Friday, June 15, 2012

Moroccan carrot panini with goat cheese and olive tapenade


One of my favorite things about The Gourmet Cookbook is that it is so huge that I can count on finding something completely new every time I flip through it. And of course, the recipes are reliably awesome. I found this one when I was idly flipping through the salad and sandwich sections to get some new ideas and inspiration. As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it asap. The combination of carrots marinated in Moroccan spices, goat cheese, and green olive spread sounded pretty irresistible to me.

I loved this panini. It was so creative - I never would have thought to use carrots for the bulk of a sandwich filling - and it was filling, yet light. Not to mention packed with flavor. It does take some work to prep all the components, but it is totally worth it. I'm definitely going to keep this recipe in mind to serve when I have guests over for lunch.

p.s. After this post, I'll be taking a couple weeks off from blogging, because Andrew and I are heading to Turkey for a long-awaited vacation! I am so excited to see the sights, spend time at the beach, and of course, eat plenty of amazing food! Perhaps I'll have some Turkish recipes for you when I return...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Asparagus, fennel, and potato salad with parmesan-tarragon dressing


One of my favorite days of the year happened last weekend - opening day of our local summer farmers' market! It makes me so happy to see the stalls filled with produce and to know that I can look forward to my Saturday morning market trip each week. At last week's market, I picked up a lovely bunch of asparagus, which is a real treat, since asparagus season here is so short. The inspiration for this salad came from The Accidental Vegetarian, and the dressing was inspired by a recipe in The Gourmet Cookbook, although I ended up making several changes to the recipes and putting my own spin on the final dish. This salad has roasted asparagus, fennel, and potatoes on a bed of arugula and watercress. Roasting the vegetables gives them deep flavor, although I'm sure grilling would be great too if you don't feel like turning on the oven. The dressing is very flavorful, with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, garlic, and tarragon (the dressing isn't in the picture though - sorry). I think the tarragon works especially nicely with the fennel in the salad. With the addition of the roasted vegetables, this salad is substantial enough to be a meal on it's own, and if you'd like to add more protein, I think some chopped hard-boiled eggs would be a great addition. 

What are your favorite spring and summer salads?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Spiced shortbread with rhubarb curd


I don't usually care that much for rhubarb - I generally prefer fruit that I can eat raw and I'm not crazy about the amount of sugar that usually goes into rhubarb desserts. But I can't deny the fact that the arrival of rhubarb signifies that spring is here, and that growing season in Massachusetts has officially begun! So when I saw rhubarb at the local farmers' market on Saturday, I decided to pick some up and do some baking to distract myself from the clouds and rain outside.

I found this recipe in The Food52 Cookbook - it was the winner of a rhubarb-themed recipe contest and looked like a nice change from a more standard rhubarb pie or crisp. I also saw a similar recipe by Amy at Savory Moments, which convinced me that making a bar cookie with rhubarb was definitely the way to go. To add a little bit of nutritional value to these bars, I used whole grain spelt flour for the shortbread, which came out wonderful. The shortbread has some ginger, cinnamon, and cloves in it, which I loved - the spices are subtle, just enough to be detectable but not enough to overpower the flavors. The touch of spice complements the rhubarb curd very well. And speaking of the curd - unfortunately, it didn't come out pink like the picture in the cookbook...oh well. It tastes great though - it's got enough sugar to temper the natural tartness of the rhubarb, but it's not overly sweet at all. Overall, these bars are a very enjoyable little spring treat that I'd be happy to serve to guests, although truth be told, I'd be just as happy to eat them all myself!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Moroccan spaghetti


I might have a slight obsession with cookbooks. I just counted my cookbooks for the first time, and I have 54. That's not too it? True, they no longer fit in the bookcase, but that doesn't mean it's an excessive number. It just means the bookcase is too small. Anyway, in all seriousness, even though I love cookbooks and have 10 more on my Amazon wish list, I almost never buy those wish list books for myself. The cookbooks I buy myself are usually from yard sales or the library book sale, and cost around $2 each. Usually these are books that I hadn't heard of before, but end up loving after flipping through them. And it's hard to beat such bargains! A perfect example is The Accidental Vegetarian, which I picked up at the Somerville library book sale a couple weeks ago. As soon as I got home, I went through it cover to cover and tagged about 10 recipes right away. This Moroccan spaghetti was particularly appealing to me because with the exception of the herbs, it uses all pantry ingredients. Perfect for that time before the summer produce really hits the farmers' market shelves.

This recipe jazzes up a basic tomato sauce with cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, parsley, cilantro, and mint. Chickpeas and almonds bulk up the dish and add protein. It's a pretty simple recipe that makes a nice change from the standard weeknight spaghetti dinner. I can't wait to try more recipes from this book, especially with all the great local produce that is going to be arriving soon!