Archive for November, 2010

by Sarah Steimer

The flaky crust was absolutely perfect and it looks so beaut… brunch show-off?

  • 6 eggs
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes (from can or fresh)
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons reduced-fat cream cheese
  • shredded cheese, to taste
  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough, thawed
  • poppy or sesame seeds (optional)

Whisk together five eggs with hot sauce and set aside.

It’s not really “braiding,” per se.

In a large, oiled skillet, add the onion and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and spinach and continue to sauté  until spinach is wilted.

Pour eggs over sautéed vegetables and cook until set, but not dry, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes, cream cheese and shredded cheese. Place mixture in a bowl and let it cool for a bit.

Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk remaining egg with a teaspoon of water until frothy.

Roll puff pastry into a 12-by-10-inch rectangle. Spoon egg mixture down center of pastry, leaving a one-inch margin on top and bottom and three-inch borders on each side.

Cut pastry on side borders into one-inch-wide strips. Crisscross strips over top of filling. Brush top and sides of pastry with egg wash and top with seeds if desired. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and puffed. Remove from oven and let cool a bit before slicing to serve.

Recipe adapted from: The Other Side of Fifty

Photos: Sarah Steimer

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by Caitlin Saniga

When my Baboo (grandma) was little, her one and only Christmas gift was always an orange — a treat she was lucky enough to eat just once a year. She would have loved these cookies.

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, plus more if needed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest

With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, vanilla and salt and beat to combine. Gradually add the flour, mixing until just incorporated.

Rolled dough.

Divide the dough in half and shape into 1 1/4-inch diameter logs. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

So much zest.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the logs into 3/8-inch-thick pieces and space them 1 1/2 inches apart on on parchment-lined (or not) baking sheets. Bake until lightly golden, 16 to 20 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, orange juice and zest until it forms a thick but pourable glaze (add more lemon juice if necessary). Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and let set, about 15 minutes. Keep dipping until the glaze is gone.

Makes about 4 dozen.

Recipe adapted from: Real Simple

Photos: Caitlin Saniga

*Holiday Dozen is a collection of 12 cookie recipes that we’ll post every Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays until Christmas. Click here for more from our dozen.

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Thanksgiving is all about tradition: watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a Turkey Bowl football game and most importantly — the food. We’ve put some interesting twists on some very traditional Thanksgiving side dishes.

Bourbon-cranberry compote

by Caitlin Saniga

Bowl of sparkling rubies or bourbon-cranberry compote?

  • 1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries (3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup bourbon

In a saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, apple juice and bourbon.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries begin to burst and the sauce thickens, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe adapted from: Real Simple

Photo by: Caitlin Saniga


Cranberry-apple chutney

by Sarah Steimer

You can serve this chilled or warm, alone or on crackers.

  • 2 cooking apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped (I used one Granny Smith and one Golden Crisp)
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, peeled and grated (this will be a little bigger than a 1-inch piece of ginger)
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons apple cider
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries (6 ounces)

In a medium-large pot, combine all ingredients except the cranberries, stir well, and bring to a boil. Boil the mixture over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes. Stir in the cranberries and cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the mixture takes on a syrupy, jam-like consistency (I mashed them just a little). Remove the pot from the burner and allow it to cool.

Makes about 1 pint (looks beautiful in Ball jars and would probably make a great holiday gift).

Recipe adapted from: Modern Comfort Food

Photo: Sarah Steimer

More Thanksgiving Twist dishes: sweet potatoes, vegetables, stuffing

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Thanksgiving is all about tradition: watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a Turkey Bowl football game and most importantly — the food. We’ve put some interesting twists on some very traditional Thanksgiving side dishes.

Buttermilk cornbread stuffing

by Sarah Steimer

The cornbread doesn't soak up the flavors like regular bread does, but it's a down-home style for stuffing.

For the cornbread:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (I never actually try to make buttermilk. Here’s how you fake one cup of buttermilk: Put one tablespoon of vinegar in a 1-cup measuring cup and fill the rest with milk. Allow to sit for a few minutes before you incorporate into your recipe.)
  • 1 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted, cooled
Mix the first four ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, eggs and butter in medium bowl to blend. Stir buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients to blend (do not overmix). Pour batter into a prepared 9-inch round pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean and top is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan. Once cooled, cut into cubes and toast in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

For stuffing:

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 3/4 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend

Sauté onions, celery and shallots in butter until pale golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in sage and thyme. Add to cornbread cubes in bowl. Mix in pecans.

Stir chicken broth into stuffing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in eggs. Place in a buttered glass baking dish and cover with foil. Cook at 375 degrees for about an hour. Remove foil and allow top to brown, about five minutes.

Makes 10 servings.

Recipe adapted from: Epicurious

Photo: Sarah Steimer


Apple, cranberry and pecan stuffing

by Caitlin Saniga

I usually only eat the mandatory spoonful of Thanksgiving stuffing, but I have a whole casserole dish of this stuff, and I'm not totally dreading having to eat all of it.

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter plus more for the baking dish and foil
  • 1 large loaf Italian bread (about 1 pound), cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 16 cups{!})
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 2 Gala apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cop chopped toasted pecan halves
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 large eggs

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Divide the bread between 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake until dry and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, apples, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender and beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the wine and cook until evaporated, 2 to 4 minutes; transfer to a large bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.

Add the bread, cranberries, pecans, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and broth to the vegetables and toss to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Cover with buttered foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until browned, 20 to 30 minutes more.

Makes 8 servings, plus leftovers.

Recipe: Real Simple

Photo: Caitlin Saniga

More Thanksgiving Twist dishes: sweet potatoes, vegetables

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Thanksgiving is all about tradition: watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a Turkey Bowl football game and most importantly — the food. We’ve put some interesting twists on some very traditional Thanksgiving side dishes.

Honeyed carrots and clementines

by Caitlin Saniga

These carrots are a little bit sweet and a little bit savory. Just right!

  • 2 pounds very small carrots, scrubbed; or regular carrots — trimmed, peeled and cut into thin sticks
  • 2 clementines, cut into 4 pieces each
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons small dill sprigs

Heat oven to 375 degrees. On a large, rimmed baking sheet, toss the carrots and clementines with the oil, honey, salt and pepper.

Roast, tossing once, until tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Sprinkle with dill.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe adapted from: Real Simple

Photo: Caitlin Saniga


Dukkah spiced green beans and pumpkin

by Sarah Steimer

This is a pretty big twist considering Dukkah is an Egyptian spice. Definitely not your run-of-the-mill American fare.

  • 2 cups cubed pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut in halves
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbly goat cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons chopped almonds
  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts
Place cubed pumpkin on a baking sheet (I found it easier to half and bake the pumpkin for a little, otherwise it’s almost impossible to cut). Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Toss the pumpkin so it is evenly coated and lay it out in one layer. Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees or until cooked. Turn over half way through.Meanwhile, prepare the Dukkah. Toast the chopped nuts in a dry pan over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until fragrant. Set aside. Now toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan for 3-5 minutes, or until brown and fragrant. In a small bowl, mix the spices with the toasted, chopped nuts.

Steam or boil the beans for 3-5 minutes, until cooked.  Put into ice water straight afterward to retain the green color and stop the cooking process. Drain.
In a large bowl, combine the oven-roasted pumpkin with the green beans. Toss with 1-2 tablespoons of Dukkah. Sprinkle with chopped spring onions and goat cheese. Season to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.Recipe adapted from: Anja’s Food 4 Thought

Photo: Sarah Steimer

More Thanksgiving Twist dishes: sweet potatoes, stuffing

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Thanksgiving is all about tradition: watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a Turkey Bowl football game and most importantly — the food. We’ve put some interesting twists on some very traditional Thanksgiving side dishes.

Orange-spiced sweet potato bread

by Sarah Steimer

This can not only replace your sweet potato dish, but your boring dinner roll as well.

  • 2 pounds of sweet potato (about two large potatoes) OR two 15-ounce cans sweet potatoes, drained
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2/3 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed orange juice

Mash sweet potatoes until smooth with a mixer. Add the sugar and oil and mix to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Add the flour mixture into the sweet potato mixture in three batches, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the pecans.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed, mash the sweet potatoes until smooth (this will make about 2 cups). Add the sugar and oil, and mix to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Pour the batter into four buttered and floured mini loaf pans. You can also use larger loaf pans, a bunt cake pan or any other that suits your fancy. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes four mini loaves or one bundt cake.

Recipe adapted from: Mermaid Sweets

Photo: Sarah Steimer


Caribbean sweet potato and bean stew

by Caitlin Saniga

This is the third time I've made this for Thanksgiving. It's always a hit.

Special equipment needed: slow cooker

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups frozen green beans
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) vegetable broth
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons Caribbean jerk seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds, toasted
  • hot pepper sauce, if desired

Combine sweet potatoes, green and black beans, broth, onion, jerk seasoning, thyme, salt and cinnamon in a slow cooker.

Cover; cook on low for 5 to 6 hours or until vegetables are tender.

Adjust seasonings. Sprinkle with almonds. Serve with hot pepper sauce, if desired.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe: Rival CrockPot — Slow Cooker Recipes cookbook

Photo: Caitlin Saniga

More Thanksgiving Twist dishes: vegetables, stuffing

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by Caitlin Saniga

The original recipe called for a whole bag of popcorn, but my mixing bowl wasn’t big enough to hold 8 cups of cereal and all that popcorn. So I started eating the popcorn until what remained would fit in the bowl. :)

  • 4 cups Corn Chex (or off-brand equivalent)
  • 4 cups Rice Chex (or off-brand equivalent)
  • ½ 3-ounce bag butter microwave popcorn, popped
  • ¼ cup dry-roasted peanuts
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder

This snack will give you hard-core garlic breath, but it’s worth suffering through.

Heat oven to 300 degrees. In a very large bowl, mix cereal, popcorn and peanuts. Drizzle with oil; toss until evenly coated.

In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients; sprinkle over cereal mixture. Toss until evenly coated. Spread cereal mixture in ungreased large roasting pan.

Bake uncovered 12 minutes, stirring once. Cool 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 12 1-cup servings

Recipe: Chex

Photos: Caitlin Saniga

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by Sarah Steimer

Awwwww. Little things.

For pear filling

  • 5 pears (cut in small cubes)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (I used a little less)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter

Place all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and stir occasionally. Once the pears seemed to have softened, mash them until most of the pears are near applesauce consistently. Allow to simmer for a few minutes longer. Let cool

For the blueberry filling, I merely mixed about a 3/4 cup of blueberries with the same amounts of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, plus about 2 tablespoons of flour.

Pears are so attractive.

For crust

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons water

Mix Flour and salt. Cut in butter and work it into the flour until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle in one tablespoon of the water at a time and toss with a fork. Repeat until all is moistened and form the dough into a ball. On a floured surface, roll out the dough.

Cut the dough into circles about an half an inch wider than the openings of a muffin pan. I used a small bowl as my cutter. Place the circles in oil-sprayed muffin tins, don’t worry if the dough doesn’t come all the way up to the edges. Place fillings in the tins, but do not fill above the dough. Use the excess dough to create a pattern on top of the tarts.

Place in a 360 degree oven for about a half hour or until the tart crusts look golden brown. Let cool and take them from their tins.

Recipe: Sarah Steimer

Photos: Sarah Steimer

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by Caitlin Saniga

For salads, soups or just a snack — these croutons are perfect.

  • 7 slices bread (white varieties are best, I think)
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut bread slices into small cubes. In a medium mixing bowl, combine bread, butter, garlic salt and onion powder. Spread bread on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10-13 minutes, or until bread is golden brown.

Makes about 6 servings.


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by Sarah Steimer

Our shared vegetarian platter at Abay.

A couple of weeks ago, a couple of my friends and I were in the mood for a little BYOB dining. After staring at Urbanspoon for a while, someone suggested going to Abay (pronounced uh-BYE), an Ethiopian restaurant. I’d never had that sort of fare before, so off we went to East Liberty — which, for the record, is really making a comeback. Sure, you could probably still buy crack in certain parts, but it has a Whole Foods!

David and Tom digging in. Maybe the coolest basket I've ever used as a table.

Abay has been topping a lot of restaurant lists in Pittsburgh, and it’s not so expensive that you have to wait for a birthday or bar mitzvah to go. It’s a fairly small restaurant and they don’t take reservations unless you have a party of eight or more, so the waiting line on a weekend night can get long.

We were seated at one of the super-cool woven basket tables with a Lazy Susan on top to encourage sharing. You can get individual meals at Abay, but it’s a lot more fun to try a little bit of this and that. We got the three-person vegetarian sampler ($32.50 — so only about $10 per person) and chose the following (starting clockwise from the top in the first picture of this post):

Ye Abesha Gomen: Kale, peppers, ginger, garlic and onions slow-cooked in a mild sauce.

Shiro Wat: Finely ground split peas, lentils and chickpeas simmered in berbere and a combination of seasonings.

Ayib be Gomen: Fresh collard greens blended with Abay’s homemade cheese.

Fosolia: String beans lightly spiced and sauteed with carrots, onions and potatoes.

Everything was served on injera, which is a spongy flatbread made from tef, wheat and barley. The way to eat this is to rip off a piece of the injera and scoop up what you’d like. The menu explains the importance of communal spirit in Ethiopia and how it’s reflected in the way they eat: no individual plates or utensils.

Incredible dessert I wish I'd caught the name of.

Our platter was absolutely delicious. It doesn’t look like a ton of food but I was comfortably full when we finished. The Shiro Wat was spicy and it tasted great when combined with Ye Abesha Gomen. I was very surprised by the Fosolia because it tasted a bit like something you would have at Thanksgiving time. But all the tastes meshed beautifully and I chocked up that trip to one of my best restaurant experiences in Pittsburgh.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, my friend Dave got us this incredible dessert. I wish I caught the name of it (the desserts are chosen on a daily basis and not on the menu), but it was something like warm pumpkin pie filling wrapped in crispy phyllo dough and served with vanilla bean ice cream with syrup drizzled over top. Unbelievable.

Everything about the food, the way we ate and the conversations we had definitely gave me the feeling of community the restaurant shoots for.

Visit Abay in East Liberty: 130 S. Highland Ave. Pittsburgh, Pa. 15206; http://www.abayrestaurant.com/index.shtml

Photos: Sarah Steimer

For more photos from my trip to Abay, check out our Flickr site!

Abay Ethiopian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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