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.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thai-Inspired Fish 'n' Chips

Thai Fish and Chips

For Fish:
Serves: 4
Total Time: about 20 min.

1 lb Tilapia fillets
1/2 C flour
7 oz coconut milk (about 1/2 a can)
1/2 C bread crumbs
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
canola oil
small bunch basil leaves, chopped

Season each side of tilapia fillets with salt.  Set up dredging station: in a large shallow bowl, place flour.  In another bowl, pour in coconut milk.  In a third bowl, mix bread crumbs, pepper, and curry powder.  Set a large plate aside to hold breaded fish.

Coat each tilapia fillet with flour, shake off excess, then coat in coconut milk.  Let excess coconut milk drip off, then coat fillet in bread crumb mixture.  Place coated fillets on plate.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan by about a 1/4 of an inch.  Test the heat of the oil by dropping a pinch of the bread crumb mixture in the pan--the crumbs should sizzle immediately but should not turn dark and burn.

When oil is hot enough, carefully place fillets--two at a time--in pan.  Fry for about 3-4 minutes, or until bottom is a deep golden brown.  Taking care not split the fillet, carefully flip over each piece (I used tongs in one hand with a wide spatula in the other), and fry for about 3 minutes, or until browned (internal temp should be 145 F).  Transfer to plate, top with chopped basil.  Serve with Thai tartar sauce (recipe below).
Crispy Fried Tilapia
“Thai” Tartar sauce:

1/2 C mayonnaise
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
6-7 basil leaves, chopped
juice from half of a lime
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

For Chips:
Serves 4-6
Total Time: about an hour

3 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes (about 4 medium), peeled if you’d like, and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Seasoning mix (see below)

1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp dried basil (I used Penzey’s Sweet California Basil)
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground ginger

Toast cumin seeds, then grind with mortar and pestle.  Add ground cumin to the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and combine.
Seasoned sweet potato fries, ready to be baked.

Season Fries and Bake:

Preheat oven to 450F.

Throw sliced sweet potatoes into a large bowl; toss with olive oil and about half of seasoning mix.  Line two 18x13 sheet pans with non-stick aluminum foil.  Dump fries onto pan, making sure fries lay in a single layer.  Sprinkle as much of the leftover seasoning mix as you’d like over the top of the fries.  Bake for about 28 minutes, turn fries over to brown the other sides, and bake for about 17 more minutes.  Fries should be browned and crispy but not burnt.
Baked sweet potato fries.