Friday, October 22, 2010

I die.

Small things are cute.
Animals are cute.
Small animals are super cute.
Cake is good.
Small animal cakes make my head esplode.

I am SO making the bunnies, but probably with my fave bunny face (though please disregard how much this looks like a French bulldog; I'll do French bulldogs next):
My friend Noelle made the chicks last Easter, and while they were too sweet for eating in my opinion (7 year old me would kick me in the shins for even suggesting such an abomination), they were so insanely cute that they simply must exist.
Now, do I do white cake and white frosting to stick with the white?  Probably.  I'll come up with some species to create for my birthday so I can do yellow cake with chocolate frosting, omg yum.  Boston terriers?  Nah, I'll probably just make cute little faces on them.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Garlic and Lemon Chicken with Broccolini

I don't think I'll have it for breakfast (I'm no Cameron Diaz or Michael Dickerson), but it sounds like a yummy healthy dinner with leftovers for lunch!
This only serves 2 though, so if you want those leftovers and you're cooking for more than just your self, double up!
vegetable-oil cooking spray 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes 
1 cup Broccolini, thinly sliced 
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 
1 cup cooked brown rice 
2 cloves garlic, chopped 
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest 
1 whole egg plus 1 egg white, scrambled 
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
1/2 cup fat-free low-sodium chicken broth 
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over high heat. Add oil. Sprinkle chicken and Broccolini with salt, garlic powder and pepper; add to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add flour and cook, stirring continuously, 1 minute more. Add rice, garlic and lemon zest; cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add eggs, stirring vigorously until egg is cooked and chicken is no longer pink in the center, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add juice, broth and parsley.

Quick Pickled Beets

Quinn over at Nermo makes some pretty mean pickled beets.  I mean, they are seriously yummy (especially in a butter leaf lettuce salad with blue cheese and vinaigrette and maybe some toasted hazelnuts - * drool *).
However, videos are always helpful, even though Quinn's recipe is way easier, plus, I am fascinated by the addition of Atomic Fireballs in this recipe.  And again, because I coddle you (and want this to be quicker for me when I look it up later. . . ), I've typed up the ingredients and instructions.

Beets - 10 or so
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1 tbsp mustard seed
1 tbsp black peppercorns
4 allspice berries
2 cups white wine vinegar
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs of thyme
3 cloves of garlic
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp Aleppo chile
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp turbinado sugar
2-3 Atomic fireballs
Cipollini onions

Roast them beets, then top and tail them (cut off root end and stem end), skin 'em and cut into equal sizes (wear gloves unless you want pink fingers for days).
Toast the spices (fennel, mustard, pepper, allspice) in a pan over medium heat to bring out their flavors.  Pour into pot.
Add water and vinegar to spices.  Add remaining ingredients to liquid.  Simmer for 5 minutes.
Add a sliced cipollini to the brine.

In a jar with a sealable lid, add a few onions, load in some beets, and then pour the pickling liquid over the top.
Allow to cool to room temp, close and put in fridge.  Tomorrow you'll have yummy pickled beets.

Mmmm, WHITE chili!

I managed a pretty tasty pantry chili the other day, but I'm also a fairly big fan of white chili.  Mild and creamy and not so heavy. . . yum.  I am totally drooling.

I wish I could embed the video for you, but I can't.  But I did type up the ingredients and directions - thank me later.

White Chicken Chili
4 bone in, skin on chicken breasts - 3 lbs
1 tbsp oil
salt & pepper
3 jalapenos, minced (keep one minced jalapeno set aside)
3 poblano chiles
3 anaheim chiles
2 onions
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
more salt (a tbsp or so, but start with a little and taste as you go if you're not a big salt fan)
1 can white cannelini beans
3 cups of chicken broth
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 raw jalapeno
1/4 c cilantro minced
4 chopped scallions

Heat oil over medium high til it just starts to shimmer and smoke.  Season chicken with s&p while you wait for oil to heat.  Sear chicken a few minutes on each side.
Remove stems, seeds and ribs from chiles.  Don't rub your eyes for the next several hours.  Seriously.
In a food processor, puree the onions, poblano and anaheim chiles til semi-smooth (you may need to do this in a couple of batches).
Take chicken out of pot and set aside.
Add the onion/chile blend to the pot with 2 minced jalapenos, garlic, cumin, coriander and salt.  Stir and put lid on top to allow veggies to sweat for 10 minutes or so.
Remove chicken skin and snack or throw away or give to starving dog at your feet.
Take one cup of the chile mixture, 1 cup of beans and 1 cup of chicken broth and puree in food processor til smooth to help thicken the chili.  Add back into pot.
Add 2 additional cups of chicken broth into the pot, and then nestle chicken in.  Turn up heat to high and let it come to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cover for 15-20 minutes until chicken reaches 160 degrees.
Remove chicken and set aside to cool and shred.
Add the beans to the pot and allow to cook for 10 more minutes.
Shred the chicken while you wait (use two forks if it's too hot) and add back into the pot.
Then add the lime juice, the third jalapeno, cilantro and scallions.
Serve with sour cream and more cilantro and scallions if desired.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pilgrim Punch

As all drinkers who are serious about imbibing have, I have some favorite bartenders here in SF (just LOOK at that cute photo - they're so Boardwalk Empire I can hardly stand it, and they're nice to boot.  I think I proposed to Scott once after tasting one of his concoctions.).  This recipe is theirs, so off course it's a bit labor intensive (I have to brew TEA?!), but it's bound to be amazing and cocktaily instead of sickly sweet.

Pilgrim Punch
Makes one punch bowl
750 ml Plymouth Gin
1½ c. white port
1½ c. chamomile tea
1½ c. white cranberry juice
1½ c. fresh lemon juice
1 ½ c. rich simple syrup*
1½ oz. whiskey barrel-aged bitters
Frozen cranberries
1. Make an ice block by freezing a plastic container full of water.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large punch bowl. Add the block of ice so that the punch dilutes slowly and evenly.
3. Float handfuls of frozen cranberries in the punch (as pictured).
*To make a rich simple syrup, combine 4 cups of organic cane sugar and 2 cups of water. Stir until the sugar evaporates over low heat, and then bring to a boil for a few minutes. Let cool and thicken.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Speaking of Halloween and pudding. . . .

How cute are THESE?!  Eee!

Picture of Ghostly Pumpkin Pudding Recipe

1 package gelatin
2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
6 large egg yolks (reserve 2 whites for topping)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin puree

2 large egg whites
1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 pinch fine salt
Small candy, for eyes

Put 1 tablespoon of cold water in a large bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over the surface, do not stir, and set aside until gelatin softens and bloom.
Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a saucepan that can hold a stand mixer's bowl above the water. Whisk milk, sugar, yolks, cinnamon and salt in a heat-proof bowl. Set the bowl above the boiling water and cook, stirring constantly with a heat-proof spatula, until mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon and almost boils, 10 to 12 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat and pour over the gelatin, whisking constantly until gelatin is completely dissolved and evenly distributed. Whisk in pumpkin until combined and completely smooth.
Evenly divide mixture into 12 small 3-ounce cups (paper works fine) and refrigerate until set, about 4 to 8 hours.
Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a saucepan that can hold a stand mixer's bowl above the water. Whisk the 2 egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl by hand. Set the bowl above the boiling water and continue whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar dissolves, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer bowl to mixer and beat with the whisk attachment at medium-high speed until eggs hold a stiff peak, about 5 minutes.
Spoon topping onto puddings in the shape of a ghost. Decorate with candy eyes and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Graveyard Cakes

I know I want to make something sweet for this year's Halloween party.  Of course, I would LOVE to make my sugar cookies in adorable Halloween shapes, but to use up a bit of the masses and masses of cake mix and frosting I have in the pantry, I think Graveyard Cakes are where it's at.  Plus; way easier.
I thought about doing one cake, and decorating it with crushed Oreo "earth" and some mini tombstones, but then found some ADORABLE little cupcake kits and decided cupcakes are easier to deal with in a group setting anyway.
I thought it would be extra fun to do a childhood throwback - remember those old Jell-O pudding filled cupcakes we had as kids?  And goo seems graveyardy. . .score.
Alas, recipes for those are difficult to come by and they don't make the kits any more.  But why not just inject the darn things?  If Sandra Lee can do it, so can I.
So - a box of chocolate cake mix, a can of chocolate frosting, and a package of chocolate instant pudding (or vanilla and dye it orange maybe?  Or disgusting brownish green goo colored?), and some crushed chocolate cookies.
Bake the cupcakes and make the pudding.
Once the cupcakes are cool, inject the pudding into the cakes.
Frost with frosting and dust generously with chocolate cookie crumbs.
Decorate as desired (you can always do the gummy worm thing if you want, but I always pull those out and end up eating them separately or not at all; candy corn and candy pumpkins would be good too).
Eat your heart out Sandra.

Butternut Squash Soup

When I lived in Australia, I was introduced to eating pumpkin - and not just in pie form.  The standard "meat and three veg" dinner seemed to involve lamb, cauliflower (with or without amazing, gooey, calorie laden white cream/cheese sauce), roast pumpkin and something else.
But then.  I had dinner at a friend's house and his mum made pumpkin soup.  Sweet Great Pumpkin that stuff was good.  I have spent the rest of my autumns trying to recreate a version that can hold a candle to hers.  It is a constant struggle.
I have since branched out to butternut squash soup as well, and have amassed quite the collection - most with notes scribbled all over them as I try to tweak and change and manipulate and get the perfect balance of fall spice flavors and savory - I hate when they're too sweet.  Food Network offers up several options to choose from, and tweak to our hearts content.  I like the curry versions, I love the idea of crispy fried shallots too, but oof with the sweet (cinnamon whipped cream?!  Is it pie or soup?)
This recipe is INTENSE and features way more steps than I've ever tried, and I already know that I'll be cutting back on some of the sweet ingredients, and subbing in fat free half and half and stuff to healthify it. . . but then adding crispy shallots and crusty bread with butter instead of marscapone and pumpkin seeds to undo my good work.

For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (1/4-inch) diced onion
  • 1/4 cup (1/4-inch) diced celery
  • 1/4 cup (1/4-inch) diced carrot
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Sea salt, preferably gray salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • About 4 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground toasted coriander, optional
  • 1 1/2 cups Roasted Winter Squash recipe
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half, optional

To serve:

  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese, optional
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds, optional


Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and cinnamon stick and saute until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the chicken stock and the coriander, if using, and bring to a boil. Simmer for several minutes. Stir in the squash until smooth, then simmer gently to let the flavors meld, about 10 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick.
Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. (The soup can be made ahead to this point, cooled, covered, and refrigerated for several days or frozen for about 1 month. It will thicken as it cools and may need thinning with stock or water when reheating.)
Return the soup to the pan and reheat gently. Add the half-and-half, if using. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Keep warm until service.

To serve:

Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Garnish evenly, with the cheese and pumpkin seeds, if desired.

Roasted Winter Squash:

  • About 3 pounds butternut squash (preferably 1 large squash)
  • Gray salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dark unsulfured molasses
  • 2 teaspoons Toasted Spice Rub, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler. Halve lengthwise, discard the seeds, then cut into 1-inch dice. Place in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter ceases to foam and has turned a light brown, pull the pan off the heat and immediately add the sage, sugar, vinegar (stand back so as not to get splattered), molasses and toasted spice rub. Mix well and let simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes to meld the flavors.
Pour the vinegar mixture over the squash and toss well, then transfer to a heavy rimmed baking sheet or baking dish large enough to hold the squash in a single layer. Place in the oven and roast, tossing at least once, until very tender and caramelized, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Set aside until cool enough to handle but still warm, so the liquids are runny.
Working in batches, if necessary, transfer the warm squash and all the cooking liquids to a food processor and process until smooth. Use immediately, refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.
Serving suggestions: Serve the puree on its own as a side dish for roast chicken, turkey, or pork; stir into polenta just before the end of cooking; use as a stuffing for ravioli; make into a soup; or use to flavor pastina. Or omit the sage, season with ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg to taste, and use as a substitute for canned pumpkin in your favorite pumpkin pie recipe.
Variation for Smoky Butternut Squash: Cook the prepared squash on a baking sheet in a covered grill with soaked chips to give a slightly smoky taste. Substitute in any of the recipes that call for roasted squash. If cooking kabocha, acorn, or other difficult-to-peel squash, cut in half, scoop out the seeds, and rub the insides and cut edges with the vinegar/molasses mixture. Place on a baking sheet, cut sides up, and roast at 400 degrees F until tender. Scoop out and puree.
Yield: about 2 cups puree

Toasted Spice Rub:

  • 1/4 cup fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup (1-ounce) pure California chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Toast the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns in a small, heavy pan over medium heat. When the fennel turns light brown, work quickly. Turn on the exhaust fan, add the red pepper flakes, and toss, toss, toss, always under the fan. Immediately turn the spice mixture out onto a plate to cool.
Put mixture into a blender with the chili powder, salt, and cinnamon and blend until the spices are evenly ground. If you have a small spice mill or a coffee grinder dedicated to grinding spices, grind only the fennel, coriander, pepper, and chili flakes. Pour into a bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients. Keep the spice mix in a glass jar in a cool, dry place, or freeze.
Chef's notes: Toasting freshens spices, releases their oils, and makes them more fragrant, as well as adding a new dimension of flavor.
Taste your chili powder before adding and, if spicy and hot, cut back the amount. California chilies are almost sweet, not hot.
Yield: about 1 cup

This one looks easier and references the magic word: bourbon.
 Butternut Squash and Bourbon Bisque
1 to 2 butternut squash (about 4 pounds total)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced leeks
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
5 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup evaporated skim milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
With a sharp knife, prick the squash in several places to allow steam to escape while it cooks
(otherwise it could burst). Place the squash in a baking dish lined with foil and roast for about 90 minutes, until the squash is soft when you push on it. Let cool for 30 minutes, so it=s easier to handle, then peel, seed, and remove strings. Cut the roasted squash into 1/2-inch pieces, or scoop meat out with a spoon.
In a heavy soup kettle, heat the olive oil and add the onions. Cook until light golden brown and add the leeks and cumin. Cook for 2 minutes and add the garlic and ginger. When the garlic is fragrant, add the maple syrup, soy sauce, bourbon, sherry and nutmeg. Add the squash and stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook gently for 15 minutes.
Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), puree the soup until very smooth. Add the evaporated milk, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes; do not bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve in soup plates.
If you like, garnish this soup with garlic and Parmesan cheese croutons and a dollop of non fat sour cream.

I recommend cheese crisps versus croutons. 

Spicy Banana Fritters

I love banana desserts, and if this one can win someone such great praise on Top Chef, they're surely good enough for me (or any dinner guests).

Spicy Banana Fritters
2 cup flour
2 tbs black and white sesame seeds
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tbs sugar
salt to taste
1 tbs honey
2 large eggs
2 cups of hoppy pale ale

Mix above ingredients until thoroughly incorporated.

Large bananas cut into 1-inch medallions
Sambal Oelek or similar chili paste
wooden skewers for serving
2 tbs cinnamon mixed with 4 tbs granulated sugar
2 cups of vegetable oil heated to 350 degrees

Brush banana medallions with a little bit of sambal chili paste; then spear medallions on skewers and dip in batter to coat. Dunk the coated medallions in the hot oil and fry for about 1 minute, or until the fritters become puffy and golden brown. Transfer fritters to a paper-towel-lined tray and sprinkle them while hot with cinnamon and sugar mixture. To finish, put a dollop of chili paste on a plate and place fritters on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Friday, October 8, 2010


I used to live right next door to a great falafel place (don't understand those mediocre reviews - I think their falafel wrap in lavash is AMAZING.
I have wanted to make my own falafel for ages, but haven't gotten around to it.  The food network chefs were kind enough to post a couple of recipes; but it was watching Guy Fieri make them that sparked my interest.  If that guy can do it, I can TOTALLY do it.

Falafel with Yogurt Sauce

2 tablespoons canola oil, plus extra for frying
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (14-ounce) cans chick peas, drained
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 egg
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons flour
2 cups freshly chopped parsley leaves
3/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves
Pitas, for sandwich
Toppings: shredded lettuce and chopped tomato, sliced cucumbers
Yogurt Dipping Sauce, recipe follows

In medium skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons oil and sweat onion and peppers 2 to 3 minutes then garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
In a food processor, pulse together chick peas, red chili flakes, ground cumin, the egg, salt and black pepper to form a coarse consistency. Then add flour, parsley, and cilantro. Pulse until mixture starts pulling from the sides of the food processor.
Remove mixture to a large bowl and mix in the onion mixture. Chill falafel until ready to cook.
Roll falafel dough into 1-inch rounds. Then form rounds into an oblong quenelle shape, like a football.  Guy doesn't mention it, but I'm pretty sure you're going to want to roll your quenelles (or balls if your prefer) in flour to help hold them together before you fry them.
In a thick-bottomed skillet heat 1/2 inch of canola oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Cook falafel balls a few at a time, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Be sure to turn them so they do not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt while still hot.
Open the pita bread to make pockets. Place 3 to 4 falafels inside. Stuff with lettuce tomato and cucumbers and drizzle sauce generously on the inside. Serve immediately.

Yogurt Dipping Sauce (mine, not Guy's)
1 cup non or low-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp minced garlic
salt to taste
1 tablespoon freshly chopped dill
2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
chopped cucumber (I like adding my cucumber to the sauce instead of into the falafel, but you could do it either way)

Mix ingredients together in a small bowl and chill until ready to use.
Yield: 1 cup

He also made a yummy looking side salad/pasta dish that reminds me of this delicious orzo pasta salad they have at Safeway combined with a pasta salad I make using the yummy artichoke juice as part of my dressing.

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2- inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces orzo
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup diced red onion
4 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and chopped into small 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium size cucumber, peeled and seeded, diced
3 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes (1/4-inch pieces)
16 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped fine
1/2 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts (1/2-inch pieces)
2 tablespoons liquid from marinated artichoke hearts
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons minced fresh mint
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
4 to 5 Romaine lettuce leaves

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a small bowl, toss cubed eggplant with the garlic and oil. Spread on sheet pan and place in preheated oven. Cook until golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally for even browning. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions and drain. Remove eggplant to a large nonmetallic bowl. Add pasta and stir in 1/2 cup of feta while pasta and eggplant are still warm. Set aside to cool while preparing other ingredients.
Add in the rest of the ingredients except the romaine and gently stir to combine, adding remaining feta cheese last. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill for 1 hour and serve on a bed of romaine on a large platter.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Spicy Peanuts

Peanuts are EVERYWHERE in bars in San Miguel.  Some are coated in a yummy crunchy, slightly sweet substance, some are roasted with a little bit of salt, some have chili and lime, and some are spicy and amazing.  I had some that featured little fried garlic chips and dried red peppers and they were awesome.  I know I mentioned wanting to make them for Halloween this year, and then I came across this recipe, which looks like a fantastic jumping off point.

1 egg white
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder

2 cups high quality dry roasted unsalted peanuts
5 dried chiles, optional garnish

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Whisk egg white until foamy in a medium bowl. Whisk in sugar, water, salt, cumin, cayenne, garlic and ancho powders. Toss nuts in mixture until well coated.

Spray a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment. Spread nuts out on the prepared pan in a single layer. Cook for 45 minutes until slightly golden, turning nuts with a spatula every 15 minutes so they toast evenly and don't stick.

Set the nuts aside, stirring periodically as they cool. When completely cool, transfer to serving bowl and garnish with dried red chiles if desired.

In my Halloween post, I also mention this simpler recipe here.

2 cups shelled but unsalted blanched peanuts
Freshly ground red chili powder to taste (about 2 full tablespoons) the amount you use will depend on the heat of the chili – and your personal desire for piquancy. This should be a taste as you go kind of recipe.
A Tablespoon of vegetable oil for frying
Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet set over medium. When the oil is hot, add in the peanuts and stir constantly until well roasted and browned. Turn off the heat a bit before the peanuts are done, as the residual heat from the peanuts and pan will continue to cook the nuts for a while. Don't add the chili powder to the peanuts until after you have turned the heat off – as the chili powder can burn. 
Once the nuts have brown-roasted, add in the chili powder to taste, and a good couple of pinches of salt. Stir to mix completely.

Provencal Soup with Pistou

Fall and soup just go together, so when I saw Ina making this one for her French friends, I knew I had to give it a whirl.  So healthy and yummy looking!  And if you make it with veggie stock, it's totally vegan as well.

2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 to 4 leeks)
3 cups 1/2-inch-diced unpeeled boiling potatoes (1 pound)
3 cups 1/2-inch-diced carrots (1 pound)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 quarts homemade chicken stock or canned broth
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 pound haricots verts, ends removed and cut in 1/2
4 ounces spaghetti, broken in pieces
1 cup Pistou, recipe follows
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot, add the onions, and saute over low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the leeks, potatoes, carrots, salt, and pepper and saute over medium heat for another 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and saffron, bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender. Add the haricots verts and spaghetti, bring to a simmer, and cook for 15 more minutes.

To serve, whisk 1/4 cup of the pistou into the hot soup, then season to taste. Depending on the saltiness of your chicken stock, you may need to add up to another tablespoon of salt. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and more pistou.

4 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup tomato paste
24 large basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup good olive oil

Place the garlic, tomato paste, basil, and Parmesan in the bowl of a food processor and puree. With the motor running, slowly pour the olive oil down the feed tube to make a paste. Pack into a container, pour a film of olive oil on top, and close the lid.


A coworker is in Switzerland right now, which made me think of one of my favorite Swiss treats - no, not fondue, that's the other one.  No, not chocolate either.  Rosti!!
Mmmm, starchy potatoey carbs.
Traditionally, rosti is just potato, salt, pepper, and butter or oil.  You can do that too, but the rosti I had in Lauterbrunnen had onion and ham, and how can you NOT add cheese when given the opportunity?!

Ham & Cheese Rosti
6 large potatoes (if you're feeling like Sandra Lee you can use the pre-grated hashbrown type potatoes)
1 shallot or 1 small onion, minced
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/4 tsp dried)
2-4 tablespoons butter
8 ounces Swiss cheese (I'd suggest Jarlsberg, Gruyere or Emmentaler), grated
1 cup diced ham
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons hot water 
optional: 1 large egg (to make it a bit "breakfastier" and to help the potatoes stick together, you can coat the potatoes in a beaten egg before adding to the skillet; just beat the egg, and add stir it into the potato mixture)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, and put in the fridge to cool. Once cool, peel and grate potatoes. 
Mix potatoes in a large bowl with the onion, rosemary, salt and pepper, ham, and cheese - you can reserve 1/4 cup of the cheese to sprinkle on top if you'd like.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in large nonstick skillet, add the potato mixture.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons hot water over the top layer, cover and saute at low to medium heat until bottom layer browns. Turn with spatula, add remaining tablespoon of butter, and brown again. (you may have to flip the rosti onto a plate, and then back into the pan)
This will probably take about 7 minutes per side.
Drain on paper towels before serving.
South Beached Rosti
1 pound sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
6 ounces crumbled goat cheese
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). 
Peel and grate the sweet potatoes; place in a clean cloth and squeeze out the excess liquid; transfer to a large bowl. 
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook the onion and garlic in the hot oil until soft; transfer to the bowl with the drained sweet potato; add about 2/3 of the goat cheese and the beaten eggs; mix well. Divide the mixture into 4 even portions and shape into balls with your hands and then flatten them to about 1/2 inch thickness. Arrange the patties onto a baking sheet. 
Roast in the preheated oven until golden brown; about 25 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining goat cheese over the patties and return to oven to melt the cheese, about 5 minutes more. 

Or you can try a "fancy" rosti with brie and apples.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Whipped Cream

Some people like cheesecake.  Sometimes I think it's pretty good, but I'm never like, "OOOOOOOHHHHH - CHEESECAKE."
I did have a pumpkin cheesecake once that was to die for, which then led my wonderful mother to believe that I would like ALL pumpkin cheesecake and that's what she got for my birthday, only for us to realize that what I really want on my birthday is yellow cake with chocolate frosting, made with a boxed mix and using a can of frosting.  Seriously.
However, pumpkin cheesecake is a delight, and these little bites look just fab.  This is my first ever Seejeneat Special Request Recipe - so Quinn, when they're done I will certainly be delivering.
And can we giggle for a second that in the address it says "whop cream?"  Okay, thanks. 

 Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Whipped Cream

Yields 12 2×3 mini cheesecakes

1-1/4  cups  ginger snaps
1/4  cup  sugar
1/3  cup  butter, melted
1  8-ounce package  cream cheese, softened
1  cups  sugar
2   eggs
3/4 cup  canned pumpkin
1/2  teaspoon  pumpkin pie spice
1/4  nutmeg
1/2   teaspoon of candied ginger
1  teaspoon  vanilla
1/4  teaspoon  salt
4 ounces  semisweet chocolate, cut up,
1  tablespoons  butter
Bourbon Whip Cream
3/4  cup whipping cream
2 tablespoon of bourbon 

1/4    cup caramel sauce
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease pan. Combine In a, combine ginger snap crumbs and 1/4 cup sugar in a bowl. Stir in the 1/3 cup melted butter. Press mixture evenly into bottom of the prepared baking pan; set aside.
Add cream cheese and sugar into a bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Add pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, candied ginger, vanilla, and salt to the bowl and beat until combined. Remove 1 cup of the mixture.
In a heat proof bowl combine the 6 ounces chocolate and the 1 tablespoons butter and place in an inch of simmering water. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Whisk chocolate mixture into the 1 cup pumpkin mixture. Pour over crust, spreading evenly. Bake for 15 minutes.
Gently pour remaining pumpkin mixture over baked chocolate layer, spreading evenly. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes more or until filling is puffed. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before releasing.
Whip cream until medium peaks form. Fold in bourbon and finish by drizzling caramel sauce on top and sprinkle with nutmeg seasoning.
A few notes: 
  • If you decide not to make mini cheesecakes, use an 8inch springform pan and increase the bake time by 15-20 minutes. Start checking for doneness at 12-15 minutes. The cheesecake is done when the center of the cake gives a slight jiggle when the pan is tapped.
  • You can skip the chocolate layer if you wish.
  •  This pumpkin cheesecake can be made three days in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

I saw this today in this month's issue of Cooking Light while I was at the grocery store and drooled a little.  Once I'm off of my "near starvation diet" I can't wait to give this a whirl!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup
4 servings (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups)

4  (6-ounce) red potatoes
2  teaspoons  olive oil
1/2  cup  prechopped onion
1 1/4  cups  fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
3  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
2  cups  1% low-fat milk, divided
1/4  cup  reduced-fat sour cream
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
3  bacon slices, halved
1/3  cup  shredded cheddar cheese
 4  teaspoons  thinly sliced green onions

Pierce potatoes with a fork. Microwave on HIGH 13 minutes or until tender. Cut in half; cool slightly.

While potatoes cook, heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add broth. Combine flour and 1/2 cup milk; add to pan with 1 1/2 cups milk. Bring to a boil; stir often. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream, salt, and pepper.

Arrange bacon on a paper towel on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with a paper towel; microwave on HIGH for 4 minutes. Crumble bacon.

Discard potato skins. Coarsely mash potatoes into soup. Top with cheese, green onions, and bacon.

Calories:  325
Fat:  11.1g (sat 5.2g,mono 4.5g,poly 0.8g)
Protein:  13.2g
Carbohydrate:  43.8g
Fiber:  3g
Cholesterol:  27mg
Iron:  1.3mg
Sodium:  670mg
Calcium:  261mg

Monday, October 4, 2010


Now, believe it or not, but my recent stint in Mexico led me to the discovery of a FANTASTIC little tapas restaurant (run by yanks, in Mexico - go figure).  At least both cultures speak Spanish, even if their cuisine is wildly different.  There were a couple of dishes I tried at this restaurant that really stood out as being amazing, and a recent recipe sent to me by the fitness fanatics over at Self reminded me of one of them.  I tweaked it a little (how can you not have paprika in this dish?!), and you might want to as well by scaling back on that garlic a little - yowza!

Chile Garlic Shrimp (or gambas al ajillo if you prefer)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Spanish) 
10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 
2 lbs large shrimp, shelled and deveined 
2 dried red chiles (plus more for garnish, if desired) 
1 tsp paprika
2 teaspoons brandy 
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1 chunk of yummy bread to sop up all the sauce

Heat oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Sauté garlic until browned, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp and chiles; sauté until shrimp are cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add brandy and paprika and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat. Transfer to a platter or divide equally among 8 small plates. Sprinkle with parsley, add salt to taste and serve.

Another big hit, with everyone I made try them (and it was just about everyone I dined with - definitely everyone that came down to visit) - piquillo pimientos or pasilla peppers (or hell, even red bell peppers) with goat cheese.  Seriously, I think they roast the peppers to give them a nice smoky flavor and soften them up, peel the skins off, stuff them with goat cheese, heat them up, and drizzle with olive oil and sea salt to serve.  Simple; but they are the most amazingly bright and fresh appetizers.  And please, don't do as my dad did - red jalapenos are NOT the same thing.
Fine fine, if you need a recipe; what do you know - Self has one of those too!  Those smarties. 

Served with some grilled asparagus finished with olive oil, lemon & sea salt; a nice glass of Spanish wine; and a dessert of port and delicious cheese with honey and marcona almonds and you may as well be in Spain.

Pantry Chili & Edgar's story

Thanks to my chili post, and my Edgar purchase (more on that in a sec), and the dreary weather; I was craving chili yesterday. However, since I'm me and I didn't plan this craving ahead of time, it was up to me and the pantry to make magic happen. Luckily - it totally did.
Edgar was a lovely creature from Stemple Creek Ranch that gave up his life so that 11 of my friends and I might eat some amazingly delicious free range, healthy and sustainable red meat.
Now, thanks to things like The Omnivore's Dilemma and Food Inc., I know that I want happy, healthy, walking around animals on my dinner table.  Well; I want to know that they were happy, healthy, and walking around BEFORE they end up on my dinner table anyway.  Thanks to a local group I belong to (shout out to Bay Area Food Bloggers!), I knew about Stemple Creek and off I went with some half baked idea about buying a quarter of a cow.  But how on Earth was I going to store 110 pounds of delicious, healthy cow meat in my San Francisco freezer?  Well I wasn't, plain and simple.  Lucky for me, I have loads of like minded foodie friends that were game to share the beast.  We all ended up with a healthy portion of various cuts of meat (some more than others, depending on how many people each "quarter of the quarter" was split with).  This was way back in August when I was in Mexico.  I just ate my first bit of Edgar YESTERDAY.  I'll have to call Loren (owner of Stemple Creek Ranch) and let him know, since he actually called to check in and see how everything was, how everyone liked the meat, and what they could do to make the ordering process easier.  Now THAT is customer service.

In any case - a hankering for chili I had, and hardly any canned tomatoes in the pantry.  What's a girl to do?  Well, lucky for me I am a bit of a hoarder, so I had some things floating around - tons of spices, some cannelini beans, some black beans and Pace picante sauce.  So I did a spin on that recipe I posted recently from Gourmet, via Smitten Kitchen.

2 large onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 pounds of ground Edgar (or equally delicious grass fed beef)
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon crumbled dry oregano
to make up for my lack of paprika or green peppers:
1 tablespoon of "Mexican Seasoning"
1 tablespoon of "All Purpose Seasoning(this one or something similar)
1/2 tablespoon of celery salt
Kosher salt to taste
1 16 oz jar of Medium Pace Picante Sauce
1 1/4 cups beef broth
1/2 bottle of lager (I used Black Star - yum)
1 can of canellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained

In a large pot (I used my Dutch Oven), heat the oil over moderately low heat and cook the onions in it for 5 to 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Raise the heat to medium and add the beef, stirring and breaking up any lumps until it is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add the spices and cook for another minute. Add the Pace, broth and beer and simmer the chili, covered, for 35 to 40 minutes. Add the beans, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.