Monday, June 29, 2009

Corn Fritters

These little fritters looked so fresh and tasty in the pages of my new cookbook that I just had to try it. Fresh corn on the cob is readily available at the grocery stores or farmer’s markets right now, so it’s a perfect time to make this recipe. With the sweet flavor of the fresh summer corn, these fritters can be served as an appetizer or side dish.

Source: Corn Fritters, Stonewall Kitchen Harvest

1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels, cut off the cob
1 large egg, whisked
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
⅓ cup half-and-half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for frying
Vegetable or olive oil for frying
½ cup herb butter

Put the corn kernels in a large bowl. Add the egg and mix well. Stir in the flour, baking powder, half-and-half, salt, pepper, parsley, basil, and chives. Add 1 tablespoon of the melted butter and beat well. The batter will be chunky, but should be uniform.

Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Add the remaining melted butter (about 1 ½ teaspoons to start) and 1 ½ teaspoons of the oil and allow them to get hot, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add heaping tablespoons of the corn batter to the pan and cook the fritters for 2 minutes. Using a spatula, gently flip the fritters and cook another 2 to 3 minutes on the other side, or until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter and oil to the pan as needed. Serve hot with the herb butter.

Cheese and Herb Crêpes

Another winning recipe from my new cookbook, these savory crêpes are so fresh and delicious! For dinner, I wanted something a bit more substantial than just a topping of herb butter, so I added a mixture of sautéed zucchini and onions as a crêpe filling with a sprinkling of additional grated white cheddar cheese.

Source: Stonewall Kitchen Harvest

1 cup milk, whole or 2%
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup packed grated cheddar, or your favorite hard grating cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or ½ teaspoon dried and crumbled
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for greasing the pan
Herb butter

Combine the milk, ¼ cup of water, and the eggs in a large bowl and blend with a hand-held mixer for about 1 minute. Sift the flour on top and gently mix it into the batter. Add the melted butter and mix briefly on high. Fold in the cheese, herbs, salt, and pepper. Let the crêpe batter sit for at least 30 minutes, and up to 6 hours, covered, in the refrigerator.

Very lightly grease a heavy 8-inch skillet or crêpe pan over low heat. (The best way to grease the pan is with a pastry brush so there is only a light coating.) Add about ¼ cup of batter to the hot pan, immediately swirling the batter around the bottom of the pan so it creates a thin, even “pancake.” Cook the crêpe for about another 45 seconds. Use the spatula to loosen the crepe and transfer to a plate. Repeat to use up all the batter. (You can make the crêpes about 1 hour ahead of time, layer them on a plate, and keep them warm in a low, 250 degree F oven, or simply reheat them, one at a time, in the crêpe pan just before serving.) Serve folded in half or rolled into a cigar shape, topped with a touch of the herb butter.

Herb Butter

Herb butter is a great way to use up any extra herbs you may have on hand and is a wonderful accompaniment to your favorite dishes. Use it with corn on the cob, warm dinner rolls, roasted chicken or turkey, or corn fritters.

Here I’ve used garlic chives and thyme, but you can use other herbs such as parsley, tarragon, basil, lemon verbena, sage, rosemary, lavender, cilantro, mint, garlic, scallion, or even Parmesan cheese. I find that using a plastic sandwich baggie is an easy way to form a log and store away in the fridge or freezer.

Stonewall Kitchen Harvest

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅓ cup minced fresh herbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the butter in a medium-sized bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to soften it. Stir in the herbs, salt, and pepper, making sure the herbs are fully incorporated into the butter. Put the butter in the middle of a sheet of plastic wrap and cover with one side of the plastic wrap. Roll the butter into a long log or fat cigar shape, wrap it completely, and place in the refrigerator (for several days) or freezer (for several months) until ready to use. Serve the rolled-up log or cut off slices as needed.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Swiss Chard Tart with a Potato Crust

I stumbled across a Stonewall Kitchen store last week and saw their Harvest cookbook, which I just had to have—I admit that I have a cookbook addiction, and this new cookbook was just too irresistible to me! This cookbook focuses on using fresh ingredients, from the garden or farmer’s market. As I flipped through the beautiful glossy pages, this recipe caught my eye and knew I had to try it immediately.

This dish has a clever potato “crust” that holds a cheesy Swiss chard mixture. When wilting the Swiss chard, I added a package of sliced cremini mushrooms that I had in the fridge. I used my mandoline to thin-slice the potatoes uniformly and quickly.

McHubby and I both loved the flavor of this dish. The cheesy mixture set up similar to a quiche, but the veggies imparted a slight sweetness. This tart was simply delicious! The recipe makes two tarts, so you could easily cut the recipe in half if you only want to make one. Or you can eat one and freeze one. We ate this dish as a main course for dinner, but it also makes a wonderful breakfast or brunch.

1 ½ pounds Swiss chard
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove, very thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large high-starch potatoes, like Idaho (8 to 10 ounces), unpeeled and scrubbed clean
3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 heaping cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
2 cups ricotta cheese

Trim the stems of the chard, wash the leaves thoroughly, drain, and dry. Coarsely chop the chard. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add half the garlic and half the chard and cook, stirring frequently. As the chard cooks down, add the remaining chard and garlic. Season with salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring until the chard is just tender. Tilt the skillet to the side and blot up any excess liquid with a paper towel. Let cool.

To make the crust, slice the potatoes very thinly. It’s fine if some of the slices are smaller than the others—the important thing is to make them fairly uniform in thickness. Create a thin layer of the potato slices on the bottom of two pie plates (preferably glass), slightly overlapping them to create a solid bottom “crust.” Gently tuck potato slices along the edges to create a border up the sides of the pie plates. When you’re done, you should have two solid pie “crusts.” Use thin or oddly shaped potato slices to fill in any gaps. Discard the remaining slices. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the oil over each crust, swirling the pan slightly so the oil spreads between the potato layers and drips to the bottom. Sprinkle each crust with ½ teaspoon of the thyme, some salt and pepper, and a heaping ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl and whisk in the ricotta, the remaining 2 teaspoons of thyme, and the remaining ½ cup of Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooled sautéed chard and mix well. Divide the filling between the two pie crusts and press down lightly.

Bake the tart for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for another 10 minutes. The potato crust should turn brown and crisp, and the filling should feel solid and firm when gently touched with your fingers. Let cool and 5 minutes before cutting into wedges.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I have to admit that I’m not a great fan of gazpacho—I’m just not a fan of cold soups, in general. I do acknowledge that gazpacho is such a healthy summer option, though. So in the spirit of trying recipes that one may not typically choose as part of Barefoot Bloggers, I thought I would give it a go. This recipe was selected by Meryl of My Bit of Earth.

This is a light, fresh, tasty gazpacho that can’t be any easier to prepare. There’s no actual cooking involved at all. It’s just a matter of rough chopping the veggies, tossing them in the food processor (one at a time), and stirring together with the remaining ingredients.

Source: Gazpacho, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 plum tomatoes
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups)
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup good olive oil
½ tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

McHubby and I love cooking homemade pizza on the grill in the summertime. We’ve even made them for tailgates! We prefer using whole wheat pizza dough and roll it out to a thin crust that crisps up on the grill. The best part about making pizza dough is that you can use them immediately or save them in the fridge or freezer for a quick and easy meal later. Just top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

In this recipe, I used honey instead of sugar. You can bake these in the oven, but if cooking on the grill, be sure to use indirect to avoid burning the crust.

2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 packages dry active yeast
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 ½ cups lukewarm water from the tap
½ teaspoon olive oil
Flour for the work surface
Sprinkling of cornmeal

Place flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. While mixer is running, gradually add water and knead on low speed until dough is firm and smooth, about ten minutes. Turn machine off.

Pour oil down inside of bowl. Turn on low once more for 15 seconds to coat inside of bowl and all surfaces of dough with the oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm spot until doubled in bulk, about two hours.

Preheat your oven to highest setting, 500° or 550°F. If using a pizza stone, place stone in oven on bottom rack, preheat oven one hour ahead. Punch dough down, cut in half. On generously floured work surface, place one half of dough.

By hand, form dough loosely into a ball, stretch into a circle. Using a floured rolling pin, roll dough into large circle until very thin. Don't worry if your circle isn't perfect and if you get a hole; just pinch edges back together.

To prevent dough from sticking to counter, turn dough over, add flour to dough, counter and rolling pin as needed. Sprinkle pizza peel or cookie sheet generously with cornmeal. Transfer dough to pizza peel or cookie sheet with no lip. Add toppings.

Slide dough onto pizza stone or place cookie sheet with pizza on bottom rack. Bake 10–12 minutes or until golden. To remove pizza from oven stone, slide cookie sheet under dough onto another cookie sheet, slice and serve immediately.

Roll out remaining dough and top with desired toppings or freeze in freezer bags.

Easy Pizza Sauce

It really doesn’t get much easier than this! For a fast and tasty pizza sauce, this recipe delivers. The only thing I changed was using a 6-ounce can of tomato paste and adding a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity a bit. This sauce is super easy with a simple, great flavor.

Easy Pizza Sauce, Cat Cora

1 (4-ounce) can tomato paste
1 ½ cups water
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
½ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
½ tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
½ tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Mix together the tomato paste, water, and olive oil. Mix well. Add garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, oregano, basil, and rosemary. Mix well and let stand several hours to let flavors blend. No cooking necessary, just spread on dough.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cranberry Orange Scones

I’ve made these scones many times—they may very well be my favorite of all. They are so beautifully light, billowy, and flaky with just a hint of orange flavoring and spotted with cranberries. This recipe can easily be adapted to use other dried fruit or citrus flavoring.

I usually use the zest of an entire large orange to amp up the flavor a bit, and I use
vanilla sugar instead of regular sugar. This time, instead of making the orange glaze, I simply sprinkled each scone with a dusting of demerara (or turbinado) sugar on top of the egg wash. I also like to make my scones on the petite side—(some of the large ones are just too much for me to eat at one time)—so I used a 2 ½-inch fluted cookie cutter. Since they were smaller, I baked them for no more than 18 minutes.

Thanks to Em of
The Repressed Pastry Chef for selecting this month’s
Barefoot Bloggers Bonus Recipe Challenge. I love any excuse to make these scones!

Cranberry Orange Scones, Barefoot Contessa at Home

4 cups plus ¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
¾ pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash

½ cup confectioners' sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, ¼ cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and ¼ cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough ¾-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn't stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners' sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Contessa's Curried Couscous

I was pretty excited to see this Barefoot Bloggers recipe selection, chosen by Ellyn of Recipe Collector and Tester. McHubby and I eat couscous pretty frequently. I love that it takes virtually no time or effort to make and is consistently tasty and comforting. I was further delighted when I checked my pantry and cabinets to discover that I practically had all the ingredients already—“how easy is that?” as Ina would say.

What a treat this dish turned out to be! I have never added so many ingredients to my couscous before—it was like a salad. The carrots, onions, and almonds gave it a crunchy texture while the curried yogurt sauce added a rounded smoky body to the mixture. So delicious!

Source: Curried Couscous, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

1 ½ cups couscous
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 ½ cups boiling water
¼ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup small-diced carrots
½ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ cup dried currants or raisins
¼ cup blanched, sliced almonds
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
¼ cup small-diced red onion

Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in the boiling water and pour over the couscous. Cover tightly and allow the couscous to soak for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous, and mix well with a fork. Add the carrots, parsley, currants, almonds, scallions, and red onions, mix well, and season to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lettuce Cups with Tofu and Beef

These lettuce cups are so flavorful and delicious, you’d never know you were eating healthy! It’s a fun but messy meal, since you eat with your hands. We had it for dinner, but this could easily be an appetizer, like many restaurants offer. If you’re unsure about the tofu, rest assured that you really don’t even taste it—it simply acts as a healthy “filler” ingredient, (low in calories and fat; good source of protein, calcium, magnesium, and iron).

I added a tablespoon of honey to the sauce to sweeten it just a bit. I also added a dash of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to the skillet mixture. For a hint of heat, we topped our lettuce “bowls” with
Sriracha sauce before folding the leaves over.

There are a number of variations you can do with this recipe. You can substitute ground chicken, pork, or turkey for the meat. Use shrimp if you prefer a seafood flavor. For a vegetarian version, omit the beef and double the tofu, or even add rice.

Source: Lettuce Cups with Tofu and Beef, Ellie Krieger

1 tablespoons bottled chili-garlic sauce
1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sherry or Chinese cooking wine
8 ounces extra-firm tofu
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
4 scallions, greens trimmed and reserved, thinly sliced (about ⅓ cup each greens and whites - ¾-ounce each)
½ pound lean ground beef (90 percent or leaner)
½ cup finely diced water chestnuts
1 large head Bibb lettuce, outer leaves discarded, leaves separated
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
¼ cup chopped peanuts

In a bowl, whisk together chili-garlic sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar and sherry.

Slice the tofu into ½-inch thick slabs and lay the slices on top of paper towels. Use more paper towels to firmly pat the tofu in order to remove as much water as possible. This should take about 2 minutes and use about 3 paper towels. Finely mince dried tofu and set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok or extra-large skillet over medium heat. Add the ginger and scallion whites and cook until scallion whites are translucent and ginger is fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add ground beef and tofu and cook, stirring, until beef is opaque and just cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add reserved sauce. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring, an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Add water chestnuts and stir to incorporate.

Fill each lettuce leaf with the filling. Serve garnished with scallion greens, red peppers, and peanuts.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Herbed Lentils with Spinach and Tomatoes

McHubby and I have been trying to get back to eating healthier again. I found this recipe and thought it would make a great side dish. The herbs in this dish create a fragrant bouquet and add wonderful flavor to the lentils.

Herbed Lentils with Spinach and Tomatoes, Ellie Krieger

1 cup French lentils
2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons diced shallots
3 cups baby spinach leaves (about 3 ounces)
1 cup halved grape tomatoes (about ½ pint)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the lentils in a pot with the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes, until the lentils are tender but still retain their shape. Drain any excess water from the lentils and set them aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until they are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, lentils, basil, parsley, and mint to the pan and stir to combine. Cook until warmed through, about 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice, salt and pepper and serve.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lemon-Garlic Herbed Chicken

This lovely chicken dish imparts the aromas and flavors of the lemon, garlic, and herbs from soaking in the marinade. The preparation is so easy, it takes only minutes to make the marinade.

You can also place the chicken pieces in a freezer bag with the marinade so that it is ready whenever you want to have an effortless weeknight dinner.

Source: Lemon-Garlic Herbed Chicken,
Complete Outdoor Living Cookbook, Williams-Sonoma

¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus sprigs for garnish
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme, plus sprigs for garnish
3 cloves garlic, minced
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 frying chicken, about 3 ½ lb, quartered
1 cup water

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, soy sauce, chopped rosemary and thyme, garlic, shallot, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until well blended. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Add the chicken quarters and turn to coat evenly. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours.

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F. Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and place on a rack in a large roasting pan. Pour the 1 cup of water into the pan. Roast, basting occasionally with the reserved marinade up until the last 10 minutes of cooking, until golden brown and the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced, 45-50 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh away from the bone should register 180 degrees F.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a transportable serving platter. Garnish with the herb sprigs, then cover with aluminum foil until ready to serve. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Salmon Fillets over Couscous

This is one of my favorite salmon dishes. It’s a healthy, delicious, Mediterranean-inspired recipe that doesn’t require a lot of time to prepare, perfect for a weekday meal.

I had a few extra ingredients on hand that I wanted to use up, so I added sliced red peppers and shallots on top of the fish. Also, to cut some calories, I used minimal butter, just for a hint of flavor and moisture.

Salmon Fillets over Couscous, Bobby Deen

Olive oil
4 (4-ounce) pieces salmon
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Couscous, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add a drizzle of olive oil to glass pan and place the salmon. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime over the top of the salmon and sprinkle with the House Seasoning. Top with pads of butter. Wrap in the foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve on a bed of couscous.

2 ¼ cups water or chicken stock
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons butter
10 ounces couscous
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup green onions

Combine water or chicken stock, salt and butter in a saucepan, over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir in couscous. Add diced tomatoes, crumbled feta, and green onions. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Uncover, fluff with a fork, and serve hot or cold.