Monday, September 24, 2012

Sausage, Cheddar, and Rosemary Buns

Sausage Cheddar Rosemary Buns

Autumn has arrived. This summer was fun, but I could not be happier to be wearing long pants, scarves, jackets, and light sweaters. Even when it's gloomy, I still love it. I'm excited to see leaves changing color instead of just going from green to brown like they did in Los Angeles. This weather  means me spending more time in the kitchen. With some more time on my hands, I have been wracking up some recipes that require the oven because my apartment no longer swelters when I turn it on. These savory buns are so easy to make and would be great at a potluck brunch party. Paired with a side salad, they can easily be turned into dinner.

One year ago: Fig Yogurt Cake
Two years ago: Momed
Three years ago: Beso
Four years ago: Easy Butternut Squash Soup

Sausage, Cheddar, and Rosemary Buns
(Adapted from Serious Eats)

*Notes: The original recipe called for 12 ounces of sausage which was way too much. I had plenty leftover. I also upped the amount of cheese. These buns would are great with plain pizza dough, but I imagine the flavor would be even better with a rosemary whole wheat or other flavored dough. Lastly, my version required much more time to brown than the original recipe's 18 minutes. I baked mine for closer to 30.

Makes 9 buns

1 tablespoon olive oil (for brushing the pan)
8 ounces bulk sage or breakfast sausage
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 pound pizza dough
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Brush the inside of an 8x8 baking dish with olive oil and set aside.

Add the sausage to a large skillet and turn the heat to medium high. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the sausage has browned and is cooked through. Add the green onions and cook for 1 minute. Add the rosemary and remove from the heat.

On a floured surface, roll the dough out to an 10x8 inch rectangle. Brush the edges of the dough with the beaten egg.  Spread the sausage over the dough in an even layer. Top the sausage with an even layer of cheese. Roll the dough lengthwise to create a cylinder, tucking in the ends. Cut the roll into 9 equal pieces and place in the baking dish, cut side up. Cover the dish with a towel and let rise for 30 minutes.

Arrange the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.

Brush the tops of the buns with the remaining beaten egg. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tops have browned. Let the buns cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Funfetti Cake

Funfetti Cake

My sister was recently in town to celebrate her birthday. I was tasked with making a main dish and a dessert for a barbeque with a few friends. I was actually leaning towards cheesecake recipes because I have been craving cheesecake for months, but my sister was adamant about a non-chocolate cake. Eventually, we both agreed on a funfetti cake from scratch. It was a great night and I am fairly certain my sister had a memorable birthday. The cake was certainly a highlight. The light, sweet, and fluffy cake was accented with the best vanilla buttercream I have ever tried. I definitely am of the opinion that making the cake from scratch bested making it from a box. My cake frosting skills still need work, but they didn't take away from the tastiness of the cake.

Funfetti Cake

The cake is from Kokocooks who adapted from Williams-Sonoma. I was a little lighter on the sugar and used bigger "jimmie" sprinkles, but otherwise stayed true to the original. The buttercream is adapted from Gimme Some Oven and the only change I made was to leave out the milk. You can find the cake recipe here and the buttercream recipe here.

One year ago: Street Eats at The Taste
Two years ago: Animal Restaurant
Three years ago: Chaya Brasserie
Four years ago: Fig and Bacon Salad

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Greek Rice Bowls

Greek Rice Bowl

There is a little fast food restaurant near my apartment called Tzatiki Grill. I haven't been, but I hear it is like Chipotle with Greek flavors. I was intrigued by the idea of a "Greek bowl" and after my recent success with Greek nachos, I was ready to try the ingredients in a more portable lunch offering. This is an excellent diversion from the chicken and rice and salsa I normally tote to work for lunch and it feels food to change things up. The rice is based on a recipe I used to make with my mom. She made it in a similar way to fried rice, stir frying day old rice with spinach and plenty of garlic, but I have found a simpler way to make it though chopping spinach never really gets easier. Instead of having the tomatoes, cucumber, olives, and onion as separate toppings, I whipped them together for a simple relish/salsa that is excellent on it's own with tortilla or pita chips.

One year ago: Brunch at Cecconi's
Two years ago: Grilled Sausages with Figs and Mixed Greens
Three years ago: Cubano Sandwiches
Four years ago: Sweet Chili Shrimp with Sesame Soy Rice

Greek Rice Bowls
(By Esi)

Makes 4 servings

2 cups spinach rice (recipe follows)
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces ground turkey
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sprinkle with salt. Cook until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ground turkey cumin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until the turkey has cooked through, about 7 minutes.

Spinach Rice
(By Esi)

Makes 2 cups

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white rice
1 3/4 cups water or low sodium chicken stock
Salt to taste
1 cup finely chopped fresh spinach (you can use frozen spinach, but make sure the water is completely squeezed out)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the rice and toss to make sure it is coated in the onions, garlic, and oil. Stir constantly until the rice is toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the water and season to taste with salt. Let the mixture come to a boil then reduce to a simmer over low heat. Cover and cook for 20 minutes until the rice is cooked through. Add the chopped spinach to the pan and use a fork to simultaneously fluff the rice and mix in the spinach.

Tomato, Cucumber, Olive relish (recipe follows)
Tzatziki (homemade or store bought)
Crumbled Feta
Sliced pepperoncini

Tomato, Cucumber, Olive Relish
(By Esi)

Makes about 2 cups

4 Roma tomatoes, seeds scooped out and diced
1 cup peeled, seeded, and diced cucumber
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup roughly chopped black olives
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Juice from 1 lime
Salt to taste

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, olives, parsley, and lime juice. Season to taste with salt.

To assemble the bowls: Place 1/2 cup cooked spinach rice at the bottom of each bowl. Top each bowl with 2 ounces of the turkey mixture. Top each serving with tzatiki, tomato relish, feta, and sliced pepperoncini.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bacon and Egg Farro Risotto

Bacon and Egg Farro Risotto

This recipe is kind of an oxymoron. You make risotto a little healthier by using farro and then completely defile it by adding bacon. I was inspired to try making a risotto without the traditional arborio rice after my trip to Mo-Chica. I had some farro sitting around my pantry for a while so this was a great way to use it up. This very creamy risotto gets a salty and smoky punch from bacon with the lusciousness of the fried egg. Peppery arugula keeps the dish from feeling overwhelming. The leftovers help up surprisingly well for a couple of days and the dish is good with either a poached or fried egg. I prefer the texture of a fried egg. I am definitely an "alternative" risotto convert now!

One year ago: Bacon Lettuce Peach Sandwich
Two years ago: Chicks with Knives Hatchi Dinner at Breadbar
Three years ago: Vaca Frita and Croquetas de Jamon
Four years ago: Slow Food Nation

Bacon and Egg Farro Risotto
(Adapted from Oui, Chef)

Makes 2-4 servings

4 slices bacon, cut into lardons
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
3/4 cup farro, soaked for 8 hours and then drained
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups arugula leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
2-4 poached or fried eggs

Cook the bacon in a large skillet heated over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on towels. Add the onion to the pan and cook in the bacon fat until it has softened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a sauce pot until it is simmering.

Add the farro and white wine to the skillet with the onion, stir to combine. Add the heated chicken stock to the pan a half cup at a time until the stock is mostly absorbed between additions. Stir often until the farro is tender and suspended in a thick, creamy liquid. Add the Parmesan and butter to the pan and stir well to combine. Stir in the arugula and remove the pan from the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve the risotto warm topped with a fried or poached egg.

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