February 28, 2008

A tribute to...

Upcoming (hopefully) summer staples and warm weather calls for sweet and savory recipes focused on my favorite food group, fruits. Well, I lied--my favorite food group is a tiny niche located at the tip of the pyramid aka fat+sugar+heart attacks, but today it's all about healthy eating. On the menu for a dinner with Kathy: Roasted Pepper Stuffed Tomatoes, Tuna Cakes with Pesto Sour Cream, and Blueberry-Raspberry Tarts; the perfect, light dinner for our heavy conversation about life's little secrets.

Roasted Pepper Stuffed Tomato

2 firm tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp parmesan cheese
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chopped parsley
2 Tbsp diced roasted bell peppers
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella

Slice top of tomato and hollow out interior. Add some salt, flip tomato upside down and drain out excess moisture. Mix salt, breadcrumbs, olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, parsley and bell peppers in a bowl. Use a paper towel to seep out any remaining moisture. Spoon mixture into hollow tomato and fill with mozzarella. Bake stuffed tomatoes at 375 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.

Tuna Cakes with Pesto Sour Cream

1 6 oz can albacore tuna
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced shallots
1 tsp chopped parsley
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp pesto
2 Tbsp light sour cream

drained tuna with garlic, shallots, parsley, paprika, and pepper until combined. Add breadcrumbs to tuna mixture until just incorporated. Beat in egg until tuna mixture is combined. Shape into patties and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Heat skillet to medium-high and fry tuna cakes until brown on both sides. Stir sour cream and pesto together until cream turns green. Spoon pesto sour cream over tuna cakes before serving.

Blueberry-Raspberry Tart

1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 Tbsp raspberry jam
2 pre-made sugar tarts

Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract and beat with an electric mixer.
Spoon whipped cream into tarts and add a dollop of raspberry jam. Line washed blueberries over pastry cream and serve.

New York City tomorrow! Too bad it's cold.

February 27, 2008

Despite the endless snow...

I stumbled, boots soaked in mud-slush, into the grocery store to pick up a few goods for tonight's dinner with Kathy and Jen. Today's citrus craving led to Roasted Pepper and Caramelized Onion Pizza, Salmon with Lemon Pepper Sauce, and Lemon Bars.

This is before baking. Okay, I cheated just a little with Betty Crocker's instant pizza dough, but I FORGIVE MYSELF.

Roasted Pepper and Caramelized Onion Pizza

1 package instant pizza dough
1/2 cup hot water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried herbs
1 tsp parsley
1/2 cup sliced roasted bell peppers
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup sliced onions
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper
1 cup skim mozzarella

Mix dried pizza dough with hot water until combined and let it set for 10 minutes. Spread the dough on a flat baking pan until desired thickness is reached using the balls of your hands. Grease top of dough with olive oil and sprinkle garlic powder, dried herbs, and parsley to cover. Heat oil on high and sautee sliced onions. Let it cook for 20 seconds before adding in sugar and balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste and let onions caramelize until brown and soft. Add sliced roasted bell peppers and caramelized onions. Sprinkle mozzarella over the vegetables making sure to cover the edges. Bake pizza at 450 degrees F for 20-30 minutes.

Priding myself on my ghetto-college ways, I zested the lemons by thinly slicing the lemon peel and running the knife through it. No, I don't own a grater, don't judge.

Mixing the lemon pepper sauce.

Salmon with Lemon Pepper Sauce

1/3 cup light sour cream
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp diced shallots
1 salmon fillet
1/2 lemon

Whisk together sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest and honey. Mix together olive oil, lemon juice and shallots. Rub salmon with olive oil mixture and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Bake salmon in a pan at 450 degrees F for 12 minutes. Drizzle lemon pepper sauce over salmon and place lemon wedges for garnish. (Adapted from bon appetit).

Pouring lemon filling over the crust.

Lemon Bars


1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Lemon Filling

1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice
Powder sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil the bottom and of a baking pan (I prefer circular pans for symmetry). Combine melted butter with sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl. Add the flour and mix until incorporated. The dough should be grainy and almost crumbly. Press the dough evenly on the bottom of the pan. Bake for 25 minutes until the crust is browned at the edges. Sift sugar and flour together and mix. Whisk in the eggs one at a time and add in the lemon zest and juice. Pour the filling onto the hot crust. Bake at 300 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until the filling is set. Place on a rack and cool completely in the pan. Cut into slices and dust top with powdered sugar over before serving.

We ate all of it--end of story.

If you don't love...

BRUSSELS SPROUTS (I promise to calm down) and blueberry pancakes, then we have a serious problem. Yes, these winter vegetables look like shrunken heads (of lettuce--Ian says cabbage), but they are absolutely tasty when cooked with a helping of sesame oil. In attempts to qualm my stress at Cornell, I developed a few recipes to satisfy my odd-ball cravings.

Maple Syrup Brussels Sprouts

1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp shallots
1 pound of brussels sprouts
1/2 cup pistachios
Salt & Pepper
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp crème fraiche

Wash and cut Brussels sprouts into leafy bites. Heat pan and pour in sesame oil. Add shallots and stir till fragrant for about 15 seconds. Add Brussels sprouts and pistachios and toss to coat. Add in salt & pepper to taste. Drizzle in maple syrup. Plate and top with a dollop of crème fraiche before serving.

Blueberry Pancakes with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup pancake mix
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp olive oil

In a small bowl, beat heavy whipping cream, cinnamon, and sugar until the cream is light and fluffy. Combine pancake mix with buttermilk and blueberries until batter has a nice, thick consistency. Heat olive oil on skillet over medium heat. Pour batter in and smooth to rounded circles. Let pancakes brown for 30 seconds and flip to the other side for another 30 seconds. Top pancakes with cinnamon whipped cream and drizzles of maple syrup.

Fact about me: I am a firm believer in homemade whipped cream; the fresh taste is just so much better, and you can whip it to any consistency you like.

February 26, 2008

When it blizzards outside...

Nothing beats the indoor activities of searching for new recipes, flipping through a corned-beef-covered bon appetit, and reading a girly, pink-colored copy of The Chocolate Connoisseur. In my most recent cooking expedition, I created a tasting menu for Jay consisting of Angel Hair Pesto Pasta, Breadcrumb Pan-Seared Salmon with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Mushroom, Red Bell Pepper Puff Pastry, Spicy Sweet Potato Fries, and Chocolate-Coffee Mousse Cream Puffs.

For now no recipes, just pictures...

Now I have an itch to bake. We'll see what happens.