Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Drawer cleaning

Here is my utensil drawer. I hate this drawer because I can never find anything and usually get stabbed by something or other every time I reach in it. After cutting myself on a skewer I decided it was time for a cleaning. Here's some stuff I found.

Here's my flour sprinkler. You use this so you don't get your hands all covered in flour. I've had this for about 3 years and hadn't used it yet. I debated whether or not to keep it. I did and used it the very next day.

Who needs 3 graters? Two of them are almost identical! How did this happen?

Here's my ginger grater and some fake leaves. I bought the leaves to decorate a cheese plate and promptly forgot about them.

2 dough cutters. I didn't know I had 2. But! I found my bamboo tongs! I haven't seen them in a long time. I thought they had been thrown out accidentally. They are very handy for taking small things out of the oven and toast out of the toaster.

Mmmmmmm. Kooky. The one with the face is an egg separator. The other one is an egg cutter. It is very difficult to use and usually shatters the egg shell.

That's my crinkle cutter, for cutting veggies. There's Scott's oyster shucker. And on the end there is my knife sharpener. It was my grandmothers.

It's my tupperware onion keeper! I have not seen this since we moved almost two years ago!

Scott bought these salt and pepper shakers at a garage sale years ago. We have never used them, but he insists we will...someday. I will admit they are pretty cute.
So some stuff stayed, but a lot got the heave-ho. I now know what I have, and it is much easier to find things. 2006 is the year of organization for me, and I receommend a good cleaning for every kitchen drawer.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hot and Sour Coconut Soup

This soup is light and fresh. I think it would be wonderful with some shredded chicken mixed in as well.

1 500 ml can coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock
6 small dried whole red chiles, seeded
3 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 cup sliced mushrooms
zest of 1/2 lime
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup bean sprouts
juice of 1 lime

In a pot over medium heat combine the coconut milk, veg stock, chiles, garlic, and lemon zest. Simmer for 10 minutes to infuse. Remove from heat and strain, discarding the solids. Return soup to pot and add the mushrooms and lime zest. Simmer for 5 minutes or so, until the mushrooms are soft. Stir in the green onions, bean sprouts and lime juice. Serve immediately.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Chipolte Chicken Quesadillas

The grocery store near our house sells the most wonderful chicken quesadillas on occasion. Not all the time, just whenever they feel like it, I guess. Does that annoy you too, when certain items or brands are not consistently stocked? Happens at our grocery store fairly often. Drives me crazy. Here's what we make when they don't have any in the deli.

In a small bowl, mix one finely minced canned chipolte chile with 2 or 3 tb of mayo. Spread on one side of 4 tortillas.
On two of those sides, layer your chicken, tomatos, peppers and onions. Top with some cheese, and the other tortillas.
Then cook over medium to medium low heat on both sides until the cheese is melted and the tortillas and light brown and crisp. Cut into wedges and serve with salsa and sour cream if desired.
A big P.S. -
This is my favorite brand of chipolte peppers! They have a wonderful smokiness, a very smooth sauce and the peppers are always a good uniform size. Check them out if they are sold where YOU live.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Shrimp simmered with tomatos and feta

This is one amazing dish. Once you've got all the ingredients ready, you'll be eating in 10 minutes. Although I've only ever made this for Scott and myself, I think this would be fantastic served along some tapas.

Shrimp Simmered with Tomatos and Feta
Inspired by the Frugal Gourmet

2 cups Greek style tomato sauce (recipe follows)
thin slices of red onion
shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
tomato slices
feta cheese

In a medium pan, spoon about 3/4 cup of the sauce in the bottom. Add a single layer of shrimp. Top with the red onion and cover with tomato slices.

Yes the picture sucks. Imagine it's a nice picture, ok?
Cover with the rest of the tomato sauce, and crumble the feta cheese over top. Turn the heat on to medium, cover and bring to a gentle simmer.

Simmer for 7 or 8 minutes. Serve with some wonderful crusty bread to mop up the totally delicious sauce.

Tomato Sauce

2 tb olive oil
1/3 of a red onion, chopped **SEE NOTE
3 cloves garlic, chopped
28 oz can tomatos and juice
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef stock
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried mint
1 tb brown sugar

Heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Raise the heat and bring to a rapid boil. Boil uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender or a potato masher, mash the sauce a bit to smooth it out. Don't make it completely smooth - you just want to get rid of some of the bigger chunks. Return to the heat and simmer over medium low, covered for 10 minutes more.
Makes approximately 4 cups of sauce.

**NOTE - If you are not using an immersion blender to smooth the sauce, make sure you chop the onions fairly small.

I really love this sauce. It's very versatile. I've used it with meatloaf - both in the meatloaf and as a glaze. I've used it as pizza sauce, and with eggs too. It really goes with anything.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Beer Battered Shrimp with Chipolte Honey Sauce

While anything battered and fried is nice, shrimp is probably my favorite. No, my second favorite. My first favorite is calamari with extremely garlicky tatziki. But shrimp is a close second. I found this recipe on We were testing this out to serve at our Christmas brunch, but ultimately decided we had enough food and I really didn't want to be deep frying in the kitchen with a house full of people. But these were really great, and I look forward to making them again. I love chipolte peppers and honey is a wonderful complement in the sauce.
So here's the sauce cooking away:

2 dried chipolte peppers, stemmed and seeded
1 tomato quartered
1/2 small onion, sliced
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup honey
2 tb red wine vinegar
Combine the chiles, tomato, onion, garlic, water and salt in a small pot and simmer over low heat until the chiles are soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and puree. Stir in the honey and vinegar and set aside.

You need to make the batter at least 30 minutes ahead of time.
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup beer
Combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the beer and whisk until smooth. Set aside for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours.

Heat some oil in a pot to about 350'. Take your peeled and deveined shrimp (1 1/4 lbs), lightly flour them, then dunk them in the batter and cook until golden brown. Drain well and serve with the chipolte honey sauce.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

What kind of pie are you?

You Are Apple Pie

You're the perfect combo of comforting and traditional

Those who like you crave security

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Pita Chips

Great instead of potato chips. Serve with dips and spreads.


6 pitas
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp basil

Preheat oven to 400'. Cut each pita into 8 triangles. Place on a baking sheet. Mix remaining ingrediants in a bowl. Brush on chips. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until browned and crisp.


Serve with pita chips.


1 garlic clove, chopped
1 3/4 cups kalamata olives, pitted
2 oz anchovy fillets
2 tb capers
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh rosemary
3 tb lemon juice
4 tb olive oil

Combine all ingrediants except the oil in a food processor. Slowly drizzle in the oil as you are pulsing the ingrediants.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

When life hands you lemons and really bitter eggplant, make Lemon Mint Pasta instead!

Last night I was making grilled eggplant stuffed with feta cheese. I was making it until I tried a piece of the grilled eggplant. So.BITTER. And the skin was so tough, I could barely bite through it. I am at the end of my rope, eggplant wise. I love it, but every time I try to make it at home, I just can't get out the bitterness. What am I doing wrong? I have sprinkled them with salt and let them sit in a colander; I have soaked them in salted water; I always make sure I cook them until they are nice and soft. Everyone I ask has recommended one of these methods, but they just don't work for me. So, from this day forward, the iliketocook household is eggplant free. I'll leave it to the professionals at the restaurants to take care of it for me.

So, there I was, eggplant in the garbage, a bowl full of filling and two empty bellies. So we made:

Lemon Mint Pasta

Here's a picture of the original filling for the eggplant - and then my camera died.

1 container feta cheese with oregano (about 7 oz)
1 hot pepper, seeded and minced finely
1 handful fresh mint, minced
juice of a lemon
2 small tomatos, diced

Mix all ingredients but the pasta. Cook your pasta, and when you drain it, reserve about a cup of the pasta water. Toss the pasta with the sauce, and add some pasta water to soften.


We used a terrific whole wheat linguine, which went very well with the fabulous sauce. In the end I am glad that the eggplant didn't work out; I think the end result meal was a much better creation and will be seen at our table again soon.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Brokeback Moulton

That makes me laugh so much.
Image from TVGasm.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Weekend Cookbook Challenge -Disappointment in Shades of Orange

This month's WCC challenge was "Food in Shades of Orange". I found a very interesting recipe from a new cookbook I had just picked up.

"All Stirred Up - Over 150 of the Best Recipes From the Women's Culinary Network". I have never heard of the Women's Culinary Network before, have you? I have marked several recipes to try in the future, but for this day I chose Curried Lentil Soup by Kim Rabe. I chose it for 3 reasons:
1. I have never cooked with lentils before.
2. I like curry.
3. It sounded like it might come out an orangy color.

I'm not going to say too much about this soup - it just wasn't for me. While the taste was alright, it wasn't anything to get excited about. Also, it separated into 2 layers - a watery layer and a thicker orange layer. Very strange. Hey, at least it was orange.

Curried Lentil Soup
by Kim Rabe

2 tb olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tb curry powder
1 tb tomato paste
5 cups vegetable stock
5 cups water
2 cups red lentils
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

In an large saucepot, heat oil over medium heat and saute onions, celery, carrot and garlic for 5 minutes, until onion is softened. Stir in the curry powder and cook for one minute. Add all the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until lentils are softened and creamy. Discard bay leaves before serving.

Makes 6 servings.