Kamis, 04 Oktober 2012

Spiced Cucumbers and Coconut Milk

Recipes that use cucumbers as a main ingredient are pretty hard to find. I almost overlooked this one in a BonAppetit issues. My husband pointed it out and wanted me to make it. It is easy to prepare and absolutely tasty. The cucumbers are cooked for just a couple of minutes and combined with tomatoes and green onions. The dish finishes by cooking in coconut milk and gets a nice splash of lime juice to round up the flavors. Another plus is that the Curry is very low in calorie.

Spiced Cucumbers and Coconut Milk

From BonAppetit
serves 2

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups 1/4-inch-thick slices peeled lemon cucumber (or any other cucumber)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 small tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 red Thai chiles (with seeds), thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, smashed
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 ½ teaspoons honey
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
Fresh lime juice

1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add cucumber. Sauté until beginning to soften, about 1 minute. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

2. Add tomatoes, scallions, chiles and garlic. Sauté until vegetables are soft, 2–3 minutes.

3. Add coconut milk and honey; simmer until vegetables are cooked through, 2–3 minutes. Stir in cilantro leaves and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Serve with rice, if desired.

Senin, 01 Oktober 2012

Zucchini Fritters

Light and crispy, these zucchini fritters are a great way to use up any zucchinis you need to cook before they go bad. In order to get the right consistency, you need to get rid of the excess water in the zucchinis by sprinkling them with salt and then pressing out the liquid.  They are a little bit like potatoe latkes but without the potatoes. Serve them with a light yoghurt sauce or a fried egg.

Zucchini Fritters
(from smittenkitchen)

1 pound (about 2 medium) zucchini
1 teaspoon coarse or Kosher salt, plus extra to taste
2 scallions, split lengthwise and sliced thin
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Olive or another oil of your choice, for frying

To serve (optional)
1 cup sour cream or plain, full-fat yogurt
1 to 2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Pinches of salt
1 small minced or crushed clove of garlic

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Have a baking sheet ready.

Trim ends off zucchini and grate them either on the large holes of a box grater or, if you have one, using the shredding blade of a food processor.

In a large bowl, toss zucchini with 1 teaspoon coarse salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Wring out the zucchini in one of the following ways: pressing it against the holes of a colander with a wooden spoon to extract the water, squeezing out small handfuls at a time, or wrapping it up in a clean dishtowel or piece of cheese cloth and wringing away. 

Return deflated mass of zucchini shreds to bowl. Taste and if you think it could benefit from more salt (most rinses down the drain), add a little bit more; we found 1/4 teaspoon more just right. Stir in scallions, egg and some freshly ground black pepper. In a tiny dish, stir together flour and baking powder, then stir the mixture into the zucchini batter.

In a large heavy skillet — heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop small bunches of the zucchini mixture onto the skillet only a few at a time so they don’t become crowded and lightly nudge them flatter with the back of your spatula. Cook the fritters over moderately high heat until the edges underneath are golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. If you find this happening too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. Flip the fritters and fry them on the other side until browned underneath again, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Drain briefly on paper towels then transfer to baking sheet and then into the warm oven until needed. Repeat process, keeping the pan well-oiled, with remaining batter. 

For the topping, if using, stir together the sour cream, lemon juice, zest, salt and garlic and adjust the flavors to your taste. Dollop on each fritter before serving. These fritters are also delicious with a poached or fried egg on top, trust me.

Do ahead: These fritters keep well, either chilled in the fridge for the better part of a week and or frozen in a well-sealed package for months. When you’re ready to use them, simply spread them out on a tray in a 325 degree oven until they’re hot and crisp again.

Minggu, 23 September 2012

Carrot Cake

Even something so simple as a carrot cake can become a very elegant and festive dessert when someone like the White House Executive Pastry Chef shows us how he decorates it. The frosting is delicious and the cake is moist and fruity because he adds mandarine oranges to the batter. Try it yourself and tell me what you think.

Carrot Cake:
3 cups light brown sugar, packed (16 oz, 454 g)
1 1/2 cups veg. oil (10.75 oz, 305 g)
2 1/4 cups all purpose flower 12 oz, 340 g)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (.25 oz, 10 g)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (5 g)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs (5.5 oz, 155 g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (.25 oz, 5 g)
2 cups grated carrots (7 oz, 200 g)
2 (11 oz) cans mandarin oranges drained ( 312 g)
1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts, lightly toasted (4.75 oz, 132 g)

Cream Cheese Icing:
1 cup cream cheese, room temperature (8oz, 227 g)
1/4 pound unsalted butter(1 stick ), room temperature (113 g)
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar,sifted (2 oz, 60 g)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For The Cake

Place a rack in the center of the oven. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms wit parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the brown sugar and oil until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (this didn't work out when I tried it).

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. With the mixer set on low speed, beat in half of the dry mixture just to combine.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat to combine.

Beat in the remaining half of the dry mixture, just to combine.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Using a spatula, fold in the carrots, 1 cup (8 oz, 225 g) of the mandarin oranges, and 1 cup (3.75 oz, 105 g) of the walnuts. Scrape the batter into the cake pans, and bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of the layers comes out clean.

Allow the cake layers to cool in the pans for 10  minutes, then invert them onto a wire rack, peeling off the parchment rounds, to cool completely.

For The Icing

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until no lumps remain, about 5 minutes.

Add the confectioners' sugar, orange juice, and vanilla and beat until the sugar is completely absorbed and the icing thickens, another 5 minutes.

To Assemble

When the cake has completely cooled, spread the top of one layer with 1/3 of the cream cheese icing. Scatter the remaining mandarin oranges over the icing.

Sandwich the remaining cake layer and frost the top and sides. Place the remaining 1/4 cup of walnuts in a circle around the top of the cake.

Sabtu, 15 September 2012

Salmon for a Crowd

Most people like Salmon which makes it the perfect fish for a party or get together. In this recipe the fish is covered with a mustard, tarragon, and chive cream sauce and then roasted in the oven.

The dish can then sit in the fridge for a day and be served with some more sauce at room temperature. I wanted to see on which day the salmon tasted better, so I tried it right as I took it out of the oven and also on the next day. It was even more juicy and tender the next day!

Roast Side of Salmon with Mustard, Tarragon, and Chive Sauce
serves 8

⅔ cup mayonnaise
½ cup spicy brown mustard (such as Gulden's)
6 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
6 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 3 1/2- to 3 3/4-pound whole side of salmon with skin (about 1 1/2 inches thick at thickest part)

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 450°F.
Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix first 7 ingredients in medium bowl. Season mustard sauce lightly with salt and generously with pepper. Place salmon, skin side down, on diagonal on prepared sheet. Spoon 1/2 cup mustard sauce atop salmon, then spread over, covering completely. Sprinkle salmon generously with salt and pepper. Roast just until salmon is opaque in center, about 15 minutes. Using parchment as aid, transfer salmon to platter. Cut crosswise into pieces and serve with remaining mustard sauce.

Selasa, 11 September 2012

Homemade Pita Chips with Olive Tapenade and Greek Salad

Crunchy little Pita Chips are fun to make yourself. Buy some pita bread, cut it in wedges, brush it with olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite seasoning (thyme, sea salt, majoram, paprika, etc). Bake it at 375 for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve the pita chips with Olive Tapenade, Hummus or a fabulous greek salad and you'll have a great snack, or lunch, or dinner....

Greek Salad
(from Ina Garten)


  • 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 red bell pepper, large-diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, large-diced
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced in half-rounds
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese, 1/2-inch diced (not crumbled)
  • 1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted

For the vinaigrette:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil


Place the cucumber, peppers, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Still whisking, slowly add the olive oil to make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta and olives and toss lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

Olive Tapenade

1 cup Niçoise olives, pitted
1 cup small green French olives (Picholine), pitted
¼ cup Oven-Dried or sun dried Tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed if packed in salt
1 garlic clove
1 anchovy fillet
½ tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
½ tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
½ tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
(¼ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves) optional
½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

In a food processor, combine all the ingredients except the olive oil and orange juice. Using the pulse button, process until coarsely chopped and well blended. Continue to process, slowly adding the olive oil and orange juice. Refrigerate in a covered container. Use as needed.
Tapenade will keep up to 1 week, refrigerated, in a covered container.

Selasa, 04 September 2012

Eggplant, Mozzarella and Saffron Rice Bake

This casserole has a beautiful Paella taste. However, I do admit that it takes several steps to assemble this dish. The rice has to be cooked and the eggplant needs to be baked. Other than that it is an easy to make dish that can be assembled in advance and then baked when you need it. The texture of the rice was just perfect, not too soft, and the combination of the cheeses, the tomato sauce and the saffron flavored rice with the vegetables was just perfect.

Eggplant, Mozzarella and Saffron Rice Bake

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • Pinch of saffron
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 large eggplants (about 3 pounds), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups store-bought tomato sauce (such as marinara), divided
  • 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 2 cups), divided
  • 1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan (4 ounces), divided

     Don't be afraid to really undercook the rice so it doesn't get mushy while it bakes with the eggplant.
 1. Arrange racks in top and bottom thirds of oven; 
     Preheat to 425°. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add rice; cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Stir in saffron, then wine. Cook until wine reduces slightly, about 1 minute. Add broth; season with salt. Cover and cook over medium heat until rice is very al dente and still crunchy, about 6 minutes; remove pan from heat.

2.  Meanwhile, divide eggplant between two rimmed baking sheets, overlapping slightly to fit. Drizzle 1 cup oil over; season with salt and pepper. Bake, turning eggplant and rotating sheets halfway through, until tender and golden brown, 20–25 minutes.

3.  Cover the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch baking dish with 1 cup tomato sauce. Sprinkle 1/3 of mozzarella over, then 1/3 of Parmesan.

4.  Cover with a layer of eggplant rounds, overlapping so no sauce is visible beneath them. Add saffron rice, spreading out in an even layer. Sprinkle over another 1/3 each of mozzarella and Parmesan, then 1/2 of the remaining tomato sauce and another layer of eggplant. Top with remaining tomato sauce and remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover dish with foil; transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet.

5.  Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Uncover dish and bake until golden on top, about 20 minutes longer. Let stand for at least 10 minutes to set before serving.

Senin, 27 Agustus 2012

Beaumes-de-Venise Cake

Have you ever had a cake that was made with grapes? If not, this recipe is a must. It is  a wonderful, elegant yet rustic cake. It is easy to make and incredibly moist. It has a subtle citrus flavor with a slight taste of grapes. The batter contains olive oil and butter which gives the cake a very complex aroma. Try it for yourself, you will not be disapointed.

Beaumes-de-Venise Cake
(from Bon Appetit)


1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Beaumes-de-Venise or other Muscat wine
1 ½ cups red seedless grapes (smaller is better), washed and dried

Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush 10-inch-diameter springform pan with olive oil. Line bottom of pan with parchment; brush parchment with olive oil.
Sift flour and next 3 ingredients into bowl. Whisk 3/4 cup sugar, 6 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons oil in large bowl until smooth. Whisk in eggs, both peels and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with wine in 3 additions each, whisking just until smooth after each addition. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle grapes over batter.
Bake cake until top is set, about 20 minutes. Dot top of cake with 2 tablespoons butter; sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over. Bake until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes longer. Cool in pan on rack 20 minutes. Release pan sides. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Rabu, 15 Agustus 2012

Melon, Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Since it is so hot here in Chicago, we have been eating a lot of salads, cold soups and smoothies. I saw this  recipe in the New York Times and thought it was perfect for the current weather.  Although it might seem unusual to combine melons and cucumbers, they go very well together as this salad proves. To make it more filling, I added some Israelian couscous and we had a very light and refreshing dinner.

Melon, Cucumber and Tomato Salad
(adapted from Martha Shulman)
6 servings

1 European cucumber, peeled if desired and cut in medium dice
Salt to taste
1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded if desired, cut in thin wedges or diced
1 small ripe honeydew melon or cantaloupe, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice or shaped into melon balls
2 to 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon mild honey, like clover, or agave nectar
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil, rice bran oil or canola oil
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped chives

3/4 - 1 cup Israelian Couscous or other grain (optional)
Fresh watercress for garnish (optional)

1. Prepare the couscous according to the packaging directions. Let cool. 
Put the cucumbers in a colander set in the sink or a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and let drain for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients.
2. Toss the cucumbers, tomatoes and melon together in a bowl. Whisk together the vinegar, salt to taste, lime juice, honey and oil and toss with the fruit and vegetable mixture. Add the couscous and mix. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
3. Just before serving, toss with the herbs. Line plates with watercress if desired. Taste the salad, adjust the seasonings and serve over the watercress.
Advance preparation: You can make this through Step 2 several hours ahead. Because of the salt, the vegetables and fruit will give off a lot of water, so if you don’t want the salad to be too juicy, salt shortly before serving.
If you are using the couscous, you might have to make more of the dressing. Let your taste buds decide.  

Rabu, 01 Agustus 2012

Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma is a classic Sicilian Pasta dish. It is made with tomatoes, eggplant, grated ricotta cheese and basil. Supposedly it is named after the opera Norma by Vincenzo Bellini. It is a satisfying weeknight meal that the whole family will love.
Most recipes call for frying the eggplant, but Cooks Illustrated cooks the eggplant in the microwave first in order to draw moisture from it and prevent it from soaking up too much of the oil. Genius.

Pasta a la Norma
from Cooks Illustrated

We call for both regular and extra-virgin olive oil in this recipe. The higher smoke point of regular olive oil makes it best for browning the eggplant; extra-virgin olive oil stirred into the sauce before serving lends fruity flavor. If you don’t have regular olive oil, use vegetable oil. We prefer kosher salt in step 1 because it clings best to the eggplant. If using table salt, reduce the amount to ½ teaspoon. Ricotta salata is traditional, but French feta, Pecorino Romano, and Cotija (a firm, crumbly Mexican cheese) are acceptable substitutes; see “Ricotta Salata’s Understudies,” below. Our preferred brands of crushed tomatoes are Tuttorosso and Muir Glen.


1large eggplant (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Kosher salt (see note)
3tablespoons olive oil (see note)
4medium garlic cloves, mined or pressed through garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
2 anchovy fillets, minced (about 1 generous teaspoon)
1/4-1/2teaspoon red pepper flakes
1(28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (see note)
1pound ziti, rigatoni, or penne
6tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3ounces ricotta salata, shredded (about 1 cup) (we used Parmesan)

1. Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Line surface of large microwave-safe plate with double layer of coffee filters and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Spread eggplant in even layer over coffee filters; wipe out and reserve bowl. Microwave eggplant on high power, uncovered, until dry to touch and slightly shriveled, about 10 minutes, tossing once halfway through to ensure that eggplant cooks evenly. Let cool slightly.

2. Transfer eggplant to now-empty bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and toss gently to coat; discard coffee filters and reserve plate. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add eggplant and distribute in even layer. Cook, stirring or tossing every 1½ to 2 minutes (more frequent stirring may cause eggplant pieces to break apart), until well browned and fully tender, about 10 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and transfer eggplant to now-empty plate and set aside.

3. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, anchovies, and pepper flakes to now-empty but still-hot skillet and cook using residual heat so garlic doesn’t burn, stirring constantly, until fragrant and garlic becomes pale golden, about 1 minute (if skillet is too cool to cook mixture, set it over medium heat). Add tomatoes, return skillet to burner over medium-high heat, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil. Add pasta and 2 tablespoons salt and cook until al dente. Reserve ½ cup cooking water; drain pasta and transfer back to cooking pot.

5. While pasta is cooking, return eggplant to skillet with tomatoes and gently stir to incorporate. Bring to simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring gently occasionally, until eggplant is heated through and flavors are blended, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir basil and extra-virgin olive oil into sauce; season to taste with salt. Add sauce to cooked pasta, adjusting consistency with reserved pasta cooking water so that sauce coats pasta. Serve immediately, sprinkled with ricotta salata.

Sabtu, 21 Juli 2012

Marinated Poached Fresh Tuna with Caper and Anchovy Sauce

Are you familiar with vitello tonnato? It is composed of cold, poached veal that is thinly sliced. Then it is layered with a sauce made of canned tuna, mayonnaise, anchovies and capers. It has to marinate for at least 24 hours, during which time the flavors of tuna and veal melt and produce something that is like no other dish of meat or fish in tenderness with a sweet and tangy taste.

This dish is very similiar, only that there is no veal. The tuna is marinated in a citrus vinaigrette and comes together in a snap! It almost melts in your mouth with a light and refreshing citrus flavor.

Marinated Poached Fresh Tuna with Caper and Anchovy Sauce

(from Marcella Hazan)

1 celery rib
1 medium carrot
½ medium onion
¼ cup wine vinegar
1 lb. fresh yellowfin tuna, cut about 1 inch thick
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2 to 3 flat anchovy fillets, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped capers
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon mustard
Freshly ground pepper

1. In a deep-sided skillet, combine the celery, carrot, onion, vinegar, a pinch of salt and 1 1/2 inches of water. Turn the heat to moderately high, cover and boil for 10 minutes.

2. Put in the tuna steak; when the water in the skillet returns to a boil, adjust the heat so that it simmers gently. Cover and cook the tuna until it is still pink in the center, 5 to 8 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the garlic, anchovies and capers with the lemon juice, olive oil and mustard. Season with salt and pepper and beat with a fork to combine.

4. Remove the tuna from the skillet and pat dry. Slice it 1/2 inch thick.

5. Choose a deep glass or ceramic dish that can contain the tuna in a single layer. Lightly spread some of the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Put in the tuna slices, laying them flat, and cover with the remaining sauce, spreading it evenly. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let the tuna stand at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.

Kamis, 12 Juli 2012

Two Cold Summer Soups

Today I have two cold soups for you. The first one is a White Gazpacho.
I have always wanted to try a White Gazpacho and my first attempt was a great success with my family. It is so rare that all four of us love a recipe equally but it was just the case with this soup. Light and refreshing, this soup makes a great dish on hot summer days. My soup turned out not to be white, but light green because I used small cucumbers and left the skin on.
I let it sit over night and found that the flavor improved over that period of time. Both soups need to be really really cold. So put your serving dishes in the fridge as well before serving the soup.

My second recipe for you is a cold tomato soup from Cooks Illustrated.  Half of the tomatoes are roasted in the oven which gives the soup an intensive sweet and aromatic flavor. There is no bread in this soup. Instead, Olive Oil is added to the pureed tomatoes which thickens the soup and gives it body.
Enjoy these soups on hot summer days and you will wish that summer never ends.

Dovetail’s White Gazpacho
Yield: 4 portions

¼ cup whites of leeks, sliced thin and washed
3 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
10 green grapes, washed
¼ cup blanched almond slivers (use Marcona Almonds if you can find them)
1 ½ tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 cups cucumbers
½ cup English cucumbers, peeled and juiced
½ tablespoon sour cream
¼ cup good quality olive oil
2 cups cold water
1 tablespoon salt

1. Cook leeks in a medium-size sauté pan over medium-low heat until translucent and tender, then chill in refrigerator.

2. Combine all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. (I soaked the bread for a couple of minutes in the water first before adding everything to the blender.)

3. Season with salt, adjusting amount as needed.

4. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois.

5. Serve very cold.


Chilled Fresh Tomato Soup
(Cooks Illustrated)
serves 4

  • 2 lbs. tomatoes, cored
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  •  teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • Pinch Cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar, plus extra as needed
  • Pepper (optional)

To create a chilled tomato soup recipe that produced a dish with complex flavor, we used a combination of fresh and roasted tomatoes. This gave us a dish with bright, tangy freshness as well as a deep, sweet flavor. We also used a small amount of tomato paste and lightly roasted garlic and shallot to boost the chilled tomato soup’s flavor.
1.Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray.
2.Cut 1 pound tomatoes in half horizontally and arrange cut side up on prepared baking sheet. Arrange shallot and garlic cloves in single layer over 1 area of baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, then remove shallot and garlic cloves. Return baking sheet to oven and continue to roast tomatoes until softened but not browned, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
3.Peel garlic cloves and place in blender with roasted shallot and roasted tomatoes. Cut remaining 1 pound tomatoes into eighths and add to blender along with tomato paste; paprika, if using; cayenne; and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Puree until smooth, about 30 seconds. With motor running, drizzle in olive oil in slow, steady stream; puree will turn orange in color.
4.Pour puree through fine-mesh strainer into nonreactive bowl, pressing on solids in strainer to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Stir in vinegar. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled and flavors have blended, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
5.To serve, stir soup to recombine (liquid separates on standing). Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and vinegar, as needed. Ladle soup into chilled bowls, drizzle sparingly with extra oil, and grind pepper over each, if using. Serve immediately.

Selasa, 03 Juli 2012

Poppy Seed Buckwheat Wafers

The texture of this cookie is sandy, almost like a sable or shortbread. The flavor is nutty and earthy from the buckwheat flour but at the same time it is rich and buttery. Once the cookies are shaped, they are rolled in sugar and poppy seed and then sliced. I usually slice and bake only as many cookies as we will eat that day and then leave the rest of the dough in the fridge so that we can have fresh cookies the following day. They are the perfect cookies to enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea.

Poppy Seed Buckwheat Wafers
Recipe from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce

Wet Mix:

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 egg yolks (reserve whites)

Dry Mix:

1½ cups buckwheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
6 ounces (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature


2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Egg whites from egg yolks above

Measure the cream and egg yolks into a small bowl—no need to whisk—and set aside.
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter. Add the softened butter to the dry ingredients. With your hands, squeeze the butter into the flour. After the butter is mostly blended in, add the cream and egg yolks. Continue squeezing the mixture until a crumbly dough forms. Scrape the dough onto a well-floured surface and, using the palm of your hand, smear the dough to fully incorporate all the ingredients.
Divide the dough in half. Roll each piece of dough into a log that is 8 inches long and 1¾  inches wide, flouring the dough and work surface as needed. Chill the logs for 2 hours. If the dough is more lopsided than round, you can gently roll the dough again after 15 minutes or so.
In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and poppy seeds and pour onto a plate. Brush one log very lightly with the egg whites. (I find it easiest to stand the log on one end as I brush it.) Roll the log in the poppy seed mixture until it is covered. Repeat this process with the remaining log and chill while the oven is heating up, or wrapped in plastic for up to 5 days.
Place two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Slice the logs into ?–inch wafers. Arrange the wafers on the baking sheets.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. The wafers should be dark golden-brown, with a darker ring around the edge, and smell quite nutty. Cool the cookies on a rack and repeat with the remaining wafers.
These wafers are best eaten the day that they’re made, but they’ll keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Jumat, 29 Juni 2012

Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding

Now, these puddings are made out of Tofu, so keep an open mind! This dessert is more like a mousse, incredibly soft, rich and creamy. I saw Mark Bittman make them on TV and wanted to give it a shot myself.
The first time I stuck to the recipe but I ended up not liking the combination of chocolate, cinnamon and chile, but that's just me. I prefer a pure chocolate flavor. I did like the consistency though and the simplicity of this recipe so when I made it the second time I did not add the chile and cinnamon. Instead I added a big pinch of espresso powder. This time I really loved it and my guests did too..

Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding
from The Minimalist

3/4 cup sugar
1 pound silken tofu
8 ounces high-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or more to taste
Chocolate shavings (optional).

1. In a small pot, combine sugar with 3/4 cup water; bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.

2. Put all ingredients except for chocolate shavings in a blender and purée until completely smooth, stopping machine to scrape down its sides if necessary. Divide among 4 to 6 ramekins and chill for at least 30 minutes. If you like, garnish with chocolate shavings before serving.

Yield: 4 to 6 serving

Selasa, 26 Juni 2012

Saffron Chicken, Boiled Lemon and Green Bean Salad

I know that I have been posting a lot of salads lately, and yet I have one more that I need to share.. This one is absolutely incredible. One of the ingredients is a cooked lemon peel which is absolutely great with the saffron flavored chicken. Additionally, there are green beans in this salad, but no other ingredients really. Make this salad for your next party and it will for sure be a hit.

Saffron Chicken, Boiled Lemon and Green Bean Salad
(from Ellie Krieger)

Makes 4 servings

1 lemon, preferably unwaxed
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste, divided
Pinch saffron
2 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1  1/4 pound skinless boneless chicken breast, pounded to 1/2-inch thick
1 pound green beans, washed and trimmed
Cooking spray
2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon honey
Freshly ground black pepper

Prick the lemon in 3 or 4 places with a fork and place in a small pot with 1 teaspoon of salt and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 50 minutes or until the lemon is very tender. Drain and set aside to cool.

In the meantime, mix the saffron, mint, garlic, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl. Pour the marinade into a sealable plastic bag, add the chicken and let it marinate while you prepare the other ingredients.

Steam the green beans for 4 minutes and set aside to cool. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Preheat a large skillet or grill pan which has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cook the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Set aside to cool. Cut into bite-sized chunks.

Slice the ends off of the lemon and slice it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp. Slice the peel thinly and then again into 1/4-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, lemon, green beans and thyme. In a small bowl combine the rest of the lemon juice and the honey, whisk in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.

Selasa, 19 Juni 2012

Asparagus Frittata

When the temperatures hit almost 100 degrees here the other day I wanted something light for dinner. Our supermarket had just gotten a delivery of  very fresh asparagus and as the season is almost over I decided to make an asparagus frittata. The original recipe calls for boiling the vegetables. I like them better roasted, so I baked them for 15 minutes in the oven to intensify the flavor and soften them a little.

Asparagus Frittata
(adapted from better homes and garden)

1 ½ lbs. fresh asparagus or two 9-ounce or 10-ounce packages frozen cut asparagus
1 medium yellow sweet pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
⅓ cup chopped onion
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 1 cup) (I used broccoli instead)
10 slightly beaten eggs
1 cup half-and-half, light cream, or milk
2 tablespoons snipped fresh Italian parsley
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
¼ - 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 - 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

1. Butter a 2-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside.

2. If using fresh asparagus, snap off and discard woody bases. Scrape off scales, if desired. Cut into 1-inch pieces.

3. In a saucepan, bring about 1 inch water to boiling. Add asparagus, pepper strips, and onion; bring just to boiling. Reduce heat slightly; cover and boil about 1 minute or until crisp-tender. Drain well, reserving some asparagus tips for garnish. . (Here is what I did: Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil and put the prepared vegetables in one layer on the tray. Drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes or until the vegetables get soft.) Spread asparagus-pepper mixture evenly in baking dish. Layer zucchini (or broccoli) slices over.

4. Combine eggs, half-and-half, parsley, salt, and pepper, parmesan and smoked paprika. Pour over vegetables in baking dish. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree F oven about 35 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving . Garnish each serving with asparagus tips, if desired. Serve warm or cold.
Makes 8 servings.

Kamis, 07 Juni 2012

Lentil Mango Salad

Supermarkets are filled with ripe mangos right now and since this recipe paired them with lentils I had to try it.  In Germany, lentils are usually eaten during the winter time, most commonly as soup, stew or maybe as a side dish. I love lentils and I like that you can buy them precooked and ready to serve at many grocery stores. This way you can use them anytime and don't have to wait for them to cook. The mango pairs beautifully with all the spices and the lentils - this salad can be on your table in 15 minutes! I served this dish with a beautiful roasted Moroccan Spiced Salmon.

Lentil Mango Salad
(adapted from Joanne Bruno who adapted it from Simple recipes)
serves 4
1 1/2 cups lentils (I used the "ready to eat" lentils from Trader Joe's)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup tomatoes, skinned and cut into large chunks
1 large mango or 2 small mangoes, peeled pitted and cubed
2 tbsp toasted almonds, chopped
2 tbsp cilantro or parsley leaves
couscous, rice, barley, quinoa, etc. (optional)
  1. If using uncooked lentils, place lentils in a large pan.  Cover with 2 inches of well-salted water.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 15-20 minutes or until lentils are tender.  Drain.
  2. Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium heat.  Spray with cooking spray.  Stir in the onions and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, and thyme.  Cook 2 minutes more.  Gently stir in cooked lentils, mango and  tomatoes.
  3. Lower the heat to low.  Cover and cook for 2 minutes.  Spoon into serving dish.  Sprinkle with chopped almonds and cilantro or parsley.  Serve with grain of your choice.

Jumat, 01 Juni 2012

Summer Blueberry Corn Salad

Every year I look forward to summer in order to try all the new recipes that I collected over the winter. This one was on my 'to make' list for almost a year until finally I got to make it.
I tweaked the recipe a little in order to intensify the flavors. The recipe calls for the cooking of corn in water, but I baked it in the oven in foil with a little butter, salt, and pepper. It turned out to be very good. You will taste a little bit of sweet, a little bit of sour, a hint of Latin America, and it will be a little spicy.
The salad should rest overnight. I made it in the morning and served it for dinner that night. The flavors will melt wonderfully. A great dish for parties, potlucks, and barbecues.

Corn and Blueberry Salad

(from Better Homes and Gardens)

6 fresh sweet corn, husked
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cucumber, sliced
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped*
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon ground cumin

Optional: grilled shrimp or fish for serving

In Dutch oven bring salted water to boiling. Add corn. Cook, covered, 5 minutes, or until tender. When cool enough to handle, cut corn from cobs.
(I baked the corn in foil at 425 F for 30 minutes)

In a serving bowl combine corn, blueberries, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno. For dressing, in screw-top jar combine lime juice, oil, honey, cumin, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cover; shake well to combine. Add to salad; toss. Cover and refrigerate overnight (up to 24 hours). Makes 6 to 8 servings

Minggu, 27 Mei 2012

Spaghetti Nizza

When I was looking for an easy and quick pasta sauce that didn't require too much preparation and that I hadn't made already a couple of times I stumbled upon this recipe from "On top of Spaghetti..."
Fresh tomatoes are combined with tuna, black olives, capers and herbs and the mixture is tossed with olive oil and lemon juice. The preparation was done in a couple of minutes and it tasted absolutely great. Just the right thing to cook on a day when you don't feel like preparing a complicated meal. 

Spaghetti Nizza

(serves 4)

2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to toss with pasta
1 1/2 cups best-quality canned tuna packed in olive oil, drained
1 t dried oregano, crushed between your fingers
2 t finely chopped fresh oregano
1 to 2 fresh hot peppers, seeded and chopped, or 1/8 to 1/4 t cayenne
1 t capers packed in salt, rinsed, dried, and finely chopped
16 black oil-cured olives, pitted and chopped
2 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 small cooked and peeled potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch dice (1 cup) (I left them out)
1 pound dried spaghetti
Lemon wedges (optional)

Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together in a mixing bowl. Stir in the tuna, dried and fresh oregano, hot pepper, capers, olives and parsley. Add the potatoes and toss to combine. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Generously slat the water and drop in the pasta. Cook, stirring often, until al dente. Drain the spaghetti, reserving a scant cup of cooking water.

Toss the pasta in a large, warmed bowl with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add enough water, a tablespoon at a time, to moisten and coat the spaghetti. Add to potato-tuna mixture and toss well. Serve right away in warmed bowls. Pass lemon wedges at the table to spritz more juice over the spaghetti if you like