Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Yogurt-Filled Crepes with Apple and Cranberry Compote and a #Giveaway

Crepes are so fun - thin little pancakes that you can do so much with. They can be sweet or they can be savory. They can be breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or dessert.

They can be whatever you want them to be.

I didn't grow up eating crepes, and the first time I had them, they were cheese blintzes. I thought they were magical. I had no idea how easy they were to make.

Of course, it helps if you have a decent recipe and a good pan to work with.

One of my lucky readers WILL have a pan to work with, because I'm giving one away, courtesy of Anolon. They asked me to create a recipe, so you have that, too. My recipe is a yogurt-filled crepe topped with a seasonal apple-cranberry compote. Follow the link to find it on the Anolon website.

You want this recipe, particularly at this time of year when cranberries are so plentiful.

The beauty of these crepes is that they're so versatile. With a plain yogurt, they're a lovely lunch crepe. But if you use a flavored or sweetened yogurt, the crepes transform into a perfect breakfast or brunch crepe. Add some whipped cream or a dollop of ice cream, and these crepes would make a lovely dessert.

You could, of course, switch things around and fill the crepes with the compote and top it with yogurt, whipped cream, or ice cream, but the compote is so pretty, I thought it was a shame to hide it inside the crepe. It really wanted to be shown off.

If you have extra compote, I'm sure you'll find a use for it. And then you might want to make more. Because it's really really good.

As far as the pan, it's an Anolon 9.5 inch Advanced Bronze pan. It's a pleasure to use - light enough to be able to easily swirl the batter over and over and over while you're making a lot of crepes. And it's very nonstick. The crepes slide right out of the pan when they're done.

And ... shhhh ... the pan is also very useful for heating or reheating tortillas. And for reheating your crepes, too. I think you'll get a lot of use out of it. If you're the lucky winner who gets one.

Thanks to Anolon for sponsoring this post and for supplying the pan to the winner!


Monday, November 23, 2015

Fajitas! And a really sharp #Giveaway

A while back, I read a quote from a chef who commented that cooking is fun because you get to play with knives and fire.

I can't disagree. There's something incredibly satisfying about cutting meats and vegetables and fruits with good knives. It's a pleasure rather than a chore. So when my buddies at Virtual Potluck teamed up with WÜSTHOF, I was pretty excited about the new kitchen weapons.

We each received the CLASSIC 5-inch Serrated Slicing Knife and the CLASSIC 2-Piece Extra Wide Chef Set that includes a 4-inch paring knife and a 6-inch cook’s knife. AND I have the same knives that I'll be giving to one of my readers.

The first time I used the serrated knife to slice a tomato, I nearly swooned. I like using serrated knives to cut tomatoes, but this one is so much better than other knives I have. So much. Much like the serrated bread knife that I received as a gift to celebrate my book contract, this was a knife I didn't know I needed until I used it. Now I'm in love with it.


And the other two knives are pretty darned nice, too. The wide cook's knife is great for slicing, and the width makes it wonderful for smashing garlic or scooping up what's been cut.

The paring knife is sweet, too. It make peeling things much more fun, and it's also great for cutting small things, like when I'm slicing limes for cocktails.

The first thing I thought of cooking that would show of the knives was fajitas. First, I love Mexican food. And Mexican-inspired food.  And second, fajitas require a lot of slicing. And different kinds of slicing.

I opted for steak fajitas. But what kind of steak? The usual suspects for fajitas are skirt steak, flank steak, or flap meat. But the secret is that you can pretty much use any kind of steak you like, as long as you slice the meat into small, thin pieces. I decided to use a boneless ribeye.

I also decided to use a LOT of vegetables. Because I like them.

The one thing I didn't do (that I usually do) is that I didn't go crazy with toppings. I usually end up with way too many toppings whenever I serve something in a tortilla. This time, I limited it to an avocado crema, fresh tomatoes, and cilantro.

Steak Fajitas
with Avocado Crema

For the fajita filling:
1 steak (your choice)
Salsa (home made or store-bought) for marinating
Olive oil
1 zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 poblano (or similar) pepper
1 onion
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the crema:
2 avocados
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

For assembly:
Corn tortillas

Marinate the meat:
A few hours before cooking, place the steak in a plastic zip-top bag and add just enough salsa to coat the meat. Seal the bag and let the steak rest at room temperature while you prep everything else. You can also marinate the steak overnight and remove it from the refrigerator an hour before cooking.

Prepare the vegetables:
Slice the zucchini into matchsticks about 2 or 3 inches long. Core and seed the red pepper and poblano pepper and slice into similar-sized pieces. Peel the onion, cut it in half from root to stem, and slice into half-moons so the strips are about the same size as the zucchini and peppers. Set aside.

Make the crema:
Put the avocado flesh, sour cream, lime juice, and salt into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Prep the garnishes:
Slice the tomatoes into thin wedges and chop the cilantro roughly.

Cook the steak:
Heat a skillet on high heat. Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry. Rub the steak with the olive oil and place in the hot pan. Cook until nicely browned on one side, flip, and cook on the second side. Continue cooking until the steak is done to your liking. Remove it from the pan and let it rest while you cook the vegetables.

Cook the vegetables and tortillas:
Add the vegetables to the pan where you cooked the steak. You can wipe out the pan, if you like, or just let the meat flavor season the vegetables. Add a little olive oil, if necessary and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook the vegetables to you liking - crisp-tender is fine, and fully cooked and caramelized is just as good. It's your dinner, so make it the way you like it.

Meanwhile, warm the tortillas in a dry pan, flipping them over as the heat up, until they're soft and have a few brown spots.

Slice the steak and assemble:
By the time the vegetables are cooked, the steak should be rested well enough to slice into small, thin pieces. If you're using skirt or flank steak or flap meat, make sure you're cutting against the grain of the meat.

Assemble the fajitas with vegetables, steak, and garnishes as desired - or serve the individual components in bowls and let people make their own.

Serve hot.

If you're looking for a knife for a holiday present, check these out! And they're easy to wrap, since they come in boxes. Or, enter below and see if you might win!

Thanks to WÜSTHOF for sponsoring this post and providing knives for the giveaway (US residents only). If you want to know more, check out their website, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

It was all spaghetti - even when it wasn't

Let me make one thing abundantly clear. My mother wasn't Italian. She wasn't even the littlest bit close to Italian. She was so far from Italian that I knew what ravioli was before she did. I came home from grade school all excited about this magical new food served in the cafeteria - ravioli. And no matter how I tried to describe it, she just couldn't get it.

So, when it came to cooking anything resembling Italian food, it was all spaghetti. Even when it was mostaccioli or rotini. If it was served with a tomato-based sauce, it was spaghetti. And all tomato-based sauces were simply called spaghetti sauce. There was no such thing as Bolognese or marinara in our house.

Nope. We got spaghetti with spaghetti sauce, even if it was fettuccini with marinara.

Now I know better, but even so ... there are times when I think about making spaghetti, but end up making rigatoni instead. Because when I go see what noodles I have on hand, there are no long thin noodles. And I'm fine with that. I pretty much love noodles of all shapes and sizes.

I was feeling a little bit out-of-sorts the other day and the best cure for that is nostalgic comfort food, so I decided that recreating one of mom's non-spaghetti spaghetti recipes would make me happy. In other parts of the country, this might be called hot dish or goulash. In my house, this was just one of the things that might have been served when mom said we were having "spaghetti."

I used mini wagon wheels. They were one of my favorite past shapes when I was a kid.

Wheels and Sauce

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 large bell pepper (any color you like), cored, seeded, and diced
1 tablespoon dry oregano
Salt, to taste
1 jar ready-made pasta sauce (Your own or store bought. I used Ragu.)
1/2 pound pasta, any shape (I used mini wagon wheels! wheeee!)
Grated cheese, for serving

Heat a large saute pan on medium heat and add the ground beef, onion, pepper, and oregano. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring as needed until the meat and vegetables are cooked through.

Add the sauce and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt, if desired. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, while you cook the pasta.

Cook your pasta as desired, then add it to the meaty sauce in the pan. Cook for another minute and give it one last taste. Serve with grated cheese, if desired.

Last week, I wrote a sponsored post for Ragu with a different recipe and I used a similar Ragu sauce here, because I bought more than one jar to work with. However, this post is not sponsored. It's just a recipe. Using a jar of sauce that I bought. 

On the other hand, this seems like an opportune time to remind you of Ragu's ...


The giveaway is running at Food.com! (Please note that the links in this paragraph are monetized as they were for the sponsored Ragu post.) The contest is called Ready. Set. Cook! and the challenge is to create new and unique recipes featuring Ragu sauce plus a set list of other ingredients. The grand prize is a whopping $3,000, and runner-ups will get $1250 and $750. GO ENTER HERE.
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