Saturday, December 19, 2009

Arugula and Cheese Pseudo-Frittata

Weekend breakfast is an ongoing experiment.  I wasn't in the mood today to bake muffins or scones and I was lacking the ingredients for a decent Tex-Mex breakfast (how did I run out of cheddar? and when did I stop keeping meat in the apartment?).  I turned to epicurious in search of inspiration.  I've never made a frittata before, but it sounded good.  The only problem was I only had two eggs and my smallest skillet would make a rather sad frittata with only two eggs, so I turned it into a baked egg dish instead (I'm beginning to think I need to pick up some ramekins after Christmas as I've fallen in love with the individual sized dishes).

I didn't have fontina cheese on hand, but I did have some leftover cheese (St. Aubin) from an evening of baguette and cheese.  The reviews also stated the dish lacked flavour and I wanted to add more vegetables.  Unfortunately, I haven't been stocking my kitchen this week with all of the holiday craziness, so I opted for some sun-dried tomatoes that I had in the fridge.  A little meat in this would probably also be amazing.  Finally, I wanted super fluffy eggs, so I added in some cream and milk (no half-and-half in the fridge).  For seasoning, I mixed in some garlic powder, onion powder, and italian herb mix with the eggs.

My version of the recipe below!

Arugula and Cheese Pseudo-Frittata (inspired by epicurious)


1 tbsp olive oil
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp heavy cream
cheese, rind removed, cut into cubes
chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Brush a small, individual sized baking dish with olive oil.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and italian seasoning.  Stir in cheese cubes.
3. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with arugula.  Top with sun-dried tomatoes or other meat and vegetables of choice.  Drizzle with remaining olive oil.
4. Pour egg mixture into the baking dish.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until eggs have puffed and are fully cooked.

Mediterranean Couscous and Lentil Salad

In anticipation of a week of unhealthy eating (poutine, milkshakes, rum-soaked cupcakes ... oh my!), I decided I should try a healthy lunch for the week.  The original recipe includes mint which I skipped on.  I was also too lazy to chop the cherry tomatoes and arugula (I just bought arugula for salad) and it all worked out.

Mediterranean Couscous and Lentil Salad (from epicurious)


1 cup lentilles du Puy (French green lentils) or brown lentils
3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup couscous
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
1 large garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 bunch arugula, stems discarded and leaves washed well, spun dry, and chopped
2 cups vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 pound feta, crumbled (about 1 cup)

1. In a small saucepan simmer lentils in water to cover by 2 inches until tender but not falling apart, 15 to 20 minutes, and drain well. Transfer hot lentils to a bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Cool lentils completely, stirring occasionally.
2. In a saucepan bring water to a boil and add couscous and salt. Remove pan from heat and let couscous stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil and cool completely, stirring occasionally.
3. In a small bowl whisk together garlic paste, remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, remaining 3 tablespoons oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir lentils and dressing into couscous. Chill salad, covered, at least 3 hours and up to 24.
4. Just before serving, stir in remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper.

Cream of Tomato Soup

When I lived in DC, I didn't cook much.  One of my frequent dinners was a cream of tomato and parmesan bisque (bought) with some oyster crackers and cheese ... healthy right?  I haven't seen that soup in stores since I moved here, so I'm on the lookout for something I can make that's similar.  This isn't it (even with some cheese added in), but it is delicious.  I skipped on the brandy/sherry as I didn't have any, but I'm leaving it in the recipe below because I assume it would be good.  The original recipe is also more complex, but my simplified version is below.  While straining would result in a better texture, it's very time consuming (and I need a strainer that actually strains!) and I don't know that the difference is worth it ... maybe if you're cooking for company.

 Cream of Tomato Soup (from Smitten Kitchen) (Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook)


2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained, 3 cups juice reserved
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Pinch ground allspice
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups chicken stock, homemade or canned low-sodium
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons brandy or dry sherry
Salt and cayenne pepper
grated cheese (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450°F. Lined rimmed baking sheet with foil. With fingers, carefully open whole tomatoes a bowl and push out seeds, allowing juices to fall into bowl. Spread seeded tomatoes in single layer on foil. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to color, about 30 minutes. Let tomatoes cool slightly, then peel them off foil; transfer to small bowl and set aside.
2. Heat butter over medium heat in large saucepan until foaming. Add shallots, tomato paste and allspice. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Gradually add chicken stock, whisking constantly to combine; stir in reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Cover, increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes.
3. Blend together with an immersion blender.  Add cream and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes.  Add grated cheese to taste if desired.  Off heat, stir in brandy and season with salt and cayenne. Serve immediately. (Soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Warm over low heat until hot; do not boil.)

Espresso Chiffon Cupcakes with Fudge Frosting

60 recipes on this thing in a little over 2 months.  Not bad, right?  I've been a little slow in posting this month, but I also haven't been cooking as much because things have been busy.  These are amazing though ... do not pass on this recipe!  The original recipe is a cake, but I turned them into cupcakes, as those are easier to take to deliver and share with people.  The best part of the recipe?  The leftover frosting and syrup!  Even though I halved the fudge frosting, I still had quite a bit left over.  In a stroke of deliciousness, I combined the leftover frosting and syrup into a delicious mixture of butter, sugar, chocolate, espresso, and rum.  A few nights later, I had some friends over for sushi.  Someone brought delicious chocolate chip cookies.  Chocolate cookies + spiked fudge frosting = a little taste of heaven!

Espresso Chiffon Cupcakes with Fudge Frosting (from Smitten Kitchen) (from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes)


1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as soybean, canola or vegetable blend
6 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons freshly brewed espresso, cooled to room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, egg yolks, espresso and vanilla; whisk lightly to blend. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set the dry ingredients aside.
3. In a large mixer bowl with an electric mixture, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium-low speed until frothy. Raising the mixer speed to medium-high and gradually add the remaining half cup of sugar. Continue to beat until soft peaks form; do not whip until stiff or the cake will shirk excessively upon cooling.
Add the espresso-egg yolk mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together just enough to combine. Add one-fourth of the beaten egg whites and fold them in to lighten the batter. Fold in the remainder of the whites just until no streaks remain. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans.
4. Bake the cupcakes for about 18 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
5. Soak the cupcake with Espresso Syrup (below). Ice with Instant Fudge Frosting (below).

Espresso Syrup
Makes one cup
1/3 cup hot, freshly brewed espresso
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark rum, such as Meyer’s
1. In a bowl, stir together the espresso and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the rum and let cool to room temperature.

Instant Fudge Frosting
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
3/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons half-and-half or whole milk
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate, then process until the frosting is smooth (or beat with a stand mixer).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

This is a quick, easy, healthy and delicious alternative to the Pasta Milano.  I followed a reviewers advice and heated the sundried tomatoes in their oil, but next time I think I'd follow the boiling water thing and just reserve the oil for later.  I also added some argula to the mix because I wanted some green in the pasta.  Spinach would probably have worked better.  Finally, I substituted vermicelli for spaghetti and cut back on the garlic.

Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts (from epicurious)


1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 pound vermicelli
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
arugula or spinach
salt and pepper to taste
grated ricotta salata

1. Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water, and set aside to soften for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large covered pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
2. While the pasta cooks, in a small pan on low heat or in a microwave-safe bowl, heat the oil and garlic until golden. Set aside. Drain the sun-dried tomatoes, reserving the soaking liquid. Cut the tomatoes into thin strips.
3. When the pasta is done, drain it and place in a serving bowl. Add the cooked garlic, sun-dried tomato strips, pine nuts, and greens. Toss well. Stir in some of the reserved sun-dried tomato soaking liquid to moisten the pasta, if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, topped with grated cheese.

Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes

Lentils aren't something I grew up eating, so this was my first time making lentils.  Simple recipe, tasty, and perfect for a cold winter day.  I had smaller lentils than what the recipe used, so I ended up with extra liquid and boiled the mixture for an extra 10 minutes with the lid off.  I think it would also make sense to use diced tomatoes instead of whole to skip the step of chopping the tomatoes in the food processor.  I also threw some garam masala in the mix, just because I like it and skipped the fresh thyme in favour of dried because the metro was out.

Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes (from Smitten Kitchen) (from Barefoot Contessa at Home)


2 teaspoons good olive oil
2 cups large-diced yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups large-diced carrots (3 to 4 carrots)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 gloves)
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
1 cup French green lentils (7 ounces)
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon good red wine vinegar

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and the carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.
2. Meanwhile, place the canned plum tomatoes, including the juice, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse several times until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped. Rinse and pick over the lentils to make sure there are no stones in the package.
3. Add the tomatoes, lentils, broth, curry powder, thyme, salt and pepper to the pan. Raise the heat to bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer covered for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Check occasionally to be sure the liquid is still simmering. Remove from the heat and allow the lentils to sit covered for another 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, season to taste and serve hot.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Egg Drop

I was never big on eggs for breakfast before I moved to Montreal, but now that I've been here a while, I can safely say I'm fully hooked.  The brunch choices here on the weekends are amazing ... whether it's feta omelets at Byblos, fancier eggs at Resevoir, or just a skillet full of delicious saltiness at Cartet.  With no brunch plans for the weekend, I decided I should take my own stab at a gourmet (but easy!) breakfast.  Kayotic Kitchen gave me some inspiration, but I didn't have fresh tomatoes on hand and I certainly didn't want to have to use a skillet in addition to the oven dish!  Additionally, since when is breakfast one egg per person, Kay?

No measurements below because I just eyeballed it.  I put all of this is a little 16 oz baking dish and it was the perfect breakfast for one.

Need a vegetarian twist?  Substitute sun-dried tomatoes for the meat and add ricotta salata to the mix.

Egg Drop (inspired by Kayotic Kitchen)


a few slices of prosciutto
grated cheese (I had leftover smoked grueyere and used that)
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cover the bottom of a small baking dish with arugula.
3. Tear/chop prosciutto into strips and layer on top of arugula.
4. Top with a little bit of grated cheese.
5. Crack two eggs on top of the cheese.  If the yolk doesn't break, break it yourself, but don't mix up the egg.
6. Bake in preheated over for 15 minutes or until the egg whites are firm.
7. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.