Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Friday! - April 30, 2010

Happy Friday Everyone! I didn't make any treats today. Instead I enjoyed a big smear of dandelion jelly on some whole wheat sourdough toast and called it a week. I hope you all have great weekends. Next week our CSA deliveries start...Yay!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Omelette Burritos - April 27, 2010

Sauteed Mushroom, Onion, Tomato and Spinach Burrito with Chihuahua Cheese

As I was making these the other night, I realized the ingredients were more traditional in an omelette than a burrito, but what's good for the goose is good in a tortilla (or something like that), right? And these were super yummy. I used olive oil in the pan and started the onions first, adding the mushrooms next, followed by the spinach and at last the tomatoes (we have a can open in the fridge that I'm trying to use up), sauteeing for about 3 minutes after each addition. Right in the middle of this process I also tossed in the last sad bit of left over proseco from our Easter mimosas. I though it would be a good use for it. I seasoned with oregano, salt, pepper and some smoked Spanish paprika. We tossed this mix onto some flour tortillas and topped with some Chihuahau cheese that I had grabbed at the co-op a few days ago. Did I say that this was yummy? This is my kind of comfort food.
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dandelion Jelly: Resolved - April 28, 2010

Dandelion Jelly, Take 2

Alright, Dinner Clubbers, I think I finally have this resolved. This is my second batch of dandelion jelly. I ended up using a mash-up of three different recipes which can be found here, here, and here. The first was my inspiration, beautiful and romantic jelly made from sunny yellow weeds. The next two I consulted after my first batch failed to set (due to an unfortunate pectin mistake on my part) as a means to triangulate the proper ratio of pectin to juice. I particularly appreciated recipe number three due to it's accurate description of the time involved in cleaning and removing the unwanted green bits from the dandelion petals. This is not a ten minute task, my friends.

So, to outline my steps, after picking, washing and cleaning the dandelions, I boiled them in 8 cups of water for 10 min and let this mixture cool. I covered it and refrigerated overnight. The next morning, trying desperately not to be dissuaded by the greenish-black color of the liquid, I strained out the petals. I then measured out three cups, and three cups only (I was a bit confused by this direction at first, hence the third recipe to confirm) of this dandelion infused water and added my lemon juice and grated lemon zest, which is what you see suspended in the jelly, and a full 1.75 g package of powdered pectin. This mixture I brought to a boil, stirring to help dissolve the pectin. After I had a steady rolling boil, I added my sugar (I ended up using 5 1/2 cups of plain white sugar), and stirred to dissolve. Once this came back up to a rolling boil, I waited a minute and a half and then removed from the heat. Next I filled my jars, extremely relieved to see a lovely golden color and not something that looked like vegemite, and sealed them in a hot water bath for 5 minutes, and let cool for 24 - 36 hours.

My end product still is not set as firmly as I would have liked, but it tastes good and has significantly more structure than my first batch. I also have another 3 cups of that greenish-black dandelion water left over. I'm not sure if it will go towards another batch (third one's the charm?) of jelly, or if I will try my hand at dyeing some yarn or fabric with it. To be determined...

Thanks for sticking with me on this one guys!
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Brats! - April 26, 2010

Grilled Brats on Homemade Whole Wheat Buns with Apple and Manchego Salad

Hurrah! First brats of the season. I picked these up last week at the co-op on sale. I was going to pick up buns at a non co-op store while on an errand, but I couldn't find any without high fructose corn syrup in the ingredient list. So, I made up a batch in the bread machine using half white and half whole wheat pastry flour. They really didn't take that long...which is to say that I still had 3 hours before dinner to make them. I'm glad I did since they always taste exponentially better than store bought.

I also made this side salad modeled after one on the menu at Bar Lurcat. Nick grated the Manchego, which I recently learned is a sheeps' milk cheese from the La Mancha region of Spain ('Manchego' references 'La Mancha' for you food trivia lovers), while I matchsticked a Granny Smith apple. We tossed these two together and added some chopped fresh chives and parsley, both from the yard! A little salt and squeeze of lime juice was all we used to dress it. It was quite tasty.
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spring Salad and Roast Chicken - April 23, 2010

Spinach Salad with Ramps and Fava Beans Accompanied by Roast Chicken

Due to my preoccupation with dandelion jelly (my second batch is cooling and hopefully setting...I have a good feeling this time), I am behind on meal posts. This is one leftover from last Friday. Much to my delight, the co-op had some Minnesota-foraged ramps last week. I grabbed some, ecstatic at finding some local green things at last. A little further down the aisle, I spied a big basket of Wisconsin-grown spinach. Along with the spinach, I grabbed a handful of fresh fava beans (their tag didn't specify a location, but I'm guessing they were from a little farther away) and this spring salad was born.

I removed the beans from their pods and cooked them for 5 min in boiling water. I chopped the ramps and tossed them, the beans, and the spinach together, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and seasoned with a healthy amount of grated Pecorino-Romano, a pinch of salt, and some freshly ground pepper. It made me very happy! Next week we get our first CSA delivery and I am hoping that these salads will soon be showing up regularly. We paired the salad with some of the roast mustard-garlic chicken we had left over from an earlier meal.
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Monday, April 26, 2010

Dandelion Jelly Update - April 25, 2010

Epic Fail

Dandelions are proving to be more cunning than initially thought. My jelly project turned out to be a complete failure, with none of the jars even coming close to setting. Sadly, the jelly-that-never-was needed to be poured down the sink.

This is where my stubbornness comes into play. I have identified the problem as using the wrong variety of pectin. When I cross checked additional recipes, I found that they all called for powdered pectin, while I used liquid. Luckily, my yard has produced another fresh batch of dandelion flowers and I am in the process of starting over using this recipe. The weeds may have won this battle, but I have every intention of winning the war.

Lessons learned: always double check the type of pectin; never post before a project is successfully completed; and never trust a dandelion.

Stay tuned.
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Friday, April 23, 2010

Dandelion Jelly - April 23, 2010

Work in Progress...

Happy Friday everyone. I had intended to have a complete treat for you today, but I failed to read the step in the recipe that says 'refrigerate overnight.' Regardless, I thought I'd show you what I'm cooking up. I found a recipe for dandelion jelly a few weeks ago from an amazingly lovely blog called 'Yummy Supper.' I have been at war (the organic poisonous chemicals were utilized) with my dandelions the past several years, but this idea made me change my tune. Perhaps it was time to make jelly, not war. That said, I collected at least 365 dandelions from the front yard today, thoroughly cleaned them, and boiled them with water and Meyer lemon juice. I am not kidding you when I say it looks like a bowl of sunshine. This concoction is currently sitting in my refrigerator, just chilling. Tomorrow I plan to add the sugar and pectin and get this jelly where it belongs...on my toast. I'll post pictures of the finished product either this weekend or Monday.

Thanks so much to Yummy Supper for posting such a fun recipe!
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cauliflower Curry - April 21, 2010

Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry with Baby Peas

We made this quick curry last night with a whole head of cauliflower. We also decided to throw in some chickpeas and baby peas from the freezer. We added some canned whole tomatoes and juices to the mix and seasoned with garam masala, Penzey's Maharajah Curry Powder, minced fresh garlic and salt to taste. I pan roasted the cauliflower first to crisp up the edges and then threw in the rest of the ingredients and let everything simmer together for about 15 min. We both thought this had a great flavor. Some homemade naan would have been perfect to accompany, but I still haven't gotten to that project.

Did anyone else watch "Food Inc." on PBS last night? I thought it covered some fascinating topics. It certainly reinforced my commitment to be an informed consumer. We consumers, after all, are a powerful group in this capitalistic society.
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sunchoke and Cabbage Pizza - April 20, 2010

Roasted Sunchoke and Savoy Cabbage Pizza

I had dog-eared this recipe in Food & Wine a few weeks back. It caught my eye because of the sunchokes. Combine one of my favorite veggies in a pizza and mark it as staff favorite, and it's going to get my attention. It was also one of the rare occasions where I followed directions to the letter, with the exception of peeling the sunchokes (too much work and unnecessary for organic produce, in my opinion). Oh, and I used whole milk instead of skim because that is what I have on hand for making yogurt. Other than that I stuck to the recipe, even picking up Emmental cheese to top.

That said, this was a good pizza, but I thought it a bit bland. Nick added hot sauce to his second helping. Next time I might omit the sunchoke puree altogether and simply use olive oil and fresh herbs for the 'sauce' since the roasted sunchokes on top give it plenty of sunchoke-y flavor. I also think the cabbage and onion mix needs to be spiced up a bit. I might suggest caramelizing the onions before throwing in the cabbage to wilt. And, I would replace the vegetable oil with bacon fat, or at least some good flavored olive oil, just something to boost the flavors a bit. With a little tweaking, I think this could be an outstanding combination of ingredients.
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Roast Chicken with Mustard and Garlic - April 18, 2010

Mustard and Garlic Roast Chicken with Beauty Heart Radishes

Sunday evening, Nick made dinner, which is always a treat for me. He did a simple, but delicious roast chicken a la Jacques Pepin. The mustard and garlic gave this a lot of flavor. In addition to being tasty, this is also a quick recipe due to the fact that the chicken gets split down the back and pressed flat before roasting to cut down on time in the oven. For a side we utilized some of our beauty heart radishes. I had mine raw topped with the remainder of our Mt. Tam cheese and Nick roasted his following this recipe. It was a lovely Sunday supper.
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts - April 18, 2010

Cinnamon Sugar Cake Doughnuts

We pulled out the 'GranPappy' again this weekend to try our hand at some basic cake doughnuts (my favorites, although Nick prefers the raised variety). This was the simplest recipe I could find. While we plan on branching out in the future, I wanted to start with plain old run-of-the-mill cake doughnuts without any extra ingredients. I always think it's a good idea to get a firm grasp on one's basics, before trying the fancy stuff. These turned out quite well I thought, especially the two I cut from the second roll-out when the dough contained a little more flour. I cut the recipe in half, which is still a lot of doughnuts for two people! We are going to have to pace ourselves on our doughnut adventures, or perhaps start quartering these recipes.
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Friday, April 16, 2010

Christmas Limas with Avocado and Bacon - April 15, 2010

Christmas Limas, Caramelized Onions, Avocado, Bacon and Mt. Tam Cheese

After an extremely boring week in the kitchen (my apologies Dinner Clubbers), new inspiration finally hit yesterday. I had picked up a bag of Rancho Gordo Christmas Lima Beans at the co-op a couple weeks ago. I was over the moon when I noticed that Linden Hills is now carrying a selection of the heirloom beans. Greg and JJ introduced us to Rancho Gordo a few years back when they were still living in the Bay Area. If you ever get a chance to try some of Rancho Gordo's beans, make sure you do! Anyway, on to dinner...

Rancho Gordo Beans

After cooking the Christmas Limas, which were almost unbelievably tasty on their own, I sauteed a bit (a slice or two) of chopped bacon until it was crispy and had rendered it's fat. I removed it to paper towels and then cooked my sliced onion in the bacon fat until lightly caramelized. Then I piled the beans into bowls, threw in the onions, a cubed fresh avocado, some Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam cheese (another Greg and JJ introduction), and the bacon to top everything off. A drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste finished off the dish.

It. Was. So. Good!

F.Y.I. Dinner Clubbers: Christmas Limas are also known as Chestnut Limas, and they do indeed have a hint of chestnut flavor. I also detected a taste similar to that of red kidney beans. That, combined with a starchy consistency reminiscent of a baked potato, makes these some damn good beans, and a special treat.
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Egg and Mushrooms on Toast - April 14, 2010

Sherried Mushrooms with Poached Egg on Whole Wheat Sourdough

I'm certain I've posted this exact same meal before. As I mentioned, things have become a little boring around here in the kitchen. I made a fresh loaf of whole wheat sourdough yesterday and I don't like to waste an opportunity to use it the same day. So, this was last night's meal, incorporating the bread. A couple of things that excited me included some manchego cheese thrown on the toast prior to the mushrooms and eggs, and, perhaps the most exciting of all...fresh backyard thyme thrown in for seasoning. A visit to the co-op tomorrow might provide me with some fresh inspiration in the form of new produce.
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chipotle Chickpeas and Kale - April 13, 2010

Chipotle Chickpeas and Kale with Manchego Cheese

Last night's dinner was made up on the fly. Chickpeas (pre-cooked and frozen), kale, and onions were sauteed with chipotle chilies, tomato paste, cumin, smoked Spanish paprika and a splash of red wine for good measure. I topped the bowls with shaved manchego to help take the edge off of the heat from the chipotles. It was good, but not very exciting, despite the chilies. The problem, Dinner Clubbers, is that I am quickly growing bored with our winter staples of beans and kale. I am anxious for the Mid-West to catch up, produce-wise, with the rest of the country. In three weeks (and don't think for a minute that I'm not counting the days!) we get our first CSA delivery of the season and I can't wait to inject a little freshness into our diet. I am dreaming of bowls of delicate spring greens and pickled ramps. Until then, we will continue to do the best we can with our winter pantry.
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Indian Tofu Scramble - April 12, 2010

Indian Spiced Broccoli and Tofu Scramble

While perusing the May issue of Food & Wine, I found a recipe for an Indian tofu scramble which sounded delicious (plus it was marked as a staff favorite...always a good sign). It utilizes cauliflower, spinach and scallions...none of which I had. But, I decided to make a version anyway using broccoli in place of the other veggies. I kept the spices the same and fudged the cooking directions when needed to accommodate my changes. It was great! I could have eaten another whole bowl if there would have been any left. Next time I want to try it with the cauliflower and spinach.
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Weekend Morsels - April 10 - 11, 2010

Sunday Breakfast

To start the week, I wanted to post a couple things we ate over the weekend. Sunday's breakfast included a perfectly ripe mango and 'homemade' poppy seed croissants. I still had a bit of the poppy seed filling left over from Easter brunch, so I decided to make some cheater croissants using puff pastry dough and rolling it around the poppy seed filling. They turned out great! I already have plans to do a marzipan version next.

Saturday Salad

We also had some iceberg lettuce left over from last week's 'retro' tacos. Nick loves those iceberg wedge salads that you can get as a side at many steak-house establishments. They served as inspiration for our version with a little homemade avocado buttermilk ranch dressing made from pureeing an avocado with juice from half a lemon, olive oil to get the right consistency, salt, pepper, and Penzey's buttermilk ranch seasoning. The iceberg lettuce was so crisp and juicy. This was a very enjoyable salad.
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Friday, April 09, 2010

White Bean and Bacon Pizza - April 7, 2010

Pizza with White Beans, Bacon, and Rosemary on Naan Crust

Wow, it's been quite a week. I am immensely happy that it is Friday today. Just to be clear, this is not the pizza we ordered last night after struggling for 10 hours learning the intricacies of replacing an original toilet in a 60 year old house. No, Dinner Clubbers, but that was some excellent pizza. This pizza is a recipe from Food & Wine using naan as a cheater crust. Sadly, this is not homemade naan, even though I learned how to make that in the class I took this winter. I will make some eventually, maybe during a week when my toilet doesn't disintegrate. This naan is from Trader Joe's. I thought this a very tasty recipe. The only modifications I made were switching the cheese, using parmesan, and subbing bacon for pancetta, since that was all we had on hand.

I hope you all have great weekends. Next week should be a a bit more normal around here. Until then, Cheers!

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Let's Order Pizza - April 8, 2010

Sorry for lack of post friends...we had to perform emergency toilet replacement today. Everything that could go wrong did. But now, it is done. At least good enough for tonight. Needless to say, we are ordering pizza tonight. I'll be back tomorrow with a real post, I promise.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Retro Beef Tacos - April 6, 2010

Hard Shell Beef Tacos

We decided to have a 'retro dinner' last night. It was one of those meals our generation loved as kids, brought back from the past to be enjoyed as much for it's nostalgia as it's tastiness. Nick mentioned to me a few days ago how much he loved hard taco shells and wondered if we could use some sometime instead of the homemade flour variety that we've been using lately. I happened to see a box of just such shells on the shelf at Trader Joe's on Monday and smiled as I put them in my basket, knowing Nick would be pleased. I cooked the ground beef with some sauteed onions and a host of Penzey's spices* that did a pretty good job of mimicking those taco seasoning packets my Mom used to use. Then, in an effort to recreate the memory as accurately as possible, I shredded cheddar cheese and iceberg lettuce (I can't remember the last time I purchased iceberg lettuce). In addition to the cheese and lettuce, we topped with salsa and guacamole and were instantly transported back to our respective family dinner tables, circa 1985.

*Spices include: cumin; coriander; oregano; epazote; smoked Spanish paprika; chili powder; cayenne; cinnamon; salt; pepper; sugar
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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Weekend Treats - April 3-4, 2010

Weekend Treats

I am playing catch-up today as I've been a bit out of my routine the last few days. Forgive my absence yesterday. I hope everyone had a great weekend, and holiday, if you celebrate that sort of thing. I thought I'd post a couple treats we enjoyed at our house this weekend. The first is 2010's inaugural batch of homemade 'Magic Coffee.' With temperatures soaring into the 80's in Minneapolis last week, my craving for this icy treat was ignited. It was so good, especially with crushed ice. Next up is a pastry I made for brunch. I learned the puff pastry braiding technique here and decided to fill it with marzipan and poppy seed filling in amounts that I just guessed at. It turned out really well, and was eaten too fast for me to snap a picture of the finished product. It's a great technique to have in your repertoire and it could be filled with any sweet or savory concoction under the sun.
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Sauteed Kale over Baked Polenta - April 2, 2010

Sauteed Adobo Kale over Baked Polenta

Here's an extra post since I'm playing catch-up. We had leftover polenta from a meal last week. When that happens, and the creamy polenta turns into a solid mass in the fridge, I like to slice and bake it. We didn't have a huge selection of pantry items with which to top it, but I managed to scrounge up a nice combination including onions, kale, tomato paste, adobo sauce and a splash of red wine. We sauteed these ingredients until the kale was to our desired texture and placed it on top of the polenta. We added a little fresh grated parmesan and it made for a very tasty meal.
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Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Red Fashioned - April 3, 2010

The Red Fashioned

It's another Dinner Club birthday. Today it's Matt's turn. Happy Birthday Matt! In his honor, Nick concocted these cocktails, which we raise(d) in salute of you, Matt! This is our take on the Old Fashioned. For Matt we 'new-fangled' it up.

Recipe - Makes one

1 demerara sugar cube (can sub regular sugar cube)
2 shakes Angostura bitters
1 blood orange slice
1/4 cup Jim Beam Red Stag Black Cherry Infused Bourbon
crushed ice
blood orange slices for garnish

Place sugar cube in bottom of a low ball glass. Add bitters to sugar, a dash of water to help sugar dissolve, and orange slice. Muddle these ingredients together. Add ice to fill glass. Add cherry bourbon and stir gently. Garnish with orange slice.

As a true classic in the best sense, with strong ties to Wisconsin, we thought this a great signature drink for you, Matt. This new version, while just as strong, is extra tasty due to the black cherry flavors in the bourbon and has a subtle nod to your medical interests and school allegiance. We hope you drink one today!

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Friday, April 02, 2010

Rosemary Apricot Thumbprints - April 2, 2010

Rosemary Apricot Thumbprint Cookies

Happy Friday everyone. I made these cookies this week for the Friday dessert post. I found the recipe in April's Better Homes & Gardens. It's your basic shortbread dough with a teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary added to it. If, like me, you love rosemary, you might want to add a little more as the flavor is faint. I loaded the 'thumbprints' with a half teaspoon of apricot preserves. The recipe called for orange marmalade, which I think would be quite tasty, but apricot was what I had so I ran with it. I think raspberry jam would also be delightful. They are super yummy and quite adorable. Check back tomorrow for a special Saturday post. Cheers!
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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Roasted Mushrooms and Shallots over Polenta - March 31, 2010

Roasted Criminis and Shallots over Creamy Chive Polenta

Last night I made a riff on recipes found in April's Food & Wine magazine. Both were listed as sides for an Italian-style steak meal, but I thought they sounded good combined as a main. Of note...those chives were cut from our yard. I am so excited to start grabbing fresh herbs from the yard whenever I want! The polenta recipe I followed to the note, with the exception of using regular polenta instead of instant. Changes to the mushroom recipe include substituting shallots for the red onion, criminis for shitakes, and omitting the gorgonzola all due to pantry limitations. I added a dusting of Pecorino cheese at the end, which didn't totally make up for the missing gorgonzola, but it helped.
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