Monday, December 29, 2014

Banana Pecan Buttermilk Waffles

I have been away from blogging during the holidays to focus on feeding my visiting in-laws. I wanted their first Christmas as my new Ma and Pa to be special, so I devoted lots of time to the menu. And its preparation. I made Ina Garten's Company Pot Roast--a center cut chuck roast in a rich sauce of plum tomato, burgandy and cognac. I also improvised a recipe for gratin dauphinois that turned out tasty. To start the meal I served a warm salad of roasted brussels sprouts tossed with goat cheese crumbles and toasted pecans and dressed in an orange-thyme vinaigrette. The recipe for the salad will be the subject of my next post. Before I get to sharing the particulars of that dish I want to talk about the waffles we had on Christmas morning. I sat next to the waffle maker as my father in law cooked them up and the smell issuing from them was heavenly! This recipe is similar to my pumpkin waffle recipe, the main difference being the included chopped bananas, toasted pecans and a change to my wet ingredient. Because bananas hold a lot of water you want to overfill your waffle iron to get them as fluffy as regular buttermilk waffles. These would also make lovely mini donuts, perhaps with a vanilla and brown sugar caramel glaze? That's a post for another day. If you don't have a waffle maker or a mini donut pan this batter makes lovely pancakes.

Banana Pecan Buttermilk Waffles

Makes 4 large waffles

2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
3 bananas
3/4 cup well shaken buttermilk
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons whole milk
1 Tablespoon Vanilla

1. Preheat the waffle iron to the lowest setting.
2. Sift together dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon.
3. Mash 2 of the bananas together in a small bowl and add 2 Tablespoons of the milk, Stir to incorporate.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, buttermilk, vanilla and mashed bananas.
5. Chop remaining banana into small cubes and mix into wet ingredients. Gradually introduce dry ingredients. Add pecans, then mix in melted butter.
6. Brush waffle iron and fill generously with batter. Cook each waffle individually and enjoy topped with butter and maple syrup.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Impressive Holiday Recipes: Salmon En Croute w/ Mustard Beurre Blanc

I try not to make your lives any harder dear foodies--truly, I do. But around the holidays is when even the most timid cooks will search for complicated, impressive recipes to wow your guests and feed your loved ones decadently. Salmon En Croute, a traditional French dish is basically puff pastry covered salmon fillets with par-cooked vegetables. There are many different takes on this dish. Here is mine. For the sake of presentation I used rainbow carrots and julienned my mirepoix mixture, which I par-sauteed with fresh thyme in a small amount of butter. This was the top layer of my puff pastry packet. On the other side of the salmon was my shallot and leek paste, along with several very thinly sliced pats of butter. The sauce was a bit tart, but absolutely transcendent. I used a lot less butter, so it didn't thicken like a proper beurre blanc, but at least it wasn't as rich.

The salmon can be folded into puff pastry packets several hours before cooking.

Stone Ground Mustard Beurre Blanc

7 Tablespoons cold butter, separated
juice of 1/2 lemon
zest of 1/2 lemon
3 Tablespoons sherry
1 Cup dry white wine (I used Gallo's Chardonnay)
1 shallot clove, diced
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
3 Tablespoons heavy cream

1. In a heavy bottom saucepan add wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, sherry and shallots and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer to reduce liquid for about 30 - 40 minutes. Wine should reduce to just 3 or so Tablespoons.
2. Reduce heat to lowest setting and whisk in cream. Puree mixture, then return to saucepan.
3. Whisk in butter, tablespoon by tablespoon, allowing it to just melt before you add more. You want to be careful not to allow that butter to heat too much and melt instead of emulsifying.
4. Whisk in mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm over your en creute salmon fillets.

Salmon En Creute

Makes 4 servings
1 sheet puff pastry
4 salmon fillets, approx 5.6 ounces each (I cut a 1.3 lb piece of salmon belly into 4 fillets)
1 purple carrot (or regular carrot), scrubbed and julienned
1/2 medium yellow onion, julienned
2 stalks celery julienned
1 shallot clove, diced
1/2 large leek, chopped
1 Tablespoon sherry
3 small sprigs thyme, leaves only
3 Tablespoon cold, unsalted butter
1 Teaspoon olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1 egg, beaten (for wash)

1. Over medium heat, melt 1/2 Tablespoon butter and combine with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Add julienned onions and a little salt. Cook for 2 minutes. Add julienned celery and carrots and thyme leaves and saute for another 3 minutes. Season with pepper and set it aside to cool.
2. Over medium heat, melt 1/2 Tablespoon butter and combine with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Saute leeks and shallots until caramelized, about 15 minutes. Stir frequently. When the sugars from the leeks and shallots starts to brown the bottom of the pan, deglaze with the sherry. Allow the sherry to cook into the leeks and shallots. Set aside to cool, then puree.
3. Dust a clean surface with flour and roll your puff pastry out gently until it is 18" x 18". Cut it into four equal squares.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Assemble the en croute fillets: place a layer of 1/4 of the leek and shallot paste across the center of each square, attempting to cover as much area as the salmon will take up. Cover with a paper thin layer of butter pats, then cover with salmon fillet, skin side down. Top non-skin side of salmon with julienned vegetables and fold edges of puff pastry over everything to seal. Use egg wash along the edges to be sure and get a snug seal.
5. Bake for 20 - 22 minutes, or until puff pastry begins to turn golden.
6. Drizzle with mustard beurre blanc and serve.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Spicy Beef Mac and Cheese Casserole with Roasted Zucchini and Pasilla Peppers

I've been excited about doing a mac and cheese with my own special twist since I got a lovely handmade clay casserole dish as a wedding gift from my Aunt Stacy. As soon as I would think of what to put in it to make the dish my own (something was almost always something seasonal) I would get too busy to bring it all together and more than a few times the seasonal ingredients I was thinking of incorporating went out of season. I realized that was no excuse. Especially when I tasted this Macaroni and Cheese Casserole with Spicy Beef and Roasted Zucchini and Pasilla Peppers. Fatty, spicy beef sauteed in caramelized onions helped offset the tanginess of extra sharp cheddar, which I prefer to use in abundance. The sweet caramelization on the zucchini and onions sweetened the casserole a bit and helped to harmonize the flavors. And because this casserole was heavily inspired by dishes of Mexico the "breadcrumb" topping is crushed tortilla chips. It was the casserole dish that got me started, but in the end I didn't use it. After eyeing the amount of each ingredient I wanted to use I realized it would never fit into my adorably small clay casserole dish. When we tasted the final product we did not mind in the least that we had made more than we thought we would. This is a great once in a while indulgence and is sure to keep you warm on these cold winter nights. :)

Mexican Inspired Mac and Cheese with Spicy Beef and Roasted Pasilla Peppers and Zucchini

1 1/2 - 2 cups grated cheddar cheese*
3/4 pound ground organic beef 85/15 lean
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 Teaspoon hot sauce of choice (we prefer sriracha)
4 Tablespoons Unsalted butter plus 1/2 Tablespoon
4 Tablespoons all purpose flour
salt, to taste
fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 large pasilla or poblano (also called ancho chilies), diced (excluding the seeds and ribs)**
3 medium white zucchinis, roasted in thick lengthwise slices in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes per side and sliced vertically into 1/4" strips
3/4 pound macaroni
1 pinch of nutmeg (less than 1/4 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon, plus a pinch of cumin powder
1 pinch cayenne (less than 1/4 teaspoon)
1 ounce tortilla chips, pulverized into breadcrumb consistency
3 cups whole milk

1. In a large pan over medium heat melt butter and saute onions for 2 - 3 minutes. Add cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder and a very small amount of salt and saute for 30 - 90 seconds more.
2. Add ground beef and break it up into little crumbles in the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is brown all the way through.
3. As the beef cooks toss macaroni noodles into salted boiling water and cook according to the package directions.
4. When the beef is cooked combine beef, noodles, diced peppers and chopped zucchinis into the dish you will be baking your macaroni and cheese in. I used a deep 9 x 13" lasagna baking dish.
5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a saucepan melt butter. When butter is entirely melted add nutmeg and a pinch of cumin powder and toast the spices in the butter for approximately one minute. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking somewhat lazily, until the flour begins to turn darker brown.
6. When the flour has turned brown immediately start to add milk, at first a tablespoon at a time until the mixture goes from rough to shiny. Then start to add the milk in much larger quantities, like 1/3 to 1/2 cup at a time.
7. With heat at medium low cook the mixture until in begins to thicken into a gravy, about 10 minutes. Whisk about every 60 to 90 seconds and be sure to reincorporate the yummy roux that collects along the sides.
8. Pour gravy into baking dish with the other ingredients. Mix in cheese and top with pulverized tortilla chips.
9. Bake in oven until the tortilla crumbs begin to brown, about 20 - 30 minutes.
10. Serve hot and enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*the pre grated stuff has potato starch on it, so I recommend grating it freshly yourself

**To roast the peppers: cook for 8 - 10 minutes under a broiler preheated to 400 degrees, turn them over and broil for anoter 7 minutes; steam skins off by putting still hot peppers in a large, sturdy ziploc and sealing them loosely to allow the steam inside the peppers to slough the skin off. Leave them in the ziploc for about 20 minutes, then remove them and the skin will peel easily off. Remove all skin, then slit the peppers open to easily scrape the seeds and ribs out with a spoon.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cognac and Honey Roasted Spicy Carrots

This time of year everyone is very busy in the kitchen. What do you need when you're busy all week getting a family feast together? You need a quick side dish that you can dress, toss in the oven and forget about. Something that converts even cooked carrot haters into carrot lovers. This incredibly easy to put together vegetarian side dish is sure to wow your guests at Thanksgiving. Even more so if you are as lucky as I was and can find a bag of rainbow carrots. The garnish in the photo is chopped cilantro and crumbled cotija cheese.

Cognac and Honey Roasted Spicy Carrots

2 lbs. carrots (preferably rainbow carrots), scrubbed and sliced into 1/2" pieces
3 Tablespoons spiced cognac (such as benedictine)
1 Tablespoon dark honey (such as wildflower or buckwheat honey)
2 1/2 Tablespoons butter
1 Teaspoon sriracha or other chili sauce
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a saucepan over medium low heat, melt butter. Add cognac and stir to incorporate.
3. Add honey and when honey has completely melted take sauce off heat. Add sriracha and stir to combine.
5. Toss carrots with sauce, add salt and pepper to taste, then lay out in a single layer on a baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove smallest pieces of carrot and flip larger pieces. Bake for another 10 minutes.
6. Serve warm and toss with minced fresh herbs (optional).

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Homemade Cranberry Sauce and Perfect Mashed Potatoes

It's that time of year again when most everyone in America is called upon to cook. On this occasion I have the opportunity to use this blog for the greater good. Hopefully I can. This post features tips on two dishes that are ubiquitous on Thanksgiving tables. I'll give recipes for each, but think of them as sort of rough guides. For example, my cranberry sauce is on the sweet side, so feel free to use less sugar. Also, the amount of milk to add to your mashed potatoes is highly subjective; use whatever amount you need to get yours to the consistency you like.
As for creating really fluffy mashed potatoes: russet, which are highly starchy are in my opinion the best potato for mashing. They're also large, so less potatoes to scrub equals less work. Cut your potatoes up into very large pieces to boil them. Salt the water. Boil until a little more tender than you would prefer to have them if you were just eating boiled potatoes or making potato salad. Don't skimp on the butter. You'll need slightly less than 1 Tablespoon of butter per medium to large sized russet. When the potatoes are cooked through drain the water, but don't shake the excess water from the bottom. It will help you create fluffier mashed potatoes. When you mash leave the in the boiling pot and push your masher straight down along the outside of the pot circling in toward the center, to loosely break up the potato pieces. Then mash butter in in the same pattern and motion. Then fold milk in as gently as possible to avoid overworking your potatoes. I like to leave the skin on because I like the taste and the mouth feel. Also, I read an article that said the skin is where all the vitamins are.

Next blog post is going to feature another side dish, this one easy yet impressive.

Cranberry Sauce

Serves 4 - 6

1 1/2 cups (by volume) cleaned, picked through cranberries
juice of 1/2 large orange or whole small orange
zest of 1 orange
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
(optional) 2 - 3 Tablespoons orange marmalade*
(optional garnish) 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

1. In a saucepan over medium heat combine cranberries, water and sugar and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.
2. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 12 - 15 minutes, or until the cranberries soften enough to split open.
3. Add orange zest, orange juice and (optional) marmalade and cook for 2 - 3 minutes more.
4. Remove from heat and serve topped with chopped toasted walnuts

Fluffy Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4 - 6

4 medium to large russet potatoes, scrubbed and chopped roughly (max 6 pieces per potato)
3 1/2 - 4 Tablespoons of butter, separated (cut into Tablespoon pieces)
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk, depending on preference

1. Drop potatoes into boiling, salted water and cook for about 30 minutes, or until slightly more than fork tender.
2. Mash potatoes using the method described above.
3. Add butter and continue to mash until incorporated.
4. Slowly fold in milk parts at a time until desired consistency is reached.
5. Adjust for salt and add desired amount of pepper. Fold until just incorporated.

*This will create a thicker sauce, so if that is your preference I highly recommend it

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Roasted Kobocha Squash and Ginger Autumn Bisque

This dish was inspired by the kobocha squash my coworker gave me to take home. Kobocha is a very sweet Japanese pumpkin. If you prefer the regular pumpkin variety or butternut squash this recipe will work just as well for those. It is a classic flavors of fall recipe. Sweet, but not overly so it is very filling and a perfect way to utilize the vegetables in season.

Roasted Kobocha Squash and Ginger Autumn Bisque

Puree of 1 kobocha squash*
2 apples, cored, chopped and evenly divided into two piles
1 cup apple cider
4 Tablespoons butter
2 cups low sodium organic chicken
1 leek, cleaned and chopped
3 stalks celery, cleaned and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, julienned
pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
7 small sages leaves, roughly chopped
1/2" piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 Teaspoon olive oil

1. Melt 2 1/2 Tablespoons of the butter in a heavy bottomed stock or pasta pot over medium heat. Add celery, leeks, onions, sage, salt, pepper, 1/2 the apples. Saute until softened, about 7 minutes, stirring frequently.
2. Take mixture off heat and allow to cool. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock and puree until smooth.
3. Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in the stockpot and saute the other half of the apples over medium heat, stirring frequently.
4. When the apples are starting to soften add remaining chicken stock, pureed veggies, pureed pumpkin, ginger and cider.
5. Bring mixture to a boil and cover. Turn heat down to low and simmer for about 10 minutes to allow flavors to marry.
6. Turn off heat, taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Add cream. Allow soup to sit for 5 minutes to heat cream.
7. Serve, garnished with fried sage and a drizzle of heavy cream.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*I quartered my squash, trimmed the ends off, scooped out the seeds and goop then brushed melted butter all over the skin. I roasted the quarters in an oven preheated to 375 for about 40 minutes.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Crisp Topped Baked Apples

Sometimes I feel the need to explain why I am posting a certain recipe; why I've combined the flavors the way I have. Today's post features a dish that need no explanation. It's the perfect time of year for apples, and even pie haters have united in their love of crisp. Serve it a la mode and you'll have one unbelievably decadent dessert. Does it ease the richness of the combo that you'll bake the apple whole, with just a little caramel spice syrup in the center to flavor it?

My syrup bubbled over the sides of my apples and created a burnt, crunchy layer at the bottom of my pan during the part where I turned the heat up to bake the crisps, so I'd suggest covering the bottom of the pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. That being said, this dessert was fairly easy to throw together, the hardest part being carving the core mostly out of the apples without cutting all the way through (leaving the bottom intact to keep the juices in). My favorite part of the recipe is the vanilla and spice clove caramel syrup. I didn't think to reserve some caramel to drizzle over the plate, but I've fixed that in the recipe directions. Also, I deliberately included more crisp topping in the recipe than can fit in the apples. I found that baking it up in a muffin tin, breaking it into large pieces and sprinkling it over the ice cream created the perfect crisp to fruit to ice cream ratio.

Baked Apples w/ Crisp Topping

Makes 4 servings

4 apples
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons butter
6 spice clove heads, crumbled
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
tiny pinch of salt
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Teaspoon maple syrup
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 Tablespoons cold butter, chopped into small pieces
(optional) 1 Tablespoon whiskey (or cognac or bourbon)

1. Preheat oven to 325 (for smaller apples or hotter ovens, 300)
2. Cut a cone shaped wedge into the center of the apple, mostly removing the core, but not cutting all the way through to the bottom of the apple; this is to keep all of the juices from flowing out during cooking. The widest part of the wedge shape will go towards the top.
3. In a pan over low heat melt butter and add salt, crushed clove bulbs and cinnamon. Cook for 5 minutes to toast the spices. Add maple syrup, vanilla and sugar and allow to melt, stirring gently and occasionally. This will take about 7 to 10 minutes. Add optional whiskey and stir to incorporate.
4. Grease a baking dish and set apples into it, cut side up. Pour approximately 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the spiced vanilla sauce into the cone cut into each apple. You want to fill the cavities to about 1/2 centimeter to the top. Try to reserve some sauce to drizzle over top.
5. Bake the apples for about 20 minutes, basting the apples with their juices every ten minutes.
6. Assemble the topping: mix together flour, brown sugar and oats until thoroughly combined. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, incorporate chopped butter until the mixture forms loose, medium sized crumbs.
7. Remove apples from oven and turn heat up to 400. Stuff each apple cavity with crisp mixture. Loosely pack the remaining topping into a muffin tin and fill each cup only about 1/2" high, to allow mixture to get properly crunchy.
8. Bake apples and muffin tin full of crisp topping in the oven for 15 minutes.
9. Serve topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Garnish with extra crisp topping and drizzled with sauce.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fluffy Pumpkin Buttermilk Waffles and Mini Donuts with Ginger & Pie Spice Butter & Maple Whiskey Glaze

I have been itching to get back to blogging ever since I returned from our honeymoon and perhaps that's why this post features the same batter not one but two ways, with a sweet, spicy, boozy glaze recipe that's simply magical. It all starts with fresh pumpkin puree and a special ginger and pumpkin pie spice butter that doesn't seem to photograph well, but nevertheless is absolutely divine! The butter is actually a wonderfully all purpose fall dessert addition--try it in your next apple or pear crumble or in your next apple or pecan pie.

Initially, I wanted to use the puree I got from roasting my own pumpkins for baked donuts in my new mini donut pan. But then my waffle maker arrived. The idea of pumpkin waffles just wouldn't quit haunting me, so I decided to try adding them to a buttermilk waffle batter, to make them extra fluffy. Then I thought "why cook up an alternate batter when the pumpkin buttermilk waffle batter will probably bake up fluffy and moist?" It was a good idea, so I went with it. I knew the short cooking time for waffles and mini baked donuts would hardly allow any spices added to the batter to toast properly and reach their fully toasted potential, so I decided instead to make a ginger and pumpkin pie spice butter to top the waffles. Alternatively you could toast the spices in the butter you're using for the batter before cooling it off and adding it in.

When I served the waffles I slathered on a generous amount of ginger spice butter and lots of real maple syrup. I served the Donuts glazed generously with the Maple Whiskey Glaze I made by using the maple syrup, some whiskey, some confectioners sugar and the ginger spice butter.

Pumpkin Buttermilk Waffles/Donuts and Ginger Spice Butter & Maple Whiskey Glaze

Pumpkin Buttermilk Waffle & Donut Batter

1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup whole wheat flour sifted (or you can use all all purpose flour)
2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 cup packed pumpkin puree
3/4 cup well shaken buttermilk
1 cup whole milk
4 1/2 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
2 extra large eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Sift all dry ingredients together in a medium sized mixing bowl.
2. Whisk together eggs, milk, buttermilk, vanilla and pumpkin.
3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir just enough to combine.
4. Add sugar, then butter and stir only enough to combine.
5. Bake in mini donut pan or use in waffle iron immediately.
6. If you're making waffles, spread with spice butter (see recipe below) and serve with warmed maple syrup. If you're making donuts drizzle with glaze (recipe also below).

Ginger & Pie Spice Butter

1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2" piece of ginger, peeled & grated
4 Tablespoons butter
6 spice cloves (round parts only), crushed
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon allspice

1. In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt butter
2. Add spices and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
3. When you can smell the spices in the kitchen they've been incorporated. Remove the butter from the heat and allow to cool.
4. Serve on your waffles and/or use part of it to make donut glaze.

Ginger Pie Spice Maple Whiskey Donut Glaze

1 Tablespoon ginger spice butter, melted but cooled
1 Tablespoon Confectioners' sugar
1 Tablespoon Grade B Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons good whiskey

1. In a bowl combine whiskey, spice butter and syrup.
2. Whisk confectioners sugar in until the glaze is smooth.
3. Ladle generously over donuts.

I hope you enjoy this flavor of fall recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Pics of the waffles to follow, as soon as I take a satisfactory one.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ginger Congee (Savory Rice Porridge) w/ Sliced Marinated Chicken

Rarely do I have all of the text pre-written for a blog post, but as it happens this post was inspired by a participatory event on (what else?) Google Plus. September was cook-a-book month and as I searched the internet and my memory for any references to food I could make some time to cook during this hectic part of my life. Then, as I was reading an installment of one of my favorite detective series, inspiration struck. A seemingly easy food; a comfort food; a breakfast, lunch and dinner food; it was cheap and nourishing, both a side and a main (depending on preparation) and for some evocative of childhood and days in bed, home sick. That's right: this dish is even considered by many to be medicinal. What is this miracle dish? Well, it is a savory rice porridge and a version of it is made in many Asian countries, but I am sharing with you one of the Chinese versions: Congee.

And it came from:

Ruddy Gore a Phryne Fisher mystery by Kerry Greenwood

The Honourable Phryne Fisher, with the help of her clever companion Dot, solves murders in 1920's Melbourne with unflappable panache. She drives a racing auto, flies planes and solves mysteries and through it all manages to keep her exquisite clothing intact. She also rather enjoys a good meal.

Ruddy Gore sees her solving the mysteries of the death of a leading man playing in the title Gilbert & Sullivan opera, a ghost in the theater and uniting a father and daughter previously unknown to one another.

"Phryne accepted a delicate porcelain bowl of what looked very like library paste and took up her spoon.
'What is this?' she asked, sipping at a smooth, bland soup.
'Rice gruel--the French call it congee. It tastes better than porridge, I think.'"

Brown Rice and Ginger Congee with Chicken

Everyone around me seems to have the sniffles. It's understandable, as the weather gets colder. My first time trying congee I was told it was often given to someone to help recover from illness, so I thought it would be a perfect post to (hopefully) squeeze in to the cook a book event. I washed my rice five times, covering it in plenty of water each time, then using a whisk to agitate the water and rubbing the grains vigorously between my palms. After 5 such rinses the rice water was finally clear instead of cloudy and the rice clean enough to make congee with. I also used a couple of ice cubes of a zesty mushroom stock I made and froze awhile back to kick up the flavor a little.

Brown Rice Congee w/ Ginger and Sliced Chicken

approx 360 grams boneless, skinless chicken
1" ginger, peeled
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup short grain rice (I used brown)
8 cups water
1/4 onion, roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 1/2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce, or to taste
1/4 Teaspoon sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Wash the rice repeatedly using the method described above. When the water is clear even after whisking and rubbing the rice in it drain the rice and set aside.
2. pulse the onion, 1/2 the ginger, garlic and sesame oil in the blender with a very small drizzle of soy sauce.
3. In a large, heavy-bottomed stock or pasta pot, combine water, stock, soy sauce and onion/ginger/garlic paste.
4. Bring to a boil and add rice.
5. Turn down to a lazy boil and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 90 minutes. The grains should lose a lot of their shape and form a very thick broth by this point.
6. Trim the fat from your chicken and thinly slice it. Marinate it for 15 minutes in a drizzle of soy sauce, the remaining ginger (grated) and a crushed clove of garlic.
7. Add the chicken to the pot, cover, and cook for another 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Serve hot and garnished with your favorite garnish (ours were garnished with green onions, sliced thai chili, rooster sauce and cilantro).

Monday, September 15, 2014

Spinach, Ricotta, Roasted Garlic Tortelloni

Ok, I will admit that making homemade stuffed pasta takes work. But the theme of September's blog posts seems to be commitment; once you unwrap and begin to roll out that fresh pasta dough, you are committed to making yourself some pasta. And pasta for those you love...if there are leftovers. ;) I promise you this filling is very worth all of the work. The flavor combination is inspired by a slice of pizza from a late night Brooklyn pizzeria I used to visit after a night dancing with friends. The place is so good the line is out the door, regardless of the hour; people will line up for this pizza at 2pm the same as at 2am. They would serve this popular slice which was covered in chopped spinach, dotted with whole cloves of roasted garlic and heavy with large, rich dollops of ricotta. The combination was amazing. I haven't had a slice in half a decade and I am still craving it as I write this post. What to do when I get out to Brooklyn about once every 2 years? Well, I can stuff some homemade pasta with the same ingredients and smother them in a homemade marinara sauce to bring some of the magic to my own kitchen.

I used Chef Chiarello's recipe for pappardelle pasta dough, found here, although I tweaked it by adding an extra 1/3 cup of each flour. The dough was wetter, but also more forgiving than other doughs I've tried. We decided to split the dough in half and use half of it to make capellini, which was lovely with a garlic, olive oil, italian sausage and broccolini sauce. The other half made nearly 3 dozen 3.5" tortellonis, so if you use the whole pasta dough for tortellonis it should yield almost 6 dozen. That is hours and hours of pasta shaping. As it was it took me 3 hours to make 35 tortelloni.

Homemade stuffed pasta is not incredibly difficult to make, so much as it is time consuming. One thing to keep in mind when making tortelloni: dust everything with ample flour; I set my finished ones on a wax paper lined sheet tray dusted with plenty of both ap flour and semolina flour. Also, if you'd like to make your own sauteed, chopped spinach, start with 8 ounces baby spinach and wilt in a pan with about 1 Tablespoon olive oil for about 8 minutes, then allow to cool before wrapping in cheese cloth and squeezing moisture out (as much as possible).

I served mine with a homemade marinara.

Spinach, Ricotta and Roasted Garlic Stuffed Tortelloni

12 ounces pasta dough, rolled down to the 3 thickness setting on a pasta roller and cut into 3.5" circles, using a pint glass or other wide-mouth glass
8 ounces chopped baby spinach
5 ounces dry ricotta (try to get the kind with less whey)
Paste of 1 small head of roasted garlic
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. Mix together ricotta, spinach, roasted garlic paste, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside.
2. Form tortelloni: set 1/2 Teaspoon ricotta mixture in center of 3.5" circle. Then wipe the edges with water, to help them stick. Bring top and bottom of circle up together and join. Press the edges around the filling, so that the filling forms a bump in an otherwise half moon shape. Set the half moon on the table so the rounded edge is facing toward the top of your pastry board. Gently tug on the corners of each edge to stretch them out a little. Brush water on the inside of one corner and the outside of the other and join over the lump made by the filling. Press together well, then roll the extra edge of pasta down over the back of the lump (this might be clearer in the picture). Once all tortellonis are formed bring a pot of water to boil and salt it well. Cook the tortelloni to desired doneness. I cooked mine for about 7 or 8 minutes and they were just slightly al dente.
3. Serve in broth or topped with your favorite sauce.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Banana Bread Pudding with Caramel Bourbon Sauce

I've been away from my blog for too long. I've really missed sharing recipes with all of you, but I do have a good excuse: I've been planning a wedding. My wedding. A happy occasion and life-changing event. The big event is sort of the subject of today's post: love and commitment. For many of you, food equals love. I'll bet you guys have some great memories of meals cooked at home by a parent or spouse, served with a smile and very clearly prepared out of love. This stunning dessert requires several elements to come together to really make it shine. As the saying goes, the sum is greater than its parts. It takes work and the harmonious blending of ingredients and effort. Hmm...this is starting to sound familiar. ;)

The dense and moist consistency of banana bread, even stale banana bread softens the puddings and makes them more custard-y, as well as adding a depth of flavor from the cinnamon baked right in. Fabulously sweet and starchy bananas are a great compliment to the buttery caramel sauce. A slightly sweeter whisky, bourbon just completes the flavor profile and makes the pudding reminiscent of Southern bread puddings, which have a wonderful, whiskey-heavy sauce.

I made my own banana bread a couple of days before making my bread pudding, but you can absolutely use store bought.* Actually, I should say puddings, as I used a set of silicone baking cups to make individual versions. If you'd rather make one big version just use a 9 x 13" pan and lay the banana bread cubes in a single layer, the banana slices over top in a single layer, then another layer of cubes and just spread the egg mixture as evenly as possible over everything. An optional topping,  no matter how you bake it, is toasted walnuts. 

Banana Bread Pudding

1 loaf banana bread (from a standard 5 x 9" loaf pan), sliced 1" thick
2 large bananas, sliced thinly
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup half n half
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and toast sliced banana bread in the oven for about 25 minutes to make it stale. Cut the toast into cubes.
2. Turn the oven up to 350. Mix all ingredients except for the bananas and banana bread in a medium bowl. Assemble puddings: in each greased baking cup place a layer of bread cubes, packed as tightly as possible. Top with a layer of banana slices and then another layer of tightly packed banana bread cubes. Pour egg mixture over the top layer of bread and fill the cup up with the egg mixture up to about 1/4" below the top.
3. Bake assembled puddings until set, approximately 20 - 25 minutes. Pop out of baking cups and serve, drizzled with caramel.

Caramel Bourbon Sauce

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup half n half
4 Tablespoons salted butter
1 Tablespoon honey Bourbon
2 Tablespoons Bourbon

1. In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, melt butter. 
2. Whisk in half n half and sugar and cook for about 7 minutes, whisking gently the entire time.
3. Whisk in alcohol and cook while whisking another 3 minutes. Allow to cool somewhat before drizzling over puddings. The sauce is also great over ice cream. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and I welcome your feedback!

*I used Joy the Baker's recipe for Brown Butter Banana Bread, slightly tweaked (less sugar, and since I didn't have molasses, but I did have brown sugar, I added some of that in the molasses' stead) to account for the sugar in the custard:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Creamy Artichoke and Spinach Dip with Roasted Garlic and Asiago Cheese

Labor day is almost upon us! That American 3 day weekend that sort of symbolizes Summer's last hurrah. There are lots of Sunday and Monday barbecues this coming weekend, which inspired me to post a dip recipe I've had on the back burner (so to speak) for a while now. This is my version of a classic: spinach, artichoke, cheese and garlic dip. Of course classics are classic for a reason.

This is perfect to bring to a party, or to serve at your own! It's rich but not too decadent and best of all it is vegetarian! It's fairly easy to prepare, which is an additional bonus! The only potentially difficult thing is to roast your own garlic, but it's something I highly recommend, as it will really kick up the flavor of the dip! To roast the garlic preheat the oven to 400 and coat the inside of one muffin mold in a tin. Chop the tips off the head of garlic just enough that all of the clove tops are exposed, then brush the tops with olive oil. Put the garlic in the greased muffin mold, cover with tin foil and roast for 35 - 45 minutes, or until the garlic is squishy when prodded.

The pictures in the post are of the vessel it was cooked and served in: my Aunt Stacy's fabulous wedding gift, a hand thrown and glazed clay casserole dish! I thought it too lovely not to share. :)

Creamy Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Makes about 1 lb of dip

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cloves roasted or 3 cloves raw garlic
8 ounces chopped steamed spinach, excess water squeezed out
8 ounces preserved artichoke hearts, drained
4 ounces finely grated asiago cheese
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Separate the artichoke hearts' leaves from the hearts and set the hearts aside.
3. Toss the artichoke leaves into a blender or food processor with the softened cream cheese, spinach and garlic. Pulse in 3 second intervals until the mixture is smooth. You may have to scrape down the sides once or twice to get it to blend smoothly.
4. Transfer to your baking dish and fold in 3/4 of the grated asiago.
5. Mince the artichoke hearts and sprinkle over top. Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 10-20 minutes, checking every 10 minutes, until the cheese starts to turn golden.
Serve alongside chip or cracker of choice.

I hope enjoyed you this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Miso Brown Butter Cod en Papillote with Citrus and Haricot Verts

The inspiration for this dish came from a misunderstanding. Some time ago I attended a going away dinner at a Japanese Barbecue (yakiniku) restaurant. I had never tried yakiniku, although I've had the very similar Korean Barbecue many times. Late into the dinner came a number of foil wrapped packets. After cooking them over the coals for a few minutes, the packets were torn open to reveal flaky white-fleshed fish in a heavenly smelling burgandy colored sauce. The sauce was slightly sweet, sharply salty; it was wonderfully umami. I had to know what it was. Miso butter fish, was the reply I thought I heard in the crowded, popular restaurant and it set me to dreaming about mixing brown butter and miso to create my own version. As it turned out I misheard the name of the dish: it was actually miso and butterfish, a type of fish I'd never heard of.

Still, the combination got my creative juices flowing, and I decided to try the combination as part of a sauce for an en papillote (in a parchment envelope) preparation. Typically en papillote includes a vibrant green vegetable, and haricot verts immediately sprung to mind, as did grapefruit to complete the flavor profile. I added some mirin caramelized shallots and black pepper and I had a really delicious sauce. I served this with some miso mashed potatoes and it was delicious. And it was pretty easy to prepare. The filets are pictured with several slices of grapefruit, however to get the best flavor I recommend one.

Miso Brown Butter Cod en Papillote with Red Grapefruit and Haricot Verts

Serves 2

1 shallot, diced
2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons mirin (rice wine)
1/4 Teaspoon sesame oil
2 Tablespoons red or yellow miso
Juice of 1/2 red grapefruit
2 large slices red grapefruit
3 ounces haricot vert, cleaned and trimmed
2 filet of cod, each weighing about 5 - 6 ounces
Black Pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375, then make the sauce: melt butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Allow to darken slightly, then add shallots and sesame oil. Sautee over medium heat until shallots are caramelized. Add mirin to pan to deglaze and add pepper. Cook for 1 - 2 minutes more, then remove pan from heat. Add grapefruit juice, miso, 1/4 cup water and stir to dissolve miso. Set sauce aside.

2. Cut a large piece of parchment and lay cod in the center ladle sauce over fish to cover. Top fish with a single layer of green beans, then ladle a little more sauce over. Top with 1 slice ruby grapefruit.

3. Fold into an envelope: Hold the parchment on either side of the filet (it should lay in the center of the square of parchment) and join them together over top of the filet. Fold edges down toward fish approximately 1/2" and repeat 3 or so times to seal top of packet. Next, fold over the corners above the filet on either side to seal above the filet of fish and do the same to the corners below. As this is a difficult process to describe, I recommend looking up how to fold en papillote on youtube and looking at my photo for reference.

4. Bake for about 12 minutes, then plate up, crack open and enjoy. Serve with rice or starch of choice.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Cabernet Beef Stroganoff

Summer is upon us, and with the heat comes a hankering for lighter dishes. And yet this blog post is anything but; traditionally stewed beef smothered in a rich sauce made with tangy sour cream and meaty mushrooms, Beef Stroganoff is much more cold weather comfort than light summer fare. Where then, did the inspiration for this dish come from? Well, I wanted to contribute something of my culture on the blog, finally, and since my family on one side hails from Russia and Eastern Europe. I knew I had a few options. Borscht might have been the more summery choice, but I knew I could truly contribute something delicious with this boozy modern version of Beef Stroganoff. My version of this recipe includes a mushroom stock and red wine, as well as roasted mushrooms. My main beef with most mushroom dishes is that they just don't taste enough of mushroom; I wanted to make my Stroganoff as mushroomy as possible. Because the mushroom stock took hours I would suggest making the mushroom stock a weekend or perhaps a make ahead project, as my recipe made several times what I needed for the Stroganoff and it freezes very well in my ice cube trays, ready for my next mushroom recipe to give it a little boost. The mushroom stock is optional and can be replaced ounce for ounce by low sodium beef stock. The mushrooms can be roasted in advance, up to a day ahead. My suggestion is to not skip roasting the mushrooms, as this really gave the sauce and mushrooms a fabulous depth of flavor.

We enjoyed our Stroganoff over Pappardelle Noodles, but it would be equally delicious over gnocchi, mashed potatoes, or any other starch.

Cabernet Beef Stroganoff

Serves about 6

For the Mushroom Stock:

10 ounces mushrooms
3 stalks celery
1 small yellow onion
2 large carrots
1 shallot
2 - 3 outer leek leaves (I pulled these from my freezer bag filling up with veggie trimmings for vegetable stock)
1/2 dried chili pepper, seeds removed and ribs scraped out
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons olive oil

1. Roughly chop all ingredients, then sautee them in olive oil over a medium flame until tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Add 12 cups of water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to allow stock to simmer for 2 - 3 hours, or until liquid have been reduced by about half.

For the Beef Stroganoff:

1 1/2 lb. round or top roast, cut into 1" x 1 1/2" strips
1 cup to 1 1/4 cup mushroom stock or beef stock
1/2 cup sour cream
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 shallot, diced
1/4 cup sherry
1/2 cup cabernet
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves
16 ounces mushroom caps, roasted, then quartered*
4 Tblsp butter
2 1/2 Tblsp + 1/2 Teasp Olive Oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

This will make enough to cover about 1 lb of pasta noodles. I recommend a wide or chunky noodle.

1. If you are not starting out with pre-roasted mushrooms, get them into a preheated oven. Otherwise start with the next step.

2. In a saucepan over low heat, melt one Tblsp butter and add 1/2 Teasp olive oil. Stir in shallots, turn the heat up to medium and allow to caramelize for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in sherry to deglaze and get all those fabulous sugars up. Stir/scrape, then remove shallots from pan and set aside.

3. Turn the heat back down to low and form a roux: melt the remaining butter, then whisk in flour. Cook 2-5 minutes, until flour becomes a little bit darker.

4. Using the whisk to incorporate, add in 1/4 cup wine, thyme the stock and the tomato paste. Time to season! Add in salt and pepper to taste.
When the mixture forms a smooth gravy, remove pan from heat and set aside.

5. Put your pasta water up to boil and in a separate pan sear off the steak strips: bring the pan up to medium high heat and add the olive oil; when the olive oil is hot, add the steak pieces in a single layer. You will probably have to make two batches. No matter; line your cookie sheet with foil and allow the first batch to rest while you're making the second. To get rare steak sear the outsides on all sides for 1-2 minutes, or until browned. 3 minutes per side will produce something more like a medium steak.

6. Remember to add the pasta to the boiling water (and also stir occasionally) in the midst of all this searing! You may also have to drain it before you're done searing the steak if it finishes cooking before that time.

7. As your last batch of steak finishes searing, turn the heat on under your roux mixture. Re-introduce shallots and add in mushrooms.
Put the last of the steak aside to rest. Pour the excess oil from the steak pan. Deglaze with the remaining 1/4 cup of red wine and whisk red wine into sauce. Add sour cream to sauce and when it is just warmed through, remove from heat.
You are now ready to serve! Heap steak over your favorite starch and then sauce and enjoy!

*To roast mushrooms, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and lay in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet; roast at 425 for about 30 minutes

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Smoked Trout & Spring Onion Salad in Onigiri

These are a snack food which I learned of while browsing a Japanese market in New York City, looking for a quick easy to go snack. Once I'd realized the ease of basically taking a large one-piece sushi with me which was filled with a new set of fabulous, flavorful ingredients, I was hooked.

Onigiri, which literally means rice balls, are a popular, easy to eat on-the-go snack in Japan. The rice ball has an adorable triangular shape to make eating an onigiri an easier one-handed experience and they're often made with some kind of filling inside, although they are sometimes served plain, often after they've been grilled, which makes them yakionigiri. Popular ones include konbu (a type of seaweed), a delicious, light onigiri that as a bonus is vegetarian; mentaiko (seasoned cod roe)--I became quite fond of this flavor from the Japanese supermarket and I was always disappointed to find them out of stock; umeboshi (pickled plums) which I could never quite get the hang of, the flavor being too strong; sha-ke, grilled salmon, tasty of course; and tuna mayonnaise, my second favorite flavor after the flavored roe. I don't know if this is exactly traditional, but I make mine with sushi rice. And the filling I'll be sharing today is something that isn't quite traditional, it's more a twist on the idea of tuna mayonnaise: a smoky, rich smoked trout in mayo salad with delicate spring onions, which was heavily influenced by a fellow foodie friend's smoked trout mousse (my version uses mustard as opposed to horseradish and Mayonnaise as the creamy element, in the stead of creme fraiche). What gives it its twist is the spicy and acidic flavor of spicy brown mustard. This version of fish/mayonnaise salad is seriously tasty and you will likely find yourself with extra after making your onigiri. Spread it on crackers; use it to make tea sandwiches. It truly is rich and amazing.
I had a special mold to make my onigiri, but I'm told the technique becomes pretty easy with practice, and involves forming the points by cupping your hands and pressing the rice into the ridge formed in your palm. If you find yourself making onigiri as a snack pretty frequently, I'd highly suggest purchasing the mold as you can get a decent one for rather cheap on a site like amazon.

Smoked Trout & Spring Onion Salad in Onigiri

Makes 6 Onigiri*

For the sushi rice (to form into onigiri):

1 1/2 cups sushi rice
2 cups water
1 Tblsp mirin (rice wine)
2 Tblsp rice wine vinegar
1 Teaspoon neutral oil (such as vegetable or peanut)
1 Teaspoon soy sauce
2 pinches sugar
3 - 4 drops toasted sesame oil (optional)
4 sheets nori seaweed, cut into 3" wide strips

Optional garnish ideas: benishoga (julienned ginger pickled in shiso leaves), furikake (a sweet sesame/seaweed/salt dry condiment mix), toasted or black sesame seeds

For the smoked trout salad:

1 4 ounce tin smoked trout in oil, almost entirely drained
2 Teaspoons spicy brown mustard
1 - 2 Tblsp mayonnaise (depending upon taste)
pepper, to taste
4 spring onions, sliced (white parts only)

1. In heavy bottomed saucepan combine rice and water and bring to a boil.
2. When the water is boiling, cover the pan and turn heat down to lowest setting. Set a timer for the rice for 30 minutes.
3. While the rice is cooking use a fork to break up the trout fillets into small flakes. Mix in all other ingredients for salad, combine thoroughly and then cover and set in the refrigerator while the rice finishes cooking.
4. With the exception of the nori sheets, whisk together the rest of the ingredients for the sushi rice in a small bowl, heating the mix in the microwave in 10 second increments until the sugar is dissolved (shouldn't take more than 2 to 3 ten second long increments).
5. When the rice has been cooking for 30 minutes, remove from heat, but leave it covered. After 5 minutes fluff it with a rice paddle while slowly drizzling the warmed mixture together (vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, etc.).
6. When the rice has cooled completely, dampen your hands or mold and press half full with rice. Press tight. Fill with smoked trout mixture (about 2 Teasp each). Cover with the same amount of rice, then press together. If you are forming them by hand, now is the time to try your corner making technique.
7. Wrap each onigiri with a strip of nori and sprinkle with condiment of your choice.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*With Trout Salad leftover

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tomatillo Salsa

Imagine for a moment you are eating a perfectly prepared carnitas taco : rich pulled pork is made slightly crunchy by being deep fried; sweet and slightly spicy raw onions have been sprinkled liberally over top and together with thinly sliced radishes lend a crisp and refreshing snap to your food; completing the flavor profile is the soft, rich, fresh homemade corn tortilla, made irresistible by the soft, yielding texture of stone ground masa (corn) flour. The best prepared carnitas taco is nearly perfect on its own. I say nearly because one of my favorite combinations of flavors is to add something with a tart, acidic flavor to rich fatty meat; in my opinion it cuts the fattiness of the meat just enough to really compliment (in fact, a lot of Latin flavors depend upon this fatty meat and acid combination; one of the main reasons I suspect these dishes are so popular). Enter that most humble and yet quietly outstanding of condiments,  tomatillo salsa. Tomatillos are not related to tomatoes, even though they give the appearance in texture and shape and even in the seeds. They're actually a rather large and tart berry and they make some of the best salsa one can eat! The recipe is simple, but part of the fun is knowing what you can eat the salsa with. I recommend anything rich with animal fat, such as steak al pastor or carnitas. This salsa is also my favorite to eat with freshly made tortilla chips. Feel free to adjust the amount/type of hot pepper; I made this batch for my in laws to be, who have an extremely low spice tolerance, so I'd describe the spice level of this salsa to be mild.

Tomatillo Salsa

Makes about 6 ounces

3 tomatillos, husks removed & chopped roughly
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Small pinch of salt
1 cm green serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed
1/2 a small yellow onion, roughly chopped
5 sprigs cilantro, stem ends trimmed off

1. Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor. Pulse 10x for about 3 seconds each, or until all ingredients are smooth.
2. Serve with chips or main dish of choice.

If the salsa has been allowed to sit, mix gently before serving for best consistency.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Stay tuned for beef stroganoff toward the end of this week!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Elotes (Mexican Corn on the Cob)

Here's the thing about the way Mexican street vendors prepare the corn on the cob they sell in their carts: it may be one of the world's most delicious foods! Sweet corn becomes even sweeter when buttered and roasted on the grill; the cobs are then slathered with mayonnaise, drizzled with salty firm cotija cheese crumbles and dusted with cayenne powder. The sweet corn plays off of the rich mayonnaise and the heat from the cayenne as well as the briny cheese serves to heighten its richness. I like to sprinkle mine with bright, herbaceous cilantro leaves and often drizzle a little lime juice on them. This also works quite nicely as a rich salad, if you cut the corn off of the cob after roasting. We ate this with a homemade version of Mexican rice a garlic-y salad of gem lettuce and heirloom grape tomatoes and marinated grilled carne asada. Dessert was my grilled peaches over vanilla bean ice cream with a honey/spiced cognac sauce spiked with cloves.


4 ears corn, shucked
1 Tablespoon butter, softened
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
3 ounces cotija, crumbled
~1 Teaspoon cayenne powder, for sprinkling
(optional) 3 springs cilantro, minced
(optional) 4 lime wedges

1. Butter corn and place it on hot grill, right next to the hottest part.
2. Cover grill and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
3. Turn corn and cover. Cook for another 5 minutes.
4. Continue to turn and recover every 5 minutes until corn looks cooked (about 25 - 30 minutes) and has started to caramelize all over.
5. Remove corn from grill and allow to cool enough to handle.
6. When corn is still warm, cover all over in a thin layer of mayonnaise (it is easiest to do this by holding the corn ear vertically to apply the mayonnaise). Sprinkle with crumbled cotija and minced cilantro. Squeeze lime wedge on corn cob if desired.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Zucchini Cream Sauce with Marjoram

Let me preface this entry by saying that this is the first recipe I ever wrote, when I was 19 years old. As far as I can tell there is no dish exactly like it. It is surprising how fabulous slightly bitter and softly gritty zucchini squash tastes when combined with sweet caramelized onions and rich cream. Cook the squash long enough to melt into the sauce and sweat its sweet starch in and they'll coat the pasta and pack every bite with flavor. Earthy, slightly sweet marjoram (a member of the oregano family) really lift the dish from merely rich to complex and absolutely crave-able. Who knows, you may even make a zucchini convert with this sauce. I served it on freshly made fettuccine, but feel free to use the pasta of your choice. Also, this is a pasta that really pairs well with freshly grated parmesan, so don't skimp.

Herbed Zucchini Cream Sauce

Makes enough to cover 1 lb to 1.5 lbs pasta

3 large yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced thinly
3 large zucchini squash, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced thinly
1/2 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
4 large sprigs marjoram, leaves removed and stems discarded
1 large shallot, minced
2/3 cup heavy cream
3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 Teaspoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons sherry
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. Add olive oil to a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, then butter and when butter is melted add onion, shallots and a very small pinch of salt. Cook until onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add zucchini and yellow squash, marjoram, black pepper and sherry and saute until squash practically dissolves, about 25 - 30 minutes. You may want to turn down the heat a little if you notice the veggies or onions sticking too much to the bottom.
3. Add in cream and turn heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, until cream has absorbed the flavors and is no longer white, about 5 minutes.
4. Toss with prepared pasta and about 1/3 cup pasta cooking water. Top with freshly grated parmesan and garnish with a small sprig of marjoram.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Butter Beans Braised with Tomatoes, Celery & Parsley

I know, I know I do a lot of bean recipes, but that's probably because beans are as delicious as they are inexpensive, easy to prepare with flair and a nutritious staple. This recipe calls for a type of bean from a family that gets a bad rap: butter beans come from the lima bean family. Many a finicky eater has been begged to finish their lima beans, over protest. But butter beans are the larger, paler, more fluffy member of the family. Their slightly sweet flesh is thick and has a rich taste to it, so they are aptly named. Acidic fresh tomatoes offer a lovely compliment to the bean's rich taste, and herbaceous flat-leaf (Italian) parsley and perfectly bitter celery complete the flavor profile. The beans do take a long time to cook, but this recipe is healthy, cheap and so flavorful you will probably be able to convince that finicky eater. This would be perfect with couscous and some grilled trout or similar fish.

Butter Beans Braised with Tomatoes, Celery & Italian Parsley

Makes 8 - 10 large servings

1 lb. butter beans, cold soaked* 6 - 12 hours, then drained and rinsed
4 stalks celery, sliced into 1/2" pieces
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped roughly
3 Tablespoons olive oil
12 cups filtered water
1 lb. heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add celery, onion and parsley and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Add beans and water, turn heat up and bring to a boil.
3. Just as the water begins to boil turn heat down to a low simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, then add tomatoes, salt and pepper.
4. Continue to cook until beans are cooked through, roughly 30 minutes more. Check for doneness by tasting several beans and when several are soft they are cooked through. Serve accompanied by hot sauce or chili paste and garnished with roughly chopped flat leaf parsley leaves.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*More info about soaking and preparing butter beans can be found here:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Favorite Basic Burger

I'm posting this recipe for two reasons: one, I'm participating in a World Cup recipe event and in honor of the USA I present my favorite burger recipe; the other reason is the season: grilling! If you want to add some punch to your regular burger try this recipe. What differentiates it, I hear you asking? Well, herbaceous thyme elevates the flavor from plain old slab of ground beef to delicately seasoned easy gourmet. Grainy brown mustard lends a zesty kick and the perfect amount of acid to complement the fatty beef patties. And the "secret" ingredient, a flavor that compliments the smoky grill flavor? Sesame oil. I've tried these patties with sharp cheddar and they were delicious--I'm sure your favorite sharp cheese will be just as tasty on them! In the pic you can see my veggies grilling--onions and zucchinis.

My Favorite Burgers

Makes 8 small burgers (4 ounce) or 4 large burgers (8 ounce)

2 lbs. ground chuck or 85/15 grass fed ground beef
3 Tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1/2 Teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 Teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 Teaspoon thyme leaves
1/4 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4-8 buns (depending upon the size you make your burgers)

1. Pulse onion, thyme, oil and pepper in a blender until all ingredients are smooth.
2. In a large salad bowl, mix all ingredients.
3. Form into loose patties. Handling and/or packing the meat as little as possible will produce more juicy and tender burgers.
4. Grill over medium flame for 3-4 minutes per side for the small burgers and 5-6 minutes per side for large burgers (both cooking times are for well-done burgers).

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Vegetable Yakisoba

Yakisoba is a traditional Japanese dish, a version of Lo Mein using Soba, a buckwheat noodle. This recipe is strictly vegetarian, without any protein. Partly this is because I've only ever had yakisoba as a side for takoyaki. Partly because any stir-fry recipe is really just a jumping off point for you to tweak it to your own taste. This is a very easy dish to make.

At my local supermarket I found two of the three toppings that yakisoba is enjoyed with: furikake (sesame and nori seasoning blend) and beni shoga (ginger pickled with shiso leaves), but I couldn't locate any bonito flakes (dried shaved fish). I had to go to Whole Foods for the Soba noodles. What is so special about yakisoba? For one, the noodles, which are buckwheat noodles, lend a pleasing nutiness to the dish and an enjoyably gritty snap to the noodles. The sauce, a sweet and savory mix of sweet rice wine (mirin) and soy sauce is a great compliment to both the bright, mellow veggies and grainy buckwheat noodles. This pairs well with just about any protein: tofu or pork should be julienned, chicken and steak cut into bite-sized pieces, shrimp left whole and sausage crumbled. In every case except for the tofu, saute the protein first, then set it aside until the sauce has been poured over the finished stir-fry; reintroduce.


1 lb soba noodles
1/3 head of cabbage, shredded
2 small carrots, julienned
2 stalks of celery, julienned
1/2 onion cut into 1/2" ribbons

For the sauce:

1 Tablespoons neutral oil (like peanut or vegetable)
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 Teaspoons sugar
3 Tablespoons rice wine (mirin)
1/2 + 3 dashes soy sauce
1/4 Teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 Teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup water
1 heaping teaspoon corn starch, sifted

1. In a large pot of water, boil soba noodles until al dente. Drain and place on ice.
2. in a hot wok, stir-fry veggies for 3 - 4 minutes, or until they are starting to become tender. Add up to 3 dashes soy sauce to season veggies.
3. While veggies are cooking, combine all sauce ingredients except for corn starch. Cook over low heat until sugar is melted, then slowly whisk cornstarch in.
4. Add noodles to stir fry and cook until just warmed through. Add sauce to stir fry.

Serve topped with a sprinkling of furikake (or just nori and sesame seeds as an alternative) and a pinch of pickled ginger.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake w/ Lemon Cream Cheese Shortcake Biscuits

Boy oh boy it has been quite some time since I did a dessert post! Well, this dish was too lovely not to share, so here I present to you my twist on strawberry shortcake.

One of the best foods this time of year is berries. Summertime berries, particularly strawberries, are best cooked as little as possible. This recipe requires they be macerated, but they're otherwise left alone in their strawberry goodness. They're a lovely accompaniment to the rich and citrus-y cream cheese lemon shortbread biscuits. Completing the dish is some easy to whip up gin spiked whipped cream. I admit that these shortbread biscuits are quite decadent, but the dough freezes well, so there's no need to make them all at once. And biscuit sized shortcakes means smaller portions. Less guilt? Hopefully. Once you taste this version of the dessert I'm betting calories will be the last thing on your mind.

Strawberry Shortcake w/ Lemon Cream Cheese Biscuits

For the biscuits:

2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar + 1 Tablespoon for biscuit topping*
1 egg, beaten to a froth
1/2 cup butter
1/3 + 1 Tablespoon half n half
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 egg beaten for eggwash

For the whipped cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 ounce gin
1 teaspoon sugar, syrup or honey (optional)

For the strawberries:

1 pint strawberries, cleaned and sliced
juice of one orange
1 teaspoon sugar*

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar; set aside.
3. In a medium bowl add half n half to the frothy egg, then cream cheese. Beat gently until incorporated.
4. Fold butter into dry ingredients, then mix in wet ingredients until just combined.
5. Mix together strawberries, 1 teaspoon sugar and orange juice and set aside.
6. Combine heavy cream, gin and sugar in a bowl and beat with a whisk or hand mixer until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
7. form dough into a ball and turn it out onto floured work surface and pat out to roughly 2 1/2" thick. Cut into biscuits and lay out on a parchment lined cookie sheet with about 2" in between each biscuit. Brush tops with eggwash and sprinkle with sugar.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
9. Allow biscuits to cool for about 5 minutes. Remove whipped cream from refrigerator and whip briefly if it has lost some stiffness.
10. Cut biscuits in half and spread macerated strawberries over the inside. Add a layer of whipped cream and top with upper half of biscuit. Drizzle strawberry juice over biscuit and serve.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*I like to use evaporated cane juice sugar, the molasses content of which is like super light brown sugar, even lighter than turbinado sugar; for the biscuit topping

Friday, May 30, 2014

Tuscan Cannellini Bean Stew w/ Garlic and Parmesan Stock

The best recipes are as easy as they are delicious, utilizing the flavor inherent in great ingredients and fabulous taste combinations. This recipe is easy and fairly light, and translates easily into a vegetarian version by using vegetarian Parmesan.*

Creamy and slightly nutty Cannellini beans (a.k.a. great northern or white kidney beans) form the basis of a popular soup in Tuscany. The beans are complimented by vegetables, fresh herbs and most of all garlic. I have heard the story that it was made as a great way to soften up stale bread and when served over thick slices it makes a hearty, healthy, filling dinner. A few of the recipes for Tuscan Cannellini bean soup suggest using grated Parmesan. I suggest using the brilliant, authentically Italian trick of using Parmesan rind to flavor the broth. It really ramps up the flavor, slightly boosting the beans' nuttiness and adding a pleasantly salty richness. If you want to make a vegetarian version but can't get your hands on a vegetarian Parmesan cheese, swap out the water for low sodium or homemade vegetable broth. I served this stew ladled over crusty multigrain bread and alongside a version of my smoked trout & citrus vinaigrette salad .

Tuscan Cannellini Bean Stew

(Makes approx 6 servings)

2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced into roughly 1/2" pieces
2 carrots, scrubbed and sliced into 1/2" pieces
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
3 - 4 sprigs Italian (or flat) parsley, leaves and stems chopped finely
3 cups water
1 rind of a Parmesan wedge
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
6 thickly cut slices of bread of your choice

1. Set a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat and add olive oil and garlic and allow to marry, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
2. Turn up the heat and add parsley and all veggies and sautee for about 5 minutes. Stir frequently.
3. Add beans, butter, water and Parmesan rind and salt and pepper and bring to a lazy boil.
4. Continue to cook at just above a simmer (lazy boil) for about 35 to 45 minutes. As you stir, gently mash the beans with the back of the cooking spoon. This will help some of the bean paste to thicken the broth.
5. Slice stale bread or toast sliced fresh bread. Ladle stew over bread and serve.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*A quick internet search tells me that at least one big box store carries a brand of Parmesan made with vegetable rennet.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Pulled Pork Stew with Tomatoes, Wine and Leeks

This dish was inspired by question on a cooking forum I browse. A question about what to do with a wild boar roast (would that I could get my hands on that! But top loin of pork will have to suffice...) that inspired me to suggest a slow cooker stew over pasta with a broth of tomatoes and white wine, complimented by some type of allium flavor (the shallots, onions, garlic and leek family). Then I thought the idea sounded so tasty I'd have to try it for myself! I used my slow cooker to make this stew, but it is possible to make it in something like a dutch oven or stockpot, simmering over a low heat for a few hours. Some suggestions as to what to serve it over: fresh made wide noodle pasta, such as pappardelle or fettuccini. If you're feeling particularly ambitious this sauce would probably be fabulous with some homemade gnocchi.

Pulled Pork and White Wine Stew with Tomato and Leek Broth

(Makes enough to serve over 1 1/2 pounds of pasta)

2.5 lbs pork top loin
12 roma tomatoes, chopped roughly
1 1/2 to 2 leeks, well cleaned, trimmed and chopped into roughly 1/2" pieces
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
(optional) 1 Tablespoon buckwheat (or similarly dark) honey

1. Combine pork loin, tomatoes, leeks, wine, butter, salt and pepper in slow cooker or stew pot. If you're using a slow cooker, set it on low for 8 hours. If you're cooking it on the stovetop, bring to a boil, then turn heat down to the laziest simmer and set your timer for 4 1/2 hours.
2. When meat is fall-apart tender, remove meat and shred with a fork. Pour some broth into the shredded meat and set aside.
3. Transfer remaining broth, tomatoes and leeks into a saucepan to reduce the liquid. Cook on medium low, stirring occasionally, until the liquid had reduced by approximately 1/2.
4. Taste and adjust for seasonings. If the tomatoes are making the sauce too tart, drizzle (a little bit at a time) up to 1 Tablespoon buckwheat or wildflower honey.(optional:) puree sauce. If you are pureeing the sauce, return the sauce to the pan and add the pulled pork (if you're not pureeing, just add the meat when the liquid has been suitably reduced); heat on low flame until the meat has just been warmed up.
5. Ladle over pasta and enjoy. Parmesan and Italian parsley sprinkled over the finished dish taste wonderful.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*Cook pasta, especially fresh pasta, minutes before you intend to cover the pasta in sauce.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Teriyaki Turkey Burgers

This recipe makes some fantastic turkey burgers! Now, you can easily make your own teriyaki sauce for the recipe, but if you don't have the time store bought will do as a substitute. This is perfect for the meat-lover that is looking for a lighter burger. Salty and sweet teriyaki sauce lends the leaner meat a fabulous complexity of flavor. Umami indeed.

Teriyaki Turkey Burgers

Makes 8 - 10 burger patties

2.5 lbs. ground turkey
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
4 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup teriyaki
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. combine all ingredients in a big mixing bowl
2. Separate mixture in two equal parts. Each part will make 4 - 5 large patties.
3. Brush olive oil on grill grating and grill over medium flame for about 5 minutes per side. Make sure they are thoroughly cooked before taking them off of the flame.
4. Serve on burger buns with your favorite fixings.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Creamy Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Tzatziki Dressing

I don't know about you, but I love salads with creamy dressing. They are always rich-tasting and delicious. My only problem with most creamy salad dressings is that they pack so many calories they defeat the idea of a healthy salad. The perfect salad dressing, therefore, would be so rich, creamy and flavorful that it would be impossible to believe it's actually waist-line friendly. Not only does this dressing deliver, it is a perfect compliment to chopped cucumbers and sweet grape tomatoes. The tzatziki style dressing is heavy on garlic and dill, which also compliments. I recommend you serve this as a side dish alongside my Chicken Shawarma Skewers (, or any type of grill food, really.

Creamy Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Tzatziki Dressing

Makes about 8 salad bowl-sized servings

1 1/2 garden cucumbers, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt, to taste

For the Tzatziki Dressing

1 (8 oz) container 2% milkfat plain Greek yogurt
1 - 2 cloves garlic, peeled*
3 - 4 extra large sprigs of dill
juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Pulse dressing ingredients in a blender until the dressing is smooth throughout.
2. Together with cucumbers and tomatoes, toss dressing in a large salad bowl.
3. Serve as a starter or a side with Greek style grilled meat.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback

*I like it with 2 cloves, but this makes the garlic flavor quite strong and the salad a little spicy

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Chicken Shawarma Skewers

It's grilling season once again! These lemon-y, shawarma-spiced chicken skewers are flavorful and tender--perfect with fries or rice and a yogurt dressing. The skewers are more yakitori style than Greek kabob style and this makes them more moist. Best of all, it's an easy, healthy dinner on the grill with an easy cleanup!

Chicken Shawarma Skewers

2 chicken breasts (approximately 1 lb total)
4 chicken thighs, fat somewhat trimmed (approx. 1 lb total)
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 Teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 Teaspoon smoked paprika (sweet Hungarian paprika)
1/2 Teaspoon ginger powder
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
6 spice cloves, ground in the mortar
1/4 Teaspoon allspice
1/4 Teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. Soak 12 skewers in water.
2. Grate zest of 1/2 lemon into a flat-bottomed bowl or storage container.
3. Chop chicken into bite sized pieces and lay over lemon zest.
4. Add lemon juice, spices and olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
5. Allow to marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes while you build your coals.
6. Set 2 skewers vertical and parallel on a dinner plate with the pointed ends facing the ceiling. Add a piece of breast meat chicken, piercing the chicken with both skewers. Add another piece of breast meat and push down next to first piece. Keep adding pieces until the chicken covers the skewers from about 3" from the bottom and about 3" from the top (see photo). Now repeat the process with all thigh meat pieces. Continue until you have about 6 or so skewers.
7. Brush grill with olive oil and add chicken skewers. Cook over medium-high coals for 3 minutes on each side, then flip it over a third time and cook for another 3 minutes. You can check for doneness by peering in between the largest pieces on a skewer.
8. Serve on or off the skewers.

I served this dish with baked potato fries and a cucumber, grape tomato salad with a tzatziki salad dressing. Yum!

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Basil, My Grapefruitini, Please!

This post is a little...different. Different in that not only is this recipe easy, it requires absolutely *no cooking* and is a delicious, refreshing cocktail to beat the late spring, early summer heat. In fact, I'm sipping one occasionally as I type this!

Hopefully this works to cool you down, as well! This cocktail would probably be great with a lemon-y greek dish (or something with citrus flavors, like a simple lemon butter trout) and would also compliment a curry, particularly a coconut milk based Thai or Malaysian curry--particularly if made with Thai Basil.

Fizzy Basil Grapefruitini

(fills 2 6 ounce martini glasses)

Juice of one ruby red grapefruit

1/3 cup soda water

4 basil leaves, torn into large pieces

3 ounces gin

1/3 cup ice cubes

1. Add ice to your cocktail shaker and then scatter shredded basil over the ice. Using the handle of a wooden cook spoon, crush the basil gently into the ice.
2. When the basil smell starts to get strong and you begin to notice its liquorice scent, add all other ingredients.
3. Put the lid on the shaker and holding it down, shake to combine all ingredients. Count to five slowly as you shake.
4. Strain and serve with a basil bud and a little strip of grapefruit skin* as garnish.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*If you wish you use a grapefruit skin garnish remove a part of the skin with a vegetable peeler prior to squeezing it for juice. I noticed my edges were uneven, so I trimmed it with a paring knife.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Crunchy Fried Chickpeas with Garlic

On the face of it this dish is exceptionally simple. It only has five ingredients after all, and two of those are salt and pepper. And it is simple, but the reason I felt compelled to share is because they are just too delicious! Pan frying allows the chickpeas to form a crunchy crust and softens and fluffs the rich, nutty insides. Adding garlic and salt paste toward the end just absolutely perfects it and makes the chickpea insides taste kind of sweet. For this reason and because we can't get enough of them, my fiancee calls them candy. We never end up with leftovers, no matter how many times I've multiplied the recipe. In fact, I recommend doubling the recipe (seriously, there just never seem to be enough) and it multiplies beautifully, so long as you cook it in small enough batches to have a single layer at the bottom of the pan with space in between chickpeas.

Crispy Fried Chickpeas with Garlic

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed under cold running water and drained

1.5 Tablespoons olive oil*

1 clove of garlic

salt, to taste

black pepper to taste, freshly ground

1. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil enough to cover the bottom of the pan and slightly creep up the sides.

2. When the oil is so hot that a tiny bubble or two starts to form,** add the chickpeas.

3. Shake the pan over the heat to coat the chickpeas, then leave them alone for 3 minutes, to allow that side to sear. Shake the pan to turn the chickpeas to a new side for searing and leave the dish alone for 3 minutes. Repeat one or more times, until the outside of the chickpeas has turned a darker color and has started to look crispy all around.

4. When the chickpeas have about 3 minutes more, toss some salt on a salad plate to cover with a very thin layer and crush a garlic clove into a paste using the back of a spoon or fork and bracing the garlic with the salt. When the garlic has been mashed into tiny pieces and the salt is incorporated the paste is ready to add to the chickpeas.

5. When your timer set for 3 minutes goes off, turn off the heat under the chickpeas and scrape garlic paste into the pan with the chickpeas. Stir to incorporate. Let dish sit in still-hot pan for another minute, then move to serving dish.

6. Serve while still warm.

I served it alongside a lemon and butter roasted chicken, a butter lettuce salad with a garlic-y dressing and some long grain brown rice (not pictured, but it was yummy together).

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*Use enough to cover the bottom of your large saucepan. More may be needed. You want enough oil to pan fry in and get some crispiness creeping up along the sides of the beans

**I know olive oil has a low smoking point, but we're pan frying the chickpeas and olive oil is ok for pan frying.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bacon Fat Roasted Potato Chips w/ Blue Cheese, Bacon Bits & Spring Onions

Ahh, leftovers. After I made those yummy scones I had plenty of Gorgonzola and a few spring onions lying around. What to do with it? Well, I had two large russets and a hankering for chips and this recipe was born! I hit upon rendered bacon fat as a means to make the chips a little bit more decadent and also because hello, bacon!

Good things start with rendering the fat from bacon!

I'm once again including the photo of the finished chips (from last post) to remind my readers of the deliciousness!

Bacon Fat Roasted Potato Chips w/ Bacon, Scallions and Gorgonzola

2 medium russet potatoes, thinly sliced*
6 slices of bacon, chopped into 1/2" pieces
2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled finely
4 Spring onions, white & light green parts sliced finely
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In an 8" heavy bottomed skillet over medium-low heat, render bacon fat from chopped bacon.
2. Grease 2 cookie sheets with the bacon grease, lay potato slices singly in even layers. Brush bacon grease onto the tops of the potato slices.
3. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until edges start to brown just a bit.
4. In a bowl toss still-warm chips with black pepper.
5. Top with Gorgonzola, crispy bacon from the skillet and spring onions and serve.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*This is easiest with a madolin