Wednesday, October 29, 2014
My Mediterranean Couscous Salad is a crowd pleaser!
When I first stared making it, with Israeli or pearl couscous, years ago it was very hard to find in the mainstream market. Now all you have to do is meander to the pasta and rice aisle and you’ll find it.
You cook it just like pasta.
Add a few fresh herbs and veggies along with some briny olives and tart vinaigrette, you’ll have yourself a super side dish.
Here’s the recipe.
2 C pearl couscous (another name is Israeli Couscous)
¼ C chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ C chopped fresh mint leaves
¼ C chopped fresh basil leaves
½ C Calamata olives, pitted & sliced lengthwise
¼ C red bell pepper, minced
½ C green onion, thinly sliced
Zest of one medium lemon
Bring one quart of water to a boil in a 3-quart, heavy saucepan.
Stir in couscous and simmer, uncovered, up to 10 minutes or until couscous is al dente (cooks just like pasta).
Drain couscous and transfer to medium bowl.
Pour ½ of vinaigrette (see recipe below) over warm couscous and stir to incorporate. Add parsley, mint, basil, bell pepper, olives, green onion and zest. Mix thoroughly.
Taste for flavor and texture.
Add more vinaigrette if too dry.
Add more salt and pepper for seasoning if necessary.
Yields 6-8 side servings.
*Refrigerator storage for up to one week in a tightly sealed container.
1/4C fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ C extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
Place all ingredients into a container and tightly seal.
Shake vigorously until all ingredients emulsify (combine).
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
If you have a craving for a sumptuous piece of beef but are on a budget my Sherry Glazed Beef Tenderloin Bites with Garlic and Parsley recipe is just the ticket.
With just a pound of beef tenderloin, a few aromatics and some quick technique you’ll have an elegant dinner for two; in no time at all.
Here’s the recipe.
2 tsp of kosher salt
1 tsp of freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. beef tenderloin, 1in cubes
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1⁄4 C Sherry
1⁄4 C rough chopped Italian parsley
Generously season beef with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a heavy bottom sauté pan, heat oil on high heat until almost smoking. Place beef into pan and sear. (Approximately 45 seconds).
Add garlic. Once you can lift pieces of beef up off the bottom of the pan easily, turn each piece over and sear other side. Cook meat until done to your preference.
Take pan off heat and pour in sherry. Shake pan gently.
Place back on heat (medium high) to deglaze pan. Reduce sherry by 1⁄4. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Transfer meat and sauce to a serving platter. Serve immediately.
Yields 2 main servings.
Monday, October 20, 2014
There is nothing like a super fresh green lettuce salad to accompany a hearty Fall meal. Add a vinaigrette with a mild acidic bite and you have a perfect foil that cuts through richness of stews, roasts and braised dishes.
Keep it simple and you’ll be set for every weekday meal.
Here’s the recipe.
4 C of mixed green lettuce, gently torn into bite size pieces.
1/4 C of red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp of kosher salt
1/8 tsp of fresh ground black pepper
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
Fill a medium size bowl with lettuce. Set aside.
In a Mason jar or small plastic container, pour red wine vinegar.
Add kosher salt.
Seal tightly and shake vigorously (which will dissolve the salt).
Once dissolved, open and add ground black pepper and olive oil.
Again, seal tightly and shake vigorously until vinegar and oil have come together.
Pour 2 Tbsp of vinaigrette over lettuce.
Mix gently so that vinaigrette surrounds each piece of lettuce.
Add more vinaigrette if necessary.
Place on serving platter and serve immediately.
Yields 2 medium side salads.
*Sealed tightly the vinaigrette will hold for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Yellow squash is of the summer season. In fact, it is also known by its season, summer squash. So why would I offer you a summer ingredient as we embark on Fall?
First, it is available in the market. Second, I’m going to kick it up by adding a warming spice, yellow curry powder.
Yellow curry powder is made of some of the world’s most extraordinary spices and aromatics including but not excluding, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, garlic salt, bay leaf, lemongrass, cayenne, pepper, ginger, mace and cinnamon.
Yellow squash dusted with a bit of yellow curry powder is, quite frankly, a pair made in heaven.
A pairing that provides a bit warmth for cool Fall days.
Try it for yourself. Here’s the recipe.
1 lb fresh yellow squash
1 tsp yellow curry powder
¾ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Cut stem and bottom off each squash.
Slice squash into ¼” to ½” medallions and set aside.
In a medium bowl mix curry powder, salt, pepper and olive oil.
Place sliced squash into bowl with curry mixture.
Stir gently so that curry mixture coats both side of each piece of squash.
Heat a large skillet over high heat.
Add the squash and sauté for up to 1 minute.
Shake pan to move squash around.
Reduce heat to medium and sauté for up to 3 minutes or until squash is tender.
(Watch squash while cooking and gently stir as necessary.)
Take off heat, place on a platter and serve immediately.
Yields 4-6 side servings.
*Can be eaten at room temperature
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Fall has arrived in Austin, TX. As such, I’m starting to think about rich, warming braised and roasted meats and all the yummy sides to go along with them. Hence, this is a recipe for Asian Slaw with Sesame Seeds.
This side is what we call a foil; a contrast in flavors, which in turn enhances its’ mate. In basic form it is just a cabbage salad. With the addition of cilantro, Asian seasoned rice vinegar and sesame seeds, however, it adds that fresh and tart bite giving it distinction.
Here’s the recipe.
3C of package slaw mix
1/4C rough chopped cilantro
1/2C red bell pepper, julienned
1/4C green onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp white/hulled sesame seeds
1 tsp black sesame seeds
1/4C seasoned rice vinegar
1/2C extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp of fresh ground pepper
In a medium bowl place slaw, cilantro, bell pepper and onion.
Mix gently and set aside.
In a Mason jar place all vinaigrette ingredients and cover tightly with lid.
Shake vigorously to incorporate all liquids together.
Pour half of vinaigrette on slaw and mix, coating all ingredients.
Add more if necessary and to taste.
Cover bowl tightly and place in refrigerator for up to 1 hour to overnight.
With a slotted spoon, spoon slaw from bowl to a decorative platter and serve.
Yields 6 side servings.
*May be stored in refrigerator for up to one week.
Thursday, October 09, 2014
My friends from Salazon Chocolate Co. asked me to write a recipe for them. When I said YES (notice the caps) they sent me some chocolate.
I said yes because I really love chocolate and I’m a sucker for a new brand. So, while walking through Whole Foods Market their bars caught my eye.
It’s marketed to the outdoors person such as a hiker or backpacker; someone who needs a little extra energy after a long journey. There are several to choose from like72% Organic Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt & Organic Cayenne and the one I’m using for this recipe:
Organic Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt & Organic Turbinado Cane Sugar.
This recipe is one that I’ve been using for years. One which came out of my love for Spain and tapas. It combines traditional Spanish flavors and makes for a light snack or dessert after a Fall meal.
Here’s the recipe:
1 large orange, seedless
1 Tbls of cinnamon
1 bar, Salazon Chocolate (Dark Chocolate w/Sea Salt &Organic Turbinado Cane Sugar)
Slice orange in half between stem & bottom.
Slice each half. You now have 4 quarters.
Slice each quarter into ¼- ½” slices.
Arrange orange slices on a platter.
Sprinkle cinnamon down the center of each orange slice.
Break off pieces of the chocolate bar.
Yields up to 4 servings; 2 oranges slices per person & several pieces of chocolate.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
There’s nothing quite like experiencing Harrods in London with a bubbling pink glass of champagne.
And I only just found out about it this visit.
Today was all about going to some of my favorite shopping spots in London. Luckily my husband, Mike, was game. We first meandered off toward Portabella Road for a quick look at Books for Cooks and a big round of walking and negotiating our way our the tube (London’s metro sytem). With a great morning under our belt we made our way to the famous Harrods.
Harrods takes up one full block of London real estate and has seven floors of pure shopping bliss.While some of my more fashion forward friends might make a day (or even a week) out of exploring, we had only a few hours. So, we hit the floors that offered what we wanted; shoes, men/ladies fashion and food.
This is my third visit to Harrods and my first to taste champagne. While you can enjoy a respite in the food courts (and I suggest you do) for a bit of quite and calm make your way to the third floor.
Nestled between Lingerie and Designer Classics sits The Champgane Bar and Restaurant. And believe me, it IS the perfect sit-down break for weary world travelers.
We had a glass of the Harrods Own Label pink champagne. It was fabulous and just the right amount of bubbles to make a girl happy!
Cheers from Harrods.
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
For those of you who haven’t been to Hillside Farmacy on the Eastside of Austin, Texas here are a few images of what I saw and ate during my first visit.
Sitting tranquilly on a corner lot of a busy 11th Street corner this restaurant buzzes with constant activity. I was there right after a Friday lunch rush. This is the time between 1:30 and 4p when things settle down a bit, shifts change and preparation for dinner is just beginning behind the scenes. And that’s why I got to sit in a quiet little corner looking out and into a restaurant that was beginning to charm me.
The concept is pharmacy-esque with old-school warm woods and a new-school hip color scheme that is pleasing to the eye; at least mine.
One of the new trends I’ve noticed in restaurants is the absence of salt and pepper on the table; unless it’s a signiture blend or a cool color. A primary and learned technique in culinary school is how to season with salt and pepper. The ideology is that if this is done correctly there is no need for seasoning (salt & pepper) on the table. That said, I like to have the choice and HF gives you that in the form of two cobalt blue bottles with definitive labels.
Stepping into the restaurant you’re met with a professional staff and fun people watching.
I had a the Fried Egg Sandwich with Bacon. And it was REAL GOOD!
For a Friday afternoon jaunt to the Eastside of Austin it was well worth it. This first timer left with a happy belly and big smile.
Thank you Hillside Farmacy. I’ll be back.
p.s. Love the “farmacy girl” on the lavatory door.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
“I’ll have a French Coffee, please,” I said to the lovely lady behind the counter. “Do you know what French Coffee is?” she softly intoned with a whisper of a French accent. Quizzically, I shrugged my shoulders. She smiled and explained that a French coffee was a shot of espresso with whipped cream. With her hand she measured how much of each went into the coffee mug. When I saw that the volume of whipped cream was twice the amount of espresso, I was sold. “Yes, I’ll have one, please!” I said.
This was my first experience at what was then a quickly becoming known French cafe named, Baguette et Chocolat.
An authentic French bakery and cafe it stands alone in the small Uplands Shopping Center just off Bee Cave Road and is a stones throw from HWY 71. It’s right smack dab in the middle one of Austin’s newer suburban landscapes; the City of Bee Cave.
Walking into the cafe you would never know. On any given day you can count at least 2 to 3 different languages; including French. It lends itself to feeling as if you’re somewhere else. Perhaps Paris?!? And like any good Parisian cafe this one is bustling and very well patronized.
Why? Maybe it’s little touches that the patrons love; an area for the wee ones with their very own flat screen TV; not having to wait long for a seat even in the busiest times; adding new items but not changing the core menu; a huge ladies lavatory full of natural light. It could be any one of these things.
But my guess is it’s the bread, pastry, macaroon and the traditional French dishes like salty and sweet crepes, quiche, salads and baguette sandwiches.
The menu is wonderful. Fresh bread is made and baked daily.From a traditional baguette to a new 6-Seed sourdough batard there are many to choose from. My favorite to take home and toast is the sourdough batard; crusty on the outside, chewy and airy on the inside. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the olive batard. It has two different types of olive slices gently nestled inbetween layers of chewy baked dough. And has just the right amount of brininess.
Pastry is center stage eyeing you seductively as you stand in line to place your order. The ubiquitous Americanized croissant doesn’t even compare to the one found here. Biting into one it’s as if the crunchy buttery layers melt into a whispered remembrance of your favorite place in the world, until you take another bite.
Fruit tarts, decadent chocolate cakes and eclairs make a strong showing for desserts. For a lighter option there are any number of different flavored macaroon. And , one of my favorites, the financier; a small French sponge-like cake.
The prepared breakfast and lunch items are magnificently French. Starting with the traditional buckwheat crepe you can choose either salty (savory) or sweet. Salty crepes are filled with ingredients like rich cheeses, ham and mushrooms. Sweet crepes are filled with jams and (of course) Nutella. And as you can see from my friend, Karen (who spent 5 years living in Paris), they incite an inevidable level of anticipation and happiness that can only be found here. She literally comes from Central Austin just to have a crepe.
Sandwiches and salads are another option. Sandwiches start out with a half baguette with layers of fresh ingredients such as salty ham, creamy brie, tuna cucumbers and crisp lettuce topped off with an aioli or herbed vinegar. Salads come out in bowls piled high with mixed baby greens. The house made vinaigrette has a soft sweet tang and dresses the lettuce lightly. Salad Niciose is a house favorite.
If you can’t stay for breakfast or lunch - no problem. Take-out is just as popular. And if you’re lucky a handsome French lad will meet you, arms full of your own specified hand crafted treats.
Ready for a trip to France via Paris? It’s simple! Just jump in your car and make your way to this little gem. Even if you’re not an espresso whipped cream coffee person there’s obviously something for everyone.
I want to claim Baguette et Chocolat as MY own little food find in MY little neck of the woods but I really can’t.
It’s been found!
Here are my recommendations for your first or next visit:
*Paris - Austin Eclair
*Ham & Cheese
*My Grandpa’s Banh Mi
*Salad with Chevre Chaud
Baguette et Chocolate is on FaceBook
Baguette et Chocolate is on the Web
Baguette et Chocolate is on Twitter
12101 FM 2244 (Bee Caves Rd.) 78738
Tuesday - Thursday 7a to 5:30p
Saturday 7a to 4p
Sunday 8a to 2p
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
In my senior year of high school I got this wild baking idea: I would make chocolate chip cookies for the varsity football team during their playing season.
Every Thursday evening after our family’s supper I would gather all my ingredients in preparation for an evening of baking. Then I’d painstakingly cream butter and sugar together, add the eggs and vanilla, sift dry ingredients then combine all these ingredients together - by hand. Gently I would drop spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheets and spend what seemed like hours baking. After they came out of the oven I would set them on racks to cool. Then I would count them out by the dozen placing them in perfectly even rows.
Not one family member was to touch them until I knew the end count.
Finally, I would dole them out into bags. When Friday morning arrived I’d proudly take those bags to school and hand them out to “my” team.
My well intentioned weekly project got the better of me when finally after several games one of the guys came up to me and said, “Beth, we love you and the cookies you make for us but we can’t eat them before or after the game because it might make us sick.”
So, with a bittersweet memory and the craving for sugar and chocolate I give you a fail safe recipe for the best Super Bowl Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie.
Here’s to the end of football season but not my cookie making pleasure!
1 stick + 6 Tbls of unsalted butter, soften to room temperature
3/4 C Turbinado or Raw Cane sugar
1/2 C granulated sugar
3 large eggs - whole
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3 C old fashioned oats
2 C chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven 350F
Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl.
Add eggs, vanilla and stir to incorporate all ingredients. It does not have to be perfectly smooth. However, I used a whisk which helps break up the bigger pieces of butter and or sugar.
In a seperate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Then gently add into liquid mixture and stir to combine.
With a spatula scrape the inside of the bowl to incorporate all the flour mixture into the liquid.
Once thoroughly mixed add your old fashioned oats and chocolate. Fold all ingredients into the other.
Using a 2” wide ice-cream scoop, fill it with dough and level the top off. Place measured dough onto a parchment papered half baking sheet; 2 rows of 3.
Place into the preheated oven, center of the middle shelf and bake for 12 minutes. Open oven, rotate sheet once (back to front), close oven and bake for 5 minutes. Take cookies out of oven, set aside to cool. Repeat until the cookie dough is gone.
Eat with abandon!
Yields 21 - 3 1/4” cookies.
*I used 60% cacoa bittersweet chocolate. It lends a more distictive intense chocolate flavor to the cookie itself.
*Since these chocolate chips were larger I did a quick chop to make them go further.
*Notice (see pictures above) how I used 3 different tools to mix; wooden spoon, whisk and spatula. I DID make this batch of cookies by hand and I wanted to show you the progression of mixing tools which was contigent on how I had to mix and what would work best as the mixture progressed. Obviously you can use a standing mixer like a KitchenAid. It does make life easier.
* I took some major liberties by adding & exchanging some ingredients. And you can too! I did follow the basic oatmeal cookie recipe you’ll find on the inside top of the Quaker Oats Oatmeal container.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Cooking Thanksgiving dinner can be a whole lotta fun and often times a stressor of sorts; what to make (excluding the obvious), how to make it, will there be enough food, will everything come out at the same time etc…etc…etc… Over the years I’ve made it a point to simplify. Which means someone else has the responsibility of cooking the turkey and I the sides.
So last night Mike walked in from the garden with an armful of greens; a veritable bouquet of Chard, Purple Kale & Broccoli Rabe.
Gorgeous! The purple stems are purple kale.
Mike, who is a good cook himself (he cooks the turkey), proceeded to prep the greens for cooking by chopping the stems very small so that they would cook quickly.
He then continued on to the leaves with a rough chop (bigger pieces than the stems). And put all the prepped greens into a saute pan.
Then onto the stove it went.
A Saute of Greens is a fresh, simple and quick way to complement the Thanksgiving Day Dinner; no matter who cooks it!
Here’s the recipe.
1 lb of your favorite green, rough chop (stems ooptional - chopped very small)
1 Tbls of extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp of kosher salt
1/2 tsp of fresh ground pepper
Turn your stove burner to medium high. Place a large saute pan on that burner and add olive oil. While olive oil is heating add your greens and sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Begin turning the greens over and over until they begin wilting. Once they have cooked down, turn the stove down to low, cover and cook for 5 to 10 more minutes or until greens soften but still have a crunch (yes you must test). Once done ladle greens out into a bowl and serve immediately.
Yields 6 side servings.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
While I wouldn’t say I’m a Halloween lover there are a few things that I do like to keep in fashion around my house, Casa Pav. And that is the decor that in itself demontrates the holiday.
When I first began picking up pieces for my Halloween decor I had kids in mind. My husband and I were working on the “task” of having children and I felt like I should start preparing by buying all sorts of fun holiday decor pieces. Which goes right in line with my MO; not being too practical. I was all about the surface decoration rather than the real inside preparedness of having a child.
Sadly, the kid thing didn’t work out for us. However, the decor did and still does. It’s sure not a replacement. But it does make me feel good to have a few designated pieces of Halloween or that which demonstrates it placed around my home.
Dining Room Table
Each piece has it’s place whether outside or inside. One of my favorites is the candy corn man that sits outside greeting people when they visit. Another is the witchy pumpkin cat that sits upon the counter in the guest bathroom.
So, for not having a pure love for Halloween I think I’m doing pretty good. I keep the decor simple; a little elegant and weirdly somewhat full of smiles.
Happy Halloween from Casa Pav - sans kids!
Monday, September 23, 2013
Let’s face it, Boursin cheese is one of the best flavored cheeses around. It’s an airy, buttery and herb cacophony that bursts open on your tongue. Then melts to nothingness leaving you wanting more and more and more…
The first time I ever tried Boursin, I made it myself. I had been hired, whilst in culinary school, to help cook for a small catering event. I was instructed to make an appetizer of baby potato w/ a dollop of boursin cheese; a finger food to pop into your mouth in one bite. I was told that buying Boursin was fine (and delicious) but based on the amount we needed making it would be just as easy. So there I was making a batch of Boursin.
In truth, and in a pinch, I do buy Boursin. Making it though is an infinate treat. I made some for a dinner party this weekend. With herbs still growing in our gardens all I needed was a few ingredients from the market. Can you name all the herbs?
Here’s the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
16 ounces (2 packages) cream cheese, room temperature
1/8 C of whole whipping cream
12 stems of thyme, leaves only
3-4 sage leaves
5 3” sprigs of majoram, leaves only
1 3” sprig of rosemary, needles only
1 4” sprig of tarrogon (or Mexican marigold), leaves only
15 chives, minced
2 medium cloves fresh garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Process untill all ingredients incorporate and the mixture becomes a smooth paste. Pour into an airtight container. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Tips & Uses
*Bring to room temperature to soften.
*To melt, place in microwave for a few minutes, checking and stirring at intervals.
*Can be used as a spread and/or dipping sauce.
Friday, September 13, 2013
Tomato season is all but over here in Texas. We have a few months each year that produce some pretty luscious fruits. These colorful globes can be picked right from the vine and popped into the mouth. Their sun-kissed warmth, acidity and juiciness just about make any dish delightful to the eye; not too mention devoured.
This sandwich is one of my favorites. It’s best made during tomato season and with a fresh made loaf of olive bread.
As summer ends this is my final farewell to the Tomato, Basil, Aioli & Olive Bread Sandwich. Until next year’s tomato harvest….
2 slices of fresh olive bread, 1/4”-1/” slices
1 Tbls of aoili (or your favorite mayo)
1 medium vine ripened tomato, sliced 1/4” thick
Pinch of salt and pepper
4 large basil leaves
Take 1/2 of the aioli and spread evenly on one piece of bread. Repeat process on 2nd piece of bread. Lay each piece of bread side by side. On one slice of bread place 3 slices of tomato so that it covers the entire piece of bread. Sprinkle salt and pepper on tomatoes. On top of tomato place basil leaves. Place 2nd slice of bread on top of basil leaves. Gently press down. Cut sanwich down the center for 2 pieces. Eat immediately. Enjoy!
Yields 1 sandwich.
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
What is The Tim-tastic Salad? Well, it’s the one salad I wait for all year; THE salad of our annual summer beach vaycay. It’s full of all good things; lettuce, cabbage, tomato, carrot, nuts, dried fruit and cheese. And there is only one person who makes it just right - Tim.
When I asked Tim what inspired him to make his salad he said he just loves the combination of ingredients. Also, he can change things up if he wants to; nothing is set in stone. Interestingly, Tim doesn’t work with measurements for this particular salad. He considers measurement, though, by aligning all his ingredients on a cutting board.
Who knew when we arrived at our beach destination yesterday that there were thoughts of making one of my favorite salads for supper. A super refreshing, lite and healthful way to start a beach vacation with good friends.
Dubbed especially by Tim’s daughter, Grace, THE Tim-tastic Salad is a definative keeper. Here’s to it!
3 cups your favorite lettuce, rough chop
1 cup red cabbage, shredded or cut into 1/4” pieces
1 cup of baby tomato, sliced lengthwise
1-2 cup(s) carrot, sliced 1/4” pieces
1/2 cup any nut of your choice
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 - 1 cup of feta cheese, crumbled
Place all ingredients on a cutting board. In a large bowl begin layering 1/2 of each ingredient on top of the other in this order:
Repeat layering until all ingredients are in the bowl.
Serve immediately with your favoite dressing or vinaigrette.
*In addition to the ingredients above you can add peppers, onion etc…
*If you get tired of Feta cheese you can replace it with Parmesan cheese.
*Layering ingredients is a gentle way of incorporating ingredients. Also it prevents the smaller & heavier ingredients dropping to the bottom once mixed.
p.s I took the liberty of adding some measurements to help you get started.