31 March 2010

Lemon Bread

This recipe for Lemon Bread by Randi at I Have to Say is one of my all time favorite bread recipes.

It's one of those amazing foods that actually gets better the longer it sits. The first few days, it's definitely bread. Best eaten for breakfast warmed up with some butter. The the last few days, it's kind of like cake. Best eaten with a fork, after dinner for dessert. It's a strange phenomenon, but one I'm not going to question because it is so yummy!

Lemon Bread

  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 2 tsp. shredded lemon peel
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice, divided
  • 1 TB. sugar
  1. Stir together the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. In another bowl combine the egg, milk, oil, and 1 TB. lemon juice.
  3. Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture and stir until combined.
  4. Add the shredded lemon peel and stir.
  5. Pour batter into greased 8X4X2 inch loaf pan.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean.
  7. While the bread is baking, stir the 2 TB. lemon juice and 1 TB. sugar together.
  8. Sugar should be dissolved before brushing on the bread.
  9. When the bread is done, brush the lemon juice mixture on the bread
  10. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove.
  11. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  12. Wrap the bread in a ziplock plastic bag to store. The flavor gets better as it sits.

29 March 2010

technical difficulties

apologies for the weirdness going on with our images.  hopefully blogger will sort it out soon.

food stuff: cooling hot beverages

today is the first day in about a month that i have had to wear a jacket to work here in northern california. it's sad. and to that extent, i was thinking about how i need to drink some more hot beverages this week - i love me some tea. but, whenever i drink tea, i always have to wait a half hour or an hour for it to cool down enough for me to handle it. that is, until i read this article at the kitchen which details the best ways to cool a hot beverage. it's great! how do you prefer to cool your beverages?

24 March 2010

Pizza Party, Part 1

Ohhhh K...so to be fair, the above image was not taken at my pizza party. It is a picture of A pear and blue cheese pizza, not MY pear and blue cheese pizza. That's because my pear and blue cheese pizza was gone before I could photograph it, almost gone before I got a chance to try it, and also, um, because I was too busy making 5 pizzas to remember to photgraph them for Mad Tasty. Sorry folks. I'll do better next time.

So here goes, at almost 30, after being a foodie, a waitress, a cook...after going to some of the best restaurants in town - expensive or not - I still love to eat like I did when I was 5. That means, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and my favorite, PIZZA! I love pizza of all shapes and sizes, styles, thin crust, thick, toppings, whatever. So to introduce my friends to my new apartment, I invited a few people over for, wait for it, a grown-up pizza party. I decided to mess around with toppings to test our palate and there was no doubt that the pear, blue cheese, and bacon pizza was the biggest success; more on this later. For my first foray into dough making (frighteningly close to baking, eeeek), I used this recipe from the interwebz:

In my attempt, I actually doubled the brown sugar content because we have really crappy measuring spoons in my new apartment. Though I was worried the crust was going to taste like cake, it was actually delicious. My only observation was that it was that the end crusts were a little too thick (think breadsticks) but that may just have been how it was layed out, I dunno. Anyway, we saved all of the massive ;) crusts and I have since thrown them in the oven for quick breadsticks to eat with grilled shrimp or proscuitto or whatever you have lying around the house for a quick snack. The remainders will soon become breadcrumbs for stuffed mushrooms, yum.

OK, so once you have your dough all mixed and manhandled and risen ;) it's time to spread it out ;))) and start topping them :) (sorry, i am ridiculous today and thinking about pizza puts me in a mood) . You can use pizza pans or a pizza stone, I used both because that's what I had. If you don't have these items, I'm sure you can use a regular baking pan/cookie tray type thing and maybe just make smaller pizzas of different shapes and sizes. As long as it tastes good, it won't matter what it looks like. The toppings we used were, drumroll please:

1) The aforementioned Pear, Blue Cheese, and Bacon Pizza.

Gah. To set this up, I cut maple bacon slices into half an inch pieces and gently sauteed them in a pan with no butter or oil, just to quickly pre-cook them, turning often to make sure they didn't burn or overcook. Once they were mostly opaque, I pulled the bacon off the stove and set them aside to cool. I covered the pizza dough with thin slices of a just ripe pear. Then I added the bacon, crumbles of a mid-level blue cheese (not too expensive, not too cheap), and regular shredded mozzarella to fill it out. Brush the end crusts with olive oil. Pop this in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for about 18-20 minutes and, um, wow.

2) Cannellini Bean and Parsley Pesto Pizza

Hmmm. Ok, good concept, poor execution. I wanted to use a pesto recipe that didn't have any nuts in it, so I tried this one... I used a variation of this recipe from Emeril:

I sauteed the beans per the recipe and found that the beans had PLENTY of bright, lemon flavor, so I opted out of using the lemon juice that the recipe suggested for the pesto portion. I let the bean mixture cool and then I spread it out on the naked ;) pizza dough. Here's where I made my mistake. I used all of the bean mixture so that the dough was coumpletely covered. Then I dropped the parsley pesto all over the pizza in blobs and covered it with shredded parmesan cheese. Brush the crust with olive oil and then, in the oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes and done. So it was delicious, don't get me wrong. So, so tasty. Thanks, Emeril. BUT it was waaaaaay to heavy. It felt more like bean pie then a pizza. Next time, I would either use much less of the bean mixture on the dough orrrr I would just make a pie crust and make a savory bean pizza and be done with it. Basta.

3) Proscuitto and Calimyrna Figs

Pretty self-explanatory. I cut up pieces of proscuitto and cut up the figs and placed them on the dough. Covered the pizza with shredded mozzerella and brushed the crusts in olive oil. In the oven for 18 minutes at 450 and you're done. It was delicious. I felt liked it needed something but I couldn't figure out what. Definitely tasty though.

4) Roasted Red Pepper and Fresh Mozzarella

Really simple sauce. Take a red pepper, put it on your oven range and roast it. Add it to a pan with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, one tablespoon of minced garlic, a small can of diced tomatoes, a tablespoon of dried oregano, a dash of cinnamon, squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a teaspoon of salt. Saute on med-high heat, breaking up the tomatoes and pepper with a spoon as you go. Let cook for about 15 minutes and then remove from heat. Blend in a blender of food processor until smooth. When cool, spread across pizza and then top pizza with slices of fresh mozzarella. Brush crust with olive oil. Also, you can add any more spices you like to top the pizza before putting it in the oven - crushed red pepper flakes, more oregano - your choice. Then in the oven at 450 degrees for about 18 minutes and yum!

5) Curried Cauliflower and Cashew Pizza

This recipe is a little complicated but so delicious it deserves its own post. Check back for it!

Everything Bagel Spice

Who doesn't love everything bagels? They are so good... and the combination of the spices really has such a unique flavor.
Well, some genius decided to whip up an everything bagel spice. Now that I think of it, how has it taken so long for someone to realize the brilliance of this idea?
Everything Bagel Spice can be purchased at giftgenius.com.

17 March 2010

Mini Meatball Soup

The end of winter is almost upon us. Before we go completely, here is the recipe for my favorite soup, courtesy of Rachel Ray from The Food Network. Love her (I do) or hate her (lots of people do), the woman can cook.

Mini Meatball Soup

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan in a slow stream
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef, pork and veal combined
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano, a couple of handfuls
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs, a couple of handfuls
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
  • 6 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups dried pasta
  • 1 pound triple washed fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  1. In a deep pot over medium heat add oil, chopped carrots, celery and onions and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Cover pot and cook veggies 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. While the veggies cook, combine meat, egg, garlic, grated cheese, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, nutmeg in a mixing bowl.
  3. Uncover your soup pot and add broth and water to the pot. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil.
  4. When soup boils, reduce heat a bit and start to roll meat mixture into small balls, dropping them straight into the pot. You are making meat dumplings that will cook in the broth.
  5. When you are done rolling the meat, add pasta to the soup and stir.
  6. Cover and simmer soup 10 minutes. When pasta is tender, stir in chopped spinach in batches.
  7. When spinach has wilted into the soup, the soup is done and ready to serve.

15 March 2010

food stuff: all about salt and spices

today, we're all about the spices, including salt. i was at trader joe's yesterday and really really wanted to buy some sea salt, but i couldn't justify it (i'm only tempoarily living here and don't want to move a jar of salt for no reason). and i love looking longingly at spices. i have NO IDEA how to use them properly, but i still like to imagine myself someone who just throws in this and that and knows how it's all going to turn out. here are some fabulous links all about salt and spices to help you become that culinary genius:
[h/t: the kitchn]

13 March 2010

Orchiette with totally amazing Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Ok, I used this recipe from this really adorable site called Pioneer Woman.

Her pictures are gorgeous and the recipes are easy to follow and often funny. This dish was such a hit. My picture is not nearly as beautiful as PW's, but oh well, whatcanudo... OK, some notes...
  • I took my attention off the pasta as it was cooking and then I let it sit just a little too long after it was done so the orchiette stuck together. To fix this, you can just stir more while cooking and then add a little olive oil when its drained and stir it around so that it does not stick together.
  • I used half-and half instead of heavy cream, but I can tell you that the sauce was so thick and rich before that step that I doubt adding the dairy is really neccessary because the toasted pine nuts have such a richness on their own.
  • Make sure you really add plenty of freshly shaved parmesan cheese and chopped parsley at the end and mix to coat the pasta well with these ingredients. It truly brightens the flavor and really rounds out the dish.
This recipe really is groan worthy and easy! Enjoy! I served it with a light, bright salad of chopped escarole, almonds, grilled shrimp and an easy lemon/butter/shallot sauce (combine in a medium hot pan and whisk together - voila!).

11 March 2010

Biscuits for sale

Portland, OR is a city known for hearty breakfasts and over a year ago, I spotted Pine State Biscuits on the Food Network, and knew I had to make it down there. Yes, that's right, a full year I have been pining over biscuits. And southern food, especially biscuits are not typically on my must have list.

I ordered the Regina, but what Scott, my husband, got was much more amazing: The Reggie Deluxe. Quite a hearty breakfast with fried chicken, bacon, cheese and fried egg smothered in gravy on a fabulous biscuit. Add some Texas Pete's hot sauce and this was heaven made just for Scott.

For those of you interested in tackling, just follow these easy instructions.

10 March 2010

Mad Hectic Oatmeal

Mad Hectic Oatmeal was featured in Daily Candy the other day. From what I have read, it sounds mad tasty!

About the product:
MAD HECTIC OATMEAL is an all-natural, high-protein hot oatmeal cereal mix created to be an easy way to get important nutrients into your daily routine. We use only the finest ingredients and there are no artificial colors or sweeteners and no trans fats! Mad Hectic Oatmeal is incredibly tasty oatmeal that cooks in just one minute!

We start with organic oats that are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Many healthcare professionals recommend eating oatmeal daily to help reduce cholesterol and help protect your heart. A high-fiber breakfast also helps keep blood sugar levels balanced and helps you feel full longer, reducing the urge to splurge on high-sugar foods between meals.

09 March 2010

Olive and Herb Focaccia

Every time we see the bottle of coarse sea salt in the cabinet we think of making this great, easy focaccia from The Weekend Baker. It takes a bit of time, but most of that is just letting the dough rise and having yourself a cocktail in the meantime.

3 1/3 c flour
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme
2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) instant yeast
2 tsp table salt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/4 c warm water (115-125 degrees will activate the yeast, but we didn't actually measure the temp)
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing the dough

For the topping:
20 pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chopped thyme
1 tsp coarse salt (note: this coupled with the olives make the bread pretty salty, so feel free to cut back on this and just sprinkle a bit on top)

Whisk together the flour, thyme, yeast, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Drizzle the water and olive oil over the dry mix. If you have a stand mixer, fit it with a dough hook and mix until all the flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl (about 8 minutes); if you don't, mix with a wooden spoon until a rough, shaggy dough forms and then knead for about 10 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball. Lightly oil the bowl and put the dough back in it, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Put dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet and press down gently to deflate. Shape the dough into an oval about 3/4 inch thick (about 10 inches long and 7 inches wide). Lightly brush with olive oil and loosely cover the surface with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm spot for another 20 minutes, until it has puffed and almost doubled.

Heat oven to 425 and remove the plastic from the dough. Lightly coat fingers with flour and press down into dough (but not through) until you touch the bottom, until you have about 2 dozen dimples. Scatter the olives all over the surface, pressing them into the dimples. Really make sure they're in the little holes, or they'll fall off when the bread is baked. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil and sprinkle with thyme and coarse salt.

Bake until top of focaccia is browned, 20-25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer bread to a rack. Drizzle remaining olive oil. Serve warm.

05 March 2010

Vegan Friendly Cooked Breakfast

I stayed in my vegan friend's house last week, and made a pretty good vegan friendly version of a cooked breakfast! Ok, the mushrooms and tomatoes are there already - but this post will share info about the product available to create vegan sausages that tastes like pork, and how to make a scrambled tofu that looks and tastes very much like egg....

  • Mushrooms
  • Tomatoes
  • Potato Farls
  • Asda Meat Free Sausage Mix, Water, Soy Sauce, Garlic Powder, Pepper.
  • Tofu, Engevita Yeast Extract, Onion Powder, Salt, Pepper, Turmeric.

1) For the sausages, Asda have a fab meat free sausage mix - just add water, mould into shape and pop on the pan. As a pork lover, this didn't really float by boat, but it came close enough.... add some garlic, soy and pepper to bring out a more spicy porky flavour! I probably made it too watery and could do with some practice to get it right....

2) To make the scrabbled tofu, cut out a chunk of tofu, and pop onto a hot pan, using vegetable oil. Use this yeast extract, Engevita, to add a cheesy nutty taste. Add the onion powder, salt and pepper, and some turmeric to give the tofu an eggy colour, and mix about on the pan until scrambled. Now this is delicious!

3) Served with fried mushrooms, fried or grilled tomatoes, and potato farls....and yes, there is soy milk in the tea. A full cooked breakfast, without a trace of animal products!

03 March 2010

Apricot Glazed Pork Chops

Every so often, you just have to throw caution to the wind and make something kind of random with ingredients you happen to have on hand.

Last night was one of those nights. Nine times out of ten, this never works out for me and I end up eating something kinda of gross. Last night, was the exception!

Apricot Glazed Pork Chops

  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 2 boneless pork chops
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 salt
  1. In a frying pan, combine chicken stock, apricot preserves, and worcestershire sauce.
  2. Bring to a simmer on low-medium heat.
  3. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and place in the frying pan
  4. Cook covered for 20 minutes turning the pork chops every five minutes to coat in apricot glaze. If the glaze becomes too thick, add more chicken stock.
  5. Cook uncovered for an additional 5 minutes or until the pork chops are cooked through.

02 March 2010

Yeasted Tart Shell

I found a copy of Fields of Greens at a used bookstore almost a year ago and it wasn't until the other night that I got around to making anything from it. I was in a tart mood, as in, a savory tart mood, so I chose one with leeks, garlic, and olives, all cradled inside a yeasted tart shell. Though I've made many a tart in my life I'd never encountered a yeasted tart shell before—I thought the pie-crust variety (flour, butter/shortening, salt, and cold water) was the only way to go. This is something more like a delicate Sicilian pizza: the crust is pillowey and soft, and the yeast gives it as much heft as flavor. Annie Somerville, author of Field of Greens, has taken famed English cookery pioneer Elizabeth David's recipe verbatim, and rather than type it up and make any claims that I did anything original to it, I'll just give you the link.

But for fillings: you might drive yourself mad considering the options. With all tarts and quiches, it's a good idea to put a layer of cheese on the bottom, which seals up any holes. So keep that in mind if you're going to go rogue and use just tomatoes, basil, salt & pepper, or saute chopped cauliflower or broccoli with shallots and garlic and a bit of nutmeg and then pour a light custard over the top, or simply, say, ratatouille and chopped cooked spinach and goat cheese. If you want to copy what I had, follow this modification of Somerville's recipe.

Leek & Olive Tart: Saute 3 thinly sliced leeks in a bit of oil. Add 2 cloves minced garlic, a big pinch of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and cover and steam until softened, then cook uncovered for 1 or 2 minutes until any remaining liquid cooks off. It a crust forms on the bottom of the pan, deglaze it with a bit of wine, stock, or water. Mix this up with a handful of chopped olives and a handful of chopped fresh parsley. After you've dusted the 9-inch tart shell with grated Parmesean (or any other cheese you like), make an even layer of the leek mixture. Whisk together 2 eggs and 1 cup half-and-half (or 1/2 cup cream + 1/2 cup milk), and then pour this over the leeks, and up to the rim of the shell (you may not need to use all the custard). Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25-35 minutes, until fully set.

01 March 2010

Muhammara - Middle Eastern Red Pepper Walnut Dip


  • a 7-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 2/3 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted lightly and chopped fine
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses*
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • toasted pita triangles as an accompanimen


In a food processor blend together the peppers, the bread crumbs, the walnuts, the garlic, the lemon juice, the pomegranate molasses, the cumin, the red pepper flakes, and salt to taste until the mixture is smooth and with the motor running add the oil gradually. Transfer the muhammara to a bowl and serve it at room temperature with the pita triangles.


I have to admit I have not tried this recipe from epicurious yet....but if its anything like the dip I had at this Middle Eastern Pasha's restaurant in Miami it should be AMAZING!! I have gone back to this restaurant three times just for this dip! The menu is standard and the food is average but the Muhammara is great! I will be making this when I get home and will comment about how it turns out ASAP!


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