Friday, February 27, 2009

ten-minute dinner: mushroom goat cheese pasta

This dish was inspired by something I had one night at Il Passatore, in my hood. I love fresh pasta with very minimal, simple flavors, and this one was excellent. My version pairs fresh fettuccine with sliced cremini mushrooms, a generous amount of butter, goat cheese, and a sprinkling of parsley. Earthy, rich, yet light and fresh. Recipe after the jump:


1 lb fresh fettuccine (short pasta like campanelle would also work great)
1 lb sliced cremini mushrooms
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 ounces soft goat cheese
3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Boil a large pot of well-salted water for the pasta. As soon as the pasta goes in the water, melt 3 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat is a large heavy skillet or saute pan. When the butter foam subsides, add the mushrooms and saute until just beginning to soften. Add the wine and let it simmer away. If the wine simmers completely away before the mushrooms are fully cooked, add a bit of pasta water to keep it moist. When the pasta is ready, drain and add to the mushrooms. Toss well, add the remaining butter and the parsley. Toss to coat well. Serve dotted with goat cheese and sprinkled with additional parsley.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

sunday supper: buttermilk fantail rolls

Buttery, tangy, yeasty, yummy. I should be ashamed at how many of these Buttermilk Fantail Rolls I inhaled over the last couple of days. They were so good that I barely ate the main course, I was so focused on stuffing rolls in my maw. Despite the fact that these rolls didn't quite look as I had hoped (certainly not as pretty as the photo in the February issue of Gourmet Magazine) they were just as delicious as I imagined they would be, and I found myself dreaming about them the whole next day, waiting to get home from work and reheat the leftovers and stuff myself yet again.

They were also quite simple to make, as long as you have the patience for several hours of rising, which I rarely do. Some simple rolling, slicing, and stacking of the dough turns what might otherwise be an easily overlooked bread dough into a fairly impressive looking bread basket to wow your guests with. J-Cat especially liked the pull-apart quality of these rolls, he described them as stuck together slices of bread, already buttered for you. Recipe after the jump:

From Gourmet Magazine, February 2009

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-oz package)
1/4 cup warm water (105–115°F)
1 tablespoon mild honey or sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for kneading and dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk

Equipment: a muffin pan with 12 (1/3- to 1/2-cup) muffin cup

Butter muffin cups with 1 Tbsp melted butter.

Stir together yeast, warm water, and honey in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, start over with new yeast.)

Mix flour, salt, buttermilk, and 6 Tbsp melted butter into yeast mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a soft dough forms. Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and knead, dusting surface and your hands with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is elastic and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. Form dough into a ball.

Put dough in an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch down dough (do not knead), then halve. Roll out half of dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch square (about 1/8 inch thick; keep remaining half covered with plastic wrap). Brush dough with 1/2 Tbsp butter and cut into 6 equal strips. Stack strips, buttered sides up, and cut crosswise into 6 equal pieces. Turn each piece on a side and put into a muffin cup. Make more rolls with remaining dough in same manner. Separate outer layers of each roll to fan outward. Cover rolls with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and dough fills cups, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Bake rolls until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Brush tops with remaining 2 Tbsp butter, then transfer rolls to a rack and cool at least 20 minutes.

Cooks’ note: Rolls are best the day they’re made but can be frozen (cool completely, then wrap well) 1 month. Thaw, then reheat on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven until warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

not his mom's stuffed cabbage

Maybe it's someone's mom's stuffed cabbage, but as J-Cat so tactfully informed me upon tasting it, it's not his mom's. I wasn't exactly thrilled with that statement, but in all fairness I don't think he necessarily meant that he didn't like it. I think he just meant that it was not the same style as his mom's. Of course, I've never tasted his mom's stuffed cabbage, nor seen the recipe, so I have no idea what her's is like. Thus, I was obviously not shooting for that. I also know better than to even attempt to compete with someone's mom's way of doing things, obviously I understand the sanctity of moms' cooking. All I know is that apparently she does the raisin thing, and I'm not into that. The deli downstairs does the raisins in stuffed cabbage thing, and I'm not a fan. I went a much more straightforward route with these, I made the stuffed cabbage I thought I would like best, based on many years of ardent stuffed cabbage fandom.

This is what I want from my stuffed cabbage:
1. Beef, not pork
2. Tomato sauce, not gravy
3. Good rice to meat ratio
4. No raisins

My mother never made stuffed cabbage, but as far as I'm concerned, if she did it would probably be a lot like this. Actually, she'd probably put raisins in it, too. Recipe after the jump:


1 head green or Savoy cabbage, about 2 lbs
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, shredded
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 parsnip, shredded
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 to 4 cups tomato sauce

Peel off about a dozen of the largest cabbage leaves and place in a large bowl. Boil a small pot of water and pour the water over the cabbage and let it sit for ten minutes until wilted.

Heat the oil in a large, wide pot. Cook the onions until they are soft, add the carrot, celery and parsnip and saute them for a couple extra minutes — until they are also soft. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, transfer it to a bowl and let it cool a bit. Mix in the meat, rice and tomato paste and season again with salt and pepper.

Drain the cabbage and pat the leaves dry with paper towels. Cut out the large vein from the cabbage. Roll about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of filling in each leaf, roll like a burrito, and arrange in the same pot you sauteed the vegetables in. Pour in enough tomato sauce to cover the rolls. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, letting them simmer covered on the stove on low for about 45 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

chicken pot pie

I thought it was a nice touch to make this pinnacle of comfort food in my mom's hand me down corning ware casserole dish. It's utterly appropriate. It was also a good thing that I chose to make a somewhat leaner version of the dish that I found in a recent issue of Real Simple Magazine, because not only was it completely tasty despite the lowered fat, but these last few days have been so ridiculously indulgent that the healthy-ish pot pie is the only bit of guilt-free dining I've had this week. Burgers, donuts, falafel, donuts, crepes, donuts. Sometimes my job just destroys my willpower.

J-Cat declared this dish one of his favorites, and ate a good 2/3 of it in one evening. When that skinny boy can stuff that much into himself, it is the ultimate sign that I made some good stuff. Recipe after the jump:

Adapted from Real Simple Magazine

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 shallots, chopped
4 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups 1 percent milk
1 10-ounce package frozen peas
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Kosher salt and pepper
1 9-inch store-bought piecrust, thawed if frozen (the Pillsbury Just Unroll crust is perfect for this for a weeknight dinner)

Heat oven to 400° F. Cook the chicken in a pot of simmering water until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes; let cool, then cut into small cubes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, 6 to 8 minutes (do not let them darken). Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the wine and cook until evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the milk and simmer until the sauce thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken, peas, thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Transfer to a shallow 1 1/2- to 2-quart baking dish.

Lay the crust on top, pressing to seal. Cut several vents in the crust. Place the pot pie on a baking sheet and bake until bubbling and the crust is golden, 30 to 35 minutes.

Yield: Makes 6 servings

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

omg stop it with the meyer lemons

Okay, this is it. I swear. This is the last of my Meyer lemon desserts for the season. Or, at least, it's the last of the ones I'm going to blog about unless I change the title of this blog to *the meyer lemonfruit*

I just can't resist, and as the previous two were tarts, I only felt it fair that pies get some representation. Because pies are truly my first love. And this one is just as simple as the rest. Custardy, tangy, bright and sweet, the combination of buttermilk, eggs, and Meyer lemons strikes a perfect balance. If I am going to judge the deliciousness of a round dessert based on the size of the slice missing at the end of the first night, this one may be the winner. I was shocked the next day when I realized that J-Cat and I ate almost half of the pie in one sitting. Ouch. Recipe after the jump:


4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
grated peel of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 recipe pie crust, for a 9-inch single crust pie

In a large mixing bowl beat eggs and sugar until light and lemon-colored. Beat in flour, then buttermilk, melted butter, lemon peel, lemon juice, and vanilla. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake in a 375° oven for 45-50 minutes, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on rack.

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Monday, February 16, 2009


That cake not doing it for you? Why don't you try dousing it with sugar syrup? Because that can't be bad, right? Especially if that sugar syrup is lemony and sweet and fragrant with rose water, and the cake is dense and rich with semolina and yogurt. Basbousa - a cake popular throughout the Mediterranean under several different names - is quite sweet, and should probably be cut into much smaller pieces than this. In my defense, my version was not as syrup-soaked as is traditional, because I was impatient to eat it and didn't want to wait around for more syrup to soak in. Recipe after the jump:

For the Cake:
7 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium eggs
12-1/2 oz (2 cups) semolina
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup plain yogurt
2 oz (1/2 cup) blanched almonds

For the Syrup:
16 fl oz (2 cups) water
2 cups superfine sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp rose water

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Start by making the batter. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well. Gradually blend in the semolina and the baking powder. Add the yogurt and mix well until the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 12-inch round oven-proof pan. Cut into diamond shapes and place an almond in the center of each diamond. Bake for about 35 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

In the meantime, make the sugar syrup: In a saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil, then add the lemon juice and reduce the heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool.

When the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and pour the cooled syrup over the hot cake. Cool, cut and store in an airtight container.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

omg stop it with the cauliflower

Man, I am so uninspired sometimes. I am a vegetable obsessive. I can't break out of my cauliflower/brussels sprouts/beets rut. Another one for the upcoming cauliflower only cookbook. God, this isn't even my first cauliflower curry. Recipe after the jump:

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 15-ounce can lite coconut milk
2-3 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large red onion, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup water
10 ounces firm tofu, cut into small cubes
1/2 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch segments
1 head cauliflower (approx. 2 lbs), cut into tiny florets
1/2 cup cashews, toasted
a handful of cilantro, loosely chopped

Bring half of the coconut milk to a simmer in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Whisk in the curry powder and salt, working out any clumps. Now stir in the chopped red onion and garlic and cook for a minute. Stir in the remaining coconut milk and the water, and then the tofu. Cook down the liquid for a couple minutes before adding the green beans and cauliflower. Cover and simmer for just about one minute, maybe two - or just until the cauliflower and beans lose their raw edge and cook through a bit. Remove the pot from heat and stir in the cashews. Taste and adjust the seasoning (salt / curry powder) if needed. Serve with a bit of cilantro topping each bowl.

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What. Is that? You might be asking. It does not look pretty. As always, slow cookers make everything look nasty but taste awesome. Then again, split pea soup is not really known for being attractive. What is attractive is the amazing smokey porky aroma that greets you when you get home after a long work day and your soup has been bubbling away for 10 hours. This is what it looked like in the morning:

Smoked ham hocks. Pure amazingness. I suspect they may have contributed to the brownish shade of the soup, when usually split pea soup is on the greener side. I don't really care what it looks like though, it was just tasty. It was also too easy, but you do have to be willing to chop onions first thing in the morning. Recipe after the jump:


1 pound dry green split peas
2 smoked ham hocks
1 medium onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch coins
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bouquet garni consisting of parsley, thyme, and 1 bay leaf
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
6 cups hot water

Layer ingredients in slow cooker in the order given; pour in water. Do not stir ingredients. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 to 5 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours until peas are very soft and ham falls off bone. Remove the bones, skin, and bouquet garni. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. I do not add salt until the end of the cooking because the ham hocks will add a lot of saltiness to the soup and extra salt may not be necessary. Serve garnished with croutons. Freezes well.
Serves 8.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

in season: whole lemon tart

I know, I know. I just made a lemon tart a couple weeks ago. But, you see, whenever I have some lemon tart, it haunts me. And I swear this one is different. Because, like that wacky clementine cake from last month, this tart uses the whole lemon, peel and all. As with last time, J-Cat's question was "why?". Well, it's a good question. And the only answer I have is "because it's strange".

It is also a) easier than the lemon curd tart b) another good excuse to buy Meyer lemons and c) dee-licious.

Unlike the lemon curd, this filling requires no cooking, just blending. It forms this caramelize-y sugar top all on it's own. And the slight bitterness from the peel gives it a little flavor edge to counteract the sweetness. I don't know that this tart would move into my #1 lemon dessert slot, because I'm fairly obsessed with lemon curd, but it is a very close second. Recipe after the jump:

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours

For the crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tbsp cold water

For the filling:
2 Meyer lemons
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg, at room temp.
2 large egg yolks, at room temp.
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled

Method: Crust
Preheat oven to 375F. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter, and process until large moist crumbs form. Transfer the dough to a round tart pan (10 or 12-inch diameter). With floured fingers press the dough into the pan. Freeze until firm (around 15min). Take out the freezer, and prick all over with a fork and cover with aluminium foil. Bake until golden for 20 min. Remove the foil and press down the crust with the back of a spoon. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Place the cooled crust on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet.

Method: Filling
Preheat the oven to 325F. Scrub the lemons and dry well. Cut the lemons into small pieces. Place the lemon pieces and sugar together in a blender and process until a regular consistency (you will need to scrape down the blender with a rubber spatula multiple times, to make sure the lemon and sugar are integrated). Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until a smooth consistency has been formed. Tap the blender on your bench top a few times to eliminate some of the bubble and pour into the tart crust.

Transfer the tart pan and baking sheet to the oven and bake for 20 min.

Increase the temperature to 350F and bake for another 25-30 min. When the tart has finished baking it should be fairly set, and the top will have a sugary crust. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temp.

This can be served at room temp. or chilled (it can be served two days after it has been made as long as it's kept in the fridge).

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

easy weeknight (dead of winter) dinners: beef stroganoff

A small disclaimer about this recipe: I'm guessing this is not particularly authentic, but I've been making Beef Stroganoff this way for so many years that it is now how I always want it. Especially when it's 16 degrees outside and I'm starving. It also happens to be that I devised this recipe during one of my healthier stints so there are a few attempts at lowering fat built in. I don't, however, think that flavor or texture suffers at all, and there are not too many times that I will say that so confidently. As with any of my "healthified" recipes, the key is cutting where it counts, and never cutting completely. Lower fat dairy products, but never non-fat. Less butter, but never no butter. Lean meat, but still a lot of meat. Recipe after the jump:


1 lb sirloin or tenderloin, sliced into 1/2-inch wide strips
1 tbsp butter
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup shallots, finely diced
2/3 up beef broth, or one bouillon cube dissolved in 2/3 cup hot water
1 1/2 tbsp worchestershire sauce
1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 cup lowfat milk
1 cup lowfat sour cream
salt and pepper, to taste

1 lb wide egg noodles

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper and sear until browned on both sides. Remove from the skillet and set aside. Add the shallots and mushrooms to the skillet and saute until the shallots are translucent and the mushrooms begin to give off liquid. Return the meat to the skillet. Mix together the broth, worchestershire sauce, flour, and milk and pour into the skillet. Bring liquid to a simmer and allow to cook and thicken while the noodles cook. When the noodles are cooked, drain and plate. Take the beef off the heat and mix in the sour cream. Serve over the egg noodles.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

my philosophy of the turkey burger

Here is the key to a good turkey burger - put stuff in it. There is nothing less appetizing than a turkey burger that is literally just turkey, with no seasonings and no life. Let's be honest, ground turkey needs help. A turkey patty will never, ever stand up to a real burger. But if approached as a thing unto itself, a palette onto which you can paint a multitude of wonderful flavors, turkey burgers can be awesome. I don't think I've ever made a turkey burger the same way twice, but every time it comes out great. No matter what flavor you decide to go with, turkey will probably be willing to accept it. Recipe after the jump:


1 tbsp canola oil
1 pound ground turkey meat
1 large egg
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Shape into 4 patties about 1/2 inch thick. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook for about 4 minutes per side until browned and juices run clear.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

super bowl sunday supper: black bean and mushroom chili

Some quotes from J-Cat during last night's Super Bowl game:
"What the hell is a safety? Nothing about that looked safe to me."
"Woohoo! Wait, am I rooting for the right team?"
"He just ran across the whole field!! Does that really happen?!"
"I am so confused."
"Mmmmm, chipotle"

So yeah, we're not football people. At all. But we decided to watch the Super Bowl, I think primarily because J-Cat wanted Super Bowl food. So I decided to cook up a big (enormous) pot of black bean chili, and he made some yummy quesadillas.

This chili happens to be not only vegetarian, but healthy, yet does not skimp on the flavor. Smoky heat from chipotles in adobo, tang and depth from tomatillos, meatiness from mushrooms, and that creamy bite that you can only get from dried beans. On top of that, it's a super simple slow-cooker recipe that I could throw in the pot before going out for the afternoon, and return to a house filled with incredible chili aromas. Recipe after the jump:

Adapted from Eating Well

1 pound dried black beans (2 1/2 cups), rinsed
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds or ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds or ground cardamom
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup water
6 cups mushroom broth or vegetable broth
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seed and chop the peppers
1 1/4 cups grated Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes, cut into wedges

1. Soak beans overnight in 2 quarts water. (Alternatively, place beans and 2 quarts water in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour.) Drain the beans, discarding soaking liquid.
2. Combine oil, mustard seeds, chili powder, cumin and cardamom in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Place over high heat and stir until the spices sizzle, about 30 seconds. Add onions, mushrooms, tomatillos and water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are juicy, 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover and stir often until the juices evaporate and the vegetables are lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Add broth, tomato paste and chipotles; mix well.
3. Place the beans in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Pour the hot vegetable mixture over the beans. Turn heat to high. Put the lid on and cook until the beans are creamy, 5 to 8 hours.
4. Garnish each serving with cheese, a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Stovetop Variation:
Total: 4 1/2 hours
In Step 2, increase broth to 81/2 cups. Omit Step 3. Add the beans to the Dutch oven; cover and simmer the chili gently over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the beans are creamy to bite, about 3 hours.

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