Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tres Leches Cake with Berries

I must have been living under a rock or something, because I'd never had tres leches up until this summer. I'd also only heard about it a few times. This dessert is rich and moist and absolutely perfect for any summer occasion. You can make many different versions of this cake, but I loved the idea of berries covering the cake. The original recipe adds some booze to the whipped cream, but I opted against it since I'm not a gin or tequila fan. One of the recipe reviewers said they added a splash of Grand Marnier to their whipped cream, which is something  I will try in the future. When I was going to make this, I was deciding between a coffee infused version or the berries, but in the end the berries won. Although I cannot be sure, the coffee flavored cake seemed like it would have a tiramisu sort of flavor and I was up for something new.

I made this for the first time at my sister's house. There was no particular reason for me making this cake except that I really wanted to try it, and so did she. My family and I ate about a quarter of the cake and then my sister took the rest to work the following day where it was apparently devoured in minutes. She said she set it down in the break room and by lunch time it was all gone. You might be wondering why I would share such a delicious dessert. For starters, even though it is amazing, it's very rich and you'd be suffering from a serious food coma if you had seconds. And I love sharing things that I bake, assuming they turn out well.

If you are curious about some of the different tres leches cake flavors you can make, check out this link from Fine Cooking Magazine.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Curry and Mustard Lamb Chops

My mom has been making these lamb chops for years. This is one of my favorite ways to season lamb chops  and ever since I can remember, it's the meal I request if my mom ever asks me what I want for dinner. When I was in college I had these lamb chops as my first mom-cooked meal every time I went home. I'd usually end up in a food coma not able to move, but they were just too good to leave on the plate. I'm pretty sure my sister is just as obsessed with these as I am, which means my parents had their fair share of lamb when I was in college and she was in grad school.

This recipe comes from, you guessed it, a really old school Betty Bossi cookbook (this one was printed in 1977). And, as always, my mom has changed it to suit her preferences. The original recipe was called "cotletten gourmet" and was made with pork chops. My mom also grills the lamb chops as opposed to baking them, which gives them that delicious barbecue flavor. If you think you don't like curry, I have a feeling you would still love this recipe. And if you don't like lamb, do what Betty Bossi does and make this marinade for pork chops. I ran out of Dijon mustard when I was making these and substituted a mild regular mustard. The taste was still amazing, but go for the Dijon option if you can. If need be, you can very easily double the marinade if you are making more lamb chops.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

French Style Potato Salad

It's still potato salad season, which makes me so happy since I love potato salads. And as much as I enjoy those all-American potato salads, like Rosanne Cash's potato salad or the potato salad from Spinelli's Market in Denver (if you're in Denver and have never been there you are missing out big time), I sometimes need a mayo break. When I was looking around for a non-mayo potato salad recipe, I found this one, and because it was an Ina Garten recipe, I decided I needed to try it.

This potato salad is a lighter version of what usually gets served at a backyard barbecue, but the flavor is delicious and you don't feel as bad having seconds or thirds. Sadly, I did not have as pretty of an assortment of potatoes in my salad as Ina did, but the flavor was still great. If you're going for looks, I'd stick with using a colorful combination of boiling potatoes (I only had white ones). As always with Ina Garten recipes, I reduced the amount of olive oil used and still had a tasty end result.

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Oat and Lemon Butter Cookies

I was sitting at home one rainy evening when I had a sudden craving for cookies. I seem to always want a cup of tea and cookies when the weather gets like this. Of course the grocery store had already closed and I didn't have all that many ingredients at home. I knew I could make a butter cookie, but I also really wanted to have a cookie with oats. So I combined the 2 and ended up with the perfect cookie to go along with my massive cup to tea (no really, I drink my tea out of the biggest mug in the house). These are extremely easy to make and don't take long in the oven. I sliced some dried apricots on top of mine, but you can go without them. Or you could top the cookies with your favorite nuts or chocolate pieces. This cookie is crispy on the outside, but not hard. I also like my cookies slightly under-baked so if you prefer yours crunchier just leave them in the oven a little longer.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lemon and Herb Marinated Chicken

Living in a tiny village, grilling options are really limited. We don't have any fresh fish or seafood, no steaks, and you can never find any ground meat except beef or pork. But I make do with what is offered and try to keep the flavors exciting to make up for the fact that I feel like chicken is the only meat I consume. Ever since we got a grill last week, it has been put to work. I'm pretty sure my apartment grills more often than anyone else in this town, but how can you not during the summer? Even the picky eaters in the house never complain when it's grill night.

This recipe is a quick and easy way to marinade chicken and make it really flavorful without taking too long to prepare. Use whatever herbs you have at home. Any combination would be great, I just happened to have fresh parsley and thyme at home when I made this. I'm sure it would be great with whatever you have growing in your garden, or even a combination of dried herbs. The lemon juice adds a delicious flavor to the final product, which went over really well when I made this. I let my meat marinate on the counter for about an hour and it turned out flavorful and great. Make sure you only grill it until it is just cooked through so it does not dry out. If you can find chicken thighs with skin, that would be ideal for keeping the meat juicy.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pomegranate Iced Tea

I am not the biggest fan of soft drinks, so during the summer iced tea is my ultimate thirst quenching drink. I usually just brew some green tea and mint tea and let it cool, but this variation sounded like a nice change. I really like the combination of juice with the tea and mint. It was one of those drinks that tasted better with every sip until I realized it was all finished and I was out of pomegranate juice. I didn't actually have any limes at home when I made this, but I think that a little squeeze of lime juice would be a great addition. This would be a nice iced tea to serve for guests or just to have on hand for yourself. The mint leaves add a "fancy" look to an otherwise simple drink.

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd

Happy almost 4th of July to all of you back at home. If you're in need of an easy, but impressive festive dessert, a pavlova is the way to go. It's even easier if you own a Kitchen Aid or hand mixed to whisk the egg whites. I actually helped my sister make this a while back, but since I'm the only American where I live and I'm going to be working on the 4th, I'm not going to be having much of a celebration this year. If you want to make this pavlova, keep in mind that you need to bake the meringues the night before you assemble the dessert (or early in the morning if you need it in the evening). You could always just make pavlova nests if you want a smaller, individual desserts. My sister and I doubled this recipe so we could layer the pavlovas. Enjoy the BBQs and picnics all over the US.

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