Sunday, June 27, 2010

BBT

Just had to share my favorite sandwich of summer - the "BBT." Bacon, basil, and tomato.

Who needs lettuce? :)



Years ago, I heard someone on a cooking show (can't recall which one) suggest replacing the lettuce on your BLT with fresh basil leaves. I took that advice and have been making this ever since. All you need is:

-2 slices of your favorite sandwich bread, toasted
-2 or 3 slices of good bacon, cooked
-2 slices of tomato
-A few fresh basil leaves
-Mayonnaise for the bread


You can go with some additions if you like. I borrowed a couple of elements from the excellent "Crooked BLT" at The Crooked Spoon in Grand Marais. I drizzled a little aged balsamic vinegar on the the tomato slices to impart more flavor (not a bad idea especially when tomatoes are not quite in season here). I also spiked my mayonnaise with a little homemade curry powder. Yum!

I made this sandwich often in the summer. I can't wait to get some fresh, local tomatoes. This sandwich, with a cob of Minnesota sweet corn, is possibly my ultimate summer meal!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The last day of spring

Sunday was a day off from running, but I spent a lot of the last official day of spring outside on what was a most beautiful day.

Hiking around a local park, I got to see a lot of fun stuff. Birds included the bobolink, western meadowlark, indigo bunting, brown thrasher, Baltimore oriole, house wren, field sparrows, eastern bluebird, trumpeter swans, American goldfinch, ruby-throated hummingbird, and tree swallows. Heard, but not seen, were the eastern wood-pewee, the common yellowthroat, and the ovenbird.

I also saw seven species of butterflies in one location. This included the Monarch, white admiral, red admiral, eastern comma, northern crescent, great spangled fritillary, and a new one for me, the hackberry emperor. It took me a long time to figure out the hackberry. And it was a funny butterfly, as it kept landing on me!

Just a gorgeous day to be outside and a fitting end to spring in 2010. Here is looking forward to the summer!

"Blue Boy" - the brilliant indigo bunting



A beautiful Eastern Comma butterfly



FEAR THE TURTLE! :)



Black-eyed Susans



Tree swallows minding the house



Hackberry Emperor butterfly - a first for me

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wild weather

Yesterday, parts of Minnesota saw their first significant storms of the season. In the middle of a day in the high 80's with high humidity, a huge line of storms popped up to the west. It looked like my area was going to get clobbered, but the storms essentially split the metro and slid off to the north and south. Aside from a little thunder and lightning, along with a brief rain shower, not much happened.

The same can't be said for other parts of the state. The town of Wadena in west central MN got hammered, as did communities around Albert Lea. Below is an amazing clip shot yesterday near Wadena by the guys at Tornado Videos. They actually intercepted the tornado with their specially designed vehicle. What a frightening storm...



This tornado seen below was just northwest of the Twin Cities



And finally, a slide show from WCCO. This was just an awful storm outbreak. I enjoy a good summer storm, but not when people or things get destroyed. My thoughts and prayers go out to the folks affected by these storms.

On more positive notes:

1. Good luck to those running in Grandma's Marathon tomorrow. A couple of my friends from work are toeing the line, so I wish them well and hope for a good day for all the runners.

2. Peanut butter swirl brownies, anyone? ;-)



Until next time,

Jean

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Salsa!

Shortly after I graduated from college, I purchased a book called "Salsa" by Reed Hearon, and it was a revelation to me. I had a strong interest in hot and spicy foods, and the sheer variety of these colorful and flavorful condiments was staggering. I found myself searching for ingredients to make my own. Chile peppers were something of a rarity at that time here in Minnesota. I remember actually mail ordering a number of different dried chilies from New Mexico! Now, thankfully, ingredients are much more widely available, or at least easily accessible.

Chile peppers can be confusing because sometimes they have different names for the same peppers, sometimes names are shared, and sometime the name is indicative of its form. For example, let's look at the chile peppers I am using:

Poblano peppers, a relatively mild green chile, look like a pointy, slightly darker version of a green bell pepper. They are sometimes labeled (incorrectly) as a "pasilla" chile in the markets. This is confusing because there is also dried chile called a pasilla, which is a completely different pepper. So if you see a fresh green pepper being called a pasilla, it is actually a poblano. (On a somewhat related note, if a poblano is dried, it is then called an "ancho" chile. Clear as mud? Don't worry, we can tackle ancho peppers another day!)

The chipotle pepper, a warm and fiery chile, is actually a jalapeno that has been dried and smoked. They come in two forms; dried, and canned (called chipotles en adobo). The dried version is just as you would imagine - completely dried with a smoky aroma, and you would either rehydrate with hot water, or you could even grind them into a powder. The canned version is a completely different animal. These are actually packed in sauce of tomato, vinegar, and spices. The peppers are a dark red color, and liquid from the can becomes condiment you can use on its own. It is almost like a smoky, fiery barbecue sauce (add a couple of tablespoons to your chili con carne!).

Guajillo chilies are a long, dried red chilies that are somewhat mild and have a slightly smoky and rich red chile flavor. The "Salsa" book describes these as "the dried form of the Mexican version of the New Mexico-type red chile," and they are extremely similar in appearance to the New Mexico. When selecting these peppers, you want to find those that are still somewhat pliable, even though they are dried. A really brittle guajillo means it could have been sitting on the shelf for a long time.

One of the keys to developing really good flavor with your salsa is to roast the tomatillos, tomatoes, fresh chilies, onions, and your garlic in a hot skillet, or a hot oven. You want to see blistered skins, some good color, and a pleasant roasted aroma. This really adds to the flavor and complexity of the salsa. And in situations where you want to peel you peppers, a blistered and blackened skin makes for easier peeling. Also, with dried chilies, as well as any ground spices, it always helps to toast them in a warm skillet for a minute or so, just to wake them up and give them a more vibrant flavor and aroma.

Here are a couple of salsas I concocted over the weekend. The first is a green chile-chipotle salsa, a scaled down and very loosely based version of the the tomatillo chipotle sauce recipe from Mark Miller's "Coyote Cafe" cookbook. It is comprised of tomatillos and chipotle peppers, but my addition included roasted poblano chilies and the spices. This salsa blends a nice, tangy tomatillo and mild green chile flavor with a little smoky heat from the chipotles.

The second is a variation of a recipe from "Salsa" that I have been making for ages - a bright red, tomato-based guajillo chile salsa, which is mild, yet flavorful - very much along the lines of what you might think of as a classic red enchilada sauce. This is one of my favorites and I have been making it for years. It has sort of evolved over time, and this is how I made it over the weekend.

Enough talking. Let's start cooking!

Green Chile-Chipotle Salsa
-makes about 4 cups



-1 1/4 lb. tomatillos (about 8), husked, rinsed
-2 poblano chilies
-1 red onion, cut into thick slices
-4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
-2 canned chipotles en adobo
-Juice of 1/2 lime
-1/2 t. ground coriander
-1/2 t. ground cumin
-1/2 t. Mexican oregano
-1/2 t. salt
-Several grinds of fresh black pepper
-Handful of fresh cilantro leaves


In a hot skillet, pan-roast the tomatillos, poblano chilies, red onion, and garlic cloves until the tomatillos and poblanos are brown and blistered, the onion slices have some nice brown color, and the garlic cloves have brown spots on the outer skin.

When cool enough to handle, peel the skin off of the poblanos. Cut open and remove the seeds and veins. Peel the garlic cloves. Add the tomatillos, poblanos, onions, and garlic to a blender.

In a warm skillet, toast the coriander, cumin, and Mexican oregano for about a minute, just to wake up the aroma.

Add the chipotle peppers, lime juice, coriander, cumin, Mexican oregano, salt, and pepper to the blender.

Blend until you have a slightly textured liquid. Add the cilantro (as much as you like - I used a generous handful) to the blender and pulse a couple of times to incorporate.

Guajillo Chile Salsa
-makes about 3 cups



-6 guajillo chilies, seeds and veins removed
-1/2 cup of hot water
-3 Roma tomatoes -OR- 1 14 oz can diced, fire-roasted tomatoes
-1 yellow onion, cut into thick slices
-4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
-1/2 t. ground coriander
-1/2 t. ground cumin
-1/2 t. Mexican oregano
-1/2 t. salt
-Several grinds of fresh black pepper


In a hot, dry skillet, toast the guajillo chilies for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Add the chilies to a blender. Pour in the 1/2 cup of hot water and put the cover on the blender, but do not blend just yet (this will help to soften the chilies). Set aside.

In the same skillet, pan-roast the Roma tomatoes, onion slices, and garlic cloves until the tomatoes are blistered, the onion slices have some nice brown color, and the garlic cloves have brown spots on the outer skin. Set aside. (If using canned fire-roasted tomatoes, simply add them to the blender with the other ingredients right before blending)

Same as the earlier recipe, toast the coriander, cumin, and Mexican oregano for about a minute in the skillet.

When cool enough to handle, peel the garlic cloves. Add the tomatoes, onions, and garlic to the blender, along with all of the remaining ingredients.

Blend until you have a very smooth salsa.

Either one of these salsas is fantastic with chips. And, both are versatile. Here I made chicken and black bean enchiladas, topped with some of the green chile-chipotle salsa before baking. If you wanted red chile enchiladas, simply top them with the guajillo chile salsa before going into the oven. In either situation, you can use the salsa you didn't bake with as a condiment! :) Yum!

Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas



Until next time,

Jean

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Week recap, and fun with eggs

It was a busy week with some decent running and a mixed bag of weather.

My weekday runs were done in anything from sun, to wind, to rain, to fog, to mist. Crazy weather here this week. This morning I ran just over 12 miles on what was an overcast and cool day in the mid 50's. What a treat, especially after running in that humid soaker of a race in Iowa a week ago.

I have seen lots of great birds and wildlife this week, including yellow warblers, common yellowthroats, great egrets, trumpeter swans, great blue herons, and great-crested flycatchers. Lots of babies, too - baby mallards, baby wood ducks, baby robins, and even baby bunnies. Not to leave the insects out, I also rescued a mourning cloak caterpillar from certain doom on the bike trail.

Thursday night I threw together a loose interpretation of a frittata, Italy's baked version of the omelet. More often than not. a frittata is started in a frying pan and transferred to an oven. I decided to bake mine directly in a glass pie plate to give it something of a "deep dish" appearance. And baked egg dishes can be fun. If you whip the eggs and incorporate enough air, they go kind of "souffle-like" when they bake, getting fluffy and puffy in texture and appearance.

Here is what I did:

"Deep Dish" Frittata
-serves 4 to 6



Special equipment:
-9.5 inch glass pie plate

Ingredients:
-Non-stick cooking spray for pie plate
-5 oz. chopped frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
-4 strips of good bacon, cooked, chopped
-3/4 cup grated Provolone cheese
-8 large eggs
-1/3 c. milk
-1/2 t. salt
-1/2 t. black pepper
-Any other seasonings or herbs of choice*
-1/4 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese


Heat the oven to 325 F.

Take the pie plate and coat the inside with non-stick cooking spray

In the bottom of the pie plate, add the chopped spinach (it is very important to squeeze the spinach as dry as possible), bacon, and Provolone cheese, trying to evenly distribute the ingredients.

Beat the eggs with the milk, salt, black pepper, any other seasoning or herbs you like with eggs (*full disclosure - I used several shots of green Tabasco sauce, Mrs. Dash "extra spicy", and a little unsalted Cajun seasoning blend), and the Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese. Whisk until well-incorporated.

Pour the eggs into the pie plate. Don't worry if some of the ingredients float to the top - that is perfectly OK. Transfer to the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the center of the eggs is set and no longer runny.

Allow to cool in the pie plate for 5 to 10 minute. Transfer to a plate or cutting board and cut into wedges, whatever size you like. Leftovers are even fantastic the next day, reheated, or even cold (I caught myself standing in front of the fridge gnawing on a cold piece for breakfast!)

The "Deep Dish" frittata, served up!



I was in a hurry, hence the limited ingredients, but there are a lot of directions you could go here. Onions, garlic, tomatoes, peppers mushrooms, fresh herbs, a variety of cheeses, sausage, diced ham - a frittata is a fantastic blank canvas that encourages you to play with your food!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chicken Wild Rice Hot Dish

Continuation from this post - now, what do you do with that leftover roasted chicken? Why, you can make hot dish! Chicken wild rice hot dish, to be specific. (What can be more Minnesotan than a hot dish cooked with wild rice?).

For this recipe (and most recipes, for that matter), wild rice needs to be cooked ahead of time. My Mom shared with me her method of preparing the rice: Take one part wild rice, and three parts cooking liquid (you could just use water, but that isn't much fun - it is better if you use a chicken stock). Bake in a covered vessel in the oven for about an hour (325 F degrees or so, checking it occasionally to make sure there is adequate cooking liquid). The wild rice is done when the liquid is absorbed and the grains look overcooked and puffy. This makes about three cups of cooked wild rice.

Note: before cooking the wild rice, I added some sauteed aromatic vegetables (carrots, celery, onions, garlic) and fresh herbs (thyme, parsley). Mom says that along with the veggies, crumbled bacon is a great addition as well, and who can argue with that? :) You could make an excellent side dish with this combination.

Many hot dish recipes like this use the canned, condensed, cream of (something) soup as the basis for the sauce, a practice which I endorse and will do on occasion (see Tater Tot Hot Dish). However, this time I went old school and did everything from scratch!

The chicken wild rice hot dish is loosely based on a recipe from the book, "Prairie Home Cooking" by Judith M. Fertig, which contains a collection of outstanding Midwestern recipes. The garlic, white wine, green beans, peas, and fresh herbs are all my additions, and the dried shiitake mushrooms my substitution; otherwise, the recipe is fairly true to the book.

Chicken Wild Rice Hot Dish
-adapted from "Prairie Home Cooking"



-1/4 c. unsalted butter
-1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
-5 cloves garlic, minced
-1/4 c. flour
-1 1/2 c. chicken stock
-1 1/2 c. half-and-half
-1/4 c. white wine
-3 c. leftover cooked chicken
-1/2 c. fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
-1/2 c. frozen peas
-1/2 c. dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated with excess liquid squeezed out
-1/2 c. Italian parsley, finely chopped
-1 T. fresh thyme, finely chopped
-1 T. fresh sage, finely chopped
-Salt and pepper to taste
-3 c. cooked wild rice
-1 c. Muenster cheese, grated


Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Over medium heat in a Dutch oven or large kettle, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Sprinkle in the flour to make a roux. Cook for a couple of minutes, whisking to incorporate. Slowly drizzle in the chicken stock, half-and-half, and wine, whisking as you go so your sauce will be smooth.

Once all of the liquid is in, add the chicken, green beans, and peas. Raise the temperature to a gentle boil, which will help to thicken the sauce. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the mushrooms, parsley, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper. Taste to check the seasoning, adding more of whatever if necessary.

In a 2 quart baking dish, layer the wild rice on the bottom of the dish. Pour the chicken and sauce over the top of the wild rice. Sprinkle the grated Muenster cheese over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly, and the cheese is nicely browned on top. Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

Served up, with a nice piece of the browned cheese on top - yummy!



If you have ever had a chicken wild rice soup (very popular here in Minnesota), this is almost a stew version of that. Thick and hearty, creamy, with tender, flavorful chicken, and a nice nuttiness from the wild rice.

Minnesota on a plate, baby! :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Damp To Damp 20k" - a soaker in Iowa

Friday I hopped in The Silver Hornet and headed south to Des Moines to run in the Dam To Dam 20k, billed as the largest 20k race in the nation.

My "Dam" shirt



This would actually be my fourth race in Des Moines over the past few years, a city I have come to enjoy. It is kind of like a smaller scale version of Minneapolis. I am getting to know how to get around, where to stay, and and where to eat (really, the most important thing!).

One of the most fun things about going to a different city (at least, for me anyhow) is finding a good restaurant. I already knew where I would be dining the moment I signed up for this race. As I did for the Des Moines Marathon last October, I stopped in at the Court Avenue Brewing Company for sustenance. This is a very classy brew pub in the Court District. Lots of nice menu items and homemade beers to choose from.

My dinner was the "BlackHawk BBQ Chop" - a couple of nice pork chops (from heritage breed Duroc pigs) grilled and smothered in a BBQ sauce made with their own stout beer. Sides included mac & cheese, and some zucchini sauteed in garlic. I can't begin to tell you how perfectly cooked the pork chops were. So juicy, and incredibly flavorful. The mac and cheese definitely didn't come from a blue box, either. Outstanding. The mac would have been a nice meal on its own. I washed it down with their "Honest Lawyer" I.P.A., which was delightfully hoppy and refreshing. A great meal all the way around. Go here when you are in Des Moines.

My most excellent meal at the Court Avenue Brewing Company



Fueled by Duroc pork and some great mac and cheese, I felt ready to take on the Dam To Dam. 4:30 AM came rather early, as the buses to the start began to run at 5 AM. A quick check of the Weather Channel gave us some bad news. The southern half of Iowa was under the gun for heavy rain and possible thunderstorms. And the radar was reflecting that, with a big system moving into the Des Moines area.

All of the runners got bussed out in the middle of nowhere to the Saylorville Dam (honestly, the bus ride felt like it was about 50 miles!). Getting off the bus, you have to walk all the way across the dam to get to the starting area. Rain was starting to fall steadily, so after five minutes, every article of clothing was saturated.

Thousands of runners were trying to huddle under trees to offer a mild bit of shelter. Skies to the west and south were dark. A few flashes of lightning were seen, but that was far to the south. Police officers were going around giving instructions to the runners what to do if it starts to lightning here.

By the way, it was still 1 hour until the race started.

So I stood under a tree and got soaked with 7000 of my closest runner buddies. I was becoming mentally fried due to the weather concerns. I mean, there was absolutely no shelter out here if severe weather struck. Not an ideal situation.

But the good news was that the temperature was 70 degrees with ghastly humidity. :) Ugh! This was going to be an interesting day.

Thankfully, severe weather never materialized in our area. With all of the runners herded out onto the dam, the race got underway at 7 AM. Destination, Des Moines!

Funniest line of the race came from a guy who passed me around the 1 mile mark:

"At least it isn't wet and shitty today...because that would really suck!"

Everyone within earshot had a good laugh, and he pretty much summed up everyone's feelings. Hey, at least we can have a sense of humor about this!

The race itself is quite pretty and scenic, even in the bad weather. From the start at the dam, we ran across the dam, through some farmland, and headed south into the city through a mix of parks, along a river, and through residential areas. The finish was right in the heart of downtown Des Moines. On a nice day, this route would be spectacular.

Here are a few things that weren't going well for me:

1. My shoes came untied early in the race. Yes, both of them. I pulled over to the side and retied.

2. About a mile later, my right shoe came untied again. The laces were completely saturated, so there wasn't much grip for the knot. I pulled over again and retied as tightly as I could. For those keeping score at home, that was two unscheduled stops just to tie shoes.

3. The humidity, coupled with the rain, was taking its toll on me. It is bad enough that you feel like you are carrying an extra 10 pounds of water sopped up by your clothes, but add some muggy conditions, and you've got yourself a whole lot of fun!

4. Somehow I managed to miss the Powerade at the first several aide stations. I didn't have a drink of electrolytes until after the 7 mile mark.

5. No additional details are necessary, but let's just say that chafing was occurring due to my saturated clothing.

There have only been three races where I was "waiting for the Lord to take me," as they say. The 2008 Superior 25k (brutally difficult course), the 2009 Get Ready to Rock 20 miler (tropical heat and humidity), and this one. And the Dam To Dam might top the list!

I finished in 1 hour, 53 minutes, and 54 seconds (results here). For some reason, they gave everyone the gun time - no idea what my chip time was, but it had to have been a couple minutes faster. I was hoping to do somewhere in the low 1:40's, but as you can see, there were "issues." Judging by the times, a lot of others were having issues as well.

None of this should detract from what a fine race this is. It was exceptionally well organized from packet pickup, to the bus transportation out there, and I am sure the Race Director and staff were worried to death about the weather. Really, it was a job well done under some difficult circumstances (the local news even said this was the wettest Dam To Dam in the event's 31 year history!).

This is one of two pictures I took on race day, photography limited due to the rain. Here is a shot of the finish area in downtown Des Moines, taken from my hotel room!



And here is a shot of me in my hotel room after the race..."Dam" exhausted!



The hard earned "Dam" medal



Predictably, the rain stopped shortly after I finished. And after checking out and heading home, the drive was most pleasant until I hit the Iowa/Minnesota border where I drove into another rain system. And I am talking heavy rain, the kind where your wipers can't keep up. I drove in steady to heavy rain all the way home. And, predictably, the rain stopped as I pulled into the garage!

So, the Dam To Dam is in the books. It was an interesting adventure, to say the least. As I finish typing this at 4 PM on Sunday, my running shoes are still wet! But in an odd way, even though my performance was abysmal, it was also kind of fun, if for no other reason than to say, "I ran the wettest Dam To Dam in history!" It is something to hold onto, anyhow.

Until next time,

Jean

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cooking and Recipe Index

Not everything here is a specific recipe. Some are my own creations, others contain links to other recipes, and some are just general discussion about what I tried to do conceptually, so my apologies in advance! :) I just wanted to better organize my food posts. This is a work in progress, so bear with me...


Sandwiches

"BBT" - Bacon, Basil, and Tomato Sandwich
Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwich


Pizza

Unless otherwise noted, these pizza recipes were all variants of Alton Brown's pizza dough recipe

Bratwurst & Sauerkraut Pizza
Calzones
Canadian Bacon, Olive, and Green Pepper Pizza with Mom's Homemade Sauce
"Half & Half" Pizza
"Long Hammer I.P.A" Pizza Dough
No-Knead Pizza Dough
No-Knead Sourdough Pizza
Pizza Margherita
Pizza with Pepperoni and Green Olives
Pizza with Pepperoni, Asparagus, Artichoke Hearts, and Four Cheeses
Pizza with Pepperoni, Pancetta, and Fresh Tomato
Pizza with Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil
Pumpkin Pizza Dough with Pumpkin Ale
Slice Pizza Blog Sourdough Pizza


Pasta

Beet Gnocchi
Cheesy, Smoky, Spicy Mac & Cheese with Chicken
Fusilli with Pesto Trapanese
Fusilli with Urban Italian Lamb Ragu
Giada's Lasagna Rolls
Giada's Lasagna Rolls with Shrimp and Crab
Giada's Manicotti
Giada's Scampi on Couscous
Homemade Beet Fettuccine
Homemade Ravioli
Jean's Beef-Noodle Hot Dish
Jean's Fusilli with Italian Sausage, Tomato, Fennel, Pine Nuts, and Golden Raisins
Linguine Carbonarra with Apple-Cinnamon Bacon
Spaghetti all'Amatriciana
Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes, Bacon, and Basil
Summer Spaghetti
Tyler Florence's Baked Rigatoni with Italian Sausage and Eggplant
Uncle Jean's Beet Pasta
Urban Italian Rigatoni Pugliese
Urban Italian Sunday Ravioli
Weeknight Pasta with Egg


Soups

Chicken Noodle Soup
Jean's Beer Chili
Jean's Split Pea Soup with Ham


Fish and Seafood

Cappellini with Lobster, Shrimp, Sweet Garlic, and Artichokes
Maple-glazed Salmon
Shrimp and Coconut Curry with Green Beans


Poultry

Bolognese-style Chicken Ragu
Buffalo Chicken Tater Tot Hot Dish
Cashew Chicken
Chicken Pad Thai
Chicken "Shepherd's Pie"
Chicken Tetrazzini
Chicken Wild Rice Hot Dish
Coq Au Vin
Giada's Balsamic Roasted Chicken
Herb Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Garlic
Lemon-Dill Roasted Chicken
Oven Fried Chicken
Sesame Chicken
Tangerine Chicken Stir-Fry a la Guy Fieri
Thai Basil Chicken with Rice Stick Noodles
Tyler Florence's "Moroccan-Spiced" Roasted Chicken
Urban Italian Chicken Leg Cacciatore


Meat

Alton Brown's Meat Loaf
Beef Pot Roast
Beer Stir-Fry with Mushrooms and Snow Peas
"Black and Tan" Irish Lamb Stew
Breakfast Sausage with Ginger and Sage
Cassoulet with Lamb Shanks and Four Sausages
Eggplant Parmigiana with Prosciutto
Giada's Pork Chops with Fennel and Caper Sauce
Homemade Bacon
Hungarian Beef Goulash
Jean's Spicy Italian Sausage
Meat Loaf a la Alton and Bobby
My "Porchetta" Bacon
Norwegian Meatballs
Oven-Roasted "Pancetta"
Pörkölt (Hungarian pork goulash)
Roasted Venison Loin with Mustard and Red Wine Pan Sauce
Shredded Pork Tacos
Tater Tot Hot Dish
Three Bean Cassoulet with Pheasant and Mixed Sausages


Eggs

Alton's French Omelette
Deep Dish" Frittata
Ultimate "Egg McMuffin"


Side Dishes

Beet Gratin
Bobby Flay's Mustard-Green Onion Potato Salad
Ellie Krieger's Tabbouleh
Jean's "Minnesota Vikings" Gratin Dauphinoise
Minnesota Vikings Potato Salad
Refrigerator Sweet Pickles


Salsas, Spices, Sauces and other things

Chipotle Salsa
Green Chile-Chipotle Salsa
Guajillo Chile Salsa
Homemade Chicken Stock
Homemade Curry Powder
Salsa Fresca
Tomatillo-Serrano Pepper Salsa


Breads

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Honey Cornbread Muffins
Ina Garten's Cheddar-Dill Cornbread
Lefse (Norwegian Potato Flatbread)
Porter Beer & Caraway Rye Bread


Cookies

Black & White Peanut Butter Brownies
Bourbon Pecan Chocolate and Butterscotch Chip Cookies
Chocolate and Butterscotch Chip Cookies with Cinnamon
Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Crisp Squares
Double Chocolate Coffee Toffee Cookies
Giada's Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Jean's Dark Chocolate and Butterscotch Chip Cookies with Toffee
Luna Cafe's Otherworldly Silky Fudgy Brownies
Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate M&M's Cookies
Peanut Butter "Volt" Cookies
S'More Cookie Bars
Soft Chocolate Cookies with Grapefruit and Star Anise

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Happy National Running Day!

I just learned that it is National Running Day. While I didn't do anything "official," I am happy to say I did go running! And it was a very nice run tonight - a comfortable 73 degrees and sunny. Monarch butterflies at everywhere. Wildflowers are blooming. Red-winged blackbirds are still attacking (there is one blackbird I encounter every day at the same spot - it is like clockwork, and I can see him coming after me!). Got to love days like this.

Speaking of the outdoors, here are some shots from my some of my weekend hikes. I spent a ton of time outdoors on Sunday and Monday, and walked around a couple of the area parks. We had gorgeous weather here in MN, and these were some of the sights I was able to see:

"Find the Deer" - mama deer hiding in the trees at Elm Creek



Ruddy duck at Elm Creek. This was a new "life lister" for me, so I was very excited to find him!



A field of prairie flowers at Crow-Hassan Park Reserve



Some of the biggest wild roses I have ever seen, found at Crow-Hassan Park Reserve



Also at Crow-Hassan, a gorgeous wooded trail surrounded by a canopy of maple trees

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lemon-Dill Roasted Chicken

I love roasted chicken, and I recently made one with my favorite flavor combination - lemon and dill.

In addition to loving roasted chicken, I love fresh dill. My Norwegian brother in culinary arms, chef Andreas Viestad, speaks passionately about dill in his cookbook, "Kitchen of Light," and insists on using a lot of it. It is a very delicate herb, and when stuffed inside of the chicken, it will gently flavors the meat as it roasts. And when additional chopped dill is applied to skin with some butter, those bits of dill get crispy and sweet. Sort of a one-two punch of dill!

This is very simple to do - Take a nice 3 1/2 to 4 lb. chicken. Stuff the empty cavity with a head of garlic (sliced in half), a couple of lemon wedges, and a few stalks of fresh dill and fresh parsley. Truss the bird with kitchen string, rub with butter, salt, pepper, and more chopped fresh dill. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the chicken just before going in the oven.

Roast in a 350 F oven, basting with the cooking juices every 30 minutes, and cook for approximately 90 minutes, or until cooked through and all juices are running clear (meaning, no visible red color in the chicken juices and cooked to an internal temperature of 165 F at the thickest part of the bird). Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving. You should have something that looks like this:

Out of the oven - golden, brown, and delicious



I made a quick pan sauce with some of the drippings, along with white wine and Dijon mustard, and enjoyed it with a red new potato and fresh steamed green beans



Of course, you can use whatever herb you like here if you aren't into dill - sage, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, etc. But I am Norwegian. And I love my dill!

And what do you do with any leftovers? I am sensing a hot dish in my future. More to come...

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