A Little About Me

New York, New York
As a newly married woman, it has become my mission in life to learn how to cook. Gone are the days of picking up sushi and ordering curries. In order to jump-start my education, I enrolled in the Institute of Culinary Education's Fine Cooking I course where I learned the basics, from roasting to boiling to mousse-making (ok, maybe not that basic)! I've attempted to replicate some recipes - somewhat successfully- and create a few of my own. This blog is for friends and foodies and is intended to document my cooking adventures (and occasional fiascoes). Enjoy the pictures and bon appetite!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Friends and Family

What I love about cooking is the satisfaction it brings to my family and friends. Whether helping me prepare, or simply being the recipient of a meal it took hours to make, it's great having those close to me involved in 'Cooking With Kessner.'

All smiles as Michael anticipates scarfing down his turkey burger.
Why the devilish look, Adam?
Jason, with an empty glass and full plate.
My official co-chef.
Some help from Sara, a fellow chef and blogger!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What do YOU call this?

So, my husband and I have had several debates over what this dish, comprised of an egg cooked in toast, is actually called. While he insists on "Egg In The Hole," I know it as "Rocky Mountain Toast" (which is what I remember my dad always calling it when he made it for me as a girl). Either way, it's a nice break from the daily omelets I whip up and really simple to make!

Leave a comment and let me know what you call it!

2 slices of whole wheat bread
pad of butter
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

Start by cutting large holes into your bread by forcefully pressing the rim of glass down and twisting. Save the cutouts. Next, butter both sides of the bread as well as the cutouts. Heat some olive in a pan over medium- low heat and place your bread in. Crack an egg in a separate bowl, look for and remove any egg shells, and pour the egg directly in the hole.

Cook for 1-3 minutes, depending on how well-done you like the yolk and flip over, allowing the other side to cook for the same length. While cooking, place the cutouts in the pan and cook as well. Seasons with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chickpea-mania (aka Mediterranean Night)

Monday night, my sister, and sometimes sous chef, Lauren claimed she was craving a middle eastern meal but, after an hour at the gym, didn't want to eat fried falafel. We thus embarked on a mission to make baked falafel patties with a healthy Israeli salad (comprised of cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh herbs and lemon juice) as well as some creamy protein-rich hummus. The result was a tasty platter that satisfied her craving and made us feel light on our feet.... all thanks to cans and cans of chickpeas!

Ingredients for Hummus
2 15 oz chickpea cans
3 tbsp tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp water
2 cloves fried garlic (drop in hot olive oil to cook/brown)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients for the hummus in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Depending on how you like your hummus, you may want to add more lemon for acidity or more tahini for smoothness. Either way, play around with it until it tastes the way you're used to having it!

Ingredients for Israeli Salad
1 large cucumber, diced
3 medium sized tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp red onion, finely diced
3 tbsp parsley
2 tbsp cilantro
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Making this salad is a no brainer; just combine everything above!

Ingredients for Falafel Patties
1 15 oz can chickpeas
4 tbsp white onion
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper to taste

Place the above ingredients into a food processor and pulse until well combined. While doing this, preheat your oven to 375 degree F.

Take about a tbsp of falafel mix and roll it into a ball, then flatten it into a flat patty. Place all of your patties in a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray so they don't stick and break when you try to flip them.

Bake on one side for 15 minutes, remove, flip, and bake the other side for another 15 minutes.

Serve all your components together on a plate .. some whole wheat pita pockets are perfect for those with larger appetites (like my husband who usually needs to see carbs on a plate for it to be considered a 'real' meal)!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Sometimes, I need a little inspiration. When it comes to cooking, I tend to experiment with actual meals, not so much dessert. The other day, however, I was reading my friend Stephanie's Blog and saw she had posted a recipe for banana chocolate chip muffins. Although her recipes focus on a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, it motivated me to get baking and the result was some fantastic chocolate chip banana bread of my own! (Warning: do not make if you have no self control around sweets as you will probably keep cutting little slivers until you have consumed the entire thing.)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas
1 cup milk chocolate or bittersweet chips

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F and lightly greasing a 9x5 inch loaf pan. In a bowl, combine your flour, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.

Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended.

Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake for an hour and then let it cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack or plate. You can easily pour the batter into muffin tins and make muffins like Stephanie did in her recipe! Either way, it'll be deliciously addictive!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"9.5 out of 10" Southwestern Turkey Burgers

When I first started cooking, I insisted on establishing a ten point scale for my husband to use when grading his dinner. Although he was overly generous, most meals fell in the 8-9 range. It's quite rare for my meals to score higher than a 9, but the southwestern turkey burgers I made Monday night with my sister, and sous-chef, Lauren, did just that.

These burgers, although made with lean turkey and lots of other healthy ingredients, were filling enough that I decided to omit the bun and make a platter. So, what you see above is a bed of arugula with slices of avocado, a fresh corn salad, turkey burger, grilled onions and a paprika aioli. I used a lot of the ingredients in more than one component, helping tie in the flavors. It was a lot of work but apparently "one of the best dinners I've made."

Aioli Ingredients
1/2 cup mayo (I used light mayo to trim calories)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp garlic paste

For the aioli, simply combine the above ingredients in a bowl. The spices will also go into the turkey burger batter, giving it a similar taste.

Grilled Onion Ingredients
1/2 red onion, sliced into rings
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tsp sugar

Heat up some olive oil in a pan, cook your onion rings and season with salt, pepper and sugar. The rings should be well done, so as to get rid of that strong onion flavor.

The onions are to be piled on top of the burger and aioli.

Fresh Corn Salad Ingredients
4 corn ears
1/2 jalapeno, diced (remove the seeds and membrane for less spice)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 tbsp green onion, sliced
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper

Start by removing the husks and silk and drop in boiling water for five minutes. Remove and let cool before slicing the corn off the cob and into a bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients to the corn and mix
Turkey Burger Ingredients
1 lb ground lean turkey meat
1 can corn
1 can black beans
3/4 cup pre-cooked red onion and red peppers
5 tbsp cilantro
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbsp mexican chili powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp cumin
1 - 2 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on how much heat you like)
salt and pepper

Combine all the above ingredients into a bowl and, using your hands, mix everything well so that the corn and black beans are well incorporated into your meat.

Shape the meat into four patties. Over medium heat, warm up about 2 tbsp olive oil in and place your burgers on the pan, allowing each side to cook for four minutes before turning over. (Hint: Making the burgers somewhat thinner allows them to cook faster.)

Compose on a plate to make a platter like I did, or serve on a bun for a truer burger experience.

Monday, April 19, 2010

White Bean Dip Without Leaving Home

I was at home on Friday afternoon, with a bag of whole wheat Stacy's and a craving for something creamy to dip them into. I didn't feel like leaving the apartment to go to the market, so I figured I'd whip up a dip using a can of cannellini beans and a few other items already in my pantry. The idea for a white bean and fried garlic dip came to me after having watched my sister-in-law make some over the summer. It was so easy and delicious, I figured I'd eventually have to try it myself!

1 can of cannellini beans
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp lemon juice

Start by heating a few tablespoons of olive oil in a small pan or pot. Drop in the garlic, letting it cook until it slightly browns, about 20 seconds or so. You'll know you have enough oil in there if the garlic is completely submerged. Remove and set aside. Next, drain and wash your beans. Place in a food processor with the garlic and remaining ingredients and combine.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sea Bass with Something Pineapple, Round 2

After having used my seven pound pineapple to make grilled pineapple rings, I wanted to try another accompaniment for the same Sea Bass with mango sauce. This time around, I made a really delicious pineapple-mango salsa and decided to whip up some coconut rice as well. I have to say I think I like this version of the dish better...the salsa was a lot tastier than the grilled rings, even if it required a little more work!

Ingredients for Mango-Pineapple Salsa
1/2 pineapple, chopped into small cubes
1 mango, chopped into cubes
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 tbsp cilantro
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 jalapeno, or to taste, chopped,
1 lime, juiced
salt and pepper

To make the salsa, simply combine all the ingredients listed above.

Ingredients for Coconut Rice
jasmine rice
coconut milk
shredded coconut
The recipe for coconut rice depends on how much you're making and the only way I know how make it is in a rice cooker! Simply make your rice, swapping water for coconut milk. If the rice comes out a little wetter, pop it in the microwave for a minute or two, helping the rice absorb the rest of the coconut milk. When it has reached a desired consistency, add a handful of coconut shreds and mix. Pop back in the microwave for another half a minute so that everything heats up and combines well. Serve with fish and salsa!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Seven Pound Pineapple

The other day, I passed by one of those fruit carts positioned on every other corner and saw the most massive pineapple ever! I decided to purchase the monstrosity, since it was only $4 and I was told it was ripe and ready for eating. I used said pineapple to create accompaniments for two different versions of macadamia encrusted Chilean Sea Bass, the recipes for which will shortly follow!

Sea Bass with Mango Sauce and Grilled Pineapple

In order to make something of my seven pound pineapple, my friend Sara, whom I met during my cooking course back in January, came over for an afternoon of eating and experimenting with new recipes! We decided to make macadamia nut encrusted Chilean Sea Bass with a mango cream sauce and grilled pineapple rings. Overall, the dish was delicious, though the photo above doesn't quite do it justice!


For Grilled Pineapple:
1 ripe pineapple

For Mango Sauce:
  • 1/2 mango - peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

For Fish:
  • 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound fresh sea bass
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Like Sarah in the picture below, start by cutting the pineapple into rings. Do this by removing the top and bottom, standing the pineapple up, removing the skin from the sides, and cutting slices.

We didn't have the patience to carve holes in each ring, so we settled on slices over rings.

Heat your grill pan on high and place the pineapple down, cooking each side for about 3 minutes. We decided to just grill them plain since we would be making a mango sauce for the fish which would also compliment the pineapple.

Now, for the mango cream sauce, start by dicing your ripe mango into cubes.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the mango, heavy cream, and lemon juice.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thickened. Run through the food processor to break down the remaining chunks and refrigerate until ready for use.

Lastly, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and combine the macadamia nuts, bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon olive oil, black pepper, and red pepper flakes in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

Season the fish with salt and black pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and crushed garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Sear the sea bass on both sides, and remove from heat.

Transfer fish to preheated oven, and roast until cooked through. Cover the sea bass with macadamia crust, and return to the oven until crust browns. Top with the mango cream sauce and pile onto the grilled pineapple rings.

An alternative version of this recipe to follow shortly......