Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bacon and Tomato Hash

So yesterday, I am sitting around (relaxing) and watching reruns on Food Network. By now, you all should know I have some serious love for Nigella Lawson. I saw her make this recipe and the second the show ended, I went to my kitchen and made it too. The best part about watching Nigella make it? She was wearing a fabulous party dress the entire time. I was wearing pajamas. Oh well. This is a seriously simple and yet AMAZING recipe. I inhaled it in about 2 minutes. Nigella served hers with sriracha, but I didn't have any on hand so I just used chili garlic sauce which kicked it up so much, I couldn't get enough. I'm heading up to San Francisco for Slow Food Nation today for the morning Taste Pavilions. I was going to try my hand at live blogging from my Blackberry, but it's so old I don't want it to break. I have my digital camera and when I get back tonight I will be ready to share my pics and hopefully have some good stories for you!!

Bacon and Tomato Hash
(Adapted from Nigella Lawson)

2 slices center cut bacon, chopped
1 small Roma tomato, chopped
Handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic-infused oil (I used grape seed oil)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (I forgot this and it was fine)
Small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Bread for serving (optional)
Srircha or chili garlic sauce for serving (optional)

Heat the oil in a medium skillet. When the oil is hot, add bacon and cook until crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a towel.

Add the tomatoes to the bacon fat and oil (stand back!) and cook until warmed through. Add the Worcestershire and toss to combine. Add the bacon back to the skillet and mix with the tomato before transferring to a plate. Serve with hot sauce and bread if desired.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Grilled Shrimp with Nam Prik

I saw this recipe on Mark Bittman's blog the other day and I knew I wanted to try it because it seemed so simple and fast. It basically just took as long as cooking the shrimp on the grill. The shrimp came out well, but I had to make a few adjustments to the dipping sauce because it was a little to fish sauce tasting at first for my taste. Once I did that, I really enjoyed it and I think I would have this again. It's a great simple meal when you're in a hurry and you can use the dipping sauce with so many foods. I am really excited about my trip to San Francisco tomorrow for Slow Food Nation. I am going to try my hand at live blogging, but can't make any promises that my Blackberry won't crap out on me so I am bringing my camera to take many many pictures and I promise to share them with you when I get back!

Grilled Shrimp with Nam Prik
(Adapted from Mark Bittman)

Makes 2 servings

10 large shrimp, peeled and deveined with the tails on
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons honey
1 very small red chili, minced
Juice from 1ime
1 tablespoon nam pla (Thai fish sauce)

Preheat a grill to medium-high heat. Lightly season shrimp with salt and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine sugar, chili, lime juice and nam pla. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Grill shrimp for about 2 minutes on each side. Serve alongside nam prik.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Ricotta Fritters

I had some ricotta left from my yummy figs. Ricotta can be used in so many different things, it was hard to narrow down to just one. I wanted to try it in another dessert recipe and I found this one on Epicurious that looked easy and delicious. They came out great even though I probably could have fried them a little longer. I managed to restrain myself and only eat just one. Thank goodness I have great friends that can be my taste testers ;) Please try not to laugh too hard at my lame attempts to use lemon peel as decoration. Thanks!

Ricotta Fritters
(Adapted from Epicurious)

2 cups vegetable oil for frying
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
Confectioners sugar for dusting

In a large, deep skillet heat the oil to 370 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together the ricotta, egg, sugar, and vanilla, then whisk into the flour mixture.

Working in two batches, lightly drop spoonfuls of batter into the oil, turning occasionally until golden brown. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to paper towels to drain the excess oil. Dust generously with confectioners sugar.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Butterflied Chicken

I have said many times, I don't really follow recipes exactly unless I am baking. This Barefoot Bloggers entry was no exception. It was chosen for us by Stephany of Proceed with Caution. I was totally wary of this because 1) I have never butterflied a chicken before and 2) What the heck is single ole me gonna do with a whole chicken?? After reading some musings and reviews, I had settled on just doing a couple of chicken breasts. Of course, once I was at the store I changed my mind and bought a whole roasting chicken. I figured I could use the leftovers for salads or something. I vaguely remember watching the episode where Ina prepared this, but I realized once I got to home that I had no clue how to butterfly the thing. A friend tried to explain it to me, but I still didn't get it so I just chopped the chicken into 8 serving pieces. I left the skin on while cooking to keep the chicken moist which did the job, but made it a little messy to eat. This is easily one of the best chicken dishes I have ever made. Since I let it marinate overnight the flavor was present in every bite and the chicken was nice and moist. I sliced a couple of lemons and grilled those up too and the concentrated flavor was amazing. Want to see how the other Barefoot Bloggers fared with their chicken? Click here.

Butterflied Chicken
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

1 organic, free-range roasting chicken
1/4 cup organic, extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons, thinly sliced

Chop the chicken into 8 to 10 serving pieces and place in a shallow container. In a medium bowl mix the olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, garlic cloves, salt, and pepper until well combined. Pour the marinade over the chicken and turn the chicken to make sure it is well coated. Marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.

If marinating overnight, remove from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat a grill to medium high heat. Add chicken and cook for 8 to 10 minutes per side until cooked through.

Add the lemon slices to the grill and cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Figs with Ricotta and Pistachios

I have been dreaming of this dessert for days. When I was young and living in Northern California, my family had several fruit trees in the backyard. One of them was a fig tree and fresh figs were our dessert on many occasions. I realized I hadn't had any fresh figs this year. Since the fig season doesn't last too long, I figured I better hop to it. I got some beautiful figs at the farmer's market and got to assembling. This was such a great light dessert with minimal effort. The flavors came together so well and it didn't make me feel so guilty after eating it. Next time I will try this with marscapone to create a smoother texture.

Fresh Figs with Ricotta and Pistachios

4 fresh figs
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon raw unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped

In a small bowl, whisk together ricotta, lemon juice, lemon zest, and honey. Slice each fig into quarters about three quarters of the way down. Fill with the ricotta mixture. Top each fig with some of the pistachios and sprinkle with lemon zest for garnish.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oven Baked Garlic Fries

The other part of my "healthy greasy spoon" lunch were french fries. Of course since this was a healthier meal, they were baked instead of fried. This was the first time I had ever bought a potato. What the WHAT?! I know. I pretty much only like potatoes if they are chips or French fries. Since I had never made either myself, I never had the need to buy one. That's what is so cool about food blogging. I am trying tons of new things and techniques that I never thought to do before. These "fries" were very flavorful, the only change I would make is to turn the fries over halfway through cooking to make sure they brown on all sides.

Oven Baked Garlic Fries
(Adapted from Ellie Krieger)

1 big baking potato
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
small handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat the oil and garlic in a saucepan over low heat for about 5 minutes. Strain the oil through a mesh sieve and set both the garlic and oil aside.

Cut the potatoes into 1/4 inch sticks. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the salt and 1 tablespoon of the garlic oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and crispy.

Remove the fries from the tray with a metal spatula and sprinkle with more salt if desired. Top fries with parsley and reserved garlic and serve immediately.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Stuffed Turkey Burgers

Saturday + the birthday celebration of my dear friends = One hungover girl on Sunday. I got up just long enough to crawl to the farmer's market and then came back home and got back into bed. I finally managed to get my butt into gear and get cooking. I was really in the mood for some greasy spoon, but I didn't want to go anywhere and I thought I should be kinder to my waistline and do a healthy twist on a burger and fries. Enjoyed with a prickly pear mimosa and The Breakfast Club, it was a great end to the weekend.

Stuffed Turkey Burger
(Adapted from Ellie Krieger)

1/2 lb lean, ground turkey
4 sundried tomatoes, drained and sliced
2 tablespoons shredded, part skim mozzarella, divided
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl mix together turkey, salt and pepper until well combined. Divided the meat into four equal rounds. Form each round into equal sized patties. Sprinkle two patties with sundried tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of cheese. Top with the other patties and work the edges to seal.

Grill each burger for 5 minutes on each side until cooked through.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chicken, Almond and Parsley Salad

Saturday morning, I'm browsing through some cookbooks and come across this recipe in Forever Summer. It's amazing that as many times as I have gone through this book, it still keeps surprising me. This salad was quick and easy which was good because I had a party to get to. I know it sounds really strange to have parsley as the lettuce in the salad, but it worked really well. I was able to use up more of my leftover grilled chicken. It was nice and light with a bright taste of lemon and a nice crunch from the almonds.

Chicken, Almond, and Parsley Salad
(Adapted from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson)

1 cold cooked chicken breast, torn into chunks
1 or 2 handfuls flat-leaf parsley, just the leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons organic, extra-virgin olive oil
Juice from half a lemon
Small handful toasted slivered almonds
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. In a medium bowl or plate, toss together the chicken and parsley. Drizzle with the dressing and top with the slivered almonds.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Grilled Barbecue Chicken Pizza

There is just something about the weekend and pizza. I'm obsessed with my little grill lately and had some dough left in my freezer so I decided to make a California original. I have tons of grilled chicken and I used a bottled sauce so this recipe came together super fast which was good because I was starving! I'm not including measurements so you adapt it to your own tastes.

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

Store-bought pizza dough
Grilled chicken, chopped
Red onion, thinly sliced
Shredded mozzarella
Bottled barbecue sauce
Olive oil or garlic oil for brushing
Cilantro, roughly chopped for garnish (optional)

On a lightly floured board roll out dough to desired thin-ness. Brush one side of the dough with olive oil and place the oiled side of the dough onto a hot grill. Grill for one minute and flip.

Spoon barbecue sauce on top of the pizza and spread the cheese over the sauce. Top with onions, chicken, and more cheese. Close the cover of the grill and cook for 4-5 minutes until the cheese is melted and the toppings are warmed through. Remove the pizza from the grill and garnish with cilantro if desired.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers Bonus Recipe: Grilled California Pizzas

The August bonus recipe for Barefoot Bloggers was chosen by Rebecca from Ezra Pound Cake. I knew immediately that I wanted to make this because I had tried a grilled pizza a while ago and I was thinking about making another. This past weekend was very lazy one where I had no plans and only left the house to go to the farmer's market. Don't judge me! It's been a busy summer! I cheated a little on the pizzas and went with store bought dough, just to make things a little easier. Ina suggests a bunch of toppings and then says to pick eight. I only made a couple of pizzas so I decided to go with mozzarella, chicken sausage, tomato, red onion, and red pepper flakes. This was so flavorful with the garlic oil (4 cloves of garlic heated over low heat with 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil) and I grilled the sausage for even more grilled flavor. To see how the other Barefoot Bloggers did on their pizzas, visit here.

Grilled California Pizzas
(From Ina Garten)

For the dough:
1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110 degrees F) water
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons good olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons kosher salt

For the toppings (select 8):
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 pound fresh mozzarella, grated
1/2 pound Italian Fontina, grated
1/2 pound mild goat cheese, such as Montrachet, sliced
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and julienned
1/4 pound prosciutto, thinly sliced and julienned
1 bunch arugula, cleaned and dried
6 plum tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
4 pork or turkey sausages, cooked and sliced
1 bunch basil leaves, cleaned and dried
4 garlic cloves, roasted
Crushed red pepper flakes

For prep:
1/2 cup good olive oil

For the dough, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 3 cups flour, then the salt, and mix. While mixing, add 1 more cup of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough on low to medium speed for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it several times to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and roll each one into a smooth ball. Place the balls on a baking sheet and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature. Roll and stretch each ball into a rough 8-inch circle and place them all on baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. (You will be able to fit 2 pizzas on each 18 by 13-inch baking sheet.)

Light your grill and wait until it's hot.

Place the pizzas directly onto the grill and cook on 1 side for 1 minute. Turn the pizzas over and brush with olive oil or garlic oil.

Top the pizzas with any toppings you wish, piling them high. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Put the lid on your grill and cook for 5 minutes more, until the crust is crisp and the toppings are cooked.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chicken Stock

I grilled up a whole chicken recently (keep a look out for this month's last Barefoot Bloggers recipe). I had a bunch of bones left over. I threw some out before I got the bright idea that I should use them to make a stock. It is so easy to make a stock. Just throw the chicken bones and some veggies in a large pot, cover it with water and let it simmer for several hours. Probably not the best thing to make after a day of work, but the way I go through chicken stock around here, it was a good thing for me to make. I'm gonna be perfectly honest with you. I only let this simmer for three hours instead of the recommended four. I have a ginormous zit on my forehead and I was stressed and tired. It still came out wonderful and I froze it in an ice cube tray to pop out and use whenever I please. I'm not even going to put a picture of this up. Chicken stock is not the most photogenic stuff :)

Chicken Stock

Bones from one organic, cooked chicken (with a little bit of meat still on them)
1 or 2 carrots, chopped into large chunks
3 stalks celery, chopped into large chunks (leave the leafy parts on)
1 onion, quartered
1 head of garlic, halved
1 handful of parsley
2 shallots, halved
2 or 3 bay leaves
small handful whole peppercorns
1 tsp salt

Place all of the ingredients in a large stock pot. Add enough water just to cover everything.

Bring the mixture to a boil and once it starts to bowl, reduce to a simmer. Let simmer uncovered for four hours. Skim any scum that comes to the top. After four hours, drain and place in a container in the refrigerator to cool overnight.

This will keep in the fridge for a couple of days or you may freeze for several months.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Honey, Pistachio and Chocolate Chip Biscotti

A few months ago I bookmarked a recipe for pistachio biscotti that I saw on Ellie Krieger's show. I get some great pistachios at the farmer's market and I thought they would be good in this recipe. I didn't feel like running out for whole-wheat flour (I had some TV to catch up on!) so I just came up with something that worked for me. These came out well. The cookie part was sweet, but not too sweet and the chocolate and pistachios taste so good together. Next time I need to slice them a little more thinly, but otherwise, I wouldn't change a thing about this recipe.

I entered this into Cookthink's Root Source Challenge - Honey and I won!

Honey, Pistachio and Chocolate Chip Biscotti

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup raw, unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 or 3 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

In a medium bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt, pistachios and chocolate chips. In a separate small bowl whisk together the egg, sugar, honey, and vanilla extract.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until they come together. Add water by the tablespoon-full if necessary.

Form the dough into an oval on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes.

Slice the dough into 1/2 inch slices and bake again at 325 degrees for 10 minutes on each side. Store in an airtight container.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Bacon, Leek, and Gruyere Empanadas

A while ago I saw a menu for a restaurant with a bacon, leek and Gruyere quiche. I am not a huge fan of quiches, but the mix of bacon, leek and Gruyere intrigued me. In the last month I have made two dessert empanadas but never a savory one. I realized I could use this combination in an empanada. They came out so flavorful and the crust was nice and flaky. I had a bunch of the bacon, leek and Gruyere mixture left so I used some with eggs and froze the rest to make more empanadas later. I cooked the leeks in a little garlic oil, but if you don't have garlic oil just use regular olive oil or the bacon fat and add a little garlic to it.

Bacon Leek and Gruyere Empanadas

For the filling:
1 12 ounce package center cut bacon, chopped
2 cups thinly sliced leeks
8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded

For the dough (From Epicurious):
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 stick cold, unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large egg
1/4 cup ice water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

To make the dough:
Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a dough blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size butter lumps.

Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to the flour mixture, stirring with a fork until just incorporated. Mixture will look shaggy.

Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together. Then knead gently with the heel of your hand just enough to bring the dough together. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

To make the filling:
In a large skillet cook bacon over medium until crisp. Drain the fat and set aside to cool.

Use the bacon fat or a little bit of garlic oil to slightly soften the leeks over medium heat. Do not brown the leeks. Set aside to cool.

Once the bacon and leeks are cooled, mix with the Gruyere.

To assemble the empanadas:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Roll out the dough to approximately 1/4 inch thickness. Using a glass or ramekin, cut the dough into circles.

Spoon a little bit of the bacon mixture into each empanada round. Fold over and use a fork to seal the edges.

Beat one egg with a splash of water or milk. Brush the egg wash over each empanada. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008


I kind of overindulged yesterday so today I wanted something nice and light. The other day I got an email from The Kitchn with a simple recipe for gazpacho. It looked especially good because it didn't call for bell peppers. I don't know why, I have just never liked the things. I picked up some tomatoes at the farmer's market that didn't look so pretty, but they tasted great. This was such a great light meal. The cumin added a little spice and the lemon brightened it up while the balsamic added a slight sweetness.

(Adapted from The Kitchn)

4 ripe roma tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups stale bread, torn into pieces
2 tablespoons organic, extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups organic, free-range chicken broth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 red onion, finely chopped. Reserve some for garnish
2 Japanese cucumbers, peeled and chopped. Reserve a few slices for garnish
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh cilantro. Reserve some for garnish
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 small cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 slices center cut bacon, crispy and chopped (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a large, non-reactive bowl. Puree in a blender and pour back into the bowl. Cover the bowl and chill for 2 hours or overnight. Check the seasonings before serving. Garnish with cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and bacon.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cinnamon Sugar Cigars

I had some pie crust left over from when I made buttermilk pie. I didn't want it to go to waste. I remembered when my friend's mom was here last summer and she made these amazing rolls with leftover pie dough and cinnamon and sugar. I decided I wanted to try and recreate those rolls. They turned out great and smelled fantastic!

Cinnamon Sugar Cigars

1 unbaked 9 inch buttermilk pie shell, cut into 5 or 6 lengths
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten with water
flour for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Sift together cinnamon and sugar until there are no lumps.

Roll each length of dough into a ball and roll out on a lightly floured board to 1/4 inch (approx) thickness. Spread cinnamon and sugar mixture on each round and roll to a cigar shape.

Lightly brush each cigar with egg wash and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon and sugar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Buttermilk Pie

As I have said before, I grew up in a foreign household. I have never heard of things like buttermilk pie. Then last week I saw this beautiful post on Joy the Baker and I knew I had to try it. It's really a sweet story, you should check it out. For some reason, I have been getting these insane urges to bake after I come home from a day of work. Maybe it's the fact that cutting fat into flour requires a bit of arm work that I don't normally get (cause those close to me KNOW I have fallen off the working out wagon). My parents brought some wonderful English things with them when they came to America. Mostly tea, but also this stuff that I used to love with poundcake when I was a kid. It was Bird's Custard and my mom used to let me help her make it for dessert. I loved the warm custard and I especially loved skimming the top layer and eating it with my cake. This pie reminds me of that custard I loved so much when I was young, but with a slight tang from the buttermilk. This is the kind of dessert that I don't mind my booty expanding for.

Buttermilk Pie
(From Panache at Rose Hill via Buttercakes by Evan via Joy the Baker)

For the dough:
2 sticks (8oz), cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces and frozen for 15 minutes
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold buttermilk

For the custard:
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 stick melted, slightly cooled
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the pie:
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
buttermilk custard

Sift together the flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter and mix with a dough blender or a couple of forks until it forms pea sized pieces. Add the buttermilk all at once and mix until the dough comes together. The dough will be tacky and still shaggy.

Remove the dough from the bowl and quickly form into a rough disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 3 days.

To make the custard:
In a medium bowl, beat eggs slightly. In a small bowl, mix sugar and flour well and add to the eggs. Mix until creamy. Add melted butter, mixing well. Add buttermilk and vanilla extract.

To make the pie:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Pour the custard into the cold unbaked 9-inch pie shell. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the custard sets. The custard will still jiggle a bit when the custard is set, just make sure that the middle does not jiggle more than the sides or it will need more time.

Serve cake with fruit sauce (strawberry or any other kind) if desired.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Panzanella

I was so excited to see that the first recipe for Barefoot Bloggers this month involved little more than chopping. I made it on a weekend after a really tiring week and the last thing I wanted to do was slave over a stove. I have been wanting to try a Panzanella for a while so thanks to Melissa of It's Melissa's Kitchen for choosing it for us! A Panzanella is a traditional Italian salad using old bread. Of course Mrs. Garten puts her French twist in her version, but I wanted to bring it back to it's Italian roots. It was so good and I ate the whole thing in one sitting!! Head on over to the Barefoot Bloggers blogroll to see how everyone else did.

(kinda sorta from Ina Garten)

1/2 par baked Ciabatta loaf (available at Trader Joes), cut into cubes
1 tbsp organic, extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 beefsteak tomato, chopped
1/2 hothouse cucumber, chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
10 basil leaves, cut in a chiffonade
1 tbsp capers, drained
4 oz Ciliegine mozzarella, drained

For the vinaigrette:
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1/4 c organic, extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over low heat. Add bread and salt and cook until well browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all of the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, capers, mozzarella, and basil. Add bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Serve or allow the salad to sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend (if you can wait that long!)

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Rice Sticks with Chicken

The LA weather has returned to cool nights and mornings with not too hot temps during the day. What an amazing So Cal summer it's been, compared to the unbearable heat last year. Guess I shouldn't speak too early. September and October are notoriously hot here. Anyway, last night I wanted something easy. I had some rice sticks and bean sprouts left from my Pad Thai attempt so I made this simple stir-fry. It was really good and I had tons of leftovers for work!

Rice Sticks with Chicken
(Inspired by Rasa Malaysia)

7 ounces rice sticks (rice vermicelli)
3 organic, free-range chicken tenders, chopped into 1 inch chunks
4 scallions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 handful bean sprouts
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
cornstarch to tenderize the chicken
1 tablespoon canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Place rice sticks in a bowl of warm water for about 15 minutes or until soften. Drain the water and set aside. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes and set aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper and lightly toss with cornstarch.

Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. It is ok if it starts to smoke a little. Add garlic and cook for one minute until lightly golden, be careful not to burn. Add chicken and cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Add rice sticks and seasonings and toss to combine. Add the scallions and bean sprouts and toss for another 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Warm Spinach, Orzo and Pistachio Salad

I got quite a few cookbooks for my birthday. They are all great, but I haven't made anything from any of them, until now. I actually saw this recipe on Serious Eats first and bookmarked it. I like taking various salads to work and this one looked good. It was really easy to make and tasted so good that I ate it before I took it to work. Oh well, just had to make more!!

Warm Spinach, Orzo, and Pistachio Salad
(Adapted from Serves One by Toni Lydecker)

1/4 teaspoon salt, plus a large pinch
1/4 cup orzo
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
2 teaspoons organic, extra-virgin oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1 handful organic baby spinach
1 small shallot, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon roasted pistachios

In a small saucepan combine 2 cups water with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the orzo and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the feta, olive oil, vinegar, a large pinch of salt and pepper to taste in a medium bow.

Drain the orzo through a strainer and add to the bowl. Gently stir to coat the orzo with the dressing. Add the spinach, shallot and pistachios and toss once more. Garnish with additional pistachios if desired.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Ice Cream Sandwiches

I had an annoying weekend. I was so pumped about having my own apartment for a month, but I still had to go out and do things on Saturday. Unfortunately, I didn't get to do those things, so I sat around and moped. And then I got to baking. I needed a way to release my frustration so I decided to do something that would relieve the tension. I had some cocoa powder left from when I made cupcakes for my birthday, and I originally thought I would make brownies, but then another recipe caught my attention. I decided to make ice cream sandwiches with my honey ice cream. These turned out amazing. I read the reviews first and decided to grind the cornmeal in a food processor to give it a more fine texture and the end result was a cookie that was crumbly and sweet, but not too sweet with just the right amount of chocolate mixed in. It was a perfect comfort food for a less than comforting day.

Italian Chocolate Sandwich Cookie
(Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (2 sticks)
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal or polenta
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the cookies, in a large bowl use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugar until light in color and fluffy. In another medium bowl stir together the flour, cornmeal or polenta, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir to combine using a wooden spoon. Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap. Press the dough into a 1-inch high round. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day.

Roll out the dough to between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick. Use a 2 inch round cookie cutter (or a glass) to cut out the dough. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 15 minutes. Place the baking sheets on a wire rack to cool cookies. Cookies can be made a day in advance.

To make the ice cream sandwiches:

Press a scoop of ice cream on one cookie. Top with another cookie and press down until ice cream reaches the edge of the cookie. Serve immediately.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Shrimp Pad Thai?

8/8/08 - A lucky Well overall it was a pretty good day for me. Nothing extraordinary, but just continuing good feelings about the week. Plus, hey - I have my own apartment for the next month, what could go wrong, right? Until the end of the day. Let me tell you a little story. Esi has been craving Thai food for the last 6 months. Esi, has been trying to be better to her wallet on ordering food in. Esi decided that instead of calling up her go-to Thai place (for which she also gets miles), she would make her own Pad Thai. Esi had a bad idea this Friday night. Esi settled on Danny Boome's recipe for Pad Thai. Now before you go off on me, I do realize that this is not the most authentic recipe for Pad Thai, but Esi is trying to use ingredients she already has in her kitchen and Esi had most of these ingredients...most of them. Esi still has to go to the store. Bad idea, because once Esi gets to the store, she can't be stopped. Still, she manages to only get what she needs (plus the latest issue of Us Weekly) except for the damn fish sauce. What the hell?! What store in Los Angeles does not have fish sauce?! I will tell you which store, her stupid f'ing corner store. So, Esi heads across the street to the more expensive (but better stocked) store to get her ten dollar fish sauce. Esi comes home to assemble Pad Thai. It takes a bit of work, but hey, it will be worth it. Overall, it's still cheaper than ordering in (despite the insane price of the fish sauce) and she can watch the Sex and the City Movie while preparing it all (don't ask, just accept that Esi works in the movie business and these perks happen). Esi assembles Pad Thai, sits down to watch the movie and realizes that despite all the work, it tastes like noodles stir fried with least it looks pretty.

Shrimp Pad Thai
(Adapted from Danny Boome)

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
7 ounces rice noodles, soaked in hot water for about 5 minutes then drained
1/2 cup bean sprouts
4 scallions, sliced
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/4 unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, chopped

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and saute until golden brown. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, 1 to 2 minutes on each side, tossing from time to time. Remove and set aside.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil in the same pan and add the eggs. Stir to scramble the egg into small pieces, remove and set aside with the shrimp.

Heat the remaining oil in the pan and add the soy sauce, fish sauce, rice wine, red pepper flakes, and brown sugar. Stir briefly (make sure you get the bits off the bottom of the pan), add the drained noodles and cook for 5 minutes, tossing constantly.

Add the bean sprouts, chopped scallions, and most of the cilantro. Mix well and continue to cook until the noodles are heated through. Season, if necessary with more soy sauce and/or fish sauce. Stir in lime zest and juice and top with remaining cilantro and chopped peanuts. Serve immediately.

As I said in the end, this tasted just like noodles tossed in lime. I added some honey to it at the end, despite the two teaspoons of brown sugar (more than the original recipe called for). I guess the next time I attempt Pad Thai, I will look for a more authentic recipe. At least I finally had a reason to dig out that old wok my parents gave me one year in college.

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Strawberry Smash Muffins

A friend of mine picked up a bunch of strawberries from Oxnard earlier in the week. Of course I went one a strawberry recipe hunt, but then I remembered I had been wanting to try strawberry muffins for a while. In case you couldn't tell, I *kinda* like baking with strawberries. I was a little loathe to turn on my oven with the muggy weather we have been having lately, but it cooled down enough one night for me to make them. They came out really well and I was a little surprised at how light and fluffy they were. Of course, they made my apartment smell amazing!!

Strawberry Smash Muffins
(Adapted from CookingLight)

Makes 12 muffins

1 pint of strawberries, washed, hulled and chopped
1 stick butter melted and cooled
Zest from 1 lemon, about 2 tsp
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
cooking spray

For the topping (optional)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl mix together the butter and egg. In a food processor or blender, pulse together strawberries and lemon zest until the strawberries are roughly smashed, it is ok to still have chunks of strawberry.

Whisk together the strawberries with the butter and egg mixture.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the strawberry mixture to the dry ingredients until just combined.

Spray the muffin tins with cooking spray and and spoonfuls of batter into each tin, filling each about 3/4 of the way. If desired, sprinkle each muffin with a little bit of the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until a fork inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. Turn out the muffins onto a wire rack and allow to cool before serving.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Prickly Pear Granita

For my other prickly pear recipe, I decided to make a granita. The pears are already pretty sweet so to add some tartness, I used lemon juice. To get another level of sweetness, I decided to go with agave nectar instead of regular sugar. It ended up being the perfect level of sweet and tart and the color was beautiful. Of course if you want to make this a virgin granita, replace the vodka with extra water. This was a pretty slushy granita that melted quickly so to make it less icy, use less water or vodka.

Prickly Pear Granita

1/2 c prickly pear puree (3 prickly pears for me)
Juice from 2 1/2 lemons
1 tbsp organic agave nectar
1/2 c water
1/2 c vodka

To make the puree:
Slice open the prickly pears. Squeeze the pears through your hands into a wire sieve fitted over a small bowl. With a silicone spatula, squeeze the pulp through the sieve and discard the seeds.

Whisk together all of the ingredients. Pour in an 8x8 glass dish and place in the freezer. Chill for at least 4 hours, scraping the top every hour. Can be done overnight.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Shrimp and Asparagus Salad with Prickly Pear Vinaigrette

The other day, I posted a plea for help on what to do with my prickly pears that I discovered at the farmer's market. Well, I didn't get much help so I came up with a couple of things on my own. I knew I wanted to have one recipe that was savory and one that was sweet. For the savory recipe I settled on a salad. I decided to use the prickly pears in a vinaigrette and I picked canola oil for the vinaigrette so as not to over power the delicate flavor of the pears. It was so good and fruity and perfectly light for the summer. It was also a perfect end to a day where I found out I am going to be attending one of the Tasting Pavillions at Slow Food Nation!! I am so excited and honored to be involved in this historic food event. To find out how you can get tickets, click here.

Shrimp Salad with Prickly Pear Vinaigrette

Makes 2 servings

For the salad:
2 handfuls organic baby spinach
10 shrimp, peeled and de-veined
10 thin asparagus stalks, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tsp organic, extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the vinaigrette:
1/4 c prickly pear puree (about 2 prickly pears)
2 tsp canola oil
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 tsp honey
1 small green Chile, finely chopped
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

To make the puree:
Slice open the prickly pears. Squeeze the pears through your hands into a wire sieve fitted over a small bowl. With a silicone spatula, squeeze the pulp through the sieve and discard the seeds.

To make the vinaigrette:
Whisk together all of the ingredients.

To make the shrimp and asparagus:
In a medium skillet heat 2 tsp oil. Add shallots and garlic and cook over medium-low heat until softened, but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes until bright green, but still crisp. Add shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until pink and cooked through.

To make the salad:
Lay spinach on the plate, top with the asparagus and shrimp mixture and spoon the vinaigrette over everything. Garnish with cilantro if desired.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Basic Caprese Salad

This summer in Los Angeles, has been blissfully not hot...until now. I haven't turned on my air conditioner since 4th of July weekend and I have been able to cook and bake to my heart's content. However, the last few days have been warmer (not hot) and disgustingly sticky. I haven't been wanting huge meals, but at the end of the day, I still need something to ensure I don't wake up in the middle of the night with hunger pains. I had some mozzarella in the fridge and basil and tomatoes from the farmer's market so I put it all together for one of my favorite salads.

Caprese Salad

serves 1

1 beefsteak tomato, sliced
2 oz mozzarella, sliced
4 or 5 basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 tsp organic, extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Arrange tomato slices on a plate. Top with mozzarella and season with salt and pepper. Spread basil leaves over the salad. Sprinkle with oil and vinegar and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Plight of the Honey Bees

I don't normally give product reviews or comments of things you find in the grocery store, but this one is so yummy AND it's for a good cause. If you didn't already know, the honey bee population is diminishing at an accelerated rate. Why should you care? Because honey bees pollinate a third of what we eat. If there are no honey bees, we have no food (ok, maybe not "no" food, but a lot less food). Haagen-Dazs is donating a portion of the proceeds from the special honey flavors to research at Penn State and UC Davis. I picked up a pint of the Hawaiian Lehua Honey and Sweet Cream Ice Cream which was the perfect end to my lazy weekend. To find out more about what you can do to help save the honey bees, click here.

Hawaiian Lehua Honey and Sweet Cream Ice Cream with Strawberry Sauce

8 strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
juice from one lemon
juice from one medium orange
2 tbsp honey

In a medium saucepan, dissolve honey into the lemon and orange juice over low heat. Add strawberries and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir constantly for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Serve strawberry sauce over a scoop or two of the honey ice cream.

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Monday, August 4, 2008


For the last few weeks at the farmer's market, I have seen this fruit. I have never tried a prickly pear before so this last weekend I asked the farmer for a taste. I liked it a lot so I bought some, but now I have a bowl of prickly pears and no idea what to do with them!! If you have any ideas, please send them my way. The best one will get a dish named after them!

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mussels in Spicy Broth

Sometimes, just hearing a word inspires me to make something delightful. This weekend the word was mussels. I kept hearing the word everywhere from Good Food to that crazy Anne Burrell chick on Food Net. I picked up some mussels at the farmer's market and thought about what combination of flavors I wanted. I decided to go with a pretty classic and straightforward mix and the results were amazing. It was so easy and fast - only about 20 minutes from start to finish (there you go AGAIN, Rachael Ray!!), and it made my apartment smell terrific. The only regret was not having enough bread to soak up all the delicious broth.

Mussels in Spicy Broth

1 lb mussels, cleaned and de-bearded*
organic, extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
6 cloves (yes, I said SIX) garlic, minced
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1/4 c parsley
1 c dry white wine (I used leftover Pinot Grigio)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
crusty bread, sliced and toasted (I used leftover Ciabatta)

Heat a large and deep skillet over low heat. Pour enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute until the shallots and garlic are softened, but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 the parsley and cook for about one minute. Add mussels and wine, stir to combine and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pan and let mussels steam for about 5 minutes. Pour mussels in a large bowl and top with the broth, garnish with remaining parsley and serve with bread.

*When you bring the mussels home, run them through cold water and place them in a bowl with ice or leave the bowl in the refrigerator. Make sure all the mussels are closed. If one is open, give it a tap and if it closes, it is ok to use, but if it remains open, toss it out. Once the mussels are cooked, toss out any that did not open.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Grilled Chicken and Aspargus with Arugula Pesto

Not wanting to be a wasteful person, I decided to use my pesto in a quick dinner. I'm so glad I did. It was so tasty and the whole thing came together in less than 20 minutes (take THAT Rachael Ray!!). I decided to add some asparagus to the grill even though I was less than thrilled with my last attempt at grilled asparagus. The spritz of lemon added a great freshness to the smokiness of the asparagus. I am now in love with grilled asparagus and trying to think of other ways I can use it.

Grilled Chicken with Asparagus and Arugula Pesto

3 organic, free-range chicken tenders
8 or so asparagus stalks, trimmed
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
approx 2 tbsp organic extra-virgin olive oil
1 spoonful arugula pesto
spritz of lemon juice

Preheat a grill to medium high heat. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Toss asparagus with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place chicken on a grill and cook for about 4 minutes on one side. When you are ready to flip the chicken, add the asparagus to the grill. Cook the chicken for another 3-4 minutes on the other side. Cook the asparagus for about 2 minutes on each side, tossing with tongs. Serve the asparagus alongside the chicken and top the chicken with the pesto. Spritz the asparagus with lemon and serve immediately.

I also decided to use the pesto for a fun take on breakfast. I have always seen recipes for "green eggs" so why not try it with my green? Even though the picture doesn't look like the most appetizing food stuff, it tasted really good. Since the pesto had so much salt, I decided to omit salt from the eggs.

Scrambled Eggs with Arugula Pesto

2 organic, free-range eggs
1 spoonful arugula pesto

Scramble the eggs over medium heat in a small saucepan. Top with a spoonful of pesto.

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