Simple Supper: Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi

On Friday, at the end of a long day (and after it’d been awhile since the grocery store and I visited), I was thankful for the frozen bag of shrimp in my freezer. Within 20 minutes I’d cooked up this light and simple shrimp dish for supper. I used rice in place of the orzo and substituted mixed, chopped fresh herbs in place of the parsley. This meal will definitely be added to our supper rotation. To balance out the meal, add a green salad, or other lightly sauteed veggies.

LEMON PEPPER SHRIMP SCAMPI
(from Cooking Light)
Print This Recipe

1 cup uncooked orzo (use rice to make gluten-free)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
7 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp (I actually used medium shrimp)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Place orzo in a bowl. Stir in parsley and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cover and keep warm.

While orzo cooks, melt 1 Tablespoon butter in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add half of shrimp to pan; saute 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer shrimp to a plate. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in pan. Add remaining shrimp to pan; saute 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer to plate.

Melt remaining 1 Tablespoon butter in pan. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in shrimp, juice, and pepper; cook 1 minute or until shrimp are done.

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Weekend Fare: Lemon Coconut Bars

Okay, seriously, these are delicious! Citrus and coconut – how can you go wrong? The creamy, sweet, and tart were just the perfect balance. These would make a wonderful contribution for a pitch-in or for a light dessert.

LEMON COCONUT BARS
(Bon Appetit Dessert Cookbook)
Print This Recipe

Crust:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted, cooled
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Filling:
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon (packed) finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt

1/4 cup powdered sugar

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, leaving overhang. Butter foil. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add coconut and butter; process until mixture resembles fine meal and begins to clump together. Gather dough into ball. Press dough evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Bake crust until golden at edges, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare filling:
Combine 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, lemon juice, lemon peel, flour, baking powder, and salt in processor. Blend filling until smooth.

Remove crust from oven. Pour filling evenly over hot crust. Return to oven and bake until filling begins to brown at edges and is just set and springy to touch in center, about 30 minutes. Transfer pan to rack; cool lemon bars completely.

Using foil as aid, transfer lemon bars to work surface. Flatten foil edges. Cut into 16 bars. Sift powdered sugar over. (Can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight in single layer in refrigerator.)

Baker’s Delight: Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes

As promised, here is the lemon cupcake recipe! We really enjoyed these. I still want to tweak the frosting a little bit but it’s really good. Don’t skip the lemon curd, it’s excellent and it will make more than you need which is a happy bonus.  You can print all of these recipes here.

LEMON CURD
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

Zest of 3 lemons
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt

Combine lemon zest, sugar, butter, eggs, lemon juice, and salt in a saucepan.

Cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate – place plastic wrap on surface of curd while it cools.


LEMON CUPCAKES

2 1/2 c. cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 c. sugar
5  eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
2/3 c. buttermilk
Zest of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners.

Into a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time until just combined. Add vanilla and lemon extract and zest. Add buttermilk and dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks before filling and frosting.


RASPBERRY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6-8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup raspberry preserves

Using a hand-held mixer beat cream cheese and butter together until light and smooth. Add vanilla extract and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time until thoroughly incorporated and desired thickness is reached.


TO ASSEMBLE:
Remove a small amount of cake from the center of the cooled cupcake and spoon in the chilled lemon curd. Use a pastry bag or Ziploc bag to frost the cupcakes. Store finished cupcakes in the refrigerator.

Off the Shelf: March Magazine Reviews

Cooking Light (Stephanie): Usually I either love Cooking Light, or I’m disappointed by it. This month, though, I felt so-so about it. A few recipes jumped off the pages for me: Black Bean Hummus, Meyer Lemon Curd Tart, Tropical Sherbet, Chicken Souvlaki Pitas with Tahini Sauce. But most of the other recipes were just kind of forgettable.

I decided to try the Vegetable Korma as Jeremy likes Indian food and I haven’t been very proactive about making it in my own kitchen. The dish was good, but not quite as flavorful as either of us expected. The dish definitely needed some salt and maybe if I’d added a little curry powder, it might have packed more punch. I used chickpeas in place of the edamame, mostly because if we’re eating a meatless meal, chickpeas rank high on Jeremy’s preferred protein list. It was good and something I might make again, but with a little tweaking.

VEGETABLE KORMA
(from Cooking Light March 2011)
Print This Recipe

1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 c. chopped onion
1 Tbsp minced peeled ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 c. frozen shelled edamame
1 12-oz baking potato, peeled and diced
1 c. chicken broth
1 tsp flour
1 13.5-oz can light coconut milk
3 c. cauliflower florets
2 c. hot cooked rice

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, and saute for 2 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp ginger and garlic; saute for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in tomato paste and spices; saute for 1 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in edamame and potato. Combine chicken broth, flour, and milk, stirring until smooth. Add broth mixture to pan , and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 3 c. cauliflower, and simmer for 9 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.

Bon Appetit (Stephanie): Bon Appetit was filled with lots of great sounding  recipes, many of which I hope to make. Potato and Yam Soup with Bacon and Spinach; Pork and Lemongrass Meatballs in Lettuce Cups; Roasted Pears with Blackberries, Ricotta, and Lavender Sugar; Savoy Cabbage Rolls with Halibut, Browned Butter and Capers Espresso Pound Cake with Cranberries and Pecans. Don’t these sound amazing?!

But my pantry supplies dictated that those recipes would have to wait until a later date. Chocolate Puddings with Orange Whipped Cream won out for my recipe testing. It came together very quickly (besides the 3 hours for cooling in the fridge, of course). Now I don’t have any orange liqueur, but the recipe suggested Kahlua or amaretto as alternatives. So I dolloped Kahlua whipped cream on my chocolate pudding. I think the best chocolate pudding I’ve ever eaten. Delicious!

CHOCOLATE PUDDINGS WITH ORANGE WHIPPED CREAM
(from Bon Appetit March 2011)
Print This Recipe

1/2 c. + 3 Tbsp sugar, divided
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 1/2 c. whole milk, divided
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 c. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c. chilled whipping cream
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur (or Kahlua or amaretto)
1/4 tsp finely grated orange peel (omit if using a different liqueur)

Whisk 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp salt in a saucepan to blend. Add 1/2 cup milk and egg yolks; whisk until smooth. Whisk in remaining 2 cups of milk. Bring mixture to a boil over medium/high heat, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove pan from heat; add chocolate chips and butter. Whisk pudding until melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla.

Divide pudding evenly among 6 dessert cups. Place plastic wrap directly onto surface of each, covering pudding completely. Chill at least 3 hours.

Beat whipping cream, liquer, zest, 1 Tbsp sugar until peaks form. Dollop whipped cream on puddings.

Cook’s Illustrated (Alaina): One magazine I have not reviewed often (or maybe ever?!) is Cook’s Illustrated. It is a fabulous magazine! My gift subscription is just coming to an end and I will be sad for that. The recipes are amazing, the product & brand reviews are excellent, and the articles & technique explanations are incredibly understandable and helpful. The magazine contains fewer recipes than most cooking magazines but the recipes are well chosen and you know they will turn out well.

They included Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread, Boston Cream Pie, and Spaghetti with Mushrom and Tomato Sauce among other delicious-looking recipes. I decided to try the snow peas. There was an article on how to use them and several variations to make a wonderful side dish. They were so good!

SAUTEED SNOW PEAS W/LEMON & PARSLEY
Cook’s Illustrated, March/April 2011
Print This Recipe

1 Tb. vegetable oil
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 Tb.)
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt & Pepper
1/8 tsp. sugar
3/4 lb. snow peas, tips pulled off and strings removed
1 Tb. minced fresh parsley leaves

Combine 1 tsp oil, shallot, and lemon zest in small bowl. Combine 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, and sugar in second small bowl.

Heat remaining 2 tsp. oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add snow peas, sprinkle with salt mixture, and cook, without stirring, 30 second. Stir and continue to cook, without stirring, 30 seconds longer. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until peas are crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Push peas to sides of skillet; add shallot mixture to clearing and cook, mashing with spatula, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Toss to combine shallot mixture with vegetables. Transfer peas to bowl and stir in lemon juice and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Food Network (Alaina): This magazine was once again great! I must have looked through it 20 times trying to decide which recipe to try. I had several marked like Rosemary Chips, Chicken, Sausage & Peppers, Tilapia Milanese, Citrus Salad, and Gorgonzola Polenta. It was an Italian themed issue and there were a lot of great pasta recipes, too. And the pull-out of 50 recipes for this month was pesto based recipes – yum. I will be sharing one of the pesto recipes next week – it was so good! 

They had a wonderful section on bruschetta with many variations. So inspiring! I decided to try a couple of the sweet ones and they were fabulous! They would be perfect for a tea, shower, or brunch especially. They were no-too-sweet and so pretty and they had eight different ideas for the sweet bruschetta and six ideas for the savory.

ORANGE CREAM BRUSCHETTA
Food Network Magazine, March 2011
Print This Recipe

Segment a blood orange (I used regular) over a bowl: reserve juice. Toss the segments with 1 Tb. superfine sugar (I used regular). Simmer the juice and 1 Tb. of sugar in a saucepan until syrupy. Spread whipped cream on the toast rounds (I used a french baquette and toasted both sides of the bread in the oven); top with an orange segment and shaved chocolate. Drizzle with orange syrup.

BANANA-HAZELNUT BRUSCHETTA
Food Network Magazine, March 2011
Print This Recipe

Toss 2 sliced bananas with 1 Tb. melted butter; spread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and bake at 425 degress until golden, about 10 minutes (mine never really were golden but they were definitely roasted). Spread hazelnut butter (I used a chocolate hazelnut spread) on the toast rounds. Top with the toasted bananas, whipped cream, and chopped hazelnuts (I used toasted almonds).

Off the Shelf: February Magazines

Fine Cooking (Stephanie) – I enjoy looking through the pages of Fine Cooking in part because each issue offers a particular dish with recipe alternatives. The February/March issue includes meatloaf variations with aromatics, meats, mix-ins and herbs and spices ideas so you can create your own recipe. This issue also features several recipes using the banana, including Thai-Style Halibut Banana Curry with Peanuts and Banana Split Brownies.

I chose to try the Lemon-Glazed Banana Scones with Crystallized Ginger. I have to admit the flavor combination sounded strange, but nevertheless, intriguing. Also for true confession, I used powdered ginger because I wasn’t willing to send $8 on a jar of crystallized ginger for this recipe (conversion: 1/8 tsp of powdered ginger added in with the dry ingredients), so the ginger flavor is most likely less aggressive than the original recipe. Regardless, these are fantastic! I was amazed by the way the banana and lemon complemented each other.

(For any of you gluten-free readers, I successfully made these gf, but substituting my gf all-purpose flour mix of choice and adding 1 tsp of xanthan gum.)

LEMON-GLAZED BANANA SCONES WITH CRYSTALLIZED GINGER
(from Fine Cooking, Feb./Mar. 2011)
Print This Recipe

FOR THE SCONES
9 oz (2 c.) unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed
1/4 c. granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
3/8 tsp salt
2 3/4 oz (5 1/2 Tbsp) cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 small ripe (but not mushy) banana, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/2 c.)
1 Tbsp minced crystallized ginger
3/4 c. + 2 Tbsp heavy cream; more for brushing
coarse white sanding sugar, optional

FOR THE GLAZE
3 oz (3/4 c.) confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz (1 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt

Position the rack in the top third of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Stack two rimmed baking sheets and line the top one with parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. With your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until a few pea-size lumps remain. Stir in the banana and the ginger. Add the cream; with a fork, gradually stir until the mixture just comes together.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat gently into a 7-inch circle about 1-inch thick. Using a knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges. Transfer to the baking sheet, spacing the wedges 1-2 inches apart. Brush the tops with heavy cream and sprinkle liberally with sanding sugar (optional).

Bake until the tops are golden, 19-25 minutes, rotating halfway through baking for even browning. Transfer the scones to a wire rack and cool slightly, 3-4 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, butter, and salt until smooth. Drizzle the warm scones with the glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saveur (Stephanie) – I perused the 135th issue of Saveur magazine online, the Jan./Feb. issue is the chef’s edition. I have to admit that many of the recipes didn’t appeal to me as they were ingredients I don’t typically use in my kitchen. But there were several different deviled egg recipes I found interesting. I tried the Bacon-and-Cheddar Deviled Eggs; how could they not be delicious?! 🙂

BACON-AND-CHEDDAR DEVILED EGGS
(from Saveur Magazine, Jan./Feb. 2011)
Print This Recipe

MAKES 12

6 eggs
1/4 cup finely grated sharp cheddar, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 slices bacon, cooked and chopped, plus 2 tsp. rendered bacon fat reserved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Hot sauce, such as Sriracha, to garnish

Put eggs into a 4-qt. pot of water and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let sit 15 minutes. Drain eggs and crack each shell slightly. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water and let cool. Peel eggs. Halve each egg; using a small spoon, transfer yolks to a medium bowl. Using a fork, mash yolks. Add cheddar, mayonnaise, 3/4 of the chopped bacon, and bacon fat; season with salt and pepper. Stir vigorously with spatula until smooth.

Transfer mixture to a plastic bag or a piping bag fitted with a smooth tip and pipe into egg whites. Garnish eggs with the remaining bacon, more cheddar, and hot sauce and serve cold or at room temperature.

Bon Appetit (Alaina) – This issue had some great looking recipes. They have a section an interesting section on honey as well as a variety of chili recipes. The Honey-Roasted Onion Tart, Roasted Beets & Citrus w/Feta, Sesame Cilantro Soup, Black Bean Chili w/Butternut Squash, and Fresh Pinapple Trifles w/Orange-Coconut Cream are just a few of the tempting recipes. However…

…Just look at the cover of this magazine. Yum. And with a boast of them being the best brownies ever and that you would want to eat the entire pan, well, I simply had to try them. Not that I needed them, mind you – it was all in the interest of kitchen research, of course. 🙂 The verdict: I DID want to eat the whole pan but I restrained myself. Despite my adding way too much flour, they turned out simply delicious. I think the combination of the browned butter, walnuts, and rich chocolatey goodness made them irresistable. [On a side note, I used dark chocolate cocoa powder.] These would be an excellent Valentine’s Dessert if you are cooking dinner for two. You could use a cookie cutter to cut them into hearts and serve them with ice cream or fresh whipped cream or all by themselves. Seriously good, folks. Make them. 

COCOA BROWNIES w/BROWNED BUTTER & WALNUTS 
(aka delicious and worth every calorie)
Bon Appetit, February 2011
Print This Recipe

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 brownies. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Off the Shelf: December Magazines

I (Alaina) was beginning to think we would never get this post up! It’s been just a  little crazy but here it is! We decided to do a cookie theme magazine review and so we each chose a cookie recipe from a few of the December issues. Really most of them had some great ideas for baking and entertaining with the exception of Cooking Light – sadly, it was a disappointing December issue. It lacked the festive inspiration that the other magazines achieved.

Food Network Magazine (Stephanie): This month’s Food Network Magazine is filled with lots of tasty looking recipes! There were several cookie recipes I hope to try like Cappuccino Pinwheels, Double Chocolate Crackles, and Golden Sesame Roll-ups. But I decided to try the Thumbprints. I adapted them very successfully to be gluten-free by using my favorite gf all-purpose flour mix and adding 1/2 tsp xanthan gum. They are like tiny butter cookies with a jam center.

THUMBPRINTS
(from Food Network Magazine, Dec. 2010)
Print This Recipe

2 c. all-purpose flour (for gf: use scant 2 c. gf all-purpose mix + 1/2 tsp xanthan gum)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Assorted jams (orange, raspberry, strawberry, apricot), for filling
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add half the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Knead a few times by hand to bring the dough together.

Roll teaspoonfuls of dough into balls and place about 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Make an indentation in the center of each ball with a small measuring spoon or the back of a pen. Fill each indentation with jam (a scant 1/8 tsp).

Bake until the edges of the cookies are goldent, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioner’s sugar, if desired. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

 

 Saveur (Stephanie): These naturally gluten-free cookies, with the intriguing name of Basler Brunsli, are delicious! A specialty Christmas cookie from Northern Switzerland that apparently date from as far back as the Medieval times.  They reminded me of chocolate gingerbread or chocolate molasses cookies, though they have neither ginger nor molasses. I imagine these might become a Christmas tradition at our house!

BASLER BRUNSLI (Chocolate Almond Spice)
(from Saveur Magazine, Dec. 2010)
Print This Recipe

8 oz whole blanched almonds
1 1/2 c. sugar, plus more for rolling
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cloves
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

Combine almonds and sugar in food processor and pulse to grind.  Add chocolate and pulse. Add spices and egg whites and pulse to form a dough.

Place dough between two pieces of parchment paper sprinkled with sugar. Roll to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out into desired shape. Place 1-inch apart on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Dry for 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 300°F. Bake for 12-15 minutes until slightly puffed.

Everday Food (Alaina) – This is just such a great little magazine and the December issue is no exception. They had many tasty recipes and on the cookie recipe, I would love to try the Gingerbread Trees w/Lemon Icing (I was out of molasses and thus didn’t get them made!). Spiced Cupcakes w/Citrus Glaze, Moroccan Chicken and Rice w/Chickpeas, Baked Tortellini w/Bacon, Grapefruit-White Wine Sparkler and Antipasti Pizza are a few of the other recipes that looked delicious!

I finally settled on the Holiday Shortbread Cookies – the chocolate variety. They were quite good and a little different. The coarse salt definitely goes with the popular salted chocolate (and caramel) flavors. Personally, I would have decreased the salt by 1/2 tsp. and added 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. That aside, these were buttery, chocolatey, and addictive. They were perfectly crisp and looked pretty – I dusted them with powdered sugar for serving.

HOLIDAY SHORTBREAD COOKIES – Everyday Food, December 2010
Print This Recipe

1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
2 c. flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
6 oz. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/3 c. coarse or sanding sugar (optional), for decorating

In food processor, combine butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Process until smooth. Add flour and cocoa and pulse just until combined. Add chocolate and process until combined. From dough into an 8-inch round or square log; wrap tightly in plastic and freeze until firm, 30 minutes (or up to 1 month).

Preheat oven to 350 with racks in upper and lower thirds. Cut dough into 1/4 inch thick slices. Dip edges in sugar if desired and transfer to two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges. 15-18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on sheets. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Wrap cookies tightly with plastic and keep at room temperature up to 1 week.

Bon Appetit (Alaina) – It should come as no suprise that I really like this issue. I recently renewed by subscription to Bon Appetit for the next three years – it was a great deal and I have loved pretty much all of the recipes we’ve tried! I would love to tell you that I made the cake on the cover  (it’s gorgeous!) but alas, it has not made it’s way into my kitchen yet. 🙂 I did try the Curried Lentil Soup which will post about next week – yum!

This issue has some great looking recipes like Beet & Tangerine Salad w/Cranberry Dressing, Spinach Parmesan Souffle, Spicy Shrimp Quesadilla, Lamb Pita Sandwiches w/Kiwi Yogurt, & Double Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies. I made the Lemon Sugar Cookies and they are super easy, pretty, and absolutely delicious! They will definitely be made again. I was impressed with the simplicity of the ingredients and yet each ingredient adds so much flavor and texture. If you like lemon, you will really enjoy these!

LEMON SUGAR COOKIES – Bon Appetit, December 2010
Print This Recipe

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Colored sugar crystals or nonpareils

Using electric mixer, beat first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Beat in flour. Cover; chill dough until firm but not hard, about 2 hours (I actually made them right away and they worked just fine!).

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 2 large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray. Pour sugars or nonpareils into separate bowls. Working with moistened hands and 1 level tablespoon at a time, shape dough into balls. Roll balls in colored sugars to coat; arrange on sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Using bottom of glass or measuring cup, flatten each cookie to 2-inch round.

Bake cookies until golden on bottom, about 14 minutes. Cool on rack. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight.

Foodie Fridays & Weekend Fare

What great recipes and posts were submitted last week for Foodie Fridays! I didn’t get a chance to comment on all of them but they were wonderful! Hope you all had a chance to check them out. A big thanks to those of you who participated!

Weekend Fare: Fish is something that I find difficult to get right. Seems like it’s too dry, too fishy, or…you name it! The long and the short is that I keep trying and this week my whole family loved the fish. 🙂 I used Tilapia fillets which were mild and delicious. You could use lime instead of lemon if you want. Fish is one of the quickest meals to prepare – these bake in about 10-12 minutes.

LEMON TILAPIA (you could substitute another white fish if you prefer)
Print This Recipe

4 Tilapia fillets
salt & pepper
zest of 1/2-1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tb. butter

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse and pat dry the fish. Season with salt & pepper on both sides. Arrange in a greased pan. Zest lemon over the fillets. Squeeze fresh juice over it all. Bake for 10-12 minutes until it flakes easily with a fork. Remove fish from oven. Divide butter into 4 equal parts and top each fillet with the butter allowing it to melt into the fish. Enjoy!

*I’m certain you could omit the butter but it just made the dish so delicious. And I served it with a brown rice pilaf (I omitted the butter in it) and a green salad.

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FOODIE FRIDAYS!

Welcome to another edition of Foodier Fridays! There is so much we can learn and share from one another! We hope you will find this feature encouraging and inspiring.

Here are just a few guidelines for participating in Foodie Fridays:
1) Leave a link to your post with Mr. Linky (you can also click on Mr. Linky to check out who has linked up!).
2) Your entry can include a recipe, a kitchen success, an ingredient, a tradition, a book/magazine/restaurant review, a favorite (or not) tool or gadget, food photos, recipe website, a food memory, a cooking or eating experience or anything food related.
3) Please link back here in your participating post.

Hope you have fun, meet new people, learn a few things, feel encouraged, and find inspiration as you cook, bake, and entertain!

Weekend Fare & Winners!

First, we are so pleased to announce that the winner (by popular vote!) of the Friday Feature naming contest is Amy E. with her suggestion of Foodie Fridays! Congratulations, Amy! We will send you the Salad Cookbook. Thanks to all of you for the great suggestions! We look forward to beginning our new feature in September and we hope that many of you will join in with your recipes and photos and food stories!

And the random winner of the Deceptively Delicious Cookbook is Monica! Congratulations!

Today I wanted to share a couple of baked blueberry recipes. Blueberries are my husbands favorite fruit and I grew up picking and freezing blueberries every year – something I have continued to do! So, needless to say, we make lots of blueberry items. I tried a couple new recipes this week. The first is a crumb cake which I thought was good but a little dry – I should have baked it for a little less time. The second is cheesecake bars which were absolutely wonderful and the recipe would be quite adaptable for a variety of flavors – it will definitely be added to my regular dessert repertoire.


BLUEBERRY CRUMB CAKE – Ina Garten
Print This Recipe

For the streusel:

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

For the cake:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.

For the streusel:

Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour. Mix well and set aside.

For the cake:

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high-speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low-speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out with a knife. With your fingers, crumble the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. 

LEMON BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE BARS
(Adapted from Tyler Florence)
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For the base:

Butter, for greasing
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
9 graham crackers
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

For the base:

Grease the bottom of a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with butter. Then place parchment paper over the top, pressing down at the corners. In a food processor, process the sugar, cinnamon and graham crackers until you have the texture of bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Pour into the lined baking pan and gently pat down with the base of a glass. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden. When done set aside to cool.

For the filling:

Add cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar to the food processor and mix until well combined. It should have a smooth consistency. Gently mix in the blueberries.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours. Once set, remove from pan using the parchment lining and slice into 10 rectangular bars. Garnish with fresh blueberries if desired.

Weekend Fare: Easter Brunch

I love holidays and Easter is the one I most often host for my great big family! Planning the menu, setting the table, designing the favors/placecards, and then actually cooking are all so fun for me.


For the past couple of years, I have done an Easter brunch with ham as the centerpiece. I’m always looking for an excuse to serve brunch. Unfortunately, I’m not hosting this year since we are still living in a hotel from the smoke damage a couple of weeks ago. We are making the best of it and I will still be helping with some of the cooking at my parent’s house and I’m planning to do the favors. Anyway, here are a few recipes that we enjoy for a special brunch.

I often use asparagus and tomatoes with a balsamic vinaigrette so I’m posting two version of this recipe but only have one photo. These are both beautiful with lots of color!


MARINATED VEGETABLE SALAD
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1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch asparagus, blanched and sliced into 1 inch pieces
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
1 english (seedless) cucumber, sliced or diced
Italian dressing (you can buy this or make your own)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine all vegetables in a pretty serving dish. Season with salt & pepper. Dress with Italian dressing and toss. Allow salad to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serves 8 or so.

TOMATO ASPARAGUS SALAD
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2 bunches asparagus, blanched and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 pints tomatoes (I use cut up campari or romas, cherry, and sometimes yellow pear)
salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Combine tomato and aspargus. Season with salt & pepper. Dress with twice as much olive oil as balsamic vinegar (or you can purchase a Balsamic Vinaigrette (Newman’s Own is excellent). Toss to coat. Makes 8 servings or so.

These tiered platters make fruit presentation gorgeous! For Easter, I would add strawberries even though it’s a little early for them, I love that they remind me of spring! You can use whatever seasonal fruits you want. Arrange them on a platter and serve with this simple dip.


GREEK YOGURT FRUIT DIP
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1 – 16 oz container plain greek yogurt
1/4. honey
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients. You can add more honey if you prefer it sweeter. Serve with fresh fruit.

I made these blueberry lemon scones and they were delicious! They are also beautiful! Lemon is another spring-y flavor to me. So these would be an excellent brunch addition.


BLUEBERRY LEMON SCONES

(adapted from food network)
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2 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tb. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tb. sugar
5 Tb. unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
1 c. heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1 Tb. fresh lemon zest

Lemon Glaze
1/2 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 c. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 lemon, zest finely grated
1 Tb. butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift together the dry ingredients. Using 2 knives or a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with the flour. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Stir in the lemon zest. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Take care not to mash or bruise the blueberries because their strong color will bleed into the dough.

Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 3 by 1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then cut the pieces in 1/2 again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut the squares in 1/2 on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown. Let the scones cool a bit before you apply the glaze.

For the glaze, combine the lemon juice, sugar, zest, and melted butter. Whisk to incorporate and remove any lumps. Drizzle on warm scones.

Weekend Fare: Pasta & Salad

I’m not sure I would serve these dishes together but individually they are quite good. Citrus is delicious used in savory ways – it adds freshness and acidity.

This lemon pasta is very lemony. I used a lemon pasta which made it even more tart. We enjoyed it – I’ve given a couple of ideas of ways to make it more of a main dish at the bottom of the recipe.

LEMON CREAM PASTA
(adapted from Rachael Ray)

Salt
1 lb. pasta (spaghetti, fuseli – whatever you prefer – I used a lemon pasta)
3 Tb. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 lemons, zested and juiced
3/4 c, heavy cream
1 c. Parmesan Cheese, grated
Handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 c. fresh basil, very thinly sliced

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and drop the spaghetti into the pot.

Heat a large deep skillet over low heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.

When the pasta has been cooking about 5 minutes, add lemon juice, a ladle of the cooking water from the pasta and the cream to the garlic and oil. Raise heat a bit to bring sauce to a bubble.

Drain pasta when it still has a good bite to it, al dente. Add lemon zest and half of the cheese to the cream sauce. Season the sauce with salt, to taste. Add pasta to pan and turn off heat. Toss the pasta with sauce a minute or 2, allowing it time to soak up the sauce.

Top the plates of pasta or platter with remaining cheese, parsley and basil.

*This would be excellent with broccoli and chicken added. Just reduce the amount of pasta to 1/2 lb. and cook 1 head of broccoli florets with the pasta. Drain and toss in sauce along with 1 – 1  1/2 c. chopped cooked chicken. Toss and serve.

My youngest son loved the avacado and grapefruit – even with the dijon dressing. We really like this salad – the original recipe does not call for it to be served on the lettuce but we much prefered it served over greens. Overall a delightful and unexpected combination of flavors. It’s a beautiful salad to serve as well.

GRAPEFRUIT AVOCADO SALAD
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

1 Tb. Dijon mustard
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. olive oil
4 ripe Hass avocados
2 lg. red grapefruits
1/2 lb. mixed greens or romaine hearts

Place the mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.

Before serving, cut the avocados in 1/2, remove the seeds, and carefully peel off the skin. Cut each half into 8 slices. Toss the avocado slices in the vinaigrette to prevent them from turning brown. Use a large, sharp knife to slice the peel off the grapefruits (be sure to remove all the white pith), then cut between the membranes to release the grapefruit segments.

Arrange greens or lettuce on a large platter then top with the avocado and grapefruit slices. Spoon the vinaigrette on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.