Showing posts with label Barefoot Bloggers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barefoot Bloggers. Show all posts

Thursday, August 27, 2009

White Pizza with Arugula (& Potato & Mushroom)--Barefoot Bloggers

Our second Barefoot Bloggers recipe for August; Ina's White Pizza with Arugula was selected by the wonderful Andrea of Nummy Kitchen. I happen to love pizza bianca or white pizza, because I think not having tomato sauce really allows the flavors of the toppings to come out. Ina's pizza is covered in three kinds of cheese--fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese and then is topped with some lightly-dressed arugula salad. 

It sounded delicious but I wanted to cut down a bit on the amount of cheese (love it but don't need so much of the extra fat and calories), but substitute it with some veggie toppings to keep it satisfying. I had decided to add some oyster mushrooms from my CSA box and was trying to think of another veggie when I saw a comment on the BB page from Kate at Warm Olives and Cool Cocktails that said she put potato on her pizza. Bingo! I love thinly sliced potato on pizza. Thanks Kate! ;-) My other confession...I didn't make the pizza dough! (cue gasp of horror!). It's like this, I made the dough when we did grilled pizza last year so I know I can do it but I am having "a week", it was hot today and frankly I just didn't feel like messing with the extra steps. Solution? Whole Foods in their deli section has baggies of freshly-made whole wheat pizza dough that is really good, so I grabbed a bag and saved myself some time, effort and a couple of kernels of sanity. It's cheaper and better than most pre-made crusts and I like the fact I can work the whole wheat in there too. 

You can find the recipe for Ina's pizza in "The Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics" (pages 197-198) or on the Food Network site here.

White Pizzas with Arugula
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten
(Makes 6 Pizzas)

For the dough:
1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110 degree) water
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
Good olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the topping:
3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (7 ounces)
11 ounces creamy goat cheese, such as montrachet, crumbled

For the vinaigrette:
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces baby arugula
1 lemon, sliced

Mix the dough:
Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl. When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Make garlic oil:
Place 1/2 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is clean!) Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Place the doughs on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)

Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.

Make the vinaigrette:
Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the greens.

When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and a slice of lemon and serve immediately.

Tips: Make sure the bowl is warm before you put the water and yeast in; the water must be warm for the yeast to develop. Salt inhibits the growth of yeast; add half the flour, then the salt, and then the rest of the flour. To make sure yeast is still "alive," or active, put it in water and allow it to sit for a few minutes. If it becomes creamy or foamy, it's active.

Notes/Results: This is one good pizza! All of the flavors and textures came together perfectly in this recipe. The whole wheat crust was tender and good. The additions I made were to use my mandoline to cut paper thin slices of a baby Yukon gold potato and I cooked them in the pan with the garlic oil mixture. The mushrooms I softened slightly in a separate pan with a bit of olive oil. Before baking the pizza, I layered the potatoes on the crust, overlapping them slightly and put the mushrooms  on top, then added the cheese, using about 2 1/2 ounces for my pizza, which with the other toppings was plenty. My pizza baked about 11 minutes and was perfect. I would make this recipe again for sure. (I need to use up the rest of the pizza dough anyway!

Thanks to Andrea for a great and delicious choice! You can see who the other Barefoot Bloggers are and see what they thought of their pizzas by going to the BB site here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mango-Banana Daiquiris--Barefoot Bloggers

Our first Barefoot Bloggers recipe for August is Ina's Mango-Banana Daiquiris and was selected by the wonderful Veronica of Supermarket Serenade. Since it is mango season here in Hawaii and I can always get local bananas (usually small, sweet apple bananas), and limes, this is a easy recipe for me to make. Plus if you think about it, Ina's daiquiris are really like fresh fruit smoothies, (except for all that alcohol!), so they are a good way to get a few servings of fruit into your day. :-)

You can find the recipe in Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics (Page 47)

Mango-Banana Daiquiris
Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, Ina Garten
(Serves 4)

2 cups chopped ripe mango (1 to 2 mangoes, peeled and seeded)
1 ripe banana, chopped
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
1/4 cup sugar syrup*
1 1/4 cups dark rum, such as Mount Gay
Mango slices, for serving

Place the mango, banana, lime juice, sugar syrup, and rum in a blender and process until smooth. Add 2 cups of ice and process again until smooth and thick. Serve ice-cold in highball glasses with the mango slices.

*To make simple syrup, heat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Chill.

Notes/Results: Very Good! Two parts sweet to one part tangy in flavor, it's a refreshing drink and not too heavy. I made two changes, the first being using the remains of a bottle of coconut rum I needed to use up instead of the dark rum Ina called for. The second change was to not add the simple syrup, as my mangoes and bananas were both really ripe and sweet, as was the rum. I felt it needed just a little something though, so I added about 1/2 tablespoon of agave nectar, which made it perfect for my tastes. 

Thanks Veronica for picking a fun and easy summer cocktail! You can see the other Barefoot Bloggers and find out what they thought of their daiquiris by going to the BB site here

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Peach Mango & Blueberry Crumbles Made A Bit Healthier--Barefoot Bloggers

Our second Barefoot Bloggers recipe is Ina's Peach and Blueberry Crumbles, selected by Aggie of Aggie's Kitchen, and of course I wouldn't be me if I didn't do something to "healthify" it. Now I really don't have anything against butter, I swear I don't, and if someone made me a piece of homemade fruit crumble or crisp, I would happily eat it without any complaints. Still, I have tried to get myself into the habit of lightening up the dishes I cook at home and making them healthier choices whenever possible. That means cutting back on the fat, sugars and salts and looking for ingredients to replace them that still give me a great tasting dessert. In this case, I removed all the butter and some of the sugar from the crumbles. In fact I removed the peaches too and replaced them with mango. Not because of the health aspects, it's just that really good peaches are not easy to find here and with mango season being upon us, great mangoes are in abundance. My changes (amounts are for a half batch) are in red below. 

You can find this recipe in the Barefoot Contessa at Home (pages 197-198)

Peach Mango and Bluberry Crumbles
Barefoot Contessa at Home, Ina Garten
(Serves 5-6) (Made 1/2 batch which made 5 small crumbles)

For the fruit
2 lbs firm, ripe peaches (6-8 peaches) (Used 1 large mango for 1/2 batch)
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar (used 1/8 cup for 1/2 batch)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint)

For the Crumble
1 cup all-purpose flour (used 1/2 cup white-wheat flour for 1/2 batch)
1/4 cup ground blanched almonds
1/2 cup granulated sugar (omitted)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed (used 1/3 cup brown sugar for 1/2 batch)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 lb (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced (subbed 1/2 cup naturally sweetened applesauce)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily. Place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, mango, slice into thick wedges, and place in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins or custard cups.

For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Combine the flour, ground almonds, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Work the applesauce in by rubbing it into the flour mixture with your fingers until it is in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. 

Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 40 to 45 30-35 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature. If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crumbles int he refrigerator and bake before dinner. Serves 5 to 6.

Notes/Results: Delicious! The fruit is warm and bubbling, the topping crumbly and nutty and they are perfect with a scoop of vanilla fro-yo. Because both my mango and blueberries were quite sweet, I was able to cut a good amount of the sugar down in the filling and using the applesauce in the crust allows the sugar to be cut there too. I added the ground almonds for the texture and nutty flavor, but you could leave them out if you want a lighter textured crumble. A great recipe to use up fresh, ripe fruit, I'll make it again. 

Thanks to Aggie for a great, summery pick! You can see what the other Barefoot Bloggers thought of their crumbles by going to the BB site here

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes--Barefoot Bloggers

Our first July recipe, Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes was selected by the wonderful Cat at Delta Whiskey. It's a pretty healthy dish and perfect for summer. A dressing of sun-dried tomato, capers oil and vinegar is tossed into fresh and sun-dried tomatoes, olives, fresh mozzarella and of course, fusilli pasta. 

I am a fusilli fan, not just for the way sauces cling to its corkscrew spirals but because it reminds me of a favorite episode, ("The Fusilli Jerry") of a favorite sitcom, Seinfeld. In "The Fusilli Jerry", Kramer brings Jerry  a small statue of him that Kramer made with fusilli pasta, announcing that it is "Fusilli Jerry". When Jerry questions Kramer as to why he chose Fusilli to make it, Kramer replies, "Because you're silly!" Kramer says he is also working on a "Ravioli George" and the hard part is to find a pasta that captures the individual. (In a later episode he makes a "Macaroni Midler" for Bette Midler but that's another story!

The Fusilli Jerry ultimately ends up in a very uncomfortable place for George's father when he falls on it, "It was a million-to-one shot, Doc!" A great episode full of many "Seinfeldisms" and the first thing I think of when anyone mentions fusilli, because it is just "silly!"

But I digress when I really should be talking about our pasta dish from Ina. This one didn't require me to make a lot of healthy-it-up changes, just lessening the oil a bit and the salt too, since so many of the ingredients are already salty. I made a half-batch--more than plenty, and for personal taste I cut down on the amount of olives and added in some whole capers to the salad (I loves me some capers). On it's own or served with some sliced chicken, roasted Ina style with a little olive oil and spices and green salad, it makes a great warm weather meal.

This recipe can also be found in The Barefoot Contessa Family Style (Page 58) or at the Food Network site here

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Barefoot Contessa Family Style
(Makes 6-8 Servings)

1/2 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta
Kosher salt
Olive oil
1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium-diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:
5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon capers, drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and basil, and toss well.

Notes/Results: Good! A nice combination of flavors and textures. I used a whole wheat pasta, which I think adds nicely to the texture in a pasta salad and gets a bit more fiber in the mix. I used some local fresh, sweet baby Roma tomatoes that I just cut in half and the sweetness really added a lot to the dish. The sun-dried tomatoes I had on hand are dried without oil but they are nice and soft and I like them better that way. In fact, I cut the oil in the dressing down a bit too, added a little water to thin it out and it was still very flavorful. I really recommend you taste the salad with a bit of the dressing before you add any salt because of the salty profile of the olives, caper and sun-dried tomatoes. I ended up using just the tiniest pinch and it was plenty, (Ina salts a bit too much for me sometimes). This pasta would be a great party, BBQ or potluck dish--it's perfect cold or at room temperature and full of flavor.

Thanks to Cat for a great choice to kick July off with! You can see what the rest of the Barefoot Bloggers thought of this pasta dish by heading to the BB site here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gazpacho--Barefoot Bloggers

Our final Barefoot Bloggers recipe for June is Gazpacho, selected by Meryl of My Bit of Earth. I am a Gazpacho fan and have made several different recipes for this cold Spanish soup, but had never tried Ina's recipe so I was happy to get the opportunity to make it. Another bonus is that there was no butter to cut out, a semi-rare thing in an Ina recipe. Although this is generally a pretty healthy recipe, I did find two things to cut down on; olive oil and salt and I reduced both, (the amounts I used are in red below and are for a half batch of the soup--which still in Ina fashion, makes a pretty large amount). In The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Ina recommends a particular brand of tomato juice called Sacramento Tomato Juice and since I didn't see it at either of the two stores I went to, I went with the on-sale V-8 Vegetable Juice, (the low sodium version because you can always add a bit of salt to taste and you don't get the massive amounts of sodium that are in the regular version), which worked perfectly. Finally, there is just something about gazpacho that calls out for shrimp, so I served mine in a margarita glass topped with fresh parsley and basil and hooked some of the plump pink beauties on the rim--perfect for a summer party.  

In addition to The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, this recipe is also at the Food Network site here.

The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten
(Makes 4-6 Servings)

1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 plum tomatoes
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups) (I used low-sodium V-8)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil (I used about 1 Tbsp for a half batch)
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt (I used a very small pinch for a half batch)
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (I used the full teaspoon for a half batch)

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

Notes/Results: As usual Ina's recipe is great; simple and very flavorful and so good on a hot day or night. Cutting the oil and salt still resulted in a delicious soup--in fact I think even using the low sodium vegetable juice, if I had used Ina's amount of salt it would have been too much. The sweetness of the shrimp is perfect with the savory soup and helps round it out, making it feel more like a meal. The keys to a good gazpacho are great, fresh vegetables, (says the girl who used the on-sale V-8!) and letting it set in the fridge overnight to get nice and cold. When I have made or been served less than stellar gazpacho, it usually relates back to these two things. The fresher and sweeter your veggies, the better your soup, and letting it sit for 12-24 hours allows the flavors to mature and meld together. I also like to get my onion pretty fine, while keeping the other veggies chunkier. There is no worse gazpacho buzzkill in my book than biting into a big old hunk of onion, so I give them a few extra pulses which also makes for a thicker broth. Although I made just a half batch of this recipe, I had enough for a couple of glasses and the rest is going to accompany me to a small tapas party tonight where it will be served in small juice glasses with a shrimp hung over the side of each one as "Gazpacho Shots.

This was a really great pick--thanks Meryl! You can find out more details on the Barefoot Bloggers as well as see what the other BBs thought of this recipe by going to the site here

Thursday, June 18, 2009

(Lightened Up) Cranberry (& Blueberry) Orange (Mini) Scones--Barefoot Bloggers Bonus Recipe Challenge

This month's Barefoot Bloggers Bonus Recipe Challenge, Ina's Cranberry Orange Scones was selected by Em at The Repressed Pasty Chef who referred the most people to the BB site last month. I have a confession to make, I am not a lover of scones. It is not as if I really dislike them or anything, I just find myself occasionally seduced by the ingredients into buying them and they never really seem to live up to the hype I build up for them in my mind. I do like a mini-scone or two when we go out for the occasional afternoon "high tea" but otherwise, I can take them or leave them. Even not being a scone lover, I was happy to try Ina's scones because her recipes are always so great and it also gave me a chance to play around, experiment and lighten them up. Now scone lovers and connoisseurs out there will probably sniff, poo-poo my healthy changes and tell me that if I cut the butter and cream out of a scone, replacing it with non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt and low-fat buttermilk, it really isn't a scone but that's what I did. I also used white whole wheat flour, added some oats, doubled the orange zest and mixed dried blueberries with the cranberries. These changes, (in red below), halving the recipe and making them smaller, (about 1/2-inch tall and just under 2-inches across), gave me 18 baby scones, the perfect size to have two with a cup of tea for breakfast or an afternoon snack. 

The recipe below can be found on the Food Network site (here) or in The Barefoot Contessa at Home (page 214).

(Lightened Up) Cranberry (& Blueberry) Orange (Mini) Scones
Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten
(Makes 14-16 Scones) (1/2 recipe made 18 smaller scones)

4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (used 1 & 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour + 1/2 cup rolled oats for 1/2 recipe)
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (used double the amount)
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced (used 3 Tbsp butter + 1/3 cup non-fat vanilla yogurt for 1/2 recipe)
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream (used 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk for 1/2 recipe)
1 cup dried cranberries (used 1/2 dried cranberries and 1/2 dried blueberries)
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. (Rolled to 1/2-inch thick). You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn't stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter (Used a 2-inch cutter) and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. (My smaller scones baked at about 13-15 minutes). The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners' sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.

Notes/Results: Really good! Nice and moist, not too heavy and great orange flavor. Less crumbly than a normal scone and maybe a little more "cakey" but not in a bad way. I was worried they would be too dense or tough, but they were tender. The combination of the orange, cranberries and blueberries was delicious. I used Ina's glaze recipe without making any changes and it was a nice compliment to the tangy dried berries. (Although I realize that when it comes to glazes I am a lousy "Drizzler" and more of a "Splatterer"). They seem to freeze pretty well too which is good, since they are tasty enough that I might just keep eating them throughout the day. These are not exactly Ina's scones, but a lower fat, lower calorie, healthier choice, still in keeping with the spirit and flavor profile of her recipe and leaving me some wiggle room to indulge in things I am much more passionate about--like chocolate!

Thanks Em for a great choice that was fun to play around with! This is an optional challenge so not all Barefoot Bloggers may choose to make the scones but you can see who did by going to the BB site (here)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Curried Couscous--Barefoot Bloggers

This month our first Barefoot Bloggers recipe is Ina's Curried Couscous, selected by Ellyn of Recipe Collector and Tester. Overall it is a pretty healthy choice, although Ina did find a way to work some butter into it, putting it in the boiling water for the couscous. I cook a lot of couscous and have tried various concoctions and combinations of butter, olive oil, plain water and stock to make it and have found the way I like it best, is to just to cook it in a bit of chicken or veggie stock and skip the butter and oil. I have never noticed a discernible difference in texture and flavor and why not save a few calories and some fat so you can have another of yesterday's incredible BLTs with Caesar Mayo? ;-)  I also used wholewheat couscous, cut some oil from the dressing and increased the amount of the (non-fat) yogurt. I replaced the raisins with dried cranberries (I love them paired with curry and they add nice color) I and added some chopped mint (mainly due to not having enough parsley). I paired it with some Turkish-spice rubbed lamb chops from Tyler Florence (tomorrow's post!) for a flavorful, exotic meal. 

The couscous recipe is from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook on page 94 and can also be found on the Food Network site here.

Curried Couscous
The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten
(Makes 6 (large) Servings)

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup small-diced carrots
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
1/4 cup blanched, sliced almonds
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup small-diced red onion

Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in the boiling water and pour over the couscous. Cover tightly and allow the couscous to soak for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous, and mix well with a fork. Add the carrots, parsley, currants, almonds, scallions, and red onions, mix well, and season to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Notes/Results: Good flavors and textures and an easy and quick side dish. I have a similar recipe with quinoa that I make and I like the flavor of it a bit better than this one because of the citrus flavors I worked into it, however this is still very good and it is a faster to the table alternative. I made the whole recipe and used about a half cup of yogurt with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, which worked out fine. I also upped the curry powder a bit because I wanted a bit more curry flavor. Cooking the couscous in veggie stock also adds flavor, and I really liked the addition of the mint so much that I would leave it in next time I make it. In this case I used this recipe as a side dish with lamb, but with some feta cheese or marinated tofu it would be a great vegetarian entree and adding some grilled shrimp or shredded chicken would work well for a light summer lunch or dinner.

Thanks Ellyn for a great, healthier and lighter pick that is perfect for the warmer weather here. You can see what the other Barefoot Bloggers thought of this recipe by going to the BB site here.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Moroccan-Style "Bruschetta" -- Barefoot on a Budget Challenge

This month our new optional "Barefoot on a Budget" challenge was "Bruschetta on a Budget", making over Ina's Bruschetta with Sauteed Sweet Peppers and Creamy Gorgonzola, (recipe here). The gist of the Barefoot on a Budget challenge is to take one of Ina's recipes and re-do it to make it more budget-friendly. According to the guidelines, we can change the ingredients, cooking method or even the format of the recipe (i.e. turning a cake into pancakes), as long as the end result somewhat resembles the original recipe. I also use it as an opportunity to lighten up Ina a bit, and make a healthy recipe too. Last month, our first BOAB challenge was remaking her Lobster Cobb Salad Rolls which I changed into Salmon Nicoise Salad Rolls.

In her bruschetta recipe, Ina sautes red and yellow bell peppers with capers and basil and serves it on a toasted baguette with creamy Gorgonzola cheese. I kept the peppers, buying a bag of mini sweet red, yellow and orange peppers at the Thai market for $2.00 and kept the idea of a bruschetta-style appetizer. For the budget part, I decided to go through my pantry, fridge and freezer and use just ingredients I had on hand. The result? A healthy and delicious Moroccan-Style "Bruschetta" with Lentils, Sweet Peppers, Yogurt Cheese, Pine Nuts & Spices. This recipe pulls together some simple ingredients into something a little more exotic--it could/should probably be called "Middle-Eastern-Style Bruschetta" but because of the spices in the lentils, the pine nuts and mint, I went with "Moroccan-Style"!

Moroccan-Style "Bruschetta" with Lentils, Sweet Peppers, Yogurt Cheese, Pine Nuts & Spices
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

*1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt, (strained overnight to make yogurt cheese)

For lentils:
2 cups water or stock
1/2 cup dried green/brown lentils
1/2 tsp ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cayenne pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

whole wheat pita bread or flatbread
olive oil (1 tsp for sauteing, extra to brush on bread)
sweet red or yellow peppers or red and yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly
pine nuts
Za'atar spice blend and fresh mint leaves to garnish

*Place yogurt in cheesecloth or yogurt strainer over bowl to drain. Cover top with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night until it is the consistency of cream cheese.  

Place dried lentils in water with spices and garlic. Bring to a boil and cook until lentils are just tender, about 25 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a cookie or biscuit cutter, cut whole grain pita into small rounds. (You can get about 5 rounds from 1 large pita). Brush rounds very lightly with olive oil on one side and place in oven. Bake about 8-10 minutes until they are lightly browned and crisp. Remove and let cool slightly.

While rounds are baking, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a small saute pan. Add sweet pepper slices and cook about 5 minutes. Add pine nuts and cook about another 5 minutes, until peppers are soft. Set aside.

To assemble "bruschetta": Place about 1 Tbsp lentils on pita. Top with 1 rounded tsp of yogurt cheese. Add pepper/pine nut mixture to lightly cover. Sprinkle with Za'atar spice mix and garnish with a fresh mint leaf. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Alternatively, you can omit the lentils and top pita rounds with about 1 rounded Tbsp of yogurt cheese and finish topping with other ingredients per above instructions.

Notes/Results: These were SO GOOD! I mean REALLY good! The pita was nice and crunchy, the lentils lightly spicy and the cooling cheese and sweet peppers were amazing. There is a nice little hit of spice and mint in each bite too. I tried making some of them without the lentils, and although the lentils were very tasty, I liked the ones with just the yogurt and peppers just a bit better because the sweetness of the peppers really came out. Because I had all the ingredients on hand, my only cost was for the peppers. I almost always have non-fat Greek yogurt and fresh mint in my fridge and pine nuts and whole-grain flatbread in my freezer. The Za'atar blend, I had in with all my spices, but if you don't have it you can put one together with some dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, mixed with some toasted sesame seeds and a little salt. I just made a few of these to try out and eat to with some soup for tomorrow's Souper Sunday post, but these will go on my pupu (appetizer) list for the next party I go to. They are easy to put together (you can make them even easier with canned lentils and store bought yogurt cheese or "labneh" if you don't want to plan ahead), tasty and healthy too and lend an exotic, fun air to any appetizer plate.

You can see how the other Barefoot Bloggers taking the Barefoot on a Budget Challenge adapted Ina's recipe and made it budget-friendly by going to the BB site, here.  I think most people will be posting this on Sunday--I just went a day early. ;-)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ina's Outrageous Brownies--Barefoot Bloggers

Our second Barefoot Bloggers regular recipe pick for May is Ina's Outrageous Brownies and was selected by Eva at I'm Boring. If you came by to see how I "healthified" these babies, sorry to disappoint you but I didn't! Some things, like brownies, belong on the "don't mess with it" list. You either go big or you go home, don't try using less sugar or cutting the (gulp!) pound of butter. In this case, I went solely for the portion control plan--making a half batch, keeping a couple and getting the rest out of the house and on someone else's hips. In fact I even went so far as to take out the only healthy, redeeming part of this recipe, the walnuts. For some reason, I just I don't like the texture of nuts messing up the gooey/chewiness factor of a good brownie. To replace them, I added just what this brownie needed, more chocolate! A mix of white, milk chocolate and semi-sweet chips to make them even more decadent. (Not that they needed any help!) Otherwise I left the recipe the same. 

This recipe can be found at the Food Network here or in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (page 172). They were adapted from a recipe for "chocolate globs" in the Soho Charcuterie Cookbook.

Outrageous Brownies
Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
(Makes 20 Large Brownies)

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (1 cup for batter and 1/4 cup in the chips and nuts)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups diced walnut pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.

Notes/Results: As brownies go, these earn their name, they are pretty outrageous; decadent, chocolaty, and very, very good. At first I thought I might have under-baked them a bit too much, then I was convinced that I over-baked them. (Just a little brownie paranoia brought on by the "Do not over-bake!" on the recipe). Finally, once they cooled, I decided that they were just about right and just as moist, and actually even better after a day or two wrapped up in the fridge. The instant coffee powder made them nice and rich and I liked the the different kinds of chocolate chips in each bite. Even a half batch made way more than enough brownies; you need a crowd for these and they are so rich, a little goes a long way. 

Thanks Eva for a fun and delicious pick!  You can see what the other Barefoot Bloggers thought of this recipe by going to the BB site here

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ina's Lemon Cake, (Now Slightly Lightened Up Lemon Cupcakes)--Barefoot Bloggers Bonus Recipe + Giveaway #3 Winner!

Our Barefoot Blogger's BRC recipe this month is Ina's Lemon Cake and was selected by McKenzie at Kenzie's Kitchen who referred the most people to the Barefoot Bloggers site last month. I love lemon and this recipe looked delicious, but since I have been on the "sore throat ice cream diet" most of the week I decided to go ahead and try to lighten it up just a bit to make it at least a little healthier. First step of course is portion control, so I made half and made the cake into cupcakes. I also cut a bit more than 1/2 the butter out, replacing it with some non-fat yogurt, swapped out part of the regular flour for some white whole wheat flour, and lightened up the sugar in the cake itself. (There is plenty sugar already in the syrup and glaze!) My changes are in red below.

The recipe can be found both at the Food Network website (here) or in Barefoot Contessa Parties! on pages 104-105. 

Lemon Cake
Barefoot Contessa Parties!, Ina Garten
(Makes 2 loaves)

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature (I used 1/3 stick butter and 1/2 cup non-fat yogurt for 1 cake or 12 cupcakes)
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided (I used 3/4 cup for 1 cake)
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest lightly packed (6 to 8 large lemons - Use only fresh lemon juice and zest)
3 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup all-purpose flour & 1/2 cup white whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (I used non-fat milk and lemon)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, the key to great cakes is beating the butter and sugar until the mixture's until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed add the eggs, (break the eggs into a dish before adding to the batter to avoid a bad egg or shells in the batter), one at a time, and the lemon zest. Sift together the flour, to make sure there are no lumps, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Separately, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cook 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, cool for 10 minutes, invert them onto a rack set over a tray and spoon the lemon syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

To freeze these cakes, prepare them except the glaze. Wrap them well in plastic wrap and freeze. When you're ready to use, defrost and glaze.

Notes/Results:  Great! Lots of lemony flavor and a good moist texture. This is definitely one for the lemon lovers--it is tart but very good. You could leave off the syrup or glaze to cut more sugar, but for a small portion, you can indulge a bit. I did cut the amount of the glaze down by half which turned out to be a good thing--I should have done the same with the syrup too as it made more than I needed for the cupcakes. Slightly lightened, these were still really yummy, I would make them again, maybe play around with the ingredients and cut even a bit more of the fat. 

Thanks for a fun and delicious pick Kenzie! You can see which other Barefoot Bloggers did this optional recipe challenge and what they thought of the lemon cakes by going to the BB site here.


It is time to announce the winner of my final 300th Post / Blogoversary Giveaway. This week's prize is a fun little Hawaii "foodie stuff" box. I really had a great time reading your comments and hearing what fun, local treats from your neck of the woods that you would give to someone. 

As usual Max decided that helping with the random drawing was beneath his dignity (and energy level) and I was on my own, writing down all the names, folding up the slips of paper, putting them into my Thai bowl, shaking them up and drawing the name of the winner.

Although he tried to be very "helpful" in writing this post after he woke up from his nap.

But I digress.  Let's get on to our winner! (Drum roll please...) And the winner is:

It's Rebecca from Chow and Chatter!  Rebecca is from the U.K. but is currently living in the US. For her local gift box (from the UK), she would give; "British tea-Yorkshire tea, digestive biscuits, custard, Heinz baked beans, Boston Sausages from my Grandparents town, and Cadburys Dairy Milk Chocolate". 

Congratulations Rebecca! Email me with your mailing address and I will get your box of goodies out to you. Thanks to everyone who entered. It was fun to give some foodie stuff away the past three weeks. I hope to do it again!

Have a great week!