Monday, August 31, 2009

McHubby’s Guest Blog: Rum-Brown Sugar-Glazed Shrimp with Lime and Cilantro

As we begin to drift into a Hawaiian state of mind, what better way to prepare for our upcoming trip than to enjoy some seafood? As I casually flipped through my favorite cookbook, Boy Gets Grill, a MUST for all men with a grill, I came across this recipe that practically jumped off the page at me. I mean, come on, shrimp, rum, lime, sugar - what more could you ask for? And the topper, this could not have been any simpler!

Source: Rum-Brown Sugar-Glazed Shrimp with Lime and Cilantro, Boy Gets Grill

For the Glaze
1 cup dark rum
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Pinch of salt

For the Shrimp
24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 limes, zest grated and quartered
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Combine the rum and brown sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is reduced by half, (roughly 20-25 minutes). Add the pepper and season to taste with salt. (The glaze can be make a few days in advance, covered, and kept refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Heat your grill to high. Set aside a few tablespoons of glaze for brushing the cooked shrimp.

Brush the shrimp with oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill the shrimp, brushing often with the glaze, until pink, opaque, and just cooked through, 1 ½ to 2 minutes on each side. Remove to a platter and brush with the reserved glaze. Squeeze the lime quarters over the shrimp and sprinkle with lime zest and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

Wedge Salad

I eat salads pretty frequently, but wedge salads are one of my favorites. I love its simplicity and rich flavors, with bacon, blue cheese, and fresh diced tomatoes. It’s fast and easy to assemble as well as economical.

Wedge Salad, Paula Deen

1 head iceberg lettuce, cut into quarters
Blue cheese dressing
1 tomato, minced
2 green onions, chopped
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup cooked bacon, crumbled

On each salad plate, place 1 wedge of lettuce turned on its side. Pour blue cheese dressing on wedge. Sprinkle with tomatoes, green onions, crumbled blue cheese, and crumbled bacon.

Cajun Tempura Okra with Scallion Dipping Sauce

I have to admit that I’ve never eaten okra except as an ingredient in a dish, such as gumbo. But when we received a bag of fresh okra in our CSA share, I was excited to try it in a classic Southern fried dish. I used my candy thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature of the oil as I was cooking. The batter coated okra had a tendency of sticking together while cooking, so you need to work to separate them and not overcrowd the pot.

This was a pretty tasty dish. The tempura batter fried up quite nicely and maintained a good flavor, thanks to the Cajun seasoning. The dipping sauce was a nice cooling element to the hot okra, with a little bit of spice and sweetness.

Cajun Tempura Okra with Scallion Dipping Sauce, Paula Deen

For the Tempura Batter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
16 ounces soda water

For the Okra
Peanut oil, for frying
2 pound fresh okra stem removed and halved
3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt, for seasoning

Scallion Dipping Sauce, recipe follows

Whisk tempura ingredients together and let chill.

Heat peanut oil in deep-fryer or a large Dutch oven to 375 degree F.

In a shallow pie plate, add flour and 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning and mix well.

Season okra with 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning. Dip okra in seasoned flour and then in tempura batter and place in oil, 1 at a time and fry until golden, about 4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined sheet tray. Season with salt.

Serve with Scallion Dipping Sauce.

Scallion Dipping Sauce
16 ounces sour cream
1 cup chopped scallions
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together all ingredients.

Green Tomato and Vidalia Onion Gratin

Since we received Aunt Ruby’s German Green tomatoes in our CSA bag, I wanted to do something special with them. I knew this recipe was what I was looking for. As I assembled the baking dish, layering the sliced green tomatoes with the caramelized onion stacks, crumbling the bacon, sprinkling the cheddar cheese, and finally topping with the bacon-dripping laced bread crumbs, I could not wait to taste this indulging concoction!

The gratin was beautifully browned and bubbling when I pulled it from the oven. When I cut into it, though, there was a fair amount of liquid, likely due to my very large, ripe green tomatoes. Luckily, the flavors were all there—absolutely delicious. Next time, I’ll try to draw out some of the liquid in the tomatoes beforehand.

Source: Green Tomato and Vidalia Onion Gratin, Claire Robinson

¼ pound bacon
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 large Vidalia onions, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
4 large green tomatoes, sliced ¼-inch thick
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
6 ounces sharp white Cheddar, grated, about 1 ½ cups

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Render bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Add the bread crumbs to a small bowl. Remove 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the skillet and stir into the bread crumbs. Add the onion rounds to the skillet in batches and cook, without breaking the round slices apart, until there is some golden color, about 5 to 6 minutes per side.

To assemble the gratin, overlap the green tomato slices in 1 row in a large baking dish, about 9 by 11 inches. Next, make a row slightly overlapping of the partially cooked onion rounds, being careful to keep the slices intact. Repeat steps until all tomatoes and onions are used. Season tomatoes and onions lightly with salt and heavily with pepper. Crumble the bacon over the vegetables; sprinkle the grated Cheddar over the top followed by the bread crumbs. Bake until the cheese is bubbly, about 30 to 45 minutes. If the top is getting too brown, loosely cover with foil.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mini German Chocolate Banana Loaves

I love banana bread and German chocolate cake, and this recipe combines them both. The flavor is amazing! You can taste each element from the bananas to the cinnamon chips within the backdrop of the chocolate cake. I also love the mini loaves—they are a nice size for gift-giving or if you don’t want to have a huge cake around to taunt you!

Source: Mini German Chocolate Banana Loaves, Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor

Vegetable oil spray for misting the pans
Flour for dusting the pans
2 ripe bananas, sliced (¾ cup)
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain German chocolate cake mix
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup cinnamon chips

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly mist six 6-inch loaf pans with vegetable oil spray, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pans aside.

Place the banana slices in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds or until they are mashed. Add the cake mix, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Blend with the electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. Fold in the cinnamon chips. The batter should look well combined, and the cinnamon chips should be evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it equally. Place the pans in the oven.

Bake the loaves until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edges of each loaf, invert them onto your hand, then invert again onto a rack so that they are right side up. Allow the loaves to cool completely, 20 minutes. Then serve.

Store these miniature loaves, wrapped in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, or in a cake saver, at room temperature for up to 1 week. Or freeze them, wrapped in foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw the loaves overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Friday, August 28, 2009

White Pizzas with Arugula

McHubby and I love homemade pizzas, and we especially enjoy white pies. We have made pizza many times, but this is one of the best pizza dough recipes we’ve used. It’s easy—just a matter of throwing the ingredients into a mixer until a ball of dough forms, kneading the dough, and allowing 30 minutes for the dough to rise. The dough can even be made in advance and refrigerated.

We usually cook our pizzas on our grill, but since it was gloomy and raining this evening, we used our pizza stone in the oven. When using a stone, be sure to sprinkle the pizza peel and stone with cornmeal for ease of moving the pizza. The cornmeal acts as tiny ball bearings that allow the pizza to simply slide off the peel onto the stone and vice versa. Also, the stone should be placed in a cold oven before preheating to avoid possible cracking.

Once this pizza is cooked, the crust is a perfect golden brown color with a firm, crunchy bite. The garlic oil enhances the flavors of the three white cheeses. Finally, the pie is topped with a crown of arugula salad tossed with a simple lemon vinaigrette. The salad complements the pizza, both in its fresh, crunchy texture and in its lemony, peppery flavor.

This was a fun and tasty Barefoot Bloggers selection by Andrea of Nummy Kitchen.

Source: White Pizzas with Arugula, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

For the Pizza
1 ¼ cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
Good olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
Kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 cups grated Italian Fontina cheese (8 ounces)
1 ½ cups grated fresh mozzarella (7 ounces)
11 ounces creamy goat cheese such as Montrachet, crumbled

For the Salad
½ cup good olive oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 ounces baby arugula

For the dough, combine the water, yeast, honey, and 3 tablespoons olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of the flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of 
flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl. When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the garlic oil. Place ½ cup olive oil, the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. (Be sure your oven is clean!)

Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each parchment-lined sheet pan. (If you’ve chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.) Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with Fontina, mozzarella, and goat cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.

Meanwhile, for the vinaigrette, whisk together ½ cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

CSA Summer Harvest #8

In our latest CSA bag, we received sweet red bell peppers, spaghetti squash, tomatoes (red, yellow, Aunt Ruby’s German Green), basil, beets, garlic, and eggplant. 

We've been enjoying eggplant all summer, and I continue to try new recipes for preparing them. I made Eggplant Gratin this time. I love all varieties of squash and was very excited about this spaghetti squash. For the Herbed Spaghetti Squash dish, I used the spaghetti squash, garlic, and basil. 

Herbed Spaghetti Squash

I was very excited to see a spaghetti squash in my CSA bag this week. I’ve never cooked one before, but I have tasted it and was eager to try preparing it. I found this Emeril recipe—it looked delightfully simple to prepare and incorporated other fresh herbs. I used chives, basil, and flat-leaf parsley. For more flavor, I also added a minced clove of garlic to the melted butter before tossing in the remaining ingredients.

The bain-marie method of cooking the squash is very effective in allowing a steaming process to take place in the oven. The result is a perfectly cooked squash with a firm texture, not soggy. Using a fork to scrape against the flesh of the squash, the "spaghetti" strands suddenly appear, like a fresh bowl of hot pasta!

Source: Herbed Spaghetti Squash, Emeril Lagasse

1 small spaghetti squash, about 2 ¼ pounds
2 ½ tablespoons butter
2 ½ tablespoons finely chopped mixed soft herbs, such as basil, chives, chervil, parsley and sage
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add enough water to come ½-inch up the sides of the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a paring knife. Turn squash over and cover with foil again and continue to cook another 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool slightly. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Using a fork, gently pull the strands of squash away from the peel and place the squash strands into a mixing bowl.

Heat a skillet. Add the butter, spaghetti squash, herbs, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly but gently to heat and combine. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

White Chocolate Pound Cake

This cake is one of my go-to recipes for making a quick dessert. Our friends and beautiful goddaughter were visiting this weekend, and I wanted to have something for our guests to snack on. This recipe is so fast and easy that I was able to bake this and have it ready to eat in just about an hour. I usually make this cake in a Bundt pan and dust lightly with powdered sugar once cooled. It’s so moist and very vanilla, and it’s always a big hit!

Source: White Chocolate Pound Cake, The Cake Mix Doctor

Vegetable oil spray for misting the pans
Flour for dusting the pans
6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain white cake mix
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure
vanilla extract

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly mist three 8-inch loaf pans with vegetable oil spray, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pans aside.

Heat the chopped white chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat until melted, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool slightly.

Place the cake mix, melted butter, milk, eggs, vanilla, and slightly cooled white chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look well blended. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side.

Bake the loaves until they are light brown and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of the loaves and invert them onto racks. Turn on one side and let cool completely, 35 to 40 minutes, before serving.

Store these loaves, covered in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze the loaves, wrapped in foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Eggplant Gratin

McHubby, who once claimed not to like eggplant, seems to be enjoying this vegetable. We used the fresh eggplant from our CSA bag for this recipe. Instead of making two separate gratin servings, I just made a large one in a casserole baking dish.

I have to say that I was expecting this dish to be similar to the Eggplant Parmigiano I made a while back, but it was actually pretty different—thinner with a crispier crust. The flavors were a perfect blend of the ingredients. McHubby really liked it and even said it is one of his favorites!

Source: Eggplant Gratin, Barefoot Contessa

Good olive oil, for frying
¾ pound eggplant, unpeeled, sliced ½-inch thick
¼ cup ricotta cheese
1 extra-large egg
¼ cup half-and-half
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup good bottled marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat about ⅛-inch of olive oil in a very large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add several slices of eggplant and cook, turning once, until they are evenly browned on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Be careful, it splatters! Transfer the cooked eggplant slices to paper towels to drain. Add more oil, heat, and add more eggplant until all the slices are cooked.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, half-and-half, ¼ cup of the Parmesan, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper.

In each of 2 individual gratin dishes, place a layer of eggplant slices, then sprinkle with Parmesan, salt and pepper and spoon ½ of the marinara sauce. Next, add a second layer of eggplant, more salt and pepper, half the ricotta mixture, and finally 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan on top.

Place the gratins on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the custard sets and the top is browned. Serve warm.

Garlic Hasselback Potatoes with Herbed Sour Cream

The potatoes from our CSA bag were perfect for this dish. So easy to prepare, this recipe is just a matter of making slices into (but not all the way through) the potatoes, slipping in thin garlic slices, tossing with butter and olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper, and baking until crispy.

This is such a delicious side dish! The potatoes are beautifully fanned and fragrant with the garlic. Each fan is wonderfully crisped, like little chips, and the herbed sour cream is the perfect companion condiment.

Source: Garlic Hasselback Potatoes with Herbed Sour Cream, Sunny Anderson

16 ounces red new potatoes
3 to 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Herbed Sour Cream, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Using a wooden spoon as a cradle, place each potato in the spoon and make several parallel slits into each potato top making sure not to slice completely through. Place 3 garlic slices between slits at the crown of each potato. Toss in a medium bowl with butter and olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Bake until tops are crispy and potatoes are cooked through, about 1 hour. Transfer to a platter and top with Herbed Sour Cream.

Herbed Sour Cream
½ cup sour cream
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Season, to taste, and refrigerate until use.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Favorite Tuna Salad

We attended a lovely, intimate luncheon after our goddaughter’s baptism a few months ago. The tuna salad sandwiches had a unique flavor that was so delicious. The secret ingredient in this tuna salad is the crystallized ginger. It adds a sweet, smooth flavor that complements the other ingredients. 

This recipe is my re-creation of the tuna salad. Sometimes, I have substituted a small green pepper for the celery and scallions for the medium onion. If you don't have (or like) tarragon, just use another herb, like chives or parsley.

For a tuna melt, add a slice or two of good white melting cheese, such as Swiss or provolone, and place under a broiler for a few minutes. You can also add lettuce and tomato for more texture and color.

2 (6.4 ounce) packages albacore white tuna
2 stalks celery, chopped
¼ medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger
½ teaspoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped
¼ cup mayonnaise, or to taste
¼ teaspoon seasoned salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Mix ingredients in a medium bowl. Serve on a bed of salad greens or in a sandwich.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CSA Summer Harvest #7

This week in our CSA bag, we received tomatoes, Juliet mini-Roma tomatoes, basil, parsley, potatoes, peppers, and onions. With so many tomatoes, I knew that we had more than we could eat in a week. To preserve some of them, I made Oven-Dried Tomatoes from the Romas. I used tomatoes, onion, and basil in Stuffed Tomatoes Provençal and served over whole-wheat spaghetti. For a lunch dish, I used peppers and parsley in making our favorite tuna salad. Finally, I used the potatoes, garlic, and parsley in Garlic Hasselback Potatoes with Herbed Sour Cream.

Stuffed Tomatoes Provençal

Did I mention that I have a lot of tomatoes? I have been getting tomatoes—beautiful Roma and large, colorful heirloom varieties of tomatoes—every week in my CSA bag lately. So this recipe seemed like a great way to use them up. I subbed sun-dried tomato pesto for the tapenade, since we don’t like olives. This recipe produced a wonderful savory and saucy tomato dish. They were perfect atop a heaping pile of pasta.

Source: Stuffed Tomatoes Provençal, Stonewall Kitchen Harvest

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
6 medium tomatoes (about 4 pounds)
⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons tapenade or olive puree
¼ cup breadcrumbs

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until pale gold, for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the herbs.

Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes in half crosswise. When the onions have cooked for 10 minutes, use a melon scooper or a small spoon to very carefully scoop the flesh out of each tomato half and into the pan with the onions, being careful not to cut into the “shell.” Set the hollowed-out tomato halves aside. Reduce the heat to low and let the tomato-onion-garlic mixture cook for another 10 minutes, or until tomato juices have thickened slightly. Place the tomato halves in a large gratin dish, broiler pan, or ovenproof skillet. Using a spoon, divide the 1/3 cup of the tapenade equally among them, spreading it inside each.

When the onion-tomato mixture is done cooking, remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs. Taste the mixture for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Very carefully, put an equal amount of the stuffing in each tomato shell, pressing down lightly so you get as much stuffing as possible into each one. Top each stuffed tomato with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. (The dish can be made several hours ahead of time up to this point. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.)

Bake the tomatoes for 1 hour, or until the tomatoes look soft. Serve hot, at room temperature, or chilled.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Between the tomatoes in my CSA bag and those in my own garden, I’ve been inundated with tomatoes! Not wanting to allow a single one of my 3 dozen Romas to go to waste, I figured the best way to preserve them would be to make my own sun-dried (or oven-dried) tomatoes, which I use in salads, pasta, pizzas, to name a few dishes. Once dried, you can either store in a plastic zipper-lock bag or in a jar of olive oil. This recipe, while super simple, does take time and requires that you (at least passively) pay attention.

Source: Oven-Dried Tomatoes,
Patricia Wells’ Trattoria

5 pounds Roma tomatoes
Fine sea salt

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Trim and discard the stem ends of the
tomatoes. Halve each tomato lengthwise. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, side by side and crosswise on cake racks set on the oven racks. Do not allow the tomatoes to touch one another. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Place in the oven and bake until the tomatoes are shriveled and feel dry, anywhere from 6 to 12 hours. Check the tomatoes from time to time: They should remain rather flexible, not at all brittle. Once dried, remove the tomatoes from the oven and allow them to thoroughly cool on cake racks. (Smaller tomatoes will dry more quickly than larger ones. Remove each tomato from the oven as it is dried.) Transfer the tomatoes to zipper-lock bags. The tomatoes will last indefinitely.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mango Banana Daiquiris

Cheers to my girl, Ina! McHubby and I enjoyed these delicious blended drinks as our “dessert.” I had to use frozen mangos, since I’m allergic to fresh mangos, and all I could find was a mixed bag of mangos, strawberries, and pineapple. Since the fruit was already frozen, I didn’t have to use as much ice. Our drinks were a little pink from the strawberries, but very tropical and refreshing in the summer heat. Cheers also to Veronica of Supermarket Serenade for choosing this Barefoot Bloggers recipe!

Source: Mango Banana Daiquiris, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

2 cups chopped ripe mango (1 to 2 mangos, peeled and seeded)
1 ripe banana, chopped
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
¼ cup sugar syrup (see note)
1 ¼ cups dark rum, such as Mount Gay
Mango slices, for serving

Note: To make sugar syrup, heat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Chill.

Place the mango, banana, lime juice, sugar syrup, and rum in a blender and process until smooth. Add 2 cups of ice and process again until smooth and thick. Serve ice-cold in highball glasses with mango slices.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

CSA Summer Harvest #6

This week in our CSA bag, we received new potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, red and green Swiss chard, yellow cherry tomatoes, squash, sweet corn, and peppers.

McHubby and I went out of town last weekend to visit family and friends, so I didn’t cook as much this week. I did manage to use the squash to make Grilled Summer Squash Over Spaghetti with Pesto. I used the Swiss chard and potatoes in a Swiss Chard Tart with Potato CrustI used the tomatoes in Caprese Sandwiches With Bacon—the tomatoes were so sweet, juicy, and delicious!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blueberry-Lemon Bars

This recipe was actually for Cranberry-Lemon Bars, but since cranberries aren’t usually harvested until the fall, usually late September or early October, I substituted blueberries since they are in season right now and I just received a bag full of fresh blueberries from my CSA share. These bars were so delicious! It's the perfect bite of something fruity and sweet!

Adapted from: Cranberry-Lemon Bars, Stonewall Kitchen Harvest

For the Blueberry Puree
2 ½ cups (8 ounces) fresh blueberries
½ cup
vanilla sugar

For the Crust
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

For the Lemon Filling
2 large eggs
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Confectioners’ sugar, for topping

To make the blueberry puree: Combine the blueberries and ½ cup of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir and cook until the berries burst and the mixture reduces to about ¾ cup, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a bowl; you should have around ¾ cup. (The puree can be made 1 day ahead of time; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.)

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the crust: Mix the flour and the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Add the butter and, using your hands or a pastry blender, mix well until the butter breaks down into small pea shapes. Press the crust evenly into the tart pan with your hands (it will be very dry and crumbly), building a ½-inch edge up the sides. Bake for 15 minutes and remove the crust from the oven.

While the crust is baking, make the lemon filling: Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar for about 3 minutes, or until they are light in color. Add the baking powder, salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture is light and frothy.

Use a spoon or soft spatula to spread the blueberry puree on the bottom of the hot crust, creating a thin layer. Pour on the lemon mixture and place the tart (in its pan) on a cookie sheet. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. If the top of the pastry begins to turn brown, very loosely place an aluminum foil “tent” over it, being careful not to let the foil touch the tart, or it may stick to the surface. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature in the tart pan. To remove the sides of the plan, gently lift the bottom of the tart up and out of the pan with a narrow spatula. Cut into 16 squares; transfer the squares to a serving plate. Sift the confectioners’ sugar on top before serving.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

CSA Summer Harvest #5

This week in our CSA bag, we received sweet onions, new potatoes, mint, peppers, summer squash, eggplant, and blueberries!

Since I had so many onions in my pantry, I made French Onion Soup. I used eggplant, onion, garlic, and basil in Sausage and Eggplant-Stuffed Shells in a Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce, which was not on our healthy diet but a delicious indulgence! I really wanted to do something special with the mint, so I made Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, McHubby’s favorite ice cream flavor. And with the fresh, sweet blueberries, I made Blueberry-Lemon Bars.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mint chocolate chip is McHubby’s favorite ice cream flavor. So when I got a bag full of fresh spearmint from the CSA share, I thought what better way to use it! McHubby was so excited for this ice cream! He could hardly wait for it to freeze before diving in.

The aroma of the mint came through (and smelled so good) during the process of infusing it with the milk and heavy cream. Be careful when tempering the egg yolks with the custard to ensure you don’t get cooked egg yolks! I added one spoonful at a time of the hot custard to the bowl of egg yolks while whisking away, and continued whisking when returning it to the saucepan for reheating. I added ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract to the cooled custard and cream mixture.

The result was a refreshing, cool, minty ice cream with shaved bits of chocolate—so yummy!

3 cups of fresh mint leaves (not stems), rinsed, drained, packed
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream (divided, 1 cup and 1 cup)
⅔ cup sugar
A pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
6 ounces semisweet chocolate or dark chocolate, chopped fine, keep in the freezer until used

Put the mint leaves in a heavy saucepan with the 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of the cream. Heat until just steaming (do not let boil), remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. Reheat the mixture until steaming, remove from heat and let stand for 15 more minutes.

Strain the milk cream mixture into a bowl, pressing against the mint leaves with a rubber spatula in the sieve to get the most liquid out of them. Return the milk cream mixture to the saucepan. Add sugar and salt to the mixture. Heat until just steaming again, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.

Whisk the egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Slowly pour the heated milk cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the warm mixture, but not cooked by it. Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Return the saucepan to the stove, stirring the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take about 10 minutes.

Prepare the remaining cream over an ice bath. Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a medium size metal bowl, set in ice water (with lots of ice) over a larger bowl. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowls. Set aside until the custard is thickened. Pour through the strainer and stir into the cold cream to stop the cooking.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (at least a couple of hours) or stir the mixture in the bowl placed over the ice bath until thoroughly chilled (20 minutes or so). Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Once the ice cream has been made in the ice cream maker it should be pretty soft. Gently fold in the finely chopped chocolate. Put in an airtight container and place in the freezer for at least an hour, preferably several hours. If it has been frozen for more than a day, you may need to let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften it before serving.

Sausage and Eggplant-Stuffed Shells in a Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce

I love Emeril’s food, but I seldom make it. So many of his recipes have such a long list of ingredients and require a great deal of time and effort. However, I was looking for another way to use the eggplant we received in our latest CSA bag, and this recipe had such rave reviews.

I wouldn’t say this recipe was difficult to make, but it does take time and coordination. I did take a shortcut and just used frozen chopped spinach instead of blanching and chopping it myself. The nice thing is that you could make some of the components, like the sauce or the sausage-eggplant mixture, ahead of time and simply assemble when you’re ready.

This was absolutely delicious! And it makes a large casserole so it provides lots of tasty leftovers. With three cups of heavy cream and three different cheeses, it’s not exactly the lightest dish, but everything in moderation, right?

2 tablespoons olive oil
¾ pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 cups chopped onion
1 large eggplant, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 7 cups cubed)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
½ cup ricotta or mascarpone cheese
12 ounces fresh spinach, blanched, squeezed dry, and chopped (about ⅔ cup chopped)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
¼ teaspoon sugar
½ (12-ounce) package jumbo pasta shells (about 18 shells)
2 cups Italian crushed tomatoes
3 cups heavy cream
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
4 ounces coarsely grated Fontina cheese

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the sausage until golden brown, stirring to break up the pieces, about 6 minutes. Add half of the onions and the eggplant, season with ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the vegetables are lightly caramelized and very soft. Add 1 tablespoon garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

When the mixture has cooled to room temperature, stir in the ricotta or mascarpone cheese, spinach, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, and sugar. Stir to combine well.

Lightly grease a deep 9 by 13-inch casserole or lasagna pan and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta shells until just al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Pat shells dry. Stuff the pasta shells with the sausage-eggplant mixture and place in the prepared casserole dish.

In a large saucepan, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat and sauté the remaining chopped onions until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, remaining ¾ teaspoon salt, and remaining ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add the heavy cream and cook until the sauce is reduced in volume by about ⅓, about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add the basil to the sauce and pour the sauce over the shells in the casserole. Sprinkle with the Fontina cheese and the remaining Parmesan. Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the sauce is lightly browned in spots and bubbly around the edges, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

French Onion Soup

We have received so many fresh sweet onions from our CSA share that I developed a craving for some French onion soup. According to Wikipedia: “Onion soups have been popular at least as far back as Roman times. They were, throughout history, seen as food for the poor people, as onions were plentiful and easy to grow. The modern version of this soup originates in France in the 18th century.” This is a classic comfort food, with the wonderful sweet flavor of caramelized onions topped with fresh crusty baguette slices and browned, melted cheese.

I used sweet yellow onions instead of red onions, since that’s what I had, and I bought farm fresh leeks and a baguette from the farmer’s market. The process of caramelization requires a bit of patience—it takes about 30-45 minutes to allow enough time for the sugars in the onions to develop and brown, but that’s what gives the sweet, complex flavor in this soup.

While beef stock is the traditional way to make this soup, you could substitute chicken stock for a lighter version or vegetable stock for vegetarian.

French Onion Soup, Williams-Sonoma Soup

2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
4 large red onions, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon sugar
4 leeks, including tender green portions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups beef or chicken stock or prepared broth
½ cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
12 baguette slices, each ¼ inch thick
¾ cup shredded Gruyère or Comté cheese

In a large non-aluminum saucepan over medium-low heat, warm
the oil. Add the onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 15 minutes. Add the sugar and leeks and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until richly colored and caramelized, 30 to 45 minutes. (You may need to increase the heat to medium to add some color at the end.)

Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the stock, wine, bay leaf and thyme. Cover partially and simmer until the flavors are well blended, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

To serve, preheat the broiler. Ladle the soup into individual flameproof soup bowls. Place 2 or 3 slices of bread on top of each bowl and sprinkle with the cheese. Slide under the broiler about 6 inches from the heat element. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.