Roasted Vegetable Couscous with Chickpeas and Onion-Pine Nut Topping

From January 2009 Cooking Light.  Recipe here.

Another Girl-friendly vegetarian meal.  I clipped this one out of Cooking Light magazine about a year ago and the kids plucked it from my recipes files at last week’s “family meeting/menu planning session.”  I was worried that they were just tired and eager to get the meeting over with and weren’t being too careful about their choices.  I was worried that I would spend an hour cooking it and they wouldn’t like it.  Hubby doesn’t like raisins.  Boy isn’t wild about large amounts of onins and Girl isn’t a fan of too-exotic spices.  But…my fears were unfounded.  They all liked this and it also proved to be much quicker and easier than the recipe, at first glance, would seem.  After cooking this, I read some of the reviews of the recipe on Cooking Light’s website (Duh!  I should be doing that FIRST, right?) and I agree with most of what’s written there, namely:

Don’t skip the onion topping.  In fact, consider making extra.  It adds a TON of flavor.

Add a bit more ras el hanout spice to the veggies before roasting. (FYI – if you have a hard time finding Ras el Hanout, try CostPlus World Market.  It is possible to make your own, but most recipes call for some pretty exotic ingredients that you’re not likely to use for anything else…best, in my opinion, to buy it, if possible.)

I highly recommend this recipe and I suspect that it’s one that will hold its own as leftovers (probably will even freeze well, although I’m going to test that theory, as I made a larger-than-called-for batch and we have quite a bit left over.)

Hubby and I will be happily devouring some of the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Brown Butter Raspberry Tart

Tart (from L to R):  before baking, serving slice, while cooling.  Click on photos to see them bigger.

When I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit this summer, I knew that I would HAVE to make it.  I’m a sucker for anything containing browned butter and I LOVE any kind of berries.  I never suspected that I would be making it in January (so far out of berry season,) but Costco had some lovely organic raspberries yesterday and I decided to go for it.  I am absolutely and totally sure that I am going to hell for using raspberries from California in January and there is nothing that you can do to convince me otherwise, but I think this tart might just have been worth it.  It also makes your kitchen smell amazing when it’s cooking.  I know this doesn’t sound so great, but did any of you have those Strawberry Shortcake-type dolls as a kid?  The ones that actually smelled like whatever fruit they were supposed to be?  Well, it’s a bit obvious, but my entire kitchen smelled like a “Raspberry Tart” doll.  Or, rather…maybe the dolls were made to actually smell as they were supposed to…

The browned butter adds great richness.  The crust is a bit tricky to get evenly layered into the pan and mine still ended up a bit thick and crisp and, although not to the detriment of the dessert overall, it needed a bit of care when cutting each bite so as not to send bits (bites?) of tart flying off your plate.  Would have been even better (as Hubby pointed out) topped with a small bit of vanilla ice cream.

Coriander-Crusted Pork Tenderloin, Sweet and Spicy Roasted Vegetables, Brown Rice with Walnuts and Golden Raisins

Coriander-Crusted Pork Tenderloin recipe link

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Vegetables recipe link

Brown Rice with Walnuts and Golden Raisins recipe link

Wow!  This whole menu is from Dec’09/Jan’10 Fine Cooking magazine and it was OUTSTANDING.  The kids loved the veggies and rice and the pork was really amazing.  It was definitely the standout of the meal.  The crust on the outside was a TINY bit too spicy for Boy, but he just cut the edges off and ate the “middle.”  Hubby and I loved the crusty edges.  Yum.

Fine Cooking’s website can be a bit persnickety, as it is a mostly-subscription site, but try these links and see what happens.  If all else fails, you can try googling the recipe name and see if someone else (who is less afraid of copyright attorneys than I am) has typed in it.

Oh, also?  This meal was really quick, easy and well thought-out.  The fact that the veggies and pork cook at the same temp was really helpful.  It’s a very simply executed meal, in terms of juggling all three dishes easily at the same time.

(Vegetarian Girl just ate the rice and veggies.)

Alton Brown’s Funnel Cake

As a family, we love amusement parks.  We have been to ones all over the South, from Texas (SixFlags and SeaWorld) to Florida (Disney/Epcot, Universal, SeaWorld/Discovery Cove) to The Carolinas (Carowinds) to Virginia (Kings’ Dominion) and many more.  One of our favorite treats (the very last thing, before leaving the park) is to share a funnel cake together.

Well, it’s been a really long time since we’ve been to a park (July, and that was only Boy and me,) so I decided last night to make one of these critters for us.  I halved Alton Brown’s recipe (since we didn’t need 10…our tradition is to share one) and I made it as one giant, funnel cake, as it is traditionally served at our beloved amusement parks.

Fabulous.  A little difficult to turn over in the pan, but WELL worth the effort.

Slow-Roasted Grape and Yogurt Parfaits

Recipe here.  Click on the pretty photos to see them bigger.

This recipe looked delicious when I saw it in the magazine, although it strikes me as a bit strange.  I mean, really…something that has to roast for 3 hours for BREAKFAST?  Am I supposed to wake up at 3 am?  And roasting grapes in the first place strikes me as a bit odd, but the photos were SO pretty and the ingredients are all things that we like, so I wanted to give it a try.

First off, I highly recommend roasting the grapes the day before and storing them in the fridge for the next morning.  If you do this, however, you should start before 9:45 so that you don’t have to go to bed and then set an alarm to wake yourself up in the middle of the night to pull them out of the oven.  Not that I know that from personal experience, or anything…

So, these were a hit with all of us.  The flavor and sweetness of the grapes gets concentrated and they soften a bit, but you still get a little crunchy “bite” from the grapes’ skin.  I substituted pecans for the walnuts and used vanilla yogurt instead of the plain because plain yogurt makes Hubby gag because we prefer them.  I also forgot to add the mint very intentionally decided against using the mint (even though I remembered to buy it at the store and now will have to use it elsewhere…grr).  Oh, well…it will make a nice garnish for tonight’s brown-butter raspberry tart (stay tuned.)  This is a very filling breakfast…you really don’t need anything to go with it and BONUS:  The grapes smell DELICIOUS as you’re cooking…seriously, you’ll think that there’s a grape jelly factory in your kitchen.

This recipe is strange and a bit time-consuming, but I would make it again.  This would be perfect for a festive brunch or when you have out-of-town guests staying with you and you want an impressive breakfast.  This would be a VERY easy recipe to double, or even triple, if necessary.  This also could serve as a healthy dessert, if you’re so inclined.

***Correction:  It just occurred to me that maybe this recipe was actually SUPPOSED to be a dessert?  Oh, well…we just had dessert for breakfast.  My kids will be thrilled to hear this.

Just checked Cooking Light’s website again and this is, indeed, a dessert.  There are even dessert wines listed that are suggested to pair with it.  So, my thought is that the serving size is WAY to big for a dessert.  If you decide to prepare this recipe that way, I’d cut the serving size down and make 6 desserts out of one batch, instead of 4, but I still say it makes a great breakfast.  You could also use the sugar-roasted grapes to top pancakes, waffles or ice cream, etc.  Oooh….they would be STELLAR over peanut butter ice cream.  Might have to explore that option…

Middle Eastern-Style Flank Steak and Orecchiette with Brussels Sprouts, Gorgonzola, and Brown-Butter Pecans

This dinner tasted a lot better than my stinky photo makes it look.  I overcooked the steak a little bit and I undercooked the brussels sprouts a little bit, but both dishes tasted WONDERFUL.  The pasta was very rich and cheesy and creamy and the steak had just enough spice on it.  Girl, of course, only ate the pasta, and the meat was a tiny bit too spicy for Boy, but he still ate it enthusiastically.  The leftovers would be great tucked into a pita with some tzatziki and lettuce.

I highly recommend d’Arenberg Stump Jump Shiraz with this.  There’s a straight shiraz and there’s a shiraz-mourvedre-grenache blend.  They’re both good, but the straight shiraz is better and the 2008 is better than the 2007, but even the 2007 blend is still pretty good.

These recipes are, again, from Fine Cooking’s website, but I’m including the links…just in case.

Orecchiette recipe here.

Flank steak recipe here.

Curried Chickpea and Summer Vegetable Stew with Quick Tandoori Chicken Thighs

Absolutely wonderful.  We all loved this.  Girl had her stew, obviously, sans chicken.

Flavorful and spicy, but not too hot.  Savory and tangy.  The chicken was moist and meaty. Not too difficult or time-consuming.

Fine Cooking’s website is subscription-only, but I’ve included the recipe links, anyway, because sometimes they will let you look at certain recipes for free or they’ll let you look at two or three before they shut you out and ask you to sign up for a membership.  Good luck; I hope you can see them!  In general, I don’t like paying extra for the website membership if I already subscribe to the magazine, but for Fine Cooking, it’s worth it.

Stew recipe here and chicken recipe here.

Truffle Mashed Potatoes

Steamed broccoli.  Chicken thighs sprinkled with Baby Bam, then grilled and sliced.  Truffle Mashed potatoes.

(I wanted the focus of this meal to be on the potatoes, so I thought the rest of the food should be simple.  I thought using Baby Bam on the chicken would be fitting, since the potato recipe is also from Emeril Lagasse.)     Potato recipe here.

I was thrilled recently a few months ago (cause I’m the most procastinating blogger there is) to find some beautiful black truffles for sale at Whole Foods.  It was the first time that I had ever seen them for sale in Austin, although before having very liberal access to them on our family trip to Italy this summer, I was never quite so passionate about them.  I grabbed them from the produce case without a second thought, knowing that I would be able to come up with something fabulous to use them in.  There were three in the small, clear plastic deli box (I can’t BELIEVE that I forgot to take a photo!) and they were packed in arborio rice, which is typical, but is also controversial.  I cooked some in a roasted chicken (more on that later) and made some into truffle butter (this link will also allow you to read up on the storage-in-rice controversy) and then used what was left to make these mashed potatoes.  They were earthy and buttery and fabulous.  Now that truffle season is over, I know that I will be craving them until next summer, when I plan to order some from d’Artagnan.