Sunday, January 29, 2006

Weekend Cookbook Challenge - Boeuf Bourguignon

This months' challenge on Weekend Cookbook Challenge is winter comfort food. I think a perfect winter comfort food is beef stew. When I was little my mom would make beef stew almost every week of winter in her crock pot. This is much fancier than the stew my mom would make. I got Anthony Bourdain's cookbook when it came out in September 2004. I've read it cover to cover, but until now never actually cooked out of it. God bless the WCC.

Boeuf Bourguignon
from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook

I took this picture to show you how truly gorgeous this book is. In addition to lots of wonderful sounding recipes (that I hope to soon try) the pictures are tremendous. Doesn't that make you hungry?

2 lb paleron of beef or "chicken steak" cut into 1 1/2" pieces
salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
4 onions, thinly sliced
2 tb flour
1 cup red wine
6 carrots, cut into 1" pieces
1 garlic clove
1 bouquet garni

(I don't know what either Paleron or Chicken Steak is, we just used a nice quality steak)
Season the meat with salt and pepper. In a dutch oven or heavy pan, heat the oil over high heat until it is almost smoking. Add the meat in batches and sear on all sides until the meat is well browned. When all the meat has been browned and set aside, add the onions and cook, over medium high heat until the onions are soft and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle in the flour, and cook for another 4 minutes. Then add the red wine, bring to the boil, and scrape up all the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Return the meat to the pan and add the carrots, garlic and bouquet garni. Add enough water to cover by one third and two spoons of demi glace, if you have it (I added a bouillon cube). Reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so. When done, remove the bouquet garni and serve.

This was a real winner and I'll be making it again very soon. The meat was quite tender and the sauce was very rich and flavorful. I'm not usually one for things like bay leaves and bouquet garni, but you can sure taste the flavor they leave behind. But the best part? It tasted even better the next day.

Friday, January 27, 2006


The Amateur Gourmet went to a taping of Iron Chef America. Who was the challenger? What was the secret ingrediant? What's up with Alton's earring? Adam will tell all! (Kinda.)

It's one of my dreams to one day go to Spain. Monkey Gland at Jam Faced was there. Check out what he has to say about Seville and some very nice pictures.

Congratulations to Tara at Seven Spoons who had a baby boy!

And congratulations to Jennifer, The Domestic Goddess who is expecting!

Check out the round up for Paper Chef #14, with a fantastic picture of Kitty Kaga at Belly Timber.

Alicat at Something So Clever would like to remind you - WCC is this weekend!

Weekend Cookbook Challenge - Winter Comfort Food

Hey everyone, just a reminder that the Weekend Cookbook Challenge is this weekend. Our theme is "Winter Comfort Food". Hope to hear from some new faces, as well as all the wonderful people from last time. The deadline to submit is January 30. See you there!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Today is Robbie Burns Day, a day to celebrate the famous Scottish poet. And to eat the dreaded haggis!

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great cheiftan o' the puddin-racel
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my arm

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdles like a distant hill,
Your pill wad help to mead a mill
In time o' need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An' cut you up wi' ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn,
they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a' ther weel-swall'd kytes belyve,
Are bent lyke drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
"Bethankit!" 'hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owner his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro' bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned,
Like taps o'thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out thier bills o'fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

A recipe for traditional haggis, by E. Hlabse

1 sheep's stomach bag
2 lb dry oatmeal
1 lb suet
1 lb lambs liver
2 1/2 cups stock
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Boil the liver and parboil the onion, then mince them finely together. Lightly brown the oatmeal, and mix all ingrediants but the stomach together. Fill the stomach, pressing down to remove any air, and sew up securely. Prick the haggis in several places so it doesn't burst. Place haggis in a large pot of boiling water and simmer slowly for 4-5 hours.
Serves 12.

Monday, January 23, 2006


About 2 or 3 times a year I have to go to beautiful Canmore Alberta for my job. They are always Saturday meetings, but my company is nice to me and books me a room for both Friday and Saturday night, and Scott comes along. We went the weekend before Christmas. It was lovely. The weather was clear but cold. There was a cross country skiing competition, I think the last one before Torino, being held that weekend too. Both Friday and Saturday nights the town threw a street party with music and events. It was a real kick to see huge groups of skiers from all over the world dancing and singing. Canmore is so beautiful:

We usually eat at the same restaurants every time we go, but this time we decided to try two new places for dinner. Friday night we went to Luna Blue. It's right on the main street in the older part of town. Big with an open kitchen and very nice staff. We started with some brushetta, the sort that makes me hang my head in shame when I think of the inferior crap that I make. I had a delicious pasta dish with diced chicken, cashews, mangos and a curry broth. Scott has the gooey-est cheesy-est canneloni I've ever seen. We'll be checking them out on future visits for sure.

You know, nothing pisses me off more than spending good money on a shitty dinner. That's what happened to us the next night at Chef's Studio Japan. The food was pretty good, some things we ordered were better than others, but on the whole it was pretty decent. The service was so bad it was laughable. We ordered a multi-course dinner and some sushi.

This was vegetable tempura. It only had one type of vegetable in it; I think it was potato. It was alright. The tempura batter was light and crisp, but the vegetable had no flavor.

I had sake for the first time ever. I didn't really care for it, it wasn't what I had imagined sake would taste like. We didn't get our drinks until after we'd had 2 of our courses. After we had the tempura we had a seaweed salad (yuck) and a beautiful miso soup.

Soft Shell Crab! I've always wanted to try this. We tried to have it a couple of times in San Francisco but had no luck. This was good. I'd have it again.

Our sushi plate. It looked beautiful. Tasted pretty good too.

In the end, we weren't even served all the food we had ordered. At one point we watched a waiter carry a dish of food to every table in the place before finally bringing it to us. Bad service drives me crazy. I used to be a waitress and nothing annoys me more than a fully staffed dining room that still can't function. Studio Japan is pretty small - MAYBE 20 tables. They weren't full and had 4 servers. How can you provide shitty service with those numbers?
Maybe we caught them on a bad day, I don't know, but we didn't enjoy ourselves at all. We won't be going back again.
How about you? Any really wonderful or terrible meals recently?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Southwest Salad

I love Southwestern food. On a gloomy day a salad like this can brighten you right up with it's smooth crisp flavors.

Southwest Salad
adapted from Martha Stewart

for 2 hungry people

1 cup canned white kidney or cannellini beans
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/4 cup salsa
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 small avocado chopped
1 tomato chopped
1 chicken breast
romaine lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
handful of tortilla chips
1/3 cup cheddar cheese

Cook the chicken breast. I poach it, but do what you like. Slice into strips.
Place the beans corn and salsa in a bowl and microwave until warm about 2 minutes.
Add the chicken, onions, avocado and tomato and mix. Season with salt pepper and tabasco if you like it.
Plate your lettuce and crumble a couple of chips over top. Top with the bean mixture and some cheese. Serve immediately.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

White Bean Pizza

This may well be the best pizza I've ever tasted. You won't recognize the beans, they are transformed into a wonderful creamy garlicy spread. This is a beautiful looking and tasty pizza not loaded down with fatty meats and greasy cheese. It is absolutly amazing, and good for you too, not that that should ALWAYS matter.

White Bean Pizza
1/2 can of any sort of white bean, rinsed and drained
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 1/2 tb water
1 tb olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tsp rosemary crushed fine
2 or 3 tomatos
thinly sliced red onion, separated into rings
1 tube of goat cheese
pizza dough

I have made this with both homemade dough and store bought. Both are good. I usually parbake the crust for 6 or 7 minutes first. The last time I made it I used a Pillsbury dough and followed the instructions for baking. If you make your own dough, Cook at 450' or so.

Preheat oven.
Put beans, garlic, water and oil in a food processor. Blitz until fairly smooth and season with salt and pepper.

Place the dough on your baking sheet and spread the bean mixture on as you would pizza sauce. Sprinkle with the rosemary and top with the tomatos, onion and cheese.

Bake for 10 or 12 minutes, until crust is brown and crisp and the top is hot and the cheese has melted (goat cheese doesn't always melt and spread out).

Friday, January 13, 2006

A new way to cook chicken!

Here's an email I received this morning. Gullible me, I thought it was a real recipe at first!

Good Morning Ladies,

I was thinking I might try this with the turkey next Christmas, XXXX you may want to try this too. I think it may ease some of the Christmas cooking stress and also give everyone something else to talk about!!!!



>Here is a chicken recipe that also includes the use of popcorn as a
>stuffing - imagine that! When I found this recipe, I thought it was
>perfect for people like me, who just are not sure how to tell when
>poultry is thoroughly cooked, but not dried out. Give this a try.
>6-7 lb. baking chicken
>1 cup melted butter
>1 cup stuffing (Pepperidge Farm is good.)
>1 cup uncooked popcorn (ORVILLE REDENBACHERS LOW FAT)
>Salt/pepper to taste
> ______________________________
>Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush chicken well with melted butter,
>and pepper. Fill cavity with stuffing and popcorn. Place in baking
>the neck end toward the back of the oven. Listen for the popping
>When the chicken's ass blows the oven door open and the chicken flies
>across the room, it is done.
>And you thought I couldn't cook. HA!!!!!!

Monday, January 09, 2006

De-lurking Week

It's De-lurking Week as started by Sheryl at Papernapkin. What does that mean? Well, it means if you read someones blog, this week you should leave them a comment and let them know you are there.
What a good idea. If I climb out from under my massive pile of work this week I plan on de-lurking a whole bunch. You should too!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Broccoli Salad

Terrible picture, wonderful salad.

Cut the florets off a large head of broccoli. Steam until tender crisp.
In a large bowl combine:
4 tsp balsamic vinegar
4 tsp rice wine vinegar
4 tsp olive oil
4 tsp veg oil
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch of salt
big pinch chile flakes
10 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

Mix well and add:
1 handful of soft cheese
And the broccoli

Toss well and serve.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Pureed Cauliflower

After the overload of the holiday season, it's the time of year for eating simple, healthy food to recover, and resolving to make it a permanent change in life. From the websites I have visited in the past couple of days, I am not alone in this thought. Lots of people are focusing on low fat, low carb, more foods in their pure forms. All very wonderful plans for January and onward.
This is such a simple and ingenious idea. A great substitution for mashed potatos, still great tasting, but much lower in fat and calories.

I got this recipe from a friend who is dieting. This is a recommended dish for her.

Pureed Cauliflower
Break 1 head of cauliflower into small florets. Steam or boil until tender.
Puree in a food processor with salt, pepper, and a couple of glugs of olive oil.
Serve as a side dish, instead of potatos.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Lights at the Zoo

Here's some pictures from the light show we saw in B.C.

Monday, January 02, 2006

MEME - You are what you eat

Happy New Year to you all, I hope you enjoyed yourselves this holiday season.
I am sort of glad to be going back to work tomorrow; the holidays have seemed to go on forever. I feel like I've been eating and drinking nonstop for 3 months.

Linda from Kayak Soup has tagged me with the "You are what you eat Meme" which was started by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast. You pick your ten favorite foods and why you chose them. Here's mine in no order:
(Please note:I didn't suddenly wake up this morning with mad photo skilz. None of these pictures are mine.)

No, not sandwich bread, as shown in the above picture. I'm talking about bread like sourdough, foccacia, baguette. Bread can be the main player in a meal, or just a sidekick. Some of the best meals are simple ones, and many of those include bread. Ever had a really great loaf of bread, some cheese and maybe a tomato for dinner? Enough said.

I am absolutely crazy for potatos. Hashbrowns, mashed, roasted, fries, baked with eggs, it's all good.

I love it in all forms. I love hot pasta. I love cold pasta in the summer. I love baked pasta. I love pasta in soup. I love simple pasta.

Tomatos are probably my favorite food. I love them any way (except tomato soup! HATE IT!). Have you tried this recipe for tomatos rellanos? You really should. In the summer Scott and I will have a big plate of tomato slices with a bit of olive oil, salt and fresh basil with some bread for dinner. So good.

My favorites are brie, feta, goat cheese, gouda, myzithra, kasseri, parmesan...oh hell, I love it all.

Garlic, garlic, garlic. Someone (I don't know who) said "Never trust anyone who doesn't like garlic". Garlic is the stuff of life, literally and figuratively. The first time I had roasted garlic, it was a revelation.

I am proud to be able to say that Scott is a lover of hot sauce and chiles since I got my paws on him. Tabasco is a condiment regularly on our table for eggs, potatos, meat, even bagels! I have jars and jars of different dried peppers and 5 different hot sauces in the pantry. Try this wonderful sandwich. Have you ever had hot pepper jelly brushed on grilled chicken? Mmmmm...

All I will say on this food is that I have an unholy love of Frosted Flakes.

Ham and specifically prosciutto. Did I ever tell you about when I used to be a vegetarian? And then one day I really REALLY wanted a ham sandwich? That was my downfall. This soup is wonderful and healthy, perfect for the beginning of a new year.

I love beef.

So there you go. Hope it gave you some fascinating insight into the mind of Sara. Didja click on any of the recipe links? Didja? And to keep this going, I will tag Dexygus at Feeding Dexygus, Alicat from Something So Clever, and Sarah-Lou from One Whole Clove.

Happy Meme-ing!