Thursday, May 27, 2010

Roasted Shellfish with Coriander, Fennel and Meyer Lemon

Not for the faint of heart, this recipe was deceptively easy on paper.  The most challenging part was finding the correct shellfish and then convincing Mike we should splurge for this dish (and have him trust that I wouldn't royally screw it up).  Beyond the challenge of finding the correct shellfish and managing the cost (Crab legs were $34.00/lb), the hardest part of this recipe is managing your cooking temperature.  You need to know your oven and stovetop temperatures well and watch the dish closely, to avoid overcooking.

If you are still in, the recipe is as follows (taken from Bon Apetit Magazine):


Prep: 35 minutes / Total: 35 Minutes / 4 Servings
(This recipe is easy to split in half if you are cooking for only two...I don't recommend doing left over shellfish)

- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds stone crab claws* or Canadian snow crab legs, shells cracked with a mallet or cut with scissors
- 8 farmed Manila clams or quahogs (about 1 1/2 pounds), scrubbed
- 16 farmed mussels, scrubbed, debearded
- 1/2 cup chopped shallots
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice or 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
- Chopped fresh chives
*After going to two locations, we compromised and purchased one whole Dungeness crab, which they cracked for us at Captain Kidds, near the Redondo Pier.

Our Crab From Captain Kidds (I named him, Fred)

Captain Kidd's - Redondo Beach

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.  Process coriander seeds and fennel seeds in a spice grinder or coffee mill until coarsely ground (I have neither, so I used a mortar and pestal). 

Place heavy large roasting pan over 2 burners and heat over medium heat.  Add ground coriander and fennel seeds and stir 1 minute.  Add olive oil, cracked crab, Manila clams and mussels; stir to coat.  Place pan in oven.  Roast until crab is heated through and clmas and mussels open, stirring occasionally and transferring clams and mussels to platter as they open, about 10 minutes.

Using tongs, transfer crab, clams and mussels to platter (discard any clams and mussels that do not open); tent with foil to keep warm.  Heat same pan over 2 burners over high heat.  Add shallots and wine and boil 1 minute.  Add lemon juice and boil until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.  Whisk in butter.  Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour sauce over shellfish.  Sprinkle with chives and serve.

This recipe is excellent served with toasted baguette.  Purchase the baguette on the day you want to eat it. Thinly slice the bread into approx 1" thick pieces; spread the pieces out onto a cookie sheet, brush with olive oil and throw into the oven after you remove the shellfish.  Bake until toasted (approx 5-7 minutes).

Mike and enjoyed this meal with a bottle of lovely champagne to celebrate the Lost finale.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

White Turkey Chili

Last Saturday, I wanted to make us a healthy meal packed with good carbs and protein before our 5K.  This is a simple Better Homes and Garden's Recipe that tastes so much better than the photo looks!

Prep: 20 minutes   Cook: 25 minutes

- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 lbs skinless, boneless turkey breast, cut into 3/4" pieces (You may substitute w/ chicken, and the recipe is equally delicious)
- 1 large onion (12 ounces), finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 can (19 ounces) white kidney beans (cannellini), rinsed and drained
- 1 can (4 to 4 1/2 ounces) chopped mild green chilis
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth - I always use low-sodium broth
- 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 3/4 tsp ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen whole-kernel corn
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/ In 5-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until very hot.  Add turkey, in batches, and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes per batch.  With slottd poon, transfer turkey to large bowl.

2/ To Dutch oven, add onion and garlic.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.  Add beans, chiles, broth, and seasonings; heat to boiling over high heat.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer until flavors have blended, about 7 minutes.  Add corn, cilantro, and turkey; cook until corn is hot and turkey has lost it's pink color throughout, about 3 minutes longer.  Stir in lime juice and serve.  Makes 8 cups or 6 main-dish servings.

I recommend serving with Red Apple Corn Bread:

Nutrition Info:
About 341 Calories-per-serving, 44g protein, 25g carbohydrates, 7g fat (1g saturated fat), 94mg cholesterol, 656mg sodium

(Gluten Free) Red Apple Corn Bread

At the age of 22, I took a roadtrip across the country - traveling from Los Angeles-to-Miami, with my good friend Angela Davis (not to be confused with the civil rights activist).  On our way through Texas, we stopped off in Shiner and visited their small brewery.  Although Angela and I arrived right as they were closing, the employees at Shiner were so friendly they took us out to a local bar and bought us a few Shiner Beer's on them.  We even got to hang out with the Brew-Master!

As we were leaving the brewery, I had time to hit the gift shop and buy a cookbook of recipes using Shiner Beer.  The one below for cornbread is simple and delicious (although, I'm embarrassed to admit I used Budweiser for this round).  The texture is pretty dense, but the buttermilk and apples give a distinct flavor that is rich and slightly sweet.  This tastes great with orange jalapeno preserves!

(as the cookbook reads:)
A good solid corn bread, with the fine johnnycake flavor of yellow meal.

-2 Tbsp. shortening
-1/4 c. sugar - (I used Raw Turbinado Sugar)
-1 1/2 tsp. salt
-2 c. yellow corn meal
-2 c. buttermilk
-2 eggs, beaten
-1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
-1 Tbsp. Shiner beer
-1 c. chopped raw red apples

Melt the shortening in the top of a double boiler.  Then add the sugar, salt, corn meal, and buttermilk, stirring well. 

Cook for about 10 minutes; allow to cool.  Add the beaten eggs to the cooked mixture; dissolve the baking soda in the beer and add.  Stir in the chopped red apples and bix thoroughly. 

Grease a 9x13 ince baking pan and pour in the batter.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes; test for doneness in your usual way.  Serve warm or cold.  Makes 8 servings.
-Mary Lee Najvar

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Greek Style Porkchops

This method of cooking porkchops was taught to my by my crazy Greek friend, John.  For Greek cooking, I've found you only need four ingredients: lemon, garlic, olive oil and oregano.  These, plus salt, pepper and a good broiler and you can cook almost anything and it will come out good.

For this recipe, I don't have measurements.  I sort of eyeball everything.

-Lean Cut Pork Chops (you can use bone-in, or not)
-Lemon Juice
-Chopped Garlic
-Olive Oil
-Course Salt
-Coursely Ground Black Pepper
-Dried Oregano
-Xtra Olive Oil for brushing on chops, while they cook

1/ Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Place pork chops in bowl and toss until they are coated.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow pork chops to marinate in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

2/ Turn your oven onto broil, and move rack to the highest setting.  Evenly space porkchops on a broiling pan and brush the top with olive oil.

3/ Broil for 5-6 minutes and check chops.  Brush with more oil and continue broiling approx 2 more minutes.  You want to be very careful not to overcook.  Broiling cooks the meat fast and when done right you have a golden, crispy texture with a moist center.  Cook too long, and the meat get's tough.

When chops are done you can serve them with Smashed Red Potatoes and steamed broccoli.  Enjoy with friends.

Quick and Easy Roasted Lemon-Balsamic Asparagus

Asparagus is super healthy, delicious and so quick and easy to make.  You can bake, steam, stir fry, roast or grill asparagus.  Here is a quick and easy recipe with a rich balsamic and lemon flavor:

- 1 large bundle asparagus
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Heaping Tablespoon Chopped Garlic (in oil)
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Coursely ground Black Pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Freshly grated lemon peel (optional)

 1/ Preheat oven to 450 degree F.

2/ To prepare asparagus, hold the base of each spear in one hand and bend back the stalk; the end will break off at the spot where the stalk becomes too tough to eat.  Discard the tough stem.

3/ In large roasting pan (17" x 11 1/2"), toss asparagus, oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, pepper and lemon juice until coated.

4/ Roast asparagus, shaking pan occasionally, until tender and lighlty browned, about 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with grated lemon peel, if you like, and serve with lemon wedges.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Perfect Espresso

Every baked good tastes better with Espresso.  This is my all-time favorite Sunday, Espresso treat.  The twist of lemon, I discovered in Florence where they serve Macchiatos w/ a twist.

- Double Shot Fresh, Hot Espresso (I use a stove top Baretta cappuccino maker to make my espresso and my current favorite is Pete's Anniversary Blend Coffee, finely blended)
- 2 Heaping Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar Or Raw Cane Sugar
- Heavy Whipping Cream (approx 1/4-1/2 cup)
- 1-2 tsp Vanilla Flavored Coffee Syrup (Torani's Brand or Target Brand works good)
1 small lemon
- 2 very small mugs or espresso glasses

1/ Place whipped cream and vanilla syrup in a bowl.  Beat mercilessly with a whisk or  hand-held mixer until it becomes whipped cream (approx 4 minutes)
2/ Place 1 Heaping Tbsp of Brown Sugar in each espresso cup.
3/ Peel a two small lemon twists off of the lemon rind and run each one around the lip of the cup (don't put in the cup, serve on the side as a garnish).
4/ Slowly pour espresso on top of sugar and stir until it dissolved.
5/ Take 1 heaping tablespoon of whipped cream and place in cup.  Do this slowly, lowering the bottom of the spoon into the cup; when spoon is submerged, slide out horizontally, so the cream stays floating on top.

Grab a breakfast muffin or cookie and a crossword puzzle and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dark Chocolate Espresso Truffles

I decided to make these for my mom and grandma, as a decadent Mother's Day treat.

The trick to good truffles is simple: always use high quality chocolate.  Mid-level brands like Hershey's, use wax.  Varhola and Lindt are great brands.  For these, I used Trader Joe's brand.  They came out pretty delicious, but Varhola is my favorite.  It's made with cocoa butter, which gives the final candies a rich, buttery texture.

3 1/2 ounces good bittersweet chocolate
3 1/2 ounces good semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 Tbsp Coffee Liqueur (I recommend Kahlua, but for this recipe I used Seagram's Espresso Flavored Vodka; Grand Marnier also works well)
1 Tbsp prepared Espresso (or super-dark coffee)
1/2 Teaspoon Good Vanilla Extract
Cocoa Powder
Optional: Penzy's Baking Spice
Optional: Confectioners' Sugar


Chop the chocolates finely and place in bowl.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it boils.  Immediately pour the hot cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the bowl with the chocolates.

With a wire whisk, slowly stir the crewam and chocolates together until the chocolate is completely melted.  (If the chocolate doesn't melt compeltely, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir for a few minuts JUST until it melts.)  Whisk in the Coffee Liquer, espresso and vanilla.  Cover and chill for 45 minutes to an hour until pliable but firm enough to scoop.

With two teaspoons, make dollops of the chocolate mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Refrigerate for about 15 minutes, until firm enough to roll into rough spheres.

Roll in cocoa powder and chill.  Truffles are best when they're allowed to set overnight in the refridgerator.

If so desired, top with Penzy's Baking Spice and/or roll in confectioners' sugar.  Serve chilled or at room temp.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

This one is pretty easy and the cookies aren't bad.  Especially if you love peanut butter.  They don't have any butter, so they are cholesterol free.  Next time, I'm going to try adding a hershey's kiss to the center of each cookie after pulling them from the oven.

(Makes 2 dozen 2" Cookies)

-3/4 cup Peanut Butter
-1 Egg
-1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
-1/4 Cup Honey
-1/4 Cup Orange Juice (I substituted Cranberry Juice)
-1 1/2 Cups Gluten-Free Baking Mix or other Wheat Flour substitute blend


1/ Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.  Combine peanut butter, egg, brown sugar, honey and juice in a bowl.  Beat with a hand-held mixer until well blended.

2/ Add Gluten Free Baking Mix or Flour substitute a little at a time and stir until combined.  (Dough may become too stiff for mixer and have to be blended by hand).

3/ Drop dough by heaping teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet, 1 1/2" apart.  Flatten by crisscrossing with tines of a fork, dipped in sugar.  Moisten fork lightly with water, if needed, to keep sugar to adhere.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Cool for 2 minutes on a cookie sheet.
Remove cookies to rack to cool.

Nutrition Info: Calories: 123, Total Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 0.9g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 97mg, Carbohydrate: 20.2g, Dietary Fiber: 1g, Sugars: 7.9g, Protein: 2.4g, Vitamin A: 0%, Vitamin C: 1%, Calcium: 0%, Iron: 2%

Smashed Red Potatos with Garlic and Green Onion

Since eliminating gluten from my diet, I've had a new-found love of starchy foods.  On Sunday, we decided to have filet for dinner, and I wanted a healthy alternative to mashed potatos.  Here is a very simple recipe that tastes amazing (Mike, my most discerning healthfood taster, loved it)

(Recipe makes approx 3 servings)

-4 Small/Med Red Potatos
-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-Kosher Salt
-Fresh Ground Pepper
-2-3 Minced Garlic Gloves
-1-2 Tbsp Minced Green Onion

1/ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Chop potatoes into large pieces (the original recipe calls for you baking the potatoes whole, but this takes too much time; slicing them helps to get dinner ready faster and you don't lose any of the "yum" factor). Put potatos in a medium oven-proof pot (with a cover) and add about 1 tablespoon of butter,  cut into pieces.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cover and bake for 20 minutes.

2/ Take the potatos out and mix them so they're coated with butter.  Add more salt and pepper, and 1-2 cloves of the minced garlic.  Cover, return to the oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes (until potatoes slide off a fork easily).

3/ When potatos are done, remove the pot from the oven and use a potato masher to crush the potatoes lightly (don't overdo it).  Toss with remaining butter and garlic.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  Toss in green onion and lightly combine before serving.

Nutrition Info:  Calories: 275   Total Fat: 7.7g  Saturated Fat: 4.7g  Trans Fat: 0g  Carbohydrate: 46g  Dietary Fiber: 4.3g  Sugars: 3.4g  Protein: 5.4g  Vitamin A: 9%  Vitamin C: 53%  Calcium: 2%  Iron: 9%

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Gluten-Free Banana Pancakes (these are fried, not baked...another cheat on the blog)

Shown here w/ honey and frozen berries

I discovered these actually have a better consistancy if you pre-make the batter and let it sit in the fridge for a bit before cooking.

1 Cup Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
3/4 Cups Milk (I use Vanilla Flavored Rice Milk)
3 Tablespoons Butter or Margarine, Melted
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
1 Very Ripe Medium Banana, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
Vegetable oil for brushing pan (I prefer melted butter)

1. In bowl, combine Gluten Free Baking Mix, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add milk, butter and egg and stir until flour is moistened.  Add banana and stir until combined.

2. Heat griddle or 12-inch skillet over medium heat until drop of water sizzles; brush lightly with oil.  Pour batter by scant 1/4 cups onto hot griddle, making a few pancakes at a time.  cook until tops are bubbly, some bubbles burst, and edges look dry.  With wide spatula, turn and cook until underside is golden (I usually use a fork to help me flip the pancake; with the gluten-free flour, they don't hold together as easily when turning over).  Transfer to platter; keep warm.

3. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing griddle with more oil if necessary.  Makes 3 servings.

Each serving: About 388 calories, 10g protein, 46 carbohydrate, 19g total fat (10g saturated), 116mg cholesterol, 981mg sodium

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Gluten-Free Carob Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies- A Work in Progress

This post is so unbelievably typical of me.  Instead of buying a gluten free baking blend and following one of the simple recipes on the back of the box, I decided to doctor my own version of Double Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, by subbing out the white sugar for honey and orange juice and by adding raw ginger, cinnamon and some other spices...and then I wonder why they didn't quite work out.  The flavor was delicious, but the consistancy - not so much.  

When I pulled the cookies from the oven, they were okay, but when taking them off the baking sheets, they literally crumbled into a doughy dust.  I finally figured out if I put the baking sheets in the freezer, the cookies would harden enough for me to remove them from the sheets. I then immediately wrapped cookie bundles in tin foil and we've been storing them in the freezer.  The ginger/carob/OJ combo makes for a distinct and amazing flavor, and they taste delicious frozen.  I'm not sure if subsitituting the honey and OJ just made the whole consistancy too soft, or if the issue was not using wheat flour.  I may try this recipe again (in the same doctored fashion) but use regular flour to see if I can get the cookie to have the same robust flavor but not completely fall apart.

Listed below is the recipe I started with (a Martha Stewart Cookie Recipe) and then I've called out my amendments:


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I substituted 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 cup orange juice)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar(I substituted 3/4 cup dark brown sugar)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used 1 tsp *Penzey's Pure Vanilla Extract Double Strength) 
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I substituted 1 3/4c Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free Baking Mix)
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I substitued 1/4 cup Carob Powder)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups white chocolate chunks (about 9oz) (I substituted 2c semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1 3/4 cups sweetened flaked coconu(I omitted)
1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (about 9oz)(I omitted)
In addition, I added the following ingredients:
- 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon Penzey's China Cinnamon Tung Hing
- 1/2 teaspoon Penzey's Baking Spice (a combo of Ceylon Cinnamon, China Cassia, ground Spanish Anise Seed, Allspice, Mace, and Cardamom)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put butter, sugar, OJ and honey in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Mix in eggs one at a time.  Stir in vanilla.

2. Sift Baking Mix, carob powder, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, baking spice and salt into a bowl.  Mix into butter mixture on low speed until well combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

3. Using a 1 1/2 inch ice-cream scoop (I use two tablespoons), drop batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart.  Flatten slightly.  Bake until set, 10-12 minutes.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks 2 minutes (then move sheets to the freezer for an additional 10 minutes).  Transfer cookies onto racks to cool completely (or with gluten free cookies, get those suckers wrapped up and in the freezer before they completely fall apart).  Cookies can be stored in airtight container up to 1 week.

*Jen and Rob got us a baking seasoning kit from Penzey's as a housewarming.  Using these seasoning really made the difference in this recipe.  I could literally taste how wonderful the vanilla and cinnamon were.  Penzey's has all kinds of seasonings.  If you haven't heard of them you should check them out:

Gluten Free Baking is not Easy

I have decided to go gluten free for 28 days.  I want to continue this blog and some kitchen experimentation, so gluten free is my new challenge.  And it's not easy.

The few things I have tried so far (see Gluten-Free Carob Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies & Gluten-Free Banana Pancakes), were good but not great.  The consistancy of these things without flour to sticky them up, is very light and frothy and doesn't quite hold together.  The texture of batters made gluten free are akin to egg-white froth; versus the expected yummy heaviness of pancake or cookie batter which is closer to a soft, watered down playdough.

Attached below is a great article on the different flour options for people who don't eat gluten:

I was overwhelmed when I hit the baking section on Whole Foods and saw literally how many options I had (hazelnut flour - ground hazelnut you can use for making pie crust...sounded delicious, but at $12 for a small bag, I decided to pass).  There are high-protein almond flours..the list goes on and on.

I decided to start with a pre-combined "gluten free baking 'flour'" blend from Arrow Mills.  I still can't figure out if this has the correct amount of binding agent (when you don't use gluten, you need some other binding agent, such as Xanthium Gum, to hold your batter together), or if this mixture does have enough of a binding agent and there is just no real substitute for good old fashioned wheat flour.

I haven't given up yet.  I think with some trial and error, I'll find gluten free recipes that work.