Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Nana's Banana Bread

Isn't it funny how the moment when bananas look almost unedible is the moment that they become perfect for banana bread. Seriously, it's like that moment when they turn completely black, and they are just about to give off swarms of fruit flies, that they become the perfect ripeness for banana bread. This is another relic from Nana's recipe book. I grew up on this banana bread recipe and I still love making it, and they aroma it gives off through the house.

I also want to thank Emily who works at America's Test Kitchen and Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen for sending me two new carrot cake recipes. I will surely try both of them because they are so completely different from each other. Emily's is a tropical carrot cake, and Patricia's is a Brazilian Style carrot cake, which seems like worlds more fun than a Brazilian Style bikini wax. I'm just saying, it probably is.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Farfalle with Pistachio Cream Sauce

Every year for Christmas CB gets bags upon bags of pistachios. I think one day CB said in passing to my mom or nana or whoever, "yeah I love pistachios" and this is what that comment has morphed into, pounds and pounds of pistachios forced on him during the holiday season. It's been almost three months since Christmas and we still have bags we haven't opened yet. So I began the task of trying to find the easiest way of using the pistachios up, and came across this great recipe on Nicole's website Pinch My Salt. I can't tell you how insanely jealous I am of Nicole, she lives in Sicily, and her ambitious goal for 2007 is to write her own cookbook. If her blog is any indication of her talent, she's well on her way.

Recipe: Farfalle with Pistachio Cream Sauce
8 oz. farfalle or penne pasta

1/2 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
1/4 C. ground pistachio (unsalted nuts, ground in a blender or food processor)
2 T. olive oil (plus a little extra)
1/2 - 3/4 C. heavy cream (according to taste)
crushed red pepper
salt and fresh ground black pepper

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil.

  2. In the meantime, chop onion and grind the pistachios until the pieces are very small but not completely uniform.

  3. Add pasta to water and boil according to package directions.

  4. While pasta is cooking, begin sauce:

  5. Heat olive oil in a medium sauté pan, add onion and cook until translucent but not browned.
    Add pistachios and enough oil to moisten them (if needed). It should be a paste-like consistency.

  6. Cook, stirring, over medium heat for about one minute (do not let the pistachios take on any color).

  7. Add cream, stir until heated through, then remove from heat.

  8. Add crushed red pepper, black pepper and plenty of salt to taste.

  9. When pasta is al dente, drain well then add to the sauté pan with the sauce. Toss well to coat and serve immediately with lots of fresh grated parmigiano reggiano.
I have not altered Nicole's recipe nor her directions, and I thank her heartily for letting me use her recipe in my blog. Enjoy!

Rating = So Good

No Chocolate for 40 Days and 40 Nights

That's my Jesus promise this year. No chocolate chip cookies, no hot cocoa, no brownies, no truffles, no chocolate cake - and my birthday is two weeks away! (that's ok, carrot cake is my favorite cake) anyone got a great recipe for carrot cake?

Last year I gave up bread. That was in two words twice. FRIGGIN HARD. Damn It.

I briefly, oh, ever so briefly thought about giving up alcohol for Lent, but upon deep introspection realized that was a terrible idea. I mean, maybe not as terrible as shaving my head and getting two tatoos in one night, but terrible none the less, and probably laced with unforseen ramifications.

So that's it. Be preapred for posts that will all be SANS CHOCOLATE for 40 days people.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bourbon Pecan Smashed Sweet Potatoes

As is evident by my last few postings, I seem to have a never ending supply of pecans and also a bottomless bottle of bourbon hanging around the house. I just can't seem to get away from the nut and alcohol laced recipes. This particular recipe is from Rachael Ray, who could possibly be the most annoying person on the planet. I used to be able to watch her show, but honestly the last few times I tried, I found myself foaming at the mouth within a few seconds. She just does not shut up, she talks and talks for what seems like forever, and then you realize she hasn't taken a breath in about 6 minutes and you wonder how she hasn't turned blue yet from lack of inhilation. And then there are those rumors about her husband and a hooker and a foot fetish, good god, no wonder Miss Ray has started lacing her mashed potatoes with bourbon, wouldn't you. Well, I can see her excuse, but what's mine? Hmm.

Recipe: Ray Ray's Thanksgiving in a Flash

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans, a couple of handfuls
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 ounces bourbon
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add sweet potatoes and cook 12 to 15 minutes until very tender. Drain sweet potatoes in a colander. Return pan to medium heat. Add butter to the pan. When butter melts, add nuts and toast for 2 minutes. Add sugar and let it bubble. Add bourbon and cook out alcohol, 1 minute. Add orange juice and the cooked sweet potatoes. Smash with a masher and season the sweet potatoes with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Rating = Damn Good

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Chocolate Cocoa Buttermilk Cake with Brown Sugar Bourbon Pecan Sauce

As a rule CB and I do not celebrate Valentine's Day, no chocolates, flowers, dinner reservations, cards, nothing. I just hate Valentines day. I get very excited about certain holidays, Halloween, Christmas, Fourth of July, in all honesty if Valentine's Day fell off the calendar I'd be more than happy; elated even. I'm sure if you dig deep into the cockles of my heart you would find serious scaring episodes that have turned me against this God Forsaken Hallmark Holiday, but I just find it so trite. It's my personal opinion on the holiday, and I am friends with plenty of people who truly embrace this holiday with open arms, get it open arms, oh geesh I'm a fucking comedian.

Anywho, last night CB and I just ate dinner and I made this dessert, because I had some buttermilk left over from when I made the turkey tamale with the cornbread crust. I did a search on the food network for buttermilk and this was the only dessert that popped up. I had all the ingredients on hand, so this is what I made. I still have a bit of buttermilk left over if anyone has any other good recipes to finish it up I'd be interested in trying something else.

This is an Emeril recipe and I do highly recommend it because it is really easy and delicious. I'm sure it would pair well with a nice port too.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs

Topping, recipe follows Vanilla ice cream, accompaniment
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and lightly flour an 8-cup loaf pan (10 by 5 by 3), knocking out the excess flour.
Into a large bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, molasses, and vanilla.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar, beating about 3 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after the addition of each. Alternating, add the wet and dry ingredients in 3 additions each, mixing just until combined and being careful not to overwork.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is risen and just set and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. (If cake gets too brown, tent it with foil).

Cool in the pan 40 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Slice cake into pieces, top with pecan topping, and serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

1 cup pecan halves
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons bourbon

In a saucepan, combine the ingredients, and simmer until thick. Serve over top of cake.

Rating = So God Damn Good

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Orange Almond Biscotti

Seriously, I should just open a bake shop, and maybe while I'm at it, invest in a store that only sells pants with elastic waist bands, because that's what I'm going to need if I keep eating all of these delicious baked goods that I obviously cannot stop baking. There should be an off switch for baking and eating all of these delicious goodies, but you know what, there isn't, or if there is, I can't seem to find it amongst all the cookies.

This recipe comes from CB's cousin Dina, a glorious Italian woman who seems to know how to cook and bake everything. She's a menace in the kitchen and an amazing person to know, she's one of the few in-laws that I have that I am so glad I can now call mi familia.

2 1/4 C all purpose four
1 1/4 C sugar
1 pinch salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 C sliced almonds
1 Tbsp orange zest
3 eggs beaten
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp almond extract

Grease and flour baking sheet. Preheat oven to 350.

Ina large bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, almonds and orange zest. Make a well in the center and add eggs, oil and almond extract. Stir or mix by hand until mixture forms a ball. Seperate dough into two pieces and roll each one into a log about 2 ilong wide. Place logs onto prepared baking sheet amnd flatten so they are about 3/4 inch thick. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Coll slightly and remove from baking sheets slice diagonally into 1/2 inch slices with a serrated knife. Set cookies on their side back onto cookie sheet and bake 10-15 minutes more flipping halfway through.

Rating = So Damn Good

Monday, February 12, 2007

Turkey Tamale Pot Pie (Cooking Light)

After spending the past two nights eating out, I was craving a home cooked meal. I had dog-eared this recipe in the October 2006 issue of cooking light. It really was quite easy to put together, and because of the absence of cheese which usually dominates dishes of this nature, it's actually very low in fat and calories. I recommend it for anyone that wants a satisfying low fat meal.

Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground turkey breast
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425°.

To prepare filling, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and turkey; cook 5 minutes or until turkey loses its pink color. Add chili powder, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, tomatoes, and beans; cook 3 minutes. Spoon turkey mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

To prepare topping, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Combine buttermilk and egg; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moist. Spread cornmeal mixture evenly over turkey mixture. Bake at 425° for 18 minutes or until topping is golden.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 3/4 cups)

CALORIES 329(8% from fat); FAT 3g (sat 0.9g,mono 0.5g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 27.6g; CHOLESTEROL 67mg; CALCIUM 120mg; SODIUM 705mg; FIBER 6.8g; IRON 2.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 47.6g

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Crockpot Pork Cooked in Hard Cider

Really, can a recipe be that bad when it calls for almost two bottles of this?

This recipe came from the Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook that I got just before Christmas. I hate beer, hate it, hate it, hate it. The trade off is, that I like everything else. Due to my loathesome attitude toward beer, I always have hard cider in the refrigerator, it looks like beer and comes in a beer bottle, heck it's almost beer. This recipe was created by Susie Dymoke from Sur La Table cooking school in Los Gatos. After Sur La Table she became manager of LaCucina Mugnaini maker of exquisite outdoor ovens. She is now a wood fired cooking expert who teaches classes around the country.

The water chestnuts although optional in the recipe add a nice crunch to the otherwise soft dish. The cider really infuses the whole dish so be sure to use hard cider and try to buy the stuff you enjoy drinking alone, that's usually a good decider as to whether or not you will like the way it tastes in a dish, if you like the way it drinks, you will probably like the way it cooks.

1 large yellow onion
1 large tart cooking apple such as Granny Smith or pippin peeled cored and roughly cut into 1 inch cubes
1 8oz can water chestnuts drained and cut in half
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 tsp salt
7 grinds black pepper
1 1/2 tbs rubbed sage
2 cups dry hard cider
long grain rice or egg noodles for serving

1. coat slow cooker with non stick cooking spray. Layer onion, apple, water chestnuts, and pork in the cooker, sprinkle with salt and pepper and sage. Pour the cider over all. Turn to high for 20 minutes if you have time to heat through.

2. cover and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours

3. serve in shallow soup bowls with long grain rice or egg noodles.

Rating = Damn Good

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Portuguese Fish Stew

This is a recipe that I adapted from Jasper White's original recipe. I love chowder, but I don't like the hip and ass expanding calorie content of cream based soups, so I decided to try and make a low fat, broth and tomato based fish chowder that would be easier on the waist line and not cause me to have to lay on the bed to button up my jeans after a few servings. I think this was a success, it was flavorful, chock full of fish, sausage (low fat turkey kielbasa) and shrimp. The original recipe called for chorizo or sausage, but I opted for the lower fat turkey kielbasa, I also used low fat and low sodium chicken stock instead of fish stock, and added the shrimp as a low calorie addition that makes the stew a little more hearty and chunky. CB even said - "there's a lot goin' on in this stew." Yep, there sure is. This is one of the recipes that I must say that you have to try - it was easy to throw together and was perfect for the arctic ASS BITING cold that gripped the City last night. Nothing like some stew and a loaf of crusty bread on freezing fucking winter's night.

Jaseper White's Portugues Fish Stew (with minor additions and substitutions)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 dried bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (1 tablespoon)
2 medium onions (14 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 green bell pepper (6 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 pounds Yukon Gold, Maine, PEI, or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/3 inch thick
4 cups Fish Stock, Chicken Stock, or water (as a last resort)

(I used low fa, low sodium chicken broth)
2 cups canned whole tomatoes in juice (from a 28-ounce can), cut into 1/2-inch dice (measured with their juice)
6 ounces spicy chourico or andouille sausage, casing removed and sliced 1/4 inch thick

(I used low fat turkey kielbasa)
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds skinless silver hake, cod, haddock, or bass fillets, pinbones removed

10 sprigs fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems finely chopped (1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley (for garnish)

Heat a 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat and add the olive oil and bay leaves. As soon as the bay leaves turn brown, add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 30 seconds or until it is golden. Add the onions, bell pepper, and allspice and saute, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, until the onions and peppers are softened but not browned.

Add the potatoes and stock; if the stock doesn't cover the potatoes, add just enough water to cover them. Turn up the heat, bring to a boil, cover, and cook the potatoes vigorously for about 10 minutes, until they are soft on the outside but still firm in the center.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the tomatoes and sausage, and simmer for 5 minutes. Season the mixture assertively with salt and pepper (you want to almost overseason the chowder at this point, to avoid having to stir it much once the fish is added).

Add the whole fillets and cook for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat, gently stir in the cilantro, and allow the chowder to sit for 10 minutes. (The fish will finish cooking during this time.) If you are not serving the chowder within the hour, let it cool a bit, then refrigerate; cover the chowder after it has chilled completely. Otherwise, let it sit for up to an hour at room temperature, allowing the flavors to meld.

When ready to serve, reheat the chowder over low heat, don't let it boil. Use a slotted spoon to mound the chunks of hake, the chourico, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes in the center of large soup plates or shallow bowls, and ladle the savory tomato broth over. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

Rating = So Damn Good

Friday, February 02, 2007

Oatmeal Scones...CB's new favorite

I didn't feel like working yesterday, so I spent the afternoon lunch hour looking for a new recipe to test out when I got home. I found it on the Quaker Oatmeal website in the form of yet another scone recipe. I should open up a scone bakery, it's seems to be all I make lately. This was one of the more simple scone recipes I have tried, and just let me say in no uncertain terms...they kick ass. Mmm Mmm Goodness. I suggest if you have these ingredients laying around the house that you make them when you get the chance, I think it took me a total of 40 minutes from start to eating.


2 C all purpose flour
1 C oats
1/4 C plus 2Tbs sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbs butter chilled and cut into pieces
3/4 C milk
1 egg lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C toasted pecans
2 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 C powdered sugar
3 to 4 tsp milk or orange juice
Heat oven to 425°F. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.

In large bowl, combine flour, oats, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, baking powder and salt; mix well. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In small bowl, combine milk, egg and vanilla; blend well. Add to dry ingredients all at once; stir with fork or rubber spatula until dry ingredients are moistened. In small bowl, combine remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar with the pecans and cinnamon; mix well. Sprinkle evenly over dough in bowl; gently stir batter to swirl in cinnamon mixture (Do not blend completely.) Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire rack; cool 5 minutes. In small bowl, combine powdered sugar and enough orange juice for desired consistency; mix until smooth. Drizzle over top of warm scones. Serve warm.

Rating = So Damn Good