December 15, 2009

Caesar Salad fit for a... Duchess

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Caesar Salad. Throw some chicken or shrimp over it and you’ve got meal. My husband gets very territorial about his Caesar… he scowls when someone dares take a plateful for themselves. A favorite meal is a good bowl of soup and a heaping plate of C.S.

Personally, I hate those little anchovy bones; they make me gag. And, unless I see the chicken the egg came from, I don’t eat them raw. So I fiddled with a few recipes until I came up with this: no anchovy filets, and no raw eggs. Also, unlike a lot of other recipes, the croutons are baked not deep or pan fried. So, enjoy and be sure to make enough!

This serves 4-5. If you’re making it as a meal with some kind of protein, then 2-3 people.

If you’re my husband, it’s enough for 1.

1 Loaf of good bread, 10 or so ounces (can be almost anything you like, personally I go for a rustic Italian). Crusts removed, and cut into 1” cubes
1 tbs olive oil
2 ½ tbs unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 ½ tsp salt

3 Romaine hearts (it usually comes in packages of 3)
4 2 ½” - 3” stripes of anchovy paste (the length of an actual anchovy filet)
2 large cloves of garlic (3 small), cut in quarters
1 tbs mayonnaise
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 heaping tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh cracked pepper
½ cup of olive oil (could be more depending on personal tastes)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

-Preheat oven to 400
-In a bowl, combine melted butter, 1 tbs of olive oil, ½ tsp cayenne, and 1 ½ tsp salt with cubed bread. Place on baking sheet and put in hot oven for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown
-While croutons are cooking, place garlic, 1 tsp of salt, and 4 stripes of anchovy paste in a wooden salad bowl. Using two forks, mash the garlic, anchovy paste, and salt together until the garlic is in small pieces
-Add mayo, Dijon, lemon juice, Worcestershire, and pepper to bowl, mix well with fork
-Slowly whisk in the ½ cup of olive oil until dressing is well combined and creamy. Taste the dressing. Sometimes I find it needs a little more lemon juice at this point. If you’d like a more mellow flavor, add more olive oil 1 tbs at a time until you are satisfied (keep in mind, you have not yet added the parmesan cheese)
-Remove any tough or bruised leaves from the hearts, cut off the bottoms, then chop the hearts. Add to salad bowl
-Add the 1 cup of parmesan and mix the entire salad very well… you don’t want any dressing left at the bottom of the bowl
-By now the croutons should be done. Remove from the oven and add to the salad, serve

December 9, 2009

Cous Cous Fritters

So you've made your "cous cous on a cold night," and now you have those wonderful leftovers. What to do? Fritters. Super easy, and so tasty especially with the dipping sauce.

1 cup cous cous mixture (without the meat or other protein you have used)
1 beaten egg
1 heaping tablespoon of flour or corn meal
5 tablespoons oil, for frying

Dipping Sauce:
1 cup sour cream or thick plain yogurt
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

-Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 200-250 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment or foil, and place in oven
-Combine all ingredients for dipping sauce, cover, and put in fridge until ready to use
-Heat oil
-Mix cous cous with egg and flour/corn meal very well
-Using a large spoon, take about a golf ball size amount of cous cous and place in hot oil, flattening slightly with back of spoon
-Fry until crispy and brown, about 4 minutes per side depending on thickness of fritter
-Place cooked fritters on baking sheet in oven
-Serve immediately with dipping sauce

*Each cup of cous cous yields about 5 fritters

December 8, 2009

Cous Cous on a Cold Night

It was cold and windy, and we wanted something warm and filling. This is an easy recipe that you can adapt to any kind of protein you want. Plus, you probably have most of the ingredients at home already. I used some thin sandwich steaks that were in the freezer and I had defrosted earlier in the day, but it would be excellent with any kind of seafood or meat... even tofu. It serves between 3-4, or 2 with plenty of yummy leftovers.

1 lb steak, cut into 1/2" strips (again, could be any protein you want)
2 cups broth (I used beef, but could be vegetable or chicken)
1 1/2 cups cous cous (depending on the brand, this might be 2 cups, equal to the broth, check the directions on the package, you are making enough for 4)
2 tsp garlic paste (you can use fresh garlic too)
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 tsp salt (depending broth's sodium level, you might have to adjust this)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 large onion chopped
2 tbs butter (you can use olive oil too, or a "fake butter" like Earth Balance)
1 tsp olive oil
1 can chick peas, drained
1 10 oz package of frozen peas
1/4 cup of fresh chopped mint

-In a bowl, combine broth, tomato paste, cinnamon, salt, and pepper, whisk. Taste and adjust seasoning, some broths are saltier than others, and some tomato paste's are saltier than others too. Add the steak (or other protein), and let marinate, covered, in fridge for 1-2 hours.
-Sauté onions in butter until soft, translucent, and cooked through - about 7 minutes, in a medium size pot that has a tight fitting lid.
-Pour the broth and tomato paste marinade into the pot, add frozen peas, and bring to boil.
-When peas are cooked through and water is boiling, add the cous cous. Stir everything together once, turn off heat, and let sit for 5-8 minutes covered with lid.
-While cous cous is steaming, cook the steak in the 1 tsp of olive oil.
-Pour cous cous into large bowl, and fluff with fork, and add the drained chick peas, mix.
-Place steak on top, and sprinkle with the chopped mint.

December 1, 2009

Ginger Chocolate Tart

Thanksgiving was wonderful, and this last minute tart that I whipped up was a real success at the meal. Finding out that there were only fruit pies for dessert, I thought some chocolate was needed. Because really, when isn’t chocolate needed? This tart filling is a basic standby for me, but I thought the ginger crust would make it special, and it did! All in all this takes a total of about 45 minutes start to finish. It tastes like hours in the kitchen, but is so easy to make! By the way, the filling is wonderful with any kind of crust you might want to use, or even on its own, baked in ramekins as a kind of flourless chocolate soufflĂ©.

Ginger Tart Shell
1 ½ cups, Ginger Snap or other ginger cookie crumbs
5 tbs melted unsalted butter
1 tsp powdered ginger

-Preheat oven to 350
-Pulse the cookies in a food processor or blender until crumbs
-Add ginger to the crumbs
-Add melted butter and mix with a fork or spoon until all crumbs are well coated
-Place a 9” round fluted removable bottom tart tin on a cookie sheet (remember the tart tin has removable bottom, you want to keep the tart as flat as possible) and press crumbs into tin.
-Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges have changed color
-Place tart, still on the sheet pan, on a cooling rack

*The best trick for getting the crumbs into the pan besides fingers, is to cover the bottom of a glass or cup measure with plastic wrap and gently press the crumbs in the sides, making sure the bottom is as even as you can make it. This gives the sides a nice edge, and keeps the bottom fairly smooth and flat.

Rich Chocolate Tart
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate finely chopped or in chips (if you can find the mini semi-sweet chips, even better)
1 cup plus 2 tbs of heavy cream
1 tsp of vanilla

-Preheat oven to 300
-Lightly whisk the eggs, set aside
-Boil the cream, turn off the heat, and add the chocolate directly into the pot. Stir with a rubber, heat proof spatula until all combined (if there are still a few lumps of chocolate, don’t sweat it, but try to get it as smooth as possible)
-Pour 1/3 of the chocolate into the eggs and mix quickly with the spatula. Once combined, add the rest of the chocolate and mix until combined.
-Add the vanilla
-Pour mixture into the tart shell, leaving a rim of crumbs. You might have some extra chocolate left over; you can pour this into ramekins or mini tart tins and bake them too.
-Bake for 25-30 minutes until the tart is glossy, the edges have puffed slightly, and the chocolate no longer jiggles. If unsure, use a wooden skewer and test the center. Don’t worry about any air bubbles; they’ll be covered up anyway.
-Let cool completely before putting it in the fridge. It can be left uncovered, but if you want to use foil, be sure to tent it so it doesn’t stick to the chocolate.
-Before serving, dust with unsweetened cocoa powder (use a sifter or fine gauged, hand-held strainer). You can also decorate the tart with whole or chopped up candied ginger and omit the powder.

*A wonderful addition to this tart is fresh spiced whipped cream. Simply add a teaspoon of allspice, cumin, cinnamon, or another sweet spice to the cream before whipping. Personally, I always add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to fresh whipped cream too; it gives it some extra sparkle.

**By the way, in case you were curious, simply place the tart on top of a glass to remove the sides of the tin. And, unless you have a 9” round spatula, keep the tart on the removable bottom part of the tart tin while serving.