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!