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Archive for July, 2011

Holy moly is it hot outside.  DC has been hitting the 100s and high 90s the last few weeks.  It’s unbearable.  One of the best ways to quench the thirst caused by such extreme heat is agua fresca – refreshing fruit water.  It is incredibly easy to make, especially if you have a powerful blender.  If your blender is not a powerhouse there are ways to make sure your drink is still nice and smooth.  Either way its a great way to beat the heat the rest of the summer.

Cucumber Lime Agua Fresca – 1 Knife (Adapted from Paletas by Fany Gerson)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 limes
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Prep:

  1. Wash the cucumber and cut of the ends and discard them.  Then cut the cucumber into quarters.
  2. Squeeze the juice of the three limes into a bowl and set aside. To release more juice roll the uncut limes on the counter to soften them.  I also like to use a fork to help juice the limes to get more out of each one.

Cook:

  1. In a pitcher pour in 2 cups of water.
  2. Place the cucumber in the blender along with the remaining water.
  3. If your blender has a “liquefy” option blend using that option until the cucumber has liquefied.  If your blender does not, blend the contents until the cucumber is well pureed. 
  4. Pour the cucumber water into the pitcher, using a strainer to sift out any solid pieces.
  5. Add the lime juice to the pitcher as well as the sugar.  Stir well until the sugar has dissolved.
  6. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours until cold, then serve and enjoy!

 

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The other week I wanted to make peach chutney to top my fried green tomatoes.  I couldn’t find any recipes I liked online and decided to wing it.  And I really winged it. I wound up grabbing random stuff off of my shelves that “felt right.”  I wasn’t even sure it would taste good to others, and so foisted it upon objective eaters and they said it was good.  So, based on their word I’ve decided to post it.

 

Curried Peach Chutney – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 1 peach
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 thin slices of white onion
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of ground black pepper

Prep:

  1. Remove the skin from the peach and cut in half to remove the pit.  Cut the peach into a small dice.  Do this by cutting the peach into slices, then cutting the slices into sticks, and finally cutting the sticks into little cubes.  Set these aside.
  2. Remove the peel from the garlic and chop into a mince or use a garlic press to mince the garlic, set aside.
  3. Remove the skin from part of the onion and chop off two ¼ inch thick slices.  Cut these slices then into a dice by cutting across horizontally and then vertically.  Set aside.

Cook:

  1. Heat up the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Once hot add the onions and cook 3-5 minutes until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for another minute.
  4. Add the curry powder, salt and pepper and stir to mix with the onions.
  5. Add the peach to the pan as well as the sherry and vinegar and stir to combine all of the ingredients.
  6. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes or until the peaches are cooked through and the liquids from the sherry and vinegar are thickened, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add the honey and stir well.  Cook an additional minute.
  8. Transfer the chutney to a serving bowl and enjoy!

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One of my summer favorites at the farmer’s market is the green tomatoes.  Last summer was the first time I started working with them, and I love their crisp, tart flavor.   Now one of my favorite movies is “Fried Green Tomatoes” (girl power!) so naturally frying the suckers up wasn’t even a question.

Since my first intrepid batch my fried green tomato skills have improved.  I’ve found for instance that if you don’t mind wasting little oil, having some depth – say ¼ inch of oil – can go a long way to an even browning.  I’ve also found that you should wait a minute to let them cool before shoving them in your face.  The alternative is a bad burn in your mouth.  Trust me on that one.

 

Fried Green Tomatoes  – 1 Knife

 Ingredients:

  • 1-2 green tomatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • ½ cup cornmeal (add more if you need more)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup flour
  • cooking oil like vegetable or canola

Prep:

  1. Add to a small bowl, but that is big enough to dredge (this means coat on both sides) tomato slices in, the egg and tobacco sauce. Stir well with a fork until the egg and tobacco are well mixed.
  2. Add to a second small bowl, that again an fit tomato, the cornmeal, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.
  3. Add to a third bowl the flour.
  4. Slice the tomato(es) across the entire tomato to create cross-sectional slices of the tomato, about ¼ inch thick.   Each slice should show off the entirety of the tomato.  I do not recommend using the end pieces.
  5. Set up an area to drain the tomatoes when they come out of the oil using a folded paper bag (like from the grocery store) and paper towel.  You can also use a plate and paper towel.

Cook:

  1. Dredge a slice of tomato in the flour and coat both sides.  I like to use a fork to move flour around to make sure it covers everything.
  2. Next dredge the slice of tomato in the egg mixture, making sure it completely coats.
  3. Finally, dredge the slice of tomato in the cornmeal mixture, turning to make sure both sides are evenly coated.
  4. Repeat this step with all of the tomato slices, and set them aside on a plate.
  5. Place a large frying pan over medium heat and add oil until about ¼ inch high (or less if you are more conservative, or more if you wish). Allow the oil to heat up, you will know it’s hot if a drop of water (do this carefully please, oil burns hurt) causes the oil to bubble.
  6. Add tomatoes to the pan, being careful not to crowd them.
  7. After 3-5 minutes once the tomatoes are brown but not burnt on the on side, carefully flip them with a spatula to cook the other side for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  8. Once cooked through remove from the pan and place on the drain bag/plate and blot with paper towel if you want to remove more oil.
  9. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then serve and enjoy!  I recommend serving with a fresh fruit chutney or relish.  Makes them delish!  

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Some days I just really don’t want to have to do much work for my dinner.  Usually this is a work night, I’m pooped, but I’m also starving and feeling too poor for delivery.  Keeping frozen shrimp in my freezer makes it easy to cook on nights like that.  The shrimp thaw in 10-15 minutes in a bowl of water, and presto! you have dinner.

Now with shrimp fra diavolo there are TONS of substitutions.  There are two big ones that I think are worth noting.  The first is whether to use fresh or dried basil.  I prefer the flavor of fresh if it’s around, but when it’s not in my fridge I will use dried.  The second is regarding tomatoes.  I prefer to use canned diced tomatoes, and my father (who cooked the dish in the photo) prefers crushed tomatoes.  Crushed tomatoes give it a more saucy texture.  Use what you prefer – sauce or chunks of tomatoes.  Both work well and will taste great!

Ok I lied; one more thing you can tweak – the heat.  This recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.  If you are timid with heat, use less.  If you love spice add more.  Just don’t go overboard, especially if serving to others who may not share your enthusiasm for heat.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of deveined, peeled uncooked shrimp
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes (plain, no seasoning added)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped basil leaves
  • 10 oz dry linguine or spaghetti

Prep:

  1. Peel the onion and chop into a dice, and set aside.
  2. Peel and mince the garlic and set aside.
  3. Chop up the fresh basil by bunching up the leaves together and cutting into slices and then chopping those slices again.  Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl toss the shrimp with the salt and red pepper flakes.  Make sure to coat all of the shrimp.

Cook:

  1. Over high heat bring water to a boil to cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat add 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Add the shrimp to the skillet and sauté for one minute, stir and cook for another 1-2 minutes until the shrimp are just cooked.
  4. Remove the shrimp from the skillet and place in a bowl to save for later.
  5. Return the skillet to the burner and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  6. Add the onions to the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes or until translucent, stirring occasionally.
  7. Then add the tomatoes (and all of that good juice in the can), wine, garlic and oregano to the pan.  Stir well and allow to cook for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens.  If using dried basil add the basil at this time as well.
  8. Add the shrimp and any juices in the bowl back into the skillet.  Stir to coat the shrimp in the sauce and cook for about one minute.
  9. Add the basil to the skillet and stir to mix.  Ignore this step if using dried basil.
  10. Serve on top of a bed of pasta and enjoy!

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I love baking.  There is just no getting around that I love the smells, the process, and especially consuming the final product.  Whenever I come across an innovative recipe I take note.  This recipe I found in an issue of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food Magazine.  It was a great twist on a classic.

There are a few minor tweaks with the original recipe that I made.  The first is that it calls for broiling the marshmallows on the cookies.  I don’t trust my broiler enough to do this, so I bake for an additional minute with the marshmallows instead.  Also if you don’t have regular sized marshmallows you can substitute with minis.  My grocery store only had minis recently so I was forced to make this change.  Finally if your food processor does not have the capacity for all of the oats and flour, you can do half the flour, and then stir in the second half of the flour when the ingredients are added to the bowl.  Now that was a lot of adjustments, so on to the recipe (which makes about 30 cookies).

 

S’mores Cookies – 1½ Rolling Pins (Adapted from Everyday Food Magazine)

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (if you don’t have whole wheat substitute with all purpose)
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz of chocolate cut into 30 squares (I used Hershey’s bars for campfire kitsch)
  • 15 large marshmallows

Prep:

  1. A few hours before you are ready to bake take the butter out of the fridge to allow to warm up to room temperature.
  2. Cut the marshmallows in halves.  Set aside.
  3. Break the chocolate into 30 pieces.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.

Bake:

  1. In a large bowl combine the butter and the brown sugar and stir until light and fluffy.
  2. Add to the butter and sugar the egg and stir until well mixed.
  3. Pour the oats into a food processor and pulse until the oats are finely ground.
  4. Add to the food processor the 2 cups of flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt and pulse until combined.
  5. Pour the flour mixture into the bowl with the sugar and stir well until everything is combined into a dough.  Do not over-stir.
  6. Drop the dough by tablespoons onto baking sheets.  Space the dough about one inch apart.
  7. Place one square of chocolate on top of each ball of dough.
  8. Bake in the oven for 11-13 minutes until light brown.
  9. Carefully place the marshmallows onto the chocolate, pressing lightly so that they stick to the chocolate.
  10. Return the cookies to the oven for an additional 1 minute to allow the marshmallows to melt.  If you have a good broiler, you can broil the marshmallows in this step for about 1 minute until lightly golden.
  11. Allow cookies to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to complete cooling, then serve and enjoy!

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Everyone has their 4th of July traditions.  Once I left home and was on my own, I created my own traditions and this macaroni salad is one of them.  My grandmother was given this recipe by her neighbor in Valley Stream, NY, Elaine Cohen.  If any recipe shows the power and importance of sharing it might be this one as it became a family staple over the decades.  I grew up this recipe whenever my father would make it as his mother made it for him growing up.  It was always so special – I loved it.  So as an adult I decided that every 4th I would make this salad.  Whether I bring it to a cookout or eat it all on my own varies year to year.

Now to be honest, if I saw this recipe in a cookbook I might overlook it as it is quite retro.  But don’t be turned off by the olives and pimentos.  This salad has all of the right flavors to compliment hot dogs, hamburgers, anything you can throw on a grill on a summer day.  It also holds well on its own as a lunch entrée.  The one quirk of this salad is that its best to make it the day before you plan to serve it to allow the flavors to come together.

 

Macaroni Salad with Olives and Pimentos– 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz elbow macaroni (half a standard box)
  • 1 15 oz can of small black pitted olives
  • 1 15 oz can of green olives stuffed with pimentos
  • 1 small jar of pimentos
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 green pepper
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ½ lemon
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Prep:

  1. Drain the cans of olives.  Chop the olives in half across the equator to create two short halves – one half with the top of the olive with the hole and then the bottom (not long, even halves).  Set aside.
  2. Drain the pimentos from the liquid.  Chop the pimentos into a fine dice, and set aside.
  3. Wash the carrots and grate them.  Set them aside.
  4. Wash the green pepper.  Cut out the core and discard all of the seeds.  Cut the green pepper into thin slices and then cut those slices into a small dice.  Set aside.
  5. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a small bowl, removing any seeds.

Cook:

  1. Place a pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil.  Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package.
  2. Meanwhile in a large bowl combine the black and green olives, pimentos, carrots and green peppers.
  3. When the pasta finishes cooking, strain and run under cold water until the past feels lukewarm.  Be sure the remove any access water.
  4. Add the pasta to the bowl and stir so that all of the ingredients are well mixed.
  5. Add the lemon juice to the pasta mixture and stir well.
  6. Add the mayonnaise to the pasta mixture and stir until it is evenly incorporated.  If you prefer more mayo in your salad, feel free to add a little more.
  7. Sprinkle the garlic powder evenly over the bowl and stir well.
  8. Cover the salad and place in the refrigerator for a few hours to chill, but preferably allow it to sit for a day.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

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