Archive for April, 2010

Homegrown Steak Salad

April 11, 2010

Part of my balcony garden

I think my gardening obsession began with my mom. As a kid I was used to munching on the product of my mom’s evenings and weekends bent over rows of seedlings in our family garden. There is a famous story in our family about when my mom was feeding me carrots when I was a toddler. Apparently, I fed some back to her and during the exchange, my poor mother chomped down on my little finger. She still gets upset to this day when she recalls the utter betrayal stamped across my face and the tears that pooled up in my big baby blue eyes. Don’t worry Mom! I love you AND I still love carrots. No lasting damage done 🙂

Anyway, since college I have always managed to have a sprig of something growing in a pot on my windowsill.  At George Mason University, I kept a basil plant and a rosemary plant one summer when I was living myself in a dorm room. They sure brightened the place up and really brought my Lean Cuisine spaghetti back to life. My first grown up apartment out of school had a lovely balcony where I grew rosemary, mint, lavender, oregano and thyme in window boxes. Now, in my new apartment, I am growing three different kinds of lettuce and patio tomatoes! I am so excited about having more space and being able to grow more of what I eat. Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” became my personal blueprint for eating (as much as possible living in an apartment, anyway) after I read it last fall. I am also very excited about goodLife {eats} and Katie’s new project growcookeat, where you can learn more about growing your own food. I will be following this series of posts with great interest.  Can’t wait for the next installment on container gardening, as I am always looking for more ideas about making the most of tiny growing spaces!

Today was a special day. Today was the first day that I was able to take cuttings from my lettuce and eat what I had grown! No wondering if there was something nasty on the lettuce from processing at an industrial farm. No possible way there were films of pesticide over those tender little leaves, no sir. Hopefully soon, my tomato plant will start producing and I won’t have to pay the outrageous prices people want for tomatoes even in season! To celebrate my fantastic lettuce and truly celebrate it’s flavor, I thought I would make a simple little salad with some leftover steak from Rays the Steaks. Any type of steak would work just fine in this, but mine was a thick New York strip.

Homegrown Steak Salad

4 1/2 inch slices steak
2 handfuls washed lettuce (mine is green, red, and a mesclun mix)
salt
pepper
olive oil
balsamic vinager

Toss lettuce with salt, pepper, a cap full of olive oil and a cap full of vinegar. Place steak on the top. Serve with a piece of crusty GF bread and butter (I like Against the Grain baguettes, toasted!).

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Lemon Cherry Scones

April 11, 2010

Serve with clotted cream or lemon curd for a tasty tea time snack

I am constantly searching for new breakfast ideas. I am too lazy to wake up early on a week day to make eggs or pancakes or, for that matter, to put on make up most mornings. I get really tired of cereal or toast and can’t do donuts or pastries anymore. What to do?

Make scones, of course!  One of my new cookbooks has a great basic recipe, so I altered a little bit and ta da! Tasty scones for my weekday breakfast pleasure. I made mine Lemon Cherry, but there are of course endless combos of flavors that you could play with. I love these toasted with lemon curd or clotted cream a la the Brits. YUM. These also travel insanely well. Although they’re a little crumbly, I managed to transport a few in a baggie in a full purse through a full day of work without them breaking apart. Road testing is awesome.

These travel really well and taste great!

Lemon Cherry Scones
Adapted from Gluten Free Baking Classics

1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup dried tart cherries
grated rind of one lemon
2 cups GF flour mix
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 large eggs

1) Preheat to 425 F. Position rack in center of oven. Line heavy baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.

2) Combine milk and cherries in a small bowl and set aside.

3) Combine dry ingredients in bowl of electric mixer. With mixer on low, cut butter into dry ingredients until it resembles coarse meal. Put mixture aside.

4) Beat eggs until very light and fluffy. Add milk/cherries and flour mixture and mix on medium/low for 1 minute. Use lightly floured hands to pat out dough into a large, 1-inch-thick round  on a lightly floured surface.  Cut out scones with a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter (or a floured drinking glass) or cut into triangles.

5) Place dough on prepared baking sheet and put in center of oven. Turn oven temp down to 375 F and bake 20-25 minutes until golden and cooked through.

Hello, Cheesecake!

April 10, 2010

Well well. Look at that…it’s April already. WHERE is this year going?

I have been a little preoccupied lately because I have written several new pieces for NBC Washington’s About Town section 🙂 They were both published on the website recently, feel free to take a look! The first was about Northside Social Coffee and Wine, a new coffee and wine bar with a cafe that is opening right down the street from my house. The second is about a fairly new Turkish restaurant called Ezme in Dupont Circle. Yippee! That was fun, and I’m excited to do more!

I have actually done a ton of great cooking recently that is sitting here waiting to get blogged about. So it’s about time that I do! I have been terrible about buying cookbooks recently. I went to Barnes and Nobel to redeem a gift card and walked out with THREE cookbooks! Ah! They are:

Gluten Free Baking Classics, by Annalise G. Roberts

The Complete Book of Home Preserving

1000 Gluten Free Recipes, by Carol Fenster

These books have provided a welcome influx of new ideas and inspiration for me. I felt like I was getting into a baking and cooking rut and am trying now to pull myself out of it. For example, Keith and I had plans to attend a monthly gluten free potluck event in DC a few weeks ago, so instead of doing my normal chocolate chip cookies I thought I would try a cheesecake! Annalise Roberts’ book has several good looking recipes and I decided to try the one for New York Cheesecake. I mean really, how can you go wrong with a super rich, dense, creamy cheesecake? What gluten free diner wouldn’t want a piece of that, right? 🙂

I tried it out and the recipe was incredibly easy AND delicious. I made just a few adjustments to the recipe to suit my tastes, but it’s essentially the same. I served it plain, but the next time I make it, I will do a fruit sauce or chocolate ganache on the top like Keith suggested! I might also try it with a gf graham cracker crust next time, as that came out so well on my Pumpkin Cheesecake for Halloween. The best part about this recipe was that when we ended up not being able to attend the potluck, I invited over some friends that are NOT gluten free to help us eat it; when asked, they said that it tasted like regular (awesome) cheesecake. Victory!

New York Cheesecake

The cheesecake was gone WAY too fast!

New York Cheesecake
Adapted from Annalise Roberts’ Gluten Free Baking Classics

Crust

1 cup gluten free flour mix
1/4 cup almond meal
1 tsp. xanthan gum
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp.
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
grated rind of 1 lemon

1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Position rack in center of oven. Line the bottom of a ten inch springform pan with greased parchment paper and dust lightly with rice flour.

2) Mix all ingredients for crust in bowl of electric mixer and mix at low speed. Press about 1/3 of dough into detached bottom of springform pan and bake for 12 minutes. Cool slightly on rack. While bottom is baking, roll the rest of the dough out between two pieces of wax paper and refrigerate. Turn oven up to 475 F.

Cream Cheese Filling

5 8-oz packages cream cheese
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons gluten free flour mix
1/4 tsp salt
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp half and half or whole milk
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
grated rind of 1 lemon

1) To make filling, beat cream cheese until smooth in large bowl of electric mixer at medium speed. Reduce speed and slowly add sugar, then flour, salt, eggs, egg yolks, half an half, and orange and lemon rind. Scrape bowl and beaters; beat at high speed for 5 more minutes.

2) Attach bottom of springform pan to sides. Press remaining dough around sides to within 1 inch of top of pan. Pour cream cheese filling into pan and bake in center of oven for 12 minutes. Turn oven control down to 300 F and bake 50 minutes more. If the top begins to get too brown, cover with foil to prevent scorching. Turn off oven but do not open door; leave cake in oven another 15 minutes. Cool cake on wire rack and refrigerate. When cold, remove pan sides and slide cheesecake off bottom onto a platter. Serve with fruit or chocolate sauce!