Saturday, December 20, 2014

Herbed Goat Cheese Sandwiches

These little mini tea sandwiches can be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge. They make a light little snack or appetizer and can easily be made for a crowd. Great for the holidays or any other celebration.

Herb Goat Cheese Sandwiches
(Ina Garten)
serving 40 - 45 sandwiches

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
10 ½ ounces mild goat cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
5 to 6 tablespoons milk, half-and-half or heavy cream
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 loaves 7-grain bread, thinly sliced
1 hothouse cucumber, not peeled

For the spread, place the cream cheese, goat cheese, garlic, thyme, parsley, 5 tablespoons milk, salt and pepper in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until well mixed. Add an additional tablespoon of milk if the spread is very thick.

To make the sandwiches, spread each slice of bread with the goat cheese spread. Slice the cucumber into thin rounds and arrange on half of the bread slices. Top with the remaining bread. Press slightly, trim off the crusts and cut the sandwiches into halves, thirds or triangles.

Make these sandwiches in the morning, then cover with damp paper towels and plastic wrap and refrigerate (I made mine a day in advance and they were perfect, just wrap them very well). Cut just before serving.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Spicy Lobster Pasta

It is always nice to have recipe on hand for those really busy days when you have no time at all but still want something good and home cooked for dinner. The sauce for this pasta dish is made in the time the pasta cooks and you can use any kind of seafood for this sauce. No matter what kind of seafood you end up using Lobster, Crab or Shrimp this dish will be equally delicious. The sauce is made in the time the pasta cooks, the red pepper flakes add a little bit of heat to the seafood and the bursting, juicy tomatoes complement the dish.

Spicy Lobster Pasta
serves 4

12 ounces spaghetti
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound cherry and/or Sun Gold 
 tomatoes, halved
1 pound picked cooked lobster meat 
or cooked large shrimp
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Lemon wedges (for serving)


Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid (the secret to silky sauce).

Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook shallot and red pepper flakes, stirring often, until shallot is softened, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until tomatoes are soft and juicy, 5–8 minutes.

Add lobster meat to skillet and toss to coat. Add pasta and ½ cup reserved pasta cooking liquid; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing constantly and adding more reserved pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 2 minutes.
Serve pasta topped with lemon zest, with lemon wedges alongside for squeezing over.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Brown Butter Pumpkin Loaf with Streusel

Fall calls for Pumpkin Bread. This recipe got my intention because it uses brown butter instead of regular butter. I cannot say that I really tasted the brown butter in the cake but it was very moist and absolutely tasty. Maybe I didn't cook my butter long enough but it goes from brown to burned in a second and I was a little bit scared to do just that. I liked the Streusel on top best and I would double them the next time.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Loaf with Streusel

Soft and perfectly spiced with brown butter, this classic pumpkin bread takes things to the next level. Try the same batter in a muffin pan, too.
From: Taylor Kadlec

Serves: 2 loaves or 24 muffins
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
15 oz can of pumpkin puree
3 cups flour (I used white whole wheat)
1½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
for the streusel:
4 tbsp butter, melted
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup oats (old fashioned or quick oats work fine here)
¼ cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray two 9×5″ bread pans or two muffins pans (24 muffins total) with cooking spray, and set aside.
In medium saucepan, add butter over medium-low heat.
Melt, and then cook for 7-10 minutes longer, until it starts to turn a caramel color.
Remove from heat immediately.
In large bowl, stir together or beat with electric mixer the butter and sugars.
Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are completely mixed in.
In medium bowl, combine flour, spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stirring until just combined.
Pour into prepared baking pans/muffin tins.
In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the streusel, mixing well.
Sprinkle over loaves/muffins.
Bake in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes (loaves) or 18-20 minutes (muffins), until tops are golden and a tester comes out pretty much clean.
Let cool completely.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Indian Butter Chicken

Don't be put off by the long ingredients list in this recipe. It's mostly spices that you pull out of your drawer (or off the supermarket shelf) and mix together to marinate the chicken. It's a very easy dish that doesn't take long to make once the chicken is in the bag. The chicken will get very juicy and tender and the taste is phenomenal. I got this very cute little Indian spice box that you can see on the picture called Masala Dabba for my birthday from a dear friend. This box makes it very easy to cook dishes that use lots of spices. You don't have to use it for Indian spices but you could use it for any kind of spices that you use very often.

Indian Butter Chicken

(from the New York Times)

1 ½ cups full-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons garam masala
2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 pounds chicken thighs, on the bone
¼ pound unsalted butter
4 teaspoons neutral oil, like vegetable or canola oil
2 medium-size yellow onions, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely diced
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 medium-size tomatoes, diced
2 red chiles, like Anaheim, or 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
 Kosher salt to taste
⅔ cup chicken stock, low-sodium or homemade
1 ½ cups cream
1 ½ teaspoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons ground almonds, or finely chopped almonds
½ bunch cilantro leaves, stems removed.


Whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala and cumin in a large bowl. Put the chicken in, and coat with the marinade. Cover, and refrigerate (for up to a day).
In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter in the oil until it starts to foam. Add the onions, and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and cumin seeds, and cook until the onions start to brown.
Add the cinnamon stick, tomatoes, chiles and salt, and cook until the chiles are soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the chicken and marinade to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes, then add the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes.
Stir in the cream and tomato paste, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the almonds, cook for an additional 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Garnish with the cilantro leaves.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

German Nut Cookies - Nussecken

A typical German Cookie that has almost a cake like consistency is the "German Nussecken". They are made from pastry dough topped with a layer of jam and caramelized nuts.  My brother in law loves to bake and he makes great cookies and cakes. He has a great recipe for these cookies and he gladly shared it with me. Now I can share it with you. Thank you Jörg!

German Nussecken

300 g of Flour
2 packages of Vanilla Sugar
1t Baking Powder
130 g of Sugar
2 Eggs
130 g of Butter, cubed

4 T Apricot Jam or Orange Marmalade, slightly warmed

Nut Mixture
200 g of Butter
200 g of Sugar
2 packages Vanilla Sugar
2 T of Water
400 g Nuts of your choice, chopped

Decoration (optional)
Melted chocolate

Knead the ingredients for the dough together quickly until you have a smooth dough, wrap in cling wrap and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Let the butter, sugars, and water melt over low heat in a medium pot. Let come to a short boil, then add the nuts and take off the heat. Let cool.

Preheat your oven to 350 F / 190 C.
Roll out the dough directly on the baking tray. You might not have enough to fill the whole baking tray (my tray was about 2/3 full). Spread a thin layer of the jam on top, then add the nuts.
Bake for approximately 20 - 30 minutes and watch closely. It may burn from one second to another.

Let cool slightly, then cut into triangles and drizzle with melted chocolate if you like.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Onion Tart Tatin

I love Tart and I love caramelized onions, so what could be better than putting those two together in a beautiful French Onion Tarte Tatin? Not only is this an elegant and beautiful dish, but it also comes together rather quickly and is less complicated to make than you might think.

French Onion Tart


Serves: 2
Preparation time:  20 minutes
Cooking time:  35 minutes

You will need
2 brown onions (I used 10 shallots instead of the brown and red onions)
1 red onion
50g butter (I used less than half the amount)
2 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
A few thyme sprigs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g ready rolled puff pastry
Goat Cheese (optional)
Little flour for rolling

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 6/ 350 - 400 F.

2. Cut the onions into wedges from the roots to the stems. Melt the butter in a 20 centimetre frying pan with a metal handle.

3. Add the onions and fry over a medium heat for about five minutes, turning from time to time until just beginning to brown.

4. Add the honey and vinegar and cook for a further five minutes, moving and shaking the pan occasionally so the onions do not stick to the pan. Arrange the onions so they make a pretty pattern, remembering you will be inverting the tart.

5. Add the thyme stems and season well. Leave to cool while you prepare the pastry.

6. Roll out the pastry on to a lightly floured surface and cut into a circle slightly larger than the diametre of the frying pan. Lift the pastry over the onions and tuck down the sides of the pan or tin. Make two small slits for the steam to escape.

7. Bake for 25 to 20 minutes (Mine took more than 40 minutes) until the pastry is well risen. Leave to stand for five minutes. Turn the pastry gently to release, you should be able to spin the tart tatin when it is ready to serve. Cover the pan with a plate, invert then remove the pan leaving the tart now on the plate.

8. Serve warm or cold with a scatter of rocket and parmesan shavings.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Waldorf Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is quite popular right now. Understandably so, since it has a pleasant nutty taste, is high in protein, iron, magnesium, and fiber. It is easy to cook and makes a great pantry stable. Here is one example of what you can do with it...

Quinoa Waldorf Salad
(from Quinoa Revolution)

serves 8

2 cups (500 ml) water
1 cup (250 ml) quinoa
3/4 cup (175 ml) halved red grapes
2/3 cup (150 ml) thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup (125 ml) thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup (125 ml ) halved fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
1/2 cup (125 ml) toasted walnuts
1/2 cup ( 125 ml) orange juice
2 T (30 ml) flaxseed oil
1/4 t salt
pinch of cinnamon
3/4 cup (175 ml) cored and diced apple

Bring the water and quinoa to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the cooled quinoa with the grapes, celery, green onions, cranberries and walnut pieces. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, oil, salt and cinnamon. Toss diced apple in dressing then toss dressing and apples together with the quinoa mixture. This salad is best served after resting for about 2 hours in the fridge but can be served right away.