Thursday, July 30, 2009

Taste of Amalfi: Hearts of Palm and Avocado Salad

Are you looking for a perfect summertime salad? My mom has been making this salad ever since my parents visited the Amalfi Coast 10 years ago. I have since loved this salad, and appreciate it even more after having spent some time in Praiano, Italy. Something about it brings me back to afternoon Peronis, midnight glasses of Prosecco and limoncello, cherries, olives, - oh the amazing freshness and flavors of the Amalfi Coast!

This salad is even better served with a good crusty bread with a soft inside - a good sourdough is perfect.

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 can hearts of palm*
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 3 ears of corn
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
How to:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Once the oven is preheated, place the corn cobs (still in husks) onto the oven racks. Roast for 30 minutes.
  3. While the corn is roasting, chop up the hearts of palm into 1/2 inch pieces, and slice the onion and tomoatoes.
  4. Combine the hearts of palm, onions, tomatoes, and olive oil in a serving bowl. Salt to taste and let marinate while the corn roasts.
  5. Remove the corn from the oven, slice the corn off the cob, and combine with salad.
  6. Chop the avocados into 1/2 inch pieces, combine with the salad, vinegar, and lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon.
*Note: Hearts of palm can be found in most grocery stores in the canned vegetable aisles. Some brands have very woody exteriors - if that is the case, remove the outer layer. The best brand (and surprisingly, the cheapest!) is Whole Foods 365 brand of hearts of palm - they are the most consistent in size and texture and sometimes go on sale for less than $2 a can!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spring Spaghetti

Spring has finally sprung! This dish is the perfect reminder that long, warm and sunny days are here. This is one of my all time favorites because it is so light and fresh.

  • Olive oil
  • 4 servings of dry spaghetti
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 1.5 cups frozen or fresh peas
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parmesan
How to:
  1. Bring a large stock pot filled with salted water to a boil. When the water reaches a rolling boil add the dry spaghetti
  2. Heat a 12 inch skillet and coat with olive oil. Add the leeks and saute until translucent, about 10 minutes
  3. Add the garlic, asparagus and 1 ladle of the pasta water to the skillet. Cook about 2 minutes on medium-low heat. Add the peas and stir. Salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat.
  4. Using tongs, add the pasta to the skillet and stir until the vegetables and pasta are mixed well.
  5. Garnish with olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
It's very important not to overcook the vegetables. Be sure that the vegetables remain bright green and have a snap to them, it adds to the freshness of the dish. Enjoy!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Artichokes Provencal

I have been waiting for baby artichokes to be in season to cook this recipe by Mark Bittman. Baby artichokes grown in California are at my local co-op this week - get them while they last because I know I will be making this at least one more time over the weekend!

  • 6-8 baby artichokes
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup water
  • olive oil
  • salt
How to:
  1. Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a skillet, add whole cloves of garlic and thyme
  2. Prep the baby artichokes by peeling off the tough outer leaves, trimming the outer edges of the stem, cut the top inch off of the top, and cut in half. Add the artichokes into the skillet.
  3. Once the bottom of the artichokes are slightly brown, add the olives and tomatoes.
  4. Add in the water, cover and let simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Serve with good crusty bread and a little grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Notes: This may be good with a pasta or grain like farro. The bread is great since it soaks up all of the juices.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Indoor Sweet and Sour Tofu Kabobs

Anyone anxiously awaiting outdoor barbecue season? Here is an idea - indoor kabobs that fit on a stove top grill pan. These would be great to serve at a party.

I made kabobs with pineapple, tofu, scallions, and orange bell pepper by skewering on toothpicks. Just like kabobs on the grill, be sure to soak the toothpicks in water for a minute. I grilled these on the indoor stove top grill lightly oiled with canola oil.

My main goal with the sweet and sour sauce was to not use ketchup as so many recipes do (even my vegetarian Chinese cookbook in Chinese).

Sweet and Sour Sauce Ingredients:
  • 6 ounces pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
How to:
  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the cornstarch and water in a sauce pot. Heat and let boil for about 30 seconds. Reduce heat.
  2. Make a slurry by mixing cornstarch and water.
  3. Slowly add into the sauce pot and stir until thickened.

Note: The sauce would be perfect to add to a stir fry.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mango Ginger Creme Brulee

I recently had a wonderful ginger creme brulee at Ngon Vietnamese Bistro in St. Paul. Here is my take on the classic creme brulee inspired by the dish at Ngon.

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 mango
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
How to:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a food processor puree the mango with 1 tablespoon of cream. Mix in the grated ginger and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining cream and vanilla in a sauce pot until the mixture reaches a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes.
  4. While the cream is cooling, beat the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar until the egg yolks become a pale yellow. Mix in the mango ginger puree.
  5. Slowly whisk in the cream mixture
  6. Pour mixture into 3 8-ounce or 6 4-ounce ramekins. Place the ramekins into a roasting pan and fill up the pan with warm water until the water covers half the ramekins half way.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes if 8 ounce ramekins, or about 30 minutes if 4 ounce ramekins. The mixture should look firm with slightly soft center.
  8. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  9. Before serving, sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar over the custard. Either using a kitchen blow torch or broiler, caramelize the sugar on top. Serve immediately.
Notes: Delicious and highly recommended! I was a bit nervous to add in more liquids (mango puree) in fear that the creme brulee wouldn't set, but it turned out great! I would recommend this or even experimenting with more flavors. The mango ginger puree added about 3-4 tablespoons of extra liquid.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

These cookies were an attempt to use up the shredded coconut in the baking cabinet. They turned out so good that I think I will have to replenish our coconut supply to make them again!

This recipe made about two dozen cookies.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 egg
  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate chunks
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
How to:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Using an electric mixer, mix together the butter and sugar until well incorporated. Then add the egg and coconut extract to the butter and sugar. Mix until smooth.
  5. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Once the dry ingredients are well incorporated, use a wooden spoon and mix in the chocolate and coconut.
  6. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the cookie dough onto the cookie sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately move the parchment paper and cookies off the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cheese Soufflé

My soufflé dish has been storing onions and garlic for about a year. I think I was traumatized by the Gorgonzola cheese soufflé I made for Valentine's Day last year. It was time to get back to the basics. I cleaned out the garlic and onions peels and made a classic chesse soufflé.

I used this recipe from Alton Brown. I was a little nervous since the recipe calls for greasing the sides of the soufflé dish, which I thought was the ultimate no-no. But, you coat the edges with grated parmesan cheese for the soufflé to catch upon and rise.

This turned out really well and would recommend this recipe especially for first time soufflé makers.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I will never buy crackers again. This recipe has been on my food-to-do list for a while and it took a weekend of sipping tea, soup and homemade cold remedies to give it a whirl. These are definitely worth the effort and I highly recommend getting on the homemade cracker bandwagon!

This recipe is adapted from the Bread Baker's Apprentice.

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour (see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup room temperature water
  • Spices
How to:
  1. Stir the flour, salt yeast, honey and oil together.
  2. While continuing to stir, slowly add the water into the dry ingredients. Stir until the dough gathers into a ball. The recipe says you may not need the entire half cup of water. I used the entire 1/2 cup -- since I am in such a dry cold climate.
  3. Lightly flour the counter top and knead the dough for 10 minutes. You will know the dough is ready when it stretches thin without breaking.
  4. Spray a bowl with oil and swirl the dough to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 90 minutes -- the dough should double in size.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Lightly oil the counter top. Place dough on the oiled surface and sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough out until its paper thin. It should be at least 12" x 15".
  7. Place dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. Mist the dough with water. Sprinkle any spices you would like onto the dough. I used paprika, caraway seeds, cumin seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, salt and pepper.
  9. If you would like pre-cut crackers, use a pizza cutter and cut the desired shapes - the crackers will break even once removed from the oven.
  10. Bake the crackers for 15-20 minutes, when the crackers are evenly browned.
Notes: The original recipe used unbleached white flour. I used whole wheat since I like grainy crackers. Also, the recipe suggests misting water on the dough before placing the spices on top to help the spices stick. It worked well, but I think I would try an egg wash next time to see if it makes a difference. Lastly, you may need two baking sheets with this recipe. I used a second baking sheet to include the scraps.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spinach Gomae

I always order these at sushi restaurants, and then think to myself why am I ordering this when it has to be so easy to make! Well, it is. Almost too easy - especially if you take a couple of shortcuts like frozen spinach and tahini.

  • 3-4 bunches of fresh spinach or 1 large bag of frozen whole leaf spinach
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • water
  • sesame seeds
How to:
  1. Either blanch the fresh spinach and immediately cool in an ice bath or defrost the frozen spinach. In both cases, the spinach should be cold.
  2. Press all of the water out of the spinach. Using a ring mold (or biscuit cutter) form the spinach.
  3. Mix the tahini, soy sauce, sugar, and rice vinegar in a bowl. If the mixture is still too thick and not sauce like, slowly add water until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
  4. Pour the sauce over the spinach and garnish with sesame seeds.
Notes: I think the sushi restaurant I order these at the most uses brown rice syrup instead of sugar because the sauce has a more syrupy consistency. The taste was definitely right on, but I might swap out the sugar next time and use brown rice syrup to see if that makes a difference in terms of texture.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Chocolate Dipped Candied Orange Slices

I ate these every time I visited Bern, Switzerland last summer. There was a darling chocolate shop in the Old Town of Bern that had the most delectable chocolate dipped candied orange slices - among other treats. I have been meaning to try my hand at making these since I got back to the States. I finally got around to it. I did a little researching for recipes, and they all seemed to vary quite a bit in the sugar to water ratio. Rather than following any particular recipe, I decided to go with using a basic simple syrup -- equal portions water and sugar -- and it turned out great.

  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

How to:
  1. Using a very sharp knife, slice the oranges into wedges about a quarter inch thick. I was able to cut 16 slices per orange, but this will depend on the size of the oranges you're using.
  2. In a large skillet (at least 12 inch) bring sugar and water to a boil.
  3. Place the orange slices into the skillet. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the orange slices simmer for about 30 minutes, until the pith becomes translucent. Flip the oranges once or twice and occasionally press the oranges down into the syrup.
  4. Remove the orange slices from the syrup and cool on parchment paper.
  5. When the orange slices are cool, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Dip half of the candied orange into the chocolate and let set on a sheet of parchment paper.
  6. The orange slices are ready too eat once the chocolate is cool and hard -- you can store the orange slices in the refrigerator.
Notes: Don't forget to save the syrup from the skillet! It's great over pancakes, ice cream or in other baked goods. I am trying to think of what to use mine in. Also, the bigger the skillet the better - you do not want to over crowd the pan. I was barely able to get 2 full oranges in a 12 inch skillet.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

Are you looking for a dish where the leftovers are not only as good as the day you made it, but maybe even better? Moroccan chickpea stew is one of those dishes for me - it's a hearty meal and somehow keeps tasting better every day.


For the stew
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 1 medium size eggplant
  • 3 small Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 medium size yellow onion
  • 28 oz can of tomato puree
  • Apx. 14 oz of water
  • 15 oz. can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup of golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2-4 dried whole chilies
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or kefir
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • slivered almonds
For the couscous:
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon bouillon
  • 1 cup couscous
How to:
  1. Chop the onion, eggplant, carrot, cauliflower, and potatoes in to larger than bit size pieces
  2. In a large heavy bottom skillet, or a dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Saute the onion until translucent, then add the carrot, cauliflower, potatoes. Add a little salt to taste and cook the veggies for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the tomato puree, water, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon and chilies. Cover and continue to cook until the carrot and potato are soft enough for a fork to pierce through easily.
  4. Add the raisins and chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes. Salt to taste.
  5. In a medium size pot bring the water for the couscous and bouillon to a boil. Once the water reaches a boil, turn off the heat and add the couscous. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  6. In a small bowl mix the cilantro and yogurt/kefir.
  7. Serve the stew over the couscous, and garnish with the yogurt/kefir mixture, and slivered almonds

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cupboard Clearing Granola

Do you have a bunch of mason jars with only 1/4 cup of contents and little baggies floating about your cupboard with only a handful of ingredients from the bulk section? Well, I do. I am never going to make 1/4 cup of quinoa. I usually let it sit in the cupboard until one day when I decide its too old, toss it and restart my collection. Not this time - I decided to make some granola. Tim and I are leaving for Mexico today and granola is the perfect airplane snack.

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond slices
  • 1/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat groats
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 honey
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

How to:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients into a bowl - be sure that the oil and honey are well distributed
  3. Spread mixture on to a parchment lined baking sheet
  4. Bake for about 25 minutes - half way through the baking, stir around a bit to get even browning
  5. Let cool completely before putting into an air tight container -- as it cools the chunks of granola form
You don't have to follow this recipe exactly. Honestly, I emptied 2 mason jars, 2 baggies, and a box of currants left over from the holidays.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pistachio Vinaigrette

This recipe comes from Bon Apetit magazine. I saved the recipe from an issue earlier this fall. It's definitely a keeper. The vinaigrette is a little on the sweet side, so pairing it with salads containing fruit or goat cheese would be nice.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup ground, roasted, unsalted pistachios
How to:
  1. Whisk together oil, maple syrup, vinegar, and dijon mustard
  2. Slowly add the ground pistachios

Note: I used this vinaigrette on a arugula, fennel, and endive salad with chopped dried figs.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Shitake and Cabbage Dumplings

In celebration of Chinese New Year, I made some dumplings. It's been a long time since I have made dumplings from scratch, and they definitely reminded me of how delicious homemade dumplings are. I didn't follow a recipe for this and tried to pay attention to the quantities I used, but just play around. The recipe below made enough for about 25-30 dumplings. These turned out really good!


  • Half a head of cabbage
  • 10 - 15 shitake mushrooms
  • 3 chopped scallions
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • Wonton or dumpling wrappers
Dipping Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
  • 1 chopped scallion
How to:
  1. Shred the cabbage using the shredding attachment of a food processor.
  2. Grate the ginger and garlic (see note) and finely dice the scallions and mushrooms.
  3. Heat one tablespoon of sesame oil in a skillet and add the cabbage, ginger, garlic, mushrooms, and scallions. Saute for about 10 minutes, until the cabbage and mushrooms are soft. Set aside.
  4. While the filling is cooling, mix all of the dipping sauce ingredients together.
  5. Place 1-2 teaspoons of filling into a wonton wrapper - the amount will depend on the size of wrappers you use. Using your finger, wet half of the wonton edges with water - then fold over to seal.
  6. Heat the two tablespoons of canola and remaining sesame oil in a skillet. Make sure to use a skillet that has a lid. Add the dumplings (do not cover). Pan fry until golden brown. When the dumplings are brown, add the water and cover the skillet with the lid very quickly. Let steam for about 2 minutes.
Note: The key to making good dumplings at home is make sure the filling isn't too wet. You don't want it to cause the wrappers to break. Also, be conservative when you wet the edges of the dumplings. One other tip, using a microplane to finely grate the ginger and garlic is a good way to pack in the flavor.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cherry Sauce

My parents went on a trip to Door County, Wisconsin a few months ago. Door County is famous for its cherries. My parents gave me two quarts of cherries canned in their own juice. Not only did I have some cherries in my cabinet, I was trying to think of how to use the giant bottle of kirschwasser I had in my liquor cabinet from making fondue a couple of weeks ago. A minor dent was made in both the cherries and kirschwasser - I used about one pint of the cherries and 3 tablespoons of the brandy.

  • 1 1/2 cups of cherry juice (liquid in the jar)
  • 1 pint of jarred cherries
  • 1 tablespoon rice starch (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons kirschwasser
How to:
  1. Heat the cherry juice in a skillet, reserve 1 tablespoon of juice and reduce about half
  2. In a small cup, make a slurry with the remaining tablespoon of cherry juice and rice starch
  3. Mix the slurry into the skillet
  4. Once the starch is well incorporated, add the kirschwasser, slowly stir with metal spoon
  5. Continue heating the juice until the desired consistency is reached
  6. Add the cherries to the skillet, and remove from the heat

Notes: I poured the sauce over angel food cake. The sauce would be terrific over ice cream or crepes. I used rice starch, but corn starch would work just as well.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lemon Poached Cod with Olives

This dish couldn't be any easier. It takes less than 5 minutes and it's ready in 20. Quick and tasty!

  • 3 6oz cod fillets
  • Dry white wine
  • Lemon zest from 2 lemons
  • Apx. 1/2 cup of pitted mixed olives
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)

How to:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the cod fillets in a small baking dish
  3. Add enough white wine to the baking dish in order to cover half of the fish (apx. 1 cup)
  4. Sprinkle the lemon zest and olives around the fish
  5. Drizzle the olive oil on top of the fish fillets
  6. Salt and pepper to taste, and add the red pepper flakes if using
  7. Bake for 20 minutes - the fish should be opaque and flaky.
Note: I served the fish on top of cooked pearled barley. I cooked one cup of barley in 2 cups of water and added the juice from one of the zested lemons, some chopped parsley, and olive oil and salt to taste. I think if I make this dish again, I will add the juice of the lemon to the wine.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fabulous Find: Vodka & Chili Mustard

I am a big mustard fan - and have even gone as far as making my own brown mustard. I picked this variety up at the Mustard Museum in Mount Horeb, WI, but have seen it in a few other gourmet shops. This mustard is mildly spicy and does not have the traditional tang of a yellow, dijon or brown mustard. While the flavor of the mustard is great, it is the texture that won me over. The texture is very similar to caviar.

I recommend serving with delicate foods like lox so the texture and flavors shine.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Roasted Chickpeas

I was making some roasted chickpeas for a roadtrip snack, but I fix roasted chickpeas with cooked chard and some plain yogurt on a pretty regular basis. It's a great way to use chickpeas outside of hummus or a Moroccan stew.

  • 15.5 ounce can of rinsed chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon berbere
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F
  2. In a bowl mix all of the ingredients together
  3. Spread the chickpeas out on a aluminum lined baking sheet
  4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes

Note: I use the Ethiopian spice mixture berbere for this recipe. It has a nice combination of flavors and heat. There are many varieties of berbere, but if you can't find a pre-mixed one you can either make your own berbere, or substitute any other spices you would like.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Meringues are one of my favorite desserts - light, airy, not too sweet, and simple to make. I've used the same meringue recipe for many years, and can't recall its origin. These are great after a heavy meal (e.g. fondue!) or served with berries and cream.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 5 egg whites - at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional - see note below)

How to:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
  2. Heat water and sugar in a saucepan until it becomes a syrup (apx 235 - 240 degrees F)
  3. Whip the eggs on low until they form soft to medium peaks
  4. Add the cream of tartar
  5. While the mixer is still running, slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites.
  6. Add the teaspoon of almond extract
  7. Mix egg whites until stiff
  8. Using a spoon, dollop the mixture onto parchment lined cookie sheets.
  9. Bake for 2 hours. Once 2 hours is up, turn off the oven and let meringues continue to dry in the oven for another half hour.
The almond extract is optional. I often improvise and change the flavor of the meringues. Some of my favorite variations are Lemon - lemon extract and lemon zest - or Peppermint - peppermint extract and then when cool dipped in melted chocolate chips.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Blackberry and Cottage Cheese Tart with Hazelnut Crust

I love cottage cheese. Tim picked up some cottage cheese from the store, but accidentally one with high milkfat, which doesn't make a light midday snack. With perfectly good cottage cheese in the fridge and no one to eat it for a snack, I thought why not use it in a dessert?

I modified the tart dough from Martha Stewart's baking handbook by substituting 1/4 cup of flour out for 1/4 cup of ground hazelnuts and adding some lemon zest.

  • 6 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1/4 cup ground hazelnuts
  • Lemon zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • Lemon juice from half a lemon
  • 2 cups blackberries
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
How to:
  1. Starting with the dough, use an electric mixer and mix the powdered sugar and butter. Once its well incorporated add in the egg yolks and half of the flour. Slowly add the hazelnuts, the rest of the flour and lemon zest. Transfer the dough in plastic wrap and chill overnight.
  2. Roll chilled dough out on a liberally floured surface. Place dough in tart pan with a removable bottom and trim the dough around the edges. Dust the excess flour off of the dough with a pastry brush. Make a few fork pricks on the bottom and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  4. Place a piece of parchment paper (leaving about a one inch overhang) over the tart pan and fill with dried beans. Bake the crust for about 15 minutes, remove from the oven and remove the beans and parchment. Continue baking for another 15 minutes. Cool completely.
  5. For the filling, blend the cottage cheese, powdered sugar, and lemon juice (reserving 1 tablespoon for glaze) in a food processor until all smooth (about 30 seconds). Spread the mixture in the tart crust.
  6. Arrange blackberries in the tart.
  7. Heat the honey and remaining lemon juice just before it boils. Using a pastry brush, glaze the berries.
  8. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Leek and Fennel Flatbread with Arugula and Pecorino di Truffe

I was roaming the cheese aisle at Lunds over the weekend and came across Pecorino di Truffe. It immediately sent me back to the last time I had truffles. I had ordered a pizza with truffles and arugula at the Morges Tennis Club in Morges, Switzerland for my going away lunch. So using the pecorino on flatbread was a natural step at recreating some of the flavors of that lunch.

  • 2 Leeks
  • 1 Fennel bulb
  • 1 Bunch of arugula
  • Olive oil
  • Apx. 1/4 cup of white wine
  • 1 TB of white wine vinegar
  • Pecorino di truffe (or another hard Italian cheese)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1lb pizza dough

How to:
  1. Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees F.
  2. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Add sliced leeks and fennel. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until soft. Add the wine and sauté until the majority of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Roll out pizza dough on a bit of cornmeal. Drizzle the dough with olive oil. Add the leek and fennel mixture. Bake for about 10 minutes.
  4. While the flatbread is baking mix arugula with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. When the flatbread is out of the oven add arugula and slices of the pecorino.
Taste: It turned out really good! It make enough for 3 generous servings.

Notes: I have been on a bread baking kick since receiving Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day for Christmas. For this recipe I used the boule dough. Be sure bake for only 10 minutes - any longer and I think the leeks and fennel would have become a bit charred.