July 31, 2012

Drunk Brussels Sprouts: 38 Power Foods - #7 Brussels Sprouts

Confession time - I am not a brussels sprouts fan.  I have super sensitive bitter taste buds that don't play well with this particular power food.  The only upside of this sensitivity?  I've become a pro at zesting citrus because to get few a pieces of pith would ruin a dish for me.  Thus, I've pulled one of my Dad's recipes for brussels sprouts that he makes every year for Thanksgiving.  It's super simple: beer, orange juice, brown sugar, and chicken stock reduced and then used to braise the little buggers.

Brussels sprouts have two compounds (indole-3-carbinole and sulforaphane for nerds like me) that are anti-carcinogenic.  Caveat - you can't cook them too long, especially boiling, or the compounds will break down and be ineffective.  (Also, the sprouts will turn grey and taste entirely unappetizing but let's stick to the fighting cancer schtick.)

I changed up my Dad's recipe a bit, he loves Guinness and I only drink it yearly for St Pattys so I used Blue Moon since it is lighter (read: less bitter) and already has a twinge of orange in it.  This sauce is super versatile and can be used on any veggie that you don't particularly care for but know you should eat, just like I ended up enjoying the brussels sprouts (as long as there was only one sprout per bite and lots of sauce).  Not just for Thanksgiving anymore!

July 26, 2012

Roasted Tomato and Leek Tart: Foodie Friends Friday Linky Party #5

Now that my Sunday morning routine involves a trip to Dupont for the farmer's market, I've started to make some farmer friends.  It's like that cooking channel commercial, food people are inclusive which is why a group like Foodie Friends Friday is so great.  We just want to share food, whether talking, writing, making, or eating.  So this week, I decided to make a tomato tart to highlight the food friends I've made and celebrate the linky party!

Every week, I go to the same tomato guy for super juicy ginormous tomatoes that almost rival a farm stand on the way to the beach tomato.  I had been scrolling through the french issue of Gourmet Live (source material for the 50 Women Game Changers Group) when I was waking up that morning and saw the most beautiful tomato tart.  I knew I wanted to try to make my own, so I grabbed a few extra tomatoes from my tomato guy, picked up some leeks and puff pastry, and got to roasting!

I've roasted plum and cherry tomatoes a bunch, but never big giant tomatoes.  I wasn't sure if I should seed them first, so I just left them be and thought that I could get them out in the end.  Hind site?  I think I would have deseeded just to ensure there wasn't any excess moisture in the tart that could potentially prevent the pastry to puff.  The roasted tomatoes were layered over puff pastry rolled out and covered with a creamy leek base.

I was a total sucker for the leeks, eating a spoonful here and there while the tomatoes were roasting.  I "melted" them by sauteing in butter over a low heat.  Once the leeks had been slowly browned, I added nutmeg, goat cheese, and heavy creamy to make the thick and creamy leek spread.  The whole tart was topped off with a little more goat cheese, creating a medley of flavors from the sweet tomatoes, warmth from the nutmeg, buttery crust, and tangy goat cheese.  To say I devoured this tart would be an understatement, but don't tell...

The Linky Part hosts this week are:
Robyn at Robyn's View
Marlys at This and That
Lindsey at Family Food Finds
Tami at Food Forays

Go check out their awesome blogs, submit a link to an original recipe of your own below, and share the foodie friends love!

July 25, 2012

Broccoli and Zoodle Summer Salad: 38 Power Foods - #5 Broccoli

When I was younger, I wasn't a broccoli fan.  Shocker, right?  It had absolutely nothing to do with the taste or me being a picky eater but a family story involving broccoli cooked so long that it turned grey.  Adding to the prejudice was the oddly sweet broccoli salad my mother would bring to picnics (sorry, Ger) and a green jello concoction with broccoli in it appropriately called "Green Stuff."  Seriously, how was a kid supposed to like broccoli when the adults insisted on mistreating it?

I grew up and so did my palette, and now I thoroughly enjoy broccoli and broccolini.  Which is great because it boosts immunity with beta-carotene, perfect for a lady who works in a hospital.  It also has been shown to regulate blood pressure, aid in dieting by providing fiber, and contains an antioxidant indole-3-carbinole that is anti-carcinogenic.  Good stuff, but probably not found in the cooked-to-death grey broccoli.

This salad was a result of overzealous purchase of local veggies and garlic in the kitchen transition.  I also picked up some nifty new peelers: a julienne peeler and a serrated peeler!  The serrated peeler will be able to get soft skins off of fruits while the julienne peeler makes adorable noodle like strips from hearty vegetables like zucchini and squash.  Before we switched to the linky party format for foodie friends friday, I featured a recipe about "zoodles" from Angie at A'lil Country Sugar and I've been thinking about using the zoodles in a faux pasta salad ever since!

They are a snap to make: just peel the skin and the "peel" with the julienne peeler.  To avoid the potential sticky zucchini juice, I put the strips into a cold water bath before blanching in salted boiling water.  Fresh local corn, cremini mushrooms, and broccoli florets were sautéed over medium heat in olive oil and added to the blanched noodles.

The star of this dish, however, is definitely the roasted garlic vinaigrette.  I bought about 10 heads of garlic because they were on super sale so I roasted half for an hour at 400 F (full instructions here) to freeze and store.  Roasted garlic, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil buzzed up with my immersion blender was a revelation.  I need to make this dressing every week!  It was mellow and sweet from the garlic with the bite of lemon that pairs so well with broccoli while getting all into the nooks and crannies of the florets.  Seriously, go make this now!

Also, it may be before my time, but I had Dana Carvey's chopping broccoli song stuck in my head whilst writing this post . . .

July 19, 2012

Foodie Friends Friday: Linky Party #4

Welcome to another edition of Foodie Friends Friday!  The party is getting bigger, with 18 hosts!  Next week, we will be picking host favorites, top clicked, and most voted recipes to be featured at the Foodie Friends Friday site.  The party is live now and you can submit your recipes until Sunday.  I know I'll be linking up my Key Lime Baby Cheesecakes and the Scallops from earlier in the week!  So what will you bring to the party?

The hosts for this week include:
Robyn at Robyn's View  
Marlys at This and That
Lindsey at Family Food Finds  
Rhiannon at Baked In The South

Just remember these simple rules:
Step 1:  Make sure that anything you link up is:
  • A Recipe...and is made and photographed by you
  • Not part of a sponsership/sales/giveaway or other promotions/linky parties
  • Linked to a specific page of your recipe, not your homepage
  • Please limit your link-ups to 3 per party
Step 2:
* for example:  This recipe is featured on "Host Blog Link" and  http://www.foodiefriendsfriday.com  Linky Party)
If you want to be the very best Foodie Friend Ever...
  • Grab our button at http://foodiefriendsfriday.com and put it on your page and share Foodie Friends Friday!
  • Take some time and check out other submitted links and the blogs of all of our gracious hosts
  • Come on over and "like" us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter and Pinterest
***Please note that by linking up you are transferring rights to Foodie Friends Friday and any of it's affiliated websites or publications to use photos/links/recipes for any reprint, republishing and distribution without monetary compensation to you.  If photos/recipes are used, proper credit/ linkbacks will be published with them.  We just want to share your amazing recipes and spread some foodie <3 !

July 18, 2012

Key Lime Baby Cheesecakes

It is a well known fact that I am a cheesecake enthusiast.  From nutella to blueberry yogurt to goat cheese variations, it has popped up quite a bit on the blog.  My party signature is to bring my 2-bite baby cheesecakes, a tradition started at my friend's 21st in college.  A few weeks ago before the complete kitchen shut out, I got an email request from my old roommate Kate (who writes a super cute nail blog) about a key lime baby cheesecake I had made when we lived together.  I could not for the life of me remember where I got the recipe, which is pretty much the reason why I started blogging in the first place, so I decided to improv a new version.

Citrus desserts are my favorite in the summer, so I really couldn't imagine anything more perfect than a cold key lime cheesecake during another spell of 100+ degree days.  I picked up some Nellie and Joe's concentrated key lime juice only because juicing those little buggers is a pain in the ass, plus it's the original so I gave myself a pass on my no premade products rule.  A little bit of sweetened condensed milk will bring in the flavors of the traditional key lime pie while fresh key lime zest is a must for zingy fresh taste.

Normally I make my baby cheesecakes "naked" but I finally tried out the mini muffin pan paper liners and I will never go back!  You can still use the two pan method to evenly pack down the graham cracker crust without crushing the liners.

Just 5 minutes for the crust and 12 minutes for the filling, this is a fast bake that would be perfect when you remember the night before an event you need to bring something!  I chilled the cheesecakes overnight and then topped the tantalizingly tart baby cheesecakes with a lime scented whipped cream dollop.

Goodness, I missed baking . . .

July 16, 2012

Seared Scallops with Dijon Wine Sauce

I'm alive!  So a series of unfortunate and fortunate circumstances has kept me out of the kitchen for the last two weeks.  The dreaded derecho wind storm blew out my pilot light, which I couldn't relight because the old piece of crap needed a new part to relight again.  The repairman cancelled our first appointment, landing the second one directly in the middle of MOVING WEEK!  Yes, ladies and gents, I am currently residing in my first home that I (part) own!  The bed went over on Saturday night, so yesterday I went to all of my favorite food spots all over town to restock myself.  Farmer's market tomatoes, local corn and zucchini, my favorite cream cheese for baby cheesecakes tomorrow, and a super rare find of fresh sea scallops!  I decided the scallops needed a little white wine, and proceeded to make myself a celebratory first meal!

It felt so freaking good to get back to my cooking Sunday, when I get super ambitious and cook for hours to prepare for the week.  Since starting to write this blog, cooking has been my creative outlet and without it I was going crazy!  Before it was something that I enjoyed doing but now that it has become part of my routine I felt empty without making a mess at the end of the day.  I feel balanced again, ready to create and share with the rest of you!

Now, for the scallops!  It's really the easiest seafood ever to cook and tastes flawlessly sweet and buttery every time.  Clean, pat VERY DRY with paper towels, season with salt and pepper, and sear for about a 1 minute a side in a super hot pan.  That's it!  As scallops are my favorite type of sushi, I like mine a little rare in the middle.  Like Alton Brown showed us in his scallop episode, the outside ends will have a nice crust while the middles will still be translucent.  As a safety precaution, only do this technique with super fresh scallops.

I made a fast dijon mustard and white wine sauce, salty and tangy to pair with the sweet scallops, and laid it all on a bed of peppery arugula.  Yet another example of the simplest things done right will taste the best.  Fast, easy, and festive, it was a great first meal in the new place!

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