Thursday, June 28, 2012

4th of July Recipes: Link Love

Fireworks over the Lincoln Memorial
Fireworks on the National Mall, 2012
I know, I have been gone for way too long.  It's been a crazy couple of weeks with business trips, getting stranded by United Airlines at LaGuardia airport, and finding an apartment in Chicago!! The good news is that we have officially signed a lease at our new place and in just over a month we can finally start to settle into our new digs.

I'm feeling a little sad because I can't be home at my parent's lake house for the 4th of July this year.  It's the best place to be on the 4th between the firework show put on by the neighbors, the delicious food my mom makes, and all the fun activities we can do in the lake.  I wanted to share some recipes that I'd be making if I was going home for our family's big 4th of July bash.

American Flag Cake
Stout & Sriracha Beer Barbecue Sauce from the Beeroness (I'd be begging Dad to douse some ribs in this!)
Red White and Blue Poke Cake from Tracey's Culinary Adventures
Red, White, and Blue Whoopie Pies from Baking Bites (whoopie pies are a New England staple!)
Red, White, and Blue Funfetti Sandwich Cookies from Two Peas and Their Pod
Fourth of July Funfetti Cupcakes with Triple Swirl Frosting from Sugarcrafter
Watermelon Feta Mint Salad from joy the baker (watermelon just screams summer to me)
Red Velvet Marshmallows from Tracey's Culinary Adventures (to make the perfect s'mores! Mom's favorite!)

What are you doing for the 4th?  I guess we'll be enjoying our last 4th of July in the Nation's Capitol! We'll have to go all out!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chicken with Pepperoni Sauce

Chicken w pepperoni sauce

One of my favorite parts of DC is the number of former Top Chef contestants who are always buzzing around.  The really famous chefs, like Jose Andres, might leave their signatures on the menus, but these chef-lebrities are around town - at Nat's Games, walking down the street, and often at their restaurants.  It's a lot of fun!

Mike Isabella was not one of my favorites on his first season of Top Chef, but by the time he was on All Stars, I was a fan.  Since then we've seen him a number of times around town.  He just opened a new Mexican tapas restaurant, Bandolero, so we're going to visit for my birthday dinner tonight!  However, last night, we made our own Mike Isabella dinner - we whipped up his famous pepperoni sauce.  This could be spread on almost anything and it would be absolutely delicious.  We put it on some pan seared chicken and it was a delight!  Hopefully tonight's dinner will be just as good - maybe I'll even get Mike Isabella to sing Happy Birthday to me!

Chicken w pepperoni sauce

Chicken with Pepperoni Sauce
from Mike Isabella at Graffiato

6-oz. pepperoni, cut into thin slices
4-oz. yellow onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 teaspoon chili flake
1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted
4-oz. crushed San Marzano tomatoes, chopped
4-oz. chicken stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 lb chicken breasts, hammered until thin
1 tbsp olive oil

1. In a pot, sweat onions in olive oil for five to seven minutes. Add garlic and continue to sweat for two minutes.
2. Add the pepperoni and cook for about three more minutes. Add spices and cook for an additional minute.
3. Add the crushed tomatoes with the juice and cook for five more minutes. Lastly, add chicken stock and simmer for 40 minutes.
4. Remove the mixture from heat and puree in a blender. Season with salt and pass it through a fine china cap. Finally, add the splash of vinegar.
5. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Pan sear on each side until just cooked through. Top with pepperoni sauce and serve immediately.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños

Jalapeño poppers!

I realized that somehow, even though I have been posting my weekly recipes from Thursday Night Grilling, I haven't actually posted any recipes that you make on the grill. So this week we're mixing it up!

I whipped up these stuffed jalapeños on Wednesday night, so on Thursday I just thew them in the grilling basket and cooked them up.  They were super easy to make and had great flavor!  They honestly are not that spicy if you're at all accustomed to spice, so don't be afraid!  The hottest part of a jalapeño is the seeds, and since they're all scraped out these are actually pretty mild and perfectly smoky.

I was so surprised to see this recipe originally derived from a Cooking Light recipe.  Don't be fooled my friends - you're eating cheese and bacon.  Don't get me wrong - two of my favorite ingredients - but don't go eating all 28 pepper halves on your own!  They're definitely worth saving some weekly calories for, though.  They're absolutely scrumptious!

Jalapeño poppers for TNG

Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños
slightly adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures

4-6 slices bacon
14 jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise
1 (8-oz) package reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used sharp)
1/4 cup minced scallions
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 garlic clove, minced

1. Preheat grill to medium heat.
2. In a medium skillet set over medium-low heat, cook the bacon until browned and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Allow to cool slightly, then crumble.
3. While the bacon cooks, scoop the seeds and ribs from the insides of the halved peppers using a small spoon. In a medium bowl, combine the crumbled bacon, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, scallions, lime juice, salt and garlic. Stir to combine.
4. Stuff each of the pepper halves with some of the cheese mixture. (At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the stuffed peppers, then cook them later.)
4. Spray a grill basket or pan with nonstick cooking spray then transfer the peppers to the prepared pan. Place the pan in the preheated grill and cook (with the grill cover closed) for about 8-15 minutes, or until the cheese mixture browns slightly, and the bottom of the peppers is charred. Transfer the peppers to a serving platter and serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

Strawberry buttermilk cake

I don't know about you, but I'm starting to really feel summer.  We've already been to the beach, the pool, and even for a small hike.  I love being able to get outside, but more importantly, I love summer foods.  Nectarines, peaches, and berries have been arriving and looking gorgeous at our grocery store and I couldn't be happier.  When I saw this recipe, it just screamed summer to me with fresh strawberries and buttermilk.

Strawberry buttermilk cake

We brought this cake to a party the Monkey Scientist's office has every year for the team members ending their 2-year Fellowship (like him).  I was really excited to meet everyone who he works with.  I've heard many of their names for a long time, it was nice to be able to associate each one with a face.  The dinner was absolutely lovely.  There was tons of food and everyone was really nice.  His PI made us all feel at home in his house, which always makes for a particularly enjoyable party.

Oh yeah, and the cake!  Everyone seemed to enjoy the cake!  I had to make it the day before and keep it in the fridge, so honestly it was a bit dried out.  But the flavors were great - I think that the almond extract was KEY!  The strawberries were delightful, but you could really use any type of berry or fruit (peach slices would be great!) on top.  It was so easy to throw together - I recommend it for any summer event!

Strawberry buttermilk cake

Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Cake
from joy the baker

Roasted Strawberries:
8-oz (1/2 lb) medium strawberries, hulled
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Buttermilk Cake:
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c buttermilk
1/4 c unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/4 tsp pure almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
roasted strawberries
3 tbsp turbinado sugar for topping

To make the strawberries:
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. The strawberries get juicy, so a rimmed baking sheet is important. Set aside.
3. Cut each strawberry in half and place in a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, olive oil, and salt (notice I didn't say balsamic vinegar...made that mistake). Whisk together until completely incorporated. Drizzle the mixture over the strawberries and toss until each strawberry is coated. Arrange strawberries in a single layer across prepared baking sheet.
4. Roast strawberries for 40 minutes. The juices will thicken, but remove the strawberries from the oven before the juices begin to burn. Remove the berries and juice from the pan while still warm. Place in a small bowl, stir in balsamic vinegar, and set aside.
To make the cake:
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and heat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter an 11-inch cast iron skillet. You can also use an 11-inch round tart or quiche pan, or a 9×13-inch pan… although the cake will be more thin and you’ll need to keep a close eye on it in the oven.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and butter. Whisk in the vanilla or almond extract.
4. Add the buttermilk mixture all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined and no lumps remain. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Top batter with half of the roasted strawberries and juice. Sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool to room temperature before slicing to serve. Serve with the remaining roasted strawberries.

Cake will last, well wrapped in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.

Friday, June 1, 2012

5 Ingredient Smashed Potatoes

Smashed potatoes2

This recipe is so easy you won't believe it!  It has only 5 ingredients - potatoes, creme fraiche, thyme, salt and pepper.  That's it!  But it is literally the most luxurious smashed potato recipe I've ever made.

I usually like to roast potatoes (like all my veggies) but this was a totally different recipe than my usual olive oil laden potatoes.  It's almost like mashed potatoes, but a million times better.  I made it for this week's Thursday night barbecue and it was a hit!  I wish I had made more!  Now, in the name of full disclosure, this isn't the cheapest potato recipe.  I don't grow fresh thyme (I wish I did) and creme fraiche is on the pricier side.  But  the end product is so good, you could serve it anywhere from a barbecue to a fancy dinner party.

I highly recommend this one!  Even if you aren't great in the kitchen, I promise you will impress.

Smashed potatoes

Smashed Potatoes
from Leite's Culinaria

1 1/2 pounds red- or ivory-skinned waxy potatoes, or a mixture or both, each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, scrubbed
1 cup (8 ounces) creme fraiche
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus sprigs for garnish
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and place them in a large saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 12 minutes or so.
2. Drain the potatoes and return them to the warm pan. Add the creme fraiche and chopped thyme and smash with a potato masher or fork until the potatoes are almost but not quite ready to break apart. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with the thyme sprigs, and serve right away.