Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Roasted Eggplant Tacos

First I wanted to thank all my wonderful readers, particularly those that leave comments. I have found some great blogs to read because you have taken the time to leave a comment on this blog. This brings me to my second point, I am behind on my blog reading. We had an illness in the family so posting here and commenting on your blogs will be light for the next week or two. In the meantime please enjoy this tasty recipe for vegetarian tacos.

Roasted Eggplant Tacos
recipe courtesy of
Bread + Butter

Kosher salt
2 long Chinese eggplants
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 medium tomato, deseeded and diced
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 cups shredded mozzarella
6 flour tortillas

Slice the eggplants in half and sprinkle the cut sides with a little bit of salt. Let it rest for 20-30 minutes to remove any of the water. Pat them dry with a paper towel.

Preheat your broiler.

Brush eggplant halves lightly with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet, cut side up. Roast for about 15 minutes until the eggplant is lightly charred and cooked through. Cool slightly, and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Meanwhile sauté the onions in a skillet with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Cook, stirring often until the onions are golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar.

To assemble the tacos, take a tortilla and add some of the eggplant in the center. Top it with some diced tomato, basil, and shredded cheese.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sun-Dried Tomato and Artichoke Quinoa Salad

This salad is equally delicious when made with couscous or orzo.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Artichoke Quinoa Salad
original recipe by Eating Deliciously

1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoon olive oil
14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped if large
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
½ cup baby spinach, chopped
1 cup bocconcini (bite-sized pieces of fresh mozzarella), halved

In a medium sauce pan over high heat combine the quinoa and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the quinoa is tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan. Add the artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and continue cooking until the spinach has wilted. Add the cooked quinoa, bocconcini, and toss to combine. You can add a splash or two of stock if the mixture is to dry. Serve warm or cold.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella

I could wax poetic about the deliciousness that is this salad but in an effort to spare your keyboards from any drool damage I will get straight to the recipe. 

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella
recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine

1 large garlic clove
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 French baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups cubes)
¾ pound grape tomatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons capers (packed in brine), rinsed, drained, and chopped
½ teaspoon sugar
19 ounce can cannellini beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved with a vegetable peeler

¾ cup chopped fresh basil

Arrange oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.

Mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt using a large heavy knife, then transfer to a small bowl and add ½ cup olive oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined well. Put bread cubes in a large bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons garlic oil, tossing to combine, then arrange in 1 layer on a large shallow baking pan. Toast in oven, stirring once or twice, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, gently toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon garlic oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then arrange in 1 layer on a large shallow baking pan. Toss green beans in same bowl with remaining 2 tablespoons garlic oil and ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, then arrange in 1 layer in another large shallow baking pan. Roast vegetables, switching position of pans halfway through roasting and shaking pans once or twice, until tomatoes are very tender but not falling apart and beans are just tender and browned in spots, 12 to 16 minutes. Cool vegetables in pans until ready to assemble salad.

While vegetables roast, add vinegar to remaining garlic oil along with capers, sugar, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and whisk to combine well.

Put green beans, tomatoes (along with any pan juices), toasted bread, beans, mozzarella, and basil in a large bowl, then drizzle with dressing and stir to combine well. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature to allow flavors to develop, then stir just before serving.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tomato Pizza with Garlic and Smoked Gouda

Use the remainder of your summer tomatoes and fresh basil on this flavorful pizza. Be sure to blot away the extra moisture from the tomato slices before topping the pizza to keep your crust crisp.

Tomato Pizza with Garlic and Smoked Gouda
recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

1 pound Basic Pizza Dough
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon cornmeal
4 ounces shredded smoked Gouda cheese
1 ½ cups sliced plum tomatoes (about 4)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to take off the chill. Place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven.  Heat the oven to 500°F for at least 30 minutes.

After the dough has been at room temperature for 30 minutes, it is ready for shaping. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Shape the dough with lightly floured hands and transfer to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal.

Sprinkle cheese over pizza crust, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange the tomato slices over cheese. Combine oil and garlic; sprinkle over tomato. Sprinkle with pepper. Slide the dough onto the pizza stone. Bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 8 to 12 minutes.  
Remove the pizza from the oven, top with basil, cut into wedges and serve.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Smoky Corn Chowder

The signs of fall are everywhere. Pumpkin spice lattes are back at Starbucks, the trees in my yard have begun to change colors and shed their leaves, the farmers market is abound with pumpkins, and there is just a hint of a chill in the air. The cool weather of fall is the perfect time to make this corn chowder. The original recipe calls for frozen corn but I wanted to take advantage of all the local sweet corn that is still available. This soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Smoky Corn Chowder
recipe slightly adapted from Real Simple

8 ounces bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 to 3 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (4-5 ears of corn) 
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup half-and-half
kosher salt and black pepper
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Spoon off and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings.

Return the pan to medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, and red pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the corn, broth, and half-and-half and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Transfer half the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to the pot and stir in ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Divide the soup among bowls and top with the scallions and bacon.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Spinach Enchiladas

This is a quick and easy last minute dinner option. I used leftover homemade ricotta but you can always substitute cottage cheese that was called for in the original recipe.

Spinach Enchiladas
recipe courtesy of Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

2 tablespoons of oil
½ onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach , thawed, drained and squeezed dry
1 cup Homemade Ricotta or cottage cheese
½ cup sour cream
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
10 (6 inch) flour tortillas
19 ounce can enchilada sauce

Cook onion in oil for a few minutes until tender. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute longer. Stir in spinach, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat, and mix in cottage cheese, sour cream, and 1 cup of Monterey Jack cheese.

In a skillet over medium heat, warm tortillas one at a time until flexible, about 15 seconds. Spoon about ¼ cup of the spinach mixture onto the center of each tortilla. Roll up, and place seam side down in a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Pour enchilada sauce over the top, and sprinkle with the remaining cup of Monterey Jack. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until heated through.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Zucchini Carpaccio

There are lots of ways to make zucchini carpaccio but I wanted a simple recipe to highlight the flavor of my homemade ricotta cheese. I used a mandoline to thinly slice the zucchini but you can use a knife if you don’t have a mandoline. This dish can be served as an appetizer, side dish, or even a light lunch with some good crusty bread.

Zucchini Carpaccio
recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit

5 medium zucchini, trimmed
Coarse kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Using knife or mandoline slicer, cut zucchini into paper-thin rounds. Arrange rounds, slightly overlapping, on large platter. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt and pepper, then green onions. 

Whisk lemon juice and oil in small bowl. Drizzle dressing evenly over zucchini. 

Drop small spoonfuls of cheese all over zucchini. Sprinkle with basil and serve.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Homemade Ricotta

Homemade ricotta cheese is easy to make and delicious in both savory and sweet dishes. Once you try homemade ricotta you will never be able to go back to store bought varieties.

Homemade Ricotta
recipe slightly adapted from Ina Garten

4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth. I didn't have any cheesecloth so I used 2 layers of damp paper towels.

Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot such as Le Creuset. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 10 minutes until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. I let it drain for 30 minutes. 

Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cinnamon Chip Scones

I love all the fresh fruit and vegetables available at my local farmer's market. I enjoy taking my time picking out the best produce and talking to all the farmers. What I don't like about the farmer's market is arriving early enough to get the best picks. Even the allure of fresh vegetables is not always enough to force me out of bed early Saturday morning. One of the vendors at my farmer's market is a bakery that specializes in fresh baked bread. They have an outstanding sourdough but my favorite item is the cinnamon chip scones. The thought of those scrumptious scones are enough to lure me out of my warm bed.

Cinnamon Chip Scones
recipe courtesy of The Pioneer Woman

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
¾ cup heavy cream
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cinnamon chips

½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/3 cup sugar, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, and baking powder. Cut butter into pieces, then cut into dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cinnamon chips.

Mix together cream, egg, and vanilla extract. Pour into flour butter mixture, stirring gently with a fork to combine.

Turn onto work surface (mixture will be very crumbly and falling apart.) Gently press together on the sides as you flatten (or roll, with a rolling pin) the top. Form either into a large circle or a large rectangle. Mix together topping ingredients, stirring with a fork. Sprinkle over the top of the dough, lightly pressing.

Cut into wedges or triangles. Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.