Friday, December 30, 2011

Fig and Pear Strudel

Not only does Santa not bring Broccoli-Rab, he doesn't bring Figs either. Not fresh ones anyway. I'd been planning on making a fresh Fig and Pear strudel for Christmas dessert, but alas. So I settled on dried figs, and changed my tactics a little bit. The results?
Freakin delicious.

Fig and Pear Strudel
- 3/4 lb dried Mission Figs, slice thin
- 5 ripe pears, peeled and cubed
- 1/4 c brandy
- 1/4 maple syrup
- 10 sheets Phyllo Dough
- 3/4 c bread crumbs
- 1/3 c sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon

Toss figs and pears in brandy and maple syrup, and set aside to marinate and soften for at least 2 hours.
When ready to make and bake; Preheat oven to 350. Mix breadcrumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside. Lay a clean towel on the counter and then a single sheet of Phyllo - brush with melted butter, sprinkle evenly with breadcrumb mixture, then top with another Phyllo layer, and repeat. Do this four times, until you lay on the 5th Phyllo sheet. Leaving a one inch margin on the left, spoon out figs/pears in a 3 inch wide strip, then starting from the left side, roll up the strudel, rolling gently but tight. Put on a greased cookie sheet, and brush with melted butter and a sprinkle of sugar.
Repeat this process for the second strudel.
These can be made ahead of time and baked right before you are ready. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown and flaky. Let sit for 5 minutes, then cut into 2 inch pieces with a serrated knife.
Serve warm with whipped cream.

Baby Broccoli Salad

This was supposed to be a Broccoli-Rab dish for a Christmas party, but apparently Santa does not bring Broccoli-Rab to the produce section of any of my local grocers.
He does, however, bring Baby Broccoli (not sure what the difference is). Or someone does...
Anyway, this was really simple, and came out freakin awesome.
This is a good, solid side that will complement almost anything, from fish to meat to itself. It's that good.

Baby Broccoli Salad

- 2 bunches Baby Broccoli
- 4 cloves Garlic, sliced thin
- 1 small Red Onion, sliced thin
- 1/2 bag Sun Dried Tomatoes, julienned
- 1/3 c White Wine
- Oregano, Basil, Black Pepper, Sea Salt

Steam Baby Broccoli til just tender - set aside. In a pan, saute onions until beginning to soften, add garlic, saute for a minute or two, and then add in the rest of your ingredients. Let simmer for a minute, then add the steamed Broccoli, tossing to coat, and then transfer to a dish. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Curry Dusted Seabass, Beet Puree

Last night I made an amazing dinner. It all came together, and was one of those well-rounded meals you can just pat yourself on the back for.
This was another one of those meals that just popped into my head; golden curry-fried chilean seabass over a mound of garlic spinach, topped with beet puree, with a side of sun-dried tomato polenta. I thought that the savoriness of the fish would be complemented by the salty-spinach and the sweet-earthiness of the beet. And damn was I right...
This $H!T was INCREDIBLE! Golden curry-fried seabass over a mound of garlic spinach. top that with an earthy beet puree.
Slice some pre-cooked store-bought polenta, fry, and serve alongside.

Curry-Dusted Seabass
- 3 servings Chilean Seabass
- 3 tbsp Curry Powder
- 1 tbsp Tuermeric
- 1 tbsp Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 tsp White Pepper
- Salt
- 3 small roasted beets
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
Puree beets with the red wine vinegar, set aside.
Sprinkle fish with salt. Mix spices with the flour and rub fish generously on each side, like a spice rub.
Heat a griddle till hot. Coat with cooking spray. Cook fish on one side until almost cooked through (will be firm and white). Flip and cook for 1 minute until crisped on second side.
Serve ontop of Garlic Spinach, topped with beet puree, with a side of fried polenta.
Enjoy with a deep red wine.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rainbow Cookie Cake

I don't know if any of you have ever had or heard of Rainbow Cookies, but I have, and so has my sister. We grew up in New York, and the chocolate covered, tri-color and jam-sweetened cookies were a favorite treat of ours from the Italian bakery.
So, when I was thinking of what I could give her for her 21st birthday, this popped into my mind, and I knew right away that she would love it!Actually she's not much of a chocolate person, nor a dessert person for that matter, so I ended up eating her piece and mine, so you can trust me when I tell you; this cake doesn't just look good; it tastes great! Just like those cookies I used to love...just bigger!
- 3 sticks butter, softened
- 1 1/2 c sugar
- 6 eggs
- 12 oz almond paste, grated
- 1 tbspn almond extract
- 3 c flour, sifted
- 3 tspn baking powder
- red, green, yellow food coloring
- 1/4 c raspberry jam
- 1/4 c apricot preserves
For the ganache:
- 1 c light cream
- 12 oz semisweet chocolate

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy; about 5 minutes. Add in eggs and beat until smooth. Next add in grated almond paste and extract and beat until well combined; about 3 minutes.
In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients, and then add gradually to the wet mixture.
Divide the mixture among 3 bowls, and dye with the respective colors. Pour into cake pans and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile, heat cream in a small sauce-pan until just about to boil and then pour it over the broken up chocolate, stirring constantly until completely smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Spread the red layer with the raspberry jam, top with the yellow layer, spread that with the apricot jam, and then top with the green layer. Pour on the ganache and spread it all over, and decorate at will. Let the cake sit outside (if it's cool) or in the fridge until the ganache sets before serving. Slice it up and enjoy!

Creole Shrimp and Creamed Corn

This was one of those dishes that had it all. The spiciness of the Old Bay shrimp, the sweetness of the creamed corn, the savoriness of the sherried mushrooms and red onion. Garnished with fresh cilantro, it all came together deliciously and was easy as hell to make.

Creole Shrimp and Creamed Corn

- 1/3 lb peeled shrimp
- Old Bay seasoning
- 1/2 can Creamed Corn
- 1/4 red onion, sliced
- 3 white mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 c sherry
- fresh cilantro, chopped

Chop shrimp and toss with Old Bay till completely coated. Saute onions and mushrooms until soft, add in sherry, and cook until liquid is absorbed. Set aside. Cook creamed corn until hot, and meanwhile saute shrimp until pink and cooked through. Spoon creamed corn onto a plate, top with the sherried mushrooms/onions and then the Creole Shrimp and garnish with the chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Curry-Raisin Chicken

I'm going to start off with telling you to buy Curry Paste. Curry Powder is good and all, but has nothing close to the depth of flavor in the paste, and this dish would've been a whole lot tastier with it. So, although I used the powder, I'm going to pretend that I had/used the paste.
I was inspired by the Indian tandoori idea of marinating meat in spiced yogurt to keep it moist, but decided to go with coconut milk instead. I mixed curry paste and coconut milk and let the chicken sit in it all day. In the late afternoon it occurred to me that raisins would be a nice complement to the spicy curry paste, so I threw those in too.Later I cooked it all up with some steamed broccoli and served it over rice and it was awesome. Only thing missing was a little onion chutney.

Curry Raisin Chicken

(serves 2)
- 5 chicken tenders
- 1/3 c coconut milk
- 2 tbsp yellow curry paste
- 1/2 tsp each cumin, garlic powder
- 1/4 c raisins
- 1/2 white onion, sliced
- 1 c steamed broccoli
- 1 c steamed rice

Mix coconut milk, curry paste and spices. Pour over the chicken, add the raisins, and let marinate in the fridge for many hours. When ready to eat, cook rice and steam broccoli, and in a small frying pan saute onions, then add the chicken (cut into cubes) and then pour in the coconut milk marinade and the raisins. Season with extra curry powder if desired and cook until chicken is cooked through and hot. Serve over rice WITH ONION CHUTNEY

Cheese "Burger" Pasta

This is an easy, cheesy, healthy vegetarian meal that you will like, no matter who you are. The flavors are all there. The cheese, the veggie sausage, the sweet peas... top it off with some ketchup and dig on in.


- 1/2 pckg Shiritake Noodles
- 2 slices American or Cheddar Cheese
- 1/8 c milk
- 1/4 Sweet Onion, sliced thin
- 1/4 c Sweet Peas (frozen)
- 1/3 tube GimmeLean Veggie Sausage
- Smoked Paprika for garnish

Fry sliced sausage until crispy on each side. Cut into quarters and set aside. Saute onion until soft, add in noodles, then cheese, then milk, stirring constantly to combine. Stir in peas, reduce heat, and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Fold in the veggie sausage, scoop into a bowl, sprinkle with smoked paprika and drizzle with ketchup.
You won't even feel like you're eating vegetarian.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Honey-Curry Carrots

Honey-Curry Carrots
- 1/2 bag baby carrots
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- fresh cilantro, chopped

In a frying pan, melt butter and then add carrots. When carrots have begun to soften, squeeze in the honey, season with the curry powder, and cook to desired doneness. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

ChickenBaba Wraps

This was a meal in parts. I had homemade babaganoush and pita, made by a friend. I had carrots and a thawed-out chicken breast in the fridge. A bunch of cilantro about to get old. It all sort of came together...
I mixed up a cumin-yogurt marinade and let the chicken sit in it all day, then grilled it, shredded it, and rolled it up in a Pita with Babaganoush, chopped pickles and sauteed onions, and it was THE shit... and actually pretty easy to whip up when you think about it.
ChickenBaba Wraps
- chicken breast
- 1/4 c yogurt
- 1/4 c sour cream
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- juice of a half lime
- 1/4 c salty pickles, chopped
- 1/4 red onion, sliced thin
- 1/8 c sherry
- 2 pita wraps

Mix sour cream, yogurt, cumin, paprika and lime, then pour over chicken in a ziplock bag and let it marinate for as long as possible during the day (even over night). Wipe marinade from Chicken and grill on either side until cooked through. Let chicken cool, meanwhile saute onions until soft, add sherry, and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the onions are beginning to caramelize. Spread babaganoush on each of the pitas, and then divide the rest of the ingredients between the two.
I served this with honey-curry carrots with cilantro.