Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Baguette French Toast

French toast is the kind of breakfast you have on a sunny Sunday morning where the only thing on your to-do list is carbs. This version fancies things up a bit with a little fresh flair. 




Ingredients
  • 1 baguette
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon amaretto
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Butter or oil for frying
  • Agave nectar
  • Sliced fresh fruit or berries for garnish
Directions:


Slice baguette alternating in a pattern of straight across and at an angle so you get large triangle-like shapes that stand up on their own (see photo)

In a shallow mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, amaretto and cinnamon. Dip baguette slices in egg mixture and cook on medium high heat --if you don't have a griddle, you can use a hot frying pan with a bit of butter. Once they are golden brown on all sides, and a bit firmer to the touch, remove from heat.

Arrange the finished pieces on plates so that they resemble a crown, and place berries inside the crown and around the plate. Drizzle with agave nectar and enjoy!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Soba Noodle Salad with Salmon and Avocado

Perusing through my monthly Bon Apetit Magazine, I noticed a soba noodle salad with salmon and asparagus. Having recently heard the benefits of buckwheat-based soba noodles, and learning their remarkably low point ranking on weight watchers, I was intrigued to find a way to incorporate them into my diet. Now, this dish is a weekly staple at our place, and I hope you'll enjoy it in yours. I've tweaked the Bon Apetit version a bit, but if you're curious, please check out the original at the hyperlink above. 

Ingredients: 


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or sesame oil if you have it--and save a little extra for the saucepan
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • Fine sea salt
  • 5 1/2 ounces soba (Japanese-style noodles)*
  • 12 ounces wild salmon fillet, skinned
  • 5 ounces fresh peas
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4-5 mushrooms
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1/8 cup chopped cilantro
Directions:


Whisk first 5 ingredients in small bowl. Season dressing to taste with freshly ground black pepper (and a dash of Siracha if you have it)


Cook soba noodles in large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain and then transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain that, and finally transfer to bowl of dressing, and toss to coat.


Heat additional oil in heavy medium nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salmon with sea salt and pepper. Cook until browned but still deep pink in center, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer salmon to plate; cool slightly. Wipe pan clean. Add chopped mushrooms and sauté for about two minutes. Add peas, mushrooms and chopped bell pepper to noodles; toss to incorporate evenly. Season to taste with pepper. Divide noodle salad among plates. Break salmon into bite-size pieces. Tuck salmon and avocado into noodles on plates. Sprinkle sesame seeds and chopped cilantro over and serve. 




Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Snickerdoodle Martini

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This one is a real favorite for the kids. 


Kidding, Mom. But seriously, if you've got a bunch of girly drinkers at a holiday party, or you want to get a serious kick out of cookie baking, this gem will do the trick. It's on the sweet side, but if you prefer a spicier taste, cut the simple syrup by half and add some additional cinnamon and a clove for extra kick. 


Ingredients:
1 cup sugar (divided)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean
1 cinnamon stick
5 oz vodka
ice
lemon slice




Directions:


Mix ½ cup sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon and set aside in a shallow dish (this will be used to rim the glasses later on)

Make a snickerdoodle simple syrup by boiling 2 parts water, one part sugar, 1 vanilla bean and 1 cinnamon stick (you can make this in batches and freeze the rest for later use.) Pour 5 ounces of your favorite Vodka (mine is Finlandia) into a martini shaker with 2 ounces simple syrup and a generous amount of ice.

Shake vigorously for a full minute (Note: you can tell a martini is well shaken when thin ice crystals form on the surface of the drink once it’s poured.)

Dampen the edge of your martini glasses all the way around with a lemon slice; rim the glasses in the cinnamon sugar mixture, divide vodka mixture evenly between glasses and enjoy!



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spinach Salad with Bacon, Scallops and Avocado

Ingredients:


  • 2 pieces of black forest bacon
  • 6 scallops (preferably dry, meaning not packed in preservatives) 
  • 10 oz fresh spinach
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 chopped yellow bell pepper
  • A handful of chopped mushrooms
  • About 2/3 cup of balsamic vinegar


Directions:


  • Cook and drain bacon and chop into matchstick size slices and set aside to cool
  • Leave excess bacon fat in your frying pan as you're going to use it to sear your scallops
  • Let scallops sit out for a bit until they reach nearly room temperature and then season on both sides with salt and pepper, add a dash of paprika for a bright colorful sear, if you're in the mood
  • On very high heat, gently place the scallops in the hot bacon fat in the pan, no more than 3 at a time. You should hear a sharp sizzle as you place down your scallops, and don't move them around the pan, we're working to sear them
  • Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, they should have a golden brown sear (which comes from the sizzle you heard earlier) 
  • Place the scallops on a paper towel 
  • Wipe out your pan and add a generous amount of balsamic vinegar, cooking on high heat
  • When the vinegar becomes slightly syrupy, remove from heat and allow to cool completely before dressing your salad (this process gives it a much sweeter, smoother taste)
  • Assemble your salad with spinach, chopped bacon, chopped bell pepper, chopped mushrooms, sliced onion and cherry tomatoes.
  • Toss with your cooled balsamic and a little olive oil, and assemble on plates
  • Top with thick slices of fresh avocado and finally with your seared scallops.