Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Plum-Frangipane Tart with Chocolate

Another day, another tart! My tart pan has been getting a lot of use lately, and with great results.  This tart was inspired by an overabundance of plums in our CSA box.  I went looking for plum recipes, and when I found this one that combines plums with a buttery crust, chocolate, frangipane, and custard, I knew I had a winner!  Despite all of the different components, this tart was surprisingly easy to pull together.  The crust is prepared in a pan on the stove and then simply pressed into the tart pan - no rolling pin required.  Once the crust chills for an hour or so, it's scattered with chopped chocolate and then topped with an easy almond sauce.  If you have an immersion hand blender, this is the place to use it - way less dirty dishes, and the final dessert doesn't suffer at all from a slightly-less-smooth frangipane.  Once the tart goes in the oven, the chocolate and almond sauce melt together to form a fantastic soft layer on the bottom of the tart.  The top layer is simply sliced plums topped with an easy custard that takes about 30 seconds to whisk together.  The custard is unsweetened because the other components of the dessert are plenty sweet enough.

Overall, the almonds, chocolate, plums, and custard come together to create the perfect tart - sweet, slightly tart, rich, and chocolate-y.  One word of warning - make sure to prepare this when you're having guests over, as the leftovers keep for about a day, two max.  It will stay reasonably fresh at room temperature overnight, but then it starts to go downhill fast.

Plum-Frangipane Tart with Chocolate (adapted from Christie's Corner, original recipe here)
Makes one 9-inch tart

For the crust:
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla
Generous pinch of salt
1 cup flour

For the filling:
1-3/4 ounces slivered almonds
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, divided
2 tsp vanilla, divided
3/4 cup heavy cream
4-1/2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 pound plums

1. Make the crust.  Melt the butter.  Then stir in the sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Add the flour and stir to form a dough.  Once the dough is cool enough to comfortably touch, press it into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Place in the fridge and chill until the dough is firm.
2. Make the frangipane.  Place the almonds and sugar in a food processor along with one of the eggs and 1 tsp of the vanilla.  Process until smooth and set aside.  If you have a stick blender, you can also use this to blend the frangipane - it won't get quite as smooth, but the dishes are easier!
3. Make the custard.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining egg and remaining 1 tsp vanilla along with 3/4 cup heavy cream.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
5. Assemble the tart.  Scatter the chocolate over the bottom of the tart crust, and then drizzle with the almond mixture.  Pit the plums, slice them, and then add them to the tart in an even layer.  Pour the custard on top, being careful - you may have more custard than you need depending on the height of your tart pan sides.
6. Place the tart on a baking sheet and then bake 10 minutes at 400 degrees.  Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 35-45 minutes, until browned and set.  Let cool at least slightly before serving, and ideally serve with homemade vanilla ice cream!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Easy Jam Tart

When our oven broke down a few weeks ago, that didn't stop me from baking - I made this tasty jam tart in our toaster oven!  I took the tart to a friend's barbecue, and it was a big hit.  The crust is really easy to make - no rolling required, which I definitely appreciate!  After a quick chill in the fridge, part of the dough is pressed into the pan and the rest is cut up and layered on top of the filling.  I loved the flavor of the crust - the polenta in particular added great flavor - but personally I thought it was a little too 'crunchy' - next time I would probably use a finer grind of cornmeal in the recipe.  However, several people said they really liked the bigger pieces of polenta, so your mileage may vary!

If the crust of this tart is easy, the filling is even easier - just pop open a jar of jam!  This is a great use for using up jam if you've accumulated too many jars (my eyes are bigger than my stomach when it comes to canning!), and of course you can use either homemade or store-bought.  The sweetness of the jam paired really well with the less-sweet crust, making for an elegant, delicious dessert that looked like way more work than it really was!

Easy Jam Tart (adapted from David Lebovitz, original recipe here)
Makes 1 9-inch tart

9 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup polenta or cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 cups jam (I used peach)

1. Beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed.  Add the egg, egg yolk, and lemon extract and beat until well combined.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, polenta, salt, and baking powder.  Add to the wet ingredients and beat to combine.
3. Divide the dough into two portions, about 1/3 and 2/3.  Roll the smaller portion into a log and pat the larger portion into a disc.  Wrap both in plastic and chill for about an hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
5. Remove the larger piece of dough from the fridge and press it into the bottom and sides of the pan, as evenly as possible.  Spoon in the jam and spread evenly.  Remove the log of dough from the fridge and cut into cookie-sized discs - don't worry about being neat.  Lay the slices evenly over the top of the jam.
6. If the dough seems very soft, pop the tart in the fridge for 15 minutes or so; otherwise, bake right away.  Bake about 25 minutes, or until the tart is golden brown on top.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Crispy Lemon Waffles

These easy waffles make for the perfect weekend breakfast.  They're extra crispy, which I love - no hint of sogginess as can happen with some recipes.  Despite the triple threat of lemon juice, lemon zest, and lemon extract, I didn't think these waffles were terribly lemon-y, so you might want to add more zest or top them with some lemon curd if you need a serious lemon waffle.  Either way, these are great with either my style of toppings (peaches and yogurt) or my boyfriend's (butter and syrup).  The leftovers crisped up nicely in the toaster if you end up with any extras.

Crispy Lemon Waffles (adapted from Vanielje Kitchen, original recipe here)
Makes 8-9 waffles (serving 2-3)

1 lemon
Scant 1-1/2 cups skim milk
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 T baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp lemon extract
6 T melted butter
Oil for the waffle iron

1. Zest the lemon into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, and then squeeze in all the juice.  Pour in enough milk to bring the total amount of liquid to 1-1/2 cups.  Give it a little stir and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and eggs.
3. Check to make sure the milk has curdled - if it hasn't, give it another couple of minutes.  Whisk the eggs and lemon extract into the milk mixture.
4. Whisk the milk mixture into the flour mixture, and then whisk in the melted butter.  Don't worry about getting every lump out - a few are okay.
5. Cook the waffles on a hot, oiled waffle iron.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Salmon with Red Curry Sauce and Bok Choy

This is a recipe from a while ago, back when I was visiting my parents in June.  My mom and I decided to splurge on some gorgeous salmon at Spoon Market and then cover it with an absolutely delicious curry sauce.    When I think curry, I usually think about chunks of meat or fish and veggies stirred into a sauce.  In this case, though, the protein is left whole, which is especially nice when you're using something you don't want to cook until well-done, like salmon.  It also makes for a fancier presentation if you're cooking for guests.

The red curry sauce pairs perfectly with salmon - it's perfectly rich from coconut milk and a little spicy, with wonderful flavors from ginger, lemongrass, and lime.  On the side, we prepared some quick bok choy - super easy to make while the salmon is cooking, but of course any quick-cooking green would be fantastic here.  I like bok choy because it retains a bit of crunch even after cooking, particular welcome with the softer texture of the salmon.

Note - I don't give specific instructions for the rice here because I'm a bit of a disaster without a rice maker, but you can prepare it however you like. You'll want to start the rice before anything else, since the rest of the recipe goes fairly quickly.

Salmon with Red Curry Sauce and Bok Choy (adapted from Pure Land Organic, original recipe here)
Serves 3

For the sauce:
1-1/2 T minced fresh ginger
1-1/2 T red curry paste
1 T minced lemongrass (trimmed and tough outer leaves removed)
1-1/4 cups light coconut milk
Juice of one lime
1-1/2 tsp fish sauce

For the bok choy:
Sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch bok choy, coarsely chopped

For the salmon:
3 salmon fillets
Steamed jasmine rice, to serve

1. Preheat the broiler on your oven to medium.  Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with a light layer of oil.
2. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat enough oil to just coat the pan.  Add the ginger, curry paste, and lemongrass, and saute for about 5 minutes, until the curry paste is very fragrant.  Add the coconut milk, and whisk to break up any clumps.  Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat and cook at a low simmer, stirring occasionally.
3. Season the salmon lightly with salt and pepper and set on the baking sheet.  Once the sauce is reduced by about half, pop the salmon under the broiler and cook until it is done to your liking (we had large fillets that took about 8 minutes, but your timing will vary based on the size of your salmon, your oven, etc.).
4. While the salmon is cooking, make the boy choy.  Heat a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat.  Add a bit of sesame oil and heat until shimmering.  Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute.  Add the boy choy stems and saute for about 2 minutes. Finally, add the leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted (or done to your liking).  Season with a little salt.
5. When the salmon is about halfway done, stir the lime juice and fish sauce into the curry sauce.  Raise the heat a bit to bring the sauce back to a simmer, and continue to simmer until ready to serve.
6. To serve, scoop some rice onto each plate.  Top with the salmon and then spoon a generous serving of sauce over each fillet.  Spoon the bok choy onto the side.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu

We still haven't managed to get any chairs for our new apartment, making having guests over a bit difficult, but we did manage to have our first 'dinner party,' eating off of our laps on the couch!  Some good friends of ours just moved across the country, so we had to squeeze in one last dinner together before they left, chairs or not.  I think we more than made up the lack of seating with an extra-fancy dish.  

Tim had the excellent idea to make chicken cordon bleu.  This classic dish involves pounding chicken breasts until they're thin, stuffing them with prosciutto and Gruyere cheese, coating them in breadcrumbs, and then baking until the cheese is all melty and the coating is crisp.  There are a lot of steps, and the assembly is pretty fussy, but the results are more than worth it.  The chicken was super moist and flavorful, and overall the dish really made the occasion feel special.  I do recommend that you use/obtain a meat mallet to make this dish - I used a rolling pin, which was both a lot of work and probably incredibly annoying to our downstairs neighbors!

Chicken Cordon Bleu (adapted from Tyler Florence)
Serves 4

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
8 thin slices prosciutto
1/2 pound Gruyere cheese, grated
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs
1 cup panko
4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked off
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T melted butter
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lay a chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet to about 1/4-inch thickness.  Remove the top sheet of plastic.  Lay 2 slices of prosciutto over the chicken, and sprinkle a quarter of the cheese over it. Carefully tuck in the sides of the breast and roll up like a burrito.  Wrap tightly with the plastic wrap and twist both ends tightly to form a log.  Repeat with the remaining chicken and then chill for about 20 minutes.
3. Set out three deep plates.  On one, place the flour.  On a second, gently beat together the eggs.  On a third, mix together the panko with the thyme, garlic, and butter.  Season all three plates with salt and pepper, and mix to combine. 
4. Lightly coat a baking pan with oil and set near your working area.  Remove the plastic wrap from one piece of chicken.  Lightly dust with the flour.  Dip in the egg mixture, being sure to get the ends.  Finally, gently roll in the panko mixture.  Carefully transfer the roulade to the baking pan, seam side down.  Repeat with the remaining chicken
5. Bake 20-25 minutes, until browned and cooked through.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mexican Black Bean-Chard Soup

This hearty soup is delicious and filling - and spicy!  It gets great Mexican flavors from chorizo, black beans, diced tomatoes with green chilis, and lime juice.  Chard adds some bits of green (and makes you feel all healthy!) and red pepper flakes add even more heat (those you can omit if you're not a fan of spicy food).  The soup is very easy to put together - after a bit of sauteing, everything just simmers on the stove to let the flavors combine.  The time-consuming part here is soaking and cooking the beans, which the recipe suggests cooking from dry beans.  I did this because I had the time (and because dried beans are cheap), but didn't find that it had a major impact on the final soup, so you can definitely used canned beans to make this is quicker recipe.

Mexican Black Bean-Chard Soup (adapted from Fine Cooking)
Serves 6

1-1/4 cups dried black beans
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
1 bay leaf
Canola oil
1/4 pound fresh bulk chorizo
1 large yellow onion, chopped
Salt and pepper 
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bushy sprig fresh thyme, chopped
1 bushy sprig fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1-1/2 cups chopped Swiss chard (about half of a large bunch)
3-4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1-2 tsp fresh lime juice

1. Pick through the beans to remove any small stones, and then rinse.  Transfer to a bowl, and cover with cold water by three inches.  Cover, and soak overnight (or at least 4 hours).
2. Drain and rinse the beans, and place them in a soup pot.  Add the garlic clove, bay leaf, and 6 cups of water.  Simmer, stirring every half hour or so, until the beans are tender, about 60-90 minutes (cooking time will vary, so taste to determine when they're done).
3. Place a strainer in a medium bowl, and drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid.  Discard the bay leaf and garlic clove.
4. Heat a little oil in a large soup pot over medium heat (you can use the bean cooking pot if you rinse it out).  Add the chorizo, breaking it up with a spatula, and stir often until the chorizo begins to brown, 5-8 minutes.  Transfer the chorizo to a paper towel lined plate, reserving the fat in the pot.
5. Take a look at the fat in the pot - if there's about 2 T, you're good - you can pour some out or add some canola oil if needed.  Add the onions and season generously with salt and pepper.  Cooking, stirring often, until the onions begin to soften, 4-6 minutes.  Add the garlic, thyme, oregano, cumin, and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring for about one minute.  Add the tomatoes and Swiss chard, stirring to incorporate.  Add 2 cups of the broth, bring to a simmer, and simmer 10 minutes.
6. Add the beans to the pot along with one cup of the reserved bean-cooking liquid.  Add a cup of broth - more if you think the soup could use it.  Add the chorizo.  Stir everything and simmer for about 10 minutes to let the flavors combine.
7. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning with lime juice, salt, and pepper.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

My mom saw this recipe while I was scrolling through blogs, and she immediately wanted to make it.  I was definitely excited since I don't own a cast iron pan myself, so I got to take advantage of hers!  This is a serious cookie - we cut it into chunks and had plenty to go around (plus leftovers for a trip to Columbus!).  I used mostly whole wheat flour because I love its flavor in chocolate chip cookies - it lends a subtle nutty flavor that I think goes really well with all the butter and chocolate!  Any way you slice it, this giant cookie will definitely make you smile.

Note: This recipe is for an 8-inch cast iron pan - if you have a 10-inch pan, you'll want to multiply the recipe times 1.5, and if you have a 12-inch pan, you can double the recipe.

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie (adapted from Tasty Kitchen Blog)

1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt the butter in an 8-inch cast iron skillet over medium-low heat.  Stir in the sugars and vanilla and remove from the heat.  Let rest until the pan is warm but no longer very hot (5 minutes or so).
3. Add an egg to the skillet and whisk to combine.  Dump the flours, baking soda, and salt on top, and very carefully fold into the wet mixture until the batter is smooth.  Gently stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Bake 15-25 minutes, or until the top is golden and the center is almost set.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Shirred Eggs with Tomato

Our stove recently broke, and so we were without an oven or stove for about a week while waiting for a replacement to arrive. Along with a lot of takeout, we relied on our toaster oven to get us through! These eggs made for a perfect toaster oven breakfast.  The bottom layer of tomato got warm and a little soft, and it was topped with a fresh egg with a runny yolk perfect for soaking up with whole wheat toast.  Butter and cheese add richness and fresh herbs add a pop of flavor.  These would be easy to change up based on what you have on hand - leave out the tomato if you don't like it or substitute with another quick-cooking vegetable, change up the herbs or use a spice like smoked paprika, or substitute cream for the butter. 

Shirred Eggs with Tomato (adapted from The Kitchn)
Serves 2

4 small cubes of butter
1/3 cup minced tomatoes
4 large eggs
A few sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano (or a mix)
4 T grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Toast, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place four ramekins on a baking sheet.
2. Place a small cube of butter in each ramekin.  Divide the tomatoes among the ramekins, and then crack an egg into each one, being careful not to break the yolks.
3. Pick the leaves off the sprigs of thyme or oregano.  Sprinkle the herbs over the eggs and then top with the grated Parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper.
4. Bake the eggs for 10-12 minutes, until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny.  Serve with toast for dipping.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sour Cherries with Vanilla Crumble

One of the few foods that really tends not to be available in California is sour cherries - when I've asked about them at farmer's markets I've often gotten blank looks from the vendors.  They seem to be much more of a Midwest thing, although I did once snag them at the market (for an exorbitant price!).  This year, though, I was lucky that a friend from church offered to let me pick sour cherries off the trees in her yard.  I can definitely see why these delicate fruits aren't as popular in stores - you have to use them right away and they're very delicate - but if you are able to get your hands on any, they're so worth it!  Despite a broken oven, I was determined to enjoy these cherries, so I ended up making a crumble in a pie plate that just barely fit in our toaster oven!

This crumble combines two classic flavors - cherry and vanilla.  I often don't love this combination, because it's typically done with sweet cherries.  I think that sweet cherries and vanilla together can be a bit cloying, but sour cherries have the perfect tartness to offset the richer flavor of vanilla.  The cherries here are prepared very simply, with just sugar to sweeten them and cornstarch to thicken their liquid.  The topping is buttery, rich, and full of lots of vanilla flavor from ground vanilla  - one of my favorite ways to use vanilla since it's less expensive than whole beans but doesn't add liquid like vanilla extract.  Together, the topping and cherries come together to create a perfect summer dessert!

In other news, I will be participating in the San Francisco AIDS Walk this coming Sunday.  If you'd care to make a pledge in support of this important cause, you can do so here - thank you!

Sour Cherries with Vanilla Crumble
Makes one 8-inch round crumble

For the cherries:
1-1/2 pounds pitted sour cherries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
Big pinch of salt

For the crumble:
6 T cold butter
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup flour
1/2 T ground vanilla
Big pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Stir together the cherries, sugar, corn starch and salt.  Scoop into an 8-inch round pie plate.
3. Cut together the butter and sugar.  Add the flour, ground vanilla, and salt and cut in.  Squeeze together with your fingers to form little clumps (there will be large and small pieces), and then sprinkle over the cherries.
4. Bake until the topping is browned and the cherries are bubbling, 50-60 minutes.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Spiced Zucchini-Carrot-Yam Fritters

These tasty fritters are basically like potato pancakes, but made with shredded zucchini, carrots, and yams plus Indian spices.  Wow - I was totally in love!  You'll definitely want a food processor (or a lot of patience) to shred all the veggies.  The shredded vegetables are mixed with scallions, parsley, garam masala and chili flakes for lots of flavor.  Don't crowd the pan when frying the fritters to make sure they crisp up.  Once the pancakes are fried, you can pop them in a warm oven while frying the remaining fritters and stirring up a fantastic cumin sour cream.  I was totally in love with the spiced sour cream - it's tangy, smoky, and the absolute perfect creamy pair for the spicy fritters.  (If you have leftovers, the sour cream is also great with Mexican food and the fritters reheat very well.)  This makes a great light dinner, and one I'll definitely make again!

Spiced Zucchini-Carrot-Yam Fritters (adapted from Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch and Smitten Kitchen)
Serves 3-4

2 medium zucchini, grated
1 tsp kosher salt
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 small yam, peeled and grated
1 large scallion, white and light green parts, minced
1 T minced parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
1 cup self-rising flour
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
Oil, for the pan

For the sour cream sauce:
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp ground cumin
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Generous pinch of salt 

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and place a foil lined baking sheet inside.
2. Combine the zucchini and salt in a bowl and let sit 10 minutes.  Squeeze out the excess moisture using a fine mesh strainer or a piece of cheesecloth.
3. Toss the drained zucchini with the carrot, yam, scallion, parsley, and garlic.  Add the eggs to the veggies and stir to combine.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, garam masala, and chile flakes.  Mix into the veggies until combined.
5. Heat a heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan well and heat until shimmering.  Drop small bunches of the vegetable mixture into the skillet, working a few at a time so they aren't too crowded.  Flatten them with a spatula or the back of a spoon.  Cook until the edges underneath are golden, 3-4 minutes, reducing the heat to medium if needed to slow down the cooking.  Flip, and fry until the second side is browned, 2-3 minutes more.  Drain briefly on paper towels and then transfer to the baking sheet in the oven.  Repeat, adding oil as needed, until all the fritters are cooked.
6. After the last batch is done, let the fritters get crispy in the oven for 5-10 minutes while you make the sauce.
7. Stir together the sour cream, cumin, lemon juice and salt until everything is evenly combined.
8. Serve the hot fritters with the sauce.  Leftovers keep well in the fridge and can be reheated in a 350 degree oven.

Monday, July 9, 2012

SRC: Herbed Bulghur Wheat Salad

My partner for this month's Secret Recipe Club was Culinary Adventures with Camilla, a blog that's full of fantastic recipes from around the world.  I was so impressed at all the different cuisines she's experimented with - wow!  Since my boyfriend recently got me an herb planter for our kitchen window, I decided to make a recipe with lots of fresh herbs in it: herbed bulghur wheat salad.  I ended up with a slightly different mix of herbs than Camilla, just because of what I had on hand, but otherwise I stuck to the original recipe and was delighted! The bulgher is chewy with a slightly nutty flavor, and it pairs really well with the flavors of fresh veggies and herbs.  The lemon juice is definitely crucial to brighten up the salad - you might even want to add more than what is suggested below.  Prior to making this salad, I think the only way I've ever tried bulgher was in my mom's wonderful bulgher bread, and I was delighted to find a new (and easy!) way to prepare it.

Herbed Bulghur Wheat Salad (adapted from Culinary Adventures with Camilla, original recipe here)

1-1/2 cups bulghur wheat
1 tsp dried oregano
1 large heirloom tomato, cored and diced
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
3-4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 T minced fresh parsley
2 T minced fresh dill
1 T minced fresh basil
1 green onion, thinly sliced
Olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper

1. Combine the bulghur wheat and oregano in a bowl.  Cover with cold water by at least 2 inches.  Cover the bowl and stash in the fridge overnight.
2. The next morning, drain the wheat in a fine mesh strainer.  Rinse the bowl and return the bulghur to the bowl.  Add the tomato, cucumber, feta cheese, parsley, dill, basil, and green onion.  Toss to combine.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine.  Then squeeze the lemon juice over and season with salt and pepper.  Toss again, taste, and adjust for seasoning.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Olive Oil Banana Bread

To me, a warm slice of banana bread is one of my favorite comfort foods. I love the contrast of a crispy crust and a slightly squishy, super banana-y interior.  This particular banana bread is moist, tender, and full of banana flavor.  I liked the idea of using olive oil in the bread, but honestly I couldn't really detect a flavor difference - I think next time I'd use less expensive vegetable oil.  I do love the addition of plain yogurt as it adds a great tang to the bread.  Overall, this is a gorgeous loaf and feels relatively healthy between the bananas, whole wheat flour, and non-fat yogurt - so you can feel free to enjoy it for breakfast!

Olive Oil Banana Bread (adapted from Bay Area Bites, original recipe here)
Makes 1 loaf cake

2 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup plain yogurt (I used non-fat)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a loaf pan with oil.
2. Mix together the bananas, oil, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold together with a rubber spatula until just combined.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 65 minutes.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Green Bean Salad with Fennel and Baby Arugula

This is a perfect summer salad - full of green veggies, crunchy fennel, and tossed with a lemon-y dressing.  I am totally in love with the salad dressing - Parmesan cheese and an egg yolk make it extra creamy, and it was fantastic both on this salad and over other veggies later in the week.  What really takes this salad over the top, though, is fresh, homemade croutons.  Since we served this salad with roast chicken, I used some chicken fat from the roast chicken to fry up cubes of white bread, making them super flavorful.  Of course, if you haven't just roasted a chicken, you could use olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt.  Any leftover salad keeps well in the fridge for a day or two (just store the croutons separately so they don't get soggy).

Green Bean Salad with Fennel and Baby Arugula (adapted from Tender)
Serves 3-4

For the dressing:
1 T red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 egg yolk
Scant 1/2 cup olive oil
3 T freshly grated Parmesan
2 tsp lemon juice

For the salad:
7 ounces green beans
One medium fennel bulb
2 handfuls baby arugula
2 thick slices good quality white bread
Chicken fat, butter, or oil for frying the bread

1. Make the dressing.  Combine the vinegar, mustard, and egg yolk in a small jar with a watertight lid.  Screw on the lid and shake to combine.  Add the olive oil and Parmesan, and shake well to combine.  Finally, add the lemon juice and shake well to combine - the dressing should be creamy.  Set aside while preparing the rest of the salad.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Trim the green beans and boil until just tender.  When they're done, drain and immediately run under cold water until the beans are cold.
3. Trim the fennel bulb, cut in half, and remove the core.  Slice as thinly as possible.  Toss together the beans and fennel with the arugula.
4. Cut the bread into chunks.  Heat a bit of fat in a non-stick frying pan over medium high heat.  Add the bread chunks and saute until browned, stirring occasionally.
5. Toss the vegetables with about two-thirds of the dressing.  Divide among plates and top with the croutons.  Serve with the remaining dressing alongside.