Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Drinky Drinks: Gin Fizz and Gin Daisy Fizz

I'm getting ready to go on a trip home to Buffalo this weekend, and I've been cooking up a storm, and enjoying some adult beverages.

Gin Fizz:
1 oz lemon juice (abt 1 lemon)
2 oz gin (I have New Amsterdam in the house because it's a good mixing gin, and affordable)
1 tsp simple syrup

make it in a highball glass (tall glass)
pour the first three ingredients over ice, then top off the glass with seltzer

to make it a daisy fizz, add 1/2 oz grenadine

Easy Braised Eggplant Dinner

eggplant Pictures, Images and Photos

Tonight I made dinner for me and G (my eminently quotable roommate). I'm headed off for vacation tomorrow, so I wanted to cook up as much of my farmshare produce as I could. I had an eggplant that was going to go south, and some green peppers. I really enjoyed the asian style braised eggplant with tofu I made not that long ago, and I figured it would be easy to do an italian version of it.


1 medium eggplant cubed
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 onion chopped
1 green pepper roughly chopped
3 tbsp olive oil divided
2 tbsp butter
8oz can of diced tomatoes with juice
1 tsp italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

heat up 2 tbsp oil and butter in a sauté pan. Sauté the onion, garlic, pepper and eggplant for about 10 minutes. Add the seasoning and diced tomatoes and juice and simmer until eggplant is soft. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over pasta with cheese.

Vanilla Shortbread with Cocoa Nibs

om nom nom indeed
I've had this in my mind for a while. Vanilla shortbread cookies studded with cocoa nibs. Mostly inspired by Taza Chocolate, which is a local chocolate factory here in Somerville, MA that makes a variety of flavors of chocolate in a traditional mexican style using organic and ethically sourced ingredients. You can order from them online, and they also have a factory store that does tours (but no ooompa loompas).

Also, I'm sort of obsessed with vanilla beans now.

So I went to The Joy of Baking site and adapted their shortbread cookie recipe by adding half a cup of chocolate covered cocoa nibs and using the seeds from 1 vanilla bean instead of a teaspoon of vanilla.

Shortbread Cookies:

2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) salt

1 cup (2 sticks) (226 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (60 grams) powdered (confectioners or icing) sugar

seeds from 1 vanilla bean


Shortbreads: In a separate bowl whisk the flour with the salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until smooth (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Gently stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Flatten the dough into a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill the dough for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) with the rack in the middle of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into a 1/4 inch (.6 cm) thick circle. Cut into rounds or other shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter. Place on the prepared baking sheets and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. (This will firm up the dough so the cookies will maintain their shape when baked.) Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until cookies are very lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

to decorate them, I melted some semisweet chocolate and put it in a ziploc baggie. Then I snipped the corner and used it to pipe some shapes.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' September 2010 Challenge: Decorated Sugar Cookies

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

This was a good challenge for me to start with, because it was pretty straightforward. I've made sugar cookies before (usually for Christmas), but this batch turned out a lot better thanks to the tips I got from the challenge. I'm usually too lazy or rushed to chill the dough after I cut out the cookies, but it really did make a difference (you can see the shapes SO much better this way). Also, while I could have probably used a smidge more sugar in my icing, it definitely worked better than my usual gloppy mess, and I was able to do the flooding technique AND the swirly bits. I also used this as a chance to try cooking with a vanilla bean pod, which I've never done before. I like the flavor of it, and I
am using the used pod to make vanilla sugar (I got the idea from Ina Garten. You take the used pods and put them in a container with white sugar and shake it a bit and let it sit. The longer it goes the more vanilla-y it gets)

I will say that, if I'm really going to get serious about baking, I should probably get a scale, as most really good recipes use weights instead of cups.

Sugar Cookies
1 stick + 6 tbsp butter (room temp)
3 cups + 3 tbsp flour
1 cup sugar
1 lg egg (lightly beaten)
1 tsp vanilla extract OR seeds from 1 vanilla bean pod

cream the butter, sugar, and flavorings together (don't overmix. It will add air to the dough which will cause your cookies to spread when baking. See? helpful hints)
Beat in egg til combined
Add sifted flour and mix until dry dough forms.
Roll out dough into small 1/4 inch thick sheets and chill for at least 30 minutes (you want to chill the dough before you cut the shapes, and it's easier to roll it out now while it's soft and THEN chill it. I stacked mine between sheets of tin foil in the freezer for 15 minutes as a cheat, but it worked)
after your dough is chilled, cut out the shapes and chill again for 30 min
Bake at 350 for 8-12 min, until just starting to brown around edges. It helps to have cookies of all the same size on one sheet because the smaller cookies will bake first.

Royal Icing
3 cups powdered sugar
2 lg egg whites
2 tsp lemon juice (approx juice from 1/2 med lemon)
1 tsp almond extract (optional, but i used it)

mix the egg whites, sugar, and flavoring (you are not making them frothy, just mixing them)
add powdered sugar and combine
you want to keep this in airtight containers because it thickens up quickly.

Sept 2010 Daring Bakers Challenge: Decorated Sugar Cookies

Since the theme of the challenge was Fall, I got some owl, pumpkin/apple, and leaf shapes.

I had my roommate G, and my friends Krysta and Lee help me with the decorating.
To flood a cookie you outline it with the royal icing and then pipe some more inside the outline and use a toothpick or knifes edge to spread it out evenly.

You can make a cool spider web pattern by flooding an area, then imediately piping a spiral of a contrasting color on top. then drag a knife tip or toothpick from the center of the spiral out several times.

Lee's Fall Cookies
Lee's Cookies

Krysta's Fall Cookies
Krysta's Cookies

Geoffrey's Fall Cookies
Geoffrey's Cookies

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Roasted Tomato Pesto

Roasted Tomato Pesto
Originally uploaded by kel h
I had some tomatoes in my CSA share that were going to go bad, so I thought I would make this. It came out pretty tasty. It's a combo of two recipes. Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce from Earthbound Farms and Tomato Basil Pesto from Smitten Kitchen

4 large tomatoes cut into quarters
1 large sweet onions cut into wedges
8 cloves garlic
1 bunch basil
1/2-1 cup toasted almond slivers
1 tbsp tomato paste
olive oil


Preheat the oven to 475
pour tomatoes, onions and garlic into roasting pan and coat with olive oil
season with salt and pepper
Roast in oven for 10 min
reduce temp to 425 and continue roasting for 40-50 min
let cool and remove tomato skins

toast almond slivers in pan
grind in food processor for a few pulses
add tomatoes, onions and garlic along with leaves from 1 bunch basil and tomato paste. Run until it becomes a paste and drizzle olive oil to desired consistency. Season to taste.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Oatmeal Pancakes

Oatmeal Pancakes
Originally uploaded by kel h
adapted from AllRecipes


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
zest of 1/2 orange
1 egg beaten

Heat the buttermilk in the microwave for 30 sec. Pour the oatmeal into the warmed buttermilk and let it sit for a minute. Combine all of the ingredients and then cook on a griddle. Makes four good sized pancakes. I ate all four, but they're pretty hearty so you could probably feed two with this recipe.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic and Apple Onion Butternut Squash Gratin

So, I went to see The Town yesterday with some friends, and before the movie I invited them over for dinner. I had a whole roasting chicken in the freezer from Trader Joe's, so I decided to make Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic from Ina Garten's recipe. For sides we had Butternut Squash, Apple, and Onion Gratain and Mixed Green Salad.

So, it didn't go exactly like that. I DID have to take the chicken apart, which I've never done before. It wasn't to bad, really. I mean, I'm sure I could have done it and gotten a little more meat off the chicken and made it look more professional, but it really was pulling the limbs and cutting where they meet the bird, and then cutting the breast off the breastbone.

The fact that with this recipe it simmers in sauce for half an hour after searing the surface makes the meat really tender, and the sauce was really tasty. I used pre-peeled garlic, but I still blanched them since comments on the website indicate that it was helpful not only in the peeling process, but started getting the garlic soft.

3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves
2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside.

Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don't want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.

The Butternut Squash, Apple, and Onion Gratain is something I have made in the past. I love making it with tart apples, and using thyme in the seasoning.


Cooking spray
1/2 cup flour divided
2 teaspoon salt divided
2 pinch nutmeg divided
1 tsp dried thyme divided
1 butternut squash - peeled, seeded and sliced
4 apples - peeled, cored and sliced
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 cup veggie stock
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9- x 11-inch glass baking pan with cooking spray.
Place half of the flour, salt, nutmeg and thyme into a large plastic bag. Add half the squash, apples, and onions; shake until lightly dusted.
In glass dish, layer the first 1/2 of squash, apples, and sweet onion. Pour 1/2 cup stock over the top, then sprinkle 1/2 of cheese. Repeat step 2 with remaining veggies and add to glass dish. Pour remaining stock over the top, and cover with foil.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.
Take out and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Return, uncovered, to oven; bake for another 5 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

By the way, The Town was a nice, tight little heist movie that was obviously made by someone from the Boston area who knows and loves the town. Little details like the fact that you could see the Logan Airport tower through the window of Jon Hamm's characters office were really nice, and the car chase was EXCELLENT, especially the ending. Definitely worth seeing on the BIG screen

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Callaloo Butternut Stew

Callaloo Butternut Stew
Originally uploaded by kel h
This is based on a recipe from the food network. Callaloo is a green from the carribean, and is sort of a hearty spinach.

The original recipe calls for salt pork which I omitted being a veggie and all, and I subbed butternut squash that I got in my CSA for the pumpkin in the original

2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp butter
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
1 bunch Callaloo cut into strips
kernels from 1 ear corn
1 small butternut squash peeled and cubed
1 can coconut milk
1/2 tsp soy sauce 1/2 tsp thyme
cyanne pepper, salt, and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and butter
sautee onion and garlic until translucent and season
add butternut squash, callaloo,corn and coconut milk
bring to boil and simmer for 10 min or until squash softens
add soy sauce and season

I also tossed frozen shrimp in with 5 min to go to add protein.

Serve over rice or with cornbread

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Radiant Bok Choi

Radiant Bok Choi
Originally uploaded by kel h
One of the best parts of having a CSA Farmshare is getting a variety of different veggies and learning different ways of cooking them. I have this great cookbook Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka, which is a must have if you've got a farmshare. Not only does it have a bunch of great recipes for every vegetable you can imagine and then some, but it also has a great index with general buying and preparation information on all sorts of veggies. This recipe is from that cookbook

1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp tumeric
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 lbs bok choi (halved lenthwise)
1 can coconut milk (add water until = 3c liquid)
1 tbsp lime juice

Heat the oil on low and add the tumeric and salt. cook for 1 min

Add bok choi in one layer in the pan

pour the liquid over the bok choi and bring to boil for medium heat and cook covered for 6 minutes

turn bok choi over and cook another 6 minutes

add lime juice and stir

My new favorite cooking word: Braised

I've gotten a bunch of eggplant from my CSA Farmshare, and I've tried a few different ways of cooking it. I've roasted it, I've fried it, and I've grilled it. But THIS is possibly my favorite way of preparing it.

Braising means to cook something first in fat, and then in liquid. I've made some great Braised Collard Greens, but I think it works especially well in eggplant. The one thing you have to keep an eye on with eggplant is using TOO MUCH oil, because eggplant can be like a sponge and it can get greasy if you're not careful.

I used dried mushrooms and used the excess liquid left from reconstituting them for the broth. I also cut the kernels from an ear of corn and tossed that in with the tofu to add some sweetness

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

A more-or-less traditional Sichuan preparation, creamy and delicious with soft-cooked eggplant, made crisp by the addition of sautéed shiitakes. Substitute green beans for the eggplant if you like.

1 /4cup peanut oil or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

1 cup sliced shiitake caps (reserve stems for stock or discard)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger (optional)

11/2 pounds eggplant, trimmed, cut into 11/2-inch chunks

1 tablespoon Chile Paste (optional)

1 /2 cup vegetable stock or water

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 pound tofu, blotted dry and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil for garnish (optional)

Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

2 tablespoons minced scallion for garnish (optional)

1. Put half the oil in a deep skillet or shallow saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shiitakes and some salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. Add the remaining oil and, a few seconds later, the garlic and the ginger if you’re using it. As soon as it sizzles, add the eggplant. Cook, stirring every minute or so, until the eggplant browns, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the chile paste if you’re using it, along with the stock. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan if necessary to release any stuck bits of eggplant. Cook until the eggplant is really tender, 10 to 15 minutes more, adding a little more liquid if necessary (unlikely, but not impossible).

3. Stir in the soy sauce and tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tofu is heated through, about 5 minutes; stir in the reserved shiitakes and turn off the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then garnish as you like and serve.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

whats in the box 9/8/10

whats in the box 9/8/10
Originally uploaded by kel h
Contents of this weeks Enterprise Farms CSA Box
red pepper
flat leaf parsley
swiss chard
red onions

I'm makin' me some copper pennies.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Kale and Chickpea Stew

Kale and Chickpea Stew
Originally uploaded by kel h
this is based on a recipe for Lentil and Kale Stew from Jiko....The Cooking Place in my Delicious Disney cookbook. I made this with the Kale from my CSA farmshare, and grape tomatoes and mirepoix I have from Trader Joes. I always seem to have red potatoes around.

2 cups chickpeas (I used dried this time. the original recipe calls for lentils)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 cup chopped onion
2 stalks celery chopped
2 carrots peeled and chopped
(In my case I had a container of prepared mirepoix from trader joes I used instead)
2 garlic cloves grated1 bunch kale washed and thinly sliced
1/2 pint grape tomatoes halved
3 red potatoes cubed
32 oz chicken stock (in this case fake chicken stock made from "Better Than Boullion", which I love)
1 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp ground black pepper
Olive Oil and Grated Parmesan for garnish


Heat olive oil with bay leaf, carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Add Kale and simmer for 5 min
Add tomatoes and potatoes
Add cooked chickpeas, stock, and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 min
Add parsley and pepper. Season to taste.
Top with cheese and olive oil if desired

It's hearty and tasty. The restaurant this recipe is taken from does african cooking as part of the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Probably the best vegetarian food in all of Disney World.

This is a picture of my dad, sister and brother in law at Animal Kingdom for my sisters birthday.

The cookbook claims it tastes better the next day. We shall see :P

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lemon, Ginger and Honey Buttermilk Ice Cream

My dad and sister come and visit me in Boston a couple times a year, and I am always looking for something fun to do with them. One year we went to Northampton, and I had a Honey Ginger Lemonade in a little coffee shop that was just fantastic. I wanted to try to recreate that flavor, and came across a recipe for creamy lemon popsicles from Whipped, and decided to modify it.

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 pinch salt
1 2/3 cup buttermilk

whisk everything together except the buttermilk. Once the sugar dissolves, add the buttermilk and whisk. Refrigerate for an hour before putting in the ice cream maker. Follow your ice cream maker's instructions.

The texture is kind of like ice milk. I think next time I might try to use yogurt or cream along with the buttermilk to make it smoother. The flavor is good, but you might like it a bit sweeter. It's pretty lemony.

These also make good popsicles

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What's in the Box: Sept 1, 2010

I love putting out my empty CSA box in the morning, and getting a full one in the afternoon. It's like the tooth fairy with local organic produce :)

Here are the contents of this weeks CSA share:
Heirloom Tomatoes (om nom nom)
Bok Choi
Green Pepper (I can't seem to eat these fast enough)
and another adorable baby Watermelon

I can't wait to make something fun with the kale, bok choi, and eggplant. And those tomatoes look pretty tasty.