I once had started a project where I thought I might create a smoothie cookbook. So I started jotting down all my flavor ideas and combinations. I was stoked! I came up with a 100 I think. I was excited. Then I started making them.
And that’s when I got discouraged. Or is overwhelmed the right feeling? Anyway, at the time it seemed like such a big endeavor to take on, especially with me being the only one drinking them. Though my smoothie "idea book" is on the back burner for now, I thought I’d share my favorite one of the lot. As it turns out, it also happens to be very much inspired by fall flavors.
RECOMMENDED: Five breakfast meals to go
Cranberries have become my new "go to" smoothie fruit. I love that they are tart, relatively low on the glycemic index and offer all kinds of antioxidants. But I like to eat them because they taste good (and they’re inexpensive). But here’s the surprising part. Even though they are tart, I find that if I add them to a smoothie, I’m less likely to add other sweeteners, like honey or maple. It’s supposed to be tart, so why change it? And, I love the tart flavor. It’s refreshing.
Fall cranberry pear smoothie
1 cup frozen cranberries
2 medjool dates, pitted
1 cup unsweetened almond milk, or milk of choice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon all spice
Throw it all in the blender and whirl it until smooth. Add a couple ice cubes if not thick enough, but I find just the frozen cranberries are enough. Drink up.
RECOMMENDED: Five breakfast meals to go
Related post on Beyond the Peel: 9 Incredible Fruit Smoothies To Jump Start Your Day
As my season at the tower is coming to an end, I have so much to be grateful for. Overall, it was a great season. Translation: The bugs weren’t too bad. (Seriously, such a blessing.)
But there was other stuff, too. The noise they told me about – coming from all the industry that has popped up around the tower – wasn’t bad and some days almost none existent. Bonus! The road coming out to the tower has been well maintained so going into town was more regular than it had been in the past. Translation? Running out of food was rarely a problem except for that one time when I panicked. But I learned my lesson and realized I could get through just about anything.
I managed to have decent Internet out at the cabin which is saying a lot since it’s in the middle of nowhere. It came at a cost, but I’m still grateful. After all, it’s the reason I was able to share all my creations over the past five months with all of you. I had a lot of fun for a couple of months experimenting with eating Vegan and I learned so much.
RECOMMENDED: Are you a real foodie? Take our quiz!
I then was able to source great local organic produce, farm fresh eggs, and brought in grass-fed and pastured meats. It’s amazing what a person can find when they're looking. After all, these scones were made possible because of the hard work these local farmers did to provide me with such nourishing flavorful food. Our nightly dinners as a couple prompted this post and also our meal plans.
What else? Oh, yesterday I saw a momma bear with three cubs! That was a first for me and pretty cool to see. And, the wild blueberries had an amazing year because of all the moisture. Actually all the berries were delicious, as were the wild pin cherries and wild cranberries.
There was some sadness, too. I lost my father and my dog within a couple of months of one another. I’m glad it happened while I was surrounded by the tranquility and peace that only being among the trees can bring. As my boss once said to me, “trees are very powerful.” He isn’t wrong. So there was a lot of healing, too. For that I will always be grateful.
With the season coming to a close, it’s time to get back to creative, fast, and easy meals. Double this recipe as necessary to feed your group. This meal cooks on one big baking sheet, comes out all at once, and is as fuss free as they come. A little marinade, broil and serve.
I decided to throw in some gorgeous garden tomatoes from my sister’s garden. I don’t think it could have been more perfect. Sweetness, acidity, and tartness from the tomatoes. Minty fresh and garlicky boldness from the marinade. All balanced out with a mild meaty fillet and a sparsely seasoned eggplant, to not compete. The satiating fats were brought in with the yogurt sauce. I used it liberally on everything. I hope you’ll give this a try for a quick weeknight dinner.
Mint and lime mahi mahi
2 mahi mahi fillets
6 mint leaves
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper
1. Chop the mint and mince the garlic. In a bowl, mix together the mint garlic, oil, and lime juice. Place the fillets in a airtight bag or shallow container and pour in the marinade. Let sit for at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.
2. Set oven to broil. Remove the fillets from the marinade. Set the Mahi Mahi fillets on the baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil the fish until cooked through and the flesh begins to flake, about 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the fillets.
Recipe notes: I served this with eggplant. To do the same, cut eggplant into 1/2 inch slices. Brush both sides with olive oil. Season one side with salt and pepper. Lay slices along side the fish and broil at the same time, flipping the slices of eggplant halfway through the cooking time. Zucchini would make a nice substitution as well.
Dill yogurt sauce
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the yogurt, dill, chives, lemon juice, and honey. Mix to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. If you prefer a thinner sauce, it can be thinned out with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Serve along side fish and eggplant if serving.
RECOMMENDED: Are you a real foodie? Take our quiz!
Related post on Beyond the Peel: Poached Halibut with Fennel Cucumber Mint Salad
The weather this past Sunday was the perfect beginning-of-fall warm with a hint of crisp in the air. I got all excited about autumn ingredients at the store, and brainstormed this hot (or cold) bulgar salad in the aisle of Trader Joe's. Butternut squash, beets, kale, and apples – it reads like a autumn CSA bag-of-veggies-list.
The following recipe is vegetarian, and could be vegan if you omitted the cheese. However, as I enjoyed it on my couch while watching "Top Chef Masters," I thought that crispy bacon top would be amazing. And if bulgar isn't your jam, you could use any grain (rice, quinoa, couscous, wheatberries, etc.). For me, a big part of settling into a new life routine is finding a food routine that works.
And we all know that getting established food-wise is a bother – staples, snacks, condiments! I have spent so much at grocery stores recently. I feel like these things should just exist without me having to do anything. And then there's the questions of where do I shop, how often can I shop, what do I make, and what kinds of food do I need? I moved just over a month ago, and I'm finally figuring things out. My class schedule is all over the place, so every day is different – sometimes I'm at school for just one class in the morning, sometimes I'm there all day and into the night. And the issue with that is lunch.
I don't like buying lunch because (a) I'm not a big sandwich person; (b) it's not usually that good; (c) it costs money; which directly corresponds with (d) I have no income. (Student life, woot woot!) And though I could join all of the on-campus clubs, thereby ensuring myself a steady supply of free pizza, ain't nobody got time for that.
So! To solve my mid-day meal problems, I experimented with Tupperware-friendly "purse food" possibilities, and came up with this salad. As I said, it's good hot or cold, and this recipe makes about 6 servings. It's really easy to make, and as with all my real-food recipes, you can switch out any veggies/cheese/grain/spice combo you like.
Gorgonzola butternut bulgar
1-1/2 cups dry bulgar (i.e. one Trader Joe's 10-minute bag of bulgar)
3 cups butternut squash cubed
1 apple, cut into chunks about the same size as the squash
1 beet, cut into chunks about half the size of the squash (because beets take longer to roast)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds kale (it started as about 12-16 cups and cooked down to about 3)
1 can black beans
slivered almonds (optional, to sprinkle on top)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. For the kale: Rip or cut kale into smallish pieces and stuff into a large pot with a lid. Add a splash of water. Turn the stove on to medium-low, and let it cook with the top on for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding more water if it looks like it's burning or drying out.
3. For the roasted veggies: While the kale is cooking, on a large baking sheet, use your hands to toss butternut squash, apple, beet, onion, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes (or until done), tossing with a spatula every 10 minutes.
5. For the bulgar: Prepare according to package instructions (it cooks the same as rice, and takes 10-15 minutes)
6. Assembly: Add everything to the big pot with the kale (which will have cooked down a lot), add black beans (drained), and mix thoroughly. For serving, sprinkle with gorgonzola cheese and almond slivers.
7. Storing: Spoon into Tupperware and store in the freezer. Defrost and reheat when ready to eat.
Related post on Eat. Run. Read: Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts
For some people, birthdays aren't really a big deal. I have never been one of those people.
My birthday is the first week of September, so after July 4 passes, it's the next big holiday on my calendar, and I can officially start planning my cake. (As previously stated, there is no shame in baking your own birthday cake.) After much deliberation, I decided to modify a Peppermint Patty Cake by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. I'm not a huge fan of chocolate and peppermint together, but I had been looking high and low for a recipe for a chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting so I could use sugared flowers for decorations, and I figured leaving out the mint flavored-ingredients in this recipe wouldn't be too difficult.
I'm a huge fan of modifications, substitutions, and experimentation in cooking, but not so much for baking. Everyone knows baking is the most delicious branch of science, and requires equal parts concentration, precision, and perspiration. So adapting this recipe made me nervous – really nervous.
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For the cake, I swapped 10 whole miniature Peppermint Patties for 5 blocks (or 1 8-ounce box) of semi-sweet baker's chocolate. I also left out the mint extract. For the frosting, I swapped the mint extract for vanilla extract, and used 1 vanilla bean instead of two, and increased the baking time.
I removed my cakes from the oven fully baked, not burned, and doubly chocolatey, feeling a mixture of pride and astonishment that I didn't totally mess this one up. Then came the disastrous removal of the cakes from their pans. The Pioneer Woman warns that these cakes stick badly, but I was confident my buttered and floured nonstick pans would be fine. Alas, my cakes chipped, crumbled, and cracked upon removal. I should have heeded my mother's nagging voice in the back of my head warning me to never, ever, ever, EVER bake a layer cake without cutting wax paper circles to fit the bottom of your cake pans. After some deep-breathing exercises I calmly saved the cake crumbs, and resolved to spackle everything back together with frosting.
The next morning a moment of inspiration struck and I decided to use the leftover cake crumbs as the center of my "sunflowers" in the decorating process. Sunflower petals are 100 percent edible, and with a quick egg white wash and a sprinkle of sugar they were ready to go. While not quite as professional-looking as the decorated cake I made last year, I thought my sunflower topped-cake came out pretty darn cute (never mind that beneath all the frosting the cake was in about 20 pieces).
Oh, and did I mention it was delicious?! The cake was moist and extra-chocolatey, but the real star was the vanilla bean buttercream frosting. Set aside your concerns about 4 sticks of butter (it's your birthday after all!) because this icing is heavenly and worth every calorie.
I read up on the "crumb layer" in the frosting process, where you frost the cake thinly to trap all the crumbs, then refrigerate it for half an hour, and frost it again for a more beautiful finish. This frosting works great for this process, hardening up nicely. I could also see how the mint extract would work well with it's subtle vanilla flavor, if you are a Peppermint Patty type of person and want to give that version of this cake a whirl.
Double chocolate layer cake
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman's peppermint patty cake with vanilla mint frosting
1 cup boiling water
2 sticks butter
4 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 box (8 ounces) semi-sweet baker's chocolate
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Sugared sunflower petals
1 large sunflower
1 egg white
3-4 tablespoons granulated sugar
Special supplies: small paint brush and wax paper
Vanilla bean buttercream frosting
6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
4 sticks butter, softened
1 large vanilla bean, caviar scraped out
1 dash salt
4 tablespoons half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two round cake pans. Cut two circles of wax paper and line bottoms of floured cake pans.
2. In a small saucepan or the microwave, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt 2 sticks of butter and whisk in 4 tablespoons cocoa. Pour in boiling water, let the mixture bubble up for 30 seconds, then turn the burner to low. Add baker's chocolate and stir until melted. Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool.
3. In a measuring cup mix together the buttermilk, baking soda, eggs, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Pour chocolate mixture into the bowl, stirring to slightly cool it. Pour in the buttermilk mixture and whisk until smooth.
5. Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until done (my baking time was closer to 22-25 minutes). Remove cakes from oven, and let cool in pans 2-3 minutes. Carefully run a butter knife around the edges of each pan, using pot holders, invert cakes on wire cooling rack, peel off wax paper, let cool completely.
6. Make the sugared flowers: Pluck all the petals from from the sunflower. Rinse thoroughly in a colander, and pat dry with a paper towel. Separate egg white into small bowl, and measure sugar into another. Spread a piece of wax paper on your work surface.
7. Working in small batches, 5 or 6 petals at a time, use the paintbrush to apply egg white to both sides of each petal. Place them on wax paper as you work, and when you have a few brushed, "dip" or drag them in the bowl of sugar. Repeat until all petals are sugared. Leave them spread out on wax paper until ready to use.
8. Make the frosting: Measure and sift powdered sugar into large bowl. (If you're like me, and don't have a sifter, use a whisk to break up any clumps of sugar.) In bowl of stand mixer (or with hand mixer) beat the butter until fluffy. Slice open the vanilla bean, scrape out caviar, and add it to the bowl. Slowly add powdered sugar; turn off mixer completely, add a little sugar, then mix on a low for a minute until sugar is incorporated, then mix on high for a minute. Repeat until all sugar is mixed, then add salt, and beat until fluffy. Add half-and-half and vanilla extract and beat until totally fluffy.
9. Decorate the cake: Level the first layer, and place it flattest side up on a platter or cake stand. Set aside the extra cake crumbs. Slide little strips of wax paper under the first layer of cake to keep your plate clean of icing. Spread a good layer of icing on top of the first layer of cake. Level the second layer of cake, and place it flattest side up on top of the first layer. Thinly ice the top and sides of the cake, leaving a good amount of icing in the bowl (and being sure not to mix cake crumbs in the icing bowl).
10. Refrigerate the cake for at least half an hour. Do not refrigerate the frosting. (Now's a good time to tackle cleaning up part of your kitchen.) Remove the cake from fridge, and frost the top and sides again, as smoothly as you can. Decorate with flower petals and cake crumbs, or a frosting decorator, or any other decorations you wish. Remove the wax paper and let cake come to room temperature before serving.
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Nothing says fall like college football. Whether you've scored student tickets and are cheering on your team from the stands, or you're reliving your glory days from the couch, chances are you've got a favorite game day snack.
Maybe it's nachos with three types of cheese in honor of the Wisconsin Badgers, blackened chicken Louisiana State University style, or mango salsa for the University of Miami. We're talking about those tried and true football recipes that have been with you through the good times and the bad – the tailgates that got rained out, the championship games that ended in euphoria, and the never-ending patience of rebuilding seasons.
Here at Stir It Up! we love a good tailgate or a watch party, and we know good eats go a long way at either – no matter who's winning. So when Todd Blackledge's "Taste of the Town" came across our desk we knew we'd scored big. The book is a spin-off from Mr. Blackledge's "Taste of the Town" segment on ESPN. A former quarterback for Penn State and the Kansas City Chiefs and a college football analyst, Blackledge began airing visits to his favorite restaurants while on assignment in college towns. "Taste of the Town" took off overnight.
"For 15 years I had worked diligently to carve my own niche as a respected college football analyst, and in a few short weeks I had become better known as a food guy than a football guy," Blackledge reveals in the introduction to his cookbook. He has over the past five years covered 60 different restaurants in a minute or less, leaving many details on the cutting room floor.
"This cookbook gives me an opportunity to expand on my thoughts about and memories of the people I met, the food I ate, and the character and charm I sensed inside so many of those place," he says.
RECOMMENDED: 20 easy game day recipes
The cookbook is a round-up of more than 100 favorites from restaurants and colleges nationwide, divided into sections by school. The recipes are full of regional flavor, from Dead End ribs from the University of Tennessee, to eggplant parmigiana for Boston College. The chapter we found most inspiring is a round-up of favorite recipes from coaches, past and present. To kick off our contest, we tested a buffalo chicken dip from Mississippi State University (it goes without saying that all the recipes can be used to cheer on any team). The verdict? Delicious!
Quick and easy, this recipe only uses five ingredients. It's also a good way to use leftover chicken. Don't have blue cheese salad dressing on hand? Substitute crumbled blue cheese mixed with ranch dressing instead. This dip also has quite a bite! To tone it down, go easy on the buffalo wing sauce.
Garnished with chopped green onion and loaded into a slow cooker set to low, this dip was ready when the Florida Gators took on the Tennessee Volunteers this past weekend. Served with corn chips, blue corn tortilla chips, and celery sticks, a crowd of hungry Gators all liked the warm, cheesy dip and commented on its piquant heat.
The tailgating recipe challenge: How to enter
Send your favorite tailgating or game day recipe to email@example.com. Please include an ingredient list, step-by-step numbered instructions, along with your name, hometown, and e-mail address. We also want to hear your football story, is the recipe tied to your college team? Your hometown team? An old family favorite? Please submit your recipe and football story by October 7. We will contact the winner. The winner's recipe will appear in Stir It Up! and he or she will receive a signed copy of "Taste of the Town" by Todd Blackledge. (This contest is not open to employees of CSMonitor.com or their families.)
Show us your creations: We love food photos. So feel free to send us photos of your game day recipes or your football memories. (Hint: natural light works best. For reproduction on the Web, photos should be 600 x 400 DPI.) Pin your photo on Pinterest or tweet your Instagram picture using the hashtag #tailgatingchallenge. Follow us on Pinterest and Twitter for contest updates.
We look forward to hearing from you! If you have any questions, please feel to be in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekend buffalo chicken dip
Reprinted with permission from "Taste of the Town" by Todd Blackledge and J.R. Rosenthal
By Dan Mullen, Mississippi State University
1 12-ounce block cream cheese
1 cup buffalo wing sauce
1 large can of chicken (found on the tuna aisle) or 1 cup cooked chicken, diced
1 cup blue cheese dressing [*editor's note: may substitute Ranch dressing]
2 cups shredded sharp cheese – more for sprinkling
Optional: chopped green onion for garnishing, corn chips and celery sticks for serving
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the cream cheese.
2. Stir in the buffalo sauce, blue cheese dressing, chicken, and shredded cheese – in that order. Stir constantly for 5 minutes, until all the ingredients are combined.
3. Pour dip into slow cooker and sprinkle with more cheese and green onions if using. Serve with celery sticks and corn chips.
RECOMMENDED: 20 easy game day recipes
I know that for most of you out there frosting is your favorite part of the cake eating experience. And though I'm more of a cake girl myself (I value a reasonable frosting-to-cake ratio), I bake for friends, so I know what's up. More frosting is always appreciated.
This strawberry cream cheese frosting is delightful. You know when you stick your finger into something you've made for a taste and immediately think (or say) wow? That is this frosting. It has fresh strawberries and jam, so take advantage of those end-of-summer berries while you can! Pretty soon we're going to be all pumpkin all the time.
I used this frosting on these vegan chocolate cupcakes (my favorite chocolate cake recipe). I imagine it would also go well with a white cake, or lemon cake. This recipe makes enough for one cake (two to three layers), or for a batch of cupcakes. You could also adapt it for any fresh berry/jam combo like blueberries or raspberries.
*Editor's Note: Looking for cupcake ideas to go with this frosting? Here are a few of our favorites from Mollie and others:
Strawberry cream cheese frosting
1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
6 fresh strawberries, very finely chopped
3 tablespoons strawberry jam or jelly
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk, as needed
1. Beat the cream cheese, butter, fresh strawberries, and jam with a hand mixer or stand mixer until fairly smooth, (the fresh strawberries will be a little chunky).
2. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla.
3. Add milk if the frosting is too thick.
4. Spread on everything!
Related post on Eat. Run. Read.: Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Fresh Strawberries
I found this recipe on Godiva.com years and years ago. It's no longer on their site as they refresh and rotate recipes around. I'm glad I snagged this when I did. I suppose you could call this a turtle shortbread since it has all the key turtle elements: nuts, caramel, and chocolate.
Actually, I've been on a turtle kick lately (the confection, not the sea creature) as you'll see with this shortbread and (upcoming) turtle cookies and turtle cake. Coincidence, I assure you, or simply my love of caramel and chocolate together.
Now I did change the recipe to make it more turtle confection-like because the original recipe called for baking this as a round shortbread, filling it with the pecan filling, baking it, then covering with ganache, and piping white chocolate decoratively on top. I even remember the original picture of this from long ago where it looked very pretty and professional.
I didn't choose to go that route. Instead, I put the shortbread dough into a rectangular tart instead of a round one for easier portioning out to give away and par-baked the shortbread layer so it would brown and bake first. I was afraid that if I filled the unbaked shell with the caramelized pecan filling, the time the shell would need to bake would be longer than I wanted to bake the filling. I wanted a soft caramel filling, not a hardened caramelized one. That turned out to be a good call as I got some nice browning on the shortbread by par-baking and only needed another 15 minutes to bake it with the filling before the pecans achieved the toastiness I wanted.
I left the original recipe below for anyone who does want to make this as a round confection and go the pretty route with the white chocolate piping on top. Me, I'm of the belief you can't go wrong with caramel paired with chocolate so after I spread the ganache over the cooled pecan shortbread tart, I also dolloped salted caramel (from Trader Joe's but you can also make your own if you're inclined) on top, then sprinkled it with mini chocolate chips.
The beauty about baking is you can't really go wrong with what you choose to mix and match. Yes, you should follow the recipe to make the crust, the filling and the ganache so each element will turn out properly, but you can choose to either do what I did and add a caramel layer or leave it out and go with white chocolate. Either way, it will be good.
I brought these into work and they went fairly quickly. Because I couldn't stack the pieces (the ganache was too soft), I brought them in on two paper plates. Both plates emptied before the morning was over. And I had co-workers mentioning them to me the day of, and days later as being good, so that's a good sign.
Chocolate pecan caramel shortbread
1-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup pecan halves
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 ounce white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1. Make the shortbread crust: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
2. Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder
3. In a medium bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix at low speed until combined. While continuing to mix at low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches, mixing just until the dough starts to come together.
4. Scrape the dough into a 9-1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Using your fingertips, press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Set the crust aside. Alternatively, you can choose to parbake for 15-20 minutes or until crust is very lightly golden brown before you add the filling.
5. Make the pecan filling: In a small saucepan, place the butter, honey, sugar, and brown sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue to boil the mixture for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pecan halves. Stir in the cream. Pour the pecan mixture into the prepared crust and bake for 30 minutes (15-20 minutes if you've parbaked the crust first). Cool the tart on a wire rack for hour.
6. Make the chocolate topping: In a small saucepan, combine the cream and sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the chocolate chips. Whisk the mixture until smooth. Set aside 1/3 cup of the topping in the refrigerator for garnish.
7. Garnish the shortbread: Pour the warm chocolate topping over the top of the tart and spread it evenly with a small metal cake spatula.
8. Place the tart uncovered in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to set the chocolate. Melt the white chocolate.
9. Fill a small parchment cone with the melted chocolate. Pipe the chocolate in fine lines across the top of the tart in a crisscross pattern.
10. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip (such as Ateco #5) with the reserved chocolate topping. Pipe 8 rosettes around the edge of the tart. Top each rosette with a pecan half.
Because I work with people in the food industry, I’ve developed friendships that have tasty benefits. After work sessions or photo shoots, I’ve found myself with hundreds of spices, pounds of chocolate, or dozens of bags of coffee. Yes, I know, tough job.
My friend Kathy is a multi-talented chef, advertising executive, world traveler, and blogger. Every time we connect, she has a new adventure to report from teaching cooking classes in Provence to recipe-testing for famous chefs. Kathy is almost never empty handed. She bestows unbelievable, unexpected treats from miniature cookies to dozens of vanilla beans to a box full of pączki. Though I’ve become accustomed to her generosity, I was still floored by her most recent offering.
When Kathy jumped in to my car to head to a lunch date, she held up a bag filled with unidentifiable redish blocks wrapped in plastic. “I brought you four pounds of lamb. I ground it myself!” Of course she did. Kathy had been at a photo shoot for a meat consultant where they were working on posters explaining butchery methods. Due to my affinity for Greek food, Kathy knew I could made use of the lamb.
Moussaka was the obvious choice, but without time for the meticulous process one weeknight evening, I searched recipes for lamb burgers. I stumbled on this recipe from our favorite spiky-haired celebrity chef, Ann Burrell, and liked the idea of all the fresh dill and mint. I’m not always keen on the strong lamb flavor and thought that the herbs and citrus would lighten it up.
Though I altered Anne’s recipe a touch making it simpler and faster, I used it as a guide and was thrilled with the result. The burgers tasted like delectable restaurant fare. They would also be nice as sliders at a party.
I’ve made these two more times since the original batch, and have served them to guests. Even if you don’t love lamb, you might find, like I did, that you want to add them to your repertoire to offer a little twist on the usual burgers. Horiatiki would be a nice accompaniment. And, if you really want to go Greek, tackle this sinful dessert.
Lamb burgers with feta spread
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely smashed
1 pound ground lamb
1/2 cup, finely chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup, finely chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons dried Greek oregano
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
4 hamburger buns
Feta spread – 1 cup plain, Greek yogurt combined with 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
For garnish – tomato and red onion slices
1. Heat olive oil in a medium pan, cook onions for 2 minutes over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the lamb, the onion mixture, herbs lemon zest and 1/2 cup water. Sprinkle with salt and combine well. Shape into 4 patties.
3. Grill burgers on medium high heat for about 3-4 minutes per side or to desired doneness. Remove the burgers and let them rest while you prepare the buns. Add a large dollop of feta spread to each and top with desired fixings.
Related post on Whipped, the Blog: Galaktoboureko: Greek Custard Phyllo Pie in Citrus Syrup
I came up with this delectable salad the other night while frantically trying to pull some sort of dinner together after discovering that we were out of hotdogs (it's not all gorgeous meals and slow-cooked food around here).
After sulking about the lack of hotdogs for a while, inspiration struck: zucchini fritters! I got a batch of them sizzling in the cast iron skillet and turned back to the fridge where a nice big bunch of fresh arugula from our CSA caught my eye.
I had to keep it simple since the kids were hungry and it was almost time for the baby's bath but I did take a few minutes to candy some pecans in butter, maple syrup, salt and garam masala. These candied pecans are the bomb! MWWAAHHH – I kiss my fingers at you in an Italian-style expression of appreciation for their deliciousness.
Then I chopped some dried cherries, squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, salt and black pepper over it all and tossed it to ensure that the crunchy, spicy, sweet bites would be nicely mixed in with the lemony, peppery greens.
A good meal was had by all. (And I have since bought a big package of organic hot dogs, too, just in case.)
Lemony arugula salad with candied pecans & dried cherries
Large bunch of arugula, washed and dried
1/2-3/4 cup candied pecans (see recipe below)
1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon (you can add more if the lemon is not super juicy)
A glug of olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Make the candied pecans.
2. While they're cooling, wash and dry the arugula then toss it with the olive, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste (adjust if you think it needs more lemon, oil, salt, etc.) Then throw in the cherries and the cooled pecans, toss again and serve!
Spiced candied pecans
2-1/2 cups raw pecans
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, stir the pecans with the egg white.
3. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and salt. Pour over the nuts and stir until evenly coated.
4. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
5. Slide parchment paper (with nuts still on it) off of the baking sheet and onto a wire rack (or the counter) to cool.
6. Break nuts up into a bowl to serve or store at room temperature in an airtight container.
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My mom is a big fan of fritters. When my brother and I were growing up, she used to make us the most delicious corn fritters and Scottish-inspired oatcakes for breakfast in the mornings. So I had her in mind when I decided to whip up a batch of zucchini fritters for dinner. These fritters are pretty easy to make and very tasty. They'd make a good side dish for dinner or a nice lunch with a salad.
I recommend serving them with sour cream or plain yogurt as well as something sweet. When my sister-in-law, Julie, makes these fritters, she serves them with her delicious homemade loquat chutney (click here for the recipe).
One other suggestion is to add some fresh corn to the batter – the kernels would provide a nice touch of crunchy sweetness and would complement the basil, onion, and Parmesan.
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Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as an appetizer
1 lb. of zucchini (about 2 medium-sized or 4 small), coarsely grated
1 large egg or 2 small
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 scallions or 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley, dill or basil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (optional, but very tasty)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup canola or peanut oil
1. Salt the zucchini with about 1 teaspoon of salt and set it in a colander to drain. After about 10 minutes, press down on the mixture with your hands to remove more of the liquid.
2. Beat the egg in a large bowl then add the zucchini, flour, scallions, herbs, cheese and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Mix well to ensure that there are no clumps of flour.
3. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet (cast iron works best) over medium heat. Drop six large spoonfuls of batter (they should be roughly 2 tablespoons each) into the skillet and press down slightly with the spoon to flatten them. Cook, turning once, until browned, 4-6 minutes on each side. Transfer them to a plate lined with a used brown paper bag to absorb the excess oil. As you remove the finished fritters from the skillet, replace them with new batter and start the process again.
4. Serve hot with the sour cream or yogurt and chutney or applesauce on the side.
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