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Archive for February, 2009

salmon

LOOK OUT!  IT”S THE OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS!  That just sounds scary,  but apparently it’s very good for you!  In an effort to branch out of the chicken rut my family has come to be in, I decided that we should try to eat some sort of fish at least once a week.  Now, I am not a fan of “fishy” fish so I was at first kind of iffy on salmon.  Every time I’ve had it at a wedding or at a restaurant it always kind of tasted the same.  No matter how it was prepared it always just had that “salmony” flavor.  So I decided to try this marinade.  It’s from The Joy of Cooking , All About Chicken book which was a Christmas present at some point from my mother in law (thanks by the way! we use it all the time!).  The marinade is very basic and easy and the most important thing is to use freshly squeezed lemon juice, not the stuff from a bottle.  It WILL make a difference, and it won’t be a good difference either.  So spring for a couple of lemons.  Anyway, back to the salmon.  It is very, very flavorful!  It actually has a bit of flavor besides the ‘salmony” flavor!  We have finally found our way of getting those scary sounding omegas… and we eat it at least once a week.

Here is the marinade recipe:

Broiled Lemon Garlic Chicken 

(Just use the marinade on the fish, although it’s very good on chicken too!)

Source: The Joy of Cooking, All About Chicken by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker & Ethan Becker

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup fresh strained lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons pressed or very finely minced garlic (I tend to use closer to 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (you can add more if you like)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I sometimes use less and then add it if it’s needed)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Salmon (I use @ 4 pieces usually and have plenty of marinade to spoon over rice etc)

How to put it all together:

  • Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl, whisk together
  • Add the fish, skin side up so that the fleshy fish part is soaking in the marinade
  • Spoon some of the marinade over the top
  • Let it marinate in the fridge for at least a few hours
  • Place in pan/broiler safe casserole and broil until the tops of the garlic bits  look golden and the fish is pretty much cooked in the middle. Let it sit for a few minutes because it will continue to cook

The extra marinade is tasty over rice or cous cous if you serve it with the salmon.  A simple cucumber salad is also nice on the side.

 100_0395

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cookie-tower

Good grief Charlie Brown!  Well, here is another Ina indulgence since we had guests to visit the other weekend.  I really never bake unless we have company because honestly, who could be trusted not to raid these babies at 2:00 in the morning!  Anyway, back to the magical goodness of the Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookie.  They were so freaking good it was scary!  A tad crunchy on the outside, with a gooey white chocolate chunk center!  They were gone by the end of the day.  Good thing I had gotten impatient with making the individual cookies and just made one huge giant cookie pretty much the size of the pan with the extra dough!  Now that was even better than the little cookies! I cut them into little cube size pieces so we could nibble them on Sunday and then sent the rest of them to the office with my hubby.  He said people hovered and then were practically licking the crumbs from the plate.  Can you picture that??

I wouldn’t change a thing about these cookies, although they may be a good starting point for an experiment.  Maybe instead of white chocolate chunks some sort of candy bar?  Snickers, Butterfinger? Oooh maybe Rollos!  Those are hard to find though. Oh well… I shall ponder the possibilities and report back at some time.  Enjoy!

 

 Here is the recipe:

Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties! 
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butte,r at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup good unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds good white chocolate, coarsely chopped

How to put it all together:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  • Add the vanilla, then the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well.
  • Add the cocoa and mix again.
  • Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the chocolate with the mixer on low speed until just combined.
  • Fold in the chopped white chocolate.
  • Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly.
  • Bake for exactly 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone).
  • Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.cookie-plate

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tomato-basil-soup-1

 

Ina strikes again! In my never-ending quest to find filling foods that are either low in carbohydrate count or point value I have found another winner!

The Roasted Tomato Basil Soup is something I had seen Ina make on her show and it just looked really good.  She of course used the perfectly ripe, red, plump, and juicy plum tomatoes probably from her crazy East Hampton garden.  I used the kind of orange looking ones that Sainsbury had… grown in the Canary Islands.  Ina used delicious bunches of basil from her giant herb garden… I used the ones in the plastic container from Sainsbury.  That being said, this came out really good.  It’s a bit heartier then the canned variety, and much fresher without the tinny can taste.  It was a tad too salty but that could be my fault.  I used regular table salt not kosher salt as the recipe called for because I didn’t have it.  So, maybe that was why??  Next time I make it I’ll use less salt and add it at the end if it’s needed.  The other thing I tweaked was that I cut down the olive oil usage to 1/2 the amount called for and only used 1 Tbs butter instead of 2.  It was fine, and cut out some fat that was not really necessary in my opinion. 

What I love about this soup is that you really taste the fresh basil. I think basil is one of my favorite smells!  It also delivers a little kick afterwards from the red pepper flakes.  Next time I make it I may add some things … I was thinking roasted zucchini would be very tasty pureed into this… and for some reason shrimp… not sure why…. not that I would puree the shrimp of course (gross!) but I think it may be something to explore.

The only other changes I would make to this recipe (if I make it exactly as Ina did) is to perhaps roast the garlic in their cloves with the tomatoes rather than sauteing in the pan. I think a roasted garlic taste would have been yummier.  Also, next time I may scoop out the tomato seeds. Sometimes they annoy me.

Here is the recipe:

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Source: Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

  • 3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil  I used 1/2 this amount and supplemented with olive oil cooking spray as needed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter I used 1 tablespoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves  I used dried thyme as they didn’t have fresh in the store
  • 1 quart chicken stock or water I used chicken stock, why blah it out with water??

How to put it all together:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  •  Toss together the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.
  • In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown.
  • Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade. (I used my food processor and it was fine) Taste for seasonings. Serve hot or cold.

tomato-basil-soup-2tomato-basil-soup-3Mmm.. mmm… good!

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meatballs-sauce

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!  Sorry, don’t you just have to sing Italian when eating/cooking Italian? We like to listen to Mob Hits & Louis Prima in our house when we do!  With that said, this recipe was really yummy! I have never bothered to follow a meatball recipe. They all seemed kind of plain… so I would “wing it” each time. I’ve never had really bad results.. sometimes they are really delicious, however they come out different every time I make them.  Sometimes they are too wet, some too dry, some too much flavor, some not enough you get the idea. This recipe was awesome! Even with the substitution I made (I used 1 lb pork instead of 1/2 pork and 1/2 veal, since my grocery store over here didn’t have veal) it was excellent.  I’ll definitely keep this recipe around and keep it in mind when I want to make sauce. I would probably double the recipe for the sauce as it didn’t make that much… Also, I ended up with a lot more meatballs then expected. I probably just made them too small…. Oh well, we’ll definitely have these again!

Oh yeah, the other “tweaks” I made:  I had to season my own breadcrumbs since they don’t sell them over here. I added garlic powder and onion powder and Italian seasoning to the crumbs. Not sure how much, I just eyeballed it.

Also, I don’t fry (at least when it’s not necessary), and I didn’t feel it was necessary for this recipe. I used instead @ 2 tablespoons of olive oil and olive oil cooking spray as needed.

And, I used extra lean ground beef and extra lean ground pork for the meatballs but they were still juicy and flavorful. I think that is it on my “tweaks”.

Here is the recipe:

Real Meatballs and Spaghetti

Source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style, Ina Garten

Ingredients

For the Meatballs:

  • 1/2 lb ground veal   (I couldn’t get veal so I did 1 lb of pork )
  • 1/2 lb ground pork (see above)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
  • 1/2 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten
  • Vegetable oil
  • Olive oil

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup good red wine, such as Chianti
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving:

  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

How to pull it all together:

  • Place the grounds meats, both bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl.  Combine lightly with a fork.  Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. You will have 14 to 16 meatballs.
  • Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch.  Heat the oil.  Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or fork.  This should take about 10 minutes for each batch.  Don’t crowd the meatballs.  Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels.  Discard the oils but don’t clean the pan.
  • For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan.  Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5-10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper.
  • Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25-30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.  Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan.

meatballs-on-plate2

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orange-choc-chunk-muffin

Oh dear… I think I wish I hadn’t found this recipe!  Luckily, I tend to only make this sort of thing when we have company over,  which living over here in the UK is not that often.  We may be in trouble when we move home though!  These were dangerously delish!   The original recipe was for mini bundt cakes… however I don’t have those pans so I made cupcakes. Besides the amazing taste of the cake, the aroma that permeated the house from the orange and chocolate immediately caused your mouth to water! As for the actual cake, it was moist and refreshingly citrusy… then when I added the orange syrup it made it even more so.  When I added the chocolate ganache topping however… LOOK OUT!  The entire dozen were inhaled by the end of the weekend.  I highly recommend them… the cake was orangey and moist with chunks of Cadbury gooey goodness… and the topping was a mix of milk and dark Cadbury… it was fudgy and magical! All hail the Barefoot Contessa! orange-muffin-glaze-3

Here is the recipe:

Mini Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake

source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties!, page 206

  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/8 cup grated orange zest (2 large oranges)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 ounces buttermilk at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup good semisweet chocolate chunksI used chopped up Cadbury Dairy Milk

For the syrup

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

For the ganache

  • 4 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips: I used Cadbury Dairy Milk and a bit of a dark chocolate bar (I can’t remember the brand)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules: I only used @ 1/4 teaspoon

How to put it all together:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 6 individual serving baking molds, such as the flexible non stick 100 percent silicone molds  I used a 12 cup cupcake tin with cupcake liners
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, then the orange zest.
  3. Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 1 tablespoon flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the molds on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pans, put them on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
  5. For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cakes.

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Abruzzese Lentil Soup

I never thought I would like lentil soup. It just sounded gross… all those beans etc… However, I am a sucker for good marketing! I know.. you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover blah blah blah but honestly, it’s the first thing that grabs your attention! Which is how I found this recipe… The book is called Good Cooking-The New Basics by Jill Dupleix. I flipped through it and saw a picture of the most yummy looking bowl of soup. So, I decided to try it. I am so glad I did! I make a pot a week practically to eat for lunch. It’s hearty and filling, with tons of healthy things in it… and it’s super low WW pt value! Whip it up… it’s better than the crap out of a can!

Here is the recipe:

Abruzzese  Lentil Soup

From:  Good Cooking-The New Basics by Jill Dupleix

  • 1 1/4 cups small brown or green lentil (I mixed both types)
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed ( I used 3-4)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 14 -oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 14 -oz can chickpeas, drained
  • sea salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • freshly grated Parmesan for serving

How to put it all together:

  • Rinse the lentils, then place in pan ( I used my big soup pot though) with the garlic, bay leaves and 6 cups of cold water. Cook until almost tender, @ 30 minutes, skimming occasionaly.
  • In the meantime, finely slice the onion and celery, and dice the carrots. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan (I just used a frying pan). Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes
  • Add the tomatoes and stir well, then add into the lentil pot. Simmer until nice and soupy, @ 20 minutes
  • Add the chickpeas, sea salt, and pepper, and simmer for at least 10 minutes or longer, adding extra water as necessary
  • Stir in chopped parsley and ladle into soup bowls. Serve with grated Parmesan.

You can also dish into individual freezer bags and have a quick lunch to microwave! 

As the author said, this is a rustic, slow-cooked soup. Lentils are low in fat, high in protein and easy to cook!

 

 

 

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