Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

  • Parsnip apple soup
  • Pork loin in the style of porchetta
  • Roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and pepitas
  • Roasted kabocha squash with pomegranates, walnut oil, pomegranate molasses and thyme

Friday, November 25, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash with Quinoa, Dates and Sage

adapted from Tyler Florence

1 Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
8 sage leaves, torn
10 dates sliced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

- Preheat oven to 350

- Toss squash with oil, salt and pepper on baking sheet and roast in oven until fork tender

- Meanwhile, toast quinoa in a dry pan, until you just start to smell a toasted scent

- Add water to quinoa, bring to a boil and simmer covered until water is absorbed

- In a small skillet, saute dates and sage in a little oil for 1 - 2 minutes

- Mix all ingredients in a large boil and add just enough olive oil for the ingredients to stick together

Thanksgiving 2011

Jason and I took over our first Thanksgiving meal this year at my in-law's house. My mother-in-law did the turkey and we did everything else. I have to say, these were some of the best Thanksgiving sides I've ever had.

I hope everyone has had a year filled with many occasions to be thankful! 

Homemade Macaroni & Cheese with Peas and Pearl Onions Agrodolce

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Pepitas

Chestnut Fennel Dressing

Blanched Green Beans with Sauteed Almonds

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tofu Green Curry, Spring Rolls and Zucchini Cakes with Curried Dipping Sauce

Sunday night cooking at our house last night. I had spring roll wrappers and chopped veggies at the ready, a half block of tofu and 3/4 can of coconut milk leftover in the fridge and a gorgeous zucchini from the farmer's market. This meal was born, a blend of thai and middle eastern flavors. The zucchini pancakes were an old favorite, spiced up with a new dipping sauce, the spring rolls a new favorite I foresee making frequently in the future.

Tofu Green Curry

Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Zucchini Cakes with Curried Dipping Sauce

Spring Rolls

This recipe was adapted from Martin Yan's vietnamese rice-paper rolls recipe. The rolls turned out really well and the dipping sauce is one of the best parts.

- 2 ounces bean thread noodles
- shredded carrots
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
- pinch of ground black pepper
- 12 7 inch rice paper rounds
- Tofu, cut into strips
- Bell pepper, cut into strips
- soft tops of 12 red leaf lettuce leaves
- 3 green onions, trimmed and cut into thin 2 inch strips
- 12 cilantro sprigs

1) Bring saucepan of water to a boil, add bean thread noodles and turn off the heat. Let soak until softened, about 15 minutes (check package for precise directions on how to cook your noodles)

2) Gently toss the tofu, fish sauce, sesame oil, chopped cilantro and pepper in a bowl until the tofu is evenly coated. set aside.

3) To make the rolls:  Immerse rice paper round in warm water just until it begins to soften, about 10 seconds, then lay it on the work surface. Let stand until it pecomes pliable, about 1 minute. place a couple of tofu strips, in the center of the rice paper. Place lettuce leave on top. place bell pepper strips and carrot over the lettuce and top with a small mound of noodles, 3 to 4 strips of green onions and a cilantro sprig. Fold the right and left sides of the wrapper over the filling, then starting at the bottom, roll the wrapped and filling into a neat, compact roll. repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

Makes 12 rolls

peanut dipping sauce

- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder

combine all ingredients in a bowl, stirring until incorporated. makes one cup.

Zucchini Cakes with Curried Dipping Sauce

I adore zucchini pancakes and love pairing them with different dipping sauces. We are starting to see beautiful zucchini in gardens and at the markets and I couldn't resist making this today.


1 - 1 1/2 lb zucchini
1 small white onion
1 egg
6 Tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper

- Heat oven to 200

- Using a box grater, grate the zucchini and onion. Set in a colander and let drain for awhile (30 minutes recommended).

- Squeeze out as much of the excess liquid as possible and lay the vegetables out on paper towels.

- Lightly beat the egg.

- In a large bowl combine the zucchini onion mixture, egg, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.

- On the stove top heat a skillet with oil over medium high heat

- Drop spoonfuls of the batter onto the skillet and flatten. Cook on one side until crispy and brown then flip.

- Set cakes on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil and move to an oven proof plate to keep warm while finishing the rest.

- Continue this way until all of the batter is gone, adding extra oil to the skillet as needed


8 oz. plain yogurt
2 Tbsp curry
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp harissa

- Mix all ingredients in a bowl and chill until serving.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Garlic Scape and Tomato Pasta

I've been trying to come up with some new ways to use garlic scapes. I managed to go for a run in this ungodly heat and after a long, cold shower I was starving! Luckily I had some leftover, plain cooked pasta from a few days before, several garlic scapes, a couple of fresh onions from the Corner Farm and one last jar of canned tomatoes left over from last summer. This is a quick and light pasta that didn't even make me regret turning on the stove top!


Olive oil
2 garlic scapes, sliced
pinch red pepper flakes
2-3 small spring onions sliced
1 cup or so of crushed tomatoes
splash balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
pasta, either left over or cooked according to package

- Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic scapes, pinch of salt, several turns of freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes and sautee until the scapes get nice and green

- Add the onions and continue cooking, turning down the heat if needed.

- Add the tomatoes and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Bring to a simmer and then turn down to heat through. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

- Add the pasta and toss with the sauce.

- Remove from the heat, chiffonade 8 or so leaves of basil and stir in

- Transfer pasta to bowls and serve with some freshly grated parmesan

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Grilled Keftas with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce and a Cucumber, Tomato, Feta Salad

We were craving middle eastern last night and decided to revisit a recipe for grilled keftas (ground lamb skewers) and try out a yogurt-tahini sauce to bring to our friends' house for dinner. I threw together a quick tomato, cucumber, feta salad and served everything with pita, carmelized red onions and sauted yellow peppers. The keftas are an old favorite, the yogurt tahini sauce a new favorite, every bit of it was sopped up with pita!

Follow the link for the recipes...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Potato, Arugula and Herb Frittata

Potato, Arugula and Herb Frittata
- 2 small red potatoes, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1 small yellow or white onion, thinly sliced
- Approx. 2 oz. arugula, stem ends removed and leaves roughly chopped*
- 8 organic eggs
- large handful parsley
- 10-12 basil leaves, chiffonade
- some chopped tarragon**
-  Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
Tabasco (optional)
*if you can’t find arugula, use spinach
** use whatever herbs you enjoy or have handy
Preheat the oven to 425
In a cast iron skillet (or other skillet that can go on top of and in the stove) heat 3 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat.
Add the potatoes and cook, stirring, for about 2-3 minutes
Add the onion, some salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened, about another 8 minutes
Add the arugula and cook until wilted, about a minute
Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk the eggs, herbs, salt and pepper
Once the arugula is wilted, add the egg mixture to the skillet
Cook for about 6-8 minutes, or until the center is starting to set
Put the skillet in the oven and cook for another 5 minutes (if you want, turn it up to broil for the last minute to get the top to brown a little)
Let cool slightly and serve with a dash of Tabasco if you like.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Radish Salad

Jason put together a new batch of lemon confit which is ready to try out. I went for a nice long, cool run this morning on the lake front and stopped by the Green City Farmer's Market afterward. To my delight they had icicle radishes (I haven't had any yet this season).

I was feeling a little peckish and wanted a late afternoon snack. I took a look around and decided to thrown together:

several radishes
1/2 minced confited lemon
1/2 oz feta

The radish and lemon confit on their own didn't exactly work, but with the feta it was delicious. I'm going to have to think of some mediterranean style feta and lemon confit combinations to try out!

Aitor's Gazpacho and Vichyssoise Soups

The men recently did some supper club cooking and Aitor supplied a trio of soups (red, white and blue for 4th of July!). The Gazpacho and Vichyssoise were absolutely amazing. The blueberry soup was delicious, but sweet, more of a dessert. Either way, they will all make appearances frequently through the summer. The recipes for the gazpacho and vichyssoise are below


6 ripe tomatoes
1/2 cucumber, peeled
1 small green pepper, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic
2 slices white bread
3 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp vinegar
**dash hot sauce (optional)

-Put all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth. Pass soup through a colander and chill before serving


2 leeks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup thinly sliced potatoes
2 1/3 cups chicken stock
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 1/8 cups heavy whipping cream

- Sweat the leeks and onion in a sauce pan with the butter

- Once softened, add the potatoes, stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for 30 minutes.

- Add to blender and puree until smooth. Chill. Stir in cream before serving.

Chilled Cucumber Soup

Adapted from this month's Food & Wine. Perfect porch eating dish.

3 cucumbers (abt. 4 oz. each) peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cucumber (abt. 4 oz) peeled and diced
1/2 cup ice cubes
1/4 cup cold water
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 jalapeno seeded and minced
2 Tbsp shredded mint leaves
1/4 cup plain yogurt

- In a blender combine the 3 cucumbers, ice, water, olive oil, lemon juice, half of the jalapeno and half of the mint leaves and puree. Add salt and refrigerate

- When ready to serve, pour soup into bowls and garnish with the diced cucmber, yogurt and remaining jalapeno and mint

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sauteed Beet Greens

We have beautiful little beets coming up in the corner farm and I brought home a handful the other day after watering. The greens were so beautiful and are usually overlooked as an edible part of the plant. Immediately after getting home I cut the greens of the beets and store them in a separate plastic bag in the crisper. They can be sauteed just like any other green and make for a delicious side. I usually discard part of the stems if they are especially long, but like to leave some stem for a little crunch.


- beet greens
- oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- pinch red pepper flakes
- salt

-Heat oil in a pan, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until they just start to sizzle

-Add the beet greens and cook until wilted

-Finish with a dash of salt and serve!

Zucchini Blossoms

I have been loving my time with the Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm. Jason took some great photos on July 3rd and July 10th. The farm is going crazy right now. We had a brief but harsh storm Monday morning and that afternoon I joined a couple of other members to stake up some of the tomato, pepper and corn plants that had gotten knocked around. Several zucchini blossoms had been knocked off the plant and I decided to bring them home and fry them up. I opted for a flour and water batter instead of flour and egg to keep them a little lighter. The blossoms fried up beautifully, I only wish I had grabbed a few more!

The Italians only use the male blossoms, identifiable by their single pistil (which you can remove before cooking). The female blossoms will be attached to the zucchini. I fell in love with this delicacy in Italy before our wedding at Dal Lino Ristorante in Florence. We had them served during the cocktail hour of our reception and I daresay those were one of the greatest bites of food I have ever eaten. Fried zucchini blossoms and sauteed beets greens with dinner last night were such a treat and the best way to kick off the official start of my summer vacation.


zucchini blossoms
water or soda water
mozzarella (or whatever cheese you like)

-In a small bowl mix the flour with enough water so it is the consistency of cream. Add some salt and pepper.

-Stuff the blossoms with a small piece of mozzarella (which I had handy) or any other cheese and even a little salami if you like.

-Heat the oil in a pan, dredge the blossoms in the flour and water mixture, and fry on both sides until golden brown.

-Drain on paper towels and enjoy!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Vanilla Ice Cream with Chopped Plums and Basil

I'm coming into my last week of class and I've been working almost non-stop all weekend. Luckily, I have Jason to take care of me and cook me dinner! He had been pouring through the cookbooks for inspiration and came up with an incredible spinach and goat cheese taco with a grilled chicken breast and pepita sauce. Incredible. Then, dinner was topped off by this simple, perfect summer dessert. I've been eating a lot of stone fruit recently and the plum - basil combination was divine. I'm not usually much of a dessert person but a little bit of this made me very happy. Make sure to buy some high quality vanilla ice cream!

Vanilla Ice Cream (we used Ben & Jerry's)
1 - 2 ripe plums
8 - 10 basil leaves
sprinkle of sugar

Dice the plums, chiffonade the basil, mix together with just a sprinkle of sugar and serve over a scoop of ice cream. Believe me, it's delicious!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Garlic Scape Pesto

I bought a bunch of beautiful garlic scapes recently at the farmer's market (yay summer!). Last year I had purchased a pre-made garlic scape pesto and figured this year I would try to make my own (the one I purchased last summer was delicious but way too garlicky for me).

Taking a look around the kitchen I found a mini bag of walnuts and a giant bunch of parsley and thought that those flavors combined with the garlic scapes would be wonderfully nutty while the parsley would help cut down a bit on the overpowering, headache inducing garlic flavor. And I was right. This pesto is delicious with the perfect amount of bite. Don't be confused, this is not your regular basil pesto, but I can't wait to try it out on some pasta this week or spread on a grilled chicken breast!


2 garlic scapes, cut into pieces
1 large handful fresh parsley
1 oz walnuts (approx)
Parmesan cheese (a couple of Tbsp?)
Dash of salt
Olive oil
Fresh squeezed lemon juice (optional)

-Combine the garlic scapes, parsley, walnuts, parmesan and salt in a food processor.

-With the blade running, drizzle in the olive oil until you get the desired consisteny, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

-Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and a dash of lemon juice if you like

This recipe can be doubled, tripled, whatever you like! I'm planning to make a few batches and freeze some for later in the season!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Abundance of Appetizers

I was adamant this year that I wanted to go out to dinner for my birthday and not to stay home and cook. I've never been one to go out to eat too frequently, and with the grad school budget that frequency has become even smaller. However, this seemed like a good excuse to go out and let someone else cook for us!

However, it's nearly impossible to keep us out of the kitchen for an entire Saturday so we decided to put together a few appetizers and a signature drink to share with our guests before heading out. We poured through a few cookbooks and in a shocking turn of events got a little carried away, but everything was delicious!

Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Asparagus

Ceci Bruschetta


Cucumber Tartine

Sparkling Wine with Watermelon, Ginger and Lime Agua Fresca

Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Asparagus

Ok, the name is a mouthful, but this appetizer is destined to be a hit! An original Jason creation, it was met with great excitement. I recreated the dish and while still good I would recommend that you have the person at your deli counter slice the prosciutto as thin as possible! Also, you want to use the largest asparagus you can find. This appetizer was labor intensive but well worth it.


8 Asparagus spears, as large as you can find
2 oz goat cheese (approx, we bought a 4 oz log and used less than half)
8 thin slices prosciutto (or go ahead and buy a little more for snacking...)

- Break the tough ends off of the asparagus

- Steam the asparagus until tender and beautifully green, removing and shocking in an ice bath

- Once the asparagus has cooled, slice each spear lengthwise into two halves (this is where things get labor intensive)

- With a paring knife, hollow out the center of the asparagus spear

- Using a small spreading knife, spread goat cheese into the hollowed out halves of the asparagus

- Put the two halves back together and wrap in a slice of prosciutto

- Continue with the rest of the asparagus in the same manner

- Put the asparagus on the grill and cook for a couple of minutes on each side

Ceci Bruschetta


1 cup ceci (chickpeas or garbanzo beans)
4 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp basil leaves, chiffonade
1 clove garlic confit
salt and pepper
1 baguette sliced and toasted

- In a bowl mix together all of the ingredients except the bread, adjusting to taste with salt and pepper, and let sit

- On the grill, lightly toast the sliced bread

- Lightly mash some of the chickpeas with a fork and serve with the sliced bread


We served this with grilled baguette slices and slices of mozzarella. Delicious. The recipe came from a book called Farm to Table that Jason and I have been enjoying from the library.


1/3 cup Extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic confit, minced
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
4 Large sweet peppers (we used 2 red, 1 orange and 1 yellow) thinly sliced
2 cups red onion
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
2 Tbsp capers
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves chopped
salt and pepper

- In a large skillet, heat 3 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute about 1 minute

- Add the peppers, onions and thyme, reduce heat to medium and saute until peppers are soft

- Add capers and remaining oil and saute for about a minute. Transfer pepper mixture to a bowl

- Turn off heat, add vinegar to the skillet and reduce by half (the residual heat from the pan should be enough to make this happen, if not, turn heat on low for a minute or two)

- Pour the vinegar over the pepper mixture and add the oregano. Season with salt and pepper.

- Serve over a piece of crusty bread with a slice of mozzarella

Cucumber Tartine

There are few appetizers I enjoy more than little cucumber tea sandwiches. The rest of the appetizers we served definitely had more of a mediterranean feel, but I couldn't resist making this dish!


Several slices whole wheat bread, preferably something with seeds and grains, crusts removed, each slice cut into 2-4 squares
1 cucumber, peeled
4 oz. cream cheese
lemon juice
1 Tbsp parsely (approx)
1 Tbsp dill (approx)
salt and pepper
lemon juice

- Cut the cucumber in half and then halve each piece lengthwise

- Cut one half of the cucumber into very think semi circles. Place in a colander in the sink, sprinkle with salt and let drain

- Dice the other half of the cucumber and add to the cream cheese

- Add the parsley, dill, some salt and pepper and a dash of lemon juice to the cream cheese and mix together, adjusting seasoning as needed

- Just before serving, spread the cream cheese mixture onto the bread

- Arrange the cucmber slices on top of the pieces like fish scales and serve

Watermelon,Ginger and Lime Agua Fresca

I became obsessed with the agua frescas last summer and thought that another flavor combination would be great, particularly with a little sparkling wine to serve as our "signature cocktail" for my birthday appetizer celebration!

I used the juicer which made this recipe very simple. If you don't have a juicer you could definitely process the watermelon in a blender, grate the ginger and wrap it in a cheese cloth and press out the juices and juice the lime by hand, but this seems much easier!


1 Large watermelon slice (not a half, more like a quarter of a melon)
4-5 oz. piece of ginger
1-2 limes

- Juice each of the components separately into their own containers

- Mix the ginger and lime juice into the watermelon bit by bit, adusting for taste and cutting with water

- Chill in the fridge before serving

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Basmati Rice Salad with Asparagus and Leek

We wanted a side dish for our delicious burgers and I decided to raid the fridge and come up with something. Left over basmati rice from our Charlie Trotter cooking extravaganza the night before (more on that later), 6 spears of steamed asparagus and a leek and dinner was ready!


2-3 cups cooked basmati rice
6 spears steamed asparagus, cut on the bias into 1 inch pieces
1 leek, white and light green parts, split, cleaned well and cut into half moons
olive oil
salt and pepper

- In a sauce pan heat the oil on low and saute the leek until soft

- In a large bowl combine the rice, asparagus and leeks

- Toss with dressing and serve room temperature


Juice of 1 lemon
White wine vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

- In a jar add the juice of a lemon and a Tablespoon or so of white wine vinegar

- Add olive oil to taste, whisking as you go

- Add salt and pepper to taste
- In

Blue Cheese Burgers with Red Onion Jam

Bobby Flay knows how to grill. We used his recipe for blue cheese burgers and red onion last weekend and served them with the roasted fingerling potato salad with watercress and horseradish dressing. I did my burgers with blue cheese, Jason and Nancy opted for provolone. Either way, with the red onion jam, dinner was delicious! We'll be enjoying these throughout the summer, and tonight!


1 lb grass fed ground beef
Worcestershire sauce
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Arugula or watercress
Blue cheese or provolone

- Mix the seasonings into the beef. Form into 3 patties, and make an indent with your thumb on the top of the patty. Grill to your desired level of doneness, just before done, add cheese to the top and cover the grill to melt. And don't forget to toast your buns!

- Serve the burgers topped with dijon mustard, red onion jam and arugula or watercress if you'd like


1 medium red onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup red wine
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper

- Halve the onion and slice thinly

- Heat the oil in a sauce pan and saute the onion, with some salt and pepper, until nice and soft

- Add the wine, vinegar, honey and thyme and cook until the liquid is absorbed.

- Set aside and season to taste with salt and pepper

Roasted Fingerling Potato Salad with Watercress Horseradish Dressing

Most of our cooking inspiration these days comes from library books. Almost weekly, Jason heads to the library to get a new book or two (or three). This method has allowed us to try so many new styles and recipes without having to commit to a book that might end up having only one or two interesting recipes.

A recent favorite was Earth to Table: Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann. The book is organized by season and highlights dishes that best encapsulate the spirit of that season which I love.

This recipe was a yummy hit and simple to make. We served it first with a spice rubbed pork tenderloin and made it again to serve with delicious Bobby Flay cheeseburgers. We made a couple of changes, in particular altering how the salad was composed and served. If you can't find fresh horseradish root you could always substitute prepared, and if watercress is nowhere to be found, substitute arugula for a similar, peppery flavor. While the recipe calls for peeling the potatoes, I love living the skin on and everyone agreed this was the way to go with this recipe!


2 lbs fingerling potatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp salt
1-2 bunches watercress

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp freshly grated horseradish root
Salt and pepper to taste

- Preheat the oven to 450

- Toss the potatoes, oil, thyme and salt in a medium bowl

- Spread on a baking dish and roast until very tender, about 30 minutes. Check the potatoes and flip them halfway through the baking, the skins will get a little browned

-  To make the dressing: whisk together the oil, sour cream, vinegar and horseradish. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I ended up adding a little extra horseradish and a dash of lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate while potatoes finish

- Once potatoes are done and have cooled slightly, toss in a large bowl with the watercress

- Serve the salad with the dressing on the side for guests to drizzle themselves

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spring Barley and Millet Risotto with Ramps, Mushrooms and Roasted Asparagus

I'm obviously on a barley kick. It's also ramp and asparagus season and I try to use them in as many ways possible while I can get my hands on them as well as some of the beautiful mushrooms I'm seeing at the Dill Pickle! I saw this recipe from 101 Cookbooks and adapted it to feature some spring vegetables.

1/2 cup millet
1 1/4 cup barley
1 bunch ramps, bulbs and greens separated
1/2 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and spears cut into 1 inch chunks
1/3 lb (approx.) shiitake mushrooms
1/3 lb (approx.) oyster mushrooms
Broth and water (ideally this would be about 5-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, however, I only had a few cups so I added water as well)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 Tbsp butter

-Preheat oven to 400

-Rinse millet and add to a small sauce pan with 1 1/2 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the water is evaporated and millet is cooked through. Add additional water as needed. Remove from heat and set aside

-Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Toss the asparagus pieces with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in oven about 10-15 minutes or until slightly browned. Set aside

-Put water and stock into a small sauce pan and warm on stove.

-Meanwhile start the barley risotto. Slice ramps bulbs thinly. Add about 2 Tbsp olive oil to a large stock pot and sautee ramps with salt and pepper until tender. Add barley and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add stock/water mixture a ladelful or two at a time while stirring. As liquid is absorbed keep adding liquid by the ladleful. This process will take awhile.

-Wipe and slice all of the mushrooms. In a large saute pan heat a Tbsp or 2 of olive oil and saute the mushrooms until just starting to brown. Set aside.

-Slice the ramp greens into small pieces. As the barley is getting close to being done, stir the greens in a handful at a time

-Add grated parmesan (how much is your preference) and 1/2 Tbsp butter to barley and stir

-Add 1/2 or 3/4 of the cooked millet and more liquid if needed.

-Add the set aside asparagus and mushrooms to pot and stir to incorporate. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper and add lemon juice.

*For an extra kick I added a teaspoon full of harissa

**You can make this recipe with just the barley or farro, or even try it as an actual risotto with arborio rice!

Barley with Roasted Mushrooms

I have been eyeing this recipe from Food 52 for several weeks and finally got around to trying it. The original calls for farro, but I substituted pearled barley. Delicious. I loved it warm, room temperature and chilled.


1 cup barley
1/4 lb (approx.) oyster mushrooms
1/4 lb (approx.) shiitake mushrooms
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 Tbsp lemon juice

-Preheat oven to 350

-Rinse barley

-Add barley to a pot and cover with cold water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes, adding more water if needed

-Cut all of the mushrooms into bite sized pieces

-Line a baking sheet with tin foil, toss the mushrooms with salt and pepper and roast until mushrooms are starting to crisp and brown around edges, for about 20 minutes

-Drain barley and set aside barley and mushrooms to cool a little

-Toss together in a bowl, crumble parmesan into pieces and add to bowl with chopped parsley and lemon juice

-Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary

Monday, May 2, 2011

Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm

For the third year, the formerly blighted corner at Altgeld and Sawyer is functioning as a Corner Farm!  I've had intentions of helping out, but haven't made it happen until this year. I figured I'm going to have an awkward amount of free time this summer since all of my summer classes are jammed into the first 6 weeks, except for an online pre-req course I'm taking through a community college, and figured I needed to start getting some activities lined up!

I'm working with the watering team, responsible for watering the entire garden and implementing a couple of experimental irrigation systems in a couple of beds.

I've gone to an organization meeting and an all garden workday. This morning was the first official watering and it felt great being out in the neighborhood in the early hours (7:30am!) and meeting new people! 

Check out the website and if you're in the area, swing by the farm!  The first plants and seedlings are in, looking forward to a great summer!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Peppered Salmon with Creamy Chickpea Dressing

Our good friends came over on Friday night with some beautiful salmon filets. We adapted this recipe from Tyler Florence.  I loved the thought of the chickpea dressing and using our pimenton dolce (sweet smoked paprika) instead of just regular sweet paprika added a lovely other dimension that was perfect with our decision to grill the fish. We also diced finely a couple of confit lemon wedges which were a perfect accompaniment to the fish and dressing!

-serves 5

Several nice salmon filets, we had about 6 pieces
Black pepper

-sprinkle filets with black pepper and coriander

-grill skin side down without flipping with lid mostly closed


1 can chickpeas
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
Less than 1 teaspoon pimenton dolce (substitute 1 tsp sweet paprika)
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper

-Drain and rinse chickpeas

-In a bowl add the chickpeas, olive oil, cumin, pimenton, lemon juice and some salt and pepper

-Spoon half of chickpea mixture into mini food processor and blend until smooth. Add water a bit at a time to get desired consistency

-Mix the pureed vinaigrette back in with the rest of the chickpea mixture

TO SERVE: spoon vinaigrette over cooked salmon filets. Mince 1 - 2 confit lemon wedges and serve in a bowl on the side to add on top of the vinaigrette as your guests desire!

Lemon Confit

Jason made this confit of lemon using a recipe from Chef Gerald Hirigoyen's book, Pintxos. Since our travels last year to the Basque Country and  our stay in San Sebastian, there has been a lot of interest in our house in Basque cooking and Jason is intrigued with the pintxos! Once he made the lemon we weren't exactly sure what to do with them. Tasting them on their own they seemed a little odd, perhaps too salty. But they were incredible combined with incredible tuna belly our Basque friends brought over, or served with the peppered salmon with creamy chickpea dressing.

-makes 1 quart jar

5 lemons quartered lengthwise
1 star anise pod
1/2 Tbsp coriander seed
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar

-Put the quartered lemons in a quart jar.

-Add the star anise, coriander, salt and sugar

-bring water to a boil and add boiling water to jar, filling to the rim

-Let cool then cover tightly and turn jar a couple of times to combine the ingredients

-Store at room temperature, on your counter, turning the jar occasionally for 3 weeks

-Store in the fridge after opened for up to a month

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Lemons and Capers Topped with a Scallop and Creme Fraiche Drizzle

So, I have not been keeping up with blogging.  Fitting since I've barely done any cooking recently. However, after a couple of incredible stressful and busy weeks at school and 3 major projects submitted today, I arrived home and decided it was my turn to cook!

After an ill-fated trip to Whole Foods without a wallet during rush hour, I regrouped, gather my materials and started cooking!  I had randomly come across this recipe on Food 52 earlier in the day when looking up a farro and roasted mushroom dish I plan to make over the weekend. I've been eyeing the israeli couscous in my cabinet and waiting for the day I can recreate my israeli couscous, ramps, asparagus and mushroom dish from last spring, it's almost time!

With the scallop this dish becomes a meal, especially when accompanied by a little arugula, watercress and radish salad in a dijon vinaigrette. We drank an old standby, Kung Fu Girl Reisling from Washington which is always lovely and the price is right.



1 lemon
1 cup diced onion
1 1/4 cups israeli couscous
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon capers
5 caper berries, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

-Preheat the over to 350 degrees.

-Slice the lemon very thinly, I used a mandolin. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

-Roast the lemons until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. I set the timer for 10 minutes and then checked in 1-2 minute increments so the lemons didn't burn.

-Remove from the oven, let cool, and chop. 

-Heat oil in a sauce pan, saute onion with salt and pepper until softened

-Add couscous and saute until golden, about 4 minutes. 

-Add 2 cups chicken broth, the lemon pieces, and capers. Bring to a simmer and cover, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. About two minutes before it is done, add the caper berries.

-Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in parsley
Scallop and Creme Fraiche Drizzle:

2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons chicken broth
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup creme fraiche
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 large scallops

-Saute the shallots in a bit of olive oil over medium heat until translucent.

-Add the wine and cook until almost evaporated. 

-Add the broth and reduce for about 3 minutes. 

-Add the lemon juice and zest and the creme fraiche and stir. 

-Simmer for 2-3 minutes and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

-Heat pan over high heat.  Sear scallops on each side for about 1 1/2 minutes or until scallop is just barely cooked through

-Lay down some couscous on a plate, top with a scallop and drizzle with creme fraiche

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sauteed Chickpeas with Ham and Kale

Catching up with the blog...  This was a really yummy dish from Food & Wine.  I didn't realize it was intended as a side dish so it really only produced about 3 meal size portions.  In the future I might double it to have as a dish for two people to eat several times throughout the week! 

I had also never cooked with annatto seeds before, also called achiote.  After some internet research I found that annatto is often referred to as "poor man's saffron" and is used to give color to dishes.  A pinch of paprika or turmeric or a combo of both was most often recommended as a substitute. Turns out the Dill Pickle Co-op does sell bulk annatto seeds so I proceeded with the recipe as described.  Your local grocer might have some as well, if not try the pinch of paprika/turmeric substitution.


2 Tbso annatto seeds
6 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion cut into 1 inch dice
1 small can of diced tomatoes, some liquid drained off
one 4oz piece of smoked cured ham, sliced 1/2 inch thick and diced
salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
one 19oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp ancho chile powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup water
1/2 pound kale, stems discarded and leaves chopped
fresh lemon juice

--In a small sauce pan cook the annatto seeds in the olive oil over low heat for 5 minutes.  Strain the oil through a seive over a bowl or jar and discard the seeds.  Set the infused oil aside

--In a larget skillet or dutch oven, heat 2 Tbsp of the annatto oil.  Add the onion and cook over medium heat until the onion starts to brown, about 8 minutes

--Add the tomates and ham and season with salt and pepper.  Cook over high heat for about 3 minutes.  Scrape the mixture into a bowl

--Wipe out the skillet or dutch oven, add the rest of the annatto oil (I didn't quite use all of it) and the garlic and cook over medium heat about 2 minutes. 

--Add the chickpeas and cook on med-high heat about 3 minutes, or until the chickpeas are about to brown

--Add the ancho chili powder, oregano and cook 1 minute

--Add the tomato and ham mixture and water and bring to a boil

--Lower the heat to medium, add the kale leaves, cover and cook until the kale is tender, about 5 minutes

--Stir in some lemon juice to taste (1-2 Tbsp) and season with salt and pepper

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jambalaya with Creole Seasoning

It's that time of year and I was inspired to make jambalaya!  I used an Emeril Lagasse recipe off of the food network that I found online.  The original recipe called for shrimp but since Jason didn't want any, I eliminated the shrimp and upped the chicken and andouille a bit.  I've tried making jambalaya in the past but it always ended up a bit flavorless, not the case with this one.  Really flavorful and just the right amount of spicy!  Some of the reviews of the recipe I saw found the dish to be too salty.  The creole seasoning is pretty salty, so I used less than the 2 Tbsp recommended.  If you are using a canned broth or seasoned canned tomatoes, you might want to cut some more of the salt in the spice mix.  I used homemade broth which I purposely undersalt and my tomatoes had no salt added so I found the results to be perfectly seasoned!


6 oz. chicken diced (1 boneless breast)
1 Tbsp Creole Seasoning (recipe at end)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp hot sauce
3/4 cup rice (I used brown rice)
3 cups chicken stock
6 oz andouille sausage, sliced

- - In a bowl combine the chicken with the creole seasoning and set aside

--  In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil on high and cook the onions, green peppers and celery for 3 minutes

-- Add the garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, worcestershire and hot sauce

--  Stir in the rice and slowly add the broth.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until the rice absorbs the liquid and becomes tender.  Since I used brown rice this took longer than I expected.  I also added 2 cups of the liquid at first, cooked that down for awhile and then added the third cup.  I kept a little extra broth on the side just in case the liquid cooked off too rapidly. 

--  Add the chicken and sausage and a dash more liquid if necessary and cook until meats are cooked through, about ten more minutes. 

--  Taste and season with salt, pepper and creole seasoning, but honestly I didn't add a thing! 


2 1/2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp dried oregano

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Dinner

The last 3 of 4 Valentine's Day celebrations have been spent with our friends Matt and Rosemarie.  Rosemarie and I get to sit back while the boys plan, plot, scheme and ultimately labor to serve us an incredible meal.  This year, they may have outdone themselves! 


You can also check out some of Rosemarie's photos from the evening here as well as pictures from the 2009 extravaganza

Cake & Coffee

For the dessert portion of our meal, I have invited a guest blogger, aka my husband Jason, to describe his mad baking and molecular gastronomy skills!

Dessert was based on the Scrivo family phrase "Cake and coffee" which I understand to be a way to finish a meal, a celebration, or any of a myriad of Scrivo family events.  My vision was to update the typical cake and coffee with playful dessert based on some other gelees I have been making recently.

The cake part was simple.  Amy had given me a madeline pan for Christmas, and I had only used it to make savory madelines.  The cake would be the first sweet madelines from the pan.  My friend and partner in this menu, Matt Freeman, executed most of the chocolate madeline recipe.  The coffee part of dessert was a coffee with cream and sugar gelee topped with a vanilla cream foam served in a coffee cup on the plate with the madelines.  It became a coffee you eat with a spoon.  The dessert afforded me an opportunity to break out the molecular gastronomy kit that Amy had given me for Christmas 2009.

Chocolate Madelines

50g all purpose flour
45g unsweetened cocoa
pinch salt
2 eggs
100g sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
butter to butter pan

--  Butter madeline pan and place in the refrigerator

--  Sift flour, cocoa, and salt together

--  Blend the eggs and sugar together with an electric mixer.  Fold in the flour and then the melted butter.

--  Fill each mold about 3/4 full with the batter, and place in the refrigerator.

--  Heat oven to 425F and bake for 7 minutes.

--  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Coffee Gelee

300 ml coffee with cream and sugar
2 g carageenan

--  Make the coffee.  Flavor with cream and sugar to desired dessert flavor.

--  Pour coffee solution into a pan on the stove.  Bring to a boil and add carageenan.  Whisk to dissolve.

--  Transfer coffee to individual mugs and let cool on the counter until no longer steaming.  Move to refrigerator and let gel.  Should be ready in about 45 minutes.

Vanilla Cream Foam

Vanilla extract

--  Put milk and a few drops of vanilla extract into a bowl.  Add lecite.

--  With an immersion blender skim the surface of the milk to create bubbles.  If the foam does not hold add more lecite and repeat.

--  Spoon foam on top of coffee gelee and dust with cinnamon.

Pimenton Rubbed Pork Tenderloin and Dirty Potatoes with Romesco Sauce and Roasted Purple Carrots

And now for the main course.  The pimenton was courtesy of a little stocking stuffer Jason received from santa this year!  The rub was incredible and the photos do not do justice to the colors and beauty of the plate. 

Pimenton Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
serves 4

1-1/4 pound pork tenderloin

--  Preheat over to 350

-- Sprinkle a bit of each of the four seasonings onto the tenderloin and rub onto the meat

-- Sear pork tenderloin on all sides over high heat in a cast iron skillet

--  Put skillet and tenderloin into oven and cook until meat reaches 135 degrees (approximately 15 minutes).  Make sure to flip tenderloin once during cooking process. 

--  Let rest, slice and serve

Dirty Potatoes
serves 4

12 small yukon gold potatoes, halved the long way
Olive oil
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
Grated 1 year old manchego

-- Preheat oven to 350

-- Rinse the potatoes to get rid of some of the starch

-- In a large bowl, combine the potatoes with enough oil and spices to coat (spices approximately in equal proportions)

--  Place potatoes cut side down on an unlined baking sheet and roast until fork tender.  DO NOT FLIP. 

--  In mini-food processor combine kalamata olives and approx. a tablespoon of olive oil and blend to a paste-like consistency. 

--  Toss the roasted potatoes in the olive paste and serve with shaved manchego on top

Roasted Baby Purple Carrots

Baby purple carrots (or whatever colors you choose)
Herbs de Provence
Olive Oil

--  Toss carrots in spices and oil and roast in 350 degree oven until tender

Romesco Sauce

3 roma tomatoes halved
1 large red bell pepper quartered
5 cloves garlic peeled
1/3 cup olive oil
2 slices of a french baguette
1/4 cup toasted whole almonds
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
pinch of Pimenton (Spanish paprika)
pinch of red pepper flakes

--  Preheat the oven to 425

--  Brush tomatoes, bell pepper and garlic cloves with oil.  Roast on baking pan for 15 minutes

--  Toast bread in same oven until lightly browned

--  Remove bread and vegetables from oven and let vegetables cool

--  Combine all recipe ingredients in the food processor except the olive oil and blend.  Drizzle in olive oil with motor running and process until it has a slightly chunky sauce consistency

Haricot Verts Salad with Olives in Creme Fraiche Dressing

from Tyler Florence's book Tyler's Ultimate

1 pound frozen haricot verts (use fresh when in season, use frozen otherwise)
1 cup creme fraiche
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
1/2 tsp dried dill (use fresh when in season)
freshly ground black pepper

--  Bring large pot of salter water to a boil.  Fill a large bowl with ice water.  Add beans to boiling water, 1-2 minutes, until they turn bright green.  Remove and shock in bowl of ice water and then drain well.

--  In a mini-food processor combine the creme fraiche, lemon juice, olive oil, dill, salt and pepper and blend until smooth.

--  In a large serving bowl add the olives to the beans, toss with the dressing and serve with an additional sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper

Mussels in Cider

from Nigella Lawson

10 scallions white parts chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
24 mussels
3/4 bottle of Crispin Cider
1 tsp butter
olive oil
salt and pepper

--  In a large pan dash of olive oil, saute scallions and garlic with a little salt and pepper until fragrant, about 2 minutes

--  Add mussles and cider to the pan, shake the pan, cover the pan and let cook until mussels open, shaking the pan occasionally

--  Add the teaspoon of butter, remove from heat and serve with a nice crusty bread

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Grilled Tuna with Scallion Smashed Potatoes in a Habanero Clam Broth

Friday nights more and more frequently involve Jason and I staying home, pulling out the cookbooks and coming up with a new and delicious meal.  Kind of an in-house date night!

We were both in the mood for some fish and I really needed a gluten-free meal (there end up being more free bagels in grad school than I had anticipated).  Tuna seemed like a good compromise (Jason wanted swordfish but I didn't want such a meaty fish) and we were both intrigued by Mario Batali's recipe for cockles with habanero broth.  The habanero made it sound like a Flay recipe but we decided to try it out.  We had a bunch of potatoes and thought they would be a great gluten-free starch.  Jason decided some scallions in the potatoes would really help tie it to the habanero broth.  A couple of ring molds later and Jason plated this beautiful meal.

The habanero clam broth was amazing.  Such an unexpected pairing but the habanero, white wine and dash of tomato sauce was complimented prefectly by the liquid released from the clams.  And Jason was right, the scallion potatoes were the perfect match for the broth.  The meal went perfectly with a Soave Superiore.  The tuna was probably a little light for the plate.  Grilling it outside would have been ideal, or simply a heartier fish but all in all it was a most delicious meal!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


This chili is delicious.  Seriously good.  Jason made this for me and I wanted to eat it for 3 meals a day.  I refrained.


1 onion diced
1 lb ground lamb

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp sugar
1 bay leaf

1 can diced tomatoes with juice
2 cans black beans rinsed
1/2 bottle Moose Drool brown ale (or any brown ale)
1 tsp red wine vinegar

--In a dutch onion, heat a tablespoon or so of oil and add the onions and lamb.  Saute until lamb is cooked through.

--Next add the seasonings (red pepper flakes, dried basil, cumin, cinnamon, garlic, chili powder, dried oregano, cocoa powder, sugar and bay leaf) and cook for 2-3 minutes.

--Add the tomatoes with the juice, black beans and beer and simmer covered for 30-40 minutes

--Add a splash of red wine vinegar at the end

Garnish with whatever you like.  We had shredded cheddar on hand and just used that.  Cilantro or a cilantro crema would have been delicious.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ny Strip Steak, Fennel Risotto, Mushroom Ragout and Rapini

Friday night and what better way to unwind from the week and kick off the weekend than to spend some quality time in the kitchen with Jason!

We were both craving some red meat and the strip steaks at whole foods looked delicious.  The most recent issue of Food & Wine featued Stephanie Izard's recipe for Mixed Mushroom Ragout which we had been wanting to try, and I am a sucker for anything with fennel, resulting in our fennel risotto.  We had some rapini in the fridge that needed to be used and added the perfect amount of green to the plate!

Jason decided to break out the molecular gastronomy kit to use up some leftover coconut milk I had in the fridge and create a delicious and beautiful dessert with blackberries and a little hand done whipped cream!

Mixed Mushroom Ragout

Stephanie Izard's recipe for mixed mushroom ragout was featured in the most recent issue of Food & Wine. It was addictive. Cheers.


1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 pound shiitake mushrooms—stems discarded, caps sliced 1/4 inch thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound mixed mushrooms such as cremini, sliced 1/8 inch thick, and oyster mushrooms, caps quartered
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon harissa
2 teaspoons miso
1 tablespoon golden raisins (optional)
1 tablespoon capers
1/2 cup chicken stock

- In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp oil. Add the shiitake mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

- Heat 1 Tbsp oil in the skillet over medium high heat. Add the mixed mushrooms and cook until all the liquid has evaporated.

- Add the onion and another 1 Tbsp of oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

- Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes

- Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes

- Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 4 minutes

- In a bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, mustard, harissa, and miso. Add to the skillet along with the shiitake, capers and stock (raisins if using).

- Simmer over low heat until thickened, about 4-5 minutes.  

Fennel and Fontina Risotto

I love fennel and anything fennel flavored.  I was committed to making this fennel risotto before we had even decided what the rest of the meal would entail.  Luckily, it was a great compliment to the strip steaks and mushroom ragout.  I was afraid it might end up a little bland, especially with the stronger flavors of the rest of the meal, but the fennel flavor really comes through, enhanced by the fontina and the dish stood out on its own.

You can also watch Jason plating the risotto with his new ring molds here

For the recipe follow the link

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Oat Soda Bread

I did it!  I actually baked something!  I came across this recipe at 101 Cookbooks and in conjunction with In Jennie's Kitchen I came up with a recipe and method to make this bread. 

I liked the idea of using oat flour, which I made easily from scratch.  Just take rolled oats, pulse a couple of times in the food processor and then process for about 2 minutes.  The conversion factor is 1-to-1, 1 cup rolled oats equals 1 cup oat flour.  What really caught my eye was the sprinkling of seeds on top of the bread before baking. 

I'm enjoying my last couple of days of freedom before 3 days of CPS test proctoring followed by a return to school, so I decided to take advantage of my free time!  The bread was very dense and pretty yummy served with some butter.


7 oz rolled oats (or 7 oz oat flour if you have it on hand)
10 oz unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp fine-grain sea salt
2 cups buttermilk, plus 2 Tbsp for brushing
2 Tbsp mixed seeds - I used carraway, sesame and flax

--Preheat oven to 400

--Butter a 9x5x3 baking pan and line with parchment paper

--To make the oat flour, add oats to food processor and pulse a few times.  Then process for about 2 minutes until you have a fine powder

--Sift both of the flours, the salt and baking soda into a large bowl and whisk to combine

--Add the buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon until everything comes together

--Lay the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead for about 1 minute

--Deposit the dough into the baking pan and brush all over with the extra buttermilk

--Sprinkle the bread with the seeds and with a knife make a few cuts across the top of the bread

--On the middle rack, bake the bread for about 27 minutes.  Then, moving quickly, move the rack and bread to the second to top rack and bake for another 18 minutes.

--Remove the bread from the oven and pan, and let cool on a wire rack for about an hour

Borlotti Bean and Farro Soup

Shopping with my mom at a west suburban Italian grocery store I came across a treat, fresh borlotti beans!  I talked about the dried version here and my husband's new found obsession with them.  Finding them fresh was quite a treat and I gave them to Jason as a present!

As you can see the borlotti pods and beans, also known as cranberry beans or roman beans are a beautiful mottled cranberry red and off-white color.  They have a slightly nutty flavor which works great with the nuttiness of the farro.

Browsing at Crate & Barrel the other day I saw a recipe for a borlotti bean and farro soup in a tuscan cook book which inspired this dish.  I did some online searching and created a hybrid of recipes I saw along with the availability of what was in my fridge at the time, which included the fresh borlotti beans!

If you do not have fresh borlotti beans, you can always use dried beans.  Soak them overnight and then simmer for an 1 - 1 1/2 hours until tender.  You may have to adjust some of the cooking times in this recipe, I feel like the fresh beans took a little longer to tenderize during the first part of this recipe, than if I had used cooked dried beans.  However, as with most soup recipes, times and quantities are approximate, adjust as you see fit!


Monday, January 10, 2011

Venison Ragu with Polenta

We were lucky enough to be given a pound of ground venison from a co-worker of Jason's.  After some deliberation we decided to try out a ragu served over polenta.  The ragu took much longer to cook than I had expected!  I tried to have the dish ready by the time Jason got home after 8:00pm and it still wasn't ready.  We had to leave the pot simmering very low and run to the local bar for a burger for dinner!

Luckily, the ragu finally came together and we had the pleasure of inviting a few friends over the following evening to test out the recipe.  I must admit I was quite proud of myself with this one!  The ragu was really delicious, and I usually do not cook the meat in our house.  I also finally got the polenta cooked properly, something I have struggled with!  Ground beef could be substituted for the venison.


1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 clove garlic minced
1-2 Tbsp chopped rosemary
1 lb ground venison
1/2 cup red wine
1 bay leaf
1 can (14 oz) crushed roma tomatoes
3 oz cremini mushrooms sliced

2 tsp salt
7 cups water
scant 2 cups polenta (not instant)

--Ragu:  in a heavy bottomed pot (le creuset ideally) heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, season with a little salt and pepper and saute 15 minutes

--Add the venison and rosemary, and break up the venison with a wooden spoon to distribute the meat throughout the pot

--Raise heat to high and stir well, cooking until meat is browned

--Add the wine and cook until alcohol is evaporated (I go by smell)

--Add 1 1/2cups water and bay leaf and bring to a boil

--Reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer about 45 minutes

--Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook over low heat until the sauce starts to become integrated. 

**This took a couple of hours over low heat but I was not using the ideal heavy bottomed pot.  I let the sauce go for quite awhile, letting the vegetables break down and waiting for the liquid to acquire a reddish-brownish tint.  I let the ragu cool and put the pot in the fridge overnight

--TO REHEAT:  Put pot back on stove top, add a little more red wine and water and heat over med-low heat


--Bring 7 cups water and salt to a boil in a large pot

--Add the polenta slowly, whisking constantly

--Reduce the heat to medium for about 5 minutes, until the polenta begins to thicken, then reduce the heat to low

--Cook stirring almost constantly with a long handled wooden spoon until the polenta comes away easily from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes

--Add a couple of thin slices of butter to polenta and stir.  Season with salt and pepper

Serve ragu over a polenta with a nice salad on the side!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lentils, Celery & Caraway Beef Broth Soup

I wish I had a more creative name for this dish.  I've been dreaming about the flavor combination of celery and caraway ever since I made the lima bean soup with celery and caraway which obviously was the basis of my inspiration here.  But I had an overabundance of celery tops I had saved, tons of thyme, some spare carrots and a bit of leftover onion as well as some lentils I had cooked earlier in the week.  I decided to try to change it up by using beef broth which I had in the pantry.  I thought the lentil, beef and caraway might be a nice combination and while I can get overwhelmed by the flavor of thyme I thought it would really help round out the flavors.  So while this is a true kitchen sink soup, didn't leave the house to get anything, I think it turned out pretty well!


Approx. 2 stalks celery finely diced
1/4 red onion finely diced
1 medium carrot finely diced
0live oil
salt and pepper
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
2 cups beef broth
1 bay leaf
2-3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (if you don't have pre-cooked you can rinse and add the lentils to the soup to cook)
hot sauce
red wine vinegar

--In a heavy bottom pot heat oil over medium and add the carrot, celery and onion with a bit of salt and pepper.  Saute about 10 minutes

--Add the garlic and caraway and saute another 10 minutes or so

--Turn the heat to high and add a splash of the beef broth to scrape up any bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot

--Add the rest of the beef broth, 1 cup water, 1 bay leaf, thyme sprigs and a couple splashes of hot sauce

--Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and add the lentils

--Let simmer for almost an hour, tasting and adjusting seasoning as you go.  Add more water if necessary.

--About halfway through I added some more hot sauce and a splash of red wine vinegar and a little Worcestershire at the end. 

--Pull out the bay leaf and thyme sprigs before serving

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas Eve

This year marked the 5th year that Jason and I have cooked Christmas Eve dinner.  I have to say, I think it was one of our best ever!  Instead of cooking at our house, dinner was served at my in-laws due to the ever increasing family!  More than anything, the meal seemed to be the most well-rounded and cohesive meal that we have served.  We started with a plated salad and then served everything else right at the table.  A couple of bottles of wine, great food and family, just what the holidays are all about!

We were sad not to spend the evening with my family who usually joins us at our place, but it gave my mom some extra time to prepare for the amazing beef tenderloin dinner she served us on Christmas day!


Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 and Emeril's Apple Slaw

What a wonderful  year 2010 turned out to be!  Capped off by great parties on New Years Eve and New Years day.  For the New Year Eve party the main course included pulled pork sandwiched with a whole variety of sides and snacks.  We brought the savory rosemary and parmesan madelines, cooked properly in the madeline pan I got Jason for Christmas! 

Our New Years Day hosts cooked up a giant ham, homemade macaroni and cheese and other savory treats.  At our hostess' request, I made the Apple Slaw that we had served at a holiday party we hosted a few years ago to compliment our ham.  I had forgotten how delicious and tangy and kind of unexpected the flavors of this slaw were.  I felt it was a little too heavy on the onion, so in this version I've reduced the onion a bit.