Thursday, October 30, 2008

Non-Food Post - Rain!

Well, sort of rain. More like a sprinkle. For about 30 seconds. But it's more than we've had in forever. Seriously, I don't remember the last time we had any sort of precipitation.

See? Dry on the left, "wet" on the right.

Charlie was confused. Barked at it.

Non-Food Post - VOTE!

Hover over Patriotic Slice Dude to see what he has to say.
Click on him to find out where your polling place is.

Originally from Slice by Serious Eats. I normally don't republish other people's content, but this is too good (and too important) not to.

Granola Mishap

My knife is gone. That's my excuse.

Ever since I shipped my baby to Japan for sharpening, I can't seem to do anything right in the kitchen. Even things that don't require a knife! I just know that if I needed it, it's not here. That's how messed up I am.

Knifeless Goof #1: I was trying to fry an egg to top a bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato sandwich, and I spilled bacon grease, nearly starting a fire. While cleaning up, I overtoasted the bread. The roof of my mouth hurts.

Knifeless Goof #2: I forgot about the pot of black lentils, and cooked them to a weird sort of desiccated mush, nearly burning the bottom of the pot.

Knifeless Goof #3: I tried to make granola. Look at that beautiful shade of burnt.

And I was stupid enough to think it would be ok, and mixed in the raisins and dried dragonfruit before I tasted it. Ugh.

I want my knife back!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cutting Board Advice Needed

After my last cutting board split, I replaced it with what I thought would be a great one - a Joyce Chen bamboo. It's good, not cracking or splitting, but whatever finish they use is coming off. See?

I've taken care of it, doing the whole mineral oil thing ("once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year, once a year for a lifetime"), but I still have the disappearing coating problem, and I'm only at about the 9-month mark. Kind of reminds me of when Teflon pans get old (or people used metal(!) utensils on them), and the Teflon gets feathery and flakes off into your food. I don't want Teflon-flavored food, and I don't think I want cutting-board-coating-flavored food either.

So does anyone have any recommendations for a wood cutting board? I've always been partial to bamboo, have been eyeing end-grain maple, but I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Goodbye my beloved.

The next two weeks will be the longest of my life. Every second will be filled with longing for you.

Every time I walk into my kitchen, I'll think of you. Every time I need to perfectly mince garlic, or slice a ripe tomato, my heart will ache because of your absence.

You're barely gone, and I'm already anticipating your return.

'Cause you'll be wicked sharp when you come back from your beauty treatment in Japan.

(Picture courtesy of Kyocera because I was too distraught to remember to take a parting photograph.)

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I was craving cookies last night, which is a rarity for me, so I figured I better make them. But what kind? I didn't have any chocolate, didn't want anything with nuts. Spicy is always good, so I settled on gingersnaps, using a recipe from Erin of Erin Cooks.

For the first tray, I rolled out little dough balls, coated them in sugar, and baked. For the second tray, I rolled the balls, flattened them, then tossed in sugar. For the 3rd tray, I rolled the balls, coated in sugar, then flattened them on the tray. I couldn't tell the difference between the 2nd and 3rd trays, but the 1st (non-flattened) tray was obviously different:

Not flattened:


Both versions were good, with the non-flattened ones being cakier, the flat ones chewier. House consensus is that the flat ones are better. My cookie craving is now satisfied. Thanks, Erin!

I'm submitting this to Ruth at Ruth's Kitchen Experiments for her weekly Bookmarked Recipes event.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Peruvian Cilantro Stew

A while back, I bought some frozen aji amarillo chiles from a local market. I didn't know what I was going to do with them - heck, I had never seen them before. But I bought them because they were a beautiful orange, and chiles are always good.

What do you do when you have an unknown ingredient? Check out the internet, specifically other food blogs, of course! So that's what I did, and found Peruvian Cilantro Stew from Gretchen Noelle of Canela y Comino. Her blog is one of my favorites, and I figured that since she lives in Peru, I could trust her judgment when it came to these brightly colored chiles.

My only hitch with the recipe was when it came to pureeing the cilantro. A cup of cilantro puree is quite a lot, so I figured my blender would be helpful. I figured wrong. The stupid leaves just spun up and stuck to the sides of the blender. I tried pushing them back down, but they spun right back up again. So, cutting board and big knife. I chopped and chopped and chopped, until the sound of the knife cutting through the cilantro was less of a crunch, and more of a mush. (What I wouldn't give for a mezzaluna.)

This isn't a quick recipe, and there's a lot of hands-on, but it is so worth it. Beef marinated and then browned. Onion is sauteed, then cooked down with a puree of aji amarillo chiles, onion and garlic. Then beer and the cilantro "puree" are added, and it's cooked down further. Then you add the beef back, cook for about an hour, then add in carrots and peas, and cook until the veggies are done.

The sauce is so amazingly good, I couldn't stop myself from dipping pieces of bread into it as it was cooking. Think pesto, but cilantro. And beefy flavored. Mmm...

The meat ended up perfectly tender, due to its braise in beer, and the chiles added just the right amount of heat. I had originally planned to serve this with rice, but MIL came home with a bunch of sourdough loaves, so we had it with bread. I loved sopping up every last bit of the sauce with the crusty bread. However, I'm dying to know what the sauce tastes like over rice, so I guess I'll just have to make it again to find out.

Thanks, Gretchen Noelle, for a great recipe!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Baked Chicken and Potatoes with Cider and Parsley

Once again, through my blog-hopping addiction, I came across another great recipe. This time it's Baked Chicken and Potatoes with Cider and Parsley, from Linda of Thinking About Food.

You slice some potatoes and put them in a casserole dish, top with chicken pieces and bacon, pour over a mix of apple juice (or cider), water and butter, and bake it. When it's almost done, you pour off the liquid, which you reduce for a gravy. The chicken and potatoes go back in the oven at a higher temperature to finish cooking and get nicely browned. When it comes out of the oven, you top it with a gremolata.

Linda, thank you so much for this recipe! The flavors work so well together - the apple juice tenderizes the chicken and prevents it from getting dry. The potatoes get a little crusty on the bottom, with a beautiful chickeny-appley stickiness. And the gremolata - I love the little punches you get from the parsley, lemon zest and garlic. Top it all off with a moistening of the gravy, and you're in heaven.

This is definitely a keeper.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bacon & Egg Bread Pudding

In my travels through the ether a few days ago, I came across Bacon & Egg Bread Pudding at Kat's blog, A Good Appetite. It looked too good not to make.

-- Most people give a warning when they have a picture-heavy post, which I guess this is (at least by my blogging standards). Most of the time, those posts are laden with beautiful photographs of exotic places and the food they ate while visiting whichever exotic locale they were lucky enough to visit. However, in my case, it just means I took a lot of pictures, and they didn't all completely suck. --

Chopped bread cubes and shredded cheddar, eggs and milk with salt & pepper:

Yes, I weigh my cheese. What, you don't?

Frying bacon:

MIL's bedroom is going to smell like bacon for a week. Something about the airflow in my house doesn't work right, the poor woman's room retains everything. But hey, at least it's bacon, and not tripe.

Bread mixed with cheese, soaking in aforementioned eggs and milk:

I forgot to get a picture with the bacon mixed in, and extra cheese sprinkled on top. So just imagine the above picture mixed in...and...more cheese sprinkled on top...shut up.

Final product:

Bonus picture, bacon fat:

Mmm...bacon fat...I see home-fried potatoes in my future.

Thanks for the recipe, Kat! It completely satisfied my breakfast-for-dinner craving.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Baked Zucchini Potato Frittata

This dish was created out of the need to use one lonely zucchini in my veggie drawer, and some potatoes hiding in a cool, dark place.

1 zucchini, shredded, squeezed as dry as possible
1 russet potato, shredded
1/2 - 1 c shredded cheddar cheese
2 green onions, sliced fine
3 slices bacon, chopped
4 eggs, beaten
salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc.

Mix everything together. Season. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, some Cavender's, and some Vegeta. Dump in a casserole dish, and bake at 375 until set, somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes, I wasn't keeping track.

You could replace the green onion with regular onion, the bacon with ham, spice it differently (maybe curry or smoked paprika), add fresh herbs, etc.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Russian Tea Cookies

I found a recipe for Russian Tea Cookies over at Foodista the other day, and they reminded me of the "snowballs" we'd have around Christmas every year when I was growing up.

I had everything except the pecans...but I did have sliced almonds, left over from a disastrous chicken recipe that shall not be talked about.

So, in an effort to block that horrific poultry concoction from my brain, I headed back to the kitchen, bound and determined to make something tasty.

And I did. Thanks, Foodista!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Foodbuzz Publisher Community Launches

Hey everyone - did you hear about the official launch of the Foodbuzz Publisher Community? They had 1100 publishers already, and growing. Foodbuzz is like Facebook for food bloggers (as a matter of fact, they have a group on Facebook, find it here). Check out their press release:



San Francisco – October 13, 2008: Foodbuzz, Inc., officially inaugurates its food blogger community with more than 1,000 blog partners, a global food blogging event and an online platform that captures the real-people, real-time power of food publishing in every corner of the world. At launch, the Foodbuzz community ranks as one of the top-10 Internet destinations for food and dining (Quantcast), with bloggers based in 45 countries and 863 cities serving up daily food content.

“Food bloggers are at the forefront of reality publishing and the dramatic growth of new media has redefined how food enthusiasts access tasty content,” said Doug Collister, Executive Vice President of Foodbuzz, Inc. “Food bloggers are the new breed of local food experts and at any minute of the day, Foodbuzz is there to help capture the immediacy of their hands-on experiences, be it a memorable restaurant meal, a trip to the farmers market, or a special home-cooked meal.”

Foodbuzz is the only online community with content created exclusively by food bloggers and rated by foodies. The site offers more than 20,000 pieces of new food and dining content weekly, including recipes, photos, blog posts, videos and restaurant reviews. Members decide the “tastiness” of each piece of content by voting and “buzz” the most popular posts to the top of the daily menu of submissions. Foodbuzz currently logs over 13 million monthly page views and over three million monthly unique visitors.

“Our goal is to be the number-one online source of quality food and dining content by promoting the talent, enthusiasm and knowledge of food bloggers around the globe,” said Ben Dehan, founder and CEO of Foodbuzz, Inc.

The Foodbuzz blogger community is growing at a rate of 40 percent per month driven by strong growth in existing partner blogs and the addition of over 100 new blogs per month. “The Web site is like the stock of a great soup. The Web site provides the base or backbone for bloggers to interact as a community, contribute content, and have that content buzzed by their peers,” said Mr. Dehan.

Global Blogging Event

Demonstrating the talent and scope of the Foodbuzz community, 24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs offered online food enthusiasts an international, virtual street festival of food and diversity. The new feature showcased blog posts from 24 Foodbuzz partner bloggers chronicling events occurring around the globe during a 24 hour period and included:

24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs” captures the quality and unique local perspective of our food bloggers and shared it with the world,” said Ryan Stern, Director of the Foodbuzz Publisher Community. “It illustrates exactly what the future of food publishing is all about – real food, experienced by real people, shared real-time.”

About Foodbuzz, Inc.

Based in San Francisco, Foodbuzz, Inc., launched its beta Web site,, in 2007. In less than a year, and its community of over 1,000 exclusive partner food blogs have grown into an extended online property that reaches more than three million users.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Potato and Kipper Gratin

Yup. I said kippers.

I had never had them before today. I bought a tin a couple weeks back, for reasons that completely escape me. Perhaps there were no reasons. I was completely prepared to hate this dish. MIL said she wasn't even going to try it.

I followed the recipe from Epicurious (Gourmet, January 1995) almost exactly, except I used half the called-for amount of capers, and less onion.

Basically, you slice a russet potato very thin, lay half of the slices in a dish, sprinkle with capers and chopped onion, scatter your bits o' kipper, then layer on the rest of the potato. Salt and pepper, then a cup of heavy cream, and bake at 450 for 30 minutes. The original recipe said 20 minutes, but my potatoes weren't done, and there wasn't that happy crustiness until 30 minutes.

This dish was so good. I'm now thoroughly convinced that anything with potatoes and cream in it is delicious, even if the other ingredients are potentially nasty. It was rich and creamy (duh), with a smokiness from the fish, and only a very slight tang from the capers (I was expecting much more tang, and I'm glad my expectations were not met).

I'm thinking that this would make a good brunch dish, with a salad dressed with something vinegary, to cut the creaminess. But we ate it right out of the dish, standing at the kitchen counter.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Kitchen Keepsakes & more Kitchen Keepsakes

Courtesy of MIL, I now have access to Kitchen Keepsakes & more Kitchen Keepsakes, in a single spiral-bound edition, originally printed in 1983. I know, aren't you jealous?

How about Quick Stuffed Mushrooms? Jimmy Dean sausage stuffed into mushroom caps and baked.

Or Hot Nacho Dip?
1 lb ground beef
1 lb chorizo sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 or 2 8-oz cans refried beans
12 oz pkg Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese, grated
1 8-oz jar taco sauce
1 medium avocado, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 2.5-oz can ripe olives, chopped
1/2 c sour cream
tortilla chips

Brown meat, add onion and cook until onion is transparent. Drain off fat. Spread the refried beans in a 3 quart casserole. Top with meat mixture. Cover with cheese. Pour taco sauce over cheese. (At this point it can be covered and chilled.) Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes. Garnish with chopped avocado, tomato, olives and sour cream. Serve hot with tortilla chips.
You know, that actually sounds really good.

Or, in the Kids Food section, The Cookbook Kids' Snack:
Cool Whip
slices of processed American cheese

Spread a slice of bread generously with Cool Whip. Top with 1 1/2 slices of cheese.
Umm...that sounds absolutely horendous. But I'm sure a 5-year-old would love it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Flaming Spinach Salad

from Celebrity All-Occasion Cooking...
Flaming Spinach Salad

4 c spinach torn into bite-size pieces
1/4 c sliced celery
4 T sliced green onions
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 T vinegar
2 T packed brown sugar
1/4 t salt
1/8 t tarragon leaves
pinch of pepper
2 T brandy

Place spinach, celery and onions in serving dish. Fry bacon until crisp, drain on paper towel and reserve. Remove all but 1 T bacon fat from skillet. Stir brown sugar, vinegar, salt, tarragon and pepper into fat in skillet. Heat just to boiling, stir in bacon. Heat until bacon is hot, pour on spinach, celery and onions.

Heat brandy just until warm, ignite and pour on salad. Toss and serve immediately.
I'm all for a warm bacon dressing on spinach...but lighting it on fire? WTF?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Celebrity All-Occasion Cooking

I wouldn't believe these recipes existed if I hadn't read them with my own eyes.

Nancy Reagan's Onion Wine Soup
Bill Shatner's Carrot Vichyssoise
Burt Reynolds' Beef Stew
Robert and Vera Goulet's Fresh Cauliflower Soup
Roger Moore's Creamed Cheese Potatoes
Ed McMahon's Loin of Pork
Elizabeth Taylor's Chicken with Avocado and Mushrooms
Henry Winkler's Hawaiian Chicken
Johnny Mathis' Lobster with Mustard Sauce

And some from celebrities I've never heard of (I looked 'em up, give me a break, I'm not Canadian, and I was 10 when this book was published):
Barbara Ann Scott's Strawberry Mould
Bobby Hull's Swiss Steak
Brenda Vaccaro's Veal Roll
Liona Boyd's Quick Coquilles St. Jacques
Beverly Sills' Dutch Babies

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Just Wait Til Next Year


(Chicago Cubs)

White Bean and Escarole Soup

Three days ago it was 96 degrees at 6pm. Now it's 68 degrees. Talk about a change in weather!

Having grown up in Chicago, I'm used to temperature swings. But almost 30 degrees in 72 hours is pretty strange for southern CA.

So since it's so much cooler (yay, fall!), I made soup! A few days ago, Faith at I Pray to Gouda posted a recipe for White Bean and Escarole Soup. Just like with Peabody's Cheese Twists, I had to make this quickly, or risk it falling into the bookmark-abyss (currently at 360 items, and rising every week).

While at the market today, I found cavolo nero for the first time, so I used that in place of half of the escarole. I also used bacon instead of pancetta, since that's what I had, and omitted the rosemary, because Hubby hates it. My beans were Sun Vista white beans, which I believe are Great Northern - for canned beans, Sun Vista is the best (but if anyone wants to send me some Rancho Gordo beans, I won't say no!).

I loved the slight bitterness of the escarole, combined with the almost-meatiness of the kale. Cavolo nero cooks up a little differently from "regular" kale, completely retaining its form - I don't think it would disintegrate even if cooked for an hour. The tomatoes provided some nice acidity, complementing the richness of the crispy bacon sprinkled on top. If you make this (and I highly recommend that you do!), please make sure to use a good broth, chicken or veggie, since it's a relatively quick-cooking soup, and the broth is key.

Happy fall!

Food & Wine, November 2008

Tasty treats from November's Food and Wine:
As always, if anyone makes any of the above, please let me know how it turned out!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Cheesy Twists

Browsing the blogosphere today (I'm playing hooky, yay!), I came across this lovely post by Peabody. Not only does she write beautifully about how she and her husband met and married, she also offers a wonderful recipe for Cheese Garlic Twists.

Given that I had all the necessary ingredients, plus the required amount of could I not make them?

Towards the end of the rolling and twisting process, I got lazy (that's what days off are for, right?), so I tossed the rest of the dough into a cute little Descoware dish, and made a mini loaf.

The twists only rise once, so they don't take as long as your typical loaf. And the garlic in the dough is lovely. I might try adding roasted garlic next time. Mmm...roasted garlic.

Thanks, Peabody, for a heartwarming story and a great recipe!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Baby Watermelon

MIL came home with a baby watermelon the other day. Isn't she cute?

It's almost seedless (only a few white ones), with a slightly less-sweet flavor than full-sized watermelons. The skin is thinner, and the flesh doesn't taste bitter as you get near the rind.

Unfortunately, like the baby cantaloupe...I'm allergic. Damn.

Update 2/23/09: I have now found 2 other people with watermelon allergies, a co-worker's girlfriend, and my grandfather. At least I now know that I'm now insane, that people really can be allergic to watermelon.


96 degrees at 6pm.

I'm having ice cream for dinner.