Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lauren's Kitchen has moved!

I finally got my new site up, so take a look and let me know what you think!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Risotto Torte with Broccoli, Spinach, and Sweet Italian Sausage

After having quite the fun time (NOT) trying to update my blog while my laptop was out of commission, I decided to shelve it until I could get things running again. I'm happy to say that as of today, March 12th, 2009 @ 3:15 pm CST, I have my laptop back up and running again!

I had quite a few leftover vegetables and I was looking for a delicious way to use them. I stumbled across a recipe for a Risotto Torte online, and decided to add in some vegetables for me, and some protein for my husband in the form of italian sausage. You can use mild or sweet, but I just happened to have sweet italian sausage on hand. The result is a light, fluffy risotto, with many satisfying flavours.

Risotto is one of those dishes you can cook whichever way is more comfortable to you. The intensely laborious constant stirring while gradually adding stock method, of which, I'm a big believer, and the make certain your measurements are right on and just let it sit with occasional stirs, of which, I'm not a big believer as I'm terrified I'll burn the bottom. So, I wrote this dish for those of you who are not paranoid, but me, I'm a gradual stock adder. :)
  • 4 oz. broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 4 oz. spinach
  • 4 oz. sweet italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 C dry white wine
  • 1/2 and onion, chopped
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 1/2 cups stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 oz. Parmesan, coarsely grated
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • oil for greasing
  • chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
  • 1 1/4 cups Arborio rice


Blanch the broccoli and spinach for 4 minutes, then drain and reserve.

Brown the sweet italian sausage in a skillet. Drain the grease and set on a paper towel to absorb any additional grease/

In a large saucepan, gently fry the onion, garlic and pepper in the oil and butter for 5 minutes until they are soft.

Stir the rice, cook for a minute then pour in the wine. Cook, stirring the mixture until the liquid is absorbed.

Pour in the stock, season well, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until risotto is tender, stirring occasionally.

While that is simmering, grease a 10 in. round deep cake pan and then line the base with a disc of waxed paper. Preheat the oven to 350.

Stir the cheese into the rice, allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes, then beat in the egg yolks.

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and carefully fold into the rice. Add the spinach, broccoli, and sausage. Turn into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour until risen, golden brown and slightly wobbly in the center.

Allow the torte to cool in the pan, then chill if serving cold. Run a knife around pan and shake out onto serving plate.
Garnish, if desired.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Crab Salsa

My parents are in town this weekend, and my Father has this wonderful, light recipe with crab, cilantro, lime, olive oil, and peppers! It's got just the right amount of spice!
  • 2 shallots, chopped finely
  • 1 lb. lumb crab meat, shredded
  • 1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped
  • 2 big handfuls of cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 a red or orange bell pepper, chopped finely
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, season to taste.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Honey, Orange, and Sriracha Glazed Chicken Thighs

There are days when I come home from work, and I have absolutely no idea what to make. I had some chicken thighs defrosted, and a hankering for something sweet and spicy, and I thought honey and Sriracha would be a really nice mix.

Feel free to play with the flavours. I wrote the recipe to be fairly mild, but ended up adding another 1/2 tbsp to the sauce mix, which made the sauce itself pretty spicy, but the finished chicken was delicious and juicy with a slight hint of spice.


  • 4 skin on, bone in chicken thighs
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp sriracha sauce
  • 4 tbsp cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Liberally season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and set aside in an oven safe baking dish.

In a separate bowl, combine the honey, sriracha, orange juice, olive oil, and picked thyme leaves and stir until thoroughly mixed. Arrange the chicken thighs in the dish and spoon 1/2 of the mixture on top of the chicken thighs.

Bake for 25 minutes, and remove from the oven. Spoon the remaining honey sriracha sauce over the thighs and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the juices run clear.

Serve with rice and a lovely salad.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Creamy Oven Baked Macaroni and Cheese

If you're like me, Macaroni and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food. A boxed childhood lunch, this creamy made-from-scratch recipe will prompt you to toss out every box of Kraft Mac and Cheese you have in your pantry!

  • 1 8oz. box of elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar and Mozzarella
  • 3 tablespoons Ricotta


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare macaroni by directions on box and drain well.

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to remove lumps.

Slowly pour in milk and cook, while whisking, until thickened. Pour in heavy cream slowly.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add cheeses and stir until melted.

Add macaroni and stir.

Pour mixture into 2 qt. casserole dish.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Braised Hoisin Short Ribs

First and foremost, I LOVE braised meat. When it's so tender it falls off the bone, you know it's the most tremendous comfort food. This recipe, by David Leiberman in Dave's Dinners, is a fantastic way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon, prep is only a few minutes for the ribs, and you can work on the sides within the last 30 minutes of the main's cook time.


For the ribs:

  • 3 pounds beef short ribs, about 10 ribs
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 10 to 12 garlic cloves smashed
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 12 ounces good ale (recommended: Bass)
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup hoisin sauce


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Season the ribs generously with salt and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy pot with a lid (Dutch oven) over high heat. Brown the ribs on all sides, in batches if necessary. Remove the ribs and pour off all but a couple tablespoons of the rendered fat.

Return the pot to the stove, lower the heat to medium and saute the garlic and ginger for about 3 minutes. Add the ribs back to the pot. Add the beer and the vinegar. Stir and then cover and bake for 2 hours.

Remove the pot from the oven. Pour the hoisin sauce over the ribs, return the pot to the oven, and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Remove ribs and ginger from sauce. Strain fat from the top of the pot so that you're left with just the good stuff.

Serve with Creamy Mashed Yukons and Sesame Snow Peas.

Sesame Snow Peas

Sesame Snow Peas:

  • 1 pound snow peas

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds

  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar

  • Salt and pepper

Rinse the peas and trim off the ends.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the oils and heat.

Add snow peas and saute until bright green, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and toss.

Creamy Mashed Yukons

Creamy Mashed Yukons:

  • 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled

  • 1/2 stick butter, melted

  • 1 cup half-and-half

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 bunch chives, chopped

Boil potatoes until fork tender.

Heat the butter and half-and-half over medium heat until hot, but not boiling.

Drain the potatoes, return them to the pot and mash with a hand masher.

Add hot liquid to potatoes and whip with an electric hand mixer until smooth.

Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Add chives and mix before serving.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lasagna Bolognese

Weston and I had a lovely trip throughout Italy last year for our 2nd anniversary, from Rome to Positano, from Monte San Savino to Florence, from Pisa to Maranello. The focus was heavily on food, and nowhere did we find better food than in tiny walled towns in Tuscany.

Our trip was a huge eye opener for me, especially when it came to Lasagna. My Mother's recipe for lasagna included cottage cheese and loads of Mozzarella, so I had always made it with cottage cheese and loads of Mozzarella. But, then I discovered what Lasagna in Tuscany really is like. It's not as heavy and cheese laden, the pasta is always best when it's fresh, and there wasn't a trace of cottage cheese anywhere, just a lovely nutmeg flavoured Béchamel (Besciamella) sauce.

Since we had a new pasta machine, I decided to try and recreate what we ate in Italy, and Mario Batali's recipe for Lasagna Bolognese was my guide through the whole process. I plan to add this to our repertoire more often. There's nothing like a delicious lasagna to make you feel comforted!


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 pound veal, ground
  • 1 pound pork, ground
  • 4 ounces pancetta, ground
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


  • 3/4 to 1 pound fresh pasta sheets, about 7 by 4 inches, or dried lasagne noodles blanched for 6 minutes and refreshed
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Oil for brushing

Cooking Instructions:


In a large heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the olive oil.

Add the diced onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, and sweat over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until vegetables are translucent.

Add veal, pork, and pancetta to the vegetables, and brown over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together.

Add the tomato paste, milk, wine, thyme, and 1 cup water, and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 11/2 hours (if the ragù becomes too thick, add a little more water or wine).

Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.


Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, add the flour, and whisk until smooth.

Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the mixture turns golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until it is just about to boil. Add the milk to the butter mixture, 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until the sauce is very smooth.

Bring to a boil and cook for 30 seconds longer. Remove from the heat and season with salt and nutmeg.

Assembly: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with melted butter or oil, and layer in the following order from the bottom: ragù, pasta, béchamel, and grated cheese (saving about 1 cup béchamel for last topping), making 3 to 4 layers of pasta, finishing with ragù, béchamel, and 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano sprinkled over the top. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the casserole is bubbling. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 20 minutes, slice, and serve.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sage Rubbed Pork Chops With Warm Apple Slaw

If there's anything I love more than pork chops, it's pork chops paired with apples or sage. I came across this recipe by Elie Krieger, and adapted it just a bit to work with what I had. I cut the time down on this recipe by very coarsely grating the apples and carrots, but if you have the time, julienned vegetables would be most appropriate in this dish. I also loved the rice vinegar, so feel free to go a little liberal with the amounts.

  • 6 tsp chopped fresh sage
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp salt, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (3/4-inch) bone-in pork loin chops (about 8 ounces each)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, cut in 1/2, cored
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, cored
  • 3 large carrots
  • 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth


Combine the sage, garlic, 1 tsp of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Rub this mixture all over the pork chops and let the chops sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the onion, apple and cabbage and julienne the carrots (very thin sticks).

Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large nonstick frying pan until hot but not smoking. Add the chops and brown on both sides, 2 or 3 minutes per side. Remove.

Carefully wipe out the pan. Heat the remaining tsp oil over moderate heat and add the onion, apples and remaining tsp fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is soft and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, carrots, vinegar and tsp salt and continue cooking until the cabbage and carrots begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and return the pork chops to the pan burying them in the vegetable mixture. Cover and cook just until the pork chops are just slightly blush in the center, 5 to 7 minutes longer.

To serve, arrange the warm slaw on individual plates and top with a pork chop and pan juices.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fresh Pepperdalle with Broccoli and Cheese Sauce

My husband, Weston, is the dough maker in our household - bread, pie crust, cookies. In a recent episode of Jamie At Home, Jamie made this delicious dish with fresh pasta and sprouting broccoli.

As we'd just received a pasta roller for Christmas, he decided to try his hand at making some Pepperdalle. He originally intended to make tagliette, but later realized the pasta was too thick, and thus it was dubbed Pepperdalle. :)

Either way, it was fresh and delicious and every bit as nice as the fresh pasta we'd had in Tuscany in March of last year. I don't think we'll ever buy boxed pasta again!

Now, how do we get rid of the 5 lb. of spaghetti we bought from Costco a few months ago?


For the pasta:
  • 4 large free-range or organic eggs
  • 2 cups pasta flour, plus extra for dusting
  • Sea salt

For the cheese sauce:

  • 3/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 5 ounces sliced fontina or other nice melting cheese (I used Jarlsberg)
  • 5 ounces freshly grated Parmesan
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound broccoli
  • 2 large free-range or organic egg yolks
  • 1 small bunch fresh marjoram, oregano or thyme tips, leaves picked (I used thyme)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Crack the eggs into a food processor and add the flour. Pulse frequently and listen for the sound changing to a rumble - this means the dough is coming together nicely. When the dough is the consistency of bread crumbs, turn the power off and test the consistency by pinching the dough. If it's a bit sticky add a little more flour and pulse again.

Tip the dough mixture onto a floured surface and shape it into a ball using your hands. Give it a little knead until smooth, then divide your dough into 4 equal parts. Start on the thickest setting of your pasta machine and run the first bit of dough through 4 or 5 times, moving the rollers closer together each time until the pasta is silky, smooth and about as thick as a CD.

Flour your finished sheet generously, then fold it up and cut across into 1/2-inch strips. Gather all the slices together and toss them through your fingers, with a little flour, to open them up and make your pile of tagliatelle. Place to 1 side and repeat with the rest of the dough.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. In a bowl large enough to rest on top of the pan, put your creme fraiche or sour cream, fontina or other melting cheese and your Parmesan with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place the bowl over the pan for the cheeses to slowly melt. It won't take long.

Meanwhile, trim any dry ends off the broccoli, then finely slice the stalks diagonally and leave the florets whole (cutting any larger ones in half).

At this point the cheese sauce should be lovely and oozy, so remove the bowl from above the pan and drop the pasta and broccoli into the boiling water. Boil hard for 2 to 3 minutes, until the pasta is just cooked through.

Whip up the 2 egg yolks and the marjoram, or other chosen herb leaves, into the sauce. Drain the pasta and broccoli, reserving a little of the cooking water, and quickly toss them with the sauce - the heat from the pasta will be enough to cook the eggs through. If the sauce is a little thick, add a few splashes of cooking water to make it silky and loose. Taste and season, if necessary.

Serve as quickly as you can, with some extra Parmesan sprinkled over the top and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Melt In Your Mouth Beef Stew

It's still February, and just barely cool enough to pretend like it's still the winter here in Dallas. I wanted beef stew, and because I've been slowly working my way through Jamie Oliver's cookbook, Cook With Jamie. I found his Melt In Your Mouth Shin Stew and decided to work with what I had. Allow yourself plenty of time, as this stew benefits from loads of time in the oven. I served this with my Root Vegetable Mash with Orange Zest and some butter wilted spinach, and my husband claims this is now in his top 5 of dinners we've ever eaten, a huge compliment given how well we've eaten in the past.

  • olive oil
  • 2 sweet yellow onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 sticks of celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A small handful of crimini and baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1.5 lb. chuck, cut into 1.5" chunks
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 cans good-quality diced plum tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups of a good quality dry red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock

Preheat your oven to 350ºF.

In a heavy-bottomed ovenproof saucepan, heat a splash of olive oil and gently fry the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, herbs, mushrooms and cinnamon for 5 minutes until softened slightly.

Meanwhile, toss the pieces of beef in a little seasoned flour, shaking off any excess.

Add the meat to the pan and stir everything together, then add the tomatoes, wine and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Gently bring to the boil, cover with a double-thickness piece of tinfoil and a lid and place in your preheated oven for 3 hours or until the beef is meltingly tender and can be broken up with a spoon.

Taste and check the seasoning, remove the cinnamon stick and rosemary sprigs and serve.

Root Vegetable Mash with Orange Zest

I'm a big fan of sweet potatoes, and had a single huge one leftover from the Black Bean, Sausage, and Sweet Potato Soup of last week. I knew I was going to be making a beef stew with a note of cinnamon tonight, and thought the flavour of sweet potatoes would better match the lovely rich flavour of the stew than regular old Russets.

  • 1 large sweet potato, or 2 medium into potatoes, chopped into 1.5" cubes
  • 4 or 5 medium carrots, 1" chop
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • Freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, bring enough salted water to cover the potatoes and carrots to a boil.

When the water is boiling, add the potatoes and carrots, boiling until fork tender, about 10 - 15 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and carrots when they are done. Add butter and cream, a little at a time, and mash the vegetables to a slightly creamy, yet still slightly chunky consistency. Add the pinch of cinnamon and the orange zest. Salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Black Bean, Sausage, and Sweet Potato Soup

I've been in the mood for sweet potatoes lately, and have found some interesting soup combinations out there online. I found one recipe for black beans and sweet potatoes, and another for sweet potatoes and sausage. I thought combining the two would make for some interesting flavours. I garnished the soup with cilantro and sour cream, and the addition added a fresh flavour to the slightly spicy and sweet base.


  • 1/4 pound Italian sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 can black beans
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 a medium onion, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped to 3/4" dice
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • sour cream for garnish


Brown Italian sausage in skillet over medium heat until cooked through. Set aside.

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, over medium high heat, add oil and add onions, cooking until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaf, cinnamon, cayenne, and broth, heating through.

In a small bowl, stir together tomato paste and 1 tbsp water; stir into pot with the Worcestershire sauce. Add the black beans and sweet potatoes and simmer soup, covered, for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.

When potatoes have cooked through, add 2 cups of the soup, potatoes, beans, onions and all, to a blender and puree. If you have a stick blender, just puree 1/4 of the soup. Add the sausage back into the soup, and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Creamy Chicken Thighs and Mushrooms over Mini Penne

I was given Dave's Dinners as a Christmas gift last year, and I love so many of the recipes it contains. This one is incredibly easy, just brown the chicken thighs, toss all of the ingredients together and wait a couple of hours until the meat is falling off of the bone.


  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 lbs. chicken thighs, skin and fat removed
  • Salt and fresh-ground pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 c. white wine
  • 4 c. chicken stock
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 12 oz. mushrooms (I used Criminis and Baby Bellas)
  • 1 lb. cooked penne
  • Handful of chopped parsley for garnish

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper.

Add chicken and brown on both sides, remove, and set aside.

Add onion and celery, and saute for five to seven minutes until softened.

Stir in flour until evenly distributed, then add wine, chicken stock, cream, bay leaves, chicken, and mushrooms.

Bring mixture to a simmer, reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer for two hours.

Serve over cooked penne or other pasta.

Garninsh with chopped parsley.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

I haven't cooked any shrimp dishes in a while, and I'd been craving feta for ages. I'm trying my hardest to cook a bit healther, but you'd never know it by my recent posts! So, I found this recipe made by Elie Krieger in her cookbook The Food Your Crave, tweaked it up a bit with some of the herbs I had on hand, and we absolutely devoured this dish.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can of diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 2 small fresh tomatoes, on the vine
  • 1 cup chicken stock.
  • 1/4 cup finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • A good handful of fresh chopped cilantro
  • A tbsp of fresh finely chopped thyme
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 - 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat the oil in an oven proof skillet over a medium-high heat.

Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes and stock bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 5 minutes, until the tomato juices thicken.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley, thyme, cilantro, and shrimp and season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the feta over the top. Bake until the shrimp are cooked through and cheese melts, about 12 minutes.

Serve over orzo or rice.

Orange Chicken

I love Chinese food to a fault, and this is one of my favorite simple dishes to make. Nice and spicy with a sweet tangy sauce, it makes even my picky brother-in-law happy to eat something outside of his comfort zone.

  • 1/2 pound chicken breast (cut into bite-size cubes)
  • 5 dried red chilies (cut into 1.5 inch length, seeded and soaked in warm water)
  • 1 teaspoon minced orange zest
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 inch ginger (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • Oil for deep frying

Orange Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tsp chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Chinese rice wine
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 5 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • Salt to taste
Frying Batter:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 oz. all-purpose flour
  • 1 oz. corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 egg
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil
  • 1 small pinch of salt

Mix the orange sauce ingredients and set aside.Mix the frying batter and dip the chicken meat into the batter. Heat up a pot/wok of cooking oil. When the cooking oil is hot enough for frying, drop the chicken pieces into the oil and deep fry them until they turn golden brown or crispy. Transfer them out onto a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

In a wok, add 2 teaspoons of cooking oil and quickly stir-fry the minced garlic and ginger until aromatic. Add in the dried red chilies and toss around until you smell the spicy aroma. Follow by the minced orange zest and then chicken. Quickly stir the chicken around before adding the orange sauce mixture. Continue to stir-fry until the sauce thicken. Dish out and serve immediately with steamed white rice and steamed broccolli.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Guinness Steak and Cheese Pie

I've recently received Jamie Oliver's cookbook that goes along with his show, Jamie At Home. It's a wonderful cookbook, and I love how he integrates his vegetable and herb growing methods along with the appropriate recipes. This cookbook has gotten a bit of a workout over the past few weeks.

I've made this lovely recipe for Guinness Steak Pie before, and have experimented using different beers. This latest time, I used a local Texas brew, Shiner Bock, but I've used Guiness, Bass, Newcastle, and others, and I have to say - the Shiner Bock has to be my favorite!


  • 2 - 2.5 lb. Beef brisket, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 lb. Store bought puff pastry
  • 3 red onions sliced
  • Sprig of rosemary
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp butter, and more for greasing the pie plate
  • 2 sticks celery - finely sliced
  • 2 carrot sticks - peeled and sliced
  • 8 oz. field mushrooms (portabella, crimini); as many as you like; sliced\
  • 1 pint Guinness or other dark beer
  • 1 heaping tbsp flour
  • Beef stock
  • 7 oz. of shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 8 oz. package frozen peas

Sauté onions over low heat on the stove top with a good glug of olive oil, salt and pepper until slightly browned in a deep, heavy dutch oven, about 10 minutes.

Stir in a sprig of rosemary, and add in the 3 cloves of minced garlic.

Add 1 tbsp butter, celery, carrots, and mushrooms.

Add the beef wirh a pinch of pepper and salt.

Add 1 pint of Guinness, and stir in 1 heaping tbsp of flour.

Pour in beef stock to top off stew; liquid should barely cover beef

Cook at 350 degrees for 2 hours, pulling the stew out halfway through and stirring

Remove stew filling from the oven and stir in 1 handful of shredded white cheddar cheese

Roll out puff pastry to about 3mm

Grease the entire oven safe bowl or pie pan that is about 4 inches deep and 8-10 inches in diameter with butter

Line the bottom of a the pie pan with the puff pastry.

I like to blind bake my lower puff pastry to ensure a crisper bottom. This is an optional step, but it yields better results.

Pour in the stew filling and sprinkle the other handful of shredded cheddar cheese on top of stew filling.

                  Brush the outer edge of the puff pastry with the beaten egg (this will act as a glue when you put the top on)

                  Cover with another piece of puff pastry that has been lightly scored with a knife.

                  Press around the edges so the top puff pastry is sealed to the bottom puff pastry.

                  Fold in excess puff pastry that is draping over the bowl so it looks a little organic and wrinkled.

                  Brush the top of the pastry with beaten egg.

                  Put pie in the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until bubbly and golden.

                  Towards the end of the cook time for the pie, cook a package of frozen peas according to package directions, once pie is finished cooking, pull out of the oven; spoon peas over top of each pie serving. As you can see from my pictures, I added the peas to the stew right before I put the stew in the oven. Either way works!

                  Friday, January 16, 2009

                  Savory Tomato and Sweet Onion Pie

                  One of my favourite places on the internet is a large message board full of random topics. Last year, one of the members of that forum's Cooking Crew started an Iron Chef type of competition among the board members. This was my entry for Battle Tomato.

                  I've used this crust before in various savory quiches, and it always turns out so light, and flaky, with just a hint of spice. I thought the flavour would work really well with a layered pie of tomatoes and sweet onions. The tomatoes were incredibly delicious and flavorful on their own, but combined with those sweet onions and the gorgeous soft cheeses, this dish was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

                  Savory Crust Ingredients
                  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
                  • 1 pinch each - paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne powder, dried oregano, and thyme.
                  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
                  • 4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small rectangular pieces
                  • Ice water in a spray bottle

                  In the bowl of a food processor combine flour, paprika, salt, galric powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme, and butter and process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. While the motor is running, spritz water inbetween pulses until dough comes together to form a ball.

                  Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a flat disc. Refrigerate overnight or at least one hour.

                  Remove from refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured surface to desired shape and thickness.

                  Pie Filling Ingredients

                  • 1 egg
                  • 2 pounds peeled ripe tomatoes
                  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
                  • 1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
                  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
                  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced Vidalia onions
                  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
                  • 2 tablespoons chiffonade fresh basil
                  • 1/2 cup grated fontina cheese
                  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
                  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
                  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

                  Roll out the pie crust on a lightly floured surface to fit a deep 9 or 10-inch pie pan. Place the pastry in the pie pan and crimp edges decoratively.

                  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, then line with aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights (I didn't have pie-weights, so I used bulk cannellini beans) and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges.

                  Remove foil and pie weights, and return to the oven for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool. Crack the egg in a small bowl, reserving yolk for the filling, separately. Lightly beat the egg white with a fork, then brush the surface of pie crust with a light coating of egg white and allow to cool. Peel tomatoes. Boil some salted water, and cut a shallow X on the bottom of the tomatoes. Drop into boiling water for 30 seconds, and then into an ice bath.

                  Slice the tomatoes, discarding the stem and root ends, into 1/4-inch slices and lightly season with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the bread crumbs in the bottom of the pie crust. In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise with the reserved egg yolk and stir until smooth. Place a layer of tomatoes in the bottom of the piecrust over the breadcrumbs, using about half of the tomatoes, then top with half of the sliced onions.

                  Drizzle with half of the mayonnaise mixture, half of the thyme and basil, half of the fontina and half of the mozzarella cheeses. Top with half of the remaining breadcrumbs then top with the remaining tomato slices, remaining onions, remaining fontina and mozzarella, remaining mayonnaise mixture, and remaining thyme and basil. Top with the remaining bread crumbs and drizzle with the olive oil.

                  Cover with the Parmesan cheese, place in the oven and bake until bubbly hot and golden brown, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

                  Tuesday, January 13, 2009

                  Spaghetti Alfredo with Roma Tomatoes

                  My husband was working late tonight, and I needed something quick, simple, and easily portioned to make for dinner. So, after tearing through my crisper looking for veggies, I decided upon some nice looking Roma tomatoes in an Alfredo sauce. I wrote the recipe to serve 4-6.


                  • 1/2 cup sweet butter
                  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
                  • 1 cup heavy cream
                  • 1 cup half and half
                  • 2-3 fresh roma tomatoes, cored, seeds removed, and diced
                  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
                  • 1/2 cup grated fresh parmagiano reggiano
                  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
                  • 1 box of spaghetti, or 12 oz of pasta of your choice

                  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic, cream, pepper, and bring to a simmer, while stirring often. Add the parmagiano and simmer sauce for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and is smooth. When the sauce has thickened, add the mozzarella and stir until smooth and creamy, constantly stirring. Add the chopped tomatoes until warmed through.

                  While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta according to package directions. Toss and serve.

                  Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

                  Since it's the New Year, I was looking around for ways to cook a bit more healthful food for my husband and me. I received Elie Kreiger's cookbook for Christmas, and have started cooking some of the dishes I've found in there. This one was a fantastic excuse to use the last of our lemons from our lemon tree.

                  I love how the broth is thickened with whisked eggs, lemon juice, and hot broth, and not cream. It's a lovely thyme-scented soup, that gives you just enough oomph to feel satisfied, but not so much that you feel like you've inhaled an entire plate of pasta, or chicken.


                  • 4 tsp olive oil
                  • 8 oz. of skinless boneless chicken, cut into bute sized chunks.
                  • Pinch of sea salt
                  • 1 medium onion, diced
                  • 2 stalks celery, diced
                  • 1 medium carrot, diced
                  • 1 bell pepper, diced
                  • 2 tbsp of fresh thyme
                  • 6 cups chicken broth
                  • 1 cup orzo
                  • 2 large eggs
                  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
                  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

                  Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and add it to the pot. Stir occassionally until cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside.

                  Add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil to the pot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, pepper, and thyme. Stir occasionally over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender. Add 5 cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and let simmer until tender, about 8 minutes. Turn the heat to low.

                  Meanwhile, heat the remaining one cup of broth in a sauce pan until it is hot and not boiling. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Gently whisk the lemon juice into the eggs. Then gradually add the hot broth to the lemon and eggs mixture, while continuously whisking. Add the egg micture to the soup, stirring well until it is thickened. Do not let the soup come to a boil. Add the cooked chicken to the soup, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

                  Monday, January 12, 2009

                  Peanut Noodles with Chicken, Cabbage, and Peppers

                  From my friend over at Jennifer's Cooking, Jennifer has recently received a new DSLR, and her pictures are just gorgeous! I drew inspiration from her newly posted Sesame Peanut Noodles, and decided to make some Peanut Noodles with Chicken, Cabbage, and Peppers.


                  • 2 tbsp olive oil
                  • 8 oz of chicken breast, chopped into bite size pieces
                  • 8 oz of cooked spaghetti, drained
                  • 1 shallot, finely sliced
                  • 1/4 head of green cabbage, finely sliced
                  • 1 bell pepper (I used an orange bell pepper), chopped
                  • 3-4 tbsp creamy peanut butter
                  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
                  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
                  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
                  • 1 tbsp walnut oil
                  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
                  • Cilantro leaves to garnish

                  Season the chicken breast cubes with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp of the oilve oil in a pan and brown the chicken over medium heat until cooked through.

                  Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the other tbsp of olive oil to the pan, and add the chopped shallot, and pepper to the pan. Saute until the shallot is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage to the pan and heat and turn until wilted.

                  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add the peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, walnut oil, soy sauce and red pepper flakes, and whisk together until smooth. Toss the noodles and the sauce with the chicken and the cabbage mixture.

                  Garnish with cilantro leaves.

                  Beer Battered Tilapia Tacos with Winter Veg Coleslaw and Cilantro Cream

                  I love a nice fish taco, and although I've lived in TX for nearly a decade, I can't forget the lovely fish tacos from the California Coastal areas of La Jolla and the Beach Cities.

                  This recipe is incredibly easy to put together, and the Winter Veg Coleslaw can be made in advance and refrigerated for a couple of days. It's best fresh, though!

                  For the Winter Veg Coleslaw, adapted from Jamie Oliver's recipe, you'll need:

                  • 2 carrots, peeled
                  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed
                  • 3 radishes
                  • 1/2 a head of red and green cabbage each, outer leaves removed
                  • Handful of fresh dill, mint, parsley, leaves picked and chopped
                  • 1 small red onion
                  • 1 shallot
                  • 1 lemon
                  • Olive oil
                  • 1 cup yogurt
                  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
                  • Sea salt and pepper
                  Shred the fennel, and cabbage in your food processor using the chopping blade. Flip the blade over to the grating blade and shred the carrots and radishes. You can also use a mandoline or a grater.
                  In a separate bowl, mix half the lemon juice, a couple of tbsp of the olive oil, chopped herbs, yogurt, and dijon mustard.

                  Pour the dressing over the grated vegetables and mix well to coat, and season to taste with salt and pepper and the rest of the lemon juice.
                  For the Cilantro Cream, you'll need:

                  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
                  • 1/2 cup sour cream
                  • 1/2 cup yogurt
                  For the Beer Battered Tilapia, you'll need:

                  • About 2 qt. canola or vegetable oil for frying
                  • 1 cup all purpose flour
                  • Sea salt
                  • 1 cup good beer
                  • 2 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
                  • 1 lb. of firm fillets of a mild, white fish (bass, cod, tilapia) cut into finger sized strips.

                  For serving, you'll need:

                  • 12 to 16 corn tortillas
                  • limes
                  Make the Cilantro Cream Sauce - mix all of the ingredients together and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

                  For the fish, fill a large dutch oven or heavy pot with oil to about 2.5". Heat the oil to about 350F , checking the temperature regularly with a deep fry thermometer.

                  Meanwhile, prepare the batter - mix the flour and 1 tsp of salt in with the beer and stir until smooth. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites.

                  Season the fish with salt and pepper. Work in batches of about 3-4 pieces at a time. Using kitchen tongs, dip each piece in the batter, letting excess batter drain off, and carefully submerge the fish in the hot oil. Fry until golden and booked through, around 5 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet or plate lined with paper towels.

                  To serve: As soon as the fish has finished frying, transfer to a warm plate and let your guests build their own tacos using the fish, coleslaw, and cilantro cream. I also served with Black Beans cooked with cilantro and onions and a lemon, cilantro rice.

                  Welcome to my Blog!

                  I thought I would start my blog out with a view of where I spend every evening, and most weekends. I love to cook for my husband, and our family and friends, and it hasn't always been something I have enjoyed so thoroughly. In the midst of courting my husband, all I knew how to make was pasta and a few basic pasta dishes.

                  My wonderful husband, Weston, and I built our house in the DFW Metroplex throughout 2006, and moved in on December 22, 2006. I was so incredibly happy to have a gas cooktop again, that I really took an interest in developing a cooking repertoire, and ended up with tons of pictures in a folder labeled "Food" on my desktop. I've been a jarred pasta sauce woman in the past, but I realized the error of my ways on our recent trip to Italy, and that affected so much of how I cook now.

                  I do hope you'll enjoy my cooking blog, and I look forward to sharing my Kitchen Endeavours with everyone who visits!