February 28, 2010

Macadamia coconut tart in a chocolate cookie crust

This tart was very decadent - delicious, rich, gooey, sweet, and a bit salty. I found this recipe in Gourmet Today. I stuck to the filling recipe pretty closely, but instead of using a regular pastry crust, I decided on a chocolate cookie crust. First, because it's easy and second, because I really thought this tart needed some chocolate. We had this dessert with a couple of family members and everyone liked it a lot. Tarts have easily become one of my favorite things to make.

Chocolate cookie crust
28 Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer cookies
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grind the cookies in a food processor until completely ground. Mix in a bowl with the butter until well combined and moist. Press into the tart pan until it's evenly covered. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. Set on a wire rack to cool while making the filling.

Macadamia coconut tart filling
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups dry-roasted and salted macadamia nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt until combined. Then whisk in the butter, macadamia nuts, and coconut. Pour the filling into a the tart shell. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the center is set and the top is golden. Cool and serve room temperature.

February 22, 2010

White chili

White chili is a great one pot dish for a cool day. This chili combines a lot of my favorite flavors -- lime, cilantro, avocado, cumin, and more. I feel that the toppings are really important for the white chili. They add all sorts of great colors and textures that I think make this dish. Plus they make it extra hearty and filling. This chili is mildly spicy, depending on your poblano peppers. Poblanos tend to have a medium spice to them, but I find that they can range it their hotness.The creamy avocado and sour cream help to balance out any extra heat.

This recipe will make about four to six bowls of chili. You can easily stretch it by adding more beans or vegetables. This is a great meal to have a pot of just sitting in the fridge for a quick dinner or as a warm lunch to take with you to work on a cold day. It usually doesn't last long around our place though!

White chili
1 lb ground turkey
1 medium to large white onion, diced
2 medium poblano peppers, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup salsa verde (green salsa or substitute diced jalapeno)
zest and juice of half a lime (other half reserved for serving)
1 can (14 oz) white beans (I use great northern)
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
olive oil

lime wedges
avocado chunks
Monterey jack cheese (shredded)
sour cream
crumbled up corn chips (I use organic blue corn)

In a large soup/stock pot, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and peppers. Cook until onions turn translucent. With a wooden spoon, move the vegetables to the edges of the pot and add the turkey to the middle. Cook until the turkey is browned. Drain any fat. Add salt, pepper, coriander, cumin, and oregano and stir. Add the chicken stock and salsa and cook until warm. Add beans and corn and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Continue simmering for about 30 minutes. 

Then add the lime zest, juice, and cilantro. Ladle the chili into a bowl and top with corn chips, cheese, avocados, a dollop of sour cream, and extra cilantro and lime juice.

February 18, 2010

Beef stroganoff

I really love beef stroganoff. It's one of those great wintery comfort foods. Comfort foods are what the cold weather is all about. This meal is full of hearty beef and mushroom flavor with a creamy tang from the sour cream you stir in at the end. Beef stroganoff can be served over egg noodles as shown in the photo and goes very well with a side of peas or roasted beets for a complete dinner. I'm not sure I ever had beef stroganoff as a kid, at least not made with steak. I think there was a similar ground beef version, but it's not the same thing... I wanted to try stroganoff and looked at a lot of different recipes. As is often the case, it turns out it's not all that complicated to make - it just takes a little time (but it's worth it).

The below recipe is adapted from here and serves two. We've never had leftovers when I make this because it's just so good.

Beef stroganoff
about 3/4 pound sirloin steak cut into thin strips
about 2-1/2 cups sliced portabella (cremini) mushrooms and/or white mushrooms
1 large shallot (can substitute about 1/4 cup onion), diced finely
1 clove garlic, grated
olive oil and pat of butter for cooking
salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
about 1/2 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried tarragon (or 2 tablespoons fresh chopped)
about 1/2 cup of sour cream (brought to room temperature)
fresh chives or more tarragon for garnish, optional
egg noodles cooked to package directions, for serving

In a large skillet melt the butter and add the olive oil over medium heat. When warm, add the mushrooms (do not overcrowd the pan. You may want to do this in two batches to make sure they get browned). Cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are browned. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate. Then add the shallots and garlic to the pan, cooking for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the pan and place on the mushroom plate. You may need to add more olive oil and/or butter. Then add the steak to the pan. Let cook on one side until browned and then turn and continue to cook until browned and cooked through. 

Return the mushrooms and shallots/garlic to the pan and stir it all together. Then add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg and stir. Add the beef stock and de-glaze the pan by scraping all the brown bits off the bottom. Turn heat to low. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and tarragon. When the mixture is warm, stir in the sour cream and continue to warm it over low heat until heated through. Do not let the sour cream come to a boil. 

Once it is warmed, serve immediately over egg noodles. Top with extra tarragon or some fresh chives, if desired.

February 14, 2010

Apple-cranberry coffee cake

For Valentine's Day breakfast I was trying to find some sort of coffee cake/breakfast cake that I could get up early to make in my heart-shaped pan. I looked all over the internet for a recipe that I thought sounded good. I wanted one that used apples because I had two apples around that needed to be used up. I didn't really find a recipe that I liked, so I read a bunch and then made my own. Unfortunately I did not have any applesauce on-hand or I would have used that in this recipe - next time I will. I decided to use some dried cranberries on top, too, so that there was some red color in the heart. If I had fresh cranberries - I would have used those in the batter, too.

Apple-cranberry coffee cake
For the batter:
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons milk (or milk substitute or buttermilk)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large apples, peeled and diced

For the topping:
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup lightly toasted pecan pieces (or walnuts)
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 tablespoon butter

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees and lightly spray a 9-inch cake/baking pan with cooking spray (in my case, I used a heart-shaped cake pan).

In a small bowl, add all of the topping ingredients and mix together with a fork until it is all moist and combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add the flours, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda. Mix until combined and break up any lumps in the brown sugar. Add milk, egg, and vanilla and stir until just combined. Then stir in the apples until just combined. The batter will be thick.

Spread an even layer of batter in your cake pan and then sprinkle the topping in an even layer on top. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until just golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes and then enjoy warm with a nice cup of coffee.

February 6, 2010

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

I wanted to make some cookies I could package up to take to my brother as part of his birthday present. I decided on one of my favorites: chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. I love these cookies and usually have most of the needed ingredients on hand. These cookies "sneak" some oats into your chocolate chip cookies for a little extra texture. They also have a touch of cinnamon which make them like a combination of chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal cookies. They are tasty though and never last long. This recipe will make about one dozen cookies.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup fine organic cane sugar (or granulated sugar)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture until well combined. Stir in oats, then chocolate chips. 

Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and place 2-inches apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake 9-11 minutes, or until lightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

February 5, 2010

Lime tart with a graham cracker crust

I made this lime tart for my friend M's birthday dessert a couple of weeks ago. The filling was basically the same thing as the filling I used for this lemon tart. The only difference was that instead of lemon juice and zest, I used lime. The crust for the lime tart was a graham cracker crust. It was super simple to make - I just have to get better at pressing the crusts up the sides of my tart pan.

Graham cracker tart crust
1-1/4 cups graham crackers (I used organic ones), finely ground (about 9-10 whole graham crackers)
2 tablespoons fine cane sugar (or granulated sugar)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Break the graham crackers into small pieces and pulse in a food processor until finely ground and you have 1-1/4 cups. In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs and sugar with a fork until well blended. Drizzle the butter over the graham cracker mixture and continue mixing with a fork until it's evenly moist. Put the crumb mixture into an ungreased tart pan and press it into the bottom and sides until it's evenly covered (about 1/4 inch thickness). Bake the crust on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Then add the lime filling (see the above link to the lemon tart) and bake about another 20-25 minutes. Cool again and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Top with whipped cream and extra lime zest, if desired.

February 3, 2010

Baked egg ramekins

These eggs baked in a ramekin are a great weekend breakfast or brunch. Each person gets their own dish and they are really tasty and cute. The opportunities for these eggs are endless. Any veggies, meats, herbs, spices, cheese, etc. that you like with your eggs can be added. Experiment and find what you like. For our breakfast, I used a combination of vegetables we had in the fridge that needed to be eaten. Below is the basic recipe and then what I used.

Baked egg ramekins (for each 8 oz ramekin you need the following)
1-2 eggs
about 1 teaspoon of milk or cream
salt and pepper
cooking spray

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray each ramekin with cooking spray. Then in the bottom of the ramekin, add whatever vegetables or meats you are using. For the eggs I made, I placed a slice of tomato in the bottom of each ramekin and some sauteed mushrooms and green onions along with some salt and fresh cracked black pepper. After you put your goodies on the bottom, crack 1-2 eggs on top. Top the egg(s) with a bit more salt and fresh cracked black pepper (I also used some smoked paprika) and the milk or cream (this keeps the eggs from drying out in the oven). Top with some cheese of your liking (some shredded Swiss is on the above eggs), if desired.

Place the ramekins in a shallow roasting pan or baking dish and fill the pan with hot water until it's about halfway up the ramekins. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the yolks are set and eggs are cooked to your liking. Serve with toast.

I think that the next time I make these, I will use some ham along with sauteed mushrooms, onions, and spinach...