Friday, January 30, 2009

Bánh Mì

My love for bánh mì and a marinade from Cooking Light, seen on Elizabeth's blog.

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound flank steak, trimmed
  • sliced fresh jalapeños, shredded carrots, and cilantro
  • baguette
  1. To prepare steak, combine first 6 ingredients in a large flat dish. Add steak; cover and marinate in refrigerator 20 minutes, turning occasionally.
  2. Prepare grill or broiler.

  3. Remove steak from refrigerator; discard marinade. Place steak on grill rack or broiler pan lightly coated with oil; cook until desired doneness.

  4. Slice steak against the grain; pile on baguette with veggies. Top with fish sauce or a combination of fish sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, lime juice, and sugar.

Notes: These were delicious, but I probably won't make them again. Why? Because we are lucky enough to be able to purchase bánh mì from many nearby Vietnamese-owned restaurants for about $2.50 each. If I didn't have that option, I would be making this often.

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

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sour Cream Halibut

Penzeys magazine: One

  • 1 c. white wine
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. halibut fillet, cut into 2-3 portions
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, divided
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • paprika

  1. Mix wine and salt; marinate fish for one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Dip fish pieces in 1/4 cup breadcrumbs. Place in greased baking dish.
  4. Mix together sour cream, mayonnaise, and onion. Spread over top of fish pieces and top with remaining breadcrumbs. Sprinkle with paprika.
  5. Bake until fish is flaky and opaque in center, about 20 minutes.

Notes: You'll either think this sounds good, or you won't. I am not really into creamy fish dishes, but this was pretty good. Next time I will reduce the amount of mayonnaise.

Liz's Rating: 8/10
Tim's Rating: 8.5/10

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Scallion-Chicken Noodles

What Did You Eat?

  • 1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 pound fresh Chinese noodles (or dry linguine)
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves

  1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the chicken thighs and bring back to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Drain the chicken and cut it into 1-inch pieces.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the noodles according to package directions until tender. Drain, shaking out the excess water.

  3. Wipe out the pot. Add the peanut oil and heat until shimmering. Add the scallions and ginger and cook over moderately low heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the noodles and chicken along with the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, tossing, until the noodles are coated and heated through, about 1 minute. Toss in the cilantro, transfer to bowls and serve.

Notes: Fast and easy! I didn't get a great photo, but I highly recommend this for a weeknight meal. I am sure it would be as tasty if you subbed pressed firm tofu for the chicken.

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

TWD: Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread

This week's TWD recipe was chosen by Heather of Sherry Trifle, who should post the recipe sometime today. You can also find it on page 212 of Dorie's book.

I had never made gingerbread before--I am not a huge fan of molasses, and I think that's why I didn't love this recipe. I must say the icing is amazing! I used an 8x11-inch pan, and the batter fit perfectly.

Liz's Rating: 7.5/10 (9.5/10 for the icing)
Tim's Rating: 8/10

Next week on TWD: World Peace Cookies

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Lemonade Award!

Many thanks to Uncanny for the Lemonade Award!Here are the rules:
  • Add the logo in your blog.
  • Add a link to the person who gave you the award.
  • Nominate 10 other (refreshing…like lemonade) blogs of your choice.
  • Don’t forget to add links to those blogs in yours.
  • Also leave a message for your nominees in their blogs, informing them about the award.

10 cooking blogs that are as refreshing as lemonade (in no particular order):

Two Peas and Their Pod: Maria has fabulous recipes!

Food alla Puttanesca: This couple seems to have the same taste in food as we do; I love her recipes.

Fresh from Cate's Kitchen: Watch this cook eat her way around Thailand as she lives there teaching English.

Cara's Cravings: Another great source for inventive recipes for the home cook!

It's Finally Happening: I love Erin's take on life in the Twin Cities, and she has great recipes too!

Eggs on Sunday: Tasty, healthy recipes that I love!

Good Things Catered: My favorite source for entertaining and menu ideas! I also enjoy her recipes with Lebanese influences.

Amber's Delectable Delights: The name says it all! She has a lot of great baking recipes.

Elizabeth's Edible Experience: I can't wait to try her champagne risotto recipe!

Taste and Tell: I have a ton of Deborah's recipes on my to-make list!

Squash with Mexican Flavors

Adapted from Emily's blog, originally from the cooking school Chez Cherie.

  • 4 cups butternut squash cubes
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • chili powder
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup spicy green salsa
  • 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen and thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Mexican-blend cheese

  1. Place the squash cubes and onion on a baking sheet, and season with salt, pepper and chili powder to taste.

  2. Drizzle with olive oil and roast until squash is tender, about 18-20 minutes.

  3. Toss roasted squash with drained beans, salsa, corn and cheese. Heat in a covered skillet until warmed through. Remove from heat, adjust seasonings to taste, sprinkle with cheese, and cover until cheese melts.

Notes: We really enjoyed this new flavor combination. We used Mrs. Renfro's Green Salsa, which is really spicy. We added some sour cream to counteract the heat and because sour cream is good!

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

Friday, January 23, 2009

Portobello Mushroom Fries

Big City Cooking

  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. panko bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Make assembly line with flour, eggs, and bread crumbs. Slice mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Dredge mushrooms in flour, eggs, and bread crumbs. Place on oiled pan.
  2. Drizzle with extra oil and put in oven and cook for 15-20 minutes.

These are best fresh out of the oven.I served these with my Tomato Basil Soup and a salad with a basic balsamic vinaigrette. They would also be delicious as an appetizer, served with a tomato-based dipping sauce.

Tim's Rating: 8/10
Liz's Rating: 8.5/10

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tomato Basil Soup

Tim's favorite Tomato Basil Soup, from D'Amico and Sons
This recipe adapted from

  • 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 14 ounces chicken or vegetable broth
  • 18 fresh basil leaves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk, half and half, or whipping cream
  • 3 to 8 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • grated or shredded Parmesan, for garnish

  1. In a large saucepan, bring the tomatoes and broth to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add basil and sugar. Reduce heat to low; stir in cream (or milk) and butter. Cook until butter is melted.

Notes: This is a fast and tasty recipe, perfect for a weeknight. You must use fresh basil. I favor San Marzano canned tomatoes, imported from Italy--I think they are worth the higher price.

It doesn't taste as good as that from D'Amico and Sons, but I was attempting to make it a little healthier, so I used whole milk instead of cream. I think if I used two cups of heavy cream, Tim wouldn't know the difference.

Tim's Rating: 9/10
Liz's Rating: 8.5/10

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pasta with Prosciutto and Peas

Everyday Food: Great Food Fast
and Celeste

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 12 ounces fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, thawed
  • 8 slices prosciutto (about 4 ounces total), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise,
  • about 1 cup
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot.
    Meanwhile, make sauce: In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat; add shallot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add cream, peas, and prosciutto; bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Simmer until peas are heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.

  2. Stir in lemon zest and juice. Pour sauce over pasta; add Parmesan, and season generously with salt and pepper. Add enough reserved pasta water to thin sauce as desired. Serve immediately; top with additional Parmesan, if desired.

Notes: I thought this was ok. Prosciutto, peas, cream, and pasta used to be my favorite pasta dish. I don't know why, but this wasn't anything too special. I did really enjoy the lemon zest, and the leftovers were surprisingly tasty the next day. It was a nice, quick weeknight meal. Serve with salad.

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Product Rave: Lindt Intense Orange Dark Chocolate

My friend Eric brought this over when he came to our fondue party, and I am addicted. I immediately bought three more bars. So good. I've never been so happy with a $3 purchase.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Off Week

I am skipping the Berry Surprise Cake this week. Luckily, we are allowed to skip up to two weeks/month, so I won't be kicked out my third week. :)

I have started the Wilton cake courses and am already making one cake/week. We have too much cake in our household!

I do look forward to trying this recipe in the future.

Please visit MaryAnn at Meet Me in the Kitchen for the Berry Surprise Cake recipe.

I will be making next week's recipe, Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lentil Goat Cheese Burgers

Cara's Cravings

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup dried lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon olive oi
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • whole grain rolls
  • lemon-shallot vinaigrette, or other sauce, and lettuce for serving

  1. Place first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until tender; drain. Discard bay leaf. Place lentils in a large bowl; partially mash with a fork. Cool slightly.
  2. Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 5 minutes or until tender. Cool slightly.
  3. Add onion mixture, cheese, and remaining ingredients to lentils; stir well to combine. Cover and chill 45 minutes.
  4. Divide mixture into 3-4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.Heat a grill pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Cook patties 5 minutes on each side or until done.

Notes: I *loved* these! I loved the flavor combination--thanks, Cara. Tim is not a big fan of goat cheese, so I made this for myself while he was gone. I kept half of the onion-lentil mixture out when mixing in the egg, breadcrumbs, and cheese. He ate it later as a salad and enjoyed it.

One more note: I obviously used yellow lentils. Don't be alarmed if you use green lentils and your burgers look totally different.

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

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tim Cooks: Sloppy Buffalo Joes

Rachael Ray

me: I think I have a recipe you might want to make for lunch.
Tim: Frozen pizza?
me: No, Sloppy Joes.
me: I know. These are a bit different. They are a buffalo chicken Sloppy Joe, from Rachael Ray.
Tim: Sigh. Do I have to listen to her yammering?
me: No, I printed out the recipe. I'll even chop the veggies.
Tim: Good.
me: :)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped or grated
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup hot sauce (recommended: Frank's Red Hot)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 8 good quality burger rolls, split and toasted
  • 1 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 2 large dill pickles, chopped

  1. Heat a large skillet with extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add meat and break it up with wooden spoon, cook 5 to 6 minutes. Add in carrots, celery, onions and garlic, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, cook 7 to 8 minutes more. In a bowl combine the vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire, hot sauce, tomato sauce and stock. Pour into the pan and stir to combine. Simmer a few minutes more. Pile sloppy Buffalo filling onto buns and top with blue cheese and chopped pickles.

Liz's Notes: We made a half recipe.
Tim's Notes: Add some Tabasco if you like spicy food.

Liz's Rating: 8.5/10
Tim's Rating: 9.5/10

And here's Tim's artistic shot:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Spicy" Chickpea Soup

Food & Wine

  • Two 19-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
  • One 13.5-ounce can light coconut milk
  • One 14.4-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup naturally sweetened apple juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced

  1. In a blender, combine the drained chickpeas with the coconut milk, chopped tomatoes, apple juice, cilantro leaves, garam masala and ground ginger and puree the mixture until smooth.
  2. Transfer the puree to a medium saucepan. Stir in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Season with salt and black pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, top with the yogurt and scallion greens and serve.

I didn't think this was spicy at all. There isn't anything spicy in the ingredient list. (?) Anyway, it was tasty, but the texture wasn't the best. I used my 11-cup food processor, and I exceeded the "maximum fill line" for liquids, so I caused a little bit of a mess. Don't make my mistake. :)

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

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chicken Biryani

Cooking Light

Notes: I have always wanted to make Biryani, and when I saw it in Cooking Light, I decided it was time. This was a pretty simple recipe and it smells and tastes great.

Tim's Rating: 8.5/10
Liz's Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TWD: Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins

A Tuesdays with Dorie recipe chosen by Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake and found on page 6 of Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

These were really, really good. A bit crumbly. I omitted the bell pepper and added extra corn. We enjoyed them with big bowls of Cumin Chili.
Tim's Rating: 9/10
Liz's Rating: 8.5/10

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fondue Party

My friend Lindsay is a real foodie. She's one of those super talented people that you can call up and ask her how to make something totally random, and she'll probably know. Check out her new blog and add it to your Google Reader. I am sure we will all get some great ideas from her.

Lindsay was lucky (and smart) enough to be temporarily relocated to Switzerland last summer for work. While there, she picked up a fondue pot. We finally got around to having a fondue party this past weekend, which was perfect for our subzero temperatures.

  • wine and beer
  • green salad with lemon-shallot vinaigrette
  • cheese fondue: emmental, gruyere, kirsch, white wine, and cornstarch
  • dipping items:
    • crusty bread
    • cornichons
    • pickled onions
    • boiled waxy potatoes
    • roasted Brussels sprouts
    • sliced Honeycrisp and Granny Smith apples
  • Meringues

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Spicy Black Bean Hummus

Maureen Redmond, featured in Cooking Light

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Dash of crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Dash of ground red pepper
  • Chips or veggies, for dipping

  1. Using a mini food processor, finely chop garlic. Add next six ingredients and pulse until hummus texture. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

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

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ham and Cheese on Rye Bread Salad

Food & Wine

  • 4 slices of seeded rye bread, cut into 1-by- 1/2-inch batons
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery (3 ribs)
  • 1 pound thickly sliced smoked ham, cut into 1-by- 1/2-inch batons
  • 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, coarsely shredded (2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup snipped chives

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring once, until lightly toasted. Let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the mustard with the mayonnaise and vinegar. Gradually whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and season with pepper. Add the celery, ham, cheese, chives and the rye bread croutons, toss well and serve.

Recipe Notes: In this fun take on the sandwich classic, Grace Parisi creates a delectable ham salad mixed with crunchy rye bread croutons and bits of Gruyère cheese, tossed in a mustardy dressing with celery and chives. She sometimes likes to wrap the bread salad in Bibb lettuce leaves for an inside-out sandwich.

My Notes: I loved the combination of flavors and textures, and it tasted different than anything I have had recently. Delicious. I used pumpernickel cocktail bread as I had some in the freezer. This tasted much better when the bread was still slightly warm from the oven; later, it was basically dry rye croutons.

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

Product Rave: Stonyfield Farms Organic Banilla Yogurt

Tim likes to mix this Banilla yogurt with blueberries and granola or bran flakes for breakfast every day.

I am one of those people who knows I should eat breakfast, but I am usually running out the door 5 minutes late every morning.

Since today is Saturday, and I received an immersion blender from my mom (thanks, Mom!) for Christmas, I made a smoothie for breakfast. I mixed about 1 cup of the Banilla Yogurt with some frozen mixed berries. Yum.

From Stonyfield Farms

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

TWD: French Pear Tart

My New Year's Resolutions are (1) to improve the quality of my baked goods that involve yeast and (2) to improve my pastries, cakes, and other desserts.

I have joined an online baking group, Tuesdays with Dorie, which bakes a recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan each Tuesday. I love, love this book. The group has decided to refrain from posting the recipes so that Dorie Greenspan's book sales do not suffer.

This week, Dorie Greenspan herself chose the French Pear Tart from pp. 368-369. This was my first tart, and I think it was a success, even though I had to use an 8" tart pan when the recipe called for a 9" pan.

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

Next Week with TWD: Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette

Food & Wine

  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. In a blender, combine the lemon zest and juice, shallots, mustard, vinegar and garlic and puree until smooth. With the machine on, slowly add the olive oil until emulsified. Pour the vinaigrette into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Recipe Notes: This vinaigrette is also great drizzled over grilled fish, chicken or vegetables.

Notes: I will be making this again and again. I can't wait to try it with cooked veggies, chicken or fish.

Tim's Rating: 9.5/10
Liz's Rating: 10/10
Brother-in-law Chris: "This tastes like it came from a restaurant!"

Thursday, January 1, 2009

NYE Wrap-Up

A successful dinner party...

It was much easier to cook the lobster tails than I had expected. I first "piggy backed" them, a few hours before our guests arrived. Later, I brushed the tails with a mixture of melted butter, paprika, garlic powder, and white pepper while baking at 400 degrees. I served it with lemon wedges and some of the above sauce. I would use this method again, but I would also try broiling to get the tops a little color. They tasted great.

I loved the mac and cheese. A total hit. I didn't take a photo, whoops.

I also loved the salad dressing, separate post to come.

The only thing that was so-so was the chocolate mousse, but then again I am not a huge fan of desserts anyway. We were also pretty full.

Here's to a happy and healthy 2009!