Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tortilla Chip Chicken with Avocado Dip

tortilla chip chicken

I've mentioned before about my inability to stop myself from buying magazines when out shopping. It doesn't matter if I'm grocery shopping, clothing shopping, or even out for the dreaded visit to Home Depot or Lowes with my husband. So, while I was trying to amuse myself on a recent trip to Lowes (which was only supposed to be a quick drop-in, but there is no such thing as a quick trip to Lowes for my husband), I started looking through their magazines. I found a special publication of Cuisine at Home, entitled Cuisine Tonight, and of course, I had to have it because I had not bought nor received a magazine in the mail for at least 24 hours.

I was immediately smitten with the cover recipe: Tortilla Chip Chicken with Savory Slaw and Avocado Dip. It sounded so wonderfully old school, you know, like tuna casserole with potato chips on top. It was really good. As the chicken was browning, the house smelled like a Mexican restaurant, with the scent of frying tortillas. If, like me, you always have a bag of stale tortilla chips in your pantry, then this recipe is your friend. One thing is that it called for 8 oz of tortilla chips, that is a lot of ground up tortilla chips, I ended up barely using half of it. So, if you try this, you can probably use less. Also, the slaw was very tasty and the avocado dip was divine. All together it sort of tasted like a deconstructed and then reconstructed taco salad. How's that for a recipe title, Deconstructed Reconstructed Taco Salad?

As another side note, you know how some recipes have you get out your food processor and then you use it for maybe 30 seconds. You spend more time assembling and cleaning the processor than you actually spend using it. Well, not this recipe. I used it to shred the cabbage for the slaw, pulse the corn chips, and to puree the dip. The reason I am mentioning this, is so that you don't do what I did, which was to wash the food processor and put it all away before I realized that I needed it again.

Tortilla Chip Chicken with Savory Slaw
from Cuisine at Home Cuisine Tonight

1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups coleslaw mix
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

8 oz plain tortilla chips
1/2 cup purchased bottled salsa (I used a green tomatillo salsa)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, halved lengthwise, seasoned with salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375.

Whisk together mayo, lime juice, honey, salt, and cayenne pepper. Toss with the coleslaw mix, cabbage, chives and cilantro. Chill.

Using a food processor, pulse tortilla chips until coarsely ground. Place in a shallow bowl. In another dish, stir together salsa and beaten egg. Place flour in a third dish. Dredge chicken (both sides) in flour, then dip into egg mixture to coat. Place in tortilla crumbs and pat in to cover chicken.

Saute chicken in oil in an oven proof saute pan over medium high heat until golden, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip chicken, transfer pan to oven, and roast until cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Serve with dip, slaw and tomato wedges.

Avocado Dip
Makes 2 cups

1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream (I used yogurt)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Puree avocado, milk and yogurt in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth.

bookmarked recipes

This will be my entry for this week's Bookmarked Recipes , which is hosted this week by Dell at Cooking and the City because Ruth will be out of town.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Garlic Chive Mayo

Garlic Chive Mayo

This really isn't a recipe so much as it is an idea. I think that sometimes I get so hung up on a recipe that I forget that herbs can be used so easily. They can take the most simple things and elevate them to a whole new level. I was getting ready to serve some cold, leftover, grilled chicken. Now, there is nothing wrong with cold, leftover grilled chicken, but it can be kind of boring. I was trying to think of what I could do to liven it up, and I remembered my pledge to try and use my herbs more often. So, I went outside, snipped a big bunch of chives and made this mayo. It was wonderful! We ate the chicken, greedily, tearing off pieces and dunking them in this and straight into our mouths. The leftover mayo really added flavor to some lunch sandwiches the next day also! I really didn't measure anything, just kind of tasting it as I went along, so these measurements are kind of approximations.

Garlic Chive Mayo
Makes about 3/4 cup

3/4 cup of mayonnaise
1 large bunch of chives
1 clove of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Combine mayo, snipped chives and garlic in blender and puree until your mayo turns a lovely shade of pale green. I used my immersion blender. Add salt and pepper to taste.


This humble recipe will be my entry for this weeks Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by it's very own creator, Kalyn, at Kalyn's Kitchen.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Multi Talented

Okay, I would like you to take a second and go up and read the secondary header on my blog. Go ahead. I'll wait.

See where it says that there will be a litte reading, well you know, every once in a while I post a painfully embarrassing book review. Painfully embarrassing because I have not one iota of skill when it comes to writing a book review. It also mentions kniting. Well, I am on the knit-one-scarf-every-three-years plan, and I am only on year two for the current scarf, so you have one more year to wait. But see...see where it says sewing?? Guess what, I actually sewed something. I only sew in the summer, so I have this little flurry of sewing during June and July. Since I only sew two months out of the year, as you can imagine, I'm not very good. But since it's in my header and everything, I decided to share my newest project. It's a cute little top, made from some vintage fabric that I had in my stash. Oh yes, I have a ton of fabric in my stash and the rate I'm using it up, there will still be a ton of fabric in my stash when I'm long gone.

Simplicity 2936

It's Simplicity 2936. It could also be titled, the pattern so simple even Pam can do it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cold Sesame Noodles with Leftover Duck

Soba Noodles

You know, I've never stopped to think about it before, but pasta is pretty much a seasonless dish. You can eat it with smothered with a meat sauce in the dead of winter or a cool pasta salad in the hot, dog days of summer. Pasta will do whatever you want it to do, it can be Asian, Greek, Indian, whatever. It's like a best friend that is always open to suggestions. As a matter of fact, I am officially declaring pasta my best friend, sorry Susee Shaikewitz, you've been replaced by pasta. Actually, Susee was my elementary through high school, and sort of into adult life best friend, I haven't technically talked to her in a few years. So, she is probably not too broken up about the whole pasta deal.

I was paging through Nigella's Forever Summer (Style Network's) (Style Network's), when I came upon her Soba Noodles with Sesame Seeds. I've made cold sesame noodles before, but always with peanut butter. This recipe didn't include the peanut butter and sounded less fussy, and just what I was in the mood to make. I was making a duck (which in the messed up way I'm posting, you haven't actually seen yet), and it was a five-hour-duck (which I kept singing to the tune of the Gilligan's Island song, you know the three-hour-tour part). So, I wasn't in the mood for anything too fussy or figidity (when I read Nigella, I start talking like her too). I changed it up a bit, because I didn't have any scallions, so I substituted some garlic chives, which I have in abundance. Also the picture you are looking at is the next day, when I shredded some of the five-hour-duck into it, any kind of leftover poultry would do, you don't have to make a five-hour-duck. Look at how many times I remind you that I made a five-hour-duck, imagine how many times I will say it when I actually post about the five-hour-duck.

Cold Soba Noodles with Sesame Seeds (and Five-Hour-Duck)
adapted from Nigella Lawson

1/3 cup of sesame seeds
kosher salt
8 oz soba noodles
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
5 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil
handful of garlic chives
2 cups shredded cooked duck, or chicken

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over high heat until the start to look golden. Remove and put in a bowl.

Cook soba noodles in boiling, salted water as per directions on your package of noodles. When finished, plunge them in ice water to stop cooking, or do what I did and just rinse them quickly in a colander under cool water.

In a bowl that you are serving them in, mix vinegar, soy sauce, honey and oil. Slice the garlic chives and add them and the noodles and stir together thoroughly. Add the sesame seeds and toss again.

If you can, let the noodles sit for about 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. If you are using leftovers, add the shredded duck or chicken and serve.


This will be my entry for this weeks Presto Pasta Nights hosted this week by Hillary at Chew on That.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

CSA for June 23rd!


Here is my CSA for this week! It includes: cabbage, onions, basil, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Just look at those tomatoes! Aren't they gorgeous?? The cabbage is just the cutest little heads ever. They are perfect for larb, just right for little handheld bites. I don't even know where to begin, though I think I am starting with the tomatoes. Half with be a roasted tomato salsa for pork tacos (I saw it on Martha the other night, and the method of cooking the pork was so intriguing, I want to give it a try. Plus the chef that was cooking it forgot to add the roasted jalapeno peppers to the salsa, until Martha asked what they were for. And the chef was all like..oh, I forgot, oh well...and Martha was put them in..and then the chef did, but she barely pureed it, and said that it tasted fine without it. I love it when real chefs make the same mistakes I do.) The rest of the tomatoes will be something Mediterraneany with the basil. Yes Mediterraneany is a word. At least in my world.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Strawberry Jam

If you take but one bit of advice, from the countless pearls of wisdom that I toss your way, please let it be to make this jam. You must, absolutely must, make this. It takes 20 minutes, really, and the outcome is amazing. I don't know about you, but I frequently gauge my cooking by a ratio. The ratio of my effort vs. the outcome. A good recipe, in my opinion, should have an output that far outweighs my effort (or at least be well worth the effort). This recipe gives so much more than you put it in, it should be against the law.

Now, strawberry season is over with here. Pause..for a moment of silence. But I'm not too heartbroken because being the resourceful girl that I am, I have 3 bags of vacuum sealed strawberries in my freezer, waiting to be turned into something fabulous. And after making this jam, I think they shall all become more of this!


This all happens because of the miracle known as "Fruit Jell Freezer Jam Pectin." See it pictured above? The recipe is from the back of that package. It doesn't get any easier than this!

NO-COOK Freezer Jam

1. Measure 1 1/2 cups of sugar into a bowl. ADD contents of 1 pouch of Ball Fruit Jell Freezer Jam Pectin, stirring to evenly blend.

2. CRUSH fruit. ADD 4 cups crushed fruit to pectin mixture (for peaches and apricots, reduce measure to 3 1/2 cups). STIR 3 minutes.

3. LADLE freezer jam into clean freezer jars leaving 1/2 -inch headspace; apply lids. Let stand until thickened (about 30 minutes). SERVE immediately, REFRIGERATE up to three weeks or FREEZE up to 1 year.

Yield: 5 8-ounce jars (I actually ended up with six)


That's it! Really try not to hurt your wrist, while you energetically pat yourself on the back. Look at my rows of gorgeous jam! I kind of laughed when I read the part about refrigerate for three weeks. A jar of this has not lasted a week in my fridge. And this last picture is just a bit of helpful advice for you (really, there is no end to my advice, just ask my daughters). If you have one of those handy-dandy 4 cup measuring cups, and you think that you'll just go ahead and crush the fruit in it. It doesn't work. When you get to a certain point, pressing down on the fruit to mash it, requires the previously crushed fruit to move out of it's way, and the only place to go is up and out of the cup. Yes, I know it's basic science, my brain doesn't do science in the summer. This picture was taken, right when it finally dawned on me that it was not going to work! Learn from my mistakes. I make them for you, so that you don't have to. I really do.


And since strawberries are red, and red is good, and they are loaded with all kinds of antioxidants, this will be my entry for ARF/5 A Day hosted by Cate at Sweetnicks.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Buttermilk Baked Chicken

Buttermilk Baked Chicken

I love fried chicken. I adore fried chicken. I covet fried chicken. I (insert every possible praise word here) fried chicken. What I hate is the mess. Have you seen what fried chicken does to your stove??!! I know, so what's a little grease, when the output is glorious crunchy chicken. I don't care. I've blogged before on how much I love my stove. It's black and stainless, which is all cool looking until it gets a smidgen of grease on it. I mean every little drop shows on this stove. So, anyway, no fried chicken is being made on this stove, I don't care if I am in the south.

I've seen several recipes for baked chicken, and truth be told, I wasn't really expecting much from a baked instead of fried chicken recipe. So, when I saw the recipe for Buttermilk Baked Chicken in Everyday Food: Great Food Fast, it sounded (and looked) good. Are you people sick yet of me talking about this book? I know, you'd think Martha was giving me a commission, but she's not, it's just pure, unadulterated cookbook love. The recipe can also be found online.

Buttermilk Baked Chicken
From Everyday Food
Serves 4

Vegetable oil, for baking sheet
8 slices white bread
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (2 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 pounds chicken parts (preferably legs, thighs, and wings), rinsed and patted dry

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously rub a baking sheet with oil (I baked mine on parchment paper). In a food processor, pulse the bread until it turns into coarse crumbs.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the buttermilk, hot-pepper sauce, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a separate bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, thyme, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

3. Place the chicken in the buttermilk mixture, turning to coat evenly. Working with one piece at a time, remove chicken from liquid, letting excess drip back into bowl; dredge in the breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat evenly. Place coated chicken pieces on prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake until chicken is golden brown, about 35 minutes.

Crisping the Chicken: Leave enough space between the chicken pieces so that they crisp evenly all the way around.

This was really good. It wasn't fried chicken, but it had the essence of fried chicken. There was the contrast of the crispy coating and the soft, chewy and very moist chicken inside. This is definitely a repeater. This was really quick to come together, perfect for a weeknight. When ever my bread starts to get stale, I either cube it, or process it into bread crumbs, both of which are stored in the freezer. So, I always have a bag of bread crumbs in my freezer, making this even easier.


Since I've had this recipe bookmarked forever, it is perfect for my entry for Bookmarked Recipes, hosted by Ruth at Ruth's Kitchen Experiments.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing

Chicken with Basil Sauce

Year-round I buy cilantro and parsley from the grocery store almost every week, but the herb that means summer to me, is basil. Since it's too expensive to buy in those little plastic packages at the grocery store, I grow it easily in my herb garden, and eat it with wild abandon all summer long, freezing it when there is too much for even me to handle! The beauty of basil and many other fresh herbs is that the more you cut them and use them, the more they grow! So, I needed to cut and use some basil. Hey, it's a hard job, but someones got to do it. I had recipe marked in Giada's Family Dinners, called Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing, which you can also find online here.

Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing
From Giada's Family Dinners

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1 large clove garlic
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Whisk 1/3 cup of oil, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, fennel seeds, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a heavy-duty re-sealable plastic bag. Add the chicken and seal the bag. Massage the marinade into the chicken. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day, turning the chicken occasionally.
Meanwhile, blend the basil, garlic, lemon zest, remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a blender until smooth. Gradually blend in the remaining 1/3 cup oil. Season the basil sauce, to taste, with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Prepare the barbecue for medium-high heat or preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the chicken until just cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to plates. Drizzle the basil sauce over and serve.

This was a wonderful summer recipe! Everyone commented on the basil dressing, which was so easy, and would be good on just about anything! It would be great spooned over fish, or stirred into a pasta. I don't really know how much the marinade flavored the chicken. For one thing, my fennel seeds are around five years old! About five years ago, I went kind of crazy ordering spices from Penzey's. It's an amazing place, you can big bags of spices for the same price as you pay for a tiny jar at the store. The problem is that I use fennel seeds maybe three times a year! So, I have this huge bag of them, and it seems like such a waste to throw it out. But I know I need to. I need to order smaller, more usable sizes. That's also one of my goals for this summer....throw out old spices! But anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I can't realistically judge the marinade, but the sauce, definitely a keeper! I served it with a favorite grilled zucchini recipe (also from this book), which I blogged previously about here.

Bread Salad

Thinking ahead, I grilled 2 extra chicken breasts so that I could have something for leftovers the next day. There was still quite a bit of sauce left (since I was a bit stingy with it). I made my favorite leftover dish - bread salad. I diced the chicken breast, diced the leftover zucchini, added 2 diced tomatoes, and 3 cups of cubed, stale bread, which I toasted. I tossed that with the basil dressing! Yummy! Really, is there anything that can't be made into a bread salad!


This will be my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Joanna at Joanna's Food.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pasta with Broccoli, Chickpeas, and Garlic

Pasta with Broccoli

If you are looking for a quick, yet satisfying, weeknight pasta dinner, this is for you. It's not the most amazing pasta dish ever, but it really is so simple and it's a wonderful springboard for other ideas. The recipe can easily be made from ingredients in your pantry or freezer. The original recipe calls for whole wheat pasta, but I used regular this time. It also calls for frozen broccoli, but I still had some lovely broccoli from last week's CSA shipment. Which brings me to another point, sometimes I don't get all of my vegetables used up in one week, so it might be almost 10 days before I get to them (and, ahem, it's even been 2 weeks on some). But the thing is, they still taste fresher than what I get fresh at the grocery store! Seriously! This broccoli had been in my fridge for a week and a half, and it was way more crisp and fresh than any other broccoli that I've ever had!! I've never stopped to think how long it took for the fruit and vegetables to get to Tennessee from California, or the apples that come from New Zealand, or the berries from Chile.

So back to the recipe. The original recipe can be found here at Epicurious. I made slight modifications.

Pasta with Broccoli, Chickpeas, and Garlic
Serves 4

6 garlic cloves, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
1 bunch of broccoli, stems thinly slice, florets separated
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 lb pasta (of your choice)
Accompaniments: finely grated parmesan; lemon wedges (optional)

Cook garlic and red pepper flakes in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Add broccoli and salt and saute until crisp tender, about 5 minutes. If you'd like your broccoli more tender (I like mine really crisp), you can add a few tablespoons of chicken stock, cover and steam for about 3 more minutes. Stir in chickpeas and cook until heated through.

Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente.

Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander. Add pasta and reserved cooking water to broccoli and chickpeas in skillet and cook over moderate heat, tossing, until combined well. Serve drizzled with additional olive oil, fresh parmesan cheese and a lemon wedge.


This will be my entry for this week's Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by it's creator, Ruth at Once Upon a Feast.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

CSA for June 16th!


Just look at these gorgeous vegetables for this week. They include: swiss chard, 2 kinds of basil, some sweet vidalia-like onions, cauliflower, heirloom tomatoes, and the cutest baby zucchini ever! I've read that the baby zucchini is really sweet, so I'm thinking I'll barely cook it. Any ideas on how to use it?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Quinoa Salad with Apples and Cranberries

Quinoa Salad

When I first saw the ARF/5-A-Day event hosted by Cate at Sweetnicks, I knew that I wanted to participate. Everywhere I look on the internet, in magazines, or on TV, there is something about Antioxidant Rich Foods. In simplest terms (and I'm all about simple), antioxidants help our bodies fight disease and aging. Hey, we have to eat, might as well keep healthy in the process, right?? I've been trying to find a definitive list of the top antioxidant foods, but it seems to vary from doctor to doctor, article to article, story to story. What they all agree on is that they should include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes. Duh! So, I have been trying to replace my processed grains and flours with whole grains (though I can't give up my white sourdough bread, I just can't, don't ask me to). One of the grains I wanted to try was quinoa. While quinoa is considered a grain, it is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and swiss chard. I cooked the quinoa in the rice cooker, because I pretty much cook all my grains in my rice cooker. I love my rice cooker!

I found this recipe from Eating Well for a Wheat Berry Salad with Red Fruits, it sounded good. The wheat berries required soaking overnight, and the quinoa didn't so I decided to try substituting the quinoa instead. This has become my families favorite side dish. I'm going to try making it with some other grains, like spelt, or even brown rice. It's really wonderful. It's great for leftovers. And with apples and dried cranberries, it can be eaten year round. I plan on making it during the school year and taking it in for lunch. I served this with some grilled quail, which aren't nearly as pretty as Peter's.

Quinoa Salad with Apples and Cranberries
Serves 6

1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 cups quinoa (or other grain)
1 large Fuji apple, unpeeled, diced
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted, and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Combine orange juice and cranberries in a small bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Combine quinoa (or whatever grain you are using), apple and pecans in a large bowl; stir gently. Drain the cranberries, reserving the juice. Stir the cranberries into the wheat berry mixture.

Whisk the reserved orange juice, vinegar and oil in a small bowl until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and stir gently to coat.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.


Since this is loaded with antioxidants: apples, pecans, dried cranberries, orange juice and quinoa, this will be my entry this week for ARF/5-A-Day hosted by Cate at Sweetnicks.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pain De Maison Sur Poolish


I have no idea what the title of this recipe (the title of this post) means. It's bread and it's made with a poolish. I think Pain means bread and a poolish is a liquidy French bread dough starter. That is the extent of my knowledge, anyone who speaks French, please feel free to comment and educate me.

What I do know, is that I love this bread. It bakes up so light and airy, with a slightly chewy crust and a hint of sourness. The bread takes two days to make, but it's hardly any work, or at least hardly any work for me, the bread machine did it all for me. The night before you add water, flour, and yeast to the bread pan. You're actually supposed to let the bread machine knead it for 10 minutes and then stop the machine. I didn't feel like setting a timer and figuring out how to program my machine, so I just let it run through the entire dough cycle and then turned it off and let it sit in the machine overnight. Then the next day, add the dough ingredients, and set the machine for the dough cycle. When the cycle completes, remove the dough, shape and let rise. I use a stoneware baking pan, which is great because it holds the dough as it rises, and then when you bake in it, it's like the bread has it's own little oven.

Since it was so nice and warm outside, I placed the bread out on my back porch to rise. Smudge helped by guarding it for me. You can see that it was exhausting work! Also, I've taken some pictures so you can see how the bread rises in the pan.

Smudge Helping

Ready to Rise


This recipe came from my favorite bread machine cookbook, The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook. This book has 300 bread machine recipe! I have lots of them bookmarked to try, so I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity for me to enter Bookmarked Recipes, hosted by Ruth at Ruth's Kitchen Experiments. I have modified the techniques of the recipe, but the ingredient list is the same.


Pain De Maison Sur Poolish
Slightly modified from The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook
by Beth Hensperger

1 cup water
1 1/4 cups organic bread flour
1/4 teaspoon bread machine yeast

1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
2 cups organic bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon gluten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

To make the poolish starter, place the water, flour, and yeast in the bread pan. Program for the dough cycle. When complete, unplug machine and let the starter sit in the pan over night.

To make the dough, combine the water and the yeast and stir to dissolve. Add to the starter in the pan. Add the flour, sugar, gluten, and salt. Program the machine for the dough cycle.

When the cycle ends, remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and shape. Place in stoneware baker and let rise in warm location for 45 minutes to one hour, or until almost doubled. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 35 minutes, remove lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Lemon and Rosemary Roast Fish

Roasted Fish

I have deemed summer 2008 the summer of my herbs. It was going to be the summer of my garage, in that I was going to clean out the garage and actually try and fit a car in it. There are two things wrong with the summer of my garage. One..I have a lot of stuff. I used to sell on Ebay and was physically incapable of passing up a good bargain at an estate sale or garage sale. After I went back to teaching, the stuff made it's way into the garage. I have eight chandeliers hanging in my garage! I'm not going to even tell you how many lamps I have. Apparently I am overly attracted to lighting fixtures. And second...spiders. They lie in wait for me under things and behind things, then when I move the item, they make a kamikaze run towards me. I swear they are trying to commit suicide because they think I will kill them, how else to explain the mad dash towards me. It's suicide by human. Only, I show them. I don't kill them, I run in the opposite direction, up the stairs to the first floor, and on up the stairs to the second floor, where I collapse panting on my bed and decide to read another chapter in my book. So, see, the summer of my garage, is not working. My herb bed on the other hand is gorgeous. It is simply bursting with herbs, and I have decided to try and use fresh herbs everyday. And because I am geeky and must give everything a title, this is the summer of my herbs.

Tonight's dinner was so ridiculously simple. Really, my whole intro paragraph was more complicated than these recipes. But I am really starting to try to cook simply, just a few ingredients with some fresh herbs. The fish uses a lemon, oil and rosemary marinade. Then for the couscous, I used some of my fresh thyme. Wonderfully easy and fresh tasting.

Lemon and Rosemary Roasted Fish
serves 4

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

1 pound tilapia

I mixed marinade ingredients and let the fish marinate in it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. While it was marinating, I preheated the oven to 400. Placed the fish on a parchment lined cookie sheet (made sure some rosemary leaves stayed on top), and roasted it for 10 minutes. That's it!

Thyme Scented Couscous
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
2-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 cup of couscous

Pour chicken broth into a saucepan and add fresh thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil. Add couscous, cover, and turn off heat. After 5 minutes remove thyme sprigs, and fluff with a fork.

Look at me...two herbs for the price of one! I hope this makes up for last week's Weekend Herb Blogging, where I had to cheat and chop up a little parsley into my dish. This week is being hosted by Astrid of Paulchen's FoodBlog.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is This Happening to Anyone Else?

My new hobby, apparently, is going to the store, getting something, paying for it, getting home and finding it not in the bag.

A couple of weeks ago, I went shopping at World Market. The place where I like to go to buy things that I don't really need, but really can't resist. One of the things I picked up was two teacups. These were a nice largish size, with a ceramic diffuser and a lid. Sort of like your own little mini teapot. I didn't pay attention as I was paying, I was busy pushing buttons on the credit card machine, so when the cashier handed me two bags, I just took them, thanked her and left. I went straight home and started to unpack my goodies. No teacups! I only had 2 bags and they weren't full, they could have easily held the teacups. One bag, ironically, contained only a tin of loose tea. You know, tea to have in my cute new teacups. I called the store, because it had only been about 20 minutes, and explained the situation to girl on the phone. She went up the cash register to check, came back, and said, "sorry, there was nothing at the register." I told her that I had just been in there, I had my receipt, I had paid for the teacups. Again, "sorry."

Then about a week later, I'm shopping at my local natural foods store. I make an impulse buy of some roll-on perfume made from some essential oils. It was on sale. It was cute. It would fit in my purse. It would make me smell good. Alas, I get home, no perfume. This I can kind of accept because it was really small, and I can see how it might get overlooked while bagging.

And then yesterday. I'm shopping again at the same local natural foods store. It's a Wednesday morning, eleven a.m., it's not crowded. As a matter of fact, it's so slow that two people bag my groceries. Since this is a natural foods store and everything is organic and expensive, I don't even have that much stuff. Three bags. After I get home and start putting stuff away, I realize that I am missing a box of tea. A box of organic, green tea, complete with Ginko Biloba. Not cheap. I look at the receipt. Yes, I paid for it. No, it's not in my bags. Really two people bagging and they can't see a box of tea.

I don't know what the moral of this story is. Is this how stores recoup the money they lose from shoplifting? Am I just unobservant and irresponsible? Does someone really, reallly, really not want me to have any tea?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pappardelle with Arugula and Bacon


I love arugula (which is known as rocket in some areas outside the US). It is kind of peppery and really adds a good kick to whatever you put it in. I am always searching for ways to use it, besides just as a salad green. When I saw this recipe from Cooking Light, I thought that it sounded good. I used it as a base, and made some of my own modifications. I didn't have any cherry tomatoes, but I did have a jar of roasted red peppers (thanks to my too-frequent trips to the gourmet food section of Marshall's). It sounded like a good substitution, I mean they're both red, right? I also had some bacon in my fridge. I had bought some uncured bacon from the grocery store and really needed to try it. I needed to.

This was wonderful. The bacon was fantastic. It tasted like the bacon of my youth. Hey, what a great name for a rock band "The Bacon Of My Youth." I'm not sure what made it taste soooo good, whether it was the fact that it was uncured, or that the pigs were "certified humanely treated." They were allowed to do whatever pigs are allowed to do, and they weren't feed antibiotics or hormones. Whatever, it was really, really good. Though, I have to admit, I've never met a slice of bacon that I didn't fall in love with.

Pappardelle with Arugula and Bacon
Serves 4

9 oz uncooked pappardelle
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (maybe)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
3 or 4 roasted red peppers, diced
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled (or more, how ever much you feel is necessary)
juice from 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
5 cups arugula, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh shaved parmesan

Cook pasta in boiling, salted water. Drain.

While pasta cooks, brown bacon in skillet. Remove and let drain on paper towels. Pour off as much of the fat as you'd like. Add olive to skillet, if you wanted to use it instead of the tasty bacon fat (I'll let you figure out which I used). Add red pepper flakes and garlic, cook for about 1 minute and add roasted red peppers. Cook for about 1 more minute, turn off heat, add lemon juice, arugula, and cooked pasta. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with fresh shaved parmesan cheese on top.


This will be my entry for this weeks Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by the ever fabulous Kevin of Closet Cooking.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

CSA for this week!

CSA for June 9th

Mondays at 6:00pm are the best time of the week for me. It is then that my husband comes through the door carrying the CSA veggies for the week. As I was oohing and aahing over this weeks, he said, "it's like Christmas for you, isn't it?" It really is. If you have the opportunity to join a CSA (community supported agriculture) in your area, I really encourage you to. This is my first year with Rise N' Shine, out of Georgia, and I am in love. Really, look at all that gorgeous produce! This week: broccoli, zucchini and yellow squash, purple cherokee tomatoes, onions, swiss chard, beets, onions, purple cabbage, and the last of the strawberries.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Crisp Goat Cheese Salad

goat cheese salad

I love cheese. Melted. Fried. Baked. Room temperature. Cold. Any and all cheese is good. I even love those frozen fried mozzarella sticks that you bake in the oven and serve with a marina sauce. I've seen pictures of crispy goat cheese salads, and have wanted to try one for ages, but somehow, some other recipe kept moving to the front. Well, while paging through Everyday Food: Great Food Fast, I saw again the recipe for Crisp Goat Cheese Salad . The gorgeous picture suckered me in, that and the promise of warm, melty goat cheese. The time had come.

Goat Cheese Salad

Oh my, the time should have come a long, long time ago. How have I lived without this wonderfully simple, and elegant salad in my life? Yes, it was elegant. I felt like I was sitting at an outdoor bistro in Paris. I've never actually been to Paris, or a bistro, but this is what I imagine I would eat. It's light, quick, pretty to look at, and tastes good. It makes a perfect light dinner in the summer. The picture in the books shows the goat cheese flattened out, and the instructions tell you to. But my cheese started to crumble and I didn't want it to fall apart, so I left it in it's original log size. I did put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes to make slicing easier.

Crisp Goat Cheese Salad
Serves 4

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for baking sheet
3 large red potatoes (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large egg
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
12 ounces fresh goat cheese (I used 9 because that's what size mine was)
8 ounces mixed salad greens, or mesclun mix


Preheat broiler. Brush a baking sheet with oil; set side. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil; simmer until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. Cut into 1-inch chunks, and place in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon each, salt and pepper. Slowly add 1/4 cup oil, whisking to emulsify. Pour dressing over potatoes, toss to combine and set aside.

In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place the breadcrumbs in a second shallow bowl. Slice the cheese into 8 rounds, and pat each into a disk about 1/2-inch-thick. Cover with wax paper to prevent sticking. Using two forks, dip disks first in egg, and then in the breadcrumbs, coating evenly. Place on prepared baking sheet. (I just used my hands for this, I think using forks would have been tricky.)

Brush disks lightly with the remaining 1/4 cup oil, and broil until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. (Mine took only about 3 minutes, before they started getting really brown, next time I will set my broiler on low instead of high.)

Toss the lettuce with the dressed potatoes. To serve, spoon salads onto plates, and top each with cheese disks.


This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging. I know. It has no herbs in it. But I chopped a little fresh parsley into the salad. So there. This weeks Weekend Herb Blogging is being hosted by Maninas of Maninas: Food Matters, who, by the way, has the most gorgeous well-behaved mint that I have ever seen!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Spicy Shrimp and Bok Choy Noodle Bowl

Shrimp noodle bowl

I have over a hundred cookbooks, yet I spend half my time searching the internet for recipes! When I received bok choy in my CSA last week, I knew I wanted to try something different, yet I couldn't remember which cookbooks contained the recipes that I wanted to try. So, I went to The Food Network and did a search for bok choy and found this Rachael Ray recipe. I love eating the big bowls of noodles that I can get at a local Vietnamese restaurant. As a matter of fact, I have been searching high and low for a nice set of big bowls to serve these main dish noodles in, but I can't find any. If any of you have any leads, please leave me a comment.

Veggies for shrimp bowl

So, I was excited to see a big noodle bowl recipe that I had all of the ingredients for! Ahhh...the benefits of a well stocked pantry and fridge. Well, my mushrooms weren't shitake, I think they were cremini or maybe button, but, whatever. Also, I didn't have any clam juice or seafood stock, so after I peeled the shrimp, I simmered the shells in one and a half cups of chicken stock for about 20 minutes. This dish was really quick and easy and perfect for a weeknight dinner. It was really good and spicy, the only thing though was that I thought it needed a little acid (see I have learned something from watching "Top Chef", half of what they make always needs a little acid). I'm not sure exactly what I'm talking about, but maybe some fresh lime juice. What do you think?

Spicy Shrimp and Bok Choy Noodle Bowl
Serves 4

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, 3 turns of the pan
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 inches ginger root, peeled and cut into very thin matchsticks or grated
1/2 pound shiitake mushroom caps, sliced, a couple of cups
1 medium bok choy, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces, then cut sticks lengthwise
Salt and pepper
1 quart chicken broth
1 cup seafood stock, available on soup aisle or, 1 cup clam juice
1 1/2 pounds medium peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 pound vermicelli (thin spaghetti)
4 scallions, cut into 3 inch pieces, then shredded lengthwise into thin sticks

Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil, 3 turns of the pan, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, and bok choy, then season with salt and pepper. Add chicken broth and seafood stock or clam juice. Put a lid on the pot and bring soup to a boil.

Add shrimp and noodles and cook 3 minutes. Add in scallions and cook 2 minutes, then turn off soup and let it sit 2 to 3 minutes more. Adjust salt and serve.

Pasta presto night

This will be my entry for Pasta Presto Night at Once Upon a Feast.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Kohlrabi Slaw with Asian Style Pork Chops


I love the CSA that I joined this year. It's only June and I've had more variety than all of last year. I have to admit though, that last year was a bad year for produce in southeast Tennessee. First we had the late (and long) freezing weather in April and that was followed by a drought, plus it was the first year for the CSA. Not a good year to try and get a CSA off the ground. So, anyway, this year we joined one that has been established for a while Rise N' Shine organic farm out of Calhoun Georgia.

This weeks pick-up contained kohlrabi. Aren't they pretty? I had no idea what these were, having never even seen them before. After searching the net for a while, I concluded that a cold slaw was probably the way to go. Especially since there was a gorgeous bunch of fresh radishes also included. For even more color, I added some shredded carrots. I have no idea of measurements here, it was two kohlrabi, a bunch of radishes and 3 carrots. I made a sort of pickling solution out of 1 1/2 cups water, 3/4 cups white vinegar, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt from
Quick & Easy Vietnamese: 75 Everyday Recipes (Quick & Easy). It was very good. The kohlrabi sort of has a radish like flavor.

Pork Chop with Slaw

Like a lot of other people, I have started trying to buy more organic and humanely treated meats and poultry. I decided to try the pork chops, which came from a local farm. Yes, they were more expensive than the pork chops you pick up at the grocery store, but they were amazing. They were unbelievably juicy and moist and the flavor was fantastic. No, we won't have these as often as we could if we were buying the mass produced pork, but we will enjoy them more when we do have them. I saw the picture of these gorgeous chops on Everyday Food. I used the marinade ingredients and marinated them for an hour in the fridge, let them come to room temperature for 20 minutes and then grilled them over medium high heat for 5 minutes per side.

Pork Chop

Asian-Style Marinade
(makes enough for 4 pork chops)

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Scrappycat Enjoying the Back Porch


One of my favorite things to do over the summer is sit on my back porch and look through my stack of cooking magazines and cookbooks. Scrappycat likes the slower pace of summer, too.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Flourless Chocolate Cake

flourless chocolate cake

A few weeks ago I mentioned that my daughter Kate, made me a flourless chocolate cake for my birthday. She has made this cake for me before and it is one of my favorites. I think it is the best homemade chocolate dessert ever! It really restaurant quality. It's so rich you only need a small slice and served with a nice cup of strong coffee it's absolute heaven! She uses the recipe from Cook's Illustrated The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition with 1,000 Recipes. I was going to post the recipe here, but it is pretty long. It's not that it's all that complicated, it's just that Cook's Illustrated is very thorough! I looked on the internet to find one similar, but there are a lot of flourless chocolate cake recipes, and none of them match Cook's Illustrated. The Cook's Illustrated contained only 4 ingredients: 8 eggs, 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, 1/2 pound butter, and 1/4 cup coffee. That's it. Those four ingredients go together and form magic. If you have the cookbook and you've never tried it, I urge you to give it a try.