I've cooked my way through all 264 recipes
in The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook!

September 29, 2011

Peach Ice Cream

I've blogged about my Strawberry Ice Cream before, and I love the recipe because it's super adaptable to other fruits.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a ton of peaches from Costco and they just weren't great. Good flavor, but the consistency wasn't fabulous and they were ripening way too quickly. So I chopped them up and tossed them in the freezer to deal with later.

To make the ice cream, I just let them soften for 10 or 15 minutes and then threw them in the food processor. Once they were mostly processed I added in a mixture of cream and sugar (about a cup of cream and 2/3 cup of sugar, though it definitely depends on the type and amount of fruit.)

Ten minutes later, voila, we have peach ice cream.

So good. And it's going fast.

September 27, 2011

Banana Bread

I love banana bread, and only ever make the recipe from the Joy of Cooking. I'm sure there are other delicious recipes out there, but this one is solid and has never failed me.

And when my bananas are looking like this:

I know it's time to get some bread started. I'll only eat my bananas when they're still green, so this is way past prime for me.

Instead of doing a full loaf, I went with muffins and mini muffins this time.

I chopped pecans up to dust the regular-sized muffins with, and used semi-sweet chocolate chunks on the mini ones.

The Joy of Cooking recipe only has timing information for using a loaf pan, so I just kind of eyeballed them until they were done.

These are delicious. I've been heating up a banana nut muffin with butter every morning for breakfast.  They're amazing.

The little ones are lovely, too. I've popped them in my freezer to enjoy once we're done with the big ones, and Matt and I are looking forward to snacking on them soon.

September 23, 2011

Crescent Jalapeno Poppers

Last night was the last Supper Club for the year, and we didn't really have a theme -- it was just an outdoor get-together with a fried turkey. I was assigned to make a main course but didn't want to detract from the deliciousness of the turkey, so I looked around for a quick appetizer I could make after work but that would still be somewhat filling.

I've had luck before with a recipe from the Pillsbury website (which I somehow never blogged about) so I checked in there and found a yummy looking recipe for Crescent Jalapeno Poppers.

First up, I deseeded my jalapenos and quartered them.

Instead of the Boursin cheese that the recipe called for (at $8.95 a tub, no less!) I used cream cheese and mixed it with pepper, celery salt, thyme, and garlic salt. This was spooned into the pieces of pepper.

Next up, wrap each pepper with a piece of pre-cooked bacon. I actually didn't know pre-cooked bacon existed before making this, and had to ask at the grocery store where to find it. It certainly made this a quicker (and cleaner) recipe, though!

Finally, I wrapped the ingredients in halved crescent roll triangles and popped them in the oven.

These were amazing and everyone was a big fan. 

Even though I doubled the recipe these disappeared fast. I didn't have the fruit salsa that the recipe called for, and instead just served the poppers with a little bit of raspberry jam on the side. I'll make these again, for sure.

September 20, 2011

Sausage Feta Quiche

I was watching reruns on the Food Network the other day and got all mouth watery over this Double Double Bacon Cheese Quiche. Really I was just excited about quiche in general, so tonight for dinner I threw together a Sausage Feta Quiche. And I do mean threw together. It was super easy.

I had some frozen sausage patties that I picked up at Costco last week, so I cooked those on the stove top.

At the same time, I sauteed chopped white onion in olive oil.

These were mixed together, along with Feta (thanks Costco, for that, as well) and spooned into a cooked pie pastry.

Then I poured in a couple of beaten eggs mixed with milk, pepper, and some garlic.

I baked this at 350 for about 40 minutes, let cool briefly, and then served it with a nice light salad of mixed greens.

This was lovely. The sausage is spicy, so it gave a nice kick to the quiche that was mellowed out some by the feta. Also, it reminded me how easy it is to make quiche with pretty much whatever you have in your pantry. Quiches may become a go-to meal for us in coming months.

September 11, 2011

Finally Cooking Again...

I'm 37 weeks pregnant now, but had a burst of energy yesterday. Between mowing the lawn, weeding, and going grocery shopping, I also decided that I wanted a delicious home-cooked meal. I opened up Sarah Foster's Casual Cooking to see what inspired me, and was instantly drawn to "Skewered Thai Chicken Thighs with Spicy Peanut Sauce" (page 150.)

I don't cook with thighs very often, and they're a little difficult -- the fat isn't as easy to cut off the thigh as it is off the breast. I did my best and left them to soak in a delicious Thai marinade in my fridge for several hours. I had to alternate just one ingredient -- I didn't have tamarind sauce, but I found a jar of spicy Thai curry paste at the back of my pantry and tossed that in instead.

Meanwhile, I put together the "Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce." It need's to be said that I adore peanut sauce. I'll order chicken satay at a Thai restaurant just for the little bowl of peanut sauce and the delicious cucumber salad they often pair it with. I could tell from all the delicious ingredients going into this one, like ginger and honey and soy sauce, that this was going to be a winner.

And of course I didn't take any after pictures. We slapped the chicken on the grill, made it all delicious, and dipped it generously in peanut sauce. I was a happy camper. Next time I'll use chicken breasts, just because I'm more comfortable with them, but I'd be happy for there to be a next time.

I served the chicken with Sarah Foster's "Classic Cucumber Salad" (p. 212), which was nice and light and delicious. We have plenty of leftovers since our guests don't like cilantro, which was chopped in there along with vinegar, olive oil, and lime juice. So, more for us.

And finally, since all dinners should be served with dessert, I made Sarah Foster's "Fluffy Dark Chocolate Mousse" (p. 225). And it was the first time I've gotten to use my double-boiler, so that's fun.

I over-beat my egg whites, which made this mousse a little grainy, but the flavor was good. I'd make it again but be a little bit more careful about my timing.

So, there we go. Four recipes out of Sarah Foster's book. Hopefully this energy will continue for the next few weeks.

August 24, 2011

Fiore di Zucchini Fritti (p. 342)

This recipe for Fried Zucchini Blossoms has been the bane of my existence. I've been trying all summer to track down zucchini blossoms, but to no avail. They're not at the farmers market, I can't get them through my CSA, local grocery stores don't have them, and even my co-worker who grows zucchini couldn't supply them -- this summer's drought killed all her plants by the time I got around to asking her.

I was getting pretty sad that this was what was going to prevent me from completing the cookbook, but my mom offered to make them for me and let me know what she thought about the recipe. Works for me!

She grows zucchini in her garden, so she had the access:

These were rinsed and set aside while she heated up her oils (olive and canola). Next up, she sifted flour into water, beating them together and adding salt and pepper.

Each blossom was dipped in the batter and dropped into the hot oil until golden brown on each side.

And then voila, fried zucchini blossoms are served.

And the taste? Mom says that they were "delightful, the perfect crunch and savory, salty, and delicious."

So there you go. Recipe number 264 is done and done, and I'm officially though with cooking The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. I win. Thanks, mom!

August 22, 2011

A Rich Beef Stew from Provence (p. 429)

Once again, I've saved a heavy winter stew for the middle of August. Whoops. Luckily our new AC is keeping the house nice and cool, so I can't complain.

I started this recipe on Friday afternoon to let the beef be able to marinate over night. The marinade smelled delicious -- olive oil, chopped carrots, onions, garlic, and celery, red wine, red wine vinegar, brandy, parsley, orange zest, dried thyme, and black pepper.

I chopped up my pieces of meat into large chunks.

And mixed it all together.

Yummy yum.

On Saturday afternoon I started the stew. While the oven was preheating, I browned all the pieces of meat (removed from their marinade, dried, and dusted with flour) in a little bit of olive oil.

Once brown, I retuned all of the marinade to the pan and added some more red wine to cover the meat. In went chopped shallots, carrots, olives, and canned tomatoes, and I brought the dish to a simmer.

The entire pan, covered, went in the oven for three hours.

This is supposed to be best the following day, so we didn't eat it until dinner on Sunday.

The flavors, especially those of the olive, were really good, but there's something about an all brown dish that I don't love. Still, the beef was tender and falling apart and it was delicious with some mini pitas on the side.

celery -- $1.79 (plenty left over for lunches)
red wine -- $3.40 (I bought the type in the mini bottles and used two of them)
orange -- $.75 (I only needed the zest and ate the orange for breakfast today)
onion -- $.49 (half left)
beef -- $6.92
shallots -- $3.98
olives -- $1.35
tomatoes -- $1.00
Total Cost of A Rich Beef Stew from Provence: $19.68
($6.56 per serving)

August 13, 2011

Salt-Baked Whole Fish (p. 364) with Sauce Verte (p. 270)

This was a fun dish to prepare because it's so different from any of the other recipes. It requires a lot of salt that the fish is baked in which creates a crust around it.

Mix the salt with egg whites to create a fairly thick paste.

Layer about a third of this into the bottom of the baking dish.

Next up is the fish -- I used a whole red snapper from the Asian Market.

Cover the entire fish with the rest of the salt, making sure everything is covered and packed in. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the fish.

When done, you kind of have to crack the salt crust away from the fish. As it comes up, it takes with it most of the skin, leaving an amazingly moist and tasty meat behind. (Note: mine did not come off neatly at all -- it looked a fright.)

With this, I prepared Sauce Verte, a French green sauce for fish. Basically, it's just a bunch of ingredients processed together -- watercress, spinach leaves, bread that has been soaked in water and drained, capers, anchovies, shallot, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice.

Process until its a sauce-like consistency and then serve with a little salt and pepper mixed in.

This whole meal was really delicious. I loved the flavor and juiciness of the fish, and the sauce almost tasted like guacamole. I salted mine a little too much, but it was still tasty, and I enjoyed sopping up the remaining sauce with crusty bread.

salt -- $4.47
fish -- $7.69
Total Cost of Salt-Baked Whole Fish: $12.16
($6.08 per serving)

watercress -- $.99
bread -- $1.69
spinach -- $3.69 (plenty left for salads this week)
lemon -- $.69
shallot -- $.40
Total Cost of Sauce Verte: $7.46
($1.24 per serving)

August 3, 2011


My friend Sarah over at Little Fancy just blogged about some delicious summer gazpacho that she made recently and with some beautiful tomatoes sitting on my counter, I wanted to make some, too.

I didn't have a pepper, but otherwise mostly followed her recipe, just with the addition of a little mint and some salt to taste.

I just chopped the veggies a little bit and then tossed them in the food processor

I love love love how easy gazpacho is to make.

This was great, and I enjoyed the kick from the red onion. I'll happily enjoy this for lunch the next couple of days.

August 2, 2011

Veal Stew with Wild Mushrooms (p. 430)

I have two soups left to cook, neither of which, unfortunately, is a chilled summer soup. Still, gotta tackle them, even in this ridiculous North Carolina heat.

This veal stew was pretty easy to put together, so I did it before work yesterday since I didn't have to be in until noon. It starts with sauteed onion, garlic, and parsley which have softened but not browned in the olive oil. Next up are the pieces of veal, which just need to be cooked until each side has browned.

Stir in the cleaned, sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas because that's what was available to me, but it really called for porcini or chanterelles) and allow them to cook until they have released their liquids and the dish is bubbling.

Add in thyme and salt and cover the meat with a combination of wine and water.

Keep at a steady simmer until the liquid has cooked down some, then raise the heat and cook a little bit longer to make the liquid more syrupy.

Both Matt and I felt that this had way too many mushrooms in it. The flavors were good, but every bite was completely mushroom filled. I also wish that I had cut the veal into smaller pieces; they were a little tough which made the large pieces difficult to eat. 

mushrooms -- $3.00
veal -- $7.99
onion -- $1.10
parsley -- $1.99
Total Cost of Veal Stew with Wild Mushrooms: $14.08
($4.69 per serving)

July 31, 2011

North African Fish Couscous (p. 218)

Do you have a couscousiere (or even know what one is)? I don't. It's kind of needed for this recipe. You can fake it, but I don't think it turns out quite the same.

Start the couscous first, because it takes a while to prep. Mix salt and olive oil into the grains slowly, allowing all the liquid to be absorbed. Repeat this process with hot water. Let this sit for about 45 minutes while you prepare the veggie stew.

Anyway, this is basically a vegetable stew served with couscous and fish. The stew part is pretty easy to make -- just onions and tomatoes stewed together with a spicy element (the recipe calls for harissa but we're fresh out, so I just combined some different hot sauces from my pantry.) Add in chopped potatoes, carrots, salt pepper and some water and continue cooking until the veggies start to soften a bit.

Layer in squash, green peppers, cumin, cooked chickpeas, more water, and whatever other veggies you have in your house.

Bring your stew to a simmer and create the couscousiere -- you can sort of make one with a strainer on top of your stock pot, lined with cheesecloth, in which you put the couscous in a layer to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Wrap dishtowels around the outside of the strainer so that the steam from the lower pot is forced to go through the couscous instead of escaping around the pan. Once the steam is coming through the grains, cook for 20 minutes.

Remove the cousous from the pan and add salted water again, allowing the grains to absorb the liquid before putting them back in the top of the couscousiere for another 20 minutes.

The fish can be steamed quickly on the stove top with a little of the liquid that was reserved from the stew. I kept mine warmed in the oven until it was time to eat.

This was good, but nowhere near as good as I wanted it to be for the amount of time it took to make it.

Maybe if I had a couscousiere, all would have been different. Sigh...

garbonzo beans -- $2.39
tilapia steak -- $4.90
potato -- $1.01
onion -- $.92
CSA tomatoes -- $1.97
CSA squash -- $3.29
Total Cost of North African Fish Couscous: $14.48
($3.62 per serving)