Thursday, October 6, 2011

Grilled Pork Burgers From Sunday Suppers at Lucques, one of the all time favorite CBC books.

It is still summer here in Houston and I love the Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin cook book. What do those things have in common? Last night's dinner of course. I flipped to the summer section of this Charm City Cook Book Club book and made most of this recipe. I didn't notice the Romesco until I had already made the burgers, but they were memorable and tasty even without it. The recipe is extensive if you do the whole thing but the burgers are amazing and can be mixed in advance. The coleslaw recipe that comes after it is easy and a great complement. First you make a shallot, garlic, thyme, cumin, and dried chili mixture. Then you have to stave off the young ones who don't understand that cooking takes more than the 30 seconds since they decided they were hungry to make.
Next mix together the pork, bacon, chorizo (I had turkey not pork), parsley, shallot mixture, and salt & pepper.
Let the mixture "meld" overnight.
Then grill the burgers, I made slider size, top with Manchego cheese, a buttered grilled then mayo'd bun, and a few pieces of arugula.
They taste amazing eaten properly or torn apart and stuffed in your mouth. Enjoy!
And go buy the book...I am not giving you this recipe. Everything I have made out of this book has been wonderful.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Please tell me what these are?

At almost $30 a pound they better be good. Similar to spot prawns they are huge and look tasty.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Potato and watercress soup, in preparation for fall that might never come to Houston

After all the cold weather talk I have heard from my friends back North I decided I needed soup. It can be cheap and healthy and I would like make soup more often as a way to stretch our grocery dollar. So I pulled out my New England Soup Factory cook book, a book I got at Costco last year and pursued the pages. Potato-Watercress soup seemed like a good option that would be inexpensive but not too heavy. It is still 90 degrees here in Houston.
I thought I might have a hard time finding watercress but I am very lucky to drive by a Super HMart on my way to and from Aveline's school. It is an amazing store. Cheap produce and an amazing seafood section.
It's a simple soup really cook the onions, celery, and garlic in butter. Then add the potatoes, and enough chicken stock to cover the potatoes. Simmer until the potatoes are tender.
Add the watercress and stir until wilted. Mix in the cream Worcestershire sauce Tabasco and season with salt and pepper.

Blend until smooth. And warm through. I served it with a big piece of whole wheat country bread. Aveline and Colette both loved it and Aveline even dipped her bread in the soup.
Potato-Watercress Soup
New England Soup Factory by Marjorie Druker & Clara Silverstein
Makes 8 to 10 servings

2 tbls butter
1 large Spanish onion peeled and diced
3 ribs celery, diced
3 whole cloves garlic, peeled
5 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1-2 quarts chicken stock
2 bunches watercress
2 cups light cream
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes Tabasco sauce
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

In a stockpot melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the potatoes and pour in the chicken stock until the potatoes are submerged. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium high and simmer until potatoes are tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add the watercress. Stir until wilted. Add the cream, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt, and pepper. Puree the soup in the pot using a hand blender or working in batches with a regular blender until smooth. Return the pot to medium-high heat and simmer for an additional 3 minutes to warm through.

Aveline's first day of school

Aveline had her first day at The Arbor School on Monday. She was so excited. She got up 4 times the night before, much to the dismay of Robby and I. We have been planning and saving for this school for almost a year so there was a lot of anticipation. We tried to prepare her as much as possible and I guess it worked because early Monday Morning she was up brushing her teeth and wanted to go.
The night before we read Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss. And it was a fitting and emotional book because Aveline has come so far in her almost 5 years of life. She is working hard, stubborn and determined when she wants to be. I hope that attitude will help her to overcome any difficulties she might have in the future. Keep it up Aveline we all love you!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Funny things about Texas...

They drive fast, could not be more polite, and take even the charcoal at Costco for their weekend burgers way too serious. "Competition" briquets

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Moved to Houston

We made it. The drive here was long but nice. From Baltimore we drove through West Virginia, across to Kentucky, down through Tennessee, through Arkansas, and down to Houston.
It took us four days, three crappy motels, and lots of yummy food but we made it.
The house we rented is nice. Now it's time to unpack and reassemble all the Ikea furniture (ugh) and then off to Fargo for my Cousin's wedding and to get our girls!

West Viginia had a beautiful welcome center overlooking the valley.

First BBQ of the trip. Better was yet to come.

Never been to Kentucky before.

Hanging out at Woodford Reserve Bourbon distillery while Robby went on a tour.

Still the best fried chicken I have ever had and worth the drive.

He is so detected.

Very interesting state...

We made it to Texas! :). Only five and a half more hours to go :(.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Playing in the rain

After a really nice dinner at The Point in Fells point, where I had one of the best soft shell crab sandwhiches I have ever had, we got stuck in the rain walking home. These are the good times in life.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

BBQ is soooo good, glad we are moving to Texas and not Maine.

Why didn't we stop here before? We have visited Richmond many times and probably driven by this place, stupidly, CD's Barbecue. When we saw it Sunday we quickly made a u-turn. Even though Robby and I had just agreed that we didn't need lunch because breakfast was so big. So much for that, within minutes we both had a sandwich in our hands.

It was just a rolling kitchen, BBQ, and some picnic tables. Everything was very clean (until we showed up and Colette lost her lunch). The weather was perfect so after a few questions to the Owner we got the sliced pork sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. And the pulled pork sandwich. 3 Different BBQ sauces on the side and were happy people. we both agreed that the sliced pork which had the fat still on it was better than the pulled pork which had the fat removed and mixed with sauce, but I would eat either again in a heartbeat.

I hope Houston can deliver some good BBQ even if it might be mostly beef.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Adventures in Ham round #2

My brother talks the talk but can he walk the walk? He took the ham to his house and after only one night and not much of a dent in the ham he returned it to me. Not impressed he said. He wants a cow.

So I am developing a plan. First I went to my southern cookbooks and made this great pea and rice salad that is perfect for spring. Very tasty and good for lunch for the rest of the week. I have 4-5 crock pot recipes I plan on trying with the ham, one of which is a potatoes and ham gratin that I can't wait for. Stay tuned for that but try this salad with any great ham you can find in the mean time.

Cold Rice Salad with Country Ham, English Peas, and Mint
Adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook
Serves 4 people

1/3 cup plus 1 tbls extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup long grain rice (I used Basmati)
3 cups of water
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups fresh English peas, shelled
2 tbls white wine vinegar
1 tbls lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 pound country ham, finely diced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint (I had dried and used 2 tlbs)
black pepper to taste

Pour 1 tbls of the oil into a 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. When is shimmers, add the rice and saute, stirring, until it releases some of its fragrance, about 1 minutes. Add 2 cups of the water and 1 tsp salt and give it a gentle stir to distribute the rice evenly. When the water boils, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer vigorously until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 20 mins. spread the rice in a 9-X-13- inch roasting pan and place it in the freezer until chilled, about 10 mins.

While the rice cooks, bring the remaining 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add the peas and blanch intil they are al dente, about 3 minutes. Strain the peas and run them under ice-cold water to stop the cooking.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1/3 cup oil with the vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard until well blended, about 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the rice with the peas, ham, and mint. If the dressing has begun to separate, whisk again to emulsify. Pour the dressing evenly over the salad and toss gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Adventures in Ham- Round #1

Thank you Bon Appetite for inspiring me to spend my brother's money. Christopher likes to come over to my house a lot, and I like it to, but it does usually involve him being hungry. So on Monday when he was over, but not as hungry as usual, we looked through the new issue of Bon Appetit and it reminded me, with their new article about ham, how much I wanted a leg on my counter. See over the holidays this past year I was lucky enough to be at Joanne's house when her friends Chris and Pam and their great kids came over for dinner. Chris brought this Virginia ham he had picked up on a recent trip. It was wonderful. Basically an American version of Prosciutto but cheaper. So on Monday I convinced (not too difficultly) Christopher that he needed one and I would split it with him. So online we went and now 3 days later it is on the counter
Now it is not exactly the one I planned on. We ordered a Edwards Wigwam Brand Bone-in cooked Virginia Ham. It is quite tasty. But I think what I will get next time is their New American Surryano ham. You might ask...What is the difference? Well the Wigwam ham is salted, covered in brown sugar, and smoked then dry aged for a year. The Surryano ham is smoked for 7 days with hickory wood then aged for 400 days. From the description in the catalogue the Surryano looks more like European hams. But I will know for sure when I get one. Eat up boys there is more meat coming!

Join us as we do all that we can do with this great piece of meat.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Moms, please make your own baby food.

I really believe that one of the best things you can do for your kids is feed them well. That starts from the first baby food they eat. I made all of Aveline's baby food and used this great book Top 100 Baby Purees by Annabel Karmel as a guide. It really is easy, fast, cheap, and much healthier than store bought food. Just look at the color of homemade peas and the store bought ones side by side and you will see .

I use a lot of frozen veggies and fruit for the purees and as the baby gets older I blend up less salty versions of what we eat for dinner and freeze it for the baby food. I also think it's important to limit the sugar that a baby gets. The first foods that I gave both of my girls were vegetables. I started with carrots then week by week added things like green beans, broccoli, squash, etc. One of Colette's favorites is squash and spinach. I use plain Greek yogurt instead of fruit flavored ones and they both love it. We are training their pallets from the first things they eat. Don't forget to give them a wide variety of foods and include things that you might not like. We used things like avocados, asparagus, papaya, and tomatoes. I also added herbs like basil and thyme to give the food some complexity so that they would not want just bland food when they got older.
I am not sure if this is being helpful or hindering but it is cute.

One of my girls favorite recipes from the book...

Lovely lentils
makes 5 portions
suitable for freezing
7-9 months

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tlbs chopped celery
1 tlbs vegetable oil
1/4 cup split red (or any split variety) lentils
1 medium sweet potato (8 oz) peeled and chopped
1 3/4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

Saute the onion, carrots, and celery in the oil for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the lentils and sweet potatoes and pour in the stock or water. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer, covered, for 20 mins. Puree in a blender.

~Lentils are good, cheap source of protein. They also provide iron, which is very important for brain development, particularly between the ages of six months and two years. Lentils can be difficult for young babies to digest and should be combined with plenty of fresh vegetables, as in this recipe. You can transform this tasty puree into a delicious soup for the family by adding more stock and some seasoning.