Monday, February 28, 2011

A New Kind of Salad Dressing

Like blue cheese dressing but with goat cheese instead. It's creamy, tangy, and bursting with chèvre flavor. Inspired when a salad with a few bites of goat cheese left me wanting more.

Goat Cheese Salad Dressing
Printable Recipe

8 ounces chèvre, at room temperature
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup minced fresh chives
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the chèvre, buttermilk, and cream in a blender and blend until smooth. Stir in the chives and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes approximately 2 ¾ cups. Blend until smooth but not a moment longer so you don't end up with whipped cream. Consider adding basil, thyme, or Italian parsley or substituting grated garlic for the chives. Keeps for a day or two tightly sealed in the refrigerator.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Busy Days and a Fish Gratin

Do you ever feel like you're getting busier and busier all the time? I sure do. Lately I've taken on some new responsibilities, and I've been so busy I don't know if I'm coming or going. Time and energy are in short supply, to say the least. But at the end of these long, hard days my body craves something delicious and nourishing more than ever. So I've been making lots of dinners that I can throw together in minutes and then pop in the oven to bake unattended. Things like baked chicken drumsticks, roast pork tenderloin, and baked fish fillets. Simple. Satisfying. Above all, easy. This speedy supper was such a hit we had it twice in the last week. I hope you like it as much as we did.

Haddock Gratin with Olives, Capers & Tomatoes
Printable Recipe

1 cup diced tomatoes
¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives, quartered
1 tablespoon capers
2 cloves garlic, grated
½ teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1 to 1 ¼-inch thick haddock fillets, weighing about 6 ounces each, skinned and boned
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated Parmegiano-Reggiano

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Toss together the tomatoes, olives, capers, garlic, oregano, and 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread half of the tomato mixture evenly in the bottom of a 10-inch oval baking dish. Season the fillets generously with salt and pepper and arrange them in the baking dish in a single layer. Spoon the remaining tomato mixture evenly over the fillets. Toss together the breadcrumbs and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a small bowl, making sure that the breadcrumbs are evenly coated. Stir in the Parmegiano and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Spread the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the fillets in the baking dish. Gently tap the dish on the counter a few times so that the topping settles. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until the fillets are just cooked through. The fillets will begin to flake when they are just cooked through. Serve immediately.

Serves 2. Serve with a side of pasta. If haddock is unavailable, you can substitute any other firm-fleshed white fish.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Heat Up Valentine's Day

Chocolate is certain to arouse the passions. Even more so if it has a hint of spice. So on Valentine's Day, heat things up with these Chocolate Chile Cookies.

Intrigued by the combination of chocolate and chile? You may also want to check out this Chocolate Fondue for Two with Strawberries.

Chocolate Chile Cookies
Printable Recipe

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 ½ cups cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon chile de arbol
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¾ cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, chile de arbol, and salt in a medium bowl. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time until thoroughly combined and then beat in the vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until the dough comes together, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a work surface, bring together into a ball, and cut into quarters. Form each portion into a ball and then flatten into a disc. Wrap each disc separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 15 minutes or freeze for up to 1 month. (Thaw frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator and let soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a disc of dough to 1/8 to 3/16-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes and arrange the shapes about half an inch apart on parchment-lined baking trays. Gather the scraps, knead once or twice, and roll, cut, and arrange on baking trays in the same manner. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until firm. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

Make more cookies with the remaining discs of dough in the same manner.

Makes approximately 120 2-inch cookies. Inspired by the flavors of Mexican chocolate and based on a recipe from a fabulous but now defunct restaurant I worked at while I was in culinary school. The chef was very secretive and refused to share the recipe, but as soon as she turned her back, the pastry chef snuck it to me. I believe the original version called for black pepper in addition to the chile de arbol but didn't include any vanilla. Chile de arbol can be found at Mexican markets. If you can't find it, cayenne pepper is a good substitute.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

When It Strikes

If an ingredient catches your eye, pick it up. If you have to look twice, bring it home with you. If it intrigues you, go ahead and take a chance.

Don't hesitate, don't think twice.

Because that's inspiration calling. And it will always lead to good things…An opportunity to learn…A new dish created…Something delicious to eat and to share.

Hold on, some eggplants just caught my eye...

Chinese Eggplant with Pork Sauce
Printable Recipe

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
3 large (about 2 pounds) Chinese eggplants, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 ¼ pounds ground pork
½ cup sliced green onions
½ cup chicken broth
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Heat a wok over high heat until very hot and smoking. Add 1/3 cup of the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the wok. Add the eggplant and stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes, or until tender. Add half of the garlic stir-fry for another 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Remove the eggplant to a plate and reheat the wok. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the pork and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the remaining half of the garlic and green onions and stir-fry for another 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Return the eggplant to the wok. Whisk together the chicken broth, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the wok and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it's thickened and saucy. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately.

Serves 6. Serve with sticky rice.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin