Thursday, March 19, 2009

Beka's Cream of Crab Soup

I made this trying to re-create this amazing crab soup I had at a restaurant that is no longer in business. I did lots of research and here's my's very heavy and very thick so it can be a dip as well. If you want it thinner, just leave out the flour.

  • 1/2 lb jumbo lump crabmeat

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

  • 1/4 cup minced onion

  • 1/4 cup minced celery

  • 2 tbsp flour

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp celery salt

  • couple twists of the pepper mill

  • 3 tbsp butter

  • 1 pint half & half

  • 1/4 cup dry sherry

  • fresh grated nutmeg (to taste)

  • pinch of ground cloves

  • 1 bay leaf

Cook onion & celery in the butter until onion is transparent & tender.

Blend in flour (if using) & seasonings and saute over medium to medium-hi heat.

Add half & half and chicken broth. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Stir in crabmeat & lower the heat so it stops boiling (low to med-low).

Stir in sherry.

Leave on low heat & taste to make changes till it's a flavor you want. I ended up adding more nutmeg.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Roast Yourself Some Garlic

Roasted garlic goes great in so many pasta recipes and is awesome just spread on a piece of crusty bread. Maybe mash it in with some potatoes? The sky is the limit. It smells wonderful too (if you like the smell of garlic as much as I). Here's all there is to it:
  • 1 full head of garlic
  • olive oil
  • aluminum foil (thorough, aren't I?)

Cut 1/4 inch off the top of the garlic head and remove any extra skin (still leave some on, though).

Drizzle the olive oil over the garlic.

Wrap garlic in a bit of foil and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chocolate Chip Pie

Chocolate overload in 3...2...1...

  • 1 9-inch pie shell (used Pillsbury)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325.

Beat eggs in in a large bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in flour, sugar & brown sugar.

Beat in butter. Stir in chocolate chips & nuts.

Spoon into pie shell.

Bake for 55-60 minutes or until knife comes out relatively clean.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

James' Baked Yuca

Yuca is the root of the cassava plant and starts out looking like the above. It's a tuber (just like the sweet potato) and has a really addictively good flavor when done right. It's really popular with our friends in South America, Africa, Central America and the Carribbean. And man, do they know what they're talking about. James made this for us last night and we went crazy for it.
  • 1 yuca root
  • non-stick cooking spray

Peel the yuca with any regular vegetable peeler.

Slice the peeled yuca into 1/2-inch discs.

Put the yuca slices in already boiling water and par boil them for exactly 5 minutes. Then strain and let them cool completely.

When the yuca has cooled enough that you can pick it up and hold it in your hand, stack them in a glass pyrex type baking dish that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes and you should have lovely lovely baked yuca. Very similar to the potato but much more flavorful.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mango Salsa

Made this tonight to go with some lovely jerk chicken. I think the lime is what really gives it it's punch. You could vary this by adding red onion instead of green, or throwing in lots of avocado, pineapple or papaya, but it's great just like this, too!

  • 1 mango, peeled, seeded & chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper (I used a bit of red, a bit of yellow and a bit of orange)
  • 1/4 cup green onion, sliced thin (I think it may have been better with a little less)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lime juice, with pulp (dig the pulp out with a fork or just use your hands)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar (other vinegars would do as well)
  • 1/2 tsp lime zest
  • salt & pepper to taste

Mix it all up and you've got salsa. :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Leftovers Frittata

Made this this morning with leftover bits from the fridge....

  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1-2 oz grated cheese (I used the gouda I had leftover from Jossie's birthday canapes)
  • fresh ground salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 - 1 cup chopped leftovers. I used tomato, ham & onion
  • Chopped fresh herbs (I used wilted arugula from the fridge. Yes I know it's not an herb. Whatever. I also used a bit of sage and parsley. Happy now?)
    • Preheat oven to broil.

      Blend eggs with a fork, adding cheese (parmesan, cheddar, etc.), salt & pepper.

      Heat 12-inch non-stick oven-safe saute pan over medium heat (lot of hyphens, there...).

      Add butter to pan & melt.

      Add veggies & meat to pan & saute for 2-3 minutes.

      Pour egg mixture into pan & stir with rubber spatula.

      Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the egg mimsture has set up on the bottom and begins to set on top.

      Sprinkle with herbs & put the pan in the oven to broil for 3-4 minutes until lightly browned & fluffy.

      Remove from pan & cut inot servings.

      Suggestions: try drizzling it with truffle oil/salt, sprinkle more grated cheese on the top, mix other herbs in there as well as leftover meat, peppers, corn, etc.

        Mustard Spice Glazed Ham

        I'm not roasting a ham or anything over here. Just have a few yummy slices of ham steak and wanted to spice things up a bit. I researched a few recipes for homemade mustard, and then made this mustard spice glaze for the ham. It was sweet, spicy and really really good!

        • 3oz mustard seeds (I used black but others would do fine, I think)
        • pinch of mustard powder
        • 1 cup light brown sugar
        • 1/4 cup white wine
        • 1 tsp salt
        • 1 tsp tumeric (or any bright yellow curry blend)
        • 1 tsp black pepper
        • 1/4 cup flour
        • 1 tsp cloves

        Put mustard seeds, powder, brown sugar, salt, tumeric & black pepper in mixer or blender and blend. Then add wine. Mixture will be watery.

        Move to saucepan, add flour (to thicken) and bring to a boil.

        Serve as a dipping sauce or pour directly over ham.

        Saturday, March 7, 2009

        Miso Soup

        If you've ever been to a Japanese restaurant (sushi, or maybe teppanyaki where they cook the food in front of you) you are almost always given miso soup at the start. It's simple, quick and really good for you. The traditional version contains seaweed. I'm not big on seaweed, so I left that out.

        • miso paste (you can get this at any asian grocer, or maybe even the ethnic section of a regular grocery store). Here's what it looks like:

        • 1/2 block Tofu, cut into 1/2-inch squares. Tofu is often in the refrigerated part of your produce section with the salad dressings. You can get firm or soft or many variations in between usually, though, the soft kind is used for miso soup.
        • 2 spring onions cut as thinly as possible.
        • water.

        Put a pot of water on to boil and add the miso paste first. I didn't put an amount there because it's really up to you. I used about 4 heaping spoonfuls, kind of a lot. I liked it but you may want to start with 2 and taste it before you add more.

        Chop up your tofu in small squares (try getting some of the liquid out of it first by rolling it up in paper towels for a bit) and add. Add scallion/green onion before you serve.

        Prosciutto, Pear & Gouda Canapes

        Saw something similar to this on either aol or msn's cooking page. Here's my version. Lovely little finger sandwiches. Made these for my BFF's 31st. They're just fancy enough for a special occasion, but delicious for any palette.

        • box of melba toasts (square kind)
        • 2 pkgs prosciutto
        • 2 pears (used bosc)
        • gouda
        • small arugula

        Lay out the melbas, pile on the arugula, place a slice of gouda, then pear on each and wrap with the prosciutto.

        Crab Salad Hors d'œuvres

        It's my best friends birthday and I wanted to make something delicious. I kind of just mixed things is as I went until it tasted right to me but I think I can give you most of the measurements.

        • 1 container, crab meat. Doesn't have to be the lump jumbo kind because you're going to break it down anyway.
        • mayo, about 2 heaping spoonfuls
        • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
        • 1/4 red bell pepper, finely chopped
        • about 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
        • 1 tsp hot sauce
        • 1/2 lemon, juiced
        • sea salt
        • phyllo pastry cups
        • spring onion

        Mix crab, mayo, celery, pepper, sauces, lemon juice and maybe a bit of black pepper. At this point I put mine in a sieve for a bit to strain out extra liquid.

        Put crab mixture into phyllo cups, top with thinly sliced spring onion, sea salt and maybe some lemon zest. I hope she likes them!

        Friday, March 6, 2009

        Herbed Bread Stuffing

        Made this for Thanksgiving a few years ago. Very traditional and can even be made a day ahead. It also doubles easily.

        • 10 cups (1-inch cubes) crusty country style bread
        • 3 medium onions, chopped
        • 3-4 celery ribs, thinly sliced
        • 1 tsp dried thyme
        • 1/2 tsp dried sage
        • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
        • 1 stick unsalted butter
        • 2.5 cups chicken broth

        Preheat oven to 325.

        Toast bread on a large shallow baking pan in the middle of the oven until just dry (25-30min).

        Cook onions, celery and herbs in butter in a large heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until celery is softened, about 10 minutes.

        Stir together bread, vegetables and broth. Salt & pepper to taste.

        Cool completely - uncovered.

        Thursday, March 5, 2009

        Chicken & Bell Pepper Stir-fry

        Made this up this morning based on what leftovers I had in the fridge. Turned out spectacular, probably because of the addition of Gia-Ninh's soy lime dipping sauce.

        • 1 large chicken breast (or 2)

        • about 1 sandwich bag full of red, yellow and organce bell peppers

        • 2 onions, sliced in slivers ('frenched')

        • Gia-ninh's soy lime dipping sauec - probably about 1/2 cup

        • 1.5 tbsp cornstarch

        • canola oil

        • 3 cloves garlic, minced

        • salt & pepper

        Heat canola in a wok on high heat. Add onions. Once the onions are starting to turn translucent, add the garlic and chicken and saute until chicken is mostly cooked through.

        Add peppers and soy lime sauce. Mix a bit of water or the soy lime sauce with the cornstarch and add to thicken.

        Salt & pepper to taste. I served mine over basmati rice.

        Kelly's Three Cheese Hot Artichoke Dip

        My sister-in-law, Kelly made this for us when we went to visit her in Pittsburgh a couple of months ago and I begged her for the recipe. It's *that* good.

        • 1 package cream cheese, softened
        • 1 cup mayonnaise
        • 1 can artichoke hearts (14oz), drained & chopped
        • 2 green onions, sliced thin
        • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
        • 1 cup shredded mozzarella (or 3 cheese italian mix)
        • dash of hot sauce
        • dash of worcesterchire sauce
        • salt & pepper
        • red pepper flakes
        • 1/2 container frozen spinach, squeezed to remove excess water

        Preheat oven to 350.

        In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand held electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the mayo until smooth. Add remaining ingredients & stir together until combined.

        Transfer the dip to a pie plate or shallow gratin dish.

        Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until the top is golden & bubbling.

        Serve hot with crostini, veggies & especially Ritz Crackers!

        Wednesday, March 4, 2009

        Truffled Lobster Risotto

        Another day, another risotto recipe. I didn't cook tonight as our dear friends Mark & Jen took us to dinner. But this recipe is the next one in my old notebook so here it is:

        • two 8-oz uncooked lobster tails
        • 3.5 cups canned low salt chicken broth
        • 3 tbsp truffle oil (white or black)
        • 3/4 cup carrots, chopped and peeled
        • 1/4 cup shallots, chopped
        • 1 cup arborio rice
        • 1/4 cup brandy
        • 1/3 cup heavy cream
        • 1/3 cup fresh chives, chopped

        Preheat oven to 425.

        Cook lobster in a large pot of simmering salted water until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

        Transfer to bowl of cold water to cool. Drain lobster. Remove meat from shells, reserve shells.

        Cut lobster meat into 1/2 inch peices.

        Break shells into large pieces. Place on baking sheet; bake 15 minutes.

        Blend shells with 1 cup chicken broth in a blender until finely chopped. Strain through a very fine sieve. Reserve lobster broth; discard shells.

        Bring 2.5 cups chicken broth to simmer; keep hot.

        Heat 1 tbsp truffle oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat.

        Add carrots and shallots; saute 2 minutes.

        Add rice; stir 2 minutes.

        Add brandy; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until brandy is absorbed, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.

        Add lobster broth and 3/4 cup chicken broth.

        Simmer until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, adding remaining broth by 1/4 cupfuls as needed and stirring often - about 20 minutes.

        Add lobster and cream, stir until heated through.

        Remove from heat. Stir in 2 tbsp truffle oil and chives. Season with salt and pepper.

        Tuesday, March 3, 2009

        Lemon Risotto

        Anyone who knows me knows that making a risotto is one of my favorite things. And lemon is absolutely one of my favorite flavors. I love this recipe. You probably will too.

        • 6 cups chicken broth (or more)
        • 4 tbsp butter
        • 2 onions, chopped
        • 2 cups arborio rice
        • 2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese ( used more!)
        • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
        • lemon juice & zest
        • salt & pepper
        • 1 cup white wine

        Bring chicken broth to a slow boil in a medium sized saucepan & set aside.

        Melt 4 tbsp of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

        Add onion & saute until translucent. Add rice & stir to coat for 3 minutes.

        Add 1/2 cup hot broth. Stir while cooking until rice absorbs the liquid.

        When the liquid is absorbed, it's time to add more broth. Keep adding it 1/2 cup at a time, stirring very frequently, until all is used. Never drown the rice. Risotto is done when the rice is still tender.

        Stir in wine, parmesan, butter, lemon juice, zest & parsley. Season with salt pepper.

        Cover & let stand for a few minutes before serving.

        Monday, March 2, 2009

        Ginger Scones w/ Lemon Curd

        I have never made a scone. I don't really think I even know what a curd is. But today, we're making both. The ginger scone recipe is from a user on The Lemon Curd is pure Alton Brown (with a couple of my changes). They turned out LOVELY! This has tea party written all over it. Fancypants, indeed!

        Ginger Scones

        • 2 cups flour
        • 1/3 cup sugar
        • 1 tbsp baking powder
        • 1/2 tsp salt
        • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cold
        • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger
        • 1 egg
        • 1/2 cup half & half (or cream)

        In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder & salt.

        Cut in butter with a mixer (recipe called for a pastry mixer but once again, WHAT is a pastry mixer?). My handheld mixer worked fine. You want to mix it until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of a pea. Be careful not to let the butter get too warm or it will make a paste & ruin your scones!

        Chop ginger finely & stir in. Honestly, you could use more than 1/4 cup. They don't come on too strong at all.

        In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and the half & half.

        Add to dry mix & stir just to moisten.

        Gather the dough & knead it against the side of the bowl, collecting loose pieces into the dough.

        Continue just until the dough comes together into a ball & cleans the sides of the bowl. Mine were quite sticky but still came out fine.

        Transfer to a lightly floured board (I just used my cutting board) & pat or roll into a circle about 1-inch thick. cut into 8 wedges (pizza style cuts).

        Place wedges on a parchment covered baking sheet at least 1-inch apart.

        Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes until the tops are just golden.

        Lemon Curd

        • 4 egg yolks
        • 3/4 cup sugar
        • 3 lemons, both juice and zest
        • 1 stick butter, cold

        Add enough water to a medium saucepan to come about 1/2 inch up the side. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

        Meanwhile, combine egg yolks & sugar in a medium sized metal bowl and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute.

        Add lemon juice to the egg mixture along with the zest. Whisk till smooth.

        Once water reaches a near-boil, reduce heat to low & place bowl in top of saucepan (bowl should be large enough to fit on top of the saucepan without touching the water).

        Whisk until thickened, approx. 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow & coats the back of a spoon.

        Remove from head & stir in butter one slice at a time (maybe a tbsp at a time), allowing each addition to melt before adding the next.

        Remove to a clean container & cover by laying plastic wrap directly to the surface of the curd.

        Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks (don't worry, it'll never last that long).

        Now, clearly these two would be great on their own, but together - they knock it out of the park I think!

        FYI: S: (n) curd (a coagulated liquid resembling milk curd)

        Sunday, March 1, 2009

        Micro Green Salad w/ Fig Vinaigrette

        I wanted to make use of the Microgreens I had leftover from last weekend but I wanted to do something simple that wouldn't overwhelm their flavor. Micro greens are lovely but can be a little on the bitter side, so my goal was to create a salad with a sweet vinaigrette. I LOVE fig and it's natural sweetness. Hence, my salad:
        • fresh micro greens (or any salad, really)
        • red wine vinegar
        • olive oil
        • fig spread (any kind works, I used the kind that you typically find in the cheese section of the grocery store)
        I'm not including any amounts here - it's up to you. Just add a bit of each and keep wisking until you get the flavor and consistency you like.

        If the fig spread is thick, microwave it for about 30 seconds before adding the oil and vinegar.

        Then just pour it over your greens and mix with your hands (that was the fun part).

        This turned out absolutely lovely. The sweetness of the fig really complimented the bitterness of the greens. And micro greens always just look so gorgeous!