Thursday, August 23, 2012

Zucchini and Mint Gazpacho with Radish Salsa

Finally, after 7 days of being in Missouri I have made a home cooked meal.  It's sad, but true.  I went an entire week without preparing food.  And I didn't like it one bit.  Except for the times when I was feasting at my favorite restaurants, having a glass of wine, and enjoying great company instead of slaving in the kitchen.  That part wasn't so bad.

Several days ago my mother kindly informed me that I would be preparing dinner for some of their friends.  This time constrained news sent me into a planning frenzy.  Luckily, I was informed that Tom, a good friend of my parents who happens to be a phenomenal cook and sincere food lover, would be grilling the main dishes leaving me in charge of only the side dishes and dessert.  Whew. 

After speaking with Tom about what he would be grilling I started to pull some things together.  I knew I wanted some late summer veggies, a lot of color, and things that would go well with some steak and grilled seafood.  Flavor was also on the list.  Obviously. 

And so...this is what we ended up with:
the appetizers - Spicy Grilled Portobello Mushrooms plus a Shrimp and Avocado Salsa
the sides - Zucchini and Mint Gazpacho with Radish Salsa, Lobster and Apple Summer Salad, Baked Summer Tomatoes, and Cheesy Garlic Biscuits
the "meats" - Grilled Swordfish, Filet, and Garlic Shrimp
the sweet stuff - Toasted Coconut Cream Pie

Not too shabby, right?

As it should be completely obvious...we feasted.  However, I managed to take a few pictures before everyone started digging in just so I could share with you.  Feeling special?

The first one I'm going to share is the gazpacho.

Because I absolutely adored it.  It was light.  Refreshing.  Eye-popping colors.  Great flavor.  And it was my first attempt at a non-tomato gazpacho.  I'm sold.

Adapted from Coastal Living Magazine

Makes: 4-6 servings   Prep Time: 15 minutes   Chill Time: 1 hour   Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

{Printable Recipe}

1 pound zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
1/3 cup green onions, sliced
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 slice bread, torn into pieces (I used ciabatta)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup radish, finely chopped
1 tablespoon red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

1. Combine first 8 ingredients with 3 tablespoons olive oil and 3/4 cup water in a blender.  Puree until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Cover and chill for 1 hour.
2. Combine radish and the next 3 ingredients in a small bowl.  Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, tossing to coat.  Pour gazpacho into bowls and top with radish salsa.  Garnish with mint leaves or fresh chive.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Flour's Sticky Sticky Buns

Remember yesterday when I told you I'd be back to share the most sinful dessert in the world?  Well, it's time.

But first, I have a few questions.  Do you have a major sweet tooth?  Do you like self induced sugar comas?  Do you want to knock the socks off of your guests?  Do you have a tall glass of milk handy to wash these babies down with?

If you answered YES to any of the above get ready for some major swooning, plenty of instructions, and way too many pictures.

Ever since I started baking out of the Flour bakery cookbook people have been telling me that the Sticky Sticky Buns from Flour are their absolute favorite.  Having never indulged while at the bakery I decided it was time to see what these things were all about.  Now that I have tried them I can sum the Sticky Bun frenzy up in about three words.... 1)sugar 2)butter 3)ooey-gooey-heaven


Let's get started.  And remember, these take a little while so make sure to plan ahead!

First, you have to make a basic brioche dough.  It's simple and also comes from the Flour cookbook.  Keep this recipe handy because I might have another recipe up my sleeve that will call for it.

Click {here} for the basic brioche dough recipe.

After you have reached step 5 in the basic brioche recipe you can continue on to the Sticky Sticky Buns.

-Sticky Sticky Buns Recipe from Flour Cookbook-

Makes: 8 buns   Prep Time: 45 minutes   Rise Time: 2 hours   Bake Time: 35-45 minutes   Cool Time: 20-30 minutes   Total Time: 4 hours

{Printable Recipe}

for the goo-
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
 for the rolls-
1/2 batch Basic Brioche Dough
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped
(To toast the pecans spread in an even layer on a baking sheet, bake for 7-8 minutes.)

  1. To make the goo melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the brown sugar until it dissolves.  Remove from heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, and salt.  Let cool for 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature.  (This can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator!)
  2. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough (from the brioche recipe given above!) into a rectangle about 16 by 12 inches and 1/4 inch thick.  Position the rectangle so a short side is facing you.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and half of the pecans.  Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough.  Starting from the short side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle just like a normal cinnamon roll.
  4. Cut the roll into 8 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide.  (At this point the buns can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week.  When ready to bake, thaw them, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 2-3 hours and then proceed as directed.)
  5. Pour the goo into a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface.  Place the buns, cut side down and evenly spaced in the baking dish.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to proof for 2 hours.  Or until the dough is puffy and the buns are touching.
  6. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350°.
  7. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes.  One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter, and spoon the extra goo and pecans from the bottom of the dish on top.
  8. Best served immediately or within 4 hours of baking.  The buns can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day and then warmed in a 325° oven for 6-8 minutes before serving.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Meal Plan Monday -- Vegetables Galore

Have I told you that I'll be making my way to Missouri this week?'s true.

Three weeks.  One wedding (Congratulations to the future Mr. and Mrs. Ruble!!).  One float trip.  One trip to Mizzou.  A little work at the Tea Room.  Plenty of lake time.  Even more family time.  Dining at all of my favorites.  And making things at home with my momma.  Three weeks might not be enough time.

It's my last trip of the summer and I can't believe it's already here.  How did the warm days pass by so quickly?  I guess I still have another three weeks until school (my final year!) begins so I can't complain too much.

As you can tell, my trip home is going to be full to the brim with activities.  So, when I'm not around for a few days...or you start to think I've just downright disappeared...don't fret.  I promise I'll be back.  I have some recipes stockpiled (thank you planning ahead!) and I'll be sure to get those out to you every so often.  I also promise to take some pictures of the feasts that get prepared in my momma's kitchen...because they always do.  Maybe I'll even throw in a new eatery post from back home?  Or two?

That might be a little ambitious...

This week's meal plan isn't exactly set in stone.  Since I am leaving quite early on Wednesday morning I don't plan on my teeny kitchen seeing half of these things before we leave.  But I will probably be making two of them before we leave.  And then hopefully some more once I arrive home and get to pilfer through my momma's garden or go to the new farmers market...Yes, please.

Enjoy the recipes, have a good week, and I promise I'll be back soon....

....maybe even tomorrow....with the most sinful dessert of all time....

 Portobello Peach Burger

--I hate to play favorites...but...I'm definitely making this before we leave...--
 Baked Summer Tomatoes
-from Fresh 365

 Tomato Galette

 Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Zucchini

Stacked Tomato, Summer Vegetable and Grilled Bread Salad

Minted Zucchini, Pea and Lemon Cucumber Salad

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Black Bean Veggie Burgers

The other night as I was preparing to make some food, I told the guys we would be having Black Bean Veggie Burgers for dinner.

Their meat deprived stomachs took over their sense of hearing and immediately threw out the words "black, bean, and veggie" leaving them thinking I was actually making big meaty burgers for dinner.  They seemed somewhat disgusted but not so secretly hopeful that I was being serious.  I quickly put an end to their salivating mouths by repeating myself with an emphasis on the black bean veggie part.

I think know there was a tinge of disappointment lining their questions about what exactly a "black bean" burger was.  Is it just beans?  How does it stay together?  Does it have vegetables?  What else is in it?  I can only assume it wasn't the actual contents of the burger that was duping them but rather a tiny bit of hope for some sort of meat product.

The skepticism continued right up until the moment that the burger entered their open and hungry mouths and then it fluttered away far more quickly than I had anticipated.  They oohed and aahed.  They praised the homemade buns, the unforeseen deliciousness of the burger, the yummy sauce slathered on the bun, and left me overall satisfied with my afternoon in the kitchen.

I took something that could have been an easily thrown together meal and turned it into an afternoon.  I carefully constructed my recipe for the burger, prepared homemade brioche buns (recipe coming soon!), created several sauces, and ended up with a pretty darn yummy meal.

And now it's your turn.  You can make it an afternoon or you can throw it together in thirty minutes.  It's up to you.  I highly encourage the homemade buns but don't require them.  Toppings are yours to choose.  And so are the sides.  Seems pretty great, right?

black bean veggie burgers

Makes: 4 burgers   Prep Time: 10 minutes   Cook Time: 10-20 minutes   Total Time: 30 minutes

{Printable Recipe}

1 can black beans, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
1/2 can corn, drained
1/2 red pepper or 2 baby red peppers, cut into large pieces
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 shallot, cut into large pieces
1 egg
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
toppings- (optional)
4 slices cheddar cheese
1 large tomato, sliced thin
1 avocado, pitted and sliced thin
4 homemade (or not) buns
"Spicy Sauce" - Consisting of mayo, steak sauce, finely minced garlic, salt, pepper, and tabasco
(I didn't measure quantities so just start small and do a lot of taste testing!)

1. Gather your ingredients.
2. After draining, rinsing, and patting the beans dry transfer them to a large bowl and mash with a fork.  You can mash them entirely or leave a few whole.  It's up to you!
3. In a food processor combine corn, cilantro, red peppers, shallot, garlic, and olive oil.  Pulse until thoroughly combined.  Add mixture from the food processor to the bowl of beans along with the bread crumbs, egg, spices, salt and pepper.  Stir well.
4.  Form mixture into 4 patties.  If grilling, wrap burgers in foil and grill for about 8 minutes on each side.  If baking, place patties on a lightly greased baking sheet for 10 minutes on each side in a 375° oven.  If pan frying, heat a bit of vegetable oil in a large skillet or spray with non-stick spray and cook burgers for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Top with cheese to melt if using.
5. Spread both sides of the bun with "spicy sauce" or whatever else you may be using.  Start with a handful of arugula, top with the black bean burger, then add the avocado and tomato.
6. Serve immediately with homemade fries, sweet potato fries, a simple salad, or a yummy bowl of gazpacho.
7. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Melted Cheddar and Apple Sandwich on a Croissant

As I mentioned in one of my last posts (10 days ago!  Too long.  I know...) I spent this past weekend in New York City with my family.  We had such a lovely time exploring the city, spending time together, and sticking out like sore thumbs as tourists from Missouri...especially in such a large group.

In case you didn't notice my unusually long absence it's because I was without internet access in New York.  Of all places to not be connected to the wireless world, right?  The internet wasn't working at the hotel so after one failed attempt I gave up and decided to have a weekend away from the computer.  I'm not saying I was completely shut off from the world but it was nice and so much more simple.  It seemed that it was a reminder that I was there to enjoy time with my family and not there to be putting up blog posts or anything of the sorts.

And because of that simplified weekend away from the has taken me a few days to get the motivation to get back to it.  So thank you for your patience.

I thought I would go ahead and share this recipe that I've been holding on to because it reminds me so much of fall...and I can't tell you how ready I am for that crisp New England air to start blowing in.  You better believe that within a few short weeks I will be picking my own apples to make this sandwich again.  It's one of my favorite New England activities.

Have you been to New England in the fall?  No?  Well, it's even more beautiful than they say.  You should make your way here this fall.  Or at least go google some pictures.  It will have you wanting an apple pie or a cup of hot tea in no time.

Makes: 2 Sandwiches   Prep Time: 10-15 minutes  Melt Time: 5 minutes   Total Time: 20 minutes

{Printable Recipe}

2 croissants (or bread)
1 apple, cored and sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg (optional)
4 thick slices of your favorite cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 250°.  In a medium skillet melt butter over low heat.  Add apple, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Saute for 10-15 minutes or until apples are tender.  Assemble croissant by placing two slices of cheese on each croissant and dividing the apples evenly between the two.  Place the entire sandwich in the oven for approximately 5 minutes to melt the cheese.  Serve/eat immediately and enjoy!

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