Monday, March 29, 2010

Peanut Curry Noodles with Seared Shrimp & Scallops

This is a quick, but delicious weeknight dinner.  I realized while eating that it's been a while since I made anything even remotely Asian and I think I've missed it.  I skipped on the scallions and cilantro, but I'm sure they'd be a nice addition.

Peanut Curry Noodles with Seared Shrimp & Scallops (from Love & Olive Oil) (from Rachel Ray)

1 lb noodles
5 tablespoons vegetable oil or peanut oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 inches ginger root, minced or grated
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 to 1/3 cup tamari dark soy sauce
2 rounded tablespoonfuls red curry paste
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup light coconut milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoons five-spice powder
12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 diver scallops, trimmed and patted dry

1. Heat a large pot of water for noodles. When water boils, add noodles and cook according to package directions.
2. While noodles cook, heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil. Add garlic, ginger, red bell pepper, and pepper flakes to the pan and cook together a couple of minutes, then add peanut butter and melt it. Whisk soy into peanut butter, then stir in curry paste. Turn down the heat to low. Add sesame oil, coconut milk, and brown sugar and stir until combined.
3. Heat a small to medium skillet over high heat. Rub seafood with spice powder. Add 3 tablespoons of remaining oil to hot skillet. Place the shrimp in the pan and cook 1 minute, flip and sear the other side until just opaque. Remove shrimp to a plate and set aside. Add another 3 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and heat back up to smoking. Add the scallops and sear on both sides until opaque. Remove scallops and add to the plate of shrimp. [I was lazy and had a bad of shrimp and scallops combined and just cooked it all at once.]
4. Drain noodles and return to pot. Add the sauce and toss thoroughly. Serve noodles on plates and top with seafood.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pear, Prosciutto, and Goat Cheese Pizza

You might notice a few non-vegetarian dinners in the next few weeks.  I'm going to be trying to put some meat and seafood back in my cooking.  We'll see how this experiment goes.

Originally, I had planned on using a pre-made pizza crust to make this recipe, but when I got to the grocery store, I couldn't find any.  I know where the crusts were at before they moved into the new expanded space, but I'm at a complete loss as to where they're hiding in the new, magical, expanded, and wonderful store!  Rather than ask, I decided to try making my own pizza crust.  I'm glad I did as this one was delicious and not at all like a traditional pizza crust.  It is, however, time intensive to make this crust, so you have to plan ahead (or just use a pre-made one and then this becomes a remarkably quick and easy meal!).

I made the following changes to the recipe.  For the crust, I left out the fennel and used white flour instead of unbleached due to pantry constraints (when I couldn't find the crust at the store, I took a chance that I had everything I needed at home!).  I passed on the onion in the pizza, because while I love the taste of onion, I'm not too crazy about strips of onion on my pizza (yes, I'm weird).  Finally, I added some arugula to the pizza because I thought it needed some green.  The arugula taste was overpowered by the other ingredients, but I'm sure more greens can't be bad for me!

Pear, Prosciutto, and Goat Cheese Pizza (from love and olive oil)

3/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast (from 1 envelope)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (about) unbleached all purpose flour [I used white]
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds [I skipped]
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 firm-ripe pear, halved, cored, and cut into thin slices
8 very thin prosciutto slices, torn into pieces
3 oz soft mild goat cheese, crumbled [I used some with herb seasonings]

1. To make crust, pour 3/4 cup water into large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over; stir to blend. Let stand 10 minutes to dissolve yeast. Add oil, salt, and herbs, then 1 1/2 cups flour. Stir until well blended (dough will be sticky). 2. Turn dough out onto generously floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding just enough flour to prevent dough from sticking, about 5 minutes (dough will be soft). Shape dough into ball; place in large oiled bowl and turn to coat.
3. Cover bowl with kitchen towel. Let dough rise at cool room temperature until almost doubled, about 2 hours.
4. Punch dough down; form into ball. Return to bowl; cover with towel and let rise until doubled, about 3 hours.
5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Punch down dough. Form into ball; place on floured work surface. Cover with kitchen towel; let rest 30 minutes. Sprinkle rimless baking sheet with cornmeal. Roll out dough on floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to baking sheet. [I used a pizza stone and let it heat with the oven and then very careful transferred the dough to the hot stone.]
6. Bake crust for 5-7 minutes or until just set, pressing down any large bubbles that might form [Be careful!  The crust will be ridiculously hot]. Remove from oven and quickly brush crust with olive oil and top with arugula, pear, prosciutto, and cheese.
7. Bake pizza until crust is crisp and cheese begins to brown, 15-18 minutes. Transfer pizza to board. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Lemon Sabayon

Some days I think I bake just to distract myself.  This was one of those days.  It's a bit of work, but the lemon-ness of this is amazing.  There's a pine nut pie crust recipe if you follow the original link, but I opted for using pre-made bite-sized lemon tartlettes.

I made no changes to the original recipe, except for cooking it much longer than originally stated in the recipe and skipping the broiler step.  It took closer to 20 minutes before I thought it was thickening and after adding the butter, I wasn't too certain this was going to firm up, but it did and it's perfect!  I was tempted to add lemon zest, but after tasting the final product, I'm glad I didn't.  It's lemony enough on its own!

Lemon Sabayon (from epicurious)

2 large eggs, cold
2 large egg yolks, cold
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Guacamole Burger

This burger was inspired by my trip to Atlanta and dinner at the Vortex.  The Vortex features many unhealthy, but delicious things on its menu, such as tater tot fondue.  One of the burgers caught my eye though ... guacamole burger.  While waiting to order, I was asked if I was a vegetarian.  The question amused me, if only because a good steak continues to be my favourite meal.  However, as I started to explain that I'm not, but I don't really cook with meat that often, I realized I'm closer to vegetarianism than I've ever been.  And as I looked at the description of the guacamole burger, it hit me that it's really the perfect set-up for a black bean burger instead of beef.  Beans go so much better with guacamole than beef (If you're more traditional with regards to burgers, you should check out this one.  Once upon a time, it was my go to burger recipe.)!

I decided to bake this burger rather than fry/grill it.  I took other people's suggestions and added an egg to keep it together better, but it made my mixture a bit too liquidy so I needed to add more breadcrumbs.  It might've been because my breadcrumbs were a bit large (pulverized old baguette from the freezer) or because I didn't use canned beans (I used 1/2 cup dry, soaked, then cooked, and added 1/2 tsp of epazote for good measure).  I wasn't too impressed with the burger itself, but the combination is too good to stop me from sharing!

This recipe makes 2 large burger patties.

Guacamole Burger (loosely adapted from epicurious)


  • 1 15- to 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained

  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion

  • 1/4 cup dry breadcumbs

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup bottled chunky salsa

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 15- to 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained

  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion

  • 1/4 cup dry breadcumbs

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup bottled chunky salsa

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 15- to 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained (or 1/2 cup dry, see above)
    1/3 cup chopped red onion (or 1/2 tsp onion powder)
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1/4 cup dry breadcumbs
    2 tablespoons salsa (the original calls for chunky, but I used some smooth tomatillo salsa)
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 egg
    enough guacamole to slather two burgers
    cheese of your choice (Monterrey Jack was my first choice, but I decided to use the cheddar I had wasting away in the fridge)
    2 hamburger buns

    1. Preheat oven to 350F.
    2. Mash beans in medium bowl.
    3. Mix in onion (powder), garlic powder, breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons salsa, and cumin. Stir in egg if using.  Season with salt and pepper.
    4. Using moistened hands, shape bean mixture into two 3- to 4-inch-diameter patties.
    5. Place on baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
    6. Top patties with cheese.  Put in buns and slather with guacamole.  Garnish with additional toppings if desired.

    Grapefruit Yogurt Cake

    This is a cake worthy of my 100th post.  The only thing I regret about this cake is not making it sooner!  I left off an additional sugar glaze, but other than that followed the recipe exactly.  Don't wait 6 months like I did to make this!

    UPDATE: This was so good, when I was trying to decide what to make for an office breakfast meeting, I couldn't come up with a better idea than making this again to share.  I realized this is the first new recipe of the year that I've repeated ... I thought might be a stronger endorsement than the original and decided to share!

    Grapefruit Yogurt Cake (from Smitten Kitchen) (Adapted loosely from Ina Garten)

    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
    1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
    3 extra-large eggs
    3 teaspoons grated grapefruit zest (approximately one large grapefruit)
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1/3 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
    2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, grapefruit zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
    3. Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup grapefruit juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
    4. When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the grapefruit-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

    Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

    For some reason I couldn't find orzo at the store (maybe I was blind), so I substituted acini di pepe which is an adorable little pasta.  It seemed a little oily to me, so I might cut back on the oil next time.  Other than that, the only other major change I made was eating it while it was still warm instead of letting it cool.

    Orzo with Roasted Vegetables (from picky cook) (adapted from Ina Garten)

    1 red bell pepper, 1-inch diced
    1 yellow bell pepper, 1-inch diced
    1 zucchini, 1 -inch diced
    3 carrots, 1 -inch diced
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    1/3 cup good olive oil
    1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 pound orzo or rice-shaped pasta

    For the dressing:
    1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
    zest of 1 lemon - grated
    1/3 cup olive oil
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    To assemble:
    pint of grape tomatoes - halved
    1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
    feta - or sprinkling on top

    1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
    2. Toss the first set of ingredients (excluding the orzo) together on a large sheet pan. Roast for 30 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula. 
    3.Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.
    4. For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables.
    5. Add the pine nuts, feta, and grape tomatoes.  Check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature or still warm.

    Saturday, March 20, 2010

    Eggs en Cocotte with Pesto

    Our beautiful weather here has given way to a grey and depressing day ... right in time for the weekend!  But that's okay, I need to rest this weekend and get over this head cold that doesn't seem to want to leave.  At least the weather will no longer be a temptation to go outside.

    So in lieu of a delicious brunch out, I decided to make my own.  I've changed this recipe quite a bit from the original, so feel free to click the link for a different take on this dish.  Eggs en Cocotte should be cooked with one egg in an individual ramekin, but I wanted a heartier breakfast and decided to use a slightly larger dish and eat it all.  If you have some bread and other breakfast sides, I'd say this serves two, but if this is your entire brunch, this is a serving for one.

    Eggs en Cocotte with Pesto (very loosely adapted from Ceramic Canvas)

    1 tbsp butter
    2/3 cup potato, finely diced into cubes (you can do a larger dice, but will need to cook it longer)
    1/4 tsp onion powder
    dash of dried thyme
    2 cups baby spinach
    2 large eggs
    2 tbsp red pepper pesto (or other pesto of your choosing)
    2 tsp heavy cream
    Salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
    2. In a medium sized nonstick sauté pan, melt butter.  Add potatoes, thyme, and onion powder and cook until the potatoes are almost cooked through, about 7 minutes for a fine dice.
    3. Add spinach and cook for a couple more minutes until spinach is wilted.
    4. Place the potato/spinach mixture in baking dish or dishes.  Spoon on pesto. Crack eggs into dish/dishes and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spoon cream over each egg.
    5. Put ramekin(s) in a shallow baking pan and bake, rotating pan halfway through baking, until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 15 to 20 minutes, removing from oven as cooked.

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

    I'm trying to get back in the habit of recipe planning ... instead of just seeing something I like online and impulsively having to make it.  This is the start of hopefully a week of planned meals ... cross your fingers!  The great thing about tonight's meal is that you can make it in the time it takes to cook the pasta.  It doesn't get much better than that.

    Of course, despite my best intentions (making a list and everything!), I failed to remember to buy fresh parsley, so I skipped it for my version.  It was still good.  I'm leaving it in the recipe below in the thought that it'd probably be even better with parsley.  My only other major change was cutting the toasted pine nuts in half and substituting Parmesan cheese for the other half.  What can I say? I like cheese.  I also added some baby spinach to the mix because it's healthy and green.

    Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto (from The Perfect Pantry with a nice background on pine nuts!)

    1 lb pasta (I used just enough fusilini for one serving and saved the extra pesto for other purposes!)
    1/4 cup pine nuts
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan
    340 mL/12 oz roasted red peppers
    1/2 cup firmly packed fresh parsley leaves (assuming you are less grocery challenged than me)
    3 Tbsp olive oil
    1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
    1 pinch of mild red pepper flakes (optional, to taste or crushed chili if you prefer a little spice like I do)
    2 cloves garlic, peeled
    1/4 tsp kosher salt
    1/8 tsp ground black pepper  
    2 handfuls of baby spinach per serving

    1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook pasta according to package directions.
    2. While the pasta is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a dry nonstick frying pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, shaking or stirring frequently, until the nuts are just lightly browned. Add the nuts to the food processor, along with all remaining ingredients except spinach. Blend until smooth. (Can be made ahead.)
    3. Drain the pasta, but do not rinse. Add to a large bowl.  Stir in spinach.  Add in as much of the pesto as you like to coat the pasta, and stir to combine. Garnish with reserved parsley leaves. Serve hot or at room temperature.

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    Simple Tomato Sauce

    I was torn between just relaxing tonight and picking up sushi and cooking (after spending 3 hours at airports, 3 hours on planes, and 1 hour stuck in traffic leaving the airport).  Fortunately for me, I wanted leftovers for work, so I decided to finally make a simple tomato sauce recipe that seemed too simple to be worth all the raving.  (I also may have felt a bit guilty about what I've been eating lately and wanted to control the ingredients ... yesterday included deep fried peach pie, tater tot fondue, and a guacamole burger ... mmm).  I think I built this sauce up too much in my head, but it was still delicious and definitely worth a try!

    Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions (from Smitten Kitchen) (Adapted from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking)


    28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes from a can
    5 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
    Salt to taste

    1. Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
    2. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes.
    3. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, discard the onion, add salt to taste and keep warm while you prepare your pasta.
    4. Serve with spaghetti (or whole wheat penne), with or without grated cheese.

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    Mango and Avocado Salad

    My apologies in advance as I think the next week and a half will be a little light on recipes as I'm playing a game of cleaning out the fridge before taking a long weekend away from everything. I had a small plan for what I was going to make this week, but as Monday rolled around, those thoughts flew out of my head ... and I decided I needed to use up some of the things left over from Oscar night!

    Tonight's dinner is a recipe I saw on foodbuzz's top 9 (I think, it might've been foodgawker though!).  Originally, a friend was looking for suggestions on what to do with some extra avocados and this popped into my head.  I couldn't resist the chance to try it myself.

    If you're making this as a main meal, I'd put some citrus-y grilled shrimp with it.  I envision it with shrimp and wish there had been some extra shrimp hiding in my fridge or freezer!  I skipped the tortilla strips here and subbed some orange juice for the orange zest.

    Mango and Avocado Salad (from Food and Style)

    For the vinaigrette
    1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest (use a microplane grater)
    1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (use a microplane grater)
    2 teaspoons lime juice
    1 tablespoon Gold or Reposado Tequila
    1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
    3 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco to taste
    1/8 teaspoon sea salt

    For the salad
    2 bunches arugula – root ends trimmed, rinsed and spun dry
    1 large ripe mango – peeled, cheeks cut in 1/8” slices
    1 firm, ripe avocado – peeled and cut in 1/8” slices
    1. To make the vinaigrette – place the zests, juice, Tequila, vinegar, oil, Tabasco and salt in a small bowl and whisk until well blended. Set aside.
    2. To serve, place a few leaves of arugula in the center of each plate. Drizzle with half the vinaigrette. Top with slices of avocado and mangoes, alternating them and slightly overlapping the slices. Drizzle with the balance of the vinaigrette.

    The Oscars are just another excuse to bake!

    I don't normally pay much attention to the Oscars.  Sometimes I manage to have it on in the background, but actually paying attention to it?  I can't remember the last time that happened ... until this year.  This year, I decided it was the perfect excuse to have people over for dessert and managed to watch all of the Oscars!

    We ended up with quite a spread ... cheese, more cheese, hummus:
    See the thing that looks like orange juice?  That's a mango margarita.  Before Christmas, one of my friends suggested everyone bring back an alcoholic beverage from the holidays that is typical of their home.  We're a fairly diverse group, so it seemed like a great idea.  I thought about bringing back some Lone Star, but really when I think of Texas and alcohol, I think of frozen margaritas.  The international liquor party hasn't happened yet though and I'd gotten impatient to try the mango margarita recipe I found ... so I decided the timing was right for mango-y goodness.

    After the cheese, came the chocolate.  One person made the chocolate souffle cupcakes again (and did a better job with the cream than me!).  Someone else brought some delicious chocolate and cream cheese cupcakes:

    But what was I going to make?  I'd been on a lemon streak the week before and felt a little burnt out on citrus (it might've had something to do with making a batch of lemon curd, not being entirely happy with it, so not sharing it, and then finishing it all myself!).  I also wanted to make something that wasn't easily transportable, because isn't that one of the benefits of hosting a party?  I thought about the cappuccino fudge cheesecake that I've wanted to taste for the past three months, but it seemed a little too involved for a weekend where the weather is so perfect all you want to do is spend time outdoors!  Finally, I settled on mint lava cakes from a new blog that I think may soon become a favourite.  Success!

    Chuy's Mango Margaritas (from Robb Walsh's The Tex-Mex Cookbook)
    Note: This cookbook is amazing for giving some background on the glories of Tex-Mex cooking and the fact that this recipe is associated with one of my favourite Austin places for gigantic burritos and queso just makes me incredibly happy ... although Baby A's does have slightly better margaritas IMO!  This recipe makes 2 margaritas according to the notes ... scale up!

    2 shots silver tequila
    1 shot Cointreau
    1/4 fresh mango, peeled and chopped
    1/2 cup fresh orange juice
    juice of 1/2 lime
    1 cup crushed ice

    1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until slushy.

    Note: The original recipe says it makes 36 cupcakes.  I cut it in half and used it to make 8 lava cakes in souffle dishes.  I probably would've been better off making 6 as the cakes were a little short!  For the peppermint ganache, I thought about scaling in half, but then decided I might as well use up the dark chocolate so ended up scaling to 3/4.  I had a little ganache leftover ... not necessarily a bad thing!  The original recipe is included below.

    2 cup sugar
    2 cup flour
    1 cup cocoa
    1 tspn salt
    2 tspn baking powder
    2 tspn baking soda
    2 eggs, beaten
    1/2 cup veggie oil
    1 cup milk
    1 cup boiling water (I substituted some freshly brewed espresso)
    peppermint dark chocolate ganache (recipe below)

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. In a mixer bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Combine thoroughly.
    3. In a separate bowl, beat eggs.  Add veggie oil and milk.  Mix to combine.
    4. Add the eggs, oil, and milk to the dry ingredients, beating to combine thoroughly.
    5. Add boiling water or coffee/espresso.  Combine thoroughly.
    6. Fill the souffle dishes 1/2 full.  Place a tbsp or so of peppermint ganache in the middle of the batter.  Cover the ganache with a tiny bit more of batter.  Be careful not to overfill the molds, as they will overflow.
    7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until done.  (The toothpick test probably doesn't work here, since the insides are filled with chocolate ganache.  Use your sense of smell, your intuition, and make sure the cakes aren't jiggly before you pull them out!)

    Dark Chocolate Peppermint Ganache (the original calls for peppermint schnapps and candy canes ... I skipped these)
    8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
    3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
    2 Tbpsn butter
    1 tbsp peppermint extract

    1. Place chopped dark chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl.  Set aside.
    2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cream and butter.  Stir and bring to just barely a boil.
    3. Remove the cream mixture from the heat and pour over the prepared dark chocolate.  Allow to sit for two to three minutes, then stir until the chocolate melts into the cream.
    4. Stir in the peppermint extract.
    5. Allow the ganache to set in the fridge overnight before use.  (I was running behind and stuck it in the freezer for a while to harden.  If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have cooled it to let it harden as it made it a little too difficult to scoop into the souffle dishes!).

    Saturday, March 6, 2010

    Scrambled Eggs with Broccoli Pesto

    I think I'm slightly enamored with the broccoli pesto recipe I made for dinner this week.  I thought about consigning the leftovers to some baguette, but then I found some scrambled egg tips.  What better way to try out the scrambled egg tips than with the broccoli pesto?  I think the result was a resounding success ... if you don't mind slightly green eggs!  This is a 1 person serving. 

    Scrambled Eggs with Broccoli Pesto


    2 eggs
    1/2 tsp ground mustard (according to the tips, mustard brings out the natural flavours of the eggs)
    2 tbsp broccoli pesto
    1 tsp butter
    salt and pepper to taste
    crumbled feta (optional, but delicious!)

    1. Heat a small non-stick frying pan on low.  Do not add butter yet as you want the pan to heat evenly first.
    2. In a small bowl, combine eggs, mustard, and pesto.  Blend with a hand mixer for 20 - 30 seconds or until the pesto is blended uniformly.  The point of the mixer is to get as much air into the eggs as possible.  They should be foamy when you're done.
    3. While the foam settles, melt the butter in the pan.  When the butter begins to bubble, add the eggs.
    4. For smaller curds, stir continuously.  For larger curds, let the eggs settle a little before stirring.  Do not overcook.  Remove from heat while they still look slightly damp as they'll continue to cook after they've been taken off the heat.
    5. Serve.  Salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with some crumbled feta.

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    Double Broccoli Quinoa

    It's a beautiful thing when recipes you've been anticipating for awhile turn out well.  I'd never made quinoa before, but I think I'm a fan ... at least when it's smothered with broccoli pesto.

    The recipe only calls for using 1/2 of the broccoli pesto, so you could cut it in half.  I ended up adding more than half to the quinoa and it's so delicious that I think I'm more than okay with having leftover pesto in the fridge (broccoli pesto and baguette anyone?).  The only change I made to the recipe was substituting pine nuts for almonds and not topping with extra pine nuts outside of the pesto.  I'm sure the almonds are great, I was just in a pine nut mood!  The original suggests topping with fire oil (red pepper + olive oil).  I didn't do that, but I think the added heat would make this meal even more amazing.  I did follow her suggestions of adding sliced avocado and feta cheese.

    Double Broccoli Quinoa (from 101cookbooks)

    3 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup cooked according to package)
    5 cups raw broccoli, cut into small florets and stems
    3 medium garlic cloves
    1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
    1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
    2 big pinches salt
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup heavy cream
    Optional toppings: 
    sliced avocado
    crumbled feta

    1. Heat the quinoa and set aside.
    2. Now barely cook the broccoli by pouring 3/4 cup water into a large pot and bringing it to a simmer. Add a big pinch of salt and stir in the broccoli. Cover and cook for a minute, just long enough to take the raw edge off. Transfer the broccoli to a strainer and run under cold water until it stops cooking. Set aside.  (I kept it on for slightly longer as I prefer broccoli a little more cooked!).
    3. To make the broccoli pesto puree two cups of the cooked broccoli, the garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, salt, and lemon juice in a food processor. Drizzle in the olive oil and cream and pulse until smooth.
    4. Just before serving, toss the quinoa and remaining broccoli florets with about 1/2 of the broccoli pesto. Taste and adjust if needed, you might want to add more of the pest a bit at a time, or you might want a bit more salt or an added squeeze of lemon juice. Turn out onto a serving platter and top with some sliced avocado and feta.

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010


    Happy Texas Independence Day.  My inspiration for dinner tonight was from epicurious.  You can click the link if you want to be slightly scared, but really, all they manage to do is make a ridiculously simple dish seem difficult.  Tostados are anything but difficult.

    I have a confession to make.  I didn't grow up on Tex-Mex.  My mom's from Alabama and even though I lived in Texas from birth until I was 25 or 26, I didn't become a Tex-Mex fan until high school... and then I became an addict.  Ethnic cuisine was not something that was really done in our house and sadly Tex-Mex fell into that category.

    I was probably in high school when I had my first tostado.  I was over at my boyfriend's house when his mom started making them.  She wasn't much of a cook (shake-n-bake and box macaroni were specialties), so I watched closely figuring I might learn something that was easy to make.  First, she browned ground beef and mixed it with a little tomato paste and cumin.  Then, she heated a can of refried beans.  Everyone was given a tostado.  Spread a layer of beans on the tostado, top with the ground beef, and add some salsa, lettuce, and grated cheese.  Voila, dinner is ready.

    Making tostados in Montreal is slightly more effort.  If only because it's harder to track down tostados!  You can buy them from the Latin American grocery store on St. Laurent just below Mont Royal.  Essentially, they're corn tortillas fried to be nice and crispy.  They taste like regular tortilla chips (why do Canadians occasionally call them nachos when they don't have cheese on them?), but they're completely round and flat (just like a soft tortilla).  Of course, you could make them yourself by frying a (homemade) corn tortilla, but it's a weeknight and I'm lazy and doubting my abilities to fry things without making a complete mess and burning myself in the process.

    A general recipe for tostados is included below.  I used black bean paste (instructions farther below) with a tomatillo sauce (essentially the one I used when I made enchiladas, but I roasted the tomatillos and garlic in the oven first for grins), avocado slices, and feta cheese.


    1 can refried beans (pinto or black) or bean paste
    salsa (I'm partial to tomatillo sauce with a little less water added, but you can use some bottled salsa or red salsa.  Ninfa's green sauce would probably work amazingly well for this too.)
    avocado, sliced
    tostados (a good rule of thumb is two per person unless you really like piling food high and making a mess!)
    shredded lettuce
    grated or crumbled cheese (I used feta this time around, but cheddar is much more traditional)

    1. Heat beans.
    2. Spread a thin layer of beans over the tostado.
    3. Pour salsa to taste over beans.
    4. Top with avocados, lettuce, and cheese.
    5. Try not to make too much of a mess as you eat with your hands.

    Bean Paste Instructions
    1. Cook black beans.  (I used about 1 cup of dry beans.  If using dry, be sure to soak overnight and allow extra time for simmering.)
    2. Drain beans reserving some of the cooking water (I ended up using about 1/2 cup of the reserved water).
    3. Add 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp epazote to the cooked beans (the epazote is less important if you used canned beans).
    4. Puree beans with an immersion blender.  If the mixture is too thick, add water.