Sunday, January 28, 2007

Chocolate Meringue Cookies

After school on Friday, Keri was complaining that she didn't want to do something on Saturday and wouldn't survive. I told her if she survived, I'd make her chocolate cookies. So I made them yesterday, but since she didn't get home until late, gave them to her today. I didn't get to see if she liked them though since her doorbell rang and I was on my way to the grocery store.

The cookies are from this month's issue of Eating Well, without the cocoa nibs. I didn't follow the tip and freeze them, but they were better yesterday than today I think. They're really rich, something I don't expect from a meringue, and a bit more dense than a plain meringue cookie. They're studded with bits of chocolate that make for a nice crunch or explosion, depending on how long they'd cooled for. Plus, with pasteurized egg whites, I could eat the batter without worrying! (Well, for the most part. It's still probably not the best idea.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Baked Macaroni and Cheeses

This was one of those dishes I saw on TV and wanted to make, and actually figured would be easy enough. Granted, it came from a show hosted by a nutritionist but it was a macaroni and cheese with veggies, but that doesn't rub it in your face (like ones with tomatoes usually do.) It still looks like mac&cheese. (I did make it with rotini once, which made it look less like the standard mac&cheese, but I liked the way elbow macaroni stuck together better, which is what the recipe originally called for.)
It isn't as creamy as traditional mac and cheese is, with a thicker texture to the sauce, more like the thickness of a baked pasta with a tomato sauce, but it's still cheesy, with a strong mustard flavor. It's a good dish, but I know it definitely could be better, but I've mostly stuck with the recipe with just a few extremely minor diversions.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from Ellie Krieger's Macaroni and 4 Cheeses
serves 4

1/2 lb elbow macaroni
10-oz package frozen pureed winter squash
1 cup milk
2 ounces sharp white cheddar, grated (about 2/3 cup)
1 ounce striped jack cheese, grated (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375º.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook macaroni until not quite al dente, about 4-6 minutes. Drain and transfer to a colander or bowl.

Meanwhile, place the frozen squash and milk into a large saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, breaking up squash, until squash is defrosted. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture is almost simmering, stirring occasionally.
Remove the pan from heat and stir in the Cheddar, jack, ricotta, salt, mustard, and cayenne pepper. Mix pasta into cheese mixture and stir to combine. Transfer into a shallow 1 1/2 quart baking dish.

Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle over macaroni and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 2-4 minutes to brown top.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dad's Effective Chicken Noodle Soup

With both Mom and me being sick, Dad made a hearty chicken noodle soup for dinner.
After a day spent on the couch watching Gilmore Girls and sleeping (mom) and sitting in the chair reading United States of Arugula (me), it's just what the doctor ordered.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Idea by Me, Breakfast by Dad

While lying in bed Friday night, I was thinking about the contents of the fridge and what I could do for breakfast. We had spinach. A lot of spinach, so I figured I could base breakfast on that. And eggs. (Probably my top two favorite ingredients for breakfasts). I also knew there was a pepper, and mozzarella.
Unfortunately, my nose was in need of constant attention. So I told Dad my idea, put the ingredients on the counter for him (turned out the mozzarella was moldy, but there was shredded cheddar cheese), and went back to attending to my nose. Breakfast went in a slightly different direction, with the addition of onions and garlic which I somehow managed to ignore in my nighttime planning.
I'm pretty sure it turned out yummier with Dad cooking though.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tangelo Pork Stir-Fry

Today was an all-out-in-your-face-citrus day. I came to the kitchen table this morning and as I was finding the page in the magazine with tonight's recipe, Mom pulled out the Good Eating section of the paper, graced with images and a centerspread dedicated to citrus. It just so happened to correspond with the day that I planned on trying another recipe out of the same magazine the failed one on Monday came from. But this one used tangelos, so and is part of the in-season citrus spread.
I had a tangelo for the first time last year when I saw some at the grocery store and figured I'd give them a try. Their lack of seeds, easiness to peel, and sweetness made them a regular in my lunch for a month or so. I haven't had any this year, as I've been apple-obsessed (which is odd because I've never really liked apples all that much.)

I guess my head cold is just begging me to go after citrus!

The stir-fry was nice, with a bite that came from the citrus. It is something I'll make again, and probably stray from the recipe, making the zest strips finer than I cut them this time, using a bit more crushed red pepper, and probably some more celery and bell pepper since Dad didn't find it to be substancial enough of a meal.
And I'll serve it alongside rice with flavor-I forgot to salt it. Rice is not something I make frequently.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Edamame Stew

Last night I made a recipe from this month's issue of Eating Well. Mom and I liked it, but Dad didn't like it. He said it lacked flavor, except for the cumin and an overly acidic taste. I won't be making it again.
I also made a bulgur pudding for dessert. More on that later. It's finals right now and I need to stop putting off studying.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Almonds, Honey, and I don't want to study...

I misplaced the piece of paper I jotted down the ingredients on. All I remember is that Dad loves them, and it involves almonds, honey, salt, chili powder, cinnamon, and cayenne. And an oven.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Chicken Thighs with Yellow Split Peas and Fruit

Dad can always whip up a spectacular meal. He starts cooking in between football games while Mom and I run off to go grocery shopping on a Sunday evening, and as we leave. tells us a few things to pick up. This week it was chicken thighs and dried apricots.
Mom and I came home and sat down to a two-course meal. After the pesto shrimp with spaghetti, he served chicken served over yellow split-peas as well as apples, dried apricots (he accused me of buying figs), carmelized onion, and carrots.

Apple-Oat Muffins

These would have to be my favorite muffins. They're moist, chewy from the oats, occasional caverns of brown sugar, and soft apple. I usually try to keep some in the freezer since I tend to make muffins in the afternoons. They're yummy alone, or if you like toppings, with some peanut butter.
I find it easier to use 8 oz. containers of plain yogurt than to measure it out after I spilled a full 32 oz. container all over me once, but yesterday I couldn't find an 8 oz container of plain yogurt at Whole Foods.

Apple-Oat Muffins
adapted from Vegetarian Times March '06
makes 10
2 1/2 cups finely diced apples (about 2 or 3 medium apples, my favorites to use are granny smith, though they seem fine with any apple)
1 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup rolled (old-fashioned) oats
2/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/4 teaspoons wheat germ (optional)

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat the 10 cups of a standard-size muffin tin with cooking spray. Fill remaining two halfway with water.
Place apples on paper towels to drain, pat dry.
Combine flours, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Whisk together. If small lumps of sugar remain, that's fine. It makes it even better.
In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, milk, oil, vanilla extract, and egg until smooth.
Make a well in center of flour mixture, stir in milk mixture just until moist. Mix in apple.
Using a #10 scoop, scoop mixture into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle tops with wheat germ. Bake 15-20 minutes or until muffins spring back lightly when touched. Remove from pan to cool.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Last night, Dad and I had one of our date nights. He wanted to take me to Blackbird, so I made reservations a couple of days ago. I thought my online reservations didn't go through because it kept telling me to go back and select a time, so I finally called them to make one. I accidentally made three reservations, but found out and canceled two when they called to confirm.

When I first walked in I was impressed by the clean lines of the place. I understood what Mom meant when she described it as a bit loud. The tables were close together and it was a bit difficult to hear my dad at times.

First there was amuse, which I am not quite sure what it was because neither Dad nor I heard/understood what it was when it was presented to us. Dad didn't think I should take pictures (I did have my pink camera with me.) I think it was a bacon mustard sauce with fish (salmon?), apples, and fresh dill. Whatever it was, it was good.

To start with I ordered the warm organic sunburst trout with meyer lemon, pickled beets, wild arugula, and chorizo bread crumbs. The plate presentations are wonderful. It was in an oval shaped platter with the sauce (a light citrusy aioli, possibly) on one side and the thinly sliced pickled beets, with the trout with the bread crumbs on top of that, which was topped with the lemon and arugula. My first bite was a bit too peppery, but after that I have no complaints. I was worried about the pickled beets because I hear pickled and I think torshi (Iranian pickled vegetables), which I do not like. I didn't notice the chorizo and completely forgot there was even any in the dish until looking up the name of it just now.
Dad ordered the seared maine diver scallops with roasted chestnuts, moonglow pears, smoked bacon, and saba. He seemed to enjoy it. I had a bite of the scallop with the pears, but I'm not a big fan of the flavor of larger scallops (bad experience of eating too many years ago), but the pear was nice and thinly sliced.

For dinner I ordered the sauteed walleyed pike with butternut frites, radicchio, green apples, hickory nuts and sorrel. I had difficulty ordering because its difficult to be adventurous and know if you will like it or not. I went with the pike despite the waitress suggesting the sturgeon because I prefer flakier fish over meatier ones. I've never had hickory nuts or sorrel as far as I know, so my dish was pretty much a bunch of new flavors for me. And I didn't like them all. I wasn't sure if something was wrong, or if it was my taste. It was my taste. Dad tried some and said they tasted right. I learned I don't like cooked radicchio (it becomes too bitter for my liking). Same with hickory nuts. Dad said that the pike was a bit overcooked, but I don't know enough about fish to be able to tell, and I thought it was delicious with a nice crispy outside, but it was still wonderfully moist and flaky. The only complaint (other than not knowing that I don't like cooked radicchio or hickory nuts) would have to be that a few bites were too salty, but not too many.
Dad had the grilled organic veal tenderloin and veal sausage with local turnips, dandelions, apricot chutney and px sherry vinegar. I didn't try much of it, but he didn't say anything bad about it. I only tried the chutney, which was very rich and not overly sweet.

And then of course we had to have dessert, which was a very difficult choice because they all sounded good and none of them had multiple things I'd never had in them so I knew for the most part they weren't things I don't like (the problem with being a picky eater), but after seeing the table next to us have dessert when we arrived, I knew to have no idea what to expect. We finally decided on toasted pinenut 'pain de gene' with quince, saffron, and yogurt sorbet. The cake part of it was deliciously moist and nutty with a hint of saffron, the quince was so beautifully sliced and arranged, the saffron really came through in the sauce, the yogurt sorbet was a lot better than it sounds (it was the iffy part to me), deliciously creamy and not too sweet but sweet enough to balance out the nuttiness of the rest of the dessert. The toasted pine nuts crunched and melted with each bite. The dessert is the only part of dinner that I have no complaints about (most of which relates to salt/pepper and personal dislike of certain flavors).

When we left, around 8:30 or so, the place was completely packed, including the bar with people waiting.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Banana Birthday Brownies

My cousin Colin really likes bananas, so for his birthday, after deliberating between different banana-containing items, decided on making banana brownies, since I figured they'd be the easiest to get to him: they wouldn't require refrigeration (which ruled out puddings, cream pies, and banana splits) or need to be served immediately (anything bruleed, which ruled out bruleed banana tarts, bananas foster; or tarts, which would discolor). Hopefully I'll actually be able to deliver them. Though since I am putting off my homework by making these, it may take a few days.

Banana Birthday Brownies

1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter cut into tablespoons, plus more to grease foil
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2-3 bananas, sliced crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices (about 36)
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350º. Put water in saucepan on stove to come to a simmer. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang. Butter foil.

In a small bowl whisk cocoa powder and flour together.

Place chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Stir occasionally until just melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in sugar and salt until smooth; whisk in eggs. Gently whisk in flour and cocoa powder just until smooth. Do not overmix.

Spread 1/3 of batter into prepared pan. Arrange banana slices in single layer. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar and chocolate chips. Top with remaining batter and smooth. Bake until toothpick in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes.

Cool completely in pan and remove using foil. Peel off foil and cut into 16 (2x2) squares.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Pancakes with Bourbon Pecan Sauce

Mom was thrilled when she saw the issue of Cooking Light sitting in the recently unlost cookbook stand open to the page with a picture of the Bourbon Pecan Sauce and was dissapointed to hear I wasn't planning on making it. But since its birthday week, I gave it a try for her. And it was not dissapointing. It has 8 thumbs up (there weren't any more thumbs in the room.) Maddy even wanted the recipe so her mom could make it sometime. The sauce would also taste great over ice cream.

Bourbon Pecan Sauce
adapted from Dec. 2006 Cooking Light, pg 174
makes 1 - 1 1/2 cups

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon bourbon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine sugars and water in a small saucepan over medium high-heat, stirring constantly until sugars dissolve and it no longer looks grainy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Lower heat to a medium-low and cook until mixture is bubbly and thickened, about 5 minutes.

Carrot-Ginger Soup with Coconut Shrimp

Carrot-Ginger Soup with Coconut Shrimp
adapted from recipe by Corbin Evans in Food&Wine
Serves 4 as a first course

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots (about 1/2 lb), chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 - 2 tablespoons lime juice (juice from half of a lime)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons smooth peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup milk
1 oz (2 tablespoons) coconut milk
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
12 small shrimp, shelled
3 tablespoons shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 425º. In a large saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, ginger, and crushed red pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil, then simmer until the carrots are very tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, peanut butter, and sesame oil. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Stir in milk and coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Toss the shrimp with the coconut and remaining two teaspoons of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a cast iron plate or parchment lined baking sheet and roast in oven for 5 minutes or until pink. Pour soup into warmed bowls and garnish each with three of the shrimp.