Sunday, February 28, 2010

Get Ready for a Sexy New Cocktail: The Blood Orange Vodkatini

blood orange vodkatini

I'm not a big drinker, but I do love an occasional vodkatini, the Cosmopolitan being the prototype. A vodkatini is a cocktail made with vodka served "up" (without ice). It often includes vermouth, liquers, fruit juices, and fresh fruit.

Since it's peak blood orange season here in California, I was inspired to create my own cocktail, which I have named a "Blood Orange Vodkatini." The name "Blood Orange Vodkatini" may be more cosmopolitan than a Cosmopolitan.

Blood oranges are stunning. Peel back their orange and red speckled rind, and you'll discover a brilliant crimson flesh that is pleasingly sweet and tart. In this Blood Orange Vodkatini, the tangy blood orange juice is balanced by the sweeter Grand Marnier, creating a bright, smooth, and refreshing cocktail.

Blood Orange Vodkatini
Makes 1
Print recipe only here.

3 ounces vodka, preferably Ketle One
1 ounce Grand Marnier
1 1/2 ounces fresh blood orange juice

1. Add ingredients and ice to a cocktail shaker. Shake under your fingers feel frozen. Strain into a chilled martini glass.

You might also enjoy these blood orange recipes from Food Blogga:
Tilapia with Zesty Blood Orange and Mango Salsa
Wild Arugula and Blood Orange Salad with Prosciutto
Italian Almond and Orange Torte with Blood Orange Compote

For more about the history of blood oranges and four more recipes, check out "Blood Oranges: Change You Can Believe In," one of my NPR Kitchen Window pieces from last year.

You might also enjoy these blood orange cocktail recipes:
Blood Orange Margarita Cocktail recipe at Wasabimon!
Blood Orange Ginger Saketini recipe at Kahakai
Midnight Ride Cocktail recipe at White on Rice Couple

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Say Good Morning to Glazed Meyer Lemon and Blueberry Cream Scones (Recipe)

Meyer Lemon and Blueberry Cream Scones

Nothing says "Good Morning!" on a dreary winter day quite as cheerfully as freshly baked, still warm, Glazed Meyer Lemon and Blueberry Cream Scones.

Meyer lemons, prized for their sweet-tart flavor and deep yellow, thin rinds, add brightness to otherwise ho-hum cream scones. And just because it's winter time, doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy blueberries. Unthawed frozen blueberries (or raspberries) work beautifully in baked goods, like these scones. Be careful though -- once you take a bite, you may get fooled into thinking summer is just around the corner.

Glazed Meyer Lemon and Blueberry Cream Scones
Makes 8 large or 10-12 small scones
Print recipe only here.

Note: If you can't find Meyer lemons, then substitute regular lemons. 

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
2 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice
2/3 cup unthawed frozen blueberries

Egg Wash:
1 egg, lightly beaten OR 1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon milk, lightly beaten

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest (1/2 teaspoon if you'd like a less pronounced lemon flavor)
2 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice
a few drops of milk as needed 

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place oven racks in top and bottom thirds of the oven. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and stir.

3. Cut the butter into small pieces, and add to the flour mixture. Mix with a pastry blender or fork, until a coarse meal forms with tiny pea-sized butter pieces.

4. Whisk eggs and heavy cream in a small bowl. Stir in zest and juice. Add to the flour and butter mixture. Begin to gently mix with a spatula. Add the blueberries. Mix until just combined. (It's OK if a few berries bleed.) Do not over mix, or the dough will become leaden.

5. Using a floured surface, shape the dough into 1 large or 2 small disks, about 1/2-inch thick. With a wet knife (to make slicing easier) cut the dough into triangular shaped scones. Place scones on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Brush scones with egg wash.

7. Bake scones for 15 minutes, rotating pans mid-way through, or until puffed and golden; transfer to a rack to cool. Cool completely before glazing.

8. For the glaze: Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. The glaze should cling to the back of a spoon. For easy clean up, place a sheet of parchment paper underneath the wire rack before glazing the scones. Drizzle glaze over scones. Cool completely until the glaze hardens.

Here are more baked goods recipes that will brighten your morning:
Kiwi and Coconut Muffins
Orange, Walnut, and Chocolate Chip Muffins
Apricot, Ginger, and White Chocolate Scones
Banana, Coconut, and Medjool Date Bread

You might also enjoy these scones:
Pistachio and Date Scones recipe at EatMakeRead
Carrot Walnut Scones recipe at Not Eating Out in New York
Maple Oatmeal Scones recipe at The Way The Cookie Crumbles
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones recipe at Mingling of Tastes

Monday, February 22, 2010

Heaven-Sent Macaroni and Cheese


Last week when my nieces from Rhode Island were visiting, I asked the 9-year-old what she would like for dinner. "Do you have any macaroni and cheese?" she asked.

"Sure, I'll make you some macaroni and cheese," I said, and began assembling the ingredients on the counter top, including pasta, milk, butter, and cheese.

She looked confused. "Where's the box?" she asked.

"What box?"

"The box that the macaroni and cheese comes in," she said.

"I don't use the kind that comes in a box. I'm going to make you macaroni and cheese from scratch," I said. "Do you think it'll be better than the one in the box?"

"Mmmm... I don't know. We'll see," she said.

She watched intently as I began making the macaroni and cheese. When I poured the shells into the boiling water, she asked, "Where are the elbows?"

"I'm using shells instead of elbows," I said.

"Mmm...." she replied quietly.

I was dealing with one shrewd mac n' cheese eater.

She observed silently as I whisked the cheese sauce made with both sharp white Cheddar and Gruyere until slow, large bubbles rose to the surface, gurgled, then popped. When it was irresistibly thick and creamy, I poured it over the hot pasta and stirred vigorously.

As it baked it the oven, the assertive aroma of Gruyere cheese permeated the kitchen. "That doesn't smell like macaroni and cheese," she said.

"Uh-oh," I thought to myself. "I went too far. I shouldn't have used Gruyere."

"But it still smells good," she added.

"Whew," I thought, "that was a close one."

As I removed the dish from the oven, she was impressed by its golden, bubbly, cheese topping. "Oooh, that looks good. It's all crunchy on top. The one in the box doesn't do that," she said.

"Ha! I've got her now," I thought.

Of course, what really mattered was the taste. I placed a big wedge of macaroni and cheese in front of her, anxiously awaited her evaluation. She took a mouthful. There was a slight hesitation as she held it in her mouth. Then she began chewing and smiling. She swallowed. Her eyes rolled upward, and she said breathlessly, "Auntie Susan, this is heaven."

That's right, baby. Score one for Auntie Susan.

heaven-sent macaroni and cheese

Heaven-Sent Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 6
Print recipe only here.

1 pound small shells, or other macaroni, such as elbows
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups sharp white Cheddar cheese, plus 1/2 cup for the top
1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese, plus 1/2 cup for the top
a generous amount of salt and black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a deep 2 1/2 quart baking dish with butter or cooking spray.

2. Cook pasta in salted water, about 2 minutes short of being fully cooked; it will finish cooking in the oven. Drain the cooked pasta, but do not rinse. Place in a large bowl.

3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Slowly add milk, whisking continuously, until it reaches a boil. Reduce heat, and cook 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add cheese and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth; remove from heat. Add cooked pasta to the cheese sauce, and toss well. Pour into the prepared baking dish and top with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake until the cheese bubbles around the edges and the top turns golden brown, about 35-40 minutes.

You might also enjoy these pasta recipes from Food Blogga: 
Italian Macaroni and Cheese with Pancetta
Creamy Goat Cheese and Beet Green Pasta
Penne with Italian-American "Gravy," Meatballs, and Sausage
Orange Cauliflower Mac 'n Cheese (yes, it's healthier and good)
Cellentani with Lemony Broccoli, Toasted Walnuts, and Breadcrumbs

You might also enjoy these macaroni and cheese recipes:
Crab Mac n' Cheese recipe from Use Real Butter
Mushroom-Herb Macaroni and Cheese recipe from Brown Eyed Baker
Chef Terrance Brennan's Gourmet Mac n' Cheese recipe from Picky Palate
Slow-Roasted Tomato Macaroni and Cheese recipe from The Perfect Pantry

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's the Season for California Cara-Cara Oranges

cara-cara oranges

When my mom and nieces arrived the other night from Rhode Island, I asked them what they wanted to do while they were in California. The 9-year-old said, "Buy California oranges for Daddy!"

Keep in mind that Jeff and I live within 15 minutes of the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and some fantastic beaches. But, it was oranges they wanted, so oranges they got. Lots of them. We went to the Coronado farmers' market and bought freshly picked California navel, blood, and Cara-Cara oranges.

cara-cara orange

Cara-Cara oranges, which are at their peak in California right now, are refreshing, tangy, and juicy, sort of like a sweeter version of pink grapefruit. In fact because of their brilliant pinkish-orange flesh, they're often called "pink navels." They're delicious eaten out-of-hand, but I love them in winter salads, like this Frisee and Cara-Cara Orange Salad. The contrasting flavors of bitter frisee and sweet-tart Cara-Cara oranges are balanced with a lively mustard, orange juice, and sherry vinaigrette. 

Now that we've got the orange buying out of the way, we can finally go to the zoo. Let's hope they don't want to bring Daddy an elephant or a giraffe.

frisee and cara cara orange salad

Frisee and Cara-Cara Orange Salad
Serves 2
Print recipe only here.

1 medium head frisee
1 large Cara-Cara orange

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
several shakes of salt and black pepper

1. Wash, rinse, and pat dry the frisee. Using your hands, tear into small pieces.

2. Peel orange and slice into sections. Toss with frisee in a medium bowl.

3. Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over salad and toss. Serve.

You might also enjoy these winter salad recipes from Food Blogga:
Warm Barley and Fennel Salad
Apple, Fennel, and Celery Salad
Watercress, Avocado, and Orange Salad
Dandelion, Persimmon, and Medjool Date Salad
Wild Arugula and Blood Orange Salad with Prosciutto

Here are more winter salad recipes you might enjoy:
Carrot and Raisin Salad recipe at Homesick Texan
Roasted Root Vegetable and Wheat Berry Salad recipe at David Lebovitz
Winter Salad with Fennel, Pear, Orange, and Pecan recipe at The Passionate Cook
Winter Fruit Salad with Persimmons, Pears and Agave-Pomegranate Vinaigrette at Kalyn's Kitchen

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Family is Smitten with Triple Chocolate Espresso Bean Cookies from 101 Cookbooks


My brothers and I don't do birthday presents. Instead, we call each other and chat on our birthdays (that is, when we don't forget to call) and lament that we're getting older. However, since I was home for my brother Chris's birthday in October, I thought I'd surprise him with a batch of Heidi's Triple Chocolate Espresso Bean Cookies.

Anyone who knows my brother Chris, knows that his favorite things in the world are fast cars, coffee flavored foods, and leggy blonds, not necessarily in that order. So I was pretty sure he'd like these cookies. What I wasn't expecting was that everyone else in the family would like these cookies too, actually, love these cookies.

double chocolate espresso cookies DSC_0094

Once the cookies were baked, family members kept wandering into the kitchen to ask if they could help with anything for the party. Inevitably, they'd swipe a cookie. After a couple of hours, I panicked. "Mom, I made 3 dozen cookies, and they're half gone!"

"Half gone? No, that can't be."

That's when I showed her the pitifully scarce cookie tray. She put her hand to mouth in disbelief. "Oh, my God! We ate half the cookies! Those were supposed to be for Christopher's birthday party!"

"I know. That's what I've been trying to tell you."

"Do you think we should make another batch?"

"We don't have time. We just need to the hide the rest of them until the party."

Then like Lucy and Ethel, we began scurrying around my mom's house for a hiding place. We found a good one. I'm not divulging the location because my mom will likely have to use it again when she makes these cookies for the next family birthday party.

Just what makes Heidi's espresso cookies so irresistible? They're baked with chocolate covered espresso beans which makes them wonderfully bumpy and intensely flavorful. Neither the coffee nor the chocolate dominates in this recipe; rather, they complement each other deliciously.

Oh, as for Chris, well, he loved the cookies. Not as much as fast cars and leggy blonds, but, then again, he's a guy.

double chocolate espresso cookies DSC_0108

Triple Chocolate Espresso Bean Cookies
Slightly adapted from an original at 101 Cookbooks
Makes about 36 cookies
Print recipe only here

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons espresso powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa (not Dutched)
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups white sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chocolate covered espresso beans

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine flours, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa.

3. In a separate large bowl, add butter and sugar. Using an electtic hand mixer on high speed, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Add the dry ingredients in batches, beating after each. Beat until well incorporated. You should have a moist, dark brown dough. Stir in the chocolate chips and espresso beans.

4. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough two inches apart (as they will spread). Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until firm around the edges. Transfer to a rack and cool for 15 minutes.

5. To store cookies, layer between pieces of waxed paper to prevent sticking and place in an air-tight container. Properly stored, cookies should last up to a week.

You might also like these cookie recipes from Food Blogga:
Hello Dolly Cookie Bars
Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti
Maple Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Here are more enticing chocolate and espresso desserts:
Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes recipe at Baking Bites
Flourless Chocolate Espresso Truffle Cake recipe at Use Real Butter
Chocolate Espresso Cookie Rounds with PB Chips recipe at Bread+Butter
Dark Chocolate Souffle Cakes with Chocolate Espresso Sauce recipe at No Special Effects

Friday, February 12, 2010

What is Broccoflower? Broccoli and Cauliflower's Wild Child.

green cauliflower or broccoflower  DSC_0001

Can two duds mate and create a beauty? Yes, they can.

Look at broccoli and cauliflower. For years these unassuming, cold-weather crucifers have withstood derision. They have been called bland, boring, even, smelly. Unfair, yes, but true.

Then one day broccoli and cauliflower shocked the world: They got together and produced a wild child, which they named, rather predictably, broccoflower. Broccoflower resembles its parents in shape, texture, and flavor, though it can sometimes be sweeter. Its color, however, is radically different. Broccoflower's psychedelic lime green coloring stops market-goers in their tracks. So too does its price, which is typically $4-5 a head. It's funny though how most people who wouldn't dream of paying $2.99 for a head of white cauliflower will gladly fork over $4-5 for a head of broccoflower.

Cook and eat broccolflower as you would broccoli or cauliflower -- raw, steamed, boiled, broiled, roasted, or sauteed. Cooking it al dente helps maintain its vivid color and crisp texture. For a fast, delicious, and healthy mid-week meal, try this Easy Chicken Saute with Broccoflower, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Olives. Broccoflower's sweetness is accentuated by pungent onions, rich sun-dried tomatoes, and briny olives.

Despite its humble lineage, weird name, and supernatural color, there's no denying, broccoflower is a cruciferous starlet. 


Easy Chicken Saute with Broccoflower, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Olives
Serves 4
Print recipe only here.

Feel free to add a couple of drops of vinegar to the water as you par-boil the broccoflower to help maintain its vivid color.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 - 1 1/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and black pepper
1 medium head broccoflower, broken into florets
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup thinly sliced sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup sliced mixed olives, such as Cerignola and Kalamata
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (or basil or parsley)

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil; add onions and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Season the chicken with salt and black pepper; cook until browned all over yet still tender, about 8-10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile cut broccoflower into florets. Place in a large pot of boiling water for 3 minutes; drain.

3. Once chicken is browned, add the broccoflower, cooking until browned in spots. Add white wine (the alcohol will burn off, but the food will be infused with its flavor). Once the alcohol reduces, add the vegetable broth, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook for 10-12 minutes. Turn off heat; stir in fresh rosemary and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. You could also sprinkle a little freshly grated Parmesan on top.

You might also enjoy these bold, colorful recipes from Food Blogga: 
Grilled Shrimp and Avocado Salad
Hearty Mediterranean Vegetable Stew with Olives 
Wild Arugula and Blood Orange Salad with Prosciutto
Roasted Acorn Squash with Medjool Dates and Toasted Almonds

You might also enjoy these broccoflower recipes: 
Oven Roasted Broccoflower recipe at Piccante Dolce
Broccoflower Soup recipe at La Tartine Gourmande
Matcha Wasabi Mashed Broccoflower recipe at Eating Out Loud

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Romantic Valentine's Day Dessert: Seductive Strawberry Zabaglione

seductive strawberry zabaglione DSC_0003

OK, guys. I know you've been checking out my Super Bowl recipes. Now that Super Bowl Sunday is over, get ready for the second biggest Sunday of the year: Sunday, February 14th, Valentine's Day. Don't panic. I've got ya covered.

Whether you surprise her with reservations at her favorite restaurant or make a romantic dinner for two at home, you've got to make her Seductive Strawberry Zabaglione for dessert. Red, ripe strawberries, velvety custard, and sweet Italian wine are so sexy.

I developed this recipe with men in mind because it's easy to make, allows you to flex some muscle, which will impress her, and makes an elegant presentation. Think of it as your minimal-effort dessert with maximum sex appeal. Though I wouldn't carry that thinking into the bedroom. I'm just saying.

Seductive Strawberry Zabaglione (zah-habl-YOH-nay)
Makes 2 servings
Print recipe only here.

You can subsitiute champagne for the Marsala wine if you think it's more romantic, but the Marsala's flavor is fuller and sexier. You can also substitute raspberries if you prefer.

2 martini glasses
10-12 fresh strawberries, thinly sliced
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sweet Marsala wine

1. Divide sliced strawberries evenly among two martini glasses. Set aside.

2. In a large metal or glass bowl, vigorously whisk 2 large egg yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons sweet Marsala wine until combined. Place the bowl over a saucepan filled with 1-2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Continue to whisk until doubled in volume and thick, about 4-5 minutes. Spoon over berries. Garnish with fresh mint and serve.

You might also enjoy these easy yet romantic desserts from Food Blogga: 
Easy Chocolate Ginger Truffles
Dessert Risotto with Wine-Poached Figs
Quick Chocolate-Cinnamon Mousse with Cherries
Mini Custards with Limoncello-Spiked Raspberry Sauce

You might also enjoy these Valentine's Day desserts:
Strawberry Tart recipe at Cafe Fernando
Mini Red Velvet Cheesecake recipe at Slash Food
Limoncello Tiramisu recipe at Proud Italian Cook
Chocolate Nutella Molten Lava Cake recipe at bell'alimento

The most important part of Valentine's Day is dessert, but here are some Valentine's Day dinner ideas too:  

Camembert and Kumquat Chutney Toasts
Fig, Prosciutto, and Goat Cheese Crostini 
Roasted Pepper, Olive, and Brie Bruschetta
Apple, Fennel, and Celery Salad
Sicilian Salad of Fennel, Oranges, and Olives
Wild Arugula and Blood Orange Salad with Prosciutto

Roasted Asparagus with Breadcrumbs and Parmesan
Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Chives and Thyme
Roasted Kabocha Squash with an Orange Honey Glaze
Roasted Root Vegetables with Maple Sage Glaze
Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pomegranate Glaze
Roasted Acorn Squash with Medjool Dates and Toasted Almonds

Lobster Fra Diavolo
Lobster Risotto plus a tutorial on how to make risotto.
Tagliatelle with Pan Seared Shrimp and Fennel
Pasta Shells in Creamy Saffron Sauce with Shrimp and Peas
Orange and Ginger Glazed Planked Salmon
Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Fresh Pineapple Chutney
Kona Kampachi with Meyer Lemon-Thyme Butter
Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Kumquats
Grilled Rib Eye with Chimichurri Sauce
Pork Tenderloin with Strawberry-Mango Salsa
Pork Tenderloin with Indian Spiced Cherry and Rhubarb Chutney
Fiery Shrimp with Avocado-Pomegranate-Tangerine Salsa served over Soft Polenta
Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) on Crispy Polenta with a Rosemary-Goat Cheese Sauce

Monday, February 8, 2010

This Creamy Mushroom Chestnut Soup Is Like a Best Friend

creamy mushroom chestnut soup

Mushroom soup should be like a good friend-- there for you when you need it, full of understanding and comfort, and spicy enough to make you laugh. Consider this Creamy Mushroom Chestnut Soup a best friend. We met rather informally last fall in my kitchen while I was entertaining a number of other friends including tender red bliss potatoes, earthy chestnuts, and aromatic sage. We liked each other instantly, and our friendship has continued to grow.

I'm not a possessive person, so I'd like to introduce you to her.  She'll be one of the truest friends you've ever had. 

Creamy Mushroom Chestnut Soup
Serves 4
Print recipe only here.

Meaty, smoky chestnuts and savory fresh herbs add depth to an otherwise ordinary, creamy mushroom soup. Use bottled, dried, or -- if you're up for the challenge -- freshly roasted chestnuts. For a richer soup, I suggest using cream; 2% milk is best if you're looking to save calories.

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced shallots
1 cup diced celery
2 1/2 cups peeled, diced red bliss potatoes (about 3)
8 cups mixed mushrooms, cremini and white button (about 2 1/2 pounds)
4 cups mushroom broth
8 ounces cooked chestnuts (about 20)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup cream
fresh sage, rosemary, and chopped chestnuts for optional garnish

1. Warm 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, deep pot over medium heat. Add shallots and celery, and sauté 3-5 minutes. Add potatoes and mushrooms, and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until mushrooms have released most of their liquid. Add broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10-12 minutes. Add chestnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, rosemary, sage, salt, pepper, and cream. Turn off heat, and let cool for 10 minutes before pureeing.

2. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth; return to the pot over low heat. Stir occasionally until the soup is thoroughly heated, about 10 minutes. Just prior to serving, stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter for added creaminess and depth of flavor. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Garnish individual bowls with fresh herbs and chopped chestnuts, if desired.

You might also like these friendly soup recipes from Food Blogga:
Italian Lentil Soup
New England Clam Chowder
Easy Butternut Squash, Kale, and Chickpea Soup
North African Inspired Sweet Potato, Peanut Butter, and Paprika Soup

Here are more mushroom soup recipes you might enjoy:
Cream of Mushroom Soup recipe at Kalofagas
Hungarian Mushroom Soup recipe at Lisa's Kitchen
Mushroom Coconut Soup recipe at My Own Sweet Thyme
Double Mushroom Miso Soup recipe at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Thai Spiced Mushroom Noodle Soup recipe at One Hot Stove

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Super Bowl Party Recipes: Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing

buffalo wings
Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing

The greatest thing to come out of Buffalo, NY is their wings.

Buffalo wings are chicken wings and drummettes that are fried without breading and then coated in a vinegar based sauce typically comprised of melted butter and hot sauce. They're served with a cool, tangy blue cheese dressing for dipping and some crisp celery sticks.

Buffalo wings are the ideal party food guest: they get along well with others like pizza and nachos, and they're best buds with cold beer. So they've got to be part of your Super Bowl party line-up, even if you're making different wings like my Maple-Beer-Chili Chicken Wings (which you really, really should). They're too self-confident to be intimated by other wings at the party.

maple-beer-chili chicken wings DSC_0021
Maple-Beer-Chili Chicken Wings

Buffalo Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing
Makes about 15-17 wings; 4-6 servings
Print recipe only here.

Buffalo Sauce:
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup hot chili sauce
1/4 cup Tabasco
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ketchup

Blue Cheese Dressing:
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

3- 3 1/2 pounds chicken wings, tips removed (about 15-17)
canola oil
celery sticks

1. For the buffalo sauce, whisk all ingredients in a bowl.

2. For the blue cheese dressing, stir ingredients together in a small bowl. It will be lumpy.

3. Pour 4-5 inches of canola oil in a medium pot over high heat. Pat wings dry. Place in very hot oil (about 350 degrees F) for 10 minutes, or until golden and crisp. If you don't have a thermometer, test the oil's heat by adding a bit of chicken fat to the hot oil. It should sizzle and float to the top, surrounded by bubbles. Place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Cook in batches so they’re not overcrowded.

4. Transfer cooked wings to a large bowl and cover with buffalo sauce. Toss well. Serve with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks.

Note: When buying chicken wings, look for "party wings" or wings that already have the tips removed. They're usually slightly more expensive, but you get more meat for your money and will save time by not having to remove the tips yourself.

Healthier Baked Buffalo Wings (if you must): 
1. Spread chicken wings in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon canola oil and season with salt and black pepper. Bake at 425 degrees F for 25 minutes, turning once, or until golden brown and crispy.

You might also enjoy these football foods from Food Blogga:
Spicy Black Bean Dip
Whole Wheat Veggie Pizza
Chicken, Jalapeno and Cheddar Quesadilla
Healthy Chipotle Chicken Chili with Crispy Spiced Tortillas
Chocolate Stout Pudding (for adults only!)

Here are more party chicken wings you might enjoy:
Hoison Chicken Wings recipe from The Cookmobile
Sriracha Chicken Wings recipe from White on Rice Couple
Honey-Mustard Wings and Teriyaki Wings recipes from The Sassy Radish
Monica Bhide's Indian Chicken Wings recipe at The Asian Grandmother's Cookbook

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Super Bowl Party Recipes: Roasted Tomatillo Guacamole (And Lots More!)

roasted tomatillo guacamole DSC_0030

As football fans gear up for Super Bowl Sunday, they'll buy more than 50 million pounds of avocados, almost all of which will be transformed into guacamole. How will all this guacamole get eaten? With chips, of course. 15, 000 tons of chips.

That's enough guacamole to cover a football field, end zone to end zone, waist deep.

Guacamole couldn't be easier to make, so skip the pre-made containers at the super market and make your own this year.

Though I love traditional guacamole, I'll be making my Roasted Tomatillo Guacamole Sunday, a palette-tingling concoction of silky avocado, tangy tomatillos, and hot serrano chili. Tomatillos (toh-MAH-tee-YOS), also known as green tomatoes, are a staple in Mexican cuisine, beloved for their tart, citric flavor, not unlike a Granny Smith apple. When selecting, look for smooth, crisp, papery skin and firm, brightly colored green fruit.

Even though I have eaten the following Super Bowl dishes several times in preparation for my NPR piece, Kicking Off A New Super Bowl Menu, I'll be making them again on Sunday.

After all, if I don't have a hot bowl of Chocolate-Chipotle Chili to eat at halftime, what else am I going to do to distract myself from the halftime show? 

chocolate chili con carne DSC_0004

I also wouldn't feel right celebrating Super Bowl Sunday without my good friend, Jose Cuervo, and the Tequila-Lime Shrimp Pizza he inspired.

tequila-lime shrimp pizza

As for chicken wings, well, come on, you have to eat chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday. It doesn't matter if they're classic buffalo wings or these Maple-Chili-Beer Chicken Wings. Just remember, Chicken wings : Super Bowl Sunday :: Turkey : Thanksgiving.

Game on. 

maple-beer-chili chicken wings DSC_0021

Here are more Super Bowl party foods from Food Blogga you might enjoy:
Spicy Black Bean Dip
Whole Wheat Veggie Pizza
The Southwest Hamburger 
Potato, Rosemary, and Gorgonzola Pizza
Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (for Colts fans only!)
Chocolate Stout Pudding (for adults only!)
Maple Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here are more tasty guacamole recipes you might enjoy:
Perfect Guacamole recipe from Simply Recipes
Extraordinary Guacamole recipe from Cookie Baker Lynn
Guacamole and Bacon Chunky Dip recipe at Serious Eats
Mango-Pomegranate Guacamole recipe at A Hint of Honey

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Super Bowl Party Recipes: Whole Wheat Veggie Pizza


Super Bowl Sunday is a meaty day. There will be chicken wings, chicken drumettes, and chicken pot pie. Pork spare ribs, pork hot dogs, and pulled pork sandwiches. Beef burgers, beef chilis, and beef stews. I won't even mention all the bacon.

Vegetarians will have to dig deep into their play books to even have a chance. Fortunately, they have a great offensive play: pizza. Cheesy, gooey pizza is immediately recognized as a Super Bowl food, but it can be designed entirely vegetarian. This Whole Wheat Veggie Pizza combines sauteed onions, mushrooms, and peppers with briny olives and earthy smoked Gouda.

It's sure to look as good on the big day as it does on paper. Just make sure you have a strong defensive line to keep the carnivores away from it.


Whole Wheat Veggie Pizza
Makes 1 (12-inch) pizza; about 8 slices
Print recipe only here.

For a quicker version, use a store-bought 1 pound ball of whole wheat pizza dough.

Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Dough:
1 (1/4 ounce) packet active yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup warm water
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour

Pizza Toppings:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cups white or brown cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup shredded smoked Gouda, Gruyere, or mozzarella
1/4 cup sliced olives, such as green Cerignola and black Kalamata
3/4 cup shredded part-skim milk mozzarella
fresh basil and flat-leaf parsley for garnish

1. In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast, salt, and sugar in warm water and let rest for 5 minutes. Using a spoon, gently stir in 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add flour and blend with a spoon just until the dough starts to form; using using your hands, transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly for 1-2 minutes. The finished dough should be smooth yet heavy and dense.

2. Place the dough in a medium, clean bowl coated with olive oil and rub some olive oil on top of the dough. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size (about 1- 1 1/2 hours). Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and roll out into a 12-inch disc. Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper (if using a pizza stone) or to a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil. If you like, you can let the rolled out dough rest for about 30 minutes; it will rise slightly and create a puffier crust.

3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add onions and saute 3 minutes, or until just translucent. Add mushrooms and saute 3-5 minutes until lightly browned. Add red bell peppers and saute 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from heat.

4. Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the crust. Top with the grated smoked cheese. Arrange the vegetables on top. Scatter olives. Top with the mozzarella.

5. For a pizza stone, bake at 500 degree for about 10 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is brown and the cheese is melted. For a baking sheet, bake at 450 for about 20 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is brown and the cheese is melted. Serve hot or at room temperature, and garnish with fresh herbs.

You might also enjoy these pizza and calzone recipes from Food Blogga:
Fennel Sausage and Rapini Pizza
Potato, Rosemary, and Gorgonzola Pizza
Broccolini and Sun-Dried Tomato Pie
Spinach, Nutmeg, and Ricotta Pie

Here are more delicious veggie pizza recipes you might enjoy:
The Perfect Pizza Margerita recipe at Ecurry
White Pizza with Broccoli recipe at Hedonia
Mushroom, Ricotta, and Asiago Cheese Pizza recipe at Lisa's Cooking
Healthy Mediterranean-Style Grilled Veggie Pizza recipe at Once Upon a Table

Monday, February 1, 2010

Super Bowl Party Recipes: Spicy Black Bean Dip

spicy black bean dip and chips DSC_0017

Red 28! Red 28! I like candy! Hut! Hut!

This Sunday is the 44th Super Bowl in American history. Despite its youth, it will be the largest food consumption event of the year, trailing only Thanksgiving. It isn’t a national holiday (though many would like it to be), but that doesn’t stop over 130 million Americans from treating it like one.

It's estimated that Americans will spend over $55 million dollars on food for the Super Bowl. What will all that money buy? Mostly snack foods -- more than 30 million pounds. Pretzels and popcorn get the most play, though chips and guacamole have gained yardage in the last few years. According the California Avocado Commission, over 50 million pounds of avocados will be sold in the days leading up to the Super Bowl, most of which will turned into guacamole and scooped up with 15,000 tons of chips.

Super Bowl foods have to be casual, portable, and, most important, fun. Fans don't want to think about their food; they just want to be able to hold it in their hands and not have it explode all over themselves when they jump up to high-five each other over a touchdown.

For your Super Bowl party, think like a guy. Serve sticky barbecued spare ribs, cheesy pizza, spicy chicken wings, overstuffed sandwiches, and gut-busting gumbo. For dishes requiring utensils, like chili or jumbalaya, I suggest serving them at half-time. This will both ensure the safety of your guests and distract them from the painful Super Bowl half-time show.

Serve beer. Lots of beer.

glass of beer DSC_0014

Don't use fussy dinnerware and cutlery; sturdy paper plates, double-ply paper napkins, and huge plastic cups perfect for refills are what’s needed.

Keep desserts simple. Brownies, cookies, and cookie bars are the way to go.

When the party's over, you might consider sending your guests home with a bottle of Tums and a doctor's note. Antacid sales spike 20% on "Super Monday," the day after the Super Bowl, when 6% of working Americans call in sick.

Whether you're football-savvy enough to challenge John Madden on the NFL's rulebook, or you think a Hail Mary is a religious term, chances are you'll be at a Super Bowl party this Sunday chowing down some seriously good football grub. So check back all week for more easy and delicious Super Bowl recipes that are sure to score big.

spicy black bean dip and chips DSC_0003

Spicy Black Bean Dip 
Makes 6-8 servings
Print recipe only here.

This spicy black bean dip couldn't be easier to make. With red onions, garlic, jalapeno, and lime, it's got both heat and tang. The sour cream adds just a touch of silkiness to an otherwise satisfying chunky dip. This vegetarian dip can be made vegan by using vegan sour cream or mayo.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1 small garlic clove, sliced
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained
1 small jalapeno chili
The juice of 1 small lime
1 cup salsa of your choice
2 tablespoons sour cream or mayo
1/3 chopped fresh cilantro leaves
salt, to taste

1. In a small pan over medium heat, warm olive oil. Saute red onion and garlic until lightly browned. Transfer to a blender or food processor and add remaining ingredients. Pulse until chunky. Transfer to a bowl. Serve with tortilla chips.

Here are more football-friendly dips and salsas you might enjoy from Food Blogga:
Chipotle Barbecue Bean and Corn Salad (great with chips)
Citrus-Avocado Salsa (pair with chips or serve on fish tacos)
Pineapple-Mango-Habanero Salsa (pair with chips or serve on tacos or quesadillas)

Here are more delicious football-friendly dips you might enjoy:
7-Layer Bean Dip recipe at Simply Recipes
Chile con Queso recipe at Homesick Texan
Baba Ghanoush recipe at Apple Pies, Patis, and Pate
Super Bowl Onion Dip recipe at Cooking with Amy
Creamy Hot Stove Top Crab Dip recipe at White on Rice Couple