Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lemon Custard Tart with a Gingersnap Crust

So I had some leftover gingersnap cookies from something or other, and have been snacking on them over the past few days. Every single time I took a bite out of one, I got this intense urge to pair it with something lemony and fresh. And so this tart was born.

Sure, she ain't the prettiest girl at the ball (especially since I had the oven rack just a bit too close to the heat) but she definitely knows how to strut her stuff. The custard is almost lemon meringue-y, with a nice tart flavor that sits nicely on a bed of gingersnaps. And since it's such a snap to make, this is definitely one of those desserts you know you can serve to guests at a moment's notice.

Lemon Custard Tart with a Gingerbread Crust

Lemon Custard Tart with a Gingersnap Crust

2 cups gingersnap crumbs (this was about half a package of cookies for me)
4 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp fresh lemon zest
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp sour cream
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp fresh orange juice

Preheat oven to 350. Combine gingersnap crumbs and melted butter. Press into a well-greased tart pan, or individual tart molds. Press as thinly as possible. Bake in oven for 5-7 minutes until set.
Meanwhile, combine zest and sugar in food processor and process until combined well. Add eggs, butter, and sour cream, and process for 1-2 minutes. Add fresh lemon and orange juices, and pulse a few times until mixed.
Slide oven rack out and fill tart shell(s). Push rack back into oven carefully and bake until center of tarts is gently set, but not firm (should still have some wiggle to it), about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oldies but Goodies

Somehow and some way, I missed a few months' worth of recipes when I was archiving and sorting my recipes into the categories on the side. I didn't realize it until I grabbed 2 artichokes at the grocery store, thinking some stuffed artichokes would be perfect. I went through the appetizer recipes on the side and was shocked that they somehow slipped through the cracks.

And not only did that delicious and easy recipe miss the boat, but so did quite a few others that I had forgotten about! So for those who just started reading 28 Cooks, here are some you may not have seen yet. And for those longtime readers (Hi Mom!), here's a chance to remember some of the past.

Oh, and you'll want to stop back by on Thursday. I've got a lovely little tart in the oven now using up some gingersnaps and fresh lemon that I'm sure you won't want to miss out on!

But for now, enjoy these!

Stuffed Artichokes

Food 007

One of my absolute favorite snacks, Garlic Parmesan Edamame

Garlic Parmesan Edamame

This Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Puff Pastry Braid is a cinch to make and a way to impress guests

Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Puff Pastry Braid

Ooh, Indian Avocado Spinach Dip is sure to be a hit too

Indian Avocado Spinach Dip

And finally, this Thai Coconut Curry Stirfry is simply delicious and a snap to make!

Thai Coconut Curry Stirfry

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mexican Fideo Soup with Pinto Beans

Man, I have been craving beans and soup something fierce. Even though the past 2 days have been lovely and in the 70's, today's cold and rain bring me right back to the reality of Fall and the upcoming Winter.

With the holidays fast approaching, we are hitting full stride in what's been dubbed "Cookbook Season." New authors and old alike are doing their best to get their new books out on shelves for that holiday gift giving. As a blog writer, I usually get my fair share of offers for review copies.

I must admit I was slightly skeptical when I read the title of this cookbook. The publishing company offered to send me a review copy of "1000 Vegan Recipes" and I immediately thought "quantity, not quality," as is the case with a lot of those titles. I've been burned a few times by books titled "One Zillion Greek Recipes" or "4 Million Ways to Make Indian," which are usually just huge paperweights with a few good recipes in them.

Fellow food blogger, Robin Robertson over at Vegan Plant, really got this one right. I was pleasantly surprised when I got a copy of this book and flipped through it. Right off the bat, I found quite a few different recipes I wanted to make. Each category is chock full of great looking recipes, vegan or not! From appetizers to side dishes to main dishes to brunch recipes, this book really is a go-to book for almost every occasion.

I received permission to post 3 separate recipes, and the following is the first I made, thus satisfying my desire for beans and soup. The ingredient list is simple enough and the preparation can be done in minutes, so this is a wonderful filling soup perfect for dinner.

Mexican Fideo Soup with Beans

Check back next week for another great recipe from this very useful cookbook!

Mexican Fideo soup with Pinto Beans
reprinted with permission
Serves 4-6

3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
8 oz fideo, vermicelli, or angel hair pasta, broken into 2" pieces
1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans (I subbed kidneys)
1 (4 oz) can chopped hot or mild green chilies
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
6 cups vegetable broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

In a large soup pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Remove the onion mixture with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil over medium heat, add the noodles, and cook until golden, stirring frequently, 5 to 7 minutes. Be careful not to burn the noodles.

Stir in the tomatoes, beans, chiles, cumin, oregano, broth, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the onion mixture and simmer until the vegetables and noodles are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mango Habanero Jam

This is probably one of my favorite and easiest jam recipes to make. What I love about it is that as long as you can find a good mango and some nice habaneros, you can make some good jam.

What's so surprising about this jam is that it's not as hot as you might think, nor as sweet - it just sort of meets in the middle for a wonderful flavor. This jam is perfect for pairing with a nice sharp cheese or on a piece of toast, and word on the street is that it also makes a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich. It would also be perfect for glazing a ham or pork roast, if you fancy that sort of thing.

Regardless of how you use it, this is a perfect recipe to keep stocked in your pantry and for holiday gift giving!

Mango Habanero Jam

Mango Habanero Jam
Yields 6 (1/2 pt) jars

6-8 whole habaneros
1 c cider vinegar
1 fresh mango, peeled and chopped
1/2 c apricot nectar
1/2 c fresh orange juice
6 c sugar
1 pkt liquid Certo

Blend all habaneros with vinegar, mango, and juices until well pureed. Bring mixture and sugar to boil in a heavy pot. Boil 8 minutes. Add certo and bring to boil again. Pour into 1/2 pt jars and seal*.

*The easiest way to can is this - wash and dry canning jars thoroughly. Place lids and rings in a pot of barely simmering water. Once jelly is ready, fill a jar, leaving about a 1/4" headspace. With tongs, remove lid and ring from water, place on jar, and tighten, although not all the way. Turn jar upside down on a dishtowel. Repeat with remaining jars. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Turn upright and allow to seal. Tighten rings on all jars. If any of the jars don't seal, simply store in the refrigerator once cool. The other jars can be stored in a pantry for 8 months to a year, if it lasts that long.

This recipe is also a part of Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, hosted by Blessed with Grace.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Twice Baked Indian Stuffed Potatoes

It's rainy and dreary and cold outside here on the Eastern seaboard, which is an immediate signal to make something hot and comforting. I am also a few hours post-root canal, so the only things I really want to eat are soft and comforting things.

Potatoes are like the quintessential cold weather food. Not only are there hundreds of different ways to make them, but they are filling and delicious. I love twice baked potatoes, but wanted to use up some ricotta that has been languishing in my fridge for a few days. I also pulled out some mint that was making its way towards the dark side and decided to try doing something with some Indian flavors. The garam masala is perfect for plenty of Indian flavors with not a lot of work. I also threw in some horseradish as a last minute flavor punch, just because I could.

These are tasty and easy, especially if you have a baked potato setting on your microwave, like I do. Even if you roast them in the oven, this recipe is definitely a no fuss, no muss sort of recipe that's perfect for those days you just don't want to put a lot of effort into what you eat.

Twice Baked Indian Stuffed Potatoes

Twice Baked Indian Stuffed Potatoes

2 large potatoes, baked and cooled
1/3 c ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp minced fresh mint
1 tsp horseradish
1/2 tsp salt

In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, garam masala, mint, horseradish, and salt until well-combined. Half potatoes and scoop out most of the potato flesh, leaving a nice 1/4" shell. Add potato flesh to cheese mixture and stir well. Scoop back into potato shells, filling generously. Place in preheated oven and bake 15-20 minutes, until heated throughout. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sweet Heat Hot Sauce

So last week I showed you some of the lovely peppers I was given. Although I want to try them in some different ways, there is nothing I love more than a good hot sauce, so I knew immediately I was trying a new batch.

This is another very hot sauce recipe. I have a very high tolerance for heat (I've been known to eat habaneros on their own), but even I will agree this heat will probably be around a 4 out of 5 on the 28 Cooks' Hot-O-Meter. But ohhh, does it deliver in the flavor department. I added apricot nectar and orange juice to give it some sweetness factor, and threw in some horseradish to kick it up a notch, and combined with the pure hot peppers, you have yourself a hot sauce that is absolutely delicious.

I think it's good enough to eat by itself with tortilla chips, but those more sensitive to heat may want to use sparingly and add to salsas or other sauces. And just a thought - if you have some Chile Heads on your Christmas List, this would be a perfect homemade gift! And be sure to check the recipe files for more hot and spicy condiment recipes!

Sweet Heat Hot Sauce

Sweet Heat Hot Sauce

2 cups chopped hot peppers (I used a variety of all sorts)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup apricot nectar
1 cup orange juice
1 cup cider vinegar
3 tbsp horseradish
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients, except Worcestershire sauce, in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat and allow sauce to simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour, until sauce starts to thicken. Add Worcestershiire and remove from heat. Sauce tastes best if allowed to cool and is refrigerated for a day or two.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Thai Green Tomato Soup

Okay, so let me just tell you how hard it is to find a recipe to use green tomatoes, other than the ubiquitous fried version. Seriously, Google "green tomatoes" and see how many different recipes there are for fried green tomatoes. The reason for my search was that in our last CSA offerings there were the most gorgeous green tomatoes.

Green Tomato

I've actually never had nor cooked with green tomatoes, so I was excited to find something to do with them, other than simply bread and fry them. But after a few attempts at googling and searching through some cookbooks, I was left empty and devoid of any inspiration.

Then this recipe showed up on my radar. I read through the list of ingredients and immediately was struck with some inspiration. And since I have some sort of fascination with buying cans of both red and green curry paste, I knew it would be the perfect addition.

Whoa. This is tasty. It's probably one of the best soup recipes I've made to date. What's unfortunate is how hard soups are to photograph, as this picture doesn't nearly do it justice. The coconut milk adds a lovely flavor base to the soup and the pureed potatoes and green tomatoes give it a great hearty feel, perfect for filling tummies. It's also a perfect way to use up some of those season's end green tomatoes. So go ahead and give this hearty soup a try.

Thai Green Tomato Soup

Thai Green Tomato Soup
Serves 6 to 8

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp cumin seed
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups peeled and diced potatoes
3 cups diced green tomatoes
2 cups vegetable stock
1 (15 oz) can coconut milk
1 1/2 tbsp green curry paste

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add cumin seed and garlic, and saute for another minute or so. Add tomatoes and potatoes, and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add stock and bring soup to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add coconut milk and curry paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Using an immersion blender, blend to a creamy consistency. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

I smell hot sauce a-brewin'!

Part of what excites me about food and cooking is that there is always something new to discover. There's always new ways to pair and prepare foods and there's always a new spin you can put on the simplest of ingredients.

I was recently gifted with a huge basket of hot peppers from one of the most talented pepper growers I know, who also happens to be a fantastic photographer. I look forward to this every year as it gives me a chance to brew up some different hot sauces.

Bounty of Fresh Peppers

I'm not quite sure which way I'm going this year. I have enough peppers to make a few different things, and the possibilities are absolutely exciting to me. (Gee, guess I'm a food dork through and through). I'm thinking I'll remake the Mango Habanero Jam again, which is not as hot or as sweet as you think it would be, but every bit as tasty as it should be. I also want to try my hand at recreating a hot sauce I purchased at some little gourmet store, so I'll be sure to keep you updated with the makings.

But while I kick some ideas around, enjoy some of these previously posted hot sauce recipes. You may want to jot these down for future presents for Chile heads in the upcoming holiday season!

One of my favorite recipes of all time, Habanero Garlic Salsa.

Habanero Garlic Salsa

Another great and spicy hot sauce, the Ultimate 7-Pepper Sauce.

7 Pepper Hot Sauce

And you want to talk about the perfect partner with a nice sharp cheese? You have to try this Hot Pepper and Garlic Jelly. It'll blow your mind.

Pepper Jelly

Monday, October 05, 2009

Indian-spiced Gratin of Spaghetti Squash

One of the things I love about cooking is that there's always something new to discover and try. My parents and I split a CSA box this year (which seriously, if you haven't done yet, please do so for next season - it's so well worth it!) and were recently given a spaghetti squash. Although I've had it a few times, I've never attempted to make it myself.

I did the normal steps of googling for a good recipe, then I flipped through my usual standby cookbooks on what to do with it. I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed at the offerings. Most of the recipes were simply baking it and eating it plain, or substituting it for pasta and topping with marinara. Neither of those ideas sounded good to me, so I kept thinking of what to do with it.

I came across this recipe for a gratin that sounded simple, yet tasty. I kicked around a few variations, but it wasn't until I tasted the most delicious Organic Coconut Curry chocolate at Wegmans today that I knew what it needed. I took a page from the spice blend of my Indian Spiced Peanut Brittle (seriously, very tasty!) and also threw in some fresh cilantro. And whoa! This dish is a great tasty sidedish to serve and a wonderful way to try this delicious seasonal squash. Plus, the recipe is dead simple, and if you use fat-free sour cream and skim mozzarella, it's pretty healthy too!

Indian spiced Gratin of Spaghetti Squash

Indian-spiced Gratin of Spaghetti Squash
Serves 6-8

1 2-3lb spaghetti squash
2 cloves garlic
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coriander seed, fennel seed, mustard seed, white peppercorn, and cumin seed
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

The easiest way to prepare spaghetti squash is to microwave it. Cut squash in half, from stem to blossom end. Scoop out seeds of both halves. Place one half in a microwave-safe baking dish, and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 10-12 minutes until tender. Repeat with remaining half. Using a fork, scrape squash out of shells into a large mixing bowl. Throw away skin.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a mortar and pestle, grind up coriander, fennel, mustard, and cumin seeds, along with white peppercorns. Add to squash mixture with remaining ingredients. Stir well. Place in well-oiled baking dish and bake in oven for 30 minutes, until bubbly. Serve and enjoy!

Enjoy this and other great recipes with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Cream of Mushroom Scallion Soup

Well, I finally caved. I turned the heat on yesterday. I admit, I'm weak when it comes to the cold and waking up to a 63-degree bedroom isn't my idea of a good time. And most of you know that any weather colder than 70's isn't my favorite - I'm a summer baby through and through.

I must admit, however, that I do love the beginning of fall season, as I have the chance to make hearty comforting dishes. I especially love a good soup, so I wanted to make something fairly quick, yet hearty, to enjoy during our most recent cold snap.

I love cream of mushroom soup and I always have. I had some great baby bellas in the fridge and was going to just make a regular old soup. As I was browsing through a few cookbooks, just getting ideas on proportions and seasonings, I came across a Cream of Mushroom Scallion soup in the old standby, The Joy of Cooking. I was immediately intrigued and thought I'd make a few changes. The result is quite tasty. It's got the great earthy base of mushroom, but has a lovely fresh flavor from the scallions. I also threw in just a touch of cream, but overall, this recipe is about as healthy as it gets.

Cream of Mushroom Scallion Soup

Cream of Mushroom Scallion Soup
based loosely from a recipe in The Joy of Cooking
Serves 4-6

1/4 c butter
3 bunches of scallions, cleaned
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp flour
4 c vegetable stock
1/2 c white wine
1 (12 oz) package baby bella mushrooms (or any variety on hand)
1/2 c cream
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Mince cleaned scallions, using both green and white parts. (I just threw mine in the food processor) In a large stockpot, melt butter. Add onions, salt, and pepper. Saute onions over medium high heat for 8-10 minutes, until soft. Do not brown. Stir in flour, saute for 1 minute. Whisk in stock and wine, then bring to a boil. Add mushrooms, lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in cream and nutmeg.
Using an immersion blender, blend soup to desired texture. (I like a bit of the mushroom texture to remain). Serve and enjoy!