Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Rainbow Room's Carrot and Peanut Salad

Carrot and Peanut Salad

And we're back to our regularly scheduled programming. Did you have a good weekend? I certainly did. In fact, it may have been a little too good. The Adele show was so much fun, but I was really hurting yesterday. For the better part of the day, all I consumed was pizza and part of a cupcake so when I got home, I was looking for something slightly healthier. Luckily, I had just dug out my copy of Forever Summer that I like to scroll through every once in a while. This salad takes two seconds to make and it was exactly what I needed to end the day on a slightly more virtuous note than how it started. Unfortunately it's not the prettiest thing to look at, but I am not beating myself up over that. I love carrots, especially the organic variety from McGrath Family Farm. They are my go-to snack during the work week. The flavors work so well together. The natural sweetness of the carrots plays off the tartness from the vinegar and the peanuts and sesame oil add a nice nuttiness. I definitely see this salad being added to my regular meal rotation.

The Rainbow Room's Carrot and Peanut Salad
(As found in Forever Summer (Style Network's))

Makes 1 serving

4 medium carrots, peeled
1/3 cup salted peanuts
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon peanut oil
Few drops sesame oil

Grate the carrots very coarsely. In a bowl, combine them with the peanuts and add the remaining ingredients. Toss to combine.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Chocolate Chip and Peanut Blondies

Chocolate Chip and Peanut Blondies

Yesterday was a crazy day. When I got to work, we were told the power was out and to come back several hours later. A couple of my coworkers and I decided to go see a movie. Before we left, we learned of one tragic event and then when we got back, we learned of another. There is something about bad news that makes people want baked goods. Luckily, I had just the thing. Now that I work with more than two other people, I have more people with which to torture with desserts. Of course Tony will always be my #1 taste tester, but there is something nice about sharing treats with people who aren't so worried about what they will do to their girlish figure. I have only baked blondies one other time and I really enjoyed them. This recipe could not be more simple to prepare and good gracious they were good. Just adding something simple like salty peanuts kicked them up to another dimension and lucky for me, my coworkers seemed to agree. These blondies have a light, cakey texture and even though I thought they were great on their own, I am sure they would have been even better with the ice cream and chocolate sauce pairing that was recommended in the recipe. I think I will add these to our menu for the Hollywood Bowl this weekend. Thanks to all of you who suggested recipes. I can't wait to share how everything turned out. Have a wonderful weekend!

Chocolate Chip and Peanut Blondies
(From Bon Appetit, June 2009)

Makes 12-16 pieces

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick)
1 1/4 cups (packed) golden brown sugar (I used dark brown)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts, divided
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 8x8x2-inch baking pan*.

Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl to blend. Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over low heat.

Remove from the heat; add sugar, and whisk until smooth**. Cool mixture 2 minutes; whisk in eggs and vanilla. Using a flexible spatula, stir in flour mixture, then half of the peanuts and half of the chocolate chips. Spread the batter in the prepared pan; sprinkle with remaining peanuts and chocolate chips.

Bake blondies until golden, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and edges just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack.

Cut blondies into 12-16 squares. Serve.

*The recipe calls for a metal pan, I used a glass pan with great results.

**The mixture will take a while to come together, just keep whisking until the butter and sugar are well combined.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stir Fried Bok Choy with Soba Noodles

Stir Fried Bok Choy with Soba Noodles

It seems a lot of my go-to meals for weekday lunches have involved some kind of stir fry. They are quick, easy to make, and can be changed up so many different ways. Here is another incredibly simple one that is an example of a jumping off point for so many things. I had this with just the bok choy, but I am planning on adding some edamame and grilled chicken the next time I make . I can't believe a month of grilling season has already gone by and I haven't used mine yet. I will try to remedy that soon. I think this would also be great with a fried or poached egg on top, similar to the sesame-garlic soba noodles I made a while ago (and has become a great dish for when I can't decide what to eat because I always have all of the ingredients on hand). If you decide to try this, have fun with it!

Stir Fried Bok Choy with Soba Noodles

Stir Fried Bok Choy with Soba Noodles
(Lightly adapted from Serious Eats)

Makes 2 servings

1/4 cup cold chicken stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon corn starch
2 tablespoons peanut oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup minced spring onions or scallions
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
10 ounces bok choy, stems removed and sliced, leaves torn into pieces and separated from stems
3 ounces soba noodles, cooked only half as long as the package instructions and rinsed under cold water
2 tablespoons roasted and salted peanuts, chopped

Combine the chicken stock, soy sauce, and corn starch together in a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, onions or scallions, and chili flakes and fry, stirring constantly to prevent burning, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sliced bok choy stems and fry for another minute, until just starting to soften.

Add the peanuts and cooked soba noodles, stirring to combine. Add the stock and soy sauce mixture, and stir to coat, cooking until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the bok choy leaves and stir until just wilted. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shrimp Cakes with Blackberry Dipping Sauce

Shrimp Cakes with Blackberry Dipping Sauce

Lately, I haven't been making my usual grocery shopping lists, but I like to have certain things on hand for if a recipe strikes me as interesting. During my quickie farmers market run last weekend, I decided to get one thing that I haven't used in a recipe yet on this blog. I love blackberries, but haven't really ever cooked with them. I found many recipes for tarts, crumbles, and pies, but this one struck me because it took sweet blackberries and paired them in a savory dish. Since I was being spontaneous, I had to use what I had on hand which meant instead of crab, I had to use shrimp to make the cakes. I don't normally buy mayonnaise, but I found some in my roommate's section of the fridge. Shh...don't tell her. This is fairly simple and very quick to make since shrimp cook so fast. I love the color that the blackberries gave the sauce and the cool sweet sauce went very well with the spice in the shrimp cakes.

Shrimp Cake with Blackberry Dipping Sauce

I hope your week is going well. I am getting more and more excited to see Adele this Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl. Of course we are going to do the evening right and bring a fantastic picnic. I am not sure what exactly we will be having, but Raulito has put in a request for feta salsa. Have an excellent picnic recipe you think I should try? Leave it in the comments!

Blackberry Dipping Sauce

Shrimp Cakes with Blackberry Dipping Sauce
(Adapted from Food, Wine, and Dogs)

1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and finely chopped
2 green onions, minced
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg lighly beaten
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Canola oil
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4-5 fresh blackberries

In a large bowl mix the shrimp, green onions, chili garlic sauce, Parmesan, breadcrumbs and egg until well combined. Season with salt and a pinch of pepper.

Coat the bottom of a large skillet with oil and heat over medium-low heat. Use a tablespoon to form small balls of the shrimp mixture, then pat them gently to form cakes. Carefully lower the cakes into the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until golden and the shrimp have cooked through. Drain on towels.

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and blackberries, smashing the blackberries with a fork. Serve with the shrimp cakes.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Campanile Pig Roast

Pig Roast Dinner

The IM read "Do you like meat? More specifically, do you like pig". In my head I was thinking "uh, have you MET me?" Yes, I was a pescitarian for two years, but when those random cravings for bacon kicked in, I gave it up. Sure, I try and eat a mostly plant based diet from day to day, but I'll be damned before I turn away some pork goodness. So when my friend Kris (suggester of the ever so awesome Strawberry Buttermilk Cake) invited me to join his friends at Campanile's 20th anniversary pig roast celebration, I couldn't say no...despite the pathetic state of my bank account. Despite having spent the last seven years of my life in Los Angeles, I have never been to Nancy Siverton and Mark Peel's restaurant even though I have been longing to go to their Thursday grilled cheese night for some time. My only hesitation was that I would be going to dinner with seven strangers, but given the fact that I can get along with a block of wood, I wasn't too stressed about that.

Pig Roast Dinner

My Saturday day was incredibly lazy and given the overcast weather, I felt perfectly fine staying in and watching a Real Housewives of NJ marathon instead of getting my script coverage done like a good girl. I kind of had to psych myself up to go out, but I am so glad I did. We were all expecting to sit outside with barrels of hay, but I guess the four sprinkles earlier in the day led the restaurant management to move the event indoors. We later learned that everyone in the restaurant was there for the same reason. Six pigs, four hundred people..can you think of anything better? To start, we were served with a large basket of cornbread that I assume came from La Brea Bakery right downstairs. The cornbread was amazing. Nice and sweet (the way I like it) with a rich butter on the side. I was pretty happy that we weren't going to have to stand in a long line for a buffet. Instead, individual plates with pig and beans were brought to our table and large family servings of the sides were placed in the center. To go with the pig and baked beans there was an iceberg wedge, green beans, lobster and corn salad, and a curried potato salad.

Pig Roast Dinner

My two favorite things on the plate were the beans and the lobster and corn salad. I have never been a lover of corn. I think I was traumatized from being a kid with braces and having it always get caught in between. Anyway, the salad was so good, we ended up getting an extra helping of it for the table. The sweet corn and lobster played well off each other and the dressing wasn't to heavy and there was even more freshness from the tomato and shaved asparagus. Talk about a party in my mouth. After all the food and conversation and of course wine, I wasn't sure I would be able to stomach a dessert, but it seems the clever chefs knew what we would be in the mood for. For dessert we were served an apple crumble. Instead of it being topped with rich vanilla ice cream, it was topped with a bit of whipped cream and a light lemon sorbet. It was completely unexpected and totally welcome after all of the heavy food we had just consumed.

Apple Crumble with Lemon Sorbet

So yes, the food was amazing, but the best part of the evening was the company and conversation. I was in the company of some people who seriously know their food and who were really fun to be around. I especially loved that we were able to discuss episodes of Barefoot Contessa in depth without anyone looking at me with their eyes glazed over. It was a great night with new friends that I hope to see again very soon.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Strawberry Tart

Strawberry Tart

Lately I have been buying strawberries every week. Sometimes, I use them in amazing recipes, and sometimes I just snack on them. This past weekend I bought some with the full intention of just having them for a mid-afternoon snack, until I caught this post on Closet Cooking. I swear, Kevin's recipes make me want to get in the kitchen right away and make them. The best part was having all of the ingredients. I literally had just enough strawberry preserves, puff pastry, and pistachios all laying around. I know this makes me seem like a bit of a freak, but I like to be prepared in case an awesome recipe like this comes up and I want to make it. In any case, I have been planning on doing a whole list of things I keep in my kitchen in order to whip up a delicious recipe, but I have been more than a little busy lately. I promise to get around to it soon so you too can have to tools to whip up something delicious in no time. Let me tell you, this tart is amazing. With the natural sweetness of strawberries and preserves, sugar is not necessary and the cinnamon adds a nice warmth. The crunch of pistachios gives it a little something extra and you really can't go wrong with buttery puff pastry.

Woooo, it's almost the weekend. What do you have planned?

Strawberry Tart
(Adapted from Closet Cooking)

Makes 4-6 servings

1 cup strawberries, washed, trimmed and sliced
Dash ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons strawberry preserves
1 sheet all butter puff pastry
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
1 tablespoon pistachios, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil*.

Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Score a line around the pastry, about 1/2 inch from the edge. Brush the outer border with the egg wash mixture.

In a small bowl, mix together the strawberries, preserves, and cinnamon. Spread the strawberry mixture over the inside of the border on the pastry. Bake for 15-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Serve warm, topped with the pistachios.

*If using foil, lightly spray with canola spray.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pork and Green Bean Stir Fry

Pork and Green Bean Stir Fry

Hello my friends. I hope you are all having a good week. A few weeks ago when Raul and I went to the Hollywood farmers market, I was excited to pick up some pasture raised pork from Rocky Canyon Farm. You may find this hard to believe, but I have had a hell of a time finding ground pork in my area and to find a product that is sustainably raised and inexpensive is a rare find. I immediately picked some up to save for later.

Pork and Green Bean Stir Fry

I have only done a little bit of cooking in the past couple of weeks and most of it is recipes I have already made. These recipes have really come in handy because I can make a big pot of food at the beginning of the week and not have to worry about what I am going to have for lunch each day. Of course, that means I have less to share with you. In order to mix things up this week, I made a batch of this fabulous and simple recipe last night. The green beans were looking great at the farmers market this past weekend so I got quite a few and used probably more than I should have, but I have had a love affair with green beans ever since I was a child and I can't resist their crunchy goodness. One of my biggest pet peeves is green beans in a can. Whose bright idea was that? They should probably be shot...anyway, I digress. I prepped much of this the night before and it was a breeze to throw together last night. There is a nice sweet and salty combo going on and the kick from the red pepper flakes is just enough, but not overpowering. I got about three decent sized servings from this recipe which is perfect. Just enough for lunches for the rest of the week (and of course a little taste so I would be able to describe it to you today).

I have some exciting things coming up including dinner at Campanile this weekend and the Adele show in a week and a half (yes, it's my third time seeing her). So exciting and I can't wait to share with you all!

Pork and Green Bean Stir Fry
(Adapted from Tamarind and Thyme)

Makes 2-3 servings

2 tablespoons canola oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
7 ounces ground pork
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1-2 dashes soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons water
2 big handfuls green beans, roughly chopped
Cooked rice for serving

In a small bowl, combine the sauces, the sugar and the water. Stir to combine and set aside. Prepare the rest of the ingredients before starting to cook.

Heat a pan/wok over low heat and when hot, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and stir fry for about 30 seconds. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and continue stirring until fragrant. Add the pork and turn up the heat and then stir fry until cooked. Add the green beans and stir through. Add the sauce mixture and again, stir through and let it all cook through. Let the sauce reduce by about half and serve over rice.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Daring Cooks: Potstickers

Shrimp Potstickers

Here's my second Daring Cooks challenge. This round is hosted by Jen of the fabulous Use Real Butter. I swear, no one paid me to say that. I just think Jen's site is amazingly beautiful.

I have been wanting to make my own dumplings for a while. I knew it could be time consuming, but in my brief period of unemployment this was exactly the type of cooking I was excited to do...and that is when I made them. The catch with these was that we had to even made the dumpling skins from scratch. I found them easy to make, but with the rolling and folding...well, let me just say this is not something to attempt when you are hungry.

Shrimp Potstickers

I had some shrimp in my freezer so I went with a simple shrimp filling that I found on Everyday Food. These came together very easily even with the time it took. My only problem was that I cooked my second batch in a stainless steel pan and many of the potstickers stuck to the bottom of the pan. Although they were kind of a bitch to scrape off, they were really delicious. I whipped the dipping sauce together quickly because by the time they were ready I was starving. It is a bit difficult remember by now, but it was a mix of soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, agave nectar, red pepper flakes, and green onions. I'm pretty sure there was grated ginger in there too. Basically just add each to taste. One of the things that helped me a lot with this was Jen's step-by-step tutorial on her site from making these a while back. That's where you can find the dough recipe. The filling recipe is below.

Potsticker Dipping Sauce

Dumpling Filling
(From Everyday Food)

1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 large egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons chili oil, or 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil mixed with a pinch of cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 medium carrot, grated
3/4 cup finely chopped (about 2 ounces) Napa cabbage
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 small scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced (about 1 small) shallot
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Coarsely chop half of the shrimp by hand, and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine remaining shrimp, egg white, chili oil, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Puree into a smooth paste. Transfer to a medium bowl, add chopped cilantro, reserved chopped shrimp, carrot, cabbage, ginger, scallions, shallots, salt, and pepper, and mix well.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Herbed Bread

Herbed Bread

I'm sorry it took so long for me to share this bread with you. It's really good and I don't know why I have been hiding it. It's also spectacularly simple to make in the stand mixer, but I think it would be pretty simple done by hand. It just requires a bit more arm work. I used thyme as my herb of choice and let me tell you, this bread makes an excellent grilled cheese sandwich. I didn't get the bloom I had hoped for, but even with the all-purpose flour, this was a nice, light loaf. Light in terms of weight...with a stick of butter in the mix and topped with olive oil, this is not a recipe I will be making every week, but it is definitely a nice, fast replacement for my regular no knead recipe.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend. I am off to get ready for (another) wedding. Have a good one!

Herbed Bread

Herbed Bread Chunk

Herbed Bread
(From The Pioneer Woman Cooks)

20 ounces all-purpose flour (use bread flour if you have it)
8 ounces water
4 ounces melted butter with chopped herbs (I used about 2 tablespoons of thyme)
2 teaspoons salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon instant yeast
Extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. You can also do this by hand in a large bowl. Mix or knead for about 10 minutes until you achieve a windowpane with the dough.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it sit 1-4 hours until it has doubled in size. Once the dough has doubled, knead for 1-2 minutes to let the yeast redistribute.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat the dough with olive oil and sprinkle the top with extra kosher salt. Cut a large "X" into the top of the dough. Bake in a covered cast iron pan* for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and cook an additional 15-20 minutes until browned.

*I used a stainless steel dutch oven since I don't have a cast iron (my birthday is coming up though, wink).

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

First I saw it on Smitten Kitchen. Then Mary the Food Librarian did a variation of it. The other day I was instant messaging with a friend of mine and he mentioned it too. It was only a matter of time before I made a version of the famed buttermilk cake found in the most recent issue of Gourmet magazine. I got home about ten minutes earlier than normal last night so I decided it would be the perfect time to make this cake. I had an especially light farmers market outing this week, but I did manage to pick up some strawberries which were some of the best strawberries I have ever had. I'm not sure if it's because I waited a couple of days to use them or because it was an especially great crop. Either way, they were bursting with juicy sweetness and I have plenty left over to snack on. This cake is super deluxe easy to make and since I made a small batch, I think it's easier mixed by hand. All you need are a couple of bowls and a whisk. Even though this is such a simple combination of flavors, it is one outstanding outcome. I am about to have the rest of this for breakfast this morning, but what a treat it was to have a slice of this last night. As I was pouring the batter into the cake pan, I thought about how nice it would be to mix some lemon zest into the batter which I will try the next time I make this. As suggested in the magazine, this batter would be great with any summer berry. I'm thinking blackberries will be the choice for the next go-round. Anyway, I highly recommend this cake and since it is such a simple pleasure, I think you will enjoy it a lot.

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake Slice

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake
(Adapted from Gourmet, June 2009)

*A couple of notes, I used slightly less sugar called for than what I wrote here. Also, I checked my cake at the 20 minute mark and it was just about done so I didn't keep it in the oven for too much longer. The pick came out clean although in the picture, there appears to be batter in the center of the slice. For this small batch, it is probably easier to do the mixing by hand with a whisk. This cake is best slightly warm on the day it's made.

Makes 1 4.5-inch cake

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg
1/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, halved

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with rack in the middle. Butter and flour a 4.5-inch round cake pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat butter and 1/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well.

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter the strawberries evenly over the top and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.

Bake until the cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 20-30 minutes. Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool to warm, 10 more minutes.

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Strawberry Buttermilk Cake Slice

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Rhubarb Cocktails

Rhubarb Soda Cocktail

One of the things I love to do on a lazy weekend is to mix up a batch of cocktails and sit on my caged in porch while working on my computer. It was a little too chilly to fully appreciate sitting outside on Saturday, but it didn't stop me from mixing some delicious drinks. I had picked up some rhubarb at the Hollywood farmers market last weekend and was anxious to use it. A little while ago I saw this rhubarb soda on the Culinate site and thought it would probably be delicious with a little vodka mixed in. They must have read my mind because this past week I came across this rhubarb cosmopolitan on the same site. I still have a bunch of lemons from Raulito's brother so I just used those and came up with a delicious combination of both of the recipes. After I had tried each drink as written, I decided to just fill a glass with some ice, add the rhubarb syrup, some vodka, a splash of lemon juice, and then topped it off with some sparkling water. Since I prefer my drinks on the tart side, it was my favorite combination and a really delicious (if not naughty) way to enjoy rhubarb.

Rhubarb Cosmopolitan

Rhubarb Simple Syrup
(From Culinate)

Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb (about 5 stalks)
About 1 cup sugar (I used a little less)
1 1/2 cups water

Place rhubarb, sugar, and 1½ cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the syrup is bright pink.

Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Strain syrup into a large jar.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Calamari "Noodles" with Olives and Arugula

Calamari Noodles with Olives and Arugula

Once again I was able to sleep in on Saturday which is something that is becoming increasingly rare in my life these days. This has been one of those nice weekends that I didn't have any plans and the weather was perfect for staying in and getting some work done in the kitchen. I really didn't do a whole lot yesterday. I had just defrosted some squid because I was all set to make this recipe and then that crazy Anne Burrell chick disrupted my plans. I have mentioned before, but I don't really watch her show because of her weird grunting and fist pumping, but I caught the tail end of her describing these noodles and I was intrigued. I am not really sure how they worked in her plan of chicken under a brick, but for a light Saturday dinner, this is exactly what I was looking for. To sop up the amaaazing juices, I used my favorite no knead bread recipe which I literally mixed together as soon as I saw this calamari being made. I have made this bread so many times, I don't even need (knead?) to look at the original recipe any more. One of the keys to making this a great dish is to have everything ready before you begin because it is quick going once you start. It is fast and easy and delicious. There are a ton of juicy drippings so you may want to use extra bread which rubbed with garlic is my culinary obsession for the week. The arugula gives this just enough freshness and a nice bite. I highly recommend this recipe.

Enjoy your Sunday! I am off to the farmers market and then to see the movie UP. What are you all up to today?

PS, to my Greek crew...Lorenzo Lamas!! Happy Anniversary :)

Calamari Noodles with Olives Over Arugula

Calamari "Noodles" with Olives and Arugula
(Adapted from Anne Burrell)

Makes 2-3 servings

1/2 pound clean calamari, tubes and tentacles (or only tubes, if you prefer)
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, smashed, plus 1 for rubbing bread
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons kalamata or gaeta olives, slivered
2 slices crusty bread
1 large handful washed baby arugula
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish

Cut each calamari tube in strips lengthwise that are about 1/4-inch wide. If using the tentacles, cut in segments.

Coat a large saute pan generously with olive oil. Add the smashed garlic cloves and crushed red pepper and bring to a high heat. When the garlic is golden brown and very aromatic remove the garlic and discard. Carefully add the calamari and quickly toss or stir in the hot oil. Season with salt and saute for 1 to 2 minutes or until the calamari turn from translucent to opaque. Add the wine and the olives and cook until the wine has reduced by about half. Taste to see if the seasoning is correct.

While the calamari is cooking, toast or grill the bread. Rub the bread with the remaining garlic clove and drizzle generously with olive oil.

Divide the arugula between 4 serving bowls. Spoon the calamari and juices over the greens. Cut each piece of bread in half on the bias and arrange on the calamari. Garnish with parsley and serve.
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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Broiled Chicken with Bacon over Egg Fried Rice

Broiled Chicken with Bacon over Egg Fried Rice

Hello friends! How I have missed you. I know it has only been a couple of days, but it feels like forever to me. I am still getting used to being back in the super busy world of Hollywoodland...I have always been in the biz, but but in case you didn't know, I am getting adjusted to being at a new, old job. I am so glad to have found something so quickly in this economy, but let me tell ya. I am BEAT when I get home. I barely have time to catch up on a day's reading before I crawl into bed and get ready to do it all over again the next day. Anyway, I knew this was coming and I am just going to have to find my groove, but it could take a while so bear with me.

On to the food. After a week of eating oatmeal, carrots, and leftover onion tart, I was ready for something different last night. I have mentioned it before, but on Friday nights I want a nice combination of naughty and yet quick. This recipe was both those things despite only prepping the rice the night before. It is delicious and flavorful, especially with a few additions like oyster sauce and lots of fresh black pepper. On my last major TJs trip, I accidentally bought organic chicken thighs instead of breasts, but I had some breast tenders leftover from a while ago so I ended up using a mix in this recipe. They were really good and a nice way to prepare the chicken while getting on with the rest of the dish. I always like to add some garlic and oyster sauce to my fried rice and a bunch of fresh ground black pepper was all I need to make this a home run. I had a lot of fun making this dish and I am excited to have some free time tomorrow (in between script coverage) to scroll through the most recent issues of Gourmet and Saveur to come up with even more great things to share with you all soon. Enjoy your weekend!

Broiled Chicken with Bacon over Egg Fried Rice

Broiled Chicken with Bacon Over Egg Fried Rice
(Adapted from Gourmet, June 2009)

Makes 2-4 servings

2 skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used one chicken thigh and one chicken breast)
2 bacon slices, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3 scallions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chilled cooked white rice
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons oyster sauce

Preheat broiler.

Toss chicken, and bacon with 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil and a scant 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a 4-sided sheet pan lined with foil. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat, stirring once or twice, until chicken is just cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a bit of oil in a large wok or nonstick skillet. Add the egg and cook through. Remove the egg from the heat and set aside. Add the sesame oil, scallions and garlic and cook over high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds adding more vegetable oil if necessary. Add the rice and toss until well-combined. Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss well until everything is combined. Add the egg back into the mixture and toss well.

Serve chicken with rice.
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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Free-form Onion Tart

Free-Form Onion Tart

If you find yourself with a little bit of time this weekend...Make. This. Tart. I cannot say enough about it. It takes some time with the chilling of dough and caramelizing of onions, but the steps themselves are super easy and well worth the effort.

Free-form Onion Tart

The crust is flaky and buttery and so easy to work with. I think it is one of the best pie crusts I have ever made. I will use it from now on. The sweet onions with the lemony thyme are an absolute dream. All this needs is a salad dressed simply with lemon juice and olive oil and of course of glass of wine and you will be in simple supper heaven.

Free-Form Onion Tart

Free-Form Onion Tart
(Slightly adapted from Food & Wine, May 2009)

Makes 4-6 servings

For the dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (approx., I used a little bit less)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
5 tablespoons ice cold water

For the filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 pounds sweet onions, thinly sliced
6 thyme sprigs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk or water for egg wash

To Make the Dough: In a bowl, whisk the flour with the salt. Using your fingers or a dough blender, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle the water over the flour and stir gently just until incorporated; gently press to form a dough. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a skillet, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the onions and thyme and cook over moderately high heat, until softened, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, until the onions are golden, 20-40 minutes longer (note, the onions will continue to cook in the oven so it is not necessary to completely caramelize them). Remove from the heat and discard the thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool.

Position a rack on the lowest rung and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil (if using foil, spray with cooking spray). On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 10-inch round and transfer to the baking sheet. Spread the onions on the round, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the edge of the dough up and over the filling and brush the edge with the egg wash.

Bake the tart on the bottom shelf for about 40 minutes, until the dough is richly browned on the bottom.

Transfer the tart to the top shelf and bake for about 5 minutes longer, until the top of the crust is browned. Transfer the tart to a rack and let cool slightly. Cut the warm tart into wedges and serve.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fava Beans with Red Onions and Garlic

Favas with Red Onions and Garlic

This past weekend, Raul and I decided to change up our weekly routine and hit up the Hollywood Farmers market instead of our regular Beverly Hills market. It was a bleary, drizzly day but the produce could not have been more amazing! There were some huge ass beets, tons of greens, strawberries, cherries and in particular, these fava beans. I was about to pick up some whole beans and spend my afternoon shelling them, but right next to the bin, I noticed some pre-shelled beans and I decided to save myself an hour or two. If you have the time, I suggest picking up the un-shelled beans and doing the work yourself because you end up paying a lot more for the pre-shelled version. This was one of the first weekends in a long time that I went to the farmers market with nothing on my list. I just wanted to be inspired by what the SoCal spring had to share. Since, I didn't have a recipe planned for the favas, I put out a Twitter call for some help. Within seconds, I heard from Andy at The Wind Attack whose amazing site I drool over all the time. He eats so incredibly well and I am jealous of all the dinner parties he has with his friends! Plus, he has amazing photography. If you haven't checked out his site yet, what are you waiting for? Anyway, pre-shelled beans makes this recipe a breeze and I was especially excited that I had all the ingredients in my kitchen. I overcooked my beans ever so slightly, but I loved the fresh flavors in this dish! The nuttiness of the favas is the star, but of course there are the sweet onions and brightness from lemon juice that make this such a great dish.

Enjoy some pics of farmers market finds!

Beets at Hollywood

Favas at Hollywood

Peaches in Hollywood

Sapote in Hollywood

Fava Beans with Red Onions and Garlic
(From The Wind Attack)

Makes 2 side-dish servings

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups shelled fava beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Parsley for garnish, optional

Bring a few inches of water to boil in a saucepan. Add the fava beans and cook for four to eight minutes, when the beans are tender, yet slightly toothsome.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the onions when hot. Cook stirring frequently, if the onions start to brown, add a half cup of water to help them cook down without burning.

Drain the fava beans and add to the skillet. Cook for another two minutes, then add the garlic, lemon and salt. Cook for one more minute, then remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish. Top with a few grinds of pepper and fresh minced parsley, if desired.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Cranberry and Hibiscus Granola

Cranberry and Hibiscus Granola

Last summer I made a granola that was so good and easy, I have often thought about making it again, but I wanted to do something a little different this time. I had dried cranberries and dried hibiscus in my pantry and thought they would be great in a granola. The last few days we have been experiencing the first signs of May Gray/June Gloom and the sun has made zero to few appearances. It was the perfect time to preheat the oven and bake a few things. This granola is so simple and the smell of cinnamon was absolutely amazing! I enjoyed this granola over some agave sweetened Oikos Organic Greek yogurt. I received my coupons for it a while ago, but I just finally got around to picking up my sample. I loved the yogurt! For being fat free, it's incredibly thick and creamy and was a great vessel for my granola. I'm definitely going to be having some good breakfasts this week.

On a side note, I am going to be incredibly busy from now on. I will try to reply to comments as fast as possible, but it will take me longer to visit your blogs and I may be posting less. Once I get into a groove, I will hopefully be able to pick things up, but if you don't see me commenting as much for a little while, please don't be offended, I still love you and want to hear from you!

Cranberry and Hibiscus Granola
(Adapted from Adventures in Shaw)

Makes about 4 cups of granola

2 cups oats (I used old fashioned)
2/3 cup nuts, roughly chopped (I used pistachios and almonds)
3 tablespoons whole flax seeds
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and lightly spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, nuts, whole and ground flax and cinnamon and stir to combine. Whisk together the vanilla and maple syrup and using a wooden spoon, stir into the oats mixture. Add the canola oil and toss everything to combine.

Spread the mixture on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Using a heat-resistant spatula, stir the granola to make sure everything browns evenly. Bake for another 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Once the granola has cooled completely, stir in the cranberries and hibiscus flowers.

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