Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Best Ever Onion Dip

This is the easiest and best dip ever!  It serves a crowd and can be made in advance for no-fuss entertaining.  I've plated it very simply in the photo above but you can make it très elegante.  Make your own chips or buy gourmet potato chips and using a pastry bag, pipe a dollop onto each individual chip.  Garnish with a sprig of chive and you have a New Year's Eve worthy canapé.  The flavors of this dip really pop in your mouth.  The caramelized onions are so sweet, and the white wine and sherry vinegar really add a tart-saltiness that balances everything perfectly.  Because the onions are caramelized, you don't have any of the sharp bite that an onion can sometimes have.  So, no stinky onion breath when you might be doing some New Year's smooching;)  For a more casual serving, I like to use the Kettle Brand salt and fresh ground pepper krinkle cut potato chips (as pictured above).  They are thick enough to hold up to a hearty dip and have a great crunch.  It's seriously addicting and I have to put a limit on how much I'll let myself have.  Make this for New Year's Eve/Day or for a  Super Bowl party.  You'll love it!  Enjoy and Happy New Year everyone.  
This recipe was inspired by an onion dip that I had at The Farm and Fisherman Tavern in Cherry Hill.  It's delicious and if you live in the south Jersey/Philly area you definitely need to go.  It's fantastic and one of my favorite places around.  Chef Todd is the best.  
Also, I want to do a long distance dedication to my good friend Carrie;)  We shared some of this dip together after Thanksgiving.  We don't live in the same state anymore and I miss her tons!  Bises!  

La Recette:

1-large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar* (or another white wine vinegar will work too) 
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons chives, chopped

1 - sauce pan
1 - wooden spoon
Measuring cups and spoons
Chef's knife
Cutting board
Vitamix, blender, or food processor (if you don't have any of these, chop the onions as finely as possible after you caramelize them.)

-Peel the onion, cut it in half and then make thin slices.  Put the onion and butter into the saucepan on medium-high heat.  Cover the pan and let the onion sweat out for 10-12 minutes.  After 10-12 minutes check the onion.  There should be some brown bits in the bottom of the pan.
-Add in 2 tablespoons of champagne vinegar (it will really steam up here) and with your wooden spoon, scrape up all of the brown bits.  This is a process called deglazing.  Add in the salt and pepper.  After you get most of the brown bits up, give the onions a good stir and let them cook for about 2-3 more minutes.  The onions should have a nice carmel color to them now.  
-Next, turn the heat off and let the onions sit for about 5 minutes.  Pour the onions into your Vitamix or blender.  Add in the cream cheese, sour cream, and sherry vinegar.  Blend until smooth.  
-Refrigerate for at least two hours or preferably overnight.  Garnish with chives.  Enjoy!

*I love the Napa Valley Naturals brand
**Recipe can be doubled.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Poached Egg Crostini with Sriracha Mayonnaise

So this is one of my favorite breakfasts ever.  I'm a huge breakfast fan.  If I had to pick, it is probably my favorite meal and these little scrumptious bites are mouth watering!  They would make a fantastic breakfast or brunch option on Christmas or New Years.  The best thing about these guys is that they are so customizable.  You can build them to taste and add in your favorite items! I happen to really like a bit of bite to my breakfast, so I created a spicy mayo.  If you aren't that into spice, an avocado mayo or roasted red pepper would be delicious.  If you need them to be vegetarian, just take out the salami.  I used cherry tomatoes but any veggie would work really well.  Mason doesn't like tomatoes yet, so I took them off of his crostini.  I'm not sure which veggie he would prefer!?  These little guys are really easy…you just need to practice poaching an egg a few times if you aren't too familiar.  Once you get the hang of it, it's simple.  The trick is creating a whirlpool in the water so that the egg white doesn't feather.  I'll include instructions and two quick video tutorials in the post.  So get your brunch on and try these delicious crostinis!  Enjoy!  

Use a circular cookie cutter and and make the crostini whichever size you prefer.   I am using Udi's white bread for the crostinis and about a 2 -2.5 inch diameter cutter.  

I've combined 3 tablespoons of mayo and 1 tablespoon of Sriracha.

The Sriracha mayo is delicious on the crostini and on a sandwich too!

Toast the crostini and mozzarella cheese until it just starts to brown.

Choose a salami that you really enjoy.

Start to build your crostini.

Include a veggie of your choice.

La Recette:

4 extra large eggs
4 slices - bread,  I like to use Udi's
4 tablespoons shredded Mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sriracha
4 slices salami, thinly sliced
4 cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
Chives, chopped for garnish
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar

Sauce pan
Small bowl
1 small mixing spoon
1 medium mixing spoon
Large slotted spoon
Chef's knife
Circular cookie cutter
Measuring spoons
Cutting board
Toaster oven

-Fill your sauce pan 3/4 full of water.  Bring to a boil.  When it starts to boil add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar to the pan.  
-While you are waiting for the water to boil, cut out your round bread circles using your round cutter.  Then place the cut out rounds in a toaster oven or regular oven, and toast until they are light brown.  About 4 minutes.
-Next, put about 1 tablespoon of Mozarella cheese on each crostini and toast until the cheese gets light brown as well, 2-3 minutes.
-While the cheese is melting, mix the mayo and sriracha together in a small bowl.  Slice your salami and tomatoes.  Also, chop the chives.  
-When the cheese is melted, take the crostini out and top with the salami and tomatoes.  Set aside.
-The water should be boiling, so add in the salt and vinegar.  With a mixing spoon, start mixing the boiling water in a circular motion so it looks like a whirlpool.  With the water circling, crack the egg and drop it right in the middle of the whirlpool.  Continue to stir for about 30 seconds and then let the egg cook for about 3 minutes.  
-After 3-4 minutes remove the egg from the water with a slotted spoon, and set the egg (while it's still on the slotted spoon) on a paper towel to drain.  Repeat and change the water once.  Add the salt and vinegar in again if you change the water.  I only change the water if it looks really cloudy.  You can do more than one egg at once, but I like the results when you do one a a time.  
-Once the egg has drained for a minute or two, you can place the egg on the crostini.  Top with the chopped chives.

Here are two quick video tutorials on how to poach an egg.  The key steps are:
1.  Make a whirlpool
2.  Drop the egg in the middle of the whirlpool.
3.  Keep stirring the egg for about 30 seconds after you drop it in.  Cook for about 3 minutes total.

As long as it's still the holiday season, I thought I would include a photo of my most coveted gift this
year -hint to Jake ;)  I'll see if he is reading.  Aren't they stunning?!  They're at Bergdorfs and it's really just wishful thinking at this point…but maybe an anniversary gift in April?  Happy Holidays everyone!  

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pumpkin Doughnuts with Powdered Sugar

I LOVE pumpkin flavor anything and quite honestly, October isn't long enough for me to get my pumpkin fix. So, I eat pumpkin flavored goodies all the way through November as well.  Although after November, I've pretty much had it and move on to peppermint. This recipe is quick, delicious and it definitely won't disappoint.  These doughnuts are baked, not fried.  They are sweet and chewy on the inside and have just the right amount of pumpkin flavor.  Quite simply-I love them.  They are a huge hit with my kids and I make them for Mason when we go apple or pumpkin picking so he can have a fun treat.  They are also egg free as well. Enjoy these yummy pumpkin morsels!

You only need a doughnut pan to make this recipe.  I bought mine a Sur La Table.  Spoon in the batter into the pan, filling each one about three-quaters full.

La Recette:

Non-stick baking spray
2 cups gluten free baking mix
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Doughnut baking pan
1 large bowl and 1 medium bowl
Measuring cups and spoons
Mixing spoons
Small strainer for dusting the doughnuts with confectioner's sugar

-Spray the doughnut pan with non-stick baking spray and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Make sure the oven rack is positioned in the middle.
-In a medium bowl, mix together the gluten free baking mix, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Set aside.
-In a large bowl, whisk together the 1 1/2 cups of sugar, milk, sour cream, pumpkin purée, butter and vanilla making sure everything is incorporated.
-Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.  
-Spoon the batter into the baking pan, filling each one about three-quarters full.  Bake for 16-17 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Don't over bake.  
-Let the doughnuts cool for a few minutes and then tap them out onto a cooling rack.  Filling a small strainer with confectioner's sugar, dust the doughnuts to taste.  Enjoy!  

*Make 14-16 doughnuts
*If you keep the doughnuts in a sealed container, the confectioner's sugar will absorb into the doughnut.  Just lightly re-sprinkle or eat as is.  
*Best if eaten within 3-5 days and kept in a sealed container.  
*I like Farmer's Market Organic Pumpkin Purée.  It's non-GMO certified and it comes in a can that is BPA free.  Also, I use Spectrum non-stick canola oil spray.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bacon & Chicken Liver Dog Treats with a Ketchup Glaze

First, I need to apologize for not posting sooner.  Believe it or not, I am having trouble adjusting to the kids' new schedule.  It's the end of October and I am still so unorganized.  Hopefully, I'll get back on track soon.  Next, I am seriously embarrassed to admit that this is the first time I've ever made treats for my best doggy-boy L.T.  As much as I love to bake and cook, I've never baked him anything.  Nada.  Zilch.  Rien.  It makes me feel like a bad Mom and it's going to stop immediately.  From now on, he's going to get great treats.  Thomas Keller caliber treats.  And actually, this is a Thomas Keller recipe from his Bouchon Bakery cookbook.  I've made them gluten free because I think L.T. gets itchy when he eats gluten (I know it sounds weird) and I don't do any gluten baking in the house.  He loved them and gobbled them up unlike any other treat I've ever given him.  I can also verify their tastiness.  I tried one.  Hilarious but I ate one up and I can see why a dog would go crazy for them.  Very chicken livery:). I also gave him little bites of dough along the way- it was so cute!  L.T. is like a child to me.  He is the sweetest dog and is actually the only one in  my home who listens to me and definitely the most well behaved.  I love this little guy so much and I am going to make him a lot more of these treats.  He deserves it - such a wonderful dog!    

L.T waiting patiently until I give him the o.k. to dive in.  Look at that face!  

Licking his chops.

Asking for more treats after he's already finished a few...

La Recette:

1 lb- sliced bacon cut into 1-inch wide pieces
13 oz. - chicken livers cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon - fine cornmeal
3 cups + 3 tablespoons - gluten free baking mix (or all purpose flour)
1 tablespoon - extra virgin olive oil
1 - 1 1/2 cups - chicken stock

Ketchup Glaze-
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 egg white

Stand or hand mixer
Blender or food processor
Saute pan
Baking sheets
Parchment paper and/or silpats
Metal wire rack, and aluminum foil for cooking bacon
Chef's knife
Measuring cups and spoons
Rolling pin
Small bowl
Pastry brush
Bone cookie cutter (any size works).  I ordered a trio of cutters from Amazon and I prefer the smallest size (1 3/4 inch), as L.T. is under 20 pounds when he is on his diet ;)

-Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
-Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
-Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.
-Line one baking sheet well with aluminum foil.
-Place the bacon on the wire rack and then place the wire rack on the baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
-Cook the bacon for 20 minutes in the oven.   Remove the bacon and let it cool to room temperature.
-Turn the oven temperature down to 250 degrees.
-Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the saute pan and then add the chicken livers.  Cook for about 5 minutes turning frequently and smashing them slightly until they are broken down and become a paste.  Don't over cook.
-Place the chicken livers and bacon into a blender or food processor and process until paste like and well combined.  Add in the cornmeal and process until you have a course mixture.
-Transfer the mixture to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Slowly add the flour and mix until combined.
-Next, slowly add 1 - 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock.  The dough should be moist to touch and gather around the paddle.
-Remove the dough from the mixture and knead it just enough until well combined.
-Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll the it out to 3/8 - inch thick.
- Using the dog bone cutter, cut out the treats and place them on the prepared pans.
-Knead the leftover dough together and repeat.  If you use the smallest dog bone cookie cutter, it makes a lot of treats.  You can cut the dough in half and freeze it in an airtight container for up to 3 months.  Or cut out all of the treats and freeze them on the prepared pans.
-Bake until treats are completely dry.  1 1/2 hours in a convection oven and 3 hours in a standard oven.
-For the glaze, remove the treats from the oven, and reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees.
-In a small bowl, whisk the tomato paste and egg white together until well combined.
-Using a pastry brush, cover the treats with the glaze.  Return the pans to the oven and bake for 20 minutes so the glaze is set.
-Remove from the oven and let the treats cool to room temperature.
-The treats can be stored in a covered container for up to 1 month.
-I hope your pooch enjoys :)

*The smallest size (1 3/4 inch) makes 190-200 treats.
*I would also like to note that every year on L.T.'s birthday, I make him a petite filet.  So, I'm not a completely neglectful Mommy!

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Tale of Two Veggies...

So, it's always a constant struggle for me to get my kids to eat green vegetables.  They are really good with seafood and fruit but if it's green, it usually doesn't even make it to the, "just try it" stage.  The benefits of green veggies are endless.  They are rich sources of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, beta-carotene, vitamin B-complex, and vitamins, C, A, and K.  I would really like my kids to consume more of this stuff.  Over the summer I made Green Goddess dressing for Mason and he loved it.  Then, I had the idea that if I created something to accompany the veggies for them to dip into, it might make things a little more interesting.  I discovered that I was 50% successful.  The asparagus was a no go (I happened to love it), but the Sugar Snap Peas with Green Goddess dressing was a big hit!  Cucumbers also work really well with Green Goddess dressing.  I actually like the dressing so much that I found myself licking the spoon.  Weird but it's great.  Maybe I should try it with the asparagus but I loved the honey mustard sauce pictured above.  If you have the same issues as I do, try these two recipes.  They are quick, delicious sides for almost any meal.  I also found that the kids seemed really interested in the vegetables that I grew in my garden.  I even caught them picking sugar snap peas off of the stems and eating them in the back yard!  Gasp!  Well, it made my day and in the mean time I am going to be the biggest green veggie pusher in town.

Sugar Snap Peas with Green Goddess dressing

*Both recipes call for blanching and shocking the vegetables.  It essentially means boiling the veggies for 3-4 minutes and then putting them in ice water.  I am a big fan of this.  They are cooked just enough and retain their vibrant green color.  

Les Recettes:

Asparagus with Honey Mustard-
1 bunch - fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed
1/4 cup dijon mustard
2 tablespoons German Style mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
Sprig of parsley for garnish

Sauce pan
Large bowl
Small bowl
Meauring cup and spoons
Serving plate and small bowl
Slotted spoon

-Fill the sauce pan 3/4 full of water.  Bring to a boil.
-In the meantime, combine the Dijon mustard, German mustard, and honey together in a small bowl and whisk until well combined.  Garnish with a sprig of Parsley.
-Fill the large bowl with ice water.
-Once the water is at a rolling boil, pour in a tablespoon of kosher salt and dump in the asparagus. Cook for 4-5 minutes.
-After 4-5 minutes, remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon and place them in the ice water.  
-Leave the asparagus in the ice water for about 10 minutes. 
-Drain well and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt.  Plate and serve.  Enjoy!  

Sugar Snap Peas with Green Goddess Dressing-
~ 1 lb. Sugar Snap Peas, washed
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup fresh basil (packed)
3 - scallions, chopped
1 - clove garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sauce pan
Large bowl
Measuring cups and spoons
Blender, food processor, or Vitamix
Slotted spoon
Serving bowl and plate

-Fill the sauce pan 3/4 full of water.  Bring to a boil.
-In the meantime, combine all ingredients (not the Sugar Snaps) into your blender/Vitamix and blend until smooth.  You may need to scrape the sides down one or twice with a spatula.  Pour into a small serving bowl.
-Fill the large bowl with ice water.
-Once the water is at a rolling boil, pour in a tablespoon of kosher salt and dump in the sugar snaps. Cook for 3 minutes.
-After three minutes, remove the sugar snap peas with a slotted spoon and place them in the ice water.  Keep them in the water for roughly 10 minutes.  Drain well and serve with the Green Goddess dressing.  Enjoy ;)

-Serves 4. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Chocolate, Cherry, Coconut Chunk Cookies

The rich, chocolaty flavor of these cookies is so addictive, and when you add in the sweet, tart cherries and crunchy coconut - you have a perfect cookie!  I couldn't stop snacking on them, so I had to give all of them away.  I love the combination of coconut and chocolate.  It's one of my favorite food pairings.   Gabby loves coconut but Mason hasn't always been the biggest fan.  He really loved these cookies though so maybe he is starting to like coconut a little more.  I think this is a really great cookie in the  fall and winter.  They are really decadent but not dense at all.  Mason told me that they tasted like the chocolate soufflé I recently made.  And on cold fall mornings, they are great with a hot cup of coffee!  Enjoy ;)

La Recette:

8 oz. unsalted butter*, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 extra large eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder - I really like Scharffen Berger
2 cups gluten free baking mix
1 cup unsweetened thick-flaked coconut shavings
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried sour cherries
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

4 - baking sheets lined with parchment paper
Stand or hand mixer (stand mixer use the paddle attachment)
Wooden spoon
Measuring cups and spoons
Medium bowl and a large bowl if you are using a hand mixer

-Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and use the middle rack of the oven.
-In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment cream the butter until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes), then slowly add in the sugar and mix on a medium low speed for another 3-4 minutes.
-Add in the eggs one at a time and then the almond extract.  Mix until everything is well combined.  
-In a medium bowl, mix together the gluten free baking mix, cocoa powder, coconut shavings, chocolate chips, cherries, baking soda and salt.  Mix until well combined then slowly add it to the egg mixture on a low speed.  
-Mix well until everything is incorporated.  Take a spatula and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl, getting the bottom too.  Mix again on a low speed for 1-2 minutes.
-Using a tablespoon, scoop the dough into balls and place them on the lined baking sheets 1- 1.5 inches apart.  It should be a heaping tablespoon (about a tablespoon and a half).  
-Place the baking sheet into the freezer for 10 minutes or the refrigerator for 20 minutes before baking.
-Bake for 12 minutes, remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

-Makes 36-40 cookies (depending on the size you choose to make)
*I like to buy European style butter or Earth Balance Vegan Sticks can be used for dairy free purposes.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Beet Carpaccio Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

I love this salad.  It makes a great lunch or starter for dinner.  It's really simple to prepare, and a few steps can be done in advance to make it even easier!  The roasted red pepper dressing on this salad is one of my favorites, but if you are like my friend Natalie and can't eat bell peppers, a simple red wine or balsamic vinegar dressing will work beautifully :)  This salad is delicious but to be honest, my kids don't eat it.  They love feta and pine nuts but I am still working on everything else.  I'll keep putting it in front of them until they like it.  I'm nothing if not persistent!  
I was recently at a school event where one of the Moms speaking to the group mentioned that she didn't have to make dinner that night, which was a bonus.  I can't even express how much I dislike hearing comments like that, but I get it.  Some days I barely get a shower in so I really get it, but that's the reason I created this blog.  I want to help my readers find recipes that they can easily make and their family will enjoy.  So now I'm on a mission…I'm bringing family dinners back (insert Justin Timberlake music).  I want to challenge everyone to make dinner for their family at least twice a week.  And invite friends over to have dinner with you because hospitality is a lost art too!  To quote the greatest chef of all time, Thomas Keller, "When we eat together, when we set out to do so deliberately, life is better, no matter what your circumstances."  Cooking for your family is one of the healthiest things you can do, so let's get into the kitchen and start making some dinners!     

I used to shy away from cooking beets but you don't need to…they are super easy.  Just wash, trim, and wrap them in foil.  Place them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake at 425 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  

Cooking beets is as easy is 1-2-3.  Trim, wrap, and place in the oven.  After the beet are cool enough to handle, the skin just peels right off and they are ready to slice.  

Mason and Gabby just finished their first full week of school.  The beginning of the school year is always bitter sweet for me and I find myself fighting back tears.  I am so happy for their milestones but  sad about how quickly time passes.  I try to enjoy every day…even the ones when I am screaming and pulling my hair out!  And if everything else fails, a glass of wine always warms my heart ;) 

La Recette:

4 cups baby arugula, washed and dried
3 medium sized golden beets* (red beets work too if you can find golden), roasted and thinly sliced
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (I like to do this in a toaster oven on medium high for 3-4 minutes.  Keep an eye on them because they can go from light to very dark brown in a second.  You are looking for a light brown).
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 red pepper, roasted and chopped - see my post from the week before about how to roast red peppers
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon good quality maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sumac**
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Baking sheet
Aluminum foil
Chefs Knife
Measuring cups and spoons
Large bowl
Medium bowl
Blender, Vitamix, or food processor
Mandolin (optional)

-Make the dressing first.  Combine the red wine vinegar, red pepper, garlic, Dijon, maple syrup, sumac, salt and pepper, in a blender, Vitamix (I just bought one and it's incredible), or food processor.  Process until well combined.  With the motor running slowly add in the extra virgin olive oil.  Set aside.
-Pour half the dressing in the bottom of the large bowl.  Put the 4 cups of arugula on top and toss well so the dressing is evenly distributed over the arugula.
-Arrange the dressed arugula on a serving dish.  Layer the beets on top (see the above photos for how to cook the beets).  You can use a Chef's Knife to thinly slice them or I prefer a mandolin.  If you don't have one, a knife is just fine.  A mandolin gets them precisely thin.
-Next layer the tomatoes, pine nuts and feta.  Drizzle the remainder of the dressing over the top.

-Serves 4

*The dressing and the beets can be done ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 1 week.
**Sumac comes from the berries of a wild bush that grows in most Mediterranean areas.  The berries are dried and crushed to form a purple-redish powder.  It is a staple spice in Israeli cooking and has a rich, tart-lemony flavor.  I love it and I buy mine at Whole Foods.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Smoked Paprika Seared Salmon & Chickpea Hash

This is a great dish anytime of the year.  The flavors really pop in your mouth.  The red pepper and sun dried tomatoes compliment the capers and red onion, giving it a sweet and salty flavor.  Smoked paprika is one of my favorite seasonings.  The sweet, smoky flavor goes well with almost anything.  The last week was so hectic with school being back in session.  I apologize for not posting sooner.  Even though the days get really busy, I still like to make dinner for Jake and the kids and this dinner is easy, elegant and super tasty.  Mason is in first grade now, at a new school, and it's so difficult to get information out of him as to how his day went.  When we all sit down together for dinner, this meal maximizes the amount of information I can extract ;)  Dinner time doesn't always go smoothly but I've got to give it a try.  Having a tasty and healthy dish really helps!  I hope everyone's Fall is off to a good start!  

It's a great dish to eat al fresco with a glass of white wine.

Chickpea hash

Seared salmon going into the oven to finishing cooking…

La Recette:

4 - 6 oz. salmon filets
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (Trader Joe's has a great one)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 - 15 oz. cans chickpeas
1 roasted red pepper *, thinly sliced
1 jalepeño, finely chopped, seeds, stem and ribs removed 
6-8 sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
4 cups fresh spinach 
1/2 large red onion - finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine (whatever you are drinking that night works)
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or another white wine vinegar if you can't find champagne)
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and dried
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of one lemon
Parsley for garnish

2 - sauté pans
Baking sheet
Aluminum foil
Measuring cups and spoons
Microplane zester or rasp
Chef's knife
Mixing spoon

-Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
-Remove the salmon from the refrigerator and let it sit out for about twenty minutes before cooking it.  Sprinkle each filet with a 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika, and kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
-While you are waiting for the salmon to come to room temperature, start on the chickpea hash.
-Pour 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a sauté pan on medium high heat.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.  1-2 minutes.  Keep an eye on it because garlic can burn quickly and burnt garlic tastes very bitter.
-Next add the onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes, add the jalepeño and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
-Pour in the 1/2 cup white wine and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
-Add the spinach and chickpeas and turn the heat down to medium.  Sauté for 5-6 minutes.
-Next add the roasted red pepper, sun dried tomatoes, and capers.  Mix well.  
-Finally, add the champagne vinegar, lemon zest and juice.  Mix well and continue to cook on low heat.
-In the other sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil until very hot.  Place the salmon in the pan two filets at a time, skin side up.  Cook for about 3 minutes or until you see the salmon is cooked about 2/3 of the way up (see above picture).
-Place the salmon on a baking sheet, skin side down, and bake in the oven for about 6 minutes.
-Remove from the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes.  When you take the salmon off of the baking dish, use a spatula and the skin should come right off.  I like baking the fish with the skin because it adds a lot of flavor.  
-Turn the heat off on the chickpea hash and spoon into a bowl.  Place the salmon on top, garnish with a parsley leaf and serve immediately. 

-Serves 4 adults

*You can buy roasted red peppers but I like to do it myself, in the oven, grill or even the toaster oven.  If it's on the grill, just make sure the grill is hot and place the peppers right on the hot grill.  Keep rotating until it's lightly blackened and soft.  Then place in them in a bowl and cover for about 10 -15 minutes, so they continue to steam.  The skin should easily peel off.  If it's in the oven/toaster oven, place the peppers on a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes at 400 degrees.  Again, place in a bowl after and cover.   They keep in the fridge for about a week and are great in salads and sandwiches.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cookie Dough Ice Cream

It all started when I bought David Lebovitz's ice cream cook book, The Perfect Scoop, and this summer has become an ice cream making extravaganza.  I am a huge fan of his and all of his recipes are fantastic.  If you don't have the book, you should definitely buy it.  This recipe is probably one of my favorites.  It was inspired from his cook book but the recipe has been changed for gluten free purposes.  When I was little, cookie dough ice cream was one of my favorite flavors.  Mason has never had cookie dough ice cream before and it made me so happy that I could make it for him!  I really try to limit sugar intake and promote healthy eating.  In fact, I'm sure Mason and Gabby are really tired of me constantly pushing fruits and veggies on them, but it's a Mom requirement and something I'll probably always do;)
For a special treat, this ice cream is incredible and it's something I can give Mason that he can't normally have. And it's homemade, which is even better!  I buy organic, good quality milk which only enhances the flavor. Also, ice cream makers aren't particularly expensive.  Williams Sonoma has one for about $70 and you can probably find one for about $50.  So, even though summer is almost over, I'm still going to be making delicious ice cream all year long!

Cookie dough mixed in the bowl.

Press the cookie dough into a flat disk and place in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for a least an hour.  

Ice cream base thickening after the yolks have been added.  It should be added to coat a spoon.

Mason enjoying cookie dough ice cream after running around in the yard!

La Recette:

Ice cream-
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 egg yoks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract - I like the Nielsen-Massey brand.  It's certified GF and kosher.  
Pinch kosher salt

Cookie dough-
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup rice flour* - I like Bob's Red Mill
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar 
1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips - I like the Enjoy Life brand
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Ice Cream maker
Medium sauce pan
Wooden spoon
Mixing spoon
2 large bowls
1 medium bowl
Plastic wrap
Measuring cups and spoons

-In a medium saucepan, combine the whole milk, 1 cup of heavy cream, sugar and salt.  On medium high heat and stirring frequently, heat mixture until just before a boil.  Turn the heat off and set aside.  Let it sit for about 10 minutes.  
-In the meantime, put the other cup of cream and the teaspoon of vanilla in a large bowl, and put a strainer on top.  Set aside. 
-Next, put the eggs yolks into one of the large bowls.  Whisk the egg yolks together until well combined.  Whisking continuously, pour the cream mixture into the eggs and mix well.  
-Pour the egg/cream mixture back into the saucepan and over medium-high heat, stir continuously until the mixture thickens, 5-7 minutes.  You want to make sure that you stir the mixture the whole time so the eggs don't cook.   It will coat the back of the wooden spoon and appear thicker.  
-Pour the mixture through the strainer and into the bowl with the other cup of heavy cream.  Mix a few times to make sure it is combined.
-Place in the refrigerator and chill for a least two hours.
-Next, in a medium bowl, combine the rice flour, brown sugar, mini chocolate chips, and salt.  Mix well.  Making sure the butter is a room temperature, pour the butter into the mixture and then add the vanilla.  Mix well.
-Pour the dough onto plastic wrap and form into a flat disk.  Wrap it up and refrigerate for a least an hour.  Remove from the fridge about 15 minutes before you plan on using it.
-Pour the chilled ice cream base into the cold cylinder and follow the instructions for your ice cream maker.  It usually takes between 15-20 minutes.  The ice cream will look like soft serve when it is done.  
-While the ice cream is mixing, take the disk of cookie dough and break off about 1/2 teaspoon size pieces and roll into small balls.  
-When the ice cream is done, gently fold in the cookie dough balls.
-Spoon the ice cream into a freezer container (Sur la Table sells great ice cream containers) and freeze for at least three hours or preferably over night.  

 -Makes 1 quart.
*My general rule is that if it's 3/4 cup or under I just use plain rice flour without making my gf flour blend.  If you don't need gluten free, all purpose flour can be used.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Peach Galette

This galette is such a fantastic summer dessert.  It's so versatile.  You can use plums or any other kind of berries you like.  In the Fall, I love to make apple galettes.  A galette is essentially a free form tart.  I love it because it's not time consuming but I always feel like I accomplished something when I'm done.  They look so beautiful and you really get to work with the dough.  This particular crust is very light, buttery and flaky.  You would never know that it's gluten free - ever.  Peaches are in peak season, so they taste extra sweet and delicious.  Mason and Gabby have really been eating a lot of peaches this summer, so this dessert really hits the spot.  Add a little homemade whipped cream (see kitchen tips) or vanilla ice cream and you have a great treat to enjoy outside after dinner before the fireflies come out!      

Ready to cut!

Shape the dough into a 6 - inch round.  Place in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes until dough has chilled.  It can keep in the fridge for one day.

Roll the dough out in-between two pieces of parchment paper. 

Roll the dough out to just about a 12 - inch round.

Arrange the peaches in a circular pattern and brush the edges with heavy cream.


La Recette:

1 1/2 cups gluten free baking mix (or if you don't need GF, all purpose flour works too)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter*, cut into small pieces
1/4-1/2 cup ice water
5 ripe peaches, halved, pitted and sliced 1/8-1/4 inch thick
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Food processor, Vitamix, or blender (if you don't have any of these, you can do it by hand)
Rolling pin
Baking sheet
Parchment paper
Paring knife
Medium size bowl
Measuring cups and spoons
Pastry brush
Balloon whisk or hand mixer for whipped cream

-In a food processor, pulse the gluten free baking mix, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and salt until combined.  Add the butter and pulse until the dough looks like coarse meal.  With the motor running, slowly add in the water until the dough starts to come together.  Transfer the dough to plastic wrap and press to a 6 inch round disk. -Cover the dough completely and place in the refrigerator for  30-60 minutes.
-In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  In a medium bowl, add the peaches, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and corn starch.  Mix well until all ingredients are combined.  The mixture will be very juicy.  Set aside.  
-Have a baking sheet ready and place two sheets of parchment paper on the counter.  Both sheets of parchment should be at least 20 inches long.  
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it in the middle of the parchment paper.  Remove the plastic wrap let it sit for 3-4 minutes.  Place the other sheet of parchment paper on top.
-Using your rolling pin, starting from the center and working out, quickly roll the dough to a 12 - inch round.  Gluten free dough has a tendency to crack.  If this happens, just push the cracks together.  Once you have about 12 inches, remove the top parchment and transfer the dough with the parchment paper to the baking sheet.  Just pick the parchment and dough up together.
-Leaving an inch border around the edge, take the peaches from the bowl, one by one, and arrange them in a circular pattern.  You will have a lot of left over juices.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the juice over the peaches.
-Gently roll/fold the dough up to the edge of the peaches and place the galette in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes until chilled.  (If the gluten free dough becomes to soft, you may have to refrigerate the galette for 15 minutes before folding the edges.)
-Brush the dough with a tablespoon of the cream and sprinkle the dough with a tablespoon of granulated sugar.
-Place on the middle rack of your oven, and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown.
-Let the galette cool for 15-20 minutes.  Serve warm or room temperature and with whipped cream, ice cream or as is.

-Serves 8
*If you need dairy free, replace the butter with Earth Balance sticks and don't use heavy cream for brushing the dough.  Instead of using cream, you can brush the dough with the extra juice from the peaches.  This recipe is naturally egg free and can easily be made dairy free.  

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Quick Pasta with Basil, Roasted Tomatoes and Parmesan

My good friend Emily sent me a text a few weeks ago and asked for an easy dinner option for her family.  I use this recipe all of the time, and I don't know why I've never posted it.  It's a family favorite and it's probably the quickest dinner you'll ever make.   It's a summer meal that really hits the spot.  My kids love it, but they tend to pick around the tomatoes.  I hope that eventually they will start to love them like I do ;)  I personally think the tomatoes for this dish are so good that I save any leftovers to munch on throughout the day.  They are sweet and salty and super juicy.  Another bonus is because this meal requires so few ingredients that there is very little clean up.  Enjoy this easy breezy pasta dish!

Roasted tomatoes are my favorite!

La Recette:

1 lb. gluten free pasta of choice - Penne, Rigatoni, or Spaghetti work well (if you don't need GF regular pasta will work too)
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
1/4 basil, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

Large Sauce pan
Slotted spoon
Baking sheet
Parchment paper
Chef's knife
Measuring cups and spoons
Cutting board

-Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
-Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the sliced tomatoes out evenly, sprinkle with salt and place in the oven for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside.  This step can be done in advance.  Tomatoes can be kept in the refrigerator for a week.  
-In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil.  As soon as you have a rolling boil, sprinkle in 2 teaspoons of salt and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
-Cook the pasta to al dente, mixing frequently (especially with GF pasta).  *Make sure to reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before you drain it.  
-While the pasta is cooking, grate the cheese and chop the basil.
-Drain the pasta and put it back into the sauce pan.  Add in the garlic and tomatoes while the pasta is still hot.  Wait five minutes and add in the basil and cheese.  Mix well.
-Next, add in the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, reserved pasta water, kosher salt, pepper, and pepper flakes if desired.  Mix well, making sure everything is combined.  
-Garnish with extra Parmesan, serve warm and enjoy!

-Serves 4 adults

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Seafood Salad

This salad is probably one of my favorite dinners to make in the summer.   Paired with a mojito or a  rosé wine, it's fabulous.  It's light, healthy and so refreshing.  It's perfect after a day at the beach or the pool.  The sweet, crisp shrimp and champagne vinegar are a delicious combination.  I'll admit that it's not the quickest recipe.  There is a lot of chopping involved but it's completely worth it.  I like to get my mise en place set up the night before, meaning that I chop everything ahead of time, and then cook the shrimp the day I am serving the recipe.  That way the only thing I have to do is mix everything up!  And, my kids it eat!  That's the best part for me.  My kids have trouble with green vegetables but they are good seafood eaters.  Up until now, they wouldn't eat crab readily, but I told them after the fact and they both enjoyed it.  Try this recipe as soon as possible and I hope everyone enjoys their last month of summer!

Chopped and ready to mix.

I really like this rosé and it was delicious with the salad.

Dig in!

La Recette:

1 lb. shrimp (31-40 count) peeled and deveined*, tails on
1 lb. bluefin jumbo lump crab meat, picked through for shells
3-4 cups baby arugula (or another green that is similar - I happen to love arugula)
1/2 cup cornichons, finely chopped (cornichons are pickles made from tiny cucumbers - Trader Joe's are great)
1/2 cup pitted green spanish olives, finely chopped
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, roasted and roughly chopped**
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons jalepeños, finely chopped, seeds and stems removed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Scant 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon (squeezed on the salad right before serving)

Cutting Board
Chef's knife
Baking sheet
Aluminum foil
Small colander (for the capers)
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Large mixing spoon
1 large mixing bowl
1 small mixing bowl
Balloon whisk
Large serving platter

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
-Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the shrimp on the sheet in a single layer.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.
-Bake for 7-8 minutes until light pink.  Remove from the oven and remove the shrimp immediately from the baking sheet.  I usually lift the aluminum foil off of the baking sheet and carefully transfer it to the counter top.  This way the shrimp won't overcook.  Let the shrimp come to room temperature.
-Combine all of the chopped ingredients, cornichons, olives, red onion, celery, red pepper, parsley, jalepeños, and capers into a large bowl.  I have to quickly sauté the onions and celery.  My husband, Jake, can't eat raw celery so I sauté it for 3-4 minutes.  I add in the red onion just to take the bite out.  It's still crunchy and the colors are still vibrant.  If you don't have this situation, it's not necessary.
-When the shrimp is cool add it into the large bowl as well.
-Add in the crab meat and mix everything really well.  You want to see all of the colors evenly distributed in the salad.
-In a small bowl, whisk the extra virgin olive oil,  champagne vinegar, salt and pepper together.
-Pour it over the salad and mix again really well.
-Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to let all of the flavors come together.
-After 20 minutes, remove the salad from the fridge and cut the lemon in half.  Squeeze the lemon juice on top, catching any seeds.
-You can use a large serving platter or plate individually.  If you plate individually, divide the greens up evenly onto each plate.  If you choose to use a large serving platter, arrange the arugula on the platter and place the salad on top.
-Serve immediately and enjoy!

-Serves 4 adults

*See my video in quick kitchen tips on how to peel and devein shrimp
**You can buy roasted red peppers but I like to roast my own.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Cut the pepper in half, seeds and stems removed and place on a baking sheet, skin side up.   Roast for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place the peppers in a medium sized bowl.  Cover with aluminum foil for 10-15 minutes.  The skin will peel right off and then you just need to chop when they are cool enough to handle.  I like to do more than one at once and they can keep in the fridge for about one week.  They are great on sandwiches or in dips.  You can also char them on the grill or stove top if you have a gas range.

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