Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup

I swear, my husband is the best ever when I'm not feeling well. I called him from work to tell him that I was going home early because I had a nasty cold. He told me to pick up chicken, soup veggies, noodles and chicken stock on my way home so he could make homemade chicken noodle soup. It was AWESOME. He makes this stuff from scratch, with no recipe, and is very methodical about it - it takes him hours...and it really does have healing powers!

I asked him if he could write this latest chicken noodle soup recipe, and this is what he came up with:

Chicken Noodle Soup
Dino Covelli

Notes: I try to avoid cooking with MSG, especially when someone is sick.
That means I don't use bullion. Creating a flavorful soup without
bullion takes a bit of practice. I gave a list of herbs that I
sometimes use, as well as some prefab seasoning mixes that you may
already have in your pantry. Using stock instead of water, cooking
with the chicken bones in, and including a mirepoix really help
develop the familiar chicken soup flavors you're used to.

2 Bone-In Chicken Breasts, or 2 Legs and Thighs
2 Large Carrots, Halved
2 Stalks Celery, Halved
1 Large Onion, Halved
1 Turnip
1 Parsnip
2 32 oz Boxes of Low Sodium Chicken Broth
6 oz Egg Noodles (dumpling style)
1 Handful Sliced Shiitake Mushrooms
Various Dried & Fresh Herbs or Seasoning Mixes

Some suggestions for herbs to add: salt, parsley, sage, thyme, marjoram, savory, coriander, white or black pepper, bay leaf, dill.

Or, some prefab spice blend suggestions: Mrs. Dash Original Blend, McCormick Poultry Seasoning, Morton Nature's Seasons Seasoning Blend, Sylvia's Soulful Seasoned Salt.

1. Put the chicken and halved veggies in a large soup pot and cover with the stock. Heat and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken meat falls off of the bones, skimming off the foam every so often.

2. Take everything out of the pot. Strain the broth. Pick the meat off of the bones and chop the veggies.

3. Season the broth to taste.

4. Bring the broth back up to a boil and drop in the egg noodles. They should cook quickly.

5. Return the chicken and chopped veggies the pot, adding the mushrooms.

6. Stir together, and serve.

Big Flavors Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, August 30, 2010

Stir-Fried Sugar Snap Peas and Cherry Tomatoes

This dish was a recommended in the description of the chicken recipe I made tonight, and it turned out to be the star of the show! It's quick and easy, and the tang from the vinegar is the perfect finish. I'll definitely be making this again and again!

Stir-Fried Sugar Snap Peas and Cherry Tomatoes
Bon Appétit April 1997

yield: Serves 2; can be doubled

2 teaspoons olive oil
6 ounces sugar snap peas, stems and strings removed
10 small cherry tomatoes, stemmed
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Heat oil in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add peas, tomatoes and shallot. Stir-fry until peas are bright green and tomatoes are heated through, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with vinegar and toss to coat. Season with salt an pepper and serve.

MacGourmet Rating: 5 Stars

Chicken Paillards with Radish-Mint Chutney

This recipe was pretty easy to put together, but the flavors weren't anything special. I made the suggested side dishes to go with this dish, and the sugar snap peas were fantastic!

Chicken Paillards with Radish-Mint Chutney
Bon Appétit April 1997

Serves 2; can be doubled

Stir-fried Sugar Snap Peas and Cherry Tomatoes and buttered couscous are great sides. Round out the meal with sugared strawberries and toasted pound cake.

1 garlic clove
1/2 small jalepeño chili
1/4 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
5 medium radishes, trimmed
2 tablespoons walnut pieces

2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves

Preheat broiler. With processor running, drop garlic and chili through feed tube and process until finely chopped. Scrape down sides of work bowl. Add mint and oil blend well, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Transfer 2 tablespoons of mixture to small bowl and reserve. Add radishes and walnuts to mixture in processor. Using on/off turns, process until nuts are finely chopped. Transfer chutney to bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Using rolling pin, pound each chicken piece lightly between sheets of waxed paper to even 1/2-inch thickness. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Spread reserved 2 tablespoons mint mixture over both sides of chicken pieces. Broil chicken until brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

Transfer chicken to plates. Top with chutney and serve.

Big Flavors Rating: 3 Stars

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Creamy Pistachio Pops

This dessert is really different and tasty. The cardamom brightens up the tea flavor, and the pistachios add a nice crunch. It's pretty easy to put together, too. My popsicle mold makes 6, and I was able to save the mixture and make 4 more the next day.

Creamy Pistachio Pops
Aarti Party - Aarti Sequeira

Cook Time: 5 min
Yield: 6 to 8 popsicles

Prep: 10 min
Inactive Prep: 12 hr 0 min
Cook: 5 min
Total: 12 hr 15 min

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
4 Earl Grey tea bags
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
Handful finely chopped pistachios, plus extra for garnish

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring evaporated milk to a simmer until small bubbles form around the circumference of the pot. Meanwhile, snip the tops of the tea bags and add to the milk. Whisk in cardamom. Once the milk is simmering, turn the heat off, cover and let sit and steep for 30 minutes.

Strain the evaporated milk into a large bowl. Whisk in the condensed milk, heavy cream and pistachios. Either pour the mixture into ice pop molds, small bowls or a large bowl. Cover the bowls with a piece of plastic wrap to avoid freezer burn and the formation of a "skin". Pop them into the freezer and freeze overnight.

When you're ready to serve, run the ice pop mold under hot water to loosen it. You can do the same thing for the smaller bowls if you'd like to serve it as a little kulfi half dome. Garnish with more nuts if you like and serve.

Big Flavors Rating: 4 Stars

Massaged Kale Salad

This was the side dish that Aarti made on the first episode of her new show on Food Network. It was very different and tasty. On the show, she said that when you massage the kale, it will start to smell like bananas - and it did! It's a nice, refreshing summer salad, and it was great using kale in the kitchen.

Massaged Kale Salad
Aarti Party - Aarti Sequeira

Recipe courtesy Aarti Sequeira, 2010
Prep Time: 20 min
4 servings

1 bunch kale (black kale is especially good), stalks removed and
discarded, leaves thinly sliced
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons honey
Freshly ground black pepper
1 mango, diced small (about 1 cup)
Small handful toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), about 2 rounded tablespoons

In large serving bowl, add the kale, half of lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a little kosher salt. Massage until the kale starts to soften and wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside while you make the dressing.

In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice with the honey and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stream in the 1/4 cup of oil while whisking until a dressing forms, and you like how it tastes.

Pour the dressing over the kale, and add the mango and pepitas. Toss and serve.

Big Flavors Rating: 3 Stars

Sloppy Bombay Joes

Spoiler alert - if you haven't seen the finale of this season of The Next Food Network Star, don't keep reading! Consider yourself warned! I decided to make all 3 dishes from the winner's first show tonight. The main course was an Indian take on a classic American sandwich. This is a very unique dish, and the flavors really make it unique and wonderful. When I saw Aarti make this dish on her show, she said that adding cream to dishes in Indian cooking means that you're cooking it for someone that you care about. It really does add a lovely richness to the sauce. The sweetness from the raisins and the crunch from the pistachios are also welcome additions. This was a great, comforting Sunday dinner! We were rooting for Aarti to win all season, and I can't wait to try more of her wonderful recipes!

Sloppy Bombay Joes
Aarti Party - Aarti Sequeira

Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep: 35 min
Cook: 1 hr 0 min
Total: 1 hr 35 min

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 serrano chile, seeded and finely minced (save the other half for the turkey)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup water

3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Small handful shelled pistachios, about 1/4 cup
Small handful raisins, about 1/4 cup
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 large white onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, seeds and membrane removed, finely diced
1/2 serrano chile, seeds intact (don't chop it up unless you like things spicy!)
Kosher salt
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup half-and-half
Small handful chopped fresh cilantro (soft stems included)
4 to 6 hamburger buns

Begin by making the sauce: Warm the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, until it shimmers. Add the ginger, garlic and serrano pepper. Saute until the ginger and garlic brown a little. Add the garam masala and paprika and saute for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile for the turkey, in large skillet, warm 2 tablespoons of oil. When shimmering, add the pistachios and raisins. Cook until the raisins swell up and the pistachios toast slightly. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Return the pan to medium heat, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of oil, and warm until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for about 10 seconds, or until some of the sizzling subsides. Stir in the onions and bell pepper; saute until softened and starting to brown. Add the serrano pepper. Saute for another couple of minutes, seasoning with a little salt. Stir in the turkey, breaking up the big lumps. Cook until opaque, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, your sauce should be ready. Pour the sauce into the skillet with the turkey. Stir and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

Once the turkey is cooked and the sauce has thickened a little, remove the serrano pepper (unless you want to eat it whole, like my Dad does!). Add the honey, half-and-half, pistachios and raisins. Stir through and taste for seasoning. Before serving, garnish with fresh cilantro.

Toast the buns, fill with the turkey mixture and serve. Eat (with your hands!) and enjoy!

Big Flavors Rating: 4 Stars

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Spicy Roasted Kabocha with Thyme & Rosemary

I wanted to roast the seeds from the kabocha squash after I made that wonderful gratin, so Dino and I thought that a similar spice blend would be good on the seeds. I picked out all of the seeds, rinsed them and put them in a bowl with a healthy drizzle of olive oil, some freshly chopped rosemary and thyme, salt and cayenne pepper. I roasted them at 325°F for about 30 minutes, stirring them after 15. These are spicy and tasty little snacks!

This is what they looked like before I roasted them:

Big Flavors Rating: 4 Stars

Onion and Kabocha Squash Gratin

My mother-in-law gave me a squash that she got from a friend's garden. She couldn't remember what kind it was, but figured I'd put it to good use. When I was at the Farmers' Market, I saw some that looked similar, and figured out that what I had was a kabocha squash. When you cut into it, it smells exactly like a cantaloupe. It's bizarre! The outside skin was dark green, and the inside flesh is bright orange. It's a beautiful squash!

I looked up recipes and came across this post over at Stephen Cooks! This recipe was phenomenal! The onions sweeten the gratin, and the panko (I used only panko, no regular breadcrumbs) add a wonderful crunch to the top. I used rosemary and thyme from my garden, and it was wonderful.

Onion and Kabocha Squash Gratin
Stephen Cooks!

2 lb kabocha (Sweet Mama) squash, peeled and cut in 1/2" chunks
3 T + 1 T butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 C low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 C panko flakes
1/2 C unflavored breadcrumbs
2 T minced fresh herbs (rosemary, oregano or thyme work well)
1/4 C Parmeggiano Reggiano
salt, hot sauce, to taste

Sauté the onions in the 3 tablespoons of butter on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent. Add the squash and cook another five minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and hot sauce.

Spread the squash mixture into a buttered baking dish, pour in the broth and bake, covered, in a preheated 350º oven, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and mix it with the crumbs and panko to moisten. Stir the herbs into the breadcrumb mixture.

Raise the oven temperature to 400º. Spread the breadcrumb mixture over the squash mixture and scatter on the cheese. Bake another 15 - 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crumb crust is starting to brown. Serve immediately.


1. Butternut squash can be substituted for the kabocha.
2. If a richer dish is preferred, substitute 1/2 cup heavy cream for half the broth, and dot the crust with butter before baking.

Big Flavors Rating: 5 Stars

Dill Chicken Paillards with Tomato-Dill Relish

I made this recipe again, because it's one of our favorite, quick meals. It turned out great, as usual!

Fresh Concord Grape Juice

I saw a sign at the Farmers' Market next to these grapes that said they had a "foxy" flavor. It made me laugh, and I figured I should give them a try. I've never eaten this type of grape whole before. They're really good! They have really hard seeds in them though, so be careful! The inside of the grapes is green, and is the texture of jelly. Dino suggested that we juice these grapes, so we did, and we ended up with a very intense grape juice. I ended up thinning it out with a little water so it would be a little more mellow.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Greek Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Feta

We needed to use up some garden veggies, so I put this side salad together. I chopped 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped a cucumber, sliced half a shallot, and added some fresh parsley and basil. I seasoned it with salt & pepper and added some nice extra-virgin olive oil and champagne vinegar, tossed it all together, and topped it with feta. It was great! Garden fresh veggies are the best, and I'm so glad that we have so many friends that like to share their goodies with us!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sea Scallops with Pork Jowl Mushrooms and Red Quinoa with Zucchini

I felt inspired to make something with scallops and quinoa, so I took a trip to Whole Foods and picked them up, along with some zucchini and a package of mixed mushrooms. When I got home from work, Dino showed me a gift that a coworker (and amazing artist) gave us:

Wow. Pork jowl that was smoked to perfection and cut like bacon. It's a new ingredient to us - it's meat from the jaw/neck area, and we've heard raving reviews about it. How could we not use this stuff right away?! So I asked him if he wanted to collaborate on a dish with me. This is what we came up with.

It was my first time cooking quinoa, and it was incredibly easy. 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water, bring to a boil, then cover it and lower the heat until all of the water is absorbed. While that was cooking, I sautéed diced green and yellow zucchini, a few sprigs of thyme and a chopped shallot in some olive oil with salt and pepper. Once they were tender, I put them on a plate until the quinoa was ready, and then I mixed them together.

Dino cut 3 strips of pork jowl into lardons and I sautéed them with another chopped shallot in the same pan I used for the zucchini. Once the pork was getting a lot of color, I added a package of mixed mushrooms (baby bella, shiitake and oyster) and let them cook down. We added a shot of bourbon and let it cook out, and then pushed them off to the side of the pan. I patted the scallops dry and seasoned them lightly with salt and pepper and set them down in the leftover oil and pork fat (it wasn't a lot of fat, maybe a teaspoon total). I seared them and let them cook a few minutes before flipping them to cook the other side. They were really big scallops, but I wanted to make sure that I didn't overcook them. Once they were done, I removed them from the pan and added another shot of bourbon to the mushroom mixture, to deglaze the pan. I finished it off with about a tablespoon of butter, and dinner was ready!

This turned out really tasty. I envisioned it as one dish, but Dino prefers his scallops separate. So we both made our own plates and I took photos of both. Maybe a vote is in order - which way would you prefer to eat this dish?

Big Flavors Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chicken Fajitas

Every once in a while, I get really unmotivated when it comes to making dinner, so it's great when I can convince Dino to make his awesome chicken fajitas again. We had them with refried beans on the side, and it was stellar as always!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Supper Club: Slider Night

Some highlights from this month's Supper Club. Can you guess how many "nice buns" jokes were made that night?

Dino with a platter-o-sliders:

Kale Chips that I'll definitely be making soon:

Delicious Sweet Potato and Beet Chips:

The monster plate with everyone's slider creations:

Oh yes...homemade pizzelles and strawberry ice cream with a generous smear of Nutella:

Yet another awesome event! September is too hectic, so our next event is in October, and the theme is picnic.

Supper Club: Potato Salad

I picked this recipe as our side dish because some friends made it before, and I absolutely loved it. I'm not sure that I found the exact same recipe, because it was really good, but not as good as what I remember. The mustard adds a nice tang to this salad, and the freshness of the dill makes it a very different take on traditional potato salad.

Potato Salad
Ina Garten

Cook Time: 15 min
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep: 10 min
Inactive Prep: 5 min
Cook: 15 min
Total: 30 min

3 pounds small white potatoes
Kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red onion

Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Allow the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, dill, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Set aside.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in quarters or in half, depending on their size. Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl. While the potatoes are still warm, pour enough dressing over them to moisten. Add the celery and red onion, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Big Flavors Rating: 4 Stars

Supper Club: Grilled Turkey Burgers with Cheddar and Smoky Aioli

This month's Supper Club theme was sliders, so each couple made one type of slider and a side dish. One of the members is an amazing breadmaker, so he made all of the bread. It was another great theme! We picked turkey burgers, so I found this recipe. It was nice and pretty easy to put together.

Grilled Turkey Burgers with Cheddar and Smoky Aioli
Bon Appétit August 2009

yield: Makes 4
active time: Prep: 40 min
total time: Total: 40 min

A simple Moroccan-spiced aioli is mixed in with the ground turkey to keep the burgers moist and give them tons of flavor. Smoked paprika is available in the spice aisle of most supermarkets.

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 pound ground dark-meat turkey
4 1/3 -inch-thick red onion slices
1 large or 2 small red bell peppers, quartered
4 slices white cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese
4 sesame-seed hamburger buns
Pickle wedges
Corn chips

Toast cumin seeds and coriander seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until aromatic and slightly darker in color, shaking skillet often, about 1 1/2 minutes. Cool. Finely grind toasted seeds in spice grinder or in mortar with pestle. Whisk mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, smoked paprika, garlic, and ground spices in small bowl. Season aioli to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Aioli can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Place turkey in medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons aioli; mix gently. Using damp hands, divide turkey mixture into 4 equal portions, then form each into scant 3/4-inch thick patty, about 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Using thumb, make small indentation in center of each burger. DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Sprinkle burgers with salt and pepper. Brush onion slices and bell pepper pieces with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill onions and bell peppers until soft and charred, about 4 minutes per side.

Grill turkey burgers 5 minutes. Turn over; grill until almost cooked through, about 4 minutes. Top each burger with 1 cheese slice and grill until meat is cooked through and cheese melts, about 1 minute longer. Place 1 turkey burger on each of 4 bun bottoms. Arrange grilled red pepper pieces, then grilled red onion slices over. Top each with dollop of aioli and some arugula. Cover burgers with bun tops and serve with pickle wedges and corn chips.

Big Flavors Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tomato-Corn Salad

I've heard about using fresh corn raw, but didn't want to try it until the season was right, and I was able to pick up some really fresh corn from the Farmers' Market. I also used that giant heirloom tomato and some leaves from my new basil plant in this recipe. It's fresh and sweet, and tastes amazing! The vinegar adds a nice tang, and the basil brightens the salad up. This was a huge hit!

Tomato-Corn Salad
Sunset August 2006

Fresh corn is often so sweet and tender that there is no need to cook it. Prep Time: 15 minutes. Notes: Chef Bart Hosmer uses basil flowers in this dish. Just pull the flowers from the stalks and sprinkle them like confetti into the salad in place of (or in addition to) the chopped basil. They add a light, floral note.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

3 ears sweet corn
1 pound tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup diced torpedo onion or red onion, rinsed in cold water and patted dry with paper towels
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped basil
Salt and pepper

1. Over a large bowl, cut kernels off corn cobs and stir in tomatoes and onion. Toss with vinegar and basil; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tomatoes with wine: Parcel 104's Master Sommelier, Randall Bertao, likes wines with clean, focused flavors and a medium acidity to balance the tomatoes--such as Charles Melton Rosé 2004 (Barossa Valley, Australia; $12) and Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (Russian River Valley, CA; $27).

Nutritional Information

Calories: 58 (12% from fat)
Protein: 2.3g
Fat: 0.8g (sat 0.1)
Carbohydrate: 13g
Fiber: 2.4g
Sodium: 14mg
Cholesterol: 0.0mg

Big Flavors Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Farmers' Market Bevvy

I hit up a new Farmers' Market and found some really great stuff! I got 2 parsley plants, 1 rosemary and 1 basil to replace this year's scorched crop, a package of spare ribs, some local wildflower honey, a couple of Saturn peaches (that lasted for about 5 minutes after this photo was taken!), a gigantic, gorgeous heirloom tomato, some tart and plump blackberries, and some of the most perfect sweet corn I've had since the stuff I used to get from my uncle's farm in Indiana. This was one of the best Farmers' Market trips yet!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Zucchini Pickles

I got a zucchini from a friend's garden a few days ago, so when I saw this listed in the "New uses for zucchini" section of the current issue of Cooking Light, I knew I wanted to try it out. This was a great chance to use my mandoline - I usually forget that I have it until I slice a bunch of things super thinly. On a side note...always use the hand guard on your mandoline. I stupidly didn't and I nicked my thumb. It could have been much worse, but it was still pretty nasty.

Anyway, this is a great spin on traditional pickles, and it only has to sit in the fridge for a day. The red pepper flakes make them nice and spicy, and the sugar sweetens the vinegar up just the right amount. I'll definitely make these again - they're great! The other suggestions for new ways to use zucchini in the same article include reinventing coleslaw and moistening lean meatloaf.

Zucchini Pickles
Cooking Light August 2010

Combine 4 cups 1/8-inch zucchini slices, 1 cup slivered sweet onion, and 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves in a glass bowl. Bring 1 cup white vinegar, 1/2 sugar, 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt to a boil; pour over zucchini mixture. Cover and chill 24 hours.

MacGourmet Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, August 9, 2010

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Buttermilk Chocolate Cookies

Pin It

I saw this post and thought that the cookies sounded unique and delicious. These cookies really do melt in your mouth. The buttermilk keeps the cookies incredibly moist, and the chocolate chips get melty and delicious. I used some bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate baking chips that were a lot wider than standard chocolate chips, and they only added to the intense chocolatey goodness of these cookies.

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Buttermilk Chocolate Cookies
Baking Bites

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
Melt the butter in a small, microwave safe bowl.
In a large bowl, combine the melted butter (still warm) with cocoa powder and whisk until very smooth. Whisk in sugar, vanilla extract and buttermilk. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until no streaks of flour remain. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop dough in 1-inch balls into prepared baking sheet, leaving about two inches between cookies to allow for spread.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are set around the edges.
Cool for 2-3 minutes on a baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack with a spatula to cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

MacGourmet Rating: 5 Stars

Spaghetti in Tomato-Apple Sauce (Spaghetti con Salsa di Pomodori e Mele)

Spaghetti in Tomato-Apple Sauce (Spaghetti con Salsa di Pomodori e Mele)
Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes - Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali

Serves 6

3 cups (one 28-ounce can) canned Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large stalks celery, cut in 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound tart, firm apples, such as Granny Smith
1 pound spaghetti
1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for passing

Recommended Equipment: A food processor or blender; a heavy-bottomed skillet or sauté pan, 12-inch diameter or larger; a large pot, 8-quart capacity, for cooking the pasta

Pour the canned tomatoes into the food processor or blender, and purée until smooth.

Pour 4 tablespoons of the olive oil into the skillet, set it over medium heat, and strew the chopped celery and onion in the pan. Cook and stir the vegetables for about 5 minutes, until they wilt and start to caramelize.

Stir in the puréed tomatoes, season with salt, and heat to a bubbling simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or so. As the tomatoes perk, peel and core the apples, and remove the seeds. Shred them, using the coarse holes of a shredder or grater.

When the tomatoes have cooked about 5 minutes, stir the apples into the sauce. Heat again to a simmer, and cook the sauce, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, stirring now and then, until it has reduced and thickened and the apple shreds are cooked and tender.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, drop in the spaghetti, and cook it until barely al dente. Lift the spaghetti from the water, let drain for a moment, and drop it into the warm sauce (Reheat, if necessary.)

Toss pasta with sauce for a minute or two, until all the strands are coated and perfectly al dente. Turn off the heat, sprinkle the grated cheese over the pasta, and toss well. Drizzle over it the remaining olive oil, toss once again, and heap the pasta into warm bowls. Serve immediately, passing more cheese at the table.

MacGourmet Rating: 4 Stars

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chicken Salad with Mayo (Mayonezli Tavuk Salatasi)

I made one of our favorites spins on chicken salad to bring for lunch this week. This recipe never disappoints!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fresh Cavatelli with Favas (Cavaetlli con le Fave e Ricotta Salata)

This is the recipe that I chose to go with the Fresh Cavatelli that I made. I found some fava beans and was excited to use them with some homemade pasta. The only unexpected part about this recipe is that the beans turned the water red, so by the time I dropped the pasta in, it got tinged a rusty orange color. I definitely wasn't expecting that. Either way, this dish is great. The heat from the pepper flakes is the perfect compliment to the subtle flavors of the sauce.

Fresh Cavatelli with Favas (Cavaetlli con le Fave e Ricotta Salata)
Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes - Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali

Serves 6

4 pounds fresh fava beans, in the pods
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for the pasta pot
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 plump garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
1/2 teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
1 batch (1 1/2 pounds) Fresh Cavatelli, or 1 pound dried pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino
6-to-8-ounce chunk ricotta salata

Recommended equipment: A large pasta pot; a heavy-bottomed skillet or sauté pan, 12-inch diameter or larger; a hand grater with large shredding holes (a flat, box, or rotary grater); a wire strainer

To blanch the favas: Fill the pasta pot with 4 quarts water, and heat to a boil. Split open the fava pods, and collect the beans, still covered with a thick skin. When the water is boiling, drop in the favas, and blanch them for 2 minutes, just until they turn green and the skin has loosened. Lift out the beans with a wire strainer, and drop them into a bowl of ice water, to set the color. When they're chilled, drain the beans and peel off the skins; you should have about 3 cups of fully peeled favas. Now pour at least 2 more quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt into the hot blanching water, and heat again to the boil, to cook the cavatelli.

To make the sauce: Pour the olive oil into the skillet, and set it over medium heat. Stir in the onion, garlic, and peperoncino. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Ladle a cup or so of the pasta cooking water into the skillet, and simmer until the onion begins to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Spill in the favas, and season with the salt, ladle in another 3 cups of pasta water, and bring to a steady simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the favas are very tender and beginning to break down and thicken the sauce. Keep the sauce barely simmering while you cook the pasta.

With the pasta water at a rolling boil, drop in the cavatelli, stir, and return quickly to a boil. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the cavatelli are al dente, lift them out with a spider or strainer, drain briefly, and spill them into the skillet. Toss well, to coat the cavatelli evenly with the fava dressing. Turn off the heat, sprinkle the grated pecorino over the skillet, and toss again. Heap the cavatelli in warm bowls, and shred the ricotta salata chunk through the large holes of the hand grater, showering slivers on each serving. Serve immediately, passing the rest of the chunk of ricotta salata and the grater at the table, for adding seasoning as needed.

MacGourmet Rating: 4 Stars

Fresh Cavatelli

In her book, Lidia says that this is the easiest of the handmade pasta recipes. The dough comes together very quickly in the food processor, and only has two ingredients. I wasn't able to roll mine out thin enough, so they took a bit longer to cook, but they were great! I froze half of the cavatelli so we can have fresh pasta on a busy night again soon.

Fresh Cavatelli
Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes - Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali

Makes about 1 1/2 pounds, serving 6

1 pound fine durum-wheat flour (about 3 1/4 cups), plus more as needed
1 1/4 cups very cold water, plus more as needed

Recommended equipment: a food processor fitted with a steel blade

Put the flour inn the bowl of the food processor, and process for a few seconds, to aerate. With the food processor running, pour in the water through the feed tube. Process for about 30 seconds, until a dough forms and gathers on the blade. If the dough does not gather on the blade or process early, it is too wet or dry. Feel the dough, then work in more flour or cold water, in small amounts, using the processor or kneading by hand.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand for a minute, until it's smooth, soft, and stretchy. Press it into a disk, wrap well in plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature for at least 1/2 hour. (You can refrigerate the dough for up to a day, or freeze it for a month or more. Defrost in the refrigerator, and return to room temperature before rolling.)

To form the cavatelli, lightly flour your work surface. Pinch off golf-ball-sized pieces of dough, and roll them out under your palms into long ropes about the thickness of a pencil. Cut the ropes into 1-inch segments or short cylinders; keep pieces in front of you, horizontally (left to right). Flour your hands, especially the tips of the three middle fingers of your right hand unless you are left-handed. Hold these fingertips tightly together, and press them into one of the cut segments, and gently roll toward you.

As your fingertips make indentations in the segment, roll it toward you more so the dough both lengthens and curls around the fingertips. As the curl is complete, lift your fingers up quickly, so the dough segment drops off. It should now resemble a short concave shell - or a hollowed-out boat or canoe - with the impression of your fingers in the hollows and along the edges.

Adjust the pressure of your fingers as needed - if the dough cylinders are not lengthening or forming a hollow, press harder. If they're just flattening beneath your fingers, press a bit more gently. Once you get up to speed, you should be able to roll the cavatelli with a quick downward flick of your fingertips.

Sprinkle the finished cavatelli liberally with flour, and spread them out in a single layer on floured baking sheets. Leave them uncovered, to air-dry at room temperature, until ready to cook. (Or freeze the cavatelli on the sheets until hard, and pack them in airtight plastic bags.)

MacGourmet Rating: 5 Stars

Tartine with Mustard Mayo and Mashed Avocado

I saw this post from The Wednesday Chef in my RSS feed, and I knew that I had to make this for lunch soon! It's barely a recipe, but it's a combination that I never thought of before. It's creamy and tangy, and really hit the spot.

Tartine with Mustard Mayo and Mashed Avocado
Food 52 via The Wednesday Chef

Serves 1

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
2 slices whole grain bread, toasted
1/2 ripe avocado, peeled
A few drops lemon juice

In a small bowl, blend the mustard and mayonnaise. Spread on the toasted bread. In another bowl mash the avocado with the lemon juice and salt to taste. Spoon the avocado over the mustard mayo and spread it to the edges.

MacGourmet Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Herb Rubbed Pork Chops with Peach Sauce

I wanted to make something easy tonight, so I went for one of our stand-by recipes. This is a great combination of spices and sweetness, and we love it. The only change I make is to add some salt and pepper to the meat - it really makes the flavors come to life. I served it with some leftover rice and pink beans.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Carrot Apple Juice

The other part of my birthday present came in the mail - The Juicing Bible. It's a great resource with tons of information and recipes for juices, smoothies and roughies. I couldn't wait to try out one of the recipes, so I looked in the index for something using carrots. This recipe rocked! It's the best juice I've made so far, and definitely one of the best blends that I've ever tasted. I hope to make a lot more winners like this one. I always chill my juices in the fridge before drinking them, and I'm a big fan of doubling recipes so that Dino and I can have a small glass at night, and I can fill a travel mug to take to work for breakfast.

Carrot Apple Juice
The Juicing Bible (Second Edition) - Pat Crocker

4 carrots
2 stalks celery
1 apple
4 sprigs fresh parsley

1. Using a juicer, process carrots, celery, apple and parsley. Whisk and pour into a glass.

MacGourmet Rating: 5 Stars

Greek Salad Pita Sandwiches

This recipe is great for a few reasons. It's easy. It doesn't require a stove or heat of any sort (which is great when there's no air conditioning in the kitchen). It's healthy, refreshing and delicious. So if you spend a few minutes chopping veggies, you can have a really fresh, tasty pita sandwich. I used mini pitas, and they were falling apart a bit, so I ended up using a fork to take this sandwich down. I came across this recipe looking for a way to use some green bell peppers from a friend's garden, and I'm so glad I found it. Yum!

Greek Salad Pita Sandwiches
Bon Appétit November 2007

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/4 cups chopped seeded plum or cherry tomatoes
1 cup diced seeded peeled cucumber
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
2/3 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped radishes
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 1/2 ounces)

4 8-inch-diameter whole wheat pita breads, halved

Whisk olive oil and red wine vinegar in large bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Mix tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, radishes, and parsley into dressing. Stir in feta cheese. DO AHEAD: Salad can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Using slotted spoon, transfer salad mixture to pita bread halves. Serve sandwiches immediately.

MacGourmet Rating: 5 Stars

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Quick Garden Tomato and Cucumber Salad

I was on location for a photo shoot today, and I wasn't planning to cook anything for dinner. During the crew's lunch break, I ran across a pie shop called Michele's Pies that had a sign for a free pie tasting. I couldn't resist that, so I went in to see what it was all about. They had samples of chocolate banana bread and strawberry rhubarb pie. While I was sampling, I noticed that the owner had been on Throwdown with Bobby Flay! I didn't see that episode, but I saw the autographed sign on the wall (amidst a slew of other awards that she's received) with a note from Bobby saying that she had amazing pumpkin pie. So I knew I had to buy something. I got a mini peach pie for dessert, and an interesting looking Australian beef pie to throw in the oven for dinner.

By the time I got home, the frozen beef pie was thawed out, so I followed the directions on the box, and dinner was ready in about an hour! I didn't feel like putting too much effort into a side dish, but I needed to have something other than a pie-o-meat. Luckily, a friend had given us some tomatoes and cucumbers from his garden, so I made a very quick side salad to go with it. I chopped up those veggies with some red onion and basil, salt and pepper, olive oil and white balsamic with oregano from O&Co. It was a great meal, and both pies were fantastic!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Poached Chicken with Grape Relish

Don't worry, I'm not only making juices...but we were away for the weekend, so I haven't done any cooking for a few days. I wanted to make a recipe that I've made before. It's really different and nice for hot weather. The relish is tangy and sweet, and the crunch from the onions really takes it over the top. I like this dish more than Dino does...I think I could eat buckets of the relish...so it stays at a 4 star rating, but in my book, it's a 5!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Big Flavors Turns 4! (And A Nutella Banana Panini)

Wow. I can't believe that I've been taking photos of everything I cook for 4 whole years now. It seems kinda crazy, but it's been such a wonderful experience for me. My cooking skills have improved, my photography skills have improved, and I've met tons of great people along the way. Thanks to everyone for making this obsession of mine so fulfilling!

Dino made this fantastic dessert - one of our favorites! But really, how can you go wrong with a sandwich that consists of grilled, melted Nutella with bananas smushed inside? He even dusted it with powdered sugar to make it extra pretty...but that didn't stop us from devouring it in about 30 seconds flat!