Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mushroom quiche with arugula salad

I was baking Friday for the Farmers Market and I was getting hungry.  And with it being Lent, I had to whip up something "senza" meat. (without)  Being a baker and working at the Farmers market I always have the ingredients to whip up a great treat. 

This is a wonderful little quiche.  The custard is extremely light and paired with the earthy mushrooms and buttery crust is a combo made in heaven.  Lucy, one of our great market vendors, has beautiful arugula and I try to buy some every week to insure I always have some handy.

You can make this in any small tart pans you have. You can also make it in a large tart pan.

(Herb pie crust)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon thyme
8 oz cold butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1 inch pieces

Place the flour, salt, and thyme in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the the butter and pulse until pea sized balls are formed. Add the water and pulse again until the mixture starts to come together.  Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Oil 8 mini spring form pans. After refrigerating, cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each into a circle and line each pan with the dough. All the way up to the top. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2 pints baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, a good pinch of each

In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil and add the mushrooms, salt and pepper. Saute the mushroom over medium heat until  caramelized. I like a little crispness in the mushrooms.  Set aside to cool.

Custard filling
6 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
In a medium bowl, whisk all the ingredient together until smooth.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Divide the mushroom between all the tart shell. Fill each shell to 3/4 full.
Bake tarts for 40 to 50 min. The filling will  form a dome, which will deflate when cooled. When the tart is domed and the crust is golden, remove from oven to cool.

The quiche  can be eaten as is or with a salad. I like to top them with a simple arugula salad tossed in a basic vinaigrette. 1 part vinaigrette, 3 parts olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Albondigas - Mexican meatball soup

This morning I woke up a little stuffed up with what I hoped was just some seasonal allergies. But as it turns out it, it's more like the start of a cold.  When I was young my mom was the best at making my brother and I feel better.  If it was a cold, rainy, Seattle day, we would try to get as wet as possible because we knew our mother would be there to greet us with hot coco full of marshmallows.  And when we were sick she would always make us soup.  This is one of the soups she would just whip up. It's light and hardy all at the same time. And it makes you feel like you've just been hugged.


1 1/2 lbs of lean ground beef (you could use turkey or chicken)
1/3 cup short grain rice
1 egg
1/4 cup olive oil
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 carrot, diced
1 med. yellow onion, diced
1 med. Idaho potato, diced
1 28oz can of good diced tomatoes, drained
A couple pinches of dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 qrt  beef stock
3 qrts water


First make the meatballs. Place the ground beef, egg, rice and a good pinch of salt and pepper in a medium bowl and mix all together.  Form small balls with your hands and place on a sheet tray. You can use a small ice cream scoop to help make uniform sizes

 Place the celery, onion, carrots, and oregano in a large pot with the olive oil, and sweat the vegetables with a good pinch of salt and pepper.  Add the diced tomatoes and the diced potato. mix to incorporate. Add the beef stock and the water.  My mom only used water but I like to add just a little stock for a layer of flavor. Bring to a  simmer on low to med. heat. Gently add the meatballs.

Skim any impurities that may float to the top.  Check for seasoning.  You will most likely want to add some more salt and pepper at this point. Let simmer not boil for about 30 to 40 minutes until the rice in the meatballs is completely cooked.
I like to serve it with fresh cilantro on top.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Buttermillk Pancakes

There is something  decadent about having a stack of pancakes on a cool Sunday morning.  Maybe it is all the years of working during Sunday brunch in my past. But when I have the the chance to stay in my pajamas, sip coffee and make pancakes, I get the sense that all is right with the world.  Add a little Van Morisson and I am giddy.  

Two weeks ago, before the Saturday Mardi Gras parades, I made some pancakes for my God son and his friend, who were astonished that you could make pancakes that did not come out of a box. "You know how to make pancake mix?", they questioned with doubt in their 7 year old eyes.

I know I seem to be getting a little serious about pancakes, but these are so fluffy, so good, and so warming.

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cup buttermilk

Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the wet ingredients and mix until combined. You may have some small lumps, don't be alarmed.

Heat a griddle over medium heat. Brush the pan with melted butter.  Ladle the batter on to the griddle. The amount depends on the size of the pancake you prefer.  Cook on one side until the top is covered in tiny little holes. Flip and finish cooking on the reverse side. This is quick.
Butter and top with Real maple syrup and you are in for a treat.



Saturday, February 20, 2010

Oven dried tomato and mozzarella bruchetta

I love the beautiful tomatoes the summer brings.  I am lucky enough to work with talented farmers at the Farmers market.  The abundance of  heirloom tomatoes is heaven.  

But in the winter when local tomatoes are out of season I turn to oven drying tomatoes.  

This is a lovely little appetizer that is as easy as it is delicious.  All the components can be made ahead of time for easy entertaining.

The amounts on the tomato, bread and mozzarella all can be changed to your needs.  If you need more just make more.

1 baguette sliced into 1 inch slices
1/2 cup olive oil
10 baby mozzarella balls
5 Roma tomatoes
1 cup good balsalmic vinegar 
1 table spoon of sugar
4 bunches of basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 grated parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove
another 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

(Oven dried tomatoes)
Cut the Roma tomatoes in half length wise and place, cut side up, on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Sat and pepper and place in a 250 degree oven for 2-3 hours until most of the moisture has cooked out.  You don't want them completely dried out. Let cool.

(Balsamic syrup)
While the tomatoes are in the oven, place the balsamic vinegar and the sugar in a small pot and place on the stove over medium heat.  Reduce the vinegar until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Run your finger though it and it should leave a clear trail where you finger was.  Set aside.

 (Basil pesto)
Place the basil, garlic clove, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a food processor or blender and pulse until well combined. While the processor is on drizzle with olive oil until the pesto is smooth.

After the tomatoes are out of the oven, raise the temperature to 350 degrees. With a pastry brush, brush each side of the baguette slices with olive oil. lay on a sheet pan. Salt and pepper lightly.
Bake in the over for about 8-10 minutes until lightly golden on the edges. Remove from the oven and turn each slice over.  Return to the oven and bake for another 5 min. or  until golden on this side. Remove from oven and cool.

 Place the toasted bread slices on a platter. top with a small dollop of basil pesto, top that with a tomato slice, cut side up. Place a baby mozzarella ball on each. To finish, drizzle the reduced balsamic syrup over the platter.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vegan Banana Bread


This Banana Bread is so good and moist you would never know that it contains NO animal product.
I have had quite a few customers at the farmers market ask me for vegan baked goods and I have resisted this request because the perfectionist in me can not serve anything I wouldn't want to eat. And no offense to any Vegans out there, but I really have not liked most vegan baked goods.

Well I was so excited when I purchased the cook book from Babycakes . Babycakes is a vegan bakery in New York city. Although the recipes are good, they still had that slight after taste that I find with a lot of vegan baked goods.  So I used the animal substitutions (coconut oil for butter...) and incorporated it into other recipes I have.

So try it for yourself and I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised.

(I adapted this recipe from Babycakes cook book and from the Bread Bible cook book)

2 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons Baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 coconut oil 
2/3 cup Agave nectar
2/3 cup rice milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 bananas, mashed
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 7 by 4 by 3 inch loaf pan with canola oil.
In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Add the coconut oil, agave nectar, rice milk and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Add the mashed bananas and mix again until incorporated. Add the dried cranberries and toasted walnuts and mix until they are evenly distributed.

Place the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, rotating once, until golden brown and a tooth pick comes out clean when inserted.  Let rest for 20 minutes and remove from pan to cool. 

A few tips that I learned from Babycakes.  Melt the coconut oil before measuring it. And the use of coconut oil is a great substitution because of its high level of omega -3 fatty acids. It is stored in your body as energy and not fat. And the Agave nectar is a natural sweetener and it takes longer to absorb into the blood stream, so it doesn't shoot your blood sugar up the way refined sugars do.

Try this, and you will become a convert.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Roasted Chicken - Tucan Style

This is the easiest, most beautiful, roasted chicken you can make.  I won't even take the time to list amounts of the ingredients because it all depends on you and how many guest you are cooking for.

The ingredients are:
1 or more 5-6 pound roasting chickens
Yukon gold potatoes
Chipollini onions
whole heads of garlic, cut in half
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with rosemary and thyme, reserving enough rosemary and thyme to garnish the outside of the chicken , 1 lemon, halved, and 2 halves of the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with  butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

Place yukon potatoes or any small potato you may have like new potatoes or fingerlings, your favorite olives (I like to use a mix of olives), garlic heads(cut in half to expose the cloves), and chipollini onions in a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place this mixture around the chicken in the pan. Lay the extra rosemary and thyme around the chicken.

Roast the chicken for 1 to 1 1/2 hours , or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. 

If you baked the chicken in an attractive pan just serve as is.  If not transfer the chicken to a nice serving platter with all the garnishes.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Moon Pies


These are not your average, thrown off a Mardi Gras parade float, moon pies.  These are little pillows of chocolate cake filled with a lovely marshmallow cream.  

Instead of bringing yet another King cake to your next Mardi Gras get together, bring these little sweets and be the king of party. 

For the cookie/cake
1/2 cup butter, room temp.
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup evaporated milk
2 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

For the filling
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups marshmallow creme

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degree C) lightly grease 3 cookie sheets.
  2. To make the cookies: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the egg and the vanilla, mix until incorporated.  Add the evaporated milk.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add the flour mixture slowly to the butter mixture. Mix until all the ingredients are combined.
  3. Use an ice cream scoop to drop the dough onto the greased cookie sheets.  The size of  the scoop will determine the size of the finished moon pie.  I use an one ounce scoop. But if you prefer a larger scoop, go for it.  Leave at least 3 inches in between each one, the dough will spread as it bakes.
  4. Bake for 7 to 10 min. or until they are firm to the touch. Allow to cool before filling.
To make the filling. In the bowl of a mixer, blend together the butter, confectioners sugar, and the extract.  Add the marshmallow creme and mix until smooth. To assemble the pies place 1 to 2 tablespoons of the filling on the flat side of a  cookie and then cover the filling with the flat side of another cookie. 

And then all that is left to do is to enjoy them and catch some beads!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Paneed parmesan chicken

I was thinking that I should have a link of recipes for one. My Husband works nights (all day to be exact) and I am left on my own most the time.

The majority of the time I eat popcorn for dinner. Last night after my Italian conversation group, I decided to put an end to popcorn and cook myself a meal.

This paneed chicken is super easy and paired with a simple arugula salad it is both beautiful and satisfying.

The term "Paneed" means pan fried.

First get the "mis en place" ready. A bowl of egg wash(one egg whipped) and a plate with a cup of bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. I used Panko bread crumbs only because I had them on hand but seasoned Italian bread crumbs would be great.

Next you want to pound the chicken.

Cover the counter with plastic wrap. Place the skinless, boneless chicken breast on the plastic wrap and cover with another piece.

Now take a mallet or a heavy bottom pan and pound the breast until they are a uniform thickness. This will ensure even and quick cooking.

Now salt and pepper the the breast on each side. Dredge them in the egg wash and cover them with the bread crumb mixture.

In a large non stick pan, heat a pat of butter and about 1/4 cup olive oil. Place the chicken breast in the pan and saute until golden brown and cooked through. This should take about 7 to 8 minutes on each side, over medium high heat. Make sure to watch the heat. You don't want the crust to burn and the chicken to be under cooked.

Pair with a simple salad of Arugula, almonds, and Parmesan with a lemon vinaigrette.