Tea Dinner Party

TeaDinner 003 Tea Dinner Party

The tea dinner party was a bit disappointing really. I think people got a bit lazy with this one so there are only a few recipes and not that many photos. The food at the party that actually contained tea was quite good, so I don’t want to skip posting about this entirely, but I will keep it brief.

TeaDinner 002 Tea Dinner Party

Tea soup with edamame

I made tea braised edamame by Mark Bittman  and tea poached pears in chocolate sauce from Veganomicon. I don’t have a photo of the cake because the light was gone at that point and the pears didn’t last very long. icon smile Tea Dinner Party

Tea Poached Pears in Chocolate Sauce: Serves 4
(Recipe from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook)

Ingredients:
3 cups water
4 tea bags black tea
1/4 cup sugar
4 firm Bosc pears, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise, and cored
Zest from 1/2 orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 ounces bitter or semisweet vegan chocolate
Vanilla ice cream (optional)
Mint sprigs (optional)

Directions:
Boil the water in a medium-size saucepan. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat, add the tea bags and sugar, and steep for 15 minutes. Remove the tea bags and stir to make sure the sugar is dissolved.

Bring the tea to a boil again and add the pears, orange zest, and vanilla. Turn down the heat to simmer and cover. Let simmer; remove the orange zest after a few minutes because it can get bitter. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes until the pears are tender.

Transfer the pears and liquid to a large bowl to cool. Remove a cup of liquid from the bowl and place it back in the pot. Bring to a simmer again, then turn off the heat and add the chocolate. Whisk until completely melted and dissolved. Let the sauce cool.

To assemble:
Ladle a half a cup of chocolate sauce into a small dessert bowl. Place the pear, cored side down, in the sauce. Place a scoop of ice cream next the pear and garnish with mint sprig.
Kathy and Martin made Earl Grey tea cake (not pictured because of the light) Click here for the recipe.

And they made a wild rice salad (which they adapted slightly, adding kale in addition to parsley, and substituting pistachios for pecans to make it Nick-friendly): This one is pictured at the top of the post. Click here for the recipe.
And finally, Ryan made Roobios Butternut Pizzettas. Which sounded amazing, but alas, were gone by the time Nick and I showed up. Click here for the recipe.

 

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Garbanzo and White Bean Salad

chickpeas Garbanzo and White Bean Salad

Garbanzo Bean Salad

This is a great recipe for BBQs, quick lunches or just about any occasion you can think of. I also love bean salads, but I always forget to make them! The original recipe called for beans and herbs that I didn’t have so I made my own veggie combination, but stuck with her recipe for the dressing. You really do need the sugar in the dressing or it just doesn’t taste right!
Garbanzo and White Bean Salad

2 15 oz cans of Garbanzo Beans
1 15 oz can of white beans
2 carrots, finely chopped
1/3 red onion, finely chopped
1 cup fresh, finely chopped flat-leaf cilantro
1 Tbsp fresh finely chopped basil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

 In a large bowl, mix the beans, celery, onion, parsley and rosemary.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the dressing to the beans. Toss to coat.

Chill beans in the refrigerator for several hours, to allow the beans to soak up the flavor of the dressing.

 

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Pasta with Pesto, Kale and Green Beans

pesto Pasta with Pesto, Kale and Green Beans

It is that time of the summer when basil plants look like tiny shrubs and smell good enough to sit down and eat, leaf by leaf. This is generally frowned upon though, or at least not encouraged so may I suggest this recipe instead? The original called for potatoes too, but we didn’t have potatoes, we had tons and tons of kale, so I went that route instead. I think it would work with just about any greens. It was a pretty simple recipe and don’t skip the toasting of the nuts and the garlic. It has a huge impact on the flavors.

The recipe says 6 servings, but I think it is more like 6-8.

Pasta with Pesto, Kale and Green Beans
Serves 6
¼ Cup pistachios
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1-2 pounds of kale
Salt and Pepper
12 oz of green beans, cut into 1 ½ inch lengths
2 Cups fresh basil leaves
1 oz parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
7 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound gemelli
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces and chilled
1 tbsp lemon juice

 

  1. Toast the nuts and garlic in 10-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until nuts are golden and fragrant and garlic darkens slightly, 3-5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and let cool. Peel garlic and chop coarsely.
  2. Steam the kale with salt and pepper until it is tender.
  3. Steam the green beans until tender, 5-8 minutes. Drain the beans and set aside.
  4. Process basil, Parmesan, oil, nuts, garlic, and ½ tsp salt in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute.
  5. Boil another pot of water and when it comes to a boil, add gemelli to water and cook until al dente. Set colander in large bowl. Drain gemellit in colander, reserving cooking water in bowl. Return gemelli to pot. Add butter, lemon juice, potatoes and green beans, pesto, 1 ¼ cups reserved cooking water, and ½ tsp pepper and stir vigorously with rubber spatula until sauce takes on creamy appearance. Add additional cooking water as needed to adjust consistency and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
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Summer Squash Sauté

shreddedzuchinni 002 Summer Squash Sauté

Summer Squash with toasted almonds

I came across this recipe and was elated because it uses two new tools I recently purchased. This one and this one. You should probably buy both of them as soon as you can because they make life so much easier! The garlic slicer also makes nice little chocolate shaving if you need something like that.
The three of us have been eating this once or twice a week now for about a month. We are always looking for good ways to use summer squash and this is a great, non-baked good, way of using them. It is also amazingly fast so it makes a great dinner for a weeknight. It is also very easy to scale up or down depending on your family size AND it is impressive enough to serve to guests. How’s that for versatile recipe?

This appeared in Bon Apetit
Summer Squash Sauté
Serves 4

2 lbs summer squash and or zucchini cut into matchsticks (use a mandoline with a julienne attachment or julienne peeler)
1 tsp kosher salt plus more
¼ cup sliced almonds
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper

Place squash in a colander set in the sink or over a large bowl and toss with 1 tsp. salt. Let squash stand 10 minutes, then squeeze well to remove as much excess moisture as possible (do not rinse.)

Meanwhile, toast almonds in a large dry skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate; let cool.

Heat oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add squash and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Fold in Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Fold in almonds.

If you don’t want to deal with matchsticks, you can just use a vegetable peeler to create vegetable ribbons and proceed with the recipe! There are many variations you can do this, BA suggests Chile+Lime, Carrot + Miso, or Cumin + Coriander.  Nick and I haven’t bothered trying anything other than this first iteration because it is so good!

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Tomatoes!

TomatoPasta 003 Tomatoes!

Sun sugar tomatoes and other cherry tomatoes

Nick and I recently had a baby bug free 24 hours. She was visiting her grandparents in the burbs so we had a nice night out and in the morning we had time to go to the Farmer’s Market! But wait, can’t you take a kid to a farmer’s market? Of course you can, but our kid is at the point where she can’t decide whether she wants to A.) kiss every dog she sees B.) take a tiny bite out of every piece of produce she can get her hands on, or C.) simply run directly into traffic. So Nick and I took our time looking at every stall at the market, admiring the different colors and shapes of the fruits and vegetables and even had time to pick out flowers. Sigh, such a calm morning.

We ended up buying about 2 pints of the most flavorful cherry tomatoes either of us had ever tried. The orange ones were called Sun Sugar and the rest were a mix of other varieties. So, so good. They made me remember that tomatoes are tiny fruits!
Before we rescued the Baby Bug from the burbs I made a quick lunch. I wanted to make something with the sweet little tomatoes, but I didn’t want to cook them because I wanted them to retain their shape and sweetness, but if I didn’t cook them, at least a little bit, I wouldn’t be able to eat as many as I wanted because raw tomatoes start to make my mouth hurt after awhile…What to do.
Here is what I did.

TomatoPasta 005 Tomatoes!

Cherry Tomatoes Pasta

I boiled water and made a couple servings of pasta. When the pasta was al dente, I drained almost all the water and then quickly stirred in Parmesan and threw the little cherry tomatoes (I had cut them in half or in quarters) on top and let the warm pasta cook them just a little bit. I left them, covered until the skin on the tomatoes just started to pull away from the flesh of the fruit. A little salt and pepper at the table and it was perfect. Summer in a bowl. The remaining photos are of Baby Bug and the rest of the family.

 

TomatoPasta 002 Tomatoes!

Rose with grandma and Nick trying her first tomato of the season. She didn’t love it, maybe next time.

TomatoPasta 004 Tomatoes!

Rose helping pick peppers at Baba and Dida’s house.

TomatoPasta 006 Tomatoes!

Rose eating pasta

 

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Pie Wars

MG 2542 Pie Wars

Rhubarb Cream Pie

I’ve been on a pie kick these days.  A rhubarb pie kick to be more specific. I know that rhubarb is now out of season and the time has come for sweeter fruit pies, but this rhubarb pie has become an odd obsession. It began when I was looking through Granny Marie’s recipes. They are always good and always accurate so you can imagine my surprise when the rhubarb custard pie recipe did NOT turn out. It was runny and overflowing. It made a huge mess in my oven and was soggy and drippy when I tried to cut into it. Sure it tasted good, but who can bring a drippy no-custard-in-sight custard pie to a barbecue? No one, that’s who.

MG 6036 Pie Wars

Rhubarb Custard Pie

So I tried again, using less rhubarb and a different pan, no dice. I then abandoned Granny’s recipe and tried an Amish rhubarb cream pie recipe (Woah.) And. It. Was. Amazing. But in a totally different way than a custard pie. Having never made a cream pie, I didn’t know how amazing it could be! And making this pie, made me realize the problem with the custard pie recipe: the baking time was too short. Bam, just like that I have two incredibly delicious and easy pie recipes. Now, my only question is this: who will eat all these ridiculously good pies???

Try them both, you will love them.

MG 2536 Pie Wars

Rhubarb Cream Pie

Rhubarb Cream Pie
Adapted from the Amish Cook‘s column in a newspaper

The rhubarb didn’t seem like it would be enough to fill a 9-inch pie even after I added an extra cup of fruit, but it was. It’s a more thinly filled pie, yes, but it’s so rich and flavorful that that’s as it should be.

1 9-inch pie crust
2 ½ cups diced rhubarb (the rosier the better)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 eggs, well beaten
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Line the pie pan with the crust and crimp the edges.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and sugar. Add the eggs and whisk thoroughly. Add the cream and whisk more.

Dump the diced rhubarb into the pie shell, pour the cream mixture over top, and bake the pie at 375 degrees for about 30-60 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the center of the pie no longer jiggles when you wiggle the pan and the crust is golden brown on the edges and bottom.

Cool to room temperature and then chill in the refrigerator before serving.

I know it is a large range of time for baking, but some ovens are hotter than others. Just start checking every 10-15 minutes after the first 30 minutes to see if the middle has set.

MG 6028 Pie Wars

Rhubarb Custard Pie

Rhubarb Custard Pie
From Granny Marie Maixner

1.5 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp flour
3 cups of rhubarb
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp nutmeg
Line the pan with the crust and crimp the edges.
In a small bowl whisk together the sugar, eggs, vanilla and nutmeg. In a separate bowl toss the flour and the rhubarb. Depending on the season you might need to adjust the flour. If it has been very rainy, use more flour. If it has been dry, use less.
Put the rhubarb in the prepared pie pan, then pour the egg mixture on top. Bake for 30-60 minutes. Mine baked for close to 60 minute. Just make sure it doesn’t jiggle when you wiggle the pan.

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Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

TomatoVinegar Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

This is an amazing condiment that I will make weekly during tomato season. We made this to top a ricotta omelet, but you could eat this on toast, with fresh mozzarella, on polenta…the possibilities are endless.  It is impressive to look at, but so easy to make. My favorite. And here you go!

Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette June 2013 Bon Appétit

Ingredients
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (or more) red wine vinegar
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Preparation

1. Cut half of cherry tomatoes in half. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes.

2. Add halved and whole tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to release juices, 4–6 minutes. Mash some of tomatoes with a spoon.

3. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or room temperature; add chives just before serving.

 

DO AHEAD: Vinaigrette can be made (without chives) 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature and stir in chives.

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Pink Pasta and Bean Salad

PinkPasta Pink Pasta and Bean Salad

Pink Pasta is pink because of the beets!

This is a recipe we made for Rosie from a book called Recipes for Babies and Toddlers. The title could just as easily be called “Recipes for Everyone in the House Who Has Taste buds,” but I guess their title is a little more marketable. The book has great recipes with portions that are appropriate for little bellies. The problem is that when it says “Serves 6-8” that means 6-8 babies, not 2 adults and a baby bug, so each one of these recipes is about one meal for the family. It’s kind of perfect, actually.

I chose this recipe because I realized the other night that Rosie eats all food well, but for some reason does not love beans. So I thought we should start trying to get her to eat them. There are many websites that teach parents to sneak vegetables into their unsuspecting little ones’ shakes or pancakes. “Blend them in and they won’t know they are eating them!” This seems counter productive….the kid continues to think they don’t like vegetables and now you have to clean a blender in addition to everything else you just dirtied to make the kid some dinner. Super lame.

I advocate feeding your kid food you want them to eat and food you like to eat. This recipe has one of Rosie’s new favorites: beets. They turned everything pinky-purple and she loved it! I think this would be a good summer salad for adults too. I used pickled beets because we have them on hand.
Pink Pasta and Bean Salad
½ cup pasta, spirals or penne
14 oz canned black-eye peas, well drained
1 medium cooked beet, peeled and diced
1 stick of celery, sliced
1 carrot, grated
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and diced (or use a ½ c of peas like I did!)*
juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp sesame seed oil
½ tbsp olive oil
pinch of black pepper

Mix the pasta, beans and vegetables together in a bowl. Mix the remaining ingredients together, pour over the salad and toss. Makes 6-8 servings.

* I had to skip the pepper because the one I bought had a bug inside it! Boo for bugs in your veggies, but nice to know they aren’t sprayed.

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Candied Rhubarb

candiedRhubarb Candied Rhubarb

Candied Rhubarb

Here is a super simple and delicious way to use some rhubarb! My parents have been giving us bags and bags of rhubarb from their prolific plants and I was running out of new ways to prepare it. I was looking through Rustic Fruit Desserts and found this recipe.

My rhubarb strips took about an hour to dry out enough, but I think I made them a little too thick. I tried cutting them and using a peeler. I would say go with the peeler. They are easier to shape and bake a little bit faster!

You can use these as a drink garnish, as topping for vanilla ice cream or just eat them. Rosie decided that was the best plan of attack.

Candied Rhubarb Strips

1 stalk rhubarb
½ c sugar
½ c water

Preheat the oven to 200. Line a baking sheet with a piece of lightly greased parchment paper. Cut the rhubarb into 6-inch lengths, then cut each piece into strips ¼ inch to 1/8 inch thick with a good peeler, a mandoline, or a well-positioned knife. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook and stir until the sugar is dissolved, then remove from the heat. Dip the rhubarb ribbons into the syrup, then place them on the prepared baking sheet, laying them out flat and ensuring that they do not touch each other.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until dry. While they are still warm, twist the strips into shapes, wrapping them around your finger or the handle of a clean wooden spoon. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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Zucchine Ripiene con Ricotta (Zucchini Stuffed with Ricotta)

RicottaStuffedZuchinni Zucchine Ripiene con Ricotta (Zucchini Stuffed with Ricotta)

Zucchine Ripiene con Ricotta (Zucchini Stuffed with Ricotta)

This dish is a fantastic option for a warm summer day. It is a great way to use up some of the prolific zucchinis that appear in gardens come July. You have to hallow out the zucchini, so if there aren’t too many seeds, save the scraps and made some zucchini bread!
I messed up the recipe a bit and just mixed all the filling ingredients together and stuffed the zucchini. It tasted great and looked nice too, but I am going to give you the original recipe that appeared in Saveur so you can decide if you want to do it their way or the quicker way.

6 medium zucchini (about 2 lbs.) , halved lengthwise
7 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped
2 cups ricotta
¾ c grated pecorino
¾ c bread crumbs
3 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
2 egg yolks, beaten
kosher salt and pepper
1. Using a small spoon, scoop out and discard pulp from each zucchini half, leaving a 1?4 rim around the edges. Heat 3 tbsp. of the olive oil in a 10″ skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes more. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, 1?4 cup of the pecorino, 1?4 cup of the bread crumbs, the parsley, mint, oregano, and egg yolks. Fold in the onion mixture and season with salt and pepper. Set the filling aside.

3. Arrange an oven rack about 7″ from the broiler element and heat. Rub the insides of the zucchini with 2 tbsp. of the olive oil and season lightly with salt. Place zucchini cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and fill each zucchini half with enough of the ricotta mixture that it mounds slightly but doesn’t spill over the edges of the zucchini. Sprinkle each stuffed zucchini with the remaining pecorino and bread crumbs and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Broil until the zucchini are soft and the tops are lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.
If you do it my way, in step 2 just mix all the ricotta, pecorino, bread crumbs and everything else together and set it aside. And then you don’t have to sprinkle anything! We had this two nights in a row and we all wished we had more zucchini. Baby Bug kept asking for more of mine, so I think I only ate about ½ a zucchini. Oh well! I’m glad she is a good eater.
Enjoy!

pixel Zucchine Ripiene con Ricotta (Zucchini Stuffed with Ricotta)
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