So here in snowy Minnesota, we are enjoying a crazy awesome winter. Sunny, way warmer than usual, and as of today, only a tiny bit of snow on the ground! I can’t remember a winter that has been this mild, well…ever. I have to say all of this very mild weather has kept my mood from heading to despair (although I love living in a place that has 4 seasons- there is truly nothing like watching the snow fall from a window- I have little to no interest in actually spending time out in the cold…and trust me, I’ve sure tried to be interested). At this point of the winter I frequently need rescuing. Even though this winter has has been relatively mild, I’m still ecstatic that spring is on its way. Longer days, daylight when I wake up, birds chirping outside, and egg salad….
It’s hard to believe it’s already Wednesday and time for another Good (Food) Reads, a short collection of food stories we’re loving. We had a glimpse of spring this past weekend (yes!) and while the temperatures have dipped back firmly into winter, it’s got me excited about what’s to come. I’m starting to see fresh asparagus pop up at grocery stores and I’m so ready for new fruits and vegetables to join them!
One of the very first books I got when I first started cooking was Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess. At the time, Nigella wasn’t yet a household name here in the U.S. I used to watch her first show, Nigella Bites, on Style Network (does that even exist anymore?!?). I loved the glimpses into London life and her quirky British sensibilities. She was unabashedly in love with food and it made me want to cook everything she did! One of my favorite recipes from those early days – one that I still make today – is for Molten Chocolate Babycakes. In the book, she refers to them as “the acceptable face of culinary cute” and I couldn’t agree more. They are however, also absolutely delicious….
Course number 4 of our epic dinner party featured Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin Crostini. This may be my favorite of all of the courses, although I must admit, with this particular dinner menu the competition is fierce. This is not a recipe for your vegetarian friends. This is not a recipe for your spice adverse friends. This is definitely a great crowd pleasing recipe for everyone else!
I developed this appetizer recently, based on a recipe I found in a cookbook. This cookbook was one that that I bought on a whim at Costco-Valerie Bertinelli’s “One Dish at a Time“. That title is super funny to those of us who grew up watching the sitcom “One Day at a Time” (1975-1984) which starred Valerie Bertinelli (and if you haven’t seen it, you should look it up-for the hair alone). For those of you who are a little younger than me, you may know Valerie Bertinelli as the wife (1981-2007), now ex-wife, of Van Halen frontman, Eddie Van Halen. And if you are even younger than that, you would probably remember her for her stint as a Jenny Craig spokeswoman. For all of her fame on TV, I never knew she could cook. I mostly bought the book for the pictures (does anyone else do that, or it just me?). Sometimes impulsive buys are great buys, because so far what I’ve tried out of this book, proves it…this gal can cook.
This appetizer is based off of her Peppered Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Sauce which I have made again and again for special occasions (for instance, girls’ weekend at the cabin). It has never let me down, and is actually pretty simple. The horseradish sauce can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator. The beef can actually be prepared a day in advance as well, and allowing the meat to sit in the spicy rub only makes it better! Although I surely love when I can serve this as the main course, unfortunately 8 total dinner guests makes this cost prohibitive to serve as an entree. I knew I wanted to serve it though-voila-the crostini was born! I make my horseradish sauce a little spicier and have added some peppery arugula and crunchy french bread to make it into an appetizer instead of a meal. Definitely worth trying for your next party, or your next date night in, or just because you think it looks delicious!
Try it-and then let us know what you think!
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3 Tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 6 Tablespoons peppercorns (you can use mixed or just black)
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons butter (unsalted, at room temperature)
- 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1-2 pound piece of beef tenderloin
- 2 cups arugula
- 2 loaves of french bread
- Combine the sour cream, mustard and horseradish in a small bowl until smooth.
- Transfer into a refrigerator safe jar or container-this can be refrigerated up to two days ahead-and it really does make the flavors better.
- Grind the peppercorns (I use a cheap coffee grinder that I have designated for spices only) until coarse.
- Combine the coarsely ground peppercorns, salt, mustard, butter and parsley until well mixed.
- Rub the tenderloin with the spiced butter, coating completely-use all of the butter mixture.
- At this point you can wrap in plastic and refrigerate-up to 1 day-or go to the next step.
- Preheat oven to 450ºF.
- If you have refrigerated your beef, take it out and allow it to warm to room temperature.
- Place beef in a shallow baking pan (I use a small rectangular pyrex baking pan, you can also use a rack in your pan if you have one, but I have not found this necessary).
- Roast at 450ºF for 25-30 minutes, until your meat thermometer registers 130ºF (for medium rare).
- While tenderloin is roasting, thinly slice french bread and lay flat on a baking sheet or jelly roll pain.
- When tenderloin is done, take out of oven and allow to rest for 10-20 minutes.
- Slice beef thinly with a very sharp knife.
- Turn oven to broil.
- Place bread in oven on broil for 1-2 minutes, watching very closely to ensure bread does not start to burn.
- Allow bread to cool slightly.
- Spread horseradish sauce (made previously) on bread.
- Place arugula on top of sauce
- Place a thin slice of beef tenderloin on top of arugula
- If you are like me and love your sauces, you can place an additional dollop of sauce on the top.
- Serve and enjoy
First things first, guys. I made this amazing Crockpot Lentil Soup from Pinch of Yum the other day and it was amazing. It’s full of flavor and easy, easy, easy to prepare. We try to stick with Meatless Mondays in our house and I’m happy to report this soup was the perfect vegetarian meal! It is filling, healthy, and hearty. I did make a few tweaks to Lindsay’s recipe – my husband hates kale (I know! He says it’s a garnish, not a food!) so I used chopped spinach in place of the kale. Also, I didn’t have any yellow split peas on hand so I made the whole thing with lentils. I highly recommend her suggestion to finish the soup with a splash of red wine vinegar and serve with crusty bread and parmesan….
If you’re ever in need of a crazy easy dessert, this Pomegranate Lime Sorbet is most certainly a contender. The recipe was adapted from the November 2015 issue of Bon Appétit. In the magazine, they used the sorbet to make parfaits with labneh (a Lebanese strained yogurt – similar to greek style), pistachios and a drizzle of honey. As we were using the sorbet as a palate cleanser of sort for our recent dinner party, we chose to serve it simply in Meyer lemon halves, sprinkled with a dusting of lime zest….
This Carrot Ginger Soup with Coconut Shrimp was course number 3 in our epic dinner party. (P.S.-don’t worry if you’re having a hard time following along with our dinner party menu reveal, I promise to post the entire menu in order, with links, in a few weeks. And if you just can’t wait, it was already posted on twitter so you can check it out there!). We knew we wanted a soup course to follow our Pomegranate, Squash and Apple salad. While we were initially dreaming up plans for our blog we had a lot of “business” lunches at Lakeshore Grill at Macy’s in Ridgedale (which has been totally redone, and if you haven’t checked it out you definitely should!). Their summer soup was a carrot scallion soup that was so good, I would order it for lunch and then order a cup to take with me to my evening shift at work. Looking around the internet for a soup that would be similar to this one, brought us to this Carrot Ginger Soup with Coconut Shrimp from Food and Wine. Holly made the soup first, and interestingly enough, this soup is not really similar to the carrot scallion we loved-but it is fabulous in its own right, so fabulous that we decided to add it to our dinner party menu. Sometimes you find exactly what you need, exactly when you need it!
I first made this soup for some friends while up at my cabin. My friends loved it and the soup was given rave reviews. This soup is creamy and bright, with a hint of heat that is well balanced by the coconut shrimp. It is ridiculously simple to make and yet tastes complex. We served our soup not only with the coconut shrimp, but also with a peanut-cilantro gremolata. So delicious, your guests will thank you!
And if anyone has a recipe for a good Carrot Scallion soup, please let us know, we are still looking!
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- ¾ pound carrots, diced
- 1 Tablespoon ginger, grated
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons lime juice
- 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon creamy peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon asian sesame oil
- 1 cup skim milk
- ¼ cup light coconut milk
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 3 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- 3 Tablespoons salted peanuts, chopped
- 16-30 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ½ cup shredded sweetened coconut
- Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a dutch oven until shimmering.
- Add onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes until onion is softened.
- Add carrots, ginger, and crushed red pepper, and sauté for 6 minutes.
- Add chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil.
- Turn heat down and simmer the mixture for approximately 20 minutes until the carrots are tender.
- Take dutch oven off of the heat and add in soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, peanut butter, and sesame oil.
- Using an immersion blender (or you can transfer the soup to a conventional blender), puree soup until smooth.
- Add skim milk and coconut milk.
- Season to taste taste with salt and pepper.
- You can eat the soup immediately, or refrigerate overnight and plan to eat the next day.
- When you are ready to eat the soup, reheat if not eating immediately.
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- Thaw the shrimp if frozen.
- Combine the shrimp with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil until lightly coated.
- Roll shrimp in sweetened, shredded coconut.
- Spread the shrimp on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- We sprinkled an additional Tablespoon of coconut onto shrimp on the baking sheet.
- Roast in the oven at 425ºF for 5-8 minutes keeping an eye on the shrimp to ensure it it is pink but the coconut is not burning.
- Combine the chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts to form the gremolata.
- Ladle the soup into bowls, top with gremolata and serve with shrimp.
It’s a good week in the internet, folks. Especially, when it comes to good food reads. Here are my favorite recipes, links, and articles for the week. Happy reading!
Alexandra’s Kitchen has long been a favorite read in the blog world. I was first introduced to the blog by wonderful sister-in-law, who loves to make her fingerling potatoes with rosemary and thyme (try them – you won’t regret it!). I’m aching to make this white bean and orange salsa. Sounds like the perfect winter treat.
Since I’ve got salsa on the brain, I’ve been looking at tons of Mexican recipes. These Mexican Molletes are next up on my to-try list! Avocados are great right now and I’ve never met a recipe with cheese and homemade refried beans I didn’t love. Bring. It. On.
Danielle Walker and her Against All Grain books are go-to sources for healthier, but still hearty recipes my whole family loves. I just made these Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Blue Cheese Dressing and they were a hit. If you leave out the cheese, these are paleo and Whole30 friendly, but honestly, I say leave it in. We could all use a little more blue cheese in our lives.
Avocado tzatziki. Yes, you read that right. I will be making these 30 Minute Greek Chicken Lettuce Cups with Avocado Tzatziki ASAP.
Boozy olives. My kind of recipe. Thanks, Sweet Paul. He suggests that they’ll make great gifts, but let’s be real, these aren’t going anywhere but in my fridge.
And for a good morning, Coconut Mango Muffins from The Clever Carrot. Yes, please. They’ll be the perfect breakfast treat to accompany a chai latte.
All good dinner parties need treat bags, right? We hadn’t really considered it when first planning our menu. But it is a funny story, how these particular treat bags came to be. My 13-year-old daughter has been learning her own way around the kitchen and has discovered that baking is her forte. For her last birthday I bought her a copy of Joy the Baker’s Homemade Decadence, because really, it is never too early to start your cookbook library-even if you are only turning 13. (P.S.-If you don’t have this one, it is a must have!) My daughter has been slightly obsessed with a recipe in this cookbook for Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies. I must admit, they didn’t look like much, so when she chose them for her weekend project several months ago, I wasn’t super excited. I’m not usually too moved by anything dusted with powdered sugar. However, when I tasted these gooey little bombs, I quickly changed my mind. Pure heaven. My daughter has now made the recipe many, many times and they definitely rise to the occasion. Every time.
When my daughter found out Holly and I were hosting a dinner party, she offered to make a batch of these Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies for us. We already had plans for our dessert course (coming soon!), but what would be a better take home remembrance of a really fun night than a bag of cookies? We took her up on her offer. She set to work, crafting the cookies, and I set to work crafting some bags for the cookies to be packaged in. I’m pretty pleased with what we came up with, and I think our dinner guests were too!
So now that our dinner is over, I can only hope that all of our guests are happily treating themselves to some Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies. Preferably with a nice glass of wine. I recommend you all try them too. Your friends will thank you.
And a special thanks to Joy the Baker (Joy Wilson).
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder (this can be been somewhat hard to find, you can substitute Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder which is a blend of natural and Dutch processed cocoas-this has worked fine for us)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅓ cup (3 ounces) chopped dark chocolate (we have used both 70% and 72% cacao chocolate bars-both have worked well)
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar (you can likely get away with less of this as this is just to roll the cookies in)
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- In a medium bowl ,combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
- Chop the room temperature butter into small pieces and rub into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Mix in the chopped dark chocolate.
- In a small bowl, mix together the egg and vanilla.
- Pour the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture and mix until moistened.
- Press the dough into a ball (you'll have to get your hands dirty here if you haven't already).
- Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Put the confectioners' sugar in a shallow bowl.
- Using a tablespoon, form balls of the refrigerated chocolate mixture.
- Roll the ball in the confectioners' sugar.
- Place the sugar covered ball on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Repeat with the remaining chocolate mixture, rolling in confectioners' sugar before placing on baking sheet.
- Bake about 10 minutes leaving the cookies just a bit undercooked on the insides.
- Cool on the pan for a few minutes before finishing cooling on a cooling rack.
- These are fabulous served warm, and almost just as good eaten over the next 4 days (store in an airtight container).
Ravioli with Rosemary Mushroom Sauce, makes me hungry just thinking about it! You may have heard about our epic dinner party this week, and if you haven’t, trust me you will, as we plan to explore the art of the dinner party in a blog post coming up soon. This was an old fashioned dinner party, complete with eight plated courses. Six guests (plus Holly and I), sitting at a large table, enjoying a delicious food experience. The dinner party is an art that it is high time we resurrect! (The complete dinner party menu is up on Twitter-so if you are unable to wait, you can check it out @withtwospoons)
As Holly and I were going over plans for this dinner party, we decided we wanted to serve a pasta dish before our main course. What to do, what to do? Preferrably, something not too difficult. We really wanted the course to look elegant. The pasta had to taste exceptional. That is when a ravioli presented with a simple sauce rose to the top of the list. Unfortunately the first recipe I tried did not work as written and we didn’t have much time to figure something else out. We had to take a leap of faith and stick to what we knew-wine and butter. Turns out, sometimes, out of the simplest ingredients, comes the most divine flavor! And thus Ravioli with Rosemary Mushroom Sauce was born!
Not only was this simple to make, we also found you could stick the sauce in a small crock pot, set it on low (or even warm), and serve it when the time was right-perfect for a multi-course dinner. Topped with some parmesan cheese and a garnish of rosemary, this ravioli received high praise at our dinner party. I promise you this one is truly simple and quick to make. Hmmm…might even make a nice dinner for Valentine’s Day!
- 2 pounds cheese ravioli
- 8 Tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 8-ounce containers of fresh cremini mushrooms, chopped into small bite site pieces
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus extra for seasoning if needed)
- 2 shallots, sliced
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup of white wine
- 3 Sprigs of rosemary
- grated parmesan cheese for garnish
- shaved parmesan cheese for garnish
- 8 tips of rosemary sprigs (approximately 1 inch pieces) for garnish
- Start water boiling water for pasta in a deep pot. Add salt to pasta water (optional).
- Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.
- Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter in hot pan.
- Saute mushrooms and salt in the melted butter and olive oil for approximately 3 minutes
- Add rosemary sprigs, shallots and garlic to mushrooms and sauté until shallots are soft, approximately 5 minutes.
- Add wine and reduce until wine is reduced to ¼ cup.
- While wine is reducing, add pasta to boiling water and simmer according to directions on ravioli package.
- Drain ravioli and keep warm.
- After wine is almost fully reduced (to a ¼ cup or less), remove mushroom mixture from heat.
- Taste and add salt if needed.
- Remove rosemary sprigs from mixture.
- Add remaining 4 Tablespoons of butter and allow to melt.
- Place desired amount of ravioli on a plate (or in a bowl), add a spoonful of rosemary mushroom sauce, garnish with a sprinkle of grated parmesan, a few shreds of shaved parmesan, and the tip of a rosemary sprig.
- Serve and enjoy!