Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp

On this recipe is called cake, but there’s not a hint of cake here. It’s a crisp with a top and bottom plus a simple glaze that’s poured over tart rhubarb and sweet strawberries.

The glaze alone is worth making again. It makes the fruit sweet without being grainy and I can see myself using it for other recipes with blueberries, cherries, peaches and pears.

Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp
Printer Version
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter

Fruit Filling
4 cups rhubarb, chopped
1 pint fresh strawberries, halved
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a bowl combine flour, packed brown sugar, oats, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Gently press half of the mixture into an ungreased 9-inch round baking pan.

3. Place chopped rhubarb across the bottom. Top with strawberries.

4. In a saucepan stir together sugar and cornstarch. Add water and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until it lightly coats the back of a spoon. Pour glaze over fruit. Sprinkle fruit with remaining crumb mixture.

5. Bake for 1 hour. Scoop and serve with vanilla ice-cream.

Recipe instructions adapted from Submitted by Roxanne39. Pictures by Laura Flowers.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Avocado Chipotle Dogs with Cotija Cheese

What did I learn today? Three things.

One, never go to a salvage yard in slacks, open toe shoes, pearl button blouse and Kate Spade bag. You'll get price gouged and probably laughed at behind your back.

Two, I learned 9-year-olds prefer to stick to the book when it comes to stories. Clara demanded to know why no one died in a Romeo and Juliet cartoon. The only response I could come up with? “Um, I’m sorry?” Let’s hope she doesn’t grow up to be a serial killer.

And three, never ever make an extra principle payment to a mortgage when distracted. Let’s just say my checking account is now totally empty and the overdraft is already happily accruing interest.

So it’s a hot dog night. Those I usually can’t screw up. Did I say usually? Yeah. The Food Network Magazine recipe for chipotle sauce was gross and over powering. I like to taste a little hot dog with my sauce, not just flavorless mouth-burn. Thankfully I had enough ingredients on hand for another try.

I think I’ll leave the dishes dirty and hide in a nice quite bubble bath. It’s safer for everyone that way.

Avocado Chipotle Dogs with Cotija Cheese
Printer Version
Whether you prefer premium franks, turkey dogs or Tofu Pups, dressed up hot dogs have left Pinks for good and are headed out across America.

1 recipe Chipotle Sauce, below
1 package hot dogs of choice
1 package hot dog buns
Thinly sliced avocado
Cotija Cheese

Grill the hot dogs to preference. Warm buns on the grill for a minute. Top with avocado, sauce and Cotija cheese.

Chipotle Sauce
1 chipotle pepper from a small can
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup cilantro
Squeeze of lime
Salt & pepper, to taste

Process ingredients together in a small food processor. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine 2011. Picture by Laura Flowers.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad with Parmesan Dressing

The Food Network Magazine doesn’t always grab my attention, but June’s issue jumped in my cart. With fifty recipes for condiments, new iced tea ideas, fresh fruit cocktails, hot dogs and make your own pasta salad concepts I’m going to be cooking out of it all summer.

I added some of those pre-grilled vegetables, vegetable rotini and a tad more garlic and lemon to their sauce recipe. It’s so good I can’t stop sneaking forkfuls.

Now I can’t wait to try the other sauces and suggestions! Summer here I come.

Creamy Garlic Parmesan Dressing
1/4 cup mayo (I used olive oil mayo)
1/4 cup sour cream (non-fat is fine)
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic that’s been pushed through a garlic press
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together. Toss with pasta and grilled vegetables, below.

Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad
Recipe Printer Version
1 recipe Creamy Garlic Parmesan Dressing, above
12 ounce box Ronzoni Garden Delight Rotini or pasta of choice
8 3/4 ounce can of corn, rinsed and drained (no salt corn works best)
1 medium-large zucchini
1 onion
Olive oil
Granulated garlic powder
Granulated onion powder
Salt & pepper

1. Make the pasta according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water.

2. Meanwhile, turn the grill to medium-high. Slice the onion and zucchini large enough they don’t fall through the grates. Season well with oil, granulated garlic, granulated onion, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Grill until char marks form and veggies are tender. Chop into small bite sized pieces and cool to room temperature.

3. In a large bowl, toss pasta with dressing and vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste if needed. Serve immediately or chill until ready to use.

Sauce recipe adapted slightly from Food Network Magazine, June 2011. Pasta & picture by Laura Flowers.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

One Egg Grilled Veggie Omelets

The person who freaked out and ate two big brownies after three days of sugar detox? Yeah, that would be me. Ooo brownies.

This omelet is delicious restitution for that moment of weakness.

Though I admit restitution only happened because there were grilled vegetables on hand. During warm summer months all I want to do is ride my bike and tend to get lazy about food prep. To counter myself, on Sunday I grill and chop several different vegetables to be used during the week.

Prepped this week were sweet onions, red and green peppers, asparagus and zucchinis. Some of those veggies went into this omelet of course, but also on green salad, in pasta salad, quesadillas, sandwiches and tonight they’ll be on pizza.

Seasonings are simple. Olive oil, granulated garlic, granulated onion, salt and pepper are rubbed in making the veggies flavorful, but benign enough to use in almost anything.

One Egg Grilled Veggie Omelets
Printer Version
You’ll need a 6-inch nonstick skillet to make this omelet, unless you make them bigger of course. But how can you go wrong with a bigger veggie omelet? The vegetables are only a suggestion, please use whatever you like.

Red bell pepper
Green bell pepper
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Hot sauce
Olive oil
Granulated onion powder
Granulated garlic powder
Salt & pepper

1. Turn the grill to medium high. Chop any vegetables that need it (leave bell peppers whole) and coat with olive oil, granulated garlic, granulated onion, salt and pepper. Grill vegetables until tender. For bell peppers char them until black on all sides. Immediately after grilling, place peppers in a paper bag for 10 or more minutes and close the top. Remove peppers and peel off skins. Dice peppers and other vegetables.

2. Crack and beat one egg at a time in a small bowl. Place a small amount of butter in a 6-inch nonstick skillet. Melt over medium heat until foamy. Add the egg and scramble slightly moving the egg around until it spreads into a circle. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and granulated garlic.

3. Once egg looks fairly dry, sprinkle some of the vegetables on half. Do not overfill. Top with a small handful of cheese and hot sauce. Fold the empty half of the omelet over the vegetables. Carefully move it to a microwave safe plate.

4. Microwave omelet for 20 seconds, or until vegetables are warm and cheese is melted.

Recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Grilled Asparagus and Red Pepper Salad with Shaved Parmesan

With raw garlic vinaigrette this is not a first date salad. I have breath that could slay a vampire, so if you make this beauty purchase some breath mints.

I’m switching gears to lighter meals in preparation for hot summer months. Or what I hope turn into hot summer months. We woke up to snow and the backyard lawn-swamp is fit for the ducks my neighbor said were roaming around.

I dream of sunny days.

For the past few rainy springs I’ve pulled out Andrea Chesman’s The New Vegetarian Grill for fresh ideas. This variation on her tasty Asparagus Salad doesn’t disappoint and someday I might even be able to make it without rain pouring down my back.

Grilled Asparagus and Red Pepper Salad with Shaved Parmesan
Salad & Dressing Printer Version
For a vegan version, leave off the Parmesan and make your own croutons with olive oil, salt and a sprinkle of granulated garlic.

1 recipe salad dressing, below
1 red bell pepper
1 pound asparagus
6 to 8 cups mixed salad greens of choice
Croutons, store-bought or homemade
Shaved Parmesan
Salt and pepper

1. Make the salad dressing. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Meanwhile, heat the grill to hot. Grill the bell pepper until it’s well blacked. Place it in a paper bag and close the top. Steam for 5 to 10 minutes until the skin is easily removed. Skin the bell pepper. Strain pepper juice into the salad dressing. Remove the steam and seeds and slice into small strips.

3. Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus. Coat with a little dressing and grill until done to taste. Slice asparagus into thirds.

4. Wash, dry and place the greens on 2 to 3 plates. Top with red pepper slices, asparagus, croutons and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Using a vegetable peeler, slice off strips of Parmesan onto the salad. Shake dressing and drizzle over the salads. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 to 3 dinner salads.

Garlic Basil Salad Dressing & Marinade
Make this first and set it aside while you prep the salad. And once you’re done grilling, steaming and skinning the bell pepper, slice the top open and add the juice to this vinaigrette.

3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of grilled red bell pepper, optional

Add all the ingredients together in a salad dressing bottle. Close and shake well to combine. If you don’t have a bottle, whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl drizzling the olive oil in last.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Recipe adapted from Andrea Chesman’s book "The New Vegetarian Grill". Picture by Laura Flowers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Grandma's Pineapple Carrot Cake

Not all special cakes are multi-tiered or fancy looking. Sometimes they come home-style in 9x13 inch cake pans with messy cream cheese frosting like this one from Abby Hicks at Tweedle Dee Design Co.

This pineapple carrot cake is American nostalgia and my personal pick for best tasting carrot cake. It’s got a lot of texture and moisture going on with pineapple, carrots, coconut and walnuts infiltrating the batter. As if that’s not enough, a buttery glaze soaks into the hot cake as soon is its pulled from the oven.

It also has a great story and family history. One than makes me wish I could walk into a New York diner for cup of tea, a slab of cake and conversation with friends.

Here's what Abby had to say, “One of my grandmothers owned a restaurant in New York, which I worked in as a teenager. She had an award-winning recipe for Pineapple Carrot Cake that people would come in for every Thursday. It is the most moist and delish carrot cake I have eaten in my 44 years! The secret to this incredible cake is a buttery toffee sauce that is poured over the cake as it comes out of the hot oven. When it cools and you top with a cream cheese frosting...every bite melts with buttery sweetness.”

After a pitch like that I had to give this a try. Now I'm trying not to eat the whole pan!

Grandma's Pineapple Carrot Cake
Printer Version
Laura’s notes: Like any good fruitcake the longer it sets the better it is. I think at three days this cake is amazing, so don’t be afraid to make it way ahead of time.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sift dry ingredients together and set aside....

3 Eggs
3/4 Cup Oil
3/4 Cup Buttermilk
2 Cups Sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix well. Add the dry ingredients and mix well.

1 8 0z. can of crushed pineapple
2 cups shredded carrot
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts

Add pineapple, coconut, carrot and nuts and mix well. Pour into a greased 9" x 13" glass cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Prepare glaze....

Buttery Glaze
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 pound butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients (in at least a 2 quart pot) and boil for 1 minute. Remove cake from oven and while hot, pour glaze over cake. Cool completely. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 pound butter
1 8oz. package cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Combine butter and cream cheese. Add vanilla, powdered sugar and beat until think and smooth. Frost over cooled cake.

Refrigerate cake until ready to serve.

Recipe via Abby Hicks. Picture by Laura Flowers.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Oregon Fruit Vanilla Plum Crisp

Harvest for this townie is often gleaning off the land. I know where wild blackberries are to be found and where old apple, plum, cherry, and pear trees grow in rural abandoned areas. I’ve memorized back alleys where ancient unharvested trees drop forgotten varieties and where the nicest raspberry bushes are.

Each year I fill my freezer with gleaned fruit for winter. But I never get around to using it all and by spring I’m scrambling to do something with it before the season begins again. However, by then I tend to forget important details. Like if the fruit was ripe.

So I made a plum crisp. A painfully tart and tannic plum crisp.

Dishboy Scott was visiting for dinner (as usual) and he looked at me with this horrible pucker on his face and said, “I think the crisp might need more sugar.”

“Really?” I said, just as I was taking a bite. “It’s not so bad.” Two bites later, “Crap, these are the plums we picked out at the blackberry area. The ones we tugged off the trees because we were too lazy to drive back when they were ready.”

Long story short. The crisp was so sour we gave up and I made another one. This time with my favorite canned Oregon Fruit. And oh man, it was so good. Perfectly sweet with lots of plum flavor and a crispy vanilla crust.

Half the benefit of canned Oregon Fruit is the heavy syrup it comes with. The syrup adds so much body to whatever I’m baking that I always adjust recipes to include some of it, as I’ve done with this crisp.

For when the actual ripe plums arrive, I’ve included a recipe adjustment for fresh fruit. This crisp also works well with peaches or pears. Ripe ones at least.

Oregon Fruit Vanilla Plum Crisp
Printer Version
If you don’t have vanilla sugar on hand, stir a teaspoon of vanilla extract into the filling.

3 (15 ounce) cans Oregon Fruit canned Plums
1/4 vanilla sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set aside a 1 1/2 quart baking dish or a 9 1/2” pie dish.

2. Strain the juice from 1 can of plums into a large bowl. Strain the other cans of plums and discard the juice.

3. Place the plums on a cutting board and gently slice out the pits. Cut plums into 3 to 4 pieces each. Place them in the large bowl.

4. In a small bowl, mix together the vanilla sugar and flour. Sprinkle over the plums. Drizzle with almond extract and gently toss to combine. Pour the plums into a baking dish.

5. Move on to topping.

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 quick oats
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted

1. Place the flour, oats, vanilla sugar and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Toss to combine. Drizzle with butter and stir just until crumbly. Use fingers if needed.

2. Sprinkle topping over crisp. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until bubbly and top is golden. If needed, broil the top for a few minutes to crisp the topping.

Fresh Plum Variation: Use 5 cups of pitted and quartered fresh plums and reduce the flour in the fruit to 1 tablespoon.

Peach or Pear Variation: Canned peaches or pears work well with this recipe. If using fresh fruit, measure out 5 cups of sliced fruit and reduce the flour in the fruit to 1 tablespoon.

Recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Arroz Blanco (Mexican Rice Pilaf)

Arroz Blanco is a staple I keep in my arsenal. It’s a basic Mexican style rice pilaf to serve as a side or add to other dishes. Unlike its cousin Spanish rice, this recipe is tomato free.

This weekend I served Arroz Blanco under saucy Pollo en Mole Verde, but it’s also a nice side for fish dishes.

Arroz Blanco
Hot toasted pilaf is hard to resist.
Printer Version

2 tablespoons light colored oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 1/2 cups medium grain white rice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1. Heat the oil to a large skillet over medium high. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook until most of it turns translucent and some of the kernels start to golden brown.

2. Add the garlic, parsley, salt and lime juice. Cook for 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant. Add the broth and bring to a simmer.

3. Turn the heat to low and cover skillet. Cook for 17 to 20 minutes. Turn off heat and keep covered for 5 minutes before serving.

Note: For a vegan version use vegetable broth.

Recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chicken Piccata Fettuccine

In the mood for chicken piccata, but a little short on chicken for my guests. I turned a tradition Italian meal into a pasta dish. It’s a restaurant trick I took to heart, learning most nice meals can be extended by pasta in a pinch.

This one works especially well with all the lemon, wine and chicken broth. If truth be told, I think it might be my new favorite pasta recipe.

Chicken Piccata Fettuccine
Printer Version
This is one of those medium level recipes. If you’re a novice cook, all the instructions are here to guide you. Total time including chicken prep should be around 35 minutes.

2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
All-purpose flour for dredging
Salt and pepper for chicken
1 pound fettuccine
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup white wine
14 ounce can Swanson low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1/4 cup small capers, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan

1. With a sharp chefs knife, carefully cut the chicken breast horizontally through the center of the breast to make a total of 4 thin pieces. Place 1 piece of chicken at a time into a gallon size plastic bag and pound chicken with a flat bottom meat pounder until about 1/3” thick.

2. Dredge the chicken in flour and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil for fettuccine. Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Place the pasta in a large serving bowl.

4. In a large skillet, melt the butter with olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Do this in batches if you need. Turn down the heat if oil starts to splatter. Move chicken to a cutting board and set aside.

5. Deglaze the skillet with wine. Add chicken broth, lemon juice, capers, parsley, salt, and pepper. Simmer for several minutes until the sauce reduces by about a third to half.

6. Slice chicken into bite sized strips and add them to the sauce. Cook for 5 minutes, then pour sauce mixture over fettuccine. Top with cheese and toss to combine.

Recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers.

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