Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays.

We are taking a break to spend time with friends and family during the holiday season.
Edible Menu will be back with new posts starting at the beginning of 2010.
Best wishes this Holiday Season and have a Happy New Year.

Edible Menu

Monday, December 14, 2009

All-in-1 Veggie Breakfast

This week we're making an all in one veggie breakfast that's so hardy and delicious you'll want to eat it right out of the pan... and you can. We're simply going to add ingredients together in a pan about every 10 minutes until there is a complete and satisfying breakfast blend roasted in its own juices.

1 lb. Potatoes, cubed
1/4 C. Olive Oil
Fresh Sprigs of Thyme
1/2 lb. Mushrooms
1 doz. Cherry Tomatoes
4 Eggs
2 Tbsp. Parsley, chopped
Buttered Toast
Salt & Pepper

Spread the potato cubes out in a roasting pan. Drizzle over half the oil, scatter over the thyme sprigs and season with salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated over for 7-10 minutes at 425 degrees.

Stir the potato cubes well, then add the mushrooms and bake for 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and bake for another 10 minutes.

Make four hollows in between the vegetables and carefully break an egg into each hollow. Bake for 3-4 minutes until the eggs are set.

Garnish the vegetable mixture with parsley and serve straight from the pan or serve on a plate with buttered toast.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes

The idea behind this presentation is one that I took from Ms. Paula Deen. She produced a home-made chicken salad and served it inside some large homegrown tomatoes. I thought this was a wonderful idea and have even presented my own stuffed tomatoes to friends drizzled with a nice balsamic vinegar reduction. For this blog, I didn't want to get too fancy so I came up with a recipe that I think will please everyone. There is heated debate in the chicken salad world surrounding the use of mayonnaise. Some people like chicken salad drenched in mayo, others prefer an olive oil and mustard base. I came up with a fusion of the two in order to keep everyone happy.

"Dry Ingredients"
4 C. Chicken, oven roasted, diced
1 C. Red Bell Peppers, chopped
1 C. Corn
1/4 C. Red Onion, minced
4 Tomatoes

"Wet Ingredients"
6 fl. oz. Olive Oil
1/2 C. Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp. Parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. Mustard
2 Tbsp. Mayo
2 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Salt

* I love grapes in my chicken salad. If you think it's weird, you're welcome to leave them out.
** The spinach (or lettuce) will be used for garnish inside the rim of the tomato.

I like my chicken salad to be pretty smooth and wet, so I process the chicken in a food process until it is very fine. I pulse the "dry ingredients" together in the processor, adding the grapes as the final ingredient so they don't turn to mush. In a separate bowl, whisk together the "wet ingredients" to make the base of the salad. When the base is finished, add it to the dry ingredients and mix well either by hand or in the food processor.

So, essentially, this recipe is three steps. Make the dry ingredients, make the wet ingredients, then combine the dry and wet ingredients. Done!

For the presentation, cut the top of a tomato and, holding a knife vertically, cut an "X" in the tomato from top to bottom without piercing the skin. Next, cut around the edges of the tomato. At this point the tomato has been quartered only on the inside. You can now insert a spoon and carefully extract all the fruit in one fluid motion. This step is easy to do, but hard to describe so E-Mail me if you have questions, or just hollow out the tomato however you can. Now, place a piece of lettuce or a few leaves of spinach along the inside of the tomato and spoon in the chicken salad.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mixed Mushroom Salad on Toast

The fridge is empty, the cupboards are bare, and the wallet is empty- what do you do? That's exactly where I found myself recently, so I threw together this little salad, slapped it on toast, and had the best brunch I'd eaten in months. There are a lot of ingredients in this dish, but you should notice that most of them are staples (garlic, oil, S&P) that you should probably already have in your kitchen.

1 Tbsp. Butter
3 Tbsp. Oil
1 1/2 lb. Mixed Mushrooms*
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Tbsp. Thyme, chopped
1 Lemon, juice
2 Tbsp. Parsley, chopped
Sourdough Bread
1/4 lb. Mixed Salad Greens
Parmesan Cheese, shaved or grated
Salt & Pepper

*You can buy a pack of mixed mushrooms from the grocer (shiitake, oyster, button, cremini, etc.), or you can mix your own. Dried mushrooms are okay too, just rehydrate them in hot water for 20 minutes.

Melt the butter and oil in a large pan. When the butter stops foaming up, add the mushrooms, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Once the mushrooms are tender, sprinkle with parsley and a touch of lemon juice.

Toast the bread and arrange on a plate. If you don't like sourdough, just choose your favorite substitute- something hearty and savory. Toss the mushroom mixture and the salad greens and place on top of toast. Drizzle with a touch more oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with shaves or grate over parmesan cheese.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hummus & Crostini

I had a hankerin' for some hummus. So, why not blog about it? It's a lot of fun to make and it's better than most kinds you'll find in a can. My good friend is an advocate for hummus and he put my recipe up amongst some of the best he's ever had. Coming from him, it means a lot. Don't have to be #1 to feel like a winner.

30oz. Chickpeas, drained (Garbanzo Beans)
2 Red Bell Peppers
1-1/4 tsp. Cumin
1 Onion, minced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
5 Tbsp. Tahini
2 tsp. Salt
1 Lemon
Olive Oil
French Bread

Roast the bell peppers exactly like in the Stuffed Chicken w/ Roasted Red Peppers and Goat Cheese blog. [] While the peppers are cooling in a plastic-wrapped bowl, saute your onions and garlic on
low heat in a touch of butter until they begin to smell sweet. There should be no color on the onions or they begin to taste savory.

In a bowl, combine the chickpeas, onions, garlic, touch of oil, cumin, salt, touch of cayenne and lemon juice. When the peppers are cool, skin them, seed them, and dice them up and add to the bowl.

I like my hummus smooth, if you prefer it chunky then mix everything by hand. Since I like it smooth, I put everything in a food processor and blend on high speed. As everything is pureeing I slowly add the tahini. Tahini really adds depth to hummus. It's essentially a Sesame Seed pasted puree. At this point just adjust the seasonings as you see fit.

Slice some french bread and brush with oil and freshly cracked pepper. Place in a 500 degree oven for 3-4 minutes, top with hummus, and garnish with parsley.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Homemade Basil Gnocchi

You asked for it, you got it! I received a request via Twitter for gnocchi, so now I'm going to teach you how to make it. I got so carried away with this recipe that I forgot to take photos until the very end. I promise I'll make gnocchi again with more pictures, but this might actually make it easier to learn. Gnocchi isn't hard, it's just involved, so follow these steps and you'll be making this unique pasta in no time.
What is Gnocchi? [NYOH-kee] is Italian for "dumplings". Gnocchi can be made from potatoes, flour or farina. Eggs or cheese can be added to the dough, and finely chopped spinach is also a popular addition. Gnocchi are generally shaped into little balls, cooked in boiling water and served with butter and parmesan or a savory sauce.

1-1/2 C. Instant Mashed Potatoes*
1 C. Basil
1 Egg, beaten
1/4 C. Parmesan, grated
1 C. Flour
Kosher Salt

*You can use fresh mashed potatoes for better flavor, but you have to remove all the skin first and make sure that you thoroughly whip ALL of the lumps out. For brevity's sake I'm using instant potatoes for this blog.

Mix the potatoes with 1 cup of hot water and set aside for about 3 minutes so the potatoes can absorb all the water. In a processor or blender, puree the basil with 1/4 cup of cold water. Stir the basil, cheese, egg, and 1 Tbsp. salt into the pots.

Place 3/4 cup of flour in a mound on your work surface and place your potato mixture in the middle of the mound. Knead all the ingredients together, slowly adding the last 1/4 cup of flour. If needed, you can add more flour to your liking. It should be similar to the consistency of pizza dough.

Cut the dough into manageable portions and roll it out like you're making a snake with "Play-Dough" (I know, weird analogy). Roll the dough across your work surface until it is long and cylindrical, about 1/2" thick. Then cut into 1" segments and lightly toss in flour to prevent them from sticking to one another and place back in the fridge until you're ready to eat.

To cook, simply boil in water for about 1 minute and toss in sauce.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sharp Cheddar & Jalapeño Scones

I have to be completely honest. I'd never eaten, let alone made, a scone before I attempted this recipe. I thought it was about time to make some breakfast foods, and with the cold weather coming, this flavor combination seemed perfect. It kinda makes me wish I had a breakfast nook.

2 C. Flour
1 Tbsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Iodized Salt
8 Tbsp. Butter, diced
1/2 C. Heavy Cream
3 Eggs
1/4 lb. Sharp Cheddar, diced
2 Jalapeños, minced**

*It is important to keep your ingredients cold, so once you're done prepping the butter, for example, put it back in the cooler until you're ready to use it.
**When you're mincing your jalapeño, go ahead and mince up everything; the seeds, the veins, all of it. Jalapeños aren't overly spicy and I think you'll be disappointed if you take out the seeds. These aren't like habañeros, so don't be afraid.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While the oven's heating up, saute your jalapeños in a small amount of butter for about 2 minutes. Transfer the jalapeños to a bowl to cool and toss them in 1 tablespoon of flour. The cooked butter and the flour are going to combine and make a roux which will keep the jalapeños from sinking to the bottom of the scones.

Combine your dry ingredients (the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt) in a separate bowl. You want to "cut" in the butter until the butter is in very small pieces. Using a knife or fork or hard spatula, make cutting motions to incorporate the butter and flour. Whisk 2 of the eggs and add the heavy cream to it. Combine the egg mixture with the flour mixture and fold them both together. Add the cooled jalapeños and cheddar and incorporate.

Transfer the dough to a well floured surface and knead for about 1 minute, until it has a biscuit-like texture. Pat out the dough until the whole piece is about 1" thick, then cut into desired pieces. You can use a knife to cut 8 triangles, or use a biscuit cutter if you like circular scones. Align your scones on a well greased sheet tray or parchment lined tray and brush each one with an egg wash made from whisk your last egg with 1 tsp or so of water. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

This appetizer couldn't get easier. Well, once you get the pumpkin open, it couldn't get any easier. I recommend buying the large pumpkins instead of the small pumpkin-pie pumpkins. I found out the hard way that those pumpkins require a hand-saw to get open. Once you have the top off, simply scoop out the pulp and sift through the seeds. Give the seeds a quick rinse and lay them out on a sheet tray.

I seasoned mine with a "Hot & Smokey Rotisserie" seasoning and a touch of olive oil. Roast at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Serve them warm to your friends while your carve up the pumpkin. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Russian Borscht (Beet Soup)

I felt I had to do a bit of research before I tackled this next blog. Then, I almost gave up when I found out how many different kinds of Borscht there actually are. There's Russian Borshch, Ukranian Borshch, Jewish Borscht, Polisch Barszcz, Romanian Bors, Lithuanian Barsciai, Estonian Bors, Czechoslovakian Borsc, Chinese Borshch, Mennonite Borscht, Belarusian Borscht, Armenian Borscht, American Borscht, hot Borscht, cold Borscht, Borscht with beef, Borscht without beef, Borscht with Kvas, Borscht with chicken... phew! How do you know which one is authentic? So, I decided that I'd combine what knowledge I had accrued and make up my own recipe. I started with a basic Russian version, which traditionally has no meat, and decided to add a bit of a French twist to it by incorporating a mirepoix into the base of the soup. This was truly an adventure. Enjoy!
The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is the more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious. -Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume


4 Red Potatoes, chopped
4 Beets (3 Red, 1 Yellow), chopped
1 Qt. Water
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 C. Onion, diced
2 C. Celery, diced
2 C. Carrot, diced
3/4 C. Tomato Paste
1 Small Head Cabbage, shredded
2 C. Roma Tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp. Cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. Brown sugar
Sour Cream
Dill Weed
Salt & Pepper

After chopping the potatoes and beets, boil them in the quart of water for 45-60 minutes, until they are tender. You can then move on to prep your other ingredients. Go ahead and dice your onion, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and shred your cabbage. Be sure to keep them all separate because you will be adding them at different times.

Once the vegetables have all been cut and the beets are halfway cooked, you can start your soup. (You can follow these steps by looking at the photos from Left to Right, Top to Bottom).

1. Sweat the onions in butter and a touch of salt until they are translucent.
2. Add the celery.
3. Add the carrot.
4. Mix and cook until the celery and carrot are tender.
5. Add tomato paste and caramelize until everything is well blended and the paste starts to stick to the bottom of the pot.
6. Deglaze with half of the beet water and stir until the bottom of the pot is clean. Cook about 10 more minutes.
7. Add the cabbage.
8. Add the tomatoes.
9. Add the cider vinegar and brown sugar. Cook for 3 minutes.
10. Add the beets, potatoes, and the rest of the beet water.
11. Stir and cook until beets and potatoes are fully cooked and tender.
12. Change consistency to your liking. I used an immersion blender to coarsely puree the soup. Some people like it chunky so this part is completely up to you. Be sure to adjust your seasonings at this point.

Plate your soup and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and sprigs of fresh dill weed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blackened Salmon w/ Wild Rice & Cajun Alfredo

This recipe is a lot of fun to make. Once the heavy prep is out of the way, this dish can be made in under 10 minutes. In this blog you'll find the steps to make everything from scratch, but you'll also find shortcuts (in parenthesis) along the way to help keep everything simple.INGREDIENTS

Wild Rice
1/2 lb. Chilean Salmon Fillet
6 Each (26/30) Shrimp
1 Roma Tomato, diced
1 Bunch Green Onions, chopped

For The Alfredo
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Salt
1/2 Tbsp. White Pepper
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
2 C. Heavy Cream
1/2 C. Parmesan Cheese
1 Tbsp. Blackening Seasoning

FOR THE RICE (Skip This Step? Buy an "Uncle Ben's" boxed rice.)
Start by making the rice because it can take as much as 25 minutes. Rice cookers are fine, but I find that they always burn the bottom portion of my rice. I suggest putting your favorite kind of rice into a small pan with about double the amount of water, 2 Tbsp. of butter, and your favorite herbs and spices. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 20-30 minutes while you do the rest of your prep.

FOR THE ALFREDO (Skip This Step? Buy Alfredo and add blackening seasoning to it.)
In a stock pot over medium high heat, combine your butter, garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Once the garlic has browned slightly add your heavy cream and bring to a simmer for 7 minutes. Add your parmesan cheese and whisk to prevent the cheese from clumping. The sauce will thicken as the cheese melts. Finish with blackening seasoning.

For this dish, I was able to use one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. I have a Flat-Top made out of Solid Marble. Essentially it's a slab of rock that heats up to 450 degrees. I only get to use it about twice a year, so I was excited that this recipe could utilize my Marble Flat-Top. You can use a fry pan or a saute pan just as easily.

Heat your pan over medium high heat. Season the fish with salt, pepper, and blackening seasoning.

Sear one side of the fish while you season the other side. When the fish has cooked halfway through (about 3-4 minutes) flip it over and sear the other side.

At this point you can either add the shrimp to the same pan or heat a second pan. If you're using the same pan, then oil from the salmon will flavor your shrimp

*I use 26/30 shrimp because they're pretty small. "26/30" means that there are an average of 26-30 shrimp in a pound. "16/20" shrimp are larger and more commonly used in shrimp cocktails. These are the two most commonly found sizes in super-markets. There are also "41/50" shrimp and "90/110" shrimp also known as "popcorn" shrimp.

Serve the salmon over a bed of rice alongside the shrimp. Circle the rice with the cajun alfredo and top it all with diced tomatoes and green onions.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stuffed Chicken w/ Roasted Red Peppers & Herbed Goat Cheese

I love roasting my own peppers, so when I found some extremely large, perfectly shaped red peppers I knew I had to get my hands on them. Also, I had some ridiculously large chicken breasts in my fridge. In order to keep them from drying out during cooking, I decided to stuff the chicken breasts with whatever I found floating around the fridge. This is kind of a "fly by the seat of your pants" recipe, but sometimes those are the most fun.

Red Peppers
Chicken Breast
Goat Cheese
Herbes de Provence*
Heavy Cream
Lemon Juice
Salt & Pepper

*Herbes de Provence [EHRB duh proh-VAWNS] is a basic assortment of the most commonly used herbs in Southern France; basil, fennel, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme.

We start by roasting our peppers. We roast peppers in order to remove the skin while keeping the meat of the pepper in tact. This process also gives the peppers a rich flavor that tends to be on the sweeter side. I like to set my oven to "Broil" and place the peppers on a sheet tray on the top rack. Once the peppers have blistered on one side, you'll want to rotate them and blister all four side. Once they're finished, you'll want to place the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. This allows the residual heat to sweat the peppers inside the bowl, making the skin much easier to remove.

As the peppers are sweating, you'll want to butterfly your chicken breast and season both sides with salt and pepper. I crumbled some goat cheese and rolled it around in some Herbes de Provence. Once your peppers have been peeled, lay one thick strip on one side of the chicken and top it with goat cheese. Lastly, you'll want to close your chicken breast much like a taco shell.

If your chicken is over-stuffed (like mine was) you'll want to truss the breast using butcher's twine in order to keep the breast from falling open during cooking. Simply sear the chicken for 3 minutes on each side until it's golden brown and finish in a 400 degree oven for 7 minutes.

I wanted a very light sauce for this dish since the chicken is very heavy. In a sauce pan, I browned a bit of minced garlic in olive oil, then deglazed with lemon juice. When the lemon juice had reduced by half I added heavy cream and reduced that by half as well. Heavy cream takes on a very nutty flavor as it reduces, so this sauce will taste of zested nuts. I added a touch of white pepper and salt, but not a lot. I really wanted this sauce to be light and not take anything away from the flavors inside the chicken.

When the chicken was done cooking, I set it aside to rest. Using the same pan, I tossed in a handful of leftover diced peppers, sugar snap peas, and some baby portabello mushrooms. I served the chicken over the vegetables and drizzled with a bit of the citrus cream sauce.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Roasted Heirloom & Smoked Mozzarella Caprese Salad

The Insalata Caprese, an iconic Italian salad. Traditionally, this salad is made with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil, then seasoned with freshly cracked pepper, salt, and olive oil. The three prominent colors; red, white, and green, are said to signify the colors of the Italian flag. My dear friend, Amanda, brought me the last of this season's harvest of Heirloom Tomatoes from Charleston, SC. These tomatoes are absolutely amazing, both in appearance and flavor! I've decided to use them to their full potential and stray a bit from the traditional Caprese salad.

What is an Heirloom Tomato?
The advent of megaagriculture in America has seen the gradual depletion of ancient varieties of native nonhybrid plants. Unfortunately for those who appreciate full-flavored fruits and vegetables, produce-seed conglomerates focus only on those strains that have mass-market appeal - which means they're beautiful and hardy, but not necessarily the best-tasting. Fortunately, about 25 years ago some dedicated individuals began saving what they could of the remaining open-pollinated (without human intervention) seed varieties, which have become known as "heirloom seeds."
-Food Lover's Companion

Heirloom Tomatoes
Smoked Mozzarella
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Basil Infused Oil

Measurements aren't particularly necessary for this recipe. I sliced all my heirloom tomatoes into about 1/2" wheels, lined them up on a sheet tray, topped with garlic, salt, pepper, and a basil infused olive oil that I'd made earlier. I decided to use some basil infused oil instead of fresh basil because these tomatoes were on the small side and I didn't want them dwarfed by the basil leaves. I set the oven to 400 degrees and roasted the tomatoes for 15 minutes, checking on them every 3 minutes.

If there is an outcry, I'll be happy to do a blog about how to make fresh mozzarella from scratch, but it's a bit of a long process for most people to tackle at home without previous experience. For this recipe, I just bought smoked mozzarella from my local grocer and diced it into cubes roughly as large as I had sliced the tomatoes. When the tomatoes were finished, I began to assemble my salad alternating tomato and mozzarella until I had completed one giant wheel. There were a lot of delicious pan juices in the bottom of my sheet tray, so I poured them into the center of the plate for dipping the cheese into. You never want to waste any flavor!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fresh Peach Yogurt Soup w/ Pistachios & Candied Mint Leaves

We're nearing the end of summer. On the last Monday before Autumn, I found it only appropriate to prep a perfect summer dessert - peaches. This is a great chilled "soup" for lack of a better term. I really love this dish on the second day when the flavors have had a chance to mingle overnight. What's best about this dish is that it's seasonal, so you're forced to patiently wait for peaches all year. It makes it taste so much better once you can finally get your hands on some fresh peaches. Patience is delicious!


2 lbs. Peaches
3/4 C. White Wine
1/4 C. Honey
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 C. Yogurt, Plain
TT Pishtachios
TT Heavy Cream (optional)

First you'll want to pit and coarsely chop your peaches. Do not peel them! Keep the skin on! I like to throw the peaches in a hot saucepan and put a little bit of color on them, but you don't need to. You can simply toss your peach pieces into a pan with wine, honey, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar. Cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes. I like to stir it every 10 minutes or so.

When the peaches are soft and the wine mixture has become slightly syrupy and foamy, you'll want to puree everything together. I like to use an immersion blender or stick mixer. Once everything is completely pureed, you'll want to strain your peach mixture. I really put a lot of effort into this step. It took me 20-30 minutes of constant stirring to completely strain my peach puree through a chinois. The amount of straining required is completely up to you.

When your mixture has been strained (or not), add your cinnamon, nutmeg, and yogurt and mix thoroughly. Again, I mix everything with the immersion blender. You can use the same food processor you used to puree if you like. (optional: Heavy cream takes on a slightly nutty flavor when reduced. If you'd like to dilute your peach mixture, you can use a bit of heavy cream added to your yogurt.) When your peach mixture is fully incorporated, set in the fridge to chill for a few hours if you're serving it that night or you can chill it overnight to serve the next day.

For garnish, I like to chop up some pistachios. Pulsing in a food processor works great for this. The green color of the nuts really goes well with the orange from the peach and yogurt puree. To candy your mint leaves, simply spray them with non-stick spray and dredge them through sugar. I also enjoy spooning a bit of heavy cream around the outside of the dish for presentation. A thinly sliced peach also looks pretty cool. I've done a bit of both below for you to see. Enjoy!