Archive | August, 2011

Snacko Backo Anniversary!

31 Aug

Dear Readers,

Today marks the Snacko Backo one year anniversary!  I had a tough time coming up w. an anniversary post… but in the end, I thought I might as well go back to the beginning. Recreating a dish that my mother used to make. I loved my mother’s tomato sauce… with its unmistakable orange color and a touch of sweetness. I would come home from college or california, and my mother would have made this sauce… and I would just eat it from a mug, like soup. (Sybil had a strict no double dipping policy- I would try my best to cheat). Sometimes, I’d have it w. bocconcini that she would buy for me from Citarella (and not allow my father to eat).. or maybe with a couple tortellini or pasta noodles– all secondary to the sauce itself.  My first attempts to recreate it were unsuccessful because I didn’t know where the recipe came from. I tried Silver Palate etc… but as it turns out, it was right where I started– just like the first post Zucchini Risotto— a Marcella Hazan.

Anyway dear reader, i hope you have enjoyed this past year as much as I have. On this occasion, I am also unveiling a new Index section to help in the navigation- let me know what you think. Recipe suggestions and requests for posts are also always welcome– and I do love hearing when you try recipe from here.  Feel free to share this blog with friends, bookmark this page- and if you haven’t already- you can subscribe here —-> on the right hand bar of this homepage- and have updates emailed to you.

Thanks for reading!

From the Tiny Kitchen,
~Tessa

P.S. Did Anonymous really just reveal his/her secret identity in the last post’s comments? Shock and awe.

 

Fresh Tomato Sauce- a Marcella Hazan recipe

I doubled the recipe below- would recommend doing at least that
2 pounds fresh ripe plum tomatoes
2/3 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped carrot
2/3 cup chopped celery [i left this out]
1/2 cup olive oil
salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar.

Wash tomatoes in cold water. Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise. Put in big stockpot, over medium heat. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add carrots and onions [and celery], 2 teaspoons salt, and sugar and cook at a steady simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. [i picked out the tomato skins w. a pair of tongs- not all together necessary, but thought i might as well.] Puree everything through a food mill [i used an immersion blender.]  Add olive oil and cook at a steady simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes. Taste and correct for salt.
If using canned tomatoes: use 2 cups tomatoes and their juice. Start recipe at step 2. adding in w. the carrots, onions etc.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

30 Aug

Peter D’s easy everyday chocolate cake– topped w. Jess S.’ peanut butter frosting. The perfect combination for a housewarming gift to JJ. When gifting a cake- a couple issues come up. You either need a cake box- or some other means of transport- where the frosting won’t get messed up. and you also don’t want to end up giving your cake pan away in the process.  I also hate the idea of giving someone a cake that I haven’t sampled– not necessarily because I just need a bite, but what if it sucks?  I am also not so into the sq cake look– but as I don’t own a round cake pan- it remains the easiest route to go.  To solve all problems, I decided to put the cake  in this fish tin. Using it, as Heather pointed out, like a giant cookie cutter, I laid the tin on the cake, cut around it.. then flipped the cake upside- foil covering excess parts I didn’t want to fall out. Fish was just a bit bigger than the cake, so had to do the tail separately. With the extra bits, I made a mason jar layer cake. I thought maybe i’d have to cut out circles- but really, I just put some in- flatten it down, add a spoon of frosting, add more cake, and continue to layer.  A note about this delicious frosting: Jess S. made this a couple years ago– it was so good- it reminded me of reese’s– and i’ve been meaning to make it ever since.   Jess S. has all sorts of amazing recipes from her Grammie Viv– including this one–which was adapted by her Aunt Julie– then again by Jess herself.

Peter’s Easy Everyday Cake
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder

6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup cold water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powdered espresso

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8×8 pan w. foil and grease w. butter. Empty first set of ingredients in large bowl. Mix. Add liquid ingredients and stir.  Pour into pan. Bake 25-30 minutes. When done, cake springs back when you gently touch w. your finger.  Cool cake on wire rack. Can lift cake out by foil- and onto rack.  Let cool completely before frosting.

Jess S. Peanut Butter Frosting
I halved the recipe below- but use full amount for layer cake, cupcakes etc. Jess said sometimes she uses a bit less butter- and more PB and sometimes water instead of milk.
1 cup peanut butter (more to taste)
1 stick butter, softened, or half cup crisco
2 cups confectioner sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
milk- a couple tablespoons

Beat butter and sugar w. mixer. Add vanilla. Beat. And PB. Beat. Add a couple tablespoons of milk to thin and smooth. If you have it sitting around for a bit while your cake is cooling, and it starts to sort of stiffen- add a drop more milk and mix up and smooth out.

Arugula Pesto Salad

23 Aug

I made this for a picnic at the beach. For a fresh light flavor, I decided to go for an arugula pesto instead of traditional basil.  My issue with making pesto- is that it always makes way too much.  To combat this, you can half the recipe below. Or you can freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays and defrost later (I’ve seen Giada do this.)  For the beach I made this with whole wheat spiral pasta. For lunch this week, I made w. wheatberries, which I find more filling and flavorful- cribbing the idea from 101 cookbooks.  Another thing about pasta salad- which I learned from Ina- is that you should add the dressing while the pasta is hot- to absorb the flavors.

This pesto recipe- is based off a Marcella Hazan- I just used arugula instead of basil. Feel free to make w. either. Or try another green. I’ve made kale pesto- seen recipes for cilantro pesto- and have even had celery pesto. The interesting thing about Marcella’s method, is that she adds oil in the beginning– instead of gradually as mixer is running. Then she hand mixes in the cheese. I approve.

*I forgot to read the fine print on this before- but if you are freezing- do so before adding the cheese & butter. Then add those once defrosted.

Pesto:
2 cups arugula tightly packed (use the good stuff, fresh on stems, much more flavor than those lose greens in a box- this was 2 small bunches) or basil
1/2 cup olive oil [i definitely used less- I think 1/3 cup]
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, chop before putting in food processor
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
3 tablespoons fresh grated romano [i didn’t have any, so left out]
3 tablespoons softened butter [I probably used 1 tablespoon]
[I added fresh lemon juice- probably half a lemon]

Put arugula, olive oil, pine nuts in a food processor. Mix briefly until a consistent consistency. Put in bowl. Fold in cheese. Add salt & pepper to taste. Mix in butter. Squeeze w. fresh lemon juice.

Salad:
1 cup wheatberries
3 cups water
heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved*
olives
pepper (i used a “yellowish” one- it was actually labeled that way at co-op which i thought was pretty funny)
fresh mozzarella- i like the mini balls (twss), bocconcini
lemon

To make wheatberries.  Boil 3 cups salted water. Add wheatberries. Simmer uncovered. I had before posted 45 mins- but this was done in maybe 30 mins. So I’d say start checking at 25 mins. Wheatberries get al dente and chewy. Just try it.  Drain wheatberries- while hot- add a few heaping spoons of pesto. Mix up. Add chopped tomatoes, peppers, olives. When cooled a bit, add cheese. Squeeze w. fresh lemon juice. Additional salt & pepper to taste.

*Cooking channel viewers (different from Food Network) know-  Chuck, of the show Chuck’s Day Off– from Montreal, very easy on the eyes. Anyway… he has a trick for cutting cherry tomatoes. It wasn’t as easy as it looked on TV- but with some practice, it could be. Take one plate, turn it upside down, place on counter. Spread the tomatoes on top (helps if the plates have that little rim underneath). Put another plate, right side up, on top of the tomatoes. Hold top plate down– take a serrated knife- and go right through all the tomatoes.

Moroccan Chicken & Couscous

16 Aug

I love this chicken dish. So much flavor. And so easy.  No meat thermometers, no dry bland chicken, no poking and prodding to see if it’s done.  It cooks up falls off the bone tender- with a flavor combo I love- dates, olives, lemons and a great spice blend. The couscous recipe was written as rice pilaf- and i’ve made that way.  But I think that couscous is not only faster but tastier.

Moroccan Chicken- a Silver Palate recipe
Spice mixture:
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 paprika
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
freshly ground pepper, to taste [sizable pinch]

4 whole legs, separate legs from thighs [best way to do this… sort of rotate and break thigh from legs- you’ll hear/feel the break- then cut where the separation is]
1 lemon
1 cup greek olives, mixed green & black, pitted [doesn’t matter what kind, and this is a lot of olives, so I use a little bit less]
10 dried dates, pitted and halved
[I think olives and dates taste better when bought w. pits. So just rip them in half w. your hands, and take out pits]

Combine all spice mixture ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and mix up coat well with the mixture. Loosely cover and let stand [i refrigerate] for 1 hour.
Heat up deep heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, add chicken, skin side down. Cover and cook for 20 minutes (the chicken will cook in its own juices).
Slice lemons in eighths. Turn chicken over, and sprinkle w. lemon, olives, and dates. Cover and cook another 20 minutes, adding water if the mixture is too try [mine didn’t need it.]

Moroccan Couscous- adapted from Silver Palate.
1 1/2 cups plain couscous
2 tablespoons olive oil [I think I used closer to 1]
1/3 cup blanched whole almonds [optional- i did not use]
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and 1/4 inch diced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2  1/4 cups of chicken stock
1/3 cup dried currants [i use a giant handful, i like a lot]
zest of 1 orange
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives [out of laziness, i leave this out]

Heat broth in small saucepan. In medium saucepan, add olive oil. [if using almonds, saute for 3 minutes until golden and fragrant.] Add onions. Cook for a minute or two. Add carrots and cinnamon cook for another 3 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add couscous, zest, currants, and cayenne. Stir and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff w. a fork.

Summer Salads

11 Aug

Featuring fresh summer ingredients with minimal cooking. Love this zucchini ribbon salad- very light and refreshing. Paired w. goat cheese- delicious. There is an abundance of zucchini in the summer and i’ll tell you that the flavor in your dish- is largely dependent on quality of your zucchini- so pick out a good one, medium size and firm is your best. And the joy of summer corn. I love fresh corn, off the cob, quickly sauteed.


Raw Zucchini Ribbon Salad
2 medium zucchini
1 Lemon
Fresh basil, a handful
Parmesan & goat cheese
Olive oil

Shave zucchini into ribbons w. vegetable peeler. Drizzle w. olive oil and juice of lemon. Chop a handful of basil. Sprinkle w. sea salt & pepper. Mix up. Top w. cheese.


Corn Basil Salad– from Bon Appetit
6 husks of corn
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup (packed) basil
5 plum tomatoes (seeded- taking out middle oozy part- this makes the salad less watery)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Husk the corn. Take a serrated knife and cut raw kernels off over a big bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in skillet over medium high heat.  Add garlic, saute 1 minute. Add corn and cook another 5 minutes. Take off heat, add half the basil.Transfer back to big bowl, cooling slightly. Add rest of tomatoes, basil, vinegar and rest of basil. Season w. salt & pepper.

Spanakopita & Lavendar Honey

4 Aug

a.k.a. spinach feta pie.  Summer weekend in the Adirondaks w. Char, Phil and Rach.  Nothing better than a home cooked meal on a beautiful porch, looking out onto the mountains. Char & I collaborated on the spanakopita. I winged it on the filling. Char did the filo.  Since little triangles wraps are a pain, we decided just to do it on a cookie sheet- and cut into squares.  It was actually, insanely good. Mostly due to the copious amounts of butter- and the sprinkling of sea salt before baking- both courtesy of the lovely Charlotte.

1 package filo dough- important, if frozen, move to fridge the night before to thaw (most boxes come w. 2 packs)
10 oz spinach- i used frozen
1 block feta- I’d say about 3.5oz
handful fresh basil, chopped
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick of butter
olive oil, salt & pepper

Defrost spinach and drain thoroughly, wring out in paper towel. Or if using fresh spinach, cook and drain. Put in mixing bowl w. crumbled feta, basil, minced garlic. Drizzle w. olive oil.  Salt & pepper to taste.
Unwrap filo. Melt butter in microwave. While working, lay stack of filo on a cookie sheet- cover w. damp paper towel to keep it from drying out.  On another cookie sheet, take a pastry brush, paint on a thin layer of butter. Lay down a piece of filo. Brush thin layer of butter and repeat until you have used half the pack. Spoon filling, leaving a small border around the edges. Layer and butter filo, using the rest of the pack. Press down on border edges. Sprinkle top w. sea salt. Bake per directions on filo box- keep a good eye until it turns golden brown. I did 30-35 mins at 350 degrees (even though the filo box said 50 mins)

Honey w. cheese on bread- a wonderful thing. Goat cheese, mascarpone or ricotta work especially well. And this sunflower seed bread, from the Adirondak’s farm stand, so fresh- so good. Of course, regular honey works fine. But as I had some leftover Lavendar Mint (an actual hybrid herb) which has a bit of an anise flavor- so I decided to infuse the honey, which is actually pretty easy.  All you do, wrap herbs in a bit of cheese cloth, tie w. twine. In a double boiler, or I use a pyrex bowl over a small saucepan, boil water below and pour about a cup of honey in top bowl. Add little bag of herbs, cooking honey for about 20-30 minutes, test to see how much flavor has come in. Pour in these great little mason jars- make sure to press on herb bag to get all honey out- last bit is the most flavorful. If you don’t have the cheesecloth, or a mesh tea bag, can put the herbs straight into the honey, you just then have to strain after you are done.

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