Friday, September 30, 2011

Trout with Warm Pine-Nut Dressing and Fennel Puree

Lately, I have been quite neglecting my cooking magazines. So today, being done with my Arabic dishes for September's Cook Around the Globe event, I thought it was time to pick a recipe from a magazine. I chose this one from Food & Wine because a) I love trout, b) I had trout in my freezer, and c) it sounded delicious. And it was delicious indeed. I doubled up on the fennel puree and added two small potatoes, that I found in my pantry, to it. I think without the potatoes the puree would have been too watery. I like to have fennel from time to time but HubbyGrouch is not too crazy about it. This garlicky puree was a good way to sneak some into our dinner. I served the dish with a side salad. So basically, if you leave out the little potatoes, this dish doesn't have a lot of carbs. It's an accidental very healthy low-carb dinner. Besides being healthy, the taste was also great. Very delicious and unique with the porcini flavor of the sauce. I think I know what to do the next time I crave fennel and trout.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

I had never had Mac&Cheese before I came to the US. At first, I wasn't very interested in a dish that most often is prepared with artificial cheese and has tons of butter and/or cream. But when I kept coming a cross recipes for Mac&Cheese variations, I got interested in trying it out. I especially like the ones that use vegetables, pureed in the cheese sauce; like Mac & Cheese with Bell Pepper. I adapted this recipe from the blog Plate Fodder. I doubled the recipe to have some go-to freezer meals for busy days. I used tri-color rotini pasta for this dish but regular elbow macaroni or other short pasta work just as well. There is a lot of sauce in this dish, so make sure you cook the pasta just about al dente, so it still has some bite after baking. The pureed squash gives the dish an interesting texture, too. We liked this dish and I am looking forward to eating it again.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bahrain/Kuwait/Oman/Qatar/Saudi Arabia/United Arab Emirates: Basal Mahshi (Stuffed Onions)

This is my last dish for the September 2011 Cook Around the Globe event. HubbyGrouch will be happy to hear it. He had started to complain that he was getting fed up with Arabic food. I, on the other hand, really like those flavors and I will try and continue to incorporate Arabic dishes into my meal plan. These stuffed onions are very tasty; and the tangy sauce perfectly rounds up the flavor of the onion rolls. It does take a little bit of time to prepare these rolls but I made extra ones  that will be frozen for later use. To save some cooking time, I prepared this dish in a pressure cooker. I also prepared more sauce and added some leftover onion to the sauce.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Yemen: Al-Susi (Flatbread Stack with Tomato Sauce)

Yet another dish from the Arabian Peninsula, this time from Yemen. This one will also be linked to the Cook Around the Globe September 2011 event. I think this dish can best be described as a French-toast-style stack of flatbread, cooked in a milk-egg-sauce. I thought it was a  nice and simple dish. HubbyGrouch remarked that the taste was too simple (after commenting that some of the other Arabic dishes were too complex in flavors - there's just no pleasing some people  :-)   ). I am happy to say that LittleGrouch, after I told him this was basically bread and egg, ate some of it without much ado. I will write down the original recipe for 4 servings, which can easily be downscaled. For our dinner, I used 2/3 of the ingredients. I prepared 5 flatbreads using two skillets to save time.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Bahrain/Kuwait/Oman/Qatar/Saudi Arabia/United Arab Emirates: Kuba Al-Aish (Stuffed Meat Rolls)

I am not a big fan of raisins, especially in savory foods. But I must say that they do give a nice flavor to the meatballs. As for the meatballs itself, they turned out to be a bit brittle. I think next time I would put the egg into the meat mixture and use water to form the meatballs. Other than that, I really liked the taste of this dish. Instead of using the 1/2" of frying oil from the original recipe, I just used about 2-3 tsp per batch of meatballs. Also, I couldn't find yellow split peas and had to use green ones instead. I don't suppose that would change the taste much. I had planned to make a wholewheat flatbread along with the meatballs but I didn't have the time and we had to settle for store-bought flatbread.
This recipe will be linked to the Cook Around the Globe September 2011 event.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Meal Plan for September 25 - 30, 2011

This week's meal plan features some more recipes from the Arabian Peninsula for my Cook Around the Globe event.

Sunday: Kuba Al-Aish (Stuffed Meat Rolls) & Mafrooda Burd (Wholemeal Flat Bread)

Monday: Al-Susi (Flatbread Stack with Tomato Sauce)

Tuesday: Basal Mahshi (Stuffed Onions)

Wednesday: Dukkous Al-Badinjan (Eggplant Sauce) & Muaddas (Rice with Lentils)

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese (from the blog Plate Fodder)

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, September 23, 2011

Sicilian-Style Bread Stuffed Zucchini

This is one of my favorite recipes. I have no idea why "sicilian" is in the title. I did some searches on the internet but didn't find anything even similar to this recipe. Whatever, the important thing is that the dish tastes great. The bread filling is very tasty and gets a nice crunch from baking. You can use your favorite bread for the filling, choose the herbs, you can add some ham or prosciutto if you like. You can convert this dish to vegetarian if you use salt instead of anchovies (or a vegetarian seasoning paste).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Saudi Kabsa

Here is another recipe for September's Cook Around the Globe. I selected this from a great blog called Arabic Food and has tons of delicious recipes from the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula. If you like the flavors of that region, be sure to check out the blog. This dish is adapted from one of the recipes for Saudi Kabsa on that blog. HubbyGrouch loved the tasty rice and even LittleGrouch had seconds!


Germany: Zwetschgen-Datschi (Tray-Baked Prune Cake)

It is prune season again. They are one of my favorite fruits. If I had to pick a favorite recipe it would be this one from Bavaria. There are of course several different variations of this recipe, using more dough, different relative amounts of flour, eggs, etc. You can certainly play around with the dough and adjust it to your liking. I love the intense and slightly tart flavor the prunes on this cake. You can always add more sugar and/or whipped cream to this cake. I have never tried it but I think other fruits like apricots, plums, nectarines, peaches etc. can be used for this cake as well. This cake freezes really well. I usually wrap the pieces, in twos, first in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Potatoes à la Saltimboca

This is a recipe for all potato and bacon lovers. I have made this recipe before and today it was about time to repeat it. I am always trying to sneak potato dishes into our meal plan, and wrapping those little tubers in bacon seemed a really great way to do so. HubbyGrouch liked the dish and even LittleGrouch ate one potato.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Yemen: Mutaffaya (Fish in Bell Pepper Sauce)

Here is another dish from the Arabian Peninsula, from Yemen to be precise. It will also be added to the Cook Around the Globe roundup. The original recipe called for sea bass or grouper, but as I couldn't get either one at the store, I had to prepare the dish with haddock. The sauce had a nice mild flavor. However, the fish didn't pick up a much flavor from sauce as I had expected. Next time, I would season the fish a little before adding it to the sauce. Also, when you eat this dish make sure you have some nice fluffy bread to pick up all the sauce.


3D Animal Chocolate Cookies

Some time ago, I found these great "3D Zoo Animal Cookie Cutters" (by Nordic Ware). I finally got a chance to test them. They work great. You can use them with lots of different cookie doughs - sugar cookies, vanilla cookies, chocolate, even a savory batter with cheese. Just choose your favorite one. Decorating those cookies can be a nice craft for a birthday party. I did not decorate mine as a) I didn't have time and b) I prefer my cookies pure - I have not developed a liking for heavily-decorated American-style cookies yet (and I doubt that I ever will.)
Furthermore, I doubt that I will actually eat any of my cookies. Not because I don't like them; I do, very much indeed. But LittleGrouch helped prepare them and he is under the impression that they are all his. He insisted that HubbyGrouch eat one but so far, HubbyGrouch managed to postpone it (he is not one for cookies). Maybe I can pinch one while LittleGrouch is at preschool.

Simple Ham & Cheese Omelettes

I needed to use some shredded cheese and ham leftovers, so I decided to make omelettes for breakfast. I have prepared those before. You can find the recipe here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

France: Alsatian Tarte Flambée ("Flammekueche")

When we were living in Lausanne, we sometimes used to go to a microbrewery, Les Brasseurs, which has a nice selection of Flammekueche on their menu. When I asked HubbyGrouch to make a suggestion for this week's meal plan, he asked for the classic version of this delicious treat. Flammekueche are a classic French dish from the region of Alsace. The kitchen of that region is known for its wines and hearty, down-to-earth dishes that go with it. Though people in the US seem to be "obsessed" with French cooking, it seems to me that this French region is rather neglected, culinary-wise. This dish is prepared as easily as a pizza. The only part that is a little bit tricky is getting the dough really thin. Then just add the toppings and pop the flammekueche in the oven. I am sure I will prepare those again this winter.

Meal Plan for September 17 - 23, 2011

Saturday: Alsatian Tarte Flambée ("Flammekueche")

Sunday: Mutaffaya (Yemeni-Style Fish in Vegetable Sauce)
              Wholemeal Flat Bread

Monday: Potatoes à la Saltimboca

Tuesday: Saudi Kabsa II (Chicken & Rice Dish from Saudi-Arabia) (from the blog "Arabic Food")

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Rice-Stuffed Eggplant Rolls

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

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chili-Style Hotpot with Ground Pork

As soon as the days got a little colder, I developed a longing for chili. I could have done the usual Chili con  carne but I have so many chili recipes that I wanted to try something new. When I saw this one, I knew I had a winner. Ground pork (I have never made chili with ground pork before!), beans, and bell pepper. It also had one rather surprising ingredient: pork gravy. Let me say that this chili was absolutely delicious. Even LittleGrouch liked it - though it took some persuasion to make him take the first bite. After that, he couldn't get enough - especially of the beans. This recipe sure is a keeper and will show up again on my meal plan this fall/winter.

This recipe is linked to Texas Star Chili Cook Off 2011.
This recipe is linked to Jane Deere's Fusion Friday 9/29/2011.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bahrain/Kuwait/Oman/Qatar/Saudi Arabia/United Arab Emirates: Chebeh Rubyan (Shrimp Balls with Onion Filling)

This is the second dish I prepared for this month's Cook Around the Globe event - and there are still 3-4 more recipes on my list that I want to try. It's not a quick recipe but the great taste and texture of these little balls is well worth the effort. Even LittleGrouch ate a few of the shrimp balls - and he is usually a very picky eater. I am sure this recipe will show up again on my meal plan.

(I am linking this recipe to Your Best Recipe - September 2011 over at Spicie Foodie.)


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Classic Quesadillas with Tomato Salsa

Here is another one of those quick and simple, yet delicious meals for busy week nights. You can use any cheese you like, and if you long for a little bit of meat as well, just sprinkle some ham or prosciutto over the cheese. The salsa can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge for better flavor development.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pizza for Everyone

With some family visiting, I had to more than double my usual cooking most days. For today, that meant preparing 4 pizzas instead of two. On my mother's recommendation, we tried a new pizza with lots of mozzarella, bacon, parmesan, and eggs. It was not bad but not really how HubbyGrouch and I prefer our pizza. As he pointed out, it was almost like an omelett on pizza dough. However, I think the combination of ingredients has lots of potential and I will try to tweak the recipe a bit over the winter.

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Mixed-Berries-Sauce

I don't often make a special breakfast dish. We usually just have some bread with cheese and cold cuts (German style breakfast) or sometimes cereal. Occasionally, mostly when we have visitors, I dish up something more sophisticated. When I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, I just had to try it out. It is a delicious variation on the usual blueberry pancake. The recipe was meant for 4 servings but it is easily enough for 6 servings. It was a lot of batter! - and a rather small amount of berries to go with it. After looking at the recipe, I immediately decided to double up on the berries (my family loves to eat sauce). Instead of serving the berries raw, I decided to make a nice hot sauce (I used frozen berries instead of fresh ones). Check out the original recipe and do as you please - we all have different preferences.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Meal Plan for September 10 - 16, 2011

Saturday: Cod Sauté with Mango

Sunday: Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes (from Bon Appetit)
              Homemade Pizza

Monday: Eating Out

Tuesday: Classic Quesadillas with Tomato Salsa

Wednesday: Chebeh Rubyan (Prawn Balls from the Gulf States)

Thursday: Chili-Style Hotpot with Ground Pork

Friday: Alsatian Tarte Flambée ("Flammekueche")

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

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Cod Sauté with Mango

I am not crazy about fish in general but I do try to include 1 fish/seafood in each week's meal plan. This dish seemed a good choice for its simplicity and an abundance of vegetables. The colors looked great but overall, we thought the taste was too simple and mellow. I prepared twice the original recipe as we had visitors. Given that the fish is very delicate however, I wouldn't recommend to do that. It is rather difficult to incorporate the fish into the dish and even if you only stir once, it starts falling apart. It is a light dish and if you adjust the seasoning and/or choose another fish, I am sure this dish can be improved. There is a lot of potential here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Favorite Pork Ribs (Rubbed, Braised and Glazed Pork Ribs)

These ribs are absolutely fantastic! The combination of spices is just great and the sauce is incredibly tasty. I have tried several different recipes for ribs - but there's just nothing like these. The meat just falls off the bones (so much so that it's difficult to serve the ribs). My mouth is watering as I am thinking about what to write. There are just no words to describe the incredible taste and tenderness of this dish. I could even do without the honey glaze - I don't care much for anything sweet with my meat. Maybe next time I brush them with the sauce for the glazing step. The only thing left to say is that this recipe is adapted from Food & Wine. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

French Onion Soup

This month's Daring Cooks Challenge was to prepare a bouillon of our choice from scratch. Luckily the weather was getting cooler and soup became an option. Onion soup is a family favorite, so I decided to go with it. I chose to prepare a vegetable bouillon for the soup. Let me say that it was so not worth the effort! After cutting up all those veggies, I basically got hot water with a slightly sweet celery and leek flavor   :-(
So I ended up putting beef bouillon cubes in the soup to get some flavor. After that, the soup was yummy. Especially all the melted cheese on top.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Shredded Beef

Don't we all love quick and simple dishes that have a lot of taste as well? This is one of those. You can of course use steak for this dish but it sure tastes better with fillet.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Orecchiette with Greens, Mozzarella and Chickpeas

This is the first time I made a pasta dish with chickpeas. It seems like a somewhat awkward combination to me but I did like the taste of this dish. It's simple but the flavors go well together. I adapted this recipe from Food & Wine. MissChubbyCheeks snacked away on the seasoned chickpeas while I prepared the rest of the dish.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bahrain/Kuwait/Oman/Qatar/Saudi Arabia/United Arab Emirates: Quwarmah ala Dajaj (Curried Chicken) with Mashkoul (Rice with Onion) and Carrots

This is my first dish for Septembers Cook Around the Globe event. I found several more that I want to try out. The flavors of this dish sounded great, as indeed they turned out to be! The original recipe called for a whole chicken, cut into pieces. I used boneless chicken thighs instead. They turned out so tender, it was actually difficult to serve them. I simplified the preparation of the onioned rice as well, cooking everything together in one step. It doesn't develop a crust, like mashkoul should, but I didn't have the time to prepare "the real thing". The carrots are not from a recipe. I just wanted more veggies to go with the dish and cooked the sliced carrots in some spices to give them a light, matching flavor. If you live in or close to a city, I am sure you can find a pre-made Baharat spice mix. But if, like me, you are living in a rather rural area, you probably have to make your own. When I first went over the list of ingredients and came across "cassia bark", my heart sank. Not only had I never heard of it but I was sure I wouldn't be able to find such an exotic sounding ingredient anywhere close by. So I went to one of my favorite webpages, The Cook's Thesaurus, to find a replacement. What I read made me laugh out loud. It turned out that cassia bark is also called "false cinnamon" and that most "cinnamon" sold in the US actually is cassia bark. I have been using this unknown, exotic ingredient all along!


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Meal Plan for September 3 - 9, 2011

Saturday: Leftover Pernil Fajitas with homemade Guacamole

Sunday: Baked Eggs with Black Forest Prosciutto and Pepper Jack
              Mango Chocolate Cake
              Mixed Salad with Apple & Pear

Monday: Quwarmah ala Dajaj (Curried Chicken from the Gulf States)

Tuesday: Orecchiette with Greens, Mozzarella, and Chickpeas (from Food & Wine)

Wednesday: Shredded Beef (Chinese Wok Dish)

Thursday: French Onion Soup

Friday: Rubbed, Braised, and Glazed Pork Spareribs (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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Mixed Salad with Apple & Pear

After a hearty breakfast and a nice cake in the afternoon, I felt like having a light dinner. As it was a hot and humid day, I decided on a refreshing mixed salad. Probably the last one for this summer season.

Mango Chocolate Cake

Today was MissChubbyCheeks' 1st birthday, a welcome occasion to make a nice cake. I always had a homemade cake (or rather "torte") for my birthday when I grew up, and I want to do the same for my kids. When I was looking through my recipes, I found this one with mango and chocolate - a superb combination if you ask me. We ate the cake chilled and it was super refreshing with a great fruit and chocolate flavor. If you are preparing this cake for adults only, I recommend replacing all or part of the mango-liquid with wine or even sparkling wine. It adds a great extra flavor to the cake! 

A note on the procedure for this cake. I baked the whole batter in a 10" springform like the recipe suggested. Then you cut the cake in half horizontally to get two layers. You will then either need a second cake ring to put around one of the layers to pour the jelly, or you prepare only half the jelly and prepare the jelly-covered layers in two steps. I guess you could bake each layer seperately in two 10" round cake pans and pour the jelly directly in there. I am used to springforms and cake ring, so I have no idea if it is possible and how difficult it is to get a jelly-covered cake layer out of a cake pan.

Baked Eggs with Black Forest Prosciutto and Pepper Jack

This month for the Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog Mrs. Happy Homemaker. I found a lot of yumminess on the blog - especially amongst the breakfast dishes. As we are having visitors, I decided to treat them to a nice breakfast. I chose to combine two egg dishes I found on the blog and came up with a hybrid recipe of Simply Ham & Eggs Breakfast Bowls and Prosciutto Egg Cups. I decided to use Black Forest Prosciutto for the dish - I prefer it to either ham or Italian-style prosciutto. The choice of cheese is totally flexible - depending on your taste, the meat you are using, what you might have in your fridge... I baked the eggs for 15 minutes as per instructions from the blog, but for my taste, the egg yolk was too set. That's why I recommend a baking time of about 12 minutes if, like me, you like to dip a piece of bread into a nice, runny egg yolk. Otherwise, I really liked the dish and I'm sure it will be on the breakfast table again before long.
(For now, this blog entry is shown with the date Sep 12 for the purpose of the Secret Recipe Club. But as my blog is my food diary, I will move it to the date on which I actually prepared the dish in a day or two.)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Leftover-Pernil Fajitas with Guacamole

When we go to visit HubbyGrouch's parents or when they come to our place, his mother often prepares pernil. Pernil is a Puerto Rican pork roast - in this case with a slightly sweet orange sauce. This time, there were a lot of leftovers, so I decided to make some fajitas and homemade guacamole.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Spaghetti with Sun-Dried-Tomato-Almond Pesto

Who doesn't love a quick and simple pasta dish? I also like to take the concept of "pesto" and then using it for all kinds of ingredient combinations. When I saw this recipe in Food & Wine, I knew I had to try it out. Next time, I would use a short pasta for this dish because I couldn't get the pesto smooth enough to coat long pasta. I wanted to lower the calories and used less oil, so that might be the reason. But the flavor was great! And the bread crumbs give a nice crunch to the dish.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Potato Pancakes with Shrimp

Whenever I feel like including a potato dish in the meal plan, potato pancake comes to my mind. I just love'em! For today, I thought I'd try to add shrimps - just to try something different. I liked the taste and even HubbyGrouch said they were good. Next time, though, I would cut the shrimp into smaller pieces and mix into the potato batter. Sure, it looks nice when they are visible like this but they curl up and don't fall off the pancake, making it more difficult to handle and eat the dish. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Announcement: "Cook Around the Globe" - September 2011

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.)

First of all, I want to thank everybody who participated in August. I hope you had fun and will join again this month. For September, I invite you to explore the cuisines of the Arabian Peninsula:

September 2011 "Cook Around the Globe":
Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Oman)
(You will be able to post the link to your recipe on October 1.)

Some useful links:

Feel free to contact me with any questions. To grab a button or picture for your blog, click here.

Cook Around the Globe - August 2011 Roundup

Welcome to the first roundup of "Cook Around the Globe". I am very excited and curious to see the recipes of other participants (and I will try to look at and comment on all of them!). After looking through my Caribbean cookbook, I decided to go with more than just one recipe - there were way too many delicious sounding one to cut it down to a single one. I haven't gotten around to write up all the recipes, but I posted all the pictures. The recipes will follow shortly. I hope all of you enjoyed this event and will be back for the September round (announcement will follow). Also, if you liked the event, grab a button and spread the word. You can add the blog hop to your own blog if you like. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page, click on the link, and choose the appropriate code for your type of blog. I will conclude by saying a thousand times "thank you" to all participants and enjoy the recipes!

get the InLinkz code