Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Don't forget to eat your brussels sprouts!

Brussels sprouts are a vegetable that you either love or hate. I happen to be a person who loves them (most likely because of my mother. After all, they're her favorite vegetable). They're not a vegetable that I buy often. So as weird as it may sound, it's like having a treat when I do get them. I typically roast brussels sprouts with pecans (as I did for a November Club a couple years ago) but I thought I'd try a different cooking method this time.  So I turned to Martha, since I'm usually never let down by her recipes. I found a recipe for seared brussels sprouts with vinegar glazed red onion. Sounds yummy, right? Trust me it was! The glazed red onion added a sweet flavor to the brussels sprouts. So if you're a person who doesn't like brussels sprouts because you think the flavor is 'too strong' try this recipe out. It's a nice balance of strong and sweet flavors.

1 (about 10-ounce) basket brussels sprouts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Trim outer leaves and stems from brussels sprouts, and discard. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, and add salt. Meanwhile, prepare an ice-water bath. Add brussels sprouts to boiling water, and cook until tender but still bright green, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and plunge into ice-water bath to cool. Drain well, and cut in half.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add brussels sprouts, and cook, tossing occasionally, until they are brown and crisp on the edges, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and transfer to a large bowl. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon each butter and oil to the same pan over medium-low heat. Add onions, and cook, tossing occasionally, until wilted and transparent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add vinegar (stand back to avoid the fumes), and stir to loosen any brown bits on bottom of pan. Cook until vinegar is reduced and the onions are glazed, about 30 seconds.

Add onions to brussels sprouts, and toss well. Serve immediately.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Honey Wheat Germ Cookies

Tuesdays with Dorie is a group of food bloggers that bake the same recipe together every Tuesday and blog about what they baked. I'm not a part of the group; however, I follow what they're making just about every week. The recipes come from Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours. The selections from the book all look so good. If I had more time on my hands and wasn't too concerned about my waist size I'd be baking these recipes a lot more often.

I had wheat germ on hand and wasn't too sure what to do with it until I stumbled upon this recipe. For some reason these honey wheat germ cookies don't sound like they're all that bad for you (ignore the fact that there's a stick of butter in them) which is somewhat good because they turned out really well and I can't stop eating them since they came out of the oven an hour ago. The honey flavor and the wheat germ work really well together. These cookies were really easy to make. The hardest part was waiting for the dough to chill. They're a perfect compliment for a cup of tea!

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup wheat germ
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 stick(8 tablespoons)unsalted butter, at room temperature, 1/2 cup honey
1 large egg

Whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup of the wheat germ, the baking powder and salt.
Working in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl,run the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers until the sugar is moist. Add the butter and, using the paddle or whisk attachment of a hand mixer, beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until creamy or smooth. Add the honey and beat for another minute or two. Add the egg and beat for about 2 minutes more, until you have a smooth, light , fluffy mixture. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 2 portions, mixing only until each addition disappears. Scrape the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and wrap well. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

Getting ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. Put the remaining 1/2 cup wheat germ into a bowl. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and, working with a spoonful of it at a time, roll the dough between your palms into 1-inch balls. Drop each ball into the wheat germ and turn to coat, then place the balls on one of the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch of space between them(these don't spread much). Use your palm or the bottom of a glass to gently flatten each cookie. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are just firm to the touch. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to room temperature. Repeat with remaining dough. Storing: The cookies will keep at room temperature for about 3 days or wrapped airtight in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Seriously, Perfect Country Potatoes

I finally discovered the trick to the perfect breakfast potato and I couldn't be happier. Potatoes and I had a love/hate relationship prior to this recipe. I think a breakfast isn't complete without potatoes. I would always get potatoes that were crispy on the outside yet not so soft on the inside or soft on the inside but way too crispy on the outside. This recipe has solved my problem! 

Are you ready for the trick? Bake the potatoes for an hour the night before, refrigerate overnight, and cook in the morning! I promise you that you'll love this recipe if you've had issues like I have.

You can find the recipe here

Coffee Cake

This coffee cake was a perfect compliment to the savory spinach and cheese strata I made for Easter brunch. The recipe comes from the Barefoot Contessa. I typically love any type of crumb cake because really who doesn't love streusel? In my opinion, this recipe didn't have enough streusel.  The recipe says to use 3/4 of a cup in the middle layer; I think a full cup or more is called for. All in all, I was happy with this coffee cake. The sour cream really helps keep the cake moist and the glaze is just right. The additional of walnuts in the streusel was a nice touch too. I think chopped pecans would work just as nicely too.  

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the streusel:

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.
Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners' sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

Spinach & Cheese Strata

I've been thinking about what to make for Easter for the last week or two. Easter is a tricky holiday for me because I don't eat a lot of meat traditionally cooked on Easter (i.e., ham, lamb, pork). So I thought maybe I'll do something Italian, after all, my family always has manicotti with their ham on Easter. Somehow it clicked that I was meant to make brunch instead of dinner for Easter. I'm happy I had this idea because,in my opinion, everything turned out really well. 

Strata is a perfect dish to make when you're looking to have everything done ahead of time. Strata needs to sit for at least 8hrs in the refrigerator prior to baking. There are so many things you can do with strata. I found this recipe while browsing tastespotting for breakfast/brunch ideas. The recipe comes from February 2003 issue of Gourmet Magazine. This recipe had great reviews and after making it I couldn't agree more!

You can find the recipe below. I used 16 oz of spinach and omitted the Dijon mustard. After reading some reviews, I gathered that the mustard flavor was too powerful in this dish. Feel free to add it in and let me know your thoughts. Keep this recipe in mind for your next brunch.

1 (10-oz) package frozen spinach, thawed
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed (1 inch) French or Italian bread (1/2 lb)
6 oz coarsely grated Gruyère (2 cups)
2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup)
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Sauteed Chicken in a Mustard Cream Sauce

 I'm always flipping through the pages of my numerous cookbooks looking for recipes & ideas. I'm usually looking for a quick meal since there's not much time after working a full day. I've been flipping past this recipe for a couple months and finally decided to make it especially since it's asparagus season. 

This recipe came from my Everyday Food cookbook (remember this is the one my sister got me for Christmas). The mustard cream sauce came out really well. The tarragon complimented the sauce really well too! If you're not a fan of tarragon try making it with thyme. 
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 ounces each)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine, or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh)
  1. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; saute until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a plate; keep warm.
  2. Pour wine into hot skillet; cook, stirring, until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Whisk in cream, mustard, and tarragon. Cook, whisking, until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour any accumulated chicken juices into sauce. Right before serving, drizzle cream sauce over chicken.