Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Not a total success...Baked Eggplant Sandwiches

Still had some provolone to use up (after the "Philly Cheese Steaks"). So, I decided to try something a little different. I love paging through Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. Everything seems so different, and it really makes me want to try new things. The recipe that caught my eye this time, though, isn't truly exotic. Its advantage is that it uses up some cupboard ingredients, and has eggplant, which I love. So, I thought I'd give the Baked Eggplant Sandwiches a try.

The recipe is definitely in the Italian style, which I love. It's conceptually an eggplant parm, but without the sauce. They suggest using it as an appetizer or light lunch (which is what I did, just substitute the word "dinner" for "lunch").

What I like - it's lighter than the nutritional information given below. Honestly, even though I halved the recipe, I probably used a 1/4 of the toppings listed below. I also liked how the sandwich looked when it was cut. Something about the shape of the little eggplant bites really appealed. Also, there was a saltiness that brought out the provolone. I'm pretty sure that was because I salted liberally with kosher salt instead of regular salt.

What didn't work as well - the topping didn't melt and brown as much as the bottom did. I think if I moved the rack further up in the oven it might be better. It also might be the fact that I lined the baking sheet with foil instead of buttering it like the recipe called for. Laziness (not wanting to scrub down the sheet) probably was my undoing.

Would I make it again? Probably, if I had the provolone. I like the lightness of it, for those days when I've had a heavy lunch. But I won't deliberately buy the cheese for it.

And maybe as a sign, the pictures didn't turn out fantastically. Ah well - practice makes perfect!

* Exported from MasterCook *

Baked Eggplant Sandwich

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
2 small eggplants
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
fresh ground black pepper
6 slices sargento Deli Style Provolone -- thinly sliced
1 cup unbleached flour
3 eggs -- beaten

Lightly salt the eggplant slices and set them aside for at least 20 minutes.

Mix together the bread crumbs, grated cheese, parsley, and black pepper.

Preheat oven to 350. Oil a baking sheet.

For each sandwich, place a slice of cheese between two slices of eggplant. Hold the sandwich firmly and coat both sides with flour. Dip the sandwiches first into the eggs and then into the bread crumbs to coat both sides. Place the finished sandwich on the baking sheet.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork.

"Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 302 Calories; 9g Fat (27.8% calories from fat); 16g Protein; 38g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 109mg Cholesterol; 767mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Monday, September 25, 2006

I don't want to let summer go...Fresh Ginger-Peach Soup

This past weekend was a nice weekend, for the most part. And to me, it seemed, fairly unseasonably warm. Call me crazy, but shorts at the end of September doesn't seem normal, unless you are substantially south of the Mason-Dixon.

I decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth, though, and try to grab one last dish with summer fruit before the prices skyrocket, and I would be overpaying for not the best quality.

One of my favorite sources of inspiration is the CLBB (Cooking Light Bulletin Board). I have tons of recipes in my MasterCook that I either got from threads on the board, or were brought to my attention because of reviews on the board. I trust the cooks on the board (after all, one of our members won the Pillsbury Bake-off this year!),and I was thrilled to find an original recipe for a fruit soup on the board. I am all about the fruit soups - they go so nicely with my other cooking obsession (muffins!).

The recipe - as found here - says that the recipe can be served cold or hot. Personally, I loved it when I served it at room temperature. The texture is perfect for a fruit soup. I do have to warn, though; the overwhelming flavor is of the curry. On the first day it had a nice bite, which mellowed overnight, but definitely was delicious as a leftover. The color was gorgeous, it was simple, and I want to make it again as soon as I can! Darn me for being stupid, and only doing a half batch.

It's not my number one favorite soup, but it's definitely a better curried soup than the curried apple soup I've tried before. I can see it as part of my summer rotation.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Changing a recipe to my own tastes - Portobello "Philly Cheese Steak" Sandwiches

I've never had a cheese steak. It's strange to believe, given that I lived fairly close to Pennsylvania, but I guess I never did much visiting to Philadelphia. So, for those who have had a cheese steak, you might not want to take my endorsement of this recipe as saying it's a pretty good vegetarian mimic. All I say is that I like this recipe.

I had made this recipe before, and liked it well enough. I actually made the rolls that I put the recipe on, which was cool. This time, however, I decided to use La Tortilla Factory Rosemary wraps (leftover from when I used them with Roasted Veggie Spread). I think using the wrap made everything that much better - basically because it was much, much neater to eat.

As for the actual recipe, I like the flavor very much. The filling cooks down to a great texture. I especially like how the mushrooms cook down - I've lost a taste for raw mushrooms, but still like them when they are cooked. The flavor of the filling is salty, and resembles soy sauce somewhat, but not so much so. If you gave this to someone without telling them what was in it, I don't think you'd be able to identify the soy sauce, but you would have a sense that it's a familiar flavor. The provolone adds the final flavor, and it definitely adds the perfect final touch.

I like this recipe. Making it a wrap turns it into a recipe I definitely want to repeat (and freeze?). I can't promise it's a perfect imitation of the real thing, but I think it stands up well enough on its own.

Portobello "Philly Cheese Steak" Sandwich

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Arrr - back to ARF we be! Chilled Cherry-Plum Soup

Avast! 'Tis Talk Like a Pirate Day. Avast ye scurvy dogs! Wait, hold on. We can't be scurvy dogs - we're celebrating ARF!

I'm so glad to be back regularly posting, and especially joining in Sweetnick's ARF roundup (so nice, we'll share it twice). I am also glad I get to share my ultimate favorite soup.

It's very strange to call this recipe my ultimate favorite soup. I only discovered it a couple months ago! But, I fell in love on first taste, and I can't help but want to make it over and over again. The recipe is simple, sweet, rich, colorful, and most of all, filling and healthy! I love this soup, and I wish the weather would be warm year round, and the plums cheap, so I could make it every week.

One more addition to my posts - a picture! Yay! Gotta practice to get better, but at least it's a start!

* Exported from MasterCook *

Chilled Cherry-Plum Soup

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 1/2 pounds plums
3 cups frozen unsweetened cherres -- (1 pound fresh)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey -- 1 to 2 tablespoons, to taste
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
2 cups nonfat yogurt -- or buttermilk

Pit and coarsely chop the plums. Place them in a medium-sized saucepan with the cherries, salt, and orange juice. Heat to boiling, turn heat down, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in ginger and mustard. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in honey and orange rind. Cool to room temperature, then puree until smooth in a blender or food processor. Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid, and chill until very cold.

Whisk in the yogurt or buttermilk just before serving. Top each bowlful with a swirl of buttermilk, a scattering of fresh mint, and a few kiwi slices.

"The Enchanted Broccoli Forest"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 179 Calories; 1g Fat (6.0% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 39g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 1mg Cholesterol; 169mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 2 Fruit; 1/2 Non-Fat Milk; 0 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Monday, September 18, 2006

Crushin' on Alton - Roasted Veggie Spread

I love Alton Brown. I know - shocking. Everyone on the 'net loves Alton. It's the geek thing. He's a geek, and he's not afraid to admit it. Plus, he's fun. He's definite a celeb crush for me.

I finally got around to trying one of his recipes, and if they are all as good as this one, I can't wait to try them all. This recipe is simple, fun, and looks exactly like the veggie cream cheese that my mom buys for bagels when I come to visit. The advantage is, this recipe tastes better. Plus, I was able to use yogurt cheese, instead of the cream cheese that the original calls for. Using yogurt cheese cut the calories significantly, which I love. I ate this spread on a rosemary tortilla from La Tortilla Factory (first time for that as well). It's definitely better than the turkey wrap I usually get at work, especially the tortilla, which is made with no hydrogenated fats (yay!) AND uses olive oil for the fat that is there (double yay!)

I definitely will repeat this; I might even cut the olive oil to 2 tsps. Definitely want to try it on bagels, or in whole wheat pitas. And, of course, trying it as a dip.

The original:
Roasted Vegetable Spread (yum)

And the nutrition info for it using yogurt cheese:

* Exported from MasterCook *

Roasted Vegetable Spread

Recipe By :Alton Brown
Serving Size : 4 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Dips/Spreads

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 red bell pepper -- sliced into rings
1 medium onion -- sliced into rings
4 garlic cloves -- crushed
1 small zucchini -- sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces yogurt cheese
Kosher salt -- to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper -- to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the bell pepper, onion, garlic, zucchini, and olive oil in a medium mixing bowl and toss until the vegetables are coated. Spread the vegetables evenly on sheet pan lined with foil and place into the oven. Roast, tossing occasionally, until they are soft and are beginning to turn brown around the edges, approximately 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Place the vegetables in the bowl of a food processor along with the cream cheese and process until well combined and spreadable; do not process until completely smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Spread on soft bread, such as challah, foccacia, or pita bread. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

This recipe yields 1 3/4 cups spread.

"GOOD EATS with Alton Brown - (Show # EA-1H11) - from the TV FOOD NETWORK"
S(Formatted for MC8):
"02-04-2005 by Joe Comiskey - Mad's Recipe Emporium"
"1 3/4 cups"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 123 Calories; 4g Fat (27.5% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 15g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 4mg Cholesterol; 89mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1/2 Non-Fat Milk; 1/2 Fat.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Clearing out the fridge II- Cranberry Brown Muffins

Well, this might accidentally turn into a series! I started to type in the title for this entry, and up popped the fact that I had used it before (for whole wheat beer bread). Nice synergy.

I always feel so good when I finish a jar/bottle of something. Not quite sure why - it's just a nice little thrill. So, when I noticed that the cranberries I bought last Christmas were still languishing in the freezer, I knew I had to use them in the next couple months - so I could replace them with new bags of cranberries! I know, it's weird - I love cranberries, but then I never cook with the ones I freeze! And I usually do so well with working from my freezer... Anyway, I was paging through my new favorite cookbook, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, and found Cranberry Brown Bread. Perfect! It used a combination of wheat and white flour, which is what I like to use, it used minced walnuts, which I had the tiniest bit to use, it used molasses, which I had just a little bit clinging to the bottom of the bottle, and it used orange juice, which I could squeeze from an orange leftover from a previous recipe. Perfect! And, as it turned out, I actually used up more of the little drips and drabs than I thought I would. I didn't have enough molasses, so I filled in the gaps with the drabs of my maple syrup. And, of course, I converted the recipe from bread to muffins. I can just never slice bread evenly, so I prefer to do muffins, and use my handy dandy ice cream scoop (that never gets used for ice cream) to make them even.

And? Well, these muffins are okay, I guess. Don't think I'd repeat them. Just the fact that they use a whole stick of butter bothers me. Darn me for getting so fussy! Hehehe. Anyway, the muffins are more buttery than I am used to, but others may like them more. I dug on the fun part of cooking the cranberries and walnuts in the butter. I just love new ways to cook ingredients, even though they don't seem as effective as they could be (which was the case here). Visually the muffins are gorgeous. I think I have the texture down, but I always struggle with the moist bottom problem. I think there has to be a balance between letting the muffins sit in the tin to cool a bit, and letting them sit so long they steam themselves a bit. I let them sit for 5 minutes this time; might cut it in my next recipe down to 2.

So, I damn these muffins with faint praise; they are good, but just not my style.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Cranberry Brown Bread (Muffins)

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 12 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups cranberries -- coarsely chopped
1/3 cup chopped walnuts -- minced
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a medium-sized loaf pan.

Melt butter in a medium-sized skillet. Add cinnamon, cranberries, and walnuts, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Sift together flours, powder, soda, and salt into a medium-large bowl.

Combine eggs, orange juice, vanilla, molasses, and brown sugar in a separate bowl and beat well. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients, along with the cranberries (be sure to scrape in all the butter). Stir until completely combined.

Spread into the prepared pan, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted all the way comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then rap the pan sharply to remove. Cool at least 30 minutes on a rack before slicing.

"The Enchanted Broccoli Forest"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 219 Calories; 11g Fat (42.5% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 28g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 56mg Cholesterol; 241mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Fruit; 2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

I baked the muffins for around 20 minutes, I think. I'll keep better notes next time.

Friday, September 15, 2006

It's funny, how some cookbooks surprise you

I fall in love with cookbooks so easily. They are so pretty, in so many different ways. The pictures are always nice, of course, but there are also other elements. The typing, how many recipes there are, how everything is laid out - they all add up to something special that says - "Yes, you have so many cookbooks that you'll never get through all of them in this lifetime - but look, I'm so special, you must take me home!". And I have no shame in admitting, I listen.

And then I take them home. They are still exceedingly pretty; I love to read them in bed at night (especially ones that tell stories about the recipes - how fun are they!). But when it comes to actually cooking from them...well, I'm actually pretty good about trying new things, so I think I will use at least one recipe from all of them. I hope.

I never had a true favorite cookbook. But now, I find myself going back to one over and over. And it surprises me to say which one it is - The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. This is a cookbook I first found out about several years ago. I first heard of it when my sister gave it to my brother for Christmas. I kept seeing it when I went cookbook shopping, but for some reason, I resisted buying it. Misplaced sibling issues? Goodness only knows. I only gave in and bought it after I had the recipe for marinated potato salad from it at a barbecue at my brother's. It's definitely a fun cookbook to page through - the illustrations around the pages are cute, and the pictures are definitely appetizing. It has good descriptive sections, such as on ingredients, as well as non-recipe recipes, for simple things like stuffed cucumbers. So, it fit my criteria of a good cookbook.

What brings it up to great is that I have found recipes in there that I fell in love with. My number one favorite recipe in the world is from there - Chilled Cherry-Plum Soup. I've made it three times in the past two months, and believe me, for me, that is amazing! And yes, I have not posted about it before (shame on me), but I will - probably on Tuesday, in time for ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday. This recipe has simple ingredients, but when they come together, it's like heaven.

Another recipe that I go back to is Cream of Tomato Soup. The cookbook gives three variations of Cream of Tomato soup; I don't know how the other two are, I never got to trying them because I love this variation so much! It's a funny recipe; I always feel like I am screwing up, but then it turns out so perfectly.

So, two recipes - and this makes a great cookbook? Well, yes, because of how truly great I consider these recipes. These are recipes that I can see myself happily making for the rest of my life. And that's something, in my mind.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Inspired again

So, summer is over. I'll definitely miss the warmth. Boy, did those temps change fast! But enough of that; discussions of weather can be very, very boring and repititious. What I am happy to say today is that I was inspired by cooking again.

I had been somewhat depressed this summer. A combination of great vacations and great food made me gain some weight. I am very obsessive about my weight (in a healthy way!), so I felt a lot of pressure on myself to eat light, which can be tough sometimes when you love to cook. I lived on some very light foods, and did not cook as much.

I still have to lose the weight, but I am back on the cooking wagon. Tonight was a recipe that made me happy to be a cook. Truly not an incredible, ohmigod, this is perfect recipe, but a recipe that had enough appeal in different ways to bring me back to cooking, and back to this blog.

The recipe is Coconut Curried Chicken, from Cooking Light. The result was a beautiful dish to view. The mushrooms, green peas, and onions cooked up very aromatically. The chicken came out beautifully - very tender. And happily, there was definitely enough sauce! The down side was that I wasn't sure that the flavor was there. It felt like it was just an echo in the dish. I was glad to have a curry that was not overheated, though; I had made a curry from another source that was so hot I couldn't eat it!

So, even though it was not a perfect recipe, it was enough to make me happy again in the kitchen. And happy to be back to myself.