Thursday, June 30, 2011

Double Take: Whole Lemon Bars

I love lemons! I don't like to eat them alone but if you put together a dessert with some lemony goodness, I'm most likely going to like it. Apparently, I'm not alone. This is evidenced by the variety of lemon recipes that exist: lemon bars, lemon meringue pie, chess squares...few of which are the same. Some recipes  have sweetened condensed milk, while others include fruits that bring it more sweet and sometimes more tart flavors. I've seen lemon cheesecake on a brownie crust. (I really want to try it.) Its evident that people also have difference preferences on the extent of lemon flavor in their treats. Most chess squares are light on the lemon and heavy on the creamy factors. Lemon bars come in a range of tartness but often can become less exciting after a few bites. For those seeking more excitement, I'd recommend the whole lemon bars recipe below. It uses one whole lemon and packs a ton of flavor. I liked having a few small bits of lemon within the filling to give surprise added punches of flavor. Taste tester responses follow the recipe.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Daring Baker's Challenge: Baklava

Its riddle time!

What's crunchy, flaky, nutty, salty and sweet...all at once? (Hint: The post title is a dead giveaway.) Yeah, that's right...Baklava!

Honey Roasted Almond, Honey Roasted Cashew, and Pistachio Baklava (Flavor 1 of 2)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Double Take: Rosemary Grilled Chicken Thighs, sortof

I've been holding out on you. Its probably not tough to tell that I love garlic. However, what most readers would have no idea about is that I feel rosemary is a close second.

While not as ubiquitously used in most recipes, rosemary offers a burst of flavor that sets off fireworks in my mouth! In addition to cooking and being a crazy busy graduate student, I'm also an avid gardener. I'm slowly converting more of the suburban backyard into assorted garden spots. Among my plants is my dear Miss Rosemary. Yes, that sounds strange but that is what I call her.

Rosemary likes water but doesn't tolerate harsh winters or extreme heat well. I thoughtfully planted her beneath some pine trees in the backyard to increase her daily shade time. I learned this past winter resulted in many people in the general area losing their rosemary bushes so I was glad mine not only survived but is flourishing. Rosemary stays green all year long and you pick the little green "leaves" for use in recipes. I rinse them and chop them finely, just as you would chop up any other herb. In addition to being tasty, rosemary has been touted to contain many antioxidants and has historically been believed to improve memory. From the gardening side, rosemary expands as a bush every year and is a very fragrant addition to an herb garden. I saw one persons' rosemary bush that was 6 feet WIDE! Crazy. I had no idea how big they could get. I'm going to start experimenting with mine to see if I can break off a section and get it to grow roots. If anyone has great experience with this, fill me in!

Today's recipe is brought to you by Miss Rosemary. Indeed it wouldn't have been possible without her. It was inspired by two people: 1) my friend Crystal who made an excellent rosemary chicken dish in undergrad 2) Pink Parsley, whose post made Mel interested in making the dish. I can't just follow a recipe so I'm thankful for the inspiration and excited to give you my version.

Garlic Rosemary Grilled Chicken

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Double Take: Beef with Sugar Snap Peas

In the process of preparing this post, I started paying more attention to peas. I know, who needs to pay attention to peas. Many people won't eat them. I grew up loving peas though. We grew them and enjoyed them fresh or frozen. At our house, peas were always served with pork tenderloin and macaroni and cheese. If you say out it loud it really rolls off your tongue, "macaroni and cheese and peas". We also liked to stir peas into our mashed potatoes. Nearly everyone in our family eats them this way. If you haven't tried it, I'd encourage you to do so. That's a different kind of pea though. Its a pea that you shell to eat.

In addition to shell peas, there are two other varieties: sugar snap peas and snow peas. The latter two pea types are eaten whole (pod and all). I was shocked the first time I saw someone eat the whole pea. They were dipping them in ranch dressing and I thought I'd give it a go. It was good. Now, some may contend that most anything dipped in ranch dressing is good but these were good without the ranch too. I know, shocking. I liked the crunch of the pod and the bonus popping of the peas in my mouth. What's the difference between snow peas and sugar snap peas though? Snow peas are really more of the pod with what seems like underdeveloped peas inside. Its a very flat edible pod. Snow peas are a great option for people who don't like the added pop of the peas in their mouth.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ethiopian Cooking Night: Appetizer, Ayib Be Gomen

Ayib Be Gomen is a form of cheese dip served as an appetizer or as a side in Ethiopian cooking. I try to keep in mind while saying this that Ethiopia is such a poor country that the bulk of the population would not be so blessed as to have appetizers and might make an entire meal of what we would consider a side. Its a sobering thought. We are so blessed to have food at ready access. Further, we have enough to pick and choose and make our meals interesting. I'm thankful to get to experience the food from the many diverse cultures but its food for thought to consider that I can try some of their most amazing dishes all in one meal while the people of the country may only taste each dish on a few occasions in their entire life.

My Aunt B. and Uncle A. recently adopted two children from Ethiopia. While I live some distance away, I've enjoyed seeing posts and getting to visit with them during recent family gatherings. Its hard for me to picture the world from which they've come. Indeed the world they have expressed they don't want to return to due to the hunger and extreme poverty of the situation. Of course at 5 and 7 years old, this expression looks much more like extreme worry. When taken to the store for school supplies, there was a small freak out because the oldest was afraid they were buying him things to send him back. He didn't want to go back and neither of them want to eat the food from their native country...yet. Hopefully one day they'll be ready to embrace their culture, enjoying its good parts and trying to help those in situations similar to what they were in prior to adoption. I'm glad they're part of our family.

I guess you could say they served as part of the inspiration for the Ethiopian Cooking Night. Prior to that, Charles had requested an Ethiopian cooking night but I was very hesitant. Lets me be honest, I had no idea what Ethiopians ate and was a little afraid that my friends might not like it. How could I choose dishes from titles that looked so foreign? What was Doro Wat? The names for other dishes appeared even more foreign. While not typically intimidated by trying out unfamiliar dishes on my friends, the Ethiopian dishes remained untested until I had the opportunity to try them first hand. It would have been different, I think, had there been posts with pictures or descriptions of the foods available. Either way, I had Ethiopian food in Boston at Addis Red Sea this past fall and was convinced that it would make a fun addition to cooking night!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Double Take: Peri Peri Chicken

Today I am pleased to share a taste with Portuguese and African origins. Spoiler alert: Get ready for a ride through Ethiopian foods in some upcoming posts on Double the Garlic!

Ok, back to today's recipe. I first tried Peri Peri Chicken at Nando's Peri Peri in Washington D.C. In truth, I was looking for African food. I was initially rather disappointed to land at what appeared to be some sort of chain Portuguese restaurant.

What on earth? Who ever heard of a Portuguese chain? At least it would be interesting and I'd never had Portuguese food. It was pretty tasty. They had options for varying heat levels suited to satisfy any temperature of palate. Imagine my surprise when I found their sides included Portuguese spiced french fries, spicy rice and hold it...macho peas? I'd never seen peas on any restaurant menu. I made sure to try them and they were great.  If more places served peas that well, there wouldn't be adults making faces over other people eating peas. Instead, they'd all be smiling and asking for a few. Imagine that world.

This post is all about the chicken! I found this recipe on Sortachef's blog. There are more good recipes where this one came from so check it out! Meanwhile, ditch your fork for my adapted version of Peri Peri Chicken!

Peri Peri Chicken

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Taste of Bavaria

If I've seemed a bit absent lately, there's a perfectly logical explanation for it...I was absent. In fact, I was across the ocean absent. That may not seem like a big deal to some travelers but it was my first time outside of the U.S. altogether. Traveling across the pond by myself was pretty stressful for me but definitely worth it. After all, the purpose of the trip was to get to see Melanie...and Bavaria. In truth, I was primarily excited about spending time with Melanie but the more I planned for the trip, the more excited I became about Bavaria. Some things are pretty tough to capture in a picture, to be honest. They're the sort of thing you have to experience to get the full magical effect.

We didn't climb every mountain....

but we did take a cable car to the top of one part of the Alps.

Yes, these clouds really were at eye level.