May 27, 2015

Chive Pesto

Several years ago, I planted a small herb garden...with chives, thyme, basil, oregano, and rosemary. Each year since then, the chives and oregano have come back. This year, they are back with a vengeance. So. Many. Chives.

Last year, when the chives threatened to take over the back patio, I planned to make a fancy chive quiche...with the thin stalks and flowers placed artfully on top. That never happened. I let the herbs wither and die instead, only cutting off some here and there for salads and such. That quiche may happen this week, though.

Yesterday, I cut off half of the chives and made pesto. It's fairly easy....blitz 4 cups of chopped chives (the flowers are edible, too) with 1/4 cup almonds, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1 garlic clove, juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 cup of olive oil (or more to reach desired consistency), salt & pepper (to taste).

This stuff is LIKE WHOA STRONG. Really potent onion flavor and bit of a spicy sting. Next time, I would add lemon zest with the juice and a handful or two of spinach to mellow it out.

Nevertheless, this pesto is quite tasty. I ate some spooned over seared cod for dinner.

Here's what I plan to do with the rest, because it made about 2 cups:

Mix it into softened butter for toast.
Scramble into eggs.
Blend with sour cream for dip.
Spread on sandwiches.
Whisk into salad dressing.
Toss with hot pasta.
Stir into hot rice.
Drizzle over grilled meat or fish.
Use as a pizza sauce.
Add to chicken or tuna salad.
Make ricotta-chive gnocchi.

Now, I just need to decide what to do with all that oregano...

May 3, 2015

Summer 2015 Cooking Classes

SUMMERTIME! I'm so ready for a break and looking forward to a fun summer...which includes teaching new cooking classes. 

Some new menus include a summer supper for couples (June 12), a dessert & cocktail pairing demo class (June 26), a class all about miso (July 18), two Girls' Night Out classes (August 29 & September 12), a sweet & savory Sunday brunch (September 6), and a spicy lunch (September 19)

Below is my schedule through September. To register, call Kitchen Conservatory at 314-862-2665 or register online.

DATE NIGHT FOR COUPLES: AN A-FARE TO REMEMBER - Sunday, June 7 @ 5:00-7:30 pm (hands-on).

  • Discover the fun of cooking together, as this class prepares grilled panzanella salad, rosemary fried chicken, mac-and-cheese with peas and bacon, ratatouille, plus caramel apple galette, with two remarkable beer pairings ideal for dinner and dessert.

DATE NIGHT FOR COUPLES: SUMMER LOVIN' - Friday, June 12 @ 6:00-8:30 pm (hans-on)
  • Grab your partner and fall in love with the smells and flavors of summertime. This class will create "BLT" bruschetta with pepper-jelly bacon and tomato jam, classic Caesar salad with smoky shrimp and zucchini, grilled spatchcock chicken with bourbon barbecue sauce, crispy and cheesy hasselback roasted potatoes, plus blueberry pound cake with lemon glaze and limoncello gelato.
GIRLS' NIGHT OUT: BUTTER + SCOTCH - Friday, June 26 @ 6:00-8:30 (demonstration)
  • Inspired by a trendy New York retro-style cafe and bar that serves cupcakes and cocktails, I will serve up an outstanding selection of sips and sweets. Enjoy butterscotch cupcakes with scotch-lemonade punch, raspberry-bourbon gelatin shooters - because Jello shots are the original dessert and booze pairing, ginger-lime-rum Dark & Stormy popcorn served with its namesake cocktail, s'mores pie with vanilla-orange prosecco cocktail, plus honey-nut shortbread with an espresso martini.
DATE NIGHT FOR COUPLES: HIGH STEAKS - Sunday, July 5 @5:00-7:30 (hands-on)
  • This class will create bruschetta with seasonal fruit, brie and fennel-infused honey, smoked lentil salad with creamy Sriracha dressing, cedar-grilled flat iron steaks with cayenne-coffee rub, sweet potato and goat cheese "tater tots", bacon-wrapped green beans with brown sugar and garlic butter, plus salted caramel pots de crème.
DATE NIGHT FOR COUPLES: GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEERS - Friday, July 10 @ 6:00-8:30 (hands-on)
  • Join  me (aka"goldie" locks) in a fun class that prepare beer cheese fondue with soft pretzels, local lager with spicy Sriracha chicken wings, fruity Belgian wheat beer with grilled scallops and corn salad, plus creamy stout with chocolate hazelnut cake and vanilla ice cream.
SATURDAY NIGHT SUSHI - Saturday, July 25 @ 6:30-9:00 (hands-on)

  • Menu includes tempura vegetables, miso soup, edamame salad with ginger-soy dressing, crab and mango inside-out rolls with teriyaki glaze, spicy tuna hand rolls, crunchy shrimp rolls with avocado-chile cream, and sweet plum ice cream.
WE SO LIKE MISO - Tuesday, July 18 @6:30-9:00 (hands-on)
  • Discover the versatility of cooking with miso from delicate preparations to hearty and flavorful dishes. This class will create ginger-miso sweet pea dip served with fried wonton chips, miso and honey-glazed salmon, wild rice salad with miso-sesame dressing, miso pasta carbonara with broccoli and red pepper flakes, plus miso-caramel ice cream.
DATE NIGHT FOR COUPLES: SUSHI U FOR TWO - Saturday, August 1 @6:00-8:30 pm (hands-on). 
  • Menu includes tempura-fried shrimp rolls, sesame tuna hand rolls, unagi smoked eel rolls, spicy scallop rolls, hot-smoked salmon rolls with mango and jalapeño, plus ginger-peach green tea ice cream - all served with cold beer.
HEIR AND A PARENT: WIZARDS IN THE KITCHEN - Sunday, August 23 @12:30-3:00 pm (hands-on)
  • Attention all Muggles! Experience the world of Harry Potter and make magic in the kitchen as we prepare delightful dishes described throughout the J.K. Rowling series, including The Three Broomsticks' butterbeer, ham-and-cheese pasties from the Hogwarts house-elves, Mrs. Weasley's potatoes with béchamel sauce, and Aunt Petunia's individual berry-pudding trifles. This class is designed for children, at least 7 years of age, plus a parent.
GIRLS' NIGHT OUT: THIS GIRL IS ON FIRE  - Saturday, August 29 @6:30-9:00 pm (demonstration)
  • Enjoy a prosecco cocktail, antipasti with marinated mozzarella and citrus-roasted olives, shrimp scampi with fennel, seared scallops on balsamic-tomato risotto, plus individual limoncello tiramisù.
SUNDAY FUN DAY - Sunday, September 6 @ 1:00-3:30 pm (hands-on)
  • Before we say goodbye to summer, let's celebrate the holiday weekend with exciting sweet and savory dishes. This class will make bourbon kettle corn, chicken and waffles with cornflake-encrusted chicken and bacon-chive waffles served with maple pan gravy, Monte Cristo sliders with strawberry-tomato jam, smashed sweet potatoes with lemon-garlic aïoli, plus apple pie with a cheddar-vodka crust.
GIRLS' NIGHT OUT: COLOR ME AUTUMN - Saturday, September 12 @6:30-9:00 pm (demonstration)
  • Sip on a maple Manhattan cocktail, then enjoy roasted fennel hummus with red pepper oil and baked pita chips, Brussels sprouts and pear panzanella salad with creamy pomegranate dressing, coq au Riesling, fresh cavatelli pasta with green apple pesto, plus pumpkin gooey butter cake with white chocolate sorbet.
ORIGINAL CIN - Saturday, September 19 @12:00-2:30 pm (demonstration)
  • Sip on a ginger champagne cocktail, and enjoy Sriracha caramel popcorn, roasted carrot-red quinoa salad with spiced lemon vinaigrette, kung pao shrimp and scallop noodles, plus chai tea cake with cinnamon ice cream.

April 12, 2015

Cinnamon-Currant Rolls

I keep multiple lists of recipes I want to make. Cinnamon rolls, all kinds of cinnamon rolls--traditional, bacon-caramel, lemon-blueberry, raspberry-almond--appear on those lists. I've never made them before because they've always seemed so...daunting. It's that dough phobia of mine again.

Last Friday, when I felt like spending a few hours in the kitchen, I finally made one of those cinnamon roll recipes.

When I approach a new dish, I usually follow the recipe verbatim. I usually tweak the ingredients or amounts the second time around. This recipe was much easier than I expected, but I would play around with it next time. It was way too sweet and rich. I'd cut back the amount of sugar in the filling and not use as much butter in the icing. 

Still, they were pretty delicious...decadently so. 

Cinnamon-Currant Rolls
adapted from Lauren's Latest

For the dough:
1 cup warm buttermilk
4 1/2 teaspoons (2 packages) Rapid Rise instant yeast
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4+ cups bread flour

For the filling:
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried currants (or raisins)
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch cake pan.
  • To make the dough: In small saucepan, heat the buttermilk over low heat just until warm. Stir in the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let proof for 5 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Pour the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients. Start to stir on low. Add in the egg and the oil. Scrape edges of bowl to stir flour in evenly. Switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 minutes on low, until it pulls away from the bowl and is smooth. If the dough isn't coming together, add a couple tablespoons of milk. 
  • Rest the dough for 5 minutes while you prepare the filling.
  • To make the filling: Melt the butter & let it cool. Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • Sprinkle a silicone pastry mat (or a clean counter) with flour and roll dough to be about 18x24.
  • Brush with the melted butter, leaving just a bit for the tops. Spread the sugar-cinnamon mixture all over the dough and spread with your hands, creating an even layer. Sprinkle the currants over the sugar. *
  • Roll the dough into a tight log. Cut off the uneven ends to even out the log. Slice your rolls into 12 even pieces and place in the prepared pan. 
  • Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the tops start to brown lightly. Pour the icing over the rolls while they are still warm. 

For the icing:
1 stick unsalted utter, melted
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
2-3 tablespoons milk (if needed)
  • Melt the butter over low heat.
  • Add the sugar to a mixing bowl, stir in the melted butter and vanilla. If the icing is too thick, stir in a couple tablespoons of milk.
* Confession: I was so excited about making these, that I forgot to sprinkle the currants inside the rolls. Instead, I sprinkled them on top. It worked just as well.

April 5, 2015

Shepherd's Pie

Why have I never made Shepherd's Pie before? I wonder because I made it for dinner on Friday--a cold, rainy Spring evening--and now I want to eat it every day. 

Disclaimer: I actually only made this to impress my dead sexy Scottish boyfriend. I think it worked. *fingers crossed*

According to Cook's Info, "Shepherd's Pie probably originated in Scotland and in the north of England. Originally, it was made from chunks of meat, probably leftover from a roast. [...] The dish as we know it, though, couldn't have originated before potatoes became generally accepted in the UK, which wasn't until the end of the 1700s. Before that, the dish--or a very similar one--was made in Scotland but topped with a pastry crust instead of mashed potato. The name [Shepherd's Pie] appeared in the 1870s." 

This dish is called Shepherd's Pie when it's made with lamb, Cottage Pie when it's made with beef. But with ground lamb readily available in most major supermarkets and farmers markets these days, why wouldn't you use lamb? 

Besides, it's just so Eastery and Springy. A perfect dinner for those chilly April nights. 

Shepherd's Pie
slightly adapted from Alton Brown

March 30, 2015

Labneh with Olives, Hazelnuts, and Mint

Spring is finally here. My daffodils are blooming. The trees and bushes are budding. Green grass is poking through the lawn. I feel like spring is the time the entire planet exhales after a long winter, releasing all the pent up tension of the past three months. Usually, I hold my breath all winter long....waiting for the next bout of depression, the next panic attack.


This winter has been much different. Thankfully. Since December, there hasn't been as much sadness or anxiety. I've taken deeper breaths of life. So, this spring has a different feel as well. Instead of relief that another cold, dark winter has passed, I feel energized by the longer days and warmer sunshine.

Just as the earth renews itself in spring, I feel renewed every time I cook. It's the creating something that is so worthwhile for me. (That's also why I've been so into knitting lately...the creation of something new.)

So, when I needed to do some creating in the kitchen, I decided to make cheese.

Labneh is a Middle Eastern cheese made by straining yogurt. Draining out the whey results in creamy, soft curds that retain the tanginess of the yogurt. Labneh is typically drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with mint, and served with pita seasoned with za'atar (a blend of oregano, thyme, marjoram, and savory, sesame seeds, and sumac).

I topped my homemade cheese with a salty, sour, crunchy, fragrant mixture of olives, lemon, hazelnuts, and mint. Easy and impressive.

Labneh with Olives, Hazelnuts, and Mint
slightly adapted from The Design Files