Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pan Seared Salmon with Zucchini Parmesan Risotto

An impressive meal that is cooked at home shouldn't take hours to prepare. This dish is a perfect example of that because it looks really fancy, it's delicious, and it takes about a half hour to prepare. Okay so you're probably inmidated already because of the risotto but my easy method of pouring all the stock in at once and letting it cook in the oven produces the easiest, fool-proof risotto ever. Also, the unlikely paring of zucchini and parmesan add a little bit of freshness to the rich and luxurious risotto.

3 (6oz.) salmon fillets, skinless
1 cup arborio rice
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup white wine
1 zucchini, grated
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 lemon, zested
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350ºF

In a medium saucepan melt the butter then add the Arborio rice and stir until all of the rice grains are coated in the butter

Add the white wine, stir until the wine is reduced, and add all of the stock at once  and bring it to a boil

Then cover it with a lid and place it in the oven for 20 minutes until all the risotto is creamy and has absorbed all of the liquid

Add the parmesan cheese, grated zucchini, lemon, salt, and pepper to the risotto then keep it warm

Heat the olive oil in a pan then season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and add it to the hot pan and cook it for 5-6 minutes then flip and cook it for 2 minutes on the other side

Serve each plate with a portion of risotto topped with a salmon fillet

Serves 3

Friday, October 17, 2014

Rhubarb Streusel Coffee Cake

During the weekend, I love to indulge in a Saturday morning brunch complete with poached eggs, smoked salmon on bagels, waffles, and coffee cake. Coffee cake is the main focus of this week's recipe. I love coffee cake but it can be very boring at times so I'm using seasonal rhubarb and a pinch of cinnamon to liven up this classic breakfast treat. Rhubarb is very tart and sour so when it's in a dessert or anything sweet, it really cuts through the some of the sweetness and richness. I also personally think that rhubarb is very underrated because it's super versatile; it's excellent in desserts but it's also delicious with meat, fish, & pork as well as on top of oatmeal for breakfast. And while it's in the oven, the rhubarb and its juices leak into the cake so it keeps it nice and moist. 

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 sticks of rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tbsp. light brown sugar

Streusel Topping:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350ºF

In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy then add the eggs, one at a time, along with the vanilla extract

Mix the flour and baking powder into the mixture then pour in the milk and stir until a cake batter forms

Spoon the cake batter into a buttered and parchment-paper lined 9 in. square pan

Toss the rhubarb in the brown sugar in a small bowl and scatter it on top of the cake batter

Rub the flour and butter together in a bowl, add the brown sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle it ontop of the rhubarb and cake batter

Bake it in the oven for 25-30 minutes until it's golden brown and when a toothpick is inserted into the center it comes out clean

Let it cool for 10-15 minutes and serve it with coffee and tea

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Roasted Balsamic Pork

I love a Sunday roast and this particular recipe highlights the classic flavors of fall such as pork, apples, rosemary, and balsamic vinegar. The fruity balsamic vinegar adds sharpness as well as character to an otherwise boring piece of meat such as pork. This pork roast remains very tender by searing it first before you cook it in the oven. Searing not only keeps the moisture in the meat but it also allows the meat to brown and caramelize before you roast it. This recipe is not only delicious but it's also very easy to prepare and is impressive enough for dinner parties or special occasions.
1 (3 lb.) boneless pork loin roast
1 large onion
2 Granny Smith apples
1 cup balsamic vinegar
3 sprigs of rosemary 
2 slices of smoked bacon
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup water
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350ºF
Heat the oil in a pan over high heat then season the pork with salt and pepper
Sear the pork roast in the hot pan until golden brown on all sides
Meanwhile roughly chop the onion, apples, and bacon then place them in a large roasting tray with the rosemary and water
Pour the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar into the pan and continue to cook for pork for a few more minutes, then place the pork and balsamic juices on top of the apples and onions 
Roast the pork in the oven for about 1 hour 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145ºF using a meat thermometer
Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving with creamy polenta

Friday, October 3, 2014

Soda Bread

Not all homemade breads need yeast in fact this soda bread recipe is really quick and easy to make. Soda bread uses baking soda instead of yeast to give it a light, airy texture and to help it rise. Also it doesn't need to rest or proof so once all the ingredients are mixed together, it's ready to bake. This soda bread is best served warm with butter or with a stew or soup.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 baking soda
generous pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 375ºF

Mix all the ingredients together until a very sticky dough forms

Place the dough on a floured baking tray then using a greased piece of plastic wrap, form it into a round loaf

Bake the soda bread in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown then let it cool for about 15 minutes

Serve the soda bread with bread or a rich, hearty stew

Friday, September 26, 2014

Passionfruit Creme Brûlée

I Iove to take a classic dish and add a fresh spin to it to make it more interesting . This time I make creme brûlée but give it a tropical twist by adding passion fruit. Passion fruit is a tropical, exotic fruit that is available at some specialty stores. By adding passion fruit to the creme brûlée, it cuts through the richness and gives it a fresher, slightly tart flavor. Plus this is a dessert that can be made in advance so it's perfect for a dinner party or any occasion.
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
3 passion fruit, cut in half

Preheat your oven to 325ºF

Pour the heavy cream into a saucepan and scoop the passionfruit pulp and seeds into the heavy cream and heat until it comes to a boil

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together then gradually add the heated cream 

Ladle the mixture into 6 (4 oz.) ramekins and place the ramekins in a roasting tray and fill the tray half way with hot water

Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes until it's mostly set but slightly jiggles in the center

Let them cool at room temperature then let them chill in the fridge for a few hours

When ready to serve, sprinkle each creme brûlée with about 1 tsp. of sugar then caramelize the sugar with either a kitchen torch or place it under a hot broiler

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon meringue pie is a dessert that's really gone out of style these days but I want to revive it and give it a fresher twist. A lot of recipes for lemon meringue pie call for storebought pie crusts and those are very convienent but a homemade pastry crust is so much better. The lemon curd is slightly tart so it doesn't make the whole dessert super sweet. This lemon meringue pie is certainly a treat that takes time and patienence but it's all worth it!

1 cup all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2-3 tbsp. cold water

Lemon Curd:
4 lemons, zested and juiced
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
2 tsp. cornstarch

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
pinch of salt

In a bowl, rub together the flour and butter together until it resembles fine breadcrumbs then add the sugar, egg, and cold water and form it together until it's a soft dough ball 

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge for an hour then roll it on a floured surface until it's the thickness of a penny

Lay the dough over a tart case, trim the edges of the dough, and line the inside with parchment paper and fill it with dry beans then chill it for a further 15 minutes

Preheat your oven to 400ºF and cook the tart case for 15 minutes then take the beans out and cook for an additional 5 minutes before letting it cool

In a saucepan, whisk the lemon juice and zest, egg yolks, sugar, butter, and cornstarch together over low heat until the mixture has thicken

Pour the lemon curd into the cooled pastry case and refrigerate until the curd has set about 30 minutes

Heat the sugar and water into a pan until the sugar has dissolved and it resembles a syrup

Whisk the egg whites and salt (by hand or by a mixer) to soft peaks then slowly add the sugar syrup until a glossy, meringue has formed

Spoon the meringue onto the pie and uses a kitchen torch, toast the meringue until it's golden brown

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Eggs Benedict

Eggs benedict is a classic breakfast/brunch dish that you see on a lot of hotel and restaurant menus but it's really simple to make at home. Every element of this dish is perfect; the toasted English muffin topped with crispy, salted bacon then a perfectly poached egg is placed on top of the bacon and the whole dish is finished with a dollop of rich, buttery Hollandaise sauce. The Hollandaise sauce is the only tricky part of this dish because you've got to have the patience to slowly add the butter to the egg yolk so that it won't split. So why not treat yourself or a loved one to breakfast in bed this weekend with this eggs benedict recipe!

2 English Muffins
8 slices of bacon
2 eggs and one egg yolk, room temperature
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 (4 oz.) stick of unsalted butter, melted
salt and pepper

Over a saucepan of simmering water, place a bowl on top of the water making sure the water doesn't directly touch the bowl

Place the egg yolk in the bowl and whisk the lemon juice into the egg yolk then very gradually add the butter to the egg yolk

Continuously whisk the butter into the egg yolk until a thick yellow hollandaise sauce forms then season with salt and pepper

Crack the two whole eggs into a pan of boiling water and let them poach for 3-4 minutes

Meanwhile cook the bacon in a pan for a few minutes until crisp and browned

Slice the English muffins in half and toast them until they're lightly golden brown

Top each English muffin with two slices of bacon, a poached egg, and a spoonful of the Hollandaise sauce

Serves 2

Friday, August 29, 2014

Asparagus & Pea Soup

Canned soups, although convenient, are loaded with sodium and MSG. And making soup at home is much healthier and easier than buying it from the store because you know exactly what's going into it. The classic combination of asparagus and peas take center stage in this vibrant and fresh soup. If you're not a fan of asparagus or peas you can put spinach, broccoli, or any other green vegetable into this soup. Make this wonderful soup at home for dinner tonight and you'll never give canned soup another look again.

1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 brunch of asparagus, chopped
large handful of frozen peas, thawed
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup milk
3 sprigs of thyme
1 lemon, zested
1 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan

Add the chopped onion and sauté for 3 minutes then add the chopped garlic and thyme and let it continue to cook for 1 minute

Pour the stock and chopped asparagus into the saucepan and let it simmer for 10 minutes

Add the peas, lemon zest, milk, salt and pepper to the pan and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes

Using an immersion hand blender, blend the soup to your preferred thickness (if you like it chunkier don't blend it as much, if you like it creamier blend it until the soup is smooth)

Serve the soup in bowls, drizzle each bowl of soup with a little extra virgin olive oil, and serve with grilled crostini

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Smoked Salmon Fritters with Mustard & Dill Mayo

Appetizers are the best way to start a dinner party and these smoked salmon fritters with mustard & dill mayo will never fail to impress your guests. Smoked salmon is usually served on a bagel with cream cheese for brunch but by incorporating them into a corn batter and frying them, they're perfect finger food that everyone will enjoy. Also, if you don't like smoked salmon you can use cooked shrimp instead.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
4 oz. smoked salmon, cut into small pieces
1 cup mayonnaise
1 heaped tbsp. wholegrain mustard
few sprigs of dill, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
Olive oil, for frying

Fill a pan halfway with olive oil and heat the oil until it reaches 350°F

In a bowl mix the flour, cornmeal, and baking powder together then add the egg, milk, and melted butter and stir until well incorporated

Fold the smoked salmon into the corn mixture and drop the fritter mixture, tablespoon at a time, into the hot oil and fry for a few minutes until golden brown

Mix together the mayonnaise, wholegrain mustard, chopped dill, lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and pepper until combined

Drain the fritters on a few sheets of paper towel to remove the excessive oil

Serve the fritters on a bed of arugula with the mustard & dill mayo

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Spinach & Bacon Pasta Bake

This spinach & bacon pasta bake is a very simple dish to make at home that is guaranteed to satisfy your family's taste buds. Creamy pasta, crispy bacon, and fresh spinach all come together in one delicious family meal. This pasta bake is not only delicious but really inexpensive. It's also really quick to make, so in about 15 minutes dinner is ready for everyone to enjoy! You can also add sautéed mushrooms, onions, and/or leeks to this dish. Serve this pasta bake with a salad and warm bread (try my easy homemade focaccia bread recipe) to make it a complete meal.

3/4 lb. penne pasta
10 slices of smoked bacon, chopped
a handful of baby spinach, chopped
1 cup crème fraiche
pinch of chili flakes
1 cup of grated parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat your broiler to high

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil then add the penne and cook for 8-9 minutes

Cook the chopped bacon in a pan until crisp and browned then drain the bacon from the grease

Drain the pasta and add it back to the pan along with the crispy bacon, spinach, crème fraiche, chili flakes, and the grated parmesan cheese

Pour the pasta into a baking dish and sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese and panko breadcrumbs

Place the baking dish under the broiler for a few minutes until golden brown

Serve each portion with a fresh salad and enjoy!

Serves 4-6