Friday, November 30, 2007

INDEX FOR ALL RECIPES


There are too many recipes without an index on this site because blogger isn't really set up for it. So I've decided to add an index of recipes I have posted during the month at the end of each month. I'm hoping it will make it easier to find the recipes.


APPETIZER RECIPES:
Crunchy Chili Onion Rings
Pinto Beans cooked in Olive Oil - Pilaki
Stuffed Vine Leaves - Yaprak Dolma
Zucchini Fritters With Herbs And Cheese

SOUP RECIPES:
Spicy Tomato Soup

SALAD RECIPES:
Avocado and Tomato Salad
Beet And Goat Cheese Salad With Pistachios
Cucumber Dill Salad
Cucumber, Mustard and Dill Salad

Lentil Salad With Tomato And Dill
Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Feta Cheese
Tabbouleh

VEGETABLE DISHES:
Brussel Sprouts with White Beans and Pecorino
Eggplant, Zucchini, Onion, Tomato, And Feta Cheese Napoleons
Grilled Zucchini with Greek Spices and Feta Salad
Pinto Beans cooked in Olive Oil - Pilaki
Roasted Eggplant Puree - Hunkar Begendi - Sultan's Delight
Rustic Porcini Onion Stuffing
Spinach with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Toasted Parmesan Crumbs
Stuffed Vine Leaves - Yaprak Dolma

SANDWICH RECIPES:
Made Up Toast Souffle
Taverna Veggie Sandwiches

SAUCES/DIPS:
Creamy Mustard Sauce
Cucumber Dill Sauce
Guacamole
Herbed Mustard Sauce

BEEF RECIPES:
Andouille Burgers with Grilled Sweet Onions and Creole Remoulade Sauce
Baked Meatballs and Potatoes - Firinda Kofte Ve Patates
Herbed Lamb Chops with Pinot Noir Sauce
Lady's Thigh Meatballs - Kadinbudu Kofte
Lamb Burgers with Feta Sauce
Meatloaf with Barbecue Sauce and Red Onions
Sliced Steak With Arugula
Sloppy Joes
Steak Diane
Stewed Kebabs in a Bowl - Tas Kebab
Veal Cutlets With Thyme Butter Sauce

FISH RECIPES:
Salmon Cooked in Parchment Paper

POTATO RECIPES:
Basic Mashed Potatoes
Creamy Herbed Potatoes
Potato Gratin With Goat Cheese, Tomatoes, And Olives
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Potato Wedges With Rosemary Butter

PASTA RECIPES:
Baked Pasta - Pasta Gratin
Fettuccine With Roasted Tomato Sauce And Parmesan
Roasted Vegetable And Prosciutto Lasagna With Alfredo Sauce
Sausage, Cheese And Basil Lasagna
Spaghetti Carbonara
Tricolor Tomato Fettucine

RICE RECIPES:
Basil Risotto
Creole Vegetable Jambalaya
Risotto Con Parmigiano-Reggiano

MISC RECIPES:
Garlic Croutons
Crepes

DRINK RECIPES:
Frozen Margarita
Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

DESSERT RECIPES:
Chocolate Amaretti Peaches
Coconut Flan
Dark Chocolate Souffles With Cardamom Creme Anglaise
Dark Chocolate Torte With Spiked Blackberry Coulis
Dark Molten Chocolate Cakes
Double Chocolate Orange Pudding
Fruit-And-Almond Gratins
Honey-Ginger Pineapple Crepes
Lemon Creme Brulee With Fresh Berries
Mosaic
Old-Fashioned New York-Style Cheesecake with Berry Coulis

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Taverna Veggie Sandwiches

Here is a very easy veggie sandwich, perfect for anytime, perhaps with a small salad next to it.

It doesn't have a variety of veggies like most veggie sandwiches have, it's simple and delicious. I had copied this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens. And I haven't followed it exactly. If you wanted to add things to it, you could roast zucchinis, red peppers, and onions, and then layer the sandwich with them.

You can also substitute feta cheese with goat cheese, which I prefer. Just try different combinations to your liking. You can even use hummus instead of cheese.

Roasted garlic oil is a flavored olive oil that's available in specialty sections of many supermarkets. If unavailable, do not attempt to make your own flavored oil; only those prepared commercially are sure to be safe to eat. Instead, substitute 1/8 teaspoon garlic puree or minced garlic and 1/4 cup salad oil.

TAVERNA VEGGIE SANDWICHES

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces (4 to 8 slices total)
1/4 cup roasted garlic oil 3 medium tomatoes, sliced in 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 large slices sourdough, Italian, or French bread, about 3/4 inch thick
2 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 2 ounces)

Directions:
Place eggplant slices on a lightly greased, foil-lined baking sheet; brush with a little oil. Bake, uncovered, in a 450 degree F oven for 10 minutes; add tomato slices to baking sheet, brush lightly with oil. Bake about 5 minutes more or until vegetables are just tender and eggplant is lightly browned.

Lift foil with vegetables from baking sheet; set aside to cool slightly. Place bread slices on the same baking sheet. Brush the top side of each bread slice with some oil. Bake in the 450 degree F oven about 4 minutes or until lightly browned.

For each sandwich, place each bread slice browned side down. Brush each unbrowned side with some more of the oil. Top each bread slice with some tomato slices and 1 or 2 slices roasted eggplant. Place more tomato slices atop eggplant. Sprinkle sandwiches with oregano and feta cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

I thought I should use a different kind of recipe this time. It can't be all food. Although you can think of a smoothie as food:)

If you use fresh strawberries, use ice; but you can also use store bought frozen strawberries. If you do, omit the ice, it would become too watery.

Feel free to add some whipped cream. I always do:)

Or if you want, you can skip the whipped cream and add a dash of Grand Marnier. Yum:)


STRAWBERRY-BANANA SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
1/2 small, peeled ripe banana
1/4 cup stemmed, sliced strawberries
honey to taste
1 cup ice cubes

Directions:
Place all the ingredients in a blender except the ice cubes. Puree on high speed until smooth.Add ice cubes and blend until thick and smooth.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fettuccine with Roasted Tomato Sauce and Parmesan

I don't remember where I got this recipe from, but I've cooked it several times, enjoying it every time. For me it is comfort food and roasting the sauce has a very special taste, different than regular tomato sauces. It's zestier and not much harder to prepare than a regular tomato sauce.

It is so good that I don't add anything else to this sauce. And I like texture, so I don't blend in a blender, but use a stick blender for a very short time; but be careful as the sauce can fly around if the stick blender is not deep enough. I have used different types of pastas, but fettuccine is by far the best one with this sauce

And some red wine..... Mamma mia:)))


FETTUCCINE WITH ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE AND PARMESAN

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 shallots, peeled and halved
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups whole, canned Italian plum tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, or
1/2 teaspoon dried
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
12 ounces fettuccine pasta

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and oregano and cook for 2 more minutes.

Transfer this mixture to a baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Place the dish in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly and coarsely chop the mixture in a food processor or blender.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the pasta and cook until it is al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes according to package instructions. Drain. Place the pasta in a warm serving bowl, toss with half of the Parmesan cheese and add the tomato mixture.

Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and serve piping hot:)

Creamy Mustard Sauce and Herbed Mustard Sauce

I love mustard. It always gives a kick to any dish you are preparing. And I have two mustard sauce recipes, one for everything you can imagine, and the other one for beef. Unfortunately I don't remember where I've gotten these recipes from, it has been so long:)

Feel free to adjust the amounts to your liking, but try not to omit any ingredients.


CREAMY MUSTARD SAUCE

Ingredients:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
Pinch of ground white pepper
Salt to taste

Directions:
In a small saucepan, mix cream, mustard, and pepper. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt. Serve over pork, ham, chicken, steamed vegetables, potatoes, or rice.

HERBED MUSTARD SAUCE

Ingredients:

1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
1/2 cup oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 finely chopped shallot
1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:
Chill evaporated milk in freezer for 10 minutes. Combine tarragon vinegar and Dijon mustard in a blender. Pour in chilled milk. With blender on, add oil in a slow, steady stream until well blended. Add tarragon, shallot, salt and black pepper.

Blend to combine. Serve with meats.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Meatloaf with Barbecue Sauce and Red Onions

Meatloaf is usually made with ketchup, and you can certainly substitute the barbecue sauce with ketchup in this recipe, but if you like the barbecue taste, give this recipe a try.

You don't have to add the bacon on top, under the sauce if you prefer. I like the fat drippings on the meatloaf:)

If you wanted to make it more juicy and somewhat healthier you can add some zucchini, or carrots, or mushrooms. But it is juicy as it is.

Using a meat thermometer is really a good idea with meatloaf, that way you make sure that the inside is cooked.

And these make great leftovers for sandwiches, but if you are cooking for only two and don't want too much leftovers, you don't have to cook the whole recipe. Divide and freeze the second batch. You can keep it for at least 3 months.

I make these into small meatloaves, so that I have more crunchy outside available, and it cuts down the cooking time.


MEATLOAF WITH BARBECUE SAUCE AND RED ONIONS

Ingredients:

1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound lean ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 pounds red onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/3 cup barbecue sauce, divided
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large egg whites
3-4 Slices of bacon, optional
Cooking spray

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until just tender, about 6 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Transfer onion mixture to large bowl.

Combine the beef, breadcrumbs, onion mixture, 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce, and remaining ingredients except cooking spray in a large bowl. Do not overmix as it will make the loaf dense.

Shape meat mixture into a 9 x 5-inch loaf on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Spread the bacon and then the remaining barbecue sauce over top of meat loaf. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a thermometer registers 160°. Let stand 10 minutes.

Transfer to platter and serve.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This is a great twist to regular mashed potatoes. Because you are using roasted garlic, you don't need to be shy with them, roasting mellows them out quite a bit.

I read a great tip about roasting the garlic, and I have been using the method ever since. It is really easy. Cut the top off the garlic to expose the cloves, then add some butter on top and wrap in foil. Then put it in the oven to roast. When it cools give the whole bulb a squeeze. The cloves just pop right out. This way you don't have to worry about peeling which can be pretty messy.

You can use red potatoes because you can leave the skins on, which gives the mashed potatoes texture, and it looks pretty cool:)

If you want a creamier mashed potato add more butter, a little bit at a time, until you get the desired consistency.

These are great as a side dish with almost anything. Enjoy:)


ROASTED GARLIC MASHED POTATOES

Ingredients:
1 head garlic, top 1/2-inch cut away
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black or white pepper
2 pounds baking potatoes, like russets or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup half-and-half (if you prefer you can use non-fat version)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Arrange garlic in one layer on a double thickness of foil and wrap tightly. Roast garlic in middle of oven 45 minutes, or until very soft. Remove from the oven and let cool. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the head to release the cloves into a small bowl. Use a fork to mash the garlic until smooth.

Place the potatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium pot and cover with water by 1-inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain in a colander. Return the saucepan and over medium heat, cook for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, add the mashed garlic and butter, and mash using a hand-held masher. Add the half-and-half and continue to mash until thoroughly combined and the desired consistency is reached. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Creamy Herbed Potatoes

I can eat potatoes any way which way they are prepared. And there are so many ways. This one is creamy and fresh. It makes a wonderful side dish and is a combination of different recipes that I have collected from all over. I do have other potato salad recipes, but this one is the easiest one to prepare..

Although it uses sour cream, you can substitute it for low-fat mayo. The taste will change considerably, but it will still be great. If you use mayo, add the juice of half of a lemon to make it tangier.

Using the red potatoes not only makes it visually pleasing, but because they are lower in starch they will hold their shape when tossed. I sometimes use fingerling potatoes in different colors, and those come out great also. You can find those at Trader Joes.

Although the fresh herbs listed in the recipe is what I like; so I end up using all of them; you can choose which ones to use, or adjust how much you would like to use according to what you like.

CREAMY HERBED POTATOES

Ingredients:

12 small new red potatoes
2 tablespoons low-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons minced red onions
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh dill or parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

Directions:
Scrub the potatoes and place in a saucepan. Cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes well.

Place the potatoes in a bowl and add all of the ingredients. Stir gently and add the salt and pepper.

NOTE: If the potatoes are large, cut them into quarters before cooking them.

Chocolate Amaretti Peaches

If you want to prepare a tasty dessert in about 10 minutes, this recipe is it. But if you choose you can to take your time by baking it in the oven instead of using the microwave. You would need to preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake for about 30-40 minutes. Test them for tenderness, and check the filling, which should be golden.

You can also use fresh nectarines or apricots instead of peaches. Just make sure you are using ripe ones, otherwise getting the pits out can become pretty messy. If they do come out with the pit, just add it to the filling.

The amaretti cookies make this dessert an Italian dessert. And you can serve it with some "gelato" which makes a great presentation. After all looks are important:)

This recipe is all over the Internet with different methods, or instructions. But this is the one that is easy and tasty for me. Enjoy:)

CHOCOLATE AMARETTI PEACHES

Ingredients:
4 ounces (115 g) amaretti biscuits (amaretto cookies), crushed
2 ounces (50 g) plain chocolate, chopped
grated rind of 1/2 orange
1 tbsp (15 ml) clear honey
1/4 tsp (1.5 ml) ground cinnamon
1 egg white, lightly whisked
4 firm ripe peaches
5 tbsp (75 ml) white wine
1 tbsp (15 ml) caster (granulated) sugar

Directions:
Mix together the amaretti biscuits, chocolate, orange rind, honey and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in the egg white to bind the mixture.

Halve and stone the peaches and fill the cavities with the chocolate mixture, mounding it up slightly.

Arrange the stuffed peaches in a lightly buttered, shallow microwave-proof dish which will just hold them. Pour the wine into a cup and stir in the sugar.

Pour the sweetened wine around the peaches. Cover loosely and microwave on High for 2-3 minutes, until the peaches are tender. Serve at once with a little of the cooking juices spooned over and the whipped cream.

Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Pistachios

Even if you don't like beets, try this recipe. If you follow the directions exactly, you will end up with restaurant quality presentation and taste with this recipe which is from Gourmet.

It will take some time to prepare it because you need to roast the beets. You have the option of roasting them a day ahead, peeled and diced, and chilled covered. Make sure you bring them to room temperature before using them. And while peeling they will paint your hands red, so use disposable plastic gloves, it's hard to get that color off.

Pistachio oil makes this dish, but if you can't find it or don't have it handy, I'm adding a recipe I found at Eagle Ranch Pistachios. I actually read this, haven't tried it myself, and it looks pretty easy to make.

You don't have to have the presentation, just putting the salad in a plate is still great, but if you want to, and if you don't have cookie cutters; use an open-ended can. It does work just as well. Make sure you are packing the ingredients so that they don't come undone when you remove the mold.

If you can't find lamb's lettuce, you can use watercress instead. But I seem to find packaged lamb's lettuce at Traders Joes all the time.


BEET AND GOAT CHEESE SALAD WITH PISTACHIOS

Ingredients:
3 large red beets (1 2/3 lb without greens)
2 large golden beets (1 lb without greens)
1/4 cup minced shallot
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup pistachio oil
4 oz soft mild goat cheese
3 tablespoons salted shelled pistachios (not dyed red), coarsely chopped
1 oz mâche (also called lamb's lettuce), trimmed (4 cups)
Special equipment: a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter (without handle; at least 2 inches high)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425°F.

Separately wrap red and golden beets tightly in double layers of foil and roast in middle of oven until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Unwrap beets.

While beets are cooling slightly, whisk together shallot, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then add oil in a stream, whisking.

When beets are cool enough to handle, slip off and discard skins. Separately cut red and golden beets into 1/4-inch dice and put in separate bowls. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons dressing to each bowl and toss to coat.

Place cookie cutter in center of 1 of 8 salad plates. Put one eighth of red beets in cutter and pack down with your fingertips. Crumble 2 teaspoons goat cheese on top, then one eighth of golden beets, packing them down. Gently lift cutter up and away from stack. Make 7 more servings in same manner. Drizzle each plate with 1 teaspoon dressing and scatter with some pistachios.

Toss mâche with just enough remaining dressing to coat and gently mound on top of beets. Serve immediately.

Molded beet salad (without mâche) can be assembled 45 minutes ahead and kept, covered, at cool room temperature.

Makes 8 servings.

TOASTED PISTACHIO OIL

Ingredients:

1/2 pound salted Heart of the Desert Pistachios, shelled
1-1/2 cups olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Toast the pistachios for about 4 minutes, or until fragrant.
Let cool. Transfer to a food processor and finely grind.

In a small saucepan, warm the olive oil over moderate heat.

Add the oil to the nuts and process until blended.

Pour into a jar, stir in the salt, and let stand overnight at room temperature.

The oil can be refrigerated for 2 weeks.

Cucumber Dill Salad; Cucumber, Mustard and Dill Salad; Cucumber Dill Sauce

I love cucumbers and dill together. When I was going through my recipes I found that I have 3 different ones that I really love, hence the long title:)

The first recipe is from Gourmet, the rest are made up. I know all of them are basic and easy, but that's exactly what I love about them. They are so versatile, you can serve the sauce with vegetables such as carrots or zucchini, you can accompany the one with mustard with fish or chicken, and eat the other one all by itself:)

Don't forget to use fresh dill and enjoy them all...


CUCUMBER, MUSTARD AND DILL SALAD

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon mild olive oil
1 large seedless cucumber (usually plastic-wrapped; 1 lb), peeled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Directions:
Whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt, and sugar in a bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking. Halve cucumber lengthwise and remove seeds with a small spoon, then cut halves crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Add cucumber and dill to vinaigrette, tossing to coat.

CUCUMBER DILL SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 cucumber, peeled, halved and quartered
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup non-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon dill
pinch cayenne pepper
white pepper to taste

Directions:
Puree the cucumber with the salt in a blender or food processor. Place the cucumber puree in a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients.

CUCUMBER DILL SALAD

Ingredients:

1 medium cucumber, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1 shallot, sliced very thin
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped, fresh dill

Directions:
With a melon baller or a sharp knife, scoop out the seeds in the center of the cucumber. Cut the cucumber into thin slices. Place the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk together until the sugar dissolves. Add the cucumber slices, shallots and dill and stir well.

Tricolor Tomato Fettucine

Another great recipe from Bon Appetit. It is very simple to make and has a great presentation.

Although I love it just as it is, I have created some variations to it, and they all taste great.

Instead of using the tomatoes without cooking, you can roast them in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, until the skins are charred, then take off the skin and chop the tomatoes.

Instead of using fettucine, use angel hair pasta, just make sure you cut the tomatoes into smaller pieces. It becomes a denser pasta dish, which is great in itself.

Add sauteed mushrooms, or add black olives, or add capers, or add feta cheese instead of Parmesan, or add proscuitto and Parmesan. I have tried them all, and all are great.

Serve it with a basic green salad, perhaps using mesclun greens, and a glass of dry white wine, and you will be in heaven:)


TRICOLOR TOMATO FETTUCINE

Ingredients:
2/3 cup olive oil, divided
6 large shallots, thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 pounds red, yellow, and green heirloom tomatoes, seeded, coarsely chopped (about 6 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
12 ounces fettuccine
2 ounces shaved Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Heat 1/3 cup oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; add tomatoes and herbs. Stir until tomatoes are heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain; transfer to bowl. Top with tomato mixture. Drizzle with 1/3 cup oil and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Makes 4 servings.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Basil Risotto


Here is another easy and tasty risotto recipe, especially if you love basil. I've used different recipes from Sunset, Epicurious and Food Network and came up with a risotto that I like.

Risotto always sounds complicated for an inexperienced cook, but it really is very easy to make, you just have to watch it while cooking.

Here are some tips: You must have the broth simmering. You shouldn't add it cold whenever you are making any risotto. Make sure the wine you are adding is also room temperature. I use a pinot grigio I like, feel free to use any white wine you like. Always use wine that you would drink.

If you ladle the broth in instead of adding a cup at a time it will feel like the risotto is cooking faster. Actually it will take about 18 minutes with both methods. I like adding a ladle at a time, which gives me more control. But if you are busy in the kitchen and have to walk away from the risotto a couple of minutes at a time (it happens, who really stirs all the time?), adding a little bit less than a cup should make the cooking easier.

Don't try to use all of the broth, most of the time you will have some left over. Taste the risotto to make sure it is al dente, otherwise you will end up with mush.

I like using shallots, but if you don't have them handy, you can use onions instead. Don't use 2 onions, you need to adjust the amount to about 1 onion. See how much you would like according to your taste.

Arborio rice will always make a better risotto. But you don't have it handy, use a long grained rice. It will almost do the job, but not for the real risotto lovers:)

I serve this with a basic tomato salad, with balsamic and olive oil. It complements the risotto without overpowering it. Enjoy and let me know what you think about the recipe.


BASIL RISOTTO

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/8 cup packed fresh sage leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
5 1/2 cups chicken broth (44 fluid ounces)
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (about 10 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup dry white wine

Directions:
In a 2- to 3-quart pan over high heat, bring broth to a simmer; cover and reduce heat to maintain simmer.

In a food processor mince basil, sage, garlic and 1 teaspoon olive oil until coarsely chopped. Add Parmigiano-Reggiano and whirl until finely ground.

In a 4- to 5-quart heavy kettle cook shallots with 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter, covered, over medium heat, stirring often, until soft but not browned, about 1-2 minutes. Lower heat and add rice and cook, uncovered, stirring, until it begins to turn opaque, about 2-3 minutes.

Increase heat to moderate and add wine. Cook mixture, stirring constantly, until wine is absorbed. Stir in 1 cup simmering broth and cook at a strong simmer, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed.

Continue adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, and cooking mixture at a strong simmer, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, about 18 minutes total.

Remove kettle from heat and stir in herb mixture, 1 tablespoon oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve risotto immediately.

Serves 4

Spinach with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Toasted Parmesan Crumbs

I like spinach when it's not cooked, especially baby spinach, but this recipe just wilts it for about two minutes, which works for me. I actually do that for about 1 minute, so that spinach is still crunchy.

The original recipe is from Bon Appetit. I've made some changes to it. Added some stuff, adjusted some stuff and came up with a recipe that I like. I'm adding this recipe instead of the original one, as the original really needed adjusting.

You will be toasting breadcrumbs with some Parmesan. I use fine Italian breadcrumbs, but if you want more texture you can make your own breadcrumbs by coarsely crumbling fresh breadcrumbs from crustless French bread. Watch them while toasting as it will look like it's not toasting and then all of a sudden end up burning; so it's a fine line between not cooked enough to burnt:)

You are leaving the spinach leaves somewhat wet so that it doesn't dry up while cooking. They will come out more moist.

SPINACH WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES AND TOASTED PARMESAN CRUMBS

Ingredients:

1/3 cup Italian Breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
6 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons thinly sliced drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, patted dry with paper towels

Directions:
Heat medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs; drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over. Stir until breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add Parmesan cheese and toss to blend. Set aside.

Rinse spinach under cold water. Drain slightly, allowing some water to cling to leaves. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and stir 30 seconds.

Add spinach and sun-dried tomatoes; increase heat to high and stir just until spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl.

Sprinkle with toasted Parmesan crumbs.

Makes 4 servings.

Honey-Ginger Pineapple Crepes

Crepes can be good at breakfast, they can be great as dessert, or just for an afternoon snack. They can be sweet or they can be savory. You can roll them, fold them, make them into an envelope shape. It's such a versatile and easy dish to make.

Here are some tips for great crepe making:

You have probably heard about crepe makers, or special crepe pans, but in reality you don't really need it. Any non-stick pan will do. The trick is not to beat the batter too much, if you do, it will become lumpy when it cooks. And keep in mind that the first crepe always goes to trash, it never comes out right.

Always rest the batter for about 15 minutes to let the flour absorb the liquid, they will be tender crepes. But if you are going to keep it around over an hour, cover it with plastic wrap making sure the plastic touches the batter.

Don't flip the crepe more than once, it actually comes off the pan by itself when it is ready, you will see that the sides will be released by itself, then it's about time to flip it.

Don't use butter in the pan, it will make the crepe heavy. Use a little bit of oil for the first crepe, you won't need to keep oiling the pan. Using too much oil makes them stickier. Don't use low heat, medium heat actually is better and faster.

Don't stack them up right off the pan, the heat will generate steam which will make them stick together. Let them cool for a minute on a rack or something similar to that.

You can freeze crepes for future use months at a time, nothing will happen to them. So you can make ahead without problems. Just freeze about 4 crepes at a time so that you have the choice of how many you want to take out. Wrap them in plastic and then use aluminum foil to wrap them again. Don't defrost them using a microwave, they don't take that long to thaw anyway.

This original recipe is from Gourmet. It's different than regular fillings that you find out there and it is really tasty. But I do use other fillings. Here are some ideas: Caramelize bananas, and then add honey and some whipped cream over the crepes, you can even add some nuts over the whipped cream to make it even more decadent, or maybe even chocolate shavings:) I'd better stop, I'm making myself hungry:)

You can saute some spinach and add basic white sauce over the crepe. You can actually use leftover chicken with white sauce. You can add ham and melt cheese in the crepe under a broiler for a crispier crepe etc. I"m sure you will have your own favorite fillings, just drop me a note with your ideas.

My favorite is really an easier one, just add some orange marmalade , sprinkle some powder sugar and add some ice cream next to it. Yummy:)) There is really no end to what you can fill crepes with.

And keep in mind that you can actually use this crepe recipe to use with other fillings, you won't need to change anything no matter what the filling is.

HONEY-GINGER PINEAPPLE CREPES

For crepes:

1/2 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

For pineapple:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
20-oz can unsweetened pineapple chunks, drained well
1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup fresh orange juice

Make batter:
Blend crepe ingredients in a blender. Chill batter while preparing pineapple.

Prepare pineapple:
Heat butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then saute pineapple until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer pineapple to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add ginger to skillet and saute, stirring, 30 seconds.

Add honey and juice and simmer until mixture is syrupy, 3 to 5 minutes.

Make crepes:
While honey mixture is reducing, brush a 10-inch nonstick skillet with oil and heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Holding skillet off heat, pour in 1/4 cup batter, immediately swirling and tilting skillet to create a thin, even layer. Return skillet to heat and cook until crepe is golden around edges and dry in center, about 45 seconds. Flip crepe carefully and cook until golden, about 15 seconds. Transfer to a platter and keep warm, covered. Make more crepes in same manner.

Add pineapple to honey mixture and simmer, stirring, until heated through. Spoon about ‰ cup pineapple mixture over half of 1 crepe, then fold in half. Repeat with remaining crepes. Pour remaining pineapple mixture over folded crepes.

Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Grilled Zucchini with Greek Spices and Feta Cheese Salad

This recipe was originally a side dish, which I have changed into a salad by adding feta cheese and thinly sliced onions. I had found the recipe at Foodfit, so it's a very healthy recipe:) Of course I had to mess with it.

It's very easy to make, and especially delicious if you are outdoors and can use the grill. I don't get a chance that often, so I use my panini maker as a grill, and the recipe still is very tasty and juicy.

If you use the vegetables while they are still warm, the dressing and the cheese seem to taste better, at least to me.

You can add more stuff to it, but this is supposed to be a simple recipe. If you do tweak it, let me know how it turned out.


GRILLED ZUCCHINI WITH GREEK SPICES AND FETA SALAD

Ingredients:

2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound), stem end trimmed off
2 medium yellow squash, or more zucchini (about 1 pound), stem end trimmed off
1-2 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried mint
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
salt and pepper freshly ground, to taste
1-1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup to 1 cup feta cheese.

For Dressing:
1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. If using a vegetable grate, preheat it as well.

Meanwhile, cut the zucchini and squash lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange the slices on a platter and drizzle with the oil, turning the slices several times to coat both sides with oil. Sprinkle the slices on both sides with the garlic, oregano, mint, hot pepper flakes, and lots of salt and pepper. Let marinate for 15 minutes.

Arrange the squash slices on the grate and grill until nicely browned on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes per side.

After the zucchini and squash has been grilled cut into cubes. Add onions and feta cheese.

Mix ingredients of the dressing and pour over salad.

Creole Vegetable Jambalaya

Although I'm not a vegetarian, this is a great vegan recipe that I enjoyed. Usually jambalaya is done with some sort of chicken or seafood such as shrimps, but you don't miss it in this recipe at all. I was watching the food network, and here was Emeril cooking this mouthwatering recipe. When it comes to jambalaya Emeril is the guy:) I had to get the recipe and try it out right away.

This recipe is delicious and healthy. To me it's rice with a kick. A wonderful comfort food. I didn't change anything with this recipe. Served it with butter lettuce topped with tomatoes and it was a hit.

The original recipe is for 8 to 10 servings, so I did tone it down by half, and that worked just fine.


CREOLE VEGETABLE JAMBALAYA

Ingredients:

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 cups small diced onions
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 cups small diced bell peppers
2 cups small diced eggplant
2 cups small diced yellow squash
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 cups chopped tomatoes
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cayenne
3 bay leaves
3 cups long grain rice
6 cups water
1 cup chopped green onions

Directions:
Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions, shallots, bell peppers, eggplant, squash, and garlic and saute until tender about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes. Season with salt and cayenne. Add the bay leaves. Add the rice and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the water, stir and cover. Cook for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed.

Do not stir during this cooking time. Remove from heat and let stand for 2-3 minutes. Add the green onions and mix.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Dark Chocolate Torte with Spiked Blackberry Coulis

This is such a chocolaty decadent desert that I doubt you can eat a whole slice:) It is rich and moist and dense and wonderful. And the coulis really makes this torte out of this world. And the best part is that it is so easy to make.

The original recipe is from Bon Appetit. But there are some small changes that I've made.

I use bittersweet chocolates instead of semisweet just because I like dark chocolate. If I used semisweet, I would use less sugar. I also substituted butter instead of margarine. So the recipe is how I like it; go ahead and change it if you want.

If you don't have or can't find blackberries you can use raspberries just as well for the coulis. I also suggest that you use this coulis with ice cream, it makes a great topping. I actually serve this torte with vanilla ice cream which complements it very nicely.

DARK CHOCOLATE TORTE WITH SPIKED BLACKBERRY COULIS

Ingredients:
2 2/3 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (16 ounces), divided
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, divided
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee powder
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar
Spiked Blackberry Coulis(recipe follows)
Fresh mint sprigs Fresh blackberries (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush 9-inch-diameter spring-form pan with butter; line bottom with parchment. Stir 1 2/3 cups chocolate chips and 3/4 cup butter in medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Whisk in cocoa and espresso. Cool 10 minutes.

Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in large bowl on high speed until thick, about 6 minutes. Fold in chocolate mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake torte until dry and cracked on top and tester inserted into center comes out with some moist batter attached, about 42 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 1 hour (center will fall). Using spatula, press raised edges so top is level. Cut around pan sides; remove sides. Place plate atop torte and invert onto plate. Remove pan bottom; peel off paper, and cool torte completely.

Stir remaining 1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate and 1/4 cup margarine in small saucepan over low heat until smooth (do not overheat). Whisk in 2 tablespoons blackberry coulis. Cool glaze 15 minutes. Pour glaze into center of torte. Smooth top with spatula, allowing some of glaze to drip down sides. Refrigerate uncovered until glaze is set, about 1 hour. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)

Cut torte into wedges; spoon coulis alongside. Garnish with mint and berries, if desired.

Makes 8 servings.


SPIKED BLACKBERRY COULIS

Ingredients:
1 1-pound bag frozen unsweetened blackberries, thawed
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons semi-dry white wine (such as Chenin Blanc)
6 tablespoons (about) sugar, divided
3 whole cloves
2 Turkish bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon brandy (or more if you would like, I use 1 Tablespoon:) )

Directions:
Place berries, wine and 4 tablespoons sugar in blender; puree. Pour into medium saucepan. Add cloves, bay leaves, and allspice. Bring to simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 8 minutes.

Strain into medium bowl. Discard solids in strainer. Whisk in brandy; sweeten with remaining sugar, if desired. (Can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill. Rewhisk before using.)

Makes about 2 cups.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Roasted Red Pepper Salad with Feta Cheese

This recipe is from a Turkish web site called Portakalagaci. The presentation looked so good to me that I had to try it. It takes some time to prepare it, but it's still very easy to make.

I've made some changes to the original recipe which used just some olive oil for the dressing. I always use some balsamic vinegar which makes it tangy. And I have a choice of cheeses that I use. Original recipe is with feta cheese, but goat cheese or Ricotta cheese work just as well.

Feel free to substitute the nuts too, the original is with walnuts, but almonds also give this recipe a nice bite. Or use fresh dill instead of using parsley as in the original recipe. I'm more partial to dill when it comes to using it with cheese, so I usually end up using dill.

These make great leftovers that you can keep around for a day or two.

ROASTED RED PEPPER SALAD WITH FETA CHEESE

Ingredients:

8 Red Peppers (The long kind, not the round ones)
4-5 Scallions
1,5 cups Feta Cheese, grated or crumbled
1 cup walnuts, crushed to medium size pieces
1/2 cup dill, chopped
2 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
Roast the peppers in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes watching them closely so that they don't go limp.

Meanwhile prepare the filling using the cheese, walnuts, and dill.

Boil some water and keep the scallions in it to get them to soften. As soon as they are ready, move them into a cold water bath to stop them from cooking further. Cut them into halves lengthwise.

When peppers are ready, put some filling to the wider end, and roll tightly.

Use the scallions to tie them around the peppers tightly, this will ensure them from becoming undone.

Pour the dressing over and serve.

Crunchy Chili Onion Rings

I love onion rings. It's probably "the worst for you kind of food" you can ever eat, but that's probably why they taste so good:)

The trick to onion rings is to have the oil really hot. If you don't have a thermometer (like I don't), you can test it by dropping an onion in, it should rise to top right away, if it doesn't the oil is not ready. You should also wait for a few seconds before you throw the second batch in to maintain the heat.

It's also a good idea to preheat the oven to about 250 degrees so that you can keep your onions warm. You can't cook large batches of onions, so you will have to cook in batches.

Use sweet onions, the result will always be better.

I've gotten this recipe from Bon Appetit. When I saw that it was different than regular onion rings, I had to try it. I'm so glad I did:)) It is spicier than regular onion rings, if you want you can adjust the seasonings, but I think it is great just as it is. Enjoy...

CRUNCHY CHILI ONION RINGS

Ingredients:
6 cups vegetable oil for deep frying
1 lbs Vidalia onion, peeled cut into 1/3" slices, then separated into rings,
3 cups buttermilk,
2 cups all purpose flour,
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3 Tbs chili powder
2 Tbs ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:
Heat oil in large deep skillet med high 375. Combine onion & buttermilk in large bowl. Mix flour and add remaining dry ingredients in another large bowl. Remove 1/3 onions and add to flour mixture to coat. Add coated rings to oil; fry until golden about 3 minutes. Use tongs to transfer to paper towels.

Makes about 4 servings.

Coconut Flan

If you like flan, this variation with coconut will hit the spot. I have made changes to the original recipe which I have adapted from Bon Appetit among other recipes.

It's easy to prepare and bake flans. But there are some tips you should pay attention to. Sugar crystals will form when making your caramel if you keep stirring once the sugar dissolves, so swirl the pan around instead of stirring to melt the sugar.

If you don't want to use coconut flakes because of texture, use coconut extract and omit the vanilla extract.

Instead of using individual custard cups you can use a bundt cake form. But it will need to cook for 50 min. instead of 30 min. If you overcook flan, it has curdles inside, and if you undercook, the middle will be too liquid, so keep an eye on it. You can tell it is done by inserting a toothpick, if it comes out clean, your flan is cooked.

COCONUT FLAN

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (you can use low-fat)
2/3 cups whole milk
2/3 coconut milk
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
Pinch of lemon zest

Directions:
In a heavy sauce pan over medium heat, add 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup water. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves and becomes clear. Continue cooking and stirring until mixture turns a light golden brown. Immediately pour mixture into flan dishes, dividing mixture evenly, swirling it around to coat the bottom and sides. Let caramel cool. (Drizzle any remaining caramel onto a sheet of parchment or waxed paper in decorative squiggles. Let the squiggles harden and use them as garnish for the flan.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange six 3/4-cup custard cups in 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Whisk the rest of the ingredients except for the flakes in medium bowl to blend. Then mix in the coconut flakes. Divide mixture among cups. Pour enough hot water into pan to come halfway up sides of cups.

Bake flans until just set in center, about 30 minutes. Remove flans from pan and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)

When ready to serve, dip the cans in a saucepan of hot water. run a knife around the outside edge of the flan and using a finger, gently press down the edges of the flan, until the caramel runs up the side, which indicates that it's loosened. Invert each flan onto onto a plate. Break the caramel squiggles into pieces and insert them into the top of each flan.

Serves 6.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Salmon Cooked in Parchment Paper

There are many different ways to cook salmon. One Turkish method is to cook fish in parchment paper. The fish comes out juicy and yummy. If you have never tried this method, give it a try. You can also try it with other fatty fish.

Although this recipe cooks all of the fish together, it looks much better if you present it individually. Just divide ingredients equally, wrap and cook them separately.

Some boiled potatoes make a great accompaniment to this dish.

This one is another one of my mother's recipes. If you do try this, please let me know what you think.


SALMON COOKED IN PARCHMENT PAPER

Ingredients:
3 Tbs Butter
5 Portobello Mushrooms, cut into big pieces
5 Green Peppers, deseeded and cut into thin strips
2 Shallots, chopped
1 bunch Parsley, chopped
½ lbs Tomatoes, cut into cubes
5 Tbs White Wine
½ cup Chicken Stock (If you have Fish Stock, it will make the dish tastier)
5 pcs. (5oz.) Salmon Fillets
3-4 slices of Lemon
2-3 Bay Leafs
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Melt the butter in a pan, when ready add mushrooms, green peppers, shallots and parsley. Sauté for about 2 minutes and then add the tomatoes. Add white wine, lower the heat and cook until tomatoes let go of its juices.

As soon as you see the juice add chicken stock and cook for additional 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Salt and pepper the salmon fillets.

Add the sautéed vegetables, salmon fillets, lemon slices and bay leaves to parchment paper. Close the parchment paper tightly.

Put it on a pan and cook for about 10-15 minutes in the oven. Open the parchment paper and serve hot on heated plates.

Lentil Salad with Tomato and Dill

Lentil were always a favorite in my family when I was growing up. When my father saw lentils, he would do anything my mom asked him to do:)

I've gotten this original recipe from Gourmet, and changed it a little bit. I'll add it below, and just tell you the changes I make. I always add chopped cucumbers, and have no problem substituting the scallions with chopped red onions. I add a pinch of cumin, but don't overdo it, it can be an overpowering taste. Sometimes I add Feta cheese and substitute the red-wine vinegar with balsamic vinegar. I sometimes add butter lettuce to give it a crunchiness, and it does taste great.

You have to use fresh dill, if you don't have it, don't use dried dill, it just won't taste right.

A good tip about lentils is to cook it for about 15 minutes by themselves and then discard the water. It will get rid of most of the gas-sines lentils can create. Then continue cooking, making sure you are adding hot water to the lentils (make sure you don't add cold water). Just add the ingredients at this point.

If I'm in a hurry, I buy ready lentils from Trader Joe's. Those lentils are already cooked and very tasty. You can cook them some more with the garlic or skip the garlic altogether.

LENTIL SALAD WITH TOMATO AND DILL

Ingredients:

1 cup dried lentils (preferably small French lentils)
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 lb tomatoes, diced (2 cups)
4 large scallions, thinly sliced (3/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar, or to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan with lentils, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are just tender, 15 to 25 minutes.

Drain in a large sieve, then transfer to a large bowl. Toss hot lentils with tomatoes, scallions, dill, basil, vinegar, oil, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste.

Makes 4 to 6 side-dish servings.

Old-Fashioned New York Style Cheesecake with Berry Coulis

This is the tastiest cheesecake recipe I have ever tried. It's from Emeril and is creamy with a lot of substance to it. Although the recipe has a raspberry sauce on it, don't limit yourself with it. I have used melted chocolate on it, with some fresh strawberries, and a little bit of whipped cream. Can you picture it? Yummy, isn't it?:))

One of the reasons I like this cake is because it uses a basic graham cracker crust, which you can use for other cakes. I don't have the time to deal with dough, and to tell you the truth, I have never tried it. It has always scared me to get into it. So I try to choose cakes where I don't have to deal with making dough. And cheesecake foots the bill:)

When you are covering the cake with foil, be careful that it doesn't touch the top of the cake, otherwise it will stick to it. And you can't skip using it, otherwise the top of the cake will be too brown.

Add a lot of water to the bath, it will be cooking for a long time, and you don't want it to dry out.

When you remove it from the oven, run a wet knife around the edges to be sure it didn't stick to the sides and cause a crack when cooling.

Enjoy:)

OLD-FASHIONED NEW YORK STYLE CHEESECAKE WITH BERRY COULIS

Ingredients:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, plus 1 1/2 cups
2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
1 lemon, zested
1 orange, zested
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sour cream
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from inside of pod and reserved
1 teaspoon bourbon
Raspberry Coulis, recipe follows

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. In a mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, and 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and mix well. Press onto bottom of springform pan and bake until golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

When completely cooled, butter the sides of the pan. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, 1 1/2 cups sugar, zests, and vanilla and beat until light and creamy. Add the flour, then the eggs and yolks 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the sour cream, vanilla bean seeds, and bourbon and mix until smooth.

Pour mixture into prepared pan. Wrap the pan in foil and place in a roasting pan. Fill the roasting with enough hot water to come half way up the sides of the pan. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Transfer cake to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Refrigerate cake overnight before serving. Serve with raspberry coulis.

For the Coulis:

Ingredients:
2 pints fresh raspberries (may substitute blackberries)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
Few drops lemon juice

Directions:
Combine raspberries, sugar, water, and orange zest and cook until berries are soft and liquid is syrupy, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly then puree in a blender. Strain through a fine sieve, transfer to a bowl, and refrigerate, covered, until completely chilled. Stir in Grand Marnier and lemon juice.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lady's Thigh Meatballs - Kadinbudu Kofte

There is a very distinctive meatball that's prepared in Turkey. I don't know why it's called a Lady's Thigh, but ignore the name and try these. You won't believe how tasty they are. It's not difficult to make and you can prepare them a day ahead.

There are a lot of recipes out there, but I'm using my mom's recipe. (of course:)) )

The traditional recipe uses lamb, but I use ground beef. I also use vegetable oil to fry, but it can also be cooked in sunflower oil.

You need to watch them while cooking as they will cook rather fast. They are dipped in flour and eggs, but you won't be using any breadcrumbs.

LADY'S THIGH MEATBALLS - KADINBUDU KOFTE

Ingredients:
1 lbs. Ground Lamb or Beef
1 Onion, chopped
3 Tbs uncooked Rice
2 Tbs Flour
3 Tbs Butter
4 Eggs
1/4 bunch Parsley, chopped
2 tsp Cumin
3/4 cup Vegetable Oil (to fry)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Saute the chopped onions and 1/2 of the ground beef with 2 Tbs butter. Boil the rice until soft, drain and allow to cool.

Remove meat from heat, wait until it cools down (otherwise you will be making an omlette with the eggs:), and burning your hands). When it's cool enought to handle add the rest of the ground meat, the cooked rice, chopped parsley, cumin, salt, black pepper, and 2 eggs and knead well. Take egg-sized pieces of the mixture and form into oval shapes.

Beat the remaining 2 eggs in a bowl. Coat the meatballs with flour and then with the eggs. Fry them over medium heat until golden. Don't let them overcook as it will keep cooking even after you take them out of the pan. Pat them with paper towels to take off excess oil.

Roasted Potato Wedges with Rosemary Butter

This one is a very basic but very tasty recipe. If you follow it exactly the potatoes will come out with a crunchy exterior and a soft interior, which is just perfect.

There isn't much you should change with this recipe, it is just perfect as it is. Using fresh rosemary is the key, but they do come out ok if you have to used dried.

I like these potatoes so much that I use less potatoes than the recipe asks for, otherwise I can eat the whole thing. But I keep the butter and rosemary amount the same:

This recipe is from Gourmet, which for some reason makes me think of red wine. Can't you just taste them together?:) Enjoy!!!

ROASTED POTATO WEDGES WITH ROSEMARY BUTTER

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lb russet (baking) potatoes (preferably organic; about 4 medium)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

Directions:
Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 500°F. Oil bottom of a shallow baking pan (15 by 10 by 1 inch) with 1/2 tablespoon oil. Cut each potato lengthwise into 8 wedges and toss with salt, pepper, and remaining tablespoon oil in a large bowl. Arrange potato wedges, flat sides down, in baking pan, then cover pan tightly with foil and roast 10 minutes. Remove foil and roast 10 minutes more. Loosen potatoes with a metal spatula, then turn over onto other flat sides and roast until tender and golden, about 10 minutes.

While potatoes roast, melt butter with rosemary in a small saucepan over moderately low heat. Loosen potatoes with spatula, then transfer to a serving dish or plates and spoon rosemary butter over them.

Makes 4 servings.

Eggplant, Zucchini, Onion, Tomato and Goat Cheese Napoleons

I have actually blended different recipes and came up with a napoleon recipe that I love. Some ideas are from Emeril, and some are from Gourmet magazine.

You can make changes to the vegetables according to which ones you like, omitting or adding (for example portobello mushrooms). You can use feta cheese instead of goat cheese, or use both. And although there are directions on how to stack the napoleons, feel free to change them any way you like.

Their presentation is great, which can be great if you have company. They look like you have put in a lot of time, although it is really easy and fast to make. You'd make your vegetarian friends happy too:)

EGGPLANT, ZUCCHINI, ONION, TOMATO AND GOAT CHEESE NAPOLEONS

Ingredients:
1 lbs eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
1 lbs zucchini,cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
3 large tomatoes, stems removed, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
2 medium red onions, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
2 tablespoons chiffonade fresh basil leaves
Pesto Oil, recipe follows

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Toss the eggplant, zucchini and the onion with 6 tablespoons of the olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to coat. Place on a baking sheet in 1 layer and bake for 15 minutes, turning once. Transfer vegetables as roasted to a tray, arranging them in one layer.

Roast remaining vegetables in same manner. Vegetables may be roasted 1 day ahead, cooled completely, and chilled, layered between sheets of plastic wrap on trays and covered. Bring vegetables to room temperature before proceeding.

In a small bowl combine the cheese, basil, and remaining tablespoon olive oil. Place 1 eggplant slice on a salad plate. Top with 1 tablespoon of the cheese, then 2 slices of zucchini, then 1 onion slice topped with 1 slice of tomato. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of pesto oil over the tomato, then another tablespoon of cheese. Top with another eggplant slice, drizzle with pesto oil. Make more napoleons using remaining vegetables and cheese. Serve at room temperature.

Pesto Oil:
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a food processor or blender place the garlic and basil and process on high while adding the olive oil in a steady stream. Continue to process until well-blended, season with salt to taste.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Double Chocolate Orange Pudding

This is a recipe that I have made up trying different recipes for chocolate pudding. It's very easy to make, and it is fast. You'll see that using boxed mixes etc is really not worth it:)

I don't like the vanilla taste too much, so I used Grand Marnier to get an orange flavor, but if you prefer substitute it with vanilla, and don't use orange zest gratings.

It's also great if you serve it accompanying your favorite berries. I love strawberries so I always add a couple next to the pudding. Go crazy with whipped cream on top, maybe with chocolate shavings too:))

I love dark chocolate so I use bittersweet chocolate, but you can use semi-sweet chocolate if you would like. Milk chocolate doesn't really work with these measurements.

You can adjust the thickness of this pudding by changing the cornstarch amount. The original recipe used 3 Tablespoons, but it was too thick for me. It was almost like a filling for a cake. If you prefer it, just adjust the cornstarch, you don't need to adjust any other measurements.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ORANGE PUDDING

Ingredients:

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1,5 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups light cream
3 ounces chopped bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
Pinch of orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons Grand Marnier

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt.

Gradually whisk in 1 cup of the cream until smooth, then whisk in the remaining 1 cup cream. Set the pan over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil, about 5 minutes. Continue to whisk and boil for 1 minute.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate, orange zest and Grand Marnier. Let stand for 5 minutes until the chocolate is melted, then stir gently until the pudding is smooth. (Do not stir too much or the pudding might thin out.)

Divide the pudding among 6 small dessert dishes. Let cool for about 20 minutes to serve warm and soft, or chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.

Sliced Steak with Arugula

For dinner in a hurry, this one is a great recipe. I actually use it a lot when I'm dieting:) (It's low carb.) Just use less olive oil. Can you think of a healthier and tastier diet recipe?:)

According to Gourmet magazine this recipe is used in Italian bistros. I can see why it can be served in a restaurant. This one is a very versatile recipe, you can make so many changes to it with some additions or changes and it will still taste great.

Here are some ideas: If you feel like it, go ahead and add goat cheese. You can also make it a fresher tasting salad by adding some lemon (but keep the vinegar if you are using arugula).

If you don't have shallots handy, you can use onions. If you don't have arugula handy, you can use baby spinach. You can add some tomato slices with Parmesan. You can saute mushrooms and add to the steak, and then add it to the salad. You can even grab your favorite bread and make this salad into a sandwich. Not bad for a basic salad:)

SLICED STEAK WITH ARUGULA

Ingredients:

5 oz baby arugula
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
1 lb boneless top loin steak or sirloin (1 inch thick)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 large shallot, thinly sliced crosswise
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
Garnish: freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Mound arugula on a large platter.

Heat oil with garlic and rosemary in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat, turning garlic once or twice, until garlic is golden, about 4 minutes. Discard garlic and rosemary.

Meanwhile, cut steak crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and toss with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add meat to skillet all at once and sauté over high heat, tossing with tongs to color evenly, about 1 minute for medium-rare.

Arrange steak over arugula using tongs, then add shallot to oil in skillet along with vinegars and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and boil 2 minutes.

Pour dressing over steak and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Spaghetti Carbonara

I love Carbonara if it's done right. It's a heavy dish and it should definitely not be eaten in large amounts. But it is so yummy that it's almost impossible to stop yourself:)

I have been looking for a easy but tasty carbonara for some time, and eventually I ran into Rachel Ray's recipe. It is a true recipe in the Italian comfort food style.

There are other recipes out there that also adds sauteed zucchini, or asparagus, or mushrooms. Feel free to taste them. You just have to saute them in the pan juices after you take off the pancetta. After you're done sauteing the vegetable, just take it off the pan and set it aside to add to the pasta later.

SPAGHETTI CARBONARA

Ingredients:
1 pound pasta, such as spaghetti or rigatoni
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pan)
1/4 pound pancetta (Italian bacon), chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
5 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 large egg yolks
Freshly grated Romano cheese
Handful of finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
Put a large pot of water on to boil. Add a liberal amount of salt and the pasta. Cook to al dente, about 8 minutes. Don't throw away all of the pasta water as you will be using some of it later.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and pancetta. Brown pancetta 2 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add wine and stir up all the pan drippings.

In a separate bowl, beat yolks, then add 1 large ladleful (about 1/2 cup) of the pasta cooking water. This tempers the eggs and keeps them from scrambling when added to the pasta.

Drain pasta well and add it directly to the skillet with pancetta and oil. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta. Toss rapidly to coat the pasta without cooking the egg.

Remove pan from heat and add a big handful of cheese, lots of pepper, and a little salt. Continue to toss and turn the pasta until it soaks up egg mixture and thickens, 1 to 2 minutes.

Garnish with parsley and extra grated Romano.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Herbed Lamb Chops with Pinot Noir Sauce

Who says you must have turkey for a Thanksgiving dinner. Actually I really don't even like turkey. Besides Thanksgiving shouldn't be about turkey, it should be about family coming together. And it shouldn't be about spending all of your time in the kitchen.

So I'm adding my basic alternative menu for Thanksgiving where lamb is the main dish. Then there is a delicious stuffing that works as a side dish, and a wonderful vegetable side dish. You can add a basic roasted potato next to them and have a complete menu.

I hope you enjoy them all:)

As for this recipe, it is from Bon Appetit. Very easy to make, although it seems complicated when you read it first. It really isn't.

If you can't find lamb riblets or stew meat, you can use low sodium beef broth.

This is one of those recipes that I haven't changed a thing:)

HERBED LAMB CHOPS WITH PINOT NOIR SAUCE

For Sauce:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 pounds lamb neck stew meat or lamb riblets
1 pound onions, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence (I'm adding the recipe for it at the bottom)
4 1/3 cups Pinot Noir or other dry red wine
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons all purpose flour

For Lamb:
1 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 1 1/2-pound well-trimmed 8-rib racks of lamb, preferably frenched

Directions:
For sauce:

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add lamb and sauté until deep brown, turning occasionally, about 18 minutes. Using tongs, transfer lamb to bowl.

Add onions, carrot, garlic, and herbes de Provence to pot. Sauté until vegetables are deep brown, about 8 minutes. Add wine and broth to pot; return lamb and any accumulated juices to pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer uncovered 1 1/2 hours.

Strain into large bowl, pressing on solids in strainer to release all stock. Spoon off any fat from surface of stock; return stock to same large pot. Simmer until reduced to 1 1/3 cups, about 15 minutes.

Mix butter and flour in small bowl to smooth paste.Whisk paste into stock. Simmer sauce until slightly thickened and smooth, whisking constantly, about 1 minute longer. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Transfer to small saucepan, cover, and chill. Rewarm before using.)

For lamb:
Stir fresh herbs and pepper in medium bowl to blend. Add 2 tablespoons oil and mix until herbs are sticking together. Sprinkle lamb racks with salt. Firmly press 1/3 of herb mixture over rounded side of each rack to cover. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Place on large rimmed baking sheet. Cover; chill.)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 lamb rack to skillet, herbed side down. Sauté until browned, about 4 minutes. Turn rack over and sauté until browned, about 3 minutes. Place rack, herbed side up, on rimmed baking sheet. Repeat, fitting remaining racks on same sheet.

Roast lamb until thermometer inserted into center registers 135°F for medium-rare, about 25 minutes.

Let lamb rest on sheet 15 to 20 minutes. Cut lamb between bones into individual chops. Arrange 3 chops on each plate. Drizzle with sauce and serve.

Makes 8 servings

HERBS DE PROVENCE

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp dried marjoram
3 Tbsp dried thyme
3 Tbsp dried savory
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp fennel seeds

Directions:
Combine all ingredients. Mix well and spoon into a tightly-lidded jar. Store in a cool, dark place up to four months. Use to season chicken, vegetables or meat.

Yield: 3/4 cup

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