Wednesday, February 26, 2014

ah-mazing banana muffins

These muffins (via Martha Stewart) are so good - the sour cream  makes them moist and even more delicious. Make these soon, you won't be disappointed!
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 medium sized mashed very ripe bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 12 cup muffin pan; set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, and beat to incorporate. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Add bananas, sour cream, and vanilla; mix to combine. Stir in nuts, and pour into prepared muffin pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

pork. cilantro. lime. ginger.

1/4 pound linguine
1 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 pork tenderloin (about 3/4 pound), cut into small strips*
6 scallions including green tops, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 quart chicken stock
1/4 pound bean sprouts
2 tablespoons lime juice (from about 1 lime), plus lime wedges for serving
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut crosswise into thin slices
1 cup lightly packed mint, basil, or cilantro leaves, or a combination 
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the linguine until just done, about 12 minutes. Drain the pasta. Rinse with cold water and drain thoroughly. Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the pork, scallions, and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, fish sauce, salt, water, and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the pork is just done, about 10 minutes. Stir the cooked linguine, bean sprouts, and lime juice into the soup. Ladle into bowls, top each serving with some of the cucumber and herbs, and serve with the lime wedges. *I had about half of a leftover pork loin that I used for this recipe. It had been roasted so I cubed it up and stirred it in with tomatoes and broth. Great use for leftover pork.
This soup is fresh and delicious and was something different to try.

Friday, February 21, 2014

dark & stormy

It was very dark & stormy in Nashville last night - not so much tonight. But anyways, a dark & stormy cocktail is delicious on a warm Friday night in February.
1 part dark rum
2 parts ginger beer
wedge of lime
In a tall glass, over ice, pour rum and top with ginger beer. Squeeze lime and enjoy.
Friday night reading and watching House of Cards.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

sunday dinner - vegetarian style

I think I like tofu more and more. Every time I make it, it keeps getting better - chewier, crispier outside - definitely a work in progress, but it's improving!
Balsamic Agave Tofu
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon agave syrup
2-3 tablespoons soy
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
pinch of herbs de Provence
2 garlic cloved, minced
1 package tofu, pressed so the moisture comes out
1/3 cup white flour
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk first 6 ingredients together and set aside. After pressing liquid out of tofu (I wrapped mine in paper towels with a weight on top for about 2 hours), slice into 8 long pieces. Lightly dredge each piece in flour and then dip in marinade. Place pieces on a well-misted baking sheet. Pour leftover marinade in a small sauce pan and heat. Bake for 30 minutes, then adjust oven to broil - broil each side of tofu for about 2 minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn! Remove tofu to plates and top with balsamic sauce. Sauce note - marinade will thicken slightly as it heats - just before serving, give it a good shot of heat and stir in about a tablespoon of butter.
Amazing Shredded Brussel Sprouts
1 bag of brussel sprouts
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
Peel the outer layer of the brussel sprouts and remove stems, rinse and dry well. Pulse brussels in the food processor until shredded.In a large saute pan, melt butter and saute garlic until it gets a little color, add sprouts to pan. Saute for about 5 minutes, pour in white wine, reduce to medium-low heat and cook for about 15 minutes or until sprouts are all tender and delicious smelling. S&P to taste and serve.
This tofu would also be delicious in a wrap. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

a Valentine special in honor of Sochi

a Russian cocktail (that isn't brown and won't give you conjunctivitis - poor Bob Costas). 
The Moscow Mule
1 part vodka
2 parts ginger beer
squeeze in wedge of lime and serve over ice
We enjoyed these tasty and refreshing beverages on Valentine's Day. I pulled off a Pioneer Women dinner - filet oscar, asparagus with tarragon hollandaise & a wild rice mushroom pilaf.

I followed her directions to a tee on the filet dish, but for the rice recipe, I used wild rice instead of white and lengthened the simmer time to about 40 minutes.
This dinner was delicious, and although there were a lot of moving parts, it all came together well. Happy Valentine's Day weekend!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

tastes of the south - fritters & grits

It is amazing how quickly Southern culture worked its way into our lives. Whether it's talking to people on elevators, throwing out a "bless" at any unfortunate situation, or enjoying cheesy grits for Sunday morning brunch - the South has had a positive impact on us!
This brings me to two Southern inspired dishes - both so delicious and very manageable to make. Carrot & zucchini fritters (above) and sausage 'n parmesan grits (below). For the fritters, I pulsed peeled/chopped carrot and zucchini in the food processor, but you could also shred by hand.
small onion, chopped and lightly sautéed in a bit of butter until translucent
2-3 large carrots, peeled and shredded
2-3 zucchini, partially peeled and shredded (and squeezed dry)
1 tablespoon cornmeal
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
S & P to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl mix all ingredients. On a large misted baking pan,  drop fritters. I used an ice-cream scoop (filled it almost full) to delve out the fritters, and I also placed my Silpat mat on the baking sheet to prevent sticking. Bake the fritters for 10 minutes at 375, then lower temp to 350 and carefully flip fritters. Bake for another 15 minutes. Serve with a sour cream based dipping sauce or a bit of apple sauce - yum!
sausage 'n parmesan grits soufflé via Parade Magazine
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup stone ground grits
4 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4-5 shakes of Tabasco
S & P to taste
12 ounces cooked sausage, crumbled (chicken, pork, spicy...whatever your preference)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly butter a 4-cup 
soufflé dish. Combine 1 1/2 cups water and the milk in a heavy saucepan and warm the mixture over medium-low heat. Slowly stir or whisk in the grits until smooth and thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Lightly beat the egg yolks in a bowl. Gradually stir some of the hot grits into the yolks to temper them. Then stir the tempered egg yolks into the grits. Set aside to cool slightly. Stir the Parmesan cheese, sausage crumbles, Tabasco sauce, salt, and pepper into the grits. Place egg whites in a bowl, add a pinch of salt, and beat with an electric mixer until the whites are stiff but not dry. Using a rubber spatula, fold the whites into the grits until just combined. Scrape the mixture into the soufflé dish and bake in the center of the oven until the soufflé rises and is lightly browned on top, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
This dish is golden on top and fluffy inside - so delicious for Sunday brunch. The original recipe did not have sausage, so feel free to leave it out for a vegetarian option. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

ham & cheese (at its finest)

Nothing beats a ham 'n cheese pairing...whether in between two slices of bread or inside warm crepes (with asparagus and topped with cheddar 'n béchamel). I gave crepes a whirl last week - takes a bit of time to get the knack on these. When I was in school, and we would bring food into French class (for cultural immersion day), I used to always volunteer for crepes with strawberries and whipped cream. Which meant I really volunteer my mom to make crepes. She would be up late (or up very early) making beautiful crepes for me to take to class. I had no idea how much work that Mom, this is a terribly belated thank you!

1 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more, to taste
8 teaspoons butter, plus more for brushing pan
1 lb. ham steak, sauced and then thinly sliced
½ lb. asparagus, blanched and sliced
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups milk, heated
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch of nutmeg 

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don't let it brown — about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in nutmeg. Set aside.

Now the crepes, in a blender, combine the milk, egg, flour, oil and the 1/2 teaspoon salt and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. In a crepe pan over medium heat, melt 1 teaspoon of the butter to coat the pan evenly. Lift the pan at a slight angle and pour 2 tablespoons of the batter into the center, tilting the pan to spread the batter to the edges. Return the pan to the heat and cook until the crepe is golden underneath, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the crepe over and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover. Layer a crepe, then foil or parchment to prevent sticking. Repeat with the remaining batter to make 8 crepes. To assemble, lay a crepe flat and arrange a bit of sliced ham and asparagus on the crepe and top with a bit of cheddar. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the crepe into quarters and assemble into a misted shallow baking dish. Repeat with the remaining crepes and filling. Top with béchamel sauce and a bit more shredded cheese. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes or until top is slightly golden.