March 23, 2012

Stuffed Sweet Peppers

We had a very mild winter this year (I'm not complaining), and spring is already here.  Flowers are blooming and the golden yellow daffodils are in plenty so early in the year.  With the seasonal change, the markets are filled with colorful fruits and veggies, and I happened to stumble upon these colorful peppers.  I wasn't quite sure what I would do with these when I bought some home.  A Google search offered the usual fare of stuffed peppers but I wanted something different.  A search in the pantry and fridge yielded some leftover feta cheese, olives, some salami, and herbs. 
I crumbled the cheese, diced the olives and salami, and tossed in some breadcrumbs and chopped scallions and cilantro.  Freshly ground black pepper and the stuffing was ready. 

The peppers were stemmed, cut lengthwise and stuffed.  I sprinkled little grated parmesan cheese on the peppers and drizzled a generous dose of extra virgin olive oil.  Pre-heated the oven to 400 degrees and roasted the peppers until the cheese melted and the peppers were sizzling.

It was a perfect appetizer - easy and quick to assemble and serve.

February 10, 2012

Chocolate Brownies

Craving a warm chocolate brownie? Just bake a batch of these chocolate goodness and your cravings will disappear.  Recently a friend presented me with a book, Blissful Brownies, and I thought how appropriate, brownies are pure bliss! The fabulous book has all kinds of brownie recipes, plain old brownies, brownies for special occasions, etc., etc.  This recipe was titled Sticky Chocolate Brownies.

I baked these brownies on a recent weekend, when nothing seemed inspiring, except sticky chocolate brownies.....and, were they inspiring? You bet!  If you are a chocoholic, you'll love these chewy treats. They are comforting - as in comfort food. 

To make these sticky brownies, I used:
3 oz. unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp corn syrup
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting


1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter an 8 x 8 inch pan and line the pan with parchment paper.

2.Place the butter, sugars, chocolate and corn syrup in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring until well blended. Remove from heat and let cool.

3.Beat together eggs and vanilla, and whisk in the cooled chocolate mixture.

4.Stir together the flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking powder and fold gently into the egg and chocolate mixture.

5.Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely, dust with confectioner’s sugar, and cut into squares (makes large 9 squares).

February 4, 2012

Chocolate-dipped Strawberries

Strawberries and chocolate - a perfect combo for a quick and easy sweet treat.  We had some unexpected friends over the other day who ended up spending all day with us and we talked and laughed and of course, the most important highlight of the day, we cooked a whole meal, complete with chocolate-dipped strawberries.  I'll talk about the main course some other time, but these little morsels of chocolate and fruit were the best part of the meal.

I am sure no one needs a recipe for this - simply melting chocolate and dipping the strawberries in it. After it has set, melt some white chocolate and drizzle on top.  Set aside again to firm up, and enjoy!

January 1, 2012

Fresh Dinner Rolls and Vegetable Soup

We had a simple lunch today, soup and fresh dinner rolls (I wonder why I shouldn't call it lunch rolls since I had it for lunch).  I was in a mood to bake, but nothing fancy that would keep me glued to a recipe.  So, I went to my favorite recipe for rolls from the King Arthur Flour website.  It is a recipe for cinnamon rolls, but instead of the cinnamon filling, I simply brushed the dough with some melted butter and italian seasoning and let it rise, then baked the rolls at 375 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes.  As soon as it was done and out of the oven, drizzled some extra virgin oil, italian seasoning and sea salt.  Yummy and warm....there were only six rolls left when it was time for lunch!

The vegetable soup is literally "an everything but the kitchen sink" soup.  In went one potato, one turnip, one kohlrabi, 2 medium carrots, 1 parsnip (all diced), one small leek (coarsely chopped), 1/2 cup green peas, and 1/2 cup dandelion greens (that is what I had in the refrigerator).  Sauteed one finely diced veggie sausage link, added the leek and allowed to soften.  Then added all the vegetables and 4 cups of vegetable stock (if you prefer, add chicken stock for extra flavor).  Dumped it all in a pressure cooker, added some salt, and cooked it for 7-8 minutes..... the soup was ready.  Topped with dandelion greens, freshly ground black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil.

December 29, 2011

A Refreshing Glass of Fruit Juice

Doesn't this glass of juice look gorgeous?  Well, can you guess what fruit juices are in here to give it the stunning color....take a guess.

OK, find out how close you are….a combination of stunning colors from a couple of apples and carrots, 3 celery sticks, 1 cup of fresh cranberries, a piece of fresh ginger….into my juicer with some ice, a few seconds later, there you have it.  I sprinkle some salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper to kick it up a notch.  How can you not want to drink this beautiful concoction – healthy, good for you, and so easy to whip up in seconds.

December 27, 2011

Aniseed Braid

Earlier this month I happened to lay my hands on a book that captivated me with the beautiful breads and cakes.  Warm Bread and Honey Cake – Home Baking From Around The World by Gaitri-Pagrach Chandra, a food historian who is a Guyanese Hindu of Indian ancestry.  Educated in North America and Europe and married into a European Jewish family, her book abounds with anecdotes and recipes from several parts of the world.  If you are a home baker looking for something different and like to bake authentic recipes from other countries, this book is for you. I baked a couple of other breads and cakes, and hopefully will post them some time soon.

I followed the recipe and made no changes.  The recipe can be accessed here.

I baked this bread for Christmas and it was a huge success....there were no leftover crumbs!  Everyone loved the aniseeds that imparted a characteristic flavor to the braid.  Here is my braid yeasting away....
And the finished braid...

I hope you bake this beautiful bread.  I am sending it off to Yeastspotting @ Wild Yeast.

December 26, 2011

Quinoa Split Pea Salad

Everyone seems to be talking about whole grains these days, and they are ubiquitous, found even in little grocery stores in small neighborhoods.  Quinoa, kasha, bulghur wheat, wheat berries, farro, and the list goes on.  I use most of these grains in various recipes, ranging from soups to salads to pilafs, and even baked into breads when I am in the mood.  This simple salad was the result of leftover cooked quinoa that was used for quinoa pilaf. 
Quinoa and split peas make a wonderful combination, chewy quinoa and the soft peas tossed with sauteed onions, garlic, cilantro, and jalapeno.  I used half a cup of cooked quinoa, half a cup of cooked split peas, a little diced onion, a clove of garlic - minced, and a few sprigs of fresh cilantro.  A pinch of turmeric gives the salad a vibrant yellowish tinge.  A pinch of salt, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a sprinkle of olive oil round off the salad.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  The leftover salad made for an excellent sumptuous lunch the next day.