Sunday, January 31, 2010

Saturday Night with Six Teenagers

Hannah had a sleepover last night. As I write, the girls are slumbering away. When they wake up, they will find breakfast burritos and crepes waiting for them.  Last night, I made them Indian food. They are organizing a sock-hop dance for the younger girl scouts in our area. They have picked a Bollywood theme and last night they were doing some planning for the event.  We ordered Indian garb, they watched Bollywood movies, danced Bhangra and ate food they had never had before. They learned about another culture by having fun with it. Now they can pass some of this along to the littler girls. Isn't this what girl scouts is supposed to be about? I think so. I think its great. These girls have been together since first grade and they are turning into fine young women who love and support each other. And they don't seem to care if the other kids at school know they are still girl scouts.

I wanted to make them interesting food that wasn't too spicy. I happened to run across this recipe for chicken masala from Bon Appetit the same day they asked if they could sleep over. It was perfect. I think the chicken could have used more garam masala, but other than that, it was a great introduction for them. I purposefully made this rather than a more traditional masala as I didn't want them to be turned off by the spiciness. The rest of the Bon Appetit menu included cumin-roasted carrots and cucumber raita. I also made potato samsoas and an onion dal, and served some flat bread I had picked up at the Indian market. Oh, and guacamole, because they requested it.

Here are the recipes for breakfast burritos and onion dal:

Breakfast burritos

1 six ounce chub chorizo (Mexican chorizo, not the hard Spanish kind)
2 small potatoes, or one medium, grated coarsely or very finely chopped
10 eggs, beaten
6 ounces grated cheddar cheese
Flour Tortillas

Crumble the chorizo into a frying pan and cook until it looks like the chorizo is almost melted, about 4 mins. Add the potatoes and saute until they are cooked through, stirring often, and adding some butter to the pan if it looks like the potatoes will stick. Stir in the eggs and cook until set. Make sure you add some butter to the skillet before the eggs if it looks like the eggs will stick. The last thing you want it is a big mess of stuck on egg in your pan. Yuck. And hard to clean. Just put in some damn butter, will you?

You can either stir the cheese into the egg mixture now, or top each burrito with some as you make them. I like to stir it in as it seems to melt better.

Heat the flour tortillas in the microwave for a few seconds so that they are nice and hot and soft, or cook them individually on top of the stove burners the old-fashioned way. I usually go with heating them on the burner like a little old Mexican lady, but if I have to make a bunch of burritos I do them in the nuker.

Fold like a burrito and wrap in foil. They will stay hot for a while. They can also be saved this way and heated later in the oven or microwave. Or make a bunch and freeze them and the kids can heat them for school-day breakfasts.

Onion Dal
This recipe is easily doubled, which I usually do, because it is really good.

6 T oil or ghee
scant 1/2 cup masoor dal (red or yellow lentils)
1 small bunch scallions, chopped
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 cove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 3/4 c water
1 tsp salt

1 fresh jalapeno, minced
1/4  bunch cilantro, chopped

Heat the oil and add scallions, cooking until slightly browned. Add ginger, garlic, chili powder, and tumeric. Stir fry the spices for a  minute or two. Add the dal and the water, reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until dal are tender. Add salt, stir, and garnish with jalapeno and cilantro.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Will Spring Ever Come?

I have hit the winter doldrums full throttle.

I want to cook warm, comforting foods, soups, stews, risottos, but I'm going nuts trying to come up with some recipes that the kids won't turn up their noses at. Not that I care too much, mind you. I am of the belief that if I cook it, you will eat it. I'm not making alternative menus just because the little darlings don't like my lentil and ham soup. Which is really good, by the way. It seems the little darlings mostly want pasta. And I get sick of pasta.

What I am dreaming of right now is chives. I keep thinking about those tender green shoots erupting from the earth, tempting me to make chive and marcona almond puree to drizzle over bruschetta smeared with salted ricotta cheese. Or chive and cheddar biscuits. Or chive-flecked flans floating in a clear mushroom chicken broth.

I miss the farmer's market.  Yes, it is still open this time of year, but you must brave the cold and all they really have right now are potatoes and onions and stuff flown in from Florida or California or Chile. I crave fresh garlic scapes and overly-large green onions, daring you to bite their heads off.

Boy, am I waxing poetic.

If your kids won't fuss too much, go ahead and try this soup. It is really good. maybe they'll like it.

Ham and Lentil Soup

1 ham bone or ham hock
6 cups water
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 c red or yellow lentils (I used yellow urid dal lentils from the Indian store because that's what I had on hand)
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 bay leaf
1/2 c chopped onion

Throw everything in a pot. Cook for a couple of hours until lentils are soft and ham falls off the bone. Remove bone from soup, shred ham and return meat to soup. Serve with nice crusty rolls.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Nerve of Some People

Really. I know some of you are actually taking my advice and trying a few of my recipes here and there. But seriously, if you have more readers than I do, you really shouldn't try to humiliate me by taking over my territory. Especially if you're all nice, and happy, and wholesome (at least on the surface. I know what lurks behind all the goody-two-shoes stuff.) People might get the wrong idea, they  might think you can be encouraged to try some new recipe instead of beaten into submission where you just cry, "Okay, June, I'll do it! Please just don't hurt me anymore!" (Substitute "Mom" for "June" and you have a glimpse at my parenting style, too.)

But, invade my turf she did. And she did it well, too. Try her suggestions. I have been baking a similar, although slightly less complicated, version of 5 minute bread for a couple of years now. Alex calls it "Little slices of heaven." 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Best Chocolate Pudding Ever

We have been chocolate deprived around here for a while.

I haven't been baking, all the Christmas goodies are gone and I just don't buy packaged cookies, but you knew that.

I was thinking today while driving  Hannah home from the orthodontist that I might have to bake some chocolate chip cookies today, but that just didn't seem to ignite my fire.

What I really wanted was something creamy.

I thought about making chocolate mousse. The last time I made chocolate mousse, I think I used every bowl in my kitchen. I didn't have the energy to wash that many bowls.

Then I had an "Aha!" moment.

What would be creamy and delicious, not that far off from chocolate mousse and not use every bowl I own? Why chocolate pudding of course!

I found this recipe. I made it. Because I could. And because I had all the ingredients already in the house. You probably do, too. So make it.

(I don't keep whole milk in the house all the time, so I used 2 cups 2% milk and 1 c cream, which I do keep in the house all the time)

Silky Chocolate Pudding
Adapted from John Scharffenberger
Serves 6
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped ( I used toll house chocolate chips, augmented with some milk chocolate chips to give it more milk chocolately-ness, but you could use bittersweet if you like dark chocolate.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (Don't even think about using the artificial crap.)
1. Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in the top of a double boiler. Whisk in the milk with a wire whisk. Place over simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Use a whisk as necessary should lumps begin to form. After 15 to 20 minutes, when the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon, add the chocolate. Continue stirring for about 2 to 4 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
2. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer (or skip this step if you’re a slacker like me who is absolutely certain that there is nary a lump her puddin’) into a serving bowl or into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour into individual serving dishes.
3. If you like pudding skin, pull plastic wrap over the top of the serving dish(es) before refrigerating. If you dislike pudding skin, place plastic wrap on top of the pudding and smooth it gently against the surface before refrigerating. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days (ahem, good luck with that).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cream of Mushroom soup

I haven't railed against a disgusting packaged food for a while. I think I'll rectify that. Recently another blogger from far away suggested that one of the things she misses about living in the states is Campbell's cream of mushroom soup.

All I can say is "Ewww".

I don't know if I can think of a more vile concoction. It's gelatinous plop and the sucking noise it makes as it slides out of the can in one cohesive glob make me almost want to vomit in my mouth. It certainly doesn't inspire me to want to cook anything. Grandma Foodie did used to make green bean casserole with it at Thanksgiving and as a child I did enjoy it, but I haven't eaten that vile amalgamation in decades. Bon Appetit did publish a nice alternative to the recipe found on the back of the onion can a few years ago. Even nicer if you frizzle some shallots as a topping.

But since it is past Thansgiving, we shall leave those musings for next fall. I can't think of any thing else for which one would consider using cream of mushroom soup. I don't think anyone would just make it straight from the can and eat it as is, would they? Maybe a certain culinarily challenged neighbor (who shall remain nameless).

But really, mushrooms are simply too marvelous to make any second rate substitutions. (Think mushrooms in a can. Double Eww). I could write volumes about my favorite mushrooms recipes. So, I'll leave you with a couple of them. They are both fabulous and both creamy.

Stuffed portobellos

4 portobello caps
1 shallot, minced
2 T butter
1 T flour
1/2 cream
1/4 cup parmesan or mozzarella, depending on how gooey you like it. Use mozzarella for gooey, parmesan for sharper. Or use both, I don't care.
2 Cups fresh spinach, blanched.
1 T sundried tomatoes or pine nuts, whichever strikes your fancy. Or neither.

Saute the shallot in the butter until soft. Add the flour and whisk until combined. Add the cream. Stir in the cheese and spinach and sun dried tomatos or pine nuts. Fill the mushroom caps and stick 'em in the oven for about 10 minutes until the caps are cooked through. Run under the broiler quickly to brown the tops, adding a bit more parmesan, if desired.

Chestnut porcini soup (adapted from Bon Appetit)
1/3 cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 1/2 ounce)
3 cups hot water
2 cups vegetable stock or canned vegetable broth
2 1/4 cups peeled roasted chestnuts (about 1 1/4 pounds) or jarred chestnuts (about 12 ounces), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons dry Sherry
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 small rutabaga, finely chopped
Combine porcini mushrooms and 3 cups hot water in medium bowl. Let stand until porcini mushrooms soften, about 15 minutes.
Drain  porcinis and put in a saucepan. Add porcini soaking liquid to saucepan, leaving any sediment behind in bowl. Add vegetable stock and chestnuts to same saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes to blend flavors. Puree soup with your hand stick blender or in the regular blender. just be careful if you do in the regualr blender. Do small batches, otherwise you'll have hot soup all over yourself and your kitchen. (Been there. Done that)  Return soup to saucepan. Add cream and 1 tablespoon Sherry. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.
Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, carrot and rutabaga; sauté until tender and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon Sherry. Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle soup into bowls. Top with vegetables and serve.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Looking for inspiration

I am having a no-inspiration day. I can't decide what to cook for dinner. I have quite a lot of stuff in the fridge and freezer that needs to be used, so most likely I will throw something together with what's lurking around.

I have some prosciutto and peas and cream, so it is possible I will make pasta with those ingredients. How easy is that? This easy:

Cook pasta until al dente. That means don't overcook it; if you go as long as it says on the package it will be a mushy mess. It needs to still have a little texture left.

While the pasta is cooking, heat some cream in a small pan. Add chopped prosciutto and thawed peas. When hot, add some Parmesan. I also like to add a little lemon zest sometimes. It gives it a nice clean flavor.

So go ahead, you should pretty much have all the stuff to make this all the time. If you are as cool as I am.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Yesterday I spent the day cooking for the 50th birthday party of a friend. I agreed to do the catering for her party for fifty of her friends. Why did I do that, you ask? Because I am a masochist. Or crazy. Or I simply can't say no. Or just because she is a friend and I could. Pick one reason. Any of them are valid.

The cool thing is that Grandma Foodie showed up in town on Friday on an unrelated mission. But while she was here, I recruited her to help. So yesterday we cooked. And we cooked. And we cooked some more after I knocked an entire tray of completed enchiladas on the floor. Yes, I did. It happens. Nobody's perfect. I'm fairly close, but not quite there. Yet.

The challenging part of making this food was that it needed to be largely gluten free, as well as kosher, and contain no nuts or nut oils. So I chose to make Mexican. You can do a lot with cheese and corn. We made cheese and chili enchiladas, Mexican Caeser salad, rice, beans, guacamole, salsa, black bean and corn salsa, and arepitas.

Grandma Foodie and I cook well together. She usually has better ideas than I do, (hey, I had to get it from somewhere didn't I?) and she is just as happy to be a sous chef as a head chef and plus she makes a great dishwasher/organizer. We have differences of opinion about food sometimes, but I am always right and she is always wrong, except when she isn't. One of the areas we disagree on is guacamole. I make great guacamole. Best. Anywhere. Just ask anybody who has eaten it. Grandma Foodie thinks, however, that one should put tomatoes into one's guacamole. All I have to say about that is: fine; go ahead; if you want to ruin your guacamole; but hey, you do whatever you want.

Here is the best guacamole on earth. All measurements are approximate, you'll have to adjust it until it tastes good, like mine. Which I guess is a problem if you've never tasted my guacamole. Just do your best.

2 ripe avocados
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lime
1 large clove chopped garlic
1/3 c chopped red or green onion
Cayenne or Tabasco. Or some of both.
Salt to taste. (A lot, probably at least a teaspoon, maybe more)

This recipe is easily adjusted to larger quantities. yesterday, we made fourteen avocado's worth.

Mash avocados with a fork. Add other ingredients. The ones that will need adjusting are the lime juice, salt, and cayenne/ Tabasco. Start with a little, taste, add more. You can always add more, but you can't take it out. Fry some corn tortillas for chips, Tostitos are for losers.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pay it Forward

So of course by now you've figured out that I consider bestowing my knowledge of cooking on you as paying it forward. I know, I share, you benefit. But I can only be so crass for so long. Once in a while I have to let down my smart-assy-ness and show juist a bit of sincerity and humanity. I am not hard-hearted, after all.

I received a "kreative blogger" award from my friend over at Hope Radio. I am supposed to list seven things about myself that you don't know and then pass the award on to seven other bloggers.

Here we go:
1. I've been told by more than one person that they were afraid of me when they first met me.

2. I will only insult you if I really like you.

3. When I was 18 I carried out groceries at Corona Del Mar Gelson's for Harriett Nelson.

4. I didn't know I was pregnant with my third child until I felt her kick at 4 months.

5. I told my daughter at age 7 that Ben and Jerry's Rain Forest crunch contained alcohol, so she wasn't allowed to eat it.

6. I once road my horse home from the bar drunk (me not the horse) putting the snaffle bit backwards in his mouth. He didn't buck me off. When I dismounted, though, I fell flat on my back on the grass. He put his head down next to me and ate the grass.

7. My favorite thing is to drink champagne and cook dinner for my family while listening to jazz. You probably already knew that, though, so it shouldn't count.

So, here are my "Kreative Blogger" awards. That's "Creative Blogger for the un-spelling challenged.

Here's my problem, though: all my favorite bloggers already got this award!

Hope gave it to my favorite blog of all time" Castra Praetoria. This guy went to Iraq about the same time as my son did. It was so good to read some funny stuff and see some pictures of places I knew Ben had actually been. He still writes some very funny, biting, and insightful commentary. Plus, he's a Marine who likes martial arts, just like my boy. (Did you all not know that Ben is not only a big-badass Marine, he is also a second degree black belt in Karate? He can kick your ass. Or protect it, as he felt the need to protect me when I took off down a dark alley in New York City following a Chinese woman who promised me cheap knock-off handbags, He thought I was nuts and proceeded to practically run after me. I was fine. Since he wasn't a Marine at the time, he didn't know that I am as tough as they get. I raised a Marine.)

Laura is also a great blogger. She of course, started this blog for me and wrote the first post. She also wrote my profile, which makes me laugh so much I have never changed it. I'll have to admit I like her old blog better when she wrote about her life in our little Fisher Price village as she calls it. She now blogs as part of her job and while I am not terribly interested in all of the bird stuff, she remains a great writer and a fabulous photographer, even if she isn't so great in the kitchen. (Although I don't know, she DID make Boeuf Bourguignon yesterday. I may be getting through to her). Read the old blog, linked above to read a very funny, well written story about ME!

Another old blog (do you see a theme here) is Priscilla's. I wish she would start up again.

I also love Janet Reid's blog. I have no aspirations to publish a book, but she is so funny, she makes me want to send a query just to see if I could get a response. Or a mention in her blog as a dumb-ass.

I have also recently started reading TexasHeather's blog. While she is not a smart ass, she is a good ole Texas girl who finds herself transplanted to Brazil. Good Stuff.

I have a soft spot for Marine bloggers. One Marine's view is really good.

and Cake Wrecks is hysterical,

You'll notice a distinct lack of other food bloggers. That's because I don't read them. Most of the time, they just irritate me.

And I haven't written about food at all today. No time to post any recipes, Hannah needs to check her Facebook. Like, Now, Mom!

For dinner, I'm making pan-seared salmon with a lemon-sherry reduction, roasted broccoli, some type of yet to be determined risotto, and salad with blue cheese and some kind of fruit, probably dried apricots and toasted pecan. Wait, make that prosciutto wrapped baked salmon. See, I have a plan. A nice, changeable plan.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My good friend Laura

Ever the fun-lover, Laura gave us all a good laugh last night at wine night by bringing her special appetizer. As we texted her, "Get your a** down here. What's taking you so long?" She replied, "I'm putting the finishing touches on my appetizer! Be there in a minute." I shuddered with fear and texted back, "Please don't." But show up with an appetizer she did. Here it is:

Yes, that is saltine crackers and american cheese, artfully arranged on a platter. It is all in the presentation, right?

She is such a good sport, it is hard to make fun of her for her single-minded interest in birding. She talked so much about the crows she was tracking yesterday that today I noticed the gathering of them she told us about. This was ironic, because at the time, Laura was in her kitchen, exhausting herself over Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon. Now, Laura did not decide to make this all on her own. She asked me this morning for ideas about what to do with her pork roast. Well, what kind of pork roast, I inquired. She couldn't remember exactly, so she called her husband. "A beef top round" came the answer. So, there we have just a little bit of insight into Laura's approach to food: she can't even recall exactly what it is that she wants to cook. As she good-naturedly giggled that away, I suggested to her that she made Ms. Child's signature dish. I pulled out my copy of MTAOC and coached her through the recipe. "You can do it" I told her. "Julia brought this dish to American housewives on the first episode of The French Chef. I was practically a cheerleader with my encouragement. I even lent her my enameled casserole because she didn't own a suitable fire-proof, oven-safe dish. The last text I received from her said "My beef bougnonne or whatever smells out of this world, but you failed to tell me it would be an hour and half of prep. You lied. Laying on the couch exhausted." Well, not really, Laura. It probably shouldn't have taken quite so long, but hey, it did and I hope you find the reward worth the effort. There is a lot to be said for spending time in the kitchen, making something special that will reward you far more with its taste and your own sense of accomplishment. You go girl, I'm proud of you.


Here is the recipe. My caveat: bacon with rind can be hard to find. Feel free to leave it out.

Serves 6

Kitchen Supplies:

  • 9- to 10-inch, fireproof casserole dish , 3 inches deep
  • Slotted spoon
Boeuf Bourguignon:

  • 6 ounces bacon
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
  • 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • Crumbled bay leaf
  • Blanched bacon rind
  • 18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock
  • 1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter
  • Parsley sprigs
Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers
very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

When the melt is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Covet the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.

For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Copyright © 1961, 1983, 2001 by Alfred A. Knopf.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Tonight I am going to Priscilla's for Women Who Wine (Whine) Night. The rule is that everyone brings either a bottle of wine or an appetizer. Or both. Usually we have so much food we can't eat it all. Most of the time it is all really good. We have only one friend who doesn't cook at all, but she shops well. I may have mentioned that I am bringing the arepitas from food and wine magazine. But I also decided that I needed to be sure to get the lion's share of attention for my cooking so I decided that I would make a foccacia to go with whatever stewishy thing P makes. I make really good foccacia.

The cool thing about making it is that you can make a really simple pizza-like dough and do whatever you want to it. The key is to drizzle it with lots of olive oil and Parmesan. Anything you add after that is up to your whim and the contents of your refrigerator. I like Kalamata olives, rosemary, caramelized onions, garlic, and lots of salt and pepper. Make lots of indentations with your fingers to hold all of your best green, extra virgin olive oil. Kids love foccacia. Sometimes it is hard to get them to eat the rest of the dinner it is so good. But as I am sure you can guess, I don't really go for picky-eater kids in my house. I made it. You're eating it. 'Nuff said. And believe me, if you stick to that, consistently, your kids will enjoy a wide variety of foods. Mine love the bibimbap that I last wrote about, fernbrake and all. They also like Vietnamese, Italian, Russian, Mexican, Chinese, and well, just about anything. I grew up the same way, Grandma Foodie is a great cook, and she likes to experiment, too. It has served us all well to enjoy lots of different kinds of cuisine.

So try this. You'll like it. Adapted from Tyler Florence.


  • 2 teaspoons rapid-rising dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt or fleur du sel
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Cornmeal, for dusting


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 Kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 2 T sun-dried tomatoes


In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, proof the yeast by combining it with the warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve. Let stand 3 minutes until foamy. Turn mixer on low and slowly add the flour to the bowl. Dissolve salt in 2 tablespoons of water and add it to the mixture. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil.  Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and fold over itself a few times. Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil so it doesn't form a skin. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Coat a sheet pan with a little olive oil and corn meal. Once the dough is doubled and domed, turn it out onto the counter. Roll and stretch the dough out to an oblong shape about 1/2-inch thick. Lay the flattened dough on the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, coat a small saute pan with olive oil, add the onion, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes until the onions caramelize. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Uncover the dough and dimple with your fingertips. Brush the surface with more olive oil and then add caramelized onions, garlic, olives, cheese, salt, pepper, sun dried tomatoes and rosemary. Bake on the bottom rack for 15 to 20 minutes.

Friday, January 8, 2010


My sister-in-law introduced us to a new dish: bibimbap. You have to like it just for the name. Sounds kinda funky, doesn't it? Bibimbap is a Korean dish of rice, vegetables, and meat with a sweet-hot red chili sauce and a fried egg on top. It is one of those great dishes that can be really simple or quite complex depending on the contents of your pantry and your whim. Traditionally, it is served with carrots, bean sprouts, lettuce, mushrooms, and fernbrake. I have also made it with nori, daikon pickles, and bell peppers. You can pretty much use any vegetable you want.

Here's what to do:

Marinate some thinly sliced beef in some Korean barbeque sauce. I buy it. You can make it if you want. Sliver some carrots, lettuce, and soak some dried shittakes. Saute the carrots for about two minutes in 1 T sesame oil. Arrange those ingredients on a platter along with some sliced daikon pickle. Put some sliced nori in a separate bowl.

Soak some fernbrake (dried bracken, pretty much it's dried ferns) for 30 mins or so. Boil them for another thrity minutes, then drain, squeeze out any excess water and cut into two inch pieces. Mix in 1 clove of garlic and 1 T soy sauce. Heat 1 T vegetable oil in the same pan you did the carrots in and saute the fernbrake for two to three minutes. Arrange on the platter. Heat 1 T vegetable oil in the same pan and saute the marinated beef, Put it on the platter.

Dish some cooked rice into a bowl and arrange your choice of veggies on top. Top off with a fried egg, and some Korean chili paste.  If you can't find that, try some sriracha sauce, you can get that anywhere. Mix everything together. Drizzle with sesame oil if you like. Eat it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Went to DC for Grocery Shopping

So sorry I have neglected you again. My dear husband (is there an emoticon for "gag-me"?) took the kids down to his hometown to visit with relatives. We stayed at the home of his brother and his wife. His wife is a fantastic cook. She consistently makes delicious, original, gourmet (I actually hate that word) food from high quality, fresh ingredients. I wish I could find a way to insult her, but it is not possible. She introduced me to a fantastic new food from Argentina, arepitas. They were so good. A dough of corn masa is mixed with queso fresco (fresh cheese) and chorizo, then rolled out and fried until golden. Super, super yummy. I'm making them this Saturday to take to Priscilla's for wine night. Because i have to bring the best food to wine night. It is a matter of personal pride. Imagine if I, the Mendon Foodie, were outdone. Not acceptable to me. But luckily, I have a great recipe in hand with which to show off, thanks to Irina.

In addition to eating eating all of Irina's fantastic food, I went grocery shopping. Museums, you say? Monuments? Hell no, I went for the marvelous ethinic groceries and Trader Joe's stores that we don't have up here in the frigid north. I bought real chorizo, good tortillas, crema, and different quesos at the Dominican grocery. I stocked up on Grade B maple syrup and lentil crisps at Trader Joe's. But the best of all was H Mart. H Mart had aisles and aisles of every kind of asian ingredient possible. They had a man roasting nori (seaweed) right there. It was so fresh and tender, it melted in my mouth. Employees don't just offer samples of prepared food, they use featured ingredients to make incredible Korean foods. We tasted sea bass, four kinds of kimchee, dumplings, tofu, chicken, and probably at least three or four other dishes. One of my favorites was fish cake soup. If you can locate the ingredients at your local asian market, try this soup. You can make it in about 15 minutes and you will be so happy you did.

2 tsps Korean beef broth base (I suppose you are surprised I'm not berating you into making your own beef stock. Normally, I would, but this soup was so good, I'm afraid to mess with it. If you can't get Korean beef broth base, go ahead and use your homemade stock from the freezer.)
3 cups water
5 dried anchovies
1 jalapeno, diced
3 green onions
6-7 Korean fish cakes

Heat the water, beef broth base, and anchovies on the stove until simmering. Add the fish cakes and jalapenos. Cook until fish cake is heated through. Sprinkle on green onions right before serving.

So, I think I'll be taking you on an Asian cooking adventure for a while. I'm all stocked up on sesame oil and gyoza sauce, so I'll post some of the better recipes as I go along. Priscilla will no doubt have lots to say, but even though she lived in China for five years doesn't mean she knows everything about cooking. Neither do I, but whatever I so write about, I am sure about. So take my advice.

Picture of the fantastic Argentinian dinner Irina made.