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