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Thursday, May 31, 2012

French Toast--My Vacation Breakfast

I am currently on vacation.  We're at the beach in North Carolina, and it's quite luxurious.  Our house is on the beach, and at night, I leave my window open to listen to the waves.  I also have time to make real breakfasts.  My typical routine is too crazy for fresh breakfasts, so we often do cereal or bagels or frozen (homemade) pancakes.  But during vacation, we actually get breakfasts that are hot from the stove, like this French toast.  My kids love it, and although I don't make it daily, it's relatively simple.  It also makes a lot of French toast, so I freeze the leftovers to serve during my busy non-beach life.  :-)

French Toast
Makes 8-10 pieces

4 eggs
1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping teaspoon apple pie spice (or a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and/or cloves)
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
8-10 thick slices of challah bread
1 tablespoon butter

Heat a large pan or griddle over medium heat.  Whisk the eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla extract, spices, and lemon zest and juice in a shallow pan or wide bowl.  Melt the butter in the pan.  Place the slices of challah in the egg mixture, making sure to allow the bread to soak up the custard.  Let the excess drain off of the bread and place on the griddle.  Cook until the bread is golden on one side and then flip carefully.  Cook for another few minutes until the other side is golden.  Serve hot with syrup, powdered sugar or fruit.
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Monday, May 21, 2012

Pickled Carrots and Radishes [Secret Recipe Club]

My life has been busy!  I work at a college, and students didn't leave campus until last week.  I got a cold.  My daughter had her 6th birthday party.  My CSA started up.  And I had to prepare for this month's Secret Recipe Club.  Luckily, the last two events overlapped.  :-)  I was assigned to secretly choose something  from Joanna's blog, Cairn's Manor, and out of sheer luck I had bookmarked this recipe for Pickled Carrots and Radishes, even before I knew I was getting two big bunches of radishes from my CSA.  I also had planned on making an Asian-marinated flank steak for dinner last week, so I knew it was kismet.  I made a couple of small changes to Joanna's recipe, but nothing major.  My family loved the flavors together, and my daughter even asked for a big portion of it on the side to eat.  I know I'll be making this again and again (especially since I get a ton of radishes every spring and never know quite what to do with them)!

On a side note, I feel a special kinship to Joanna since she and I share a love story around fettuccine alfredo.  Back in February, she actually cooked one of my favorite dishes my husband makes for me and featured it on her blog.  I guess fettuccine alfredo makes the world go round.  :-)

Pickled Carrots and Radishes
Adapted from Cairn's Manor
Makes 1 Pint

3 carrots, peeled and grated
2 bunches red radishes, grated
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 + 1/8 cup white distilled vinegar
1/2 cup warm water
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Place the carrots, radishes, and cilantro in a small bowl and mix with the salt and let sit for 5-10 minutes.  Place in a colander and squeeze all of the liquid out that you can.  Fill a pint jar or other sealable container with the vegetables, layering with the cilantro as you go.

In a medium bowl, mix the sugar and warm water until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the vinegar and red pepper flakes.  Pour over the vegetables until completely covered.  Refrigerate for at least one hour before eating.  The pickled veggies should last about a month in the refrigerator.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

I love this time of year.  It's just starting to get warm, and the promise of summer produce appears with fresh greens, asparagus and strawberries.  Strawberries are a favorite in my house, and I'm rarely lucky enough to make anything with them since they disappear almost as soon as I walk in the door with them.  (If you notice, there are no strawberries artfully strewn around this frozen yogurt in the pictures.  This isn't because I didn't want them there, but more because my kids snatched up the leftovers--and my props--as soon as I turned my back!)

So when I get a chance (or my kids don't realize I've brought them home), I try to make strawberry desserts.  One of my favorites is the classic Strawberry Shortcake, but when it's hot outside and turning the oven on sounds like torture, I make this easy Strawberry Frozen Yogurt.  It takes just a few ingredients and, except for the sugar (which can be adjusted to your needs), is relatively healthy.  All you need is some sort of ice cream maker, and you're in business! (If you don't have one, I have a basic Cuisinart ice cream maker, which is relatively inexpensive and easy to clean that I can recommend. I've had it for a few years and have loved it every step of the way!)

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

16 oz fresh strawberries, washed and stems removed, quartered
2/3 cup sugar
1-2 teaspoons Cointreau (optional)
32 ounces plain lowfat yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Mix the strawberries, sugar, and Cointreau in a medium bowl.  Cover and set aside for at least two hours, stirring occasionally.

Pour the strawberries and juice into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Add the yogurt and lemon juice and blend until thoroughly mixed.  Feel free to strain at this point, but I never do.

Place the mixture in the refrigerator for at least one hour to chill and then freeze in your ice cream maker according to its directions. Place in a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least two hours before serving.  If you're making it more than a few hours before eating, make sure to take it out of the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving to help soften the yogurt.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Eating in Vienna, Austria: Part Two

I can't believe that I forgot to post my second part to my "Eating in Vienna" series!  Since I work at a college, my busy times are at the whim of the college schedule, and spring is crazy.  But better late than never, right?  In my first post about Eating in Vienna, I wrote about different restaurants and cafes that are worth your time, but this time around, I'd like to focus on a couple of alternative ways to eat in the city.

One of my absolute favorite places in the city, not only for food, but also for culture and atmosphere, is the Naschmarkt.  Located in the 6th district, it is easily accessible and centrally located.  Not only can you find the typical market fare like fruits and veggies, you can also find an abundance of culturally diverse foods.  My favorite stalls carry flavored hummus, stuffed veggies and other Mediterranean-type foods.

Spice stores abound--there's not a spice I haven't found at these markets!  I actually brought whole nutmeg home all the way from Vienna because the prices were amazing.

The Naschmarkt is the perfect place to put together a picnic.  We always get olives, falafel, stuffed peppers and artichokes, some fresh bread, and last time, we even bought some gooseberries to try!  Don't be intimidated if you don't speak German--most of the shopkeepers speak enough English to get you by.

Another fun option just outside of the city are Heurige.  Heurige are small, local wineries that often sell their new wines and other local fare right on their property. We visited Heurigenschenke zur Wildsau on our last visit, mostly because it was accessible by city bus, but if you have a car, you can visit any and all of these Viennese treasures!  The Heurige we visited had a large closed-in park-like space scattered with picnic tables, and we spent hours here enjoying the wine, beer and food with friends who were living in Vienna at the time while overlooking the beautiful city of Vienna.  I would recommend ordering the house Heurige, which is the early wine from that year, but other options abound.  If you'd like to visit a Heuriger, you can find a list by area here.  (If you notice that I spelled Heurige two ways, it's not a mistake!  My husband is a German professor and insists on correct grammar...even if it is German grammar.  ;-)  )

At Heurigenschenke zur Wildsau, you pay for your meal by weight.
The "bar."
A child's birthday party was celebrated while we were there--proving that this is a child-friendly location where adults can also enjoy themselves!
A view of the city
Have you traveled to Vienna?  Where are you favorite alternative places to enjoy food there?

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Potato and Zucchini Salad with Dill

Last week while in Marksbury Farm Market, I saw some local zucchini begging me to buy it.  Strange since I'm not zucchini's biggest fan.  It must have known that I needed to branch out and continue trying it, and somehow it ended up in my shopping bag.  When I got home, however, I wasn't really sure what to do with it.  We had decided to grill that night, and I just love potato salad when grilling, so I thought I'd throw together what I had on hand into a potato and zucchini salad.  It was a hit...even with my potato-salad-averse husband.  This salad is really very simple and could be extremely versatile.  You could try throwing in some other veggies, but if you get a talking zucchini like I did, it might get a little envious.  ;-)


As a side note, I wanted to let you know about a fun culinary event happening in Louisville, Kentucky tomorrow (May 2nd).  Chefs Cat Cora and Anthony Lamas (of Seviche in Louisville) will be doing a cooking demonstration at Macy's Oxmoor.  RSVPs are requested, so jump on over to the website to find out more info!

Potato and Zucchini Salad with Dill
Serves 6

4-5 medium gold or red potatoes, chopped
1 small zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, both white and green parts
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
3-4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Boil the potatoes in salted water until fork tender.  Drain and cool on a cookie sheet.

Place cooled potatoes, zucchini, and onions in a bowl.  Mix sour cream, mayonnaise, 3 teaspoons lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Taste and add more lemon juice and/or salt to taste.  Mix the dressing in with the vegetables gently.  Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

Serve cold.

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