Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mediterranean Pizza

Preston is my 11 year old and he's a really great eater.  This past summer we were in Carlsbad, CA for our beach trip and we went to Jay's restaurant on our last night.  It's a tiny little Italian/seafood place right on the corner of Carlsbad Boulevard.  All of the kids (my three plus Isaac and Anna)usually share giant plates of fettuccine alfredo, but Preston wanted to try something that he hadn't had before.  He asked me to show him a few things on the menu that I would order.  He chose the salmon with a white wine garlic sauce and ended up loving it.  He ate all of it except for the few bites that I snuck off his plate (It was the best salmon that I've ever had).

I love that he's adventurous and willing to have an open mind to new tastes and flavors.  There are only a few things that come to my mind that I know he will absolutely not eat (sautéed or caramelized onions and any sort of cooked mushroom).  He has a couple others that he avoids eating like hamburgers and take-out pizza.  I think if you were to ask a classroom full of elementary age kids, most would say that their favorite foods are hamburgers and pizza?  I understand the onions and mushroom thing because it's a texture thing, and hamburgers I get because of a stomach bug he had that coincided with eating a hamburger, but pizza?  The one interesting thing (and very good thing) about the pizza is that he doesn't like take-out pizza, but will happily eat homemade pizza any day of the week.

This recipe is sort of one you alter to your own taste.  You can make some of the toppings from scratch or just use your favorite store bought ingredients.

Mediterranean Pizza

1 recipe for flatbread pizza (recipe found here) or 2 8-ounce balls of your favorite pizza dough
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup pesto (I used this recipe because I had basil coming out of my ears)
1/4-1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks
1/4 cup oil packed sundried tomatoes, sliced (I used Tara O' Brady's soused tomatoes)
1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup roasted peppers, sliced (how to make your own found here)
1/4-1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled
1/4 cup pinenuts, toasted

Place you pizza stone on the center rack of your oven.  One hour before you bake your pizza, preheat the oven to the highest temperature.  If you don't have a pizza stone, you can bake you pizza on an upside down baking sheet, but don't preheat the baking sheet.

Place a piece of parchment paper on an upside down baking sheet.  Lightly flour your work surface and roll out dough until paper thin.  Aim for a circle, rectangle of whatever shape you manage to roll it out to be.  Move the dough to the parchment lined baking sheet.  Brush the dough with olive oil.  Sprinkle garlic, a good pinch of kosher salt, and black pepper over the olive oil.  Evenly spread 2-3 tablespoons of pesto on the dough (use more or less as needed).  Distribute the mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, and feta on top.  Take care not to over load the pizza.

Take hold of one corner of the parchment paper and gently pull the parchment paper and pizza onto the pizza stone.  Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is golden brown.  When down, remove from oven and sprinkle with toasted pinenuts.  Serve. 

Repeat with the remaining dough.

*Pitted and sliced kalamata olives could be used in place or in addition to the artichoke hearts (I'm not an olive fan so I went with the artichoke hearts)

Recipe slightly adapted from Use Real Butter

Monday, September 28, 2015

Fried Avocado Tacos with a Chile Lime Cream

We ate these tacos twice this past week.  I had enough ingredients for two batches which ended up being a really good excuse to eat them twice because they were really good, like amazing good.  My mouth is watering as we speak.  Would three times be too many?

There were no complaints around the dinner table, except for Stella who has a dislike/hate for corn tortillas.  She chose to eat the fried avocado by itself, but other than that we had a bunch of happy mouths.

So go right ahead and make these soon because when you put together the fried avocado with the super crunchy outside and the creamy middle, the chile lime cream that adds heat and brightness, the slaw with its crunch, and the tang and creaminess from the feta, all wrapped up in a corn tortilla, it will be like an explosion of flavors and textures in your mouth that will not disappoint. 

Fried Avocados Tacos

Fried avocados
Corn tortillas, lightly fried or grilled
Chile lime cream
Cabbage slaw
Feta cheese, crumbled

Fried Avocados

Canola oil for frying

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
1 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 firm-ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch wedges
Fine grain sea salt

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.  Fill a large heavy skillet (I used my 10-inch cast-iron pan) with 1 1/2 inches of oil.  Set on high heat and bring oil to 375° F on a deep-fry thermometer.

Mix together the flour with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a pie plate or shallow bowl.  Put the beaten eggs and panko bread crumbs in separate pie plates.

Sprinkle the avocado slices with remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  Dredge each avocado slice in flour, shaking off excess.  Dip in egg follow by the panko bread crumbs.  Make sure to coat the entire avocado slice.  Place on a foil lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining avocado slices

Fry four or five slices of the coated avocado slices at a time until a deep golden brown all over, 30 to 60 seconds.  Transfer to a baking pan lined with paper towels.  Sprinkle with a little fine grain sea salt.

Keep warm in oven while cooking the remaining avocados.

Chile Lime Cream

1 poblano chile
Small bunch of cilantro leaves
1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup sour cream
Juice from 1 lime
Kosher salt

Char the poblano over a gas flame, under the broiler, or on the grill, turning regularly until blackened on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Once the pepper has cooled, about 20 minutes, stem, peel, seed, and chop the chile.  Add chile to a food processor with the cilantro, and feta cheese.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Scape down the sides and add the sour cream, lime juice, and a good pinch of kosher salt and blend again.  Taste and season with salt if necessary.  Cover and refrigerate.

Cabbage Slaw

1/2 red cabbage, finely sliced or shredded
Small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
1-2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded, and minced
A drizzle of olive oil
Fresh lime juice
Kosher salt

To a medium bowl add cabbage, cilantro, and jalapeño.  Add a drizzle of olive oil and a few squeezes of lime juice (a couple tablespoons of each), really just enough to lightly coat the cabbage mixture and add some brightness and acid.  Season with a good pinch of kosher salt.  Toss together.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Cover and refrigerate until needed.

To assemble:

Grill or lightly fry corn tortillas.  Add a good smear of the chile lime cream down the center of the tortilla.  Top with fried avocado, slaw, crumbled feta, and a good squeeze of lime juice. Eat!

The Chile Lime Cream is adapted from Tara O' Brady's Seven Spoons cookbook

Friday, September 25, 2015

Jars and Roasted Pasilla Pepper and Goat Cheese Sauce

I LOVE glass jars.  We drink and eat from them and they fill our refrigerator shelves.  

On any regular day you can find jars filled with yogurt, hot fudge, jams, toasted walnut sesame butter (because it's my very favorite smeared on toast with bananas, a drizzle of maple syrup, and a sprinkle of Maldon salt), caramel sauces (usually a couple different kinds), pickled jalapenos and peppers, mustard bbq sauce (because it's perfect on a hot dog), chocolate syrup (for chocolate milk with ice of course), and currently there are two jars (soon to be one) of the crazy delicious, I'm addicted to, sauce from The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon cookbook. 

Her roasted pasilla and goat cheese sauce is lick the spoon amazing!  I first need to tell you that I struggle a bit when it comes to stronger cheeses and as much as I want to and try (I really, really try) to like them, I have a hard time getting my palate (and nose) to agree with them. 

I was a little hesitant to try this recipe because of the goat cheese, but I went for it and now there's no turning back.  It far exceeded my expectations and I should have known to trust Sara because her recipes never fail me and always leave my mouth and belly feeling very happy. So hip hip hooray for jars of roasted pasilla pepper and goat cheese sauce!
(The sauce is tucked under the avocado and makes these eggs over the top good!)
Roasted Pasilla Pepper and Goat Cheese Sauce
1/2 small red onion, peeled
2 pasilla peppers (see note)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
4 ounce soft goat cheese
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.

Preheat the broiler.  Rub the peppers and onion with drizzle of olive oil.  Place them on a baking sheet and broil them for 12 to 15 minutes until charred and collapsed.  Let cool, then rub off the skin off the peppers and remove the stems and seeds.

In a food processor, combine the onion and pasillas, the remaining olive oil, the pepitas, goat cheese, honey, chili powder, cayenne, lemon juice, and vinegar and process until combined.  Add the water, cilantro, salt, and pepper, and pulse again.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Place sauce in a jar and store in the refrigerator. 

*Grocery stores often mark a poblano pepper as a pasilla pepper so technically I'm not sure which one I used.

*If you prefer a looser sauce, add 2 additional tablespoons of water.

*For my eggs, I scramble three eggs over medium heat with a little salt.  When the eggs are half way cooked, I add one torn up corn tortilla to the pan and scramble it with the eggs until the eggs are steaming and just set.  Slide the eggs on to a plate and top with sauce, sliced avocado, crumbled goat or queso fresco cheese, and cilantro.  Simple and perfect.

Recipe ever so barely adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Creme Brulee Frozen Custard

Yesterday was officially the last day of summer and as it comes to an end and the cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and pots of soup take the place of bare feet, warm summer nights, and ice cream, I couldn't help myself and had to post one last recipe for the ice cream we ate on our last Sunday of our 12 week run of "Smithson's Ice Cream Sundays".

We all had our favorites (although it was a bit hard to choose)....

Mine-Sour Cream Cherry
Todd's-Peanut Butter
Stella's-Peanut Butter

I decided that to end this sweet ride we needed to go out with a bang.  I decided to make a crème brulee frozen custard and when an ice cream recipe calls for 12 egg yolks in the custard base and then is finished with coarse sugar sprinkled on top of the frozen ice cream and then torched until crisp, crackly and borderline burnt, it's going to be really, really great and really, really creamy...and it was. (We kept trying to sprinkle more sugar on top to torch partly because using the torch was quite fun and partly because the crackly sugar topping was so dang good!)

Crème Brulee Frozen Custard
12 egg yolks
1 cup superfine sugar, divided (see note)
1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 cups cold heavy cream
1 cup cold whole milk
1/2 -3/4 cup turbinado sugar (raw sugar)
In a saucepan combine, cream, whole milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla seeds and pod.  Place over medium-low heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved.
In a mixing bowl whisk together egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt.  Whisk until light and fluffy.
Once cream mixture is steaming (not boiling), add 1 cup to yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent the egg mixture from scrambling.
Add tempered yolk mixture to saucepan and whisk together.  Cook over medium-low heat stirring constantly with a rubber spatula until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Stain custard through a fine mesh strainer into a mixing bowl.  Allow mixture to sit until room temperature.  Cover custard and chill in the refrigerator overnight.  Freeze according to your manufacturer’s instructions.
Scoop custard into small wide mouth jars (I used these) and place in freezer until fully frozen, 3 to 5 hours.
Top custard with a full layer of raw sugar (about 1 to 2 tablespoons).  Carefully brulee the top of each custard with a kitchen torch and serve immediately.
*To make superfine sugar at home add 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons of sugar to the bowl of a food processor and process until sugar feels like fine sand (1 to 2 minutes).
*Next time I make this I will try Ashley Rodriguez's crème brulee topping method (found here) for an extra crunchy lid on the frozen custard. 
Recipe slightly adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dinner Time and a Mango Brown Rice Salad with Coconut-Ginger Dressing

Eating dinner together as a family has always been important to me.  I grew up in a family where eating dinner together most nights of the week was just something we did.  Dinner was at six and a moment of each day where we all gathered together to share a meal (albeit a crazy meal).  Believe me when I say it wasn't a picture perfect meal of a family gathered around a table laughing and enjoying each other's company.  And while we did enjoy each other (for the most part) and there was laughing (mixed with some occasional arguing and a possible tear or two), it was also loud (I'm the oldest of nine), hectic, and left a lot of dishes to be done.  But despite all its craziness, it instilled in me the importance of gathering those you love around the table.

There are few nights that my little family doesn't gather around our black round table to share a meal.  Preston sits to my left and Noah to Preston's left.  Todd sits to my right and Stella is sandwiched right between us.

Often the time together at our table is a little on the crazy side.  It seems I'm constantly up and down, up and down, getting something for someone.  Preston cannot seem to stay in his seat....ever.  Most of the time he's standing or hanging half way off his chair and it drives me crazy!  We've actually tired belting him to his seat to keep him sitting down....it didn't work.  Noah has a tendency to belch at some point during the meal (even though he's threatened with getting no treat after dinner if he does), and if we can get Stella to finish her meal in a timely manner it would be a miracle.  But, in between all of the craziness, the time we spend together at the end of the day gathered around our table is priceless to me.

As my kiddies grow I hope that each of them will remember the moments, memories, and craziness around our table and that someday they will gather their own little families around their kitchen tables to create memories of their own and to feed one another and be fed.

Mango and Brown Rice with Coconut-Ginger Dressing
2 cups uncooked brown basmati rice
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
2 cups cooked black or red beans
1 ripe avocado thinly sliced
1 ripe mango, diced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped + extra for garnish
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut milk
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Rinse rice in a strainer under cold running water for 30 seconds, swirling the rice around with your fingers. Combine rice with 3 cups water, 1/2 cup coconut milk, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan; bring water to a boil, then simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes or until the rice is tender.  Transfer rice to a fine mesh strainer and run cold water over it until cool.  Place strainer over bowl to drain at least 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl combine mango, red onion, and cilantro.  Toss lightly to combine.
In a small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Place rice in bowl and top with beans, toasted coconut flakes, mango, avocado, and extra cilantro.  Pour dressing over salad (you may not use all of it).  Serve.
*I cooked my rice in a pressure cooker because it seems to be the most consistent and quick way for me to cook brown rice.  For this recipe I combined 2 cups brown basmati rice with 2 cups water, 1/2 cup coconut milk, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Close lid securely; bring to high pressure over high heat.  Adjust heat to medium-low or level needed to maintain a consistent rocking of pressure knob.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let pressure release through steam vent.  Remove lid and fluff with fork.
*Instead of doing one big salad, I let each person in our family make their own individual bowl.

Recipe slightly adapted from Foodess


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Peach Tart

A few weeks ago I eyed the bowl of garden tomatoes sitting on my counter and invited my mom over to eat soup for lunch.  My mom is an incredible woman.  She exemplifies goodness, faith, devotion, love, and so much more.  Someday I hope to be even a small fraction of who she is.  As we sat around my kitchen tables sharing bowls of roasted tomato soup, ribbons of zucchini covered in almond pesto, and slices of peach tart with generous dollops of whipped cream, a quote from Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist filled my mind. "What's becoming clearer and clearer to me is that the most sacred moments, the ones in which I feel God's presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place at the table.  It's about what happens when we come together, slow down, open our homes, look into one another's faces, listen to one another's stories.  It happens when we enter the joy and sorrow of people we love, and we join together at the table to feed one another and be fed, and while it's not strictly about food, it doesn't happen without it."

That afternoon my heart and soul was filled as I sat talking, listening, laughing, getting teary eyed, and eating slices of peach tart with my mom.  I was reminded once again of God's goodness and the incredible gift it is to have such an amazing mama. 

Peach Tart

1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup mild olive oil
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
3 to 5 ripe peaches, pitted and thickly sliced (about 1/2-inch wide)

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the oils, milk, and almond extract.  Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and mix gently with a fork, just enough to moisten;  do not over work the dough.

Transfer the dough to an 9-inch tart pan and use your hands to pat out the dough so it covers the bottom of the pan, pushing it up the sides to meet the edge.  Trim and discard excess dough.

In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the butter.  Using your fingers, pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly or until it resembles granules and tiny pebbles.

Starting on the outside, arrange the peaches overlapping in a concentric circle over the pastry; fill in the center in whatever pattern makes sense.  The peaches should fit snugly.  Sprinkle the pebbly sugar/butter mixture over the top (it will seem like a lot).  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until shiny and thick bubbles begin enveloping the fruit and the crust is slightly brown.  Tent with foil if tart begins to brown too quickly.  Cool on rack.  Serve warm or room temperature with generous dollops of whipped cream.

Recipe from Food 52 Amanda Hesser