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Mar. 18th, 2011

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Aye and begorrah!

Even though I'm only a quarter Irish, and that quarter was mostly disowned and ignored by other family members, I do like to celebrate holidays with food. So here's the St. Patrick's Day Dinner Report!

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Boiled Beef Dinner: I did the corned beef brisket in a slow cooker this year, with half Guinness and half water covering it (and it still took two whole cans!), with a head of peeled, crushed garlic, a palmful of peppercorns, and a bay leaf. It was cooked over about six hours and came out just lovely, I thought. For the last two hours, I popped in a quartered onion, a couple of chunked-up carrots, and a half-dozen quartered red potatoes. The last hour, I added a cabbage cut into eighths (had to ladle out some of the broth to git it all in there).

Irish Soda Bread: I took my friend Kate Healy's Great Nana Kelly's recipe, and tweaked it (cut it into thirds... we didn't need three whole loaves... and added some goodies). It turned out great, and was devoured quickly.

Want the recipe I used?Collapse )

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I also made the amazing Car-Bomb Cupcakes from Smitten Kitchen. This recipe is so wonderful that I dasn't change a thing (except that I couldn't find the whiskey, and substituted brandy in the ganache. No complaints!).

Hope you had a great St. Patty's day yourself! What did YOU eat?

Mar. 6th, 2011

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Namasté!

The other week, I was seized with a desire to make a spicy Indian lamb curry. So I invited some friends over to share it, and made a few other things too. Even Bill pitched in! I wanted to jot down the recipes here for future reference, and there are some photos too. Come see!Collapse )

It was an awesome dinner, and it wasn't difficult. But if I do it again, I'll try to space out some of the prep work... doing it all in one day was a wee bit much.

Jan. 13th, 2011

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Easy pizza dough

I totally nailed some homemade pizza dough last night, and I want to remember what I did for the future. This was a mish-mash of ideas and directions from a dozen different web pages.

Into the KitchenAid bowl with dough hook: 3 c. King Arthur bread flour, 1 c. warm water, 1 tsp. yeast, 1 tsp. salt. Mix together until combined, let rest in bowl about 20 minutes. Start up mixer again. After about 5 minutes of kneading at low speed, start sprinkling in flour slowly until it starts coming together as a ball (I wound up using another whole cup eventually). Total mix time was about 8 minutes. Gather up into a ball... it should be pretty smooth and silky at this point.

Dribble a few drops of olive oil on it and roll around to cover in the bowl. Cover with a towel and let rise (I only had half an hour, but all day would have been better). I left the bowl on top of the heating stove.

Start up the oven with a pizza stone 1/3 from top, at 500 degrees (600 if your oven can go that high, but mine can't). Heat up the oven for at least for half an hour before you plan to start baking.

Rip off pieces of dough and stretch by hand into rough rounds (I think this would have made 4 rounds about 8" across). Work on a cornmeal-dusted surface (I used a pizza peel, but the back of a rimmed cookie sheet would work). Top with a tablespoon or two of sauce and whatever else you have (we used a bit of browned hot Italian sausage, thinly sliced red onion, thinly sliced mushrooms, and grated mozzarella).

Slide the pizza from the peel onto the hot pizza stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes (watch for a nice brown crust but don't let it burn). I meant to throw an ice cube on the bottom of the oven for humidity, but I forgot. Pull it out (if you don't have a peel, maybe a spatula could pull it out back onto the cookie sheet?), let rest a few moments, slice and devour.
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Dec. 21st, 2010

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Ginger Sluts

Ginger Sluts

Based on naamah_darling's recipe, here's my entry for the Best Cookie in the Universe competition (many, many thanks to kightp for the pointer!). This spicy cookie features some very adult flavors, and holds up as well with a glass of merlot as it does cold milk.

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/3 - 1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped (I used Trader Joe's uncrystallized)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
4 good grinds of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup turbinado sugar

In a bowl of a standing mixer, mix butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the egg, molassas and chopped candied ginger, mix together. Sift in the flour, soda, cocoa, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, peppers and salt. Mix just until incorporated, and chill for at least one hour.

Place oven rack in the center of the oven and set to 360 degrees F. I used a #70 disher (the ice-cream scoop thingie), which made balls just under a tablespoon (or just scoop up a scant tablespoon and roll into a large marble). Roll one side of the ball in the turbinado sugar and place sugar-side up on a cookie sheet covered with either a Silpat or parchment paper. Cookies spread to about 2", so don't crowd them.

Bake for 10 minutes, one sheet at a time. Cookies will puff up and then deflate when you take them out. They don't really brown; don't overbake. Let rest on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before using a metal spatula to transfer to a cooling rack. Try not to hork down the whole batch instantly (good luck with that).

Makes about four dozen 2" cookies.

Jul. 15th, 2010

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Summery Noodle Salad

I was hungry, but since I'm trying to do this anti-yeast diet thing, I couldn't just grab my normal go-to quick breakfast (bagel or cereal).

I sort of wanted something Thai-ish, but we're saving money and Linc's got a cold, so I'm not gonna go out hunting for Pad Thai (besides, we live in Little Poland... no reliable Thai that I've found yet). Instead, I searched online for a recipe that sounded good and used what we had on hand. Lot of close but no cigar.

So I made something up. It was so good, I wanted to remember it.

Soak a pound of thin rice stick noodles in hot water, while a second pot starts boiling water. Set timer for 15m.

Chop up veggies (I used three heads of baby bok choy) and saute in 1T oil; add a bit of toasted sesame oil too. Peel, crush and add 4 cloves of garlic. Grate in about 2T ginger. Cook on low while you finish dressing. I mean, MAKING the dressing. I'm already dressed. Sheesh.

In a nice big bowl with a cover (you're gonna put it in the fridge), whisk a can of coconut milk, about half a cup of broth (I used chicken, but if you just used water or vegetable broth, this could be vegan), about 4T of Sriracha red chili sauce, about half a cup of peanut butter, the zest and juice of a lime, 2T rice vinegar, 2T soy sauce, and 2T brown sugar. Whisk it all up. Taste it and add whatever is missing (I think I could have used fish sauce instead of soy sauce).

Did you get that all done before your timer dinged? Nice. You're much more dextrous that I am. When your timer dings, pick up your soaked rice noodles and put them into the pot with the (hopefully by now) boiling water, set your timer for 2 minutes. DO NOT WANDER AWAY! Overdone rice sticks are sad, sad things. Taste your noodles and yank 'em if they seem done before 2m. Drain in a strainer (cos if you use your colander with the slits, you'll lose a buncha noodles).

Toss noodles, dressing, and veggies all together. You could wait until it's cold, but I'm scarfing it as-is. Yom!

Mar. 25th, 2010

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Pseudo Samoas

A friend posted a link to a recipe for homemade Girl Scout Samoas (aka Caramel De-Lites). I decided to make a double batch for a fundraiser.

Homemade Samoas

I used her recipe almost exactly, so I won't reproduce it here, but I wanted to make some notes so others can learn from my mistakes.Collapse )

If I hadn't gracefully dumped part of a tray when I removed them from the oven, I would have had 60 finished cookies total from that double batch (that came out to about 30 cents and six minutes per cookie!).

Did I mention how fiddly these cookies are? But they are soooo good... like fabulous little candy bars!

Jan. 28th, 2010

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Butternut SUCCEED! Part II

So I had a couple cups of baked, smooshed butternut squash in the fridge after making the lasagna, and needed to use it up. A friend suggested making a pasta sauce with it, so here's what I did:

Sauteed a diced sweet yellow onion in some olive oil, added a big handful of those Costco bacon bits, poured in the puree and heated it all up. Crushed a couple cloves of garlic into the pot, stirred in about a half cup or so of toasted pine nuts, then mixed it up with about a pound of cooked and drained penne.

It was a perfect winter lunch, and it was done faster than the time it took to boil the pasta!

Incidentally, I think I may have found a local substitute for my beloved Scimeca hot Italian sausage: Nottoli's does a really nice version, along with an Italian grocery that rivals Bella Napoli (Notolli's has a website, but for some reason it doesn't mention the Harlem location, which is about a mile away from my house!). Their sausage has some heat, but not in a one-dimensional, overpowering way like some other local sausages I've tried, with a good dose of fennel and other spices. They also make another local delicacy that Bill and I have grown fond of, giardiniera, a spicy pickled mixture of vegetables (that sounds pretty awful, but believe me, it's terrific!).

I have more I'd like to say about the Chicago food scene, but I think I'll save it for later. Just wanted to let you know I'm still here, and still cooking!

Jan. 8th, 2010

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Butternut SUCCEED! Part I

Driving back across the US to Chicago from Washington State, my kind mother-in-law Lorraine gave me two spectacular specimens of butternut squash, grown from her own garden. We used one right near Thanksgiving, in a soup that was phenomenally bad due entirely to my own errors. The second has been patiently waiting for me to regain my winter-squash confidence, alone on my pantry shelf.

I read a recipe for a butternut lasagna in the Chicago Times the other day, and decided to give it a go. The recipe writing was kinda lame ("Tumble in onions to brown," that sort of thing), but as my wont, I changed it up quite a bit anyway.

What you'll need:
Butternut squash
1 lb. Italian sausage (or, if you want to do it the hard way, 1 lb. ground turkey, garlic powder, salt, pepper, paprika, olive oil, anise and fennel seeds, red pepper flakes)
1 c. ricotta (or, if you want to do it the hard way, 1 qt. milk, salt and white vinegar)
Quart of chicken broth
Parmesan rinds (optional)
Box of lasagna noodles
2 eggs
Nutmeg
Salt
Pepper
Onion, chopped
Garlic, 2 cloves peeled and pressed
Thyme
Parmesan
Bag of baby spinach

The day before, take a pound of ground turkey and mix with about 1/2 tsp. each salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Whiz about a quarter cup of olive oil in the blender with 1/2 tsp. each anise seeds, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes. Pour into meat, mix well, cover and refrigerate overnight.(Or... be smart and buy some hot Italian sausage before the big snowstorm.)

Split the squash long-ways, scoop the seeds, lay the halves cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, bake at 400 degrees F for about half an hour (you want a fork to slide into the thickest part easily, but you don't want the skin to burn to heck). When cool enough to handle, slip off the skin and put the flesh into a food processor. My squash was huge; I pulled out about two cups to save for later, leaving about four cups in the bowl.

Put a quart of milk and 1/2 tsp. salt into a nonreactive pot and slowly bring to 180 degrees F, turn off the heat and add 2 T white vinegar, stir for a minute, then scoop curds into a cheesecloth-(or really thin dishtowel)-lined strainer, let sit for 15 minutes. (Or... be smart and buy some ricotta cheese before the big snowstorm hits.)

Put about a quart of chicken broth into that non-reactive pan, with a few Parmesan rinds. Let simmer until reduced by about half. Remove rinds and give to the grateful dog.

Start a pot of boiling water for the lasagna noodles (unless you have the no-bake kind, which I didn't figure out until I was about ready to dump 'em in. They were whole wheat, funny little postcard-sized sheets).

Run the food processor until the squash is nice and smooth. Throw in your ricotta (about a cup) and a couple of eggs, along with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne to taste.

Brown the sausage in a drizzle of olive oil, along with a chopped onion, a couple cloves of pressed garlic, and add salt, pepper and thyme to taste.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Pull down your glass 9x13 pan and figure out how many layers you're going to have. This is determined by the noodles and your patience... e.g., 3 layers of noodles means 2 layers of filling each. I had enough for four layers of noodles, which meant I divided my fillings into thirds (and the broth into five parts).

Open a bag of baby spinach. Put a chunk of Parmesan into your cheese grater. Here comes the fun part!

It goes together like this: a scoop of broth to moisten the bottom, then (noodles, broth, squash, sausage, spinach), repeat until you end with the last layer of noodles, the last ladle of broth, and a generous grating of Parmesan. Spray some foil with nonstick spray and cover, pop into the oven for 1/2 hour (or, if you're using the no-bake noodles, closer to 45 minutes). Remove the foil for the last ten minutes if you like a crispy top. Let sit so it can absorb all those yummy juices for another 20 minutes while you set the table and fix a nice green salad. (Yeah, you could have done that while it was cooking, but you'll more likely have been on the Internet reading SlashFood, right?)

Enjoy!

Dec. 8th, 2009

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Oatmeal Scotchies

A toothsome, hearty cookie. So good!

I don't know how many this recipe makes, because we always eat so much of the dough while we're baking them.Collapse )

Sep. 10th, 2009

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Reinventing the Wheel: Stop the Madness!

Okay, I admit it. I have favorite recipes that I have to recreate every danged time I make 'em: Green Chili Enchiladas, Meatloaf, Fettuccine Alfredo... I have a few recipes on sites like Epicurious and AllRecipes that I use for basic inspiration, but I can't ever be content with just using them as they are. I have to incorporate suggestions from the comments, or alter it to accommodate whatever vegans or vegetarians are around, or simply start freewheeling based on available ingredients and muses catch my attention.

One of the theoretical uses of this blog was to keep track of these favorite recipes, updated with the changes I've tried and liked. I think I did that with the jambalaya recipe a while back, but have sadly fallen down on the job in the interim.

So... here's a dish I regularly slap together, and finally have gathered all the changes into one place. I'm recording it here mostly to save me time in the future, but in case others are interested in giving it a whirl, I'll gladly share it.

Mamagotcha's Turkey Stroganoff
1 lb. pasta (traditionally egg noodles, but I'm not gonna tell if you use penne)
1 lb. ground turkey
4 oz. butter
One yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth or water
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 to 1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sherry
dash nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring pasta water to a boil (chop your onions and mushrooms while it's heating up) and cook according to instructions (you can finish the rest of the meal while it's boiling). Brown meat in butter in large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions, cook until softened. Add pressed garlic. Add mushrooms, cook until limp. Stir in the flour until absorbed. Stir in broth or water, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened. Lower the heat and add mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Add in the sour cream and sherry; don't return to a boil or you'll have a curdled mess. Heat briefly then add a bit of grated nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

I like to return the drained noodles to their boiling pot and then pour the sauce in with them. While it cools a little bit and the noodles soak in all that stroganoffy goodness, you can rip up some lettuce leaves for a salad.

This is a pretty forgiving recipe... you can nudge the amounts of pasta, turkey, mushrooms and broth up and down as needed (or as available).

Enjoy!

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