Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

It suddenly occurred to me, after I received a lovely comment from someone who apparently had been searching for my Carrot Cake recipe for years, that I had not included the recipe here on my blog. Well here is the link. 

http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/105-12142007-1456360.html

As Ruth Reichl stated in the Gourmet compilation, “it is one of the best we’ve ever tasted…” Enjoy!

Thai Curry Cornish hens with couscous

The finished cornish hens on couscous with the curry sauce

The finished cornish hens on couscous with the curry sauce

While at work today, I penned an ingredient list for what I think is the perfect fusion of Thai and Indian cuisines.  This marinade makes enough for two cornish hens.  The cayenne pepper lends a little kick and the peanut butter and coconut milk provide the perfect foundation for the curry powder.  A bold and delicious dish. Serve the hens on top of couscous that has been flavored with a little of the marinade, butter, salt and pepper. 

1 can light or full fat coconut milk (not cream of coconut)

3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

3 teaspoons curry powder

Salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried ginger

Splash of rice wine vinegar

Dash of cayenne pepper

5-6 sprigs of cilantro

Whirl all ingredients in the blender and place in a small saucepan.  Heat over low flame until just up to the simmer and turn off the heat.  Let cool. 

Take 2 cornish hens and remove the backbones with kitchen shears and lay flat. Make a few slit in the drumsticks of each hen.  Pour about half the marinade on them and place in the fridge for about an hour. Just pour it out. Do not cross contaminate the marinade.  Keep marinade warm on the side. This will be your sauce to pour on the hens and for dipping too!

Preheat the grill to high and grill the cornish hens for about 8-10 minutes on each side, until the juices run clear when pierced.  While hens are on the grill make the couscous.

Couscous:

1 cup of couscous

1 cup of water

3 tablespoons of the marinade

1 tablespoon butter

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup frozen peas

Bring the water, the butter, the marinade, the seasoning and the peas to a boil in a saucepan. As soon as it comes to a boil, stir in the couscous.  Take off the heat and leave for 10 minutes.  Fluff with fork and season with salt and pepper.  A nice variation would be to add 1/2 cup of currants to the liquid and then 1/2 cup of pistacios or almond slices to the finished couscous (for some crunch).

Place the couscous on a platter and place the hens on top.  Drizzle remaining marinade over top of hens and serve. Serves 4

The simplest Chicken Curry

NOTE: If you want to turn this sauce into a Simple Chicken Curry, double the marinade recipe and add some warm chicken broth (maybe a half cup) to loosen it. Grill or broil some chicken pieces (cut pieces from one chicken) and add them into the curry sauce and simmer for a few minutes. Or, in the alternative, take boneless chicken breast (enough to be coated nicely with all that delicious sauce) and cut into pieces, sautee in olive oil until tender and done, and place in the warm sauce to warm through. Garnish with some chopped cilantro and serve with plain basmati rice and warm naan.

Walnut Basil Lemon Pesto on Pasta

Pasta with Walnut pesto

Pasta with Walnut pesto

Our dear friend Michael Murtha hosted a few friends to his home this weekend wherein he claimed he would prepare just a few appetizer items before we headed out for the evening.  Well to Michael a few appetizer items included baked shrimp in tomato sauce, paper thin prosciutto with buffalo mozzarella AND the most delicious orechiette with pistacio pesto sauce.  I must have had three portions. It was so delicious. I decided to recreate it, but I used walnuts instead and also changed the pasta to mezze penne.  I am writing this from work so I cannot post the photo I took last night, but suffice to say that it was delicious and I must give Michael his props for creating his dish and the inspired dish which resulted.  Enjoy!

Pasta with Walnut Pesto

1 clove of garlic
5 leaves of basil, torn
Salt and Pepper
2 cups of toasted walnuts
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
Somewhere between 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup of “good” olive oil
1/4 cup of light cream
1/2 cup of grated parmesan or pecorino romano
1/2 cup of cooking water from the pasta (more or less)
1 pound of Pasta of your choice (I used Mezze Penne)
More parmeggiano reggiano (or pecorino) and pepper when you serve

Boil the pasta and reserve the 1/2 cup of cooking water.  In food processor place all the ingredients except the oil, cheese and cream.  Process until the walnuts are chopped finely and then drizzle the oil into the feed tube. You don’t want it too oily so once you see the walnuts moving freely in the pesto, it’s fine.  Process for a few seconds to emulsify.  Turn off processor and stir in cream and parmesan cheese.  Toss over the pasta adding some of the reserved cooking water as you see fit to make it as dry or wet as you like.  Reseason with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately passing more cheese around to your guests!  Serves 4-6.

Variation: Add 1/2 cup of crumbled bacon from 3-4 strips of bacon crisped up either in a frying pan or in a hot oven. The saltiness of the bacon works with the sweetness of the walnuts.

A lighter Alfredo

A lighter Alfredo

A lighter Alfredo

 

This spaghetti uses chicken broth instead of the proverbial “heart attack on a plate” that conventional alfredo sauce kindly provides.  This recipe is adapted from Lydia Bastianich.  She does not bind the sauce with flour as I do, and I find it necessary so that when the eggs are added, they have something to cling to, thereby avoiding curdling. 

6 slices of bacon

4 cups of chicken broth

1 1/2 cups of cooked and chopped chicken breast (1/4 inch dice is fine)

1 pound spaghetti/fettucini

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons light cream

3 tablespoons of wondra flour

1/4 cup of peas

Salt and Pepper

3/4 cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 400.  In a Large oven proof Dutch oven (4-5 quart), place the bacon.  Put into the oven until the bacon is crisp. We do this in the actual pan that we are going to make the sauce in so that the residual bacon flavor is there. Remove from oven and drain bacon on paper towels.  Chop finely. Let pan cool and drain all of the fat away.  Blot pan with paper towels. Discard paper towels!

Place pan on medium heat and add the chicken broth, the peas and the three tablespoons of WONDRA flour.  Regular flour will work if you first dilute it in a few tablespoons of water and then add. Wondra simply stirs right in as you all know!  Simmer this mixture for a few minutes (add some salt and pepper) while you boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water. 

Beat the eggs in a small bowl and add the cream, and a good dosage of salt and pepper.  When the pasta is ready, drain it.  Add the pasta to the hot sauce and take the entire pot off the heat.  Slowly drop in the eggs while tossing.  It will look soupy at this point but do not worry it will firm up considerably. Add the chicken, the bacon and the cheese.  Taste the sauce and reseason with salt and pepper. 

Cover for a minute or two while the sauce binds and thickens.  Toss again and serve with additional parmesan cheese.

Tortellini Salad

Tortellini Salad

Tortellini Salad

 

This is the most organic of recipes (am I using that word correctly?). Organic in that you throw in a little of this and a little of that.   Two pounds of cheese tortellini, boiled in salted water and chilled in a quick ice bath and drained. Add 1 cup of peas, defrosted in the microwave, and 1 cup of chopped basil leaves.  Now, the variations on tortellini salad are as many as there are vegetables in your fridge.  Carrot sticks, asparagus, brussel sprouts, fennel?  Just coat the vegetables with olive oil and roast in a 400F oven.  Then toss with the tortellini.  For a final touch, make up your favorite balsamic vinegraitte, toss with a generous grating of parmesan (1 cup) and you are ready to go.  Enjoy!

Another easy appetizer

This recipe I must credit to Christine Skordeles, my loving cousin.  She arrived yesterday with dates, goat cheese and melon.  She pitted each date, stuffed it with goat cheese and wrapped it in a thin slice of canteloupe. As you can see the slices of melon are not as thin as they should be, but given that we don’t operate heavy machinery (read: Meat slicer) in our home, a knife had to do! Refrigerate them to chill the melon and serve.  Again, a simple, delicious starter!