Monday, May 31, 2010

zuppa alla pavese (i.e. italian breakfast soup)

Sounds creepy, right?

I know I know.  It is a little creepy.
But, does saying it's authentic help?

It's a really unique approach to breakfast.  But has all the elements of breakfast so don't be scared!

Zuppa alla Pavese
Serves 2.
4 tablespoons butter
2 slices Italian bread, about 1/2 inch thick, or 4 slices of French bread
2 cups homemade chicken stock
2 eggs
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the bread, turning it, until it's golden brown on both sides.  Place a slice of bread (or 2 little slices) into each of two soup bowls.  Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan.  Crack the eggs, one each, into each of the bowls, over the slices of bread.  Sprinkle the eggs and bread with Parmesan cheese and pour the boiling stock directly onto the egg.  The boiling stock will poach the eggs.  Break apart the egg with a spoon and enjoy!  (Serve immediately.)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

bacon-wrapped shrimp + scallion buttermilk dressing

Let's kick off Memorial weekend with a twist!

Everyone is expecting hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks, or fried fish, right?
Let's do grilled bacon-wrapped shrimp!  I mean, come on.  That doesn't sound fantastic already?  And drizzle it with some scallion buttermilk dressing?  Oh man.
Couldn't be easier, too.  It takes about 10 minutes to prep and about 3 minutes on the grill.  That's it! 
Try it - it'll be a huge hit at your Memorial Day party!

Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp with Scallion Buttermilk Dressing
Serves 4.
1 pound fresh shrimp, deveined and peeled
About 6 strips of bacon
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 lime

Preheat your grill to high heat.
Cut the bacon into pieces that are about the same size as your shrimp.

Wrap the bacon around the shrimp and secure onto skewers.

Grill for about 3 minutes, until done completely through but still juicy.

Meanwhile, make the dressing.
Combine the scallion, buttermilk, and mayo in a small food processor.  Pulse until mostly smooth.  Add the juice of the lime and stir to combine.

Serve shrimp over rice with a drizzle of dressing over the top.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

coconut cake

I love coconut cake.
I'm gonna go ahead and say it's my very favorite cake to eat. 
I have it almost ever birthday that rolls around.
And what's not to love?  Sweet and creamy cake with an even sweeter frosting and contrast with the real coconut shavings that aren't too sugary....heaven.

Coconut Cake
Serves 8-12.
Adapted from Ina Garten.
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut
2 fresh coconuts
Recipe for Seven Minute Frosting

Preheat your oven to 350*.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Add vanilla and almond extracts and beat well.

Add flour mixture and milk, alternating, beating after each addition.

Fold in the sweetened coconut.

Pour into two greased and floured 8" cake pans.

Bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden and a toothpick comes out cleanly.  Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

Meanwhile, prep the coconuts.
Find the "eyes" of the coconut.  Place, eye-side up, in a bowl, lined with a kitchen towel.  Using a screwdriver and a hammer, open the eyes carefully.  Get your dad to do it!  :)

Once you have opened them, drain them into a clean bowl.  (You can use the coconut juice in the cake, substituting for some of the milk, or use it in the frosting, or just drink it!!)

Using the back of the hammer, pry apart the drained coconuts.  Doing this outside is easiest.

Break them apart.

Peel off the hard outer layer.  It should come off very easily.

Once you have finished this, you can grate the whole thing with a box grater.

You should have a nice, big pile!

Set aside.
Ice the cakes with a crumb coat, meaning just enough to seal in the crumbs, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Once set, dollop some more icing for the middle and stack the layers.

Frost the whole cake completely.

Carefully, press the freshly shredded coconut onto the sides and top of the cake and into the frosting.

Isn't it pretty??

And enjoy!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

lemon basil couscous

Its getting to be that time of the year again.....
BBQs and cookouts and backyard parties.

Time for the wives to think of new and interesting side dishes to bring....
And this dish is perfect.
A crowd-pleaser.
And, most importantly, something new


Lemon Basil Couscous
Serves around 8.
2 lemons
Handful of fresh basil
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
2 cups couscous
Handful of Parmigiano Reggiano

Begin by zesting and juicing your lemons into a smallish bowl.

Chop the basil and add it in.

Add a teaspoon of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper.

Set aside.
Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan.  If you want, add the leftover lemon rinds.  Add couscous, cover and remove from heat for five minutes.

Remove lid and fluff with a fork. 

Pour in the lemon mixture and a drizzle or two of olive oil.

Add the Parm and toss to combine.

Garnish with more basil and serve!

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