It was cold and rainy. I was at work late and by the time I got home on Wednesday night there was no way that I was going to trek back out to go to the gym. All I wanted to do was stay in, watch HBO, and eat something warm and delicious. Thus this soufflé was born (opposite of going to the gym). The soufflé was not some random accident but rather homework. The previous night in my master culinary class we learned all about eggs and soufflés were one of the basic recipes covered. My partner and I had made small cheese soufflés so I wanted try something similar at home but incorporate another flavor. For this recipe I used dried porcini mushrooms (that is the first thing I saw when I opened my cabinet). Dried mushrooms of all varieties are available at most grocery stores and can be used in a wide variety of recipes (I most often incorporate them into mushroom risotto). This could easily be served with a cream of mushroom soup or a salad. I had a bottle of South African Chenin Blanc already open so I drank a glass of that with this (while watching HBO on a rainy night = heaven). The Chenin Blanc paired nicely since it is a softer white wine. Don’t be intimidated to make a soufflé. I hope this recipe shows you how easy it is. Enjoy!
- 1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 oz butter
- 1 oz flour
- 1 cup milk (I used skim but any kind will work)
- 1.5 cup parmesan cheese
- 1.5 Tablespoons Dijion Mustard
- 6 eggs
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Cover the bowl and allow the mushrooms to sit a minimum of 10 minutes. After 10 minutes transfer the dried mushrooms and only 2 tablespoons of water from the bowl to a food processor and pulse until the mushrooms look like a thick paste. (This can be done ahead of time if necessary)
Break 6 eggs, separating the yolks and white into two separate bowls. Using a Kitchen Aid Mixer whisk the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry. This will take about 5-7 minutes in your Kitchen Aid Mixer (forever if you try to whisk yourself but if you are looking for an arm workout then be my guest). Make sure the egg whites become stiff. Very important!
Heat a sauce pan over medium-high heat on the stove. Melt the butter completely and when it just begins to bubble add the flour and stir well, creating a roux. Add the milk and whisk. Bring this to a bowl and continue to whisk, this will thicken (becoming a béchamel sauce very quickly). Once the sauce has thickened add the parmesan cheese, stir well and remove from the heat. Stir in the Dijon mustard and porcini mushroom paste.
Add the egg yolks to the sauce and stir well making sure they are combined. Using a spatula fold in the egg white. Fold in. Do not stir and press all of the fluff out of your egg whites! Fold into the sauce. Once all of the egg whites are folded in pour the mixture into a greased cake pan so that it fills the pan about 3/4 of the way up. I placed my cake pan on top of a baking sheet incase anything fell out (since it will rise….the point of a soufflé). Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. After 20 minutes turn the oven down to 275 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Soufflés are meant to be served right away since they come out of the oven all puffed up but sink rather quickly so make sure everything else is ready to go when you take the soufflé out of the oven. Remove from from the oven and serve immediately. Take a sip of wine and enjoy!
Now that it is officially fall all I want to make is soups. Sundays in the fall = comfort soups and football. This soup is inspired by one that I tasted in my master culinary class 2 weeks ago. A small taste was not enough for me so I set out to make my own pot of soup. I made my own chicken broth to use for this soup (and another soup…it was a productive Sunday full of cooking) which I think makes all the difference. If you ever have the time to make your own chicken broth (something I only recently started doing – also inspired by my culinary class) I highly recommend doing so. I like to make big pots of soup that I can package into individual containers to take to work for lunch during the week. (I hate days when I don’t bring my own lunch to work. I end up paying too much for something that is just ok. But when I bring my own lunch it tastes better, is cheaper, and is always healthier.) Soup is easy to freeze so I always freeze a few portions allowing me to reheat it quickly when I have nothing else to eat in my apartment. This is a classic fall comfort soup. The pears add just a hint of sweetness to the soup that contrasts with the smokiness of the bacon and the earthiness of the sage. This soup would pair nicely with a smooth red wine such as a Merlot or Pinot Noir. Pinot Noirs can match a wide variety of flavors so are great for cocktail parties where your guests are nibbling on different hors d’oevres. Enjoy!
- 3 Butternut Squash
- 4 Strips Bacon
- 3 Pears
- 3.5 Tablespoons of finely chopped fresh Sage
- 6-8 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade)
- 1 Cup heavy cream
- Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 4oo degrees. Cut of the top (stem part) of the butternut squash and then cut in half lengthwise. Cut lengthwise again so that you now have four wedges. Repeat for the remaining two butternut squash. Scoop out the membranes and seeds and discard. Place the squash on a baking sheet cut side up and cover with foil. Place in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes. Use a fork to test if the squash is done. It should be very soft allowing the fork puncture with minimal effort. Remove the squash from the oven allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Scoop out the roasted squash into a bowl discarding the skin.
Chop the pears and bacon strips. Finely chop the fresh sage. Heat a large stock pot or a round dutch oven on the stove over high heat. (I generally use my Le Creuset cast iron pot for soups.) Add the bacon and pears and sauté for about 6-7 minutes or until most of the fat has been rendered out of the bacon and the pears are starting to become softer. Add the sage, stir and sauté for another minute.
Add the roasted butternut squash to the pot and cover all of the contents with the chicken broth. Leave some extra broth available in case you want to thin out the soup later. Bring the pot to a boil. Once you have reached a boil, turn down to a simmer and let the soup simmer for about 20-30 minutes (making sure the pears are soft).
Turn off the stove and remove the soup from the heat. Using an immersion blender blend the soup until you have a thick velvety texture. Add the heavy cream and blend for an additional minute. Taste and then add sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. If you think the soup is too thick you can add more chicken broth here or if you prefer to to be creamier add more heavy cream. Blend again and you are ready to serve! (If you don’t have an immersion blender you can combine all of this in a traditional blender instead) Pour the soup in bowls, garnish and serve with a smooth red wine. Sip and Enjoy!
Living in Washington, D.C. nothing says summer more than Maryland crabs. Thus I decided to make some crab cakes for some friends back in August. I have not made crab cakes that many times but I certainly have eaten them. I generally judge crab cakes based on how much actual crab I can taste in them. Nothing is worse than ordering crab cakes that are mostly bread crumbs with a hint of crab. The crab meat should be the star and you should not cheat your guests (or customers) by giving them all filling.
Originally, I was going to make crab cakes using Thomas Keller’s recipe from his Ad Hoc Cookbook. Ad Hoc is Keller’s casual eatery in Yountville, California. If you are ever visiting Napa Valley I would highly recommend getting a reservation at Ad Hoc. I went there a few years ago and had the best short ribs ever. Ever. It is located right down the street from Keller’s famed restaurant The French Laundry. (I am currently accepting applications for handsome men that would like to take me to dinner at The French Laundry and clean up after me in the kitchen) However, Keller’s recipe was really a combination of about 4 recipes in his cookbook and was far too complicated (at least for a Tuesday night after work) for a casual dinner with friends. Kate Gerlach has a great blog based on cooking recipes right out of cookbooks and she did an amazing (and hysterical) job in this post explaining how complicated this recipe was. I was glad that someone agreed with my assessment of this recipe (and glad that it happened to be a food blogger that was also named Kate)! This is my much simpler version of Thomas Keller’s recipe. Additionally, these crab cakes are gluten free as I used gluten free bread crumbs for one of the friends over for dinner that night. The gluten free bread crumbs added an extra bit of crunch to the outside of the crab cakes that I don’t think traditional bread crumbs would have been able to provide (and they allowed us all to feel like we were being healthier for a bit).
In this recipe the sweetness of the red pepper sauce provides the perfect contrast for the crab cakes that have a slight crunch on the outside but are full of soft lump crab meat. Served over fresh greens with a lemon vinagrette this is a great light summer time dinner. We paired this with a bottle (or two) of Chablis. Chablis is french wine that is made from Chardonnay grapes but is not aged in oak barrels and is a bit crisper and fruitier than Chardonnay. Cheers!
Red Pepper Sauce
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons parsley
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper
- 1.25 lb Jumbo Lump Crab Meat (Preferably Maryland Blue crab)
- 1 Red Bell Pepper finely chopped
- 1 large yellow Onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- 3 Eggs beaten
- 1.5 teaspoons old bay seasoning
- 1.5 teaspoons Dijion mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 – 2.5 cupsGluten Free Bread crumbs (obviously regular, preferably panko, bread crumbs can be substituted here)
- Olive Oil
- 3 tablespoons chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
- Fresh Greens
- 1.5 cups Cherry Tomatoes
- Lemon Vinaigrette
- Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper
The red pepper sauce can easily be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. However, it literally takes 2 minutes to make (the first minute is spent taking the supplies out of the fridge). All you need to do is puree all of the ingredients for the red pepper sauce in a blender. Make sure you taste the sauce before adding any salt or pepper and then add according to your preference. If you think the sauce is too thick you can always add a little more olive oil. Easy. Sauce is done so take a sip of wine and get ready to make some crab cakes!
Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and sauté the red bell pepper, yellow onion and garlic until soft. (About 5 minutes).
Make sure that you place the cleaned crab meat in strainer (preferably a small mesh one) and drain out as much of the liquid as you can. In a large bowl mix the dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, old bay seasoning, lemon juice, and parsley. Add the sautéed pepper, onion, and garlic to the bowl and combine. Now fold in the crab with fork. Add half of the bread crumbs and make sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
Pour the remaining bread crumbs into a shallow bowl. Spoon out the crab mixture and form a small cake. Roll the cake in the breadcrumbs to ensure that there is a crunchy outer crust. Repeat until you use up all of the crab mixture.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and sauté the crab cakes about 4-5 minutes on each side (this will depend on how big you made your crab cakes) or until the cakes are cooked throughout. As they sauté sip some wine and prepare a platter with your fresh greens, cherry tomatoes, and lemon vinaigrette.
When the crab cakes are done, remove them from the sauté pan and place atop the fresh greens on your platter that you just prepared. You can add the red pepper sauce to the platter or serve on the side so that guests can add it to their own plates.
Since this was a nice light summer dinner, we made some freshly whipped french vanilla whipped cream to serve with fresh berries and chocolate covered espresso beans for dessert. The perfect ending to the perfect DC summer meal! Enjoy!
This recipe has three ingredients. Easy…..but soooo delicious and full of flavor and textures. The dates are sweet and slightly chewy, which contrasts with the creamy blue cheese and bacon that is salty and crisp. When you take a bite it all seems to just melt in your mouth with a burst of flavor! This was my first time actually making stuffed dates, although I have eaten them many times as appetizers out at restaurants. The last time I had these was at Founding Farmers here in DC and they were delicious. My attempt at recreating them was a success! I served this as an appetizer when I had a few friends over for dinner and would definitely make them again. You could easily assemble these ahead of time and keep them covered in the refrigerator and then simply put them in the oven when guests arrive. This works great as an hors d’oeuvre to pass around at a dinner party. The bacon could be substituted for prosciutto or pancetta. We happened to be drinking Chardonnay that night (typical…especially when there is a group of my girl friends here) and it went well but this would pair well with most wines, making it a great food to pass around at parties where people are drinking all different things. Enjoy!
- 12 oz. Dried Dates
- 3-4 oz. High Quality Blue Cheese (I used Point Reyes Blue Cheese)
- 5-6 strips Bacon (I used peppered bacon)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With a knife cut the dates in half (around the pit). Discard the pits. The empty space where the pit was now provides a pocket to stuff the blue cheese into. Stuff the middle of each date with blue cheese and piece the halves back together.
Cut the bacon strips into smaller pieces that are about 2-3 inches in length. You don’t want to wrap an entire piece of bacon around each date. Wrap each date with the smaller strips of bacon and place onto the baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Once all of the dates are wrapped place the baking sheet onto one of the upper wracks in the oven and bake until the bacon is crispy (about 10 minutes <<< plenty of time to sip away on that Chardonnay). Be sure to check periodically. Remove the dates from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. I added some extra crumbles of blue cheese to the platter (no one will complain about extra cheese). Serve with cocktail napkins and toothpicks. Sip some wine and enjoy!
When I think about eating duck I immediately think back to my time living in Beijing. Peking Roast Duck (北京烤鸭) is a dish that Beijing is famous for. Traditionally, the duck is served with small pancakes (almost like mini crepes) that you wrap the duck in with spring onions, cucumber sticks, and hoisin sauce.
Duck breast is much easier to tackle than roasting a whole duck and is still full of flavor. Duck breast can be found in most Asian markets and upscale grocery store. I found mine at Wegmans (I could spend hours in that store). The plum sauce that is added in this recipe can be found in any grocery store in the asian foods section. It normally comes in a small jar and is a thick syrupy sauce. Since the blueberry-plum sauce reduces to a thick sauce that is very sweet, I decided to serve something salty and savory alongside the duck. This bacon-garlic spinach has a nice smoky flavor to it with just a hint of tartness since I added 2 tablespoons of diced dried cranberries. We drank this with a Pinot Noir which paired great with the richness of this dish.
- 1 large Duck Breast
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon plum sauce
- Fresh cracked pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil for the marinade (additional olive oil to sauté)
- 3/4 cup fresh Blueberries
- 1/2 yellow onion (large chunks)
- 1 cup fresh Blueberries
- 3 tablespoons plum sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 1/2 cup red wine
- 5 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1/2 yellow onion finely chopped
- 3 strips bacon, chopped
- 3-4 large cloves of garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons dried cranberries finely chopped
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- Good olive oil
Preparing the Blueberry-Plum Sauce: I think its best to prepare the blueberry-plum sauce first because it can sit on the stove simmering as you prepare the duck breast and sauté the spinach. All you need to do is add the blueberries, plum sauce, red wine, and soy sauce to a small sauce pan. Sip some pinot noir as you bring the sauce up to a boil. Once the sauce has reached a boil, stir and allow it to simmer while you prepare the rest of the meal. Very easy. Sip some more pinot and move on to the duck breast!
Preparing the Duck Breast: Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl mix the rosemary, cinnamon, plum sauce, black pepper, sea salt and olive oil. Coat the duck breast in this marinade and allow it to sit for 3 minutes as you heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat.
Once the pan is hot add the olive oil and sauté the duck breast on each side until you see a golden brown (about 5 minutes per side). While the duck breast sautés place the yellow onion chunks and blueberries in the bottom of an oven proof glass dish. Once the duck breast is done sautéing transfer the duck to the glass dish and place on top of the blueberries and onions. Allow the duck to finish cooking in the oven (about 10 minutes).
Sauté the Bacon-Garlic Spinach: Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot add olive oil, followed by the bacon and onion. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the bacon is almost completely cooked through (about 4-5 minutes). Add the garlic and spinach. Remember the spinach will shrink as it cooks so if it looks like you are about to feed the Polish army with all the spinach in your kitchen, take a sip of wine and allow the spinach to sauté. With a wooden spoon be sure to combine the spinach with the onions and bacon. Sauté for about 4 minutes and spinach and add the fresh cracked black pepper and the chopped dried cranberries. Sip some pinot, stir once more and the spinach should be done!
Ready to serve: Remove the duck breast from the oven and allow it to sit for 3-5 minutes before slicing. Slice the duck breast into small medallions. Pile the spinach on each plate and top with the duck breast medallions. On top of the spoon a generous portion of the blueberry plum sauce and if desired serve extra sauce on the side of the plate. Sip some pinot and serve your duck! Cheers!
This vegetable torte is the perfect accompaniment to any summer party. It is colorful, beautiful, impressive and packed with fresh summer vegetables! This recipe is based on that of Ina Garten and can be found in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I made this recipe for the first time when I was high school. It was August and it was my Mom’s Birthday. So as a birthday present I decided to make dinner for my mom and I sat on the kitchen floor flipping through her endless stack of cookbooks when I came upon this recipe. At the time this recipe seemed intense (I think just because it contained the word “torte” and making a “torte” sounding intimidating) but its actually very simple. I made it in the early afternoon and we ate it that night. It is only fitting that I post this recipe today as it is my wonderful mother’s Birthday (everything I know about cooking I learned from her)! Happy Birthday Mom! When I make it for guests now I tend to make it a day ahead of time and leave it in the fridge. Its meant to be served at room temperature so just remove it an hour or so before you plan to serve it. This recipe is extremely flexible and you could easily add in things like roasted tomatoes, roasted potatoes, spinach or any other roasted (or sautéd) vegetables that you like. I added goat cheese, which is not in the original recipe. The goat cheese could easily be left out or substituted with Mozzarella or Feta (I think Feta would taste great and might try that next time). I served this with grilled flank steaks and red wine but vegetable dish would be a great side for most summer meals. Enjoy! And Happy Birthday Mom!
- 2 Zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 red onion, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- Good olive oil
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground black pepper
- 2 red bell peppers, halved, cored and seeded
- 2 yellow peppers, halved, cored and seeded
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
Preparing the Vegetables: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sauté the zucchini, onions, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat until the zucchini is tender. Season with the sea salt and pepper.
Brush the red and yellow peppers and eggplant with olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper and roast in the oven on a baking sheet for 40 minutes or until all vegetables are soft.
In a 6-inch round cake pan (or cheesecake pan), place each vegetable in a single, overlapping layer, topping each layer with some of the parmesan, goat cheese, sea salt and pepper. (Not too much salt!) Use eggplant as the first layer, then layer half of the zucchini and onions, then all of the red peppers, all of the yellow peppers. Then the remaining zucchini and onions, and finish with the remaining eggplant. (The order of these layers really doesn’t matter that much so if you mess up don’t worry about it.)
Cover the top of the vegetables with parchment paper and top with a 6-inch flat disk (who has a 6-inch flat disk? Not me….so just put something heavy on top of the parchment paper that will press the vegetables together. This could be a bowl, plate, marbles? just put something that is heavy enough to apply pressure.) Place on a baking sheet (oil WILL leak out) and chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours (but it can remain in the fridge for up to 24 hours). Remove from the fridge and drain the liquids. Transfer to a serving platter and allow it to come up to room temperature. Take a sip of wine and serve! Enjoy!
Hot summer days call for cold refreshing soup! I first made this soup for guests at a 4th of July party and it was met with much fanfare. My second time making it I added a bit of hot sauce. This soup is fast and easy to make as it only involves chopping vegetables and putting ingredients into a blender. This particular gazpacho recipe is based on Jose Andres’ recipe, which he credits his wife Patricia for coming up with. Earlier this summer I was at the Aspen Food and Wine Festival and watched Jose make this in a cooking demo. The recipe is also featured in his cookbook Made In Spain. The only difference between the original recipe and mine is that I added flat leaf parsley and a few drops of hot sauce. I also chopped the cucumber (to provide more crunch) instead of the suggested cucumber ribbons. Keeping with the spanish theme we drank this with a glass of Malbec. Enjoy!
(For the soup)
- 1 Cucumber chopped
- 1 Green Bell Pepper chopped
- 3 lbs ripe Roma Tomatoes chopped
- 2 cloves of Garlic
- 1/3 cup parsley chopped
- 2 cups of Water
- 1/4 cup of Sherry Vinegar
- 1/4 cup Oloroso Sherry
- 3/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
- Hot Sauce (at your discretion!)
(For the garnish)
- Garlic Croutons
- Parsley leaves
- Extra Virgin olive oil for drizzling
- 1/2 cucumber diced
- cherry tomatoes halved
- Sea Salt to taste
Chop the cucumber (for the soup), green bell pepper, and tomatoes. Add the chopped ingredients along with the garlic, parsley, water, sherry vinegar, Oloroso sherry, olive oil and hot sauce (don’t add too much as you can always add more later after tasting) to the blender. Blend until all of the are well combined and the soup looks like a puree. You should keep the blender on for a minimum of 2 minutes. Transfer the soup to a serving bowl or as I used a glass vase (it looks pretty when you pour the soup out of a glass vase) and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
To prepare the garnish place 4-5 croutons in each bowl. Add halved cherry tomatoes, parsley leaves and diced cucumber.
Once the soup has chilled you are ready to serve! Pour the soup onto of the garnish into the bowls. Again pouring out of a glass vase adds a nice touch but is certainly not required.
Drizzle olive oil over the top of each bowl and add sea salt to taste. Take a sip of Malbec and enjoy your refreshing gazpacho!