Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Banana & Onion Soup?

In a way, yes. But don't click away yet! Serious, this one is worth checking out further. I can't breathe I'm so stuffed from my extra large bowl! Another America's Test Kitchen recipe.

Mulligatawny Soup

Mulligatawny is a pureed vegetable soup that originated in India during the British Raj. The soup is mildly spicy but not hot. The finished soup should be silky and elegant with potent yet balanced spices and aromatics.

Although a few sources say that pureering is optional, the recipe I used suggested that the soup MUST be smooth. It was worth the extra step, very good. I added some chicken to the soup as it cooked, then cooled it and shredded it to add at the end. A dollop of yogurt and a shower of cilantro finish the soup. Traditionally, Mulligatawny is served over basmati rice or red lentils, although it can stand on its own.

Serves 6 to 8 and takes about 30-40 minutes to make, depending on your chopping skills.

4 Medium garlic cloves, 2 peeled and 2 finely minced
1 piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated, about 1 1/2 tablespoons
1/4 Cup water
3 Tablespoons of butter
2 Medium onions, chopped
1 Teaspoon tomato paste
1/2 Cup shredded unsweetened coconut (do not use sweetened coconut)
1 1/2 Tablespoons curry powder
1 Teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
1/4 Cup all--purpose flour
7 Cups low-sodium chicken broth (see note)
2 Medium Carrots, peeled and chopped coarse
1 Medium Celery rib, chopped coarse
1 Medium very ripe Banana
Salt & Pepper
Yogurt (optional)
Cilantro, minced (optional)

1. Place the 2 peeled whole garlic cloves, 2 Teaspoons of the grated ginger and the water in the blender. Blend until smooth, about 25 seconds; leave this in the blender and move on to the next step, we'll come back to this later.

2. Heat the butter in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat until foaming. Add the onions and tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the minced garlic (not the stuff in the blender), remaining ginger, curry powder, cumin, cayenne and flour. Stir until evenly combined, about 1 minute. Whisking contantly and vigourously, gradually add the chicken broth.

3. Add the carrots, celery and the whole, peeled banana to the pot. At this point if you want to have chicken in the final soup, add whole, boneless skinless breast now. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

4. Remove the chicken and slice or shred. Puree the soup in batches in the blender with the garlic and ginger until very smooth. My blender took four batches. >>>>DO NOT FILL ALL THE WAY>>>JUST OVER 1/2 WAY IS ENOUGH>>>> You blender will explode and scald you! Wash and dry the pot. Return the pureed soup to the clean pot and season to taste with Salt and Pepper. Warm the soup over medium heat until hot, about 1 minute. Ladle the soup into individual bowls, spoon a dallop of yogurt over each and sprinkle with cilantro, serve immediately.

The soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Warm over low heat until hot, do not boil.

Note: Of course everyone always says homemade chicken broth is best. Well, it is, but who as time? I feel the best substitute is a low sodium Swanson's Chicken Broth. If you want to make this vegetarian, use vegetable broth. In this case, it might be best to make your own broth, as most canned varieties are a bit metallic tasting. In 8 cups of water, add two coarsely chopped onions, a few stalks of celery, some carrots, some parsley. And whatever other vegetables you might want. Season with salt and pepper, maybe add a bay leaf. Simmer for about 1/2 hour. Strain and you're good to go. If you do not want to take the time or energy, I would suggest Knox brand Vegetable Bouillon cubes. One cube for two cups of water. While you are simmering that water that the bouillon is dissolving in, add some onion. This will freshen up the flavor and make it a bit more "natural" tasting.

And for dessert....some fresh chopped pineapple and fresh sliced kiwi drizzled in lime-ginger syrup and sprinkled with some toasted coconut. Buy some chopped fresh pineapple at the store, two kiwis, peeled and sliced. Two limes, one zested, both juiced. Add the juice, zest and a one inch chunk of ginger into one cup of sugar and one cup of water. Simmer until dissolved. Remove from heat and cool. Remove the ginger chunk, then pour over the fruit. Yum!


Friday, May 27, 2005

The Devil Made Me Do It

Well, not the devil, but fundraising. What? OK.

A couple years back I went to lunch with a donor I was working with. They were having some issues with the way we were doing things, we wanted to make it right. So, we went to lunch and worked things out. For lunch I had this lovely plate of pasta with a rich savory sauce.

I feel this is pretty easy and really tasty. Perhaps not that healthy, but who I am to "do" healthy.


Sausage and Leek Cream Sauce

1 lb loose sausage (mild or sweet)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or minced
2 leeks (light green and white parts finely chopped and rinsed) (see note 1)
1 tsp, fennel seeds, lightly crushed (see note 2)
1 tsp, allspice
1 cup, chicken broth
1/2 cup, half and half or light cream
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large pan, brown sausage over medium high heat, breaking into small bits as you go.

When the sausage is nearly completely browned, lower heat to medium and add the onions and garlic and your dry spices. Stir and cook for two to four minutes, stirring regularly. Do not let the onions brown.

Add in the leeks and stir for one minute. Add the broth and simmer for 10 minutes, covered.

Remove cover and simmer for another 5 minutes, this will allow the sauce to reduce.

Add the half and half or cream, stir to incorporate and warm through.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a shapely pasta that will hold onto the sauce and sausage bits.

I also like to add a liberal sprinkling of some freshly grated parm!

A nice salad and crusty bread are great sides to this dish.

Note 1: Leeks are grown in a sandy loamy soil. As a member of the same family as onions, they are all layers...these layers, especially the light green and white parts we want for this dish, gather up sand and dirt as they grow. For cleaning, I like slice off the root bottom and choose where I cut the greens. When the light green starts to go from light to dark, that's the place. Once done, I will thinly slice the leeks into 'ringlets.' I'll place all of these in a large bowl filled with cold water. When you're done slicing, swish them around for a couple minutes. This will dislodge the dirt and sand, allowing it to fall to the bottom of the bowl. With your hands, lift the leeks out of the water and put in a strainer. Do not dump the bowl full of water and leeks into a strainer. This will just allow the sand to incorporate back into the leeks. Icky.

Note 2: I have a mortar & pestle that I use to lightly crush my fennel. That works, but is not necessary. You can just put them on the cutting board and press and crack them with a glass, or a tenderizing mallet. We're doing this just to release extra flavor!


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Lazy Sundays

Every few Sundays I like to make a simple tasty breakfast. Sure, sometimes I throw out all the stops and do eggs and potatoes and bacon and toast and coffee and juice and...and....and.... But more often I like to keep it simple. This is my WORLD FAMOUS SAUSAGE GRAVY to go on biscuits. OK, maybe not world famous, but it's getting there!

Savory Sausage Gravy with biscuits
1 1lb package of plain breakfast sausage, Jimmy Dean or otherwise
2 TB flour
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 1/2 cups of water
Salt and pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Crumble sausage in a medium high fry pan, brown. Approximately 5 minutes. Stir as needed to brown completely.

Sprinkle flour over sausage. Stir. The fat will be absorbed into the flour. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour water, stir to completely combine and dissolve the flour. Add milk. Stir.

Lower heat to a light simmer. Stirring regularly. The mess in the pan will thicken into a rich gravy. Between 10-15 minutes.

Season to taste with Salt, Pepper and cayenne if you wish. I like to have a little heat to my sausage gravy.

Serve over Pillsbury Grands Butter Tastin' Biscuits. Sure, make your own if you want, but these are soooo tasty, I couldn't compete. The biscuits should go in the oven as you start browning the sausage. They will be done just about the same time as the gravy. Serve both hot!

UPDATE: 2/21/06--see photo here.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Chicken "Provencale"

I've been making this light, tasty dish for several years. I love it. The bright crisp flavors of the vegetables that have been lightly sauteed, then simmered in white wine with fresh basil and lemon on top. It's a perfect dish for a hot summer lunch.

Serves 4

4 Chicken breasts, boneless, skinless

1/2 cup Flour
Salt and Pepper
Dried Parsley (optional)
Cayenne Pepper (optional and to taste)

2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 small or medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves, garlic, minced
4-6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
6-8 leaves of basil, fresh, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1 lemon, zested and juiced

Dredge the chicken in the flour that has been seasoned with salt, pepper and if you wish, parsley and cayenne pepper.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and saute until golden brown and delicious, depending on the thickness of the chicken, 3-6 minutes.

Remove and set aside and keep warm. Add the onions, toss to coat in oil, allow to saute for 1 minute. Add the garlic and peppers to the pan. Saute another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and basil. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and zest.

Add the wine and simmer for 2 minutes. Check the seasonings. Spoon over the warm chicken.

Serve with linguine if you want.


Sauvignon Blanc Tasting

So we had a "tasting" this past Friday night.

One from South Africa, France and New Zealand. Everyone liked something different, no one was the clear winner. I put out paper and a pen for comments. Here they are:

French: Henri Bourgeois Petit Bourgeois 2004
Green Nose
Dry Fruit
Peach Nose
Very full
Very dry, more peach flavor
#1 for me

South African: Graham Beck Waterside 2004
Round "sour" note
Tart-Yellow Apples
TartYet Smooth
Velvety Feel
Crisp Taste
Maybe my preference?

New Zealand: Monkey Bay (Marlborough) 2004
Sour Milk
Unpleasant nose
Very dry
citrusy taste
My favorite

When all was said and done, I barely wanted to taste the New Zealand because of the sour nose, but then I did taste it....very dry, strong aftertaste and the GRAPEFRUIT was sooo strong...but after a taste, I loved it! And it was funny because we went to a wedding on Saturday and at the reception, I grabbed a white from the waiter and tasted...and proclaimed: "This is a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, I'm guessing it's the same as what we had last night with the sour nose and grapefruit." I went and checked with the bar, sure enough...same exact everything, except the label...Allen Scott. Same appellation (Marlborough-which is the north eastern coast of the South Island), same alcohol content, same year. I felt so snobbish cause I got it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Cashew Chicken review

It seems everyone enjoyed the Cashew Chicken dinner! This is very exciting.

I’ll start with the things I did differently.

*We forgot to defrost the chicken. We had chicken out, but we were worried it was going to go bad, so we used it on Monday and then forgot to take out the second batch. Once I realized this, I placed it in a Ziploc bag and put it in the sink with as close to room temperature as possible. I did this for about 15 minutes. It was thawed enough that I could, with some muscle, slice the chicken into thin strips.

*I didn’t have red wine vinegar, so I used a mixture of plain rice wine vinegar, as well as "seasoned" rice wine vinegar. I was worried about this flavor overpowering the dish, so I put just a splash of cider vinegar in.

*We used Jasmine rice. Yum.

*Followed Denise’s tip (see below) and rinsed the salted cashews in water before adding them to the dish.

*To bulk up the meal for a few extra servings-we had company-I added extra carrots and peppers, I needed an extra tablespoon of Hoisin sauce to coat it all completely.

Now for your feedback (my comments will be in italics):

Dancer in DC:
Special note from the Chinese Specialist - DON'T substitute powdered ginger for fresh. They are very different, and you won't get the same flavor. I've found that powdered is really only worthwhile for desserts, as when you pair it with cinnamon & nutmeg. And as Scott said in the {originalrecipe}, it's very inexpensive to buy fresh. Also, you can peel it with a regular vegetable peeler, and grate on a generic cheese grater if you don't have a microplane.

(Note from Scott E: To stretch the use of your ginger, you can use the peel and if you have a bit left over, that as well to make a simple ginger syrup for use in tea or lemonade. Put equal amounts of water and sugar (1 cup to 1 cup, etc) in a saucepan. If you want a stronger ginger flavored syrup add the peels and left over gingers bits right away, bring to a boil, stir until sugar is dissolved. If you want a milder ginger flavor, bring to a boil, dissolve the sugar, remove from the heat and add the ginger bits. Once the mixture is cool, pour through a strainer, lined with either cheese cloth or a cut open coffee filter, to remove bits. Refrigerate. Great for sweetening tea, mint tea and lemonade!!!)

Lady Brandenburg:
I can't believe we ate the WHOLE thing!!!

We are stuffed! But damn was that good. I wouldn't change a thing about the recipe. Here are some comments:

1) We used dry sherry instead of red wine vinegar. It said sherry or the vinegar, but we didn't know whether to use sweet or dry. In the end, I don't think it make a huge taste difference. I think it's just there to help the chicken soak up the sesame oil.

(Note from Scott E: I’m not really sure the full purpose of the vinegar, as I said, I used two types of vinegar. Usually vinegar, when added to a dish will make other flavors “POP.” I’m guessing you can use a whole different varieties, with the exception of Balsamic.)

2) It doesn't say in the recipe when to add the jalepeno pepper - so we added it when we added the chicken. It was a good amount of spice. We like spicy, so we added quite a bit of red pepper flakes. YUM!

(Note from Scott E: In the recipe, I combined the green and jalepeno and say ‘add the peppers.’ Will clarify that for future use.)

3) We assumed that once you add the spices and oil to the chicken you were to "shloop" it together, so that's what I did. After I put my hands in the raw chicken to coat it, I realized I could have saved the salmonella risk and used a wooden spoon or spatula. Duh. It would have accomplished the same thing.

4) We let the chicken "marinate" for a good ten minutes or so. I think I used more than an inch of ginger (we LOVE ginger) and the chicken really absorbed all the flavor.

(Note from Scott E: I let mine go for about 15 minutes. Not a problem. You do want to be careful with raw meat and vinegar. Vinegar can start to "cook" the meat. It starts immediately. You may have noticed the chicken change color when the vinegar, oil, spice mixture was added, a light cloudy texture. That's the weird science of it. The caution would be not to let this sit too long, maybe 20 minutes tops. I don't know what would happen, if anything, that's why this is a caution and not a "Rule.")

All in all, a great recipe and a great success. With our new knives I was able to slice regular chicken breast into tenderloin-size pieces. I would not have wanted to attempt that with our old dull knives (our old knives just tore meat apart rather than chopping it). Buying the chicken already sliced up is a good suggestion.

We ate ALL of it - but we were piggys. It really does make enough for about three very large servings. We shouldn't have split the last big pile - it was just SO damn good! Definitely a recipe I would make for company.

By the way, we used jasmine rice, which is my favorite. I think the brand is Mahatma. I think the extra flavor in jasmine rice really adds to any dish, and it's nice and sticky, which I like.

Thanks Scott! It was a GREAT dinner!!!!

One More thing: They didn't have unsalted cashews at the Safeway I went to, so I got salted ones and just sort of rinsed them in the sink and let them dry on paper towels. That worked out just fine.

The Kara:
I'm going shopping today - what are the chances that brown rice vinegar can be substituted? I'll probably suck it up and buy the red wine vinegar or sherry anyway but just thought I'd ask. Can't wait to Cook AND EAT with you!

(Note from Scott E: See notes above regarding vinegars. You could have used the brown rice vinegar, no problems there.)

To cut down on the time b/c I'm lazy I bought the carrots and peppers pre-cut (I know, I know, but I figured this will be more encouragement for me to actually make the dish).

(Note from Scott E: Rock on, do what you wanna do in terms of making cooking easier and fun.)

So I looked again at the recipe and decided I can have more chicken if I don't make it with the rice (and I'm not a big rice fan anyway). What do you think about adding a side of string beans or even broccoli instead of rice or is the rice a 'must-have'?

(Note from Scott E: The rice is just there as a ‘traditional’ Chinese take out staple. I think adding extra veggies to bulk the dish up is a great idea!)

Here's what happened - I came home and had to throw some laundry in so I know EXACTLY how much time the whole cooking affair took (please know that I am NOT a cook by any estimation) and with cheating (I bought pre-cut peppers and carrots) it took just over 30 minutes. The meal was delish - I forgot to add in the jalepeno pepper, but otherwise followed it exactly (and with a healthy helping of the red pepper found it spicy enough for my liking). I am also trying to cut down on the carbs, so I added frozen 'stir fry' veggies as my side dish and did eek out 4 servings (had 2 tonight and froze the other individual servings for later). LOVED it and can't wait to hear what everyone else did with their dishes! (and I'm not a big exclamation point person - it just seems that way b/c I'm excited about cooking!)

Terri L.

YUMMMM!!! But when do I add the jalapeno? I added it with the chicken in the wok.

(Note from Scott E: See note above about peppers.)

I also LOVE chunks of onion in a spicy Chinese dish, so I added half a medium onion, right after the chicken, but before the bell pepper so that the onion wasn't too limp, but not to strong.

(Note from Scott E: Good idea. Adding in extra goodies to make the dish more to your liking.)

And instead of rice, I prefer rice sticks. If you immerse the rice sticks in hot water for half the time the package directions suggest, they will absorb some of the liquid from the chix mix making everything that much more tasty.

(Note from Scott E: I’m not familiar with Rice Sticks. Can you let us know what they are? I’m sure they were great with the dinner.)

An excellent dinner. I think I barely have enough left over for tomorrow's dinner! Talk about being a PIG!!

After kitchen clean up (well, not the non-dishwasher dishes), I treated myself to fortune cookies. Here's my favorite fortune (if you tell someone, does a fortune come true?? awe, who cares?! I wanna share, besides, it seems to be more of a statement than a fortune): Beauty is in your heart, let it out, let it beat, give yourself a treat. HA! I choose syrah for now, and carrot cake later, for my treat!

(Note from Scott E: ROCK ON!)

Thank you all for participating in this fun experiment. I'll begin planning for the next "event." If you have further comments, please leave them below by clicking on X# Comments in the timestamp right below this paragraph!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Today is the day

Today is the first EAT WITH ME Cooking Without Borders special event.

If you haven't done so, get your shopping list here!

And here is the recipe.

Enjoy and don't forget to post your comments. Tomorrow I'll post them all in one entry and we'll see what everyone thinks. We will also start discussing the next event.

To Post your comments go to the bottom of each entry. You will see "POSTED BY SCOTTE at {time stamp} and "X comments." click there, that will bring you to a screen to post your own feedback. You can send me an email by clicking on the envelope. Thanks to Lady Brandenburg for suggesting a clarification on this. I'm new to the blog-o-sphere.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Multiple Food-gasm!!!

I've just had a multiple food-gasm and it won't stop!!!

Long story short, the flavors were all over the map, each bite was a whole new flavor sensation, from the wine to the salad to the entree.

I'll start with wine

An Austrian Gruner Veltliner Gmork from Anton Bauer, 2004. We picked up this white at Whole Foods for a very reasonable price, I can't remember it if was $9.99 or $12.99...but it was worth it regardless!!!
"The Gruner Veltliner Gmork is a classic example of this varietal. Bright, ripe aromas of Granny Smith apples and clean citrus fruit dominate the nose of this wine. On the palate, the wine possesses crisp acidity as well as clean, pure citrus flavors that keep you coming back for more. This wine makes the ideal apertiff, but works equally well with fresh vegetables, fish dishes and fried chicken. It is also the perfect picnic wine."
That really says it all! The crisp nose, the dry citrus palate. And it certainly paired well with our salad and entree. Will try to give more notes on this wine, but I'm still enjoying it.

The Salad. A bag of the European greens with diced pear and cashews drizzled with Balsamic and Basil Vinegrette under the Ken's Steak House label. YUM YUM YUM. One of the best balsamic dressings we've had. A HUGE shout out to Sterfanie for bringing it over to our place many moons ago for dinner. We loved it and had to get more. WONDERFUL. Get it.

The Entree.
Paula Deen's done it again. That Devil-ette! Coconut Shrimp! Meow! Super duper quick and easy. And sooooo wonderful. Paired with an rum and orange marmalade dipping sauce. Crunch coating, succulent shrimp.

I'm really sorry folks....I'm having a really hard time finding worlds to describe this ecclectic meal. The wine certainly tied it all together. One bite of salad would yield a different tasting sip fo wine. A shrimp would yield another. Then you'd have another bite of salad and there would be less vinegrette or an extra pear and you'd have another completely different taste on the wine. I'm sure the more I pontificate on this whole experience, I'll have something more to say.

But in the meantime, here is the recipe from our dear friend Ms. Paula Deen. (THANK YOU I LOVE YOU--Can I visit with you on a trip to Savanananah???? PLEASE

Coconut Shrimp with Orange Marmalade
Recipe courtesy Robert Pickens (OK, it's not actually Paula Deen's recipe, but she made it on her show)

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings (see notes below on serving size suggestions)

2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
2 cups bread crumbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, beaten
24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Vegetable oil, for frying

Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 to 2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)

*In a large bowl, combine coconut and bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper.
*Place flour, eggs, and bread crumb mixture into 3 separate bowls.
*Dredge the shrimp in flour and shake off excess.
*Next, dip the shrimp thoroughly in the egg and rub against the side of the bowl to lightly remove excess.
*Finally, coat the shrimp thoroughly with the bread crumb mixture.
*Lay out the shrimp so they do not touch on a parchment/waxed paper-lined baking sheet or platter until ready to fry.
*In a large Dutch oven or large deep skillet, heat several inches of oil to 350 degrees F.
*Fry the shrimp in batches until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes per batch.
*Be careful not to overcrowd shrimp in the oil while frying.
*Drain on paper towels.

For the Dipping Sauce: heat the marmalade in a small saucepan over low heat. Thin with rum as desired.

**Seriously, that's it!!!

SERVING NOTE: Ok, so if we got the "large" shrimp from Safeway (which were really JUMBO) and got the full serving suggestions, we'd be eating coconut shrimp for weeks. I scaled the recipe for two people. If you get "Jumbo" shrimp, go with 4, maybe 5 per person if you are having a salad or some other side dish. We did 6 shrimp and we're sitting here like Ted Bundy with our hands in the tops of our pants watching TV and moaning. I'd say if you get "large, 6-8 per person. Shrimp sizing is an another entry "sponsored" by dork of the century Alton Brown. "ALTON!! We love you!!!!!"

Here are the scaled amounts for 2.

1 cup of coconut, breadcrumbs and flour. 2 eggs.

Another note on the breadcrumbs. We splurged and bought Panko breadcrumbs. These are a special "Asian" breadcrumbs. They are lighter and flakier then a regular breadcrumb. They ROCKED THE FREE WORLD! Not necessary, but certainly De-Lish!

I could go on, but I just can't. I'm spent. Enjoy!

Friday, May 13, 2005

A Great Summer Side Dish

I knew a certain someone who really loves this side dish! It is really good, whether you make it right before you sit down to eat, or hours before. And super duper simple.

Sweet Chile Cucumbers
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

2 cucumbers, seeded & thinly sliced
1 fresh hot red chiles, thinly sliced
10-15 fresh mint leaves-thinly chopped
2 cups rice vinegar (approximately)
4 teaspoons sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel (optional) and Seed the cucumbers. To seed, slice cucumbers in half-lenghtwise, use a teaspoon and scrape the seeds out of the cucumbers. You’ll have a “U” shaped cucumber half, slice thinly, about an 1/8 of an inch.

Combine the cucumbers, chiles, and mint in a mixing bowl.

Pour in the vinegar to just cover the cucumbers, sprinkle with the sugar, salt, and pepper.

Toss everything together so the cucumbers are well coated with the vinegar.

Refrigerate; the cucumbers will soften as they marinate and the flavors will deepen, the longer they sit.

Some additions could include diced tomatoes and/or thinly sliced red onions. Anything you can think of?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Cooking Without Borders special event

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 will be the first EAT WITH ME-Cooking Without Borders special event. In what I hope to be a regular feature of EAT WITH ME, a full shopping list will be laid out about a week before the day upon which all who want, will make the suggested meal. The first meal requested was the Cashew Chicken originally posted on May 9.

The “rules of engagement” are such:

-Buy your groceries prior to May 17, or on May 17 if you are procrastinating like me.
-Evening of May 17--prepare the recipe
-Hopefully enjoy your meal
-Following the meal, submit feedback to the EAT WITH ME blog and if you have the ability, send a digital photo of the presented plate.

The feedback will be the most important part of the event.
Where are you located?
Did you follow the recipe as written?
Did you change the order or ingredients?
Would you have liked to try something different?
Overall, how did you enjoy the meal?

Once a critical mass of comments have been posted, I’ll compile and add my own feedback into a new EAT WITH ME blog entry for easy reference. If I receive photos, I’ll post those as well…if I can figure out how. If I am unable to load photos directly to the blog, I’ll upload them to Snapfish and provide the link in the entry.

So, here is your first shopping list:

*1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, you can also get the ‘tenders’ to save time preparing later
*1-2 carrots or a 1 lb. bag of baby carrots
*1 green bell pepper
*1 jalapeno pepper
*1 small/medium head of garlic
*fresh ginger root (note 1)
*sesame oil (note 2)
*sherry or red wine vinegar
*hoisin sauce
*red pepper flakes
*whole cashews, unsalted preferred
*rice, your favorite

NOTE 1: When buying fresh ginger root, you’ll notice it is all wild and crazy is shape and size. For a recipe like this, calling for “one inch,” I’ll get two inches, once it’s peeled the dried ends removed, I’ll have the one inch piece called for in the recipe. The other big question is “which piece?” or “they are all a different diameter.” I eye ball it and get something close in diameter to my thumb, three quarters to one inch. Ultimately I think you want about 1 rounded tablespoon of grated/minced ginger in the end. Also, don’t worry about breaking the ginger root up when you buy it at the store, more often than not, the ginger root is one giant mangled mass in a little basket. Snap off what you need.

NOTE 2: If I remember correctly, sesame oil comes either “light” or “dark.” To start, I’d buy the light until you know your feelings for the taste. The dark will be much richer and smokier, but also might come off as very pungent. Try the light and make your way up to dark.

For our veggie friends out there, skip the chicken-obviously. You could easily go with shrimp or a medley of veg or tofu. As I’m not veggie, please let me know what you might do with this dish to make it veggie friendly.

If you are buying all these items for the first time, your shopping bill might be around $15 to $20, but once you’ve stocked your home shelves with the sesame oil, vinegar, hoisin, red pepper flakes, you’ll be good to go in the future. I’d add cashews to that list, but once they are in my house, I eat them. The jalapeno and ginger root might cost you 50 cents! Garlic, maybe a dollar, depending on your store. The rest can range from $1 for the bell pepper to $3 or 4 for an organic green bell pepper. Chicken, that market is up and down with the tide it seems. When we get chicken at Eastern Market, it is almost always $2.99 a pound. But the Safeway and Giant can go upwards of $5 or $6 a pound. Whole Foods, maybe even more.

When I first moved to Washington, I was doing my shopping at Whole Foods and the chicken was $12.99 for a pound of boneless/skinless breast, then I realized it was a special type of chicken I was unfamiliar with at the time. Free Range wasn’t a concept my little Wisconsin mind was familiar with yet, as my parents and I raised our own chickens, we always had free range…we just didn’t call it that…we had ”yard hens!”

Go forth! Shop! Eat!

More updates and tips as we get closer to May 17.


Tuesday, May 10, 2005


The French have a number of traditional proverbs classifying wine by the effect they have on the drinker. These seem to be based, in part, on the Talmudic parable of Noah's vineyard, where Satan spied Noah planting his vines and offered to help. Satan slaughtered a lamb, a lion, a monkey and a pig, and poured their blood over the vine. Satan's message was that with one glass of wine man was like a lamb, gentle and mild; with two glasses he becomes like a lion, full of pride; with three glasses he becomes like a monkey, chattering and profane; and when drunk, man becomes like a pig, wallowing in his own shame.

Wine that makes you:
Stupid................vin d'ane
Maudlin, tearful......vin de cerf
Quarrelsome...........vin de lion
Talkative.............vin de pie
Crafty................vin de renard
Rude, troublesome.....vin de singe
Sick..................vin de pore

SUPERNACULAR: adj. A description of wine so superlative that it is drunk to the very last drop--proved by upturning the empty glass upon one's fingernail and ensuring that not a single drop forms thereon.

"All-or nearly all-Red wine is better for having just one or two drops of water poured into the first glass only. Why this should be I do not know, but so it is. It introduces it. This admirable and little known custom is called 'Baptizing' wine."
-Hilaire Beloc, Advice, c.1950

All From: Schott's Food & Drink Miscellany by Ben Schott

A votre sante!


Slap Your Mama!

I've made this dessert once, maybe twice. I don't think I legally can make something this sweet again. It will hurt your teeth, maybe give you a sugar rush, and probably will give you a sugar headache. But, It is delicious!

If you haven't spent a Saturday morning with Paula Deen on the Food Network, you're missing out. She's a randy older lady who loves food and loves her family. During the episode when she made this dessert, she took a taste at the end and said:
"Momma needs a spanking, cause she's been a bad girl."

Ladies and Germs, Paula Deen gives us:

Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding with Butter Rum Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Yield: about 12 servings

2 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
2 (4.5-ounce) cans fruit cocktail (undrained)
2 eggs, beaten
1 box yellow raisins
1 pinch salt
1 or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Butter Rum Sauce, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cube donuts into a large bowl. Pour other ingredients on top of donuts and let soak for a few minutes. Mix all ingredients together until donuts have soaked up the liquid as much as possible.

Bake for about 1 hour until center has jelled and the tips are golden brown and delicious. Top with Butter Rum Sauce.

Butter Rum Sauce:
1 stick butter
1 pound box confectioners' sugar
Rum, to taste

Melt butter and slowly stir in confectioners' sugar. Add rum and heat until bubbly. Pour over each serving of Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Simple Tomato Sauce

When I was a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, I was the community assistant in the grad student dorm. One of my duties was to get the students/residents together to various social programs. For the most part the residents that lived in the dorm I was in, didn't do jack. But get them with food!!! One of the residents was Eleana. She was from Italy. I can't remember from where, sadly.

In the middle of the spring semester we planned a large dinner and many of the residents invited their professors to our dorm for dinner. Eleana planned a large Italian pasta dinner. She taught how to make three different types of sauce. Basic tomato sauce, a variation on that sauce with peppers and then a cheese sauce. I never got the recipe for the cheese sauce--a shame, but Eleana did give me the tomato sauce recipe.

For those who have had my tomato sauce over the past several years, this is it. Enjoy. And this is how she gave it to me.

1 large can of tomato sauce
1 small can of tomato paste
1 large can of tomato diced
1 large onion diced
lots of garlic minced
Olive Oil
salt and pepper
pinch of Sugar
Bay Leaf

Sweat onions, garlic and olive oil
Add in tomatoes, oregano and basil and simmer for an hour
Season with salt & pepper
Drizzle with more olive oil
Serve over any pasta

Sincinnati Chili-Soo Bad, cause it's Soo Good

Joyfully lifted from America's Test Kitchen Live, the most recent cookbook by the editors of Cook's Illustrated. A highly recommended cooking magazine that spawned the highly recommended series on PBS which spawned this VERY highly recommended series of cookbooks. Cook's Illustrated is a wonderful magazine, but slightly on the high priced side for something that comes out every other month.

"Cincinnati Chili was created, according to legend, by a Macedonian immigrant named Athanas Kiradjieff, in the 1920's. He ran a hot dog stand called the Empress, where he served his chili over hot dogs. This deluxe hot dog eventually morphed into the "five-way" concoction beloved by locals."

"Redolent of cinnamon and warm spices, Cincinnati Chili is unlike any chili served in Texas or the rest of the country, for that matter. One taste reveals layers of spices you expect from Middle Eastern or North African cuisine, not food from the American Heartland."

Cincinnati Chili
It is supposed to serve 6-8, we got 4 big servings.

2 teaspoons salt, plus more for taste
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (80-85% lean)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine, (about 2 cups)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups low sodium canned chicken broth (1 14 oz. can Swansons Low Sodium)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar, dark preferred but not necessary
2 cups plain tomato sauce

1) Bring 2 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the ground beef, stirring vigorously to separate the meat into the 'strands' it's ground out of the machine as. As soon as the foam from the meat rises to the top (about 30 seconds) and before the water returns to a boil, drain the meat into a strainer, rinse in warm water and set aside.
NOTE on this step: This process actually removes a portion of the fat in the meat, without rendering it all out, leaving just enough for some good flavor.

2)Rinse and dry the empty saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is warm, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and browned around the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chili powder, oregano, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, allspice, black pepper and the remaining salt. Cook, stirring constantly until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, water, vinegar, sugar and tomato sauce, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any brown bits.
NOTE on this step: It's recommended to dice the onions by hand, a processor will release the natural water in the onion, hindering the browning process. These spices are oil soluble, 'toasting' them in the onions and oil brings out extra flavor. Some chefs call this blooming.

3) Add the beef and increase the heat to high. As soon as the liquid boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chili is deep red and has thickened slightly, about 1 hour. Adjust the seasonings, adding salt and tabasco to taste.
NOTE on this step: Do not cover the chili while it simmers. Covering will keep the steam and liquid in the pan, keeping the chili from thickening properly and remaining soupy.

Serve over buttered spaghetti and top with shredded cheddar, warmed kidney beans and/or diced onions.

UPDATED 2/1/07: A photo entry on Cincinnatti Chili!

Cashew Chicken (low fat and fast)

This recipe may be another Rachel Ray recipe, I'm not sure. I'm looking through my archives at work of things I've saved. This one didn't have any notations as to where it came from.

This recipe is quick cooking. You can seriously be done and eating in 20 minutes if you rocket through the prep work. Thirty minutes is a more conservative time. For two growing boys, this will give you two huge helpings and leave enough for another serving later. I think it's intended to be for four normal eaters.

Cashew Chicken

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
1-2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
½ jalapeno pepper, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch, ginger root, minced
2 TB, sesame oil
2 TB, sherry or red wine vinegar

3 TB, hoisin sauce (see Fast Fact below)
2-3 shakes of red pepper flakes
1-2 handfuls of cashews, unsalted preferred (see Special Note below)
Rice, use the type that you like best

Prepare rice according to directions.

Prepare the chicken, carrots, bell pepper, garlic and ginger root. Thinly slice the chicken into strips. Place the chicken in a bowl with 1 TB of sesame oil, sherry, red pepper flakes, garlic and ginger. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Thinly slice as the carrots and bell pepper. This is a quick cooking recipe and you’ll want to make sure these items cook to the required doneness in a short period of time. I used baby peeled carrots, sliced lengthwise, in quarters. The pepper was cut into strips from top to bottom.

Swirl 1 TB of the sesame oil into a pan or wok set over high heat. Add the carrots and sauté for two to three minutes. Add the chicken and sauté for about five minutes, until cooked through. Add the jalepeno and green peppers. Cook one more minute. Stir in hoisin sauce and cashews, warm for one minute. Serve with rice.

Make sure to start the rice first, if using a slow cooking type of rice, wait to start the chicken until you have approximately 10 minutes left on the rice. If you start the rice later, you will be waiting for it when the chicken is done.

Hoisin Sauce: A rich, dark, sweet barbecue sauce made of soy beans and seasonings, used in Chinese cooking for marinades and basting. Hoisin sauce is easily recognizable in Mu Shu pork and Peking duck. The sauce is made from soybean flour, chiles, red beans, and many other spices. Sold in cans or jars. Store tightly sealed, refrigerated. It is also known as Peking sauce.

If you are serving and anticipate eating the whole amount, prepare as directed. If you plan on saving some for leftovers, don't add the cashews until you do. They do not hold up well in the sauce and get rubbery. Ick. Just add them as more of a 'garnish' after you heat the dish back up.

Pictures Added 9/21/06

More pictures here:

With Orange Peppers

With Green Peppers

Stoup You! Rachel Ray's Italian Sub Stoup

To get us all started, here is a recipe from Rachel Ray on the Food Network. Rachel is my buddy. Well, she would be if she got to spend more time with. The 2 minutes I had with her at her book signing really wasn't enough time to be BFF. Rachel makes these dishes called "Stoups" Thicker than a soup, thinner than a stew. A Stoup.

We made this Italian Sub Stoup and it was delish! I watched her show and picked up stuff from the store, without getting the recipe. So, this is my version of Rachel Ray's Italian Sub Stoup.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
3/4 pound, Andouille sausage
1/4 pound piece stick pepperoni, diced
1 ham steak, diced (about 1/2 to 3/4 pound)
1 green bell pepper, seeded, quartered and sliced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, quartered and sliced
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound gemelli pasta or other short-cut pasta

Parmigiano-Reggiano for garnish

Place a soup pot or deep sided skillet on the stove top and preheat to medium high heat. Add olive oil, 2 turns of the pan and the sausage. Brown and crumble the sausage, drain off excess fat if necessary then add the ham and pepperoni. Cook meats together 2 minutes then add peppers and onions and cook 2 or 3 minutes more. Add diced tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add chicken stock and bring stoup to a boil. Stir in pasta and cook for 8 minutes. Top with a handful of the Parm.

To make this more of an 'Italian Sub' stoup, Rachel makes "garlic toast floaters." Basically giant garlic croutons. Her way, I was skeptical of. You can just buy your own, serve this with a crusty loaf of bread, avoid extra carbs all together or make this version:

1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
garlic powder
3-4 one inch slices of hearty bread, cut into cubes.

Mix together and place on a baking sheet and put in the 350 oven for 5-10 minutes, check to watch for browning, turn and continue to watch. The cubes with crisp up nicely.

In the future I'll try to make this recipe clearer, as I never wrote it down, but they were tasty!

A note on Kosher Salt:
Kosher salt is a coarse flake salt. It usually contains calcium silicate to prevent caking, but its grains are very large and coarse. Kosher salt contains no iodine. In certain recipes (and in Margaritas), Kosher salt adds a "crunchy" texture. Many chefs prefer Kosher salt for this large coarse texture. You can really feel that "pinch of salt" that a recipe asks for. The larger grains also stick really well to meats when you are preparing to cook. If you are baking, use regular table salt. It will incorporate better into your doughs.


Welcome friends and foodies. This is my second blog attempt. The first was a random set of rantings and raves and I really didn't enjoy it. This blog will have a focus of food. Fitting for me. I hope to have regular updates featuring restaurant and recipe reviews. Please give me as much feedback as you can.

The recipes I'll be posting will include meat-centric dishes as well as veggie friendly dishes when I have them. I'll also post recipes for my infamous desserts. But those posts might disappear afterwhile, as they are what will keep me in business!!!! (wink wink)

I hope to begin soon with the postings.

Bon bouffe!