December 30, 2006

Chicken with Zuni Goodness

Bethany got me the Zuni Cookbook for Christmas. Yesterday we made their roast chicken. It is quite similar to our usual chicken recipe, with a bit of fussing about with flipping the chicken, and a nice bread salad as a side. Also, they like to salt/herb the chicken ahead of time. It turned out quite well. My only modifications were to add a thermometer for the last step to double check things and to use a few more herbs. The book is quite good. Not just a collection of recipes, it has a lot of cooking tips and wisdom.

From Emily I got the Bouchon and French Laundry books. They are also quite good. The Bouchon book has a lot of insight into Keller's cooking techniques and Bistro cooking. I've made the Pots de Crème and look forward to trying my hand at some other bistro fare.

December 13, 2006

French Onion Soup

A couple of Sunday's ago I got up and made French Onion soup. It was based mainly on a Michael Mina recipe that I found in Food and Wine. We liked it a lot, although Emily thought I was a little heavy handed with the onions. I'll reproduce my version below for posterity.

French Onion Soup
5 onions, sliced 1/4" thick
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 sprigs rosemary
2 cups beef stock
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup dry red wine (I used a malbec)
Heat the butter in a dutch oven. Add the onions and bay leaves, cover and cook on high heat for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and cook until they are deeply brown. Stir occasionally. Add water as necessary to keep the onions from drying out. It should take an hour and a half.

Sprinkle on the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the wine and reduce until it is almost gone. Add the stock and rosemary, simmer gently until reduced by a quarter.

Discard the whole herbs and season to taste. If some leaves broke off the rosemary, don't worry about it.

At this stage you can refrigerate or freeze the soup. When you're ready, reheat it.

Put it in small bowls. Add toasted baguette slices, sprinkle with cheese, and broil until the cheese is melted.

November 30, 2006

Mini Chickens

Last Sunday I decided to make braised lamb shanks with orzo. I ended up using Bobby Flay recipe. It turned out quite well, but next time I'd de-fat the sauce before reducing it. The leftover sauce had a lot of gelatin in it. In the fridge it set up like jello. The leftovers are in the fridge, waiting to be turned into shepherd's pie.

While I was at the butcher's, I picked up a couple of cornish game hens. I figured that they'd make cute little individual chickens. I used my usual roast chicken recipe - I carefully stuffed an herb/oil/garlic mixture under the skin and salted and oiled the outside. I cooked it breast down for 10 minutes, then turned it over and covered it with bacon to keep it moist. I would have roasted potatoes with it, but after having the cheesy mashed potatoes, I don't think Emily will let me make potatoes any other way.

The chicken was quite good, although I'd cut back on the marjoram a bit and serve it without the bacon. The hens were a bit more work to prepare than a turkey, and perhaps more to eat (I need some steak knives), but it was fun and tasty.

November 19, 2006


A lot has happened since the last post, between announcing my engagement, work, and finishing stuff on the house, I left out my blog.

On October 6th I proposed to Emily. She knew it was coming, but the ring was finished ahead of time, so I still managed to surprise her. The ring arriving early was unexpected. I had to move quickly to keep it a surprise, so the proposal wasn't as elaborate as I would have liked.

As you can see from my cooking calendar, we had chocolate gelato and champagne with Dan and Carmen, and Emily and I just had a caesar salad for dinner - neither of us were very hungry.

Last Friday we passed our final inspection on the house. One less thing for me to worry about. We still have painting to do, but the city is happy with the important stuff and all of our permits are closed out.

No food pictures for the last few weeks. I didn't make a lot of new dishes. Last weekend I tried to make fish stock, but the fishmonger didn't have the right bones for me. I did make about a gallon of chicken stock, however. Last monday, we had a classic french preparation of mussels. (Steamed with wine, butter, and cream.)

Last night I made "Midwestern Fajitas" – or perhaps I should call them Fajitas al Cacciatore (Hunter's Fajitas) – my usual fajita recipe made with venison flank steak. They didn't have the skirt steak that I usually use, so I figured that the venison flank would have a bit more flavor and be healthier than the beef. The steak was rather thin - like a butterflied beef flank steak - so I only cooked it for about 30-45 seconds per side. It turned out quite well. I'd definitely make it again.

October 29, 2006

Cowboy Steak

Saturday night I made a cowboy steak, which essentially is a two inch slice of a standing rib roast. We had green beens and garlic/rosemary mashed potatoes on the side.

Dry age the steak for a day by wrapping it in a towel and putting it on a plate near the top front of the fridge. I set mine on a couple of chopsticks to keep it off of the plate.

Heat up your broiler, and rub the steak with oil, salt, and minced rosemary. Broil it in a cool cast iron skillet for 5 minutes per side. Remove the steak to a plate, to rest, and season it with some pepper. In the skillet, on medium-high heat sauté some green beens and minced shallots in the pan. Remove the green beans with a slotted spoon, and toss with a dash of rice wine vinegar and salt.

Deglaze the pan with some red wine and an equal amount of broth. (I used chicken, I didn't have been handy.) Reduce the liquid by about half, turn the heat down, and stir in some cold butter (about the same amount as the wine).

Since we were splitting the steak and I have no steak knives, I sliced it into 1/2" thick slices, cut out the fatty bits, and plated it with the beans and mashed potatoes, and drizzled some of the sauce on top. I also sprinkled on a bit of grated parmesan.

The steak was good but the mashed potatoes were the star of the show.

Garlic Rosemary Mashed Potatoes
These would go well with Peach/Bourbon pork chops, Roast Chicken, Beef or Lamb steaks, or grilled, herby portobello mushrooms.
5-6 largish red potatoes
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp butter
1 handful grated parmesan
1/2 handful grated pecorino romano
1 tbsp minced, fresh rosemary
Cut the potatoes into chunks, with the skin on and boil until they are cooked through.

Meanwhile, roast the garlic cloves, skin on, in a dry cast iron skillet for about 10 minutes on high heat. The skin of the garlic should have black spots all over. Let the garlic cool.

Put the rest of the ingredients in a small pan, bring to a gentle simmer, and stir until the cheese and butter melts in. Squeeze the garlic out of the skin, smash it with the side of a knife, and add it to the pan.

Drain the potatoes, put then in a pot, pour in the cream mixture and mash together. I like to leave some chunks of potatoes for texture, so I don't mash too thoroughly. If you need more liquid, you can add some whole milk, cream, or butter.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Or pecorino and pepper.)

October 03, 2006


Sunday I did a tagine of lamb. I used a Bobby Flay recipe off of Food Network, probably not the best choice since it's not his area of expertise, but their kitchens tune most of their recipes. It turned out ok, but wasn't my best work. (The harissa doesn't look right either, but I don't know moroccan food.) I think it needed a bit more spice and probably could stand to cook a while longer.

I also made a ersatz papalote salsa that I found on the internet - it also was so-so. It seems to be lacking some depth, and was a bit different from the real thing. For now I think I'll stick with Rick Bayless' recipes techniques, as I've barely begun to explore his books.

We had my fajitas in a wok again last night and had Dan and Carmen over to share them with us. They were good, I used the salsa to season the rice to good effect, and also served it with the rest of the food. I also made guacamole with heirloom tomatoes, unfortunately I'd forgotten to pick up a jalapeño, but it was still good. For dessert, we made sopapillas, which I highly recommend because they are so easy to throw together. Just heat up some oil in a pan on medium high heat, fry a flour tortilla for a minute per side, dust with cinnamon and sugar, let it cool, and drizzle with honey. I usually cut them into quarters.

In other news, we've now passed plumbing and electrical inspections - we only have the final inspection left. Emily is making progress painting the house - the office is almost ready, we'll do our bedroom next.

September 24, 2006

Indian Redux

On friday we had pizza with Dan and Carmen, so I had to come up with something else to cook. Emily has been hinting that she wanted stuffed Naan so I decided to make one of those Southern Indian dipping sauces for it.

Tonight, I made the meat stuffed Naan, some paneer (fresh cheese) stuffed Naan, mango chutney, raita, rice, and Murgh Korma (a chicken curry). I hadn't made the cheese or the chicken dish before. Emily has declared the Korma to be her new favorite Indian dish, but that still may be second to the stuffed Naan. :)

Rasam (lentil soup)

This a nice lentil/tomato soup that can be served it's own with some cilantro and a dollop of sour cream or used as a dipping sauce for Naan.
1/4 cup tanish lentils (tuar dal)
1/4 cup red lentils (masoor dal)
4-5 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp tamarind extract
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp hing (aka asafoetida - I left it out)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
1/2 tsp fennugreek seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 bunch cilantro (for garnish)
I usually use chunks of chicken, with bone in, and skin removed, cut into chunks. (Thighs and legs hacked in half, to get some of the marrow flavor into the sauce.)

Cook the lentils in water. Roast and grind the cumin and mustard seeds. Grind the fennugreek and fennel. Add the tomatoes and spices. Simmer for a while.

If you can get it, add 1/2 tsp of hing and a handful of curry leaves.

Adjust the seasoning with salt, tamarind extract, and garam masala.

To serve as a soup, garnish with cilantro, yogurt or sour cream, and maybe a squeeze of lime juice. For a dipping sauce, optionally puree the rasam.

Paneer Cheese
1 quart milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
Simmer the milk for about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice a little at time, while stirring, until the curds separate from the whey. Pour into a clean tea towel in a collander. Season to taste. Tie up the towel and hang it to drain for 10 min or so. Press it under a weight for an hour or so and then unwrap and refrigerate.

Murgh Korma

Adapted from Quick and Easy Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey.
1.5 pounds chicken pieces (with or without bones)
1/4 cup yogurt
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
2 in cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods
3 cloves
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 small tomatoes
1 in piece of ginger
5-6 cloves garlic
1 tbsp heavy cream
1 pinch saffron (optional)
garam masala
Mix the yogurt with the dry spices (corriander, ground cumin, and chili powder). Lightly whip the yogurt until it's smooth and use it to marinade the chicken. (From a half hour to 3 hours.)

Heat the cream in a microwave and add the saffron. (Be careful not to overheat or it will boil over.)

Mince the garlic and ginger and add a tablespoon of water.

Put the oil on high heat. Add the whole spices (cardamom, cloves, cumin, cinnamon, bay leaf) and fry for 15 seconds or so. Add the onions and cook until they brown a bit. Add the garlic/ginger paste and fry for 30 sec or so. Add the tomatoes and fry. Add the chicken, its marinade, and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, turning the chicken occasionally.

Uncover, add the cream mixture, and cook on high for 8 minutes or so, while stirring, until the sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and garam masala.

Dan's Birthday (observed)

Last night we celebrated Dan's birthday. We had dinner at the blue plate, which serves somewhat american food from high quality, local ingredients. Well, the reviews say american. Beef Carpaccio was on the menu and most of us had the Duck Confit, but there was a Meatloaf on the menu, which Dan had. As usual Emily and I split all of our dishes - two appetizers and an entree, so we could get some variety without having too much food. The confit came with this cute little spherical red peppers that were halfway between pepperonicini and red bell peppers. Unfortunately I don't remember their name. (They were just on Bobby Flay - cherry peppers). Afterwards, we had cake from Citizen Cake and opened gifts.

September 11, 2006

Indian Night

Last Sunday we had Indian food. Drewes brothers didn't have any appropriate cuts of lamb on hand, so I used beef instead of lamb. We invited Dan and Carmen to join us, and played a board game afterwards. Instead of the usual dishes, I made Saag Ghosht, Naan stuffed with ground meat, and a couple of dipping sauces for the Naan.

Saag Gosht
From Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking.
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
6-7 cloves
2 bay leaves
6 cardamom pods
6 oz onions, finely chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 in cube of ginger, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp corriander, ground
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
2 tsp salt
5 tbsp yogurt, beaten
2 lb fresh spinach, finely chopped (or frozen)
2 lb lamb shoulder in 1in cubes (or beef chuck)
1/4 tsp garam masala

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the whole spices. Stir for a few seconds until they start to darken and become fragrant. Add the onions, and cook until they start to brown (5 minutes or so). Add the garlic and ginger and cook for half a minute. Add the cumin, corriander, cayenne. Add the meat and 1 tsp of salt. Cook for about a minute while stirring. Then add the yogurt, one tablespoon at a time. Stir in each tablespoon before adding the next. Add the spinach and another teaspoon of salt. Stir until the spinach wilts down. Cover tightly, turn the heat to low and simmer for about an hour and a half (two hours for beef) - until the meat is tender.

Remove the lid, turn the heat up to medium and simmer off most of the liquid. You should have a thick green sauce.

Add the garam masala, season to taste and serve.


Also from Indian Cooking. I stuffed it with the keema below and used Raita and Green Mango Chutney for dipping.
150 mL warm milk
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp dried active yeast
1 lb flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp oil
150 mL yogurt
1 large egg lightly beaten
Mix the milk, 1 tsp of sugar, and yeast in a bowl. Let it sit until it starts to get fizzy.
Put the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Add 1 tsp sugar, the yeast mixture, the oil, yogurt and egg. Mix, knead, and form int a ball. Let it raise for an hour. Punch it down, roll into a tube, and cut into 6 balls.

Roll out each ball into a thin flat loaf (think pizza dough) and cook it in the oven. Jaffrey suggests your heaviest baking pan on the highest temperature. I used a pizza stone the first time I made this. This time, I used the flat side of a cast iron grill pan underneath a broiler. (If you have room, you could use the bottom of a large cast iron skillet.) Put the bread on the preheated surface, and cook until it turns golden brown. (It should take a few minutes, but keep an eye on it.)

To make the stuffed naan make an hole in the ball of dough and add a couple of tablespoons of the filling. Close up the hole, forming into a ball again, and roll out the bread as flat as you can get it without losing the filling.

This is the stuffing for the naan. It is an original recipe following Indian techniques. I ground the beef myself with a food processor. If you choose to do this, pulse it and be careful not to go too far, or you'll get beef paste.
1/2 lb ground lamb (or beef chuck)
1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
2 tsp minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Put a skillet on medium-high heat. Add some oil and the onion and cook until they start to brown. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so. Add the dry spices and meat and cook. Season to taste with salt, pepper, cumin seeds, and cayenne. (This is designed to be a little spicy and earthy, to be balanced by the dipping sauces.)


This is adapted from Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey.
1 cup yogurt
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 handful mint, finely chopped
1/2 English cucumber, grated
Wisk the yogurt to lighten it up a bit, then wisk in the rest of the ingredients. Adjust the seasoning to taste. (The cayenne and cumin should be in the background, just a hint of bite and earthiness to accent the mint/yogurt.)

Fresh Green Mango Chutney

This recipe was adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's book, Quick and Easy Indian Cooking.
1 lb green mango, diced
1-2 jalapeños, minced
1" piece of fresh ginger, minced.
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp fennugreek seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp kalonji seeds (omitted - I don't know what they are)
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2-3 tbsp sugar
Gind the seeds, chuck everything into a food processor. (I seeded the chilis, but left the membrane). Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Indian Rice

This also is my own recipe, and it varies each time I make it. Here is what I made last night.
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil
4 cloves
5 peppercorns
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 cup rice
1 1/2 cups water
Heat the butter and oil on medium or medium high heat, being careful not to burn the butter. (Don't worry if it browns a little.) Fry the whole spiced for about 30 seconds or so. They should make popping noises and smell fragrant. Add the rice and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the liquid and turmeric. Bring to a simmer. Give the pot one stir, cover and turn the heat to low. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off. Wait 5 minutes before removing the cover.

Garam Masala
This one also comes from Indian Cooking. You can buy it from a store, but it will not be as good. Garam Masala is frequently added to Indian dishes at the end of cooking.
1 tbsp cardamom
2" cinnamon
1 tsp black cumin seeds
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/4 nut nutmeg, grated
Grind in a spice grinder or mortar/pestle. Store in an airtight spice jar.

September 10, 2006

Catch up

It's been a couple of weeks since the previous post. In the meantime, I've moved my blog over to blogger so people can actually reply to my posts. My cooking exploits for the last few weeks:
The 26th and 27th marked a weekend of laying in supplies. In addition to making the Roast tenderloin and apricot/bourbon pork chops, I put together some cioppino stew base; made some homemade chicken broth and a simple red mole sauce out of it; and I made a batch of pizza crusts for Emily.

The next friday, we made the Cioppino for Dan and Carmen, and on the 8th I made my first attempt at seafood paella. It turned out well, but I didn't use enough liquid, so I had to add some halfway through and adjust the cooking accordingly. I used mussels, clams, squid, and chorizo for the Paella. The sofrito was tomatoes, red bell pepper, onions, etc, and there was a bit of white wine in there somewhere.

I couldn't bring myself to buying a Paella pan - they're cheap, but tricky to heat evenly; so I bought a nice, but much more expensive 12" All-Clad skillet to use instead. (It is enjoyable to cook with, since I got it, I also made chicken cacciatora and Fregula con Cocciola. For a lid, I either make a cartouche of wax paper or use the le Creuset lid, which happens to fit slightly below the top of the pan. I will post a recipe the next time I cook it, but I got the general technique from an article from Fine Cooking's web site. It is the best article I could find on the web, explaining the general philosophy, providing a recipe, and variations. (Don't miss the second page and a couple of links with details.)

August 23, 2006

Leftover Night

As I mentioned in my previous post, we had "leftovers" tonight. Which means we took the leftover stew base from our cioppino, added some tomatoes, saffron, a pinch of new mexico chile powder, and a bit of chicken broth. Cooked up some fregula pasta in it, and then a dozen clams. (We found a bonus clam in the stew, but Emily ate it before we got to the fregula part.) The result was quite tasty. Not quite as soupy as the version at La Ciccia, but very good.I'll add a photo when Emily puts it up on flickr. (She's busy backing up photos at the moment - 15 CDs so far.)

August 22, 2006

San Francisco Treat

On Monday we made Cioppino, a seafood stew which originated in San Francisco. We used a recipe from food network, substituting lobster for crab because of availability.

This was was the first time I've cooked mussels, scallops, clams, and lobster. The Cioppoino also included shrimp, which I've worked with before. I've cooked squid before too, but I left it out this time.

the face of evil seafood trifecta

The stew base was made with a homemade fish stock that we put together on Sunday. The stew was very tasty by itself and would have made a very good meal with a can of white beans.

We decided to eat all of the meat, because we weren't sure how well cooked seafood keeps. There was some leftover broth, which we plan on cooking up with some Fregula (a toasted pasta similar to large cous-cous), saffron, and clams.

More pictures can be found in Emily's flickr collection.

I'd recommend making the stew base ahead of time, after which you can easily throw this together on a weeknight. (Otherwise, it'll take 30-45 min to put the base together.) Definitely serve with crusty bread, preferrable sourdough. And give your guests plenty of napkins or a nice, wet towel. Peeling shrimp, etc at the table can be messy. You could peel the seafood prior to serving, but that does take some of the fun out of it. :)

August 21, 2006

Steak Fajitas

And now, the steak fajita recipe. This started out as an Alton Brown recipe which mutated when I reproduced it from memory. We had this for Emily's birthday on thursday, then we used the leftovers, with a bit of cheese, to make cheesesteak sandwiches.
Rich pointed out that proper fajitas would not use soy sauce and would use poblanos rather than bell peppers. The version below is how I have been making them and is more asian in character than south-western. This is mainly because asian techniques are what I know well. (If you want to use poblanos, roast them first and don't use soy sauce - I think it will overwhelm the poblanos.)


1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup oil
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp sugar
1 lb flank steak (or skirt steak)
2 tsp chili powder


1 onion
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
2 lb flank steak (or skirt steak)

Mix the marinade ingredients together, put the meat in the marinade, and let sit for a half hour to an hour. (Turning at least once.) Dry off the meat and reserve the marinade. Rub each side with chili powder, and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a large cast iron skillet on high heat. Add the flank steak, cooking for 2 minutes on each side. Let the meat rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, add some oil to the skillet. Add the onions and cook them until they soften and color up a bit. Add the peppers and sprinkle with a little bit of chili powder. Fry for a minute or so. Add the marinade and cook down for a minute.
Pour the veggies on a plate. Slice the meat into thin slices against the grain and cut into 2 inch lengths. If the meat is too rare for your tastes, you can stir fry it in the pan briefly, but be careful not to overcook it. If you cook it past medium it will be chewy.
Serve with Mexican rice, black beans, pico de gallo, and tortillas.

Alton Brown's Chili Powder
3 ancho chilis
3 cascabel chiles
3 dried arbol chiles
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika

Roast the chiles and cumin seeds in a dry skillet. (10 sec / side for the chiles, be careful not to burn them) Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles. Put them in a blender and process into a powder. Store in an airtight container.

August 11, 2006

How to Roast a Chicken

This is the recipe which Emily has dubbed Chicken with Herby Goodness. I developed it from a few Jamie Oliver recipes, the first of which was in The Naked Chef, a Jamie Oliver book. A few variations follow the recipe, but this is our favorite.

Chicken with Herby Goodness

One 2-3 pound free range chicken
3 handfuls of herbs (any 3 or 4 of thyme, basil, marjoram, and parsley)
2-3 bay leaves
1 lemon

1 lb potatoes, cut into 1/2" chunks
1 celery root, cut into 1/2" chunks
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 garlic cloves, crushed (don't bother removing the skin)
Preheat a roasting pan in the oven to 425 degrees.

Wash the chicken inside and out and pat dry. (If it came with extra bits, you can save it in the freezer for broth.) Rub some kosher salt on the inside of the chicken.

Chop up the herbs, mix in some salt, olive oil, and a little pepper. Gently separate the skin from the breasts of the chicken and stuff the herbs between the skin and the meat. Afterwards, try to make sure the skin covers all of the meat. Cut a couple of slashes into the legs and thighs (so heat can penetrate) and stuff the herbs under the skin and into the slashes. Rub some oil and salt on the outside of the chicken.

Cut the potatoes into 1/2" chunks, boil them for 5-10 min, along with the lemon.

Drain the potatoes. Take the lemon, stab it about 10 times with a knife, and stuff it into the middle of the chicken, along with the bay leaves, rosemary, and garlic cloves.

Put the potatoes and celery root into the pan, put the chicken on top, put a thermometer in the middle of the breast, and put it in the oven. (You can tie up the chicken if you wish.)

When the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees, take it out of the oven. Cover it with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Carve the chicken and serve with the potatoes and chickeny rice. (I usually cut the breasts in half, and separate the legs from the thighs, so people can get a bit of each kind of meat.)

Chickeny Rice

1 cup rice
1 tbsp butter
2 cups chicken broth
1 small tomato chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 small onion, chopped

Add a tablespoon of butter and about tablespoon of light olive oil to a pan on the stove over medium heat. Add the onions and cook the for 5-10 minutes, till they soften up. (Try not to burn the butter, the oil should help.) Add the rice and let it cook for a minute or so, while stirring. It should turn a little opaque. Add the tomatoes, and let them cook down for half a minute. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil. Add the Bay leaf and rosemary sprig, stir once. Cover and reduce heat to low. Let it simmer for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off, and leave it covered for another 5 minutes.


If you want to reduce the prep/cooking time: instead of boiling the lemon, you can cut it into four chunks and stuff it in the chicken. Then put the chicken in the oven and start the potatoes. Pull the chicken out after 30 minutes, put the potatoes under the chicken, and put it back in the oven until it is done. (BTW, the easiest way I've found to pick up the chicken is to stick a fork in the cavity.)

For an alternative stuffing (under the skin), you can melt some butter (1/4 cup or so) mix in some thyme, lemon zest, and chopped up prosciutto.

August 03, 2006

Night Out

Last night Emily and I went out to dinner at Café Claude and went to see Rent at the Golden Gate Theatre. Emily got the Tuna tartare, which was arranged in a low rectangular shape, topped with a quail egg in half a shell, and festively garnished with bits of red pepper, etc. I had the lamb, which was also quite tasty, and came with a nice sauce, and a single plumb tomato which had been poached, possibly in something other than water. It was quite tasty, one of the better tomatoes I've had in a while. (That reminds me, it's farmer's market day.) Dessert was chocolate cake and Creme Brulée. Service was good, Café Claude is proudly French, as is most of its staff.

Next was Rent. We managed to get some decent seats at a reasonable price. We had a mild earthquake during the opening number, but it didn't interrupt anything (there was brief murmering in the crowd). The performances weren't as good as the movie version, but it was nice to see it live. I'll let Emily post a proper review. The next show for us will be Chorus Line in a few weeks.

August 01, 2006

Rigatoni con Salsiccia

Here is yet another recipe that will go into the book when I get around to putting it together.

This one originally came from Tastes of Italia magazine. It's fast, easy, and has been a favorite of friends and family. The recipe can also be made with baby spinach or basil in place of arugula, and tortiglioni or penne rigate in place of the rigatoni. (But not penne - the sauce is thing and really needs the ridges on the pasta.) And if you have old, syrupy balsamic vinegar, use something cheaper for this and save the good stuff for bread or dessert.

1 lb rigatoni
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup roma tomatoes, diced
4 bunches arugula
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb sweet italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
parmesan cheese

Cook the rigatoni, keeping 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
Remove the casings from the sausage and crumble the contents.
Add the oil and pepper flakes to a skillet on medium heat and brown the
sausage. Deglaze with the balsamic vinegar. Turn down the heat and add
the tomatoes and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the pasta, arugula, and reserved water to the sausage mixture. Cook
on low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Serve with parmesan on top.

Fillet Redux

Tonight I made the beef fillet again. This time I used a smallish, one pound piece from the smaller end of the fillet, which our butcher sells at a reduced price. Since it was small, I made the dish in a cast iron skillet. I preheated the skillet in the oven to 350 degrees.

I cut some assorted potatoes into chunks, parboiled them for about 10 minutes, and then drained them.

Meanwhile, I mashed up some rosemary leaves, thyme leaves, oil, salt, pepper, and garlic, spread it on the fillet, rolled the fillet in the prosciutto, and tied it.

I dumped the potatoes into the pan, added the fillet, stuck in a thermometer, and cooked it to 120 degrees.

(Note: I now take this dish out at of the oven between 95 and 100 degrees - remove the meat from the skillet and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting - if you leave it in the skillet, it will continue to cook.)

After resting, the beef was overdone (medium-well) but tasty. The potatoes turned out really well - there were no leftovers. I'd definitely do the potato thing again, although I'd take it out a bit earlier, and use higher heat, 425 or so. (It took too long and didn't cook as evenly as I'd have liked.)

To serve it, I sliced the fillet into one inch thick slices, put it back on the potatoes (in the skillet), and poured the juices on top.

The original recipe came from The Naked Chef Takes Off, by Jamie Oliver. It calls for a butter, porcini mushroom, and herb mixture, which I highly recommend if you don't have mushroom allergies.

July 27, 2006


I'm experimenting with a new journal system from sixapart called vox. I've made a few entries there.

Update: I've moved from vox to blogger beta, so friends and family can actually reply to my posts. As an added bonus, I got a bit more control over the layout. I will eventually move all of these posts over to that site. See me at:

July 26, 2006

Home Alone

Carmelized Shrimp
Emily is working in the evenings this week, so I'm left to fend for myself for dinner. I've taken the opportunity to experiment a little. On monday, I made Indian food, Saag Gosht (lamb with spinach) and a chick pea dish. I brought them to work the next day and fed the leftovers to my coworkers.Last night, I made a vietnamese dish - caramelized shrimp. It was very easy and tasty.

My version of the recipe: (the original recipe comes from Charles Phan of The Slanted Door)


  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
Stir Fry
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced
  • 2 scallions, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1/2 lb shrimp (approx)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp chili oil
Mix the sauce ingredients together, dissolving the sugar. (The original recipe calls for bringing it to a boil to dissolve the sugar, I didn't need to.)

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet.
Stir fry the garlic and onion until they are golden brown.
Add the shrimp, pepper, and the sauce. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the sauce thickens up a bit.
Add the scallions and cook for about 30 sec.

I served it on rice. Cook and plate the rice before you start the stir fry, the dish comes together fast.

July 23, 2006


Dan and Carmen have finally moved into the bottom unit. I helped Dan with the big stuff yesterday. It's a nice feeling having the place to ourselves. Yes, I will miss having them around, but they are just downstairs, so it's not that big of a deal. Their place is beautiful, although full of boxes at the moment, I look forward to seeing how they decorate.
Yesterday, I also put together a meal from the show Oliver's Twist. I made Cannelloni (hope I spelled that right, Emily has had great fun correcting me) with a Ricotta/Spinach filling, in a fresh tomato/basil sauce, topped with mozzarella and parmesan, and baked in the oven. For dessert, I make some candied strawberries with a mascarpone/rosemary/limoncello sauce. I'll add a picture of the dessert as soon as Emily gets it posted. (I should have photographed the food, too. Oh well.)
I've been thinking of assembling a cookbook. Between Dan and Carmen living with me, my parents visiting, and Emily flying off to visit her sister, I've had a few requests for recipes for the food people have enjoyed while visiting. I'd like them to be able to make some of it for themselves.

July 17, 2006

Pasta al forno

I got a preview account on vox to test it out. It looks very promising - attractive interface and integration with Flickr and Amazon. Over to the right, you'll see the book I mentioned a while back on my livejournal blog, Jamie's Italy. I still highly recommend it if you like Italian food. (It won't be available in this country for a few more months, still.)
On Sunday, I made the dish on page 144, a baked orecchiette dish with tomatoes (san marzano!), basil, mozzarella, and parmesan. We topped the dish with some sliced heirloom tomatoes. It was quite tasty. Emily and I saw the dish on an episode of Jamie Oliver's Great Italian Escape on Saturday. I checked the book for the recipe, and it was there, with a still picture from the show.

July 07, 2006

Yay Fourth

I got a nice four day weekend fourth and didn't get much productive done, but I got to unwind a bit (i.e. play games), hang out with Emily, and cook.

Saturday, I made Alton Brown's Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese recipe. It is quite quick, the sauce comes together in the time it takes to make the pasta. The sauce is nice and creamy, but it didn't turn out so well for us because I used a 2-yr cheddar, which was way too intense for this dish. (We toned it down a little with sour cream, but it wasn't enough.) That evening Emily and I went to Andalu - we got a fondue with apples and asian pears, tuna tacos, and rosemary braised lamb cheeks with parmesan mashed potatoes. It was all good, they had to bring us more bread so we could finish the fondue, the tacos were cute (basically a tuna ceviche on a tiny fried taco shell with some melted yellow cheese - a bit sweet, and I might loose or change the cheese if I did it myself), and the lamb was very tender.

Sunday, I rendered some pork fat into lard for use in mexican dishes. (Rick Bayless says homemade is better, so I figure why not.) Then, for dinner, I made the peach and bourbon pork chop recipe that Carmen usually makes, per Emily's request. (Which is high praise, given that she hasn't been a fan of pork chops in the past and doesn't like mustard.) One modification is necessary: the pork chops should be cut to 1.5", not the 3/4" specified in the recipe. Chops off of the ends are better for braising, according to various web sites. I cooked it in an uncovered french oven with a thermometer set to 145 and it turned out well. (I also made the mayonnaise myself - it's easy and better than the stuff that comes in jars.)

On Monday I made Fajitas again. I'll have to write up the recipe, since it was improvised (I also use it for steak enchiladas).

For the fourth, we had a "BBQ". We decided to go more traditional, so I got some ground beef, hotdogs, and bockwurst from Drewes Brothers. Carmen mentioned the orange soy ribs, so I picked up a half rack of babyback ribs, and I also got a chicken because I wanted to make another batch of the red mole sauce.

I started on the mole sauce (poaching a chicken, toasting spices and dried peppers, and roasting tomatoes and bread) a little before lunch. For lunch, I boiled some spinach ravioli from Lucca and threw together a sauce with parmesan, white wine, garlic, and butter. (I also added some cream, but I'd gotten the butter to emulsify in the wine, so it wasn't necessary.) I do like the sauce, I think I'll do some fettucini with it sometime. Afterwards, Emily and I made some white sangria from the leftover wine (a kabinett riesling), and I finished the mole. I then took a break to play Oblivion.

For dinner, I used a grill pan across two burners of the gas stove. I think this was the first time that I'd actually cooked hamburgers, but they turned out well (or medium well :). I mixed a little onion and garlic in the beef, seasoned it, and grilled the patties, taking care not to press them. (That causes them to cook faster, but dries them and removes all the flavor.) We also had bockwurst, a veal/pork sausage with a little herby goodness, and hotdogs for the less adventurous. Unfortunately, I managed to burn Carmen and myself when I handed her a plate that had been sitting next to the stove. The side I was holding was cool, but the other side had been close to the stove and had gotten very hot. (She tossed the plate onto the empty part of the stove, and I instinctively grabbed it, not realizing how hot it was. We both have second degree burns on our hands.)


June 26, 2006


Sunday was a day for shopping and cooking. Emily and I went to Target, BevMo, Trader Joe's, and the 21st Ammendment. (I wanted to pick up some of their Watermelon Wheat beer.) Afterwards I embarked on a few cooking projects: I made some stock and some chili powder to replenish supplies (and get some carcasses out of the freezer).

Then we made cheese and basil tortellini. It was my first attempt at making pasta. I pretty much fudged the pasta recipe, using four cups of semolina and enough eggs to get a dough (about 6). The cheeses were a soft goat cheese, parmesean, pecorino, and asiago; I mixed in a good handful or two of basil, a bit of olive oil and a dab of sour cream to get it to bind, and then seasoned it. I served the tortellini with a simple red sauce and accompanied it with a pizza margherita that Emily made.

The pasta was decent, but they were a bit large and misshapen, and the dough was a bit chewy, even though I cooked it for the specified 4 min. I think I didn't make the dough thin enough and cut the circles too big. The process was a bit labor intensive; I'd probably do it again, but I'm more likely to try ravioli next time. :)

In related news, I'm keeping a record of what I'm cooking in a google calendar - mostly for my own records, but feel free to peruse it.


June 24, 2006

Farmer's Market

On Saturday, Emily and I went to the farmer's market at the Ferry Building. Emily got plenty of photos of the Ferry Building and its surrounds, which can be found in the usual location. We held off on getting the perishables until the very end, so I missed out on the Fatted Calf bacon that I'd read about. (I did pick up some pancetta, though.) I broke down and bought a bottle of some amazing 10 yr old balsamic vinegar from Village Market (they were giving out samples). Then we sampled some oysters at San Francisco Fish Company and picked up some mozzarella, a soft goat cheese, and some Saint Benoît yogurt at Cowgirl Creamery. We also split an Éclair from Miette Patisserie, a cute store with very nice looking cakes and pastries. After that, we went home and threw together a pizza margherita with an heirloom tomato and the mozzarella for lunch. It was fun, but the market and stores are a bit crowded on Saturday.

June 22, 2006

French Dip

Originally uploaded by embem30.

So, I finally got my hands on a perfect "French Dip" sandwich, which I first discovered at Harrison Road House in East Lansing. The secret is to serve cold, rare roast beef on decent bread, along with hot jus. After sampling a few restaurants over the years, I eventually realized that I had to make it myself.  (The road house doesn't even make it that way anymore, so sad.)

The Roast

Last Sunday I roasted a Beef Tenderloin. I covered it in a mixture of rosemary, thyme, minced garlic, and olive oil, and then wrapped it in domestic prosciutto. After roasting, I deglazed the pan with a cup each of red wine and water, reduced it, and finished with a pat of butter. I served it fairly simply with some green beens sautéed with oil and shallots and a dash of rice wine vinegar.

The recipe is modified from the one in Jamie Oliver's book, "The Naked Chef Takes Off".  His calls for a porcini/butter/herb mixture between the prosciutto and the beef, but, alas, Emily is alergic to mushrooms. The roast is still good without the mushrooms, it was quick to cook and enjoyed by everyone.

The Sandwich

For the sandwiches, I chilled the leftover meat, sliced it thinly, put it some bread and dipped in reheated pan sauce.

June 17, 2006

Sun Fat

Last night we had some striped bass with Jicama and a black bean sauce. It was based on a Food & Wine recipe and turned out really well. I ended up using a single wild striped bass for the four of us, so we ended up with 4-5oz half fillets each.

I was quite impressed with Sun Fat - the staff was helpful, the fish looked great, it smelled clean. (There was a slight sea smell, but nothing overtly fishy.) I wanted one of everything there, but I'll have to pace myself.

I also went to Drewes Brothers Meats last week. Bells was turning people away, so I figured I'd try it out. The meat was decent and reasonably priced. I'd thought that they closed at 6pm, so I didn't take much time to look around. Parking is fairly easy, as there are a bunch of one hour spots a block away.

June 01, 2006

small plates

small plates
Originally uploaded by embem30.
Last sunday I did a "Small Plates" meal, to use up some babyback ribs that I bought on impulse. (I didn't have enough for the four of us, and Emily suggested small plates.)

I made the usual Orange Soy Babyback ribs (which I plated poorly), Emily made a pizza margherita (with a frozen crust from a Jamie Oliver Recipe), and I dug up Slanted Door's "Shaking Beef" recipe.

The dinner was great, and I'll definitely make the shaking beef again.

May 19, 2006

We're famous

So, it turns out that the #5 destination in CNN's top 10 seafood markets is a few blocks from my house. I'll have to check them out. (I've been a little nervous about getting meat in the neighborhood after getting some really crappy stew beef from the butcher around the corner.)

Also today, I was catching up on my geeky news feeds and saw my house (indirectly) featured on O'Reilly and Associates Blog - they had linked to an article about the the railroad that ran past our house.

May 06, 2006

Cinco de Mayo

Yesterday  I made Mexican food for Cinco de Mayo.  I made some enchiladas with Chicken and a roasted tomato/jalapeño sauce from Rick Bayless' book.  I served it with a mexican red rice, canned black beans (cheater!), and some guacamole and pico de gallo that I threw together. (Guacamole really does need to be made fresh.)

These past two weekends, I've gotten into the habit of making my own chicken broth. Last weekend, I made some with the extra parts from my coq au vin chicken, to use for the tomato/jalapeño salsa, and yesterday I made some while I was cooking the chicken - I used it for the rice and will use the leftovers for thai food tonight.  Cooking is even more enjoyable now that I have a reasonable kitchen, and it's been nice to have a bunch of people to cook for, although cooking for other people does tend to limit my experimentation a bit.

I also ordered laundry machines today, they should arrive thursday.  It'll be nice to be able to do laundry in my own place again.  Dayla is installing tile in that room (it looks great, it's done except for grout), and Doc is fixing the windows, which were falling apart.

April 16, 2006

At Niman Ranch, the cows have no feet

Funny how none of the upscale butchers in town seem to have calf's feet. (In their defense, Golden Gate Meat Market did offer to special order it for me and said it'd take a couple of days to get it.)

Why a calf's foot? I'm making Beef Burgandy today (Boeuf à la Bourguignonne). The recipe calls for it, and I figured I'd give it a try (it's just for flavor and maybe gelatin or something). A lot of classic french food derives from peasant roots and use cheaper cuts of meat. I was hoping to go a little upscale and use beef that was well cared for (free range, fed with grass, rather than fed corn and antibiotics), but I guess it wasn't meant to be.

I've actually been cooking a bit in my new kitchen. In the last week, I've made:

  • Larb Gai

  • Panang Chicken (with a home-made curry paste)

  • Lamb chops with a fennel relish

  • A Roast Chicken with Prosciutto, butter, lemon zest, and thyme stuffed under the skin

  • Rogan Josh, Khatte chhole (sour/spicy chickpea dish), and Rice pudding

In the week or so before that:

  • Fusili Carbonara

  • Rigatoni con Salsiccia

  • Penne in Pumpkin Sauce

  • Chile Verde

  • the Panang chicken again

Lots of what have become old standbys.  (The chicken and beef are new dishes, though.)  I've got a bunch of recipes I want to try, but I've got to sort through them.  I am simultaneously working on the house and trying to develop software to keep track of them and present them on the web.  (Actually, I'm doing a bunch of semantic web related stuff, but that is one aspect of it.)

My other big problem is picking a direction to head in - I have done a lot of italian in the past, and was planning on learning more mexican stuff. I got Rick Bayless' book for christmas and figured a lot of ingredients would be available in the new neighborhood.  Then, I bought a Wok, which needs to be used more (to give it a good seasoning). And, finally, I'd like to gain a mastery of french sauces.

April 13, 2006


Like many people in San Francisco, I tend to avoid fast food and chain resturants. The tends to happen because of the density of decent resturants, health consciousness, and ego. I am however interested in restaurant-related health issues and ran into some interesting research on McDonalds' ingredients:
At a New York City McDonald's, a large fries-and-chicken-nuggets combo was found to contain 10.2 grams of trans fat, compared with 0.33 grams in Denmark and about 3 grams in Spain, Russia and the Czech Republic.
(From the Seattle Times)

Yet another reason to avoid fast food restaurants. (Also, avoid the ice. :)

The other concern of mine is high fructose corn syrup, which is suspected as a contributor to the obesity problem in the US. It only seems to be used in the US, because corn subsidies push the price down. And, apparently, the corn thing is tied to the feeding of antibiotics to cattle. (They're fed corn, they can't digest corn properly, they get sick, and the are fed antibiotics.)

March 31, 2006

House Update

Last weekend I moved from the apartment to the house. It's nice to finally be living there - although it is a bit crowded. It's nice having them around, though. We go through food faster, so I end up having a bit more variety.  The new kitchen is nice, although I have to finish putting handles on the cabinets, install the microwave and some shelves, and rearrange all the stuff the way I want it. (While still making room for Carmen's necessities.)  I also have some more lighting to install, and I need to order a washer/dryer sometime.  I keep forgetting that part.  Carmen offered to dress up the floor in that room a little (so she could use it as a workspace), I may wait til after that to install the washer/dryer.

The bottom unit is progressing, although a little slowly. The first layer of finish on the wood floors is not drying very well. It's been about a week, the upstairs took a couple of days because of the humidity, I don't know if they put it on too thick, if it's the wood, or what.

Our furnace guys, Peninsula Heating, are a bunch of hacks. They're the only contractors that we feel nervous about leaving on their own. And now Dan had to open up the wall because the furnace pipes were leaking hot air (the neighbor was complaining). We made them fix that joint, but Dan has noticed others. Probably the whole system is bad. I know you get what you pay for (they're cheap), but sometimes it's worth paying more.

The bathroom tile is installed downstairs - it looks really nice. I think the cabinets are ordered now, Dan and I will do the installation, which should be interesting. (They should be better built than my ikea frames, but the european system of hanging cabinets is kinda nice.)

January 21, 2006

Today's word is Sauce

I've been playing with some of amazon's new features this morning. I like the new concordance feature. (Note how my book on sauces frequently uses the word "butter". )

The other nifty feature I've been playing with is statistically improbable phrases and capitalized phrases. Go to a book, like Rick Bayless's cookbook. Scroll down to the "inside this book section", there are phrases that Amazon has guessed are significant. If you click on one, say "pork country ribs", it'll give you a list of all the books they sell that contain the phrase "pork country ribs" with a bit of context.

I noticed that you can tweak the url's a bit to search for any phrase in any book:

(Or get my firefox search plugin.)

And now I'm running off to work on the house again.

January 02, 2006


I went back to Michigan for Christmas vacation again this year. It was a very relaxing and much needed vacation.

This year I bought a knife bag to carry my knives and spices home. I ended up only cooking a few times. I made Pumpkin Penne for my parents. And Emily and I made Rogan Josh, a Chana dish, and an attempt at rice pudding (it didn't set up) as a birthday dinner for Carmen (with Dan and my parents).

I left early to celebrate my Dad's 60th birthday. Followed by Sarah's Christmas party, for the first time. She always has a fun charitable outing in her parties. Last year they went to toys 'r us and bought gifts for needy children. This year we went to Barnes and Noble to buy books for kids. Everybody threw money into the pot and we shopped. It was a lot of fun.

Next I went to Sheri's Christmas party. Last year I went home early to make Sheri's party, and it worked out very well for me. (I met Emily.) Emily and I stayed a couple of extra days, dining on leftover pork, salmon, and shrimp and watching Dr Who.

Then Emily and I went back to Lansing and hung out for a few days. We watched "The Family Stone", made Indian Food, met up with Brad and Maggie for dinner, and made some pumpkin muffins.

I took Emily to my mom's family Christmas on the 24th, and got to do our family Christmas thing on the 25th. (Gifts, lunch, and stockings.) My Dad's mom and Carmen's parents joined us for lunch and stockings. It's been a lot of fun since Carmen's parents started joining us - bringing some Cantonese food to go with our more traditional fare.