Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pomegranate Cherry Braised Pork

We recently joined a meat CSA. It makes me feel so much better about eating meat. I have never really had much of a problem, until I started investigating where meat really comes from. Maybe it is the media scaring me, but I feel better when I know exactly where it came from. We are sharing the meat with our friends Stacie and Greg. We got our first bag of meat last week. Oh my, do we have a lot of meat. In the bag was a huge pork shoulder. What do you do with a pork shoulder? Braise it for many of hours. I love braising meat, it makes it so tender and delicious. And it is usually pretty easy. Just throw a few things into a pot. I found this recipe on a fellow bloggers site. I added a few things, but mostly left it the same, since it was my first try at pork shoulder. and of course I served it with mashed potatoes.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pound pork shoulder- mine had the bone in, I left it in for cooking.
salt and pepper
1 onion diced- I recently wondered how the pros cut onions. I watched this video and it so much easier now.
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 cup red wine- never cook with wine that you wouldn't drink.
Juice from 1 orange
1/2 cup tart dried cherries
2 guajillo dried peppers, chopped without seeds
4 garlic cloves minced

Heat the oil over medium heat, add the onions. Let them get a little brown. Then you can add the big hunk oh meat. Brown this on each side for about 5 minutes.

Now you can add the pomegranite juice, wine, orange juice, cherries, peppers and garlic.

Once all combined, cover it up and place in a 325 degree oven for about 3 hours. About every 40 minutes open it up and turn the meat over, this makes sure that the meat stays moist through the cooking process.

When it is all done, it will be falling off the bone. Pull off some meat, pour some sauce on it and enjoy! For the mashed potatoes, boil red potatoes for about 20 minutes or until a fork can easily pierce through them. Drain them and add a little butter and a splash of milk. I mash mine by hand, then you don't risk getting them all gummy. I like mine to have texture to them, so this works best.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Beef Barley Soup

Soup & stew season is officially up on us. Well, actually, we have been having fantastic weather here in Chicago. I haven't even pulled out the winter coat yet. We'll see how long that lasts. I love the way soups and stews make your house smell so delicious and that you always have lots of leftovers for lunches during the week. One of my favorite things to put in soups is barley, it has such a great flavor and is so good for you. I used "Quicker Beef Vegetable Soup" by David Pazmino as inspiration for my soup. His recipe can be found in Cooks Illustrated Soups and Stews.

1 pound sirloin tip steaks- cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound mushrooms- wiped clean and quartered
1 large onion- diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 cup red wine
4 cups beef broth
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
4 medium carrots- chopped
2 bay leafs
1 cup dry barley

First, place the beef in a bowl with the soy sauce and set aside for about 15 minutes. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat until it barely starts to smoke, then add in the mushrooms and onions. Stir frequently for about 10 minutes. Cook until onions are nice and brown. Make sure to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Take the vegetables out of the pan and set aside.
Place the beef in the pan and cook until the meat starts to brown, about 8 minutes. Turn the beef as you cook. Add tomato paste and garlic. Cook until you can smell the garlic about 1 minute. Add red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the brown bits. Cook this until it is syrupy, about 2 minutes. Now you can add beef broth, chicken broth, carrots, bay leaves and the onion mushroom mixture.

Bring this to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Approximately 30 minutes before you want to serve, add the barley. When the soup is finished, take out the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Chicken Chilaquiles

Chris and I both love Mexican food. I say that if I had to pick one type of food to eat for the rest of my life, I would choose Mexican. We recently purchased the cookbook "Authentic Mexican" by Rick Bayless. Everything looks so delicious and the cookbook really teaches you about the different types of cuisine in Mexican food. The first thing we tried was Chicken Chilaquiles. The dish turned out great, I think I could eat tomatillo sauce everyday. This weekend we might attempt Tamales. mmm...I can't wait.

recipe adapted from Rick Bayless Authentic Mexican

Chilaquiles recipe
6 corn tortillas
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups tomatillo sauce- see recipe below
1/2 cup boneless cooked chicken shredded- see below
1/4 cup cream
2 tablespoons queso fresco

First you need to make the tomatillo sauce

Tomatillo Sauce
11 fresh tomatillos
2 chiles jalapenos
5 sprigs cilantro
1 small onion chopped
1 garlic clove chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups chicken broth
salt for taste

Place the tomatillos in a pan with water that just covers them. Boil them for about 10-15 minutes or until tender. Place the tomatillos, jalapenos, cilantro, onion and garlic in a blender. Blend until it's nice and smooth. After blending, heat the vegetable oil in a pan and pour the sauce in the pan. Stir this constantly for 5 minutes or until the sauce is thicker and has darkened. Now, add the chicken broth. Return the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium and cook until you can coat a spoon with the sauce.

For this recipe you will poach the chicken.

small onion chopped
3 cups water
1-2 medium chicken breast- depending on how big and how much chicken you want
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf

Put all of the ingredients in a pot and bring them to a boil. Simmer for about 13 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the chicken cool. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred with a fork and knife on a cutting board.

Now it is time to put it all together. Cut the tortillas into eighths. You want them to be dry, if they are still moist you can dry them in the oven for a little at 350 degrees. Pour 1/3 cup oil into a pan and when it is hot place half of the tortillas into the pan. Turn them often until they are lightly browned. Place them on a paper towel to let them drain. Keep doing this till you have cooked them all.

Once you have all the tortillas cooked, clean the oil out of the pan. Return all of the tortillas pieces to the pan. Pour in the sauce and chicken. Stir it all up and simmer for a few minutes.
Fill up your bowl or plate and sprinkle a little queso fresco on top and enjoy!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Apple Galette

When we were in Portland this past September we had the best galette ever. We went to the Saturday farmers market and they had the most delicious food there. I was so surprised at how amazing the farmers market was. All of the different types of fruits and veggies and the most amazing food. When we got back home, we were determined to make a delicious galette. Guess what, they aren't hard to make. It is so simple. If you need to make a quick dessert, this is it.

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2–inch pieces

2 apple- I did 1 fuji and 1 golden delicious. Peeled and sliced thin.
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
some almond slices for topping

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the pieces of butter, you need to cut it into the flour mixture. I use my hands to get it all mixed in. The dough should be crumbly when it is fully incorporated. Add 4 tablespoons ice water to the mixture and mix well. I knead the dough in the bowl. Some people may find it easier to place it on a board. I just roll it around in the bowl. Once you have formed a ball with the dough, wrap the entire ball in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

After refrigerating the dough, it is time to roll it out. Sprinkle some flour onto a board and roll the dough out with a rolling pin. I rolled mine into a rectangle, but you could do a circle too. I forgot how fragile pie crust is, so be careful.

Once the dough is rolled out, place it on a parchment lined pan. Now you can fill the crust with delicious toppings. You can change this recipe up with whatever you have in the fridge. I used apples then sprinkled sugar and cinnamon on top.

Once you have filled it up, simply fold the corners up. Try not to get any holes, because you don't want any of the yummy juices to escape. Place in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes. Lower your rack to one of the lowest notches. I sprinkled sliced almonds on top about 15 minutes before the galette was done baking. This was the simplest most delicious desert!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Soft Pretzels

Wow, has the summer flown by! We have been so busy. We went to Portland, OR for 10 days and it was amazing, especially the food. The restaurants in Portland don't mess around. We went to Newport, a small city on the coast, hiked mount St. Helens, which erupted 3 days before I was born(interesting fact). We also went to the Columbia Gorge and saw some amazing waterfalls. We went to some great wineries and brought home four bottles. Three bottles from Cor Cellars and 1 bottle from Syncline. Now, we are back home and hopefully we will have more time to post some delicious treats. We also stayed with Chris's good friend Steve Jones of Steve's Cheese. His cheese shop is amazing. If you live in the area, or ever visit, you must go there! Ok, on to the pretzels. I have always wanted to make these and I got more inspiration after we bought some delicious pretzel rolls from the farmers market. I combined a few different recipes.

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons yeast
5 cups flour- I used 3 white and 2 wheat.
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened.
1/4 cup baking soda
salt to sprinkle on top- When we were in Portland, we bought some fancy salt from The Meadow. Who knew there could be so many different types of salt?

Mix the warm water and sugar in a bowl, once it has dissolved add in the yeast and mix. Let it stand for about 5-10 minutes. It should get foamy.

In a separate glass bowl mix the flour and salt. Crumble the butter into the flour with your fingers and get it mixed together really well.

Pour the yeast mixture into the flour. I used a spatula to mix. I use the spatula to start the kneading process. If it is too wet, feel free to sprinkle in a little more flour. Once mixed, get your hands in and knead it. Some people prefer to knead on a board, but I usually just do it in the bowl. After you have kneaded the dough, give it a light coat of olive oil. I take the dough out of the bowl and pour a little olive oil into the bottom of the bowl and then return the dough to the bowl and roll it around to coat. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 30-40 minutes.

It is time to make pretzels! Remove the dough from the bowl cut the dough into 12 pieces. Roll each piece between the palms of your hands till they are each about 18 inches in length. Form a U-shape and then twist the 2 ends and then press them into the bottom of the U. The picture may help with this. Place them on parchment paper.

Once you have them all shaped into little pretzels it's time to start boiling the water. Also heat your oven to 475 degrees. Get out a large pot and fill it with about 2 inches of water, once it is boiling add in 1/4 cup of baking soda. Stand back because it does get pretty foamy. You can reduce the heat, so you have nice simmer. Place the pretzels into the water, cook for about 1 minute on each side. I used a wide slotted spatula to remove them from the boiling water. Place each pretzel on a baking rack. After they come out of the water you can sprinkle a little salt on the top. Once you have filled a baking pan with pretzels, place it in the oven for 11-15 minutes. They are delicious straight out of the oven. When I first took a bite, I was like, yeah, this tastes like a good!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lamb Spare Ribs

This summer has flown by, I can't even believe that it is September. The weather here in Chicago was very mild, which is very strange. We were able to grill out at least a few times. Neither of us had ever cooked with any type of ribs, so we were excited about the Challenge. One Sunday we went to the Wickerpark farmers market and picked up some Lamb Spare ribs. The sign said, great for grilling. and that is what we did. We were shocked at how delicous this meat was. It was so tender.


lamb spare ribs
fresh rosemary
fresh sage

First you salt and pepper the ribs. Then place on the grill for about 5 minutes a side.

After you have grilled the ribs you want to place them in either parchment paper or a french oven. Now you want to pile in all the veggies and herbs. The more the merrier and you can totally experiment with what you put in here.

Now you want to bake at 350 degrees for about 1-1/2 hours. After this time you will want to separate the meat from the herbs and veggies. You can go ahead and eat it now or you can place the meat back on the grill to give the ribs a nice little char. This meat is so delicious, because of the slow cooking in the oven it comes out so tender and succulent.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Potato and Green Bean Salad

Yes, it's another salad. But I can't get enough of all the goodies at the farmers market, and salads are an easy way to combine a bunch of fresh veggies. I don't know how I survive in the winter without all the delicious fresh produce. I think in the summer I could be a vegetarian because there are so many fresh things to eat.

1 1/2 pound potatoes, we have been trying all sorts of different kinds. use whatever you have.
10 ounces green beans
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, check out Bari foods, they have great oils and vinegars.
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1.4 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
4 scallions chopped thinly
2 teaspoons chopped thyme

Make sure to scrub the potatoes first.Then place the potatoes in a pan with a little salt and enough water to just cover the potatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 12-15 minutes, till you can poke a knife easily through them. Add the green beans to the pot and cook for about 2-3 minutes longer. I like my green beans snappy, so I don't cook them for that long.

In a large bowl combine the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, mustard, pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Whisk in the olive oil and get it all mixed up. Now its time to toss in the potatoes and beans, get all coated nicely. I sort of mashed a few of the potatoes with a fork just to add some texture. Lastly you want to add in the scallions ans thyme.
You can eat this as a meal or a side. Earlier, I said I could be a vegetarian in the summer, but I did eat this as a side with a bratwurst on pretzel bread, it was so so so delicious. I didn't make the pretzel bread, but it is on my list of things I want to try!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Potato, Bacon & Leek Soup

Chris came home from the farmers market with some delicious looking potatoes and leeks. I sort of wanted to make a quiche, but I decided on a soup. I know soup in the summer is a little strange, but our summer had been really cold. It is just starting to get hot here. The other day our friend Stacie was over and we were talking about her CSA and she was saying how she loved getting all the fruits and veggies. We got to talking about how our perception of what vegetables and fruit should look like is so off. Because everything we see at the store had been altered. Stacie got some strawberries in her CSA, when she opened the box, she saw these really small and sort of white berries, immediately she thought something was wrong with them. But no nothing was wrong, just her perception has been skewed from all the altered food that we see. She said they were the most delicious strawberries. Below you will see some of the potatoes I used for the soup, they had the best shape and I guarantee you would never see them in the grocery store, cause people would think something was wrong with them.


2 tablespoons butter
4 strips bacon- chop them up, I used a scissors.
2 leeks
1/2 cup white wine
5 cups chicken stock
1 pound potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
a few sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves

Trim the leeks and make sure to rinse under water to get rid of any dirt or sand, then chop them up.

Scrub the potatoes and chop them up.

Get a stockpot out and melt the butter and then add in the bacon, cook for about 5-6 minutes. Then add in the leeks, cook until they are wilted, about 5 minutes. Now you can add the wine and bring it to a boil. Add in the chicken stock, potatoes, salt and pepper, thyme and bay leaves. Bring this all to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. The potatoes should be very soft.

Its time to make it all smooth. Now this is a little tricky, well it isn't if you have an immersion blender, but we don't. We used the good old fashioned one. But when you pour the soup into the blender you need to do this in batches, cause it won't all fit in the blender. We did not do this and ended up with a big mess.

Once it is all smoothed up, pour into bowl and top with chives and creme fraiche, if you have some!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summer Salad

Mark Bittman inspired me to make a delicious salad. His article in the nytimes is fabulous. We have been trying more and more to eliminate processed foods. The salad article is a great way to make new things with fruit, veggies and even fish. I have book club tonight, and we are having it on the beach, so I thought a fresh salad would be great.

1 cucumber
2 tomatoes
small onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 lemon-for the juice
1/4 cup kalamata olives
olive oil
feta cheese
salt and pepper

This is very simple, chop everything up and mix it well. One thing I learned from Mark Bittman, when making a salad dressing you just need a fat and a acid and a flavor. For this I used olive oil, lemon and garlic.

I enjoyed taking pictures of the delicious ingredients as much as I did making the salad.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Brioche Buns

Chris and I have been wanting to try our hand at making homemade hamburger buns. We have researched a few here and there, but then we saw an article in the NY Times about a Brioche Hamburger bun. We knew that we had to give it a whirl. We both love Brioche and recently had a great brioche BLT at a new restaurant called Nightwood. Whenever we make new things, I always get nervous. I am never really sure if it's going to turn out or not, but when it does it is such a good feeling!

3 tablespoons warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeat
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups bread flour- we used regualr flour and they turned out fine.
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened.

In a glass bowl combine 1 cup water, milk, yeast and sugar. Mix this up and then let it stand for about 5 minutes. It should get foamy. This way you know that the yeast is active. While you are waiting you can beat 1 egg in a small dish.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Then you can add in the butter. Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your hands. It should get crumbly. Mix in the yeast mixture and the beaten egg. Mix until it forms a dough. My dough was very sticky and elastic. I had a hard time kneading it. I think next time I might add a little more flour. The original recipe says to knead for 8-10 minutes on an unfloured board. I knew if I did this, my dough would be stuck everywhere. I kneaded in the bowl and proceeded to shape it into a ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside for about 1 hour, it could take 2. You want the dough to double in size.

Once it has doubled open it up and divide it into 8 equal parts and place them on a parchment lined pan. Place the buns about 2-3 inches apart. Lightly cover with a dish cloth and set aside. Let them rise for 1-2 hours. They should double again. Mine didn't get every big in height but they did get wider. I lightly reformed them into ball shapes.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and place a shallow pan of water on the bottom. Before baking, beat another egg and use a brush to put a little on each bun. Also, if you want sesame seeds on your buns, you can sprinkle a few on now. Then place in the oven and bake for about
12 minutes, rotating the pan once. Cook till lightly golden.

We made burgers with the buns the first night and they were delicious. This past week I have been making PB&J with them for lunch....yummy! and last night we made BLT's with delicious. I think I want to start making these every week.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

Ok, so sorry that it has been so long since our last post. The month of June flew by. I was traveling a lot for work. I think I went to 5 cities in 2 weeks. Also Chris and I went camping with our friends Brian and Tara. It was a lot of fun. Tara is a great camping cook. She made french toast and breakfast burritos, I think she should write a camping cookbook. About a year ago, Chris and I went to my friend Margo's Birthday party. At the party, Megan made these delicious cookies. Chris was raving about them. I asked her for the recipe and we have been meaning to make it since. One of the ingredients is arrowroot, so it took us awhile to get that. The original recipe is vegan, but we didn't stick to that. But you can always make it the original vegan way.


2 cups peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons arrowroot
2 teaspoons water
3 cups flour
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
12 ounces chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix everything in a bowl except the milk and the chocolate chips. The batter gets really thick. Just keep stirring along. Once it is all combined. Add in the milk, you may want to add in a little at a time. Mix it well till it resembles normal cookie dough. If you taste it, I think it tastes like a butterfinger, so delicious.

Then you can add in the chocolate chips. I use a 1/4 measuring cup and I scoop up some dough and then divide that into 2 cookies. With a few batches we flattened the tops of the cookies with a fork. Both ways turned out great. Give it a try. Bake them for about 12 minutes.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sugar Snap Peas and Radishes

Chris went to the farmers market the other day and picked up some sugar snap peas and radishes. We were trying to think of something to make with these. We ended up deciding to saute them all together with a little sauce. We both usually don't go for radishes, but these were delicious. I don't know much about radishes, but they picked up so much flavor. This was a very refreshing salad. We cooked up a chicken breast to eat along side. Also a funny thing about this recipe, just a few days after we made it nytimes had an article with a very similar recipe. I think sometimes, recipes are made based on what is fresh and in season.

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 of a red onion chopped up
12 ounces sugar snap peas, you will want to clean and trim them.
2 cups thinly sliced radishes
1/4 cup orange vinegar- or use any type of citrus juice mixed with a little vinegar.
2 tablespoons fresh dill chopped

Clean the radishes and then trim then nice and thin. They are so beautiful! Once you have everything ready to go heat the oil and butter in a pan. When it is hot, saute the red onion for about 5 minutes. Then you can add in the sugar snap peas, cook for about 3 minutes. Now you can add in the radishes and cook for about 3 more minutes. Now you can add in the orange vinegar.

Once it is all tossed together toss the dill in, mix it up and serve.