Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Curry - Feb 20, 2011

Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Green Curry

We made this meal last Sunday, during the crazy February blizzard. My sister Natalie is in town for a few days for work (yay!) and so we've been going out quite a bit, hitting some of her local favorites (ahem, Punch Pizza) that she misses now that she lives in Portland. After many restaurant meals, Sunday seemed like a good night to have a family style meal at home while we stayed cozy and warm. For this curry, I used JJ's recipe for salmon curry, but instead of salmon and potatoes, I used cauliflower and sweet potatoes. We served it over big bowls of fragrant jasmine rice and topped with some expertly chopped cashews. It was warm and comforting, with just a hint of spice and lots of fish sauce. It kept us nice and toasty while we were out shovelling an obscene amount of snow off the driveway later that night.
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fusilli with Clams and White Wine Sauce - Feb 14, 2011

Fusilli Pasta with Littleneck Clams and Tomato-White Wine Sauce

This was Valentine's Day's main course, although in all honesty, after that big bowl of delicious French onion soup, I could hardly eat any of this because I was so full. As most of you know, Nick is a big fan of seafood, and because we live in a land-locked* state with limited sea access, we rarely prepare it. We do, however, tend to pull it out on special occasions and celebrations. Nick found a few different recipe suggestions and I took one and used it as a rough outline. I purchased the littleneck clams in addition to some chopped clam meat at the store. And, while working my way to the check out, I spied this fun long fusilli in the pasta aisle. Even though the recipe called for linguini, I thought this might work better to catch and hold all the tasty bits in the sauce. To prepare the recipe, I simply followed directions, but omitted the Pernod and scallions, because we didn't have any, and added the chopped clam meat to boost the clam flavor. It was quite tasty, even re-heated a couple days later.

*Technically Minnesota has the fresh water port of Duluth, which is, in fact, connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the St. Lawrence Seaway. While, as a Minnesotan, I'm proud of this fact and often tout the benefits of living on America's 'North Coast,' this still doesn't help us significantly with access to fresh-off-the-boat seafood. It may, however, help you at your next trivia night.
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Monday, February 21, 2011

French Onion Soup - Feb 14, 2011

French Onion Soup for Two

This was our Valentine's Day first course. Nick perused the highlighted Valentine's recipes on Epicurious last weekend to get some inspiration and when he read this one to me I was sold. I love French onion soup. It's easy to make, tastes delicious, and is perfect for a chilly winter night. I already had nearly everything I needed, with the exception of Gruyere cheese and a baguette. Since it was a special meal on a special day, I also splurged and bought some fresh thyme instead of just using my dried spices. The soup was incredibly flavorful and my favorite part of the recipe was that it was already calibrated for two servings, so I had no need to make adjustments, nor did I need to worry about storing leftovers. It's the little details that make me happy. I have no doubt that this soup will be in heavy rotation here at our house for the remainder of the winter. And, after the last 15 inches of snow Minneapolis got yesterday and today, winter might be here for awhile!
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cucumber, Apple and Mascarpone Sandwiches - Feb 11, 2011

Open Faced Cucumber and Apple Sandwiches with Mascarpone

I had a busy Friday, running errands, spending a lot of time in the kitchen baking certain birthday treats, and preparing for some dinner guests we hosted on Saturday. Because of that, by the time dinner rolled around I had very little ambition to cook. Luckily we had a very tasty loaf of apple cinnamon walnut bread on hand, which I had brought home from work earlier in the week. I spread a couple of slices with some creamy mascarpone cheese and added thin slices of cucumber and apple on top. A pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper and dinner was served.
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Ground Turkey and Sweet Potato Burritos - Feb 9, 2011

Sweet Potato Burrito with Ground Turkey, Cotija Cheese and Avocado

I've made nary a dent in our massive sweet potato supply so far this winter. This meal, however, made use of one of them. After cutting the potato into half inch cubes, I roasted them in a 450 degree oven. While this was going on, I cooked up some ground turkey that I had on hand, tossing in some onion and leftover bulgar for good measure. I added some seasonings including coriander, cumin, oregano, and a pinch of cinnamon to bring out the sweetness in the potatoes. Then, at the very end, I put in some cotija cheese. When the sweet potatoes were done, I combined everything together and served on whole wheat tortillas with some creamy avocado to garnish.
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Warm WInter Salad with Bulgar and Apples - Feb 7, 2011

Bulgar Wheat with Apples, Onions, Walnuts and Kale

This meal was hearty and tasty, perfect for a really, really cold day. I prepared my bulgar first, letting it steep while I made the rest of the salad. After chopping the onion and apple, I sauteed them, onions first, in a skillet. Towards the end, when everything was getting soft, but before I had onion flavored applesauce, I tossed in some chopped kale and a handful of walnuts. Once the kale was wilted, I added in the bulgar and mixed everything together gently to combine and warm. We seasoned this with some salt and pepper and enjoyed a cozy evening.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sauteed White Beans with Garlic and Rosemary - Feb 3, 2011

Cannellini Beans with Kale, Garlic and Rosemary

This is one of our favorite quick dinners. I've posted it before, probably more than once. The recipe is out of 'How to Eat Supper.' We changed it up a little this time by using kale instead of the spinach called for. We also used a really grainy bread to make the toasted bread crumbs, so it had some extra body. And, a little bonus...the rosemary is from Portland. I snagged a bunch from a friend's shrub while I was out there. I love that it just grows like a weed in that climate. It was a perfect little souvenir.
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Pork and Sunchokes - Jan 25, 2011

Winter Roasted Pork with Sauteed Sunchokes and Kale

I know I've been absent the past few days. Let's chalk it up to licking my wounds after the Steeler loss in the Super Bowl. A hearty congratulations to all you Packer fans out there, especially the ones I count among my family and friends. You know who you are. Your boys really brought it home and you should rightfully be very proud of them. If we had to lose, I'm glad it was to the Packers (even though I'm fighting back tears as I type this). Alright, now I need to shake it off and get back on track to tell you about one remaining meal leftover from last month. This is the last of the L'Etoile pork, served alongside some sauteed sunchokes and wilted kale. It was a deliciously seasonal meal and helped clean out our fridge prior to our respective trips to Portland (me) and Whistler (Nick).

This should be the last of the January eats around our house. Starting tomorrow, I'll bring you a little of what's been going on in the kitchen in February. Oh, and since I brought up the low point of my weekend, I should quickly share with you the highlight. Nick and I checked out the City of Lakes Luminary Loppet on Saturday night. It was incredible. Lake of the Isles was lit up like a winter fairy land. It was nothing short of magical and it made me so happy to be a Minneapolitan.
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Friday, February 04, 2011

Bring it on Down to Burgerville

My Original Cheeseburger Basket with Seasonal Yukon Gold Criss-Cut Fries

Another place I like to visit when I'm in the Portland area is Burgerville. (Don't you immediately hear Justin Timberlake singing that catchy little jingle from SNL? But with 'Omletteville' replaced by 'Burgerville.') Burgerville is the kind of fast food restaurant one might expect to find in Portland (or Portlandia). You can get a cheeseburger and fries, but the beef is sustainable, and the cheese is from Tillamook, and the fries are seasonal Yukon Gold Criss-Cut fries. When they're in season, you can even get Walla Walla onion rings, or sweet potato fries. Oh, and once you've finished eating, you put your wrappers and paper cups into the compost, instead of the trash. Burgerville even recycles cooking oil into biofuel. You get the idea. It's like the cult craze known as In-N-Out Burger in California (which I also love!), but with a definite Portland spin. And it's good. Very good.

Hazelnut and Chocolate Shake

Perhaps my favorite reason to visit Burgerville is the seasonal shake. This one is the chocolate hazelnut, made with hazelnut meal from growers just down the road from the restaurant in Cornelius, OR. Last time I visited, the shake flavor was blackberry. Yeah, blackberry, all of which were grown in Oregon, of course. Love it.
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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Uwajimaya Market

I am freshly returned from a little excursion to Portland, OR to visit sisters and friends. It was a great trip and we did many fun and memorable things. One day was devoted exclusively to shopping ethnic markets, my favorite being Uwajimaya Market in Beaverton. Kate, Natalie and I spent hours here, and upon leaving I felt as though I'd just been on a whirlwind tour of Asia.

Tropical Fruits

Some highlights include these colorful and exotic fruits. I can identify three of four starting with mangosteens in the top right corner, rambutan in the bottom left, and dragon fruit in the bottom right. It was amazing to find these here. If I'm not mistaken, it's only been in the last year or two that mangosteens are even able to be imported to the States. I felt like I was back at a big open air market in Bangkok, except it smelled better inside Uwajimaya.

Interesting Bottles and Cans

We stumbled across these interesting finds including the bottled ginseng root and a very eye catching clear can of soda.

Rice Wine

Shelves and shelves of colorfully labeled rice wines were delightful.

Lucky Cats

Lucky cats in every color and size, just in time for Chinese New Year.

Red Snapper...

...I think, but lovely nonetheless. Notice the clear eyes denoting freshness.

Cock Brand Tapioca Balls

This is a little Dinner Club inside joke, that isn't too difficult to figure out. We bought these and fat straws to make bubble tea at home. As we like to say in Dinner Club, it's better with balls.

It was a fantastic adventure and I'm envious of you Portlanders (and you Seattlites) who have this amazing store at your disposal, with all it's exotic treats and inspiring supplies. We went home and made some delicious miang kam, red curry and bubble tea for dessert.
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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Blueberry Pie - Jan 25, 2011

Blueberry Pie

I baked this last weekend because it's high time to start using up some of the fruit I picked over the summer. We don't have a deep freezer, so I start to worry about the quality of our frozen items after six months or so. Also, it's a fun trick to pull out summer berries to bake a pie on one of the coldest days of the winter. It's quite satisfying to be able to one-up Mother Nature every once in awhile.

I used a recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens Baking Book. I did change up the crust recipe a bit, using a combination of butter and lard instead of the shortening called for. My shortening was dated 'best by' sometime in 2006, so I thought it best to toss it and use something else. The crust ended up far exceeding my expectations. It was relatively flaky, not tough, and stayed crusty for the next few days. I despise a mushy crust. It totally ruins it for me. The filling was excellent as well. I worried that it wouldn't be sweet enough because the berries were pretty tart, but it ended up being just perfect and not overly sweet like some diner pies can be. The hints of lemon zest and juice come through nicely and it set up firmly after it cooled, so again my finicky texture palate was satisfied. Nick was of course, in pie heaven.
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