Wednesday, April 28, 2010

French Pressed Coffee

For a while now, I've been interested in switching from drip-filtered coffee to a French press. I'd only had French pressed coffee a few times in my life, and I'd always been impressed with the taste. Whether real or imagined, I tend to detect that paper flavor in filtered coffee. Plus, from a food snob perspective, French pressed coffee has the advantage of being a more natural, hand-crafted experience. So when my birthday rolled around, I asked for -- and received -- my very own French press.

Preparation is simple, and not as time-consuming as I'd expected. (I don't grind my own beans; prep and cleanup times would be longer if I did... but the taste would be fresher and crisper.) I ordered medium grind coffee; the grind can't be too fine, lest it slip through the mesh.

The measurements are 1 Tablespoon of ground coffee per 4 ounces of water. Simply scoop the ground beans directly into the carafe and add the hot (not boiling) water. Let it sit for about two minutes, stir, then sit another two minutes. (You can let it sit longer for stronger coffee, but be careful not to overdo it.) Then attach the lid and press down slowly to strain.

That's it! Pour through the strainer, and you're ready to go. Start enjoying a purer, cleaner, richer coffee drinking experience.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Linguine with asparagus

Super easy alternative pasta to have for dinner...

  • Cook noodles according to package instructions.
  • Chop asparagus into 1" pieces.
  • Lay asparagus flat on a foil-lined baking sheet. Top with a bit of olive oil and chopped garlic. Cook at 450°F for 5-10 minutes.
  • Combine asparagus mix with strained noodles and serve.

    *Note: I must say I didn't really care for the Basil Garlic Linguine from Trader Joe's. It was pre-seasoned and came out a bit creamy (not sure if that's the right word for it). So next time I'll use plain noodles and use my own seasoning.
  • Sunday, April 25, 2010

    Wine of the Week - Zafrika 2008 Pinotage

    This dark purple wine from South Africa is sharp and tannic, with a slightly smokey tone. I recommend not pairing it with anything; it works well alone as an after-dinner treat.

    Friday, April 23, 2010

    Finger-Food Spread

    A few weeks ago, Joe was hosting a meeting with four people and needed something to serve. Rather than prepping a full meal, I went the snacky-fingerfood route.

    The menu:
    Water crackers
    Slices of fresh pita
    Fresh basil
    Slices of Herb bread
    Tomato bruschetta
    Kalamata olives
    Fresh hummus (not pictured)

    I must say, the fresh bread with the bruschetta was my fave. I couldn't get enough!

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    French Onion Soup

    Such oniony goodness, I actually shed tears. Or maybe it was the burning in my eyes...

  • 1 huge yellow onion, sliced, or a couple small onions
  • 1 stick butter
  • 6 cups broth - beef or veggie
  • 1/3 cup sherry
  • Fresh bread
  • Mozzarella cheese, in slices

    1. Melt butter in a medium pot. Add onions and simmer and stir until tender, about 15 minutes.

    2. Add broth and sherry. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

    3. Toast slices of bread.

    4. Pour soup into bowls. Top with a slice of bread and cover with cheese. If you are using an oven-safe bowl, heat in oven until cheese melts. If not, like me, nuke it and serve.
  • Monday, April 19, 2010

    Grilled Veggies

    I've never grilled veggies on a charcoal grill before, but I went with my brother and some of his friends to barbecue in a park where that was the only option. Since everyone else was eating meat, meat and more meat, I (the sole vegetarian) brought my own food supply of asparagus, tomatoes, bell pepper, and corn. The only condiments I used were salt and butter, sparingly. It was all absolutely delicious! I think I ate it all in about 10 minutes!

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    Wedding Soup

    A very easy-to-make yet filling soup. Fun fact of the day: According to Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's, wedding soup doesn't refer to a marriage, but to the pairing of greens and meat...

    Serves 2:
    ~12 pre-made meatballs (I used Meatless Meatballs)
    4 cups beef or veggie broth
    1 large carrots, sliced
    1 clove garlic, chopped
    1/2 cup onion, chopped
    3 cups spinach
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan

    Heat onions, garlic, and carrot in olive oil for about 5 minutes.

    Add broth and meatballs. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. add spinach and boil for 5 more minutes.

    Garnish with cheese.

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Curried Couscous

    Another goodie from Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's...

  • 1 Cup couscous
  • 1/4 cup Thai Yellow Curry Sauce
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth (I used veggie)
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • Anything else to spice up the flavor - I added dried cranberries and yellow raisins

    1. Heat curry sauce and broth in a saucepan. When boiling, add couscous. Cover and remove from heat for 5 minutes.

    2. Fluff couscous with a fork. Stir in rest of the ingredients.
  • Sunday, April 11, 2010

    Wine of the Week - Ravenswood 2007 Zinfandel

    I love zinfandels. My favorite wine. This one wasn't great, but I liked it well enough. Full-bodied, tones of cherry and earth, citrus aftertaste. 13.5% alcohol.

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Chocolaty-Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

    For Joe's birthday, I thought I'd make him his favorite treat in the world - Chocolate chip cookies. But you HAVE to have a birthday cake, so I combined the two:

    Take your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and prep as directed. Grease up a casserole dish and fill with the cookie dough. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.

    Meanwhile, melt about 1 cup of chocolate chips and put in a plastic sandwich bag. Clip the tip and squeeze out the chocolate on top of the cake. Let solidify and enjoy!

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    BLT Pasta

    Once, on a plane, I was reading Real Simple magazine. And I came across this recipe. Not vegan, yet incredibly enticing. I figured it was worth a try with fakin' bacon. The rest, my friends, is history. Instead of bacon drippings, I use olive oil (which I coat the pan with before frying up the "bacon") and I always use fusilli instead of rigatoni, but that's just a personal preference.

    It's great hot, cold or room temperature, so it's a great dish for potlucks and picnics. Can you tell the gorgeous New York weather is having an effect on me?

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    Fresh Farmer's Market Pizzas

    Upon a trip to the local farmer's market with extra cash in hand and no shopping list, Joe and I came up with the grand scheme to make pita pizzas with farmer's market ingredients.

    From the Greek stand, we bought fresh pitas. Right away, I could tell the difference between these pitas and store-bought. Much lighter and fluffier.

    From the cheese man, we bought mozzarella balls made that morning, as he told us.

    From other local farmers, we bought fresh tomatoes, peppers, and onions.

    This was my first time making my own pizza sauce. I based my sauce off of one from but nixed the canned produce.

    I chopped 2 cloves of garlic (from a previous FM trip) and heated it in a pot for a few minutes. I pureed one tomato, and chopped the other, and added that to the pot, along with some brown sugar and basil and oregano (not from the FM, but I'm in the process of growing my own herbs). I cooked the sauce for about 15 minutes and slathered on the pitas. Next time I do this, I'll probably use another tomato for more sauce, and drain some of the watery liquid after cooking.

    On top of the sauce I added pieces of the fresh mozzarella and chopped veggies.
    The result - a pizza soooo much better than my regular pita pizzas. So flavorful and soft.

    To find a farmer's market near you, visit

    Sunday, April 4, 2010

    Wine of the Week - Blue Fin 2008 Chardonnay

    After the enjoyable Green Fin, I wanted to check out the Blue. This is a very dry wine with spicy tones. The palest wine I've ever seen. Light and airy. Hints of green olive.

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    Happy Passover!

    Just a reminder, all this week I'm blogging at Vegan Pesach. Check it out!