Monday, December 15, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Sesame Seed Cookies


It's time for a special installment of the Secret Recipe Club.


As you all know, Secret Recipe Club is a weekly collection of recipes from a great group of bloggers. Every Monday, the particular group makes a recipe from another member (in secret, of course) and reveals it on the given day. It's great fun and you get to learn about some great recipes and amazing blogs.

Usually I post  with group C on the third Monday of every month. That's today. The months of December/January are a little weird because groups C and D take a break in December and groups A and B take a break in January in order to accommodate for the holidays. I thought I was going to have to miss out on SRC this month, but then I learned they were doing a cookie swap. It sounded perfect, especially around the holidays.

Instead of having a member of Group C this week, the cookie swap mixed folks from all different reveal groups. This gave me the opportunity to explore Sid's Sea Palm Cooking, who normally posts on the second Monday of the month during Group B.

Sid loves cooking and sharing it with her friends for a variety of things, including Tapas Night and something called Boat Club (though I'm not really sure what that was). I knew I was looking for a basic cookie that would be great with tea and wasn't too sweet. When I saw the recipe for her Sesame Seed Cookies, I knew this was the one.

This recipe was great. It was buttery, nutty and delicious. It held together very well and baked crunchy yet tender. I would absolutely make this recipe again.


Sesame Seed Cookies

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (I didn't have salted butter, so I just added salt to taste)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • about 1 3/4 to 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar
  2. Add egg and vanilla. Continue mixing until combined
  3. Add flour and baking powder. Mix until just incorporated
  4. Scoop cookie dough into small balls and roll in toasted sesame seeds. Flatten balls slightly until they are about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Cookies will not spread, so flatten as much as desired
  5. Place on baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes until golden. 
  6. Eat cookies with a cup of chai tea. Mmmm




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Serious One Pot Pasta



Lately I've seen a lot of recipes on Pinterest for one pot pastas. You cook the pasta in a bare minimum of water with all your vegetables and the starch makes your sauce for you. It sounded interesting, easy and simultaneously like a terrible idea. Pasta should involve two pots. Period.

I tried it and it was pretty good. I still think I prefer pasta where the sauce is made separately, but it wasn't bad. This was also a great way to use up random things in the refrigerator. I used this basic recipes for a Kale, Mushroom and Chicken pasta but I adapted it to what I had in my house. If you want to try out something different, give it a shot. It's easy and it will only dirty one pot and one cutting board. If you care about that, it's a great alternative to regular pasta. This also scales well to a half box of pasta.

One Pot Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dry pasta (something with longer cooking time, like spaghetti, linguini, penne, etc)
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 chicken apple sausages
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 zucchini
  • large handful of mushrooms
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • heavy cream for finishing
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesean or mizithra cheese
  • any other vegetables you may want
Directions
  1. Cut the sausages into circles and brown in the pot you intend to use. Remove
  2. Add a little more olive oil and brown and sautee your onions, peppers, mushrooms, garlic and zucchini briefly until onions are translucent and slightly brown. Add remaining vegetables.
  3. Add pasta and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until pasta is tender. Add a little more stock or water if necessary as the pasta cooks if it is evaporating too quickly.
  4. Finish pasta with a splash of cream and some shredded cheese. Stir until fully incorporate and adjust salt/pepper to taste. Top with more cheese if desired and serve immediately.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Three Layer Christmas Jello


I made this jello for our Thanksgiving this year. My mother would always make it every Thanksgiving and Christmas because it looks so perfect for the holidays. My grandmother really enjoyed it and it was one of my favorite desserts at during the holidays.

In retrospect, it's kind of weird. I mean, who actually enjoys jello? But it tastes like childhood and that is the main reason I made it this Thanksgiving. I even made a special effort to share it with you so that you might have it this Christmas.

I hope everyone has enjoyed the season thusfar. I end this post with a picture of our cat, Because I am a cruel cat Mommy





Note: this can also be made for 4th of July with a slight change of colors.

Three Layer Christmas Jello

Ingredients

  • 1 6oz box of cherry jello
  • 1 6oz box of lemon jello
  • 1 6oz box lime jello
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 16oz can crushed pineapple, juice reserved
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Directions
  1. Prepare the cherry jello according to the package directions. Pour into clear parfait glasses or a casserole dish and put in the refrigerator until set
  2. Mix lemon yellow is 1 1/2 cups of boiling water. After jello is dissolved, Beat cream cheese and marshmallows in using an electric mixer. Marshmallows should melt slightly, but not fully.
  3. Beat the heavy cream until it holds stiff peaks. 
  4. Add pineapple to the jello mixture with half a cup of the reserved pineapple juice.
  5. Fold in whipped cream and pour lemon layer on top of the cherry layer. Let set in the refrigerator.
  6. Make lime jello according to box directions. Let cool to room temperature on the counter before pouring on the middle layer, otherwise the colors will run.
  7. Let set and enjoy.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Milk Braised Chicken


I first saw the recipe for this milk chicken on pinterest. The idea sounded strange, but I opted to give it a shot. The lemon zest causes the milk to separate into curds and whey, creating this delicious sauce for your chicken. The chicken comes out very moist and goes perfectly with sauteed greens and roasted or mashed potatoes.

We made this recipe for some friends who bought us our new dutch oven as a wedding present. Everyone was so happy with it that I thought I would share the recipe with you. This recipe is closer to a roast than a braise, but it's still delicious.

Make sure you use an enameled pot like a dutch oven because it is so much easier to clean than if you were to use a regular pan. Additionally, try to use a good quality organic chicken if possible. I've tried with a non-organic chicken as well and the skin tears too easily and the meat drys out. 


Look at that delicious delicious burnt saucy stuff on the bottom of the pan. Yum

Milk Braised/Roasted Chicken

Ingredients
  • 1 chicken (5 lbs or so)
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • handful of fresh sage leaves
  • half cinnamon stick
  • 20 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 3 cups milk
  • zest of two lemons
  • olive oil

  1. Directions
  2. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper inside and out.
  3. Heat a dutch oven on the stovetop with olive oil and brown chicken well on all side. Remove chicken from the pot and drain off the excess oil.
  4. Deglaze the pan with milk. Add the rest of your ingredients and scrape up anything on the bottom of the pot.
  5. Put chicken back in the pot and place pot in a preheated 375 degree oven. Cook about an hour or until internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees.
  6. Serve with a generous amount of the curds/whey sauce and spread the softened garlic over crusty french bread.





Friday, November 21, 2014

Coq au Vin


Coq Au Vin is one of those amazingly easy and cheap dinners that are perfect for the winter. It is so rich, hearty and warming from the inside out. It is a great way to use up red wine that has sat open a little too long (that should never be a problem, but it does happen sometimes).

My husband and I never by pieces of chicken. We only ever buy whole chickens because they are so much cheaper and then I break them down into their respective parts. This is the perfect kind of dish for that.

I used to make coq au vin and it would always turn out this weird purple color. I've discovered that you can get a rich brown if you make sure to brown it in a pot that is NOT nonstick so you can get all the brown stuff. It also helps if you use tomato paste to thicken the sauce because that will help with the color also

I sort have a recipe, but not really. I just throw things in a pot and see what happens (in terms of the amount of liquid). Edit this recipe as necessary.

Coq au Vin
Ingredients
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 ribs celery
  • 1 cup quartered mushrooms
  • 1 chicken, cut into either quarters or 8 way.
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • thyme sprig and bay leaves
  • half a bottle red wine....maybe a little more
  • 1 large tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock (or so)
  • flour
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for browning chicken
Directions
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Coat with flour and brown on all sides in a dutch oven or wide bottom heavy pot on the stove.
  2. Remove chicken and add vegetables, scraping up the delicious brown stuff on the bottom. Add a big spoon of tomato paste, stirring to coat vegetables.
  3. Add wine (half bottle or a little more) and let reduce by half.
  4. Add chicken stock and put the chicken pieces back in the pot (they should not be submerged, but halfway covered in liquid)
  5. Cover pot and simmer gently until done (half hour?). Remove lid or cover loosely if you desire a more reduced sauce, though the flour and tomato paste should thicken it enough
Make sure to eat this with some crusty bread to soak up all that delicious sauce. Yum!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Pumpkin Mac and Cheese


It's Secret Recipe Club time of the month again.

For those of you not in the know, SRC is a collection of bloggers who make each other's recipes (in secret, of course) and reveal them on a given date. Every Monday, about 30-50 people reveal the recipe they have been assigned for that month. Everyone gets to see all the delicious recipes other folks have made and you get to fill your to do list with plenty of delicious things.

This month, I was assigned Melissa's blog, BKLYN Locavore. Melissa works in marketing by day but on the weekends she is an avid blogger and foodie who is super involved in the Park Slope food co-op. She started Brooklyn Locavore in order experiment with eating locally through the food co-op and her CSA shares.

This experiment in eating locally really spoke to me. When I first moved to the East Coast from California, I was most distraught by the food prices and the lack of local markets. In California, I only went to my local market where it was impossible to find asparagus or strawberries any time other than their short seasons. It was the kind of market where you could go to the mushy vegetables section and buy 10 lbs of ginger for $4 or 5 lbs of eggplant for $3 just because they were a little past their prime. It forced you to make ginger beer or a giant pan of eggplant and it was amazing.

I miss it. I miss hating grapefruit because that's the only fruit you got all winter. I miss being excited about artichokes coming into season

Melissa had so many great recipes on her blog, but I really took her challenge to heart when choosing my recipe this month. As great as her Horseradish Crusted Prime Rib or her Beer Braised Shortribs looked, I just had to go with her healthy Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. After all, I had half a pumpkin leftover from my CSA box.

My husband and I both LOVED this macaroni and cheese recipe. It is creamy, cheesy and doesn't taste like the vegetables that are hiding inside. It doesn't have the super creamy texture of boxed mac and cheese or frozen mac and cheese, but it is so much better for you and better tasting. We really loved this recipe and will absolutely add it to our regular rotation.

Melissa says her recipe serves 8 so we cut it in half. We still had a great amount that is easily 6 side dish portions or 4 main dish portions. 

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Ingredients
  • 1/2 lb pasta (penne, elbows, etc)
  • 1 cup pureed roasted pumpkin (or butternut, or acorn squash)
  • 1 cup lowfat milk
  • 1 cup mixed cheeses (I used a combo of cheddar and jack, but aged gouda or fontina would be excellent as well)
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp breadcrumbs (panko, preferably)
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • parmesean cheese and parsley if desired
Directions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions, drain in a colander and set aside
  2. Whisk together milk and pumpkin puree until it comes to a low simmer.
  3. Add cheese, salt, mustard, cayenne and chili powder and whisk until smooth
  4. Remove from heat and add pasta. Stir until well coated
  5. Pour pasta into baking dish and top with bread crumbs, olive oil and parmesean cheese. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden. Eat immediately




Saturday, November 15, 2014

Peach Sorbet


Summer is over, so I really shouldn't be posting any more frozen dessert recipes. I shouldn't but I keep making them. It was 40 degrees outside today, but for me it's never too cold for ice cream/sorbet.

We also needed to make room in our freezer, so we took out one bag of leftover diced peaches from the summer to make sorbet. We got some wonderful peaches in our CSA box this year, but since we get about a half dozen per week, it's impossible to eat that many before they get overripe and mushy. We peel and freeze them as we go through the summer, but you could also use fresh overripe fruit for this recipe or frozen fruit.

This was also the recipe that taught me how to make really amazing sorbet if you're just guessing at a recipe. The basics for a whole fruit sorbet are a 1:1 ratio of simple syrup to fruit puree. That's it. It's so easy.

You have to double check for things that are just juice or recipes that are more sour. Sugar levels as well as alcohol inhibit freezing, so I will usually add a splash of whatever booze works in order to keep my sorbet at a scoop-able consistency as opposed to rock solid.

Give this easy recipe a try. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Peach Sorbet
Ingredients
  • 2 cups diced frozen or fresh peaches (about 1 1/4 cup of strained peach puree)
  • 1 1/4 cup one to one simple syrup, cooled 
  • splash of peach schnapps
Directions
  1. Puree your peaches in a food processor for a couple minutes or until totally smooth. Press your peach puree through a fine mesh strainer. The liquid should still be thick, but all fibrous parts should be removed.
  2. Mix together equal parts peach puree and chilled simple syrup in a bowl with a splash of peach schnapps. Chill for a couple hours until ready to make sorbet.
  3. Churn according to your ice cream maker directions. Put in an airtight container in the freezer.