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Monday, July 21, 2014

Rosemary Lemon Bars

So some of you may know and some of you may not...I am a part of a wonderful food group.  A friend from work and I met three other lovely ladies at a class we took discovering the food cultures of different Boston neighborhoods.  During that class we decided to continue to regroup for dinner parties in which we would all cook a dish that centered around the same main ingredient.  (Like Iron Chef, but the ingredient is not a secret, there is no real time constraint, and we don't need to cook on-site unless we need or want to.)  For the first dinner, we chose to use bacon for the reason of versatility to all courses as well as pure indulgent deliciousness.  I made this bacon potato pizza (which is awesome.)  By the end of that dinner party, we had already picked our next date and ingredient...citrus!

So yesterday was our Iron Chef citrus night.  It was amazing...these ladies can certainly cook.  Everything was truly delicious.  This was what our menu looked like...

Apps: Lemon Steamed Artichokes with Basil Lemon Cream Dipping Sauce
          Lemon and Grilled Onion Feta Dip
          Tilapia Ceviche

Main Course: Lemon Parmesan Crusted Chicken over a Pine Nut Arugula Salad with a Lemon Vinegarette

Dessert:  Key Lime Pie
              Rosemary Lemon Bars (these were mine!)

I stumbled upon this recipe a long time ago and placed it in my memory bank.  As soon as we decided citrus, I knew I was making this.  I have never attempted any lemon bar before, so I didn't have the slightest idea as to what to expect, but just the idea of rosemary in the crust of these made me need to find out.  They were awesome.  If you have a thing for lemon desserts and a sweet tooth, then you'll need to make these.  The rosemary is not overwhelming at all - it is extremely subtle and I think added the perfect special touch.  Try them out if you are looking for something different and love a good lemon bar.  Since I don't really eat lemon bars, I can't tell you how they compare as far as the sweetness level goes, but I compared it to other recipes and it seemed to use about the same ratios of sugar to egg and flour.

On a totally different note, I would have loved to take a different kind of photo of these.  They would have looked amazing with a dark background, but unfortunately, I already had packed away my slate board.  I didn't even have my cake pan to use for these because I had packed it up not thinking about making lemon bars at the time.  I had to buy a disposable tin to use instead.  I can't wait to be moved already!  I'm cooking my last meal in this house sad and happy at the same time.  My love of food and cooking blossomed in this house.

Rosemary Lemon Bars
recipe from Gimme Some Oven

for the crust:
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 24 small pieces
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon the flour into measuring cups and sweep off the excess)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt

for the filling:
6 eggs
2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 cup all-purpose flour (same as above)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a 9  x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, or grease with cooking  spray.  To make the crust, pulse all ingredients aside from the butter together in a food processor until combined.  Then add the butter and process until a crumbly dough has formed.  Remove the dough and press into the bottom of prepared baking pan in a flat layer.  Bake the crust for 15 minutes, until lightly golden.  Remove and set aside.  While the crust bakes, make the filling...Whisk together all of filling ingredients until there are no longer any lumps.  Then, once the crust is done, pour it over pre-baked crust.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until filling is set in center (mine took 30 minutes.)  Remove bars and let cool to room temperature.  Then refrigerate for another 2 hours before slicing.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.  Add a spring of rosemary if you'd like to make it pretty, but don't eat it.  (I'd get yelled at for the inedible garnish if I were on a cooking show.)

more info

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blueberry Plum Galette

Well, do you know what happens when you pack away all of your pie and tart pans but feel the need to make a pie or tart?  You make a galette!  And let me tell you must must must must must make this galette!  It was soooooo good.  Like I want to eat it forever good.  And as far as pie-like desserts go, this is a pretty good way to go.  This particular crust as only one stick of butter (that's actually not that bad for a pie crust I swear...most use shortening too), and the filling has only 1/4 cup of sugar.  So it's almost like you're eating a delicious, warm fruit salad...which you absolutely can not forget to top with some vanilla ice cream  ;)

Blueberry Plum Galette
recipe from Port and Fin

for the crust:
1-1/3 cup + 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
5 Tbsp ice water

for the filling:
3 cups blueberries
1 cup plum slices
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp of water

First, prepare the crust.  In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and sugar.  Then add the butter and pulse until crumbly looking.  Then add the water and process until the dough forms.  Remove from the processor and form into a flat disk on a piece of plastic wrap, wrap, and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and then, in a large bowl, combine all of your filling ingredients and set aside.  Once your dough has chilled, remove it from the plastic wrap and roll it out into a 12-inch circle (or as circle-like as possible...I am too terrible at this for words, but it matters not.)  Place the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with a thin layer of flour (this was supposed to prevent the fruit juices from leaking out of the bottom of the crust, but mine still did.)  Then pour the filling onto the dough, leaving about a 2-inch border which you can then fold over the filling starting in one spot and working your way around until it it a beautiful dough bowl of fruity goodness.

Brush the crust with the egg wash and place the galette in your preheated oven for 30-40 minutes (mine took exactly 40) until it is golden brown and ready to be devoured with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream - although you should probably wait for it to cool and set first.  Try your best.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage, Broccoli Rabe, and Sundried Tomatoes

So it's been such a crazy month that I didn't do I single post in the month of June!  That's the first time a month has passed without a post since I started blogging recipes almost two years ago and I did have an actual conversation with myself about this.  I just didn't have time to prepare something to take photos, and I started this blog as a way to have some fun with cooking and photography.  If I start stressing out about cooking solely for the purpose of taking pictures and blogging, then it will no longer be fun for me.  I did make these roasted banana popsicles one night that I intended on posting if they went over well, but they were only so-so.  I'm going to work on that recipe until it's better.  Aside from that, I spent most of my time in June wrapping up my school year by writing college recommendations and grading finals, and then began my summer vacations apartment hunting with my mother for a week followed by an awesome family vacay to North Conway.

I now make up for my recent absence of posts with a new recipe that I put together myself.  It is super quick, super easy, packed with healthy veggies, excellent for leftovers, and really delicious.  It is also, as most of my favorites tend to be, extremely versatile.  Use any kind of pasta you like (whole grain to kick up the health factor, but I just love orecchiette for this - classic), and use any protein you'd like, swap out the sausage for white beans, or omit it completely (to go vegetarian/vegan.)  You can use a different vegetable if you would rather as well, but if you haven't tried broccoli rabe, you should try it.  It can be bitter, but if you blanch it first as I did, it helps the bitterness immensely.  I hope you love this one as much as we do in the Faulkner house.  Speaking of houses...

We are preparing to move in the end of July, so there has been a lot of packing and a lot less cooking.  I have already packed away all my baking supplies, so don't expect any cookies or cakes from me.  I am about to say goodbye to my food processor and mixer, but I keep putting it off.  In the meantime, I haven't been using them much anyway since I've been running around so much.  In addition to our move, my mother is moving as well.  AND I have a graduate course all of next week from 8 in the morning to 5 at night.  Needless to say, I am busy.  Don't expect too much from me during the month of July either.

1 lb orecchiette
1 lb chicken sausage, removed from casings
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch broccoli rabe
7 oz jar of sliced sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained
1/2 cup grated romano cheese

Bring 2 large pots of water to a boil.  In one, cook the broccoli rabe for 30 seconds.  Pull from the water and place in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.  Once cooled, remove to a colander to drain.  Then chop the cooled and drained broccoli rabe into small pieces.  Place half the olive oil in a large, deep pan over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the chicken sausage and allow to cook undisturbed for four minutes or so, then flip, and begin breaking up the meat as it continues to cook.  Cook until the sausage it no longer pink and remove to a bowl.  Drain most of the grease from the pan and turn the heat down to medium-low.  While waiting for the pan to cool, cook the pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid before you drain it.  When the pan is ready, add the remaining olive oil and the garlic to your pan and stir until fragrant, about a minute or so.  Then add the chopped broccoli rabe and the sundried tomatoes, and saute until all of the flavors have combined, about another minute.  Return the sausage to the pan and stir.  Then add the cooked pasta and about 1/2 a cup of the pasta water.  (save the rest for any leftover that you save so that the dish isn't completely dry after the pasta absorbs what's there.)  Lastly, add the romano cheese and give one last stir.  Serve with extra cheese and crushed red pepper.