Thursday, February 28, 2008


Now with ficin ... ooh and a twelve percent solution! Appetizing.

I feel a little less terrified knowing that ficin comes from figs and bromelain from pineapple, but still ...

Veggie burger anyone?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pasta Bolognese

Like the rest of the foodie blogosphere, I was hooked by the NY Times Magazine story on bolognese sauce. I made the beef bolognese version and it was extremely good.

It takes a long time to make: about 45 minutes of "active" time and another 3 hours of simmering. But, the sauce holds well and improves over time. It's also freezable, so you can stock your freezer for a rainy (or snowy) day.

Click over on the link above for the recipe.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Week of February 24

Happy Leap Week! One extra day in February this year. Yay us.

Many fun new items in the menu this week. Any Cookbook Challenge recipes have a CC next to them.

Menu for the Week
Grilled flank steak with salsa verde
Curred cauliflower with yogurt and mint sauce (CC)
Radicchio flatbreads

Cumin shrimp and garbanzo salad with roasted carrots (CC)

Pasta with bolognese sauce
Green salad

Taco night
Cole slaw with cilantro, scallions and yogurt

Spinach souffle (CC)
Marinated broccoli salad

White Manna (not Mana) sliders
Cole slaw

Drink of the Week: Martinez

According to the thorough write up at Married ... with Dinner, The Martinez is thought by some to be the parent of the martini. Our drink was put together as follows.

Stir together in an iced shaker:
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/4 oz Maraschino liqueur
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Week of February 17

Welcome back to winter. After the fun-filled holiday season, the Superbowl and then Valentine's day, Presidents' Day is sorta a big ol' thud of a holiday, isn't it?

I'm starting to work on the website for my new business venture and look forward to showing it to you all soon. In the meantime, I am trying to try out as many new recipes and techniques as I can. This week's menu includes a lot of recipes for my Cookbook Challenge (noted as CC below - I've been rather remiss in posting over there, I'll admit).

Menu for the Week
Pan-roasted chicken with garlic and rosemary
Baked potatoes
Asparagus with citrus vinaigrette

Turnips in escabeche (CC)
Lentils with crispy shallots
Brown basmati rice
Bitter greens salad (radicchio, frisee and arugula)

Spring rolls with black tea and mango dipping sauce (CC - I don't have the book right here - I know Heidi Swanson calls this dish something way more appetizing than this)
Sour Tientsin (Napa) cabbage (CC)
Szechuan-style green beans

Creamy tomato soup
Grilled cheese

Chirashi sushi
Cucumber salad

Steamed broccoli

A Springtime Dessert: Tart and Flowery

This is the lemon tart I made for dessert on Valentine's Day. Megan from Hey Meg, What's for Dinner? asked that I post the recipe, so here you go ...

I didn't really have a recipe for this dessert, but I wanted a really lemony tart, topped or combined with lavender. I also adore the textural contract of silky against crispy, so I knew that this would have a crisp pie crust and the foundation.

This dish is pulled together in four steps, almost all of which can be done a day (or more) ahead:

Step One: Crust
Make a pie or tart crust (I used this recipe from Melissa Clark). Bake the crust in tartlet shells or tart rings (I have some square ones I used for this) until golden - they will not be baked again, so make sure they are as dark as you like.

Step Two: Lavender Honey
Take about 1/3 cup of honey (clover or wildflower are fine) and 2 tablespoons of dried lavender blossoms (be sure they are suitable for culinary use and aren't treated with any fixatives or other icky non-edible substance) and heat them over medium heat for about 5 minutes (or until the honey is bubbling hot).

Let the lavender steep in the honey for at least an hour (longer is fine). Heat the honey back up and then pour the honey through a strainer to remove the blossoms.

If you have lavender honey in your possession, feel free to skip this step.

Step Three: Lemon Curd
Make lemon curd via your favorite recipe. I strongly endorse this method by Elinor Klivans. It's unconventional, but works really well.

Step Four: Assembly
Warm the honey a little bit if it's too thick to drizzle (in my kitchen it was almost solid at room temp). Whip 1/2 cup of heavy cream and as the cream starts to thicken, drizzle in 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey (check for sweetness). Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks.

Spoon lemon curd into the baked tart shells. Dollop each tart with the whipped cream and sprinkle a few lavender blossoms over the top.

Variations: I am going to try this with other citrus / herb combos: lemon curd and minted cream, grapefruit curd and rosemary cream, lime curd and coconut cream (not an herb, I know).

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Drink of the Week: Red Hook

Like my little rooster glass? Goodwill is way more fun than Crate and Barrel, isn't it?

Yet another in my pantheon of rye-based cocktails, the Red Hook is a cocktail all bourbon/rye drinkers should try. It does require two ingredients you may not own yet (Punt Y Mes and Maraschino liqueur), but it is worth adding them to your liquor cabinet.

Read more about the Red Hook over at The Cocktail Chronicles. My version and proportions are below.

Red Hook

Stir together in an iced shaker:
  • 2 oz. rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. Punt Y Mes
  • 1/4 oz. Maraschino liqueur
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Week of February 10

What an unusual weekend, weather-wise. Over the space of 48 hours, we had whiteout conditions, bright sun, rain, and a temperature that fluctuated by at least 30 degrees. Wacky.

Now, to answer the question on your lips right now: Yum. Yes, those ribs were great. These are Vietnamese-style braised pork ribs. The original recipe is by Molly Stevens and comes from her book All About Braising.

I read about these on David Lebovitz's blog and I had no choice - I had to make them. Do not be afraid of the fish sauce in the recipe - it doesn't make the ribs taste fishy, I swear. Do however, ventilate well during the sauce-making section (it doesn't taste fishy, but wooh, it does smell fishy). Check out David's tips at the end of his post, they were very useful. I made a double batch and baked them at 300 for about 2 and a half hours. BTW, you'll have to click through to Chubby Hubby's blog for the actual recipe.

The first part of the recipe, making the braising liquid, is pretty hands on. But, once the ribs are in the oven, I stirred them about every 30 minutes and that was it. The sauce was really fatty, so plan on some degreasing time if you're planning on serving these the same day you make them. (Otherwise, chill the ribs and then pull off the fat after it's cold.) The braising liquid was also pretty thin at the end of cooking, so after degreasing, I reduced it by about a third and produced a gorgeous, silky sauce.

Menu for the Week
Vietnamese caramel pork ribs
Cucumber salad
Kim chee (not Vietnamese, I know)
Jasmine rice

Tomato soup
Grilled Fontina sandwiches

Green salad

Indian Night
Cauliflower with cilantro and mustard
Roasted eggplant with ginger and garlic
Red lentil dal
Green apple raita
Basmati rice

Valentine's Day
Tortellini in brodo
Bitter greens salad
Goat cheese
Lemon tart with lavender cream

French bread pizzas with mushrooms

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Drink of the Week: The AMT

This is my first foray into MxMo (Mixology Monday). This month's event (MxMo XXIV) is hosted by Jimmy's Cocktail Hour and the theme is "Variations." The challenge is to design a variation on a classic cocktail.

I chose to tweak The Income Tax cocktail. The Income Tax itself is a riff on the Bronx Cocktail.

The Bronx Cocktail is made as follows:

Shake together in an iced Boston shaker. Serve in an iced cocktail glass.
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. orange juice (fresh-squeezed please)
  • 1/4 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. dry vermouth
The next step in the chain is The Income Tax (on the left in the picture):
  • Shake a dash of bitters into your Bronx.
Finally, I am proud to introduce: The AMT Cocktail (in honor of those for whom tax season becomes that much more bloody due to the Alternative Minimum Tax).

Shake together in an iced Boston shaker. Serve in an iced cocktail glass.
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. blood orange juice (fresh-squeezed please)
  • 1/4 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. dry vermouth
  • dash Regan's No. 6 Orange Bitters

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Week of February 3

Ok, I'm back. Our house is completely upside down this week: we're having carpeting installed in four rooms and everything is now in the living room. So relaxing.

Menu for this week is built upon easy to make, easy to prep food. We did have a small Super Bowl meal on Sunday, but nothing as extravagantly horrific for our arteries as last year's cholesterol fantasy. I made the Spicy Grain Soup on Sunday, the lentil soup is from the freezer and everything else is made "to order".

Menu for the Week
Buffalo chicken salad
Bean and cheese dip
LOTS of pepper, carrot, cucumber and celery sticks

Spicy grain soup

Lentil soup

Roasted butternut squash and red peppers
Pan-fried halloumi (cheese)

Spinach frittata
Radicchio salad

Hot dogs
Cole slaw
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