May 2008 Archives


It happens to the best of us. You realize that you are missing an ingredient in a recipe.
Yes, everyone knows that you should read the recipe all the way through before you start it. Okay, so you didn't. Now what?
You are not really supposed to make too many adjustments when baking but there are some substitutions that you can get away with.

Here is my list:

Instead of 1 cup of buttermilk, you can use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make a cup.

Instead of self rising Flour, you can use 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt.

Instead of 1 cup of heavy cream when baking (not whipping) you can use
3/4 of a cup of whole milk and 1/4 of a cup of butter.

Instead of 1/2 a cup of brown sugar, you can use 1/2 a cup of sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons of molasses

Instead of sour cream, you can use full fat yogurt (the texture might change slightly)

Instead of vanilla extract, you can use almond or some other kind of extract.

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I made this pasta in a cooking class for bachelors that I taught. I wanted something that was fairly inexpensive (cheap vodka works fine) and had a romantic feel to it. The bachelors kept telling me about how they made it for their dates and they loved it.
Sexy!

Ingredients:

500 grams of pasta
Salt
1 and a half tablespoons of butter
Olive oil
1 onion (chopped)
1 and a half cups of whole canned tomatoes (diced)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Fresh thyme (about 4 sprigs)
250 ml of cream
¼ cup of vodka
Tabasco
Fresh Basil
Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil and butter in pan. Put onion in butter and sauté until transparent.

2. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and thyme. Cook while stirring, until the liquid
disappears (about 10 minutes).
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3. Add cream, vodka and Tabasco until thick (about 3 minutes).
4. At the same time, cook pasta according to directions.
5. Mix with sauce and top with basil and Parmesan if desired.

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Pistachio-Crusted Lamb Burger These are easy to prep and easy to impress. The pistachio spice rub adds lots of flavor and the aioli mellows the heat. Mint and ripe grape tomatoes make this a fresh and satisfying meal. However, I wouldn't recommend them for a "first date"... unless you consider seeing your companion with half a burger shoved into their mouth exciting.

A great wine pairing for this would be a White Burgundy, a Sauvignon Blanc, or a steel-fermented Chardonnay of some kind. Your date likes beer instead? How about a Pilsner or Hefeweizen?

Pistachio-Crusted Lamb Burgers

24 oz ground lamb (or 18oz lamb stew meat and 6 oz ground pork)
1 cup pistachios (shelled)
1 tsp fresh ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp fresh ground coriander
pinch cayenne
salt and pepper
olive oil

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 small sweet onion, sliced
handful of fresh mint
handful of flat leaf parsley
2 tsp raw sugar
2 lemons, zest and juice

1/4 cup mayo
1 clove garlic, minced

4 rolls (potato, brioche, or other sweet roll)

  1. combine tomatoes, onion, torn mint, torn parsley, 2 Tbl olive oil, juice of one lemon, salt, and pepper (to taste) in a medium bowl; allow to rest at room temperature
  2. mix mayo, zest of 2 lemons, juice of 1 lemon, garlic, salt, and pepper (to taste) in a small serving dish; set aside
  3. pour pistachios into a seal-top bag and smash till ground coarse (I recommend a rolling pin) or use a fancy food processor; add spices and spread out on a plate
  4. heat a 10-12" skillet on med-high heat
  5. if ground lamb is unavailable you can grind lamb stew meat in a food processor till medium-coarse, then combine with ground pork; form 4 patties, approximately 6oz each and season with salt and pepper; press into the pistachio mixture to coat
  6. add about 3 Tbl olive oil to the skillet; place burgers in pan (don't overcrowd) press and cover very loosely with a lid to avoid splatter; cook approx 5 min or till deeply browned; flip and finish 4 min (check for doneness here- medium to medium-rare is preferable for good quality lamb); remove to a paper towel to rest
  7. halve and toast rolls if desired; spread aioli on both sides, place your burger, add the salad on top, and serve with a large napkin.

Pistachio-Crusted Lamb Burger

Shnitzel is quick, easy and filling. I love bringing these to picnics because they taste so good cold. The Japanese Panko bread crumbs add a crispier texture than regular bread crumbs.

Ingredients:

About 4- 6 pieces of thin boneless chicken breasts
2 eggs
salt and pepper
1/2 a cup of flour
1 cup of Panko Bread Crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs, coarser than regular bread crumbs)
oil for frying

1. Mix two eggs with two tablepoons of water.
2. Set up work station in this order:
1 plate with chicken, 1 plate with flour, 1 plate with egg, 1 plate with bread crumbs.
3. Add salt and pepper to flour.
4. Heat a tiny bit of oil in non-stick pan. (You can deep- fry if you prefer)
5. When the oil is hot, dip chicken in flour, shake off excess, dip in egg, dip in bread crumbs (make sure to coat both sides)
6. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side.

You can just keep adding more ingredients as needed. No need for exact measurements. I prefer them thick but my husband likes them thinner. To make them thinner, pound the chicken with the back of a glass before you start the dipping process.

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Nothing beats homemade granola. It tastes a million times better than store- bought granola. The cherries in this recipe add a unique touch. The temperature is higher than other granola recipes which makes it brown and super crunchy.

Ingredients:

A little less than a half a cup of honey
A half a stick of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 cups of rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 a cup of sunflower seeds
1/2 a cup of pumpkin seeds
1/2 a cup of sliced almonds
1/2 a cup of dried cherries
1/2 a cup of sweetened coconut flakes

1. Heat oven at 340 degrees.
2 Heat butter, vanilla and honey in small saucepan and cook on low until ingredients are melted.

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3 Place all dry ingredients in bowl. Add melted ingredients and mix until thoroughly coated.

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4. Spread ingredients in single layer on baking sheet. Use two baking sheets if needed. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Keep opening the oven and giving the ingredients a little toss.

Ingredients before going into the oven
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The finished granola is brown, crunchy and delicious!
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Serving Suggestions:
Layered with yogurt and fruit.
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Give as a gift in little bags.
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Labaneh or labne is a soft, thick Middle Eastern cheese made of
of full fat yogurt that has been strained overnight. Labaneh tastes wonderful with pita, olive oil and za'atar.
Za'atar or zahatar is the name of a spice mix widely used in the Middle East. It is also the name of the herb used in this spice mix that could be referred to as European oregano (different types of marjoram and wintersweet). Other components of this spice mix are ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, sumac and salt. You can get Za'atar at spice specialty stores or at Middle Eastern Grocery stores.

Labaneh with olive oil and za'atar.
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Za'atar
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Ingredients:
1 tub of full fat yogurt
1 tablespoon of salt(if desired)
a coffee filter or a cheesecloth
a mesh strainer, sieve or colander
a large bowl


1. Add salt to yogurt if desired.
2. Pour yogurt into coffee filter and place in strainer on top of a bowl. Cheesecloth method: Place yogurt in cheesecloth and place over strainer and bowl.
3. Let sit in fridge for 12- 24 hours. After 12 hours it acquires a thick consistency . If a thicker Labaneh is preferred, leave to drain for another 12 hours.
4. Drain liquid.
That's it! You have Labaneh.
To make Labaneh with za'atar: Spread Labaneh on a round plate, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle zaatar on top. Dip pita slices in this spread.
Other Labaneh ideas:
Make a cheese spread by mixing it with fresh herbs such as basil or chives.
Substitute sour cream for labaneh next to your favorite dish.

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I freely admit the first time my wife had me try heirloom tomatoes I was suspicious because none of them were that perfect red color I'd grown up eating. The purples, greens, and inconsistent reds and oranges just didn't look like what my brain expected from a tomato. After sampling several different varieties, I'm now hooked on heirloom tomatoes as a great alternative to many of the choices that look "normal". Growing them at home means I don't have to pay the high prices heirloom varieties have come to command at both farmers markets and stores like Whole Foods. As the fruit ripens, I'll share some great recipes for heirloom tomatoes.


5 Heirloom Tomato Varieties

This year I'm planting 5 specific varieties of heirloom tomato, focusing on shorter growing season heirlooms from Russia along with a couple of North American favorites. On the list of this year's heirlooms:
Green Zebra - an heirloom variety that found its way to the Seed Saver catalog via Washington State farmer Tom Wager.
Japanese Trifele Black - The name is misleading as these are actually a Russian tomato.
Black Prince A tomato variety originally from Irkutsk in Siberia.
Cherokee Purple - a North American pre-1890's variety passed down from Cherokee Indians.
Paul Robeson - another Siberian varietal known for a unique flavor with a smokiness not typically found in other tomatoes.

Planting heirloom tomatoes is very similar to the traditional varieties specifically cultivated for backyard gardens. Because heirloom varieties tend to be less disease resistant and more susceptible to the cold, I opted for pre-hardened plants from a local grower. I'm planting them in 15 gallon pots specially to show that you don't need a giant garden in order to grow heirloom tomatoes. Each pot is first filled 1/3 full with organic compost.

Tomato Planting Pot with Organic Compost

Next the plant is seated deep in the pot, so that most of the existing stem is covered with soil. Tomato plants send out roots from any portion of the stem that is submerged in soil, which provides both a stronger base for the plant and a larger root system for absorbing nutrients from the soil.

Heirloom Tomato in Pot without Dirt

Be sure to pinch the leaves that will be submerged from the stem so that the plant isn't trying to provide nutrients for leaves that will ultimately die back.

Heirloom Tomato in Pot with Dirt

Make sure your plants are in an area that gets a good southern exposure, whether you plant in a garden or in pots as shown here. I'll post additional photos in the coming weeks as the plants progress.

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Lavender lemon sorbet is a wonderful treat for the adventurous palate.
This sorbet will coat your tongue with a lemony-rosy flavor that can be used to cleanse your palate between courses or as a refreshing dessert . It sounds fancy but it is actually quite simple. No special equipment needed. A food processor adds a thicker texture to the sorbet.

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Ingredients:

3/4 of a cup to 1 cup of sugar.
2 and 1/4 cups of water
1 tablespoon of dried culinary lavender (found in specialty food stores or in spice shops)
Juice of one big lemon or two little ones
Note: Too much lavender can have a soapy taste so make sure not to use a heaping tablespoon. You can even start with a little less than a tablespoon and add as you taste

1. Stir 3/4 of a cup of sugar into water in a saucepan until it dissolves. Add the lavender and bring to a boil on medium- high heat. Taste and add the rest of sugar if not sweet enough. If too sweet add more lemon juice.
2. Transfer to a thin baking dish. A thin layer will freeze faster. Let cool and remove lavender with a strainer.

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3. Freeze for about an hour or until slightly frozen. After an hour, quickly process in food processor for just a few seconds until all mixed. Return to freezer and do it again after 2 hours. Keep doing this every few hours until you get the desired consistency.
If you don't have a food processor just scrape with a spoon and mix each time.

4. Scoop and serve.

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Roasted garlic has a sweet, less pungent taste than regular garlic. It can be served next to your favorite meat dish or spread on warm, fresh bread.

Ingredients:
Garlic
Olive oil
Aluminum foil

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Peel off outer layer making sure to keep cloves intact (it will be hard to peel the bottom part but you can leave that on). Slice off the top revealing the cloves. See picture.

Garlic part 1

2. Brush with olive oil.
3. Wrap in aluminum foil and place in oven for one hour.

Garlic in foil

4. Remove from oven and check to make sure it is soft. Squeeze out garlic and enjoy.

Roasted Garlic Ideas:

Add to mashed potatoes, rice or risotto.
Add to your favorite hummus.
Layer it with cheese on crackers.

Ingredients:

4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 1/4 cups of warm water

1. Mix all ingredients in stand mixer for 5 minutes using dough hook (on medium speed) until you get a smooth, shiny dough. You can also mix by hand.
2. Cover with plastic wrap and place aside for 20 minutes.
3. Roll dough into small balls and place on lightly floured surface.
4. Cover with a damp towel and let sit for 10 minutes.
5. Flatten with rolling pin until very thin.
6. Heat a nonstick frying pan (without oil) on high heat until it is extremely hot.
7. Place tortilla on pan and cook for about 1 minute until you see little holes or blisters.
6. Flip to other side and do the same.
8. Continue cooking the rest of them.
9. Wrap tortillas in dish towel to keep warm.

Use an old frying pan because the tortillas leave hard to remove stains on pan.
It is hard to make circular tortillas. You can use a knife to trim them into a circle.
Tortillas can be frozen in plastic wrap and briefly heated in microwave.

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