But Sugar is Sweeter

Main Dish

Fresh Tomato Ricotta Tarte with Garlic Herb Crust

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In some parts of the country, it might be a little late for this post; but here in Ohio, we’re still trying to find ways to enjoy fresh garden tomatoes before the first frost hits.  Hopefully that first frost will not present itself as 2 inches of snow in the middle of October (like it decided to last year).  After the infamous 2013-2014 winter, I’d be fine waiting until Christmas Day for snow, and then having winter be over.  For now, I’m still revealing in the fact that it’s  beautiful, a perfect 70 degrees, with the garden is still going strong.

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I felt like being a bit adventurous (per usual) and made ricotta cheese from scratch for this recipe.  It was pretty each- basically just heat milk, add lemon juice and vinegar, and then strain over cheese cloth for about 10 minutes.  It was fun to try, but it did take this from being an easy weeknight meal to kind of a production with multiple things to clean up.  I made the dough for the crust a day in advance, so this was pretty simple when it came to putting together.  It really highlights the tomatoes, and lets you hang onto that last bit of summer.  Better get on it before it becomes a winter wonderland around here!

Fresh Tomato and Ricotta Tarte with Garlic Herb Crust

Serves 6

For the crust: 

  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1¼ cups all purpose flour
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 8 tbsp.  cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tbsp. ice cold water

For the filling: 

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 tbsp. milk, if needed
  • 2 large ripe heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Directions

1) To make the crust, combine the garlic and basil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely minced, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add in the flour and salt and pepper to taste, and pulse again to combine. (If you don’t have a food processor, just mince the garlic and basil as well as you can and then stir into the flour mixture. It will work just fine.) Add in the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal and the largest butter pieces are the size of peas. Add in the water and pulse just until the dough comes together. Remove from the bowl, form into a disc and cover with plastic wrap. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill 1-2 hours, until firm.  This can also be done in 1-2 days in advance.

2) Transfer the chilled dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out into a flat round sheet about 12 inches in diameter, or large enough to fully line a 9-inch pie plate. Transfer to the pie plate, trimming away any excess at the edges and crimping the dough to create a fluted edge. Transfer the pie plate to the freezer and chill 15-20 minutes, until firm.

3) Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Line the chilled pie shell with aluminum foil, making sure all edges of the crust are fully covered. Fill the pie shell with baking beads if available to weigh the crust down (dry beans or rice also work). Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and baking beads, return the pie shell to the oven and continue to bake until the crust is golden and fully set, about 10-12 minutes more. Transfer the pie plate to a wire rack and let the crust cool completely.

4) In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, garlic, and herbs.  Stir together until evenly combined.  To give the ricotta a smoother texture (if needed), stir in 3-4 tablespoons of milk until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the ricotta into the pie shell in an even layer. Layer the tomato slices on top of the ricotta, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with additional minced basil. Slice with a sharp knife and serve immediately.

Source: Annie’s Eats

 

 

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Beef Bourguignonne

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This French delicacy, labled by Julia Child as “certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man”,  comes to you from no other than my very own Mom.  That’s right, the lady who we tease about being “Irish”, and who would much prefer to set the table then make the food, made Beef Bourguignonne.  In fact, this isn’t the first time she has made it – I would go so far as to call this one of my mom’s signature dishes.  I can remember coming home from college to this meal.  It instantly became my perfect comfort food.  After a long week on a new service, mom invited us over for Sunday dinner, and this was the absolute perfect compliment to a snowy and cold February day.

At first I figured that because it came from a crock pot, it must be easy…. Don’t be fooled –  this recipe is actually quite a bit of work because everything has to be browned before slow cooking.   However, it’s great for company because all the work can be done early morning and then you can relax the rest of the day and actually visit with your guests.  It is a stick to your ribs kind of meal that will certainly get you through this seemingly endless winter.  

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Beef Bourguignonne

Serves 8-10

  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 5 lbs. beef stew meat, in 1 inch pieces
  • salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 4 bacon slices, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 5-7 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 yellow onions, slices 1/4 inch thick
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 fresh tyme springs
  • 6 fresh parsley sprigs
  • 1 lb. white button mushrooms, halved
  • 1 bottle Pinot Noir (from Burgundy if you want to be fancy)
  • 1 Tbs. beef demi-glace
  • Steamed baby red potatoes (about 4 per person)

Place the flour in a large bowl. Season the beef with salt and pepper, add to the flour and stir to coat evenly. Transfer to a plate, shaking off the excess flour.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until almost smoking. Working in batches, brown the beef on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a slow cooker.Add the bacon, carrots, onions and garlic to the sauté pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker along with the bay leaves, thyme, parsley and mushrooms.

Off the heat, pour the wine into the sauté pan and set over medium-high heat. Whisk in the demi-glace and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Add to the slow cooker, cover and cook until the meat is fork tender, 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Discard the bay leaves.

Transfer the beef bourguignonne to a platter and serve with steamed potatoes. Serves 10.


Apple, Ham and White Cheddar Panini

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Every once in a while I see a recipe and immediately feel the need to make it that very same day.  This would be one of those recipes.  With an absolutely beautiful September behind us, and what I’m hoping will be an even more beautiful October ahead, I couldn’t pass up a recipe that so perfectly matched this fall weather.  It helps that there’s only about 5 ingredients and  that from start to finish this only took about 20 minutes.  Residency + a long commute + triathlons + general career/life crises have been taking up pretty much all my time, and blogging hasn’t been at the top of my list…but truth be told, I miss it!

You know this sandwich must be pretty great, considering it made me come out of blog hibernation.  In fact, it really makes me want to go apple picking and drink cider. The combination might sound a bit odd, but the apple and apple butter is really a nice balance to the saltiness from the ham and cheese.  Plus, I love adding sweetness to anything I can.  So if you’re looking for a quick an easy dinner to enjoy with fall, look no further. IMG_5484

Apple, Ham and White Cheddar Panini 

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • 3 T. butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large apples, thinly sliced
  • Sliced white cheddar cheese, about 4 ounces
  • Thinly sliced maple ham, 6-8 ounces
  • 1/2 cup apple butter

Heat a grill pan or case iron skillet to medium heat. Butter the outside of each sandwich liberally.  On one piece of bread, layer apple slices, cheese and ham.  On the other slice apply a thick layer of apple butter.  Sandwich the pairs together so that the buttered sides are facing outwards.

Cook the sandwiches, turning once, until both sides are golden and the cheese is melted. Slice in half and serve immediately.

Source: Annie’s Eats


Black Bean Patties with Corn Relish and Avocado Cream Sauce

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You know the saying, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person?”  Well in the past month, I have found that this saying is pretty much spot on.  Somehow when I was working 10-12 hour days, studying for shelf exams, running, being a wife, and taking care of a puppy, I had time to post all these new things I made.  Then second semester fourth year happened, and  for the first time since I can remember, I have a lot of free time, yet  I have posted almost nothing on this blog! It’s really true, when you are busy, you just get more done!  That being said, it’s not like I haven’t been in the kitchen.  I have been trying out lots of fun recipes – everything from making my own greek yogurt, tiramisu cupcakes, shrimp enchiladas and the very delicious but dangerous blackberry pie bars– I just didn’t get any pictures! So finally, here’s a new recipe just in time for the summer-like weather.

I loved this dinner because it’s healthy enough that you feel good about eating it, but the avocado cream sauce gives it just a touch of sass that still makes you feel like  your cheating.  And if you really feel like being rebellious,   I think it would go great with these cookies. 

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Black Bean Patties with Corn Relish and Avocado Cream Sauce

– Makes about 18 patties

For the patties:

  • 2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed,  divided in half
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers*, divided in half
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2/3 cup cornmeal or panko (plus more, as needed)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Canola or vegetable oil

For the corn relish:

  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the avocado cream sauce:

  • 1 avocado, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup greek yogurt or light sour cream
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

*To Roast the Red Peppers: Preheat oven to 475°.  Line a baking pan with aluminum foil Coat the outside of each pepper with olive oil.  Cook the peppers for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until the skin is lightly browned.  Remove from oven and pull aluminum foil around the peppers.  Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes, then peel of skin and remove seeds. Can be done several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

1. To make the bean patties, place half of the beans in the bowl of a food processor with 1 coarsely chopped bell pepper, the eggs, oregano, cumin, and chipotle.  Process until smooth.  Finely chop the remaining bell pepper.  In a large bowl, lightly mash the remaining beans.  Stir in the bell pepper, onion, and smooth bean mixture.  Season to taste with salt and pepper

2. Stir in the cornmeal or panko, a bit at time, mixing lightly just until the mixture firms up.  (Pick up a bit and see if it can be easily molded into a ball.  If it is too sticky, add a little more. I ended up needing at least 1 cup).  Chill the mixture for 30 minutes.

3. While the bean mixture is chilling, make the corn relish.  Heat the canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the corn to the pan and sauté briefly until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and jalapeño and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl.  Stir in the tomato, lime juice, and cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. To make the avocado cream sauce, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender.  Process until completely smooth.

5. Form the bean mixture into patties approximately 3½ inches in diameter.  Heat about 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the patties in batches, cooking until lightly browned and firm, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Serve the patties warm topped with the corn relish and drizzled with the avocado cream sauce.

Source: Annie’s Eats 


Quick and Easy Chinese Orange Beef

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It is not very often that I like to make something twice, and it is also rare that I like to eat leftovers… so the fact that I made this twice in one week, AND had the leftovers for lunch, should tell you that this meal was a total winner.  The first time I made it, I wasn’t expecting much.  I mostly just made it to add some variety to our menu, as I have a hard time incorporating lean beef.  Then I made it and completely fell in love.   For non-marinated flank steak, it was incredibly tender and orange flavor really shines through.  Plus, any meal that satisfies my sweet tooth with something nutritious and delicious, is an obvious A+ (Think Blueberry Salmon, Mango Salmon, and  Strawberry Pizza). I think this will be a regular in our rotation, because it really does make great lunches the rest of the week.

This meal is ready from start to finish in less then 30 minutes, but some of the steps are more time consuming then the others.  For example, the zesting the orange and grating the ginger.  To save time even more time you could easily buy the ginger in a squeeze bottle in the refrigerator section, or make the sauce ahead of time.  Be sure to start the rice early so it’s ready when the meat is done! IMG_4740

Quick and Easy Chinese Orange Beef

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
2-3 teaspoons grated orange zest (I just zest 1 whole orange)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Asian chili sauce
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch
vegetable oil for pan
1-1/2 pounds flank steak (to clarify: that’s one steak, that weighs about 1.5 pounds)
3-4 green onions, sliced
hot white or brown rice for serving

Instructions

Trim fat from flank steak, then slice as thin as possible across the grain. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Whisk orange zest and orange juice, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, chili sauce, ginger, and cornstarch together in a bowl.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Drizzle pan with oil and tilt to coat.  Add half of beef, breaking up any clumps and let cook without stirring for one minute.  Stir beef and continue to cook until browned, about 2 minutes; transfer to a bowl and cover.  Repeat with remaining beef and transfer to bowl.

Whisk sauce to recombine, add to now-empty skillet, and cook over medium heat until thickened, about 2-3 minutes.  Return cooked beef, with any accumulated juices, to skillet and toss to combine.  Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.

Source: Our Best Bites


Three Bean and Beef Chili

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As much as I love an interesting dessert, or a buttery breakfast baked good, usually when I am scouring the internet for recipes, I am looking for dinner.  After all, it is technically possible to go a day without dessert (well not for me, but for some people); but most everyone would agree that at least one meal is a necessity.  So while classic chili might not be the most exciting thing ever posted here, I can say that this is a tried and true recipe that will keep you warm on a wintery night.  This is a real crowd pleaser, and my mom even requested that we make it as her birthday meal.  Personally, I would’ve gone with the Lobster and Corn Chowder, but I guess that’s why it’s her birthday ;-).

For the longest time I only liked turkey chili, but I’ve found that extra lean beef actually has the same amount of fat as turkey, with the added benefits of a healthy dose of iron and a lot more flavor.   Be careful though, because using anything less than 90/10 will give you that greasy chili that I personally think is gross. (I prefer my fats disguised in baked goods, not floating on top of my soup).  This chili is not particularly spicy, but can easily be toned down or up with the addition of extra jalepenos or crushed red pepper.  Similar to the Cincinnati Chili, this recipe uses bittersweet chocolate, which really adds a dimension of flavor so don’t leave it out.
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Classic Beef and Bean Chili

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 large onions, chopped (2 cups)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-4 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups beer (or water)
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-oz can chili beans, in sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • Crushed red pepper, if desired
  • Shredded cheddar, green onions, additional jalapeños and corn chips for topping

Directions:
Brown the beef in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Drain off fat if necessary. Add the onions, garlic and jalapeños and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Add the chili powder and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato sauce and beer (or water) and increase heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes.

While the beef mixture is cooking, place one can of beans in a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Stir the remaining two cans of beans, along with the mashed beans, into the chili and return to a simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in salt, cilantro and chocolate. Continue stirring until the chocolate has melted. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve with desired toppings.

Adapted from Cook Like a Champion 


The Perfect Turkey

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I know you might be thinking that this post is about 9 days too late, but I figured I’d post my Thanksgiving turkey, because you still have plenty of time to plan a turkey for Christmas!    I mean really….turkey only one day per year is clearly not enough.  Especially when the turkey is this good.

This Thanksgiving we had a fairly small family gathering, especially compared to the 24 people my Aunt Mary managed to get around one amazing table last year!  It’s been a hard year for  us and today is especially difficult.  I can’t believe it was just a year ago that my family showed up at my apartment  to break the news that my father had passed away.  That’s a day I will never forget. I just remember seeing Max fly through the door, leash trailing behind him with no owner attached, and before my mom even got to the door, I knew he was gone.  As hard as this year has been, it’s also been a lesson in how resilient the human spirit is.  At first I had no idea how I would even make it to the next day, let alone the rest of medical school.  But here I am a whole year later, with an adorable puppy, an awesome husband, and only 6 months of medical school left!   If you have had the misfortune of losing someone you loved recently, let me just promise you that it will get easier.  And seriously,  I really think some turkey for comfort food could really help.  I’m sure my dad would’ve preferred these snowball cookies, but don’t worry, I already made a batch in his honor.

This turkey is a little bit involved, but it is by far the most moist, tender and delicious turkey you will ever eat.  I used to be disappointed by the fact that turkey would take up space on my plate in lieu of more sides- but this turkey is really the star of the meal.  First you throw all the ingredients in a pot and bring it to a boil.  Then you have to let it cool, which unfortunately always takes longer than I think it will.

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Houston wouldn’t let this turkey out of his sight.  I’ve never seen him like this before…he obviously knew this turkey was special.  I think this is his “Is that for me?  Awww please mom….”  face.

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Then you have to pour the cooled brine, along with ice cubes and cold water over the turkey.  The trickest part about this is finding a container that will allow the turkey to be totally covered.  In fact, I ended up taking it out of the container pictured here and putting it in a GIANT stock pot.  Last year I used a gray “sterelite” container I found at Walmart that was perfect – but it was at my apartment.  I’ve also heard of people using new and throughly cleaned 5 gallon paint buckets from Lowe’s/Home depot. Just remember you need to keep this container cold, so if it’s 60 degrees on Thanksgiving like it was in Ohio this year, putting it in the garage will not cut it.

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After the turkey has soaked in a cold place for 12-24 hours, take it out, rinse it it in cool water and set it in a pan.   In case you didn’t know, that’s me with the awkward smile on my face.   There’s some sage butter in the white bowl in front of me, which you spread under the skin in as many places as you can.  Then you take a delicious mixture of chicken broth, butter and garlic, and inject it all over the turkey meat.  This part is pretty fun. Between injecting the meat, and suturing the cavity closed with  2-0 vicryl, I was feeling like a real surgeon by the end of the day :-).

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Then stuff the turkey according to your liking.  This year we used my Grandma’s traditional (and amazing) stuffing, but last year I just put some onion, apple and celery in the cavity – both worked great.  Then put the turkey in a “Turkey Bag” and cook according to the directions on the box – ours took about 3 hours.   (I know that turkey bags might not seem very gourmet, but I promise they make the most moist turkeys!).

Then of course let the turkey sit for 20-30 minutes before cutting to let the juices redistribute.  True comfort food.  Why don’t we make turkey like 10 times per year!  I’ve included all the specifics below.  I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and just remember all through this season (and always) to tell the people how much they mean to you.  You will never regret saying I love you just one last time.

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The Perfect Turkey

Equipment 

  • large container that will hold turkey plus 2 gallons of liquid
  • oven safe thermometer
  • Flavor injector/syringe
  • Turkey roasting bag
  • heavy duty roasting pan

Ingredients

  • 1 turkey, 12 – 16 pounds
  • 1 gallon (16 cups) chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup white or brown sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 5-6 cloves smashed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dehydrated onion
  • 1 large sprig fresh thyme*
  • 1 large sprig fresh sage*
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary*
  • 1 handful fresh parsley
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 8 cups ice

*the poultry blend of fresh herbs should contain these 3

  • 3/4 c. salted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 c. chicken broth
  • 2-3 cloves garlic

Stuffing

  • Traditional Bread stuffing OR
  • 1 apple (chopped in half), 1-2 small onions (chopped in half), 4 celery stalks (cut into thirds)

About a week before you begin brining your turkey, place it in the refrigerator to defrost. Alternatively, purchase a fresh turkey.  (I have done both and I don’t actually think it makes a significant difference in the final product).

The day before you roast your turkey, combine the chicken broth and the remaining brine ingredients (through the parsley) in a very large stockpot. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature, which will take over an hour.

Remove the packaging from the turkey. Remove the neck and giblets (be sure to check both the body and neck cavities) and reserve for gravy, if desired.  Rinse the turkey in cool water and then place it in the appropriate container.  Add the cold water and the ice cubes, then add the brine mixture. Stir to combine. Cover with the lid and then place in a cold place for up to 24 hours.

When you’re ready to roast your turkey, preheat the oven according to the directions on the roasting bag packaging. Soften 1 stick of butter and mix it with 1 tablespoon fresh sage and set aside. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it in cool water, and place in the roasting pan. Use your hands to loosen the skin between over the breast. Spread handfuls of the sage butter between the breast and the skin, rubbing any excess over the outside of the skin.

In a blender, combine 1/2 c. chicken broth, 2-3 cloves garlic, and 1/4 c. melted butter until completely smooth. Let  sit for at least 20 minutes, then strain out garlic to make it easier to draw up.  Use the flavor injector to inject the mixture all over the turkey.

Slip any remaining rosemary and thyme sprigs under the skin.

Stuff the turkey cavity with bread stuffing or a mixture of  apple, onion, and celery. Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey breast and then place the turkey into the roasting bag and roast until the thermometer registers 165 according to the roasting bag directions. When you’ve reached 165, remove the turkey from the oven and cut the bag away from the turkey. Allow it to stand for 15-20 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to redistribute and keep the turkey juice.

Slightly adapted from Our Best Bites, who adapted it from Alton Brown