Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pesce con Pomodoro Burro (Fish with Tomato Butter) - Simple Saturday

Here's a quick, fresh idea for dinner tonight! This is so simple, yet you will be spinning from all the compliments about what an amazing cook you are and how good the food tastes!
Pesce con Pomodoro Burro(Fish with Tomato Butter)
For our dinner, I used a nice Red Snapper because it was fresh and local, but any solid fish fillet will do: Tilapia, Flounder, Halibut - whatever is sustainable and fresh for you.
On the bottom of a deep-sided baking dish, sprinkle a few slices of onion, a few cut up olives, a heavy drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. On top of that, lay a nice size fish fillet that has been seasoned with salt and pepper and a drizzle of Olive oil. On top of the fish, lay a few slices of lemon.

Cook in a preheated 350F oven for about 20 minutes.

While the fish is cooking, mix about 2 tbls of softened butter with 2 tbls. of tomato paste.
Remove the fish from the oven after 20 minutes and brush the Tomato Butter all over the fish.
Return the fish to the oven and cook for about 8 minutes more for the butter to caramelize and help create a buttery sauce for the fish. Remove and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Serve the fish with the sauce from the pan. It's healthy, fast, fresh and looks a lot more complicated than it is; as they applaud, just smile and nod.

Friday, August 27, 2010

More Chocolate and Ice Cream, Please - Daring Bakers August 2010

I know. More chocolate and ice cream? Well, yeah. Can there BE too much chocolate and ice cream?
Chocolate Glazed Limoncello Ice Cream Petit Fours
The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

This month I have been home for about 8 days out of 30, so this Daring Baker's challenge kinda snuck up on me. Oh, waaa waaa, I had to make cake and ice cream - may all my problems be like this!
The cake used in the Petite Four was a Brown Butter Pound cake (I know, right?) and it took a lot to not just eat the pan of the nutty-buttery smelling pound of heaven, before even finishing this project. I definitely recommend giving this recipe a whirl. Also, check out all the recipes and other pics at the Daring Kitchen right here.
I chose to add the Limoncello Ice Cream to this as a "Ciao" to my friend, Erika, who is studying in Perugia right now and LOVES all things lemon with chocolate. She swears there used to be a lollipop that was lemon with the chocolate center, but no one else agrees. Do you remember one like that?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ice Cream Bon Bons - Simple Saturday

Hi, My name is Cathy and I'm a Chocoholic.
As if Ice Cream needed any help, this weekend I dipped Ice Cream balls into the classic home-made Chocolate Shell just to make them kinda ...fancy. Making this crisp, light chocolate covering is so darn easy, how could I resist? Remember the bottled Magic Shell, the chocolate syrup that turns into a candy coating with a snap when it hits anything cold (like ice cream)? That's the way this recipe works, but without any wax or paraffin or secret ingredients, in fact it takes just 2 things: Chocolate and Coconut Oil.
A friend of mine told me about this combo and she used 2 parts chocolate to 1 part coconut oil and it worked great.

1) First thing to do: Scoop your favorite ice cream into small bon-bon size balls and place them on a parchment covered baking pan, then back into the freezer to hold while you melt the chocolate and coconut oil.

2) In a double boiler (or saucepan over another saucepan of simmering water) melt 2 cups of Chopped pieces of good quality chocolate with 1 cup of Coconut oil. Stir together well and remove from heat to cool down. (Don't worry, it remains in a light liquid form at room temperature.)

3) Once it has cooled down a bit: drizzle over ice cream, or dip ice cream balls into the syrup to make Bon Bons.

As you dip the ice cream balls into the coating, replace them on the parchment paper and watch the "magic" as they immediately turn into thin chocolate covered fancy bon-bons. Return the pan to the freezer and keep until ready to serve to your admiring guests. Optionally, you can double-dip for a firmer and more evenly coated presentation.
Ice Cream Bon Bons with a light crisp chocolate shell. Out of the freezer and into my mouth!

Putting the Chocolate Shell liquid into a squeeze bottle creates an easy way to keep it, and to drizzle it on a bowl of ice cream later. Let me know if you try this. Do you know any other home-made recipes for store bought goodies?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cowboy Tomato Jam

Cowboy Tomato Jam
Ahhh, tomatoes. Is there a vegetable/fruit that tastes more like summer than a vine ripened tomato? On my Grandparent's farm, we kids would pick a tomato, lick the outside, then dip it into a palm full of Morton Salt. Then we'd take a slurpy bite out of the sun-heated tomato as if we were eating an apple. You would never want to do that to a winterized grocery store chain tomato, but there is nothing sweeter than a farm grown, garden grown, patio grown summer variety.
It's hard to believe, the tomato used to be thought of as poison many centuries ago. Then, it was grown as only ornamental garden decor, and finally - some brave people realized they were passing up a great BLT sandwich. I re-created that sandwich with Smokey Tea Tomato jam last summer right here.

When tomatoes were first brought to Italy, it's thought they were probably the yellow ones as the Italians and Spanish named it Pomi d'oro (now known as Pomodoro) meaning "apple of yellow/gold). The French (not too surprising) called them Pommes d'amour (apples of love) because they thought the tomatoes were aphrodisiacs. But, don't the French think air is aphrodisiac, too? Love that about the French!

So, this month's canning challenge for Tigress Can/Jam was the glorious TOMATO; chosen by Julia of What Julia Ate.
Here's my adaptation of a recipe from the Minimalist for Tomato Jam:


1 lb. Garden fresh tomatoes (peeled, cored and chopped)
12 oz. sugar
1 lime (juice and zest)
1 Tbls. fresh ginger zested
1 whole Jalapeno (minced)
1 tsp each: cumin, black pepper and cinnamon
1 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in a deep saucepan. Cook on low until the sugar dissolves, stirring often.
Bring to a boil on Med., continue to stir, for several minutes.
Increase heat and boil until temp reaches 220F or check for jam set with a chilled plate (a dollop should have a little rise to it, and leave a space when you drag your finger through it).

Fill sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace for food expansion. Seal immediately, and hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove, carefully, and leave for 12-24 hours without moving. Label and store in a cool, dry place.

If you are new to canning, be sure to read over the correct process. Otherwise, you can make this jam, pour into containers, leave to cool, then refrigerate for consuming. Yipee, Cowboys and Cowgirls - this jam has a little bite back!

Friday, August 13, 2010

You Say Pierogi, I say Piroshki - Daring Cooks Aug. 2010

You say Pierogi and I say Piroshki.... It seems to depend on how you were introduced to these dumplings that are filled with savory or sweetness and either boiled or baked.

The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

I really enjoyed learning a little about these delicious buns of goodness, and if you have a personal story about your family and Pierogi or Piroshki, I'd love to hear it.
For me, it's all about my husband's family. His dad and Aunt F. have Russian heritage from their mom.

One of my first holidays spent with my husband's family included watching his aunt and mom on center kitchen stage as they rolled out dough, simmered beef and onions with spices, wrapped up the filling and rolled out the "Pidus'ki" (spelled the way they pronounce it). My father-in-law and my husband can put about 6-8 of these puffy buns away in one sitting.
Since the Daring Cook's Challenge introduced the boiled Pierogi, I made both. Hey, you know me - never just one thing at a time.

First: Here's the Daring Cook's Recipe for Pierogi -

Russian style pierogi (makes 4 generous servings, around 30 dumplings)
(Traditional Polish recipe, although each family will have their own version, this is Anula's family recipe)

2 to 2 1/2 cups (300 to 375 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
About 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water

Filling: (I made Spinach and Potatoes with Ricotta Cheese)

3 big potatoes, cooked & mashed (1 1/2 cup instant or leftover mashed potatoes is fine too)
1 cup (225 g) cottage cheese, drained
1 onion, diced & sauteed in butter until clear
3 slices of streaky bacon, diced and fried till crispy (you can add more bacon if you like or omit that part completely if you’re vegetarian)
1 egg yolk (from medium egg)
1 tablespoon (15 g) butter, melted
1/4 (1.25 ml) teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients for the filling (it’s best to use one’s hands to do that) put into the bowl, cover and set aside in the fridge until you have to use it.

2. Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center. Break the egg into it, add the salt and a little lukewarm at a time (in my situation 1/2 cup was enough). Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Cover the dough with a bowl or towel. You’re aiming for soft dough. Let it rest 20 minutes.

3. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out thinly (1/8” or about 3 millimeters) cut with a 2-inch (5 cm) round or glass (personally I used 4-inch/10 cm cutter as it makes nice size pierogi - this way I got around 30 of them and 1 full, heaped teaspoon of filling is perfect for that size). Spoon a portion (teaspoon will be the best) of the filling into the middle of each circle. Fold dough in half and pinch edges together. Gather scraps, re-roll and fill. Repeat with remaining dough.

4. Bring a large, low saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop in the pierogi, not too many, only single layer in the pan! Return to the boil and reduce heat. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more ( usually about 5 minutes). Remove one dumpling with a slotted spoon and taste if ready. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogi from the water.

5. Serve immediately preferably with creme fraiche or fry. Cold pierogi can be fried. Boiled Russian pierogi can be easily frozen and boiled taken out straight from the freezer.

AND NOW: Piroshki!

I recommend both of these as they are very simple and have tons of options. Although, if you make the Piroshki - at least take a moment and think about how you were given a recipe that has been passed down from several generations of proud and talented Russian cooks.

RECIPE: Piroshki (as told by Aunt F.)
1 pkg. dry yeast

1 1/3 cup milk

2 T. sugar
1/2 c. butter

1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs (beaten)
4 cups flour

Meat Filling:

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef

1 onion chopped very fine

1 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste

Saute onion in a bit of olive oil until soft (I caramelized these)

Remove from pan.

Add ground beef to pan and brown
Drain well and return to pan
Add onion and seasoning (I added a little crushed red pepper) and mix well.

Let cool while making dough


Scald milk, add butter and let cool about 5 minutes.

Add yeast and sugar to milk mixture

Place flour and salt into large mixing bowl.
Add beaten eggs and milk mixture.
Beat vigorously with wooden spoon until smooth.

Cover with oiled wax paper
Let rise until doubled
Once dough has risen, place onto floured surface and let rest 10 minutes

Dough will be very soft.

Working with half of the dough at a time, roll out to a little less than 1/4 inch using enough flour
to keep the dough from sticking to the surface and rolling pin.
Cut into 4 inch squares

Fill each with about 3 T. of meat filling
Bring opposite corners to center of Piroshki and pinch to seal, creating a bundle.
Place bundle with smooth surface as the top (corners are the underside of the piroshki) onto lightly greased cookie sheet.
Let rise until double in size Bake 20 minutes at 375 F.

Duo of Melon Fresca w/Blackberry Granita - Miraval - Lets Lunch

Duo of Melon w/Blackberry Granita

Usually when I think of dessert the word chocolate is involved. A former chef/boss told me not to even bother with desserts that had fruit in them because Americans wouldn't call it dessert. This Duo Melon changed my mind, maybe it will yours, too.
Last year I was part of a wonderful blogging idea called Let'sLunch, that spanned the globe: several of us posted lunch time recipes at the same time. Today, we are continuing that fun by posting chilled dessert ideas. My Mid-Day food-fun includes recipes and posts from: Cowgirl Chef, and Tiger In The Kitchen, GeoFooding, Bon Vivant and others.

As it turned out, the chilled dessert theme gave me a great opportunity to also talk about my trip to Miraval. A few weeks ago, my daughter and I took a kind of "Mamma Mia" trip to a resort in Arizona where we experienced yoga classes, photography classes...
...and chances to learn from a health conscious chef.
Chef Chad Luethje
At the Miraval Resort I not only had the pleasure of eating flavorful and nutritious, yet luxurious tasting chilled desserts, I also got to keep the recipes. Here are a few pictures of my rendition of the Duo Melon w/Blackberry Granita and the inspiring Miraval Resort.

Miraval is set in the Arizona desert, but feels like an oasis of self growth, food and meditation surrounded by unpretentious and supportive teachers and staff.

As a guest, you have free reign to sign-up for any of the various classes they have organized, participate in Chef's tastings, or just relax with a walk through the labyrinth.
I was completely enthralled with the local, fresh and simple ingredients the chefs served to us in our 3 meals a day. My duo of Melons with Blackberry Granita is a perfect way to add fresh fruit into your day.

RECIPE: (adapted from Miraval, Arizona)
1 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 honey dew Peeled, seeded and chopped
1 T. fresh mint, minced
1/4 cup pineapple, minced
1/4 cup fresh strawberries, minced
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
1 recipe Backberry Granita

Chop melons into large chunks and puree each melon separately in blender with fresh mint. Place in two separate containers. Add minced fruit to bowl or glass. Pour both purees into the bowl or glass at the same time. Garnish with fresh mint and granita.

BlackBerry Granita:

1 cup Blackberry Puree
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
3 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice

In a medium saucepan over med. heat bring the water and sugar to boil. Remove this from the heat and add the black berry puree. Add lime juice and stir well. Pour into 2" deep baking dish and freeze. Once the granita starts to set up, fluff with a fork every 15-30 minutes .

Thursday, August 5, 2010

BanaNutella Pudding - The South and Italy unite!

It seems that many Southern classics are being tweaked and showing up on the menus of very swanky restaurants. So, if they're going to play around with history, then I'll play around with geography; Italy meets North Carolina with this one.
BanaNutella Pudding
Banana Pudding is one of those sweet, creamy, cookie filled southern-born treats that is so darn good, I've eaten it for breakfast by convincing myself it was one of my daily fruit servings. I don't remember a single Church Pot Luck that didn't have several versions of Banana Pudding. It might be the quick and easy: Box of Instant Pudding and a bag of Nabisco Wafers dumped together and given a swirl with Dream Whip. It might be the Cook-it-slow and full home-made pudding, with a dash of brandy and home-made sugar cookies with sliced up bananas. Honestly, both have their my tummy.
I've combined my love for Nutella with my memories of Sunday night desserts for this recipe. It looks only half as good as it tastes, and it tastes...or it tasted (it was gone within 30 minutes) like a whipped chocolate coated banana hug. You know what I mean. Enjoy and Baci!

RECIPE: BanaNutella Pudding (showfood chef)

3 cups milk (plus 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk and 1 egg white
2/3 cup sugar
3 Tbls. butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 box of Vanilla Wafers (or small sugar cookies)
3 Bananas (peeled and sliced in 1/4" rounds)

1) Add the milk and cornstarch in a saucepan on low/med heat. Stir while heating just to simmer. Remove from heat.
2) In a bowl, beat the eggs and the egg yolk with the sugar until light and frothy.
3) Temper the eggs into the warm milk, return the saucepan to the heat and continue stirring while cooking on low/med. until thickened.
4) Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Hold to the side.
5) In a bowl, whip the Nutella and the 1/3 cup milk until creamy, then stir this into the pudding. Let cool to room temp.
6) In another bowl, whip the egg white with 1 Tbls. sugar til firm peaks hold.

In a loaf pan or an 8x8 pan, place a bottom layer of Vanilla wafers, followed by a layer of sliced bananas, followed by a layer of the pudding. Repeat to the top, finishing with pudding.

Spread the egg white meringue over the top evenly, heat in a preheated 350F oven for about 15 minutes or until the tops of the meringue peaks are toasted.
Can be served warm, chilled or room temp.