Friday, August 31, 2007

Balsamic Berries


This is a simple but delicious dessert -- a nice blend of sweet fresh fruit with a slight tang from the vinegar. Good on its own or as a topping for ice cream or other desserts.

BALSAMIC BERRIES

Ingredients:

  • blueberries, about 1 c.
  • sliced fresh peaches, 1/2-1 c.
  • balsamic vinegar, 3 T.
  • sugar or honey, 2-3 T.*
  • pinch of salt and pepper (yes, pepper!)

Preparation:

Put berries, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a heavy pot; bring to simmer and cook just a few short minutes. Remove from heat, mix with peaches in bowl. Serve chilled or at room temperature, alone, over ice cream, with yogurt, or as a topping for other desserts.

Note:

This can be made with a variety of berries and fresh fruit. You may want to add spices: cinnamon or cardamom, for example. Experiment, and have fun!

*Sugar will simply add sweetness; honey will add a slightly milder sweetness with an overlay of honey flavor.

Cook, eat, dance, love!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Lemon-Spice Bread Pudding

This one's a 5-star keeper. I'll get right to it.


LEMON-SPICE BREAD PUDDING

Ingredients:
  • 6 cups 1-inch bread cubes from day-old rustic bread with crusts (about 11 ounces)
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 c. whole milk
  • 1 c. whipping cream
  • 4 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 t. anise seed
  • 1 1/2 t. grated lemon peel
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast bread on large rimmed baking sheet until golden, tossing occasionally, about 15 minutes. Cool.

In heavy saucepan, heat milk, cream, cardamom, anise, and lemon peel to a simmer. Remove from heat, add vanilla, cover, and let steep at least 30 minutes, up to 2 hours. Strain.

Whisk eggs, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Gradually whisk milk mixture into egg mixture. Add bread and toss gently to combine. Cover and let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours.


Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 9x5 bread pan. Transfer bread mixture to prepared dish. Bake until just set, 60-75 minutes. Cool pudding at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Notes:

The original recipe is from Bon App├ętit, September 2006, and can be found here. I made some minor changes, already written into the recipe above, as follows.
  • I didn't toss the bread with the suggested 5 T. of butter because I thought there was enough fat in the recipe already.
  • I used anise instead of star anise because I couldn't track the latter down.
  • I reduced the amount of sugar by 1/4 c.
  • I used vanilla instead of vanilla bean.
  • I baked it in a 9x5 loaf pan because that's what I had; it took a little longer to bake but serves up very nicely.
This is an excellent bread pudding. The lemon, anise, and cardamom give it unusual and light flavors; the texture is firm and moist without being soggy. Serve alone, or with fresh fruit.

I want to try this bread pudding with a non-dairy base -- I'm thinking rice milk would be good -- so I can serve it to my dairy-allergic friends.

This bread pudding is so good, it'll make you want to cook, eat, dance, love!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

romaine

I found this organic romaine lettuce at our local Heinen's market. Beautiful. I'm going to buy more for grilling.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

bbq tempeh and tofu

This is a great dish -- flavorful and filling but not too heavy. Perfect for summer with corn on the cob, or as a winter sandwich with baked beans. And it's really easy. If you don't like tofu, try tempeh -- it's got a denser texture and some people think it's more satisfying.

BBQ TEMPEH AND TOFU

Ingredients:
  • 1 package tempeh
  • 1 block of extra firm (not silken) tofu, preferably frozen and thawed, drained, and patted dry
  • bbq sauce -- your favorite recipe or store bought
  • onions, sliced (about 1/2-1 onion per baking pan)
  • bell peppers (optional) (amount and prep same as onion)
Preparation:

Cut the tempeh and tofu into slices about 1/3-1/2" thick and as long as you like -- 3" or so is s good size. If you like, brown the tempeh and tofu in a small amount of oil in a non-stick pan.


Put a layer of sauce in the bottom of an oiled baking dish big enough to hold the slices of tempeh and tofu. Add tempeh and tofu in a single layer, then cover with sliced onions and peppers.


Pour more sauce over the top so it comes most of the way up the sides of the tempeh and tofu.


Cover the pan tightly with a lid or foil and bake at 325 F for 45 minutes to an hour. Check periodically to make sure it isn't getting too dry; add a bit of water if it is. The slow bake allows the sauce to go into the tempeh and tofu better.

Remove from oven -- serve as is, or on a bun or other bread with condiments of your choice. This is also good cold and makes a great picnic dish. Enjoy!


And cook, eat, dance, love!