Monday, May 31, 2010

Radicchio Pizza with White Truffle Oil



note: cheese is optional. If you leave it off, it is vegan

OK, this is seriously good. We went to a BBQ at my in laws for Memorial Day and it was one of those deals where you bring your meat, or whatever it is you want to grill and a side dish or appetizer to share. Danielle, my friend thankfully brought this. It's not so much a "pizza" as it is like whole wheat pita bread with spread on top, even though, I'm pretty sure she used whole wheat pizza dough. Whatever it was, it was delicious and easy and you could pretty much put this topping on anything (crusty bread anyone?) and it would be fabulous. As for me, I brought an arugula, watermelon and feta salad that I was planning on blogging about originally, but it fell short. I think it needed more mint mixed in with the greens and balsamic instead of the citrus based dressing I used, and besides, after one bite of this pizza I knew that this would have to be what I wrote about and nothing else. Want to hear the crazy part? It was vegan until Danielle put the Parmesan cheese on top, which I do recommend because it adds a great salty bite. It could easily be an appetizer, cut into squares instead of wedges, or a healthy dinner, take your pick. Let's just face it, anything with white truffle oil tastes good so why not give this one a try?


Radicchio Pizza with White Truffle Oil
adapted from The Kind Diet, Alicia Silverstone

1 large head radicchio
olive oil
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
white truffle oil, to taste (Danielle said she used the littlest bit)
1 fresh pizza crust (preferably a healthy, whole grain variety
freshly shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 415 degrees

Cut the radicchio in half, then slice each half crosswise into thin ribbons (as thin as possible). Dress with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a few dashes of white truffle oil to taste.
Toast the pizza crust in the oven for 7 minutes or until it is heated through and slightly golden but not crunchy.

Scatter the dressed radicchio over the pizza crust and return to the oven for another 3-5 minutes, until the radicchio is warm and starting to wilt. Top with Parmesan cheese shavings and serve immediately.

I love recipes like this. Ones that take all of 5 minutes, dirties 1 bowl and taste stellar. Danielle added some spinach to the radicchio mix and thats why you can see green in the picture. Feel free to do so yourself if you have some. By the way, you don't have to serve this hot. The wedge I ate was room temperature and look how I have raved. I can only imagine what it is like hot and fresh out of the oven. I couldn't even really eat the pizza crust because my cleanse is on going, although I did indulge in the cheese on top (you can't win them all and honestly I have been so good up until this last week...sigh) and still it was THAT good. Jeremy thinks, and I agree, that I have a way of going on and on about things, especially food, when I get excited about it and so I end up ruining it. I'm sorry if I talk things up. I try to be conscious of it. I just can't help it sometimes. :)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Lemon Grilled Shrimp

Tis the season for grilling! I made this easy grilled shrimp up today for a quick lunch on the deck to celebrate that the sun is finally out and shining in Steamboat Springs! I made up some shrimp skewers and poured my lemon marinade over half, putting bottled Asian barbecue sauce over the rest, just in case my marinade was too weak and I wanted a stronger flavor. I could have skipped that step because the lemon shrimp won out and was WAY better than the barbecue ones. It's great for lunch or dinner served with a salad or if you are like me, an edamame, red pepper combo or they are just as good alone as an appetizer served with some lemon wedges and crusty bread. I polished off my lunch and took a break from baking, sat in the sun with my lemon water and Food Network magazine and read while Jeremy built the kids a swing set out of timbers. A perfect Saturday afternoon if I do say so myself.

Lemon Grilled Shrimp

32 medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on (about half a frozen 2lb bag) less if you have large shrimp, or more for smaller shrimp)
8 wooden skewers
juice from 2 lemons
zest from 1 lemon
olive oil
a hearty pinch of sea salt or kosher salt
Old Bay seasoning or Chesapeake Seasoning (a must)

Soak your wooden skewers in some water for at least 10 minutes before grilling so the sticks don't catch fire and burn.
Put the juice from the two lemons in a glass bowl or cup so you can see how much is in there. Add half as much olive oil to the glass as there is juice. Add the zest and salt and whisk until combined. Set aside.

Thread 4 shrimp to a skewer and set on a baking dish. repeat until all the shrimp are skewered. Pour the lemon marinade over the shrimp and toss to coat. Sprinkle liberally with Old Bay seasoning on both sides and again with salt. Set aside and let it marinate for 10 minutes.

Turn your grill to high and add the shrimp. Cook until just done. It should only take about a minute on each side.

Serve with lemon wedges for serving (optional)

Serves 4 (8 shrimp per person)

The edamame salad that I served with mine was just tossed with some small dice red pepper, lime juice, garlic, chili powder, salt, scallion and a drizzle of olive oil. It was fine but not great which is why I didn't provide the exact recipe. A black bean, corn salad would go great with this. (1 can black beans, kernels from 2 shucked corn on the cob, a diced jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, diced tomato, diced red bell pepper, diced red onion, salt and pepper...I never measure, just eyeball it)

The Old Bay or Chesapeake Seasoning is really what ties everything together and goes so well with the pungent lemon zest. I will definitely be making these again!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Quinoa with Red Peppers, Avocado and toasted Pine Nuts

Well guys, I'm up to my ears in cake. Literally. I think I might have made more cakes in the last 2 weeks than In my entire life, and that's saying a lot. I'm happy though because I've found a few winner recipes! What I have not been making a whole lot of, are dinners. I mean, we still eat but it's mostly tacos/tostadas and soups and a white chicken chili, sans chicken, that I have already told you about. The other thing we have had like 3 times already is this quinoa recipe. It's the simplest of recipes but it's still really, really good and fast. I think it's the toppings that make it most special. It's basically some sauteed leeks and red bell pepper that you add quinoa to, directly into the saute pan, add veggie stock and some salt and cover. Then you let it simmer away for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. When it's done you put a mound in your dish and top it with a fair amount of fresh chunks of avocado, toasted pine nuts, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and voila! It's a casual dish that we just took up a notch, that's all, not to mention how healthy it is for you. You could play around forever with this recipe. Don't have leeks? use onions. Have left over zucchini? Saute it up with the onions, you really can't go wrong. If you are really hungry, serve this as a side dish along with grilled salmon or chicken, although this dish is substantial enough to stand alone in my family as long as there is plenty of avocado to go around!

Quinoa with Roasted Peppers, Avocado and toasted Pine Nuts

2 bell pepper, chopped into small dice
2 leeks, chopped, white and green parts only
olive oil
sea salt or kosher salt
2 cups quinoa, rinsed in the sink with a mesh strainer
4 cups vegetable stock (or 1 box)
1/3 cup pine nuts toasted (put them in the oven at 350 for 8-10 minutes)
3 avocados, chunked

saute the bell pepper with the leeks in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until soft, but not cooked all the way through, about 3 minutes. Add in the quinoa, the vegetable stock and a hearty pinch or two or salt. Bring the pan up to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium low, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes. When liquid is almost totally absorbed, the quinoa is cooked. Mound into the center of shallow bowls and top with chucks from half and avocado per person, a palm full of toasted pine nuts, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Serves 6

For those of you who are not familiar with quinoa, it's crucial that you rinse the grain under cold running water before you use it. Just sort of rinse it off like it was dirty for about 20 seconds or so. It helps so it won't have a bitter after taste. this meal come together in 30 minutes from start to finish although I imagine some people are faster than me and it could be cooked sooner than that. OK, now I must leave you to focus on what else? Cake. I baked a Butter Pecan Cake today, now it's time to test Chocolate Mocha Cake! I hope I can get it done before we head to the carnival with the kids tonight. Fun times, fun times.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Frozen Key Lime Pie

OK, I'm sorry that all I have posted lately are sweet recipes but I can't help it, dessert is on my mind! You see, I have decided to start a cake and pie making business from home and I couldn't be more thrilled! I have thought about doing something like this for a long time but never got really comfortable the idea because I couldn't really find my niche. I thought that if you did cakes from home no one would want to buy them unless they were wedding cakes. I am not an incredible cake artist and I have never worked with fondant so that was out. However, I had a revelation the other day that was just the contrary. In our town there is no where to buy cakes for a birthday party, bridal shower, baby shower, anniversary, etc. unless you get it from A) the grocery store B) Winona's, which no one does anyway, probably because they don't market themselves and they charge $27.00 per layer, and their cakes are usually 3 layers so that totals up to a cool 90 bucks a cake C) A caterer or Chocolate Soup which is an adorable little bakery but their cakes are lacking in taste and they don't have a variety.

I have variety. In fact I like to dream up cakes on a whim with different combinations/frosting's/fillings/curds/creams/icings, you get the idea, all at a moments notice. You know the saying "easy as pie"? I get that. Just today I completely made up a Bananas Foster Cake. It was a yellow cake base and it had rum, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and bananas all oozing into it and since bananas foster is usually served with vanilla ice cream, I tried to think up a frosting that would compliment that. I ended up with a cream cheese like frosting with whipped cream folded in to tone it down. I think it's killer, although I can't taste it--dang no sugar cleanse!!! Actually I googled "bananas foster cake" and there is such a thing, but I have never heard of it and I made it my own way so I'm saying I made it up, he he.

I've been baking like crazy the past week and so far I have made a Hummingbird Cake, Lemon Lady Cake, Yellow Cake with Chocolate Butter cream Frosting, Bananas Foster Cake and a Frozen Key Lime Pie, which is the recipe I'm going to share with you. This pie is awesome. It's sweet but not too sweet, it's tart but not too tart, it is frozen so you can make it ahead, it's a custard base so it doesn't freeze solid, I could go on. This is a favorite of everyone I've made it for and a great summertime dessert. I don't use key limes, because they are not in season for long, but trust me, no one will miss them. If I could describe this pie in 2 words it would be fresh and cold. You top the lime custard off with a light cloud of whipped cream and freeze and when you cut a slice out you have the perfect ratio of cream to lime, it's scrum-didely-yone (In Jeremy language).

Frozen Key Lime Pie
adapted from Ina Garten

for the crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) melted unsalted butter

for the filling
6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons grated lime zest
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 4-5 limes)

for the decoration
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
thin lime wedges

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs ( I make crumbs in the food processor) sugar, and butter in a bowl. Press into a 9 inch pie pan, making sure the sides and the bottom are an even thickness. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

For the filling, beat the yolks and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for 5 minutes, until thick. With the mixer on medium speed, add the condensed milk, lime zest, and lime juice. pour into the baked pie shell and freeze.

For the decoration (and this in NOT optional) beat the heavy cream on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until firm about 30 seconds more. Spoon or pipe decoratively onto the pie (I like to just spread the whipped cream over the pie so it looks like a cloud, leaving about a 1 inch border around the edges so you can see the pie along the sides) and decorate with the lime wedges. I just nestle a couple into the cream. Freeze for several hours or overnight.

Alright, I know, I know, there are raw eggs called for in this recipe but if you have concerns, just combine the yolks with 1/2 cup of the lime juice used in the recipe in a double boiler. Whisk constantly over medium heat until the mixture reaches 140 degrees. Use in place of the raw egg yolks, remembering to add the remaining 1/4 cup of lime juice to the filling mixture along with the condensed milk and zest. I don't do this because I buy high quality eggs (Egglands Best) and I am just not that worried about it. Don't worry, the filling doesn't taste eggy.

Sometimes I find I like a little thicker crust for my pie. If you do too, just add a couple crackers to make crumbs with and add enough extra butter so that it binds together easily, it isn't rocket science and a little extra butter wont wreck it.
And hooray! I finally realized how to put pictures up on this dang website! the downside is my camera genuinely sucks and I can't take glamorous food pictures with it, so just pretend they are bright and beautiful and the lighting is perfect! I should mention however, that I usually cut my lime decorations in wedges. It looks prettier than the round ones pictured here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dried Cherry, Almond Scones

Scones! Oh, lovely scones! I first fell in love with you at The Brown Palace in Denver while having high tea and you still got me! OK- seriously The Brown in Denver really does make out of this world buttermilk scones served with crazy good devonshire cream and strawberry preserves. That and some black tea, with 1 sugar cube and a dash of milk and I'm in hog heaven. No where else I'd rather be. I've tried to make scones at home before using a pre made mix from King Arthur Flour. They did the job but were just not fantastic. Then, yesterday, I was watching Food Network when Anne Burell (the restaurant chef), bless her, made dried cherry almond scones. I watched as she combined the cream with the butter and flour mixture that was lightly scented by fresh lemon zest and cinnamon. I watched as she added in the dried cherries and sliced almonds, cut them into sweet triangles and dusted them generously with turbinado sugar. But what really did me in was her homemade "butter" she made to top the scones. Oh. my. gosh. I think it may actually taste better than devonshire cream. She basically whipped cream very high and longer than you do for whipped cream so as to "whip it back to butter". She drizzled in some honey and added fresh orange zest. Is everyone with me on this? These are going to be out of this world right??? Plus you can make and freeze the dough already cut out in the triangle shapes and just pop them in the oven when you are ready for a fresh scone. That's what I'm talking about.

I had to try out these scones so I decided I would make them for Mother Day. I would give my Mom a little package of fresh scones with the scented butter on Saturday night when I'm going to see her so she could have breakfast on me the next morning. Come to think of it, if you tucked a tea cup and tea or her favorite coffee in there it would really be a great idea.

I made these last night and they looked fabulous. They smelled awesome and the texture was amazing. The crunch of the turbinado sugar on top just makes it, so don't leave it out. It's worth the four bucks to buy the bag for these scones alone. OK, so my confession is that I didn't actually eat one. I can't because I'm on this dang no sugar cleanse. However, Jeremy, a scone aficionado tried one and said they were exceptional and he didn't even have the scented butter! Plus I tore into his scone to touch the inside to inspect and it was just lovely. Cakey, light, but the outside had some body and crumbly bite. I put some already made, not yet baked ones in the freezer for me and the second I'm done with this cleanse, I'm eating one over tea! You my dear friends, thankfully don't have to wait that long.

Dried Cherry, Almond Scones
Adapted from Anne Burell

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 lemon zested (I did about half a lemon)
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used slightly less)
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/2 cup heavy cream (I needed more like 3/4 cup)
Turbinado sugar for garnishing
Honey butter, recipe follows

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar. baking powder, lemon zest, salt and cinnamon and process to combine, just a couple seconds. Add in the butter and run the machine until the butter is distributed evenly throughout (it will look like your starting flour mixture, only a tad clumpier) Dump mixture into a bowl and add the cherries and almonds. Add the heavy cream and combine in into the butter flour mixture. Adding more cream if necessary, a tablespoon at a time until you can squeeze the dough in your fist and it holds the shape. It will be slightly crumbly, but should be able to hold together well. If it doesn't, add more cream and mix it in.

Dump the dough out onto your counter and form it into a ball. Press down on the ball of dough evenly to create a 1 inch thick disk, then cut it (like a pizza) into 6-8 equal wedges. 6 for large scones, 8 for smaller. Sprinkle each wedge generously with turbinado sugar and give it a little pat on top so it sticks to the dough better. Transfer the wedges to a parchment lined sheet pan (I didn't use parchment paper) and bake in the preheated oven for 17 to 18 minutes, turning the pan halfway through, to ensure even browning. Serve warm with honey butter.

Honey Butter

1/2 pint cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey
1 orange zested

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add all ingredients and whip on high speed until the cream starts to clump and turn light yellow. Continue mixing as butter forms and the buttermilk begins to separate out which will take a little longer than 10 minutes. Scrape sides and continue mixing until is one lump of butter. The butter will all clump to the mixer whisk and there will be a big puddle of buttermilk below. Place butter into a clean container or serving dish and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

These scones are light, slightly crumbly, gloriously cakey and moist when served fresh from the oven. If baked ahead of time and allowed to sit out they are more dense and crumbly and still delicious. If you want to make them ahead of time and keep them in the freezer until ready to use, just do everything, even adding the turbinado sugar on top, then place the individual wedges in a freezer zip lock bag, careful to keep a little space between each one and freeze on a flat surface. When you are ready they can go straight from the freezer onto a sheet pan and bake.

If you don't have a food processor, you can just combine all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and when you add in the bits of cold butter, just smash them throughout the dough with your fingers. It's more time consuming, but it will work. Also, if you don't have cream for the scone dough, you can substitute for half and half or buttermilk. Cream is lovely though. Also, I said it once and I'll say it again, the turbinado sugar makes this really special so I really do recommend buying it. It was in the baking aisle of my grocery store and you can use it for topping any number of baked goods, strudels and cakes or for just using in your morning coffee.

You will get such a kick out of making the butter. It tastes delicious and is a great chemistry lesson!

Thick, Chewy Granola Bars

I have basically been on a no sugar, no dairy diet, for a couple weeks now ( I already haven't been eating meat). This might come as a shock if you know me. I had my blood checked while I was in California and it didn't look good. My system was being overtaken with sugar and it was causing regular headaches and fatigue. I decided I had to get my body in check with this cleanse/detox. It is the only way to get rid my body of the sugar/yeast and stop my problems before they multiply into something worse. It's a lonely diet. It's a sad diet. No alcohol, bread of any kind, not mention pastas, tortillas and the like. No desserts, fruit, cheese, milk, eggs--I could go on but I'll stop myself. Needless to say, I have not been cooking much of anything that I'd be thrilled to share with you. The problem is I still want to post and try recipes out.

Problem solved. Well, for now anyway because I'm going to share with you this killer granola bar recipe that I made in late March and just forgot or never got around to posting before today. I really can't believe I didn't put this one up sooner because I was very pleased with the results. I read about these first on the Smitten Kitchen website, but they are originally from King Arthur Flour. It really helped to understand that homemade granola bars are not rocket science. In fact they are extremely flexible. Most all the ingredients can be swapped for another. All you are looking for is a basic proportion of chunky (nuts, dried fruit) to sticky (syrups, sugar oil or butter) and from there, everything thing else is up to you. The vanilla is optional. In fact you could use some almond extract instead if your feeling that. The cinnamon is optional. You can use no dried fruit or all dried fruit in your mix. Toss in flax seeds or sesame seeds! Seriously, make it your own. These are sweet, but not overly sweet. Chewy and thick, like the title, go figure. They are also so good and they stay chewy meaning they won't harden up on you.

Thick, Chewy Granola Bars
adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (use more for sweeter bars, less for mildly sweet)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (*examples below)
1/3 cup peanut butter or almond butter (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line an 8"x 8"x 2" pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if using) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it. Or just spray your fingers with non stick spray.)

Bake the bars for 30-40 minutes, until they're brown around the edges and don't be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. they'll still seem soft and almost under baked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they'll set completely once cool.

Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment "sling" to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. this can speed the process up.)

Once cool, use a serrated knife to cut the bars into squares. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it's best to store the bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.

*Suggestions for the nuts and fruit: Dried cranberries, cherries, apricots, raisins, shredded coconut, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chocolate chips, walnuts, almonds, pecans, wheat germ, flax seeds, dried pineapple, dried apple...The list goes on. My mix was coconut, almonds, cashews, and dried apricots. But that's just what I had on hand at the time.

I suggest you dice up the fruit and nuts that you add to make eating the bars easier. These are definitely not low cal, but they are delicious and probably a lot better for you than all the preservative crap in the store bought ones. Just so you know these don't taste anything like the store bought ones. These are leaps and bounds better and to quote Martha, that's a good thing.