Sunday, November 18, 2007

Meat Loaf with Balsamic Glaze

Inspired by a recipe by Bobby Flay and a surfeit of balsamic vinegar.

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano
1 1/2 cups ketchup, divided
2 pounds ground beef chuck

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, boil 1 cup of the balsamic vinegar until reduced by half.

Meanwhile, whisk together garlic, eggs, herbs, breadcrumbs, cheese, 1/2 cup of the ketchup and the remaining 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar in a large bowl. Add the meat and mix until just combined. Mold the meatloaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Whisk together the remaining ketchup and the reduced balsamic vinegar then brush the mixture over the entire loaf. Bake the meatloaf for approximately 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Serves 6.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shrimp Bisque

1 1/4 pound raw shrimp
2 tbsp. butter
1 onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. salt

Remove shells from the shrimp and place them in a saucepan. Add just enough water to cover and boil rapidly until the next step is completed.

Melt the butter in a large soup pot over low heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and cayenne and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add flour and cook over medium heat until flour browns lightly. Add sherry, stirring quickly so that it doesn’t become lumpy. Add water, bay leaf and tomato paste and bring to a boil.

Strain the shrimp shells from the water and discard. Add the reserved liquid to the soup base. Simmer for 10 minutes to reduce a little more. Roughly chop the shrimp and add to soup base. Simmer gently for a minute to cook shrimp. Remove soup from heat and using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Add heavy cream and salt. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Chicken Picata and Orzo with Cinnamon Brown Butter and Parsley

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon drained bottled capers, rinsed and chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the chicken on plastic wrap and cover with more plastic wrap. Pound with a rolling pin or meat pounder until about 1/4-inch thick. Place the chicken in the flour and turn to coat on all sides. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Shake off the excess flour and add chicken to the skillet. Cook until lightly browned and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate or platter and cover loosely with foil.

Add the chicken stock and lemon juice. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring to pick up and browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet and simmer, turning often, until warmed through and the sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and the capers. Season with salt and pepper and heat just until the butter has melted. Serve on warmed plates with a spoonful of the skillet sauce.

1/2 pound orzo
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook orzo in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender. While orzo cooks, melt butter in a small heavy skillet over moderately low heat, then simmer until golden brown with a nutty aroma, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, then stir in oil, cinnamon, and pepper.

Drain orzo in a colander, then return to pot and add brown-butter mixture, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet, and parsley. Toss until combined well and season with salt.

Original recipe from (Gourmet.)

Strawberry Shortcake

2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, well chilled
2/3 to 3/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a food processor combine the flour, baking powder and sugar and pulse to mix. Add the butter, cut into 8 to 10 pieces, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer the mixture to a mixer and gently mix in the milk, being careful not to over work the dough. Let the dough stand for a minute or 2 to let the flour absorb the liquid. Mix until dough is smooth and less sticky.

Pat the dough into a disk on a flour-dusted board. Using a cookie cutter, cut dough into 3" rounds and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until well risen and golden brown.

You know what to do now. Slice rounds in half lengthwise, open and top with sliced strawberries and freshly-whipped cream. A delicious breakfast!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Spinach Onion Quiche

1 frozen pie crust, thawed

1 onion, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/3 cups half and half
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 450°F. Bake the empty pie crust for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F

Saute onion in butter until translucent. Stir in the flour and cook for another minute. Combine onions and spinach in a large bowl. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and oregano.

Beat together half and half, eggs. Add to spinach and onion mixture. Stir well then pour into crust. Bake until filling is slightly puffed and top is golden, about 50 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving warm.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Ambrosia Salad

1 small box orange Jell-O
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup boiling water
1 cup orange juice
1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip, thawed
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained, juice reserved
1/2 cup flaked coconut

In a medium bowl, dissolve Jell-O, sugar and salt in boiling water. Stir in orange juice and syrup from pineapple. Chill until thick as unbeaten egg white. Beat until fluffy light with beater. Stir in Cool Whip until well blended, then fold in pineapple and coconut. Pour into large bowl and chill.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Cauliflower with Mustard-Lemon Butter

Another cauliflower recipe. I haven't made it yet, but it sounds good.

1 small head of cauliflower
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter rimmed baking sheet. Cut cauliflower in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices in single layer on prepared baking sheet; sprinkle with salt. Roast until cauliflower is slightly softened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in lemon juice, mustard, and lemon peel.

Spoon mustard-lemon butter evenly over cauliflower and roast until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer cauliflower to platter. Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I have a lot of leftover grilled leg of lamb from Easter that I froze for later use.It's time for Gyros!

I defrosted some lamb and sliced it thinly then warmed it in the microwave. Serve the lamb on pita bread
(not pita pockets, this is the softer and chewier kind) with tzatziki sauce and chopped onion and tomato.

Tzatziki Sauce:
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
8 ounces plain yogurt
Pinch kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
3 to 4 mint leaves, finely minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh dill

Squeeze out the chopped cucumber to remove the liquid; discard liquid. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cucumber with the rest of the ingredients.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Curried Cauliflower Puree

1 small head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon curry powder
3 tablespoons cream

Steam cauliflower for 15 to 20 minutes until tender.

Place cauliflower, butter , curry powder and cream into a Cuisinart or blender and blend into a smooth puree.

Makes 4 servings.

Review: This is the tastiest and easiest cauliflower recipe evah! Use in place of mashed potatoes.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


I put together this recipe to recreate the wonderful ceviche we enjoyed on our honeymoon on Easter Island. The dish is simple and fresh. You must use freshly squeezed lemon juice; the bottled stuff has a completely different taste.

1/2 lb. good quality tuna, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
Juice from 3 lemons
4 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
3 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in large glass bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Chill until fish turns opaque, stirring occasionally, about 50 minutes. Serves 2 to 4 as an appetizer.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Jerk Chicken Wings

Recipe Courtesy of Leonard Thomas, author of Cooking with the Chicken Man

3 pounds chicken wings (18 wings), disjointed

2 heaping tablespoons jerk seasoning

1/3 cup dark rum

Place the chicken wings in a large bowl; discard the tips. Add the jerk seasoning and rum and work into the wings with your hands. Cover and let marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Preheat the broiler. Arrange the wings in a single layer on a pan, place 6 to 7 inches under the broiler, and cook about 7 minutes per side, or until the wings are done.

Review: This was okay, but being used to the massive amount of flavor in Buffalo wings, it left me wanting more taste. The flavor was nice and since I have a bottle of jerk seasoning leftover, I'll make it again with chicken breasts instead and serve it as a main course.

BBQ Pot Roast

1 pot roast (about 4 pounds), such as bottom round or chuck
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup bottled barbecue sauce
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup chicken or beef broth
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon bottled mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 large onion (1/2 pound), chopped
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
12 rolls

Heat oven to 300 degrees F.

Brown meat well in oil in large ovenproof Dutch oven, 15 minutes. Add sauce, vinegar, broth, sugar, mustard, Worcestershire, chili powder, onion, garlic and thyme to pot. Bring to boiling. Place in oven and bake, covered, for 3 to 4 hours, turning meat every hour, until fork-tender. Let stand at least 30 minutes in pan. Remove meat from pot and shred with two forks. Skim fat from sauce and boil until reduced. Serve beef with sauce on toasted rolls.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Panko-Crusted Pork with Gingered Soy Sauce

Recipe from Cooking Light (thanks, Mandy!)1/3 cup panko
2 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut loin pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
1 tsp. peanut oil
1 tbsp.. ground fresh ginger
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp. sake or dry sherry
2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. wasabi paste
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions

Press pork in panko.

Heat peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat; add pork. Cook for 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove pork from pan.

Reduce heat to medium. Add ginger to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Combine broth and the next 4 ingredients (through wasabi) in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add broth mixture to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in green onions. Spoon sauce over pork.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

German Apple Pancake

a.k.a. Dutch Apple Baby2 medium apples
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Core, peel and cube or slice apples. Melt butter in a small saute pan. Add apple, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Place a 10-inch cast iron pan in the oven to pre-heat.

Combine beaten eggs, milk, and salt. Beat well. Add flour and beat until batter is smooth.

Remove pan from oven and melt the 2 tablespoons butter in it. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove apples with slotted spoon. Place on half of a pancake. Fold over. Sprinkle with remaining powdered sugar. Serve immediately. Cut in wedges and serve with apple wedges.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Salmon filets coated with Tom Douglas Salmon Rub and sauteed on medium heat until done. Served with Garlic Dill Potatoes and steamed broccoli. For the potatoes, boil 2 cubed potatoes until done (20 minutes). Saute 2 cloves of garlic in 1 tablespoon of butter until garlic if soft. Gently stir in potatoes and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill. Serves 2.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pork with Apricot Chutney

Boneless loin of pork, pan-fried and served with warmed apricot chutney. Served with stuffing and green beans on the side.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Strawberry Jam Cake

6 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 whole eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the sour cream. Sift the flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt together. Fold in the sifted flour mixture until barely incorporated. Stir in the vanilla and 1 cup strawberry jam. Mix the batter until fully incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until done. Cool the cake completely and slice into three layers. Using a pastry brush, spread each layer with the remaining jam.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese
1/2 cup strawberry jam
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Using an electric mixer, whip the cream cheese until smooth. Add the jam and mix until incorporated. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Continue whipping until the frosting is spreadable. **If the frosting is too thick, add a little milk. If the frosting is too thin add a little more powdered sugar. Spread a thin layer of the frosting on each layer. Stack the layers and frost the sides and top of the cake.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Chicken Confit

What I Made: Chicken Confit

I've never made duck confit although I've been saving duck fat in order to one day make it. When I saw this recipe for chicken confit, I thought it would be fun to try and it's easier to get chicken legs than duck legs.

What I Did:

3 tablespoons salt
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
6 sprigs thyme
Coarsely ground black pepper
3 chicken legs with thighs
About 4 cups duck fat

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt in the bottom of a dish or plastic container large enough to hold the chicken pieces in a single layer. Evenly scatter half the garlic, shallots and thyme in the container. Arrange the chicken, skin-side up, over the salt mixture, then sprinkle with the remaining salt, garlic, shallots, and thyme and a little pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 days.

Preheat the oven to 225°F. Melt the duck fat in a small saucepan. Brush the salt and seasonings off the chicken. Arrange the chicken pieces in a single snug layer in a high-sided baking dish or ovenproof saucepan. Pour the melted fat over the chicken (the chicken pieces should be covered by fat) and place the confit in the oven. Cook the confit slowly at a very slow simmer — just an occasional bubble — until the duck is tender and can be easily pulled from the bone, 2-3 hours. Remove the confit from the oven. Cool and store the chicken in the fat. (The confit will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.)

Note: The duck fat can be strained, cooled and reused.

Review: The chicken was moist and tender although it worried me at first that the meat was still pink in places. But it was fully cooked and very tasty although hard to get all of the fat off. I scraped away what I could then microwaved it on a paper towel to absorb what melted off. I think I'll stick to duck confit in the end because it was a lot of effort for just chicken.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Plantain Chip-Crusted Chicken with Mango Sauce

What I Made: Plantain Chip-Crusted Chicken with Mango Sauce

Why: After seeing a show about the National Chicken Cooking Contest on the Food Network, I decided it would be fun to enter the 2007 contest. I already had an idea for an original recipe so I did a test run, wrote up the recipe and sent it in. Well, the list of finalists just came out and I didn't make it, but I still think my recipe is worthy.

What I Did:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup flour
4 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 eggs, beaten to blend
2 tablespoons milk
8 oz. plantain chips, finely crushed
8 oz. jar of mango in light syrup
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Combine flour, curry powder, salt and pepper in pie plate. Beat eggs with milk and pour into another pie plate. Place crushed plantain chips in a third pie plate. Dip chicken, 1 breast at a time, in flour mixture then egg mixture then plantain chips. Press chicken into chips to coat each side and ends completely and lay on prepared baking sheet. Bake chicken in middle of oven until cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, make sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat, add mango and syrup, vinegar, sugar, onion, garlic and ginger. Simmer for 20 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and blend until smooth with an immersion blender. Strain sauce through a mesh sieve. Stir in mint and cilantro. Pour over chicken and garnish with green onions. Makes 4 servings.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Chicken and Dumplings

What I Made: Chicken and dumplings from a recipe by Paula Deen minus her dumplings, instead using a dumpling recipe from Emeril Lagasse.Why: Another hearty and warming dish for a winter evening at home. I was pretty sure this would be a hit with my comfort food-loving husband.

What I Did:

2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 chicken legs
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. fresh thyme
2 (14 ounce) cans chicken stock
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. minced fresh soft herbs, such as parsley, tarragon, and green onion tops
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup milk

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and saute shallots, garlic, celery and onion. Add chicken, bay leaf, thyme and chicken stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer the chicken until it is tender and the thigh juices run clear, about 40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and, when it is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and separate the meat from the bones. Return the chicken meat to the pot along with the cream of celery soup. Keep warm over low heat.

Prepare the dumplings: In a medium bowl, mix the flour, herbs, baking powder, and salt together. In a small saucepan over low heat, bring the butter and milk to a simmer. Add the butter and milk mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring with a fork until the mixture just comes together. Drop batter by spoonfuls into stew. Cover and simmer until the dumplings are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

To serve, ladle chicken, gravy, and dumplings into warm bowls.

Serves 4.

Review: It was a hit with my husband who declared he could eat it almost every night of the week. It was better than I thought it would be. The only part I didn't like was removing the chicken, waiting for it to cool then shredding it. I took my time though and didn't burn my fingers. This step does make for an easier to eat meal - all you need is a spoon.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Tilapia with Lemon and Capers

What I Made: Tilapia with Lemon and Capers Served with Carrots and Mushy Peas
Why: After the over-indulgence of the holidays, I felt we needed a healthy dinner and that means fish with lots of vegetables.

What I Did

8 oz. tilapia
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. capers
1 tbsp. butter
Juice from one lemon

Heat olive oil in non-stick pan then add tilapia fillets. Cook for 1 minute on each side. Add capers, butter and lemon juice. Simmer gently for 2-3 minutes. Serve with
mushy peas (cook 1 cup of frozen peas according to package directions then mash using an immersion blender) and steamed carrots. Serves 2.

Review: The tangy lemon of the fish contrasted well with the sweetness of the mushy peas and the carrots add color. A flavorful and well-balanced meal (okay, so what if I had ice cream for dessert?). I experimented with the carrots by boiling them in orange juice and a little cumin, but it really didn't add anything.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Pappardelle Bolognese

Why: My Mother knows her books and knows me so for Christmas, she got me Heat by Bill Buford. The author spent time in Mario Batali's kitchen and wrote about the Bolognese sauce made there. I was intrigued. I found the recipe easily enough on Epicurious, but this time, instead of changing the recipe, I pretty much made it exactly as it came. I even made the homemade pappardelle on which to serve it (I won't provide that recipe here; it was a basic pasta recipe). The sauce is mainly meat and contains milk(!?!) and so was unlike any I've ever had.

What I Ended Up With:

1 medium onions, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 medium carrots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lb pancetta, pulsed in food processor until finely chopped
1 lb ground meatball mix (ground veal, pork and beef)
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Cook onions, celery, carrot, and garlic in oil in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add pancetta and ground meat and cook over moderately high heat, stirring and breaking up lumps, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste, milk, wine, water, and thyme and gently simmer, covered, until sauce is thickened, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Add salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Sauce may be made 2 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, before chilling, covered. Frozen, it keeps for 1 month.

Serves 4 over pasta.

Review: The sauce was good although I knew my husband would prefer a more tomato-y sauce. However, I was very disappointed in the pasta. It was weak and bland. Dried pasta would have been (dare I say it?) better. It wasn't until I finished the book that I found out why I wasn't impressed: it was the eggs.

I would make the sauce again, but with an equal part of crushed tomatoes thrown in. What can I say? I'm an American and I like tomato sauce on my pasta although I'm glad I gave this one a try. And it is easy to make. A good base for a meat sauce.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Gnocchi alla Sorrento

What I Made: Gnocchi alla Sorrentino from Mario Batali's recipe, made by my husband this time.
Why: This is so quick and easy to make and it's one of my husband's favorites.

What I Did: Mario makes his own potato gnocchi from scratch, but I buy mine frozen. He uses fresh buffalo mozzarella, I use regular cow's milk. He makes tomato sauce, I pour mine from a jar. As you can tell, I adapted his recipe for convenience.

1/2 lb. frozen gnocchi
2 cups tomato sauce
4 oz. mozzarella, cubed

Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat the tomato sauce in another pot. When the gnocchi are done, transfer them into the sauce using a slotted spoon. Add the mozzarella cubes and stir occasionally over medium heat until melted (about 30 seconds). Serves 2.

Review: Makes a nice change from spaghetti.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Potato & Leek Soup

What I Made: Potato and Leek Soup. I found Alton Brown's recipe on the Food Network website.Why: Leeks are in season and a rainy day like today calls for hot soup.

What I Did:
I skipped the buttermilk originally called for because I never know what to do with the rest (tried buttermilk pancakes once, but nothing can beat my parents' pancake recipe). Also, I didn't have any vegetable broth so I substituted chicken broth and some water.

5 leeks, cleaned and dark green sections removed
2 tbsp. bacon fat
1 tsp. salt
3 small potatoes, peeled and diced small
1 can chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Chop the leeks into small pieces.

In a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the bacon fat. Add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt and sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the potatoes, chicken broth
and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft, approximately 25 minutes.

Turn off the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Serves 4.

Review: Delicious and filling with a perfect smooth texture. The cream really makes it, well, creamy. Usually recipes for leeks call for a strict use of only the white part, but with the advent of immersion blenders, it doesn't matter anymore. Using some of the green lends a nice color. Maybe one day I'll try it with a lot of the green.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Cesar Salad

What I Made: Tonight we had a classic Cesar salad for dinner. My husband, Richard, is the one who makes it according to a recipe he found, in a weekly sale flyer from the supermarket, years before I met him. To me it is the quintessential Cesar salad. Of course, it is almost the only Cesar salad I've ever eaten. Thanks to Richard, I've been spoiled for any other. And we don't add chicken or shrimp or steak either. Just the following:

1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp. Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1 can anchovy fillets packed in oil, partially drained and finely chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 or 2 hearts of romaine, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 cup croutons

Mash the garlic around the sides of a large wooden salad bowl. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and whisk together until golden yellow. Whisk in the egg yolk then mustard, W
orchestershire, anchovies and grated cheese. The dressing should be fairly thick, but still liquid. About the consistancy of blue cheese dressing. Add more olive oil if needed. Toss in the lettuce and croutons.Serves 2.

Review: Yes, it is a salad for dinner. No, it's not good for you. That's why I can never make it. If I did, I would ease up on the oil and the cheese and it wouldn't taste as good as it does when Richard makes it. My job is to wash and chop the lettuce and to mash the anchovies (Don't be afraid of the anchovies! Use the whole tin!) and to hold the egg seperater over the sink. Sooo tasty!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Lentil Soup

What I Made: On January 1, 2007 I made lentil soup based on an original recipe found on Epicurious which was from the book Memories of a Lost Egypt by Colette Rossant.

Why: I wanted to use up some ham that's been hanging around and the superstition calls for pork to be eaten on New Years' Day to give good luck. My mother sometimes makes Hoppin' John, but I just had to try something different. Lentils sounded more interesting than black-eyed peas (actually, the Black Eyed Peas sound better than lentils, ha, ha!) and the ham would go nicely so I searched online and found this recipe. It had very good reviews on Epicurious.

What I Did: I halved the original recipe and added the ham. Then I added some tasso ham that I discovered in the freezer while I was making it. The soup needed a little color so I added carrots. Here's what I ended up with:

1 medium onion
1 whole clove
1 1/4 cups of lentils (2/3rds of a 1-pound bag)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried marjoram
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup ham cut into 1/4" cubes
1/4 cup tasso ham cut into 1/4" cubes
3 - 14 ounce cans of chicken stock
2 cups water
4 cloves garlic, minced

Peel the onion, stick the clove in it and place it in a saucepan with all of the other ingredients except the garlic. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce the heat and simmer, skimming occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Discard the onion and bay leaf and stir in the minced garlic. Reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly for 10 minutes.

Review: It was unexpectedly good. Very flavorful due to the clove (one is enough) and the use of chicken broth. I'm not sure what the tasso ham added. I didn't want to add a lot because I thought it was very spicy. It wasn't.

If you try it, let me know what you think!