Monday, October 31, 2011

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Simple oven-roasted red potatoes with fresh rosemary.

What you need:
5-6 red potatoes, cut into pieces (1/2 to 3/4 inch)
Olive Oil
1+ teaspoons Kosher Salt
1-2 teaspoons Black Pepper (freshly ground is best, but the regular will do fine)
2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
Couple sprigs of Rosemary, stems removed

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large bowl, mix all ingredients to distribute seasoning and oil evenly.  Spread on a baking sheet.  Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Add more salt if needed.  Enjoy!

Hot Pepper and Roasted Eggplant Spread

This recipe is inspired by Baba Ghanoush, a Levantine spread commonly served with pita bread.  Mine is a good bit different- for one thing, it is green due to all of the herbs and peppers.  It also does not have the tahini or very much oil at all.  It would probably be even better if you did add tahini or more olive oil, so give it a try if you're trying to cut down on fat intake.

What you need:

3 small eggplant (4-5 inches long and 1.5-2 inch diameter)
1/2 head of garlic
3-4 Serrano peppers (or a different hot pepper if you want.  Also, use more or less depending on how much heat you want), roughly chopped
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 packed mint leaves
2 T lemon juice
1 T soy sauce
1-2 t olive oil
1-2 t black pepper
Salt to taste

First, turn the oven on to 375 degrees Farenheit to roast the eggplant and half of the garlic (or you can roast all of the garlic if you find lots of fresh garlic too pungent).  Place the whole eggplants and peeled garlic cloves on a baking sheet.  Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle salt on the garlic.  Roast for the garlic for about 20 minutes and the eggplant for 30-40, or until the skin is all brown and it is soft to the touch.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

While the eggplant is roasting, you can work on the rest of it:  Place both types of peppers, the onion, mint, lemon juice, soy sauce, vinegar, olive oil, and black pepper in the blender.  Puree, adding splashes of the same liquids if it does not have enough liquid already to blend.

Peel the the skin off of the eggplant and add these and the garlic to blender.  Puree and you're done!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Open Faced Sausage and Egg Focaccia Sandwich

One of the ways I used up all of the extra Focaccia bread.

I sliced a piece in half and then topped with a mixture of sauteed hot Italian sausage, onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and hot peppers.  While sauteing this, I added a splash of white wine vinegar, black pepper, and a little mixed seasoning.

I sprinkled mixed shredded cheese and some fresh chopped herbs (basil and rosemary) on top.  Baked at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until the cheese melts.  You could leave it like this or, as I did, throw a fried egg on top of each piece.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

A rich and thick dressing for blue cheese lovers.

What you need: 
3 ounces good quality blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used the reduced fat kind made with olive oil.  Not this this is a light recipe anyway, but there's no need to go overboard for no reason)
1/2 cup sour cream (I would also use light for this, but couldn't find it on Saba)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup of milk with 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar added (or just use buttermilk if you have it)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons black pepper (or more, to taste)

Whisk everything together.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.  If you can, make it even more ahead of time so that the flavors can meld.

Steak Salad with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing or Balsamic Glaze

I made this for my boyfriend and I.  He got the blue cheese dressing, and I opted for balsamic glaze since I watch calories.  Either way, delicious.

What you need:
2 (6-8 oz) steaks (here on Saba I used strip loin, because that was handy)
Steak Marinade (see below)
Romaine Lettuce or Bibb Lettuce
Tomato, chopped
Cucumber, sliced and quartered
Blue Cheese Dressing (see my recipe) or Balsamic Glaze

Start by marinating the steaks in the refrigerator for at least two hours and up to overnight.  I did mine for 10 hours.  Take out of the refrigerator when you start prepping the salads so that they can warm up a little.

Create the salads by placing a pile of torn lettuce and arugula leaves in the center of each plate.  Top with cucumbers and tomatoes.  If you want to get fancy, place the cucumbers and tomatoes so that they rim the edge of the plate.

Heat up a greased frying pan on high.  Place the steaks in the pan and sear for a couple of minutes on each side.  I ended up cooking mine for 6 minutes total, which gave a medium rare 3/4 inch thick steak and a rare 1 1/4 thick steak.  Let sit for 10 minutes, then slice.  Place slices on top of salad and dress with the blue cheese dressing or balsamic glaze (or some other dressing of your choice).


Steak Marinade::
1/4 cup EACH balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce
2 t garlic powder
2 t black pepper

Focaccia Bread

Time consuming, in the sense that you have to start early.  Overall, though, it's not a ton of work and makes a really good bread.  So give it a try on a day when you'll be around.  Also, it makes a huge loaf- be prepared to find people to share with.

First make the poolish:
Beat together 1/4 teaspoon yeast, 2.5 cups flour, and 1.5 cups of water.  Cover and let sit on counter for 4 hours.  At this point, it can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or you can go ahead and continue with the bread. If you refrigerate it, make sure to let it sit for an hour on the counter before you move on so that it can warm up.  Below is a picture of the poolish before it sits for the 4 hours.

Stir the poolish down.  Then add:
2 2/3 cups flour (if you have bread flour, that would be best, but I made it with all purpose and that worked fine)
2 teaspoons salt
1.5 teaspoons yeast
2 T olive oil
1 cup lukewarm water

Beat this together until a smooth, sticky dough is formed.  The dough should come away from the sides as you stir, but stick to the bottom of the bowl.

Make a thin bed of flour on a large flat surface.  Scoop the dough out of the bowl and onto the flour.  Sprinkle liberally with more flour.

With floured hands, stretch the dough to double its length and then fold it onto itself, returning it approximately the same shape you started with.  Repeat 3-4 times.

Spray with oil and let rest for 30 minutes.

Repeat the previous stretching step, forming a rectangle after the last stretch.  Gently move the dough to a oiled baking sheet and spray with oil.  Dimple by pressing your thumb into the dough.  The indents should be 1-2 inches apart.  Drizzle with olive oil and let rise for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Dimple again, sprinkle with Kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.  I also sprinkled it with dried oregano because I did not have fresh.  Then sprinkle with a mixture of chopped fresh herbs- I used basil, mint, and parsley.  Rosemary would be good if you have it.  Drizzle generously with olive oil.  Below is a picture of the bread before baking.

Turn oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Allow the dough to rest while the oven heats up.  Once the oven is to temperature  bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the bread is a nice golden brown.  You may need to turn the baking sheet around halfway through if it is browning much more quickly on one side.   Take out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes for cutting into squares.  Enjoy!

I served it with a herb and olive oil dipping sauce I made, but it was also delicious on its own.

If you want to add other toppings (cheese, olives, roasted peppers, etc.), do this halfway through the baking.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Black Bean Hummus, Eggplant, and Feta Pizza

Use up some black bean hummus by making a pizza!

What you need:

1 12" Pizza Crust (I either make my own dough or use a soft Naan bread.  You could also use a store bought crust or dough.  Lightly pre-bake the dough if you are using it)
Black Bean Hummus- about a cup and a half (see my recipe.  Or try using regular hummus).
Two small Eggplant, cut into 1/4 thick medallions
1 cup sliced Mushrooms
1/2 cup Onion, thinly sliced
1/2 Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
Salt, pepper, Garlic Powder
3/4 cup crumbled Feta
Olive Oil
Arugula, Basil, Chives- thinly sliced
Red Pepper Flakes

Start by roasting the vegetables: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lay eggplant, mushrooms, onions, and bell pepper out on a greased baking sheet.  Spray with cooking spray and then season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Put in the oven and let cook until veggies are slightly browned and soft.  This should take 15-20 minutes.

Place pizza crust on a pizza pan or baking sheet.  Spread with hummus and then top with the roasted vegetables.  Sprinkle with the feta cheese and lightly drizzle olive oil over the top.  Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese melts and crust is browned.  Sprinkle with the basil, chives, red pepper, and arugula.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Cut into slices and enjoy!

Note: If you are watching your carbs and don't really eat pizza, try the toppings of this pizza on a bed of lettuce.  Still tasty!

Black Bean Hummus

Maybe not the prettiest food, but it's a tasty variation on regular hummus.  I use dried beans because they are cheaper and have more texture and flavor.  Canned ones would work as well if you don't feel like the prep work required for dried.

What you need:
1/2 pound of dried black beans, soaked and boiled OR two 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained.
1/2 head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped (or more if you REALLY like garlic)
1/2 cup of onion, chopped
1 cup of mixed fresh herbs (I use cilantro, parsley, mint, and sometimes chives)
1 small hot pepper, roughly chopped (optional)
3-4 T tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T apple cider vinegar (you could also try using a different vinegar here)
1 T cumin
1-2 t black pepper
1/2 t red pepper flakes
Water or Olive Oil ( I use water to cut back on fat, but it would be tastier with the oil.  You could also use half of each)

Place ingredients in blender or food processor.  Add 1/4 cup of water or olive oil.  Slowly add remaining water or olive oil until you create a smooth and thick paste.  Enjoy with pita chips, raw veggies, or as a "sauce" for pizza (See my eggplant, feta, and hummus pizza later when I add it).

Barbecue Pork Ribs

A cheap way to get a hearty and delicious meal on Saba.

What you need:
3 racks of pork ribs
1 onion, chopped
2 small hot peppers (optional)
2 cans diced tomatoes with garlic
A mixture of ketchup, barbecue sauce, tomato sauce, hot sauce and apple cider vinegar to make 1 to 1.5 cups
           ( I started by using 1/2 cup each of barbecue sauce and ketchup, and a couple tablespoons each of hot sauce and the vinegar.  Since then, I've been experimenting with leaving out the ketchup and barbecue sauce, which makes them a little less sweet.  You could still add a little of the ketchup or barbecue sauce, or a little brown sugar.  They've turned out good every time for me so far even though I try slightly different things each time)
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T garlic powder (or more)
2 T soy sauce
2 t black pepper

Start by cutting each rack in half (makes them easier to stir around in the pot).  Sprinkle with salt and sear in a large pot until browned.  You may need to do this in batches or just use tongs to move the pieces around so that all of the sides get seared.  Add 2 cups of water and scrape up anything that has stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir.  Partially cover, turn heat to low and let simmer for 3 hours, stirring every 45 minutes or so.  I use tongs to do this.  Add water if the ribs are not covered in the sauce.  You know they're done when they are falling off the bone and the sauce has slightly thickened.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Welcome to Adventures in the Kitchen!

I've been cooking and baking for years now and I have always been interested in sharing my ideas with others (maybe a cookbook someday?).  Blogging will be a good start to going public!  I love to try different things and hate directly following directions when cooking or baking.  Thus, many of my recipes stem from recipes that looked interesting to me.  Then I change them to suit my mood.  Also, my measurements tend to be approximate because I hate measuring.  I like a take a "to taste" approach.  I hope the recipes I post inspire you all to make up your own variations to fit your tastes and moods as well.  Enjoy!