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March 2015
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The Slope

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The Slope boasts a nice blend of bitter and sweet and I used my own brandied cherries for garnish. (recipe coming soon!)

from: Craft Cocktails
makes: 1 cocktail

2 dashes angostura bitters
1/4 ounce apricot brandy
1 ounce Punt e Mes sweet vermouth
2 ounces Rittenhouse Rye
garnish- brandy-soaked cherries

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Place all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add large ice cubes and stir thoroughly. Taste for balance. Single-strain into a martini glass, taking care not to aerate. Garnish with speared brandied-cherries and serve.

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Roasted Ginger Salmon with Pomegranate Salsa

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This gorgeous salmon was a breath of fresh air in a kitchen (and for a cook) that is weary of cooking heavy winter foods. David and I just got back from a week’s vacation in Florida and we were missing the fresh fish and seafood, so this salmon recipe caught my eye. The pomegranate olive mint salsa was so delicious I could have eaten the whole bowl’s worth as a salad. The jewel-like pomegranate seeds bright against the green herbs and fennel made this dish almost too pretty to eat. The chopped olives added a bit of salty brine that brought it all together, but you know I love olives! I let the salmon and salsa be the star of the show and served it alongside brown rice simply seasoned with salt and pepper.

tip-If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, they sell pomegranate seeds in their refrigerated produce department. This was a great discovery for me, as I love pomegranate seeds in salads, fruit salsas, and my morning yogurt.

from: The Healthy Mind Cookbook
serves: 4

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zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 (6 oz.) salmon fillets, pinbones removed, and skin removed if desired
sea salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup pomegranate olive mint salsa

Pomegranate Olive Mint Salsa

1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped mint
1/2 cup kalamata or green olives, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped fennel
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
2 scallions, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of sea salt

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In a small bowl, whisk together citrus zest and juices, olive oil, ginger, and cayenne. Place salmon in an 8 inch square www.tbaking dish; season each piece with a pinch of salt. pour half of the marinade over the salmon; turn to coat well. Cover baking dish and marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 400 F.

Combine all of the salsa ingredients in a bowl and stir gently to combine. Cover and let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.

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Remove salmon from the refrigerator, uncover, and add 2 tablespoons of water to the dish. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until tender and opaque and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the fillet registers 120 F.

While salmon is cooking, combine reserved marinade and mustard in a small saucepan over medium heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Pour over fillets. Spoon 1/4 cup of the salsa over each fillet; serve immediately.

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Kale and Chorizo Soup

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Want to know what meal I made the most this Fall & Winter? This easy and flavorful soup.

adapted from: Emeril Lagasse
servings: 8

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds chorizo sausage, sliced in 1/2-inch slices*

1 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 large white potatoes, peeled and diced
3 quarts of chicken stock
4 cups kale, rinsed, stemmed, and cut into 1-inch strips
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch of crushed red pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
6 tablespoons chiffonade of fresh mint
Small loaf of crusty bread

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Raspberry Streusel Bars

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These raspberry bars are pretty amazing. David said they are the best dessert bars he’s ever had, and they just so happen to be gluten-free. Fresh raspberries mixed with raspberry jam makes a yummy fruit center, and the streusel topping is buttery, nutty deliciousness.

from: The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook
makes: 16 bars

6 ounces (1 1/3 cup) Gluten-Free Flour Blend
2 1/3 ounces (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup pecans, chopped fine
1/4 cup gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats
6 ounces (1/2 cup) raspberry preserves
2 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) fresh raspberries
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

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Gluten-Free Flour Blend

Have hope, gluten-free eaters! Gluten-free foods CAN be delicious. I have proof. I will be honest, I have tried many a gluten-free recipe only to be very disheartened with the final result. Waffles that taste like cardboard and feel as heavy as a brick? Check. Pizza dough that looks like it belongs in a horror movie? Yep. Flat cookies? Gummy cake? No more. I think I have found the secret to gluten-free baked goods that you would actually love to eat-a reliable gluten-free flour blend from a very reliable source. America’s Test Kitchen. I have 3 of their cookbooks, and can say that I don’t think I have ever made a recipe from them that hasn’t been great. Even if it was a dish that I didn’t think was delicious enough to make again, the directions for perfect execution were always spot on. I have recently discovered How Can It Be Gluten Free from America’s Test Kitchen. I allowed myself to hope when I received this book because I knew ATK tests and retests their recipes until they are perfect. The clincher for me? Delicious, darkly golden Belgian waffles with a crispy exterior and perfectly light interior. I freely admit I am a waffle snob and I would put these GF waffles up against any other waffle. I have also made baked items like banana bread and raspberry bars (coming tomorrow!) that were delicious. David raved about the raspberry bars for days. I’m not going to go into detail about gluten-free lifestyles, but for me, going the past month or more without wheat has changed my life for the better in many ways I wasn’t even expecting. If you follow a GF diet or would just like to try a recipe now and then, I highly recommend this cookbook. I will be making many recipes from it, so keep checking back. (For my non GF readers, don’t fret, I will still be posting regular desserts as well.)

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New Orleans Red Beans and Rice with Pickled Peppers & Southern Cornbread

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Mom, this one’s for you! Beans & Rice are pretty great for many reasons. 1. They are simple to make. 2. They are inexpensive to make. 3. They are a great way to sneak in leftover things from the fridge. 4. They are hearty & filling. 5. They give you an excuse to make cornbread. Beans & Rice are one of my mom’s favorite things to eat, and I think she would love these! The bacon gives the beans a warm, smoky flavor, and the pickled jalapenos and peppadews bring out a piquant flavor that keeps the dish from being too one-dimensional, like many bean dishes can be. If you prep everything first, (I always prep 1st! It makes everything so much easier and seamless once you start cooking) this meal really only takes about 20 minutes to make. I served this over red rice, but any rice would be fine. White, brown, even a medley (I love Lundberg Wild Blend). And of course, cornbread. What are beans & rice without cornbread? (See bottom of post for my favorite Southern cornbread recipe)

adapted from: Food + Wine
serves: 4

4 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pickled jalapeño (or 8-10 rounds), finely chopped (the more the merrier, to me), plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped Peppadew peppers, plus more for garnish
two 15-ounce cans red kidney beans
1 cup chicken broth or stock
salt
freshly ground black pepper
steamed rice, for serving

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In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.

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Add the onion,  garlic, pickled jalapeño and 1/4 cup of Peppadews and cook, stirring, until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Make sure to bend down and smell this-it smells amazing.

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Add the beans with their liquid and the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 8 minutes. Season the beans with salt and pepper to taste.

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Ladle the beans over a mound of warm rice. Garnish with more Peppadews and jalapenos and serve immediately.

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Southern Cornbread

adapted from: The New Best Recipe
makes: 8 triangles of cornbread

4 teaspoons bacon drippings, or 1 teaspoon vegetable oil plus 1 tablespoon butter
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup rapidly boiling water
3/4 cup buttermilk (or just add a little squeeze of lemon or 1/2 teaspoon vinegar to whole milk and let sit a bit)
1 large egg, beaten lightly
chopped pickled or fresh jalapeño to taste (optional)

Adjust an oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 F.

Set an 8 inch cast iron skillet in the heating oven.

Measure 1/3 cup of the cornmeal into a medium bowl. Whisk the remaining 2/3 cup cornmeal, the sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Pour the boiling water into the 1/3 cup cornmeal; stir to make a stiff mush. Whisk in the buttermilk gradually, breaking up lumps, until smooth, then whisk in the egg and the chopped jalapeño (if using).  When the oven is preheated, stir the dry ingredients into the mush mixture until just moistened. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and pour the fat (either the bacon drippings or the oil and butter) into the skillet. Swirl skillet to evenly coat the bottom, then quickly pour the batter into the skillet.

Bake until the bread is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then serve immediately.

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Almond Paste Dates

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This quick and easy after dinner treat would make a nice addition to an Oscar party spread (yes the Academy Awards are tonight!). Almond paste stuffed dates may be simple but will delight your senses after one luxurious bite. Dates have a nice caramel-like taste that pairs very well with the orange flower water scented almond paste. I recommend using Medjool dates which are plumper and softer than the more common variety, Deglet Noor, although those would definitely work as well.  This Middle Eastern fruit has been enjoyed for thousands of years and is to me the perfect, all-natural dessert. Happy Oscar Night! (break a leg Whiplash, my fingers are crossed for you!)

from: One Good Dish
makes: 12 dates

1/2 cup blanched whole, raw, natural almonds *(see note)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, plus a pinch
1 tablespoon orange flower water
1 tablespoon Demerara sugar or coarse raw sugar
12 large dates

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