Done is good. But done well is so much f***in' bettah.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cucina Cucina

This is a post to honor Betsy and her appreciation for food--specifically, traditional Italian food prepared with fresh ingredients in la Cucina Ciotola. Here you'll see some antipasti (a bean salad, Campari in gingerale), a butter and tomato sauce on homemade tagliatelle, a side dish of baked asparagas with parmigiano, and Andy and Betsy enjoying Strega, an Italian liquor. The first photo is from a different meal, which included the sausage and sauteed greens with breadcrumbs Betsy's eating. I didn't take photos at every course, or every dinner, but Betsy, I hope these give you good memories of our feasts. Cheers! For recipes, I recommend Marcella Hazan, the master...


Monday, April 30, 2007

Poker Feast

We made such a feast for Poker Night at the Seattle Po Fest. So much food that I had to make a video to get it all in. Joshua was responsible for the roasted brussel sprouts, sweet potato fries, and roasted lemon chicken. matt rocked the roasted red peppers. i braised and garlicked the arugula. there were olives, chesses, salamis, strawberries, blood oranges, figs, wine, wine, and wine. here, take a looky:

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

chicken happiness soup

Chicken Happiness Soup

I wanted to call this Advanced Winter Soup, or Anti-Schadenfreude Soup, but in either case, it's yellow, it's pretty, and it will cheer you up!
(This is adapted from Yellow Happiness Soup in the Nigella Lawson cookbooks. )
You'll need:

Some leftover chicken meat -- about one piece worth
2 large or 3 small yellow squash
zest and juice of one large lemon
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3 T olive oil
4 cups chicken stock (recipe follows, but boullion cube works, though it should probably not be substituted with veggie boullion)
1/2 cup white basmati rice
little handful of roasted pine nuts (optional)
sea salt

1. Wash squash. Don't have to peel them. Cut them in slices and then mince (or use food processor).
2. In a good sized pot, saute the squash and lemon zest with the oil for about 5 minutes or until soft.
3. Add in tumeric, cumin, lemon juice, some salt, and then the broth.
4. Bring it to a boil and add the chicken and rice. Let simmer for 10-20 minutes or until the rice is done.
5. This soup seems to be better warm that hot. Cold is good too, the way cold pizza is good, but not exactly!

If you have a leftover whole chicken or parts of one, this is a good way to make broth and you can do it a few days in advance.

Put chicken bones/ carcass (hopefully with a little meat on them) in big pot. Cover with water. Put in 2 stalks of celery chopped, a carrot chopped, and the yellow skins of two onions, pinch of herbal seasoning (Italian seasoning/basil/oregano/bayleaf), salt, a peppercorn or two.

Simmer for an hour. Let cool. Pick as much meat off the bones as you can and put it in the broth if you want. Put in fridge. When cold, skim off some of the fat.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

easiest smoothie

I was inspired by all Betsy's smoothie recipes to share this oldie from my friend Margaret. It's a good save for those dying bananas.

1 banana (very speckled and fragrant, cut up, and put in a freezer bag and frozen over night.)
1/2 C frozen blueberries
1 dollop of low or non-fat plain yoghurt
Honey (optional)
Little squeeze of lemon (optional)
Sprig of mint (optional)

Put it all in the blender. It will take a lot of blending, stopping, poking and moving the fruit, blending, stopping, etc. till the thing mixes.

Mmmm. It's almost like ice cream, and really good for you. In fact, freezing it and stirring it a little makes it more so.

Next: Christmas cookies.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Dinner With Betsy

Son-in-Law Eggs (hard-boiled & fried eggs covered with crispy onions and shallots, tamarind-fish sauce, and cilantro).

Non-traditional Som Tum (Granny Smith apples tossed with lime juice, garlic, fish sauce, herbs, lime leaves, chiles, & peanuts)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Having a Souptastic Fall?

I know I am :) This is one of J's favorites - White Bean Soup with Bacon and Fennel

4 strips bacon, chopped
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs (discard tops down to the white, core, halve, and thinly slice)
1 large white onion (halved and thinly sliced)
2 or 3 cloves garlic (crushed, minced, however you prefer the flavor)
1 T white wine vinegar
3 cans Cannellini beans (or if you are more patient than I, you'll soak and cook your own from dry beans)
1 large container chicken broth (like one of those tall paper ones)
1-2 cups water
4-inch sprig fresh rosemary, or 2 tsp. dried (* if you are not a rosemary fan, it is good with sage instead)
Salt and pepper to taste

In your soup pot, saute the bacon pieces until they begin to brown, and add the sliced fennel and onion. If the sauteeing needs a dab of olive oil, go ahead with that. Once they begin to soften, add the garlic and saute a minute longer. Deglaze with the vinegar. Add the remaining ingredients (I generally find it's good to mash one can's worth of the beans with a fork or potato masher, to slightly thicken the soup) and simmer at least 40 minutes. Remove that rosemary sprig.

This is my variation. The original recipe called for porcini mushrooms (soak 3 or 4 dry mushrooms in 1 1/2 cups superhot water for 20 minutes, squeeze them out and mince them, strain the broth through a cloth into the soup), AND it adds cheese tortellini at the end, which makes it superlarge (I have done it, it feeds minions), but I like it this way (and it's simpler).

This is really great with some good ciabatta-type bread, sliced up, lightly brushed with olive oil, and quickly browned on a hot griddle or cast iron skillet. As a fancier plate, believe it or not this soup is good as a kind of ragout under a seared piece of tuna.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Lunch: Hummus Melt w/Veggies

I burned the shit outta my finger making this today, but I think it was worth it. Nothing fancy, really, which is why it is perfect for making at lunchtime. Sautee zukes, onion, red & green pepper. When the onions begin to brown a little, add salt & pepp and a dash of red wine vinegar, lower heat and cover pan. Let them simmer and carmelize for a few minutes. While the veggies are cooking, brush two pieces of nice bread w/olive oil on one side. Smear inside with hummus (yes, both sides...this is important for stickage and delicious factor). Place done veggies on one side of bread and into pan. On top of veggies, put a few pieces of cheese ( i used vermont cheddar, completely ignoring my wisconsin roots). Place other piece of bread on top, and grill both sides of sammie. The hummus glue keeps it all together. Would have been great with a coke, but I had to settle for water (boo). I ate it with one hand, while the other throbbed in pain, the tips of two fingers covered in solarcaine and held in ice water. Poor me. But lucky you, if you make this sammie and don't hurt yourself doing so.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Harvest Smoothie

Apple Cinnamon Vanilla Smoothie

1 apple, cut into eighths, leaving skin on (I used a nice red Northern Spy)
1 cup vanilla soy milk
1 dollop plain yogurt
4 ice cubes
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened, but if you use sweetened, use less sugar below)
2 tablespoons sugar or honey
2 tablespoons cinnamon (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Makes two medium glasses of delicious apple cinnamon smoothie. You'll notice little red or green apply flecks in the smoothie's thick white goodness, from the blended apple peel. I'd consider adding peanut butter or a dollop of caramel if I were feeling especially autumnal. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Braising Greens

I've recently been experimenting with braising greens--inspired by my friend Rebecca when I went to visit her and her family last weekend in GorgeOus Ithaca. We were discussing how sensible it seems to eat cooked vegetables instead of fresh vegetables as the weather outside gets colder. And since we are both constantly changing our diets for health reasons, and since for the moment that means we're both trying to do whatever our acupuncturists tell us to do, and they tell us to eat hot and seasonal food--- bring on the braised greens!

Rebecca made for me this incredibly tasty, healthy, and super simple lunch of braised greens with potstickers. Just sautee onions, carrots, (i think beets would be good too) and garlic in sesame oil. Add the greens (bok choy and chard) and mix. Add tamari, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar. Cover and periodically stir until greens wilt down. Serve with potstickers (in this case, the frozen ones. but i'd love to make my own, since it's impossible to get even the frozen ones around here).

This new cooking venture reminded me of a dish I made a few times earlier this spring, when I was getting spinach from my CSA by the armful, and it wasn't yet super hot outside. This recipe also uses brussels sprouts. I know they get a bad rap, but I actually really like brussels sprouts. I didn't know this until about 2 years ago, but I think they're quite tasty. Of course, pretty much anything is good if you cook it in butter. The recipe I found for this said to boil the spinach and sprouts first and then cook in a frying pan after, but i think braising is a better route. A few things make this recipe seem dated. One being the use of butter (which I've joyously cut from my diet) the other the use of spinach (pre E-coli scare-- but yet another good reason to have the CSA). In any case, I hope you enjoy this sort of strange but surpisingly good dish. I served it with polenta. (does it count as "serving" if you are just serving it to yourself? probably not.)

for one serving, you need:
~ spinach (about two good handfuls)
~ brussels srouts (5-10 depending)
~ apple, peeled, cored, sliced thin (i usually go for fuji, but i think honey crisp would be good too)
~ small onion
~ clove garlic
~ buttah
~ salt, pepp
~ cinnamon

sautee the onion and garlic in the butter, season. toss in the b.sprouts and sautee for a minute or two. add apples and mix. add spinach, lower heat and cover. periodically turn until done. add dash of cinnamon and serve it up.

So, any braised veg recipes I would love to have from you all, my favorite foodies (if any of you are still out there). And is anyone else incredibly psyched for soup season? I am, I am!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

My Favorite Way to Drink Juice

I admit that I stole this recipe from the Haymarket Cafe in Northampton, Mass. It was so good that when I took the first sip, I inadvertantly said aloud "holy shit!"... much to the embarrassment/entertainment of MZ and the barista. I think that's a compliment though, don't you? Anyhow, this is my version of the "What's Up, Doc?":

one banana
two carrots
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
4 ice cubes
one dollop plain yogurt
honey to your taste
2 pinches cinnamon
1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder**
1 Tbsp flax seed oil**

** my additions, and not at all necessary for the deliciousness of this drink

blend it all up and there ya go! it will have you inadvertently spouting expletives. though hopefully not in public, like me. oh, and the glass in the photo is a shoutout to my mpls peeps. you get a free pint glass from the Uptown Bar & Cafe when you order their big bloody marys or screwdrivers. we used to go there almost every weekend for brunch...guess how many glasses i have in my collection...

A Little Something for Salmon

Sorry to have been away from the Table for so long... i've not home much the past month or two to do any posting (or much cooking), but i've got a bunch of recipes (and photos!) just ready for sharing at the Table, so keep checking back...

for now, i've got a recipe for a sauce for salmon that is so yummy, it works on the sides too. i'm a huge fan of sauces (usually i say, if there's nothing to dip it in, then why bother eating it?). This is especially good in summer b/c the sauce is great with fresh asparagus or green beans too. Last night i made it with green beans and red potatoes from my local Grower's Market. I pan-seared the salmon (my favorite way, because of the nice crunch it makes on the top).

The Saucey Sauce:
2 shallots (although I used a small onion and 2 cloves garlic b/c that's what came in my CSA box this week)
rosemary (the leaves off maybe 2 full stems...i don't think you can overdo rosemary)
4 Tbsp butter (best is Amish roll butter, of course...though these days i'm using Smart Balance...but never for guests)
juice of two lemons (but i like a lot of lemon, you might only want one)
1/2 cup white wine (i guess it should be dry, but i use whatever i have in the house)
salt & pepper

In the pan you used to sear the salmon, melt the butter, add the shallots (or whatever) and rosemary and lemon juice, bring it to a simmer and add the wine...leave on heat until the wine cooks off... drizzle over salmon, potatoes, and beans.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Asparagus a la Tony

A good trick for asparagus. Grill or roast asparagus then drizzle with a vinaigrette made from extra virgin olive oil (Colavita is a good supermarket brand), fresh lemon zest and juice, black peppter, salt, and a bit of honey. Poach an egg and place on top. Finish with grated hard cheese. I used a pecorino romano here, but asiago, parmigiano, and so forth would work as well.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Roasted Red Pepper & Eggplant Sandwich w/Goat Cheese

First of all, I can attest to the wonderful deliciousness of Lori's grilled asparagus. yumyumyum... (can't wait to hang with you guys summer-style on the porch so very soon!!!...)

okay, so for some grilling favorites. i'm not a pro at the grill (not really a pro anywhere, but esp not at the grill) and i admit a bit sheepishly that i like cheesy brats. i know, they're totally grody but i still like them. (i'm from wisconsin, people, give me a break.) however, i have an idea for a sandwich made off the grill. i've only done this in the oven, but i think it would be way better grilled...

stick two red bell pepps on the grill and roast 'em 'til they're all burned on the outside. stick 'em in a plastic ziplock bag and let them sweat a little for about 10 minutes--this will help you get the skins off. peel off the blackened skins, tear open, de-seed, and cut in long strips. also onto the grill, throw eggplant slices drizzled w/olive oil (peeled and sliced about 1/4" thick). you may want to season those a bit--salt, pep, maybe grill seasoning, maybe a little cayenne, paprika... get yourself some good crusty baguette bread, or ciabatta, or your favorite sturdy roll, cut in half, and smear with a generous amount of spreadable goat cheese. when the grilling’s done, stack the bread with the peppers and eggplant and you’ve got yourself a knockout sandwich.

in other grilling news: the other night on emeril’s show, he was doing a grilled soup. well, you know what I mean, grilling the veggies for soup. it looked sooo good. grilled red bells, tomatoes, and red onions, then thown in a pot with water, chix stock, a little apple cider vinegar, a little sugar, some other stuff I can’t remember and then all hand-blended. he added cream and topped with some sort of French bacon. looked like a perfect summer soup. better hurry make it now before it gets all damn hot again.

Monday, May 29, 2006


Hey, the grilling season could not come fast enough for me - so glad it's here. I've just had a weekend full of sausages, burgers, etc., which I love, but that gets old fast.

So let's share some ideas -- two things you love to grill, that perhaps aren't the first thing you'd think of? Two from me:

1) Grilled asparagus (alot grown locally around here, so it's fresh and plentiful during the short season) - I usually just toss it with olive oil, salt and pepper, sometimes with a little lemon zest and a touch of fresh lemon juice.

2) Grilled mango, so easy, just halve them and then score the skin well in a diamond pattern - once grilled for just 3-4 minutes, the skin will peel off easily, flip kind of inside out. Great with fish.

What are your great grill-finds?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

stuffed french toast

ok, maybe this is really elementary and unsophisticated for a first post...but people, it's fucking amazing on a weekend morning. you'll need:

a loaf of soft, sweet bread (challah or that Hawaiian brand bread from the supermarket)
milk or cream
cream cheese (whipped works best)
fruit: banana slices are yummy, or blueberry preserves

1. cut thick slices of bread--almost double the normal thickness (say about 2 inches)
2. cut "envelopes" into each thick slice by cutting almost all of the way through...but not quite
3. stuff the bread with a spoonful of cream cheese and some fruit or jam
4. dip in egg/cream/cinnamon batter
5. grill up and eat

the cc gets all melty. you can't go wrong. plus it makes your friends think you know what the hell you're doing in the kitchen. which i don't.


Sortof Sushi

I saw this recipe on some food show on PBS, can't remember which one, but it was for a quick Ahi Tuna dish. It is indeed very quick--I whipped it up for JB & me in about 15 minutes, but it tastes all gourmet n stuff. (The least I could do for him letting me crash all week in his Brooklyn pad). Sort of like a version of the avocado tuna cucumber roll, but without the seaweed. So, here's the recipe. Serves 2:

Shopping List:
1 lb Ahi Tuna
2 lemons
One Cucumber
One Avocado
Brown Rice (or any kind you prefer)
SeaSalt & Coarse Pepper

The sauce
Plain Yoghurt. The fattier the better, though lowfat is fine too, it just tends to be soupier. One cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded (scoop out with a spoon), and chopped. Whip the yoghurt up with a sqeeze of 1/2 lemon, a tad bit of salt, and throw in the cukes.

The Avocado
Peeled, Pitted, and sliced. Squeeze on the other 1/2 lemon.

The Fish:
Heat a large skillet to HIGH heat, cover bottom of pan in Grapeseed Oil or some other oil good for cooking at high heat (not OliveOil, which I know now thanks to Dean the Dream). Season the tuna with a lot of pepper, and a little seasalt (i think i used too much, but it was balanced out w/the yoghurt and no salt in the rice). Sear it quickly on each side; you really only need 30 seconds or up to a minute on each side, depending on how rare you want it. The meat is so good, I think it's best the rarer you cook it--which of course makes it closer to sushi, but it's good for people who shudder at sushi too. Slice and plate over rice, stack in the avo, and drizzle it all with the sauce. Yummers.