Pretty Pizza

Alex made a gorgeous pizza tonight that I couldn’t resist sharing (in the photography sense, you better believe we ate the entire thing). How lucky am I?


Chicken Piccata

Knowing that we had leftover wild rice and salad fixings in the refrigerator, I decided to whip up an easy chicken recipe for dinner tonight. I turned to a classic favorite, the New Best Recipe cookbook, and found a traditional chicken piccata recipe that didn’t look too heavy. I picked up some Marin Sun Farms chicken breasts and went to work as soon as Alex headed home. The dish came together in less than 15 minutes and was a delightful surprise. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about chicken breasts! I rarely buy them because I much prefer roasting the entire bird for a more flavorful dinner (and then you get stock too) but I can easily see adding this into the monthly rotation.

Chicken Piccata (serves 4)

2 large lemons
6 boneless chicken breasts (5-6 ounces each), tenderloins removed, fat trimmed (I pounded mine with a meat tenderizer to get thinner cutlets)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup bleached all purpose flour
4 TB veggie oil
1 small shallot or garlic clove, minced
1 cup chicken broth
2 TB small capers, rinsed
3 TB butter, softened
2 TB fresh parsley leaves, minced

1) Heat oven to 200 degrees and put a heatproof serving plate on the lower rack.

2) Halve one lemon pole to pole. Trim the ends from one half and cut it crosswise into slices 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick; set aside. Juice the remaining half and whole lemon to obtain 1/4 cup lemon juice.

3) Sprinkle both sides of the cutlets with salt and pepper. Measure the flour into a shallow baking dish and coat each cutlet with flour and then shake off the excess.

4) Heat 2 TB oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Saute two cutlets until lightly browned on the first side, about 2-3 minutes. Turn and cut until the second side is lightly browned, 2-3 minutes longer. Remove the cutlets from the pan and place in the pre-heated plate in the oven to keep warm. Add 2 TB veggie oil to the skillet and brown the remaining cutlets.

5) Add the shallot/garlic to the empty skillet and return the skillet to medium heat. Saute until fragrant (about 10-30 seconds max). Add the broth and lemon slices and increase the heat to high. Scrape the brown bits with a wooden spoon and simmer until the liquid reduces to about 1/3 cup, about 4 minutes. Add the lemon juice and rinsed capers and simmer until the sauce reduces to 1/3 cup, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and swirl in the butter until it melts and thickens the sauce. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

Carrot and Leek Frittata With Tarragon

I’m guessing that the majority of my minuscule readership has heard of Martha Rose Shulman who writes for the Recipes for Health section in the New York Times. I subscribe to her column in my Google reader and am constantly “starring” recipes that I’d like to try. Today I had an immediate urge to try her carrot and leek frittata with tarragon as I had all of the ingredients in the refrigerator. Alex just brought the CSA box home last night and already, I’ve used up all of the leeks, carrots, asparagus, and potatoes. I love when that happens!

I followed the recipe perfectly except I didn’t have any fresh tarragon so I substituted 4 tsp of dried for the fresh stuff. The result? Divine. I’m excited to play around with other veggies and perhaps even some cheese now that I know how easy this is.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely sliced or diced carrot
1 1/2 cups finely sliced leeks
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup finely chopped tarragon

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat in a 10-inch heavy nonstick skillet. Add the carrots and leeks. Cook, stirring often, until tender, five to eight minutes. Stir in the garlic, season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds to one minute, and remove from the heat.

2. Beat the eggs and milk together in a large bowl. Stir in salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon), pepper, the cooked carrots and leeks, and the tarragon.

3. Clean and dry the pan, and return to the burner, set on medium-high. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet. Drop a bit of egg into the pan, and if it sizzles and cooks at once, the pan is ready. Pour in the egg mixture. Tilt the pan to distribute the eggs and filling evenly over the surface. Shake the pan gently, tilting it slightly with one hand while lifting up the edges of the frittata with a spatula in your other hand, to let the eggs run underneath during the first few minutes of cooking.

4. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook 10 minutes, shaking the pan gently every once in a while. From time to time, remove the lid, tilt the pan and loosen the bottom of the frittata with a wooden spatula so that it doesn’t burn. The bottom should turn a golden color. The eggs should be just about set; cook a few minutes longer if they’re not.

5. Meanwhile, heat the broiler. Uncover the pan and place under the broiler, not too close to the heat, for one to three minutes, watching very carefully to make sure the top doesn’t burn (at most, it should brown very slightly and puff under the broiler). Remove from the heat, shake the pan to make sure the frittata isn’t sticking, and allow it to cool for at least five minutes and for as long as 15 minutes. Loosen the edges with a wooden or plastic spatula. Carefully slide from the pan onto a large round platter. Cut into wedges or into smaller bite-size diamonds. Serve hot, warm, at room temperature or cold.

Yield: Six servings.

Note: For four servings, use the same recipe but reduce the number of eggs to six.

Here is what it’s supposed to look like (Photo by Andrew Scrivani):


Here are my photos:

Terrible photography and ugly plates aside, I think it looks pretty good!

Roasted Halibut & Asparagus with Melted Leeks

Yesterday we received artichokes, asparagus, leeks, and blood oranges in our CSA box. Perhaps spring is finally on its way! (It certainly doesn’t feel like it in San Francisco though. I left mild weather and daffodils in Seattle for downpours and hail in San Francisco. Go figure.)

After finding a recipe for roasted halibut and asparagus with melted leeks, I decided to splurge on some first of the season halibut from the new Mollie Stones in the Castro. I’m glad I did because the dish was healthy, delicious, and easy to prepare on a weeknight. I served it with a mixed green salad with blood oranges and goat cheese. I also cooked up some whole grain wild rice which I totally forgot to serve. Looks like it’ll be my lunch today instead. Oops.

Serves 2
1 pound medium-thick asparagus
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 lb halibut (skin on), about 1 1/2 inches thick
1 large leek (white and light green parts only), washed and thinly sliced
1 cup low-salt fish stock, chicken or veggie broth (I used veggie)
Squeeze of lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Snap off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus. Toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet, and then put in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice. Meanwhile, heat 1 TB olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, and add the leek. Cook until browned and tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil, then simmer for 1-2 minutes, until some of the liquid is absorbed. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon and set aside (you may want to warm this a bit before serving.)

Coat a small Pyrex pan with olive oil and put in the fish skin-side down. Season with salt and pepper, and fold under any thin parts. Place in the oven along with the asparagus and roast until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Top the fish with the leeks and sauce and serve alongside the asparagus.

Homemade Ricotta

I already make my own yogurt but I’ve never tried my hand at making cheese. There was a ricotta tart recipe in my evaluation list this week so I used that as the excuse to make ricotta from scratch today. Everyone who has ever said that once you make it yourself, you will never buy it again is completely right. I will never buy it again. It’s so ridiculously simple.

After searching on Google and asking some friends, I decided to use white vinegar as my acid so that the ricotta wouldn’t take on the taste of buttermilk or lemon. I needed 2.5 cups of cheese which required using 10 cups of whole milk. I read that using organic UHT (ultra high-temperature) milk didn’t work as well as using pasteurized milk so I ran off to Safeway to buy a gallon of the regular stuff.


10 cups whole milk
1 1/4 tsp salt
10 TBs white vinegar

Simply mix the ingredients in a large saucepan and heat until the whey starts to break away from the curds. Once it reaches about 165 degrees, set it aside for ten minutes so the curds could strengthen. Next, pour into cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl. There will be a *lot* of whey which can be used in a variety of ways (soaking steel-cut oatmeal over night, making more ricotta, blending into a smoothie, etc). I let it strain for over an hour because I wanted the ricotta somewhat dry since it was going into the filling of a ricotta tart.

Let me know if you try it or if you have any exciting ways to use up the whey!


Recipe Testing – Grilled Cheese

Last night, we made grilled cheese for dinner. It wasn’t just any run of the mill grilled cheese- it was a recipe from a place in San Francisco that makes a life-changing sandwich. If you’ve been to the Ferry Building, you know what I’m talking about. I couldn’t believe my luck when I discovered their recipe in this weeks evaluation list!

Here are a couple of photos from our grilled cheese adventure. I’ll post the recipe when (yes, I’m *that* confident) it posts to the LC website!

Four types of cheese and lots of butter

Final product

Favorite Cookies

I haven’t turned on my stove or oven for much more than steaming or roasting vegetables in the last few weeks. Luckily, that is about to change! I just completed the first draft of my capstone (second year research project necessary to complete my masters)! It’s just a waiting game now to receive the official sign-off from my advisers. If all goes well, I’ll have my MPH by next Friday!

I decided to celebrate today by making my favorite cookies to bring to seminar this afternoon. I found the recipe on Joy the Baker and have made them at least 3-4 times over the last year. They are soft and chewy with a nutty flavor imparted by the oatmeal and a sweetness added by a bag of chocolate chips. Divine.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened (important!)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1.5 tsp vanilla extract (Try Penzeys if you haven’t already. If anyone wants a $5 coupon, email me.)

Beat the white and brown sugar with the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy, about- 3-4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add vanilla and beat until blended.

2.5 cups uncooked oats (I only had 3/4 cups today and then put 1 cup steel cut oats in the food processor to add a crunchy oat flavor to the cookies)
2 cups AP flour (or half whole wheat and half AP)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped (I also toast mine) pecans

Whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add to the butter and egg mixture slowly beating on low speed until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans last.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-13 minutes. I use a TB to measure my spoonfuls and those took about 13-15 minutes. Allow to cool for five minutes on the sheet before transferring to a wire rack. Beware, this recipe makes over 2.5 dozen cookies. Enjoy!