Monday, June 30, 2008

Homemade Granola

I swear those folks at The Kitchn can read my mind. Last night I made granola and this morning I was getting ready to post it when I noticed their article about breakfast. I usually make a quick breakfast in the morning and then take something to munch on during the morning at work. I only do this during the week days though because weekends are a free for all. A while ago I saw the recipe for granola with chocolate and the pictures were so pretty, I wanted to make some for myself!

Granola with Chocolate
(Adapted from Orangette via Fresh from the Oven)

3 c organic old fashioned oats
1/2 c slivered toasted almonds
2 tbsp granulated sugar
pinch of salt
6 tbsp mild honey
2 tbsp canola oil
5 bars 70% dark Belgian chocolate (available at Trader Joe's)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees

In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, sugar, and salt. Stir well to blend

In a small saucepan, warm the honey and oil over low heat, stirring occasionally. Pour over the dry ingredients, and stir well to combine.

Spread the mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. When it is ready, remove the pan from the oven, stir well (to prevent it from cooling into a solid sheet) and cooled completely.

When cool, transfer the granola into a large bowl or a large plastic bag. Add the chocolate and stir (or shake if using a bag).

Store in an airtight container.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Greek-Style Quinoa Burgers

Yesterday I went for a hike. Then at night I went out and had a little too much Proseco. I am totally feeling the pain today, but I still managed to get up and walk to the Farmer's Market. It was a quick trip and I am totally glad I went, but now I feel like spending the rest of the day in bed. However, I am really hungry. I picked up a little greasy something at the market, but in order to make up for last night's lack of virtue I want to have something a little healthy for lunch. What's healthier than quinoa? Nothing!

Greek-Style Quinoa Burgers
(adapted from Everyday Food)

Makes 2 burgers

1/4 c rinsed organic quinoa
1/2 medium carrot, cut in large chunks
3 scallions, thinly sliced
8 oz organic garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp cumin
coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 c plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 pita breads
1/2 Persian cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 c of water and quinoa to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes and set aside.

In a blender, pulse carrot until finely chopped. Add cooked quinoa, half the scallions, beans, breadcrumbs, egg, cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper. Pulse until combined but still slightly chunky.*

Form mixture into two 3/4 inch patties (dip hands in water to prevent sticking. If too soft, refrigerate for 10 minutes to firm. In a nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium; cook burgers until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice and the remaining scallions. Season with salt and pepper. Serve burgers in a pita topped with cucumber and yogurt sauce.

*This was a labor of love for me. I strongly suggest using a food processor (I, unfortunately, do not have one). I ended up blending this mixture in batches and scooping out the blender each time. It was well worth it though, the flavor combination is FANTASTIC.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Venetian Rolled Pizza

I had the day off today!! Don't hate, I had to spend part of it taking my friends to the airport and running errands, but now the day and weekend are completely mine!! Last week's episode of "Everyday Italian" was about cooking for kids. I act like a kid a lot so of course the recipes appealed to me. Especially this one. I knew before I made it, that I wanted to add some kind of garlic flavor. I thought about doing a garlic paste that Jamie Oliver had used once, but then right there in Trader Joes, I found this lovely Garlic and Herb Pizza dough. WOWZA!! Like most recipes, I halved it, but I kinda wish I had made the whole thing. It's perfect for a casual get together with friends or to sit down and watch movies like I am probably going to do the rest of the day.

Venetian Rolled Pizza
(adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

Flour for dusting
1/2 lb Garlic and Herb Pizza Dough (available at Trader Joes)
4 oz organic shredded mozzarella cheese
3 slices prosciutto
1/2 c organic baby spinach
1 tbsp organic olive oil
Kosher salt for seasoning

Position a rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pizza dough to about a 6 inch diameter circle, about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella over the dough. Lay the prosciutto over the cheese in a single layer, folding over the ends if necessary. Sprinkle with spinach and top with the remaining cheese. Take one end of the circle and roll the dough up into a thin cylinder. Place the dough seam side down on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil sprinkle with salt. Bake for 25 minutes until the top is golden brown. Allow the pizza to cool for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the pizza into 3/4 inch pieces and serve.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers

I am super excited because this week I joined a group called Barefoot Bloggers! We will be making Ina Garten recipes twice a month and posting about them. This week's entry is Ina's Parmesan Chicken. I didn't make it because of time reasons, but it's pretty similar to this recipe I made a few weeks ago. Can't wait to see what next month's recipes are gonna be!

(Image from Barefoot Bloggers)

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chocolate Chip Blondies

For some reason, I had the urge to bake this week, but with the weather being insanely hot this past weekend I couldn't do much about that feeling. Now, with the weather cooled down to respectable temperatures and the nights being blissfully cool and air conditioning-free, I dug out this recipe, mostly because it was made entirely of things I already had in my kitchen!!

Chocolate Chip Blondies
(from Simply Recipes)

1/2 c unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 c tightly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 c all-purpose flour
1/3 semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly butter an 8x8 pan. Whisk together the melted butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the egg and vanilla extract to the sugar mixture and whisk.

Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt to the sugar mixture and mix it all together. Add the chocolate chips or any other mix ins you would prefer.

Pour into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20-25* minutes until a fork comes out clean. Cut into squares and serve.

*Being the impatient baker that I am, I only cooked these for about 20 minutes and they came out a little soft, but...OMFG!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pan-Seared Steak with Salsa Verde

I didn't grow up a steak person. In fact, the first time I ever had steak was when I was 13 years old and visiting Paris for the first time. I don't think I had it again until college. There was even a time a few years ago where I gave up all meat except for seafood for nearly two years! That ended when I realized I was getting intense cravings for bacon. Now I make no secret about my love for bacon. While I enjoy the occasional burger (hello Chaya!), I have never been a big steak eater. Last summer I found a recipe for an awesome marinated steak from Emeril (which I am sure I will be grilling up at some point this summer) but for this week I wanted to continue to explore the "Everyday Food For One". Most of these recipes have yielded about 2 servings for me, either because I have doubled them or the chicken or steak I have cooked with has been rather large for a weeknight dinner.

Pan-Seared Steak with Salsa Verde
(adapted from Everyday Food)

1/3 c Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp small capers, rinsed
1 tbsp minced shallot (about 1/2 of a large shallot)
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 Angus beef boneless Sirloin fillet (about 6 oz - but I think an actual serving is 4 oz)
4 oz Trader Joes mixed organic greens

For the salsa verde: In a small bowl, mix together parsley, capers, shallot, vinegar, mustard, and 1 tbsp water. Taste and season with salt (if necessary) and pepper and set aside.

In a small skillet, heat 2 tsp oil of medium-high heat. Season steak generously with salt and pepper. Cook turning once, until well browned. About 4 minutes on each side for medium well. Remove steak from pan and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan bring 1 inch salted water to a boil over high heat. Add greens and cook for about 4 minutes until tender. Drain and serve alongside steak and salsa.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Chickpea, Cherry Tomato, and Feta Salad

A couple of days ago I mentioned how much I am enjoying the "Everyday Food for One" portion of Everyday Food. This recipe looked so good and easy that I actually doubled it to have it for more than one lunch this week.

Chickpea, Cherry Tomato, and Feta Salad
(from Everyday Food)

1/2 c organic chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 c cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 c crumbled light feta
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp organic olive oil
juice from 2 lemons
2 tsp organic dried oregano
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and serve chilled.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

New World Quinoa Salad

So by now you know my Sunday tradition is to go to the Beverly Hills Farmer's Market and then come home and cook for the week. It was hot as balls again today, but Raul and I still managed to make the trek. I am adoring quinoa and it is great for my weekday lunches. It's fast and you can use it in so many different ways. I also got caught up in a marathon of the fabulous BBC program "You Are What You Eat"so I knew my lunches for this week had to be good for me so Gillian wouldn't hop on a plane and come yell at me that I am killing myself with my diet. I wanted to eat this the second I finished making it, but I managed to restrain myself and only have a little spoonful. Initially I was a little worried that I wouldn't enjoy the combination of spices, but I loved them and I am adding this recipe to my quinoa repertoire.

New World Quinoa Salad
(adapted from Red Ramekin)

1/2 c organic quinoa, rinsed
1/2 c water
1/2 c organic, free-range chicken broth
3/4 small red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c frozen organic peas, thawed
1/4 c organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
juice from one lime
drizzle organic olive oil
cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan bring quinoa, chicken broth and water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover, cook for 10-12 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Set aside to cool. At the same time saute red onion in olive oil over medium until it begins to caramelize, about ten minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute and set aside to cool.

Once quinoa and the onion mixture are cooled, mix together with black beans and peas until well combined. Add lime juice, olive oil, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper and mix until well combined. Add cilantro and serve chilled.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pineapple Black bean Salsa

This afternoon my friend Andrew came over to hang with me (and my air conditioning). I had leftover pineapple and black beans and we got the "good chips" from Bristol Farms so I decided to throw a quick salsa together.

Pineapple Black Bean Salsa

1/4 c fresh pineapple, diced
1/4 c black beans, rinsed
1/4 c diced red onion
1/2 jalapeno, diced
1/4 c cilantro, roughly chopped
juice of one lime
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients and serve chilled.

Andrew didn't want to like it (because of the jalapeno), but he LOVED IT!!

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For those of you that don't know, I have a new love affair with the restaurant that is literally across the street from my apartment. I have made it a Saturday afternoon habit to stop by Lemonade for some salad and, well...some lemonade. Everything I have tried is fantastic, but my favorites include the snap pea and edamame salad, the Moroccan carrot salad, and the chicken and jicama salad. They also have a pretty delicious looking selection of sandwiches and hot items including one of the creamiest mac and cheeses I have ever had. The moment I tried the blueberry mint lemonade, I was hooked, but the boysenberry is really great too. They also have this mock ding-dong (or is it a ho-ho?) dessert that gets me excited. The staff is all friendly and helpful, you will often find the owners there with their kids (and all of their kids' friends) and they let you try anything before you commit to buying it (except for the sandwiches and desserts). Andrew and I went today and ran into a couple we saw last week (I was a little embarrassed at first because last week Andrew told them he wanted to steal their baby - but they didn't seem to remember), but it's good to see that I am not the only one enjoying this cool neighborhood hang.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Pineapple Strawberry Granita

A few days ago I mentioned how hot it was. Today it's even hotter. I got home and wanted to stick my head in the freezer for a while. Luckily, I made this delicious frozen treat last night so the head freezing thing was not necessary. Last week at the Farmer's Market, Raul bought me some delicious, ripe strawberries. The first three days of the week, I poured through recipes trying to figure out what I could do with them besides just eat them (which I did one day for breakfast). Then I remembered that I had saved this recipe on Tastespotting (oh how I miss thee, Tastespotting) and with the increasing temperature, I quickly decided on this. Talk about your quick to prepare recipes, but allow a lot of time to freeze. I actually prepared this last night and let it freeze overnight. It will keep for about two weeks in my freezer.

Pineapple Strawberry Granita
(from Epicurious via Do Better)

1/2 a fresh pineapple cut into chunks (I cheated and bought the pre-sliced NOT canned)
1 pint organic strawberries, hulled
3/4 c sugar*
3/4 c water

In a blender, puree pineapple until smooth. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Next puree the strawberries until smooth. Add pineapple, water, and sugar and mix well.

Strain the mixture through a wire sieve into an 8x8 baking dish. Place in fork and stir every hour until frozen, about 4 1/2 hours. Store in the freezer. When serving, separate with a a fork.

*I went a little light on the sugar because my strawberries and pineapple were already so sweet. Also, for an icier texture add more water and/or alcohol.

This is also excellent with a little vodka poured over the top. I am sure rum would work well too. :)

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sauteed Chicken with Spinach

Gotta love the "Everyday Food for One" section of Everyday Food. Tonight I tried the chicken with mustard sauce and I wasn't disappointed. I loved the sauce even though I made it a little too thick, but I managed to thin it out with a little extra vinegar. The shallots caramelized slightly and added a lovely sweetness to the dish.

Sauteed Chicken with Spinach
(from Everday Food)

1 tsp white-wine vinegar
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 tbsp butter (I just used Smart Balance)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp organic olive oil
1/4 c water
1 boneless skinless organic free-range chicken breast
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 big handful of organic spinach

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned, about 4 minutes on each side.

Add 1/4 c water. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Add minced shallot to the same pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in mustard and vinegar; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add butter, swirl pan until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, toss spinach with half the mustard sauce. Place chicken on a serving plate and drizzle with remaining sauce. Serve spinach on the side.

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Tastespotting Update

For those of you that care, Tastespotting posted an update on their site today. Apparently they have a new owner and will be back up "shortly". Yippee! In the meantime, enjoy Food Gawker.

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With this Ring?

As I was doing my regular food searching, I came across this post on The Kitchn. It's especially hilarious with all of the weddings I have been attending...maybe some day if I ever get proposed to, he can give me this ring?? Actually, I can't decide if I like the ring or the wine stiletto better.

(Images via Bibi's Box)

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Asian-Style 3 Bean Salad

It's hot. According to our (crazy, drunken) meterologist you can't call it "very hot" until it is over 105 degrees and since I don't in the valley (thank god), I can't call it a "very hot", but it is still pretty freaking hot in Los Angeles and looks to be this way for at least the rest of the week. Last weekend I was watching a repeat of Ellie Krieger and she made this awesome salad. As I said a few days ago, I have received more requests for vegetarian and warm weather foods and this fits both of those bills. Be sure that when you do this, you get pre-shelled edamame. I didn't and it wasn't too much fun standing over the trash with this (I need to look in to composting) I'm not such a huge fan of ginger so I cut down on the canola oil and added a little toasted sesame oil instead. This would be excellent with some toasted sesame seeds if you go the same route!

Asian-Style 3 Bean Salad
(adapted from Ellie Krieger)

Makes 2 servings

8 oz frozen organic string beans
6 oz edamame, shelled
1/2 15 oz can organic black beans
1 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp organic apricot orange preserves (I used the Trader Joe's brand)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 scallions, sliced
1/4 tsp salt

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add frozen string beans and boil for about 2 minutes. Drain and place in an ice bath or in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, remove edamame from their shells and drain and rinse black beans.

In a separate bowl whisk together canola oil, vinegar, apricot preserves, sesame oil and salt. Add the beans and the scallions and combine until well coated. Serve chilled.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Spiced Roasted Chickpeas

I am trying to eat better during the week (and indulge on the weekends). I have been making lunches so I don't go out and spend more money than necessary and bringing fruits and veggies to work to munch on between meals. Sometimes, I want something that tastes a little naughty, but is still good for me. Chickpeas are high in iron and protein and the added crunch from roasting them makes you feel like you're eating chips!

Spiced Roasted Chickpeas
(from Anne's Food via Cheap Healthy Good)

1 15 oz can organic chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
1 tsp organic olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
few dashes of cayenne pepper (I used about 7)
1 heaping tsp cumin

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and pat dry. Place chickpeas on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Shake sheet (carefully) about halfway through.

Take out chickpeas and place in a bowl. Add oil, salt, cayenne and cumin and mix well. Turn peas back onto the baking sheet and place in the oven for 5 to 15 minutes until bronzed and crunchy.

These came out great for me even though I should have kept them in the oven a little longer for the second go-round. Note, it's probably not the best idea to make these when it is 90 degrees outside and you live in a small apartment.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Citrus Quinoa Salad

Lately I have had a couple of requests for more warm weather recipes. I'm here to deliver people, so keep bringing the requests. A while ago I sent myself this recipe I saw on Tastespotting and now with it's tragic demise, I have no idea where it originated so I can't give credit where it's due. It's fast and super healthy with virtually no fat!!

Citrus Quinoa Salad

1/2 c organic quinoa
1 c organic, free-range chicken broth
3 oz freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 orange)
1 Japanese cucumber peeled, seeded and cubed
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 (heaping) tsp cumin
1/4 roughly chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Bring chicken broth to a boil, add quinoa and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Set quinoa aside to cool. Combine all ingredients into chilled quinoa and serve chilled or at room temperature.

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Greek Orzo and Shrimp with Mustard-Dill Vinaigrette

Living in Los Angeles and working in entertainment, we see celebrities every day. I never get starstruck, but today I almost crapped my pants when I saw Wolfgang Puck at the Beverly Hills Farmer's Market. My college roommate and I used to watch his Food Network show and we would constantly turn to each other and ask "what did he just say?". However, despite his indecipherable accent, he is a food legend. So in honor of Wolfgang, and as is my new Sunday ritual, I headed home to cook with my amazing produce (which I just HAD to take a pretty pic of). First up, Greek Orzo and Shrimp Salad with Mustard-Dill Vinaigrette.

Greek Orzo and Shrimp Salad with Mustard-Dill Vinaigrette
(Adapted from Bobby Flay)

1/2 pound orzo
about 3 c organic, free range chicken broth
1 Japanese cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
3/4 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 green onions thinly sliced
1/8 c fresh dill, chopped
1/8 c white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 c olive oil
salt and pepper
8 oz light feta cheese, diced
12 medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined

In a medium saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil and add orzo. Simmer until al dente, about 10 minutes and drain if necessary. Set orzo aside to cool. Place dill, vinegar, and mustard in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and blend until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour vinaigrette over orzo and combine well. Add tomatoes, cucumber and green onions. Gently fold in the feta cheese.

Heat a grill or skillet to high and season shrimp with salt and pepper. If grilling, brush shrimp with olive oil. cook for approximately 2 minutes on each side until shrimp is just cooked through. Divide orzo salad onto separate plates and top each with 4 shrimp. Garnish with additional dill if desired.

This is AWESOME!! My grill is not up and running right now, so I just did the shrimp in a skillet, but the combination of fresh flavors is perfect for the summer. I ate this at room temperature, but even cold it would be just as good.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Linguine with Garlic Oil and Pancetta

Back in my senior year of college, I developed a little bit of a girl crush on Nigella Lawson. I used to watch Nigella Bites and Fashion Week programming religiously on the Style Network. I just loved her ease in the kitchen and her way of describing food. Even if it was something I never thought I would eat, I wanted to try it just because of how she made it sound. I have owned her books Nigella Bites and Forever Summer for quite some time now, and several of the recipes have become staples for a quick weekend dinner. I made this one for my friend Andrew a few months ago and he always asks me to make it when I suggest dinner (although I think I have only made it for him once). I had a very harried day and even though I had another delicious lunch at my new favorite restaurant (review coming later), I was starving tonight and wanted simple, fast and delish. This recipe is from the book Nigella Bites and is listed under the TV Dinners section. It's perfect for a night in with your favorite movie and a blanket - or even a cool summer evening when you are exhausted beyond belief.

Linguine With Garlic Oil and Pancetta
(adapted from Nigella Bites)

8 oz linguine
2 tbsp garlic infused oil (I used grape seed oil, but olive oil is suggested)
8 oz pancetta (I used sliced prosciutto)
about 1/4 c parsley leaves, roughly chopped (optional)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add linguine and cook to al dente and drain. At the same time add oil to a skillet and crisp up prosciutto. Add linguine to prosciutto and combine well. Add parsley and mix again. Serve with freshly shredded Parmesan if desired.

This is seriously such a simple recipe with the most awesome flavors and the parsley adds a nice fresh touch. I have done this with prosciutto, pancetta, and even bacon but never the cubed pancetta suggested in the original recipe. Any way, it is awesome and so fast!!

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Saddest News of the Day

My favorite website ever (and one of my biggest sources of inspiration) posted this notice today. I'm sad...Oh and the Lakers lost too.

(Image from Tastespotting)

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Whole Wheat Pasta with a Fried Egg and Asparagus

I saw this recipe on Tastespotting the other day and this other one on Giada a few weeks ago. I have never tried an egg and pasta combination, but they both looked easy and really good. I kind of combined the recipes, tweaked a few things and voila - a fresh, easy, and very fast dinner!

Whole Wheat Pasta with a Fried Egg and Asparagus

1 oz whole wheat spaghetti
3 thin asparagus stalks, sliced in thirds
1 egg
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp shredded Parmesan
nonstick cooking spray
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook for about 3 minutes. Transfer asparagus to a bowl of water with ice. In the same water the asparagus was cooked in, boil spaghetti until al dente. Meanwhile cook the egg in a separate pan to desired done-ness (Is that a word?!) and season with salt and pepper. Drain pasta and reserve about 1 tsp of pasta water. Combine pasta, reserved water, lemon zest, lemon juice and Parmesan. Top with asparagus and then the egg. Sprinkle with more Parmesan if desired.

Please forgive the blur of this picture. I actually tried this recipe yesterday too, but it is as quick to eat as it is to make and I couldn't even get my camera out in time. Almost the same deal tonight, but I managed to get one!!

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Jollof Rice with Fresh Pepper

I always say my mom's cooking is my favorite. I can only hope that I will be able to have half of her skills someday. My favorite meal ever is jollof rice with chicken or fish and every time I go home, I eat the same thing for three days straight...literally. Jollof is similar to a Spanish rice, but with slightly different seasonings. It is a great one pot meal. Today I went to go celebrate Gay Pride with my boys, but by the end of the parade, I was starving and was in no mood to consume a ten dollar slice of pizza. I came home and made this with my mom's recipe for fresh pepper. In Ghanaian cooking we have something called "shitoh" which is a super spicy cooked condiment. I have never known the recipe for that, but once in a while I get a craving for fresh pepper and fish. Fresh pepper is like a spicy, less chunky salsa. It is actually really good with chips.

Jollof Rice

1 14oz can diced tomatoes in sauce
1 c white rice
one white onion, thinly sliced
1 chicken bullion cube
about 1 tsp cumin
about 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
canola oil

Pulse diced tomatoes in a blender until almost smooth. In a large pot, saute onions until soft but not browned. Add garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about a minute and then add tomatoes. Add bullion, cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper. Simmer until sauce has thickened then add the rice. Add about 3/4 c of water and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until rice is fully cooked, stirring occasionally.

Ghanaian Fresh Pepper

1 beefsteak tomato
1/4 onion
1/2 habenero pepper*

Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until almost smooth.

*I love super spicy food so 1/2 a habenero with the seeds was perfect for me, but if you like a weaker spice replace the habenero with a red chili or a pinch of red chili flakes.

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Friday Night Cocktail Party...I Mean Dinner

I generally like to eat pretty healthy during the week and then blow it out on Friday night and/or Saturday. This past Friday, I decided on cholesterol laden, favorite ingredients including Chipotle Lime Bacon Wrapped Shrimp. Sounds good, right?! They were, but this is food much more suited for a cocktail party than a weekend dinner. I also decided to make Giada's chocolate mousse, but with cinnamon instead of espresso. To. Die. For.

Chipotle Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp
(adapted from Simply Recipes)

12 large peeled and deveined shrimp, tails off
2 tbsp olive oil
zest from 1 lime
juice from one lime
1 chopped chipotle in adobo plus sauce
6 strips center cut bacon, cut in half

In a small bowl, mix lime zest, lime juice olive oil and chipotle. Put the shrimp in the chipotle mixture and set aside.

Spread the bacon slices on a few layers of paper towels on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with another layer of paper towels. Microwave on high for about 1 1/2 minutes.

Preheat grill on high. Working one at a time, wrap a half piece of bacon on each piece of shrimp and thread onto pre-soaked bamboo skewers. Grill for 5 to 7 minutes on each side on each side. Baste each skewer with the remaining chipotle mixture and cook until shrimp is pink and bacon is crisp.

Cinnamon Chocolate Mousse
(adapted from Food Network)

Makes 2 servings

1/4 c 2% milk
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
about 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 c bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 egg whites

In a small saucepan over medium heat stir together the milk, sugar, and cinnamon until the milk is hot (not boiling) and the sugar has dissolved.

Place the chocolate chips in a blender and pulse until finely ground. Add the milk mixture to the chocolate chips and pulse until the chocolate has melted, about one minute. Add the egg whites and pulse on high until the mixture is light, about one more minute. Transfer the mousse to 2 serving cups and refigerate for at least 3 hours or until firm.

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Roasted Asparagus

My friends who know me know I don't sleep much. It totally sucks and when people ask me how I am doing, my standard reply is "fine...tired". Today was no exception. I don't know if it was the exhaustion or the fact that I wasn't in the mood, but I wasn't extremely hungry tonight. Definitely not hungry enough to slave over the stove. This may not be a meal for most people, but my party of one enjoyed this immensely.

Roasted Asparagus

6 stalks of thin asparagus
splash olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and roast in oven for about 7-15 minutes until the asparagus is tender.


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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My Breakfast Is Better than Yours

Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration, but oh wow!! After cooking with my new favorite ingredient, I was looking for other cool ways to use this awesome grain. I saw this post the other day and thought, good could that be? I didn't want to believe the claim that the muffins came out moist, but man oh man am I glad I tried it. These muffins came out so well that I ended up having one for dinner too! I'm not such a huge fan of raisins so I made half of them with chocolate chips. I also added cinnamon because I have such a love affair with it and let me tell you, the smells of cinnamon and chocolate filling up my apartment were almost more than I could bare. These muffins come out moist with a slightly crunchy top and just the right amount of sweetness. As suggested, the plain ones can be eaten with strawberry (or your favorite berry) preserves. The chocolate chip are just fine on their own. This is one muffin where I won't just be eating the top. ;)

Quinoa Muffins
(adapted from Everyday Food)

Makes 12 muffins

1 c quinoa, rinsed (when cooked equals at least two cups)
1/4 c canola oil
2 c all-purpose flour plus more for dusting the pan
3/4 c packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
3/4 c 2% milk
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan bring quinoa and 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until water has been absorbed and quinoa is tender. About 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, spray a standard 12 cup muffin pan with non-stick spray and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, sugar, and two cups of quinoa. In a separate bowl whisk oil, milk, egg, and vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. If desired, stir in chocolate chips.

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups and bake until a toothpick or fork stuck into the center muffin comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool muffins in pan for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

To Foodie or Not to Foodie?

I love this survey from The Kitchn today. While setting up this website I knew I didn't want to be called a "foodie". I just happen to be a person who loves food - cooking it AND eating it. To me, the term "foodie" implies a food snob. I love truffles as much as the next person, but hand me a bag of Parmesan Goldfish and I will be almost as happy. So what to do?? Personally, I don't want to be defined by any term, but if you must, call me a lover of most things food.

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa

Last month at our Mexican potluck, my dear friend Kelly made this amazing salad. It was such a wonderful contrast with all of the other food which frankly, in the end made me feel as though I had gained 40 more unnecessary pounds on my already full frame. Lucky for me, she sent me the recipe and I am so excited to have this as a weekday lunch. It is so quick and easy to make, I will be doing this one often.

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa
(adapted from Epicurious)

Makes 2 servings

zest of 1/2 lime
juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 c quinoa
1/2 can of black beans drained and rinsed
1 tomato, chopped
2 scallions chopped
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Whisk together lime zest, juice, sugar, oil, 1/4 tsp salt and a pinch of pepper in a large bowl.

Prepare quinoa according to package instructions with 1 tsp salt. Fluff quinoa with a fork and add to dressing. Toss to make sure it is well coated and add black beans, cilantro, and tomatoes. Check for seasonings and serve at room temperature.

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Analletti wtih Green Garlic, Anchovy and Dill Breadcrumbs

This weekend I found myself thinking what I was going to eat instead of waiting for the week to just happen, I should actually prepare for it. Since it can be hard for me to decide what to eat on any given day, I generally don't cook until I get inspired by something that I have seen that day. That means several trips to the grocery store every week. Actually, it is more like everyday. I go so often, the sales people know where I work and say hello to me when I walk down the street. So, in preparing for our week, Raul and I made a trip to the Beverly Hills Farmers' Market and filled our canvas totes with amazingly fresh, organic and locally grown produce. I discovered my new favorite ingredient green garlic and bought a bunch without really knowing what I was going to do with it. A quick search of some food sites yielded very little so I decided to combine several recipes into one.

Analletti Pasta with Green Garlic, Anchovy Sauce and Dill Breadcrumbs
(Adapted from Emerald City and Gourmet)

Makes (at least) 2 servings

1/2 lb Analletti pasta (available at Trader Joes)
1 c bread crumbs
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 bulbs green garlic, chopped
1 oz flat anchovy fillets drained*
1/2 or more (to taste) dried red pepper flakes

Heat a little bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, then cook bread crumbs stirring constantly until deep golden brown and crisp.

Transfer bread crumbs to a bowl and toss with dill and salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Wipe out the skillet and cook green garlic with salt and pepper and about 2 tbsp olive oil over low heat stirring frequently until soft add anchovies and mash them into the green garlic with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook until soft - this will be anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook analletti in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Save about 1/4 c of pasta water and then drain.

Stir in red pepper flakes and reserved water into the anchovy sauce, then add pasta and toss to combine. Add about half of the bread crumbs and toss again. Serve with remaining bread crumbs and grated parmesean if desired.

*People always freak out about seeing a recipe that calls for anchovies, but trust me...they are delish. Wonderfully salty and not fishy at all, just try it and you'll love it. If not, just use extra salt and pepper.

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