June 24, 2010

Summer is here! And so is this salad.

Yes. Summer, or what seems like summer, has finally arrived. As all of us Portlanders rejoice and pray it's not a wolf in sheep's clothing, I snagged the moment to make a quintessential summer salad. I saw this recipe in Sunset's latest issue and boy was it pretty in pictures, which made me want to make it immediately. I made a few modifications. I added an avocado because, well avocado is good, you see. I also added mustard to the vinaigrette because I thought it needed an emulsifier. The other thing I liked about this salad is that it's basically a potato salad but no mayonnaise and with all the other veggies added, it's light and breezy. Just like our fair city.

Potato Salad with Corn and Cherry Tomatoes
Adapted from Sunset, July 2010

3/4 pound purple potatoes

3/4 pound fingerling potatoes

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon stoneground mustard

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided

2 medium onions, cut into 1/2-in. dice

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 large ears yellow corn, kernels cut off

1 pt. multicolored cherry tomatoes, halved

1 avocado, pitted and diced

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh marjoram leaves


1. Bring potatoes to a boil in a medium pot of well-salted water just to cover. Reduce heat and simmer until just soft when pierced (or cut one in half and try it).

2. Whisk 1/2 cup oil, the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a small bowl.

3. Sauté onions in remaining 2 tbsp. oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, then add corn and heat until just warmed through. Season with remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and let cool.

4. Drain potatoes and let stand until just cool enough to handle. Taste a shred of skin; peel if bitter. Cut potatoes into bite-size pieces and toss with 1/2 of vinaigrette.

5. Add cooled corn mixture, tomatoes, avocado and marjoram. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette to taste and gently mix together.




June 17, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs is a classic recipe but one I don't find myself craving very often. So when the time struck I went in search of a recipe that would satisfy. One of the first places I look for recipes is on the food blog Smitten Kitchen. If you haven't already please check out one of my favorite blogs. This woman manages to be funny and interesting while pulling off food that looks effortless and beautiful despite her small NY kitchen and having a newborn in tow. So when I came across a spaghetti and meatball recipe on her site that was an incarnation of a Barefoot Contessa (also one of my faves) recipe, I looked no further. And I'm glad I didn't because this recipe was flawless, which was to be expected. We stretched this dish for three meals and I dare say I won't be craving spaghetti and meatballs for quite a while.

I went ahead and used her suggestion on increasing the amount of sauce you make. I also didn't use any veal and just did a combination of pork and beef since my local grocer didn't have veal available. I re-wrote the recipe as I made it.

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the meatballs:
1 lb ground beef
1lb ground pork (I used the italian pork and I highly recommend this)
1 1/4 cups fresh white bread crumbs (about 5 slices, crusts removed)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 extra-large egg, beaten
Vegetable oil
Olive oil

For the sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 large yellow onion or 2 small ones, diced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch or so of red pepper flakes
3/4 cup good red wine
1 (28-ounce) can pureed tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can chopped or diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving:
1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
Freshly grated Parmesan

Make the meatballs:
Place the ground meats, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, onion powder, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs.

Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don’t crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don’t clean the pan.

Make the sauce:
Heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.

Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan.




June 14, 2010

Hot and Spicy Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is one that Michelle has been bugging me to post about for quite some time. These cookies were a bit out of the ordinary for a chocolate chip cookie, which can be hard to do. Who would've thought that adjusting the seasoning ever so slightly would create a whole different experience? I really liked these cookies and not only for their spiciness. The texture of them was fantastic as well. So if you're tired of the same old same old, add some heat to your cookies and make them hot and spicy.

Hot and Spicy Chocolate Chip Cookies
from No Recipes

1 1/2 sticks of butter at room temperature
3/4 C packed dark brown sugar
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 C + 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 C bittersweet
chocolate chips or chunks

Move the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 325 degrees.

Cream the butter and 2 kinds of sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix till combined after each addition. Add the vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne pepper, mixing until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add it to the butter mixture and mix until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir in by hand.

Scoop roughly 1/4 cup of batter for each cookie onto a baking sheet (it’s okay if the balls are jagged) leaving enough room for them to spread. Bake 1 sheet at a time for about 12-15 minutes each or until the edges are set, but the middle is still soft. You may need to experiment with your oven to figure out the perfect cooking time. As these cookies bake, they go from chewy to cakey to crisp, so you can change their characteristic by the amount of time you bake them for.

To get the chewy center, allow them to cool on the pan (not on a rack).




Infallible Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Alright, people. I've been on hiatus, yet again, and during that time it seems I lost my ability to bake. And not just to bake well, but to bake the easiest thing of all, what some may call my specialty - the muffin. Luckily enough for me I managed to pick what would appear to be a recipe so good it's impossible to mess up. Because I tried, not once, but twice. You see, when a recipe tells you to cream the butter and sugar, don't forget the sugar until the last minute, when upon licking the beater it occurs to you that something is off. And certainly don't add the lemon juice in early instead of said sugar, making it nearly impossible to cream the butter. But if you do both of those things, most definitely do them with this recipe. Because despite all that drama I still managed to put forth muffins so lemony and crumbly that I couldn't eat less than two in one sitting. Six times in a row.

Alice’s Blueberry Muffins

From Sweet Savory Life


4 tablespoons butter, softened

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup of sugar

zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 eggs

2 tsp. of vanilla extract

1/2 cup of sour cream

2 cups of AP Flour

2 tsp. of baking powder

1/2 tsp. of salt

1.5 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries

*optional 1/4 cup turbinado sugar/sugar crystals


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, cream butter, oil, lemon zest, and sugar for 3 minutes until light in color and creamy. Add eggs, sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla beating for an additional 2 minutes. Add salt, baking powder, and all-purpose flour gently mixing everything for an additional minute until everything is fully incorporated, approx. 2 minutes. Batter will be nice and thick. Gently fold in blueberries and pour batter into muffin tin lined with paper cups 3/4 cup full. Top each muffin with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar or sugar crystals.Bake for 30 minutes or until done. Makes 12 regular sized muffins.



June 1, 2010

Resurrection by way of pork.

Almost a month and a half since this blog has been updated! Yeesh. Well, I am going to revive this here blog with this delicious slow cooked pork recipe that I made yesterday.

Slow-Cooked Beer-Braised Pork and Black Bean Soup (from Real Simple,again!)

2 12-ounce bottles of beer (I used Blue Heron Pale Ale)
3 cups water (I should have used a little less)
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin (I used more like a tablespoon and wish I used a bit more)
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound dried black beans, rinsed
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork butt (pork shoulder) (The store I went to only had 2 pound chunks, so I used all of it.)
salt & pepper
sour cream
store-bought refrigerated fresh salsa (I bought a jarred one, it worked fine)
fresh cilantro

1. Set the oven to 300 degrees.
2. In a bowl, combine the beer, water, chilies, adobo sauce, cumin, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
3. In a big pan, (I used a 9 x 12 glass pan) spread the onions out, pour the beans over the onions, and the pork on top of that. (I cut my huge slab of meat into 3 chunks.) Pour the liquid mixture over everything. I ground a bunch of pepper over the top of all this.
4. Cover with foil, place on a cookie sheet if your pan is almost overflowing like mine was, and place it carefully into the oven so beer doesn't spill everywhere.
5. Cook covered, until the beans are tender and the pork pulls apart easily, 3 to 4 hours. Try not to uncover the dish until at least 3 hours. You want the heat to stay trapped under the foil.
6. Once the meat is cooked, remove from the oven and use a fork to separate the pork into large pieces.
7. Divide among individual bowls and top with sour cream, salsa, and cilantro.

-The original recipe is for a slow cooker, which I'm sure would be amazing. I don't have a slow cooker (I plan to get one soon because I loved this), so I cooked it in the oven, covered, at 300 degrees for about 3 or 3 1/2 hours.
-I served this with warm corn tortillas and we also had some tortilla chips, which were good for scooping up the beans. It was a little more liquidy than I expected, and I think the 3 cups that were in the initial recipe could be cut back to maybe 2 cups when cooked in the oven rather than the slow cooker.
-It could have been a tad spicier for my tastes, but it did have a nice amount of heat.
-The meat was super tasty and tender, the beans were perfect. This dish was super simple but extremely delicious.
-Our impromptu guests loved it!
-Lots of Leftovers!

2010-05-31 Feast 003