Thursday, February 25, 2010

Poulet au Poivre

I've been craving pepper lately. Not bell peppers or other chilis, I'm talking black pepper. And yes, I use it on everything, but sometimes you have to go a bit further. Using a very common grocery store item, chicken thighs, I adapted this Duck au Poivre recipe into Poulet au Poivre. The only substitute was chicken thighs for duck breasts. I added about a tablespoon of flour to the crushed black pepper to help with the coloring and coating of the chicken.

Poulet au Poivre
So, as mentioned, I added a little flour to the chicken to help the pepper stick, give a little protection to the chicken from the heat and to assist the sauce in thickening a tiny extra bit. Sear until golden on both sides and then cover and cook over medium for about 10 minutes.

Remove the chicken and add 1 minced shallot and a pat of butter.

Now the fun! Remove the pan from the stove and pour in a quarter cup of liquor, I used a Greek brandy, as it's what I had. Tilt the pan to the flame and FLAME ON! Becareful. Keep the liquor bottle away from the stove and make sure your fire extinguisher is nearby. The flame will go away on its own then the alcohol burns off.

Which will leave you with a beautiful, caramel colored, richly flavored sauce. Stir in some broth and a drizzle of cream (optional).

Our pantry is empty. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken. I would have loved this more with a rice pilaf or wild rice, but plain old white rice was good. Oh...risotto would have been decadent! I need to go buy some vegetables...

Monday, February 22, 2010


This past weekend we took in another opportunity to try one of the 100 restaurants highlighted by the Washingtonian as one of the best of 2009's "Cheap Eats." This adventure brought us to Bowie, Maryland for some pretty good BBQ.

KBQ Real Barbeque
12500B1 Fairwood Parkway
Bowie, MD 20720

Washingtonian Review


This was good. As you can see I ordered up the pulled pork platter with two sides; Baked Beans and Mac & Cheese.

What I loved was the naked pork. Just smokey and pulled. Not drenched is sauce, you get to add that on your own. It's nice to get just the meat. Great flavor and plenty moist. Not having the sauce on the meat, gives you the opportunity to try one of two sauces that were shared with us. Original and Spicy. I preferred the flavor of the original and the spicy had just the tiniest bit of kick to it. So when I used the sauce, I mixed the two!

The beans were tender, sweet and peppery. The mac & cheese was some of the best BBQ joint mac & cheese I've had.

DancerinDC ordered the ribs, mac & cheese and cole slaw. He loved the ribs. I had a little taste. They were good. Just off the grill taste, and again, no sauce to smother the meat. The slaw, he said was tasty, but swimming in sauce.

Overall, I'd go back again, but I'm not sure I would make this a destination BBQ trip. If you're in the area, it's worth a stop. If you need to drive, consider really taking the time and heading to Carter Cue in Mt. Airy, MD.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


It's a year in the making, but I have updated the Recipe Archives. The last time I did it was the end of February 2009. Check it out, nearly 470 recipes at the click of a mouse!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Blueberry Cream Pie

There was pie the other day. Very simple, pre-made crust. Frozen berries. A little whipping and a little improvising and we had pie. Very tasty, but the texture was way off...sad sad sad frozen berries. Bummer. But again, the taste was great. Will certainly try it again with fresh blues.

Blueberry Cream Pie

Frozen blueberries mixed with a little sugar and some warm spices. Cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cardamom. This wasn't a part of the recipe, but I thought it would be fun. It was!

The blues are then mixed with a "cream" filling. Sour cream, cream cheese, eggs, vanilla and sugar.

Pour into a pre-made pie crust. Bake for awhile.

Before the pie is done, remove and sprinkle on the topping.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Refrigerate before serving so it's nice and chilled and it sets.

Click here for the recipe.

Hot & Steamy Bowl of Awesome

Slurppppp. SLUUUUUURRRRRRPPPPP! There is nothing as comforting as a hot steamy bowl of soup. Something you throw your face over and gingerly bring the first hot spoon to your mouth...blowing gently to cool so you don't scald your mouth. Usually the first one still does no matter what. But that comforting bowl of soup becomes something magical when you take the time to recognize the years of wisdom and tradition that have gone into the soup by those before you. Even when if that wisdom and the tradition are not your own, they become yours.

During the past snowpocalypse, I took on the task of making Pho, a beef broth based Vietnamese soup. Pho has the power to take you away with it's beefy steam, silky noodles and rich, exotic flavors.

More than vegetable or chicken based broths & soups, beef based soups need time. At least six hours to extract all the flavors necessary to create a perfect bowl.

For more reading on Pho, check out this delightful story & another recipe at the SanFran Gate.

Before you start, make sure you have time to let a pot simmer for several hours. If you have a pressure cooker might be able to speed the time up, but really, why do that? Take the time! The first part of the recipe is to caramelize onions. Cook until they start to get dark brown on the edges. Scoop out and reserve them in a bowl.

In the same pot add beef bones. This is a good time about this soup. You're going to be using parts that you normally would just scoot on by. Bones and ox-tails and other scraps. This recipe also pulls in some chicken bones as well. I had less luck finding chicken bones, so I used a few things and wings. Cover with lots of water and bring to a simmer. What you see happen will be kind of disgusting. There will start to be a variety of foams and crud floating to the surface. You will need to scoop that out and discard. Get as much as you can. The more you can remove, the clearer the broth will be at the end.

Once you simmer and remove the scum for about 30 minutes, add the onions back to the pot as well as the rest of the aromatics. Ginger, carrots, star anise, cinnamon, cardomom and garlic. Bring to a simmer, cover most of the way and simmer for 6 hours.

When the broth is done, scoop out all the bits and pieces and discard them. Don't worry about trying to save any of the meat on the bone. Yes it will be tender, but there won't be any flavor left, it's all in the broth. Strain the broth two or three times through cheesecloth to get out any bits and crumbs leftover.

Part of the fun of Pho are the condiments. Basil, onion, peppers, limes, bean sprouts, hot sauce, hoisin sauce, cilantro. Traditionally the Pho is served with pieces of beef. The times we've had it in restaurants, we found we enjoy it more without beef, so once we have the broth, we move on to the noodles and condiments!

Noodles and fresh cracked pepper swirling in a shimmering broth.

Dressed up. Pho can be highly individualized. For me, my favorite condiments are lime juice, hot sauce and cilantro. Without those, it won't be the same. But with the addition of the onions and sprouts and basil, the flavor changes. It's undescribeable. It's unami. You start to taste things you didn't before. It's tradition.

Adapted from Serious Eats


For the Broth

1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 large onions, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 1/2 pounds meaty beef soup bones
2 1/2 pounds cooked chicken carcass or chicken wings, backbone, and/or feet
5 quarts water
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
4 slices fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
1 small cinnamon stick
5 pods cardamom, lightly crushed (or 1/8 tsp ground cardamom)
2 star anise
2 whole cloves
2 whole garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Accent/MSG & Fish Sauce, to taste (start small, stir in additions, taste and adjust)

Serving Suggestions:

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
onion, sliced as thin as paper
scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
fresh bean sprouts
fresh chopped cilantro
fresh basil, whole leaves
jalapeno chiles, sliced in rings or julienned
limes, quartered for squeezing the juice
Srirachi hot sauce
Hoisin sauce
Cooked rice sticks (thin rice noodles)


1. To make the broth: The day before you plan to serve the soup, in a large stockpot, heat the peanut oil over high heat, then add the sliced onions and cook until browned on the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the onions and set aside.

2. Place the beef and chicken pieces in the stockpot and cover with the water. Bring to a near boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, skimming the surface foam, for 15 minutes. Add the reserved cooked onion slices and the carrots, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, cloves, garlic, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low and simmer, partially covered, for 6 hours, skimming the surface of foam when needed. Strain the stock through a strainer into a large bowl. Strain again through a cheesecloth-lined strainer back into the cleaned stockpot or bowl (I did this step twice). Refrigerate overnight or until the layer of fat forms on top, then remove and discard the fat. You will use 12 cups of broth. (The broth can be frozen at this point if you wish.)

3. When you are ready to serve, attractively arrange a platter with the sliced onions, scallions, bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, chiles, and limes. Place sriracha and hoisin sauces in small bowls for serving.

4. Meanwhile, bring the beef broth to a boil over high heat. Serve with prepared rice noodles and garnish as you wish. *A little bit of everything is very tasty and a great unami experience. My favorite though is a little onion, basil, cilantro, lime juice and sriracha.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Delicious Quick Bread

The Duchess brought pumpkin bread for her visit to Parkway Manor this holiday weekend. Very delicious. Perhaps she will share the recipe with us!!!

UPDATED 2/15/10
Thanks for the recipe Duchess!

Here is the pumpkin bread recipe:

1 2/3 c. flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. oil
1/3 c. buttermilk
1 c. canned pumpkin

Mix ingredients together. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour.

This is the original recipe that I found on It is perfectly good as is, but you can make adjustments, such as:

- substitute plain yogurt for buttermilk (no change in measurement)
- reduce sugar if you want it to be more like a bread and less like a cake
- mix all the dry ingredients together and the wet ingredients separately, then combine
- sift the flour

I did all of the above in the loaf you guys had. One other thing I've done in the past is melt a few squares of unsweetened dark chocolate and swirl that into the batter. Makes for a subtle chocolate flavor and a cool look.

Also, the original recipe doesn't specify what kind of oil. I use canola.


Valentine's Day morning. I mixed up a batch of delicious Ginger Scones. Very flavorful and amazingly light and tender.


A quick dinner during one of the snowstorms this past week. Chicken & cheese quesadillas.


Made a quick batch of Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip treats the other day. Under bake the treats by a minute or two for super chewy goodness.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Hot Italian Beef!

So easy it's stupid!

And so delicious.

Italian Hot Beef

The only thing you need is time. Start with a low temp oven, 275. A chuck roast, a hefty pinch of salt and 3 TB of Italian seasoning.

Add some beef broth, half a jar of hot, pickled peppers and some of the liquid from the jar. Cover and cook for 6 hours.

Remove from the oven and let cool down a bit. Break the roast apart, removing excess fat and and cartilage. Chop up some of the peppers. And optional, strain the cooking liquid of the excess Italian seasoning (there's a lot and after 6 hours of cooking, all the flavor has been extracted).

Serve on toasted hoagie rolls with the au jus on the side for dipping.

Sweet Mother! This was great. Dump everything in the pot and toss in the oven. And the flavor is awesome. Rich and beefy. Tangy and just a wee touch of spice. Sloppy and cheesy. I couldn't be happier. BTW, I'm pretty sure your slow cooker would work for this as well.

Italian Hot Beef
from The Pioneer Woman Cooks!

1 whole Beef Chuck Roast, 2.5 To 4 Pounds
1 can Beef Consomme Or Beef Broth
3 TB (heaping) Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Salt
¼ cups Water
½ jars (16 Oz) Pepperoncini Peppers, With Juice
Buttered, Toasted Deli Rolls

Combine all ingredients in a heavy pot or dutch oven. Stir lightly to combine seasoning with the liquid.

Cover and bake in a 275 degree oven* for 5 to 6 hours, or until meat is fork-tender and falling apart. **If meat is not yet tender, return to oven for 30 minute intervals till it’s tender!**

Remove from oven. With two forks, completely shred all meat, leaving no large chunks behind. Serve immediately, or keep warm over a simmer on the stove.

May make the day before, then store in the refrigerator. Remove the hardened fat from the top before reheating.

Serve on buttered, toasted rolls. Top with cheese and melt under the broiler if desired. Serve with juices from the pot.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Rollin With My Homies

French Bread Rolls

Start with the basic, simple, easy dough recipe.

Divide dough into rolls. Let them rise in a cloth/flour lined muffin tin.

Spritz a HOT oven with water to get a crisp, golden roll.

Serve warm...

...with the best quality butter you can. Divine!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Satisfying Pasta

Let's just jump into last night's dinner shall we.

Cajun Chicken Pasta
One pound of chicken, diced up, seasoned with cajun seasoning, salt & pepper and cooked through. Remove to a plate.

In the same pan, cook some chopped red onion, red pepper, green pepper and garlic until almost tender. You want a little bite left in the peppers. Remove to the plate with the chicken.

In the same pan, deglaze with broth & wine if you want, simmer, add some cream, simmer to reduce. Season with salt/pepper, cayenne pepper if you want some extra heat and a touch more cajun seasoning.

Schlep all the ingredients in the cream sauce with pasta that is just about al dente. Simmer for an extra minute or two to finish cooking the pasta and letting the sauce mingle and marry with the other ingredients.

Toss with fresh parsley and serve up.

This dinner came from The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Great blog. My kind of food! Really a satisfying dinner. All the slurpiness of a chain restaurant's type of pasta dinner, but with the supreme wholesomeness of a home cooked meal. It was fast, easy and adaptable! I skipped the wine, unlike me, but I had my reasons. I used penne, use pasta you prefer. I used canned tomatoes instead of fresh--canned are better than the out of season white tomatoes my store has now. And I added a little shot of Worchestshire sauce just prior to adding the pasta. All in all, very tasty! This will come out again!

Cajun Chicken Pasta
3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Cubes
3 tsp Cajun Spice Mix, More To Taste
1 pound pasta
2 TB Olive Oil
2 TB Butter
1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
½ whole Large Red Onion, Sliced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
½ cups White Wine
1 cup Heavy Cream
Cayenne Pepper To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
Salt To Taste
Chopped Fresh Parsley, To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente; do not overcook!

Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate.

Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.

Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan.

With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy!

Finally, add chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine.

Top with chopped fresh parsley and chow down!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Tikka Masala

Dinner the other evening was Indian. This is a very easy recipe for Tikka Masala sauce. It's tasty. It's adaptable to what you would like to use the sauce with. In my instance, I was a heathen and used pork. Pork is not a traditionally used meat in Indian cooking. Some religious groups don't allow it. Others have no issue-particularly those in the Goa region ofSouthwestern India. But one of the main reasons it isn't used is the food needed (corn) for the hog isn't grown in Indian, or grown easily/affordably. Regardless, you can pretty much use what you like. I think grilled chicken would be great. The recipe called for shrimp. I'm ambivalent about the shrimp, but I think if they were skewered and grilled, then dressed in the sauce, this would be awesome.

Tikka Masala

Start with some clarified butter (Ghee). Ghee can cook at higher temperatures than regular butter, as the milk solids have been cooked out. Alternatively, you can use oil. Ghee will have more flavor.

Caramelizing onions. Yum.

Stir in some tomato paste, then spices. Cook over heat for a few quick minutes to get the flavors dancing.

Stir in some water or broth. Bring to a low simmer. Depending on what protein you might be cooking, add it now and let simmer until cooked through. Shrimp would only take a few minutes. Chicken 10-12 minutes, and depending on the size, about the same for the pork. At the end stir in some plain yogurt. (alternatively, if you used up your plain yogurt in another recipe, I added some lemon juice, stirred that in, then added a shot or two of cream.)

Serve over rice.

As I said, this was good. Easy and tasty. But I will say, if I'm in the mood for this, I will probably just make Indian Butter Chicken. It is very very similiar, but my preference would be the butter chicken.

Tikka Masala
adapted from Martha Stewart recipe
2 TB neutral oil or clarified butter (ghee)
1 large onion, sliced
3 TB grated ginger
1 TB grated garlic
2 TB tomato paste
1 TB garam masala
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
1 cup water or chicken broth
1/4 cup plain yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste

Cooked rice for serving

In a heavy pot such as a dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook gently until golden, about 20 minutes, then add the ginger, garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, and garam masala. Add a little oil if necessary to allow the ingredients to blend into a thick-yet-runny consistency, and cook until the flavors have begun to marry and are very fragrant, 3-4 minutes.

2. Add the water and stir until the mixture is smooth, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt quickly. Serve immediately with rice.

If you are adding meat or seafood to the sauce to cook, add it during step 2. Shrimp-4-5 minutes. Chicken/Pork-about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Community Minded Cookies

The Women's Bean Project
Since 1989 we have been helping women break the cycle of poverty and unemployment. We are a nonprofit organization that teaches job readiness and life skills for entry-level jobs through employment in our gourmet food production business. Women come with the goal of transforming their lives and moving toward self sufficiency.

For Christmas I received a package of cookie mix from The Women's Bean Project. Oatmeal Chocolate Chip. I thought I would share the information here. From my understanding, the WBP is a great organization enabling woman to better their lives by helping to lift them out of poverty and unemployment.

You get almost all you need for tasty treats. Just add butter and an egg.

Chewy and Delicious!

Good for your belly, good for the community and good for your soul.

The tools gained during their stay at the Bean Project empower women to create better lives for themselves, provide their families with hope, and contribute to a stronger community.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Baked Eggs in Ramekins

This weekend, after sleeping in a bit and hoping to have a relaxed day, I started making Baked Eggs in Ramekins. I've not made them before, but walked into the library, grabbed Mastering the Art of French Cooking and seemed to know exactly where I was going. It was a little surreal, honestly. Back to the kitchen where I started gathering my supplies. And I was off.

You need a pan that can hold boiling water and you need oven safe dishes for the eggs. Ramekins are small, oven safe, ceramic bowls. Some are made of glass. So the bowls don't slid around, I put a sheet of paper towel in the bottom. Once the water is in place, all is good.

Here's one way I messed up the recipe. You are supposed to bring the water to a boil, get the ramekins nice and hot, add the cream. When the cream is warm, you add the eggs. I didn't boil the water, in the pan. I boiled it in a teapot, then poured it in the pan. It mostly worked, but not exactly. But regardless, you put a smidge of cream in the bottom of the ramekin. I added a pinch of shredded cheddar cheese and freshly chopped parsley.

I did two eggs per ramekin. I cracked them into a separate bowl first, then added them to the ramekins.

Before baking, add a final smidge of cream and a little butter on top. Bake until the eggs set. They will finish cooking a bit at the end after you take them out of the oven.

Eggs baked in ramekins with buttered toast.

These eggs are decadent. Even though I over cooked my eggs by a few minutes (they didn't seem done after the recommended time-because I wasn't boiling the ramekins!), regardless, they were delicious. The cream and butter, plus the pinch of cheese, all played nicely with the eggs. I will make these again! They are simple and full of countless options. Wanna add some chopped veggies? Do it! Spinach. It would work. Cut back on the cream and butter? Maybe a little bit, but not too much; the cream helps to protect the eggs from too much heat, too fast, which would make a tough egg. The butter you can cut back on, but the flavor is very nice. Add a dash of hot sauce. Just about anything you would do with eggs, you can do here!

The following is my version of Julia Child's recipe.

Eggs Baked in Ramekins
Per Person:
2 eggs
2-3 TB heavy cream
1 tsp shredded cheese of your choice
1 tsp chopped parsley or herbs of your choice
1 tsp butter

Preheat oven to 375.

Lightly coat the inside of the ramekin with butter.

Place ramekins in a paper towel lined baking pan and pour boiling water 1/2 way up the sides of the ramekins. Pour 1-2 TB heavy cream in the bottom of the ramekins, add 1/2 the herbs and the cheese. Carefully place the eggs in the ramekins. Pour the final 1 TB of heavy cream, the remaining herbs and butter on top of the eggs.

Bake in the oven for 10-14 minutes until set to desired consistency. Add a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper to the eggs. Serve immediately!