Time for another Improv Cooking Challenge! I haven't done one in a couple months due to the holidays and not being super interested in the ingredients. But this month the challenge was Rosemary and Lemon, and that pairing sounded great to me! I was torn between a cocktail and a cake recipe, so I decided - why not do both?
The cake is light and fluffy from whipped egg whites, dotted with rosemary, and iced with a lemon cream cheese frosting. Delicious.
The martini is sweet (but not too much) and tangy, with a base not of rosemary. Dreamy.
Together they are absolutely perfect. I don't like overly sweet anything, and these were so well balanced. I brought them to my book club and they were a huge hit (not an exaggeration, they were the most popular items I've ever brought). Some of you may roll your eyes at the mention of a book club, but don't worry - we aren't the pretentious kind where everyone hates the books. We are sci-fi, horror, and fantasy only and we have a great time!
I've joined a group called Improv Cooking Challenge, where each month 2 ingredients are chosen for us to make dishes with. This month was peaches and cream - yum! I scrolled through my saved recipes on Pinterest and found this Peach Cobbler Trifle that looked perfect for the challenge!
Pound cake is layered with a pudding mixture, peaches, and a crumble topping. My trifle dish is actually a punch bowl, so I only made 2 layers. But with a taller, narrower dish - you could make 3 layers.
I really liked that the pudding mixture used orange zest and sour cream to take it out of too sweet territory. I added a pinch of salt to the crumble mixture and the peaches to help in this regard, too.
It's cocktail time! Remember the Orange Creamsicle Cocktail? Well, it was so popular that my friends wanted to make a similar cocktail, but Lemon Meringue Pie themed. And I was happy to oblige!
Lemon Meringue Cocktail
a Well Dined original
makes 1 cocktail
3 oz lemon-lime soda
1 oz Limoncello liquor
1/2 oz whipped cream flavored vodka
1/2 oz marshmallow flavored vodka
1 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
Add Limoncello, vodka, and sweetened condensed milk to a rocks or lowball style glass, stir to combine.
Add ice and soda, stir again. Top with whipped cream.
I love Spring. I love the flowers, and the weather (sometimes), and the resurgence of vegetables. Spring vegetables are here and gone so quickly (if you are buying seasonally, that is), so take advantage of them while you can! Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I decided to make this Spring vegetable dish because it uses spaetzle, which is a bit more fun than your standard pasta, and gruyere, which pairs so well with these veggies.
Spaetzle is a chewy German egg noodle. Melissa is familiar with it because she studied German. I've eaten it in restaurants many times, but only made it once before this past fall. And by made it, I mean that my friend made it with her Grandmother's (I think) recipe and her spaetzle press. Meanwhile, I made a vegetarian ragu with mushrooms, butter, onion, thyme, and oregano and poached some duck eggs (thank you, gorgeous Portland farmer's market).
It's time for April's Secret Recipe Club reveal! I was assigned Morsels of Life. The author is an engineer, and brings her desire for efficiency to her blog. She doesn't like to use any crazy complex methods, and is loose with measurements. She writes, "Generally, if you like something, use more; if you dislike something, use less, substitute something else, or just eliminate it altogether. You’ll probably be fine." I love that. Often when I'm writing recipes, and have to try and figure out how much of something I used, I just want to write - use your best judgement. She also has pretty extensive privacy and disclosure information on her blog, which I think is admirable.
CJ's blog has a lot of Asian influence, and I really like the look of this Pork Meatball Ramen, as well as this Cha Shao Chinese BBQ Pork. For sweets, I was drawn to Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes, and Spiced Date Ice Cream (made with cashew milk!). But I ended up running out of time before leaving on a last-minute trip; so when I saw this Seared Salmon with Lemon Herb Butter and Pasta, and realized that I already had all the ingredients for it - I knew that's what I needed to make!
This was incredibly easy to make - just toss hot pasta with lemon herb compound butter, spinach, and Parmesan, then top with seared salmon and more compound butter. I used frozen Alaskan salmon, frozen spinach, and store-bought garlic butter spread (I added lemon juice and zest to it) - so this was really quick and easy. Plus (with the salmon, spinach, and protein-plus pasta), it was really healthy!
I actually made this Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie back in March for Pi Day with Melissa from Smells Like Brownies. We made it with Irish Stout beer so that it would also be appropriate for St Patrick's Day. But I was in the middle of moving, and so never actually posted about it. The weather right now is making me crave warm comfort food, and I thought that this dish would be appreciated. So here I am!
One of the tricks to this recipe is to use grated tofu, which is accomplished by freezing the tofu, then thawing slightly so that it will be the right firmness. So make sure to freeze your tofu at least a day ahead of when you want to cook.
Next, saute an onion, and add toasted walnuts and the shredded tofu. Add soy sauce and lemon juice, and cook until the liquid is gone.
I love to make French Toast this time of year. My husband loves it, too, he says that my French Toast is the best (so sweet <3). I think the secret is to definitely use brioche or challah, that plus a million ingredients in the batter - read on!
In addition to eggs and cream, I use vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange juice, lemon zest, and sherry. So many flavors! It is so worth it. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, either slice the bread (thickly, 1 inch) the night before and leave it out to get stale, or toast it slightly in the morning. Then make the batter and soak each side of the bread for 10 minutes. Just before you cook the toast (in butter, of course), sprinkle one side with granulated sugar - this will created a yummy bit of caramelization. Do the same to the other side before you flip it over to cook.
Top with lots of butter and some maple syrup. Yum. This is definitely the perfect French Toast - custardy in the middle, little bit of caramelization, lots of flavor.
Earlier in the month, I helped Melissa of Smells Like Brownies with her Secret Recipe Club recipe - Prosecco Poached Salmon. (My October SRC post is here.) It was so delicate, creamy, and yummy that I wanted to make sure to share it with my readers as well!
First, make sure that you are using good quality salmon. I refuse to eat farmed Atlantic salmon, and wild caught Alaskan can be expensive. So I usually opt for the farmed Norwegian or Icelandic, which never fails to be thick and fatty - yum.
First you will cook shallots in butter, then add Prosecco and thyme to make a poaching broth. Then, you will carefully place the salmon into the broth and spoon hot liquid over the top until cooked to your liking (Melissa and I both prefer medium).
Earlier this week I talked about my Marrakesh box from Try The World, and what I did with the sardines from it. Now I'd like to tell you what I did with the rest of the items, which was to make this beautiful lamb and couscous dish!
First I took cubed lamb and tossed it with some of the kefta rub, then browned it in batches.
I really want to tell you guys about this delightful sardine butter that I made with lemon and fresh herbs, but first I need to tell you how I happened to acquire some sardines. (Also -check out my delicious Seeded Peasant Bread in the photo, there.)
I recently signed up for a subscription service called Try The World, which sends me a box of international goodies every other month. The boxes are themed, so that everything in each comes from one country - my first box was Marrakesh (Morocco).
Lemme walk you through what it is like to get one of these boxes in the mail. You open up the cardboard cube, and inside is an adorable print and your beautiful box.