Monthly Archives: September 2011

Falling on my Head

Honey Apple Cobbler

International Incident Party time!  This is one of those months that really flew by, to the point that I’m typing this while my cobbler finishes baking.  Between the birthdays, the hurricanes, the flooding, and the allergies time just kept slipping by.   Luckily cobbler is one of those recipes that come together in no time, especially when I knew from the beginning that I wanted to use apples.  Apples are everywhere in Virginia this time of year and every year I wind up with at least 15lbs of the crisp delicious fruits.  While i was able to go apple picking the past few years, that has not happened this year, so I had to rely on the local market to get my Virginia apples.  This year I switched things up and got Cortland Apples, instead of my normal super tart Pink Ladies.  So far I have tested two new apple recipes and hopefully have enough apples to do two more.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups Cortland apples, quartered and then halved
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp honey (blueberry!)
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • dash salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Combine the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, honey, cloves, and butter in a large casserole dish.  Bake for 10minutes.
  3. In a large bowl mix the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Cut in the softened butter .  Spoon the mixture over the cooked apples.  Bake for 30minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and the topping has browned.

Nothing like a delicious dessert that comes together in well under an hour, and also smells incredible.  This cobbler really highlights the essence of fall, nothing like the smell of cinnamon apples to know that fall really has arrived.

Stick Together

Caprese Pizza

So I have survived my first cold of the season, hopefully it will also wind up being my only cold of the season.  This has resulted in a small back log of recipes so stay tuned for a large number of updates.  Last week was Joe’s birthday, so I did a week of his favorite recipes including this pizza recipe.  They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and the path to Joe’s heart is paved in cheese.  This recipe is not for the lactose intolerant, or for those counting calories but in my world calories don’t count on birthdays.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 1 large pizza crust, pre-baked if needed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 15 basil leaves
  • 1 8 oz ball fresh mozzarella, dried and torn
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425.  Coat the (pre-baked) dough with the olive oil then start layering on the tomatoes, basil leaves, and mozzarella.  Overlapping is strongly encouraged!
  2. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over top.  Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until the cheese has slightly browned and the crust is golden.
The real trick is to make sure that the mozzarella is as dry as possible otherwise the pizza will become soggy and the crust won’t brown properly.  I learned this through trial and error and found the best way is to press the cheese between two plates lined with paper towels for 10minutes while in the fridge.

Steady Rush

Baked Eggplant with Pomodoro Sauce

I have confessed before how eggplant is the perfect vegetable, the trick is just finding the right eggplant for the recipe.  While all eggplant have similar tastes/textures there is just enough difference to make it worth experimenting with to find the perfect one.  For most recipes, I go for standard American eggplant varieties such as Black Beauty or Black Magic.  I have attempted to grow Black Beauty eggplant for the past two years, but so far I’ve been dependent on the local markets since I lack the skill to get them to grow.  Another common type you’ll find in my kitchen are Italian Eggplant, which are more cylindrical and less pear-shaped than American varieties.  These are great for recipes that call for uniformity in the slices, such as Parmesan or rollatinis.   There are also more exotic varieties such as Thai and Indian eggplant, however I still have more testing to do before I’ll be sharing on those.  This recipe is great for either American or Italian, Italian will result in more uniformity with baking but by careful arranging on the baking sheets the American varieties will work just as well.

Ingredients (serves 2-3 or 4-5 – with pasta)

  • 1.5lbs eggplant, cut into 1in thick rings
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 1/2 tbsp EVOO
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
  • 2 cans unsalted diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 lb pasta, cooked (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place a layer of papertowels down on a cutting board, then layer on the eggplant placing paper towels between each layer.  Top with another cutting board and weigh down with about 5lbs, distributing the weight evenly.  Press the eggplant for 30minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 and lightly grease a cooking sheet.
  3. Mix the cheese and and bread crumbs in a small bowl, with the beaten egg in another bowl.  Dip the pressed eggplant in the egg, using fingers/fork to pull off extra egg before dipping in the bread crumb cheese mixture and then placing on the cooking sheet.  Continue with the rest of the eggplant creating a single layer on the sheet.  No spacing is needed between the slices, just make sure they are in only one layer.  Bake for 20minutes, flip, and then bake for a final 15minutes or until the breadcrumbs are lightly brown on each side.
  4. Meanwhile prepare the sauce by heating the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5minutes, or until garlic starts to turn golden.  Add the basil, cook for another 2minutes, and then add the diced tomatoes along with the tomato paste.  Cover and allow the mixture to simmer for 15minutes.  Taste and season with salt/pepper as needed.  
  5. Serve the eggplant with just the sauce for a quick and simple meal, or add the pasta for more filling supper.  

I’m not sure why it is the I love eggplant so much, but with easy dinners like this one I’m certainly not complaining!

By the Sea

Vegetarian on Vacation

Eastern Shore: Easton

In recent years I have been very fortunate in having multiple opportunities to visit the Eastern Shore of Maryland and with that multiple amazing restaurants.  While most of the restaurants are heavy on delicious local seafood, many of them also have vegetarian options and a growing number are starting to offer vegan options.  There are also more Farmer’s Markets than you could ever imagine and have offerings ranging from sweet corn to yellow tomatoes to pumpkin (!) rice pupping to dog treats!  Most of the restaurants are also involved in the localvore movement, so everything is as fresh as possible and is obvious from the first bite.  Every time I go there are a number of place on my MUST VISIT list, starting with the local Amish Farmers Market and ending when possible with General Tanukis.  There are still a number of places that I haven’t visited so this list will probably change but for now here are my top 5 places to eat while at Easton.

  1. General Tanukis – The downside: not vegan friendly, there is only one option on the menu.  The upside: amazing fusion food that is insanely good.  The pizzas are incredible, the Herbivore being my personal favorite.  They also have regular specials, and their curry is some of the best I’ve ever had.  The also have a number of different sushi rolls, including a few vegetarian options and a number of local varieties.
  2. Martini’s - Two words: Tomato Sauce.  I’m not sure if it’s simply using local produce but the tomato sauce on their Eggplant Sandwich is incredible.  As a bonus the sandwich can be prepared vegan as can their Pan Roasted Vegetable Wrap.  While on the pricey side the quality of the ingredients makes it worth spending the extra money.
  3. AVA’s Pizzeria - Not only do they allow dogs on the patio they also have a number of vegetarian and vegan options.   The home made potato chips are INCREDIBLE which is saying something since I am not a potato chip person.  The onion tart pizza is also insane, but it is potent so if you are on a date….
  4. Amish Farmer’s Market – Food the way nature intended it, no additives no artificial coloring just all natural fresh food.  While vegan food is limited to the fresh produce, there are a number of vegetarian options in the prepared food section including a good dozen salad types.  There is also a butcher shop in the back, so even if you prefer a good bratwurst to Broccoli Salad you are still in luck.
  5. Railway Market – Great place for Carnivores, Vegetarians, and Vegans who are looking for something quick and easy.  From their organic sandwiches to their flavorful soups to their deli bar everything is delicious and nutritious.  I had my first brussel sprouts here, and from that experience I learned that I actually like these strange little vegetables.
I’m hoping that on my next trip I’ll be able to try Out of the Fire, I’ve been hearing great things about it but so far every time I am in that area it is closed for a special event.  

Talk About

Mocha Muffins with Chocolate Chips

Secret Recipe Club

This morning I was contacted by the amazing Amanda to see if I could pick up another blog for the Secret Recipe Club.  Since I was in a desperate need for a new chocolate recipe I jumped at the chance, and then leaped for joy when I saw the information for the blog I was assigned.  Carolyn focuses on primarily low-carb and/or gluten free food and has a talent for coming up with great baked goods that aren’t going to send you into a sugar shock.  When I first got on her blog I went right to the chocolate chip section and nearly melted when I saw the first recipe listed, Cappuccino Chocolate  Chip Bars, and the recipes only got better as a went down the line.   Once I was able to tear myself away from the Carmelitas recipe I zoned right in on the Mocha Muffins with Chocolate Chips.  I LOVE anything that involves coffee and adding in chunks of Ghirardelli chocolate just made it that much better.  I did have to make some tweaks to the recipe since almond flour would not go over well with my better half and slightly reduced the amount of sugar.  I also made a pot of coffee and used a quarter cup of the prepared pot in place of the instant coffee.

Ingredients: (makes 1 dozen muffins)

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup coffee
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips/chunks

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and either line or lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan
  2. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, cocoa, and baking powder.  Then add the coffee, melted butter, eggs, and sugar.  Mix well then stir in the chocolate chips chunks.
  3. Spoon in to the muffin pan, filling about 2/3 of the cup.  Bake for 12-15minutes, or until muffins are pass a toothpick test.  Let cool for 10minutes and then enjoy!

I gave one to Joe as soon as he came home from work and it was a BIG hit.  Everything came together easily and the ingredients are all ones I normally have on hand.  I can see this muffin becoming a regular rotation at my house.