Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sautéed Apple and Brie Crostinis

Of course you can just eat the uncooked apples on top instead, but the sauté makes them warm and tender and remenicent of delicious apple pie. This would actually make a great appetizer to a holiday party or thanksgiving dinner. It's also great if you have a brother who is allergic to raw apples but not cooked, like me. That's an allergy I've never quite understood; like he can have apple pie but he can't eat it in a salad? I wonder what it is about the rawness that he can't have. I guess something get's cooked out in the baking process; but isn't what's baked out still in the pie itself? Who knows! well google probably does...The fact that raw apples is the only food allergy we have in my family is such a blessing though. I got in a car with a girl allergic to peanuts and she could smell it on my breath! Peanut butter does have a pretty distinct smell, but still. I also sat by another coach when I was a counselor on a 10 hour bus ride once only to find out if I had eaten peanuts that day with my hand and he touched my hand (even hours later), he would have had an allergic reaction - and I had brought snacks with peanuts with me on that trip....

After experiences like that and knowing a million and one people with allergies, if I ever open a restaurant, customers should know everything in my food. I don't know how, but they should. I mean I made curry last night and it had flour in it. Did you know a lot of curry's have flour? because I didn't! But anyway I digress; don't know how this got me on a rant about allergies.. but back to the crostinis...

Sautéed Apple and Brie Crostinis 

1 french baguette
1 apple, sliced
wedge of brie (or spreadable)
1 tablespoon of butter
1 teaspoon of sugar
Sea salt or fleur de sel

Preheat the oven to 350. Slice the baguette at an angle to get optimal surface area for the apple slices. (if desired) very lightly brush or dip the slices of bread in melted butter. Toast for about 7 minutes until lightly brown around the edges, watching closely.

Melt the butter and sugar over medium heat. Add the apple slices and sauté on each side for about 2 minutes or until tender and slightly brown on the edges.

Place slices of brie on the hot bread, then place the sautéed apples on top. Sprinkle with fleur de del or sea salt and serve!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Coconut Shrimp Curry with Coconut Rice

I haven't been able to post recently because I have been in Tuscany with my entire family for the past week (my dad and stepmom version of my entire family that is). The food has been incredible and I can't wait to try making things like biscotti when I get home. There is no way I will make it immediately when I get back though. Like I might have to wait a month before I actually crave the stuff. Or italian food in general. I've got five more days to go and I'm about pooped when it comes to carbs. Hence why writing this post is actually torture.

This curry is AMAAAAZINGGGG. I have been dreaming about it ever since I made it. To put it in perspective, I have been in Tuscany eating the finest foods for the past week and nothing i've eaten makes my mouth water like this curry does.I've always liked curry too - like really liked it, but this dish turned like into LOVE. I also never thought I'd ever get sick of Italian food but MAN could I go for some curry or sushi or thai food right now.

...I also just told my dad how much I love this stuff and he scoffed at me. He can't wrap his head around the idea of curry possibly being better than pasta with red sauce - and don't get me wrong, that's the jam too! I've definitely craved a good meatball many-a-time, but after days and days of JUST i-talian fair, nothing sounds less appetizing to me. He said I need to convince him about this curry stuff, and I think this recipe might do the trick...but he also doesn't have the same palette as I do, so that might be kinda tricky. Like going a week without sushi is a sin for me, but he doesn't feel that way at all! Ma momma definitely was the one to get me to try more worldly foods. She eats sushi, Thai, Mediterranean, and Vietnamese on a weekly basis. My dad did get me to eat cow tongue, octopus shaped into salami, and pigeon on this trip though...

Coconut Rice

½ cup coconut milk
1 2/3 cup water
Tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Cover and simmer for 15 minutes 

Coconut Shrimp Curry 

2 pounds of shrimp
1 garlic clove, minced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups chopped onion (one whole onion)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 2/3 cup chicken broth

Can of coconut milk, separated (1/2 cup for rice, about 1 1/3 cup for curry)
2 ½ - 3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
Several dashed of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
roughly chopped cilantro for garnish
Green onion for garnish

Sauté the onions with 4 tablespoons of butter until tender (about 5 minutes) (If you have one, preferably use a wok for this. If not use a large pot)

In a separate skillet, lightly sauté the minced garlic in a tablespoon of butter and then add the shrimp. Cook about 2 minutes on each side. It’s important to not overcook the shrimp because they will cook a little more in the curry.

Add the flour and curry and stir until smooth.

Mix the coconut milk and chicken broth in a separate bowl or large measuring cup and add to the onion mixture in increments until absorbed and thickened - about 4 increments for about 20 minutes

Stir in the lemon juice, sugar, salt and ginger and stir and let simmer for a minute or two. Then add the cooked shrimp and let simmer for several minutes more so the shrimp warm up in the curry. 

Serve over rice with chopped cilantro and green onions as garnish. These garnishes are optional, but I recommend them. Chopped peanuts are also recommended but we didn’t have any – could add a nice crunchy texture so I’m gonna try and remember to buy some next time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies

I'm so glad I finally got around to making these cookies because they are so pretty. My parents always make fun of me because it seems that whenever I bake something - I've been wanting to make it for "ages". But this time I'm not being the slightest bit dramatic when I say I've been wanting to make these cookies for a very long time. I think I have printed out the recipe every christmas since high school and just never got around to making them. They are pretty labor intensive as far as cookies go and they require a couple ingredients you don't normally have hanging around the house like pecans or heavy whipping cream. But this time I just happened to have every single ingredient that I needed.

I had made caramelitas for my mom because she buys them a lot from whole foods and I thought it would be worth taking a shot at homemade. I nailed it up until I forgot to turn off the burner that I was slow melting the caramel on and subsequently burned a solid circle at the bottom of them when I was supposed to be letting them cool. So dumb. So so dumb. Some of them were salvageable but I was so annoyed about the situation that I didn't bother taking pictures. I also bought two bags of the caramels bc I had never made them before so I wanted to make sure I had enough for the recipe, or if I made a stupid mistake. Turns out I DID make a stupid mistake but I really didn't need to make them again.

Thus, with my fathers overly stocked freezer full of pecans due to excessive purchases during the thanksgiving holidays, I had all the ingredients I needed to make these guys. I didn't have the shortening or coconut oil because I left my shortening at school and my mom couldn't find her coconut oil, but those turned out to be optional. And who is going to buy a big tub of something when you only need one teaspoon anyway.

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies 

For the Cookies:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp

1/3 cup granulated sugar
 (can also use all granulated)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg, separated

2 tablespoons milk

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1-cup pecans, finely crushed/chopped

For the Caramel:
16 unwrapped caramel squares

3 tablespoons whipping cream

Fleur de sel or other flaked sea salt

For the Chocolate Drizzle:

1/2 cup semi-sweet (or milk) chocolate chips

1-teaspoon coconut oil or shortening, optional

My cocoa powder is dark so to sweeten them up I used milk chocolate for the drizzle. Next time I will try and find regular cocoa powder because I thought they were just a little too dark.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Keep the egg white in a small dish in the fridge until ready to use. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Then add the egg yolk, vanilla and milk. Then gradually add the flour dry ingredients to the wet until just combined. Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350. Whisk the egg white until foamy. Using a melon baller, roll two scoops together (or shape them into 1 inch balls – but the melon baller kept them consistent in shape and size) Dip the dough ball into the whites, and then roll into the pecans until completely coated. With your thumb, press down gently in the center to get the indentation going (will be further pressed after baking). Place on tin foil or silpat.

Bake for 12 minutes. When you remove the cookies from the oven, press down into the previous indentation with a teaspoon and then let cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling, heat the caramels and cream over very low heat until completely melted. When the cookies are cool and the caramel is no longer piping hot, use the teaspoon to pour the caramel into the cookies. Let cool completely.

Melt the chocolate however you prefer. Since I used milk chocolate (and also Hershey – aka not the highest quality), the microwave was quick and easy.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Mesclun Salad with Homemade Honey Roasted Almonds and Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Yuuummmm. I was mmmm mmm mmm-ing the entire time I was eating this salad. It's pretty much my perfect salad (other than say a beet salad). But I find something like this next to impossible to resist on a menu. I also find that most of the time when I make my own vinaigrette, there is something off with the flavors. Like it tastes good plain, but then I mix all the goods together and it just doesn't mesh. This is NOT the case with this salad. Some might find this salad too sweet bc of the sugar from the nuts and the maple syrup, but I thought it was the jam. My mouth is watering just thinking about it...and it's a salad....My dad and my step mom absolutely loved it too and my mom ate the leftovers directly from the salad bowl at dinner. 

Oh man check out this close up...yeah thats right. A juicy burger couldn't make my mouth water more...maybe not even a breakfast sandwich....blame it on the summer heat...or the goat cheese. I can't resist goat cheese. I just can't. 

Mesclun Salad 
about 4 sliced strawberries
1/3 cup blueberries
full bag (or more) of garden blend greens
about a ¼ cup honey goat cheese, crumbled (or regular, but I prefer the honey)
about a ¼ cup of honey roasted almonds
Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette 

Depending on the quality of your ingredients, you may want to try one or the other versions of the vinaigrette. My dad tends to have super fancy pants oils and vinegar's that are old and have subtler or stronger flavors. If that sounds more like your pantry - use this version

higher quality ingredients:
1 tablespoon good quality maple syrup
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon aged red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste

more everyday ingredients: 
1 tablespoon good quality maple syrup
1 tablespoon balsamic
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste

The first time I made this vinaigrette I was user more everyday ingredients, so the vinegar flavor was strong enough from the balsamic. When I made it again at my dads house like I did the first, it tasted very flat, so the addition of the red wine vinegar gave it just the right amount of zing. The higher quality/aged ingredients were thicker and almost looked like more of a dressing than a vinaigrette before I added the rwv (if you don't know what kind of ingredients you have)

Honey Roasted Almonds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil 
¼ cup of granulated sugar 

¼  teaspoon of salt 

Bake the almonds on a cookie sheet at 350 for about 7 minutes or until lightly toasted. Heat the honey, oil and water in a sauce pan. When the pecans are finished toasted, pour them into the pan and stir until the pecans have absorbed all of the liquid. Pour the sugar and salt over the pecans and toss until fully coated. Spread out onto a cookie sheet and let dry for at least 30 minutes before breaking apart.