Archive for March, 2009

Technical Difficulties

March 31, 2009

They say bad things come in three’s, right?

One:  Yesterday, my monitor died.  The good news is that they will send a new one which should arrive Wednesday or Thursday.  The bad news is that I can’t post any recipes until then.  Not to worry, I have some good ones waiting in the wings.

Two:  I seem to have a flat tire this morning.

Three:  I got laid off by my original and most loyal client.  More detailes when I am not on a community center computer.

Salad as a Meal

March 27, 2009


My journey in cooking and baking has been a series of small steps with small successes.  It goes a little something like this.  I got interested in cooking for myself, I bought a book, I started cooking.  I had success.  I got a little confidence and branched out to slightly more complex dishes.  I had success.  I got more confident and branched out more.  And so on and so on.  (Baking went a little more like this.  “Oh, I don’t think I can make a cake.”  “What do you know, I can make a cake!”  “Oh, I don’t think I can make a pie.”  “What do you know, I can make a pie.”  And so on.)

Certain dishes I actually remember for their confidence boosting ability.  I made this salad one summer when I was in my early 20’s and had just started on my cooking journey.  In those days, my parents would throw a party around my birthday, which is at the end of July, and invite all of their and my friends.  One year we had it catered and every year after that, my mom and I did all the cooking.  That first year is when I made this salad.  People raved.  They asked me for the recipe.  It was the only dish that was completely gone at the end of the evening.  I liked that I had made something that people ate and loved.  I wanted to do more.

These many (many) years later, I am still making this very same salad.  I have made it for parties at my house and lunches I have catered.  It travels well, can be made in advance, and is adaptable.  This is not a wimpy salad – it has all kinds of vegetables that have been roasted to bring out their individual flavors.  The potatoes in it give the salad heft, but there aren’t so many of them that it becomes heavy.  It has an assertive dressing that will become a standby for you.  It’s the perfect thing to serve when you want to eat salad but are hungry for something more.

Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable Salad
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 10

The original recipe says that this serves 20, but unless you have it out on a buffet with lots of other things to choose from, I would say it serves 10.  I made it this week for two different dinners, one for four people and one for two people and there was only a tiny bit left at the end of the second dinner.

1 1/2 pound eggplant, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 large red onions, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 pounds red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 large red peppers, cut into 1 inch chunks
4 zucchini, halved lengthwise, cut into 1 inch chunks
Olive oil
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup chopped basil
2 heads raddichio, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 5oz. package arugula
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated or shaved Pecorino Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Arrange eggplant and red pepper on one large baking sheet.  Arrange potatoes and red onion on the other.  Drizzle both sheets of vegetables with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.  Mix well with your  hands.  Roast vegetables until tender and light golden, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes for peppers and eggplant; about 1 hour for potatoes and onions.

Once peppers and eggplant are done, transfer to large bowl, then add zucchini to same baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.  Roast for 20-25 minutes.  Remove all vegetables to bowl with peppers and eggplant.

Combine mustard and vinegar in small bowl.  Gradually mix in 4 tbsp. of olive oil.  Add basil and mix well.  Arrange arugula and radicchio on large platter.  Spoon vegetable mixture over and drizzle with dressing.  Top with grated or shaved Pecorino Romano.

(Vegetables can be roasted 1 day ahead.  Allow to cool completely, then cover and refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature before serving.  Dressing, without basil, can be made 3 days ahead and refrigerated.  Bring to room temperature and then stir in basil.)

The New Dana Treat

March 26, 2009

Welcome!  It’s so nice to see you here.  I’d like to say I just whipped up this whole new look to celebrate my 150th post, but the truth is that this has been in the works for some time.  I have to give  a huge shout-out and even bigger thank you to Kaytlyn at Beneficial Design for making my blog dreams come true.  Not only did she interpret my vision and make it reality, but she also added all the user-friendly things I asked for.  Plus she was just a dream to work with and always answered my questions, no matter how stupid they were.

Besides the new look, here are some things that I hope will make your Dana Treat experience better and easier.  You can now subscribe either via RSS feed or through email.  You can search for recipes.  You can find out more about me and the work I do.  You can print recipes only (no photos or rest of the post.)  So many new things!  I hope you enjoy all the changes.  Please let me know what you think!

This is Not a Muffin

March 24, 2009

Individual Blueberry-Coconut Pound Cake

I know it looks like a muffin, but it’s actually an Individual Blueberry-Coconut Pound Cake. In my book, that’s much better than a muffin which, in all my baking adventures, I have never made. I would blame my lack of muffin baking on my lack of interest in breakfast, but that hasn’t stopped me from making coffee cake, scones, or granola. Sometimes I just can’t explain myself.

Anyway, this is one of those recipes where it just makes so much sense to double it. It takes no extra effort and all you need is two muffin tins. Or even 1 regular size and one mini-size. Take the ones you aren’t going to eat right away, wrap them well in foil, and put them in the freezer. Then you have a homemade dessert for the next time people drop by unexpectedly. Or for the next time you just need to pull one or two out just for you.

Individual Blueberry-Coconut Pound Cake
Makes 9

This is the original recipe, i.e. not doubled.

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
cup sugar
2 tsp. freshly grated lime zest

2 large eggs

5 tbsp. heavy cream

1 cup flour

tsp. salt
cup plus 3 tbsp. sweetened flaked coconut
cup blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour 9 (1/2 cup) muffin cups. (DN: I sprayed mine with Pam.)

Beat together butter, sugar, and zest until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in cream, then flour and salt, on low speed until just combined. Stir in 1/2 cup coconut and gently stir in blueberries.

Spoon batter into cups and smooth tops. Sprinkle tops with remaining 3 tbsp. coconut. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean and edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Invert onto a rack and cool.

(DN: If you plan to freeze some, wrap them well in foil, then place in a plastic bag – like those you find in the produce department at the grocery store.)

Teasing You with a Tart

March 23, 2009


It’s a beauty isn’t it? It was delicious too. I want to share this recipe with you all, but I can’t just yet.

You see, this tart has issues. Crust issues and filling issues. It doesn’t have flavor issues which is why I’m even willing to give another chance.

This recipe comes from one of my all time favorite cookbooks, Fields of Greens, written by Annie Sommerville, the chef at Greens Restaurant in San Francisco. It is a book I turn to when I want to make something special. The recipes are not difficult, but many require a fair amount of work. In my experience, that work has always been worth it because the payoff is something truly special and delicious. And the recipes always turn out.

The crust she suggests you use is a yeasted tart dough. I have used it for other tarts in this and Sommerville’s other book, Everyday Greens, and I have decided that it’s just not for me. It’s easy to make and work with, but I don’t like the texture. I expect my tart crust to be crisp, as a foil for the creaminess of the filling. The yeasted dough felt like I was eating tart filling on top of a slice of bread.

I had some galette dough in my freezer so I decided to try that. It wasn’t quite right either, not crisp enough for me when made in a tart pan, although plenty crisp when used for the galette. Clearly, I need another option.

The biggest tinkering challenge I have ahead of me is the filling. The proportions are way off in this recipe – something I find very surprising coming from this extremely reliable cookbook. There is about one and half times too much filling so that, even though I held quite a bit of it back, it started to run over the top and outside the tart pan (read: onto the floor of my oven.) Yes, I had a baking sheet in there to catch the drips, but I was making two tarts and the baking sheet wasn’t quite big enough to catch all the goop. Side note: you know how high end cars (like Porsches) famously don’t have cup holders? My high end (Viking) oven does not have a timer or a self-cleaning option. Sigh.

So the recipe makes too much filling, and what it does make is too runny. Normally, if a recipe gave me this much trouble, I would just write in bold letters, “DO NOT MAKE AGAIN” in my cookbook. But this was really tasty and the flavor is haunting me. There is Gruyere cheese in there and chervil, people. This tart deserves another chance.

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