Sunday, March 30, 2008

pasta treats

Whenever I go to that make-me-happy place that is Fairway, I just want to buy everything. I curse my weak arms and shoulders for only being able to carry a certain amount. But I've recently acquired a little cloth cart with if I want to buy 5 lbs of leeks, just try and stop me! Which brings us to now...what is one to do with a crap-load of leeks? Well, see here for the first use. And below you can see how the remaining ones met their demise. This is super tasty, and pretty easy to make.
I use deli ham, though you can substitute deli turkey or leftover ham or turkey.

Pasta with Leeks in a Cream Sauce

2 tbsp butter
4 leeks, thoroughly washed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
1 cup chicken broth
1 c heavy cream
3 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 lb deli ham, julienned

Melt butter over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic and salt and cook over med-low heat until the leeks soften (approx 10 minutes).
Add the chicken broth and let cook down to approx 1/4 cup.
Add the cream and let thicken.
Add the parsley and ham, heat the ham through, and remove from heat.
Serve over pasta (makes enough for 1 lb pasta).

Side Note re: Broth - I never use real stock or broth. Who wants to carry all that heavy liquid from the store? And make it from scratch, forget it, too time consuming. So I use bullion cubes, and I'm not ashamed. Keep in mind that bullion cubes usually have more salt than stock, so adjust the recipe accordingly.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Taters and Salmon

So I think we had a relatively successful dinner party the other night...never mind that I didn't get dinner on the table until around 11pm (sorry guys!). But when the food actually hit the table, I think it was...well, a hit.

So here are the recipes I used, in case anyone who was there (or anyone else in the general vicinity) wants to know. These each make enough for about 10 people, so adjust the amounts if cooking for fewer. FYI, the potatoes reheat very well.

Potato Gratin

5 cloves garlic, 4 minced, 1 halved
3 tbsp butter
1 1/4 c milk
1 c heavy cream
1 tsp kosher salt
2 pinches nutmeg
2 1/2 lbs russet potatoes

combine peeled, thinly sliced potatoes with minced garlic, milk, cream, 2 tbsp of the butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 3 minutes
Meanwhile, rub the cut side of the remaining garlic clove over a baking dish, and butter the dish with the remaining 1 tbsp butter.
Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and cover with buttered tin foil
Bake for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 25-40 (until the liquid bubbles thickly and the top is browned)
Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


4 leeks, thoroughly washed and chopped
1 c dry white wine
2 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
3 lb salmon fillet
salt & pepper

Combine the leeks, wine, mustard, salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Place the salmon on top and season with more salt and pepper. Tightly cover with tinfoil so no moisture escapes and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 20 - 25 minutes (cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the salmon) until the salmon is light pink and flaky.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


So I don't know about the rest of you, but these few warmer days we've been having have made me want summer.....really want summer. You know, sun, long days, the heat. I love this city more than anything, but I been missing the country. All I want to do right now is sit outside, maybe go for a swim, and think about what I'm making for dinner. That pretty much sums up summer for me. Get up, have breakfast and plan dinner, go food shopping, play tennis/swim/lounge about, cook for anyone in the vicinity...and of course, you can't forget the 6 pm martini on the deck. And with an ever changing bunch of anywhere from three to 20 people, there's a lot of food preparation going on. Now I would never imply that I do this alone, I am blessed with a family of amazing cooks.

Now back to the 6 pm martini on the deck: the muffin-family martini is gin, a splash of vermouth, lots of ice (it's hot, remember) and a lemon slice. And to go with this -- so you don't get too drunk to cook dinner -- you need little munchies, my fav being bruschetta.

Bruschetta on the Deck (I'm trying to work on my titles, bear with me)

I like to use plum tomatoes, they tend to hold their shape better and are easier to de-seed.

10 plum tomatoes, chopped and de-seeded (as best you can)
1 small onion (white or yellow), very finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
salt & pepper
vinegar (I've been using Champagne Vinegar, but White Wine Vinegar would work too, just use less of it)

baguette and garlic cloves, peeled

slice the bread into thin slices and place on a baking sheet. Put under the broiler, flipping once to toast each side. Rub one side of each slice with the cut side of the raw garlic. Spoon the tomato mixture over the top, making sure to add enough of the juice to soak through to the bread. Eat immediately!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Deviled Eggs with Crabmeat

I've recently been having a renewed love affair with the hardboiled egg. It began with my trip to India. I'm guessing you know this, but muffin and spicy don't get along. Needless to say I didn't have extensive food choices, and anyone who knows me knows: this girl's gotta eat! And so I re-embraced the hardboiled egg, in all of it's protein-y goodness. A simple hardboiled egg, cut in half and salted is one of life's great pleasures, but what if you want more?

This brings me to the deviled know, the hardboiled egg on steroids. And then, to ratchet it up another notch, throw in some crabmeat. Yep, you heard me, crabmeat. I mean, who doesn't love a good ol' deviled egg? So here's a gourmet version.

6 eggs, hard boiled
3 1/3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 1/3 tbsp celery, very finely chopped
1 1/3 tbsp white onion, very finely chopped
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
worcestershire sauce, a few drops
salt & pepper to taste
6 oz canned crabmeat

Cut peeled eggs in half lengthwise and remove yolks
Mash yolks and the rest of the ingredients, adjust to taste
Refill whites with yolk mixture and serve
[Garnish Note: you can dust with paprika if you like, though I've found this to be purely decorative. Another garnish you can try is small sprigs of parsley on top of each egg]

Hardboiled Eggs: the best and easiest way to make them is to cover them with about 1 inch of cold water, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 13 minutes. Then place them in a cold water bath to stop their cooking.

Friday, March 7, 2008

sweet sweet glazed chicken....I lurves u

I've been holding off, but here's one of my favorite favorite things to make. If you've been to my place for dinner any time in the last year or so, you've probably tasted this at least once...whether you like it or not. I actually took this recipe from Giada's Food Network show, I gots some love for that bobble-headed tasty-thing maker. The ingredients are the same, but I made up the amounts.

Chicken with Glaze (ok, so I need to come up with some better titles)

1/2 c balsamic vinegar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c honey
5 cloves garlic, smashed
3 or 4 fresh rosemary sprigs

This much marinade is more than enough for about 8 - 10 pieces of chicken. I prefer to use bone-in chicken thighs with the skin on, though I suppose you could use breast meat. The skin really takes the marinade well and crisps up when in the oven, and why would you want to forgo that!

Marinate chicken for at least 30 min.
Bake the chicken for approximately 40-45 min (for thighs) at 375 degrees. You may have to remove some juice from the baking sheet during cooking, just keep an eye out for this.

Meanwhile, remove the rosemary sprigs from the marinade. Reduce the marinade over med-low heat until it thickens to a glaze (approx 15 minutes). Brush the glaze over the cooked chicken. Finally, sprinkle sesame seeds (ideally toasted, though I never get around to it) and chopped parsley over the top.

[Veggie Note: you can use this marinade/glaze on tofu, something I have no idea how to cook. But keeten made it for CultWifeNumeroUno at one of the parties, and it seemed to be a hit. I think she sauteed it in the marinade before reducing it and brushing the glaze over the top.]

Monday, March 3, 2008


So I've been itching to make coleslaw for a while now, and I finally got off my lazy ass to do it. I took an Ina Garten recipe I found on smittenkitchen. Let me just echo what she says....this makes a shit-ton of slaw, so be prepared. In fact, I have so much slaw sitting in my fridge it's kinda ridiculous...I hope the roomies are up to the challenge! After contemplating the food processor for a bit, I ended up slicing the cabbage by hand. It wasn't that bad at all, kind of tedious but I had a little internet radio to keep me company.

Now, just to explain, I have a bit of a problem with mayonnaise...I usually hate it, but in small doses its ok. So I halved the dressing recipe and still ended up with a lot. (The halved recipe is below.) Upon tasting it, for a single serving (about 3/4 c I would say) use 1 tsp or less of the dressing, just enough to hold it together. Then it's actually pretty tasty!

There's also another recipe below, a mayonnaise-free option. It's also a bit sweet if you like that kind of thing. It kinda works better as a dip than a dressing, the flavor gets lost amidst the cabbage and it doesn't hold it together at all.


1/2 head white cabbage, shredded
1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
4 - 6 carrots, grated

Ina Garten Coleslaw Dressing

1 c mayonnaise
1/8 c dijon mustard
1 tsp whole grain mustard
1 tbsp cider vinegar
3/4 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp kosher salt
fresh pepper

Sweet Slaw Dressing

1 small onion, grated
1/4 c cider vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp salt

Combine the onion, vinegar and sugar. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Add the celery seed and salt.

UPDATE: Big ups to the roomies for helping me tackle the enormous amount of slaw. It has been successfully demolished. Now of course, we have a huge tupperware with nothing in it...suggestions for what to fill it with are welcome!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Pick me up!

I'm not that much of a dessert person, give me something salty over something sweet any day. But the exception proves the rule, right? And so I give you Tiramisu, a caffeinated alcoholic dessert! What's not to love about espresso, cognac and sugar soaking little cakes, sandwiched between fluffy eggs. And this is perfect for entertaining because you don't have to bake anything and you can make it ahead of time. A purist might insist on making the ladyfingers from scratch, but the store-bought ones are just as good.

Disclaimer: this recipe does have raw eggs in it...but hey, something's gonna kill you, live a little.

Tiramisu (This recipe is adapted from Desserts, edited by Rosemary Wilkinson)

1 lb marscapone
5 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 c plus 1 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
ladyfingers, enough to line the dish twice
1/2 c strong espresso coffee
1/4 c cognac
unsweetened cocoa powder

Separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar (reserving 1 tbsp) until pale yellow and fluffy. Gradually beat in the marscapone.
Beat the egg whites and salt until they form stiff peaks. Fold into the marscapone mixture.
Combine the espresso, cognac and reserved 1 tbsp sugar together.
Line a large dish ladyfingers. The dish should be at least 1 1/2 - 2 inches deep.
Pour half of the espresso mixture evenly over the ladyfingers. Cover with half the egg mixture.
Make another layer of ladyfingers and pour the rest of the espresso mixture over them. Cover with the remaining egg mixture.
Chill for at least an hour.
Before serving, sprinkle the cocoa powder over the top.