Saturday, April 30, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookie Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

I'm not sure which came into my head first, the peanut butter cookies or the chocolate ice cream. But the two ideas met there and became this dessert I made for Pritchard Parker.  I took the sandwiches a step further by rolling the edges in chopped, toasted peanuts.

One of my favorite peanut butter cookie recipes is from the blog, Simply Recipes. Elise's blog was the first food blog I ever encountered. In fact Elise's blog first introduced me to the concept of blogging.  That was several years ago, and I still visit her blog often. She has hundreds of recipes, very well organized with a fantastic index, and every one I have tried was delicious. I like her blog because it doesn't overwhelm with photographs or gimmicks.   I sound like a paid sponsor, but trust me, Elise doesn't know me from Adam's house cat. 

This recipe calls for half granulated sugar and half brown sugar, which is what I always use. I discovered I was out of brown sugar and I'm not sure how that happened. I'm usually careful to keep my pantry supplies replenished. But while I was digging around, I rediscovered a box of turbinado sugar and decided to use it.  The cookies turned out great! We loved the texture of them and I'm already planning to bake another batch.

Peanut Butter Cookies
(adapted from Simply Recipes)
1 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Cream the butter for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and cream for 2 more minutes.  Mix in the peanut butter and egg.  Mix together the dry ingredients; stir into the peanut butter mixture.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Shape dough intoo 1 1/4 inch balls.  Place about 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Flatten in crisscross pattern with a fork.  Bake until light brown, 9 to 10 minutes.  Cool on baking sheets for a minute, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fish Tacos with Pineapple Mango Salsa

Because I love to cook so much (plus I may be mildly obsessed with knowing exactly what is in the food we eat, as well as sanitary conditions) we rarely eat out.  But every once in a while, I relax and it is very nice to eat out--to not cook or wash dishes.

There is a Mexican restaurant, right down the street, (with an excellent sanitation rating) we always enjoy. It is not the usual style of Tex-Mex featured in most of the Mexican eateries in our area. I don't really know how to describe it, but it seems fresher and their menu features a lot of fish and seafood.

Pritchard Parker loves their fish tacos and almost always orders them. They dress the tacos with a green sauce he just adores. He always wants me to taste it, and I think it is a chimichurri sauce. Because I had both fresh pineapple and mango on hand, I made a salsa with them. But I do have more talapia in the freezer, so will be experimenting with the green sauce next time.

Fish Tacos
1 pound white fish such as talapia
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 cup ginger ale
Extra flour for dusting fish
Pineapple Mango Salsa

Cut fish filets into approximately 2 ounce pieces and dry with paper towels.

Make the batter by whisking together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Mix together the egg and ginger ale, then stir into the dry mixture. 

Heat about 1/2 inch oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Preheat the over to 200 degrees. When the oil is hot, briefly fry the tortillas, but don't get them too brown. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in the oven.

Dip the fish pieces into flour then into the batter. Fry in the hot oil until golden brown on each side.

Pineapple Mango Salsa
1/2 of a fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 -2 fresh jalapenos, minced
Juice of 2 limes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. chili powder
Salt to taste
Honey, optional, if your fruit is too tart

Combine the pineapple, mango, onion, bell pepper, and jalapenos. Add the lime juice, olive oil, and chili powder. Stir well to mix together. Taste and add salt and/or honey, to taste.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sesame Chicken

I love the flavor of sesame seeds. It is amazing how much flavor those tiny seeds have, especially when they are toasted. When I was a girl, I was always so happy when Mama sprinkled them on her homemade breads. I don't know why I never told her that; I'm sure she would have happily used them more often. . .

This is a simple Sesame Chicken recipe. There are more complex ways to prepare this dish which surely add more depth of flavor. But for a simple weeknight supper, you really can't miss with this one. 

Sesame Chicken
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, patted dry and cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
2  cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, plus more for serving

To toast sesame seeds, place them in a small, dry skillet (preferably stainless) and roast slowly over low heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the seeds turn golden brown, give off a nutty fragrance, and begin to pop, about 20 minutes.

In a large skillet,  brown the chicken pieces in a little oil over medium high heat.

While the seeds toast and the chicken browns, make the sauce. Combine the honey, soy sauce, water, cornstarch, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and teriyaki sauce. 

When the chicken is brown, pour over the sauce and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. of the toasted sesame seeds. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the chicken begins to absorb the sauce.

Serve with rice and garnish with additional toasted sesame seeds

For additional information about sesame seeds, see Gomasio

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Hot Brown

The Hot Brown Sandwich is an open face turkey sandwich with tomatoes, mornay sauce, and crispy bacon, originally created by Chef Fred Schmidt in the 1920's, to serve late night guests of the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. 

The original recipe calls for one quart of heavy cream and 14 ounces of turkey for 2 sandwiches! While I'm sure it is quite delicious, I'd be lucky to make it through half of one of those.  For my lighter version, which is still plenty rich and satisfying, I used whole milk for the sauce, and about 3 ounces of turkey per sandwich.

When I make these in the summer, I love to use thick slices of garden ripened tomatoes. For now, I used grocery store Roma tomatoes, which I cut in half, lengthwise, drizzled with a little olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, then broiled until beginning to brown.  This really helps bring out the tomato flavor.

And finally, I used whole wheat bread rather than the white bread called for in the original recipe.

Hot Browns
(4 sandwiches)
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
3 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
12 oz. sliced, roasted turkey breast
4 slices whole wheat toast
4 broiled Roma tomatoes
8 slices crispy bacon

In a 2 quart, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Cook for a couple minutes, then slowly whisk in the milk. Cook and stir until the sauce starts to boil.  Remove from heat and stir in the salt, pepper, and cheese, blending until smooth.

Place a slice of toast in an oven proof dish. Top with turkey slices, then tomatoes, then spoon over some of the cheese sauce. Continue making all the sandwiches the same way. Place the sandwiches under the broiler until the cheese sauce begins to bubble and brown. Criss-cross 2 slices of bacon over each sandwich and serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Egg Salad

I am suspicious of some foods unless I make them myself. Egg Salad is one of them. I never even ate egg salad at all until a few years ago. And it is was not a favorite with Pritchard Parker either.

I have seen little egg salad finger sandwiches served at fancy events; bridesmaid luncheons, receptions, socials, and teas, all my life. But boiled eggs mashed together with mayonnaise into a yellow paste, then spread on fluffy white sandwich bread with the crusts cut off, never appealed to me. Even when cut into cute little triangles and stacked on silver trays. 

Then I had leftover Easter Eggs and decided to try egg salad as a way to use them. I made it very simply, with minimal mayo and no mustard (even though I do love mustard and have at least 5 varieties in my kitchen right now) plus a couple of other touches.  It was not bad. Although "not bad" is not a goal in my cooking, I felt less prejudiced against egg salad. 

And now I can say I have experimented with egg salad a few times.  And I have seen many recipes for it. There are as many ways to make it as there are cooks' imaginations. I've seen it made with bacon and cheese, which seems like a pretty natural combination with eggs. Alice makes hers with mashed ripe avocado rather than mayonnaise.

A couple of days ago, Pritchard Parker came home with a jar of Boar's Head Sweet Pickle Chips with Horseradish. I could. not. stop. eating. those pickles. They were delicious!  Because I had already been thinking about Easter Eggs, I decided to make an egg salad with those pickles. We loved it.

Easter Egg Salad
6 hard boiled eggs, coarsely diced
1 Tbsp. finely chopped sweet onion
3 Tbsp. sweet pickles, chopped
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Gently combine ingredients. Chill thoroughly before serving. 

Serve on whole wheat toast with extra pickle slice.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fresh Fruit, Granola and Yogurt Parfaits

I have already said that Baby loves the movie, Shrek. Baby loves Shrek. I really can't emphasize enough, how baby loves Shrek. Some days we watch Shrek in a continuous loop all day long. 

But don't get the idea that Baby is a couch-potato. She actually stays quite busy while Shrek is playing--running her popcorn popper, scattering every toy from her toy box, taking out every one of her books to read, going through my stack of recycling and scattering it about, drinking from the dog bowl, climbing on things and scaring me, bathing her stuffed animals in the toilet. You get the idea.

When she hears one of her favorite parts of the movie, she runs to the tv to watch it. Some scenes make her laugh. Some make her dance.  Or she may want to sit in my lap and rock.

My own favorite scene is the one where Donkey is following (and irritating) Shrek, who is on a quest to rescue a princess from a tower guarded by a fire breathing dragon. Shrek is an ogre and is trying to explain to Donkey that Ogres are like onions--they have layers.

Donkey says, You know, not everybody likes onions. Cake!  Everybody loves cakes. Cakes have layers. Shrek shouts,  I don't care what everybody likes. Ogres are not like cakes.

Donkey persists by saying, You know what else everybody likes? Parfaits. Have you ever met a person, you say, "Let's get some parfait," they say, "No, I don't like no parfait"? Parfaits are delicious. Parfaits may be the most delicious thing on the whole damn planet. Do you have a tissue or something? I'm making a mess. Just the word parfait makes me start slobbering.

Fresh Fruit, Granola and Yogurt Parfaits
2 cups fresh fruit
2 cups granola
2 cups vanilla yogurt

Line up 3 or 4 glasses. Put 2 tablespoons of yogurt in each one. Top with 2 tablespoons of granola, then top that with a couple tablespoons of yogurt. Continue layering in the same order until all the ingredients are used.

These parfaits can be a healthful and satisfying breakfast or an elegant dessert.

Shared with Sweets for a Saturday #13 at the blog, Sweet as Sugar Cookies

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chili Cheese Nachos

Spring has some pretty fickle weather. Last week, here in the mountains, it snowed and I made a pot of chili. Today should reach a record breaking 82 degrees.  And everything between. I always have trouble deciding what to cook when the weather is changing--daily! Hourly! 

Saturday night, I decided to make Nachos. Every Saturday used to be Nacho Night and I would joke about writing a book titled, "1001 Nacho Nights" because of all the different ways I made them. Last summer, I even made Cold Nachos

There are no rules to making nachos. As long as you have tortilla chips and cheese, feel free to call your dish nachos.

For this version, I used crispy yellow corn tortilla chips which I scattered on a platter. I reheated my leftover chili and poured that over the chips.  I made a basic cheese sauce using Vermont extra sharp white cheddar and poured that over. Then I topped the nachos with finely diced red onion and a generous sprinkling of pickled jalapeno peppers. 

Friday, April 8, 2011


Last week, for my first Curry-Palooza, I made Aloo Gobi. Here is the bread I made to serve along with it.
Naan is a lightly leavened flatbread traditionally baked in a tandoor oven. This is another Madhur Jaffrey recipe which has been simplified for home kitchens. It is cooked on top of the stove and under the broiler. The bread sits inert and flat during its skillet cooking but puffs dramatically on being placed under the broiler. The process has entertainment value, both for the cook and dinner companions, so invite others into the kitchen to watch. 

(From the February/March 1993 Ed. of Herb Companion Magazine)
3 3/4 cups unbleached white flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
About 1 3/4 cups plain yogurt
Soft unsalted butter

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Slowly add as much yogurt as you need to gather the flour together and make a soft, resilient dough. Knead for about 10 minutes and form a ball. Put the ball in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Set aside in a warm place for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Knead the dough again and divide into nine equal parts. Keep them covered.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium how heat and preheat the broiler.

On a lightly floured surface, flatten one of the dough balls and then roll it out until you have a round that is about 1/8 inch thick. When the skillet is hot, place the naan onto the heated surface. Let it cook slowly for about 4 to 5 minutes. Now put the skillet under the broiler for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until the puffing-up process is complete and there are a few reddish spots on the naan. Remove the naan with a spatula and brush with softened butter. Make all the naans this way, keeping them stacked and covered with a clean dish towel. Serve hot.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

White Rabbit Salad

Here is a flexible fresh fruit salad which is adaptable to all the seasons. The addition of cottage cheese and nuts adds protein, making this a perfect light lunch. Because of the sweetness of the fruit, this salad can easily stand in for dessert. Or, of course, it can be served as a side salad.

The recipe is from the original Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen.

The book was written and published in the 1970's when the vegetarian and natural foods movement was just gaining a foot hold in mainstream society. These "hippies" were still considered counter-culture, though they are now respected and successful business people and grandparents.

The Moosewood Cookbook has been revised over the years, but my copy is the original. I have made and enjoyed many of these delicious recipes. I have always loved the simplicity of the book with its hand lettered and illustrated recipes.

And I can't give the recipe for White Rabbit Salad without a nod to the inference of the popular song at that  time, titled, White Rabbit, written and performed by Grace Slick with the psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane.

For my salad, this time, I used an apple, a pear, a navel orange cut into sections, a mango, a kiwi, golden raisins, toasted pecans and toasted sesame seeds along with the cottage cheese, lemon juice, and honey.

I am sharing this recipe with Cookbook Sundays at Melynda's blog, Mom's Sunday Cafe

Shared with Sweets for a Saturday #12 at the blog, Sweet as Sugar Cookies

Friday, April 1, 2011

Aloo Gobi (Potatoes and Cauliflower)

Curry-Palooza #1

More than 20 years ago, I was introduced to Indian food at a small restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I fell in love! I have sought out this cuisine ever since. From time to time, I have attempted preparing my own curry dishes at home, but without great success.  The food would taste "good" but not authentic. Then I would become discouraged and decide to leave it in the hands of the experts. 

This cuisine is no "30 Minute Meals" and you cannot add a can of chicken stock to mimic "cooked all day" flavor. Much care is taken with these curries, toasting spices and building layers of flavor.  And that is what was discouraging. After spending several hours in the kitchen, the dish didn't taste right and I didn't know what to do to correct it. 

Several months ago, I developed a friendship with a fellow blogger, Grapefruit, who has much more experience with cooking curries than I do. She has guided me, answered questions for me, and most importantly, encouraged me. After many discussions with her I began realizing part of my trouble was my shyness and lack of confidence with the cuisine.

Grapefruit and I decided to start a blog project. We are going to post a different curry on the first Friday of each month. We are calling the project, Curry-Palooza, and hope other bloggers interested in these delicious dishes will join us.  I chose the first recipe and Grapefruit will choose the next. As others join us, they will choose the recipes in the order they join. If you want to cook along with us, and I hope you do, contact Grapefruit at Needful Things, or me. 

My Aloo Gobi turned out great. I had fun cooking it and my husband and I both loved eating it.

Aloo Gobi (Potatoes and Cauliflower)
(from the book, Flavors of India by Madhur Jaffrey)
1 large cauliflower
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled
8 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 medium onions, finely chopped
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into very fine slices, the into very fine slivers
2 medium tomatoes, grated or very finely chopped
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 - 1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. ground roasted cumin seeds

Break the cauliflower into medium-sized florets. Cut the potatoes into halves and then cut each half lengthways into roughly 3 pieces to get chunky chips.

Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the potatoes and fry them until they are medium-brown and just barely cooked through.   Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Put the florets into the same oil and fry until golden and just barely cooked through.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Remove all but 3 Tbsp. of the oil from the wok.  Put in the onions and stir until they are light brown. Put in the ginger and continue to stir and fry until the onions are medium-brown.  Add the tomatoes and keep frying until they turn soft and darker and the oil seems to separate from the sauce.  Add the cayenne pepper, turmeric, coriander and salt.  Stir and fry for a minute.  Put in the potatoes and florets.  Stir to mix gently.  Sprinkle a tablespoon of water over the vegetables.  Cover. Turn the heat to low and cook gently for 3 - 5 minutes. Uncover. Add the garam masala and ground roasted cumin seeds. Stir gently to mix and turn off heat.

Serve with chapati, parathas, or naan and a yoghurt relish (raita).