Friday, July 12, 2013

S'more Crispy Treats

It's prime time for camping and other outdoor shenanigans. You can actually watch the beautiful night sky, relax in the sun, hike to new places. And it's kinda awesome to escape from the city for a few days.

Camping season also gives you an excuse to channel your inner 12-year-old and enjoy a sweet, chocolatey s'more. But they're not the most graceful dessert to put together. 

The last time we went camping, half of our graham crackers crumbled on our trip out to the sight and I burned just about all of the damn marshmallows. So, I played with an idea to make life a little easier and bring these tasty treats out of the "campfire needed" category. 

Now you can bang these out whenever this odd craving creeps up. Because it's a little weird to try and toast a marshmallow over a candle in your kitchen (not that I've ever tried that or anything . . .). 

  • 1 (16 oz.) box Golden Grahams cereal
  • 1 (10 oz.) miniature marshmallows
  • 5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the marshmallows and stir until the mixture is completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
  3. Immediately add the Golden Grahams in two batches, stirring carefully to evenly coat the cereal with the marshmallow creme but not crush the grahams.
  4. Mix in the chilled chocolate chips, then pour the mixture into a 9x13 baking dish lined with parchment paper.
  5. Press the cereal into the pan with your fingers. Allow the bars to cool and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  6. Cut into squares and enjoy.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese

Although most people think of roasting root vegetables in the fall, I LOVE a good summer beet salad. And roasted beets are my favorite. Tender, sweet, flavorful. So, once the local beets start popping up in June and July, I turn up the oven (and turn down the AC).

This simple salad brings together all sorts of goodness: the sweetness of the beets, the creaminess of the goat cheese, the peppery arugula, the crunch of the walnuts, and the brightness of the lemon vinaigrette. It actually IS a wonderful summer salad. Start roasting.

  • 2 large or 4 medium beets (mix sizes and varieties for additional color and flavor)
  • 4 cups arugula, washed and dried
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Wash and dry beets. Trim the tops and roots with a knife.
  3. Lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Wrap each individual beet in aluminum foil.
  4. Place on a baking sheet in the oven and cook, undisturbed, until tender (about 60 to 90 minutes, depending on size).
  5. Once cool, peel the beets by simply rubbing the skin off. Thinly slice or cut into chunks.
  6. Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant.
  7. In a large bowl, combine the arugula, sliced beets, toasted walnuts, and crumbled goat cheese.
  8. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the juice of one lemon, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Taste to adjust the seasonings.
  9. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lavender Blackberry Scones

Last weekend, my friend Nicole and I escaped the city for a little rural Virginia fun. We spent the morning picking lavender at a little farm south of DC (emphasis on little). We soaked in the beautiful weather, dodged bees (and a heard of other pickers), and basked in the gloriously fragrant field. It was a strange, but a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning.
The English lavenders, which we harvested, have a sweeter fragrance and are great for cooking. It adds a floral  sometimes peppery note  to dishes, making it great for both savory and sweet recipes. To use culinary lavender fresh, pick it when most of the buds are still partly closed. Thoroughly rinse the blooms by immersing them in water to remove any insects or soil. Lay the flowers gently on paper or cloth towels and dab dry. Remove the lavender buds and blooms from the stems by rubbing your fingers from the base of the stem to the top removing the flowers as you go.

(To dry lavender for culinary use, snip the stems off the plant just after the flowers. Hang the stems upside down  in a warm, dark, dry spot. Let them dry for at least a week, or longer depending on the humidity in your area. Once dried, remove the buds and store in an airtight container in a dark, dry place for up to a year.) 
If for some reason you don't have a random lavender farm in your area, don't fret. Many stores sell dried lavender in their spice sections. Just look around. And remember that dried lavender will be more strongly flavored than fresh lavender. So if you are substituting dried lavender for fresh, you may want to use one third to one half the amount of dried lavender in your recipes.
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lavender (1 tablespoon dried)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries
Lemon Curd
  • 2 lemons
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • pinch of salt

  1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, lavender, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  
  4. Cut in butter (using your fingers or a pastry cutter) until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Work the butter into the dry ingredients until some of the butter flakes are the size of peas and some are the size of oat flakes.    
  5. In another bowl, combine egg and buttermilk and beat lightly with a fork.  
  6. Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring enough to make a soft dough.  
  7. Fold in the blackberries.
  8. Turn out onto a floured board and knead about 15 times.  
  9. Roll or pat out into a 1-inch thickness. 
  10. Cut into 2-inch rounds using a round cutter or cut into 2×2-inch squares. Reshape and roll dough to create more scones with excess scraps.    
  11. Place on the ungreased baking sheet.
  12. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm with lemon curd.
* This recipe is adapted from Joy the Baker.

Lemon Curd
  1. Zest the 2 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith.
  2. Juice the lemons (should yield approximately 1/4 cup). Set aside.
  3. Using a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse the sugar and zest together until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.
  4. In a large bowl, cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. 
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.
  6. Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. 
  7. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. 
  8. Remove from the heat and cool. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days.
* This recipe is adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Cream

This classic dish requires only a few basic ingredients, but really packs in some great flavors. This meal can be dressed up or down and is great for most occasions, whether it's a Tuesday night or an Engagement Party, like it was for this particular event.

The meat is briefly seared to add color and flavor, then finished off in the oven. The bold flavor of the horseradish and the brightness of the lemon balance out the creaminess of the sauce, complementing the beef. A nice indulgence, from time to time.

  • 1 1/2 lb. beef tenderloin, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Horseradish Cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

  1. Season the beef with salt and pepper, then cover with plastic wrap.
  2. Allow the meat to come to room temperature.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
  5. Sear the beef in the skillet until it is browned on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  6. Transfer the skillet to the 425 degree oven.
  7. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest end reads 125 degrees, about 10 minutes.
  8. Let meat rest on a cutting board for 30 minutes. 
  9. Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, horseradish, and lemon juice in a small bowl. 
  10. Thinly slice beef and serve with sauce.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Virginia Ham & Provolone Sammies

If you've ever been on Pinterest, you have probably already seen this recipe . . . and probably didn't pay much attention to it, like me. But, after I tried them at a party, I'm a convert. And, again, they are easy to throw together and great to have for just about any spread.

It's the comfort of a ham and cheese sandwich, but with a kick. The seemingly odd flavor combinations come together to make something special. Tangy, savory, a little sweet.

  • 1 package of 12 Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/4 lb. unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1/2 lb. shaved Virginia ham
  • 8 slices provolone cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small skillet, melt the butter.
  3. Add the onions and sauté for 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and poppy seeds into the mixture. Simmer for 5 minutes on medium-low heat. 
  5. As a group, slice the rolls lengthwise and place bottoms on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  6. Spread half of the butter mixture over the roll bottoms, followed by the ham and cheese slices.
  7. Top with the other half of the rolls.
  8. Spread the remaining butter mixture over the top of the rolls.
  9. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate until ready to bake.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until the rolls brown and the cheese melts.
* This recipe is adapted from the Beyer Beware website.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Herbed Mushroom Tartlets

These tasty bites are simply and savory. They are a great addition to a buffet or brunch spread.


  • 3 pints mushrooms (creminis, oysters, porcinis, portobellos, shiitakes), cleaned and chopped
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 packages of frozen mini phyllo tart shells

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Heat the butter over medium heat in a large skillet.
  3. When the butter has melted, add the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic and sauté until tender. As the vegetables soften, sprinkle in the salt, pepper, and thyme. Once tender, let the mixture stand until cool.
  4. In a large bowl, fold the mushroom mixture into the cream cheese and stir until thoroughly combined.
  5. Spoon one tablespoon of the filling into each frozen mini phyllo tart shells and arrange them evenly on a large baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15-18 minutes.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mustard Marinated Shrimp

Forget shrimp cocktail. Try this spicy and tangy mustard marinade for your next dinner party. Sarah P. introduced me to this recipe and it's a staple at most Mott-family events now.

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • 2 1/2 lbs medium Gulf shrimp, cooked and peeled

  1. Blend the the vinegars, black pepper, dry mustard, red pepper flakes, and salt in a food processor on low speed for a few seconds.
  2. Slowly add in the oils, continuing to blend until the mixture thickens slightly.
  3. Add the parsley, garlic, green onions, and capers, pulse to combine.
  4. In a large boil, pour the marinade over the shrimp and coat thoroughly.
  5. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.
  6. Drain the marinade from the shrimp and serve chilled.