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February 3rd, 2008

jennymarie5 @ 08:42 pm: A little different Super "Bowl"
Since I've been sick for...well, forever it feels like, I had to take it pretty easy this weekend. This means no booze for me, b/c booze + antibiotics = bad.

One of the things I made today for my Super Bowl treat was corn chowder. Now I love soup when it is winter-ish, so I have been making all kinds of strange soups of late. I generally avoid chowders because they are very creamy and delicious but hugely bad for you. So I've modified a recipe I saw someplace to make it a bit healthier...still not necessarily "healthy" per se, but better.

Big ol' pot, preferably w/ lid
Cutting board
Stirring implement

3-4 slices of thick cut bacon (avoid the maple ones, you want plain old salty smokey bacon)
1 large or 2 small/medium onions
3-4 stalks of celery
2 chicken breasts - boneless, skinless
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1 bag frozen corn (3-4 cups)
3 cups milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbl thyme
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
pince dried chili flakes (optional)
fresh parsley or cilantro, a bit for the soup and a bit for garnish

1. Chop your bacon into small chunks and place in the big old pot over medium heat so it can start to render out the fat and get a bit crispy. While it is rendering, dice your onions and celery. After the bacon is crispy, pull out a few tablespoons worth for garnish.

  • TIP: to peel an onion easily, cut off the non-root end, then cut in half through the root part. Then peel back from the cut end up to the root - it gives you something to start from.

  • To cut into a nice dice, place the onion cut-side down on the board (so rounded part up). Slice horizontally with your cutting board almost all the way through, but short of the root end. Depending on the size of the onion, you may want to make two cuts. Then cut along the length of the onion along the lines/grooves in the onion - again, depending on the size, maybe 4-5 cuts. Final step is to cut across the onion resulting in a dice from the get go, no re-chopping.

2. Add the onions and celery to the rendered and now getting crispy bacon and cook until the onions are starting to soften. While the onions cook, dice your chicken breasts.
3. When the onions and celery are soft, add in the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes, then pour in the wine and cook until most of the wine has evaporated and the chicken is pretty well cooked (remember you don't want to taste at this point, raw chicken = bad). At this point, also add a good pinch of salt and some turns of pepper.
4. While your chicken is cooking, dump about 1/2 the bag of frozen corn into your food processor with about 1 cup of the milk. Process until the corn is reasonably well pulverized. This is going to be a thickening agent in our soup to give it good texture and also will help you have an all-over corn flavor.
5. When the wine is mostly gone, pour the corn/milk mixture, remaining 2 cups of milk, 1 cup of chicken broth, and the rest of your corn in to the pot. Give it a good stir, then add in 1/2 to 1 tsp of cumin; 1 tsp of chili powder; 1 tbl thyme; pinch of chili flake if you like a little heat.
6. Simmer the whole pot of loveliness for about 20 minutes with the lid on, stirring periodically, then taste and adjust your salt and pepper as needed (likely to need some more salt depending on your bacon and the type of broth you use). Feel free to add a bit more heat or cumin if you like a little more smoky flavor. At this point, toss in a tbl or two of your cilantro or parsley.

Serve with a sprinkle of crispy bacon and pinch of herbs on top. As you can see from the
picture, I forgot the garnish, but served with some grilled baguette crispy enough for dipping. Mmmm..mmmm good.

Current Location: 20009
Current Mood: okayokay

January 16th, 2008

jennymarie5 @ 07:32 pm: Dumplings!
Thanks to the super-fabulous mariemuffin, I made dumplings for the first time a couple of years ago. Luckily for me she knew what she was doing and let me observe the process, so I had some confidence that I wouldn't totally screw it up doing it by myself. Now I know, you can easily buy dumplings but it is REALLY fun to make them yourself. And you can put whatever you want into them. I used her recipe as a basis then tweaked it a little (ginger, garlic, black pepper) so it would be how I liked it. The recipe is with ground pork, but you can use chicken or beef...really you just need to give it a go. Anything all mushed together and put into a dumpling is goooooood. Caveat here is that I kind of wrapped them as best I could with only square wrappers (they didn't have round ones and since "chinatown" in DC really isn't one - there isn't even an asian grocery store - my options were limited). Anyway, as you'll see from the pictures, the shape of the dumpling is a bit unusual. Hey, I never claimed these were in any way authentic.

3/4 head of napa/chinese cabbage
2 lbs ground pork (not sausage, just plain ground pork)
4-5 small green onions, or 3 big ones
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup sesame oil
3 cloves garlic
chunk of fresh ginger
black pepper
4-5 packages of gyoza wraps – for weird square-ish ones, 2 packs (approx. 96) and use the thick gyoza wraps if you can get them

If you have a food processor, this whole thing is made quite easy. You need to shred/chop the cabbage pretty fine, slice up the green onions, mince the garlic and ginger. This obviously can be done by hand, it just takes longer! Dump all that into a big bowl with the pork, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Then mix everything (either food processor, stand mixer with paddle attachment, or vigorously with a big old spoon or spatula). You want it to have the texture of a thick paste....

So then take out your wonton wrappers...keep the stack of them covered in a damp towel while you work (unless you have a crowd helping). But if you are working by yourself, chances are they will get dry unless they are covered. If that happens, they might crack so avoid that. At this point, you also probably want to start a big old pot of water to boil. Even if you're going to end up freezing most of them, you clearly need to at least try some.

Place 1 tablespoon or so of the filling on a wrapper and run your finger dipped in water (with maybe a little cornstarch mixed in) around half the edge (if square, 2 sides if round, half-way).

Press wet edge to dry edge and seal tightly.

You can crimp the edges if you’re unsure if it will stay (also looks purty). Place on pan covered in parchment or on cutting board, not touching so they don’t stick.

If freezing, then put the pan in freezer until the dumplings are pretty solid, then dump frozen dumplings into a Ziploc (oh, hay it will be like you bought them at Costco only better and not tons and tons of extra salt and weird added shit).

Dump into boiling water (12-15 at a time maybe depending on pot) and bring back to boil…add in about a cup of cold water, bring back to a boil….add another cup of cold water and bring to a boil again. Check on to make sure it is cooked and won’t kill you. If it doesn’t look done, add another cup of cold water and bring to a boil (so three times through). Now you can also steam them or fry them (potstickers) but this is how I am doing them. Leftovers that are already cooked can also be potstickers.

While the boiling is happening you can make dipping sauce. I make it with soy sauce, pepper sauce, dab sesame oil, pinch of sugar, splash of rice vinegar (or any vinegar really other than balsamic…or lemon juice even). If you want to get crazy you can sauté a little bit of onion, garlic, and ginger in a pan for a minute, add a little water and a spoon of peanut butter. Take off heat. Stir in all of the other ingredients from above. Also some hoisin into that might be good instead of the pinch of brown sugar. TO TASTE. ALL of this is to taste…everyone does the sauce differently and has different ideas of “appropriate” sauce. I freely admit that these are just what I throw together.

Serve and eat immediately while dipping in sauce and squirting juice on yourself and laughing uproariously. Repeat.

Better with lots of hands stuffing dumplings, and then they get the reward of getting to eat!

Current Location: 20009
Current Mood: tiredtired

December 19th, 2007

jennymarie5 @ 11:51 pm: Christmas cookies!
So I went a bit nutty and did some baking. I brought them to work today and I made lots of friends ;) The most common refrain: why are you a lawyer and not running a bakery?! Brought back memories of law school...

Anyhow, rocky road fudge, russian tea cakes/snowballs, and peanut butter blossoms, rest of the recipes to be posted in the next few days, for now the peanut butter blossoms and some pics.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
Baking time: 8 min, 375 degrees
Yield: 4 dozen cookies

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter (the crappy processed kind works better, unfortunately, but if you're using the better for your natural stuff, just be sure to stir well so that the oil is mixed in and it also is not too dry because of no oil)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt (can omit if using salted butter)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar for rolling
48 hershey's kisses, unwrapped - the picture is dark chocolate kisses, but some of the fun striped hugs would be purty as well

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Combine sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter in large bowl and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add egg, vanilla and salt, and continue beating until thoroughly mixed.
Add flour and baking soda, about half at a time making sure it is well incorporated.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. (If dough is too soft, refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes to make it easier to roll)
Roll balls in a bowl of the 1/4 cup sugar, and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. My preference is to still put down a piece of parchment on the cookie sheet for easy of getting the cookies off of the pan!

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until very lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately press 1 chocolate kiss in center of each cookie. This will collapse the cookie and cause the edges to crack - this is the "blossom" effect, the kiss is the center of the flower.

Remove from cookie sheets; cool completely on wire racks or newspaper. The kisses will melt a bit on the hot cookies, so be careful when moving them from the pans to the racks.

Current Location: 20009
Current Mood: chipperchipper

December 10th, 2007

jennymarie5 @ 10:28 pm: Turkey day pictures!
Here are some long overdue pics from some of the food I made for Thanksgiving. I know, I know, I promised to blog my dinner. You're all lucky I remembered to take pictures of anything. As it is, I didn't get it all (I forgot to photograph the freaking turkey until we'd cut it up). But I have stuffing and the fabulous bread. You've all seen pie before, and the soup picture didn't turn out. We'll call it good from that.

(1) Wild mushroom & leek stuffing. I cribbed the recipe from epicurious and tweaked it a bit. They call it "Northwest Stuffing" or some such thing.

The original recipe is here. I'll put out there that mine did not have hazelnuts (which are properly called FILBERTS thank you very much). I also used a mix of rye bread (mmm...caraway seeds) and italian bread that i left in the oven overnight to dry out. The oven was not on. I will say that the recipe makes a ton of stuffing. We stuffed the turkey and had two pans on the side full. The one in the picture and a similar sized rectangular one. Luckily stuffing is my absolute favorite part of Thanksgiving, even more than the turkey. I'm sure other than that I messed with the seasonings a bit, but not too much. This is a good reasonably simple and vegetarian stuffing. The veggies who were down could have some from the pan of it not stuffed in the butt of a bird!

(2) Chubble bread. That is cheddar + bubble = chubble (CHUH-BULL)

I got the recipe from Mrs. Marv (seriously, go to her site and check out great step-by-step photos)

Here is my attempt:

The best way for me to describe it is the savory equivalent of monkey bread. You make a basic yeast dough, cut it into small pieces (1-inch maybe - don't measure) and toss those pieces in a mixture of pure heaven - I mean shredded cheddar cheese, parmesan, green onion, fresh parsley, some garlic, a little red chili flake, dried spices of choice (in my case a little basil & thyme) and some olive oil. The whole thing rises together in a nice round pie or cake pan and then gets baked at pretty high heat. It comes out covered in toasty cheese and amazing. Not healthy. Not at all healthy. But delicious. One batch fills two pie pans - and we ate both of them in short order.

Another pic:

Current Location: 20009
Current Mood: thankfulthankful

December 8th, 2007

jennymarie5 @ 04:33 pm: Sausage Wild Mushroom Risotto
First off, I need to get better about taking pictures of my cooking. I am too excited to get to the enjoying part, and I forget to pull out the camera. However, I made super delicious risotto the other night, and I figured I would share the recipe anyway.

For anyone who is intimidated by risotto, it is not that hard. I use whatever kind of medium grain rice I have lying around. I don't obsessively stir for 90 minutes (I have a life), although you still have to babysit it. And I kinda go by feel and taste rather than true measurement of any kind.

With those caveats...here we go. This is adapted from a Gourmet Magazine recipe (I think).

Frying pan - pretty large is best
Small saucepan
Large pot w/ lid that will fit the entire volume of your cooked risotto (it gets bigger as it cooks rmeember, and you'll have to be able to stir in the mushrooms and sausage)

Approx. 6 cups of stock - whatever you like, veggie, chicken, beef, mushroom
1/2 stick butter (4 tbs)
1 small onion or 2-3 shallots finely diced
1-2 tbs olive oil
2 cups medium grain rice (I used medium grain brown, traditional is arborrio...if using brown, might need a bit more liquid)
1 1/2 cups marsala, madeira, or white wine leftover in the fridge (not red)
1 lb mushrooms sliced - I used a random mix of maitake, crimini, and shitake cuz I had it around
3/4 pound sausage (whatever you like, including veggie fake sausage or omit altogether)
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup parmesan cheese...grated down to the powdery stuff (or peccorino-romano, etc.)
Fresh parsley (maybe 1/4 cup chopped)
1 tbs Thyme (really, fresh or dried, just use twice as much if fresh)
Salt & pepper to taste

(1) Put the stock to heat on low in the small saucepan
(2) In the larger pot heat the olive oil and half of the butter, add the onions/shallots and cook until translucent (maybe 3 minutes)
(3) Add the rice and fry until the grains start to brown
(4) Pour in 1 cup of the wine, stir every few minutes until absorbed.
(5) Add about 2 ladles full of stock (approx 1 cup), stir and cover. Stir every 5-10 minutes until it is absorbed...
(6) While the first stock is being absorbed, heat the large frying pan, add the sausage and cook for 3-5 minutes. If you like your sausage really well done, cook it through and have it close to done before adding the mushrooms.
(7) Check your rice, give it a stir. When the stock is mostly absorbed, add another cup of stock.
(8) Add the rest of the butter, garlic, and mushrooms to the sausage mixture, add a good pinch of salt and pepper, and cook for another 3-5 minutes (until they are done enough for you and the sausage is totally cooked)
(9) Add 1/2 cup of the wine, cook until liquid mostly absorbed, and set aside.
(10) Check your rice again - you should be stirring every 5-10 minutes. When the stock gets mostly absorbed, add more.
(11) When you have about 1 cup of stock left in the pot, give the rice a good stir and taste it. If the rice is pretty tender, proceed to step 12. If it still seems a little hard in the center, add 1 cup of water to your stock and heat. Then add another cup of liquid and let it absorb before going to step 12.
(12) Add the 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and herbs to the rice mixture and stir well.
(13) Add the last cup of liquid and stir every couple of minutes until absorbed.
(14) Taste to see if you need more salt or pepper. The cheese can be pretty salty, but you have to adjust as needed.

Current Location: 20009
Current Mood: contentcontent

November 28th, 2007

jennymarie5 @ 08:30 pm: Quick way to make dessert fancier
So I bought vanilla ice cream to have with Thanksgiving pie. Perfect mild complement to fruity and wonderful pie. Vanilla ice cream, however, can be a bit boring now that the pie is gone.

I came up with the solution this evening when my eye randomly landed on my cannister of brown sugar. Vanilla topped with a small palmful (healthy pinch) of brown sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger mix).

I don't have a picture because I didn't realize how awesome it would be until I already began eating it. I recommend this as a way to make a little vanilla completely awesome without almost no effort. In fact, so little effort it is really no effort. I am a person who adores making fancy dessert sauces and whatnot, but you get your own fake-caramel sauce as the ice cream melts into the brown sugar...mmmm...okay going to finish dessert. Next time I make it I'll take a picture - it sure was purty.

And given the very long, crap day that I had today, this is a very comforting treat.

Current Mood: satisfiedsatisfied
Current Music: The Grinch on TV

November 18th, 2007

jennymarie5 @ 02:50 pm: Turkey day shopping!
So here is some of the lovely produce I bought today. This is what I was able to get at the farmer's market by the house. The rest was picked up at Whole Foods (overpriced, but at least organic and hormone-free options). The local turkeys were all more than 15 pounds, and at $3.99/pound I couldn't justify an extra 5 pounds of turkey. But I did get an organic, free-ranged, heritage turkey...it's just not from the neighborhood. It's about 10 pounds and likely too much still, but leftovers are great.

Leeks, scallions, squash, potatoes, wild mushrooms, and some good fall mums to brighten the table.

November 17th, 2007

jennymarie5 @ 12:17 pm: Thanksgiving Planning
So I'm working out my menu for Turkey day right now. I plan to try to blog at least some of it. I've been quiet on this here blog for awhile, and I aim to remedy that terrible situation. For turkey day, I am having my friend Amy (known for maybe 6 years since we worked together in Philly), her partner Terrence (super wonderfully fabulous), their daughter Zoe (4), son Calyx (7 months), and my friend Brianna from law school. All in my 1 bedroom apartment. Crowded, but warm and friendly and fun.

The plan (as of now) is that we will have:

turkey (properly brined hopefully) with wild mushroom sage hazelnut stuffing
green beans almondine (beans w/ butter and almonds, not hard)
baked acorn squash (maybe)
mashed potatoes
pumpkin coconut soup (made by Terrence & Zoe)
apple pie (yay Brianna!)

Sounds like a lot, and it is, but this is going to feed us over several days.

I am contemplating cranberry bars as a snack/treat while we wait for the rest to be finished. Of course there will also be copious amounts of cheese, crackers, olives, etc. as we prepare things. There is also a chance that Terrence will come up with an additional fabulous dish for us...he has asked me to buy mushrooms for him. He usually makes this mushroom marscapone sauce over sweet potatoes, but this year it will likely be something different.

Nothing like a house full of people that are comfortable and fun while you cook! Pictures and recipes will be posted for at least some of it, I promise!

Current Location: 20009
Current Mood: excitedexcited

September 18th, 2007

mariemuffin17 @ 09:54 pm: Homemade Oreos
I've gotten lots of requests for this homemade Oreo recipe, so I thought I'd post it here. I was amazed how much better homemade oreos taste than store bought oreos. Just don't think about what's in the filling too much.

Cookie Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup AP flour
1/2 cup cocoa (I used some sort of dutch-processed cocoa)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 sticks margarine or butter
1 large egg

Mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. While on low speed, add margarine/butter and then the egg. Place rounded teaspoonsful on a baking tray and flatten. Bake 9 minutes at 375 degrees F, cool on a rack.

Filling Ingredients:
1/2 stick margarine
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Beat butter and shortening. Gradually beat in sugar and vanilla. Beat on high 2-3 minutes until light an fluffy. Pipe in between two cookies.

Try to eat a few before the masses scarf them down.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Current Location: home

May 29th, 2007

jennymarie5 @ 08:02 pm: Fava beans!
Hi everyone -
Yesterday, instead of getting my work done and being a productive member of the bar review community, I harvested the fava beans growing in my front yard and attempted to prepare them in some fashion. I took purty pictures of the process, although I don't know if I will do this again any time soon.

fava beans

Fava beans are delicious - especially with someone's liver and "a nice chianti" according to your friend and mine, Hannibal Lecter. However, they are a whole lot of work to prepare. This could be why the fava bean has been overlooked often in this country, although it enjoys a popular following in mediterranean countries.

Here is a fava beanstalk.

fava beanstalk

And the flowers before the bean pods start growing.

fava bean flowers

And the bean on the vine.

fava bean on the vine

The beans after shelling getting boiled.

boiling fava beans

After they are boiled, you pop them out of those little whitish skins and get to the edible bean part. Yeah - lots of steps. I had a large bowl full of them, pods on, which resulted in about 2 1/2 cups after being shelled, then after taking the little skins off I had 1 cup of fava beans. Don't get me wrong, they are delicious. Absolutely tangy and tasty and lovely. But it took me about 2 hours start to finish, and that wasn't even putting it into a recipe yet. The lucky part is that they are pretty simple to prepare once pre-prepared :)

Mine are being tossed with a little olive oil and salt with a squeeze of lemon. If I had any pancetta on hand, some crispy pancetta would be thrown in with it, too. Hmm...perhaps I need to go shopping. Anyway, I have also seen some great recipes for fava bean purees that are pretty pretty plate dressing and add a little punch to simple grilled chicken, etc. The other thing that I might do (if I can muster the energy to harvest another crop and shell and boil and skin) is fava bean risotto. That is so easy to do - puree about 2/3 of your beans with a bit of your stock and a little cream. Mix that into risotto along with the second infusion of broth/liquid, and then at the last minute gently stir in the un-pureed favas with your parmesan cheese. Yum yum! Now I want to make that, too.

I have seen suggestions that favas should be prepped as a community food - sit around and talk with friends while you all shell the beans. Done that way, perhaps it would be less annoying. I recommend that you plan huge quantities of beans in the pod if you're having friends for dinner though! So give this unappreciated bean a chance - if you have the time and inclination. The labor is intense, but the results are delicious.

Current Location: couch
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Current Music: Amy Winehouse
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