Saturday, January 31, 2015

(Berry) Cobbler

For years my family has been using this cobbler recipe which is pretty fabulous. Typically our crowd drinks tea after dinner so a good cake-y thing is a nice accompaniment. That's a word, you know..."cake-y thing." This one is super easy to make, really moist, and absolutely divine even if you use frozen fruit instead of ripe. I happened to have a bag of some frozen berry mix so I used that, but you can sub out anything you like. You could even use apples, but I think it's best with some sort of berry or stone fruit (think, peach or plum, or...both!). But my absolute favorite variation is strawberry rhubarb. So that's why my recipe and the pictures don't coincide.


2 cups sliced rhubarb (1/2-inch thickness)
1 pint strawberries, cleaned, hulled, and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Over medium high heat start cooking the fruits with the lemon juice. Mix together the cornstarch and sugar until all the lumps are worked out of the starch. If you don't do this, there will be icky specks of white all throughout your fruit and they neither taste nor look appetizing. Bring this to a simmer, stirring often. The fruit will start to break down and thicken up. Once you see this, turn off the heat and set aside to cool.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Cut the butter into the flour until it's the consistency of a crumble
Add all the other dry ingredients (baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar)
Add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla

Grease and flour a 9x9 inch pan if you want a thicken cake, otherwise a 9x13 will work. I did not flour the pan below. So I shall reiterate: grease and flour your pan. Add about 2/3 of the cobbler mix to the bottom of the pan, then all the fruit mixture. Dot the remaining cobbler over the surface of the fruit. This doesn't have to completely cover the fruit - it's actually really pretty to have the fruit peeking out from underneath. I don't have a picture of this...probably because I was licking the spoon with remaining fruit mix at the kitchen, my rules. Bake about 35 minutes for a 9x13 and 45 for a 9x9. The top will be slightly brown and the cake should be cooked through when tested with a toothpick.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Coconut Chili Fish Stew

Want to know a secret? I don’t think I’ve ever actually tasted fish curry. But somehow I’ve been craving it. I’ve been craving seafood in general, actually. I think fish is a simple way to get variety and nutrients into your diet. Kind of like roasted vegetables: spice both up with lemon and fresh herbs and you have an easy, delicious meal.

I made this curry the other night and found it to be quite tasty. Keep in mind that when you use ingredients that are heavier bodied (béchamel, coconut milk), the dish can withstand a little more spice so you might need to add more than the amounts I’ve listed in order to make sure the broth is super flavorful.

Mahi Mahi pieces (I used these from Trader Joe’s)
1 can coconut milk
1 lemon
1 lime
6-7 basil leaves
ginger powder, garam masala powder, chili powder, red pepper flakes (1/2 tsp each)
5 cloves garlic
4 carrots, julienned
½ cup bamboo shoots
*If I’d had them, I would have added 3 curry leaves and a couple kefir lime leaves as well

Marinate the fish in lemon juice for 30 minutes
Fry the garlic then add the carrots and bamboo shoots
Mix in your spices: ginger powder, garam masala powder, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and curry and lime leaves (if using).
Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a boil
Nestle the fish into the sauce, making sure the pieces are totally covered
Season with pepper and salt and add the chopped basil leaves.
Cook 15 min, covered.

Serve over rice or as-is, like a stew but make sure to sprinkle with a few fresh basil leaves and a squirt of fresh lime juice.

Friday, January 16, 2015

*Sigh: Shrimp Scampi with Heirloom Tomatoes

You know that sigh? The special one reserved for the moment you re-enter your home at the end of a long, and I do mean long, Friday afternoon.  Here I sit, wine in hand, Modern Family on the television, having just devoured a giant plate of pasta and feeling, for a moment at least, like my life is on hold. And I don't have to worry about Boards, or moving to a totally different state, or the many giant events I just transcribed onto my wall calendar. It's a good feeling. Should I be concerned that food makes me this content? 

This meal took about 10 minutes to make, no kidding. The most time-consuming part is waiting for the water to boil. So do that, super-salty water, bring it to boil, drop in your pasta. I like using plain 'ole spaghetti. Not the angel hair, the regular. And Barilla only, please. I really have found it to be the freshest-tasting.

Since I was cooking for one, I defrosted about 6-7 shrimp and cut 4 mini heirloom tomatoes. I have made it a personal goal to always have lemons in my kitchen. This is a relatively new goal circa umm...this afternoon. But I can literally always find a use for them and they do add a little pizazz to a million different dishes. I also chopped up 2 cloves of garlic but those were already sizzling away in butter by the time I took this picture. 

In a saucepan, melt 1/2 Tb olive oil and 1/2 Tb butter. Start frying up your garlic and then add the shrimp. You want them to just barely get pink, so arrange them in one layer, season with salt/pepper/and a few red pepper flakes. Turn over and let them finish cooking, then deglaze with a swirl of white wine. Drain the pasta and add to the pan. Squeeze in some lemon and a grating of 
fresh Parm. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Sometimes when I daydream, I imagine my life in 10 years, or the feeling of my earning my first paycheck, or crazy scenarios involving a guy who's going to whisk me away on a noble steed...whoops...reel it in, girlfriend. But 80% of the time, I'm imagining some new recipe I can experiment with.

I hadn't made macaroni and cheese in ages, it seemed. Which is pretty close to the truth..2 years is a long time to not have made macaroni and cheese considering how simple it is to throw together. I've never made a Gruyere Mac simply because it's too damn pricey for my grad student budget. But upon a recent peruse at my boy, TJ's, I noticed a Gruyere Cheddar. I bought a small block and took it home to sample the flavor and melting qualities: a-mazing! Definitely worth the trip back for a bigger block, some cremini mushrooms, an onion, and a dream. When you're making a béchamel always remember to pick up a melty kind of benign cheese. Since I wanted to keep my sauce a creamy white, I opted for Monterey Jack instead of an extra sharp cheddar, which sometimes adds a funky aftertaste when paired with super powerful cheeses and tends to melt gritty.

So here it is guys and dolls...

Cheddar-Gruyere, Caramelized Onion, Cremini Mushroom, what-the-hell how about some Bacon, Mac and Cheese

For the béchamel (aka cheese sauce)

1/2 stick butter
3 Tbs flour
2 1/2 - 3 cups milk (I used 2%)
3 cups of cheese (Cheddar Gruyere and Monterey Jack)
salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg (sprinkle of each)
1/2 tsp ground mustard

Over medium heat, melt the butter, sprinkle in the flour, and cook the two together for a couple minutes to get the raw out of the flour. Add the milk and stir, stir, stir. The mixture will seem super runny at first but it thickens up quite quickly. Drizzle in more milk if you find it's too tight. Turn the heat off and dump in the cheese - whisk until melted and creamy.

For the mix-ins

1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
1 1/2 cups onion, thinly sliced
2 slices thick-cut bacon
1 Tb butter
splash of white wine, cooking sherry, or marsala

Couldn't be easier: Heat a couple Tbs of olive oil and start the onion on medium-low - let this get nice and brown and caramel-y. Add your mushrooms and sauté until cooked through, then the butter and wine. Stir until the liquid is cooked out and set aside to fry up your bacon. To be honest, you could cook the bacon and then all the onions/mushrooms in the bacon grease. Did I seriously just suggest you do that? Geez, good thing I'm not dating a cardiologist-to-be or anything...he'd never let me cook for him again.

For mac and cheese I like tiny, ridge-y pasta - I wanted to go Classic Mac so I opted for elbows. A little trick I do is drain the pasta and let it sit, pour a couple ladles of the cheese sauce into the same pot and let that heat up, and start adding the pasta a little at a time. Add more cheese sauce or pasta until you have a consistency you like. I added half the mix-ins and served with the other half on top, but if I were to do it again I wouldn't mix anything in - I would have liked to keep that creamy texture and I think the flavors of the toppings would pack more of a punch if they were kept separately.

**FYI: this makes a LOT of cheese sauce - just spoon the extra into a plastic Tupperware and freeze until you want to be naughty again. That's called planning ahead, man.