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Monday, March 23, 2015

A Slice of Heaven: Shaved Asparagus Pizza With Robiola & Truffle Oil

When I splurge, I really go for it. So it's no surprise that today's already decadent (yet gorgeously simple) Pizza of creamy, rich Robiola Cheese is further spiked with a good dose of truffle-y goodness. You only live once, you know? To keep dinner somewhat legitimate, we've topped our pie with thin shavings of raw Asparagus (a very good idea that I learned from Smitten Kitchen). Let it not be said that we don't eat our veggies. On the contrary, we love them! 

Shaved Asparagus Pizza With Robiola & Truffle Oil, Photo: NK

This Pizza makes your otherwise ho-hum dinner plans into a real treat in no time flat. The key? Robiola - a distinct yet very mild soft Italian Cheese that is worth seeking out, but if you can't find it, Goat Cheese or Ricotta make worthy substitutes. A nice bottle of good quality White Truffle Oil is a pantry investment that keeps on giving. For the Truffle Salt component, we love Vines & Branches Black Truffle Sea Salt but other brands are widely available at specialty markets.

Now let's get cooking and allow me to wish you Buon Appetito! 


Shaved Asparagus Pizza With Robiola & Truffle Oil
Serves 2-3
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:
4-6 Large Stalks of Asparagus, tough ends trimmed off
1 Medium Round of Prepared Pizza Dough 
Flour, for dusting and rolling out dough
6 Ounces of Robiola* Cheese, room temperature (Goat Cheese or even Ricotta make good stand-ins)
1 Tablespoon White Truffle Oil plus more 
Truffle Salt, or other flakey Salt 
Black Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
Recommended Equipment: A Vegetable Peeler,  A large piece of Parchment Paper & A Pizza Stone

*Robiola is a soft, bloomy Italian cheese that is made from a mix of goat and sheep milk. There are several types of Robiola. The most commonly used on Pizza would be Robiola Piemonte. You can also use Robiola Bosina which comes with an edible rind. In this case,  I like to scoop out the middle for topping the pizza and use some of the rind (not all) because it tends to froth a bit when melted. Either way, it will taste good! 

Method:
1. Place Pizza Stone on the bottom-most rack of the over and preheat for at least a half hour on 525.

Shaved Asparagus, Photo: NK
2. Meanwhile, on a clean, floured work surface, roll your dough into a ball. Stretch carefully into a round and transfer onto a large square of parchment paper. 

3. To prepare the Asparagus, place the spears on a work surface and drag a vegetable peeler across them lengthwise. Be sure to peel away from yourself to avoid injury. Keep going until you have a nice pile of Shaved Asparagus 

4. Drizzle Oil into the middle of the dough. Using a paper towel, lightly spread the Oil over the dough and  crust. Add a bit more if needed. You ideally want a slight sheen, not a grease slick.

5. Dot the Dough all over with chunks of Robiola. Nestle the Shaved Asparagus on top of the Cheese and Sprinkle all over with Truffle Salt, Black Pepper. and a few sprinkles of Crushed Red Pepper (if you like a little kick).
Prepare on Parchment for easy transfer to the Pizza Stone
Photo: NK

6. Drizzle Pie with a bit more Truffle Oil. Holding the parchment by each corner, carefully transfer the Pizza directly onto the Pizza Stone in the Oven.

7. Allow to cook for 10 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Carefully remove Pizza and Stone from oven and let sit for 2-3 minutes before slicing and serving.  

Enjoy! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Shortcut: Scallops With White Wine & Orange Sauce

If you don't already know, this blog's raison d'ĂȘtre is to provide accessible yet still impressive recipes for the busy home cook (with a day job!). With that in mind, many of the dishes we feature can be prepared in well under an hour, most less than a half hour, and still more in mere minutes. One of the things that delights me most is when I can consult Neurotic Kitchen for a recipe. Cooking from your own blog is gratifying in itself, but being able to take the place of your reader is especially instructive. I'll inevitably go back and edit myself so that the method is that much easier for you. 


Seared Scallops with White Wine & Orange Sauce, Photo: NK
While we're on the subject, another thing that gives me a thrill is short-handing staple recipes when I am even more pressed for time than usual. You cook something enough, you get to know if by heart - so why not simplify it even further if the situation warrants? In fact, the more confident you become as a cook, the more you'll find yourself able to achieve similar results in half the time by taking the essence of a recipe and changing up the preparation for ease and speed. That's how most of Neurotic Kitchen's recipes are born, and how my standard splurge dish of Scallop With Citrus Beurre Blanc morphed into today's even speedier (I am talking minutes, here) Shortcut Scallop with White Wine and Orange Sauce. 

This cliff notes version of a fancier dish is a great weeknight recipe that's ready lightening quick. Under ten minutes to be exact. Do try our full-on Scallops With Orange Beurre Blanc recipe when you have a little bit more time and are looking to impress! 

Shortcut Seared Scallops with White Wine & Orange Sauce 
Serves 2 as an appetizer or light entree 

Ingredients: 
10-12 Large Sea Scallops, tough muscle removed
1 Small Shallot, chopped
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil + an extra drizzle
1/8 Cup Wine
1/4 Cup Orange Juice
1 Tablespoon of Butter
1/3 Cup Minced Parsley
Salt & Pepper

Method:

1. Pat very dry and season Scallops with Salt and Pepper.

2. Heat Oil in a skillet over medium heat. Swirl to cover evenly.  

3. When Oil is shimmering, add the Scallops and cook, untouched, until caramelized on one side, about 2-3 minutes. They should detach from the skillet easily, or with a gentle scape from a metal spatula. Flip Scallops and finish cooking for another minute or so until firm and opaque. Remove Scallops to a plate. 

4. In the skillet, drizzle a bit more oil of needed and add the Shallots. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften and become translucent - 4 to 5 minutes. 

5. Now add the Wine and Orange Juice. Bring the liquid to a boil and allow to bubble until it reduces to about a third of its original volume. This will happen quickly!

6. Turn off the heat and add Butter. Stir it until it melts. Finish by adding Parsley. 
To serve, plate the Scallops and Drizzle with the Orange Sauce. Enjoy!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Baking Away the Blues - Barefoot Contessa Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Hey winter! You stink.
Yeah, you could say we are pretty much over this gray, gloomy and bone chilling season. Our vitamin D thoroughly depleted, we want nothing more than a few sun rays to help us smile a bit bigger and just generally lighten up. It's a lot easier to look on the bright side and not have a short fuse when you have cookies. In particular, these cookies. 
Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies Baked By My Hubby!  Photo: NK
That's why we're sharing our latest recipe obsession, Ina Garten's Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

We've made them a few times (the recipe yields a ton and they make great gifts) and they are really pretty flawless. We wouldn't recommend making any changes to the recipe,  not that I normally quibble with the Contessa

These cookies solve a major problem in our household. That is, my husband finds Oatmeal Raisin cookies to be worthy desserts where as I require there to be chocolate chips in most of my cookies for them to qualify as an after dinner treat. What's worse than biting into a a delicious cookie and finding a Raisin instead of a Chocolate Chip?? You know you've been there! These cover all the bases and are absolutely fantastic. Though I usually fall squarely in the chewy cookie camp, believe it or not, I think these are best crispy. Ina gives you instructions on how to achieve both textures. We did not have Fleur de Sel around so the only teensy change we made was to sprinkle French Grey Salt, another Sea Salt which is quite similar, atop the cookies.   

Below is the recipe, exactly as it appears on Barefootcontessa.com

                      Ina Garten's Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies
                      Yield: 28 - 30 Cookies 
                      Recipe exactly as it appears in Ina Garten's Make It Ahead 


Photo: NK 
Ingredients:  
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1¼ cups old-fashioned oats, such as Quaker
¾ pound bittersweet chocolate, such as Lindt, chopped in chunks
¾ cup dried cranberries
Fleur de sel
Method: 
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 3 sheet pans with parchment paper.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. On low speed, add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl again.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Mix in the oats. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture. Don’t overbeat it! With a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate and cranberries until the dough is well mixed. With a 1¾-inch ice cream scoop (or two spoons), scoop round balls of dough onto the prepared sheet pans. Sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until nicely browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*If you prefer cookies thin and crisp, bake them straight from the mixing bowl. If you prefer them chewy in the middle and crisp outside, chill the balls of dough.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sweet Love - Valentines Recipe Roundup

Brownies! The Ultimate Valentine,  Photo: NK
That much anticipated, angsty day of love safely behind us, I thought it would be fun to give you a recap of our Valentines Day culinary escapades. As you know, I am a firm believer that Valentines day need not be solely about romantic love.  It can be as simple as doing something nice for yourself, which for me, usually means feeding my face with something really good. 

Predictably, that's just what we did last weekend, and I'd love to share what we ate with you. Special thanks to the hubby for choosing a fantastic menu and making almost every dish. 

But first, a cocktail:

This Pomegranate Gin Drink is the color of love. Basil gives it a refreshing, herbal quality... 


Photo: NK
Cocktail hour is not the same without a bite-sized nibble...

Stuffed Peppers Tapa. Photo: NK










so here's our hors d'oeuvre of Spanish Tapas (from Ina Garten's newest book Make It Ahead)












Then we absolutely had to crack
A lovely Bordeaux. 


Chateau Pierrail Bordeaux, 201,  Photo: NK
For dinner, this beautiful Roast Chicken with Creme Fraiche and Herbs (by Mimi Thorisson, also in her new book, A Kitchen In France) was an ideal (and easy!) main.


Juicy Roast Chicken with Creme Fraiche & Herbs, Peas with Pancetta, Photo: NK 

A side of Peas and Pancetta, also by Ina Garten, paired perfectly with our very simple main course. 

Now, I ask you, what's Valentines day without a sweet? For us, it just had to be Brownies. And not just any...
Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies

My husband even made an extra batch to gift to our family. 
Cute heart-shaped cookie cutters from J Crew took these Brownies to the next level. 
(Paper Straws available from Spritz by Target)

Photo: NK

There you have it. Valentines Day 2015. A wonderful reason to cook and an excuse to indulge (as if we needed one). Until next year!