Easter

We had a beautiful Easter here in Maryland.  The weather was just perfect.  And after the winter we’ve had (and much of the East Coast has had the same), it’s nice to be finally turning the corner on Spring.

My family has never been that into Easter as either a religious holiday or as a traditional ham dinner holiday, but we do like to get together and hang out.  A few years ago we started doing a non-traditional Easter dinner and now it’s our tradition.  The first year was a Curry Cookoff, last year we made a variety of pizzas and this year I decided we were going to have a taco night.  It went very smoothly but I was so busy, I forgot to really take any pictures of the meal.  So you’ll have to settle for what few pictures I did take.

How cute is my nephew dyeing eggs and giving them to Dingo?  I think both Dingo and Hudson ate a few too many hardboiled eggs.

Donnie & Dingo photo 2 (1) Hudson even puked in the middle of the night but I don’t know if it was the eggs or the enormous bone that he got in his Easter basket.  Aren’t the doggie Easter baskets cute?  Neither one was sure why they were being given a basket of toys and treats,but once they figured out they could have it all, they tore into it. doggie easter basketsI actually had a lot of fun picking things out for their baskets.  Dingo of course got the ninja bucket because she uses her ninja-like powers to sneak onto the bed in the middle of the night.

Have you ever had Salsa Verde?  It was just one of the 4 kinds of salsa that I made for our Taco Night, but it might be my favorite. salsa verde

Salsa Verde

 

  • ½# Tomatillos, husks removed
  • Jalapeno or Serrano pepper, to taste
  • 2 Shallots
  • 2-3 cloves Garlic
  • 1 Lime, halved
  • ¼ C Cilantro, roughly chopped
  1. Cut tomatillos and peppers into a large dice.  Halve the shallots, keeping root end intact to hold together.
  2. Combine all ingredients except cilantro in a small bowl.  Lightly coat with oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Roast under the broiler or over a grill until everything is soft and tomatillos are slightly charred, approximately 8 minutes.
  4. Let cool slightly.
  5. Pulse all ingredients, including cilantro in food processor or blender, adding up to ¼ C water, as needed.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Salsa VerdeI just recently started roasting/grilling limes and lemons for my salsas and it adds such an interesting complexity.  You should totally do this!

Ok here’s the last picture.  It really has nothing to do with Easter but it was an amazing dinner I made for myself the other day completely out of leftovers.  It looks so yummy, I want another one now.  I love bread.  My love of bread has basically been my paleo downfall.  I keep thinking I can stick with paleo and then a baguette comes and smacks me in the face and makes me it’s b!tch.  Alas…

sandwich

 

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Cooking Frenzy Weekend

Last week my work schedule changed and it’s really throwing me off.  I barely managed to make dinner 2 nights the whole week!  I felt terrible about it and was kind of kicking myself for being so lazy, so this week I am determined to do a better job.  On Saturday, I menu planned the crud out of the week.  It looked something like this:

  • Sunday: Risotto with Braised Squid
  • Monday: Grilled Chicken Thighs with misc. Grilled Vegetables
  • Tuesday: Gluten Free Pizza
  • Wednesday: Grilled Flank Steak with Roasted Tomatoes
  • Thursday: Coconut Shrimp with Mango Red Pepper Chutney and Grilled Pineapple
  • Friday: Birthday Party
  • Saturday: Savage Mill Crossfit Outing

And like the best plans, it is already off.  I couldn’t get the squid ink that I wanted and it ended up delaying the risotto until last night.  I also chickened out on buying $20 worth of ingredients needed to make the gluten free pizza recipe, so we’ll probably scrap that. By tomorrow night, I should be back on track.  And yes, I realize that that means I will only do two days of my plan.  That’s ok with me, as long as I’m not going out to eat a whole bunch.

Sunday evening I did a ton of prep work for the week.  Most of it was boring stuff like chopping vegetables but I did make a few things that I really got excited about.

This is savory granola.  It was inspired by a recipe that I saw in Bon Appetit but then I completely reworked it because I didn’t want the oats in it and I wanted to only use things in my pantry.  Luckily, my pantry is always chock full of a variety of nuts.  Savory Granola

Savory Granola

  • 3 1/2 Cups Assorted Raw or Blanched Nuts (I used sliced almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds pumpkin seeds and pistachios)
  • 2 T Fennel Seeds
  • 1/4 C Sesame Seeds (especially pretty with black and white mixed)
  • 1-2 t Chipotle Powder (could sub cayenne, but reduce it a bit)
  • 1 t Kosher Salt
  • 1 Egg White, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
  2. Mix nuts, seeds, chipotle and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together egg white and oil.  Pour over nut mixture and stir until all nuts and seeds are covered.
  4. Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden, approx. 40 minutes.  Stir halfway through.

I cannot stop eating this stuff!!!  I was really making it to go on salads in place of croutons or something else crunchy, but now it is sitting on my counter and I take a handful of it every time I pass by.

I also braised the squid for the risotto that we ended up eating last night.  It sounds so fancy, but honestly, it couldn’t have been easier.  And it was spectacular.  I could have eaten just the squid, no risotto and been perfectly happy.

Braised Squid

  • 1.25 lb Squid, tubes cut into 1/2″ rings, tentacles cut in half
  • 1/4 C Butter
  • 1/4 C Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 C Dry White Wine
  • 1 T Parsley, chopped
  1. Melt butter and heat with the oil in a medium sauce pan (not like me – I started with a small one before realizing it was going to quickly overflow) over medium heat.
  2. Sweat the onions until they are translucent but not at all browned.
  3. Add the squid and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the wine and parsley and then simmer over low heat for 45 minutes.
  5. Season… I’d tell you how much salt to add but I really have no idea.  I avoided seasoning the squid at this stage because I was planning on adding it to the risotto.  Seriously, it was that good without salt.  Next time I’m just making the squid.  Squid Risotto and Salad

During all this I also made some Romesco Sauce .  I love that stuff!  We will be eating it on roasted cauliflower for dinner tonight.  On Sunday I ate it on a piece of dark rye with a sliced hard boiled egg.  What a snack! romesco and toast

Sour Cream Ice Cream

How is it Thursday already? The days are flying by this week. Upside: The weekend is almost here. Downside: i don’t have anything to show for all this time that has slipped away.
I meant to post this recipe after the Cheesemaking class that Rob and I did, but I’m only getting around to it now. I made the recipe with quark, which is a soft-ripened cheese that is whipped. It tastes a lot like sour cream, so I instantly thought of this recipe that was passed on to me by one of the chefs that I work with – shout out to Neil! Since it very unlikely that I will have quark in my home again, I’ll make this next time with sour cream.  It is the richest ice cream and it tastes like ice cream and cheesecake got together and made a heavenly cheesecake ice cream baby.

Sour Cream (or Quark) Ice Cream

  • 5.25 oz sugar
  • 4 yolks
  • 12 oz heavy cream
  • ½ t salt
  • 12 oz sour cream (or quark)
  • 1 t vanilla or 1 vanilla bean
  1. Bring salt and cream to simmer. Meanwhile, whisk yolks and sugar in a separate bowl.
  2. Remove the cream and salt from the stove and pour a small amount (about 1/4 cup) of hot cream into the eggs, whisking vigorously.  Once this is all incorporated, do it again with another 1/4 cup or so.  The idea here is to warm up the eggs, without cooking them.  Add the rest of the hot cream and whisk.
  3. Pour the cream and egg mixture back into the pot and turn the heat back on to low.  Continue cooking while stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until it begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.  Run your finger along the back of the spoon and if the mixture is thick enough to hold the line you traced, it’s thick enough to pull of the heat.  Don’t overcook it!
  4. Stir in sour cream and vanilla until combined.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1-2 hours.  Or if you’re in a hurry (and who isn’t when it comes to ice cream), pour it into a large ziplock bag, squish out the air and submerge into ice water until it is cold, about 20 minutes.
  6. Spin your ice cream according to the directions for your ice cream maker.  Mine requires that I freeze the base for 24 hours and recommends spinning for 25 minutes.  Freeze overnight.

Yield: 1-1 ½ quarts

Since it tasted so much like cheesecake, I paired it up with a graham cracker crust and some raspberry sauce.  Heavenly… Sour Cream Ice Cream

In other news, our living room went from this: photo 2

To this: photo 3

It still needs a little styling but I’m in love!  They are so comfy and much more modern than our old couches.  Much more my style.

Will Winter Ever End? and Grilled Vegetable Dip

Broken record alert.  I am so sick of winter.  We have had so much snow this year.  And then it gets nice.  And then it snows.  Rinse and repeat.  Ugh!!  I’m over it.

So this happened on Monday. Last snow storm of 2014

And like I have done for nearly every snow day this year (and there have been many), I decided to dive in and bake and cook.  Except almost everything was a failure.  First I made macaroons.  They came out so ugly that I had to eat them all before Rob came home.  Luckily the dogs were more than willing to help. ugly macaroons

Then I made mayonnaise and broke it a record 3 times!  I finally got it right but I was so pissed by the end that I couldn’t even appreciate it.  I turned it into one of my favorite paleo lunches – tuna and peppers.  photo 1

photo 3And then I struck gold!  Grilled Vegetable Dip.  It’s almost like a cross between hummus and baba ghanoush but better because it used up things I had in my refrigerator.  Here’s what I did:

Grilled Veggie Dip

Grilled Vegetable Dip

  • ~1 lb. mixed vegetables – I used zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and portabella mushrooms
  • oil – my choice, 100% olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 T tahini
  • misc. chopped herbs – parsley, chives, thyme, dill, rosemary
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • bonus points: 1 oz. goat cheese

1. Slice the eggplant and squash into 1/4″ thick slices.  Remove the stem and gills from the mushrooms.

2. Drizzle the vegetables with oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper.  Grill on each side until cooked but not falling apart.  Truth be told, my vegetables were the leftovers from dinner the night before.  Veggies shrink down quite a bit when they are cooked, but I started my dip-making with about 2 cups of grilled veggies.

3. Put the cooled veggies, lemon juice (start with half and add more as needed), tahini and herbs into a food processor and pulse a few times until it is consistently chopped.  If you’re adding the goat cheese, do it now.

4. Turn the food processor on to run consistently and stream in a few tablespoons of evoo until it comes together into an emulsified dip.

5.  Taste it and adjust the salt and pepper.  Try not to eat it out of the food processor directly.  Honestly, this got better the second day, so I’m really just trying to help you out here.

This dip is awesome with all sorts of raw veggies.  You could spread it on a sandwich if you were a sandwich eating type person.  I bet it would be good in a salad.  Mostly I’ve been eating mine off of a spoon, straight out of the fridge.

Ramen 3 Ways

So my first teaching gig was a success!  I got very nervous right before.  They had predicted this big snow storm to hit so I worried that lots of people wouldn’t show up.  And then I worried that they would and I would have a full class of people that were looking to me to be the expert.  In the end, there was only one no-show and everyone seemed to have a great time, including me.  And then I had a whole snow day to recover!

But I know what you really want is the recipes, right?

Tantan-men (Chicken Sesame) Ramen

chicken ramen

Shrimp Ramen  (Wish I’d taken a picture of this one)

Sesame Tuile Cups & Green Tea Ice Cream  4

Marinated 6 Min Eggs

Marinated 6 Min Eggs
6 eggs
1 C Water
1 C Sake
½ C Soy Sauce
½ C Mirin
½ C Sugar

1. Poke a hole in each egg with a pushpin.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Turn down to medium and immediately add eggs. Cook for 6 minutes. Be careful to not let it boil too vigorously or eggs may break.
3. After 6 minutes, remove eggs and put in ice bath. When cool enough to handle, gently peel eggs. They will be soft, but the whites will be set.
4. Whisk remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Add eggs. Make sure eggs a submerged.
5. Let sit for 4-12 hours. After 12 hours, remove from marinade and store covered until ready to use.

Sesame Tuile Cups & Green Tea Ice Cream

Sesame Tuile Cups Sesame tuile cups
4 oz Sugar
2 oz Butter, softened
2 oz Egg Whites
2 oz Flour
2 T White Sesame Seeds
2 T Black Sesame Seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 350 ⁰.
2. Whisk together sugar and butter. Add egg whites in stages, whisking to incorporate between each addition. Whisk until smooth and clump free.
3. Add flour and mix with a spatula. Add sesame seeds and mix to incorporate.
4. Spread evenly and thinly into a circle onto a silpat using an offset spatula. This will work best if you use a plastic stencil. This could be the top of a takeout container.
5. Bake until edges start to brown, approximately 5 minutes. Watch carefully!
6. Pull out of the oven and let sit for 45 seconds. Remove from pan and drape over a glass with a small opening to form the cup shape. If they cool too much while doing this, put back in the oven for 30-60 seconds to soften again.
7. Let cool completely and remove from the cup. Fill with you favorite ice cream or berries.

Green Tea Ice Cream 4
Makes 1 quart
4 C Milk
Green Tea Matcha*
3 oz Sugar
5 Egg Yolks

1. Whisk together the milk and matcha. Heat to a simmer. Turn off the heat.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar and egg yolks until the yolks lighten in color.
3. While continually whisking the eggs, pour a small amount of hot milk mixture to the eggs to temper the eggs.
4. Add the warmed egg mixture to the milk mixture while whisking vigorously. Put pot on over medium low heat.
5. Stir continually with a wooden spoon. Be careful not to let it boil or burn. When the mixture has thickened slightly and coats the back of a spoon, remove from the heat.
6. Cool mixture over an ice bath. Add to ice cream maker and follow instructions on freezing ice cream.

*Amount of Green Tea Matcha will vary by brand. Use the amount recommended on the package for the amount of milk being used.

Tantan-men (Sesame Chicken) Ramen

Tantan-men (Sesame Chicken) Ramen
Serves 4chicken ramen

Sesame Tare, see recipe below
8 C Vegetable or Chicken Stock
1 knob of Ginger, sliced
2-3 cloves of Garlic, smashed
4 Baby Bok Choy, halved
3 T Vegetable Oil, divided
1 lb Ground Chicken
Soy Sauce
Sambal, or other chili paste
2 knobs of Ginger, minced
1-2 cloves Garlic, minced
8 oz Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced
3 packages of Ramen Noodles, preferably fresh
Marinated 6 min Eggs
For Garnish:
Scallions, thinly sliced
Chives, thinly sliced
Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half

1. Heat stock to rolling boil. Add sliced ginger and smashed garlic. Remove stems from mushrooms and add to the pot. Keep stock at a simmer while preparing the rest of the items.
2. Heat 1 T vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add boy choy, cut side down. Let sear for 2 minutes until golden. Add 2 T of water, cover and reduce temp to low. Let steam until cooked and slightly wilted, about 3 minutes. Season to taste. Remove from pan and set aside until ready for assembly.
3. Heat pan back up over very high heat. Add 1 T of oil and sliced mushrooms. Let cook with moving until they brown on one side and start to release moisture. Toss and let cook for 1-2 minutes more. The goal is to get them crispy without being dried out. When finished cooking, season with salt and remove from pan. Set aside until ready to assemble.
4. Heat pan back up over medium high heat. Add 1 T of oil and ground chicken. Cook chicken through, breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon. When fully cooked, drain off excess oil. Add back to pan and add soy sauce, sambal, minced ginger and minced garlic. Season to taste.
5. Cook ramen according to package instructions.
6. Strain the stock and keep very hot. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.
7. When ready to serve, spoon a heaping tablespoon of the sesame tare into each bowl. Whisk with hot stock. Add noodles, bok choy, mushrooms, egg cut in half, and chicken. Top chicken with chives and add scallions and tomatoes at the last minute. Serve right away.

Sesame Tare
½ C Sesame Seeds
¼ C Soy Sauce
2 T Sugar
2 T Chili Oil, to taste
1 knob Ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 Spring Onions, roughly chopped
½ C Sesame Paste (tahini)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process until fully combined. This will keep in the refrigerator for at least one week.