Monday, April 27, 2009

Crunch Time

In an effort to eat healthier, my boyfriend and I have started toasting our own pita chips. The store-bought versions are healthier than some other greasy counterparts like potato chips, but it's sort of a fun way to make your own flavors. And they're tasty dipped in hummus. Here's a simple recipe for starters. To spice it up, vary the ingredients by adding cumin, chili pepper, herbs, garlic powder, etc.

Toasted Pita Chips

-1 bag of pita bread (whole wheat or white)
-Assorted spices
-Extra-virgin Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut up pita bread into triangles - make sure you split the pita bread so it no longer forms a pocket. Brush bread with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. Add any other spices you may like. Arrange on a large cookie sheet and place in middle rack of oven until crispy - about 15-20 minutes.

Serve with your favorite hummus or dip. Serves about 4.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why the world is better with chocolate

I've written several odes to chocolate in my day so I'll spare you the poetry but every now and again (read: everyday) I have a hankering for chocolate and have to share my fondness for it with friends and co-workers. If my boyfriend is reading this, he's probably having a good chuckle right now b/c I tend to start talking about how I want chocolate 5 minutes after every meal.

Am I addicted? Most definitely. But I suppose it could be worse. It's particularly satisfying if you've had a lousy day/week and it's generally a crowd-pleaser at parties. Doesn't matter what form it comes in (cookies, brownies, cake, etc), I just prefer it dark or semi-sweet. I made these cookies for my friend's BBQ last weekend and everyone said they tasted like heaven. They actually taste more like brownies. Even the batter resembles the consistency in brownies/cakes. Let it sit for a bit so it thickens up. And don't thank me, thank Martha for this great recipe.

I admit this picture is not my favorite but we had to leave for the BBQ so I only had a few minutes to find a semi-decent place to shoot the cookies.

Outrageous Chocolate Cookies

Makes 2 dozen
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-second increments, stirring in between, until almost melted; do not overheat. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes; with a thin metal spatula, transfer to racks to cool completely.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Smashing Spring Recipe

It's another sunny day in Southern California as I write this entry. Those of you East Coasters may scoff at that statement because sunny days sure aren't as common as they are here. Folks from my hometown of Rochester, NY often joke that the sky can sometimes be compared to a gray card (the standard reference object for determining exposure in photography). Rochester is, after all, home to Kodak.

Anyway, if you're looking for a sunny, lemony Spring-time recipe that's perfect when dining al fresco, try this one courtesy of FoodNetwork and renowned chef Tyler Florence. We paired it with filet mignon and crab legs but I'm sure it's mighty tasty with some grilled chicken.

By the way, I couldn't decide which pictures I liked best so I posted a few....if you have an opinion, let me know!

Smashed New Potatoes with Peas, Lemon, and Pearl Onions
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence


1 1/2 to 2 pounds red bliss potatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 (10-ounce) box frozen pearl onions, defrosted
Pinch sugar
Splash freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 slices lemon
2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen peas, defrosted
1 lemon, zested
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 heaping tablespoons roughly chopped fresh dill
1 bunch watercress, stems trimmed just above the rubber band

Put the potatoes into a large pot, cover them with cold water, and add a large pinch of salt. If they're large, cut them in half. Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain. Stick a fork into the potatoes, 1 at a time, lift them out of the colander and peel with a paring knife. Toss the potatoes into a bowl and roughly crush them. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil with the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the pearl onions, sugar, and lemon juice and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the lemon slices, peas, and lemon zest and continue cooking until the peas are hot. Season with salt and pepper. Dump the vegetables over the potatoes in the bowl, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil add the parsley and dill and taste for salt and pepper. Scatter the watercress over the top, fold it in just until it wilts and call it a day.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Latvian Easter Eggs

If you're looking for a unique and natural way to "dye" Easter eggs this weekend, look no further than the Latvian way. Growing up, it was the only way my family and I colored our eggs. Check out the article in the link below for directions. The recipe included calls for wrapping the eggs in aluminum foil but we always use cheesecloth or remnants of an old (but clean) t-shirt, tied and secured with kitchen string or white thread.

By the way, the photograph in the article was taken by none other than your truly. Very exciting.

Happy Easter!