Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Zucchini Rollatinis

This was a delicious discovery of a recipe I found in Martha Stewart Living magazine.  http://www.marthastewart.com/1033653/zucchini-rollatini  It was a great way to use the basil that's growing like weeds in my herb garden (also made pesto this week...so much basil!) You can even make the dish vegetarian by omitting the prosciutto.  It was very tasty, and pretty, and Reid even said the next morning, that was really tasty!

Zucchini Rollatini

  • 2 large zucchini (8-10 inches long), cut lengthwise into 1/8"-thick slices
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 5-6 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 24 large fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish (about 2 handfuls)-I think I used more like 3 handfuls
  • 2 c tomato sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 425*.  Season zucchini slices on both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook zucchini in single-layer batches until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side.
  2. Layer on each zucchini a piece of proscuitto torn to fit, mozzarella cheese, and basil.  Roll each stack into a pinwheel and spear with a toothpick to hold together. *
  3. Place tomato sauce in 8" diameter baking dish.  Place rollatini pinwheels in sauce side by side in dish and remove toothpicks.  Bake until cheese is bubbling, 10-12 minutes.  Garnish with basil.

Chipotle Shrimp Tacos

I've had this recipe in my arsenal since my sister and I lived together some 5 years ago.  Those were really awesome days and we cooked together all the time.  I've been making this recipe since 5 years ago.  The one hang up is finding good tomatillos.  Sometimes the tomatillos at HEB are a little sad looking, so I try to make this recipe when they look decent.  This recipe come from food network http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/chipotle-shrimp-taco-with-avocado-salsa-verde-recipe/index.html Sorry the pics are so blurry! That's what I get for always taking photos on my camera phone at night. I need to invest in a better camera, it's just camera phones make uploading pics so easy!
The avocado salsa makes tooooons, so I sometimes reduce the recipe for half or buy some tortilla chips to finish off the rest.  Also, the salsa gets pretty watery in the food processor, so try not to pulse too much.  I have also pan fried the shrimp when I did not have an indoor grill, which is still delicious.

Chiptole Shrimp Taco with Avocado Salsa Verde

Avocado Salsa:

  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 jalapeno, quartered and seeded
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 4 medium tomatillos
  • 1/2 Hass avocado, peeled, seeded and cut into chunk
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 c. loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Shrimp:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 8 corn tortillas (I like to use flour sometimes)
  • 8 springs cilantro for garnish
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
Directions:

  1. Put onion, jalapeno, and garlic in food processor and finely chop.  Add tomatillos, avocado, and salt and pulse until chopped but still chunky.  Do not overpulse, it will get too liquid very quickly.  Stir in cilantro
  2. Heat stovetop or outdoor gril to medium-high.  Mix olive oil, chipotle powder and salt in a large bowl.  Add shrimp and toss to coat.  Grill shrimp until translucent, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes each side
  3. Grill tortillas about 20 seconds per side.  (or wrap in damp paper towel and heat in microwave)  Spoon sauce on tortilla, then top with shrimp and spring of cilantro.  Serve with lime wedge on side.





Sunday, September 15, 2013

Homemade Pasta: Egg Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Meatballs and Spinach Pasta Chicken Alfredo

A few weekends ago, Reid and I went to a techniques class at Williams-Sonoma.  Technique classes are basically free classes where they teach you...you guessed it...cooking or baking techniques.  You should check one out at your local store: Williams-Sonoma technique classes.  The one Reid and I attended was on how to make homemade pasta.  The pasta dough recipes I'm posting here are from the handout they gave us.  Williams-Sonoma Classic Fesh Egg Pasta Recipe and Williams-Sonoma Fresh Spinach Pasta.  The Alfredo sauce recipe is from Food.com. Better than Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce Recipe.  Did you know that Alfredo was a chef who created Alfredo sauce for his picky pregnant wife by tripling the butter and cream in a traditional pasta sauce? Thanks, Dinner Party Download! Dinner Party Download is an awesome Podcast, and I highly recommend it to everyone.  It starts with an ice breaker joke, has a drink inspired by history, dinner party topics, etiquette lessons, dinner party music lists by cool artists, a segment about food, and special guest countdowns.  I sometimes work out listening to it, which is a little ironic because I work out since I eat so much, and DPD is a lot about food.

I made a batch of egg pasta from beginning to end and made a batch of spinach pasta dough to freeze for later rolling/cutting.  Fresh pasta is so delicious.  It has a more vibrant flavor and a more substantial chew/bite.  I don't really know how to describe it.  Just try it yourself!

One thing I found out at the class: hand cranked pasta rollers and cutters need 2 people.  Or someone with 3 hands, since you need a hand to feed it through the machine, a hand to catch the dough, and a hand to crank the machine.  It seemed like a lot of work.  The Kitchen-Aid pasta attachment is MUCH EASIER.  I definitely recommend it if you think you'll be making any pasta.  I bought them after attending the demo.  I also found out the hard way that spinach pasta is a pain to make into spaghetti.  Because the spinach is pretty thick, you have to hand separate the pasta after you cut it with the spaghetti cutter.  That took forever.  Next time I will cut it into fettuccine.

Classic Egg Pasta
makes about 1 lb. dough
Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. semolina flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbs. water, plus more as needed
Directions:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater (don't use the dough hook), combine the all-purpose flour, semolina flour, salt and olive oil.   Beat on low speed just until just combined, about 30 seconds.
  2. In a measuring cup with spout, whisk together the eggs and 2 Tbs. water.  WIth the mixer on low speed, slowly drizzle in the egg mixture and beat until the flour has been absorbed into the egg mixutre, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stop the mixer and, using your hands, squeeze a small amount of dough into a ball.  It should be moist enough to hold together but not sticky; if it is too dry, add more water, 1 tsp. at a time.
  4. Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape into 2 balls.  Wrap separately with plastic wrap and then flatten each ball into a disk.  Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.  You'll know if the dough is ready because it will feel like leather and won't tear when it goes through the rollers.
  5. After the dough has rested and is no longer sticky, it is ready to be rolled out.  Divide the dough in quarters.  Cover three of the quarters with a kitchen towel.  Flatten the dough into a rectangle thin enough to go through a pasta machine at the widest setting.  Pass the dough through the rollers once, then fold the resulting strip into thirds.
  6. Flatten the dough until it is then enough to pass through the rollers again.  Flour, fold, flatten at the widest setting once or twice, then pass through rollers 6 times at the widest setting or until the dough is smooth and supple.
  7. Starting at the second-to-widest setting, pass the dough through the rollers again.  Continue making the rollers narrower each time, until the dough reaches the desired thickness.  Pass the dough through each setting once or twice.  Place the finished pasta sheets on baking sheets dusted with semolina flour.  Repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
  8. Cut fresh pasta into desired shapes.  Dust with flour andlowely fold them or form into small nests on a baking sheet, covered with kitchen towels.  You can cook them right away or wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  9. Boil pasta in boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes.  Drain in colander.
Homemade Tomato Sauce with Italian Sausage
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ~1/8-1/4 reserved pasta water
Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, brown Italian sausage.  Drain oil.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil.  Saute garlic and onion until softened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and simmer until tomatoes have broken down, about 30 minutes.
  4. Add basil.  At this point, you can use an immersion blender to smooth out the sauce, or leave chunky, depending on preference.  I made it both ways and I like it smooth, Reid likes it chunky.
  5. Add Italian sausage, salt and pepper, and pasta water and stir to combine.
  6. Coat pasta with sauce and top with fresh shredded Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

"It's a waterfall of carbs!" Reid

Mmmmm, waterfall of carbs!

Yum

Eat up!
Spinach Pasta Chicken Alfredo

Spinach Pasta Dough
Ingredients:

  • 1 package frozen spinach, defrosted and excess water drained through wringing in a kitchen towel
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • Semolina flour for dusting
Directions:

  1. Place the spinach in a food processor with 1 of the eggs.  Process to a smooth puree, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the work bowl.
  2. Place the 3 cups all-purpose flour in a mound on a work surface.  Make a well in the center large enough to hold the spinach mixture and the remaining egg, lightly beaten, and place the spinach mixture and egg into the well.  Using a fork, begin gradually incorporating some of the flour from the sides, taking care not to break the flour wall.  When the egg is no longer runny, you can stop worrying about the wall.  Continue working in more flour until the dough is no longer wet.  
  3. Begin kneading the dough by hand, adding as much additional all-purpose flour as needed until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky, 2-3 minutes.  Scoop up any remaining flour and pass it through a sieve to remove any large particles.  Set the sieved flour aside for dusting the dough when rolling and cutting.
  4. See above recipe for rolling and cutting.  Don't cut into spaghetti, unless you want to spend an hour hand separating like me!
Chicken Alfredo Sauce
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil for sauteing chicken breast
  • 3 tbs. sweet cream butter
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
Directions:

  1. Season chicken breast with salt and pepper.  Saute in a large skillet in olive oil over medium heat until no longer pink in the middle, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and olive oil over medium-low heat.
  3. Add garlic, cream, and white pepper and simmer, stirring often.
  4. Add Parmesan cheese and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until sauce thickened and smooth.
  5. Add mozzarella cheese and stir until smooth.  STIR CONTINUOUSLY.  Otherwise, I'm sure you will get chunks of melted cheese.  I don't know, I stirred continuously.
  6. Add in chicken and spoon over pasta.

Kinda looks like seaweed, but much tastier

Who needs Olive Garden when you can have this at home!

Pizza Dip

One of my former lacrosse teammates, Lizzy, introduced me to pizza dip.  She would bring it to lacrosse parties and get togethers and pretty much any other time we could beg her to bring it.  It's amazing! You dip tortilla chips in the dip and it literally tastes like pizza.   In your mouth.  But on a tortilla chip.  We used to have "Fun Food Fridays" on some of our rotations at vet school, which is pretty much an excuse for residents and interns and the doctors to get fed by the 4th year students.  Anyway, I brought this 1 or 2 times and it was a hit.  I also brought this to work once when we had a pot luck day.  It's super easy to make and definitely a crowd pleaser!  Great game day food, too.  I altered Lizzy's recipe a little by adding oregano and dried basil to the cream cheese base.

Pizza Dip
Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 3/4 c. tomato sauce
  • 1&1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • about 8 large pepperoni slices, cut into bite sized pieces
  • bag of tortilla chips
Directions:

  1. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the bottom of a heat safe pan.  Lizzy used to use a pie pan to make it look like pizza, but sometimes I microwave the dip and like to put into a glass dish.
  2. Mix in the oregano and basil.
  3. Layer the tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni slices.
  4. Bake at 375*C for 10-15 minutes or until cheese melted.  Alternatively, you can microwave for about 5 minutes but it doesn't stay hot as long.
  5. Enjoy with tortilla chips!

spreading the cream cheese is much harder if you forget to soften the cream cheese...

Before baking.  Oops! forgot a melted dip picture!

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

So you know how I love my new ice cream maker? Well, if you didn't, I do.  I've made blueberry pie ice cream and vanilla ice cream.  My favorite so far is this salted caramel ice cream recipe from http://espressoandcream.com/2012/07/salted-caramel-ice-cream.html.  It's really good.  My parents were in town once after I'd made some and my dad kept on saying I needed to start selling it.  Yea, it's that awesome.   I think my dad even told my sister about it and said we needed to start selling it.  Hah!

The first time I made it the cream boiled over on my stove and made a huge mess, so watch it carefully! Don't leave even if you really have to go pee!  Also, the first time I made it I was really paranoid about the chunks of caramel that remained after adding the cream, but the second time I wasn't too worried and it turned out fine.  Espresso and Cream does not say when to add the vanilla, so I guessed.  Also, some of the directions were a little confusing, so these are my interpretations of the directions.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Ingredients:

  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 1 tbs plus 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 1/2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 2 tbs light corn syrup
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Directions:

  1. In a ramekin or small bowl, mix 2 tbs. of milk with corn starch no longer lumpy.
  2. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
  3. In a measuring cup with a spout, mix the heavy cream with corn syrup.
  4. In a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the sugar until golden amber in color.
  5. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream and corn syrup mixture a small amount at a time.  It will fizzle and pop.  Don't be alarmed, but also don't get any hot splatter on you!  Keep adding a little cream at a time until smooth-ish.  Don't beat yourself up if you have some chunks, like I did.  It will melt together in the next step.
  6. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add in the 1 c. milk less the 2 tbs from step number 1.
  7. Bring to a rolling boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and gradually mix in the cornstarch slurry and salted cream cheese 
  8. Bring back to a boil over medium and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  If any caramel flecks or cream cheese lumps remain, pour mixture through fine mesh sieve.
  9. Add vanilla and stir to combine.
  10. Transfer mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until completely cold, preferably overnight.
  11. Pout into an electric ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.
  12. Transfer to a sealable container and store in the freezer until firm, about 1-2 hours.

Tequila Lime Skirt Steak

Ok, I've been really slacking on my posts lately, so I'm about to unload so many. Hope you're prepared.

I found the inspirations for this recipe on Pinterest at http://cookingbride.com/main-courses/tequila-lime-skirt-steak/.  I googled Tequila Lime Steak and also found a Food Network recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/grilled-tequila-garlic-lime-flank-steak-recipe/index.html and kind of took from either one what I liked.  The result was a really delicious, flavorful, tender steak that both I and Reid really liked.  It was very easy to put together.  Plus, it uses skirt steak, which is super cheap! I served it with some roasted corn on the cob and potato salad I had made earlier in the week.

Tequila Lime Steak
Ingredients:
  • 1&1/2 lbs. skirt steak
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup tequilla
  • 1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 c. squeezed lime juice (2-3 limes)
  • 1 tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tbs. brown sugar
  • 1 pepper (Guy Fieri's recipe says jalapeno and serrano, I just used the peppers I have growing in my garden), seeded and diced
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • flour or corn tortillas
  • any desired additional toppings (I used Greek yogurt and shredded chedder cheese, it would be excellent with some cilantro, queso fresco, avocados , but I didn't have any on hand.)
Directions:
  1. Combine garlic, tequila, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, peppers, and black pepper into a resealable plastic bag.  Add skirt steak.
  2. Seal the bag and toss to coat.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, overnight is even better.  Remove from refrigerator and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Prepare grill on medium high heat.
  4. Place steak on grill and cook 3-4 minutes per side, until internal temperature reaches 120 degrees.
  5. Warm tortillas on grill while steak cooks.
  6. Remove steak and allow to rest for 15 minutes.  Cut in thin slices against the grain.
  7. Serve with lime wedges.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

New York-Style Bagels

Did you know that homemade bagels are AMAZE-BALLS?!!!!! Well, they are! OMG they are so good.  I don't know how anyone could ever give up carbs.  I mean, these bagels are so good.  They are totally worth the 2 days it took to make them.  Yea, it took two days to make them, but all of it wasn't hands on.  Most of the wait was waiting for them to rise for 24 hrs (and I didn't have time after work one night, so I actually let them rise for 48 hours).  I'd always been kind of nervous about making bagels because one super traditional recipe I read used lye to boil the bagels.  Lye? Like the caustic basic solution stuff? The recipe even had a note about how it's hard to purchase/illegal maybe to sell lye in the grocery store so you had to order it online.  Can't remember where I saw that recipe, Food & Wine or epicurious.  But yea, that put me off making bagels.  But then my friend Laura told me she made bagels with her mom and they were awesome.  And she did not boil them in lye.  Well, after that, I found this awesome recipe on Pinterest at
Love and Olive Oil and it has amazing pictures and even a video! How awesome is that?  Made making bagels seem a lot less scary.

I picked up the toppings (dried onions, poppy seeds) at the new HEB Plus that opened up near our house and got to check the new place out.  It's pretty nice.  My only complaint is the parking lot is horrible.  But everything is new and shiny!  I had toasted sesame seeds already, from making Korean BBQ My Korean Short Ribs Recipe.

Some notes about the recipe: I used honey because that's what I had and I thought it might not turn out as well as with malt syrup, but it was very tasty.  Make sure you use instant yeast.  This is different from dry active yeast.  When I made the bagel shape, they did not come out perfect and had a few seems.  I kind of fixated on that, but don't do that.  One side looked fine and that's kind of all that matters.  I made a few 'everything bagels' with all the toppings I used.  The toppings list is unlimited and you could use whatever you want.  Reid requested a few plain bagels, so I also made 2 plain bagels.

The original recipe is from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day via Epicurious.  

New York-Style Bagels

Makes 8 bagels Cook Time: 1 hr Total time:24 hours
Ingredients
Dough:

  • 1 tbs barley malt syrup, honey, or rice syrup or 1 tsp. diastatic malt powder
  • 1 tsp (3g)  instant yeast.
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt or 2 1/2 tsp course kosher salt
  • 1 c plus 2 tbs lukewarm water (about 95*F)
  • 3 1/2 c unbleached bread flour


Poaching Liquid:

  • 2 to 3 quarts (64 to 96 oz / 181 to 272 g) water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (1 oz / 28.5 g) barley malt syrup or honey (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon (0.5 oz / 14 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (0.25 oz / 7 g) salt, or 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

Toppings:

  • toasted sesame seeds
  • dried onion, rehydrated in warm water
  • poppy seeds

Directions:

Day 1:

  1. To make the dough, stir the honey, yeast, and salt into the lukewarm water until dissolved.
  2. Place the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the liquid and mix for about 3 minutes or until dough comes together. If the dough is too dry add another tablespoon or two of water as needed. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Knead for 3 to 5 minutes (with the dough hook or by hand) or until dough is stiff yet supple and just barely tacky. If the dough seems too soft or overly tacky, knead in a little more flour as needed.
  4. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap,and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  5. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  6. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, then form each into a ball by rolling it on a clean, dry work surface with a cupped hand.
  7. Poke a hole through the center of the ball to create a donut shape. Holding the dough with both thumbs in the hole, rotate the dough with your hands, gradually stretching it to create a hole about 2 inches in diameter.
  8. Arrange shaped bagels on prepared baking sheet. Mist with cooking spray or brush with a light coating of oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days.

Day 2:

  1. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F. If you plan to top your bagels with dried onion or garlic, rehydrate by soaking in water to cover for at least 1 hour before applying.
  2. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and immediately check whether they are ready for baking using the “float test”: drop one bagel in a small bowl of cold water. If it sinks, fish it out, shake it off, return it to the pan. Let your bagels proof for another 15 to 20 minutes, then test them again. When the bagels float to the surface, they’re ready.
  3. Fill a large pot with 2 to 3 quarts of water, making sure the water is at least 4 inches deep. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain at a simmer. Stir in the malt syrup, baking soda, and salt until dissolved.
  4. Gently lower each bagel into the poaching liquid, taking care not to overcrowd the pot. Boil for 1 minute, then flip each bagel over using tongs or a slotted spoon. Boil for another minute, then transfer back to the sheet pan, domed side up. (If you need to oil the parchment again, definitely do so, otherwise the paper will stick to the dough as the bagels bake.)
  5. Sprinkle on a generous amount of seeds or other toppings on to the still-damp bagels.
  6. Lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and bake for 15 to 17 minutes, rotating the pan half-way through baking, until golden brown. If the bottoms are getting too dark before the bagels are done, place another pan under the baking sheet to insulate and prevent the bagels from burning.
  7. Transfer bagels to a wire rack and cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.



No lye here!

Putting the toppings on can get a little messy.  Jake had a great time licking the kitchen floor.

Poppy!

So chewy/crunchy/fluffy/tasty

Nom!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)

Reid's parents were in Austin last week for work.  We met them up at Frank's hot dogs the first night they were in town.  Frank's is an artisinal hot dog restaurant in downtown Austin.  It was our first time there; I'd heard about it through friends and my old vet school counselor (thanks, Dr. Posey!).  It was really good.  They actually had currywurst on the menu! Currywurst is "a fast food dish of German origin consisting of steamed, then fried pork sausage cut into slices and seasoned with curry ketchup, regularly consisting of ketchup or tomato paste blended with generous amount of curry powder, or a ready-made ketchup-based sauce seasoned with curry and other spices" (thanks, Wikipedia!).  I'd had it almost any chance I could when I was studying abroad one summer in Germany during vet school and when I came back to the States, was saddened to never find it on any 'German" (aka Bavarian) restaurant menus in Texas.  Anyway, they had it so I had to order it.  It came with toast instead of french fries, which was a little disappointing, but it was otherwise pretty good.  Anyway, I offered to cook dinner the next night and made Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio (Vietnamese Grilled BBQ Pork and Eggrolls over Vermicelli Noodles) and Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Spring Rolls).  It was really great to be able to cook for my new in-laws!

Goi Cuon, Vietnamese Spring Rolls, can have basically any stuffing.  Traditionally, there is either pork or shrimp as the protein component. There is another similar dish called Bo Bia that has lap xuong (Chinese sausage) and scrambled egg that my mom will often make a vegetarian versions of when my dad's craving some.  Anyway, Goi Cuon, is pretty simple in the ingredients and assembly, but somehow some anglosized restaurants ALWAYS MESS IT UP!  There was one restaurant in College Station that would roll them so thick they were like burritos.  These should be easily handled rolls.  Also, I've had some people ask me what the difference between a spring roll and an egg roll is.  I think it's a little different for Chinese terminology, but for Vietnamese, spring rolls have rice paper wrappers and are not fried.  Eggrollls are have wonton-like wrappers and are fried (aka Cha Gio).  Ok, off my soap box and on to my recipe:

Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)
Makes 4

Ingredients:
4 sheets rice paper (banh trang)
1/4 medium cucumber, cut in long wedges
1/4 c. shredded carrots
4 pieces red leaf lettuce
handful of fresh mint leaves
handful of fresh thai basil*
1/4 lb. boiled shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 package vermicelli noodles (bun tuoi dac biet), cooked according to directions
2 tbs. crushed dry roasted peanuts**

Directions:
Dip one sheet of rice paper into a large, shallow bowl of warm water until just dampened
Lay rice paper onto a plate
Layer lettuce, cucumbers, vermicelli noodles, carrots, herbs, peanuts and shrimp onto bottom 1/4 to half of the rice paper
Roll each side of rice paper over, then tightly roll from bottom to top, being careful not to tear the rice paper.
Serve immediately with dipping sauce

Hoisin Peanut Dipping Sauce
1 tbs. hoisin sauce
1 tbs. smooth peanut butter
1/4 tsp. water
Mix well in a small ramikan and sprinkle some crushed peanuts over the top.

*I don't use traditional herbs, I use what is growing in my herb garden
** exclude if you are allergic to peanuts, like me!
Since I can't eat the peanut dipping sauce, I just dip into a little hoisin sauce or nuoc mam (fish sauce)
Prep

Banh Trang


a little lumpy looking one
Hoisin sauce for me!


So fresh and so cl-clean!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Belgian Waffles

You know what one of the benefits of getting married is? New kitchen gadgets!!!!!!!! Oh yea, and gaining a lifelong partner to share the joys of life and family and all that jazz.  But seriously, so many gifts.  It's like Christmas times a gazillion.  So the next few posts will be of me trying out all of the new goodies.  Like our waffle iron:
Thanks, Marcus!
Recipe from the St. John's church recipe book, a bridal shower gift.  This church is where both Reid's grandparents were members and where Reid's parents got married.


Belgian Waffles
Ingredients:

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/2 tbs. melted butter
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 1 egg, separated
Directions:

  1. Sift dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Beat whites until stiff; set aside.
  3. Add egg yok, butter and milk to the dry ingredents an dmix thoroughly.
  4. Stir 1/4 of the egg white into the batter to lighten it and gently fold in the remaining egg white.
  5. Bake according to directions for waffle baker.
  6. Coconut, nuts, or chocolate chips can be sprinkled over top before baking.  I chose to have slices of bananas and milk chocolate chips top one of my waffles, and strawberry sauce topped the other.  Strawberry sauce was made by reducing down 1/4 c. strawberries, 1/8 c. water, 3tbs sugar, and 1 tsp orange liquor in a sauce pan over medium-low heat.
Recipe provided by Karen Gardner in St. John's United Methodist Church Recipe Collection Book
Banana chocolate chip and strawberry sauce topped Belgian waffles

Food Adventures in Spain!


Reid and I came back from our honeymoon in Barcelona and Majorca, Spain two weeks ago.  It was really amazing.  We spent five days Barcelona, getting our culture on visiting Picasso's museum, Miro's art museum, the Museum of Catalan Art, Sagrada Familia, Le Cathedral, Park Guell, and obviously eating and drinking.  Three days in Majorca was spent hiking, swimming, and just taking in the amazing beauty of that island.  It was really phenomenal.  We've made a pact to go back at least for our 25th anniversary.  

Of course, the food was wonderful.  We feasted on tapas, paella, sardines, sangria, and Estrella bear.  One dish that really surprised me was the Spanish omelettes we ate.  They were these fluffy but flavor-dense thick egg and potato omelettes with the perfect salty savory yumminess.  I really didn't think they were going to be that good, but they were! Especially as little bocadillos (mini baguette sandwiches).  I'll have to find a recipe for them because there's gotta be more to them then egg and potato!  One thing that was difficult, was eating dinner so late (we mulled around one restaurant at 8pm waiting for it to open!)

Forgot to mention this amazing dessert called La Cardinal. I didn't get any photos, but at a seaside restaurant in Port Soller, we had this dessert which was layered meringue, whipped cream, and raspberry sauce. Sounds so simple but it was absolutely amazing! Light and refreshing and melt in your mouth.

Reid's Uncle Brent recommended this wonderful restaurant he'd been to a few years ago.  Unfortunately, it was no longer  there so we had tapas at a nearby restaurant.  Tomato bread, salmon ceviche, and artichoke with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts.

Espresso and wonderful mini pastries and cookies.

Macaron with chocolate sauce and creme brulee gelato

Post beach swim lunch: sardines with french fries

Monday, May 27, 2013

Stuffed Green Bell Peppers

I really liked the stuffed acorn squash I'd made in the fall, and thought I'd do a riff on it with bell peppers.  More season appropriate. Instead of chorizo, I used Italian sausage. It was really pretty and turned out really yummy. Too bad Reid worked late the night I made them. I got to eat it while watching some "Mindy Project". Reid got leftovers a few nights later and still thought it was good.

Stuffed Bell Peppers
Ingredients
4 large green bell peppers
1/2 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
1/4 medium onion, chopped
1 c. bulgar wheat, cooked
1/4 c. chopped Italian/flat leaf parsley
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese or Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1. Over medium high heat, cook onions and Italian sausage in large skillet until no longer pink.  
2. In a large bowl, combine sausage and onions, bulgar, parsley, cheese, salt and pepper.
3. Cut the tops of each bell pepper off and remove seeds and membrane. 
4. Spoon sausage mixture into each bell pepper. Place in medium pan.  Sprinkle a little cheese over each bell pepper. 
5.  Bake at 350*C until warmed through and cheese melted, about 15-20 ,minutes. 



Saturday, May 18, 2013

Spinach Quiche

Last weekend I had my bachelorette weekend in Vegas and it was so fun. I think the best part was being able to see so many of my girl friends who live all over. My old roommate, Allegra, wrote me a card about some of the good times we had when we lived together and one of the things she mentioned was when I threw together a quiche with our leftovers. I had totally forgotten about that and it was such a sweet memory to remember. Anyway, it made me crave quiche and so I made this for lunch after work today. I don't know if it was because I was so hungry or because of some of the tweaks I made to my recipe, but it came out so pretty and yummy!  Also, if you want to make this quiche extra delicious, make Tartine's homemade pie crust**.  Reid will literally just eat the pie crust, it's so good!  It makes 2 pie crusts, so you can freeze one of them to make quiche another day.

Spinach Quiche

Ingredients:
1 c milk with 2 tsp Greek yogurt mixed in, allow to set at room temp for 15 min*
4 eggs
2 tbs flour
1/2 c light mayonnaise
8 oz shredded Swiss cheese
1 package pre-washed spinach
1/2 chopped small onion
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 pie shell**

1) Lightly flour 8" pie pan before placing pie dough in.
2) Sauté onions and spinach in large pan over med-high heat until spinach wilted.
3) Whisk together milk and yogurt, eggs, flour, and mayo in a large bowl.
4) Add remaining ingredients. Pour into pie crust.
5) Bake at 350* F for 45min to 1hr or until golden brown

*this is my shortcut for making creme fresh. The original recipe uses 1c half and half. I like it better this way and I feel less guilty about my calorie intake.

Adapted from Food Network Quick Quiche http://shar.es/ZcSDJ

**Pie crust recipe I use can be found at: http://www.alexandracooks.com/2009/08/17/quiche-perfected-homemade-creme-fraiche-a-little-trip-to-tartine-bouchon-napa/





Friday, May 10, 2013

Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce.

We've been trying to have "Meatless Mondays" to cut down on how much meat we usually eat.  Nothing too crazy, just one day a week when we try to eat vegetarian.  It doesn't seem hard, but we're pretty bad at remembering.  My parents did something similar before my dad when totally vegetarian.  I know I won't be able to do that because I am not as amazing and creative of a cook as my mom, but I'll try.  My sister and her husband have been doing this too, so I thought we could give it a try.  One of the recipes I've made several "Meatless Mondays" is this simple tofu with soy sauce recipe.  It's easy to have a block of tofu on hand, and this prep is not too difficult.  Even though I work a little later on Mondays, I can still have dinner ready by 7:00pm when I throw this quick one together.  Plus, I get to use some of the green onions we've got growing in our raised vegetable/herb gardens (thank you, previous tenant).

Another plus of this recipe is that it's tofu at it's best.  Pretty unadulterated.  Just warmed up and covered with a delicious umami-ish sauce.  I got a mortar and pestel for Christmas from Reid's aunt and uncle which is great for making the garlic paste.  Otherwise, I'd probably just throw it in the food processor.





Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce



  • 1 (14-to 18-ounces) package firm tofu (the original recipe uses soft, but Reid and I have trouble with that not falling apart en route to our mouths)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallion
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted and crushed with side of a heavy knife (I purchase toasted sesame seeds from the Korean grocery store)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • Directions:

    1. Place tofu block in a medium pot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then keep warm, covered, over very low heat.
    2. Meanwhile, mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. Stir together with remaining ingredients.
    3. Just before serving, carefully lift tofu from saucepan with a large spatula and drain on paper towels. Gently pat dry, then transfer to a small plate. Spoon some sauce over tofu and serve warm. Serve remaining sauce on the side.  
    4. Enjoy with white rice!



    Recipe adapted from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Warm-Tofu-with-Spicy-Garlic-Sauce-351871#ixzz2SuJs1RoB

    Friday, May 3, 2013

    Smoky Man n' Cheese


    Made this mac n' cheese this week for dinner.  Let me tell you, I have probably tried 80 million recipes for homemade mac n' cheese! Most times, I'm a little disappointed that they don't seem to taste any better than the blue box versions that only take 15 minutes to make.  I've tried all sorts of mac n' cheese recipes that range from baked bread crumb topped, with expensive cheeses, having to make a beschemel, to truffle oil mac n' cheese.  I love a nice creamy, cheesy, mac n' cheese.  And this recipe hit the spot.  And since it's 'smoky' it adds just another layer of tastiness.  I think having the Savory Smoky Hills Cheese Powder helps a lot.  Savory Spice Shop is a little spice shop that we found out about two Christmas' ago.  One of Reid's uncles friends owns one of the shops in downtown Austin.  It's an artisinal spice shop, which is awesome.  Reid got a set of BBQ spice rubs for Christmas once and I still use them every once in a while.  When we checked out the store, I purchased this cheese powder to top popcorn with.  Used it all in a year, and came back for more, which is when I found out about this recipe.  I guess I love those cheese powders when it comes to mac n' cheese!  Maybe that's the key to creaminess...

    Smoky Hills Mac’n Cheese

    Yields: 4 servings

    Ingredients:
    8 oz. elbow pasta
    1/4 tsp. yellow mustard powder
    2 Tbsp. butter

    1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
    slice creamy cheese (Swiss or Laughing Cow)
    1/2 Tbsp. smoked sweet Spanish paprika
    2 Tbsp. shredded Grana Padano
    1 x 8oz can evaporated milk*+ 1 tbs milk**
    3 Tbsp. Savory Spice Shop Smoky Hills Cheese Powder
    2 tsp. flour
    Pinch salt
    Dash pepper

    Notes:
    *You can make your own evaporated milk by heating 16 ounces of 2% milk over low heat. Do not boil, but simmer slowly until it reduces down to about a 1/3 of its original amount.
    **Taste the cheese sauce and add more milk depending on your preference for a creamier sauce

    Directions:
    Cook pasta according to directions on package. In a small bowl, combine mustard powder, paprika, flour and nutmeg. Set aside. In a saucepan over medium/low heat, warm evaporated milk. Once warm, slowly whisk dry mixture into milk to prevent any clumps. Slowly incorporate cheese powders into the saucepan, whisking to prevent lumps. Add butter and chopped cheese and stir until melted. Drain pasta and thoroughly mix into cheese mixture. Heat through and serve.

    Yields: 4 servings
    Recipe modified from Savory Spice Shop: Stephanie Bullen, Savory Franchise Team employee

    Carrot Cupcakes


    We've gotten TONS of wedding gifts recently.  I'm trying not to use any of the gifts until I write Thank You's, just as an incentive to get those done in a timely manner, but some gifts just can't wait.  Like the KitchenAid Stand Mixer from Reid's Mom.  It was so pretty, I had to use it right away.  This is what I whipped up with it.  These made the house smell so good, that Reid ate one before they were cool enough for frosting.  The cream cheese frosting is really great, too!  I cut back on the original recipe's butter a little and didn't even notice.  Reid and I ate about 4 ourselves for dessert, and I brought the rest to work where they were quickly annihilated.


    Carrot Cupcakes

    Ingredients

    • For the cupcakes:
    • 1 cup pecans
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon table salt or fine sea salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup canola oil
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 cups grated carrots (about 6 medium sized carrots)

    • For the frosting:
    • 8 ounces bar cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • pinch table salt or fine sea salt
    • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

    Directions

    1. To make the cupcakes: Heat oven to 350° F. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven, tossing once, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minute

      s. Let cool, then roughly chop.
    2. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg in a large bowl; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, oil, and egg; fold in the carrots and ½ cup of the pecans. Add the carrot mixture to the flour mixture and mix until just combined and evenly moistened (do not overmix).
    3. Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake, rotating once, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool slightly in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
    4. To make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth. Refrigerate the frosting until slightly stiffened, 20 to 30 minutes. Frost the cupcakes, dividing the frosting evenly, and top with the remaining ½ cup of pecans.
    Carrot Cupcakes
    Noms! I promise they don't look this red, I was playing with filters
    Recipe adapted from Real Simple April issue 2013

    Thursday, May 2, 2013

    Pad Thai

    We love Pad Thai.  Reid's always telling me we should try making it at home, but I know it's not easy.  My sister has told me how not easy it is to make.  And she was right! It's difficult to keep the noodles from getting mushy, or to balance that perfect median of sweet, spicy, salty, and sour.  I also learned that traditional pad thai is much lighter, drier, and sweeter/sour than the restaurant variety.  Also, these ingredients are hard to come by.  I spent an hour at our Asian grocery store trying to find the tamarind sauce!

    Pad Thai
    Recipe from http://www.thaitable.com/thai/recipe/pad-thai

    2-3 Servings, Prep Time: 40 Minutes, Total Time: 40 Minutes

    1-1/3 cup bean sprouts Optional
    1-1/2 cup Chinese chives Optional
    1 egg
    4 teaspoons fish sauce
    3 cloves minced garlic
    1/2 teaspoon ground dried chili pepper
    ground pepper
    1/2 lime
    2 tablespoons roasted chopped peanuts Optional
    1 tablespoon preserved turnip Optional
    1 minced shallots
    1/2-1/4 lb shrimp Optional
    2 tablespoon sugar
    2 tablespoons tamarind paste
    1/2 package Thai rice noodles
    1/3 cup extra firm tofu
    1/2 lb chicken breast, cut into 1/2" cubes
    2 tablespoon cooking oil

    Prepping
    1. Prepare noodles according to package directions.  This usually involves soaking the noodles in hot water. Getting the noodles just right is the trickiest part of making Pad Thai. Make sure that the noodles are submerged in plenty of water.  By the time you are ready to put ingredients in the pan, the noodles should be flexible but not mushy. Dice tofu and cut into 1 inch long rectangles. When cut, the super firm tofu/pressed tofu should have a mozzarella cheese consistency. You can fry the tofu separately until golden brown and hard, or you can fry with other ingredients below. 
    2. Stir fry chicken in a little oil until browned around all edges
    3. Cut the Chinese chives into 1 inch long pieces. Set aside a few fresh chives for a garnish. Rinse the bean sprouts and save half for serving fresh. Mince shallot and garlic together.

    Cooking
    1. Use a wok. Heat it up on high heat and pour oil in the wok.  Add shallot, preserved turnip, garlic and tofu and stir them until they start to brown.
    2. Drain the noodles and add to the wok. Stir quickly to keep things from sticking. Add tamarind, sugar, fish sauce and chili pepper. Stir. The heat should remain high. If your wok is not hot enough, you will see a lot of juice in the wok at this point. Turn up the heat, if it is the case
    3. Make room for the egg by pushing all noodles to the side of the wok. Crack the egg onto the wok and scramble it until it is almost all cooked. Fold the egg into the noodles. The noodles should soft and chewy. 
    4. When you get the right taste, add chicken and stir. Sprinkle white pepper around. Add bean sprouts and chives. Stir a few more times. The noodles should be soft, dry and very tangled.
    5. Pour onto the serving plate and sprinkle with ground pepper and peanuts. Serve with a wedge of lime on the side, raw Chinese chives and raw bean sprouts on top.
    Reid and I added in about a tbs of hoisin sauce and some Sirachi sauce or garlic chili sauce to get that salty ummami taste we're used to having with restaurant-style pad thai



    Sunday, April 28, 2013

    Austin Food & Wine Festival

    I spent my Sunday volunteering at the Austin Food & Wine Festival.  Since it was a weekend-long event, and I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the entire span of it if I'd bought tickets due to work, I decided to volunteer on my day off.  It was a really enjoyable experience.  I got to watch a few cooking demos and eat great food/sample yummy wines.  Here are a few pics I took while there.
    Roasting Pigs

    
    
    Cooking demo by Marcus Samuelsson

    
    Marcus Samuelsson Up Close
    I don't know why this photo keeps uploading sideways ;P





    Tidbits I learned:
    1. The reason unsalted butter>salted butter is because salt acts as a preservative so usually unsalted butter is fresher than salted.  (I had always used unsalted because it was easier to control salt levels myself, plus, I like having one butter in the fridge for both cooking and baking) 
    2. Save shrimp shells for making a really flavorful, layered ramen broth
    3. Gewurztraminer wines pair really well with spicy foods.