Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chicken Avocado BLT Sandwich

We went for a picnic today, so I prepared a huge and tasty sandwich. We got to listen to classical music, LittleGrouch had a blast running around and blowing bubbles for and to everyone. Just a great summer day.

P.S. I recently joined "Your Best Recipe", organized by Nancy over at Spicie Foodie. It's a compilation of food bloggers' best recipes from the previous month. Everyone is welcome to join.

New Event: "Cook Around the Globe" August 2011

I have recently joined some food blogger events like The Daring Kitchen, The Secret Recipe Club, and Your Best Recipe. These events are a lot of fun. I like trying recipes from different countries and regions, so I came up with a new event, which I am hereby introducing.

Welcome to "Cook Around the Globe"!

This is a fun monthly event where we learn about the character of different cuisines around the globe simply by cooking dishes. Each month, I will choose a country or a group of countries. Each participant prepares one (or more) dishes from these countries. On the 1st day of the following month, you can post a link to your dish on my blog. The dish can be anything: drink, appetizer, main dish, pastry, etc. Depending on the number of participants, we will get a great variety of dishes from a certain region of the world. For each chosen region, I will also try to post some links  where to find recipes.

(Registration is not necessary for this event. Simply post your link on my blog.)

August is the last month of summer here, so I thought we celebrate this warm, fun, sunny season by preparing a caribbean dish (see the following for specifics).

August 2011 "Cook Around the Globe":
Bermuda & the Caribbean "North" (Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico)
(You will be able to post the link to your recipe on September 1.)
Feel free to contact me with any questions. You are welcome to leave a comment if you are interested in this event. It would be nice to get an idea of how many people would like to participate. To grab a button or picture for your blog, click here.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Potato Tuna Salad

Today's dinner was - to my utter surprise - a huge success. Let me explain: HubbyGrouch - I assume like generations of former American public school students - has almost a physical reaction when I say the words "potato salad". This strong aversion, so I understand, is due to the mayonnaise loaded gooey tasteless "something" that's referred to as "potato salad" in school cafeterias nationwide. I do not have any personal experience with this, fortunately. I am used to homemade family-recipe potato salad which is pretty great. (And I love potatoes - I mentioned that a few times.) HubbyGrouch, on the other hand, is not very keen on potatoes anyway; except for raclette and potato gratin. Well, if you look at this week's meal plan, you will find a Colombian dish on it. So, I thought I was entitled to a potato dish, to satisfy my craving for home-style food as well. I almost said that when, with a slightly guilty conscience, I put the plate of potato salad in front of HubbyGrouch. I was a little surprised not to hear any mumbled complaints, but I left it at that. Halfway through the meal, I finally plucked up the courage to ask HubbyGrouch's opinion about the potatoes. Guess what? I was completely baffled when he exclaimed that this was the best potato salad he'd ever had and in fact he really LIKED the dish. I immediately (and secretly) resolved to make this dish once a week for the rest of the, just kidding, HubbyGrouch.

Meal Plan for July 30 - August 5, 2011

I recently joined a few food blogger events (The Daring Kitchen, The Secret Recipe Club, Your Best Recipe). I think those events are a lot of fun and a good opportunity to connect with other food bloggers. I recently came up with my own idea for an event. I am hereby introducing "Cook Around the Globe" - the food blogger event where we learn about international cuisines simply by preparing dishes from different parts of the world. There will be a different topic each month. If you are interested, check out this link for more information.

And now, here is my meal plan for this week:

Monday: Zucchini Salad

Tuesday: Bistec a la Criolla (Creole Beefsteak)

Wednesday: Avocado Salad with Peaches (adapted from: Bon Appetit)

Thursday: Porc Chops and Creamy Yellow Wax Beans

Friday: Catfish Po'Boys with Pickle Remoulade (adapted from: Food & Wine)

Go to Menu Plan Monday to check out lots of other meal plans and ideas for this week's dinners.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Grilled Salmon with Chive Sauce

This recipe is from Katie over at Thyme for Cooking. It's a nice, quick & easy summer recipe. I really liked the spice combination for the salmon.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cherry Crumble Cake

Tart cherries are usually only available for a short time (at least here where I live), so I have to make the best of it. When I saw this recipe, I just had to try it. I made a similar cake with apples last year, and it was great (though/because loaded with butter). I can imagine that this cake would also be great with peaches, apricots, pears, plums.... The original recipe called for ground almonds but as I didn't have any at home, I used ground walnuts instead. You can probably use any kind of ground nut, depending on what you like and which fruits you are using for the cake. Most of this cake and the other one I recently made will go straight to the freezer. HubbyGrouch and I like to have some fruity cake snacks/desserts available; especially during the long winter.

Salmorejo (Cold Tomato Soup from Spain)

I love Gazpacho, so when I found this recipe for another tomato-based cold soup, I just had to try it. It turned out great. The recipe is from Bon Appetit. As usual, I made my adjustments and changes. The main changes are as follows. I used fresh and canned tomatoes instead of just fresh ones (just because I didn't have enough). I didn't have almond meal at home, so I used hazelnut meal instead. I didn't really taste the nuts though, so maybe it doesn't matter, unless you have a super-fine palate of course. To the egg and prosciutto toppings I added some cheese and freshly ground black pepper. I think those toppings could be really nice on a warm tomato soup in winter. I'll try to keep that in mind for the colder seasons.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fraisier - A Daring Bakers Challenge

This was my first Daring Bakers Challenge. When I found out the challenge was to prepare a Fraisier, I was really excited. I had never made one and they look so yummy and appealing on pictures. I did go through the trouble of preparing the batter and cake, the cream filling, and cutting the fruit. I left out the sugar syrup from the original recipe because a) The thought of drenching the cake part in syrup and making it mushy wasn't very appealing, and b) the cake and cream filling were already sweet enough. Well, finally, after a whole day of work, the Fraisiers were done. I took a bite and.... I was disappointed. The taste (there wasn't much taste to begin with) was rather mediocre, and the dough layer was way too thick for my taste. I prepared the amount of dough given in the recipe (which stated the dough was for an 8-inch form) was just way too much. I didn't even use it all. I would probably have been enough for 2 8-inch cakes. (Instead of 1 8-inch cake, I prepared 4  4-inch cakes.) Preparing a Fraisier can be an interesting and artistic project, but I thought it was not worth my time. I don't think I would do it again. I love to eat cakes that have lots of fruit, I have lots of recipes for them. Taking on those recipes will be a much better use of my time.

Kalbi - Korean-Style Short Ribs

We've recently had this dish in a Korean restaurant in Queens. The taste was great, so I thought I'd try it at home. It is a bit awkward to eat with all the pieces of bone and the fat. So I went to the local Korean food store to buy the meat. It was rather expensive but I thought why not, just this once. I also got the pre-made BBQ sauce for Kalbi. All in all, it's a pretty simple dish to prepare. You can of course make your own marinade, for example using this recipe from Bon Appetit.

About today's dinner, HubbyGrouch and I both thought that the taste was great but the meat had too much fat and too many bones. We'll try the marinade (my own next time) again on a different (thin) cut of meat.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Zucchini-Potato-Pancakes with Ricotta

I love any kind of "latkes". Mostly the traditional ones with potatoes, but I also make them with different vegetables. We usually had potato pancakes with apple sauce. Now, however, I prefer the savory version with sour cream. Sometimes I add some ham to the batter or pour the potato mix over some bacon in the skillet. Today's recipe is from Food & Wine magazine ("Zucchini-Ricotta Fritters"). As usual, I did not follow the recipe to the letter but made some changes. Potatoes were not part of the original recipe. I added them to make it a full meal. I increased the garlic a little as well as the ricotta, and I added Italian seasoning to the mix. Lastly, I used only a little bit of oil for frying instead of a 1/4 inch deep. I loved the outcome. Even HubbyGrouch, who is not a particular fan of latkes, said they were good. Even LittleGrouch ate a whole one.

1 russet potato (about 450 g / 1 lb), peeled and finely shredded
2 medium zucchini (about 450 g / 1 lb), coarsely shredded
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 of a medium onion, shredded
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
salt and black pepper
100 g (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour
olive oil
sour cream

Mix together zucchini, potatoes, garlic, onion, ricotta, eggs, lemon zest, Italian seasoning, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and flour. Adjust taste with salt and pepper. Heat about 1 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. For each pancake, drop 2 tbsp of batter into the skillet and flatten into a 3-inch circle. Cook for about 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Serve pancakes with sour cream.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wholewheat Cherry Oatmeal Cake

I like to bake and eat cakes that have lots of fruit in them. This weekend, tart cherries had finally arrived in the supermarket, so I grabbed enough for 2 cakes. I have made this cake before and I really like the oatmeal flavor. You can prepare this cake with sweet cherries if you don't like the tart ones. As an alternative to sprinkling the cake with old fashioned oats, you can use 2 tbsp oats plus 50 g grated coconut. (That's the original recipe but I'm not crazy about cococnut.)

1 kg (tart) cherries
300 g soft unsalted butter or margarine
200 g sugar, plus 50 g for sprinkling
1 tbsp vanilla sugar or 1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
grated zest of 1 lemon
250 g instant oatmeal
200 g wholewheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 tsp rum (or rum extract)
4-5 tbsp old fashioned oats

Pit the cherries, let drain in a strainer. Preheat oven to 400F. Whisk together butter and 200 g sugar until creamy. Mix in eggs, lemon zest, and rum. Mix oatmeal, flour, and baking powder. Mix into egg-butter mixture. Line a large rimmed baking sheet (e.g. 11" x 17" or 12" x 15.5") with parchment paper or grease with butter. Spread batter onto baking sheet. Distribute cherries on top of batter. Sprinkle with remaining sugar and oats. Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool, then cut into about 20 pieces. Serve with whipped cream.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pasta Salad with Chicken and Tapenade Dressing

I prepared today's intended lunch salad last night as we had intended to go to Tanglewood (in the Berkshires), the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. We go every year for one of the Sunday afternoon concerts. We take a picnic, the LittleGrouch runs around the lawn, they have some kids crafts, and we just enjoy an afternoon outside. However, this morning it had rained a little over night and the sky was cloudy and didn't look very promising. So we changed our plans to having our picnic in park closer by. While I was getting everything ready, it started raining again. Picnic cancelled? Well, we ended up having a picnic in the playroom and LittleGrouch was very excited when we laid out the blanket and set up the food. We'll have the outdoor picnic another weekend and are hoping for better weather next Sunday.

I have prepared this dish before. You can find the recipe here. This time, though, I didn't have Tapenade at home, so I added 10-12 sliced black olives, 2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar, and 3-4 tbsp olive oil.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chilled Guacamole-Style Soup with Toppings

I have seen quite a few recipes for chilled avocado soup lately. I guess that's not really surprising during the "dog days" of summer. After looking at several recipes for avocado soup, I created my own. It includes all the things I liked in other recipes. I really like the soup but HubbyGrouch's comment was: "It's too similar to guacamole. It feels like I'm eating a dip."

2 avocados, shell removed and flesh diced coarsely
1/2 red onion
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
2-3 dashes cayenne pepper (or more, depending on how hot you like it)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp ground cumin
freshly ground black pepper
canned whole corn kernel, drained
cherry tomatoes, diced
ham, diced
sour cream

Place avocados, onion, lime juice, cilantro, chicken bouillon, cayenne pepper, heavy cream, milk, cumin and 1 1/2 cups of water in a bowl or your blender. Puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lime juice and cayenne pepper, if desired. If the soup is too thick for your taste, just add some more water or milk. Chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours before serving. To server, pour soup into bowls and top with corn, tomatoes, ham, and sour cream. Taste good with tortilla chips.

Meal Plan for July 23 - 29, 2011

Monday: Leftovers

Go to Menu Plan Monday to check out lots of other meal plans and ideas for this week's dinners.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Mixed Salad with Mango and Shrimps

Today was the hottest day of the summer so far and really did not feel like cooking anything or even eating hot food. So, instead of the Louisiana Shrimps with Rice that I had planned for today, I decided to make a salad using some leftover veggies from my fridge.

2-3 oz iceberg lettuce, cut into 1 inch squares
10 cm (4 inches) cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch by 1 inch strips
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch by 1 inch strips
1 Mango, diced
1 big tomato, diced
12-15 black olives, pitted and halved lengthwise
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1-2 ounces cheese (crumbled goat cheese, provolone, or whatever you have in your fridge)
300 g (2/3 pounds) raw shrimps (about 25), peeled, deveined, and halved lengthwise
2-3 tbsp garlic butter
black pepper

Starting with the lettuce, arrange all vegetables, mango, and cheese on individual plates. In a skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shrimps, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook until just opaque in the center. Top salad with shrimps and serve with you favorite bread and dressing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

No-Bake Summer Lasagna (with Homemade Pasta)

July's Daring Cooks Challenge got me thinking a lot about homemade pasta. As soon as I read what the challenge was, I had several ideas, among them my Rainbow Pasta. Other ideas included "Modern Art-Style" Lasagna and Ravioli. I tried the former today but to get a good design with a 10-months old baby clinging to my leg, it was rather difficult to execute my ideas properly. The outcome was ok but not exactly what I had intended. Anyway, during the whole process some more pasta ideas popped up in my mind (probably other people did similar or the same things already). I thought I would try giant ravioli sometime time (when weather gets cooler), where make differently colored pasta doughs and then cut out animal shapes or vehicles or whatever else, using cookie cutters. So I will get some ravioli with animal designs or cars or.... Maybe that will make LittleGrouch more willing to at least try them. I just wanted to jot down this idea hoping it will help me to remember.

Today's dish was nice with a refreshing crunchy-lemony bite to it. The flavor is rather simple but very enjoyable. I don't know if I would do this dish as lasagna-style again, though. It sure looks nice on the plate, but it's not easy to eat and would taste just the same if you top a plate of pasta with the veggies and ricotta.

pasta dough
250 g all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
2 eggs
olive oil
flour for dustin

vegetables and ricotta
2 tsp olive oil
250 g cherry tomatoes, quartered, seeded (I just put the quarters in a strainer and squeezed the seeds out)
300 g zucchini, in 1 cm dice
2-3 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried or 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
salt and black pepper
250 g low fat ricotta

For the green pasta dough, mix together 50 g flour, egg yolk, a dash of salt and 1/2 tsp olive oil. If the dough is too dry to hold together, carefully add a few drops of water. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. For the white dough, mix together 200 g flour, 2 eggs, 2 tsp olive oil, and 4-5 dashes of salt until dough forms. Add a little water if needed. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Prepare your pasta maker and roll out dough as per instructions, dusting with flour if necessary. Cut part of the green dough with the spaghetti drums of the pasta maker. Lay out the white pasta and decorate with the green spaghettis. Using tiny cookie/aspic cutter, you can cut out shapes from the remaining green dough as well. Lightly press the green dough onto the white dough. Run the dough again through your pasta maker, then cut into rectangles. Spread the rectangles on a floured kitchen towel and let dry a bit while you prepare the sauce. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add tomatoes, zucchini, dried tomatoes, dried basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. (If you are using fresh basil, add just before serving.) Cook 3-5 minutes. The zucchini should still be crunchy. Season to taste with salt, pepper and additional lemon juice if desired. Season ricotta with salt and pepper. To assemble the lasagna, layer the ingredients in the order of your choice on each plate, starting and ending with a lasagna sheet.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mediterranean-Style Chicken Sandwiches

Finally, I finished up in the kitchen for today. It seems I spent most of the day in there. Baking bread, doing the dishes, preparing July's Daring Baker's Challenge, making dinner... But now I can relax and jot down today's recipes. The bread I used for the sandwich is a focaccia-style (not-so-flat) bread but prepared with a simple Artisan bread dough. The recipe is from my recently acquired UK version "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day". I bought that rather than the US version because the recipes are given with metric & weight measures (yay!) I have been using the master recipe from that book for some weeks now, and I just love it. I also tried the master recipe from the second book "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day". Great taste!

For tonight's dinner, I decided to use the whole bread to make a big sandwich and then cut into pieces like a cake. HubbyGrouch liked dinner so much, he ate half (!) of the whole thing. I ate a little bit less and thus have some leftovers for tomorrow's lunch (yum, yum).

A little tip for preparing the chicken and eggplant: I grilled them in my sandwich grill. It's much quicker than using a skillet because you cook both sides at the same time.

250 ml lukewarm water
1/2 tbsp granulated yeast
1/2 tbsp coarse grain salt
300 g unbleached white all-purpose flour
olive oil
coarse salt
dried crushed rosemary

4-6 tbsp olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, pressed
1-2 tsp dried oregano
1 eggplant, sliced 1/3 inch thick
5 chicken tenders, pounded to 1/8 inch thick
2 tbsp pesto
4-5 tbsp mayonnaise
1  7.5-oz jar roasted red bell pepper
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 big tomato, sliced

For the bread, add salt and yeast to water in a large enough bowl or container. Mix in the flour using a wooden spoon, stand mixer with a dough hook, a dough whisk (I usually use a fork). Cover bowl or container with a lid/plastic wrap (not airtight) and let dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then refrigerate dough for at least 3 hours before use. Place an empty broiler tray on any rack where it doesn't interfere with the bread. Preheat oven to 450F. Grease a baking sheet with a bit of olive oil (or line with parchment paper or a silicone mat). Dust the surface of the chilled dough with flour, remove from container and dust with more flour. Quickly stretch the surface of the dough around the bottom on all four sides, shaping it into a ball. Flatten ball into 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick round with your hands or a rolling pin without using a lot of flour. (My bread was a bit too thick and a little difficult to eat.) Place round on the prepared baking sheet.Sprinkle round with rosemary and coarse salt, drizzle with olive oil. Let rise, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Place the tray on a rack in the middle of the oven. Pour 250 ml hot tap water onto the broiler tray. Bake the bread for about 25 minutes until the crust is medium brown. Remove from oven and set on a cooling rack.

For the sandwich, whisk together olive oil, garlic, and oregano. Whisk together pesto and mayonnaise. Brush eggplant slices and chicken on both sides with the garlic-oil. Preheat sandwich grill and grill chicken and eggplant in batches until chicken is just done (about 1 minute) and eggplant is soft (about 2-3 minutes). Cut bread in half horizontally. Spread pesto-mayonnaise onto both halves. To assemble the sandwich, place the bell pepper on the bottom half of the bread. Then top with eggplant slices, chicken, tomato, and mozzarella. Put top half of bread on top of mozzarella. To serve, cut sandwich in about 6 pieces. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Refreshing Peach Soup with Goat Cheese

I love to eat cold/chilled dishes in the summer. Cold soups, salads, sandwiches. Dishes that keep the use of my oven and stove to a minimum. Last summer, I bought a two-plate burner that I plug in outside to cook some pasta or fry some meat etc. I already mentioned once or twice that we are not really BBQ people. We might use it when we have guests but it's not really worth the effort to start the charcoal grill for just two people, especially with two little ones roaming about. Anyway, back to today's dish. This recipe is from Food & Wine ("Chilled Peach Soup with Fresh Goat Cheese") and, as usual, I made some mommy-fications to simplify the dish.

4 peaches, diced
1/4 cucumber, peeled and diced; plus 4 tbsp of 1/4 inch dice for garnish
1/2 yellow pepper, seeded and diced; plus 4 tbsp of 1/4 inch dice for garnish
8 dried apricots, diced
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp white wine vinegar, plus more for seasoning
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1-2 dashes garlic powder
3-4 tbsp crumbled goat cheese, plus more for garnishing
freshly ground black pepper
4-6 tbsp pine nuts or walnuts, (optional: roasted)
toasted bread for serving

Combine peaches, cucumber, yellow pepper, apricots, honey, vinegar, salt, oil, garlic powder, and goat cheese. Puree until very smooth. Add water to obtain desired thickness of soup. Refrigerate for 4-5 hours. Season the soup to taste with salt and vinegar. Serve soup garnished with cucumber, yellow pepper, olive oil, goat cheese, nuts, and black pepper, accompanied by your favorite crunchy bread.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mustard Burger with Garlic Butter

Today LittleGrouch had a PB-J sandwich for lunch at his daycare. That always reminds me of my first face-to-face encounter with this American staple. I came to the US for the first time on a vacation trip when I was a teenager. My younger sister and I knew about PB-J sandwiches from American TV shows and movies. So, we were very curious to try one. We bought all the ingredients, prepared the sandwiches, took a bite, and then...... Let me tell you that that was the first and only time I have had a PB-J sandwich. We both thought it was one of the most disgusting bread-treats we'd ever tasted. Does anyone really like them for their taste and texture? Or is it just for convenience that they are so popular?

Ok, from PBJ to another American staple: Burgers. I don't like soft burger buns. Instead, I use Kaiser rolls and slightly toast them to give the burger some crunch. Also, I prepare the minced meat differently. I add bread crumbs, egg, fluid, and minced onion to lighten it up a little. Pure meat patties always seem very heavy. I like to try different kinds of burgers. This one gets some crunch from fresh cucumber and a great flavor from the garlic butter. HubbyGrouch put ketchup on his but for me that wasn't necessary.

Ingredients (for 6 burgers):
60 g (1/2 stick) soft unsalted butter
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
500 g minced beef
1 large egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1/4 ground black pepper
1 tsp thyme
2 tbsp milk
1 small onion, minced
1/4 cup sparkling water
olive oil
1 big red bell pepper, quartered lengthwise, seeds removed
1 6-inch piece cucumber, thinly sliced
6 kaiser rolls, sliced horizontally

Mix together butter, garlic, and parsley. Form into a roll and refrigerate until hardened. Place the bell pepper quarters onto a broiler tray, skin side up. Broil until skin forms bubbles and blackens. Let cool slightly, then put in a ziplock bag and let cool completely. Remove skin and cut each into 3-4 pieces. Mix minced beef, egg, bread crumbs, mustard, salt, pepper, thyme, milk, and onion. Just before forming the burger patties, mix in the sparkling water. Divide meat into six portions and form each into a patty slightly bigger than the buns. Heat 1-2 tsp of oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the patties in batches, about 2-3 minutes per side. Meanwhile, lightly toast the rolls. To assemble the burger, arrange sliced cucumber and bell pepper on the bottom part of each roll. Then place one patty on top. Divide the butter among the burgers and cover the top part of roll.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Herring in Yogurt Sauce

This is one of my all-time favorite dishes, and great for the summer! It's very refreshing though I am fully aware that herring is not everybody's cup of tea.

The recipe can be found here.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Meal Plan for July 16 - 22, 2011

Friday: Louisiana Shrimps with Rice 

Go to Menu Plan Monday to check out lots of other meal plans and ideas for this week's dinners.

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Lentils with Guiso and Egg

From time to time, HubbyGrouch gets a craving for Colombian food. This recipe is a carry-over from last week's meal plan.

I have prepared this dish before. The recipe can be found here.

Germarican Blueberry Pancakes

I do like blueberry pancakes. What I don't like are the kind of pancakes that are served in most breakfast places here. They are just too dry. The German-style pancakes I grew up with have a much higher egg-content and thus are more like an omelette with some flour, rather than being a flat, pan-fried cake. For me, pancake batter must have real eggs. I don't buy pancake mix where you just have to add water. For this recipe, I adjusted the amount of eggs to somewhere in between German and American pancakes - thus the name for the recipe. (The original recipe calls for 3 eggs). The dough of these pancakes is less viscous than the American dough. To get a perfectly round pancake, therefore, use either a small frying pan or a pancake ring.

300 g fresh (or frozen) blueberries
200 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 dash of salt
2 eggs
250 ml milk
50 g unsalted butter, melted
more butter for frying
maple syrup for serving

Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together eggs and milk. Add flour and mix to obtain a smooth dough. Stir in melted butter, then add blueberries. Heat 1-2 tsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Use about 1/3 cup batter per pancake. Depending on the size of the skillet, you can bake batches of 3-4 pancakes at a time. Cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes, flip over and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add more butter to the skillet as needed for more pancakes. Serve with maple syrup.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Gyros-Style Pork and Tsatsiki in Pita Pockets

This is a very easy dish. It just takes some time to marinate everything. It's a good summer dish, too, as it doesn't require a lot of actual cooking and the tsatsiki and tomatoes cool down the meat a little.

300 g (2/3 pound) pork chops, cut into 1/4 inch wide strips)
1-2 tsp gyro seasoning
2-3 tsp olive oil

tomato salad
5-6 medium ripe tomatoes, quartered and sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar
salt and peper

250 g (1 cup) low-fat greek-style yogurt
5-6 cm (2 - 2 1/2 inches) cucumber, peeled, seeded, and grated
1-2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper

4 regular size pita pockets

For the Tsatsiki, mix all ingredients together, season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving. In a 1-quart storage bag or in a container, whisk together gyro seasoning and oil. Add meat, cover, and refrigerate for about 2-3 hours. Mix together tomatoes, olive oil, and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour before serving. Take meat, tomato salad and Tsatsiki out of the fridge. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat with marinade and cook until meat is done, stirring often, about 7-10 minutes. Lightly toast pita pockets. Remove tomatoes from the marinade, using a slotted spoon. Place tomatoes, tsatsiki, and meat in pita pockets and serve.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Homemade Rainbow Pasta (or "Pasta Tolleranza")

This recipe is my contribution to the July 2011 Daring Cooks Challenge. The Challenge was to prepare hand-made pasta. I thought that a multi-color pasta would be a lot of fun to look at and to prepare. I was right - and wrong. HubbyGrouch wanted to name it "Pasta Loca" because the kids were driving me nuts during the last steps of preparation. LittleGrouch helped a bit towards the end; he had fun operating the pasta maker. That was one of the reasons I had chosen to make this colorful pasta: I thought he would like to help with it. It was a bit tricky to put the differently colored doughs together and the whole process took longer than I had thought. So, yes, I would definitely do it again - but only if the kids are not around.

As you will notice in the preparation of the pasta, I used food coloring instead of vegetables to "dye" the pasta. I wanna say that's again one of my mommy-ficatons. If I had had more time, I would have used saffron, carrots, tomato paste, beets, spinach, or other veggies to obtain color effects. I chose to serve the pasta with a very simple sauce, if you can call it that. I didn't want to drench them in tomato sauce or a cream based sauce. This pasta is all about seeing the colors.

Ingredients (for about 6 servings):
600 g all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
olive oil
food coloring
more flour for dusting

Anchovy Garlic Oil
1/3 cup olive oil
8-10 anchovy fillets
3 garlic cloves, smashed
crushed red pepper
black pepper
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

For each individually colored dough, place 100 g flour in a mixing bowl. Make a ditch in the middle and add 1 egg, 1 tsp oil, 2-3 dashes of salt, and the desired food coloring. With a fork, beat the egg and then start incorporating the flour, a bit at a time, until you obtain a smooth dough. (Add more flour if the dough is too moist or a few drops of water if it's too dry.) Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and keep refrigerated for about 2 hours. Run each dough through your pasta maker as instructed in the manual until you reach the desired thinness. (If dough is too moist, dust with flour so it won't stick to the drums of the pasta maker.) Cut each dough crosswise into 12 equal strips. For the rainbow striped dough, place six differently colored dough strips together in a slighty overlapping fashion, as shown in the picture.

Carefully run the dough through the drums of the pasta maker again.

Then run the dough through the Tagliatelle/Fettuccine drum of the pasta maker and hang to dry. (I used chop sticks set between to chairs.)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tbsp salt. Cook pasta for about 3 minutes, until soft. Drain and put back in the pot.

In the meantime, prepare the sauce. Place olive oil, anchovies, 2-3 dashes of red pepper, and garlic in a small sauce pan. Heat gently over low-medium heat, stirring from time to time, until anchovies dissolve. Add parsley and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Pour oil over pasta and mix well. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mixed Salad with Smoked Trout

2-3 ounces mixed greens
4 inch piece of cucumber, quartered lengthwise, then sliced
1/2 orange bell pepper, cut into 2 inch long strips
1/2 Braeburn apple
8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
3-4 radishes, sliced
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 pound smoked trout, cut into pieces

Starting with the mixed greens, arrange all ingredients on plates and serve the salad with bread and your favorite dressing.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pasta Salad with Chicken and Tapenade Dressing

300 g Rotini pasta
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch by 1 inch strips
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 zucchini, cut into 1/6 inch slices
250 g cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
7-8 chicken tenders (or 1/2 broiled chicken)
salt and pepper
paprika powder
100-150 g crumbled feta cheese

5 tbsp tapenade
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp balsamico vinegar

Cook pasta as directed, drain, and let cool. If using chicken tenders, season with paprika and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large enough skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook about 3-5 minutes per side until nicely browned. Remove from skillet and let cool. Heat 1-2 tbsp oil in the same skillet over high heat. Add zucchini and bell pepper. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Remove from heat. For the dressing, mix together tapenade, oil, and balsamico. Place vegetables in a large bowl, add tomatoes, parsley, and dressing. Mix together gently. Sprinkle chicken tenders with salt. Cut chicken tenders (or broiled chicken) into pieces and add to vegetables. Add pasta to bowl, mix, and season to taste with salt, pepper, and balsamico. Serve topped with crumbled Feta cheese.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Egg, Avocado, and Apple Salad

2-3 ounces mixed greens
3 hardboiled eggs, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 avocados, sliced
3/4 apple, cut into 1/4 inch by 1 inch strips
1 ounce very thinly sliced red onion
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
8 cherry tomatoes
1-2 tbsp chopped chives

Place mixed greens, eggs, avocado, apple, and tomatoes on two plates. Top with onion, nuts, and chives. Serve with bread and your favorite dressing. Cheese cubes and smoked turkey breast are great additions, too.

Meal Plan for July 9 - 15, 2011

Monday: Leftovers

Friday: Pita Pockets with Gyros-Style Pork 

Go to Menu Plan Monday to check out lots of other meal plans and ideas for this week's dinners.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

German Meat Patties

This is a family favorite and a family recipe. I have made these meat patties many times. The recipe can be found here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Homemade Sushi (Variety Plate with Salmon and Tuna)

I not only love to eat sushi, I also enjoy preparing it.  I once prepared a sushi dinner for 16 (!) people. This included several non-traditional varieties like tuna with mango, tomato and mozzarella, meat patties, lamb fillet, and smoked trout. These days, when I make sushi, it's just for HubbyGrouch and me, so I have to restrict myself to fewer ingredients.

6 full nori sheets (4 cut in half)
330 g Sushi rice
2 tbsp + 2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar
1 1/3 tsp salt
3-4 ounces fresh salmon, cut into 1 inch by 1 inch thick strips

3-4 ounces fresh tuna, cut into 1 inch by 1 inch thick strips
avocado, cucumber, scallion and carrot, cut into thin strips

Place the rice in a strainer and rinse under running water until water remains clear. Transfer rice to a low pot, add 400 ml water. Let stand for 5 minutes. Bring rice to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water is boiling vigorously, turn heat to lowest setting and cook rice for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, remove lid and cover rice with a kitchen towel. Let rest for 10 minutes. In the meantime, heat vinegar, sugar and salt over low heat until sugar and water have dissolved. Carefully fold vinegar mixture into rice, using a wooden spoon. Allow to cool to room temperature before preparing sushi rolls.

To prepare sushi, spread 1/12 (for half sheet) or 1/6 (for full sheet) of rice on the rough side of a nori sheet, leaving a 1/4 inch edge on all sides. For the half sheets, I used one kind of fish and one kind of vegetable for each roll. For the full sheets, I used one kind of fish with all the vegetables for each roll. After placing the filling in one line on the nori sheet, roll it up tightly, using a sushi mat if you prefer. Fill a tall glass or cup with cold water, dip in sharp knife (with smooth blade), then cut sushi, seam side down. Cut off the ends of each roll, then cut the half sheet rolls into six pieces each and the full sheet rolls into eight pieces each.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Baby Potato Salad with Radishes, Celery, and Bacon

I already mentioned (probably every time I post a potato recipe) that love those little tubers very much. So, from time to time I have to torture HubbyGrouch by serving a potato dish (he basically grew up on rice 3 times a day, 7 days a week). This salad turned out very nice - especially with the bacon on top. We had it by itself as a cold dinner on a hot summer day. I think it's also a nice side dish for a BBQ or fried/grilled fish. The original recipe is from Food & Wine magazine ("Baby Potato Salad with Radishes and Celery").

1 pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
3-4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp cider vinegar
salt and black pepper
2-3 inner celery stalks
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
5-6 slices of bacon, fried and crumbled

Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly. Slice about 1/2 inch thick. Whisk together the oil and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently fold in the potatoes and celery. Let cool at room temperature, about 30 minutes. Just before serving, fold in the radishes and scallions, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with bacon for serving.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chocolate Tartlets with Mango White Wine Mousse

Yesterday I was making fun of all the red-white-blue patriotic food I have been seeing on food blogs. And look at today's dessert. I guess I was subconsciously influenced by what I had recently seen. This recipe is a compilation of two recipes. I modified a short crust recipe to include the cocoa powder and I used a recipe for a cake filling to create the mousse. The mousse, in turn, is very flexible. For a non-alcohol variation, use orange juice instead of the wine. You can also replace the wine with yogurt or, to make if more fancy, use sparkling wine or even champagne. You can of course use other fruit instead of mango. I think the recipe would be just as good with strawberries, raspberries, peach, apricot, nectarines...You can use fresh, ripe fruit or canned fruit. There are endless possibilities. Instead of filling the mousse into tartlets, you can fill it in individual dessert glasses and serve it by itself with some fruit. You can also use the dough to make cookies (to be served with the mousse?).

chocolate short crust (makes about 25-30 tartlets)
250 g all purpose flour
50 g cocoa powder
100 g sugar
150 g unsalted margarine or butter
1 large egg
1 dash salt

Mango White Wine Mousse (for 25-30 tartlets)
1 can (425 ml / 15 oz) mangoes, drained and pureed
1 tbsp sugar
1 pack (9g) vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
2 tbsp lemon juice
100 ml white wine
1 envelope (7 g / 1/4 oz) gelatine
100 g heavy whipping cream

Combine all ingredients to get a smooth dough. Shape the dough into a thick disc (easier for rolling out),  wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before using. To make the tartlets, you can either roll out the dough to about 2-3 mm thick and then use a knife or cookie cutters to divide into pieces for the tartlet forms. Or, you can cut the dough into balls and press them into the tartlet forms. Prick the dough several times with a fork. Preheat the oven to 360F and bake tartlets for about 12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then remove tartlets from forms and cool completely on a cooling rack.

Sprinkle gelatine over white wine. Let stand for about 10 minutes. Mix together mango puree, sugar, vanilla sugar, and lemon juice. Gently warm wine until gelatine is dissolved. Stir in 2-3 tbsp mango puree, then pour wine into remaining mango puree, stirring constantly. Refrigerate until mixture starts to gel. Whip cream. When mango-wine mix starts to gel, fold in the cream and immediately fill mousse into tartlets. Refrigerate tartlets until mousse is set. Garnish to your liking with whipped cream, fruit, chocolate sprinkles, citrus fruit peel etc.