Breadwinner

……………………………………………………. Baking our mark

Cool Avocado Soup July 31, 2012

I rarely pull recipes off restaurant websites – I always feel like they’re going to leave off a key ingredient in order to inspire me to come back to their spot instead of making a dish myself. But, when I got this recommendation, it sounded too good to pass up.

Before I made this, I’d never eaten a cold soup. Now, I basically want to live off cold soup all summer long. This was incredibly refreshing, all while being incredibly creamy and decadent.

Plus, we finally got to use the antique cold soup china tureen that’s been in the basement for a year. Classy business, this soup.

Plus it’s green. Which is awesome.

Cool Avocado Soup from Panera

2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1/2 English cucumber, partially peeled, then chopped (I used a little cucumber from my garden!)
4 scallions, green parts only
2 cups vegetable broth
Juice of one lime
1/3 cup packed cilantro (leaves and stems)
1/2 – 1 jalapeño pepper, depending on your taste preference, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 – 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4+ tsp. cumin
1/4+ tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt

Throw everything in the blender and puree for 2-3 minutes. Let it sit for a few hours, then blend again for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with additional cilantro as desired.

 

Summer Fruit Crumble Bars July 21, 2012

It’s not 100 degrees any more. Which means I want to make something that isn’t an enormous green salad.

And I might have bought blueberries because they were on sale and I was making smoothies anyways. And then I might have gotten home and realized that I had SIX PINTS OF BLUEBERRIES but only two people to feed.

So, I made an incredible, simple dessert.

 

 

Fresh Fruit Crumble Bars (adapted from a few places)

1 cup white sugar
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick cold butter
1/2 cup Crisco
1 egg
Zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp. cornstarch
4 cups fresh fruit (I did mostly blueberries, with some sliced strawberries and peaches in as well)

Stir together first three ingredients, then stir in the salt and lemon zest. Then blend in the egg, butter and Crisco using a fork or pastry cutter to create a crumbly dough. Take half of this mixture, and pat it down into a greased 9×12 baking dish to form a crust.

In a separate bowl, blend lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar sugar and cornstarch. Add the fruit and gently toss to coat. Spread the fruit evenly over the crust, then crumble the remaining crust mixture over the fruit. Make sure this “crumble” portion is spread out evenly.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about an hour, or until top begins to brown. Before cutting into squares and serving, let this cool completely so the juices from the baked fruit stay in the crumble instead of escaping.

If you want to warm it up and serve it with some vanilla ice cream for dessert (or just toast it for breakfast), go right ahead.

 

Summer Dinner Party July 5, 2012

Filed under: Dinner — krandle @ 8:45 pm
Tags: , , , ,

To me, a dinner party is basically any dinner I cook for extra people and that takes more time than usual. (For example, if you showed up at my house and I fed you a stir fry that I was reheating, that isn’t a dinner party. But, if you showed up and it took more than an hour to cook, that’s a dinner party.)

I’ve run through this menu twice in dinner party-like scenarios now, and I’m convinced it’s a keeper. It’s not very often I find a chicken recipe that people rave about – and this one earned rave reviews even from people who don’t care too much about food!

Other great parts of this menu include:

  • The vegetable side can be varied based on the vegetables you have on hand; the general cooking principles and dressing transfer even to what I had in my garden (zucchini, green beans and radishes)
  • If prep is done properly, this meal takes only about an hour to assemble. (This was easier the second time around.)
  • Because of the way this is put together, it’s really easy to have everything come out hot at the same time. (This is a huge boon to me, since I struggle with end timing.)

So, I give you this summer’s dinner party menu:

Goat cheese-wrapped grapes (as an appetizer)

Pecan-crusted chicken with fresh raspberry sauce

Asparagus, pea and radish salad

Mustard-roasted potatoes

Basil French 75

Simple dessert (a skillet cookie and a fresh fruit crumble both worked nicely)

 

Tips on preparation:

  • Do the sauces/dips earlier that day or the day before, but add the citrus juices and fresh herbs right before you cook. This works for the dressing for the vegetables, mustard stuff for the potatoes, raspberry sauce for the chicken, mustard dip for the chicken and breadcrumb/nut mixture for the chicken. For one dinner I made with this menu, I made the sauces/etc. ahead of time, then packed everything up and made dinner in an unfamiliar kitchen in another state; it worked remarkably well, and everything transported quite nicely.
  • The grape appetizer can be made a few hours ahead of time, but it’s not great to leave the grapes overnight. The nuts get soggy if they sit for too long near the cheese.
  • When it’s time to cook, prep the veggies first. While you’ll cook them last, they can be chopped and readied first. (You can do the asparagus a few hours ahead of time as well; blanch it beforehand to save time later.)
  • The potatoes need to start cooking first. And, although the chicken should ideally be roasted at a lower oven temperature, roasting them at the higher temp after browning them is totally fine. The chicken does not dry out or burn, and you ensure that you can have everything come out on time when the potatoes and chicken are in the oven at the same time.
  • Get someone else to help make the drinks; basil french 75s are easy, so someone else can take that off your plate.

 

Mustard-Roasted Potatoes July 1, 2012

Filed under: Side dish,Vegetarian — krandle @ 8:36 am
Tags: , , , ,

Sometimes, I can look at a recipe and know immediately that I will love it and that it will turn out delicious. One of the only other places I get this sense of recognition, oddly, is on my daily walks to and from work. Sometimes, I see another girl, tromping along in her tennis shoes and business casual attire, hair a mess, carrying a giant bag – and I can just tell we could have a good conversation. Even if we just talked about walking and the homeless people we see and how we think we’re in every tourist’s photo of the Swann Memorial Fountain, I can just tell that it would be nice.

But here’s where the vague similarity between recipe research and  my identification with strangers ends. I have never once walked up to one of these fellow walkers to chat, and I can’t say that I have a strong desire to; I’m content to leave them alone in their own universes.

The recipes, however, I keep.

Mustard-Roasted Potatoes (from B.A.)

1/2 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. (1/4 stick) butter, melted
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs. dried oregano
1 tsp finely grated lemon peel
1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
3 pounds 1- to 1 1/2-inch-diameter mixed unpeeled red-skinned and white-skinned potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch-wide wedges

Position 1 rack in top third of oven and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 425°F.

Spray 2 large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray.

Whisk mustard, olive oil, butter, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, lemon peel and salt in large bowl to blend. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until you’re ready to roast the potatoes.

Add potatoes to the large bowl and stir to coat. Sprinkle generously with freshly ground black pepper.

Divide potatoes between two lightly greased baking sheets, leaving any excess mustard mixture behind in bowl. Spread potatoes in single layer. Roast potatoes 20 minutes. Reverse baking sheets and roast until potatoes are crusty outside and tender inside, turning occasionally, about 25 minutes longer.

 

Asparagus, pea and radish salad June 27, 2012

For the first time ever, I’m growing radishes in my yard. They’re terribly exciting because the red starts to show through the soil very early – and the greens grow to be enormous rather quickly.

As a result, I’m been looking for radish recipes – and something along these lines seems to be quite the thing this summer. It’s quick, easy and really delicious.

Note that it’s important to eat this right when it’s done. While it’s still edible, refrigeration does nothing good to the dish.

Asparagus, Pea and Radish Salad- adapted from a bunch of sources; everyone seems to like some combination of radishes and peas as a summer salad

2 tsp. cumin
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. honey
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbs. chopped fresh dill

1.5 lbs. asparagus, tough ends discarded
5 oz. frozen peas, thawed
8 or so radishes, greens discarded, thinly sliced
1 Tbs. butter

In a small bowl, whisk together cumin, lime juice and honey. Slowly add oil, then stir in dill. Set dressing aside (or refrigerate if you’re making ahead of time).

Steam asparagus until crisp-tender (less than you normally would), then immediately transfer to an ice bath. Let it cool completely, then pat dry. At this point, you can refrigerate the asparagus for up to a day.

In a large pot, heat butter over medium. Add asparagus and heat until it begins to get warm. Then add peas and cook until vegetables are warm, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl, and stir in radishes.

Pour dressing over and stir to coat. Serve immediately.

 

Recipe Flash: Frozen Banana Bites June 21, 2012

It’s day number two of nearly 100 degree weather in Philly.  I think this is the worst thing in the world.

Even the flowers don’t like it.

And, with the clarity of a corporate blackberry camera and the photojournalism skills of a writer, I give you a heat tour of my walk from work to home in Philly.

Everyone’s using the fountain as a pool

But no one’s in the park, which is usually overflowing with small children

Which means that no one wants to cook. Or eat anything other than ice for that matter.

The home-made solution to this predicament?

Frozen banana bites

Frozen Banana Bites (idea stolen from BA)

Basically, melt some chocolate with a little bit of oil. (Ratio:  1 cup chocolate to 1 Tbs. vegetable oil)

Dunk in a slice of banana and coat it. Fish it out with a fork and let some of the excess fall off.

Then, roll it around in something that goes well with chocolate and banana (i.e., coconut, oreos, peanuts, skor bits, etc. ).

Put the completed slices onto some parchment paper, then pop them in the freezer for a few hours. (Put them in a sealed container after you’ve frozen them if you intend to store them in the freezer for any length of time.)

…you’ll need more than two…

They taste like summer, but are lovely and cold. Can’t think of anything better for dinner tonight.

 

Pecan-crusted chicken with fresh raspberry sauce June 19, 2012

Filed under: Dinner — krandle @ 6:02 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Sometimes, it’s hard for me to want to take the time to make chicken taste good. It’s so easy to just toss it in the oven with a spice rub or throw it in the crockpot with some sauces or vegetables – and then have everything taste good – that I’m sometimes not very motivated to put any time into poultry.

This recipe, however, is worth the effort. I think it’s perfect dinner party food – and the sauce adds a color that you probably wouldn’t otherwise have on your plate (FUSCHIA!), unless you were serving beets.

It’s really moist, while also staying a little bit crunchy. It tastes fresh so is great for spring/summer. And, it doesn’t take very long or require too much attention, making it easy to serve while people are over. I’m already planning to serve this at my next dinner event.

Pecan-crusted chicken with fresh raspberry sauce – modified from B.A.

Raspberry Sauce
- Note: this makes about twice as much sauce as you need for this amount of chicken; it makes a great salad dressing, though, so don’t worry about cutting it in half

3/4 cup lightly packed fresh raspberries (about 3 1/2 ounces)
3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 Tbs. sugar
1/2 cup safflower oil (works fine with vegetable oil too)
3 to 6 tsp. water (optional)

Chicken

1 cup chopped pecans (about 4 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) or plain dried breadcrumbs
1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
3 tsp. ground black pepper, divided
1/3 cup honey mustard
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 Tbs. mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 large skinless boneless chicken breast halves, butterflied
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 Tbs. peanut oil
4 cups baby salad greens (baby spinach is great here)
1/2 cup fresh raspberries

For Raspberry Sauce

Puree raspberries, white wine vinegar, and sugar in blender until smooth. With blender running, gradually add safflower oil. Add water by teaspoonfuls as needed to thin to desired consistency. Season raspberry sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

For Chicken

Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix pecans, panko and 2 teaspoons pepper on a plate with a lip, or in a shallow dish.

In a bowl, mix honey mustard, mint leaves, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken; coat and let excess drip off. Place chicken into crumb-nut mixture, coating both sides and pressing to adhere. To make things easy, don’t coat until you’re ready to put chicken directly into the skillets. And, when you have extra crumb-nut mixture left, put it into the skillet alongside the chicken, roasting it as well, then serving alongside the chicken for extra crunch.

Divide equal amounts of butter and oil between 2 large nonstick skillets; heat over medium-high heat. Add 2 chicken pieces to each skillet; reduce heat to medium and cook until chicken is light brown, about 4 minutes per side. Place chicken on rimmed baking sheet; transfer to oven. Roast chicken until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Plate using salad greens first, then topping top with chicken. Drizzle sauce on top, and garnish with fresh raspberries.

 

 
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