Sunday, March 22, 2009

Getting Granola

Sundays tend to be maintenance and prep days for the week. You know, getting all of that day to day crap out of the way and time to find out what the counter items will be.

This week I decided to go with granola bars. I've been modifying a recipe I saw years ago on Good Eats (I do love me some Alton, but then again who doesn't?)

8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, approximately 2 cups
1 1/2 ounces wheat germ, approximately 1/2 cup
6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup
1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup packed
1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries - my regulars prefer the combo of apricots and cranberries.

Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the oats and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes.

I've found the easiest way to complete this sticky task is with some plastic wrap. Unfurl a piece large enough to cover the pan and press down with even pressure.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. I flip out the granola mixture onto a cookie rack for faster drying time and it also prevents additional cooking from the pan.

Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ginger's Good For You!

A good of friend came in the other day and started saying that she wasn't feeling that hot, like she's had a brutal headache for days and days. I asked what the deal was and she wasn't sure just that she didn't feel right and was a bit sensitive to light.

Sounded like a migraine or the verge of one to me so I started looking up things that could help with the pain. Oddly enough the first thing that popped up was ginger! I knew that it helped get rid of motion sickness but who know that this magical root was good for the soul crushing woe of the migraine.

Aside from gnawing on the root I was trying to find the fastest way to make this cure-all palatable and functional and that's when I decided to roll with a seasonal soup! Carrots and Ginger.

Remember when you were a kid and folks said that carrots were good for your eyes? Well she said that her eyes hurt and carrots help so why not kill two birds with one soup?

Here is what I rocked out...


* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 cup diced onions
* 1/2 cup diced celery
* 1/4 cup minced ginger
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
* 4 to 6 cups chicken stock
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
* 1 bay leaf
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 1/4 cup sour cream
* Chopped chives, for garnish


Set a 4-quart stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the butter and olive oil to the pot. Once the butter is melted, place the onions and celery in the pot. Sweat the vegetables until the onions are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic to the pot and cook for 30 seconds. Place all of the carrots in the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are lightly caramelized and start to soften, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the stock, salt, pepper and bay leaf to the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook the soup until the carrots are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf from the pot and using an immersion blender puree the soup directly in the pot or in batches in a bar blender. Adjust the seasoning, add the heavy cream to the pot.

To serve, garnish with 1 tablespoon of sour cream per serving and a sprinkling of fresh chives.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Special of the Day - Sweet, Hard-Boiled Risotto

I was talking to one of my regulars today and wondered if they wouldn't mind me jumping off the reservation and doing something surprisingly simple. It had been one of those days when you don't know what to make for the folks and you stand there looking at what's around and you know that if you tried to be "new and innovative" that it would fail like pug trying to not eat chocolate?

Well thankfully I got a "yeah sure whatever" response and got a chance to shake my head again and look freshly at the fridge and cupboards. What was there and what would fit my mood...there wasn't much left as we'd been throwing together some mean dishes lately -- tamales, red and bell pepper tofu tosses, asparagus cheese bombs, etc, and I felt that I should go the opposite way entirely.

I thought breakfast for dinner! Chicken and Mexican Cheese omelets....naw, but chicken and something I was sure. Then I glanced up and saw that tin of rice and it clicked. Risotto with a hard boiled egg. It felt like I would be missing something and then I tried thinking like a chicken...what would a chicken want with this dish? Sweet corn!

That was it and now I just had to throw it all together as I was sure that the egg would match the creaminess of the non dairy risotto and the sweet corn kernels would be a wonderful compliment to the soft saltiness.

Suffice it to say it was a success. Sometimes simple is really the way to go.

Let's get down to the process no?

1 cup risotto rice
3 cups chicken broth (you can substitute veggie just as easily)
2 tbls butter (unsalted)
2 tbls Olive Oil
1-2 cloves of garlic (diced)
1 egg
1 can of sweet corn

Dice the garlic and toss in a medium sized sauce pan with the olive oil and butter. Saute over a medium heat. Just as the garlic pieces start to turn lightly brown, pour in the risotto rice.

Reduce the heat to low and cook the rice for four to five minutes. Just as the rice becomes translucent, pour half a cup of the broth into the sauce pan and begin slowly stirring. Once the broth is absorbed, pour another half cup in.

Continue this process of stirring and half cup of broth at a time until all of the broth is gone. (Should take ~30 minutes)

In the meantime, hard boil your egg and get your can of corn open. Drain the corn if needed and slice the egg thinly for plating.

Serve immediately or cover and let rest.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Butternut Squash, Corn, Feta and Cheddar Tart


85g cold butter, chopped into 1cm-ish cubes
1 cup flour, plus more for dusting/incorporating later
1/2 cup wheatgerm
4Tbs approx ice water, cold buttermilk, or cold milk.
1/2tsp salt if using unsalted butter

Rub the butter and flour and wheatgerm together in a medium sized bowl, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the cold water, buttermilk, or milk, and still using the pastry cutter or your fingers, half mix and half knead the mixture until it comes together to form a dough. Just keep adding milk/water until you feel some firmness in the dough.

Ok are you ready to try to get this bad boy into your tart pan? If yes then remember to lightly grease it first and then place the ball of ball lovingly into the center and begin working it out evenly to the edges.

One might be inclined to use a grease spatula, but believe me your hands are the best utensil you have at your disposal.

**But you can just as easily use a pre-made crust or break out some puff pasrty in a tin as well.


One medium sized butternut squash, peeled, and roughly chopped
1/2 a medium onion, chopped roughly
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
pinch fresh oregano
1 cup of corn - I prefer one can of sweet summer corn
100g feta cheese, about one containter of Athena feta
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
1/2 cup grated cheese
salt and pepper
cooking oil

Heat a medium sized non stick pan on medium heat with about a Tablespoon of oil, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Cook your onions until they begin to turn translucent. Add squash, cover, and let cook for about 2 minutes. Uncover, flip and re-cover the pan, letting the squash cook for another 2-3 minutes. Uncover, and let all the steam evaporate, then add garlic and corn, and stir occasionally. The squash should eventually have some golden flecks on it. Here's the good stuff as the squash and onion start to carmelize.

Once it is easily mashable with your spatula, remove from heat, and add oregano if you want. Mix through, and then let cool. Preheat oven to 400F, with a rack in the middle or if using the middle rack for roast potatoes, arrange a rack on the bottom for the tart.


There are two options for you here: 1) you can place the items as there are into the crust, or 2) place all of the mixture into a food processor or use a hand/stick mixer to blend into a paste and then pour into the crust. Either way you choose, you can now add the feta, parmesan and third cheese. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper over. Bake for 25 or until cheese is golden brown.

Serve with a fresh leafy salad or roast potatoes.

*not the best photo but hey you're here for the recipes right?

Turkey Rolls

A very simple recipe for party appetizers

1 tbsp of butter
1 onion, finely chopped (you can also use shallots if you like)
1 pound turkey
1-3 mixed herbs (I used oregon, tarragon, sage, thyme and marjoram and pepper corns and blend in a food processor)
1 ounce of ground pistachio (easiest to peel them and toss them in a food processor)
12 ounces or One package of puff pastry (wait for this to completely thaw)
4-6 tbsp of Parmesean
salt and pepper
1 egg for glazing

Melt butter and slowly cook onions in frying pan until onions are softened and set aside. It should take around five mintues for this. Transfer to a bowl and mix in turkey meat, nuts and herbs. Season with salt and pepper with spoon until completely mixed.

Break up mixture into four equally sized rolls or strips -- maybe ten to twelve inches in length.

On a lightly floured surface, unroll the puff pastry and cut into four sections for the meat that you just rolled out. Place the meat in the center of the puff pastry sections and then sprinkle Parmesan over the top.

Roll one side of the pastry over the meat and then lightly rub the egg wash on one side of the pastry and then roll the other side over to seal the meat mixture in. Place the closed roll seam side down to seal completely. Glaze the top of the puff pastry strips with egg.

Preheat your oven to 425. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Cut the puff pastry strips into inch sections and place on sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until puff pastry is crisp and brown. They will raise up a bit, don't worry.

Serve warm or let cool -- both are damn tasty.