Wednesday, January 26, 2011

wintertime grilling: greek-american fusion

our cooking club has wanted to do some wintertime grilling for a while, and we were excited when real simple had this lamb kebabs recipe in the february 2011 issue.  it was a great simple greek spin on lamb and lima beans using a shared vinaigrette.  definitely a recipe worth sharing, and one worth repeating.  good taste and great combination!  and we are sure grilling it in the snow made it taste even better.

as for our dessert we chose baklava. no one had made this before and we were up for the challenge, we chose a recipe from simply recipes.  it might have been helpful if someone had made this before, but we would definitely try it again because it’s a great dessert, and we don’t think we are too far from perfecting it.  

the major issue was the lack of phyllo dough.  the recipe called for one pound (as does every recipe actually) but that was definitely not enough…we used an even smaller pan and ended up rolling out the dough.  probably not what you are supposed to do…it also calls for 8 layers of phyllo dough on the top...which was totally impossible, as we rolled all 6 small pieces (which came from the 1 lb box), out just to have 6 layers in the middle.  so maybe before we try this again we will look at other recipes to compare, or simply just by a few more boxes of phyllo dough!

lamb kebabs with lima bean salad
serves 4| hands-on: 25m | total time: 40m

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
kosher salt and black pepper
1 ounce Feta, crumbled (1⁄4 cup)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

spinach pie + zucchini risotto

our recipes this week came from initially thinking of breakfast as a theme, and then developed in to a quiche with side risotto.  the quiche recipe included ingredients we were interested in sampling together; however, there was enough spinach for probably two quiches.   not enough eggs didn’t make this seems quiche-y at all.  Also, the recipe called for herb and garlic feta cheese, which has a great taste, but was unfortunately camouflaged by too many greens.

the zucchini risotto was a major disappointment.  again, it seemed like it would be a good combination of ingredients.  will not make note of any changes, will just not recommend this recipe or try it again.

both recipes were from

spinach quiche

Thursday, January 6, 2011

cheers to pizza + soup!

this week’s menu included a soup and pizza which were both de-lisch!  the recipes we chose were based on ingredients, taste, and the opportunity to learn the process of making dough.  the real simple mag had the columbian chicken soup which sounded amazing, and recently i had seen 3 other recipes in 3 different places for it. so that alone gave us a sign to try it!  after reading the recipes in other magazines and seeing them online, the real simple one had the best ingredients by far.  it was an easy process, amazing taste and very filling.  NB the recipe was exact to say that it serves four-we didn’t add or modify the recipe either.

we decided to tackle a pizza also in thinking the soup would not alone fill us up.  so before preparing the soup, we had a lesson on making pizza dough to make lemon asparagus gruyere pizzas.  we finished late because of all the prep work for the dough, but it was well worth the time, and great to take leftovers home.  The recipe said to keep the dough in the fridge over night, which we didn’t not do.   instead we let it rise for the second time while we at the soup, and after we finished preparing the pizzas. 

columbian chicken and potato soup
serves 4  hands-on time: 20m total time: 45m

4cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
kosher salt and black pepper
cut-up avocado, fresh cilantro sprigs, and capers, for serving

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine the chicken broth and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and corn and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove the chicken and corn from the saucepan and reserve.

Strain the cooking liquid into a large bowl or measuring cup and reserve.

Wipe out the saucepan and heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and the reserved cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the pota-toes are cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, shred the chicken and cut the corn pieces into 1-inch-thick rounds. Return the chicken and corn to the soup. Add the lime juice, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Serve the soup with the avocado, cilantro, capers, and lime wedges

By Kay Chun,  January 2011

lemon-asparagus and gruyere pizza
makes four 12 inch pizzas

1 envelope active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading and rolling
1 1/2 tablespoons pure olive oil
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1/2 pound medium asparagus, sliced 1/4 inch thick on the diagonal
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese, (1/2 pound)
2 small lemons, preferably Meyer, sliced paper-thin
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
we added: onion and garlic

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the bread flour until blended, then cover with a kitchen towel and let the sponge stand at room temperature until bubbly, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Add the remaining 2 cups of flour and 1/2 cup warm water to the sponge in the bowl. Add the pure olive oil and the sea salt and stir until almost combined. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently until smooth and silky, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Let the dough return to room temperature. Punch it down and form it into 4 balls. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.
In a small saucepan of boiling salted water, blanch the asparagus just until bright green, about 20 seconds. Drain and refresh the asparagus under cold water. Pat dry.
Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500°ork with 1 piece of the pizza dough at a time and keep the rest covered. On a lightly floured work surface, roll or stretch the dough out to a 12-inch round. Transfer the round to a lightly floured pizza peel or cookie sheet. Brush the dough with 1 teaspoon of the extra-virgin olive oil and top with 1/2 cup of the Gruyère and one-fourth of the asparagus and lemon slices. Sprinkle the pizza with kosher salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan.
Slide the pizza onto the hot stone and bake until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling, about 10 minutes. Cut the pizza into wedges and serve immediately. Repeat with the remaining dough and toppings.

The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 and refrigerated for up to 1 day.
If serving 4 pizzas at once, the first 3 can be reheated directly on the oven racks while the last one bakes.
By Elizabeth Falkner on Food and Wine

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

shrimp scampi w rice pudding dessert

tonight's menu we used traditional meals, however experimented with different recipes.  shrimp scampi is common in my house, but not my co-chefs, so we used a recipe she found, so it was new to me.  it was good we both agreed, but definitely could have been better, having tweeked a few steps.  i would not recommend this recipe, however the ingredients were traditional and flavor basically the same.

the same situation was true for the rice pudding...this was something neither one of us had made before, and we also felt the need to tweek the recipe a little to improve the quality...this is all added in the notes...

shrimp scampi

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mediterranean Couscous Salad and Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes

Mediterranean Couscous Salad


1/2 c. whole wheat couscous
1/2 c. boiling water
1 c. diced plum tomatoes, peeled & seeded
1/2 c. diced cucumber, seeded
1/4 c. finely chopped red onion
1 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly gound pepper
1/2 c. feta cheese, crumbled


Combine couscous and water in large mixing bowl and let sit until water is absorbed. Combine in separate bowl vinegar, s&p and oil to make the dressing. When couscous is cool, fluff with a fork and add remaining ingredients and dressing. Toss to combine. Serve at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hrs. (It is better fresh though)

Makes 4 side dish servings

Serves 8Hands-On Time: 10m Total Time: 35m

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes

Thursday, December 2, 2010

pumpkin + sausage + zucchini lasagna w apple crisp dessert

tonight we cooked up some late seasonal recipes, a lasagna with zucchini + pumpkin, and apple crisp with granny smith apples.  the entre was for sure an experimental lasagna dish that was discovered on the Food Network’s site.  eye catching was the twelve stars ‘Pumpkin Lasagna’ by Robret Irvine.  it was simple to prep, but did take a bit of time (around 30-45 min).  as we were preparing it, the various ingredients seemed random and quite silly…but it worked.

SO much to our surprise, it turned out a very delish and would definitely make it again.  NB somehow we ended up using a lot more cheese than required…cook time 1 hour


Thursday, November 18, 2010

flavorful homemade chicken pot pie

pie crust (store made or)
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
4-6 tablespoons cold water

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
2 3/4 cup chicken broth
3 cups cubed chicken
vegetables: celery, carrots, peas
herbs: garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley

preheat oven to 375.  first make the filling (white sauce) in a large saucepan which was the butter, flour and broth.  melt the butter first, add flour and SLOWLY stir in the chicken broth.  make sure there is no clumping and the broth remains smooth.  (do this while the chicken is cooking)  then add in chopped garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley.  next add in the chopped vegetables, and chicken-once it is cool enough to cut.  after the filling is made, pour in to pie plates, cook for 50 min.  let cool for 10 minutes before serving. delisch!