Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pizza with Prosciutto, Peppers, and Goat Cheese

I've mentioned before how I'm pretty sure that dough can smell fear and anxiety. If I'm in a rush, the gluten strands just will not relax no matter how much time I give them. But on Sunday, I got my pizza dough thinner than I ever have before. I had frozen a 1/2 batch of it, and I got it out Sunday morning to defrost. By the time dinner came around, it rolled out like a dream. And with toppings of goat cheese, prosciutto, and red pepper (arranged artfully by Joe), this pizza was one of the best I had ever made. I will definitely be making pizza more often now.

Pizza with Prosciutto, Peppers, and Goat Cheese
adapted from Kelsey's Apple a Day

1/2 batch pizza dough (I use Bridget's recipe.)
Cornmeal for sprinkling
1 roasted red pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
2 oz prosciutto, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


1. Preheat oven and pizza stone at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes.
2. Sprinkle your work surface with cornmeal and prepare the dough by shaping it with your hands. Brush lightly with olive oil.
3. When oven and pizza stone have been at temperature for 30 minutes remove the pizza stone and transfer pizza dough. Use a fork to prick a few holes in the dough. Bake for five minutes.
4. Remove the partially baked crust. Top with tomato sauce, prosciutto, peppers, goat cheese, and half the basil. Bake for 7-8 minutes more, or until crust is golden brown on the outer edges.
5. Allow to cool three minutes, then top with the remaining basil, salt, and pepper and serve.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Corn and Basil Cakes

The last time we were at Trader Joe's, I gave in and bought a basil plant. Our condo has exactly three windows (though they are big windows!), so there were only a few places I could put it. Now it balances on the top of the piano, and I pray that the cat doesn't knock it over. Because there's no better time than summer to have access to fresh basil. And for the price I bought that plant for, I could buy about one small plastic clamshell of basil. However, I don't know if I would have thought to use the basil in a savory corn pancake. But then again, that's why I read cooking magazines. These cooked perfectly, and the crunch and sweetness of the corn went beautifully with the basil. Plus, they're quick. And who doesn't like having pancakes for dinner?

Corn and Basil Cakes
source: Eating Well August 2010 
Yields 10 cakes (But I only got 9)

1/2 cup white whole-wheat flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 cup low-fat milk
2 large eggs
2 tbsp canola oil, divided
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 large ears)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1. Whisk flour, milk, eggs, 1 tbsp oil, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until smooth. Fold in corn and basil.
2. Brush a large nonstick skillet or griddle lightly with some of the remaining tablespoon of oil. Heat over medium heat until hot (but not smoking). Cook 4 cakes at a time, using about 1/4 cup batter for each, making them about 3 inches wide. Cook until the edges are dry, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, 1 to 3 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining oil and batter, making 10 cakes total. Reduce the heat as necessary to prevent burning.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon, Almonds, and Parmesan

Even with only a half-share at our CSA, it's still slightly more produce than Joe and I can consume by ourselves, which gives us a great reason to have people over and take vegetables over to other people's parties. While I usually eat zucchini and summer squash lightly sauteed with a little garlic and olive oil, that can get a little tiresome. When I saw this grilled zucchini salad in the latest issue of Eating Well, I thought it would be a great addition to our Top Chef-watching party. I'm not sure if it completely balanced out the peanut butter-honey gelato, wonderful cookies from Love and Olive Oil, and the peanut butter pie, but I made a good faith effort! I altered the recipe slightly to make it a little easier. This would be perfect for a picnic or winery outing, especially since it's so good served at room temperature.

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon, Almonds, and Parmesan

1 medium lemon
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 lbs small zucchini, cut into lengthwise slices
1/2 cup sliced (or chopped) almonds, toasted
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Zest the lemon and set aside the zest. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a small bowl. Add oil, pepper, and salt, and whisk to combine. Set aside.
2. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat until hot. Oil the grilling surface and grill zucchini slices, turning once, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
3. Arrange the zucchini on a platter and drizzle with the reserved lemon dressing. Serve sprinkled with almonds, cheese, and lemon zest

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chocolate Sorbet

No, I didn't mislabel this post. This is chocolate sorbet, not chocolate ice cream. Like a fruit sorbet, it's pretty much water, sugar, and chocolate with a little vanilla extract and vodka thrown in. The vanilla brings out the flavor and fruitiness of the chocolate, and the vodka keeps the texture smooth and from being too icy. The article accompanying this recipe in Wine Spectator speaks of a true chocolate-lover who dislikes chocolate ice cream because he thinks that the milk and eggs and cream take away from the real flavor of the chocolate. Keep that in mind when you choose a kind of chocolate. It's worth a splurge for this recipe since it is such a crucial ingredient. For real chocolate lovers who want a cool summer treat, this is for you!

Chocolate Sorbet
source: Wine Spectator: July 31, 2010

1 cup water
1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
4 oz dark chocolate, chopped or grated
1 tbsp vodka
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt


  1. Whisk water, cocoa, and sugar over low heat until combined.
  2. Meanwhile, melt dark chocolate very gently in a double boiler.
  3. Turn heat under cocoa to medium, stirring constantly, until the liquid just boils.
  4. Remove from heat, and add melted chocolate, salt, vodka, and vanilla to cocoa mixture. Stir thoroughly.
  5. Let cool completely, then refrigerate until cold.
  6. Freeze mixture according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Chana Masala

For part 2 of what I'm deeming The Fastest (And Most Satisfying) Indian Dinner Ever: this chana masala, which I served with the Five-Minute Indian-Style Cabbage. For about 15 minutes total, this is certainly up there with some of the best Indian food that has come out of my kitchen. Flavorful and complex, I can't really say enough good things about this recipe. It really fits the Food alla Puttanesca criteria well: fast, cheap, and easy but still incredibly tasty and satisfying.

Chana Masala
adapted from: Cate's World Kitchen


1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
1 15oz can chickpeas, not drained (or about 2 cups cooked beans with liquid)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger

Heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium high heat, then add the onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to brown (5-7 minutes)
Stir in the garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and curry powder, and let cook for about a minute. Stir in the tomato and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add the chickpeas and their liquid, turn the head down to medium, and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until it has thickened slightly. Stir in the fresh ginger, taste and add salt if necessary, then serve.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Five-Minute Indian-Style Cabbage

In the part of my life where I worked for an insurance company, one of my co-workers was an Indian women who brought in a smelly, yellow-tinted cabbage dish for lunch. At the time, I was repulsed by it, which was due, in part, to my idea that I didn't like cabbage. I don't know what I thought coleslaw was made out of. When two very large heads of cabbage arrived in my CSA box, I couldn't get that cabbage that my Indian co-worker used to bring out of my head.

This dish is very, very fast and very customizable. Next time, I want to throw a little ginger in and play with the spices a bit. You will want to have everything prepared and on hand before you start because once those mustard seeds start popping out of the oil and flying all over your kitchen, you're going to need to throw the rest of the ingredients in.

Five-Minute Indian-Style Cabbage


1/2 head green cabbage, cored and sliced thin
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter), or mustard oil, or more to taste
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
optional: garlic, ginger, unsweetened shredded coconut, fresh chilis or dried chili flakes, garam masala
optional garnish: cilantro, lemon juice

Heat a large skillet or wok over a medium-high flame. Add the oil, wait 10 seconds, and immediately add the mustard seeds.
As soon as they start to pop, add the rest of the spices and any optional ingredients and stir-fry for 10 more seconds. Move quickly here so you infuse the flavor in the oil but don't burn them.
Add the cabbage and salt, and stir-fry until crisp-tender or tender, your preference. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Garnish with cilantro and/or lemon juice.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chinese Sesame Kale

Part of my lack of blogging lately is that I haven't really been doing anything adventurous in the kitchen because I don't have to. Fresh, local, seasonal produce just doesn't require a lot. For example, for Sunday's dinner, I ate roasted kale and a microwaved sweet potato, and it was amazing. With the produce from our CSA and a stockpile of lean proteins (tofu, beans, chicken sausages, etc.), our meals have been pretty simple.

Another summer change to our lifestyle is that we've been having mini-dinner parties on weekdays. We'll have a friend or two over, partially to visit and partially to have someone else help us eat our CSA produce. With the longer, slower days, chatting and lingering on our patio over wine as the fireflies come out doesn't seem quite as indulgent as it does during the rest of the year. It just feels like part of the summer pace. So last night we had a friend, newly moved to Nashville, over for Spicy Asian Marinated Flank Steak, Asian slaw salad, and some of this kale. The recipe for this came from our CSA newsletter from Delvin Farms, and it was a flavorful accompaniment to the rest of the meal.

Chinese Sesame Kale
source: Delvin Farms CSA Newsletter

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale (I used Red Russian kale.)
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (I misread and used 2 tablespoons.)
Salt and pepper, if desired

Mince the garlic cloves. Wash kale. Remove and discard the stems from the kale and tear it into bite-size pieces. Save the stems for another use, such as vegetable stock.
Heat the sesame seed oil in the skillet over medium-low heat. Add the minced garlic to the hot oil and sauté for about 20 seconds. Add the kale and water to the garlic and oil, and cover the skillet.
After 1 minute, stir the kale, then re-cover. After 1-2 more minutes, when the kale is wilted, stir in the soy sauce and sesame seeds. If desired, add salt and/or pepper to taste.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Revolutionary Macaroni and Cheese

I know that just looking at it, this does not appear to be revolutionary, but when you see the method, you will be amazed. Get this: you cook the pasta IN the milk. Amazing.

You know how you have those days when you really don't want to make what you planned to make for dinner? I seem to particularly have those days when Joe is on-call or I'm eating dinner alone for some reason, like last Tuesday. And then my friend Erin (One Particular Kitchen Erin, not to be confused with Erin's Food Files Erin even though they're both fellow Nashvillians) mentioned that she had made this macaroni and cheese from Cate's blog. And just like that, I was going to be making macaroni and cheese for dinner. I added some steamed broccoli from our CSA and a bit of tuna and used some smoked Gouda that I had in the fridge. With the whole wheat pasta, I almost didn't feel guilty eating a big bowl of delicious, easy, only-dirtied-one-pot macaroni and cheese for dinner. The sauce was a little on the runny side, but if I had baked it, that problem might have resolved itself.

Revolutionary Macaroni and Cheese
source: Cate's World Kitchen

2 cups dried pasta (I used whole wheat rotini)
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup loosely packed shredded cheddar cheese (I used gouda)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 can tuna (optional)
1 head broccoli, chopped and steamed (optional)

Combine the pasta and milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring, with the heat low for about 20 minutes (until the pasta is soft). Make sure the milk doesn’t boil!
Stir in the mustard, salt, and cheese (if you’re going to bake it, reserve about 1/4 cup of the cheese for sprinkling over the top).
Cover and let stand for about 5 minutes, then stir well to serve.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bread and Butter Pickles

Whenever Joe and I are eating something with cucumbers, the cucumbers always end up on my plate, and most of the time, I don't mind. But when our CSA share came with 4 good-sized cucumbers, that was slightly more than I wanted to eat on my own before they went bad. Then I had a flash of genius, or rather, I remembered the Alton Brown episode where he made refrigerator pickles, and I knew the fate of the CSA cucumbers. I only had to acquire a few extra things: canning jars, pickling spice, and celery seeds.

I'm still sort of amazed that I made pickles and that they are very good, so much fresher tasting than the kind you can buy. Plus you can control your own spices. I made four jars, and we've already eaten through one. Alton Brown says that these will last up to 3 months in the refrigerator since the environment is so acidic, but we'll be lucky if these last to the end of the week.

Alton Brown's Bread and Butter Pickles
source: Food Network


* 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
* 2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced
* 1 cup water
* 1 cup cider vinegar
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* Pinch kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
* 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
* 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
* 1/2 teaspoon pickling spice


Combine onion and cucumber slices in a clean spring-top jar.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 4 full minutes to wake up the flavors of the spices.

Slowly pour the hot pickling liquid over the onion and cucumber slice, completely filling the jar. Allow the pickles to cool to room temperature before topping off with any remaining pickling liquid. Refrigerate.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Grits & Greens Casserole

People who have bought CSA shares before and joked about the kale weren't playing. My first CSA box arrived with a LOT of leafy greens, including a big bunch of kale. Fortunately, I had starred some recipes for using all of that kale, including this casserole.

Bacon has magical powers. Just a few slices really makes this dish and cuts some of the bitterness of the greens. The grits have just enough cheese in them to seem creamy. And you can prepare this casserole up to a day ahead of time. We ate this with some sliced andouille chicken sausage.

Grits & Greens Casserole
source: Eating Well via A Year in the Kitchen
Yields 6 servings


* 4 slices bacon, chopped (optional)
* 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 small onion, diced
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth, divided
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 16 cups chopped collard greens or kale, stems removed (about 1 large bunch, 1 1/2-2 pounds)
* 2 cups water, plus more as needed
* 1 cup grits (not instant)
* 3/4 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
* 1/4 cup prepared salsa
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat an 8-inch-square baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Place bacon (if using) in a large Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until crispy, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour off the bacon fat.
3. Return the pot to medium-low heat; add oil, onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and starting to brown in spots, 2 to 8 minutes (cooking time will be quicker if you started with bacon). Add 1 cup broth and salt; bring to a boil over high heat. Add collards (or kale); stir until wilted down to about one-third the volume and bright green, 1 to 2 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Adjust heat during cooking to maintain a simmer, and add water, 1/4 cup at a time, if the pan seems dry.
4. Meanwhile, bring 2 cups water and the remaining 1 cup broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Pour in grits in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, whisking often, until thick, about 5 minutes. Combine 1/2 cup cheese, salsa and egg in a small bowl. Remove the grits from the heat and quickly stir in the cheese mixture until combined.
5. Working quickly, spread about half the grits in the prepared baking dish. Top with greens, spreading evenly. Spread the remaining grits over the greens. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and the reserved bacon (if using).
6. Bake the casserole until hot and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Info
Per serving: 226 calories; 8 g fat (3 g sat, 2 g mono); 50 mg cholesterol; 31 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 11 g protein; 4 g fiber; 473 mg sodium; 335 mg potassium.