Sunday, October 31, 2010

Apple-Cranberry Spiced Tart

2 Granny Smith apples
1½ C dried cranberries
1 C chopped dates
½ C dry white wine (or apple juice)
¼ C honey
¼ tsp ground allspice
¾ tsp ground cloves
1 C butter, room temperature
1 C brown sugar
2 egg yolks
2 Tbls molasses
2½ C flour
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
raw sugar

Peel, core and dice apples.

In a 2-3 quart pan over medium heat, combine apples, cranberries, dates, wine, honey, allspice, ¼ teaspoon cloves and ¼ cup water. Stir often until apples are soft and liquid has evaporated (10-12 minutes).

In a bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until well blended. Add egg yolks and molasses; beat until well combined. Add flour, ginger, cinnamon, salt and remaining ½ teaspoon cloves. Mix until incorporated into a stiff dough.

Roll one third of the dough out ¼ inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut into festive shapes. Divide remaining dough into six pieces to make six 4" tartlets, or in half to make two 8-9" tarts. Press dough over bottom and up sides of tart pans. (I used a springform pan -- I have only the one small tart pan. I'm sure a simple cake pan would work too, though it isn't as impressive for serving.)

Spoon fruit mixture into tart shells, spreading level. Top each tart with festive cookie shapes. Sprinkle with raw sugar. Set tartlets on a baking sheet.

Bake at 400° until pastry is lightly browned (20-25 minutes for tartlets, about 30 minutes for larger tarts - longer if it's thicker!). Cool 1 hour; remove pan rims.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chicken with Spicy Fruit

1¼ C pineapple juice
½ C pineapple
¼ C dried cranberries
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp crushed pepper flakes
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¼ C strawberry jelly
1 tsp cornstarch
2 green onions, chopped

In a large skillet, combine pineapple juice, pineapple, cranberries, garlic and red pepper flakes; bring to a boil. Add chicken. (I had chicken tenders, rather than breasts.) Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Remove chicken (keep warm).

Bring liquid to a boil and cook 5-7 minutes until reduced to 3/4 cup. Combine jelly and cornstarch; add to skillet. Boil and stir for 1 minute until thickened. Spoon over chicken; garnish with green onions.

Corn Fritters & Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

1¾ cup fresh corn kernels
¼ cup milk
2 scallions, coarsely chopped
1 C ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1 C flour
¼ C cornmeal
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
4 tbsp oil

In a food processor, purée ¾ cup of the corn kernels and milk until smooth; add scallions and pulse until finely chopped. Add ricotta, eggs, flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and pepper; pulse until combined. Transfer batter to a bowl; stir in the remaining 1 cup corn kernels.

Heat oven to 225°; place a large baking sheet in oven. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet. Drop corn batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into the hot skillet. Cook 2 1/2 minutes per side, until puffed and golden. Transfer to oven to keep warm while making remaining corn cakes.

Serve warm, with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (or Avacado Sauce*)

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
1 lg roasted red bell pepper, (either fresh or from a jar), peeled and seeded
1 slice white bread, crusts removed, torn into small pieces
1 Tbls mayonnaise
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Purée bell pepper, bread, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth. Pour into a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours before serving. Serve with corn fritters. I didn't have any bread, so I substituted bread crumbs; worked fine. :)

The original recipe also had an avacado sauce option. I don't do avacados, so I never saved that part of it. Improvise...avacado, lime juice, mayonnaise, salt & pepper...a guacamole type thing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Roasted Halibut with Garlic Sauce

Recipe says 'halibut' but I'm sure it'd taste good over cod, or salmon... And, just by way of a warning, I love this sauce, but, WOW! -- fish and garlic! The house does smell of it!

1½-2 lbs halibut fillet (1½" thick)
3 garlic cloves
2 Tbls olive oil
1/3 C mayonnaise
salt & pepper
lemon wedges (optional garnish)

Preheat oven to 450° with rack in middle.

Place fish in a greased shallow baking dish; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Force garlic through a garlic press and into a bowl; whisk in oil and a dash of salt. Whisk in mayonnaise. Spread over fish.

Bake, uncovered, until fish is just cooked through (10-15 minutes). Serve with lemon wedges.

Honey-Glazed Sweet Potato & Apple Casserole

4-5 sweet potatoes/yams
3 apples*
1 Tbls lemon juice
¼ C butter
1/3 C honey
¼ C apple juice
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp coarse ground salt

* Go tart or sweet to suit your taste. I love using honeycrisps, but granny smiths add a tart zing too.

Heat oven to 400°.
Roast potatoes on a baking sheet 45 minutes, until firm-tender; cool.
Remove potato skins, cut potatoes into ¼" thick slices. Peel, halve, and core apples; cut apples into ¼" thick slices.

Toss apples in a bowl with lemon juice.

Grease a casserole dish using some of the butter (or coat with non-stick cooking spray). In a small saucepan (or microwave safe bowl), combine honey, remaining butter, juice, allspice, and salt. Heat and stir until butter is melted and combined.

Heat oven to 375°.
Place potato and apple slices in casserole dish, in alternating rows or layers (see photo); drizzle honey mixture over the rows, or use it between layers. Bake 40 minutes, or until apples are tender. Using a bulb baster (or spoon) baste wtih honey mixture from bottom of casserole several times during baking.

Turn on broiler. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat source until edges of apples are golden (2-3 minutes). Mine got a little extra toasted! ...still tasted great!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkin Fudge (or Truffles)

I like pumpkin fudge; not often, but about once a year, in the fall it sounds good. We used to make it at a fudge shop where I worked during college.

1 C sugar
1 C brown sugar
½ C butter
1 C pumpkin purée
18 oz white chocolate*
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
graham cracker crumbs (for rolling truffles)

In saucepan combine sugars, evaporated milk, butter and pumpkin purée. Bring to a roiling boil over medium-high heat; boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; immediately add chocolate and spices, stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Fold in vanilla. Pour into lightly greased 9x13 pan. Let cool (or chill in frig) until set.

To make truffles...scoop and roll into 1" balls. Chill again, if needed; roll in graham cracker crumbs.

* White "baking morsels" are easy to come by in any grocery store. White "chocolate" isn't as available. Check the label and look for cocoa butter. I find it - in 'chip' form at Trader Joe's, but only off and on.

Pumpkin Pull-Apart Rolls

(recipe makes 2 dozen)

1½ C warm milk
2½ tsp yeast
2 Tbls brown sugar
1 Tbls salt
1 egg
¾ C canned pumpkin (or puréed squash)
5 Tbls shortening
4-5 C flour
2 Tbls butter, melted
2 tsp poppy and/or sesame seeds

In a large bowl, combine milk, yeast, sugar, and salt; let stand 5 minutes.

Add egg and beat well to combine. Add pumpkin and shortening, mixing until shortening is in small pieces. Add 1½ C flour and mix well. Gradually mix in more flour, a little at a time, until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl (you may not use all 5 cups of flour). Knead 2 minutes.

Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with a towel; let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (1 - 1½ hours).

Butter (or coat with non-stick cooking spray) a large baking sheet. Punch down dough; knead until dough is smooth and supple (7 minutes). Divide dough into 4 equal balls, then divide each ball into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a round; place rounds on baking sheet so they barely touch. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with poppy/sesame seeds. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°.
Remove plastic wrap; bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool, pull apart to serve.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Spiced Gingersnap Truffles

In my opinion, you can hardly go wrong with chocolate! Having said that, I'm not as impressed with this recipe as with the milk-chocolate spiced truffle recipe I've posted previously. This one's a bit simpler and quicker, but just not the same richness. The use of gingersnap cookies (which I had on hand from the Sweet & Tangy Chuck Roast) is what got my attention and made me want to try these truffles. The crunchie gingersnap crumbs do go soft quickly, so don't roll truffles until the day you plan to serve them. Rolling them in cookie crumbs, however, was a good reminder: no matter what the base truffle recipe, don't be afraid to get creative with what you dip or roll them in! :)

2 C semi-sweet chocolate pieces*
¼ tsp each: ground cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg
¼ tsp vanilla
½ C heavy whipping cream
1 C crushed gingersnaps, divided

In a medium microwave safe bowl combine chocolate pieces, spices, and vanilla.
Place whipping crean in a small microwave safe bowl; microwave until boiling (or place cream in a asmall saucepan and bring just to boiling).

Pour cream over chocolate mixture; let stand 3-5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. If needed, return to microwave for 10 seconds at a time until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Stir in ½ C crushed gingersnaps. Cover; refrigerate 2 hours or until firm, but soft enough to scoop and form into balls. Scoop and roll into balls. If needed, return to frig until firm again.

Place remaining crushed gingersnaps in a small bowl; roll truffles in crushed gingersnaps (or...roll in cocoa powder). Return to refrigerator untill firm.

Store, covered, in frig for up to a week. (Mine rarely last that long!) :)

* I didn't use chocolate chips - I keep "real" chocolate on hand! :) Chips will work--and as I said before, you can hardly go wrong with chocolate!--but the quality you put in is the quality you get out.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Beef-Ale Stew with Green-Onion Buttermilk Dumplings

Makes about 8 servings. I halved the recipe when I made it. The stew takes about 4 hours (only about an hour of active involvement); the dumplings about 40 minutes.

4 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1½" pieces
2 C plus 3 Tbls flour
3 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 Tbls vegetable oil
2 12 oz bottle ale
(or substitute beef broth)
2 large onions, thinly sliced
8 oz mushrooms, quartered
2 C baby carrots
(or equivalent, cut & sliced)
½ C thinly sliced green onion
(green part only)
½ tsp baking soda
4½ Tbls cold butter, cut in small pieces
3/4 C buttermilk
1 egg

In a large bowl, toss beef with 3 Tbls flour, 1 tsp salt, and the pepper. In a large pot over medium heat, heat 1 Tbls vegetable oil; add enough beef to form a single layer, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Brown the meat on all sides (about 7 minutes total). Transfer beef to a large bowl. Continue in batches until all beef is browned.

Add 1 bottle ale to pot, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Pour ale over beef and return empty pot to medium-high heat.

Add remaining 1 Tbls oil, onions, and 2 Tsp salt. Cook, stirring often, 2 minutes. Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have a hint of gold color (about 20 minutes).

Remove lid, raise heat to medium high; stir in 3 Tbls flour and cook, stirring often, 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, reserved beef and ale, remaining bottle of ale, and carrots. Bring to a boil. Cover and lowere heat to a gentle simmerl. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is tender (about 3 hours).

When I made this, the stew was very thick. Next time, I'll use more liquid whether it's ale, beef broth or a combination.

About 40 minutes before serving, make dumplings:
(this recipe makes plenty of dumplings)

In a medium bowl, stir together 2 C flour, green onions, 3/4 tsp salt, and baking soda. Using a pastry blender (or your fingers) work cold butter pieces into flour mixture until it resembles cornmeal with some pea-sized pieces.

Make a well in the center. In the well, carefully whisk together the egg and buttermilk. Gently fold in dry ingredients until just combined (it'll still be fairly lumpy). If needed, add more buttermilk, 1 Tbls at a time.

Gently form dough into 12-15 equal balls and drop into stew. Cover pot and cook 20 to 30 minutes, or until dumplings are fluffy and cooked through. Remove from heat; let sit 15 minutes before serving. Stew will thicken as it cools.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sweet Potato Fries

2-3 sweet potatoes
1/4 C olive oil
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425°.
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.

Peel the sweet potatoes an slice into 1/2" thick 'fries'.

Combine the oil, paprika and cinnamon in a resealable plastic bag. Add sweet potato slices an shake bag to coat the fries evenly. Spread the fries evenly in a single layer on the cookie sheet.

Bake 30 minutes, or until lightly browned, turning fries every 10 minutes.

Salt as desired. Serve warm.
I used coarse ground sea salt.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Herb Rolls

1 Tbls yeast
3 Tbls sugar (or honey)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbls each fresh minced parsley, dill, chives and rosemary
(I had fresh dill and chives,
but used dried parsley and rosemary)
2 Tbls melted butter
1 large egg
1 C milk or half & half
3 1/2 - 3 3/4 C flour
1 Tbls lightly beaten egg
1 Tbls coarse salt

Sprinkle yeast over 1/4 C barely warm water; let stand until dissolved (5 min). Stir in sugar, salt, herbs, butter, egg and milk.

Add 3 1/4 cups flour and stir to combine. Knead dough until elastic and not sticky (15 minutes), adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. Shape dough into 12 equal balls; place in a buttered 9x13" pan (or one coated with non-stick spray).

Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled (about 60 minutes). Preheat oven to 350°. Brush rolls with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake until deep golden, 25-30 minutes.

I'm sure you could get creative with the herb mixture and come up with endless variations!

Easy Adobo Chicken

Adobo is a Philippine dish that's traditionally made with pork and coconut milk -- in addition to a lot of the ingredients below. (Maybe someday I'll post a "real" adobo recipe.) This simplified version gives a very similar flavor in a quick recipe easier for everyday cooking. And since we're improvising here anyway, I used chicken tenders, instead of the thighs indicated in the recipe, because I had them on hand. :)

1 Tbls vegetable oil
6 skinless chicken thighs
3 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 C apple cider vinegar
1/3 C soy sauce
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Heat oil in a fry pan and cook chickeen until lightly browned on both sides (about 5 minutes each side). Set chicken aside, reserving 1 Tbls of pan drippings in the fry pan. Sauté garlic over low heat until soft (1 minute). Add the remaining ingredients and stir gently.

Return chicken to the pan and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to medium-low and cook 15-20 minutes longer, occasionally spooning sauce over chicken, until sauce thickens a little and chicken is tender and nicely glaced with sauce.

Remove bay leaf. Serve...with rice.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sweet & Tangy Chuck Roast

I don't like celery, so I increased the carrot and onion. I'd like to experiment with the recipe; it was okay, but certainly nothing to write home about. I'm not wild about the cookie crumbs. Some ginger and molasses in the mixture would bring in the same flavors...

6 2-inch gingersnap cookies
2 C peeled baby carrots
2 stalks celery
1 medium onion
1 C dry red wine
2 Tbls red wine vinegar
1/4 C raisins
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 lbs beef chuck roast
(I used elk meat for this one)

Prep: Crush ginger snaps into crumbs. Cut celery stalks into 2 inch pieces; cut onion into 1 inch chunks.

In a 4-6 quart slow cooker, combine cookie crumbs, carrots, celery, onion, wine, vinegar, raisins, salt and pepper. Place roast on top of vegetable mixture. Cover with lid and cook on low 8-10 hours, or high 6 to 6 1/2 hours, or until roast is tender.

Transfer roast onto a platter. Skim any fat off liquid. Serve with vegetables and sauce; serve with green salad and a crusty bread.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Maple Vinaigrette

1/4 C cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
1/4 C olive oil
3 Tbls maple syrup
1 Tbls Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp each salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; whisk.
Keep refrigerated. Stir or shake before serving.

Vietnamese Steak Noodle Salad

1 lb rib-eye steak
3 Tbls soy sauce
6 Tbls lime juice
1/4 C fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 red jalapeno chile
rice noodles
2 medium shallots
2 Tbls flour
vegetable oil
1/4 C each fresh dill, basil, mint & cilantro

Marinate steak in soy sauce; broil until done to your taste (rare - well done). Let rest 5 minutes, then slice thinly.

Meanwhile, halve and thinly slice jalapeno. In a bowl mix lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and jalapeno chile.

Cook rice noodles.

Coarsely chop dill, basil, mint and cilantro. Toss gently to mix.

Slice shallots thinly; toss in flour to coat. Fry in vegetable oil until golden and crispy.

Spoon some lime-chile dressing over a serving of rice noodles; top with sliced steak and chopped greens. Garnish with fried shallots. Serve with remaining dressing.

The fish sauce is the only relatively unusual ingredient here - though if you try many Asian recipes you'll run into it frequently. It's not hard to find in the Asian section of well-stocked supermarkets. Same with the rice noodles.
You could substitute a small onion for the shallots. The basil, mint, dill and cilantro are much better if they're fresh greens, although if you had three of the four fresh, you could throw in some dried dill weed or basil and still get the mix of flavors.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ginger Pear Muffins

2/3 C mild-flavor molasses
1/4 C butter, melted
1/4 C brown sugar
1 egg
1½ C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ C boiling water
2 small pears
4+ oz dark chocolate
raw sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.
Coat 12 muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray or line with cupcake papers.

Wash pears and pat dry. Cut into 6 wedges each, removing core. Break chocolate into small pieces.

Whisk together molasses, butter, brown sugar and egg. Add flour and spices all at once; stir until combined. Whisk in boiling water. Pour equal amounts into 12 muffin cups. Place 1 pear wedge in each muffin, pressing lightly.

Bake 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Add chocolate pieces to muffin tops; cool in pan on rack 10 minutes. Use a table knife to smooth melted chocolate. Sprinkle with raw sugar. Remove from muffin pan and cool completely.

Ethiopian Spice Crusted Chicken

This makes a fairly spicey coating. Delicious, but if you like milder flavors you may want to reduce the amount of spices (or increase the bread crumbs) to soften the flavor.

3/4 C bread crumbs
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cayenne
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp cardamom
olive oil
optional: lemon wedges

Combine bread crumbs and spices in a plastic baggie. Lightly brush chicken pieces with olive oil. Place chicken pieces in baggie with spiced bread crumbs; shake to coat. Bake in baking dish sprayed with non-stick coating at 350° (or fry) until chicken is completely cooked through and no longer pink.

Serve with lemon wedge garnish.

Serving suggestions: good with couscous, lentils, cucumber salad...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Crustless Quiche

1 Tbls butter
2+ Tbls bread crumbs
1 C chopped onions
1 C diced cooked ham (about 1/4 lb)
8 oz shredded Swiss cheese (2 C)
4 eggs
1 C heavy cream
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425°.
Butter a 10" quiche dish or pie plate; sprinkle with bread crumbs.
Cook onions and ham until golden brown and tender. Spread ham and onions in quiche dish. Whisk together eggs, cream, salt and pepper (as much/little as desired); pour over ham and onions. Sprinkle evenly with shredded cheese.

Bake 20-25 minutes until top is golden and custard is set in center. Cool slightly before cutting into wedges.