Sunday, May 23, 2010

Utilizing My Cookbook Collection: Cod with Leeks and Tomatoes from Everyday Cooking

I love cookbooks. I find them very inspirational. Especially ones with lots of pretty pictures.  

This is probably why I needed to own Everyday Food: Great Food Fast cookbook.  In addition to carrying the Martha Stewart brand name, it also has a picture of every single recipe.

But while I love looking at cookbooks, I rarely use them.  My collection is not too big yet, but it is hard to justify buying ANY when I fail to utilize the ones I already have. ( For example, although I have owned this Everyday Food: Great Food Fast cookbook for almost a year and a half, this is only the second recipe I have made from it). 

So I am making a concerted effort to try more recipes from my cookbooks.  And this recipe was a logical choice for me. It was one of the recipes that first caught my eye when I initially looked thru the book.  I have been trying to eat more fish. AND I have been wanting to cook with leeks, because I've never cooked with them before.

I did a pretty good job of sticking to the recipe, too.  The only adaptation I made was to add some carrot, because I thought it would be a good addition. 

Cod with Leeks and Tomatoes (and Carrots)
barely adapted from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast

2 medium Leeks
2 large Carrots
1 tsp Lemon Zest
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tbsp Olive Oil
3 sprigs Fresh Thyme
Coarse Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
2 ½ cups Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
4 Cod Fillets, 6-8oz a piece

Thinly slice white and light green parts of the leeks. Rinse thoroughly until no grit remains. Pat dry.

Peel carrots, then use peeler to make thinly sliced carrot shavings.

In a 9x13 glass dish toss together leeks, carrots, lemon juice and zest, leaves from the sprigs thyme, and a little salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake at 450° until leeks soften, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice tomatoes in half and season both sides of the cod fillets with a little salt and pepper.

Remove baking dish from oven and stir tomatoes into the leek and carrot mixture. Place cod fillets on top and place foil back over the dish. Continue baking until fish is cooked thru, about 15-20 minutes.   


 I'm sorry to say I just did not think this recipe was anything special.  The vegetables came out pretty good. I think the carrots were a good addition that worked well with the leeks and tomatoes. I haven't cooked much with thyme and I don't think it is my favorite herb, but I can't blame the recipe for that.  

My main reason for being a bit disappointed was the fish itself: it just wasn't seasoned enough and came out pretty bland.  If I make this again I will have to try to give the cod more flavor.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Veggie Taco Filling

I adore tacos. All kinds of tacos. 

Crunchy shell, four tortilla, or corn tortilla. All yummy. Bean filling, rice filling, meat filling, or any combination. Then of course there's fish and shrimp, fried or barbecued. And potato tacos! Cheese baked to melt onto the shell, or sprinkled cold over the top. Tex-mex style. Baja style. 

OK. You probably get the point.

And one thing I have been wanting to work out a recipe for is a veggie taco filling. Diced up veggies and beans, sauteed and taco seasoned. I made a couple of half hearted attempts awhile back, but never really came up with anything that I was especially happy with.  Mostly because I was being lazy about spices.

But I think those tres leches cupcakes inspired me. Because I left work that day intending to make one thing for dinner (I can't remember what) and by the time I got home I was dead set on figuring out the veggie taco filling once and for all.

Veggie Taco Filling
(about 4 servings)

2 Tbsp Oil
½ cup Onion, diced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 can Corn (or about 1 cup of kernels)
1 can Black Beans (or about 1 cup), mostly drained but not rinsed
1 cup Tomatoes, diced
2 medium Zucchini, diced small enough to mix with corn and beans
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Chili Powder
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp Cumin
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
a pinch of Salt

Heat oil in saute pan or large frying pan over medium heat

Add onion and cook until soft

Add garlic and cook about one more minute, until fragrant

Add zucchini and cook until it starts to soften and is almost cooked through

Add black beans, corn, tomatoes, and spices. Turn up heat if needed. Continue heating until zucchini is cooked and mixture is heated throughout.

Serve with tortillas and all your favorite taco toppings!

I am pretty pleased with this recipe. It has a little bit of kick, but not too much. And I like the contrast with the sweet corn.  The sweet corn might add too much sweetness for some people though, or even for me if I'm in a certain mood, so I might omit it sometimes.  I think some diced up red bell pepper would also be a food addition to the mix, so I might try that next time.  This is probably just as much a starting point as a firm recipe.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tres por Cinqo: Tres Leche Cupcakes

I figure with all the days I bring baked goods to work for no reason, any possible excuse warrants doing it for a reason and therefor baking something for cinqo de mayo was a given. I wanted to let the occasion inspire me, so I decided on tres leches.

I didn't really want to do a cake though, I wanted to do cupcakes, so I decided to try individual sizing the recipe.

I'm not going to lie, it is a little more work then doing a full size cake. The cupcakes also came out a bit less milk soaked, although that could have been remedied with more patience/effort. No one would describe what I produced as dry though, and one co-worker mentioned that they appreciated a little less soaking because she finds tres leches to often come out too soggy. I guess it's a matter of taste.

All that really matters is that I was happy with how these turned out; tasty AND pretty.

Tres Leches Cupcakes
(Adapted from The Pioneer Women)

1 cup All-purpose Flour
1-1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
5 Eggs, separated
1 cup Sugar, divided
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/3 cup Milk

Tres Leche Mix:
1 can Evaporated Milk
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/4 cup Heavy Cream

Whipped Cream Icing:
1 pint Heavy Cream
3 Tabelspoons Sugar
1 splash Vanilla
4 Tablespoons juice from cherries

Approx 30 Maraschino Cherries

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

Beat egg yolks and ¾ cup sugar until the mixture turns light yellow. Add milk and vanilla.

Combine egg yolk mixture with dry flour mixture, stirring gently just until combined.

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then add final ¼ cup of sugar and continue beating until egg whites are stiff.

Fold beaten egg whites gently into the batter with egg yolks just until combined.

Thoroughly spray cupcake pans. Fill each cup about half way with batter. It is best to work quickly, because the batter will start to fall. I had good luck with my first 3 pans (I can only bake 1 pan at a time in my oven.)

Bake 8-10 minutes, until tops turn golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Wait about 5 minutes, then gently remove cupcakes from the pan. I used a fork the pull the cake away from the pan around the edges then they came out fine.

Allow cupcakes to cool completely. Then combine evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and ¼ cup heavy cream in a bowl. Whisk to combine thoroughly.

Cut waxed paper or parchment paper into squares. Put the cupcakes back into the muffin pan upside down in the squares. This will work better then muffin cups because the paper will be loose around the edges allowing the milk mixture to drip down the sides and be better absorbed by more of the cake.

Poke each cupcake with a fork 2 or 3 times.

Pour milk mixture over the upside down cupcakes, about 1 teaspoon at a time. Go thru the whole batch and then start again, repeat several times. At first the milk will pool on top but will be soaked in when you start again. It is amazing how much liquid this cake can hold!

I started by focusing on the tops and after 2 or 3 times I started letting some of the liquid drip down the sides. I repeated about 6 or 7 times. Continue repeating until the cakes seem thoroughly soaked and the sides of the cake are moist and sticky after rested a bit to absorb the liquid.

Let the cakes sit about 30 minutes. In the meantime beat the remaining pint of heavy cream with 3 Tablespoons sugar. (Honestly, this makes way too much whipped cream, but I made the whole recipe because I wasn't sure how much to use.)

When soft peaks form, add a splash of vanilla and juice from maraschino cherries. I was hoping to flavor the whipped cream with the cherry juice, but it wasn't as strong as I hoped and didn't soften the whipped cream, so add even more if you want a stronger flavor.

Continue beating until firm peaks form. I went a bit past standard whipped cream.

After cakes have been sitting for 30 minutes, top with whipped cream and a cherry. Store in the fridge.