Saturday, November 24, 2012

My blog moved!

Apparently, Blogger is limited to 1G space, and I ran out of I moved. You can find my new blog here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Spinach bread and butter casserole

16 oz fresh leaf spinach
1 day-old ciabatta loaf, thinly sliced
4 tbsp softened butter or olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 oz mushroom, thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt and ground black pepper
4 oz Gruyere or Gouda cheese, grated
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups milk
fresh nutmeg, grated

Rinse the spinach well and blanch it in the tiniest amount of water for 2 minutes. Drain well, pressing out any excess water, and chop. Spread the bread slices thinly with the butter. Grease a large shallow ovenproof dish (9 x 13 in) and line the base and sides with bread.

Fry the onion, mushroom and thyme in the oil for about 5 minutes then add the cumin seeds and spinach. Season well. Layer the spinach mixture with the remaining bread and half the cheese. For the top, mix everything together and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.

Beat the eggs with the milk, adding seasoning and nutmeg to taste. Pour slowly over the whole dish and set aside for a good hour or overnight to allow the custard to be absorbed into the bread.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Stand the dish in a roasting pan and pour around some boiling water for a bain marie. Bake for 40-45 minutes until risen, golden brown and crispy on top.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Doggie Sunday

Our Sunday morning started with grabbing coffee and pastries at Panera, then we headed for Cool Creek Park for a morning walk - Freyja really seems to like this park. We didn't see as many squirrels as the last time, but there were still plenty of things to sniff.

In the afternoon, we walked over to Best Friends Pet Care for the doggie meetup:

This is Cooper, the biggest dog of the group. You can't miss it when he gallops across the room:

Meet Chopper, who occasionally rolls over to show his belly:

And Freyja found someone to scratch the base of her tail, which clearly made her very happy:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dark chocolate coconut cookies

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup golden yellow sugar (or brown sugar)
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup shredded sweetened dried coconut
1 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

1. Using a stand mixer or handheld beaters, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy.
2. Add the egg until incorporated.
3. Add pure vanilla extract extract to combine.
4. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, coconut, cocoa powder and salt to combine.
5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture until combined.
6. Add the chocolate chips until combined.
7. Using a small ice cream scoop or clean hands, dole out 2 inch round balls of batter evenly spaced on baking sheets, a dozen per sheet. Flatten each cookie with fork dipped in warm water if so desired.
8. Bake in oven for 11-14 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is, turning pans halfway through. 9. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheets.

Adapted from Poppytalk

Game night with Julie, Teresa, Eric and Mike

A few years ago, we had a game night - dinner, followed by playing board games - with some friends from work. It was a lot of fun, and I've been meaning to do a follow-up since. It finally came together - after some negotiation around everyone's busy schedule, it was set for November 17th. It was pretty much the same group as last time - Julie, Teresa and Eric, but with the addition of Eric's new partner, Mike, and my partner Michael.

I made a set of new place mats from burlap in the afternoon:

Then I set the table for dinner:

The guests arrived at six - I made a large bowl of salad, and three different pizzas, and we started opening bottles of wine:

Dessert was brownies, baked by Julie, with vanilla bean ice cream and rote grutze I made for the first time. After dinner we played games and had a good time, until about 11, when the last of the guests left.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Parsnip and curry apple soup

Jennifer and Will came for dinner a few weekends ago. I made this parsnip soup, salad and Flammkuchen - Michael made his pumpkin  crème brûlée. Michael got a lot of attention from the animals that afternoon while dicing the speck:

and this is what the table setting looked like:

Finally, here is the photo and recipe of the delicious parsnip and curry apple soup, which I am planning to make for the international group's Thanksgiving dinner this year:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 cups chopped peeled parsnip (about 2 pounds)
3 cups chopped peeled Fuji apple (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 teaspoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 garlic cloves
3 cups stock
2 cups water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add parsnip and next 9 ingredients (through garlic); sauté 8 minutes. Add stock, 2 cups water, and vinegar; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until parsnips are tender. Remove from heat; uncover. Let mixture stand 10 minutes.
Blend until smooth with a stick/immersion blender. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon yogurt.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hungarian hot sausage and lentil stew

I started this blog originally so that I would have a central place for the recipes I've tried and liked. You see a recipe, you bookmark it, or save it in your collection of Epicurious recipes, and a couple of weeks later you just don't remember where it came from. Then I wanted to improve the pictures that accompany the recipes, and started subscribing to different food blogs. And now, a few years later, I have decided I want to - maybe not every time, just occasionally add a few lines of the memories that go with the recipes. Or, maybe even add blog entries just for things to remember, with recipes...Let's just see where this grows and where it takes me...

The inspiration for this recipe, quite honestly, came from the fact that I had a cookbook someone gave me years ago that I have never made a single recipe from. I was looking through the cookbooks on my bookshelf, and thought it was time this book stopped collecting I flipped through it, and found this recipe - most likely the reason I was given this book...So, I decided to give it a try, with the modification of using soy chorizo sausage from Trader Joe's in place of the original Italian sausage it calls for. And the result was quite tasty, a nice, spicy, heavy winter evening warming soup. We watched a German movie with it Maybe, Maybe Not - a light comedy from the 90's.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lb. Italian sausage, or soy chorizo sausage
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 oz mushroom, diced
1 cups  diced carrots
1 cups lentils
1 large potato, peeled and diced
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons smoked paprika, or 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tsp sweet paprika and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp rosemary or 3 fresh sprigs, tied together
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
4 cups broth
4 cups kale or chard, hard stems removed and chopped

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add chopped sausage and brown for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic, onions and mushroom. Cook a few minutes then add carrots, lentils, potatoes, salt, pepper, bay leaf, paprika and rosemary. Add tomatoes and broth, bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, until potatoes and lentils are almost done. Add kale or chard, and cook for another minute or two. Remove bay leaves, and if using, fresh rosemary sprigs.