Dinner, Recipes, Sandwiches, Vegetarian

Cheese & Nut Loaf + Burgers

February 8, 2017

Cheese & Nut Loaf

During the holidays last year, I wanted to serve a main dish that would appeal to my vegetarian guests, but also be enjoyable for my other guests as well.  This cheese and nut loaf turned out to be the perfect choice.  It bakes into a gorgeous loaf that looks beautiful and tastes delicious.  You can serve it alone or drizzle a vegetarian mushroom gravy or béchamel sauce over the slices before serving. The recipe comes from Deborah Madison’s The Greens cookbook named after the successful Greens Restaurant in San Francisco that still exists today.  Unfortunately I don’t own the cookbook and it seems to be out of print, but after reading all the great comments on-line from those who have made it and having made it myself, I can see why everyone loves it.

Cheese & Nut Burger

My husband John had a great idea, and that was to shape the cheese and nut loaf mixture into patties. This turned out to be our favorite way to eat the cheese and nut loaf.  The burgers bake in just 30 minutes or so and they are so tasty nestled in a hamburger bun and topped with all of your favorite burger condiments.  Another thing I’d like to mention is that both the loaf and burgers freeze beautifully and can be microwaved or pan-fried for another excellent meal.

Cremini & Morel Mushrooms

Use whatever mushrooms are available to you.  I used creminis and morels. These gorgeous morels were sent to us by my stepdaughter Katie who hunts for mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest.

Parsley, Marjoram, Thyme

One of the things I love most about our garden are the assorted herbs that we grow. If you don’t have them, most markets carry a nice assortment of herbs these days but you can also use dried herbs as well.

Patties in Cooking Rings

You will need to cook the brown rice in advance. Otherwise all of the other ingredients can be put together as you prepare the recipe. The mixture is gently formed and patted into baking rings that I made of aluminum foil.  This keeps the patties from spreading when baking (they will flatten and become uneven when baking without the rings).

Baked Cheese & Nut Burgers

Cheese & Nut Burgers

And here we have perfectly shaped plump burgers.

Cheese & Nut Burger

Cheese & Nut Loaf

Cheese & Nut Loaf + Burgers
 
Adapted from Deborah Madison's recipe
Author:
Serves: 1 loaf or 10 - 12 burgers
Ingredients
  • 1½ tablespoons butter
  • 1¼ cups finely diced onion
  • 1 cup (packed) mushrooms, chopped fine
  • 1½ cups walnuts, toasted
  • ½ cup raw unsalted cashews, toasted
  • 2½ tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped marjoram (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped sage (or ½ heaping teaspoon dried)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1½ cups cooked brown rice
  • 8 ounces grated cheese (I used extra sharp cheddar and yogurt cheese)
  • 1 cup cottage cheese (I used lactose free)
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Spread walnuts and cashews on a small rimmed baking sheet and toast until very lightly golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer nuts to a plate to cool slightly. Chop nuts finely and set aside.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.
  4. For the loaf: Butter a 9" loaf pan and line with parchment paper allowing the paper to overhang on the sides to allow easy removal of the loaf.
  5. Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until they are translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until they are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer mixture to a large bowl. Stir in chopped nuts, herbs, garlic, brown rice, cheese, cottage cheese, and eggs. Mix in salt and a few grinds of pepper. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the loaf pan, smoothing the top lightly.
  6. Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before transferring loaf to a plate.
  7. For the burgers: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. The patties will spread and flatten when baking unless you use cooking rings which will keep them uniform in size. I use aluminum foil folded over a few times and stapled the ends together to make sturdy, disposable rings.
  8. Divide the mixture into 10 - 12 portions. Gently form the patties so they fit snugly in the cooking rings. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until the burgers are nicely browned. Remove cooking rings and serve burgers on toasted buns with your favorite accompaniments.
  9. Both the loaf and burgers freeze nicely.
  10. *For 4 - 6 burgers cut the recipe in half. The full recipe will also make an 8x4" loaf plus two burgers.

 

Dessert, Fruit, Lactose Free, Recipes

Lilikoi Cream Cheese Tart

January 26, 2017

Lilikoi Cream Cheese Tart

The lilikoi fruit is like no other…tart, sweet , aromatic, exotic, delicious, and the plants do very well in our tropical climate.  The lilikoi blossom is one of the most gorgeous of all flowers though the fruit on the other hand is nondescript, tucked between the plant’s vigorous vines.  As the fruits ripen, they drop to the ground.  The skins will begin to shrivel up and look quite homely, but the pulp inside will be at its peak flavor.  At this stage you might choose to eat the pulp and seeds alone or with yogurt, or strain the juice and use it to make a refreshing lilikoi margarita.  The vines are very productive, so I freeze the juice in small containers to use later for lilikoi jelly.  This recipe for lilikoi cream cheese tart is one of the most beautiful and delicious desserts. It is a terrific culmination to a fine dinner party.

Lilikoi Cream Cheese Tart

Lilikoi Flower

The most beautiful blossom!

Lilikoi

Most fruits when peeled or sliced are faintly aromatic.  The lilikoi on the other hand is exotically fragrant.  It’s hard to describe the scent but your entire home will smell wonderful.

Lilikoi Pulp

I use a food mill to process the lilikoi fruit.  The seeds and heavy pulp are left behind leaving you with the most fragrant lilikoi juice.

Lilikoi Glaze

The lilikoi cream cheese tart does not require a glaze however if you prefer to use one, there are a couple of options.  Sometimes I gently soften homemade lilikoi jelly in the microwave and brush it over the top of tart. Other times I will prepare a glaze made with lilikoi juice, sugar, and gelatin that I adapted from The Baking Wizard.  Either way, it’s best to do this the day you plan to serve it as the glaze has a tendency to soak into the cream cheese tart.  You may also add some of the lilikoi seeds to the glaze for a pop of color.

Lilikoi Cream Cheese Tart

 

Lilikoi Cream Cheese Tart
 
Inspired by Little Ferraro Kitchen blog
Author:
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • Special Equipment - 10" tart pan with removable bottom
  • For the crust
  • 13 full sheets Honey Maid honey graham crackers
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (or butter), melted
  • For the Cream Cheese Tart
  • 1 8 ounce container + 9 level tablespoons (1½ c + 1 tablespoon total) of Green Valley lactose free cream cheese at room temperature (or regular cream cheese)
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon fresh lilikoi juice
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • For the glaze
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1¼ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 5 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons fresh lilikoi juice
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sugar
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Pulse graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground. Add sugar and pulse a few times to combine with the graham cracker crumbs. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in melted Buttery Sticks. Press mixture into the bottom of the pan and up the sides. I find that using a small pyrex custard cup helps with forming the crust perfectly around the edges. Disposable gloves come in handy as well when pressing the crust into the pan. Bake the crust on a baking sheet for 13-15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove to a cooling rack while you prepare the filling.
  3. Using an electric hand held mixer on medium speed, mix together the room temperature cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add lilikoi juice and mix until combined. With a rubber spatula, stir in the beaten egg. Pour mixture into the graham cracker crust. Bake on a cookie sheet for 40 minutes. The cream cheese tart is done when the cake's center has a slight jiggle when you gently shake the pan. It will firm up as it cools. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before adding your glaze.
  4. Once the tart is cool, prepare the glaze. Place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let this sit undisturbed for a few minutes. Meanwhile in a small saucepan, combine the lilikoi juice and sugar over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture feels hot to your fingertip. The mixture should not boil or the gelatin may not set properly. Remove the pan from the heat and pour half of the hot liquid into the gelatin mixture. Stir quickly to dissolve the gelatin making sure the mixture is smooth. Transfer the gelatin mixture back to the pan, stirring to combine with the remaining juice. Prepare an ice water bath in a medium bowl that will comfortably fit the saucepan. Place the saucepan in the ice water bath and with a spatula stir the lilikoi mixture constantly until it is cold and becomes syrupy. Pour some of the glaze over the cooled cream cheese tart spreading it evenly. You may not need all of the glaze. Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours. Another option for a light glaze is to soften lilikoi jelly in the microwave and brush it over the top of the tart.

 

 

Cookies, Dessert, Lactose Free, Recipes

Thin & Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies

January 4, 2017

Thin & Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies

My late aunty Ruby was an outstanding cook and baker.  Both she and my mom who were sisters, had a passion for cooking which meant the rest of the family shared many enjoyable meals together.  We were always thrilled to be invited to aunty Ruby’s home for dinner, knowing that something good was going on in her kitchen.  Luckily, I have aunty Ruby’s somen salad recipe, one of my all time favorite meals.  But I regret that I never did not ask for her chocolate chip cookie recipe.  This recipe comes from Canal House Cooks Every Day.  The cookies are ultra thin, crisp, and full of chocolate chips, just the way I remember aunty Ruby’s cookies were.

Chocolate Chips

As you may notice below, there’s no shortage of chocolate chips in these cookies.

Thin & Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies

The cookie batter is very soft and light.  Be sure to leave lots of space (4 inches) between each cookie when baking them so they don’t fuse together.  Dairy products don’t seem to agree with me anymore so I substituted Earth Balance Buttery Sticks in place of butter.  This makes the cookies lactose free for those of you with the same unfortunate problem.  I cut the recipe in half but feel free to double the recipe below which will make about 4 dozen delightful cookies.

Thin & Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thin & Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Author:
Serves: 2 dozen
Ingredients
  • 5 ounces Buttery Sticks at room temperature (or regular butter)
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (149g) light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (75g) granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 scant teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ c + 3 tablespoons (133g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in a large bowl. Mix on medium speed until light, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and mix on medium speed until well blended, about 1 minute.
  3. Whisk the flour and baking soda together, then add to the dough, continuing to mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Using a spatula, quickly mix the dough, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Drop the batter by the well-rounded tablespoon, about 4 inches apart. Don't be tempted to leave less space between the batter, the cookies spread a lot!
  5. Bake until golden brown, about 9 - 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Dinner, Korean, Lactose Free, Pasta, Recipes, Salad, Side Dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies

Chilled Somen with Spicy Cucumbers

December 7, 2016

Chilled Somen with Spicy Cucumbers

Cold noodles tossed with crisp vegetables are one of my favorite lunch dishes.  I often make a big bowl of Aunty Ruby’s Somen Salad and take it to work to share with my friends.  This recipe calls for perciatelli or bucatini pasta but I couldn’t resist using delicate somen noodles.  They cook up in 3 minutes and are the perfect partner for the spicy cucumbers.  I found this delightful recipe in Martha Stewart Living magazine. The subject of this particular article was Korean Barbecue and a talented Korean cook, Mrs. Pai.  This is one of her original side dishes.

Somen Noodles

Keiki Cukes

These beautiful “Keiki Cukes” are grown on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Big Island Produce is a hydroponic farm that produces cucumbers all year long.  They are super crunchy and don’t have any seeds.  We use them to make dill pickles, bread & butter pickles, and add them to all types of salads.

Chopped Scallions

Korean Chili Flakes

Korean chili flakes or gochugaru (not to be confused with red pepper powder), has a unique balance of sweet and smoky flavors with medium heat.  I have heard that hotter varieties are available but the one I buy from Whole Spice tends to be just the right heat for me.

Spicy Cucumbers

The cucumbers are mixed with Korean chili flakes, scallions, garlic, and sesame oil before being tossed with cold noodles.

somen-1-2

Chilled Somen with Spicy Cucumbers

Chilled Somen with Spicy Cucumbers
 
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Magazine
Author:
Serves: 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish
Ingredients
  • 10 ounces thinly sliced small cucumbers (Keiki, Japanese, Persian)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ tablespoons Korean chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed in a garlic press
  • 4 tablespoons roasted sesame oil, divided (Kadoya brand recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 package (3 bundles - 8 oz.) somen noodles
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • salt for seasoning
Preparation
  1. Toss cucumbers with ½ teaspoon salt, and let sit for 30 minutes. Transfer cucumbers to a clean dish towel and wring to remove excess liquid from cucumbers. Transfer to a large bowl. Add Korean chili flakes, sugar, scallions, garlic, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, and the vinegar. Mix seasonings into cucumbers; let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook somen noodles according to package instructions. Shirakiku brand cooks for just 3 minutes. Immediately drain, rinse under cold water and place noodles in an ice bath until well chilled. Drain noodles well and add to cucumbers, tossing to combine. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and the soy sauce. Season with salt and additional Korean chili flakes before serving. Leftovers are delicious the following day.

 

Beef, Dinner, Japanese, Lactose Free, Pork, Recipes, Sandwiches

Japanese Burgers

November 26, 2016

Japanese Burger

The moment I saw this recipe from the New York Times I knew I wanted to make it right away.  I was curious to know why these were called Japanese burgers.  Upon reading the ingredients, panko bread crumbs, soy sauce, and the combination of ground beef and pork, the answer was clear.  The recipe comes from Tadashi Ono, owner of Matsuri restaurant in New York. Tadashi is Japanese.  The article also lists a recipe for wasabi (Japanese!) ketchup to go along with the burger. In the end, it didn’t matter what they called these burgers.  They are so good I just call them “ono burgers!”

Ground Sirloin & Ground Pork

Times market in Kihei sells specific types of excellent ground beef (including sirloin and chuck), rather than the usual generic version. Whole Foods market ground the pork for me while I waited at the counter.

Ground Sirloin & Ground Pork

Panko, Milk, Onion, Soy Sauce

A bit of panko and milk moisten the meat.  Very finely minced onion and soy sauce flavor the ground beef and pork along with a little salt and pepper.

Japanese Burger

These are juicy, moist burgers.  We heated leftover patties wrapped in foil in the toaster oven the following day and they were equally delicious as they were on the first day.  In place of the wasabi ketchup suggested in the article, we opted to mix up sriracha with ketchup because sriracha enhances nearly every food imaginable (pizza, noodles, eggs, mayonnaise, ketchup).

Japanese Burger

Japanese Burgers
 
Adapted from the New York Times
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ½ cup panko
  • ¼ cup 2% or whole milk
  • 10 ounces ground sirloin
  • 10 ounces ground pork
  • ¼ cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1½ teaspoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • sesame oil for coating hands
  • 4 brioche buns for serving
Preparation
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the panko bread crumbs and milk and let rest for a few minutes. If the mixture seems too dry add a few extra drops of milk to moisten the bread crumbs.
  2. Add sirloin, pork, onion, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Knead the meat until it becomes sticky and binds together. Divide into 4 equal parts (a scale comes in handy).
  3. Lightly dab your hands with sesame oil. Using your palms, roll each part of the meat into a ball, then pat the ball flat, shifting it from hand to hand to form a ½-inch-thick patty. Make a shallow indentation across the center of the patty to keep it from puffing while it grills.
  4. Grill the burgers, flipping twice, until browned and cooked through with no pink in the middle, about 10 minutes (160 degrees). Serve on buns, topped with spicy ketchup and shredded iceberg lettuce.

 

 

Appetizers, Dinner, Italian, Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian, Veggies

Puff Pastry Tomato Tarts

November 14, 2016

Tomato Tart

These tasty tomato tarts are so easy to make when using ready-made frozen puff pastry.  Of course if you have time you could make your own, but using already prepared puff pastry reduces your prep time. The key to a delicious tart is to use really good tomatoes.  You want tomatoes that are meaty with few seeds so that the crust doesn’t get soggy.  Our tomato plants underproduced this summer, however, we were lucky to have a handful of really nice tomatoes that I used for tomato sauce, salsa, Mexican rice, salads, and these tarts.

Homegrown Tomatoes

Peeled Tomatoes

I didn’t peel the tomatoes the first time I made the tart but did so the next time around.  The tomato skins don’t soften much or break down when baked so peeling them ensures that when you take a bite of the tart you’re not left with the tomato skin pulling away from the rest of the slice.

Unbaked Tomato Tart with Feta & Thyme

You can make one large tart or divide the puff pastry into two equal portions and make two tarts.  Below I made one with pesto and another with feta cheese.  It was nice to have a variety of flavors.  These little tarts  make perfect appetizers for a small party.  You can make them a couple of hours in advance and still count on the crust being flaky and crisp.

Pesto & Feta Tomato Tarts

Tomato Tart with Thyme

The tomatoes above were not peeled.  You may notice the skins did not cook down much which means that when you take a bite of the tomato tart the skin may come off in one piece.  It’s definitely OK to leave the skins on though if this isn’t bothersome to you.

Tomato Tart with Feta & Thyme

Puff Pastry Tomato Tarts
 
Adapted from Canal House Cooks Every Day
Author:
Serves: 6 - 8 as an appetizer
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen ready-to-bake puff pastry sheet such as Pepperidge Farm
  • 2 - 3 tomatoes, peeled, cored, and sliced (about ⅓-inch thick)
  • 3 branches fresh thyme
  • crumbled feta (optional)
  • basil pesto (optional)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • pepper
  • Maldon or other crunchy sea salt
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit a large baking sheet pan. Place parchment paper on counter. Remove puff pastry sheet from the freezer and place it on the parchment paper. Let puff pastry defrost for 20 minutes.
  3. Roll out puff pastry on the parchment paper to measure 9½ x 12 inch rectangle. If making two tarts divide the pastry in half. Once rolled out, transfer puff pastry (on parchment paper) to your baking sheet. Using the tip of a small paring knife, lightly score a border about ½ inch from the edge of the pastry. Pierce the dough inside the border all over with the tines of a fork to prevent the central area from puffing up too much during baking.
  4. If using only tomatoes: Arrange tomatoes over the pastry. Season with pepper. Drizzle or brush a bit of olive oil over the tomatoes. Scatter fresh thyme leaves over the top.
  5. If using pesto: Brush pesto over the pastry (except border). Arrange tomatoes on the pesto and season with pepper. Drizzle or brush a bit of olive oil over the tomatoes.
  6. If using feta: Arrange tomatoes on pastry and season with pepper. Scatter crumbled feta between the tomatoes. Drizzle or brush a bit of olive oil over the tomatoes. Scatter fresh thyme leaves over the top.
  7. Bake tart(s) for 30 - 35 minutes until the pastry is crisp and edges are lightly browned. Season with Maldon salt.

 

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