Sunday, December 14, 2008

Baked white fish with Onions, Peppers and Olives

adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

2 or 3 white fish filets (Tilapia or Pollock for example)
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup red pepper, diced finely
1/4 cup red onion, diced finely
1/4 cup green olives, diced finely
1/3 cup crumbled feta (optional)
1/2 Tbsp mayo (you can use lite, but not fat free)

Preheat oven to 425.  In a frying pan, saute onion and pepper in olive oil for about 3 minutes.  Add the olives and saute about 2 minutes more.  Pour vegetable mix into a bowl and mix in mayo.  Place fish in a prepared dish, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spread the mixture over the fish.  It's ok if some of it falls off.  Bake the fish until it is white throughout and the topping is starting to brown (about 10-15 minutes).  Serve hot with rice.  

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Spicy Thai Linguine

adapted from One Hot Stove

Ohhh, how I have learned to love these flavors mixed together.  Spicy and sweet, this pasta dish will satisfy anyone.  

1/2 lb linguine pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 red onion
1 red pepper
1 zucchini
1-2 carrots
4-5 green onions (optional as a garnish)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
3 tsp red curry powder (or paste)
2 Tbsp lemon or lime juice

Prep the veggies by washing them and dicing them into bite size pieces.  Saute vegetables together until barely tender.  Next, boil a large pot of water for pasta, and cook for 7-9 minutes until al dente.  Drain and set aside.  Add the coconut milk and spices to the vegetable mixture.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, and taste the sauce.  If it needs more flavor, feel free to add more curry or salt.  Pour the vegetable mixture over the sauce and toss together, adding lemon juice and green onions as a garnish.  Serve immediately.     

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Zainab's Eggless Challah

from Arabic Bites

Challah bread is a special braided bread traditionally eaten during Jewish holidays.  When I first saw it I was struck with how beautiful it is and wanted to try it out.  

Makes 1 Loaf

3 cups flour
1/8 cup sugar
1/4 Tbsp salt
3/4 Tbsp yeast
1/8 cup olive oil
1 1/4 cup warm water

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, knead for 10 minutes until soft and pliable.  Cover and let rise for one hour.  If you know how to braid with 6 strands, divide the dough into 6 equal lumps.  If you feel more comfortable braiding with 3, divide the dough into 3 lumps.  Roll the lumps into slender ropes and braid them together.

If you want to see some great photos and video on how this is done, click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page.  

Once the braiding is done, cover and let rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.  Then bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  

Monday, December 8, 2008

Creamy Fish Soup

Adapted from Nami-Nami

6 cups fish stock (I used vegetable)
5 potatoes, diced 
5 carrots, chopped (optional)
1 onion, minced
7 oz (200 g) cream cheese
10 oz fish (salmon or trout)
3 tsp lemon pepper

Bring the fish stock to boil, add potatoes and simmer until tender.  Cut the fish into large chunks and set aside.  Lower heat and add the cream cheese and spices, stirring until blended.  Then, while the soup is still warm, add fish.  Depending on how hot the broth is, the fish should cook through anywhere from 2 minutes to 30 seconds.  
Sprinkle with dill and serve.   

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Broccoli Crunch

adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup almond butter
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp hot water

4-5 cups fresh broccoli florets (I also added a handful of fresh green beans)
2 crisp apples, cut into chunks
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup candied almond slivers
(2 tsp sugar + 1 tsp salt)
1/3 cup pan-fried crunchy shallots (or onions if needed)

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add a dash of salt.  Dump the broccoli in and allow to boil for less than 30 seconds, just to take the edge off.  The broccoli should be pretty crunchy.  Rinse with cold water and set aside to dry.

Make the dressing by smashing the garlic clove and chopping it up.  Repeat as necessary until it becomes a paste.  Warm the butter in a bowl and add the rest of the sauce ingredients, whisking until smooth.  

Toast the almonds in olive oil and and coat with salt and sugar, stirring constantly until almonds begin to brown.  Set aside to cool.  Then caramelize the shallots, cooking them in a bit of olive oil until soft and browned.  Chop the apples and red onion and add to the broccoli, adding the shallots and almonds just before serving.  Drizzle with the sauce, toss and serve.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

How to cook a Turkey

from pioneer woman cooks

1.  First of all, you have to thaw out your turkey.  It needs to sit in the fridge for about five hours per pound.  This means you have to buy your bird several days in advance, so plan ahead!

2.  Once the bird has thawed completely, you can start the brining process.  This is where you soak the meat in a salty liquid beforehand and makes it moist and flavorful.  

Basic Brine ingredients:
1 cup Salt
1 cup Sugar
1 gallon Water

You can choose any seasoning combination you like.  There are some with apples and cinnamon, lemons, brown sugar, it was hard to decide on just one.  
This is the one I used last time:
4 cloves Garlic (minced)
1 Tbsp Rosemary
1 Tbsp Sage
1 Tbsp Thyme
1 Tbsp Parsley
10 Peppercorns     

Put the water in a pot with the spices and let boil for about 10 minutes.  Then remove and let it cool down, once it is at room temperature get it into the fridge until cold.  Next, open up the turkey and remove the bags of giblets and neck.  If the legs are tucked into the skin, let them loose and carefully rinse the entire bird.  Put the entire bird into a large plastic bag (something thick so it wont leak) or bucket (if you can find one that will fit in your fridge) and pour the spicy water into the bag.  Close it tightly, trying to get as much air as possible out of the bag.  Then put it back in the fridge for another 16-24 hours.  Rotate it every once in a while to make sure all sides of the turkey are getting a proper brining.  

3.  Cooking the turkey takes several hours (about 15-20 minutes per pound), so be sure to start your bird early so it is finished in time for the meal.  Preheat the oven to 275 F.  Take the bird out of the brining bag, dump out the contents and rinse the bird off really well inside and out.  Tuck the legs together and tie them up with kitchen string.  (This is only for aesthetic reasons)  Wrap the turkey entirely in tin foil and place on the oven rack with a deep pan underneath to catch all of the juices (also drop in a 1/2 cup of water to prevent burning).  For right now you will bake this turkey at this temperature for about 10 minutes per pound.  (so a 20 lb turkey would go for 3 1/2 hours, while a 15 lb turkey would go for about 2 1/2 hours)  There is more cooking time after this first segment, but you will up the temperature.  Leave the turkey in the oven and start getting other things done.  

4.  When it's time to remove your turkey, melt a stick of butter in a small bowl (you can add spices if you wish).  Remove the turkey from the oven and take off the foil (save it for later!).  Increase oven temperature to 375 F.  Using a basting brush, cover the bird with butter.  This will give it a golden color, so be generous!  Next, insert your meat thermometer into the thigh area, near the hip joint.  You will take out the bird about every 30 minutes or so to baste it again with butter.  The skin will slowly begin to turn a lovely golden brown, but it is not finished until the internal temperature is somewhere between 165-170 F.  It is important to get it up to this temperature to make sure it is cooked all of the way through.  Once it is up to that temperature, pull the turkey out and peer inside.  If the juices are pinkish, put it back in for a few more minutes.  If not, the turkey is done.  Congratulations!  Wrap it in foil to keep it warm until time to eat.  

5.  Next it is time to make the gravy.  

Turkey drippings
5-6 Tbsp Flour
1 cup Chicken or Turkey stock

Take the deep pan that has been collecting juices while the bird was baking.  Pour the liquid into a bowl and set aside.  The pan should be flecked with little flavorful bits.  Stick the entire pan on the stove (it may cover two burners) and turn them on to low heat.  
Once the fat has separated from the liquid drippings, drop 3-4 Tbsp into the pan and skim off the rest of the fat to put in a separate bowl.  Next add 5-6 Tbsp of flour into the pan and with a whisk, stir the flour up with the fat, being sure to scrape up the bottom and get all of the flavor loose.  It will turn into a paste (If it looks to oily, add flour.  Too dry?  Add more fat)  Cook on this low heat, stirring constantly, until flour begins to brown.  Then add the stock (low sodium is best) stirring to mix all of the lovely flavors together.  Lastly, you will add the drippings (with the fat skimmed off) and pour them into the mixture.  Now you will cook the gravy for several minutes in order for the gravy to thicken.  If it is too thick, slowly add more stock or water.  If it is too thin, mix a couple of tablespoons with flour until smooth and pour it into the gravy.  Sprinkle with pepper and enjoy -- you are ready to eat!         

Blueberry Pie

1 double Pie Crust
6 cups Blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
2 Tbsp Butter

Egg Wash:
1 Egg
1 Tbsp Milk

Prepare crust, roll it out to two 1/8 inch thick circles and drape dough over a 9" pie pan.  Put in the fridge to chill while you prepare the blueberries.  Preheat oven to 425 F.  

Combine berries, flour, cinnamon, lemon juice, sugar in a bowl.  Take the pie crusts out and press one into place at the bottom of the tin.  Then place the berries in the pie crust and dot the top with butter chunks.  Then cover the pie with the second dough circle and trim around the edges. Crimp the ends with a fork or your finger to seal shut.  Place in the fridge to chill.

Create the egg wash by whisking egg and milk together.  Take the pie and brush the top with the egg wash to give it a glossy finish.  Then make small cuts in the crust to release steam while cooking.  Bake with tin foil on the edges for 30 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350 F, remove foil and bake for another 30 minutes.  

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Apple Pie

from Dee Smith

This is such an easy recipe and so delicious.  It never lasts long at our house, so I usually make two and freeze one for later.  

One 9" double Pie Crust 
8 Apples (Granny Smith or other tart apples are best)
2/3 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Flour
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Cloves
1/4 tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Peel and core the apples and cut them into little chunks.  In a small bowl, stir together sugar, flour, and spices.  Mix the apples and dry mixture together and place into a prepared pie crust.  Cover apples with the tip curst, press edges with your fingers or fork tines to seal, and then pierce holes in the top crust to allow the steam to escape.  
Paint the top of the crust with an egg wash and place foil around the edges of the pie.  Bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes.    

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sweet Potato Pie

from the Perfect Pantry

Finland does not sell pumpkin puree (or pumpkins for that matter...) and at first I was really disappointed that we wouldn't have pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.  Then I did some investigating and learned that sweet potato pie is very similar in taste and texture, so I gave it a whirl.  

The only thing I would do differently is cover the crust edge with foil for the first 30 minutes of baking.  As you can see, my crust got a little burnt...  

One 9-inch Pie Crust
3 large Sweet Potatoes
3 Eggs
11 Tbsp Butter (about 1/3 lb)
2 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Ginger
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Honey
1/2 can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1.  Preheat oven to 425 F.  Press the prepared pie crust into a pie tin and crimp the edges.  Next you will "blind bake" the crust, which means to pre-bake it for a short time so it will be semi firm before putting the filling in.  To do so, cover it with tin foil and pour rice or beans inside so the crust won't bubble up.  Bake for about 10 minutes, and remove.

2.  Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into large chunks.  Place them in a pot filled water until they are totally submerged.  Boil until potatoes are soft, then drain the water and mash them.  Add baking powder, spices, brown sugar, honey and condensed milk and whip together until smooth.    

3.  Then raise the heat to 405 F, and pour the sweet potato mixture into the pie shells.  Cover just the edges with foil and bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil to bake the final 15 minutes.  Before removing, check to make sure the pies are firm and not soupy, if they need a little more time, just keep it in until firm.  Serve with whipped cream.    

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lemon Chickpea Stir Fry

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Ahhh, this stirfry was so light and lemony!  I made enough for 6 and we ate the whole thing, which means Ben definitely liked it.  

8 oz Chicken pieces (may substitute tofu)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 small Onion
1 clove Garlic
1 cup cooked Chickpeas (aka Garbanzo Beans)
1 cup Kale, chopped
1 medium Zuchinni
1 tsp Lemon Pepper
1 Lemon, using the zest and juice

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and saute chicken until cooked through.  Remove from pan and set aside in a large bowl.  Next saute onion and garlic, add a pinch of salt, the lemon pepper and the chickpeas.  Saute until chickpeas are golden and crusty, then add the chopped kale and cook for a minute more.    Remove mixture from heat and combine with chicken in the large bowl.  In the same skillet heat olive oil and saute zucchini for two or three minutes, just until they start to get soft but still have a bite to them.  Add to chicken mixture, stir in lemon juice and zest, and salt (if needed).  Serve with rice.     

Friday, November 21, 2008

Orange Chocolate Cookies

adapted from Baking Delights

A tangy twist on a classic recipe.  I love the blend of chocolate and orange.  

1 c Butter
3/4 c White Sugar
3/4 c Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla
1 Orange, grate the rind and squeeze in the juice
2 1/4 c Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
Dark Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Cream the butter and sugars, add orange juice and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Combine dry ingredients with the rind shaving and stir into the creamy mixture.  Fold in chocolate chips and chill for 20 minutes.  Drop rounded spoonfuls onto a prepared baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until starting to brown on the edges.  They should be soft in the middle.  
Makes 2-3 dozen cookies

Sweet Potato Wedges

adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

Sweet Potatoes (one per person)
Olive Oil (1/2 Tbsp per potato)
Spice Mix (about 1/2 tsp per potato) 

You can use any spice mix you like, here are a few options to experiment with:
Option 1: garlic, rosemary, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper
Option 2: cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, allspice, salt, brown sugar
Option 3:  Salt, pepper

Preheat the oven to 425.  Peel potatoes and cut into strips about 3 inches long and 3/4 inches thick.  In a bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil and spice mixture.  Place on a non stick cookie sheet in a single layer.  Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning every ten minutes.  The potatoes will be soft and lightly browned when they are finished.  Serve hot.  

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Roasted Broccoli with Lemon

adapted from Barefoot Contessa

The broccoli turns out crispy and flavorful, this is a great way to enjoy this vegetable.  

4 lbs broccoli, 2-3 large bunches (fresh is best!)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/2 tsp Salt 
1 tsp Pepper
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Red Pepper, diced
1 Lemon, used for zest and the juice
3 Tbsp pine nuts
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
Fresh Basil

Preheat oven to 425.  Dry out the broccoli so there is no moisture left on them.  Put the broccoli on a cookie sheet and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Sprinkle on the minced garlic and diced red pepper and roast in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the tips of some of the florets are turning brown.  Take it out of the oven and grate the lemon zest on top, then squeeze the juice over the broccoli.  Sprinkle the pine nuts, the cheese, and fresh basil on top and serve warm.   

Monday, November 17, 2008


Adapted from Laylita's Recipes and from Argentina with Love

The dough in this recipe is great and easy to work with.  The great thing about making Empanadas is you can make any filling you want.  I ran out of beef filling, so I chopped up some apples added some cinnamon and sugar and used the rest of the dough to make little apple tarts for dessert.

Empanada Dough:
3 cups Flour
1 Egg Yolk
1/2 cup Butter
1 cup Milk
1/2 tsp Salt

Beef Filling:
2 lbs Ground Beef
3 medium Onions
3 Tbsp Paprika
4 tsp Cumin
Green Olives, cut into slices (I used 1/3 of a jar)
3 hard-boiled Eggs, cut into rounds
Salt and Pepper to taste
1-2 Chili Peppers, minced (optional)
1 egg white, whipped

Mix flour and salt, add butter and blend well.  Add egg yolk and the milk in small amounts (set aside egg white).  Knead for a few minutes until dough is evenly combined.  Cut dough into two, roll into balls and flatten.  Chill for about 30 minutes.  
While the dough is in the fridge, begin making the filling.  In a large frying pan cook beef, onions and garlic until browned.  Then add paprika, olives, salt and pepper and chilies.  Let this meat mixture cool.  
Preheat the oven to 400.  Roll out the dough on a floured surface and flatten with a rolling pin to 1/8 of an inch.  Cut into largish rounds using a cup or small bowl.  Spoon some meat filling into the middle of the round and add a piece of hard-boiled egg on top.  Fold the dough in half to create a half-moon shape, pinch the edges shut.  To see a great video on how this is done, click here.   
Lightly brush the top of the empanadas with the reserved egg white, it makes them really pretty and brown as they bake.  Put into the fridge for 30 minutes, then bake for about 10-15 minutes on a prepared cookie sheet.  

These are best served with a sauce or salsa of some kind.   I sauteed some garlic, onions and tomatoes and added a bit of cream to eat with ours.  Here is another recipe:

Chimichurri sauce:
1 1/2 cup fresh Parsley
6 Basil leaves
3 sprigs of Oregano
4 cloves of crushed Garlic
3 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar 
6 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Chili Powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in a blender, until the sauce is smooth.  Use the same day-- does not keep well.  

Friday, November 14, 2008

Braised Celery

adapted from 101 Cookbooks

I kind of hate celery.  I chose this recipe in an attempt find a way to make it that I would like. This is a very flavorful side dish that is delicious.  

1 Tbsp Butter
2 heads Celery
1 large Shallot (or one medium yellow onion) finely minced
1/2 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 1/4 cup stock
1/3 cup Gruyere (or Parmesan)
3-4 Tbsp day old white bread

Preheat oven to 325.  Begin by washing and trimming the celery.  Tear off all of the big thick stalks, and stop once you get to the tender heart.  Set heart aside.  Rinse the thick pieces, careful to get all of the dirt off.  Trim off the leaves and scrape off the outside of each stalk with a peeler to remove the fibrous strings.  Then cut the celery into 3" lengths and arrange them in a greased baking dish.  It is fine if they overlap.  

Take the celery heart and chop it into tiny bits, leaves and all.  Melt the butter and begin to saute the onion, thyme and celery bits.  season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 10 minutes, then pour in the stock and simmer until reduced by half.  Pour this mixture over the celery sticks.  Cover with foil and braise in the oven until the celery has collapsed and feels tender (about 1 hour 15 minutes)  

Remove celery from the oven, increase heat to 400 degrees.  Sprinkle the cheese and bread crumbs on the top, and return to the oven for about 10 minutes when the breadcrumbs are toasted and the cheese is melted and browned.  Serve hot.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hasselback Potatoes

from Bread and Honey

Basically, these are just really pretty baked potatoes.  I took the advice of Alicia from B&H and topped them with caramelized shallots and leftover gruyére.     

Salt & Pepper to taste

Topping: (optional, but delicious!)
Shallots (can substitute with yellow Onion.)
1 Clove of Garlic
1 medium Onion
1 1/2 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
2 tsp Parsley
Olive Oil
1/4 cup Gruyére

Make a series of cuts about 3/4 of the way through the potato.  Do not cut all the way!  Bake in the oven at 400 (until cooked) for about one hour.  While baking, start on the onions.  Chop up garlic and cut onion into larger strips, add sugar and cook on medium for about 10 minutes.  Add vinegar, salt and pepper and cover pan, cooking on low heat for 15-20 minutes.  Once soft, add parsley.  Once potatoes are done, top with onions, shredded cheese and enjoy! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Croque Monsieur Ham and Cheese Sandwich

from Elise Simply Recipes

After months of being in awe of the multitude of cheeses available at the local market, I decided to try a few recipes that call for something different than cheddar, swiss or gouda.  These sandwiches have great flavor and are a great treat.   

2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Flour
1 1/2 cups Milk
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
6 oz Gruyére Cheese, (about 1 1/2 cups grated)
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
8 Slices of French or Italian loaf bread
12 oz Ham, sliced
Dijon Mustard

Preheat the oven to 400.  First make what is called a Béchamel sauce:  Melt butter in a small saucepan on low heat until it starts to bubble.  Then stir in flour until smooth and cook for about 2 minutes.  Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously and cooking until thickened.  Remove from heat, add salt, pepper, nutmeg, Parmesan Cheese and about 1/4 cup Gruyére Cheese.  Combine and set aside.

Lay out the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast them a few minutes on each side (feel free to butter the bread for extra flavor)  Lightly brush mustard on each slice of bread on one side.  Add ham slices and sprinkle the Gruyére, topping off with the other slice of bread.  Lastly, spoon the Béchamel sauce to the tops of the sandwiches.  Sprinkle whatever remaining cheese on top and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil for another 3-5 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and browned.  

Makes 4 sandwiches

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Brazilian Fish Stew

adapted from Elise Bauer's Simply Recipes

Fish is easily found in Finland, and in experimenting with different methods of cooking it I stumbled upon this recipe.  While not a Scandinavian recipe, it was easy to find the ingredients and DIVINE.     

The cloves from 1/2 a head of garlic, peeled, crushed, minced
2 Tbsp fresh Lime Juice
3/4 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Paprika
2 1/2 tsp dry Cumin
1 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1-2 lbs of White Fish, or Salmon, cut into large bite-sized peices
Olive Oil
2 medium Onions, sliced
2 Bell Peppers, sliced
2 Tomatoes, sliced
1-2 Chili Peppers, diced (optional)
1 14 oz can of coconut milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
Bunch of fresh Cilantro, chopped (1-2 cups)

Fresh cooked rice, for serving

Mix together marinade ingredients, and let salmon marinate for at least two hours.  The longer, the better!  In a large pot, (dutch oven or deep skillet) coat the bottom with olive oil.  Then add a layer of onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes.  Place the fish pieces along with the leftover marinade atop pile, and begin layering again: onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and add diced chili peppers.  Add about half of your fresh cilantro on top, and pour on coconut milk and drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  
Bring to a boil reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 30-45 minutes (until the vegetables are cooked through).  Serve atop rice and garnish with cilantro.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Greek Salad

from Janet is Hungry blog

I hate boring salad.  I figure if I am making the effort to eat vegetables, they had better be good. This is a salad with some kick.  

Romaine Lettuce
3 Tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
4 ounces Feta cheese
1 Cucumber, cut into slices
Kalamata Olives
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Usually we drizzle with olive oil and fresh lemon and have at it.  But if you want a dressing that is a little fancier, try this recipe:

1/2 cup Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Salt
Pepper to taste  

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Flat Bread

from Arabic Bites

This is a perfect complement to any meal. The bread is chewy and soft and would go well with anything. Ok, to be honest they are supposed to look much prettier and symmetrical than mine turned out. But if you could get past the freaky bumps, the bread was quite good.

2 cup warm Water
2 Tbsp Yeast
4 Tbsp Sugar
5 cups Flour (any kind)
1/4 cup Oil
2 tsp Salt

Preheat the oven to 550 (287 C). Mix the yeast, sugar and water. Once combined, slowly add in 2 cups of flour. Cover the bowl and let it rise for 10 minutes.

Then add in the remaining 3 cups of flour, oil and salt and knead for about 10 minutes. Divide the dough into 8 pieces, roll into little balls and flatten them into round discs. Place the dough onto a cookie sheet and bake for 2-3 minutes.

I kept getting distracted and so every other flat bread was a little over done. But they were still good, and this was a very simple recipe!

Makes 8 pieces of flat bread

Mulligatawny Soup

from Michelle Chen

Mulligatawny means "pepper water" and is an invention of English/Indian origin. I always stayed away because it had a funny name. I am glad to have gotten over that prejudice. Just don't let this enormous list of ingredients scare you away.

1 Tbsp Butter or Olive Oil
1 medium Onion
2 cloves Garlic
1 tsp Ginger
1 Green Chili Pepper, chopped
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Cloves
1 tsp ground Coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp Tumeric
1 tsp Cardamom
1 Tbsp Curry
1-2 Carrots, chopped
1-2 Apples - peeled, cored and chopped
1-2 Potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup Masoor Dhal (red lentils) - you can also use other beans
4 cups stock
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Cups coconut milk
2 Tbsp Cilantro (garnish)

Heat oil in a large pan on low heat, saute onion, garlic, ginger, chilies, and spices. Do not over brown the onion or it will give the soup a burnt taste. Add broth, carrot, apple, potato and lentils, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes until vegetables are tender. Puree (or mash) soup mixture in batches, then add lemon juice and coconut milk and serve once it is heated though.
Feel free to add chicken if desired and sometimes served with heavy cream.

This soup had so much flavor, it really was amazing. Next time, I would probably add more chilies to pack in more heat, but as is, it was wonderful.

Serves 4

Monday, November 3, 2008

Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Bread

adapted from Sister's Cafe, who got it from The Smitten Kitchen, who got it from Barefoot Contessa... the recipe world is a smaller place every day!

1 1/2 cups + 1 Tbsp Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 cup Plain Yogurt
1 cup Sugar
3 large Eggs
2 tsp Lemon Zest (about one lemon)
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 cups Blueberries (frozen or fresh, thawed and rinsed)

1/3 cup Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour a bread pan.  Mix yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest, and fold in the oil.  In another bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt.  Combine the two mixtures, and lastly gently add the blueberries.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  While the batter is baking, prepare the glaze in a small pan.  Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves.  
Once the cake is done, cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.  Using a toothpick, poke some small holes to absorb the glaze better.  Drizzle the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in.     

This bread turns out very moist and tangy and the flavors go together very nicely.  

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies

from my Mom...

Whenever I feel homesick for my mom (which happens more frequently now that I live on a different continent...)  I have an irresistible urge to eat her cooking.  One fare that always hits the spot are these cookies.  This formula has been perfected through trial and error and taught to all members of my family.  I know that both of my rowdy teenage brothers know this recipe by heart.  

1 cup Butter (softened)
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 1/2 cups  Oatmeal (made into a powder in the blender)
2 cups of Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 bag of Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Cream together butter, sugar, brown sugar.  Fold in eggs and add vanilla.  Sift together dry ingredients and slowly add them to wet mixture.  Then add chocolate chips and form into golf ball sized balls on a baking sheet.  Put them in at 375 for 6-7 minutes.  Do not over-cook!  Even if they look a little soft, they will firm up as they cool, and then they will be soft and chewy for days.  If they last that long...
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sweet Potato Soup

If Fall (the season) and India (the country) got married and had a soup baby, this would be their love child. This is a very hearty recipe and has a nice sweet and tangy flavor.

4 cups Stock (chicken or vegetable)
2 lbs Sweet Potatoes, cubed
1 medium Yellow Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Curry
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1/2 cup Rice
1 cup Plain Yogurt
Mint (garnish)

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Once soft add stock, and spices and bring to a boil. Then add Sweet potatoes, and let simmer for 20 minutes until soft. Mash potatoes (or puree in batches until smooth) and the soup will take a thicker quality. Add rice and simmer 20 more minutes or until rices is cooked. When serving, add a dollop of plain yogurt and garnish with mint.

Serves 4

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Finnish Meatballs

from Helena

Meatballs are a classic Scandinavian dish that has variations from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.  It is made with a meat of choice, a filler, and sometimes a sauce.  The differences in recipes are based on family preference as well as what ingredients were at hand in each area.  There are many possibilities, but this is the basic meatball recipe that I got from a Finnish Grandmother and you can play with it how you will.  

Basic Meatball

1 lb ground beef 
1 Egg
1/2 cup milk, cream or water
1/4 cup oats (or flour, bread crumbs etc...)
1 medium Onion, minced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

There are other recipes that use nutmeg, mustard, thyme, allspice, white pepper.  Feel free to experiment.

Saute onion in olive oil.  Blend all ingredients together.  Form meat into little balls (because that is what they are... balls of meat...) They can vary in size, but these should be about the size of a golf ball.  Then you have two options:

Option 1.  Heat a skillet with a little olive oil.  Fill the skillet with meatballs and fry for about 5 minutes, then turn them over.  Keep them on until they are cooked through (about 5 more minutes).  Once browned, let them cool and drain a bit and keep them warm until served.  This way is less healthy, but tastes better.    

Option 2.  Use an ungreased baking dish, plop all meatballs inside (make sure they have a little breathing room so they don't get stuck together into one conglomerate mutant meatball)  

Serves 4... unless you have a eating machine like Ben, and then it only serves two.  Whatever.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Braised Kale

Adapted from Emeril's New New Orleans Cooking

This dish looks much more complicated to make than it is.  When you are finished it looks beautiful and tastes great.  Plus Kale is very good for you, which means you can have extra dessert.  

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, sliced into slivers
1 Red Pepper, sliced into slivers
2 Tbsp minced Garlic
4 cups torn and stemmed Kale pieces
2 cups Stock
1 splash of Cider Vinegar
Salt and Pepper

Heat oil in large skillet over high heat.  Add onions, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper, and stir fry for 2 minutes.  Next add the stock and kale and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes.  Splash on a little vinegar and cook for one last minute.  Remove from heat, drain excess fluid and serve immediately.  

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Farfalle with Zucchini

adapted from Pioneer Woman Cooks

1 lb Farfalle (bowtie) pasta
1 medium Onion, diced
3-4 regular sized Zucchini, diced
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes (or 4-5 regular tomatoes, diced)
1-2 cloves of Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup white wine -or- stock
1/2 cup cream
2 tsp Basil
2 tsp Chives (optional)
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice or Lemon Thyme

Boil pasta until it is al dente.  Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and stir in zucchini until brown, then remove.  Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and saute garlic and mushrooms.  Next, lower heat to medium and add tomatoes, stock, and cream.  Finally, add cooked zucchini.  Stir gently to combine, and turn off the heat.  Add salt to taste, as well as pepper, basil, chives and lemon juice.  Pour mixture over cooked pasta, top with parmesan and serve.  

I love pasta, and this creamy dish is wonderful and easy.  Plus you can finally use all of your leftover zucchini!  

Dilly Bread

From Ashlee Stettler

This bread is moist and has tons of flavor.  It is SO good.  

2 1/2 tsp Yeast
1/4 Cup Warm Water
1 Cup Cottage Cheese
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp minced onion
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Dill seed -or- 2 tsp Dill
2 1/4 Cup Flour

Combine water and yeast.  In a separate bowl, combine all ingredients except flour.  Add yeast and water to ingredients and slowly add flour until mixed.  Knead on a floured surface, and set aside in a warm spot to let rise until double in size (give it about an hour).
Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes

Sorry this picture isn't great, we ate the whole loaf before I could get a good picture!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Piparkakut -or- Finnish Ginger Cookies

This is a traditional Finnish cookie that is spicy and delicious.  It is usually made around Christmas time and cut into little boys, girls and pigs.  Why pigs?  I have no idea.    

1 1/2 cups Butter
1 cup Brown Sugar
3/4 cup Molasses or Dark Syrup
3 tsp Cinnamon
3 tsp Ginger
1 1/2 tsp Cloves
1/2 tsp Allspice
3 tsp Orange Zest
2 Eggs
2 tsp Baking Soda
5 cups Flour

Combine butter, sugar, syrup and spices in a saucepan.  Stir constantly until almost to a boil, then transfer to a mixing bowl.  Allow to cool to room temperature (stirring helps) then stir in eggs, sifted dry ingredients and mix well.  Chill in fridge overnight.  On a prepared floured surface roll out dough 1/4 of an inch thick, cut into shapes (I just made circles and pressed them with a fork.  Boring!) and bake at 350 until lightly browned (mine took about 8 minutes, but the recipe to wait 10-12)  They taste great alone but feel free to frost them when cool!
Makes about 24 cookies

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Woodsy Brie Pasta

adapted from Dinner on a Dime

This dish is so creamy and delicious, it's hard to stop at just one bowl!  

Thick handful of Spaghetti (or other Pasta)
8 oz Brie cut into small chunks
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 small Onion
1 clove Garlic
3-4 Chicken Breasts, cooked and cubed
3 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp Lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Toasted Pine Nuts
Red Pepper

Boil pasta to al dente.  Saute onions, garlic, other vegetables until soft and add cooked chicken.  Drain noodles and pour saute mix on top.  Add butter, mix well and let melt.   Then add Brie, once pasta has cooled a little so the Brie gets soft, but does not melt entirely.  Add lemon juice and garnish with lemons.   

Friday, October 17, 2008

Amazing No-Knead Bread

This bread was so good the first time I made it, that Ben ate the whole loaf and got a stomachache.

*Attention. You will need to start this bread the day before. So plan ahead!

3 cups of flour (I usually use half white, half wheat)
1/4 tsp yeast
1 and 1/4 tsp salt
1 and 1/2 cup warm water
1 pinch of sugar

Pour warm water, sugar and yeast in a bowl and sit for 5 minutes until foamy. Combine dry ingredients and mix with yeast and water until blended. Dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with wrap for 12-18 hours (overnight). Dough is ready when surface is covered with tiny bubbles.

Lightly flour a work surface and sprinkle dough with a little more flour. Fold in on itself several times. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest 15 minutes.
Using enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to work surface or onto your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Cover a towel with cornmeal and place on a piece of wax paper. Sprinkle flour on the top and cover with another towel and let rise for 2 more hours.

Preheat oven to 450. Place in a oven-friendly pot or baking pan (something with a lid. If you don't have one with a lid, just use a bread pan and tin foil) and bake for 30 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered. Let cool and enjoy!

Greek Peasant Bread

This bread is hearty and so simple to make!  It comes out a thick mound and is perfect to go with soup.   

2 and 1/4 tsp yeast
2 cups warm water
1 TBSP sugar
4 cups flour (I use 1/2 white and 1/2 wheat)
1 tsp salt

Place yeast, water and sugar in a large bowl and stir until dissolved.  Slowly add flour until fullly blended.  Do not knead!  Cover and let rise one hour.  Pick up dough, split into two rounds and place on a well greased cookie sheet or baking paper.  Lightly flour top of rounds, cover and rise for one more hour.  Bake at 425 for 10 minutes and reduce to 375 for 15 minutes more.  Serve warm.    

Minestrone Soup

From Dinner on a Dime

I made this for the missionaries when they came over and it was a huge hit! The soup had a very hearty flavor and was filled with lots of healthy goodness. It had a lot of ingredients, and I had to stay near the pot while it was cooking, but this is definitely a soup I will be making again.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion
2-3 carrots sliced into thin pennies
2-3 celery stalks, sliced into thin pennies
2 cans of tomatoes (feel free to use flavored or fresh!)
2 cans stock
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1 can beans (kidney or white)
1-2 cups of cabbage sliced thin
1/2 cup elbow macaroni

Saute onion, garlic, carrots, celery in the bottom of your soup pot. (Fewer dishes to clean later) Then add tomatoes, broth, spices and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add beans and 2 cups of cabbage. Simmer for 10 more minutes. Stir in thinly sliced zucchini and 1/2 cup of macaroni. Simmer 10 more minutes, and serve. Top with Parmesan or other hard cheese. Great with fresh bread!