Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I'm baaack...

Heya kiddies!

I know I've been gone a while but for those of you waiting with bated breath (LOL) I'll be posting again soon. Just had a lot of stuff I had to do for other people and whatnot.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lime Marinated Pork Tacos

I had gotten some boneless pork chops on sale the other day. I had only a vague idea what I was going to do with them. I started throwing things together for a marinade and this was the result. I thought it turned out surprisingly well and very close to taco truck fodder.

Lime Marinated Pork Tacos

1 1\4 pounds boneless center cut pork chops
juice of 3 limes
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1\2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1\2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbs minced garlic
taco sized flour tortillas
sour cream
salsa verde

Combine lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin and garlic in a zippable plastic bag. Squish ingredients together in the bag to distribute. Add pork chops and marinate at least 2 hours, turning frequently.

Heat a cast iron frying pan over medium heat. Add another tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Drain marinated pork pieces and sear, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and allow to sit at least 15 minutes before slicing thinly on the diagonal.

Assemble tacos by placing pork strips in the center of the tortilla and cover with salsa and sour cream.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons...

...make Lemon Curd!

I made an angel food cake from scratch last night. Now I have a dozen yolks to do something with. Lemon curd seems the perfect solution.

Lemon Curd
Recipe courtesy Mary Maher

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Combine 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of sugar, and the lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to boil over medium heat.
Blend egg yolks with remaining sugar in a medium bowl, using a whisk. Temper eggs by slowly adding 1/3 of the boiling mixture to the eggs, stirring constantly. Return egg mixture to saucepan, over low heat, and stir the mixture until it boils. Whisk in the lemon zest and remaining butter and remove from the heat.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I call BS on Sandra Lee having the slllllightest interest in helping people save time. In this video, wherein she makes a "Spring Picnic," she makes some salmon and cucumber sandwiches. I have say that these don't even sound bad, but this "time saving" recipe has you mix up a sandwich filling, then apply it to the inside of a sandwich with a star tip. WTF?? No one in a time crunch will bother, they will simply trowel the filling on the bread.

But wait! There's more!

She tops the slice and filling with cucumbers and a second piece of bread.Then, she uses a cookie cutter to cut the thing into a flower shape. And yes, She must -- must, I tell you -- use the star tip to dot little flowers with more pink filling. Doesn't everyone want to eat a sandwich that looks like a cookie but tastes like salmon and capers?

I ask again: Why is this woman on television?

This is how I would rework this sandwich:

8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 oz pepper smoked salmon, flaked
1 Tbs capers, finely chopped
1\2 cucumber, thinly sliced
4 green onions, thinly chopped, or snipped chives
bread of your choice

Combine cream cheese, capers, salmon and green onions. Spread on 1 piece of bread. Top with cucumber slices, then with a second piece of bread.

Do not bring pastry tips, star or otherwise, anywhere the prep area. Remove the crusts if you feel like being fancy.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Is it Spring Yet?


There are many things I love about the North West. The green, the water...the rain? Not so much. It seems as though it's rained every day since November. Will it stop long enough for my herb garden to sprout?

So, while I complain about the absence of dry, I think I'll snuggle up with a good book and a steaming bowl of my own soup. So much better than anything out of a can!

This is my version of Ellie Krieger's Beef Soup with Barley and Mushrooms in The Food You Crave.

1 lb chuck steak or stew meat, cut into 1\2 inch cubes
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
8 oz mushrooms (I used creminis), roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
8 c beef stock
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
1\2 c pearl barley
1\2 tsp dried thyme
olive oil
salt and pepper

Season meat with salt and pepper. Brown in olive oil and remove to a plate or bowl. Add another Tbs or so of olive oil and saute the onion and mushrooms for a few minutes, or until soft. Add carrots, celery and garlic and saute a few minutes more. Add tomatoes and stir to deglaze the pan. Sit in broth, barley and thyme.

Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook until the meat and barley are tender, about an hour. Season to taste.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"IThis cheese had the flavor of a prison riot.."

Over on the Salon Food page, Francis Lam has recently posted a witty take on the "joy" of fromage fort. Or maybe not.

I hate to admit this (as someone with a food-related blog) but I'm not really all that adventurous an eater. Although I've tried a lot of things that many other people wouldn't consider eating, I think Tony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern and Michael Ruhlman would be terribly disappointed to take me to dinner.

That being said, however, I don't care how damn much garlic you put on a snail, I'm not eating one. As a NW girl I've stepped barefoot on far too many slugs, and far too vividly remember that odd and disgusting combination of slime and crunch to want anything to do with gastropods on any level.

There are a good many cheeses I would not approach. Shortly after meeting Daniele and attempting to make the sort of food he hadn't had access to in years, I bought some proscuitto and gongonzola to make panini out of.

Let's just say I'd had a little too much chardonnay that evening. When I got up the next morning I checked in the fridge and saw a leftover sandwich. Thinking it was something my kid had made and then changed his mind on, I took a bite. The gagging stopped when I spit it out.

Daniele was puzzled. "But you ate it last night and said you liked it." Ahh, the amazing power of love. Or cheap wine from Ernest & Julioville.

"Jesus," I muttered rhetorically. "How drunk did I have to have to be to eat that?"

Something tells me that neither fromage fort nor gorgonzola and I have any possibility of a future together.

Curtis Stone

Not sure why, but his name barely registered when I hit a link to his rib recipe on AOL this morning. Ribs sounded good, in a rather primal carnivoreish kind of way. His recipe and the accompanying video seemed okay enough, but the one that really grabbed me was his Avocado-Tomato-Mozarella Panini with Pesto. Sort of a margherita pizza but with avocados added.

I will definitely have to make this.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

One From the Vaults

This is one of the very first recipes I ever wrote. I won't vouch for it at this point, because it's been more than 30 years since the last time I made it. The proportions sound about right, but since I don't bake like this anymore, who knows?

Punk's Impeachment Cake

2 c sugar
1 c butter or margarine, softened
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
1 1\2 c milk
4 c flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c chopped walnuts, if desired

Cream together sugar and butter or margarine. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time. Combine dry ingredients and add to the butter/egg mixture alternately with milk.Stir in nuts. Pour batter into a greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Allow cake to rest in the pan at least 15 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.

When completely cool, top with Chocolate Watergate Cover-up Sauce (alas, the recipe for the sauce has been lost to the sands of time. In its absence, top with ganache).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spaghetti with Salmon and Spinach

This is my variation on a recipe from Salon's recipe challenge The best recipes from your mothers.

Sueinaz wrote a charming story about cooking with her crotchety grandmother. I thought the recipe sounded fantastic, but my honey doesn't like shellfish of any stripe or spinach. I planned on using the spinach anyway, since I knew it would ne nothing like the spinach his (and my mother) used to make. It would be bright green and attractive. Unlike Sue's recipe, however, I used a bag of fresh baby spinach and therefore did not have to bother squeezing the water out. I just stemmed it and put it in the bottom of the colander. Worked like a charm.

This dish was easy, elegant, delicious and fairly healthy. It doesn't get any better than that, kids!

Spaghetti with Salmon and Spinach

8 oz spaghetti
1 lb skinned salmon fillet, cut into 4 portions
1 10 oz bag fresh baby spinach, stemmed (of course, if you love stems, leave 'em on. I don't)
1\2 c buttter (but realistically, you could get away with using half and I bet it would still be fantastic)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1\2 roasted red peppers, chopped
1\4 c white wine
1\4 chopped flat leaf parsley (basil would also work well)
salt and pepper

Heat a large port of salted water for pasta and add pasta when it boils. While the water heats, melt butter in a skillet. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and continue to cook another minute or so. Season salmon with salt and pepper on each side. Add salmon fillets to pan and cook 3 or so minutes on each side. Set aside. Place stemmed spinach in the bottom of a colander. When pasta is al dente drain over the spinach. Remove to a large serving dish and add lemon juice and zest and stir to combine. Add peppers.

To serve, place pasta mixture on a dish and place a fillet on top. Sprinkle a bit of the chopped parsley for garnish.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pasta Salad with Tuna, Tomato and Artichokes

It took a long time before it occurred to me to eat an artichoke and now I love them. One of my favorite take and bake pizza joints had a creamy garlic chicken pizza that featured artichokes, olives and a creamy white garlic sauce. I had to order it with the ‘chokes on the side because the kids didn’t care for them.
Not long after that epiphany I discovered the tuna/artichoke combination in panini and it quickly became another favorite. Last night I was craving those flavors but felt like something a little different. What I ended up doing was combining a couple of diced tomatoes (vine-ripened in your own back yard would really shine in this), sliced black olives, a couple cans of tuna, a small jar of marinated artichoke hearts adding it to some whole wheat penne. It was fantastic. 

Honey told me that I had made a Roman pasta salad without even realizing it. He said a dish like this would be eaten cold. I had it hot for dinner last night and cold this morning for breakfast and I thought it was fabulous both ways. It was quick, easy, delicious; light yet extremely satisfying.
I imagine that Italian tuna packed in olive oil would be fantastic too, but I’ve never seen it in any of the stores I normally shop at. Not even Trader Joe’s!

Pasta Salad with Tuna, Tomato and Artichokes
6 ounces whole wheat penne
2 6 ounce cans of oil-packed tuna, drained
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
3 tomatoes, diced
1\2 c sliced black olives
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 Tbs olive oil
1\2 c Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook penne according to package instructions.  As the pasta cooks, combine tuna, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Drain pasta and add to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Toss and grate cheese over the top.

I won't presume to tell you how many servings you'll have, but Daniele and I both had seconds and leftovers for breakfast.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fish Tacos with Black Beans, Avocado and Chipotle Cream

Okay, so I've never had commercially prepared fish tacos in all their batter-dipped, deep-fried glory. I love the idea of them but just haven't sought them out. And I rarely deep fry anything at home. My reason is that it makes a big mess that I'd rather not clean up and uses a ton of oil. (The Brat decided last Wednesday that I wasn't home soon enough to suit him and so he breaded some chicken and deep fried it using most of my brand new bottle of olive oil -- just wrong on so many levels).

This is my easier and healthier version than anything deep fried; the title is pretty much the directions.

Fish Tacos with Black Beans, Avocado and Chipotle Cream

For the Chipotle Cream:
2 chipotle peppers from a small can in adobo sauce, minced
1\2 c sour cream

Stir together and set aside.

For the fish:
1 lb tilapia fillets
3 limes
3 Tbs olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 avocados, diced
flour tortillas

Zest and juice the limes and place in a re-sealable plastic bag or flat dish. Add salt, pepper and olive oil and shake to combine. Add the fillets. Marinate for 30-60 minutes. Drain marinade. Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook the fillets approximately 3 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and flake.

To assemble: Warm tortillas and place some of the beans, flaked fish, avocado and chipotle cream. Wrap as for a burrito.

Variation: Should the avocado and sour cream be a little too creamy, feel free to substitute diced tomatoes for the avocado.

Serves 4.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Bread Machine is a Many-Spendoured Thang

It never would have occurred to me to get one but then my pal Margaret sent me my bread machine one year for my birthday. I went through an initial spate of bread-making, but that sort of slacked off when the first blush faded.

Then I hooked up with Daniele and he went rather nuts with it. He adores that thing and makes bread nearly every day. Everything he produces vanishes almost immediately. We bake so much bread that we've started buying flour in 25 pound bags and yeast by the pound. Even at this rate, neither lasts very long.

I don't really do that much whole wheat but may add it occasionally. Maybe it's just me, but when I do whole wheat it always comes out like a brick, even if I add more yeast (never acquired my grandmother's way with pie crust, either). I do like to use unbleached, however.

Here is our standard recipe, with handing tips for scrumptious focaccia. I used to bake a lot by hand, but having the machine speeds up the process so much that I rarely do it that way anymore. This recipe is written for using the machine. If anyone prefers to do it by hand, I can tweak it for that method.


1c water approximately 100-110 degrees (I find that 55 seconds in the microwave is exactly right)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs liquid fat of your choice (we mainly use olive oil, but one could just as easily use melted butter or margarine, vegetable oil, etc) 
3 cups of flour 
1 1\2 Tbs granular yeast
additional olive oil
kosher salt
1 Tbs or so chopped fresh rosemary leaves (take it easy, the stuff is delicious but pungent)

In the bread machine's mixer bowl, place water, salt, sugar, fat and flour. Sprinkle yeast evenly on top. Set machine to the dough setting and let 'er rip. When the dough cycle has completed (1 hour 20 minutes on our machine) shape as follows:

Pound the dough down a bit and knead, adding small amounts of flour as needed until not sticky and has a satiny feel. Coat a 15 x 10 baking sheet with olive oil. Spread dough out to cover the baking sheet. Pour a small amount (tablespoon or so) of olive oil over the top and spread over all with a pastry brush. With the top narrow end of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over the top. Sprinkle over the kosher salt and chopped rosemary. Allow dough to rise 30 minutes or so, until it seems somewhat puffy. Bake at 375 for approximately 20 minutes.

And since my pal from Salon, B&G, requested, here is the method for doing it by hand!

In a large bowl combine 1 cup of flour, the salt, sugar and yeast. Heat the water to the appropriate temperature  (check with a thermometer) and add fat. Add liquid to the flour, mix well. Add the remaining flour, a bit at a time, until the dough pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. Plop dough onto a clean floured surface and continue kneading and adding small amounts of flour until dough is smooth and elastic.

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Put in a warm, draft-free place until doubled -- about 1 1\2 hours. Return dough to a floured surface, punch down and knead again to remove air bubbles. place in prepared pan and shape as directed above.

Rachael Ray 2.0 (Yet More Food Network Propaganda)

Wow, yet another person who culls recipes from others and then publishes a cookbook. Puh-leeze. By the way, Katie, I notice none of those books on your shelf are of any particular heft.

Food Network proves once more that their channel is not about food or information, it's about a "personality" who translates well onto camera. For me, this simply translates into one more reason not to watch.

Apt comparisons to RR will be enumerated later. Looks as though she may be getting a bit long in the tooth for FN.

Although I will say that I'm glad it turns out "Lee" is her surname and not part of her given name. Phew.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I can't freaking believe it. My panini press has been stolen! We started keeping certain things likely to disappear in the bedroom. This was determined after losing items such as an Ipod, camera, cash, cigarettes. We kept the panini press in there because The Brat would use it and never clean it after he used it. So when I wanted to use it, it smelled disgusting and was filled with rotting cheese.

Anyhoo, we decided to keep it in the bedroom, along with saltines and a bag of sugar (diabetic boy doesn't need any of those).

The panini maker was being used quite a bit, so Honey decided to put it in the trunk of the car. Somehow, it has disappeared. WTF?? Who the hell is going to steal a sandwich press? I mean, if you're a tweaker looking for something to turn into cash,  why not also steal the jack that was worth more than the sandwich press?

OTOH, now I don't have to wash it any more.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Stuffed Chicken with Rosemary Polenta

I ran across this recipe in the current issue of Sunset magazine while waiting in line at the grocery store today. I think I have nearly everything I need to make it except the cheese and fresh spinach. LOL Honey tells me that Gouda is a perfectly acceptable substitute for Val d'Aosta fontina. Of course he also instructed me to make it with peppers instead of spinach. Ha!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Today's Egg-speriment

Lately we've been going through so many eggs that I have started getting them in boxes of 5 dozen. Between The Brat scrambling his eggs in sausage, omelets and frittati they don't really last all that long. This was today's effort.

My favorite bell peppers are the orange and yellow ones, but feel free to use whatever you like.  Some sausage would be pretty good in this, too.

Frittata with Mushroom, Tomato and Bell Peppers

1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs butter
1 smallish onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
4 oz sliced cremini mushrooms
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
1 large or 2 small Roma tomatoes, cored and chopped
8 eggs
splash of milk or cream
1\2 c grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
couple tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

Heat oven to 400. Heat a cast iron frying pan and add oil and butter. When the butter has melted add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat until onions become translucent. Add garlic and stir a bit. Add mushroom and add another tablespoon or so of butter if the pan looks dry. When the mushrooms are soft add the peppers and tomatoes. Continue to cook gently until all the vegetables are warmed through..

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk eggs and milk. Blend in the cheese. Pour on  top of the vegetables in the pan. Cook without stirring under low heat until it seems that the bottom is mostly set (top will still be runny). Place into the pre-heated oven and bake for 15 minutes or so, until the top is set. Sprinkle more grated Parmesan and parsley on top. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

6 servings

OMG I'm Mortified!

I just discovered that I spelled "frittata" wrong in my blog title.

*hanging head in shame*

Friday, February 26, 2010

How food television is changing America

How food television is changing America

Why in the name of bleeding Jesus do we need yet another food channel from Scripps, the people responsible for running Food Network into the ground? They have so little content as it is that shows are shown over and over and over.

My primary gripe with FN these days is that they have long since stopped being about information and became much more interested in "big personalities" and cleavage than actually imparting any knowledge. Their choice of on air "talent" (and I use the term ironically) tells the story. Look what they've done to Guy Fieri (nee Ferry), Paula Deen and so on. They no longer are themselves, they are overdrawn ridiculous cartoons of themselves.

One thing the data does not show is how many people are watching purely for the snark factor. I'll watch Sandra Lee occasionally because she's always good for an (unintentional) laugh. I'm never quite sure how ludicrous her next concoction will be. Let us never forget, though, that "cocktail time is the best time of the day!" It isn't for nothing that she is often referred to as "Aunt Drunky."

And Rachael Ray -- how many burgers does the world need? How many permutations of mac and cheese? How many classic deli sandwiches thrown into a pot of chicken stock for a "stoup?"

I've been so alienated by FN clearly  setting their sights on people who have yet to complete a middle school Home Ec lass that I doubt they could ever get me back for anything other than an occasional laugh at the misinformation and unsafe food handling they are modeling.

FN has one consideration for selecting their hosts and it has to do with marketing or endorsing products of which they will get a cut. They don't care in the slightest about imparting any actualy knowledge to their veiwers.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Spring is on the Way!

Yeah, yeah, I know. Record amounts of snowfall in the unlikeliest of places. So how do I know?

That's easy -- Safeway had asparagus on sale for $1.49 a pound yesterday. I love asparagus but don't usually buy it because it's one of those pesky green foods that no one but me will eat and out of season it's just too damned expensive. Anyway, I grabbed a bundle and began salivating as I pondered how best to cook my bounty.

I started with a recipe from the Italian Parmagiano-Reggiano  Commission and tweaked it a bit. I think that the earthiness of the mushrooms complements the asparagus very well, and the lemon contributes a tangy brightness that makes for a pleasant contrast. I offered Daniele a bite and he was careful to avoid any hint of green on the fork. Ha.

Here's what I did:

Asparagus with Mushrooms, Pine Nuts and Parmesan

2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 bundle fresh asparagus
8 oz Cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/4 c pine nuts
1/4 c chopped parsley
bread crumbs from 2 slices of bread (didn't measure but I'm guessing it was around 1/3 to 1/2 c)
shaved Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
juice and zest of 1 lemon

Melt butter in a skillet over low heat and add the onions. Season with some salt and pepper and cook until soft and transparent, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. While the onions are sweating, snap asparagus to determine where to cut off the stalk. Discard the bottom parts of the stalk and cut the rest into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Add the mushrooms, asparagus and pine nuts and continue cooking about 5 more minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Place on a serving dish and top with bread crumbs and shaved cheese.

Serves 4 as a side dish.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Angel Hair Pasta with Sausage, Shallot and Shroom

It gets a little tiring to constantly look for new and inventive ways to feed my men food that is good for them. They don't like onions, they don't like green things, they don't like seafood. Well, The Brat likes fish sticks, but that isn't really seafood, is it?

This is the pasta dish I made last night for dinner. The kid didn't touch it (he opted to nuke some Banquet frozen chicken), but Daniele had seconds.

Note regarding Parmagiano-Reggiano:
Many chefs specify Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese in their recipes. They claim that nothing else can come close to its nutty flavor. I'm not so sure about that. Call me a philistine but I've had the real P-R and I don't see that the taste really warrants the $35 per pound price tag -- not when there are many acceptable  alternatives that are far cheaper. My local Safeway has begun to carry a domestic parmesan cheese for $3.99 per pound. Since the mystyique of Parmagiano-Reggiano is essentially a marketing ploy developed by the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano, I don't feel any particular need to buy into it.

Angel Hair Pasta with Sausage, Shallot and Shroom

1 pound angel hair pasta (preferably whole wheat, but don't sweat if you can't find it)
8 ounces Italian sausage
6 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
2 Tbs butter, divided
3 cloves minced garlic
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/2 c flat leaf parsley, chopped
grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove sausage from casings and brown in a cast iron frying pan. Remove from pan and add half the butter and the shallots. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium low heat until soft, then add the garlic and shrooms. Add the other Tbs of butter if the pan seems dry. Continue to cook until golden and carmelized.

While the shallot mixture is carmelizing, put on a pot of salted water and allow it to come to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 5-6 minutes. Drain pasta reserving a cup or so of the water. Return pasta to the pot and stir in the sausage and shallots. Sprinkle the parsley and cheese over the top and toss to combine.

I am unsure how many servings this makes. I've had 3 so far and Daniele had 2. The Kid's friends had probably 3 more and we still have about half of it left.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

But it sounded good...

Really it did. There it was on the back of a box of kosher salt -- Rocco DiSpirito's recipe for chicken breasts with a pomegranate vinaigrette. I don't know, maybe the pomegranate reduction was just a bit too tart. Maybe my olive oil a little too fruity. But overall I have to say the the sauce, which was not cheap to make, BTW, did not add anything to the dish.

I think I may rework it at some point down the road. Perhaps with something citrusy.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sorry Forbes

But when you compile a list of the top 10 influential women chefs, and many of them are NOT chefs, let alone actual humans, you lose some credibility.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Love Leftovers

My honey Daniele is from Piemonte, Italy. It is a land of rugged farm people making their living at the foot of the Italian Alps. He is fond of telling the story of how a Scot, a Jew and a Genovese got together and discussed being parsimonious. When they saw how very frugal the Piemontese farmer was, they cried for they knew they could never compete.

In that spirit, then, is the recipe for the Spaghetti Pie I made last night out of leftover spaghetti sauce and noodles.

Spaghetti Pie

4 servings worth of leftover cooked spaghetti
3 c spaghetti sauce (I had about 3 cups left over because The Brat refused to eat the spaghetti when he saw that I put a chopped onion and sliced mushrooms in it)
8 ounces grated mozarella cheese
1\2 c grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs
3 stems fresh basil, leaves cut into chiffonade

Butter (or coat with olive oil)  the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish. Beat eggs lightly and add Parmesan cheese. Stir into pasta and then place in the baking dish. Place half of the grated mozzarella on top of the pasta.  Layer sauce on top of cheese. Sprinkle basil over all and top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or so, until the cheese is bubbing, golden and melty.Makes 9 servings.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Turkey Soup

Okay, wazzup with the men I live with? Vegetables are anathema. Which exxplains how it is that I made a bitchin' turkey noodle soup with my turkey carcass -- and no one ate any of it except moi. After about a week, I was well sick of it despite its inherent deliciousness. Tired of looking at the pot and attempting to imagine how long it would take me, by myself, to consume a gallon of it, I decided to bundle it up and take it to my mother's house.

I got over there, soup in arm, and told her she could freeze whatever didn't get eaten right away. Then she told me that earlier this week when she went to visit my aunt Sammie, she was also gifted with leftover turkey soup. She was gracious about it, however, and pretended to be pleased.

Turkey Noodle Soup

1 turkey carcass
2 onions, chopped
2 celery ribs (include leafy ends) chopped
1 16 ounce bag of frozen peas and carrots
8 oz pasta of your choice (I'm fond of multi-hued rotini)

Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the carcass. Place over high heat. Upon boilage, reduce heat to low and simmer until the bejesus is cooked out of the meat and it falls off the bone. Turn off heat and allow to cool.

Separate bones from skin and meat. I put the skin in one pile to go in the dog's dish and dispose of the bones. Puppy girl loves me now -- at least until her next bath or manicure. Place meat back in the cooking water and bring back to a simmer.

Place onions and celery in the pot.  About 15 minutes prior to serving, add pasta and peas and carrots.

Freeze leftovers.
Servings: small army

Sunday, January 17, 2010

More Rockin' Cookware!

Margaret has been my BFF since 1977. We met in college, when she was friends with my dorm roommate Martha. Martha took off for Seattle one weekend and didn't bother to tell her parents or anyone else where she was. Turned out that she suspected her boyfriend was dumping her and she was apparently stalking him. I guess when she learned that her parents had reported her missing and police interviewed all of us on her floor, Martha was too embarrassed to return to school and we never saw her again.

During her absence, Margaret and I walked over to the dining hall together. I was rather a loner in those days and it never occurred to me that I would be joined for dinner. We picked up our trays and went through the line. I headed for a table and was surprised to see that there was Margaret, placing her tray on the table across from me.

"Oh." I said. "I guess this means you're eating with me."
"Hmpf!," she replied. "I guess it does."

We've been best friends ever since.

I mention Margaret here because she thoughtfully sent me an Amazon gift card for Christmas. I decided that I was tired of using aluminum roasting pans for turkeys and whatnot and wanted something decent.

In a perfect world with unlimited resources I'd opt for something out of solid copper because it conducts heat so beautifully, or possibly compromise with the All-Clad, on sale for "only" $200. Or, given my previously stated fondness for Calphalon, theirs for a mere $127. However, it is not a perfect world, and even if I had all the money in it, I don't really think I could bear to throw it around.

Instead, I opted for a perfectly reasonable alternative, the Oneida roaster with a rack and non-stick finish, for less than $50. The pan arrived yesterday and is worlds away from the crummy foil pans. It is beautiful and durable and cleaned up very nicely.  I think I'll be using it for a long time to come. Its inaugural use was as follows:

8 skin on, bone-in chicken thighs
6 Roma tomatoes, innards removed and quartered vertically
3 smallish zucchini, cut approximately the same size as the tomatoes
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
3 largish cloves garlic, chopped
1 spring of fresh rosemary, chopped

Coat the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in pan and roast at 350 for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, place vegetables in a large bowl and coat with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Toss. Add to roasting pan with the chicken. Sprinkle rosemary over all. Roast for another 20 minutes.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Burger Bash Entry

Okay, I'm not entirely sure what possessed me. Maybe it was the thought that as a winner I would get airfare for 2 to Miami and last winter, when we had unseasonable amounts of snow and ice, and that sounded really attractive. Oh, if I'd won I had not the slightest intention of attending the SoBe Wine and Food Festival and cooking alongside Rachael Ray. No, I would have elected to spend my weekend on the beach soaking up some melanoma.

With that thought uppermost, I actually decided to devise a burger recipe for the much-hyped Burger Bash. Not that I think the world really needs another burger. Frankly I do not believe that one really needs more than a nicely grilled patty, salt and pepper, mayo, tomato, lettuce and a bun. My favorite was those slipping apart beauties at the now-defunct Portland restaurant Yaw's. But what the hey.

I didn't think my recipe was all that bad. A little different, a little weird, but it was surprisingly okay. The rules indicated that you were limited to 10 ingredients. If I had realized that salt and pepper didn't count, it would have turned out a bit differently.

What tortured amalgam of unlikely and seemingly incompatible foods could be thrown together ala Rach? Given her penchant for odd ethnic food pairings I finally hit on it: a cassoulet burger. But how could this complex, time-consuming dish be converted into a burger?

It wasn't really that much trouble. I googled many recipes and saw that the primary flavors were sausage and garlic. The Alsatian Cassoulet recipe I used as a starting point featured cabbage, apples, shallots and beer. In view of the 10 ingredient rule, including garnish, the most challenging aspect was to capture the essential flavors without going over the allowed number of ingredients.

I ended up with what I called the Aslatian Cassoulet Burger. Despite my best efforts to create something that looked as if it had been pulled straight out of the culinarily-warped mind of Rachael Ray the recipe wasn't half bad. Tasty, even. It included a patty made from turkey sausage and a topping made of shallots, sliced tart apple, vinegar and canned white beans.

The day for notification of winninghood came and went without me hearing that the judging panel adored my recipe and couldn't wait for me to go cook it alongside Rach. Can't really say that I was either surprised or disappointed, as I couldn't quite picture myself performing the requisite tongue-biting and brown-nosing that would be necessary in order to follow through with the ordeal.

However, many an eyebrow was raised around here when a very similar recipe  turned up on one of RR's sites. I couldn't exactly say that she ripped me off, especially since she left out poor old Granny Smith, but one is nonetheless left with an impression that this "contest," if not fixed, was promoted mainly to provide RR with ideas, of which a dearth burgeons daily. Harumpf!

At any rate, since Roachie-poo won't be featuring my recipe in her eponymous rag and I have not released copyright to it, here it is! Of course, it isn't exactly swimming in oil and cheese like your standard Rachipe, but it is different, creatively used the allowed number of items, was filling, high protein and low fat. Oh, no wonder it didn't win.

Alsatian Cassoulet Burgers
1 ½ lbs turkey sausage
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 large tart apple such as Granny Smith or Gravenstein, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 ½ c beef stock, dry white wine or beer
1 15 oz can of navy or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
¼ c cider vinegar
4 crushed wheat hamburger buns, toasted

Combine sausage and garlic and shape into 4 equal patties. Refrigerate until ready to cook. 

Heat vegetable oil in a medium sized skillet. When hot, add onions and apples. Sauté a few minutes and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, approximately 10 minutes. Raise heat to medium high, then deglaze the pan with the stock, wine or beer. Bring to a boil and add beans and cider vinegar. Lower heat to medium and cook until liquid is nearly all gone, about another 10 minutes. 

While the apple mixture is reducing, fry sausage patties in a cast iron pan. Cook until juices run clear, 5-6 minutes per side. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels, if necessary. Place on bottom half of bun. Top with apple mixture and bun top.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

No Food Network!!! How Will I Livvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvve????


Um, sorry, but if some people cannot live without a thousandth repeat of Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee doing stuff that wasn't appetizing in the first place. why don't they just kill themselves now?

Seriously. Put yourselves out of your misery. Food Network has nothing of value in the first place (perhaps, once upon a time they did, but those days are long gone), let alone content that's worth double what they charged Cablevision in the past.

I admit I used to watch Alton Brown on Good Eats whenever I could because I loved the way he made the science aspect of food fun and approachable. Alas, now I have grown a bit weary of his shtick.

And I used to watch Giada de Laurentiis because her food looked appetizing, simple and easy to prepare. I've made several of her recipes and all were a hit at home. But when I read an interview with her where she dissed her colleagues as "boring" and said that "sexiness and sensuality" were what she "brought to the table," she lost me. Honey if I want to look at cleavage all I need to do is look down. No TeeVee required.

Word to Food Network: stop with the foodgasms already.