Saturday, May 30, 2009

Barefoot on a Budget: Bruschetta with Sautéed Sweet Pepper and Creamy Gorgonzola

So one of our newer challenges at Barefoot Bloggers is the "Barefoot on a Budget" challenge. We take a Barefoot Contessa recipe that has some ingredients that are on the more expensive side, and make them affordable to make.

This month's recipe was Bruschetta with Sautéed Sweet Pepper and Creamy Gorgonzola

I was working against the daylight so I didn't get a chance to make a step-by step post about it but it's a very easy appetizer!

For a shortcut I found a bag of grilled peppers in the frozen veggie section at Super Target. I sauteed them in a pan with a bit of olive oil and leftover roasted garlic. After about 7 minutes, I sprinkled in a teaspoon of sugar to help them caramelize them even more. I also added a teaspoon of drained capers and a sprinkle of chopped basil. Cook this for another 3-5 minutes.

While your peppers are cooking, now is the time to prep your bread. I just thinly sliced a baguette, brushed the slices with olive oil, and put them in the toaster oven for 2 minutes, or until light brown. Once the bread is done, top each slice with a bit of the peppers,and add a few sprinkles of crumbled Gorgonzola. Put this back in the toaster oven for another 1 or 2 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Enjoy!

Monday, May 25, 2009

French Chocolate Macarons

There's a reason why Paris is my favorite city in the world. Not for the famous artwork, the Eiffel Tower, or the Champs Elysee. It's because of the food. The wondrous food. Pastries especially. Last summer, as my friends and I were walking through the Jardin de Tuleries on our way to the Louvre, we noticed a pastry shoppe in the park. Its name was Paul. Just glancing in the glass window, my heart stopped and it was love at first sight. I saw a beautiful chocolate confection sitting there looking scrumptious and so tempting. Without thinking twice, I forked over my 4 Euros and they handed me my chocolate goodie. Well this goodie was a chocolate macaron.

Most Americans think of a macaroon as a coconut type cookie dipped in chocolate. French macarons are like a cookie that's crisp on the outside, and chewy on the inside. Many pastry shops in Paris are very well known for their Macarons, including Pierre Herme and Laduree. I believe that Laduree was responsible for making all of the delicious looking pastries in the Marie Antoinette movie!

One of my favorite food bloggers would have to be Tartlette. I could honestly spend hours looking at her perfection in baked goods. She is one of the people that have inspired me to take better food pictures and also inspired me to attempt to make these chocolate macaroons. The recipe I used is here and it made about a dozen filled macarons. Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Barefoot Blogging: Lemon Cake

One of the bonus recipes for this month's Barefoot Bloggers challenge was Lemon Cake chosen by McKenzie of Kenzie’s Kitchen! I ended up making this, and since it made two loaves I kept one at home and left one at the house. It was gone within a day!

The cake was like a cross between a pound cake and a regular cake. Not heavy, but not light and fluffy. The lemon sugar glaze added just the right bit of tarty sweetness on top. This is a great one for summer picnics!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Barefoot Blogging: Seared Tuna Salad

Before you don't read this post because you think it's going to be about a regular ol' Tuna Salad, stay with me. Trust me, you'll need to check it out.

This is anything BUT a tuna salad you've ever had in your life. This is not a soggy pile of canned Bumblebee tuna with chopped celery that never fails to overpower it. This is a combination of flavors that does nothing but leave you wanting more after you've had your last bite.

Here's the printable recipe so you can follow along

Here's the ingredients you'll need..... it may look like a lot, but the sauce uses it all.

First up... the tuna. I'm a big fan of fresh tuna, not canned. It may be more expensive but trust me when I say that it's worth it. Seared tuna is like a great steak. It should be rare, and if you overcook it then it's awful.

Let's take a look at this steak and you'll see why you need to make sure you don't overcook it.

Please don't cook this well done. If you even think about it, I'll come and find you and may slap you.

You can sear your tuna as is, but I enjoying taking it to the next level and I like to crust it. It adds an extra crunch and fantastic flavor. I found this wonderful toasted sesame ginger crust at Whole Foods and I'll be using that. I just patted it down all over the tuna, like this

Go to your stove and get a sautee pan searing hot. And I mean HOT. Drizzle in a few tsp of olive oil so your tuna steak won't stick to it.

Add your tuna steak to your amazingly hot pan and cook for ONE MINUTE on each side. I also like to flip it on the sides and cook for about 20 seconds on each side. Take it off the stove and let it set.

While that's resting, let's turn to the dressing and veggies.

We're going to need the zest of a lime. Grab your handy microplane and get to work.

After you're done zesting, we need the juice of it!

*** for those following the recipe, I'm making a different dressing than what's listed!***

Add in 2 TBS of olive oil, 1 TBS of soy sauce, 5 dashes of Tabasco, 1/2 tsp of toasted Sesame oil, 1 tsp of salt and pepper. I found that to balance the tartness of the lime, that a little squeeze of honey balanced it out perfectly.

Whisk this until it is all combined.

I also wanted to kick up the flavor, so I was a naughty girl and added a few drops of Sriacha for an extra bite. Where would I be without Sriacha in my life?

Next up, slice up an avocado and cut it into chunks. Take 1 stalk of scallions and slice it very thin. Then take 1/4 of a red onion and chop it into very fine pieces. Toss this all in the dressing you've made.

Turning back to the tuna. I've cut a few slices just to present it, but then I chopped the rest into cubes.

Ah, yes. Perfection. This is my kind of Tuna Salad. For those that like sushi, it reminds me of a sushi roll minus the rice!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Caprese Salad

I'm not sure about the rest of you, but my family despises waiting for tables on Mother's Day. Sure, you want to give your mom a break and take her to lunch or dinner, but so does EVERYONE else! So what can you do to remedy that? Why order Carrabba's Catering! We hosted a family get together at my house today, with two family sized orders of Chicken Pollo Rosa Maria and Chicken Parmesan.

With the main dishes ordered, that left us to figure out what sides we would serve alongside this feast. We decided to stick with the Italian theme and made roasted asparagus, roasted broccoli topped with shaved Parmesan, tossed salad, and roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

I decided to throw together one of my favorite Italian salads... a Caprese salad. One of the absolute easiest and tastiest salads you could possibly make. All you need is in season tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil. I seasoned mine with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and some freshly cracked garlic pepper.

If you really want to wow your party guests, then you can artfully arrange it on a nice plate. It's a guaranteed crowd pleaser!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Friday Night Fun

Picture this. It's a Friday night. You're single. You're at home. What does one do? Why cook mussels of course, who wouldn't do that? Well I finally visited a seafood shop in town that I had been eyeing for awhile but never took the plunge and went in. And I was rewarded with some of the freshest and best priced seafood I've ever seen around town. I quickly snatched up some mussels, already knowing what I'd make with them.

One of my favorite things to order in restaurants is mussels. There's something so special and delicious about those tasty bits cooked in a white wine and herb broth. I always knew that it's be so easy to make at home, so I wanted to give it a go.

Go through your mussels and remove the beard and scrub them really well to remove any dirt. Put them in a bowl of cold water with 1/3 cup of flour. Why flour? Because the mussels will absorb the flour and expel any dirt that still may be in them. Let them soak for 30 minutes, then rinse and drain.

Basically to make the broth, you take about 2 TBS of butter and 2 TBS of olive oil and cook until the butter is melted. Add a half cup of shallots (or very thinly sliced onions if you don't have shallots). Add in a half can of chopped tomatoes, a lot of chopped parsely, two cloves of chopped garlic, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and a few sprigs of thyme. Oh yeah, and a cup of white wine. It's okay to have a swig or two for the chef ;)

Bring this broth to a boil.... and it will smell so amazing by this point. Add your cleaned mussels, and cover with a lid. Cook this over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, until they are all opened. Discard any that did not open. Stir to make sure they don't burn on the bottom. Once finished cooking, pour the mussels and the broth into a big bowl and serve with a crusty piece of bread to soak up that delicious broth. Make sure you have a glass of wine or three for yourself as well!