Friday, August 31, 2012

Sweet Potato Stuffed Eggplant

In New York, eggplant is in season from July to October. If you live in the stony brook area you can find locally grown eggplants at the farmstands right now. Although eggplant is not one of my favorite vegetables, this dish was so delicious, I plan on making this over and over again.

The eggplant is baked with a filling of sweet potato, tomatoes and cheese. It is then topped with more cheese and fresh herbs and baked until the eggplant is soft and the cheese is melted and crispy on top. Overall, this dish is very healthy with all the seasonal vegetables, just limit the amount of cheese to make it a little healthier. It will still be delicious!

This recipe comes from one of the most beautiful cookbooks I have seen, La Petite Gourmande by Beatrice Peltre. Every recipe in the book looks simply amazing. An added bonus for me, most recipes in the book are gluten free. The writer of this book does not have Celiac Disease but prefers to bake with gluten free grains such as quinoa flour, almond flour and amaranth flour for their flavor. I am looking forward to trying some of her tart recipes in the near future.

Sweet Potato Stuffed Eggplant 
Serves 4

4 Italian eggplants (about 5"-6" long)
Olive oil
1 small red onion-diced small
1 celery stalk-diced small
1 tbsp fresh ground coriander
Pinch of red chili flakes
Salt and pepper-to taste
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 large tomatoes-blanched, peeled and chopped
1 carrot-finely grated
1 sweet potato-peeled and diced
2 bay leaves
4 oz Emmental cheese or Gruyere cheese-grated
Handful of fresh cilantro or basil-chopped

1. Slice each eggplant in half lengthwise. Scoop out the middle flesh of the eggplant using a grapefruit spoon or a serrated knife and teaspoon. Make sure to leave about 1/4" border in the eggplant shell. Sprinkle the eggplant shells with sea salt and turn upside down (skin face up) for 30 minutes. Reserve flesh of eggplant, chop and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the filling by coating a deep skillet with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Bring pan to medium heat and add in onions and celery. Cook until soft and translucent; about 10 minutes. Do not brown vegetables.

4. Add in fresh coriander,red chili flakes, pinch of salt and black pepper. Mix together.

5. Add in tomato paste and chopped tomatoes. Cook 2 minutes.

6. Add in sweet potato, carrot, flesh of eggplant and bay leaves. Cover and cook 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

7. After the filling has cooked 25-30 minutes, add in 3/4 of the cheese and chopped fresh cilantro or basil. Stuff each eggplant half with filling mixture and place on a parchment lines baking sheet.

8. Top with remaining cheese and bake for 45-50 minutes until eggplant is soft and the cheese is slightly brown and crispy on top. Garnish with herbs.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pan Roasted Cod in Broth with Vegetables

I really loved how this dish came out. It made me feel very "chef like" serving this for dinner. The original recipe came from Ted Allen's cookbook In my Kitchen, I added the vegetables to make the meal complete.

The fish came out crispy and flaky, not dry at all, and the broth was so flavorful. If you have any leftover broth make yourself a bowl of french onion soup the next day.

This recipe may look complicated but it is very easy to make for dinner. The only downside is Cod can get pretty expensive from the fish market. If your on a tight budget make this for a special occasion. I made this dish for Layla on her first birthday. She loved it!!!

**This recipe calls for cod fillet with skin on. My local fish market did not have skin-on fillets, so I used skinless and it worked out well. I think it would taste great either way.

2 carrots-small diced
2 celery stalks-small diced
1 small onion-small diced
1 large yukon gold potato-small diced
1 shallot
2 oz pancetta
4 tbsp olive oil
1 small garlic clove
1 quart low-sodium beef stock
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper-to taste
4 (6-8 oz) cod fillets with skin
Flour (I used GF all purpose flour)
Lemon Zest (1 lemon)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a medium pan over medium heat, cook shallot and pancetta in 1 tbsp of olive oil; 8 minutes. Add in garlic and cook additional 1 minute. Add in beef stock and thyme, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Reduce until there is two cups of broth; about 25 minutes.

While the broth is reducing; in another pan heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat. Add in carrot, celery, potato and onion. Cook until vegetables are golden brown and tender; about 25 minutes. Make sure to stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning. (I like the use a non-stick skillet here) Once cooked; keep vegetables warm.

Once reduced; strain solids from broth and return broth to pan. Swirl in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.

When the sauce is reduced and vegetables are tender; heat oven proof pan on medium high heat for 5 minutes. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper and dust with flour.

Add 2 tbsp of oil to hot pan and add fish skin side down. Slide fish at first to prevent sticking. Cook about 3 minutes; flip fish and transfer to the oven for 7-10 minutes.

Place vegetables in a shallow bowl, place fish fillet on top of vegetables and ladle in broth until fish is half submerged in liquid. Garnish with lemon zest.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Super Salad

I recently went on a vacation to Ogunquit, Maine, a location I have been going back to for the last 23 years. There is a reason why my family continues to go back. A room overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, a walk down the Marginal Way to the beach, a cute town with good food, lobster rolls, fishing boats, it is the picture perfect New England town.

During this past visit, we often picked up lunch in town and brought it back to our room, where we sat on the patio overlooking the ocean. I found this salad in an unexpected place, the local bakery Bread and Roses. I ate this most days, I couldn't get enough! I even came home and recreated it a few times and will continue to make this salad at home until I go back to Maine next year.
The View from our room 

The patio where we ate lunch 

They called this salad super salad because it packed full of nutrition and protein. The best part of the salad is the sweet and spicy nuts.

Super Salad
Serves Two (Large portions)


6 oz Fresh Baby Spinach
1 tomato-diced
1 large carrot- grated
Red or green bell pepper- cut into rings or strips
Feta Cheese
1 hard boiled egg -sliced
Balsamic vinaigrette
Sweet and Spicy nuts
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Sea salt-to taste

1. To make the sweet and spicy nuts, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add in the nuts and toast for a few minutes until fragrant but not burnt. Add in the butter and coat nuts as it melts. Add in maple syrup, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and sea salt, mix until all the nuts are coated with syrup and spices. Place the nuts on a single layer on a  sheet of parchment paper to cool.

2. In a large bowl, place baby spinach, diced tomato, red or green bell pepper slices, hard boiled egg slices, feta cheese and grated carrot (use a cheese grater to grate carrots) add in sweet and spicy nuts. Toss salad with your favorite balsamic vinaigrette and enjoy!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Death by Chocolate Trifle

Yesterday (August 15th 2012) was my little sous chef Layla's first birthday. She shares the same birthday as Julia Childs...hmmmm I wonder if it's a sign. We had a little family get together for some dessert and birthday presents and I made this death by chocolate, my go to recipe for pleasing any crowd of people. It is always a favorite and is as easy as it gets when it comes to desserts. This is a time when a semi-homemade recipe comes out just as good as a recipe from scratch and its a lot faster.

This recipe for Death by Chocolate layers fluffy devils food cake, creamy chocolate pudding, crunchy oreo cookies and fresh whipped cream. You can make this dessert ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator. If using fresh whipped cream, which I recommend, try not to make this more than 8-12 hours in advance. The whipped cream may deflate if made to far in ahead of time.

Death by Chocolate
Serves 8-10

1 box of chocolate devils food cake mix- plus ingredients needed on box
2 packages of chocolate pudding (you can use instant or cook and serve)
4 cups milk 9this may vary depending on pudding instructions)
1 pint of heavy cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
20 Oreo cookies-crushed
Strawberries, raspberries or blueberries-optional 

1. Bake cake according to instructions on box and cool completely. You can bake any size cake, its going to be crumbled once it is cooled. You can make the cake a day ahead of time and store at room temperature in air tight container.

2. Make two packages of chocolate pudding according to instructions on box. Place in refrigerator to cool and set.

3. When the pudding is ready and the cake has cooled make the whipped cream. In a mixer, add in heavy cream and whip on medium-high until it begins to thicken. Add in sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.

4. To assemble Death by Chocolate use a trifle dish or large serving bowl and start to layer ingredients. Start by crumbling 1/3 of cake on the bottom of dish, spoon 1/3 of pudding on top of cake and spread evenly, add 1/3 of whipped, add a thin layer of Oreo cookies (add berries, if using) and continue to layer ending with whipped cream and Oreos.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Spicy Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

I have to admit, while I was eating the previous recipe for roasted vegetable quinoa for dinner, I made this sandwich for my husband Tom. I had to fill him up so we could watch food shows on TV that night. He refuses to watch food related TV if I make a vegetarian meal or soup/salad for dinner. Anyways, this is one of his favorites.

The key is the spicy sauce. I make this Serrano chili sauce, adapted from a Bobby Flay recipe, all the time. Tom uses it on sandwiches during the week or even as a dip. This sauce is not for beginners, its very spicy! but has a nice balance of sweet and acid. My sister-in-law Katie will admit when she put it on her burger, she started to breathe fire :) However, if you enjoy spicy food, this is a must try recipe~!

Spicy Pork Tenderloin Sandwich 
Serve 2 people or 1 Tom


Serrano Sauce:
10 Serrano chili peppers (you can substitute jalapeno if you cannot find serranos)
1 small red onion-chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp canola oil
Kosher Salt
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp honey
Juice of 1 lime

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Combine the onion and serranos in a small baking dish, toss with 2 tbsp canola oil and season with salt. Roast in the oven until the onion is soft and the serranos are golden brown and blistered; 15-20 minutes.

3. Transfer mixture to a blender, add the vinegar, cilantro, honey, lime an salt to taste; blend until smooth. With the motor running slowly add in 1/4 cup canola oil and blend until emulsified. This can be refrigerated 2-3 days and served at room temperature or chilled.

1 lb pork tenderloin
Salt and pepper-to taste
Fresh arugula or mixed greens
1 ripe tomato
4-6 slices provolone or mozzarella cheese
1 loaf of Italian bread or french bread- I used a 12" Italian Hero 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a baking sheet place pork tenderloin, coat with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until 137 degrees F at the thickest part; about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to rest.
**** You can make this sandwich with any leftover pork tenderloin or pork chops you have. I sometimes make the pork ahead of time or the day before. You use warm or cold pork for the sandwich.

2. While the pork is resting, cut the bread in half lengthwise and place in the oven cut side down to toast. Once the bread is lightly toasted, turn it over and add the cheese. Place back in the oven for 1-2 minutes until cheese has melted. Remove from oven.

3. Once the pork has rested (at least 10 minutes), cut into thin slices.

4. Assemble the sandwich by adding spicy sauce onto both sides of bread and cheese, then pork slices, tomato and lettuce. Cut in half, grab a glass of water and enjoy!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa

A meatless Monday recipe of roasted vegetable quinoa. Super easy meal that works great for either lunch or dinner. Roast any variety of vegetables found in your kitchen but DO NOT roast cucumbers like my sister Kim  (she thought it was zucchini) . I am planning on nominating her for the Food Network show, Worst Cooks in America. :)

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa 
Makes 2 servings (One larger serving for dinner) 

1 sweet potato-thinly sliced in half moon shapes
1 zucchini-thinly sliced
4 Roma tomatoes-quartered 
1/2 onion (red or yellow)- thinly sliced 
Olive oil
Salt and pepper-to taste
1/2 cup quinoa- cooked according to package instructions 
2 tbsp fresh basil- chopped
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar-more to taste
Drizzle of good quality olive oil-optional

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a foil or parchment lined baking sheet place sliced vegetables on sheet on one layer (do not pile on top of each other). Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 mintues or until softened and starting to turn lightly golden brown. 

2. Meanwhile cook the quinoa according to package instructions. Transfer to a medium bowl and keep warm. 

3. When the vegetables are done mix in to the cooked quinoa . Drizzle with balsamic and olive oil. Top with chopped vegetables 

***Other vegetables that would work well with this dish: mushrooms, eggplant, bell peppers, yellow squash 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

My husband Tom brought me home a bunch of cucumbers from a local garden this week. I wanted to use them in a different way, other than in a salad, so I made a cucumber yogurt sauce to use throughout the week.

This cucumber yogurt sauce is commonly known as raita, used in Indian cuisine. Traditionally it is made with mint or cilantro but I decided to make it with my favorite herb, basil. It is a very healthy and refreshing condiment to use on a variety of different things. I use this on spicy chicken sandwiches, zucchini/potato pancakes, or as a dip for fresh vegetables.

Another plus, Layla loves this sauce. I love that this recipe is a way for her to eat yogurt without it being sweet. I never have a problem with her trying any foods and I so happy she loves a very wide variety of flavors. She loves anything from pork belly to salmon to diced cucumbers. The only thing she won't eat is jarred baby food :)

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce 
Makes 1/2 cup

1 cucumber-small diced
1/4 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1/2 lime-juices
Pinch of salt-to taste
2 tbsp fresh basil-chopped

In a small bowl, combine diced cucumber, yogurt, lime juice, salt and basil. Refrigerate until ready to use.