Sunday, December 28, 2008

Radish Sliver Omelet

Does anyone else have a hard time making omelets? No matter what I try it seems I always end up with scrambled eggs. It tastes just as good, but doesn't look right. Well that happened again when I tried to make this Radish Sliver Omelet. I should have know that if I have such a hard time making an omelet in a regular pan that I would be even more challenged using a wok!

Still, I love using daikon and the more I work with it the more versatile I can see that it is. I mean radish and eggs? Normally not something I would salivate for but since I know the daikon has a mild flavor I thought I'd give it a try. And I'm glad I did because this is a nice, light omelet that is even kind of fresh in flavor. Perfect for lunch! And speaking of lunch, even though I originally made this for dinner, I had the leftovers cold, right out of the fridge, with an English muffin and it was awesome!

Radish Sliver Omelet
luo bu si jian dan

10 oz. Asian radish (daikon)
salt and pepper
4 eggs
5 scallions, green parts only, finely sliced
3 Tbsp. peanut oil

Cut the radish into very thin slices, and then in very fin slivers. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, mix well, and leave for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with salt to taste. Add the sliced scallions and set aside.

Squeeze as much water as possible out of the radish slivers.

Heat the peanut oil in a wok or skillet over a high flame. Add the radish slivers and stir-fry for a few minutes to dry out some of the remaining moisture. Turn the heat down a little, add the eggs and mix gently to incorporate. As the omelet cooks, gently push in from the edge so the egg forms soft, loose folds. When the underside is golden, turn the omelet over and fry the other side until also golden. Serve with a sprinkling of pepper to taste.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Irish Cream Tiramisu

Ever think about making Tiramisu with Bailey's Irish Cream? When I saw this recipe for Irish Cream Tiramisu in Nigella Express I was definitely intrigued because I thought Bailey's would be really great in Tiramisu. And I was correct. You can usually depend on Nigella Lawson to come up with tasty recipes which are simple to prepare as she does with this one.

Irish Cream Tiramisu
Serves 12

1 1/2 cups espresso coffee, made with 1 1/2 cups water and 9 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1 cup Baileys Irish Cream liqueur

2 7.05-oz packages Savoiardi (Italian ladyfingers) cookies or other ladyfingers

2 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 lb/2 cups mascarpone cheese

2 1/2 teaspoons cocoa

Make the coffee and let it cool (the espresso powder does mix fairly well in room temperature water).

Mix the coffee and 3/4 cup of the Baileys together in a shallow bowl.

Dip the ladyfingers into this liquid; let them soak on each side enough to become damp but not soggy. Line the bottom of an 8 1/2-inch square glass dish with a layer of ladyfingers.

Separate the eggs, but keep only one of the whites. Whisk the two yolks and sugar together until thick and a paler yellow, then fold in the remaining quarter cup of Baileys and the mascarpone to make a moussey mixture.

Whisk the single egg white until thick and frothy; you can do this by hand with such a little amount. Fold the egg white into the yolky mascarpone, and then spread half of this mixture on top of the layer of ladyfingers.

Repeat with another layer of soaked ladyfingers, and then top with the remaining mascarpone mixture.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight. When you are ready to serve, push the cocoa through a small fine-mesh sieve to dust the top of the tiramisu.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Polenta Crostini with Fig and Kalamata Olive Tapenade

Polenta is one of those really fun foods... you can do so many different things with it. A few weeks ago I had a polenta appetizer at a restaurant where the polenta was sliced and grilled and then topped with a mixture of chopped veggies. So when I saw this recipe for Polenta Crostini with Fig and Kalamata Olive Tapenade in The Christmas Table cookbook I knew I wanted to try it out for my family.

It is actually pretty simple to make. Prepare polenta, pour into a bread pan and chill. Something so simple yields a really nice alternative to crackers when serving to guests.

The combination of figs and kalamata olives may be off-putting to some. In face many of my relatives wrinkled their nose when I told them what was in this, but they all tried it and everybody loved it.

Polenta Crostini with Fig and Kalamata Olive Tapenade
Makes about 75

Polenta Crostini
Olive-oil cooking spray
3 cups water
1 cup instant polenta
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, preferably parmigiano-reggiano
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Fig Tapenade

1 1/2 cup stemmed and finely chopped dried black mission figs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. small capers, rinsed and blotted dry
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

To make the polenta crostini, generously grease an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan with olive-oil cooking spray. Set aside.

In a 2 1/2-quart saucepan over medium heat, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the polenta, salt and pepper and continue to stir constantly until the polenta has thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Adjust the heat to low if the polenta is bubbling too vigorously. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Pour the polenta into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top so it is level. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly over the polenta to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside until cool, and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the polenta to firm up. (The polenta can be made up to 2 days in advance.)

To make the fig tapenade, place the figs and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook until the figs have softened and the liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes. Transfer the figs to a medium bowl. Add the olives, pine nuts, vinegar, olive oil, capers, oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix gently to combine. Transfer a serving bowl, cover, and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld. (The tapenade can be prepared up to 5 days in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator 45 minutes before topping the crostini.)

To finish the crostini, position an over rack 4 inches below the heat source and preheat the broiler. Unmold the polenta onto a cutting board, and cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Cut each slice into thirds to form rectangles. Arrange the pieces on a rimmed baking sheet and brush the tops with the olive oil. Broil until lightly golden and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before topping. (The polenta crostini can be broiled up to 3 hours before serving. Set aside at room temperature.)

To assemble and serve, place the polenta crostini on a large platter. Spoon a small dollop of the fig tapenade in the center of each rectangle. Serve immediately, or cover and set aside at room temperature for up to 45 minutes.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Shrimp with Tomatoes, Oregano, and Feta Cheese

Shrimp and Feta... can you argue with those two ingredients? Tonight I was gifted with a pound and a half of shrimp and asked to make something. As you all know, this is my dream! I found this simple, yet tasty, recipe in my cookbook from the Culinary Institute of America. As suggested in the cookbook, I decided to broil it before serving. It adds a nice color to the dish.

Shrimp with Tomatoes, Oregano, and Feta Cheese
Makes 4 servings

1 1/2 lb. large shrimp (16/20 count), shelled and deveined
Salt as needed
Freshly ground black pepper as needed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne
2 Tbsp. chopped oregano
1 cup Tomato Sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup crumbled feta cheese 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 slices crusty bread

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over high heat until is shimmers. Add the shrimp and saute, turning as necessary until the shrimp are bright pink, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate and keep warm.

Add the onion garlic, cayenne, and oregano to the pan and saute, stirring constantly, until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce, reduce the heat to low, and bring to a simmer. Season the sauce to taste with sugar, salt, and pepper. Return the shrimp to the sauce and simmer very slowly until the shrimp is completely cooked, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the shrimp to a serving dish (or individual gratin dishes). Top the shrimp with the sauce and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top. Serve very hot, topped with the chopped parsley. Serve with crusty bread.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Oven-Roasted Eggs with Anchovy Vinaigrette

Have you ever heard of roasted eggs? Well, I have not but roasting is one of my favorite cooking methods and eggs are one of my favorite ingredients so within minutes of reading this recipe in The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen I took a carton of eggs out of the fridge and popped them in the oven. I was so intrigued to see what these would end up like!

While the eggs were roasting away in the oven I quickly made the Anchovy Vinaigrette, which is the suggested accompaniment and then did a little research. It seams roasted eggs are part of a traditional Passover meal. I found out that this way to make eggs is very old. But instead of cooking them in the oven, people used to bury them in hot ashes in the ground or stash them in the ashes of a fire place. I can't even imagine how to hook that up but my oven seemed to work out fine.

After finding out all this recipe I was even more curious. The cookbook mentions that the eggs will turn golden and then if you are serving on a platter you should take a few eggs out of the oven at a time. This way some will be lighter gold and the ones that stay in longer will be darker, which makes for a pretties presentation.

Finally after five hours I got to try one! They had a rich, almost smokey flavor. My eggs did not turn out egg-shaped... it seems as if they contracted on one side. Maybe this is because I did not use very fresh eggs as specified in the recipe, but eggs about to expire. It was interesting all the same. I ate two eggs with the anchovy vinaigrette and then realized how rich it all is so I toasted some bread and put slices of eggs on top of the bread and drizzled the vinaigrette on top. Yum!

Sephardic Oven-Roasted Eggs
Serves 5 to 10

10 very fresh AA eggs
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Anchovy Vinaigrette (optional)

Set the oven rack in the middle. Soak the eggs in warm water while preheating the oven to 225 degrees. Set the eggs directly on the rack. Bake 4 1/2 to 5 hours. Stagger the removal of the eggs from the oven if you would like the eggs to have a multihued effect (different golden shades).

Roll the eggs to crackle the shells, then drop them into a bowl of cold water to soak for 5 minutes. Slip off the shells, dry and place attractively on a colorful dish. Serve at room temperature with salt and pepper or the anchovy vinaigrette.

Anchovy Vinaigrette
Makes about 1/2 cup

6 salt-packed anchovies, cleaned and filleted, or 12 oil-packed flat anchovy fillets, drained, soaked in cool milky water, rinsed and drained.
1 garlic clove, crushed to a puree
1 Tbsp. mild wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
7 to 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

In a small saucepan over low heat, crush the anchovy fillets with a wooden spoon or fork until creamy and smooth. Scrape them into a small bowl or blender jar. Add the garlic, vinegar, and pepper. With the machine on, gradually add the olive oil. Let the vinaigrette stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cool Veggie Pizza

One thing that is present at almost any party I, my family, or my friends host is Cool Veggie Pizza. I had this for the first time at a Pampered Chef party about ten years ago and we have been making it ever since.

This holiday my co-workers decided to have a potluck so I made this. The night before I chopped up the veggies and stored them in separate baggies. I also made the cream cheese mixture. I cooked the "crust" before work in the morning on a disposable cookie sheet. I assembled everything while I was on a conference call just before our lunch! It worked out perfectly.

Cool Veggie Pizza
8-10 appetizer servings

1 can (8 oz.) refrigerated crescent rolls

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

1-1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dill Mix or dill weed

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups of a variety of fresh vegetables: zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, green or red peppers, green onions, seeded tomatoes, seeded cucumbers, etc.

1 oz. (1/4 cup) shredded cheddar cheese, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread crescent roll dough onto 13-inch baking stone and pinch seams together (you can use a cookie sheet as well). Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Blend cream cheese, mayonnaise, dill weed, salt and pepper. Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of cooled crust. Coarsely chop chosen vegetables.

Sprinkle layer of each vegetable over pizza. Top with grated cheese, if desired.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pecan Crescents

My grandmother used to make these cookies for us when we were kids. She lived in Florida and us in Chicago so it was always a big treat when she would visit and make all her different cookies. While this recipe may be in a thousand different cookbooks, this is her version.

The recipe calls for 1 cup of chopped pecans but my frugal grandmother would sometimes substitute walnuts. And sometimes she'd only add 1/2 a cup! But they always turned out good even with her scrimping.

You can choose between butter or margarine, but she preferred margarine because it was softer and easier to cream. For butter make sure it is room temperature before starting.

Somehow my grandmother ALWAYS got exactly 40 cookies out of this recipe. The rest of us get a few more or a few less.

Pecan Crescents
1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups flour

Cream butter or margarine. Work in 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar until well blended. Add 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 cup chopped pecans and 2 cups flour. Refrigerate dough for one hour. Shape small pieces of dough into crescents on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Dust with confectioners sugar when removed from oven and again before serving.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Grilled Kielbasa with Warm Potato Salad

I know this calls for a grill, but I used a grill pan instead of venturing out in the snow. Also, I substituted red fingerling potatoes which worked out perfectly. This recipe for Grilled Kielbasa with Warm Potato Salad comes from the June, 2008 issue of Gourmet magazine.

I strongly suggest you taste the "vinaigrette" before tossing in the potatoes because I didn't think it had nearly enough cider vinegar for that German potato salad taste. But this recipe does a good job of melding familiar German flavors in a different and easy way.

Grilled Kielbasa with Warm Potato Salad
Serves 4 (Main Course)

2 lb. small red boiling potatoes, halved or quartered if large
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 lb. smoked kielbasa

Accompaniment: grainy mustard

Generously cover potatoes with water in a large saucepan and add 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, whisk together onion, oil, vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper in a large bowl.

Add hot potatoes and parsley to vinaigrette and toss.

Prepare grill for direct-head cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas). NOTE: Kielbasa can be grilled in a hot lightly oiled large (2-burner) ridged grill pan over medium-high heat.

Cut kielbasa crosswise into 4 sections, then halve each section lengthwise.

Oil grill rack, then grill kielbasa, covered only if using a gas grill, turning once, until sizzling and grill marks appear, about 4 minutes total.

Serve kielbasa with potato salad (warm or at room temperature).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Shrimp and Noodle Salad with Ginger Dressing

My favorite thing about this recipe for Shrimp and Noodle Salad with Ginger Dressing is that is uses pre-cooked shrimp. There a SO MANY times I have leftover shrimp OR I buy the wrong bag of frozen shrimp and accidentally pick up pre-cooked... in addition to that, this recipe also uses other "pre-made" items like packaged coleslaw mix and store bought teriyaki sauce which makes it super easy.

I know it is December, and this recipe was taken from the May, 2008 issue of Food and Wine Magazine, but this noodle salad is so yummy that you can eat it anytime during the year. It's served room temperature, which is "cold" to some people so I can imagine it being nice during the summer. That and the original article I found it in was for "picnic salads" so known as a good dish to prepare ahead of time and travel well. However, we had it for a light dinner (in December) and enjoyed it thoroughly. I even have leftovers for work tomorrow.

The only downside to this recipe is that slicing shrimp "lengthwise" isn't as easy as you would think.

Shrimp and Noodle Salad with Ginger Dressing
4 to 6 servings

7 ounces dried udon noodles or fettuccine (fettuccine broken in half)
12 ounces shredded coleslaw mix
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 cup cilantro leaves
3/4 pound cooked medium shrimp, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon Chinese chile-garlic sauce
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Lime wedges, for serving

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold running water. pat dry and transfer to a large bowl. Add the coleslaw mix, scallions, cilantro and shrimp.

In a blender, combine the teriyaki sauce with the ginger and chile-garlic sauce and puree until smooth. With the machine on, slowly add the vegetable oil in a thin stream and puree until the dressing is emulsified. Season lightly with salt. Add the dressing to the bowl with the udon n oodles and toss well. Serve the noodle salad with lime wedges on the side.