Sunday, January 29, 2012

Brown sugar and ginger broiled grapefruit


Hot grapefruit? Hmmm. It's something I've been seeing pop up all over the internet lately. I was skeptical... I mean, I don't think I've ever had grapefruit that was cooked in any sort of way. Since I've been buying up tons of citrus lately and one happened to be a bag of grapefruit, I decided to be brave and give broiled grapefruit a try. Some recipes use cinnamon, some use mint, some use turbinado sugar, some use brown sugar -- I don't think there's one correct way to broil a grapefruit. Feel free to experiment and try out different ways to enjoy your grapefruit.

We ate this for breakfast over the weekend and enjoyed it. The grapefruit changes and becomes really soft and almost dessert-like. The top gets a sweet crust and the inside is juicy and a touch sour. The below recipe is for one grapefruit. Serve a half of a grapefruit per person and just add more to the topping mixture for the number of grapefruits you are using. I think this would be a great addition to your next brunch. People may think it's odd at first, but once they take a bite, they will forget their misconceptions and gobble it up!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pistachio-orange-cardamom shortbread bars


I know that everyone is trying to eat better now that the holidays are over... And, while I am trying to do the same, I do miss having cookies. I marked the pistachio shortbread in Cook This Now (one of my Christmas gifts) the day after Christmas and then wondered how long I would need to wait to make them... I waited a few weeks and then figured that my birthday week is as good as any other! Plus, I've been buying up so much beautiful citrus lately and I really wanted to incorporate orange into these cookies.

These cookies come together in a snap. They are so buttery and flaky and have an exotic scent and spice to them. I was inspired by the recipe in the book, but swapped out the orange water blossom water for orange juice and zest. Oh, and I also added the cardamom, reduced the sugar, and replaced some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour. I think they turned out great and I'm inspired to try all kinds of shortbread now. I always make my rosemary one at the holidays, I've tried one with matcha tea, and I think next up is a savory lemon and thyme shortbread. One note is that your food processor needs to be pretty large to use it for this recipe. It just fit in mine. If it won't fit, use it for the first step and then transfer it to a large bowl and cut in the butter and orange juice.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Potato and cheddar pierogi


I finally did it! Pierogi have been on my "to-make" list for a long time. As a kid and as an adult, I always liked pierogi, but I never had homemade ones. My husband had some pumpkin and ricotta pierogi at a restaurant in the fall that they made in-house --- I had a bite and they were so good! I was again reminded that it was time I give them a try and I'm glad I finally did. They were pretty fun to make and turned out delicious. Now that I have the dough and process down, the fillings will be endless - sauerkraut, mushroom, caramelized onions, pumpkin, etc... I went with potato and cheddar this time, because those have always been my favorite.

The other nice thing about making pierogi is that, while time-consuming, you get enough to freeze for another dinner or two. The dough recipe I used made about 20 pierogi. So we had some for dinner and then I placed the rest on a baking sheet in the freezer and divided them into batches large enough for a meal and placed them in freezer bags. I think next time I will make a double batch of dough. Plus, the process isn't difficult - it just take some time. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lemony raw kale salad


After seeing raw kale salads popping up all over the food blog world, I thought it was time to give it a try. I found a lovely bunch of organic kale at my local grocery and knew that it was destined to become a salad. I had some pomegranate left in the fridge and a lot of lemons, so I incorporated those into my salad along with some shavings of a nice, salty Parmesan cheese. My husband and I were both a little unsure if we would like the kale raw, but we ended up eating this whole bowl between the two of us. We do love our vegetables.

I was surprised by the taste of the raw kale when compared to the taste of cooked kale. The raw kale was very grassy and reminded us both of clover, while cooked kale tends to be rather bitter. It had a more summery flavor than I was expecting, which was welcome this time of year. There are many ways to make this salad - you can vary the fruit and cheese and the addition of nuts like walnuts would be nice. Either way, this is a delicious and healthy way to enjoy some greens this winter. This recipe will make about 4-6 servings of salad as a side, starter, or a light lunch.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hot and sour chicken, cabbage, and rice soup


We finally got our first real snow of the season here in western NY. It's crazy that it's a couple of weeks into January and we hadn't really had any measurable snow here yet. It's very unusual and just didn't feel like winter. Now that we have a nice white covering, I'm officially into comfort food mode. For me, that includes a lot of soup. This soup was inspired by a recipe I read recently on The Kitchn. I read it and couldn't believe the amount of jalapeno, fresh ginger and garlic that were in this soup. I knew that my husband, who is a big fan of spice and heat, would be able to handle it like nothing....but I wasn't so sure about me with the heat. I did cut back a little...

I loved it (sure, it made me cough a little when all those pungent ingredients hit the heat!). When I ate it, the ginger hit me in the back of the throat and it did clear up my nose a little bit, but it was a good heat. It was warming and spicy and delicious - perfect for a winter evening. I would highly recommend it if you or a loved one has a cold or is stuffed up. If you are not a big fan of heat, you may want to cut down on the jalapeno or ginger. This is a very versatile recipe. You could cut out the chicken and add more mushrooms and other veggies for a vegetarian version. You could substitute rice noodles or soba noodles for the rice. Whatever you like. It's great to make if you have some leftover chicken. Plus, I am always looking for new ways to incorporate cabbage into our diet. This recipe will make about six servings. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cheddar broccoli soup


I was searching the internet for a cheddar broccoli soup - one that had a lot of cheddar flavor (versus, say, processed/melty "cheeses") and one that contained a good amount of broccoli and carrots. I also was hoping to find a "copycat" recipe of Panera's cheddar broccoli soup. As I've said before, we don't eat out that often, and even less often at chain restaurants. But, sometimes (like when you are traveling or during a day of marathon Christmas shopping) it happens. Well, Panera is one of the places that I'll chose to eat at when those times occur. I've only been there a two or three times, but every time I've had their cheddar broccoli soup and I love it. So I wanted to replicate it at home. I found a copycat recipe all over the internet. I don't know where it originated or if it's really from there... I read all the copycat recipes and then made my own version below.

This soup was delicious, and like most soups, better for lunch the next day. I enjoyed it a lot - it was exactly what I was imagining. Perfect for a winter dinner (too bad it's been more like April around here lately). I bought these little bread bowls at my grocery's bakery because I thought it would be fun to serve the soup this way. You just need to carefully cut off the tops and pull out some of the bread until it's hollow enough to hold soup (freeze the extra bread for the next time you need to make breadcrumbs). It's completely optional though. You can also puree the soup if you like. This soup will make about 6 servings.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Olive oil-almond cake with vanilla mascarpone cream


This cake was a New Year's Day dessert I made from one of my new cookbooks that many of you are likely familiar with, Melissa Clarks's Cook This Now. This is the first recipe I made from this book and I must say that I was pleased with the results. I marked this recipe right away as one to try because it sounded so intriguing to me, especially the addition of buckwheat flour in a cake. We have a couple birthdays we usually celebrate on New Year's Day, so I decided that I would give this interesting cake a try. While it's called an almond cake, I'm not sure I would say that the almond flavor stood out most to me, but it is in the background... I don't know how to describe the flavor properly though either. It's an earthy cake, but still light. The cake received positive reviews, especially the mascarpone cream. So, if you are looking for a unique cake, this one should be on your list.

The only thing I changed from the original recipe is that I made less cream because I could only find a small container of mascarpone and didn't think we would use enough to warrant purchasing two. I was correct - we only needed one cup of cream, but if you like a lot, make two cups (and increase the amount of vanilla bean and confections' sugar). This recipe will make one 9-inch round cake.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Moroccan stewed beef with prunes and apricots

I had been wanting to make a Moroccan spice-based stew with dried fruits for a while. I figured that the holidays were a great time because a lot of the spices are commonly used this time of year plus I had a bunch of dried fruit left from making sugar plums. I have no real experience or expertise with Moroccan food, but I have been reading about it recently. In the past I've made a Moroccan stewed chicken dish and a butternut squash Moroccan stew. I always love the spice combination in Moroccan recipes...cinnamon, coriander, saffron, ginger... In my mind, any savory dish that contains cinnamon has an exotic feel that I love. I have never been to a Moroccan restaurant or to Morocco, so the only Moroccan food I've ever had are these creations. I plan to get a cookbook soon so I can learn more about this cuisine because I am really enjoying what I've learned thus far.

I made this stew in a Dutch oven, but if you are lucky enough to own a tagine by all means use that. I used beef, but lamb would also work nicely. Serve this stew over some couscous or even some long grain rice. It will serve about four people.