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Archive for the ‘Fine Cooking’ Category

Blackberry-Mint Water

Posted by booksncooks on May 15, 2011

I’m loving that spring is finally here. I’ve been outside in the sun as much as possible after rain almost every day in April (or at least it felt like almost every day!). While I’m not training for the Susan G Komen walk this year, I’ve still kept up my good habits, walking 2-3 times a week outside instead of being cooped up in the gym. I love that there are more fresh fruits and veggies available, particularly the recent arrival of summer berries. When this month’s issue of Fine Cooking arrived featuring a Blackberry-Sage water, I knew that I would be making it for the weekend’s BBQ with friends.

The water is not what one would expect. The color was vibrant purple, instead of just slightly colored. The water isn’t super-sweet, more minty than anything, but incredibly refreshing. This drink is a staple that I’ll be keeping around the house and adapting throughout the summer.

Blackberry-Mint Water

Adapted from Ellie Krieger in Fine Cooking No. 111 (p. 37)

Yields 1 pitcher


  • 6 oz. blackberries
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 15+ mint leaves*
  • 1 c. boiling water
  • 7 c. cold water, divided

* May substitute sage leaves in place of mint

With a mortar and pestle, crush mint and sugar to release juices and flavor in mint leaves. Pour boiling water over mint and sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved.

In a food processor or blender, puree blackberries with 2 c. cold water.

With a strainer set over a large bowl or serving pitcher, strain sugar-mint water and blackberry water into pitcher, stirring and pressing solids to release remaining juices. Top with 5 c. water.

Chill & serve.

Posted in Drinks, Fine Cooking | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Gorgonzola & Pecans

Posted by booksncooks on February 28, 2011

First impressions about Brussels sprouts…. and go….

Let me guess. First thought is “ew.” Followed by something like, “who eats that?” I used to think the same. When we were little my mom would steam them, stinking up the kitchen. My youngest brother was the only one of us fooled into eating the “baby trees” (no, wait, that was broccoli…. well, it was something like that).

Anyway, then one day, when I was in high school or college, my mom roasted the Brussels sprouts until they were crispy. The veggies were non-stinky, so I gave them a whirl. I was officially a convert. Roast ’em and you’ll get a slightly sweet taste and crunchy texture. Throw on some salt and maybe some bacon, and it quickly became one of my favorite sides, and the only way I’d eat Brussels sprouts.

Then this recipe came long. The Brussels sprouts were cooked pretty much the same – sliced instead of halved but roasted until crispy. Tossed with pasta, pecans, and a very light Gorgonzola-cream sauce, this recipe is sure to win over Brussels sprout-haters. Give it a try. Even a doubtful coworker cleaned his plate.

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Gorgonzola & Pecans

Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 102 (p. 107)

Serves 4-6


  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground back pepper
  • 4 c. (20 oz.) Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 3 1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. dried pasta, such as shells or orecchiette
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c. coarsely chopped pecans
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1 c. Gorgonzola, crumbled

Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Place a heavy rimmed baking sheet on the rack and heat the oven to 500°F. You want the baking sheet hot before you roast the Brussels sprouts.

Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and a bit of salt, for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Prepare the Brussels Sprouts: In a food processor fitted with the slicing disk, slice the Brussels sprouts. When the baking sheet is heated, remove from oven. Place Brussels sprouts on baking sheet, and use a large spoon to toss with olive oil, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper, until Brussels sprouts are coated. (You can also toss the Brussels sprouts, oil, salt, and pepper, in a large bowl, and then spread on the baking sheet, if you prefer.) Make sure Brussels sprouts are spread out in a single layer before roasting, until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes (stirring halfway through).

Cook the Pasta: As Brussels sprouts are roasting, cook pasta according to the box, draining once cooked.

Make the Sauce: In a skillet over medium heat, melt 1/2 Tbs. butter. Add pecans, cooking until pecans are toasted and butter is browned, about 3 minutes. Be sure to stir frequently. With a slotted spoon, remove pecans and place on a plate. In the same skillet, melt the remaining butter. Cook shallots until softened, another 3 minutes, still stirring frequently. Add cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, and add 3/4 c. Gorgonzola, stirring until melted.

Put it Together: In a serving bowl, toss pasta, pecans, Brussels sprouts, and Gorgonzola-cream sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 c. Gorgonzola. Serve warm.

Posted in Fine Cooking, Pastas, Vegetarian, Veggies | 2 Comments »

Cherry/Cranberry & Walnut Scones

Posted by booksncooks on February 5, 2011

This scone recipe is one of the recipes my mom and I always fall back on, particularly when we have overnight guests. Last time I made them, I was at my parent’s house. It was a little breakfast treat for my dad, as well as for the guests that were trickling in and out of my parent’s house during Thanksgiving week. I even pulled out some of Mom’s pretty antique china for the photo (the morning coffee didn’t make the cut for the photo). Anyway, these scones are quick and easy to make and always come out just wonderfully. I usually use dried cherries or cranberries, but you can substitute any dried berry you’d like. The scones will keep for at least a week, if they last that long!

Dried Cherry/Cranberry & Walnut Scones

Adapted from Sour Cherry & Walnut Scones,

Fine Cooking No. 68 (p. 22)

Makes 8-12 Scones


  • 1/4 c. plus 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. cake flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 c. dried cranberries, tart cherries, or other dried fruit
  • 1/2 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the 3 Tbs. sugar with the cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and orange zest. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into dry mixture, until butter lumps are no larger than peas. Stir in cherries/cranberries and walnuts. Add buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon (or your hands) until dry flour is no longer visible. The dough will be very wet and sticky.

Flour work surface and turn dough out onto floured surface. Pat into a 1-inch thick round. Cut into 8-12 wedges (I like 12 scones). Using a large, thin cookie spatula, transfer to baking sheet, 1-2 inches apart. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake 18-20 minutes, until the bottom and edges of the scones are lightly browned. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Posted in Breakfast, Fine Cooking | 2 Comments »

Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Bacon, Onions & Peas

Posted by booksncooks on November 7, 2010

Apologies but no story today – I’m in the midst of some traveling (hence why there hasn’t been a post in over a week) and am running about. This gnocchi will most definitely be on my menu when I return – it’s quick yet satisfying. Even the hubby likes it despite not having lots of meat in it. 🙂

Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Bacon, Onions & Peas

Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 85 (p. 84a)

Serves 3


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. frozen gnocchi
  • 3 oz. thick-cut bacon (about 3 slices), cut into 1/2-inch-wide pieces
  • 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 c. thinly sliced or diced yellow onions (about 1 medium-small onion)
  • 1/2 c. frozen peas
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; more for serving

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook the gnocchi according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and drain.

Meanwhile, in a large (preferably 12-inch) non-stick skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside. Pour off any fat from the skillet.

In the same skillet, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are limp and golden brown, 10 minutes more. Stir in the peas and thyme, season with salt and pepper to taste, and transfer to a small bowl.

Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel, and heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat. Add the gnocchi and cook, tossing occasionally, until they’re lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Gently stir in the onion mixture, bacon, and Parmigiano, along with enough of the reserved cooking water to moisten and coat the gnocchi, about 4 Tbs. Serve immediately, sprinkled with additional Parmigiano.

Posted in Fine Cooking, Pastas | Leave a Comment »

Acorn Squash with Rosemary and Brown Sugar

Posted by booksncooks on October 18, 2010

This year was the first time I’ve participated in a CSA (community supported agriculture). I love that I’m supporting local farmers and providing them with a reliable source of income. However, I do have mixed feelings on the program. I love the CSA I belong to – I love the variety of fruits and veggies I get, and the quality. However, I don’t like not knowing what I’m going to get each Tuesday. It makes it hard for me to plan, since I do so much planning and cooking on the weekends.

That being said, getting some unexpected surprises has helped me broaden my horizons and test out new recipes. For instance, I’ve mostly only had butternut squash, although I’ve had acorn squash a few times. Every time, I prepare it in the same way – halved, scoop out the middle, and roast it with butter and brown sugar in the middle. This recipe is close, but the rosemary and white wine add a lighter flavor (as opposed to pure butter and sugar). An added bonus? My squash-adverse hubby actually liked this recipe. One more point for Fine Cooking.


Acorn Squash with Rosemary & Brown Sugar

Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 107 (p. 24)

Serves 4


  • 1-2 lb. acorn squash (unpeeled), halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 3 Tbs. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary (be sure to use fresh – dried rosemary isn’t nearly as good!)
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Wash the squash and cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds and then slice the squash along each ridge, so that the squash is in wedges.

Heat a 11-12 in. sauté pan over medium heat. Add butter and oil. When melted, add squash, arranging in a single layer. Cook until all sides are golden-brown, flipping as needed, about 10 minutes total.

Add wine to pan, scraping bottom to get up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle brown sugar, rosemary, lemon juice, salt, and pepper over squash.

Cover and lower heat. Summer until squash is almost tender, about 10 minutes.

Raise heat and cook for another 5 minutes. Sauce will thicken and squash will be tender. Season with more salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot.

Posted in Fine Cooking, Sides, Veggies | Leave a Comment »

Roasted Potato Salad

Posted by booksncooks on September 2, 2010

This Roasted Potato Salad is another favorite of mine for summer cookouts. Not only does it stand up well to the heat, but it showcases summer vegetables very well. I also love that it is an easy recipe to adjust to taste. As you can tell from the photo, I skipped the tomatoes this time around, but added in extra bell peppers and corn. The one thing I don’t normally change about this recipe is the basil (I love basil!), but feel free to use the herb of your choice.

If you experiment and come up with new combinations that you love, please share!

Roasted Potato Salad with Bell Peppers, Corn & Tomatoes

Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 80 (p. 50)

Serves 6


  • 2 lb. small red-skinned potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup + 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt & black pepper
  • 2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 ear of corn in husk, or 1 can of corn (drained)
  • 1 1/2 bell peppers, any color or color combination, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 c. chopped fresh basil
  • 3 Tbs. red-wine vinegar

Roast the Potatoes: Preheat oven to 450F. Place potatoes in a single layer on a heavy-rimmed baking sheet. Toss with 3 Tbs. olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Make sure potatoes are coated. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are slightly browned and tender when pierced by a fork. Set aside to cool.

Put Together Salad: Toss roasted potatoes, peppers, onion, tomato,basil,  and corn (is using an ear of corn, remove husk, rub with 1 tsp olive oil, and roast for 20 minutes, rotating once, until kernels are lightly browned)  in a large bowl.

Just prior to serving, whisk remaining 1/4 c. olive oil and red-wine vinegar. Then you have one of two options:

  1. Drizzle on salad. Season with salt, pepper, and if desired, more basil. Serve immediately.
  2. Or, set olive oil mixture on the side and allow people to drizzle their serving separately. This is best for BBQs or dinners where the salad might sit out for a while.

Posted in Fine Cooking, Sides | Leave a Comment »

Asian Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

Posted by booksncooks on August 26, 2010

I love peanut butter – peanut butter cookies, peanut butter sandwiches (no jelly of course!), pb & toast for breakfast… Ooo, and remember Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream? Vanilla with chocolate covered peanut butter stuffed pretzels? … I don’t know if I’ve ever met a peanut butter food I didn’t love.

This grilled pork tenderloin has been on my to-try list for quite a while, and the hubby and I quite enjoyed it. The peanut butter marinade / sauce was very good, although next time, I’d probably add the coconut milk a little at a time, tasting as I go. I found the sauce a bit sweet (although the hubby didn’t complain!), and I would probably add in a little less coconut milk than required.

Asian Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut  Sauce

Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 86 (p. 78a)

Serves 4-5


  • 1 c. light coconut milk
  • 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter, preferably natural pb
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 3 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 3 Tbs. dark brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp (2 large cloves) garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 small pork tenderloins (2 lb. total)
  • vegetable oil for the grill

Prepare the Pork:

Trim fat from pork and butterfly the tenderloins (split each tenderloin lengthwise, but not all the way through – it should fold open like a book). Then pound out tenderloin with a meat mallet until about 1/2-inch thick. Thicker is fine, just takes longer to cook.

Make the Marinade:

Whisk all other ingredients together in a large bowl. (I’d recommend whisking in the coconut milk a little at a time, tasting as you go.) Mixture should be creamy and smooth. Add pork an marinade for 10-20 minutes, or for several hours in the fridge.

Grill the Pork & Prepare the Dipping Sauce:

Heat a gas grill to high. Lightly oil grates and add tenderloin, allowing excess marinade to drip back into the bowl. Grill until cooked through, flipping once, 5-7 minutes total. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, pour marinade into a small saucepan. Add 2 Tbs. water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a couple of minutes, adding water in 1 tsp. increments if the sauce seems too thick.

Serve pork with marinade/sauce.

Posted in Fine Cooking, Pork | Leave a Comment »

Honey Almond Granola

Posted by booksncooks on August 20, 2010

It’s been quite a while since I’ve gotten to spend any real time in the kitchen, reading, or at the computer. I’m hoping things will calm down in another week or so, as I’m almost finished with school and almost finished with fundraising for the Susan G Komen Walk for the Cure. However, I have managed to steal a few minutes for myself, both to write this post and make this quick easy breakfast.

I’m not a huge breakfast eater, but I do enjoy granola mixed with yogurt in the morning. Night and light but still filling. This granola recipe only takes a few minutes to prepare, and is cooked in less than 45 minutes. I hope you enjoy it!

Honey Almond Granola

Adapted from Fine Cooking, Weekend (p. 46)

Makes 8-10 cups


  • vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 4 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 c. oat bran
  • 2 c. whole almonds, chopped, or 2 c. slivered almonds
  • 3/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 c. honey
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 c. nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1 c. raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 and spray two rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, honey, vanilla, almond extract, milk powder, and salt (will be a “gloppy”). In a larger mixing bowl, combine oats, oat bran, and almonds. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture stirring until well combined.

Spread granola in an even layer between the two prepared baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, stir granola and then bake for another 10-20 minutes. Oats will be golden brown and almonds will look toasted.

Remove from oven (granola will become crispier as it cools) and allow to cool completely before adding the raisins or dried fruit. Store in an airtight container for 3 weeks.

Posted in Breakfast, Fine Cooking | 1 Comment »

Grilled Peach & Mozzarella Salad

Posted by booksncooks on July 22, 2010

Last week was pretty awful for me – everything that could go wrong did. Come Saturday night, all I wanted to do was sit back and relax while surrounded by good friends. I got exactly what I wanted – a night filled with wine, light and summery food (this Grilled Peach & Mozzarella Salad, Greek Panzanella, Herb-Grilled Chicken and Shrimp, and frozen turtle pie), and wonderful friends. Thanks to everyone that came over for dinner this past weekend – you were the perfect remedy for a terrible week!

Now, onto this Grilled Peach and Mozzarella Salad. Tossed lightly with olive oil, the sweet grilled peaches and the sweet balsamic glaze that gets drizzled on top are a wonderful contrast to the spicy bite of the arugula and the smooth mozzarella. (Note: I let everyone drizzle the syrup on their own salad, so glaze is not in photo above). This was a nice change from the usual salad that I throw together, and can’t wait for my next bag of peaches to make it again!

Grilled Peach & Mozzarella Salad

Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 106 (p. 19)

Serves 6 as a side


  • 3/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2+ firm-ripe peaches (12 oz. total), halved and pitted
  • 4-1/2 tsp. olive oil
  • 4 c. lightly packed baby arugula, spring green mix, spinach, or lettuce of choice
  • 1 ball buffalo mozzarella, cut into 3/4-inch chunks (about 1 cup)

Grill the Peaches: Heat the grill on medium heat, or, if you don’t own a grill, a grill pan on the stove. Rub halved peaches with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place peaches on grill cut-side down until grill marks appear on slices, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Slice into 1-inch chunks and set aside.

Make the Balsamic Glaze: In a small saucepan, bring balsamic vinegar and thyme to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vinegar is thick and syrupy, 6-9 minutes. You’ll have about 1/4 cup of glaze. Remove from heat, discard the thyme, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss the Salad: Just prior to serving, toss the greens with 2 tsp. of olive oil, the mozzarella and the peaches. Drizzle with balsamic glaze, or allow your guests to do glaze their own. Serve extra peaches and mozzarella in bowls on the side.

Posted in Fine Cooking, Salads | 2 Comments »

Raspberry Peach Cake

Posted by booksncooks on June 23, 2010

I’ve been dying to make this cake again since the summer fruit started appearing in the grocery store. Not as pretty as the photos in the magazine, but this cake is a light summer treat.

Raspberry Peach Cake

Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 80 (p. 68)

Serves 8-10

Ingredients for the Cake:

  • 1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour, more for the pan
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for the pan
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c. plain yogurt

Ingredients for the Topping:

  • 1/2 large, ripe peach, sliced very thinly (~ 1/16 an inch)
  • 3/4 c. fresh raspberries
  • 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour

Make the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Lightly butter a 9-inch round baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper (trace pan and cut out a circle). Butter the parchment paper and the sides of the pan. Gently sprinkle with flour, tapping out the excess.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Lower speed slightly and dd eggs, orange zest, and vanilla, beating until thoroughly combined.

Remove bowl from mixer and sift in baking powder, baking soda, salt, and half of the flour. Fold into butter/egg mixture. The fold in the yogurt. Sift in the remaining flour and fold into wet mixture. Pour into prepared baking pan, and bake for 15 minutes.

While baking, make the topping: Using a fork, combine all ingredients in a small bowl, so that the fruit is well coated.

After 15 minutes of baking… pull out the cake (still on the oven rack) and quickly add topping to cake. It will still be very wet and look soft, but should hold the fruit.

Continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife along edges of pan to loosen it, and then invert onto a plate. Peal away the parchment and flip cake right-side-up to cool completely.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Posted in Cakes, Desserts, Fine Cooking | Leave a Comment »