Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ante Pasta Pasta

"Lost Boys" Ante Pasta Pasta Salad or Pasta a la Jordanick

Among jokes made about me is that one that I'm actually a 14-year-old boy. My love of video games, power tools, and dirty jokes may lend credibility to this theory. Another theory that has been tossed around is that I suffer from "Wendy Complex" a sort of female version of "Peter Pan Complex" surrounding myself with and befriending a bunch of dudes. Matt Smith remarked over Pants Droppin' Carbonara,
"Ah, Liz. Queen of the Lost Boys." Last night at about 11:00, I found myself gathered with three of these "Lost Boys" and over jokes and wine decided to throw together a quick late night meal. I told them I'd name the dish for them . . . Jordan suggested "Jordanick" by squishing the names Jordan, Dan, and Nick together. Clever. At any rate, here it is. Super fast and easy to throw together for a late night nosh or for one of the many summer barbecue potlucks you will invariably be attending in the next couple of months. I threw together some of my favorite ante pasta staples (marinated artichoke hearts, olive, etc.) with pasta of course. Eat up!

- 1 lb. penne pasta
- 4 oz. marinated fresh mozzarella cheese cut into 1/2" chunks
- 1/4 c. Kalamata olives, sliced lengthwise
- 1/3 c. marinated artichoke hearts, quartered
- 1 small bunch Italian parsley, chopped
- 7 oz. prosciutto sliced crosswise into 1/2" strips
- 1 lb. mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add penne and cook to al dente (about 8-9 minutes). Drain, rinse with cold water, set aside.

While pasta is working, prep other ingredients. Combine mozzarella, olives, artichoke hearts tomatoes, prosciutto, garlic, cheese, and parsley in a a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together vinegar and oil with salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked pasta to large bowl with other ingredients and toss to combine. Pour dressing over other ingredients and toss until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Season with additional salt and pepper. Put in your face. Eat.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Something Wicked Awesome This Way Comes

F***in' Insane Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Of all the amazing flavor combinations the culinary world has to offer . . does anything go together better than chocolate and peanut butter? They go together like . . . Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, like witches and a heath, like a Shakespearean tragedy and a beheading. Going into our second read-through tomorrow, I wanted to come armed with plenty of ideas about the show and (of course) some treats for the actors. I've been on a baking frenzy tonight . . . I hope the cast shows up tomorrow with an appetite for cookies and Shakespeare.

- 1 3/4 c. flour
- 3/4 c. cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp/ salt
- 1 c. sugar
- 3/4 c. butter, room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 egg
- 2 c. powdered sugar
- 1/2 c. butter, room temperature
- 1/2 c. peanut butter
- 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl or with a stand mixer, blend together flour, cocoa powder, salt, sugar, 3/4 c. butter, egg, and vanilla to make the dough. Wrap chocolate dough in plastic and refrigerate for one hour.

When the dough is ready to work with, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet. Using a small cookie scoop to keep cookies uniform in size, scoop a rounded tablespoonful of dough and form it into a small ball. Place on cookie sheet and flatten using the bottom of a glass to about 1/4" thick. The edges of the dough should crack a little bit. Bake cookies for about 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a rack before filling.

To make peanut butter filling, place 1/2 c. butter, peanut butter, and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Blend together with an electric mixer. Fill cookies with a generous tablespoonful of peanut butter filling. Top with a second cookie and press together slightly. Set aside.

Fill a small microwave safe bowl with chocolate chips. Heat in microwave about 1 minute, stir. If chips aren't melted fully, try another thirty seconds, remove from microwave and stir again. Once chips are smooth, load into a pastry bag or a plastic sandwich bag with the corner clipped off. Drizzle chocolate over sandwich cookies. Allow chocolate to set completely before storing in an airtight container. Enjoy around a good Shakespeare script . . . but watch out for witches. They are notorious for stealing delicious cookies.

Sweet Spot

Bleeding-Heart Snickerdoodles

Ahh, the humble Snickerdoodle. On the surface, this unassuming cookie doesn't seem like much. It is a reliable baked staple you can turn to like an old friend. But therein lies the trick. There is much more to Snickerdoodle than meets the eye. Sure, Snickerdoodle is sweet, but the subtle spice of cinnamon gives this buttery friend a memorable bite. To put a twist on this classic cookie, I added a strawberry jam filling. The sweetness of the jam plays nicely with the cinnamon's heat. The name of the cookie? It seemed appropriate because I'm planning on bringing this batch to my Macbeth cast tomorrow . . . if there are any left.


- 1/2 c. vegetable shortening
- 1/2 c. butter
- 1 1/4 c. sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 2 1/2 c. flour
- 1/4 c. corn syrup
- strawberry jam
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking pad. Set aside. In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together shortening, butter, 1 1/4 c. sugar, vanilla, and corn syrup. Add eggs and mix on high until batter is well combined and smooth. With mixer on low, add baking powder, salt, and flour.

In a small bowl mix together 1/4 c. sugar and cinnamon. With a tea spoon or cookie scoop, take dollops of cookie dough and create 1 1/2" balls. Roll in cinnamon-sugar mix until outsides are covered. Place dough balls, evenly spaced on prepared cookie sheet. With your thumb, make a small indentation in the center of each ball and fill with a small (about 1/2 tsp.) amount of strawberry jam. Bake in oven for about 9 minutes. Let cookies cook completely on metal rack. Store in an airtight container. Eat and enjoy with milk and friends!

Lox of Love

Brunch-Inspired Salmon Melts

It's been a while since I have encountered one of my favorite brunch-time staples: the smoked salmon tray. Is there anything tastier than delicious slices of lox on a cream-cheese slathered bagel? Well . . . maybe for you. But I'm a salmon junkie! After my recent encounter with ridiculously priced salmon, I started musing over more economically responsible ways to enjoy this delicious pink-fleshed fish. As it usually does: inspiration hit! This time in the form a twist on a classic tuna melt. The fresh dill really makes for a tasty dish.


- 2 7-8 oz. cans salmon, drained
- 1 ciabatta loaf, slice lengthwise
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 2 tomatoes, sliced crosswise
- several sprigs of fresh dill, chopped
- juice from 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp. capers, drained and chopped
- 1 small red onion, peeled and finely diced
- 1 small handful of chopped Italian parsley leaves
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, place ciabatta halves face-up on sheet. Spread half the cream cheese on faces of ciabatta halves. Arrange tomato slices on top of cream cheese layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl combine salmon, onion, herbs, lemon juice, oil, vinegar, and capers. Mix ingredients together thoroughly with a fork and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread salmon mixture on top of tomato layer on ciabatta halves. Top with slices of mozzarella cheese. Place pan in oven and bake about 20 minutes unto cheese is melty. Easy as can be!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bringin' Home the Bacon

Matt Smith's Pants-Droppin' Carbonara with Yummy Asparagus and Bacon

So . . . entertaining a house full of boys tonight. What to do? What to do? As luck had it I just so happened to have a refrigerator full of unused bacon. Hungry boys + bacon = a successful meal. Matt Smith was coming over for video games and good times. Ahh . . . Matt Smith, the perpetual undergrad (8 years running) full of jokes and an appetite for life. For some reason Matt Smith has some weird joke about dropping his pants. Over our pre-dinner wine and snacks (homemade hummus with pita wedges and eggplant cheese toasts, duh) I promised I'd name this recipe after him. So here we go: Matt Smith's Pants-Droppin' Carbonara. He giggled with delight, by the way, at this title for the recipe. It comes together in a snap- a pasta dish light enough to be enjoyed as springtime freshness turns to the humidity of the fall. Enjoy!


- 6 sliced bacon, diced
- 3 large shallots, peeled and sliced crosswise
- 1 lb. asparagus, sliced crosswise into 2" bite-sized pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
- a good splash of dry white wine
- 8 oz. penne pasta
- 1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs, room temperature

Place diced bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove cooked bacon from skillet with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside. Scoop out excess bacon fat reserving about 3 Tbsp. in skillet. Return skillet to heat and add shallots. Cook over medium until shallots are softened and start to turn brown. Add asparagus to pan with a splash of wine. Cover and cook about 2 minutes until asparagus is bright green and tender-crisp. Turn heat to low to keep warm.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water and cook penne pasta to al dente according to package directions. While pasta is working, beat eggs in a medium bowl with grated Parmesan cheese until thoroughly combined. When pasta is cooked, drain, reserving 1/4 c. of cooking liquid. Slowly beat into egg mixture until combined. Add cooked pasta to asparagus and shallot mixture then pour egg and cheese mixture in. Heat over low to cook the raw egg. Add bacon to mixture and stir to combine. Divide among four plates and sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese. It's super fast, easy, and good in your face. I hope you like it! By the way, Matt Smith had two helpings. Granted, this is a boy who likes food in his face . . . but still . . . I think he liked it!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Something Fishy . . .

Cornmeal Crusted Trout Fillets with a Simple Springtime Salad

After my four days of Midwest fried food and beer indulgence (and last night's rather rich mac n' cheese) I was definitely in the mood for something on the lighter side. One of my favorite quick and healthy go-to recipes is a nice piece of seared salmon over a bed of baby greens and a homemade balsamic dressing. With this tasty thought in mind, I headed to my local Whole Foods seafood section to find that the usually exorbitantly priced salmon was . . . well, even more exorbitantly priced. At over $20 for a pound of this delicious fish I found, to my surprise, that there was something that would come between me and one of my favorite meals . . . and that thing was $20. Not easily discouraged when it comes to creating yummy food to put in my face, I scanned the fish selection for a more moderately priced option. Ahhh, trout. Yeah, it's trout- nothing to usually write home about, but I thought I'd give it a try. Simple, white, fleshed, and incredibly cheap. I walked away with a large $2 fillet figuring I would use a typical lemon-butter treatment on the fish and call it done. Later, while surveying the cupboards, however, inspiration hit! The cornmeal crust adds a light, crisp texture to the tender fillet. This dinner was a snap to throw together and perfectly paired with a (big) glass of sauvignon blanc. It's good stuff served atop my simple salad, but try it in colder months alongside potatoes and creamed spinach for a heartier meal. Enjoy!


- 1 lb. trout fillets, 4 fillets with skin
- 1/2 c. medium ground cornmeal
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 10 oz. mixed baby greens
- 1 lb. fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced crosswise
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. honey
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 c. exra virgin olive oil, plus extra for cooking the trout fillets

In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, honey, mustard, vinegar, and 1/4 c. olive oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a shallow dish, mix cornmeal, paprika, cayenne pepper, and pepper flakes until ingredients are combined. Season trout fillets with salt and pepper, dredge through flour then dip in beaten egg. Dredge fillets into cornmeal mixture until they are completely covered. Set aside.

In large skillet, heat olive oil over medium. Add fillets to pan and fry about 2 minutes per side until the cornmeal coating begins to turn golden brown. Remove fillets from pan and set aside. Divide greens among four plates and top with strawberries and sliced avocado. Dress with balsamic dressing and then top with trout. It's a pretty tasty dish!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Takin' it to the Mac

Seriously Insane Kickin' Crab and Corn Mac n' Cheese

I have written before about my obsession with Mac n' Cheese. As I've said, "What's not to like?" I've developed five other Mac n' Cheese variations (so far) for this blog and anticipate many, many more. After spending the weekend visiting an old college buddy in a ridiculously hot and muggy St. Louis, I figured summer was finally here and it was time to put the comfort food recipes away for the season (like so many cozy sweaters and cute pairs of boots). On my return to the rainy Northwest, however, I found that comfort food got a reprieve. So . . . you looked at my "French Onion" Man n' Cheese recipe and thought, "That's decadent!" Well . . . foodie friends, I challenge you to try this tasty little number on for size. I threw in the jalapeño peppers for a little spicy kick to play off the sweet nuttiness of the cheese and roasted garlic combo. It's one tasty dish . . . if I do say so myself.


- 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, plus one Tbsp.
- 1 large sweet yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
- 6 oz. chopped pancetta
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 8 oz. lump crab meat, picked over for bits of shell
- 3 ears sweet white corn, kernels scraped from cobs
- 1 red and 1 green jalape
ño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 8 oz. grated Manchego cheese
- 8 oz. grated Raclette cheese
- 4 oz. grated Fontina cheese
- 1 qt. whole milk
- 1/4 c. flour
- 1 tsp. white pepper
- 1 lb. dried elbow macaroni
- salt, to taste
- 5 oz. panko bread crumbs
- 1 generous handful chopped Italian parsley

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Cut the tops of the garlic cloves and place on a small square of aluminum foil. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap in foil to create a packet. Roast in oven for about 30 minutes until garlic is soft, brown, and sweet. Remove from oven and allow to cool in packet. When garlic is through roasting turn oven down to 375˚F.

While garlic roasts, butter a 9x13" baking dish with 1 Tbsp. of butter and prep other ingredients. Grate cheeses, chop onion, remove corn kernels from cob, peel and seed peppers, chop pancetta, etc. Place pancetta in large Dutch Oven over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until pancetta just starts to turn brown. Remove from Dutch oven with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Add 4 Tbsp. butter to Dutch oven and melt over medium, add chopped onion, season with salt, stir, and cook until onion starts to soften and turn translucent.

Add flour to Dutch oven and stir constantly for 1 minute to create a thick paste. Gradually whisk in milk by the cupful and incorporate with flour. Whisk in cheeses and melt over medium-low heat. Remove from heat, season cheese sauce with white pepper and salt to taste. Stir corn, jalapeños, crab meat, and pancetta into the sauce. Squeeze roasted garlic out of skins into sauce. Stir to combine.

Boil a large pot of water and cook macaroni to al dente according to package directions, about 8 minutes. Drain and stir cooked pasta into cheese sauce. Spread mac n' cheese mix into prepared baking pan, set aside.

In a medium skillet, melt 4 Tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add panko breadcrumbs, stir frequently over heat and allow to toast. When breadcrumbs are just turning golden brown, remove from heat and stir in chopped Italian parsley. Spread breadcrumbs evenly over mac n' cheese. Bake in oven about 45 minutes. Remove and set aside about 10 minutes before serving. Seriously. Good. Stuff. Go at this on a cold night. Or when you're really, really hungry.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chee's Cakes

Sour Cream Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Mascarpone Frosting

One of the greatest pleasures about cooking is sharing food with appreciative eaters and I can honestly say I have met the most appreciative eater on the planet. Chiaki (or Chee as she has been nicknamed) came to us from Japan to study in the theatre department for the 2009-2010 year. Back in November, I invited her to spend the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with me gorging herself on two very American hobbies: eating and shopping. Chee was definitely up to the task. Not only did we eat our way through a decadent traditional Thanksgiving feast (Chee met my Pumpkin Cheesecake with definite approval) but I enjoyed cooking her several other meals including flank steak stuffed breakfast burritos and french onion mac & cheese. But it didn't end there. I love bringing homemade snacks to work, rehearsals, and end-of-the-quarter class showcases. Without fail, Chee would meet these treats with a cry of glee: "Snacks for Chee!!!" So . . . here we are: spring quarter and the last of this year's acting showcases. Just for Chee (the World's Most Appreciative Eater) I put together this spring-themed cupcake recipe. I hope she enjoys them. And with this sweet, little, cupcake I will always remember the petite gal from Tokyo who ate her way into my heart.


- 2 sticks butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/2 c. sour cream
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 c. all purpose flour
- 3 tsp. vanilla, divided
- 1/4 c. strawberry jam
- 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
- 4 c. powdered sugar
- fresh strawberries, stems removed, and sliced lengthwise in half

Preheat oven to 325˚ F. Line a muffin tin with papers and set aside. In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together 1 stick butter, granulated sugar, and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. With the machine running on low, add flour mixture to butter mixture in batches alternating with eggs, making sure ingredients are thoroughly incorporated after each addition. Add 2 tsp. vanilla.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each liner about halfway. Place in oven and bake about 20-25 minutes until cupcakes begin to turn light golden brown on top. Remove from oven and cool on rack. Recipe should yeild about 2 dozen cupcakes.

While cupcakes are baking cream together 1 stick butter, mascarpone, vanilla, powdered sugar, and strawberry jam to make frosting. Frost cupcakes when they have cooled completely and top each cupcake with a strawberry because it looks pretty!

Monday, June 7, 2010


Double-Double Toil and Black Magic Brownies

Can I just say I'm SO excited to be directing an outdoor production of Shakespeare's ominous "Scottish Play" this summer? Well . . . in case you were wondering . . . I AM! Tomorrow is our first cast read-through and as per usual, I think events such as these are always better with food. With wild aspirations, I had planned a theme menu derived from the play's concept (set in a down-and-dirty 1920s New Orleans locale rather than cold and dreary Scotland) complete with jambalya, gumbo, and pralines. Time and other obligations, however, got between me and this ambitious banquet for 18. (I'll deliver for the cast party though . . . I promise.) While I'm fairly certain free pizza and sodas will satisfy the appetites of the cast of (mostly) starving college students, I did want to make special treat just for them. Taking stock of the fridge and pantry, I found an abundance of powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and crème fraîche. Ahhh . . . sweet inspiration. I decided to make a baked-homage to the play's themes of light and darkness in the form of a dense, chewy brownie with a tangy cream filling. Double, double, toil and yum.


- 2 sticks butter
- 2 c. granulated sugar
- 1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. vanilla, divided
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 3/4 c. flour, divided
- 1/2 c.
crème fraîche
- 1 c. powdered sugar
- 1 c. chocolate chips
- 1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly spray a silicon or muffin tin and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter and granulated sugar over medium heat. Stir frequently to keep sugar from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning. Remove from heat. Whisk in cocoa powder until incorporated. Add eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla and whisk into mixture until batter is smooth. Add salt, baking powder, and 1 1/2 c. flour and whisk to combine. Set aside. In a small bowl combine crème fraîche, 1/4 c. flour, powdered sugar, chocolate chips, 1 tsp. vanilla, and egg yolk. Stir to combine.

Fill each muffin cup halfway with brownie batter. With the back of a teaspoon, make a small indentation in the center of each brownie dollop then fill with about a tea spoon full of
crème fraîche mixture. Top each crème fraîche layer with a small dollop of brownie batter. Bake in oven about 20 minutes.

Remove from oven. Cool brownie cups in the pan for about ten minutes before turning out on a rack to cool completely. Eat with milk . . . or witches. Whichever you prefer.

Recipe yields about 18 brownie cups.