Friday, June 28, 2013

Thai Coconut Soup

I've been wanting to make this soup as soon as I saw it on My New Roots. The first time I had it was when we were in Iceland in a great Thai restaurant. It blew my mind! Nick and I were amazed at the complexity of the subtle flavors. It was perfect served over rice.
We pulled out the cilantro plants at the farm today and I was able to take all the roots home. They have a great delicate taste. The roots:

I wasn't able to track down the keffir lime leaves, sadly. I left them in the recipe just in case someone out there can track them down. There's actually an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about how you can't buy them in Pittsburgh, even at Lotus. Therefore, I'm investing in a lime tree!!! I was, however, lucky enough to get some gorgeous spring shallots. If you can't find them, just use the shallots themselves.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Strawberry Pretzel Jello

I made pretzel jello this weekend for reasons that are too evil to mention on the blog... but this dish is something I've had at every holiday since I was born. However, this was the first time I made it myself. For a first time try, it looks decent and tastes really good, but I am looking forward to the day when I make an aunt/grandma-worthy pretzel jello. I am open to suggestions.

Due to an uneven cream cheese/whipped cream layer, the Jello was too thin in some parts.
In other news, Twilly met the love of his life last weekend. He can't stop talking about her.
Strawberry Pretzel Jello
Adapted from Family Circle (I think)

3 cups roughly chopped or blended pretzels (or finely crushed if that’s how you like it)
½ cup sugar
¾ cup butter, melted
1 8-oz package cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 8-oz container frozen whipped dessert topping, thawed
2 10-oz packages frozen strawberries, thawed
2 3-oz boxes of strawberry Jello
2 cups boiling water

Blueberry Cream Biscuits

My grandma had a garage sale this Saturday morning, so I made some biscuits for breakfast. The garage sale was not a huge success, but the biscuits were.

Twilly, inspecting our wares
Grandpa, perfecting his sales technique
Blueberry Cream Biscuits
From Better Homes & Gardens

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
¼ grated nutmeg
1 cup blueberries
1 ½ cups whipping/heavy cream
1 recipe Blueberry Sauce

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rhubarb Mini-Pies

My grandparents have a few rhubarb plants in their backyard, so I picked some when we went over for dinner the other night. My grandpa is a rhubarb aficionado, and he will definitely have to eat one of these mini-pies eventually because they are amazing. Nothing but rhubarb going on here.

I had my doubts when I was making this recipe – I was nervous that the rhubarb wouldn’t be sweet enough and there was a lot of dry mix in with the rhubarb. I ended up tossing/wasting a good half cup of dry mix (tapioca flour, sugar, etc), so I’m reducing it by at least half in this recipe. Even if I had made a normal, full-size pie, I wouldn’t have wanted all of that in there. It was extremely delicious without it, so might as well leave it out!

Rhubarb Mini-Galettes
Makes 6 mini-pies or 1 bigger one

Adapted from Real Simple

1 double pie crust recipe
1 lb rhubarb, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp instant tapioca (or tapioca flour)
½ tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated (I didn’t use any)
1 tbsp heavy cream

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mango Curry Chicken Salad

I love egg salad, potato salad and chicken salad. (And dips and pretty much anything you can spread on bread or crackers.) This mango curry chicken salad is a simpler version of the one Linda made a while ago for her Downton Abbey Extravaganza, the “coronation” chicken salad. 

That version was very tasty and we will be making it again someday, but today I just wanted to use fresh mango rather than make it into a chutney. I used a pretty green mango, which I like because I ate millions of them in Costa Rica, but Linda thinks most people would prefer this chicken salad with a riper mango. 

Mango Curry Chicken Salad

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
1 cup light mayo
1 heaping tsp (or more) curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp to 1 tbsp honey (esp. if the mango is on the green side)
a few drops to 1 tsp Sriracha (optional, for spiciness)
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1/4 cup thai basil
1/3 cup golden (or regular) raisins, soaked to restore moisture, drained & patted dry
1 mango, roughly diced
salt & pepper to taste

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mulberry Pie

Mulberries are in season and there's a tree right in our backyard! In fact, there are trees everywhere in Pittsburgh. They look like a little blackberry but are much softer and milder in taste. There are also golden mulberries around which are a superfood. For this recipe Nick, Laura, and Twilly had to scavenge around the block to look for enough berries. I owe this delicous pie to their hard work! The recipe is a compilation of a couple different ones including one from a cookbook my dad gave to me, The Encyclopedia of Baking. We served this for Father's Day dinner.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 sticks cold butter
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup ice water (or less)

3 cups mulberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup tapioca flour

Slice the butter into cubes. Then mix the dry ingredients in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like large, coarse crumbs. Then mix the egg yolk with the ice water. With a fork add the liquid mixture into the dry mixture bit by bit just until the dough starts to come together. The less water you use, the better your crust will be. Knead it together just to get it into a ball. Wrap in aluminum foil and let rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, pick the berries. Mix them together with the sugar and tapioca. Don't be afraid to smush the berries a little. Set aside.
Then roll out one half of the dough in some extra flour to one inch bigger than the bottom of your pie pan. Use the rolling pin to roll the dough up and roll it out into the pie pan. Be careful not to stretch the dough. Pour the filling into the crust and place in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the other half of the dough just a little bigger than the pie plate. Use fun cookie cutters to cut out patterns if desired. Place on top of the pie and pinch the edges of the dough together to seal the filling in.

If no cut outs were used, just cut some slits on top of the pie. Brush with some milk and place in the oven for about 30-45 minutes until lightly golden brown.
Serve with vanilla ice cream : )

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Asparagus and Mushroom Bread Pudding

In the book Animal, Vegatable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver lives a year of eating locally from food her family has grown and from local farmer's markets. The book was full of information about growing food and had some great recipes--bonus! I continually make this bread pudding at the start of every asparagus season. It's perfect for a Spring brunch and all the ingredients are available at the same time. My mom liked it so much, she ate about 3 helpings of it.

Bread Pudding

3 cups milk (full fat please!)
1 bunch spring green onions
1 loaf stale multigrain bread
1 bunch of asparagus (about 1 pound)
1 pound local mushrooms (I used crimini)
4 eggs
1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
3 tablespoons fresh oregano
3 cups grated Swiss/Gruyere cheese

Chop green onions including the root and the greens. Add onions to milk in sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Watch the milk carefully to make sure it doesn't boil over, as that can happen quickly. Then turn off the heat right away and set aside to steep.
Slice the bread into 1 inch pieces and place in a greased 9x13 inch baking pan.
Chop the asparagus into ½ inch pieces drop into boiling water for a couple seconds. Then remove with a strainer and run cold water over it so the asparagus stops cooking.
Cook the mushrooms until softened in some water. Keep their juices. Then mix the mushrooms, 2/3 of the cheese, and asparagus into the bread cubes

Break eggs into cooled milk mixture and beat until smooth. Then add the mushroom juices. Add the fresh herbs and plenty of salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and pour over the bread. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes (until puffy and golden). Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting and serving. Garnish with extra fresh herbs. Thyme is a good addition to this.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Rhubarb Coffee Cake

There are many recipes for rhubarb cakes out there. This one caught my eye since there is an abundance of rhubarb in the recipe, and it is vegan. It's from C'est la Vegan (such a cute name!!!).
The brunch spread:

I made this cake the night before a big brunch I had for the people that were coming to help the day before the wedding. There were so many people helping that I am immensely grateful for- My family, Brittany (even with her tonsils out), Laura, Kate, Michelle, Lacey, Chris, and Angela were just a few! It was a freezing cold day, which means that it was also a perfect day for a hearty brunch.

Rhubarb Coffee Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup vanilla almond milk milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup raw cane sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups fresh, diced rhubarb (about 7 stalks)


2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the vinegar with the almond milk in a liquid measuring cup and set aside (think of it as making buttermilk).  Add the flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and whisk to combine.  
In another mixing bowl, mix together the coconut oil and sugar. Then beat in the egg and vanilla. Pour in the curdled almond milk and whisk to combine.
Add the flour mixture gradually, and mix gently until just combined.  If you’re using an electric or stand mixer, fold the rhubarb in by hand.
Pour the batter into a greased and floured bundt pan.  Mix the sugar and cinnamon for the topping together and sprinkle evenly over the batter.  Bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick can be removed cleanly from the middle. Let cool completely (ideally overnight) before removing from bundt pan. I'll admit, I cracked the cake while unmolding it! Still tasted delicious though : )

This cake tastes great by itself but if you must, a dab of butter would be good too!

Herbed Polenta with Sun Dried Tomatoes

Hello! We're back! Just one picture from the wedding (walking to the getaway car) at request from Laura:

While we were in Iceland, I picked up some ingredients to make polenta. My favorite way to make it is to fry it and then dress it up with pesto or tomato sauce. Then I like to use the leftovers to eat as breakfast with a fried egg on top.

The view from the tallest building (a church) in Reykjavik:
Food in Iceland is pretty pricey since it is an island nation and a lot of things have to be imported. However, some vegetables are able to be grown in hothouses powered naturally with the geothermal energy that is abundant there.


2 cups polenta (corn grits)
6 cups water
1 tsp salt

Topping Ideas

Fresh or dried herbs (basil, parsley, oregano)
Red chili flakes
Fried eggs
Cheese (any kind)
Arugula pesto
Sun dried tomatoes or fresh ones

Boil water and salt in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Then gradually add the polenta while stirring well. Turn the heat down to medium-high and then stir for about 30 minutes until thickened. Pour the polenta into a greased small baking pan. Let sit for 5 minutes, then slice. Fry each piece in high heat canola oil on both sides until golden brown. I like to season the polenta with dried herbs while it's frying. Add the toppings and serve hot!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Salted Butter Break-ups

This is a nicely Frenchified and classy-looking version of a really easy Martha Stewart recipe for chocolate chip cookie break-up that I’ve been making since high school. This version comes from Dorie Greenspan, who suggests bringing the whole enormous cookie to the table for everybody to break off their own piece. This proves Dorie Greenspan is not only an amazing cookbook writer but also that she’s a much better host that I am because I like to save all the breaking fun for myself.

Since we’re still figuring out our kitchen storage situation, I couldn’t find any coarse salt even though we probably have some hidden away somewhere. It was still very tasty with table salt, but I’m sure it will be even better when I make it with coarser salt. 

Twilly is pretty busy these days finding his new sleep spots.
Linda, Brittany and I went to the East Liberty Farmer's Market this Monday and got some strawberries, which went soooo well with these buttery cookies. I would definitely recommend combining cookie and strawberry in the same bite. Also, I made some salad dressing with the Fresh Herb Cheese that I posted about a couple days ago by adding in some extra olive oil and vinegar, and that also goes very well with strawberries. 

"Salted Butter Break-ups"
Straight from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4-1 teaspoon sel gris or kosher salt
  • 9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 18 pieces
  • 3-5 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 egg yolk, for the glaze

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fresh Herb Cheese (+ Ligonier Farmer's Market!)

Between settling into a new kitchen, not having internet and never feeling like cooking when it's hot outside, I’ve been MIA from the Pittsburgh Kitchen for a while! This recipe for herby cheese is a very simple two-minute spread that tastes so nice and fresh. All you do is mix fresh herbs, garlic, onion and olive oil into ricotta. It’s from a recipe in one of my very favorite cookbooks by my very favorite cookbook author, Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.

You can serve the herb cheese with fresh veggies (she says it’s especially good with radishes!), crackers or bread. Ms. Greenspan recommends stuffing fresh cherry tomatoes with the herb cheese, which sounds amazing. I’ve roasted ricotta-stuffed grape tomatoes topped with Romano, and it was delicious.

Below the recipe I'm posting some pics from the Ligonier Farmer's Market, which is definitely worth a drive if you feel like a rural PA mini-roadtrip some Saturday! It's about an hour east of Pgh.

Also, side note: somebody (Brittany? one of the many Kates?) should post pictures of the wedding! I didn't take any.

ANDDD check out Julia's guest post on A Nerd Cooks: Granny Smith Apple Cake with Browned Butter Frosting

“Lyonnaise Garlic and Herb Cheese (aka Boursin’s mama)”
Adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

2 cups fromage blanc or ricotta (I used ricotta)
½ shallot, minced, rinsed and patted dry (I used a quarter of a white onion)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
About 2 tbsp snipped fresh chives
About 1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
About 1 tsp minced fresh tarragon
(I used parsley, thyme and rosemary from our herb garden!)
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


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