Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Basil Pesto

recipe by Ina Garten

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Notes: Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.

To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cornmeal-Crusted Roasted Zucchini Tart

adapted from a recipe by Ellie Krieger
original recipe here.

2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup whole grain pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons water

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1 cup finely chopped kielbasa or other smoked sausage**
Cooking spray
3 smaller zucchini, sliced into rounds 1/8 inch think
3 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Combine cornmeal, pastry flour, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to incorporate. Add butter and oil and pulse about 20 times, until mixture resembles small pebbles. Add water and pulse until mixture forms a loose dough. Remove dough from processor and press into bottom and about 1/8-inch up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a detachable rim. Press aluminum foil into the bottom and sides of the pan on top of the dough and weigh down with uncooked rice or pie weights. Place tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and remove rice and foil. Return to oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until no longer shiny and wet. Remove from oven and let cool.

For the filling: Increase the oven to 400ºF. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat; saute onions until translucent. Add chopped kielbasa and cook for about 5 more minutes.

Spray two baking trays with cooking spray. Arrange sliced zucchini and tomatoes on the trays in a single layer and brush with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast the veggie until soft but not browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Lower the oven temperature to 350ºF. Arrange half the zucchini slices on the tart crust in a single layer, overlapping slightly. Spread the onions and kielbasa over the zucchini slices. Sprinkle the onions with 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese. Next, make another layer of the remaining zucchini. Sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella cheese over the zucchini, along with the basil. Layer the tomatoes next, and then sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese to finish. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the vegetables have wilted further. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting. Cut into 8 slices, serve warm.

**For a vegetarian version the sausage can easily be omitted.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Zucchini Gratin

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups sliced zucchini
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
cooking spray
1/4 cup Panko (Japanese style bread crumbs)
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a fairly large saute pan over medium heat. Add the zucchini and cook until tender, tossing and stirring occasionally. When zucchini is just tender, remove from pan and place in a mixing bowl. Add the sliced onions to the saute pan and cook until they just begin to caramelize and turn a pale shade of brown (about 10 minutes on med-low). Add onion to the zucchini in the bowl.

Add scallions, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper to the zucchini and toss gently to combine everything. Spray a shallow baking dish with cooking spray and add the zucchini mixture to the pan. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a small bowl, combine the Panko and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle evenly all over the zucchini. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the topping is evenly golden brown. Serve immediately.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Oatmeal Scotchies

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats
1 package butterscotch chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter with sugars until creamy and well-combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Add flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and mix well.

Gently fold in oats, butterscotch chips and nuts if using.

Drop by cookie scoop onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 12-13 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheets for one minute before removing to a cookie rack to cool completely.

Makes about 40 cookies.

**I use a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop. If you use a smaller portion of dough, be sure and adjust your bake time for your cookies. A 1 tablespoon cookie will take around 8 minutes, give or take a minute.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Jewel's Garlicky Green Beans

1 lb fresh green beans -- cut into 3" pieces
2 TBS butter
3 cloves garlic -- finely minced
1 tsp chicken bouillon granules (not cube!)
1/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste

Steam or boil green beans for 4-5 minutes until crisp-tender.

In medium skillet over medium heat melt butter, add garlic, and saute for 3 minutes or until tender and fragant.

Add green beans, stir well to coat with the butter/garlic mixture, sprinkle chicken bouillon over beans and stir to mix, then saute another 5 minutes to desired doneness.

Turn heat up to medium high, then pour in the wine and let it sizzle and evaporate most of the alcohol. Lower heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and stir thoroughly. Serve immediately!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Beet Risotto with Walnuts and Gorgonzola

2 cups cooked beets -- cut into 3/4 inch cubes
5 cups chicken stock -- or veggie stock
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 shallots -- finely chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
4 ounces gorgonzola cheese
1/3 cup walnuts

In a small pan, bring the chicken or vegetable stock to a near boil with 1 teaspoon sea salt.

In a large pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil with the butter. Add the shallots and saute until soft and clear, about 10 minutes.

Add the arborio rice, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup stock and stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Add more stock, about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring with each addition until fully absorbed-it should take about 20 minutes total.

Before the last ladle of stock is added, stir in the gorgonzola cheese and walnuts.

After the last liquid has been absorbed, add the chopped beets. Let the risotto stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Dilled Potato Soup with Cucumber and Spring Vegetables

4 large red potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups vegetarian vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh green beans
1/2 cup thinly sliced new carrots
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/4 cup fresh dill weed, coarsely chopped
Parmesan cheese and croutons for garnish (optional)

In a soup pot, bring potatoes onions, broth and water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Add salt and pepper, blend potatoes and onions together using an immersion blender. (Alternately, puree in a blender a few cups at a time.)

Add the cucumber, green beans, carrots and milk, simmer for 15 minutes. Add the dill weed and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Ladle into soup bowls, and garnish with Parmesan and croutons if using. For a vegan option eliminate the cheese.

Serves 4.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Creamy Cucumber Salad

4 medium cucumbers -- cut into slices
1 small onion -- thinly sliced
8 ounces sour cream
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a large bowl, combine sour cream, vinegar, sugar, salt & pepper.

Add cucumber and onion slices; gently mix together.

Cover; refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

M&M Dream Bars

2 cups oatmeal (rolled oats work better than quick-cook oats)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, melted
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup M&M's milk chocolate baking bits
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine oatmeal, brown sugar, flour, coconut, baking soda, and salt; add melted butter and stir until moist (the mixture will be somewhat crumbly). Reserve 1 1/2 cups and press remaining crumbs into a greased 13X9-inch baking pan.

Bake 12 minutes at 375°F.

Combine sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter; carefully spread over baked crust. Sprinkle on M&M's and chocolate chips. Sprinkle reserved crumbs over chocolate pieces and lightly press crumbs down.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely before cutting.