Tag Archives: food

Ricotta Crostoni with Peperonata

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When you’re passionate about food, it becomes surprisingly difficult to play favorites. That’s why I have a hard time selecting dishes for this blog; it’s so hard to choose.

That being said, I know I have a winning dish when I make it more than once. I have used this recipe as my go-to for recent potlucks and get togethers with friends. There are only a few ingredients, and the peppers can be made up to three days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. I think you will love this dish because it puts a classic spin on your traditional bruschetta. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Ricotta Crostoni with Peperonta*

*adapted from Nancy Silverton’s Mozza cookbook. This is an Italian must-buy for your cookbook collection!

You will need:

1/2-inch-thick slices from a loaf of pane rustica or another large, flat peasant loaf

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the bread

1 garlic clove

Sea salt (or fleur de sel if you want to be fancy)

fresh coarsely ground black pepper

3 cups fresh ricotta

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh Italian parsley leaves

For the peperonata (makes 1 quart):

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large red onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic (about 10 large cloves)

2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 orange bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 tablespoon Spanish sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons sugar

1 cup Basic Tomato Sauce or Marinara

1/2 cup pitted Nicoise olives

2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh Italian parsley leaves

To make the peperonata:

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until it is almost smoking and slides easily in the pan, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, season with one teaspoon of sea salt and several turns of pepper, and saute, stirring occasionally to prevent the onion and garlic from browning, until the onion is tender and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Add the peppers, season with the remaining teaspoon of salt, and saute until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, oregano, and sugar, and stir to combine the ingredients. Stir in the tomato sauce and cook for about 2 minutes to meld the flavors. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper, if desired.

3. Transfer the peperonata to a large baking dish (at least 9 by 13 inches) or a large, ovenproof skillet and smooth the top with a wooden spoon or spatula to make it level. Place the peperonata in the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir in the olives, and return it to the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is charred, especially around the edges.

4. Remove the peperonata from the oven and allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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To make the ricotta crostoni:

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350° or preheat a sandwich press.

2. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet, brush the tops with olive oil, and back them for 15 to 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown and crisp. Alternatively, brush both sides of the bread slices with olive oil and toast them in a sandwich press.

3. Remove the crostoni from the oven and rub the oiled sides of the crostoni with the garlic. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt.

4. Put the ricotta in a medium bowl and stir vigorously with a spoon to fluff it up. Pile 1/4 cup of ricotta in mounds on each crostoni and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle a teaspoon of parsley, and coarsely grind black pepper over each crostoni.

5. Arrange the crostoni on a serving platter or board and serve with peperonata. Alternatively, you can spoon the peperonata onto each crostoni and serve.

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Sauteed Chard and Gruyere Grilled Cheese

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It’s been raining for days and I couldn’t be happier. Since the weather in San Francisco is so unpredictable during the winter and summer seasons, I get excited when it actually meets my expectations. I spent the majority of this weekend indoors alongside my cozy fireplace, in awe of the storm outside my windows. When it came to dinner time, or any-time snack time, I couldn’t resist this unforgettable grilled cheese recipe from my favorite blog-of-the-hour Sprouted Kitchen. I served this grilled cheese with a mug of carrot-ginger soup, which I picked up from the local grocery store. The combination was heaven, and I spent a total of 15 minutes in the kitchen. Perfect.

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Butterscotch Apple Pie

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Nothing says “holiday classic” like old-fashioned apple pie. I must admit, this was my second attempt ever at baking apple pie from scratch. Although it may seem intimidating, baking a pie is easy if you follow the instructions exactly. That’s the most important part of baking — so you can never skip a step.

This recipe, adapted from Gourmet Holiday, is the perfect accompaniment to any holiday dinner party.  The best part: it only takes 45 minutes of active time, so you can spend the majority of your evening entertaining and relaxing. Also, don’t forget to wear a cute apron (mine came all the way from Sardinia) so that flour doesn’t end up on your new holiday dress.

Butterscotch Apple Pie

Serves 8

You will need:

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

1/8 tsp salt

2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 1/2 lb mixed tart and sweet apples (about 7), peeled, cut into 6 wedges and cored

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Double recipe All-Butter Pastry Dough

1 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into bits

1 large egg beaten with 1 Tbsp warm water

1 Tbsp granulated sugar

Extra equipment:

small pumpkin or leaf-shape cookie cutters (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425° with a baking sheet placed on middle rack.

2. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, then whisk in brown sugar, breaking up any lumps. Gently toss apples with sugar mixture, lemon juice, and vanilla and let stand 5 to 15 minutes to macerate fruit.

3. Roll out 1 piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Roll out remaining dough into a 13-inch round.

3. Transfer filling to shell. Dot with butter, then cover with pastry round. Trim edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang (reserve scraps). Press edges together to seal, then fold under. Lightly brush top crust with some of egg wash, then cut 3 (1-inch-long) vents.

4. Roll out dough scraps about 1/8 inch thick and cut out pumpkin or leaf shapes. Arrange decoratively on top of pie, pressing gently to help adhere. Lightly brush top crust and cutouts with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

5. Bake pie on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 375°F and bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes more. Cool to warm, 2 to 3 hours.

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Green Herb Shrimp with Eggplant Couscous

I have a long-time relationship with shrimp, and usually choose it over chicken. If you can find fresh local jumbo prawns from your local farmers market or Whole Foods, make sure you add it to your  shopping list.

This dish is great for entertaining, but also easy enough for a midweek dinner. I adapted this dish from The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook, and chose it especially for the green herb citrus sauce. I like to make things that are versatile enough to recreate again and again. This sauce is no exception, you truly could serve it with anything.

Green Herb Shrimp with Eggplant Couscous

FOR THE HERB SAUCE:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

4 green onions, white and light green parts, trimmed

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 cloves garlic

2 anchovies (optional)

Juice of 2 limes

FOR THE SHRIMP AND EGGPLANT COUSCOUS:

1 1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4 cups diced globe eggplant (about 2 medium)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat couscous

1/4 cups coarsely chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/3 cup diced feta cheese

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1. In a food processor or blender, combine all of the sauce ingredients and blend until fairly smooth with a few herb flecks. Put half of the sauce in a blow along with the shrimp and set aside to marinate for 1 hour, reserving the other half of the sauce.

2. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a cast-iron pan or large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant and saute until the edges are browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Cook the couscous according to the package insturctions. Transfer the couscous to a large mixing bowl and add the eggplant, the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, the basil, red pepper flakes, feta, and vinegar. Toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat. Cook the shrimp until they just turn pink, about 2 minutes maximum on each side; be careful to avoid overcooking them. Toss the cooked shrimp in the remaining herb sauce and serve with the eggplant couscous.

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Broiled Tofu Tacos

I’m excited about this post for two reasons:

1. I just got a new 50mm fixed lens; the photos in this post are seriously improved.

2. I’ve never used my broiler before, and the results were wonderful. It’s my new favorite cooking method (and fast, too!)

I originally found this recipe in my current favorite vegan book, Pure Vegan (also used here and here), but decided to transform it into tacos. It was really very easy: I followed the recipe straight from the book, and then stuffed it in a crunchy corn tortilla. It’s so good, very light, and healthy. I’m a little obsessed.

Broiled Tofu, Carrot, and Shiitake Mushroom Tacos

*serves 4

You will need:

1.5 pounds of carrots (peeling is not necessary)

1.75 pounds extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry

3 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed

1/4 cup peanut oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp grated peeled fresh ginger

5 green onions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish

lime wedges for garnish

1 package corn tortillas, cooked over an open flame until lightly charred and crispy (about 1 minute per side)

1. Set an oven rack 4 to 5 inches below the broiler and preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

2. Cut the carrots crosswise into 3-inch lengths. Cut the pieces lengthwise to a width of about 1.5 inches. Cut the tofu into 1.5 inch dice. Thinly slice the mushrooms.

3. In a large bowl, combine the peanut oil, soy sauce, salt and ginger. Add the mushrooms and gently toss until evenly coated with the marinade. Transfer the mushrooms to the prepared baking sheet. Put the tofu in the bowl with the remaining marinade and toss to evenly coat.

4. Broil the mushrooms for 5 to 10 minutes, until gender, turning once about halfway through. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and cover to keep warm. Leave the oven on.

5. Add the carrots to the bowl of tofu and toss evenly to coat. Transfer the carrots and tofu to the same baking sheet, reserving the marinade.

6. Broil the carrots and tofu for 20 to 30 minutes, until nicely browned, turning a time or two as needed. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. When done, transfer to the bowl of reserved marinade. Add the mushrooms, green onions, vinegar, and sesame oil and toss gently until evenly coated. Transfer to a large platter or smaller individual dishes and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds before serving.

Optional Step 7: heat corn tortillas over an open flame on your stove until lightly charred and crispy (about 1 minute per side), add tofu mixture and enjoy!

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Mediterranean Supper Club: Vegan Pistachio Tea Cakes

One of the many I reasons I love food is that it brings people together. I recently joined miss delightfulcrab‘s monthly supper club, which occurs on Sunday evenings. Different people take turns hosting the event, and the host chooses the theme: last weekend’s theme was Mediterranean (they have had other awesome themes like “favorite childhood meal” and “colors of the rainbow” and “thai feast”…the creativity goes on and on.)

Mediterranean basically means ANYTHING goes; as long as you can find it somewhere along the Mediterranean sea, you’re good to go! I decided to make Vegan Pistachio Tea Cakes from my favorite new cookbook (also featured in this recipe).

I knew it was a huge risk making something brand new for a group of people, but that didn’t stop me. As usual, it was a scramble to the finish (I felt like I was competing on Top Chef), but I made it on time and the cakes turned out pret-ty good. I bet you can’t tell they’re vegan. I totally recommend this for your next picnic/brunch/anytime. Snack away!

Vegan Pistachio Olive Oil Tea Cakes

You will need a mini-muffin or tea cake pan (makes cute mini bundt cakes), although a 9-inch cake pan works too.

For the cake:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan

2/3 cup shelled pistachios (3 oz), toasted

1/2 cup plain unsweetened soy yogurt

6 oz soft silken tofu

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the topping:

1 orange

1 lemon

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

1/4 cup shelled pistachios (1 1/4 oz), toasted and chopped

 

TO MAKE THE CAKE-

1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Oil the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan, then line with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the bottom of the pan and oil the parchment paper (or use baking spray with flour).

2. In a food processor, pulse the pistachios until finely ground. But don’t over do it, or they’ll turn into nut butter.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yogurt, tofu, sugar, olive oil, and vanilla and beat at medium speed until well combined.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a separate bowl. Add to the tofu mixture and beat until well combined. Add the ground pistachios and beat again until incorporated.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester, bamboo skewer, or toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool briefly, then invert into a wire rack ,remove the pan, and let cool completely.

TO MAKE THE TOPPING-

1. Slice the orange and lemon in half, then cut into 1/4-inch slices. Remove the seeds. In a medium saucepan, combine the orange, lemon, water, sugar, and Grand Marnier. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, then lower the heat, cover and simmer until the fruit is soft and pliable and starting to break down, about 1 hour.

2. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse repeatedly until thick and chunky. Spread the topping evenly over the top of the cake. Garnish with chopped pistachios and pomegranate seeds (optional – I couldn’t find them at the store) before serving.

 

 

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Omelet Wraps: A New Take on Lunch

I am always on the hunt for dishes that are both nutritious and outside the box. It’s the perfect combination: your palette experiences new flavors and your body loves you for it. When I stumbled upon Beatrice Peltre’s La Tartine Gourmande cookbook, I was immediately captivated by her recipes’ expressions of joie de vivre. Her style is inspired by France, but the creativity on each page is what brings her food to life.

I recommend trying everything in this cookbook, as you will be addicted to Peltre’s fresh take on otherwise simple recipes. I attempted Omelet Wraps for lunch this weekend — so crunchy and light, they have quickly become my meal of the moment. I love to play favorites!

Omelet Wraps with Nori and Crunchy Vegetables

Makes 2 thin omelets; serves 4

For the omelets:

6 large eggs

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsely

2 tbsp chipped chives

2 nori sheets, thinly sliced (use a pair of scissors)

Sea salt and pepper

About 3 tbsp olive oil

For the vinaigrette:

Sea salt and pepper

1 tsp French Dijon mustard

1 tbsp Banyuls vinegar

2 tbsp hazelnut oil

For the filling: 

2 heaping tbsp walnuts

2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced

2 carrots, peeled and julienned

1 Belgian endive, heart removed and thinly sliced lengthwise

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced, drizzled with lemon juice to prevent discoloration

1 tbsp finely chopped chives, plus a few more long pieces to tie the omelets

2 oz crumbled French feta cheese

1. To prepare the omelets: In a bowl, beat the eggs. Add the herbs and nori and season with salt and pepper. In a 14-inch non-stick frying pan, heat 1 – 2 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add half of the egg batter, swirling quickly to coat the bottom of the pan, and cook for a few minutes, until the omelet is set. Carefully transfer the omelet onto a plate or cutting board. Repeat with the rest of the egg batter to prepare the second omelet, adding more oil as needed.

2. To prepare the vinaigrette: Add the ingredients to a bowl in the order listed. Whisk to emulsify the dressing; set aside.

3. To prepare the filling: Toast the walnuts in a frying pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly brown. Remove from the heat, let cool, and coarsely chop; set aside.

4. In a bowl, combine the cabbage, carrots, endive, avocado, and chives. Dress with the vinaigrette and add the walnuts and feta. Dress with the vinaigrette and add the walnuts and feta. Place one omelet flat in front of you and add half of the filling at one end. Roll the omelet tight and cut in half. Tie each half with a long piece of chive. Repeat with the second omelet.

Enjoy for lunch…(I wish I could eat this everyday), and don’t forget to brighten your day with a fresh bouquet. 

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