Thursday, October 31, 2013

What's for Lunch? Sweet Potatoes w/ Avocado & Salsa

This was a lunch made from leftovers.

I had some leftover sweet potato from last night's stew.

I also had a half of an avocado leftover from breakfast.
What's a girl to do?

I was not sure about this healthy combination. It's a little unconventional.

Is it normal to pair sweet potato with avocado?

It is now!

Worth making an extra sweet potato for every time!

Here's how:

Slice a leftover, cooled baked sweet potato, removing the skin, into rounds.
(I bake mine at 400F for an hour).

Cut an avocado into cubes.

Place a small dollop of creme fraiche on each sweet round, and top with an avocado cube. Sprinkle w/ some sea salt.

How easy is that?

I spooned a little Hatch chili salsa on top, because I wanted some heat (and I am addicted to this stuff). Use whatever salsa you like.

Top with cilantro and eat.


Healthy and pretty too. :)

P.S. I'd wish you a Happy Halloweenie, but I hate Halloween, always have.

Bah humbug.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Moroccan Style Vegetable Stew w/ Chickpeas & Dates

With dishes like this, I swear, I could almost become a vegetarian (but I like anchovies too much).

I recently received a box of Fruit Bliss dried fruits to try: Turkish Apricots; Agen Plums from France; along with dried Figs & Dates. Someone had my number, because I eat dried fruit almost everyday.

All the fruit is organic, no GMO's, no preservatives or additives and they were all delicious.

I used the dates in my famous date nut bread, and the rest of them I decided to use to make this dish inpsired by The First Mess, my new favorite vegetarian blog.

This is so delicious and hearty, and served over couscous, this makes for a healthy, filling meal and we didn't miss the meat.

Just a note: I did not add the yellow bell pepper as the original recipe states, only because I didn't have one, and I only used 1 can of chickpeas, and 1 can of tomatoes. This still made enough for 4 people as a main dish.

Moroccan Style Vegetable Stew w/ Chickpeas & Dates: (adapted from The First Mess)

1 onion, diced
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp dried coriander
shake of chili flakes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium sized sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2" pieces
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
6 dates, chopped
14 oz. can of fire roasted tomatoes
3 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
14 oz. can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

Couscous and fresh cilantro for serving.

In a large deep skillet, heat some olive oil and cook the onion with the spices for 5 minutes until soft.
Add in the garlic and cook another minute until fragrant.

Add in the sweet potato, carrots and dates and coat with the dried spices and oil.

Add the tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil.

Turn down the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes and carrots are cooked thru (original recipe only calls for 15 minutes, and that was not enough time for my veggies to cook). I added in the chickpeas after 10 minutes of cooking, since they are already cooked, I didn't want them to become mushy.

Serve over cooked couscous and garnish with fresh cilantro.


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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday Tart = Swiss Chard & Apple = Torte aux Blettes

Another strange sounding recipe on her blog today ("her", would be me).

I have so much Swiss chard in the garden, and it's almost November! It won't go away, and I don't even like it that much.
It's very pretty, but there is not much I use it for, so I don't think we will be planting it next year in the MCG.

This is a traditional Nicoise dessert in Nice, France, so it just may seem unusual to us.
Swiss chard w/ apples?

David Lebovitz posted this recipe and if you want to see what it is SUPPOSED to look like in Nice, France, click here, and here.

It traditionally is baked like a pie, with a top crust, dusted with powdered sugar, however, I thought I'd save calories, so baked it as an open tart with a bottom crust only, and though not pretty to look at, it tasted amazing.

My recipe is adapted from the book River Cottage Veg, another beautiful cookbook filled with 200 vegetable recipes as main dishes.

Many of the recipes for Torte aux Blettes call for Parmesan cheese, but I omitted the cheese.

This was simple and gorgeous, and it was best served warm.

Eat it for dessert or lunch, you decide!

Torte aux Blettes (adapted from River Cottage Veg):

recipe for pie crust as follows:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
3/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup lemon juice

Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest in food processor.

Add cold butter and pulse until butter is mostly combined with flour, but a few pea-sized pieces remain.

Add egg, egg yolk, and lemon juice, and pulse just to combine. If dough is too dry, add 1 tbsp. of ice cold water.

Dump dough out onto piece of wax paper or plastic wrap, cut in half, and shape into two disks. Cover disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate while making filling (you can also freeze the discs separately wrapped, for later use).

(This is enough dough for 2 pies, or just one pie with a top crust).

Press pastry into an 9" fluted tart pan (if using a top crust, then fit into a 9" pie dish).

1 1/2 lbs. of Swiss chard, leaves only, stems discarded (I used rainbow chard)
zest of a lemon
1/3 cup of golden raisins,
3 tbsp of brandy or warm water to plump raisins
2 eggs
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese (I did not use)
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 large apples (I used Golden Delicious), peeled

Wash the chard and place in a heavy lidded saucepan. With some water still clinging to the leaves, steam the chard for about 10 minutes with the lid on. You may have to add some water to the pan.

When chard is reduced to very little and wilted, squeeze out excess liquid and place chard in a bowl.

Plump the raisins in some warm water or brandy while the chard is cooking.
Add the raisins to the cooked chard in the bowl.

Mix in eggs, lemon zest, sugar, toasted pine nuts.

Peel the apples and grate them into the mixture.

Pour this mixture into the prepared pie crust and bake in a 350F oven for 40-45 minutes.
If using a top crust, dust with powdered sugar, if not then serve naked!

So good!

This is the Tuesday Tart.

Enjoy. :)

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Linguine w/ Broccoli, Herbs & Hazelnut Crumbs

I promise this looks like a lot of ingredients, but it was a simple throw together dinner.

I used my garden broccoli which is getting tastier with each frost in the garden.

Another creative recipe from Mr. Wilkinson!

You may want to double the hazelnut breadcrumb amount, since they stay fresh in a container in the pantry for a week or two, and they were delicious scattered over roasted cauliflower...........just sayin'.

Linguine w/ Broccoli, Herbs & Hazelnut Crumbs (adapted from Mr. Wilkinson's Vegetables):

For the hazelnut crumbs:

1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted
2 slices of ciabatta bread (crusts on), torn into small pieces
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

For the pasta:

8 oz. (half a box) dried linguine
1 generous tablespoon olive oil
3 oz. diced pancetta
1 large shallot, sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 long red chili, thinly sliced (I used hot pepper flakes)
6 anchovy fillets
1 head of broccoli florets and stalk, chopped into small pieces
3 tbsp pasta cooking water
8 large basil leaves, finely chopped
1/4 bunch Italian parsley, leaves picked and chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
sea salt & black pepper
finely grated Parmesan, to serve

Toast the hazelnuts in the toaster oven for a minute or two until fragrant.
Chop and set aside.

Toast the breadcrumbs in a skillet with some olive oil until golden brown and crispy. Alternatively, you can toast the bread in the toaster oven too! (it's toaster oven day). Add them to the hazelnuts along with the fresh thyme. Set aside.

Bring salted water to the boil. Add linguine and cook until al dente. Take off the heat; allow pasta to sit in the water.

Meanwhile, place a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and pancetta and cook until the pancetta is crispy.

Add the shallot, garlic and chili, turn down the heat to low and cook until softened.

Turn the heat up to medium, add the anchovies and broccoli and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes.

Add the 3 tbsp of the pasta cooking water, and add the drained pasta to the sauce.

Stir to incorporate all the ingredients.

Add in the fresh herbs, lemon juice and salt & pepper.

Divide among bowls and scatter over the Parmesan and hazelnut crumbs.

I served this along side a Caesar salad with fresh Romaine from my garden, which survived the frost, woo hoo.


The perfect Sunday dinner.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Coffee Cake = Chocolate Chip Hazelnut

The 10 pm baker decided to try this simple coffee cake recipe from last month's Bon Appetit magazine.

No bundt pan, no swirling, no mashing butter into the streusel.
Sounded easy, and it was.

Make sure you use an 8" cake pan, like the directions say, or you won't have enough batter to fill the pan.

This was a great breakfast cake or afternoon cake to go with coffee, hence the name "coffee cake"!

Look at that nice nutty chip topping!

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake: (adapted from Bon Appetit)

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
½ cup blanched hazelnuts, chopped
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup plain full fat Greek yogurt, or sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°.

Butter 8” square or round cake pan; set aside.

Toss hazelnuts, chocolate, cinnamon, and 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl (this is the topping and streusel middle).

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and remaining ¾ cup sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with yogurt in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan and smooth top; top with half of hazelnut mixture and press down. Spoon remaining batter over and smooth top; top with remaining hazelnut mixture and press into batter with a spoon.

Bake cake until top is light golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cool in pan before turning out.


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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pantry Dinner: Pasta w/ Chorizo & Chickpeas

Never let your cupboard run bare.

I always keep an arsenal of canned beans (I like Goya); tomatoes; chutneys; olive pastes; nuts; vinegars and oils stocked up.

If you stock up on different shape dried pasta, then you can make a delicious dinner in minutes.

I also keep packaged Mexican and Spanish chorizo in the refrigerator drawer, since it stays for months in the vacuum sealed package.

This comforting dinner was adapted from Bon Appetit and was delicious.

I added the greens (chard or kale), because I felt it needed some greens.

Pasta w/ Chorizo & Chickpeas:

2 small shallots, chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
2 links of Mexican (I use Goya) chorizo, casings removed, sliced and chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed
12 oz. small dried pasta (such as orecchiette or shells)
bunch of fresh spinach, kale or chard
Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
finely grated Parmesan and lemon zest (for serving)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.

Add chorizo and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 5–7 minutes.

Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes to skillet and cook, stirring, until paste darkens, about 1 minute. Add in the chickpeas and coat w/ the red oil mixture. Add in the greens, if using.

Add broth and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 15–20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Add pasta and the pasta cooking liquid to sauce. Cook, stirring until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 3 minutes.

Serve pasta topped with parsley, if using, Parmesan, and lemon zest.


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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Brussels Sprouts & Speck Pizza

It's Friday night. Time for homemade pizza.

I rarely order my pizza with tomato sauce any more. I am all grown up now (plus tomato sauce has been giving me acid reflux lately!).

I would much rather have an amazing pie that showcases the fresh cheese or vegetable or pork on amazing homemade dough.

This is the perfect fall pizza. Though this is a very "adult" pie, kids love it too.

For this pizza, I use speck, which is a smoked prosciutto (if you want, you can use pancetta, just make sure you cook it with the sprouts first).
Do not use regular prosciutto, since it will just crisp up and add no flavor.

Brussels Sprouts & Speck Pizza:

1 recipe for pizza dough (Jim Lahey's great recipe here)

1 lb. Brussel sprouts, cut and sliced into small pieces
olive oil
lemon juice
sea salt & pepper
1 clove garlic

2 balls of fresh mozzarella packed in water
2 large onions, sliced thin
4 slices of speck (Italian smoked prosciutto), cut into small dice
truffle oil (optional) for finishing

First prepare the Brussels sprouts & onions, which can be done the day before.

In a large skillet, heat some olive oil and saute the sprouts for about 10 minutes with the garlic, until cooked and turning golden.
Squeeze some lemon juice over the vegetables and drizzle with a tiny bit of truffle oil. Season with salt & pepper.
You will want to eat the whole pan, but try and resist because you want to use them as a pizza topping. Set aside in a bowl for later.

In the same skillet, cook the sliced onions in olive oil on low heat for about 15 minutes until nice and soft and light golden. Sprinkle w/ some kosher or sea salt during the process. Set aside.

Roll out your dough in a full sheet pan drizzled w/ some olive oil (I like to use a commercial rectangle 21" x 15" pan that I use to roast vegetables and bake cookies on). Spread the dough almost to the edges if you can.
The small amount of oil on the pan will help insure a crisp crust and easy removal.

Spread the cooked onions and Brussels sprouts all over the dough and dot with pieces of the fresh mozzarella. I use my hands to break pieces of cheese off, so they are uneven.

Lastly, scatter the ham over the pizza and drizzle w/ a tiny bit of olive oil and sea salt.

Bake in a 475F preheated oven for 12-15 minutes. The crust will be golden and the cheese will be bubbling.

Let rest a minute, then slice and enjoy!

Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sammies w/ Apple & Brussels Sprouts Slaw

I was trying out this recipe for mini BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches to serve at a Sunday football party, and needed a cole slaw to go on top.

I did not want to serve a mayo based slaw, since it's no longer summer and I just wasn't in the mood.

I thought this recipe for an apple and Brussels slaw would pair perfectly with the pulled chicken.

This was very light, fresh and crisp. I even ate it for lunch as a salad.

Since I picked my own apples, there was no need to peel them, and I like the look of the red color in the slaw anyway.

It was the perfect combination and everyone loved it with the sammies!

Apple & Brussels Sprout Cole-Slaw: (adapted from A Cozy Kitchen)

8 Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed and thinly sliced
1 apple, peeled, cored and julienned (I left my peels on)
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
sea salt & pepper
pinch of ground ginger

Trim the ends and outer leaves off the sprouts and slice them into slivers.

Julienne the apple and mix with the sprouts.

Whisk the dressing ingredients with a fork and pour over salad.
Taste for seasonings and season w/ salt & pepper.

For the Pulled Chicken: (adapted from Dinner a Love Story)

1 cup barbecue sauce (you can buy your favorite brand or make homemade)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 chipotle pepper in adobo (not adobo sauce, just a single saucy pepper)
6 to 8 boneless chicken breasts (2 lbs.), halved if they are large, seasoned w/ salt & pepper
Potato Rolls (sliders or sandwich size) or Brioche Rolls

In a large heavy pot, mix together barbecue sauce, cider vinegar, onion, garlic, bay leaf, and chipotle. Add chicken and enough water to cover (about 2 cups of water), whisking water with barbecue mixture until it’s blended.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and shred with two forks, like you would if you were making pulled pork.

Place the chicken back in the pot with the sauce and simmer a minute or two.

Place some of the BBQ pulled chicken on the open rolls and top with the apple slaw.

Can you say YUM?????

SO good!


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Monday, October 21, 2013

Ottolenghi Dinner

Wake me, because I feel like I'm dreaming.

This weekend we had the privilege of attending the Share Your Strength, Food & Wine Dinner, hosted and cooked by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

100% of the proceeds go to the New York City Food Banks and the No Kid Hungry programs in our area.

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

You all know them by now.
They have a mini restaurant empire in London (4 locations now) and have 3 best selling cookbooks.

Sami is Palestinian, born in Jerusalem, and his business partner Yotam, is an Israeli born Jew, with an Italian last name ("Ottolenghi"), because his family are Italian Jews who fled their villa in Tuscany from the Nazis in WW II and escaped to Israel.

In the scheme of the world, they are a very unlikely pair, however, they are just people; normal, friendly, funny, charming and GREAT chefs.

We had a wonderful evening, and everything we ate can be found in their first cookbook "Ottolenghi".
I plan on recreating the entire menu and I will reference the page numbers in the book for you so you can make the dishes too!

We started the evening with a fantastic cocktail hour with passed hors d'oevres and a beautiful Rosé .

~ cauliflower & cumin fritters w/ lime yogurt sauce (page 50)
~ sweet potato galette (pg. 181)
~ turkey & corn meatballs (page 125)
~ Parmesan poppy seed crackers (page 187)

I was amazed that everyone at our table flew in from somewhere other than New York for this event!
Canadians, Californians, and a couple from Miami, all here just to meet and eat with Sami and Yotam.

We started the meal with the beautiful seafood & fennel salad on page 135 of the book.

Then onto a KUKU (a Persian frittata), with broad beans and barberries (recipe in the Jerusalem book). Yum.

Dinner was a gorgeous rack of lamb, marinated with herbs and honey (page 104), paired with their popular haricot vert & snow pea salad w/ hazelnuts and orange (page 36).

A sweet potato gratin (which I made here a few years back), and roasted eggplant w/ pomegranates and saffron yogurt sauce (page 29), along with a radish & fava bean salad (page 16), served family style.

Dessert wine and desserts to end a wonderful evening. And an autographed copy of their cookbook for everyone.

It was a magical evening, meeting new friends and spending time with Sami & Yotam, who were gracious and so approachable, and even kind of surprised at their great success and popularity in the U.S.

This is your food reporter, signing out.
Happy Monday!

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