Sunday, January 28, 2007

Only 3 More Days!


As a reminder, there are only 3 more days to submit your posts for the "Behind the Apron" roundup. I've already received some excellent entries and seen some lovely pictures of food bloggers. I love having a face and some background information to put behind the writing, as it adds a completely different element to their posts.

Here's the link to the original post!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Balsamic Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are probably the least loved vegetable, but I think that's just because most people hven't had them prepared properly. I hated brussel sprouts when I was younger, and it wasn't until a few years ago I had them roasted and fell in love with them.

This is a super easy side dish recipe, and I think it's the perfect recipe to try brussel sprouts. And if you like this preparation, try out my previously posted "Not-your-Mama's Brussel Sprouts, which are roasted with garlic.

Balsamic Glazed Brussel Sprouts

Balsamic Brussel Sprouts
16 oz brussel sprouts
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
1 shallot, chopped
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 425. Combine brussel sprouts, onion, garlic, and 3 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and spread out on a greased cookie sheet. Roaste 25-30 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, saute shallot in remaining olive oil over medium-high heat, until tender. Add balsamic vinegar and cook another 3 minutes. Stir in rosemary and pour over brussel sprouts.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Wine-Poached Tilapia with Tomatoes and Herbs

Fish is such an excellent nutritional powerhouse, and I try to include it into my diet as much as possible. It's also very easy to make, and can be made in an endless variety of ways.

I love poached fish since it's such a healthy preparation, and it leaves the fish moist and flavorful. The fresh tomatoes and herbs on top give it a little added spark, and this would be a fabulous light and healthy dinner. It's also quick and easy to make, and takes about 20 minutes, from start to table.

*This is my variation on a recipe I found at my local W*lmart*

Wine-Poached Tilapia with Fresh Tomatoes and Herbs

Wine-Poached Tilapia with Tomatoes and Herbs
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp dried dill weed
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp lemon juice
4 tilapia filets (or any firm-fleshed fish)
1/2 c white wine

Combine tomatoes, basil, dill, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice. Set aside. Season fish with salt and pepper and place fish in large skillet. Add wine and heat over medium high heat until wine starts to boil. Lower heat to medium, cover, and cook 3 minutes. Spoon tomato mixture evenly over fish, cover, and cook an additional 5-7 minutes, or until fish flakes with fork.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Trio of Glazed Nuts, Part III
Chili Chai Walnuts

Today's final installment in the trio of glazed nuts is a wonderful chili chai walnut, which is slightly sweet with the added kick of chili powder. This would be perfect for an after-dinner snack, and I think you'll be surprised how easy they are to make. They would also make a great foodie gift.

Chili Chai Glazed Walnuts

Chili Chai Walnuts
1 c raw walnuts
1/4 c sugar
pinch of salt
2 chai tea bags, or 1 generous tsp chai tea leaves
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper*

In large pan, combine walnuts and sugar over medium high heat. Stir frequently until sugar starts to melt. Lower heat, and stir continuously for 10 minutes, or until sugar starts to fully melt and cover nuts. Add tea and cayenne pepper, and continue to cook for an additional minute or two, until nuts are well glazed and seasonings are well mixed in. Pour onto sheet of wax paper on a cooling rack, and spread out. Allow to cool. Store in tightly-sealed container.

*1/4 tsp cayenne will put you at a heat scale of about 3 out of 10

Friday, January 12, 2007

Trio of Glazed Nuts, Part II
Lemon Pepper Cashews

Alright, I'm not going to lie. Out of all 3 of the glazed nuts, these are my favorite. I burned my mouth a few times, eating them before they were cooled. These lemon and pepper glazed cashews are so delightfully tasty, and surprisingly easy to make. The fresh lemon zest adds a brightness to them, and the freshly cracked pepper provide a nice warmness to the flavor.

You'll definitely want to make these again and again. And don't forget to come back tomorrow for the final installment in the trio of glazed nuts!

Lemon Pepper Glazed Cashews

Lemon Pepper Cashews
1 c raw cashews
1/4 c sugar
pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp freshly cracked pepper

In large pan, combine cashews and sugar over medium high heat. Stir frequently until sugar starts to melt. Lower heat, and stir continuously for 10 minutes, or until sugar starts to fully melt and cover nuts. Add pepper and continue to cook for an additional minute or two, until nuts are well glazed and pepper is well mixed in. Add lemon zest and stir until well mixed. Pour onto sheet of wax paper on a cooling rack, and spread out. Allow to cool. Store in tightly-sealed container.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Trio of Glazed Nuts, Part I
Jasmine Tea and Ginger Glazed Nuts

So I've been obsessed lately with tea, and how it can be used in cooking (It may have something to do with the fact that I gave up caffeine for 21 days, which I'm 5 days into and amazingly enough, still alive). Tea can be a wonderful and different addition to recipes, and over the next few weeks, I have a few things I'd like to try.

But I thought I'd start out with nuts, since almost everyone loves them. Whenever I have people over, or I'm entertaining, I always try and have some type of munchy snack out. Nuts fit that category, and there are literally a million different ways they can be spiced up.

Over the next 3 days, I plan on unveiling the fruits of my experimentation with 3 different versions of glazed nuts. Today's is a jasmine tea glazed almond, with the wonderful addition of crystallized ginger. The jasmine and ginger work so well together, and the recipe is surprisingly easy to make.

Don't forget to check back tomorrow for Part II!

Jasmine Tea and Ginger Glazed Almonds

Jasmine Tea and Ginger Glazed Almonds
1 c raw almonds
1/4 c sugar
pinch of salt
2 jasmine tea bags, or 1 generous tsp of jasmine tea
1/4 c finely chopped crystallized ginger

In large pan, combine almonds and sugar over medium high heat. Stir frequently until sugar starts to melt. Lower heat, and stir continuously for 10 minutes, or until sugar starts to fully melt and cover nuts. Add tea and continue to cook for an additional minute or two, until nuts are well glazed and tea is well mixed in. Add ginger, and stir until well mixed. Pour onto sheet of wax paper on a cooling rack, and spread out. Allow to cool. Store in tightly-sealed container.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Warming Ginger Noodle Soup

There's nothing better in the cold weather than a bowl of warm soup. That satisfied, full feeling after eating soup is so very nice. Although this soup is very simple to make, and only has a few ingredients, it's a powerhouse of flavor. Fresh ginger, which is a natural and great remedy for indigestion and nausea, make this the perfect soup if you're feeling under the weather.

This soup is also the perfect base for adding any of your favorite noodles, vegetable, or even tofu or shredded chicken. This would be the perfect starter to any asian meal, or a great light supper. It's like Ramen noodles - for grownups!


Warming Ginger Noodle Soup

2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
8 cups good vegetable stock
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1/2 c soy sauce (or tamari)
1/2 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
A few ounces of your favorite noodles

In sauce pan, add garlic and 1/2 cup of the vegetable stock. Simmer for 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and simmer for a minute or two. Add noodles, vegetables, or tofu as desired.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Garlic and Vermouth Fennel Gratin

Dry vermouth is one of those secret ingredients that no one really mentions, but it's a wonderful addition to almost any recipe. I love to cook with vermouth, as it provides such a great full flavor. Since vermouth is basically white wine, flavored with herbs and spices, it can be used in any recipe calling for sherry, or recipes calling for white wine. I used it to carmelize the leeks in the Carmelized Leek, Blue Cheese, and Grilled Pear Pizza, which added that great herbaceous flavor.

This is a simple recipe, takes about 5 minutes to prepare before popping in the oven, yet it has such a lovely and filling flavor you'll swear it took longer. If you haven't cooked with fennel or dry vermouth yet, this is a perfect starter recipe that will have you adding them to your normal cooking rotations.

Garlic & Vermouth Fennel Gratin

Garlic and Vermouth Fennel Gratin

2-3 large heads fennel (sometimes called anise)
1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tbsp butter
1 c dry vermouth
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 c freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 425. Cut off tops and bottom inch of fennel bulbs, and slice into 1/4" thick pieces. Place in baking dish, along with garlic and butter, and pour vermouth over top. Tear off a piece of parchment paper, run under cold water, and scrunch up into a ball. Open paper, and tuck it snugly around fennel in dish (this will help to steam the fennel). Place in oven for 25-30 minutes, or until tender. If desired, top with 1/3 c freshly grated parmesan cheese, place under broiler, and broil until cheese is melted and starting to brown. Serve as a side dish, or serve over toasted hearty wheat bread.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Behind the Apron Roundup


Have you ever visited a food blog, day after day, and stopped and wondered what the chef behind the magic looks like? I often wander through my Blogroll and wonder who's on the other side of the computer.

As food bloggers, we focus so much on the food that we often reveal nothing of ourselves to our readers. On any given street, I probably couldn't pick out more than 2 or 3 of the writers of the 100 or so food blogs I read on a regular basis.

That's where this "Behind The Apron" round-up comes in. Starting today, and ending January 31st, post a picture of yourself on your blog, revealing as much (tastefully, of course) or as little as you want. Introduce yourself, show us your family, do whatever you want.

Send a link to your post to 28cooks AT gmail DOT com, and I will round them all up, posting the final tally on February 4th. Please make sure you place a link to this post in your entry. You can also feel free to snag the handy button up at the top.

Have fun - show us who you are!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

They Say It's My Birthday!!

Cranberry Cuppie I

It's officially the 1-year birthday of 28 Cooks, and I can't tell you how excited I am to have made it this far. I've loved every minute of food blogging - the recipes, the photography, the learning. I've enjoyed the support of other food bloggers, and have made quite a few friends along the way. I've discovered plenty of other food blogs that never seem to stop providing inspiration, good food, and excellent pictures.

Thank you for your support, your encouragement, and your comments. I look forward to the next year, and hope it's just as good, if not better. But for now, let's eat some cake.

Cranberry Cuppie II

Cranberry Cupcakes with Dulce De Leche Frosting
(recipe from December's Gourmet Magazine)
Makes 6 jumbo or 12 regular cupcakes

1 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 stick (6 tbsp) butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c whole milk
3/4 c dried cranberries
5 tbsp cream cheese, softened
1/2 c dulce de leche

Preheat oven to 350, and line muffin tin with muffin cup liners. In small bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. With mixer at high speed, beat together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, and mix until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and milk, alternately, starting and ending with flour. Mix just until combined. Fold in cranberries. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full, and place in prepared oven. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in middle of cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven, and place on wire rack to cool. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and dulce de leche together until whipped. Frost cooled cupcakes with cream cheese mixture. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Coconut Lentil Curry

People often ask me if it's hard to make the switch to being a vegetarian. It's dishes like this, that are so flavorful and filling, that make me quickly respond back with "absolutely not!"

The coconut milk, red curry paste, fresh ginger and garlic, combined with red lentils and zucchini make such a fantastic combination. I didn't even have to taste it to know that this was a dish I would love. Served over jasmine rice, you have yourself a lovely vegetarian meal that even meat-eaters will be satisfied with.

Coconut Lentil Curry

Coconut Lentil Curry
(my variation on a recipe from December's Gourmet magazine)

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/4 c onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced
2 tbsp thai red curry paste*
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 fresh serrano pepper, finely minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 (13.5 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 c dried red lentils
2 c zucchini, chopped
fresh cilantro, for garnish

Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and curry paste. Cook for 1 minute, stirring well. Add salt, cumin, and pepper, and cook for an additional 1 minute. Add broth, coconut milk, and lentils, and simmer, covered and stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add zucchini, and cook an additional 15 minutes, covered, until lentils and zucchini are soft. Remove from heat, serve over rice, garnished with fresh chopped cilantro.

*Can use purchased, or here is a recipe to make your own