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!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cabbage and Apple Soup

Since yesterday I posted a recipe from my sister-in-law, Andrea, I thought I might as well post another apple recipe from a different Andrea today! My brother-in-law's girlfriend forwarded me the recipe she used (from Epicurious.com) to make an interesting apple dish; cabbage soup with apples and thyme. On a cool misty evening, it was nice to start off our apple-filled meal with a warm bowl of savory soup!

3 tbsp butter (Earth Balance to make it Vegan)
1 tbsp olive oil
8 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
1 large onion, chopped
8 thyme sprigs
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into cubes

Melt 1 tablespoon butter with oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add cabbage and onion; sauté until vegetables wilt and brown, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add 8 thyme sprigs and sauté 1 minute longer.

Add broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and sauté until brown and tender, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove thyme sprigs from soup. Ladle soup into bowls; garnish with apples and chopped fresh thyme and serve.

A Healthy, Three-Part, Apple Pie

In continuing with apple-fest, I thought I'd share a recipe for a "healthier" apple pie that my sister-in-law, Andrea, made last weekend. Being the baking genius that she is, she combined three different recipes from Allrecipes.com to make a tasty dessert that quickly disappeared once placed on the table.

Ingredients for Whole Grain Pie Crust
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, finely ground
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons very cold water, or as needed

  • Combine flour, ground oats, sugar and salt in medium bowl. Cut in the butter with pastry blender (or two knives) until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle with water and blend together with a fork until mixture holds together.

  • Shape the dough into ball and place it on a lightly floured sheet of wax paper. Top it with an additional piece of wax paper and roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Remove the top sheet of wax paper and invert dough into 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Slowly peel away wax paper. Trim excess crust and turn the edge under.

When done, the pie crust will look like this...

  • Ingredients for Apple Pie Filling
  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 apples - peeled, cored and sliced

Melt butter in a sauce pan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add white sugar, brown sugar and water, then bring to a boil. Reduce temperature, and simmer 5 minutes. Meanwhile, fill the pie crust with apples, mounded slightly, and slowly pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust.

Ingredients for Crumb Topping
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cold butter or margarine
1 dash ground cinnamon

Lastly, you'll want to prepare a crumb topping to sprinkle on top of the pie. In a small bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs and then sprinkle over the pie. For the finishing touch, sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Apples, Apples and More Apples

As promised, here are a few shots from our apple picking (and cooking) weekend!

A barrel of just-picked apples....

Some people really like those apples...

Hard at work peeling (and making a huge mess)....

Cored, peeled and ready to bake...

dessert, fresh out of the oven...

Delicious acorn squash with homemade applesauce...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Apple Weekend Extravaganza

Every year, my husband's family gathers in their in Long Island home for an apple extravaganza weekend. The backyard contains a beautiful apple orchard where we all gather to pick small red and green apples. Apple picking weekend has become a yearly tradition and the most fun part is returning home to make dishes showcasing the homegrown apples. Since we have enough bakers in the family, I've always leaned towards savory dishes like brie and apple quesadillas or apple and butternut squash ravioli. This year was no different.... I made a wonderful curried butternut squash stew with lentils and apples. The dish was a hit and there was plenty left over for lunch the next day. Expect some more apple-licious recipes and pictures from our apple weekend in my next posts!

2 cups red lentils
8 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cups peeled butternut squash, chopped
2 peeled potatoes, chopped
2 peeled carrots, diced
2 cups spinach, chopped
2 peeled apples, chopped
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Start by chopping and dicing all your ingredients so they are ready to go when you start cooking. Measuring out the spices beforehand also saves time later on.

Place the lentils, vegetable broth and garam masala in a saucepan or pot and cook on medium-low heat until the lentils are tender, or around 30 minutes.

Once tender, drain the lentils and save the liquid for later.

Heat the canola oil in a large saucepan and add the onions, cooking until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Mix in the curry, cumin, cloves, salt and pepper.

Add the cooked lentils, reserved liquid, pumpkins, potatoes and carrots to the pan and mix well.

Cover the pan and let the vegetables cook until they become tender, for about half an hour. The smaller you chop your vegetables, the less time they will take to cook through. Larger chops require closer to 45 minutes to cook.

Finally, add the chopped spinach and apples and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.

In the end you'll have a great apple dish that's both lactose intolerant and vegan friendly!

A Sweet Idea

A while back, I posted a recipe for the french toast I make my husband every other day. What I didn't mention was that when I'm done with him, I usually toss the remaining batter in a pan and make myself sweet eggs. Technically, this is more an 'idea' than a 'recipe,' but who cares because it's really really good! Just reference this recipe for a list of all the necessary ingredients and then cook away!

Friday, September 17, 2010

How to Assemble a Perfect Breakfast Burrito

Before he met me, my husband used to run across the street to the deli every morning and order a breakfast burrito. Seeing as how I have become domesticated, there was no good reason for me not to attempt the breakfast burrito. True, I might not be able to roll a burrito as well as some of those guys behind the counter who do it every day, but I wasn't half bad either. Here's my step-by-step tutorial for assembling a great breakfast burrito!

eggs or egg whites
diced vegetables
avocado slices
tomato slices
salt and pepper
tabasco sauce
burrito wrapper

Start by dicing a selection of vegetables. I used mushrooms, green and red peppers, onions and broccoli. Sautee the veggies in a tbsp of olive oil until wilted and season with salt and pepper. Add egg whites or eggs and scramble with the vegetables over medium heat until the eggs are well done. If you leave them runny, they will soak through the burrito and things will start to fall apart (I know from experience).

Place your veggie egg mixture in the center of the burrito and top with a slice of cheese. I chose to use swiss but often use munster as well! Really, anything will do! Splash with a few dashes of tabasco sauce for some heat. Oh, and the larger the burrito you use, the easier it will be to roll in the end.

Place some thinly sliced tomatoes and avocados over the eggs.

With all the ingredients in the middle of the burrito, you'll want to fold over the top and bottom flaps so that they sit over the eggs. Next, take the right flap and fold it over the left side, tucking it somewhat under the filling and roll until the burrito takes on a circular shape. Slice in half and you're ready to go!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Do Some Dairy

While my husband usually has some variation of eggs or french toast for breakfast, I like to start my mornings with lighter fare. Since I am not the biggest milk drinker, I try, when I can, to squeeze some dairy into my day. My recent breakfast obsession is Fage, a brand of nutritious, not-too-sweet greek yogurt. While it tastes great on its own, I like to add a few seasonal ingredients to liven things up.

3/4 cup Fage yogurt
1/2 cup blackberries
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp chopped frsh mint

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chicken and Mushroom Marsala

My husband loves chicken but rarely eats it out due to his rosemary allergies. Naturally, I try to prepare the best (and safest) chicken entrees I can for him to enjoy. As we all know, chicken can be kind of boring sometimes. With the right sauce, though, it can be really rich and surprisingly spectacular. Marsala wine and white button mushrooms really elevated this dinner and made it worth making!

4 chicken breasts
1 pound sliced button mushrooms
1 thinly sliced small white onion
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup marsala wine
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper

Wash and pat dry your chicken breasts. Mix the flour, oregano, salt and pepper and coat each chicken breast in the mixture. Heat your olive oil and butter in a medium sized saucepan. Once the oil is really hot, but not smoking, add the chicken.

Cook five minutes on each side, or just enough to brown. The chicken does not have to be completely cooked throughout as it will be cooked more later on. Remove the breasts and set aside.

Add the onions and mushrooms to the skillet, stirring until the liquid the mushrooms give off has evaporated. Throw in a tbsp of excess flour and mix until it has dissolved. This will thicken everything.

Add the marsala wine and stir until significantly reduced.

Add the chicken broth and chicken breasts into the pan. Let the breasts simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, turning the breasts over halfway through.

When finished, mix in the parsley for some nice color and fresh taste.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Different Use for Potatoes

Walking through the farmer's market earlier this week, I noticed an overwhelming variety of potatoes. Usually, when I'm cooking potatoes, they are to serve alongside eggs in the morning. However, after seeing my friend Justin put together a salad using fava beans, potatoes and green beans, I thought I'd aim for something similar. I purchased some green, yellow and purple wax beans (which turn green when cooked) along with baby russian potatoes and peppery arugula...combined with a mustard vinaigrette, this salad was uniquely delicious!

Salad Ingredients
large handful of mixed color green beans
about 10 small russian baby potatoes

Ingredients for Dressing
1/4 small red onion, diced
3 tbsp dijon mustard
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Start by washing your wax beans and potatoes. Trim the ends off the wax beans.

Bring water to a boil in a medium sauce pan and drop in the wax beans, letting them cook for five minutes. Remove, let the water return to a boil and drop in the potatoes for about ten minutes. You'll want to prick the potatoes with a fork to make sure they aren't too firm.

While your veggies cool, assemble the salad dressing. Put all the ingredients in a bowl except for the olive oil and diced onions. Slowly whisky the olive oil in and finally mix in the onions.
Toss the arugula, potatoes and wax beans with the mustard vinaigrette and you'll have a different kind of salad that's great for both the summer and fall!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stuffed Mushrooms

Making stuffed mushrooms to go along with those steaks I just posted about was my sister's idea.... and a really great idea for that matter. We debated for a while on the perfect vegetable side dish, eliminating more typical items like grilled asparagus and sauteed spinach. Stuffed mushrooms stood out as a bit more exciting and challenging to make, so we went for it. They actually turned out delicious, but I would recommend using Italian style bread crumbs over the crunchier panko bread crumbs we used (they happen to be lying around the house).

28 large white mushrooms, stems removed
1/2 cup Italian Style breadcrumbs
1/2 cup pecorino romano, grated
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp fresh parsley
salt and pepper
2 tbsp cup olive oil

Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until mixture is well blended. Set aside mixture to later stuff mushrooms with.

Wash the mushrooms and remove their stems. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick pray and place the mushrooms on it, cap down.

Fill the mushrooms with the mixture and sprinkle with excess cheese. Also drizzle a little olive oil over the tops of the mushrooms.

Bake for about 25 minutes, remove, let cool and enjoy!