Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sun Dried Tomato Butter and Kalamata Tapenade

For our anniversary we ate at Girl & the Goat! The food, the service, the wine, everything was amazing. One of the simplest dishes which simply blew us away was a bread dish. A lovely, oil soaked stecca served with sides of smoked tomato butter and a tapenade. At first glance we couldn't really figure out how the flavors would come together, but on first bite we were sold. It was amazing!

Here's our version of the Girl & the Goat dish. Sun dried tomatoes and a dash of pimenton (smoked paprika) stand in for smoked tomatoes, and the tapenade came out of whatever we had in the fridge. All in all, a really nice accompaniment for a slice of baguette that we've been making frequently this summer!

Sun Dried Tomato Butter
2 sun dried tomatoes packed in oil
Approximately 1.5 Tbsp butter
Dash of pimenton (we've been using spicy but you can use spicy or sweet)
Salt (depending on whether your butter is salted or not)

- In a mini-food processor, process the tomatoes
- Add the butter and spices and process until smooth

Kalamata Tapenade
15-20 kalamata olives, pitted
1 anchovy filet, packed in oil
1 tsp fresh oregano
1 tsp fresh parsley
1 scratch black pepper
dash of olive oil
squeeze of lemon

- On a cutting board pile up the first 5 ingredients and run your knife through several times to chop
- Add a dash of oil and a squeeze of lemon, enough to get all of the ingredients to hang together

Slice your baguette, smear with a little butter and top with the tapenade. Enjoy!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mozzarella & Tomato Salad

There are a million variations on this salad. And really, who needs a recipe? Fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil you've grown, olive oil, salt and pepper and you're done!

I was intrigued by this variation that I saw on Lottie & Doof that called for marinating the mozzarella as well as a couple of surprises, particularly the fennel seeds which were a great touch!I didn't use fresh buffalo mozzarella, we had a package of mozzarella balls on hand, but some fresh farmer's market cherry tomatoes and this dish was a hit.

1/2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly toasted and crushed
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
15 basil leaves, sliced
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
8 oz mozzarella
A handful or so of cherry tomatoes, larger ones sliced in half
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

-In a bowl combine the fennel, lemon zest, basil, oregano and olive oil. Toss in the mozzarella and marinate in the refridgerator at least 30 minutes.

-Before serving, stir in the tomatoes and season with a little salt and pepper.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Beet and Lentil Salad

This salad was taken from Gordon Ramsey's Cooking for Friends. A perfect summer lunch incorporating roasted red and thinly shaved raw chioggia beets which are simply beautiful.

1 Chiogga beet

2-3 Tbsp Olive oil
2-3 Tbsp Sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp shallot, minced
Salt and pepper

- Peel the chioggia beet and using a mandoline, slice into very thin slices.

- Combine the rest of the ingredients and pour over the beets. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 20 minutes

FOR THE SALAD - serves 2

Cooked lentils (I cook a large-ish batch and then use throughout the week)
Mixed greens - spring greens, arugula, mizuna etc.
4 Roasted red beets
Marinated Beet
1-2 ounces of a firm sheep's cheese, diced (I used Carr Valley's Mobay Cheese, which is a goat & sheep blend)

- Cut the roasted beets into quarters if small, cut down further if large

- On each plate spread 2 heaping Tbsp of lentils, 1/2 the roasted beets and 1/2 the cheese. Top with a handful of the greens and 1/2 of the marinated beets.

- Drizzle the marinade on the greens and around the plate.

Beautiful Beets

Beets are one of my favorite vegetables. They can be found and used year round, but fresh beets in summer are truly special, and the greens can be sauteed as a side like you would spinach. I made a salad using both red and chioggia beets. There are few food sights as the pink and white striations on the chioggia beets!

Beets can be eaten raw, roasted or braised. Sliced thinly they are delicious raw. I've played around with braising and roasting beets as well, most recently roasting beets nestled in the coals of a grill while cooking lamb chops.

Here are a few ways to prepare this delicious and beautiful veggie!

- Peel outer layer
- Slice thinly and enjoy

- Preheat the oven to 375
- Wrap beets in tin foil
- Roast for 30-45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a knife
- When cool enough to handle, use a paper towel and rub off the outer layer

- Wrap beets in tin foil
- While the coals are hot and being used to cook something, nestle the tin foil packets in the coals
- Roast for 30-45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a knife. Cooking times might be longer depending on the heat of the coals, it's an experiment in process!

- Rinse greens and discard tough ends of stems
- Heat olive oil in a pan
- Add a couple of cloves of minced garlic
- Add greens to pan and saute until wilted
- Season with salt and pepper and a splash of lemon if desired.

Pasta with Cauliflower

It seems strange posting about a pasta dish while Chicago is caught in the midst of a heatwave! Temps in the 90s all week with highs over 100 a couple of days.

So maybe you need to wait a few days to try this one out. It was a great dish that could work year round. We did the cauliflower in a cast iron skillet on the grill in our quest to do as much of our cooking outside as possible. However, it can be done on the stove top just as easily.

We served this with a grilled lamb chop and side of sauteed beet greens.

1 Pound penne rigate pasta
1 Head cauliflower, broken down into florets
2 Small, red Thai chilies, seeded and sliced*
4 Cloves garlic, minced
Dry, unoaked, white wine (we used an Orvieto)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Handful fresh chopped parsley
1/4 - 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
*Substitute a fresh red chili or crushed red pepper flakes depending on availability

- Bring a large pot of salter water to boil. Cook pasta until al dente and drain.

- On the grill or stove top, heat approx. 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add garlic and chilies and saute until fragrant. Add cauliflower and season with salt. Cook until softened, splashing the pan with white wine as needed to cool the pan and prevent the garlic from browning.

- Combine cauliflower, pasta, parsley, parmesan, and 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add fresh ground pepper to taste.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Black Bean and Quinoa Burgers

A new favorite recipe. I've been trying for a great veggie burger recipe and it finally worked. The burgers held together perfectly and the spice mix is wonderful. I ate mine plain with a dollop of avocado-yogurt on top and a side of shaved zucchini salad.


1 can black beans, drained
3/4 cup of cooked quinoa
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, diced
Olive oil
1/3 cup parsley
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1/4 tsp sambal
1 egg
1/2 - 1 cup bread crumbs

- Saute the red onion in a pan until softened. In a separate pan saute the shiitake mushrooms until they have released their liquid

- In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except the egg and bread crumbs and pulse until combined

- Stir in the egg and the bread crumbs a little at a time until the mixture can loosely hold together when formed into patties

- Heat  oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Form the patties and  place in the hot pan 2 at a time. Cook for 5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 5 minutes. Add more oil as necessary, form the remaining mixture into patties and cook.

Anniversary Eve Dinner

Jason and I recently celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary! We dined at The Girl & the Goat on the actual day, which was an amazing meal that exceeded all expectations. The night before, a Sunday, we followed our usual Sunday tradition of hunkering down to cook a meal together and enjoy al fresco dining on the porch.

Our anniversary eve menu included:

Roasted potatoes
Sauteed beet greens
Ragu of asparagus, garlic scape, and shiitake mushrooms

With the meal we enjoyed a bottle of Brunello we carried back with us from Montalcino on our 1 year anniversary trip back to Tuscany!

Homemade Worcestershire Sauce

I came across this recipe on the America's Test Kitchen website and had to try it! Luckily, I had a 2 week break from classes, giving me some free time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I got myself into a bit of a cooking frenzy one day which was kickstarted by this recipe for homemade worcestershire sauce. I adjusted the cooking times a dash which I'll note in the recipe below. Overall, something emerged which smelled and tasted remarkably like worcestershire sauce! We've already used it in some burger patties to rave reviews. And over the past few weeks the flavors have melded into something even more delicious.

Is it time or cost effective? Not really. Was it fun? Yes. And is it always more satisfy to make a condiment rather than buy it? Of course.


1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground clove
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup white vinegar
½ cup water
½ cup molasses
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 shallots, minced
5 anchovies, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
- Toast pepper, ginger, cinnamon, clove, onion powder, and cayenne in small skillet over medium heat, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer spices to bowl; set aside. Whisk vinegar, water, molasses, fish sauce, and tamarind paste together in second bowl; set aside.
- Heat oil in small saucepan over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add shallots and cook until softened and browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add anchovies, garlic, and toasted spices and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Whisk in vinegar mixture, scrapping up any browned bits. Bring to boil and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 hour.
- Strain sauce through fine-mesh strainer; discard solids. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 2 months.

Lemony Snow Peas and Mixed Mushrooms

Trying to catch up on some recipes that have come into regular rotation recently. This recipe was adapted from the Chatelaine cook book. It works with both snap peas and snow peas and is a great summer side. The menu included:

Moroccan Chicken Thighs
Lemony Snow Peas and Mixed Mushrooms


1 lb snow peas or snap peas
1/2 lb mixed mushrooms (we've been using shiitake, crimini, and hen of the woods)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp butter
1 lemon
pinch garlic powder

- Slice mushrooms (discard stems from shiitake)
- Melt butter in oil in a pan over medium-high heat (this can also be done in a cast iron skillet on the grill for the summer)
- Add mushrooms and a dash of salt. Let cook, mainly undisturbed, so the mushrooms will start to brown
- When mushrooms stop releasing liquid and are browned, add the peas and the juice of half a lemon
- Cook, stirring, until peas are tender crisp and lemon juice is reduced