Baba Ganoush

March 31, 2010 § 2 Comments

I love baba ganoush — it is the perfect topping on some crispy bread for a nice appetizer or as a light and flavorful dip for crisps.  It also makes a great dinner side.  NOTE: this dish tastes best immediately after preparation.

Ingredients:

–  2 medium sized eggplants

–  4-6 garlic cloves

–  4 tablespoons of mayonnaise

– salt

I like to use Trader Joe’s organic mayonnaise.  They also have a nice vegan mayonnaise, if you prefer.

STEP 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

STEP 2: Wrap each eggplant in a generously sized piece of foil.  Make sure the the ‘top’ part of the wrapped eggplant is the one where the edges meet so that the bottom has no openings for liquid to leak out.

STEP 3: Place the wrapped eggplants in the preheated oven. (I was so excited about the eggplants that the picture turned out blurry. :-))

STEP 4: Bake in oven for 30-45 minutes.  You will know the eggplants are done when they are soft and mushy when you press them with a fork.

STEP 5: When eggplants are done, take them out of oven and let them cool for a few minutes.  Once the eggplants are cool, peel off the skin using a paring knife.  (If the skin does not come off easily, this indicates the eggplants are not completely done yet.)

STEP 6: Once eggplants are peeled, cut them into 1″ pieces and put into bowl.

STEP 7: Add minced garlic, salt, and mayonnaise.  Mix together using a fork and mashing up the mixture as much as possible.  Mix into a nice mushy consistency.

STEP 8: Serve and enjoy!

Lemon Jubilee: Delicate Lemon Pancakes

March 30, 2010 § 1 Comment

I love the consistency of pancakes that are a mix between traditional pancakes and crepes.  These light fluffy and delicate lemon pancakes are airy and perfectly filling for breakfast.  These pancakes are so light and airy, you will want to use a drizzle of honey on top (instead of maple syrup).

Ingredients (makes about 20 pancakes):

  • 1  1/2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2  tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4  tsp. salt
  • 3/8 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3  tbsp. melted butter
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1  1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • zest of two medium sized lemons

Ingredients for the Ricotta Poppy Seed Topping:

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp. milk
  • 1  1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. poppy seeds

Directions:

1.  Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

2.  Mix the wet ingredients in a different bowl.  When the wet ingredients are mixed together, combine the wet and dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.  Remember, the batter will be very airy and light.

3.  Use just under 1/4 cup of the batter for each pancake.  The pancakes cook quickly.  When a few bubbles appear on the pancakes, turn them carefully.  Keep the pancakes on the pan for another minute or two and then they should be ready to eat.  Top the pancakes with Ricotta Poppy Seed Topping, fresh raspberries, and a drizzle of honey.

Lemon Jubilee: Lemonade in the Spring

March 29, 2010 § 1 Comment

Last week, I was lucky to get a huge bag of handpicked lemons from my friend Cheri.  I have enjoyed having these sweet flavored lemons around the kitchen so much, that I decided to create a series of recipes that showcase the wonderful flavor of lemons.  This recipe for lemonade is the first of several recipes that all celebrate the fresh warm weather taste of lemons.  Nothings says warm weather better than a cold glass of hand squeezed lemonade, and the warm weather definitely showed up this last weekend.  Enjoy.

Ingredients (makes a large pitcher):

  • 9 cups of water
  • 2  1/4 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups sugar

Directions:

1.  Heat 4 cups of water in a pot on med-low heat.  Do not boil the water.  Put the remaining water (5 cups) in a serving pitcher or jug.

2.  Dissolve the sugar in the warm water.  When the sugar is fully dissolved and the water is translucent, cool the simple syrup to room temperature.

3.  While the simple syrup is cooling, juice your lemons.  You can add more of less lemon juice depending on how sweet or tart you want your lemonade.

4.  Once cooled, add the simple syrup to the pitcher of water.  Add the lemon juice and cool completely before serving.  Add ice to the pitcher just before serving.

Variations of lemonade:

  • This lemonade is also great with fresh blended strawberries.
  • You could also make raspberry lemonade by muddling or blending raspberries (make sure you strain the raspberry puree if your don’t want all of the raspberry seeds to settle at the bottom of the lemonade).
  • Mint lemonade is also delicious.  Muddle some mint in the bottom of the pitcher before you add the water, simple syrup, and lemon juice.

Yelena’s Banana Bread Thursday!

March 25, 2010 § 1 Comment

This recipe comes from my sister, Yelena, who makes the most amazing banana bread! Its nutty and sweet and just heavenly! This makes a great tea-time accompaniment and is sinfully yummy for breakfast with coffee.

Yelena’s Banana Bread:

As a sweet mid-week treat, I have found banana bread to be quite delectable. It lasts throughout the weekend, and is great to snack on or as dessert. This recipe is definitely a crowd pleaser!

To begin, you will need three bowls – small, medium, and large. For the baking part, you’ll need a small (8”x4”) bread pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine the dry ingredients in the large bowl and set aside:

1 ½ cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1/3 cup white sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

½ tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

You will also need:

4-5 semi-brown bananas

2 eggs

1/3 melted (and slightly cooled) butter

1 tsp vanilla

½ – 1 cup chocolate chips

½ – 1 cup chopped walnuts

In the medium bowl, mash up the bananas until they are a thick, soupy consistency; set aside.

In the small bowl, beat the eggs. Add the butter and vanilla.

Once well mixed, add these contents of the small bowl to the bananas in the medium bowl. Mix well.

If desired, add chocolate chips and chopped walnuts – both create great texture in the final product! Mix well.

Finally, combine the wet ingredients (banana and egg mixture) with the dry ingredients in the large bowl.

Pour the final mixture into the greased bread pan. Place in the oven for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, testing with a fork in the final minutes for readiness.

Once ready, let cool, and enjoy!

Avocados in the Buff

March 22, 2010 § 1 Comment

If you are like me and taste an avocado of the perfect ripeness at the market, you want to buy a million pounds of them, bring them home immediately, and bathe in their richness and yumminess.  Fortunately, I do not always act on my avocado impulses.

This recipe is my tribute to the perfect avocado — without the perversion of any other flavors.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a colorful guacamole, but sometimes you just have to praise the avocado in the buff and celebrate its moment of perfect ripeness.

Ingredients:

– 3 avocados

– 1 lime (or lemon, if you prefer)

– salt

Step 1: Halve the avocados with a sharp knife.

Step 2: This is a super secret avocado cutting trick, so don’t go telling everyone.  Score the avocado half in a criss-cross (jump! jump!) fashion so that you cut all the way to the skin, but without puncturing the skin.  Next, gently lift out the pieces by inverting the avocado half as if it were a suction cup.  The pieces will start to almost fall out and you could help them along with your hand or a knife.

Step 3: Place the cubed avocado into a bowl, add a lime, and salt to taste.  Wipe the sweat off your brow — I know this was a tough one!

Enjoy the avocado in its pure unadulterated nudity.

WeHo Farmer’s Market Finds

March 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

I recently moved from Marina del Rey to West Hollywood, so I was a little nervous and excited to visit my new West Hollywood Sunday farmers market (located on Melrose Place & Croft).  Would the selection be as great as it was at the Main St. market in Santa Monica?  Would the veggies be as fresh?  The wait was making me very excited!

Alas, Sunday morning I walked on over to the market — it was small with far fewer vendors than the Main St. one, but the selection was great!  I could not be happier.  The fact that it was small only made it easier to get in and out very quickly without wading through the typical crowd in Santa Monica.

Here are my finds from this week’s market trip:

Broccoli and Potato Cheese Soup Monday

March 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

A couple of weeks ago, I cooked broccoli as a side dish for dinner.  I bought too much broccoli and there was no way that my husband and I were going to eat it all before it decided to go bad.  I thought of what I could possibly cook with broccoli in the future….soup.  I decided to cook the broccoli, let it cool, bag it up, and put it in the freezer.

As I was trying to think of some sort of comfort food to make for my husband last night, I ran across potatoes on my counter, broccoli in my freezer, and a nice block of aged cheddar in my fridge.  As a kid, any form of potatoes and cheese were a tell-tell sign that my dad was going to be making potato cheese soup.  This recipe was born with his inspiration….

Ingredients:

3 large Yukon Gold potatoes or 4-5 medium potatoes

4 stalks celery

3 medium-sized carrots

1/2 Mayan sweet onion

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. dried parsley (if using fresh parsley, you need to use more)

1 and 1/2  boxes of  Trader Joe’s vegetable broth

1 large head of broccoli, or 2 small heads, cut into small florets

1 Tbsp. corn starch

3/4 lb. cheddar cheese (I used Boxing Cheddar from Australia)

1 cup Trader Joe’s soy creamer (regular cream or half & half  is fine)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Add the olive oil to a dutch oven, I use an All Clad cast iron dutch oven, or soup pot and heat on a medium to medium low heat.

2. Chop onions and add to the oil.  Sauté the onions (do not let them get brown and fried).  Dice the carrots and celery into evenly sized pieces and add them to the oil.  Add in the parsley and cook veggies for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.

3. Add two boxes of vegetable broth to the pot.

4. Cut potatoes into evenly sized pieces and add them to the pot.  Cook for about 6-8 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender (the time will vary depending on how big you cut the potatoes).

5. When potatoes are almost done, add your broccoli.  Cook another 5-8 minutes or until broccoli and potatoes are tender.

6. Right now you have a great base for a vegetable soup, so step#6  makes this soup into a creamy cheesy bowl of goodness.  Add 1 cup of Trader Joe’s soy creamer.  I use soy creamer because it lightens up the soup, decreases the calories, and doesn’t make the soup so heavy.  You can use regular cream, half & half, or heavy whipping cream depending on how rich you want your soup.

7. In a small container, shake the cornstarch with the recommended amount of water (I use about 2 Tbsp).  The cornstarch will dissolve into the water and have a smooth consistency.  Add this mix to the soup to act as a thickening agent.

8. Add the grated cheddar cheese.  If you are using a sharp cheddar, you might want to add less cheese.  If you are using a mild cheddar, you might want to add more cheese.  To be on the safe side, add 1/2 cup of the grated cheese to the soup first, and then add more to taste.

9. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This soup pairs well with a rustic loaf of bread or homemade drop biscuits (as seen in the first picture of this post).  Enjoy!


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