Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sauteed Summer Corn with Mushrooms and Cilantro


This is one of those recipes where you read the list of ingredients and say "those flavors don't go together!" but then you taste it and it's AMAZING. Like, completely, mind-blowingly amazing. I first had this dish, well, ok, a similar dish, last summer when we ate out at The Slanted Door in San Francisco. I know everyone is always raving about the Slanted Door's shaking beef or whatever, but this dish is the one I couldn't get out of my mind. Fresh sweet white corn. Mushroom. A hint of heat. Butter. AMAZING. If I recall, the original had green onions and chanterelles, but I've been making it with cilantro and crimini mushrooms and loving it.


It's getting to the end of the summer, and I imagine you are starting to get tired of corn on the cob, and you're ready to shake things up a bit. And also, you probably have fresh sweet corn coming out your ears this time of year. This would be a great bring-along dish for a barbecue, or just a great side for a weeknight dinner.


Fresh Sweet White Corn, Sauteed with Crimini Mushroons and Cilantro


- 5 ears sweet white corn, husks removed and kernels cut from cobs
- 1 cup crimini mushrooms, stems removed and cut into a medium dice
- 1/4 cup butter (1/2 a stick)
(to make this dairy free, substitute coconut oil or olive oil. Both are healthy and delicious!)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 bunch chopped cilantro (about 1/2 a cup)
- kosher salt
- cracked black pepper

In a medium heavy bottomed skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter over high heat. When butter has melted and is just beginning to brown, add 1 cup chopped crimini mushrooms, and saute until softened and browned.

Reduce heat to medium high, and add corn kernals from five ears of corn, as well as the rest of the butter. Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika. Stir to combine. Continue to saute until corn kernals are softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup cilantro. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ina Garten's Basil Green Goddess Dressing - The Best Salad Dressing EVER


I have finally found a dressing that begs the question, can you BE in love with a salad dressing? Oh yes, you can. You know, this is not the first green goddess dressing I've ever had, but it is hands down THE best. Ever. Someday when I am old and gray, I will be able to look back at my life with satisfaction because I will, at last, have found the perfect salad dressing.

I'm not really one to go in for traditional salad. A salad made of lettuce and a few tomatoes? So boring. But that was before I had this salad. And this salad is different than your typical ho-hum, been there, done that salad for a couple of reasons. First, the lettuce: I have never had butterhead lettuce before (where have I been for the last 26 years?) and it totally rocks. I tend to really dislike lettuce, but, true to its name, this lettuce is mild and delicious, not bitter or bland at all. I loved it. Second, these were some of the most amazing tomatoes I have ever had. My aunt grew them in her backyard, and OH MY. A perfectly ripe tomato really is a thing of beauty. If you are not lucky enough to have an aunt like mine, I am sure your farmer's market has some lovely tomatoes this time of year.


But the dressing. Oh. The dressing. It's marvelous. And don't stop with salad. This would be great on grilled chicken, as a dip for vegetables, tossed with red potatoes and chopped parsley as a potato salad - endless, endless possibilities. Please, please make this dressing. I mean, just talking about this salad is making me want it. In fact, be right back....

...Oh. so good. Yeah, I'm eating it right now. Why aren't you?


Ina Garten's Basil Green Goddess Dressing Recipe
adapted from Barefoot Contessa At Home
Makes about 4 cups

Fun fact: Green goddess dressing was originally created at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in the 1920's in honor of William Archer's hit play The Green Goddess. This recipe has been updated by Ina Garten, and I've changed it up a bit too. The original called for tarragon, but Ina is right on the money by using basil instead.

1 cup good mayonnaise, such as Hellman's or Best Foods
1 cup chopped green onions (scallions), white and green parts
1 cup chopped fresh basil, packed
juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 anchovy fillets, minced (don't skip! You won't taste the anchovies, but it definitely gives the dressing a fuller flavor)
1 cup sour cream

Place the mayonnaise, green onions, basil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and anchovies in a blender, and blend until smooth. Add sour cream, blending until just incorporated. Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Four Pepper Black Bean Salad with Tangy Lime Vinaigrette


Oh internet. How I've missed you. What happened to us? Remember back when we used to hang out and talk about recipes every other day? And then tell each other secrets and brush each other's hair? Good times.

So. I don't even want to go into where I've been over the past two weeks, I don't want to bore you with tales of mystery soup and the odds and ends of our pantry and freezer. Honestly, I'm just too tired to even go into it all right now. Lets just say that the baby has been difficult (night. waking. every. hour. ack.) and there may have been a week or two where I mismanaged the budget and consequently, we didn't buy much in the way of groceries. There were also some failed pickles. I don't even want to talk about the stupid failed pickles. GAR! Damn pickles. I will conquer you yet!



Lets talk about brighter things. Bell peppers! Oh, how I love them. I love them especially in this salad, in all it's tangy goodness. And darlings, it's so simple! This is one of my go-to recipes for summer, and it's a great on a hot summer evening, or as a pot-luck item at a summer barbecue. And of course, bell peppers are in season right now, so they are delicious and cheap. What's not to love?


Four Pepper Black Bean Salad with Tangy Lime Vinaigrette

What's the difference between a green, yellow, orange, and red bell pepper? They are actually all the same vegetable, just in different stages of ripeness.* The riper the pepper, the more red and sweet it is. I like that this salad has all four colors, because it provides a broad range of flavors, from the crisp tartness of a green pepper to the sharp sweetness of a red one, and the mellow flavor of the oranges and yellows between. Mix it up with some creamy black beans and lime vinaigrette, and you've got one hec of a salad.

* UPDATE: I stand corrected. While green and red peppers are indeed the same plant, yellow and orange strains are different altogether. Thanks Elizabeth! :)

4 bells peppers, preferably in green, yellow, orange, and red
1 14oz can of black beans
1 small red onion (or 1/2 a medium one)
1 bunch cilantro
3 limes
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (reduce to 1/2 if you want it milder)
kosher salt
black pepper

Take your four bell peppers and dice them up. Oh, what's that you say? You want me to explain how to do that? Oh! Oh! So excited! K, here goes: First cut the top off a bell pepper. Set it aside. It is a tasty snack for you to eat.

then cut off the bottom of the bell pepper. Revolutionary, right?

Cut pepper into thirds, and remove ribs and seeds.

Slice each third into strips...

... then cut across the strips to make little cubes. Voila! diced bell pepper. Wasn't that easy?

Remember that bottom? We are not done with it.

Slice into strips...

...and then slice crosswise. Wow, we are having SO MUCH FUN. Why did I neglect you for so long, internet o' mine? After this, let's go boil some water! Yeah! Good times. Repeat with other peppers, and then put all those peppers in a medium bowl.

Open 1 can of black beans. Oh yuck. What IS that stuff around the beans? I don't know, but let's wash those beans off.

Oh, so much better. Add to the bowl of peppers.

Now take 1 small red onion.

Slice into, er, slices.

Then slice those slices into, er, dices. Woo! I'm on a roll here. Add to peppers and beans.

Finely chop 1 bunch cilantro. Add to peppers, beans, and onions.

Ready for that vinaigrette? Add the juice of three limes.

Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Whisk together. Add 1/3 cup olive oil in a slow steady stream, still whisking. Whisk until combined.

Add 3 tablespoons honey.

Whisk in 1 teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Whisk together and pour over pepper black bean mixture. Stir to combine thoroughly.

Let rest 5-10 minutes, to give the flavors a chance to meld. Enjoy!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Raspberry Zinger Iced Tea with Lemon Simple Syrup


One of the biggest perks of the July "eating-in" challenge, in which we approximately zero dollars eating out, is that it broke my Starbucks dependency (or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, or Peets, ad infinitum. I use "Starbucks" as a catch-all for fancy espresso venues, because Starbucks is ubiquitous and everyone knows what I'm talking about). And let's be honest, it's not like I was spending a bushel at Starbucks every month. In fact, my monthly Starbucks bill usually only comes to about $25. And since I don't exactly indulge in any other vices (other than gratuitous amounts of butter, that is) I don't really have a problem with my liquid caffeine habit. EXCEPT....


Why spend $3 for one cup of their fantastic Passion Iced Tea, when I can make an equally fantastic entire gallon of Raspberry Zinger Iced Tea at home for only... $4? Let's break it down, shall we? If you make your own iced tea, it costs $.25 a cup, or $4 a gallon ($3.50 for the box of tea bags, $.50 for the sugar, lemon, and water). If you buy Starbucks iced tea, (assuming you are paying $3 for a venti, which has about 2 cups of liquid in it, + ice), you are paying $1.50 a cup, or $24 a gallon. $24 a gallon!? If gas or milk cost that much, there would be riots in the streets.


I'm still going to be purchasing my espresso beverages at a coffee bar because let's be honest, I don't have a $5,000 espresso machine at home, but during August, when the sweltering dog days of summer are upon us, I need a refreshing iced beverage every day. And I need that refreshing iced beverage to be, um, affordable. If I bought a glass of iced at at Starbucks every day during August (let's assume it's a venti), I would be spending... $93 on iced tea! Yikes! If I made my own tea at home (let's assume I drink an equivalent amount, 2 cups) I'll only be spending $15.50 for the month. Multiply that out over the whole summer, and I'll be saving myself ...$232.50. That's more than a season pass to Disneyland! Hmmm...


Raspberry Zinger Iced Tea with Lemon Simple Syrup

We have been making quite a lot of iced tea this summer, but this one has been my favorite by far, which is why I am sharing it with you! I used Celestial Seasonings "Lemon Zinger" iced tea because I like the tart taste of the raspberries and lemons together, but you can use whatever sort of iced tea you want.

When Nate makes the lemon simple syrup, he likes to shake it in a martini shaker with ice to cool it down more quickly. I, personally, can wait the 1/2 an hour it takes to cool down, but if you are impatient like he is, go right ahead and shake away.

1 box Celestial Seasonings "Raspberry Zinger" tea bags
1 gallon + 1 cup filtered water
2 lemons
1 cup sugar

Fill a pitcher with 1 gallon filtered water (I have a very handy iced tea pitcher with a lid and a spigot, but any sort of pitcher will do. Just be sure to cover the top while the tea is steeping, so no bugs or dirt get it).

Immerse 1 box Raspberry Zinger tea bags to water. Set in a sunny place, and let steep a minimum if 4 hours.

Meanwhile, mix 1 cup filtered water, 1 cup white sugar, and the juice of 1 lemon in a small saucepan. Heat over high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves into the water, and the mixture is clear. Remove from heat, and let cool. Can be stored in the fridge indefinitely (we keep ours in an old salad dressing bottle with the labels removed).

When tea is finished steeping, remove tea bags from water. Slice up 1 lemon and add to tea.

Store in the fridge indefinitely. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Peach Crisp with Blueberries and Oats • Gluten free! (Or not)


Internet, I'm tired. TIRED. Oh my, so tired. I'm so beat I can't even think of anything clever to say about this particular dessert, except that IT IS SO GOOD. So good, we made it four times this month. Four times! And we didn't even get a picture until the fourth time because, um, it was a little too delicious. We kinda ate it all up before we could take any pictures. And then we would look at each other and say, oh, what a shame! I guess we will have to make this gosh darn delicious crisp again. Well, I guess we can suffer through the deliciousness again. You know, for the sake of the blog. And humanity. Because humanity needs us to share this recipe with the internet. Right, that's why we made it four times. For the sake of humanity. Right. It had nothing to do whatsoever with how much I love this crisp. It was, like, totally selfless. And I did it for you, internet community. I did it for YOU. Oh, what's that? Just me giving myself a pat on the back.



Why am I so tired? Well, last weekend I catered my mom's 50th birthday party. All I can say about that is, holy smokes! There were a lot of coconut shrimp. COCONUT SHRIMP. It was one hec of a party. And the week before that we hosted a baby shower barbecue. And somewhere between here and there, I had this demanding wiggling baby to take of, this little 15 lb person who hollers at the top of his lungs all day long if I don't come pick him up the second the thought comes into his head that he might like mommy's attention. Which is about every 5 seconds. And that, by the way, is also why I haven't been blogging much this week. Because of the coconut shrimp. And the demanding baby. they've really worn me out. In fact, I think I'll go take a nap now.

Goodbye. FOREVER.


Oh, ok, not yet. Because I almost forgot, we need to talk about this delicious peach crisp. This delicious peach crisp with blueberries. This delicious peach crisp with blueberries and oats and lots of other deliciousness, like cinnamon, and masa. You wouldn't think all those go together, but oh, they do. They really, really do. This crisp is a delicious mess. Oh, I change my mind. I'm not going to talk about this crisp. I'm too tired. How about I just show you some pictures and tell you it's amazing? Here are some pictures! This dessert is amazing! Ok, now go make it.

Love forever, Becks.


Peach Crisp with Blueberries and Oats • gluten free! Or not.

This crisp calls for a special kind of flour: masa. Masa is a type of flour popular in Latin America. It's a corn flour used for tortillas and chips and tamales and other delicious things, and it's quite tasty. In fact, it's my new favorite flour! It has a warm sunny flavor and it works amazingly well with the peaches and the blueberries and the oats. And it's so inexpensive. Please go buy some. It's so good. Of course, if you don't feel like buying masa, of if you can't find it, and if gluten is not a concern, then by all means feel free to use all purpose flour. I promise I won't tell.

Also, this crisp is very easy to make vegan, if you are into that. I have a friend who is literally allergic to EVERYTHING, including casein (the protein in milk) so I used Earth Balance for one of the crisps, and it still came out yummy (thought I do have to say, a bit less crisp and ...uh... buttery. I will always love butter better, but that's because butter will always be my lover. I'm German. I can't help it. Butter runs in my veins.)

Finally, I was reading about this fancy pants way to peel peaches by briefly dipping them in boiling water and then dipping them in ice water. While you definitely should peel the peaches (I made one with unpeeled peaches, and we didn't like it) I'm just a little too lazy for all that, so I peel the peaches with a knife. Also, use yellow peaches. We tried with with white peaches, and we didn't like it as much.

For the Filling
6-8 yellow peaches, pitted, peeled, and sliced
1 cup blueberries (about 6 ounces)
1 lemon, zested and juice squeezed
1/2 cup white sugar

For the Topping
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup masa corn flour
1/2 cup backed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pit, peel, and slice 6-8 medium yellow peaches. Place in baking dish.

Add 1 cup blueberries.

Add zest of 1 lemon and the juice of 1 lemon.

Add 1/2 cup white sugar, and toss to combine all ingredients.

In a separate bowl, combine 2 cups oats...

... with 1/2 cup packed brown sugar...

... and 1/2 cup masa corn flour.

Top with 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 pinch salt.

Now mix it all up...

... and add 1/2 cup melted butter. Mix well, until large crumbs form.

Pat onto filling, and bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour. let cool.

Serve up a scoop, top with icecream. It's a delicious mess. Enjoy!

Uhhh... until you run out that is. Guess you'll just have to make it again!