Showing posts with label carrots. Show all posts
Showing posts with label carrots. Show all posts

Friday, October 26, 2012

October's Secret Supper at Southport Grocery

When we moved to Chicago a few months ago, I have to admit I was nervous. Not because I didn't think we'd love Chicago, but because we signed a lease before I'd ever even stepped foot in the neighborhood we'd be living in. I'd gotten stuck in NYC with a cancelled flight after a business trip, and was unable to make it out to Chicago the weekend that the Monkey Scientist and our roommate came to look at places. Still, I trusted their judgement and I quickly realized how much I love our part of town!

Menu at Southport Grocery's October Secret Supper

One of the best restaurants in our area is the Southport Grocery & Cafe. A coworker had actually told me about it before I moved and I was not disappointed. Their brunch is top notch and their cupcakes are out of this world. And I moved from DC, land of cupcake shops. Plus they have a great little market with high end ingredients like jellies, pickles, sprinkles and real maple syrup. So when I heard they host a "Secret Supper" once a month, I knew I needed to get an invite. I grabbed 4 seats to the October party as soon as I heard about it (by joining their email list) for me, my bff, my roommate and the MS.

New England Clam Chowder at Southport Grocery Secret Supper

All of the food was really a step above anywhere we've gone lately. My favorite course was the clam chowder. Now I'm a New England girl, and this was some seriously good clam chowder. The liquid wasn't too thick and there was a great substance-to-liquid ratio. I hate when there are big chunks of potatoes in chowder, but these were perfectly diced and the texture was offset by crispy shallots. The clams were cooked exactly how I like them - just a bit chewy and not at all briny.  Plus the sourdough bread bowl they baked upstairs was perfection.  Sourdough is my favorite bread by far - I think I could live off of it. I couldn't ask for anything more out of this course (except for, well, more).

Pork and Orchiette at Southport Grocery Secret Supper

The main course was a Pork Confit and Orchiette served in a large mug.  As the Monkey Scientist put it, there might not be anything better than a mug full of pork.  It was topped with currants and a juniper gelee, and was mixed with local arugula and carrots.  Some of our table found it a bit sweet, and I thought the sauce might have been a little heavy.  Plus, cooked carrots just don't do it for me.  It wasn't the highlight of the meal but it was really great nonetheless.

Pumpkin Rice Pudding with Sesame Lace Cookie at Southport Grocery Secret Supper

For dessert, we were served a pumpkin rice pudding with a black sesame lace cookie.  I'm not sure I'd ever had a homemade lace cookie before, but now I'm determined to make them myself. They melt in your mouth  and have the perfect bit of crunch.  Sesame seeds aren't my favorite thing ever so I might experiment with other things I can put in the caramel if I make them at home.  The rice pudding sitting below the cookie was great too.  Rice pudding is one of my favorite desserts.  To be honest, I think we all expected a little more pumpkin flavor, but it was topped with dried cranberries and candied ginger which was amazing. I loved the mason jar presentation, too!

The only thing I didn't capture was the special treat at the end of the meal. They had homemade Reese's, Three Muskeeter, Almond Joy, and Butterfingers that their pastry chef had whipped up for us. I think we all felt sweets overload at the end of the meal (OK everyone but me. I don't understand sweets overload until it's way too late) but they were absolutely delightful, albeit a bit melty.  I especially liked the Butterfinger and thought the Three Musketeers was unique and delicious (the consistency was denser than the original).  This was definitely a special dinner for us (we even got a bottle of wine, and we never drink at dinner), but I'm hoping we can go to another Secret Supper sometime (maybe if my folks come visit!). It was a blast!

All gone

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The BEST Brisket


I have owed you this blog post for a long time now.  I actually made this brisket for Rosh Hashana... which somehow became nearly a month ago.  Time has been slipping away from me so quickly - I can't believe it's mid-October.  Anyways, even though it took me a long time, I had to share this recipe with you.  It's probably the best piece of meat I've ever cooked.


Although I've hosted a few Passover dinners, this was my first time hosting Rosh Hashana.  Now that we're living in Chicago, we are lucky enough to be able to share the holidays with the Monkey Scientist's family.  We had his parents, brother, and brother's girlfriend over for Rosh and it was the best time.  They're all so nice and wonderful to be around.  And the food was beyond plentiful.  We had enough to feed at least 10 more people!  I guess that's what happens when you literally cook from Friday night until Sunday night for just about every waking hour....


The star of the meal was definitely this brisket.  I hid it behind some tzimmes (which wasn't so popular at Rosh night 1, but was a hit when I brought the leftovers to a friend's house for night two!), but it still managed to shine.  Although this recipe takes a long time, Nach Waxman is the man to trust when it comes to brisket.  After all, he owns the largest food-related book store in the country!


I should warn you, however,  that you have to slice 8 onions for this recipe. EIGHT.  For anyone who knows me, you know I have the wateriest eyes in the world when I chuckled.  When I chop one onion I'm sobbing.  When I chop 8? I actually couldn't close my eyes for a good 12 hours.  I might recommend buying onion goggles.  They have to work better than the torture I put myself through!!


I haven't eaten a lot of brisket in my life, but this is far and away the BEST brisket I have ever tried.  (Yes, better than my old favorite, the Southwestern Pulled Brisket, but that's wonderful in it's own way). It is tender, juicy, and just takes like beef should.  There's nothing frilly or sweet, it's just perfect.  And the best part? It gets better in the fridge for the next day or two.  That is, if there are any leftovers.  It's a lot of work, but your family will love you if you make this.  I promise.


Nach Waxman’s Best Brisket Recipe
from Leite's Culinaria

One 5- to 6-pound first-cut beef brisket, trimmed so that a thin layer of fat remains
All-purpose flour, for dusting
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons corn or other mild vegetable oil
8 medium onions, peeled and thickly sliced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
Kosher salt
2 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, peeled and trimmed

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Have ready a large ovenproof enameled cast-iron pot or other heavy pot that has a lid and is large enough to just barely contain the brisket snugly.
2. Lightly dust the brisket with flour, then sprinkle it with pepper. Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Add the brisket to the pot and cook on both sides until crusty and browned areas appear on the surface here and there, 5 to 7 minutes per side.
3. Transfer the brisket to a platter. Turn up the heat under the pot a bit, then add the onions and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Cook until the onions have softened and developed a rich brown color but aren’t yet caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Turn off the heat and place the brisket on top of the onions. Pour any juices that accumulated on the platter over the brisket. Spread the tomato paste over the brisket as if you were icing a cake. Sprinkle the brisket with salt and pepper, then add the garlic and carrot to the pot. Cover the pot, transfer it to the oven, and let it cook, untouched, for 1 1/2 hours.
5. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, thinly slice the meat across the grain into approximately 1/8-inch-thick slices. Return the slices to the pot, overlapping them at an angle so that you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice. The end result should resemble the original unsliced brisket leaning slightly backward. If absolutely necessary, add 2 to 3 teaspoons of water to the pot.
6. Cover the pot and return it to the oven. Lower the heat to 325°F and cook until the brisket is fork-tender, about 2 hours more. Check once or twice during cooking to make sure that the liquid hasn’t bubbled away. (Mine had more than enough liquid, maybe from not trimming enough fat.) If it has, add a few more teaspoons of water—but no more. Also, each time you check, spoon some of the liquid on top of the roast so that it drips down between the slices.
7. It’s ready to serve right away with its juices, but it’s even better the second day. Let the brisket cool, cover it loosely with foil, and refrigerate it overnight to serve the day after. Skim any fat from the surface of the liquid and reheat the brisket, covered, in an oven turned to 325°F for about an hour.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

The cold has really started to set in here in Chicago!  I grew up in Boston and went to school in Michigan, so I'm no stranger to the cold, but somehow 3 winters in DC has made me a little unprepared for the cold.  I've been wearing what was my DC-winter coat for two weeks already! And it's only getting colder from here...  I can't complain too much though, it is October.  But seriously, when did that happen? Wasn't it August like, yesterday?

A quick note: I wrote this post about a week ago, when it was still 40 or 50 degrees outside.  Since then, we've had a couple of really gorgeous days (today it might even hit 80!) and I have been so appreciative.  But there is no denying that the cold weather is coming back and there will be much more soup to come!!


Anyways, there is one great thing about the colder weather.  It's soup season!!!  I have been on a bit of a mini meatball kick for a few weeks now.  It started when I had a sudden urge to make rigatoni with mini meatballs a few weeks ago (and yeah, that was amazing) and is continuing with this soup.  The only thing I don't like about mini meatballs is rolling all of them.  It takes forever and my hands get so dried out with meat.  If you have kids, this is where I recommend bringing them into the kitchen and putting them to work!! (Or sending them over to me, I'll put them to work! Just be sure to take them home with you after, please.)

Italian Wedding Soup

I never used to be a huge kale fan, but I like it a lot in this soup!  If you buy it at Trader Joe's, it's already washed and perfectly cut for this soup. However, they give you more than you need in a bag, so use only like half a bag.  It wilts down, but not so much.  Just use your best judgement.

Italian Wedding Soup

The first soup of the season was a tasty one!  The Monkey Scientist said, "That's a good soup!"  I liked that it had so many components - vegetables, pasta, and savory meatballs.  It is leaps and bounds above the canned Italian wedding soup, which in my opinion isn't even worth eating.  If you like this soup, be sure to check out my Mini Chicken Meatball soup.  It's similar and delicious in it's own way!

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup
adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures

12 c low-sodium chicken broth (I made my own!)
4 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tbsp (about 3 cloves) minced garlic, divided
1 bunch (half TJ's bag) kale, stems removed, leaves cut into thin strips
1/2 c grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c Panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
5-6 dashes worcestershire sauce
1 lb ground turkey
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 c ditalini pasta (or other small shape)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line 2 large baking sheets with foil. Brush with olive oil.
2. In a large Dutch oven, combine chicken broth, carrots, garlic, and kale. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower and simmer 30-40 minutes until the carrots are tender.
3. Combine the cheese, eggs, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and worcestershire in a medium bowl.  Add meat and combine with your hands but don't overmix.  Roll into 1" balls and line along the cooking sheet.  Drizzle over the top of the meatballs with olive oil.  Bake 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.
4. When the carrots are tender and the meatballs are still cooking, add the pasta to the Dutch oven and cook 10 minutes (or according to package instructions).  Turn off the heat and, once cooked, add the meatballs to the soup.
5.  Serve immediately, topped with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What we had for dinner this week

OK I'm still behind on blogging.  I have no pretty pictures for you.  But I wanted to share the recipes we made this week to give you cooking inspiration!

Sunday night: Bibimbop from Cooking Light  We used steak instead of tofu (the Monkey Scientist is from the Midwest, I can't just be feeding him tofu!).  Bibimbop is my favorite Korean dish.  My favorite is from Kang's in Ann Arbor - I love how the hot stone makes the rice at the bottom crispy.  This recipe simulated it well by crisping up the rice in the cast iron skillet.  Lots of wonderful Asian flavors.

Monday night: Roasted Chicken with Red-Skinned Potatoes and Carrots
Washed a 5 1/2 lb chicken, covered in olive oil, chicken seasoning from the Christmas Tree Shop, and freshly ground black pepper, inside and out. Stuffed it with a lemon, cut in half.  Filled a dish with quartered potatoes and carrots (did nothing else to them beside clean and cut) and then put the chicken on top.  Baked at 475 for 25 minutes and then at 400 for 45 minutes.  I cooked it breast-side up for the first 45 minutes and then flipped it for the last 25.  Perfection, and still eating leftovers for lunch.

Tuesday night: We ate at Tesoro in Van Ness.  Not overly impressed.

Wednesday night: Spicy Chicken Thighs with Cucumber Avocado Salsa from Cookin' Canuck  - I'm now completely obsessed with this recipe.  Took 15 minutes to throw together, including cooking time, and tastes AMAZING.  The ancho chili powder (which I got at World Market) and cumin have almost a cinnamon-like spice to them.  The honey in the salsa is the perfect amount of sweetness and the lime gives just the right tang.  I loved the load of vegetables on top of the chicken - I didn't even need to make a grain to fill us up.  We made it on a cookie sheet with sprayed with olive oil rather than a rack and it was fine.  Definitely give this one a try!

Thursday night:  BBQ night!  Our friends have been organizing barbecues every Thursday at my apartment building.  This week I'm bringing Peanut Butter Cup S'mores Bars from Mel's Sweet Life.  The assembly wasn't so easy (forming that last bit into an 8x8 square? All I had was crumbs.)  But they've been sitting on my counter overnight and I'm quite confident they'll be delicious.

Hopefully I can get you some full recipes and pics over the weekend... I will do my best!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Baked Pork Egg Rolls

Baked Pork Egg Rolls

On our last trip to H-Mart, I picked up a package of egg roll wrappers.  I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with them, but after the Chinese New Year, I thought it may be fun to try a more traditional egg roll recipe - filled with pork and cabbage.

Cabbage and CarrotsEgg Roll Filling

It turns out, making egg rolls is HARD!  I have instructions below on how to roll them, but it really isn't that simple.  I kept ripping the wrappers (maybe I needed to spread the filling out more?) and getting very frustrated.  I hate to admit it, but this might be my only egg roll adventure in the foreseeable future.  It's just so easy to buy them!

Egg RollsEgg Rolls

The taste, though, was really outstanding.  I was shocked how much the filling tasted like egg roll filling at a Chinese restaurant!  It was sweet and salty, just a little bit spicy, and I enjoyed the cabbage in it. I actually really liked eating the filling on its own (or over some white rice) just as much as in the egg rolls, so I may do that in the future as a quick throw together meal.  If you try this, let me know how it goes for you.  Do you have any tricks for rolling egg rolls?

Egg Rolls

Baked Pork Egg Rolls
from Ezra Pound Cake

1/4 c soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp light brown sugar
vegetable oil, for brushing on rolls
4 c cabbage coleslaw mix
1/2 c shredded carrots (I bought them pre-shredded)
4 garlic cloves, minched
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb ground pork
6 scallions, thinly sliced
16 egg roll wrappers (6-7" square)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
sweet-and-sour sauce or sweet red chili sauce for dipping

1. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add coleslaw mix, carrots (if using), garlic, and ginger; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until vegetables are tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Raise heat to high; add pork and soy mixture. Cook, tossing, until pork is no longer pink and liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in scallions. Transfer mixture to a plate to cool.
4. Lay wrappers flat on a work surface, and assemble egg rolls. (See “how to” below.)
5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet; place egg rolls on sheet and brush with cup oil. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Serve with sweet-and-sour sauce and Chinese hot mustard.
Note: If baking from frozen, bake about 15 minutes.

How to Roll an Egg Roll
How roll and egg roll - step 1
How to roll and egg roll step 3
How to roll and egg roll step 4
Egg roll - final

1. Place an egg-roll wrapper flat with one corner facing you.
2. Using a pastry brush, brush all four sides of the wrapper with egg.
3. Spoon 1/3 cup pork mixture near the corner closest to you. Fold that corner over the filling, and fold both side corners toward center of wrapper. (It should look like an open envelope.)
4. Tightly roll up filled pocket toward the far corner to close wrapper. Gently press down to seal the edges.
5. Repeat the process until you run out of filling or wrappers. Feel free to assemble up to 4 egg rolls at a time when you feel comfortable with the process.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Kicked-up Meatloaf

kicked up meatloaf

I am so sorry! I wrote up this post a long time ago and realized I never posted it for you!! And now I've made you wait allll this time without a new post.  Shame on me.

To be honest, I wasn't so excited about this recipe, so I guess that's what led to my hesitation in posting it.  When I have a recipe I totally love - like buttery cloverleaf rolls - I post it right that night. But this one was just, eh.  I still figured it might appeal to some of you.

kicked up meatloaf

My favorite part of this meatloaf was the addition of mushrooms.  I'd never put mushrooms in my meatloaf before, but I absolutely loved them.  I used baby portabellas, which were absolutely perfect. I'm usually not that into veggies in my meatloaf (which is why I left out the carrots - I'm not into cooked carrots at all) but mushrooms are meaty enough that they work well.

kicked up meatloaf

I was also intrigued by the step where you soak the bread crumbs in milk.  I'd never done that before.  I'm not sure what exactly it did, but maybe it made a juicier meatloaf.  I wished it had a bit more egg - I know it's weird but I actually love an eggy meatloaf like my college roommate used to make.

kicked up meatloaf

My biggest issue with this recipe happened once it was cooked.  As soon as I sliced it, it was almost impossible to get a nice piece out of the dish.  It kept falling apart.  It tasted fine, but it wasn't exactly a gorgeous presentation.  I think it's all the lentils that made it not turn into a loaf quite as much as meat typically does.

kicked up meatloaf

Overall, not a bad recipe. It's nowhere near my favorite meatloaf recipe, but it is definitely a different and fairly delicious dinner.  It's especially good with a little sriracha on top (you know that's how the Monkey Scientist ate it!), smothered in ketchup, or even with soy sauce.  If you've cut out red meat and didn't want to go all turkey, it's certainly a good alternative to traditional meat loaf.

kicked up meatloaf

Kicked up Meatloaf
from ELR on Perry's Plate

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 cup cooked black or green lentils
1 large carrot, diced (I actually left this out)
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp salt
1/2 T olive oil
1/4th tsp black pepper
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 T ketchup
1 T pure maple syrup (I was out so I used honey)
1 T balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the diced onions and saute for about six minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the carrot and garlic and cook for three minutes. Add the chopped mushroom and cook for another five minutes or so, until the mushroom has turned soft and all the veggies are nice and juicy.
3. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add the cooked lentils, salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce and ketchup and mix well.
4. In a small bowl, combine the milk and panko bread crumbs. Let sit for three minutes so the breadcrumbs can absorb a little of the milk. Add to veggie mixture.
5. Add ground turkey and beaten egg and mix well. It’s easiest here to use your hands. Transfer to a greased loaf pan and press down to smooth top.
6. Combine the ingredients for the glaze and pour over top of meatloaf. Spread with a spoon to cover the top.
7. Bake for 55 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees (mine too much longer).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fish Stock

making fish stock

In high school, I spent a lot of time over at my best friend's house, where her mom was always cooking up some sort of stock.  Usually it was a leftover chicken carcass boiling away on the stove with carrots, onion, and celery. The freezer was full of the stuff, and any time they wanted to make soup (or her mom's gravy) they'd pull out a tupperware, defrost on the stove, and it'd be ready in no time.

I loved this idea!  I am always spending way too much money on stock full of totally unknown ingredients.  I had only every tried making shrimp stock before, but it was so easy that I wanted to try again.  I stayed in my seafood comfort zone, but I will definitely be venturing out to chicken or beef stock next time!

fish carcass for stock

Now I admit, making stock is scary. Mostly because of that scary word I used a minute ago.  You know, carcass.  But think of it as being resourceful.  Using the whole animal, not just the parts you eat directly.  And better yet, think of it as the easiest step you can take for better food at a lower cost.

There's much more to tell about how I ended up with this giant fish carcass (the story is coming, I promise) but let's just say I only paid $1 for it and it made enough fish stock for cioppino, shrimp risotto, and much more - including the recipe that's coming up later this week.  It's chocked full of flavor - definitely try it out.  And don't be scared of the picture with the fish head floating up - I just did that for effect... it is almost Halloween after all!

fish stock

Fish Stock

20 cups water
1/4 c white wine
1 fish carcass (everything but the filets - head, bones, fins etc)
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp herbes de provence
3 small carrots, cut in thirds
1 large onion, quartered
shells from 1/2 lb shrimp
2 lemons, quartered (skin on)

1. Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a large stock pot.
2. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 30 minutes.
3. Remove fish head, veggies, and lemons using tongs or a slotted spoon (it's nice if you use a pot with a strainer insert and then you can pull that out and dump it).  Run through a mesh strainer to remove any remaining solids.  Use within 3 days or freeze.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lentil Pot Pie

Lentil Pot Pie

I know, yet again, it's been a while.  I know you've felt neglected, and I'm sorry. I have some excuses.

For one, I had some terrible stomach thing going on where I'd be starving, I'd eat 2 bites and be full.  It was not fun.  Then, I had to enjoy my last few times going out to eat in DC with one of my favorite coworkers, who's left me to move to New Haven and work from home. We also had to go out to dinner to say goodbye to the Monkey Scientist's roommates, some of whom have left us for med school.  It was a big Chinese-food-in-Rockville week. And after all that, the Monkey Scientist has been moving into a new apartment and I've been trying to help him.  There was lots of packing and box-carrying.  I really hadn't cooked anything since my roast chicken.

Lentils boil in cayenne with a bay leaf

That's not entirely true, I did make one meal...but it wasn't exactly blog-worthy and I didn't exactly have time/energy to take photos.  The night we moved the MS into the new apt, at 10 pm when we were exhausted and starving, I cooked with the only food he moved from the old house.  Which was frozen fish, Ritz crackers, and spices.  I defrosted the fish, crushed and seasoned the crackers with Caribbean jerk seasoning, coated the fish with the crumbs, added some olive oil and baked.  See, not blog-worthy. (But yes, I was impressed with myself for throwing that one together!)

Lentils boiling

To be honest, I wasn't even really going to cook dinner again last night, but I had this great idea.  Really, my idea was to make up my own recipe with lentils and puff pastry, which I already had at home.  I was going to cook the lentils with onions and then add tomato paste and somehow wrap them up in puff pastry... well I wasn't quite sure.  So I googled "lentils puff pastry" and this is what came up.

Veg and Bacon, prepped

When I made it, I realized it looked a lot like pot-pie, so that's why I named it that.  Plus, my Lentil Sheperd's Pie was such a hit, I figured this could be like a follow up post.  If you liked that you'll like this - it also is a great way to use lentils, is SUPER inexpensive to make, has a warm, comfort food feel, and tastes great!   And of course, I kicked the spice factor way up in both recipes.  If you're not a spice person, you can leave out all the cayenne and red pepper flakes I added here (but that'd be bo-ring!).  The one comfort food joy it does lack that goo (...err gravy?) inside a real chicken pot pie.  I need to work on that.

Veg and Bacon, browned and cooked down

So some caveats.... The puff pastry was left over and the box was already open, so it was a little dried out.  It tasted fine, but that's why it looks crackled in the pictures.  Also, the original recipe called for French green lentils.  Being the good American I am, I used American brown lentils.  I think they cook a lot quicker than the French green ones, so I adjusted the recipe that you see below from the original - mainly that I didn't soak them.  The lentil bag said I didn't have to! Just be aware depending on the kind of lentils you use.  Finally, I added bacon because...well like I said I'm a good American.  If you're a vegetarian, you can totally take it out. But then it won't taste at all like bacon...which may be a crime.

Lentil Pot Pie filling

The MS was working pretty late, so I prepped the filling earlier in the evening and then brought it over to the new apartment to add the dough topping and bake them.  This worked out perfectly (can you see his new kitchen in the background of some of the photos?).  The filling filled all the ramekins I have (2 big, 4 little) with some leftover.  The puff pastry only covered the ones I filled, but I probably could have rolled it out thinner to cover one extra.  The MS ate 2 big ramekins, and I ate 1 little for dinner, in case you're wondering how many portions you'll get.

Lentil Pot Pies - ready for the oven!

This one was a pretty good recipe.  When they were fresh out of the oven, I was thinking some cheese probably could have helped this.  If you make your own puff pastry, maybe add some shredded cheddar into the dough.  As I mentioned, I would have liked a little more liquid as well.  There has to be some way to imitate the gravy in pot pie for these.  I think the extra spice was totally necessary to give it good flavor. I enjoyed this one - and the little pies are super cute! A big version would be a good thing to bring to Thanksgiving (and man that's coming up sooner than I'd like to believe!).

Lentil Pot Pie

Lentil Pot Pie
adapted from Whole Foods

1 1/2 cups lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 dried bay leaf
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2-3 shallots, finely chopped
10 baby carrots, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 pieces turkey bacon (you can use pork bacon, but then you probably don't need the oil)
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine (I used Manischewitz)
1/2 package puff pastry, defrosted (you can make your own if you like!)

1. Put lentils in a medium pot with 3 cups water, bay leaf, and 1 tsp cayenne pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender but still hold a little texture, about 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
3. Heat oil over medium heat in a larger pot. Add shallots, carrots, bell pepper, bacon, salt, pepper, cayenne, red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, 7-8 minutes.
4. Add garlic and tomatoes, stir well, then add wine to deglaze.  Scrape up all the bacon goodness.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for an additional 5 minutes.
5. Add lentils and any remaining cooking liquid to pot with vegetables.  Simmer over medium low heat, uncovered, until sauce has thickened, 10-15 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper, cayenne, and red pepper flakes.
6. Pour lentils into individual ramekins (or one deep pie dish).  On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry dough to 1/8" thickness. Cut into circles just slightly larger than the tops of the ramekins. Place dough over lentils and make a few slashes over the top to allow steam to escape.
7. Bake until golden brown and piping hot, 25-30 min (ramekins on the higher oven racks will be done faster).

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mom's Pot Roast [Guest Blogger]

I'd like to welcome to the blog a certain someone you might have heard me mention before.  I'd like to give a big welcome to the Monkey Scientist, who will be sharing his Mom's Pot Roast recipe.  He did take photos of the prep, but very unfortunately his house was robbed last night and his camera was taken.  A big thank you to him not only for blogging, but for cooking me this meal - it was super delicious! (And I'm glad you'll finally get to see how much he teases me!!)
The Monkey Scientist's Roast
photo by d.liff
Greetings everyone…Monkey Scientist here. Believe it or not I do actually have a name but I’m going to leave that anonymous to add to the intrigue.
D always gets mad when I made fun of the way she writes on her blog (she does actually talk this way in real life by the way), so in that vein I am going to try and imitate her style as much as possible…

photo by the Monkey Scientist

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I’m not usually one to follow any sort of set recipe. I more just like to throw everything together in a big pot and see how it turns out. D introduced me to this thing called a “side dish” but I still don’t quite subscribe to that belief.
So today’s “recipe” comes from my mom’s kitchen back in Chicago. Pot roast is one of her the rarer dishes that she cooks, but when she does make it we all enjoy quite the feast. For Christmas she gave me my very own Crock Pot, and since then I have made some pretty fantastic meals (you’ll just have have to wait til February for the family Super Bowl Chili recipe…my personal favorite). I absolutely LOVE cooking with the Crock Pot! It brings together so many diverse flavors, and you don’t need to break the bank in finding the best meat out there. Just your typical run-of-the-mill top round roast from the local supermarket will do. When I went to the store, I was delighted to see that roasts were the “Big Buy” of the day. Over 2 ½ pounds of meat for under eight dollars!
I’ll admit there’s really nothing fancy about this pot roast recipe compared to any other. Just throw in a bunch of vegetables with the meat and let it all soak together throughout the day. Based on a limited veggie selection at our grocery store, I just went with some white potatoes, carrots, and celery, and to add a little twist, some chili peppers…not a necessary addition but certainly worth trying if you like a little kick.

The Monkey Scientist's Roast
photo by d.liff
When it was done we just scooped it out of the pot and served on toast to make some nice hearty sandwiches. You might find that when it’s done it will need some sort of sauce to add another dimension. We used Sweet Baby Ray’s barbeque sauce but you can probably also use a spicy mustard or throw some flour in the meat juice to make a thicker gravy. Also, you might want to brown the meat before putting it in the Crock Pot for the day, but I was a little pressed for time so I just skipped that part. I would recommend some mashed potatoes and maybe some steamed green beans if you’re into the whole side dish thing…or just grab more out of the pot and put that on the side!

The Monkey Scientist's Roast
photo by d.liff
Mom's Pot Roast 
(serves 4-6)

2.5 lbs top roast (you can use more or less depending on size of slow cooker)
7 carrots, unpeeled (but washed) and chopped
3 medium-sized white potatoes, quartered
2-3 stalks celery
2 whole jalapeños, fresh
1 can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (if you don't love really spicy food, only use 1-2 peppers)
1 packet of onion soup mix (can be substituted or augmented with 1 whole white onion)
*Note: amounts of ingredients may vary with size of Crock Pot


1. Chop carrots and celery into ½ to 1 inch chunks, depending on width
2. Chop potatoes into about 8 pieces, or slightly bigger than the carrot chunks
3. Slice jalapenos and cut into half circles
4. Add about half of the chopped vegetables and 3-4 chili peppers from can into crock pot. Save the other half to top around and on top of the meat.
5. Rinse the meat and pat dry. You can brown lightly to add texture and cut some of the fat but if short on time this is not necessary.
6. Place meat on top of vegetables and fill the rest of the crock pot to about ¾ depth with remaining vegetables.
7. Add water to ¾ depth, or enough to cover all contents. Add onion soup mix and lightly stir to mix it all in.
8. Set crock pot to low, cover, and let cook for 8-10 hours
9. Meat should easily fall apart with a fork and be stringy in nature.
10. Dig in and put it all on toasted bread to make the perfect pot roast sandwich

Monday, February 14, 2011

Shrimp Bisque with Sherry

I woke up Valentine's day morning still fighting my chest cold and cough.  I decided the best way to fight it would be with a nice spicy soup.

Soup season is almost over in DC.  Today the temperature got up over 60.  I'm definitely not complaining!

I really enjoyed making the shrimp stock for this recipe.  I'd never made my own stock before, nevermind shrimp stock, so this was a great learning opportunity.  It was easssyyy!

I kicked up the spice - using a bunch of chili powder and red pepper flakes instead of the cayenne.  I think it could have used a little bit of garlic as well.

The soup was yummy!  I couldn't get it quite as smooth as I wanted it to be in my food processor.  I'm afraid I might have damaged the blades.  Does anyone know where I can get replacement blades for a Hamilton Beach food processor?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Silky Shrimp Bisque with Sherry
from Cookin' Canuck


3/4 lb medium shrimp, shelled & deveined, shells reserved
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/3 cup dry sherry
5 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 carrot, chopped
1 large stalk celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp long-grain white rice
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)


Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan set over moderately high heat. Add shrimp shells and cook, stirring frequently, until the tails turn pink, about 2 minutes. Add sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until most of sherry is evaporated. Add water and bay leaf, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let the mixture simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes. Pour shrimp stock through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Press gently on the shrimp shells to release extra liquid. Discard shells and bay leaf.

While stock is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a bowl and set aside. To the saucepan, add 1 tablespoon olive and carrots, celery, and onion. Cook until the onion and celery are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in shrimp stock, rice, tomato paste, cayenne pepper, and salt. Cover the saucepan and simmer the mixture until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Reserve 8 shrimp and stir the remaining shrimp into the soup. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.

Using an immersion blender or a regular blender (in 2 to 3 batches), puree the soup until smooth. Take care not to burn yourself. Return the soup to the saucepan and stir in cream. Reheat on low.

Serve soup and garnish each serving with 2 of the reserved shrimp.

Makes 4 servings (appetizer size)