Friday, September 28, 2007

Another Birthday Party!

I decided to throw myself my own birthday party on Thursday! It was a ton of fun and we enjoyed lots of good wine and yummy food. I decided to do lots of appetizers so everyone could graze throughout the evening. I make a veggie tray, cheese plate, baked brie, bruschetta, ham, chocolate cake, and pumpkin cheesecake (well I bought that).Here are a few things that were funny during the day….I didn’t do any prep the day before, never again!I didn’t make it to the grocery store until 1pm, yikes…very stressful!I didn’t have anyone to help me set up, hello 15 people over, you might need some help!The linen napkins were in the dirty clothes, oops, good thing I had some cute paper ones.I was a little stressed out, but everything turned out fine, just a little late. The ham was amazing and I was gorging on it all day yesterday. I think everyone should throw themselves a birthday party, you get to do exactly what you want and it was a ton’s of fun!My favorite part of the evening was when I made a toast to Pork and Ham because it’s so delicious!
Glazed Ham

Cheese Plate

Veggie Tray

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta

Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Monday, September 24, 2007

Zucchini In Tomato Sauce

I know, it’s another Indian recipe, but oh well. This is a very easy recipe to make and would be a good side dish even if you were serving chicken or steak, as It’s pretty neutral in flavor. It’s also vegan, so you can be safe serving it to anyone!

Zucchini In Tomato Sauce

2 Pounds Zucchini, cut into ½ inch thick slices
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
½ Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
½ Teaspoon Mustard Seeds
1 Onion, thinly sliced
2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
¼ Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
¼ Teaspoon Chili Powder
1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
1-14 Ounce Can Chopped Tomatoes
1/4 Cups Water
1 Tablespoon Chopped Cilantro
1 Teaspoon Garam Masala

Heat oil, fry the cumin and mustard seeds for 2 minutes until they begin to sputter. Add the onion and garlic and fry for 5-6 minutes. Add the ground turmeric, chili powder, coriander, cumin and salt and fry for 2-3 minutes more. Add the zucchini and cook 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, and water; then cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Stir in the fresh cilantro and garam masala. Cook 5 minutes more or until the zucchini are tender.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Birthday Bouillabaisse

I was so excited to be invited to Francisca and David's for my birthday dinner! David is an amazing cook and they have a wonderful house that is so easy to hang out and enjoy yourself in. I secretly want Francisca's glassware collection (it's her grandmothers crystal) but didn't think it was a good idea to put a couple of glasses in my coat pocket, now I wish I would have...just kidding! We started the evening out in the back garden by the fire and enjoyed appetizers and then came inside for the most yummy and amazing Bouillabaisse ever! The evening commenced with Christopher playing the piano, Dave playing the guitar, and my doing what I do best....drinking Prosecco!
Wendy, Christopher, Paul, Nan, Me, David.....Sorry your not in the picture Francisca!

Pear and Brie Baguette, Yummy!

Blue Cheese Tart with a Hazelnut Crust....Amazing, thank you Christopher!

I also want to steal Francisca's dining expands to seat a million people!

How yummy does this look?

Here we go...Dinner is almost ready.

So there is an art to serving Bouillabaisse. You lay a piece of french bread in your bowl, spoon a ladle of broth over the top, cover with the seafood and then top with an aioli....I wanted to pass out it was so good! I actually ate so much I almost didn't have room for desert.

Carrot Cake, do I need to say anything more than CREAM CHEESE FROSTING? Thank you Francisca for indulging me with this most amazing yumminess!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter

This is a pretty involved recipe, but well worth the effort. I usually double the recipe and freeze half the ravioli just in case I need to make a last minute dinner.
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter
1 small to medium butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons dark molasses
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Ravioli dough or 3/4 pound sheet pasta purchased from local Italian delicatessen
Flour, for dusting board
4 tablespoons sweet butter
8 fresh sage leaves
2 ounces Parmesan, for grating

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut squash in 1/2 and scrape out seeds. Spread 1 tablespoon molasses in the cavity. Season with salt and pepper. Place on a cookie sheed and cover with foil. Cook in the oven until very soft, about 1 hour. Let cool slightly and scrape out flesh into large mixing bowl and mash with large whisk or electric mixer.
Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it begins to brown. Immediately remove from heat and add remaining 1 tablespoon molasses and all the vinegar. Add to squash with mascarpone, Parmesan, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper and mix well. The recipe can be made ahead to this point (makes 2 cups filling,) Cover well and refrigerate 4 hours or up to 2 days.
To fill the raviolis: Lay out a sheet of pasta dough on a lightly floured board. Cut into circles with a 3 1/2 inch pastry cutter. Put 1 tablespoon squash filling in the center of 1/2 the rounds using either a pastry bag or a small spoon. Leave a 1/2-inch border all around the filling. Moisten borders with water and top with remaining rounds of dough. Press all the air out and seal firmly by pressing all around with fingertips. Lay raviolis out to dry on a lightly floured board or baking sheet and lightly flour the tops. Repeat until you run out of dough and/or filling. To cook, boil in lightly salted water until tender, about 3 minutes. Reserve 2 ounces of the cooking water.
Uncooked, filled raviolis may be used immediately or frozen for 2 months. Lay them out on sheet pans and place in freezer until frozen. Transfer to plastic bag.

Sage Brown Butter

While raviolis are cooking, in a large saute pan, melt the butter with the sage and a pinch of salt until it foams and becomes light brown. Reserve. On medium heat toss the cooked raviolis in the sage butter then transfer to a serving platter or dishes. Add 2 ounces of the cooking water to the pan and swirl with any residual butter. Spoon the butter sauce over the raviolis, then finish with a generous grating of Parmesan.

*Recipe from Food Network, Michael Chiarello

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pasta with Spinach Pesto Sauce

I was at my friends watching Food Network and immediately had to try this recipe. I love spinach and how could a sauce made with spinach, goat cheese and cream cheese not be amazing? This would be a great dish to whip up for a last minute dinner party; it literally took 10 minutes from start to finish!

Pasta with Spinach Pesto Sauce

10 Ounce Bag Baby Spinach
2 Cloves Garlic, peeled
2 Ounces Goat Cheese, at room temperature
2 Ounces Cream Cheese, at room temperature
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
1 Pound Pasta
2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese

Cook pasta according to directions, reserve some of the pasta water.
While pasta is cooking you can make your sauce. In bowl of food processor mince garlic. Add half of the spinach, goat cheese, cream cheese, salt and pepper and process until smooth and creamy, place in large bowl or serving dish. Roughly chop the remaining spinach and add to bowl. Drain pasta and place into bowl with the pesto sauce and stir to combine, add a little reserved pasta water if sauce it too dry. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fresh Pasta

I never make pasta without semolina flour. The dough is a little tougher to work with, but the nice bite and additional flavor more than compensate.
Fresh Pasta

1 Cup Semolina Flour
1 ½ Cups All-Purpose Flour
4 Eggs
2 Teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Add all ingredients to bowl of food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process about 30 seconds or until dough forms a ball. Knead the dough for a few minutes on a lightly floured surface. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 30-45 minutes.
Process dough through pasta machine, adding additional four as necessary to make desired consistency. Cut pasta dough into desired shape.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Roasted Acorn Squash

I am so excited to finally have acorn squash ready in my garden! This is one of my favorite fall items and I have several recipes I use squash in. It is definitely getting colder here and fall is in their air that means it’s time for some good comfort food. I have tomorrow off and it’s supposed to be rainy and cold, I’m thinking that the first pot-roast of the season is in order.
Roasted Acorn Squash
Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Sprinkle with coarse salt and black pepper, and then drizzle each half with about 1 Tablespoon dark molasses. Place on a baking sheet, cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour, or until tender. If you like your squash a little sweeter, they are good with a sprinkle of brown sugar.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Bread Pudding with Brandy Sauce

This is one of my new favorite desserts and it is so easy to make! I think it is also a wonderful breakfast food, as I have been eating the left-over’s the last couple mornings for breakfast.

Bread Pudding

3 Large Eggs
3 Egg Yolks
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Loaf French Bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
Whisk eggs until blended, add the sugar vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cream. Place bread in medium casserole dish (about 8x8 inch) and pour custard mixture over the bread. Let rest in fridge for 2 hours, or up to overnight. Cover dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

1 Cup Cream
1 Cup Sugar 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Teaspoon Cornstarch
1/4 Cup Brandy

To make the sauce, heat the cream, sugar, cinnamon, and butter in medium saucepan until almost boiling. Mix the brandy and cornstarch together and stir into the cream mixture. Bring to a light boil, and cook until thickened.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dinner At Val's

Isn't this the perfect dining should see the kitchen, it's even more fabulous!

Ok, ok, ok, so I totally staged the rice and ingredients that go in it, what else would you expect?

A new Indian recipe! This was a yummy zucchini with a tomato curry sauce (yes, I still have a million zucchini's in my garden that I am trying to use!)

Jessica made this amazing dessert! It was fresh pears with sugar and cinnamon wrapped in filo dough, sprinkled with powdered sugar. I devoured the rest for breakfast today.

This dinner party was so much fun. We were throwing a baby shower for Jessica, and it turned into a little dinner party as well (I know complete shocker!) I made Indian food, all vegan. We had Tofu Saag, Indian Spiced Eggplant, Zucchini with Tomato Curry Sauce, Basmati Rice, Naan Bread, and Cucumber Riata, Yummy! I was a little nervous substituting soy products for the dairy in all the recipes, but they came out perfect. Val has the ideal kitchen with granite counters, a 6 burner range, and double ovens, I actually used all of them. Gary has the best wine cellar ever and we enjoyed Argyle Champagne, and an amazing '97 Chianti...I think I might move in!
My friend Greg and I are planning on a day of cooking on Wednesday, so get ready for some amazing new recipes!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Dry-Spiced Potatoes with Cauliflower

Yeah, I am finally home!!! Two weeks is a long time to be away from home eating out. I can’t even begin to decide what to make for dinner. I think this is the last Indian dish recipe I have in my files. I am making all of these wonderful recipes tomorrow for my co-workers, but have to change them to vegan recipes…I have my fingers crossed they will turn out the same. I will take some pictures and post on Monday.
Dry-Spiced Potatoes with Cauliflower

1 Pound Potatoes, peeled and washed
1 Pound Cauliflower, broken into florets
½ Teaspoon Vegetable Oil
1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
1 Jalapeno Pepper, finely chopped
1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
¼ Teaspoon Chili Powder
½ Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
1 Teaspoon Salt
Chopped Fresh Cilantro, to garnish

Cut the peeled and washed potatoes into 1 inch cubes, and par-boil in salted boiling water for about 10 minutes, or until just soft. Drain well and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat and fry the cumin seeds for 2 minutes until they begin to sputter. Add the jalapeno pepper and fry for a further 1 minute.

Add the cauliflower florets to the pan, and fry, stirring, for 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes, spices and salt. Cook for a further 7-10 minutes, or until both vegetables are tender. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Coconut Curry Chicken

I know, I know..... I have been drawing this whole Indian food thing out, but I am traveling, so there is no cooking going on right now! I am so lonely without my kitchen, kitty, and friends. I will be back home on Sunday the 10th and plan to cook up a storm all week. I hope you are not getting too bored with these recipes.Speaking of Indian food, I went to an Indian restaurant here in Cincinnati and ordered the Lamb Saag, to compare it to mine. It was very similar in taste, a little thicker sauce than mine, but overall almost identical. Their Naan Bread was horrible though, it was like a thick tortilla fried in grease, not a huge win. Tonight I am going to a restaurant called Trio, I have heard great things about it and can't wait to see what they have to offer! I am so bummed I forgot my camera, so I can't send any pictures of the midwest.
Coconut Curry Chicken

1 Tablespoon Ground Almonds
1 Tablespoon desiccated coconut
1 ½ cups coconut milk
1 ½ Teaspoon ground coriander
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
1 Teaspoon Crushed Garlic
1 ½ Teaspoons Grated Ginger
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cubed
3 Green Cardamom Pods
1 Bay Leaf
1 Dried Red Chili, crushed
2 Tablespoons Fresh Cilantro

Dry roast the almonds and coconut in a wok, until they turn a shade darker. Transfer the mixture to a large glass bowl. Add the coconut milk, ground coriander, chili powder, garlic, ginger and salt to the bowl. Mix together well.

Heat the vegetable oil in the pan and add the chicken cubes, cardamom pods and bay leaf. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes to seal the chicken.

Pour in the coconut mixture and stir well. Lower the heat, add the chili and coriander, then cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the contests from sticking to the pan. Uncover the pan, then stir and cook for 2 minutes more, or until chicken is fully cooked.