Sunday, July 31, 2011

Organic Top Sirloin topped with Crab, Roasted Tomato and Smoked Mozzarella Pasta ~ adapted from French Fridays with Dorie ~ and David Lebovitz's Super Lemon Ice Cream

Organic Top Sirloin topped with Crab

I bought this beautiful Top Sirloin from Novy Ranches at the Channel Islands Farmers' Market this morning.  John cooked it according to the instructions they gave us.  He rubbed it with Olive Oil and sprinkled it with Salt and Pepper, then seared it over medium-high heat and moved it to the top shelf of the grill and allowed it to cook for about 6 minutes on each side.

While the meat rested, we made the Crab topping.

In a small saucepan, we sauteed:
3 Tablespoons Butter
1 Shallot, minced
6 ounces Fresh Crab Meat (you can use canned)
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
a bit of Salt and Pepper
1 Tablespoon Flat Leaf Parsley, minced

When it was thoroughly combined, we created 4 small mounds of the Crab mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet, topped each with a bit of Italian Blend Cheese, and placed it under the broiler for about 3 minutes.

Place slices of meat on each plate, then top with Crab and Cheese patty.

Roasted Tomato and Smoked Mozzarella Pasta
 ~ adapted from French Fridays with Dorie ~

This week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe is for Roasted Cherry Tomatoes.  I used a variety of Cherry Tomatoes and doubled the recipe.  I topped the Tomatoes with fresh Thyme and Lemon Thyme from my garden and slow-roasted them for 3 hours.  When the Tomatoes were done, I tossed them with a pound of Gemelli pasta and 8 ounces of Smoked Mozzarella Cheese.  It was really delicious!  I loved the roasted Garlic, too, and will add more next time.
Fresh Roasted Tomatoes

David Lebovitz's Super Lemon Ice Cream

This is the fourth recipe we've tried from David Lebovitz's book, The Perfect Scoop, and each one has been incredibly delicious!  I've never had Lemon Ice Cream before, but this was so creamy and delicious that I could have eaten half of it myself!  

When I was a kid in Naples, I used to get Gelato cups with half-Lemon and half-Strawberry - they were my favorite!  My next step will be to combine this amazing Lemon Ice Cream with Strawberry Ice Cream!
I love this book, and my sister-in-law suggested I sponsor an on-line group to work our way through The Perfect Scoop - what do you think?  Are you game?  

Trio of Pelicans swimming in the Channel Islands Harbor

Friday, July 29, 2011

King Arthur Flour's Best Brownies Ever with Mini Peanut Butter Cups

with Mini Peanut Butter Cups

Check out these mini Peanut Butter Cups!
I was hoping since this recipe is printed on the flour bag that I would be able to find it on the King Arthur Flour website.  Well, I did find one that's almost an exact match with a couple of differences - the title, and the coffee. The flour bag recipe doesn't call for coffee,so I made mine with out it, but if you like coffee, add it.

I have to agree - these are the best brownies ever!  And, I've been baking Brownies for a very long time!  I also really enjoyed using the microwave to melt the butter and having only one bowl to wash.  I used Penzey's Natural Cocoa Powder and stirred in these mini Peanut Butter Cups I found at Trader Joe's in place of the Chocolate Chips the recipe calls for.

Fresh from the oven!
The texture, color, and flavor of these Brownies was perfect - and the chocolate and Peanut Butter swirls just take them over the top!  I'm sure to try them with a variety of ingredients, but these will be hard to beat!


Common Tern carrying a fish in its beak!  Channel Islands Harbor, CA.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mom's Olive Oil Orange Bundt Cake ~ Baked Sunday Mornings

This week's Baked Sunday Mornings challenge is for this lovely, summery orange cake with olive oil!  I have to admit, I wasn't eager to make this cake because it sounds really trendy - and for some reason, I expected it to be really dense and oily.  I have totally changed my mind!

What I love about our on-line group is the excitement of trying new things and sharing our reactions to them.  Not only was I wrong about the cake being trendy - it's an old French recipe - but, I couldn't have been further off in my imagining of how this cake would turn out!  Sometimes, it's good to be wrong!

It has a velvety texture and a wonderful orange flavor.  I used Pasolivo's Citrus Olive Oil and it was delicious.  The Baked Boys are right in their assertion that this cake would be great any time of the day.  I think it would make an elegant addition to a brunch table, too.  And, I elected "To Glaze".  The glaze provided just a bit more orange flavor and was a perfect way to use up the naked oranges.

You're welcome to join this very talented group of bloggers to bake along with us as we work our way through every delicious recipe in Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.


Huge starfish - Channel Islands Harbor

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fresh Rock Crab Salad, Rib-Eye Roast, Potatoes au Gratin, Broiled Tomatoes, and Fresh Cherry Cake

Fresh Rock Crab Salad

This morning, I bought 2 live Rock Crabs right off the docks at the Channel Islands Farmers' Market.  
Add 2 Tablespoons Sea Salt and 2 Tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning to a huge stockpot 2/3 full of water.

When water reaches a full boil. pick crabs up from behind so they can't grab you!  Drop them in the water and let them boil for 20 minutes.

Drain and allow to cool before removing the shells and cracking the legs.  We used an antique Salmon Whacker, a nutcracker, and picks to remove all the white meat.  We then rinsed the meat and chilled it.

To create the salads, we lined the bowls with Red Oak Lettuce leaves from our garden, placed a scoop of Crab Meat in the bowls and surrounded it with halved Cherry Tomatoes and a diced Avocado.

Mignonette Sauce
 - of sorts

Mignonette Sauce is normally served with fresh Oysters, but it complements all shellfish nicely.  It's normally made without Olive Oil, but we couldn't resist finishing it with a bit of Lime Olive Oil.

At least 1/2 hour in advance, stir together:
1/2 cup Sherry (or other wine) vinegar
1/4 cup Lime Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, minced
1 teaspoon Chives, minced
2 teaspoons Tarragon, minced
1 Tablespoon Capers
1/2 teaspoon Honey
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Drizzle over fresh Crab Salad, to taste.

Rib-Eye Roast

John created a paste with Sea Salt, Fresh minced Rosemary, Pepper and Olive Oil and coated the roast with it.  Then he roasted it on a rack for 1 1/2 hours at 425 degrees.  Let the roast sit for 15 minutes before carving it.   

Potatoes au Gratin

I was excited to use my new mandoline slicer!  I could not believe how quickly I sliced through 5 Russet Potatoes and 1 Maui Sweet Onion - and all the slices were uniform!

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large saucepan, over medium heat, melt 1/2 cup Butter.
Whisk in:
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon Salt and Pepper, each
A tiny bit of ground Nutmeg

When flour absorbs butter, gently whisk in 4 cups Milk.
Stir continuously for about 8 minutes until sauce thickens.
Pour enough sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan to thinly coat it.
Add one layer of potatoes
Scatter sliced onions
Cover with sliced, or grated cheese - I used Cheddar
Cover with cream sauce
Add one more layer of potatoes and onions, cover with remaining cream sauce.
Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
Remove foil and sprinkle top with Parmesan Cheese.
Return to oven and continue to bake for 20 minutes, or until potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork.
Broiled Tomatoes

Pre-heat Broiler.
Line a baking sheet with foil.
Slice fresh Tomatoes in half horizontally.
Drizzle with Olive Oil
Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper
Top with shredded cheese - I used an Italian Blend
Sprinkle with Italian Herbs.
Broil for about 10 minutes until cheese is browned & bubbly.

This wonderful recipe comes from Jenifurla's delightful blog, Indigo's Sugar Spectrum.  When I saw her post for her daughter's 3rd birthday, I happened to have a bag of fresh cherries, so I couldn't resist making this beautiful cake!

Neither my husband, nor my brother, like the taste or texture of cooked cherries, but both of them loved the taste of fresh cherries that permeates this cake & buttercream!  And, the color is remarkable, too! This great, fresh summery cake adds the perfect finishing touch to almost any meal, or celebration!


Blue Heron in flight - Channel Islands Harbor

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Coconut-Lemongrass-Braised Pork ~ French Fridays with Dorie

This week's French Fridays with Dorie challenge is for this Coconut-Lemongrass-Braised Pork.  What a delightfully different meal!  The layers of flavor are so interesting - every bite is different.

We made a couple of changes to the base recipe:
  • Instead of all the individual spices, we used 2 1/2 teaspoons of Rogan Josh seasoning which contains all of them, and few more
  • We used celery instead of celery root
  • After I baked the stew for 30 minutes, I thought the sauce was too thin, so I made a paste of 3 Tablespoons of Cornstarch and water and stirred it in.  Then, I put it back in the oven for 10 minutes, and it turned out perfectly

We don't really understand the French habit of cooking vegetables separately from stews, but since this was the first time we made this recipe, we made it this way.  But, the next time we make it, we're going to add the vegetables to the saucier before we put it in the oven so they can absorb more of the flavors from the sauce.

This was wonderful with wide egg noodles and re-heats really well.

Bon Appetit!

Starfish at Channel Islands Harbor - about 8 inches in diameter!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Grilled Rib-eye Steaks, Iron Skillet Roasted Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus, and Chris' Fabulous White Chocolate and Blueberry Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream Icing

Grilled Rib-eye Steaks
Yay for summer barbecues!  John made these incredibly juicy and tender Rib-eye Steaks.
Rub into each side of the steaks:
Sea Salt
Ground Pepper
1 Tablespoon Ruby Port
Grill over medium-high flame for 5 minutes on each side, then move off flame and continue to grill for up to 15 minutes - depending on desired level of doneness.

Iron Skillet Roasted Potatoes

John perfected these potatoes using a seasoned cast-iron skillet on the grill. 

1 pound assorted small potatoes - white, red, or gold, quatered
1/2 half  medium onion, sliced

Place in pan and coat in olive oil

Place pan on the grill over a high flame, stirring potatoes every 10 minutes until they're roasted brown and the onions are carmelized. 

Grilled Asparagus
Clean 1 bunch of Asparagus and snap ends off.
Place them in a foil packet.
Drizzle with Citrus Olive Oil.
Sprinkle with Sunny Spain Seasoning and Sea Salt.
Seal foil pouch and grill over indirect heat on top shelf of grill for 5 minutes on each side.

Chris has a beautiful blog called "The Cafe Sucre Farine".  When I saw her post for this cake, I knew I had to make it!  Although Chris featured a sheet cake, she said you can use the same batter for a number of different cakes.  I decided to bake mine in a 9 x 13 inch pan - I recommend if you do this, you reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake it for 40 minutes.  I also used about 2 cups of fresh Blueberries.

The cake is moist and delicious, but it's really the White Chocolate Buttercream Icing that sets it apart!  It's so delicious that it would be perfect on anything from Lemon Pound Cake to Red Velvet Cake to Brownies!

Cormorant drying its wings - Channel Islands Harbor

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Coconut-Walnut Scones

This recipe is adapted from the Cream Scones recipe in Carol Mushet's The Art & Soul of Baking.

Coconut-Walnut Scones

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scatter 1 1/4 cups flaked Coconut on one side, and 3/4 cup finely chopped Walnuts on the other side.
Bake for 8 minutes and toss the coconut with a fork, and allow to cool.

Increase the temperature to 425 degrees.

In a food processor, combine:
2 Cups Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
Pulse to blend.

Add 1 Stick Butter, cut into pieces, pulsing after each addition.
Continue to blend until dough combines into small, pea-sized pieces.

Keep food processor running, and pour in:
1 Cup Cream
1/2 Tablespoon Dark Rum

When thoroughly combined, add:
1 cup Toasted Coconut
1/2 cup Toasted Walnuts

Ready to eat!
Turn dough onto a floured piece of wax paper, and shape into a 7-inch disk.

Cut into 8 wedges.
Move wedges onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet with about 1 1/2 inches between them.
Bake for 20 minutes until evenly browned.

Slide parchment paper with scones off cookie sheet and allow to cool.

In the meantime, whisk together:
1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Dark Rum
1/4 cup Coconut Milk

Drizzle glaze over scones, and top with remaining Toasted Coconut & Walnuts.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Peaches and Dream Pie ~ Baked Sunday Mornings

Sweet dreams are made of this. 
Who am I to disagree? ~ Eurythmics 

Beautiful, fresh Peaches

This week's Baked Sunday Mornings challenge is for Peaches and Dream Pie.  I love peaches, and I love cream, so I was really looking forward to making this pie!  Much to my dismay, the custard didn't set, so once again, I had a runny pie!  Really?!?

Ready for the oven - still pretty
Since there's no picture in the book, I have no idea what this pie was supposed to look like, but I thought it looked really great...until I cut into it.

It tasted okay, but really wasn't anything special.  I couldn't resist adding Pecans to the topping which John thought tasted like Pralines, but he said the Peach and Blueberry Crisp we make has a lot more flavor.  I was so proud of myself, too.  I made the pie while John was out of town, put in in the fridge - whole - and waited until he got home the next day to cut it.  So, it's not even as though I didn't allow the pie to cool.
The disaster -  custard that refused to set...

I still have to say that I'm a big fan of the pie dough, though - it's easy to work with and has a great texture & flavor.  Unfortunately, this was not the pie of our dreams!

Click here to see how the rest of the group did.

Plate-sized Dahlia from our garden

Until next time!
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