Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Potato Pie with Leeks and Feta

Are you seeing a theme here? I'm into leeks. Big time! They may be my new favorite vegetable. Nah, that's a false statement. Nothing can usurp the avocado.

But back to the recipe... I originally found this dish because I had some leftover feta to use. When I read this recipe, I realized I also had a forgotten leek in the fridge to use. Oh, how I love it when the stars align. The only thing I needed from the store for this recipe were the potatoes.

Know what else this recipe is good for... satisfying picky side dish eaters. Namely, my dad. Ahem, and me. Guess we know where I got it from! Every vegetable or side dish I liked, he seemed to dislike... zucchinis (actually, all squash), peas, fresh green beans (canned were OK, yuck), salad was OK if it had ranch dressing (I don't buy/eat ranch), and the list goes on. But this recipe, we both agreed was a winner! My dad even had seconds. Yay.

I'm telling you, there's something addictive about leeks. I hope you try this one. It's not only great for cleaning up a few odds and ends from your fridge, but it gives a pretty good bang in the presentation department for the limited effort you will put in.

Potato Pie with Leeks and Feta
from Cafe Chocolada

For the dough:
1 medium sized potato
1 cup flour
5 tbsp margarine, melted and cooled a bit
2 tsp baking powder
½ smaller leek, chopped up (optional)
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp black pepper

For the filling:
5-6 medium sized potatoes
½ leek chopped up
½ cup sour cream
3 eggs
½ cup crumbled feta cheese, or cubed
Pinch of salt

First wash, and cook potatoes with their skin. Peel, and mash one immediately, and let the rest (for the filling) cool down.

Preheat oven to 390 F.

In a bowl with mashed potato, add margarine, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper, and knead with hands to get a smooth dough. Add half of chopped up leek (I left this out and was great), knead it in, then transfer the dough to a medium sized spring form pan, spread it around to cover pan bottom with it.

Peel and slice the remaining potatoes, or chop them up, and place them on top of the dough, along with half of chopped up leek. Sprinkle with some salt (you be the judge as to how much), and pepper.

Mix eggs with sour cream, add a pinch of salt, and feta cheese. Pour this over the potatoes, and place the pie in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes, depending on the oven. Cool a little, then remove the spring form, and serve. Best if eaten right away, as most potato dishes.

Guten appetit!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fettuccine with mushrooms and asparagus

This dish is so green and red, should have saved it for the holidays! Doesn't taste very 'holiday-esk' though. Tasted like pasta yummy-ness.

Hmmm.... I'd like to delete all of the above sentences I just wrote, because they're not very... descriptive? Interesting? Gramatically correct? All of the above. It was a brain fart that I actually typed and am allowing you to read. Go ahead, make fun. But, I'm posting late at night, with wine, so my synapses aren't firing as they should be.

In any case, this is a delicious, easy, and super healthy dish (except that I like to cover most pasta dishes in parmesan cheese). And it's holiday-esk. I mean, if costco can have their Christmas decorations out already, I can start thinking of holiday food.

Make the dish with spinach noodles. You wont regret it! I LOVE that this recipe gives you the option of fresh or dried herbs. On a random weeknight, who wants to A- go to the grocery store for special food items, B- spend $2.50 a pop per herb required, or C- I don't have a C. Use the dried herbs, people. Unless you have a fresh herb garden that's still producing for you. In which case, I'm sooooo jealous.

Mushroom and Asparagus Fettuccine
from Diabetic Living

8 ounces dried whole wheat fettuccine or linguine
8 ounces fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch-long pieces
Nonstick cooking spray
3 cups sliced fresh crimini, shiitake, or button mushrooms (I used white button)
1 medium leek, thinly sliced, or 1/2 cup chopped onion (I used the leek)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup evaporated fat-free milk
1 tablespoon finely shredded fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped plum tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Finely shredded Parmesan cheese (optional - Not in my book!)

Cook fettuccine or linguine according to package directions, adding asparagus for the last 1 to 2 minutes of the cooking time; drain. Return pasta mixture to saucepan; cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, coat an unheated large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, leek or onion, and garlic to hot skillet. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in vegetable broth, evaporated milk, dried basil (if using), dried oregano (if using), salt, and pepper. Bring to boiling. Boil gently, uncovered, for 4 to 5 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened. Stir in tomatoes, fresh basil (if using), and fresh oregano (if using); heat through.

Spoon mushroom mixture over pasta mixture; gently toss to coat. Sprinkle with pine nuts and, if desired, Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sesame Crusted Tofu

Last week was sweet, and now we're on to savory!

My food cravings/interests seem to be (slowly) changing back into my old self, pre-pregnancy. The sweet tooth is dropping off (although it's still more than I ever used to have), and my protein and veggie interests are up! Nevermind that Tim and I had ice cream for dinner the other night. Yikes!

I've been making tofu fairly regularly again, and I have to say that it's quite different from the brand I used to buy in Germany. Taste is the same, but it's much, much more watery. I've had to break down and start pressing the water out of the tofu before marinating or cooking with it. And frankly, I am a bit annoyed with the extra work. Give me easy food to prepare, or give me frozen pizza.

Does anyone know of a good tofu brand that isn't too watery out of the package? I usually buy and cook with extra firm. Silken is usually always more watery.

This recipe was a nice change-up from our 'usual' (lemongrass tofu). It's hard not to make the lemongrass tofu, it's soooo good. But, change is also good. My only complaint with this recipe is that the sesame seeds do not stay on the tofu very well. Created a bit of a mess, and presentation was hard to make *extra* pretty. Otherwise, a very tasty (and easy) weeknight supper. Served over a salad with a side of rice, yum. Oh, and the tahini dressing was just 'ok'. If you want to have a dressing for the tofu and salad, I recommend looking for different recipe, I bet there are tons. Maybe one with more of a kick (through garlic, chilis, etc).

Sesame Crusted Baked Tofu (serves 2)
from Fuss Free Flavors

1 block tofu
Juice one lemon
Same quantity of soy sauce
1 tbs sesame oil
2tbs sesame seeds
Salad to serve

Press the tofu for about 20mins by wrapping it in a clean tea towel under a chopping board with a couple of cans of beans on top (I use my fruit bowl), you will be amazed at how much water comes out. Slice the tofu into thinish slices (about 1cm) and then cut each slice diagonally to get 2 triangles.

Place in a container and pour the marinade over, leave for at least 20 mins, turning over half way through if the marinade does not completely cover the tofu.

When marinated roll each piece of tofu in the sesame seeds and place onto a greased baking tray (I use a silicone mat on a tray which does not need greasing). Bake for 20 to 30 mins at GM5/375F/190C until the edges are browned turning half way through cooking.

Serve on a bed of salad – I used baby spinach leaves with baby plum tomatoes and pepperdew peppers and garnished with chives, from my window box, and tahini dressing.

Guten appetit!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Creamy Fruit Dip

My friend Sonya finds some great recipes. She's the type of person where, when eating dinner at her house, I'm usually in awe. Never walking away without at least one of the recipes from the evening.

Sonya is generous with her recipes, and friendship. She hosted my baby shower months ago, and had the most beautiful food spread... I was in awe. Again.

The shower was a brunch, and one of the dishes she served was fresh fruit, accompanied by a creamy sweet dip. Sonya was very aware of my pregnancy sweet tooth. Since you can't serve ONLY sweet, sugary foods, you almost always want to (or feel obligated to, because personally, I could have only had sweets! ha) have some fruit to round out the meal. A token strawberry on my plate does make me feel healthier. I can't lie.

Since the shower, I've served this dip at almost all of my breakfast/brunch gatherings. This dip is so ridiculously easy (the hardest part is cutting up the fruit), and so good, I expect it will become a part of your morning party repertoire too. No more store bought overly pricey pre-made fruit dip for you! Enjoy.

Creamy Fruit Dip
from Sonya

1 1/2 cups Sour Cream
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar

+ Fruit for dipping (I like strawberries, apple and cantaloupe as constants. Then I usually add another fruit that the store is carrying and looks fresh/good, such as: kiwi, blueberries, pineapple, raspberries or blackberries)

In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream and sugar until completely blended (1-2 minutes). Refrigerate up to 1 day in advance.

Cut and plate your fruit. Place fruit dip in a small serving bowl next to your fresh fruit.


Guten appetit!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fresh Fruit Coffeecake

Tim just told me I was NOT allowed to plan anything for the next couple of weekends. Why such a strict mandate? He's exhausted. (Me too)

Being home is wonderful. We keep talking about how happy we are to be home. Yet... it's also overwhelming. We've been jam-packed with house, move, family, friends, etc to-dos every weekend. When it was just us in Germany, we had a lot of mellow down-time. Having a full calendar isn't bad, and we WANT to do it all. We just have to remember to also schedule 'chill time' for ourselves. Otherwise, our first-time-sleep-deprived selves are going to crack. And it wont be pretty.

So, you will find both tim and I at home this weekend. Chillin'. Anyone know of anything good on TV?

This recipe is from my favorite bakery in Seattle, Macrina. They have a line out the door every morning. You can sign-up for their monthly newsletter which includes recipes from their shop. Divine!

I made it a couple weekends ago for a brunch. One of our many weekend activities of late. It was scrumptious, and only a couple pieces were left (which means some folks had more than 1 piece, always a good sign!). It was moist, light yet dense (How can that be?! But it was!), and the perfect hint of sweetness. The blackberries were great, and I can't wait to try it with blueberries or perhaps huckleberries (as the Macrina newsletter suggested).

Other things worth mentioning... my fruit still fell to the bottom, despite rolling it in some of the flour mix. But I didn't mind. I also halved the recipe, and that made enough for 8 people and baked perfectly in an 8 inch round spring-form pan. Aaaannnd, I finally graduated to the big-kids baking world, with my own kitchenaid mixer. This coffeecake was my first time using it. Isn't she pretty?

If you like the coffeecake, maybe you'll have to visit us here in Seattle and go to Macrina yourself. What? You live in timbuktu? Macrina is worth the trip.

Fresh Fruit Coffeecake

from Macrina Bakery

Makes 1 Bundt cake

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups ripe fruit (whole berries or fruit cut into 1/2 inch pieces) - I used self picked blackberries!
12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
Edible flowers and powdered sugar for garnish (optional) - I used powdered sugar and some of the leftover blackberries

Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Oil a 12-cup Bundt pan.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and toss with your hands to combine. Remove 1/4 cup of the flour mixture and set bowl aside.

In a separate medium bowl, combine fruit and the reserved 1/4 cup of flour mixture. Toss until fruit is evenly coated and set aside. Tossing the fruit in flour helps keep it from sinking to the bottom of the coffeecake - a true disaster!

Combine butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix with the paddle attachment for 5 to 8 minutes on medium speed. The mixture will become smooth and pale in color. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure the first egg is fully mixed into the batter before adding the other. After the second egg is incorporated, add vanilla extract and mix for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix for another 30 seconds to make sure all of the ingredients are fully incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

Alternately add small amounts of flour mixture and buttermilk to the batter mixing with a wooden spoon just until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Gently fold in the flour coated fruit making sure the fruit is evenly distributed through the batter. Spoon batter into the prepared Bundt pan filling two-thirds of the pan.

Bake on the center rack of the oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown (my small cake only took about 50 minutes to cook and brown on top). Check the center of the coffeecake with a skewer. It will come out clean when the cake is done. Let cool in a pan for 45 minutes.

Loosen the sides of the cake with a sharp knife. Place a serving plate upside-down on top of the cooled Bundt pan and invert the pan to remove the cake.

Guten appetit!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bear's Peach Cobbler

Does life ever slow down? No?

No. I didn't think so.

I know this is a common theme of mine, falling behind, being in a hectic state, but I have to apologize to the Sweet Melissa Sunday folks. I joined this group, on an unrealistic whim, as I've always wanted to join a cookbook blogging group. Plus, I had that insatiable sweet tooth during my pregnancy and nursing months (the sweet tooth is still around, but I'm slowly getting it under control!). Pies, cookies, jams... yes, please!

After I received my book via the lovely amazon.com, I was able to join the fray and made two weeks worth of recipes. But, I didn't ever seem to find the time to post them. A new recipe is chosen once a week to make on Sunday's, so as the third week of my membership rolled around, a new recipe came out and I bought all the ingredients... only I never made the dish. This is when I really started to fall behind (let's face it, I was always behind). At this point, the days kept clicking by. Then, I wasn't even checking the site anymore.

After about a month of being MIA, I just looked and found that I was quietly dropped from the group. I agree. I should have been. I'm sorry fellow bakers, I bit off more than I could chew during our move. While I had the best of intentions, I take my sweet tooth and leave you to bake without me!

Although, they have Orange Scented Scones coming up next week, and Carmelized Onions, Sage and Cheddar Muffins the next. Maybe I'll keep baking with them, informally. Only when I have the desire and time. Without the guilt of missing a week, or five.

Here was my first recipe, made in June!, from the Sweet Melissa Baking book. It was a hit at a friend's BBQ we went to. Canned, frozen or fresh peaches all seemed to work well for the Sweet Melissa bakers. Also, it was noted to lessen the sugar. I used 1/4 cup and found it to be perfect.

Was one of the easier cobblers I've made, and the bottom side of the biscuits cooked through (I hate when the cobbler topping has a gooey underside, yuck!).

Be sure to cut out fun shapes to top your cobbler. It's all about presentation!

Bear's Peach Cobbler
From the Sweet Melissa Baking book

Ingredients for the cobbler topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon whole milk or heavy cream, for glazing

Ingredients for the peach filling:
6 cups peeled, sliced, ripe peaches (bout 3 1/2 pounds)
Juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, and zest. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it resembles a coarse meal. Little by little stir in the heavy cream until dough starts to hold together (a bit more cream may be used if needed).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat dough together to form a round about 1/2-inch thick. Using a lightly floured 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter (I used a star cookie cutter) to cut the dough into 7 to 8 biscuits.

Place biscuits on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or aluminum foil and refrigerate loosely covered with plastic wrap, while you make the filling or until you are ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and butter a 2-quart ovenproof deep-dish pan. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or foil.

To make the filling, stir together peach slices, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in a large bowl.

Pour peach mixture into prepared dish.

Place the biscuits evenly on top of the peach mixture and brush with milk. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Place dish on the lined cookie sheet (so nothing bubbles over and messes up your oven!) and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until biscuits are cooked through (to test this, I lightly pulled up on one of my star biscuits to make sure they were fully cooked).

Remove to a wire rack to cool before serving. This cobbler should be eaten the day it is baked. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Serves 6 to 8.

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tomato Leek Tart

Oh my goodness, oh my GOOD-ness! We have a winner. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Yes, this recipe is THAT good.

Sometimes it's the random nights that become the unexpected happy surprise. I hadn't planned to make anything special this night. I simply had a pint of cherry tomatoes that needed to be used. For some reason, I've craved pies most of this summer. Preferably the kind with a lot of sugar and fruit, but that's off subject, as I had tomatoes to use. But, I think I originally chose this recipe because of it's pie crust. Seriously.

Yes, that's a foil wrapper I served off of. I'm classy. In my defense, I did warn you that this was not expected to be a special dinner. I was just trying to use up some tomatoes! And look what happened... pure deliciousness.

I hope you make this soon. The leek, the tomatoes, the cheese, the pie crust... it all works. It works so well, it dances on your tongue. Ok, not really. But it tastes good.

Tomato Leek Tart
from All Recipes

1 (15 ounce) package refrigerated pie crust
4 ounces provolone cheese, shredded
1 pound leeks, white portion only, sliced
6 medium plum tomatoes, thinly sliced (I used cherry tomatoes)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Place both pastry sheets on greased baking sheets. Sprinkle each with provolone cheese, leaving 1 in. around edges.

Arrange leeks and tomato slices over provolone cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and pepper. Top with mozzarella cheese. Fold edges over filling.

Bake at 425 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until crusts are lightly browned. Cut into wedges. Serve warm.

Guten appetit!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Chili-Cilantro Aioli

I would eat fish tacos year round, no doubt. But summertime seems like an extra appropriate time of year. Break open the barbie, enjoy a margarita or beer and invite some friends over for a perfect warm summer's evening.

We had such a good time with our friends at this dinner, I hope we can do it again soon. I love being back in Seattle and getting reacquainted with my girlfriends, their husbands AND the kids (oh my gosh... turn your back for a couple of years and everyone's babies are 'big kids', starting kindergarten and what not - crazy!). And all of my friends have such beautiful families. I probably don't say this enough (I'm not very gushy or sentimental normally), but I feel very lucky to have wonderful people in my life.

I used corn tortillas, delicious. I forgot to put out the cilantro and avocado, didn't matter. And I made a yummy aioli sauce, don't skip the aioli! The tacos were a hit.

I served the fish tacos with sweet potato fries.

Thanks for coming over, friends. It's good to be home.

Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Chili-Cilantro Aioli
adapted from Cooking Light

4 cups very thinly pre-sliced green cabbage
1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
1 serrano or jalapeno chile, seeded and minced (leave seeds in for more fire!)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided (depends on which cooking method used, see below)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 pound tilapia fillets (we used the frozen mahi-mahi fillets from Costco- 1 fillet per person)
1 teaspoon chili powder
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 15 ounce can black beans
1 ripe avocado, sliced
Salsa (optional)

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced (jalapeno OK)
1 garlic clove, minced

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add juice, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss well to combine. Set aside.

To make the aioli: Combine all ingredients and mix well. Can be made up to 1 hour before, keep in refrigerator.

Heat beans on the stove or in the microwave, and put in a serving bowl. Peel and slice avocado, place on a serving plate.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish evenly with chili powder and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add fish to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from heat, and place fish on a serving platter.
Heat grill. Rub/Brush fish with enough oil to keep it from sticking to your grill pan. Sprinkle fish evenly with chili powder and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Grill fish direct or in a grill pan, according to thickness of the fish (ours took 4-5 minutes on each side), and your desired degree of doneness. Remove from heat, and place fish on a serving platter.

Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spoon about 1/4 cup cabbage mixture down the center of each tortilla. Divide fish evenly among tortillas; fold in half. Serve tacos with remaining cabbage mixture, extra jarred salsa (or my cousin Skye's homemade salsa), aioli, avocado and black beans.

More side dishes that go well with fish tacos:
- Lime Quinoa Salad with Fresh Mint, from Karina's Kitchen
- Summer Green Bean Salad, from 101 Cookbooks
- Grilled Potatoes with Garlic and Herbs, from Andrea Meyers

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Blue Cheese Coleslaw

Loosen the belt buckles... this is a rich, delicious summertime food that will be feasted on. Have a large family picnic or friend's BBQ coming up? This coleslaw would be perfect. It goes soooo well with veggie burgers, or for the meat eaters, I bet it would be smashing with BBQ chicken.

You can adjust the richness based on how much blue cheese you put in it. And by how long you let it sit. The day I made it, I thought it was perfect. The next day, the richness had exploded and I could only eat a few bites.

I normally prefer a lighter 'salad' side, but I have to admit, this was really good the day-of. Really, really good. I also really liked the mix of veggies used (nothing out of the ordinary for coleslaw, but I don't use cabbage a lot and it was a nice change from the norm). Try some variations, based on what sounds good or what you have in the fridge. I bet this would be great with some green beans, cauliflower or broccoli added. I can also imagine the sauce used on things other than a traditional coleslaw, such as a broccoli, sunflower seed and carrot mix. Yum!

One last note: Because of the richness of the blue cheese, I think the serving sizes are a bit smaller than normal. This makes quite a bit of coleslaw, so for 5-6 adults, I would half the recipe. If you want leftovers, make the full amount.

Blue Cheese Coleslaw
adapted slightly from Deb (aka: Smitten Kitchen) on NPR

1/2 small head green cabbage
1/2 small head red cabbage
1 10 oz. package shredded carrots
2 cups (16 ounces) mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard (I only used dijon)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (rice vinegar also works)
1 teaspoon celery salt (I omitted this)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) crumbled Roquefort blue cheese
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cut the cabbages in half and then in quarters and cut out the cores. Slice the cabbage into long strands, then chop a bit more until you have reasonable sized pieces (for me, that means 'bite sized'). Add carrots to cabbage.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, both mustards (see my note above), vinegar, celery salt, kosher salt and pepper. Pour enough mayonnaise dressing over the grated vegetables and toss to moisten well. Add crumbled blue cheese and parsley and toss with vegetables.

At this point, the original recipe says to: "Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more to allow the flavors to meld." However, we ate ours within a half hour of making it, and it was perfect. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Guten appetit!