Tuesday, May 31, 2011


So yesterday we went to the park, both dogs in tow. We had burgers on the grill, homemade coleslaw, caprese skewers, corn on the cob and a really spectacular red, white and blue jello mold.

The skewers are alot of fun, I just marinate some mozzarella in a little olive oil, salt, chopped fresh oregano and pepper and then thread the cubes with a cherry tomato and a basil leaf on toothpicks, fun to eat and really yummy. For easy corn on the grill I parboil it first, coat it with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper and then wrap in foil. Just heat it up on the grill while you do the burgers. The coleslaw we favor these days has a light dressing, about 2 Tbs lite mayo, 1 Tbs lite sour cream, 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar and a tsp of celery seed...

The jello mold was alot of fun, I used white cranberry juice (4 cups) 1/2 cup sugar, 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin. (Soften gelatin in 1/2 cup juice, then heat remaining juice and sugar to boiling, remove from heat and stir in softened gelatin until completely dissolved) Then I placed 2 cups of cut up strawberries in the bottom of a fancy 8 cup mold I had coated with cooking spray and poured 2 cups of the jello mixture on top and let set in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour. Then I added 2 cups of blueberries to the remaining jello mixture and gently spooned that on top of the strawberries. Chilled the whole thing overnight, dipped in hot water and unmolded. Served with whipped cream

Monday, May 30, 2011

More Memorial Day Fare

OK, So I didn't post last night - and I really meant to. I would like to record my dinners for 30 days straight. Anyway, I made a German potato salad, with bacon so its always a hit...I firmly believe that bacon makes everything better. Some simple steamed brocolli and of course the smoked chicken. I had brined the chicken overnight, so I rinsed off the brine and patted the chicken halves dry, then made a simple dry rub and rubbed them, under the skin as well - then smoked them for about 4 hours, really good...Then for dessert I did a red, white and blue mix of berries and puff pastry stars with real whipped cream ...which my daughter loved!

Berries with puff pastry stars

  • 2 cups strawberries, cut up
  • 2 cups blueberries, cut up
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 2 Tbs sugar crystals (or plain sugar)

Combine berries and sugar, stir and let sit 15 mins.
Whip chilled cream in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters add 2 Tbs sugar and vanilla.
Cut out stars from puff pastry rolled to about 1/8" thick. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake about 10 mins, remove from sheet to wire rack brush lightly with water and sprinkle with sugar. Place berries in pretty serving bowls, add a dollop of whipped cream and a star or two.

German Potato Salad

  • 2.5 lbs red skinned potatoes
  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 Tbs white vinegar
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 1 Tbs paprika
  • salt and pepper

Cook potatoes with skins on in boiling salted water to cover until tender but not mushy. Drain, cool a little and chop into 1" chunks. Peel first if you want. Saute bacon, drain on paper towels and crumble into small pieces. Pour off all but 2 Tbs bacon fat, in remaining hot fat saute onion, celery and bell pepper until onion is soft. Add vinegar, sugar, paprika and salt and pepper - cook and stir briefly, return bacon to pan. Pour dressing over potatoes in a pretty bowl and toss gently to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend...cooking and a resolution

OK, I am back, and this time I am going to seriously try to a least record what I cook daily for the next 30 days.

Today is Saturday, so I'll start here (and not mention much the timpano I just made the other day, the wonderful panna cottas with a raspberry sauce, and so much more...)

Today I made dinner with a spring theme. I did a classic white risotto and it was fabulous, making me and my family wonder why I don't make this simple dish more often. I paired it with a salad of watermelon, feta and baby arugula dressed with a citrus ginger dressing and also some green beans with almonds toasted in butter. For dessert I made a blueberry pie with a twist! I covered it with butter cookie stars in 2 different sizes...

It was a lovely meal and not all that hard to put together. Then I made a quick brine for a chicken which I will smoke tomorrow and serve with some caprese skewers and corn on the cob and a simple salad. Oh, I also made a fruit salad encased in jello - but with unflavored gelatin and juice, I used strawberries and blueberries and attempted to layer it in a pretty mold. I'll see if I can actually unmold it tomorrow.


Basic White Risotto
(this is a great dish on its on and the basis for so many other risotto's)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 1 finely chopped shallot if you have one, or not
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 stalk celery finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup carnaroli rice
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 Tbs additional butter

Heat olive oil and butter in a cast iron skillet. Saute onion, shallot and garlic over low heat for about 10 mins until soft but not at all browned. Stir in rice and coat each grain with oil. Add wine and stir until mostly evaporated. Add 1/2 cup hot stock and stir until almost all incorporated, continue until all stock is used and rice is creamy, stir firm but not hard. remove from heat and stir in parsley, cheese and additional butter. Serve immediately (risotto does not hold well)

Blueberry Pie with Star cut outs

  • Pie crust
  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 1/4 cup instant (minute) tapioca
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup very cold butter cut in small pieces
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1-2 Tbs ice cold water

Preheat over to 400 F. Mix berries with tapioca, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon. Let sit 15 mins. Pour into crust and dot top with butter. Bake in 400 over for about 1 hour, use foil to cover edges if they start to brown too much. Let pie cool completely on wire rack.

Combine flour, sugar and a touch of salt in food processor. Cut in butter. Add water and process until dough forms a ball. Shape into a flattened circle and refrigerate 1 hour. Roll out on lightly floured surface and cut out stars in two sizes, 2 inches and 1 inch. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 for about 1o mins or until edges start to turn golden. Cool on wire rack. Randomly arrange stars on top of cooled pie.

Watermelon, feta and Arugula Salad

Cut 1/8 of a seedless watermelon into 1 inch chunks. Combine with 8-12 oz of crumbled feta and about 6 cups of baby arugula. Mix 1/2 cup orange juice with 1 Tbs lemon juice and 1 tsp ginger juice. add 1 tbs honey. Using a whisk or shaking in a jar with a lid add 1/2 cup olive oil. Pour about half dressing over salad. Serve remainder on the side.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Dinner

OK - So busy getting dinner together, for an impatient husband and child I had no time to take any pictures, but here is the menu I made:

Valentines Day Dinner
February 14th, 2011

Starter: Veggies (cut up in heart shapes where possible, including red pepper, green pepper, cucumber, carrots, celery) with roasted red pepper dip

First Course: Oyster Pan Roast
(fabulously decadent dish - easy too, but you really should shuck the oysters yourself)

Main and Sides:

Grilled Filet Mignon with green peppercorn sauce

Steamed Asparagus

Heart Shaped mashed potatoes


Red Jello Hearts with whipped cream

Fun, and not that hard at all...
I printed out the menu on some fancy template you can download for free if you use word, and my daughter really liked that

I really would like to post each night (with pictures if possible) what I make for dinner, because other than the very rare occasion where I go out I pretty much cook a full dinner every night - I resolve to try and actually post each night

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pasta and Meat Sauce

Last night I made a quick meat sauce and some bow-tie pasta. Side dishes included brocolli and
leeks. I really liked the leeks, sauted in a a little butter and olive oil with some fresh parm on top.

Leeks with Parmesan Cheese

  • 3 leeks, cut in half lengthwise and cleaned then cut into half moons (white and pale green parts only)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

Heat oil and butter in a cast iron skillet, add leeks and stir fry to cook for about 2 mins, add broth and cover - cook for 2 mins, uncover and cook until liquid is evaporated. Sprinkle with parmesan and broil briefly to brown cheese

Monday, January 31, 2011

Duck Fried Rice

This was quite lovely and so very easy...used the leftover duck meat from last night (but you could use leftover duck from Chinese take-out or a restaurant)

Duck Fried Rice

  • 1- 2 cups cut up or shredded duck from crispy fragrant duck or Peking duck
  • 2 Tbs oil
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce, divided
  • 1 Tbs ginger, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 Tbs garlic finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs scallions chopped into 1/4" pieces
  • 1/2 cup carrot finely julienned
  • 1/2 cup frozen petite peas
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 3 cups cooked rice (cook early in the day or the day before or use leftover rice)

Add 1 Tbs canola oil to wok and heat over medium flame, beat eggs with 1 Tbs soy sauce swirl oil around wok to coat sides. Pour in egg and cook stirring gently to cook through, turn egg out onto a plate and slice into thin strips. Add 1 Tbs oil to wok, add duck and ginger and garlic, stir fry for 1-2 mins add carrots and stir fry another min add rice, making sure to break u any clumps add remaining soy sauce, peas and white pepper and stir fry 1 more min, serve with scallions on top

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Crispy Fragrant Duck

This is what I made for dinner, and I forgot to take a picture!! Sorry - this duck is fabulous but very very labor intensive ... next time i make it I will take the picture! Anyway, I served it with chinese pancakes and scallion brushes and broccollini...last night we had leftovers and the night before that was beef and bok choy stir fry with rice and before that homemade mac-n-cheese with broccoli

The duck takes at least 2 days to make:

Crispy Fragrant Duck

1 duck
2 Tbs five spice powder
2 Tbs chinese peppercorns
1 Tbs sea salt
2 Tbs rice wine
1" piece of fresh ginger
3 green onions
2 Tbs soy sauce
1/2 cup flour
6 cups of oil for frying

Marinate duck:

Wash and rinse duck, remove any giblets
press down hard on breastbone to flatten duck
heat five spice powder and cracked peppercorns and salt in a dry cast iron skillet until fragrant and cool briefly. Rub mixture all over duck
place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in fridge for 8 hours (or up to 48) turn duck over occasionally

Steam duck:
Pour rice wine over duck and slice ginger into rounds, slice green onions roughly. Place 1/2 of green onions and ginger in duck cavity and half on top of duck. Place duck in a glass pie plate and use a rack to put duck in plate in a wok with space below it for water. Add water (not touching plate, about 1/2" below) bring to a boil and cover - steam duck for 3 hours, draining fat from pie plate every 20 mins or so and replenishing water as necessary.

Air-dry duck:
Remove duck from plate carefully and place on a rack in a drafty spot (or direct a fan on low on it) let dry for at least 2 hours and up to 8. Turn every hour or so and blot dry with a paper towel.

Fry duck:
Run soy sauce on duck and sprinkle with flour. Heat oil in clean wok to 350 F. Fry duck breastside down for 3 mins, turn and fry for 1 min. remove and drain on paper towel lined tray. Increase oil temp to 400 and fry duck a second time for 30 secs a side. Drain and place on a pretty platter. Serve with hoisen sauce, green onion brushes and mandarin pancakes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mashed Potato Cakes

Tonight for dinner I used the leftover mashed potatoes from last night. I made really delicious mashed potato cakes and served them with a little sour cream and apple sauce. I also cooked some broccoli and seasoned it with a little salt and some butter - almost instant dinner. My daughter loved it and it was ready super fast!

Mashed Potato Cake
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1-2 Tbs dried minced onion (or grate a fresh onion, or saute some chopped onion in olive oil and add)

Combine potato with egg, flour, salt, pepper and onion. Form into thick patties and dredge in a little extra flour
Heat 1 Tbs butter and 1 Tbs olive oil in a cast iron skillet, add cakes and let cook over medium heat for 2-3 mins without disturbing until a golden crust forms, flip and cook other side about 2 more mins. Serve with sour cream and applesauce.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Grape leaves, mashed potatoes and a Greek Almond Cake

Tonight for dinner I made a Greek inspired menu: Grape leaves, stuffed with rice and lamb seasoned with cinnamon, mashed potatoes to soak up the sauce from the grape leaves, simple buttered green beans and a wonderful cake called Amygdalopita with ground almonds and semolina soaked with a spiced simple syrup.

Grape Leaves

  • 1/2 lb ground lamb
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • grape leaves
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • juice from 1 lemon

Make rice - combine rice and water, bring to a boil reduce heat cover tightly and simmer 20 mins. Brown beef and lamb in a cast iron skillet, drain fat, add cinnamon and salt and pepper. Add rice. Set aside to cool. Blanch grape leaves (I separate the leaves and lay them in a large casserole pan and pour boiling water over to cover and let sit for 10 mins) Lay individual leaves on a work surface, place one tsp - 1 Tbs filling, depending on size of leaf, on base of leaf fold sides over filling and roll up tightly. Placed filled leaves seam side down in a large dutch oven. Pour 1 can tomato sauce over, pour 1 can water over pour in juice from one lemon, weigh down the top with a heavy dish and bring to a boil lower heat and simmer 45 mins

Make mashed potatoes, make green beans.

For cake see my youtube channel

Lamb Curry and Royal Rice

OK, already I didn't post last night - but here it is. I made a lamb curry and a quick royal rice to go with. The lamb curry used a simple yogurt marinade for the lamb, and the rice included rasins and cashews sauted in ghee - which my daughter loves!

For the curry I used part of a boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1" cubes.

Lamb and Spinach Curry

  • 1 lb lamb, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon juice from a lemon if you have it
  • 1 cut up onion
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 lb peeled cubed potato
  • 2 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 lb spinach
  • 2 Tbs oil or ghee
combine yogurt with spices, add lamb and let marinate for 2-8 hours
heat oil or ghee in cast iron skillet, saute onion and garlic
add lamb with marinade, tomatoes and tomato paste and potatoes, curry powder - bring to a boil, lower
heat to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour. Add spinach.
Serve hot with

Royal Rice

1 cup basmati rice
1.5 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves

add rice to water with cinnamon and cloves, bring to a boil lower heat and cover tightly
let simmer for 25 mins.
Steep saffron in 2 Tbs boiling water for 10 mins while rice is cooking, add 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp cardamon
saute 1/4 cup chopped cashews and 1/4 cup raisins in 1 Tbs hot ghee or oil
Add saffron water and nuts and raisins to rice, fluff and serve

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Out to dinner

Tonight I made reservations...out to a local steakhouse, where I will most likely
order the bone in fillet Mignon - no cooking tonight!

This morning though I made crepes, with sugared bananas for filling - I love crepes because I wake up very early anyway, so I just blend up the batter and pop it in the fridge - then when everyone else is up the batter has sat long enough so that the bubbles have settled, which makes it easier to make the crepes. I use a medium saute pan, a little butter and about 1/4 cup of batter per crepe. I eat mine with just a little butter and sugar, but I usually toss some fresh fruit with a touch of sugar to fill my daughters:

Easy Crepe Recipe

  • 3 Tbs melted butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Blend in a blender and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24. Use about 1/4 cup of batter per crepe. Butter a medium saute pan and heat over medium heat, pour in batter and swirl around to coat bottom of pan, cook for about 30 sec per side. Take off and sprinkle with a little sugar and fold in 1/4s.

For banana filling:
cut up a reasonably ripe banana and sprinkle with 1 Tbs sugar and 2 tsp lemon juice, fill crepe
you can serve with whipped cream if you want

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pizza ....

Tonight I made pizza - easy dough, let mydaughter help. She rolled a personal pizza for herself, then we did some simple, classic toppings and a quick salad and some broccoli/cauliflower and almost instant dinner. She chose mushrooms and black olives to complement her sauce and mozzarella and I stuck to just the addition of mushrooms...

Pizza Dough

1 cup hot w
1 pkg dry
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil
2-3 cups all purpose flour

proof the yeast in the water with the sugar to feed it, after it gets all foamy add the olive oil
salt, and flour (only add about 1.5 cups at first) if you have a standing mixer with a dough
hook, use this and stir the flour in at low speed and the rest of the flour and increase the speed and let
the mixer do its job adding more flour a little at a time if needed until a single ball of dough forms, then let the mixer knead it for few more minutes. Turn it out, knead by hand a bit for love and put it in an oiled bowl to let rise for about an hour. Punch it down and cut it in half and roll each half out into a circel. Heat a pizza stone in the oven at around 450, sprinkle
with cornmeal or polenta place crust on top and fold over edges to make a lip. Prick all over with a fork and bake for about 7 mins.

add sauce, cheese, oregano, mushrooms, a drizzel of of oil etc and pop back in the oven untilRemove Formatting from selection cheese melts

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Minestrone and Lingonberry Bread

Its cold outside, and I haven't posted here for ages, but I am going to try and see if I can stick with sharing what we have for dinner for the next 30 days...here goes with tonight - way too much to do today, with a late swimming lesson for my daughter starting on Thursdays - so I made a winter minestrone earlier, but didn't add the pasta or spinach until we got home - also made some lingonberry bread from a fancy mix I had gotten ages ago... the minestrone recipe is on my youtube site, but its really easy and I vary it according to what I have on hand -

Easy Winter Minestrone
dice up an onion, some carrots, celery and garlic, saute in a little olive oil
add about 6-8 cups of chicken broth (i always use low sodium if its not from scratch)
add a can of diced tomatoes
some dried basil, rosemary, thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 zucchini diced
a yellow squash diced
bring to a boil and then lower heat
add a can of white kidney beans (cannellini) rinsed and drained
then about 20 mins before serving bring to a boil, add 1 cup of ditalini (or other small tube shaped pasta) and 1/2 lb fresh baby spinach lower heat and let cook until pasta is done

add a rind of parm if you have one in the beginning and serve with a little bit of freshly grated parmesan

you can leave out the spinach, add more or less tomatoes, add a diced potato or two, add some oregano, add some fresh parsley, a can of red kidney beans - or even chick peas, and you can always serve it with a big spoon of fresh pesto (either made with basil or parsley)