Friday, May 28, 2010

Ice Cream Fridays: Super Lemon Ice Cream

Last week I introduced Ice Cream Fridays which kicked off with an incredible Oatmeal Raisin Ice Cream. Every Friday during the next few months (or until I get tired of it) you can look forward to a new ice cream recipe which will hopefully inspire you to break out your old dust covered ice cream maker that is hiding somewhere in a closet (yes, I'm talking about you). Since I'm always looking for inspiration and ideas, feel free to leave me a comment here on my blog or on my facebook page, and let me know what ice cream flavor you would like to see. Who knows, you might just get lucky and it will be featured the following week.

This week I went with Super Lemon Ice Cream. I'm pretty sure if you have been reading my blog for a while you are aware of my "slight" obsession with anything citrus. I asked about favorite ice cream flavors on my facebook page a couple of weeks back and Lemon was one that someone answered with. I didn't need any convincing to make my own.

I'm extremely picky when it comes to lemon ice cream. Growing up in Germany we had many Gelato places in Wuerzburg where I grew up. Lemon was one of my preferred scoops I would get. At that time, currency was still the Deutsche Mark and one little scoop would set you back 50 Pfennig. A bargain by today's standards.
Lemon Ice cream has to taste like, yes you guessed it, lemon. I'm talking in your face tart with just the right amount of sweetness. It also has to taste real, like a freshly squeezed lemon, not some artificial flavoring you can buy in the super market.

Looking for the perfect recipe, I searched online and through a few ice cream books, but in the end I went back to David Lebovitz's Perfect Scoop. I swear the man is a genius. This ice cream had everything I was looking for along with a short ingredient list and an even shorter preparation time; the perfect combination!

If you are a fan of the puckered lips club try this ice cream, it won't leave you disappointed!

Super Lemon Ice Cream

2 lemons, preferable organic
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
2 cups (500 ml) half-and-half
Pinch of salt

Zest the lemons directly into a food processor or blender. Add the sugar and blend until the lemon zest is very fine. Add the lemon juice and blend until the sugar is completely dissolved. Blend in the half-and-half and salt until smooth.
Chill for 1 hour, then freeze the mixture in tour ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Adapted from: The Perfect Scoop

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mango Salsa

Inspired by a recent shopping trip where I found beautiful ripe mangoes, fresh vine tomatoes, and English cucumbers on sale along with some great looking fresh Tilapia fillets, I set out to create a summer dinner fit for any hot day.

I love fresh grilled fish combined with salsa of any kind, but this time I was going a different way. I wanted a sweet, savory, spicy combination and the flavor of the mild Tilapia was the perfect canvas to showcase what I came up with. 

I started by chopping and dicing all of my vegetables and mango, and then just kept adding what sounded and looked good. The result; an incredibly tasty Mango Salsa that could also be served alongside chicken, pork, other fish, or just plain with tortilla chips.

The whole family agreed that this dish needs to make many more repeat appearance throughout the summer months, with fruits and vegetables that are in season. If you like this kind of combination, I hope you will give this dish a try, it is low-fat, and good for you, but you would never guess that based on flavor alone!

Mango Salsa

1 ripe mango, diced
1 English cucumber, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a bowl add mango, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno and cilantro. 

In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper.

Add to the vegetable mixture. Toss to coat evenly. Taste for additional seasonings and serve.

A Susi's Kochen und Backen Original Recipe

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes

My oldest turned 17 last week and celebrated her birthday with her family and friends this past weekend. It was up to me to provide the menu. We had the standard fare of hamburgers and hot dogs, along with a few salads, fresh vegetables and a HUGE bowl of fruit salad that was pretty much gone before anything else (don't you just love it when teenagers prefer the good, healthy stuff over junk food)?

For dessert my daughter decided to go a little different route and forgo the typical birthday cake in favor of cupcakes. She was looking through a few of my books and decided to go with Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes which can be found in the book: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes.

I've made quite a few recipes out of this book so far and every single one has turned out great. This one was no exception either. In fact, the recipe is so easy that even a baking novice could make this one. The "crust" is an Oreo cookie, that gets dropped in the bottom of a cupcake paper liner. A simple cheesecake mixture with additional chopped Oreos gets poured on top and then baked. You do have to thoroughly chill the cupcakes after baking them in the muffin tins before removing the cakes but all in all, it is a quick recipe.

This dessert was incredibly well received by all the teenagers and adults alike. I've had several of them already ask me for the recipe, which in my eyes is always a sign it was tasty! Give this one a try for your next party, I'm sure it will be a hit as well.

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes
~makes about 30~

42 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, such as Oreos, 30 left whole and 12 coarsely chopped
2 pounds (4 packs) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.

Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand.

Divide batter evenly  among cookie-filled cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until filling is set, about 22 minutes. Transfer tins to wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate (in tins) at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). Remove from tins just before serving.

Adapted from: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tender Shortcakes with Chambord Raspberries

For this weeks BWD: Baking with Dorie Challenge, it was my turn again and I chose Tender Shortcakes on Page 423 and 424 in Dorie Greenspan's book

Choosing a recipe from this amazing cook book is a much harder task than one might think. For one, it has a lot of recipes and for two, every single one of them looks and sounds like it would be amazing. So in order to come up with some kind of selection process, I try to at least go with something seasonal, which eliminates about half of the recipes. This is how I decided on the shortcakes. I figured everyone in our blogroll would be able to find some kind of fresh fruit that would complete these little biscuits.

The dough is quickly made in one bowl without dirtying a lot of dishes. You have to be careful not to overwork the shortcakes, but again Dorie's instructions are always wonderful and easy to follow. Baking time is a short 15 - 18 minutes, and after briefly cooling the shortcakes you are ready to use the filling. I wasn't sure which route I was going to go since all the berries in the store looked delicious, but ultimately decided to make the recipe a little different from the traditional strawberry and used raspberries instead. To further enhance the raspberry flavor, I macerated them not only in sugar, but also in a tablespoon of Chambord which really heightened their flavor. Since the berries turned out quite sweet, I didn't think the cream needed further sugar, so I just whipped it to soft peaks and left it "au naturale".

The recipe makes about 10 shortcakes, but I went ahead and halved it with fantastic results. My alterations netted me 6 shortcakes which was perfect for my family.

These were probably the best shortcakes I have ever had and everyone in my house was in agreement. The cake part was unbelievably tender and tasty, with the raspberries and cream being a wonderful accompaniment. Dorie Greenspan definitely hit a home run with this recipe and it will go into my permanent recipe file and will be the only shortcake recipe I will use from now on.

Please go and check out the other Baking With Dorie participants blogs (which you can find on the bottom of the BWD page) and find out what they decided to do with this weeks recipe.

For our next BWD in two weeks (the 7th of June) it is Grapefruits turn with Lemon Cup Custard on Page 387.
If any of this has peeked your interest and you want to join the fun with us next time, then shoot me or Grapefruit an email and we'd be more than happy to have you.

Tender Shortcakes
~makes about 10 Shortcakes~

For the Biscuits:
4 cups  all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

For the Filling:
Berries (about 1/2 cup per shortcake), hulled and slice if using strawberries (I used raspberries)
Chambord (optional)
Lightly sweetened softly whipped cream

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

To make the biscuits: Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in a large bowl. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips (my favorite method) or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You'll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces in between - and that's just right.

Pour the cream over the dry ingredients and toss and gently turn the ingredients with a fork until you've got a very soft dough. When the dough comes together, you'll probably still have dry ingredients at the bottom of the bowl - just use a spatula or your hands to mix and knead the dough until it's evenly blended. Don't overdo it; it's better to have a few dry spots than an overworked dough. Even with all the flour mixed in, the dough will be soft and sticky.

Spoon out about 1/3 cup of dough for each shortcake onto the baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches of space between the mounts of dough. Pat each mound down until is is between 3/4 and 1 inch high. (The shortcakes can be made to this point and frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight and kept in the freezer for up to 2 months. Bake with out defrosting - just add at least 5 more minutes to the oven time.)

If you have more dough, repeat, cooling the baking sheet first.
Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, rotating the sheet from front to back at the midway point, until the shortcakes are puffed and give just a bit when prodded. Pull the sheet from the oven and transfer the shortcakes to a cooling rack.

To make the filling: Put the berries in a bowl, sprinkle with sugar to taste and add Chambord if desired. Let them sit for about 10 minutes , until they are juicy.
The cakes are tender and really pretty fragile, so go easy with them. Use a serrated knife and not much pressure to cut each cake in half horizontally. (Alternatively, you can use the tines of a fork to prick a ring around the middle of the shortcake, then use your fingers to gently pry the halves apart.) Put the bottom halves on plates, top with the berries - make sure to include some of the sweet juices - and spoon over some whipped cream. Put the tops on the shortcakes or lean them against the cream, my preference. If you decide to go for the open-faced shortcakes, you'll get two textures - moist and moister.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ice Cream Fridays: Oatmeal-Raisin Ice Cream

Today I'm introducing you to Ice Cream Fridays. Every Friday during the next few months (or until I get tired of it) you can look forward to a new ice cream recipe which will hopefully inspire you to break out your old dust covered ice cream maker that is hiding somewhere in a closet (yes, I'm talking about you). Since I'm always looking for inspiration and ideas, feel free to leave me a comment here on my blog or on my facebook page, and let me know what ice cream flavor you would like to see. Who knows, you might just get lucky and it will be featured the following week.

To kick this series off I chose Oatmeal-Raisin Ice Cream, which is another amazing recipe from the incomparable David Lebovitz. This ice cream is so delicious, that once you have your first bite you might never consider eating any other frozen confection.

There are practically three components to this ice cream, but all of them are easy enough that you can work ahead and let them hang out for a few hours if needed. First you have your plumped up raisins, then the oatmeal praline and last but not least your ice cream base. Even though this recipe is more labor intensive then vanilla ice cream, I didn't mind the work. I made the oatmeal praline first, then started on the raisins, and while those got nice and fat I worked on the custard which then had to cool for a few hours before churning everything in my ice cream maker.

This ice cream took us all by surprise, and is probably one of the best ice creams I have had in the last year. It tasted just like an oatmeal raisin cookie but in ice cream form. My husband couldn't get enough of this one, and I'm already planning on making another batch soon. Please give this one a try, you won't regret it!

Oatmeal Raisin Ice Cream

1/4  cup (60 ml) water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup (80 g) raisins
2 teaspoons dark rum

Ice Cream:
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
1/3 cup (70 g) packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Oatmeal Praline (Recipe to follow)

To prepare the raisins, heat the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Add the raisins and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until all but about 2 tablespoons of the syrup has been absorbed, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the rum.

To make the ice cream, warm the milk, granulated sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk the cream, brown sugar, and cinnamon together into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as your stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Mix in the vanilla and stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. During the last few minutes of churning, add the raisins and Oatmeal Praline.

Oatmeal Praline
(makes 1 cup)

3/4 cup (75 g) rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
Pinch of coarse salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with foil, spread the oats evenly on the sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice while baking, until the oats are fragrant and nicely toasted. Remove from the oven.

Spread the sugar in a medium, heavy-bottomed skilled and cook over medium heat, watching it carefully. When it begins to liquefy and darken at the edges, use a heatproof spatula to stir it very gently, encouraging the heat of the liquefied sugar around the edges to moisten and melt the sugar crystals in the center.

Tilt the pan and stir gently until all the sugar is melted and the caramel begins to smoke. Once the mixture is deep golden, remove it from the heat and immediately add the oats to the skillet (lift the foil to guide them in quickly). Return  the foil to the baking sheet.

Stir the oats gently but quickly, coating them with the caramel. Scrape the oats onto the foil-lined baking sheet and spread them as well as possible. Sprinkle with the salt and let cool completely. Once firm, break the pralined oats into small pieces by pulsing them in a food processor or placing the pieces in a heavy-duty plastic bag and smacking them with a mallet or rolling pin. 

Adapted from: The Perfect Scoop

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Southwest Corn Guacamole

Aside from grilling a lot in the warmer month we also like to eat a lot of Mexican food. Restaurants unfortunately are really hit and miss here, so we make most of our Mexican fare at home. By using fresh ingredients and being able to control what goes into each dish, most of the meals are beloved by the whole family.

Guacamole is one of those dishes. I usually make a traditional one that is mainly avocado and tomato along with seasonings and another version that is blended (and fantastic) which was given to me by a Hispanic friend.

When I was flipping through my May 2010 Issue of Food Network Magazine I got excited to see they had a few different guacamole recipes that I had never tasted before and that sounded really good. I had a hard time deciding, but ultimately went with the Southwest Corn version.

The recipe called for broiling some of the vegetables before putting the dish together, but in true fashion my husband decided it would be even better if we grilled them. Boy, was he ever right. Unfortunately the pictures don't do this wonderful guacamole justice. I made the recipe as written, but doubled up on the corn which made the dish even more delicious.

We loved this recipe. The slightly charred vegetables added a wonderful flavor throughout. This recipe makes a big batch, but for us this wasn't a problem since we just ate it with tortilla chips for dinner. Remember, guacamole does not keep well overnight in the refrigerator, so if you are just serving this as a side dish or for a smaller crowd then scale back accordingly.


Southwest Corn Guacamole

2 ears of corn, grilled and kernels cut off
2 plum tomatoes
1 bunch green onions
3 avocados, diced
2 jalapenos, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Chili powder
Ground coriander
Kosher Salt

Oil the corn; sprinkle with chili powder, ground coriander and kosher salt. Grill the corn, the plum tomatoes, and scallions, 5-7 minutes or until slightly charred (you might have to remove the tomatoes before the corn).

Chop the scallions and tomatoes; mash with 3 diced avocados, jalapenos, cilantro, and the lime juice. Add the corn kernels and season with chili powder, coriander and salt. Serve immediately with your favorite tortilla chips.

Adapted from: Food Network Magazine

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gadget Wednesday: Corn Zipper

It is time for Gadget Wednesday again. Here you will find out about great kitchen gadgets that I love and find helpful in my kitchen. As always, feel free to leave me comments about your favorite gadgets. Who knows, I might blog about them next!
Kuhn Rikon Corn Zipper

Today I want to talk about the Kuhn Rikon Corn Zipper*.  I first saw this gadget sitting in a doctor's office looking through magazines. I made mental note of the advertisement to look it up when I came home. What I saw and read online sounded very promising and so I decided to order it. 

This little tool has seriously made a difference. In the summer we love to grill a lot of corn. I always have my husband throw on a few extra pieces of corn just to have enough leftover for a salad or creamed corn the next day. While this gadget works like a charm on grilled corn it does just as wonderful of a job on fresh uncooked corn on the cob as well. In the past, I have always used a knife to cut the kernels off, and while this method works ok, this gadget makes the task a breeze and is much safer. It is very sharp and allows you to cut all the kernels off the cob in no time. In fact, it is so easy to use that even my 8 year old can work it.

I love this tool and if you have been looking for an easier way to utilize all your leftover grilled corn, this might be your answer. Look for a great way to use it in tomorrow's post!

*I'm not in any way or shape affiliated with this company and do not receive compensation for promoting this item. I'm just your average cook that gets excited about certain products that I try and that actually work well.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Whoopie Pies

Baking and cooking trends are almost like fashion. Things that are hip today might be gone by next year. In fact, cupcakes have been all the rage and while you still find them in a lot of cookbooks and food blogs, they are indeed becoming less and less popular. The next "big thing" after cupcakes appeared to be macaroons, which are still all over the internet. I personally have not made them yet, and I'm wondering if by the time I'm getting around to them they are already passe again. 

But just like fashion, as soon as one item "retires" there is a new one resurrected or back in style. In this case I'm talking about the Whoopie Pie. Whoopie pies have been around for a long time, especially if you have lived on the east coast, but for some reason they have always been the stepchild to cupcakes and macaroons. Well not anymore. Keep your eyes open and you will start seeing Whoopie Pies popping up everywhere. A great book which will get you started and has endless possibilities is:  Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell.

Whoopie pies are pretty easy to make, taste like childhood, and when brought along to any function, I guarantee you won't be coming home with leftovers.

I decided to kick my whoopie pie experience off with the classic chocolate cake and marshmallow frosting. They were everything and more I remembered them to be. I loved the non too sweet soft cake part that harmonized perfectly with the soft marshmallow filling. I used extra dark cocoa powder which too me made them taste even richer, but any cocoa powder will work. The marshmallow creme for the filling is a cinch, since it relies on store bought marshmallow fluff and is whipped up in no time. The only thing that bothered me a bit was the way my finished pies looked. The tops of all of the whoopie pies in the book are smooth, and even after carefully watching mine while they were baking the tops cracked. I'm not sure why this happened, maybe it had to do with the lack of humidity we have here in the Southwest, but it didn't affect the taste of the pies.

My whole family went bonkers over these little delights and I see many more whoopie pies in my baking future. I hope this inspired you as well to make some whoopie pies, you know, you want to!

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Marshmallow Creme Filling

For the pies:
1 2/3 cups all- purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
1 cup milk

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups Marshmallow Fluff (or other prepared marshmallow cream)
1 1/4 cups vegetable shortening
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the pies: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper. In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening, and brown sugar on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes.

Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk to the batter and beat on low until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour mixture and 1/2 cup milk and beat until completely combined.

Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon ice cream scoop, drop the batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Bake one sheet a t a time for about 10 minutes each, or until the pies spring back when pressed gently. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely before filling.

For the filling: In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the Marshmallow Fluff and the vegetable shortening, starting on low and increasing to medium speed until the mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low, add the confectioners' sugar and the vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes more.

Assembling the whoopie pie: Spread filling onto the flat side of one cake using a knife or spoon. Top with another cake, flat-side down. Repeat with the rest of the cakes and filling.
Alternatively, you can use a pastry bag with a round or star tip to pipe the filling onto the cakes, which will give you a smoother, neater presentation.

Adapted from: Whoopie Pies

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dill Potato Salad

What goes better with BBQ than potato salad as a side dish? Really, it is the perfect accompaniment to pretty much anything grilled. But, considering that we have a lot of summer days in the south-west and my husband loves to BBQ, I have to have a big repertoire of go-to salads or we would eat the same thing over and over again, and who wants to do that? True, I do have a few salads I make often, like my Better Than Restaurant Coleslaw or my Susi's German Pasta Salad but I do like variety, so I try new recipes quite frequently. Some taste great and make it into regular rotation but many recipes I end up tossing out since they were not a hit with the family.

This potato salad falls into the "regular rotation" category. I love dill and use it a lot in my cooking so when I came across this salad it was a no-brainer for me. Unfortunately potato salad is never made quickly. And honestly, it isn't my favorite task when it comes to peeling the boiled potatoes, but the reward in the end is that the salad is always well received.

Starting with a good tasting potato is key for a tasty end result. I like to use Yukon gold potatoes. Their buttery taste works well in a variety of dishes, plus they keep their shape well. Celery, green onions and and a lot of fresh dill add freshness to the recipe. A delicious dressing that combines mayonnaise, sour cream and a heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard make this potato salad a winner.

If you have room for another potato salad recipe this summer on your dinner table, then give this one a try, you won't be disappointed.

Dill Potato Salad

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cooked, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
3/4 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup mayo
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large bowl combine the cooked but still warm potatoes and toss with the white vinegar. Set aside to cool.

Add the celery and green onions to the cooled potatoes.

In a separate bowl whisk together sour cream, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and dill. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Gently add the dressing to the potato-vegetable mixture and carefully toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Crunchy Pea Salad

I found the recipe for this salad many years ago online and have loved it ever since. I suppose you really need to like peas to enjoy this salad, so if you do, I hope you'll give this one a try. It is one of my favorite salads to serve in the spring/summer time.

The salad is made quickly, and is beautiful to look at. It is also easily taken along for picnics and potlucks and is still tasty after a couple of days in the refrigerator. Radishes, water chestnuts, and fresh sweet red pepper add great crunch and contrast to the bright green peas. The dressing is whisked together quickly and tastes fresh and light despite the mayonnaise. However, if you are watching your diet, feel free to use low fat mayonnaise in the dressing without compromising taste. 

Crunchy Pea Salad
~makes 6-8 servings~

1 package (16 ounces) frozen peas, thawed
1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup radishes, diced
1 medium sweet red pepper, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large bowl combine the peas, water chestnuts, radishes, red pepper and onion.

In a small bowl combine the remaining ingredients. Pour over vegetables and toss gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Black and White Cookies

I grew up with Black and White cookies or rather just white cookies. In Germany they were called "Amerikaner". Imagine my delight after moving to the East Coast and finding the same cookies I had loved so much as a child displayed at every bakery.

I've been looking for a good recipe for a while and when I finally found it inside my Martha Stewart: Cookies book I was thrilled. The recipe is quick, baking time is short, and frosting them is easy, even for a novice.  The only departure from the recipe is that I made the cookies "normal" sized, rather then the "mini" version which is what the book calls for. To do so, I used my large ice cream scoop which worked very well.

These cookies are soft and delicious and the chocolate and vanilla frosting are fitting toppings together. It was fun to watch my kids decide to eat either the chocolate or vanilla side first, but never take a bite that included both of the flavors at the same time. It is a fantastic, easy, kid friendly cookie that I will be making many more times.

I hope you'll give this one a try and your family will enjoy it as much as we did!

Black and White Cookies
~makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies~

For the cookies:
 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk

For the icing:
2 cups confectioners' sugar
 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Make cookies: Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.

Put butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add granulated sugar; mix until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk.

Drop cookies with ice cream scoop (or rounded tablespoon) onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until bottoms turn golden, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.

Make icing: Whisk confectioners' sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and the water in a small bowl until smooth. Add more water, if needed, to achieve a consistency slightly thicker than honey. Transfer half the icing to a small bowl. Stir in cocoa powder; thin with water if needed.

Spread white icing on half of each cookie's flat side and cocoa icing on other half. Let stand until set, 30 minutes. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

Adapted from: Martha Stewart

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gadget Wednesday: Cook Book Holder

Welcome to Gadget Wednesday. Here you will find out about great kitchen gadgets that I love and find helpful in my kitchen. As always feel free to leave me comments about your favorite gadgets. Who knows, I might blog about them next!

Prodyne M-979 Stainless Steel Cook Book Holder

Today I want to talk about this fantastic cookbook stand my kids got me for Mother's Day. It is the Prodyne M-979 Stainless Steel Cook Book Holder*.  If you are like me and have lots of cook books that just won't stay open, and you have to put pots, glasses, or other things on them just so they will stay open and not close on you, then this is the gadget you should think about getting.

It is seriously fantastic. It holds the biggest and thickest of my books open without damaging them but also does a fantastic job at holding a single piece of paper.  It is also nice that I can easily prop this stand up next to the stove while I'm stirring a pot, or next to my mixer while I'm measuring things.

If you have been looking for a solution to keeping your cookbooks open while you cook, then this might be the perfect option for you.

*I'm not in any way or shape affiliated with this company and do not receive compensation for promoting this item. I'm just your average cook that gets excited about certain products that I try and that actually work well.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Walnut Pesto

I think Pesto in itself is a beautiful condiment. I love the bright green color, and how versatile it is. You can stir it into freshly cooked pasta or add it to a marinade. It is also delicious brushed on bread before grilling it. Another one of my favorite applications is to add it to some mayonnaise before spreading it on a sandwich. 

The classic pesto is usually made with basil and pine nuts, but there are very many variations out there that are equally as good. Besides the green version there is also a red pesto that gets the color from sun dried tomatoes. This time however, I went with a walnut pesto that gets its beautiful color from fresh parsley. Additionally toasted walnuts, a really good quality olive oil, and freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (don't use the cheap kind in the green can) round out this great dish.

A food processor makes preparation a snap when it comes to pesto, but a blender or marble mortar will work as well. Prepared, the pesto will last in the refrigerator for about a week. Homemade pesto is quick and easy to make and I promise you it will be so much better than any store bought version. 

Walnut Pesto

3 cloves garlic
1 cup, walnuts, toasted
2 bunches fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano--reggiano

With the motor running, drop the garlic into a food processor to chop it. Add the walnuts and pulse until coarsely chopped, then add the parsley and process until the nuts are finely chopped; do not pulse to a paste. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the parmigiano.

Adapted from: Food Network Magazine


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