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Archive for the ‘Side dishes’ Category

Slightly delayed Independence Day sides

Posted by Jeanne on July 5, 2010

I promised Debbie the recipe for the potato salad, so I might as well hook everyone up.  Definitely too late for any actual Independence Day festivities, but the summer BBQ season looms large and these are both really tasty.

Besides, how can you go wrong with a blue-cheese coleslaw?  Or bacon vinaigrette on potato salad?

Potato & kohlrabi salad with bacon-mustard vinaigrette

1.5 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 0.5 inch cube-type chunks

1.5 lb. kohlrabi, peeled and cut into 0.5 inch cube-type chunks

0.25 C white wine vinegar

0.25 C water or chicken stock

0.5 C red onion, vertically sliced

4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

2 TB reserved bacon fat from cooking bacon

1 TB Dijon mustard

Kosher salt

Freshly-ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.  Add potatoes & kohlrabi and boil for 7 to 10 minutes, or until fork-tender but not falling apart.

In the meantime, heat the bacon fat in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and saute until slightly softened – do not brown.  Add mustard, vinegar, bacon, and stock or water and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Drain potatoes & kohlrabi and place in a large bowl.  While still warm, pour the dressing over the potatoes and kohlrabi and stir well to combine.  Enjoy warm or chilled – if you chill it, stir again in 30 or 40 minutes to make sure all the bacony goodness gets absorbed into the veg.

Mmmmm, bacony goodness.

Blue cheese coleslaw, modified from this recipe by Ina Garden, copyright 2005

0.5 small head green cabbage, finely sliced or shredded

0.5 small head red cabbage, finely sliced or shredded

1 C mayonnaise

0.25 C Dijon mustard

2 TB whole grain mustard

2 TB rice wine vinegar

1 tsp celery salt

0.5 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 C crumbled Maytag blue cheese

Place cabbages in a large bowl and toss to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, both mustards, vinegar, celery salt, kosher salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the grated cabbage and toss to moisten well. Add crumbled blue cheese and toss together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

Also yummy.  Although I have to say – I really do think the original recipe has WAY too much dressing.  I halved the amount of mayo in the above and there was more than enough.

Curt contends there could have been more blue cheese.  Perhaps, perhaps – but I don’t know that there is ever enough blue cheese for Curt.  In anything.


Posted in Cooking, Side dishes | 2 Comments »

A beautiful failure

Posted by Jeanne on June 11, 2010

I bought two pounds of sugar snap peas at Costco, and now they must be used.  Unfortunately, things went a bit awry.  It’s like that scene in Top Chef in the stew room when one of the chefs says, “Now I know what I did wrong. I forgot to add FLAVOR!”

Pea salad with tarragon vinaigrette, inspired by this recipe published in Health Magazine, June 2009

2 TB white wine vinegar

2 TB plain yogurt

1 TB olive oil

1 tsp. honey

2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon

0.75 C frozen peas

2 lbs. sugar snap peas, trimmed

4 cups salad greens

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Whisk together the white wine vinegar and the next 4 ingredients (through tarragon) in a large bowl; set aside.

2. Add the sugar snap peas and frozen pees to the pot, and cook 3 to 4 minutes until tender-crisp. Drain and rinse under cold running water until no longer warm.  Pat dry with a towel.

3. Add the mixed salad greens to the bowl with the dressing. Add the peas and toss gently to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

So.  See?  Beautiful.  And bland, dull, flat, boring.  Also a ton of it.  Which is now compost.  D’oh.

What would I do differently next time?  I don’t love the yogurt in the dressing.  I think I would make a more traditional vinaigrette, and make it the way I usually do – lots of garlic and salt & pepper and Dijon mustard.

I remember thinking “there isn’t much to this dressing” and plowing forward anyway.  D’oh.  The most important kitchen tool is a brain and I checked mine at the door when I made this dish.Making a dish that is a flop isn’t a moral failure – it is INCREDIBLY ANNOYING and a great waste of ingredients and time.

But it’s also an opportunity to advertise to the entire internets that you failed at something – and to figure out WHY.

At least the pictures are pretty?  Next time must use brain as well as whisk.

Posted in Cooking, Garden/Seasonal, Not about food, Side dishes, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »

Busy busy busy

Posted by Jeanne on May 9, 2010

Cooked a TON this weekend.  I catered a party for the lovely and talented Ryan last night.  His actual birthday is on Cinco de Mayo, so his equally lovely and talented wife Amanda asked me to make him some Mexican food.

The final menu:

Tortilla chips


Roasted corn & black bean salsa

Pulled pork & queso fresco tamales

Quesadillas filled with black bean puree & queso fresco

Saffron/tomato rice

By all accounts the food was delicious and a good time was had by all. Alas, there are no pictures.

Today, we had my mom and brother (and dog) and Curt’s parents and brother over for Mother’s Day brunch.  We had:

Quiche Lorraine (sorry about the super-weird lighting, I forgot to take a picture until it was nearly gone)

Asparagus, mushroom & swiss quiche

Roasted potatoes

Donuts my brother brought

I made the crust yesterday, but rolled it out and filled the quiches this morning.  The crust was made with half butter and half duck fat and it was a huge pain in the ass to roll out.  Not sure why – I didn’t have that problem last time I made a crust with duck fat.  Tasted delicious though, and it was super-flaky and tender.

I also learned a very important lesson:  do not stick your hand into boiling water.  Thankfully I had the good sense to quickly remove my hand from said water.

It stings and is incredibly sensitive to heat but I don’t think it’ll blister.  Win!  I may not be smart but at least I am pretty.

On the menu this week:

Aloo gobi + rice

Turkey meatloaf + sauteed broccoli + mashed potatoes

Hokkien mee + braised bok choy

Soft polenta + Italian sausage & mushroom ragout

Veggie paella with artichokes and borlotti beans

But tonight – tonight we’re going to have Chinese takeout and watch Dr. Who.  Sorry for the listy post but I am worn out!  Hopefully I’ll get something good posted later this week, that includes actual decent photos.  Non-burned fingers crossed.

Posted in Appetizers, Cooking, Entrees, Planning, red meat, Side dishes | 1 Comment »

Leek bread pudding

Posted by Jeanne on May 3, 2010

I really like bread pudding, but I have to admit I’ve never tried a savory bread pudding before.  Sure, I’ve had about a million “breakfast casseroles” that are bread-based – I am Midwestern, see me eat casserole – but I don’t think those really get the custardy goodness that is a bread pudding.

Until now.  I blame Smitten Kitchen for posting this recipe.

Leek Bread Pudding, adapted from post at Smitten Kitchen.

Makes one loaf.  Serves 6 as a side dish.

1 cup leeks in 1/4-inch thick slices, white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed

Kosher salt

2 TB (1 ounce) unsalted butter, plus additional for preparing pan

Freshly ground black pepper

6 cups 1-inch-cubed French bread (the original recipe calls for crustless – I left the crust on because I couldn’t think of anything to do with it, and also because I like the textural contrast you get when you include both)

2 tsp finely chopped chives (I used 1 tsp. dried because lo, it appears the chives have yet to sprout in our garden.)

0.5 tsp fresh thyme

2 duck eggs (so help me, I cannot stop buying duck eggs)

0.5 C half and half

2.5 C milk (I used 1% – the original calls for 3 C heavy cream, half and half, or whole milk.  I just couldn’t do it.)

Freshly grated nutmeg

0.5 C shredded gruyere

Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, drain excess water from leeks, and add to pan. Season with salt, and sauté until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in butter.

Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft, about 20 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While leeks are cooking, spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until dry and pale gold, about 15 to 20 minutes (my already-stale brioche took less time to brown), turning pan about halfway through. Transfer to a large bowl, leaving the oven on.

Add leeks, chives and thyme to the bowl of bread; toss well. In another large bowl, lightly whisk the egg and egg yolks, then whisk in milk or cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste and a pinch of nutmeg.

Note:  The original recipe calls for 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk.  I wanted to use the duck eggs because they have proportionally so much more yolk to white.  Also because I am obsessed with duck eggs.  I think it screwed up my proportions a bit though – mine is not as dense-looking as the one in the SK photos.

Sprinkle 2 TB shredded cheese in bottom of a buttered loaf pan. Spread half the bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another 2 TB cheese.

Spread remaining bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with the last of the  cheese. Pour in enough milk mixture to cover bread, and gently press on bread so milk soaks in. Let rest 15 minutes.

Add remaining milk mixture, leaving some bread uncovered, and sprinkle with salt. Bake until pudding is set and top is brown and bubbling, about an hour.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Beautiful leeky-bready-eggy goodness.  I forsee many different vegetable bread puddings in our future this summer.

Posted in Cooking, Side dishes, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »

Pommes frites

Posted by Jeanne on April 27, 2010

My frites are not as good as the frites at Dario’s.  Which is not shocking, because Dario’s frites are out of this world.

But they are passable, and I don’t think they would make Bourdain want to commit ritualistic suicide to say I used his recipe.  Win!

The recipe is from the Les Halles cookbook, and is so simple.  Basically, you peel and cut the potatoes and rest them in cold water for at least 15 minutes.

Dry the frites a bit, and blanch for 6 to 8 minutes in 275F oil.  Remove from the oil and drain for at least 15 minutes.

This is what blanched frites look like – they’re pretty pale and very soft, not crisp the way you want them to be when eating.

While the blanched frites hang out, raise the temperature of the oil to 375F.  Fry in small batches for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown and delicious.

Remove from the fryer, shake the oil off a bit, and dump the frites into a bowl lined with a kitchen towel.  Add some salt, remove the towel, shake to disburse the salt, and enjoy.

Really, really enjoy.

I’m really sad that Megan is going to take her fryer back soon.  Although it’s probably better for the size of my pants if she does.

Posted in Cooking, Side dishes | Leave a Comment »

Fry Party

Posted by Jeanne on April 24, 2010

We had a blast frying stuff – Megan’s new fryer is amazing and awesome.  And I made tempura for the first time!

The only downside is that our house smells like a Long John Silver’s or KFC.

Tempura Batter

1 large egg

1 C flour

1 C very cold soda water

Mix all ingredients together with a whisk. Use to batter all kinds of things.

Things like:

Zucchini sticks (a big thank you to Peter and Niz for bringing these over!).

Shrimp (to the right).  Also pictured – chicken battered in what Megan calls the crack batter.  It’s so good.

Prepped artichokes, waiting for their turn.

Tempura-battered artichoke.

And Oreo cookies.  We also did some mini-size chocolate bars, but the batter fell off and they melted and it was no bueno.  Also the pictures would be utterly horrible.

We also fried (but did not tempura-batter):

The above-mentioned chicken, battered in crack…

And some sweet potato chunks – we did some plain and battered some in the crack as well.  They were better with the crack.

I think I need a salad.

Posted in Birdies, Cooking, Fishes, Side dishes | 2 Comments »

Ill-planned dinner

Posted by Jeanne on March 17, 2010

It’s St. Patrick’s day.  By all accounts we should be drinking green bear and eating corned beef and cabbage and boiled potatoes.  Lest you think we’re completely awful, Curt is having a Guinness.  But we’re not going out, because I was at work for 11 hours (again) and I’m about half dead.

Instead, we decided to eat leftovers-from-the-freezer for dinner (pasta with Italian sausage) and have some hummus while it was warming up.  Uh, international St. Patty’s day?  Next year I promise to make some corned beef.  Or at least a Guinness stew.


2 14-oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained (reserve some of the liquid) OR about 3.5 C otherwise cooked chickpeas

0.33 C liquid from the garbanzo beans – if you use dried beans and didn’t save the cooking liquid (like me) you can just water plus a bit of extra olive oil

0.33 C tahini (sesame paste – I like the toasted kind, but plain is fine)

0.33 C lemon juice

3 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

0.25 C olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1.   In food processor, process:  salt, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and garlic.  Add tahini, olive oil and liquid from the garbanzo beans and blend well.

2.   Add chickpeas and process to desired consistency.

3.  Refrigerate or freeze (can be frozen for up to 3 months).

When you serve it, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cracked black pepper.  I like it on cucumbers and tomatoes, Curt puts it on everything.  Or eats it with a spoon.

Posted in Appetizers, Cooking, Side dishes, Vegetarian | 1 Comment »

Decadent Bourdain dinner

Posted by Jeanne on March 3, 2010

We were in Massachusetts for Valentine’s Day – I lived in western Mass. briefly shortly after graduating from college, and my amazing friends Erika and Peter still live out there.  They had their first baby in October and it was high time we got out to visit.

The trip out was a bit of a fiasco – we spent an impromptu night (sans luggage) in a Best Western in Detroit, courtesy of Delta Airlines and the fabulous weather.  We actually arrived in Albany, NY instead of Hartford, CT on Friday, February 12th.  Erika picked us up (at their quite lovely airport) and we were off for a weekend of good shopping, good friends, and really great eating.

Sunday night was the crowning glory – the all-Les Halles Cookbook Bourdain dinner.

The menu, with some commentary and a few photos:

Asparagus & haricots verts salad, p. 062

I think this is going to be the salad of this summer – it’s so easy to make, and it seems like there are a million was to modify it.

Onion soup les halles, p. 045 – 046

The onions took much, much longer to carmelise than indicated in the recipe.  But we kept at it, thankful we started very early, and all was well.

Slab bacon is a gift from the gods.

Holiday-themed cookware!  Wrong holiday… oh well.

Petatou, p. 096 – 097

Tasty but quite olivey – something important if only 25% of the people at your table like olives.

I scored a ton of olives.  I heart olives.

Steak au poivre, p. 130 – 131

If one is lacking the requisite cookware for a dish like this, one may substitute the lid of their gargantuan cast-iron dutch oven.

There are no other pictures.  It was THAT good, and it was gone that fast.

Posted in Cooking, Entrees, red meat, Side dishes, Soups & stews | Leave a Comment »

Squash for breakfast?

Posted by Jeanne on January 26, 2010

Yes.  It’s good.  You could also make this more savory than sweet and use it as a side, but really – it makes a great breakfast.  Besides, all these pumpkin spice latte and pumpkin muffin people are ALREADY having squash for breakfast.  They just don’t like to admit it.

I based this on a savory dish that I found in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian – the recipe is called Autumn Millet Bake.  It suggests quinoa as a substitute for millet, and we didn’t have any fresh cranberries… so off I went.

Butternut Squash and Quinoa Breakfast Casserole – makes 6 breakfast or side-dish sized servings.

0.75 cup quinoa

2 TB olive oil

1 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)

A 1.5 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares

0.5 tsp salt

2 TB maple syrup

1 cup warm water

Preheat your oven to 375F, and spray or otherwise grease a 9×6 or other casserole dish.

Warm the olive oil over medium high heat in a skillet.  Add the quinoa and toast, stirring constantly, about two to three minutes until it starts to smell a bit nutty and, well, toasty.  Spread in the bottom of the casserole dish and sprinkle with the salt.

Toss the squash and dried cranberries over the top.  Drizzle the maple syrup over the whole thing, and then pour the water over the top.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and stir gently – there should be only a little liquid left and the squash should be almost done.  Bake another fifteen minutes, until all  the water has evaporated and the squash is beginning to brown a bit on the exposed edges.

Serve hot or warm – you can top with chopped nuts, or with a bit of goat cheese on top as well.

After it’s baked, I just divide it into six little containers and put them in the fridge so they are ready to go in the morning.  Quinoa is a whole grain and has quite a bit of protein, so it’s good for me in the morning.  If I have anything that is just carbs, even something like oatmeal that is supposed to fill you up, I’m hungry an hour later.  Always.

Perfect little container of breakfast, just for me on a wintry morning.

Posted in Cooking, Entrees, Side dishes, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Jeanne on January 14, 2010

We received an enormous amount of feta cheese for Christmas.  Curt loves feta on just about everything.  I love feta because it can be turned into spanikopita, which is not my favorite thing to make, but is one of my favorite things to eat.

The long, painful way to make spanikopita is using phyllo dough.  Phyllo dough is paper thin and bitch to work with, because it tears easily when it gets dried out, but if you get it too wet all the sheets stick together.  You paste 10 to 12 sheets of it together with butter before wrapping the filling and baking.  It is tedious and time-consuming and a huge pain in the ass.

I didn’t do it this way.  The results aren’t quite as good, but are still really delicious, and the assembly is MUCH more simple.

Lazy Spanikopita – makes about 2 dozen

1 box or batch of puff pastry (if you’re going with prepared, get the all-butter kind, and thaw it before starting.  There should be two “sheets” of puff pastry to each box.)

Melted butter, for sealing the pastries and brushing on the top


24 oz. fresh spinach, chopped, steamed, and drained well (or 2 10 oz. packages of frozen spinach, thawed and drained well)

2 large eggs

0.75 to 1 cup crumbled feta

1 clove garlic, very finely minced

Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Mix filling ingredients well.

Unfold one of two boxed puff pastry sheets slightly to mend the seams, or roll out half of the homemade puff pastry.  Cut with a pizza cutter into 12 squares.

Or, you know, 15.  No wonder those were such a pain in the butt to fold…

Place a tablespoon of filling in each square – remember this is only half the batch so don’t go nuts on the filling.  Also, they are much harder to seal if they’re overfilled.

Artfully close-up picture of filled rows, pre-folding.

Brush melted butter on two edges of the pastry, and then fold the other two over to make a triangle.  Press the air out of the inside of the pastry, and pinch the edges shut.  Repeat.

Arrange on a large baking sheet pan, and brush with a little bit of butter so they look pretty after they’re baked.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until puffed up and a lovely golden brown color.

While the first batch bakes, prepare and fold the second batch.

Golden brown and delicious and filled with spinach-y, cheesy goodness.  These are about four-bite-per-triangle sized – you could certainly make them smaller if you want a more one or two-bite-sized appetizer.

Posted in Appetizers, Cooking, Side dishes, Vegetarian | 1 Comment »