Apr 5, 2011

Semi-homemade Belgian Waffle with Blackberry + Mango Compote

From the kitchen of: Isabel Canfield

Special guest writer: Sharon Ramos, my older sister, attended VCU from 1998 to 2003 (super senior) and is a huge Joey Rodriguez fan.

VCU, Rams, Skaka, “Boo Boo” Joey, black and yellow have been on the news a lot lately, don’t you think? All of a sudden, VCU’s alumni have come out of hiding wearing their black and yellow for their beloved school and team. As an alumna of VCU, I remember VCU’s basketball team well. When I was a freshman, the basketball team played their home games in the Franklin Street gym, which was more like a high school facility before it went under major renovations. It was a stone’s throw away from the Hibbs Cafeteria.

I don’t think I ever had a class with a basketball player, but I always came across them at Hibbs. A favorite dish for freshmen was the Belgian waffle. There were only two waffle irons that were brought out for breakfast. The staff provided batter and you’d make the waffle yourself. There was always a line for the waffle station and there was always a basketball player in line. Most students there, including myself, did not wake at 7 a.m. before class, but we came after long all-nighters of finishing essays and study sessions. The waffles were a great way to fill our stomachs before turning in our papers and taking a test. Waffles at Hibbs, good times at VCU.

In honor of VCU’s run in the tourney, Isabel makes her own version of the Hibbs’ Belgian waffle – in black and yellow style using blackberries and mangos in the compote. And it was just as good as my days at VCU Hibbs.

3 cups of Krusteaz Belgian waffle mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup of water
2 pints of blackberries
1 mango, largely diced
3 tablespoons of lemon
1/4 cup of sugar or less
powdered sugar
maple syrup

1. Make the blackberry and mango compote. Combine the blackberries, mango, lemon and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine and cook for about 10-15 minutes until liquid thickens and the berries become nice and soft. You can substitute the sugar for honey, and can use whatever fruit you like. And depending on how sweet you like it, add a little less than 1/4 cup if you don’t like it too sweet.

2. Make the Belgian waffle batter. So why make it from scratch if you know there’s something out there that tastes just as good? My all-time favorite mix for Belgian waffles is Kruteaz. Just like their box says, it’s light and crispy. Follow the directions for 4-5 waffles. Easily combine 3 cups of mix, eggs, oil and water. Use a whisk to create a smooth batter.

3. Cook the Belgian waffles. Be sure to preheat your waffle machine. I use Pam butter spray to prevent the batter from sticking. Works really nice. We were lucky enough to get a pro waffle machine for our wedding from our dear friend, Erin. It was one gift we used right away! My machine came with a handy measuring cup that scoops out the perfect amount of batter. Scoop batter onto the iron plates, close the lid and leave to cook until the light turns green!

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Apr 4, 2011

Shimmer + Bold Tablescape

Fuschia, red, purple, gold, blue and browns. Who knew that combination of colors would look so beautiful together. To be honest with you, I don’t wear a lot of color. My wardrobe consist of a lot of whites, tans and blacks. I like my plain white tee with my skinny jeans and a pair of flats. Looking at this tablescape though makes me wonder, am I totally missing out? I absolutely love this tablescape. Styled by Carter & Cook Event Co. by Ashlyn and Heather, “the table was inspired by fashion – gold sequins, heart lockets, hot shades of purple and confetti fill this modern table with lots of fun color. The bold shades of fuschia against the dark rustic wood table with sprinkled confetti screams celebration.”

They designed a fun, colorful garland made of fuchsia, warm pink and purple-tone folded paper strung together with thread. It hung against a perfect background, a rustic-gold wall. It made the garland pop!

Look how lush the flowers are. I’m not a floral expert, but it looks like a combination of just fuchsia carnations and roses. These type of flowers can be easily purchased at your local market at a very reasonable cost. Fuchsia might be a difficult color to find, so just find some in the same palette. LOVE IT.

The chairs actually remind me Paris. They always have an outdoor dining space at every restaurant I went to, and these rustic chairs were seated at every table. However, these were dressed up with a circular purple padding for the seat. Definitely a nice touch to the tablescape.

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Apr 1, 2011

Recipe for: Chocolate Truffles

From the kitchen of: Isabel Canfield

I’ve come to the understanding that most of my recipes I’m sharing with you tend to be really simple to do. Chocolate truffles is one of them. I’m surprised I hadn’t tried making them before. This particular batch was from the chocolate I used for my flavored s’mores recipe. I had some melted chocolate left so I stuck it in the fridge for a night or so, and they turned out great. When the chocolate was set, I scooped some out using a tablespoon, rolled them in my hands and covered them in cocoa powder. It was that simple! I think this would be fabulous as a housewarming gift or something to bring to your next potluck get-together if you’re requested to bring dessert! Recipe + directions follows below. Makes 24.

8 oz box of semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of cocoa powder for the coating or any topping you want!

1. Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan at medium-high temp. Pour hot cream over chocolate. Let the cream sit to melt the chocolate. After a few minutes stir and add the vanilla extract. If the chocolate is still lumpy, microwave for 5 seconds.
2. Refrigerate uncovered for at least an 1 hour until set.
3. Once the chocolate has set, start forming the balls using a melon scooper or a tablespoon. You can roll the chocolate balls in the palm of your hand to make them look a little more uniform.
4. After you’ve rolled all the balls, pop back in fridge to harden for 10 minutes. Remove and roll balls in the cocoa powder or whatever topping you like!

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Mar 30, 2011

Recipe for: Carne Asada Tacos

From the kitchen of: Tyler Florence from Food Network

Carne Asada Tacos

I love me some Tyler Florence. One of my favorite chefs, Tyler is not your average Food Network cook. He’s more contemporary with his bold flavors and is very knowledgeable on several cuisines such as American, Italian and Tex-Mex. Looking through my arsenal of cooking websites and blogs, I found a recipe for Tacos Carne Asada from Tyler. There are three main pieces to this recipe, but you can certainly assemble the mojo and pico de gallo ahead of time. The only thing really left to do when you’re ready to cook is grill the steak! How easy is that? Believe me, it’s not a complicated recipe. The prep work pretty much involves a lot of chopping and mixing. The ingredients are so fresh and citrusy. This recipe is a keeper.

flat iron steak (or flank or steak)
mojo, recipe follows
pico de dallo, recipe follows
olive oil for grilling
salt + pepper
1 package of corn tortillas (if corn isn’t your favorite, use flour)
shredded romaine lettuce
shredded Jack cheese
2 limes, cut into wedges

1. Make the mojo.
The mojo is the marinade for the flat iron steak. Using a mortar and pestle (or improvise like I did with a regular bowl and the back end of a ice cream scooper), mash together garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, salt and pepper into a paste. Transfer paste in a plastic container and add lime juice, orange juice, vinegar and oil. Shake well to combine.

Ingredients for the mojo:
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 large handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon of salt + pepper
2 limes, juiced
1 orange, juiced
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

2. Marinate the flat iron steak. The recipe calls for flank or skirt steak, but none were available at Kroger, so I got the flat iron steak, which ended up being really juicy and delicious! Place the steak in a rimmed dish and pouring almost all of the marinade on the flat steak. Save about 1/4 cup for serving. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, more if impossible, but no more than 8 hours because it breaks up the fibers. I only marinated the steak for an hour, but I wish it was longer.

3. Make pico de gallo. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients together. Mix thoroughly. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour for flavors to marry. This makes a lot, about 2 cups.

Ingredients for pico de gallo:
4 vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lime, juiced
1/4 olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt (taste to see if it would need more)

 4. Grill the steak. It’s still a little cold outside, so grilling the steak indoors is perfectly fine. I had a grill pan, which was perfect. Pre-heat the pan over medium-high. Add some olive oil to prevent sticking, about 2 tablespoons. Pull out steak from marinade and season with more salt and pepper. Once pan is nice and hot, place steak on the grill. Depending on thickness of steak, mine was fairly thick, it took about 10-12 minutes per side, turning once, to get the steak medium. If you use flank or skirt, it’s best when eaten medium-rare so it’ll take less time, about 7-9 minutes per side. Remove steak to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes for juices to settle. Thinly slice steak across the grain on a diagonal.

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Mar 29, 2011

Recipe for: 5-ingredient Pasta Alfredo

From the kitchen of: Isabel Canfield

5-ingredient Alfredo Pasta

I ran the Ukrop’s Monument Ave. 10k when I first moved to Richmond, back in 2006. I don’t know why I ran it, because I hate running. Jared loved running at the time, so maybe I just wanted to impress him. The night before the race, we filled our bellies with a hearty pasta dish at Robin Inn. Loading up on carbs the night before is what you’re supposed to do to have fuel for a race, so pasta is obviously a popular choice. I ran the race fairly well—not well-enough to tell you how long it took me to run—but it was an accomplishment. Since then, I don’t think I’ve put on my running shoes. Haha.

So, for all you runners out there running the 10k this Saturday, I’ve designed a super-easy pasta recipe for you to cook in less than 20 minutes. This beats the time you’d have to wait at a restaurant, since everyone and their mom will be out. With only five main ingredients, you’ll have a delicious, homemade pasta Alfredo. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

5 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 cups of heavy cream
2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 boxes of linguine pasta
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
salt+pepper to taste

1. Grate the Parmesan cheese. I bought a medium-size wedge of Parmesan at Kroger and used more than half of it to get two cups of grated Parmesan cheese. Grate a little more for the end to top off the pasta. Set aside.

5-ingredient Alfredo Pasta5-ingredient Alfredo Pasta

2. Boil the pasta. Fill a large pot about half full of water and add a tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Add the pasta. The linguine takes about 9 to 11 minutes to cook al dente.

5-ingredient Alfredo Pasta

3. Start the cream mixture. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet at medium-low temp. Add the butter until it melts. Slowly add the cream, whisking constantly. Bring the cream mixture to a low simmer, never letting it boil. Add the nutmeg and continue whisking. Nutmeg makes the dish; do not leave this out. You can switch over to a rubber spatula and stir until the pasta is cooked.

5-ingredient Alfredo Pasta

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