Archive | dinner RSS feed for this section

Recipe: Crab Like Dad Makes

11 Jan

In case you haven’t guessed, this is crab the way my dad makes it. It’s not much of a recipe, more of a “throw everything in there and mix well” sort of deal, but I’ve never had crab this way unless it’s with my dad.

Here in San Francisco (back home for winter break, woo!) it’s dungeness crab season. Dungeness is the most delicious of all of the crabs (even the ichthyologists think so, as its latin name is cancer magister, ie, master crab), and yes I’ve had soft shell and blue and even king but dungies are still the tastiest, thanks. Unfortunately, you can only get them on the pacific coast and only from Alaska down to Santa Cruz, CA, so the majority of people probably don’t eat them. Which is just tragic.

Dungeness crab season is always really exciting, because the price lowers to almost nothing. I decided to have a crab feast with my friend Jake because:

1. It was $5.99/lb at Whole Foods.

and

2. Anders doesn’t eat crab.

So I went off and got myself 2 crabs at about a pound each (pre cooked). The lovely fish monger at Whole Foods even cleaned and cracked the crab for me, so I had almost nothing to do by the time I got home. Aside from eat some delicious crab, that is.

Dad’s Crab

2 lbs of cleaned and cracked crab (If you go to a decent fish monger they’ll do it for you. Otherwise you should probably go here.)

2 lemons

olive oil

salt

cracked black pepper

french bread, for serving

Put the crab pieces in a strainer and rinse for a few minutes under cold water.

Put the crab in a big bowl. Drizzle heavily with olive oil. Add the juice from both lemons, plenty of cracked pepper, and salt. Mix thoroughly. Don’t freak out too much about proportion here. Let loose. I’d advise you not to go too crazy on the salt, though, because it’s difficult to repair overdoing it on the salt.

Let everything hang out in the fridge for about 15 minutes while you grab the french bread and cut it into pieces.

I just serve it as is, in the giant bowl accompanied by french bread. The trick is that you have to suck the lemon-olive oil deliciousness off of the crab pieces before you go crazy cracking the crab for the meat inside.

So, pick up your crab piece.

Suck.

Eat.

Mop up juice from the bowl with the french bread.

I never said this was going to be neat.

❤ stef

Advertisements

Recipe: Cheesy Stuffed Acorn Squash

20 Dec

I know I talk about this all the time and you probably want me to shut up, but I’m a recent west coast transplant.
In California, we get produce all year round. It’s awesome. The local variety changes, so in the winter we get lots of root veggies and greens, but the produce is there so eating local is easy. In Massachusetts it’s a little harder! I recently moved next to a Whole Foods, and they make it really easy for you to see where all of their produce comes from, ie, they label it with country/state of origin, and if it is local they tell you the city or farm/co-op if applicable. I love it. So the point is, nearly all of the veggies, even the winter ones, are from California.
And yes I’M from California but I think eating local is so important,  so for the last few weeks I’ve been eating squash and turnips, the only veggies I could find that are from Massachusetts. Adventure! Danger!
Surprisingly, turnips are really good! I bought a variety that claims to be a variant grown only in Massachusetts, and they were super-cheap and super-delicious. Who knew?
But the subject of this blog is squash. Specifically, acorn squash.
I don’t normally cook with winter squash (summer squash is totally different. I LURVE summer squash). It’s a curious vegetable, hard skinned and tender fleshed, I associate it either with soup or with overly sweet baked dishes. In fact, most of the recipes I found when looking for acorn squash inspiration involved sugar or maple syrup. I understand that this is a popular way of cooking squash, but I don’t usually like sweet-savory main dishes. I don’t eat turkey with cranberry sauce either. It’s weird.
So the recipe I decided to use has you baking the squash, and then stuffing it with cheesy orzo. Um, YUM. It’s like mac and cheese for grown ups! With veggies! SCORE.

Chessy Orzo Stuffed Acorn Squash (recipe from epicurious.com)

I halved this recipe because there is only one of me.

1 acorn squash, halved and seeded

1/2 C orzo pasta

1/2 C milk

1/4 C veggie broth (I used chicken. Just used whatever you have).

1/4 C parmesean cheese

(The original recipe calls for a combo of 1/4C sharp cheddar and 1TB parm, but I didn’t have cheddar. Feel free to make it any way you wish).

Cracked black pepper.

Preheat your oven to 400˚. Then ready your squash for the baking by cutting it in half (please don’t cut off your fingers.) and scooping out all of the seeds.

Now you are going to bake these guys by placing them cut sides down in a baking dish. Add about 1/3C of water to the baking dish and cover it with foil. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Take the squash out of the oven, discard the water, and turn right side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Keep the oven on.

Now you’re going to make the orzo! Bring a small pot (like 3 C of water) to boil and add the orzo. Let boil for 5 minutes and drain. Add the milk and broth to the orzo and bring back to a boil. You want the liquid to thicken up and the orzo to become tender, which should take 5 ish minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, whichever you’ve decided to use, and the cracked pepper. Add salt to taste. Stir until everything is melty and combined.

Now you’re going to stuff the squash, muahaha! Divide the cheesy orzo into the squash halves and sprinkle with some more parmesean.

Bake at 400˚ (you should have just left the oven alone) for 12 minutes. Remove.

Serve!

Very satisfying.

❤ Stef

Recipe: Peach Cobbler

26 Oct

When I was a child, I was enamored of the kitchen. I always used to ask my mother if I could help her cook dinner, and I was always very annoyed when she told me I could make the salad.

The salad? I would think.

A salad is not cooking. I wanted to use the stove to make something real. I wanted to do something, anything other than make that very boring salad.

So suffice to say that I starting cooking (for real) at a very young age – I made my first pie (chocolate cream) when I was ten. Maybe younger. So the other day (ok fine, the other MONTH), when I was rifling through my things at my parent’s house, I was absolutely delighted to find my old childhood cookbooks. I have three – The Boxcar Children’s Cookbook, Addy’s Cookbook, and Samantha’s Cookbook (the latter two are both American Girls cookbooks. Shush you in the back! Did you make apple brown betty when you were twelve? I thought not).

As a quick side note-I am very pleased to learn that the American Girl franchise is still creating new stories and new girls. I absolutely adored American Girl when I was growing up, and I collected all of the books about all of the girls available at the time. I think it is a fantastic way to introduce American history to pre-teens, and even more amazing that all of the stories are told from the viewpoint of the girls themselves. These stories sparked so much more interest in me for the time line of American history than any class ever did, and I just can’t speak highly enough of them.

Back to the food! Upon my re-discovery of these cookbooks, I decided it would be fun to do a series on recipes made from them. Since I am really nothing more than a child at heart, and besides, I’ve never found a better recipe for many of the items in these books. Hell, I still make milkshakes the way the Boxcar Children taught me.

This recipe is from Addy’s Cookbook.

Recipe:

Filling:

4 C sliced peaches (you can use frozen if you like)

2 TB flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 C sugar

Crust:

1 C flour, plus some extra for rolling out the dough

1 TB sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3 TB butter

6 TB half and half

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sugar

Slice the peaches.

Add the flour, cinnamon and sugar, mix together and spoon it into a greased baking pan or a skillet.

For the crust, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into small chunks and smush them into the flour mixture with a fork until you have pea-sized lumps. Add the half and half and stir until the ingredients are just moistened. Sprinkle some flour on a surface (like a cutting board), turn the dough out onto it, and knead the dough for about 30 seconds. To knead, push down on the dough and then fold it in half and repeat. Using a rolling pin, (or, if you don’t have one like me, any cylindrical object. I’m rather fond of wine bottles!) roll out the dough starting from the center and working your way out until it is 1/4″ thick.

Like this!

Like this!

Cut the dough into strips, or use a cookie cutter to make shapes. I went for strips because I don’t have cookie cutters. I know, you’re just thinking, “How does this woman survive in this world?! No rolling pin and NO COOKIE CUTTERS??” It’s hard. But I manage. During Christmas time I either make drop cookies or cookie strips. Better for dunking that way.

Lay the pieces over the fruit and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over it all.

Mmm, cinnamon-y.

Mmm, cinnamon-y.

Bake in a 425˚ oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

It should look something like this.

It should look something like this.

Ta da!

Cut and serve. You can serve with whipped cream or ice cream if that suits your fancy. I eat mine plain, for dessert and for breakfast. Because I’m an adult now, and I can do that. Hahahaha!!!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan

29 Sep

Eggplant parmesan is a dish that is a little involved, but by no means difficult. You have to batter and fry the eggplant (I’ve tried skipping this step, and let me tell you from experience that it is there for a reason; you NEED it!) before you layer the dish (like lasagna) which is why it takes longer to make. If you have an extra hour for dinner, though, it is totally worth it. I made marinara from scratch (see my previous post about the Great Tomato Invasion of ’09) but you could just as easily use canned tomatoes, or a jar of pre-made sauce.

You’re basically getting two recipes for the price of one in this post, because I’m going to give you my recipe for marinara sauce. Marinara is a critical component-too little and the whole dish is too dry, but you don’t want too much either or you end up with more of an eggplant sauce than an eggplant parmesan.

In short, do not be afraid of multi-step dishes! They are easy, I swear it. Make this for your Mom the next time she comes over for dinner. She will be so impressed that not only can you cook, but that you eat your veggies. Mothers love that shit.

Eggplant Bit.

1 medium to large eggplant (see picture below)

1 C (ish) breadcrumbs

1 C flour

2-3 eggs

2-4 C of cheese, mozzarella, jack, provolone, one or all three. Whatever you have or prefer.

1-2 C Parmesan

This is an eggplant.

Cut your eggplant into 1/2″ (ish) slices.

Now you’ve got to drain the eggplant (annoying, but necessary) in a colander for 1-2 hours. Layer the eggplant in a strainer, putting a single layer of eggplant, salting the layer, topping it with more eggplant and salting again.

Put something heavy on it and leave it for at least an hour.

While you wait for the eggplant to catch up, make the sauce.

Sauce bit.

I forgot to take picture of the sauce bit, so I hope you will forgive me!

Marinara Sauce:

1.5 – 2 lbs fresh tomatoes

OR

1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes

OR

1 jar of pre-made pasta sauce

½ medium or 1 small onion, diced

3-5 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp salt

Splash of dry red wine (you can leave this out if you want)

Ground pepper to taste

¼ tsp sugar

1-1.5 TB fresh basil, sliced, or 2 tsp dry

Olive oil

If you are using fresh tomatoes:

Put a pot of water on the stove to boil. It has to be big enough to contain all of the tomatoes under the water. Take each tomato and cut a shallow X onto the bottom of each. When the water starts boiling, slowly put the tomatoes into the water and allow them to boil for 30 seconds. Allow the tomatoes to cool by plunging them into an ice bath. When they are cool, peel them and squeeze the seeds and juices out. Chop up the rest of the pulp and put aside for now.

Pour 2 TB of olive oil into a pan and heat. Add the onion and the garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the wine and allow it to boil for a minute before adding the tomatoes, salt, pepper, Worcestershire and sugar. If you are using dry basil, add it now. If you have a stick blender or a potato masher, blend the sauce up a bit to give it a thicker consistency. If you don’t have either of these things don’t worry about it.

Your sauce will be kind of thin, especially if you used fresh tomatoes.

Simmer it for at least 20 minutes. The sauce will thicken and should look more like this.

If you are using fresh basil, add it after the sauce has simmered.

Ta da! Marinara sauce.

Put the sauce aside, you are going to use it later when you assemble the parmesan.

Right now (if the time is up on the eggplant draining) you are going to batter and fry your eggplant.

Take out your eggplant slices and line them on paper towels, patting them dry as you go.

Get two wide, shallow bowls and put the eggs in one and the breadcrumbs and flour in the other. Mix up the flour and breadcrumbs and scramble the egg but don’t add anything.

Get a deep frying pan (cast iron is the best but just use what you have) and fill it with 1/2″ of canola (or veggie) oil. Heat the oil over medium-high until it shimmers. Another way to check is if you drop a bit of the breadcrumb mix into the oil it should start to fry immediately and then rise to the surface.

Once the oil is ready, you are going to take an eggplant slice. Dip both sides in the egg, then coat it with the breadcrumb mix and slowly put it in the oil. Fry on both sides for about 45 sec, until it is golden brown. Layer between paper towels to drain (layer of eggplant, layer of paper towels, repeat). You can fry about 2 slices at a time, but not too much more than that. If you over-crowd the pan the temperature of the oil will actually lower and you don’t want that.

Repeat for the rest of the slices.

Preheat the oven to 350˚, and you are going to layer some more! Get a glass baking dish, the one I used was rectangular, I think 10×15.

Put a layer of sauce, layer of eggplant, layer of cheese, layer of parmesan. Repeat until all the ingredients are gone, making sure that you end with a cheese layer.

Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melty and slightly browned on the edges.

Let cool for 15 minutes, then cut and serve.

NOM NOM NOM!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Roasted Potatoes and Tomatoes with Pesto

18 Sep

Hello again! Did you miss me? I’ll bet you did. I’ve had a very hectic few weeks, starting my graduate program at Boston College and moving out of my old place and into the new. Although I am IN my new place I still don’t have any of my stuff, just the items I had the foresight to pack. (Like my Shun Santoku knife and hand-made wood cutting board.) (These are ESSENTIALS, people!)

This is a recipe I’ve had “on file” for awhile. It uses slightly overripe tomatoes, pesto and potatoes, and was my response to The Great Tomato Invasion of ’09.

This summer my kitchen was overrun with tomatoes. I typically try to eat summer tomatoes raw because they are so amazing, but this year I was getting tomatoes from my father’s garden as well as my CSA box and they were EVERYWHERE.

I should probably have prefaced this by saying that I do not put fresh tomatoes in the fridge because keeping them at such a low temperature can completely ruin their flavor.

So picture, if you may, a kitchen exploding with tomatoes. They rested in bowls on my kitchen table, cascaded onto the table itself, and occasionally hung out on my cutting board. I had red ones, yellow ones, purple ones. I couldn’t eat them fast enough, and a few unfortunate tomatoes began to. . .soften. In their new cushy state, they were unsuited for use in a salad. My dad likes to stick soft tomatoes in the freezer, for use later in pasta sauce, but my freezer space is limited.

I prefer to get creative.

Roasted Potato and Tomato with Pesto:

Use 1/2 C of pesto (my recipe is at https://dinnerlove.com/2009/07/17/recipe-basil-pesto-with-walnuts/)

1.5lbs (ish) of little creamer or red skin potatoes

2 medium to large tomatoes

olive oil

salt

pepper

balsamic

Cut the potatoes into quarters, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. During that time, make the pesto (for my recipe, with pictures and instructions, see https://dinnerlove.com/2009/07/17/recipe-basil-pesto-with-walnuts/) and cut the tomatoes into small sized wedges.

After the potatoes have baked for 30 minutes, add the tomato.

Then add the pesto and about 1 TB of balsamic and mix together.

Put back in the oven for another 30 minutes. Keep the heat at 400.

Serve!

I served this alongside a roast pork loin, and it they were AMAZING together. It also tastes fantastic fried with some eggs for breakfast!

❤ Stef

Recipe: Basil Pesto with Walnuts

17 Jul

Summer is in full swing, and as such basil is everywhere. Yes, you can grow herbs at any time of year, really, but right now is when they start propagating out of control. I bought a bunch of basil as big as my head for $2 at one of my local Farmer’s Markets, and aside from the fact that I couldn’t stop smelling it (smells amaaaazing) I was immediately seized with panic.

What the hell was I going to make with all of that basil? I only have so many tomatoes! When I thought, duh. I’ll make some pesto! I had never made homemade pesto, because I thought I wasn’t a huge fan. I’m normally a tomato sauce gal. I intended my very first batch for a potato-pesto pizza (just as amazing as it sounds) and when the pesto was done I was in shock. Who knew homemade pesto could be so amazing? It didn’t taste anything like the drab pestos I’d previously been accustomed to. This was fresh, garlicy-sweet, with a slight bite. Absolutely brilliant. I immediately slathered some on toast, and while I ate thought “I’m totally making this for my next blog”.

I know that nearly everyone knows how to make pesto, and that this recipe won’t really be a revelation to anyone. I just wanted to share my enthusiasm, and to let you know that if you have never made pesto from scratch, now is the perfect time to start.

Pesto, makes about 1 C. Recipe from Simply Recipes.com.

1 C basil leaves, packed

1/4 C parmesean cheese

1/4 C olive oil

2.5 TB walnuts (You can use pine nuts if you want).

1.5 garlic cloves, sliced.

salt and pepper to taste

You will need a food processor or a blender. I have an itsy-bitsy Toastmaster Chopster. It’s a mini food processor, not very powerful, but perfect for pesto because it doesn’t liquefy the ingredients.

Put the walnuts in the food processor and pulse a few times until they are crumbly.

Grab your basil and pack a cup full of basil leaves. No stems, and make sure you pack tightly!

Chop the garlic very coarsely, add it to the walnuts in the food processor and pulse them together.

Add the basil and pulse lightly until the leaves have broken up, scraping down the sides of the processor is necessary.

Add the olive oil a little at a time, pulsing between each addition. When you are done, the mixture should be cohesive but still granular.

Add the cheese and pulse to combine.

Now taste and add add salt and pepper as you like.

You can add the pesto to anything, use it for pastas or pizza, or just slather it on a slice of french bread like me.

Yum.

❤ Stef

Recipe: Blue Cheese Stuffed Steak and Caprese Salad

13 Jun

My boyfriend hates steak. He eats meat. He eats ground beef, pork chops, sausage and pretty much any other type of meat known to man, but will not touch steak. I’m not sure why. He probably doesn’t even know why.  In any case, I think he’s nuts and anytime I want a steak I have to concoct new and exciting ways to eat it. That’s why I decided to take a sirloin steak my mother gave me and fillet it and stuff it with onions and blue cheese. The salad was thrown in as an afterthought for two reasons. One, you can’t have a meal with just meat. It’s just not right. Two, I have a bunch of basil and tomatoes that need eating.

I have to warn you that the recipes that follow don’t have any specific measurements. You really don’t need them for this, it’s more of a “stuff steak with as much blue cheese as you like” type of deal.

Stuffed Steak with Blue Cheese and Red Onion

1 sirloin steak, about 1/2 lb. You can use more if you like. You could also use a meat other than sirloin if you wish. Flank would work well.

Blue cheese. I used a few slices, less than 3 oz

Red onion, sliced thin. About 1/2 of a small onion, or to taste.

Steak seasoning

Salt and pepper

Tools:

Pan that can be used both on the  stove top and in the oven.

Butcher’s twine.

Grab your steak.

Using a super sharp knife, butterfly the steak by slicing it in half width wise and opening it up.

Slice your red onion into very thin slices.

Saute the onion with a bit of olive oil for about a minute or two. This will make them sweeter.

Slice the blue cheese.

Layer the blue cheese on the steak.

Put the sauteed onions on top.

Season with salt and pepper.

Now roll the steak up, and secure every inch or so with butcher’s twine. Season on all sides with steak seasoning. I always use Old Bay.

A note about butcher’s twine-I didn’t have any, so I used sewing thread instead. It worked just fine, but you should probably buy yourself some butcher’s twine anyway. I keep meaning to pick some up, but I always forget. Plus, you really have no idea if your sewing thread with hold in the high heat you will be cooking the steak in.

Using the pan that you sauteed the onions in (make sure it is oven-safe!) sear the steak roll on all sides so that it has a nice crust.

Once it has been seared, put the whole pan in a 400˚ oven for 15 minutes. I like my steak rare to medium rare, so 15 minutes was perfect. Leave it in 5-10 minutes longer if you prefer yours medium to well done.

Remove from the oven, and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute. Plus, keep in mind that the steak will continue to cook during this period, raising in temperature up to 10˚.

While you wait for the steak, make the salad.

Caprese Salad

1 medium-large tomato

Fresh mozzarella

Handful of fresh basil

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Dried oregano

Garlic powder

Salt and pepper

Cut the tomato and the mozzarella into large cubes.

Grab a handful of basil and cut into strips.

Put all three ingredients into a bowl together.

Add the salt and pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, and a splash of olive oil and a smaller splash of balsamic. Eyeball it. Use less than you think you need at first. You can always add, but removing ingredients is difficult. Just like mascara, or eyeliner. (I apologize to my male audience members, who may or may not have any idea of what I’m talking about!) Mix together.

Once the salad is done (and 10 minutes have elapsed) cut the steak into slices.

Serve with the salad.

Ok, now, when you eat the steak, but a piece of steak in your mouth, followed immediately by a piece of tomato.

Mmmmmmmmmm.

❤ Stef