Sunday, December 30, 2007

Wiener schnitzel

I got a copy of the Berghoff Family Cookbook for Christmas, and leafing through it inspired me to make my favorite Berghoff meal, weiner schitzel. It's pretty easy, actually. Probably the most difficult part is finding nice veal cutlets. I did not use their recipe for creamed spinach, preferring my own, which uses fresh spinach and garlic, not frozen and granulated.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lamb Curry

Lamb Curry

1 lb lamb stew meat
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 sweet potatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
2 cups chicken stock
1 bunch spinach, washed and stemmed

Saute the lamb in a heavy casserole until it is browned on all sides. Remove to a plate. Add the onion and garlic to the casserole and saute until the onion softens and begins to caramelize. Add the curry powder and saute until fragrant, about a minute. Add the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and chicken stock, and return the lamb to the stew. Cover and cook on low heat for an hour until the lamb is tender. Add the spinach and cook until the greens are wilted. If the sauce needs thickening, add a slurry of cornstarch and water at the finish.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sweet Sides

We've become quite fond of the lamb sausage at Whole Foods. It's an inexpensive, quick protein for a weeknight dinner. Inspired by the middle eastern spiceway of the sausage, I came up with the following sides.

Fancy Weeknight Couscous

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
pinch saffron
pinch cloves
pinch coriander
1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Saute the vegetables in a little olive oil until the onions are translucent. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the spices and stir over the heat for a minute to release the essential oils. Add the couscous, raisins, and the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the couscous is tender. Toss with the pecans and serve.

Carrots and Leeks

An inexpensive side dish using winter vegetables that's just yummy.

Slice a couple of leeks in half and wash them carefully. Chop the leeks into 1/2 inch pieces. Saute in a little olive oil in a large pan until they begin to wilt. Meanwhile, peel 3-4 large carrots and chop them into 1/2 inch coins. Add the carrots to the pan. Add a little water or chicken stock (1/2 cup or so) and bring to a boil. Cook down until most of the liquid has evaporated and the carrots are tender. If you have some fresh thyme, toss a few leaves in. Salt and pepper to taste. Just at the finish, add a couple tablespoons of butter and stir in until it has melted.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Seasonal Soup

Mark Bittmann's "Minimalist" column in the New York Times is one of my favorite "what's for dinner" resources. Last week, he offered a seasonal soup made with zucchini and pears. It can be served cold or warm, and is terrific with open-faced melted cheese sandwiches. Here is my version, topped with a little chopped mint. I might also indulge in a bit of creme fraiche or sour cream next time, to enrich the soup and balance out the sweetness.

Apple Pie Imitation

This being fall, and apples being on sale at Whole Foods, I was moved to bake an apple pie. Earlier this summer, we had the best pie ever from a little farmers' market in Wisconsin near Nick's camp. Their signature pie is baked in a paper bag; I sought to try this method. I found the farmers' market's recipe and gave it a whirl. Sadly, my pie dough rolling skills are less than passable, so it wasn't the prettiest pie around, but it sure tasted good.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Spinach Salad Variation No. 906

Chicken sausages were on sale at the new Whole Foods this week, so I picked up some of the my favorites, the ones with spinach, garlic, and feta. For an accompaniment, I cobbled together this spinach salad, and it was pretty tasty.

Spinach Salad with Winter Fruits

1 bag baby spinach leaves
2 navel oranges
1/2 purple onion, sliced thinly
seeds from 1 pomegranate
2 oz goat cheese
raspberry vinaigrette

Peel the orange with a knife and supreme the wedges into a salad bowl. Add the spinach leaves and the onion slices. Toss with the vinaigrette. Salt and pepper to taste. Plate. Top each salad with a few dollops of goat cheese and a spoonful of pomegranate seeds.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Sour Cherry Spritzer

Last week, the New York Times ran a story about summer drinks that included a wonderful remembrance by Elaine Scolino of an afternoon in Shiraz drinking a "ruby-colored iced drink that came in a tall glass set on a painted tray." It caught my imagination; food as memory, shared experience with people you care about. When I spotted sour cherries for sale at the Printer's Row farmer's market on Saturday, I had to try them. I had never tasted sour cherries before; they are soft-skinned and tart, more complex than bing cherries. I boiled them in sugar water, strained them well, and chilled the syrup. Pour a little over plenty of ice, top with sparkling water, and serve with a wedge of lime--a wonderful, refreshing summer drink. The kids have been making these nonstop all week; I hope I can find more cherries at the market this week.

Sour Cherry Spritzer

2 pints sour cherries
5 cups sugar
2 cups water
juice of 2 limes

Combine the sugar, water, and lime juice in a medium saucepan. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Tie the cherries in a double-layer of cheesecloth, and drop into the saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes. Pull off the heat and allow to cool. Lift the cherries out of the syrup and squeeze to get all of the juice out. Pour into a small pitcher and chill well.

Fill a glass with ice. Fill the bottom third of the glass with sour cherry syrup. Top with cold seltzer water. Serve with a lime wedge.
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Monday, June 11, 2007

First Day of Summer Vacation

Nick and his dad went to the Printer's Row Book Fair yesterday and picked up a kid's cookbook that is part of the marketing juggernaut for the new Pixar film, Ratatouille. He pretty quickly found a few recipes that he wanted to try, so we have spent the first day of summer vacation shopping and cooking. For breakfast, he made crepes. Actually, we prepared the batter last night before bed; a quick whisk this morning, a hot pan and some butter, and we were in production.

Lacking any really tasty fillings (Nutella, bananas, chocolate chips, fresh berries, whipped cream), we had to make do with peanut butter and jelly, with a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

Dinner was a much more elaborate affair. Nick wanted to try vichyssoises, which sounded perfect to me on a warm summer day. He was also intrigued by a recipe for "faux escargots," essentially pinwheel sandwiches with a gherkin dressed up with chives tucked underneath. Actually, they were kind of cute.

(Of course Nick's dad had to add the tongue to his.) The soup was wonderful, rich and velvety, with a great fresh green edge from the leeks. Simple to make, too--just boiled potatoes, leeks, chicken stock, salt and pepper, with a little (OK, a lot) of cream added at the finish. Definitely a keeper.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lobster Fest

Today is dear hubby's birthday, so I decided to try a new recipe I saw in this month's Gourmet Magazine. Lobster, parboiled, split, and then grilled, served on arugula, with boiled new potatoes and a basil vinaigrette.

Nick and I procured four fresh crustaceans after school at Dirk's Seafood. Fairly outrageously priced at $20/pound (thanks, Mom!), they were lively fellows upon arrival in the refrigerator.

Nick helped with the gory part. We had to slaughter them two at a time.

The lobsters were parboiled in about four minutes. We took them out to cool a bit, and then pulled the claws off and split them down the middle.

We grilled them for about three minutes a side.

Here is the birthday boy, beaming over his "catch."

Voila! The finished product. Dressed with a basil vinaigrette and served atop arugula and boiled new potatoes.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Nick's Nicoise Salad

I had an evening meeting last week and no time to make dinner, so I asked Nick to step in. I had all of the ingredients for nicoise salad on hand, so I quickly wrote out a recipe and left him with a cutting board and a mixing bowl. This plate was waiting for me when I returned from my meeting, hungry and tired. What a delight!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Better Burger

Inspired by Mark Bittman's recent article in the New York Times, we decided to try to grind our own beef last night for better burgers. Hubby stopped at his new favorite butcher and picked up a five-pound chuck roast. Following Bittman's suggestion, we pulled out the food processor, chopped the roast into one-inch cubes, and pulsed it in batches to the desired consistency. Hubby then formed a few burgers, seasoned them liberally, and blessed them on the grill. The verdict: definitely better than store-bought ground beef. The taste was meatier, and the burger was juicier. Next time, I would use the meat grinder attachment we have for the mixer to do the dirty deed. I'd also season the meat mixture, rather than just the burger exterior, and perhaps sneak a pat of butter into the heart of the burger (a trick I recently learned from Ina Garten).

Saturday, May 19, 2007

What Nick Made for Dinner

Nick made dinner on Thursday night. He wrote the recipe up for a homework project. This is his essay.

On May 17, 2007 I made tilapia fish cakes. first I made tarter sauce. I took 3 scoops of Mayo. Then I put 2 scoops of relish in. then I put in 10 drops of hot sauce. Then I taste tested it. Next I got out the tilapia and got oil on it then I put on salt and pepper on the Tilapia. Then flipped the tilapia over and put salt and pepper on the other side. then we Then we put it in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Then we made mixture for the Tilapia we put in 2 eggs mayo lime juice and lime shavings all in a bowl and mixed it up. Then crumbled up the tilapia in the bowl the other stuff and mixed it up.

Then we crushed some Ritz crackers and rolled the fishcakes in them and fried them. Here is Nick with the finished product:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Salmon with Angel Hair in Vodka Sauce

I'm trying to cook from the pantry and the freezer as much as possible this week. I found a piece of salmon buried under the ice cream, a few lemons in the fridge, and a can of tomatoes in the pantry, so I cobbled this together, inspired by a fancier recipe I found on Epicurious. The kids devoured it, and hubby smiled, so I think it's a keeper.

Salmon with Angel Hair Pasta in Vodka Sauce

3 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup vodka
1 lemon
1 bag baby spinach
1 onion, chopped
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 pound salmon filet

In a small saucepan, mix the chicken stock, cream, and vodka and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced by 1/3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and heat the broiler. In a large skillet, saute the chopped onion until it begins to caramelize. Add the spinach and saute until it wilts. Add the chopped tomatoes, and cook down a bit. Pour the stock/cream/vodka mixture into the sauteed vegetables, and continue to cook down. Season the fish and pop it in the broiler; cook until done. After you take the fish out of the oven, cook the pasta. Dump the cooked pasta into the sauce. Serve the pasta, topped with a piece of the salmon.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Easy Macaroni Salad

It feels like summer, and that puts me in the mood for macaroni salad. My Aunt Cal used to make the best macaroni salad ever--cool and creamy, with just enough crunch and bite to be interesting. I put this weeknight salad together last week with the help of some store-bought shortcuts--not my usual method, but pretty tasty nonetheless.

Weeknight Macaroni Salad

1 pound macaroni
1 jar Marzetti slaw dressing
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1 bag broccoli slaw
2 tsp curry powder

Cook the macaroni. Rinse in cold water. Toss with the red bell pepper, onion, and broccoli slaw. Add the curry powder and salt and pepper to taste. Chill.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Spring Treats

The produce section of the market is getting more fun as the spring fruits and vegetables appear. Last week, I invited foodie friends for brunch and decided to try a spring theme. At Nick's behest, I made two kinds of souffle: a big asparagus one and six, individual goat cheese ones in ramekins. On the side, we served twisty bacon strips and the most delicious strawberry rhubarb crisp with whipped cream. The rhubarb was glorious--tart and sweet and new.

Later in the week, I found these lovely red artichokes at Stanley's Produce and had to bring them home. Kind of disappointing, they lose their color when steamed, but they were delicious nonetheless. Nick took one in to school for lunch the next day. Artichokes are such "involvement" food--I don't know why people don't serve them to children more often. What could be better than tearing your vegetable apart piece by piece and dipping it in lemon butter as you go.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

4 cups strawberries, halved
4 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
10 tablespoons cold butter

Combine the strawberries, rhubarb, 1 cup sugar, orange zest, cornstarch, and orange juice. Grease a glass casserole dish and dump the fruit in. In a clean bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Cut the butter into the flour/sugar mix until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle on top of the fruit mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until fruit is bubbly and topping is beginning to brown. Serve warm or at room temperature with creme fraiche or whipped cream.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring Pasta

I saw Giada deLaurentis make some simple pasta dishes on the Today show a couple of days ago, and got inspired. She made one with penne, slices of strip steak, and arugula. Here is my riff on that recipe, using the fancy olive oil I brought back from San Francisco.

Penne with Tuna and Spring Vegetables

1 pound penne
1 pound tuna steak
1 pound asparagus
1 box cherry tomatoes
2 handfuls arugula
Stonehouse Persian Lime Olive Oil

Trim woody ends off of asparagus and chop into pieces about an inch long. Place the arugula in a large serving bowl. Generously oil and pepper the tuna steak. Saute or cook on the grill until done. Set aside. Throw the pasta in some boiling water. While the pasta cooks, in a medium saute pan, saute the asparagus in a generous among of Persian lime olive oil until it begins to soften. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until they begin to burst. Dump the cooked pasta onto the arugula in the serving bowl and top with the sauteed asparagus and tomatoes. Toss well. Slice the tuna steak. Serve the pasta topped with a few slices of tuna.
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We had many wonderful meals in San Francisco, including scallops with coconut-pineapple sauce at the Slanted Door, fried shrimp balls in Chinatown, and grilled fava beans at Zuni Cafe. But the standout was the fresh oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. We stopped there in the late afternoon and sat outside, on the waterfront, with a view of the Bay Bridge and the ferries moving in and out. Ordered a mixture of the waitress's favorite varieties, sweetwaters and two others that I can't remember. The combination of the setting, the pristine shellfish, and a crisp savignon blanc was sublime.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Last-Minute Cake

Dinner prep was easy tonight (grilled chicken, rice, and salad), so I thought I'd throw something special together for dessert. Here is my adaptation of a recipe I found in this month's Oprah magazine. It's nice, because the cake is made from staples, and I usually have some fruit around to top it. I'm sure it would be good with plums or peaches, any kind of berry--even pineapple would be tasty.

Last-Minute Cake

1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1 stick butter
10 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 egg
2 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
handful of blackberries
juice of half a lemon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add 6 tablespoons of the sugar and stir. Take the saucepan off of the heat and set it aside for a few minutes to cool. Meanwhile, butter a springform cake pan. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl. Slice the apples about 1/4-inch thick and toss with the lemon juice.

Add the egg to the butter/sugar mixture and stir well to combine. Add the dry ingredients and stir together. Turn the cake batter out into the greased pan. Top with the apples and blackberries, arranging prettily. Sprinkle remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar on top of the fruit. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake is done. Serve warm with ice cream for maximum deliciousness.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Nick Tries Sardines

Nick Tries Sardines
Originally uploaded by mickeynick.
We shopped at August Grocery again Friday after school, and Nick found this tin of sardines while I was in the back buying halibut. He wanted to try them, so they came home with us. Turns out Marshall likes them, too. Nick took particular delight in eating the bones. I just really dig the box.

Fun with Mini Marshmallows

Friday, March 16, 2007


It's the first warm Sunday this spring, so it's time to pretend it's summer and throw some ribs on the barbeque. I would have preferred starting these with a good spice rub and slow roasting them in the oven before taking them to the grill for a smoky finish. But, I figure we have all summer to experiment with spices and methods. And yes, those are Christmas lights still up on my balcony railing.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Lentils for Lent

Here's another recipe from Everyday Food; curried lentils with tomato sauce. Served over a hot bed of basmati rice, with a warm piece of naan on the side. Inexpensive, easy, and delicious. I used a new curry powder I got from the Spice House--it was wonderfully piquant.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Homemade Potstickers

Here's an easy weeknight recipe for homemade potstickers. I served these tonight with whole-wheat pasta with snow peas, carrots, red bell peppers and peanut sauce, a riff on a recipe from this month's Everyday Food.

Pretty Good Potstickers

1 package gyoza wrappers
1 lb ground pork
5 green onions, chopped
3 tablespoons Whole Foods soy ginger sauce
chicken stock

Mix the pork, green onions, and soy ginger sauce until well combined. Lay two gyoza wrappers on top of one another. Dip your finger in water and "paint" the edges of the wrapper. Fill the wrapper with a scant tablespoon full of the filling, and fold it into a triangle. Lay the potstickers on a parchment lined sheet pan. Refrigerate until ready to cook. Heat a large, nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Fill the pan with potstickers, making sure not to overlap. Let them fry for a couple of minutes until lightly browned on one side. Turn. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of chicken stock. Bring to a boil and cook until most of the stock evaporates and potstickers are brown and crunchy on one side. Serve.
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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Marvelous Mussels

Nick and I stopped at a new place on the way home from school, August Grocery on Division. A wonderful little market, with lots of fresh fish, quality ingredients, and a friendly staff. We picked up a couple of pounds of mussels, some parsley, shallots, and pasta, and I made moules mariniere for dinner. Yum. Nick has almost finished his plate. Next time, I want to try the skatewing.
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Monday, February 19, 2007


Originally uploaded by mickeynick.
Skip and Barb recently visited from Buffalo, which occasioned the making of Skip's famous crabcakes. Originally from Maryland, Skip knows a thing or two about shellfish. His recipe features crab, a little Old Bay seasoning, crab, some fresh breadcrumbs, crab, a dollop of mayo, crab, some beaten egg, and crab.

We added a homemade remoulade sauce, some crisp cole slaw, and a green salad, and a delicious dinner was enjoyed by all.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Dessert for Breakfast

Sometimes, Foodiemom is just not in the mood to cook and you've just got to go out for breakfast. So it was the morning before Nick's karate performance test. To fortify him for two hours of punching and kicking, we went to the Bongo Room on Roosevelt for a hearty repast. He ordered the "half" portion of the S'mores Pancakes--two gigantic cakes, sprinkled with sliced bananas and slathered with chocolate sauce and creme anglais.
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Retro App

On a cold winter Sunday afternoon, nothing beats a hot dip. I used to make this in the 80s, but stopped in a fit of health consciousness. Now, I've brought it back, for a limited time only.

Artichoke Dip

1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
several dashes Tabasco

Mix ingredients together. Place in an ovenproof baking dish (I use ceramic soup bowls). Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve with tortilla or pita chips.

Happy Breakfast

I may be the cook around here, but my dear husband is the master of presentation and food styling. Here is some pineapple and mini-muffins, dressed up for breakfast.