Monday, August 1, 2011

Grilled Summer Corn and Heirloom Tomato Salad

I was walking through the aisle at Whole Foods the other day, looking for inspiration for dinner and saw these free recipe cards hanging over by the corn. I made it for lunch yesterday and it was VERY tasty. A true keeper.

4 ears grilled corn on the cob
1 C chopped heirloom tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 T extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp chipotle chile powder (optional)
3 T chopped cilantro

Cut the corn off the cob by holding the corn lengthwise on a cutting board and slicing the kernels off carefully with a sharp knife, taking care not to cut any of the cob off with the corn. (you should have about 3 cups of kernels). Combine the corn with the tomatoes, red onions, and jalepeno peppers in a large bowl. Toss with oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Stir in the chipotle chile powder, if using. Fold in the chopped cilantro and serve.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fattoush Salad

One of my current favorite salads is at a place called "Blue Barn" on Chestnut Street, in the Marina District of San Francisco. It is called a Fattoush, which is essentially a bread salad, Arabic style. You know, a way to use up stale pita bread, the way the Italians do with their old bread in Panzanella. Blue Barn uses romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onions, scallions, chickpeas, nicoise olives, feta, mixed herbs and crispy pitas, with a champagne-sumac vinaigrette. I crave it regularly.

Well, I had a hankering for this salad the other day and tried to remember what went inside, and threw this together. It was so tasty. Here is the picture of my leftovers the next day when, unfortunately, the pita chips were all gone already. It was still really good, though!

The ingredients were:
Romaine lettuce
Halved grape tomatoes
Chopped Kalamata olives
Crumbled feta
Sliced cucumbers
Sliced red onions
Roughly chopped parsley
Balsamic vinaigrette
Broken pita chips (be generous!)

I used amounts that just looked right to me. You definitely want the vegetables to be present in every bite. This is not a mostly-lettuce type dish.

Do you have a favorite salad? Please share! 'Tis the season with all this great spring and summer produce aplenty!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chilled Noodle Salad with Mango

I made this salad yesterday because I got a whole box of mangoes earlier this week we are trying to use up (not that it is very difficult to do!). I love noodle salads and this one really hit the spot. The seasoning was perfect. I added a little shredded rotisserie chicken to make it a little more filling. It is a twist on the Vietnamese bun thit nuong noodle dish. Yum!

Tonight we are going to make Mangoes with Sticky Rice...

Serves 6

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
1 red jalapeño chile, finely chopped

8 oz. dried rice-stick noodles
1 large carrot, cut into thin strips
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leaf lettuce
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup bean sprouts
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, crushed, optional
To make Dressing: Warm all ingredients in saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Cool.

To make Salad: Soak noodles in hot water 15 minutes. Drain. Cook noodles in pot of boiling water 4 1/2 minutes. Add carrot, and cook 30 seconds more. Drain in colander, and rinse under cold water. Drain. Toss noodle mixture with lettuce, basil, mint, and 1/2 cup Dressing. Divide among 4 bowls. Top with cucumber slices, bean sprouts, and green onion. Arrange mango slices on top, and drizzle with remaining Dressing. Sprinkle with cilantro and peanuts, if desired.
Nutritional Information
Per SERVING: Calories: 269, Protein: 6g, Total fat: 0.5g, Saturated fat: g, Carbs: 62g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 359mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugars: 26g
from Vegetarian Times

Friday, June 11, 2010

I made these cookies yesterday and they were really good. I rarely make giant cookies, but it was kind of fun to make some that looked like they belonged in a bakery instead of my kitchen. I used chopped Bittersweet Sharffen Berger chocolate and peanut butter chips instead of the types the recipe called for. I also think the 2 teaspoons of salt make the cookie. It adds a great balance to a rich treat.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep: 10 minutes Total: 45 minutes, plus chilling
Makes 24.

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped


In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high until light and fluffy, 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Mix in flour mixture just until incorporated; fold in chocolate chips and chunks.
Using a 1/4-cup ice-cream scoop or a large spoon, drop dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (you should have 24) and refrigerate 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Arrange 6 unbaked cookies, 3 inches apart, on each of two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until edges are light golden brown, 17 to 18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool. Bake remaining dough using new parchment.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I have a problem

You see, I am an addict. Aioli. I cannot get enough of the stuff. In particular, Wild Wood's Garlic Aioli. Wikipedia's definition of aioli is:

Aioli (Provençal Occitan alhòli[1], Catalan all-i-oli) is a sauce made of garlic and olive oil. Normally egg is also added for ease of mixing. There are many variations, such as the addition of mustard. In Occitan cuisine, aioli is traditionally served with seafood, fish soup, and croutons, in a dish called merluça amb alhòli. In Malta, arjoli or ajjoli is commonly made with the addition of either crushed galletti or tomato. In Australia it is commonly eaten with hot chips. In the Occitan Valleys of Italy it is served with potatoes[2] boiled with salt and bay laurel. It is usually served at room temperature. The name aioli (alhòli) comes from Provençal alh 'garlic' . Aioli is, like mayonnaise, an emulsion or a suspension of small globules of oil and oil soluble compounds in water and water soluble compounds. Egg yolk is a commonly used emulsifier but mustard and garlic both have emulsion-producing properties. Classic aioli is made without egg, though many aioli recipes use it.

About a year ago we were at a party that had the best veggie platter ever. It was gorgeous, delicious and non-traditional. There were roasted Blue Finn potatoes (those beautiful deep blue-ish purple ones), steamed asparagus and roasted golden beets. In the center was a big bowl of- you guessed it- aioli! It was so simple and tasty. I couldn't get enough of it and thus began my search for the perfect aioli recipe to recreate this easy appetizer.

I tried recipes from reputable chefs, which turned out too thick, or too yellow, or too strident, or too whatever. Then one day I was in Andronico's Supermarket and saw this jar in the refrigerated section across from the deli. I went ahead and bought it even though it was like $6 for a jar of what was essentially flavored mayo. And, it was vegan! All the recipes I had tried had eggs. But, the ingredients here were all natural and I decided to give it a chance. Everywhere I take it (with my roasted veggie tray) it gets rave reviews. Lately I've been back in an aioli mood and can't think of anything that wouldn't taste better without it on top. But I've got to stop! It is basically fat I can't stop putting on everything. I would never, in a million years, put a pile of mayo on the side of plate. I've had sweet potato fries almost every day for the last week- just to eat the aioli.

Then I discovered that the co-op grocery store around the corner carries it. I will never again be without. :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

easter 2009

I'm finally getting around to posting about Easter! We had a few friends over for a traditional dinner. The kids did a fun egg hunt outside and we got to share lots of great food and great company.

I set the table with some nice branches I got at the flower market. I was really excited because I showed up there right at the close of business a couple days before Easter and saw them. I was trying to decide which bunch to get and the lady ended up giving me two bunches for the price of one because one didn't have quite as many flowers as the other. Yay! Love deals like that. Zach also helped me make some little birds' nests for the table settings. We melted 1 cup of Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips with 1/4 cup of creamy peanut butter. Then we stirred in 2 cups of corn flakes and dropped 1/4 cupfuls onto parchment, pushing gently in the center to form a nest shape. Once they firmed up we put a few Cadbury mini eggs inside and placed on small plates at everyone's seats.

For appetizers we had three things: Brochettes of Melon, Prosciutto and Fresh Mozzarella, Parmesan Walnut Salad in Endive Leaves and these great little cucumber sandwiches my friend Susie introduced to me a couple years ago.

Then we had Raspberry Soup, again (the recipe is in last Easter's post). This is one of my favorite traditions we started a couple of years ago. Again, a Susie recipe. Funny thing, though. It calls for sherry and we decided not to put it in this time (my friend Emily made it for me). The texture was quite different. It has unflavored gelatin in it but it seems to set up quite a bit firmer than with the sherry. The reason why I think this is the culprit is because we made this same recipe for a church "tea party" once and also forwent the sherry and the texture was the same. I thought the person who had made it had made some sort of mistake, even though they said they followed the instructions. I've never had this problem (not that it's really a problem- it still tastes fantastic), but I usually put the sherry in. So, the texture looks a little lumpy and not so smooth, but the mouthfeel is okay. It doesn't feel like lumps of jello or anything. So, feel free to do either way, but beware of the results.

For the main course we had Pineapple-Mustard-Glazed Ham. It was really good! It was fairly minimal effort, other slicing up two pineapples, and just bakes for a while. The glaze turned into this caramelly (is that a word?) sauce with soft pineapple that made a perfect foil to the smoked, salty ham. I love the dark brown pieces on the edge. I hoard them. We also had scalloped potatoes (recipe courtesy of Emily, who brought them), green beans with browned butter and toasted hazelnuts, and rolls.

When we finally had room again (or at least a small corner available), we broke into dessert. I decided to make the Rich Chocolate Cake with Ganache Frosting and Truffle-Egg Nest. I cheated a little with the white chocolate on the outside of the truffles. I used white chocolate chips, which don't get quite as thin when melted as actual chocolate. I could tell the swirling thing wasn't really an option for me, so I just colored the chocolate with a blue and green paste coloring. I got a system going where I tapped off the extra chocolate really quickly before the truffle started melting to the fork I had the "egg" sitting on. I used a chopstick to push the eggs onto a piece of parchment. I also decided marshmallows might be fun and appropriate (think peeps) so I used the same recipe I used for the coconut and peppermint ones at Christmas (you can find my recipes in this post), but instead of the other flavors, added 1 1/2 teaspoons of almond emulsion (you can just use pure extract instead). They were really yummy. Especially on top of hot chocolate later in the week. :) My friend, Rebecca, also made some mini pecan tartlets which were very tasty. Not too sweet and tender crust. Her recipe is included below.

Scalloped Potatoes (from Emily)

5-6 large potatoes, peeled and sliced as thin as possible
Cheddar cheese, grated or sliced as thin as possible (I used sharp)
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
7oz milk (2/3 soup can)
salt & pepper

Grease/spray the bottom and sides of a 3 qt casserole (or 9x13 pan). Cover bottom of pan with one layer of potatoes. Cover potatoes with one layer of cheese. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Repeat layers of potatoes, cheese, salt & pepper 4 times. Mix cream of mushroom soup and milk together (I added a little garlic and onion powder). Pour over the top of the layered potatoes. Bake covered at 325 for 2 hours - until potatoes are soft. For a crispy top remove lid for the last 15 minutes. (I also added a handful of Gruyere because I had some in the fridge)

Pecan Tartlets (from Becca)

Crust (24 tarts):
1 cube butter (room temp)
3 oz. cream cheese (room temp)
1 cup flour

Combine butter and cream cheese, then cut flour into butter/cream mixture. Get a small ball of dough (walnut size), and press into mini muffin tin -- push dough all the way up the sides of the tin. Ensure there are no holes in the crust, otherwise the pie filling will stick to the pan.

Pecan Filling (48 tarts):
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. melted butter
1 c. corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 c. pecan pieces

Simply mix all the ingredients together. You may reserve the pecan pieces to be placed individually in the tarts if desired. Pour filling the the crust. Bake 375 for 20 - 25 minutes. Let tarts cool, then pop them out of pan w/ a paring knife. Top w/ whipped cream.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

working on the easter menu

A number of years ago we began the tradition of making a really nice Easter dinner with friends. It is so fun to decorate with touches of Spring and bring out the really good food that goes along with it. This year I think I am going to do a ham. It's been a while since I have. One of my friends is going to make pecan tartlets and I am trying to decide on the other dessert. Here are a couple of the cakes I'm thinking about:

Aren't they beautiful?

Here is link to last year's dinner and the year before (pictures taken by my friend Rachel). What are you making for Easter? Do you have any fun decorations you do for the table?