Friday, January 31, 2014

French Onion Soup

Toasted, cheesy croutons on top of caramelized onions, simmered in wine and stock, that is French Onion Soup. Vegetable stock could be substituted, to make this soup vegetarian.

2 pounds onions, sliced (could be yellow, white, or red)
1 bunch of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
French Onion Soup
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon flour
1 cup red wine
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh pepper

6 slices French bread, toasted
1/2 pound Gruyere, grated
3 Tablespoons Parmesan, grated

In a large saucepan over medium heat cook onions in the butter and olive oil, add thyme, bay, and salt. Stir frequently and cook until onions are caramelized, about 45 minutes.
Add garlic and stir a minute.
Add flour and cook, stirring another minute.
Stir in wine and cook another two minutes. Add in chicken stock, water, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer; stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Preheat broiler.
On a sheet pan lined with foil, place toasted French bread topped with cheese, divided, and broil until bubbly and golden.
Serve on top of onion soup.
Note: If soup bowls are oven proof, put soup in bowls and top with bread and cheese and broil together.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mocha Crush

Looking for a little pick me up but wanting something more than black coffee, I made an espresso, and chilled it. Doing that reminded me of those mocha frappuccino drinks you can buy, which reminds me of dessert, which sounded really good to me!
Mocha Crush

1/2 cup of espresso (chilled)
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
pinch of cinnamon
1 1/4 cup of ice
shaved dark chocolate
whipped cream (optional)
chocolate syrup (optional)

Blend the espresso, milk, cinnamon, and ice in a blender.
Pour into a glass and top with shaved chocolate.
For a full on decadent dessert, top with whipped cream and finish with chocolate syrup.
Note: I found an organic sweetened condensed milk in a squeeze container at Trader Joe's. It is so nice not to have to deal with leftovers from a can, just use as needed.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sweet Onion Dip

Continuing on with the football themed food, this is from the new cookbook called Bountiful:Recipes Inspired by our Garden, by Todd Porter and Diane Cu. They are a very talented couple of food photographers who have photographed many cookbooks. This is the dip they call crack, and I understand why as it is so addicting, but simple to make. Bake thinks it would do well with the addition of bacon or pancetta, but I think it is fine as is.

Sweet Onion Dip
1-8 ounce block cream cheese, at room temp
1 cup of best foods mayo or Vegenaise
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup diced sweet onion
1 Tablespoon fresh cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine all ingredients together and mix well.
Spoon into baking dish and bake 40-50 minutes, until hot and top is golden brown.
Serve with crackers, chips, fresh vegetables or crostini.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Shrimp and Avocado Lettuce Cups

You know these lettuce cups from the restaurants. But now I know why they use iceberg lettuce, because I used my favorite butter lettuce and they did not hold well. Also, the crispness of the iceberg lettuce adds to the texture of the dish.

3 Tablespoons lime juice
Shrimp and Avocado Lettuce Cups
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
3 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined and chopped
In a bowl, mix together lime juice, soy sauce, oils, Sriracha and ginger. Toss in shrimp and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small red pepper, diced
3 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 head iceberg lettuce, cleaned and separated
1 avocado, thinly sliced and top with lime juice
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, add oil and stir in red pepper, green onions, and water chestnuts for a couple of minutes. Add shrimp and marinade to the pan and stir fry until shrimp are cooked, about 3 minutes. Add soy sauce and remove to serving bowl.
To serve, place shrimp mixture in lettuce cup, add slice of avocado, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Roasted Tomato Salsa with Sirloin Tacos

We are in the middle of football playoffs, Go Seahawks!!!  So I was perusing Fine Cooking magazine and came across this recipe. This is perfect as it can be prepared ahead of game time and served at halftime. The salsa is also great with chips on the side.
Sirloin Steak
shredded lettuce
12-16 small corn tortillas

Roasted Tomato Salsa with Sirloin Tacos
Roasted Tomato Salsa
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
juice of 1/2 lime, plus more if needed to taste
6 medium Roma tomatoes
3 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt, to taste

In a small bowl, soak the onion in juice of 1/2 a lime for 15 minutes. In a dry, heavy non stick or cast iron skillet over high heat, roast the tomatoes, turning frequently about 15 minutes. Add the pepper and roast about 8-10 minutes and the garlic for 2-5 minutes. Put the roasted vegetables in the blender and pulse, mixture should remain slightly chunky.
Transfer to a serving bowl and add the onion, lime juice, cilantro, and salt. Taste and add more salt or lime juice, if needed.

Rub for Steak
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed with fingers
In a small bowl combine all ingredients and mix well.

Take the dry rub and put if over both sides of 2 pound sirloin steak. Let sit for about half hour at room temperature and then grill until steak is cooked medium rare-medium. Allow steak to sit for 15 minutes before slicing thinly.
In a warm corn tortilla, place some shredded lettuce, steak slices and top with salsa. Serve.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Hearty Lentil Soup

This soup recipe is adapted from Deborah Madison's vegetarian soup. It is so cold everywhere and this makes a large pot of soup for a crowd and holds well in the refrigerator.

Hearty Lentil Soup
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/3 cup celery, finely diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 pound lentils, rinsed and sorted
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup baby spinach leaves, packed
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
squeeze of fresh lemon (optional)

In a large saucepan or stock pot, saute onion, celery, and carrots in olive oil over medium heat until softened. Stir in cumin.

Add lentils, garlic, and tomato paste, stirring well. Add stock and bay leaves bring to a boil and then lower temperature on stove so soup continues to simmer.
Stir in vinegar and mustard. Continue to simmer for about 25 minutes, until lentils are tender.
Add spinach, salt and pepper and stir well.

Serve and add a squeeze of lemon if desired.
Note: freshly chopped cilantro or fresh Parmesan could be added as a garnish.
although, no longer vegetarian
cooked sausage could also be added.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Meyer Lemon Drop Martini

I had my first Lemon Drop at Ruth Chris in the bar. In fact I had 2, which is one more than I ever drink. It tasted like lemonade and went down really fast. I still am not sure how they are made and to me they are almost like dessert.
But, we just received a basket full of just picked Meyer Lemons and so this is our first try at the Lemon Drop.
Meyer Lemon Drop Martini

8 ounces fresh squeezed Meyer lemons
(about 5-6)
4 ounces vodka (chilled)
3 Tablespoons simple syrup
2 Tablespoons sugar
lemon peel for garnish

to make simple syrup: In a saucepan combine 1/4 cup of water with 1/4 cup of sugar, heat until sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Take two chilled martini glasses out of the freezer. Run a lemon slice around the rim and dip into sugar.
In a cocktail shaker, pour in lemon juice, vodka and simple syrup. Fill with ice cubes and shake. Strain and pour into prepared glasses. Top with lemon peel and serve.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Pasta with Marinara and Burrata

The creaminess of the Burrata on the hot pasta is a nice change from a cream sauce or Alfredo sauce. It serves as both the cream and cheese.
In this recipe I used a brown rice penne pasta, to make it gluten free, but any pasta will work.

Pasta with Marinara and Burrata
1/2 pound penne pasta
13 ounces favorite Marinara sauce
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup green olives, sliced
handful of sliced baby tomatoes, optional
2 Tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
5 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
4 ounces Burrata, cut in half
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Over high heat, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.
Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Keep 1/2 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta.

In a large saucepan, add Marinara sauce, red pepper flakes, green olives and baby tomatoes (if using) and heat throughout.
Add drained pasta to sauce and stir, coating pasta well, adding pasta water, if needed.

Spoon into two serving bowls and sprinkle pine nuts over pasta. Top with basil and put Burrata in the center and drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Zucchini Soup

Happy New Year!

After all the heavy meals over the holidays, we are all craving something a little lighter.
So, how about a light, vegetable soup?

1-2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 carrot, diced
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large shallot, chopped
2 pounds medium zucchini, ends removed and sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 roasted jalapeno, seeds removed (optional)

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil. Stir in carrot, onion, celery, and cook until vegetables have softened.

Add shallot, zucchini, and garlic and cook about 5 minutes. Add stock and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 15-20 minutes. Add sea salt and pepper and jalapeno if desired.

Puree well in a blender. Check seasonings and serve.

Soup can be topped with croutons, herbs, Parmesan cheese, creme fraiche or a spritz of lemon.