Sweet Potato Pie

Tis almost the season (though you wouldn’t know it in SF with our 80 degree temps this week!) This was a Leite’s evaluation recipe so I can’t share the amazing recipe just yet.

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Lemon Thyme Risotto

Yesterday I was eager to make a mess in the kitchen after being away for the last week or so. After a trip to the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market in the morning, I got busy making fresh strawberry ice cream and the Lemon Thyme Risotto that recently appeared on the Leite’s website. Served with grilled salmon and asparagus, we had a very tasty dinner for ourselves. The risotto was delicious and reminded me that I should make Risotto Verde again now that spring vegetables are popping up in the markets. (Apparently, I have a thing for risotto in April – I just searched for risotto on my blog and realized that every April for the last three years I have tried a new recipe!)

Dessert was tasty (and pretty) too!

Barefoot Contessa Lemon Cake

For my Valentine’s Day care package I decided to make use of a sack of lemons that I received from a friend whose lemon tree is literally dripping with fruit. I’ve had Ina Garten’s Lemon Cake recipe on my mind for years but never attempted it until this evening. Since it makes two loaves, I knew I’d need an excuse to get rid of one so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat lemon cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner all week.

I’m happy to say this tastes a LOT better than it looks. Next time I won’t stop at just greasing and flouring the loaf pans – they definitely needed parchment to prevent the cake from sticking. Hopefully my friends don’t hold it’s ugly looks against it.

Recipe Testing – Rugelach

Today we decided to make brunch for one of Alex’s high school friends. Since it’s been at least four years since we’ve strayed from scrambled eggs or cereal at home for breakfast, we kind of went overboard. When Alex learned that I was only serving sliced cantaloupe, rugelach, and pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes, he offered to make scrambled eggs with cherry tomatoes and basil. Needless to say, we haven’t eaten lunch and aren’t all that excited about any kind of dinner tonight.

I chose to make a batch of rugelach for this cycle of recipe evaluations. I had my choice of raisin, apricot, or chocolate filling. I chose the raisins. They were plumped with water, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon over low heat and then ground up with walnuts and a bit of rum.

I haven’t done much experimenting with pastry and was pleased that I didn’t mess them up! (I don’t have a great track record with pie crusts.) I rolled the dough into a rectangle-ish shape and smothered the filling from end to end. Then you roll it up lengthwise and slice it into smaller pieces. The filling oozed out out of the sides and looked gorgeous.

 

While only a small feat, it is the exact reason I was so eager to become a Leite’s tester. Trying and evaluating new recipes and techniques gets me out of my comfort zone and forces me to try things that I might not be inclined to make in my everyday life. This recipe was a huge win and I hope to be able to share it soon. Or just invite me to brunch!

Recipe Testing Winner – Moroccan-Spiced Roast Chicken

I’ve been patiently waiting for this recipe to pop up on the Leite’s website. Today was the day! I first tested the recipe back in July and have since made it twice. It’s one of those dishes where even the skinniest person at the table will ask for seconds. And the leftovers make a fantastic chicken stock. In fact, I used it as the base in my Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup last week and in a Pasta Fagioli dish last night. Enjoy!

The recipe can be found here.

Recipe Testing Winner – Almond and Coconut Granola

I’m not a huge granola fan but Alex is. And since it’s his birthday this week and we’re going backpacking this weekend, I figured it was a nice excuse to make some from scratch. A friend suggested that I try eating granola and powdered milk for breakfast while backpacking since it has more calories and will keep me going longer than my usual instant oatmeal.

I prefer to make granola at home rather than buying it in the store because it allows me to control the salt and sugar content as well as to customize the nuts and dried fruit to my liking. It’s also significantly cheaper. For this batch, I followed a simple Leite’s recipe that I evaluated and enjoyed about a month ago. The golden colors remind me of autumn which now that it’s already August, really isn’t that far away. Bring on the butternut!

Warm Chicken Salad with Green Beans and Chard

One of the things I love about being a Leite’s recipe tester is that I’m starting to see what styles and tastes I have in common with other testers. While I didn’t choose to try the Warm Chicken with Green Beans and Chard in this last testing round, I could tell by who wrote the comments that I would love it. So, armed with a box of cherry tomatoes, rainbow chard, and green beans from my CSA box, I embarked on a very quick journey towards deliciousness. I would highly recommend this for an easy, healthy, and flavorful weeknight meal.

Recipe Testing – Moroccan Roast Chicken

I made what was probably my favorite evaluation recipe so far on Monday night. It was a heavily spiced roast chicken with cauliflower, butternut squash, and red onion. What I loved most about the recipe was that you don’t put the vegetables in with the chicken until it’s nearly done. This was a great tip for me because mine are almost always too soft by the time the chicken is cooked. I’m confident this one will make the Leite’s website so stay tuned for the recipe. In the meantime, enjoy the photos. My friend Marion is in town from France and she is never more than a few feet away from her camera. Other goodies we have made together this week: Beet Salad with Feta, Orange, and Mint, a slight twist on my favorite cookies, and homemade lemonade from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook. The kitchen has been messy but we’ve had a blast!

One Dish Wonder – Tandoori Salmon with Kale and Squash

I woke up craving garam masala this morning and found this excellent salmon recipe by Elizabeth Yarnell courtesy of Leite’s. My only change to the recipe was to substitute coconut milk for yogurt which made it a bit richer (and more yummy I’m sure). You literally assemble the entire dish in one pot – rice (next time I’ll use 3/4 cup for two people), kale (I’d double this next time), salmon (oh how I miss Seattle salmon prices), sauce, and squash – and pop it in the oven for a half hour. It was done in 30 minutes though I made a note to check it next time after 27, depending on the thickness of the salmon. Yum!