Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year's Eve Menu (edited)

We will be hosting a New Year's Eve dinner for four.


deleted: Crash Hot Potatoes (too heavy, especially with the Mac and Cheese)

Any suggestions for additions or deletions?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Spaghetti with Swiss Chard and Garlic Chips

Smitten Kitchen

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 2 pounds green Swiss chard, stems and center ribs finely chopped and leaves coarsely chopped separately
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, cut into slivers
  • 6 ounces feta, crumbled (1 1/2 cups)

  1. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer garlic with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

  2. Cook onion in oil remaining in skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add currants and cook, stirring, until plumped, about 1 minute.

  3. Stir chard stems into onion mixture with water and 3/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in chard leaves and cook, covered, until stems and leaves are tender, about 5 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 5 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water and drain spaghetti.

  5. Toss spaghetti with chard, olives, and 1/2 cup cooking water, adding more cooking water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with feta and garlic chips.

This made a lot. I should have cut it in half. It's really good!

Liz's Rating: 9/10
Tim's Rating: n/a

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Easy Eggs Benedict

This post on Weezer Monkey's blog had me craving Eggs Benedict. But it was freezing outside! I didn't want to leave the house. What's a cook to do? I dug through my refrigerator and pantry, headed to, and I found that I was able to whip them up at home.

Blender Hollandaise Sauce


Tim's Rating: 9/10
Liz's Rating: 9.5/10

Friday, December 26, 2008

Endives and Ham with Gruyére

Martha Stewart Living

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (from about 1/3 loaf ciabatta or sourdough bread, crusts removed)
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 Belgian endives, cored if desired
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces smoked ham, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup grated Gruyére cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for dish.

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Toss breadcrumbs with oil on a rimmed baking sheet, and spread into a single layer. Bake, stirring once, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool on sheet on a wire rack.
  2. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Arrange endives in dish, and sprinkle with sugar, rolling to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with parchment, then foil, and bake until tender, 35 to 45 minutes.
  3. Cut ham into 4-inch long strips, 1/4 inch wide. Scatter on top of endives, and sprinkle with thyme. Pour stock into dish, and sprinkle Gruyére on top. Top with breadcrumbs, and dot with butter.
  4. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and filling is bubbling, 18 to 22 minutes Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes:
Belgians eat endives au jambon in winter much as we do apple pie in fall. Although most Americans tend to think of endive as a snappy, tart salad green, baking mellows it, making it play nicely with other soothing flavors such as ham and Gruyére.

The texture of coarsely ground crumbs made from a chewy loaf is best for this dish, although store-bought breadcrumbs may be substituted. To make your own, pulse bread in a food processor or grate it on the largest holes of a box grater. To remove an endive's core, insert a paring knife at its base and cut around the core until it can be popped out.

My Notes:
I really enjoyed this! The flavors combined to make a rich, hearty dish without being heavy. I made the recipe through step 3 the night before, so it was easy to just bake it the next evening.

Tim's Rating: 8/10
Liz's Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Paella de Marisco

A cooking class taken in Barcelona over Christmas 2006

  • 8 prawns, shells on, deveined
  • 2 squids (or cuttlefish), in rings
  • 1 pound mussels
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed
  • 1 tomato, peeled, minced
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 pound arborio rice
  • 4 1/2 cups fish stock (I use Penzey's Seafood Soup Base)
  • 8-10 saffron threads

  1. Heat the oil in the pan and fry the prawns until slightly browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add the the tomato in the same hot oil and fry slightly. After some minutes, add chopped garlic and fry over medium heat.
  3. When the tomato starts to burn, stir in Linkthe squid and the clams and mussels.
  4. Stir in the stock and the saffron and bring it to a boil.
  5. Add the rice and distribute it evenly. Rice can’t be touched beyond this point!
  6. After some minutes add the prawns in a decorative pattern.
  7. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook for (+/-) 8 minutes, rotating and swirling the pan to distribute the heat evenly. Reduce heat to minimum and cook (+/-) 10 more minutes.
  8. Let it stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

Our cooking class instructor was from Valencia, the birthplace of Paella. There are many, many varieties of paella, but according to my research, this recipe is pretty authentic. Here is an article if you are interested in paella history and proper preparation.

I thought there were way too many mussels, so next time I will use 1/2 pound. I will also double the amount of saffron.

Tim's Rating: 8/10
Liz's Rating: 8/10 (has potential, but it's difficult to execute)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Indian Chickpeas and Spinach in a Tomato Cream Sauce

Savory Safari, adapted by Big City Cooking

  • Two cans chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed & drained
  • 1 ½ cups tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream, at room temperature
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • ½ Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Asian chili garlic sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. garam masala

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook 2-3 minutes. Add chickpeas and toast, stirring frequently, for another 2 minutes or so.
  2. Add tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Stir in all remaining spices and check seasoning, adding more of your favorite spices if desired.
  3. Whisk in cream and return to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently.
  4. Begin adding spinach in batches. Once all spinach is added, turn the heat down very low and cover. Simmer 5 minutes covered, and hold warm until ready to serve.

This was SO quick and easy and so good! I think we'll be making it often. It's a perfect winter weeknight meal.

Tim's Rating: 9.5/10
Liz's Rating: 9.5/10

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Reuben Dip

A recipe from a local cookbook

  • 1/3 pound deli corned beef, sliced into very thin strips
  • 1 can sauerkraut, drained
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup Thousand Island salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish, regular or creamy
  • cocktail rye bread, toasted

  1. Mix all ingredients and pour into pie plate or shallow baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees until bubbly. Serve with toasted cocktail rye bread.

Tim's Rating: 9/10
Liz's Rating: 8/10

Saturday, December 20, 2008


A trek around Munich and Salzburg in search of the best Glühwein with Tim's brother Mike during the winter holidays of 2007 (we were able to keep the mugs for an extra Euro or so)...
as well as
a recipe and wine from Liberty Vineyards, near my sister Ellen's home in upstate New York.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bottle red table wine
  • 1/2 orange, sliced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole cloves
  • dash nutmeg

  1. In medium pot, boil water. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Reduce heat and add remaining ingredients.
  2. Heat mulled wine for about 1/2 hour, making sure it does not boil. Stir occasionally.
  3. Once flavors have combined, strain wine into mugs or wine glasses and enjoy!

Tim's Rating: 10/10
Liz's Rating: 10/10

Friday, December 12, 2008

Braised Chicken with Lemon and Olives

Good Things Catered, which adapted a recipe from Williams-Sonoma

  • 8 mixed bone-in chicken pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 c. Chardonnay
  • 30 green olives, pitted
  • 1 lemon, sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 c. chicken stock
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbsp sifted flour

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large braiser over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until almost smoking. Working in batches, brown the chicken on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 seconds; do not allow it to burn.
  4. Add the Chardonnay and cook down, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the olives, lemon slices and bay leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the chicken is very tender, about 1 1⁄2 hours.
  8. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Remove chicken, lemon, and olives from the pan and place on serving platter.
  9. With braiser over medium high heat, add flour and whisk to combine. Cook to thicken, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.
  10. Pour thickened braising sauce over chicken and garnish with the parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

My Notes:
WOW! When I saw this recipe on Katie's blog, I knew I had to make it. I couldn't stop thinking about it, and I was so happy when it tasted just as I had imagined. I loved it. I used 5 chicken drumsticks, which are budget-friendly and cook faster. I only braised my chicken for about 45 minutes. Make sure you brown the chicken well in the second step.

Liz's Rating: 10/10
Tim's Rating: 8/10 (Tim didn't like green olives until about 2 weeks ago. I wasn't even going to have him try this, but he jumped right in and enjoyed it.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Reindeer Cookies

Taste of Home magazine

Prepare your favorite recipe for peanut butter cookie dough. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, flatten, and make an indentation so the cookie is a peanut shape. Use red M&Ms or red hots for the nose, chocolate chips for the eyes, and mini pretzels for the antlers. Do this BEFORE baking. (We found out the hard way, haha). Bake as instructed in your peanut butter cookie recipe. These need to cool a very long time so that the chocolate eyes harden.

How cute are they? I hope these are a hit at the cookie swap I am attending.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Coriander-Orange-Scented Red Lentil Soup

My new favorite cookbook: The Splendid Table's How to East Supper: Recipes, Stories, and Opinions from Public Radio's Award-Winning Food Show by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift

  • 1 small bunch (1-inch-diameter bouquet at stems) fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
  • Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, fine chopped
  • One 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and fine chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
  • Zest and juice of 1 medium orange
  • One 14-ounce can vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed and sorted
  • Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
  • 2/3 to 1 cup additional fresh orange juice

  1. Wash and dry the bunch of coriander. Cut off the bottom 2 to 3 inches of the stems and chop them fine. Set them aside. Coarse-chop half of the remaining coriander leaves, refrigerating the rest for another dish.
  2. Generously film the bottom of a 4-quart saucepan with olive oil and heat it over high heat. Stir in two-thirds of the onions, and season with salt and pepper. Saute until the onions begin to brown. Blend in the coriander stems, garlic, ginger, ground coriander seed, and the orange zest. Saute for about 20 seconds over high heat, or until fragrant. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Pour the broth, water, lentils, and remaining onions into the same saucepan. Bring to a gentle bubble, partially cover, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the lentils are nearly tender. Add the sautéed seasonings and additional salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot tightly and simmer for another 15 minutes to blend the flavors. (At this point the soup could be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen, and reheated.)
  4. Just before serving, stir in the juice from half a lemon, the juice of the zested orange, and the additional orange juice to taste, starting with 2/3 cup. You will probably want almost the entire cup of additional orange juice, but trust your own taste. Then sample the soup for salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and adjust them as needed.
  5. Scatter the coriander tops over the soup, and ladle it into deep bowls.

Recipe Notes:
  • Serves 2 to 3 as a main dish; 4 to 5 as a first course
  • 10 minutes prep time; 25 minutes stove time
  • If you use only one organic ingredient for this recipe, let it be the orange, since the peel is cooked into the dish.
  • The inspiration here is pure East India. India glorifies dried peas and lentils like no other place on Earth, and Indian meals often include a souplike dish called dal. Cooks there marry lentils and spices in a unique way with a technique you'll find yourself using in other dishes.
  • Since legumes are notorious for smothering flavors, Indian cooks sauté the seasonings separately, adding them toward the end of the cooking time to create bright, true tastes.

My Notes:
This was a little too orange-y for us, and I didn't even add the total amount of orange juice. I would try this again and mix up the proportions a bit. If you LOVE orange, this soup if for you. One nice thing about this recipe is it's really "fresh" tasting due to the citrus and cilantr0-- a nice thing during the cold winter days and nights.

Tim's Rating: 8/10
Liz's Rating: 7/10

Monday, December 8, 2008

Helen's Raspberry Chocolate Truffles

My friend Helen.

  • 1 box brownie mix, oil, and egg as needed for box instructions
  • 2 T Chambord raspberry liqueur
  • finely chopped toasted walnuts
  • candy papers

  1. Prepare brownies as instructed on box, and bake until brownies are just set but not crispy. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. When brownie mixture is cool enough to handle, scoop into large food processor and add liqueur. Pulse until fully mixed.
  3. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls, roll in finely chopped nuts, and place in candy wrappers.

Notes: So easy, and so tasty!

Liz's Rating: 8.5/10
Tim's Rating: 8.5/10

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Saltine Toffee Candy

Inspiration, Ingredients, and Instructions:

Notes: This is SO easy, and the best part is that if you line your cookie sheet with foil, you'll only dirty ONE dish. I'll be making this often!

Tim's Rating: 9/10
Liz's Rating: 8/10

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Product Rave: Trader Joe's Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta

My friend H. and I went shopping at Trader Joe's, and we both picked up this pasta. She made it before I did, and recommended serving shrimp on top. So, I blackened some shrimp (toss shelled shrimp in a mixture of flour, salt, cayenne, and black pepper and then pan fry) and served it on the pasta with a little lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

An extremely fast and tasty meal for a weeknight. If I had some fresh parsley, I would have sprinkled it on top.

Liz's Rating: 8.5/10
Tim's Rating: N/A

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo

Food and Wine

  • 3 1/4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds orecchiette
  • 2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (7 ounces)
  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the pork in a single layer and cook over moderately high heat until the pieces are golden brown all over, about 12 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook until softened and browned in spots, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a simmer. Add the red wine and thyme sprigs and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is very tender, about 2 hours.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork and vegetables to a food processor; discard the thyme sprigs. Pulse just until the pork is shredded. Scrape the shredded pork and vegetables back into the casserole. Stir in the chopped parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until it is still firm to the bite, about 5 minutes; drain well. Add the orecchiette to the casserole and toss with the pork sauce. Scrape the pasta into a very large baking dish and sprinkle all over with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake the casserole in the upper third of the oven for about 35 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling. Let the baked pasta stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes:
The pork sugo can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat before tossing with the orecchiette."

My Notes:
The photos do not capture the deliciousness of this dish. I highly recommend it.
I cut this recipe in half, and it still filled a 9x13 pyrex dish. This recipe takes a long time, because the pork braises for two hours. It is not a weeknight meal. However, it's perfect for a Sunday where you'll be watching football or baking Christmas cookies, because after the initial prep, it just simmers and smells yummy while you go about your day.

For those of you who are interested, here is an interesting article about sugo.
Tim's Rating: 9.5/10
Liz's Rating: 8.5/10

Me: "I would call this comfort food."
Tim: "Yes, I feel very comforted."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Milwaukee in a Bowl: Brat, Beer, and Cheese Soup

Bratwurst from the Farmer's Market and a recipe from the Penzey's spice catalog.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 12 ounces beer
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic power
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 cooked bratwurst, sliced

  1. In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium. Stir in carrot, celery and onion - cook until very tender, stirring often, about 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.

  2. Add potatoes, broth and beer - bring mixture to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season with garlic powder, mustard powder and cayenne pepper, along with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

  3. Meanwhile, fry the bratwurst slices until browned on both sides.

  4. Stir milk and Worcestershire into the soup. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the cheese until melted and smooth. Remove roughly 2 cups of vegetables, along with some of the liquid, and place into a food processor - process until smooth. Pour back into the soup and place pot back over low heat. Stir in cooked bratwurst - heat until the soup has warmed through, about 5 more minutes.

Recipe Notes:
"Milwaukee in a bowl. Our hometown is known for many things, but these three are our favorites, especially when they are combined in this heavenly soup. If you can't find brats in your area, you can use kielbasa, or even bacon."

My Notes:

Tim's Rating: 9.5/10 "The perfect food to have during a Packer game."
Liz's Rating: 9/10

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Report

A brief report on Thanksgiving:

The biggest surprise hit was the Cranberry Sauce with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds. Tim gave it a 10. I will definitely make it again next year.

The other dish given a 10 by my favorite taste tester: his mom's recipe for Scalloped Corn.

The Bacon and Herb Roast Turkey Breast was tasty. Other than needing to cook longer than stated in the recipe, it was easy to make. I would make it again. The Sausage Stuffing/Dressing was good, but nothing special. I still love it. Mom's Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, made with cream cheese, were yummy. I made Sautéed Kale but added a little too much salt (whoops).

I loved the Pumpkin Spice Cake and it was a nice alternative to pie. I will definitely make it again next year, for any fall occasion.

Oh, and both varieties of wine, Cristalino Cava Brut NV and Ravenswood 2006 Petit Sirah, were hits.

Siberian Pelmeni

The Amazing Race's pit stop in Moscow, Russia
Erin's suggestion of Pelmeni, which she had at our local restaurant Moscow on the Hill
The recipe below is very loosely based on this recipe from The Food Network.

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, divided
  • 2 ounces breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • gyoza or potsticker wrappers
  • 8 cups chicken broth, hot
  • very thinly sliced button mushrooms, to garnish (about 1/2-3/4 cup per person)

  1. Soak breadcrumbs in cream.
  2. Combine pork, 1/4 cup dill, egg, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add breadcrumb mixture and mix.
  3. Let sit up to 2 hours for flavors to combine (in refrigerator).
  4. Place 2 teaspoons of pork mixture in each gyoza wrapper, preparing 4 at a time. Wet the edges and seal in half-moon shapes. Set aside under plastic wrap as you make the other Pelmeni.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil.
  6. Boil Pelmeni for 7-10 minutes.
  7. Place 8-12 Pelmeni in a large soup bowl. Top with a few ladles of broth, chopped dill, sliced fresh mushrooms, and more pepper.

My Notes:
I don't think the original recipe was very authentic, and my alterations make it surely non-authentic, so we'll call these "Lazy Non-Authentic Siberian Pelmeni." We both enjoyed this dish. You must use fresh dill.

Tim's Rating: 9/10
Liz's Rating: 9/10

Next Week on The Amazing Race Season Finale: Oregon, USA.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving Menu

Happy Thanksgiving!

We will be hosting a simple Thanksgiving meal for four adults.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Enjoy the three Fs: family, food, and football!

White Bean Soup with Bacon and Herbs

Food & Wine

  • 1 1/4 pounds thick-sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 2 celery ribs, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
  • 1 pound Great Northern beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. In a large soup pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Drain, reserving the fat and bacon separately.
  2. Heat the olive oil in the soup pot. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf and 1 teaspoon each of the chopped thyme and rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the drained beans, stock and 3 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat and bring to a boil. Simmer the soup over moderately low heat until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the remaining thyme and rosemary. Season the soup with salt and pepper and transfer to shallow bowls. Garnish the soup with the bacon and serve.

Recipe Notes: "The soup and bacon can be refrigerated separately for up to 3 days. Recrisp the bacon before serving."

My Notes: This is a good, tasty soup. I think I prefer the recipe for Bean and Kale Soup, though. However, who doesn't love bacon? So next time I may try to combine these two recipes.

Liz's Rating: 8/10
Tim's Rating: 8/10

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Spicy Pork Po'Boys

Food & Wine

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 medium kosher dill pickles, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 small shallot, minced
  • Four 8-inch soft baguettes, split
  • 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce (I despise iceberg lettuce, so I substituted mixed greens.)
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Hot sauce, for serving

  1. Preheat a grill pan. In a large bowl, using your hands, mix the ground pork with the paprika, thyme, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Form the pork into twelve 1/2-inch-thick patties. Grill the pork patties over moderate heat, turning once, until they are cooked through, about 8 minutes total.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise with the Dijon mustard, pickles and shallot and season with salt and pepper. Spread the mayonnaise on both sides of the baguettes.
  3. Place 3 pork patties on the bottom of each baguette and top with the lettuce, tomato and a few splashes of hot sauce. Close the sandwiches and serve.

Food & Wine's
suggested beverage: "Juicy, blackberry-rich Southern Australian Shiraz: 2006 Jim Barry The Lodge Hill."

My Notes: This was really easy! The pork patties did not taste that much different than a spicy pork sausage blend, so you could buy bulk sausage if you want a super-quick dinner. Tim loved the sauce so much, he gave this recipe an 11 out of 10.

Liz's Rating: 9/10
Tim's Rating: 11/10

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Das Boot Fest

Need an idea for a fall party?

My friends C. & S. threw a fantastic fall party this past weekend: Das Boot Fall Fest 2008. As a houseguest, I was able to assist in the preparations and thought I would share them here!

Upon entering the party, guests were given their own "boot" The boots were conveniently attached to lanyards.
Stickers were available to decorate the boots (or anything else). C. is very crafty!

Guests were asked to wear boots on the invitation. They could wear any sort of boots-- cowboy boots, regular leather boots, snow boots, rain boots, colorful boots, and/or funny boots found at thrift stores. There was a huge range of boots. I wish I took more photos.

Even the smallest party guest wore boots! How cute is he?
Too bad he won't be able to fully partake until Das Boot Fest 2029!

Guests voted for winners in varying categories, and the winners took home German chocolate bars that C. and I bought at a local German deli.
On to the food:

  • beer
  • pretzel bar with varying types of pretzels (hard and soft) and flavored mustards
  • small sandwiches made from thinly-sliced grilled brats, Trader Joe's soft pretzel rolls, and spicy mustard (sauerkraut available on the side)
  • meatballs
  • spätzle, topped with carmelized onions and cheese and baked
  • dill dip with carrots and radishes
  • rye bread with butter
  • cheese platter
  • assorted desserts (brought by guests)
I didn't take a ton of photos of the food, but here are a few:

spätzle as found at a German deli:
spätzle and soft pretzels baking

crockpot for meatballs, open spot for the bratwurst sandwiches, bowl of sauerkraut, veggies and rye bread
pretzel bar!
I am already looking forward to Das Boot Fall Fest 2009!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Brown Rice and Broccoli Cheddar Pie

Everybody Likes Sandwiches
as well as broccoli, garlic, and onions from our CSA

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • salt & pepper
  • a couple dashes of hot sauce
  • 2 c leftover brown rice
  • 1/2 head of broccoli, cut into florets and stems chopped
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 T milk
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1/2 t dried basil
  • 3/4 c grated cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet (or any other oven-proof pan) and add garlic and onions, sauteing until soft. Add in rice and stir until heated and slightly toasted. Season with hot sauce and salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Flatten rice to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and set aside.

  2. Steam broccoli and remove from heat when the florets are bright green and semi-crisp. Drain and layer on top of rice. Beat eggs with milk, chili powder and basil. Pour over broccoli/rice and then sprinkle with grated cheese. Put in oven for 5 minutes on the centre rack. Put skillet in broiler and broil for 2-3 minutes until the cheese turns bubbly and slightly brown. Remove from oven and cut into wedges. Top with salsa and serve with a tangy green salad.
Notes: I liked the textures in this dish, and it was very easy to make!

Tim's Rating: 8/10
Liz's Rating: 8/10

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Kazakh Cooking

No matter how hard I try, I cannot find a recipe for Kazakh food that is a. appetizing or b. able to be made given my lack of a deep fryer.

All Kazakh recipes I've found involve either horse meat, sheep offal, or a deep fryer.

However, Kazakhs do supposedly eat naan. I've made it before- recipe here.

If you happen to know of a Kazakh recipe that I should try, please let me know!

Otherwise, stay tuned for next week, when The Amazing Race visits Russia.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Indian Split-Pea and Vegetable Soup

The Amazing Race's second pit stop in India
as well as a jalapeño and potatoes from our CSA
and this recipe from Food & Wine

  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 cup yellow or green split peas
  • 9 cups water, more if needed
  • 2 1-inch pieces fresh ginger, peeled, 1 piece chopped
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 pound boiling potatoes (about 3), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

  1. Remove the spinach from the freezer. In a medium saucepan, combine the split peas, 3 cups of the water, the unchopped piece of ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring frequently, until the split peas are tender, about 30 minutes. Add more water if necessary to keep the peas from sticking to the pan.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt the butter over moderately low heat. Stir in the chopped ginger, the jalapeño, turmeric, coriander, cumin, carrots, potatoes, and the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt. Add the remaining 6 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach and simmer 5 minutes longer.
  3. Remove the whole piece of ginger from the cooked split peas and then stir the split peas into the soup. Simmer the soup for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Food & Wine's suggested beverage: "A simple, straightforward, fruity Beaujolais will make a fine accompaniment to this soup. Its vivid cherry and berry flavors will contrast and highlight, not compete with, the earthiness of the dish."

My Notes:
I thought this soup was a bit thin, but the flavors were great. If I make this again, I'll use less water, maybe 2 cups less.

Liz's Rating: 8/10
Tim's Rating: TBD

Next Week on The Amazing Race: Kazakhstan

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Basmati-Rice Salad with Cauliflower and Potatoes

The Amazing Race's stop in New Delhi, India
as well as garlic and potatoes from our CSA
and this recipe from Food & Wine

  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 onions, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into small florets
  • 1 pound baking potatoes (about 2), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 tablespoons raisins
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cider or wine vinegar
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 scallions including green tops, chopped

Recipe Notes: "Garlic, fresh ginger, mustard, and a medley of spices spark the hallowed Indian combination--cauliflower, potatoes, and rice. Serve it at room temperature, either alone or with a simple side of sliced tomatoes."

Food & Wine's suggested beverage: "Basmati's spice and jasmine aromas suggest a floral Vouvray from France's Loire Valley. You'll need a demi-sec to stand up to the spices here."

My Notes: I really enjoy rice salads. This recipe was ok, it kind of grew on me while I was eating it. I loved the fresh ginger but thought the other spices weren't very prominent. Sorry I haven't posted in awhile, but I should be posting more regularly in the future.

Liz's Rating: 8/10
Tim's Rating: TBD

"Next week" on The Amazing Race: Old Delhi

Monday, October 27, 2008

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Sweet Tea in Texas
as well as cabbage and onions from our CSA

  • 12 Large Cabbage leaves

  • 1 lb Ground Pork

  • 1 Beaten Egg

  • 1/4 C Milk

  • 1/4 C finely chopped onion

  • 1 Tsp Salt

  • 1 Tsp pepper

  • 1 Tsp lemon pepper

  • 1 C Cooked Brown Rice

  • 1 8oz can of Tomato Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar

  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire

  1. Start by browning your ground turkey. Season your ground turkey as it browns with garlic salt & lemon pepper. When this is done, drain and set aside.

  2. Start water boiling in a large pot for your cabbage. The easiest way that I’ve found to get the leaves off is to submerge the whole head of cabbage for a couple of minutes and pull it out, taking as many leaves off as you can easily. Submerge again until you can pull a few more off. You want to keep the leaves as in tact as possible. Do this until you have about 12 whole leaves.

  3. In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, egg, milk, onion, spices, & rice. Mix well. Take about 1/4 C of this mix and put into the center of a leaf. Fold in the sides, then fold up the bottom until it looks like a little burrito. Place them seam side down in the Crockpot until you have gone through your leaves or ran out of stuffing.

  4. In another bowl, combine the tomato sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, & Worcestershire. Pour this over your little cabbage burritos and put the lid on the Crockpot. Cook these in the Crockpot on low for about 6 hours.

We both liked this recipe-- I think next time I will replace the lemon pepper with something else-- probably Penzeys Bavarian Seasoning or paprika or something similar. I replaced the ground turkey in the original recipe with ground pork, and I used brown rice.

Tim's Rating: 8/10
Liz's Rating: 8/10

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cambodian Chicken-and-Rice Soup with Shrimp

The Amazing Race's stop in Cambodia
as well as our trip there in March 2008
and this recipe from Food & Wine.

Tim and I have never been anywhere like Cambodia. In some ways, it is a total sensory overload-- the heat, the humidity, the bright sun, the sounds, the smells, the bright colors. The Khmer people are some of the nicest people we have met on our trips around the globe. I highly, highly recommend a trip to Cambodia for those of you who have not been. And while there, don't just visit Angkor Wat; try to get out into the communities and spend time with the Khmer people. You will have memories for a lifetime.We were excited to see The Amazing Race would be stopping in Cambodia this season. The racers retraced our steps just months after we left. Watching the episode, we easily recognized the tiny Siem Reap airport...

watched the racers take a traditional boat out on Tonle Sap lake that was just like the boat we hired,
relived being amazed by the poverty and the simplicity and the beauty of life on Tonle Sap,
and we were thrilled to see the clue box on the Tonle Sap lake overlook (here's a shot from that exact small platform). We loved watching the racers finish the detour that used these fish trapsand complete the "roadblock" at Angkor Wat (we thumped our chests in the same room), ...finally finishing up at the "pit stop" at Bayon.
OK, on to the recipe:

  • One 3-pound rotisserie chicken
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 cup cooked jasmine rice
  • 8 shelled and deveined medium shrimp, halved lengthwise (about 1/4 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1 Thai chile, thinly sliced
  • Lime wedges, for serving

  1. Cut the chicken into legs, thighs, breasts and wings. Cut each breast crosswise through the bones into 3 pieces. Remove the thigh bones and cut each thigh in half.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the ginger and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the stock, water, fish sauce, honey and rice and bring to a boil. Add the chicken pieces and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and cook just until opaque, about 1 minute. Stir in the lime juice, cilantro, basil and chile and serve right away, passing lime wedges at the table.

Food & Wine beverage suggestion: Citrusy, off-dry Australian Riesling: 2006 Banrock Station.

I thought this was just ok. I don't know what my problem is, because the three reviews on Food & Wine's website gave it 5 stars, and Tim loved it. Hmm. I personally prefer the Brazilian Shrimp Soup from a few weeks ago.

Liz's Rating: 8/10
Tim's Rating: 9.5/10 ("I like the peppers, the rotisserie chicken, and the overall flavor. And the lime.")

Next week on The Amazing Race: India! (Don't worry, we haven't been there, so I'll just focus on the food next week! :) )