posts may contain Amazon affiliate links, which earn me a small commission when you buy (but doesn't cost you anything extra). Occasionally I receive free products and/or run sponsored posts—this will always be stated clearly in the post. Thank you for supporting this blog.

This website contains some quotations, excerpts, and screen clips from copyrighted material. These uses fall well within the copyright doctrine of "Fair Use".
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Food 'n Flix: Under the Tuscan Sun ROUNDUP

My film choice for hosting Food 'n Flix this month was an all-time favorite chick-travel-food flick, Under the Tuscan Sun. From the first time I watched this movie, I've wanted to move to Tuscany...although I prefer mine to happen without the major life change that led Frances there.  Unfortunately, it's not all that simple to uproot the family, figure out how to transport us and our most cherished belongings, and our putty-tats to Tuscany.  We don't know anybody.  We'd have nowhere to live.  We don't speak Italian (though I think knowing Spanish will help...seeing how they're both romance languages...many words are close).  Know what?  If somebody offered us the opportunity...we'd go anyway.  Surely our very own Bramasole waits for us.

Thanks so much to everybody who watched the film and drew inspiration in the kitchen with me this month.  Let's see what everybody came up with!

Tina from Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Head Manor made an Italian Meal that included mouthwatering Bruschetta and Pasta with Italian flavors and of course a bottle of wine. Delicious!

My (Heather from girlichef) comforting Tuscan White Bean Soup helped to satisfy the"yearning for the sun" that I always feel after watching this film!

Ali from Jam Hands went the way of pasta as well with some Goat Cheese, Avocado, and Slow Roasted Tomatoes Penne .
Maria from Cocina Diary chose to make Spaghetti Limone Parmiggiano because it is bright, simple, and happy and that reminds her of Frances and her journey.

Next up is this beautiful Watermelon Sorbet from Deb at Kahakai Kitchen...tell me it doesn't just SCREAM "summer in Tuscany"!

Eating this gorgeous dish of Garlic and Greens Spaghetti...and apparently channeling my dreams...Kim from Stirring the Pot had a little "escape" time while watching this flick.

Danielle from All Things Yummy watched Under the Tuscan Sun for the first time and soaked up the excuse to make some delicious Italian-inspired food... Tomato Bruschetta and Tuscan Lemon Chicken, to be exact.

When Ana from Anasbageri watches the film, it makes her think of past summers with hard work and simple delicious food with friends and family...I'd definitely sit back and relax with a dish of this beautiful Zabaglione Gelato w/ Lime & Blueberries.

I'm happy to have Roz from la bella vita joining in F 'n F this month with this super-thick, super-Tuscan Bistecca Fiorentina that her and her hubby shared for a Memorial Day meal.
Thanks so much to everybody who watched my Food 'n Flix flick for the month of May...Under the Tuscan Sun!
Deb from Kahakai Kitchen is hosting Food 'n Flix at her place next month...and we'll be watching and cooking food inspired by the film No Reservations.  Check out her announcement for more details and check out future hosts over at the Food 'n Flix hosting schedule.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cinnamon-Sugar Pull-Apart Ricotta Bread

 This bread conjures up childhood memories and comfort food.  When I was little I loved toasting up a couple slices of soft, white bread then spreading them with butter and sprinkling them with cinnamon and sugar.  This is the the totally sophisticated way of doing the same thing. It's actually reminiscent of a cinnamon roll at the same time...sans icing.  Thin layers of soft, white bread that were brushed with a nutty, fragrant browned butter and then coated...literally, coated...with a cinnamon and sugar mixture flecked with freshly grated nutmeg.  Cinnamon-Sugar toast's big sister.  It's far too easy to keep pulling warm, inviting slices from the loaf and washing them down with coffee.  Or cold milk.  The kids also love it...both helping to make it and helping to eat it.  Me thinks this is a fantastic hostess or housewarming gift, if you can plan accordingly.  I mean, imagine opening the door to a warm, soft loaf of Cinnamon-Sugar Pull-Apart Ricotta Bread...the intoxicating smell calmly making itself at home the minute it goes through the door.  Oh. Yes.
Cinnamon-Sugar Pull-Apart Ricotta Bread
inspired by and adapted from both The Bakers Guide & Joy the Baker 
yield: 1 loaf

200 g. (¾ cup) water, lukewarm     
100 g. (½ cup) milk, lukewarm
20 g. (1 Tbs.) instant yeast
250 g. (~1½ c. + 2 Tbs.) unbleached all-purpose flour + extra for kneading
250 g. (~1½ c. + 2 Tbs.) unbleached bread flour
30 g. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter, at room temp.
150 g. (~¾ c.) ricotta, at room temp.
10 g. (1½ tsp.) fine sea salt

1 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
2 oz. (4 Tbs. / ½ stick) unsalted butter

Dough: Combine dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl, the bowl of a stand mixer, or a bread machine. Mix to combine, then knead the dough (either by hand, in stand mixer) until the dough is soft and smooth and very elastic (~15 minutes by hand or ~10 in mixer).  Or stick it in the bread machine on dough cycle and let it do its thing.  The dough will be slightly sticky.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, ~1-1½ hours.  In bread machine, it will beep at you when it's done.

Filling: Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Melt the butter until it begins to brown and smell all nutty and amazing. Grease and flour a loaf pan (~9" x 5" x 2"-ish).  Set everything aside.
Putting it all together: Deflate the risen dough and knead ~2 Tbs. of flour into the dough.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic and let rest for 5 minutes.  On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out.  The dough should be ~12" h x ~20" w.  No worries if your rectangle isn't exact.  My edges were a bit rounded and shorter, but I think that adds to its rustic charm.  Use a pastry brush to spread all of the browned butter across the top of the dough, edge to edge.  Sprinkle with all of the sugar, cinnamon, & nutmeg mixture.

Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips.  Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six "equal" slices once again.  You'll have six stacks of six squares.  Layer the squares of dough in the loaf pan.  Place a towel or some plastic wrap over the loaf pan and allow to rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.   Preheat oven to 375° F during last 15 minutes of rise time.
Slide loaf onto center oven rack and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is a deep, golden brown.  Don't be tempted to take it out to early or the center will still be doughy.  If you think it's getting burnt, slide a sheet of tinfoil over the top.

Remove from oven and cool in pan on rack for ~30 minutes.
 Slide a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread, then invert it onto a clean board.  Place a serving plate or another clean cutting board on top of the upside down loaf, then quickly and carefully flip it so that it's right side up.
This is most definitely at its best when it's still warm from the oven, but it can be kept at room temperature for a couple of days if wrapped or covered.

I am sharing this post with:
*Bread Baking Day (BBD) #40: Bread w/ Curd hosted at Kochtopf
BBD #40 BYOB-badge tnsc HearthandSoulBadge-1 Tasty Tuesdays 33 shades of green 5569196101_967c9f3b57_o PeppersTuesdaysTastyTidbits TastyTuesdayBB tastytuesdayfortheloveofblogs tuesdays at the table

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Nopalitos Salad (Cactus Paddle Salad)

While we most often make a simple Cactus Paddle salad using cooked nopalitos, diced tomatoes and onion, and crumbled queso fresco with a bit of cilantro mixed in...this version is quickly becoming a close runner-up.  The creamy goat cheese just sort of melts into each bite...and the slick cilantro dressing is a nice compliment to the crunch of the onion and the tomato.  No matter which version you try, I hope you'll add Cactus to your list of addicting veggies (if it's not there already).  While you can find whole cactus paddles at any Mexican Market, you can find the jarred or canned version in the International aisle of most supermarkets today.  

Just a quickie...I'm off to enjoy the rest of this gorgeous day...and sweat through tomorrow's 90° madness. Ugh.  Oh well.  At least it's not snowing.  I guess. Sheesh, never satisfied.  I just want to live in the land of eternal-Autumn (ie...temps anywhere from 55°-70° F).  Is that really too much to ask for?
Nopalitos Salad
 This recipe calls for jarred Nopalitos.  You could obviously also used canned, or use fresh that have been de-spiked, sliced, and par-boiled.
adapted from Houston Classic Mexican Recipes
makes ~4 svgs.

~2 lb. (jarred) Nopalitos (Cacus Paddles)
¼ small red onion, sliced thinly
2 fat cloves garlic, minced
¼ c. goat cheese, crumbled
Cilantro Dressing, to taste (recipe follows)

tomato, diced
cilantro, picked &/or chopped

Drain nopalitos and rinse well. Combine with onion and garlic in a bowl.  Gently fold in goat cheese.  Drizzle in as much of the Cilantro dressing as you'd like (I usually use ~½ c. and reserve the rest for another purpose).  Garnish w/ diced tomato & cilantro.
Cilantro Dressing
makes ~1 c.

1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
small handful fresh cilantro
1 Tbs. lime juice
pinch ground cumin
2 Tbs. freshly squeezed orange juice
½ c. olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients except oil, salt, & pepper in blender.  Blend and then add oil in a stream to emulsify (combine). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

I am sharing this post with:
Souper_Sundays2 savory sunday midnight maniac meatless monday just another meatless monday veganmondays Get-Grillin-logo
*Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France CheeseRösleEmile HenryRouxbe and ManPans.
Friday, May 27, 2011

Bacon-Wrapped Cod w/ Rosemary and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

I've been going through a major rosemary phase lately.  I mean, I've always loved rosemary...just like I love pretty much any herb...but I always wind up getting a crush on one particular herb for a certain period of time.   When that happens, I just can't get enough of it.  Right now, rosemary is the object of my affection.  Maybe it's all the talk of Tuscany lately.  Of course, I've been talking of Tuscany for years, so maybe not.  But something triggered it, and I believe I'll just enjoy this crush while it lasts and stop over-analyzing.  I've been trying to eat more consciously lately.  I want to add more fish and seafood back into my diet.  Our diets.  The difficulty in that is the lack of seafood-lovers (or even toleraters) in my  house.  While everybody is pretty open and willing to try most things around here...I get shot down at fish constantly.  I happen to love it.  I blame it on the fact that we are nowhere near the ocean.  If we lived near the ocean, they would smell the sea and taste the sea and they'd be begging me to bring it to their plates.  However, we do live close enough to some great lakes that you'd think at least trout or bluegill would be accepted willingly.  And you know, it might.  I just realize that I'm a horrible mom who never takes her kids fishing.  Okay, I didn't just realize...but I did just put it in writing.  I mean...I fished as a kid.  I caught crazy turtles and snakes and got chased around my grandma's farm by my cousin with a still-moving fish head on the end of a stick.  Why, oh why haven't I given my children the same opportunity?  Because I don't have any fishing poles.  Or a fishing license.  Or a hubs who enjoys fishing.  Aaahhh...  Anyway, my actual point being that I'm trying slowly but surely to introduce new (to the fam) types of fish and seafood into our diet.  When I can find good, fresh fish or's going to make its way onto our plates and into our bellies.  What better way to start than to wrap in something everybody loves?  I mean, we all know that bacon makes everything better.  I found a great bacon-wrapped Cod recipe from Jamie's Food Revolution that worked wonders.  Simple, delicious, full of gorgeous flavors...and when I paired it with some beautiful potatoes...the response was "mmmmpppfff...nnnommm...chewwww...rrrmmmppphh..." {<----- my lame attempt at happy eating noises}.
Bacon-Wrapped Cod w/ Rosemary
and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

1 chunky cod filet, per person (~7 oz., skin on or off)
3 slices bacon*, per person
2 sprigs rosemary, per person + extra for potatoes
olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
small handful Fingerling potatoes (any variety), per person
Preheat oven to 475° F.  Line a large sheet tray with foil or parchment.

preparing fingerlings:  Slice any thicker potatoes in half, lengthwise.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil with potatoes.  Let bubble gently for ~5 minutes.  You want them to just start getting tender.  They will finish cooking in the oven and get some nice, golden edges, as well.  Drain and set aside while preparing cod.

preparing cod: Pick leaves from one of the stems of rosemary for each person, then chop them up fairly finely.  Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over the rosemary, then drizzle it all with olive oil and mix it up with your fingers.  Roll each piece of cod in the mixture until they're coated all around with the mixture.  Set aside.

Lay three slices of bacon down next to each other, slightly overlapping and then place a slice of cod on top (skin side up) and wrap the bacon around, leaving the "seam" on the bottom or bottom edge.  Place on prepared sheet pan.  Repeat with all of the cod and bacon.  Set the second (still whole) sprig of rosemary for each serving on the top of the bacon-wrapped fish and drizzle a bit more olive oil over each.  Try to keep all of your fish on one side of the sheet pan, if there's enough room to still leave a little space between each.

both:  Transfer the slightly cooled potatoes to the other half of the prepared sheet tray.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper...and chop a little extra rosemary and throw that on, too.  Toss them around with your fingers a bit, then slide the whole tray into the oven.  If you have too many servings to put both on the same tray, then use two trays.
Slide the tray(s) into the oven and cook for ~10-12 minutes, until the fish is cooked all the way through and the bacon and potatoes are golden with bits of crisp edges.

Serve one bacon-wrapped piece of cod per person with the fingerlings divided amongst each plate.

*You may want to cook your bacon about halfway through before doing this step.  If your bacon is particularly thick, it may not get done by the time the fish is ready...and there's not much worse than over-cooked fish.  If you decide to do this, you could use the rendered fat to toss the potatoes with just before they go into the oven, in place of the olive oil.
Our theme at IHCC this week is Mad About Herbs!
*I am also sharing this post with:
friday food at mom trends recipestorunonbutton seasonal saturday savory sunday weekend eating