Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

sweet and salty and sassy

In Food, In My Kitchen on March 5, 2011 at 10:29 am


Recently I was reading through Bryant Terry‘s cookbook,  Vegan Soul Kitchen, and was intrigued by Terry’s listing of musical pairings with each recipe. How would someone (like me) without a particularly musically influenced background (like Terry) go about pairing up tunes with food?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I tend to have my own version of musical pairings in the kitchen. When I’m wishing I was there in Louisiana or Texas, cooking gumbo or smoking brisket, I’m likely to turn on the music I love from those places. Maybe Better Than Ezra or Lucinda Williams for the gumbo, definitely Lyle Lovett for the brisket.

But I’m not always homesick in the kitchen. Sometimes the music I turn on will be about my mood. Lately it’s been G. Love, Mumford and Sons, and Ingrid Michaelson. Other times it might be about the particular dish. Like when I was baking these peanut butter pretzel brownies from Joy the Baker. I turned on another Louisiana fave, The Figs, who, like the brownies, are an excellent mix of sweet and salty and sassy (“High-Heeled Stomp” and “Guns” are particularly fun).

What about you folks? What’s the soundtrack of your kitchen? Inquiring ears want to know.

Oh, yeah, and  I know, there’s parchment paper under those brownies. Sue me.


simple beauty

In Food, In My Kitchen on March 3, 2011 at 1:51 pm


Here, just because they are so pretty that I had to stop in the middle of making lunches for the kids to take a picture of them, are these lovely boiled eggs. So simple. So beautiful.

uber comfort food

In Family, Food, friends, In My Kitchen on March 2, 2011 at 9:44 am

Not to name any names, but SOMEONE posted a pic on Facebook a few weeks ago of a the lunch he had just made up for himself — a spaghetti and meatball grilled cheese sandwich. My kids saw the picture, and having been reminded of the idea that SOMEONE ELSE (again, not naming any names) had planted in their heads months before of the same sandwich, they wanted that sandwich. And look mom, we just happen to have leftover spaghetti and meatballs in the fridge.

How convenient.

I know, I know, pasta on bread. Carbs on carbs. Crazy isn’t it? Crazy good, I say.

This is not the kind of meal one should have every day, or every week, or even every month. But oh my, what a cozy comfort on a plate.


Spaghetti and Meatball Grilled Cheese Sandwich

2 slices sandwich bread (no high fiber, 800-grain stuff here, we’re talking white bread, ’nuff said)

mayonnaise (and not Miracle Whip — what the hell is that, anyway?)

leftover spaghetti and meatballs, roughly chopped, and warmed up

one slice cheese (provolone, mozzarella, havarti all work well)


Heat a skillet over medium heat. Spread mayonnaise on one slice of bread, place bread mayo-side down in the skillet. Carefully spoon spaghetti mixture onto the bread in the skillet. Place cheese slice on top of spaghetti. Spread mayonnaise on other slice of bread. Carefully place bread on top of cheese, mayo-side up. Once bottom slice has browned nicely (peek by lifting an edge with your spatula), flip the sandwich and cook until the other side is golden brown and the cheese has melted. Serve with a healthy dose of veggies to assuage any feelings of remorse.


*Note: Some of the spaghetti will fall into the skillet, perhaps with a bit of melty cheese attached. That’s okay. That’s a cook’s treat. And if you don’t know what that means, you need to cook more.

soup worthy

In Food, In My Kitchen on February 28, 2011 at 8:36 am

Soups have eluded me most of my cooking years. I knew decent cooks could throw together a solid chicken noodle at the very least, but my efforts would come up lacking somehow. Sure, I could crank out an awesome gumbo with one hand tied behind my back, but turn that Thanksgiving turkey carcass into a delicious bowl of comfort? Oh, there were some ugly, ugly moments.


I gave up trying to make up my own concoctions and leaned heavily on recipes. If I thought a recipe looked good, I’d give it a whirl. My absolute favorite soup recipe came from Louisiana chef John Folse. It’s a gorgeous creamy soup with colorful bits of spinach and sweet potatoes and red peppers, and just enough spice to keep the cream from being too much, and LOTS of garlic that just makes me hum for the yumminess.


It’s a bit on the rich side for every day. It starts with a roux of butter (well, margarine, but I use butter) and flour and ends with A QUART of heavy whipping cream. So the other day when I had the leftovers of this roast chicken, I decided to try a lightened version of my favorite. It made for a great late winter lunch, and even the kids could not object too strenuously to the familiar ingredients. And unlike the Thanksgiving horror show of years’ past, this is a soup I can stand behind.

Creamy Colorful Chicken Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic

1 quart poultry stock (I used turkey stock)

1 1/2 cup peeled diced sweet potato

1/4 chopped roasted red pepper

2 cups chopped cooked chicken

4 cups spinach, washed and roughly chopped

1/4 cup half-and-half

1 cup cooked orzo or other small pasta

salt and black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat, saute onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add stock and sweet potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 5 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Stir in red pepper and chicken and cook until chicken is heated through, 5-10 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add half-and-half, and when ready to serve, add orzo and heat through. Season with salt and pepper.

brownie winner and king cake recipe

In Food, In My Kitchen on February 27, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Congratulations to Beccie, who is the winner of a pan of peanut-butter pretzel brownies. Thanks for playing!

Below is the king cake recipe I promised earlier. Mardi Gras is March 8 this year. Celebrate with a knock-out pastry.


Traditional Mardi Gras King Cake (recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse and Danno)

For the Brioche:

1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)

2 packages dry yeast

2 teaspoons sugar

4 to 5 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1/2 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)

1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled

5 egg yolks

1 pecan half, uncooked dried bean or King Cake Baby


For the Cream Cheese filling:

1 Cup Pecan halves, broken up slightly and roasted until fragrant

2/3 Cup Brown Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla extract

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Ground Allspice

1 pinch of salt

4 Tbsp Steen’s Cane Syrup (maple syrup is a decent substitute)

1 8-ounce block cream cheese, softened

Combine all of the ingredients together.

2 cups sifted powdered sugar

juice of 1 lemon

Purple, green and gold sugar crystals



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the warm water, yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside to a warm place for about 10 minutes. Combine the 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, nutmeg, lemon rind and add warm milk, melted butter, egg yolks and yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes, I did all mixing and kneading in my stand mixer, but it can be done by hand or in a large food processor). Place the dough in a well-greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top.

Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours). Punch the dough down and place on a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into a cylinder, about 30 inches long. Mix all filling ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Spread filling over the middle of the dough cylinder, then fold over the long edges to form a tube, pinching the edges together to form a seal. Move tube to baking sheet. Shape into a ring, pinching ends together to seal. Place a well-greased 2-pound coffee can or shortening can in the center of the ring to maintain shape during baking. Press the King Cake Baby, pecan half or dried bean into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Cover the ring with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the coffee can immediately. Allow the cake to cool. For the glaze: Combine the ingredients and beat until smooth. To assemble, drizzle cake with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar crystals, alternating colors.


fennel orange salad

In Food, In My Kitchen on February 2, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Just when January rolls around and one is stuffed to the gills with all matter of heavy holiday fare, there is this salad. Raw, fresh, in season. Fennel, naval oranges, red onion, olive oil, salt, black pepper.

This here is my favorite winter salad.

It’s so crisp and clean it can make leftover brisket shine like it just came off the grill it had been smoking on all day.

sprouts reprise

In Family, Food, In My Kitchen, On My Mind on January 26, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Leftover sprouts in a pan with a slice of bacon from breakfast, a bit of dijon mustard (thanks Steph!), and a splash of half-n-half. Even better that there was roast pork loin and curried butternut squash and lentils to go with. Yum.

As a side note, Jean-Paul (now 10 months) still eats everything, including kale at lunch today and Brussels sprouts at dinner. Wonder how long that will last.

And for another sprout shot:

lovely little sprouts

In Food, In My Kitchen on January 25, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Poor little Brussel sprouts, they get such a bad rap.

But look at these babies. How could I possibly have passed these up in the grocery store the other day? Look at that lovely purple blush on those tight little bundles of green. Gorgeous!

I love Brussel sprouts with bacon, but sometimes a great ingredient needs to just be allowed to shine on its own. A little olive oil, salt, cracked black pepper.

500 degrees, toss after a few minutes, check them after a few more minutes. This is about when the kitchen smells divine.

Serve with something else. If you must. And make your children try them before they even say the word “dessert”.

a brownie rant

In Family, Food, friends, In My Kitchen, On My Mind on January 11, 2011 at 9:01 pm

As I sit in my living room, exhausted from dealing with boatloads of children after a 12:40pm early dismissal in anticipation of snow that is just now beginning to fall at 8:30pm, I have a burning question.

Who the hell are these people who wait for a pan of brownies to be completely cool before slicing into them so they can get nice tidy lines?

I mean really. They are brownies, people.


They’re the kind of dessert that some people (not me, of course, never me) might put cannabinoid substances into. They’re not meant to be fussy. They are meant to be eaten straight out of the pan when they are just cool enough so you don’t scorch the roof of your mouth. They do not need a plate. They do not even need a napkin. Sleek straight lines? Save ’em for foo foo French pastries.

You know, you people with your straight edge brownies, whoever you are, I’m just not so sure I trust you. Are you just uptight, or are trying to hide something?

You’re probably skinny too.

Which means I really don’t trust you.

I’ll take my chocolatey gooey goodness with messy crumbly edges. You straight edge people, you just move along. Nothing to see here but a nearly empty pan of brownies.


let’s see if this will work

In Family, Food, friends, In My Kitchen, In Other Words, On My Mind, Writing on November 17, 2010 at 9:52 am

I love how my friends can ask me these simple little questions and suddenly I can think more clearly.

“Well, what do you want?” says friend.

“Hunh,” says I.

I write a list, because I’m a list maker. What do I want? What do I want to do? What do I actually want to accomplish in any given week? See, I hadn’t actually given that question much thought in the last year or so. Here’s the list.

-1-2 blog entries

-3 hours writing fiction/poetry

-8-12 hours working (for money!)

-workout 3-4 times

Not a huge list, but I have not been protecting my time to do these things I want to do. It seems doable, even with all the stuff I don’t really want to do but must do (mountains and mountains and mountains of laundry come to mind), and all the stuff I want to do and must do (cooking, loving on the babies). Ok, let’s give this a go.