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Archive for April, 2011

It has finally gotten hot in DC.  The last few days we’ve been in the 80s, and even though it already feels kind of gross I know it’s only a preview what’s to come over the next four+ months.  I am saving my all-time favorite cold soup, gazpacho, for when the vegetables for it are in season but I decided to make this cold refreshing soup now.

I know that the concept may seem strange, but the flavors go together really well.  As a lover of avocado, I was also excited to try something beyond the tradition guacamole-like roles avocado usually plays.  I will note that this soup is best eaten the day it’s prepared.  I found that after a few days the citrus became a bit more pungent.  But otherwise I have really enjoyed this soup!

 

Avocado-Grapefruit Soup – 1 Knife (Adapted from New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant)

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 2 cups grapefruit juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1¼ cups water
  • ¼ cup apple juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Cook:

  1. Add to a blender the pulp of the avocados and grapefruit juice.  Puree the contents until very smooth.
  2. Pour the puree into a large bowl and add in the salt, allspice, cinnamon, water, apple juice, and honey.
  3. Stir well until everything is well mixed.
  4. Chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving, and enjoy!

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It’s been an exciting few days over here at the ICBW kitchen.  My blog was “highlighted” on the Washington Post website, my hats from Michigan arrived, and I received the following delightful anecdote from my friend Gaurav which I have translated for your pleasure from Gchat into “normal” English…

Gaurav:  Dude, you’re famous. I was talking to a friend that was running off to cook dinner, and then she cut and paste a recipe from your site to brag about what she was cooking!

Rachel:  Ok… go on.  Do I know this girl?

Gaurav:  I was like whoa! I know whose site that is!  It’s this girl from Wisconsin.

Rachel:  Whoa!

Gaurav:  You’re eminently Google-able apparently!  “Au Bon Pain” and “salad recipe” comes up with your dish.

That makes a great introductory blurb to what is otherwise a boring recipe concept, right?  I thought so at least.  Now a note on the PB… If you are only used to name brands out of a jar like Skippy and JIF, this peanut butter will taste very different and may not be up your alley.  If you are used to “all natural” peanut butter or the stuff from the farmers market, then this will taste very familiar.

I wound up storing my PB in an old peanut butter jar I had just emptied of its remaining bits for a PB-banana smoothie.  The new PB looks perfectly at home in the new jar in the fridge, and it saves me from having to deal with cleaning it to recycle (for now anyway).

 

Peanut Butter – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (you could use canola or vegetable worst case, but it will not taste as peanutty)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Cook:

  1. Pour the peanuts, honey and the salt into a food processor.
  2. Run the food processor until the peanuts are ground into very small, mealy pieces.  The peanuts will resemble almost dry peanut butter, like a powder form of the paste.  This can take a few minutes.
  3. With the food processor running slowly drizzle in the oil so that a smooth paste forms.  If a chunk of the dry stuff remains (it was like a solid ball in my food processor), you can add a little extra oil.  Add it very slowly until the peanut butter is completely smooth in the food processor.  Make sure not to add so much that the PB becomes oily.
  4. Transfer the PB to a container and store in the fridge to keep fresh, and enjoy!

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The moment I heard that you could bake a cake, crumble it to smithereens, mix the crumbs with the frosting, mold it into balls, and then finally dip it in chocolate I JUST KNEW I had to make this for Easter.  And lucky for me, this week’s potluck has been designated “Easter” themed.  There will be a ham, deviled eggs, and loads of the traditional fixings.

What is a shame is that my cake turned out beautifully and would have been lovely on its own.  But I resisted the urge to be lazy and crumbled it to pieces.  Same goes with the frosting and a spoon…  though I will say that these truffles will not look store-bought perfect.  But who cares?  They will taste delicious either way!  Also, it makes a ton.  I made 45 but still had extra cake-dough.   It now is haunting my fridge until I one day cave and throw it away.

Now for the chocolate dip I do not own a double boiler, so I wrote out the directions assuming you don’t either.  If you have a double boiler you should know how to use it, so my instructions can be ignored.  If you don’t own a double boiler then feel free to use this trick any time you are baking a recipe that calls for one.

Carrot Cake Truffles – 2 Rolling Pins (Cake adapted from Alton Brown – my fave!)

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups flour
  • 6 medium-large carrots
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 ounces plain yogurt (one single serving cup from the store)
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 8 oz brick of cream cheese
  • ½ stick butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 36 oz white chocolate chips

Cake Prep:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  2. At this time set out the cream cheese and the butter to soften.
  3. Grease a 9 inch round baking pan with butter, and then carefully coat with flour.  Dump out any excess flour.
  4. Wash and dry the carrots and then shred them using a grater or a food processor’s grater attachment.  Set the carrots aside.

Bake:

  1. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Stir well until completely integrated.
  2. Add the carrots to the flour, stirring well so that all of the carrots are coated in flour.
  3. In a separate medium bowl combine that sugar, brown sugar, eggs and yogurt.  Stir well until combined.
  4. Add the oil to the sugar mixture.  Stir well until incorporated.
  5. Stir the sugar mixture into the flour and carrots and mix until it is well combined.
  6. Pour the cake batter into the baking pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes.
  7. After 45 minutes reduce the temperature of the oven to 325° Fahrenheit and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
  8. Once the cake is done place it on a wire rack to cool.
  9. After the cake has had time to cool carefully crumble it into a large bowl.  I dumped the whole cake into the bowl and then broke it up with my hands to avoid making a massive mess.  If the cake is taking a long time to cool you can put it in the refrigerator for a while.

Truffle Balls Prep:

  1. Combine in a medium bowl the cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar.  Stir well until it is well combined and smooth.
  2. Once the frosting is complete stir it into the bowl with the cake crumbs and mix very well until all of the frosting is mixed in with the cake.  It should create a crumbly dough-like mixture.
  3. Roll the dough into 1½ inch balls and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
  4. Place the balls in the freezer to cool for 30 minutes.

Making the Truffles:

  1. Grab two saucepans, one bigger than the other.  Fill the larger pot with about 1½ inches of water and place on a burner on high to bring to a boil.
  2. Once the water is boiling turn the heat down to medium.
  3. Nest the smaller pot inside the large one and pour the white chocolate chips into the little pot.
  4. Stir the chips until they are completely melted and smooth.  Turn off the burner.
  5. Drop each ball one at a time into the chocolate, moving it around with two forks to get it covered, and then place it back on the wax paper.  If the chocolate starts to get tough start the burner and stir until the chocolate is melty again.
  6. Dip each of the balls.
  7. You can use a spoon to cover any missed spots on the balls with chocolate.
  8. Place the balls in the fridge for about an hour to let cool.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

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I know you all are like, “Another round up?  Stop being lazy!”  Sorry, but I can’t help it.  Being super sick followed by dog sitting away from home for a few days means that I haven’t spent quality time in my kitchen in AGES.  This will change this weekend, I promise.  But in the meantime I thought I would share some recipes that could be nice additions to your Easter table:

Hors d’oeuvres/Appetizers

Baked Artichoke

Cold Spicy Shrimp

Deviled Eggs

Shrimp Cocktail Sauce

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Tomato, Olive and Anchovies Quiche

Soups/Salads/Sides

Balsamic Butter Asparagus

Beet and Orange Salad

Carrot Ginger Soup

Chicken Soup

Cucumber and Radish Salad

Maple Glazed Carrots

Dessert

Banana Cream Pie

Blueberry Fool

Chocolate Mousse

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While surveying everything I’ve made during the short lifespan of this blog I realized that I’ve cooked a lot of non-Kosher stuff.   A lot.   I did manage to find the few recipes that are Kosher for Passover, regardless of whether you are Sephardic or Ashkenazi.  I hope that the recipes below will help you survive the 8 days of Matzo, Matzo, and more Matzo.

Appetizers/Soup/Salad/Sides

Entrees

Desserts

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Here it is again, that line between breakfast and dessert.  Just earlier this week we were discussing at work how muffins are really just cake in a funny shape. It’s true that many breakfast sweets really are just desserts in a poor disguise.  I like that this recipe is honest about what it is.  It’s a cake.  That you eat for breakfast.  I also like that its pumpkin, a lot.

Now not everyone owns ramekins, so there are some possible substitutes.  One option is to use a large muffin tin (one that would make huge muffins).  Another is that you can use oven-proof mugs or bowls.  These should be made of stoneware, as traditional coffee mugs may not hold up.  It’s important to note that just because a mug is microwave safe it does not mean it is safe to use in the oven.

I did also make one change to the recipe regarding “topping” the cakes.  The original recipe calls for a glaze made with powdered sugar and maple syrup.  I decided to just use straight maple syrup and cut back on the sugar, but you can still do the glaze if you’d like.  The cakes are not too sweet so the additional sugar won’t overwhelm them.  Just make sure to use real maple syrup and not that nasty corn syrup stuff that comes in a bottle shaped like grandma.

 I need a new camera

Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Cakes – ½ rolling pin (Adapted from Tasty Kitchen)

Ingredients:

  • ½ stick butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup pureed pumpkin (the plain canned kind)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/8 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I used a combination of nutmeg, ginger powder, cloves and allspice)
  • Maple syrup

Prep:

  1. About an hour before you plan to bake, take the butter out of the fridge so it can warm up to room temperature.
  2. Right before you prepare the recipe preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  3. Grease the inside of two ramekins.

Bake:

  1. In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and the sugar until well mixed.
  2. Add the egg and stir well until the mixture is combined.
  3. Add the vanilla and pumpkin and stir until the pumpkin is completely mix in.
  4. Add in the two kinds of flour, baking powder, salt and spices.  Stir the mixture well until everything is evenly mixed and no flour remains on the edges of the bowl.
  5. Pour the mixture into the two ramekins, making sure they have even quantities.
  6. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and then bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the middle comes out clean.  Mine needed to bake for the whole 35 minutes, but it can’t hurt to check the cakes after 30 minutes.
  7. Allow the cakes to cool for at least 15-20 minutes before carefully removing them from the ramekins.
  8. Place the cakes on plates, drizzle with maple syrup (as much or as little as you like), and enjoy!

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I just arrived home from vacation and boy am I tired, and hungry!  I wanted something really quick that I could prepare with ingredients I had lying around and that would require little to no effort.  I was also planning a run to the grocery store to supplement if necessary (for once I have had time to run to the store for lunch food recently).  I decided to cook up this faux-caccia.  Cute name huh?  It’s like focaccia, but its faster, lazier, and could be more accurately described as a flatbread.  But I like the name, so it sticks.

For the dough you can use any store-bought pizza dough, or you could make it from scratch.  But who has time for that?  I used a “can” of the thin crust stuff from Pillsbury.  It was my first time using it, but I like the results, though I do prefer homemade usually when there is time.  Also, whichever dough you use make sure to follow the baking instructions for that particular dough.

I will also add for posterity that I happened to have sitting around a teeny-tiny can of sliced olives I had picked up at CVS, so that explains the weird measurement.  It was a 2.25 oz can, seriously!

Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Faux-caccia – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • Pizza dough (enough for one pizza)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 3-2 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup medium black olives
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes (about 6 tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano

Prep:

  1. Preheat the oven to the temperature indicated on the pizza dough container or recipe.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with about ½ teaspoon of the olive oil.
  3. Cut the tomatoes into thin slices and set aside.
  4. Drain the olives of their liquid and cut them in half, either direction works fine for this recipe.  Set aside.
  5. Peel the garlic and cut into a fine mince, or use a garlic press to mince the garlic, and set aside.

Cook:

  1. Spread the pizza dough evenly across the baking sheet.  The dough should be about ¼ inch think and should cover the pan.
  2. Using a pastry brush or your hands spread the olive oil across the dough.  You don’t have to use the whole amount, just be sure that all of the dough has been oiled.
  3. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the pizza dough.
  4. Spread the garlic evenly over the pizza dough.
  5. Spread the tomatoes and olives over the dough, distributing evenly.
  6. Press the toppings gently into the dough so they are imbedded a bit.  I didn’t do this, so all of my toppings jumped for freedom when I’d try to eat a piece.
  7. Sprinkle the oregano evenly over the top.
  8. Bake the dough according to the instructions.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan for at least 10 minutes.
  10. Cut, serve and enjoy!

 

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