Thursday, August 28, 2008

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush is a creamy, light dip made from roasted eggplants. Flavored much like hummus, this zingy little dip will give your next party a fun Mediterranean flair.

2 large eggplants
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 clove of garlic (minced)
6 slices of pickled jalapeno pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup tahini paste
2 tablespoons olive oil

Start by heating your oven to 425 degrees. Once the oven is up to temperature, place both eggplants (whole) on a baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until VERY soft. The skin may actually look a little burned, but this is perfectly normal. Allow the eggplant to cool for about 30 minutes before handling. Once cool, remove the skin from the eggplant and discard. You will use the gooey insides as a base for your dip. Trust me, this will get a little bit slippery and messy, but it's all going to be good eats in the end. Place the eggplant into a food processor along with all of the other ingredients. Process until very smooth stopping every 10 seconds or so to scrape down the sides of the food processor. Season well with a good amount of salt and black pepper, and serve with chips. I chose to use little mini pretzel chips, and they tasted great. Baba Ganoush is traditionally served with pita chips, but hey no one says you have to be authentic every time. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shrimp and Pasta Salad

It's finally raining outside, and we here in Richmond have been very very thirsty. And even though we need this rain so badly, I can't help but feel a bit dreary. To shake a bit of the gloom away, I'd like to feature one of the delicious summery recipes sent to me by PJ Pink the author of River City Food and Wine.

Shrimp and Pasta Salad

This recipe comes together in three easy parts. I will list the ingredients by each separate step, and then explain how it all comes together.


Step one -Salad Dressing:

Juice of one lemon

3 tablespoons of rinsed capers

1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard

A pinch of dried crushed red pepper (or more to your taste)

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 grated romano cheese

Mix all of these ingredients except for the romano cheese together and set aside for a moment. The cheese will be used later as a tasty garnish.

Step 2 -Pasta and Shrimp:

1/2 pound of pasta ( she likes bowties)

1 pound of large steamed/ peeled shrimp

Boil the pasta according to the directions on the box. Do not overcook! Once done, run the noodles under cool water to chill, and then drain well. For the shrimp, you can either steam 'em yourself, or buy some nice precooked cocktail shrimp and remove the tails. Can you tell which way I am leaning on this one? Add both the pasta and the shrimp to your dressing and combine.

Step 3 - Veggies

2 sliced zucchini

1 diced shallot

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Saute your shallot in olive oil until slightly soft ( about 1 minute). Next add in zucchini and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook for another 3 or 4 minutes or until the zucchini is soft. Set aside to cool, and then add into the rest of the salad. Check the whole sald for proper seasoning, and adjust if needed with more salt and pepper.

Let the entire dish chill for at least an hour and top with grated Romano cheese before serving.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Double Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberries, blueberries everywhere. I recently went to our local berry farm, and picked my way through their gorgeous rows of tall blueberry bushes. Inspired by the mounds of frosty looking fruit piled in my kitchen, I decided to indulge in these double blueberry pancakes. These baby blues are perfect for a lazy weekend breakfast or, with a little planning you can easily give yourself a lovely Monday morning treat.

Your favorite pancake batter - prepared ( I used Hodgson Mill's buckwheat mix)
Blueberry syrup (recipe to follow)
Powdered Sugar

Start by heating a non-stick skillet over medium heat with one tablespoon of vegetable oil. Rub the oil around the skillet with a paper towel, or a basting brush to distribute it around the pan. Once the skillet is nice and hot, pour a quarter cup size of batter into the pan, and quickly drop a small hand full of blueberries across the top of the batter. Distribute the berries evenly so that you can get one in every bite! Wait just a minute or two for the batter to bubble up then flip each pancake. Leave in the pan for another 1-2 minutes or until cooked through. For more on creating the perfect pancake, watch this short video by Kathy Maister at
Top pancakes with a couple of pats of butter, blueberry syrup, and a few shakes of powdered sugar.

Adjust this recipe accordingly based on how many hungry mouths you have to feed!
Blueberry Syrup:

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups blueberries

This is easy, are you ready? Pour all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Heat in the microwave for 4- 5 minutes or until thick. This topping can be saved for up to a week. Mine never even lasted that long.

** For an easy weekday morning breakfast, prepare pancake batter ahead of time - it will keep for several days in the fridge, right alongside your syrup.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tomato and Cucumber Bruschetta

Tomatoes and cucumbers play well together. This little recipe came on one of those nights when i was trying to use what I had in the house. My mother used to call it living out of the pantry, and I think learning to improvise and create delicious foods from what you have on hand in an invaluable skill. This delicious concoction has easily earned itself a spot in my list of summer go to appetizers. I originally made this one evening when my Aunt came over for dinner. I was looking for something tasty for us to munch on as we casually prepared our dinner, and sipped our chardonnay. All of the measurements in this recipe are strictly estimates. If you are a little shy on any of the ingredients, go ahead and go for it. You won't be disappointed.

1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup chopped cucumber
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1 small clove of garlic (grated)
3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Serves 5 as an hors d'oeuvres

Here it is, nice and simple. Basically just throw everything into a bowl and mix it up. I know, i wish i could give you more guidance here, but it really isn't needed. This recipe is super simple, so just go with it. Typically I dislike recipes with a ton of ingredients, but it really won't take you long once you collect everything from around the kitchen. I had this done (all of the chopping and everything) in well under 10 minutes. Serve with crackers, crostini, or even tortilla chips. This is best made right before being served.

Tip: If your tomatoes seem really watery, just discard the seeds. Skins are fine though, and even encouraged!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cheesy Zucchini Frittata


6 eggs

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup Cheddar cheese

1 medium zucchini



2 tablespoons of Butter or Margarine

1/2 cup sour cream

Chopped fresh herbs for garnish

Serves 4

A frittata is like an omelet, only much easier. I have to sheepishly admit that I have always had trouble flipping my omelets, and often wound up with some sort of fancy scrambled egg dish (for lack of a better description). So boy, was I thrilled to discover the ease and sophistication of a frittata. All you need is a non stick/ oven safe frying pan, and a few eggs. What you put in your frittata after that can range from leftover steak to vegetables from your garden, to even leftover pasta. Today I'm using zucchini and light Cheddar cheese for a healthy twist. Read on to learn more.

Start by cracking your eggs into a bowl, and whisking them together with 1/4 cup of water. For a rich treat, try using whole milk, or even cream instead! Next, season your eggs generously with salt and fresh ground black pepper. To prep your vegetable, take the zucchini and slice it into paper thin pieces. I like to use my multi-purpose grater. It has a side that works like a mandolin and does a great job of slicing, though a knife will work just as well.

Next, heat a burner on medium heat and melt your butter in the pan. Swirl it around and make sure that all of the edges in the pan are well covered. This will keep your eggs from sticking to the pan. Toss in the zucchini and saute for about two minutes, or until they begin to tenderize. Then add in your eggs, and turn your heat down to low. Let the eggs sit without touching them for about 20 seconds, and then lightly run a spoon around the pan stirring lightly, almost as if you were making scrambled eggs. Don't mix too much, all you want to do is help lift some of the eggs off of the bottom, giving the rest of the liquid a chance to begin to cook.

Once most of the liquid is cooked, sprinkle over the grated cheese, and move your pan to the broiler for about 2 minutes. Make sure your pan is on the top rack of the oven, and then watch carefully! You are looking for your cheese to melt, and begin to lightly brown on top. Never leave the delicate eggs under the broiler for long, or they will become tough.

Once out of the oven, gently take a butter knife, or a heat resistant spatula, and run around the rim of the pan. This will loosen your edges, and make sure that the frittata will slide right out of the pan. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and fresh herbs.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Calling All Cooks- Summer Recipe Contest

Alright... dust off those old family cookbooks, and let's have some fun. I am looking for your favorite summertime eats. What do you just crave in the summer? What goes best with your summer ale, or Chardonnay.

Email your entries to me by August 20th at, and I'll compile a list of favorites just in time for all of your labor day celebrations. I'll try a few out and feature the recipes on my blog at the end of the month.

Ready....Set......Cook away internets, cook away.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Rosemary Seared Steak

In the mood for a steak that will knock your socks off? This is seriously so fast and easy, that you'd hardly even believe it. Add this to your repertoire of great dishes to entertain with. These steaks are meant to cook quickly, and can be seasoned ahead of time.

1 and 1/2 tsp freshly chopped rosemary
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbs butter
1 tbs vegetable oil
12- 14 oz New York Strip Steak (serves 2 people)

Start by mixing up the salt, pepper, and rosemary in a small dish.
Next, score the meat on both side as shown below in a criss-cross pattern. No need to cut deeply into the meat, but just run a sharp knife along the surface to create little ridges and crevices that will hold onto your delicious rosemary rub.
Next rub the meat with your rosemary mixture and let rest for a few minutes. Heat a skillet on medium high with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Just as the oil begins to smoke, slip your steak into the pan and let cook on one side for about 3 minutes or until very dark brown. This can feel a bit like walking on a tightrope, because what you are trying to do is get the meat as close to dark brown as possible, without actually burning it. In other words, watch carefully. Once the desired color is achieved on one side, flip your steak and cook for another 3 minutes on the second side. Depending on the thickness of your steak this will result in meat cooked somewhere between rare and medium. If you like a more well done steak, cook your steak over a medium flame for slightly longer on each side. For a more rare steak, crank up the heat to high and cook for only 2 minutes per side. Whatever your poison, this one is guaranteed to be a winner. Once out of the pan, let the meat rest for 5 minutes so the juices can redistribute. Top with small pats of butter, and serve with potatoes and a salad for a great meal any night of the week.