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.