12 December 2009

basler brunsli (traditional swiss cookies, revised)

This is supposedly a traditional Swiss Christmas cookie--I fiddled with the recipe until it turned out the way I wanted.

8 oz Trader Joe’s almond meal
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
250g Trader Joe’s bittersweet chocolate with almonds, roughly chopped (I buy the half kilo bars in the baking chocolates section).
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large egg whites

In a food processor combine almond meal and chocolate and pulse until chocolate is well ground. Add sugars and spices and mix until fine. (Do not overmix or chocolate will melt.) Add spices and egg whites and mix until dough comes together. I usually turn the dough out into a metal bowl and finish mixing with my hands, just to make sure the dry stuff in the corners gets well incorporated. Chill dough for about 1/2 hour.

Preheat oven to 350º F. On a surface covered with sugar, roll dough to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out cookies with a small cookie cutter (heart or star shaped is traditional) and transfer onto baking pan lined with parchment paper.

Put cookies into the oven and reduce the temperature to 325º F. Bake for 15 minutes or until firm. Be careful not to overbake or the cookies will be too hard.

06 September 2009

pan-fried onion dip

adapted from one of my new favorite food bloggers, Rebecca at Ezra Pound Cake, who adapted it from Ina Garten's recipe in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

2 large yellow onions, or 3 medium
2 T unsalted butter
1/8 c vegetable oil
1/4 t ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 t kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t white pepper, freshly ground if possible
1/4 - 1/2 t dried thyme
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature, light is fine
1/2 c yogurt, lowfat is fine
1/4 - 1/2 c mayonnaise (as usual, we recommend Blue Plate or Duke's)
onion salt to taste, optional

1. Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt and pepper, and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.

2. Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Depending on how much bite your onions have, you may need to add onion salt or granulated onion at this point. Depending on how dense you want the finished product, you can mix at a medium high speed for a few more minutes to get it nice and airy. This can be refrigerated until needed in an air-tight container, but take it out of the fridge ahead of time so that you can serve at room temperature.

11 August 2009

Key Lime Pie

1 1/4 c gingersnap crumbs
2 T sugar
1/3 c butter,melted

5 large eggs yolks
1/2 c key lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/3 c sugar
1/8 t salt
2 T lime peel coarsely grated
2 1/2 c heavy cream
1 small lime,sliced,optional

Prepare crust:
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
In 9" pie plate combine gingersnap crumbs and 2 T. sugar; stir in butter until blended.
Press mixture firmly and evenly over bottom and sides of pie plate; bake 10 minutes until browned. Cool completely on wire rack.

Prepare filling:
In top of double boiler using wire whisk, beat egg yolks, lime juice, 1/3 cup sugar and salt until well blended. Set over simmering water; cook about 5 minutes, stirring constantly until mixture is thick enough to coat back of metal spoon. Remove from heat; stir in grated lime peel.

Refrigerate mixture about 45 minutes until cool. Meanwhile, in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed, beat cream until soft peaks form. Set 1 cup whipped cream asidefor garnish; fold cooled lime mixture into remaining cream. Spoon filling into prepared crust; refrigerate at least 2 hours until set.

To serve:
Spoon remaining whipped cream decoratively over top of pie; sprinkle cream with remaining 1 T lime peel. Garnish with limeslices, if desired.

Serves: 8

10 August 2009

Carrot Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

from Allrecipes.com

makes 12 regular-sized cupcakes.

2 oz white chocolate
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t orange extract
4 c confectioner's sugar

2 T heavy cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c + 2 t white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 t vanilla extract
2 c shredded carrots
1/2 c crushed pineapple
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t ground ginger
1 c chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350F and put muffin cups into a muffin pan.

In a small saucepan, melt white chocolate over a low heat. Stir until the melted chocolate is smooth, and then let it cool to room temperature.

In a bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter till it's smooth. Mix in the melted white chocolate, one teasspoon of vanilla, and orange extract. Gradually beat in the confectioner's sugar until the mixture is fluffy. Mix in the heavy cream.

Beat together the eggs, white sugar and brown sugar in a bowl, and mix in the oil and the other teaspoon of vanilla. Fold in the carrots and the pineapple. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Mix the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until it's moist. Fold in HALF of the nuts and then spoon the mix into the muffin cups.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool completely on a cooling rack, before topping with the icing and a sprinkle of the remaining nuts.

baby back ribs

3 slabs baby back pork ribs (about 6 lbs)
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 c olive oil

rib rub:
1 c Greek seasoning (sometimes we use rib rub or make our own)
1/4 c garlic powder
1/4 c paprika
1/4 c firmly packed brown sugar

1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 c firmly packed brown sugar
1 c cider vinegar
1 c chili sauce
1 c bottled barbecue sauce
1 T mustard powder
1 T paprika
3 T fresh lemon juice
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T hot sauce
2 T molasses

Make rub by mixing together the Greek seasoning, garlic powder, paprika, and brown sugar.

To make the sauce, melt butter with olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and next 3 ingredients, and saute 5-6 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in brown sugar and remaining ingredients, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes. Pour mixture through a wire-mesh strainer to bowl, discarding solids. Rub and sauce can be made days ahead of time.

Rinse and pat ribs dry. Remove the thin membrane from back of ribs by slicing into it with a knife and then pulling. Place lemon juice in small bowl and add oil in slow stream, whisking. Coat ribs evenly with lemon juice mix. Sprinkle evenly with rub and rub it into the meat. Wrap ribs in plastic, let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, then put in fridge to chill overnight.

The next day remove the plastic, wrap in heavy foil, and put then on baking sheets, and put the ribs in a 200-degree oven. Cook for at least six hours. You can unwrap the foil at the top but make sure the ribs do not dry out by basting with the juices in the foil packets.

We like to finish these up on the grill right before serving, basting with some of the sauce until heated completely through.

20 July 2009

tomato feta pasta

all quantities are rough estimates. this dish is an art, not a science.

1 yellow onion, or 4 shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed, or finely minced
decent olive oil
red pepper flakes (optional)
4 medium tomatoes, chopped into small chunks
8 oz good feta, preferably packed in brine, crumbled**
freshly ground black pepper
fresh basil chiffonade

If serving with pasta, start the water before you do any prep work. By the time you're done chopping, the water should be hot enough to add the pasta. The sauce doesn't take long to make but it does require frequent attention. We like thin spaghetti or angel hair with this sauce, but smaller pasta like penne works too.

Heat olive oil in a good sized skillet over medium high heat until shimmering, then add onion, stir for a minute, turn down heat to medium, and add garlic. Stir frequently so garlic does not turn brown. Throw in red pepper flakes to taste.

When onion and garlic are soft, add tomatoes including any juices they produced when chopped. cook for another few minutes until tomatoes begin to soften. Turn heat to low, add feta, stir gently. Cook at least long enough to warm the feta through, but keep an eye on it as the feta chunks will break down quickly.

Remove from heat, add black pepper to taste. Serve over pasta, sprinkling basil on top.

**Good feta makes or breaks this sauce. I have been fond of a certain goat-sheep's milk imported blend from the DeKalb Farmers Market, but they don't seem to have it anymore. The Pastures of Eden feta from Trader Joe's is a very good alternative. It's not cheap, but has the right blend of creamy, tangy, and salty; and we consistently prefer it to other more expensive feta from Whole Foods.

12 July 2009

mascarpone tart with fresh strawberries and port glaze

from Epicurious.com

For tart shell:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons cold water

For filling:
1 1/2 pounds strawberries (about 1 1/2 quarts), trimmed and halved lengthwise
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup ruby Port
1 pound mascarpone (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To make tart shell:
Blend together flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Beat together yolk, vanilla, lemon juice, and water with a fork, then drizzle over flour mixture and stir with fork (or pulse) until mixture comes together.

Gently knead with floured hands on a lightly floured surface until a dough forms, then gently knead 4 or 5 times. Press into a 5-inch disk. Place in center of tart pan and cover with plastic wrap. Using your fingers and bottom of a flat-bottomed measuring cup, spread and push dough to evenly cover bottom and side of pan. Prick bottom of tart shell all over with a fork and freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

Line tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until side is set and edge is pale golden, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights and continue to bake until shell is deep golden all over, about 20 minutes more. Cool in pan, about 45 minutes.

Make filling while tart shell cools:
Stir together strawberries and granulated sugar in a bowl and let stand, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Strain in a sieve set over a small saucepan, reserving berries. Add Port to liquid in saucepan and boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, whisk together mascarpone, confectioners sugar, lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until stiff.

Assemble tart:
Spread mascarpone mixture evenly in cooled tart shell, then top with strawberries. Drizzle Port glaze all over tart.

01 June 2009

two-bite brownies

about 72 mini-cupcakes

vegetable-oil cooking spray
4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
8 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1/2 t salt
3 3/4 c granulated sugar
8 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line mini-cupcake tins with liners. Spray liners with cooking spray. If not using liners, mix 1 T cocoa powder with 1/2 c flour, spray tins with cooking spray and dust cups thoroughly with the cocoa-flour mixture.

Melt butter and chocolate in a 4-qt heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring until smooth. Whisk together flour, cocoa and salt. Remove pan from heat and whisk in granulated sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, whisking after each addition until incorporated, and stir in flour mixture until blended.

Spoon batter into muffin liners, filling cups to top, and bake in middle of the oven 25-30 minutes, or until a tester comes out with crumbs adhering. Cool 5 minutes in tins and turn out onto racks. Repeat with remaining batter.

10 May 2009

cornmeal-crusted black bean cakes

1 16oz can black beans, drained but not rinsed
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 egg
1/2 c diced red or yellow bell pepper
1/2 c corn flakes cereal, crushed, or finely crushed corn chips
1 T chopped cilantro
1 t chipotle chile powder
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t granulated garlic
hot pepper sauce
1/3 c cornmeal
2 T olive oil

Combine all ingredients except cornmeal and olive oil in medium bowl; refrigerate 1 hour.

Place cornmeal in large shallow bowl. Shape bean mixture into 6 3" patties, using 1/3 cup per patty. Gently press each patty in cornmeal to coat.

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Gently cook patties in batches, 6 to 8 minutes or until slightly browned, turning once. Serve with your favorite salsa, guacamole or sour cream.

6 servings, 160 cals, 6 g fat, 6.5 g protein, 21.5 g cabs, 6.5 g fiber

23 April 2009

citrus roast chicken

1 4 lb whole chicken
1 T chopped fresh oregano
1 T chopped fresh parsley
1 T chopped fresh cilantro or rosemary
1 t kosher salt
1 t ground cumin
2 T butter, softened
3/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t paprika
5 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
1 small orange, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
1 small onion, quartered
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken; trim excess fat. Starting at heck cavity, loosen skin from breasts and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat.

Combine oregano and next 7 ingredients (through paprike) in a small bowl. Rub oregano mixture under loosened skin and over breasts and drumsticks. Place garlic in body cavity, arrange orange, lemon, and onion quarters in cavity.

Tie ends of legs together with twine. Lift wing tips up and over back, tuck under chicken. Place chicken, breast side up, on a roasting pan coated to cooking spray. Bake at 375 for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until thermometer registers 165 degrees. Let stand 10 minutes. Discard skin. Remove orange quarters, squeeze juice over chicken. Discard oranges, garlic cloves, lemons, and onions.

21 March 2009

lemon-almond buttermilk loaf

2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
2 c sugar
3/4 c unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1/4 t almond extract
3/4 c buttermilk
3/4 c ground almonds
1 T grated lemon peel
5 T fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x5x2 1/2" metal loaf pan. Sift flour, salt, and baking soda into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat 1 1/2 c sugar and butter in large bowl until well-blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in almond extract.
Add dry ingredients to egg mixture alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions each, beating until well blended after each addition. Add ground almonds and lemon peel and beat 1 minute. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake cake until deep golden brown and cracked on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir remaining 1/2 c sugar and 5 T lemon juice in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Place rack on baking sheet. Turn cake out onto rack, top side up. using skewer or toothpick, poke holes 1 to 2 inches apart all over cake. Brush top and sides of cake with all of lemon glaze, allowing some glaze to soak into cake before brushing with more. Cook cake completely.

17 March 2009

dilled new potato salad

from prevention.com

2 lb small waxy potatoes
1-2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 c lightly mashed haas avocado (about 2 avocados)
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 T reduced-fat sour cream
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 T finely chopped fresh dill
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place potatoes in large pot and cover with cold water (add salt if desired). Bring to a boil and cook 20 minutes or until just tender. Drain. Chill in refrigerator for about an hour.

Slice potatoes and place in large bowl. Stir in celery. Mix avocado and lemon juice in small bowl . Add sour cream, scallions, dill and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Combine with potato mixture. Serve immediately, garnishing with more fresh dill if desired.

Add more lemon juice to leftovers to help maintain color. Keep tightly covered and chilled.

4 servings, 273 cal,10 g fat, 6 g protein, 43 g carb, 8 g fiber

10 March 2009

oven-seared salmon with snap peas

4 6oz salmon filets, skin removed
4 T butter, divided
1/4 c minced shallots
4 T chopped fresh dill or tarragon
1 1/2 c diagonally thinly sliced sugar snap peas (1/8" slices)
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle salmon lightly with salt and pepper.

Melt 2 T of the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add salmon, increase heat to medium-high. Cook 60 to 90 seconds or until salmon just begins to lightly brown. Turn salmon, place on small rimmed baking sheet.

Melt remaining 2 T butter in same skillet over medium-low heat. Add shallots, cook 10 seconds or until fragrant. Sppon 1 T of the shallot mixture over slamon; sprinkle with 2 T of the dill. Bake 4-7 minutes or until salmon just beings to flake.

Meanwhile, ad peas to skillet; toss to coat with shallot mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 2 T dill and season with salt and pepper. Cook 2-3 minutes or until peas are tender-crisp. Serve salmon wiht peas.

4 servings, 365 cals, 22 g fat, 38g protein, 5 g carbs, 1 g fiber

26 February 2009

sun-dried tomato biscuits

1 1/4 c buttermilk
1/2 t salt
1 t sugar
freshly ground black pepper
2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c cubed unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes, warmed and softened, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut butter into flour until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in baking powder, salt, and pepper. Stir in tomatoes. Pour in buttermilk while folding until most of the flour is incorporated. Do not overmix. Sprinkle a little flour on the counter and gently form dough together. Sprinkle flour on top and use biscuit cutter to cut into rounds. Bake on ungreased sheet for about 12 minutes.

03 February 2009

spicy hot chicken soup

This soup is excellent for eating when you have a cold. From the Penzey's catalog.

about 8 servings

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs)
2 T vegetable oil
2 medium onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 t cayenne pepper
1 t powdered ginger
8 c water
2 T chicken soup base
3/4 lb extra wide egg noodles
2 scallions

Cut the chicken meat into 3/4" cubes. In a large, heavy pot or soup kettle, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken, and then cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the onions and garlic until everything is starting to brown up, add the cayenne pepper and ginger.

Stir constantly for about a minute, and then add the water and chicken soup base. Let everything come to a slow boil and then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Bring a separate pot of water for the noodles to a boil, add noodles and cook for 1 minute less than the recommended cooking time on the bag. Drain the noodles and add to the pot of soup, turn off the soup, let stand 5 minutes and serve. Top each bowl with a sprinkling of chopped scallions.

Noodles don't reheat very well, so if the soup won't be eaten all at once, add some cooked noodles to each bowl, top with soup, let stand a few minutes for the noodles to absorb the chicken flavor, and keep the rest of the noodles in a covered container in the fridge to add to the reheated soup the next day, or just cook new ones.

30 January 2009

basic Brussels sprouts

1 lb Brussels sprouts
1/2 c water
1/4-1/2 t kosher salt

Cut off the stem end of the Brussels sprouts and remove any yellowing outer leaves. Cut each Brussels sprout in half from top to bottom. Place the Brussels sprouts, water and salt into a 3 to 4 qt saucier and cover. Place over high heat and cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove, toss with a bit of butter, and serve immediately.

10 January 2009

cinnamon-almond snaps

These are strangely addictive, especially with tea or coffee. Excellent for the holidays. I have no idea where we found this recipe, but we didn't create it ourselves.

makes about twelve dozen small cookies

3 c all purpose flour
2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 c unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t salt
1 3/4 c blanched sliced or slivered almonds

Sift first four ingredients into medium bowl. Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in both sugars. Add egg and egg yolk; beat to blend. Beat in vanilla and salt.

Add flour mixture and beat until dough comes together in moist clumps. Add almonds and knead gently in bowl wiht hands until blended.

David dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each into 10" long log, about 1 1/4 - 1 1/2" in diameter. Wrap dough in 2 layers of plastic and place in freezer until frozen, at least 4 hours. (Can be prepared 1 month ahead. Keep frozen.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Working with one log at a time, remove plastic and cut crosswise into 1/4"-thick-rounds. Place rounds on ungreased baking sheet, spacing 1" apart. Bake until light golden brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer cookies ot rack and cool completely. Store airtight at room temperature.