Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene!

For those of you who didn't know, Hurricane Irene was spinning itself into a little tizzy towards the Big Apple.  All the public transportation was shut down yesterday afternoon in preparation, there was a mandatory evacuation for the lowest areas of the city, (no need to worry, I live about a block from the highest point in Brooklyn), and people freaked out buying large quantities of water.  This could have been the worst storm New York has seen in a very long time.  We were on lock down.  In the end it was overkill and the storm was down graded to a tropical storm before it reached us.  It still accomplished plenty of damage, though not too much that we could see around us.  It seemed to hit places farther north and inland like Connecticut and Vermont more.  
The view of the Sunday sunset after the storm
I thought about using the  time stuck inside to make a few new things that are a bit time consuming.  In the end I went with a classic: caramel rolls.  They were perfect for an after dinner treat last night.  And breakfast this morning.  My new roommate however, is from Louisiana.  Apparently having gumbo and yelling at the storm is a tradition and we were not about to break it now.  Originally, the storm was suppose to spin through Sunday afternoon, but it was pretty much over this morning by 7AM.  So we kinda missed the bulk of it being asleep and all.  
The winds have kept up their rage though and we all stuck to the indoors, minus a few trips to the roof and coffee shop and we still had gumbo.  My roommate and his friends he was staying with until he could move in, came over around 11 and started cooking the gumbo (they had started prepping Saturday).  We didn't eat it until about 6.  The kitchen was a mess.  There were 3 pots boiling at one point in time on the stove.  It smelled amazing.  Seriously.  We all hung out with the neighbors watching bad movies and playing a game or two to pass the time until it was ready.  His friends also made an amazing potato salad and boiled collards.  It was so good.  So good.  
Stupidly I didn't think to take a picture until it was all cleaned up. From the right: potato salad, chicken gumbo, & the boiled collards. 
I haven't asked him for the recipe yet, and I'm guessing a large part of it is unmeasured and all stored knowledge, but I really hope he shares it with me because I definitely want to make something like it sometime in the future.  And if god knows what kind of other things he makes but I am looking forward to having a roommate that can cook like this.  I will stay out of the kitchen if he wants to keep making dishes like this, although my bike riding may not be enough to counter act it. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Adventures in the Land of Ground Turkey

So I'm pretty sure if my dad were to read this, he would disown me.  Or never let me in the kitchen at home again for fear of what I might trick him into eating.  In all fairness, I've never really had much desire to try ground turkey anything, especially when ground beef already does such a good job.  (If you follow me at all, you've see all the delicious post and pictures of my latest grilling adventures.)  Regardless of my love of a good beef burger,  I decided it was time to see what all the talk was about.

I came across a few recipes Turkey Burgers while I was flipping through my recipe binder and cookbooks.  I settled on this one found in Great Food Fast.  I felt that my first adventure in the land of ground turkey needed to be mixed with other ingredients and flavors for fear of being grossed out.  I was concerned I wouldn't cook them long enough or over cook them, I was cooking a few things on the grill at once, but about 5 minutes on each side was perfect on my grill at medium high.  I don't really know what I was expecting, but they turned out really good.  I switched the cheese because I am not a fan of Gruyere and I mixed up some avocado spread.  I will definitely be trying out more recipes in the near future involving ground turkey.  

Grilled sweet potato fries, grilled zucchini halves and a turkey burger with avocado spread
Ingredients (for 2 burgers)

  • 3/4 to 2/3 lb ground turkey
  • 1/4 finely grated Swiss cheese
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/8 dried bread crumbs 
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard (I finally bought some!) 
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat grill to high.  In a medium bowl, use your hand to gently combine ground turkey with the cheese, scallions, breadcrumbs, mustard, and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Form into two 1-inch thick patties. 
  2. Grill patties for 5 to 10 minutes on a side until cooked through and serve on lightly grilled buns. 
To make the Avocado Spread smash one avocado, one minced garlic clove, and the juice of one lemon (or about 2 tbsp) with a bit of salt and pepper.  Spread it over your turkey burger and enjoy!   

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tasty Spinach Pasta with Walnut Sauce

It has been raining pretty much every day since last Friday.  I've only road my bike to work once this week. ONCE.  Tomorrow's not looking to good either.  It's also been cooler than normal.  I can't really complain much about that, it's much better than the humid, hot, rain-just-makes-it -worse weather that is much more common in the summer here.  Still, temperatures below 80 degrees in the middle of summer is suddenly cold and warrants comfort like foods like tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Add to the list Spinach Pasta with Creamy Walnut Sauce. 

From Fresh Flavor Fast, this recipe is quick, not too heavy as it might sound, and really good as a leftover for lunch the next day.  I couldn't find spinach linguine, but I spaghetti is a close enough choice. Other than that switch, I followed the recipe in amounts and all.  If you are like me and do not have a food processor, just a blender, I would dice up the garlic clove instead of throwing it in whole.  I also crushed the walnut halves to make it easier on the blender.  As an FYI, the cream mixture got pretty thick.  Maybe it's suppose to do this.  I probably was distracted and let it blend too long, but it was fine and mixed in with the pasta easily.   

 I lost my pictures, so this is from Martha Stewart
  • 2 cups walnut halves 
  • 1 pound spinach spaghetti
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  1. Cook the pasta according the package in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. When finished, drain and return to the pot. 
  2. Meanwhile, In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts in small batches. Shake the pan occasionally until fragrant and starting to darken, 2 to 3 minutes.  
  3. In the blender, combine half of walnuts, the cream, and garlic and blend until smooth; season with salt and pepper.
  4.  Toss with pasta, remaining walnuts, Parmesan, and parsley. Serve with more Parmesan.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cherry Pear Crumble

This weekend Melissa has a couple Auburn friends in town so we had a backyard grill fest to welcome them to Brooklyn.  Kurt smoked  the place up grilling up burgers and several yummy vegetables.  I made dessert.  A delicious, simple, not to sugary Cherry Pear Crumble.  (I  apologize because I can't find where I found the recipe...) The most work is pitting the cherries and dicing the pears.
The before
Kurt and I mixed a few drops of bourbon in our second serving of crumble, an excellent addition. If you try it, you really only need a drop.  Kurt had to get more crumble because the tablespoon or so he poured in was way too much. I think I am going to try mixing it in before baking next time.

Cherry Pear Crumble 

  • 4 cups cherries, pitted
  • 2-3 pears, peeled, cored & diced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup whole oats
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Add the cherries and pears to a casserole pan or deep pie dish, tossing with the sugar,cornstarch, extract and nutmeg. Pour in lemon juice and stir to combine. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl combine all the topping ingredients and use your hands to work in the cold butter into doughy clumps.
  3. Scatter the topping evenly over the fruit. Bake for 45 minutes until the topping is golden and the fruit have created a bubbly sauce. Cool slightly and serve.

The after

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sweet Grilling Sides

Have I mentioned that I love grilling?  Cause I do.  I have been trying mix up my sides this summer. I've been experimenting with more vegetables on the grill and for the most part it has been pretty successful.  My most recent experiment involved sweet potatoes based on a recipe in Great Food Fast.  Have I mentioned I love sweet potatoes?  Cause I do. Two of the greatest things in the food world put together.  Bliss.  The recipe is super simple and quick.  Try to make the slices of potato as evenly as possible so they cook at the same speed.  
Backyard Mini Barbecue 

Another tasty side that I made this weekend was corn on the cob grilled.  I had somewhat forgotten about it, but flipped by the recipe while looking for the sweet potato one and figured they would be perfect together.   Also super simple and quick and pretty much impossible to screw up!  Put these together with a great cheeseburger and you have a perfect Sunday night. 

Grilled Sweet Potatoes 
2 servings 
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1tsp cayenne pepper 
  • salt & pepper 
  1. Heat the grill to medium.  In a large bowl toss all the ingredients together. 
  2. Grill for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they are tender when pierced with a fork.  Turn frequently. 
  3. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. 

Doesn't it all just look so good?!?

Grilled Corn on the Cob
2 servings 
  • 2 ears of corn unhusked 
  • vegetable oil
  • butter, salt and pepper for serving
  1. Peel back the corn husks (do not remove) and remove the silk.  Soak in cold water for 10 minutes.  
  2. Remove the corn from the water and pull the husks back over the corn.  
  3. Lightly oil the grill and grill the ears for about 15 minutes or until the kernels are tender, turning frequently. 
  4. Allow the corn to cool for a minute before using dish towel to remove the husks. Serve. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Quick Ravioli Dinner

  • I have been really good this week.  Before I went grocery shopping on Sunday I went through my cookbooks and recipes to pick out a few things to make this week.  I haven't done that in a long time.  To top it off, I'm actually making them.  Something always gets in the way normally, a late meeting, a happy hour drink, a free concert. These somethings always cause me to get home later and wanting to spend zero time cooking and reaching for the Trader Joe's Pot Stickers.  I am out of pot stickers so I had to find some easy and quick recipes to replace them. 
  • Real Simple is pretty awesome at doing that, except they always seem to require some ingredient that I don't have and won't have much need for after one recipe.  This recipe for Cheese Ravioli with Toasted Walnuts requires all staples (at least in my kitchen) although I did change up the cheese because, for once, I didn't have Parmesan on hand.  It was really good and quick to make.  Perfect for after a long meeting.   
  • Cheese Ravioli with Toasted Walnuts
  • Ingredients: 
  • 14-ounce package frozen cheese ravioli 
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • clove garlic,diced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (one lemon fresh squeezed)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp dry flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Asiago Cheese 
  1. Cook the ravioli according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic and walnuts. Cook, stirring, until the nuts are lightly toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, the parsley, and the reserved cooking water.
  5. Add the ravioli and toss to coat. Divide among plates and sprinkle with the Parmesan.