Saturday, July 30, 2016

Bittersweet Brownie Drops

These cookies have a super-intense chocolate flavor -- definitely an adult chocolate cookie packed with both melted bittersweet chocolate and chocolate chips.  My mom and I made them for a picnic on the Boston Harbor Islands, and they were so tasty (even if they got a little smushed in our pack).  They're really delicious on their own, and in my opinion even better crumbled up over ice cream! 

Bittersweet Brownie Drops (adapted from Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts)
Makes about 30 cookies

4 T butter, cut into chunks
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Scant 1 cup (6.5 ounces) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup plus 1 T flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line baking sheets with foil or parchment.
2. Melt butter and chocolate together.  Stir in sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Beat in each egg one at a time, stirring well until incorporated.
3. Whisk together the flour and baking soda in a separate bowl, and then stir into the chocolate mixture.  Stir vigorously until the batter is smooth, glossy, and comes away from the side of the bowl.
4. Make sure the batter is cool, and then stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
5. Scoop rounded tablespoons of batter onto the lined cookie sheets.  Bake 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and crackled on the surface, but slightly soft to the touch.
6. Cool on wire racks, and then store in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pork Cutlets with Cantaloupe Salad

I've really been feeling melon this summer, and this cantaloupe-focused dish is a really interesting way to enjoy it.  Pork cutlets are marinated in grated cantaloupe and lime juice, which makes them extra tender and flavorful.  And the salad on top really makes this dish special. I did find that at least with my melon, a julienne peeler was useless for making thin strips of cantaloupe -- it just turned it into mush.  If that's the case for you as well, just thinly slice the melon to get nice thin strips.  The cantaloupe is tossed with fresh herbs, fish sauce, and spicy jalapeno -- I would never have thought of this combination but it really works! Yum.

Pork Cutlets with Cantaloupe Salad (adapted from Bon Appetit)
Serves 3

For the pork:
1 cup grated cantaloupe
2 T fresh lime juice
2 T olive oil
Generous pinch of salt
Several grinds of black pepper
6 thinly sliced pork cutlets

For the salad:
2 cups thinly sliced cantaloupe
3 thinly sliced scallions
1/4 cup fresh mint, minced
1/2 jalapeno, minced
2 T fish sauce
2 T fresh lime juice
A handful of coarsely chopped peanuts

1. Combine the grated cantaloupe, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl.  Prick the pork all over with a fork, and then add to the bowl.  Marinate about 1 hour.  
2. Meanwhile, make the salad. Combine all the ingredients except the peanuts in a container, mix well, and stash in the fridge until ready to serve.
3. Remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry.  Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add oil, and once it's hot, add the pork.  Cook for just a couple of minutes on each side.
4. Serve the pork topped with the cantaloupe salad and chopped peanuts.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Day-Glow Honeydew Agua Fresca

If you're also melting from the current heatwave, let me suggest this fantastic fruity drink.  It's super easy -- just puree honeydew melon with a little sugar, water, and lemon juice, and then strain out the solids (if you like a smoother drink).  Chill and drink in large quantities!  It's so refreshing, and I won't tell if you add a little something stronger (psst...pisco is really tasty!)  Plus -- the color is amazing!

Day-Glow Honeydew Agua Fresca

4-1/2 cups chopped honeydew melon
3 cups water (approximate)
1 T sugar (preferably superfine, but regular is fine too) 
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine the melon with 1-1/2 cups water, the sugar, and the lemon juice, and puree until smooth. Add it about a cup of the additional water, then taste and add more water, sugar, and/or lemon juice to taste.  Chill well, and then serve over ice.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumber and Avocado

I made this recently when my parents came to visit me, and then again for another group of guests -- it's easily doubled or tripled for a big group.  It makes a great summer meal because it's fast to prepare and won't weigh you down.  The sauce is super delicious, and you can basically add whatever green veggies you like here.  Definitely don't skip the fresh herbs -- we used mint, but I think parsley or cilantro would be delicious too.  

The one trick to this recipe is that you need a julienne peeler or something similar to make long thing "noodles" out of the cucumber -- although you could do cubed cucumber, I think having the shape match the soba noodles really makes this dish more fun.  Luckily you can get one of these peelers very cheaply on Amazon -- I have this one that is currently under $10.  If you don't have a cucumber on hand, I think julienned carrots or zucchini would also be tasty!

Sesame Soba Noodles with Cucumber and Avocado (adapted from Sprouted Kitchen, original recipe here)
Serves 4 as a light meal

For the sauce:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1-1/2 T low sodium soy sauce
1 heaping T peanut butter (creamy or crunchy, your choice!)
1 T toasted sesame oil
1 T sesame seeds
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp grated ginger
3 scallions, minced

To serve:
6-8 ounces soba noodles
1 cup frozen edamame
1 large English cucumber, cut using a julienne peeler
1 avocado, cubed
A few fresh mint leaves, for garnish

1. Whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a serving bowl and set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the soba noodles according to package instructions.  In the last minute of cooking, add the frozen edamame to the pot.  Drain well and rinse with cold water until the noodles and edamame are cool.
3. Add the noodles and edamame to the sauce, with the cucumber and avocado.  Toss everything together until well combined.  Divide among serving bowls and garnish with a few mint leaves.