Sunday, December 16, 2007

Brined Butterball

This weekend C and I attended a "turkey tasting" with our local chapter of Slow Foods... think wine tasting, but with turkey instead. We were to compare a standard, supermarket bird with a heritage White Holland turkey.

We volunteered to make the standard bird for the event.

Here is our bird almost submerged in the brine. This time around we used salt, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, and an orange.

After brining, we roasted in the oven. Inside the cavity we used a kitchen sink of aromatics

Our 20 pound beauty...

For those who might be interested, here are the two birds side by side. The heritage bird (on the right) was a very slender looking bird, unlike the butterball that looked a bit like Dolly Parton.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


I'm not sure how it happened, but my Thanksgiving photos only included breakfast and a quick peak at the roasting turkey... I guess I was too busy eating!

Hope you all had a wonderful Turkey Day!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chicken Piccata for Two

Over the weekend I watched an episode of one of my favorite cooking shows on the Food Network, Barefoot Contessa, and she reminded me of a recipe I haven't made in forever - chicken piccata. So, while C went to the gym after work, I played cooking show...

(not really, I just wanted to play with the timer on my camera)

Most recipes for chicken piccata call for capers, but I didn't have any on hand so it worked out that her version did not.

Click Here for Printable Recipe

It's pretty much just three simple steps...

(1) make two chicken cutlets and keep them warm in the oven

(2) make a lemon-white wine sauce

(3) drizzle sauce over said chicken

photo courtesy of (we were too busy eating to take a final photo)

Her complete recipe:

2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 extra-large egg
1/2 tablespoon water
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
Olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine Sliced lemon, for serving
Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Jalapeno Poppers

We had tried making poppers once before using a batter and it was pretty much a disaster (you know one of those snowballing disasters in the kitchen where you just keep adding ingredients hoping it will get better... yeah, that kind). Anyways, C came in from the garden the other day with a big pile of peppers so we decided to give it another shot. This time we kept it simple and it turned out fantastic.

- Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds.
- Fill each side with cream cheese
- Dip in milk and roll in flour. Chill for 10 minutes.

- Dip in milk and roll in a mixture of italian seasoned breadcrumbs and japanese panko breadcrumbs. Chill for 10 minutes or until ready to fry.
- Fry 2-3 minutes or until pepper is softened and crust is golden brown.

easy peasy.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pork tenderloin cutlets with a fig-habanero gastrique

One of the plants in our garden that is still going strong even though it's November is our habanero pepper plant.

These tiny beauties pack a punch - one of the hottest peppers in the world - but their flavor is very distinct and very delicious. (please be sure not to rub your eyes while working with these peppers... or better yet, wear kitchen gloves!)

This recipe has a long name, but it's really very easy to make: Grilled Pork Tenderloin Cutlets with Fig-Habanero Gastrique.

Click Here for Printable Version

Gastrique: a thick sauce produced by a reduction of vinegar or wine, sugar, and usually fruit.

1½ pounds pork tenderloin cutlets
½ medium red onion, diced
1-2 habanero peppers, minced
½ tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1½ cups dry white wine
¼ cup fig jam or preserves

Prepare pork:

  • Put pork between sheets of plastic wrap and flatten with a mallet or rolling pin to make 1/2-inch-thick cutlets.

  • Prepare glaze:

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add onions and habaneros. Cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 minutes or until onions begin to caramelize.

  • Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. Puree the mixture using a hand-held blender or food processor. Cool.

  • Pour ½ of fig mixture over pork ; cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

  • Grill pork:

  • Remove pork from marinade and grill over medium-hot coals just until nicely browned; about 5 minutes per side. Brush pork with glaze and grill 1 minute more on each side.
  • Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Iced Pumpkin Bread

    Being that it is October, I decided I wanted to make something with pumpkin. After a short brainstorming session with C, we came up with Pumpkin Bread. I started with a favorite banana bread recipe and added and subtracted here and there.

    Pumpkin Bread
    Click Here for Printable Version

    5 tablespoons margarine, softened
    ½ cup sugar
    ½ cup light brown sugar
    1 egg
    2 egg whites
    15 oz pumpkin1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
    1½ cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoons baking soda
    ¼ teaspoon baking powderdash salt

    - Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease the bottom of a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
    - In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the eggs and beat well. Stir in vanilla and pumpkin
    - In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
    - Blend the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.

    Cream Cheese Icing
    1-8oz package cream cheese
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 1/3 cup powdered sugar

    - Combine all ingredients with electric hand mixer until smooth.

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    Lamb Shank Stew

    Although I will certainly miss all the beautiful summer produce and light cool dishes, I'm ready for fall and a whole new set of experiments to add to the repertoire. Tonight, lamb was on the menu in the form of a savory lamb shank stew.

    Lamb Shank Stew

    Click Here for Printable Version

    Prep the Lamb Shanks:

    Sprinkle lamb shanks with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and curry powder.

    Prepare Stew:

    Oil or Shortening (to brown lamb)
    2 lamb shanks
    1 onion, chopped
    4 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 tsp turmeric
    1 tsp curry powder
    1 tsp ground ginger
    1/4 tsp dried red-pepper flakes
    1 tsp of cinnamon
    dash nutmeg
    Black pepper
    1 Tbsp of honey
    2 Tbsp of soy sauce

    Put oil into a heavy-bottomed pan and warm over medium heat. Brown the lamb shanks on all sides and then remove to a plate. In the same pan, add the onion and garlic and soften.

    Stir in the turmeric, curry, ginger, red-pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir again, adding the honey and soy sauce. Put the shanks back in the pan, add cold water almost to cover, bring to the boil and then put a lid on the pan, lower the heat and simmer for 1-1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Check for seasoning and add salt & pepper to taste.

    Note: We served over smashed red potatoes and it was delicious.

    Saturday, October 13, 2007

    Electric Griddle Pan

    If I haven't mentioned it before, I love my electric griddle for making pancakes. Our house in SC has an electric stove, so my regular griddle pan just wasn't doing the trick. But with its large work surface and completely even heating, it's perfect!

    Sunday, October 07, 2007

    Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

    An aging jar of peanut butter in the cabinet inspired me to make some sort of peanut butter cookie this weekend. C suggested something similar to the peanut butter sandwich cookies from the girl scouts that we both love.

    I can't say they tasted exactly like the original, but a tasty cookie nonetheless.

    Oatmeal Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

    Click Here for Printable Version

    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup butter, melted
    2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    1 egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 cup oats, pulsed in food processor

    3 tablespoons butter, melted
    1 cup confectioners' sugar
    1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
    1 tablespoons milk or cream

    To Make Cookies:
    In mixer with paddle attachment combine sugar, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, butter – beat well.

    In a separate bowl, mix flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to the mixer and stir until well combined.

    Drop by teaspoons onto greased baking sheet, and press each down slightly.

    Bake at 350° F (175 degrees C) for 10-15 minutes, or until cookies are a light brown.

    To Make Filling:

    Cream 3 tablespoons butter or margarine with the confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, and the milk or cream. Spread filling onto half of the cooled cookies, then top with the other half to form sandwiches.

    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Steak Lettuce Wrap with Thai Salsa

    This week I picked up my first bag of goodies from the CSA at Five Leaves Farm in Blythewood.

    For those who may not have heard of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), it's a way for the public to create a relationship with a farm and to receive a weekly basket of produce. Win Win!

    Although I won't normally have time to drive all the way out to the farm, I took my lunch hour on Wednesday and took a trip into another world .... from the harsh research park where I work, to horses and pasture land - beautiful and quiet. Ben was kind enough to take the time to introduce himself and I felt so bad that I had to take my produce and run and not stay for a tour.

    But on to the loot!

    I was thrilled to see the beautiful asian greens. The only one I was sure about was the baby bok choy, but the others were hiroshimana, fong-san cabbage, and shirona (not shown in the photo below).

    Of course I immediately though stir-fry, but as I rinsed them, I nibbled on a piece here and there and I just couldn't wilt them to nothing. But how could I get C to eat raw cabbage? With spicy steak of course!

    Our invention of the week (I think it's a keeper)...

    Steak Lettuce Wrap with Thai Salsa

    Click Here for Printable Recipe

    1 pound sirloin steak

    Bok Choy, Bibb Lettuce
    Whatever you’ve got!

    Thai Salsa:
    1 tomato, minced
    ¼ cup onion, minced
    1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
    1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
    1 Tablespoon brown sugar
    2 Tablespoons soy sauce
    ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
    ½ teaspoon minced garlic
    1 ½ teaspoon beef bouillon
    ¼ Cup boiling water

    Prepare Salsa
    o In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and set aside

    Grill Steak
    o Preheat grill to medium-high
    o Drizzle a bit of olive oil on each side of steak and sprinkle with
    salt and pepper.
    o Grill for 6-8 minutes per side or until desired doneness
    o Remove to cutting board and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
    o Cut steak into thin slices or strips -preferably against the grain

    Prepare Filling & Make Wraps
    o Drop steak strips into salsa and allow to marinate for a few minutes (or as long as you can wait). Use lettuce leaves as you would a tortilla.

    Thanks Again Ben & Kristen!

    Five Leaves Farm
    Community Supported Agriculture
    632 Kinsler Rd; Blythewood SC 29016

    Friday, September 21, 2007

    Potato-Poblano Chowder

    Fall is in the air.

    When I started dicing the potatos and squash, this was going to be a poblano au gratin, but somwhere along the way, as the flavors came together it became clear the cheesy base should be thinned and it should become a chowder! Voila!

    Click Here for Printable Recipe

    Potato-Poblano Chowder
    4-6 servings

    2 poblano peppers, roasted and chopped
    3 cups red potatoes, ½ inch dice
    1 cup butternut squash, ½ inch dice
    1/3 cup red onion, minced
    1 teaspoon garlic, minced
    2 tablespoons butter
    1 T cornstarch dissolved in 2T cold water
    1 cup milk
    1 cup shredded cheddar
    salt, pepper

    Roast Poblano
    Place whole peppers on bbq grill set to medium-high. Turn the peppers as the sides char. Place the roasted peppers in a paper bag or bowl covered in plastic to cool. The steam will help the skin loosen. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, you can rub the skin off with your fingers. You may want to wear rubber gloves to handle the chilis. And be sure not to touch your eyes! Then carefully slit each chili up one side and remove the seeds. Chop and set aside.

    Preheat oven to 350°

    In an oven safe bowl, combine potatoes, squash, onion, poblano pepper, and garlic. Set aside.

    Create Base
    In a saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Stir in flour; whisk until smooth and bubbly. Gradually add milk and cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly, until sauce has thickened. Add cheese and salt/pepper to taste.

    Pour cheese base over potato mixture and stir well to combine. Bake for 30 minutes covered. Uncover and bake 20-30 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are soft.

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    Supernatural Brownies

    C & I were invited to a friends house to watch the USC football game on pay-per-view over the weekend. Although I'm not a big USC fan, a football party is a great excuse to make some tasty snacks. I made my usual guacamole and salsa, but also a quick box-o-brownies. The brownies were a hit, but I hated to admit they were not my own. SSoooo, I decided I needed to find a good "from scratch" recipe.

    After a long internet search on Sunday morning I found a recipe on NY Times online called SUPERNATURAL BROWNIES. Most recipes use adjectives like gooey or fudgey or super gooey and fudgey, but supernatural? How could I not give these a try.

    I made a few slight alterations given what I had on hand, but they were mighty tasty.

    Supernatural Brownies

    Adapted from “Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers,” by Nick Malgieri (Morrow Cookbooks, 1998)

    Click Here for Printable Version

    2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, more for pan and parchment paper
    8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Hershey's dark chocolate chips)
    4 eggs
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup dark brown sugar, such as muscovado
    1 cup granulated sugar
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1 cup flour
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts or 3/4 cup whole walnuts, optional.

    1. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Cool slightly. In a large bowl or mixer, whisk eggs. Whisk in salt, sugars and vanilla.

    2. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined. If using chopped walnuts, stir them in. Pour batter into prepared pan. If using whole walnuts, arrange on top of batter. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top. Cool in pan on rack.

    Sunday, September 16, 2007

    breakfast on the fly

    On weekend mornings I usually assume the role of sous chef since C is the the king of breakfast. At first it was just peppers and eggs (picture 1), but I kept chopping and C kept cooking... and before we knew it we had skillets going with peppers, onions, potatoes, garlic, eggs, and all sorts of good smells coming from the kitchen...

    Sunday, August 26, 2007

    Espresso Ice Cream

    We're only a few days away from Labor Day and a visit from my favorite sister and her hubby. No multi-course wine dinner for them this trip (sorry guys), but I thought I would prepare a few homemade treats - the first being Espresso Ice Cream. This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite chefs from the Food Network, Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa).

    Espresso Ice Cream
    Makes 1 quart

    Click Here for Printable Recipe

    3 cups half-and-half
    6 extra-large egg yolks
    2/3 cup sugar
    Pinch of salt
    2 1/2 tablespoons ground espresso coffee beans
    (Be sure you use finely ground espresso beans, not instant espresso)
    1 tablespoon Kahlua liqueur
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    1 Heat the half-and-half until it forms bubbles around the edge of the pan and steam starts to rise. Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks, sugar, and salt until mixed. Slowly add the hot half-and-half until combined. Wipe out the pan and pour the mixture back into the clean pan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 10 minutes, until it's thickened and the cream coats the back of the spoon.

    2 Pour the cream through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl. Add the ground espresso beans, Kahlua, and vanilla and refrigerate until completely chilled.

    3 Pour the espresso cream into an ice-cream freezer and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. Spoon into a container, and allow to freeze for a few hours. Soften slightly before serving.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    Note to Self:
    Before ordering another "italian sub" in South Carolina, please read the menu carefully to make sure this one does not include bologna.

    Sunday, August 19, 2007

    San Diego & Las Vegas Vacation

    As many of you know, food usually plays a large part of our vacation plans. Here is a SMALL taste of our week in San Diego and Vegas....

    What a better way to start a vacation than finding a slice of NY style pizza. Two thumbs up to Ciro's Pizzeria! (534 Market Street, San Diego)

    Soleil @ K, San Diego Marriot

    to end the meal, each table is given cotton candy

    Vegas Baby

    In Room Snacks at the Wynn

    The waiter at the Taqueria CaƱonita in the Venitian hotel saw my camera on the table and asked if we wanted him to take our photo - umm, thanks, I think

    Terrace Point Cafe, Wynn Casino

    I love this photo. I had just ordered a watermelon margarita and dad was telling us a hysterical story about a group of friends, a blender, and the consequences of letting Rebecca and Ed concoct the drinks :)

    We were comp'd two free buffets at the Wynn, so we decided to take advantage. We aren't usually buffet people, but it was clean and beautiful.

    At the Vegas airport. We didn't buy anything here, but it struck me funny for some reason