Key Lime & Coconut

My adventures in the world of food & wine

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fast Easy Fresh

This warm weather we've been having in Cambridge is really perking up my spirits. You honestly can't appreciate spring until you've survived a Boston winter. I've survived 5 now, so let me just say that the first days of spring are like manna from heaven. Over the weekend I celebrated the warmth by grilling up some yummy burgers, which I always associate with summer cookouts. Tonight I went with a fast, easy, fresh-tasting pasta dish perfect for spring, from a recent Bon Appetit. I need to enjoy this weather while I can - it'll be back in the 40's later this week. That's Boston weather for ya.

Linguine with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Basil
Serves 2
  • 8 oz. linguine (I used fresh black pepper linguine from my local grocer)
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 T butter
  • 12 uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 12 slender asparagus, trimmed, cut diagonally into 1-1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 lemon wedges
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add wine and butter; boil 2 minutes. Add shrimp, asparagus, and lemon juice. Toss until asparagus is just tender and shrimp are just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Drain pasta and add to skillet; add 2 cups sliced basil leaves and toss until basil wilts and sauce coats pasta, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta between 2 plates. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and lemon wedges and serve.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

The Boston (Junk Food) Marathon

Today thousands of people accomplished the impressive athletic feat of running the 26.2 miles of the world-famous Boston Marathon. Today I baked cookies. I don't feel too bad about this because I got my own exercise this afternoon in the form of Carmen Electra's Aerobic Striptease Vol. 2: Fit to Strip. I was gonna go to the gym and do some running myself, but I have blisters on my feet from the evil, evil shoes I wore out on Saturday. Anyway, I digress. These cookies are really good.

Dark and White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Recipe from March 2007 Bon Appetit
Makes 2 dozen
  • 2-2/3 c. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. chopped crystallized ginger
  • 3-1/2 oz. high-quality white chocolate, very coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (or grease). Stir 2 cups chocolate chips with butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth; cool 10 minutes. Beat eggs and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in melted chocolate mixture and vanilla, then flour. Stir in ginger and remaining 2/3 cup chocolate chips; let stand 10 minutes. Drop cookie dough by rounded spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies 1-1/2 to 2 inches apart. Press white chocolate pieces into top of cookies, dividing equally. Bake until cookies look puffed and slightly dry on top, about 13 minutes. Cool on sheets.

Ok, I feel like a total cow doing this cookie post immediately after the cinnamon roll post. Let me prove to you, faithful readers, that I actually ate something nutritious for dinner:

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Warm Gooey Goodness

Tonight I got one of those sudden inexplicable urges to bake something, so after a quick straw poll (okay, I only asked one person) I settled on some homemade cinnamon rolls. I planned it so that they'd be out of the oven just in time for a warm, gooey midnight snack. Healthy no, indulgent yes, delicious double-yes.

These cinnamon rolls remind me of ones that my mom used to make when I was little. She didn't make the dough from scratch, she used that Pillsbury dough that comes in the tube that pops open when you twist it, but they taste almost exactly the same. And hers probably took a lot less time (and made a lot less mess - as usual, I managed to make flour explode out of my food processor and coat every surface of my kitchen). Ah well, c'est la vie. Regardless, these babies are yum, and my school friends can look forward to getting one or a couple when I see you in the next couple days. :)

Cinnamon Rolls
Recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything
Makes a dozen
  • 2-1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1-1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. plus 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. plus about another 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. milk, plus more as needed
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 c. raisins and/or nuts, if desired
Combine the flour, yeast, salt, and 1/3 c. sugar in the container of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process for 5 seconds. Add the 2 tablespoons butter and the egg and pulse a few times, until well combined. With the machine running, drizzle most of the milk through the feed tube. Process just until a dough ball forms; add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, if necessary. Knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for a minute or two longer, adding a little more flour or milk if necessary, until the dough is silky smooth and elastic.

Butter a bowl; place the dough in it. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, at least 2 hours. (Hasten the process by putting it in a warm place.) Roll out the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Brush liberally with the 4 tablespoons butter (melted), then spread with a mixture of the 1/2 cup of sugar and the cinnamon. If you like, dot it with about 3/4 cup raisins or nuts (I didn't). Roll it up, lengthwise, then cut into 1- to 1-1/2-inch thick slices. Place in a buttered 12-compartment muffin tin and let rise until puffy, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Brush the tops of the rolls lightly with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until nicely browned, about 20 minutes.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Crunch Time

It's been a while since I've updated, mostly due to my 10-day absence during spring break at the end of March. (It was lovely - I spent a weekend in New York City with my best friend from high school and then the rest of the time lounging on the beach in southwest Florida with some college friends.) Since getting back, I've been trying to eat healthier, since I always tend to binge on vacations. Over the last week I've made a lot of very simple, not-quite-blog-worthy meals: marinated and grilled chicken, steamed vegetables, fresh fruit, and the like.

Last night I stuck to my healthy theme but got a bit more elaborate. My friend Chris
came over to watch a movie and we decided to make big, beautiful salads. The results were so pretty that I had to take a picture and post the recipe, which I adapted from one by Rachael Ray (yes, again).

Incredible Crunchy Salad
Serves 3-4
  • Coarse salt
  • 3/4-c. long grain rice
  • 1 green apple, peeled, quartered, cored, and finely diced
  • 1 small red or green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1/4 medium red onion, minced
  • 6 radishes, finely chopped
  • 2 T plus about 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Coarse black pepper
  • 1/4-c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small package croutons or crostini
  • 2 packages pre-washed lettuce mix (pick your favorite)
  • 1-lb. chicken cutlets
Heat 1-1/3 cups water in a small pot. When it comes to a boil, salt it and add the rice. Cover and reduce to a simmer and cook the rice for about 18 minutes or until just tender, with a bite remaining. Remove the lid and fluff the rice, then spread it on a cookie sheet to quick-cool.

While the rice cooks, combine the apples, bell peppers, onions, and radishes in a small bowl, adding them to it as you chop. Dress them with about 2 tablespoons of the fresh lemon juice and lightly toss the crunchy mixture with your fingertips.

In a bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, the white wine vinegar, the chopped garlic, mustard, and some salt and pepper. Add the olive oil gradually as you whisk.

Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper and saute or grill over medium-high heat (I used a stove-top grill pan). While they cook, crunch two big handfuls of the croutons/crostini into small pieces. When the chicken is done, slice it into half-inch-thick slices crosswise.

Arrange the lettuces on plates. Scatter the cool rice across the salad, layer on the crunchy apple/pepper/onion/radish mixture and the croutons/crostini, and arrange the chicken slices on top. Drizzle the dressing in a slow, even stream all over the salad.

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