Friday, February 27, 2009

Sweet Potato Patties

I may have mentioned this in the past. But I'm a creature of habit. I have a typical routine in the mornings, which I like. When Tim and I go to town and eat out, there are literally 3 restaurants we always go to. I can branch out on occasion, but when I know what I like, I generally stick with it.

As such with sweet potatoes. When I make them, my go to recipes are the Herb Roasted Sweet Potatoes or Sweet Potato Fries. I love them, and when I get sweet potatoes into my hot hands, I decide which of those two recipes I'm in the mood for and go with it.

While browsing and clicking through some food blogs one day (who am I kidding? I do that everyday! It's become a visual addiction), I spotted these sweet potato patties. Interesting. They would serve up as a main dish, instead of the side dish I usually use my sweet potatoes for, AND it would take advantage of the sweet chili sauce I just bought for another recipe. Well, those are good enough reasons for me to give it a go.

They turned out just as expected, delicious. I like the mix of rice and veggies with the potato, as plain potato patties can seem like eating mush. These were firm, and held up well. Gave a nice sweet flavor, but had some spice to them with the cumin. And we really liked the addition of the sweet chili sauce.

While the patties don't trump my other two favorite sweet potato recipes, it's definitely a solid option when I want to branch out or have a few leftovers (cup of rice, frozen peas, etc) to use up.

Sweet Potato Patties
from Exclusively Food

1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup cooked rice
1 large sweet potato (approx. 1 cup) peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen mixed corn kernels and baby peas
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon oil, for frying
Sweet chili sauce, to serve

If you want to make your own breadcrumbs, place day-old bread in a food processor and process to make fine crumbs.

Boil, steam or microwave sweet potato until tender.

In a large bowl, roughly mash the sweet potato with a fork. Add the breadcrumbs, rice, onion, peas/corn, parmesan, cumin, garlic, egg, parsley, salt and pepper and stir until just combined.

Form the mixture into 8 patties.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook patties for approximately 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through.

Serve patties hot, with sweet chili sauce. Cooked patties can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated in the oven or microwave.

More sweet potato recipes from other food bloggers:
- Sweet Potato and Leek Latkes, from Gluten-Free Bay
- Spicy Crockpot Sweet Potatoes, from Kalyn's Kitchen
- Sweet Potato Buttermilk Rolls, from Pinch My Salt

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

100th post: Meet the Chef's Helper

No recipe today, just sublime cuteness...

Happy, happy to you and your loved ones.

Guten appetit!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Curried Cauliflower with Chickpeas and Tomatoes

This was a fun recipe, as it allowed me to try something new: making Ghee. Ghee is clarified butter, used often in Indian dishes. You use it as you would regular butter or oil, but it has a more distinct flavor.

It wasn't hard to make, and when called for in a future Indian dish, I will definitely whip up another batch to try and make the taste as authentic as possible.

My only change in the recipe was not to cook the ghee as long as requested, or based on time. From other ghee recipes I read, there's no time requirement. You need to watch the butter and will know when it's ready based on the appearance.

Super easy recipe, very filling, and made excellent leftovers. Great weeknight meal!

Curried Cauliflower with Chickpeas and Tomatoes
from Serious Eats

1/4 cup butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 head cauliflower, stem removed and chopped into florets
3 cups canned chickpeas
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Fresh cilantro, chopped

Add the butter to a small saucepan. Melt the butter over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low; cook for 45 minutes. Strain the liquid. (I did not follow these directions, see my notes above)

Pour the ghee into a large pot. Raise heat to medium; add the onion, curry powder, and ginger. Cook until onion is softened.

Add the tomatoes; cook for 6 minutes more.

Add the cauliflower, chickpeas, tomato paste, and 1 cup of water. Cover pot; cook 15 minutes. Remove lid; cook until liquid thickens. Stir until everything is coated. Season with salt and sprinkle with cilantro.

More recipes that use Ghee:
- Ghee Rice, from Kitchen Wonders
- Venkaya Pakora/Onion Pakora, from The Art of Cooking Indian Food
- Vegetable Biryani, from Dil Se

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Russian Mushroom & Potato Soup

A friend of mine, Michelle, sent me this recipe with a glowing, neon sign, electric recommendation that 'she loved it'. Ok then, it's a must-try!

When I went to the recipe site, I was then surprised to see that it had 5 stars. Some of my favorite recipes on the various cooking sites only have 4 stars. It actually seems kind of hard to get a recipe rated at a 5, since reviewers have differing opinions. This led me to be even more intrigued about the soup.

Since it still feels like winter, and is ridiculously cold (I hate when I walk outside and my ears start to ring after a couple minutes because they are so cold, ugh!), seems like there's no time like the present to make this comfort soup.

Verdict: 5 stars. It is very deserving of it's ranking. It's potato soup kicked up a notch.

Based on reviews though, I did make some changes. Especially where the calorie content would be the highest... I lessened the butter (use margarine if you can), and got rid of the half-and-half. I read through the reviews to get some additional ideas, including adding the celery. I've made my changes to the recipe below, as I cooked it. If you want to see the original recipe, click here.

I also halved the soup, which made 2 main dinner portions and 1 leftover lunch. Perfect.

So come along, travel with me to Russia. You're going to like it over there, I promise!

Russian Mushroom and Potato Soup
adapted from Allrecipes

3 tablespoons butter (or margarine), divided
2 leeks, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
6 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
1 teaspoon salt (if your vegetable broth includes salt, omit this)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
fresh dill weed, for garnish (optional)

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Mix in leeks, carrots and celery, and cook 5 minutes. Pour in broth. Season with dill, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Mix in potatoes, cover, and cook 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender but firm.

While the potatoes/soup is cooking, melt remaining butter in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the mushrooms 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

When the potatoes/soup is done, remove from heat and discard the bay leaf. Using a hand blender, blend half the soup to create some thickness/texture. If you don't have a hand blender, you can pour half of the soup into a regular blender, then return blended soup to the pot and stir to combine. (You can omit the blending portion if you prefer the soup chunkier)

Stir mushrooms into the soup.

In a small bowl, mix the sour cream and flour until smooth. Stir into the soup to thicken. Garnish each bowl of soup with fresh dill to serve (optional). Serves 6, as a main course.

More foods from Russia:
- Russian Pirozhkis, from 5 Star Foodie
- Blinchiki (Russian crepes), from Beyond Salmon
- Russian Tea Cookies, from Albion Cooks (are these really russian or a made up american thing?)

Guten appetit!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gingered Carrot Soup

I hate to do this to you, just before Valentines Day. But, this recipe gets slotted under 'disasters', as it didn't turn out for me. But hey, they can't all be winners, right?! Otherwise, I might have my own cooking show or cookbook. And besides, for your Valentines menu, I just posted some super stellar recipes... the pesto scallops and coconut shrimp.

I found this recipe a couple months ago, as I was searching for easy make ahead recipes or fast go-to recipes for after the baby's arrival. Grace recommended a recipe site called Mollie Katzen and I probably spent about 2 hours drooling over the recipes (thanks for the great tip, Grace!). I am amazed at myself, having spent so much time on the website. Most recipes don't have pictures, which is usually a must for me. But just the food combinations captured me!

For example... carrot and ginger. Oooh, sounds like such a winner for cold weather. Doesn't it? Healthy and warming, can't ask for much better. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out quite as good as I'd hoped, but that may have partly been due to my spice substitutions. I did not have fennel, allspice or dried mint. I used 1/4 teaspoon chili powder instead. Smelled wonderful, but the end flavor wasn't there.

It wont keep me from trying some of her other recipes though. I have a long list to experiment with.

Our feedback: Tasted like you are eating a carrot, and fairly bland. I'm not sure why I found this surprising, but carrots have a strong flavor. Therefore, you need equally strong spices or other ingredients to temper it, or they get lost in the carrot. Again, our outcome can't truly represent the recipe, as I omitted some significant ingredients.

What I did: The original recipe called for only 1/4 teaspoon of each spice, and it's not nearly enough. I bumped it up to 1 full teaspoon. The ginger only gave a slight hint of flavor, and the cashews were lost in the soup, but they do add some protein (I would still keep them). I added milk, as the texture also needed more creaminess. You could also try adding a cooked potato for some creamy texture and to thin out the carrot a bit. I ate the soup with a large dollop of sour cream, which I liked.

I think Mollie's original recipe could be great as a sauce or side to another dish. She recommends this recipe with her Samosas, which I can see being very tasty. As a soup though, I'd pass.

Gingered Carrot Soup
adapted from Mollie Katzen

2 pounds carrots
4 cups water
1 tablespoon butter or oil
1 1/2 cup chopped onion
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon all spice
1 teaspoon dried mint
3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup lightly toasted cashews
1/4-1/2 cup milk or heavy cream

Peel and trim carrots, then cut into 1 inch pieces. Place in a medium-large saucepan with water, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until carrots are very tender (approximately 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the carrot pieces).

Meanwhile, heat the butter/oil in a small pan. Add onions and saute over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, salt and spices. Turn heat to low, and continue to saute for another 8-10 minutes, or until everything is well mingled and the onions are very soft. Stir in the lemon juice.

Use a food processor or blender to puree everything together (including the toasted cashews). You may need to do this in several batches.

Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with sour cream if desired. Serve with whole wheat crusty bread, or grilled cheese sandwiches. Serves 4.

Other carrot soup recipes I'd like to try:
- Laura's Carrot Soup, from Kitchen Parade (think I will try this one next time)
- Roasted Tomato and Carrot Soup with Ginger, from Daily Unadventures in Cooking
- Indian Spiced Carrot Soup with Ginger, from Epicurious
- Carrot Soup with Dill Pesto, from Epicurious

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oatmeal Spice Cake

Valentines day is coming up. I fall into the camp of appreciating the holiday and what it stands for, but understand it's a Hallmark holiday. Valentines is something that should be celebrated everyday. I don't care if we go out to dinner specifically on V-day, the prices are all jacked up and it's usually overly crowded. I prefer to receive flowers on another random day, when the prices are back to normal, and to go to dinner at our favorite restaurant when we feel like a special night out and aren't forced to have a set course meal. Hmm, maybe I sound a little bit bah-hum-bug. I'm not, I really do love the idea of celebrating your Valentine. It's just that I'd usually choose to stay in on Valentines and make a fun dinner for just the two of us, and then maybe go out to dinner the following weekend.

Plus, I like to do fun things for Tim to tell him he's my valentine more than once a year. I write notes and put them in his lunch. I surprise him with a special dessert on random days. And I still ask him on dates, such as to go on a walk, to go out to dinner, see a movie, etc.

So while I'm happy that Valentines day is coming up, I hope it's not the only day he feels utterly and completely loved.

If you happen to be spending a lovely night and dinner at home with your family or loved one, this may be a perfect treat to surprise them with! Valentines day, or any other day. I know chocolate is traditional, but there's something about the combination of coconut, nuts and sugar that draws me in.

Super easy to make, and the cake was light and fluffy. The coconut topping gave it most of the sweetness, but wasn't too sweet. Kept well for leftovers the next day too. I served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (A bit of overindulgence? Yep, guilty).

Yikes, this is a dark photo! Sorry

Oatmeal Spice Cake
from Tammy's Recipes

Spice Cake Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup quick oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, softened or melted
1 cup water
2 eggs
2 tablespoons molasses

Coconut Topping Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 tablespoons light cream or whole milk

Measure all cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Blend 1/2 minute on low speed, and then for 3 minutes on high.

Pour batter into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool cake slightly.

To make coconut topping, melt butter in sauce pan. Add brown sugar and stir over medium heat until sugar is mostly dissolved. Add coconut, pecans, and cream. Spread topping over cake and broil cake for 2-3 minutes, until topping is bubbly and browned.

More cakes to try:
- Our favorite Carrot Cake
- Lavender Chiffon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, from Fresh from the Oven
- German Chocolate Cake, from David Lebovitz
- Mocha Rum Cake, from Joy the Baker

Guten appetit!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Coconut Prawns

Seems to be seafood week, I know. But this recipe was another favorite pick for Valentines Day. I like the idea of 'breaking out the big guns' for a special occasion and your special person. Makes me all giddy and excited to celebrate and do something extra wonderful. I guarantee this recipe will elicit: "I can't believe you love me THIS much". Or if you're not at that stage yet, "I never knew you cared like this!"

I have already made this recipe twice - once at my dad's birthday, and then an encore performance at my sister's house warming (after she begged). Both times, not a shrimp was left. My family had no qualms woofing them down, and hovering over me as I fried each batch. At the house warming, people were a little more polite and took only a couple shrimp at a time. However, they never strayed far from the platter, and returned almost immediately after their current allotment was gone. It's a good feeling when people noticeably enjoy and appreciate your food. Yay.

If these don't make your Valentines menu, make them just because. Just because you are worth it! Just because, on a random day, you want to do something special for someone! Just because coconut is on sale! But definitely make these.

Coconut Shrimp
from Ray's Boathouse Cookbook

2-3 quarts canola oil for frying

Seasoned Flour:
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup milk
1 cup flour
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon curry powder

2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut (I used sweetened, and was great)
2 cups panko bread crumbs

24 prawns (16-20 per pound), tail on

Set up a deep fryer and heat oil to 300 degrees farenheit.

Set up 3 bowls. In the first bowl, combine four and salt. In the second bowl, combine milk, flour, eggs, salt and curry powder to make a batter. In the third bowl, combine flaked coconut and panko.

Holding the tail, dredge each prawn in the seasoned flour and gently shake off excess. Then, dip prawn in batter. Third, toss prawn in coconut mixture to coat completely and pat gently to press mixture into batter.

Deep-fry immediately until golden, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer prawns to a plate lined with a papet towel to drain. Serve warm with Sesame Plum Sauce.

Serve with a sweet thai chili sauce. Serves 6-8, as an appetizer.

More prawn recipes:
- Garlicky Shrimp and Spinach Bake, from Karina's Kitchen
- Shrimp with Snow Peas, from Rasa Malaysia
- Arugula Shrimp Salad, from Cooking with Amy
- Firecracker Shrimp with Sweet Chili Sauce, from Steamy Kitchen

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pesto-Marinated Sea Scallops

It's hard to live in Seattle and not love seafood. I can't claim to be a true vegetarian because I eat seafood, but that's OK with me. It's a great source of protein, tastes delicious and can be bought very, very fresh (or take a boat out and catch your own!).

Needless to say, Seattle has numerous fantastic seafood restaurants. Some of the most well known: Anthony's, Flying Fish, Matts in the Market, Palisades and Ray's Boathouse. Anthony's Cafe might be my ultimate favorite, due to their fish tacos. What can I say, I'm a girl with simple tastes. But Anthony's main restaurant has a crab and corn chowder to die for. De-licious!

I'm not sure how my mom acquired the Ray's Boathouse Cookbook, although my brother worked there for a summer. Possible previous Christmas present? However she came by it, I feel so lucky! I know, it's not my book. But it's my moms. That gives me visitation rights, right?

I devoured this book during my last visit to my mom's house. I must have copied ten recipes, and made three within a few days time. I couldn't resist.

This scallop recipe, and I'm not even a big fan of scallops, looked beyond normal taste bud goodness. I decided to try it out for my grandmother's 94th birthday, as the appetizer. My sister decided to save the four leftovers and eat them as her main dinner. They were good. Really good.

Just thought they could provide one option for you, as you begin to plan your Valentines dinner menu. xoxo

Pesto-Marinated Sea Scallops
from Ray's Boathouse Cookbook

1/2 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of black pepper
1 pound sea scallops (approx. 10-20 per pound, depending on size)

In a blender or processor, combine basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, scraping sides with a spatula. Pesto can be made a day in advance and refrigerated.

In a bowl, combine pesto and scallops. Toss to coat evenly. Cover and marinate scallops in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Heat a grill or nonstick pan to medium-high. Remove scallops from the marinade and place on the grill or in the pan. Cook until the centers just lose their translucency, about 1 minute on each side (mine took longer, probably because they were so large). Serve warm or chilled.

Serves 4 as a main course, or up to 8 as appetizers.

Other scallop recipes:
- Sun Gold Tomatoes with Tarragon, Seared Scallops and Brown Butter, from White on Rice Couple
- Bourbon-Maple Seared Scallops, from Redacted Recipes
- Baked Sea Scallops and Linguine in Roasted Pepper Sauce, from La Mia Cucina
- Sauteed Scallops with Garlic, from Kalyn's Kitchen

Guten appetit!