Friday, December 31, 2010

Clementine-Ginger Marmalade

I was reading some recipes for orange marmalade when it struck me that clementine marmalade would be a lovely variation, especially since they're so cheap right now. While the proportions are my own, I followed Alton Brown's method for the cooking process. Make a batch and spread some on your English muffin or dab a bit on some grilled pork.

Makes about 2 pints

1 3/4 lbs clementines
2 lemons
3 Tbsp grated ginger
5 C water
1 lb plus 5 oz sugar

Special Equipment:
5-6 qt pot
2-3 pint jars with rings and lids
jar lifter
canner or a large stock pot

Cut each clementine half across
the sections.
Wash and peel the clementines, reserving the peels from about 5 of them. Remove the stringy pith from the center. Chop the clementines into small chunks, reserving any juice (I cut across each half of the peeled clementine, then peeled apart the sections--see the pictures to the left).

Place the chunks and reserved juice into the 5-6 quart pot.  Zest and juice the lemons and add it all to the pot. Add the grated ginger and 5 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce to a rapid simmer and cook for about 45 minutes--the fruit should be very soft.

Peel the sections.
Meanwhile, put the jars, rings, and funnel in the canner or stock pot, cover with water and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the lids. This will disinfect your equipment and help prevent the jars from shattering because you're going to add hot liquid to them later.

This next bit I learned from Alton: put a small plate in the freezer while you continue making the marmalade. You'll use this to test the consistency.

Bring the clementine mixture back to a full boil and add the sugar. Stir very frequently for about 30 minutes, or until the color darkens a bit and reaches 222 degrees. Spoon a small amount of the marmalade onto the center of the frozen plate and wait about 30 seconds. Tilt the plate; if the marmalade slides easily along the plate, it's not ready yet. If the marmalade very slowly oozes around on the plate, it's ready.

Drain the jars, lids, rings, and funnel onto clean towels. Make sure your jars are completely dry before adding the marmalade (they will dry quickly since they were boiled). Funnel marmalade into the jars, filling them so that only a 1/4 inch of space is left at the top (I was only able to fill 2 jars). Wipe off any extra marmalade form the sides and rings of the jars. Add a lid and screw on the rings tightly. Using your jar lifters, carefully place the jars back in the canner or stock pot of boiling water and boil for 10 minutes. Lift them out with the jar lifters and let cool completely (about 24 hours).

One a jar is open, it will keep for about a week in the refrigerator. The unopened jars will last for about a year in the pantry.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ginger Beer

I am never drinking commercial ginger ale or ginger beer again.  Not only is homemade ginger beer easy to make, it's incredibly inexpensive and delightfully fresh tasting.  When I decided this tasty project was definitely for me, I started by reading a bunch of recipes online to get an idea of what proportions to use and how long to ferment.  My first batch didn't have nearly enough ginger and didn't ferment how I'd hoped, but the second batch was perfect.  It's wonderful by itself or mixed with your liquor of choice.

Total Time: 3 days
Active Time: 20 minutes
Makes a little over 1.5 L

4 1/2 oz freshly grated ginger (see note below)
1 C sugar
1/4 tsp baker's yeast
juice from 1 lemon
zest from 1 orange
cold, filtered water

Special Equipment:
an empty, clean, 2-liter plastic soda bottle with screw-top
2 empty, clean, 750-mL glass bottles with stoppers or corks

Note: So you don't have to peel and grate all that ginger, cut it into large chunks and put it in the food processor until it's pretty much pulverized. You don't have to worry about the peel because you're going to strain it later.

Place the funnel in the soda bottle.  Funnel the yeast, sugar, lemon juice, and orange zest into the bottle.  Place the grated ginger in a small bowl and enough filtered water to make a paste.  Add the ginger paste to the soda bottle.  Fill the bottle halfway with more filtered water, close the cap, and shake to combine.  Fill up the bottle with more filtered water so that you leave about an inch of room at the top of the bottle. Close the cap again and shake.

Now for the fun part: place the bottle someplace that's dark and not too cold or warm (about 64F) and leave it alone for 2 days. We put it in a large cooler and covered it with the cooler's lid. There's a small chance the bottle could explode a bit due to the pressure building up during the fermentation process. Thankfully, you're using a bottle that's already been subjected to pressure from carbonation and you're left a small amount of air in the bottle so the chance of some spilled ginger beer is small.

After 2 days, put the bottle in the fridge to stop the fermentation. Leave it in there for a day.

When you're ready to drink, set the bottle of ginger beer down in the kitchen sink (there might be spillage). The bottle should feel rock hard. Very, very slowly open the bottle. We loosened the cap the teensiest bit over time, letting the bubbles calm down before each twist of the cap. Be patient or you'll end up with lots of sticky ginger beer in the sink and not so much left in the bottle.

When you've finally unscrewed the cap, place some cheesecloth in the funnel and place the funnel in one of the 750-mL glass bottle. Pour the ginger beer through the strainer, leaving a bit of room at the top of each bottle. You'll have some leftover ginger beer that won't fit into the glass bottles, so strain that into a glass and drink it. Store the strained ginger beer in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (if it lasts that long).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Served With Love's Baigan Bharta

I was looking for another dish to go with my leftover chana masala and remembered reading about Served With Love's version of this great Indian eggplant dish. Though I don't think I've ever eaten or ordered this dish, I've fallen in love with it and will be making it many more times. It's like an Indian ratatouille without the zucchini. I only made very minor changes to the recipe (like skipping the cabbage and using whole canned tomatoes instead of fresh because that's what I had on hand). You can see the original recipe here.

Total time: about 1 hr, 15 min.
Makes 4-6 servings


2 medium eggplants, about 2 1/2 lbs total
vegetable oil
Served with chana masala and basmati rice.
1 Tbsp ghee
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
a pinch of Hing, or Asafoetida powder
2 medium onions, finely diced
1 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes, diced, juices reserved
1 1/2 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp grated garlic
1 serrano chili, minced
1/4 C cooked green peas

Dry Masala:
1/2 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 Tbsps chopped scallions, white and pale green parts only

Preheat the broiler. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and smear with vegetable oil, placing the eggplant in a large broiler pan. Broil until skin is charred and the eggplant is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove and let cool for a few minutes, then put the eggplants in a ziploc bag, seal it, and let steam for about 10 minutes (this make the eggplant easier to peel). Peel the eggplant, scrape out any seeds, and mash the eggplant with the back of a wooden spoon.

In a very large skillet, melt the ghee over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds. When the crackle, add the hing, garlic, and ginger, and cook until fragrant.  Add the onions and fry until the begin to brown.  Add the tomatoes with juices, chili, and salt to taste.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have broken down and some liquid has evaporated.  Then add the dry masala and mix.  

Now add the mashed roasted eggplant and stir until the eggplant gets nicely mixed into the masala. Season with some more salt.  Add the green peas and cook the bharta, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the bharta turns a rich brown color.  Test for seasonings and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Finally, add the chopped scallions, turn off the heat and cover. Let the pale green parts of the onions wilt a bit, then serve.

Note: I forgot to add the hing the first time I made this and I still loved it. If you don't have any, just sprinkle a bit of lemon juice over the bharta at the very end of cooking.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Prunes Stuffed with Mascarpone and Wrapped in Bacon

We hosted a small Christmas party on Friday and decided to make it an ingredient-themed potluck.  We chose two special ingredients: cinnamon and bacon.  Guests could bring a dish using one or both of those ingredients and we ended up having a fairly wide range of foods--bacon macaroni and cheese, roasted brussels spouts with bacon, chocolate-bacon cupcakes, chana masala, and almond-milk rice pudding.  I desperately wanted to come up with an appetizer that combined cinnamon and bacon.  These prunes were the end result.  I was originally going to use dates, but the grocery store was complete out and I didn't feel like driving all over town just to pick up dates (ha!).  These little appetizers have a crispy, salty outside with a creamy, slightly sweet interior.

Total Time: about 30 min.
Makes 24 pieces

24 prunes, pitted
2 oz mascarpone cheese
12 slices bacon
ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400F. Spread the bacon in a single layers on a sheet pan, sprinkle some cinnamon over the top of each slice and bake until the slices begin to brown but are still flimsy.

While the bacon is cooking, transfer the mascarpone to a plastic storage bag and cut a 1/4-inch hole in one of the bottom corners. Pipe the cheese into the top of each prune (where the pits were removed).  Set stuffed prunes aside.

Lower the oven temperature to 325F.  Remove the bacon from the oven and transfer the slices to a paper towel-lined plate. Cut each bacon slice in half crosswise.  Wrap a half-slice of bacon around a stuffed prune, cinnamon-coated side touching the prune.  Place each wrapped prune, seam side down in the cups of a mini-muffin tin (or two regular muffin tins).  If necessary, secure the bacon wrapping by sliding a toothpick through bacon seam and through the prune.  Bake for another 10 minutes, or until the bacon gets nice and crispy.  Transfer each prune to another paper towel-lined plate to remove some of the excess bacon drippings, then serve.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sweet Potato Gratin with Leeks, Goat Cheese, and Toasted Hazelnuts

Earlier this week I went to a Potato Party (yes, it is exactly what is sounds like) and I wanted to make a quick, easily transportable potato dish.  I had read a recipe somewhere for a butternut squash gratin that is very similar to this but I can't remember where I saw it.  Anyhow, this gratin is rich, creamy, and nutty--perfect comfort food for a cold, rainy day.  It works as a side dish, but I think would also be great as a main course.


3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut into ½-inch slices
2 Tbsps olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsps butter, plus more for prepping casserole pan
4 large leeks, pale green and white parts only chopped (and washed well)
½ C chopped fresh sage
4 oz goat cheese
1 C heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 400F.  Toast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet for about 8-10 minutes, transfer the nuts to a towel and rub them together to remove the husks.  Roughly chop the toasted, husked hazelnuts and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato slices with the olive oil, some kosher salt, and black pepper. Lay the potatoes on a sheet pan in a single layer (use two pans if necessary) and roast in the oven until they begin to brown (about 35-40 minutes), flipping the slices over about halfway through cooking time.

While the potatoes are roasting, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper and sauté until, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the chopped sage and stir to combine.  Coat a 11x7 casserole with the extra butter or a butter wrapper. Spread half of the leek mixture over bottom of the casserole. Spread half of the sweet potatoes over the leeks, then crumble half of the goat cheese on top. Repeat this layering of leeks, squash, and cheese.

Ready to add the cream, hazelnuts, and bake.
Lower the oven temperature to 375F. Pour the cream evenly over the gratin and sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts. Bake uncovered until the gratin is heated through and the cream is bubbling, about 35 minutes.

The gratin can be assembled ahead of time; prepare all ingredients and transfer to the casserole dish, but don’t add the cream or hazelnuts.  Store in the fridge until you’re ready to bake, then add the cream, nuts, and increase the baking time by 8-10 minutes.

Apple, Sausage, and Parsnip Dressing

So I made this huge batch of dressing to bring to a Holiday potluck last week, but due to car troubles I wasn't able to get home in time to bake it and get to the potluck. The good thing is, I already had something yummy made for dinner when I was finally got home.

Total Time: about 2.5 hours, includes chilling time and baking time
Active Time: about 30 minutes
Makes 10 servings

1 1/2 lbs mild Italian sausage, casing removed
2 Tbsps olive oil
1 lb semi-tart apples (I used Arkansas black apples), peeled, cored, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
4 medium parsnips, peeled, chopped into 3/4-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
6 Tbsps butter, divided
1 C roughly chopped onion
1 C roughly chopped celery
4 C cubed sourdough bread, crusts removed
1/4 C parsley, chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped (about 2 Tbsps)
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
4 C chicken broth
1/4 C cream
1 egg
freshly ground black pepper

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and brown the sausage, breaking it up with a spatula or back of a spoon, until no raw color remains. Remove the sausage from the pan and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Clean the skillet and return to the stove on medium heat.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in the skillet and add the chopped parsnips, season with salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes, then add the apples. Continue to cook until the parsnips and apples have softened. Add the parsnips and apples to a very large bowl, then add the bread cubes and sausage.

Place the onion and celery in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped (but not pureed). Melt the other 3 tablespoons of butter in the skillet over medium heat, then add the onion and celery and season with salt. Cook until the vegetables have softened and begin to brown slightly. Add the vegetables to the bowl with the parsnips, apples, sausage and bread cubes; stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, combine the parsley, rosemary, chicken broth, nutmeg, cream, and egg. Season with lots of black pepper (or however much you like). Transfer the sausage dressing ingredients to a buttered 9x13 casserole dish, and pour the liquids over the dressing. Press the dressing down in the pan (I used my hands) so that the soaking liquid coats all of the ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour so that the flavors can meld. Let the dressing sit out for about 30 minutes prior to baking. (The dressing can be made ahead of time. I let mine sit in the fridge for about 6 hours.)

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400F.  Bake the dressing on the middle rack for 35-40 minutes (the liquid should be absorbed and the top should be browned).  If the dressing gets too brown on the top, tent with foil before it finishes baking.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Miso Soup with Tofu, Spinach, and Mushrooms

This isn't a traditional miso soup by any means, but it is quick and very tasty.  Instead of the typical dashi made with kombu, I just used to a homemade light vegetable stock.  If you're going to use a pre-made stock, make sure you use one that's not very salty as you'll be adding salty miso paste to it.

Total time: about 20 minutes
Serves 4-6

6 C light vegetable stock (I use this recipe)
1 lb firm tofu, drained, sliced into 3/4-inch cubes
6 oz mushrooms of your choice (I like oysters and shiitakes), sliced
5 oz fresh spinach
1 Tbsp miso paste (I used an organic brown rice miso)
1 scallion, green parts roughly sliced and pale green parts finely sliced


Heat the vegetable stock in a medium pot over medium heat. Once warm, ladle some of the stock into a small bowl and whisk in the miso paste; set aside. Add your mushrooms to the pot and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add the tofu and spinach and stir until the spinach wilts.  Remove from the heat, return the miso and broth mixture to the pot, and divide the soup between bowls. Top with the sliced scallion and serve. Serve with a side of rice or these spicy green beans.

Spicy Green Beans with Shallots

These green beans are great served over rice, with some crispy pork, or on their own as a side dish.

Total Time: 15-20 minutes
Serves 4

1 lb fresh green beans, washed, ends trimmed
1 shallot, sliced very thinly
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, for garnish

For dressing:
1/4 C low-sodium soy sauce
1 serrano chili, stem removed, (seeded if you don't want as much heat), minced finely
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp mirin

Toast the sesame seeds, if using, in a dry skillet over medium heat until they brown slightly (do not let burn).

Whisk all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanche the green beans until crisp-tender (about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes).  Remove the green beans with a spider strainer and quickly dump into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  Drain the beans and pat dry to remove excess water.

In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  Add the shallot and cook until fragrant.  Add the green beans and stir to warm the beans.  Add the dressing and stir to coat the beans.  Divide the beans between four plates and drizzle the remaining dressing over the beans (or over rice, if serving).  Sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and enjoy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Eggs Baked in Tomato Sauce with Bleu Cheese and Parsley

I love eggs with tomatoes.  Here's my version of eggs baked in tomato sauce; I just used ingredients I had on hand, but you could substitute feta or goat cheese for the bleu cheese and basil or other herbs for the parsley.

Total time: about 15 minutes
Serves 2

about 3/4 C of tomato sauce; I used this quick tomato sauce
1/4 C bleu cheese crumbles
Before baking.
2 eggs
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Butter two ramekins or spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Ladle the tomato sauce into the two ramekins.  Sprinkle the bleu cheese on top of the sauce and gently press the crumbles into the sauce so you make a fairly flat surface for the eggs.  Gently crack an egg into each ramekin.  

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the whites have cooked and the yolks are just a bit runny (baking for longer will cook the yolks more).  Remove from the oven, sprinkle with black pepper and parsley. Let cool for a few minutes and serve.

Served with strips of toasted English muffin and coffee.

30-Minute Tomato Sauce

This tomato sauce is fast, flavorful, and ridiculously easy.  Whip some up to dip bread in for a snack or side dish, or double the recipe to ladle over a pound of cooked pasta.

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
14 oz canned good diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Heat olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about a minute.  Add the onion, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns golden.

Add the tomatoes with juices, parsley, and a bit more salt and pepper.  Stir to incorporate and bring the tomatoes to a simmer.  Reduce the heat so that the sauce can barely simmer (just a few bubbles come to the surface) and don't touch or stir it for about 20 minutes.  A thin film of oil should appear on the surface.  Taste and adjust for seasonings.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

BrokeAss Gourmet's Orange-Cardamom Applesauce

Though I saw this applesauce recipe on BrokeAss Gourmet a month ago, I just now got around to trying it.  I absolutely love it and am desperately trying not to eat it all before I can it this afternoon.

I made some small changes: 

1) Reduced the amount of orange juice to the juice from just one orange (and replaced that lost liquid with water).
2) Added about a teaspoon more of cinnamon and about a teaspoon of some good curry powder.
3) Used orange blossom honey instead of regular honey.

I used a combination of organic Fuji and Granny Smith apples.

Seriously, you have to try this.  Gabi's recipe is not only extremely tasty, but making applesauce is incredibly easy and tastes nothing like the stuff you buy from the store.

If you don't want to eat it right away, here are some instructions on canning your deliciousness.  The actual canning process starts around step 8.  Make sure your applesauce has cooled before you put it in jars.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Tonight we were really in the mood for salmon, spinach, and rice, but didn't know what we to do with them.  We didn't have a whole lot of time to cook and eat, so we used mostly pantry ingredients.  This version of bibimbap was the end result: flaky salmon, wilted spinach, crispy onions, all over steamed rice.  It's got lots of great proteins and it's really filling.  

I don't have a steamer basket and didn't feel like rigging one, so I ending up cooking the salmon under the broiler, and the spinach, onions, and rice in separate pans.

Total time: about an hour


5 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 C thinly sliced onions 
10 oz spinach leaves
1 C medium-grain rice, rinsed
1 Tbsp butter
whatever cooking liquid you want to use for your rice--water, broth, etc.
8 oz salmon fillet, skin left on
sesame oil
rice wine vinegar
2 eggs
Sriracha or whatever Asian chili paste you're into
toasted sesame seeds
scallions, chopped (optional)


Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add the spinach (in batches if necessary), season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender.  Drain the spinach and squeeze out the excess moisture.  Place the spinach in a small bowl, and season with the sesame oil and rice vinegar to taste.
Flaking the salmon.

Dry the skillet and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil; heat over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until onions brown and begin to get crispy (not burned).  This should take about 25 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, melt the tablespoon of butter in a pot.  Add the rice, and toast for a few minutes, stirring frequently.  Add your cooking liquid (in whatever appropriate amount, depending on the kind of rice you use).  Bring to a boil, cover, turn your heat to low, and simmer until the rice is fluffy (about 18-20 minutes, or longer if you're using brown rice).
While the onions and rice are cooking, heat the broiler and prepare your broiler pan with cooking spray or oil, lightly brush some olive oil on the top of the salmon, and season with salt and pepper.  Place the salmon on the pan and broil until the internal temperature reaches 145F.  Flake the salmon with a fork, removing the skin.
Mixing the bibimbap!

Place the pot of rice back on the stove over medium-low heat.  Add 2 tsp of sesame oil, flatten the top of the rice, and carefully break the eggs over the rice so that the eggs fall to the sides of the pan.  Cover, and cook the eggs for about 5 minutes.  Add the salmon, spinach, and onions to the pan to the sides of egg.  Cover, and continue to cook until the egg whites are solid but the yolk is still a bit runny (I sprinkled some drops of water over the eggs before covering to help the steaming process).

To serve: add a generous dollop of Sriracha in the center of the bibimbap.  Mix everything together, scoop into bowls, making sure to get the toasty rice bits at the bottom of the pan.  Add some toasted sesame seeds and scallions, if using.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bolognese Meat Sauce

This recipe is adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.  I served it over homemade pappardelle (I followed Lidia Bastianich’s recipe for rolling and cutting), but you can of course use boxed, dried pasta. N.B. This recipe is almost doubled from Hazan’s original.  I like to make this huge batch and freeze the rest for later use.  This will make way more than enough for 1 ¼ lb of fresh pasta.

Total time: about 3 ½ - 4 hours

2 Tbs olive oil
6 Tbs butter
1 C chopped onion

1 1/3 C chopped celery
1 C chopped carrots
1 1/2 lb ground beef chuck

1 1/2 C whole milk

1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg

1 C dry white wine

28 oz canned Italian plum tomatoes (I use San Marzano), cut in with their juice

freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp good red wine (drink the rest)
freshly graded parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and melt the butter.  Add the chopped onion, stirring and cooking until the onion is translucent. Add the chopped celery and carrots. Cook for about 2 minutes more, stirring the vegetables to coat them well.
Add the ground beef, a large pinch of salt, and black pepper. Break up the meat and stir well, cooking until the beef has lost its raw, red color.
Add the milk and let simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. This can take a while (20-30 minutes). Add the 1/8 tsp of grated nutmeg and stir.
Add the wine and let simmer until it has evaporated. This can also take a while. Add the tomatoes with their juices and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest simmer with occasional bubbles breaking. Cook uncovered for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. If the sauce gets to dry, add some water to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  When you’re ready to serve (or store the sauce for later use), no water should remain and the fat must be separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.
To serve: add the tablespoon of red wine and stir.  Toss with cooked drained pasta.  Serve with the grated cheese on the side.
If you’re not going to serve it right away, you can freeze the sauce.  Reheat gently before tossing with the pasta.

I don't have any pictures of just the food, but here we are enjoying it with (lots and lots of) wine.

I served this with some turnip green - potato mash.  It's adapted from a recipe in Lidia Bastianich's cookbook,
Lidia's Italian Table.  She uses swiss chard and baking potatoes.  Since it's November I couldn't get any swiss chard, so I substituted turnip greens.  Recipe to follow!

Butternut Squash Gratin with Sage and Rosemary

Active Time: about 20 minutes
Total Time: about 1 1/2 hours


3 lbs butternut squash, halved longways, seeds scooped out
4 Tbsp olive oil 
1 1/2 C onion, thinly sliced 
2 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped finely
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp cumin seeds
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 C low-sodium chicken broth

3/4 C fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 C freshly grated grana padano
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried rosemary

Roast your squash in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes.  Peel, then cut the squash into 1-cubes. Leave oven on.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, season with some pepper, and cook until onion is transparent.  Add the squash, sage, thyme, and cumin seeds, and continue to cook until onion and squash begin to brown.

Scrape contents of skillet into a 9x13 casserole and pour in the chicken broth.  Place in over for about 30-40 minutes until the liquid is almost evaporated.  Combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, olive oil, basil, and rosemary in a bowl.  Distribute evenly over the top of the casserole and return to the oven until the breadcrumbs begin to brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Beer-Thyme Mustard

This same recipe seems to be all over the internet, but I finally decided to try it out.  Here's a good website with some general information about home mustard-making, as well as a few other recipes. Next time I'd like to try this out with some different vinegars to see how they can change the flavor.

Mustard seeds sitting in beer.

1/4 C brown mustard seeds
1/4 C yellow mustard seeds
3/4 C flat amber beer (or beer of your choice)
1 Tbsp mustard flour
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 C cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

Put the mustard seeds in a small bowl and pour in the flat beer (make sure your bowl is not aluminum).  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight (or about 8 hours).

When you're ready to make the mustard, mix in the mustard flour, onion, and thyme and let sit for 15-20 minutes.

Pour the mustard seed mixture into a blender or food processor and add the vinegar and salt.  Blend or process until the mixture becomes a paste with a some seeds still visible.  Transfer to a glass jar, cover tightly with a lid and let sit for 4-5 days.  (Don't taste the mustard right after mixing--it will have way too much vinegar taste.  I promise the flavors will blend after a few days.)

Salmon-Chive Stuffed Baked Potatoes

I don't really like baked potatoes very much, but I love this recipe.  It's creamy, cheesy, salty, and totally easy to make.  It's a perfect weeknight meal for me because I can throw the potatoes in the oven, quickly whip up the stuffing and grade most of my papers while the potatoes are baking (both times).

Makes 4 stuffed potato halves
Total Time: about 1 hr, 45 min.


2 large baking potatoes, washed and scrubbed, skin left on
1/2 C buttermilk
3 oz smoked salmon, minced
1/4 C chopped chives
1/4 C finely grated Grana Padano or parmesan, plus more for topping
1 garlic clove, minced
freshly ground black pepper


Bake your potatoes in a 400F oven until tender (about an hour).  Let the potatoes cool for about 20 minutes, until cool enough to handle.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350F.

Meanwhile, mix the buttermilk, smoked salmon, all but a tablespoon of the chives, cheese, garlic, and as much pepper as you would like in a large bowl.  Slice each potato in half longways, then carefully scoop out most of the potato innards and place in the stuffing bowl, leaving about a half-inch border all around each potato half.

Mix up the stuffing (I find it's helpful to use a potato masher).  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary (I only add a tiny bit of salt at this point because of the cheese and salmon).  Stuff your potato shells with the salmon-chive filling, distributing evenly among each shell.  Place your potatoes on a sheet pan and place back in the 350F oven, cooking until heated thoroughly, about 25 minutes.  

Sprinkle some extra cheese on top, return to the oven for 5 minutes or so until the cheese has melted.  Sprinkle tops of potatoes with extra chives and serve.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins

I adapted this recipe from a mix of different sources.  Some pecans or walnuts would be great in the batter, but I didn't add any because somebody else in the house doesn't like them.  Don't leave out the curry powder--you won't taste it specifically in the muffins, but it definitely rounds out the flavor in a wonderful way.

Makes 12 muffins
Total Time: about 35 minutes

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp curry powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground allspice
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup unsalted raw sunflower seeds, for topping

Center a rack in the oven and pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a muffin or cupcake pan with 12 liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.  In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until soft.  Add both the sugars to the butter and continue to beat until light and smooth.  One by one, add the eggs, beating for a minute after the eggs are incorporated, then beat in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the pumpkin and buttermilk.  Add the dry ingredients slowly, mixing only until incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle a few sunflower seeds over the top of each muffin.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the pan.  Transfer each muffin to the rack to finish cooling.

Cat Pumpkins!

Okay, so this isn't a recipe, but at least it's food-related!  This was our little Tuesday morning craft project.  I got the idea from this Better Homes and Garden craft.  I think I like ours better.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Black Bean Soup

This is a quick black bean soup you can make with canned black beans and canned tomatoes.  It's pretty darn flavorful for taking less than an hour to make.

Makes 6 servings.
Total Time: about 50 minutes


1 dried guajillo chili
2 dried chipotles

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 C chopped onion
1 serrano, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
3 15-oz cans black beans, drained, reserving about a cup of bean liquid
28 oz canned whole plum tomatoes, juices reserved
28 oz low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if you prefer)
freshly ground black pepper


Rehydrate guajillo and chipotles by soaking in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain, remove stems and seeds, and mince.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until onion becomes translucent. Stir in garlic, thyme, oregano, cumin seeds, and minced chilis and cook until fragrant (about a minute). Add beans, reserved bean liquid, broth, and tomatoes with juices. Add more black pepper if you wish, and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until soup reduces slightly and flavors blend, about 20 minutes. Puree with a hand blender until consistency you desire). Ladle into bowls and serve.

Irish Stew

I know it's been a long time since my last post, but October has been a crazy month for me so far. I haven't really cooked anything exciting enough over the past two weeks to post, but I do have some older recipes that are definitely worth sharing. So in honor of being able to turn of the A/C, here are two Fall recipes: Irish Stew and Black Bean Soup.

Irish Stew
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Total Time: about 2 hours


1/4 C olive oil
1 lb stew beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb lamb shoulder meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp sherry
6 C beef stock (or veggie stock, if you'd prefer)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
8 oz carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 lbs russet potatoes (peeled if you like), cut into into 1-inch pieces
freshly ground black pepper


Heat oil in a very large dutch oven over medium heat. Add your meats, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, and cook until beginning to brown. Add the onion and continue to cook until meats are browned on all sides (but not fully cooked) and onions have softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about a minute). Add the flour and toss to coat. Deglaze the pan with the sherry.

In a 2-cup measuring cup, whisk tomato paste into 1 cup stock. Add stock mixture to pot, along with the remainder of the stock, more pepper, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and bay leaves. Stir everything together, bring to a boil, cover with a lid, and reduce the heat to med-low and simmer stew for an hour.

Remove lid and add carrots and potatoes. Return to a simmer, replace lid, and simmer for another hour, or until veggies have softened. At this point, if the stew is not as thick as you'd like, remove the lid and cook until the liquid reduces.

I like to serve this with some
buttered cabbage and soda bread.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Baked Eggs with Bacon, Spinach, and St. Andre

I found this recipe on Epicurious a couple weeks ago and decided I had to try it for breakfast one morning.  I made a few small changes, adding some shallot for another flavor, and substituting yummy cheese for the cream (because hey--if I'm going to add some more fat to this dish, it might as well be from my favorite dairy product).

Adapted from:

Bon Appétit | September 2010
by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen

Makes 2 servings
Total Time: about 30 min.

4 slices bacon
1 sourdough English muffin, split horizontally, well toasted
3-oz baby spinach
1 shallot, minced
a few chunks/slices St. André cheese
2 large eggs
freshly ground black pepper

2 1-cup ramekins

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cook bacon, seasoned with black pepper, in large skillet over medium heat until crisp; transfer to paper towels.  Pour off drippings from skillet; reserve drippings.  Add a very small amount of bacon fat back to pan, add shallot and spinach to pan and toss over medium heat until spinach is wilted. Transfer to strainer set over bowl to drain. Brush ramekins with drippings from bacon fat.

Before topping with cheese and egg.
Place 1 toasted English muffin half, split side up, in each ramekin.  Divide spinach among ramekins, crumble bacon, then sprinkle bacon over each ramekin.  

Divide cheese chunks equally between ramekins.  With back of spoon, shape well in center of each ramekin.  Gently crack 1 egg into the well of each ramekin, keeping yolk intact.  Sprinkle with pepper.

Place ramekins on a baking sheet and transfer to over.  Bake eggs until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 14 to 16 minutes.  Let cool for a minute, then carefully run a sharp knife around the inside edge of the ramekin.  Carefully transfer each little breakfast cake to a plate and serve.