Friday, October 26, 2012

mom's strudel

(can't believe i just wrote her name in lower case. she deserves ALL CAPS more than anyone i've ever known).

my mom made the most incredible saturday morning strudel. folks raved about it. little did i know that it was quite simple to make. follow this recipe and you'll have enough to make three, yes THREE, strudels of your own.

the dough.
can you read that?
now divide the dough into thirds and pop them in the frig for a bit.

or bake one and pop the other two in the freezer for when you forgot to plan ahead for the in-laws' overnight visit.

when you're ready to proceed, roll out the dough to a large rectangle (approximately 8" x 18") and smear with 3-4 tablespoons of jam/jelly/preserves whatever.

all rolled out with blueberry jam

then fold over the sides to cover the jam and bake in a 450 degree oven. for "20 minutes or until golden".

pull it out and dust with confectioner's sugar.

you'll thank me.

it's one of the easiest recipes ever and yet it garners accolades beyond belief.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

now that's style

just outside of chicago yesterday, our son proposed to his lovely (and shocked) girlfriend while they flew over a field he'd plowed the day before. 

she said "yes"
and as one of his facebook friends so eloquently put it:

"Way to set the bar so high! Suddenly asking a lady for her hand in marriage over some endless bread sticks and salad at The Olive Garden seems kinda anti-climactic."

so for all those single men out there, this post is definitely a "serving suggestion only".

good luck improving on it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"our orange pot is famous!"

that's what my husband said when he saw today's copy of the Wall Street Journal.
dig.drop.done ad with orange pot
(close-up of pot at home)
so maybe the pot's not famous...but it was part of the set i designed for one of our clients, dig.drop.done, that the Journal wrote about in an article on the bulb industry's efforts to encourage women to consider planting bulbs.
(you can see the online article here, with the ad featured in photo 5 of the slideshow.)

 oh, and that cake? it's a fake. styrofoam disks and spackling. made that too.  
back to the's an old 13-quart le creuset i found on ebay a few years back. ebay is a great source for these pots if you're willing to go with "used" as the retail prices are ridiculously high (the 13-quart goes for a whopping $445).

here's a link to one of the really tasty, almost as famous, dishes that has come out of that pot to date.

chicken 'n dumplings

and since the weather right now is just begging for chicken 'n dumplings, let me encourage you to make some this weekend, in any pot. it doesn't have to be a famous one.

Friday, September 14, 2012

sixteen thousand calories

that's how many are present in the two dishes i just completed for tomorrow night's dinner ( told me so).

i've already shared one of them with you here, but there's more. so much more. like 9000 calories worth.

and those delicious calories are housed in the following recipe for braised short ribs:

(first of all, i was so excited to finally be making this dish after months of anticipation, that i had to pour myself a glass of wine (okay, port) just to calm my nerves. seriously, it felt like christmas eve.)
back to the recipe...
first you take some bone-in short ribs and rub them with black pepper and thyme (2 t. fresh cracked and 2 T fresh, respectively)
here are the ribs smothered in black pepper and thyme
after the ribs sit like this for 30 minutes, you sprinkle them generously with salt and move on to the next step where you put some pancetta in a pan over medium heat to render the fat.

once the pancetta is cooked, remove it from the pan and add enough olive oil to make 3 T.

then you sear (and i mean, practically blacken) the four meaty sides of the ribs. in batches if needed. do not crowd your pan or rush this step. this is where the flavor is really developed.
this can take 30 - 45 minutes
seared ribs
while the ribs are searing you should chop (or put in the food processor) 1 shallot, 3 carrots, and one large onion. then add them to the pot along with a couple of bay leaves and 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.
remove the ribs and add your veggies and herbs

saute for a few minutes until soft and "sweated". then add in the dark stuff: 2 T balsamic, 2 1/2 cups of deep bodied red wine and 1 1/2 cups port. cook this over high heat until it's been reduced by half.

deglazing with balsamic, syrah and port
then you place your ribs back in the pan with the reduced liquid, cover tightly (i used aluminum foil and the pot's lid) and place them in a 325 degree oven for 3 hours.
add the ribs (and some leftover mushrooms)
unfortunately, i do not have a photo of the completed dish. but if you make this yourself, you'll understand why.

you see, after smelling this cooking in the oven for hours - practically fainting every time i came back into the house from outside - i could think of nothing else but "where's my fork?!" when it finally came out of the oven, and failed to pause long enough to grab even a single shot.

go ahead - check the internets. you'll find very few photos of this dish in its completed state for the same reason, i'm sure.

Monday, September 10, 2012

no adjustment needed...

...except, perhaps, the addition of bacon.

but i am determined to resist that temptation because i know once i experience it with bacon, i'll never be satisfied with the original. and i'm determined to have at least one healthy take-to-work lunch in my repertoire.

i made this sandwich last week after seeing something similar over at, using mashed white beans, avocado, cucumber and red onions.
but seeing as i had whipped up a batch  - i use the phrase "whipped up" pejoratively, because i am impossibly slow in the kitchen. those "30-minute meals"? plan on 90 if i'm the cook - of baba ganoush (using this recipe) a few days earlier, i decided to use that in lieu of the white beans. and boy did i hit on a winner.

first of all, i feel almost as strongly about the addition of avocado to any dish, as i do bacon. almost. so this sandwich had me from the start. and like i said, i really wanted to find something vegan AND tasty that i could make rather quickly on a busy weekday morning. this definitely qualified.

it might possibly be improved upon, and certainly variations of it exist, but i'm sticking with the original.

if it ain't broke....

simple tasty sandwich ingredients:
ezekial bread
baba ganoush


Monday, July 30, 2012

sunday sonker

if you've got three bowls, a whisk, 20 minutes and some fresh fruit on your hands, you can make a sonker (sonker n. a type of berry pie or cobbler. Editorial Note: This appears to be specific to the area near Mount Airy, N.C)

i had some fresh nc peaches and a pint of strawberries in the frig so that's what i used, but you can use any fruit you like (there's even a sweet potato version!).

the process is easy.....melt a stick and a half of butter in your oblong pan (mine was an enameled cast iron 8 x 12). then in a large bowl, put 3 cups flour, 1 T baking powder, 2 cups sugar and 1/2 t salt. whisk these together. in a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups milk, 1 t vanilla and 3 eggs. whisk well then add to dry ingredients, stirring until no lumps remain. pour this batter into your pan with the melted butter (the butter will rise to the top) and then sprinkle on your fruit. it will look something like this:
put the pan in your preheated 375 degree oven and let it bake for about an hour. check to make sure the middle section has cooked all the way through. take it out and it will look something like this:
doll it up with instagram and it can look like this:
this recipe should serve 12-15 generously.
(serve with either whipped cream or ice cream. or both)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

bringing (or is it "taking") your lunch to work

one word.

okay, two words.
bento box.

bento box "after"  (hello kitty chopsticks not included)

do you know about these amazing little inventions already? they will change your life. or at least your lunch life.
here's why: if you have even the tiniest bit of a hankering for a bit of daily creative expression, and you're growing tired of "jimmy john's #6, no mayo, add peppers"...this one item is all the help you need! 

google "bento box" images, or plug it in to a pinterest search, and you'll be amazed at the variety of goodness one of these can hold.
here's a blog devoted to all things bento.
there's even ideas for kids' lunches here.

today i packed mine with some jasmine rice, leftover tempeh and rapini from last night...and a small compartment of spicy peanut sauce that i made last weekend. come 12:30 when the smells of freshly nuked lean cuisines came wafting through the halls, i smiled knowing this little box was waiting for me in the frig downstairs. not terribly artistic in appearance, but i'm learning.

vegan day no. 3

broccoli rabe...rapini, whatever you want to call it - it's GOOD. 
a peppery-flavored (as opposed to bitter) green that you'll find often in italian recipes (remind me to share one with you for an appetizer that will make your guests forget all about the main course they were promised) but can easily be adapted to other cuisines. this one seems to veer a little further east.

spicy tempeh with broccoli rabe

here's the original recipe. the changes i made were - substituting udon for the wheat pasta and omitting the fennel and adding some nuoc gam (vietnamese dipping sauce) when serving, to make up for the flavor deficit.

here's the cubed tempeh (the udon noodles are cooking in the background)

and the sauce we will steam the tempeh cubes in (soy sauce, tomato paste, oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes, veggie broth....)

so we sauté the tempeh in the sauce for a few, then cover and steam 8 minutes.

add tempeh to udon noodles in large bowl:

wipe out pan and saute rapini with some garlic until bright green, add a bit of balsamic, then add to bowl with udon and tempeh

toss...add some nuac cham, and get out your chopsticks!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

tofu salad. the one tofu recipe you MUST try.

drain your tofu

treat it like hard boiled eggs
(add mayo, mustard, dill, pickles, minced onion,  chopped celery, s&p.)

tuck some in a pita with tomato and lettuce.
better than eggs.
better for your arteries.
won't offend your office mates.

what more could you ask for?

they call these "sweet potato burgers"

i made these today after deciding to give veganism another go round (i was going to say "decided to take another stab at veganism, but somehow that just didn't sound right). please refer to the photo at the link as my sandwich is woefully assembled. you see, i was really, really hungry and there are times (albeit rare) that function trumps form. and this was one of them.
sandwich styled by a very hungry person. i.e. NOT styled

they were yummy. i put mine on a roll with garden tomatoes, avocado and dijon. daniel made his with A-1, lettuce, tomato and onion, and SWORE it tasted like a real hamburger (i have my doubts about that).

here are the basic steps in picture form:

bake potatoes
rinse beans (2 cans)

puree beans and potatoes together with seasonings

put panko in a dish
form and coat patties
saute in oil 

until golden, crispy brown on booth sides

hope you try them. black bean burgers up next....

Thursday, July 19, 2012

mac 'n five cheeses

my sister's mac 'n cheese is like no other. anyone who's had it talks of nothing else for days. so of course i asked her for the recipe - in the hopes of gaining the same accolades for myself - and learned there really wasn't one. figures. so i interrogated her about the process (béchamel-based, no eggs, always baked), what cheeses she used (always a bit of bleu) and why she avoided others (mozzarella adds little more than stringiness)....then i had to go home and try to come up with my own version. here's what followed:

i chose cavatappi pasta because it's tubular...and twisted...and grooved (thereby tripling its cheese-sauce-grabbing capabilities.) i think i've read somewhere that of the grocery store pasta varieties, de cecco is the best. 

the five cheeses i used this go-round were: fontina, gruyere, cheddar, bleu and parmesan. here they are all grated and crumbled:

i cooked the past al dente...

...made the béchamel (LOTS of béchamel as this dish needed to serve 24 people) and added the cheese (not pictured) and stirred until the cheese melted

 then i combined the pasta with the sauce 

 and stirred (gently)

 this is what it looked like before i spooned the gloppy gooey mess into casserole dishes and topped with buttered panko crumbs:

after 30 minutes in a 350-degree overn, it looked like this:

and then it was gone.

ingredient ratios

for every pound of pasta (cooked in salted water), you will need 5 cups of béchamel, and a pound and a half of cheese (i know, i know, just don't think about it.)

to make the sauce: melt 1/2 cup butter and add 3/4 cup flour. then stir and cook over med heat until slightly browned. add 5 cups milk and cook (stirring) until thickened.
add 3 T dijon, 1 t salt, 1/2 t fresh ground pepper and 1/4 t cayenne and stir some more.
now throw in your cheeses, stir until they're melted and the sauce is done!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

simple changes part II

after three (or is it nearly five) years in the same place, we decided to drag a few of the many pieces of "art" down from the attic in order to fill the blank walls in the newly dubbed "guest room".

these are pieces composed by the kids, as well as pieces connected to our past (bedtime rituals, former homes: pinnacle, overbrook, new hampshire and vermont....). 

and although i do believe blank walls are the answer to most decorating woes (in the same way that silence is golden)...these are two - of our fifty-two - that i would now deem, 'better than said gold'.