Monday, February 28, 2011

Brussels sprouts with thyme

Fresh thyme, please, if you can possibly find it!  It's so much less bitter than dried thyme, which is still better than nothing.  Just in case I haven't already convinced you to try Brussels sprouts, here's another enticement:

Brussels Sprouts with Thyme

Olive oil or bacon grease
Large shallot, chopped
1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved or quartered
1 c broth, chicken or vegetarian
2 t fresh thyme or 1/2 t dried
Salt and pepper

In a large covered skillet, heat the oil or grease and cook the shallots and sprouts over medium heat, stirring until they start to brown.  Add the broth and seasonings and bring to a quick boil.  Reduce the heat and cover, simmering for about 15 minutes.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Crispy chicken

The January 2011 issue of Martha Stewart's Living magazine included a very simple way to crisp up the skin of your chicken, which also happened to be delectably tasty.  The secrets?  Butter it and sprinkle it with cornstarch and salt.  She suggests doing it as a rub.  I preferred to dust it on using a strainer.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tomato pesto for Brussels sprouts

Here's another fabulous sauce to use with Brussels sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts with Tomato Pesto

1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved

Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 c sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted in olive oil if dried, chopped fine
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 T toasted pine nuts
1 T red-wine vinegar
1 T fresh oregano
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, shredded

Toss sprouts with oil, salt, and pepper and roast at 400 covered with foil and with a bit of water for about 20 minutes until tender.  Use an immersion blender or processor to create a coarse pesto with the sun-dried tomatoes, some olive oil and water if needed, the garlic, pine nuts, vinegar, and oregano.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese by hand.  Use as a dressing with the sprouts.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

Brussels sprouts with chile-garlic sauce

I love love love Brussels sprouts just about every way they can be prepared.  I'm going to post about nothing but Brussels sprouts until I convince you to try one of these recipes :-) 

Here's a super-simple sauce that leaves them delicious and very brown (I know they look burnt, but they don't taste that way) in just a few minutes.

Chile-Garlic Sauce for Brussels Sprouts

1 lb sprouts, halved

1 T olive oil
1 T chile-garlic sauce
1 T soy sauce

Mix the sauce ingredients in a plastic bag and add the sprouts to coat.  Roast at 450 for about 20 minutes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thai Roma restaurant

While we were visiting with Dani down in her new Washington DC neighborhood, we decided to try a wonderful neighborhood restaurant called Thai Roma.  How can you resist a name like that?  I don't do much Thai cooking, but I've been wanting to, so this seemed like a wonderful way to start.

The menu is extensive, and the three dishes that we ordered were all very very tasty.  We also enjoyed the atmosphere of the place...but that was a bonus to the food!  We ordered Kai Wan chicken, Green Curry with chicken, and Nua Siam beef.  We'll definitely be returning when we visit next time!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Foodie entertainment

Two Epicurious posts had me drooling recently, and they were NOT recipes, either!

The all-time 10 best films about food, including (of course) Babette's Feast and Ratatouille, and also one of my favorites, Like Water for Chocolate.

Television's all-time most influential foodies, starting with Julia Child (love her love her love her) and including the very drool-worthy Tom Colicchio.  Yum.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Roasted garbanzo beans

I found the easiest and tasiest thing to do with garbanzo beans recently...all thanks to Oil & Butter!  If you haven't visited this website, you really need to.  I mean, spicy cayenne pepper enhanced garbanzo beans?  Crazy good!  Visit the link above for the recipe.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A new way to put a person in a birthday cake

My funny little daughter came up with a new twist when her friend Mark jokingly requested having Matt in a cake at his birthday party.   She made it happen...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chocolate hedgehogs

And now for something completely different, how about a little chocolate?

Or maybe a LOT of chocolate!  Dani made a polymer clay hedgehog for me when she was home for Christmas, and I finally got around to ordering some food-grade silicone putty ( Easy Mold 1:1 RTV Silicone Putty) to make some molds. not use any mold-making material except for ones that specify food-grade.  And don't use your molds for anything except for food.  If you use them with another material, please retire them from food making.  Better safe than sorry!

So here's what I did:

1. Measure out the putty carefully by weight.  If you don't get the ratio right, the silicone will either fail to harden properly, or you'll find that it's grainy and won't take a good impression.  Mix it by hand quickly but thoroughly

2. Press your mold into the silicone, squeezing and rolling gently to get all the details and to avoid bubbles.  Create a flat part on the top, which will become the bottom when you are pouring chocolate.

3. Unmold your model.  It's really that easy - silicone doesn't stick to anything, so it should pop right out.  Your chocolate candies will pop right out too. 

Two chocolate hedgehogs sit next to the original model

4. Temper and pour your chocolate, adding fillings if you wish.  I did wish, and I added peanut butter truffle filling to the middle of each.  Here's a link to the post that has the info on tempering chocolate and also the recipe that I use for the peanut butter filling.  Yum :-)  

Easy Mold 1:1 RTV Silicone Putty
Easy Mold 1:1 RTV Silicone Putty
Easy Mold Putty is a strong, flexible, food-grade mold-making material for plaster, concrete, wax, soap, low-melt metal, baking, chocolate, ice cubes, air-dry clay, and resins. It's excellent for picking up small details. The putty has a work time of 3 minutes and a cure time of 20 minutes. Easy Mold can be heated up to 400°F (204°C), is self-releasing , and will not shrink after curing.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Amish apple cream pie

This apple pie recipe comes from the wonderful Amish community near where I grew up.  You can vary it by changing up the spices, using a graham cracker crust, adding a crumb topping, or adding pears along with the apples if you wish.  It's also great just the way I've written it out below: plain.

Amish Apple Cream Pie

Make a single batch of regular pie crust

3 c finely cut apples
1 c brown or white sugar (brown preferred)
2/3 c cream or top milk
1/4 t salt
1 rounded T flour

Line the pie pan with the crust.  Mix the apples through flour together and place into shell.  Sprinkle the top with cinnamon.  Bake at 450 for 15 minutes; reduce oven to 325 and bake for another 30 minutes.  At about the half way point, push the top apples down into the sauce to soften them too.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Beef Stew with Mchuzi Mix

Recently I experimented with adding Mchuzi Mix to an otherwise garden-variety beef stew.  What a nice flavor it added!  I highly recommend it for a change of pace.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Spaghetti sauce

Homemade spaghetti sauce is a wonderful thing when you have the time.  This particular recipe helps you to have the time by not being too complicated.  The major thing is to make sure you cook it down enough that it's not runny.  You can add oven-baked meatballs in the final stages of simmering, or add ground meat at the same time as the onions and garlic.

Spaghetti Sauce

Olive oil
Small onion, grated
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 lb ground beef (optional)
1/4 t cayenne pepper flakes
1/2 t dried oregano
2 c tomato juice
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 T white wine
1/4 c fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt, pepper, and sugar
Cooked meatballs (optional)
Parmesan cheese, fresh grated
1 lb spaghetti pasta

Heat oil in a large pan.  Cook onion until soft and add garlic, ground beef if using, pepper flakes, and oregano.  Cook till meat is browned.  Add tomato juice through the wine and simmer until thickened, at least 30 minutes.  Add basil, and salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.  Add meatballs if using, and heat them through.  Serve over pasta and top with grated cheese.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Stuffed olives

Such an easy appetizer or garnish.  I know you can buy these already stuffed, but why?

Stuffed Olives

Large green olives, pitted
Gorgonzola cheese

Cut a few slices of gorgonzola cheese and roll them into thin logs with your fingers.  Break off pieces that are the appropriate size to stick into the pitted olives.  That's it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Corn chowder

I think just about every family has their favorite Corn Chowder recipe.  Here's ours!

Corn Chowder
2 T butter or bacon grease (if not making a vegetarian meal)
2 T olive oil
Onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1/4 c flour
6 c vegetable stock
2 c light cream
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
6 c corn
Salt and pepper
Grated Grueye cheese for top

Heat the butter and oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic, and thyme and cook until they are soft, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle the vegetables with flour and stir to coat. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add the cream and the potatoes, bring to a boil and boil hard until the potatoes start to break down.

Add the corn to the soup. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until the corn is soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Serve topped with cheese.