Friday, January 18, 2013

Carrot Soup with Toasted Almonds - Dec 6, 2012

Another recipe from "Sixty-Five Years of Gourmet," this carrot soup made good use of some of our many, many CSA carrots.  Nick and I still have a whole drawer full of carrots to use up this winter, compliments of our abundant CSA share.  This soup was good, boosted in flavor by curry powder and apple cider vinegar.  In addition to the toasted almonds, I garnished this soup with sour cream and thyme leaves.

And, see that glass of dark beer in the background?  That is homemade Imperial Rye Stout, made by Nick and our brother-in-law, Jamie, earlier this year.  Those two brewed ten gallons of this in Jamie's driveway, using an all grain set-up, this fall.  It's fantastic beer, and I want Nick to fill you in on the details.  He's really been getting into this beer brewing thing, despite not being into this blog posting thing.  Perhaps with some gentle prodding, we can get him to share.  That's right, I'm going to try blog peer pressure, since my requests have fallen on deaf ears.  We want more (posts about) beer!
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

GG's Tea Party - Nov 23, 2012

Chicken Mandarin Orange Spread Sandwiches

This is slightly out of order, but since I'm still playing catch up from two months ago, I'm not too worried about it.  These pictures are from a birthday party for Nick's Grandma, known affectionately as GG, held the day after Thanksgiving.  GG turned 90 this year and we celebrated in style.

Cucumber-Salmon-Watercress Sandwiches
Specifically, we had an afternoon tea party where hats, of any kind, were required.  Nick and I were in charge of organizing the finger sandwiches for the party.  Nan wanted four different kinds, one of them being a pimento cheese sandwich, because it's not a Southern tea party without the pimento cheese sandwiches.

Pimento Cheese Sandwiches
Nick and I picked out three other recipes from this list.  A grocery list was compiled between Nick and me in Minnesota, and Chip and Nan in South Carolina.  Some math was required, but Nick and Chip are good guys to have on your team when that happens.  We got the numbers figured out without incident.  Nick's parents did the shopping, plus pimento cheese making, and Nick and I did the prep work (making the chicken and salmon salads, plus the compound butter for the ham sandwiches) Thursday evening, once the Thanksgiving feast had been cleared from the kitchen.

Party Ham Sandwiches

Then, bright and early Friday morning, a whole crew of family and friends gathered around the kitchen island. Uncles worked next to nephews, sisters worked next to brothers, fathers-in-law worked next to cousins, nieces worked next to girlfriends, and everybody pitched in to make hundreds of tiny tea sandwiches in record time.  We had so much help, in fact, that I had nothing to do besides answer the random question and stand back and admire the flurry of activity, as inside jokes and friendly barbs flew back and forth across the counter.  The rookies were included into the fold as though they had always been there, and the whole, wild and crazy assortment of family members became a happy, and quite efficient, team.   It was my favorite moment of the whole weekend.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Spiced Beef Corn Bread Cobbler - Dec 5, 2012

I found this recipe while flipping through our "Sixty-Five Years of Gourmet" cookbook from Chip and Nan.  The book describes this as a "sloppy Joe with a corn bread and cheddar crust."

It was better than that. 

It came together quickly and all the ingredients are pantry staples at our house.  The spices are a mix of all those warm spices I crave this time of year: cinnamon; cayenne; allspice; and ginger.  Adding the cheesy biscuits on top is genius (and I think would be nearly as good with regular biscuits if corn must be avoided).  This also meets the "my Dad would eat this" criteria.
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Stuffing with Roasted Winter Squash - Nov 28, 2012

The other downside to never hosting Thanksgiving is that we never have those wonderful leftovers stocking our refrigerator.  The Thanksgiving stuffing is my favorite.  Nick's dad makes great stuffing, but my favorite is the stuffing I grew up with.  I should probably get that recipe from my Mom at some point. 

This was my attempt at recreating my childhood food memory.  I think I may have used a Mark Bittman recipe, but I'm sure that I made enough tweaks to it that he wouldn't recognize it as his.  I know I added a lot more chicken broth than the recipe called for, but my end result was still too dry. 

Yes, I must make it a priority to get Mom's recipe. 

Along with our slightly dry stuffing, I roasted a little winter squash, which Nick and I split between the two of us.  I made it in the pressure cooker, my new favorite way to cook squash (10 minutes!).  Even sub-par stuffing is delicious.
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter Greens Gratin - Nov 27, 2012

Since Nick and I usually travel for Thanksgiving, I tend to spend the following week cooking things that I would have made for dinner, had I been cooking it.  This recipe caught my eye in the December 2012 issue of Bon Appetit (which I thought was a great issue).  I made it with a motley assortment of greens from our CSA farm and it turned out deliciously.  It was a great use for all those hearty winter greens that show up in our box, that I'm not always sure what to do with.  Thanks to this recipe, I won't have that problem anymore.  This is a rich and satisfying meatless main dish, no turkey needed!
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Friday, January 11, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Hors d'Oeurvers - November 16, 2012

Nick and I never host Thanksgiving.  We usually spend that holiday with Nick's parents, who, quite frankly, can cook the pants off of Thanksgiving dinner.  The one downside is that we rarely get to prepare any of those fun Thanksgiving foods.  I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I've never cooked a turkey in my life.  Luckily, this year my sister and brother in law hosted a little pre-Thanksgiving happy hour at their new home, aptly coined "Dranksgiving."  Natalie said I could bring some appetizers to share.

I decided to make single serving pumpkin pies (and bacon-wrapped Brussels sprouts, but I didn't snap a photo of those).  After searching around a bit to find the proper method, I ended up making these in muffin tins.  I used my traditional pie crust recipe, listed below, and the pumpkin pie filling recipe from my "Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book."  Aside from being very tedious, these were just like making a normal sized pumpkin pie.  I did have to keep a close eye on them while baking, because I wasn't sure how long they would take.  As you can see, the middles totally caved in, which may have been due to mis-calculating said baking time.  It was nothing, however, that a little home-made whipped cream couldn't hide.

This was a fun afternoon project, but the real fun came at Dranksgiving, our kick-off to the holiday season.  I hope Nat and Jamie make it an annual event!

Double Crust Pie Pastry

2 Cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 Cup unsalted butter (cold)
1/3 Cup lard (cold)
6-7 Tbsp cold water

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the salt and flour.  Add butter and lard and pulse until you have pea-sized pieces.  Add one Tbsp of cold water at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the dough is just moistened (it should still be very crumbly).  Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and form into two equally sized balls.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for 20-30 minutes.  Roll out as needed for your pie recipe.

For more mini-pie inspiration see here, and here
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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Chickpea and Tomato Stew - Nov 15, 2012

Chickpea and tomato stew, or, a very Americanized version of Chana Masala, if you will.  Nick and I like to follow up our meat-centric meals with a little vegetarian love.  It helps us feel balanced and not overly indulgent.  Our digestive systems thank us, as well.  After that Kima curry, however, I was still craving a bowl of warm, spicy, hearty something over rice.  This is what I came up with.  I searched around a bit online until I found a recipe that sounded good to me, while accommodating what we had stocked in the pantry.  Of course, two months later I can't for the life of me find the one I used.  It's one of the many hazards of delinquent posting, I guess.

It appears to be onions, my home-canned tomatoes, chickpeas, and some fresh green herb (Cilantro?  Parsley? Your guess is as good as mine.), combined with garlic, ginger, and some warm Indian spices (Curry powder? Cinnamon? Tumeric? Garam Masala? I can't rightly say.), and served over the aforementioned bowl of Jasmine rice.  For my own future reference, here are some recipes involving similar ingredients:

Chana Masala from Smitten Kitchen
Chickpea Tomato Stew with Moroccan Flavors from epicurious
Chickpea Tomato Curry from Chowhound*

*this seems closest to the one I used.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Kima Curry - Nov 14, 2012

This is another one of our treasured recipes from JJ, my sister-in-law, an amazing cook, and someone that always inspires me.  According to JJ, Kima Curry is a Kenyan ground beef curry.  According to me it is an amazingly flavorful dish to make with a pound of ground beef, a can of tomatoes, and some rice.  My Mom made countless meals with those same three mid-western kitchen staples when I was growing up.  I think they could be considered the busy mom's go-to ingredients for a quick weeknight dinner, able to be combined in a myriad of ways.  Well, this rendition is now firmly on my list.  I love that the addition of a few herbs and spices makes these familiar ingredients come together in a new and interesting way.   The recipe is from the cookbook, "Extending the Table," and can be found online here.  Nick and I both really enjoyed it, and this dinner also meets my "My Dad would eat this" criteria, meaning that I could make this for dinner on a night that he joins us and he (a notoriously picky eater) wouldn't go hungry.
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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

What the Pho? - Nov 8, 2012

How sad that I'm posting a dinner from a full two months ago.  Oh well, I'm sure you all know how busy things get around the holidays.  Better late than never, I say.  This is the Vietnamese dish known as pho.  Nick and I make ours from the recipe in "The Splendid Table's How to Cook Supper," by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift.  The cookbook was a gift from my sister, Kate, a couple Christmases ago.  I utilize the recipe for the Cheaters' Asian Broth all the time, but rarely do we go all out with the whole pho recipe.  It's excellent, especially when feeling a little under the weather.  I hear it's a brutal flu season this year, so keep this one within easy reach. 
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