Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Grilled Swordfish with Lemon Mustard Dill Sauce

It was one of those weekends when you are glad you live in the northeast. How can anyone truly appreciate the warm Memorial Day weekend without first braving the cold New England winter for six months? This is the time of year when the humidity of summer hasn't layered her warm wet blanket on the coast yet, and you can still breathe the air with big giant lung inhalations. It is also grilling season.

We spent the weekend up in VT where it was green and lush and beautiful. We played tennis for hours everyday, sipped cocktails on the deck, and watched the wind play tag with the leaves of the big trees in the back yard. It was the perfect start to the summer season. When we got back to the City on Monday, it was a steamy ninety degrees, but as the sun when down and the mercury followed, it ended up being the most beautiful night to eat dinner on the deck.

These were frozen swordfish steaks that I picked up at Trader Joes for about $5. I also picked up a bottle of their lemon mustard dill sauce for $2.29, a box of couscous for $1 and a can of corn for $1.00. I already had the lemons, so this meal turned out to be about $10.00, and it fed both of us. It was a bargain.

If you don't happen to know this trick, it is one of the best things I have ever learned in the kitchen; if you have anything that is frozen, and you need to thaw it quickly, simply place it on a metal cookie sheet. Metal is a conductor of heat, and within a half an hour your once frozen solid meat will be thawed and ready to cook.
I marinated the steaks in the sauce for about half an hour, and then simply placed them on the grill. The cous cous I made to the directions on the box, but I also grated some lemon peel into it to give it a citrus flavor to go with the fish. I also simply heated the corn with a little butter. It really was a simple and very cheap way to do dinner for two.

We found a new path with waterfalls in VT this weekend. It is the perfect place to have a picnic. Look forward to my special Fourth of July post where I make a special picnic basket to bring here.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Lots O' Lemon Squares

I bought a bag of lemons for mother's day because I was going to make cute little frozen lemon cups with lemon ginger intermezzo filling to go with brunch.

And then I realized.

I don't have time for that shit.

So the lemons sat in the fruit bowl in the kitchen looking all sad and alone, and I knew pretty soon they would shrivel up and be mere shadows of their former selves. I couldn't take that, so I decided to make Lemon Squares. I got this recipe from Moira over at Who Wants Seconds and it is damn good. I have copied the recipe ver betum, so you can either use the recipe below, or mosey on over to her blog and check out her recipe and pics.

2 cups FLOUR
1 cup (2 sticks) BUTTER, frozen

4 EGGS, beaten
2 cups SUGAR
2 teaspoons LEMON ZEST
1/4 cup FLOUR
1/2 teaspoon BAKING POWDER

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and line with parchment paper.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Grate the frozen butter (using the large holes of a box grater) into the dry mixture. Toss the butter pieces to coat, then rub the pieces between your fingers for a minute, until the flour turns coarse. Pour the mixture into the lined pan and press firmly with your fingers to form an even crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Whisk eggs, sugar, flour and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice and zest and stir well. Pour mixture into the pan on top of the warm crust.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the filling feels firm when touched lightly. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 30 minutes. Grasp the parchment and carefully lift the bars onto a cutting board. Cut into serving size squares or bars, wiping your knife clean between cuts if necessary.

Sieve confectioners' sugar over bars and serve.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

This Recipe Sucks Giada....Fried Polenta

When I was little, sometimes I would ask my mom "What's for dinner?" and she would lovingly reply, "Shit On A Shingle."

This recipe falls under that category. I saw this recipe in my Everyday Italian book and thought, "Hey that looks good, I'll make that as an appetizer for CB." It took me two days to make this crap. The fist day I made the polenta and then spread it out onto a glass baking dish to set, the second day I cut the polenta into rectangle pieces and pan fired them. I did this all to the exact directive in the recipe instructions. They took forever to crisp up; Ms.Giada said that it would take about three minutes per side to become brown and crisp on the edges. Three minutes my ass. I stood over that hot sauté pan for literally 45 minutes, waiting for all the little polenta rectangles to turn crispy golden brown on all sides. Not to mention that all the while I was being pelted with little torpedoes of hot oil while these little shits were supposedly "browning."

What makes this recipe worse is that three bites into it, CB looked at me and said "would you be mad if I didn't eat anymore?" To which my response was, "let's order in." They were downright bland and completely non appetizing. I flicked open the trash can and tossed them all into the rubbish.

The only thing that was positive about this was the sauce that I made, which CB used to create bagel pizzas that smelled awesome.

I'm not sure you want the recipe, but, if you do, you can go to the Food Network and look up Fried Polenta, I won't bother posting here, because I think this recipe is crap.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon Crumble

Mmmm. Nothing says lovin' like blueberry muffins hot from the oven. When CB came home these were still in the oven and had about 2 minutes left to cook. I pried open the oven door a smidge and called him over with psst psst, and a wave of my hand. He peered inside the oven and breathed oohh. That ladies and gentleman is why I bake.

I am however a little scared of baking after watching Ina Garten Chefology on the food network last night. Ina used to be skinny, and then, she learned how to bake. And now, we all know, she ain't so skinny anymore. Before exposing too much personal information, let me just say I don't run an hour and a half everyday because I like to play the, let's see how many cars narrowly miss me because they want to run a red light while I have a walk sign, game. Although part cathartic and most definitely stress relieving, I run because I really like fitting into pants without elastic waistbands. So, because CB has the metabolism of Kenyan marathon runner, and I actually am a marathon runner and have a metabolism stuck in neutral, I am forced to created delicious and oh so scrumptious creations in which CB can indulge and I can smell and dream about eating.

I ripped this recipe off of All Recipes, it was posted by Colleen, who gave no last name. Thank you Colleen with no last name. They are amazing.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.

To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Pizza Two Ways...and Red Sox on DVR

I watch every Red Sox game. When I was little my grandfather used to watch all the ball games. He knew all the signs between the manager and the third base coach, between the cather and the pitcher. He was so completely involved in the game. He was 17 when the Red Sox won the last World Championship that he would ever see.

He would watch through decades upon decades of the Red Sox not become the World Champions, and like all faithful fans he would wait until next year. Next year didn't come for my grandpa, he died when I was eleven and never got to see the Red Sox wave the championship flag or flash the championship ring again. The Red Sox have just been part of the family fabric; even as poor as we were when I was a kid my mom made sure that we went to at least one game a year, on Patriots Day. I remember vividly cheering on Dwight and Wade. I also remember Bill Buckner and the impossible error. I was 10. I remember.

But everything changed in 2004. The curse was lifted; the heckling of 1918 could never be sprouted from a Yankee mouth again. We were World Champions and we more than anyone else deserved it. It's funny; my grandpa died when I was 11, the Red Sox won the World Series when I was 28. When I walked out my front door and looked across the street to Fenway Park the morning after we won it all, I felt closer to my grandpa than I had in years, decades even. He was alive and well in all my baseball memories and I felt that I shared that moment with him, that he knew, that he could see that we had done it, that we had finally done it.

So. Needless to say, I watch every Red Sox game, and God Bless the person who invented the DVR. Because, now when the game is on at 2:00 on the most glorious of spring afternoons I don't need to stay inside and watch it in real time. I can record it, and watch it at night, in half the time. Read.SKIP ALL COMMERCIALS. Yeah, thank you DVR Man you Rock.

So, what's better than a bottle of wine and a few homemade pizzas to go with your commercial free Red Sox game?

Pita Pizza crust
Split pita in half so tha tyou have two big circle bread slices.
Drizzle with olive oil and bak at 350 for 5 minutes.

Pizza Number One:
Top with tomato sauce enhanced with oregano and parsley.
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Pizza Number Two
Top with Caramelized Onions
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Chicken Stuffed with Caramelized Onion, Artichoke Hearts and Roasted Red Peppers

I'll stuff a chicken with anything. This particular time I decided to use caramelized onions, roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts, I also added a little low fat shredded mozzarella.

The best part about making this dish is you get to beat the living shit out of the chicken. Seriously, have any pent up frustration; husband being a jerk, mother in law getting on your last nerve AGAIN, sister acting righteous and holier than though? Take your mallet and just wail away woman! I have just found a new way to deal with the stress of being a middle child; it's called the meat tenderizer therapy.

Anyway, I had my way with the chicken breasts until they were flat and easily pliable. I then laid them out, and in the center of each breast, along the whole length piled up the onion, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts and the cheese. Starting from one and I slowly rolled the chicken from one end to the other, minding that all the stuffing stayed inside and didn't peep out the ends. I baked them in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. These were supper big breasts which required additional cooking time, but if you have smaller ones, adjust the time accordingly

While I thought that I had put in a sufficient amount of cheese in each chicken roll, when I cut them open there was no stringy gooey goodness spilling out, so if you want to have a cheesy center add a lot of cheese.

Caramelizing the Onion

Cut the onion in half, and then slice the halves into strips. Sautée the onion in a little butter and olive oil on low heat for about half an hour, or until the onion becames translucent.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Cracked Pepper and Sea Salt Pita Chips

I'm a salt fanatic. I'm also a bread fanatic as well, so anything that melds the two together is heaven on a plate for me. These are so simple and easy to make, and taste so amazing. I had them twice this weekend. On Friday I served them with melted Brie on top, and assorted cheeses on the side. On Sunday I served them with Lobster Bisque Dip, which I don't have a recipe for because I used a *gasp* bagged mix. It was my Semi Homemade moment.

Pita Bread cut into triangles
Olive Oil
Fresh Ground Pepper
Sea Salt

Grind the pepper into a small bowl with the olive oil. Take the pita triangles and brush them with the olive oil and pepper. Place on baking dish and sprinkle with sea salt. Place on small cookie tray and toast in a toaster oven set for medium to dark, or place in the oven and bake until golden brown.