Saturday, October 24, 2009

Roasted Poblano Corn Chowder

IMG_7574We've been having a bit of cold weather which has had me really craving soup. I made this soup tonight and it was delicious with a nice bit of heat from the peppers, perfect for these cold Autumn days.

Roasted Poblano Corn Chowder

4 large poblano peppers
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
6 large cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons Wondra
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 15-ounce can fat-free evaporated milk
1 15-ounce can creamed style corn
1 15-ounce can sweet corn, drained
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper to taste

Under the broiler or on the grill, char the poblanos on all sides and then place in a plastic bag to steam until they are cool enough to handle. Peel off and discard the skin, remove and discard the stem and seeds. Chop the cleaned peppers coarsely and set aside.

In a large pot heat the olive oil. Sauté the onion until lightly caramelized then add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is soft, about 2 minutes. Add the Wondra and stir continuously for one minute. Add the chicken stock and stir to mix. Add the poblanos and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the evaporated milk and mix well. Using an immersion bender or in small batches in a blender, blend the soup until smooth. Add the creamed & sweet corn, stir to mix & heat. Stir in the cilantro and season to taste with salt & pepper.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pumpkin Blondies

IMG_7572 I made these blondies for a Halloween themed play date and they were not only super simple to make but delicious to eat! They were super moist and I loved the crunch of the nuts but next time I make them I’ll cut the amount of chocolate bits by half as *I* felt they were a bit too chocolaty but otherwise I loved them as did everyone else.

Pumpkin Blondies

1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted
1 12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate bits (I would only use half the bag)

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the pumpkin pie spice and salt and blend. Add the eggs and pumpkin puree and blend until smooth. Mix in the flour until fully incorporated. Stir in the pecan halves and chocolate bits. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is lightly browned and the center is set. Cool completely before cutting into squares.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Red Curry Soup

IMG_7380a Tonight I made this soup which was simple to make and absolutely delish! Eammon just couldn't get enough of it and as he was eating his first bowl, asked if I could make it again and soon, so definitely a hit!!

Red Curry Soup

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 can lite coconut milk
5 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 Tablespoons red curry paste 
1 lime, zest and juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
8 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 scallions, chopped
1 avocado, diced

In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and allow to lightly caramelize. Add the garlic and jalapenos and cook for another two minutes until jalapenos are soft. Add cilantro and cook until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add the red curry paste, lime juice and zest and ground pepper. Stir until the curry paste dissolves. Taste the broth at this point to make sure that the salt/pepper/heat from jalapeno & curry paste and sourness from the lime are in balance and adjust as needed.

Add the mushrooms and red pepper and simmer for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms and peppers are tender. Turn off heat and stir in the chicken and scallions. Allow the chicken to poach in the broth for approx. five minutes or until cooked and opaque.

Place some diced avocado in the bottom of each bowl and ladle soup on top.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Coriander Roasted Salmon with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

IMG_7212 The other night I was reading though a few of my favorite cooking blogs when I happened upon this recipe and knew that I had to make this dish. I made a few changes to the original, tweaking amounts a little to better suit our tastes. I also left out the dill, which I despise, and the bell peppers which I'm not oh-to-fond of. In addition I had ground coriander in the house and couldn't be bothered to toast and grind my own so another change from the original.

This was one of the best meals I have cooked in a while as Eammon and I both loved the dish. The fish had a wonderful flavor and was super moist. The lemon rind in the sauce added a wonderful brightness while the sauce overall had great complexity. This recipe was easy, delicious, and will be made numerous times in the future.

Coriander Roasted Salmon with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce (Adapted from here)

1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 tablespoons tahini
1½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, minced
zest from ½ of a lemon, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon ground coriander
6 (5- to 6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets, I used Steelhead salmon
Salt and pepper

Cilantro for garnish

To make the sauce: Stir the yogurt, tahini, coriander, lemon juice, garlic, and lemon zest together in a small bowl. Mix in the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Can be prepared to this point up to 1 day ahead.)

To prepare the salmon: Whisk the honey, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, paprika & coriander together in a shallow baking dish. Add the salmon and turn to coat it. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Transfer the salmon to the prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven until the salmon is opaque in the center, about 10 minutes.

Serve the salmon with the yogurt sauce and garnish with cilantro.

Serves 6

I served the salmon over roasted spaghetti squash. To make the squash, preheat oven to 375°F. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and pulp. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place the squash cut side down on the prepared baking sheet and roast uncovered for 30-45 minutes or until fork inserts easily into the flesh. Separate strands by running a fork through the flesh in the "from stem to stern" direction.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Creamy Tomato Soup Florentine

IMG_6763When I was a child my favorite school lunch was when they served grilled cheese and tomato soup.  Dunking that horribly greasy cheese sandwich in reconstituted soup, well what can I say, I was a child and I loved it.  I hadn’t had that meal in years but recently I was at a friend’s home and that’s just what she served, American cheese on white bread grilled in oil (yuk).  So if the sandwich wasn’t bad enough, the tinned tomato soup…well that was just horrid!!  Have they changed the recipe over the years or have my tastes just changed that much?   Amazingly after that “interesting” lunch I actually ached for a decent grilled cheese and a more grown-up tomato soup so I experimented in the kitchen and came up with this rich, creamy, healthy and totally wonderful recipe.

Creamy Tomato Soup Florentine 

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds plum tomatoes, quartered
large pinch of salt
12 grinds of black pepper

olive oil
3 large heads of garlic, cut in half to expose the cloves
fresh ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces onion, diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
10 grinds of black pepper
Two 16-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
8 cups chicken broth
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk (I use fat-free)
12 basil leaves minced
9 - 12 ounces fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped

Pre-heat oven to 450F. In a large bowl lightly toss together the quartered tomatoes, 3 TBS olive oil, salt & pepper. Pour out onto a foil lined baking pan and roast 25-30 minutes until tomatoes are soft and have started to caramelize. Remove from oven and set aside.

Place halved heads of garlic on a large sheet of foil with cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Seal up the foil and roast in the oven with the tomatoes until the garlic is soft. Set aside and allow to cool so that it can be handled.

In a large pot heat 2 TBS. olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until caramelized. Add thyme, black pepper and tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly for one minute. Add the diced tomatoes with all the liquid, simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the chicken broth and roasted tomatoes to the soup. Squeeze the garlic from it's paper, discard the paper and add the soft garlic to the soup. Simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Using an immersion blender or by small batches in a blender, blend until smooth. Stir in the evaporated milk and bring soup to a simmer. Add the fresh basil and spinach and allow the spinach to wilt in the soup before serving.

I topped the soup with some homemade garlic croutons, Yummy!!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lasagna Soup

IMG_6746 It's been rainy and a bit chilly here lately so I've been in a soup mood. I've seen a numerous recipes for Lasagna soup and they’ve sounded good so I played around and made my own version. It was delicious, a bit spicy and all three of us enjoyed it very much.  If you’re a bit sensitive to spice I’d recommend using half hot and half sweet sausage to cut down on the spice a bit.  I served the soup with a nice slice of garlic Texas toast and it was a delicious, hearty and filling meal.

Lasagna Soup 

In a stockpot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until caramelized. Add the sausage and garlic and cook, breaking up the sausage with a spoon until sausage is browned. Add zucchini, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, diced tomatoes with the juice, tomato sauce and chicken broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 25 minutes. Add the pasta and cook according to pasta directions until pasta is done, about 8 minutes. Stir in fresh basil and spinach allowing them to wilt into the soup.

In a small bowl combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, pepper and 2 TBS fresh chopped basil. To serve, ladle soup into bowl and add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture to each bowl.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Gastronomic delight...Figs!

Okay, no cooking involved but this recipe is pure gastronomic delight.

IMG_6149 Perfectly ripe just picked figs with some chèvre and a drizzle of some top of the line aged balsamic vinegar. I'm going to be enjoying this time and time again during fig season, pure bliss!


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Potato Crusted Garden Quiche

IMG_6020 This morning we went over to our friend's Trixie & Roger's home for brunch and I was asked to bring along a quiche so I decided to experiment a little and made up my recipe from what I had and as I went along. From our garden I had a number of yellow squash as well as a good bunch of long beans so I thought that if I roasted them, they would be delicious. I also thought that if I added a head of roasted garlic, it would give the quiche a great flavor too. I'm also not a big fan of pie crusts and as a rule I don't make them and I didn't have any frozen ones in the house so, to change it up a little I chose to make a potato crust and it was a hit with everyone. I love that quiche is so versatile, so easy to switch up the cheese, veggies and/or meats to suite any taste. This combination was a great success and I would definitely make it again.

IMG_6013Potato Crusted Garden Quiche

For the filling:
A good handful of long beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
A couple of yellow squash, quartered lengthwise and then cut into finger width pieces.
One medium onion, diced
One head of garlic, cut to expose the cloves
olive oil
2 cups shredded Jarlsberg
12 slices crispy bacon, cut in pieces I use the pre-cooked and just microwave it to crisp it up.
6 large eggs
2 cups light cream
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg 
Salt & Pepper to taste

For the Crust:
6 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, shredded
6 cups shredded potato, could also use frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed and squeezed dry
Salt & Pepper to taste

IMG_6016 Pre-heat oven to 400F. On a foil lined baking sheet toss beans with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and spread on one side of the baking pan. On the other side of the pan toss together the yellow squash & diced onion also drizzled with a little olive oil and some salt & pepper. On a separate piece of foil put garlic head drizzled with olive oil, season with salt & pepper and seal foil around the garlic. Roast the veggies and garlic for about 25 minutes. I kept the beans and squash separate in case I needed to pull the beans before the squash but in the end they all roasted the same amount of time. Once tender and a little golden, remove from oven, allow garlic to continue roasting another 20-25 minutes or while the crust bakes.

IMG_6018 While the veggies are roasting, shred onion and peeled potatoes. Squeeze potatoes and onions dry. In a 9x13-inch baking pan melt 6 Tablespoons of butter in the oven and then swirl pan to grease bottom and sides. Add the dried onions & potatoes to the buttered pan along with some salt & pepper and toss to coat with the butter. Press potato mixture to cover the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake at 400F for 25 minutes or until golden. At this point you can pull from the oven and add the filling or you can allow the crust to cool and then chill until ready to make and bake the quiche.

Lower oven temp to 350F

To make the custard, squeeze the roasted garlic bulbs into a bowl and mash. Add one of the eggs to the garlic and whisk together. Add the remaining 5 eggs, cream, nutmeg and season with salt & pepper, whisk together.

Into the cooked potato crust layer first the roasted beans & yellow squash topped with the shredded cheese and then top with the bacon. Pour the custard mix in and then bake for 35 minutes until top is golden and quiche is set.

Let rest for at least 30 minutes or allow to cool to room temp before serving.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tapenade Tarts / Pesto Tarts

Whenever I bring these little tarts to a party they're always a hit. Very easy to make and full of great flavor.

1 pkg. puff pastry sheets (2 sheets)
8 oz. olive tapenade or pesto
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 lb. grape tomatoes, each cut in half

Thaw pastry according to package then roll each sheet into an 8"x8" square. Cut each sheet into 16 equal squares. Place each square in the bottom of a muffin tin, then add about 1 tsp. of tapenade or pesto to each one. Top each with 3 - 4 tomato halves then sprinkle on some of the feta. Bake at 400F until pastry is puffed and browned. Remove to cooling rack as soon as you can handle them. Serve warm or at room temperature.

If using silicone muffin pans the bake time is approximately 18 minutes and in traditional metal muffin tins bake time is approximately 15 minutes. If you do use metal muffin tins, before you make the first batch spray them with cooking spray to make release easier. Subsequent batches won't need more spray as the dough will give off enough oil to keep the tins greased.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Roasted & Curried Veggie Soup

So here it is the first full day of spring, it's gorgeous outside and I was craving a roasted veggie soup. This soup is so easy to make and is good both hot or chilled. It has a wonderful rich flavor, good for anytime of the year.

1 butternut squash (2.5-3 lbs)
4 large carrots, peeled
1 medium onion
2 heads of garlic
1 poblano pepper
olive oil
3-4 cups chicken or veggie stock
2 tsp. Jamaican curry powder

Pre-heat oven to 375F. Line baking sheet with foil and have two additional pieces of foil for the garlic and onion. Split squash and remove seeds, peel carrots, peel and cut onion in half, cut garlic so that the bulbs are exposed. Lightly brush everything with olive oil and lightly season with salt & pepper. Wrap garlic and onion separately each in a sheet of foil. Roast veggies for 1 hour or until everything is very soft and slightly caramelized.

Scoop the pulp from the squash, squeeze garlic from the skin and remove skin and seeds from the pepper. Discard all the skins & seeds. Add all the veggies to a blender along with 2-3 cups of stock and the curry powder. Blend until smooth adding more stock until desired consistency is achieved. You can also blend everything together in a pot with an immersion blender.

I sprinkle on a little more curry powder when I serve the soup as I like it with a kick. This is great served with a nice crusty piece of bread.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tri-color cookies

Ever since I was a little girl Tri-Color Cookies were at the top of my favorites list.  It’s funny though, until the other day I never thought to actually make them myself.  I thought that they’d be a lot more difficult to make but other than being a bit time consuming there was nothing oh-too challenging and they really came together quite easily.  My only difficulty or challenge came when it was time to cut the the cookies.  I never did achieve a perfectly cut cookie but trust me when I say, my lack of cutting skills didn’t impact the taste one little bit.  These cookies were perfect, just as I remember them from my childhood.

Tri Colored cookies

Tri-Color Cookies

4 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
10 oz almond paste
1-1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
25 drops red food coloring
25 drops green food coloring
12 oz jar apricot preserves, pureed and heated
8 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 13x9-inch baking pans and line the bottoms with wax paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on each of the two long sides then butter paper.

With a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat whites at medium-high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time. Increase to high speed until whites hold stiff peaks and are slightly glossy. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.

Switch to paddle attachment and then beat together the almond paste and remaining 3/4cup sugar until well blended. Add butter and beat until pale and fluffy. Add yolks and almond extract and beat until combined well. Reduce speed to low and add flour and salt and mix until just combined.

Fold half of egg white mixture into the almond mixture to lighten then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Divide batter evenly into 3 bowls. Stir red food coloring into one and green food coloring into another, leaving the third batch plain. Pour one bowl of batter into each prepared pan and spread evenly with offset spatula (layer will be about 1/4 inch thick).

Bake 7 to 10 minutes until just set. The layers will be slightly undercooked looking but the tester will come out clean. Using paper overhang, transfer layers to a rack to cool.

When all layers are cool, invert red layer onto a large wax paper lined baking sheet. Discard paper from layer and spread with half of preserves. Invert white on top of red layer, discarding paper. Spread with remaining preserves. Invert green layer on top of white layer and discard wax paper.

Cover with plastic wrap and then cover with a large baking pan and some weights (cans of tomatoes or what ever you have in your pantry.) Chill at least 8 hours.

Remove weights and plastic wrap and trim edges of assembled layers with a long serrated knife. Melt 4 oz. of the chocolate in the microwave and stir until smooth. Quickly spread the chocolate in a thin layer on top of cake. Chill uncovered, until chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes. Cover with another sheet of wax paper and place another baking sheet on top then invert cake onto sheet and remove paper. Melt remaining 4 oz. of chocolate in the microwave and stir until smooth. Quickly spread the chocolate in a thin layer. Chill uncovered until firm, about 30 minutes.

With a serrated knife, cut lengthwise into five strips. Cut strips crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide cookies.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Roasted Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella and Pesto Pizza

This looked so good when I pulled it from the oven tonight I just had to take a picture.


Roasted Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella & Pesto Pizza

8-10 Roma tomatoes, quartered the long way
1/3 cup olive oil
2 TBS. chopped garlic
10-12 grinds of black pepper
salt to taste

1 lb. fresh pizza dough (I purchase at a local pizza shop)
4-5 Tablespoons basil pesto
1 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced

Pre-heat oven to 450F. In a large bowl lightly toss together the quartered tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, pepper and salt. Pour out onto a foil lined baking pan and roast 25-30 minutes until tomatoes are soft and have started to caramelize. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly or completely.

Increase oven temperature to 500F. Stretch pizza dough to 18-inches round and place on lightly greased pizza pan. Spread a very thin layer of pesto* over the dough leaving a half-inch border around the edge. Evenly distribute mozzarella and then the roasted tomatoes. Brush the half-inch border with some of the roasted tomato-garlic oil that remains in the baking pan.

Bake pizza on lowest rack of the oven for 12-15 minutes until crust is brown and cheese is bubbly delicious. Let rest for five minutes before cutting.


*Pesto layer needs to be very, very thin otherwise it will be extremely oily and the cheese and tomatoes will be floating on grease, just not a good pizza.

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