Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tinga Poblana w/Chicken

The directive for dinner was "chicken" and "Mexican." So I grabbed the Williams-Sonoma Mexican cookbook on the way out the door. Flip, Flip, Flip.

Page 69 looked good; Tinga Poblano w/Chicken. We have chorizo, chicken, chipotles en adobo=tasty.

I only had to get one item at the store-Chorizo, a spicy, Mexican pork sausage flavored with garlic and chile. I picked up a sausage at Whole Foods, and now we're good to go.

Tinga Poblana w/Chicken

1 lb chicken thighs (I used boneless/skinless breasts)
1 onion, 1/2 cut into large cubes, 1/2 finely diced
4 cloves garlic, 2 smashed, 2 minced
1 TB cooking oil
1/2 lb chorizo, casings removed and crumbled
1 can chopped tomatoes (if in juice, drain-if in sauce, don't drain)
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
2 canned chiles chipotles en adobo with 1 TB sauce, diced

thinly sliced white onion
diced avacado

Place the chicken, onion chunks and smashed garlic in a saucepan and add water to cover. Add 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off any foam that forms on the surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is opaque throughout, 20-30 minutes.

Using a tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate. Reserve the broth. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard any skin or fat or bones and coarsely shred the meat with your fingers or a fork.

In a large frying pan or Dutche Oven over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the chorizo and fry for about 5 minutes. Remove the excess rendered fat. Add the finely chopped onion, garlic and saute until beginning to soften, but not yet starting to brown, about 1 minute. Add about 1 cup of the reserved chicken broth, deglaze the pan. Add the shredded chicken, tomatoes, oregano, bay leaves and chiles. Stir until blended. Simmer, uncovered, until the flavors are blended, about 15 minutes. Add more broth to the pan if the mixture begins to stick, but do not add too much; the mixture should absorb the liquid and not be runny. Remove and discard the bay leaves and season to taste with salt. Schoop the chicken into a warmed serving dish and garnish with the onion and avocado. (I garnished with some extra cilantro,and the avocado was in the form of guacomole.)

"Tinga," a specialty of Puebla, means "disorder" in Spanish and refers to a dish of savory shredded meat often used as a filling for tacos.

Make-Ahead Tip: The chicken can be cooked up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate until needed. You can also prepare the entire dish 1-2 days in advance and then reheat it over low heat.

Serving Tips: Serve with warmed tortillas for diners to use for making tacos, or spoon over rice (we did that!)

My Notes:
1) I enjoyed this dish. Hot, but not too hot. Some great flavors. It was wonderful on rice, but I look forward to trying the leftovers with some tortillas either as tacos, or maybe as a quesadilla filling!?!?!

2) I might add a TB of tomato paste next time to add another layer of richness.

3) There is some heat in the dish, from the chipotles and from the chorizo. A little dollop of sour cream can help tame it if it's too much for you.

4) I made some guacomole to go with the dinner. And some tortilla chips. Scoop up some chicken, add some guac. Great! I'll make this again!!!

Still Life


Find the recipe here. It was part of our dinner tonight, stay tuned for more.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Thai Beef

I caught an episode of America's Test Kitchen the other day. It's been a long time since there was an episode I hadn't already seen. They were doing a beef stir fry that sounded pretty tasty. I made this the other evening with the Szechaun Green Beans. As I mentioned with the green beans, they weren't that great. This beef was pretty good! I'd make it again.

Stir-Fried Thai-Style Beef w/Chiles and Shallots
-America's Test Kitchen
Serves 4 with rice
If you cannot find blade steaks, use flank steak; because flank steak requires less trimming, you will need only about 1 3/4 pounds. To cut a flank steak into the proper-sized slices for stir-frying, first cut the steak with the grain into 1 1/2-inch strips, then cut the strips against the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. White pepper lends this stir-fry a unique flavor; black pepper is not a good substitute. Serve the stir-fry with steamed jasmine rice.

Beef and Marinade
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp light brown sugar
1 TB fish sauce
2 lb blade steak, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips

2 TB fish sauce
2 TB rice vinegar
2 TB water
1 TB light brown sugar
1 TB Asian chili-garlic paste
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 TB vegetable oil
3 serrano or jalapeño chiles, halved, seeds and ribs removed, chiles cut crosswise 1/8 inch thick
3 medium shallots, trimmed, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and layers separated
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, large leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
lime wedges for serving

1. FOR THE BEEF AND MARINADE: Combine coriander, white pepper, brown sugar, and fish sauce in large bowl. Add beef, toss well to combine; marinate 15 minutes.

NOTE: I couldn't get flank or blade steak at the store. They did have some roast that was sliced really thin, against the grain. It was a fine substitute. Very tender and held up to the cooking. As for the marinade; I only had about 3/4 lb of beef and there hardly enough marinade. If I make this again in the future with a full 2 lbs of beef, I'll double the marinade quantities.

2. FOR THE STIR-FRY: In small bowl, stir together fish sauce, vinegar, water, brown sugar, and chili-garlic paste until sugar dissolves; set aside. In small bowl, mix garlic with 1 teaspoon oil; set aside. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking; add one-third of beef to skillet in even layer. Cook, without stirring, until well browned, about 2 minutes, then stir and continue cooking until beef is browned around edges and no longer pink in the center, about 30 seconds. Transfer beef to medium bowl. Repeat with additional oil and remaining meat in 2 more batches.

3. After transferring last batch of beef to bowl, reduce heat to medium; add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to now-empty skillet and swirl to coat. Add chiles and shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Push chile-shallot mixture to sides of skillet to clear center; add garlic to clearing and cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir to combine garlic with chile-shallot mixture. Add fish sauce mixture to skillet; increase heat to high and cook until slightly reduced and thickened, about 30 seconds. Return beef and any accumulated juices to skillet, toss well to combine and coat with sauce, stir in half of mint and cilantro; serve immediately, sprinkling individual servings with portion of peanuts and remaining herbs, and passing lime wedges separately.

NOTE: Fresh mint is crucial. Don't make this if you don't have the fresh mint. It just works so well and really makes this dish pop. I completely forgot about the peanuts...oops. Maybe next time. Make sure you have all your ingredients measured out and prepared. This all moves pretty quickly and you don't want to stop to find something in the fridge or cupboard. For all the jalapenos and chili sauce, this really isn't a 'hot' dish. I was surprised by the mild heat. Perhaps it's the fresh herbs and lime that cut some of the heat? Very good!

I look forward to making this again.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Green Beans

A week or so ago Terri in WI forwarded a recipe that was loaded full of broccoli and cauliflower...neither of which get much appreciation from me. But the basis of the recipe was the sauce and the suggestion to work around with the veg element. Having had a Szechaun Green Bean in Chicago I loved (I owe you all a wrap-up of that trip and the food). And they are a favorite from Spices in Cleveland Park, I decided to give the recipe a shot with just green beans.

Szechuan Green Beans
serves 4-6 as a side

6 cups green beans, ends trimmed
3 TB oyster sauce
1 TB water
1/4 tsp chili paste or red pepper flakes
1 TB olive oil
1 TB peeled and minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green (spring) onion, green top only, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Bring a large saucepan 3/4 full of water to a boil. Add the green beans and return to a boil. Cook until the beans are tender-crisp, about 2-3 minute. Drain them and plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the oyster sauce, water and chili paste. Set aside.

In a large, heavy nonstick frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Don't let the garlic brown. Add the beans and saute until just tender, about 2 minutes. Add the oyster sauce mixture and toss until the sauce is evenly distributed and the mixture is heated through, about 1 minute.

Transfer to a warmed serving dish and garnish with the green onion. Serve immediately.

Feedback: These were all right. Not great. But not awful. Giant had a poor selection of green beans, so I went with frozen. I'm going to say the final outcome was less then perfect because of the frozen green beans. I'll try these again, hopefully with some great fresh green beans and have much better results. I might also try adding a little soy or hoisin to the sauce mix for a wee bit more flavor? We'll see.

We had the green beans with a tasty Thai style beef dish. Stay tuned for more on that.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

You Devils

So the other night I made the Warm French Lentil Salad and Deviled Pork Chops. Very delicious. And super easy. I might have mentioned before, but I'm not a fan of mustard, but when it's mixed into the right things, I'm finding I enjoy what it brings to the party.

These chops are deviled because of the "spicy" flavors they have. A touch of heat from the mustard and from the cayenne pepper. But don't think they are HOT. It's a very mild heat that is tempered by the sweetness of the brown sugar.

As you'll see in the pictures, I grilled the chops on my grill pan. The recipe calls for broiling. My broiler works great, but I have no control over the heat of the broiler or how far from the flame I can place the food. For that reason alone, I decided to grill the chops. Worked Great!!! I can see these becoming a regular feature on a summer grill!

Deviled Pork Chops
From Fine Cooking
Serves 4

¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 TB firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp ground cayenne
4 1-inch-thick, bone-in center-cut loin pork chops (2 ½ - 3 lbs.)
Kosher salt
1 TB coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Stir together the mustard, brown sugar, lemon juice, Worcestershire, and cayenne in a small bowl.

Position and oven rack 3 to 4 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler to high. Lin the bottom of a broiler pan with foil and replace the perforated top part of the pan. Arrange the pork on the broiler pan and season generously on both sides with salt. Brush about half of the mustard mixture over the top of the chops. Broil until the chops are deeply browned in spots 6 to 8 minutes. Turn the chops over with tongs, brush with the remaining mixture, and continue to broil until the pork is browned and cooked through (an instant-read thermometer in the center of a chop should register 145F), about 5 minutes more. Let rest a few minutes before serving. Sprinkle the better looking sides of the chops with parsley, if using, and transfer to serving plates.

Hanging out on the grill pan.

Silly me. The chops ended up on the "beef" plate! I scooped the lentils on the "pork" plate by accident. Ooops.

Deviled Pork Chops with Warm French Lentil Salad.


A week ago, I made my Drunken Thai Noodle recipe. It's pretty tasty, but just not as good as the previous times I made it. I couldn't find the right noodles at the store, which was a total disappointment because I haven't had much trouble in the past. Oh, and the basil was not in the best shape, so there wasn't enough in the recipe. I couldn't get any at Giant...they had every other fresh herb you could think of, but not basil. Always happens. Who is going to be 20 packets of fresh bay leaves?! Anyway, this recipe is very tasty and once you have the ingredients for the sauce in your pantry, it is really affordable and can come together really quick. I like it a touch more saucy, so I usually fib on the higher end of each ingredient amount. I think you can get away with just a 1/2 a pound of the ground meat (too much turkey in this batch, chicken or pork are great options as well).

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Warm Lentil Salad

Like other legumes, lentils are low in fat and high in protein and fiber, but they have the added advantage of cooking quickly. Lentils have a mild, often earthy flavor, and they're best if cooked with assertive flavorings. The best, most delicate lentils are the peppery French green lentils. These hold their shape well, but take longer to cook than other lentils. The milder brown lentils also hold their shape after cooking, but can easily turn mushy if overcooked. Indian markets also carry a wide variety of split lentils, called dal. Before cooking, always rinse lentils and pick out stones and other debris. Unlike dried beans and peas, there's no need to soak them. Lentils cook more slowly if they're combined with salt or acidic ingredients, so add these last. Bigger or older lentils take longer to cook. Store dried lentils for up to a year in a cool, dry place. (Source)

My new issue of Fine Cooking showed up this weekend and I immediately set about choosing recipes to try. I found two that I thought would pair very well. Here's the first one. Warm French Lentil Salad. It was pretty easy and tasty. I'm surprised I liked it, but I do think it's best warm (more later). I first had lentils about 7-8 years ago, in a lentil soup. I thought I was going to try them and immediately whither into a ball and eating lentils! Are you crazy. But the soup was actually tasty. That was the last time I had them and have been thinking about trying them, but never really got to it...until tonight!

Warm French Lentil Salad with Smoked Sausage
from Fine Cooking

Serves 4-6

The very small, dark greenish brown du Puy lentils (also called French lentils) are firming then brown lentils and hold their shape better during cooking. In France the sausage would be saucisson à l’ail, a semi-cooked smoked garlic sausage. Kielbasa makes a fine substitute.

This classic bistro salad would make a fine first course to a warming winter dinner, but it is also good at the center of a weeknight meal. Just add a loaf of crusty bread and a tangle of lightly dressed mesclun greens for an easy, but satisying supper.

1 ½ cups (10oz.) du Puy lentils (French lentils)
3 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, smashed
¼ tsp. black peppercorns
1 small onion, peeled
1 small carrot, peeled and split lengthwise

8 oz. smoked sausage
1 cup dry white wine
2 ½ TB red wine vinegar (more as needed)

2 tsp Dijon mustard
Kosher salt
3 TB extra-virgin olive oil
3 TB walnut oil

¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
¼ cup finely chopped scallions (3-4 scallions)
Freshly ground black pepper

Pick over and rinse the lentils, and put them in a 3-4 qt. saucepan. Pile the thyme, bay leaves, garlic and peppercorns on a 5 inch square of double layer cheese cloth. Gather up the edges and tie into a little pouch with kitchen twine. Add the pouch to the pan along with the onion and carrot. Fill the pan with cold water to cover the lentils by about 2 inches, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately lower to a gentle simmer—boiling can break the lentils—and simmer, uncovered, until just tender, 30-40 minutes. (If the water level drops below the surface of the lentils as they simmer, add a little more water.)

Meanwhile, put the sausage in a small saucepan or deep skillet. Add the wine and enough water to cover by about ½ inch. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat as needed to cook at a bare simmer (bubbles should only occasionally break the surface), uncovered, until a metal skewer inserted into the center comes out feeling hot to the touch, 15-20 minutes.

While the lentils and sausage cook, make the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk 1 ½ TB of vinegar with the mustard and a pinch of salt. In a steady stream, whisk in the olive and walnut oils. Season to taste with salt.

Drain the lentils, discarding the herb pouch, carrot and onion. Transfer to a large bowl and add 1 tsp. salt and the remaining 1 TB vinegar, tossing to coat. Drain the sausage, and if necessary, peel off the casing (bit into a piece first—many sausage casings are thing enough to leave on). Slice into ¼-inch rounds. Add the sausage and vinaigrette to the lentils, tossing to coat. Stir in the parsley and scallions, and season with a generous amount of black pepper, plus more salt and vinegar to taste.

I paired the lentils with Deviled Pork Chops (recipe forthcoming). Great pairs!

So some notes:
1) I didn't peel the carrot, just scrubbed it. Easy.
2) I bought and used Smoked Turkey Keilbasa, instead of a pork sausage. It's precooked, so I sliced it and sauteed/simmered that way, instead of cooking a full length sausage and then slicing. Tasted great and worked well. I only simmered in wine and didn't add water. I let them cook until the wine reduced to a thick syrup and poured it all into the lentils. A little extra flavor profile.
3) I couldn't find walnut oil in the store, so instead of going straight up olive oil, I found and bought a small bottle of grapeseed oil. I couldn't tell a difference, so maybe all olive oil is fine?!?
4) Check the lentils for stones and other bits. I've come across recipes saying you need to pick things over and have never had anything to actually pick out, until the lentils. There were a lot of little stones.
5) I had my first taste, fresh from the stove, these guys were steaming. By the time I plated up, took all the pictures I wanted, the lentils started to cool and by the time I was nearly done, they were nearly cold. I didn't like them as much cold. They were fine, but I liked them warm.
6) Servings. The recipe says this is for 4-6. I think you could easily count this for 6-8.
7) As easy as skipping the kielbasa, you'll have vegetarian lentils. I know it goes without saying, but they would be a very hearty, unique veggie dish.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Loosely Interpreted Puddin'

I needed a sweet last night after a less than yummy dinner.

I had leftover rice. Heavy cream. Hot fudge. OK.

Warm the heavy cream in the small saucepan with a tsp or two of sugar. Add a heaping tsp of this amazing hot fudge sauce that came back with us from Michigan. Oh, a wee pinch of salt. When at a light simmer add your rice. Stir to incorporate. Pour into a bowl. Indulge.

Warm Chocolate Rice "Pudding!"

I could eat another bowl...and maybe I'll make more rice, just to have 'leftover' rice for more!

I say "Pudding" because I think a real rice pudding had egg in it and is allowed to set up and get thicker, more custard like. Perhaps as I play around with this, I'll give it a try.

This website says some puddings have egg and some don't. Very well then!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

JC Superstar

I received a double gift this Christmas, so I returned one to Amazon and with the credit purchased this DVD set!!! I can't wait. Such fun. I've only ever seen clips-this will be the first time I've seen the whole episodes.

3 Discs:
1-Starters & Sides
The Potato Show
Your Own French Onion Soup
Bouillabaisse a la Marseillaise
The Spinach Twins
Salade Nicoise
French Fries

2-Main Courses
Boeuf Bourguignon
To Roast A Chicken
The Lobster Show
To Stuff A Sausage
Tripes a la Mode
The Whole Fish Story

3-Baking, Desserts and Other Classics
Queen of Sheba Cake
Cheese and Wine Party
Apple Dessert
Mousse Au Chocolat
The Good Loaf
The Omelette Show

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Dinner tonight -- early I know -- was to be simple and quick. Just me and I was hungry so I didn't want to wait long. In five minutes I had the quickest, tastiest snack/dinner.

And I'm soooo proud of myself...for the first time I managed to flip a fried egg, with only the pan, without breaking the yolk. Wheeeeee!

Seasoned with a grind of black pepper and a pinch of chunky sea salt and piece of toasted bread. YUM. I was so pleased, I had to do it all again. And now I'm happy.

Another "Cook-What-You-Have" Night!

This was fun. I'm going to call it Cajun Chicken Chili with Couscous...Alliteration!

I had some chicken in the freezer, so I pulled that out to thaw. I almost always have canned tomatoes. An onion and garlic. Why not use up the remaining bag of frozen corn. Wine? SURE!!! Seasoning...I recieved a free bottle of Cajun Seasoning from one of my larger orders from Penzey's (link is to the cajun seasoning, so you can see what it contains). Why not try it out. Also added some extra cumin, cinnamon, coriander, oregano and parsley.

I sliced the chicken (2 boneless/skinless breasts) thinly and tossed it in 2 heaping TB of the cajun seasoning and a big pinch of salt. Set that aside. Slice the onions and throw in a medium dutch oven with a TB or two of olive oil until soft and translucent. Add a few cloves of chopped garlic. Scoop out of the pot and set aside. Add the chicken (in batches) and saute until nearly cooked through. Remove to a bowl. When done with the chicken deglaze your pan with about a cup of dry white wine. Add the chicken and onions back into the pan. Add the corn and one can of diced tomatoes and their juice. Add the extra seasoning (cumin, cinnamon, coriander, oregano and parsley...small handfuls of each...if you have them. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and let go for a few minutes.

Meanwhile make a bit of Israeli Couscous...about 1/2 a cup of uncooked couscous will give you enough for two big servings and enough for a second bowl each.

Serve your Cajun Chicken Chili with a scoop of couscous on top. Mmmmm! Ladle a bit of extra broth into the bowl.

This was a tasty treat..."It tastes like more!" So we each had more. I'd love to have more things in this dish, but it was what I had. Some peppers. Some chorizo or andouille sausage. Maybe I'd chop or shred the chicken. But overall, I really enjoyed it. Oh, and maybe some broth or extra wine, to allow it all to mix with the couscous...which worked really well with this!

Saturday, January 13, 2007



This is a Ricer. I've had this ricer for a few years, a gift that was purchased at the Eastern Market flea market a few years ago. The primary use of the ricer is to "rice" potatoes. Riced potatoes make the smoothest 'mashed' potatoes you can image. You just cut and boil your potatoes until fork tender. Drain and fill the hopper of the ricer. Position the plunger and squeeze into a large bowl. Add a little butter and cream, stir and done! Delish. Riced potatoes are also a main ingredient in gnoccchi--hopefully I'll tackle those little suckers soon! I can imagine the ricer being used for other root veggies you would puree or mash...carrots? turnips? parsnips? sweet potatoes? In the past I've not peeled the potatoes before cooking and then ricing them. This works ok, but the peels can clog the ricer up. It's easiest to use when the veg have been peeled.

Riced Potatoes. You see the rice-like texture of the potatoes after they have been pressed through the hopper. Light and airy!

If it looks like a duck...?

When I was 16, I cooked my first Thanksgiving. Long story short, I didn't want to go deer hunting, so my parents said I had to cook Thanksgiving Dinner...I think they thought they were punishing me for not partaking in the 'family activity' of killing bambi. Ha.

Well, my first Thanksgiving didn't have a turkey, but a Roast Duck. I was 16 and had no idea what they heck I was doing, but I roasted that damn duck. It was fine, but wasn't great. Fatty Fatty Fatty! Yep, duck is fatty. Well, that was the last time I cooked duck. Until Last Night!

I've learned a lot over the past few years of cooking, studying and eating. I've learned I like to eat duck, but my memories of the fatty roast duck scared me when it comes to cooking.

But last night that all changed. I pulled out a recipe in a new cookbook: The Irish Spirit; Recipes Inspired by the Legendary Drinks of Ireland by Margaret M. Johnson. Mmmmm!

This is a very simple recipe that only requires that you can find duck breasts. I picked mine up at Eastern Market. They were packaged in a freezer pack of the breasts from two ducks. Enough dinner for 3 people. The breasts were very small once you remove all the fat (which you need to do for this recipe!) Some of the recipe is slightly altered from the original (quantities mostly).

Duck au Poivre

4 duck breasts (6-7 oz each, skin removed)
2 TB cracked black pepper (medium crack is good)
Sea Salt
1 TB canola oil
1 TB Kerrygold Irish Butter (if you can find it-it's worth it!)
1 TB sherry vinegar (I had cream sherry-it worked)
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup broth (beef or chicken-I used chicken)
1/4 cup Irish whiskey (I had Kentucky Bourbon-it worked)
3/4 cup heavy cream

Rub both sides of the duck breasts with pepper, pressing it into the flesh with your fingers. Season with salt.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil and butter. Add the duck and cook for 3 minutes on each side (for medium rare; 6 minutes per side for well done).

Remove the duck from the pan and keep warm. Add the shallots and vinegar, and with a wooden spoon, scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the stock, whiskey and cream, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-7 minutes until the sauce thickens.

To serve, slice the duck breast and arrange on a warm plat, surround with the sauce.


A few words of caution: Gas Stove + Whiskey = Flambe!

FUN!!! But be prepared. I added the broth, then the whiskey and whoof! I knew it was going to happen, but it was still a big whoof! I let it go a minute then extinguished with the cover for the pan. Then I added the cream. I think if you do the broth, cream THEN the whiskey, the likelihood of the flaming is going to go down as the alcohol is diluted. But FUN!!! Make sure to be prepared though!!!

DUCK is best cooked to medium-rare, no more than medium if you can help it. I followed the directions of the recipe and ended up with medium to medium-well. Duck gets chewy and not as delish at those levels. Either my medium-high flame was too high or the breasts were to small and cooked to quickly. I could have stopped cooking at 2 minutes per side. It's ok, because they were still good with the sauce and the middle pieces were the best as they still had the lightly bit of pink left.

Joyous had joined us for dinner and the 4 small duck breasts were enough for us with a good side of steamed green beans and a yummy green salad. We were full and happy, with room for dessert afterwards! And really, the shallot, whiskey and cream sauce is just divine!

Quick Bread

Quick Story: When we went to Michigan over Christmas, we stopped at this cute little kitchen shop in "Olde Towne" Lansing. There were plenty of things I would have loved to buy, but kept control. But they did have a very nice selection of King Arthur flour products. FUN! Over the past few months, when I've had to buy flour, I've bought the King Arthur brand when I can find it. It is pretty good and I'd say worth the slightly higher prices.

At this shopw, I bought a package of Italian Style/OO flour. I haven't used it yet, but I'm looking forward to making some pizza dough with that! I also bought this great mix: Vermont Maple & Walnut Muffin/Quick Bread mix. So simple and really delicious! I hightly recommend it if you can find it. There is a little recipe on the back for a maple glaze. Make it. But instead of milk use cream and instead of maple flavoring, use maple syrup...about 3 TB of it. YUM!!! Great breakfast bread and / or dessert (as it was last night).

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Interesting. I had no idea what was for dinner. This was a "What's in the cupboard/fridge for dinner?" night.

I'm going to call this a Persian Cacciatore!

some Baharat Seasoning
Golden Raisins
Pine Nuts

Served over rice with a squeeze of lemon. Interesting and tasty!

If we do this again, we won't use a full can of diced tomatoes. And make sure to rinse the capers. Some carrots and peppers would be nice, but we didn't have any.


OMG! I got Mork's space pod for Christmas. It's perfect as a salt cellar!

Alright, they are actually pieces from Nigella Lawson's kitchen collection.
Aren't they just cute? The salt cellar is huge!

Hi Nigella! How are you honey?

Monday, January 08, 2007


Warm and gooey!Panettone Bread Pudding w/Frangelico Cream Sauce

This was so satisfying and delicious. Tasty like a warm, gooey, tender, sweet cinnamon roll. And really easy! It's possible I didn't do it right and didn't have the right proportions (eggs/cream=custard ratios-fixed in the recipe below). That's ok, what ultimately came out of the oven was yummy!

Panettone Bread Pudding
5-6 cups of Panettone bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk
6 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla

1 TB butter
1 9x9 pan

Frangelico Cream Sauce
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
2-3 TB sugar (depending on desired sweetness)
2/3 TB Frangelico (depending on strength of hazelnut flavor)
1 tsp corn starch

Here's your Panettone. I've seen them at Giant and Safeway during the holidays. Our Giant actually carries them year round. Panettone is a slightly sweet, eggy bread studded with raisins and candied orange peels. When you turn this into bread pudding, you get to use less sugar and you don't have to worry about raisins or, in this case, candied orange peel--both great in the bread pudding.

1) Use the butter to coat the inside of the 9x9 pan. Add the bread cubes.

2) Mix the remaining pudding ingredients in a large bowl. Pour over the bread cubes, pushing all pieces so they are covered/dipped in the custard mixture. Allow to rest for 30 minutes. This gives the bread an opportunity to soak up the flavors. Preheat oven to 350.

The pudding resting. Make sure that you push all pieces so they at least get coated in the custard mix. And if you can think about it, tuck the raisin pieces under the bread--they can burn in the oven. Place the 9x9 pan on a rimmed baking sheet, helps if you have any spill overs during baking. The amount of custard mix/bread really fills the pan.

3) After resting, place the pudding in the oven for approximately 45 minutes. The top will become golden and the whole thing will have a light jiggle to it. Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 20 minutes.

The final puddin' in the oven. See how high it rose in the pan!!! I was suprised. Thankfully there weren't any spillovers during cooking, but if there were, I had the baking sheet. While cooling on the counter, the pudding did fall, back to the level of the baking tin. It's ok, but I was a little sad it wasn't still towering, I'm sure it's just the steam escaping, and that's ok!

Frangelico Cream Sauce

Mix all ingredients in a small pan and bring to a light simmer over medium heat. Stir until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and spoon over individual servings of warm pudding.

PS: This recipe is sort of/basically totally is ripped from Giada DeLaurentis. I had the Panettone and said, I'm going to use it to make a bread pudding. But I needed to find the ingredients for the custard. Giada had her recipe for a 9x13 pan and the sauce was Amaretto (yum). I shrunk proportions - got them wrong - and added cinnamon, nutmeg and maybe vanilla?!?. So it was her recipe that I hijacked. Yum! Speaking of the sauce, Frangelico-Yum. Amaretto-Yum. Vanilla-Yum. Almond-Yum! Chocolate-Yum! So many ways to go!

After a week and almost a half, I finally feel somewhat normal. That was a killer cold. Doctor says I didn't have the flu, but it sure felt like it.

BUT It's passed...mostly...still have a cough and some congestions, but I think I can function as a normal human being.

That said, please stayed tuned for more regularly scheduled posts this week.

I received a few nice books for Christmas and have earmarked one for several recipes this week...Meals inspired by Irish Drinks! If the stars align, there will be a little something I've been dying to make, but have been afraid of ruining...!!!! Fingers crossed.

And don't's Restaurant Week in DC...go out and back if you have a favorite!

Thursday, January 04, 2007


What is this?

I can't wait to hear all your ideas. I'll post the packaging in a few days to show you what's actual purpose is.


Cocoricamo got it right...a PB & J Spreader! It was in my x-mas stocking. Tee hee...! I didn't know these things existed.

And DC Food Blog...pregnant??? No, just bloated.

Tarty Yummy Lemony Goodness

I was a wee bit suprised tonight when I went to Giant to get leeks for dinner. I wasn't. Giant not having a critical ingredient for my planned dinner. But all is well, I had a back-up in my mind. No Chicken with Leeks, but yes to Chicken Piccata.

The chicken piccata is pretty darn easy to make. A few ingredients and you'll be down in about 10 minutes. You do want to make sure all your ingredients are prepped in advance, because once you get started, this does move along pretty quick.

Chicken Piccata

2-3 TB olive oil
4 thin chicken cutlets
1/3 cup flour
1 shallot, finely diced
1 cup chicken broth
juice of one lemon
2 tsp capers, rinsed
1 TB chopped parsley
2-3 TB unsalted butter

Rice for serving...from you brand new rice maker!!! (love it!) Noodles are good as well, but I actually prefer this with rice.

Have all your ingredients prepared in advance. And have your rice cooker cooking your rice!

1). In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, season the chicken with salt & pepper and then lightly coat with flour. Shake to remove excess. Carefully lay the chicken in the hot pan. Cook until golden brown and delicious on both sides!

G.B.&D! You flour the chicken to help the browning process and the little bits of flour that come off in the cooking will help the sauce thicken a touch later one.

2) When the chicken is done, remove to a plate. Toss the shallots into the pan and allow to soften, about 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with chicken broth. Scrape up all the bits in the pan. Turn the heat to high. Allow to reduce by 1/2.

Shallots smell so good when cooking!

3) When the broth has reduced by half, add the lemon juice, capers and 3/4's of the chopped parsley. Allow this to reduced by 1/2. Remove from the heat and swirl the butter into the sauce.

Give a quick taste at this point. See if you need any extra salt/pepper. The capers are generally plenty salty.

4) Plate up. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and the rice. Garnish with the remaining parsley.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

More Soup

Leftover Soup + Frozen "fresh" Orecchiette =

Extra yummy soup for when you are sick.

I'm a touch better today!!! Still no's not until you can't talk that you realize how much you like to talk! I remembered last night during one of my hourly wake ups that my mom had a remedy for sore I had to give it a shot. Gargling with salt water. It's been years since I did that, but oh did it soothe my throat! Did it a few more times throughout the day and will continue tomorrow. I have to be better by this weekend so I can go to the movies with Joyous and Sterfanie.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Usually I'm one to jump to new products, but the pre-packaged minced garlic is one that I've always been skeptical of. Finally today I decided to bite the bullet and try it out.

In my years of avoidance, my number one reason was taste, I expected the pre-packaged minced garlic to have a funny taste or scent.

Today when making my soup, I added in one teaspoon (2 cloves) and the harm done. Everything tasted alright. And I saved some time and clean up. I think I'll keep this on hand for the quick garlic needs...but certainly won't give up the real deal anytime soon.

Soup makes you feel better

The only good thing to come out of being sick...grilled cheese and tomato basil soup!

In a nutshell, I spent 50% of my vacation...the entire time while in Chicago with this sicky cold. The good's not the says Mr. Doctor. The bad news is...I've lost my voice...again...constant humming in my ears...feel like I'm swallowing glass...and have a cough that will wake the dead.

Not pleasant.

When I feel better I'll have a quick rerun of our time in Chicago and some of the tasty eats explored there.

The soup...1/2 a large onion, diced--saute in 2 TB of olive oil until soft, add two cloves of garlic, minced. Toss in a large pinch of red pepper flake, a heaping teaspoon of thyme and oregano, plus salt and pepper to taste. Pour in one 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes that you have broken into pieces. Add one can of chicken broth. Simmer for 15-30 minutes. Prior to serving, add about 5 leaves of basil that have been sliced. Stir and eat!