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