Rosemary Pecans

November 9, 2008

rrpecans
Easy and so, so good you’d better have carryout bags for your guests. The basic recipe works with just about any kind of nuts. Just make sure you don’t burn them. Use your nose. When they start to smell toasty, they’re roasted.

PS You can get Szechuan peppers from mail-order houses like Penzys. Trust me, they’re worth the extra effort.

8 ounces unsalted pecan halves [or English walnuts]
1 T melted sweet butter
1 tsp sweet curry powder
1/4 tsp Szechuan peppers, crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 tsp honey
2 T finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp sea salt or to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degree F. Spread the nuts in one layer in a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and roast until fragrant and beginning to change color, 8 to 10 minutes. In a small saucier over very low heat, melt the butter. Add the curry powder, peppers, honey, and rosemary. Add the warm nuts and salt and toss until thoroughly coated.
Makes 1 1/2 cups.


Baked Roasted Pepper Pasta

May 28, 2008

2 ounces log chevre
2 ounces water
1 bay leaf
2 ounces uncooked small pasta
1 large roasted red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1/8 cup plain breadcrumbs plus 2 teaspoons, divided
2 teaspoons grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons olive oil
sea salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 F degrees (325 F convection). Lightly grease a small, 7-inch gratin dish and set aside.

In a small sancier over very low heat, melt the chèvre with the water and bay leaf. Remove the bay leaf. Add the pasta, pepper, 1/8 cup breadcrumbs, and salt. Pour into the prepared dish and sprinkle with remaining breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and olive oil. Tent with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes (40 convection). Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer or until browned.
Makes 2 servings.


Blond Brownies

April 17, 2008

No chocolate? That’s right. With these ‘blondies,’ you may never crave chocolate again! SAM

1/4 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans or English walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla. In a medium bowl, mix the flour baking powder, and salt and add to the egg mixture. Add the pecans. Spread into the pan and bake for 30 minutes. Cool slightly in the pan before cutting into squares.
Makes 16 brownies.


Baked Bananas with Rum Sauce

February 24, 2008
Aruba
Aruba (Image: Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa)

I feel guilty.  Who am I to deny Harry and Sam a simple, straightforward honeymoon in a tropical paradise?  So today I’m sending them to Aruba, and I’ve invented a new recipe for them so they can enjoy a typical Aruba treat (baked bananas) made extra celebratory with a wonderfully-Caribbean rum sauce to go on top.  Enjoy! – Almostgotit 

Baked Bananas with brown sugar rum sauce

6 firm, but ripe bananas
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
 
Sauce
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons rum
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put butter and lemon juice in 9” x 13” baking dish, and place in oven just until butter is melted.  Stir lemon juice into the melted butter until mixed. Split bananas in half lengthwise and arrange bananas in baking dish, rolling in the butter mixture first to coat. In small bowl stir together brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle sugar mixture on top of bananas. Bake 20 minutes or just until bananas are heated through and butter begins to bubble. Don’t overcook.

Meanwhile, stir all sauce ingredients together in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. The mixture will foam, so watch that it doesn’t boil over.  Cool sauce to room temperature.

To serve, spoon sauce over bananas; garnish with a sprinkle of lemon or orange zest and/or some shredded coconut.

Wouldn’t these be good cut up and served over vanilla ice cream, or stuffed into crêpes?


Eggplant-Pepper Tapenade

September 25, 2007

This tapenade is so good, I eat leftovers for breakfast. Make it as hot as you like but don’t forget to wear plastic gloves or sandwich bags while seeding and slicing the hot peppers. SAM

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 pound peppers: poblano, chipotle, banana, or jalapeña, trimmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound Italian eggplant
2 tablespoons water
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 to 2 teaspoons hot curry powder, or to taste
1/4 cup tahini
Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
Sea salt to taste

In a medium chef’s pan over low heat, sweat the onion and peppers in 1 tablespoon oil until soft, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the eggplant in half and place cut-side down in a glass baking dish. Add the water, cover with plastic wrap leaving one corner open for steam, and microwave on high for 8 to 9 minutes or until the skin is slightly wrinkled and begins to collapse. Microwave longer in 1- or 2-minute intervals, if necessary. Cool, still under the plastic, then gently squeeze out any excess juice and scrap the flesh into a medium mixing bowl. Add the sweated onions and peppers, garlic, curry, 2 tablespoons olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse with an immersion blender until well blended or use a food processor or blender. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve with pita or flatbread.
Makes 2 cups.


Corn-on-the-Cob

September 24, 2007

Okay, after an entire summer of fabulous sweet corn from farmers’ markets, here’s the scoop on preparing Corn-on-the-Cob:

BOILED
Shuck and clean the corn, brushing away all silks. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the corn and boil until tender, 5 minutes for 1 to 2 ears, 10 minutes for 3 to 4 ears. Boiled corn is quite good. The disadvantages of boiling are that it steams up your kitchen and it leeches away some of the flavor.

Steaming, though, does seem to preserve more flavor.

STEAMING ON THE STOVE
On the stovetop, you can steam corn in a basket over boiling water. Shuck and clean the corn and place it in a steamer basket over boiling water. 10 to 15 minutes will make it tender and sweet. Again, though, you’re filling your kitchen with steam—not so good in hot climates.

Or, you can microwave corn-on-the-cob.

MICROWAVE STEAMING 1: Naked Corn
Shuck and clean 2 ears of corn and place them in a microwave-safe container twice as large as the volume of corn. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cover with plastic wrap, leaving one corner open for escaping steam. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Tilt the dish so that the corn rolls over. Microwave for an additional 3 minutes. For greater numbers of ears, check your microwave manual for times. The steamy water makes corn cooked this way very moist and tasty.

You can also microwave corn in the husks.

MICROWAVE STEAMING 2: Husked Corn
Trim the silks and any loose husks and place 2 ears in the microwave oven on top of a paper towel. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn the ears over and microwave for an additional 2 minutes. Remove to a wire rack until cool enough to handle. This method makes the corn drier than steaming under plastic.

MICROWAVE STEAMING 3: Husked Corn, Wrapped
Wrap 2 individual ears still in the husks in plastic wrap and place in the microwave oven. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn the ears over and microwave for an additional 3 minutes. Remove to a wire rack until cool enough to handle. This method makes the corn more moist than husked corn without the wrap, but less moist than naked corn.

It seems so easy to toss husked corn into the microwave, but the truth is I like naked steamed corn best. SAM


Chocolate Milk

September 23, 2007

Remember chocolate milk in those little waxed-paper cartons at school? Well, that treat, tasty though it might have been at the time, was nothing like this fabulous Chocolate Milk. This is basically a design-your-own chocolate drink. Add whatever syrups and flavorings you fancy. If you’re making it for children or don’t want alcohol, substitute flavored syrups like raspberry or caramel for the liqueur and extract. You can serve it cold or hot, with whipped cream or marshmallows. But however you serve it … Enjoy! SAM

8 ounces milk
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon liqueur: hazelnut, almond, orange, etc.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

In a tall glass, combine the milk, chocolate syrup, liqueur, and extract, stirring until smooth. Serve cold or hot.
Makes 1 glass.