Friday, April 21, 2017

Butter Lettuce Salad



I really wanted to make something refreshing and light after this long eight day eating fest-- called Passover! I recommend keeping the raspberries refrigerated until assembly. After rinsing them, dry them well, and coarsely chop. I used toasted pine nuts and this adds a whole layer of flavor to the dressing, and to the salad. Using raw pine nuts will change the flavor of this salad; if you only have raw pine nuts, toss them into a skillet for 2 minutes on a medium flame until fragrant and lightly toasted. Save the extra pesto sauce to marinade any protein or toss into pasta! 

Here's my little guy hanging out with me while I snapped some pictures this pretty salad.

Salad Ingredients 
14 oz butter lettuce
1 cup fresh raspberries, coarsely chopped  
1 cup toasted pine nuts 
1 bunch scallions small chopped 
Pesto Dressing 
1 cup toasted pine nuts 
1 cup, tightly packed basil
1 cup, curly parsley 
6 garlic cloves, crushed  
1 tbsp kosher salt 
1 tbsp coarse black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zest and juice

Directions:
Add the pine nuts, basil, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until ingredients form a dough-like ball. Transfer mixture to a bowl and whisk in extra virgin olive oil. Zest and juice one whole lemon over the pesto sauce. whisk until completely combine. 
Assemble salad right before serving: Toss lettuce in a 1/4 cup of dressing until even coated (add more if desired). Top with raspberries, pine nuts, and scallions. Give salad one more toss and serve. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Chocolate Fudge Brownie Cake

 Growing up, there was never a shortage of good desserts for Pesach. My mom who is the Moroccan equivalent of Julia Child, always prepared rich chocolate mousses topped with fresh cream, meringues with the tallest peaks, pans of sinful brownies, and almond flour cakes that were more beautiful and decadent than most year round bake shops. However, bad dessert is usually synonymous with Pesach for most people, so I decided it would be a good idea to share a full proof dessert to help everyone out. Here's a brownie cake recipe I whipped together this week to share with you; the ganache has a special note at the end of the recipe if you'd like to turn it into a frosting for a cake.  

Ingredients 
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs 
1 tsp kosher salt 
3/4 cup dutch cocoa powder 

Chocolate Ganache
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup coconut cream
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp kosher salt 
**for frosting 
add 3 cups confectioner's sugar

Coconut Streusel 
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Maldon sea salt 
3 tablespoons honey


Directions
Preheat oven to 375° and grease an 8" cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, grease parchment paper. in a double boiler set chocolate and coconut oil. Melt chocolate in oil and continue stirring until chocolate is smooth and glassy. Remove bowl from boiler and whisk in sugar. Continue whisking in one egg at a time. Stir in kosher salt. Sift cocoa powder over batter and gently stir in until completely combined. Pour batter into greased pan and bake for 25 minutes until top has set. Remove pan from oven, cool for 5 minutes and gently flip onto a plate.

In a small sauce pan heat coconut cream and oil until just about to boil. Once coconut cream and oil begin to lightly simmer, pour over chocolate in a large bowl. Whisk chocolate as it melts. continue whisking quickly- this is what makes a ganache glassy and smooth ( the rapid whisking). Once completely melted, stir in the vanilla and salt. **notes at bottom for making this into frosting.

Heat a large pan over a medium flame. Spread out coconut and let toast. Gently fold over coconut to keep it from burning, once coconut is fragrant and lightly toasted about 2-3 minutes, remove from flame. stir in coconut oil, vanilla, salt, and honey. 

Top brownie cake with a thick layer of ganache, letting it drip down the sides. Heavily sprinkle toasted coconut all over ganache.

**If you chose to make ganache into frosting, refrigerate ganache for 30 minutes, then with an electric beater, beat in 2 cups of confectioner's sugar until ganache has become light and fluffy. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring Salad

 If you've been following me for a while, you'll know I always try to make something bright and fresh on a rainy day. this salad is so easy, and can be dressed in advance; which makes this a good lunch option if you're on the go, and need to pack it up earlier in the day. I love herb based salads, and find that dressing this about an hour before eating- then placing it covered in the fridge to chill- adds an extra level of 'refreshing'! If you haven't used sumac before it adds a tangy lemony flavor which works really well in dressings. 

Ingredients:
2 bunches curly parsley
2 bunches mint, remove from stems
1 bunch dill
3 large red grapefruit (1 for juicing)
3 Persian cucumbers
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup grapefruit juice
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tbsp sumac
2 tsp maldon salt
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1 tsp chili flakes
1/4 cup toasted honey sliced almonds

Directions:
Wash all herbs well in ice cold water. Dry herbs in a lettuce spinner, or with paper towel. Once completely dry, small chop parsley, mint, and dill. Toss and set aside. Cut the tops and bottoms off of your grapefruits. with a serrated knife slice the peel from top to bottom of grapefruit working in small strips- until flesh is completely exposed. remove any remaining pith. Cut grapefruit slices out by slicing along the membranes of the grapefruit and then popping the slices out. Add fresh grapefruit to herb bowl. Thinly slice cucumbers keeping them round and tossing them into the salad. In a separate bowl whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, grapefruit juice, maple syrup, sumac, salt, pepper and chili flakes. once completely combine drizzle over salad and lightly toss. Sprinkle salad with toasted honey sliced almonds. Lightly toss again and serve.

Yields: 1 large bowl/ 4 servings




Monday, March 27, 2017

Beef Cheek Pizza

 I love this recipe for many reasons; mainly because it was all an accident. I always make this stew for dinner with leftover roast. I had a nice piece of cheek meat in my freezer and decided- why not turn this into a sauce, and make a beef cheek pizza. You can follow this recipe for any large cut of remaining roast you have on hand, or if you'd like to cook up a stew from scratch for dinner. This pizza is so flavorful, and beautiful. I made my own simple pizza dough, but I recommend buying a good dough to cut out prep time. 

Ingredients:
2 14oz can whole tomatoes
1 package cremini mushrooms, washed and sliced 
3 cups fresh basil
1/2 cup red wine
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp coarse black pepper
1.5lb beef cheek meat, rinsed and patted dry
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 pckg store bought pizza dough
3 tbsp preserved lemon, small chopped
2 tsp chili flakes

Directions:
Medium chop whole tomatoes. return chopped tomatoes to their sauce. In a slow cooker or crockpot add chopped tomatoes in their sauce. Toss in mushrooms, 2 cups of fresh basil, red wine, kosher salt, and coarse black pepper. stir sauce until ingredients are completely combine. Add the beef cheek meat, and cover in sauce. Set slow cooker for 7-8 hours on medium high. Once sauce is bubbling, and meat is tender remove from crockpot. Thinly slice beef cheek. 

Preheat oven to 425°. Sprinkle cornmeal on a clean countertop and roll out pizza dough until thin. Bake crust in oven for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted and baked through. Top dough in a thin layer of sauce from stew- with tomato, basil, and mushroom chunks. top dough with beef cheek slices, a few fresh basil leaves, and drizzle a couple teaspoons of preserved lemon. Sprinkle with chili flakes. 
Return pizza to the oven and finish baking until sauce and meat are sizzling, and pizza is perfectly toasted- about 5-10 more minutes.

Yields:
3 pizzas 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lemon Lavender Bars

I've been meaning to make these for the longest time. I adapted the recipe from a country living lemon lavender bar recipe I clipped a while back. It's so satisfying to have finally made them. Even my two year old son loved this more sophisticated treat. These bars are the perfect balance of tart and sweet, and the added lavender gives them a light herbal flavor. The contrast of bright yellow and deep purple make them pop. Don't wait as long as I did to make these bars! 

Ingredients 
2 cups flour 
2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 tsp salt
2 sticks butter
3 tsp lavender
2 cups sugar 
6 large eggs
2 large egg yolks 
1 cup fresh lemon juice
zest of 2 lemons

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9x13 with parchment paper leaving extra over the rim of the pan. In a food processor or blender, pulse 1 1/4 cups flour, confectioner's sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add butter, 2 teaspoons lavender and pulse until mixture forms large thick crumbs. Place dough mixture into lined pan and evenly work dough, pressing it thinly along the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
Bake crust until golden, about 22 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. 
Reduce oven temperature to 325°. In a large mixing bowl, beat together sugar, eggs, and egg yolks until pale yellow. Beat in lemon juice and zest, remaining flour and salt until completely combined. 
Pour filling into crust and sprinkle with remaining lavender. Bake until set about 25 minutes. Remove from pan and cool for 20 minutes. Then refrigerate for 1 hour. Dust the top with confectioner's sugar and cut into even squares. 

Yields: 30 squares

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Parsnip Chicken Soup

  Soup is one of my favorite things to make in the kitchen. I love how easy it is to throw things together- chopping, sweating vegetables, adding chicken or meat, or fish. Sprinkling a light pinch of salt and pepper, or marrying flavors like saffron, lemon, and leeks. Soups always taste even better the next day, and freeze well too- making it a great week night dinner option that lasts all week. 
Ingredients
4 large leeks, washed, halved, and medium chopped 
2 lb parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, rinsed and chopped
3 cups fresh spinach
1 cup fresh cilantro 
6 baby chicken legs + chicken net
kosher salt 
coarse black pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  
Directions
Heat oil in a large pot over a medium high flame. Once oil is hot, add the chopped leeks. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper, stir, and cover to let leeks sweat about 3-5 minutes. Once leeks are translucent uncover pot and continue to gently stir until leeks begin to lightly brown. Add chicken legs to chicken net with cilantro and tie closed. Place chicken net into pot. Pour 5 cups of water over chicken, submerging the chicken legs. Cover pot, and bring water to a rapid boil for about 15 minutes, and reduce flame to a medium heat continuing a light boil for about 40 minutes. Remove chicken net from pot and reserve chicken for later. Add chopped parsnips and potatoes to water. Bring water to a boil, cover pot for 15 minutes. Once vegetables are soft, puree soup. Remove skin from chicken, chop chicken up and return to soup. Give a nice stir to incorporate all chicken pieces. Add fresh spinach to soup. gently stir in. Season with salt and pepper. lightly drizzle soup bowls with olive oil, and a little cilantro before serving. 

Yields: 8 servings 



Monday, March 13, 2017

Orange Chicken & Kabocha Squash Puree

This is a vibrant, and extremely flavorful dish, that is simple to cook and quickly prepared. Here's a realistic dish- if you're short on time but want to make something new and beautiful. After crisping the chicken skin it is important to keep it uncovered, and dry to keep it from becoming soft.

Ingredients:
4 Chicken Capons
2 blood oranges, thinly sliced
1 naval orange
1 tbsp orange zest
kosher salt
coarse black pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh mint

Squash Puree
1 kabocha squash, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup coconut cream
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp coarse black pepper
2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425°. Rinse and pat dry chicken capons. sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large cast iron, or nonstick pan. Once oil is hot add capons, skin side down, letting chicken skin brown for 2 minutes. Remove chicken from pan skin side up (to keep it from uncrisping). Line a large baking sheet. Add the oil from the pan, and squeeze juice of naval orange as well. lay out sliced blood oranges. Top oil and orange slices with capons, skin side up. Sprinkle with a mint, and orange zest. (you don't want to wet the skin of the chicken to keep it crisp) Bake on the middle rack of the oven, uncovered from 20-25 minutes. Once chicken is golden brown and crisp remove from oven.

In a large pot add squash and cover with water. bring to a rapid boil. Once squash is soft about 20 minutes, drain water from pot. Add coconut cream, kosher salt, pepper, and orange juice. Stir well.

Top puree with chicken, and orange slices. Spoon over sauce from pan.

Yields: 4 servings