Monday, December 21, 2009

Banh Mi: Vietnamese Pork Meatball Subs

I saw this pork meatball banh mi recipe in Bon Appetit's January issue and knew I had to make it... banh mi are (is?) basically Vietnamese grinders/hoagies/subs/what have you.
Conveniently, the CSA had the carrots and daikon radishes (which look eerily like my nemesis, the parsnip) that make up the slaw that the recipe uses to compliment the meatballs. Also, it calls for plenty of everybody's favorite spicy sauce, Sriracha.

If you dig on swine, I highly recommend you give this recipe a try... the recipe really made only enough meatballs for 4 sandwiches, but it made a ton of the carrot/daikon slaw, more than necessary.

Wedding Jewels

Chuck wore this multi-colored pearl necklace to a wedding (a wedding for which she braved the great snowpocalypse of Aught Nine):
This swarovski crystal one she'll be wearing on New Year's Eve for yet another wedding:

Broccoli Pesto: Meh

Hmmm... I wanted to like this broccoli pesto. It had all of my favorite stinky foods- broccoli, olives, garlic, goat cheese- yet I was not a fan for some reason. It was kinda thick and overwhelming... not enough variation in texture, perhaps?
Chuck totally wasn't fooled by the fact that the olives were all chopped up, either. She hated it. Oh well.

Pineapple Empanadas

Amy left us with a bevy of hand-me-down food when she departed for sunnny Sydney, including some freshly cut pineapple. Chuck doesn't really care for pineapple, so I tried to find a way to use up the pineapple that she could tolerate. Some empanada-like pastries sounded good...
These empanadas use a cream cheese crust, which was simple and pretty good. For the filling, I mixed the diced pineapple with a little bit of brown sugar... in retrospect, I think it could have used some additional spice- cinnamon? cardamom? I drizzled a basic powdered sugar and milk glaze on them after they came out of the oven.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cookie Extravaganza, Part Deux

A second Christmas cookie extravaganza, this time in preparation for my office's pot-luck Christmas dessert party.
This time I limited myself to two kinds of cookies, both of which were simple drop cookies, since I was cooking on a weeknight:
1. I resurrected the chewy ginger cookies from the first cookie extravaganza since they were so good.

2. I also tried out these peanut butter blossom cookies, although I substituted milk chocolate chips for the requisite Hershey's kisses.


Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatos and Kale

Chuck made this recipe on her day off. Good flavors, although texturally a little bit of a mushy one-note. SmittenKitchen is definitely right though: not pretty to look at!

I think we're a little tapped out after three days in a row of healthy legumes and grains and such. Nurse, bacon and cheese, stat!

Moroccan-spiced Stuffed Squash

Using this recipe as a basis, I stuffed some delicata squashes with a ground beef and bulgur wheat mixture seasoned with fresh parsley, cinnamon, nutmeg, smoked paprika, minced apricots and toasted pine nuts. Pretty good!
I ate the leftover stuffing the following day for lunch with some pita chips- yum.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mushroom Barley Soup with Kale

Saw this recipe for a healthy mushroom barley soup with kale in the New York Times, and went for it. Pretty tasty! Making the mushroom 'stock' by reconstituting dried mushrooms in some boiling water made it really meaty tasting and hearty, despite the fact that it's vegetarian. I think throwing the parmesan rind in there as it simmers is essential, too.
I served it with grated parmesan on top and homemade whole wheat rolls using the basic dough from Healthy Breads in 5 Minutes a Day.
Please don't read anything into the fact that every time I tried to write "barley soup," I wrote "barely soup."

Necklace and Earring Set for Amy

Gold chain, deep gold glass pearls... perfect for wearing to a job interview in Australia.

Lemon Chicken

Chuck, the chef de cuisine for this particular chicken recipe, says "It's easy to make and tastes good, but nothing special. Not a 'wow'"

I'd say it's a decent week day main dish that uses pantry staples.

Pavlova Magic!

In honor of Amy's last DC meal, and to steel her for the barrage of Aussie delights she'll be eating at her first Australian Christmas, I made a pavlova topped with passion fruit puree and sliced strawberries.
A pavlova (or "pav") is basically a giant meringue- egg whites and sugar- all poofed up and slowly cooked to make a crackly mound with a soft, marshmallow-esque center. The tartness of the passion fruit puree really compliments the sugary meringue.
I could have made the pavlova from scratch- it seems pretty easy- but Amy had given me a container of an Aussie pav shortcut: Pavlova Magic, the equivalent of American boxed cake mix. It was pretty foolproof, if not magical, once the internets converted the directions from Celsius to Fahrenheit for me.

The best part about Pavlova Magic, though, is that it comes in this weird egg-shaped packaging. It's like all of the '80s era L'eggs pantyhose packaging died and went to Australia to be reincarnated as Pavlova Magic containers:

Ina's Lemon Fusilli with Broccoli and Arugula

About 5 heads of broccoli, a bunch of arugula, and a whole bag of lemons were crowding up the fridge, so I chased down this well-reviewed Ina Garten recipe that included all of those ingredients and put it to work.

Ina's pasta salad was really good, although probably not an everyday meal since it had so much cream in it. The creamy lemon sauce was simple, but really flavorful.

Whole-Wheat Crust Pizza with Arugula, Prosciutto, Tomato and Mozzerella

Made these tasty arugula and prosciutto pizzas last week using the basic whole wheat dough from Healthy Breads in Five Minutes a Day... tasty, although a little poofier than I would have liked. I think I didn't preheat the pizza stone long enough because I was in a hurry.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Parmesan Polenta (with sausage and tomatoes)

I tried my hand at making polenta again, this time with delicious results. 4 ingredients, totally simple, but super creamy. I recommend using a whisk, not a fork as recommended by the recipe.
Served with Italian sausage cooked with garlic, dried basil, a can of diced tomatoes, fresh parsley.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Roasted Vegetables with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Martha and Andrea cooked this recipe from the November issue of Martha Stewart Living a couple weeks ago and gave it two (four?) thumbs up... I don't think Martha Stewart has posted the recipe online yet, but I found this blog that had done a version of it. We had sweet potatoes and Romanesco cauliflower from the CSA, and some uncooked Brussel sprouts left over from Thanksgiving, so we gave it a try. Chuck had the day off, so she rocked the recipe.
Delicious! The pomegranate flavor compliments, but doesn't overwhelm the veggie flavors. Plus, the recipe is beautiful: great array of colors, and the Romanesco cauliflower is pretty much the coolest looking vegetable ever. I love the bright green color, and the shape is amazing. Natural geometry.... Wikipedia tells me it's a logarithmic spiral. Awesome.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Amy's Fresno Chicken Enchiladas

Amy came over and cooked us Fresno-style enchiladas tonight... fabulous. These were so good.

Served with pinto beans and a corn/red pepper salad.
Todd's Enchiladas (in Amy's words)


oil (vegetable or olive oil)
1 med-large onion (white or yellow)
2 cloves garlic
4 tbsp. flour
4 c. chicken broth
8+ tbsp. chile powder
1+ tbsp. cumin
1+ tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2-1 c. tomato sauce (or half can 8 oz. tomato paste)
salt/pepper to taste

1 broiler chicken (5-6 lbs.) (baked or boiled)
Mexican crema (not Salvadoran or Guatemalan!) or sour cream
1 small can diced green chiles (drained) (optional)
1 package shredded cheese (spicy/Mexican flavors best or Monterey Jack)
salt/pepper to taste
optional flavors: dried oregano or fresh cilantro

1 package large flour tortillas
1 package shredded cheese
optional additional toppings: sliced black olives, diced green chiles, crema/sour cream (post-oven), what ever else sounds good!

1. Shred chicken and mix with green chiles, crema until wet, a sprinkle of smoked paprika and cumin, and salt/pepper to taste. (Be careful it's not too salty--cheese and sauce will add to saltiness.) Set aside.

2. Pre-heat oven to 350F.

3. Saute onion and garlic in oil. Add flour and brown. Add chicken broth, chile powder, smoked paprika, and cumin and stir with whisk until dissolved. Add tomato sauce, sugar, and salt/pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then shimmer on lower heat until thickened (approx. 20+ minutes).

4. Put thin layer of sauce on bottom of baking dish (prevents burning). Roll chicken filling with cheese in tortillas and neatly line dish with them. Cover tortillas with remaining sauce, layer on cheese, and top with olives or green chiles, if interested.

5. Cover dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and allow top to brown.

6. Now enjoy those tasty motherfuckers with Mexican beers with lime, corn (frozen or canned corn, w/cumin, red pepper, red onion, butter, salt/pepper, and fresh cilantro stirred in at the end), Mexican rice, etc.!!!!

(serves approx 6)

Leftover Ginger Cranberry Sauce on Cream Cheese, with Crackers

As Lindsay suggested, I warmed up some of the leftover ginger cranberry sauce and threw it on top of some cream cheese. Served with crackers = excellent.

Cookie Extravaganza!

Chuck and I, with the help of Mark and Leah, made about a thousand cookies to put in Christmas tins and hand out to friends. Here are the recipes!

Pecan Tassies: mini pecan pies, made with the tart press that Martha stuck in my stocking one year.

Matcha (Green Tea) Cookies: sugar cookies with green tea powder mixed in.

Turtle Thumbprints: chocolate, pecan and caramel goodness.

Ginger Chewies: gingery soft and chewy cookies with raw sugar on top for crunch.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats: No photo, but you can imagine...

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons: another Ina recipe, dipped in semi-sweet chocolate.

Jam-Filled Cream Cheese Cookies
A Martha Stewart Every Day Food recipe that I can't find online, but that's probably ok because they were a FAIL anyway... they were supposed to look like this (which about 2 of ours did):
But the vast majority of them looked like starfish writhing on the ocean floor as they bleed to death:
Pistachio Refrigerator Cookies
Not sure where Martha got the recipe, but here it is:
2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup finely chopped pistachios
non pareils
green food coloring

Mix dry ingredients. Cream butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix.

Using 1 cup of dough, add green food coloring, then add chopped nuts. Shape into a 10” roll. Wrap in waxed paper and freeze for 10 minutes.

Roll remaining dough into a 10x6 rectangle. Place other roll of dough on the rectangle and gently wrap the dough around the nut dough and seal it.

Roll the whole log in nonpareils sprinkled on waxed paper.
Wrap the dough in the waxed paper. Freeze for about 20 minutes. Slice about 1/8” thick. Place about 2” apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for about 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 6 dozen.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dark and Stormy Cocktail

Heather brought the makings for Dark and Stormy cocktails to Thanksgiving dinner, but we never got around to drinking them- we stuck to wine and champagne. So we gave the cocktail a try tonight... really good! Ginger beer, lime and dark rum. Esquire had advice on the ratios.

Eggs Benedict with Leftover Stuffing, Turkey and Brussel Sprouts

I saw this idea for reimagining Thanksgiving leftovers a couple years ago in a Daily Candy email:
  • Form your leftover stuffing into little patties and fry them in a little olive oil until warmed through and a little crispy on the outside.

  • Top with warmed shredded turkey (I splashed a little chicken broth on mine to keep it moist, then popped it in the microwave for a minute).

  • Throw on some greens- sauteed spinach, or, in our case, leftover brussel sprouts

  • Top with a poached egg and some hollandaise sauce (I used the Washington Post's blender hollandaise sauce).

An awesome way to transform the leftovers into something new and edible. Essential for me since, as you know, I hate leftovers (particularly mixed grill).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Extravaganza: The Sides and Desserts

The side dishes and desserts served at our Thanksgiving were provided by the gracious guests:
Butternut Squash Risotto, handmade by Ms. Guitar as a main dish for the vegetarians in the group.
Sourdough Bread Stuffing, by the always jovial Jenny (she switched it up a little by omitting the mushrooms, using veggie stock and adding more of everything else!).
Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Garlic and Lemon, expertly executed by Heather.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes, peeled by Meg, but made delicious by Chuck.
Scalloped Corn, a delicious Yehl family recipe made with loving attention to detail by Mark:
" I usually make the corn in that Corningware dish of mine- I think it's a 3 qt. I use 4 or 5 cans of regular corn- not cream- drained. Put in 1 cup of milk. If it's not soupy- put in another 1/4 cup. Sprinkle breadcrumbs across the entire top lightly and then do it again. Mix it up. Beat one egg for each can of corn. Pour in and mix it up. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper.Okay here's the hard part- now I kind of play with it. If it's too dry I add a little more milk. If the breadcrumb doesn't seem to be enough to not make it dry but where you can really see it and it has thickened the consistency of the corn, I add more a little at a time. Put a teaspoon of butter or margarine- whatever you use- close to each corner and in the middle. Bake at 350 for at least 45 minutes. It needs to be cooked, but not dried out. You've seen and made it before, so hopefully you can tell the right consistency and know if it is done or not. Remember it seems to dry out a little more after you take it out of the oven."

Traditional Pumpkin Pies, possibly one of the last desserts to come out of Amy's New Hampshire Avenue kitchen.

Apple/Pear Galette, a rustic treat from Jenny.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Extravaganza: The Cranberry Sauce

Mmmm... cranberry sauce. This one is a super simple citrusy-gingery version from Ming Tsai via the Boston Globe.
I cooked it a little longer than the recommended 10 minutes in order to break the cranberries down a little and cook off some of the liquid.
This recipe makes a ton of sauce... I'd say way more than 8 peoples' worth, for sure. We had probably an extra quart at the end of the day. I'm researching creative ways to use up leftover cranberry sauce (beyond putting it on a turkey sandwich, I mean.) The lovely Lindsay recommends heating it up a little and pouring it over goat cheese or cream cheese and serving with crackers. Sounds good to me! I shall report back soon.

Thanksgiving Extravaganza: The Soup

Again, another traditional Thanksgiving ingredient done a slightly different way to keep it interesting, yet not freak people out: Thai-style butternut squash soup, care of Mark Bittman, The Minimalist.
Bittman advertised this soup as one of his make-ahead Thanksgiving sides, and while I didn't make it all ahead, I definitely did the time-consuming butternut chopping ahead. Super easy and really tasty... people seemed to like it, and the leftovers were good for lunch today!
Bittman's recipe read: "Simmer cubed winter squash, minced garlic, chili and ginger in coconut milk, plus stock or water to cover, until soft. Purée if you like. Just before serving, add chopped cilantro, lime juice and zest, and toasted chopped peanuts."
I did pretty much just that: equal parts ginger, garlic and chilis (about 3 TBS each), 2 butternut squashes, 2 cans of coconut milk, about 1- 1.5 C veggie broth, plus salt and white pepper. I squirted in some Sriracha at the end because I decided it wasn't quite spicy enough. I bet this would benefit from some fish sauce, but I left it out because of the vegetarians at the table. The garnishes are key though. Lots of lime!

Thanksgiving Extravaganza: The Appetizer

We weren't starting Thanksgiving too early in the day since Chuck and Mark were working, so I had to throw at least one appetizer out there to satiate the drunken/drinking masses. I saw this sweet potato "hummus" from Kim O'Donnel and thought it would be fun to serve a traditional Thanksgiving ingredient in a different way. We served the dip with pita chips.
Pretty good, although I think maybe it needed something else. Garlic? That would definitely bring it closer to true hummus. Perhaps roasted garlic. I shall try again sometime. Mark loved it, though, and that's enough for me.

Thanksgiving Extravaganza: The Turkey

So, here is the first of several recipes served at our pot-luck Thanksgiving: the main course was, of course, the turkey.
Our turkey was a farmer's market find, a broad-breasted bronze from Groff's Content Farm. We had a little bit of a panic earlier this week, when, after picking up said 19 pounder, our fridge crapped out. Luckily, Chuck and Tim were home and were able to scramble to transfer the turkey and our other perishables to Barbara's fridge, and the responsive folks from Trust appliance repair came to our rescue ASAP and fixed it up.
I used this dry-brine recipe from the New York Times Dining & Wine section... it appealed to me because of its simplicity and its lack of messy, sloshy brining liquid. Several other reliable sources also advertised dry brine recipes this year, so I figured it was worth a try. In the end, I may have overcooked the turkey a bit, but nothing a little gravy couldn't fix.

Cajun Spiced Scallops with a Sour Cream/Brown Sugar/Lemon Sauce on Sauteed Kale

For Martha's birthday dinner, Mike was searing Cajun-seasoned scallops and making a sour cream, brown sugar, and lemon sauce for them while I was sauteeing some kale in olive oil, garlic and a splash of chicken stock. At some point along the way, as we jostled each other for elbow room at the cooktop, we decided that the scallops and sauce might be best served on top of the kale. It worked out perfectly!

Neither of us used recipes, so I can't link you, but the basic idea was thus: sprinkle scallops with Cajun seasoning and sear in a cast iron pan, saute the kale with minced garlic and olive oil, then splash the chicken broth in and cover it for a few minutes to soften the tough veggie. The sauce is a mystery to me... Mike? My only input was "Add more lemon juice."

Whole Wheat Bagels!

I've had homemade bagels on my list of things to bake for months and months, but just haven't gotten around to it. This past weekend I went home for Martha's birthday, and brought her the latest book from Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg, the authors of our beloved "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day." Their latest book is "Healthy Breads in 5 Minutes a Day," which focuses more on whole grains, vegetables and other healthy ingredients.

Anywho... back to bagels: there was a whole wheat bagel recipe in the new bread cookbook that used the basic whole wheat bread dough recipe, so Martha and I gave it a try. Pretty tasty!

Martha and I made the mistake of cooking the bagels on parchment paper on the baking stone... we should have pulled the parchment out earlier so the bagels would be directly on the stone, because the bottoms of the bagels were a little raw/mushy. Next time. Perhaps an egg wash would be good, too, to get the shiny coating that bagels normally have.

No-Bake Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chewies

Chuck and I decided to taste-test a cookie we were considering making as part of our Christmas cookie experiment... we thought this one looked good because it combined peanut butter and chocolate and was a no-bake, so we figured we could make it at the same time as another cookie and not have them compete for oven time and space.

This cookie is perfectly easy. Perfect to satisfy a random weeknight chocolate craving, for sure.

Alas, it's not quite perfect for our purposes... not what we were looking for in a Christmas cookie. Too soft in consistency and not pretty enough to stand up to the other, flashier cookies we're planning to make.

Turkey Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes...chocolate frosting...candy corn beaks and tail feathers...marshmallow eyes (with red gel) and chocolate sprinkles for flare!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sesame-Coated Chicken With Broccoli

I'm totally on a stir fry kick of late. Not sure why, but so far it's been good to us.

This Food & Wine recipe was good- the sesamed-coated chicken pieces got a little crispy, and the sauce was gingery and a little spicy. Very nice.

Monday, November 16, 2009



So I had 100 wings to cook and four recipes...

The sesame ones had a bit too many sesame seeds and were a little rubbery (nothing a few minutes under the broiler couldn't fix in the future).I put the asian ones under the broiler for a few minutes after getting them out of the slow cooker...The BBQ ones were good...and the spicy ones weren't all that spicy so I poured some extra Franks on them. It was a fun day of cooking and eating. Too bad the Patriots blew it!

Thank You Michael for taking the picture!!!

Butternut Squash Parmesan Pasta Sauce

After cooking at cooking class all weekend, I didn't have a lot of energy to cook dinner at home, so my CSA produce has been piling up... I had approximately a thousand butternut squashes staring at me from the counter. OK, I exaggerate. There were 3. But that's a lot of butternut, yes?I saw this recipe for a simple butternut and parmesan pasta sauce on Simply Recipes and thought I would give it a try. It was pretty good... I made some changes, though:
- Rather than roast the squash whole, I cut it up and threw it on a cookie sheet to speed up the cooking process.

- I threw a minced clove of garlic in with the shallots because it seemed like natural addition to the recipe.

- The sauce was super thick, so I added probably 1/2 cup of chicken stock to thin it out at the end.

- I amped up the lemon juice a bit to contrast the sweetness of the squash-- added about 2 tablespoons.

- Threw some roasted broccoli on the side, which was also a good contrast to the sauce.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

L'Academie de Cuisine: Advanced Culinary Weekend

Jennifer, her friend Jim and I all took a fancy French cooking class this weekend at L'Academie de Cuisine... the course was taught by Patrice Olivon, a great French chef with experience cooking at the White House and sous-cheffing on Iron Chef America: Battle Dungeness Crab, among other things.
We cooked an elaborate 8 course meal and learned a lot of neat tricks and methods. Let me know if you want the recipes. I have to type them up. Our favorite was the shrimp bisque, followed closely by the basil ice cream. Check it out!

Smoked salon on brioche (canapes):
Phyllo dough stuffed with Merguez sausage and roasted red peppers:
Leek and sundried tomato terrine with champagne vinaigrette and black truffles:Shrimp bisque with seared scallops and shrimp, a crunchy Kataifi covered shrimp and chive oil:
Turkey breast stuffed with veal mousse, wild mushrooms and chestnuts, with sweet potato French fries and spinach flan
Garlic tuile piped with Roquefort/goat cheese mousse, frisee salad and caramelized walnuts: Tart tatin with irish creme caramel sauce and basil milk chocolate ice cream
Mini key lime pie (mignardises)Align Center