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.