Month: June 2013

An Epicurious-Inspired Taste of Spain

The Epicurious app has successfully proven that the folks at Bon Appetit know what they’re doing when it comes to social media and iPhone apps. I find myself utilizing this app for recipes more than I do cookbooks, websites or- dare I say it- my own imagination. The other night I was inspired as I was browsing the “Spring Dinners” category and came across salmorejo– a cold Spanish soup made with tomatoes, almonds, garlic and breadcrumbs. I used to have this soup at least three times a week when I studied abroad, and even reading the name made my mouth begin to water. I decided to craft and entire Spanish meal around salmorejo and Epicurious. The supporting characters? “Arroz” con pollo (rice with chicken, similar in flavor to paella but way less complicated to make) and a light dessert of Valencia oranges with a spiced wine sauce. I put “arroz” in quotations because while the original recipe (and, of course, name) calls for long grain white rice, I wanted to try something healthier and heartier and substituted quinoa. I also used boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders instead of a whole chicken.

The salmorejo recipe was perfect. It took me right back to sitting outside at a Spanish cafe, sipping soup from a mug on a sunny Sevillano day. The recipe is so simple and satisfying, if you’re a fan of gazpacho I highly suggest you try this next time. The arroz con pollo made way more food than I expected, but I was perfectly okay with that, as it was so flavorful, healthful and authentic, I’m happy to have leftovers. I really enjoyed the quinoa substitute. The dessert was a great way to round off a healthy Spanish meal. It was refreshing yet packed with flavor, and while the original recipe didn’t call for it, I added mint and whipped cream, and wouldn’t have it any other way. So thank you, Epicurious, for letting me relive my semester abroad for the night. I was truly satisfied with my meal, would give it four forks, and would definitely make it again. Here are the recipes:

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SALMOREJO

INGREDIENTS

3 pounds ripe tomatoes

3 slices white or wheat bread, cubed and toasted

1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

4 garlic gloves, roughly chopped

1 tsp Sherry or white wine vinegar

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Cut tomatoes in half and squeeze seeds and pulp into a strainer set over a large bowl. Press solids to release as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids, core and chop the tomatoes and add them to the liquid. Combine the toasted bread cubes, slivered almonds and garlic in a food processor. Blend until well chopped. Add tomatoes with liquid to blender in batches, pureeing until very smooth. Add Sherry vinegar and blend. With blender running, slowly add olive oil and puree until emulsified and frothy. Season with salt, pepper and more vinegar if necessary. Chill until cold and serve in mugs or tea cups. Optional: garnish with Serrano ham, a chopped hard boiled egg, slivered almonds, chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives or a drizzle of olive oil.

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“ARROZ” CON POLLO

INGREDIENTS

1 package boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, roughly 10 pieces total

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp paprika

2 cups quinoa

1 1/4 cups dry white wine

1- 14 oz. can diced tomatoes including juice

1 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth

3/4 tsp crumbled saffron threads

1 dried bay leaf

1 cup frozen peas (do not thaw)

1/2 pimiento-stuffed green olives, coarsely chopped

DIRECTIONS

Pat chicken breast tenders dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over moderately high heat and brown chicken, about 4 minutes per side and transfer to a plate. Don’t worry about the chicken being done, it will finish cooking later.

Add onion, bell pepper and salt to the pan. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, paprika and quinoa and stir for one minute. Add wine and boil about 2 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Stir in tomatoes with juice, chicken broth, saffron and bay leaf. Add the chicken back to the skillet with any juices from the plate. Cook, covered, over low heat until chicken is cooked through and quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in olives and peas (the peas will thaw the second they hit the hot pan, which is why you don’t need to thaw them ahead of time). Discard bay leaf and serve.

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ORANGES WITH SPICED WINE SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

1 750-ml bottle dry red wine

1 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar

1 cinnamon stick, broken in half

8 oranges

3 tbsp chopped fresh mint

whipped cream

DIRECTIONS

Bring wine, 1 cup sugar and cinnamon stick to a boil in a large saucepan. Boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 18 minutes. Remove sauce from pan and cool completely. Finely grate the peel of two oranges. Mix zest with 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bow and set aside. Peel all eight oranges and cut between the membranes to release the segments into a large bowl. Divide the oranges among 8 bowls. Drizzle the wine sauce and divide the mint leaves. Top with whipped cream, then sugared orange zest.

Best Ever Granola

When it comes to granola, I must admit, I’m a bit of a snob. Most store bought granolas are either too sweet, too caloric, or too full of things other than oats (i.e. chocolate chunks, too much dried fruit, too many nuts). It blows my mind to read nutrition labels on store bought granola, only to discover they can contain up to 140 calories per 1/4 cup serving! I thought granola was supposed to be a healthy snack or breakfast. That’s why I created my own granola recipe, so I know exactly what’s going into it. It has the perfect balance of salty and sweet, with just the right ratio of dried fruit to nuts to oats. I’m planning on adding variations to this base recipe as the seasons change, but here is the original.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups quick cooking oatmeal

1/4 cup chopped pistachios

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup craisins

2 tbs agave nectar

2 tbs honey

2 tbs canola oil

2 tsp brown sugar

a dash or two of cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

Preheat over to 325 degrees fahrenheit. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the agave, honey, oil, brown sugar and cinnamon and stir until well incorporated. Pour mixture onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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See! Easy as that. Compared to store bought granolas, my recipe only has 122 calories in 1/3 of a cup! This is the perfect amount for a nice yogurt parfait (see below). I like to add fresh fruit to greek yogurt and granola for a well-rounded and hearty breakfast or snack. I promise, after making this recipe, you’ll never buy granola at the grocery store again.

Mangoes and strawberries make the perfect summer yogurt parfait

Mangoes and strawberries make the perfect summer yogurt parfait

Sunday Afternoon Tea at Sisters Tearoom

I know it has been months since I last blogged, but now as a funemployed college graduate- yes, I said funemployed- I finally have some time on my hands. After an exciting annual trip to Blossom Music Center for my all-time favorite concert, Dave Matthews Band, last night, I woke up this morning in desperate need of some sustenance. I spent the afternoon with my mom at Sisters Tearoom in Mentor, Ohio, and let me tell you, my stomach- and my soul- is very satisfied.

After having years of catering experience, two sisters, Julia and Teresa, wanted to try their luck with a tearoom. They’ve been in business since March 2013, and they’ll be glad to tell you business is booming.

The house itself is the epitome of cute. Each of the three dining rooms is full of tables with mismatched teacups, saucers, water glasses and table cloths, not to mention antique artwork, old family photos and little trinkets that you would never be able to buy anymore. Hues of pink and green align the wallpaper and drapery, and like I said, none of the place settings match with each other, which I love.

The "Dining Room"

The “Dining Room”

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Mismatched!

Although there is a full a la carte menu, my mom and I went the traditional route and had the afternoon tea menu, which included one scone, four tea sandwiches, four mini desserts and a pot of tea each, for only $15! There is also a high tea menu which includes soup and salad, but I couldn’t fathom the thought of any more food than we were given.

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All of the food came out together on traditional stacked tea plates. Up top were the scones- soft and warm, clearly fresh out of the oven, served with homemade lemon curd and clotted cream. The flavor of the day was lemon poppy seed, which paired perfectly with the tart yet sweet curd. On bottom were our tea sandwiches. We chose four sandwiches each out of six, and ironically, my mom and I chose the same four (I guess the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree). I had an open faced cucumber sandwich with green goddess cream cheese and dill, a mild curried chicken salad with grapes on a croissant, a roast beef sandwich with horseradish mayo on a cheese roll and an open faced egg salad sandwich on a piece of bread cut out in the shape of a star. Each sandwich was flavorful, properly dressed and delicious. I think my favorite was the curried chicken salad sandwich, not only because I love curry so much but because the combination of savory curry with sweet red grapes on a buttery croissant was just divine. It was also the biggest sandwich, which is never a bad thing.

For dessert we had a selection of light as air chocolate cake with a chocolate sauce drizzled over the top, sweet  pineapple upside down cake- maraschino cherry and all, a dense and delicious coconut macaroon, and, my personal favorite, a lemon-lavender cake with the perfect flavor balance between the two star ingredients. Sometimes lavender desserts can be a bit overpowering, but this cake was perfection.

And you can’t have afternoon tea without a pot of piping hot tea, now can you? With a selection of over a dozen teas, I went with a maple blackberry tea. It had just the right amount of fruity and sweet notes, and since I like my tea extra sweet, I was delighted to see the sugar cubes were actually shaped into little teapots and cups! I told you this place screams adorable.

Altogether my mom and I had an excellent experience at Sisters Tearoom, and I can only hope my funemployment streak goes on long enough that I will have a chance to return!

Sisters Tearoom
8595 Mentor Ave.
Mentor, OH 44060
(440) 290-6556