Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving - A Tale of Two Stuffings

Stuffing seems to be everybody's favorite part of Thanksgiving, right? Stuffing and the pies. I made two stuffings because I cannot have a Thanksgiving without my Nana's meat dressing, but I wanted to do a more traditional bread stuffing as well.

I really like these stuffing guidelines on marthastewart.com. There are countless ways to make stuffing, and this lets you make it your own.

1 one-pound loaf of bread set out overnight (or 1 1/2 pounds cornbread)
4 cups (2 pounds) chopped vegetables
1 cup fresh herbs, predominantly parsley, sage, and thyme
2 cups or less liquid (or 3 eggs)
1 pound meat
Butter and/or olive oil
4 cups or less fruit, vegetables, and nuts
3 tablespoons seasoning

Basically you cook the meat, remove it from the pan and cook the vegetables in the same pan. Mix everything together in a bowl and bake in a glass dish for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

Here's the breakdown of what ingredients/amounts I actually used.

1 one-pound loaf French bread, cut into cubes and set out overnight
1 1/2 cups white onion, diced
1 1/2 cups celery, diced
1 1/2 cups leeks, diced
1/3 cup fresh sage, chopped
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 fresh thyme
somewhere between 1 and 2 cups chicken stock, add as needed
1 pound bulk sweet Italian pork sausage
2 large apples, diced
1 cup pecans, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

And now, for Nana's meat dressing. The key ingredient here is Bell's Seasoning. I had my mom bring some to me the last time she visited Chicago because I can't find it at my regular grocery stores here. I don't think it's too hard to find, she bought it at Kroger, but you can order it online too. This is the full recipe but I cut it in half.

4 lbs. ground pork
1 lbs. ground beef
2 onions, chopped
1/2 bud garlic, chopped
1/2 cup water
salt, pepper, celery salt to taste
Bell's seasoning to taste
chicken broth as needed
1/2 package of bread stuffing (herbed)

Cook everything except chicken broth and bread stuffing together on medium high for 4 hours. Add stuffing near the end, and add chicken broth as needed to keep moist.

Ok now, I didn't want to mess with the recipe too much, but I changed a couple little things. I used one whole clove of garlic for the half recipe I made. I also used plain French bread that I cubed and left out overnight to get stale. It was probably 1 1/2 cups worth. My mom usually makes this for Thanksgiving about a week ahead, freezes it, and lets it sit in the a slow cooker all day on Thanksgiving. She waits to add the bread and chicken stock until it has thawed out in the slow cooker. I made it the day before, refrigerated it, and also gave it the slow cooker treatment the day of. 4 hours seems like a long time for the meat to cook on the stove, but you want it to get a really nice dark brown color.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving - Desserts (Maple Pecan Bars, Apple Cake, and Pumpkin Pie)

Ohhhh hey, remember me? You might not. It's been awhile. I almost forgot how to use this website thingy. Well, I'm back from the Great New Jersey Thanksgiving Adventure, and I'm back in one piece. The meal was a success. At least, I'm pretty sure it was. I didn't burn the house down, make anyone sick, injure myself, or wreak any other havoc. And I think I managed to make some pretty tasty dishes.

So, why not start with dessert? Going into the week, I was definitely planning on making a pumpkin pie. I was on the fence about whether I should do an apple cake or pecan bars. And in the end I decided to do both. It was kind of a gametime decision, I had enough time on Wednesday night to crank out one more thing, so maple pecan bars it was. It's kind of lame to write posts about Thanksgiving food the week after Thanksgiving, because what good does that do anybody? But a lot of these dishes are good for any holiday or occasion. Pumpkin pie, maybe not so much, but apple cake and maple pecan bars are good anytime. So let's start with the pecans.

Ever since I had that maple spice cupcake...oh no! I just realized I never posted a picture. Anyway, I had a delicious cupcake from Sprinkles that was a spice cake with maple icing, and I just couldn't stop thinking about that wonderful maple flavor. I figured - why not do a pecan dessert with maple instead of corn syrup? I found this recipe on Epicurious, courtesy of Bon Appetit.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9x9x2-inch metal cake pan. Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and egg yolk in bowl to blend. Add flour and salt; beat until moist clumps form. Gather dough together. Press dough over bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of pan. Bake crust until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool.

For filling:
Combine first 4 ingredients in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until butter melts and mixture is smooth. Boil filling 30 seconds. Remove from heat; mix in vanilla, then nuts.
Pour hot filling into crust. Bake bars until filling is bubbling in center, about 15 minutes. Cool bars completely in pan on rack (filling will become firm). Chill at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.) Cut into 30 bars.

I didn't change anything except that I used salted butter. And I would like to note that it says to cut into 30 bars. 30?! From a 9" x 9" pan? Yeah right. That's got to be a mistake. Or I just like large servings of dessert. But really, I got 9 nice sized squares out of the pan.

Next up, apple cake. I had one pie dish to work with that was already taken up by a pumpkin pie, and honestly I was worried about making an apple pie because I've had some (not my Aunt Linda's) that were soupy and watery on the inside. And I wanted to try this new recipe from Dorie Greenspan's newest cookbook that my mom bought for me.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.

Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it’s evenish.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.

Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.

I didn't change anything there either, except I didn't line the baking sheet with silicone or parchment. I don't really see the point since the cake is cooking in a springform pan. I also dusted the top with a little powdered sugar.

And last, the pumpkin pie. I wanted to make a really, really good pumpkin pie. When I saw the recipe on Smitten Kitchen for "silky smooth pumpkin pie", I'm not going to lie (ooo, a rhyme!) but I was a little intimidated. It's more work than your average pumpkin pie, especially since I wanted to make the crust from scratch, too. But I decided to take on the challenge. Straining the pumpkin mixture through a fine mesh sieve was a pain. But it was all worth it.

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk (I used 2 cups of half and half instead of one cup each of cream and milk)
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can (regular canned yams can be substituted)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon table salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Roll out dough on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to make 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang all around pie plate.

Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Using thumb and forefinger, flute edge of dough. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.

Remove pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate. Bake 5 to 10 more minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove plate and baking sheet from oven.

Make the filling: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove pan from heat. Whisk in cream mixture slowly, until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Re-whisk mixture and transfer to warm pre-baked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Continue baking until edges are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. (The pie finishes cooking with resident heat; to ensure the filling sets, cool it at room temperature and not in the refrigerator.)

As you can see, the pie is adorned with dinosaurs, a dolphin, and a whale - courtesy of my nieces. Here's the pie crust recipe I used, it's better to read the original post with all her tips.

So there you have it. Thanksgiving desserts. More Thanksgiving recipes and photos to come throughout the week.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

A few days early, I know...but this will be my last post until after the holiday. I'm off to cook a Thanksgiving feast (or part of one) for my in-laws. I kind of hate that word, I feel like sit-coms have given it a bad name. So I'm cooking for my husband's family. I'm attempting a pie, with crust from scratch, and probably the very fact that I'm announcing that ahead of time will jinx it...but hopefully not. I'm cooking some other dishes too, and I've got my little bag of things I'll need, ready to go:

Hopefully there will be no kitchen fires, injuries, foodborne illnesses, or other disasters. And most of all I hope...my food is good. Good luck to me. And good luck to you with whatever you're cooking! Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kale and Chourico Soup

I've professed my love of chouriço before, and I bought some again last time I was home in Columbus. This time I wanted to do a little more with it than make sandwiches, and upon researching Portuguese recipes I found kale soup. This recipe is from Emeril (he's from Fall River, so I trust that it's pretty authentic), with a few of my changes.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound chouriço sausage, sliced in 1/2-inch slices
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
6 cups chicken stock
3 cups kale, rinsed, stemmed, and cut into 1-inch strips
1 bay leaf
Pinch of crushed red pepper
salt and pepper

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chouriço and onions. Saute the mixture for about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and potatoes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock and kale and bring the liquid up to a boil.

Stir in the bay leaf and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and ladle the soup into shallow bowls. Serve with crusty bread.

The soup really doesn't need a lot of flavoring besides the chouriço. I saw another recipe that included kidney beans and cabbage in addition to the kale, but I liked keeping it simple. Crusty bread on the side is a must.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Veal Ricotta Meatballs (not really)

I'm Sad. With a capital S. I hate when things don't work. I really wanted to make veal ricotta meatballs for dinner last night, because I had them at Riccardo last weekend (as well as the first and only other time I've been there), and can't stop thinking about them. I decided to make some and it was a total flop. It really puts me into a funk when I cook something that's a complete failure. Ok, it wasn't a total loss, but not what I had in mind. And I hadn't even been plotting to make these very far in advance. God help me if the bûche de noël doesn't work on Christmas, I'll be crying in bed for days.

There you see the "meatballs" right after I put them in the pan. I use the word "meatball" loosely because, well... you'll see. I used this recipe and there were no comments complaining that there were mistakes in measurements or cooking times, which is often the case on the Food Network website. So I thought it was pretty safe.

Or not. There was just too much ricotta. I don't see how 1/2 pound of ground veal, an egg, and over a cup of ricotta could hold together. Apparently it worked for some people, but I'm at a loss here. So I'll spare you all the step-by-step photos I took, and typing out the recipe, because this is not a success story. It did make a tasty ragu, but I was really in the mood for meatballs. Sigh.

Maybe I should bake something to cheer myself up.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chicago's Michelin Stars

Oh man, I'm a day late on the Michelin news again. This time it wasn't me, the news was scheduled to come out this morning but someone got ahold of the results and leaked them early, forcing Michelin to move up its announcement by a day. The nerve. Anyway, the results are in.

3 stars:

2 stars:
Charlie Trotter's

1 star:
Crofton on Wells
Graham Elliot
Longman & Eagle*

Yay Chicago! I'm very lucky to have eaten at some of those amazing restaurants (starred). I was surprised that some places I thought were deserving didn't make it on there, but I guess that's the whole point...not everyone gets a star. It will be interesting to see who keeps their stars, gains, or loses next year.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Matzo Ball Soup

I decided to make matzo ball soup for two reasons. Well, three if you count "it's delicious" as a reason. First reason is I've been eating it for lunch from Goddess at least once a week for the past month, and the second is because I wanted something nice and light for dinner after a wonderful weekend of friends visiting (*cough* cupcake binge *cough*).

I had never bought or cooked with matzo meal before. Matzo meal is ground up matza. And matza is made of flour and water. So there you have it.

This recipe is brought to you by Smitten Kitchen, with a couple very minor changes by me.

Matzo Balls
1/2 cup matzo meal
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons seltzer

2 quarts prepared chicken stock
1 carrot, thinly sliced

Mix all matzo ball ingredients in a bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Bring 1 1/2 quarts of well-salted water to a brisk boil in a medium sized pot.

Reduce the flame. Run your hands under water so they are thoroughly wet. Form matzo balls by dropping spoonfuls of matzo ball batter approximately 1-inch in diameter into the palm of your wet hands and rolling them loosely into balls.

Drop them into the simmering salt water one at a time. Cover the pot and cook them for 30 to 40 minutes.

About ten minutes before the matzo balls are ready, bring prepared chicken stock to a simmer with the sliced carrot in it. Ladle some soup and a couple matzo balls into each bowl and serve.

My minor changes were: canola oil instead of vegetable oil or reserved chicken fat. The original recipe called for the option of chicken stock or seltzer in the matzo mixture, but I really liked the seltzer. The original also calls for fresh dill as a garnish. The whole thing took a little over an hour to make, but most of that time was spent waiting - for the matzo mixture to chill, and then for it to cook. So it's really not labor intensive. Also, I used half homemade chicken stock and half store-bought. Good stock is important since it's a very simple soup.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Cupcake Chronicles

Yet another seasonal flavor from Sprinkles - salty caramel. Sadly it's already gone, it was only around for about a week. You can actually see the fleur de sel on top of the icing. Mmmm.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chicago's Bib Gourmands

I know, I know. I'm a day late and a dollar short here. I do what I can. Michelin inspectors have been working their way through the Chicago culinary scene for quite some time now and will release the city's first guide next week. So we won't find out which restaurants received the prestigious "étoiles" for another few days, but they did release the Bib Gourmands yesterday. A Bib Gourmand designation means that the restaurant is Michelin's pick for good food at moderate prices. Here's their explanation:

"A Bib Gourmand rating means the restaurant is an inspector's favorite for good value. For $40 or less, you can enjoy two courses and a glass of wine or dessert (not including tax and gratuity)."

Maybe the best part...in the middle of the night before the Bibs are announced, Michelin chalks an outline of the Michelin man (named Bibendum) on the sidewalk in front of the restaurants selected.

Here's the list. Restaurants I've been to are marked with a *.

Ann Sather
Belly Shack
Bistro 110
The Bristol
Ceres’ Table
De Cero*
Frances’ Deli
Frontera Grill*
Gilt Bar*
Girl & The Goat*
Green Zebra
Han 202
Kith & Kin*
La Creperie
La Petite Folie
Los Nopales
Lula Café
M. Henry
Mixteco Grill
Opart Thai House
Paramount Room
The Publican*
The Purple Pig*
Raj Darbar
Riccardo Trattoria*
Spacca Napoli
Taste of Peru
Thai Village
Twin Anchors
West Town Tavern

Monday, November 8, 2010

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

Brussels sprouts make me think of a mom in a 1950's black and white sitcom, wearing an apron and trying to get her kids to eat them and the kids are pursing their lips and shaking their heads. And I was definitely one of those kids...but now, I love these tiny cabbages. I think brussels sprouts are experiencing a resurgence in popularity among vegetables. Serving them with bacon certainly doesn't hurt.

Serves 4-6
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
3-4 tablespoons diced pancetta
2 garlic cloves, minced
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Cook the brussels sprouts in salted, boiling water for 4-5 minutes, and drain. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the pancetta. Cook for about 5 minutes, and using a slotted spoon transfer to a plate with paper towel.

Add garlic to the pan and cook for a minute or two until starting to brown. Add brussels sprouts and pancetta to pan and turn heat up to medium-high. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brussels sprouts begin to brown. Salt and pepper to taste.

These are delicious. I promise. Some members of the household liked them so much they snatched one off the table when no one was looking and dragged it down to the floor to gnaw on it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pasta e Fagioli

Even though it's not too cold out, I figured the first night of non-daylight savings called for a good, comforting hibernation type of meal. Don't get me wrong, I don't really enjoy the sun setting pretty much in the middle of the afternoon, but there's something about it getting dark so early that makes me just a little happy. Probably knowing the holidays are around the corner, and that soon the trees on Michigan Avenue and on my street will be covered in little white lights that I can enjoy on my walk home from work, and not feeling at all guilty about having no desire to go anywhere besides the couch on a weekend night. Get back to me mid-February and I'm sure I'll be singing a different tune. But on a Sunday when the sun set at 4:37pm, the Jets and the Giants both won, and there were steaming bowls of pasta e fagioli on the dinner table, what's there to complain about?

Serves 2-3
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 link hot Italian sausage (pork, turkey, or chicken - not already cooked)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 white onion, diced
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 pound pasta - some sort of small tube shape
1 14-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
fresh basil for garnish

In a medium saucepan heat half the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the sausage link until browned on both sides and cooked through. Remove from pan and cut into slices, then cut the slices in half.

In the same pan add the rest of the olive oil, garlic, and onion and cook for about 3 minutes or until onion is softened. Add the sausage back to the pan. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and oregano and stir to combine. Make sure the tomato paste is incorporated into the stock. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a rapid boil.

Add the pasta and cook according to directions. When pasta is done remove from heat and stir in the cheese and beans. Serve with more cheese and basil.

I didn't take a lot of photos because the recipe is very quick, and because it's all pretty standard - chopped onions, heating up broth, grating cheese, etc. There are so many variations you can do - pancetta instead of sausage, sweet Italian sausage, no meat at all, no tomato paste, chopped Italian tomatoes instead of paste, red kidney beans instead of cannellini, purée half the beans in a food processor to make the broth thicker, use a sachet of herbs including a bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme...the list goes on. This version is a stew - somewhere between a soup, and pasta with sauce. The broth is thickened by the tomato paste, the starch from the pasta, and the cheese. Any way you make it, it's a "one pot" meal, can easily be doubled, and makes great leftovers for lunch the next day.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Spicy Fish Tacos with Avocado Crema

As I was making these fish tacos last night, a memory popped into my head. Visiting my friend Lauren who lives in southern California, walking around Manhattan Beach, seeing Wahoo's - famous for their fish tacos, and thinking...eww. This was about 8 years ago. I can't believe what a picky eater I used to be. The thing is, if I had been forced to eat a fish taco I would have liked it! I guess it has to come naturally. This fish taco recipe comes from Bobby Flay. Well, part of it does - the green marinade part.

1 pound tilapia
1/4 cup canola oil
1 jalapeno, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
juice of 1 lime
big pinch salt

Combine chile, cilantro, lime juice, oil, and salt in a bowl.

Spread over the fish and let marinate in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Broil fish for about 4-5 minutes on each side, and break apart with a fork.

1 avocado, pitted and peeled
3/4 cup sour cream
juice of 1/2 lime
pinch salt

Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

I used crunchy taco shells. Garnish tacos with fresh salsa (I used mango) and crema.

The fish could be grilled instead of broiled, but you'll lose a lot of the jalapeno so I would recommend cooking it in foil. I liked the broiler so I could salvage the pieces of jalapeno from the bottom of the pan. I might use a serrano chile next time for a little more heat - it wasn't too spicy and I wouldn't have minded a little more heat.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Skate Wing

Skate wing just sounds cool, doesn't it? It looks pretty interesting, too.

It really is the "wing" of a skate, which is a type of ray. Kind of strange, but very delicious. I wanted to make lamb kefta last night, but Peter announced that he was taking control of dinner (which really means he buys the food for me to make) and came home with skate, asparagus, and potatoes for mashed potatoes. Boys love mashed potatoes. I had never made skate before, but it's pretty similar to other white fish - it cooks quickly and only needs very simple flavors. And it's inexpensive, too - a little less than a pound cost about $7.

Serves 2
a little under a pound of skate wing
kosher salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
freshly squeezed lemon juice

The piece of skate I was working with was one big piece, so I cut it in half. Lightly salt both sides of the fish. Mix together the flour and paprika on a large plate.

Dredge the fish in the flour mixture, thoroughly covering both sides. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once skillet is hot melt the butter and add the fish.

Let the fish cook for about 4 minutes, and don't move it until you're ready to flip it over. It should have a nice golden color.

Let cook for another 4 minutes or so until the same golden color is achieved on the other side. Remove from pan, add a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and serve.

Skate has the mild, light flavor of white fish but a little bit meatier texture. Not quite like lobster or crab, but definitely not flaky like cod or halibut or sole. Some of the recipes I saw suggested for the skate to be served with aioli, which sounds pretty good. And you can do almost any vegetable or grain on the side. I think skate will be appearing on my weeknight menus more regularly.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Spiced Potatoes with Fresh Herbs

I feel like I have no time lately. No time! There's never any time! (Saved by the Bell reference? Anyone?) I don't have my usual queue of recipes bookmarked on my computer - I haven't even really had time to look for any. That's probably also due in part to being without a computer for several days...who knew tripping over a power cord to a 5-year-old computer would render it useless for days on end? Not me.

I think my busy life as of late is why the name of this recipe from 64 Sq. Ft. Kitchen spoke to me - Weeknight Potatoes. And because it calls for cumin. I changed the recipe slightly, the original calls for sweet paprika and the addition of a bit of harissa or other hot sauce. I was making two other things at the same time so I wanted to eliminate also making harissa, plus I only had hot paprika so I just used that for the spicy component instead. If you choose to go the sweet paprika and harissa route, mix the harissa in at the beginning with the other spices.

6 Yukon Gold potatoes
1 tsp hot paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven at 400F.

Peel and slice the potatoes into wedges or fries. Put them in a bowl, along with the olive oil, salt, black pepper, ground cumin, and paprika. Toss the potatoes to combine.

Arrange them in a baking sheet in a single layer and bake until golden brown and crisp on the outside, turning them over once, about 25-30 minutes.

Mix the herbs, garlic, lemon juice in a bowl. When the potatoes are baked, toss them quickly with the garlic infused herbs and serve.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Weekend in Columbus

I'm back! My Monday absence can be attributed to a long weekend at home, a rare occasion that I was very excited to indulge in. I hadn't been home in almost 5 months! That may be the longest I've ever gone. And may I just stop for a second to say - is it REALLY November? Really?! I feel like it should be just a couple weeks after Labor Day. I'm so not ready for the onslaught of Christmas candy/gifts/trees/paraphernalia/tv ads/stuff in the mail that's about to happen.

Back to my weekend at home...first order of business - Jeni's. Obviously. That's a "trio" of heirloom pumpkin five spice, spicebush apple butter, and brown butter almond brittle.

Some flowers...and some foliage. Isn't that red leaf so bright and pretty that it almost looks fake?

A stop at my favorite pizza place, Rubino's. This place seriously has not changed since 1954. Not in a cute, vintage way - in a serious, time warp way. Linoleum floors, a few booths and tables, a pinball machine, fluorescent lighting...it's kind of the restaurant version of an old basement rec room. But I don't care, it's my hands down favorite pizza.

$6 for a small pepperoni. The crust is so thin and crispy, almost like a cracker, with a little cornmeal on the bottom. Not too much sauce or cheese, and mini pepperonis. I could have easily eaten that whole thing myself. We split one to share while watching football so it was just a mid-day snack.

A fire and some furry friends. Lots of quality time with my furry friends.

And a delicious Sunday night dinner. A side of brussels sprout hash and an apple crisp for dessert.

And a new recipe - whole wheat pasta with roasted eggplant, pepper, and garlic.

Ahh, what a great weekend.