Thursday, July 29, 2010

Zucchini and Toasted Corn Tacos with Fresh Tomatillo Salsa

Wow- I've made vegetarian tacos before, but these were by far the best. The toasted corn gave these a unique flavor- some awesome caramelization... mmmm.
Plus, topped with feta and freshly made salsa verde with CSA tomatillos: to die for.

Indian-esque Feast

Pretty good! The okra came out a lot spicier than I thought... a slow burn. The chicken was good, but nothin' special. It made great chicken salad for lunch the next day, though.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Angel Food Cake with Fresh Blueberry Sauce

After making the sesame ice cream for the sesame/halvah/caramel sundaes from last week I had a TON of egg whites left over. Angel food cake to the rescue!
This chocolate-speckled angel food cake from Ina caught my eye, but I figured I would try the basic recipe first before mixing it up. The cake came out sweet, light, and fluffy, without that weird chemical flavor the store-bought ones have.
You definitely have to be delicate when mixing up the batter so you don't crush the fluffed up egg whites. Also, I was forced to buy special cake flour for the recipe, which was a little bit of a pain, but not the end of the world.

Served the cake with a fresh blueberry sauce based loosely on Ina's recipe... I didn't strain it because I like the lumps from the fresh blueberries.

Faux Cheesesteaks

In honor of the return of The Jersey Shore, I cooked up some peppas and onions, a la the Sitch.
Ok, not really. I cooked peppers and onions because I got a giant bag of banana peppers from the CSA, which I thought would be the spicy ones, but turned out to be sweet.We turned them into faux cheesesteaks- toasted hoagie rolls with a little mayo, sauteed peppers, onions and mushrooms, and thinly sliced roast beef and provolone. Throw it all together and toss it under the broiler for a couple minutes to warm up and melt the cheese. Ta da: faux cheesesteak.

Jazz in the Sculpture Garden Spread

Summery Cantaloupe Sangria

For an outing to listen to jazz in the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden, I made this summery sangria I read about in Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine... I can't seem to find the recipe online, but the gist of it was thus:
  • lots of chopped up summer fruit (I used cantaloupe and a little peach)
  • lots of mint and basil
  • white wine
  • orange liqueur
  • sliced ginger

Let it soak together for a couple hours, pour over ice and enjoy!

Later in the evening, after we'd run out of wine, but the fruit was still in the pitcher, we poured some sparkling wine over it and that worked well, too.

Sesame and Halvah Sundaes with Caramel Sauce

Martha loves sesame... not quite as much as she loves ginger, but definitely a lot. She was coming to DC, so I thought I'd use the opportunity to try out this recipe from Food and Wine for sesame ice cream sundaes with caramel sauce, sesame candies and halvah (a spongey, but pretty tasty sesame candy concoction.)
This recipe bordered on sesame overload, but could be slightly modified and greatly improved.

The ice cream by itself = delicious.
The ice cream with a caramel sauce = great (although the caramel in the recipe is less of a sauce and more of a candy- I added cream to the cooked sugar to give it a saucy consistency).
The ice cream and caramel with the sesame candy and halvah toppings = unique and tasty.
The tahini cream = weird and slightly off-putting.

If I made it again, I would skip the tahini cream in favor of more caramel. Also, I would use a different recipe for the caramel sauce- the one in the magazine was a little wonky, as I said.

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Toasted Breadcrumbs and Pancetta

Wow, this Franken-recipe was good... but if I ever make it again, I'll pay better attention to how much salt I put in. With so many salty ingredients, extra salt was a little bit over the top. But tasty nonetheless.

The recipe I ultimately used was an amalgamation of a bunch of different recipes... inspired by this blog post about using toasted breadcrumbs on pasta, as well as a head of cauliflower from the CSA. Basically, this is what I did:

- roasted the cauliflower in some olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper until it was browned
- crisped up the pancetta in a pan, then removed it and threw some minced garlic, a little olive oil, red pepper flakes, and anchovy paste in the pan
- toasted the breadcrumbs in a pan with olive oil
- cooked the pasta
- tossed everything together along with a bunch of chopped parsley, parmesan and a little bit of the pasta water

Just watch the added salt!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Grilled Pizza

Last year, I was making some great pizzas, but in the process I was testing the oven's ability to handle extreme temperatures, bumping it up to 500 or 550 degrees, smoking myself out of the house and cracking baking stones left and right.

This year I decided to try a new method in the hopes that it would be easier on my cooking equipment and my nostrils... grilled pizza! I used this dough recipe from the Other Martha, and grilled it inside on my cast iron grill pan. it was really easy and really tasty. I rolled it super thin and it crisped up quite nicely. Still some smoke, but no cracked cookware!

Topped it with sauteed sweet cherry tomatoes, garlic scapes, mushrooms (all from the CSA), as well as some Italian sausage, mozzarella and basil.

Smoky Chipotle Corn Chowder

I know corn chowder seems like a weird thing to make when it's 95 degrees out and 300% humidity, but man, this chowdah hit the spot.
I've made bacon-based corn chowder in the past, but I didn't have any bacon in the house this weekend, and it was too hot to venture out to get some. So I thought the smoky chipotle in this recipe might make up for the smoky, meatiness of the bacon. It definitely did, no meat required! Thick, spicy, hearty... mmm.

The only changes I made to the recipe were to skip peeling the potatoes, used Cheddar instead of Monterrey Jack, pureed only half the chowah to keep some of the chunks, and skipped the ham.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Caramelized Fennel and Pancetta Salad with Arugula

I got a bulb of fennel from the CSA this week, and this caramelized fennel and pancetta salad from Tony's other girlfriend caught my eye. It was pretty tasty- I made ours with arugula, also from the CSA. However, the fennel's distinct licorice taste was totally subsumed by the sweet, caramel flavor imparted on it when it was roasted. That's not bad, per se, but made the fennel somewhat superfluous. I think you could roast onions and accomplish the same flavor for the salad.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Recent Jewels

Freshwater pearl and Czech glass necklaces for Kate's bridesmaids.

Czech crystal and chain necklace for Chuck to wear to Kate and Kevin's wedding.

Blue howlite and gold bead cap necklace for me to wear to Tony and Emily's wedding.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fava Bean and Arugula Crostini

In addition to the spaghetti and meatballs I served last night, I also made crostini with fresh fava beans and arugula (along with a nice Chianti and a census taker's liver). While the fava bean spread was tasty, I'm not sure I can say that fresh favas are worth the effort... they are very labor intensive, as they need to be peeled not once, but twice. Twice! First, they come out of their long green pods, then they have to be boiled and peeled yet again to remove the waxy coating surrounding each bean. Oy.In any case, as I said, the crostini was (were?) good. Very fresh tasting, and well-complimented by the mint garnish. Mmm. Epicurious tells me that frozen edamame could replace the favas in this recipe, so if you can't get your hands on fresh favas, are too lazy to peel any favas you might find, or just can't stomach the icky Silence of the Lambs association with favas, just go for the edamame.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Two nights ago I had prepared the mise en place for a favorite of mine, Simply Recipe's spaghetti and meatballs (this recipe takes a lot of chopping!), and last night I assigned Chuck to get the cooking started since I was getting my haircut right after work. Dinner was originally just going to be me, Tim and Chuck, with lots of leftovers for lunch, but somewhere along the way while I was relaxing hairdresser's chair, some freak thunderstorms hit DC, a softball game was cancelled, and the number of dinner guests snowballed and doubled, then those guests quickly got drunk and hungry. Good thing this recipe is hearty and makes about a thousand servings!!I love the combination of ground beef and Italian sausage in the meatballs, the plethora of fresh basil and parsley and finely diced carrots and mushrooms in the sauce. Twelve thumbs up for this recipe. Make it next time you need to serve the masses at your own impromptu dinner party!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Apricot Chicken and Roasted Garlic Green Beans

So, it's been a while since I've done any serious cooking, but I picked some good recipes to break that streak this week. We got a pound of super cute mini-apricots from the CSA this week and I wanted to use them in a savory recipe... Simply Recipes to the rescue! This apricot chicken recipe was really nice- sweet, a little spicy, a thick rich sauce...mmmm.Also, this green bean recipe is a keeper, for sure. I saw it on Daisy Cooks, but had trouble finding the recipe online. I improvised... roasted some garlic, threw it in my salad dressing whizzer-thing with a little bit of chicken broth, added salt and pepper, threw it over slightly sauteed green beans from the CSA, threw the cover back on for a few minutes and then served! Awesome and so easy.
Both recipes got two thumbs up from both Chuck and Tim. Tim said it was "the best apricot dish I've had since I got back from Armenia." He got back from Armenia last Friday. Thanks a lot, Tim.

Potato Salad and Burgers

A couple weeks ago, Chuck had a craving for potato salad, and I burgers. An excellent match. We turned to the most reliable of the Food Network chefs for recipes... Alton Brown's Burger of the Gods, which Tim made to rave reviews in the past, and Ina Garten's New Potato Salad. Delicious. Both were hits...

Potato salad can be tricky- it can go very, very wrong. Ina's recipe was very, very right, though. It had some tang from the buttermilk, good crunch from the celery and onion, a little class from the whole grain mustard and fresh dill.

Spicy Peanut/Sesame Noodles

For some reason, sesame/peanut butter noodles are one of my favorite things. Spicy, creamy, garlicy and gingery. Plus you can throw in a ton of veggies, whatever you have around. In this case, I threw in grated carrots, snow peas, scallions, and some steamed bok choy. The noodles are good warm right out of the pot, or cold the next day.
PS: Lincoln wanted to give his somewhat mixed review of the noodles:
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Salad with Chicken Paillard, Red Currant Vinaigrette and Goat Cheese

Red currants are beautiful! I always thought it was a bit of hyperbole when food writers or cooking show hosts referred to berries or other fruits as "jewel-like," but I think that description really applies to red currants. They glow like little shiny rubies. Mmm.
The red currants are a little tart. We decided to throw them into a salad with goat cheese, toasted walnuts, lemon-marinated chicken paillards, and this red currant vinaigrette. Pretty decent, definitely pretty to look at, but seemed to be missing a flavor. Bland. I've yet to figure out what it's missing, though. Any ideas?

Kale and Chickpea Soup

Chuck made this kale and chickpea soup a couple weeks ago while I was working late. Definitely good for you- meatless and full of veggies and legumes. But not the most exciting soup I've ever tasted- a little bland. Easy enough and a healthy choice, for sure, though.

Blueberry Almond Tart

Alejandra from Always Order Dessert frequently raves about almond paste and its many uses, so when I saw it at the grocery store, I grabbed a couple cans just to have on hand.

When the CSA provided me with a ton of gorgeous plump blueberries, I thought they might go well with the almond paste. I did a quick Google search and found this blueberry-almond tart recipe which used those two main ingredients, plus other pantry staples.
Wow, this tart was really pretty. And tasted really delicious, too! The almond paste gave it a really rich, sweet, nutty flavor.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Surf and Turf CSA Dinner

Surf and Turf dinner...Roasted Tenderloin of Beef, Shrimp Gratin, oven roasted potatoes, Snap peas with chives from the garden and a field greens salad with parmesan, shallots and stone ground mustard vinaigrette