30 March, 2012

Zucchini Muffins with Apricot Cream Cheese

Zucchini Bread
My overabundance of zucchini led me to another zucchini recipe:

Zucchini Muffins with Apricot Cream Cheese

2 zucchinis, grated
2 cups flour
1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg
6 tbsp butter, melted
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped

Preheat oven to 375.

Grease muffin pans.  (I made 6 regular sized muffins and 24 mini muffins)

Squeeze out all water from zucchini.  I used paper towels, squeezing excess water from handfuls of zucchini.  Lightly salt, and set in colander to drain further.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking power, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, yogurt, butter, lemon juice, and sugar until incorporated.

Fold the wet yogurt mixture into the flour mixture until just barely combined.  Add the zucchini, apricots and raisins.  Fold gently until ingredients are incorporated, but do not overmix.

Pour batter into prepared pans until 3/4 full.

Bake 8 minutes, checking on mini muffins. Bake until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.
Zucchini Bread, Apricot

        Apricot Cream Cheese
Zucchini Bread, Apricot Flowers

8 oz cream cheese, room temp
1/3 cup apricot jam
1tsp Cointreau liquor (or any orange liquor)
2 tbsp confectioners sugar

Mix all ingredients.  Set aside to let flavors mingle.  After zucchini muffins are cooled completely, spread cream cheese on top, and decorate if desired.

A few other fave summertime recipes:

28 March, 2012

Zucchini Spaghetti with Spring Vegetables

Gluten Free
    This dish... is awesome.  So fresh, so simple, so healthy.  You will need to buy a julienne peeler if you don't already have one (under $10, can find at Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc with vegetable peelers). 

    I used fresh produce I had lying around in the fridge.  You can easily add or substitute whatever you may have lying around.  My vegetable measurements here are approximate- add as little or as much as you prefer!  I served this with grilled chicken and leftover slider buns that I made into mini garlic breads (obviously if you are gluten free you will skip that part)!

Zucchini Spaghetti with Spring Vegetables
Serves 3-4

 You will need:

2 zucchini
10 mini sweet peppers, seeds removed and cut in fours
1/2 red pepper, cut into large dice
2 roma tomatoes, diced
About 12 grape tomatos, cut in half
2 large handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
4 anchovy fillets (used as a seasoning, you won't even know it's in there!)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
7 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper

Use the julienne peeler to make the spaghetti.

Place the zucchini spaghetti in a colander.  When you are finished making the spaghetti, put the colander in the sink and toss a couple pinches of salt on the zucchini.  Leave it sit while you prepare the rest of the meal.  (This step draws out some of the liquid so you don't have mushy spaghetti).  

Next heat water to steam the sweet and red peppers until still a bit crisp.  If you don't have a steamer, you can simply boil them for about 5 minutes.  The key here is to soften them a little bit, but to leave them with a little snap.

While the peppers are steaming/boiling, heat about 4 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over med-med high heat (heads up-this needs to be large, the zucchini and ALL veggies will wind up in here). Add the garlic, onion, and anchovies to the pan and saute, breaking up the anchovies until they melt away with your spoon (this should only take about 2 minutes... watch the heat of the stove- you don't want to burn the garlic!)

Once the anchovies have been incorporated with the garlic and oil, add the zucchini, gently tossing to combine.  Season with a little salt and pepper. Add the peppers and roma tomatoes, stir to incorporate.  Cook the zucchini  spaghetti about 3 more minutes.  Finally add the spinach and grape tomatoes.  Stir to combine well, and serve!

Slider Bun Garlic Bread

To make garlic bread out of slider buns, I simply minced a clove garlic and rubbed 1/2  on both sides of 2 slider buns ( a total of 4 pieces).  Then I melted 2 tbsp of butter in microwave until soft but NOT RUNNY.  I added the other 1/2 of the garlic clove, a pinch of salt, stirred until it was a thick buttery garlic paste, and buttered the buns.  Put into toaster oven until slightly golden, and voila!

Gluten Free

27 March, 2012

Zucchini Plans...

Tonight's Agenda:

I'll be playing with zucchini recipes, as I've somehow acquired a drawer fun of zucchini.

 Gluten Free Pasta- with zucchini spaghetti.

Some sort of zucchini bread creation will also go down tonight.  I'm thinking an apricot twist... we'll see.

Stay tuned for the recipes!

Rose's Crusted Molasses Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Pineapple-Papaya Salsa

   This dish is a three- day process, so be prepared.  It has a nice crusted slightly sweet, slightly spicy exterior, and a moist interior due to a pineapple based marinade.  One tenderloin will make enough for about 3, or 4 smaller servings.  

You will need:

For the pork:
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 fresh pineapple (will also be used in salsa)
1/8 cup plus 2 tbsp molasses 
1/4 cup sea salt
1 tbsp Worcestershire
3 tbsp dry mustard
2/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne (or more for more heat)
1/4 tsp cumin
cajun seasoning

For the Salsa:
1 cup fresh Papaya (about 1/2), peeled, seeds removed, diced
10 Guaybos*, (outer skin peeled, seeds removed), diced
1/4 red onion, diced very small
1/2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp fresh chopped mint
2 tbsp fresh lime juice                            
1/4 cup honey

 *Guayabos are a Spanish version of a guava, small and round and yellow-light orange in color.  The rind is slightly bitter, and the flesh sweet. They can be found at some farmer's markets. Carefully scoop out seeds, as thy are hard to separate  from the flesh.  Substitute Mangos if you cannot find.

Day 1 

1 quart water
1/4 cup salt
1/8 cup molasses

In the evening, mix the 3 mix ingredients together in a tupperware that will fit the tenderloin snugly.  If you use a tupperware that is too large, the brine will not cover the pork.  Add the pork, turn to coat, and refrigerate overnight, for 10- 12 hours MAXIMUM. No longer.

Day 2

Preheat grill to med.

Cut off the pineapple's top and bottom inch.  Use a sharp knife to remove the skin.  Lying the pineapple horizontally, cut in 4 even pieces, reserving all pineapple juice as you go.  Core the pineapple using a sharp knife to remove the hard, cylindrical center.  Reserve all juices as cutting.  Slice the pineapple into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Refrigerate 1/4 of the slices.   (The pineapple can be cut in advance!)

Grease grill grates with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil. Place 1/2 of the pineapple slices on the grill. Flip after about 5 minutes (when you see dark grill marks).  Continue grilling another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.  Refrigerate in separate container for tomorrow.

With remaining 1/4 of pineapple, dice into very small tidbits. In a bowl, add the tidbits of pineapple and all accumulated juices, the three marinade ingredients, and remaining  2 tbsp of molasses. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved and ingredients are incorporated.

Remove pork from fridge, discarding brine and rinsing pork thoroughly.  Return pork to the same container, pour over marinade, and let marinate one day.

Day 3

Begin 1 1/2  hours before you are ready to eat. 

Remove pork from fridge, discard marinade.  Season the pork with the garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and cumin.  Coat both sides of the pork with cajun seasoning (I did a little more then a tbsp and a half, coating both sides of the pork.  Rub in the seasoning.  Let meat rest while you make the salsa.

Grease grill grates with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil.  Preheat grill to med heat, leaving one burner OFF.  

Make fruit salsa.  Remove grilled pineapple from fridge and chop into chunks.  In a large bowl, combine grilled pineapple with chopped papaya, guayabos (or mangos), and red onion. In a separate small bowl, combine the honey, lime juice, cilantro and mint.  Mix and pour over the fruit, mixing gently.  Refrigerate.

The pork tenderloin will grill for about an hour.  Add pork tenderloin over the burner that is OFF.  My grill was at about 300 degrees.  Flip pork after about a half hour.  After another 20 minutes, remove the remaining pineapple slices from fridge and add to grill, flipping after 5 minutes.  Use a meat thermometer to check the pork's temperature (pork needs to be a MINIMUM of 145 degrees).  I cooked mine to 155 degrees.  When pork is done, place a couple pineapple slices on top of the pork and let cool a little. Serve with fruit salsa and a fresh green salad.

22 March, 2012

BBQ Side dish- a few faves.

For you Amanda :)  

A couple fave simple sides-  

Orange Fennel Salad
-Double recipe for BBQ

3 Oranges (preferably blood oranges)
1 Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 Fennel Bulb, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
About 1-2 tbls fresh mint
salt + pepper
(Add pitted black olives if you like!)

Remove membranes from oranges:  Peel and pull apart orange sections.  Remove outer skin of each section to expose the flesh of the orange.  Do this over a bowl, reserving the orange juices.  

Toss the orange with the fennel, red onion, lemon and orange juices, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Add the mint and toss gently.  Season with salt and pepper, serve cold.

You can alter this dish by removing the red onion and mint and adding grilled shrimp, 1 tsp chopped chives, and a pinch of cayenne if you like.  

Citrus Chicken Pasta Salad- 
-This is enough for a BBQ!

2 boxes seashell pasta
10 chicken breasts- boneless, skinless, cooked (preferable baked/ roasted, not grilled), and shredded                           
About 1 cup fresh pineapple, slices cut into very thin little tidbits, juice reserved
8 clementines, outer skin removed to expose flesh of the orange
8 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, core removed, and finely diced
2 cups mayo
1 tsp almond extract

Cook seashells according to package instruction, until al dente.  Run under cold water, drizzle with a little olive oil, and reserve.

In a large bowl, mash the clementines with a potato masher until most sections are soft and mushy.  Drain about half of the orange juice, and pour the remaining juice into a small bowl. Add to the small bowl the mayo, reserved pineapple juice, and almond flavoring. Stir to combine. 

In the large bowl, add to the mashed clementines the seashells, shredded chicken, pineapple, apples, and oranges.  Pour dressing over and stir gently.  

Other options:
Caprese Salad Skewers always go over well, although not really a recipe of my own....  Just skewer a piece of fresh basil, a grape tomato, fresh mozzarella, and caper.  They get eaten quick. 

Fruit skewers are fun and cute.  Buy a bunch of fruit- melons, pineapple and cut into fun shapes.  Toss them with a little lemon juice and a bunch of fresh mint, and skewer them onto long wooden skewers.  Place in a sallow vase for a fruit bouquet. 

Sorry no potato salad recipes- I'll post one soon!

Burger with Carmelized Onions and Gouda with Sweet Potato Wedges

Since taking the job at Restaurant Alba and not going into work until 4pm, I have started preparing my boyfriends lunches... and dinners.  Yesterday I made some simple burgers which were consumed before I could take photos.  This recipe takes about an hour to make.

Man Burger with Carmelized Onions and Gouda
with Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges

1 lb ground beef (I used 90/10)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 tbls Worcestershire
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
a few drops liquid smoke
1 sweet onion, thickly sliced
1/4 cup Brown sugar
2 Sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
2 tbsl butter, 
1 tbsp olive oil
ground pepper
sea salt
Gouda cheese

Vienna Rolls, purchased

Preheat grill, med heat.  Leave one burner off.

Mix beef, yellow onion, worcestershire, onion and garlic powder, and liquid smoke together and form into large patties.  Apply a liberal coating of freshly ground black pepper to both sides of each patty (don't be shy with the pepper!) 

In a bowl, toss the sweet potato wedges with olive oil and a generous amount of seasalt (about 1 tbsp).
Add sweet potato wedges to grill over med heat.  They will need about 45 minutes, depending on how thick the wedges are.  Flip them over after 20 minutes.

When flipping the sweet potato, it's time to add the sweet onions to the grill.  You will need a pan safe for the grill (I had a circular heat safe pan) Add the butter and onions to pan, and plan on grill over the burner that is turned off.  Wait a few minutes for the butter to melt, and stir in the brown sugar.  Let the onions caramelize, stirring fairly often.  Keep an eye on them, you don't want the butter and onion to burn.

When the potatoes are getting soft and the onions a deep tan color, add the burgers to the grill, and flip only one time.  Do NOT press down on the burger with a spatula to speed cooking, this releases the juices and makes for a drier burger.  Top with gouda cheese to melt.  

Toast the vienna rolls if you like, and when finished, top the burgers with the caramelized onion and serve with sweet potato wedges.  Enjoy!

I will be posting the recipe for 
Crusted Pork Tenderloin 
with Pineapple-Papaya Guayabo Salsa tomorrow!

20 March, 2012

Beef Jerky Wine

I have been banned from purchasing wine.  I don't know anything about wine, so I purchase by whatever 'looks good' in the liquor store.  Not the best practice.....  Several months back, I was making jambalaya and wanted to impress my boyfriend with my wine pairing with the meal.  I purchased this wine:
Sounds cool right?  Trendy label.....   Well it's not cool!  It smelled- and I kid you not- like beef jerky.  And it tasted......... like beef jerky!  So much for impressing the man.  

Now that I have a job as a server at a restaurant with the best wine list outside of Philadelphia, I guess it's time to educate myself a little.  I picked up this book at the library:
This is a great book, and easy reading.  Turns out when the restaurant got their liquor license a few months back, this is the book the chef/owner selected for all the servers to read.  It goes through the regions of Italy, what the climate and culture is like, and how it affects the wines.  

So if you are interested in Italian wine, I highly recommend this book.  

19 March, 2012

Produce Heaven!

I can't wait for spring produce!  There's nothing better then grilling fresh veggies and fruits.  I went to produce junction yesterday and this is a sampling of what I found:
That's right, even guayabos are in this picture!  I think I'm going to simmer them down tomorrow and make some kind of guayabo pork tenderloin.  I bought plaintains too so I'll cook those up and me and the boyfriend will have a tropical meal.  I'll post pics and the recipe tomorrow.

Of course I had to put my newly acquired produce to good use right away, so I made grilled veggie pizza.  Here's some ingredients ready to go: 
And here they are grilling up good:

I made a naan-like flatbread and grilled it over the fire for a couple minutes, brushed it with sun-dried tomato tapenade, added spinach, and then threw on the grilled sweet peppers, green peppers, zucchini, tomato, onions, grilled smashed garlic.

I'm not ecstatic about the flatbread recipe I used, so I will modify it and post a recipe worth making later!

16 March, 2012

Day 1

Here I am.  Career ended.  Minimum wage Prep Cook position acquired.  Broke from overdue library culinary book fees.  My journey has officially begun! 

It seems like everybody these days wants to be a chef, and I hear so many positives, and of course so many negatives about this field.  It seems the only way it is worth it is if you truly love to cook, and want to devote your life to it.  The way I see it, I'm already devoted!  Anyone who knows me knows about my Christmas basket fiasco's (when I don't sleep during the month of December because I'm too busy cooking and baking at 3 am in a drunk/ zombie-like state).  Who needs sleep when there's cooking to be done!  Cooking is not a chore to me- it is an expression, a release of my creativity.  I guess I never considered it a career, always more of a hobby.  I'm now in my late 20's, evaluating what I am doing with my life and how I got here, and decided it's time.  My dream job is not going to just happen to me.  I've got to go get it.  

Stay tuned for my first day as a prep cook, photos and recipes as I experiment, and the roller-coaster ride that just became my life.