Saturday, June 19, 2010

Marinated Roasted Vegetables

In case the last recipe gave you a heart attack, here is something on the lighter side. Or, if you ask me, it's a perfect dinner compliment to Elizabeth's delectable dessert ;).

Easy Grilled Veggies

2-3 pounds of vegetables (carrots, onions, squash, green beans, green onions, etc.)
3/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon (or other herb of your choice)

Wash and slice up the vegetables in large pieces any way you prefer, sliced, quartered, halved, left whole, etc.  If desired, precook or blanch tough veggies like the carrots and green beans by boiling them for a few minutes, then dropping them in ice water to cool quickly. This softens harder vegetables a little so they will take the same amount of grilling time as your quick-cooking vegetables.

Place veggies in a shallow dish or plastic bag. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over vegetables. Let vegetables marinate for about an hour.

Grill veggies until tender and slightly charred. I found it helpful to place a cooling rack crosswise on my grill so no veggies fell through the rack. You could also use a grill basket, but a mesh device won't give you as nice of grill marks.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Black Tie Mousse Cake

This, quite simply, is chocolate decadence. Olive Garden charges $7 a slice for this. I made the whole cake for about $5. The recipe is not a simple one, but nearly all the reviews I've read from people who have made it concur--it's worth the time.

It begins with a few of my favorite things:

You can make the first two layers the night before, like I did.

Layer one is a chocolate cake. That part actually went together so quickly I forgot to take a picture. You could even use a cake mix, although you would have a lot of leftover batter.

Layer two is a chocolate cheesecake. If you have a favorite recipe for chocolate cheesecake, feel free to use that.

Layer three is an Italian mousse. I used a recipe that involved a mixture of cream cheese and heavy whipping cream, but I've also found recipes that are for a more custard like mousse. I'd like to try it that way next time.

Layer four is a dark chocolate ganache. All I have to say about that is: chocolate and cream were made for each other.

Drizzle a little white chocolate in three circles around the cake and swirl with a toothpick before the ganache sets up.

For the grand finale, take some mini chocolate chips and press them along the edges to create a crust.

Oh, wait, we're not done yet... there's not quite enough chocolate here yet. Let's make a little chocolate whip cream to decorate the edges.

And there you have it. Chocolate. Decadence.

A little Hershey's syrup for presentation if you can handle just one more kind of chocolate:

Olive Garden copycat recipe for

Black Tie Mousse Cake

Layer 1 Chocolate cake "crust":

3 Tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 Cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 Teaspoon vanilla
1/4 Cup baking cocoa
1/4 Cup flour

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease bottom only of a 9 inch springform pan. In medium bowl cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, beating well after each addition; add vanilla and mix well. Add flour and cocoa and mix well to combine. Batter will be stiff. Spread in pan. Set aside.

Layer 2 Baked Chocolate cheesecake:

8 Ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 Cup ricotta cheese
3/4 Cup sugar
1 Ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon flour

In large bowl cream cheeses with sugar until smooth. Add small amount to melted chocolate and combine well, add chocolate mixture and beat until well combined. Add eggs and flour and beat well. Smooth over top of cake batter in pan. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until cheesecake is set in center. Cover with foil during last 10 minutes if needed to prevent over browning. Remove from oven and cool.

Layer 3 Italian mousse:

3/4 c. heavy whipping cream
12 oz marscapone or cream cheese, softened (or 6 oz of each)
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 T. cold water
1 T. boiling water
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin

Beat cream until stiff. In separate bowl beat cream cheese with sugar and vanilla until smooth. Combine with cream and fold to combine. In small bowl soften gelatin in cold water for about 1 minute. Pour boiling water over gelatin and stir to dissolve gelatin. Cool five minutes. Fold into cheese mixture until just combined. Spread mixture over baked cheesecake layer and chill well (freezing the cake at this point works well and makes spreading the final layer easier).

Layer 4 Dark chocolate/white chocolate ganache:

9 oz dark chocolate, either chips or bars broken in pieces
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon butter
3 Tablespoons white chocolate chips
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Heat cream and butter over low heat until just boiling (may also microwave). Place dark chocolate chips/pieces in large bowl. Reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons cream mixture. Pour cream mixture over dark chips and let set about 2 minutes, or until chips begin to melt. Stir to combine. Repeat for white chips using reserved cream mixture. Let ganache cool until spreading consistency (set in refrigerator to speed this part up).

Using a sharp knife gently run blade around edge of cake to loosen. Remove cake sides from pan and place bottom with cake on serving plate or stand. Spread frosting over top and sides. Drizzle white chocolate lightly over top. Using a knife or toothpick run it lightly over top to swirl to create desired effect. Press mini chips into frosting on sides until completely coated to create a "crust".

Mousse frosting:

1/2 heavy whipping cream
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/8 c. baking cocoa
1/8 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients and whip until peaks form. Pipe generously around cake top edge, and center. Chill well and serve. Serves 12-16.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Of garlic scapes and beet greens

This week's CSA share contained some strange items.

From a quick google search, I learned that garlic scapes can be made into pesto, grilled with five spice powder, used to garnish bruschetta, or even pickled. They also apparently make good bracelets ;). I made mine into a dip, a la the New York Times. (recipe at the end of the post)

Beet greens are supposedly just as versatile--although I did get so excited researching garlic scape recipes that I didn't look up very many beet green recipes. The beets themselves, on the  other hand, made an excellent salad:

For this salad, I drizzled the beets with some balsamic vinegar and oil, and roasted them on 400 for about 45 minutes (my beets were small, so they cooked through quickly). I peeled and chopped them, then returned them to the balsamic reduction and chilled them. The salad is the balsamic roasted beets, toasted walnuts, mandarin orange slices and crumbled bleu cheese, with a balsamic vinaigrette.

I served the salad with garlic scape white bean dip, and a pile of freshly made pitas.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Things I like this week:

Pita bread that puffs!

(I didn't do much experimenting this week -- but I do have several things planned for this weekend. Stay tuned for this week's CSA meals, and some unusual ingredients)

Friday, June 4, 2010

This week's favorite things

I am finding that each week I try far more recipes than I will ever have time to post. I also don't always take pictures, just in case the recipe flops ;). So I have decided to start a new Friday post dedicated to this week's favorite things.

I will be including links to recipes I tried this week (and liked ;)), and anything else that strikes my fancy. Mom and Dad, hopefully this means I will email you less random links to recipes. Everyone else, don't worry, I will continue to post full reports on recipes (some of the same ones you'll find here; some different) with pictures and step by step instructions-- you'll just get more recipes this way!

So, here are this week's favorite things:

1) Mmmm, spicy pork tenderloin with pineapple-jicama salsa. So easy, healthy, and good!

2) The world's best fish tacos. The Adobo rub, plus the lime-mayo coleslaw... I'm getting hungry again! I recommend serving them with red-cabbage coleslaw (recipe in the same link), avocados, tomatoes and cotija cheese.

3) Grilled "black and blue" burgers with mushrooms and bacon. Why isn't every holiday on a Monday?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

First week of the Produce Share!

This week I picked up my first batch of fresh produce from Heron Pond Farm's CSA. Not a bad haul for the first week of June!

This week's share is perfect for two recipes: Strawberry Stuffed French Toast, and a delicious Cobb Salad.

I'm certain that you can all figure out from the picture how to make an Cobb Salad ... so I'll leave you with my new favorite salad dressing recipe:

Cilantro Green Goddess Dressing

Ina Garten modified this dressing, which traditionally includes tarragon, to include basil. I may not be as good of a cook as Ina Garten, but I figured I could make my own modifications. I had cilantro in my fridge, and no basil, so I used that. It turned out even better than I had hoped -- so much so, that I never even tried it with the basil ;). Cilantro has a much milder flavor than basil, but tastes very fresh. That, combined with the lemon juice and green onions, is a perfect accent to a Cobb Salad.

1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped green onions (white and green parts; about 3-4)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
freshly squeezed juice from one lemon
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to serve. It keeps for a good week in the fridge, but tends to separate after that. Makes a little more than a cup. (And as you can tell, there is nothing "light" about this recipe-- this made plenty to serve 8 people for a side salad.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sisters come to visit... and there was much cooking.

Notice anything different about this picture? 

No? Look a little harder, under the plate. 

See the gorgeous stained wood this plate is sitting on? That's my beautiful new table! A real table! No more plastic! No more folding Ikea table! 

Oh, you want to talk about what is sitting on the plate? I guess, if you really think that is more exciting than my new table...

You see, a few weeks ago--the same week we got our new table, btw--The Sisters came to visit. So of course, we had to christen the new table. So we ate a. lot. of. food.

Highlighted foods were strawberries & mangos, New England seafood, and gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free experiments. (The fruit and seafood were a success... the jury is still out the gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free part. Perhaps Wendy can post more on that later this summer.) Saturday night's dinner featured Tapas-style mussels, shrimp and haddock, a garden salad with cilantro green goddess dressing, lemony quinoa, and strawberry mango shortcake.

You think that was enough cooking for one weekend? Never! We saved the best for last: