Archive for the ‘dairy-free’ Category

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Cauliflower and Tomatoes


We’ve had snow here in Seattle. Some areas have been harder hit than our house, but in the Seattle area even a couple of inches of snow is enough to bring the city to a standstill.

Luckily, before the snow hit, I fortified our home with supplies to get us through the storm (though we are running tragically low on Rum) including plenty of options for soup. To me, nothing tastes better on a cold, snowy night than a steaming hot bowl of soup.

I wasn’t planning on writing a blog about this particular soup, but after I posted the photo above a friend asked for the recipe. Since it had turned out so tasty I thought why not share it. However, since I hadn’t planned a post, the iPhone photo above is the only photo I have, no process photos. The steps are fairly straightforward though.

I served the soup with foccacia bread that I had dotted with kalamata olives. The salty tang was nice with the soup but any bread will do in a snow storm.

Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Cauliflower and Tomatoes
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
If you are not a fan of tomatoes, feel free to leave them out. Same goes for the red pepper flakes, add a little or as much heat as your mouth can stand.
  • 1 butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning mix
  • 1-2 teaspoons (or more) red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups chicken or veggie stock
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Roasted Vegetables
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • ½ onion
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. While the oven preheats, peel the butternut squash and cut it into 1-inch cubes. Toss the cubes with the olive oil, herbs, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and place them in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender and brown around the edges.
  3. While the squash cooks, cut the cauliflower into small florets. Toss them, along with the tomatoes, with the olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and place them in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
  4. Once the squash is done cooking remove it from the oven and place the pan with the cauliflower into the oven. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring once during the cooking.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large pot, combine the cooked squash with the chicken broth and bring just to a boil. Using an immersion blender (or working in batches in a regular blender) puree the soup. Stir in the vinegar and check for seasoning adding salt and pepper as desired.
  6. To serve, divide the cauliflower and tomato mixture between the bowls. Ladle the butternut squash soup around the cauliflower. Enjoy.


Monday, January 16th, 2012

Tuna Puttanesca

Last week I was able to take part in Slow Food Seattle’s Tuna Canning Workshop. I had so wanted to go to the first one last year (especially after hearing all the raves about the tuna) but work got in the way. Pacific Northwest Tuna is exquisite (I especially love it raw) and I certainly love being able to support a local fisherman so I bought my ticket and reserved my flat of tuna as soon as it was possible.

We spent the day cutting and trimming the tuna, then stuffing it into jars. Each jar then gets a little salt, a little olive oil and a piece of carrot (Jeremy the fisherman’s secret ingredient). Finally the jars are sealed and then placed in a pressure canner for 90 minutes. The tuna comes out bubbling and hot so it has to cool for a few minutes before it get packed up to take home.

I wanted to cook something delicious with my first jar of tuna, but I’ve been a bit of a hermit lately so a trip to the store just didn’t sound like much fun. I decided to turn to a classic Italian dish, Pasta Puttanesca which requires no fresh ingredients.

Puttanesca has a bit of a tawdry history as it is said that it was invented by prostitutes. Some say that it’s aroma was used to lure new patrons while others say that they made it because it was quick and could be cooked entirely from the pantry (since many of them had no refrigeration available). Of course there are others that say it was simply invented by busy Italian women who wanted something quick to serve their family. Whichever version of history you believe, know that this is one of the most delicious pasta dishes around.

You might be tempted to leave the anchovy paste out of this dish but trust me, don’t. It adds a certain salty “what is that” flavor that is essential. I served mine over fresh pasta (just because I’ve been practicing my fresh pasta technique) but dry fettuccine or spaghetti will be just as delicious. Here’s the ingredients.

Start by covering the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil. Once it’s warm add the garlic and anchovy and let it fry for about 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomatoes, black olives, capers and red pepper flakes and let it simmer while the pasta cooks.

When the pasta is almost done, add the tuna to the pan just to warm through.

Finally, drain the pasta then add it to the sauce. Let it cook for another 30 seconds or so then serve.

We had a friend over to enjoy this dinner with us. She took one bite and her eyes got big. “Yum” was all she could say. Salty, spicy and tangy this is the perfect pasta for a cold winter’s night.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Tuna Puttanesca
Recipe type: Entree
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
This sauce takes as long to prepare as it does to cook the pasta. Start the sauce while you are waiting for the pasta water to boil. Finish it as the pasta cooks.
  • 1-2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • 3 Tablespoon capers
  • 1-2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 can good quality oil-packed tuna
  1. Cover the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil. When it is warm, add the garlic and anchovy and let it fry for about 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes, black olives, capers and red pepper flakes and let it simmer.
  3. When the pasta is almost done, add the tuna to the sauce just to warm through.
  4. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it then add it to the sauce. Let it cook for another 30 seconds or so then serve.



Monday, December 5th, 2011

Vegetable Terrine with Goat Cheese Inlay and the Final Challenge

Here it is. My last Charcutepalooza post. The challenge for this, the final month in our year of challenges? Show off a little. Basically, have a party, invite a bunch of friends and feed them until they are ready to burst.

Of course there were a few more guidelines than “just feed people”. A list of items (using at least four) that our meal needed to include: something smoked, cured or brined, something made with pork belly, a pate or terrine,  rillettes or confit and sausage of some kind.

I pulled out all of my trusty charcuterie books. For days I pored over them, considering my menu. A few items easily made the list (my buffalo chicken rillettes and pork belly confit) but some needed more consideration.

Finally, after days of adding something to my list only to replace it with something else two hours later, I settled on the following menu:

To start:
• Scotch Eggs
• Baguettes topped with Bacon Jam and Tomato Confit
• Buffalo Chicken Rillettes
• Baguettes topped with Goat Cheese and Lonzino

• Vegetable Terrine with Goat Cheese Inlay (based loosely on the version found in Charcuterie, recipe follows)
• Brined Pork Loin with Cured Lemons (from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home)
• Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Maple Syrup and Pecans
• Jim Drohman’s Pork Belly Confit with tender and bitter greens, mustard vinaigrette and sous vide eggs (pork belly recipe from Charcuterie)
• Polenta with Parmesan

And of course there was dessert (I served a nut tart I picked up at Will Bake for Food) and many plentiful cocktails (including a take on a lemon drop that included lavender and rosemary)

Ninety percent of my friends (and my husband) work at a the corporate office of a major corporation that does not allow anyone to take the day after Thanksgiving off work. So, that is the day I settled on for my gathering. Guests started arriving as they got off work and I started feeding them right away. And then I kept feeding them for the next four hours.

It was a glorious night of gluttony. Think about it, how often do you get to eat pork that has been prepared six different ways. The pork belly confit, which was cooked with cinnamon, cloves and allspice than deep fried was my favorite dish of the night, though the still-pink and meltingly tender pork loin was a close second. But then again, those brussels sprouts were pretty good too. Oh, and the veggie terrine…

I’m sad that my year of Charcutepalooza challenges has come to a close though I’m grateful for the new skills I’ve gained and the community of meat-enthusiasts that I have found. I plan to continue my learning and experimentation. Making my own bacon, grinding and stuffing my own sausage, whipping up a rillettes, just because. And now that I’ve got my curing chamber up and running, cured muscles and sausages are again within my grasp.

Vegetable Terrine with Goat Cheese Inlay
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
This vegetable terrine was a welcome addition to a very meat-centric meal. Add or subtract other vegetables as you see fit, just be sure to think about color transitions as you layer them in you terrine. Make sure to season each vegetable as you prepare it.
  • 1 eggplant
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 4 red pepper
  • 2 portobello mushrooms
  • 1 handful green beans
Goat Cheese Inlay
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 6 ounce Goat cheese, softened
  • 2 Tablespoon fresh soft herbs (parsley, basil, etc)
  • salt and pepper
Gelatin Vinaigrette
  • 2 teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • 3 Tablespoon Water
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Slice the tomatoes into ¼ inch slices. Shake of as much liquid as you can. Spread the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 2-3 hours or until the tomatoes are dehydrated. Once cool, cut into ¼ inch pieces. (This step can be done 1-2 days in advance)
  2. Heat the grill or preheat the broiler.
  3. Slice the eggplant, zucchini and squash into ⅛ inch slices. Toss the slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and grill or broil, turning once until tender. Set aside to cool. Repeat the process with the mushrooms and green beans. Roast, peel and deseed the red peppers, leaving the pepper pieces as large as possible.
  4. Stir together the diced tomatoes, herbs and goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper then spoon the goat cheese onto a piece of plastic wrap and use it to form the goat cheese into a log shape the same length as the mold you plan to use.
  5. Heat the water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over it and allow it to bloom. Heat the bloomed gelatin over low heat until dissolved. Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining vinaigrette ingredients. Add the bloomed gelatin to the vinaigrette and set aside in a warm place.
  6. Line a terrine mold with plastic wrap leaving enough overhang on the two long sides to cover the terrine. Lay the eggplant slices over in the mold so that the ends hang over the sides. Brush them with the gelatin vinaigrette. Repeat the process with the zucchini. In the bottom of the terrine add a layer of green beans, followed by mushrooms, and red pepper, brushing each layer with vinaigrette. Spoon the goat cheese in a line down the middle of the terrine. Layer green beans and squash along the sides of the goat cheese. Add a layer of red pepper. Fold the zucchini flaps over, brush with vinaigrette and then finally fold over the eggplant flaps, brush with any remaining vinaigrette. Fold the plastic wrap over and refrigerate overnight.
  7. Remove the terrine from the refrigerator. Open the top flaps of plastic and turn the terrine onto a cutting board. Remove plastic and cut into ¾ inch slices.


Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Rillettes


I was going to do it. I had every intention. I was going to take a chicken, pull its skin off like a disgusting, slimy sweater and then refashion the whole thing into something that people have said is delicious.

I’ll be honest though, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. For one, the galatine looks like old food (as in not modern) and something I wasn’t really interested in. Secondly it made a lot. I mean the whole idea of this month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was to stretch a small amount of food into an amount to feed a group. I just didn’t want to make a bunch of food that would eventually go to waste and I just didn’t have enough free time this month to throw together a dinner party.

Then came the thing that made the whole point mute. I got sick. So sick. Nothing sounded good to eat and I had no energy for cooking.

Finally with two days to spare, I felt up to cooking, but, I still wasn’t up to full Jennifer strength. I needed my challenge to be easily completed in just a few hours. Galatine out. Rillettes in.

I’ve made rillettes before (I made the fantastic recipe from the Pork and Sons cookbook last month as part of my meal) but I’ve always made it with pork. I wanted to try something new so I thought I would use chicken. Then I started thinking about flavorings. I love the tangy flavor of buffalo wings and I thought that would be in interesting direction to take. Here’s the ingredients.

To start, I combined all the ingredients except for the chicken and the vinegar in a saucepan and heated it until the lard had melted. Then I added the chicken and brought the pot to a low simmer. I stirred it a couple of times, but there was enough liquid in the pot that I didn’t have to worry about it too much.

After an hour I added the vinegar and let it cook for another 45 minutes or so until the chicken was falling apart. Then, using a slotted spoon, I moved all the meat to the bowl of my stand mixer.

Using the paddle attachment I ran the mixer for about a minute until the meat had broken apart. I tested for flavor and consistency and added a few spoonfuls of the cooking liquid and a splash more of vinegar.


Then I packed the meat into 3 half-pint jars.


While I packed the jars, the cooking liquid separated into layers with the fat on top, so I was able to easily spoon a layer of fat top each of the packed jars.


I stashed the jars in the fridge so the fat could re-solidify and the flavors could marry.

Since buffalo wings are often served with blue cheese dressing, I thought that a hunk of good blue cheese, along with some crusty bread and a few celery sticks would be the perfect accompaniments.

The rillettes made a delightful dinner. The “buffalo wing” flavor was subtle, but delicious. I could have used a little more heat (and maybe a little more tang) but overall, this recipe is a winner.

Buffalo Chicken Rillettes
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: three 8-oz jars
When checking the rillettes for seasoning, keep in mind that the flavors will not be as strong once the mixture has cooled. Season the mixture a little stronger than you think you should.
  • 5 ounces pork fat or lard
  • ½ Cup Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce
  • ½ Cup Water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce
  • 1 Pinch cayenne
  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • 1½ Pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces, large veins removed.
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  1. Combine all the ingredients, except for the chicken and white vinegar, in a saucepan and heat gently until the fat has melted. Add the chicken and cook over very low heat, stirring often for 1 hour. Add the vinegar to the pan and continue to cook until the meat shreds easily, about another hour.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix at low speed until the meat breaks into pieces. Adjust consistency by adding a few spoonfuls of the cooking liquid to the bowl (consistency should be spreadable, not runny or dry). Test for seasoning and add more salt, hot sauce or vinegar as needed.
  3. Pack the meat into a suitable jar or ramekin. Allow the cooking liquid to separate and spoon fat over the top of the meat to cover and create a seal.
  4. Serve with crusty bread, celery sticks and good blue cheese.


Monday, August 15th, 2011

Tête Pressée

“She was a good pig. I used to pet her everyday.”

Yes, this is what I was told by the petite girl working the counter when I picked up my pig’s head.

This statement caused some very mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was happy to know that my pig was well loved and cared for. On the other hand, that statement really made me think. Sometimes (too often, I think) it is easy to forget that the meat I eat was a living, breathing thing, just days or hours before. But that statement was a reminder. A slap in the face of a reminder. Another creature has given its life so that I can have nourishment and enjoyment. It’s a sacrifice that needs to be respected.

~ ~ ~

As I worked in the kitchen, making jam and pickles from the rest of my farmer’s market bounty I thought about the head in my cooler bag. I was nervous to start with when I decided to take on this challenge (I was going to make something with trotters but my husband talked me into getting a head) but the more I thought about it the more nervous I got. I have a bit of a gag reflex and I just didn’t know how this was going to go down. Finally, I ran out of projects to procrastinate with and it was time. Well first, maybe a cocktail to steel my nerves.

For my challenge this month, I had decided to make a tête pressée (rolled pressed pigs head). The idea of head cheese (with it’s gelatenousness and all) did not appeal (I mentioned my gag reflex, right). The first step in my project was brining. So, all I had to do was take the head out of the bag, rinse her off, put her in a bowl and then pour the brine over the top. Oh yeah, and cut her tongue out and her ear off. The ear removal went fine, but once I started in on the tongue I saw her teeth. Don’t know why, but that sight set me off. It took great effort for me to finish up, but I did. Phew. Into the fridge for three days of brining.

Finally it was time for step two. Rinse her off and start her boiling. I tried, at this point to singe off all her little face hairs (p.s. this smells awful) but my torch ran out of propane. I decided to deal with them later and get the show on the road. Into the pot she went along with some mirepoix and water (and minus her nose because her whole head wouldn’t fit in the pot).

A couple of hours simmering later and it was time for the next step. I manhandled her out of the pot and set her aside to cool. Meanwhile I strained the stock and sauteed some shallots and parsley.

That feeling came back. The nervous stomach feelings of doom for what was to come. When researching this project I’d come across a post by Hank Shaw in which he was making head cheese. He called picking the meat off the head “grim business” and he’s a hunter for goodness sake. How was I supposed to deal with it?

Perhaps a little more liquid courage. Yes, that might help. I donned some gloves and dug in. The first problem was the hairs. Even the ones that I had singed off were still a problem. I ended up basically having to scrape and cut the skin of the entire head. That done I moved onto the real sticky business. First, removal of the eye. No, wait. First, one more drink. It gave me the courage but the process was still awful. There was gagging and deep breathing and much trying not to throw up. Not fun. But I persevered. Feeling my way through, separating the good from the bad. It’s a grim business indeed.

Happily, now, I was just left with the good stuff. Time to roll. The meat (fat) on my head was quite thick so I sliced it in half. I set out some cheese cloth and put half the head down then layered on the shallots and parsley mixture along with the tongue and all the other tasty meat that I had pulled off the head, then topped it with the other half of the head. Finally I rolled the whole thing up tight and secured it with some butchers twine.

The roll went back into the stock which was then left to cool in the fridge. The idea being that the gelatinous stock kinda gets into the nooks and crannies and holds the whole bit together.

Happily, when it was time to serve, it did just that. I had been so worried that the whole thing would just fall apart when I sliced it (and yes, a few slices did) but for the most part, it worked out great.

I served the tête pressée with thinly sliced red spring onions and spicy Dijon mustard which definitely help to cut the richness of the meat. Best described as unctious, the tête pressée was a wonderful part of our warm August dinner party.

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Five-Spice and Cherry Chicken Sausage

Years and years ago. Back when cooking was a hobby, not a career, I asked my husband to get me the pasta extruder attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. At the time, rather than being an attachment all its own (like it is now), you first had to buy the meat grinder, then you bought a separate plates for the pasta part of the process.

Happily, my husband granted my Christmas wish. Unhappily, after using the extruder just a couple of times, I gave up on it. the pasta came out all clumpy and I was certain the effort involved for the mixer was sure to burn out the motor.

In the years since, even though I still had the meat grinder, I had only used it once or twice to grind raisins for my grandmother’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. I never really thought using the meat grinder as a meat grinder until Charcutepalooza started. Now, I’m using it all the time.


This month’s challenge was to not only make my own sausage (specifically a poultry and fruit sausage), but take the process one step farther and stuff that sausage into casings. A little research yielded the fact that I could buy yet another Kitchen Aid attachment to get the job done (and it would only cost $8).

I placed an order for the attachment and for natural casings, then started plotting what the flavor of my sausage would be. During what seemed like an interminable wait two things happened. First, I got the chance to eat a special lunch at Allium on Orcas Island. The main course of squab with a five-spice and cherry demi helped determine what the flavor profile of my sausage would be. The combination was so good, I knew I had to borrow it. Second, a missed meeting during (one of the last) fried chicken nights at Spring Hill resulted in a number of Twitter messages between Kelly Cline (@kcline on Twitter) and myself that went something like this. Me: “How could we miss each other, I must have walked right past you?” Kelly: “Guess this just means we’ll need to get together another time, how about drinks? Me: “How about you come over at help me stuff some sausage?” And then a flurry of suggestive tweets followed (the topic is low-hanging fruit when it comes to dirty jokes).

Stuffing sausage into casings is a two-person project. I must say, I was grateful for guidance from a set of experienced hands. As we worked, we talked tricks for sausage stuffing (along with more jokes, seriously, it’s like we’re eight), plus family, gardening and the fact that we are both big nerds. What we didn’t manage to do is take any photos. All fours hands were needed for the sausage making. So, while I have photos of the sausage making portion of the project (which was done the day before Kelly came over) the stuffing portion of the project will have to remain a mystery.

Here’s the ingredients.

I started by pouring the port over the cherries (so they would plump a little).

And then I toasted up the spices.

Once they cooled a little I put the mix in my spice grinder And then put them through a sieve to  get rid of the big chunks.

Then I strained the cherries and popped the port into the fridge to use later.

I combined all the ingredients (except that port that I just put in the fridge).

And mixed it all up.

Then, it was grinding time.

I threw the port into the bowl of the newly ground meat.

And mixed it for a couple of minutes until it was sticky and tacky (and honestly, kinda gross looking).

I fried up a little test patty to make sure that the seasonings were good (and oh boy, were they). Then the mix went in the fridge until the next day when Kelly came over.

A couple of hours after her arrival, we had these.

So pretty (in a weird kind of meat-loving way).

I thought a little tang would be a nice compliment to the richness of the sausage, so I quick-pickled some sweet onion and fresh cherries kind of using a recipe from David Lebovitz but instead of using the spices he suggested, I used allspice berries and star anise.

At dinner time I whipped up some Israeli couscous and gently sautéed the sausages. Alongside I sautéed some kale tips seasoned simply with salt and pepper.

Finally I plated it all together with a couple of spoonfuls of pickles onions and cherries.

So, so good (and so, so rich). Seriously, I’ve made some tasty food before, but this sausage is awesome. Kinda sweet (but not overly so) with an unctuous, snappy bite. The pickled onions were good, maybe even necessary as a compliment. If you decide to make this sausage, consider the onions too.


loosely adapted from Charcuterie by Ruhlman & Polcyn
makes 20ish 6-inch sausage links

I got the idea for the flavoring of this sausage during a meal at Allium on Orcas Island. We were served squab with a five-spice and cherry demi that was freakishly good and I knew I needed to steal immediately.

If you like duck (and have won the lottery so you can afford to buy a lot of it) feel free to substitute it for all or part of the chicken.

Spice mix
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 2-inch cinnamon stick
3 star anise
5 cardamom pods
6 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon Coriander
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1 Tablespoon black peppercorn

1 Tablespoon orange zest
2 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Cup dried tart cherries
1/2 Cup port
4 Pound skinless, boneless chicken thigh meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 Pound pork fat back,cut into 1/2-inch cubes
10 feet hog casings soaked in tepid water for 30 minutes, then rinsed

In a small saute pan, heat all of the spice mix ingredients until they are toasted and fragrant. Grind into a fine powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Move this to a small bowl and combine with the orange zest and salt.

Soak the dried cherries in the port for 30 minutes. Drain the cherries and reserve the wine. Refrigerate the wine to chill it.

Combine the cubed chicken and pork fat with the spice mix and cherries and stir to combine. Chill until you are ready to grind.

Grind the mixture through the small die into a bowl set in ice.

Add the chilled port to the meat mixture and use the paddle attachment on a stand mixer (or a very sturdy spoon) to mix until it is well combine and has a uniform appearance (about one minute).

Cook a small portion of the sausage and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Stuff the sausage into the hog casing and twist into 6 inch links. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to cook.

Gently roast, grill or saute the sausage to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.






Friday, April 8th, 2011

Mashed Garbanzos, Roasted Beets, Harissa

Although it is completely out of the way, I adore a trip to Melrose Market on Capitol Hill in Seattle. I’ll stop by Rain Shadow Meats for naturally raised, local meat (essential for my Charcutepalooza endeavors) and eggs. Then I’ll visit The Calf and Kid for yummy, hard to find cheeses from very knowledgeable staff. Then I’ll check the vegetable selection at Marigold and Mint (and sometimes buy myself some flowers).

Lastly I’ll stop by Sitka and Spruce for lunch. They have a communal bar table right off of the open kitchen (one of the quietest kitchens I’ve ever seen). Every meal that I’ve eaten there has been just outstanding. The last, a couple of weeks ago, has stuck with me so that I wanted to try a hand at something like it at home.

The dish consisted of three parts, garbanzo beans blended into a thick, textured mash, beets that had been roasted, then dressed with a vinaigrette, all topped off with a generous dollop of harissa.


For the Harissa, I used this recipe from Saveur (minus the mint).

The recipe is pretty straightforward, so I won’t really go into it here, but I can add, make sure to wear gloves while you seed the peppers or you will really regret it later when you rub your eyes.

The harissa can be made way in advance. and then stored in the refrigerator until meal time.


Here’s the ingredients for the Beets.

I roasted the beets whole a couple of days prior to dinner. I wanted to keep the flavors simple so I made a really basic vinaigrette, tossed the beets in it and then set it aside. This could easily be stashed in the fridge for a couple of days.


And for the garbanzos.

I put a little olive oil in a pan and sauteed the onion until it was soft and translucent.

Then I tossed in the garlic and smoked paprika and cooked it for another 30 seconds.

Then I added two can of garbanzos with just enough of the liquid from one of the cans to not quite cover the beans. I let this mixture simmer for ten minutes or so.

Then I took the stick blender to the mix and pureed it a bit. I wanted quite a bit of texture, so I didn’t go to crazy with the blender. This too, could be cooled and then stashed in the fridge.

Finally all of the elements of my meal were ready. I spooned some of the mashed garbanzos into a shallow bowl then layered on some of the beets and a dollop of harissa.

While I’m not sure this was an exact replica of the meal at Sitka and Spruce it was mighty similar and extremely delicious. It takes a bit of time to assemble all the parts of this meal, but the work can be spread out and then the meal can be assembled quickly when it is time to eat. Sitka and Spruce served their version at room temperature. I served mine hot (though the beets were at room temperature) and then enjoyed the leftovers cold, right out of the refrigerator. All three temperatures were good.


serves two generously, with leftovers

I highly recommend a hunk of crusty bread to serve alongside the meal. Everything on the plate is a natural for dipping and scooping. The Harissa recipe from Saveur is great, but commercial Harissa is also available if you are interested in a shortcut.

for the garbanzos:
1 onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cans garbanzo beans, drained, juice reserved

In a saucepan, heat a little olive oil and saute the onion until it is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and smoked paprika and saute for another 30 seconds. Add the beans and enough of the reserved juice to almost cover the beans. Simmer for 10 minutes then use an immersion blender to puree the beans slightly. Set aside.

for the beets:
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
1-2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper
6-8 beets, roasted, peeled and diced

Whisk together all of the ingredients to create a vinaigrette. Toss the beets in the vinaigrette. Set aside.


Assemble your plate by spooning some of the mashed garbanzos onto a plate or shallow bowl. Spoon on some of the roasted beets and add a dollop of Harrisa.


Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Breakfast Potatoes

I like to get potatoes in my CSA box because if you don’t get to them right away, they don’t go bad and turn into a pile of green goo in the bottom of the crisper drawer (not that that ever happens to me). They can sit for weeks and some would say that they even improve with age, growing sweeter as they wait for their chance to shine.

Plus, always having a stash of potatoes in the crisper means that an easy breakfast is right around the corner.

I’ll use just about any kind of fingerling or new potato in this recipe. Russets are okay, but I’d rather eat them baked or mashed. If you have some greens like kale or chard, you can throw them in too. Just add them at the end, a bit before the potatoes are cooked through.

Here’s the ingredients.

To start, put the potatoes in a microwaveable bowl and cover them. Cook them for about 3 minutes, or until they are just starting to get tender. If you don’t like to use the microwave, you could boil them for just a few minutes (but I am lazy and the microwave is easy).

While the potatoes are in the microwave, cook the bacon over medium heat until it is just about crispy.

At this point, you can spoon out a bit of the bacon fat (or not, I’m not your mother), then add the onion, par-cooked potatoes, thyme and sage and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Turn the heat up to high let the whole mix saute, stirring every so often until everything is golden brown and delicious (and the potatoes are cooked through), then sprinkle in the chives.

To really make it a meal. Fry up an egg and slip it down over the top of the potatoes. The runny yolk will combine with the potatoes and make a bit of a sauce.

Good, simple, tasty food. Serve with toast and some juice and you’ve got breakfast perfection.


serves 2-3

I used my own home-cured bacon but commercial bacon will work just fine. Just be sure that it is thick cut or the bacon might burn while the potatoes cook through. I used red onion (because that’s what I had laying around) but any type onion will work.

1 pound fingerling or red potatoes
4 oz thick cut bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh chives, chopped

Place the potatoes in a microwaveable bowl and cover. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until they are just starting to get tender.

While the potatoes are in the microwave, cook the bacon over medium heat until it is just about crispy. If desired, use a spoon to remove some of the bacon fat from the pan.

Add the onion, par-cooked potatoes, thyme and sage and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Turn the heat to high and saute, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked through and golden brown. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Corned Beef

I have a confession to make. Up until last week, I’d never had corned beef.

I just never really understood celebrating St. Patrick’s Day if you are not Irish. The food never looked that appetizing to me, so , seemingly, the only other thing to do is drink way too much cheap green beer. Also not appealing.

When I told my husband that I had never had corned beef, he was shocked. “That can’t be possible, you’ve never even had a reuben?” “Well,” I replied “I’ve never been a fan of sauerkraut, or 1000 Island dressing for that matter, so why would I order a reuben?”

I asked my mom about the lack of corned beef in my life and she said that she could remember serving corned beef hash for breakfast. Thing is, I don’t think this happened until after my brother was adopted. I was 17 when that happened so sitting down for breakfast before school probably didn’t happen. Plus, I seem to remember that the corned beef hash she made was out of a can, and our family dog was, at the time, being fed soft dog food and the two things looked remarkably similar. That kinda put me off the whole corned beef hash thing.

When this month’s Charcutepalooza Challenge was revealed to be brining I knew what I had to do. Since I had already accomplished the Apprentice Challenge of brining either a whole chicken or pork chops, I settled on the Charcutiere Challenge, brining, then corning a piece a beef brisket to create my first corned beef.

I followed the recipe found in the cookbook Charcuterie (the bible of Charcutepalooza) pretty much to a tee. I decided to half the recipe (because 5 pounds of brisket sounded like a lot for two people). I added an onion and a couple of carrots to the water that I was going to simmer the brisket in, then, with about 30 minutes of cooking time left I added some peeled new potatoes then, with 15 minutes left, some cabbage. I also made some traditional Irish Soda bread (read that as no caraway seeds, no raisins, just plain white bread) to complete the meal.

So, just how was my first corned beef experience? Meh. It’s certainly not the worst thing I’ve eaten, but it really didn’t live up to the hype. It smelled promising as it simmered away, but it just didn’t do it for me.


The thing is, even though I split the recipe in half, I still had leftovers (quite a bit of leftovers) the next day. I decided to try my hand at corned beef hash. I figured at the very least, mine wouldn’t look like dog food. Here are the ingredients.

I chopped some of the corned beef, along with the potatoes and a little bit of the cabbage (the husband was not a fan of the cabbage) plus an onion and set to work.

I melted a knob of butter in a saute pan and added the onion. Cooked it until is was soft and translucent, then threw in some fresh thyme.

I let that cook for just a few seconds and then added the potatoes, corned beef and cabbage to the pan.

Now here’s the hard part. I had to let it sit. Trying hard not to stir the mixture very often, so that every thing would get golden brown and delicious.

Once it was nicely browned (finally). I cooked up an egg to put on top. I had a little problem with my over easy egg flip, so it’s not the prettiest, but it’s still tasty (try not to judge me).

Now we’re talking. Turns out what I needed to like corned beef was tasty bits of crunchiness on every piece of it. This was a meal I could get behind.


Even after two meals, I still had more leftover corned beef. I also had some cold rice from dinner earlier in the week so I decided to make my standby quick meal, fried rice. This was probably my favorite meal of the bunch. The corned beef almost tasted like Lup Cheong, a Chinese sweet sausage (and one of my favorites). It was so good, in fact, that the husband and I ate it all without taking a picture.


So, my first corned beef experience has led me to these conclusions:

1. I’m not a fan of corned beef straight out of the pot, Irish style.

2. Corned beef that has been cooked again so that it has crusty edges is delicious.

3. Corned beef may be too much effort to put into my life regularly, but once a year it might be worth it, for the leftovers.

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Prosciutto, Egg and Arugula Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

As I’ve mentioned in my two previous posts, 2011 can suck it. Between a broken computer, a root canal and a sprained ankle my year thus far has not had many bright spots (especially culinary bright spots) … until Saturday. The duck prosciutto I started on on Jan 6 was finally ready for a taste.

Before I hung it, I had carefully weighed each of my duck breasts (and done the math) so that I could watch for a 30% drop in weight (a good prediction of finished duck prosciutto). However, after 9 days of (not so) patient waiting they had only lost about 20% of their weight. But, they felt right. I had been squeezing them (gently) every day (sometimes two or three times) and yesterday, they just felt right. So, I decided to take the plunge and unwrap one.

I opened up one of the Herbes do Provence cured breasts, cut off a few thin slices and took a bite. Heaven. Salty with a delicate hint of the herbes and a wonderful texture (though sliced too thick it became a bit chewy). I opened up a second, one of the five-spice cured breasts, for a taste. Also delicious. And though the breasts had only spent 24 hours in their prospective cure, each had definitely picked up a distinct flavor. Though I liked both, the Herbes de Provence is my favorite.

For lunch the next day I decided to create a dish using my yummy duck. I wanted to use the flavors found in a duck prosciutto sandwich that I had seen on Matt Wright’s blog. It featured a fried egg, duck prosciutto and arugula on a baguette, but I wanted a salad instead. (By the way, if you want to see some charcuterie porn, Matt’s blog is the place to look, gorgeous).

I made a mustardy vinaigrette for the arugula, added a little pile of the Herbes de Provence duck prosciutto, a couple of crusty toasts and then topped it all with a 64.5° c sous vide egg (a poached egg would be good too, but the sous vide egg is particularly delicious). So simple but so good. The arugula (with the vinaigrette) combined deliciously with, and helped combat, the richness of the duck and the creamy egg yolk. I could have eaten a whole ‘nother plate.



serves 2 (or one really hungry person)

Because this is a dish with very few ingredients, the quality of those ingredients is extremely important. Sub-standard prosciutto and factory-farmed eggs will not provide a tasty finished product. Splurge.

Mustard Vinaigrette
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
really good salt
fresh cracked black pepper

2-3 handfuls arugula
1-2 ounces thin sliced duck prosciutto (ham proscuitto would be good too)
2 eggs
1/4 baguette, sliced thin on the diagonal
olive oil

If you have the ability to cook sous vide, cook two eggs at 64.5° c for 50 minutes. Otherwise, poach two eggs (timing them to be done once the rest of the salad components are complete).

Drizzle the baguette slices with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper then toast in the oven.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Gently toss the arugula in the dressing and divide it between two plates. Cut several thin slices of prosciutto and add them to each plate next to the arugula. Top arugula with sous vide or poached eggs. Finish the plate with toasted baguette slices.

About Me

I'm a personal chef living happily with her picky-eater (but willing to try anything) husband, neurotic black lab and a red heeler puppy.

I watch way too much TV and enjoy hip-hop more than any reasonable grown-up should.

I'm an avid swimmer and sometime triathlete (whenever I'm not nursing an injury).

Find out more about me here.

About This Blog

I started this blog at a time when my personal chef business was quite slow and I needed to keep my mind busy and my skills sharp. But now, business is booming so I've had to put the blog on the back burner. So, no new recipes for now, but please enjoy my archives.

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