Monday, March 30, 2009

Grilled Romaine Hearts with Easy Caesy Dressing

This dish was inspired by a great grilled Caesar Salad we had at Bugaboo Cafe at the Gallatin Road intersection with the mountain road in Big Sky, MT. It is a simple way to gussy up a basic salad.

Easy Caesy Dressing
All of these measurements are approximate. Build this dressing conservatively and taste as you go. You may notice that I'm missing a key Caesar ingredient: Parmesan. That's because I didn't have any on hand. Feel free to grate some into the dressing if you have it.

1 finely chopped anchovy fillet or 1 tbsp anchovy paste
1/2 tsp bottled minced garlic
1 tsp dijon mustard
5 shakes Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup light mayonnaise

Whisk ingredients together or shake together in a capped jar. Pour on top of grilled romaine hearts.

Grilled Romaine Hearts
One serving= 1/2 Romaine Heart

Slice romaine heart lengthwise and cut off any discolor on the bottom nub. Rinse thoroughly with water and dry. Brush inside of each half with olive oil and set down to grill on a large heated pan (nonstick, cast-iron or grill). Cook until grill marks appear and leaves are slightly wilted. Remove and drizzle with Easy Caesy Dressing.

Back from Montana

Sorry it's been a little quiet around DA. I just returned from a wonderful week of skiing the big mountains in Big Sky, Montana where the buffalo roam and the internet connections are slow. Please stay tuned for a few posts inspired by my time out west.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Baked Salmon in Parchment

I made this recipe for Salmon in Parchment for a weeknight dinner this week. It's light and healthy, and fairly quick too. Cooking time is only 15 minutes -and the bulk of the prep work is chopping. Make sure to check your salmon for pin bones, which you can pluck out with tweezers. If you don't have vermouth on hand, you can use white wine.

Salmon en Papillote with Dill-Yogurt Sauce
from Cooking Light

Yogurt sauce:
1/2 cup grated seeded peeled cucumber
3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Remaining ingredients:
2 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb (about 1 medium)
1/2 cup thinly sliced leek (about 1 small)
2 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skinned
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dry vermouth
Chopped fresh dill (optional)

To prepare yogurt sauce, place grated cucumber on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 5 minutes, pressing down occasionally. Combine cucumber, yogurt, and next 3 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Cut 4 (15 x 24-inch) pieces of parchment paper. Fold in half crosswise. Draw a large heart half on each piece, with the fold of the paper being the center of the heart. Cut out the heart, and open. Place about 1/2 cup fennel near fold of each piece of parchment. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons leek and 1/2 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle salmon evenly with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place 1 fillet on each serving. Drizzle 1 tablespoon vermouth over each serving. Starting at the top of the heart, fold edges of parchment, sealing edges with narrow folds. Twist the end tip to secure tightly. Place packets on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and let stand 5 minutes. Place on plates; cut open. Garnish with chopped fresh dill, if desired. Serve immediately with yogurt sauce.

Note: I served this with peas that I bought frozen and heated up in the microwave. They're great with the yogurt sauce.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Very exciting food news from the White House: an organic garden of edibles on the South Lawn. What a visible symbol of locavorism! From the New York Times.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tres Leches Cake + New Toys!

I made this Tres Leches cake with Alton Brown's recipe. It's sweet and creamy and moist just as it should be. Plus, it gave me the opportunity to use my new scale and new stand mixer beater blade. Let me tell you, this beater blade is amazing. No more stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Brilliant, wish I'd thought of it.

New toys!

Tres Leches Cake

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2007


For the cake:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 6 3/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces sugar
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the glaze:

  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half

For the topping:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 ounces sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cake:


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour a 13 by 9-inch metal pan and set aside.

Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. This will appear to be a very small amount of batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

Remove the cake pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.

For the glaze:

Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup. Once combined, pour the glaze over the cake. Refrigerate the cake overnight.


Place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks are formed. Change to medium speed and whisk until thick. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To cut the richness of the cake just a bit, I like to liberally sprinkle instant espresso powder over the top. Makes it taste a little like tiramisu. Yum.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Food Safety: Funny, but not

This article from The Onion gave me a chuckle, though as with most Onion pieces, the headline is really the best part. FDA approves Salmonella.

On a more serious note, peanut butter sales are reportedly down 45% since the most recent scare. And the total recall bill is estimated at $1 billion. Per the new food site at The Atlantic.

Christian Salt reports a new arrival to the seasonings market: Christian salt (to counteract the market share of Kosher salt, natch). A double whammy: idiotic AND offensive.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Steamed Mussels for an easy weeknight dinner!

I was inspired to try my hand at making mussels after watching 'Dick Move'(tm DCeiver), er, 'Throwdown' with Bobby Flay: Moules Frites. If you do the prep (chop parsley and slice onions) early in the day or the night before the dish can be on the table 15 minutes after you get home from work. Talk about quick and easy! Here's a link to the original recipe. Mussels with Saffron Cream. My tweaking is below.

Mussels with Saffron Cream
adapted from Gourmet

Yield: Makes 4 servings

1 large onion, halved lengthwise
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 lb cultivated mussels, rinsed well
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Using a mandoline, slice onion halves crosswise into less than 1/16-inch-thick slices.

Cook onion with saffron and 1/2 teaspoon salt in oil in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

Add wine and bring to a boil, then stir in cream, pepper, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and mussels. Cook, covered, checking after 6 minutes and transferring opened mussels to soup bowls with a slotted spoon. (Discard any that remain unopened after 8 minutes.)

Ladle broth over mussels in bowls and sprinkle with parsley.

Serve with slices of crusty bread.

Savory Bread Pudding

I came across this article, "No Crumb Left Behind" in the San Francisco Chronicle. It details 33 different ways to use leftover bread -a perfect, practical read for these scrimping and saving times!

One of my favorite ways to stretch leftover bread into a meal is to use it in a savory bread pudding. The essential ingredients are: bread, eggs and milk. To this you can add whatever you need to use up from your fridge or your pantry: herbs, cheese, peppers, aromatics, etc.

Here's a loosy-goosy recipe for what I did this week with 5 uneaten bagels leftover from weekend brunch.

Savory Bread Pudding
Set oven to 350 degrees.

Tear up bread (bagels in this case) into large bite sized pieces and place in a 13x17 inch casserole dish coated with cooking spray.

Saute 1 teaspoon diced garlic and 1 diced onion (white, yellow or red) in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until soft and translucent. Cool in pan.

Whisk together 6-8 eggs and approximately 1 cup milk with salt and pepper. Fold in herbs (I used chives), peppers (2 diced jalepenos), cooled onion and garlic, shredded chicken (or any other protein you may have) and about 3/4 cup shredded cheese (I had cheddar)

Pour egg mixture on top of bread. Sprinkle with about 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Let stand for about 10 minutes.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until top is brown and cheese is melted.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

No Reservations Disappearing Manhattan

I loved this Disappearing Manhattan episode of "No Reservations." Watch Tony Bourdain visit the island's still going strong old school haunts including The Old Heidelberg, Keens, Katz's and Sophie's Bar and wax sentimental about times and meals past.