Thursday, April 30, 2009

Green Coconut Curry with Scallops

You know that I love coconut milk and here's another type of coconut recipe - a Thai curry. I've made this probably 5 or 6 times for company this last year and it turns out great every time. The recipe comes together quickly in one pan and I serve it over jasmine rice (tonight, brown jasmine rice). I'll add a couple of photos soon but the header above this post is a picture of the ingredients (minus the scallops). Hope your company likes it as much as mine did!

Green Coconut Curry with Scallops (2 servings)

12 ounces sea scallops
3/4 c. canned unsweetened coconut milk
1-2 tsp. Thai green curry paste (depending on how spicy you want to make it)
1/2 red bell pepper cut into 2 inch strips
Garlic clove
1 T minced peeled fresh ginger
1 T fresh lime juice
1 T soy sauce (or fish sauce)
1/4 c. thinly sliced green onions
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
Hot cooked jasmine rice

Saute bell pepper, ginger, garlic and green curry paste for 3 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and bring it to a boil. Add the scallops, lower the heat a little, and cook until just opaque (time will depend on how large the scallops are). Remove from the heat and add the lime juice, soy sauce, green onions and half of the cilantro. Put the rice in 2 bowls, place scallops on top and divide the sauce in half in each bowl. Sprinkle with the rest of the cilantro.

I think basil might be good instead of the cilantro and if you want it spicier, add some minced jalapeno when you saute the bell pepper, ginger and garlic.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

When we have brown bananas (I'm weird and I like eating them on the green side), this is sometimes what I make. The recipe is originally from Bon Appetit and is great - the muffins always come out perfectly, I usually have all the ingredients on hand, and today is probably the first time I've even modified the recipe. I've heard my friend Nicole has had good luck with some changes and I was trying to make them a little healthier for my daughter to eat (see notes on original recipe at the end).

My daughter had fun baking again today and tried to mash the bananas. I drew the line at her cracking the egg.

My favorite part was when the muffins came out of the oven and she ran to get a ziplock bag and wanted to put muffins in bags to give to Ray, our friend who was working on our house and Brayden, her best friend down the street.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (12 muffins)

1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. mashed ripe banana (about 2 large)
1 egg
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. mini chocolate-chips (semi-sweet)
1/4 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare muffin tin (I used paper liners). Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Mix bananas, egg, milk, and butter in a medium bowl. Stir banana mixture into dry ingredients until just blended (don't overmix). Stir in chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake until tops are pale golden and toothpick comes out with no crumbs - about 32 minutes.

*If you want to make the original recipe, use all white flour, 3/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips and no walnuts.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Feels like summer

We had some 90 - 100 degree weather last week and some citrus fruit falling off the trees so I decided to get out the ice cream maker and make sorbet. I made two citrus/herb blend batches and they were great. Well, the grapefruit was WAY too sweet (forgot to change the proportions of sugar from when I made the lemon) so there are some adjustments that I made before posting the recipe below.

In this previous post, I already raved about my ice cream maker but I seriously love it and I know it's going to get a lot of use this summer. But, if you don't have an ice cream maker, you can do this to make sorbet: When it gets to the part about putting it in your ice cream maker, put it in a big shallow pan (9x13 will do) in the freezer. Freeze until the mixture becomes slushy, about 2 hours. Using fork, stir to blend it and put it back in the freezer. From this point, stir it every hour for about 4 or 5 hours. Then, you can eat it or leave it until you're ready to eat it. The stirring makes crystals form and keeps it from being a big ice cube. This is technically called a granita and if you drink, the texture is actually better if you add a shot or two of vodka to the recipe (alcohol keeps things from freezing solid).

Sorbets (or granitas) make a good palate cleanser between courses if you want to make a fancy meal.

Lemon-Rosemary Sorbet (4-6 servings)

2 c. water
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
1 sprig of rosemary
1 T. lemon zest (optional)

Combine the sugar, water, and rosemary sprig in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the sugar dissolves - about 3 minutes. Discard the rosemary. Cool completely (in refrigerator for a few hours or in an ice bath for 30 minutes). When it's cool, add the lemon juice and lemon zest and make it according to your ice cream maker's directions (for mine, it thickened in about 25-30 minutes and then I transferred it to the freezer for a few hours).

Grapefruit-Mint Sorbet(4-6 servings)

2 c. water
3/4 c. - 1 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. fresh grapefruit juice
1 large sprig of mint

Combine the sugar, water, and mint sprig in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the sugar dissolves - about 3 minutes. Discard the mint. Cool completely (in refrigerator for a few hours or in an ice bath for 30 minutes). When it's cool, add the grapefruit juice and make it according to your ice cream maker's directions (for mine, it thickened in about 25-30 minutes and then I transferred it to the freezer for a few hours).

Monday, April 20, 2009

Swiss Muesli

I've had this recipe cut out from some random magazine (Health? Self?) in a notebook for probably 4 or 5 years. I look at it from time to time and have never made it until yesterday. One of my favorite things at Corner Bakery is their cold oatmeal and this isn't exactly the same but it's pretty good. I'm trying to minimize added sugar and white flour in my diet and on the mornings that I leave around 6:30am to teach, I have a hard time making breakfast. It's usually a hard-boiled egg and a banana and it's becoming harder and harder to resist that Currant Oatmeal Scone at Peet's when I stop for my coffee.

This might be the answer to my problem - some protein to keep me full, no added sugar, and something I can grab out of the refrigerator and take with me to eat in my office before class. After getting some bran and flax seeds out of the bulk bins at Whole Foods, I had the rest of the ingredients and the "cooking" part is really a matter of stirring stuff together. I doubled the recipe except for the flax seeds, bran, and wheat germ (kept it at this amount).

I have a feeling this will be the recipe I'm constantly playing with since I've got the granola pretty much how I like it but for now, here's a basic recipe:

Swiss Muesli (2 servings)

1/2 c. water (boiling)
1/2 c. rolled oats
1 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt (I used non-fat greek yogurt)
1 apple, cored and diced (I left the skin on)
2 T oat bran
2 T wheat germ
2 T ground flax seeds (I left them whole)
1/2 c. dried fruit (I used a combination of cranberries, blueberries, and raisins)
1 tsp. cinnamon

In a medium bowl, pour boiling water over the rolled oats. Let it stand for 25 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well, cover and refrigerate. Serve chilled. Will keep in the refrigerate for 4 days.

Variations: If you like sweeter things, you could use vanilla yogurt or add some honey to the top. I bet other fresh fruit or nuts would be good if you added it when you were going to eat the muesli (don't know how it would hold up in the fridge for a few days . . . I'm picturing soggy walnuts and brown bananas - yuck). Mine was a little dry when I took it out of the refrigerator and I poured a little soy milk over the top of it. Just add more water, yogurt, milk, soy, or whatever if it seems too dry.

PS -The recipe is called "Swiss Muesli" because Muesli was developed by a Swiss physician in the early 1900s, not just because I'm Swiss.

Monday Morning Muffins

After not wanting the cereal I poured for her and barely eating the oatmeal that she wanted next, my daughter brought me a mini-muffin pan and announced that she wanted to eat muffins. I tried (obviously unsuccessfully) to tell her that I'd make muffins later or tomorrow and that they took a long time to bake. After about 10 minutes of that "discussion" I gave in and gave her her first hands-on cooking experience that didn't involve plastic food and the little kitchen in her bedroom. It was a lot of fun and I'm glad that this is one argument she won.

She was great at the mixing and dumping parts of the recipe and not so good at the waiting. About halfway through the cooking time, she decided to eat a rice cake to tide her over. The good news is that she LOVED the end product and after sharing a few with her friend Brayden, there are only a couple left.

This is an adaptation of a recipe from Joy of Cooking and I left the nuts out today but I like them with walnuts.

Apple Mini-Muffins

1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. whole wheat flour (can use all white flour if you prefer)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/3 c. sugar
1 medium apple, peeled and grated with juice
2 1/2 T. warm melted unsalted butter
1/4 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare your muffin tins (see below for yield).

Whisk together the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

In a larger bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar. Grate the apple over the wet mixture so all the juice gets in there, stir together, and let set for about 10 minutes. Then, stir the butter and nuts (if using) into the egg/apple mixture. Add the flour mixture and fold until the dry ingredients are moistened but don't overmix. Divide it among muffin cups and bake until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 2-3 minutes and then on the rack. These are best the day they're baked.

Mini-muffins: Bake 9-11 minutes. Recipe yielded 20 mini-muffins
Regular size muffins: Bake 14-16 minutes. Recipe yields 6 regular muffins. For a full dozen, double the recipe

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Roasted Chicken & White Bean Salad

Here's what I did with the leftover meat from my roasted chicken:

Roast Chicken & White Bean Salad - 4 servings

2 cups coarsely chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken
1 cup chopped tomato
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/3 cup sliced fresh basil
1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained

Dressing ingredients:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To prepare salad, place first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir gently to combine. To prepare dressing, combine vinegar and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over salad, tossing gently to coat.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Roasted chicken with lemons and rosemary

This is the tree on one of our properties - it's killing me to see all these ripe lemons and I don't have any very good ideas for them. Any suggestions other than lemonade? I might try some lemon-rosemary sorbet in my ice cream maker but other than that, I'm at a loss. Has anyone ever tried homemade lemon curd? I watched Ina Garten do it once on TV but my experiences with jam / preserves have been less than stellar.

Last night, I used lemons to make roasted chicken. Cooking a whole chicken is new to me in the last few months but I've been pleased with the results.

Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary

I started with a 5 pound kosher bird from Trader Joe's, took the guts out of the cavity, rinsed it, and patted the skin dry with paper towels. Then, I filled the cavity with lemons and rosemary (quartered lemons, sprigs of rosemary from the yard). I drizzled and smeared olive oil over the outside (about 2T) and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and some more rosemary. Then, I roasted it on a rack in a roasting pan (uncovered and breast side down). The only advice I can give about knowing when it's done is to check with a thermometer in the thigh (should be around 165 degrees) and wiggle the legs to see if they're loose. Cooking time depends on how big your chicken is and what temperature you use for roasting.

This recipe is so easy and the chicken was so moist and tender that I told my husband that I plan to make this once a week. We had about 2 cups of cooked chicken left over and I'll let you know what we do with it! If you live in the area and want some lemons, just let me know!

I should know better

I've already said this to my sisters, husband and mom but as my friends, you also need to know that I should NEVER decorate something for a special occasion. So, if I tell you that I'm going to decorate a wedding cake for someone, a birthday cake for you, or even something simple like sugar cookies, please tell me to just make brownies or ginger-molasses cookies, or key lime bars or something like that instead.

What happened was I told my sister I'd bring Easter cookies for a special picnic this weekend. If we decorate cookies to celebrate Jesus's birth, why not for his resurrection, right? I found adorable cookie cutters, bought Wilton icing for the decorating part, looked up my favorite sugar cookie recipe, found a good icing recipe for the base icing, and got my dough into the refrigerator. No problem. Visions of beautifully decorated, delicate cookies filled my head. Then, I began rolling out the dough and I remembered why I always vow never to do cookie cutter cookies again - it was a mess. But, I got the cookies into the oven, baked, and the base layer of icing on. What happened next is better represented by a couple of photos.

Enough said? If you're my friend, don't let me try this again.

If you want to try it, I used sugar cookie recipe #2 (which is Mary's Sugar Cookie recipe from the Betty Crocker book) and for the base frosting, I just used powdered sugar with enough whole milk to make it frostingy.

Monday, April 6, 2009

My "go-to" meal

If I've brought you dinner because you had a baby, had surgery, or for some other reason, it was probably these enchiladas. They're my go to when I have to make food for someone else, especially when I want a dish that doesn't have to go into the oven right away (you can refrigerate these for several days or you can make the filling ahead of time and roll later if it's easier).

A long time ago I found a recipe called "weeknight enchiladas" that was the original version of these but I've made so many changes over the years that this is more my recipe than anything else. Tonight, they hit the spot and I served them with spanish rice. Baby girl even liked the filling and ate almost a whole enchilada (I made hers without jalapenos and she was a fan of the "beanas").

Chicken Enchiladas (serves 4-6)

3 cups of chopped cooked chicken (I often use a rotisserie chicken)
1-2 cups shredded cheese (monterey jack, a mexican blend)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. sour cream
1 (4.5 oz) can chopped green chiles (or jalapenos if you want it spicier)
1/3 c. cilantro, chopped
1/3 c. green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
8 (8 in.) flour tortillas
1 10 oz. can green enchilada sauce

Stir together all ingredients except tortillas and enchilada sauce. Spread a big spoonful of chicken mixture in the middle of each tortilla and roll up. Place tortillas, seam side down, in a 9x 13 pan lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Top with enchilada sauce and some of the cheese. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

* You can leave out the black beans if you don't like them. Lately, I've been skipping the onions. You can adjust the amounts of cheese to your liking and use cayenne, red pepper flakes, or jalapenos to make them spicier. Last night I used white corn tortillas instead of flour but they can break apart when they're rolled in the pan and don't look as pretty. The recipe filled 10 corn tortillas with a little left over.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Coconut milk

I'm back. It's been a long two weeks with spring break, some fun stuff, and some sad stuff and very little cooking at home. But, now I'm back to real life, cooking, and my blog.

I've liked coconut for a long time but recently have discovered two easy coconut recipes that I'm really getting addicted to: Coconut rice and Coconut oatmeal. The coconut rice started as a side dish for a chicken curry crock pot recipe that I found online. The first time I made it (and, I admit, every time since) I ate the cold leftovers standing in front of the refrigerator the next day. I couldn't even go to the table and sit down like a civilized person before I wolfed them down.

The coconut oatmeal is new. I put some shredded coconut on our oatmeal the other morning and it was wonderful. It probably has something to do with the fact that my shredded coconut is sweetened and I usually eat my oatmeal unsweetened (I put cinnamon and dried cranberries or raisins in the water before adding the oats). It was so good and I asked my sisters and sister in law if they've ever tried making it with coconut milk. They had. How was I just now thinking of this? So this morning, I made a bowl and while not too sweet, it was delicious.

Coconut milk is made by simmering together the meat of the coconut and some water and then straining out the solid parts. I sometimes use "light" coconut milk which is sort of like using 2% or skim milk - less flavor and less fat. While I was researching using coconut oil topically for my daughter's excema, I came a lot of information on the health benefits of coconut in diet. From what I read, the idea that coconut milk or oil is unhealthy because of saturated fat is a myth - it's a "good" kind of fat that is similar to what's in breast milk and can improve brain development. Check this out if you're interested in more of that information.

Two simple recipes:

Coconut Rice

Cook rice according to package directions but substitute half of the water for coconut milk, omit any other fat (olive oil) and don't use salt. I think it's great with brown rice but I've also made it with regular white rice and jasmine rice.

Coconut Oatmeal

Cook oatmeal according to package directions but substitute 1/2 to 3/4 of the water for coconut milk.

This morning, I heated 1/2 c. water, 1/2 c. coconut milk, and 1/4 cup raisins to a boil. I added 1/2 c. rolled oats and cooked, stirring, until it was the consistency that I like.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The full report

Well, I promised a full report from our Girls' Weekend in San Francisco. While I contemplated giving a run down of every bite I ate all weekend, it would take too long (and get too boring) so here are the highlights and the pictures. If you were with me and want to add to any category, please do!

Best food experience - all around: Boulette's Larder in the Ferry Market Building for breakfast. If you don't mind a big shaggy dog rubbing against your legs while you eat, I promise this will be one of your favorite places to eat. I snapped one picture as I walked in the door of an interesting jar and was told not to take any more photos so there are none. The menu is different every day, using seasonal, local ingredients and we sat at a communal table in the working kitchen. I had a hot whole grain cereal with currants, flax seeds and nuts and the best thing was some homemade yogurt with honey and dried fruit. It was amazing . . . the tartness, smooth texture, and what I'm guessing is wild, local honey that was starting to crystalize on the side of the bowl.

Best view: Top of the Mark Hopkins where we had cocktails before dinner on Friday night. My drink was not a favorite of everyone else's (champagne cocktail with raspberry liquer which my sisters thought tasted like cough syrup) and my favorite was probably T's ginger martini.

Best seafood: My sister-in-law's cedar plank salmon at McCormick and Kuleto's in Ghirardelli Square . . . I've eaten a lot of salmon and I'm at a loss to explain why this was so tasty. I had the ahi tuna served rare, sashimi style and it was also amazing.

Best free extra: The complimentary sparkling water at Poggio on Sausalito. I highly recommend this restaurant. My pasta was amazing and I wish I wasn't so full by the time dessert rolled around. Worth the cab ride from the city and a fun end to my weekend.

Place I'd visit first the next time I'm in town: The Ferry Market Building. Great shops, lots of places I wish I could have tried, really fun place to browse (especially without an 18 month saying "hold you" or "me walk" the whole time). While I was there I bought some Parisian Macaroons from Miette Patisserie. They were wonderful and not coconut like traditional macaroons. This afternoon, I happened to hear a segment of Splendid Table on NPR (don't look surprised - you already knew I'm a huge dork and if you're reading this far into this post, you probably listen to NPR too) discussing "real" Parisian macaroons made from almonds and how rose petal is a popular flavor in Paris and I realized that's what I had eaten in San Francisco.

Food regret: Not buying a gingerbread cupcake from Miette or having crepes for breakfast at Squat and Gobble (which coincidentally wins for "best restaurant name")

There's more I could say about China Town, Fisherman's Wharf, and Marina but suffice it to say this was one of the best weekends I've had in a long, long time. Thanks, girls!