Sunday, February 28, 2010

Penne with Potatoes and Arugula

There are moments when you've realized you've been changed by where you're living ... perhaps without realizing.  One of mine came when I became irrationally frustrated with Smitten Kitchen referring to arugula as rocket.  It's roquette, I kept thinking to myself.  Why is she calling it rocket if she wants to be fancy?  Only after researching did I realize that, no, in anglophone Europe, it is rocket.  Roquette is only the French spelling.  Perhaps that means I've been in Montreal too long.  Perhaps not.  Regardless, I refuse to call it rocket.  It can be arugula or roquette, but not rocket!

This recipe is good without the cheese, but even better with it.  Simple, but delicious.  I started to put in the red onion, but then realized that mine was well passed its prime.  I didn't miss the onion.  I scaled roughly in half (I think) and used whole wheat pasta and baby russet potatoes.

Penne with Potatoes and Arugula (adapted from Smitten Kitchen) (Adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables)

1/2 pound firm boiling potatoes
About 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
100g arugula
1/2 small red onion, optional
2 cloves of garlic, minced
150g penne or other tubular pasta
1/2 lemon
50g goat cheese or other soft cheese (I used some with garlic and herbs in it)

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Slice the potatoes about 1/3 inch thick and toss them with a small amount of the olive oil, salt, and pepper (I wasn't reading carefully and just drizzled olive oil on top). Spread them in a single layer in an ovenproof dish or on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until they are golden brown and cooked through, about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, wash the arugula, drain, and set aside. Slice the red onion thin. Mince the garlic. Put a large pot of salter water on to boil for the pasta.
3. When the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven and put the pasta on to boil. Heat a saute pan, add some of olive oil, and saute the sliced onion until it is soft and translucent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the arugula and garlic, and saute both until they just begin to wilt and soften. Lower the heat, add the potato slices and rosemary and toss together for a minute or two. When the noodles are done, drain them and add them to the potatoes and onion. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and toss everything together.
4. If using cheese, add the cheese and stir together until melted and coating the pasta and cheese.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Broccoli and Roasted Tomato Pseudo-Frittata

I made this for brunch, but it could easily be a dinner dish instead. 

I've made so many changes from the original that I don't think this really qualifies as the same recipe.  Old baguette was substituted for pasta.  Smoked gruyere seemed better than just Parmesan.  I used roasted cherry tomatoes because I had some sitting in the fridge begging to be eaten, but the original calls for sun-dried tomatoes although I'm sure those would be very good as well.  I reduced the eggs and forgot the milk (you should probably add the milk!).  Garlic powder and Italian seasonings were added for flavouring.  Oh yes, and regular broccoli was used in place of broccoli rabe.  Finally, I need to invest in a cast iron skillet so I can make a frittata.  Instead, I just layered everything in a shallow 9" disposable pie plate and placed it in the oven.  It fit the pie plate perfectly.

If you want to add some meat, I think this would also be amazing with a few slices of cut up bacon or prosciutto mixed in!

Broccoli and Roasted Tomato Pseudo-Frittata (loosely inspired by

1 cup cubed baguette (or cooked pasta)
1/4 cup roasted cherry tomatoes (or 2 sliced sun-dried tomatoes)
1 cup chopped broccoli
4 eggs
2 tbsp milk (optional ... I forgot)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasonings
1/2 cup grated gruyere
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp grated Parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Cook broccoli for 2 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
3. Layer a pie dish with baguette cubes, tomatoes, and broccoli.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk (optional - I didn't miss it!), garlic powder, Italian seasonings, gruyere, salt, and pepper.
5. Pour egg mixture over broccoli.  Mix together.  (You may seem a little light on egg mixture at this point.  Don't worry, it will all work out as it bakes!)  Dust with grated Parmesan.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or  until cooked through.

Hockey and Baking

The other meals I made this week created a ridiculous amount of leftovers, but still I had the urge to cook something.  TV has been dominated lately by the Olympics coverage and in Montreal, that means hockey.  I'd never watched a hockey game before moving here.  It's one of those mysterious sports that doesn't really seem at all relevant to Texas where football dominates all other sports.  I'm finding myself getting excited by it though ... and after baking during the two winning Canadian men's games following the defeat to the USA, I decided that it was required for me to bake during the semi-final game.  For the Germany game, it was nutella chocolate lava cake.  For the Russia game, it was a raspberry and lime tart.  For the Slovakia game, it was chocolate cupcakes with espresso buttercream frosting.  I'm also including a bonus lemon buttercream frosting recipe from the cupcakes I made for a movie afternoon last weekend.

Chocolate Nutella Molten Lava Cake (from bell'alimento)

The original recipe makes 4 lava cakes.  I scaled it down to be 1/3 of the original recipe.  The baking dish I used was a little on the large side, so it made one giant lava cake (slightly too much for me to eat alone)... I really need to buy some ramekins!  1/2 tsp of instant espresso powder would probably enhance the flavour nicely, but I was making this late at night and didn't bother.

2 oz of semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 tbsp of Nutella
2 tbsp of Flour
~3 tbsp of Unsalted Butter
1 whole eggs + 1 additional egg yolks
2 tbsp sugar

1. Melt butter and chocolate in the microwave (or a double-boiler if you're feeling fancy).  Stir until fully melted and well combined.
2. Place the eggs & sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer. With the whisk attachment mix on medium-high speed until they become light & thick (about 8-9 mins).
3. When light and thick, add flour to the eggs and mix.
4. Slowly and carefully, pour the chocolate into the egg mixture.  Mix on low until well combined and develops a glossy sheen - about 5 or 6 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a ramekin with cooking spray.
6. Ladle batter halfway up the side of the ramekin.  Spoon nutella into the ramekin.  Cover with remaining batter.
7. Bake for 10 - 14 minutes until outside is solid and top is soft, but not jiggly.  Invert on a plate and serve.

Raspberry and Lime Custard Tart (from epicurious)

I needed to use up some limes, raspberries, heavy cream, a pie shell, and eggs and found this gem.  The original includes a recipe for the pie shell, but I'm not enough of a baker to make them myself and just used a premade shell.

1 9" pie shell
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
4 teaspoons finely grated fresh lime zest
1 cup raspberries
1/4 cup sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Whisk together 1/2 cup sugar, heavy cream, eggs, lime juice, and lime zest.
3. Pour custard into tart shell. Reduce oven heat to 250F.  Bake tart on baking sheet in middle of oven 30 minutes and transfer to rack to cool. (Custard will continue to set as tart cools.)
4. In a small saucepan cook 1 cup raspberries and sugar over moderately low heat, mashing with a fork and stirring occasionally, 5 minutes and pour through a fine sieve into a small bowl, pressing hard on solids.  Discard solids and cool raspberry mixture.
5. Pour cooked raspberry mixture over custard.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Margarita Risotto

One evening, I had a craving for margarita grilled chicken. I had two problems though. First, it's more of a warm weather dish though or at least it certainly doesn't feel like grilled chicken weather right now in Montreal. Second, I don't know of a single restaurant around here where I can get a decent margarita grilled chicken and grilling is an impossibility for me right now (I realize I could fry it, but that would also involve buying chicken!).  I think I've been making too many risottos, because in an odd flash I decided it could be adapted into a risotto ... without the chicken.  Surprisingly enough, this recipe is a little on the bland side, but I think it's still worth experimenting with ... maybe a sharper cheese next time or a little more tequila, cumin, and chili pepper.  I mixed in a little bit of sugar with the lime, but would have preferred to use honey if I'd had some on hand (I'm not entirely sure where mine went to!).

Margarita Risotto


1 red onion, diced (or a white onion)
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup tequila
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder (I used ancho)
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (Rotel would be preferred if you have them available)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 lime, zested and juiced
3/4 tsp sugar (a tsp of honey would probably be better)
1 tbsp butter
1 cup grated cheddar (Monterrey Jack would also be excellent)
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a medium pot, combine diced tomatoes (with juices) with 3 cups of water and bring to a simmer.
2. In a separate large sauce pan, heat olive oil.  Saute onion and garlic until soft.  Do not brown. 
3. Add pearl barley.  Stir and brown for 1 minute or so.
4. Add in tequila, cumin, chili powder, and oregano.  Stir, letting until tequila is evaporated/absorbed.
5. Ladle in one cup of tomato/water mixture.  Stir.  Simmer until liquids have been absorbed.  Then add in more tomato mixture.  Continue ladling in tomato, stirring, and simmering until the pearl barley is cooked, about 30 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine lime zest, juice, and sugar.
7. Add corn, black beans, and lime mixture to the barley mixture.  Stir.  Heat until beans and corn have been heated through.
8. Remove pan from heat.  Add in butter and cheddar.  Stir until butter and cheese have melted into the barley.  Cover and allow to meld for 2 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cauliflower, Chickpeas, and Tomato Couscous

The original recipe is less than inspiring.  I think it lacks flavour and just looks slightly bland.  I wasn't planning on posting it, but at the last minute as I was packing for lunch with leftovers, I added some arugula to the mix.  With some greens in it and a night of marinating, it's worthy of a post.  If you don't have arugula, I think spinach would also work well.  The other keys to this recipe for me were the roasted tomatoes and feta.  Sadly, I originally made the recipe using only the grape tomatoes I had on hand that hadn't gone bad yet.  Tonight I'm correcting that by adding in some roasted cherry tomatoes!  I threw in some chickpeas because they'd been soaking in the fridge and I didn't want them to go bad.  Couscous just seemed like a natural base to the recipe.

Cauliflower, Chickpeas and Tomato Couscous (loosely adapted from Steamy Kitchen)


1 tablespoon tomato paste (I would probably add more when making it again)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus extra for the tomatoes)
1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets and dried very well
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
large pinch ground cinnamon
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced (I used a small red onion)
2 dried bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks (I skipped on this since I didn't have any on hand)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup couscous, cooked according to package directions
1 cup cooked chickpeas or 1 can, drained
cherry tomatoes
feta cheeese
a few handfuls of arugula

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Cut cherry tomatoes in half.  Place on a baking dish face up.  Drizzle with a little olive oil.  Sprinkle on salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings if wanted.  Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until shriveled up.  If you're using dried chickpeas, cook them now as well!
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, mustard, water and vinegar. Set aside.
3. In a large heavy pot over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until very hot. Add the cauliflower florets and the onion. Season with salt and pepper and dust with cinnamon. Toss and saute until the onions are nicely golden and softened, about 4 minutes.
4. Stir in the tomato paste mixture and add the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and thyme. Partially cover, turn the heat to medium-low and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 10-15 minutes, depending on how small you cut your florets.
5. While the cauliflower is cooking, cook the couscous according to the package directions.
6. When the cauliflower is cooked, add in the drained chickpeas and simmer for a few minutes.  Remove from heat.  Mix in arugula and roasted tomatoes.
7. Serve cauliflower mixture on a bed of couscous and top with crumbled feta cheese to taste.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Peanut Butter and Nutella Brownies

I originally made a version of this recipe when I was craving chocolate and peanut butter.  I had found the original peanut butter brownie recipe on epicurious, but didn't feel like making a pan of brownies.  Then I saw that Love and Olive Oil had turned them into cupcakes and that seemed inspired.  After making them, I wasn't too impressed by the brownie part or the chocolate layer on top, but the peanut butter layer was divine (I used creamy peanut butter because I've never been big on crunchy things in brownies).  I resolved to try again, but this time using a different brownie recipe and nutella instead of the top chocolate layer.

I made the mistake of not trying these (long story!) after experimenting, but I heard later that they were good, so I'll go ahead and post it.  The directions for the nutella layer are VERY approximate as I wasn't measuring anything at that point (why do I bake late at night?) and I'm fairly sure my hand slipped.

You might want to double or increase slightly the peanut butter and nutella layers as they didn't cover the brownie plate very well.

Peanut Butter and Nutella Brownies
a combination from Smitten Kitchen and Love and Olive Oil

Brownie Layer
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Peanut Butter Layer
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/8 cup powdered sugar
pinch salt
pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon whole milk (I think I used heavy cream because I didn't have whole milk, but I'm really not sure)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Nutella Layer
1/2 cup nutella
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar (VERY approximate, I just kinda poured some in, I figured nutella was already sweeter than peanut butter, but the sugar helps spread the layers better)
pinch salt
1/2 tablespoon whole milk (I think I used heavy cream because I didn't have whole milk, but I'm really not sure)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract  (I'm fairly sure my hand slipped here and I accidentally ended up with more vanilla!)

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
2. Melt the butter in the microwave.  Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl.  Stir.  It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added. [Note, the original calls for simmering it all together, but I was in a hurry.]  Let the mixture cool slightly so you don't cook the eggs!
3. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.
4. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.
5. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
6. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes [It took closer to 30 for mine.].  Allow brownies to cool.
7. Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter and butter in medium bowl to blend. Beat in powdered sugar, salt, and nutmeg, then milk and vanilla.  Spread over cooled brownies.
8. Using electric mixer, beat nutella and butter in medium bowl to blend.  Beat in sugar and salt, then milk and vanilla.  Spread over peanut butter layer.  [I suspect if you waited and gave the peanut butter layer time to set by refrigerating, you might end up with distinct layers, but I didn't have that kind of time, so my top two layers were more of a swirl of peanut butter and nutella.  I don't think anyone minded!]

Broccoli, Red Pepper, and Cheese Chowder

I haven't been cooking much lately, because life seems to keep throwing challenges in my way.  Would you believe this is the only dinner I've cooked more myself in nearly two weeks?

The original has been modified a bit based on what I had on hand.  You can pass on the chickpeas (they don't add much) unless you have some lying around.  I'm also on the fence about adding a chipotle pepper to the soup.  It added spice, but may have been a bit over powering.  I was quite happy though with substituting ricotta and gruyere for cheddar though and highly recommend it!

Broccoli, Red Pepper, and Cheese Chowder (adapted from epicurious)


1 small head broccoli (1/2 pound)
1 large boiling potato (1/2 pound) [I used 4 baby potatoes]
1 large onion, chopped [I used a red onion]
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces [I used 1 canned slow-roasted bell pepper]
l large garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup ricotta
3/4 cup grated gruyere cheese (I used smoked)
1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce chopped (optional)
1 cup cooked chickpeas (optional)

1. Discard tough lower third of broccoli stem. Peel remaining stem and finely chop. Cut remaining broccoli into very small (1-inch) florets. Cook florets in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking, then drain. Reserve 3 cups cooking water for chowder.
2. Cut potato into 1/2-inch cubes. Cook potato, onion, bell pepper, broccoli stems, and garlic in butter in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Add cumin, salt, pepper, chipotle pepper, and mustard and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
4. Add reserved cooking water and simmer (partially covered), stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
5. Stir in cream and cheese and cook, stirring, until cheese is melted, then season with salt and pepper.
6. Purée with an immersion blender. Add florets and chickpeas and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes with Mint Cream

This is bliss in a cupcake.  I accidentally ended up over-whipping the cream so it turned into butter, but it was still delicious.  I made these the night before and let the mint butter and liquid cream soak into the cupcakes overnight.  I think it was even better that way.  The insides became gooey and minty.  Either way though, these are definitely worth a try.

These made 12 cupcakes for me, but I think it all depends on how fluffy your egg whites get.

Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes with Mint Cream (from Smitten Kitchen) (Cupcakes very generously adapted a Bon Appetit recipe; whipped cream brilliance via a Claudia Fleming recipe)


Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons  unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon espresso or instant coffee powder
3 large eggs, separated
6 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

White Chocolate Mint Cream
2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
3 ounces heavy whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

Get the white chocolate mint cream ready for later (I ended up just microwaving to save dirtying a dish):
1. Place the white chocolate in a small bowl.
2. Bring the cream to a simmer, pour it over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute to melt the chocolate.
3. Whisk well. Add the peppermint extract and whisk again.
4. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the cream. Chill until very cold, about two hours.  (I didn't chill this long, perhaps that's why it didn't whip properly!)

Make cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 standard-size \muffin cups with paper liners.
2. Stir chocolate, butter and espresso powder together in heavy medium saucepan over low heat mostly melted, then remove from the heat and whisk until it is fully melted and smooth.
3. Cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.
4. Using electric mixer (I hand mixed for this part as I don't have a hand mixer) beat egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until mixture is very thick and pale, about 2 minutes.
5. Briefly beat lukewarm chocolate mixture, then vanilla extract, into yolk mixture.
6. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form (this is where I busted out the stand mixer).
7. Gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and all of the salt, beating until medium-firm peaks form.
8. Fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions.
9. Divide batter among prepared cups, filling each three-fourths of the way.
10. Bake cakes until tops are puffed and dry to the touch (some may crack, embrace it) and a tester inserted into the centers comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a cooling rack, where the cupcakes will almost immediately start to fall. It will be all the better to put your mint cream on them.

Finish your masterpiece:
1. Beat mint white chocolate cream with electric beaters until soft peaks form.  (or get frustrated and walk away only to discover your mixer is making butter like I did!)
2. Remove cupcakes from pan, arrange on a platter. Fill each sunken top with a healthy dollop of white chocolate mint cream. Top with shaved dark chocolate, if you’re feeling fancy.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sun-dried Tomatoes, Spinach, Feta, and Pine Nuts ... Two Ways

These are less recipes than variations on a theme, but I'm quite pleased with them, so I'll post anyways.

I was lucky enough to be able to get out of town for the weekend to visit Quebec City for the first time (why did I wait so long to go?  It was amazing!).  On my last night there, the idea of going out to a restaurant just didn't sound that appealing.  Cooking seemed like a much better option, but what to make?  I contemplated just remaking something on here, but that seemed boring ... why not combine?  Pasta with Cauliflower combined with Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts and when my host/tour guide for the weekend suggested added spinach while we were at the store, I knew we had a winner.  Not only was it more colourful than the original cauliflower pasta (and more appetizing looking!), but it also seems healthier since it has more veggies.

Cauliflower Pasta with Spinach, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts
This made enough for 2 of us with leftovers for one lunch.  Onion and herbs would be a nice addition, but the pantry options were limited and I was trying to keep it simple!

1 head cauliflower, separated into florets
250 whole wheat penne pasta
1 bag spinach (I didn't look at the size of the bag)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 - 1/2 cup feta cheese

1. Cook penne according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, place chopped sun-dried tomatoes in a heat-safe bowl.  Pour boiling water over tomatoes and allow to soak while everything else is cooking.
3. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Saute cauliflower in oil until it is browned and tender (about the time it takes to cook the pasta).  Add the garlic when the cauliflower is just about done.
4. Meanwhile, steam and chop spinach.  (If you're more of a baby spinach fan, you could probably save some time and a pot by waiting and mixing it with the pasta and a little bit of the extra pasta water once it's cooked or you could make use of your sous-chef.)
5. Drain pasta.  In a large bowl, mix together pasta, cauliflower, drained sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach.  Crumble feta cheese over the mixture.  Serve onto plates and garnish with toasted pine nuts.

I was sent home from the fabulous weekend with the leftover pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, red wine, and feta (among other things).  While I had intended to go home and go grocery shopping after I got back to Montreal, laziness won out.  The result was the creation of a new risotto using the ingredients I'd brought home along with some sad looking baby spinach that had been abandoned in my fridge.

Sun-dried Tomato and Spinach Red Wine Risotto
This makes about 2 servings ... more or less.


1 red onion, minced
3 tbsp butter, divided
2 cloves roasted garlic, minced
1 cup risotto rice
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
2 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup feta
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1. In a small saucepan, heat chicken broth over medium heat and simmer, not boiling.
2. Heat 2 tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Saute onion until translucent, but not browned.  Add roasted garlic and herbs.  Add rice and saute 1 minute.
3. Add red wine and sun-dried tomatoes.
4. Reduce heat. When the wine has evaporated, add a ladle-full of broth to the rice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir.  When the broth is absorbed, add another ladle-full.  Continue this process.  It will take about 15 - 20 minutes.  Taste rice occassionally and continue adding broth until it tastes cooked.
5. Add spinach and stir until wilted.
6. Remove from heat.  Add 1 tbsp butter and the feta.  Stir.  Place lid on pan, allow to sit for 2 minutes, and then serve.  Top with toasted pine nuts.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cranberry Pecan Bread

I had half a bag of cranberries left over from the cranberry stew and needed something to do with them ... this seemed like the perfect solution.  I had decided that I should make it for a breakfast meeting I'd scheduled at work.  Unfortunately, I'd scheduled the meeting a week in advance and the week of the meeting, I had a family emergency and ended up spending my evening out talking to people.  I got home at 11:30pm, but still needed to bake something!  I couldn't just buy food to bring into work!  Yes, I know I need help.  Thankfully, this recipe is simple enough to make at 11:30 pm. 

No substitutions or changes were made, except for making my own buttermilk (1 cup milk + 1 tbsp vinegar/lemon juice).  To save time, I tossed the pecans and cranberries in the food processor and gave it a few whirls until things looked chopped.

Cranberry Pecan Bread (from Lottie + Doof) (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)


2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped coarse
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2/3 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups cranberries, coarse chopped
1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan; dust with flour, tapping out extra (or if it's midnight when you're filling the pan, grab disposable bake wear and just toss it in.)
2. Stir together the orange zest, orange juice, buttermilk, butter, and egg in a small bowl.
3. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl.
4. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients with a spatula until just moistened. Gently stir in the cranberries and pecans. Do not overmix. (But you should probably not have giant sections of dry ingredients like I did!)  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
5. Bake 20 minutes (or until you get done getting ready for bed and notice that the timer went off at some point while you were elsewhere), then reduce heat to 350F; continue to bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes longer. 6. Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool at least 1 hour before serving (or let cool in the pan until you wake up at 3am and decide to cover it with foil wrap). The bread can then be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for several days.