Recipe Roundup

22 Mar

Greetings, lovlies. I hope you all had a spectacular weekend. I’ve been cooking again! Such an awesome feeling. I wanted to share two healthy and one very-unhealthy-but-who-cares-make-it-anyway dishes. Lunchbloggin’!

I’ll start with the healthy:

Couscous and Feta Stuffed Peppers

(recipe and photo via smittenkitchen… I love her.)

Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1 1/4 cups fat-free chicken or vegetable broth
2/3 cup couscous
4 extra-large or 5 large bell peppers, mixed colors
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 oz zucchini, quartered lengthwise then sliced across thinly
6 oz yellow squash, quartered lengthwise then sliced across thinly
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
15 oz canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 oz crumbled feta cheese (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons tomato paste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a small baking dish with cooking spray. Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan, add the couscous, cover the pan and remove it from the heat. Cut the stems and top half inch off the bell peppers and scoop out the seeds and membranes. Place peppers upright in a baking dish and roast them for 15 minutes or so, until they soften, then remove them from the oven until the filling is ready. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet. Add onion, zucchini, yellow squash, fennel seeds, oregano, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes, chickpeas and tomato paste. Using a fork, scrape the couscous into the skillet and toss with the vegetables. Stir in the crumbled feta. Fill peppers with the couscous mixture. Bake 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

I made these last night and they were AMAZING. I’m having one for lunch now, too. They’re so filling. I personally decided to use quinoa instead of couscous. These can easily be made vegan by omitting the feta, or you can turn it into a hearty meat dish by adding some ground turkey or crumbled sausage.


Slow-Cooked Clam Chowder

(recipe via Runner’s World)

1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 (8-ounce) can of clams
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
3 russet potatoes, cubed
1 (12 oz) fat-free evaporated milk

In a skillet, saute the onions and celery in the olive oil. Transfer to a slow cooker and add other ingredients except canned milk. Cover and cook on high for three hours (or low for six hours). During the last hour add the milk. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with hearty whole-grain bread.

So simple! And using evaporated milk instead of cream makes it only 385 calories for a 1 cup serving. I also added in about 1 teaspoon of cornstarch diluted in hot water to give it an extra kick of thickness. I’m a chowder lover, and I can be quite picky about a good cup of soup. Let me tell you, this is good stuff. Nice creaminess, and I cut the potatoes into good-sized pieces, so it’s nice and chunky. Obviously, this is neither vegetarian nor vegan. Still delicious.

Finally, the unhealthy…

Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake

(recipe and photo via smittenkitchen… I still love her.)

This is a long, involved recipe… especially if you don’t have pre-blanched hazelnuts. But it’s pretty worth it.

5 ounces (about one heaping cup) hazelnuts, blanched to remove dark skins*
1/2 pound unsalted butter (plus 1 tablespoon melted extra for greasing the pan)
1/2 vanilla bean
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting the cake
1/3 cups all-purpose flour
5 extra-large egg whites (I used 6 since I was using large eggs)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 °F.

Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet, and toast 12 to 15 minutes, until they’re golden brown and smell nutty. Let them cool.

Cut out a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of a 10-inch round cake pan. Brush the pan with a little melted butter and line the bottom with the paper.

Place the rest of the butter in a medium saucepan. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center, and using a paring knife to scrape the seeds and pulp onto the butter. To make sure not to lose any of the seeds, run your vanilla-coated knife through the butter. Add the vanilla pod to the pan, and cook the butter until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Set aside to cool. Remove the vanilla pod and discard.

Grind the hazelnuts with the confectioners’ sugar in a food processor until they’re finely ground. Add the flour and pulse to combine. Transfer to a large bowl.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the granulated sugar and mix on high speed 4 to 5 minutes, until the mixture forms very stiff peaks. When you turn the whisk upside down, the peaks should hold. Transfer the whites to a large mixing bowl.

Alternate folding the dry ingredients and the brown butter into the egg whites, a third of a time. Remember to scrap the bottom of the brown butter pan with a rubber spatula to get all the little brown bits.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour**. Cool on a rack 30 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan, and invert the cake onto a plate. Peel off the paper, and turn the cake back over onto a serving platter. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar or cover with ganache.

* I removed the skins (which are especially tough on the delicious Oregon hazelnuts I found) by toasted them on a baking sheet at 350°F for about 15 minutes then either (I tried both methods) wrapping the warm nuts in a dish towel, letting it steam for five minutes and then vigorously rubbing them together to remove the skins or by plunking them in a colander and using a hard, dry, clean scrub brush to brush their skins off.

** Mine was done at 40 minutes so check yours even earlier, okay?

I told you it was really long. Between toasting the nuts, removing the skins, grinding them, browning the butter, and foaming the egg whites… well, the whole thing is complicated. BUT. But… you want to make this cake.

  1. The scent of toasted hazelnuts is like no other.
  2. The scent of toasted hazelnuts ground with sugar is even more amazing.
  3. Now pour some butter over that, infused with real vanilla.

DO YOU SEE WHAT I’M GETTING AT? I truly imagine that the scent of this cake is what heaven smells like. Pheromones have nothin’ on it. Yes, it uses two sticks of butter. Did I care? A little, UNTIL I SMELLED THE CAKE. I cut it in to small slices. It’s like moderation, right?



3 Responses to “Recipe Roundup”

  1. Lacey March 22, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    woooooOOOo. those look awesome. especially that cake. i love how the house smells when baking. mmm.

  2. Amy @ Second City Randomness March 22, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    That cake is calling my name. That is all.

  3. The Vegan Anti-Hero March 22, 2010 at 4:26 pm #

    Umm why is that cake not vegan? That’s just a tease!

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