Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lemon Braised Rainbow Chard with Sesame Edamame

I found a beautiful bunch of Rainbow Chard with hot pink stems at the new Fort Mason Farmer's Market a couple of Sundays ago, and then read a few recipes before deciding on this combination. It was so fresh and delicious that I ate the whole pan-full for dinner, but it would also be great as a side with some grilled or broiled salmon fillets--remember to squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the fish too!

1 bunch Rainbow Chard (or Swiss Chard)
1/2 to 3/4 cup shelled Edamame (soya) beans,
thawed or heated through*
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 glove garlic, minced
1 Tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tsp toasted sesame seeds
or black sesame seeds
Extra virgin Olive Oil
Salt & pepper

*Note: If you can't find shelled Edamame beans, just steam your Edamame pods until tender and remove the seeds before stir frying.

Chop stem ends off chard and discard. Keep 1-2 inches of stem for color and texture and chop those up separately from the chard leaves. Chop the leaves into long ribbons by bunching leaves up and slicing across the bunch horizontally. Heat a few good glugs of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to oil and cook until starting to brown. Add stems and stir-fry until slightly tender (2-3 mins). Add the Edamame beans and chard leaves and stir-fly an additional 1-2 mins, or until leaves start to wilt. Be careful not too cook too long or leaves will lose their bright green color.

Remove from heat and toss with sesame seeds & lemon juice. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thai Style Crab & Udon Noodle Stir Fry

7.5 oz package ready-to-wok udon noodles
3-4 oz. fresh crab (claw meat) - available in seafood dept. or in refrigerator case at Trader Joe's
3 green onions/spring onions stalks, chopped
1 c. snow peas, trimmed and chopped in 1/2
1/2 t. minced garlic
4 oz. (1/2 jar) Trader Joe's Satay Peanut Sauce or other quality Thai-Style satay sauce
dried red pepper flakes
fresh cilantro/coriander, finely chopped
1 lime
vegetable or canola oil for stir frying

Super easy one pot meal! Heat oil over medium flame and add onions, garlic & red pepper flakes. Once garlic starts to brown slightly, add snow peas and noodles. Heat through then add crab and Satay peanut sauce until mixed through. Removed from heat and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve with wedges of lime to squeeze juice over noodles. Enjoy!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes & Spicy Remoulade-style Sauce

1 c. buttermilk
1 large egg
5 large green tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch slices*
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
6 tsp cayenne pepper (use less if you like less spicy)

*Note: Green tomatoes are sort of unripened heirloom tomatoes and can be difficult to find, especially outside the summer months--ask for them at your local farmer's market or green grocer.
Combine egg & buttermilk in a small bowl. Combine all remaining ingredients (except tomatoes) in a separate bowl. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Heat vegetable oil about 1/2" deep in a deep-sided frying pan (to about 375 degrees Fahrenheit if you have a thermometer).

Next, taking one tomato slice at a time, dip the slice first into the buttermilk mixture, then into the cornmeal mixture, pressing firmly to ensure good coating with cornmeal. Gently drop the covered slice into the hot oil (it should begin bubbling around the edges immediately). Repeat with 2-3 more slices per batch. Fry until crisp (about 60-90 seconds per side), flipping them over once during cooking. Place on baking sheet in oven to keep warm and serve immediately with Remoulade Sauce (see below) for dipping.

Remoulade-Style Dipping Sauce
3 oz Heinz Chili Sauce
3 oz Best Foods Olive Oil Mayonnaise
1 tsp prepared horseradish

New Posts Coming Soon~

Sorry it has been awhile....job hunting here in California has been very time consuming.....but I'm all moved into a new apartment for awhile and can start whipping up a few fun new things now....

Coming up.....

Fried Green Tomatoes & Spicy Remoulade-style Sauce
Thai Style Crab & Udon Noodle Stir Fry
Lemon Braised Rainbow Chard with Sesame Edamame

I will be posting soon..... :)


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mediterranean Couscous with White Beans

I found this recipe in my sister's kitchen cupboard, and the notes say it came from our mom, so I figured it would be delicious, and it was! This recipe is super flexible and would be great to try variations on, so you can omit any ingredients you don't love and try adding in anything you think sounds good. I added some chopped avocado to my leftovers on day 3 and it was extra-delicious! Now that tomatoes are in season, it's the perfect time to try this--great for picnics!

1 5.8 oz box of NEAR EAST Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil Couscous Mix
(any standard box of garlic flavored couscous will work)
1 15 oz./425g can of navy beans or other small white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup (180ml) cucumber, peeled and seeded and chopped (about 1 cucumber)
1/2 cup (120ml) black olives, finely chopped
1/2 cup (120ml) green/spring onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp snipped fresh dill or 1 tsp dried dill weed
6 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1. Prepare couscous according to package directions, using olive oil rather than butter. Transfer couscous to a large bowl. Fluff; let cool 10 minutes.
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix well, tossing with a fork. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Makes 6 cups (1500 ml).

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Creme Brulee French Toast

If you are in the mood for total decadence, this is the breakfast for you! Thanks once again to my friend, Brittney, who announced she was making this recipe for her family on Easter. I knew I had to try it so I begged for the recipe, and now I can share it with you!

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
Bread, sliced, to cover butter mixture
(a big french loaf or baguette is perfect--sliced about 1-inch thick.)
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups Half-and-Half/Single Cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

1. In a saucepan, melt butter, brown sugar and corn syrup.
2. Pour into 9 x 13 glass pan. Arrange bread slices on top.
3. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, half and half, vanilla and salt.
4. Pour egg mixture over the bread. Cover and chill overnight in the fridge.
5. The next morning, bake uncovered at 350 for 35-40 minutes.
Using a spatula, flip pieces over to serve, so brown sugar is on top. :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easy Muffaletta Italian Sandwich

I’ve never been able to find a perfect substitute for the original sandwich created by Central Grocery in New Orleans, Louisiana, but with the discovery of Safeway Grocery’s “Muffaletta” olive salad last week, I have been able to create a pretty tasty alternative. If you don’t live in New Orleans or Northern California, any good mixture of marinated Italian olives & peppers will work for the olive salad, but the olives and peppers should all be chopped finely before adding them to the sandwich.

I started with 2 slices of fresh, soft, sourdough bread (Italian ciabatta or focaccia rolls also work) and then poured a small amount of my favorite light Italian salad dressing on each slice of bread for flavor and moisture. Next, spread a thick layer of your chopped olive salad on one slice of bread. On the other slice of bread, layer some Italian salami slices (Gallo or Columbus are the best brands I’ve tried in the U.S.) with some good-quality slices of provolone cheese. Press the two slices of bread together with the fillings, and you are off!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Feta & Walnuts

This is a great spring-time or summer salad for warmer days, or whenever you can grab a basket of big, juicy, fresh strawberries. My friend from college, Brittney Blunt Jacobsen, was the first person to ever serve me this salad during one of our dorm dinners my senior year, so I always credit her with the recipe. I’ve made it hundreds of times, and it’s always a crowd pleaser.

(Adjust quantities of all items to suit your taste & desired number of servings)
Fresh spinach or baby spinach leaves
Fresh, ripe strawberries
Very thinly sliced red onions
Crumbled feta cheese
Dried cranberries
Finely chopped walnut pieces

Add all items to your salad bowl and toss with a bottled raspberry vinaigrette. I have tried lots of store-bought dressings, but my favorite brand is Annie’s Naturals Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lahvosh Wraps with Goat Cheese, Figs & Walnuts

Yummy, yummy, yummy! I made this recipe yesterday for an interview--yes, I'm back in California temporarily and interviewed at Williams Sonoma for a position doing cooking classes on Sunday mornings. I've never taught before, but it was fun! This easy recipe came from the Williams Sonoma website, and all the ingredients came from Trader Joe's grocery store. Lahvosh is a thin flat-bread the comes from Armenia, and is similar to pita bread but usually comes in rounds or long sheets.

Here's what you need:

8oz/250g log of fresh goat cheese, brought to room temperature
1/4 cup/60ml chopped green onions/spring onions (include some green stems)
1/4 cup/60ml finely chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp kosher salt or sea salt
1/2 cup/120 ml chopped dried figs
(I used Trader Joe's Turkish Smyrna figs from their dried fruit section)
2 slices soft lahvosh bread (from TJ's)
4-6 leaves butter or oak lettuce (any soft, large, leafy green is OK), washed and dried

Mix together the goat cheese, green onions, walnuts, salt and figs. Lay 1 piece of lahvosh bread on a damp tea towel (to keep it from drying out and cracking while rolling).

Spread 1/2 of goat cheese mixture over the lahvosh (it was easier to do about 6 clumps of goat cheese around the bread and then mash them together b/c the mixture isn't very spreadable).

Top the goat cheese with 2-3 lettuce leaves, then roll the shorter side of the lavash over tightly until it is rolled up completely. You can cut off the ends where the lettuce sticks out if you want to make it neater, then slice the remaining roll into 1 inch slices. Repeat with 2nd piece of lavash bread and remaining cheese spread and lettuce.

The recipe suggests you chill the roll for 30 mins before serving, but I liked it better when everything was at room temp, so it's up to you! Bon appetit!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tuna Fish Cakes with Garlic Herb Mayo

This recipe came from a cute pocket cookbook I picked up at a boutique in Stratford-Upon-Avon in December, called 200 Really Easy Recipes. I served the fish cakes & rocket with a side of garlic mashed potatoes. Yum!

Ingredients (Serves 4):
2 x 425g (14oz) cans tuna in olive oil, drained
300g (10oz) ricotta cheese
6 spring/green onions, finely chopped
grated rind and juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
100g (3.5 oz) baby rocket/arugula leaves
salt & black pepper

1. Flake the tuna into a bowl and beat in the ricotta, spring onions, lime rind, dill, egg, and salt and pepper to taste with a wooden spoon. Reserve 2 tsp of the lime juice and beat the remainder into the tuna mixture. Shape into 12 small cakes about 7cm (3 inches) across.

2. Heat 1.5 Tbsp of the olive oil in a frying pan, add the fish cakes, in 2 batches, and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden. Reduce heat if they start to over-brown and cook for a further 1 minute. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and keep the cooked cakes warm in an oven preheated to 160C/325F while you cook the remainder.

3. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining olive oil and lime juice together and toss with the rocket leaves in a bowl. Serve the fish cakes with the rocket salad and some garlic & herb mayonnaise (see below).

Garlic & Herb Mayo
Add 1 crushed garlic clove, 2 tsp lime juice, 1 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander and a pinch of cayenne pepper to 150g (5oz) good-quality store-bought mayonnaise in a bowl and mix well. Taste and add more garlic if desired.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Easy Wedge Salad with Fresh Herbs

I was craving some blue cheese a few weeks ago, and this recipe I found in my New Food Fast cookbook fit the bill with the addition of the blue cheese. It was simple and delicious. I ate this with some home-made mac n'cheese from a recipe the same cookbook.

Halve 1 iceberg lettuce bunch and remove the outer leaves. Make a simple dressing of even quantities of oil and vinegar (white or red) mixed with mustard, fresh herbs (use any you love--I had coriander/cilantro, flat leaf parsley and basil on hand), sea salt and cracked black pepper. Crumble your blue cheese over the iceberg lettuce halves, and then pour dressing over lettuce. Serve crisp and chilled.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Egg & Bacon Breakfast Baskets

I saw this fun recipe in my 200 Really Easy Recipes cookbook and decided to make it for D for Valentine's Day breakfast--the cute cherry tomatoes in the middle of the egg mixture reminded me of breakfast cupcakes! Note: See Vegetarian option below.
Ingredients (Makes 8 baskets, serves 4):
Spray olive oil, for oiling muffin tin
75g (3oz) butter, melted
150g (5oz) smoked bacon rashers, rind removed, diced
(Note: we used cubed pancetta pieces)
2 eggs
125 ml (4fl oz) double cream/heavy cream
2 Tbsp fresh grated Parmesan cheese
8 cherry tomatoes on the vine
16 slices white bread (or wheat bread)
salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. First cut the crusts off the bread (try to make even squares) and discard, then flatten each slice by rolling over it firmly with a rolling pin, and brush each slice with the melted butter. Next place 8 squares diagonally on top one other 8 squares and carefully press them into eight muffin tin holes that had been sprayed with the olive oil. Bake the squares for 12-15 minutes until crisp and golden. Meanwhile fry up the bacon/pancetta pieces and prepare the egg mixture in a bowl by beating together the eggs, cream, cheese salt and pepper, then pull the bread baskets out of the oven to cool slightly.

After draining the fried pancetta, I divided it between the 4 bread 'baskets' and then poured the prepared egg mixture over the pancetta (about 2 tablespoons of egg mixture per basket is plenty). Last top each 'basket' with a cherry tomato, then place back into the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until eggs are set.

Note for Vegetarians: You can make this vegetarian by substituting fresh spinach for the bacon/pancetta. Cook the spinach with a small pat of butter in a frying pan until wilted, then add the spinach to the cases instead of the pancetta before pouring over the egg.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

S'more's Pie Fest: Round 1

I have two recipes for this scrum-diddly-umptous-sounding pie, so this is the one I'm trying first, and it came from Disney's Family Fun website. Unfortunately, I only had 1 ready-made Graham Cracker crust in the cupboard, so Round 2 will have to wait until I can find some more Graham Crackers or pie crusts on my next visit to London.

Crust: (Or substitute one ready-made graham cracker crust)
1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened

2 tablespoons butter, softened
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups miniature marshmallows


1. If using a ready-made graham cracker crust, skip to step #2. Heat the oven to 375ºF/180C. In a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter, rubbing it in with a pinching motion until evenly distributed. Press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the crust to cool.

2. Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl and set them aside. Combine the remaining cup of sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and gradually whisk in the milk, stirring until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then remove the pan from the heat.

3. Whisk 1/2 cup of the hot chocolate mixture into the egg yolks. Repeat with 1 cup of the chocolate mixture, then return the chocolate and egg mixture to the saucepan. Boil over medium heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the vanilla extract. Pour the filling into the pie shell and allow it to cool at least 15 minutes, or chill it in the refrigerator overnight.

5. Just before serving, heat the oven to broil. Cover the pie with the mini marshmallows and broil it on the uppermost rack for about 30 seconds or until the marshmallows are lightly browned. (Watch carefully, or the marshmallows will burn.) Serve warm or chilled. Serves 8.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Easy Rosemary Pork Chops + Pea & Mushroom Risotto

These two recipes both came from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Cuisine of California, although I substituted pork chops for veal chops because those are harder to find here in England.

Grilled Chops with Rosemary (serves 4)
4 veal loin chops (or pork chops), 6-8oz. (200-250g) each
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 (2-inch) sprigs of fresh rosemary
Juice of 1 medium lemon
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1. Brush chops liberally on each side with olive oil.

2. Strip leaves off rosemary sprigs and press leaves into both sides of each veal/pork chop. Sprinkle lemon juice on each side and refrigerate 1 hour.

3. Prepare barbecue for medium heat grilling or preheat oven grill/broiler, if necessary. Grill chops 3 inches from heat for 5-7 minutes on each side. The veal should be pink inside. Take veal/pork off grill and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with risotto.

Risotto with Fresh Mushrooms and Peas (Serves 4 to 6)
4 T/55g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
2 cups shelled fresh peas (we used thawed frozen peas)
1/4 tsp finely ground pepper
3 cups (750ml) chicken stock, heated to hot
1/4 lb (125g) mushrooms, sliced (we used mini portabello)
1/4 c. (60ml) fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat 2 T of butter in a heavy saucepan. Add shallots and cook over low heat until soft but not browned. Stir in rice and saute lightly without letting it brown.

2. Add peas, 1/4 tsp. of salt, 1/8 tsp of pepper, and 1/2 cup (120 ml) of stock. Simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until stock is absorbed. Continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, cooking until it is absorbed. Stir frequently. Stop adding stock when rice is tender. Total cooking time should be about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp of the butter in a skillet. Add mushrooms, the remaining salt and pepper and saute over medium-high heat until lightly browned.

4. When rice is done, gently stir in mushrooms, the remaining butter, and the Parmesan cheese (using a 2 prong fork if you have one). Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Festive Strudel from Jamie Oliver

I saw Jamie make this recipe on one of his TV shows over the holidays, so I saved a carton of Christmas Pudding to make it after the holidays were over, but never got around to posting the results. My effort did not turn out as pretty as Jaime's, but it was still totally tasty, and every little scrap was eaten. If you don't have any Christmas pudding left from the holidays, you can either make your own batch from a recipe I found here, or hold onto this recipe until next year....

Ingredients (Serves 8-10)

12 sheets of filo pastry (approx. 250g/8oz.)
125g butter (4 T.), melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
100g demerara sugar (brown cane sugar)
4 ginger biscuits (Ginger Snap cookies), crumbled
400g (12 oz.) leftover Christmas pudding
3 apples or pears or 2 quince, or a mixture of the three
50g (about 1 bar) good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into squares
Icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar), for dusting
Ready-made vanilla custard, to serve

Method: How to make festive strudel

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Lay out 6 sheets of pastry on a clean tea towel, overlapping each by an inch or so, so they cover the tea towel. They should cover it completely, with just a little overhang at one of the shorter ends. Work quickly so your pastry doesn’t dry out and brush some melted butter all over it. Sprinkle over the cinnamon and 50g of the sugar then crumble over your ginger biscuits to add a nice bit of crunch. Carefully layer the rest of the pastry sheets on top and brush again with butter.

2. Use your hands to crumble the Christmas pudding into a bowl then grate in the fruit. You want to have about the same amount of grated fruit as you’ve got pudding. Add about 2 T. of sugar, and mix it all together to break up the pudding a bit more. Sprinkle this all over the pastry so it’s roughly covered, leaving the overhang clear. Place the chocolate in a row on top of the Xmas pud, down the short side nearest the overhang.

3. Fold the overhang over the chocolate and pinch it up, then lift up your tea towel, and use it to help you carefully roll up your strudel. Tuck the ends under to seal it and transfer to a large non-stick pan. Brush it all over with butter then sprinkle over a little more sugar. Bake in the hot oven for about 40 minutes until crisp, golden and gorgeous looking. It might split a bit and look slightly rustic, but Jaime likes it that way. You could wrap an extra layer of filo round it before cooking if you want it to look a bit neater. Once cooked, leave to cool then use a serrated knife to cut the strudel into 5cm slices. Dust these with icing sugar and serve with ready-made custard from the fridge. Yum!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sydney Sunrise Smoothie

This yummy little breakfast treat came to me from a great cookbook I picked up while living in Australia in 2000, called Sydney Food, by Bill Granger, who runs Bills Restaurant in Sydney. It's so simple, and now that I have a great mango-slicing gadget, chopping up mangoes is a cinch!

(handy mango slicer)
All you need is:
1 cup/8 fl oz./250ml orange juice
1/2 of a mango, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 ripe banana, sliced
2 tablespoons yogurt, any variety (30ml)
- we used strawberry probiotic yogurt
Place all ingredients in a blender (or glass if using an immersion blender) and blend until smooth. Serves 1-2.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ultimate Sloppy Joes Sandwiches

This is another recipe from a chef who appeared on Oprah's show featuring "Easy Family Recipes". I've never made Sloppy Joes' (an American dinner classic for all you non-Yanks) from scratch before, but they were so easy and delicious that I'm a total convert. The recipe calls for ground/mince turkey, but if you don't have turkey on hand, it's just as tasty with beef.

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds (750g) lean ground turkey or beef
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (500ml) ketchup
1/4 cup (60ml) yellow mustard
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
whole wheat hamburger buns

1. Set a heavy-based pot over medium-high heat and add a 3-count of olive oil. Add onions and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. 2. Add ground turkey or beef, season well with salt and pepper and brown well all over, breaking it up with a wooden spoon—about 7 to 10 minutes. 3. Add ketchup, mustard, cayenne, brown sugar and tomato paste. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. Finish with a splash of apple cider vinegar and season it once more before serving on toasted whole wheat hamburger buns.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Healthy French Toast with Banana Topping

Today I'm posting a link to another blog, Eating Bender, where I found this recipe (and photo).

I made it this morning and it was delicious! Since liquid egg whites aren't available here in the UK, I went ahead and used 1 large egg. I also used vanilla soy milk instead of vanilla almond milk, which I can't find here. I found Whey Protein Powder at Holland & Barrett's, and used about 1 Tablespoon. Finally, I doubled the topping and used 1 whole banana + 1 Tablespoon syrup. It probably adds some more calories, but I think it made it tastier. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

French Style Lentil Soup with Bacon

This recipe is super easy and has a great, comfort-food texture for a cold, wintery night. I think the recipe came out of a newspaper I read last week on global comfort foods. The photo below is a shot of all the ingredients simmering before I pureed the soup to serve it. It ends up having a thick, almost muddy consistency, and smells great!

160g puy lentils
500ml (2 cups) chicken stock
3-4 rashers smoked streaky bacon
1/2 an onion (chopped)
1 carrot (diced)
1 sprig of thyme
1 clove chopped garlic
1 bay leaf

1. Wash lentils, and cook according to package directions. When cooked, drain lentils, return to the pot and add chicken stock. Bring to a boil.

2. Add remaining ingredients and reduced heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprig stick, then blend using an immersion blender to your desired consistency--keep tasting to check. (Note: if using a regular blender, allow soup to cool first, or blend on low in small batches to avoid a blender explosion). Add more chicken stock or some double cream/heavy cream to correct consistency. Serve with garlic bead or croutons and a green salad.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Savory Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding

One of D's friends went hunting last weekend and brought us one of the pheasants he caught, so on Sunday night we had a crazy attempt at cooking our first wild bird. D did all the plucking and removed all the innards, but the whole bloody mess in the kitchen kind of ruined my appetite. We cooked the bird according to this recipe from Emeril Legasse, the famous New Orleans chef, but it smelled funny coming out of the oven and was too gamey for our tastes, so we tossed it out, thinking that maybe it had gone bad hanging in the cold garage.

I also cooked this Savory Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding that Emeril suggested as an accompaniment to the pheasant, and it was tasty and rich, just like something you'd be served in one of his NOLA restaurants. I think it would be great with a simple roasted chicken and salad.

Serves 6-8 (large portions)

2 tsps vegetable oil
1 cup (250ml) sliced yellow onions
10 oz/325g assorted wild mushrooms, such as oyster, shitake, chanterelles, wood ear, or porcini
1 tsp minced garlic
3 tsp Essence, recipe follows
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (60 ml) lager beer
5 large eggs
3 cups (750 ml) heavy cream/double cream
1/4 cup (60ml) molasses (I used maple syrup)
1.5 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp minced fresh thyme
3/4 cup (185ml) grated Gouda cheese
3/4 cup (185ml) grated white cheddar cheese
3/4 lb (375g) stale white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp plain bread crumbs

1. Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over high heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown and tender, 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the Essence, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 3/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender and have given off their liquid, about 5 minutes. Note: be careful when adding the spices to the onions--if too much of the chili & paprika gets into the air it can make you cough and choke. Add the beer and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan and until the mixture is almost dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cream, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of Essence, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and whisk well to combine. Add the mushroom mixture and cheeses and stir well. Add the bread cubes and let sit until the bread has absorbed the liquid, 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with the butter. Add the bread crumbs, shaking to cover the bottom evenly. Pour the bread pudding mixture into the prepared pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour and uncover. Continue baking until risen and firm in the center, and golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning)-makes about 2/3 cup:

2.5 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp dried leaf oregano
1 Tbsp dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Easy Chipotle Shrimp Tacos

This recipe came from one of Oprah's favorite chefs, Custis Stone, and was featured on their Easy Family Dinners program. I've made it twice now--though I can't remember where I found the Chipotle Paste (it may have been London). In the US, cans of chipotle peppers in sauce can be found in the Mexican/Hispanic sections of most large grocery stores, so just experiment with the amount of peppers to suit your taste. I halved the recipe and it made about 6 large tacos.

3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion , roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 dried chipotle chilis, seeded and chopped
(or 50g Discovery brand Chipotle Paste)
3 tomatoes , roughly chopped
2.5 lbs (1500g) raw prawns/shrimp, peeled and deveined
(fresh prawns tasted way better than frozen, thawed prawns)
1/4 cup (60ml) lime juice to taste
Fresh cilantro (coriander)
Shredded cabbage
Corn tortillas


1. Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, and sweat onions in 1 tablespoon of oil for 3 to 4 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and chipotle peppers (or paste), and continue to sauté for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, season lightly with salt, cook for 1 minute and remove from heat.

2. Blend mixture well in small batches until smooth, adding a little water if needed, and reserve. In a large heavy-bottom pot, heat remaining oil over high heat. Add shrimp, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 2 minutes stirring occasionally, allowing the shrimp to lightly color. Remove shrimp from the pan to a plate and add the tomato mixture to the remaining oil in the pan, being careful, as it will splatter slightly.

3. Cook sauce for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, and add shrimp back to pot. Once shrimp are cooked through and coated with the sauce, remove from heat and season to taste with lime juice, salt and pepper. Finish with the chopped cilantro and serve with shredded cabbage on corn tortillas (Note: I tossed my cabbage in a homemade chili-lime-cilantro dressing before serving, and that gave it a nice, fresh tang). Add additional toppings as desired: salsa, sour cream, guacamole, etc.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Spicy Chile Lime Salad

I got the basic recipe for this salad (and the photo) from this Nourishing Meals website, and the dressing is great!

1/4 cup packed cilantro
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded & chopped
1 clove garlic
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-5 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Mix all ingredients together in a blender/food processor, or if available, blend in a bowl using an immersion blender.

Add to a salad of mixed peppery greens such as kale, escarole or arugula, combined with chopped red and green bell peppers, spring onions, avocado, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and jicama, if available. You could also add more protein to the salad by sprinkling some cooked shrimp, canned tuna, crumbled Mexican cotija cheese, or chicken pieces on top.

Note: The dressing can also be used as a marinade or basting sauce for salmon or other fish or poultry.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Creamy Risotto with Peas and Crispy Bacon

OK, for all you pork lovers out there (I know who you are), this is a great dish. Sorry Vegetarians! We had it last night for dinner and D gobbled it up. It's not low fat, but you could omit either the salami/chorizo or the bacon, and just enjoy the risotto. Either way, it's creamy, salty goodness.

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
15g/.5 oz knob of butter
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 spring onions/green onions, trimmed and sliced
60g/2.5 oz. cured chorizo sausage, coarsely chopped
(I substituted some garlic-flavored hard salami)
200g/7 oz Arborio risotto rice
1 glass dry white wine
500 ml/2 cups chicken stock, heated
1 heaped tbsp mascarpone or cream cheese
40g/1.5 oz grated Parmesan cheese
60g/2.5 oz frozen peas
4 rashers/slices unsmoked back or streaky bacon

1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan, add the onion and green onion and cook until softened, about 5-6 mins. Add the chorizo and cook for 2 minutes, then add the risotto rice and cook an additional 2 minutes, making sure all rice is coated in oils.
2. Add the wine and continue to stir until it has been absorbed, then add a ladle of the hot stock. Reduce the heat to simmer. Keep stirring, allowing each ladleful of stock to be absorbed before adding the next.

3. Once all the stock has been absorbed, stir in the mascarpone and Parmesan, then mix in the frozen peas. Remove from the heat and cover for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, grill the bacon until crisp, then place 2 rashers on top of each serving of risotto.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls

These spring rolls take a little patience to assemble, but they taste super fresh and are really healthy as well. I found the right kind of spring roll wrappers at Whole Foods in London, and used them up already, but am keeping an eye out for them in Birmingham. Let me know if you spot them anywhere!

They are best served with Thai Sweet Chili Sauce for dipping, but would also be good with a peanut satay sauce!

1 pack spring roll rice paper wrappers (8.5 inch diameter)
1 pack ready-to-wok (pre-cooked) thin vermicelli rice noodles, separated into portions matching the number of spring roll wrappers
1 carrot, peeled, then grated into long slices with a carrot peeler
1 cucumber, peeled, then grated into long slices with a carrot peeler
1 bunch mixed baby salad greens
200g cooked prawns, tails off, sliced in half from head to tail
fresh coriander, leaves picked
fresh mint, leaves picked

1. If you can't find pre-cooked rice noodles, then follow the pack directions to soften the noodles. Otherwise, follow the pack directions for softening the spring roll wrappers. I basically filled a large frying pan with warm/hot water and let it cool a bit. Spread a damp tea towel on the kitchen counter next to your pan of water for assembling the rolls.

2. Start by immersing one wrapper in the water, and let it sit until softened, 10-15 seconds. When soft and pliable (it should feel silky), remove it from the water and lay it on the tea towel. Dab the excess water off with a dry tea towel. The wrapper should be slightly sticky.

3. Place one portion of rice noodles towards the bottom edge of the wrapper. Lay several lettuce leaves over the noodles and top the lettuce with 5-6 pieces of prawns. Over the prawns, lay a few slices each of carrot and cucumber gratings, then sprinkle over coriander and mint leaves.

4. Fold roll like a burrito: take bottom edge (closest too you) and fold it over the filling until the wrapper edge touches the wrapper on the opposite side of the filling. The edges should stick together slightly. Next, fold each side edge in just enough to enclose either end of the filling. Last, roll the filled end over until the wrap is rolled up. Note: The tighter you can manage to wrap the rolls, the better chance you have that they won't fall apart. It takes a little practice.

5. Serve wraps immediately with sweet chili sauce or a peanut satay sauce. If you need to store them, I usually lay them on a damp paper towel in a Tupperware container, and then lay another wet paper towel over the tops before closing the lid. This will keep the wraps from drying out.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Warming Meatball and Kale/Escarole Soup

I tore this recipe out Fitness magazine last October, and finally made it last week! Also, when I made the meatballs, they completely stuck to the bottom of my pan, so my soup had hunks and crumbles of meatball, rather than nicely formed balls, but the flavor was still great, and it was a good way to eat some healthy vegetables! If I made it again, I'd cook the meatballs in a non-stick pan, even though you are supposed to cook them in the pot that everything else will eventually be added to.

1/2 lb./250g lean ground beef/beef mince
6 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
6 Tbsp plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup (60ml) finely chopped parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 cups packed shredded kale or escarole,
rinsed and drained
3 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium chicken broth
(approx. 1250 ml chicken broth)

1. Combine beef, 4 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, parsley, salt, pepper and eggs in a large bowl. Form into 24 meatballs, using about 1 level tablespoon for each.

2. Heat 1 Tbsp. of the oil in a stockpot (or separate non-stick frying pan) over medium-high heat. Add meatballs; cook on each side until nicely browned and transfer to a plate.

3. If you used a separate frying pan for the meat, now add remaining tablespoon of oil to your stockpot along with the onions, carrots and garlic. Cook 10 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Stir in kale or escarole; cook 3-4 minutes.

4. Add meatballs and broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve soup with remaining Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Nutrition per serving: 205 calories; 15 g protein; 15 g carbohydrates; 10 g fat (3 g saturated); 4 g fiber.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Chicken, Black Bean and Tortilla Casserole

This new recipe came out of The Big Book of Casseroles, and is quick to prepare if you buy ready-cooked, diced chicken. It's less expensive if you poach your own chicken before-hand, but takes an extra 20-30 minutes to prepare, poach and cool/chop the chicken pieces. Your choice! It was a big hit with D, who had 2nd helpings.

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14.5 oz/425g) chopped tomatoes, including juices,
lightly pureed with a hand blender or in a food processor
1/2 cup jarred tomato salsa
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
2 cans black beans, rinsed & drained
3 cups cubed cooked chicken breasts
(I used 3 full breast pieces)
8 corn tortillas
3-4 cups (375-500g) grated Monterey Jack cheese
(I usually find grated Jack cheese at larger Sainsbury's)

Optional toppings:
Sour cream
Avocado slices
Sliced green onions
Chopped olives
Salsa & hot sauce

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm oil. Add yellow onion, bell pepper and garlic and saute until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, salsa, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper and mix well. Stir in beans and chicken pieces.

2. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. In a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray or oil, spread 1/3 of the chicken & bean mixture over the bottom. Top with 4 tortillas and sprinkle with 1 cup (250 ml) cheese.

3. Add another 1/3 of the bean & chicken mixture, 4 more tortillas and 1 cup cheese. Finish with remaining bean and chicken mixture, and 1/2 to 1 cup cheese. Cover and bake, 40 minutes. Remove lid, add remaining cheese and bake until bubbly and lightly brown, about 10 more minutes. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with toppings as desired.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Creamy Baked Gnocchi with Spinach

This is another recipe from Giada De Laurentiis great cookbook Everyday Pasta that I made this past week. Since we've had snow and frost here for the past 2 weeks, I am in major comfort-food mode, and this hit the target in a big way. I measured out everything ahead of time and it was really fast to assemble and bake once we got home from the gym in the evening.

2 (17oz/500g) packages potato gnocchi (make sure
you use the vacuum-pack type, not the kind that
comes hard & dried in a box)
3 cups (750ml) heavy cream/double cream
1 cup (250ml) chicken broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup (60 ml) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground or fresh-grated nutmeg
12 oz/375g fresh baby spinach (seems like a lot but it wilts down)
3 oz/100g fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup (125ml) grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.
2. Place the gnocchi in a lightly greased 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish. Set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cream, chicken broth and flour over medium heat. Continue whisking until the sauce is simmering and thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir to combine. Add the spinach in batches and toss until all spinach is coated in the cream.
4. Pour the cream and spinach mixture evenly over the gnocchi and gently spread the spinach out to cover.
5. Crumble the goat cheese over the spinach. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake until the top is golden in places, 25 to 30 minutes.