Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

This is a post from Annie's Eats for some delicious looking holiday cookies:
This is the time of year for cookies.  Holiday cookies run the gamut from very simple to complicated.  I don’t have a real preference, though I do enjoy the challenge of the more involved cookies.  What can I say?  I just love to play in the kitchen.  There is certainly a time and place for the fancy schmancy treats, and there is also a time and place for plain and simple.  For example, when you are taking call from home and worried the pager may go off at any moment but you really, really want to bake something.  That’s what these cookies were for me.  I had all the ingredients on hand and the dough was ready in minutes.

More at:  http://annies-eats.com/2010/11/30/pumpkin-oatmeal-cookies/

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fried Chicken with Remoulade

The kids and Amy made me a special birthday treat last year. Since it was around the Super Bowl and New Orleans was playing in it, they made me a full Creole dinner complete with a King Cake. It was such a nice treat and the food was fabulous.

This got me interested in several new creations. One of which as hung around a while, Remoulade sauce. We use remoulade like Frank's Red Hot tag line, we "put that shit on everything!" This recipe is for a version of chicken fingers with remoulade. I'll post my recipe for red beans and rice later this week since it goes so well with it.

2-3 chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
3 Tbsps flour mixed with salt, pepper, ground dundicut or other pepper; spread on plate
1 egg, whipped with a little milk poured into a small bowl

3-4 dill pickles, diced
1/4 cup Dijon mustard (the kind with the seeds is best)
1 cup mayonnaise (I've also used light sour cream with good results)
2 Tbsp horseradish
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Small red onion, minced
1 Garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1) Combine chopped up with mustard, mayonnaise, horseradish, parsley, onion, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, paprika and cayenne pepper. Chill for 10-15 minutes. Taste. If it is not hot enough, add hot sauce to taste.

2) Heat up a cast iron skillet on medium high for 5 minutes. Add a several Tbsps of olive oil. Dip the chicken pieces in the egg wash then in the flour mixture, add to pan. Let cook for 3 minutes on first side, flip and cook on other side for 4-5 minutes.

3) Plate chicken with remoulade on top or on the side. My kids will use the sauce for everything, over rice, on bread, on pasta. They love it.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Okay, it was daunting, but ever since I read about the Cherpumple in the Wall Street Journal I had wanted to make one for Thanksgiving.  The only draw-back, we had only 8 people coming and I'd heard a number of disaster stories.  I was undaunted in my pursuit of being extra fat after T-day.
The three cakes baked!

The Cherpumple is a Cherry Pie baked in a White Cake on top of an Apple Pie baked in a Yellow Cake both on top of a Pumpkin Pie baked in a Spice Cake (i.e., White Cake with Cinnamon, Allspice, Nutmeg, and Ground Cloves.)  It is the dessert version of the Turducken.  It's like 8,000 calories a slice and its sounded heavenly.

The good - the directions were incredibly easy since I bought the pies at A&P and made the cake from boxes.  Also, I had heard of undercooking the cakes, so I actually baked them for twice as long as recommended.  Cream cheese frosting - and lots of it - was great way to tie it all together.

Two layers with lots of frosting
Three Layers!
The bad - I put the cherry pie on the bottom of the tower of cake which mushed all the filling out after the first cut.  Having 8 people eat a slice used up 1/4 of the Cherpumple.  We have enough for the Swiss Army!

Its a full 8 inches tall
Looks ugly - Tastes great!
The outcome - I'd make it again next year, but I'm definitely inviting more people.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Beef and Guinness Stew

Last year April, the family went to Ireland for a week's vacation.  We rented a car (driving on the wrong side of the street - crazy!) and met some incredibly nice people throughout the country.  In fact, when flying home we asked the kids what was the best part of the trip was - thinking they'd say Bunratty Castle, Cliffs of Moor or Kilkenny.  They're answer was Frank.  The first waiter at the first restaurant we went to who literally made us feel like we had come home to dinner.

We found out Ireland was in the midst of a food revolution.  We had tremendous food at Kilkenny, Kilarney and Cork.  Although, everywhere we went, Alex wanted the Irish Stew.  Much of it was watery and had little vegetables, but sometimes it was full-bodied and hearty.  Once we got home, I was itching to take a stab at making it the right way.  This recipe provides the richness and I load up the vegetables.  Pair this with some bread or homemade croutons and it is a full meal.

2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbsps all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsps vegetable oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp of water
1 1/2 Tbsps tomato paste
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut on a bias
3-4 celery stalks, washed and cut on a bias
1 large potato
2 cups beef broth
1 Guinness or other Irish stout
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons toasted and crushed peppercorns
2 fresh thyme sprigs or 2 tsps dried thyme
2-4 slices of bread (I use left over homemade bread)
2 Tbsps melted butter
Salt and pepper


1) Pat beef dry. Stir together flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Add beef, turning to coat, then shake off excess and transfer to a plate. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over moderately high heat until just smoking, then brown meat in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch, transferring to a bowl.

2) Add onion, garlic, and water to pot and cook, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot and stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef with any juices accumulated in bowl, carrots, celery, potato, broth, beer, Worcestershire sauce, peppercorns, and thyme and bring to a simmer, then cover and cook on medium-low. Braise until beef is very tender and sauce is thickened, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

3) While stew is cooking, cut bread into 1-inch cubes and pour melted butter on top.  Put into one layer in an oven proof pan.  Toast the bread on top of the stove for 3-4 minutes without turning.  Pop pan in broiler to toast the top.

4) Scoop soup into bowls and top with croutons.

Friday, November 19, 2010

That skinny chick can bake!!!: Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Flans~

Amy's cousin writes this blog.  Her food is amazing.  This is a great looking app for Thanksgiving...

That skinny chick can bake!!!: Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Flans~

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake!

We told my parents we were getting married at a restaurant called Air Transport Command. It was sort of a watershed establishment for us, since we went there before attending the Junior formal and other events where we had to get dressed up (i.e., not jeans.) Air Transport Command sat on the New Castle Airport, a corporate air field for the Fortune 500 companies calling Wilmington, DE home. The kitschy diner spot had booths with headphones wired into the tower, so you can listen in on planes landing. Very cool!

The other thing we always went back for was the flourless chocolate cake with raspberry compote. It was heavenly and silky smooth. I beg you though to only make this when you are going to a party with a lot of people or else the leftovers are not good for you! If you do bring it to a party though, you will - I repeat, will - get a return invite. Plus, it's gluten-free-ish.

Ingredients (adapted from The Cook's Encyclopedia of Chocolate):
9 oz. bittersweet chocolate (we us 70% cocoa, but I like the strong flavor)
2 sticks of butter (don't skimp on quality or quantity, this is a major flavor and texture component)
1/2 cup sugar (because I use the stronger cocoa bars, I add a couple Tbsps more of sugar)
2 Tbsp Brandy or TripleSec or Cointreau
5 eggs
1 Tbsp flour (can be less....)
Boiling water
Raspberry topping (1/2 jar of Raspberry jam + 1 Tbsp lemon juice warmed together and let cool)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter (or spray Pam) 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper or waxed paper; butter (or spray Pam) paper. Wrap outside of pan

with 2-3 layers foil over the sides of the pan.

Stir chocolate, butter and sugar in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Have the kids be on this step - they are very attentive. This can also be done in a double

boiler but takes a lot longer. Remove from heat. Cool slightly and add the Cointreau or Brandy.

In a large bowl, beat eggs slightly then beat in the flour, then have the kids slowly pour in the chocolate while you beat it in completely. The kids might have to take over for a bit while you lick the bowl and put on a kettle of water... Pour the mixture into the pan.

Place the foil-wrapped springform pan into a large roasting pan and put into the over. Before closing the oven door, pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until it is 1/4 inch up the sides of the pan. Bake 25-30 minutes until the edge of the cake by the pan is set and the center is still soft. Don't over cook! You should check it at 15 and 20 minutes in.

Remove from the roasting pan, take off foil and allow to cool. Remove pan sides. Place 9-inch-diameter serving plate atop cake and invert cake onto plate. Peel off parchment paper. Let cool. Spread cooled raspberry topping and enjoy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Soup in a Bread Bowl

One of the best surprise treats I’ve ever experienced was soup from a bread bowl from a street fair in Falmouth, MA. We stumbled on the fair and spotted eating one of my favorite dishes – New England Clam Chowder – out of bread bowls. I turned into a 5-year-old whining I NEEDED one! Surprisingly, it worked for me then (we bought it) and it works for the kids now (they eat it!). In fact, they love them! Now when the weather changes, I start to think about soup in bread bowls.

When I make it, I like to mix up the bread before work and let it rise in the oven all day, then bake it while making the soup. Plus, if I’ve made stock from the chicken earlier in the week, I’ll use the stock as the base for the soup. This recipe is for black bean soup in a bread bowl. The black bean soup is a Paul Prudhomme recipe.

Ingredients – 4 cups of unbleached white flour
3/4 cup rye or wheat flour
2 cups water (on the colder side if letting rise all day)
1 ½ Tbsp of yeast (or two packets)
1 Tbsp of salt Small handful of thyme, marjoram and/or oregano

Directions: Mix well in a mixer or a bowl. Turn out to a floured and kneed for 5-7 minutes until dough is smooth and firm. The dough might be very wet, so use extra flour generously. Cut into 4 sections and add to a well greased 9X9 baking dish. Put a towel over the dough and put into the oven to rise. When ready, bake at 400 degrees for about 40-45 minutes until crust is golden brown. Start backing the bread half way through the soup recipe below.

1 lb. dried beans, rinsed and kept overnight in a bowl or dish of water.
1 dried ancho chile, reconstituted and minced
1 dried guajillo, reconstituted and minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes – I will often skip this since it is spicy enough
1/2 pound bacon, diced
2 medium onions, chopped
4-5 stalks of chopped celery
6 cups chicken stock
4 cloves minced fresh garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1) Combine the spices and drain the beans
2) Fry the bacon in a large heavy pot (cast iron is best) over high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 7 to 9 minutes.
3) Stir in 1/2 the onions, the celery, and ½ the spices. Cover, and cook for 3 minutes.
4) Stir in 1 cup of the stock and scrape up the crust on the bottom of the pot. Add the beans, cover, and cook, occasionally scraping the bottom of the pot, for about 20 minutes.
5) Add 4 cups more stock, second ½ of the spices, garlic and remaining onions, scrape the pot bottom clean, and cook covered until brought to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 25 to 30 minutes.
6) Stir in the remaining 1 cup stock, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir the cilantro, cover and cook until the beans are tender, about 15 minutes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sour Orange Chicken + Broth

My favorite getting cold outside dinner is roasted chicken with vegetables. Not only for the actual dinner, but for the chicken bones to make great chicken broth. The broth is so much better than the store bought, canned junk for little to no effort. Then I use the broth for soup to eat with fresh bread. The smell of the house for those two days is great!

First, let's make the chicken dinner. Years ago I came across this recipe for Yucatan Sour Orange Chicken which intrigued me enough to try it. The chicken was a hit - although it was strongly flavored, so feel free to adjust - and the kid's dove in. I haven't made it in a while, but just had it last night and it again went fast.

Potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery/fennel
Olive oil
Sauce: In a blender, add and coarsely blend

  • 5-20 gloves of garlic (based on your taste), peeled and cut in half

  • The juice of 3-6 oranges plus the remains of one of them (just toss it in, you'll enjoy it)

  • A couple of dashes of lemon juice

  • Whole, reconstituted chipotle (I've used guajillo, morita and red pepper flakes or a healthy dash of Tabasco)

  • Salt, pepper, and oregano.

  • 1) Peel and quarter the potatoes, carrots, onions and celery/fennel. Toss vegetables in a bowl with salt, pepper and olive oil. Set aside.

    2) Dress the chicken by moving a spoon around between the skin and breast of the chicken to create a pocket. A flavor pocket! Into this pocket, pour some of the blend and move it around the breast.

    3) In a large roasting pan, evenly spread the vegetables and add a small amount of water to the bottom of the pan. Top this mixture with the chicken and pour remaining sauce over bird and vegetables.

    4) Roast until internal temperature of the chicken is 160 degrees. Let chicken rest before cutting.

    Chicken broth:

    5) After dinner, add the chicken bones to a 4 or 8 qt. soup pot and fill with water. Add plenty of salt and pepper plus a couple of bay leaves, a handful of oregano, 4-5 cloves of garlic and a dried chile - ancho if I want it milder, guajillos for spicer, and morita for smoky goodness. Cook on low overnight, if you have an electric stove. If I had a gas stove, I'd put it in the fridge and bring it out the next morning to stick it on the stove for the day - 5-6 hours should work. Strain out the broth and discard the bones and spices.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Leftovers that get eaten

    This is the time of the week where we start looking in the fridge and saying "what can I make of this mess?" Well, several years ago, a friend offered up a simple, but highly edible and flexible option - Worm Pie (the kids LOVE the name which comes from left over spaghetti noodles.)

    Its simple because the ingredients are the left over pasta of any kind - with or without sauce - cheese, splash of milk, eggs and spices and are made in one pan. Its flexible because the spices can be hot (i.e., chili peppers), savory (i.e., dried Oregano and/or Basil) or unique (i.e., pesto [a favorite], mole.) And it is the one leftover dish we serve where we routinely hear "is there more?"


    Left over pasta
    2 eggs
    1 cup cheese - mozzarella or cheddar work best
    Splash of milk
    1 Tbsp dried Oregano and/or Basil
    2 cloves of garlic, minced
    2 Tbsp capers (I would say these are optional, but they really add great flavor)
    1 Tbsp olive oil

    1) Add all ingredients into one big bowl. Mix well. Kids love to do this part, especially the eggs and the garlic press.

    2) Heat a dinner plate-sized large skillet (preferably non-stick, but cast iron could work) over high heat for 4-5 minutes. When hot add half the olive oil then the mixture to the pan, turn heat to medium high and cover the pan.

    3) Let cook until the bottom of the pie is browned (5-7 minutes). Scrape the bottom of the pie off the pan, but don't flip it. Instead, take a large dinner plate and cover the skillet. Flip the pie onto the plate, add the remaining olive oil to the pan and slide the uncooked side of the pie into the skillet.

    4) Cook another 7 minutes. In the meantime, you can heat up pasta sauce as an optional topping.

    5) Cut, serve, enjoy, plan for the next leftover pasta...

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010


    If you've ever met my kids, you'd know they were adventurous. Their favorite restaurant apparently is Ethiopian. They weren't always so willing to try new food, though. Its been an evolution. Like our choices of pizza.

    Around the time the kids were born, we bought a pizza stone (best purchase ever!) We tried a number of pizzas to see which we liked or didn't like starting with the version closest to "pizza" for a kid - pasta sauce and cheese - then we branched out. We found out they liked white pizza, spicy chicken and mozzarella, and chicken and cheese pizza. They didn't like potato and onion pizza and fresh tomato and basil. The absolute favorite for a while was a thin pizza using plum sauce as a base and topping it with ground chicken, bean sprouts, and Parmesan.

    The pizza stone still gets a lot of use, although the tastes have moved back to sauce and cheese.

    Dough (courtesy of the NYTimes Heritage Cookbook) makes two crusts:
    2 packages dry yeast
    2/3 cup lukewarm water
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1Tbsp salt
    2 cups milk, warm
    ~7 cups wheat flour
    3 Tbsp melted butter

    1 jar Plum Sauce
    1 lb packet ground chicken
    1 can/bag bean sprouts
    Bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
    Parmesan cheese

    1) Let the kids drop all the ingredients into a mixer to make dough. Set aside to rise about 15 minutes. Don't overthink this step.

    2) Brown chicken. Set aside in a bowl.

    3) Preheat over to 500 degrees (remove everything from oven except pizza stone which should be in the middle of the oven) - if you don't have a pizza stone, use a baking sheet dusted with flour (not in the oven when it is preheating) and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

    4) Roll out the dough over a bed of flour as thin as possible. Sprinkle flour on top of dough. Fold dough on itself twice.

    5) Moving quickly, take stone out of oven and dust with flour. Unfold dough onto stone (or baking sheet). Spread plum sauce liberally over dough. Add chicken and bean sprouts. Generously add mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

    6) Cook until cheese is golden brown. Leave on stone for 5 minutes (keep an eye on the dog, though!) Cut and serve.

    7) Enjoy