Tomato Caper Bruschetta

I was about to crawl under a blanket in front of the TV and watch the latest recorded episode of House, when I decided the regular TV snacks won't do it for me tonight. I poured a glass of Tempranillo while patiently waiting for the french bread to toast and to load it with a heap of pungent smelling tomato mixture I chopped and mixed together. A few minutes later back on the couch, debating if I should have borrowed one of E's bibs, I knew I made the right choice of snack.

Tomato Caper Bruschetta

4 half-inch thick slices of french bread
5-6 small tomatoes, off the vine
2 tbsp julienned basil
1 tbsp small capers, drained
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp of sugar

Toast the bread slices until edges are turning golden at 350F ( about 10 minutes). Chop tomatoes into cubes about 2 cm across. In a bowl mix tomatoes, with seeds, with basil, capers, balsamic and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for about 5 minutes for the flavors to combine. Place heaps of the mixture on the toasted bread and return to the oven for about 10 to 15 additional minutes.


Smoked Salmon

The husband was missing the good weather, and now that the snow has melted finally was able to get to his smoker. This is his creation for last night's dinner of smashed young garlic potatoes and micro-greens salad.


Kitchen Garden

I took advantage of the bad weather and everyone but me taking a nap by setting out some seeds for the garden this year.

What's growing:

  • Lavender - Lady variety
  • Summer Squash Fordhook
  • Beet Detroit Dark Red
  • Bell Pepper - California Wonder
  • Lemon Balm
  • Basil - Fineleaf Dwarf Bush and Sweet varieties
  • Spearmint
  • Pea - Little Marvel and Thomas Laxton
  • Eggplant
  • Cilantro
  • Radish - French Breakfast

Coming soon:

  • Seedlings for 9 tomato varieties from Verrill farms
  • Pickling cucumber seedlings courtesy of husband

Chocolat and Hot Chocolate

The movie and the accompaniment.


This soup always makes me feel better and is very easy to make, which makes it workable when you don't feel so hot over the hot stove. Most of the veggies are done just enough to enjoy their flavor, and not turn them into mush. Nothing worse then attempting to eat something texture-less when you have lost your control of your taste buds already.

Serves 4

4 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cauliflower head, broken up into florets
1 carrot, sliced into circles (thickness of 2 nickels)
1/4 cup of dry porcini mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup of rice
1/2 cup of frozen fresh peas
1 tsp flour
cilantro sashay
coriander powder
fennel powder

Bring chicken stock to a boil and change to medium heat. Add rice and mushrooms and let boil for 5 minutes. Add in the cauliflower and carrots and let boil for 6 minutes. Temper flour with a little of the soup in a cup and then add back to the pot (so it doesn't form into a lump, but actually serves to thicken). Add in herbs and cilantro. After 2 minutes remove the cilantro and turn off the heat. Add in the frozen peas. Serve with heavy cream.


Stuffed Cabbage with a Tomato Cream Sauce

I felt like a home-y Russian dinner yesterday, preferably one that would extend in leftovers into the next day, so I decided on Golubtzi, or stuffed cabbage. These have an interesting reputation. I would say they even have a bad rep with some people I know! I was a picky eater as a child, and I loved these then as I do now, so I am not sure where all the hate comes from. Yes, cabbage is stinky when cooked. However, when cooked right, it takes on a sweet and mellow. That's a great combination with the sweet and sour tomato cream base it rests on.

1/2 lb of ground turkey
1/2 lb of ground beef (80% lean)
1 cup of rice (measure before cooking)
fennel and dill seed

Cook the rice in 2 cups of water until about half way done. Drain and let cool. Mix all the ingredients together.

1 cabbage, core removed

In a pasta pot (for easy draining) boil water until boiling and add salt. Slowly lower in the whole cabbage, sans the core. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Let cool and slowly peel off the leaves, one by one. They should be pliable. The closer to the core you get the less pliable they'll be. If necessary, repeat the boiling process to soften the leaves some more. Some cooks don't boil the cabbage at all. Instead they put the whole head into the freezer for 24 hours and then thaw the cabbage. This achieve the same pliable texture, however something about the post-freezer cabbage (and most other vegetables) doesn't appeal to me.

Cut each leaf in half, removing the center "vein" (thick part). Place a small amount of stuffing in the center of the precut leaf, fold over the sides onto the stuffing and roll to form a cigar like package. Line a ceramic or glass baking sheet with made "cigars" so that they fit very tightly.

The baking process
1 tbsp sugar
About 1 cup of salted tomato juice

Mix the two ingredients and pour over the tightly packed stuffed cabbage rolls. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes to an hour at 375F. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 7 minutes, just so the tops get color but the liquid doesn't dry out.

Tomato Cream Sauce
1/2 cup tomato juice
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp heavy cream

Mix the tomato juice with sugar to dissolve. Add the tomato paste and cream, mix until of smooth consistency. Season with salt to taste. This sauce is meant to be cool or at room temperature and can be made ahead.


Frenched Rack of Lamb with Wild Rice Pilaf and Roasted Vegetables

I can't believe I made lamb. I can't believe I ate it after I made it. I can't believe I liked it. I did. It was Australian lamb, which may have something to do with it. I usually stay away from the game-iness of it, but the Frenched rack looked so pretty.

I served the chops with towered wild rice pilaf topped with roasted garlic and carrot varietals, such as the regular orange, the pretty purple and the parsnip.

Roasted Vegetables
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 purple carrot
  • 3 parsnips
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Peel and cut carrots and parsnips in have and into wedges. As much as possible make the pieces similar sizes which will assure they cook evenly. Dry them well, this will guarantee caramelization. Salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with olive oil. Add cleaned garlic cloves. Mix to coat well and place into the oven at 400F for 30 minutes.

  • Lamb: Trader Joe's meat freezer (25 minutes at 350F)


Gnocchi with Langoustine Tails in Beurre Blanc

French food mill and no where to go...I decided to try it out today but as usual without any ideas of what to make until I was actually turning it with potato puree. I decided on gnocchi. Today was also the first time I made beurre blanc, the right way, i.e. no cream. This turned out a great meal and I am barely breathing, but wanted to post before I forget.

Beurre Blanc
Adapted from Foodista, hold the water, minus 2tbsp of butter...

Steamed Langoustine Tails combined with Gnocchi
2 very large russet potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, extra large
white pepper
1/4 cup canola oil

Boil peeled, quartered potatoes, until soft. Run through a fine food mill. Invert the potato onto a board and make a well in the middle. Mix in 1 cup of the flour, salt, pepper and 1 egg. Mix in the egg and start kneading gently until a ball starts forming. As needed add in more flour just to prevent sticking (less flour = lighter gnocchi). Roll into 3/4 inch thick dowels and cut into 3/4 inch pieces. If you prefer, check out google for the different ways of "finishing" gnocchi. These usually help hold the sauce. I however, left them in the pillow shapes I cut them into. Throw gnocchi into salted water with canola oil on rolling boil for 1 minute, or until they float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and plate.


New kitchen toy!

I received my Lekue Makisu mat in the mail today and had to celebrate the occasion by making maki. I still need to try out my new french food mill...stay tuned.

Glad we have a place around the corner where on a whim I can pick up fresh yellow tail that made the maki worth having. I am a little rusty at rolling but I think by my third roll I was back in the swing of things. Husband took the pictures, fishy hands and all. The mat is great, but not essential. I would say it's not as rigid as a bamboo mat, however allows to get the rolls tight enough.

Above: Yellow tail maki with wasabi tobiko, daikon and shiso leaf

Below: Maki in progress, unagi (fresh water eel), mango, sesame seeds and daikon atop the Lekue mat


Happy Purim!

I have my mom to thank for bringing over these fresh hamentashen. They were still a little warm when I took a bite after dinner and wafting vanilla from the center of the table. Wonderful crumbly sweet crust, and tart plum preserve center...mmm, I am going to have another.

I don't have a recipe to post along with these, but I intend to find out and report back, if she'll agree to sharing the family secret.


Mango pea rissotto with Butterflied Coconut Shrimp

The coconut shrimp I decided to make inspired the side dish of the mango risotto. It was very tropical, although not something I'd eat in hot weather. So think a dinner in the tropics and shovelling snow all in the same couple of hours...

Mango Risotto with Peas
  • 1/2 mango, sliced
    1/4 cup, shelled peas
  • 1/4 cup, snow peas in pods
  • 1 cup of short grain rice
  • 2 cups of stock (I used chicken)
  • 1 tbsp butter

Melt butter in a pot / large saucepan. Throw in the dry rice and mix with a wooden spoon to coat it in butter. Toast while mixing for about 1 minute. Add in 1 cup of the stock and mango pieces ( I added these at this point because my mango wasn't very ripe, I would wait until you start adding the rest of the stock, if you have a ripe mango). Continue to mix the rice on medium heat until most of the liquid is evaporated and add a little of the remaining stock as a time allowing each time for the stock to evaporate. This is a slow process but is really worth it for the creamy risotto. When the rice is "al dente" add in the peas and snow peas and continue to cook until soft and creamy. If you find that your rice isn't done and you've used all of your stock, have some on reserve to keep adding more until the rice is well cooked.

Butterflied coconut shrimp
  • 1 lb raw shrimp, deveined butterflied with tails on
  • 1 egg white + 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup of fine shredded coconut
  • salt
  • white pepper
Mix breadcrumbs, coconut, salt and white pepper. Dip shrimp into egg white mixture and then into the coconut mixture. Repeat this process twice. Spray a cookie sheet with oil and arrange the shrimp. Cook at 375F for 12 minutes.


Brussel Sprouts and Bacon

After a colleague suggested I could enjoy Brussels sprouts as much as my husband, if I just added some bacon, I laughed and said, "...sure if I drain the Brussels from the bacon". I decided to give her recipe a try tonight to pair with Chilean sea bass. I roasted bacon with savory, and added parboiled Brussels sprouts to caramelize. I have to admit, I am a fan. This side paired with butter roasted Chilean sea bass was enjoyable, light but filling.


1 quart of Brussels sprouts
5 slices of bacon
1 sprig of savory
1 tbsp of olive oil

Roast chopped bacon on medium heat with a whole sprig of savory. In the meantime boil Brussels sprouts in salted water for 6 minutes. Drain well. Add the sprouts to the bacon in the pan, add olive oil and discard the savory. Cook until slightly caramelized.

Chillean Sea Bass

2 Chilean bass steaks, skin on
1 tbsp butter + some olive oil
1/2 cup of white wine
white pepper

Salt and pepper the steaks. Melt butter in the pan and add olive oil. On medium-high heat, position the steaks skin down (with tongs) to caramelize all the way around. Place flesh side down for about 1 minute on each side. Place the steaks on paper towel to drain off the oil. Rinse the oil from the pan. Return to heat and add white wine. Place the steaks back on the pan and cover with a lid for 1 minute. This create enough steam to cook the fish inside, but will depend on the thickness of your steaks.