Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Spanakopita" "Caprese" "Quesadillas"

Lots of quotes because this dish had several multicultural influences. This recipe about spanakopita pesto inspired me because I had a ton of spinach sitting around, and what's better with pesto than tomato and fresh mozarella? That said, I didn't want to put it all in a grilled caprese sandwich because bread felt too heavy, so I decided to go with tortillas instead. Phew, that's a long chain of thought. Anyway, the whole meal turned out delicious! I'm happy to have lots of leftover ingredients so I can make these again!

Pesto Ingredients (makes enough pesto to generously layer in ~5 quesadillas)
2 c. baby spinach leaves, packed
1/2 c. mint leaves, packed
3 Tbsp walnuts
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp dried minced garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp lemon juice

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until combined. It's that simple!

For the quesadillas, I just heated up a lightly greased griddle, placed one tortilla on, smothered it in the pesto, the chopped some tomato and mozarella slices on top, and put another tortilla on. I absolutely LOVE the griddle for this sort of this. It's basically a big pan with no sides to worry about! Anyway also, I tried trader joe's handmade whole wheat tortillas, and they were incredible! I love that place! Also, next time, to go with the spinach, I'm going to try making these quesadillas with feta...mmm!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Just a little shout out to all our moms! :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Simple Guacamole & Hummus

Guacamole: California + avocados = awesome. For reals. The easiest way to entertain is to have a bowl of fresh, homemade guacamole and some chips, so that's just what I did. I forgot to take pictures that time, but decided to make another batch for a BBQ with friends - they spread it on the hamburgers to make guacamole hamburger - that was absolutely delicious. :)

3 ripe Hass avocados
2-3 fresh Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 onion, diced (I used white, but I'm thinking red would be better).
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper

1. Cut the avocados in half, slicing around the pit. Remove the pit. Make horizontal and vertical cuts into the avocado shell, making sure to not pierce the shell itself. With a spoon, scoop out the meat in cubes. Mash with the lemon juice to keep it from turning black. You could also keep 1/2 an avocado separate from the mash, cut it into smaller cubes, and mix it in to make the guac chunky.
2. Mix in the tomatoes and onions, adjusting the amount to your taste and based on the size of your tomatoes and onions.
3. Add the spices. Adjust amount to your taste. I personally prefer a little more cayenne pepper and sometimes also a dash of paprika. Serve with chips.

Hummus: Along with guacamole, I also like making a simple hummus. I thought about adding roasted peppers, but decided to leave that for next time. I don't like garlic, so I didn't add any of that. Turns out this is a very simple dip to make, and is both healthy and cheap. I don't know why store-bought hummus is always so expensive, when the ingredients are so cheap and the process so effortless. I forgot to bring cayenne pepper & paprika when I made the BBQ's hummus though, and that changed the flavor a lot - I recommend not skipping that.

2 cans 16oz chick peas, or garbanzo beans
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp tahini (optional)

1. Drain the garbanzo beans. Reserve the liquid from 1 can.
2. Put the garbanzo beans and lemon juice in the food processor. Blend for a few minutes, using a spoon at intervals to mix it and make sure all the skins are being minced. Add the olive oil, spices, tahini. Add the reserved liquid a little at a time, blending in between, until you get the thickness and consistency you want. Adjust spices to taste.
3. That's it! So simple!

I keep talking about a BBQ, and thought it would be fitting to end this post with a picture of the BBQ, so here you go - open flame! (I'm starting to think I might have something of a pyro streak in me...)

Cream Puffs!

I originally considered making a whole croquembouche for my parents' anniversary, but then decided it'd be too hard to move and whatnot, so ended up just making the cream puffs instead. I also brought some to a BBQ with old friends, where it was very welcome. :) I like a richer filling than normal whipped cream, so I tried a cheese filling instead, and I gotta say, it worked out OK. After one bite, one of my friends declared I should start all dates by feeding the guy one of these.

1 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 Tbsp sugar
dash of salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Over high heat, bring water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil. Turn off heat and mix in the flour; it should pull away from the edges of the pot into a ball of dough. Wait a few minutes for it to cool slightly, then add one egg at a time, mixing to incorporate the whole egg before adding the next. The batter should be thick, but thin enough to slowly fall from a wooden spoon - add another egg if it's still too thick.
2. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large, plain tip. Pipe 1" round, 1/2" high disks onto a foil or wax paper lined baking sheet, leaving some space in between each dollop. With a wet finger, knock down the tip of each dollop. Bake at 425F for 15min until puffy, then drop the temperature to 375F for another 10-15min, until golden brown.
3. Peel the puffs off the foil immediately; once the foil cools, it'll be hard to peel them off without peeling the bottom off the puff.

2/3 cup mascarpone
2/3 cup ricotta
3 Tbsp sugar (more to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix ingredients together. I couldn't figure out a way to pipe it into the puffs, so just slice the puffs halfway in the center and spoon a dollop of the filling inside, then close.