Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Turkey and Stuffing Pizza - Perfect for Thanksgiving Leftovers!

Perfect Served on a Cutting Board - 
Especially with a Glass of Wine, A Movie and the Man (or Woman) You Love

There's not a whole lot to this recipe. We have Thanksgiving every year at my Mom and Dad's place.  Me being an only child, with just my husband, there is always an obscene amount of left overs.  Bye day  3 of reheated Turkey, I did some searching online for creative Thanksgiving leftovers "makeover" recipes (see my last post for Pumpkin Pie Pancakes).

I found some good options on Daily Candy and Betty Crocker's website: Turkey Biscuit Pot Pie,  Turkey Divan, and Mashed Potato and Turkey Soup, to name a few....

I was especially eager to make Thanksgiving Leftover Pizza.  Betty Crocker's version looked good, but almost like everything from the Thanksgiving dish slapped on a pizza shell, so my version (made up from pretty much what I had in the fridge) is a bit less traditional, but was pretty fantastic.

Trader Joe's Ready-To-Bake Pizza Dough, Garlic Herb Flavor
1 Cup Marinara Sauce (I used Barilla Brand Garlic Flavor)
1 Cup Shredded Cheese or Cheeses of your Choice (I used a delicious combo of Mozarella, Blue Cheese, Goat Cheese and Pecorino-Romano)
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
3/4 Cup Shredded Turkey Meat (I prefer White Meat)
1/2-3/4 Cup Stuffing 
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tsp dried rosemary
kosher salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup corn meal (for preparing the dough)
1 cup fresh spinach (optional)
red pepper flakes (optional)

Follow directions on package for preparing pizza dough (instead of using a floured surface, subsitute with the cornmeal).  Try gently using your fists and forearms to stretch the dough - it's fun!  If you make a tear in the dough, you can repare it by wetting your fingers and gently closing the dough together.  Otherwise, use a rolling pin to spread dough on an oiled pan or a pizza stone.

Using the back of a large spoon or a spatula, spread the marinara sauce on the face of the pizza.  Sprinkle  cheese, followed by turkey, stuffing, onions, and rosemary.  Drizzle olive oil on top, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bake according to directions on package.  Remove from oven, cut into indivual sliced and serve immediately.

As an option, I like my pizza topped with a little fresh spinach and fresh pepper flakes.

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

I found this recipe last year on Daily Candy, and have been waiting for a year to have leftover pumpkin pie, in order to make this ridiculous Holiday breakfast.  The consistancy of these pancakes are slighlty fluffier and more doughy than standard (think sweet potato pancakes).  They had an amazing pumpkin spice flavor and the cranberry maple syrup adds an intense sugar rush quality.  Realllly good.  I'd reccommend with Chai Latte, or Vanilla Latte and a small side of sausage.  P.S. If you are cooking for only 1 or 2, I'd suggest cutting the recipe in half.

(makes 12)
For the Pancakes:
3 slices prebaked 8-inch pumpkin pie (cut into 8 even slices)
2 eggs
1/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp milk
1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp brown sugar (I used golden brown sugar, since the recipe didn't specify)
1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered ginger

For the Syrup:
3/4 cup cranberry sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup

Roughly chop pumpkin pie, crust and all, into half-inch pieces.

Put chopped pie and eggs into blender and blend until smooth.

Add milk and dry ingredients and blend until smooth (a little clumpy is okay).

Pour batter into buttered pan and cook as you would normal pancakes.  When they are a dark caramel color, flip delicately.

Blend cranberry and maple syrup.

Top pancakes with cranberry maple syrup.  And, to quote the recipe as written on Daily Candy, "moan in ecstasy" (you will).  Repeat tomorrow morning.

This recipe is compliments of Ben Roche, the pastry chef from Moto Restaraunt in Chicago: http://www.motorestaurant.com/

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Individual Marbled Brownies

My mom surprised me by getting me a Nordicware Bundt Brownie pan.  This recipe was on the back. Mike loves them, because in his words, "they aren't too sweet..." but the creamcheese base gives a nice addition to a traditional brownie.

1/2 cup butter
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup flour

Cream Cheese Mixture:
1 pkg (8oz.) cream cheese, softened

1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg

Grease and flour pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degress F.  In a medium saucepan (I prefer using a make-shift double-boiler) melt butter and chocolate over low heat.  Pour mixture into a medium bowl.  Add sugar, egg and vanilla, and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.  Stir in flour.  Fill each cavity 1/4 full with batter; set pan and remaining brownie batter aside.

With an electric misxr, beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.  Gradually beat in sugar and vanilla.  Add egg and beat jut until blended.  Spoon 1 Tbsp of cream cheese mixture into each cavity.  Bake 20 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 5 minutes.  Invert brownies onto wire rack and cool completely.  Rinse pan and repeat process.  Makes 24 Bundt brownies.

Eggplant Timbale

This one is really fun!!  Perfect for the holidays, like a little, Italian present.  I would highly recommend purchasing a grill pan.  We don't have one (or a BBQ), so I substituted my Forman Grill and it took over an hour to get all the eggplant ready.  Still worth the time.

The second thing I found tough was finding smoked mozarella.  I used an applewood version, from Albertsons, and the "applewood" flavor was pretty intense.  For future versions, I will substitute with the traditional shredded variation, or a different cheese altogether.

Make, wrap, bake, manja!

Giada's Eggplant Timbale
2 medium eggplants, sliced lengthwise 1/4" thick
1/3 cup, plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound penne pasta
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound Italian pork sausage
1/4 cup Marsala wine*
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 cups marinara sauce, jarred or homemade 
1 1/2 cups diced smokd mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup fresh basil leaves

*Note: Not only great for cooking, Marsala wine is a sweet wine that makes a delicious apertif.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill (or as an act of desperation, plug in your Forman Grill).  Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the eggplant slices with 1/3 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill the eggplant on both sides until tender and colored with grill marks, about 4 minutes per side.  Set aside.

While the eggplant cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until tender, but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes (mine took 15).  Drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes.  Add the ground beef and sausage to the pan and brown the meat, breaking it into bite-size pieces with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.  Pour off any excess fat.  Add the Marsala and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes.  Turn off the heat.  Add the peas and marinara sauce and stir to combine. Add the mozzarella, 3/4 cup of the Pecorino, the basil, and the cooked pasta.  Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9-inch springform pan with the grilled eggplant, making sure that the slices overlap and hang over the edge of the pan; reserve a few slices.  Fill the pan with the pasta mixture, pressing down to make sure the filling is evenly distributed.  Fold the eggplant slices up over the top of the pasta and top with the reserved slices to enclose the timbale completely.  Bake the timbale until the filling is warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 30 minutes.  Let the timbale cool for 10 minutes.

Invert the timbale onto a serving plate and remove the pan (do this step CAREFULLY.) Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup grated Pecorino, slice, and serve.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lemon Bars

I've had one HELL of a week.  It seems that trying to run and bake and blog and work and spend time with my husband and friends....well, it doesn't leave any time to relax or sleep.  You may have noticed a slow down in my posting.  I am still cooking and still enjoying trying new recipes, but during this busy Fall season I've made a concerted effort to continue cooking "with love".  These recipes and this blog are my hobby and when it begins to feel like work, I'm pulling on the breaks.

Tonight, I felt a huge surge to bake something very special for Mike, my husband.  He just booked a small part on the TV show "The Defenders".  He's been so sick this week, and we've both been up every night due to his bad cough that it's not been an easy week.  Today he films, and I came home wanting to make a treat especially for him.  My husband LOVES citrus and most especially, lemon bars.  I found this recipe on, my now-favorite website, Epicurious.com.  It's easy.  Takes 45 minutes and the whole house smells like sugar and lemon.

(For the Hot Shortbread Base)
 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

(For the Lemon Bars)
 4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

(For the Hot Shortbread Base)
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces.  In a food processor process all ingredients until mixture begins to form small lumps.  Sprinkle mixture into a 13x9x2-inch baking pan (I buttered mine, to be safe) and with a metal spatula press evenly onto bottom.  Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden, about 20 minutes.  While shortbread is baking, prepare topping.

(For the Lemon Bars)
While the shortbread is baking, in a bowl whisk together eggs and granulated sugar until combined well. Stir in lemon juice and flour.  Pour lemon mixture over hot shortbread.  Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F. and bake confection in middle of oven until set, about 30 minutes.  Cool completely in pan and cut into 24 bars.  Bar cookies keep, covered and chilled, 3 days.  Sift confectioner's sugar over bars before serving.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lemon Risotto

Lemon Risotto (shown here with Pan Seared Sea Scallops in Lemon Butter)

When you hear the words "Lemon Risotto" it may not sound like much, but I assure you, either as a side dish or a main entree this is a super rich and zingy risotto that will, dare-I-say-it, rock your world.

I've posted risotto recipes in the past, but never really touched on how there is a right way to make risotto and about a million wrong ways.  You have to cook risotto slowly, season as you cook, taste it, watch it.  This isn't something you can leave sitting on the stove.  Risotto takes love and attention.

Most people will dump the Arborio rice, seasonings and water or broth in a sauce pan and then leave it covered to cook.  This is a sure fire way to get a soupy, undercooked dish.    Read the instructions for the recipe below and be sure to follow each step in turn - browning the risotto, then adding 1/2 cup of hot broth at a time and allowing it to be absorbed.  Salt your risotto in layers, as you add the broth.  This will give you more levels to the flavor.  Relax.  This is your time to have fun in the kitchen (and to get a few sneak tastes in before you serve)!

Giada's Recipe for Lemon Risotto
Note: For a pretty side dish, serve in a hollowed-out lemon cup (see below for instructions - I skipped this part, after serving my last risotto dish in hollowed-out pumpkins)

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large shallots, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
Zest of 1/2 lemon
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth and 1/4 cup of lemon juice to a simmer.  Cover the broth and keep hot over low heat.

In a medium, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium  heat.  Add the shallots and saute until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes.  Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter.  Add the wine and remaining 1/4 cup of lemon juice and simmer until it has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.  Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of brth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm ot the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat.  Stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and the mascarpone cheese, lemon zest, and the salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, garnish with the parsley and serve.

Note: To serve the risotto in a lemon cup, cut 1/4" off the bottom of 6 lemons, so they stand uprght.  Slice 1" off hte stem end.  Using a grapefruit spoon, scoop out the flesh of the lemon and discard.  Fill each lemon with about 1/2 cup of risott.  Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan and serve.

Thomas Keller's Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am obsessed with this book:

We recently had Mike's friend Brian over for dinner and he enjoyed himself so thoroughly that he decided to gift us with his favorite cookbook: Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at home.  If you are unfamiliar with Keller, he is the genius behind French Laundry.  I also had the pleasure of visiting his Bouchon restaraunt in Beverly Hills last weekend.  I highly recommend the steak frite!!

The book, although claiming to be "the basics" is a bit daunting.  It's the true French from of cooking, where you infuse the olive oil in garlic, that you then cook your croutons in that are then one ingredient in a myriad of other ingredients...

Long-story-short, I started with the easiest recipe I could find, AND a personal favorite - Chocolate chip cookies.  I was surprised that Keller omits the vanilla extract, but all told I'd say these are in my top 5 favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes.  It beats Toll House's version (but not my Martha Stewart Recipe for Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk cookies...)

2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 ounces 55% chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces (about 1 1/4 cups)
5 ounces 72% chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup packed dark brown sugar, preferably molasses sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

Position the oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

Sift the flour and baking soda into a medium bowl.  Stir in the salt.

Put the chips in a fine-mesh basket strainer and shake to remove andy chocolate "dust" (small fragments).

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat half the butter on medium speed until fairly smooth.  Add both sugars and the remaining butter, and beat until well combined, then beat for a few minutes, until the mixture is light and creamy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping the bowl as neccessary.  Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed to combine.  Mix in the chocolate.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the dough with a spatula to be sure that the chocolate is evenly incorporated.  The dough or shaped cookies can be refrigerated, well wrapped, for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 weeks.  Freeze shaped cookies on the baking sheets until firm, then transfer to freezer containers.  (Defrost frozen cookies overnight in the refrigerator before baking.)

Using 2 level tablespoons per cookie, shape the dough into balls.  Arrange 8 cookies on each pan, leaving about 2 inches between them, because the dough will spread.  Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops are no longer shiny, switching the position and rotating the pans halfway through baking.

Cool the cookies on the pans on cooling racks for about 2 minutes to firm up a bit, then transfer to racks to cool completely.  Repeat to bake the remaining cookies.  (The cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 days).

Makes about thirty 3-inch cookies