Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cardinals Baseball Cookies

Hello readers! Sorry about not keeping up with posts. I am in the middle of taking exams for my M.A. I'll try to  post when I can, but I haven't been cooking anything new lately. Too busy writing to test out new recipes. Sorry! But since it is baseball season and my boyfriend is the biggest Cardinals fan in the world I will leave you with some Cardinals Baseball inspired cookies I made a little while back. They are made with royal icing then drawn on with edible markers. I hope you enjoy and wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia with Mustard Greens

My garden is just beginning to produce lots of lovely veggies. This is my first garden and I'm really happy with how things are going. We built a raised bed in the early Spring and I began transplanting some seedling I had started indoors, planting new seeds, as well as transplanting some seedlings that I purchased. Some plants have been eaten by the various creatures roaming through the yard, others never even grew, yet many others are thriving. The zucchini plant is practically taking over. 

The first thing to emerge from the garden and be ready to eat were my mustard greens. I love greens. They are slightly bitter, but when you cook them with spicy crushed red pepper and a hint of lemon juice they transform their flavor. This is my favorite method for cooking any green. So I decided to cook some of the leaves up and with what other better way than to cook them Southern style? I decided to bake them instead of frying them. I know, I would usually fry them, but the night before we had fried fish so I was trying to be good. So instead I coated them in the same way and tossed them in the oven instead. They came out great. 

Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia
2 Tilapia filets
1 egg beaten
1/2 cup cornmeal, or enough to coat the fish
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
Cayenne, to taste, I like a lot 
Canola oil to brush the pan

Spicy Sauteed Greens
A large bunch of greens (they cook down)
Olive oil for the pan
Salt and pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
A squeeze of lemon juice

1) Preheat the oven to 500 and line a pan with foil and brush with oil
2) Coat the fish in the egg then toss into the mixture of cornmeal, bread crumb, and spices and coat

3) Place fish in oven and let cook for 5 minutes, then turn over and cook for another 5 minutes or until done
4) While fish is in the oven heat a saute pan with olive oil and trim and cut the greens then cook them with the spices until wilted, then squeeze fresh lemon juice to taste

5) Serve the fish and greens with rice and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spicy Pickled Carrots

I love the little things in life. Those small touches that just make everything better. One of those things for me happens to be spicy pickled carrots. I know, it sounds a little strange. But these delightfully tangy and surprisingly spicy slices of carrots are one thing that I really miss from California. I used to eat them with carnitas tacos or as a yummy snack. But living in Tennessee has made them hard to find. I used to buy a can of them from the store, but I find those tiny cans to be insufficient for my snaking needs. Plus, homemade is always better.

So I began on a search for a simple and quick way to make them at home so I could always have a large jar in the fridge. I was happy to come across a recipe on Homesick Texan for Ninfa's Spicy Pickled Carrots. I read the ingredients and thought that it looked like it would make similar carrots to those that I used to love. So I bought a huge bag of carrots and got to work. I was shocked at how easy these were to make and how delicious they turned out. I've almost made my way through a big batch and need to head to the store before I can make some more. These are truly delicious!

Ninfa's Spicy Pickled Carrots

1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white vinegar
1 ounce chiles de arbol, stems removed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 pound carrots, cut into thin rounds
1/4 cup slivered onions
1 garlic clove
1 jalapeƱo, seeds and stem removed, sliced

1) Add the water, oil, vinegar, and chiles de arbol to a pot and boil for 5 minutes, uncovered

2) Add the cumin, oregano, pepper, and salt and cook for another 5 minutes

3) Then add in the remaining ingredients and cook for 10 minutes, or until the carrots are tender to your liking

4) Let cool slightly and pour into jars and refrigerate for up to 1 month (if they last that long)

5) Spoon out the carrots, onions, and jalapeƱos and serve with tacos or as a snack and enjoy!

Monday, May 7, 2012

100th Post- Pear and St. Germain Sorbet

I started writing this blog just about a year ago and now I've made it to my 100th post. When I started writing these entries I wasn't really sure which direction I would go, whether people would even be reading, or how it would have really inspired me to try and cook new and exciting recipes. My skills as a baker have improved dramatically and I've even learned some cookie and cake decorating techniques that I never thought I would ever know how to do. I have learned, and am still learning, about food photography and food writing. Everyday is a great learning experience and this blog has really helped me to challenge myself in the kitchen. Thanks to everyone who reads this. It really means a lot me.

In other news, I made my first batch of sorbet the other day. We had some pears in the kitchen that needed to be eaten and then I remembered seeing a recipe for pear sorbet in Jenis Splendid Ice Creams, my favorite ice cream book. You can see my previous post on Rocky Road Ice Cream.

The recipe in the cookbook calls for the pears to be poached in Riesling. Sorry to all those sweet wine lovers out there, but I cannot stand the taste of Riesling, far too sweet for my tastes. Since I never have a bottle of it laying around the house I went with Chardonnay instead and decided to throw in some St. Germain at the end to give it the sweetness and flowery essence. For those who don't know, St. Germain is an elderflower liqueur. I am absolutely in love with the stuff. It's expensive, but a little goes a long way. It really adds a nice subtle background flavor to the sorbet, which came out light and refreshing, yet still really deep in flavor. Definitely a must try.

Pear and St, Germain Sorbet
Adapted from  Jenis Splendid Ice Creams

5-6 medium pears, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Chardonnay
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup organic light corn syrup
1 tbsp St. Germain

1) Combine all of the ingredients except for the St. Germain in a sauce pan and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until the pears are soft (it really depends on their ripeness)
2) Let cool slightly then puree in a food processor until very smooth and add St. Germain and puree to combine
3) Pour into a gallon size zip bag and submerge the bag into an ice bath and let cool
4) Once the puree is cold add to the ice cream machine and turn on until the sorbet is thick and cold (it takes around 15 minutes)
5) Pour into a container and line the top with wax paper and place in freezer to harden for at least 4 hours
6) Remove from freezer and scoop into bowls and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Neon Ruffle Cake

Once again I must apologize for the absence. The end of the semester is always the busiest time for me. But with the end of the semester comes our department picnic which also falls on the birthday of a good friend of mine. So in her honor I decided to attempt my first tiered cake! So it was only two tiers, but hey, it didn't fall over or slide off the cake stand. Plus it tasted amazing and looked great. Everyone really loved the cake, especially the birthday girl.

This cake was really fun to make. I went to the cake decorating supply store to find neon gel food coloring. Those colors really fit the personality of my friend. Super bright and cheery! I decided to use Ateco tip #41 which creates this ruffle-like appearance. I used a Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe and an amazing chocolate cake recipe from Ina Garten. This cake is the best! I topped it off with some gum paste roses and carnations that I learned in my cake decorating class. I hope you enjoy the photos!