Thursday, December 25, 2008

Prosciutto egg baskets

I don't remember what site I got this idea from but it came up in conversation as a brunch idea so I wanted to make a test run.

I don't have muffin tins so I just made some cups out of tin foil. I layered two slices of prosciutto in the tins, cracked an egg in, seasoned with pepper and parsley, added a slice of provolone, folded the ends of the prosciutto over, and baked in the toaster oven on 350 for about 18 minutes. If you like your eggs a little runny reduce the cooking time.

The thing about prosciutto is that it's already dried/cured and the flavor is highly concentrated. When you cook it it becomes even more concentrated and salty. Although tempting to season the eggs with salt, don't.

In doing some research I found variations that called for a piece of bread under the egg as well as a version that added spinach and cheddar cheese. The prosciutto was pretty overpowering after cooking and both of these variations might help to balance the dish out.

coffee: because there's no reason to be miserable every day until you die.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pizza- Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola, Burrata and Proscuitto

I went to a Wegman's supermarket for the first time on Sunday. People have been telling me how great they are and I always ask them "So is it like Whole Foods?" I guess that's my yard stick for measuring supermarkets. I'd describe it more like the Cabela's or Bass Pro Shop of supermarkets. The place was enormous. The olive bar must have been 20' long. They even had a refrigerated case with just whole ducks. I made my way to la fromagerie and the cheese girl helped me pick out a gorgonzola dolce and pointed me to the burrata.

I've wanted to try burrata for some time, but due it's short shelf life most stores don't keep it in stock. (point wegman's) Burrata (which means buttered in Italian) is basically a ball of fresh mozzarella filled with mozzarella and cream. The inside has the consistency of a liquidy cottage cheese and it's delicious with a little olive drizzled on top and fresh pepper.

Anyway, I made some pizzas. I got the idea for the caramelized onion and gorgonzola from a recipe in a summer issue of Gourmet magazine. The recipe called for fresh parsley and walnuts? neither of which I had. no big loss.

The recipe was also a lesson on how to make pizza on a grill, but I just made it in the oven on a pizza stone. You can search previous posts for general pizza making posts. The only thing of note is that I brush the dough with olive oil and pre-bake the naked dough before topping it. That way the dough cooks through without burning the toppings.

So cook some onions over medium heat with a little oil in a covered pan for 15-20 minutes until sweet and golden. Spread some crumbled gorgonzola and the cooked onions over the half-baked pizza and finish it off back in the oven.

I improvised on the second pizza. I had no normal mozzarella so I used some of the burrata (which is probably some kind of sacrelige for all I know) and topped with a few slices of proscuitto (after baking).

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tortilla Española

Tortilla Española is kind of like a potato omelet except it's more about the potatoes than the eggs, and kind of like a fritata except it's flipped in the pan instead of finished off in the oven. Doesn't matter what you call it, it still tastes great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Start off by sauteing thinly sliced potatoes in some olive oil, just until they're cooked and softened, then set them aside. Then saute half an onion and same garlic until they're softened and translucent, but not browned. Combine the potatoes, onion and garlic with some beaten eggs. Make sure to mix up the potato slices so that any that are stuck together get egg in between.

Turn the heat up on the pan to med/high, pour the egg/potato mixture in and lower the heat to medium/low and cook until the edges firm up. Here comes the fun part-the flip. Place a plate on top of the pan and flip the half-cooked tortilla onto the plate, put the pan back on the burner and slide the tortilla back into the pan. Cook until it's done and serve in wedges.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Chicken with Risotto and Caramelized Onions

Earlier in the week I picked up a rotisserie chicken for dinner (from costco for $5. word.) I used the carcass to make chicken stock which I then used in this recipe. Good stuff.

1/2 onion, chopped
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
3/4 C arborio rice
2 Tbs dry white wine
3 1/2 C chicken broth, heated
1 Tbs butter
1 C chopped cooked chicken
S&P, thyme

Saute the onions with some olive oil in a small pan over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until they're sweet and caramelized. Take off the heat and add the balsamic. Set aside.

Heat some olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Stire in the rice and heat for 2 minutes. Add the wine and lower the heat to medium low. Start adding the broth to the rice, about a half cup at a time, adding more as the rice absorbs it. It's important that you microwave the broth and add it hot or else it will mess with the way the rice cooks and it won't come out nice and creamy.

Meanwhile, in yet another pan, cook up some chicken breasts/strips. I marinaded mine in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a little bit of lemon juice, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper, then cooked them up real quick in a hot cast iron pan.

Once the risotto is done, stir in the onion mixture, chopped up chicken, S&P and thyme.

Spaghetti Squash

This gets a thumbs-up. It tastes great and the spaghetti strands of squash make this is a "fun" food.

1 spaghetti squash
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
olive oil, S&P

Preheat the oven to 400°. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out all the guts and seeds. (Sort out the seeds in a colander and set aside to dry for roasting later.) Place the squash in a foil lined baking pan, cut side up. Brush the insides with olive oil and season with S&P. Bake for an hour. When it's done, let it cool a little bit and use a fork to scrape out the spaghetti strands.

In a medium/large skillet (big enough to toss all the squash in later) over medium heat, saute the shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes until they soften up and become somewhat translucent. Mix in the squash and cook for a couple minutes to let the flavors really mix together.

For the seeds-
These look and taste just like toasted pumpkin.
Lower the oven temp to 350. Spray a lined baking pan with cooking spray, spread the seeds out, season with salt and bake for 15 minutes.

pomegranate seeds

These are pretty good to snack on or put on a salad. I'm not a big fan of the hard kernel inside so I like to throw the seeds and an apple or two in the juicer attachment on my blender.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Suppli al Telefono

2Amy's here in DC has these on their menu and they're really good. Deep fried balls of risotto with a piece of mozzarella tucked inside. Frying them gives the croquettes a crisp outer shell that you crack open to get at the creamy insides. I'm not an at-home deep fryer but after seeing a baked version on another food blog I decided to try that. Also, I spent pretty much the whole time these were baking trying to figure out a way to photograph a smell. It was probably the chicken stock and onion in the risotto that made the kitchen smell really good.

The idea here is to make a bunch of risotto (arborio rice), let it cool, throw in some bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and an egg. Scoop up a bunch of the mix and tuck a cube of mozzarella into the middle. Put all the formed balls on a plate and chill them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Then roll the balls in bread crumbs (seasoned with S&P) and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes, turning half way through.

I followed the directions on the risotto for preparing it, which called for sauteeing 1/4 cup of chopped onions before adding the rice and using chicken stock for the liquid. My finished product tasted a lot more flavorful than 2Amy's and this might be the difference. They probably prepare the risotto differently (no onion, etc).

At 2Amy's they don't give you marinara sauce, but that's really the perfect condiment for these. Maybe they don't want them to come off as cheese sticks, but these are so much more than that.

One other trick, for the mozzarella I actually just cut up a couple of sticks of string cheese.

Final verdict- these are great and all, but it was a lot to clean up for a version that when all is said and done can't live up to the fried version at 2Amy's. Also I froze most of them and I have no idea if they'll be any good later. I'll throw a couple in the toaster oven and try to bring them back to life.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Just a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

What do you get when you slather spicy brown mustard on two slices of whole grain bread, layer on cave-aged Gruyere cheese, sweet caramelized onions and dry salami then grill that sammy up?


Inspired by The Kitchen Sink

Round two (one night later): Substituted fire roasted red peppers for the mustard.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I found when someone linked to a post about the broccoli package with tiny green human heads photoshopped into the florets. It's a quality blog. That's where I got the recipe for these pretzels. They got the recipe from who got the recipe from a 1994 issue of Bon Appetit, no doubt modified along the way...
If... no, when I make these again I'll remember to add a little honey and have nutella on hand.

2 3/4 cups bread flour (I used regular all-purpose flour and it worked just fine)
1 envelope quick-rising yeast (or regular active-dry yeast- it will just have to rise a little longer)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (about) hot water (125°F to 130°F)
5 cups water
1/8 cup baking soda
1 tablespoons sugar
1 egg, beaten
Coarse salt (I used kosher salt)

Combine flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Gradually add the hot water. I used just a little over a cup. Mix with a wooden spoon until its combined into a ball. Turn the dough out into another bowl thats been coated with some vegetable oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel; let dough rise in a warm draft-free area until it's doubled in volume, about 35 minutes.

Punch down the dough and knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide into 8 pieces. From here you can shape them into pretzels, balls, knots, whatever. Place the 8 pretzels on a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with a towel for another 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray another baking sheet (really, just use one and line with foil) with cooking spray and sprinkle with cornmeal. Bring 5 cups of water to a bowl in 2 qt saucepan and then lower the heat so it's not rolling. Add baking soda and sugar. The water will foam up a bunch from the baking soda and then subside, so just add it slowly. Add 2 pretzels at a time and poach them for a minute, flipping them half way through. Remove them with a slotted spoon and line them up on the baking sheet.

Brush the pretzels with the egg wash, sprinkle generously with coarse (kosher) salt. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. I forgot to set a timer, so I just went by eye and took them out when they looked nice and golden.

After the second rise


poached, egg washed, salted, ready to bake

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pan Seared Scallops with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I got this recipe from They break recipes down into flow charts that help with timing the different components of a recipe. For example, it tells you to start boiling the water for the pasta then do another step that you'll complete right when it's time to throw the pasta in the water.

Enough of the tech talk... This dish is both hearty and light, strong and bold yet creamy and smooth. The meaty scallops are substantial and filling but won't weigh you down like a heavy steak. Their buttery flavor contrasts perfectly with the bite of the cayenne and lemon zest in the roasted red pepper sauce. Serve over linguine or fettuccine for a great Sunday dinner.

4 large sea scallops
2 Tbsp butter
1 large red bell pepper
4oz sour cream
pinch of salt
1/8tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
pinch of lemon zest

Cut the red pepper in quarters and place skin side up on a foil covered toaster-oven tray. Turn the toaster oven up as high as it goes and roast the peppers for about 15 minutes, or until the skin gets large black charred spots. Turn off the oven. Pile the peppers in the middle of the foil and wrap the foil into a pouch. Let the peppers steam in the pouch for 10 minutes. Peel and discard the charred skin from the peppers. Combine the peppers, sour cream, salt, cayenne, parsley and lemon zest in a blender, blend until smooth and set aside.

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat until it stops foaming. When the butter starts to brown and release a nutty aroma, place the scallops in the pan on one of their flat sides. Sear on each side for about 2 minutes. Keep a close eye on them while searing. You want them to get some dark, crusty caramelization but don't want them to cook so long that they get tough.

Serve the scallops over pasta, spoon the red pepper sauce over top and garnish with some more chopped parsley.
Roasted Peppers

Seared Scallops

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Tomato Soup

Tropical storm Hannah is rolling through, and even though it's still 80° out, a rainy day means two things: Grilled cheese and tomato soup. Somehow I managed to set off my fire alarm while making the soup, but that's neither here nor there.

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Strain the chopped canned tomatoes, reserving the juices, and spread onto a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and roast until caramelized, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat remaining olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic, cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the roasted chopped canned tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, chicken broth, bay leaf and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add basil shortly before serving.

I served the soup at this point. You could go a step further and blend the soup, but I liked it chunky. If I were a vegetarian I'd go as far as to call it meaty.

Roasted tomatoes

Cooking the celery, carrots, onions and garlic

fresh basil

Is it soup yet?

Ta da!

Update: It actually tastes even better when blended...

Monday, June 30, 2008

Braised Short Ribs

I got this one from Mark Bittman. His recipe calls for an onion, but I didn't have one so I used the mushrooms. I made this once before with the onion and I think it came out better that time.

4 beef short ribs
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large dried chili, chopped
1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
2 shots espresso
3/4 cup red wine

Rehydrate the mushrooms in a bowl of water. Season the ribs with salt and pepper. In a heavy pot, heat some oil on medium high heat until the oil just starts to smile. Sear the ribs, meaty side down until they get a nice crust then take them out and set aside. If they're large, sear on a couple sides.

Lower the heat and in the same pot cook the garlic, chili and mushrooms for a couple minutes. Save some of the mushroom liquid. Pour in the wine, coffee and mushroom liquid. Raise the heat and reduce the liquid by half.

Lower the heat, put the ribs back in and cover the pot. Let it all simmer for 2 to infinity hours. The longer you let it simmer the more tender the ribs become. If your doorbell rings, it's your neighbors wanting to know what smells so good. As Mark Bittman says, these things are just sexy. Make them for someone you love.

Here's a link to Bittman's video blog on the NYTimes website where he makes this recipe:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Chili Garlic Lime Shrimp and Chile Roasted Mushrooms

I got a good tip from the guy at the fish counter- always season your meat/fish/whatever before you put olive oil on it. It sounds like it makes sense to rub with olive oil first so that the seasoning sticks, but if you do that the oil forms a barrier and the seasoning doesn't actually season the food.

So here we go-

Chili Garlic Lime Shrimp

1 Tbsp chopped dried chili
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 pound shrimp
1 lime

Chop up the dried chili, removing the seeds if you don't want it to be too spicy. Clean and de-vein the shrimp, pat dry. Season the shrimp with S&P, the garlic and the chili. Place the shrimp in a zip loc bag with about 1 and 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil. Let marinate for 30 minutes. Right before cooking squeeze in the juice from half of the lime.

Heat a large skillet on med-high and add just enough olive oil to coat the pan. Dump the contents of the zip loc bag into the pan. Let the shrimp cook on each side for just a few minutes. Only about 5-6 minutes in all, depending on the size. Plate them up and squeeze some more juice from the other half of the lime.

Chili Roasted Mushrooms

1 Cup oyster mushrooms
1 Cup cremini mushrooms
1 Tbsp chopped dried chili
1 small shallot, chopped
fresh parmesean

You can substitute other interesting mushrooms as available. Preheat the oven to 425'. Chop the mushrooms into large pieces and mix together with the chili, shallot, S&P and 1 and 1/2 Tbsp olive oil.

Dump the mushrooms into a roasting dish and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Plate up the roasted mushrooms and grate some fresh parmesean on top. Goat cheese also goes well on top.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Seared tuna steak with wasabi mayo sauce

You can get a decent frozen tuna steak from trader joes. Just let it defrost in the fridge overnight and...

soy sauce
sesame oil
rice wine vinegar and/or mirin
(or white wine vinegar and lemon juice in my case since I had neither)

Mix this stuff in a zip lock bag, throw in the tuna, and let it marinate on the counter for about 30 minutes. You want it to warm up a little.

Heat a small amount of sesame oil in a skillet on Med-high heat. Once hot, put the tuna in the skillet and sear it for about a minute on each side. Seared tuna is best served seared. Rare. So don't overdo it. Shown here served with jasmine rice and the wasabi mayo sauce.

Wasabi paste
Soy sauce- just a little bit

This steak was about a pound. Which is easily two servings.

Q: When is a salad no longer a salad?

A: When it involves rendered bacon fat.

Here's a pretty simple salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. (Thank you firefox spell check for telling me I don't know how to spell vinegarette.)

1 bag mixed field greens
3 slices thick cut bacon
1 package white button mushrooms, sliced.
some goat cheese

dijon mustard
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
lemon juice

Cut the bacon into ~1/2" pieces. Cook in heavy cast iron pan (is there any other kind?). Scoop out the bacon and drain on a paper towel. Sautee the mushrooms in the hot bacon fat. Scoop these out and set aside with the bacon when they're done.

Combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk together. Dress the salad. Toss the salad. Add the bacon, mushrooms, and goat cheese. Toss again. Serve.