Again! So, whenever I make crostini, I have this problem where I can never make just one thing to go on them. At least two toppings, with three being optimal. If I wasn’t simultaneously making brownies, I would have liked to make some tapenade or tomato and avocado topping as well. The avocados here are so cheap. At our hotel in Antigua last weekend, the various courtyards had huge avocado trees in them that were heavy with ripe avocados. It was tempting to climb up and pluck a few, but I resisted.
Anyway, I made up this Baba ganoush from memory and using the ingredients I had on hand in our little Guatemala City kitchen.
- 1 medium eggplant, stabbed several times with a fork and halved
- 2 T evoo, plus more for brushing the eggplant
- 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 lime, juiced (should have been lemon, but whatever)
- 3 T tahini
- 1/2 t sea salt
- 1/4 t ground pepper
- 1/8 t red pepper flakes
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Brush the flesh of the eggplant halves generously with evoo and bake, skin side up for 30 minutes. (or until fully cooked / the skin starts to deform).
- After the eggplant has cooled (about 15 minutes), scrape out the eggplant flesh with a spoon and discard the skin and stems.
- Roughly chop the eggplant so that there are no big chunks. Stir in the remaining ingredients, adjusting juice and seasonings to taste.
Still in Guatemala, so i just made this up based on what I could find. There is this really nice little grocery store on our block (a safe distance for me to walk alone) and I was struck by how cheap basil was – 18 Quetzals for a big, healthy bunch (about $2.30). It was also the first time I had seen a good looking baguette in a grocery store here (VERY exciting). So the crostini just kind of happened. This pesto recipe is the result of working with extremely limited kitchen tools and supplies, but came out really well because the basil was so good. The radish adds a nice crunch and pepper flavor.
- 4 C basil leaves, washed super well
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 (?) C almonds
- 1/4 C evoo
- 2 T lime juice
- 2 T Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 t sea salt
- 1/4 t fresh ground pepper
- toast the almonds on the stove. medium to medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes. stir occasionally so as not to burn them!
- pulse toasted almonds in food processor until they are finely chopped.
- add whole garlic and process until the garlic is all chopped up. Then add oil then basil and process until the basil is all chopped.
- stir in cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
- Set the oven to broiler.
- Slice baguette into 1/4″ to 3/8″ slices and arrange as many as you can fit on a baking sheet. Our oven is so tiny that I did batches on the little pan that comes in your toaster-oven. Yeah.
- Brush with evoo. Since of course I didn’t have a brush, I dipped a fork in a glass of evoo and spread that over the slices. You really don’t want too much olive oil on the bread, just enough to make them golden.
- Toast in the oven for about 4 minutes.
* Optional – slice a clove of garlic in half and rub on the toasts, either before baking or right after they come out. This is good if you like garlic as much as I do.
- 5 – 6 radishes, thoroughly washed and sliced as thin as possible
- spread a tablespoon of pesto on each toast, then top with a few radish slices. Done.
Oh yeah… Thank you, Smitten Kitchen. I just slightly adjusted the ingredients to simplify the items I had to buy, and to make it a little less bad for you. They are still extremely rich and delicious!
- 1/2 C granulated sugar
- 2 T unsalted butter
- Heaped 1/4 t sea salt
- 2 T heavy cream
- 3 ounces very dark chocolate (~70% cocoa), roughly chopped
- 4 T unsalted butter, plus extra for pan (notice you use less than a stick of butter for the whole thing – Smitten calls for 1 1/2 sticks!!)
- 2/3 C granulated sugar (Smitten called for 1 Cup of sugar here – after making them I think it could be further reduced to 1/2 Cup)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1/4 t sea salt
- 2/3 C all-purpose flour
- Smitten prepares parchment on a plate here – I ended up pouring the caramel directly on the plate and it worked out fine… I’m in Guatemala and didn’t want to buy parchment for the sake of one little dessert.
- In a medium, dry saucepan over medium-high heat, melt your sugar, stirring to break up large chunks, until it has turned a nice copper color.
- Remove from heat and quickly and carefully stir in butter. It may not incorporate entirely but do your best.
- Stir in cream and salt and return saucepan to the stove over medium-high heat, bringing it back to a simmer and melted again any sugar that solidified. Cook bubbling caramel for a few minutes more, until it is a shade darker.
- Pour out onto a large plate and transfer plate to your freezer. Freeze until solidified, which takes about 20 minutes.
- To separate the caramel from the plate, one swift yet careful hit with a utensil to the middle of the plate did the trick.
Meanwhile, or when your caramel is almost firm, make your brownies:
- Heat oven to 350°F. (Again, Smitten calls for parchment – not necessary!) Grease a 9 x 11 baking dish with butter or cooking spray (sides too).
- In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter. Off the heat, whisk in sugar, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt. Stir in flour until just mixed – you don’t want to over stir the flour.
- Assemble brownies: Chop the caramel it into rough 1-inch squares. Gently fold all but a small amount of caramel bits into batter. Scrape batter into prepared pan, spreading until relatively even. Scatter remaining caramel bits on top. Bake in heated oven for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool thoroughly before cutting.
Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately… Joe and I are in Guatemala! Though the place we’re staying has a small kitchen (no smaller than MIT!), we’ve been eating out nearly every meal. Last weekend we went on a little excursion to the Caribbean via Rio Dulce – a huge, beautiful river fed by Largo Isabella, the biggest lake i have ever seen. Along the way, in Livingston, I sampled a traditional soup called Tapado. It’s a coconut milk based seafood stew with spices, plantains and whatever seafood the kitchen has on hand. Mine had lots of shrimp, a whole crab and fish (as you can see). I just love the way his – ahem – the crab’s claw dangles outside the bowl.
Even though I didn’t bring our nice camera on this trip, I have felt too self-conscious to take any photos while on the street. From now on I’ll get better about at least documenting our dining experience. So far here are a few words of advice for anyone planning a trip to Guatemala:
- Don’t eat salad out. If your dish shows up with lettuce on top, just push it to the side.
- Get a hotel with a kitchenette so you can eat veggies at home.
- Bring bug spray to Playa Blanca (beach flies were a little annoying).
This was so easy to make and tasted great. And…. it was the first ‘recipe’ I made from scratch myself!
The edamame come out slightly crunchy and full of flavor. The minced ginger are especially tasty.
- 8 oz frozen shelled edamame
- 1 T minced fresh ginger (essential!)
- 1 1/2 T soy sauce
- 1 T canola oil
- salt and fresh ground pepper
- preheat oven to 375 F.
- rinse the edamame in a sieve under lukewarm water to thaw. pat dry in a paper or clean dishtowel.
- in a small bowl, toss edamame with oil, soy sauce, and ginger.
- spread mixture evenly over baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- cook for 30-40 minutes, until they become golden, stirring every 10 minutes.
I’m so glad we started getting Bon Appetit magazine at home. It is so inspiring and so far everything has been super tasty!
- 1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 large egg whites (reserve all 4 egg whites so you have backups on step 4…)
- 1/4 cup espresso or strong coffee, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate (60-72% cacao), chopped
Beat 1/2 cup cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form; cover and chill.
Combine egg yolks, espresso, salt, and 2 Tbsp. sugar in a large metal bowl. Set over a saucepan of gently simmering water (the recipe says not allow bowl to touch water, but I don’t know how it was going to reach 160 degrees without touching a little bit – I waited over 10 minutes!). Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is lighter in color and almost doubled in volume and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the mixture registers 160 degrees, about 1 minute.
Remove bowl from pan. Add chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth. Let stand, whisking occasionally, until room temperature.
Using an electric mixer, beat egg white in another medium bowl, gradually increasing the speed from slow/medium speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually beat in remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar. Keep increase speed to high and beat until firm peaks form. Have patience here or you egg whites will not preform. Also, once they form peaks, STOP BEATING THEM!
Carefully fold egg whites into chocolate in 2 additions; fold whipped cream into mixture just to blend (this is how the yummy fluffy texture is made).
Divide mousse among six (ahem- FOUR) teacups or 4-oz. ramekins. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Mousse can be made 1 day ahead; cover and keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.
Now that I am back to bread-baking, I’ve realized that our old faithful recipe has yielded something like a ciabatta consistency dough. It is important that the dough be just on the stickier side of the sticky / tacky spectrum. It is tempting to add too much flour when kneading in order to make the dough easier to handle, but aim instead for a dough that is slightly sticky and pliable. When we’re feeling really good about the dough, we make this sauce recipe with san marzano tomatoes.
I love looking back to see how far we’ve come with our pizza skills!
- 3 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading
- 2 t sugar
- 1/2 t instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 1 1/2 cups ice water
- 1 T vegetable oil, plus more for work surface
- 1 1/2 t table salt
- In food processor fitted with metal blade, process flour, sugar, and yeast until combined, about 2 seconds. With machine running, slowly add water through feed tube; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand 10 minutes.
- Add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of the bowl, 30 – 60 seconds. Remove dough from bowl and knead briefly on lightly oiled countertop until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days. (We aim to make the dough 2 days before using it for best results.)