Monday, March 28, 2011

Salmon Cakes + Roasted Cauliflower

I want to be a lawyer. I think. I am adding it to my long list of things I would love to study, but I think this one might actually come true. I am really enjoying my Media Law and Ethics class at BU, and its the same feeling I had when I took law in senior year of highschool. So maybe the universe is trying incessantly to tell me something and I'm completely ignoring it. Oh well, we'll see what happens after my journalism major is complete!

Anyways, tonight was that kind of night when I craved salmon. Who would've thought I would ever say that. Me, the former seafood-hater who got grossed out even by the sight of uncooked fish, craving salmon? Well apparently so.

Anyways, I was debating whether to do the salmon cakes I did some time ago or grilled salmon instead. My roomie mentioned she would eat the cakes rather than the grilled fish, so my decision was made. But then I realized I had no zucchini for the Gourmet salmon cakes recipe; no problem though, Epicurious saved my butt.

I found a recipe from SELF magazine (this month's actually) and I decided to try it out. The recipes was Salmon Cakes and Greens, but I had written roasted cauliflower in my weekly menu and decided to stick with it. Oh and I also popped in a baguette in the oven for freshly baked bread to go with my dinner!

Ok first of all, let me state that I SKINNED A SALMON FILLET! I am so proud of myself for doing so. Its one of the challenges that is on my list (which will be posted very soon since I am still making final changes to it). Anyways, here are the recipes!

Salmon Cakes (adapted from SELF)

  • 1 lb. salmon filet, skin removed, finely chopped
  • 2 egg whites (1/3 cup if using bought egg whites)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 5 tablespoons drained capers
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • S & P
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. In a large bowl combine the first 5 ingredients. Mix well and season with S & P. Form 6-8 patties.
  2. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Cook patties until the bottom is golden, about 5 minutes and flip. Cook for 5 more minutes, or until patties are completely cooked. 

Roasted Cauliflower with Olive Dressing
  • 1 cauliflower, leaves removed, cut lengthwise
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • S & P
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives (works with black olives too)
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 480 F. Arrange cauliflower in rimmed baking sheet making sure its on one layer. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with S & P. 
  2. Roast in oven for about 25 or until lightly browned, flipping once halfway.
  3. Meanwhile combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, shallot, and olives in a small bowl. Season with S & P. When cauliflower is done, transfer to plate and serve with dressing on top.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Frittata and Kale Salad

I can't really say breakfast is my favorite meal, because ALL meals are my favorite, but I definitely love breakfast. What better than to have breakfast for dinner?

First of all let me state that I am not a pancake fan, so when I say breakfast for dinner I don't mean pancakes and waffles, I mean eggs. Frittata to be exact. Last weekend I stumbled upon an easy frittata recipe (almost all frittatas are very simple to make) and several variations in FOOD by Martha Stewart, and yesterday I finally made it.

Originally, the frittata was going to be a turkey zucchini with gruyere cheese frittata, but for some reason I completely forgot to buy zucchini.  So I looked around in my veggies drawer and found some asparagus spears, the perfect substitution.

As a side, I made one of my favorite salads. Because breakfast is good for dinner, but I need to have some kind of green in my dinner or I won't be satisfied. Anyways, the Kale and Pine Nut salad from Bon Appetit is one of the salads that I could eat over and over again. And yes, contrary to popular belief, there are some salads that I don't like.

Turkey, Asparagus, Gruyere Frittata (adapted from FOOD by Martha Stewart)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup cubed turkey (about 1/2 inch thick)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped asparagus
  • 3/4 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • S & P
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Heat olive oil on a 10-inch oven proof skillet over medium high heat. Add turkey and asparagus and season with S & P. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, until asparagus are slightly tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile slightly beat eggs and egg-whites together. Add egg mixture to the skillet and sprinkle with the gruyere cheese. Cook until edges are set, about 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer skillet to oven and cook for 10-13 minutes or until frittata is set. Place plate over skillet and invert frittata. Serve immediately

Kale and Pine-nut Salad (adapted from Bon Appetit)

  • 2 tablespoons dried currants
  • 2 tablespoons pine-nuts
  • 2-3 bunches kale (depending on size), stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
  • 7 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Shave parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Place currants in bowl with 5 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar and let marinate for 2-24 hours (the more they soak, the better they will taste in the salad). Lightly toast pine-nuts on a baking sheet.
  2. In a small bowl whisk 2 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, olive oil, and honey until honey dissolves. In a large bowl place kale, drained currants, and pine-nuts and toss with dressing to coat. Let salad marinate for 20 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  3. Add parmesan cheese and serve. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Bars

As I've stressed many times, baking relaxes me. After a long day of homework, classes (I had none today though) or just an exhausting day, I've found that my comfort zone is in the kitchen. Whenever I am in my tiny appliance-clad kitchen I forget about anything that is bothering me and I just cook.

Anyways, today I had a stressful day. Even though I didn't have any class, I have a lot or work this week, and its definitely taking a toll on me. But I wanted to cook a snack for my fellow SMG team members. My roommate requested Oatmeal Chocolate Bars, and I decided they were the perfect option.

Normally, the recipe would follow, but these cookie bars are a family secret. We are trying to keep them a mystery (although if you know what books to look in you would find them easily). So here are the pictures for you to enjoy!!

P.S. I didn't realize how hard it was going to be to make these and have to abstain from chocolate since I gave it up for lent. Very challenging to stand over a pot of melting chocolate or stopping myself from licking my fingers after assembling the bars.

Snicker Doodle Butter Cookies

One of my mom's favorite cookies is the snicker doodle. Every time we go to Aspen, she'll go straight to Paradise Bakery and buy herself a freshly baked chewy snicker doodle.

We have tried time and time again to find a recipe for anything resembling those cookies. We have failed time and time again. But right before srping, I found a recipe in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything for Butter Cookies.

The recipe seemed easy and quick (something necessary when I decide to bake between classes) and it  boasted an array of add-in possibilities that appealed to me immediately. I could basically add anything I wanted and create any kind of butter-based cookie I wanted.
I took the easy way out, just adding cinnamon and sugar to the cookies before baking, but I am proud to say that I have found a way to recreate the delicious snicker doodles!

The cookies look a bit unappealing, but wait until you get a bite of one of them and prepare to become addicted (seriously, I ate like 5 in one sitting). I will be trying to perfect these when I come back from Spring Break so that I can surprise my mom with a delicious Paradise-like batch.

ANd in the hopes of making it into Technorati ... 2NCPBEJXEUDC


Snicker Doodle Butter Cookies (adapted from Mark Bittman's Butter Cookies)
  • 1 stick unsalted softened butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup milk (more if needed)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar (use an electric mixer if you have one). Add the vanilla and egg, and beat until well blended.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add half the dry ingredients to the butter mix and beat for a moment. Add the milk and beat for about 10 seconds. Add remaining dry ingredients, and more milk if necessary, in order to make a dough that is soft enough to be dropped from a spoon.
  3. Combine cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Drop tablespoons of dough about 3 inches apart on a ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with the cinnamon mixture. Bake cookies until edges are browned, about 10 minutes. Cool cookies and then transfer to rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in air tight container for about a week.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    Greek Salad with Chicken Breasts

    Long day today. I feel like I have been saying this for several days now, but it's true. Come night time I feel like I've been awake for more than 12 hours (which is true on some days).

    So I was very excited today because I got stopped on the street by a fashion intern who wanted to take a picture of my outfit. She made my day. Granted I was wearing my very very tall heels from Forever 21 (and I may have been strutting it, jk), which may have made me look more stylish, but still, it made my day.

    Greek Salad (adapted from Everyday FOOD by Martha Stewart)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons lime juice
    • 1 can chickpeas drained
    • 1 medium cucumber cut into 1/2 inch cubes
    • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes halfed
    • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives coarsely chopped
    • 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled
    • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh parsley leaves
    1. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients except the feta cheese and toss to mix. Season with S & P. 
    2. Add feta and mix until just combined. Serve.

    For the chicken, simply put 2 large chicken breasts ( I used Trader Joe's frozen breast meat) in a Ziploc bag with 2 tablespoons oregano and 1 shallot finely chopped. Let marinate in the fridge for 10 minutes. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet and cook chicken until fully cooked.

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Spiced Meatballs and Roasted Carrots

    I'm back!!

    A week after a very relaxing Spring Break in North Carolina, I am ready to start the week with delicious dinners. I have a menu set up for the next few days and I really hope I can stick to it, but either way, I will be making yummy and new recipes!

    Today I had a big midterm, and all I wanted to do was come home and relax. I couldn't though, since I have lots of other homework that is quickly catching up on me. But time for cooking is always available, and tonight's dinner was worth it!

    I have to warn you, if you don't like spicy food, add less cumin/coriander, because it is definitely a big part of these meatballs. Otherwise eat up!

    Spiced Meatballs (adapted from Everyday FOOD by Martha Stewart)
    • 1.2 lbs. ground beef
    • 3/4 teaspoon coriander
    • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
    • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
    • 1 large egg + 2 tablespoons egg-whites lightly beaten
    1. In a medium bowl combine beef, spices, cilantro, and egg mix. Season with salt (I forgot this step and it definitely makes a difference). With your hands, gently combine all the ingredients well and form meatballs (I made 6 big ones following my roomie's request).
    2. In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook meatballs until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water to skillet, cover, reduce heat to low. Cook untill meatballs are just cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    Pan-Fried Tilapia and Celery/Carrot Side

    Apparently its Starbucks' bday today! I just thought I would drop that random fact in.
    Anyways, having defrosted some tilapia filets in the fridge I decided to have it pan-fried for dinner. Its a very simple and delicious way to prepare fish. Literally takes less than 10 minutes and it involves all of pouring oil into a saucepan, heating it, placing the fish filet on the saucepan and seasoning with S & P; then waiting for the fish to get nice and golden on each side.

    Then I realized I had almost-gone-bad celery just sitting in my veggie fridge drawer and I looked for some recipe online. Found an easy way to cook Sweet and Sour celery on Epicurious and adapted it to include carrots.

    Sweet & Sour Celery and Carrots (adapted from Epicurious)
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • Juice of 1 large lime
    • S & P
    • 1 bunch celery, cut into 1-inch thick pieces. Reserve and chop leaves for serving
    • 5 carrots cut into 1-inch rounds
    1. Simmer water, olive oil, honey, lime and S & P in a medium pot. Stir until honey is diluted.
    2. Add celery and carrots and simmer covered until liquid is reduced (almost inexistent). Recipe called for 30-40 minutes, but I found that after 20-25 minutes the veggies are nice and tender.
    3. Serve with celery leaves on top.

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Marinated Shrimp & Veggies

    I am having an existential crisis. Probably not in the real sense of the word, but it feels like one to me.
    And I've found that one of the only things that keeps me relaxed for some portion of the day/night is cooking or baking. Other than that, exercise seems to be on my side nowadays, but cooking is like the perfect pill.
    Tonight, however, I didn't have much time to make something very elaborate since I had a lot of things on my hands. I decided to whip up an adapted version of a How Sweet It Is shrimp recipes (which you will also find in one of my earlier posts. Last time I stuck to the recipe more closely (actually adding noodles and all), but tonight I was feeling for more veggies and leftover baguette.
    The marinade for the shrimp is amazingly easy and delicious, so if you ever want a quick yummy dinner, you know what to do.

    Shrimp Marinade (adapted from How Sweet It Is)

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
    • 1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest
    • 1/2 teaspoon ginger paste
    • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
    • S & P
    1. Mix all ingredients in a Ziploc bag and add shrimp. Let marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 30 mins. (the longer you leave it, the better it will taste, but either way the marinate all ends up in the pan).

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    Tofu, Broccoli & Cauliflower

    Today was a long day. After coming back home with arms shaking and legs trembling (after an hour of boot camp class), I dragged myself into the shower and relaxed for all of five minutes.
    I then proceeded to quickly get dressed and have a quick lunch followed by homework and class. Then more class and a meeting. 

    I finally got home a little bit before 7 p.m. with a rumbling belly and a not-so-huge motivation to cook. Still, the moment I saw my book lying on the coffee table, I was inspired.
    My roomie was out for dinner tonight so I decided to make tofu (since she doesn't like it).

    Here is the recipe for my dinner. I took most from Mark Bittman, but made a few changes.

    Pan Fried Tofu with Broccoli & Cauliflower (adapted from How to Cook Everything)
    • 3 tablespoons oil (I used olive oil) 
    • 1 tablespoon (roughly measured) chopped red onion
    • 1 cup broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
    • 1 cup cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
    • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
    • 1 block of extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2-1 inch pieces
    • 1/3 cup chicken broth
    • 1/4 cup white wine or rice vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan on high heat. When hot, add onion and cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Add broccoli and cauliflower and cook stirring until tender but not soft. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and reserve for later.
    2. Add remaining tablespoon of oil to saucepan. Add ginger paste and cook stirring for 30 seconds. Add tofu and cook until it begins to brown, about 5-7 minutes. 
    3. Pour chicken stock and wine into saucepan and cook stirring until half the mixture has evaporated. Add vegetables and cook until just reheated. Add soy sauce and stir to mix. Remove from heat and serve.

    Also, I didn't know this before, but in order for tofu to absorb flavors better you should either freeze or squeeze it before cooking. To squeeze (which is what I did), slice tofu horizontally and place between two sets of four paper towels. Put a book or similar object on top and leave to squeeze for about 20 minutes (or longer if you have time).

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    Fresh Baguette & Turkey

    On Monday morning, I stopped at Barnes & Nobles (pretending I wasn't going to buy anything) and came out with the coolest cookbook ever. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.
    When I got home and started reading the book (I actually read the whole intro and everything) I started to get more and more excited. Today, I went to Borders and bought two more books. Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh, and a cookie book that I will introduce later. 
    Anyways, tonight I made turkey and bread. There's nothing as rewarding as warm freshly baked bread waiting to be dipped into olive oil and eaten. Yum.
    The turkey was good too... (I'm kidding, it was great!)

    French Baguette (from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)
    • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
    *The recipe asks for a food processor, but since I don't have one, I just used my hands.
    1. Put the flour, salt, and yeast in a big bowl. Add 1 cup of water and knead until dough is formed. If needed, keep adding water by the tablespoon. You want the dough to be moist but not too wet. If you add too much water, add more flour to balance.
    2. Leave dough in bowl to rise, covered with plastic, at least an hour (up to three hours at room temperature).
    3. Once dough has risen, transfer to a lightly floured surface and form bread. (I made three baguettes so that I could freeze two and eat one tonight). Let dough rise covered with a towel for another hour or two.
    4. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Slash the bread with a sharp knife to make diagonal cuts. Transfer baguette to a lightly oiled baking sheet (or pizza stone if you have one). Lower heat to 375 F and bake bread until golden brown.

    Roast Boneless Turkey Breast with Fennel (adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)

    • 2 fennel bulbs, both trimmed, one sliced and the other finely chopped.
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil + 1 to grease pan
    • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
    • S & P
    • 1 turkey breast*
    • 1 cup orange juice
    *(I really don't know how much the one that I used weighed since it had been in my freezer since Thanksgiving. Oops!)
    1. Heat the oven to 450F. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the sliced fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Add ginger paste and S & P and cook until fennel is slightly browned. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
    2. While fennel is cooking, grease a baking dish with remaining olive oil. Add chopped fennel and sprinkle some salt. Place turkey on baking dish and sprinkle some more salt. Add orange juice. 
    3. Cook turkey in the oven for about 30-35 minutes or until its almost done (155-165F if you have a thermometer). Add sliced fennel and return dish to the oven for 5 more minutes, or until turkey is done.