Thursday, January 5, 2012

Spaetzle- A German Noodle

I have been wanting to make Spaetzle for years, so when I saw a recipe in the food section of the New York Times, I knew it was fate.  Spaetzle has a similar taste to a gnocchi, but without the potato.  I have seen this made on lots of different food network shows and competitions.  It didn't look difficult at all, but I was too lazy to search for a recipe.  The New York times featured an article about making this classic German dish and then putting a twist on it and baking it au gratin.  Once I got the basic recipe for the Spaetzle, the rest was left to my imagination and whatever ingredients I had in the house.
Unfortunately I don't own a speatzle maker, yes a special tool does exist, but the recipe said that you can use a collander, well that was a huge mistake and a big mess, however, a regular gallon size zip lock bag did the trick. I put the batter inside, cut a little hole and used a spoon to dispense little drops into the boiling water.  This is an incredibly fast cooking process, and when you crave a starch or a noodle, but don't have any in the house, as long as you have flour, eggs and milk, you've got yourself a meal.
My spaetzle Au Gratin:
for the spaetzle:
2 1/4 cup flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
directions: mix the dry ingredients in a bowl,  beat eggs with milk, then add to the dry ingredients, what you will get is a pretty wet dough.  Place in a spaetzle maker and add into boiling water, remove as soon as spaetzle comes up.  ( I used a large ziplock bag with a small cutout, use a spoon to drop little pieces into the boiling water, I did this in 3 batches)
for the Gratin
1 large onion
1 green pepper
package of Italian chicken sausage
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1.5 cup shredded cheese, I used a mexican blend
directions: saute onions in a skillet on medium heat with olive oil until golden and translucent, add to the bowl with spaetzle, in a skillet, sautee sausage, peppers and cabbage, for 5-10 minutes until brown and soft, add to the bowl with other ingredients. mix everything together and 1 cup cheese and mix. Transfer to a baking dish, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and some parmesan cheese if available.
note** my mixture was a little dry so once I put everything in the baking dish, I drizzled about 1/2 cup of vegetable stock all over just to make sure it doesnt dry out.
bake at 375 for 25 minutes.
Enjoy!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Udi's Gluten Free Treats


Last weekend I received a little box in the mail. I was so excited to try something I wouldn't normally buy in the store.  The impressively clever packaging made the contents even more appetizing.  Inside the box were 2 packages of Gluten free bagels ( plain and cinnamon raisin) and 2 packages of muffins, chocolate/chocolate chip ( my personal favorite) and  Lemon Streusel.  For those that don't know Udi's products, they are a wide assortment of Gluten free breads, bagels, cookies, buns, muffins, etc.  I consider myself a bagel connoisseur, which makes me a bit of an expert.  I have eaten lots on lots of bagels from different places, but never a gluten free bagel, say I was on a gluten free diet, well then I would be in a load of trouble, but not with my latest discovery of Udi's products.  The Bagels are delicious, when toasted they taste like any great bagel I have had from a good bagel store, even my 2 year old approves :O)

Now to the muffins,  what I love so much about this product is the surprisingly delicious flavor.  The reason I say surprising is because you would think a gluten free muffin can't taste good, that's where Udi's has got you covered.  I would imagine that going Gluten Free puts a few restrictions on the foods you can eat, luckily there are companies that are making foods that are both good for you and delicious.  A great way to enjoy the chocolate/chocolate chip muffin is to heat up in the microwave for 30 seconds, and serve alongside vanilla ice cream, a gluten free brownie a la mode dessert, who knew .



Check out their website and their wide range of products.  Enjoy!!!
http://udisglutenfree.com/products/

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

French Macaroons

I have always been fascinated with French Macaroons.  They are so posh, so delicate, so french and so expensive... A little shop in Manhattan sells them for $2 a piece,  I did splurge and it was well worth it, but still the personal satisfaction only comes when Im able to make it myself, so I had to try.  The real ambition finally came when I got two recipes, both of which seemed pretty uncomplicated.  The bon appetit magazine featured a recipe for chocolate macaroons and the second one came from a friend attending the pastry arts program at the French Culinary Academy, so I knew this recipe was legit.
For whatever reason the Culinary Academy provides measurements in grams, so I had to dust off an ancient food scale to measure the ingredients, this was a bit tricky, but did work.  The result, deliciously delicate little cookies, which came together with a little nutella and raspberry jam.  The personal achievement I felt when these came out of the oven looking so professional is indescribable.  Ofcourse I was addicted to the rush, and had to try the bon appetit recipe the very next day.  Once again, success.  I cant wait to share these little delights with my friends and family.  The recipes are a bit long to write out, I will put them up by request :O)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lunch...

Its almost winter, my garden looks really sad and empty around this time of year, everything is pretty much dead, except arugula.  For whatever reason, every year, around November, the arugula plant decides to go for its last hurrah.  It sprouts beautiful delicious peppery leaves and just begs to be made into a salad. 
Today, I decided to make a little lunch which consisted of a wrap and panini sandwiches for my husband, a salad and freshly baked honey wheat flat bread for myself and whole wheat pizza for the baby.  I was inspired by one of the food network shows to add honey to a dough, so I came up with my own recipe for honey wheat pizza dough.
Panini and Sandwiches
sliced turkey breast
swiss cheese
my mom's home made cranberry sauce
arugula leaves
Use a panini press for the sandwiches, a pressed sandwich is always better:O)

 Salad
Arugula leaves from my garden
1 chopped tomato
1/2 slices avocado
oil/lemon/vinegar dressing

Honey Wheat Pizza Dough
1 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package yeast
1 cup all purpose flour ( plus more for kneading/dusting)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon Salt
Mix the first 4 ingredients, add yeast and set aside for 10 minutes to proof.  Mix the flours together with salt and add a little at a time to the wet ingredients, mixing in between until its thick enough to knead. Continue to knead until all flour is incorporated, you should have a pretty soft dough.  Put in a bowl, cover with plastic or a towel and leave to rise for 1-2 hours. 
I used this dough to make pizza on my pizza stone, just roll out, top with your favorite ingredients and bake at 425 for about 10 minutes or until brown.  I also used this dough to make flat bread, simply roll out, score with a fork and bake until brown, about 10-12 minutes.
Enjoy!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Easy Turkey Chili with Rice.

What can be better than a nice bowl of Chili on a cold snowy or rainy day??? Saturday was the first snow of the season, and due to the weather conditions I never left the house to go food shopping, but did have some random things in the house that I knew would come together into a wonderful bowl of yumminess.
I do have to mention, when I feel like I have no food in the house, the reality is I can still probably come up with enough food to make dinner for 10.  These are staples I always keep in the pantry/fridge, always have on hand - onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, rice, pasta, canned tomato, beans, and other random canned goods plus random vegetables.  Lets just say you cant go hungry in my house.. Luckily I also had in the freezer sweet Italian turkey sausages, so a chili for dinner was inevitable.  Everyone has a favorite chili recipe, and if I were shopping for ingredients, I may have added a few things, but sometimes, working with what you have can produce an equally great dish.
Ingredients:
1 package sweet Italian turkey sausage - removed from casing
1 onion
1 medium carrot
2 celery stalks
1 red pepper
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 can of beans - red, black, white, whatever you have
directions
chop all vegetables into small cubes,
In a dutch oven or le creuset pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the turkey meat, use spoon to mash the sausages up into little pieces.  cook until brown on medium heat, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the pot into a bowl and put aside.  Add another tablespoon of olive oil and add vegetables, cook for about 5-8 minutes until brown/translucent.  Add the cooked turkey to the pot, add can of crushed tomatoes. Taste to make sure there is enough salt, if not add a little at a time. Add 1/2 teaspoon paprika and a sprinkle of chili powder if you have, ( or any other spices you like to add). Simmer for about 30 minutes on low heat. Drain and wash beans, add into the pot, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. You can continue cooking to develop some more flavor, add a little water if its too thick, should be a pretty thick soupy consistency.  
Serve over rice or baked potato, and top with grated cheddar cheese and crushed tortilla chips for crunch.
Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ravioli with meat loaf and mixed vegetables

Ive been trying to come up with dishes that my 2 year old son would like.  Kids usually like ravioli, so I decided to give it a try.  Lately he has become a very picky eater so I have to get even more creative, as most parents do.  My supermarket has a huge variety of freshly made pastas, so I got a package of fresh ravioli.  As a side dish I had leftover random vegetables that came together into a wonderful side dish along the classic chicken loaf, this was a suprisingly delicious meal. Oh and Leo took a few bites, but mostly played with his food, oh well.....

Ravioli
1 package fresh Ravioli
1 cup marinara sauce
2 cloves crushed garlic
grated paresan cheese
Cook ravioli in boiling water for about 6 minutes.  In a large oven safe skillet, heat up 2 tablespoons olive oil and garlic, add marinara sauce, cook on slow heat covered for a few minutes then add the cooked ravioli, continue cooking on slow heat for another 5 minutes, then top with cheese and place in 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes
Vegetables
1 cup chopped vegetables, I had the following, but any combination  of vegetables can be used. 
1/2 red pepper
1/2 green pepper
1/2 zuccini
1 cup chopped kale
1 shallot
white wine vingeral
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon
1 tablespoon fig jam ( this adds the sweet layer of flavor that is needed, another jam can probably be substututed)
directions:
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil, add all vegetables except kale, cook until soft, about 5 minutes, add kale and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Add vinegar, lemon and jam, salt and pepper to taste, mix everything together, cook for another minute.  These vegetables almost have a pickled flavor, I loved them so much I used leftovers the next day in a turkey wrap. Yum.....
chicken loaf recipe may be found on a box of lipton soup mix :O)
Enjoy

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Birthday Feast....

For my sons 2nd Birthday I decided to make a special dinner feast for my family.
Thanks to a few days off work I was able to catch up on daytime televison and saw some pretty interesting recipes by my favorite star chefs. Planning the menu was easy, I paired my personal favorites with a few new dishes from very trusted sources, Each dish came out perfectly delicious and super easy to make.
Menu:
1. Corn Bread
2. Artichoke and bean spread topped with prociutto - Giada De Laurentis
3. Vegetable Lasagna - Giada De Lourentis
4. String beans with feta cheese and candied walnuts  - Claire Robinson
5. Warm potato salad with leek, celery and carrots -  Rachel Ray
6. Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls
7. Baked Salmon
8. Baked Mahi Mahi
9. Mustard and rosemary roasted pork loin - Claire Robinson
10. Freshly Baked Flat Bread
 Artichoke spread on my home baked bread
 corn bread

vegetable lasagna

warm potato salad

string beans with candied walnuts

sweet and sour chicken balls

mahi mahi

Salmon

flat bread


prosciutto wrapped mustard pork loin

Corn Bread
Ingredients
1 package Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 8 oz container sour cream or Greek yogurt
1 small can of corn – drained
1 small can of creamed corn
2 eggs
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup sugar
Mix all wet ingredients and corn, add corn muffin mix, transfer to a 9”x9” or whatever handy pan you have. Bake at 350 for 40 min uncovered in.


Artichoke and bean spread topped with prociutto - Giada De Laurentis
Ingredients
Vegetable cooking spray
4 very thin slices prosciutto
12 (1/4-inch thick) slices rustic country bread
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 (12-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Directions
Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray
Lay the prosciutto in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until crispy. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
On another baking sheet, arrange the bread slices in a single layer. Using a pastry brush, brush the bread with 1/4 cup of the oil. Bake until golden, about 12 to 15 minutes.
In a food processor, combine the artichoke hearts, beans, cheese, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse until the mixture is chunky. With the machine running, slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Spoon the artichoke mixture onto the crostini. Crumble the prosciutto and sprinkle on top. Drizzle with oil and serve.

Vegetable Lasagna - Giada De Lourentis
From the food network site:
Butter, for greasing
Olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices
2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into thirds
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thirds
1 orange bell pepper, cut into thirds
1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup plain bread crumbs
Directions
Put a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish.
Drizzle the eggplant slices, fennel slices and peppers with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables for 3 to 4 minutes each side until softened.
Spoon 3/4 cup of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange the eggplant slices on top. Sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Arrange the peppers in a single layer on top. Spoon 3/4 cup of marinara sauce over the peppers. Sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Arrange the fennel on top and cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Scatter the bread crumbs over the cheese and drizzle liberally with oil. Bake until the top is golden and forms a crust, about 30 to 35 minutes
Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Cook's Note: The vegetables can also be baked in a 375 degrees F oven for 15 to 20 minutes until softened.
4. String beans with feta cheese and candied walnuts  - Claire Robinson
Although the recipe inspiration was from Claire Robinson, I make string beans all the time, usually with balsamic vinegar and toasted almonds.  This time, I added some candied walnuts and feta cheese
1 lb string beans, trimmed( this recipe is best with haricot verts, these are just thinner string beans)
1 cup walnuts
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Throw string beans into boiling water for about 5 minutes then remove and place them in an ice bath ( pour cold water into a bowl and add ice, inorder to stop the cooking process)
Mix walnuts with mable syrup in a bowl, place on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, let cool
In a sautee pan, heat olive oil, add string beans, feta cheese and walnuts, cook for about 3 minutes.

Warm potato salad with leek, celery and carrots -  Rachel Ray
This recipe is from foodnetwork.com
4 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
8 slices center cut bacon, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled then thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler, then chopped into bits
2 leeks
1/2 cup dry white wine, eyeball it
1/2 cup chicken stock, eyeball it
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, 5 to 6 sprigs, stripped and chopped
Black pepper
Directions
Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, salt water and cook until just tender 10 minutes.
Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add a liberal drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and the bacon. Cook bacon until crisp.
Reserve bacon on paper towel lined plate, removing it from the pan with a slotted spoon. Drain some of the fat, leaving about 3 tablespoons in the pan. Add celery and carrots to the pan. While the vegetables cook, cut leeks lengthwise then into half moon slices 1/2- inch thick. Run the leeks under cold water and separate every layer to release the trapped grit. Drain well. Add leeks to sauteed veggies and cook another 4 to 5 minutes until tender. Deglaze the pan with wine and pick up any pan drippings. Reduce heat to low and add chicken stock and thyme.
Drain potatoes and return to hot pot to cook off water then transfer the potatoes to the skillet with the vegetables and stock. Carefully combine the potatoes and vegetables, add bacon back to the pan then season the warm salad with salt and black pepper, to taste.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls
Recipe in previous post
http://fastandgourmet.blogspot.com/2011/05/sweet-and-sour-chicken-balls.html

Baked Salmon/ Baked Mahi Mahi
I usually cook fish the same way.  Wash and pat dry fish, place in a baking dish.  Season with salt and pepper, squeeze lemon juice all over, cover and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. 
variation can be the spices you sprinkle with, italian seasoning, paprika or even curry are also great choices for variation.

Mustard and rosemary roasted pork loin - Claire Robinson
Recipe from foodnetwork.com, my special touch to this recipe was that i served it with warm fig jam, delicious!!!
Ingredients
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary leaves, plus 4 sprigs rosemary, with hard woody stems
5 large garlic cloves, 2 cloves minced, 3 cloves smashed
2 pork tenderloins, about 1-pound each
4 slices maple bacon
Directions
In a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, fresh ground black pepper, chopped rosemary, and minced garlic and mix well. Rub the mustard mixture over the surface of the tenderloins and wrap in plastic wrap. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Place rosemary sprigs and smashed garlic in the center of a roasting pan. Remove the plastic wrap from the tenderloins and top each with 2 slices of maple bacon. Tie with kitchen twine to secure bacon strips.
Place the roasting pan in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer, inserted in the tenderloins, registers 160 degrees F. Remove from oven when desired doneness is reached and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes on a cutting board. Remove kitchen twine, slice and serve with your favorite sides. Garnish with the rosemary sprigs and garlic. Enjoy!

Freshly Baked Flat Bread
Recipe for the dough can be found in a previous blog post.  roll out and bake in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes
http://fastandgourmet.blogspot.com/2011/01/i-love-pizza.html


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cauliflower Gratin.....

When it comes to food, it doesn't take much to inspire me.  Somehow the ideas are just born within seconds of me thinking of a few ingredients.  I guess you can call it a gift :O)  Tonight I made a cauliflower gratin as a side dish for dinner alongside some chicken and rice.  The gratin recipe just came to me, I knew I wanted to use the cauliflower I bought this weekend, so I reached for my Le crouset pot and heat up some oilve oil, cut up and sauteed a medium onion.  I chopped up half the large head of cauliflower, after all, this was an experiment, and if it didn't turn out the right way, I didn't want to waste the full head.  I added the cut up florets to the onions, added about a 1/8 teaspoon of salt and pepper and a few dashes of paprika, as well as 2 tablespoons of sour scream. I continued cooking it on low heat for about 5 minutes, then covered the pot and placed in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  I took it out, added 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese and broiled until the top was golden brown.  The result.... delicious.
Yellow rice was prepared as per package instructions
for the chicken:
2 chicken breasts sliced thin and then sliced into strips 
2 green onions chopped
1/2 yellow and red pepper sliced thin
Heat up 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet, add chicken, cook for 2 minutes, then add 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce, i also added a few dashes of hoisin sauce, this adds sweetness, and about 2 tablespoons of Asian sesame dressing, continue cooking for about 8 minutes until chicken is firm and peppers are soft.
Enjoy!
cooked gratin

Sunday, August 7, 2011

California Food Finds.

I recently came back from a trip to California.  Besides wanting to see the places Ive heard about and saw in movies, I was really excited to taste some new food and visit a few restaurants I have heard of.  Our itenerary was Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, LA, Malibu, and Santa Monica, and these were the places we found along the way.
1. Pinks Hot dogs - Awesome chili cheese dogs, and a landmark in La, after our delicious artery blocking lunch, we could have used some tums.















 2.The Original Pantry - a breakfast diner open since 1924 that serves a wicked breakfast in downtown LA
2 eggs with their amazing potatoes were delicious, but the showstopper was the sour dough french toast.  I really have never tasted french toast this good, I will definitely be trying this at home.

3. Taco Loco - a famous taco place in Laguna Beach


You cant beat these fresh and delicious shrimp and mahi tacos, plus cheese nachos with guacamole.  With a view of the pacific coast, this place made a perfect afternoon trip to Laguna Beach.





4. The Inn  - Malibu Cafe overlooking the coast

The food was just ok, but I really liked the way they served their guacamole, in a small bowl with chips arranged inside.  Here on the right you've got a deep fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich, now this was definitely worth the trip to Malibu, plus the great view of the beach and surfers.

5. Bazaar - an innovative restaurant in Beverly Hills.  This restaurant serves small plates so we shared 8 incredible dishes between the 2 of us.
We started with the sweet potato chips and yogurt sauce,  the chips were definitely hand made and the dipping sauce was delicious, decorated with balsamic vinegar and olive oil it was a beautiful and delicious start. 
 






This is their version of caprese salad,  if you placed a tomato ball ( which was scooped with a melon baller, impressive) with the melt in your mouth mozzarella ball, basil sauce and crouton, you get the most incredible flavor in your mouth all at once, no wonder this is their most popular dish.





Next was their version of a philly cheese steak, this was an air roll filled with cheese and thin sliced beef on top, incredible melt in your mouth flavor.

Focaccia bread with a spiced tomato spread and manchego cheese. Delicious.








 Deep friend chicken and cheese in a bite size popper.  Amazing.
This was a nice dish, chicken with figs in a mustard sauce.  Nice balance of flavors.
 This one was my least favorite because I'm not a fan of pork sausage, but the fried mixture on the bottom was very tasty, it was a combination of potatoes, mushrooms, white beans and corn, great flavor which I will have to try one of these days.
This was our final dish, boneless chicken wings, with an olive spread.  This was also ok, not my favorite.
Overall we had an amazing dinner, definitely recommend this place.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Sides

I love making quick and easy side dishes that go great with any meal. Tonight, I made 2 great side dishes: Corn Salad and Basil and Sun dried Tomato infused Rice. I paired with my classic chicken cubes, and result was delicious. Corn Salad:
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add a splash of milk and sugar, this is a trick I learned from my mother in law, it makes the corn taste sweet and creamy all the time. Cook 2 heads of corn, both cut in half for easier handling for about 25 minutes.
Remove from water, let cool, and cut the corn off the cob. Add to a bowl, mix in 1/4 pack of boursin garlic and herb cheese, add some chopped dill and all done.  The heat of the corn melts the cheese and you get a deliciously flavored corn salad
basil and sun dried tomato rice:
ingredients:
1 package 15 minute rice - cooked
6 pcs sun dried tomato in oil- from jar
1/2 cup chopped basil
add half chopped basic to a bowl, and chopped sundried tomatoes, add rice and mix.
In a small bowl prepare dressing: 1 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon oil from the tomato jar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. the ratio of the dressing ingredients can be adjusted to your liking. if you don't like too much vinegar, add more oil. Mix dressing and pour over the rice and mix.  top with remaining basil.
Recipe for the chicken cubes can be found in an older post : http://fastandgourmet.blogspot.com/2011/03/blogworthy-dinner.html
Enjoy!!!