Friday, June 25, 2010

Key Lime Cupcakes

Key Lime Pie is one of my favorite desserts, so when I volunteered to make cupcakes for a friend's birthday party I was happy to be reminded that she loves Key Lime too. So the search was on for a perfect recipe.

None of my trusted resources had a specific Key Lime Cupcake recipe, I had to improvise. I found this recipe for Lemon Meringue Cupcakes. I used only the cake part of the recipe and replaced the lemon zest and juice with key lime zest and juice. I tested one when they came out of the oven to determine how limey the frosting should be. The cake had a nice mild lime flavor, so I didn't have to hold back on the frosting.

I had toyed with the idea of doing a graham cracker crust on the bottom of the cupcakes, but instead decided to sprinkle the crumbs on top. The finishing touch was a slice of key lime dredged in bright white sparking sugar.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Quick-Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce with Spaghetti

This is a perfect dish for those expecting a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes this summer. If, like me, you don't have a veggie garden, store bought tomatoes work well too. The ease and quickness of preparation make this perfect weeknight fare. The amazing aroma of the tomatoes roasting is an added perk.

I served this with warm crusty bread. Three out of four of my household loved this. Dylan didn't like the tomatoes cooked. He is really hard to please these days!

Quick-Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce with Spaghetti
Serves 6
Cooking Light, June 2010

4 quarts water
1 T. kosher salt
12 oz. uncooked spaghetti
2 pints cherry tomatoes
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/8 t. crushed red pepper
1/4 C. chopped or torn fresh basil leaves
1/4 C. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
3/4 C. (3 oz.) crumbled semisoft goat cheese

Preheat oven to 450°

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add 1 tablespoon salt and spaghetti to boiling water; cook 10 minutes or until spaghetti is al dente. Drain spaghetti in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Return spaghetti to pan; set aside, keep warm.

While spaghetti cooks, combine tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and pepper on a jelly roll pan, tossing well to coat. Bake tomato mixture at 450° for 10 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and lightly charred in places.

Add tomatoes and any tomato juice to spaghetti in Dutch oven. Add 1/4 cup reserved cooking water to jelly roll pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; carefully pour water mixture and remaining 2 tablespoons oil into spaghetti mixture. Place Dutch oven over medium heat. Add remaining reserved cooking water, 2 tablespoons at a time, until spaghetti mixture is moist, tossing frequently. Stir in basil and parsley. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Seared Duck Breast with Cherries and Port Sauce

When I eat out at restaurants, there are dishes I never order because I can competently prepare them at home. Chicken, salmon, and steak come to mind. I usually indulge in a fish that is not readily available to me at the market, rack of lamb, or my absolute favorite, duck breasts with crispy, fatty, succulent skin.

After spotting beautiful fresh cherries at the grocery store I found this recipe and decided it was time to tackle the duck at home. Harris Teeter sells Culver duck breasts, they are nice and reasonably priced.

As for cooking the duck in my kitchen, it could not have been easier or messier. The fatty skin that I love so much makes quite a greasy disaster area on and around the stove top, but we could forget about that until we were finished eating.

The duck turned out well, the boys liked it. Surprisingly, Alex, who can sit and eat bowls full of fresh cherries, didn't like the sauce. He says he didn't like the cherries cooked or the shallots. Oh well, I did, but I think I prefer to eat duck breast at a restaurant where there is a staff to clean up the mess!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tomato, Goat Cheese, and Onion Tart

Many of my regular readers (all four or five of you) have had this delicious tart before. I served it at my sister's bridal shower with Silver Palate's Beef Tenderloin. I have also made it for dinner guests, as it is one of my favorite summer meals. It pairs very well with beef, but I also enjoy it as a main course with a lightly dressed green salad on the the side.

I first discovered this recipe when I received Gourmet's Five Ingredients as a gift. It's on the cover and I couldn't resist. The combination of caramelized onions, goat cheese, and tomatoes is genius. It's very easy to prepare, just remember to use a pie crust shield, so the crust doesn't burn like mine did.