Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The first fruits of my labor | Pasta with Tuna and Garden Fresh Arugula

It starts...the garden has started to produce the first of its many offerings; fresh arugula. God, I love this time of year when I can grocery shop in my own back yard, with the freshest vegetables right at my fingertips. The arugula came fast and furious, it has been used on grilled pizza with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, tossed with sundried tomatoes and also in this lovely dish that I found on Simply Recipes, Pasta with Tuna, Arugula, and Hot Pepper. I followed the recipe to a T except for I substituted chunk white tuna in water, and added a bit of crumbled blue cheese in at the end. Delicious. I actually thought it could use more arugula as it wilts down to nearly nothing when it gets hot.

I have to thank our lovely neighbors Vibhu and Angela for the arugula seeds. I can't wait to watch our side by side gardens grow this summer. They better be prepared for a few episodes of drive by zucchini-ing should the plants take off like they did last year.

Gosh, I just can't wait.

What are you planning on planting this year, anything fun or unusual? Watch for garden picks as we go forward. You'll all be calling me Mary Mary Quite Contrary.

Yes, thats me.

PS. What the hell is a cockle shell?

Rating = Damn Good (So Damn Good if you get the arugula from your back yard)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jack Daniels Chocolate Fudge Cake

It had been far too long since I had made an alcohol laced cake...this one, was a winner. I must admit.
Do not make this cake unless you like dark rich chocolatey goodness. This is not your wimpy milky chocolate, its punch you in the mouth rich chocolate. The Jack punches you in the mouth a little too. I made this cake at 8:00 in the morning, and found it a little unsettling that I had an open bottle of Jack on the counter so early in the day, but I quickly got over it as I tested, and retested the batter to make sure that everything was coming together nicely. 

We shared this cake with about 10 people and everyone seemed to really love it. I don't think they would have said "hey this tastes like shit" even if they didn't like it, but I genuinely think everyone thought it was pretty good.

This is an official Jack Daniel's Cookbook recipe, I'm sure you could substitute something else in here, but this rendition was pretty damn good.

Jack Daniels Fudge Cake
5 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 C. sifted flour
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. dry instant coffee
Boiling water
Cold water
2 sticks sweet butter
1 t. vanilla extract
2 C. granulated sugar
3 eggs (large or extra large)

Adjust rack to 1/3 up from bottom of oven and preheat to 325*
Butter and dust with flour a 9 inch tube pan or mini bundt pan.

Melt chocolate , set aside to cool
Sift flour, soda, and salt together

Dissolve coffee in a bit of boiling water, add cold water to equal 1 1/2 c.add the Jack Daniels and set aside.
Cream butter with electric mixer
Add vanilla and sugar and beat well

Add eggs one at a time
Add chocolate
On low speed, add alternately the flour and the liquid mixture. It will be a thin mixture.
Pour into pan and rotate in 2 directions.  Bake 1 hour and 10-15 min.
Cool in pan for 15 min then remove from pan.
Can be drizzled with extra chocolate or make a mixture of powdered sugar, water and 1 T. Jack Daniels.

Rating = So Damn Good.

PS. Does anyone have any Jack Daniels BBQ Sauce recipes that they have made before?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Eggplant Caviar | Real Simple

I tried to plant eggplant last year. They died. Actually they didn't die, they never grew, zip, zero, nada, nothing. I will try again this year if only to make this recipe over and over and over again. Simple, delicious, oh my God put more in my face please.

I had heard of eggplant caviar before, I think my father had mentioned it to me once, and asked if I had ever tried it. I thought it sounded intriguing, but you know eggplant, it can either be delicious or it can really suck. I was nervous about making this because it had so few ingredients. Fear not my fellow foodies....it's damn good. Make it.Like Now.

Eggplant Caviar  
1 large eggplant (about 1 1⁄2 pounds)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped (1⁄4 cup) 
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (optional)
kosher salt and black pepper 

Heat oven to 400° F. Using a fork, prick the eggplant all over. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until very tender, 50 to 60 minutes.

When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, halve it lengthwise and scrape out the flesh, discarding the skin. Finely chop the flesh and transfer it to a large bowl.

Add the onion, garlic, parsley, oil, vinegar, mayonnaise (if using), ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and mix to combine. Sprinkle with additional parsley and serve with the bread and vegetables, if desired. 

Per Serving: Calories 140; Fat 5g; Fiber 7g

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Looks like shit...tastes awesome | Tunisian Vegetable Ragout

Looks God Awful Right! It was so good, a snap to pull together and it made a shit-ton of food. Another winner from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. She served hers over quinoa, but I didn't have any, so I just ate it with whole wheat couscous on the side. With the quinoa it's 5 points without it's 3. We paired this with a creamy chardonnay, which went well with the cumin, turmeric and allspice in the dish. Like I said, it made a lot and we ate it for what seemed like days, but I never got tired of it.

She's all rights reserved on this recipe, so here's a link that will bring you to the goodness.

My husband CB is a beer drinker in addition to loving wine. He likes to buy the Sam Adams variety pack, unfortunately for him, said variety pack also includes two bottles of Cranberry Lambic which he says..."tastes like ass." So, we end up with bottles of Cranberry Lambic sitting in the basement. The other day I grabbed one of the bottles and challenged it to a duel, I would make use of it and Chris would love what I could turn the ass beer into. I scoured the internet and found multiple beer bread recipes, narrowed down a few and decided on Cranberry Lambic Banana Bread, and I even made it vegan. I don't have a picture of it, cuz we ate it, fast, but I do have a picture of my new handy dandy chalkboard backsplash that I now use to write recipes on when I'm cooking and baking, thanks to my uber talented architect husband.

So, I haven't been to the "exotic" area of my local market. Anyone want to take a stab at a few exotic fruits and vegetables that I might want to try and cook or bake with?

Rating = Damn Good