Monday, February 29, 2016

Golden Beet & Goat Cheese Pizzas

I am calling these pizzas, only because of their shape.

These are a delicious healthy lunch and I used pita bread for the crust.
You can use any flatbread or Naan bread too.

I roasted some beets (golden and red together are nice), and once cooled and peeled, I sliced them and arranged them overlapping on pita bread rounds.

Layer with some watermelon radish to look even prettier.

Sprinkle around some chevre (goat cheese).
Throw some chopped walnuts or pistachios on top.
Season w/ sea salt & pepper.

Dress w/ balsamic syrup and olive oil and bake 10 minutes in a 350F oven, just to warm.

Garnish w/ fresh arugula or basil leaves.

These would make great make ahead appetizers too, cut into wedges.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

1950's Orange & Raisin Cake

This cake won the Pillsbury Bake-off Contest in 1950.

The winner was Mrs. Lily Wuebel, from Redwood City, California and the original name for this beauty was "Orange Kiss Me Cake".
Her prize money was $25,000 back then, a lot of dough.

This wins the 2016 bake-off in my kitchen, this winter.
No prize money here, but I loved this cake. So homey and cozy with a cup of coffee.

It makes a big cake, in a 9 x 13 pan, so you can eat it for a few days.

The original recipe used Crisco shortening, but does anyone use that stuff anymore? I used butter.
It's delicious. So moist with the ground up raisins.

Vintage Orange & Raisin Cake (adapted from Pillsbury):

1 large navel orange (or 2 clementines)
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup walnuts
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs

1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 13x9-inch pan.

In a food processor bowl with metal blade or food mill, grind together orange peel and pulp, raisins and 1/3 cup walnuts. Set aside.

In large bowl, combine flour and all remaining cake ingredients at low speed until moistened; beat 3 minutes at medium speed. Stir in orange-raisin mixture. Pour batter into greased and floured pan.

Bake at 350°F. for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Drizzle reserved 1/3 cup orange juice over warm cake in pan.

In small bowl, combine 1/3 cup sugar and cinnamon; mix well. Stir in 1/4 cup walnuts; sprinkle over cake. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled.

Next time, I will just mix all the icing ingredients together to make it easier.

Cut yourself a square and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Savory Scones w/ Feta, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Green Onions

These scones are the bomb. Much like biscuits, just cut into wedges.

A little bit of Greek flavors thrown in.......pretty simple to put together.

I am not a big fan of sun-dried tomatoes.....but it's tough to find the semi-dried pomodorini from Italy, so I caved.

These would be even better with your own roasted cherry tomatoes, but since it's not summer, I don't have any growing in my barren garden (and I don't buy tomatoes in the winter).

These were perfect slathered with butter.

Loved them.

Savory Scones w/ Feta, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Green Onions:

2 cups of flour
4 tbsp of cold butter
1 tsp of garlic powder
1 Tbsp of baking powder
3/4 cup of whole milk
1 egg, beaten
handful of scallions (green onions), chopped
handful of pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 cup of roasted or sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup of feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400F.

Using a box grater, grate the cold butter into the flour mixture and combine with your hands to makes sure the butter is distributed well thru the flour. Add in the baking powder and garlic powder.

I have tried this with a food processor too, but believe me, the hands and the mixing bowl work better.

Mix the egg w/ the milk and pour into the flour. Using wet hands, form a dough.

Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix together to incorporate. It's best to use your hands for this, though the dough will be very sticky, so keep wetting them w/ cold water.

Form a ball of dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and pat into a disc.

Using a wet knife, cut into 6-8 wedges.

Bake for 15 minutes until light golden. Transfer to a cooling rack.

I loved these best warm with a swipe of Kerry Gold butter.

Stays fresh about one day, freeze the scones if not eating that day and take them out, toast them and make savory scone egg sandwiches!


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Open Faced Salmon BLT's w/ Avocado & Radish

Do you have any leftover salmon from yesterday's recipe?

I always save a little piece for breakfast or lunch the next day.

Here, I made open face Salmon BLT's and they were delicious.

Take some good bread and toast it up.

Spread w/ some mayo (I like Hellmann's).
Top with bacon slices, avocado, sea salt & radish.

Lay the cold salmon pieces on top of the open faced sandwiches and dig in.

So good.

The end.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Salmon w/ Caper Anchovy Butter

I forgot all about making compound butters.

They are great to have on hand in the fridge of freezer.
Put a pat on a grilled steak, a piece of fish or baked potato.

In this case, I could put this over linguine, it's that good! However, I am going to show you how to make it for a piece of seared or baked salmon.

Place a stick of butter in a bowl and bring it to room temperature.

Add in:
1 tbsp drained capers
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp of lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 anchovy filets, minced
1 small garlic clove, grated on a citrus zester
black pepper

When the butter is soft, mix everything into the butter.

Dump out onto a piece of plastic wrap.
Roll back and forth to form a log and wrap tightly on the sides.

Refrigerate up to a week, or freeze forever. Bring butter back to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Season a nice piece of wild salmon (1/2 lb. portion per person) with kosher salt & pepper.

I like to sear my fish, skin side down for only a few minutes in a skillet with some olive oil, then flip over and cook another minute or two.

Plate fish and slice the butter into discs. Place a pat on top of your salmon, and potatoes and broccoli!
This stuff is addictive!

Great idea to make ahead.
I love it.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Olive Oil Muffins w/ Almonds & Zest

Here I am again, baking another dessert using olive oil.

Olive oil has been used forever in Italy for baking desserts, so get used to long as you have a mild tasting olive oil, you will love the flavor.

These muffins are very adaptable. You can add raisins or cranberries or any other little fruit you like.

Not sure why the original recipe from Giada uses balsamic vinegar, but I followed the instructions.....boy, were these good! Super simple to throw together, and the perfect breakfast muffin.

The recipe calls for SLICED almonds. Those are the thin pieces that I usually use to decorate the tops of crush them in your hands, and they add a nice little crunch.

These are great winter muffins too, because oranges and lemons are in season now, and zesting citrus makes any cake great.

These are my new favorite treats.

Are you convinced yet?

Olive Oil Muffins w/ Almonds & Zest (by way of Smitten Kitchen, original recipe from Giada):

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons whole milk
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I use Halutza from Israel, or Colavita from Italy)
2/3 cup sliced almonds
raw sugar for the top

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners in a 12-cup muffin tin.

Blend together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend.

Beat the sugar, eggs, and zests in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vinegar and milk. Gradually beat in the oil.

Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Crush the almonds with your hands as you add them to the batter and stir until mixed.

Fill the muffin tin almost to the top of the paper liners. Sprinkle with some raw or regular sugar, this will make them nice and crunchy on the tops.

Bake until golden on top and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes.

Remove the muffins onto a platter and let cool for 5 more minutes.

These are great warm, or the next day......not too sweet, perfect for breakfast or with coffee.
They freeze well too.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

February Random Bites

I'm still not fully recovered from the ankle injury.....but getting there slowly.
I can't wait to be fully back in business!!

I made this fabulous, easy cassoulet w/ sausage, white beans, canned cherry tomatoes and broccoli! Yes, broccoli!
The broccoli roasts in the pan, and it was the best ever. Sprinkled w/ toasted breadcrumbs the last 15 minutes of baking.

Based on this recipe.

Stuck inside during the winter?
Bake a cake.
I do it at least twice a week. It may not be good for your waistline, but it's good for the soul.

I made Silver Palate's fantastic Orange Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake. So good.

Have a slice.

I have been very creative with leftovers lately. My specialty.

A delicious leftover Sicilian slice from my local pizzeria, made a great breakfast w/ a crispy egg and arugula.

And if you have leftover bread lying around (I have a freezer full), then I urge you to make my chocolate orange bread pudding with bourbon.

I revisited the recipe and made an icing this time with powdered sugar and milk.

Really good, and there is bourbon in the recipe, so you can't go wrong!

Restaurant Bites:

Hey NJ peeps, there is a new pizza place in town.

Wood Stack Pizza Kitchen in Pine Brook, NJ (yes, as in Route 46).

A beautiful industrial style space, making Naples style pies out of Stefano Ferrara ovens.

Using the best local ingredients to make delicious salads and entrees, such as in-house made pastas; porchetta; octopus on fregola; stracciatella and really great pizzas.

We had the Bader Sting, a sopressata and honey pie and it was fantastic, as was everything else we tried.

Great craft cocktails and IPAs on tap. Moscow Mules served in proper copper mugs.

Loved this new addition to the Garden State, can't wait to go often!
Check it out.

Now I have taken this avocado toast craze thing too far.

I took out a frozen beet waffle, toasted it, and spread it with avocado.
Topped w/ some bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup.


And to get spring going.....I made my favorite Roasted Vegetable Pasta Primavera.

You can use any vegetable you like, even leftover veggies work, just make sure you use onions and peas.
Recipe here.

and I want to say that I will be taking the month of March off to go on some exotic warm weather vacation.....but that's not happening with the state of my ankle, so I guess you are stuck with me for another month.

Hang in there, it's almost spring (says to herself everyday). :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Winter Salad Blues: Arugula with Radish, Manchego & Dates

I have the winter salad blues.

Nothing is blooming, or growing or happy and green.

I have 3 little watermelon radishes left from my harvest, then they are all gone, and I will have to wait till April to see any signs of life.

Here is a delicious salad using what I always have on hand.

I love Manchego cheese here (a Spanish sheep's milk cheese), it goes so well w/ the apples.

You can use regular radishes if you can't find watermelon radishes, and I bet you can't :(

Arugula Salad w/ Radish, Manchego & Dates:

head of arugula, washed and dried
2 radishes, sliced super skinny
2 green onions, sliced
4 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, skin on, sliced thin
hunk of Manchego cheese, diced
squeeze of lemon juice
pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil

It's pretty self explanatory. It's a salad.

Mix some spicy gorgeous arugula (I am really reaching today!) with sliced apples, chopped dates, the Manchego cheese and sliced scallions.

Whisk up the lemon juice w/ the olive oil and sea salt and pour over salad components.

Mix and serve immediately.

Pretty delicious, if I do say so.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Best Beet Waffles!

If you've been following me on instagram lately, then you know that I have become the waffle queen!

Lately, I am obsessed with making waffles.

My mother never made homemade waffles when I was a kid (world's smallest violin), we had the frozen kind in the yellow box (which were not that bad actually).

It seems like everytime I turn around on social media, I see a waffle post, so it was time to buy a waffle iron.

I decided on a basic, inexpensive, under $30 waffle maker, nothing fancy for now, I want to see if I am in love, before I commit to the more expensive fancier models.

So far, I have been more than satisfied.

Savory waffles seem to have grabbed my attention.

I want to put a fried egg on top, use some cheese, serve them for brunch w/ smoked salmon.
You get my drift.

So for my first waffle post, I am serving up Roasted Beet Waffles for Valentine's breakfast (yesterday), and damn, were they good.

Great idea if you have 2 leftover roasted beets (which I usually do).

I promise you will love these.

Roasted Beet Waffles: (adapted from Hamptons Aristocrat) made 5 square waffles

2 large red beets, roasted
1 cup whole milk
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
4 oz. melted butter (half stick)
pinch of salt
1 tbsp of sugar

Roast the beets in the oven for an hour at 400F, covered (if you read my blog, you had better know how to roast beets by now!). Let completely cool, then peel. It's best to make the beets the night before, so they are nice and cold for the batter in the morning.

In a blender, add milk to the beets and purée. I tried adding in the rest of the ingredients to the blender, but it didn't mix, so I poured it out into a bowl and added in the rest of the ingredients by hand.

To the beet puree, add in the cooled melted butter, the egg, the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix or whisk batter like you are making a cake or pancake batter.

The batter will be very thick.

Pour batter into a hot waffle iron and press down lid.

My waffles took 5-7 minutes.

Serve with maple syrup and a dollop butter and maybe a strip of bacon and a fried egg!

These are the BEST waffles I have ever had!