Monday, November 21, 2011


David said that I should take a picture of my green beans with chicken cracklings on top as he was taking the plate to the dinner table this evening. I responded with, "Really? Nah." I just didn't think I was going to have the motivation to post, about it, since I haven't since, oh, 1999. 

I should've because the cracklings were good, and the beans were, too. Cracklings on top of crack. Yeah.

What's cracklings, you ask? Crispy skin. 

I've been thinking of it since Saturday night at work. Our chicken for family meal came out slightly underdone. Ick. So, Saul, who hadn't eaten since breakfast and was super hungry took matters into his own hands. He cut up some chicken, pulled off the skin and roasted it to done. More than done, I'd say. But, the skin got so nice and crispy. I didn't get a chance to sneak a piece, but it looked good. Later, I jumped on the hot line to help out, and one of the dishes is finished with duck cracklings. Hello. Again, I only saw, not tasted.

Tonight, when I was cutting up leftover roasted chicken for dinner, I pulled the skin off, cut it into small pieces and broiled them. Crack, crack, cracklings. With green beans, of course. The rest of the meal wasn't much to talk about; leftover butter chicken with noodles. Oh, and some roasted red beets. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lovely Sandwiches

I ran into a couple of pretzel baguettes at Whole Foods today. They begged me to bring them home and make them into delicious sandwiches. I think I could do that.

Let's see, what do I have at home, and what else will I need? Ah, who cares! If I can't come up with something good, they'll be tasty all on their own.

This is what I came up with.
On your left is Black Forest Ham and Tillamook's Cracked Black Pepper White Cheddar Cheese, and on your right is flat iron steak, avocado, and that white cheddar from Tillamook. I thought about putting some olive oil, or mayo, or butter on the bread, but we don't need the extra calories. I did, however, have some pickled shallots on the side for David and I to add to our portions. Here's what they looked like closed up.
And, sliced and on a plate.
Vincent had the ham and cheese, while Tyler had the steak with avocado and cheese. I had both, with the pickled shallots added (homemade). David had just one piece of the steak sandwhich, as he was heading out to play poker with friends and they'll be having pizza. On the side, we had a golden beets salad with romaine lettuce tossed in a lemon vinaigrette.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Homemade Pasta

I've been thinking a lot about making pasta at home lately. I mean, actually making the pasta. It's actually pretty easy, but I always feel like it's time consuming. A few weeks ago, when I spent my first evening working in Lark's kitchen since 2006. While there, Wiley Frank, sous chef, was showing one of the guys how to make raviolis. He knocked out a set of them so quickly, and smoothly, I thought, "I need to make pasta at home." Of course, he's the sous chef at Lark, and I've never been a sous chef in my life. But, I do know how to use my pasta machine, and I wasn't planning on making raviolis.

I've been hesitant to make pasta since that evening. I'm not afraid. My problem, and this happens with so many things in my life, is that I want to do it right. This desire makes me feel like I need to take the time to research, read, watch videos, etc., before making the attempt to do just about anything I feel worth doing. But, I lack the time, and quite frankly, the energy to go through all that. Instead, I end up not doing it at all. That is, until my want for making such item becomes greater than my need to make it perfectly, and then I just pull whatever I can find off the Internet (thank you, Steve Jobs, for your lovely, lovely iPhone & iPad), and try see what happens. I have every intention to go back and catch up on the research and make it even better then next time.

I finally felt the urge to pull the pasta machine off the shelf and go for it this afternoon. I looked up and compared a few recipes, and settled on a super simple on of semolina flour, water, salt, and olive oil. The result was a very dry, crumbly dough, to which I added a little more water, bit by bit, and kneaded, kneaded, kneaded. When it was finally soft and smooth, I wrapped it up in plastic and let it rest on the counter.

After the boys got up from their naps, I asked if they were interested in making noodles with me. They were super excited. I attached the machine to our dining table, and we went to work, cranking away. The boys each took a turn with the crank, and were amazed to see the large, flat piece of pasta get cut into thin strips of noodles right before their eyes.

What a beautiful thing homemade pasta is, especially when the rest of the meal was homemade as well. I had cooked up a batch of chanterelle and shitake mushrooms at lunch today. I ate about 1/3 of it, and had enough to use for tonight. I pan roasted a piece of flat iron steak, and when it was finished, I threw the cooked mushrooms into the pan with the steak juices to warm up. I deglazed with a little madiera wine, which I then flambeed (mainly just for the effect to show off to my boys), then tossed in the cooked noodles. We also had a romaine salad with golden beets, roasted cashews, and shredded "cracked black pepper white cheddar" cheese from Tillamook. A yummy, yummy meal.

You have got to excuse this picture, as I absolutely need to get a better camera.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Grilled Tenderloin Steak, Zucchini, and Green Beans with Corn and Cherry Tomatoes

The steak and the zucchini are pretty self-explanatory...grill as you like. But, I'm pretty proud of my green beans tonight.

First, I steamed them in a shallow saute pan, covered, for about 3-4 minutes. Then, I drained off most of the water, added some olive oil and allowed the bean to cook until the remainder water had cooked off. Then, I added finely chopped tropea onions (shallots would work) and garlic, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Next, I added fresh corn kernels and cooked until the beans were just tender. I added a touch of water and a splash of sherry vinegar, then swirled in about a tablespoon of butter. Finally, I tossed in my cherry tomato halves, chopped flat leaf parsley and chopped chives. Adjusted the seasoning, and done.

Poulet Basquaise

This comes from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook. I made this almost exactly as the recipe says, and it was dee-lish. Thank you, Mr. Kitchen Confidential. Sorry, no photo available.

poulet basquaise

1 whole chicken, about 4 lb, cut into 8 pieces (I purchased my bird from Whole Foods, who butchered it up for me, and gave me the remainder body pieces. Convenient, and free. Next time, though, I would just cut it up myself, as I like to take the breasts completely off the bone, and they kept them attached. I ended up having to do some cutting at home, too. No big deal. I used all the scraps, minus the liver, for making stock.)
salt and black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper or piment d'esplete (I used smoked paprika, cuz, well, that's what I have, and what the heck is piment d'esplete, anyway?)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
2 red bell peppers cut into fine julienne
2 green bell peppers cut into fine julienne (there were no green bells at the store, and the yellow and orange were expensive, so I omitted this ingredient)
1 onion thinly sliced
16 ounces canned Italian plum tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water + 1/2 cube chicken bouillon or 1/2 cup light chicken stock or broth (like I said, I used the scraps to make a stock, so I used that. Anthony says, "this is one dish that can handle a bouillon cube.)
3 sprigs of flat parsely finely chopped (oh, oops! I didn't see this ingredient until just now)

Equipment - large pot with cover, tongs, plate, wooden spoon, serving platter
Serves 4

Season the chicken all over with salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Heat the large pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the butter. When the butter has foamed and subsided, add the chicken, skin side down, and brown on that side only. Remove the chicken with the tongs and set aside on the plate. Add the peppers and the onion to the pot and reduce the heat to medium low. cook for about 10 minutes, then add the tomatoes and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in the wine, scraping, scraping - as always - to get the good stuff up. Cook until the wine is reduced by half, then add water and bouillon (or the chicken stock). Return the chicken to the pot, making sure to add all the juices that's accumulated on the plate while it rested. Cover the pot and allow to cook on low heat for about 25 minutes, then remove the chicken to the serving platter.

Crank up the heat to high and reduce the sauce for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the parsley. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately, with rice pilaf.

**So, I've already mentioned a few things I did differently in the ingredients, but there's more. Since chicken breasts, though bigger than the other pieces of meat, cook up a little faster and have a tendency to get dry, I add all the chicken into the pot around the same time I added the wine. The legs and thighs can handle the extra cooking and not become dry. The last thing I did before lowering the heat and covering the pot was add the chicken breasts, setting them on top of the other pieces of meat. In hindsight, I'm not sure it was necessary to do that, but nonetheless, the breasts came out perfectly.

We ate our dish with whole wheat penne pasta, and didn't miss any of the green stuff.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jen Beatty's Saag Paneer

Thanks, Jen, for this recipe. It was yummy!

Saag Paneer
My favorite Indian dish! If you can't find paneer, you can use extra firm tofu (drained, pressed and cut into cubes). Serves 4
1½ Pounds Fresh Spinach

1 Pound Paneer, Cubed
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
6 Tablespoons Butter
1 Onion, Peeled & Chopped
4 Garlic Cloves, Peeled & Chopped
1 Inch Fresh Ginger, Peeled & Grated
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
½ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ Teaspoon Garam Masala
1 Teaspoon Salt
Pinch Tumeric
1 Cup Whole Milk Yogurt

Cook and drain spinach. If using fresh, chop.

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet. Fry the paneer in batches, turning over once or twice, until they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
Melt the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion until just beginning to brown. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the ginger and spices and stir well. Heat for a few minutes.
Transfer contents of skillet into food processor or blender. Add the yogurt and process until smooth. (Can be made a day ahead at this point.)
Transfer the spinach mixture back to the skillet. Add paneer and simmer, covered for 10 minutes or until hot. Serve hot with rice.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Blueberry Banana Muffins

Rarely is baking as easy for me as it was this afternoon. And, rarely do my food photos come out this nicely. So, I must share this simple, delicious recipe with you. The original recipe calls for all purpose flour and shortening instead of butter. It also only calls for one cup of blueberries, but one of the reviews recommended more. I had 2 cups, but Vincent and I ate about a half cup before I added them to the batter. Lastly, the recipe did not call for yogurt. I've seen sour cream added to some banana bread recipes, but didn't have any on hand; I had yogurt, so why not?

2 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C butter, room temperature (1 stick)
1 C sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1-1/2 C fresh blueberries
3 Tbl nonfat vanilla yogurt**

1. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Beat in bananas. Gradually add the dry ingredients, beating just until combined. **This is where I added the yogurt; it was an after thought, since my batter looked thick. I think it could have been added at the same time as the bananas. Fold in blueberries.

2. Pour into a greased muffin tin (I think mine had 12 spots). Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack.

I honestly think that the yogurt was helpful. This recipe may have come out dry if I didn't use it, since I used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Seriously, what kid doesn't like spaghetti with meat sauce? Well, I have the two on earth who don't. Okay, I guess, maybe not all kids eat meat, but mine do. They quite enjoy meat. Tyler even likes meatballs; the ones with spaghetti sauce.

I had a feeling Vincent would be so-so on this meal. He hasn't liked red sauce since he was about 2 years old. He also doesn't care for meatballs. But, I haven't tried to make something like this in ages. The closest I get is chili, and lately he's been okay with it. He's also been eating pizza a lot more, which has red sauce on it. After analyzing my childrens' palates, I decided to take a chance.

WTF. Gosh, I don't even want to go into the details of their behavior over this meal. It'll just make me resent them, and I don't want to. Maybe it was because I didn't make the sauce from scratch? I just threw this together with leftover meatloaf and a jar of store bought sauce. Frankly, I enjoyed it. I guess I could think of it as a compliment to my real cooking, since they usually do a better job of eating the scratch meals I make.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Funky Olive Tart-thingy

I forgot to take pictures of tonight's dinner. Doh! Mainly because of the tart thing I made. I only call it a tart because that's the dough I used. It was more like a crust, or cracker, or cookie. Yeah, maybe an olive cookie.
Anyway, I had some tart dough that I pulled out of the freezer a couple of days ago. I knew it needed to be used. And, I had some homemade olive tapenade that had been around a few days, too. So, I decided to combine them.
I rolled out my dough, then spread the tapenade on top, then folded in the edges so that they over lapped. Then, I rolled it out a little more to smooth it. I docked the down with a fork and stuck it in the freezer. Basically, it was a rectangle shape, and about 1/4 inch thick.
Popped it in a 425F degree oven for 20 minutes, and voila, olive cookie. But, it tasted less of olives and more of buttery tart crust.
We also had grilled flat iron steak, from the late Thundering Hooves Farm, with grilled strips of zucchini. I made a sauce for the steak, which was sauteed red onions pureed with fresh cilantro, extra virgin olive oil, sherry wine vinegar, salt and smoked paprika. Yum. Tyler asked for some and actually ate most of the teaspoon I gave him. This was a delightful meal.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cabbage and Kielbasa Salad

Cabbage-and-kielbasa salad (warm)

I found this recipe from America's Test Kitchen's 30 Minute Suppers magazine.

2 Tbl Dijon mustard (I only used 1)
2 Tbl honey
2 Tbl cider vinegar (I didn't have it, so I subbed with Banyul wine vinegar)
5 Tbl olive oil
1 pound kielbasa, cut on bias into 1/2-inch slices
1 red onion, halved and sliced thin (Doh! I read the recipe wrong and only used half of the onion)
1/2 tsp caraway seed
1 (16oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (I used Great Northern)
salt and pepper
1 head napa cabbage (about 1.5lbs), sliced thin
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill (didn't use it)

1. Whisk together mustard, honey, vinegar and 4 tbl oil in bowl. Cook sausage in large skillet over medium-high heat until well browned, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer sausage to plate and tent with foil.

2. Add remaining oil, onion, and caraway seed to skillet, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and browned, about 12 minutes. Add beans and 2 Tbl dressing and cook until warmed through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Reduce heat to low, add remaining dressing and cabbage to skillet, and toss until warmed through and slightly wilted, about 4 minutes. Off heat, stir in dill and season with salt and pepper. Top with kielbasa and onion-bean mixture.*

*I skipped the dill (as mentioned). I cooked the cabbage with the onions-beans, and tossed the kielbasa into the whole pan. Now that I'm typing it all, it seems maybe they meant for the onions-beans to be cooked separately from the cabbage. Nonetheless, it turned out very nicely. I cooked the cabage a bit longer than it calls for, which produced a nice broth. I also roasted some fingerling potatoes, with I topped with this "salad."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Meal Planning

I've sort of been planning our meals out the past two weeks. I needed to do it because I bought proteins at the store without planning. I needed to make sure they get cooked before they expire, so then I planned out our meals based on what I bought. A little backwards, but whatever.

I went to PCC Natural Market last Friday and bought a whole chicken, a chunk of pork loin, and some turkey breakfast sausage. Then, I went to Mutual Fish and picked up some prawns and rockfish. It's a lot of pressure to make sure these things get cooked!

With the prawns, I made a pasta dish Friday night. First, I made a clarified prawn butter with the shells. Then, I used that butter to cook the prawns. Some garlic, red pepper flakes, the prawns, white wine, chopped fresh parsley, all tossed with whole wheat spaghetti. Ooh, and a sprinkling of toasted bread crumbs. Mmmmm.

That same night, I just baked some of the rockfish in the oven, wrapped in foil. Just salt and pepper for a few minutes. That was for the kids. Tyler loved it, Vincent was so-so. I did the same thing, again, last night with the remainder of my fish. After letting the meat cool, I broke it apart and tossed it with cannellini beans, shallots, chopped parsely, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. It was my lunch today.

I roasted the whole chicken for dinner on Sunday night. I served it with mushroom risotto. I used this fancy mix of cultivated mushrooms I found at PCC. They weren't super mushroomy flavored, which was a little disappointing. Nonetheless, this was a delicious meal. The legs and thighs of this organic chicken wasn't as juicy as the non-organic stuff. My chicken skin came out nice and golden crispy. The boys loved the skin.

Tonight, I cooked the pork loin. First, I brined the meat for 2 days. A couple hours before cooking, I took it out of the brine, rinsed it, and patted it dry. I left it out at room temperature until I was ready to cook. All I did was sear it on both sides before popping it into a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes. After letting it rest, I sliced the meat thinly, and served it along side balsamic glazed onions, for build-your-own-sandwiches. I put a sliced up loaf of Columbia City Bakery's filone on the table with a bowl of extra virgin olive oil and a pastry brush. We had our friend, Jill, and her kids over for dinner. Each adult would take bread, brush it with olive oil, pile on the onions and sliced pork. The kids ate the pork, too, along with homemade skillet mac and cheese. Tyler actually didn't finish his pasta, and Vincent asked for more. Guess who's he got to finish. Dessert was the bakery's Super Chip cookies.

Tomorrow, I'll be making chili with the turkey breakfast sausage. I don't know, it sounded much easier than adding my own mix of seasonings into chili. We'll see. I think it'll be tasty.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Gadget Removed & CSA Update

Yup, I removed my gadget with my weekly menu ideas. It was a short lived addition that I failed miserably at. Oh well.

But, let's talk about last week's CSA. I did end up roasting my sunchokes and turnips, like I said I would. David and I ate them like a snack, but they were also served alongside some homemade chorizo chili and grilled chicken (for the kids). I used my roasted beets in a salad with the greenleaf lettuce on Friday, when a couple of girlfriends and I got our children together and cooked together while our husbands were away. The broccoli is kept simple. Steamed with water and some salt. That's the way my boys like it. And, finally, my friend, Jean, cooked up the spinach for us with sesame oil and garlic. Dee-lish.

We still half the box left. I don't see any fancy cooking in the near future, but you'd better believe it'll still be healthy, wholesome, fresh and delicious.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Already February

Time is just flying by. I am feeling a bit old as I think back to 6th grade when my teacher talked about how each year seems to go faster and faster for him. I was like, "huh?" Well, Mr. Bisetta, I think I am starting to understand you.

Anywho, I received our shipment of fruits and vegetables from Full Circle Farm today. We get a box every other week. As I was going through its contents and washing the leafy greens, I felt inspired by the fresh produce. I thought to myself, "What if I post about what I do with the stuff in this box?" So, let me try it...

Box Contents:
1lb purple top turnips
.75lb sunchokes
3 ea Cameo apples
3 ea Gala apples
1.5lbs garnet yams
1 bunch broccoli
1lb zucchini
.4lb cremini mushrooms
1 bunch Lancinato kale
1 bunch spinach
1 bunch green leaf lettuce

As mentioned, I washed the leafy greens. For the kale, I took the leaves off the stems and tore them into bite sized pieces before washing. For the spinach, I just picked the leaves off the long stems. And, the green leaf lettuce was torn into bite sized pieces as well. Now I have those greens washed, spun dried, and ready for use when I need them.

I also put the Chioggia beets into a pan, drizzled with EVOO, added salt & pepper, covered with foil, and they are in the oven (350F) at this very moment. I think it's about time to pull them out, actually. I will let them cool a bit, then rub the skins off with paper towels, cut them up and store them in the fridge for munching on later. Yeah, I would just eat them like that, or I many dice up a little shallot and toss it with EVOO, vinegar, salt & pepper. Better yet, I have some herbed goat cheese in the fridge. I'll make a salad with the green leaf lettuce, beets, and the goat cheese.  Ooh, and I made croutons the other day. Yum.

I'm really looking forward to the turnips and the sunchokes. I never really liked turnips until a couple years ago when my dear friend, Julia (and I don't mean Child) gave me some baby white turnips from her garden. I didn't really know what to do with them, even though I've used them plenty of times as a line cook. Her advice, roast 'em & eat 'em. Wow. It's truly amazing. All this time I was trying to think of what to cook them with, when they can stand all on their own. And, that day I first tried roasting them, my mother-in-law was in town, and she fell in love, too.

As for the sunchokes, same thing. I eat them like a snack!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tonight's Dinner Plan

Right now, I have 15 strips of sliced been marinating in a balsamic vinaigrette, waiting to be skewered and grilled. Served alongside will be new potatoes tossed in pesto, probably a baby greens salad, and maybe some sauteed spinach.