Monthly Archives: March 2015

Farinata

farinataI have friends and coworkers who head to Vegas pretty regularly for conferences and just plain old fun. They can keep all the gambling. Not interested. But the shows and food always look so great. How many pictures of delicious dinners can one woman endure?

Some friends of mine who happen to be vegan were recently in Vegas and mentioned the great meal they had at  Batrolotta Risorante di Mare. I was intrigued and let my fingers lead me on a Google search to a list of vegan recipes at the various Wynn restaurants. Steve Wynn has really done a great job creating a very special dining experience for his vegan guests. He partnered with Tal Ronnen, a very highly respected and incredibly creative vegan chef to create a huge selection of vegan offerings. Good job, men!

So many things to choose from! I really needed to do my own copycat version of one of these fabulous recipes. I finally settled on Farinata like the Farinata alla Ligure from the Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare. Never heard of it Farinata? Neither had I before yesterday. Farinata is a savory baked pancake made with chick pea flour. I happen to make amazing regular baked pancakes so this seemed right up my alley. And since this is a very versatile recipe, I could top it with my own selection of veggies. Not that the shaved fennel, arugula and capers didn’t sound great. I was just in the mood for something else.

Farinata
1 1/2 cups chick pea flour – you can get it at Whole Foods
2 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Italian seasoning or 1/2 tsp fresh chopped rosemary

1. Combine the chick pea flour, water, olive oil and seasoning and whisk until smooth. It’s going to be very thin. Allow to sit at room temp for no less than 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 450.
3. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron pan.
4. CAREFULLY pour the batter in the pan. It will sizzle and make quite a show. Very appropriate for a Vegas vegan dish, don’t you think?
5. Put the pan in your hot oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until it’s nice and brown.

I got a little impatient with my Farinata. It smelled so good! I took it out a few minutes early. It was still crispy around the edges and soft inside, but if I had just waited another five minutes, I know I would have had a masterpiece!

I topped my Farinata with sautéed onion and wilted spinach. It was great! It must have looked and smelled really good because The Teenager asked for some. No veggies, of course, but he ate several wedges. Good enough for me!

I had a lot of fun browsing vegas.com, especially the Wynn Hotel Page.  So much information all in one convenient location! You may remember that web design is a thing that I do. I can usually find something wrong with pretty much every web page ever made. Not so with this one. It is so clearly labeled and easy to use. Contact information right at the top of the page. Hotel rates in a calendar down below. Pictures of every amenity. I’m sold. I am so planning a trip very soon!

I am looking forward to another chance to make Farinata. I really love it! This is something that happened in Vegas that doesn’t need to stay there!

Enjoy!

Bonus Post – Brie and Pear Stuffed Puff Pastry and a Book Review

bpsppSeveral weeks ago, a friend forwarded me an email from a group of Indie book publishers offering books to review. Sounded like a pretty sweet deal to me and a great way to motivate me to read an actual book, as opposed to a bunch of random articles on FaceBook. (Don’t judge. You do it too.)

I selected a book by a man named Lowell Press called “The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon.” I contacted Lowell which was kind of thrill for me since I’ve never corresponded with an actual published author. Boom! Response in a few minutes and my book was in my hands a few days later.

I LOVED IT!!!

This book was Lowell’s first novel and it’s great. It’s a YA novel about a mouse kingdom in and around the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, where the author and his son had many of their own adventures. There are battles, intrigue, ruthless evil mice, brave and clever mice, scary cats, not scary cats and food.

As the story goes, garden mice are recruited to go on quests for “Goldessen” for the evil mouse leader, the König, to give as an offering to the Emperor Wolfsmilch or he will attack with his huge army of forest mice and destroy all the mice in and around the castle. Or will he???? It is up to two mice, Sommer and Nesbit to figure that out.

There are so many elements of this book that I loved. I enjoyed the concept of the story teller who pretty much brainwashes the recruits into completing their mission. I also liked the “Giver” and the “Taker”. One entity or two? Woodland God? And I was really drawn into how the mice perceived the humans in the story.

There were big gaps between my readings, but I did finish this book pretty fast. I expect I read it in about four hours total. The book has something for everyone. It has many aspects to keep very young readers engaged and the political intrigue will keep older readers interested and perhaps even seeing parallels to modern politics. I know I did!

Now let’s talk about the Goldessen. Described as “a piece of the golden Sun wrapped in a piece of the gray moon to protect it”, this special cheese sounded a lot like Brie to me! It seemed obvious that my book review should come with a recipe that used Brie. But it had to be something worthy of a palace that wouldn’t take too much time. Well thank goodness for frozen puff pastry!

Brie and Pear Stuff Puff Pastry
1 sheet of puff pastry
1 pear
A wedge of Brie
4 ounces of proscuitto

1. Thaw the puff pastry according to the instructions on the package.
2. Roll it out and mark it in thirds. I used a knife to mark a line on the pastry.
3. Cut the rind of the brie and slice it in long pieces and lay on the middle third of the pastry.
4. Cover the brie with prosciutto.
5. Top the prosciutto with slices of pear.
6. Slice each of the out thirds into pieces so you can fashion a sort of braid by folding one piece of pastry over the center, alternating sides.

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7. Bake according to the instructions on the pastry package. Mine baked at 400 for 40 minutes.

I know I made it, but this dish was fit for a king. Or an emporer. But the König is not worthy of this really delectable treat. I loved the way the sweetness of the pears contrasted the saltiness of the Brie and prosciutto. And I really like that I managed to get a few European flavors into one very simple pastry.

This could be made so many ways. Apples, walnuts and Brie. Raspberries and Brie. Bacon! The possibilities are endless, as I probably say too much. Another good dish for the Easter Brunch crowd too!

I hope you’ll support this new author and read his book. It’s perfect for a spring break beach read.

Enjoy!

ksm

Asparagus and Cheese Quiche

aqQuiche is a great thing to know how to make. You can add many things to it and have a very quick and elegant meal. Everyone in my house will now eat Quiche but it hasn’t always been that way. I used to have to make up names for it like “Egg and Sausage Pie” or “Scrambled Egg Pie”. Now that my kids are older, I have given up on calling things cute little names and just call them what they are. So liberating.

I had a ton of eggs, and thanks to a school fundraiser, we were on a pie kick in my house. Time to use up the eggs and make a dinnertime pie!

Asparagus Quiche
6 – 8 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheese of choice
1/4 diced onion – you can saute it if you’d like
1 pie shell
12 pieces of asparagus with the tough ends removed
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Beat the eggs and milk until light and fluffy.
2. Stir in the cheese, onion and salt and pepper.
3. Lay the pie crust in the bottom of a pie plate and pour the egg mixture into it.
4. Top with the whole asparagus.
5. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes until set.

I didn’t precook the asparagus so they were slightly crunchy on top of the quiche. And I have to say, I was really pleased with how this looked. I’m sorry you don’t have the same experience with your image of this Quiche. I obviously took the picture with my glasses off so it’s a little blurry. Trust me. It looked good enough to serve for say, Easter brunch! If you want to add some meat, pancetta or diced ham would be a good addition. I did add some pancetta to mine because it was nearing its end date and I didn’t want to have to throw it away. Lots of Quiche recipes also call for nutmeg. I left it out. I don’t love it at all.

If asparagus is a no go in your house, feel free to throw in any old veggie that your people will eat. The nice thing about this was that, since the asparagus was on top, it was fairly easy to pick off, if that’s how things work in your house.

Enjoy!

Insanely Delicious Cheesecake

Original post: June 18, 2013. Repost for PI DAY, 2015!

Good old,Pinterest. What else is a woman to do bright and early on a Sunday morning, before her family has awaken? She gets her coffee and quietly logs onto the computer to browse Pinterest for food and fun. This week, I came across this delicious cheesecake recipe from Rock Recipes. They called it Raspberry Tuxedo Cheesecakes and made them in cute little muffin sized morsels. I decided to go for the gusto and do a whole cheesecake as dessert on Father’s Day.

Please follow the links above for the original recipe. It’s quite easy. I made a few modifications which I will list below. Or you can use your own favorite cheesecake recipe and add the fruit of your choice for a tasty treat of your own creation.

Insanely Delicious Cheesecake
Crust
1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs of choice
6 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup sugar

1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor.
2. Press into a nine inch pie plate or a nine inch spring form pan.
3. Bake for ten minutes at 350.

Cheesecake
2- 8oz packages of lowfat cream cheese
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 pint raspberries

1. Combine all the ingredients and beat on medium high until nice and smooth.
2. Carefully pour over the crust.
3. Dot the top with the raspberries
4. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes until cheesecake is set
5. Remove and cool.

Ganache
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1. Combine cream and chocolate in a double boiler and heat until chocolate has melted.
2. Remove from heat and cool for three minutes.
3. Pour over the center of the cheesecake, and spread carefully towards the edge, leaving 1/2 to 1 inch uncoated.
4. Cool for 3 hours in the springform pan.
5. When ready to serve, pop the side off and leave on the bottom but at least put it on a pretty plate.

As you may know, this is a lot of steps for me. But my poor honey had a hard day yesterday and deserved the effort this dessert took.

Thanks to Rock Recipes for the inspiration. I hope you’ll bookmark their page. There’s a ton of good stuff on it.

Enjoy!

Honey Sesame Chicken

hscMany of the best slow cooker recipes require you to cook for just a few hours. This doesn’t usually work for me. I guess if I could prep things on the weekends and have them all set in a ziplock, I’d be golden. My kids could put them on when they got home from school. But that doesn’t usually happen.

With snow days number 8 and 9 this week, I had plenty of time to give one of these short time slow cooker recipes a try. I started with this recipe for Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken from The Kitchen Whisperer. I didn’t have all the ingredients so I modified it a bit and I used chicken thighs, not breasts. My version is below. Click on the link above to see the original recipe.

Honey Sesame Chicken
2 lbs chicken – I used thighs
1/2 cup honey – original called for a full cup but I didn’t have enough
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp grated ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger
4 tbsp ketchup
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbsp cornstarch
6 tbsp water
Green onions and sesame seeds to garnish

1. Place the chicken in a 5 quart slow cooker that you have sprayed with cooking spray.
2. Combine honey – cayenne (no water, cornstarch or garnishes yet!) and pour over the chicken.
3. Cook on high for 2-3 hours.
4. When done, take the chicken out and leave the sauce in the pan.
5. Combine corn starch and water and make a slurry.
6. Pour that in the slow cooker with the sauce and mix. Cook for another ten minutes on high until it thickens slightly.
7. Chop up your chicken and put it back in the sauce. I also added about two cups of broccoli florets.
8. Serve with rice and garnishes.

This was a huge hit. I knew it would be and I really can’t wait to have it again. I plan to make up some more sauce this weekend and have My Faithful Assistant put it on for me on Wednesday when he gets home from school.

This would be great with beef or pork, too. And it would be fantastic with some crispy vegetables.

Enjoy!