Monday, December 28, 2015

Chicken Marsala

Meal #2 from Home Chef. Chicken Marsala. Oh my goodness. This was not only great tasting but the whole house smells wonderful. So far, so awesome.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

An Old Favorite

Tonight, we're having an old favorite of mine - Koru Ragu or Swedish Sausage Stew. It's from a book I got from my former mother-in-law many, many years ago called "Complete Meals in One Dish". This meal is so easy and delicious - perfect for a weeknight meal.

Koru Ragu

1 pound sausages (I've made this with sliced up smoked sausages and smoked kielbasa)
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup diced onions
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup beef broth
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups sliced carrots
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf

Brown the sausages in a heavy skillet. Drain and reserve sausages. Melt butter in the same skillet and saute onions for about 5 minutes, until soft. Blend in the flour and then add the beef broth. Bring to a boil. Return sausages to pan. Add carrots, potatoes, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes (add more beef broth, if necessary).

That's it. Easy as pie and quite delicious! Make it with your favorite kind of sausages and I'm sure it will be a hit. It's a great cold night meal. Yum!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Is this thing on?

I'm wondering if this still works since I have abandoned it so completely over the last month or so. I would like to say that, even though I haven't been posting, we've still been cooking up a storm but, sadly, it is not true. We have ground to a halt. I'm not sure when I've eaten so much pizza or so many hot dogs.

We did manage two new recipes recently that I will label "from the ridiculous to the sublime".

First the ridiculous. This is from a small Taste of Home cookbook that I picked up as a joke. You see, it's the BACON recipe card edition. And while most of the recipes look like coronary artery disease on a plate, we did actually make one and it was really quite tasty! I give you the

BLT Salad

1 pound sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup butter, cubed
4 slices white bread, crusts removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
½ cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon minced garlic
6 cups torn romaine
1½ cups grape tomatoes

1. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels; drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings. Set bacon and drippings aside.

2. In another large skillet, melt butter. Add bread cubes, cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove to paper towels; cool.

3. For dressing, in a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, basil, vinegar, pepper, garlic and reserved drippings. In a large bowl, combine the romaine, tomatoes and bacon. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Top with croutons.

We've made this twice and it's really delicious! The ingredients listed reflect the modifications that we made to the original recipe and we like it better this way. It's a nice summer dinner. And it's quick and easy, which is a definite plus these days!

And now the sublime. This is from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook. This is another really fast and delicious meal that's great for the summer, especially how we paired it.

Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter

Kosher salt
½ cup heavy cream
3 ounces white truffle butter
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (8.82-ounce) package Cipriani tagliarelle dried pasta or other egg fettuccine
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
3 ounces Parmesan, shaved thin with a vegetable peeler

Add 1 tablespoon salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a large (12-inch) sauté pan, heat the cream over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Add the truffle butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper; lower the heat to very low, and swirl the butter until it melts. Keep warm over very low heat.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, exactly. (If you're not using Cipriani pasta, follow the directions on the package.) When the pasta is cooked, reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the drained pasta to the sauté pan and toss it with the truffle-cream mixture. As the pasta absorbs the sauce, add as much of the reserved cooking water as necessary to keep the pasta very creamy.
Serve the pasta in shallow bowls and garnish each serving with a generous sprinkling of chives and shaved Parmesan.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve at once.

Ina's description of this dish starts with "OMG", which busts me up, but it's, in fact, the right reaction. This meal is unbelievable! And it's ridiculously easy to make. Perfect for those rushed nights when you're home late from work and you just can't face another pizza! We did not find Cipriani pasta but we did find premium tagliatelle egg pasta that is simply amazing. We also have difficulty finding the truffle butter on a regular basis. We've only actually found it once but we check in the store every single time we go because we will buy this tiny pot of butter for $12 every time we see it. Yes, we will.

As an alternative, we did try a 3-ounce container of garlic finishing butter and it wasn't the same by far (and not close to $12) but it was still quite tasty.

And now the surprise for me with this dish. We served it with a plain baby arugula mix from the grocery store and some freshly made Good Seasons Italian dressing. That's it. I cannot tell you how fantastic this pairing was! And served with a good Italian wine - it's other-worldly!

I'm going to count these two since they were new recipes for us and we actually did cook, so in the newly designed Our Own Julie/Julia Project, these are the latest two entries.

Days 155 and 164/365:Recipes 42 and 43/175

Monday, August 9, 2010

Our Own Julie/Julia Project - Redefined

She Said:

Well, we worked on our own Julie/Julia Project for several months and what we discovered is that all of the food started tasting the same, as will sometimes happen even when you eat at the same restaurant repeatedly for a long time. We're not ones to continue something just for the sake of continuing it. If it's not working, we move on. And that's what we're doing now.

We completed 41 recipes (including the one below) from Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman and we will still cook from that book but not exclusively. And we will count the other things we make as part of our Julie/Julia Project and just see how many new recipes we can do in this year.

This recipe we made as accompaniment to a grilling dinner. We had some great grilled salmon and these potatoes, which were fabulous!

Spicy Skillet Potatoes

1½ pounds potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces (we used Yukon gold)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, diced (from our garden)
1 red or green bell pepper, diced (from our garden)
1 jalapeño or other chile, seeded and diced

1. Put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water begins to boil, drain the potatoes.

2. Preheat the oven to 300℉.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the potatoes to fit in a single layer in the skillet. Season with ½ teaspoon of the cumin, ½ teaspoon of the paprika, a generous pinch or two of salt, and several grinds of pepper. Cook until the bottom sides of the potatoes are brown, 3 to 5 minutes, the turn the potatoes and brown on another side, without stirring, 3 to 5 minutes. Repeat until all sides are browned. New potatoes will brown more quickly than mature potatoes. Remove the potatoes from the skillet with a slotted spoon and spread out in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Keep warm in the oven.

4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet and cook the second half of the potatoes as you did the first half. Remove from the skillet and add to the potatoes in the oven.

5. Add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño to the skillet and sauté until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and mix gently. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired, and serve immediately.

The jalapeño really added a kick to this dish but it was so tasty! And I even overcooked both the potatoes and the onion/pepper mixture! This is a good side dish to have in your back pocket for those times when you are tired of mashed potatoes or rice.

Day 115/365:Recipe 41/175

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon

He Said:

Well, we did it. Yesterday, She and I launched into Julia Child's (in)famous recipe for boeuf bourguignon. It was a little intimidating at first but together we overcame our unreasonable fears and forged ahead. First order of business, I contacted our butcher to find out if they had any chunk bacon with the rind on it as this has been impossible to find. They did! So off I went to the butcher to get some yummy bacon. We had a bunch of stuff to do and didn't get around to cooking until about 3:00 which made me a little nervous just because this meal takes so long to make. It turned out that our timing was perfect. Our techniques were also perfect. Our ingredients were perfect. We paid close attention to everything, including the extra recipes needed for the small onions (harvested from our backyard, thankyouverymuch) and the mushrooms (harvested.....well, somewhere else, thank god). Thus the onions and the mushrooms turned out perfect. We boiled and braised and baked and sauteed for about four hours. Then, we tasted.


I mean, really perfect. This meal is succulent. It is a warming, simple, comforting meal that just snuggles up to you and sings softly in your ear. Ok, maybe that's a bit much, but dayumm! This meal is SO delicious! And since She and I worked on it together it was really fun to make. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I would put the recipe here but it is really long and besides, it can be found all over the interwebs.

I have always heard people having a rough time with this recipe and I think I now know why. There is a fair amount of wait time with this recipe and I think people are using that as nap time. That is a big mistake! Do NOT go to sleep! Even while you are waiting you can work on the onions or the mushrooms or some side dish or set the table or a million other things. Just don't nap. You will regret it!

Oh, we also served this with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, some buttered peas and a great French Bordeaux. Fantastic! Deeelish! Scrumpdillicious! What's that other word I'm looking for? Oh, I know....


Monday, July 12, 2010

Days Eighty-Nine and Ninety-Eight

She Said:

Well, we have definitely slowed the pace on our own Julie/Julia Project. Maybe we need to rewatch the movie to get reinspired. We have just been so ridiculously busy that we haven't been wanting to cook much. We've been filling in with other things, things we already know how to make and the like. But we do have two recipes to share from Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman and they both count. So here we go.

This recipe (for Day 89) couldn't decide what it wanted to be when it grew up so it actually tasted like two meals in one. We won't be making this again.

Thai-Style Asparagus and Crab Salad

1½ pounds asparagus (about 30 medium-thick spears), trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 1½-inch lengths
1 package (3.75 ounces) bean threads or cellophane noodles
1 pound crabmeat, picked over
1 carrot, grated
2 scallions, white and tender green parts, trimmed and chopped
4 cups arugula leaves or watercress
4 cups mesclun or baby lettuce
½ cup cilantro leaves
½ cup mint leaves
⅓ cup chopped peanuts, toasted

¾ cup fresh lime juice (approximately 6 limes)
½ cup fish sauce
⅓ cup sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 jalapeño chilies, minced
1 tablespoons minced peeled ginger
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Steam the asparagus over boiling water until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain; plunge into cold water to stop the cooking; drain.

2. Soak the noodles in hot tap water to cover for about 5 minutes. Drain.

3. To make the dressing, combine the lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar in a medium bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Mix in the garlic, chile, ginger, and pepper to taste.

4. Pour about ½ cup of the dressing over the noodles. Toss to mix and set aside.

5. In a large bowl, combine the crab, carrot, and scallions. Add about ½ cup of the dressing. Toss to mix. Set aside to allow the flavors to blend, at least 15 minutes, or longer in the refrigerator.

6. Just before serving, toss the arugula, mesclun, cilantro, and mint in a large bowl. Add a few tablespoons of the remaining dressing and toss to mix. Add more dressing if desired.

7. To serve, line a platter or individual plates with the greens mix. Top with the noodles, then the crab mixture, and finally the asparagus. Sprinkle on the peanuts and serve, passing the remaining dressing at the table.

This could have been a good noodle salad or a good greens salad, but not both. The crab got completely lost in the noise of the dish. The dressing was tasty, though.

This was a better recipe (for Day 98). It was really a snack and we made a meal of this plus some grilled shrimp cocktail. That was a nice summer meal.

Breaded Asparagus Sticks

2 eggs
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup freshly ground Parmesan
¾ cup panko or other dried bread crumbs
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1-1½ pounds asparagus (20-30 medium-thick spears), bottoms trimmed

1. Preheat the oven to 400℉. Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil.

2. In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs with the mustard. Season with a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. In a second bowl, combine the Parmesan and panko and mix well. Dip each asparagus spear first in the eggs to coat, then in the crumb mixture. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Continue until all the asparagus is coated.

3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden on the bottom. Turn the asparagus over and bake for another 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.

4. Arrange on a platter with the lemon wedges. Serve hot or at room temperature.

We liked this but I doubt that we'll make it again. It's hard to come up with a time to make appetizers for ourselves and I didn't like them enough for company.

Days 89 and 98/365:Recipes 39 and 40/175

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day Eighty-Three

She Said:

This was a wonderful addition to our own Julie/Julia project. Absolutely delicious - but one word of caution - make sure those threads are removed from your snow peas, no matter how fine they seem!

This is from Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman.

Stir-Fried Shrimp and Snow Peas in Black Bean Sauce

Shrimp and Marinade
1½ pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry (we used sherry)
2 thin slices fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt

½ cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon sugar

4½ tablespoons peanut or canola oil
1 pound snow peas, tails and strings removed
2 teaspoons Chinese fermented black beans, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 scallion, minced
Hot cooked rice

1. Rinse the shrimp and pat dry. Place in a medium bowl. To prepare the marinade, add the wine, ginger, sesame oil, and salt to the bowl. Toss several times. Set aside for 20 minutes to marinate.

2. To prepare the sauce, combine the broth, soy sauce, wine, cornstarch, and sugar. Mix well. Set aside.

3. When you are ready to cook, heat a large wok over high heat. Add 1½ tablespoons of the oil and heat for a few minutes. Add half the shrimp to the wok and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until the shrimp change color. Remove from the wok and set aside in a bowl to keep warm. Add another 1½ tablespoons oil, heat, and repeat. Add the shrimp to the bowl with the other shrimp and wipe out the wok.

4. Add the remaining 1½ tablespoons oil to the wok and heat until very hot. Add the snow peas and stir-fry until almost tender, about 1 minute. Make a well in the center of the peas and add the black beans, garlic, ginger, and scallion. Stir-fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Stir into the peas. Add the shrimp and stir-fry for 1 minute until heated through. Add the sauce and stir-fry until the sauce thickens and clears, about 2 minutes longer.

5. Serve hot over rice.

This was really, really good, but somewhat tainted by my snow-pea-thread ordeal (read about it here). I would love to try it again. And, given the fact that we couldn't find the fermented black beans in the store and I ordered a life-time supply from Amazon, we should make it again. But I will be sure to clean my snow peas better! (Let me know if you need any fermented black beans - I'd be happy to share!)

Day 83/365:Recipe 38/175