Thursday, July 29, 2010

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Cannellini Beans and Basil Chiffonade

Creamy cannellini beans, spicy basil, and juicy heirloom tomatoes. Simple is good. Heirloom tomatoes don't need any help, just a little salt and pepper to enhance their unique flavors. Toss it together with some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to add a little pop! The weather may be heading towards fall in this neck of the woods, but dishes like this remind me that summer is still here for a bit longer.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Cannellini Beans and Basil Chiffonade

3-4 cups of sliced heirloom tomatoes
generous portions of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
8-10 large basil leaves, rolled and thinly sliced

-Combine beans, tomatoes, and basil in a large bowl and season with salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar. Gently toss with your hands and serve.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese

Can a recipe that calls for one pound of cheese not be delicious? Relatively quick to make, the most time consuming steps are grating said pound of cheese and making the béchamel base. The cheese sauce could be used many ways, perhaps spooned over poached eggs, broccoli, or for fondue.


Beecher's Flagship Cheese Sauce
1/2 stick unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
14 ounces semihard cheese, grated, about 3 1/2 cups (I used aged sharp cheddar)
2 ounces semisoft cheese, about 1/2 cup (I've used Gruyère and Havarti)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

-Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Continue whisking to evenly cook flour for 2 minutes. The flour/butter mixture will begin to brown lightly and smell nutty.
-Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
-Remove pan from the heat and add cheeses, salt, chili powder, and garlic powder. Stir until the cheese is melted and all ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for ~3 days.


Macaroni and Cheese
16 ounces penne
4 cups Beecher's Flagship Cheese Sauce (below)
1 ounce cheddar, grated (1/4 cup)
1 ounce Gruyère cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili powder (to taste)

-Preheat oven to 350°F and butter a 9x13 glass baking dish.
-Cook penne two minutes shy of package directions, drain, and rinse with cool water.
-Combine pasta and sauce in a large bowl, mixing carefully. Scrape pasta into baking dish and top with cheeses and chili powder.
-Bake uncovered for 20-40 minutes, or until the dish is bubbling and the top has started to brown lightly. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

-Adapted from Pure Flavor, by Kurt Beecher Dammeier

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes you just need chocolate chip cookies. Bad. And, you need a simple recipe that is conveniently located on the bag of the chocolate chips... There are so many cliché things I could say here. "Don't fix it if it ain't broke." "Why reinvent the wheel?" In this case, the wheel was fine-tuned with whole wheat flour. Have your cookie and eat it too! I'm going to stop before this gets worse.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

To hot to turn on the stove? Grill! Grilled portobello mushrooms can be added to many dishes: salads, pasta, crostini, sandwiches, or even eaten straight. This recipe uses a grilled portobello as a base for sautéed vegetables which you can modify to suit your personal tastes or what you have on hand. Bottom line- it's all about the foil pouch. You may not get grill lines or as much smokey flavor, but your portobellos won't dry out, toughen, or burn.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

4 medium portobello mushrooms
olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

1 sweet red onion, sliced thinly
2 bell peppers (red, orange, or yellow) diced
1/2 -1 red chili, seeded and finely chopped (to taste)
goat cheese

-Clean and de-stem portobellos and place gill side up on a large sheet of lightly oiled aluminum foil.
-Drizzle the portobellos with olive oil and season well with garlic, pepper, and salt.
-Form a pouch around the mushrooms with the aluminum foil leaving a few small openings to serve as vents.
-Grill over medium heat until the mushrooms are cooked through, tender, and bubbly.

-Over medium heat, sautée onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a large pinch of salt until softened. Add the peppers, chili, and another pinch of salt and continue to sautée until the vegetables have all softened and lost their excess moisture.
-Note: You can make this before you grill the mushrooms and keep it warm until serving.
-Divide mixture between the portobellos and top with large crumbles of goat cheese and freshly ground pepper.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Peanut Barbecue Tofu

I found this recipe just in time to post it for the upcoming 4th of July picnics, potlucks, and parties. A hearty and satisfying meat free bbq option, the peanut butter really shines and compliments the barbecue sauce well. Use your favorite store bought or homemade barbecue sauce as I believe the tangy/spicy and sweet/smokey sauces will both work well. Serve with greens, in a sandwich, or in a salad.

2 lb. extra firm tofu, frozen and thawed, cut into 1/3 inch slices
1 cup natural peanut butter
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
barbecue sauce (Nancy's or Stubbs works well)

-Preheat oven to 350° F.
-Mix peanut butter, paprika, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and vegetable oil in the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish using a spatula. Gently toss the tofu with the peanut butter sauce. If the peanut sauce doesn't spread easily, bake the tofu for ~10 minutes and toss again.  Bake for about 1 hour, tossing halfway through baking. Coat the tofu with barbecue sauce and toss to coat. Bake for another 30 minutes. 

Adapted from: Bark & Grass Number 2, 1994