tbsp lardons (cubes of bacon)
freshly ground pepper
1 round goat cheese, crumbled
3-4 Tbsp cup crème fraîche (sour cream)
8-10 basil leaves, snipped

Frozen spring roll wrappers (egg-based, not rice), thawed

Cook the lardons with the onion in a frying pan over medium heat. Once the lardon have shrunk and the fat has cooked out, add the shredded zucchini. Cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain off the liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in crumbled goat cheese, crème fraîche and basil. This is your filling. It should hold together and not be runny. If it is, drain off the liquid.

Separate one spring roll wrapper from the stack. Scoop just under 1/4 cup of the filling onto one of the corners. Roll as shown in the video. Place on a baking stone or baking sheet, being sure the end is ucked underneath. Repeat until filling is used up.

Bake in preheated oven at 350° for 15 minutes. The edges will brown lightly and the wrappers will become crispy. Serve hot... maybe with Dijon mustard.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sweet & spicy winter squash seeds

2 cups pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
6-8 drops hot pepper sauce

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Stir together the pumpkin seeds and butter in a bowl. Add the salt, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and hot pepper sauce, then stir. Spread the seeds in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven at 300° until crispy, about 30-45 minutes. (Be careful not to overbake!)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Roasted vegetable soup - oh yum!

So, so easy. And vegetablicious. My new favorite soup for autumn.

1 cup puréed roasted vegetables
1/2-3/4 cup water
dash salt or tiny sprinkle of chicken bouillon
toasted walnuts (optional)

Stir and heat slowly. Top with walnuts.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Vietnamese nems (with video!)

The beauty of nems, other than their deliciousness, is that they are so versatile. You can use many combinations in the filling. We made vegetarian nems using chickpeas, lentils and tofu. (I hear mung beans are good too.) But you can also use ground pork, chicken or shrimp, add in corn, peas or tarrow root, and even season them with curry. Have fun!

60-80 spring roll wrappers (egg based)
1/4 bag of vermicelli (glass) noodles
4 zucchini, shredded
4-6 carrots, shredded
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cups cooked, cooled lentils
1 lg can chickpeas, drained
1 package firm tofu, crumbled
1 egg + 1 egg yolk

Serve with nem sauce, mint leaves and/or green onions, and lettuce leaves for wrapping.

Dry vermicelli noodles

Soak the dried vermicelli noodles in cold water until soft, about 15 minutes. (You can break them if too large for your bowl.)

While the vermicelli soaks, you can grate the carrots and zucchini and whop the onion, placing them in a very, very large bowl, or dividing equally among several large bowls.

Soaked vermicelli

Drain the noodles.

Using kitchen scissors, cut the noodles into pieces about 4 inches long.

Using your hands, mix the noodles with the grated vegetables.

Firm organic tofu

Crumble the tofu, then mix in well. Don't be afraid to get elbow-deep!

Stir in cooked lentils, drained chickpeas, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, mixing well. Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed. When seasoning is good, add one egg (serves as a binder) and mix well. Fun, right? :)

These spring roll wrapper are MUCH easier to use than the rice based papers that have to be soaked individually. Plus, I think these have a much better taste and texture.

A lovely video of our expert showing us how to roll them. Once rolled, stack them on a plate. (Don't worry - they don't stick like the rice paper ones.)

Fry in batches, being careful not to crowd them in the pan. We fried ours on medium-high and it took about 10 minutes per batch. If you use meat, you need to be very careful to fry them long enough to cook through.

Place cooked nems on a plate lined with paper towels and serve hot.

If you want to freeze them, allow to cool completely on a cooling rack. Use wax paper to separate them and place in a freezer bag. To reheat, place frozen nems on a baking sheet and place in the oven as it preheats to 350°. Once oven is hot, cook 5-10 minutes until crispy.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Peaches and cream oatmeal

The perfect way to use the last of summer's peaches in fall's best breakfast

1 cup cooked oatmeal
1 Tbsp cream
1 peach, chopped
Maple syrup

While the oatmeal is still very hot, spoon in the cream and maple syup to taste, stir in peaches. Serve warm.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ugly beet and avocado salad

Ugly... but delicious! Creamy, sweet, and just a little crunch.

1 avocado, scooped out
1 roasted beet, cubed
1 wedge lemon

Toss avocado and beet in a bowl. Squeeze lemon over top and voilà!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Roasted vegetables

Unbelievably good and simple. I made this as basic as possible with the intention of using the roasted vegetables for other recipes... coming soon! You could also use parsnips, sweet potatoes or rutabagas, but try to keep a 1 part white veg : 1 part orange veg ratio.

3 onions, peeled and cut into quarters
3 turnips, peeled and cubed
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 big wedge orange winter squash, peeled and cubed (should be a larger amount than turnips)
1 tsp olive oil

Pour oil into a large baking dish (preferably glass or ceramic) and place in oven. Preheat to 400°. Once oven is hot, remove baking dish and add cute vegetables. Stir to coat lightly with oil, then put it back in the oven to roast. Stir every 20 minutes or so. As the vegetables cook, they'll release liquid and you want to keep the vegetables on top from drying out.

Depending on the size of your pan, roasting may take 30-60 minutes. The squash will cook faster than the rest, but that's okay. When the firmer vegetables start to soften (you can bite into them without crunch, but they don't melt in your mouth), remove baking dish from the oven.

Option 1: Season with salt and serve as a side dish.

Option 2: Let cool 15 minutes, then purée to use either as a side (just add a little salt) like mashde potatoes or to use as a base for soup.

Option 3: Bake into into a soufflé.

Monday, September 14, 2009

How to roast peanuts

One word: Don't.

Spend the extra money to buy them already roasted and shelled.

Trust me.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Almond biscotti

Crunchy, twice-baked Italian cookies perfect for dipping in coffee, tea, hot chocolate or milk. They don't take long to make and store well.

1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 TBSP melted butter
1 Tbsp milk
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped almonds

In a bowl mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, spices). In a second bowl the sugar, egg, extract and butter. Once completely blended, stir in dry ingredients. Stir until completely mixed in, then stir in walnuts. The dough will be stiff and heavy.

Shape the dough into a wide, flat loaf about 1/2 inch tall. Place on a baking stone or nonstick cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 20 minute or until the top is browned and begins to crack.

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.

Transfer loaf to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut into slices 1/2 inch thick on the diagonal. Arrange evenly on the baking sheet or stone. Bake 10 minutes, turn slices over, and bake another 10 minutes or until firm to the touch.

Let the biscotti dunking begin!

(If there are any left, let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sesame & soy seared tuna

Super simple, very quick, and so so good.

2 albacore tuna steaks, frozen
soy sauce
sesame seeds
1 tsp olive oil

Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over med-high heat.

Sprinkle seseame seeds in a small plate. Pour a thin layer of soy sauce in small plate. Dip each side of one tuna steak in soy sauce, then in the seeds to coat. Place in skillet, then repeat with second steak.

Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the steaks. These were about 1 1/2 inches thick and cooked for 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second. Don't overcook it. Tuna steak can be cooked like beef steak - nice and rare if you want.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Cheryl's blue cheese dressing

1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp vinegar
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 oz Roquefort or other blue cheese

Blend all ingredients (except blue cheese). Crumble cheese into dressing, then stir. Refrigerate 24 hours before serving.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Chili pizza - just for you, Dad!

Kidney beans on pizza is kind of an inside joke in our family... but this is the ONE way I can think of that kidney beans are acceptable - and actually delicious - on pizza.

1 batch favorite pizza crust
2 cups chili with kidney beans and black beans
1 tomato, chopped
jalapeno slices

Make pizza dough according to instructions thru to spreading out on pizza stone or baking tray.

Spread chili over dough. Top with chopped tomato.

Sprinkle with cheese, then top with jalapeno slices.

Bake in preheated oven at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

10 soups I'll be making this fall

Eggplants at the market are gorgeous right now, plus we're still getting tomatoes from the Grandgarden.

I love this recipe as is, but am going to try to work up a vegetarian version this fall.

Have been craving white bean soups and this one looked like a winner. Fresh garlic is still available at the market right now, so the timing is perfect.

Quick and tasty.

I like vegetarian chilis because their flavor comes from good ingredients rather than meat.

I have a huge stash of Hungarian smoked paprika, so this will work perfectly with the big, orange winter squash appearing at the market.

Again, quick and tasty!

Never had white chili, but it always sounded good to me. Plus that whole white bean craving thing...

Possibly my favorite go-to soup.

We eat this about once a week in winter. I've missed it!

Which soups and stews will you be making?

Friday, September 04, 2009

French toast à la Nicki

Nicki's is the best French toast bread ever. Soft, chewy and just light enough.

1 cup milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
8 thick slices Nicki's buttermilk seed bread

Whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour mixture into a pie pan and set aside.

Over medium-low heat, melt a small pat of of butter in a large nonstick frying pan.

Dip a slice of bread into egg mixture. Allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, then place in frying pan. Cook 2 slices of bread at a time in the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in warm oven.

Repeat with all 8 slices.

Serve immediately with maple syrup, powdered sugar, whipped cream or fruit.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Tuscan sea bream with tomatoes & zucchini

I have been trying to reproduce a meal my husband had and loved five years ago. Unfortunately, I was not present at the meal so have been compiling the recipe from his memory. (Yeah. It's as ridiculous as it sounds.) In one of my attempts, this was the result. We both loved it. Loved it. And it only took about 25 minutes!

2 sea bream filets (or other firm white fish)
1 Tbsp red pepper pesto (or could use sun-dried tomatoes)
fresh parsley (5-10 fluffy tips)
3-4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp Italian seasoning (I LOVE Kirkland Rustic Tuscan Seasoning)
pinch salt
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°. In a medium cast iron skillet, heat 1 tsp olive oil over high heat. Add crushed garlic, Italian seasoning and salt. Place filets in the skillet and cook 1 minute, then carefully flip. Cook one more minute. Spread pesto down the middle of the filets. Top with parsley. Gently spoon chopped tomatoes around the filets. Bake for 20 minutes.

2 zucchini, quartered and sliced thinly
Italian seasoning
pinch of salt
olive oil

In another skillet, heat 1 tsp olive oil over high heat. Add zucchini, seasoning and salt. Cook, stirring often until edges start to turn bright green and flesh is tender. (Don't overcook to mushy.)

Serve seam bream hot with zucchini on the side.