Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fettuccine Portabella

When I was growing up we almost never went out to eat, but on the special occasions that we did it was usually to a cafe nearby that looked like a diner inside and had a large dairy menu. We kids almost always chose the pancakes which came served to us in large fluffy stacks we could hardly see over and could never finish but which were insanely light and delicious. My parents would naturally choose something more adult-y and I vividly remember that my mother would order the same pasta dish each time- fettuccine with portabella mushrooms and peas. It was a simple dish cooked in a light garlic sauce and when I was old enough to want to taste it I immediately realized how good it was. Now, every time I see portabella's in the market I think of this dish and as I had Gourmet Lunch Wednesday to cook for I decided to try to recreate it and this is what I came up with.

1 1b. Fettuccine
6 cloves garlic, minced
50 grams butter (about 3 Tbls)
3 Tbl olive oil
3 Tbl dry white wine
8 large Portabella mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, optional
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the Fettuccine in a lot of well salted water. Drain and set aside. In a large saute pan melt the butter with the olive oil and saute the garlic in it for a couple of minutes making sure not to burn the garlic. Add the mushrooms and white wine, season with salt and pepper and let it cook another 2-3 minutes. Add the Fettuccine straight into the saute pan and put the frozen peas on top and mix all together over low heat for another minute. Re-season with salt and pepper. Top with Parmesan cheese.

a trip down memory lane:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake BREAD PUDDING

Part of the fun of cooking for me is taking ordinary things and pudding (corny typo intended) a new twist on them. Here in Israel we are coming to the end of strawberry season and that means it's the 'eat every strawberry in sight season' for me because I know I won't have them again for a whole year. So it's at this point in the year that I made my way to the shuk and mesmerized by the glistening red berries (and scared of the man yelling at me from behind them) I bought kilo's of them all the while forgetting they have the shelf life of, well, a berry. Tubs of sorbet, fruit salad, and ice cream already made, I came up with this. Strawberry shortcake has to be one of the best desserts ever created- simple, yet divine. Buttery shortcake, ripe strawberries, whipped cream- holy yum!
Bread pudding is also quite yummy but doesn't get enough attention out in the world. It is basically bread baked in a custard that you can add practically anything to, sweet or savory and it comes out delicious. In a stroke of genius (and in an attempt to rid my freezer of leavened bread products) I decided to use leftover butter croissants that my husband brought me from !Costco! and all I can say is YIPEEEEEEEEEE. Be warned however, if you haven't already caught on, that this is not a dish for the calorie conscious.

8 butter croissants, cut into cubes
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup milk
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 Tbl vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 pints strawberries
1/4 cup good strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8 inch square pan with cooking spray. Whisk together the cream, milk, eggs, yolks, sugar, vanilla and salt. Line the bottom of the pan with one layer of cubes. Spread with the jam and sprinkle half of the strawberries on top. Top with another layer of cubes. Pour the custard mixture over and press down to make sure all the cubes are coated. Top with the rest of the strawberries and bake for about 40 minutes or until the pudding is set and no longer liquidy. Let the pudding cool for 20-30 minutes before serving so it doesn't fall apart.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stuffed Cabbage SOUP

This soup has been dubbed by a taster as "miracle soup" as she wondered  how it could be that it tasted exactly like stuffed cabbage-but in a soup! This is one of my favorite soups in the world and although I don't make it that often it always finds its way to my table at some point over Sukkot. I recently had guests for Shabbat that requested it and I was only happy to oblige. The soup has all the elements of stuffed cabbage- onions, cabbage and little mini meatballs studded with rice that are just adorably delicious. It is hearty and filling and takes care of your stuffed cabbage cravings (am I the only one who has them?) without having to spend lots of time we all don't have making the rolls. Why else is this soup amazing? You can make it in advance and it tastes even better than if you make it fresh- that for me makes this soup a keeper!

1 piece of flanken (Asado in Israel)- you can also use stew meat but flanken gives the best flavor
2 cans tomato paste (22x in Israel, in America use a few cans of tomato sauce and less water)
2 liters of water (or enough to fill an 8 quart pot)
1 small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

For the meatballs:
1/2 kilo chopped meat (1 pound)
1/3 cup raw white rice
2 eggs
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3 Tbl ketchup
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Fill your pot with water and flanken and bring to a boil. Cook for half an hour while skimming off the foam. Add the cans of tomato paste, brown sugar and lemon juice and mix well. Add the onion and cabbage and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 2 hours. About45 minutes before the soup is ready mix together the ingredients for the meatballs and roll into small balls. Place gently in the soup and let cook for about 30-40 minutes. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mozzarella Crusted Stuffed Sole

It's time to make a confession. I am hopelessly and gloriously obsessed with spinach. I feel the need to unburden this because I have gotten a lot of comments about how often spinach appears in my posts (and for that matter, ricotta.) I tried to deny it,  cover it up with other ingredients but alas I have decided to come clean so that I can cook with spinach without guilt. Ah, it feels good to be set free. So here is another recipe that unabashedly features my favorite green leaf where a few simple ingredients come together to make a masterpiece. I had a craving for fish but didn't want just boring old broiled fish and after combing through my refrigerator I came up with this. I presented this for dinner accompanied by roasted garlic mashed potatoes and we felt like we were eating at a fancy restaurant- but it only took half an hour to make!

1/2 a bag of frozen leaf spinach, drained and chopped
1 pkg button mushrooms, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, diced
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup bread crumbs
8 Tbl Mozzarella cheese, divided
2 fillets of Sole, Flounder, or thin Halibut
salt, pepper, garlic powder, Mrs. Dash seasoning, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350. Saute the mushrooms and garlic in a little oil and season with salt and pepper. When they are almost finished cooking add the spinach and cook, making sure to re-season. Add the egg yolk, bread crumbs and 4 tablespoons of Mozzarella into the mushroom mixture. Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper and place half of the mixture on the widest part of the fish. Roll up, secure with toothpicks and lay the rolls seam side down on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with some Mrs. Dash and bake at 350 for about 12  minutes. Sprinkle the top with the remaining Mozzarella and broil for another 3-5 minutes.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Chocolate covered pretzels are one of my favorite snacks although they are not so easy to come by. You can get them from gourmet purveyors or at fancy candy stores and occasionally in America you can find them in a supermarket but here in Israel they are pretty hard to find and when I have found them they have been outrageously expensive. This year I decided to make my own for my Mishloach Manot and I really love how they turned out. I went a little crazy with some of them, piling on toppings and drizzles, but the more the better with these. They are easy to make, easy on the eyes, and unfortunately for me, easy to eat. Enjoy!

3 bars (100 grams each) Dark chocolate
3 bars Milk Chocolate
1 bar White Chocolate
2 bags Pretzel rods
1 cup Peanut butter chips, melted
Toppings: shredded Coconut, sprinkles, toffee bits, mini chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips (the sky's the limit!)
Parchment paper

Melt the dark and milk chocolates in tall narrow containers in the microwave making sure not to burn them. Prepare your toppings and lay them out on plates. Dip each rod in chocolate (wipe off excess chocolate on the side of the container to help the toppings stick and to avoid globs of chocolate falling) sprinkle with toppings and quickly lay them on a parchment paper to dry. While they are on the parchment drizzle them with melted white chocolate or melted peanut butter chips.

An assortment:

Photography courtesy of Pamoosh.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This is the simple but decadent side dish that I served with the stuffed Sole you will see next week. Who doesn't love mashed potatoes? They are the epitome of comfort food and they just yearn for some butter and cream to make them happy so of course I had to oblige. To these spuds I added lots of freshly roasted garlic to add great flavor and a little zing but you can jazz them up in so many ways by adding, for example, caramelized onions, melted leeks, herbs or cheddar cheese to name a few. Mashed potatoes are a blank canvas so discover the inner potato artist in you!

4 large Yukon Gold potatoes
1 head of garlic
4 Tbl butter
1 container sour cream (Israeli sized- I used 9%) the equivalent of about a cup
3 Tbl whole milk or cream
4 Tbl freshly chopped parsley
salt and course ground pepper to taste

For the roasted garlic: Cut off the top of the head of garlic and discard. Wrap the garlic in tinfoil and cook it in the oven at 350 for about an hour until soft. 
For the Potatoes: Boil the potatoes until soft. Drain well and put them in a bowl. Squeeze the roasted garlic out onto the potatoes and mash together with the butter, sour cream and milk. Season with salt and pepper and mix in the chopped parsley. Enjoy!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Four Cheese and Vegetable Lasagnioli

Lasagna is my favorite food hands down. I could eat it every day, in every way and never get bored. However, it is a little tedious and time consuming to make. Enter the Lasagnioli-  the grammatically incorrect, difficult to pronounce, totally made up but super easy to make Lasagna- using Ravioli! Ravioli is two layers of pasta with cheese in the middle so it's practically half of the Lasagna already made! The original idea for this concept I have to attribute to the annoyingly perky Rachel Ray who does come up with some great time saving ideas. I've made this a few times each time with different layers, sauces, and cheeses and each one is better than the next. What's my favorite version? With ricotta and spinach of course-but I am trying to lay off those two yummy ingredients for a little and give ya'll a break. For this version, a "Gourmet Lunch Wednesday" dish, I used four different cheeses each with its own great taste that came together in gooey harmony and some vegetables cooked in lots of garlic to give it some oomph and and beautiful color. I know Lasagna isn't traditionally baked in a round pan but hey, this is Lasagnioli and she makes her own rules so don't mess!

2 Packages cheese ravioli
3 cups Marinara Sauce
1 small eggplant, cubed
1 box mushrooms, sliced
1 medium zuchinni, cubed
4 Tbl olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup Mozzarella
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/4 cup Smoked Mozzarella (if you don't like the smokey taste then just substitute more Parmesan)
1/4 cup mild Cheddar
S, P, and garlic powder to taste

Cook the ravioli according to package instructions. In a small bowl mix the cheeses together and set aside.
In a pan, sautee the cubed zuchinni in olive oil for about 3 minutes. Add eggplant and minced garlic and saute a little longer. Add the mushrooms, season all with salt, pepper, and garlic powder until tender. Spread a little marinara sauce on the bottom of the pan you are using and lay half of the ravioli down. Top it with 11/2 cups of Marinara sauce and 1/2 of the cheese mixture. Add the cooked vegetables over the cheese and top with the next layer of ravioli. Cover with sauce and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 until the cheese is melted and browned.

A head shot of bubbling cheese:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Loaded Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

I was first introduced to these pancakes at my mother in law's house and I fell in love with them. They are a Rachel Ray original that I have adapted to make lower fat and I think yummier. Once you make these pancakes you won't go back to the boring originals. The concept is basically to incorporate everything you could and would put into an oatmeal cookie and the result is a deliciously moist, airy, flavorful and fiber-rich pancake. You can switch up the toppings if you want- leave out some and add in others but whatever you do, do not leave out the banana, the flavor they add makes the pancake. Of course, if you want to throw health out the door and be absolutely sinful, spread them with Nutella and let the tears of joy flow.

1 cup oats (regular or quick cooking)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
3/4 cup yogurt or low fat sour cream
3/4 cup milk
3 Tbl oil
2 eggs
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup shredded coconut, optional
chopped walnuts, optional
(other options: dried cherries, peanut butter chips, chopped dried fruit)

Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl. In a seperate bowl mix the ingredients. Fold in the bananas and add the toppings. DO NOT OVER MIX! Let the batter sit for about 10 minutes and then spoon ladle-fulls onto a griddle or small frying pans sprayed with cooking spray.

Move over IHOP, The Gush Gourmet is here!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dijon-Apricot Grilled Chicken

This is a simple chicken that I threw together one night when it was cold and rainy outside and all I had to rely on was some pantry staples. Of course, you know the drill already- when its Winter outside, we whip out the indoor grill for some warmth and memories of Summer. My husband LOVES grilled chicken, and would go for it any night of the week but this time I decided to change it up a bit and marinate it first. The result was tender flavorful chicken that was ever so slightly spicy from the mustard and just a little sweet. I will admit though that chicken on the bone is better on the outdoor grill then the indoor grill but it was good all the same. For those of you who have been complaining that I don't post enough recipes with chicken breast, this simple marinade would be equally good on chicken breasts, maybe even better. Enjoy!

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Apricot jam
2 Tbl soy sauce
3 cloves garlic minced
4 chicken bottoms or 4 chicken breasts

An attempt to be artistic with the lighting that was an utter failure:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fudgy Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Frosting

My friend recently had a boy and I wanted to contribute to her Shalom Zachor. While I can bake and sometimes even enjoy it, I prefer to save my creative energies for cooking and leave the baking to my sister. So thus it was decided- something simple. My mother used to make a chocolate cake that was unbelievably moist, so simple, and only used one bowl (read: the ideal recipe.) The only problem with it is that it is so moist and fudgy that it is impossible to frost and cupcakes in my opinion are just naked without frosting. So after a little experimentation and some internet searches I adapted the recipe to make it more solid, thus frost-able while still maintaining its delicious flavor. When the time came for frosting I was just stuck. How do you choose from so many amazing combinations?? The possibilities are endless- peanut butter, vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, coconut-the list goes on and on! I finally settled on peppermint because who doesn't love a York patty and topped them with shredded coconut because it just makes everything looks so pretty.

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup soy milk
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup hot brewed coffee
2 eggs

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the eggs, oil, vanilla and soy milk. Mix together and then add the hot coffee. Mix again. Pour into muffin tins and bake for about 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Frost with your favorite frosting.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mexican Cavatappi and Chicken Salad

Though it breaks my heart, it's time to move away from Asian and Italian food for a little, so onto a new cuisine- Mexican. I made chicken soup for 100 people as part of an event I recently did and was left with lots of boiled chicken. So I shredded it and came up with this. It's another one of those all in one bowl meals and it is super hearty and filling. Mexican cuisine uses a lot of cilantro, another one of those ingredients I'm trying to get myself to like but am having a hard time getting used to the taste of shampoo, so I used parsley in the dressing instead. Cavatappi pasta is shaped like loose curls and I really love the look of them but any short pasta can be used instead. You can also make this a little more healthful by leaving out the pasta and putting all the ingredients over lettuce and using the same dressing.

1 pound cavatappi pasta
1 green pepper sliced
1 can corn
1 can sliced black olives
1 red onion, diced
1 can black beans
cherry tomatoes
1 avocado, diced
3 cups shredded chicken

11/4cups mayo (you can use the light variety)
1 packet taco seasoning mix ( I used Ortega brand)
1 Tbl lime juice
1/2 tsp cumin
2 cloves garlic minced
big handful chopped parsley or cilantro
salt and pepper

I apologize in advance on behalf of this picture, it was a lot prettier in person. I have since disciplined the tomatoes for ruining the picture. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Baby Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I was trying to get away from recipes with spinach because I've noticed that I'm quite obsessed with it, but when I went to make this salad I couldn't help myself- spinach is just the best leaf of choice. This was dinner one night recently after a very busy day of work and it just hit the spot. Candied pecans are one of my favorite accessories in salad- they are crunchy, sweet and nutty and will cost you a pretty penny but they are well worth it. As for goat cheese, I have a love/hate relationship with it. It's just one of those ingredients I feel you need to acquire a taste for, and for me it takes a long time to acquire a taste for something that often tastes like you are licking a dirty goat (sorry for the visual)-but it's an ingredient I really want to like so I keep trying it over and over again. I did find one brand though that tastes less goat-y and that is the Gad brand and that is what I used here.

6 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup craisins
1/4 cup candied pecans
1 small red onion, sliced
1  sweet potato, cubed and roasted
Goat cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
2/3 cup oil
2 packets Splenda (I would usually use sugar but this just worked really well)
2 Tbl maple syrup
1/8 tsp mustard powder
salt and pepper

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today my friends, we have a special treat- a GUEST BLOGGER! Jamie is not only a good friend of mine but also a fellow foodie and budding master chef. We run ideas by each other constantly and I'm always impressed by her culinary creativity! So without further ado, here she is:

HELLO Blog universe!

America’ s Favorite Cookie- THE OREO. Loved by people young and old, a timeless classic, the perfect balance between cookie and filling, or is it? We all know the reason all Americans (and Israeli’ s alike) believe that they LOVE Oreos, is because when dipped into milk, in a mere few seconds they turn into soggy goodness. While this recipe is definitely not my most gourmet recipe, it is an adaptation that solves a universal dilemma of ‘ How to eat perfect soggy PAREVE Oreos?’ Soy milk definitely does not do the trick, and pareve ice cream is just never as tasty.
The secret to this recipe is that the Oreo is kept moist and delicious, nestled inside an envelope of chocolate chip cookie dough.

I adapted this recipe from another cooking blog. I replaced the 2 sticks of butter with 8 tablespoons of Smart Balance, which is a butter substitute that I used as a healthier option instead of margarine. I also halved the amount of chocolate chips since the chips make it more difficult to spread the dough evenly to enclose the cookie.

24 Pareve Sandwich Cookies ( I used Trios)
10 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips- I recommend using only 1/2
8 Tbs. Smart Balance/or Margarine
3/4 Cups Brown Sugar
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tbs. Vanilla
3 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the wet ingredients with an electric mixer. Then slowly add the dry ingredients and chocolate chips.

Use a scooper to make even amounts of cookie dough. Place one scoop on top of the Oreo and press down. Then put a second scoop on the bottom of the cookie. Press the cookie dough together to fully cover the entire cookie.

When putting the Oreo inside make sure you keep your hands moist to help spread the dough and ensure the Oreo is fully enclosed.

Bake for 10-13 minutes at 350.