Monday, January 31, 2011

Garbanzo and Pork Stew - Jan 24, 2011

Garbanzo, Broccoli and Pork Stew

This meal used up some of our leftover L'Etoile pork roast from last week. We used a recipe from 101 Cookbooks and built on it. It seems a bit sacrilegious to start adding meat into vegetarian recipes, but I don't let anything stand in my way when I have leftovers to use up. We also used broccoli instead of cauliflower, but other than that, we followed directions and behaved. The end result was quite delicious and relatively healthy. I finished the bowls with some orange infused olive oil and smoked hickory salt, which was a gift from Ben and Ellen and we LOVE! It's been finding it's way onto everything around here, but my favorite is to sprinkle it on popcorn because it's the perfect medium to taste the delicious smokey flavor. Mmm, little luxuries make me happy.
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Bacon Bourbon - Jan 21, 2011

The Rise and Shine

Last week I made mention of a project in the works involving bacon fat. Well, this was it. Nick had borrowed a book from the library called 'Cooking for Geeks' a couple weeks ago (and there's a blog). Now, you Dinner Clubbers can pretty well guess that would be a book we would find appealing. Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I would actually consider myself to fall more into the 'dork' category, but of course there's overlap. Basically, if I can mix together chemistry, cooking, and the Scientific Method I'm a happy camper. Needless to say, I was delighted to find a section in the book devoted to 'fat washing.' Fat washing was a new term to me, and it was described in the book as a way of using fat to remove undesirable molecules from alcohol as a means of refining or distilling, if you will. A fun way to apply this in the home kitchen is to use fat washing to infuse oil soluble compounds into alcohol. The book suggests bacon infused bourbon (yes please!) and butter infused rum.

Now, I have been pondering exactly how to make a bacon infused beverage for some time but have never been quite sure how to go about it. That is, until now. Thanks to this handy-dandy new technique I've added to my repertoire, the possibilities are endless. I decided to start with the aforementioned bacon bourbon and I added a bacon vodka into the mix as well.

'Fat Washing'

I used the ratio of 2 tsp of filtered bacon fat per 1 cup of alcohol recommended in the book. I let the mix sit out on the counter for 24 -48 hours, then popped the jars in the freezer for a couple hours to make sure all the fat was solidified. Then I simply used a coffee filter and strained the fat out of the alcohol. I find that my little melita coffee funnel works perfectly for this task. Now all I had to to was mix up a tasty cocktail and test the effectiveness of this experiment.

The Rise and Shine:

1/4 C bacon infused bourbon
1 Tbsp maple syrup
dash of orange bitters
soda water
crushed ice

Shake first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
Strain into a low ball glass filled with crushed ice.
Top with soda water.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Roast Pork Shoulder with Fennel Salad - Jan 20, 2011

Roast Pork Shoulder with Fennel and Grapefruit Salad

Some of you might remember that I excitedly mentioned the article in February's Food & Wine on L'Etoile last week. This meal is comprised of recipes from that article, straight from my beloved Madison eatery! Since I had to work, I opted to change up the pork recipe slightly so that I could cook it in the crock pot during the day. I skipped the overnight brining, switched the cut from a loin to a shoulder, and omitted some of the liquid. I did, however, stay true to the fantastic mix of spices, including star anise, fennel, coriander, cloves, allspice, and juniper berries. The end result turned out deliciously, despite all my changes. The fennel salad was a perfect accompaniment, with the fresh fennel echoing the fennel seeds used to spice the meat. Nick and I made this following the recipe exactly. I can't tell you how fun it was to cook up a little piece of Madison, right in our own kitchen.
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Turkey Laap with Sticky Rice - Jan 19, 2011

Ground Turkey Laap, Larb, Laab

This recipe appeared in the February issue of Food & Wine magazine in an article they did on the cuisine of Laos. I was excited because we were introduced to a very similar dish when we were in Thailand a couple of years ago. The Thais call this laab, or larb, but apparently it is known as laap in Laos. I followed the recipe closely, but had to omit the fresh mint since the co-op isn't currently stocking it. I substituted with extra cilantro and the result was very tasty despite the omission. To complete the meal, I even steamed up some sticky rice to serve along side the laap. It was truly delicious and quite simple to make on a weeknight, with the exception of the sticky rice, but one could easily substitute jasmine rice to make the preparation a little easier. The flavor packed into these simple Southeast Asian dishes never ceases to amaze me. I would highly recommend giving this a try.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies - Jan 18, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love cookies. They are a weakness of mine. I have a hard time refraining from eating five in one sitting. Needless to say, when I bake them, they go fast. This particular batch was inspired by some cookies at a local bakery. I used a recipe from my Foster's Market Cookbook and they turned out pretty well, although a little crispier than I'd hoped. I really love a good chewy center and these didn't quite measure up. Not that I had any trouble eating my fair share. Next time I think I will find a recipe with a bigger peanut butter to flour ratio. Although 'next time' is going to have to be a ways down the road for the sake of my girlish figure!
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Monday, January 24, 2011

Cheesy Bean Enchiladas - Jan 17, 2011

Enchiladas with Avocado

I made a half batch of these enchiladas last week and as always, they were very tasty. This is a recipe we inherited from JJ many years ago in a homemade recipe book that we still consult often. It's a simple concoction of beans, onions and spices for the filling, wrapped in tortillas and set in a baking dish. JJ recommends Hatch enchilada sauce and so that's what I usually use, in it's 'mild' rendition. Then you just need to top the whole thing with cheese and bake for 20 minutes. It's quick and it's good, especially with a creamy avocado served on the side.

Congratulation to the Packers and the Steelers! This is going to be a great Superbowl!
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Sunchoke and Cauliflower Hash - Jan 14, 2011

Roasted Sunchokes and Cauliflower with Bacon and Orange Zest

And my love affair with sunchokes (and cauliflower) continues. Nick and I whipped this meal up over the weekend. We cooked 2 strips of bacon first and reserved the fat for another project that I will write about soon. After removing the bacon from the pan, we added some onions. Once these were translucent, I added in the cauliflower and sunchokes in two batches so that we would get nicely crispy, browned edges instead of steamed veggies. We mixed everything together and seasoned with salt, pepper and some freshly grated orange zest. This was quite delicious and very easy, which was good since we spent the better part of the day with our butts planted on the couch watching football (after a lovely cross country ski outing in the morning). I am so excited that my beloved Steelers have moved on, as well as those talented Packers. I have not-so-secret hopes of the two meeting in the Superbowl this year. We will have to wait and see how the games turn out this weekend. I hope your team wins (as long as it's not the Jets)!
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spiced Lentils with Mushrooms and Greens - Jan 10, 2011

Spiced Lentils with Mushrooms and Greens

This recipe is from February's Food & Wine, which incidently Dinner Clubbers, has a full spread on our favorite Madison eatery, L'Etoile, complete with pictures on lovely Lake Mendota and many tasty recipes from Chef Tory Miller. I squealed in delight upon seeing it! Nick will verify that in case any of you doubt me. It's awesome and I'm so happy to see some glossy-paged culinary magazine love going out to my favorite little Midwest college town.

Okay, back to the dish at hand. This is not one of the L'Etoile recipes, but I still had high hopes because it was designated as a staff favorite. It was good, but not knock-my-socks off good. It's basically just lentil soup with the addition of mushrooms. Calling it 'spiced' is a stretch, since I felt it could have used significantly more cumin and coriander than it called for. Also, I'm a bit confused because the photo in the magazine makes this look like a fairly dry bowl of lentils, but I even cut back on the water called for and mine turned out like a soup, which is fine, just different than expected. So, if you go pick up a copy of this month's F&W, and you definitely should, you can skip this recipe and flip right to the L'Etoile article.
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2011 is the year of good food: Jerk Chicken & Watermelon Cucumber Salad

Ok, Jaime here jumping into the blogging game. I've loved reading Jess and Nick's contributions and keep thinking I need to at least try to participate.

2010 was the year of eating again after a nightmare couple years of surgeries and digestive problems that lead me reliant on IV nutrition for a period; and 2011 is going to be the year of relearning how to enjoy great food again! My dishes aren't necessarily gourmet or what would typically considered to be healthy (my prescribed short-bowel diet is high carb, high protein, high salt, moderate fat, and low sugar) and though I try to use local and in-season food when I can, this first dish I'm posting about is definitely not that! I'm all about enjoying food... I don't take a single bite for granted anymore.

So, here is a meal I made over the weekend that was pretty yummy. I took a picture too on my iPhone and will try to upload that as well (is there an easy way to do that? if I could just blog directly from my phone then I'd be on here all the time!).

It was a cold and cloudy day and I've been dreaming about tropical weather. I also just picked up a new Martha Stewart Every Day Food cookbook at Costco and had Richie mark some recipes he would like me to try. He picked a bunch and I decided a good one to start with was Jerk Chicken with Watermelon and Cucumber salad. We didn't have any scallions on hand, so I used a regular onion. Next time I might ramp up the heat by using two jalapenos and try to marinate it longer. It had nice flavor, but could have been more intense.

The Martha Stewart cookbook is actually surprisingly really good. I have the other one they did too and it has a bunch of recipes we really like (and some that are duds). The pictures are great inspiration! I like finding recipes online, but books with nice photos are helpful when I don't have any good ideas. Tonight I'm attempting the recipe for the greek casserole pastitsio. We had a vegan version of it over the holidays at a friend's house and it was.... well, interesting. I'm hoping my meaty version comes close to the authentic one Richie is remembering.

Stir-Fried Winter Greens with Tofu - Jan 5, 2011

Stir-Fried Winter Greens with Tofu

Look at this lovely bowl. This recipe is compliments of January's Bon Appetit where it can be found titled, 'Stir-Fried Bok Choy and Mizuna with Tofu.' I did use baby bok choy, but I replaced the mizuna with some kale and cabbage that I had from some of our late CSA deliveries. The substitutions worked quite well and we enjoyed our meal especially due to the aromatic ginger and toasted sesame oil, always a good combination.
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sunchoke and Wild Rice Hash - Jan 3, 2011

Sunchoke and Wild Rice Hash with Rosemary

Mmmm, some of my favorite local winter delicacies are highlighted in this dish. You Dinner Clubbers know how much I adore sunchokes and their crunchy, nutty sweetness. Sauteed sunchokes paired with some good old Minnesota grown wild rice, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts and some fresh rosemary makes me very happy. I seasoned this with some orange infused olive oil, salt and pepper. This dish is satisfying in a way that goes deeper than my stomach, all the way to my soul...Minnesota soul food, if you will.
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Friday, January 14, 2011

Cheesy Chicken Tortilla Casserole - Jan 1, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Nick and I were hungry for some comfort food to start off the year and this casserole fit the bill. I found the recipe in the well worn pages of my Cooking Light Cookbook. It's great for inspiration and of course, I always substitute back in the full fat version of whatever they've lightened so everything is extra rich and decadent. This made for a cozy night as we braced ourselves against frigid January in Minnesota.
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New Year's Champagne Cocktail - Jan 1, 2011

West Indian Orange Champagne Cocktail

No, it has not taken me the better part of two weeks to recover from drinking too many of these on New Year's Eve. I can only explain my absence from this blog for all of 2011 as laziness, combined with some computer malfunctions. Nick (my number one IT guy) seems to have things back up and running, so I thought it was high time I posted our New Year's cocktail. We used these delicious West Indian Orange bitters that Natalie and Jamie sent us for Christmas (finally available in Minneapolis at Surdyk's!) and made these fun bubbly cocktails. They are simple as pie, too. Just toss a sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne flute, throw a dash or two of orange bitters on it, fill the remainder of the glass with something sparkly, and garnish with orange zest.

We've also been using our orange bitters to make lovely Old Fashioneds and fun gin and vodka tonics using some of our stash of infused spirits (Orange-Ginger Vodka from my mom and Earl Grey Gin that I whipped up). So yummy! I hope 2011 is off to a good start for you all. My goal is to be back to my regular blogging schedule starting next week.

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