Thursday, December 18, 2008

a cookbook review.

Check out this week's issue of Whatzup and read my first cookbook review on page 24.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Calamari Time.

Perhaps this isn't a typical snack food in your home, but come on, party people, live it up every now and then! Always a fan of calamari, it is often an appetizer I'm drawn to when dining out. I've had it on my mind for a while, and I finally gave it my very first try. Here in Fort Wayne, the closet thing we have to a Whole Foods is The Fresh Market, where I purchased my calamari (previously froze, but clean), only $4.99 a pound. I choose a recipe from my big yellow Gourmet cookbook. Often restaurants will serve this creature deep fried in what I assume is all-purpose flour. In fact I would venture to say that these creatures might get a double dip in the fryer too. The Gourmet recipe suggested frying the calamari in rice flour, which I was able to find at a local grocery store. The difference is quite substantial, the rice flour coating (which aside from the rice flour included salt and pepper, but I think I will add some herbs next time) was very light and delicate. I wasn't able to achieve the deep golden brown we are all used to, but I think I was having "hot oil" issues to boot, not to mention that fact that I ran out of canola oil. I think next time I will try peanut oil instead too. I made a warm marinara sauce to go with it (drives me nuts when a marinara sauce is served cold with this dish), blended a can of chopped tomatoes, slowly cooked with a couple of garlic cloves, salt, and red chili pepper flakes. A perfect accompaniment, but not too long ago, I ate calamari served with a basil aioli. It's all a matter of personal preference, I suppose. Be careful not to over-fry them, they lose their chewy edge.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

review of baker street

Check out page 15 of today's published Whatzup magazine for my third restaurant review! I reviewed a new steakhouse in town called Baker Street.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

biased and braised.

Clever, eh? I admit it, I'm totally biased at the moment. I'm in an "Alice Waters" fixated state and the only other genre of cookbook that can pull me out of this are baking books. Are you sick and tired of me rambling on and on and on about how wonderful Alice Waters is, how she's so cool, fabulous and utterly worthy of culinary knighthood? Well, tough noogies. I recently renewed my "borrowing" of The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters from the library, her ninth cookbook in fact. Over the weekend I opted to try her recipe for Braised Chicken Legs with Tomatoes and Garlic. I served it with fragrant rice to soak up all those lovely juices. Known for her devotion to ingredients and attention to simplicity, Alice Waters exemplifies the essence of cooking, whether your in a professional kitchen and for the home. Braising is such a wonderful cooking technique, not employed by many home cooks during the week as it requires time and above all else, patience. The benefits of such work are definitely worth it though and braising chicken is effortless really. One of the added benefits of braising is that you only require the use of one pot so clean up tends to be minimal. Once you've mastered a few braising techniques, you can pretty much create your own recipe. This is usually the braising protocol:
1. Brown meat in olive oil.
2. Remove meat and saute veggies and aromatics (garlic, herbs, seasonings).
3. Deglaze the pan with either wine or stock.
4. Add meat back to the pan and simmer covered (the chicken took about 45 minutse, but toughter cuts of meat will take longer).
5. Remove meat and reduce stock to a sauce.
These are only the essentials. Another great resource is All About Braising by Molly Stevens, a devout braiser, Molly breaks down the techniques and offers delicious recipes to practice this fine art. This isn't calculus for cooks, it's algebra, folks. And here in Indiana, our first snowfall has already doused us and nothing speaks volumes in the winter than a home-cooked hearty meal.

Friday, November 21, 2008

half is better than nothing at all.

It's a running joke between Paul and I, I am half Jewish and often this cultural heritage ends up being a scapegoat for many of my quarky characteristics. Though I am only half (and let's be honest a conservative synagogue woldn't even recognize me because it's on my father's side), I was lucky enough to benefit from some of its pastimes and traditions. The most important one being food. The majority of this heritage was mainly celebrated when my grandmother was alive, though my parents were friends with Jesus. Christmas mornings featured "bagels" for breakfast and matzo ball soup was often the only source of comfort when I was sick with the flu. When I moved to the midwest, it became obvious, my boyfriend had no clue what a matzo ball was, let alone, a real bagel. Often compared to chicken and dumplings (but there is truly no comparison), matzo ball soup is a step up from the traditional chicken noodle soup most are familiar with. Matzo balls are light and fluffy in comparison to dumplings which can often take the unlikely turn for hockey pucks. The wonder behind this simple soup is its chameleon-like ability. Some joints serve it in broth alone, others with noodles. I prefer a combination myself - some left over chicken, tiny pasta granules, diced carrots and onions, compliment this comforting soup. On days like we've been experiencing (30's), it's the perfect soup to warm your spirit and your belly.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Review of Don Chavas

Check out page 15 of today's published Whatzup magazine for my second restaurant review! I reviewed a new Mexican joint in town called Don Chavas.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

panade. what's in a name?

The recipe concotions continue with this Acorn Squash, Mushroom and Red Wine Panade recipe which The Wednesday Chef insisted fellow readers try a couple weeks ago. Turns out I own the book, Chez Panisse Vegetables, and if I'm going to be completely honest here, I haven't tried one bloody recipe from the the book! I've been collecting the Alice Waters library for quite a few years now and am frankly embarassed by its crisp white pages, hardly doused with olive oil or crustiness from countless cooking endeavors. Anyhoo, the point is the blog I read was so inspiring that I decided to give this recipe a try.

Now you may very well be asking yourself, what the heck is a "panade"? According to some online dictionary, it's a mixture of butter, water, and flour, often the base for choux pastry. Here, however, I believe the reference is purely "show". This vegetable casserole is definitely time consuming. Onions are caramelized in olive oil with garlic, thyme and then reduced with red wine and simmered with the addition of chicken stock and sliced and sauteed mushrooms. The recipe calls for chanterelles, but I substituted cremini mushrooms and it still turned out delicious. You lightly brown slices of country bread in a skillet before the layering process. Country bread, broth, thinly sliced acorn squash (which has been peeled and seeded), more broth, more bread and the rest of the broth. I practially had my own production line, unfortunately, I was the only employee and the boss. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top, I substituted it with pecorino romano and baked covered and then uncovered for an hour or so. The texture is definitely different, probably the first layer of bread, but the bread and vegetables soak up the goodness and earthy flavors of the flavorful broth. The crunchy layer of bread on top gives it character and the saltiness of the pecorino was a nice touch. Time consuming yes, but worth every minute? Absolutely.

Sometimes the best things in life are the result of time, precious time.

Monday, November 17, 2008


You know the old question, alive or dead, if you could have coffee and a conversation with one person, who would it be? And right now, I'd like to sit down with Ms. Waters! Well, this past weeked I busted out two, count them two, of Alice Waters' recipes. The first was from her most recent book entitled The Art of Simple Food.
Side note - Because I am on a budget, like so many of you out there, I carefully pick and choose the latest cookbooks to add to my overgrown library. Since living on my own, I have used and abused the privilege of my library card, I often raid the cookbook section to taste and try out new recipes. It's a great way of ensuring that you will want a certain book, before you buy it.
Back to the blog, I was definitely in the mood for pasta and had a hankering for some seafood, so I decided to make this simple dish of linguine with clams. Steamed in olive oil, lots of garlic, red chili pepper flakes, chopped italian parsley and white wine, this meal is elegant and hearty. Paul and I enjoyed mopping up the sauce with slices of thick country bread, it should be considered an abominable sin to do let such a delicious sauce go to waste. Waste not, want not, that's my adage.

Monday, November 3, 2008


An extremely momentous occasion took place this past Friday, I hit the big 3-0! Paul and I took the day off and took a day trip up to the art coast of Michigan, Saugatuck and Douglas, to be more specific. What a beautiful area, on Lake Michigan, scenic with it's fall colors holding on for dear life. Art galleries, wine tasting, tourista shops, restaurants, beaches, and more, we couldn't have asked for a better day. For the birthday dinner, we went to Everyday People Cafe in Douglas. I found this gem through Chowhound, an excellent resource for foodies across to the nation to recommend restaurants of all walks. The executive chef of Everyday People Cafe has been hailed as "best chef" on the east side of Lake Michigan and trust me, it's no lie. This joint doesn't take reservations and is a hoppin' place and we were lucky to even get it. After perusing the menu for quite a while, it was obvious that these decisions would be tough. I ended up ordering the braised lamb shank and Paul ordered one of the specials, blackened ahi fish tacos. For an appetizer, we went with the Pizza Bianco and I think that was our very part of the whole meal, it was a perfect balance of flavors. For a birthday dessert, we ordered the creme brulee, deconstructed. Not your typical creme brulee my friends, it was layered on top of two puff pastry triangles and doused with a divine raspberry sauce. tart, sweet and creamy. A perfect way to end a perfect birthday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

country style short ribs. delish.

All I seem to crave is comfort food (that and a good cheeseburger, but that my friends is another story). My body must be aligned with the changing of the seasons. The leaves have turned and some are flying off into Never-never land. Others are holding on tight, stubborn, I suppose. I'm not resisting the change and in fact over the weekend, I busted out my slow cooker and made a fabulous country ribs with potatoes, carrots and onions. Served with a horseradish cream sauce and a dash of chopped italian parsley, it's not only hearty and delicious, it's GOOD for you. So treat yourself to this one, it's worth it.
Country-Style Beef Short Ribs with Horseradish Cream
6 tbs. sour cream
2 tbs. prepared horseradish
1 tbs. dijon mustard
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/4 lb. boneless beef short ribs, trimmed of excess fat and goobers
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 onions, sliced
1 lb. small white potatoes, halved (or quartered depending on size)
1 1/2 c. baby carrots (I substituted 3 decent size carrots, chopped)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 c. low sodium beef broth
2 tbs. Worcestershite sauce (I always have a hard time saying this word, just ask Paul)
3 tbs. all-purpose flour
3 tbs. cold water
1 tbs. chopped flat-leak parsley
1. To prepare the horseradish sauce, combine the sour cream, horseradish, mustard and 1/4 tsp. of the salt in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, at least 4 hrs or overnight.
2. Sprinkle the ribs with the remaining 1/2 tsp. of salt and the pepper. Spray a nonstick pan with oil and saute the meat on medium-high heat, until browned (about 8 minutes).
3. Transfer ribs to slow cooker and add the onions, potatoes, carrots, garlic, and bay leaf. Pour the broth and Worcestershire sauce over the meat and veggies. Cover and cook until the meat and veggies are fork tender, 4-5 hours on high and 8-10 hours on low.
4. About 20 minutes before the cooking time is up, combine the flour and cold water in a bowl until smooth. Stir in about 1/4 c. of the hot broth and stir until blended. Add to the slow cooker and mix into the stew. Cover and cook on high until the slow cooker until the sauce thickens. Discard the bay leaf. Stir in the parsley just before serving (or top the stew off with it like I did in the photo above). Serve with the horseradish cream.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

a worthy foodie blog.

The temperatures have dropped, we took a liking to indian summer warmth and breezes that Northeast Indiana experienced over the last two weeks. But alas, all good things must come to an end.I have serious baking ambitions this weekend. It's my desire to visit Cook's Orchards again and pick up a new variety of apples I've never tried before - Jonathan. I hear these are great for baking and I'm in the mood for some apple crisp (have no fear, I'll be posting pics next week).
I stumbled upon a new foodie blog that richly deserves praise and adoration (I found it through Orangette's blog). It's called The Wednesday Chef and it's delightful in every respect and then some. So put on some soothing tunes, grab a mug of your favorite coffee or tea and enjoy these delectable tidbits.

Friday, October 10, 2008

pumpkin walnut bread.

Nothing says fall quite like the sight of farm stands and grocery stores overflowing with apples, pumpkins, gourds, squashes and indian corn. The warm spices of apple cider mulling and fires crack-a-lackin'! It warms my little heart just thinking about it. This month's issue of Gourmet features the latest cookbook selection The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet and Sur La Table. Cindy has been a contributing instructor at The New School of Cooking in Culver City, California where I attended cooking school. Her classes are known to sell out fast, so if you're ever in the "neighborhood", I would definitely recommend signing up for a class!
The featured recipe (Pumpkin Walnut Bread) caught my eye and as I normally do, I folded the corner of the recipe with the intention of baking. Earlier this week, I finally got to the recipe - simple, easy and oh so worth the wait (for a quick bread, why does it take an hour to bake?). It tasted like pumpkin pie, sweet, but not rich, moist and tender. A fine crumb indeed. It didn't even require a douse of salted butter, but if you were feeling dangerous I wouldn't be opposed to it. Accompanied with hot cider, a cup of Old Crown Roasters coffee, or even a spot of tea would compliment this scrumptious midnight snack, breakfast treat, or fall dessert.
Pumpkin Walnut Bread
by Cindy Mushet and Sur La Table

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup (2 3/4 ounces) water
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
1 cup (9 ounces) canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup neutral-flavor vegetable oil (such as canola)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped toasted walnuts

9 by 5-inch Loaf Pan, Parchment Paper, Large Bowl, Whisk, Medium Bowl, SIlicone or Rubber Spatula, Cooling Rack, Serrated Knife

Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly coat the loaf pan with melted butter or high-heat canola-oil spray and line it with a piece of parchment paper that extends 1 inch beyond the edge of both sides of the pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, and salt until thoroughly blended. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and water. Add the sugar and blend well. Add the pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and blend well.

Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until blended and smooth. Add the walnuts and stir until they are evenly distributed. Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and level the top.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until the bread is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. To serve, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices by sawing gently with a serrated knife. Any leftovers should be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Getting ahead Pumpkin Walnut Bread freezes beautifully for up to 8 weeks when double-wrapped in plastic and placed inside a resealable plastic freezer bag. Defrost, still wrapped in plastic to avoid condensation on the cake, for at least 2 hours before serving.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hot off the Press!

Check out page 15 of today's published Whatzup magazine for my restaurant review! It's a hoot!

Monday, October 6, 2008

apples, apples and more apples.

Not too far from my humble abode resides Cook's Orchards, one of the many apple orchards in Northeast Indiana. I'm oh so lucky to have one within a few miles! On Sunday, Paul and I went there, we were craving this variety called Honeycrisp, which you can only get in Indiana and Michigan, by the way. We picked up 1/2 peck of honeycrisp apples, some no sugar added cinnamon apple butter, apple cider and something evil called Amish Peanut Butter. Okay, perhaps I went a little far with the word "evil", but this product (while not apple-related) could become a real problem. It consists of peanuts, marshmellow cream, and maple syrup. It's too die for - slices of honeycrisp apples dipped in this delicious concoction, blows "caramel" out of the ball park.

sourdough starter day #3

Two weekends ago, Paul's kids were over and we watched Baking with Julia on PBS - she's such a riot. Her guest (whose name escapes me) featured making decorative sourdough breads with braids, wheat designs and more. It was intricate, lovely and motivated my butt to finally start mkaing some sourdough bread! I don't think this time around I'll be creating "art" bread, but I definitely am going to make some sourdough boules. I've got a few decent bread resources in my "library" (though I consulted the world wide web also) and I decided to go with The Tassajara Bread Book. Brown's sourdough starter consists of 2 1/2 cups warm water, 1 tablespoon dry yeast, 2 teaspoons sugar or honey and 2 1/2 cups of flour (I use unbleached all-purpose in this first round). Mix them all together in an airtight container and allow the starter to ferment for 5 days. The photographs above shows my starter as of today, it's day 3. Brown advises bakers to stir the starter once a day and notes that the starter is often thick and muddy in appearance. Upon stirring the starter this morning, I inhaled the yeasty aroma of the starter, the tangy qualities that define sourdough bread so well. It made me smile. I've got 2 more days before I can actually begin making sourdough bread. Happy baking!

Friday, October 3, 2008

johnny appleseed festival.

Many west coasters and even east coasters cannot appreciate the midwest enough, we have more festivals than both coasts combined! Once the snow melts and the trees start sprouting, Indiana has festivals practically lined up for the summer and fall. This year we attended the Johnny Appleseed Festival in Fort Wayne. As depicted above, this is where the famous "Johnny Appleseed" (aka John Chapman) is buried. No joke. Johnny Appleseed Park is taken over for a weekend by antiques, farmer's markets, games, arts, crafts and fair food. And folks, this fair definitely celebrates the apple. I ate my first apple dumpling and Paul had some apple cider. This place was hoppin'! Most people were dressed up from the era that Johnny Appleseed was alive and if you've never had REAL kettle corn made over a hot fire, you don't know what you're missing! This kettle corn was sweet nut not overpowering likewhat most of us are used to and the apple dumpling really let the apple speak for itself encased with sugar and cinnamon in a pastry envelope. We thought it was better than Kendallville's Apple Festival which we attended last year.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

what's in a name?

What's in a name? A name unlike any other by that name? Here in Fort Wayne, people have the misconceived idea that a bagel is a bagel. If it looks like a bagel and tastes like a bagel, it's a bagel. How poorly misguided my dear friends have become. Thank God, this 1/2 Jew is around to introduce you to what is known as the "bagel". There is much debate and scrutiny over this carbohydrated creature, but the truth is the best bagels are bagels from the East Coast. Many have spent hours, perhaps even years, researching and researching the science behind the bagel and the truth's all about the water.
What your eyes are feasting on in the picture is an "The Works", the perfect culmination of salt, sesame, garlic, poppy seed, onion and plain all wrapped into this beautfil piece of bagel art. Toasted or untoasted, the delicate, chewy crumb of this bagel requires a spread of whipped cream cheese and a couple of pieces of smoked, cured salmon a.k.a. lox. However you top your bagel is your choosing, but if you're ever on the East Coast, make sure you try this phenomenon. The truth shall set you free.

Monday, September 22, 2008


The night before I headed to Washington state to visit my mom and stepdad I made chicken enchiladas. As I was planning my meals for the week, I had this major craving for enchiladas. It was as if the enchilada mummy awoke from its deep slumber and attacked my taste buds! When this craving beckons, I heed it's call! Years ago I pulled an enchilada recipe off the Food Network and ever since it's been my "go to" recipe for enchiladas. Of course it calls for making a red sauce which as far as I am concerned is the deciding factor in a dish of enchiladas. This particular recipe calls for New Mexican chile powder - its flavors yield a very mild, smoky and complex chile. Though enchiladas require some leg work, it if definitely worth the time invested. But doesn't anything good in this life require investment?

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I have some very exciting news to share with you dear readers! I have accepted an offer to write restaurant reviews for a local free magazine here in Fort Wayne called Whatzup. This is literally a DREAM COME TRUE!!! I am so excited. Keep your eyes open, my first review will be published in the October 9th edition! Even if you're not in Fort Wayne, you will be able to view the magazine online, it's published on a weekly basis (every Thursday). I will be one of the featured columnists once or twice a month. I will make an effort to post the reviews here as well.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


On a recent trip to NYC to attend a Yankee's game with my dad, we jetted over to Lupa for a late lunch. Dad and I have been long time (okay perhaps semi-addicted) Food Network junkies. Over the years, we have gained appreciation for certain celebrity chefs and have had the privilege of visiting a few of their restaurants. We have visited Emeril's (fish house in Vegas), Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill in Vegas and Emeril's Delmonico's Steakhouse in Vegas. This time we visited Lupa, one of the many restaurants Mario Batali is a owner of and Lupa's focus is Roman cuisine, served familia-style. Located in the "Village" (Greenwich Village, for those who aren't so hip to the NYC lingo), Lupa is a small restaurant fitted with heavy wooden tables and a beautiful bar encased with blood red bricks. The menu offers a nice selection of antipasto, salads, soups, pasta courses and main courses including steaks, fish of the day, veal, chicken and pork.

Our neighbor seduced us with ordering the "special" appetizer - prosciutto croquettes. Spinach, ricotta encrusted with deep fried salty prosciutto, laid on a dot of spicy tomato sauce. They were to die for, I could've eaten a bowl of those little suckers. We shared the ricotta gnocchi with mild sausage, tagliatelle with chicken and olives and saltimbucco (a slab of pounded veal with a prosciutto and sage crust). The gnocchi was out of this world - they were like little pillows in my mouth, light, feather-like. Simply scrumptious. The saltimbucco was tasty, the warmth of the sage and the saltiness of the prosciutto complimented one another and the taglieatelle was simple and fresh.

One thing my dad and I noticed throughout all the dishes was attention to the simplicity of the flavors - the chef really let the ingredients speak for themselves. It was almost as if, they were restraining themselves from "showing off". Often Italian restaurants attempt to satisfy diners with exuberant, complex sauces and it was a pleasant surprise to enjoy not only the simplicity of the sauces but the divinity of homemade pastas.

Of course, then there was the dessert menu. Repeatedly, we saw the same dessert coming out of the kitchen, Lupa Tartufo (truffle). Dad ordered that one and I ordered the Black Pepper Panna Cotta with Stone Fruit. Now here's the catch, now I know why everyone in that stinkin' restaurant ordered the huge chocolate truffle sitting on a warm chocolate sauce, because it was so delicious and yet wasn't overwhemlingly rich. Inside its shell, there was ice cream, hazelnuts, truffle and cherries. You should probably wipe your mouth right about now. The panna cotta was creamy and spicy, very refreshing. Lupa was a real treat, I look forward to visiting some of the other restaurants Batali is affiliated day.

Friday, September 5, 2008

the island life.

So I am settling back in my Midwest habitat after a relaxing and enjoyable week's vacation visiting my mom and stepdad in Whidbey Island, Washington. We visited two wonderful farmer's markets while there and I whipped up a batch of late summer squash soup for my mom. The pics above show some of the lovely produce and flowers available for sale at the markets. We also played with my mom's puppies, Vallyn and Trey, and I learned how to sew! I made two pillows!!! We also painted ceramics, saw Mamma Mia, went to flea markets, toodled around Queen Anne's district and Ballard in Seattle, oh what fun! Of course, I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and Getrude Armstrong Cake for my stepdad. It was a wonderful time and I wish I lived closer to my mom, she's a joy to be around. My boyfriend caught a sinus infection, so last night I made some matzo ball soup for him, it was comforting and soothing, a sign of the cooler weather and heartier meals to come as fall beckons.

Monday, August 18, 2008

rural markings

This isn't particularily related to food at all, but I want to "plug" my boyfriend's new blog: He creates stencil/graffiti art and yesterday he posted his first blog! Check it out and send it to all your blog-addicted friends!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

flowers for you (and roasted zucchini soup)

This morning I woke up early (even though it's a Saturday). The Barr Street Market is on Saturdays and I needed to pick up some fruits and veggies for the next week or so. So I bought these "mini" bouquets at the farmer's markets for a mere $2. What a bargain for some loveliness in my apartment, something I've decided to do as often as I am able to, I just adore flowers. They bring a smile to my face. And I thought they might bring one to yours. So enjoy the beauty. In addition to going to the farmer's market, I was given some rather large zucchini earlier in the week and set aside some time to make a roasted zucchini soup from scratch. A few weeks ago, I had lunch at the Dash-In Cafe and they served a roasted squash soup. It was delish and the more I thought about it the more I wanted to make my own. So thanks to a co-worker's neighbor I was supplied with some garden fresh zucchini. I kid you not each was at least a foot in length. I seeded the zucchini and roasted them on a sheet pan drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper. While the zucchini roasted away I diced up 5 or 6 garlic cloves, two white onions and a carrot,and caramelized them in olive oil and butter. The ultimate combination for caramelization. The fruitiness of the olive oil and the creaminess of the butter add a delicate and very aromatic flavor to the vegetables. Once the zucchini was done roasting, I added the chunks to the caramelized veggies and added plenty of chicken stock, just enough to cover the vegetables. I brought the soup to a decent simmer before pureeing the mixture in the food processor. And voila, roasted zucchini soup. It's so tasty, and very satisfying. A nice accompaniment to any salad or chunks of warm country bread. Plenty left for lunch or dinner tomorrow.
** Note I provided a picture of the soup before and after pureeing. Oh la la.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

a pictureless post.

Well folks, I'm afraid I have failed you, I don't have a picture to post of the burger Paul and I created on Sunday evening. Please accept my deepest apologies, but this will give you a chance to use your creative enlarged imaginations! So sometime over the weekend, Paul and I were talking about Sunday dinner, told him I had some hamburger meat. I was going to make my usual Emeril's Essence burger, but Paul was feeling adventurous and I followed suit. One of the few chain hamburger joints we are fans of is Red Robin, now pick your jaw up and slap your mouth back together. I know, I know, it surely isn't Father's Office but they do a burger justice for a chain restaurant. Plus we can't get over the fact that they make their own ranch dressing which is divine for dipping their steak fries. Anyway, I digress. It was the inspiration of Red Robin's burger with pineapple that we started tossing around the idea of doing a burger with pineapple, bbq sauce and I threw in my two cents with homemade lime mayonnaise. We debated as to whether to add pineapple into the burger or use it as a topping, I won that one. I added crushed pineapple into the meat along with finely chopping red onion, grated garlic, salt and freshly ground pepper. For toppings, we added tomato, romaine lettuce, pepperjack cheese, Sweet Ray's bbq sauce and the homemade lime mayonnaise I whipped up. It was delish! however, we did agree that next time we will use the pinepple as a topping/condiment. I'm afraid even after draining the crush pineapple, it left the meat rather juicy. Overall, it was a success. Our bellies were satisfied and so were our creative culinary minds! Cheers.

Monday, August 4, 2008

the best damn chocolate chip cookie.

I didn't think it was possible to surpass my Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie recipe from the 1950's but alas I must surrender to Jacque Torres' recipe recently featured in the New York Times. It's unfair how richly deserving this recipe is of its championship-title, it's a heavy weight contender at best. After seeing it featured in three blogs I daily visit, I just knew I had to give it an old-fashioned try. While there isn't anything earth shatteringly different about the ingredients used in this recipe, the key lies in allowing the cookie dough to "rest" in the fridge for a period of 24-36 hours before baking. The dough develops its rich flavors and seemingly perfect consistency. Whoever said "good things come to those who wait" wasn't lying. As bruising as it was to my cookie ego, I confess it still the same, this is the best damn chocolate chip cookie I ever made! I will hold onto my cherished recipe from dear ol' Betty and I may test the waters and allow the dough to "rest" before baking those cookies once again, but until then this one is for keeps!

Pasta with Pazazz!

Saturday night, I invited a few girls over from work for some giggles and grub. I really wanted to capture some of the wonderful flavors of the produce at the farmer's markets and I stumbled upon a beautiful recipe from Evan Kleiman for a pasta dish tossed with an arugula pesto and topped with a cherry tomato sauce (pictured above). The garlic bread is courtesy of my grandmother in Oregon and the salad is a simple mixed greens salad with carrots, cucumbers, red onion, dried cranberry and a green-lemon-balsamic viniagrette courest of products from Olivier (which Paul and I picked up while we were in Los Angeles this past April). Accompanied with a lovely slightly sweet champagne and delicate chardonnay, this meal was heavenly, the company too.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I just had to take a picture of this farm-fresh summer squash that was being sold at a flea market during the Three Rivers Festival. Bright, colorful, cheery yellow fleshed goodness screaming "buy me, no, buy me"! What a hoot. I love all the farmer's markets and stands around town.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Indian Vegetarian

All I can say is that if I were in fact going to ever fully abstain from eating animal meat, I would probably seek out Indian vegetarian recipes. Bold flavors, warming spices and naan - you had me at hello. Maggie, if you're reading this, this one's for you! what you see before you may includes warmed naan (no folks, I haven't even attempted to make this from scratch, picked up some frozen naan from my local Indian grocery), butternut squash with fenugreek and a dish made of red lentils, dry-cooked, actually. Lentils are a great source of complex carbs as well as protein (I recently found this out) and they taste really good too!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

persian anyone?

My best friend from Los Angeles is married to a Persian man and for wither my birthday or Christmas she sent me a Persian cookbook. I have made several recipes from it and have throughly enjoyed the flavors and characteristics known to Persian cooking. Last week, I made this dish (the Persian name escapes me at the moment) - an eggplant, tomato and lamb casserole topped with onions and a dash of paprika. The meat is seasoned with nutmeg and cinnamon and when all is said and done, topped with a little yogurt and some rice, this meal is to die for. Hearty, even for a summery meal.


Wish this picture wasn't so "flashy", I'm still getting used to the various flash choices available to me on this digital camera. I truly intended to take a picture of the blueberry-lime cobble with ginger-cornmeal biscuits before biting into it, but completely forgot. Hope you had a pleasant 4th, ours was very low key. In fact, we didn't have "plans" until Thursday evening. We spent most the day watching a movie, going to a garage sale and eating pizza. As the evening drew near, we headed up to Kendallville to have a mini cook-out with Paul's parents and watched the fireworks over Bixler Lake. All in all it was a nice time. As always I offered to bring a dessert and what spells out patriotism more than a blueberry cobbler??? (Pie I suppose, but given the time frame I was not about to go there...). This recipe actually called for lemon zest, but alas there were NO lemons at Wally World the night before the 4th of July. Perhaps all of northwestern Fort Wayne had the same idea I did. :) Maybe not. So instead I used limes and worked out perfectly. All I can say is a little ground ginger goes a long way, faint bursts of ginger in the biscuit topping was a nice touch.

Friday, June 27, 2008

After the Rain

As most you weather-channel addicted folks know, the Midwest has been slammed with thunderstorms and flooding. Thankfully, Fort Wayne has not suffered any flooding nor any devastating damage as a result. Instead, we have seen beautiful rainbows and sunset colored skylines like the pictures I posted above. This is one thing I love about living in Indiana, so enjoy the pics. Tonight Paul and I are going to his sister's for dinner and I'm finishing up a batch of Chocolate-Toffee Smores Cookies. Will post a picture of the cookies next week. Happy Friday!

Monday, June 16, 2008


Yesterday was Father's Day and while I wasn't able to spend time with my dad on such occasion, I did the next best thing, baked. Actually I made blueberry muffins for Paul for Father's Day, but would've done the same for my dad! Most who know me can positively affirm that I am not a morning person, it takes alot for me to get up in the morning, especially when I don't have to do so. But yesterday, I got up an hour early and made homemade blueberry muffins for my man since he is a daddy of four, yes, count them four children (i.e. rugrats, munchkins, etc.). They were especially good accompanied by melted salted butter and a cool glass of milk. In Paul's case, accompanied by a nice hot cup of Old Crown Roaster's, Panama Red coffee. Bliss in a cup and in your mouth.

the onset of summer

The rains continue to pour the thunder roars, but in between the outcrys of Mother Nature, we are blessed with the fruit of local farmers labor. This past Saturday I made my local rounds at Cedar Creek Produce in Leo, Indiana to purchase my eggs and behold! the variety is bountiful. The picture above depicts my purchases for the day - farm fresh brown eggs, a pint of rather larger than life cherry tomatoes and thick lucious asparagus stalks. Red potatoes, green bell peppers, strawberries and watermelons were also available for purchase. I made a lovely dish of angel hair pasta with these tomatoes and a few asparagus stalks chopped up. Let the veggies simmer in mounds of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and red chili pepper flakes. I'm looking forward to more summer goodness in the form of food. It's the simple things in life.