Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dog Biscuits for Gabby's Pediatrician

As we say adios to San Antonio, my husband, Gabby, and I look back fondly over the last year of memories we've made while being Texans. Our greatest souvenier is our daughter, who was born at Lackland Air Force Base in September of last year. The year flew by and when David announced he'd landed a job in New Jersey and he was getting out of the ARMY, our feelings were bittersweet. It's hard to establish roots in a town when you know you'll only be there a limited time, but, it seems that a sense of community began to develop at about the one year mark, at least for me. I've made some friends, found good restaurants, and also discovered the love of my life. I'll miss shopping there; do visit if you are in Texas, as they have locations in all the major cities.

Another one of my Texas favorites is Gabby's pediatrician. She's awesome and has been so patient with my many mnay questions. I'm a first time mom and I often begin jotting questions and notes down 2 weeks in advance of our appointments. By the time the appointment rolls around, I've got several pages of issues I need to discuss with her. And she's never once rushed me and she's always given spot on advice. She's terrific and we wanted to thank her but she's very careful about her diet. And I didn't want to make her something she couldn't enjoy so I made her dog biscuits, because I know how much she adores her dogs. My brother teased me that now I'm resorting to cooking for canines since I won't get negative feedback (I've had some duds lately, which I could be talked into sharing with you later) but my neighbor's dog gobbled these treats up and Gabby's pediatrician called to tell me how much her dogs loved them, as well. And Epicurious reviewers have scored this recipe a very positive 4 forks, with a 90% would make again rate. It doesn't get much better than that! If you have a special dog in your life, you could launch yourself into number 1 status by making these treats. I followed it as is, but I mixed bacon drippings into the batter before shaping the cookies because I've read that dogs love meat drippings. Full recipe after the jump.

Dog Biscuits
Gourmet, December 2005

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 large egg
1/4 cup bacon drippings (optional, can use more or less to suit needs)
Special equipment: a pastry or bench scraper; a dog-biscuit cookie cutter

Pulse flours, cornmeal, oats, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with pea-size butter lumps. Add 1 cup water and pulse until a coarse, dense dough forms.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in parsley and mint until well distributed. Gather, then halve dough with scraper. Form into 2 balls and flatten each into a 6-inch disk.

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 2 large baking sheets.

Roll out 1 disk of dough into a round (1/3 inch thick) on a well-floured surface with a well-floured rolling pin. (If dough becomes too soft to roll out, wrap in plastic and chill until firm.) Cut out as many biscuits as possible and arrange about 1/4 inch apart on 1 baking sheet.

Gather scraps and reroll, then cut out more biscuits. Repeat with remaining dough, using other baking sheet.

Whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush biscuits with egg wash and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through, until tops are golden brown, about 35 minutes total. Turn off oven and dry biscuits in oven overnight.

Biscuits keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 1 month.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Grilled Tuna with Tomato-Cilantro Salsa

Hello again! It has been awhile since I last posted a blog. It seems Eddie and I like to make life changing decisions with usually only a few days of consideration. Our latest decision... get a new house built, sell our current house and move in with our in-laws until the new house is finished. Yeah, we made this decision after discussing it for about... oh 2 days! So, needless to say the past month has been a little hectic. However, the new house is going to be awesome and despite a crappy housing market, we sold on house in 10 days! Now we are fantically packing up our house because we are moving a lot sooner than originally planned. Hence... I haven't had a lot of time to take pictures for the blog and, we have been eating a lot pizza.

However, last night I was determined to make something new and delicious for dinner. After thumbing through a few magainzes I found a great recipe in the September issue of Food & Wine that would use up two tuna steaks that were in the freezer (as part of the move I am trying to clean out the freezer).

I was able to throw this grilled tuna recipe together in the time it took to heat up the grill and cook the tuna ... no more than 15 minutes. And, it is a fantastic way to use up the tomatoes that are overflowing on my counter. I did make a few changes to the recipe, so the one below relects exactly what I did.

Eddie was a big fan too. He declared it a "definite make again" meal.

Please excuse the lousy picture. As Eddie likes to say "Babe, you are a wonderful cook but a horrible photographer."

Grilled Tuna with Tomato-Cilantro Salsa
Serves 2

1 pound tomatoes, quartered
3 scallions, chopped
1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
1/3 cup mint leaves
1 jalapeno pepper, halved (leave the seeds in for more heat)
1 tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tbs. fresh lime juice
1 tbs. olive oil
Salt and Pepper
2 6-oz. tuna steaks

1. Heat the grill on high.
2. In the food processor, combine tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, mint, and jalapeno. Pulse for 15-30 seconds in 2 second intervals (2 seconds on, 2 seconds off). Process until you have a nice looking salsa. Do not purify.
3. Transfer salsa to a bowl. Stir in lemon juice, lime juice, and olive oil.
4. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

5. Coat tuna steaks with oil (Don't worry most will grill off)
6. Season tuna with salt and pepper on both sides. Be generous, a lot will stick to the grill.
7. Grill tuna on high heat about 2-3 minutes per side. Do not overcook! You want the tuna to be still pink in the middle.*
8. Remove tuna steaks from grill. Let rest 3 minutes.
9. Cut steaks onto 1/4 thick pieces.
10. To plate: Put a few tablespoons of salsa on a plate, fan out tuna slices on top of salsa. Top with a little more salsa.

* Personal Rant: Nothing is worse than overcooked tuna. Please, please only cook the tuna medium. There should be some pink left in the middle. If you like it cooked all the way through then don't waste your money on fresh tuna... you might as well eat the canned stuff... or eat chicken! Okay, peronsal rant finished.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Erin and Shirlie's versions of Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

First up: Erin's version of Dorie's Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

Instead of blueberries I used frozen blackberries. I used about 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups of blackberry instead of the 1 cup it called for. I also put in the optional lime juice. Oh, and I used 2 % milk, not heavy cream. I didn't have heavy cream in the fridge and I am currently in an anti- "run to the grocery for just one ingredient" mode, so I used the milk I had in the fridge. This is also why I used blackberries because I had an open bag from Trader Joes in the freezer that have been there longer than I would like to admit.

This stuff is great. Not too much sugar, so it allowed some of the tartness to shine through. And, it was even healthier b/c I used milk not cream. So, this one was probably more like a sorbet, but I thought it was delicious. Even Eddie, my "dessert isn't dessert unless it involves chocolate" husband liked this one.

Shirlie's Version of Dorie's Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

This week's TWD dessert was selected by Dolores, of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, blueberry sour cream ice cream. Minimal fuss, fast set up and delicious pay-off. I hemmed and hawed about the recipe for a number of reason. I figured since it involved fruit, my husband would only tolerate it, and not actually enjoy it. I, on the other hand, can get behind another fruit based dessert, especially since I'm a new fruit dessert convert, thanks to this run of summertime desserts at TWD. Secondly, I really need to lay low with the cooking and baking because of our move, which is now right around the corner. I mean, we're finally able to see some space in the freezer so I wasn't sure it would be a good idea to make a vat of ice cream. Well, fast forward to Monday afternoon, and after another self-satisfied gaze at the progress I've made using up stuff in the freezer, I realized there was an old bag of frozen blueberries which had been hidden for a very long time! Total fate, I tell you. The other ingredients are easily found on-hand as well: sour cream, lemon zest, heavy cream. Since I didn't have heavy cream, I subbed whole milk which didn't take away from the richness or creaminess. This ice cream was really good, despite not having an egg-based custard, which usually means a creamy, delicious ice cream, in my book. I also added a splash of vodka, which is a tip from "Perfect Scoop," by David Lebovitz, to keep the ice cream from freezing solid. I was really happy with this ice cream, especially given how easy it was to prepare. And much to my surprise, my husband approved of it, even though there was no chocolate involved. He deemed it "refreshing." My daughter, on the other hand, wasn't a fan, but perhaps her palate is not quite sophisticated enough!

Please visit the other TWD bloggers to see their lovely creations. Full recipe after the jump.

Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream
Dorie Greenspan, Baking, From My Home to Yours

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen, if frozen, thaw and drain)
1/2 cup sugar, or more to taste (I used 1/4 cup and it was sweet enough)
grated zest and juice of 1/4 lemon(or lime, as you prefer), or more juice to taste
3/4 cup heavy cream (I used 1 cup whole milk)
3/4 cup sour cream (I cut back to 1/2 cup and compensated with an extra quarter cup of milk, totaling 1 cup whole milk)

1/2 teaspoon neutral flavored vodka*
*(this was my own addition, to ensure a creamier finish)

1) Put blueberries, sugar, salt and lemon zest and juice in a medium non-reactive saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture boils and the berries pop and soften, about 3 minutes.

2) Turn the blueberries into a blender and whir until you have a fairly homogenous puree, about 1 minute. (it will not be completely smooth, and that's OK). Add the heavy cream and sour cream, and pulse just to blend. Taste and, if you'd like, add a squirt more lemon juice or a tiny bit more sugar.

3) Pour the custard into a bowl and refrigerate until it is chilled before churning it into ice cream.

4) Scrape the chilled custard into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's instructions. Pack the ice cream into a container and freeze for at least 2 hours, until it is firm enough to scoop.

Storage: Packed tightly in a covered container, the ice cream will keep in the freezer for about 2 weeks.
And here is the rest of it.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Deviled Chicken Drumsticks

Upon first perusal of August's Gourmet Magazine, I bookmarked numerous recipes I wanted to try. But we're moving a three weeks and I can't fill up the pantry or fridge with a bunch of obscure ingredients which will only have one use for one dish. When I hit upon this recipe, deviled chicken drumsticks, I knew I had the sort of recipe of which all the ingredients, and there are only six total, were readily available in my kitchen. This recipe is ridiculously easy to throw together and the taste is unique: a hint of the Dijon with every bite alongside the crunch of panko and an occasional taste of salty Parmigiano-Reggiano. Instead of roasting the chicken in the oven, my husband grilled the drumsticks and we were very happy with the results. A glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc and a side salad, and we had a perfect summer meal. Gourmet says this chicken is tasty cold, as most chicken is, and they're absolutely right. The leftovers made an easy snack the following day, no reheating required! Full recipe after the jump.

Deviled Chicken Drumsticks
Gourmet, August 2008

12 chicken drumsticks (2 1/2 to 3 lbs total)
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
3/4 cup grated Parmagiano-Reggiano ( 1 1/2 oz)
3/4 tsp cayenne
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with rack in upper third.
2) Pat chicken dry, then toss with mustard until evenly coated.
3) Stir together panko, cheese, cayenne, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Drizzle with melted butter and toss.
4) Dredge each drumstick in crumb mixture to coat, then arrange, without crowding, in a buttered large 4 sided sheet pan. Roast until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: Chicken can be roasted 1 day ahead and chilled.

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pesto, Pesto, and more Pesto!

Some of you may have wondered where did we get the blog name "Stop and Smell the Basil." Well, when Shirlie and I were bouncing back and forth names we discussed our favorite herbs. Mine is basil. In fact, the reason mine is basil is because years ago I became addicted to pesto. I put it in everything! It is just such a great way to incorporate fresh herbs into all kinds of dishes.

Usually, I just make fresh pesto each week in the summer and then before the first frost of the fall I harvest all my basil to make pesto to freeze for use over the winter. However, then past week there was a deal at the farmer's market I just couldn't pass up... 3 bunches for $5. When I saw the sign I thought "oh sure, I'll pick up the bunches on my way out." When I was ready to leave the market I gave the vendor my $5, grabbed the first bunch of basil and was like "holly cow, this is the best deal of the day." The bunches of basil were enormous! This is what my three bunches looked like:

So, of course I drove home and promtly set out to make a ton of basil. Usually I just throw the ingredients together in the food processor and go. But this time I decided to write down the recipe to post here so it took me a little extra time to actually measure the ingredients.

At my house we put it in everything... spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, over pasta, salad dressings, various appitizers. In fact, tonight I made phyllo trianges with a combination of pesto, goat cheese, and roasted cherry tomatoes... Delish. I make lots of pesto during the summer and save it in little Dixie cups like this...

Pop the little cups in the freezer and once frozen put them in a big freezer bag. Then, you have delicious homemade pesto all year round. Luckily for me, this deal on basil happened the very week that I used up my last pesto cup from last summer's harvest... I think it was meant to be!


4 cups packed basil, washed and spun dry
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 teas. salt
1/2 cup olive oil

1. Place basil, garlic, pine nuts and salt in food processor. Process for 15 seconds.
2. While the food processor is running, stream in the olive oil.
3. After you add on the oil, turn off machine and scape down sides.
4. Process for an additional 20 seconds.
5. Place in tupperware to keep in fridge, or put in dixie cups to freeze.

** Some people also freeze pesto in ice trays. That also works fine.. I just don't have ice trays so I use Dixie Cups.

** To use as a pasta sauce on pasta... 2 small dixie cups is enough for 1 pound of pasta. Combine with cooked pasta, toss in 2/3 cups grated parmesan cheese, and a ladle full of pasta cooking water. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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