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Archive for June, 2010

Thai Basil Mojito

I wish I could take credit for the idea of this drink, but I can’t. My dad dreamt it up after tasting the thai basil I had growing in my garden. The thai basil has a subtle anise flavor and is very different from Italian basil. This was a refreshing summer drink, that was perfect for a hot day and grilling out.

Thai Basil Mojito
serves 1

1/2 lemon, cut into wedges
a small handful of fresh thai basil leaves
1/2 tablespoon organic pure cane sugar (or 2 oz of simple syrup)
2 oz white rum
ice cubes
club soda

Place the lemon wedges at the bottom of a tall glass along with the basil leaves. Add sugar or simple syrup and muddle the mixture. Stir in the rum and top with ice. Top off with club soda and garnish with a lemon wedge and couple thai basil leaves.

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Potato Salad with Yogurt Cheese Dressing

I usually am not a fan of mayo based potato salad, something about most of them just never seems very appetizing to me. However, I had been meaning to experiment with a yogurt-based dressing as an alternative. I had bought some great yogurt cheese from White Cow Dairy at the farmer’s market and I thought that would be perfect for a potato salad dressing. White Cow Dairy is located in East Otto, NY where all of their cows enjoy a life full of grazing on their lush pastures. They make a variety of artisan products including custards, crème bulgares, thick yogurts, whey drinks, sauces and more. When sweetening is required, their products are flavored with maple found right on their own land, additionally they use wild leeks, onions, blueberries and apples all from the land on or surrounding their farm. I love that.

I really don’t know much about yogurt cheese, just that it is the creamy white cheese you get when liquid whey drains from yogurt. It has a great thick and rich consistency without the fat and it really gives a nice tang to all kinds of dishes. I have put it on everything from veggie burgers to fresh berries. It is quite versatile with either sweet or savory items. I will definitely be buying it again. I have also seen recipes for making your own yogurt cheese at home, though I am not sure I would bother considering the perfection that White Cow Dairy has achieved with theirs.

As usual, I threw this recipe together by taste, so I am not exactly sure on the measurements. I had a small bushel of baby potatoes from the market last week that needed to get eaten up, so I just pulled this together on the fly.

Potato Salad with Yogurt Cheese Dressing
serves 4

1 cup yogurt cheese
approx 1/4 cup organic milk to thin the cheese
approx 30 or so baby potatoes, (red or otherwise)
half of a medium-sized red onion, chopped
fresh herbs, dill, chives, etc (dried will work as well)
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

In salty water, boil the potatoes, cook until soft. Drain and allow to cool. Once cooled, you can peel and half them. I leave the peels on myself. Put the halved potatoes in a large serving bowl, add the chopped red onion, chopped fresh chives and dill (I went with dried dill as that was all I had). To prepare the dressing, take 1 cup of the yogurt and slowly add the milk, one tablespoon at a time, whisking. Add milk until the yogurt is thinned to your desired consistency. I left mine fairly thick, but not chunky. Add the dressing to the potato salad and season with salt and pepper. Mix to combine and coat, being careful not to mash the potatoes. Taste and add more seasonings as needed. Chill until you are ready to serve. Allowing this to chill for a good couple of hours really brings all the flavors together and all the ingredients get nice and cold. Serve with fresh chives and fresh ground pepper on top. Enjoy.

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Sun Dried Tomato, Mozzarella & Arugula Pizza (gluten-free)

I am a big fan of homemade pizza, my Mom always made it when we were kids, with homemade pizza dough and all. I love how much fun you could have with toppings. This pizza turned out perfectly, it had so many lovely subtle flavors and the arugula finished it off nicely with a little bite. I used the same pizza dough recipe from my Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza, but I am going to include it again here so you don’t have to look it up. Since I made this recipe up on the fly and also was making a second non-gluten-free pizza for Mark, my measurements may not be exact, so feel free to just improvise and go with what you think on the toppings. The only thing I would like to find a way to change is, some of the sun-dried tomatoes started to really blacken up as the pizza baked, it seemed to only be the ones not covered by cheese, so maybe I just need to add more cheese next time (oh darn!).

I took one leftover piece of this pizza this morning, toasted it up in the toaster oven and topped it with one fried egg. Oh my gosh was that amazing. The perfect breakfast to start a very busy day.

Sun-Dried Tomato, Mozzarella, Fontina & Arugula Pizza (Gluten-Free)
serves 2-3

Gluten-free Pizza Crust

1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp quick-rising yeast
3/4 cup warm water (about 110° F)
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp fresh rosemary, basil or oregano (I went with basil and oregano)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease.

In a small bowl, combine warm water, sugar and yeast. Stir until just dissolved. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside in warm are for 10 minutes. Mixture will form a foam head of about 3/4″.

Using your food processor (which is how I did it and it worked surprisingly well), add all dry ingredients: flours, potato starch, xanthan gum and salt, directly into the processor bowl. Blend in the processor, about 1 minute. If using a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients, and whisk together until well combined.

In another small bowl, whisk olive oil, eggs, and vinegar until blended. Add egg mixture and yeast mixture to dry ingredients, mix until combined.

Blend dough in the food processor for 2-3 minutes. Dough will be sticky and soft, it doesn’t seem much like dough at all. Add in the herbs and gently pulse or mix to combine.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet. Dip your hands in water or olive oil and shape the dough into a round shape about 1/4″ thick. Place in a warm, draft-free area and let rise 40 minutes. Dough should double in size.

Brush top with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of course salt.
This recipe can also be used to make gluten-free focaccia if you spread it to 1″ instead of 1/4″.

Toppings

1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs, I went with basil and oregano from my garden
2 ounces of sun-dried tomatoes, sliced very thin
1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella (I used organic)
1/2 cup of shredded fontina
red pepper flakes
2 cups of fresh baby arugula
fresh parmigiano-reggiano

Preheat the oven to 400° F

After you have brushed a bit of olive oil on the crust and sprinkled with a bit of salt (see above), sprinkle the minced garlic all over the crust. Next, evenly sprinkle the fresh herbs and sun-dried tomatoes all over the crust. Add both cheeses and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Bake the pizza. Place the baking sheet in the middle of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the crust is a golden brown and the cheese is melted. After you pull the pizza out, top the entire pizza with the baby arugula. Lightly grate fresh parmigiano-reggiano on top. Cut pizza into wedges, serve immediately.

Sun Dried Tomato, Mozzarella & Arugula Pizza (gluten-free)

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I have never been a huge fan of ice cream, until I tasted fresh homemade ice cream made from scratch with fresh ingredients. It is so insanely delicious and it has so much more flavor than the store-bought stuff. I had been talking about buying the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer for some time now and finally got around to it last week. I knew before I even bought the attachment what flavor my first batch was gonna be. Mint Chocolate Chunk! We have so much mint growing wild in our yard that I couldn’t wait to snip some off and bring it in to make fresh ice cream. If you can’t get your hands on fresh mint you can use mint extract, but there is no comparing to the fresh mint. So much so that I added chopped fresh mint back in at the end, since I love the little bits of flavor.

Making ice cream from scratch, cooking down and making the custard first definitely is a lot of work, but it is absolutely worth it and is so gratifying in the end. The only thing I wished is that I could have found some place locally to buy fresh milk and cream, instead I bought organic milk and cream from the grocery store. I have searched high and low to find somewhere locally to buy dairy (preferably pasture-fed), but with no results yet, so if you know of a place in the Western New York area, please share.

This ice cream really is to die for. So rich, a small scoop is all you need. I cannot wait to experiment with other flavors.

Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
yields 1 quart
adapted from Simply Recipes

3 cups of fresh mint leaves (not stems), rinsed, drained, packed
extra fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 cup organic whole milk
2 cups organic heavy cream (divided, 1 cup and 1 cup)
2/3 cup organic pure cane sugar
A pinch of salt
6 egg yolks (we prefer brown eggs from local, organic, free-range chickens)
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
6 ounces semisweet chocolate or dark chocolate, chopped fine, keep in the freezer until used

1. Put the mint leaves in a heavy saucepan with the 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of the cream. Heat until just steaming (do not let boil), remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. Reheat the mixture until steaming, remove from heat and let stand for 15 more minutes.

2.While the mint is infusing in step 1, prepare the remaining cream over an ice bath. Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a medium size metal bowl, set in ice water (with lots of ice) over a larger bowl. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowls. Set aside.

3. Strain the milk cream mixture into a separate bowl, pressing against the mint leaves with a rubber spatula in the sieve to get the most liquid out of them. Return the milk cream mixture to the saucepan. Add sugar and salt to the mixture. Heat until just steaming again, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.

4. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium-sized bowl. Slowly pour the heated milk cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the warm mixture, but not cooked by it. Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

5. Return the saucepan to the stove, stirring the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take about 10 minutes.

6. Pour the custard through the strainer (from step 2) and stir into the cold cream to stop the cooking, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

7. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (at least a couple of hours) or stir the mixture in the bowl placed over the ice bath until thoroughly chilled (20 minutes or so). Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

8. Once the ice cream has been made in the ice cream maker it should be pretty soft. Gently fold in the finely chopped chocolate and chopped fresh mint. Put in an airtight container and place in the freezer for at least an hour, preferably several hours. If it has been frozen for more than a day, you may need to let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften it before serving.

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This is a lovely Spring/Summer pasta dish that was the perfect way to use some of the delicious bacon we got from Sojourner Farms last week. The bacon from Sojourner is the tastiest bacon I can ever recall eating, there is a sweetness to it that I have never tasted before and the perfect amount of smokiness. Since there is a very small amount included in this recipe, it isn’t overpowering or greasy in the least (which is something I dislike sometimes about bacon).

I bought some beautiful bunches of asparagus at the market as well as some fresh sugar snap peas. When I got to shelling the peas, I noticed the peas inside were super tiny and delicate and there just wasn’t enough considering I needed 2 cups for the recipe. So, I decided to go ahead and use some frozen organic peas I had on hand, instead. They worked out perfect, though I really would have preferred the fresh, had they been a bit bigger.

This dish has the perfect amount of creaminess without being heavy and the crunch from the fresh asparagus and bacon is wonderful. The brightness from the lemon is really a great compliment to the salty bacon and creamy sauce. I did however, realize after we ate, that the original recipe called for 3 tablespoons of olive oil when mixing the pasta at the end, I accidentally omitted it. I didn’t miss it a bit and honestly, I personally don’t think it needs it. It definitely needed a decent amount of black pepper when serving to give it a bit more punch, so I think next time I may consider adding crushed red pepper as well.

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Pasta with Peas, Asparagus and Bacon
adapted from Bon Appétit, May 2010
serves 4

12 ounces gluten-free organic brown rice penne (any pasta will do however)
3 ounces bacon, chopped (we prefer fresh from the farm, humanely raised, hormone and antibiotic free)
1 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
2 cups shelled fresh green peas, blanched 1 minute in boiling water, drained, or organic frozen peas (do not thaw)
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, white and pale green parts separated from dark green parts
2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons of olive oil (I omitted this)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided
salt
fresh ground black pepper

Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon drippings from skillet. Add asparagus to drippings in skillet; sauté 3 minutes. Add peas, white and pale green parts of green onions, and garlic; sprinkle with a bit of salt and black pepper; sauté until vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add vegetable mixture, 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, dark green parts of green onions, 1/2 cup Parmesan, cream, olive oil (if you wish), lemon juice, lemon peel, half of parsley, and half of basil to pasta. Toss, adding more cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls if needed. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle bacon, remaining parsley, and basil over. Serve, topped with additional Parmesan cheese, and freshly ground black pepper.

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The mojito is one of my go to summer cocktails. But, as with everything, I love all the variations on the classic. This is one of my favorites and considering we had grabbed some fresh picked strawberries while we were out in the country and my herbs are growing out of control in our yard, this was a no brainer.

I love the sweetness from the strawberries and the spiciness from the basil. It is perfectly light and refreshing, the perfect Springtime twist on an old classic.

Strawberry Basil Mojito
serves 1

5 strawberries, hulled
5 fresh basil leaves
1/2 tablespoon organic pure cane sugar (or 2 oz of simple syrup)
2 oz white rum
ice cubes
club soda

Slice the strawberries and place at the bottom of a tall glass along with the basil leaves. Add sugar or simple syrup and muddle the mixture. Stir in the rum and top with ice. Top off with club soda and garnish with strawberry slices and basil leaves.

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There is something about stuffed peppers that is always good, no matter what’s inside. I have been wanting to make quinoa stuffed peppers for sometime now and when I came up with the idea to add goat cheese, I figured I couldn’t go wrong. These peppers were so delicious and had the perfect balance of crunch and creaminess. The fresh mint from our herb garden, was the perfect compliment to the tangy goat cheese. These would be great as a entrée or as a side dish. We served these on the side with some fresh Italian sausage patties from Sojourner Farms that we picked up on Friday (which by the way, was better than any Italian sausage I have ever tasted).

Quinoa and Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers
serves 4

4 organic bell peppers (green, red, orange or yellow, any will do)
3/4 cup cooked quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup frozen organic corn kernels
salt
freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 475º.

Cut off top of peppers and remove seeds. Set aside.

Rinse 1 cup of quinoa thoroughly. In a small saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups water and 1 cup of quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes; fluff with a fork. (I refrigerated the leftover quinoa for a salad tomorrow after yoga.)

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chopped mushrooms; season with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are tender; add corn and 1 tablespoon of fresh mint. Cook until heated.

In a large mixing bowl, add cooked quinoa, mushroom mixture, 4 ounces of goat cheese, remaining 1 tablespoon of fresh mint, salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

Arrange peppers in a small glass baking pan, brush skins with a small amount of olive oil. Stuff peppers with filling, top each pepper with the remaining crumbled goat cheese. Bake until peppers are slightly blackened and the filling top is golden and crispy, 30-35 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes,

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