Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Blooming Onion and Cheese Bread

Prepare yourselves people. Brace yourselves. Close your eyes and imagine the smell of baking bread oozing with cheese and buttery onion goodness. Then open your eyes, get in your car and get to your local grocery store Stat- because you are gonna want to make this and fast. This is like a cross between an onion roll, garlic bread and cheese sticks if that makes any sense and if that description just made you salivate then we should be friends. The best part is that the bread itself becomes the plate and you just lift little sticks of oozing bread up and pop it into your mouth. I love food that cuts out the pesky fork and knife middlemen. Best of all because it uses a pre-made bread it is quick to put together with plenty of wow factor for serving. I used a loaf of white bread but I think  this would be out of control good with a good loaf of sourdough. You can call me to thank me later.  Enjoy!

1 loaf un-sliced bread
1/2 Kilo or about a little more than a pound of Mozzarella or Yellow cheese, sliced thickly
3/4 cup butter, melted
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 scallions, finely sliced (green parts too)

Preheat oven to 350. Slice the bread in both directions WITHOUT cutting through to the bottom so that the top looks like little squares. Cut the cheese to desired size and place one piece of cheese between each cut of bread. Mix the garlic, butter and scallions and drizzle it all over the the top of the bread making sure to get it in between all of the cracks. Wrap well with tinfoil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes until oozing.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Strawberry and White Chocolate Tiramisu

I've decided that it is impossible to diet in the Winter. The cold weather, the amount of times indoors, the bulky layers that cover up that extra piece (s) of cake and the lack of motivation because it is just too darn dreary outside is a recipe for diet disaster. I say, we should embrace the 5 ( and hopefully not more) pounds that will inevitably creep on and just work extra hard to lose it come Spring. Or not. All I know is that when the cold weather comes, heavy, carb laden foods just cannot be resisted. This is my  obviously guilt filled rationalization for this dessert and just about everything else I have been making lately. Does it help a tiny bit that there is a fruit involved? I like to think so. But it is just so delicious that no thinking is really involved during consumption. Obviously this is not a traditional Tiramisu which is usually flavored with espresso but the lady fingers, Marscapone and alcohol make it at least a second cousin. Now that strawberries are finally in season here (though you still have to mortgage your kidney to buy them) they are finding their way into both sweet and savory dishes that I have been making. Gotta eat them while you can! Enjoy!

1 Package lady fingers
1/3 cup Triple Sec (orange liquor) you can use plain orange juice in a pinch
1 cup whipping cream (no skimping! get the real deal, 32-38 percent!)
3/4 cup powdered sugar (divided)
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 cup Marscapone cheese
125 grams white chocolate
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups strawberries, sliced thinly
1 1/2 cups strawberries, halved for decorating the top

In a mixer whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons of the powdered sugar and mix again. Transfer the whip cream to a different bowl. In the same bowl as you whipped the cream add the cream cheese, marscapone and the rest of the powdered sugar. Melt the white chocolate carefully in the microwave and add to the cheese mixture. Fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture. In a glass dish place half of the lady fingers to cover the bottom. Brush with some of the Triple sec and top with half of the cheese mixture. Sprinkle the sliced strawberries on top and add another layer of lady fingers brushed with the Triple sec. top with the remaining cheese mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours so it can set. Before serving decorate with remaining strawberries.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I like to convince myself that if I throw some zucchini in a cake it makes it healthy. So when I am on a "diet" but still need my Shabbat breakfast cake, I turn to a zucchini laden cake and pretend I'm not cheating at all. The truth is that it has to be a little healthier than a regular cake but you practically cannot tell- it is moist, chocolate-y and goes GREAT with a steaming cup of Joe. Lately, I have been obsessed with my loaf pan, hence the flood of pound cake and quick bread recipes. When this stage passes I plan on moving to my Bundt pan-stay tuned!

  • recipe adapted from KAF
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup good quality cocoa
  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 2 medium zucchini, unpeeled and shredded
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and grease your loaf pan. In a bowl beat the eggs, honey, oil, sugar and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix till smooth. Fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips. Bake for about an hour until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly before cutting.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Gratin

Please pardon the horrific picture. This simple yet delicious gratin (read: casserole) was made in the midst of a week of relentless rain, fog and eventually snow in which the sun didn't show it's face and all pictures I took came out looking like the one below. But because of said weather I felt the need to make lots of filling comfort food and let's face it, I was stuck indoors so there wasn't much else to do but cook-and this cheesy dish fit just the bill. It's like mac and cheese but healthier, and with broccoli -o.k, maybe it's not like mac and cheese at all but I kind of felt like I was eating mac and cheese even though it was with brown rice and lots of broccoli so I felt better scarfing it down.  I think my husband was a little nervous when I told him what I was making  and I could see his mind working on thinking of all the contents of the fridge he could fall back on if this turned into a disaster BUT he was in for a surprise because it was so. darn. good. I used brown rice because we are supposedly on a "diet" but feel free to use white rice and I used a combo of cheddar, yellow cheese and Parmesan cheese but feel free to use other cheeses if you have them such as Gruyere of Mozzarella. Enjoy!

3 cups cooked brown rice
1 head broccoli, broken into florets
4 Tbl butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbl flour
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup yellow cheese, shredded
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Blanch the broccoli florets in boiling salted water for 2 minutes and then drain. In a sauce pan heat the butter and saute the garlic cloves for about 2 minutes. Add the flour and whisk  constantly for about 3 minutes (the mixture will get thick) Slowly add the milk and mustard, season with salt and pepper and keep mixing until the mixture is thick, like a cheese sauce. Remove from heat and mix in all the cheeses reserving 1/4 cup of each cheese for the top.  Mix the rice, broccoli and cheese sauce together and pour into a greased pan. Top with the remaining cheeses and bake for 35 minutes until the top is golden.



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Spiced Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

I have always been a big fan of the sweet potato. Growing up my mother used to make them as a side dish for Shabbat by simply boiling them and then mashing them with some brown sugar and it was heavenly. I am sucker for anything with sweet potatoes on a menu and can't think of any sweet potato dish I have met and didn't like. So it is no wonder that I am always on the lookout for new ways to make sweet potatoes and this salad is a winner. The ginger and cumin gives great depth of flavor to the sweet potatoes as they roast and the little brown sugar enhances their sweetness. The dressing, though pretty typical gets a boost from delicious apricot jam which also gives the sweet potatoes a beautiful glossiness. It is great warm or room temperature and it has officially been added to my Shabbat rotation. Enjoy!

4 large sweet potatoes, chunked
3 Tbl oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp granulated brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
3 scallions, sliced
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup slivered almonds toasted

Preheat you oven to 400. On a sheet pan toss the sweet potatoes with the oil, ginger, cumin, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Roast for about 25-30 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender. While they are roasting prepare the dressing below. Remove the potatoes from the oven and let cool for about 10-15 minutes. While the potatoes are still warm dress with the dressing. Mix in the cranberries, almonds and scallions and serve warm or room temperature.

For the Dressing:
3 Tbl balsamic vinegar
2 Tbl good quality apricot jam
1 Tbl dijon mustard
1 Tbl honey
1 clove garlic, minced
2 1/2 Tbl oil

Whisk ingredients together until emulsified and pour over salad.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Turkey Minestrone Soup

Start taking out the pots and pans because you are going to want to make this soup tonight. Why? Because it's awesome! Honestly, minestrone soup has never appealed to me- partially because I don't like tomato based soups that much and partially because it always seemed like a pretty flavorless and blah soup and I'd much rather get my slurp on with a nice bowl of cream of anything soup. But I am swimming in lots of fresh, organic kale and trying to come up with new things to throw my kale into and minestrone popped into my mind. It should also be said that my husband has been asking for minestrone soup since day one but for the reasons outlined above I could never bring myself to make it. Well, let me tell you what made this soup awesome. Essentially what I did was create a turkey stock from turkey legs and classic stock vegetables and only after creating a rich flavorful broth did I start adding the ingredients to make it a classic minestrone. Using stock is always ideal but often it takes too much time to make or there is none left in the freezer and so the beauty of this recipe is that you make the stock in the same pot and at the same time as the soup. Then you also get the added bonus of chunks of tender turkey in your soup. Awesomeness. Of course, the kale in it was out of this world but feel free to substitute any local fresh green such as chard or spinach. Enjoy!

3 Tbl olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 turkey legs (or the equivalent of turkey thigh or wings)
4 liters water, about 16 cups
3 Tbl tomato paste
1 can crushed or chopped tomatoes
1 can white beans (cannellini, great northern...)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
3 zucchini, diced into a large dice
100 grams, about 4 cups Kale, swiss chard or spinach , roughly chopped
1 cup dried pasta, cooked separately till al dente and set aside

In a large pot heat the olive oil and saute the onion, garlic and celery together until translucent. Add the turkey legs, the water, season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium and let it cook for about an hour to an hour and a half until the turkey legs are tender. Skim any fat or residue and remove the turkey legs and set aside. Add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, oregano, basil, beans and zucchini. Shred the meat from the turkey legs and add into the pot. Re-season well with salt and pepper and cook together for half an hour. In the last few minutes of cooking at the kale and cook until wilted. Add some cooked pasta to each bowl before serving to avoid the pasta getting mushy. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Arugula and Persimmon Salad

This week I had the pleasure of truly experiencing what arugula should taste like. We bought arugula that was picked not half an hour before we got it and the pure arugula taste that came through was unbelievable-super peppery but with  deliciously tender leaves. It was actually my husband who dreamed up this salad. I suggested to have it with Feta cheese so that there would be an explosion of sweet, peppery, salty and tangy with every bite but my husband thought Parmesan would go better. We tried it both ways and Parmesan won out because the Feta was slightly too strong. To me the best part is the persimmon- while persimmons are in season we go through about 30 a week!  I throw them in salads all the time and they add great sweetness, texture and color. Either way it made for a delicious and refreshing lunch and if you can get fresh arugula I would urge you to try this. Enjoy!

5 cups arugula, rinsed and dried
2 Fuyu persimmons, sliced
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/8 cup slivered almonds, toasted

For the Dressing:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup light olive oil
3 Tbl Agave Necter (or honey)
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over salad.