Lamb Stir-Fry with Pomegranate and Yogurt

Lamb Stir-Fry with Pomegranate and Yogurt

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze. Seriously.

When I looked at the weather forecast for New Hampshire last weekend, I decided to replace my plans for spring hiking, tennis and sunny BBQs with plans for baking – with lots of chocolate. Rebecca had recently recommended the Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Peanut Butter cake. When I checked out the recipe, I decided it was so absurd that I just had to make it. The list of ingredients alone was comical: cream cheese, sour cream, butter, chocolate, sugar, peanut butter, half and half, etc.

It took most of the afternoon to put together the three layers, make the frosting and finally top it all off with the glaze. But it was more than worth it. For those of you who doubt the power of cream cheese, powdered sugar, and peanut butter to make an incredible frosting, this will change your mind. If I made it again, I would probably use less sugar in the frosting and maybe use a mixture of semi-sweet and unsweetened chocolate for the glaze. Did I just say if, I meant when.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fish Sticks for Adults

Before Gloucester Massachusetts made headlines for its high teenage pregnancy rates last year, it was known for Gorton’s Fish Sticks. The bearded man in the yellow raincoat at the wheel of a fishing boat was on the box of many of my childhood dinners. Ironically, I hated fish until I was in college but fish sticks with their mild (some would say bland taste!) never bothered me.

I have now branched out and enjoy all fish with the exception of salmon and blue fish. I have prepared grilled fish, fish tacos, fish curry, and bouillabaisse (with Dad’s help). I usually lean towards white fish with a fruity kick to it from mango salsa or tamarind sauce. Last Sunday however, after a day of hiking in the Hudson Valley, I had an old fashioned fish stick craving. I didn’t want anything fancy – just a flakey piece of cod with buttery bread crumbs and lemon. I opted to avoid the real fish sticks in the freezer section since I doubt they would live up to my childhood memories. Instead I searched for a recipe of an old favorite involving lots of butter and Ritz crackers. The result looked quite elegant – but it actually tasted like a really delicious fish stick.

Maybe you have to be from Massachusetts to think that’s a good thing?

Baked Cod with Bread Crumbs, Herbs and Lemon (aka Fish sticks)

1. Put fresh cod in a lightly greased baking pan (1.5 lbs for three hungry people)
2. Mix together one sleeve of crumbled buttery crackers like Ritz, one lemon, salt, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, and as much melted butter as you feel comfortable with - but no less than 4 tbsp.
3. Cover fish with breadcrumb mixture and then sprinkle generously with fresh herbs. Thyme works well.
4. Bake for 20 minutes.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Pain Perdu

The French call french toast ‘pain perdu’ – or lost bread – which is clearly a superior name for the breakfast favorite. I tend to buy fresh bread fairly infrequently since I’m not a sandwich person and my Hello Kitty toaster is more decorative then functional. I hate to use a few slices and then see it go to waste. Once in a while though, I can’t walk by the three bakeries lined up in a row in Chelsea Market without stopping for a loaf.

The other day I caved and bought a loaf of fresh white bread to make grilled cheese and asparagus soup for dinner. I was then left with half a loaf of ‘lost bread.’ I don’t have the patience to make homemade bread crumbs or croutons. And bread pudding seemed too wintery. Saturday was around the corner however so I wrapped it in paper, balanced it precariously on top of a flower vase to keep it safe from the mice and made sure I had eggs, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla on hand. (By the way, don’t refrigerate fresh bread as it grows mold more quickly and takes on the smells of the fridge…nobody wants Pain Perdu à la teriyaki tofu.)

Saturday morning finally rolled around and the lost bread was rescued from its flower vase and reinvented as buttery, crispy and decadent Pain Perdu.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Tacos

Arguably it would have been more thematic to make grilled rabbit tacos, but we opted for pork instead. Tacos al pastor have been a long time favorite of mine but good ones are hard to come by in NYC. Mercadito has great ones but at approximately $4 a pop, it’s not a habit I can sustain…especially since my record is 15 tacos.

When Ryan suggested making tacos al pastor this weekend, I balked. They seemed intimidating since I can never quite identify the ingredients that give them that savory and sweet punch. However, we looked up a basic recipe, followed it, and were rewarded with homemade tacos al pastor…that probably averaged $1 a pop.

1) Slice a 3 lb pork loin into ½ inch strips.
2) Puree ½ a white onion, 2 pineapple rounds from one sliced pineapple, ½ cup OJ, ¼ cup white vinegar, 3 garlic cloves, 2 chipotle chiles, 1 serrano pepper, ¼ cup chile powder, 1 tsp oregano,1 tsp cumin and a bit of salt.
3) Marinate the pork – preferably overnight – in the mixture.
4) When you are ready to make the tacos, grill the remaining pineapple until charred and warmed through. Then grill the pork.
5) Combine the pork the pineapple on a large cutting board and chop all together into small, bite-size pieces.
6) Serve with corn tortillas, chopped white onion, cilantro and lime wedges.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Peas and Pepitas

Peas get a bad rap. As I mentioned in my last entry, most of us grew up eating them as part of a frozen peacorncarrot combo or partially rehydrated in “Spanish” rice. Although in my eyes, the worst offense is when they are added to guacamole to either save costs or calories. Ick.

But fresh peas are wonderful and in season right now. It’s a bit of work to pop them out of their shell, but then they take less than a minute to cook. And there is something really damn cute about them. They are a great addition to fresh pasta (with cream of course Zuzana!), salads or on their own. Last night I made them like this:

1) Boil fresh peas for 20-30 seconds and then toss into a bowl of ice water.
2) In the meantime, puree a few dates, a cup of mint, ¼ of a Serrano pepper, olive oil and a bit of yogurt if you want to mellow out the spice. Thin it out with water or olive oil.
3) Toast pepitas. Pepitas is more fun to say than shelled pumpkin seeds.
4) Toss together the peas, pepitas and sauce with a crispy, firm lettuce. *I used butter lettuce and it got a bit soggy.