Sunday, June 29, 2008
Last Tuesday night I went to an Adult Ballet class with my friend Marion. We decide to go several weeks ago and my excitement grew everyday as we waited for the summer session to start. I ordered a leotard, tights and ballet shoes and eagerly awaited the first day of ballet class. I was ready for this adventure, or so I thought.........
I was on Dance team in High School and I like to think I have a substantial amount of rhythm. And I have always been able to hold my own on any dance floor. I have never felt like dancing was one of my weak points and I figured ballet would be a breeze. However, I quickly learned that being a good dancer when dancing to songs that reference 'boots with the fur" and "pimp juice" have nothing to do with ballet. On Tuesday night it mattered none how many choreographed routines I had in my back pocket to "Proud Mary" as I immediately realized that I was out of my element. I knew I was in trouble when the teacher defined the class as an "intermediate" level. Intermediate? I was a beginner! Weren't we going to start with the five ballet positions? I had spent the hour before the class studying them on the Internet after all. The teacher didn't only skip over first through fifth position but she conducted the class mainly in French and at a very fast pace. I spent an hour and a half missing steps, sweating my butt off and having to do turns across the floor in front of strangers who probably thought I was mildly retarded. As I drove home from the class I felt defeated. I had no idea what I had gotten myself in to. I don't like being bad at things and I certainly wasn't comfortable feeling like a failure.
I had to do something and I had to do it quick. I couldn't wallow in this catastrophe any longer. I arrived home, rushed through the door, shed my leotard, tights and failed attempts and hurried into the kitchen. I needed to cook - I was good at that! I prepared a meal I had been wanting to try for a long time. And it was really good! A success - finally! And being back home with Forrest was just what I needed - I knew that he could care less if I knew what a tendu was or if I could pirouette. As long as I could put delicious food on the table he would always be proud of me!
Herbed Goat Cheese and Proscuitto Shrimp
Recipe Courtesy of Emeril Lagasse
12 tablespoons Goat cheese
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chervil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Salt and pepper
12 large shrimp, peeled, tail-on and butterflied
12 thin slices of proscuitto (I used six slices and cut them vertically down the middle to make 12 strips and I was glad I did because it would have been too salty otherwise)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Drizzle of white truffle oil
In a mixing bowl, blend the cheese, herbs and garlic together. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. ****( I used Garlic and Herb Goat Cheese from Trader Joe's and skipped this step and saved on the fresh herb ingredients)*** Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Press one tablespoon of the filling in the cavity of each shrimp.
Wrap each shrimp tightly with one piece of proscuitto.
In a saute pan heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the stuffed shrimp and sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until the shrimp turn pink and their tails curl in towards their body.
Remove from the pan and place on a large plate. Drizzle the shrimp with truffle oil. Garnish with parsley.
This meal was very delicious although I wouldn't serve it as a main course again. The flavor of the goat cheese and the proscuitto where both very strong. They were very rich and after two of them they became overpowering. They would be a perfect h'orderve or an appetizer at a dinner party.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Several weeks ago I wrote about how Shape magazine hasn't published any recipes that interested me and I was even considering not renewing my subscription because of it. Well after that post I chose not to renew my subscription due to the recipe disappointment and the fact that after collecting the magazine for several years I feel I have an arsenal of pages to go to for fitness advice if I should need it (which I don't plan on it since I have a new form of exercise I will tell you about in a future post). So as the endless "This is your last chance to renew" postcards came in the mail I discarded them all officially saying goodbye to Shape magazine after a long five year relationship.
Low and behold, just like everything else in life - you don't miss it until it's gone! As I sat in the pedicure chair (I apologize to anyone who is opposed to thinking about my feet and food at the same time) yesterday and thumbed through the salon's magazines I stumbled across the newest issue of Shape. Not only was Julianne Hough, my favorite member of Dancing with the Stars, on the cover but I came across a recipe that looked to die for! I briefly thought about ripping the page out of the magazine but knew I would be too riddled with guilt to enjoy the meal if I went that route. So I came home and scoured the internet until I found the recipe. And I am so glad that I did. This recipe was really delicious. It was so fresh and light and had a huge emphasis on the flavor of the fresh herbs. It would be perfect served alfresco with a glass of white wine. It is an awesome healthy summer dish that incorporates three of my favorite ingredients - Artichokes, Mushrooms and Corn!
Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Artichoke Puree & Roasted-Corn & Tomato Topping
Shape July 2008
For the Artichoke Puree:
3/4 cup artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 clove garlic
For the Corn-Tomato Topping:
2 large tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 2 cups)
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 ears corn, in their husks
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
For the Mushrooms:
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 large portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed
sea salt (optional)
Place the artichoke hearts, oil, thyme, garlic, and a small pinch of salt in a blender and pulse until smooth. Add more salt to taste. Set aside. (I added a sprinkle of fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for extra flavor and highly recommend it!)
Preheat the grill to medium heat. Meanwhile, place tomatoes in a bowl and drizzle with oil. Add garlic (if using), basil, and parsley and toss gently to combine. Set aside.
When grill is hot, cook the corn, turning frequently, about 10 minutes, or until husks are charred and pulling away from cobs. Let stand until cool, then strip husks and remove silk by rubbing with a dish towel. Cut kernels off cob and toss them with tomato mixture; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
While the corn is cooling, grill the mushrooms. Pour oil into a small dish. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of each mushroom with oil. Place mushrooms on grill, gill side down, for about 8 minutes. Flip mushrooms and continue grilling for 6-8 minutes more, or until edges begin to brown. Lightly sprinkle with salt, if desired.
On a large serving platter, place mushrooms gill side up and spread artichoke puree over them.
Top with corn-tomato topping and serve.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
When I planned my weekly menu for this week, I decided I would do an easy dinner one night and have breakfast for dinner. Eggs, pancakes and bacon - it would be a simple meal and I wouldn't have to worry about recipes or tons of ingredients. Well when I planned this meal I had no idea how drastically my week would change. I found out some very exciting work news yesterday. News I had been waiting for a very long time for that was an extremely big deal. The announcement was in our favor and very thrilling. Naturally I celebrated the news with everyone else at work that it affected during happy hour yesterday. But tonight was my night to celebrate with Forrest and eggs and bacon just didn't seem like celebration food. I didn't feel like making a trip to the grocery to purchase what I would consider celebration food (steak or seafood) so I found a recipe to spruce up my original breakfast for dinner plans.
BAKED EGGS AND MUSHROOMS IN HAM CRISPS
Gourmet Magazine February 2002
3/4 lb mushrooms, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
12 slices Black Forest or Virginia ham (without holes; 10 oz)
12 large eggs
Garnish: fresh thyme leaves
Accompaniment: buttered brioche or toast
Special equipment: a muffin tin with 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Cook mushrooms and shallot in butter with salt and pepper in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat, stirring, until mushrooms are tender and liquid they give off is evaporated, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and thyme.
Assemble and bake:
Fit 1 slice of ham into each of 12 lightly oiled muffin cups (ends will stick up and hang over edges of cups).
Divide mushrooms among cups
and crack 1 egg into each. Bake in middle of oven until whites are cooked but yolks are still runny, about 15 minutes.
Season eggs with salt and pepper and remove (with ham) from muffin cups carefully, using 2 spoons or small spatulas.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
About a month ago, my sister & niece visited us in
2 medium onions, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound lean ground beef
1 (14.5-oz.) can basil, garlic, and oregano diced tomatoes
2 (6-oz.) cans tomato paste
1 (8-oz.) can basil, garlic, and oregano tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
12 lasagna noodles, uncooked (I only used 10)
8 cups boiling water
1 (16-oz.) container ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 (6-oz.) packages part-skim mozzarella cheese slices (I used almost 2 8-oz. packages)
Garnish: chopped fresh parsley
1. Sauté onion in 1 Tbsp. hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Add beef, and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until beef crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain beef mixture, and return to skillet. Stir in diced tomatoes, next 4 ingredients, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf; set meat sauce aside.
2. Place lasagna noodles in a 13- x- 9-inch pan. Carefully pour 8 cups boiling water and remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil over noodles. Let stand 15 minutes.
3. Stir together ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, and remaining 1/4 tsp. pepper until blended.
4. Spoon half of the meat sauce mixture in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Shake excess water from noodles, and arrange 6 noodles over meat sauce; top with half of ricotta mixture and 1 package mozzarella cheese slices. Repeat layers once.
5. Bake, covered, at 350° for 55 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until bubbly. Let lasagna stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish, if desired.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
So although I never patronize a Mexican establishment, I do cook several Mexican inspired dishes in my home as long as the recipe doesn't call for one of the above ingredients or I can eliminate it without altering the dish too drastically. When I came across the following recipe I knew I would enjoy it and it would be fun to create and it was!
Cooking Light July 2007
2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers, divided
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 (11-ounce) can tomatillos, drained (I couldn't find this so I used canned Salsa Verde)
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Preheat oven to 375°.
Combine chicken, green onions, 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, Parmesan, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.
Place milk and next 3 ingredients (through chiles) in a food processor or blender;
process until smooth.
Heat tortillas according to package directions. Pour 1/3 cup tomatillo mixture into bottom of an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 corn tortillas in dish, and top with half of chicken mixture.
Repeat layer with remaining tortillas and chicken mixture, ending with tortillas. Pour remaining 1 1/2 cups tomatillo mixture over tortillas; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until bubbly.
This meal was so easy since it required you to use an already cooked Rotisserie Chicken. It was basically just assembling the ingredients in an orderly fashion. Both Forrest and I really enjoyed this dish. It was very flavorful and very spicy!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
The last time I made a recipe with Prosciutto my mom called me after I posted it and stated that it looked like I made my pasta with raw meat. I explained to her that prosciutto was in actuality raw meat (it is a dry cured ham), but my justification still didn't change her mind on whether or not she thought it looked appetizing. I appreciate her honesty and am all about constructive criticism.....when it doesn't have to do with prosciutto. I would normally stray away from something that doesn't look appetizing, but I will never stray from prosciutto. I couldn't let my mom's comment be a deterrent. Prosciutto is too delicious! So when I came across the following recipe I knew I had to give it a try. We are big panini fans in this household and paninis with prosciutto are my favorite.
Since I received my panini grill I have made several grilled sandwiches and all of my practice is starting to pay off. I am figuring out techniques that result in the best panini possible. Some of the things I have learned:
1. Shredded Cheese melts easier than sliced cheese
2. If you chose a bread that has the crust exposed to the grill pan you will have more trouble melting the cheese and the bread will get much harder. The bread I chose for today's panini is the perfect solution.
3. Putting the setting on Medium allows the ingredients to melt better without burning the bread.
This was by far my most favorite panini yet. The balsamic vinegar sprinkled on the arugula lent for delicious flavor and the bread absorbed the melted cheese for a flawless consistency.
Prosciutto and Fontina Panini
Cooking Light January 1996
1 (5.25-ounce) package focaccia (Italian flatbread) (I used Tuscan Pane from TJ's)
8 very thin slices prosciutto (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded fontina cheese
1 cup trimmed arugula or watercress
2 (1/8-inch-thick) red onion slices, separated into rings (I omitted this from our sandwiches)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Slice each bread round in half horizontally. Divide prosciutto slices between bottom halves of bread, and top each bread half with fontina cheese, arugula, and red onion slices. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over sandwiches, and sprinkle with pepper;
cover with top halves of bread.
Wrap sandwiches tightly in aluminum foil, and bake at 300° for 15 minutes. (I grilled mine on the Panini Grill)
Yeilds 2 Servings
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I adore her magazine and the ideas inside it and I draw a great amount of inspiration from it every month. This month's issue had some amazing recipes which included a Flag Cheesecake (rest assured that you will be seeing this recipe on my blog come the Fourth of July), a Panini Bar and this blog entry's feature - Grilled Lamb Shoulder with Herb Aioli. Forrest and I both love Lamb and this recipe seemed so simple and the perfect solution to a weeknight meal that I could quickly throw together after a long day at work.
Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops with Herb Aioli
Martha Stewart Living - July 2008
- 1 large egg
- 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 lamb shoulder chops (I used boneless lamb loin b/c I couldn't find shoulders)
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
- Using an immersion blender or a food processor, combine egg, garlic, and herbs.
- With the machine running, pour in oils in a slow, steady stream, blending until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a dish, press plastic wrap on surface, and refrigerate while lamb is cooking.
- Preheat grill to medium-high. Season lamb with salt and pepper,
- and grill to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare.
- Serve with aioli and lemon wedges.
This meal was really good. I thought the lemon sounded like a strange addition but it really rounded out the aioli and was an essential component of the recipe. Make sure you squeeze a litttle lemon juice over your aioli to finish it.
Monday, June 16, 2008
My friend Jo just returned from a trip to Italy and she brought me the most colorful souvenir I have ever received! This isn't your run of the mill souvenir like a t-shirt, pencil or a key chain. She brought me back an apron from Florence. Now I understand that this might not seem so unusual. An apron seems like a fitting gift for a food blogger. But this isn't your typical apron - it has a life size image of the David from the neck down on the front of it. For anyone that is having trouble creating a mental image, feel free to Google images of The David to help you out. It is hysterical! However it is not G rated enough for me to photograph myself wearing it for my blog that is frequented by my father and several sets of our grandparents.
I wanted to show my appreciation for my very funny souvenir from Jo so I decided to cook a traditional Italian dish donning my non-traditional souvenir that boast a full frontal of the most recognizable stone sculpture in the history of art.
Recipe Courtesy of Cathy Lowe
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup flour, on a shallow plate
2 eggs, lightly beaten, in a pie plate
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups prepared tomato sauce
1 ball of fresh mozzarella thinly sliced
Place chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound out to 1/2" thickness using a mallet or rolling pin. Combine bread crumbs, 1/4 cup parmesan, oregano, basil and cayenne in a pie plate. Coat each breast in the flour, shaking off any excess flour. Dip each breast in the egg and then into the bread crumb mixture. Set coated chicken aside on a plate.
Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Carefully add chicken to pan, cooking three pieces at a time. Cook until golden on both sides.
Spread one cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish and top with golden chicken breasts. Top each breast with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and top with layers of mozzarella cheese. Bake in a 375 degree oven
for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Serve hot with whole wheat spaghetti and tomato sauce
I once heard Giada say on Everyday Italian that Chicken Parmesan is not something Italians in Italy would eat. She said they eat Eggplant Parmesan but Chicken Parmesan was really an Italian American dish. I am going to take her word for it, but I still consider Chicken Parmesan very Italian and I think it fit the bill for my homage to Italy. Thanks again Jo!
Sunday, June 15, 2008
One of my faithful readers (yes Kevin, I have readers) Gabriela sent me the most lovely email today. Her husband Alan recreated Jumbie in their own home and they were very pleased with the results. From what I understand, Alan is quite the chef as well and he tweaked my mom's recipe a bit and was happy with the outcome. They even snapped a picture (above) of their finished product and it is a very beautiful one I might add! Thanks Gabriela for your faithful readership!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I did not want to tell my gracious host that his recipe was poisoning me so out of desperation I invented secret dinner. Secret dinner is when you are going to eat at someone's house and you know you don't want to eat what they have prepared so you stop off on the way to the dinner and get another meal. It is usually a small somewhat insignificant meal in order to allow you to still be able to eat enough of the real meal to not appear rude. Secret dinner saved me from several sleepless meat sauce nights filled with pain and suffering. After the creation of the secret dinner, I have shared the theory with some very fortunate loved ones who have since participated in the practice with me. It has evolved to encompass eating before a particularly light meal at someone's home or a meal that is served much later than you are accustomed to eating dinner. Although it might sound like a very despicable and gluttonous practice I hope you find compassion in understanding its origin and if that still doesn't do it then you must understand how crazy I get if I don't eat!
So what does all of this have to do with Corn and Crab Salad? I prepared this meal this week for my friend Melanie. And although we both though it tasted fine it didn't blow my socks off. It was not filling and it wasn't at all delicious. I found the dressing to be very bland and it didn't have much of anything to really hang its hat on. Later that night when Forrest asked how was the salad I told him it was "secret dinner worthy". Having shared in many a secret dinner with me - he knew exactly what I was talking about!
Crab, Corn, and Tomato Salad with Lemon-Basil Dressing
Cooking Light June 2008
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 pound lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices ripe beefsteak tomato (eliminated this due to the tomato drama happening this week)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1. Combine rind, 3 tablespoons juice, and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons juice mixture. Add remaining 2 tablespoons juice, corn, and next 4 ingredients (through crab) to remaining juice mixture; toss gently to coat.
2. Arrange 2 tomato slices and 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes on each of 4 plates. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon reserved juice mixture over each serving. Top each serving with 1 cup corn and crab mixture. (I added avocado slices to liven it up a bit)
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Heat oil in the bottom of a heavy stockpot and add yellow onion and green bell peppers until softened. Then add green onions and garlic. Once all vegetables have softened add tomato sauce, water, rice and sausage.
Bring to a boil. Add shrimp and reduce heat to a simmer
and cook covered for 25 minutes. Stir frequently or infrequently ( I obviously have no idea , you would need to ask my mom) during cooking. Salt and Pepper to taste. In the last five minutes of cooking, add 3 tsp of dried parsley flakes.