Monday, July 19, 2010

Indian Night

I was perusing the bargain section of Barnes and Noble recently, when I stumbled across and Indian Recipe and Technique book for the low low price of $7.98. I thumbed through the recipes, and I knew I had to have it, had to try it. And thus a dinner party was born...

The book is Easy Indian Cookbook: The Step-by-Step Guide To Deliciously Easy Indian Food at Home and it is full of recipes, menus, and wonderful descriptions. I choose to do some of my restaurant favorites to see how I compared.

I made potato pakoras and samosas

Plus tandoori chicken skewers and lamb meatballs.

I also made a raita, a cilantro chutney, and even tried my hand at Naan, which turned out more like pita but was still delicious. And of course, even though I had enough food to feed twice my guests, I had to make dessert (I wouldn't be me if I didn't). I made a blueberry buckle, although I did not put a crumb topping on it, because, well I wasn't in that kind of mood, but I am still calling it a buckle. I served it warm with fresh berries and vanilla ice cream.

Blueberry Buckle:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal
2 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of salt
1 cup of sugar plus a handful for topping
1/4 cup of low fat or fat free plain yogurt
1/4 cup of skim milk
2 eggs
3 heaping cups of blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375. Melt the butter, and mix in sugar, milk, yogurt, and eggs. Stir in flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a few additions. Pour batter into a nonstick 9 inch cake pan (I love the spring form ones). Pour the blueberries on top (they sink into the cake as it bakes) and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a fork or toothpick comes out clean. Serve and enjoy.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Chocolate Chip Explosion

Continuing my cooking up a storm quest, and exploiting the season's wonderful zucchini, I concocted an explosion of chocolate chips, in cookie form (this did not use zucchini) and a delicious and rich summer pasta dish (this did). The pasta made me melt and lick the bowl clean, as for the cookies, well, I dare you to eat just one. My cookie recipe drew it's inspiration from my girl Martha (that's Stewart, in case you were wondering) the original recipe can be found here

Chocolate Chip Explosion Cookies:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened slightly
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 large package (24 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix together butter and both sugars, until creamy and smooth. Add eggs and vanilla, mix to combine. Add in baking soda, salt and 1/2 cup of flour, mix together. Add another 1/2 cup of flour and stir again. Add final cup of flour and mix to combine. Stir in oats and chocolate chips, do not do this all at once because it is a lot of chips. I did it in about 4 additions. At this point the batter can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or you can make the cookies now (I did both, they both turned out really well). On a non stick pan (or a pan sprayed with non-stick spray) drop cookies by rounded tablespoons. They should be small, I made them in between regular cookie and mini cookie size. Enjoy.

Summer Pasta

1/2 box of Penne
1 large zucchini
1 medium yellow onion
1 large can of plum tomatoes, drained
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp of butter
2-3 tbs of flour
1 1/2-2 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Heat a large skillet over high heat, and heat oil. Chop zucchini into bite size pieces and add to the skillet. Mince garlic and finely chop onion and add to the skillet as well. Allow onions and zucchini to brown slightly then lower the heat to medium-low. Crush plum tomatoes (I used a potato masher), they should still be very chunky. Add to the zucchini. Salt and pepper to taste, then cover. In a small pot over low heat, melt the butter. Whisk in flour to make a rue. Add the stock and raise heat to bring to a simmer. Whisk until the mixture thickens. Reduce heat to low and add cheeses in slowly, whisking them in. To serve, put pasta in a bowl and top with desired amount of tomato zucchini mixture, then add cheese sauce and stir to combine, top with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy!

Happy Eating


Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer Frittata

Lately, I have been cooking up a storm... So stormy in fact, that I seem to have been neglecting you all. Allow me to remedy that with a garden fresh frittata and some homemade guacamole. I made the frittata for a lovely and leisurely summer breakfast, it's so hearty no sides are necessary, you've hit all the major food groups anyway. The guacamole was inspired by a recent trip to a Mexican restaurant that featured a table side "Guacamole Expert", he wasn't very chatty, but his guac was excellent (the secret's in the cheese).

Summer Frittata

8-10 oz of potatoes (I used a mix of red and white)
1 zucchini (use 3/4 if it is very large)
1/2 summer squash
1 medium yellow onion
1 large tomato
5 Eggs
5 Egg whites
2-3 oz Fontina cheese
Splash of milk
Olive oil
Salt, Pepper

Pre-Heat the broiler. In an oven proof skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Wash potatoes and cut into thin slices (potato chip shaped). Add to pan and stir. Slice onion into thin strips and cut zucchini and squash in the same shape/size as potatoes. Add to the pan and stir together, season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook covered, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are cooked thoroughly. In a bowl whisk the eggs, egg whites and milk until combined and fluffy. Add the veggies to the egg mixture and stir together. Clean out pan slightly and spray with a non-stick spray. Add egg mixture back to pan and cook over medium-high heat covered until eggs are just set in the middle. Slice tomatoes and grate the cheese. When eggs are just set top with tomato slices and cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then remove from pan. Serve and enjoy.

3 Avocados
2 small tomatoes (vine ripe)
1/2 medium yellow onion
1 garlic clove (boiled or raw, your preference kick)
1 habenero or jalapeno (again your preference of kick)
The juice of 1-2 limes
1 oz (or more) of Queso Fresco (also called queso blanco)
1 handful of cilantro
Salt and Pepper to taste

Peel avocados and remove the pits. Put in a medium bowl. Dice onion, garlic and chili pepper. Add to bowl. Give tomatoes a rough chop and add to bowl as well. Mince cilantro and add that and lime juice. Using 2 knives, cut everything together in the bowl until it is the desired consistency. Mix in cheese and salt and pepper to taste. All ingredients can additionally be added to taste. Serve and Enjoy.

Happy Eating.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Crispy Roast Duck

I have now moved beyond the world of chickens, I have roasted a whole duck. I love duck, I have for as long as I could remember. It seems so much fancier, more decadent, and more encased in fat than chicken. And for a girl who didn't eat red meat or pork (yes, I eat it all now) and enjoyed fancy restaurants it was a menu's saving grace. And now, I have conquered it. I will go so far as to say my first attempt was a wild success, the meat was succulent, the skin was extra crispy, the flavors were simple, and I put the sauce on the side (and then proceeded to spoon feed it to my self, but I'll get to that in a minute).

The duck was a waiting game, I bought it frozen and had to wait 3 days for it to thaw. The anticipation was building. I researched the best roasting methods. I settled on some tips from Epicurious, which is also where I discovered a delectable Cherry Port Sauce, which they paired with seared duck breasts and I altered very slightly.

Crispy Roast Duck:
1 5-6 pound duck
Salt and Pepper

Remove all the inside bits of the duck and wash it, inside and out. Put it on a broiler pan and pre heat the oven to 425 degrees. Boil a small pot of water. Place the duck breast side up on a broiler pan. Pour the boiling water over all over the duck, this tightens the skin. Pat the duck dry (carefully) and empty the duck, the bottom part of the pan should be pretty full of water but not overflowing or in danger of spilling while being moved. Salt and pepper the duck inside and out on both sides, and stab around with a fork, piercing the skin. Roast for 45 minutes breast side up. Remove from oven, spill juices into the pan, and flip the duck over, return it to the oven and roast for another 45 minutes. Remove it from the oven again, spill the juices out and flip it a final time (so that it is once again breast side up), return to the oven and roast about 35 minutes more until skin is extra crispy everywhere. Let rest 15-20 minutes and then carve and serve.

I chose to serve it with the sauce, but the duck definitely could be eaten on it's own. Consequently the sauce would taste fantastic on pancakes, ice cream, pound cake, or even on toast. It is a sweet-savory combination that could go either way. With the duck you just need a little it enhances the flavor, cuts through the fat, but doesn't overwhelm the deliciousness of a simple roast duck.

Cherry Port Sauce:
3 tbsp of duck drippings
1 tbsp cold butter
2 Medium shallots
1/2 cup chicken stock (or half a cup of water, 1/2 tsp of Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base)
8 bing cherries
2 tbsp tawny Port
1 tbsp honey

Heat the duck drippings in a small pot over medium heat. Dice the shallots and stir into the drippings, cook for a few minutes until the shallots are soft and translucent. Add the stock and turn heat to high. Remove the cherry pits and give them a rough chop. Add the port, honey, and cherries. Keep on a boil for about 5 minutes until sauce thickens and reduces. Turn heat off and stir in the butter. Serve and enjoy.

Happy Eating.