Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pink Peppercorn Butter

Adding the ingredients togther

Mixing them all up

Making a roll to refrigerate

Slicing it up

I've been wanting to make a compound butter for awhile now. I thought my first one would be herby. Maybe parsley or chive butter. But I saw this pink peppercorn butter and thought, 'how cute!'
It's pretty damn amazing. The Bon Appetite link has a pan seared steak and red wine sauce with it, which I also did but will be posted later. This recipe was also super fabulous.

Pink Peppercorn Butter
Adapted from Bon Appetite

1/4 c. room temperature butter
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme (I only had dry)
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. crushed pink peppercorn
freshly crushed salt

Mix all ingredients. Place butter on top of plastic wrap. Make a cylinder and refrigerate, but bring back to room temp before using.

Garbanzo Bean Salad and the Bon Appetite Files

Talk about a cooking streak. After the holidays I burnt myself out. Didn't even want to think about cooking. We had a work potluck and I didn't make anything for it, the kitchen was not a comfort to me, like it usually is. So, I took a break and now I'm diving back in. 

Oh, the recipes I want to try!
I've had a subscription to Bon Appetite for over two years now. I read the issue, try a recipe or two and than to the den it goes. They pile up and I don't want to give them away, because why would I want to give away awesome recipes?! But I'm not doing anything with them. So I am starting to revisit my older issues, like from 2010 and early 2011. It's like reading them for the first time. Recipes that might have intimidated me two years ago, or ingredients that I never wanted to cook with now seem appealing and exciting to try. I reread articles that now resonate with me, or articles that I found inspiration in at the time, and have now renewed my passion.

I cut out all the pages of the magazine that I liked and organized them in a small filing box by ingredient. Meat, Veggie, Dessert etc. And now I have been planning out a week in cooking and buying all the ingredients during the weekend. It feels super awesome to be so organized for once. I'm not coming home and wondering what's for dinner. Or taking the bus the grocery store after work every day. That is just so time consuming. I'm preparing things the day before and it's so nice to come home and have things partially prepped for me. In fact the garbanzo bean salad isn't even for tonight, it's for tomorrow. And finally, finally I can take into account the fresh herbs or perishable items that I have on hand and organize my meals around that. Why, oh why, did I not do this ages ago?? But now I'm doing it and it's so efficient it's freaking me out. I am a worrier. I worry when things are going well or horribly wrong. I worry.

Garbanzo Bean Salad
Adapted from Bon Appetite

1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans
2 Tb. chopped fresh basil
2 Tb. chopped fresh parsley
2 Tb. fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons EVOO (shit! now that I am writing this down I realize I added 4 Tb. ooops!)
1 small garlic clove pressed
1/3 c. packed freshly grated parmesean
dash of garlic powder
splash of lime juice

Add all ingredients. Serve chilled or at room temp.

Crock Pot Enchiladas

Shredding some chicken

Adding the Cilantro

Safeway's awesome triple roasted salsa with scallions

I'm a little crushed. I went to the grocery store and bought a number of things including spinach, and somehow left the spinach there. :(. It's hard even thinking about it. It's those stupid self check out stands. I'm not a big fan of them. You're constantly getting these alerts, it reminds me of work. Not mentioned in the recipe below is that our chicken happened to be marinating in Garlic Expressions Classic Vinaigrette and a little bit of dijon mustard over night. Those juices also went into the crock pot.

Crock Pot Enchiladas
Very loosely adapted from Real Simple

1 can chopped tomatoes
1 chicken breast
splash of Franks Red Hot
dash of cayenne
1/2 onion, chopped
handful of frozen corn
handful of cilantro, cleaned, separated from stems
handful of scallions, chopped
shredded cheese

Put the first four ingredients in a slow cooker. 2-3 hours later, shred the chicken, put back in slow cooker. Caramelize onion in olive oil. When almost ready to serve add frozen corn. Build your enchilada and top with salsa and scallions.

Crock Pot Tikka Masala with Cilantro Rice

This recipe made me fall in love with our crock pot all over again. So easy!!! So easy to make!!! And so delicious! I had to slow myself down when I was eating it. Seriously. If you have slow cooker and you like indian food you must absolutely make this. I don't know how most crock pot works but ours is small and you can remove the bowl from the heating device. So, I made this the night before and put the container in the fridge, Casey woke up he turned it on and when I came home there was dinner! Already made and barley a mess to clean up!

Crock Pot Tikka Masala
Adapted from Real Simple

1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, whole
2 Tb. tomato paste
2 tsp. Garam Masala
1 chicken breast
1 c. jasmine rice
heavy cream

The night before (though you could do this in the morning if you really really wanted to):

In slow cooker combine first five ingredients with some salt and pepper. Place chicken on top.

The day of:

In the morning turn your slow cooker on. For us, about eight hours later we came home, shredded the chicken, and put it back on the heat. Cook the jasmine rice and while it's cooking clean and pick off the cilantro leaves. When the rice is done, add the cilantro. Add the heavy cream to the crock pot, let it get warm again, and serve.

Now, for the heavy cream, they call for 1/2 c. which I think is absolutely ridiculous. It's hard for me to say how much I used, since Casey didn't want heavy cream at all, so I only added it to mine. I didn't even add 1/4 c. Just a splash to add some creaminess.
It also calls for 1 1/2 lbs. of chicken, which was way more than I used, and ours had a lot of chicken! If I had had the space I would have added some red pepper. :(

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Apple Pie

Suspicious. You see the white dots in the middle picture? Those are grits. As I write this I realize I don't even know what grits are. This recipe was from a blog claiming that this was "European Apple Pie". I think grits I think My Cousin Vinnie and the deep south. Not Europe. But what do I know? I'm only French. I have mixed feelings about this recipe. If I can remind you I'm not much of a baker for maybe the 50th time. (Though since I've reminded you 50 times, maybe at this point, I should just consider myself a baker.) But the dough was hard to work with at the bloggers own admission. You are supposed to roll it out, and than transfer it to the baking dish, but it breaks down before you can transfer it, so you have to fix it. This sounds like a lot of work to me. I like my baking to be relatively simple. Like a clafoutis. It did taste good, so there is that, but peeling and 'shredding' the apples, good god that took a lot of work. But here it is from The Eccentric Cook.

Shrimp Scampi and some Gossip Girl

Casey had a night class and so I took the opportunity to make shrimp scampi and catch up on some gossip girl. I dumped all of the Orzo on the plate to take the picture, and thought "I probably won't finish this" but I did. I ate it all. Over a 1/4 lb. of rock shrimp laden with butter, garlic and lemon juice. It was awful. Every last bite.

I must say, lemon juice is deceitful. I was softening a shallot and a ton of garlic in butter and I added the juice of half a lemon and I couldn't smell it at all. I feel like this sounds silly since clearly shallot and garlic throw off some strong scents, but I thought at least a little. So I added most of the other lemon, save for the pieces you see in the picture and the shrimp sure turned out lemony. Surprisingly so. But you really do need it to contrast nicely with all that butter and garlic. I found a recipe in the silver spoon I was going to try but it got more involved than I was willing to get into that night, making compound butter and what not. We usually keep a bottle of lemon juice around, (speaking of deceitful, a lot of lemon juices have unnecessary preservatives in them so watch out!) but I've been using lemon juice from actual lemons. It makes a really nice difference! Who knew?!

I have a thing for fresh herbs. I love them, I really really do, but I just don't want to take that time to wash them, cut them, and than throw away half of it anyways since it goes bad so quickly. The only herb I really splurge for is cilantro since there is no such thing as dried cilantro. Sure they may sell it, but it's not cilantro. Plus is has so many uses in Thai, Vietnamese, Indian and obviously Mexican food that I end up using most, if not all of it. We have a basil plant at home, fresh thyme for Thanksgiving, I use it for the turkey and I can use the rest for the stock. And that's pretty much it.

This recipe was super easy, plus I love Orzo pasta.

Shrimp Scampi
Serves 1 hungry person

Juice of 1/2 lemon
6ish garlic cloves
1 large shallot
1/4 lb. peeled, de-veined rock shrimp
dried parsley
Orzo pasta

Get the pasta cooking. Soften garlic, shallot and salt in butter until onion is translucent. Add half the lemon juice. Drain pasta, add back to pan with butter, the rest of the lemon juice and dried parsley. Add rock shrimp to garlic and shallot mix. Serve pasta on the bottom and spoon the shrimp on top. Oh yeah.

Stuffed Eggplant

Hallowed out eggplant brushed with olive oil and cracked pepper

The eggplant guts

Stuffed with goodness

Still winding down from the detox...or easing out of it. Either works. Everything about the stuffed eggplant was delightful except for the eggplant. That is, the shell of it, not the stuffing. It had a rubbery texture. And not in the good way. I ate most of it, but I couldn't bring myself to finish it.

Stuffed eggplant
Adapted from Total Detox Plan

1 eggplant
1 onion
5ish garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. honey
1/2 Tb. coriander
1/2 Tb. parsley
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
handful of tomatoes, chopped
handful of pine nuts
handful of spinach

Preheat oven to 350. Cut off leafy ends of eggplant than place in boiling water and boil for 10 minutes. Drain, plunge into cold water until cold enough to handle. Cut in half, lengthwise, scoop out guts, place guts in bowl. Brush hallowed out eggplant olive oil and cracked pepper. Bake for 30 minutes. While it's baking heat up garlic and onion until soft. Add tomatoes, honey, spices and herbs and simmer for 15 minutes. Add eggplant and pine nuts and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. When the eggplant shells are almost done baking add the spinach to the tomato mixture until just wilted. Fill shells with tomato mixture and serve.

I also happened to have leftover rice with carmelized onions, so I filled the shells with that on the bottom, and than topped it with the tomato mixture.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sunchoke and Hazelnut soup


Batcat found himself a hazelnut
Some crazy weather we've had here in Seattle. It lasted about a week and now it's mostly gone. The city practically shut down. Casey and I are on the tail end of a detox. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I wasn't really feeling it. Remember my post about autumn and the love I have for comfort foods when it's cold? Well that is exactly how it went. We tried some neat recipes but really what I craved was some hot chocolate and a cupcake. Really, really craved. And wine of course. I went into such a funk I didn't take pictures of the food I made, though a lot of it was really good.
This particular detox went according to a book I had purchased a few years ago called The Total Detox Plan. Nerd that I am, I made a powerpoint presentation and Casey made an excel spreadsheet. We took a number of different herbal supplements and teas to promote sleep, energy and detoxification. While I enjoyed it, I feel bad that my heart just wasn't in it.
I have also been reading From Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin. It is everything that I want in a food photography book. I loaned it from the library but will probably end up buying it. It is incredibly well written and has a ton of pictures. So much to learn!
This soup was totally out of our box. I enjoyed it, but it was lacking something. The yogurt helped. So did the salt. Maybe a squeeze of lime juice over the top??

Sunchoke and Hazelnut Soup
Serves 2 large portions

1 lb. Sunchokes
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
1 medium onion, chopped
2 c. vegetable stock
4 oz. roasted hazelnuts
Plain greek yogurt for garnish

Peel and dice sunchokes. Submerge pieces in cold water with lemon juice. Heat olive oil, add onion, soften. Drain sunchokes and add to onion with vegetable stock. Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, crush hazelnuts, save a handful for the garnish. Add soup and hazelnuts to blender, blend. Serve with cracked pepper, hazelnuts, and a dollop of yogurt.

Sunday, January 1, 2012