Friday, May 26, 2006

Menu for Wednesday, May 24

Beverages: Mojitos, 7-up (for Abby), Umberto Fiore Moscato d'Asti 2005.

Starters: Spring green mesculine mix tossed with Bouchon house dressing and topped with goat cheese crumbles and grape tomatoes; that Italian Tomato Thingy.

Main: steamed baby red potatoes mixed with butter and garlic; Basil and Garlic stuffed Chicken cooked on the grill; Alteration of Orange Pepper Roasted Asparagus, freshly baked white bread (I'll add the recipe for this later... I have to transcribe that one since I didn't make it up).

Dessert: Cherry Pie with Vanilla Bean ice cream.

Alteration of Orange Pepper Roasted Asparagus

1 lb fresh asparagus, cleaned and trimmed
Orange Pepper Seasoning
Olive Oil
Hickory smoked bacon
goat cheese crumbles
the juice of half a lemon

Snip bacon into bite-sized pieces and brown in a pan, drain and set aside on a paper towel. Follow the instructions for regular Orange Pepper Roasted Asparagus and after putting the asparagus on a platter, top with bacon crumbles, goat cheese and the juice of half a lemon. SO DAMNED GOOD and so freaking easy.

Easy Impressive Tomato Thing

This is the easiest and most beautiful salad combo in the world and when you've got some exquisitely ripe tomatoes or, god help us, heirlooms, it's absofuckinglutely divine. I normally don't make it this early in the year, because I get spoiled during late summer but I found heirlooms in the store and they smelled like summer and therefore, I had to listen to fate and make this for dinner.

2 red tomatoes
2 orange heirloom tomatoes
2 green zebra heirloom tomatoes
Fresh Basil
1 lb fresh buffalo mozzarella
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Freshly ground pepper
Kosher salt

Throw the cheese into the freezer for about five minutes while you slice the tomatoes . Take cheese out of freezer and cut it into slices, mimicking the thickness in which you sliced the tomatoes. Tear basil off stems and rough it up a little in your hands. Layer on a platter: red tomato slice, cheese, basil, green tomato slice, cheese, basil, yellow tomato slice, cheese, basil. Repeat until everything's layered nicely (your inner OCD will be happy) then grind black pepper over it and sprinkle with kosher salt, then drizzle with olive oil. Best served room temperature.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Menu for Tuesday, May 23

Wines: Recanati Chardonnay 2003 (the typo wine) and Domaine Massamier La Mignarde Rose 2005

Starters: Bacon-wrapped dates, spring green mesculine mix tossed with Bouchon house dressing

Main: Tomato Pesto Turkey burgers on wheat buns with fresh tomato slices and Lemony Snap Peas.

Dessert: Banana Cream Unpie in Nut Pie Shell

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Lemony snap peas

1 lb cleaned snap peas
2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp butter
1 pinch kosher salt

Fill a heavy skillet halfway with water and add snap peas, lemon zest and garlic. Bring to a quick simmer so that the snap peas are just starting to turn green. Drain water and saute with butter until liquid is mostly gone, then squeeze the lemon half over it so that a lemony butter sauce starts to happen. Season to taste with kosher salt and serve.

The easiest side dish in the world. The only big warning is that these can get overdone if you aren't careful, so I finish with a saute rather than by boiling in water to reduce the liklihood of this happening.

Tomato-Pesto Turkey Burgers

1 lb lean ground turkey
2 spoonfuls Trader Joe's Tomato Basil prepared pesto
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp ground pepper
1/4 c freshly grated romano
1/4 c fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well (I used my hands and plastic gloves, because raw meat freaks me out, but your mileage may vary) then divide into four sections, then pat into patties. Brush with canola oil and grill on a medium grill.

I underseasoned these, since I didn't know how much salt the pesto and romano would add. I would definitely add a pinch of kosher salt and maybe a clove of garlic to the mix, because it seemed a little underwhelming to me. Pie seemed to like it, though, since she was willing to take home the leftovers.

Bacon-wrapped dates

12 pitted dates
6 slices bacon (I used thick-cut hickory smoked from the local butcher)
6 tooth picks

Cut bacon slices in half and wrap one half around each date, securing with a toothpick. I didn't want the toothpicks to burn, so I stuck a bacon-wrapped date on either end, resulting in a bacon-wrapped date dumbell of sorts. Place into pan and cook at 450 until bacon is crispy. Eat and declare it the best thing you've ever had in your entire life.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Menu for Wednesday, May 17

Dinner: Rainbow roll, Cucumber roll, California roll, and white tuna sashimi ( take out)

Beverages: White Rabbit Chardonnay 2004, Mondavi Moscato d'Oro 2004, and Limoncello thingies.

Dessert: Banana Cream Unpie in Nut Pie Shell

Menu for Tuesday, May 16

Beverages: Failed Melon Juice Experiment, Mojitos and Limoncello thingies.

Dinner: Cuban Black Beans with cumin-scented rice, Shrimp tacos served with low carb whole wheat tortillas, jicama, lettuce, fat free sour cream, monterey jack cheese, tomatoes and guacamole.

Dessert: South Beach Banana Cream Unpie in Nut Pie Shell.

Cuban Black Beans with Cumin-Scented Brown Rice

Cuban Black Beans

2 cans black beans, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 swirl olive oil
1/2 white onion
1 c chicken broth
1 T adobo seasoning
black pepper
1 t tomato paste
2 t red wine vinegar
1 T chipotle powder
3 drops of Tabasco sauce
1/3 c freshly chopped cilantro
Kosher salt

Sautee onion in olive oil until translucent, then add garlic, black beans, broth and tomato paste. Mash up the beans a little bit and then cook until it starts to look a little like a thin soup. Add vinegar, adobo, chipotle, a few grinds of black pepper and the Tabasco and simmer until it starts to thicken (but not as thick as refried beans). Add salt to taste, garnish with cilantro and serve over rice.

Cumin-scented Brown Rice

2 cups brown rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 t. cumin

Cook in rice steamer until brown rice is al dente.

This is one of my favorite things to make when I'm cooking for just myself (and not resorting to toast, cereal or Quorn chicken nuggets). No one ever likes it because it looks a little evil, but I love it because it reminds me of a great lunch I had in the French Quarter a few years ago. I've never been able to replicate it because I suspect those black beans were simmered for hours with a pork hock and maybe some lard, but this comes pretty close and is a fast vegetarian meal.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Shrimp tacos

1 lb shelled and veined shrimp
Freshly squeezed juice of two limes
½ cup freshly chopped cilantro
1 T Old Bay seasoning
2 T chopped garlic
1 T canola oil
3 grinds of black pepper

Remove tails from shrimp and toss with lime juice, cilantro, garlic and spices. In a very hot pan spritzed with canola oil, sautee shrimp until opaque (if using fresh raw shrimp) or until heated (if using pre-cooked shrimp).

Serve with tortilla shells, chopped lettuce, jicama (cut into matchsticks), shredded Monterey jack cheese, pineapple salsa and diced tomatoes.


2 very ripe avocados
¼ cup finely minced white onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 seeded and diced jalapeño (optional)
¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro (optional)

Peel and slice up the avocados, then smash them into a chunky paste. Stir in remaining ingredients.

On recommendation from a friend, I added a spoonful of sour cream and the juice of half a lime. Better than the original recipe by far!

Limoncello thingies

Limoncello thingies

1 oz Limoncello
Club Soda
Splash of simple syrup

Mix them up and serve over ice! Tastes like the inside of a lemonhead.

Chauffi introduced me to Limoncello a few months ago and I have to say that I really love it as a summer cocktail. Rachel Ray has quite a few recipes that use it, so I am looking forward to trying them.


½ fresh lime
8 mint leaves
1 oz white rum
1 oz simple syrup
Club Soda

Squeeze lime into glass, then cut into chunks and throw them into glass as well. Bruise the mint leaves by rubbing them a little then add mint leaves, simple syrup and rum, then stir or shake with ice in cocktail shaker. Pour into glass and add club soda for the fizzy. You might has well make enough for a pitcher because one is not enough.

Simple Syrup is just one part sugar to one part water, but you can also buy this at the grocery store, where it's usually called something like Bar Syrup or Sugar Water or something like that.

Failed melon juice experiment

According to Michael Chirrarillo, he makes this for his friends’ kids all the time, and since I had a really ripe cantaloupe all cut up and the weather was very springy, I thought we would try that instead of the standard wine. I think Michael Chirrarillo is sort of a tool, but I enjoy looking at the Napa valley shots during his show and also heckling the screen. This is the first time I’ve ever made any of his recipes and it will probably be the last.

1 super ripe cantaloupe, cut into chunks
Pinch Kosher Salt
Fresh mint (my addition)

In small batches, whir up the cantaloupe chunks in the blender. Add a pinch of salt. Try it and get freaked out by the texture. Think it might be better after it’s chilled. Chill. Remove and be disturbed by the way that it has now separated. Foist it upon your friend, who suggests that maybe it should be blended more. Blend it more. Decide that is not the problem, but rather that it is just fucking disgusting. Throw down garbage disposal and use the mint to make mojitos instead.

South Beach Banana Cream Unpie

2 packages Sugar Free Banana Cream Jell-O pudding
3 ripe bananas
Sugar-Free Cool Whip
Nut Pie Shell

Slice bananas into Nut Pie Shell, making an even layer on the bottom. Make the pudding according to the directions on the box for pie filling and then pour directly over bananas into pie shell. Chill for at least an hour and cover with Cool Whip.

So easy that you really don’t need this recipe, but I’m writing it down so that Mopie can recreate it when she gets back to California.

Nut Pie Shell

8 ounces ground pecans
1 stick butter
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp Splenda
1 pinch Kosher salt

Melt butter in a largish sauce pan over medium heat, then add cinnamon and Splenda and salt. Stir and then add ground pecans and stir. While stirring, cook until the pecans start smelling nutty and the butter is completely incorporated. Press into 9 inch pie plate and then chill. Fill with whatever you want, although I don’t know if this would work with a bake-in-the-oven kind of pie, like pumpkin or something. Maybe it would!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Menu for Wednesday, May 10

Esteban cooked the sauce, so I have no idea what he did but it was super yummy and it had a million mushrooms in it. He finished it before I had time to make a salad, because damn, that man is efficient in the kitchen. Which is totally hot.

Dinner: Esteban's mushroomy marinara sauce over angel hair pasta and sauteed sun-dried tomato and basil Italian chicken sausage.

Dessert: Cherry pie!

Wine: the biggest bottle of Reisling Spatlese that ever was, plus Mondavi Botritys Sauvignon Blanc.

Cherry Un-unPie

2 pastry crusts
1 lb Door County Tart Cherries (pitted and thawed, if they were frozen)
2 c baking superfine sugar (if cherries are unsweetened, but sometimes they already have sugar added to them)
4 T flour or corn starch
1 t almond extract
pinch of kosher salt

Place cherries in a bowl, reserving extra cherry juice in a separate container. Mix flour with the cherry juice there are no lumps, then add salt and almond extract (and sugar if using unsweetened cherries) then fold back into cherries. If you're using fresh, you can just toss the pitted cherries with flour and sugar and it will do its magic in the oven. Pour into unbaked pie shell then cover with second crust, crimp and vent, then cook at 350 until top is brown and filling is bubbly (probably about 45 minutes). Let it cool at least fifteen minutes before chomping into it. I know that it's hard but go read a book or something.

Menu for Tuesday, May 9

Salad: chopped romaine lettuce with Bouchon's house dressing

Appetizer: Steamed Edamame

Dinner: Sauteed Tilapia and Garlic broccoli with asiago.

Dessert: Fresh fruit salad (navel orange sections, kiwi, clementine sections and bananas) with a simple syrup made from reduced orange juice, Splenda and lavendar, served with Stonybrook Farms organic yogurt (Banilla flavor).

Wines: Evolution 2004 and Mondavi Cabernet Saugignon (I think) 2005

Sauteed Tilapia

1 lb fresh Tilapia fillets
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
Old Bay Seasoning
Dried Parsley (optional)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a deep heavy skillet, heat a few swirls of EVOO and a pat of butter. The oil has a low smoking point, so the butter helps raise that and also adds some awesome flavor. Don't let the oil get too hot, though, or it will start to smoke and you might as well start over if that happens, because it will overwhelm the delicate flavor of the Tilapia.

Pat the fish fillets dry and season with Old Bay Seasoning, a pinch of Kosher Salt and a few grinds of pepper. In a wide shallow bowl, dump a half cup of flour (and a few shakes of the optional parsley) and another pinch of kosher salt. Dredge fillet in flour, coating all sides and shake it off to remove the extra. Contrary to what you might think, extra flour is worse, not better, because it creates steam pockets and then falls off in the pan. Place fish carefully into hot pan. It should start to sizzle along the sides. If it doesn't, turn up the heat, but if it starts to jump and spatter, turn down the burner and remove the pan for a minute or so to let it cool down. Repeat with remaining fillets. Cook fish in small batches and don't crowd the frying pan, which will lower the temperature and result in the fish soaking up the oil.

Garlic Broccoli with Asiago

1 lb broccoli florets
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 T butter
2 c. chicken broth
4 T chopped garlic
Pinch kosher salt
Asiago cheese

Give the broccoli a quick steam in the chicken broth (it will turn bright green) and then drain. I like my broccoli very al dente, but cook it until you're happy. Turn up the burner to high, add garlic, butter and a swirl of EVOO (one turn around the pan). Sautee until the garlic turns brown (usually about three minutes) and starts to stick to the broccoli. Toss with a dash of salt and then throw in a serving bowl. Run a vegetable peeler over the wedge of Asiago to make curls on top of the broccoli. Some of these will melt, some won't, but it will all be yummy.

This is a combination of recipes from Sara Moulton and Rachel Ray and is one of those dishes that is so easy to make but it tastes so yummy that you can't believe you don't make it every night. You can substitute water for the broth and you don't even need the butter, but I like the depth of flavor that they add. It's actually pretty inexpensive too, especially if you buy the broccoli whole and cut it yourself (I don't). The only actual expensive ingredient here is the Asiago, but a little bit goes a very long way, so the total cost of this dish can't be more than $4.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Menu for Saturday, May 6

Salad: chopped romaine lettuce, goat cheese, grape tomatoes, cucumbers and Bouchon's House Dressing.

Dinner: Shrimp scampi and Jim and Pam's unrequited love.

Dessert: Vanilla cupcakes (from a box mix) frosted with Butter Cream and decorated with girly frosting daisies and pink sprinkles.

Cheese: Humboldt Fog aged goat cheese, Renard's 5-year cheddar.

Wines: Houghton Semillion Sauvignon Blanc 2005, Cheapskate Pinot Blanc 2003, Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2001, Mondavi Moscato d'Oro 2003, Umberto Fiore Moscato d'Asti 2004.

(This seems like a lot of wine, but we had visitors who brought the Ravenswood and shared several bottles with us, and well, yeah, I guess it is a lot of wine.)

Butter Cream frosting

1 cup extra-fine Baker's sugar (regular granulated is fine too)
1/2 cup water
4 egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon double vanilla (from Penzey's but I'm sure anything will do)
2 cups butter, cut up into smallish pieces

Combine sugar with water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Use a candy thermometer and bring to 235 degrees, which is the soft ball stage.

Using a mixer, whip the egg whites until they get foamy and fluffy. Slowly pour the sugar mixture down the side of the mixer bowl (you don't want to add this directly into the egg foam because it will cook it) while you continue to mix. If you don't have a stand mixer, you'll probably need an extra set of hands during this stage. Add vanilla and check temperature to make sure that it's not too hot. I usually cut up the butter at this point, so that the mixture can have time to cool down a little, otherwise the butter will just melt instead of doing it's thing, and it's sort of horrible if that happens (but not irreversible). Then, while mixing, add the butter one piece at a time to the mix. Don't add another piece until you can't see any evidence of the previous piece. Again, this is where a stand mixer comes in handy because it's usually about five minutes of solid mixing at this point. Then use or refrigerate immediately, because otherwise, I defy you to keep from eating this directly from the bowl with a spoon.

I almost never make cakes from scratch, because box mixes are usually better than homemade (sorry Martha, but they are) however, homemade frosting is de rigeur and entirely worth the effort. Butter cream is the version that all other frostings bow before.

Shrimp Scampi

2 lbs medium-sized deveined shrimp, thawed or fresh
6 T minced garlic
1/4 c olive oil
3 T melted butter
1/2 c dry white wine
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1/2 t kosher salt
a couple of grinds of black pepper
1/2 c diced red bell pepper
1/2 c roughly chopped Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 450. Combine garlic, oil, butter, white wine and red pepper flakes and whisk. (This part can be done ahead of time and stored in the fridge until you need it, which is what I usually do). Spread out the shrimp in an even layer in a roasting pan or casserole dish. It's ok to crowd them a little, because they'll shrink but don't go more than two deep. Add red bell pepper and parsley, then spoon garlic/oil mixture on top of it, plus salt and a few grinds of pepper. Give it a toss. If you're using fresh shrimp, throw into the oven until shrimp become opaque, about fifteen minutes-ish, then turn it up to broil for about 5 minutes until the liquid is sizzling and the tails are starting to get dark. If you're using the precooked kind (not optimal, but sometimes we in the Midwest must use what we have), then just pop it up to broil for five minutes or so. You'll know that it's done when your house starts to smell delicious.

You can do this on the top of the stove too, but I like everything to be sizzling and I don't want to stand there cooking if I don't have to. The big word of caution with the broiler, though: if you overcook shrimp, they turn into rubber bands. Garlicky delicious rubber bands.

Bouchon's House Dressing

1/4 c Dijon Mustard
1/2 c Red Wine Vinegar
1 1/4 c Canola Oil (I use EVOO, though)

Combine in a shaker and shake your money maker. It seems like a lot of oil, but I tried reducing it and it's just not quite right. I also threw in a few grinds of black pepper and a pinch of kosher salt, which I think Mr. Keller must be doing somewhere in the process because without it, it didn't taste quite right.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Menu for Tuesday, May 2

I spent all of yesterday in transit back home from San Francisco, and Esteban left on Monday for an extended business trip, so the house is a mess and the cupboards are bare. Pie suggested that she pick up take out on the way over, which was an awesome idea, so that's what we did. I'm only updating Eatabix to note the wines, which were awesome!

Dinner: Applebee's to Go! Pie had a salmon salad and I had a chicken stir fry.

Dessert: More sugar free Jell-O pudding. Very one note, but it's very tasty too.

Wines: Simon Creek Viognier, Simon Creek Golden Muscat, and Mondavi Reserve Moscato d'Oro, purchased in Napa on Friday and smuggled into Wisconsin by way of my suitcase. Luckily, all four bottles survived baggage check, so life is good.