May 30, 2005
Dry Creek Kitchen

anne, David and one of anne's coworkers and I went wine tasting in Sonoma on Saturday. We were lucky to find a corner at the bar at Dry Creek Kitchen where the four of us could sit comfortably. We quickly voted to have the tasting menu (and three of us the matched wine pairing) -- Luckily, that didn't apply to the entire bar!

It was pretty amazing. Dry Creek Kitchen, in Healdsburg, is one of Charlie Palmer's restaurants. We had eaten there before, and also at Aureole.

Here are pictures of the tasting menu.

Posted by tim on May 30, 2005
May 28, 2005
Apricot-Peach Galette

I've never eaten baked fruit in my life, but tonight I made my first baked fruit dessert! After flipping through Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison, I felt confident enough to wing my first galette as a surprise for my husband (who loves fruit pies, tarts, and other hot fruit desserts).

A galette is basically a rustic, open-faced pie; fruit is heaped in the middle of rolled-out pie dough, which is folded up over the fruit. I had frozen peaches and a few fresh apruims (apricot-plums!) on hand, and a TJ's pie crust in the fridge. I dropped a handfull of rum-drizzled bread cubes on the room-temperature pie dough for flavor (in theory the bread sops up juices from really watery fruit - I did the rum just for flavor), heaped the fruit, pleated the dough up very rustically (read: hapzardly), based it with melted butter and dusted the whole thing with raw cane sugar. Baked in a pre-heated 425°F oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375°F and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until brown. I let it cool a little before serving.

The result? My husband tried it then re-proposed marriage to me, so I'm guessing it turned out pretty good!

Posted by rebecca on May 28, 2005
May 26, 2005
Cinnamon Fruit Dip

We get the Penzey's catalog monthlyand found this delightful recipe in the past issue. After spending another $40 dollars on spices, we had this dip with pineapple and strawberries. It also goes very well with cantaloupe.

The one change I made to the recipe was I leave the fruit bare, instead of dusting the fruit with sugar, and put a full tablespoon of sugar in the dip. My suggestion is that you start with a little sugar and add slowly according to your own taste.

Cinnamon Fruit Dip
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (room temperature)
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp sugar

Mix together until all lumps are gone. Chill for about an hour and serve with fruit.

Posted by merry on May 26, 2005
May 25, 2005
Cornmeal-Crusted Seafood with Mint Chimichurri

Anyone else notice how the perfect summer weather seems to have started this week? (Maybe I'm noticing because I'm just coming off a few days at a beach resort!) With my final day off, I wanted to cook something light and summery for lunch, and this recipe from Cooking Light (May 2005, pg 128) was just the ticket. Chimichurri is thick herb sauce typically served with meat in Argentina; this version is lightened up by mint, making it ideal for seafood. I substituted shrimp for the scallops, and served it over a plate of melon seed pasta with an Anchor Summer Beer to wash it all down: a perfect summer lunch! This dish would have been right at home, poolside at the resort. Oh, Cabana Boy?

Cornmeal-Crusted [Seafood] with Mint Chimichurri
1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon minced seeded serano chile
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove
3 tabelsppons yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 pounds sea scallops (I used the equivilent in shrimp)
1 tablesppon olive oil

Put the first 9 ingredients (mint through garlic) in a food processor; finely chop and set aside. Put cornmeal in a shallow dish. Dredge seafood in cornmeal, then cook in oil at medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet. Scallops should be about 3 minutes on each side or until done - shrimp will pink up and curl. Serve with chimichurri.

Yeild: 4 servings.
Calories 237 (19% from fat); fat 4.9g (sat .6g, mono 2.6g, poly .9g); protein 29.g; carb 17.3g; fiber 2.1g fiber 2.1g; chol 56mg; iron 1.4mg; sodium 576mg; calc 68mg

Posted by rebecca on May 25, 2005
May 11, 2005
Empanadas w/ Greens & Olives

I haven't actually made these for awhile, but I post the recipe because they were excellent and serve as proof of my highest cookbook recommendation--Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone." Such a good book. The dough recipe is hers, too, and I've included it below.

Empanadas with Greens and Olives

1 recipe Galette Dough or Yeasted Tart Dough (I chose the tart dough with oil to reduce the sat. fat component.)
2 t. sweet paprika
10 c. mixed greens, such as beet greens, chard, spinach, kale
2 T. olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1/4 t. red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 c. pitted olives, such as kalamata
1/2 c. grated provolone
1 beaten egg
Salt and pepper

Make the dough, adding the paprika to the flour. Divide it into 12 pieces and roll each into a 3-4 inch circle. Set on a sheet pan and refrigerate. Preheat oven to 375 deg F.

Wash greens, but don't dry them. Heat oil in wide skillet over fairly high heat. Saute the onion with the garlic, bay leaves, parsley, and pepper flakes until the onion begins to color a little, about 4 minutes. Add greens and cook until they're tender, 8-12 minutes, turning them with tongs as they cook. If there's a lot of moisture when they're done, press it out with the back of a spoon. Finely chop greens, then mix them with olives, cheese, and half of the egg. Season to taste with s&p.

Place 1 1/2 T. filling on the lower half of each dough circle, then fold the pastry over and seal edges. Brush with the remaining egg. Bake for 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yeasted Tart Dough with Olive Oil

2 t. active dry yeast
1/2 t. sugar
1/2 c. warm water
3 T. olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/8 t. salt (what's with this weird fraction? frrrrreak)
1 3/4 c. flour, as needed

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water in a medium bowl and let stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Add oil, egg, and salt, then stir in flour. When the dough is too stiff to work with a spoon, turn onto counter and knead until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Add more flour if necessary to keep it from sticking. Set the dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to an hour. Turn dough out. (For individual tarts, divide dough, shape into balls, and let rest under a towel for 15 minutes before rolling them out.)

(Deborah Madison adds to this that if you don't eat eggs, you can add an additional 3 T. water with 1 T. oil. But if you don't eat eggs or cheese, you won't be able to make the filling anyway.)

Posted by leek on May 11, 2005
May 09, 2005
Spicy Fusion Shrimp

Dinner, May 8
Originally uploaded by Jenblossom.
I've been experimenting with incorporating more Asian ingredients and preparations into my cooking - I love the flavors, but I just hadn't used them much in the past.

This shrimp recipe is a bit of a mishmash of Mexican and Asian flavors - chiles prepared three ways give it heat and complexity, and fresh cilantro and lime juice add brightness. Serve this over a bit of steamed brown basmati rice with black beans and avocado slices, and you have a meal that's quick, light and savory.

Jen's Spicy Fusion Shrimp

12-16 black tiger shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil (or other neutral oil)
juice of one lime
1 tablespoon Thai chili paste
1 tablespoon good quality chile powder (I used Mike's homemade blend)
4 chipotles in adobo
1 tablespoon tomato paste (I use the super-concentrated Italian paste in a tube)
salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the oil, the lime juice, the chile paste and chile powder, and whisk until well blended. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, then add to the marinade, cover, and chill for 30 minutes.

Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a wide-bottomed pan until very hot. Add the shrimp with marinade, the chipotles with adobo, and the tomato paste, and stir well. Let the shrimp sear on one side (this should just take just a minute or two), then flip them over. Stir the sauce well to make sure it is well combined. Spoon shrimp into shallow bowls or plates and garnish with fresh chopped or torn cilantro leaves.

Serves 2.

Posted by jenblossom on May 09, 2005
May 07, 2005
carrot sheet cake with cream cheese frosting

I made this tasty cake last weekend and then got too distracted to post the recipe (it's from the May 2005 issue of Cooking Light). All who sampled it liked it very much. I used a metal baking pan purchased especially for the occasion, but the magazine says if you use a glass one just reduce the baking temperature to 325 degrees and start sticking the toothpick in after 25 minutes. My frosting was just a little runny, and I realize now that I let the cream cheese soften even though the recipe didn't call for that. And I'm not entirely sure I added the powdered sugar in batches either. Tricky delicious frosting.

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

To prepare cake, coat a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray; line bottom of pan with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray; set aside.

Place 9 tablespoons butter, softened, 2/3 cup packed brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 5 minutes or until well blended. Add 2 large eggs and 2 large egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition until pale and fluffy. Beat in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

Lightly spoon 2 cups all-purpose flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture and 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition. Stir in 2 cups finely shredded carrot. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Sharply tap pan once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Carefully peel off wax paper; cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare frosting, place 1/2 cup (4 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, softened, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating at low speed until smooth (do not overbeat). Stir in 3/4 cup powdered sugar. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Spread frosting over top of cake. Garnish with 1 tablespoon orange sugar sprinkles. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator. Yield: 16 servings.

Posted by astraea on May 07, 2005