Thursday, May 31, 2007

What are we feeding our kids?

The NY Times has an article today about the ubiquitous Children's Menu that all restaurants seem to have.

I believe there is a whole lot of value to expanding children's tastes while they're young. They get in the habit of trying new foods and new experiences; plus, a variety of foods is much healthier than a constant barage of french fries and pasta.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hazelnut-crusted Chicken strips with Chipotle Honey dipping sauce

The Recipe:

½ cup honey
¼ cup cider vinegar
2 T. Creole or good brown Dijon mustard
1 T. minced chipotle in adobo

Mix in blender. Can be made way, way ahead.

4 chicken breasts, sliced into 5 strips each
3/4 cup. Fine dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup finely chopped toasted hazelnuts
Pinch of dried thyme
3 T. chopped parsley
2 T. olive oil
1/2 cup Orange Juice
S & P
Orange slices for garnish

Add Chicken strips to OJ, let marinate 1 hr or more. Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients except oil. Remove chicken from OJ; toss chicken strips, one at a time, in nut mixture; set aside.
Heat oil in large skillet over med-hi heat. Fry strips in batches, taking care not to overcrowd them, until golden brown on the outside but not burned (they won't cook through but don't worry!) Then Lay out on parchment and bake until done, about 10 more minutes. Serve with sauce.

The Story:

Another kid meal (chicken nuggets and honey mustard sauce) updated for adults. 'tis yummy and can easily be served on a hors d'oeurve buffet or for dinner with a nice salad.

Anthony Bourdain shreds Top Chef

and it ain't pretty.

If you haven't seen his shredding of the Food Network stars, it's here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Stock bases

Do you use a stock base or bullion?

I make my own chicken stock, but not vegetable or beef. I've been using "Better than Bullion" organic brands for both of those. I like the vegetable well enough but it's nothing special. It's much cheaper than buying vegetable stock in cans or boxes (and Swanson- I think it's Swanson- has too much red bell pepper in it.) Next time I place an order I'll try Penzey's veg. base.

Has anyone found success with another brand that they like for vegetable stock?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Apricot Goat Cheese panini

The Recipe:

8 Slices multi-grain bread (cut crusts off)
4 Tbsp. Butter, melted
4 Tbsp. apricot preserves
12 thin slices prosciutto, sliced into ribbons if preferred
4 Tbsp. crumbled goat cheese

Brush one side of each slice of bread with butter. Lay slices out, butter down; spread with apricot preserves. Arrange prosciutto and cheese on half of slices and make sandwiches. Grill on Panini grill or in hot skillets until warmed through and the bread is toasty, a few minutes per side. Cut into 4 triangles per sandwich.

Serve immediately. Makes 16 hors d'oeuvres, or a quick lunch for 4 (add a salad).

The Story:

Grown-up grilled cream cheese 'n jelly. Yum yum.

All amounts are approximate, of course. It's a sandwich, have fun with it.

My sister-in-law gave me the Le Creuset panini grill a couple years back. I didn't really use it much at first, then one day I just started to play around with it- now, I'm so hooked. Other panini fillings we love:
Leftover grilled vegetables with a little goat cheese or fontina and a drizzle of rosemary vinegrette
Sliced turkey, apple slices and grated cheddar cheese

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Truly fresh food

Mother's day weekend means gardening for me. I spent most of Sunday putting in my tomatoes and beans, as well as planting the radish and carrot seeds. The peppers take a long time to get estabished from seed, it seems to me, so I'll have to put them in next weekend.
The perennials have come back in force, however. The raspberries have taken over their alotted spots and are spreading rapidly, as are the blackberries. The strawberries are loaded with li'l green berries too. I picked all the cherries off of the cherry tree, since I just planted it last year; apparently that makes it branch out more and produce more fruit in the future. We'll see.
The herbs on the deck are exploding, too. The chives are in beautiful (edible) flower, see above. The sage, tarragon and thyme all came back as well. The rosemary died over the winter even though I brought it in, so I got a new one for Mother's day. I'll pick up some annual herbs this week to fill in the gaps.
There's nothing like walking outside and picking our food fresh. Deciding what to have for dinner based on what's ripe, or adding a handful of truly fresh herbs to any sauce or dish. Why bother even bringing it inside- sometimes we'll just stand in the garden eating tomatoes or throwing down raspberries with abandon. I know what went into the growing of this stuff; no pesticides, no herbicides, no waxes to keep it looking "fresh".
Not even a farmer's market can equal the taste of growing your own.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Crab Remoulade Mesclun Salad

The Recipe


1 sourdough or french bread baguette, sliced into 30 very thin slices
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 Tbsp. Creole seasoning- recipe follows

Drizzle oil over bread slices in bowl, or brush a little onto each slice. Toss bread gently with seasoning, bake at 375 until crisp at the edges, 4-5 minutes.

Creole Seasoning:

4 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. Onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. thyme leaves
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. celery seed

Mix thoroughly in small bowl.

Remoulade Sauce:

2 cups mayonnaise
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
2/3 cup creole mustard or good brown mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. finely chopped capers, drained well
2 tsp. prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper or TT
2/3 cup finely chopped scallions
1/3 cup finely diced celery
3 Tbsp. finely minced red bell pepper
3 Tbsp. minced parsley

Mix everything in bowl. Let sit at least 1 hour or up to one day for flavors to blend.

Salad and final assembly:

3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. White wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. creole mustard
pinch of s & p
1 lb mesclun (baby leaf) salad
20 oz. lump crabmeat, well picked over

Quickly mix dressing ingredients; dress greens lightly. Divide mesclun between 10 cold plates. Mix crabmeat with ½ of remoulade. Top each plate with an even amount. Decoratively drizzle remaining remoulade over edge of plate; add three croutons to each plate.

Serves 10 as a first course or about 5 or 6 as a main dish

The Story

This is nowhere near the pain in the neck to make that it sounds like. And it's good, very good.

The creole seasoning can be made well in advance. It makes much more than you need- which is lucky, because you will end up dreaming about the croutons and making them just for snacks. Trust me, you will, they're that good.

This recipe so easily scales up and down for more or fewer guests. It makes a great main course or as a plated first course.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Calories and farming

Sent in by alert reader *rob: You are what you grow.

After I finish the other reading I'm trying to do, The Omnivore's Dilema just came in on hold from the library.

Vegan Haggis?

Sent in by alert reader Nicole, we submit for inspection: Vegan Haggis.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Mushrooms in Princeton

The New Jersey Mycological Association is having a foray to find the morels of spring this Sunday morining at 10AM at the woods of the Institute of Advanced Studies near the Princeton Waterworks. They have experts who can identify different 'shrooms so you don't have to worry about your finds.

I can't go! I'm so upset- I would love to do this. The details and more info are at the link above; make sure to check it out.

(cross-posted at CoNJL)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Seared Cajun Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Andouie Gravy and Celery Root Mashed Potatoes

The Recipe


6 Tbsp. canola or veg. oil
6 Tbsp. flour
1 cup minced red bell pepper
½ cup minced onion
½ cup minced celery
3 cups chicken stock
4 oz fully cooked Andouie sausage, chopped into ¼ in. dice
pinch cayenne (watch- Andouie may be hot!)
2 Tbsp chopped parsley

Heat oil over med. heat; whisk in flour to form roux; cook over med-low heat to medium brown, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Be very careful not to let it burn. Add vegetables and sauté 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in broth. Add sausage and cayenne; simmer 5 minutes more. Can be set aside at this point until the pork is done. Rewarm and add parsley just before serving.


A 1 ½ lb. celeriac (aka celery root) cut into 1/2 in dice
3 lb. russet potatoes cut into 1 in dice
10 oz butter
4 oz. half and half or buttermilk
Kosher Salt and pepper, TT

Cook celeriac in boiling salted water for 5 min. Then add potatoes, cook until done, about 20 more minutes. Drain, and return to warm pot for 2 min to dry vegetables. Mash until smooth; lightly mix in butter and half and half, S&P to taste.


2 ½ lb. pork tenderloin (at least two)
1 1/2 Tbsp. dried Thyme
1 1/2 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 Tbsp. cumin
Kosher Salt and cracked Pepper
¼ cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 400. Mix spices; Salt & Pepper the pork. Dredge pork with spices, set aside. Heat oil in oven proof skillets. Sear tenderloins to a good golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Put skillets in oven at 400; roast pork until reaches internal 140, about 10 minutes. Let rest while rewarming gravy. Slice thinly, and serve with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Serves 8 as a main course

The Story

You will love this. Oh, yes, you will. We're trying to eat less meat so I haven't made it in a while, and now I'm dreaming of it. Wonder if pork tenderloin is on sale this week...

Be careful- a pork tenderloin is not a pork loin. The tenderloins are often sold in cryovac packages and weigh between 1 and 1 1/2 lbs each. They usually require very little trimming once opened, but if you see any silverskin or fat lumps you should clean it up.

Celeriac (or Celery Root) is a knobby, bumpy root you can find in the produce section. If your supermarket doesn't have it, you can substitute more potatoes. You can lower the fat in the mashed potatoes by using buttermilk instead of the half and half- gives a nice tang to the potatoes.