Friday, May 15, 2009

Two Buns....

Monday, August 4, 2008

2 Buns, 1 Oven

I apologize for my complete absence. But I have some pretty good reasons. First, we finally moved into our new place a few months ago only to have some minor issues arise where we had to move back out of our new place for more than a month. We are, thankfully, finally settled into our fabulous new digs in the River Market and loving it.

Second, as strange as it sounds, I just have not had a good relationship with food lately. For about three months, all I could do was sleep. I was exhausted beyond belief and couldn't even think about cooking. We had a lot of takeout. I was better for about a month, but only wanted to eat mac n' cheese, spaghetti with tomato sauce or hot dogs...basically kid food. Now I'm dealing with acid reflux and barely keeping food down. So, again, food is just not my top priority.

But it is all good because I have not one, but two, buns in the oven. We are over the moon and can't wait for our little holiday bundles to arrive.

I will leave you with the best, if only, thing I have made all summer. This is truly the best brisket I've ever had. Everyone raved over it. Although it does take a few hours, it is fairly simple.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

This will be worth the wait....

I apologize for my absence. I have no excuse, except that I have permanently misplaced my camera...a good excuse to upgrade, I guess. I promise you that this recipe (sans photo) will be worth the wait. If you need to see a photo, please look at the bon appetit photo. This is the dish of the year from the January issue. The minute I saw the photo, I knew we would be trying it soon.

In the reviews, a lot of people said they used green or red curry paste instead of the yellow...I wouldn't do that. I found yellow curry paste at the China Market at the corner of 3rd and Grand in the River Market and the flavor is amazing. I don't like hot -- at all -- and I loved this. It is spicy without being hot and the pepper fans can add the Thai bird chiles at the end. The only change I made is doubling the amount of chicken. I will make this again and again. We're having more soup tonight over Jasmine rice.

spicy curry noodle soup with chicken and sweet potato
Bon Appétit January 2008
Mai Pham
Servings: Makes 6 servings
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons chopped shallots
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons minced lemongrass* (from bottom 4 inches of about 3 stalks, tough outer leaves discarded)
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons Thai yellow curry paste*
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)*
2 13.5- to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk,* divided
5 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)*
2 teaspoons sugar
3 cups snow peas, trimmed
2 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled red-skinned sweet potato (yam; from about 1 large)
1 pound dried rice vermicelli noodles or rice stick noodles*
3/4 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 red Thai bird chiles or 2 red jalapeño chiles, thinly sliced with seeds
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add next 4 ingredients; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in curry paste, curry powder, and chili paste. Add 1/2 cup coconut milk (scooped from thick liquid at top of can). Stir until thick and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add remaining coconut milk, broth, fish sauce, and sugar; bring broth to boil. Keep warm.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate until cold, then cover and keep chilled.

Cook snow peas in large pot of boiling salted water until bright green, about 20 seconds. Using strainer, remove peas from pot; rinse under cold water to cool. Place peas in medium bowl. Bring water in same pot back to boil. Add sweet potato and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Using strainer, remove sweet potato from pot and rinse under cold water to cool. Place in small bowl. Bring water in same pot back to boil and cook noodles until just tender but still firm to bite, about 6 minutes. Drain; rinse under cold water to cool. Transfer to microwave-safe bowl.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 hour ahead. Let stand at room temperature.Bring broth to simmer.

Add chicken; simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add sweet potato; stir to heat through, about 1 minute. Heat noodles in microwave in 30-second intervals to rewarm. Cut noodles with scissors if too long. Divide noodles among bowls. Divide snow peas and hot soup among bowls. Scatter red onion, green onions, cilantro, and chiles over soup. Garnish with lime wedges and serve.

*Available at some supermarkets, at specialty foods stores and Asian markets, and online from

Thursday, November 8, 2007

More soup...

This is a great leak and potato soup recipe. I purchased all of the ingredients I wanted to utilize -- leeks, onions, garlic, potatoes (of course) and then began searching for inspiration. Emeril saves the day.

We were in New Orleans a couple of years ago and had dinner at two of his restaurants, NOLA in the French Quarter and Delmonico. Both were truly entertaining and lovely. I rarely use FoodTV recipes, but this was a home run. We had half for dinner and the rest is in the freezer just waiting for a rainy day...

The secret here is the bouquet garni (and the Carollo's bacon), I hope the pictures do this justice. I use a stick blender to puree everything, it is easier than a stand up blender or food processor to me...especially with the hot ingredients.

Potato and Leek Soup
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2003

1 large or 2 small leeks, about 1 pound
2 bay leaves
20 black peppercorns
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons butter
2 strips bacon, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock
1 to 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
2 tablespoons snipped chives

Trim the green portions of the leek and, using 2 of the largest and longest leaves, make a bouquet garni by folding the 2 leaves around the bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme. Tie into a package-shaped bundle with kitchen twine and set aside. (Alternately, tie 2 leek leaves, bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme together in a piece of cheesecloth.)

Using a sharp knife, halve the white part of the leek lengthwise and rinse well under cold running water to rid the leek of any sand. Slice thinly crosswise and set aside.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the bacon. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is very soft and has rendered most of its fat. Add the chopped leeks and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil.

Add the reserved bouquet garni, chicken stock, potatoes, salt and white pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are falling apart and the soup is very flavorful.

Remove the bouquet garni and, working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor or blender. (Alternately, if you own an immersion blender, puree the soup directly in the pot.)

Stir in the creme fraiche and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Serve immediately, with some of the snipped chives sprinkled over the top of each bowl of soup.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The new apple of my eye...

I have a favorite apple. It is the only apple I will purchase or eat. I did not think there was a better apple than the Pink Lady. Crisp, sweet, always reliable. So many apples are starchy and mushy and not very sweet, but the Pink Lady rises above. About a month ago, the Pink Lady disappeared. I was lost, eating pears and plums, missing my apples.

Last week I noticed a new variety, something I'd never seen before and with an intriguing name...Ginger Gold. Just the idea of a ginger flavored apple excited me, so I brought a few home. Delicious. Upon research, it appears the apple is actually named after a woman, not because it tastes like ginger. Regardless, I had an inspiration.

There had to be a great recipe somewhere for an apple crisp recipe with ginger. Lots of ginger. I found this recipe at KQED's web site and it looked perfect. Fresh ginger and crystallized ginger. I actually froze fresh ginger a few weeks ago, in an attempt to make grating it easier. I peeled the ginger and just wrapped it in plastic. It worked very well and was especially convenient.
Apple-Ginger Crisp with Mascarpone Cream

6 servings
For the streusel topping:
1/3 cup whole unblanched almonds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, minced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

For the apple filling:
2 1/2 lbs. (about 8 medium) tart, firm, baking apples, such as Rome Beauty
Juice of 1 lemon, strained
2 teaspoons fresh, grated ginger root
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

For the mascarpone cream:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325º F. Place the almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes. Stir the almonds and continue toasting for another 7 minutes until light brown in the center. Let cool on the pan for 15 minutes. Chop the almonds roughly. Set aside.

Turn the oven up to 400º F.

To make the streusel, put the flour, sugar, and cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor and pulse 2 to 3 times to mix. Add the butter and pulse 8 to 10 times until the butter is the size of large peas. Pour the mixture into a medium mixing bowl, and stir in the crystallized ginger and almonds. Set aside.

Alternatively, mix the flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is the size of large peas. Stir in the crystallized ginger and almonds. Set aside.

To make the apple filling, butter a 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish. Peel and core the apples and cut into 1-inch chunks. Toss the apple chunks with the lemon juice. Mix in the ginger, sugar, and flour.

Pour the apple mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the top, covering the apples completely. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the apples are tender when pierced with a knife and the topping is golden brown. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes.

To make the mascarpone cream, put the cream, mascarpone, sugar, and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl. Stir with a whisk until the mixture smooths out and then whisk vigorously until the mixture is light and fluffy and will hold a stiff peak. Be careful not to overwhip or the mixture will become grainy.
Serve portions of the crisp topped with mascarpone cream.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash

This is the risotto recipe I mentioned yesterday. A good friend made this Monday night and it was delicious. The pancetta and Parmesan give a really nice salty, sharp contrast to the sweet roasted butternut squash. This is a great one dish meal with a side salad.

Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash
Recipe from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa
Serves 4 to 6

1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 cup minced shallots
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low to simmer.In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes.

Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan cheese.

Mix well and serve.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Curried squash soup

Sunday night, our English friends invited us over for a proper English dinner. Yorkshire pudding, rib roast, roasted parsnips and potatoes, bread pudding…you get the picture. It was all wonderful and such a treat after a busy weekend, to have no worries over making dinner on Sunday night.

For starters, they made a Curried Squash Soup, it was fantastic. Even my “so over squash…” husband was looking at me, sort of saying, “we can have squash again if you can make this.”
Given the five squash still in my possession from our CSA and the strong desire to try to replicate their fantastic recipe, I gave it a go. This version is good, but I think the spices can still be substituted. Curry is not my thing, I’m trying to learn. I’ll be sure to try and get the blend that they used and post it soon. The soup is obviously, very spicy… and really good. Now that the weather is changing, I could have soup every day.
I also want to share an Ina Garten, butternut squash risotto recipe that another friend made on Monday. We didn’t get pictures, but the risotto was wonderful; really complex with a few quality ingredients.

Curried Squash Soup
For roasted squash:
2 small butternut squash
1 acorn squash
2 small summer squash
3 T olive oil

For soup:
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 T olive oil
2 T Hungarian paprika
1 T curry powder
1 t ginger powder
1 t cinnamon
1 t cumin
½ t cardamom powder
5-6 saffron threads
4 cups chicken broth (or more for a runnier soup)
1/8 c heavy whipping cream
Fresh cilantro

Set oven to 350 degrees. Peel, seed and chop the squash into 1-inch cubes. Toss in olive oil and spread across a baking sheet or large metal baking pan. Use more than one if you need to in order to spread the squash evenly to form a single layer. Roast for 30 minutes, toss and roast for an addition 20 – 30 minutes, until squash is caramelized and very soft.
**You can do this step ahead and refrigerate or freeze the squash until you’re ready to make the soup, it makes a quick dinner if the squash is already cooked.

In a large, heavy stock pot sauté onion and garlic over medium heat until opaque. In a smaller pot, heat chicken broth and saffron over low heat to release saffron flavors. In a small bowl, evenly blend spice mixture. Add spice mixture to onion and garlic, sautéing until the spices start to toast. It will be a thick. (I use a Le Crueset pan, which works very well. The spices stick to the enamel a bit, but with the addition of the chicken stock, release from the side of the pan.) Add about 2 cups of the chicken stock and stir for about 2 minutes so the flavors blend. Add the squash and cook evenly for another 2 minutes. Use either stick blender or puree soup in small batches in a food processor to process soup until smooth. Return to stock pot and add additional broth to achieve desired consistency. Cook an additional 10 – 15 minutes over low heat. The longer it cooks, the more the flavors meld.

Serve the soup with a drizzle of cream and a bunch of fresh cilantro.

Makes 6 – 8 servings.