Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chocolate Toasts

When I came upon this recipe it never crossed my mind it would become an instant favorite. Since I am always on the lookout to try a new recipe, I don't have alot of 'go to' recipes. In fact, this may be the first one. With good reason, chocolate.

Armed with some dark chocolate and Pink Hawaiian Sea Salt ( new ingredient for me), I adapted a recipe from Amanda Hesser's book, 'Cooking for Mr Latte'. The recipe called for fleur de sel to finish over the chocolate. This is an expensive salt because it is hand harvested. The Hawaiian pink salt that I used is sea salt and alaea, which is baked Hawaiian red clay. This gives the salt a beautiful pink hue.

The salt actually brings out the flavor in chocolate, so when making these, add the salt to one; taste, and continue with the other toasts. The flavor should not be salty, just enlivened. As an added twist, I sprinkle cayenne pepper over each toast. This is optional, it just adds a bit of a kick with the richness of the chocolate, rounded out with the salt. Um mm, good! Serve these adorable little toasts as an appetizer or as a delicate dessert. As an appetizer, just put out with other choices, and I bet you will see this one fly off the table.
1 loaf of french bread - slice thinly
1 bar of dark chocolate ( I used 1 Ghirardelli dark chocolate bar- break in pieces)
Hawaiian Pink Salt or Sea Salt ( for the speciality salt)
Cayenne pepper- a dash per toast
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice one loaf of french bread on the thin side. Place bread slices on a baking sheet. Use one small, bite sized piece of chocolate per slice of bread ( I used Ghirardelli dark chocolate- any fine dark chocolate will do.) Bake until chocolate is soft but still holding its shape. Move to a serving platter. Sprinkle each slice of bread with extra virgin olive oil , Hawaiian pink salt and a dash of cayenne pepper. Serve

Monday, January 10, 2011

Kickin' Curry Monday

This time of year in Michigan the sun likes to play , behind the clouds mostly. So when I saw patches of sun this morning, I immediately felt energized. As I sit and type at my computer an evanescent patch of sunlight warms my wood floor. But as fickle as it is, dimness has already set in.

Since the warming rays of the sun are still months away, one ingredient in the kitchen will always do the trick. A fragrant, soothing coconut curry. The great thing about curry is you are the one in control. When the weather is cold outside, you may wish for a more substantial curry. When the days are warm weather rolls in, a light broth type curry is out of this world.

I love the warming spices of this recipe that include some heat from the jalapenos, and a smooth finish with the coconut milk. This recipe which was adapted from Bon Appetit will delight all the senses.

1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 stalks lemongrass
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup shallots, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped ( may use more for added kick)
1 1/2 T. curry powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/8 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups canned coconut milk
2 1/2 pounds uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
lime wedges for garnish

1. Cook green beans until crisp in a large pot of boiling water. About 5 minutes. Drain.

2. Cut about 2 inches from bottom of each lemongrass stalk, discard tops. Chop up bottom pieces.

3. Place lemongrass pieces, and next 7 ingredients in food processor. Blend until consistency of paste.

4.Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add curry paste and coconut milk, stir together and reduce heat to a simmer.

5. Add shrimp. Cook until shrimp are opaque about 6 to 8 minutes. Add green beans and let simmer another 3 to 5 minutes, so green beans can heat through.

6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

7. Serve over steamed rice. Garnish with lime wedges.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year

The New Year is here and I generally ease into it, but this year I rang it in! Our family had a great time with my husband's cousin's family. We had a wonderful dinner, played a ton of games and had a great time yelling " Happy New Year." Everyone except my 3 year old daughter who held on until 11:15.

Growing up our family tradition on New Year's Day was to eat black eyed peas for good luck. (My mom grew up in the South.) This is one of those traditions, or superstitions that I feel anxious about every year. If I don't make these, could all hell break loose? What are the rules for children? Could I really be tempting their very fate by not serving these peas? Last year I did tempt fate and I didn't serve them. It was the first time ever. For the most part 2010 was good to me. However for some very special people close to me, it was a difficult year. I wish for 2011 to be bright, beautiful and very fulfilling for everyone I love this year.

The end of 2010 was a set up for a interesting and unpredictable 2011. I became certified as a Lifestyle Educator and have plans this coming week to start with my first office. I wonder what I will be writing about this time next year? Do you ever wonder the same thing? I would love to hear your goals for the New Year.

Aside from waiting to see where a new career may lead me, I would also love to read through all the books waiting in line to be the next before I purchase another, train for the Bay Shore Marathon ( 10k for me), and cook with more unusual ingredients. Most importantly, I want to live in the moment of everyday over the next 364 days of 2011. I want this to be the year that great things happen or not, and I enjoy everyday taking things as the come. Because that must be the way it was meant to unfold.

Today's recipe has a pinch of good luck, healthy ingredients and it tastes great! This recipe was adapted from Rock Harper. His appearance on the Today Show inspired me to take his great recipe and make some adaptions.

Good Luck Turkey Tacos

1 pound ground turkey
2 cloves garlic
3 T. olive oil
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped coarsely
2 jalapeno peppers, 1 chopped coarsely (use the other for garnish- optional)
1 12oz bag of frozen corn, use fresh if you have available
1 16oz can of black eyed peas, may also use frozen

Slice garlic very thin and heat in olive oil until slightly golden brown. Add the ground turkey and cook until turkey is no longer pink. Add the next 3 ingredients and turn heat down to medium low. Cover and let cook until corn is hot about 7 minutes. Then add black eyed peas and let heat through.

Serve with warm corn tortillas. May also serve with brown rice for a stir fry meal.

**( If using frozen add when adding frozen corn. If using fresh corn, add corn and peas at same time so they can heat through.)

Enjoy, and have the best New Year ever!! You will be off to a great start with this recipe! XO-A