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Strawberry Muffins

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Sometimes you just need something sweet. If you look back on all of my posts, you will see that for me, the craving for sweet doesn’t come very often. I like things like dark chocolate and salted caramel, which by definition are not really very sweet. But right now there is so much awesome fresh fruit out there, and I love taking advantage of that!

Over the weekend, the craving for something sweet came over me, and luckily I had some delicious fresh local strawberries to serve as my inspiration. I then also watched the food network, and Ina Garten happened to make strawberry muffins for Jeffrey – talk about coincidence! I had to make them!

I tweaked her recipe a bit because she made 18 muffins, and used lots of sugar.  I figured I could somewhat healthify her recipe and make it a little less of a guilty indulgence. These went over really well, and even into Monday we were warming these babies up in the microwave and putting a little pad of butter on top!

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What you need: Makes 10 muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, half wheat if you can find it
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 5oz milk
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup diced fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup shaved coconut

Pre-heat your oven to 375F.

Sift together your dry ingredients first except for the sugar and coconut.

Melt your butter and mix together your wet ingredients as well.

Put them together and mix until it is a homogenous mixture.

Add in your fresh strawberries, sugar, and coconut and fold these into the mixture.

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Once everything is mixed in, line your muffin tray with muffin cups, and using a measuring cup or ice cream scoop, scoop in your batter evenly into each cup.

Bake the muffins for 20-25min and let cool before eating.

These were so tasty, and using half wheat flour took away some of our guilt!

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Pad Thai

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Last week was an incredibly eventful and wonderful week.  As we get closer and closer into summer, I have to admit I am getting busier and busier! I have 4 parties for clients coming up, and an event with a charity I have been helping organize. It has all been a lot of fun to plan and be a part of, but time really is flying by!

We had a really nice weekend with friends: getting to know new friends and spending time with some older friends. Sunday was a beautiful day as well and we took Kuda pup for a 2 hour walk in the woods.  She swam in the river and played with her friends.  She was completely exhausted last night, and only got up to eat dinner and go out before bed.  A tired pup is a happy one, I can tell you that!

Anyway, the blog has been a little neglected because of how busy I have been, but I did manage to cook a few things over the weekend to build up some photos and recipes to post in the upcoming week. I made a really delicious, but quite involved Pad Thai last week, and it was SO GOOD.  I am sharing the recipe with you today, but know this recipe does take about an hour to assemble and cook. Next time I am going to sub in half zucchini noodles for the pad thai noodles and make this dish a little healthier.

We love Thai food and often with take out it can be quite heavy.  Thankfully this wasn’t heavy or greasy at all, so with the added zucchini noodles next time, it is going to be even better for you!

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What you need:

  • 8oz dried pad Thai noodles
  • 1lb whole shrimp (with heads on if you can get them)
  • 3 tbsp oil, divided
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • white pepper, to taste
  • ½ block of extra firm tofu, cut into thin rectangles
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups Chinese garlic chives cut in inch long pieces
  • 3 medium eggs, (preferably at room temperature)
  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts washed and drained
  • 1-2 tbsp Asian chili sauce (optional)
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed (optional)
  • a handful of cilantro leaves (optional)

Soak the pad thai noodles in warm water for about 20 minutes, and drain. If the noodles are in really long strands, cut them into 10- to 12-inch lengths.

Remove the heads and shells from the shrimp and collect them into a bowl. Wash and devein the shrimp and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in your wok over high heat until just smoking. Add the shrimp heads and shells.

Stir-fry until all of the shells are bright orange, and add ⅔ cup water. When liquid comes to a boil, press the shrimp heads with your spoon to bring out the flavor and color.

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Simmer for another 5 minutes and remove from heat. Strain the shrimp stock into a bowl and discard the heads and shells.

Add sugar, tamarind paste, fish sauce, and white pepper to the stock and mix well.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in your wok over high heat and cook your shrimp for about 2-3min.

Remove them from the pan and set aside.

Set the wok to medium high heat and cook the firm tofu in the wok in one layer, and sear on both sides until slightly browned (about 1 to 2 minutes). Next, add the shallots, garlic, and chives. Turn up the heat to high.

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Add the noodles and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, or until all the ingredients are combined. Pour the tamarind-shrimp sauce mixture over the noodles, and stir fry for another minute or so.

Push the noodles to one side of the wok to make way for the eggs.

Crack the three eggs in, using your spoon to lightly beat them in the wok. Fold the eggs gently without completely scrambling them, and when they’re about 60% done, fold the noodles over the eggs.

Lastly, add the bean sprouts. Stir fry everything at high heat until the bean sprouts are just cooked.

Toss in the cooked shrimp, chili sauce, and soy sauce, and serve the Shrimp Pad Thai with crushed peanuts and cilantro on top, if using.

This Pad Thai was so delicious, James had about 3 bowls of it!

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Spring Green Beans Almandine

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What a week it has been so far, and it is almost over.  I thought for a while about what to post after yesterday’s exciting announcement, but everything felt like it would fall short! So I figured I would return to normal as best as possible and feature something fresh and seasonal.

As many of you know passover was last week as well as Easter, and for many these holidays really begin the Spring season. I went down to Texas to spend the holiday with my family, but I know in CT it was over 80F and sunny! What a way to kick off Spring parties and backyard barbecues!

I love this time of year and all of the delicious veggies that are becoming available at local markets. I have always been a big fan of green beans, and will eat them in almost any form.  I really like them still crispy, my pet peeve of cooked veggies is how so many people over cook them and lose that delicious bite!

This recipe is super easy, and only takes about 15-20min max and it is perfect for your next Spring get together!

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Why you need:

  • 2 bags of green beans
  • 3/4 cup of slivered almonds
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

You don’t have to use the bags of green beans, but they make your life super easy! You just cut holes in them and microwave them for 3 minutes for lightly steamed perfection.

In a cast iron pan heat up half of your butter and fry up your almonds.  You want them to brown and get nice and toasted.

Once they start turning brown, add in your garlic clove and cook a further 2 minutes.

Throw in your green beans, lemon juice, and the remaining half of the butter and toss.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This is such a great picnic option or perfect to serve for your next dinner party. These green beans are light and crunchy and could go back to almost anything!

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Greenwich Time

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I have the exciting news to announce that I was featured in today’s Greenwich Time newspaper.  This is a major local newspaper, and such an exciting day for me! As I mentioned recently there have been a lot of developments for The Gourmet Cocina and this is one of them.

Just a few weeks ago, I had a chance to meet Macaela Bennett the Business Reporter for the Time, and was so honored when she wanted to write an article about me. I often say to my husband and friends that I feel like moving to Greenwich really put us in the right place at the right time. I’ve met some really interesting and inspiring people and had so many unique opportunities present themselves.

This was no exception, and with the imminent launch of Pure Cocina Salsas in the next 4-6 weeks, it felt like fate. I am so grateful for this opportunity and feel really blessed to have had the chance to meet Macaela. She was so nice, and seems really interested in local businesses.

Below I will share a couple of photos from the article. Like I said it was such a unique opportunity, and I feel very blessed to have been given this opportunity so early in the development of The Gourmet Cocina.

Thanks to all of you readers for your support and positive energy! I wouldn’t be here without you!

Greenwich resident Gabriella Burke poses at J House Greenwich in the Riverside section of Greenwich, Conn. Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Burke is a personal chef, meal planner and food blogger for her newly-opened business, The Gourmet Cocina. Photo: Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media / Greenwich Time

Greenwich resident Gabriella Burke poses at J House Greenwich in the Riverside section of Greenwich, Conn. Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Burke is a personal chef, meal planner and food blogger for her newly-opened business, The Gourmet Cocina. Photo: Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media / Greenwich Time

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Citrus Spring Salad with Grilled Scallops

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Yesterday, my girlfriend over at The Zhush posted a recipe of mine. Sue is a seriously talented interiors expert, and has an incredible eye for design. Her kitchen is pretty spot on to my dream kitchen, so I luckily get to live vicariously through her!

Anyway, a few weeks back she asked me to share a Spring recipe for her and her readers, so I worked to put together a salad that featured seasonal fresh ingredients.  We are nearing the end of Citrus season, but right now, grapefruit, oranges, limes, and lemons are so fresh and delicious. This is the perfect time to make this salad, and it could be a great addition to any Easter spread this weekend.

I made it with fresh grilled scallops, but you could easily substitute, canned tuna, chicken breast, or grilled shrimp instead.

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What you need: (feeds 4)

  • 20 Scallops
  • large package of mixed greens
  • 2 plum or heirloom tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 large grapefruit, skinned and chopped
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
Heat your grill or grill pan to medium high heat.
Chop and slice all of your veggies and fruit.
In a small bowl mix together your lime juice, garlic, and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Toss your veggies in a large bowl with the quinoa.
Season your scallops with salt and pepper.
Grill your scallops for about 1-2min per side.  These cook very quickly, so keep a watchful eye!
Toss your dressing with the salad and serve onto four plates.
Top salads with 5 scallops each and add on some fresh cracked pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Enjoy!
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Very Berry Cobbler

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As I mentioned yesterday, we had such a fun backyard bbq with friends on Sunday.  Spring has seemingly finally arrived, and berry season is in full effect. Right now you can get the most delicious strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, which are perfect for eating and cooking with!

This coming weekend we are heading to Texas for Easter, so our bbq last weekend, was our pre-Easter “framily” barbecue. For those of you that follow me on instagram or Facebook, I posted a photo a couple weeks back of little individual berry cobblers that I made for a client dinner party.  All 10 guests raved about how delicious it was, so I thought I would share the recipe with you all.

What is so great about this, is that the filling is just fruit.  No added sugar at all, and as they cook, they bubble up and create their own syrup. The topping is really simple as well, and uses all natural animal fats (butter), and only some brown sugar. This is a pretty healthy dessert, and one you can feel good about feeding your family.

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What you need:

 

  • 3 cups assorted berries
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I only had half white bread flour and it was still delicious)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9”x 6” rectangular or 8” round baking dish.

If using strawberries, quarter them so all fruit pieces are mostly uniform in size.

Place the berries in the prepared pan. Drizzle with the lemon juice.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until well-blended. Mix in the dry ingredients until mixture resembles crumbs. Drop the dough evenly on top of berries.

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Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and fruit is bubbly.

If your dish is really full, make sure to put a sheet pan underneath it, as often the fruit bubbles up over the side.

Serve it straight from the oven with a little vanilla ice cream.  Who doesn’t love a little cobbler a la mode?

 

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Sunday Barbecue

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Sundays are always a bittersweet day. Especially when you get gorgeous Spring days like we did yesterday.  Sundays always mean the weekend is almost over, but sometimes, a Sunday afternoon can feel like it goes on forever. We had our first true day of Spring yesterday, almost 70F outside, crystal clear skies, and our first bbq of the season!

Sundays are a day for family, and since right now our little family is just James and I and Kuda girl, we like to spend Sunday afternoons with our extended “family” – our friends. I am always a social person, but when the weather is nice, I love having people over for bbq and good times. Yesterday, we invited a few of our favorite people in CT and had a great classic backyard barbecue!

I made barbecue ribs, chicken, and sausage, charro beans, a salad, and some grilled peppers. It was so filling, but with two light veggie side options, we didn’t need to feel too guilty.  I also made a really yummy berry cobbler for dessert with vanilla ice cream, but I will share that recipe with you tomorrow. For now, I am just going to share with you my special rib recipe! Don’t forget I am a native Texan, so this is a big deal!!!

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What you need:

  • Two racks of baby back ribs
  • 1 full flavor beer
  • 1/3 cup bbq dry rub (I used Salt Lick, but a homemade recipe is below)
  • 1/3 cup of good bbq sauce

Heat your oven to 200F.

Rub your dry rub all over the ribs and let sit for a few minutes.

Pour beer into the dish holding the ribs and cover with foil.

Cook ribs in the low heat oven for 2 1/2 hours.

Remove ribs from the oven and brush with your bbq sauce.

Finish on a medium high grill for about 4 min per side.  You should get a good char on the outside, and your ribs will fall off of the bone!

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Serve with some extra barbecue sauce on the side, and make sure you get your hands good and dirty!

I used the same rub and bbq sauce on the chicken thighs as well, and just used a simple kielbasa sausage grilled for a little more variety.

Home Made Dry Rub:

  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp granulated onion
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Mix it all together and rub all over any meat you want to bbq!

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Asian Style Beef Short Ribs

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I realized this week that I posted an instagram story about Asian style short ribs in the slow cooker, but didn’t actually share the recipe!  That was silly of me!  As I have already mentioned life at Casa Burke is a little busy at the moment, but all good things.

James was traveling this week so I didn’t cook as much.  I cook for clients and myself, often 2-3 times per day, so when my hubby goes away, I lazily order in food.  Usually Greek or Sushi.

I made these delicious short ribs for us last week on a rainy day. Connecticut is really taking April showers seriously and we have had rain for 5 days out of 7 days of the month so far! Thankfully the temperature is increasing a bit, but the gloomy weather calls for lots of slow cooker type meals.

These ribs literally fell off the bone and were so tender and full of flavor.  The best part about them is that it takes about 15min of prep, and you just leave them in the slow cooker all day!

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 5 lbs bone-in beef short ribs
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds

In a bowl mix together your soy sauce, broth, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes until a homogenous mixture.

Using a good sized slow cooker, place your short ribs into the pot and pour the liquid over.  If the ribs are too long, feel free to cut them up a bit to fit into the pot.

Cover and cook on low heat 7-8 hours or high heat 3-4 hours.  I recommend using low heat as the short ribs come out even more tender.

After the 7-8 hours, mix together 2 tbsp of corn starch and 1/4 cup of water, and then add the mixture to the crockpot.

Stir in the corn starch, and cook for a further 30min on high or until the sauce has thickened.

Serve with veggies or rice or quinoa and enjoy!