January 31, 2005
Decadent Mac & Cheese

Last night, I had to feed a craving... a craving for something rich and creamy, warm and comforting. I wanted, no *needed* macaroni and cheese. And no blue box concoction would do. In fact, I took it a few steps beyond your standard from-scratch recipe by using a blend of five cheeses, and topping it with crunchy panko crumbs and fresh herbs. This was most certainly not your momma's macaroni and cheese - it was simply decadent.

mac & cheese baked with an herbed panko crust 

Jen's Decadent Mac & Cheese

2 cups medium shell pasta
4 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus 2 tbsp. for topping
2 cups whole milk
about 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 cups finely shredded/grated cheese (I used 1.5 cups of Grafton 8 yr. Reserve Cheddar, 1 cup cave-aged Gruyere, 1 cup imported Italian Fontina, and 1/4 cup each aged Asiago and Parmigiano Reggiano)
1/2 cup panko crumbs (a Japanese dry breadcrumb)
1 tbsp. each chopped fresh rosemary and thyme

Cook pasta according to package directions until just under al dente.

Meanwhile, in a wide saucepan, make a bechamel by melting 4 tbsp. butter with 4 tbsp. flour, then whisking in milk until all are smooth and well combined. Once this thickens, add a grating of nutmeg, about 1/8 tsp., and stir. Add cheeses a little at a time, stirring until melted and well combined. Add the cooked and well-drained pasta to the cheese mixture, tossing well.

Pour pasta and cheese mixture into a baking dish. Combine choppped herbs with panko crumbs and spread evenly over the top, coating well. Break up the remaining 2 tbsp. of butter into little bits and scatter over the top. Place in a 350 degree oven, uncovered, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling.

Approx. 4 main-course servings, or 6-8 as a side.

Posted by jenblossom on January 31, 2005

I used to eat ajiaco at Timo's when I was especially cold, or feeling under-the-weather. It's a gorgeous Colombian chicken & potato soup with tasty garnishes. You use several sorts of potatoes - a starchy potato to thicken the soup, and slices of a waxy potato to chew on. Créme frâiche, corn, cilantro, capers, avocado, and a side of chunky salsa complete this meal-in-a-bowl. Jen, your grandmother's chicken soup reminds me of this one, a little.

1 onion, diced small
1 tsp olive or peanut oil
5-8 oz roasted, shredded chicken meat
3/4 lb starchy potatoes, cut into chunks (I used red creamers)
1/3 lb waxy potatoes, in half-inch thick slices (fingerlings are fun)
5-6 cups chicken stock
1-2 cups corn kernels
1 tsp coriander
salt & pepper, to taste

To Garnish:
Chunky salsa, of choice
2 tbsp capers
créme frâiche or sour cream
avocado, diced
3 tbsp roughly chopped cilantro

1. Sautée the onion in the oil over high heat until it begins to color. Add chicken stock, and scrape up any tasty browned bits that have stuck to the bottom. Add the chunks of starchy potatoes. Add some salt, and the coriander.

2. Simmer soup until potatoes are tender (~20 minutes). Roughly purée. (Immersion/stick blenders are great for this.) Return to heat; add potato slices. Cook until slices are tender to the bite. Add corn; cook one more minute. Stir in chicken; adjust salt and pepper levels to your liking.

3. Ladle soup into wide bowls, and top with a generous spoon of créme frâiche, a teaspoon of capers, a handful of avocado, and some cilantro. Serve with a small bowl of chunky salsa on the side.

Notes: I leave the skins on my potatoes for this soup. Russell would prefer it if I peeled the sliced potatoes. Sometimes I do that when I'm not using fingerlings.

Posted by shock on January 31, 2005
January 29, 2005
wi_germain_6_t.gif A lovely article this week in the Wine Section on the folks who make very favorite brandy - Germain-Robin. Go give it a read! They're definitely On The List for our next trip up to Mendocino. (Photo by Craig Lee, from the Chron.)
Posted by shock on January 29, 2005
January 25, 2005
Creamy Potato Soup

My Grandma D. wasn't the same sort of cook that my Grandma H. is, but I do have a few favorite dishes of hers. One of them was her potato soup... simple and hearty, and just the thing for a Meatless Monday dinner.

Of course, I couldn't *just* make it the way she did... I had to give it my own spin. Served with a salad of mesclun, Granny Smith apple, walnuts and extra-sharp cheddar, this soup was just what the doctor ordered for a blustery January night. (Sadly, my camera wasn't cooperating, so you'll just have to imagine what it looked like...)

Creamy Potato Soup

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, halved, cleaned and sliced
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
4 Yellow Finn potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 sprigs thyme
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottomed pan, melt butter in olive oil. Add onion and leek, and saute' until softened and fragrant. Add wine and thyme, and bring to a simmer. Add potatoes and broth, season with salt and pepper, and continue simmering until potatoes are soft.

Once the potatoes have cooked through, lightly puree the soup, either by using an immersion blender, food processor, or regular blender. (I like to leave it a bit chunky and texture-y.) Add cream a little bit at a time, stirring well to combine. Check for seasoning, and add additional salt and/or pepper if needed.

Garnish with chopped scallions, chives, or other fresh chopped herbs. You can also add shredded cheese or crumbled cooked bacon, if desired.

Serves 4-6.

Posted by jenblossom on January 25, 2005
January 23, 2005
IMBB 11: Nacho Soup

I think soup might be one of my very favorite things to cook. When I was doing my morning coffee reading and saw that there was an IMBB event today, my thoughts immediately turned to Derrick asking when I was going to participate again, and then to soup. I thought that a hot bowlful would make a perfect January lunch, so off to the store I went. This soup is based on the citrusey black beans I make for our nachos - hence the garnishes and the name. Many thanks to Cathy at my little kitchen for hosting this round!

For the soup:
5-6 oz shredded chicken meat
2 cans black beans, drained
1 tsp olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, in half-inch dice
4 cups chicken stock
2 shots Grand Marnier
1 Tbsp coriander
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp cumin
salt & pepper to taste
For the shallot relish:
4-5 shallots
2-3 limes
1-inch chunk of gingerroot
fresh cilantro
salt & pepper to taste

Other tasty toppings you might like:
tortilla chips
shredded chedder or crumbled queso fresco
diced avocado
sour cream
chunky salsa

Shallot Relish
1. Peel your shallots, and chop them into quarter inch dice. Stick them in a bowl or a jar. (I like to use an old jam jar, so I can shake up the relish as it marinates.)
2. Mince the ginger. Add about 2 teaspoons to the jar.
3. Chop some cilantro roughly. Add about a teaspoon to the jar.
4. Squeeze limes into your jar until the mixture is covered. Salt & pepper to taste. Put it in the fridge to rest until the soup is ready. It will keep for 2-3 days, but is best served a few hours after you make it.

The Soup
1. Chop onions into half-inch dice. Caramelize them in the olive oil over medium-high, until golden-brown. Add the cumin, chipotle, and coriander; stir for a few moments. Take care to not let the spices burn.
2. Add the Grand Marnier. Scrape up anything that might be stuck to the bottom of your pot. Add the beans. Stir well. Add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Use a blender or a stick blender to puree the soup. I use a stick blender and leave the texture a little rough. Stir in the shredded chicken, and add salt and pepper to taste.

The chips (if you want to bake them yourself)
1. Preheat the oven to 475. Turn on the convection fan, if you have one.
2. Cut corn tortillas into wedges - I do 8 to a tortilla.
3. Arrange the wedges on a baking sheet. Mist with water, and sprinkle salt & smoked paprika over the chips.
4. Bake for 5 minutes. Check frequently - they go from perfect to burned in about 3 heartbeats. Serve warm.

To Serve
1. Ladle soup into warm bowls.
2. Top with a dollop of sour cream, a spoonful of shallot relish, and a spoonful of avocado chunks.
3. Serve with warm tortilla chips and a beer.

Posted by shock on January 23, 2005
January 22, 2005
Sri Lankan Curry Powder

Mary Anne published a delightful cookbook of her family's recipes - A Taste of Serendib. I used several recipes during NYF this year, and recently threw some of the curry powder I made from this recipe onto popcorn, along with some pumpkinseed oil. The cookbook also has a companion site, full of photos and additional advice.

One of the main characteristics of Sri Lankan cooking is that the spices are dark roasted. This gives them an aroma and flavor that is completely different than Indian curries, and you cannot simply substitute yellow curry powder!

1c. coriander seeds
1/2c. cumin seeds
1 T fennel seeds
1 rounded t. fenugreek (methi) seeds
1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches
1 rounded t. whole cloves
1 rounded t. cardamom seeds
2 T dried curry leaves
2 rounded t. red chili powder

1. In a dry pan over medium heat, roast seperately the coriander, cumin, fennel and fenugreek, stirring constantly until each one becomes a fairly dark brown. Do not attempt to save time by roasting them together - they each have differnt cooking times and you will only end up half-cooking some and burning others.

2. Put into a blender container (I use a coffee grinder that is dedicated solely to spice grinding) together with the cinnamon stick broken into pieces, the cloves, cardamom and curry leaves.

3. Blend at high speed until finely powdered. Sieve into a bowl, discarding any large pieces, and combine with chilie powder; stir well. Store in airtight jar.

(reprinted with the kind permission of the author)

Posted by shock on January 22, 2005
January 19, 2005

I love the SF Chronicle's Rent-A-Grandma project. I posted a bit about the first two installments earlier. They've just updated with the lastest pairing. Go read! It's charming and delicious.

Posted by shock on January 19, 2005
January 18, 2005
Popcorn II

Last year, I posted my method for home-movie popcorn. I still make that variety, but I've been playing around with silly toppings again lately, and found a few more that I think are winners.

I'm reprinting the method - but if you want the original parmesan/paprika toppping, you'll have to go back to the original post!

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Drop a single kernel of popcorn in. When it pops, your oil is hot enough. Add the rest of the popping corn, cover, and shake. You needn't shake violently - a gentle back and forth rocking will do. Enjoy the sound.

When popping slows to 1-2 pops a second, turn off the heat and turn the popcorn into a bowl big enough for tossing 4 quarts of popcorn. Important: you need to dress the popcorn while it's still really hot. If you need a few minutes, pop the bowl into an oven that's set to 200F.

Curried popcorn - enough for a batch made with 1/4 unpopped kernels
1 tsp pumpkinseed oil
2-4 tsp olive oil
2-3 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder

While the popcorn is still hot, drizzle the pumpkinseed oil slowly. Toss popcorn well. Add 2 tsp olive oil, and toss. Add curry powder. Toss. Add the remaining olive oil, and more curry powder & salt to taste. Toss. Stop with the salt and curry powder just before one bite is perfect - the spices will build as you eat the bowl.

Silly Japanese popcorn - enough for a batch made with 1/4 unpopped kernels
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2-4 tsp olive oil
2 tsp powdered sushi vinegar
1-2 tbsp of your favorite sprinkle (I used a simple Nori one)

While the popcorn is still hot, drizzle the sesame oil slowly over it. Toss popcorn well. Add half the powdered sushi vinegar and a generous shaking of sprinkle. Add 2 tsp olive oil, toss well. Adjust sprinkle, salt, and vinegar powder levels to taste. (Particularly nice with an Asahi.)

Posted by shock on January 18, 2005
Edamame with mustard sauce

I made this salad to go along with some Quorn cutlets that we were trying out for the first time. I was a little nervous that the Quorn cutlets would be nasty, but we were pleasantly surprised. Luckily, the salad was also quite good. I highly recommend - especially if you are a fan of dijon mustard.

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1 pound shelled raw edamame
1 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley

2 tbsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt

Boil raw edamame beans for no longer than 4 minutes. Add red onions and celery into the boiling water for 1 additional minute. Drain well. Chill one full hour.

Whisk all four sauce ingredients together and chill.

After beans, onions and celery are fully chilled, toss lightly with mustard sauce and serve cold.

Posted by merry on January 18, 2005
January 15, 2005
herbed chicken breasts with tomatillo salsa and queso fresco

I am done with winter. I am pretending that spring is almost here. So I made a warm-weather sort of dinner tonight with this recipe from the Jan/Feb 2005 Cooking Light. The tomatillos brightened the flavor, but the queso fresco made it glorious. Lord knows I'm easy where cheese is concerned, but queso fresco is good cheese. Salty cheese + tangy salsa = yummy goodness.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare salsa, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add 1/2 pound tomatillos (about 10 small), husks and stems removed, 1 garlic clove, and 1/2 to 1 serrano chile; cook 7 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Combine tomatillos, garlic, chile, 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, 1/4 cup coarsely chopped onion, 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor or blender; pulse 4 to 5 times or until coarsely chopped. Set aside.

To prepare chicken, place 3 (1-ounce) slices white bread in a food processor, and pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1 1/2 cups. Arrange crumbs on a baking sheet; bake at 350 degrees or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

Place each of 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper; sprinkle evenly over chicken.

Place breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Place 1 large egg, lightly beaten, in another shallow dish. Dip chicken in egg; dredge in breadcrumbs.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Top chicken with salsa, and sprinkle with queso fresco cheese. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges, if desired. Yield: 4 servings.

Posted by astraea on January 15, 2005
January 14, 2005

(I like to say it fast, all run together like that - winebloggingwednesday.) The "Is My Blog Burning" phenomenon is taking off - they even have their own domain now. Sugar-High Fridays and Wine-Blogging Wednesdays are following to increase the fun.

I think it's high time we played more - I'm going to start posting the events, and encouraging all you gourmands to participate. The next one that looks fun: Chez Pim's hosting January's Wine Blogging Wednesday.....

The game? Pick a wine with a wacky name. Drink it! Write up a review, and post it live here on the 26th of January. We'll trackback to Pim, who'll round up the results and post back to her blog. Fun!

I have my wine picked out... do you?

Posted by shock on January 14, 2005
January 11, 2005
Eggnog Cream Cheese Pie

* For the Lactose Intolerant *

I modified this Cooking Light Dec 2004 recipe to be lactose intolerant friendly. Why should dairy-digesters have all the holiday cheesecake fun?

(Barely-Dairy) Eggnog Cream Cheese Pie
1 pre-made graham cracker crust
32 low fat graham crackers (8 cracker sheets)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons soy margerine, melted
1 large white egg (or equiv. egg substitute)
Cooking Spray

1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1 cup (8 oz) Toffutti non-dairy cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup Silk Soy Egg Nog
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.

If you don't leverage a pre-made crust (which I'm a big fan of), you'll need to prepare the crust. Place crackers in the food processor; process until crumbly. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar, soy margerine, and 1 egg white; pulse until just moist. Press crumb mixture into a cooking-spray coated 9-inch pie pan. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes; cool on a rack for 15.

Reduce oven temp to 325. Prepare the filling: spoon yogurt into several layers of paper towels and spread to a 1/2 inch thickness. Cover with additional paper towels and let stand 5 minutes. (Why, you ask? I think it's to absorb all extra liquid off the yogurt.) Scrape yogurt into bowl using a rubber spatula. Place 'cream cheese' and vanilla in a fresh bowl, beat with mixer at a medium speed until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine sugar, flour, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Add sugar mixture to cheese mixture and beat until combined. Add yogurt to cheese mixture; add egg nog. Beat at low speed until just combined.

Beat 2 egg whites with a mixer at meduim speed until soft peaks form. Add 2 tabelspoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gentle fold the egg whites into the eggnog mixture. Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake at 325 for 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool completely on wire rack. Chill overnight.

The recipe I massaged this from also described a Bourbon Cream whipped topping, but I think the pie stands on its own with just a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. I'm a huge eggnog-a-holic, and the pie this recipe yields could have even been more 'noggie' for me and I would have been happy - but it's a damn fine holiday pie in it's own right, and a great lactose-free alternative for folks who can't stomach the cow. Save this recipe for next year when the nog starts showing up in your local dairy case.

Posted by rebecca on January 11, 2005
January 09, 2005
Oysters "they taste like the ocean"

So a recent entery to my 2005 uberlist was to show my partner how to shuck an oyster at home. We randomly found some Pacific BBQ Oysters at Whole Foods today and his eyes lit up and he all but shouted in one long streaming sentence:
"wecouldbuyoystersandtakethemhome! - andyoucouldshowmehowtoopenthem!"

I'd never had this variety, but they were large-shelled and the joints were easy to view - I figured it was a good "starter oyster" for him. I grinned like a kid, agreed happily, politely shunned the first bottle of "cocktail sauce" he picked up, and showed him the Mr. Today's brand with horseradish and a mean kick.

And lo and behold there was an oyster knife nearby to purchase as well, sort of necessary, and really the only thing keeping me from buying oysters hence.

Anyway, it was funny watching the checker try to hide her profound digust. She couldn't resist her "but they taste like the ocean" comment, which brought back fond memories of scuba diving in college. In truth, she's right. They do. But each species has their own unique twist. This comment was met with another dubious look. We tilted our bag of ocean booty at her in thanks, and we were off.

After some ooohs and ahhhs while demonstrating for him once we got home and chilled up the oysters - he soon had toweled oyster in hand, and oyster knife at the ready. Then the cursing started. Then the "I can't believe this" and "this cheap piece of..." The curse? The oyster knife made by Oxo. Don't go there. Bad. When we were done with 12 oysters it looked more like taffy than a blade.

Anyway, after cleaning and chilling your oysters for about an hour, make sure all are tightly closed. Discard those that aren't. Place an oyster with the flatter side up in a towel so the pointed end (hinge of the oyster shell) is facing you. Oyster shells can be rough, pointy, or slippery - hence, that towel. Get a good grip on the oyster and place the tip of your oyster knife in the hinge - look for a good spot (there's usually a very visual gap), but if you get a crumbly spot move to another one. Wedge the tip of the blade into the hinge, then push and twist the knife until the hinge separates (sometimes with a satisfying "pop"). Open the oyster and slide the blade under the meat of the top half to cut the muscle and meat away from the shell. Do the same with the bottom. Pick out any bits of shell (but try to save the juice!). It gets easier with practice. Really!

All told - a mixed experience preparation-wise. There was the first-timer shell-shattering, an oyster down the kitchen sink, and oh yes, there was the cursing, but all in all I think he'd be very interested in trying the seasonal varities in the future. Now we just need a better knife....

Posted by adam on January 09, 2005
January 08, 2005
patrick's birthday cake

i made a chocolate cake with mascarpone and toasted almond frosting. the original recipe was found on epicurious (i have posted the original chocolate cake with mascarpone and praline recipe). the one i made i tweaked a bit.

i doubled the recipe and instead of a single layer cake with topping, i filled and topped it. i used toasted sliced almonds and didn't have any of the praline.
i added lemond zest to the mascarpone. oh and i put a little shaved chocolate on the top as well.

the cake was a dense chcolate that reminded me of pudding. if you are in need of a birthday cake you should give this one a try.


For praline
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
1/2 cup hazelnuts
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

For cake
3 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk

8 ounces mascarpone cheese (about 1 cup) at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Make praline:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a baking pan toast nuts in one layer in middle of oven 10 minutes, or until almonds are lightly colored and hazelnut skins are blistered. Wrap nuts in a kitchen towel and let steam 1 minute. Rub nuts in towel to remove any loose hazelnut skins (do not worry about skins that do not come off) and cool completely.

Line a baking sheet with foil. In a small heavy saucepan bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil syrup, without stirring, washing down any sugar crystals that cling to side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, until it begins to turn golden. Swirl pan until syrup is deep golden and remove from heat. Stir in nuts and pour praline onto baking sheet, spreading evenly. Cool praline completely and break into pieces. Transfer praline to a sealable plastic bag and with a rolling pin coarsely crush.

Make cake:
Preheat oven to 300°F. Generously butter a 9-inch round cake pan (at least 2 inches deep) and line bottom with wax or parchment paper. Butter paper and dust pan with flour, knocking out excess.

Finely chop chocolate. In a small saucepan combine cocoa powder, butter, oil, and water. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring until smooth, and remove pan from heat. Add chocolate and sugar, whisking until smooth, and transfer to a bowl. Cool chocolate mixture completely and whisk in egg. Sift flour and baking powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Whisk in buttermilk and pour batter into cake pan, spreading evenly. Bake cake in middle of oven 45 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean, and cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge of pan and invert cake onto rack. Discard paper. Cool cake completely and transfer to a plate. In a bowl stir together mascarpone and sugar. Spread mixture over top of cake and generously sprinkle with praline.

Posted by karine on January 08, 2005
ma po tofu

Going out, dealing with the rain for like the tenth day running? Bad. Staying in, cooking dinner for Laura and Mikko? Good. If Mikko turned up his nose at this simple Chinese stir-fry from the January/February 2005 issue of Cooking Light because it was mostly tofu I was all ready to tell him to shut up and eat it, it's good for his prostate. Fortunately no such declaration was necessary. I used only the minimum amount of chili garlic sauce out of deference to the fact that Laura is still breast-feeding, but the dish still had a nice spice to it. I rounded out the supper with fruit salad and sparkling apple cider.

Place 1 (1-pound) package reduced-fat firm tofu, cut into 6 slices, on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Place a dinner plate on top of covered tofu; let stand 30 minutes. Remove plate; discard paper towels. Cut tofu slices into 1/2-inch cubes.

Combine 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, and 1 to 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee), stirring with a whisk.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 ounces lean ground pork; cook 4 minutes or until done, stirring to crumble. Add 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger and 3 garlic cloves, minced; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tofu; cook 4 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Add broth mixture to pan. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat.

Serve tofu mixture over 2 cups hot cooked long-grain brown rice. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped green onions. Yield: 4 servings.

Posted by astraea on January 08, 2005
January 07, 2005
shanghai'd basilisk
My uberlist for 2004 included the line "67. Create at least one cocktail that showcases a Hangar One vodka." Coming in just under the wire, I came up with this orange & basil cocktail to start off our New Year's Feast this year. I've been seeing (and trying) more cocktails with savory herbs in them; I wanted to try my hand at the same. This is definitely a strong cocktail, with clean flavors.

Hangar One makes fantastic vodkas - I highly recommend you try them out.

2 oz Hangar One Mandarin Blossom vodka
5-6 fresh basil leaves
2-3 drops fresh lemon juice
2-3 drops simple syrup
a few brandied cherries for garnish

Combine vodka, basil leaves, lemon juice and simple syrup in a shaker over lots and lots of ice. Shake really hard - you want this thing really cold, and you want to break up the basil.

Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry. (None of those nasty maraschino cherries here, please.)

Posted by shock on January 07, 2005

A hearty congratulations out to the folks at Too Many Chefs on the Best Group Food Blog award. It's well-deserved; I enjoy your writing tremendously!

(We're still pretty tickled over here to have made finalist - thanks to everyone who got involved and voted!)

Posted by shock on January 07, 2005
January 04, 2005
Blog Awards

Two announcements:
One: Kate over at Accidental Hedonist is revealing the Food Blog Awards this week - a few a day. The voting turnout was pretty impressive - thanks to everyone who participated, and congratulations especially to my neighbor Alder, who picked up "Best Food Blog - Wine, beer & other spirits" for Vinography.

Two: Kate, it looks like you were successful at raising awareness - I went to nominate some folks for Bloggies a few minutes ago, and noticed that they've added a category this year - for Best Food Blog. Awesome!

Posted by shock on January 04, 2005
January 02, 2005
NYF 2004
a place setting teaser, plated crepeteaserthumb.jpg sbthumb1.jpg shooterthumb.jpg soupthumb.jpg
This year's NYF was beset by a rather silly theme: "Around The World in Eight Courses". Despite the wacky travel, the courses seemed to transition nicely from region to region; we even managed to through the cheese course and enjoyed hot chocolate chip cookies with our Veuve Cliquot midnight toasts. The big winners of the evening were definitely the gnocchi, the curries, and the ceviche.
curriesplatedthumb.jpg gnocchithumb.jpg orzothumb.jpg cevichethumb.jpg cheesethumb.jpg dessertthumb.jpg tablethumb.jpg

We served most courses with regionally appropriate beverages - a newly designed cocktail with the teasers, Asahi with the soup (I wanted Bababa, but couldn't find any on short notice), a white reisling and a dry muscat with the curries, a red and a white bordeaux with the gnocchi, a rioja and an albariño with the pork, Cusqueñas with the ceviche, and champagne at midnight.

The gnocchi were especially interesting for me; Parisienne gnocchi are made with pate a choux, rather than the potato-based dough I'm familiar with. (Pate a choux is the same stuff you use to make cream puffs and gougeres.) Cooking them is a dual-stage game: first squirt inch-long pieces out of a pastry tube into simmering water and poach them; later pan-fry them in butter.

The menu, in all its full-color glory.

shanghai'd basiliks (Mandarin orange & basil martini)
proscuitto or crepes with warm sage oil and chestnuts (and a port-reduced shallot)

kumamoto oysters with sake & caviar
shiitake mushroom with sake

canh chua dau hou (Buddhist sour soup; tofu, pineapple, tamarind, tomato, and oyster mushrooms)

crab & coconut curry
shrimp & tamarind curry
tofu, carrot & tamarind curry

gnocchi a l’alsacienne (gnocchi pan-fried with hedgehog mushrooms, sage-fried butternut squash, and a brown-butter, lemon & parsley sauce)

costillas con setas (pork belly short ribs cooked with mushrooms & sherry)
sherry-hazelnut orzo with asparagus
cauliflower with saffron & pinenuts

scallop & halibut ceviche salad

san andreas with fig-sesame conserve

saffron crème brulee
crema de chocolate
warm chocolate chip cookies

Posted by shock on January 02, 2005
January 01, 2005
celery-celeriac soup with roquefort croutons

First day of the new year? Time to make winter soup, of course. I'm no friend of celery but this Celery-Celeriac Soup with Roquefort Croutons from the December 2004 Cooking Light changed my mind...temporarily at least. It was pure refreshing hot green love. Carol and I ate many bowls.

To prepare soup, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 cup thinly sliced leek (about 1 large) and 1/2 cup chopped shallots; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in 4 cups chopped peeled celeriac (celery root; about 2 medium), 1 1/2 cups cubed peeled Yukon gold potato, 1 cup water, 2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, 2 thyme springs, and 2 bay leaves; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in 2 cups thinly sliced celery, 1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper; simmer 10 minutes (do not boil). Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves and thyme.

Place half of celery mixture in a blender; process until smooth. Pour pureed celery mixture into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining celery mixture. Stir in 1/4 cup half-and-half.

Preheat broiler.

To prepare croutons, arrange 8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices French bread baguette in a single layer on a baking sheet; coat with cooking spray. Broil 1 minute or until golden. Turn bread over; sprinkle bread with 1 tablespoon crumbled Roquefort cheese. Broil 1 minute or until cheese melts; cool 1 minute on baking sheet. Place bread on a cutting board; cut each bread slice into 6 wedges to form croutons. Ladle about 1 cup soup into each of 8 bowls; top each serving with 6 croutons. Serve immediately. Yield: 8 servings.

Posted by astraea on January 01, 2005