January 2011 Archives

blackberry cobbler.jpg

Meet my new favorite blackberry cobbler, individualized. This recipe has a light biscuit-style crust and a complex blackberry filling with hints of lemon, vanilla, and cinnamon - each adding to rather than overwhelming the fruit's dark jammy flavor. Note: the recipe makes 4 servings/ramekins of filling and a good 8 servings of topping, so you could easily double the fruit or half the topping to make it come out even. I just baked the left over topping as shortcakes for later.

3 small containers of blackberries
2/3 cup sugar, divided
1 1/3 cups, plus 1 tablespoon, all-purpose flour, divided
Grated rind from 1 lemon
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 375°F.

Combine berries, half the sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, the lemon zest and juice, vanilla, cinnamon, and 1⁄8 teaspoon salt and mix carefully. If convenient, mix this ahead of time & let it sit so the blackberries have time to soak up the flavors.

Spoon into 4 individual sized greased ramekins.

Mix the rest of the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut in 2 tbsp of butter with a pastry blender or two knives until it looks like coarse meal. Add the milk and mix until it holds together.

Drop dough by large spoonfuls over the berries.

Put the ramekins on a baking sheet and put them in the oven. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the tops were browned and the berries were bubbling.

Serve it warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

maple-bakedchicken-sweetpotatoes.jpgDelicious winter comfort food: golden baked chicken with butternut squash and onions, slightly sweetened with maple syrup. Plus it only takes a few minutes prep work, most of the time is hands-off in the oven. So good, I've already made it twice in the past month.

    2-3 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on
    Olive oil
    1 yellow onion, cut into 1-inch wedges
    1 medium butternut squash or 4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
    1 tablespoons olive oil
    3 tablespoons maple syrup
    Kosher salt and black pepper
    4-6 sprigs fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Place the chicken skin side down in a hot pan. Once the skin is crisp and brown remove the chicken from the heat.

Arrange the chicken (skin side up), onion, and squash/sweet potatoes in a large baking dish. Drizzle the oil over the chicken and vegetables and season with the salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Drizzle with the maple syrup and top with the sprigs of thyme.

Roast, stirring the vegetables once, until the chicken is cooked through, about 45-60 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving
Original recipe

chocolate-sugar-cookies.jpgSimple, buttery cocoa sugar cookies, wrapped up for the holidays. I imagine they would make wonderful ice cream sandwiches, but we ended up just snacking on most of ours. Note: this makes a LOT of cookies. I only ended up using 1/2 a batch, and that was enough for us plus enough to give as a gift. Next time I'm definitely halving the recipe.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Whisk dry flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa in mixer. Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour. Note: the dough will be very firm if you let it chill any longer - you may have to leave it out to soften a little.

Roll out cookie dough on floured (or powdered sugared) counter. Cut into desired shapes, brushing extra deposits of flour off the top. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes (the former for 1/8-inch thick cookies, the latter for 1/4-inch cookies) until the edges are firm and the centers are slightly soft and puffed. Be sure not to overcook - they are best a little soft.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Original recipe


kale_slaw_with_peanut_dressing.jpgKale is one of my new favorite vegetables, thanks in no small part to more frequent visits to farmer's markets and recipes like this pasta. This recipe is a lighter, salad-like approach where the greens are just wilted, then tossed with red bell pepper and carrots in a slightly sweet peanut dressing. Excellent when served with grilled meat.

1 large bunches curly or lacinato kale, about 2 pounds
1 red bell peppers, cleaned and cut into fine strips
1 large carrot, peeled
1/4 + 2 tbs cup roasted, salted peanuts, divided
2 tbs vegetable oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

Fold each leaf of kale in half lengthwise and slice out the center rib. Discard ribs. Roll a stack of the leaves up and slice in half lengthwise, then crosswise into very fine ribbons. Wash and rinse thoroughly in a salad spinner.Heat a little oil in a pan, and add the kale. Cook, stirring frequently, until kale is wilted but still not soft.

Toss the kale with the sliced bell peppers. Slice the carrot very thin. Toss with the kale, red pepper, and 2 tbs of the peanuts.

In a chopper or small food processor, briefly puree the remaining 1/4 cup peanuts, oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper flakes. Pulse it just a few times; the peanuts should be partially pureed, but with some nibs and nubs still left in the dressing. (The texture difference between the whole peanuts, ground peanuts, and pureed peanuts in the sauce is one of the things that makes this slaw so wonderful.)

Toss the dressing with the slaw and let it sit for at least a few minutes before serving.

Original recipe


grilled_london_broil_with_chimichurri.jpgTender, juicy steak - cheap! through the wonders of pre-salting, frequent turning on the grill, and nice thin slices against the grain. Be careful not to overcook the steak - it really is best medium rare, and I'm usually a medium well type of girl. Bright and flavorful chimichurri with lots of fresh cilantro, herbs, and garlic is optional but highly recommended.

London Broil

2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 bottom round steak or 'london broil', 2 to 2 1/2 pounds and 1 1/2 inches thick
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Sprinkle both sides of steak evenly with salt; wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (steak can be salted and refrigerated for up to 24 hours).

About 20 minutes before grilling, ignite grill, turn all burners to high, close cover, and heat until very hot, about 15 minutes.

Unwrap steak; insert 3 metal skewers lengthwise through center of steak, spacing skewers about 1 inch apart. Brush both sides of steak with oil and sprinkle evenly with pepper. Place steak on hottest part of grill. Grill, flipping steak every 4 minutes, until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meat registers 120 degrees for rare to medium-rare, 16 to 20 minutes.

Transfer steak to cutting board and let rest, tented with foil, about 10 minutes. Remove skewers. Holding thin slicing knife at 45-degree angle to meat, slice very thinly and serve.

From: Cooks Illustrated

Chimichurri

1 small jalapeno pepper
2 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, rosemary or thyme (or a combination)
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (packed) fresh Italian parsley or cilantro (cilantro is recommended)
Salt and pepper

Heat the jalapeno pepper over the flame of your stove or in the broiler until the skin starts to blister and develop black spots, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside. When cool enough to handle, remove the stem and seeds. Chop pepper (skin and all) and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over a medium flame until bubbling slightly, not yet smoking. Remove from heat and add rest of ingredients. You will hear a sizzle.This partially cooks the garlic, mellowing the flavor

Allow to sit, covered at room temperature, for 2 hours before using (we didn't do this). If you do not plan to use sauce within a few hours, wait to add the parsley until you use the sauce.

Original recipe


spinach_tortellini_soup.jpgGwendolyn's was my favorite cafe in Panama City, serving sandwiches, homemade ice cream, and a beloved rotation of homemade soups. They closed a year or so ago and I've moved a couple times, but I still have cravings for their best soup: Spinach Tortellini. This is my attempt at recreating it, done by feel since the owners have yet to release their secret recipes. Tip: cook bone-chicken breasts (using for example this stovetop recipe) the night before making this soup and use the bones to flavor the broth. It really helps intensify the flavor if you don't have time to make homemade stock (I never do).

1 onion, chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
1 bunch chard or other leafy green, chopped
4-6 c. chicken broth
leftover chicken bones - with some meat attached
1/2 package frozen chopped spinach
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 lb. cheese tortellini
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 tbs fresh oregano, chopped fine
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a little olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, celery, and chard stem pieces. Saute until the onion turns translucent and just begins to brown, then add the chard leaves. Saute until wilted (just a few minutes) and then add the chicken broth, chicken bones, frozen spinach and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then simmer around an hour or so until the broth becomes flavorful from the chicken bones. Remove chicken bones, add tomatoes and tortellini, and bring to a boil. The soup is done when the tortellini is cooked through.

kale_brown_rice_gratin.jpgI upped the greens and added chicken to this warming casserole to make it a one-dish meal, but you can of course omit the chicken and use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian. The flavors are simple but delicious - a little dijon and hint of nutmeg add interest, but the main focus is the creamy texture of the rice and greens.

1 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups short grain brown rice
3 cups milk
3 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth if vegetarian)
1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast (optional)
2 large bunches kale
1/4-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
6-8 ounces of extremely sharp cheddar-style cheese
1/2 cup of bread crumbs

Melt butter in a heavy bottomed 3.5 - 6 quart pan. Add shallot and saute until brown.

Add brown rice and saute with shallot for about 5 minutes, until it starts to get a little toasted.

Add milk, stock concentrate, spices and dijon. Bring to a boil. Once at a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cover for 45 minutes - 1 hour. You can peek and stir occasionally without problem. Note: the milk will curdle here if you boil it very long, but this doesn't really affect the final product.

Preheat your oven to 350º.

At the end of the rice's cooking time, add in the finely chopped kale. Cook an additional 5 minutes of so to help soften the kale.

At this point it should be rather thick. If it is not, put two tablespoons flour in a small bowl and add some of the remaining liquid from the rice mix. Stir to make a roux and add back to pan to thicken. Once thick enough to be like a wet paste, spoon into 9×13 casserole dish. Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs (cheese first!) and put into preheated oven for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown and bubbly.

Original recipe