April 27, 2011

oh snap

I don't really have a whole lot of interesting things to say today, so let's just get right down to business, shall we?

Gingersnaps with Lemon-Ginger cream filling... 
Make these cookies if you want to impress people. 
They come out perfect, zingy, delicious, addictive.

They are delightfully chewy with just a bit of crisp on the outside edges.
Basically, exactly what you would want from a gingersnap.
And the filling, well let's just say the filling is something that you're gonna have to stop yourself from eating by the spoonful before it even makes it to it's rightful place between the cookies.

And now I'm salivating.

Find the recipe right here.

April 19, 2011

seared scallops with brown butter risotto

Risotto is a powerful word. It's resounding, sensual, Italian, and meant to be said with some kind of hand gesture (not that one, you). It incites a level of anticipation in me that is embarrassing to admit. I'm a sucker for starch, really that's all it comes down to. Rice, mashed potatoes, french fries, bread...
But risotto reigns supreme over all these lowly starches. Risotto is Queen Starch.

This brown butter risotto is creamy (obvi) and a just the right amount of salty, with a great depth of flavor from the browned butter and brandy. You can eat it by the bowlful if you're in a starchy mood, or pair it with any protein you want, like sea scallops. The recipe is Giada's that I found in some random magazine like Redbook. She paired it with lobster tail.

This was our first time making sea scallops and it went surprisingly well! We even used frozen (New England wild Jumbo) scallops from Trader Joe's: Thaw, sear, eat, be happy.

April 14, 2011

asparagus soup

Growing up, eating vegetables could be a little traumatic for me. Especially if they were brussel sprouts. Or lima beans. Lima beans ended up on the floor, or hastily stuffed into a napkin. 

I'm not kidding when I tell you that sometimes, little-girl Esther had to eat last night's unfinished vegetables for breakfast. That's the worst, when everyone is munching on cereal or pancakes and you don't get to enjoy your favorite meal of the day because of some cold unyielding mixed vegetables. 

I'm also not kidding when I tell you that I think my parents are wonderful and that I'm not holding any grudges.

But, those veggie breakfasts might have been avoided if my mom had plunked down a bowl of this soup at dinnertime. I wouldn't have even known I was eating my vegetables. I would've polished it off and probably asked for seconds.

This soup is delicious on its own, but then I topped it with chives, cheese, bacon, and homemade challah bread croutons. Because that's what I do. I take something healthy and fatten it up a bit. 
It was out of this world.

You can serve it with just chives on top for a healthier option. But if you're gonna add one extra thing, may I recommend the croutons? They were SO. good. They almost didn't make it to the soup.

My husband's words:
"Now this is how I like to eat vegetables...
...with bacon!" 

Well yeah.

Asparagus Soup
Slightly adapted from here
Serves 4 
1-2 tablespoons butter (depending on preference)
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups chicken broth
1 medium Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), woody stems snapped off and discarded, spears cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup sour cream
Sea salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped chives
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)
Cheddar cheese, shredded, for topping (optional)
Homemade croutons (optional)


Melt butter in a medium pot over medium low heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, add asparagus and simmer gently until potatoes and asparagus are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat ad set aside to let cool slightly.

Carefully transfer soup to blender in batches and purée until smooth. (Or use an immersion blender) Return soup to pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, whisk in sour cream and season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with chives and other toppings of choice and serve. 

For the croutons:
Preheat oven to 350.
Cut up bread (I used challah) into rectangles and place baking sheet. (lined with foil, if you like)
Melt about a tablespoon of butter and drizzle it on top, then turn and coat bread in butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes, checking and turning croutons every few minutes until nice and toasty.

April 13, 2011

i have jokes

What's black and tan and red and white all over?

If you answered, "A german shepherd wearing a santa hat", you would be correct.

Another correct answer would be this plate of cupcakes.

I made these for my brother's birthday. He's pretty much obsessed with cupcakes which works out because I'm obsessed with making them. When they asked if I could make some cupcakes for the party I jumped at the chance, because normally I'm making cupcakes anyway but only for 2 people so then we get stuck with a dozen cupcakes (I know, sad life). Now the cupcakes would go to good homes stomaches. 

Sadly, I didn't get a ton of pictures of the red velvet. That's not because they weren't delicious.  It's because everyone was fighting over each other to get to them and I couldn't even snap a picture of the mayhem because I was in the middle of it.

Just kidding.
The real reason is not nearly as exciting.

 It's simply because I made these chocolate peanut butter ones a couple weeks ago and took pictures then but never got around to posting them.

Anyway, they're decadent, I don't think they demand much explanation. If you want to make them, you can find the awesome recipe here. If you like eating fingerfuls of extra peanut butter frosting straight from the fridge, this is the recipe for you. (I didn't fill my cupcakes like the recipe suggested, so I was stuck with the extra frosting.)

Moving on.
I have been trying to get a perfect red velvet recipe, and this may just be it. I actually ate one of these without the frosting (I can't believe it either) and it held its own surprisingly well without the cream cheese frosting, which in my opinion is absolutely necessary for red velvet perfection. Anyway, these had the perfect texture and right amount of moistness. Tasty taste.

Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
Recipe adapted from here
Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/8 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 ounce red food coloring
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

  • 4 oz. of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 T. butter, softened
  • 1 T. sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 8 oz. of confectioners’ sugar (approx 2 cups)



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in sour cream, milk, food color and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Do not overbeat. Spoon batter into 12 paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup approx. 2/3 full.
  3. Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean. Gently remove from oven. Cool in pans on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely.
  4. Make cream cheese frosting: Beat cream cheese, softened, butter, sour cream and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth and to the texture of your liking. 

    April 2, 2011

    goat cheese, tomato and rosemary pizza

    I love goat cheese.
    Rather, I adore goat cheese.
    If I'm reading through a restaurant menu and I see the words "goat cheese", I'm pretty much sold already. I'll just have that, whatever it is.

    Naturally I try to think of all the ways I can use it at home.
    So naturally I put it on a pizza.

    This pizza is so light and delicious. You know what took it to the next level though?
    The homemade flatbread crust.

     I was so in love with it. It was exactly the right combination of crisp and light, with almost a hint of sweetness.
    Needless to say I will be finding many other things to put on top of it in the future. Stay tuned.

    Goat Cheese, Tomato and Rosemary Flat Bread Pizza

    1 pkg fast-acting dry yeast
    1/4 cup warm water
    2 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    1 T. sugar
    1 tsp. salt
    3/4 cup warm milk
     2 1/2 to 3 c. sifted flour

    One large tomato, sliced
    About 3 ounces of fresh goat cheese, crumbled (more or less to taste)
    One sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped, or other herb of choice
    Olive oil
    Balsamic Vinegar
    Italian Seasoning
    Kosher salt and Fresh ground black pepper

    Prepare Crust:
    Soften yeast in warm water. Combine in mixing bowl the butter, sugar, salt and warm milk. Add 1 cup of flour, stir well, then add the yeast mixture. Gradually add enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn out on a floured surface, cover with a bowl, let rest for 10 minutes. Knead lightly until smooth, 4-5 minutes.

    Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until light, about 45 minutes. Divide dough in half. You can put one in the refrigerator to use within a couple days or in the freezer if you won't use it right away. Or you can just prepare both, if you want to make two pizzas. Put dough onto a greased cookie sheet or pizza pan. Let rest for 5 minutes. Then stretch or roll or press dough into a rectangle or circle that is about 1/4 thick.

    Assemble pizza:
    Brush prepared dough with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Italian Seasoning. Add tomato slices, followed by goat cheese crumbles. Sprinkle the rosemary on top then drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Add more salt and pepper if desired.
    Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheese is melty.

    April 1, 2011

    coconut-almond crusted tilapia

    This recipe is so easy it seems like it shouldn't taste so good.
    It's like 3 ingredients.



    Then I added a pineapple salsa. Because that pineapple had been loitering on my counter for a few days, looking all pretty and lonely. 

    This pineapple salsa is simply made of:

    -1 cup of chopped pineapple
    -1 chopped kiwi
    -1/3 cup chopped tomato
    -1-2 chopped green onions
    -2-3 T. brown sugar
    -a few squeezes of lemon juice

    Were I to make pineapple salsa again (which is quite likely), I would probably do it differently. Since the above recipe was composed solely of what I had in the fridge, it didn't exactly include everything I thought it should, though it was still pretty dern delicious.
    But here's what I think would be an even better combination:
    -red pepper
    -red onion
    -lime juice

    Basically, it's a completely different recipe. The pineapple stays, and so does the salt. I'll let you know if/when I try it.

     Served it over parmesan couscous (thank you, Near East), alongside broiled asparagus.
    And of course wine. Obvs.