Monthly Archives: February 2011

Sticky Maple Scones

jillpickle:  I had the urge to bake something fast and easy but also healthy and slightly sweet.  The Sticky Maple Scones were a great choice!  I used a low-fat recipe from Cooking Light, made even lower fat since I used skim milk instead of 1%.  I’ve made this recipe twice, once with 1/2 cup oatmeal substituted for  1/2 cup of flour.  When the scones came out of the oven, I immediately forked them and then glazed them with maple syrup.

Here is how I like to eat them!

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Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Puree

jillpickle:  I was in an adventurous mood to cook and saw this recipe in the March issue of Cooking Light.  Even though scallops are expensive, you don’t need many to make a meal. (I used 1 pound instead of 1 1/2 pounds.)  I thoroughly drained the scallops on paper towel and seared them over high heat-3 minutes on each side-perfect!  The cauliflower puree intrigued me.  It seemed so unique!  I did wonder though with little seasoning if it would turn out too bland so I threw some foil wrapped garlic heads in the oven, ahead of time, for 45 minutes at 350 degrees to roast.  I used half of 1 roasted garlic in the mashed cauliflower-potato mixture and I added more salt.  I drained the potato-cauliflower mixture once it was cooked and reserved the liquid.  I used the electric hand blender and slowly added some liquid back in as needed.  It turned out very well!!  I also made pea-pod, carrots and mushrooms to go with this meal, however, it was too much to keep track of and the veggies got a bit overcooked.  Next time, I would just add something simple like a salad.  Fresh raspberries and oranges and Pinot Grigio completed the meal.

Smoked Salmons Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper and Ricotta

Katie:  I was looking for something different to try along with a baguette to accompany the delicious Sweet Potato, Carrot, Apple, and Red Lentil Soup that Flori made.  Ever since I had smoked salmon in Denmark, I’ve been wanted to make something with it, so when I spotted this recipe for Salmon Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper and Ricotta, I knew I had to try them.  I roasted the peppers first, and used this recipe for the ricotta and chive filling.  Instead of using ricotta cheese, I used cottage cheese and pureed it with a hand blender before mixing in the fresh chives, lemon rind and juice, salt, and pepper.  Once the peppers were cool and peeled, I layered a piece of salmon, a piece of roasted pepper, and a bit of the ricotta mixture, and then rolled them up.  They were really good!  This would make a good appetizer that could be prepared ahead of time.  The ingredients would probably also work well layered on baguette slices.

Beet Risotto

Matthew: I love beets a lot.  I’ve put them in almost ever kind of dish before, but never in risotto.  Luckily, I have Risotto by Judith Barrett and Norma Wasserman, a cookbook entirely devoted to risotto that includes one recipe for beet risotto.  I made this red dish for my Valentine’s Day dinner and served it alongside chicken and apple sausages.  It made for a really good dinner!  Here’s the recipe:

5 cups broth (I used low-sodium chicken broth)

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon oil (I used olive)

1/3 cup finely minced onion

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

2 whole beets, washed, peeled, diced

1/4 cup cream

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Bring the broth to a steady simmer in a saucepan on top of the stove.  In a heavy, 4-quart pot over moderate heat, heat the butter and oil.  Sauté the onion for 1-2 minutes, until it begins to soften, being careful not to brown it.  Add the rice to the onion, stir with a wooden spoon for 1 minute.  Add the wine and stir until it is completely absorbed.  Add the diced beets (I chose to roast mine ahead of time and add them a few minutes before the risotto was done cooking).  Begin to add the simmering broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently.  Wait until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup, reserving about 1/4 cup to add at the end.  Stir frequently to prevent sticking.  After approximately 18 minutes, when the rice is tender but still firm, turn off the heat and immediately add reserved broth, cream, Parmesan, and parsley–and stir vigorously to combine with the rice.  Serve immediately.

Guinness Chocolate Cake

Matthew:  My goal for Valentine’s Day was to make a very indulgent chocolaty dessert.  Last year around this time I made molten chocolate cakes, but this time I went for a more traditional cake.  I had some leftover Guinness to use up, so I used this King Arthur’s Flour chocolate stout cake recipe that had a lot of good reviews.  I wanted to be indulgent, but when I looked at the ingredient list (4 sticks of butter!  1 pound of chocolate!  4 cups sugar! 2 cups cream!) I decided that half the recipe would be more than enough for me.  I just made one 9-inch cake and topped it with a nice thick layer of the ganache.  I used Hershey’s special dark cocoa and Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate, so the cake has a very intense dark chocolate flavor.  Next time, I might mix in a bit of semisweet chocolate just to add a little more sweetness to the ganache.   It is really delicious though and it goes perfectly with a glass of red wine.

Tuscan Tuna and Bean Pitas

Katie:  On Friday evening after a stressful week, I wanted a quick meal that wouldn’t take too long to prepare.  This recipe for Tuscan Tuna and Bean Sandwiches from Gourmet was just what I was looking for.  The recipe is a retake on a classic sandwich filling, healthier and more flavorful.  It includes a bean mixture, similar to humus, skipping tahini and adding fresh herbs, and a tuna mixture, that uses olive oil instead of mayonnaise to bind everything together.  I made a few changes to the original recipe, including replacing some of the olive oil with plain yogurt, which worked well.  Fresh basil and lemon add a lot of flavor.  I served the tuna and bean mixtures with whole wheat pitas.  They were really good!  I would definitely make these again.  Here’s the recipe with the changes I made:

Tuscan Tuna and Bean Pitas (Adapted from Gourmet)

For beans

  • 1 (14- to 15-oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (other beans would probably also work well)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For tuna salad

  • 2 (6-oz) cans tuna, drained
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Prepare beans: Coarsely mash beans with a fork in a bowl, then stir in garlic, lemon juice, oil, basil, salt, and pepper.

Make tuna: Flake tuna in a bowl with a fork, then stir in basil, olives, celery, onion, oil, yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until combined.

Assemble pitas: Cut pitas open and toast.  Spoon one fourth of bean mixture into each pita, then top with one fourth of tuna salad.  Add sliced tomatoes, greens, or other fresh vegetables, if desired. Enjoy!

I served the leftovers with Rosemary Rutabaga Fries (roasted in the oven and seasoned with garlic, fresh rosemary, and sea salt).

Homemade Pasta with Mashy Peas

Matthew: It had been a while since the last time I tried making homemade pasta, so I thought I’d give it another go.  I opted for a simple shape and cut the dough with a kitchen knife.  The dough itself was just eggs, flour, salt, and water.  I had a hard time rolling the dough out thin enough, so my pasta was almost dumpling-like, but it was tasty nonetheless.  For the meal, I decided to make a sauce with mascarpone cheese, shallots, and peas.  Once the peas had been cooking for a while, I mashed them a bit and then added some sun-dried tomatoes.  The sauce was really creamy and delicious with the pasta.  I’ll definitely keep mashy peas in mind for quick week-night meals (minus the homemade pasta, which made this a several hour week-night meal!).