Saturday, February 27, 2010

Roasted Carrot & Garlic Soup & Giveaway

I’m hanging out in my happiest place on earth. Seattle, well more accurately the Pikes Place Market. Sighh… Oh I wish I could live in the market. I’ll have to settle for being an hour’s flight away.

Jesse and I also stopped at the Almond Roca Factory in Tacoma. The thing is ancient, and sadly there were no tours. They wouldn’t let us in for fear of slipping on buttery floors. I thought it sounded like fun personally.

So I grabbed a 2 pound bag of Mocha Roca Mishaps to give away instead. I don’t know what you’re going to do with a two pound bag, but I suggest a big party.

Leave a comment about what the heck you’d do with a giant bag of Mocha Roca Mishaps and a way to contact you, and I’ll have the number generator do it’s magic Wednesday morning.

Roasted Carrot & Garlic Soup

The soup is amazing and now I’m completely obsessed with roasted carrots! So rich and garlicky and yummy. Don’t be tempted to add extra Parmesan. It’s there for the final umami flavor, but you don’t want this to end up as cheese soup or the vegetables will get lost.

1 head garlic
2 pounds organic carrots
1 large white onion
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Fresh cracked pepper
Olive oil
¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup heavy cream
32 ounces (4 cups) chicken broth, turkey broth or vegetable broth

1. Preheat the oven to 4oo degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

2. Peel as much of the skin off the outside the garlic clove as you can. Then chop the end off so the cloves are exposed. Place the head of garlic on a piece of foil big enough to wrap the garlic in. Coat well with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Wrap the garlic in the foil and place in the center of the baking sheet.

3. Peel and chop the carrots into about 1 inch pieces. Peel and cut the onion into chunks. Place on the baking sheet and coat well with olive oil, 1 teaspoon sea salt, lots of fresh cracked pepper, and 1 teaspoon dried thyme. Place in the oven and bake until the carrots can be pierced easily with a fork. About 40 to 50 minutes. Toss the vegetables half way through cooking time.

4. In a food processor, puree the cooked vegetables (careful squeezing out the hot garlic cloves) with Parmigiano Reggiano and drizzle in the heavy cream while the machine is on.

5. Place the mixture and the broth into a pot and cook over medium heat until warmed through stirring often. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if desired.

Recipe & photograph by Laura Flowers.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bugs Bunny’s Pasta or Roasted Carrot & Garlic Cream Bowties with Peas

Oh roasted carrots I’ve been missing you my whole life! I had no idea roasting you would create such buttery rich squashy flavor and take garlic to a whole new level of heaven.

Why didn’t anyone tell me sooner? Reeni from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice I owe you big time for this recipe. It’s a staple in my house already and I’ve made it three times since you posted it.

Reeni thought she would add pancetta or bacon next time, and I decided to go the vegetarian route and add peas. I think nearly anything you choose to add to this pasta will be fantastic!

Bugs Bunny Pasta
Print Recipe
1 pound of Carrots, sliced in 1-inch rounds
5 cloves of garlic, whole, peeled
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
Sea or Kosher salt and fresh pepper
1 teaspoon Thyme
2/3 cup Heavy Cream
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated, plus more for serving
1 pound of Pasta
1 and 1/2 cups Reserved Pasta Water

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl toss carrot rounds and garlic with the Olive oil, using your hand to thoroughly coat the carrots and garlic with oil. Season well with salt, pepper, and thyme.

2. Bake in a 9x13 inch baking pan about 45-50 minutes until carrots are tender. Take the pan out and toss halfway through the cooking time.

3. When carrots are tender, remove from oven. Cook the pasta in a generous amount of salted water to al dente according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking
make the carrot cream.

4. In a blender or food processor puree the carrots and garlic together with the heavy cream and Parmesan cheese until smooth. When the pasta is done cooking reserve a cup and a half of the pasta water.

5. Drain pasta and add to a large mixing bowl. Toss with carrot cream, (add 1 ½ cups frozen petite peas here if using) adding pasta water a little at a time until you get a nice consistency and the pasta is evenly coated.

6. Serve with Parmesan Cheese and crusty bread/garlic bread.

Notes: Recently I've been roasting two heads of garlic for this pasta with great results. I guess if this recipe could possibly get any better, garlic would do it.

Recipe by Reeni @ Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice. Picture by Laura Flowers.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Black Bean Burgers

Last week I worked on black bean burger recipes. I wanted something reliable and tasty, but was disappointed with the recipes I’d found and ended up taking a different route. 

I wanted a burger where the black beans and vegetables themselves shined, instead of existing as bland bulk covered up with cumin and chili powder for flavor. After several fails, I roasted the vegetables with much better results than chopped up raw ones. It’s an extra step, but not a difficult one.

Homemade vegetable burgers are softer than store bought because of the lack of textured vegetable protein. Keeping that in mind, choose or make a soft bun so your burger doesn’t squish out the sides when you take a bite.

Roasted Vegetable Black Bean Burgers
1 onion
1 bell pepper, any color
4 cloves garlic
½ cup frozen corn
Light olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Sprinkle of garlic powder
Sprinkle of onion powder
1 cup pulverized Keebler Club Crackers
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained well
2 teaspoons Tapatio Hot Sauce, or to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

2. Slice the onion and bell pepper into wide strips and place on the foil. Add the garlic and corn. Drizzle with enough light olive oil to coat well and season with ½ teaspoon salt, lots of fresh cracked pepper, and a good sprinkle of garlic powder and onion powder. Toss to coat.

3. Bake vegetables for 35 to 40 minutes tossing twice while cooking for even browning. Vegetables are done when there are some black spots and the vegetables are soft. Let cool on the baking sheet until about room temperature if you have time.

4. In a food processor, pulverize enough Keebler Club Crackers to make one cup. Place in a large bowl. Then add the rinsed and drained black beans to the food processor and pulse quickly two or three times, don’t crush all the black beans, just about 2/3rds of them. Place them in the bowl with the crackers.

5. Place the roasted vegetables in the food processor and process until chopped into very small pieces. Add to the bowl and add the hot sauce. Mix everything together gently with a spoon and taste for seasoning. Important: Add more salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and/or hot sauce to taste here.

6. Brush a nonstick skillet or preferably a cast iron griddle with oil and heat to medium. Scoop the mixture into patties and pat to shape as you cook. Cook each side until a nice crust forms.

7. Serve with soft buns and condiments of your choice.

Notes: If you have a bread machine it's super easy to make your own buns. Recipe from the picture is here.

Recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Absolut Mandrin Dreamsicle Cookies

It was an orange day. I ran across some beautiful mandarin type oranges at the Co-op, Dishboy Scott called and told me about the Absolut Mandrin Vodka he purchased (which I promptly broke into his house and borrowed from him), and I spotted an orange cake mix at Safeway. I figured maybe I could throw everything together into one recipe. So here it is.

These cookies are so yummy. Any type of orange should work fine, so please don’t let that stop you from making these.

You can have your vodka back now Scott. Sorry about the thievery. Can I make it up to you with a cookie?

Absolut Mandrin Dreamsicle Cookies

1 cup sweetened plain jarred applesauce

1/3 cup butter, softened

2 large eggs

¼ cup milk

¼ cup Absolute Mandrin Vodka

1 (18.25 ounce) package Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Orange Supreme cake mix

1 ½ cups unbleached flour

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment.

2. Beat together the applesauce, softened butter and eggs. Then add the milk, vodka, and cake mix and beat until well mixed. Add the flour and beat until just combined.

3. Scoop with a standard (size 50) cookie scoop and drop onto parchment 1 ½ inches apart. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes until lightly golden on the bottom. Rest on cookie sheet for 2 minutes and move to cooling rack.

4. Once cool, make the frosting (recipe below) and decorate as desired.

Makes 60 cookies

Orange Vanilla Frosting

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

Zest of 1 mandarin orange

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons juice from a mandarin orange

2 teaspoons Absolut Mandrin Vodka

¼ cup milk

Pinch of salt

5 cups powdered sugar

1. Beat all the ingredients together until smooth and fluffy. Frost Cookies as desired.

Recipe and photographs by Laura Flowers

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Emergency Chile Verde Soup

This is total cheater recipe. Though you’d never know it when you took a bite. Comforting with deep rich Mexican flavors, this stew-like soup tastes like it’s been simmering over the stove for hours. In reality, it’s been simmering over the stove for about 10 minutes.

Sometimes even a food blogger like me needs a break from cooking.

Emergency Chile Verde Soup
1 (29 ½ ounce) can Juanita’s Chile Verde Pork & Green Chile Sauce
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies & spices
1 (15 ounce) can black beans

Condiment Ideas
1 (3/4 ounce) can El Pato Salsa de Jalapeno
Sour cream
Shredded cheddar
Crushed tortilla chips
Flour or corn tortillas

1. Rinse and drain the black beans and place them in a large saucepan. Drain the diced tomatoes and add them to the black beans. Add the chile verde and cook over medium high heat breaking up the pork with a spoon and stirring occasionally until warmed.

2. Ladle into individual bowls and top with condiments of your choice. Serve with tortillas.

Recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Penne Alla Vodka and I’m a Terrible Competitor

So here’s the deal. I learned today you could vote for all the cakes in a day. That means instead of $1 a day going to fight ovarian cancer, we can each make $5 per day go to this much needed cause. So instead of just asking you to vote for our team, “Fall for Me”, I’m hoping that you'll vote for all five teams.

I’ll probably be kicked out of the competitors club for this one. But this is cancer, these are my food blogging buddies, and I love all our cakes. So will you vote for all of us? Please? Only 2 ½ days left. Let's kick ovarian cancer in the butt!

Also, Buddy the Cake Boss is giving an internet live cake demo today at 4p.m Pacific Time. If you want to learn some rad new skills go RSVP. Again, money goes to the same worthy cause. I’ll be there of course.

This pasta is a staple in our house and my husband asks for it all the time. I finally grabbed a picture so I could pass it on to you. It's also great with some grilled chicken or shrimp. Play around with it and see what works for you.

Cook’s Illustrated Penne Alla Vodka
“If possible, use premium vodka; inexpensive brands will taste harsh in this sauce. Pepper vodka imparts a pleasant flavor and can be substituted for plain."

1 pound penne pasta
1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and liquid reserved
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup minced onion
1 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup vodka
½ cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons minced fresh basil
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving

1. Start heating heavily salted water for pasta. Puree half of the tomatoes in a food processor until smooth. Chop the remaining tomatoes into ½ inch pieces, discarding the cores. Combined the pureed and diced tomatoes in a 2 cup liquid measuring cup. Add reserved liquid to make 2 cups.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is light golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3. Stir in the tomatoes and ½ teaspoon salt. Remove pan from heat and add the vodka. Return the pan to medium high heat and simmer, stirring frequently for 10 minutes to cook off the vodka. (Lower heat to medium if simmering is too vigorous.) Stir in the cream and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until hot.

4. Right after you add the vodka cook the pasta according to package directions. Set aside ¼ cup of salted pasta water at the end of cooking time. (I save about a cup, often needing more than called for.) Drain the pasta, return it to the pot, add the sauce and cook over medium heat for 1 ½ minutes to make the sauce stick to the pasta a bit. Then turn off heat, add the pasta water, basil, a little salt and pepper and Pecorino Romano cheese as desired and serve.

Recipe from "The Best of America's Test Kitchen, Best Recipes and Reviews 2008". Picture by Laura Flowers.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Raisin Scones & NY Trip

Can you believe my team decorated this cake for Kelly Ripa's Cake Off for a Cause? I can't believe it either! Sandy, Megan and I had a blast decorating. The time went so quickly when we looked up it was over. I was ready to do another cake.

I’m home finally! What a snowy trip. I missed my kitchen and my family! Why didn't I pack my Mactop again? That’s ok, The Strand Bookstore kept me entertained with the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. The entire series. I know, I’m pathetic. Instead of sleeping I decided it would be a good time to devour all five books.

New York was great, so was meeting the other food bloggers. And did you know the people of Manhattan are nice? They are! I walked around for days talking to them. I decided to be a local and not take my camera along, so I don’t have a ton of pictures. I spent time with my friend Kathia and my new friend Christine, bummed around Chelsea Market and Whole Foods at Union Square watching out the window as a college kid dropped into the snow to make a snow angel. I talked to people on the subway, in cabs, and on the street. I walked for miles in the snow and spent a wonderful afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

That’s not what you wanted to know? You want to know how the event went? It was a blast! The other food bloggers are so much fun. I miss them already. Ryan from Foodbuzz, the Electrolux people, Buddy The Cake Boss, and Kelly Ripa were nice too, as were the chefs who helped us out of jams. (Ha I’m punny!)

Just us food bloggers waiting to decorate cake.

Will you vote for our cake"Fall for Me" please? There are only five days left. When you vote you’re entered to win an Electrolux range, and better than that $1 goes to fight cancer every time a vote is cast. You can vote once a day until it’s over.

Click the box to sign up and vote:

vote for me

I tried to copy the glorious raisin scones I found in the Chelsea Market. They were such a work of breakfast perfection I hated to eat mine. It really needed to be framed and hung on my wall instead. But I’ll leave you with my recipe attempt. They are good, just not stunningly beautiful. Sigh…

in Scones
Although good plain, feel free to add a couple tablespoons of orange zest, some cinnamon, or even grated fresh ginger to this plain raisin scone recipe. Store leftover scones in sandwich bags and freeze for a quick breakfast on busy mornings.

4 cups unbleached flour
¼ cup plus two tablespoons granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
4 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup raisins, preferably organic

Egg wash
1 large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Place oven racks in the top lower and upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a food processor pulse together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Then add the butter 1/3 amount at a time and pulse just until combined each time. You want pea sized butter chunks.

3. In a stand mixer or a large bowl. Beat together the eggs and heavy cream. Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Then mix in the raisins. Dump out the dough onto a clean surface and knead for a few turns adding a little flour if needed until dough is only slightly sticky.

4. Flour a clean surface and roll or pat down the dough until it’s about 1 inch thick. Cut out shapes with fluted a 3 inch biscuit cutter (or any shape you prefer) and place two inches apart on the parchment. Brush tops with egg wash.

5. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown rotating cookie sheets halfway through baking time.

Recipe & photograph by Laura Flowers.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Spinach Bruschetta Pizza with Shaved Parmesan

I’m getting ready to head to New York for the Kelly Confidential Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Event. Attempting to travel light, I'm leaving the Mactop at home. So this post will be it for next week unless I really get my act together.

I feel so grateful. I get to meet Ryan (the girl) from Foodbuzz, Jennifer from Electrolux, and fourteen amazing food blogging women on this trip. Afterwards, my dear friend Kathia is picking me up to explore the city, and Chef Elizabeth is meeting us for dinner. Even Christine is stopping by the next day for breakfast. Food blogging friends are the best! I've never felt so welcome.

There is however one new friend I wish I could take with me. The fun, hilarious, life and wine loving Sandhy Robinson-Jones, better known as L'Optimiste. Sandy was diagnosed with stage 3b Ovarian Cancer in February 2008 at the age of 46. She’s completed six cycles of chemotherapy and had a total hysterectomy and oopherectomy. I can't even imagine one cycle of chemo, let alone six!

Sandhy, since I can’t pack you in my suitcase, I’m tucking you into my heart and carrying you with me. The first toast of the evening will be to you, your incredible spirit, and good wine!

Oh yeah, and I'm only taking my point and shoot, but before you chew me out let me tell you why. First, good pictures come from the photographer, not just the camera. (My old photography professor enjoyed beating this into my thick young head for years.) Second, I get more candid photographs with my point and shoot. A small camera doesn't scare people like a big one does, and often I can shoot unnoticed. And third, I don't want to haul the big gun around a snowing city when I don't need to. It'll be warm and safe at home when I'm wet and cold. With a decent point and shoot it is possible to get great shots. Really! You believe me, don't you?

Since I’ll be in the birthplace of American pizza, I thought it would be tonight’s recipe. I know New York represents every cuisine in existence and not just pizza, but it’s Saturday, I’m still in Idaho, and I was craving pizza.

Well, I'm out of here. See you in a week!

Spinach Bruschetta Pizza with Shaved Parmesan
1 recipe pizza dough, below
1 jar Classico Basil and Tomato Bruschetta
Baby spinach
Very thinly sliced onion slivers
Shaved Parmesan (Use a vegetable peeler)
Salt & pepper

1. Make the pizza dough about an hour and a half in advance.

3. When ready to assemble, place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Or place the pizza stone on the grill and turn to high heat.

4. Place the bruschetta in a food processor and pulse to lightly chop into a chunky sauce.

5. Divide the dough in half and roll out each piece pretty thin pieces about the size and shape of your pizza stone. Place the doughs on parchment paper cut to size.

6. Brush the dough with olive oil. Top the dough with the bruschetta sauce. Then top with a little mozzarella, then spinach, onion slivers, shaved Parmesan, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste.

7. Oven Method: Use a pizza peel or cookie sheet and slide under the parchment. Slide the parchment with the pizza onto the pizza stone. Bake one pizza at a time for anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Watch it carefully, it can quickly turn from beautiful to burnt.

Grill Method: Use a pizza peel or cookie sheet and slide under the parchment. Slide the parchment with the pizza onto the pizza stone. Close the lid and turn the heat to medium/medium high. Bake one pizza at a time for anywhere from 3 to 6 minutes or until golden brown. Watch it carefully, it can quickly turn from beautiful to burnt.

8. Repeat with second pizza.

Pizza Dough
1 cup warm (110 degrees F) water

1 (1/4-ounce) envelope (or 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast

1 teaspoon honey

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1. In a stand mixer bowl add the water, yeast, and honey and let sit for 5 minutes until foamy. Add the flour, olive oil, and salt and mix with the dough hook until well kneaded.

2. Olive oil a large bowl. Remove the dough from the stand mixer and knead on a clean surface for two more minutes. Place the dough in the oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for at least an hour before using.

Notes: I use part whole wheat flour in my pizza dough sometimes, when doing this add a little extra water if needed until the dough is lightly tacky.

Recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Caramel Macchiato Thumbprints & Shortcut Guilt

When I make anything with a mix I always feel a bit guilty. Like I can’t take credit because I didn’t really make it, a company did. I used to think this was just damage from guilt trips my mother used on us kids in an attempt to make us behave. (They rarely worked by the way, sorry Mom!)

Now that I’m deep into Laura Shapiro’s book, “Something from the Oven. Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America.” I realize it isn’t just me. Women in the 1950s felt the exact same way I do as marketers tried to sell their products by promising an easy way out of cooking.

Woman felt like they should cook. That it was their duty, and a chore most women actually enjoyed. Cooking was a matter of pride, just as it is today. (Men often fit in this category too. Or I know my dad and brothers do anyway.) For example, no one felt they could brag about a cake made from mix back then, but one from scratch was worthy of showing off.

Maybe most of us still feel this way 50 plus years later. I can’t be the only one right? Even though I made these cookies, and they are a variation on a mix, I still don’t feel I can take real credit for baking them.

I have a funny little story about Laura Shapiro before I set you loose with this recipe. Although I’m certain she doesn’t remember me at all, I followed her around and talked to her for two days at a food photography conference last June. I just thought she was a neat person who had the same first name as I did. Little did I know she was the Laura Shapiro who wrote all of my favorite American women’s history and food books, plus lots of good articles! Until the day I was leaving that is, and I didn’t even find out from her. It all clicked when I found her Julia Child book for sale on the authors' table.

I’m such a genius sometimes. Geesh! The good news is Laura is really sweet and great to talk to, even if I can’t tell her now that her books are wonderful. So if you find her, please let her know for me.

Caramel Macchiato Thumbprints
This brilliant cookie take on a favorite coffee drink is by 2009 Betty Crocker Cookie Contest Winner Edwina Gadsby from Great Falls Missouri. They really are wonderful, so ignore any feelings of guilt and enjoy them.

2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder or granules
1 tablespoon hot water
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1/4 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
18 caramels (from 14-oz bag), unwrapped
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening

1. Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, dissolve coffee powder in hot water. Stir in cookie mix, flour, butter, vanilla and egg until very soft dough forms.

2. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls (I made 1-inch balls). On ungreased cookie sheets (use parchement paper here), place balls 2 inches apart. Using thumb or handle of wooden spoon (floured pastry tamper works best), make indentation in center of each cookie.

3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. (Re-indent cookies right away) Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

4. In small microwavable bowl, microwave caramels and milk uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring once, until caramels are melted. Spoon (about) 1/2 teaspoon caramel into indentation in each cookie. Cool 15 minutes.

5. In another small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and shortening uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds or until chips can be stirred smooth. Drizzle chocolate over cookies. Let stand about 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Edwina Gadsby ‘s Tips
Chill dough for about 20 minutes to make it easier to shape.

To drizzle chocolate easily, spoon melted chocolate into small resealable food-storage plastic bag; cut small tip from 1 bottom corner. Squeeze bag gently to drizzle chocolate over cookies.

Recipe by
Edwina Gadsby @ Betty Crocker. Picture by Laura Flowers.

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