Saturday, September 27, 2008

Basic Bread

We woke up this morning, hungry for eggs and toast, only to realize that we were out of bread. So while I made split pea soup and gardened, I baked some basic loaf bread. Like usual, this recipe yields 2 loaves.

Basic Bread

1 tbsp dry active yeast
2 1/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp salt
6-7 cups all-purpose flour (I used 2 cups whole-wheat and the remainder all-purpose)

In a large bowl, combine yeast and water, stirring until yeast is dissolved. Add in sugar and salt, let rest 5 minutes.

Gradually add in flour, stirring until dough forms a ball and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto floured surface and knead 8-10 minutes, adding flour as needed, until dough is elastic. Dough should be tacky but not sticky.

Coat a large bowl with spray oil. Add dough, turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, dry place until dough is doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Coat 2 loaf pans in spray oil. Divide dough in half and add in pan. Let rest about 10 minutes, then place in cold oven and bake at 400F for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove loaf pans from oven and let cool.

Split Pea Soup

Growing up one of the few things my dad did in the kitchen was make soup. The two he made most often were Chicken Noodle - which is awesome! homemade noodles! - and Split Pea Soup. The latter made me gag. I'd have to vacate the house when he was making it because just the smell made me nauseous. I refused to eat it. When I met The Spouse, this was a food dislike we had in common, so it didn't cause any issues.

Fast forward to last winter. Strange events led us to being at my sister's house unexpectedly. She invited us to stay for dinner. When asked what they were having, she replied "Pea Soup."

The Spouse pulled a face as I looked at the non-stinky stock pot bubbling away on the stove. "Is that Dad's recipe? Cause I've never been a fan."

"God, no. Here, try it."

I took a tentative taste and my eyes widened. "Honey, try this!" The Spouse took a small mouthful and said "It doesn't suck! In fact, it tastes really good!"

The problem is, my sister is much like me - she cooks off the cuff and doesn't really write anything down. She gave me a vague idea of what had gone in the soup. I've been dying to try my hand at it since then and today I finally got a chance. I don't know if it's identical to what she did but it was still damn tasty!

Split Pea Soup

2 cups split peas, rinsed
1 quart beef broth
1 ham shank
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
dry vermouth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp marjoram
1 bay leaf
a pinch of lavender

Place the rinsed split peas in a stock pot and cover them with about 1 1/2 quart of water. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes, then let sit for 1 hour (or soak them overnight). Add in the 1 quart of beef broth and the ham shank. Turn heat on and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add in about 1 tbsp olive oil and heat thru. Add in onion, celery and carrots and sautee about 1 minute. Add in dry vermouth (about 1/4 cup) and continue sauteeing until onion begins to soften (about 3 minutes). Add vegetable mix to stock pot and stir. Add in spices and a dash more vermouth. Let soup simmer another 15 minutes.

Remove ham shank from pot, remove meat from the bone. Butcher the meat (remove the skin, tendons, and chop up) and add back to pot. Simmer another 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Eggplant Lasagna

The Spouse has been waiting for this meal all summer. Our eggplants were a little slow to get going but now they're ready for harvest. We planted "Hansel" eggplants, which are smaller than your average globe eggplant. The downside is it takes more of them to make a meal, the upside is the seeds are negligible to the point of being non-existent.

I used the convection setting on our oven to speed the baking time a bit.

Eggplant Lasagna

6 'Hansel' Eggplant, peeled and cut on the bias (you could also substitute 2 Japanese eggplant or 1 globe eggplant)
1 cup bread or corn crumbs
2 tsp Italian Seasoning (or use a mixture of oregano and basil)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

9 lasagna noodles (either no-boil or cook to package directions)
20 oz marinara sauce (I used my homemade red-wine marinara)
1 container cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 tsp Italian Seasoning (or mix oregano and basil)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat convection oven to 450ºF. Combine bread crumbs, seasoning, salt and pepper. Spray the eggplant slices with cooking spray and coat in the crumbs (set aside leftover crumbs). Layer on a baking sheet and bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 375ºF. Set eggplant aside to cool slightly.

Combine cottage cheese (or ricotta) with egg, seasoning, 1 cup mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

In a 9x13 dish, add 1 cup of sauce to bottom of the dish. Layer 3 noodles along the bottom. Add half of the cottage cheese mixture on top of the noodles. Layer the eggplant on top. Add a 1/3 cup of the remaining mozzarella in a think layer. Top with 1 cup sauce. Repeat layers - noodles, cottage cheese, eggplant, cheese, sauce. Top with the last 3 noodles, remaining sauce, and remaining 1/3 cup of cheese. Sprinkle top with the leftover breadcrumbs, if desired. Bake at 375ºF for 20 minutes or until cheese golden brown and lasagna is bubbly. Let set 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Italian Turkey Burgers

We have had a package of italian-spiced ground turkey in the freezer for a while. The Spouse wanted to use it for eggplant lasagna, but then decided that he'd rather that be vegetarian. So I suggested turning it into burgers instead. We used english muffin bread instead of buns, which provided a nice crunch. And I had some tomato-basil cheese on hand to add a nice zing.

Italian Turkey Burgers

1 lb italian-spiced ground turkey
1/4 cup kalamata olives
garlic powder
balsamic vinegar
1 red onion, sliced

Finely diced kalamata olives in a food processor. Fold into ground turkey, along with garlic powder and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Form into paties.

Grill paties and onions over medium-high heat until done (about 10 minutes). Add cheese if desired and let melt. Toast buns/bread during the last half of cooking. Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Buffalo Chicken Calzones

I've blogged this one before but this is a slightly different rendition. The whole wheat pizza dough was a godsend find from Amber's Delectable Delights. I had just planned on picking up a pillsbury dough thing at the store but couldn't find any. This wonderful whole-wheat dough is ready in 30 minutes (mixing and resting time combined) and is going to be a staple in my kitchen. I only used half the dough from the 1 lb version and made one big calzone. I served this with Braised Swiss Chard fresh from the garden.

Buffalo Chicken Calzones

2 packages Tyson diced chicken breasts
leftover blue cheese & bacon mix from Cheesy Chicken Breasts
Frank's Hot Sauce
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
whole-wheat pizza dough

Prep the pizza dough. While dough is resting, place pizza stone in oven and preheat oven to 400F. Place chicken breast bits in a large bowl and add enough Frank's Hot sauce to coat (maybe 1/4 cup). Stir in blue cheese & bacon mixture. Set aside.

Divide dough in half and set half aside (freeze or refrigerate for later use). Roll out the remaining half into a 13" dough. Place chicken mixture on half of the dough. Top with cheddar & mozarella cheese. Carefully fold the remaining half of dough over, rolling the bottom over to seal the seam. Place on pizza stone and bake at 400F for 15 minutes or until done. Remove stone from oven and let rest 5 minutes. Cut calzone into servings and serve immediately.

Braised Swiss Chard

We have two massive chard plants in our garden that have been a delight to eat all summer long. Here's one great way to prep it.

Braised Swiss Chard

1 tbsp EVOO
1 shallot, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1 bunch swiss chard
salt and pepper

Heat skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil to pan and swirl to coat. Sautee shallot and garlic until lightly browned. Add chard to pan, stir, and cover. Stir occasionally until chard is done, about 5 minutes. Lightly season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oven Fried Cheesy Chicken Breasts with a Pecan Crust

I'm not sure why but the other day we were watching Emeril Live and he was doing a show on chicken. This was one of the recipes on there. I made a few tweaks to the recipe based on what I had on hand...and stuff I missed in the recipe!

Oven Fried Cheesy Chicken Breasts with a Pecan Crust

4 slices turkey bacon
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
5 oz crumbled blue cheese
Emeril's Essence
1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 1/2 cups corn crumbs
2/3 cups finely chopped pecans
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400F. Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil and spray foil with cooking spray.

Cut a deep pocket into the middle of each chicken breast half. Divide the cheese and crumbled bacon evenly among the caveties. Season the chicken evenly on both sides with the Essence. In a small bowl, combine the honey and mustard and whisk together. In a shallow dish combine the corn crumbs and pecans and stir well. Brush both sides of each piece of chicken with the honey mixture, then dredge in the cornflake mixture. Place the chicken breasts on the prepared baking sheet and bake 18 to 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately

Wine pairing: We paired this with a RED wine! Just because it's chicken doesn't mean you should have white - the blue cheese pushes the balance to a deliciously juicy Zinfandel. We had one from one we get from our private wine retailer but a good "grocery store" wine would be Gnarly Head.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Caesar Salad with Croutons

This is a first for me, making caesar salad dressing and croutons from scratch. But it was easier than I thought - and tasty! The recipe came from my Wine Lover's Cookbook, though, per usual, I didn't exactly follow directions (see asterisked notes). We paired it with some leftover Tomato Basil Soup and a bottle of unoaked Chardonnay.

Sid's Caesar Salad

7 anchovy fillets
1/3 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 tbsp roasted garlic
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 slices sourdough or other hearty French or Italian bread 2
1 egg
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 tsp minced lemon zest 3
1/8 tsp Tabasco or other hot sauce
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 3/4 lbs romaine lettuce, cut into bite-sized pieces

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a food processor, combine anchovies, pepper, roasted garlic, and olive oil and process for 1 minute until smooth. Add grated Parmesan and process for 30 seconds. Remove 3 tbsp of dressing. 4

Using a brush, spread mixture evenly on both sides of sliced bread. Bake for 20 minutes or until a nice crust develops. Do not burn. Break or cut toast into bite-sized pieces.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan filled more than halfway with water, bring water to a boil. Place a refrigerated egg into water and boil for 1 minute and 15 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and cool.

Place anchovy-olive oil mixture in a large, nonreactive bowl and add remaining ingredients. Spoon entire egg carefully out of shell and add to the mixture. Whisk thoroughly and refrigerate until ready to toss salad.

To serve, place cold romaine in a large salad bowl. Whisk dressing thoroughly and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add to salad and toss vigorously. Add croutons and continue tossing to coat croutons. Serve on well-chilled salad plates.

Wine Pairing: The book actually recommends a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio for this meal. We didn't have either on hand, but we did have an unoaked Chardonnay, which paired brilliantly

1. I measured out 1/3 cup and then added olive oil as needed to make a loose paste. I think, overall, I used maybe 1/2 cup.
2. I used homemade English Muffin bread. Just as tasty.
3. I didn't add lemon zest
4. I actually didn't separate the 3 tbsp. Instead I liberally brushed the mixture onto the bread and used the remainder, which may or may not have been 3 tbsp.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup & Grilled Cheese Paninis

I saw this recipe on another blog and thought "I have fresh tomatoes! I have fresh basil! I even have fresh onions!" and decided it would make a good early fall dinner.

I did change a few things. For starters, I didn't use 4 cups of basil. My poor basil plant got kind of shocked by a rather cold night on Monday (I've been bringing it in at night now), so I only picked as much as I dared. Maybe 2 cups. I also don't have a kitchen scale, so I estimated at what 3 lbs of tomatoes were (I figured each tomato was 1/4 lb, some smaller, so used about 16 tomatoes).

This recipe has convinced me, though, I need a hand blender before I make any other fall soups. Screw putting it into the food processor in batches. What a mess.

I would do one thing differently - I would seed the tomatoes, either before roasting or before adding them to the pot.

Now for the Grilled Cheese Panini, I used Kerrygold Blarney Castle Cheese. It's a mild, gouda-style cheese, which was delicious with the tangyness of the tomato soup. Then I just grilled them up on the George Foreman grill, pressing the lid down 1/2 of the way thru the cooking time.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

Welcome to football season! And Fall! Well, at least here in Wisconsin it is.

Tonight we had my chili for dinner and we all know the best companion to chili is cornbread. Wanting to try something different, I decided to add in some fresh jalapeños and some shredded cheddar. It's based off this recipe from Cooking Light.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons Splenda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup fat-free milk
4 medium minced seeded jalapeño peppers
3 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (flour through cheese) in a bowl. Combine the milk and remaining ingredients in a bowl; add to the cornmeal mixture, stirring just until moist. Coat a 8" square baking pan with cooking spray. Pour the batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 425° for 20-25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pan.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Crockpot Chicken Parmesan

It's a good thing we'd planned on a crockpot dinner yesterday anyway cause I was in no shape to stand at the stove cooking after getting no sleep. I even managed to ruin soup yesterday.

Crockpot Chicken Parmesan

2 tsp olive oil
1 lb chicken breasts
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 can tomato sauce
3 tbsp red wine
Italian seasoning
celery salt
1/2 cup mozzarella (I used reduced-fat italian-blend cheese)
3 tbsp Parmesan

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and heat thru. Add chicken to pan, browning on each side, about 10 minutes.

While chicken cooks, combine tomatoes, sauce, wine and spices in crockpot. Add chicken. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Combine cheeses in a small bowl. Sprinkle over chicken. Do not stir. Cook until cheese is melted. Serve.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

100 Foods

Found this on someone else's blog. Thought it'd be a fun break from the recipes. Plus, last night's dinner was a disaster. Anyway, items in bold are one's that I've had. Items with a strike are one's I wouldn't try if you paid me. Oddly, there's very few things on this list that I wouldn't eat.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos Rancheros
4. steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding (also known as blood pudding)
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB & J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. rice and beans
25. Brawn , or head cheese - yeah and never again
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper - not raw but I've used them in cooking
27. Dulce de Leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna Cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. salted lassi
34. sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (cognac? yes. cigar? no)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. phall
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. fugu (Pufferfish) - sorry but for all the silly machismo items on here, this one takes the cake. I can deal with uber-hot. Not with potentially deadly.
47. chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. prickly pear (do margaritas count? :D)
52. umeboshi
53. abalone
54. paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. poutine
60. carob chips
61. s'mores
62. sweetbreads - had them. not a fan
63. kaolin
64. currywurst
65. durian - I withhold judgment on this one since I've heard it can be sublime or horrific, depending on how you react to the smell.
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (all of them)
68. haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. chitterlings , or andouillette
71. gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. lapsang souchong
80. bellini
81. tom yum
82. eggs benedict
83. pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-michelin-star restaurant.
85. kobe beef
86. Hare
87. goulash
88. flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. soft shelled crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. lobster thermidor
98. polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
100. Snake

54 that I've had, 7 that I never would. That leaves 39 to go.

Oven-Fried Bloomin' Onion

I usually make a grilled version of the Bloomin' Onion (slice, drizzle with olive oil, season as desired, wrap in tinfoil, grill until delicious) but I had some leftover panko and flour from the Jalapeño Poppers, so I decided to do a spicy baked version instead.

Oven-Fried Bloomin' Onion
1 large onion
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
3 tsp Essence
1 cup panko mixed with 6 tsp Essence
1/2 cup flour mixed with 3 tsp Essence

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Beat together eggs, milk and Essence.

Remove top and bottom of onion and papery skins. Carefully slice onion into 8 wedges, leaving 1/4" towards the bottom un-sliced. Gently separate the layers of the onion so that it is slightly opened. Coat onion in flour mixture. Add egg mixture to onion, using a pastry brush to get between the layers. Coat onion in panko.

Line baking sheet with foil, coat foil with spray oil. Place onion on tray and bake at 350º until done, about 30-40 minutes. Serve immediately.

Baked Jalapeño Poppers

This is a recipe courtesy of Emeril. I made a few substitutions to lighten them up more. I also added quite a bit more of the "essence" than called for. The jalapeños were fresh from the garden and oh-so-tasty.

Baked Jalapeño Poppers

16 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise, seeds and membranes removed
8 ounces Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or less, to taste
1 large egg, 1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
12 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
1 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.

In a bowl, cream together the cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, cumin, and cayenne.

In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, and 3 teaspoons of the Essence. In a shallow dish, combine the panko crumbs and remaining 6 teaspoons of Essence. In a third dish, combine the flour and remaining 3 teaspoons of Essence. Spread 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture into the middle of each jalapeno half. One at a time, dredge in the flour, dip into the egg mixture, then dredge in the panko crumbs, pressing to coat. If necessary, repeat the process. Place the coated peppers, cut side up, on the prepared baking sheet and bake until the filling is runny and the crust is golden, about 30 minutes.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.