Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Funnel Cakes

When you grow up in a small town like I did, the county fair is a big deal. For this holiday weekend, Drew and I are staying at a hotel in Calistoga to soak in the town parade, sit by the pool and spin around tirelessly on the Gravitron.

The county fair is a great place to eat. There are corn dogs, cotton candy, caramel corn, ice cream, churros and more. And it's a good thing I only go once a year because these menu options are not approved for my bride-to-be diet. One of my fair staples is the funnel cake. Make these at home and reminisce on your days as a kid at the carnival.

Funnel Cakes
FN Test Kitchen
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Oil for frying
  • Cinnamon powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oil to 375 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and lemon. Whisk well. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Stir until smooth. Hold your finger over the funnel opening, fill with 3/4 cup of the filling. Place your hand over the oil and carefully remove your finger. Scribble and criss-cross the filling into the hot oil. Fry until golden on both sides. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Dust with cinnamon sugar mix. Repeat the process until all of the batter is used.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Creamy Potato Salad with Lemon and Fresh Herbs

What would summer be without potato salad? As the 4th of July nears, think about adding this salad to your BBQ menu. It's a major crowd pleaser and guests will be prepared to splurge on their calorie intake. I like my salad cold, so keep it in the cooler or fridge just before serving. Nobody likes a warm creamy dressing on a hot day.

Creamy Potato Salad with Lemon and Fresh Herbs
Bon Appetit
• 3 pounds baby red potatoes
• 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
• 3/4 cup mayonnaise
• 3 medium green onions, thinly sliced
• 1 celery stalk, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
• 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel

• Bring potatoes to boil in large pot of water. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 17 minutes. Drain; let stand until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes.
• Cut potatoes into 3/4-inch pieces. Place 1 layer of potatoes in large bowl; sprinkle with some of vinegar and salt and pepper. Continue layering potatoes with vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add all remaining ingredients; toss. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

Drew bought this gigantic watermelon at Costco last weekend and we had a ton left over after a BBQ. I brainstormed a couple ways to not let it go to waste, including making a sangria out of it. At the end of the day, this salad recipe sounded perfect and easy to make. The saltiness of the feta works nicely with the sweetness of the watermelon.

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint
Jacques P├ępin
  1. 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  3. 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  4. 1 teaspoon Tabasco
  5. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  6. One 8-pound seedless watermelon, scooped into balls with a melon baller or cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (10 cups), chilled
  7. 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled (2 cups)
  8. 1 1/4 cups pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped (optional)
  9. 1 small sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  10. 1 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, salt, Tabasco and pepper. Add the watermelon, feta, olives and onion and toss gently. Garnish with the mint and serve.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Andouille and Beef Burgers with Spicy Mayo and Caramelized Onions

Honestly, unless you are a vegetarian there is NO way that you can tell me that this thing does not look down-right delicious. With Spicy mayo, andouille and blue cheese, this sucker packs a serious punch.

Summer is officially here and we're packing up the car and heading up to Napa for a little poolside relaxation and some varsity grilling. I've been doing some menu planning this week and this burger has made the cut for Saturday's festivities. If people are turned off by the pecans in the recipe then just leave them out. Make sure to be patient when you are cooking your onions. Low and slow, friends. Low and slow.

Andouille and Beef Burgers with Spicy Mayo and Caramelized Onions

Spicy mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun or Creole seasoning blend
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into scant 1/4-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup pecans, toasted, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck or ground beef (20 percent fat)
Caramelized onions
  • 1 1/2 pounds onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for brushing grill rack
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon golden brown sugar
  • 6 large hamburger buns, split
  • 8 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • 12 pickled okra pods, halved lengthwise*
  • 3 cups watercress tops

For mayonnaise:
Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Cover and chill.

Do ahead: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For burgers:
Toss first 4 ingredients in large bowl. Add beef; blend gently. Shape mixture into six 1/2-inch-thick patties. Transfer patties to small baking sheet.

Do ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

For onions:
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Toss onions and next 3 ingredients in large skillet. Place skillet on grill; cook until onions are golden, stirring often, about 25 minutes. Remove from grill; season with salt and pepper.

Brush grill rack with olive oil. Grill buns, cut side down, until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer buns to work surface. Grill burgers until brown on bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn over; sprinkle with cheese. Grill until burgers are cooked to desired doneness, about 3 minutes for medium. Place some onions, then burger, on each bun bottom. Top each with okra and watercress. Spread mayonnaise on cut side of bun tops; place on burgers. Serve with remaining mayonnaise.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Strawberry Tart with Flaky Pastry

The great thing about summer is how easy and delicious meals can be. When ingredients are at their peak, you really just have to wash them, chop them and serve them. Case-in-point this great recipe for a summer strawberry dessert.

Strawberry Tart with Flaky Pastry
  1. 1 teaspoon salt
  2. 1 1/4 cups ice water
  3. 3 1/2 cups chilled all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  4. 1 pound cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  1. 1 cup heavy cream
  2. 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  3. 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
  4. 1 pound strawberries, thinly sliced
  5. Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  1. Make the Pastry: Stir the salt into the ice water until dissolved. In a food processor, combine the 3 1/2 cups of flour and the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of peas and evenly distributed in the flour. Make indentations in the flour mixture and drizzle in the water. Pulse just until the flour is moistened. Scrape the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and quickly press and squeeze just until a shaggy, coarse dough forms. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. On a floured work surface, dust the top of the pastry with flour. Roll out to an 8-by-15-inch rectangle. Fold the rectangle into thirds like a letter, brushing off any excess flour. Roll it out to a rectangle and fold it again, dusting with more flour as necessary. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll and fold 2 more times, refrigerating the pastry for 30 minutes in between. Refrigerate the pastry for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425°. Cut out a 10-inch round of parchment paper. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Divide the pastry in half; freeze half for another use. On a floured work surface, roll out the pastry 1/4 inch thick. Using a sharp knife and a 12-inch plate as a template, cut out a 12-inch round. Brush off any excess flour and transfer the pastry to the prepared baking sheet. Top with the parchment round and a 10-inch cake pan; fill the pan with pie weights or dried beans.
  4. Bake the pastry in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375° and bake for about 35 minutes, until starting to brown around the edge. Remove the cake pan and parchment round and cover the edge of the pastry with foil. Bake the pastry in the upper third of the oven for about 15 minutes longer, until the center of the round is lightly browned and crisp. Transfer the pastry to a rack to cool.
  5. Assemble the Tart: In a large bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and Grand Marnier and whip the cream until firm. Spread the whipped cream over the pastry and arrange the sliced strawberries on top. Dust the tart with confectioners' sugar, cut into wedges and serve.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Drew and I headed over to Pacifica for a BBQ on Memorial Day with some close friends. Prior to the big day, my friend and I decided to go 'Greek'. I brought a leg of lamb that had been marinating in lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, garlic and rosemary for 24 hours and some spanakopita. For those of you that have never had spanakopita, it's a Greek staple and quite delicious warm or cold.

Recipes for this dish don't vary much. Here is an easy one from Tyler Florence.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions, white and green parts
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds fresh baby spinach, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 12 ounces crumbled feta
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 pound phyllo pastry sheets
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped oregano
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chives
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and place over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for 3 minutes until soft. Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper, and continue to saute until the spinach is limp, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice, remove from heat and place in a colander, and squeeze out excess liquid. Set aside to cool. The filling needs to be cool and dry to prevent the phyllo from becoming soggy. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with feta, coriander, and nutmeg. Season, then fold in the cooled spinach mixture until well blended.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, brush 2 baking sheets with some melted butter. Unroll the phyllo dough and lay a sheet flat on a work surface. Take care to keep the phyllo covered with a damp, not wet, towel as you work to prevent drying out and becoming brittle. Brush the sheet with melted butter, then sprinkle evenly with some oregano and chives. Repeat with 2 more sheets of phyllo, stacking on top of each other. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the sheets lengthwise into thirds to form 2 1/2-inch strips. Do this with all the sheets of dough.

Place a heaping teaspoon of filling near 1 corner of the layered phyllo strip. Fold the end at an angle over the filling to form a triangle. Continue to fold the triangle along the strip until you reach the end, like folding up a flag. Brush the top with butter and dust with Parmesan, place on prepared baking sheet, and cover while preparing the remaining pastries. Repeat until all the filling and phyllo strips are used up. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the triangles are crisp and golden. Serve hot, warm or cold.