Monday, June 30, 2008

Sunday Brunch

The Table

The Food Table, Yum!

I'm so excited it's finally summer here in Portland, I didn't think the rain would ever quit. I celebrated by having some friends over for Sunday Brunch! It was absolutely beautiful outside, sunny warm and perfect for eating outdoors. As usual I made way too much food, but I just couldn't decide on what to make, so I made a little bit of everything. We had red potatoes with Herbs de Provence, Biscuits & Sausage Gravy, Pecan Sticky Buns, Bacon, Sausage, Watermelon, and an Eggs Benedict Casserole. Oh, I almost forgot the important part, lots of mimosas! I will post all these recipes very soon.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Basil Pesto

I love pesto so much and have been wanting to make it for a while now. I finally decided to take the plunge and pretend I was making pesto for the army. I went to the Cash & Carry (restaurant supply) store and bought 2 pounds of basil, a gallon of EVOO, and a couple pounds of Parmesan Cheese! I now think I have enough pesto in the freezer for at least 10 dinner parties, how exciting is that? I was going to put spinach in the pesto to help it keep the green color, a great tip I got from Lydia, but completely spaced buying it at the grocery store, so I am keeping my fingers crossed for bright beautiful green pesto sauce anyways. I put a layer of EVOO over the top to help keep the color, so we will see how well that works.
The thing I love most about pesto is the versatility…You can toss is with a little pasta water and pasta to make a delicious dish, add a bit to salad dressing, put it on bruschetta, use it on grilled salmon, add to mac and cheese to spice it up a bit, and who doesn't love a pesto pizza?

Basil Pesto

1 Clove Garlic
¼ Cup Pine Nuts, roasted
½ Teaspoon Salt & Pepper
2 Cups Basil, tightly packed
¾ Cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated

In the bowl of a food processor with the blade attachment add the garlic, pine nuts, salt and pepper and process until finely chopped. Next add the basil and pulse until basil is coarsely chopped. With machine running drizzle in the EVOO, and process until smooth. Now add the parmesan and process just until incorporated.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Linguini Carbonara

This is a recipe that I only make about once a year because I feel immediately guilty after eating it, but it’s just so darn good! I love bacon in anything and could eat it every day, and with the addition of a rich cream sauce and pasta, I’m in heaven. I usually use bacon in my Carbonara because I like the flavor so much, but you can definitely substitute prosciutto as this is the traditional meat in this dish.

Linguini Carbonara

1 Pound Bacon, cut into small pieces
2 Cups Half & Half
6 Egg Yolks
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
8 Ounces Parmesan Cheese, divided
16 Ounces Linguini, or any other pasta of your choice

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta per the instructions on the package. In the mean time brown the bacon until golden and crisp in a large skillet, remove bacon from pan and drain all but 3 tablespoons of the fat. Next add the half & half, egg yolks, salt, and pepper and heat over medium while constantly beating with a whisk. Continue cooking until sauce just starts to simmer and thicken, about 5 minutes. Next add all but a handful of the parmesan cheese and continue stirring until melted and well incorporated. Add the bacon back to the pan and the cooked pasta, toss to coat. If the sauce is too thick just add a few tablespoons pasta water. Serve with a generous serving of grated parmesan cheese over the top.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thai Beef & Asparagus Stir Fry

I came across the most delicious recipe from Darlene on her food blog Blazing Hot Wok and had to try it out. I was immediately in love with this dish. It is so simple to make and super quick too! The sauce has the perfect balance of flavor, sweet, tangy, spicy and the beef and the Asparagus together is pure heaven! I will be putting this recipe in my permanent favorites collection.
Also, she talked about using a cast iron wok, which I had never seen and I ended up picking one up at my local grocery store! I love using cast iron for cooking, and using a cast iron wok was pure heaven, it got hot enough to truly sear everything immediately and stayed screaming hot the entire time! I must admit that my All Clad wok is getting retired for my new $20 wok! Thanks for the recipe and cookware info Darlene!

Thai Beef & Asparagus Stir Fry

1 Pound Beef Chuck Steak, sliced thin
1 Tablespoon Chinese Cooking Wine or Dry Sherry
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
3 Cloves Garlic, roughly minced
1 Bunch Asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 Tablespoons Naam Pridk Phao (chili sauce)
2 Tablespoons Thin Soy Sauce, or regular is fine also
2 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce

In a small bowl, combine the beef, cornstarch and cooking wine. Combine well and set aside.
In another small bowl, make the sauce by combining the naam prik pao, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Mix well to combine ingredients, set aside until needed.
Make sure you have all your ingredients very close because the stir fry goes very quickly. Also, have a small dish of water available as well just in case you need to thin the sauce a bit.
Heat your wok over high heat until very hot. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable or grape seed oil, then the beef followed by the garlic. If your wok is hot enough, your beef will cook very quickly. When the beef is seared, but not cooked through, about 30 seconds or so add the asparagus. Cook for another minute. Add the sauce. It should caramelize very quickly because of the high sugar content. If it gets too thick add a little water. Serve with rice or on its own.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Couscous with Currants & Almonds

I don't make couscous that often but always enjoy it when I do. I made this as part of my Moroccan themed meal last week, and enjoyed every bite! I loved the texture that the almonds lent to the dish and the sweetness of the currants. This is such an easy dish to prepare, the couscous cooks in just a few minutes, so it’s a perfect side dish you could throw together last minute.

Couscous with Currants & Almonds

2 Cups Instant Couscous
4 Cups Chicken Stock
½ Cup Currants
¼ Cup Sliced Almonds
¼ Cup Parsley, chopped

Boil chicken stock, add couscous and currants, remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and add the almonds and parsley, serve hot or at room temperature.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Carrot Salad

I am not a huge carrot fan, but this salad looked too good to pass up, and it was a hit at dinner. I love the simplicity of the salad and the beautiful color of the carrots. The tangy lemon juice, with the earthiness of the cumin, and the sweet carrot just really blended so well together. In the original recipe it called for boiling the carrots and then cutting into pieces, but this just didn’t sound good to me so I opted to use my vegetable peeler and make long ribbons, which were pretty and fun to eat.

Carrot Salad

6 Carrots, peeled
¼ Cup Fresh Lemon Juice (one large lemon)
2 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Salt
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ Cup Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped

Using a mandolin or vegetable cut the carrots into thin ribbons and place in a large bowl. Next mix all other ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Pour dressing over carrots and mix well. Let sit for a couple hours or until flavors have melded with the carrots.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

I saw Bobby Flay make this recipe on the Food Network and had to make it for dinner. The chicken smelled absolutely wonderful and tasted even better. I was unable to find the spice Ras Al-hanut at the grocery but found a recipe online which is below. I have also attached the following information that I found out about the spice, very of interesting if you ask me!
Ras al-hanut, literally "head of the shop" or "best of the shop" is a complex spice blend used in Moroccan cooking, but also found in a similar version in Algeria and a somewhat different one in Tunisia. Spice shops employ experts who concoct the mixture, using up to twenty-seven different spices. But measuring is quite inaccurate because the spices themselves can vary in intensity and flavor depending on how old they are or where they came from.
I ended up serving a carrot salad and couscous with the chicken, which were also recipes from Bobby Flay, I will be posting these soon as they were really delicious too!

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
8 Chicken Thighs
Salt & Pepper
1 Large Yellow Onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Ras Al-hanut*
Large Pinch Saffron, soaked in ¼ cup hot water
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 15-Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes, drained
1 15-Ounce Can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¾ Cup Dried Apricots, sliced
1 Cup Chicken Stock
Chopped Parsley, for garnish

Heat oil in a large dutch oven or a tagine over high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and place into pan skin side down until browned, then turn over and cook for an additional 2 minutes, remove and set aside.
With heat over medium heat, add onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Add the ras al-hanut and cook another 30 seconds. Add the saffron with the soaking liquid, cinnamon stick, tomatoes, chickpeas, apricots, and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Nestle the chicken into the mixture and bring to a simmer. Cover and bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for one hour, or until chicken is tender. Garnish with chopped parsley and a dollop of Harissa Sauce.

Harissa Sauce

½ Cup Sour Cream
1 Tablespoon Siracha

Mix together and serve.

Ras Al-hanut

2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Turmeric
½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
¼ Teaspoon Nutmeg
¼ Teaspoon Cardamom
¼ Teaspoon Cloves

Mix together well and store in a spice jar, makes approximately 2 tablespoons.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Perfect Appletini

I secretly love watching Sex and the City and had the opportunity to go see the movie. Well, being me I had to get friends together before the movie and have Appletini’s. I know I should be embarrassed that I love this over-sugared Jolly-Rancher-esque drink, but I’m not. After we had our cocktails we headed to the theater and watched the movie, which I would highly recommend if you are a fan.

The Perfect Appletini

3 Ounces Vodka
3 Ounces Sour Apple Pucker
Maraschino Cherry

Shake all ingredients very well in a cocktail shaker with lots of ice, pour into a martini glass, and garnish with a maraschino cherry, enjoy!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Spanish Frittata

My friend Amy was in town a couple weeks ago and was talking about a Spanish Frittata that she had seen in one of her magazines and she wanted me to make it for her. I looked a the recipe and immediately started adding to it and substiting different ingredients to make it taste better. Overall it turned out really good and I will make this again. I usually don’t like anything spicy for breakfast, but this hit the spot.

Spanish Frittata

1 Pound Spicy Chorizo Sausage
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Onion, diced
5 Small Red Potatoes, diced
3 Roasted Red Peppers (I used canned), cut into strips
12 Eggs
½ Cup Half&Half
6 Ounces Chevre, crumbled

Cut the sausage into ¼ inch thick pieces and fry in a 12 inch, oven safe, non-stick frying pan until browned, remove and set aside. Drain the grease and add the butter, onion and potato, cook over medium heat until the potatoes and browned and softened, about 15 minutes. In a bowl mix the eggs half&half and the crumbled chevre. Next, evenly distribute the red peppers over the onion and potato mixture, along with the cooked sausage. Pour the egg mixture over the top and place in a 350 degree pre-heated oven and cook until lightly golden brown on top, about 50-60 minutes. Can be served hot or at room temperature.

Monday, June 2, 2008


I love the simplicity of nachos, but don't eat them very often because they are so not good for you. I think what I really love are the condiments. I always serve my nachos with an extra large helping of salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. I made a really good roasted tomato and poblano chili salsa and used that as part of the base for my guacamole. I also used left-over’s from my Cochinita Pibil (pulled pork) from the night before, so it came together quite nicely. The only thing I was missing was a big slushy margarita! I would love to share my salsa recipe, but it is a secret family recipe from my friend Silvia, that I was blessed with and I promised not to give it out!


All I did was layer pork, onion, tomato, black beans, and cheese in layers with chips and bake at 400 degrees until the cheese was melted.