Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pesto Cheese Blossom

We were invited to a Labor Day cookout at my parent's house. My Mom always has a huge spread of really delicious food. Her wonderful home cooking clearly had an influence on my love of cooking. My mom already had side dishes and desserts filled with her amazing potato salad, a sweet potato salad, corn and a delicious homemade banana pudding. Based on the well planned menu, I decided to bring an appetizer. This Paula Deen recipe has also been in my file for some time. I'll admit I always had some reservations about making it, worrying it wouldn't unmold properly or would take a lot of time to make. Turns out any such thoughts were completely unfounded. This was so simple to make and had a perfect presentation. This was a major hit at the cookout. I meant to get a picture of the whole thing before it was cut but I got busy and by the time I turned around almost half of it was gone! I know I will be making this one again and again. As for the potato salad recipe, I would love to share, but its our family recipe. I'm working on getting the banana pudding recipe and I'm sure I'll be featuring it in my blog soon!

Pesto Cheese Blossom
Source: Paula Deen/

1 (8-ounce) package sliced provolone cheese
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
20 pistachios, shelled
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 ounces oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

Line a medium bowl with plastic wrap, leaving enough overhang to cover the top. Reserving 3 slices of the provolone, line the bottom and sides of the bowl with the remaining provolone, overlapping the slices. For the cream cheese layer, process the cream cheese, pistachios, and 1 of the garlic cloves in a food processor until blended; scrape the mixture into a bowl and set aside. For the pesto layer, process the basil, parsley, pine nuts, and the remaining garlic clove in the food processor until blended. Dissolve the salt and pepper in the olive oil and mix well.

With the machine running, add the oil in a fine stream. Scrape this mixture into a second bowl and set aside. For the tomato layer, drain the tomatoes, reserving the oil. Puree the tomatoes with a small amount of the reserved oil in a food processor. Spread some of the cream cheese mixture over the cheese slices lining the bowl. Layer the pesto mixture, half of the remaining cream cheese mixture, the sun-dried tomato mixture, and then remaining cream cheese mixture in the bowl. Cover with the remaining provolone. Bring the edges of the plastic wrap together over the top and secure with a twist tie. Freeze until firm. Remove the plastic wrap and invert the mold onto a serving platter. Serve with party crackers.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Maple Glazed Salmon

I'm making good on my commitment to try to make more recipes from all of the cooking magazines I subscribe to. Last night I made this Maple Grilled Salmon from the July 2008 issue of Cooking Light and served it with Steamed Carrots with Garlic and Ginger Butter from the same issue. This meal turned out great. The rice wine vinegar gave the salmon a lot of flavor. Using the leftover marinade as suggested in the recipe provided a nice glaze for the fish. The maple flavor was not as prominent as I expected but certainly added a sweetness. In addition to the baby carrots, I served this with a delicious whole grain bread, Organic Girl's berries and balsamic mixed greens kit and for dessert PJ Madison's organic julep mint chip gelato.

Maple Grilled Salmon
Source: Cooking Light, July 2008
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
4 (6 0z) salmon fillets, skinned
Cooking spray
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; add fish. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 3 hours.

2. Remove fish from bag, reserving marinade. Pour marinade into a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 2 tablespoons (about 5 minutes).

3. Place fish on grill rack or pan coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness, basting occasionally with marinade. Remove fish from grill; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Steamed Carrots with Garlic Ginger Butter

I admit the "foodie" in me got very excited when a new Market Street grocery store opened near my house. I contained my excitement for all of one day and made it to the store the second day it was open! Needless to say this store is beautiful and will serve all of my shopping needs. No more need to drive to several stores to get everything we are looking for. I was very impressed with their selection of organics as well as their specialty items. So armed with grocery list in hand I set out to find baby carrots with tops on as specified in the recipe. I saw the cute little orange carrots but then next to them where these gorgeous little red baby carrots. I couldn't resist! This recipe was really easy to prepare and had great flavor. I found a new product that I used for this recipe, Gourmet Garden's Ginger. It worked really great in this recipe. I like that I can have ginger at the ready and I don't end up wasting a piece of ginger when I only need a little for a recipe.

Steamed Carrots with Garlic-Ginger Butter

Source: Cooking Light July 2008

Be sure to use true baby carrots with tops. So-called baby carrots sold in bags are often whittled-down mature vegetables; their texture will be too tough for this recipe.

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound baby carrots with tops, peeled
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Prepare garlic; let stand 10 minutes.

2. Steam carrots, covered, 10 minutes or until tender.

3. Heat butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in carrots, cilantro, and remaining ingredients.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New Header

Thank you so much to Missy at Missy Desiree Photography for creating this new updated header for me! I will be the first to admit I am not the most computer savy when it comes to working with this blog. I am slowly learning though! I love the changes Missy made to the header. It is much improved!

Barefoot Bloggers-Butterflied Chicken

This Barefoot Bloggers pick for Butterflied Chicken is a great summer recipe. I served it with Ina's Panzanella and it was a nice light meal. The chicken was moist and succulent. The flavors of the herbs and lemon were infused throughout. This would be a great recipe for cooking chicken for chicken salad or just to add to a green salad. An easy, simple and classic recipe from Ina. Thanks to Stefany of Proceed with Caution for a perfect recipe for August. I did not butterfly the chicken per the recipe instructions. Rather, I purchased chicken breasts and used them instead. I accidentally grabbed the boneless, skinless and they worked fine.

Butterflied Chicken
Source: Ina Garten/

1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus 2 sprigs
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 roasting chickens (2 1/2 to 3 pounds each), deboned and butterflied
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

Mix the chopped rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in a small bowl to make a paste.

Place the chickens on a sheet pan, skin side up, and loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers. Place 1/2 of the paste under the skin of each chicken. Rub any remaining paste on the outside and underside of the chickens.

Turn the chicken skin side down and scatter the lemon slices and sprigs of rosemary over each chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Roll each chicken up, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat a grill with coals. Spread the coals out in 1 dense layer and brush the grill with oil. Unroll the chickens, place them on the grill and cook for 12 minutes on each side.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Slow Cooker Sausage and Black Bean Soup

I'm trying to get back in the swing of using my slow cooker a little more. I tend to forget about it during the summer months. This recipe makes a really nice filling and nutritious meal and is easy to put together. I served this with my favorite cornbread which I made into muffins this time and omitted the jalapenos and green onions. They were still delicious. I made a couple of changes to this recipe. First, I purchased some mild Italian pork sausage links and cut them out of the casing instead of using the bulk pork sausage. I like doing this so I can purchase sausage from my local grocer that is antibiotic, nitrate and msg free among other things. I also substituted corn for the hominy since I'm not a fan of hominy. The other great thing about this recipe, is you can freeze the leftovers and have soup waiting for you on a busy day! I doesn't photograph very well, so I gave up! Sorry.

Sausage and Black Bean Soup

Source: Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Slow cooker Recipes
12 0z bulk pork sausage
2 14 oz cans reduced sodium chicken broth
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14 1/2 oz can golden hominy, rinsed and drained (I substituted corn)
1 14 1/2 oz can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes, cut up
1 cup frozen loose-pack diced hash brown potatoes ( I used Cascadian Farms Organic)
1 small green sweet pepper, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 small onion chopped (1/3 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/2 tsp chili powder

1. In a large saucepan brown the sausage, breaking sausage into small pieces; drain off fat. Place in a 3 1/2 to 6 quart slow cooker.

2. Stir in the chicken broth, black beans, hominy, undrained tomatoes, hash browns, sweet pepper, onion, garlic, oregano and chili powder. Cover, cook on low-heat setting for 4-5 hours or on high heat setting for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Penne with Turkey Meatballs

This is another recipe I have had on my list to try for a long time. I always seemed to bypass it in favor of other recipes that seem more exciting. I'm so glad I finally took the time to make this yesterday. I make some pretty delicious meatballs but these are some serious competition. I'm thinking the addition of the pancetta is what took them over the top. Mine got a little crunchier than intended. I left them in the oven while I prepped the sauce and subsequently preheated the oven for my semolina bread forgetting the meatballs were still in the oven. I like mine crunchy so it was not a problem. The sauce on this dish was really good. Next time, I would probably double the sauce because I like mine saucier (if thats a word!). A perfect dish for a Sunday dinner! Note, the recipe in the Everyday Pasta cookbook that I refer to below differs significantly from the online version.

Penne with Turkey Meatballs
Source: Everyday Pasta by Giada de Laurentis

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (I omitted)
2 eggs lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 lb linguine (I used penne)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 28 oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained and cut into pieces with kitchen scissors
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil (I added some dried basil)

To make the meatballs, preheat the oven to 450.

Heat the olive oil in a medium, heavy skillet over medium heat. add the pancetta and cook for 2 minutes. Add the onion and continue to cook until the pancetta is crisp and the onion is tender, about6 4 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a large bowl combine the pancetta-and onion mix with the remaining meatball ingredients and stir to combine. Form the turkey mixture into balls about 2 inches in diameter, using about 2 tablespoons for each and place on a foil lined and greased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.

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 8-10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

Meanwhile in a medium saucepan, warm the 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, garlic cloves, parsley, salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Discard the garlic cloves. Add the cooked meatballs and the cooked pasta and toss to coat. Add the reserved pasta water, about 1/4 cup at a time, if the pasta needs moistening. Arrange on a serving platter and top with the basil.

Applesauce Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

I realized I had a massive stack of cooking magazines piling up around the house. I went through all of them this past week and made a list of all the recipes I want to try. I probably won't make half but at least it made me feel productive and organized! This recipe was from the December 2007 issue of Food and Wine Magazine. This cake smells absolutely wonderful while baking. I happened to have exactly 2 cups of homemade applesauce in my freezer. My Mother-in-Law made it a while back from apples hand picked from her orchard. I was saving the applesauce for the prefect baking occasion. The hint of black pepper in this recipe gives the cake a nice spiciness. Not hot but more like the spice in a good gingerbread. If you don't have cardamom, look for it in the bulk spices of your local grocery. You can buy just the small amount needed for the recipe without spending $15.00 for a whole jar. It also helps to ensure your spices are fresher by purchasing smaller quantities. I remember buying my first jar of cardamom at full price when I was making truffles for a law school get together. It seemed pricey at the time but the Martha Stewart in me wanted to make perfect truffles just as featured in Martha Stewart's magazine at the time. We will overlook the fact that I could have bought a box of gourmet hand made truffles for what I spent to make those, but they were delicious and fun to make. Its funny, I think if I hadn't gone to law school, I wouldn't have learned about my love of cooking. I spent many hours studying while watching Martha Stewart.

Applesauce Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

Source: Food and Wine Dec. 2007
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • One 12-ounce bag semisweet-chocolate chips
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • Crème fraîche, for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, cloves and pepper. Whisk in the applesauce, eggs, oil and melted butter. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  2. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached.
  3. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then invert it onto the rack and let cool completely, about 20 minutes. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the cake, slice and serve with crème fraîche.

MAKE AHEAD The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Restaurant Week is in full swing in Dallas this month. Its a fun opportunity to try a new restaurant and support a great charity. This year I had the opportunity to go with a friend to Bijoux. Bijoux is one of only five restaurants in Dallas that has a five star listing. I have been to two of the other five-star restaurants (Abacus and The Mansion on Turtle Creek). This was my first time to try a five-star restaurant during restaurant week. After having dinner at Bijoux tonight, I can honestly say the rating was well deserved. Some restaurants tend to skimp or not perform their best during restaurant week but that was not the case with Bijoux. Food and service were top notch. The staff was attentive and knowledgeable. I'm looking forward to a date night with my husband soon to try their tasting menu.

On to the fabulous menu for this evening. Bijoux had an excellent selection of choices, below is a review of the dishes I tried:

Amuse Bouche:
Watermelon, Cucumber, Texas Goat Cheese with Micro-greens (very refreshing and a great combination)

Also offered throughout the courses were three wonderful house made breads.

First Course:
White Corn and Coconut soup with fromage blanc (smooth and velvety with a great depth of flavor, the fromage blanc added just a little bit of heat from the seasonings mixed with it)

Second Course:
Smoked Prawns with an heirloom tomato and onion salad and a sprinkling of chorizo. (This could have been a meal all on its own. The four luscious prawns had a wonderful smokey flavor and were delicate and tender. This was summer on a plate)

Palate Cleanser of Green Apple Sorbet (tart but refreshing)

Third Course:
New York Strip with root vegetable puree and baby carrots and onions (Normally, I'm not that excited about ordering steak out. I'm really pleased with the quality of steak we make at home. Somehow tonight I was in the mood for steak. This was top quality. They did not bat an eyelash when I ordered my steak medium well and it was cooked perfectly per my request. The accompanying sauce was a nice compliment to the steak but not over powering.

Fourth Course
Valrhona chocolate mousse with strawberry ice cream (Words are not adequate to describe how delicious this was. A chocolate lover's dream!)

A really nice touch, Bijoux offers a plate of mignardises (an assortment of sweets to close the meal) including a tiramisu macaroon, a strawberry gelee, a chocolate truffle and two other small cookies. All were absolutely delicious. My favorite was the tiramisu macaroon.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Penne with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

It was my turn to host our weekly play date this week. I don't know why, but for some reason lunch menus really stump me. I can come up with dinner menus all day long. I think its also a little bit of a challenge because it needs to be something that feeds a crowd, can be served buffet style and eaten while chasing a toddler if need be! It also has to be easy to prepare ahead. I was searching on the food network site and came across Giada's recipe for Pasta with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto. The recipe had great reviews and it met all my requirements. It even had an additional bonus of being very easy to make and only requiring a few ingredients. Can't ask for more than that. I made this recipe in 10 minutes and it was a hit. Even the toddlers liked it! They must be future gourmets in the making! If you wanted to make this more substantial you could easily add chicken sausage. The pesto flavor was mild and not overpowering. It coated the pasta very well. This will be a staple in our house from now on. I served this with a mixed green salad with sliced carrots, pine nuts, tomato and zucchini, fresh fruit and Paula Deen's Blueberry Cream Cheese Tarts. Definitely a successful lunch!

Penne with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
Source: Giada de Laurentis/

12 ounces penne pasta
1 (8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
2 garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, and basil in a food processor and blend until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the Parmesan.

Add the pasta to the pesto and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper and serve.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Tarts

This is another one of those recipes I have had in my file quite some time. I thought they would be a perfect compliment to my lunch menu and a bonus, easy to make. The name is a little deceiving, these are mini cheesecakes. I was really surprised a what a perfect crust the vanilla wafer made on the bottom. I can just imagine all the possibilities for other cookie crusts-chocolate wafer, ginger snap, crushed Oreos. These only took me about 10 minutes to make. I was also able to make them the night before and they held up perfectly. I wanted to use the blueberry pie filling as suggested but the store bought pie fillings have artificial colors in them which I try to avoid. Who would have thought? I looked in Whole Foods and didn't find any canned or jarred pie fillings. So, I decided to use a jar of St. Dalfour Wild Blueberry Fruit Spread that I have had in my pantry for a while. It worked perfectly. Its made of 100% fruit and had nice petite little blueberries nestled in the spread. This recipe is a keeper not only because it was delicious but because it is really versatile and can be made in a snap.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Tarts
Source: Paula Deen/

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
2 eggs
12 vanilla wafers (I found organic at Whole Foods)
1 (21-ounce) can blueberry filling, or other pie filling (I used a Natural Fruit Spread)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a paper cupcake liner in each cup of a muffin pan.

Beat cream cheese with a handheld electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Place a vanilla wafer, flat side down, in each muffin cup. Spoon cream cheese mixture over wafers. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow tarts to cool completely. Serve with blueberry filling on top, or pie filling of your choice.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers California Grilled Pizza

I was excited about Rebecca at Ezra Pound Cake's pick for this months Barefoot Blogger's bonus recipe. This is another recipe I have passed by so many times in my Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook. That book is one of my favorite go to cookbooks for entertaining. The online recipe differs from the one in the book in that it calls for grilling instead of oven baking. I was intrigued at the idea of grilling a pizza. Although, apparently the best rain dance you can do is to open your grill. It started pouring right as my husband was grilling these. He was a good sport though and completed the grilling just perfectly in spite of getting a bit wet! Overall, these came out really well. I made two pizzas, one with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella and the other with caramelized red onion, arugula, bell peppers and fontina cheese. I wasn't absolutely in love with the toppings but I am pretty traditional about what I like on my pizza. The dough recipe is the real stand out though. Unlike other more complicated recipes, this dough only has a 30 minute rise and a really great flavor from the olive oil. I know I will be using this dough recipe over and over again. I can't wait to try it with an old fashioned pepperoni pizza. To complete this meal, I served it with Ina's Caesar Salad and Outrageous Brownies. Next time, I would love to serve them with the Ice Cream Soda's recommended in Barefoot Contessa Parties. As Ina would say, "How great would that be?"

California Pizzas
Source: The Barefoot Contessa Parties/

For the dough:
1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110 degrees F) water
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons good olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons kosher salt

For the toppings (select 8):
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 pound fresh mozzarella, grated
1/2 pound Italian Fontina, grated
1/2 pound mild goat cheese, such as Montrachet, sliced
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and julienned
1/4 pound prosciutto, thinly sliced and julienned
1 bunch arugula, cleaned and dried
6 plum tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
4 pork or turkey sausages, cooked and sliced
1 bunch basil leaves, cleaned and dried
4 garlic cloves, roasted
Crushed red pepper flakes

For prep:
1/2 cup good olive oil

For the dough, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 3 cups flour, then the salt, and mix. While mixing, add 1 more cup of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough on low to medium speed for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it several times to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and roll each one into a smooth ball. Place the balls on a baking sheet and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature. Roll and stretch each ball into a rough 8-inch circle and place them all on baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. (You will be able to fit 2 pizzas on each 18 by 13-inch baking sheet.)

Light your grill and wait until it's hot.

Place the pizzas directly onto the grill and cook on 1 side for 1 minute. Turn the pizzas over and brush with olive oil or garlic oil.

Top the pizzas with any toppings you wish, piling them high. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Put the lid on your grill and cook for 5 minutes more, until the crust is crisp and the toppings are cooked.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Omnivore's Hundred

The Omnivore's Hundred is a fun poll/game that has been going around the Internet this week. I first saw it on Chocolate and Zucchinni. The Omnivore's Hundred is an interesting list of 100 items that Andrew Wheeler, co-author of the British food blog Very Good Taste, thinks every omnivore should try at least once in his life. He offered this list with the following instructions:

1. Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2. Bold all the items you’ve eaten
3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4. Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

Having completed the list, you can probably see I am not a fan of strange meats or anything that might smell bad!

The Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos Rancheros
4. Steak Tartare
5. Crocodile (Had alligator in New Orleans-same thing! Tastes like chicken!)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba Ghanoush
11. Calamari (I love the Calamari at the Palm)

12. Pho
13. PB&J Sandwich (quiz should also include a fluffer nutter!)
14. Aloo Gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16 Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom Tomatoes

22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie Gras

24. Rice and Beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de Leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava (this is one of the things I would like to make from scratch)
30. Bagna Cruda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac
with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikki marsala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (I grew up eating these!) I think the quiz should include the original hot out of the oven!
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle (Another thing I hope to make from scratch soon)

57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie (Its been a long time)
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini (I can't wait to have a party with a Bellini Bar with fresh purees! I'm thinking it would be perfect or Girl's Night)
81. Tom yum (Love it!)
82. Eggs Benedict(one of my very favorites!)
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. (Abacus)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox ( I grew up eating this!)
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake (I don’t ever want to be in a location where this is being served)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Outrageous Brownies

To go along with my grilled pizza and Caesar salad I also made Ina's famous outrageous brownies. I've seen numerous reviews touting these brownies as the very best. I thought they would be the perfect ending for our casual meal. I liked these brownies, they were definitely good but I wouldn't say they were my favorite ever. They were really rich and sweet so it was hard to eat very many. Maybe that is a good thing! So far this recipe from Cooking Light remains my favorite brownie recipe. I'm hoping to try Dorie's French chocolate brownies soon. I would still recommend this recipe as most will probably really like them. The brownies were good and definitely a crowd pleaser. Also this is a great recipe if you need to make a lot of brownies. I just personally prefer a brownie with less sugar and a more intense chocolate flavor.

Outrageous Brownies
Source: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 ¼ cups flour, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups diced walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.

Melt together the butter, chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and chocolate chips with flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not overbake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Panzanella (or Stuffing Salad!)

I was really excited when Melissa of It's Melissa's Kitchen chose Panzanella for this week's Barefoot Blogger's entry. I've eyed this recipe countless times in my Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook and just never got around to making it. This pick also seemed perfect for summer. We really enjoyed this dish. My husband was quite funny when he asked me about the "stuffing salad" I had made for dinner! One of my favorite things to eat in summer is tomato salad. One of the best parts of tomato salad is using bread to sop up the yummy vinegar/oil/tomato juice at the bottom of the bowl. This recipe combines the best of those flavors and a good combination of vegetables. I could eat a bowl of this salad for dinner all on its own. I halved the recipe since the original serves 12. This will be a summer menu staple in our house from now on. I served this salad with Ina's Butterflied Chicken recipe, the other August pick for the Barefoot Bloggers. The Butterflied Chicken review will post on August 28th! Trust me, you will want to make that recipe too!

Source: Barefoot Contessa Parties by Ina Garten

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained

For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Caesar Salad with Pancetta

Over the past several days, I've been busy making all the August recipes for the Barefoot Bloggers. I will give you a spoiler and warn that all the recipes coming up were delicious. We have some new favorites to add to our collection! However, you will have to wait until August 14, 21, and 28 to see the yummy results! I can however post about some of the great accompaniments I made. Last night we had Ina's Grilled Pizzas which were fabulous. The grilled pizza update will post on August 21st. To go with these delicious pizzas, I served Ina's Caesar Salad with Pancetta as recommended in the Barefoot Contessa Parties. Both my husband and I and are guests (my in-laws) really enjoyed this salad. Definitely take the time to roast the tomatoes. My only complaint was the dressing was a bit too salty for me. I didn't read the reviews on the food network site warning of the saltiness until after I had already made the dressing. Next time, I would cut out the 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and try 4-6 anchovies. I would recommend starting with a small amount of the anchovies and tasting and adding both anchovies and/or salt until you achieve a balance that you like. As recommended by Ina, I substituted mayonnaise for the raw egg. Overall a great recipe to have in your repertoire!

Caesar Salad with Pancetta
Source: Barefoot Contessa Parties

3/4 pound pancetta, sliced 1/2-inch thick
2 pints cherry tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes)
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large heads romaine lettuce
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

For the dressing:
1 extra-large egg yolk at room temperature* (I substituted 2 Tbsp of Mayonnaise as recommended by Ina)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
8 to 10 anchovy fillets (optional)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good mild olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the pancetta into 1/2-inch cubes and cook it in a skillet over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until browned and crisp. Remove to paper towels and drain.

Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft.

Wash the lettuce leaves carefully and spin-dry in a salad spinner. Stack the leaves on a cutting board and cut them crosswise into 1 1/2-inch slices. Place them in a large mixing bowl.

For the dressing, place the egg yolks, mustard, garlic, anchovies, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until smooth. With the food processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube (as though you were making mayonnaise), until thick. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and pulse 3 times.

Toss the lettuce with enough dressing to moisten well. Add 1 cup grated Parmesan and toss. Divide the lettuce among 6 or 8 plates and sprinkle with the pancetta roasted tomatoes. Serve at room temperature.

All these ingredients can be made in advance. Be sure they're room temperature when you assemble the salad.

Brillante Weblog Award

Thank you so much to Horned Froggy at My Baking Heart for giving me the Brillante Weblog Award! Her blog is definitely an inspiration both for her wonderful looking recipes and her beautiful photography. I recently got a chance to met up with her at the John Mayer concert. Can't ask for more than someone who likes good food and good music!

I would like to pass this award on to some other great blogs:
Joelen's Culinary Adventures
Lauren's Kitchen
Amy at Sing for Your Supper
Tara at Smell's Like Home
Noodle Nights and Morning Muffins

Friday, August 8, 2008

Turkey Burgers

I've never made a turkey burger before. After seeing several recipes for turkey burgers, I decided this would be a nice light change to making a regular burger and a good light summer meal. I forgot to take a picture before we ate. I hate posting without a picture but the recipe was so good I definitely wanted to post it. These were really flavorful and quick to prepare and cook. I can imagine we will be having these on a regular basis. Turns out they are toddler friendly too! I'm also excited to try some other recipes with different variations of seasonings. Per the recipe instructions, these can also be made ahead and frozen. I served these on spelt bread with broccoli and fruit salad. If you haven't tried spelt bread, I highly recommend it. We are hooked on the Whole Food's brand. We tried another brand and weren't thrilled with it but the Whole Foods one tastes remarkable like sourdough when toasted.

Turkey Burger
Source: Everyday Food

Serves 4

  • 6 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread (I used spelt bread)
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey (7 percent fat)
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons prepared mango chutney, preferably Major Grey's, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 cup mesclun lettuce mix
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
  1. In a medium bowl, tear 2 slices bread into small pieces. Add turkey, sour cream, 3 tablespoons chutney, 1 tablespoon mustard, chili powder, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt. Shape into 4 firmly packed 5-inch round patties.
  2. Freeze on a baking sheet until firm, about 30 minutes, then wrap each burger in plastic; place all burgers in a resealable freezer bag, label, and date. Freeze up to 2 months.
  3. To cook: Thaw burgers overnight in the refrigerator. Heat broiler with rack set 4 inches from heat. Place burgers on a rimmed baking sheet; broil until firm and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
  4. Lightly toast 4 slices bread. Dividing evenly, top each with lettuce, burger, and tomato. Stir together 1 tablespoon each chutney and mustard, and serve alongside burgers.

    Note: When burgers are wrapped separately, you can defrost as few or as many as you need.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Pork Chops with Apples and Shallots

I had some apples I needed to use and recently saw this recipe in the Everyday Food Cookbook. I think part of me wanted to make this recipe wishfully thinking it would bring on fall weather in the midst of our heat wave! This recipe was good but not a 10/10 like many of the other recipes I have made from the Everyday Food collection. I served this with mashed turnips and wilted spinach. Again-thinking fall!

Pork Chops with Apples and Shallots
Source: Everyday Food

Serves 4
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 pound medium shallots, halved or quartered lengthwise (pieces should be about 3/4 inch thick)
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 pork rib chops (each 1/2 inch thick and 6 to 8 ounces)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper


  1. Heat broiler; set rack 4 inches from heat. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium-high. Add shallots; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Cover pan; reduce heat to medium. Continue cooking until shallots are soft, about 5 minutes more.
  2. Add apples and wine; cover, and cook until apples are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Uncover; cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated and apples are tender, 2 to 4 minutes more. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.
  3. While apples are cooking, season pork chops generously with salt and pepper; place on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes per side. To serve, spoon warm apple mixture over chops.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Roasted Cod with Potatoes and Olives

I'm finally getting back into the kitchen after a very busy weekend. I just have to say if you haven't seen John Mayer live in concert you are missing out! Also, if you haven't seen the Dark Knight that is a must see too. Back to this recipe. I just don't think I can rave enough about Everyday Food and their recipes. Like Ina's recipes, this magazine seems to produce one winning recipe after another. I was intrigued by this recipe when I saw it being prepared on the Everyday Food show on PBS. This recipe was restaurant quality and literally took only minutes to prepare and 40 minutes total cook time. Also, its not very messy to make. I only used one baking sheet, a knife and a set of tongs. My husband said this fish dish was better than most restaurants and convinced him that he likes cod. Based on the recommendation of the fish monger at Whole Foods, I purchased a wild caught black cod. The cod came out very light and flaky and had a delicious buttery taste. The addition of the roast vegetables added a wonderful combination of flavors. If you haven't tried cod or you just love cod this recipe is a must.

Roasted Cod with Potatoes and Olives
Source: Everyday Food, September 2006

Serves 4
  • 2 pounds red new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 cod fillets, (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, whole or halved
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives (I used green olives)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss potatoes with garlic, rosemary, and 1 tablespoon oil; season generously with salt and pepper. Arrange potatoes in a single layer, cut side down. Bake, tossing potatoes once, until beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, rub fillets with remaining teaspoon oil; season all sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove baking sheet from oven. Add tomatoes and olives to potatoes; stir to combine. Push vegetable mixture to one side; place fillets flat on baking sheet, next to vegetables. Return to oven, and roast until fish is cooked through and potatoes are brown and tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer fish and vegetables to serving platter. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges if desired.