Archive for May, 2011

by Sarah Steimer

A new recipe on my new plate.

  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans
  • handful of slivered almonds
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Break off the tips of the green beans and cut in half. Steam for about five minutes or until the beans are bright green and tender crisp. Transfer beans to an oiled saute pan.

Saute the beans with the almonds for a few minutes before adding the mustard and honey. Cook and mix for a few minutes long. Serve warm.

Makes two to four servings as a side dish.

Recipe: Sarah Steimer

Photo: Sarah Steimer


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by Caitlin Saniga

I only dipped my pretzels in chocolate halfway. But, by all means, dip the whole thing if you feel so inclined. And orange zest would be a good substitute for lime.

  • 4.5 ounces dark chocolate (1 bar)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 12 medium-sized pumpernickel pretzels
  • zest from 1 lime (about 2 teaspoons)

Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper. Set aside.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. See Sarah’s recipe on chocolate-covered pretzels for a good guide. Whisk in lime juice to melted chocolate.

Dip pretzels halfway in chocolate. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate if necessary. Sprinkle generously with lime zest. Arrange pretzels on lined baking sheet. Freeze pretzels for 15 minutes to allow the chocolate to set. Store pretzels in an airtight container for up to a week.

Makes a dozen.

Recipe: Caitlin Saniga

Photo: Caitlin Saniga

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by Sarah Steimer

My gnocchi didn't look perfect, but I'm pretty sure that's what happens when you're neither A.) a machine nor B.) a professional chef.

  • 2 pounds Russet potatoes (about two potatoes)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1 or so bunches of broccoli
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Make a slash around the circumference of each potato, cutting just through the skin (this will help get the skin off easier when you finish cooking the potatoes).  Bake potatoes in a 350 degree oven until a knife can be inserted easily, about an hour. Or you could pop it in the microwave for a few minutes on the baked potato setting.

Pull the skin off and press the potatoes through a potato ricer into a large mixing bowl or mash it however you can — I just used a hand potato masher and didn’t wind up with many lumps at all. The goal is lump-free potatoes.

If you make more gnocchi than you'll need that day, freeze the pre-cooked pieces on a cookie sheet for about an hour then transfer to a freezer bag, back in the freezer. The gnocchi can last for weeks in there.

Add flour, 1 teaspoon salt and eggs. Mix with your hands into a smooth dough — this works better if the potatoes are warm. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly.

Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Give yourself plenty of counter space and roll each piece with your fingers into a rope about the thickness of your finger. Cut into 1-inch lengths. Roll each on the back of a large fork along the tines, flicking it off into a grooved and rounded shape.

Let me stop right here and say that I have no clue why this fork thing is necessary. I think it was a big time-waster, frankly. Skip it if you’d like.

Place gnocchi on a floured baking sheet.

Clean and trim broccoli then steam it until it reaches your desired tenderness. In the same pot, once you’ve removed the broccoli, add salt to the water and bring to a boil again. Gently add gnocchi to the boiling water in batches. Don’t put in more gnocchi than will rest separately on top when they float to the surface. Continue to cook for 90 seconds after they have risen. Remove with skimmer and place into a colander.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and cook just a few minutes until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add broccoli, gnocchi and and about 1/2 cup water to skillet, tossing gently and seasoning with salt and pepper.

Add shredded cheese to individual servings.

Makes about four servings.

Recipe adapted from: Cook, Shoot Eat… a photographer’s journey

Photos: Sarah Steimer

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by Caitlin Saniga

This salad is great for a work lunch or dinner on the porch.

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons roasted sesame oil
  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled
  • a few drops of hot sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves

Preheat broiler. Cut the chicken into  1/2- to 1-inch chunks and place on a roasting pan. Put the skewers on a plate and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce.

In a blender, combine the remaining soy sauce with the peanut butter, sesame oil, garlic, hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste, sugar and vinegar. Turn the blender on and add hot water, a teaspoon at a time until the mixture is smooth and creamy, (You will not need more than 3 teaspoons of water.)

Grill or broil the chicken, turning once or twice. Total cooking time will be 6-9 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the cucumber (if it is waxed), slice it in half the long way, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut it into 1/2-inch dice and combine in a bowl with the sauce. When the chicken is done, toss it with the sauce and cucumber. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary

Chop romaine. Place a scoop of the chicken mixture on top. Garnish with red peppers and cilantro. Can be served cold or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe adapted from: The Minimalist Cooks at Home by Mark Bittman

Photo: Caitlin Saniga

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by Sarah Steimer

If I have a choice, I choose loose tea. Allowing your tea to be free releases more of its benefits.

For the bread:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup prepared chai tea*
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour

Cream together sugar and butter.  Beat in eggs, tea, milk and vanilla on low speed until well combined.  Slowly add the baking powder, salt and flour.  Stir until just moistened.  Pour into one prepared loaf pan or three prepared mini loaf pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on a rack before glazing.

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • – 5 teaspoons prepared chai tea

Combine sugar and vanilla. Stir in the tea until you reach a desired consistency (I went with thick but runny). Pour over loaf.

Makes one regular loaf or three mini loaves.

Recipe adapted from: The Jey of Cooking

Photo: Sarah Steimer

*I used chai tea from Tupelo Honey Teas, based in Pittsburgh. Danielle hand-blends wonderful teas, many of which are organic. I highly recommend stopping to see her at the Pittsburgh Public Market. Otherwise, you can order her tea online — I have now that I’ve moved! Gotta stay loyal.

Chai tea facts

-Good for: Digestion and nausea. Black pepper in chai stimulates the stomach to produce hydrochloric acid required for breaking down food, fennel inhibits bacteria that cause gas and cloves refresh the mouth and throat. Black tea (the base for chai) and cinnamon contain antioxidants and ginger is a nausea remedy that soothes the stomach, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry.

-Origins: Chai is actually the Hindi word for tea and is more accurately called “masala chai” or spiced tea. There are numerous types of chai tea and no set recipe, although it is most commonly steeped in boiling water with steamed milk added. Chai is a very commonly found beverage in India and is traditionally served after meals.

-Taste: It varies, but chai usually has a black tea base with spices that include cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, peppercorn and cloves. Because of the spices, the smell and taste of the tea has an autumn or winter comparison-flavor comparison.

Sources: Livestrong and Tea Genius

**Throughout May, “Strange Brew” will feature tea-based recipes — all of which can be found here.

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by Caitlin Saniga

For added spiciness, you can add roughly minced jalapeno to the mix.

  • 1 1/2 cup dry shell pasta
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly minced
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped cilantro for garnish

Cook pasta according to package instruction. Drain well, and set aside to cool

Peel avocado and remove the pit. Put it in a food processor with chopped cilantro, lime juice, mayonnaise and garlic. Blend until it’s creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the avocado sauce to a medium sized bowl. Add cooked pasta and toss well. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Makes 2 main-dish servings.

Recipe adapted from: NorikoBurky.com

Photo: Caitlin Saniga

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by Caitlin Saniga

This recipe calls for frozen corn, but let's not kid ourselves. Corn season is almost upon us. By all means, use fresh corn if it's available.

  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon (about 2 ounces), chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh edamame or thawed frozen edamame, thawed
  • 1 pound frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup chopped  parsley
  • salt and pepper
Heat a heavy, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and sauté until crispy, about 3 minutes. Remove bacon, reserving bacon grease in pan. Add shallot and sauté until shallot begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Add edamame, corn, and 1/4 cup water and cook until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer to bowl and sprinkle with bacon and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipe adapted from: Bon Appetit

Photo: Caitlin Saniga

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