Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Meal I Cooked This Year

For dinner tonight, we had cheese tortellini...from Trader Joe's. I did make the sauce myself. It was creamy spinach with proscuitto. I heated olive oil on medium high heat in a pan & added chopped garlic and shallots. I was moving too slowly & started to toast them a little bit, but that's okay because it adds a little more flavor & they didn't burn. Then, I deglazed with white wine & let that reduce by about half & added the spinach. I just used chopped frozen spinach that I defrosted. Add, chopped proscuitto & saute for another minute. Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream, season with salt and pepper & allow the sauce to come to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the sauce until it thickens slightly, another couple of minutes. Finish with 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese. Add the cooked tortellini and you're good to go!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pan roasted hanger steak with sauteed mushrooms and blue cheese

Tonight's dinner was yummy. Just as the title says, I made hanger steak. I cooked it on the stove & did not pop it into the oven at all because I forgot to turn the oven on. I wasn't sure if I would be able to get it cooked to the correct temperature doing it like this, but it turned out perfect. I cooked the steaks to medium well, since we were sharing with the kids (they get to each the edges, where it's cooked further). I finished by basting the in butter. Yum.

For the mushrooms, I just sauteed them in olive oil & butter, and added chopped garlic at the end.

For the sauce, I sweated diced onions in olive oil, then deglazed the pan with white wine. In a different pan, I seared two little scraps of beef, then added the to the onions. I drained the fat off the pan, then deglazed it with red wine. I'm not really sure why I did that, but just thought I'd try. I combined the two wines, added a sprig of fresh thyme and chicken stock and let the whole thing simmer, reducing the liquid by about half. When it was time to serve the steak, I strained the liquid into a saute pan, brought it to a little boil, whisked in a little nug of butter, and seasoned with salt and pepper.

On the side, we had Brussels sprouts from a nearby restaurant, Vios, that I bought earlier today. We topped the steaks with the mushrooms and blue cheese and drizzled sauce all over. Delicious. That's what all that butter does, huh?

Tyler loves steak. Vincent loved it at this age, too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

But, this is what we ate tonight!

Blue cheese and bacon stuffed chicken breasts. Sorry, this is an awful picture, but it was actually super delicious. Here's the link to a much better photo:

I had gotten the recipe from Williams-Sonoma, which was originally used with provolone and pancetta. I was in the mood for blue cheese, and we had bacon instead of pancetta in the house. I mean, who really just has pancetta available in their house? Here's the recipe.

1 tsp. plus 1 1/2 cups olive oil
6 oz. bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs. minced fresh sage
5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each about 8 oz., pounded 1/2 inch thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 Tbs. crumbled Maytag blue cheese
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 egg whites, lightly beaten
3 1/2 cups toasted bread crumbs
In a fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 1 tsp. olive oil. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Transfer the bacon mixture to a small bowl and stir in the sage.

Create a pocket in each chicken breast: Lay the breast on a work surface with the pointed end away from you. Insert a long paring knife in the center of the end closest to you (the rounded end). Move the knife around to enlarge the opening, forming a pocket; be careful not to cut through to the outside of the breast. Then remove the knife. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Stuff each chicken breast with 2 Tbs. of the cheese and 1 Tbs. of the bacon mixture. Set the chicken on a wire rack-lined baking sheet and freeze for 5 minutes. (oops, I missed this step)

Put the flour, egg whites and bread crumbs in separate breading pans or shallow dishes. Dredge the chicken in the flour, then dip into the egg whites and coat evenly with the bread crumbs, pressing so they adhere. Set the chicken on a wire rack-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

In a wide pan over high heat, heat the 1 1/2 cups olive oil. Working in batches, fry the chicken until crisp and browned underneath, 5 to 6 minutes. Turn the chicken over, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the chicken is cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes more, adding more oil to the pan if needed. Drain the chicken on a paper towel-lined plate. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately. Serves 5.

**I only made 2 breasts for the amount of cheese used. Also, I did not pound the chicken breast, and I removed the chicken tenders, breaded them and fried them separately from the breast. In addition, I finished the breasts in a 400 degrees F oven for about 5-6 minutes.

For the breadcrumbs, I toasted two slices of 9 grain bread & pulsed them in a food processor. They weren't as dry as the store bought stuff, but they worked just fine.

This was quite yummy.


I have not posted about Thanksgiving, yet. Sheesh!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy, Thankful, and Full

Dinner turned out just right, if not better. I'm exhausted and ready to sit down with David with a glass of wine and talk about our plan of attack for Black Friday...not really. Will post details tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's The Big Day!

OMG! What have I been doing since Sunday????

Well, let's look back:

Monday - pulled the turkey from the freezer.
Tuesday - nothing...unless you count that I thought about Thanksgiving dinner.
Wednesday - busy, busy!
-cut and cleaned kale
-sliced & diced onions
-diced celery
-picked thyme & parsley off stems
-poached Bosc pears
-made sage butter
-chopped garlic
-reconstituted dried mushrooms
-made ranch dip

I opted not to brine the turkey, because it wasn't quite defrosted, and I just ran out of steam. I didn't chop my herbs as planned, either. And, I didn't make the giblet broth. Gosh, I hope I don't end up scrambling a more today. Oh well, I'm sure it'll all come together at some point today, and if I don't have time to make the broth, well, let's just say I'm THANKFUL for boxed chicken stock. Heeheehee.

It's The Big Day!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

5 days to go and counting...

My gougeres. I think they look so cute and tasty. Unfortunately, I don't think I added enough salt to the recipe. They're a bit bland. Bummer. The recipe called for a large pinch of salt, which is what I put in. I was afraid to add too much salt, since the gruyere cheese is a bit salty, too. Oh well. Maybe I'll have to make something to dip them in.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Turkey Day Countdown - 3

Wow! Full Circle Farm is great! I got my weekly newsletter stating what the contents of our box will be and was able to go and change items around. When we did it a few years ago, it was only 3 items per box. This time I got to change just about everything, if I wanted. I could double some stuff, too. And, the now have a "green grocer" which means I could order other produce (for additional charge, of course) to come with my box. And, it will all be delivered to my door by 6am on Wednesday morning! Just in time for me to start prepping for the big feast.

I got to check off of my shopping list sage, thyme, parsley, kale, delicata squash, and yukon gold potatoes. I also decided to add poached pears to the menu because that was one of my original box contents. Now I have a few more things to add to my shoppinglist, but that's okay.

Yesterday, I braved Costco to pick up the gruyere cheese (along with some other necessary, non-Thanksgiving things). I have made it my end of the year goal not to go to Costco again for the remainder of 2009.

So, here's the gougeres recipe I am planning to follow. Seems pretty easy. I will grate the cheese later today - probably as soon as I log out of Blogger - and I will make and freese them tomorrow. I think I will omit the nutmeg. Check back tomorrow to see how these came out!

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
Large pinch of coarse salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
3 1/2 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (1 cup), plus more for sprinkling
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter and salt and bring to a boil. Add the flour and stir it in with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms; stir over low heat until it dries out and pulls away from the pan, about 2 minutes.
Scrape the dough into a bowl; let cool for 1 minute. Beat the eggs into the dough, 1 at a time, beating thoroughly between each one. Add the cheese and a pinch each of pepper and nutmeg.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and pipe tablespoon-size mounds onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 22 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Serve hot, or let cool and refrigerate or freeze. Reheat in a 350° oven until piping hot.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Turkey Day Countdown - 2

I need to make a shopping list. I don't think it'll be too big of a list, as I've got some of it already, and we are getting some vegetables in next week from our CSA. We just signed up for the boxes this week to start next week. I'm super excited. It's with Full Circle Farm in Carnation, WA. Our first CSA was with them. Then, we did the summer CSA with Oxbow. Oxbow does not offer their boxes in the fall and winter months, which is actually when I have the hardest time buying vegetables in the store.

Anyway, I went off on a tangent...

So, here's what I have on hand:
-dried bread for stuffing
-dried wild mushrooms
-dried cranberries
-cooked chestnuts
-muffin mix
-chicken stock
-turkey is ordered & on its way
-sparkling juices for drinking
-an assortment of potaotes (if I decide to use them)

Here's what I need:
-fresh thyme, sage, and parsley
-yukon gold potatoes (maybe)
-gruyere cheese
-kale (2 bunches)
-delicata squash (x2); should be arriving with CSA
-poultry seasoning (???) it's what the stuffing called for...

I can't think of what else. I am sure I'll be adding more as the day draws near.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Countdown to Turkey Day - 1

The menu:
-one 7lb heritage turkey
-chestnuts and wildmushroom stuffing
-mashed potatoes
-browned butter kale with cranberries and pinenuts
-apple cinnamon muffins

possibly more...

I've been thinking about what all I will need, but not really organized yet. I think we require a trip to Costco for gruyere cheese.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pork Cheeks Ragu

It's fall, there's a nip in the air, and I'm back to braising. Tonight's dinner, pork cheeks ragu & celeriac slaw.

I actually made both of these last night, but couldn't rally to get the braise finished by dinnertime. It was nice to just reheat and eat. Plus, I think this tasted better having sat overnight, too.

Here's the pork cheeks in the pot.
This is the celeriac slaw.
And, the pork cheeks, again, in a bowl.
I wanted to be able to link you to some information about pork cheeks, but sadly, I couldn't really find anything very helpful. It's not your ordinary cut of meat, but it's very tasty. Each piece was about 2-3 inches big. I had a package of about 6 pieces that was given to me as a gift from a friend who works on a farm that I order my meats from ( I have been waiting for the weather to cool down to cook them. Since we also got some cranberry shelling beans from our Oxbow Farm CSA last week, I knew it was time.
First, I cured the meat with just salt, pepper and crushed garlic cloves overnight. Normally, I would throw in sprigs of thyme and bay leaves, but I didn't have either on hand. Oh well.

To cook, I dried each piece of meat on a paper towel, then seared each side in a hot dutch oven. I removed the meat, & cleaned the pan with a paper towel. Then, I cooked cut up mushrooms in butter and olive oil in the same pan, and removed those as well. Next, I sweat diced carrots, onions and celery in olive oil until the onions became translucent, and deglazed the pan with white wine (chardonnay is what I had on hand). I let the wine reduce by half, the fresh cranberry beans, the mushrooms, and the pork cheeks. I just barely covered the ingredients with chicken stock, brought to a boil, then reduced to a simmer, and cooked covered for about 2 hours.
Tonight, I reheated the ragu, and finished it off with a tablespoon of butter to thicken things up.
That's it! It was so yummy. You could really taste the sweetness of the carrots.
For the celeriac ( slaw, I made it just like I would've made a regular coleslaw. Ingredients are: celeriac, carrots, celery, apples, shallots, mayo, and vinegar.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Works Tonight

Hubby took the kids to a class this afternoon, which allowed me to take the time to prepare a full meal.

First, the cheese plate. Seastack from Mt. Townsend Creamery The salad - a mixture of 3 different lettuces (I forget what they're called now), arugula, & basil, with red onions, homemade croutons, toasted almonds, sliced carrots, and sliced breakfast radishes. Tossed with fresh squeezed lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
Main dish - Pan roasted pork chops from Thundering Hooves, roasted cauliflower with just a touch of curry, and sliced fresh peaches. The pork chops were nice and juicey and needed no sauce.
Dessert - Fresh baked peanut butter cookies with toffee and chocolate chips.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Corn Cob Chowder

"Oh, I this is going to be good." That’s what I was thinking as I began my preparation of last night's dinner.

It was a spur of the moment idea, when David suggested we walk to the farmers’ market with the kids yesterday morning. We didn’t really need anything, since we just got our CSA box on Friday. But, I bought 4 ears of corn on Wednesday from Alvarez Organic Farms at the Columbia City Market that I almost forgot about & needed to cook up before we go on our trip. We got a couple of potatoes at the market for the chowder from Olsen Farms – one starchy and one waxy. Here’s what I did:

- cut corn kernels of the cob & cut the cobs in half
- put the cobs in a pot, covered with water, brought to a boil, reduced heat and simmered for about 30 minutes.
- while cobs are simmering, rendered about ½ cup of diced bacon in a dutch oven.
- drain the bacon & set aside
- in the same pan, sweat diced onions, carrots, celery & garlic with about 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat
- add 1 tablespoon flour and stir to coat the vegetable with flour and cook the flour a little (about 1 minute)
- drain the cob stock into the pan; I covered the cobs with more water & added some parmesan cheese rinds that I had sitting around in the fridge (for shits and giggles) & let simmer for another 30 minutes **I did this only because the first pot of stock wasn’t enough for the amount of vegetables I had** - add the corn kernel, fresh thyme sprigs (about 2 or 3), one bay leaf, the starchy potato, peeled and diced, and one cup of cream (that’s all I had in house)
- bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer
- add the cob/parmesan stock to the pot
- add the bacon
- allow to simmer gently until the potatoes are done and soup has thickened nicely
- remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf
- puree about 1 cup of the soup and add it back in to give the soup a little creaminess
- adjust seasoning & serve hot
**I didn't end up adding the waxy potato to the dish because I felt like one potato was enough.
The soup was yum yum yum!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Our CSA, and my little mistake

I meant to post last night's meal here, but it ended up on our family blog. You can go see it there at

We have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box again this year with Oxbow Farm. We share it with another family because one box each week is more than we can eat. We LOVE it.

This week, we get the whole box, since our friends are camping. We're leaving town next week, too, so I want to make sure I get as much use out of it as I can, though I suspect I might have to give some veggies away to my neighbors.

I spent much of last night working on just that. Beets got roasted, beet greens taken off their stems & washed, lettuces cut and washed, carrots stemed and washed, cucumber cut up & "pickled" with sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, salt, sugar and sriracha, and basil turned into pesto.
I'm pretty proud of myself for working so hard.
Beautiful basil.Behold, my pesto.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

And the verdict is...

"Nice work, Honey. That was so good," said Mr. Hunt.

This isn't a great picture, but the meal really was delicious. The potatoes were cut into eighths & quickly sauteed in a hot pan with olive oil, butter, salt, pepper and minced garlic, then roasted in the oven with diced shallots uncovered for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

This is the wine we had with dinner. It's Italian, but still went very well. David and I purchased this bottle of Brunello di Montalcino about 4 years ago in Tuscany. We've been waiting for it to "come of age," which is a minimum of 10 years.
The table is set. All we need is to sit down, pour the wine, and feast. And feast we did. My 2.5 year old didn't appreciate it as much as we did, and my 5 month old eyed Lucy's plate & kept reaching for it, but was only allowed to have pureed peas from a jar (which he was very pleased with).
P.S. - I cooked this meal in my new All-Clad pans.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Boeuf Bourguignon

Beef Stew in Red Wine, with Bacon, Onions, and Mushrooms
(my version has no onions - at least not the little white onions braised in brown stock that this recipe calls for. There are, however, sliced onions used in cooking the meat)


It's been over 8 months since my last post. I have been cooking. I have even taken some pictures here and there. I just haven't had the chance/energy/motivation to post about what I've made. So, for my return, I've decided to cook Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguinon; inspired by my recent trip to the movie theater to see Julie & Julia.
Here's the dish I'm making it in, with leek blossoms from our garden.Mis en place. Oops, I forgot to include the slotted spoon and butter!
I prepared the mushrooms in advance. Just crimini & shitake mushrooms. Trader Joe's sells the criminis already cut, for just a tad more money...totally worth is when you've got too kids still in diapers!
"Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Saute it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides."
"...sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of pre-heated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees."
"Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove."

"Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours."

And, that's exactly what my dish is doing right now. I set it for 3 hours, and it has 51 minutes left. I will check it after 3 hours to see if it needs more time. I plan on serving the dish tomorrow night, but can prepare a day in advance. I still have a few steps to go after it comes out of the oven.

To be continued...