Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sauteed Zucchini with Dill, Garlic and Almonds

Are you suffering from excess zucchini as summer races to its close? If so, or really even if not, Heidi at 101 Cookbooks has an amazing, simple solution: Sauteed Zucchini. This dish has tons of texture and is irresistible.

Browning the garlic, shallots, almonds and zucchini makes a rich base that is brightened by the unexpected dill. You can sprinkle the dish with goat cheese to make it creamier, but it isn't necessary and next time I'll skip it to save the calories for something else...probably a sweet knowing me.

My initial plan was to eat this in some puff pastry cups I've been meaning to use up, but it never got there. I couldn't stop eating it out of the pan and packed up the remainder for a decadent lunch. Perhaps it will make it into those cups another day or I'll just keep eating it just the way it is.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fudgy, Cocoa Brownies

If you are a fan of Whole Foods' Brownie Bites, then you will love Deb at Smitten Kitchen's Best Cocoa Brownies. They are dense, fudgey and only create two dishes to wash, which make them a perfect anytime sweet. Their cocoa flavor holds it own against the sugar, which makes them something to savor instead of just shoving them in your mouth as quickly as possible though you may still want to do that.

I'm sure dutch process cocoa would enhance them but I used bulk unsweetened cocoa that I purchased at Sahadi's and was perfectly happy with my results. I also used the microwave for the second step of combining the butter, cocoa and sugar rather than a double boiler. It took a mere two minutes rather than waiting for water to boil and standing over the heat stirring and, in my case since I don't own a double boiler, struggling to hold two random pots at just the right angle.

I highly recommend this recipe. If you want to mix things up heating up a brownie and serving it with mint chocolate chip ice cream or crumbling an aged brownie into ricotta cheese with some almonds.

By the way, I'm experiencing the great outdoors in Big Sky Country i.e. Montana and Canada 8/13 to 8/24, so any responses will come when I return. Thank you for your patience and wish me luck seeing a moose with a rack.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nectarine Brown Butter Popovers

A few weekends ago I adapted The Way It Crumbles' Apple Popover recipe into Nectarine Brown Butter Popovers. Nectarines were on sale and I had brown butter leftover from a previous project, but I think any combination of fruit and butter would work well.

Popovers make a delicious breakfast (and afternoon snack) with their slight sweetness. This version serves them with the portion that touched the bottom of the muffin tin facing up, which provides the cup for the additional fruit and anything else you drizzle on top.

Their texture reminds me of a lighter German pancake or clafoutis, two of my favorite breakfast dishes. I can see these becoming a go to treat thanks to their simplicity and relatively healthy profile for a recipe on the sweet side. The six were gone in no time!

Nectarine Brown Butter Popovers
Makes 6

Sauteed Nectarines
3 ripe nectarines, cut into slices
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp browned butter

Cut nectarines in half, remove pit. Slice thinly. Melt butter in a pan, add brown sugar and nectarines and allow to soften. Set aside to cool slightly.

1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup milk (I used soymilk)
pinch of salt
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
melted butter to grease muffin tray

Let all ingredients come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat six hollows of a muffin tin with melted butter. Once oven is preheated, place muffin pan in for about 5 minutes to heat up.

In a medium bowl, combine egg, milk, sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Whisk until well combined and frothy. Sift flour into liquid. Whisk batter until smooth.

Take muffin pan out of the hot oven carefully and spoon about 1/2 tbsp of the fruit mixture into the tin's compartments. Top with evenly divided batter and bake in the oven at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan for even cooking, and reduce heat to 350 degrees, cooking for approximately 10 more minutes or until golden and crispy.

Remove from oven and pan, set on rack to cool.

By the way, I'm experiencing the great outdoors in Big Sky Country i.e. Montana and Canada 8/13 to 8/24, so any responses will come when I return. Thank you for your patience and wish me luck seeing a moose with a rack.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Homemade Pierogi's

Seeing how I'm due to fly out from JFK in, oh, less than six hours this will be the shortest Daring Cooks write-up to date. This month's challenge was versatile, affordable and tasty -- my favorite traits in a challenge. Thank you to Liz and Anula for hosting it. Now for the required text - the August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

My pierogi's won't win any beauty contests but they were delicious, especially when browned in olive oil for added flavor. They take some time to make but are well worth the effort. In the future I'm going to skip "simple" wonton ravioli's and make peroigi dough instead as it doesn't waste my time with egg wash or create a disasterous explosion of insides when you skip the said egg wash. Not that I've done that.

I chose to follow the Russian Style Pierogi dough recipe provided, free forming them by hand and filling them with the Heidi at 101 Cookbooks' fresh, light and lemony Plump Pea Dumpling filling. When my pierogi's wouldn't accept more than a half teaspoon of filling I made up for it by heating a bit of cream and adding the filling to it to create a simple sauce. On the side I mixed corn cut fresh off the cob, minced dill and lemon juice for a simple salad.

It was a great summer dish that reheated splendidly for work. If you don't like dill, don't mingle the pierogis with the simple salad as the dill takes over. Personally I liked the mingling as it added texture to the overall dish and an additional kick of flavor.

By the way, I'm experiencing the great outdoors in Big Sky Country i.e. Montana and Canada 8/13 to 8/24, so any responses will come when I return. Thank you for your patience and wish me luck seeing a moose with a rack.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sampling Doc April's Delicious Dishes

In July I went on a whirlwind weekend visit to Arlington, Virginia/DC to celebrate Rachel's birthday and engagement. While I can never see everyone when I return I try to maximize my time. This trip managed to fit in watching the first two episodes Mad Men Season 1 (Matthew - hurry up and finish so I can borrow them!), Rocket Bar, wine tasting, the pool and the culinary highlight - tasting some of Doc April's Delicious Dishes.

I hadn't seen April since meeting her at our mutual very good friend Vika's Bahamian wedding celebration last year. I was excited to see her again and experience her adventurous cooking firsthand as she's a daredevil in the kitchen always improvising and creating something new. My big request was that we make spaetzle as I fell in love with it at B Bar and knew she had experience. I was shocked by its simplicity and hopefully will make its slightly salty dough goodness again soon.

In addition to parsley-tinged spaetzle, she concocted a wonderful barbeque sauce that her boyfriend Mike used on a slow cooked brisket and used his beef drippings to make another sauce based on Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon. Oh and there was perfectly caramelized grilled corn, which always hits the spot for me, followed by a simple satisfying dessert of fresh cherries and amaretto. The flavorful meal was an excellent end to an exciting weekend.

Many thanks to her, Mike, Rachel, Peter and Laura for hosting me over the weekend. May our paths cross again sooner rather than later. Same goes for the new friends that were made!

Matt, Laura, Peter and Rachel
From 2010_07_24