Tuesday, July 10, 2012

green beans with cilantro pesto

Last weekend we had another Homesick Texan-inspired dinner: chilled avocado soup, corn bread, crab cakes with chipotle chiles and corn, green beans with cilantro pesto, cucumber salad, and coconut tres leches cake. So here's the run down:

avocado soup -- kind of strange (in that maybe you expect that the combination of chicken stock, avocados, and coconut milk would be a little strange but still have hope that maybe you'll be very pleasantly surprised), not pleasantly surprised, so not sure that I'd make this again.

corn bread -- apparently Texas-style corn bread is salty, not at all sweet.

crab cakes -- great flavors, but my crab cakes would not for the life of them (or me) stick together and turned into more of a crab hash situation. I'd made these again but need to remember not to assume that I'll end up with individual cakes.

green beans with cilantro pesto -- my favorite dish of the night. Crunchy green beans tossed in very refreshing cilantro pesto. Although if you're one of those people who thinks that cilantro tastes like soap (the horror!), a lot of these recipes, and this one in particular, may not be for you. The recipe is below.

cucumber salad -- my dinner guests loved this side. My only beef with the recipe was that it called for "dill seed". After a confused Wikipedia search on my phone at the grocery store, I ended up purchasing a spice jar of "dill seed". Had I had the cookbook with me (and thus a picture of the completed dish) and not just the ingredients/shopping list, I would have known to purchase fresh dill ("dill weed"??). But you can't really go wrong with cucumbers and salt and Greek yogurt.

coconut tres leches cake -- take it out of the fridge a few minutes before serving to get maximum spongy cake-ness.


1 1/2 cups cilantro leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 serrano chile, seeds and stems removed, roughly chopped
1/4 cup roasted pecans
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt, to taste
1 pound fresh or frozen green beans, preferably long and thin

1. In a blender or food processor, mix together the cilantro, olive oil, garlic, serrano chile, pecans, and lemon juice until a paste is formed. Add salt to taste.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and then add the green beans. Cook until bright green, about 5 minutes. Drain and run cold water over the green beans to stop them from cooking any longer. Return the green beans to the pot and toss with the cilantro pesto. Add salt to taste.

And what the heck, here's the cucumber salad recipe also.


2 unpeeled cucumbers, cut into 1/4 inch round slices (I used about 9 of those mini seedless cucumbers)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 cup sour cream or thick, Greek-style yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon yellow or Dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 medium red onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon dill seed (but maybe dill weed? I basically omitted)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Black pepper, to taste

1. Cover the sliced cucumbers with salt and allow to sit refrigerated for at least 1 hour. Rinse well and drain.

2. Mix together the sour cream, garlic, vinegar, mustard, cilantro, red onions, dill seed, cumin, and cayenne. Taste and add salt and black pepper. Add the cucumbers, toss, and chill.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

butter lettuce, radish, and avocado salad with mustard dressing

This is another Jean-Georges Vongerichten keeper recipe. Easy to assemble. Very refreshing. We had it with grilled Polish sausage and pan-fried pierogies. I had a love affair with that dinner.

KT notes:

1. I think butter lettuce is the same thing as Boston lettuce (which is what I found at my grocery store).
2. What are "slender pink French breakfast radishes"? I used sliced regular old radishes.


1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 head butter lettuce, torn
8 slender pink French breakfast radishes or baby round red radishes, halved
1 scallion, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced at an angle
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh dill
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and sliced

Whisk together the vinegar and mustard with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Continue whisking and add the oils in a slow, steady stream until the mixture is emulsified.

Toss the dressing with the lettuce, radishes, scallion, and dill. Top with the avocado and serve.

crab toasts with sriracha mayonnaise

When i first picked up Home Cooking with Jean-Georges and flipped through the book, I was slightly intimidated by the recipes. On closer reading, I tagged about 20 recipes that look doable and appetizing. One of these was the sriracha mayonnaise mixed in with some lump crab meat and served on toast. We ate it as a snack while watching the Caps stick it to the Bruins. Great game, great snack!

KT notes:

1. I felt a little skittish eating a raw egg yolk (in the sriracha mayonnaise) but we washed it down with beer and wine and deemed it safe.
2. I used Harris Teeter brand "jumbo lump crab meet." It fit the bill perfectly.
2. J-G suggests serving this appetizer with champagne. Um, yes please.


4 slices good sourdough bread
3 tablespoons Sriracha Mayonnaise (recipe below)
8 ounces picked lump crabmeat, preferably peekytoe, picked over for bits of shell
Crushed red chile flakes, optional
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Toast the bread until golden brown. Cut each slice into 2-inch pieces.

Gently fold the mayonnaise into the crabmeat until well mixed. Spoon the crab mixture into a serving bowl and set inside a larger bowl filled with ice to keep cold if desired. Garnish with chile flakes if desired. Serve with the lemon wedges and toasts.


1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup grapeseed oil or other neutral oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons sriracha

Whisk together the yolk, mustard, and salt until well blended. Continue whisking while adding the oil in a slow, steady stream to emulsify the mixture. Whisk in the lemon juice and sriracha until well blended. The mayonnaise can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Makes 1 cup.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

quinoa with spinach, goat cheese, and sauteed shiitakes

Up next for cookbook club is Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Home Cooking. Tonight I tested a simple salad recipe from the book. The name of the salad almost literally lists all of the ingredients -- quinoa, spinach, goat cheese, and sauteed shiitakes. If you remember the name, you remember the recipe. It was earthy and flavorful and high on the healthy meter.

My notes:

1. The full recipe serves four. I quartered everything, give or take, and successfully made a single serving.
2. J-G has you toast the quinoa for 5 minutes before adding the water. Mine seemed to be burning and popping like popcorn after about 3 minutes, so I made it stop. The quinoa didn't taste burnt in the salad and arguably had more depth of flavor.


1 cup quinoa
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
6 ounces baby spinach
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Toast the quinoa in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender, about 8 minutes.

Spoon the warm quinoa and mushrooms over the spinach on a serving platter, then drizzle with the vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper and top with the goat cheese.

Monday, March 26, 2012

peach cobbler

If after eating a cheese log, chips and salsacarnitas, and Texas caviar, you're not stuffed to the gills, it's time for dessert! This peach cobbler is super easy to assemble and tastes luxurious -- almost like bread pudding meets spicy peaches. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


8 tablespoons unsalted butter melted (1 stick)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups sliced fresh peaches, peeled and pitted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Pour melted butter into a large cast-iron skillet or a 9-inch square baking pan. Mix together the flour, sugar, milk, and baking powder, and pour the batter over the butter.

3. Toss the sliced peaches with the cinnamon and ginger. Place the peaches on top of the batter and bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

texas caviar

Even though this dish isn't made of salty and delicious fish eggs, it did make for a nice side salad. Lisa Fain also recommends it as a dip for tortilla chips. I plan to have leftovers for lunch tomorrow at work.


4 cups cooked black-eyed peas, drained, or 2 15-ounce cans, drained
8 green onions, thinly sliced, green part only
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 fresh jalapeno chiles, stems and seeds removed, finely diced
2 plum tomatoes, diced, or 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
1 yellow bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and black pepper, to taste

1. In a bowl, stir together the black-eyed peas, green onions, cilantro, jalapenos, tomatoes, bell pepper, and garlic.

2. Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, and cumin and stir into the black-eyed peas. Taste and add salt and black pepper. Chill for 4 hours. Serve cold either as a side salad or with tortilla chips.

houston-style green salsa

I became seriously addicted to this salsa. It's great with chips and phenomenal with Lisa Fain's carnitas. Every bite has a hint of avocado and a bit of lingering spice. I used 1 serrano chile but may use 2 next time. Extra heat, POW.


1/4 pound small tomatillos, husks removed, or one 11-ounce can of whole tomatillos, drained
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
1 or 2 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro
Salt, to taste

1. If using fresh tomatillos, on high heat, bring a pot of water to boiling and cook tomatillos until soft, about 3 minutes.

2. Add the tomatillos to a blender along with the avocado, serrano chiles, garlic, lime juice, and cilantro. Blend until smooth and then add salt to taste.

roquefort and pecan cheese log

Last Sunday we cooked from Lisa Fain's Homesick Texan for cookbook club (also in book form). I was either distracted by my salivating at what everyone else brought or my anxiety about my pulled pork working out and completely forgot to take any photos. For Sunday dinner this week, I made some more recipes from the book and documented the results.

Behold the Roquefort and Pecan Cheese Log.

I'm not big on blue cheese so this log was too stinky for me, but P likes blue cheese and loved this cheese course.


8 ounces cream cheese
3 ounces Roquefort cheese (or any other soft and creamy blue cheese)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup crushed pecans
Crackers, for serving

1. Mix the cream cheese, Roquefort cheese, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and cayenne until well blended. Roll into a long tube shape and then roll in crushed pecans.

2. Refrigerate until firm, about an hour. Serve with crackers.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

moroccan red lentil soup

I think you've been waiting for another delicious dinner idea, so here it is: Moroccan red lentil soup. It's very simple to make and incredibly flavorful. Props to ground cumin and ginger. I made it last night to take with me to work for lunch today, and, well, there almost wasn't any to take to work. As Teddy R. would say, "DEE-lightful!"

Friday, December 23, 2011

making a list

The 11-day office closure that I've been looking forward to has already been interrupted by work and is expected to be interrupted by further work next week. In an effort not to succumb to bad mood bears, I've made a list of all of the fun and relaxing things to do when not working.

1. Read about Roosevelt and the Night Circus.

2. Make many cookies.

3. Practice Moroccan recipes for January's cookbook club.

4. Listen to Buble's Christmas.

5. Eat some oysters and see A Christmas Carol.

6. Taste wine. This is a separate blog post in and of itself. After spending hours of research time on tripadvisor, my Sonoma wine country itinerary is a thing of pride.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

the enforcer

Read this fascinating three-part article about hockey, fighting, and Derek Boogaard who died earlier this year. And I'm not just saying that because I've met D.J. King at a bar in Clarendon.

black bean pumpkin soup

Do you need another delicious dinner idea? This time I recommend black bean pumpkin soup (don't worry, meat-needers, it has ham!). It's incredibly flavorful, and before you know it, you've eaten two gigantor bowls, you've burned your mouth, and you're so full that all you can do is sprawl on the couch and read the Steve Jobs biography. True story.

I made two minor substitutions out of necessity: additional shallots in place of the onion and Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon boxed wine instead of dry Sherry. That didn't seem to mess it up.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

around my french table

This month's cookbook club book: around my french table by Dorie Greenspan.

Yes, I've started a cookbook club. After reading this blog post, there was no way that I wasn't going to start/be in one. And having participated in regular book clubs before, two things have always held true for me: 1. I never like reading for pleasure a book that someone else has picked for me that I have little interest in. 2. Getting together and bringing snacks and food and eating and drinking wine were always the best part of book club. So why not make the club about the cooking and eating? Sheer genius.

We met this past Sunday and ate an amazing array of dishes from this month's book. We made: onion biscuits, cheese and olive bread, leek and potato soup, cafe-style grated carrot salad, bacon and eggs and asparagus salad, pumpkin-gorgonzola flans, a mustard tart, beef daube (beef stew, uses a whole bottle of wine!), hachis parmentier (shepherd's pie), slow-roasted tomatoes, cauliflower-bacon gratin, and apple cake with ice cream. Everyone's dish came out well, we had a great variety, and cookbook club is officially awesome.

This book has some solid recipes and was a good investment. My only complaint is that I can't make "pumpkin stuffed with everything good" (pie pumpkin stuffed with bacon, cheese, bread, cream, and herbs, baked, and pumpkin scraped and mixed into the filling; oh and then you can roast the pumpkin seeds for an extra fun snack) year-round. I made one in mid-October, but pumpkins were gone from my grocery store by October 30. Must plan ahead next year!

I'm definitely looking forward to January's cookbook club. Next book: TBD!

butter and shrimp and grits and bacon

Do you need a delicious dinner idea? Try making butter-poached shrimp with grits. I'll tell you what, despite the limitations imposed on me by the local Teeter -- only frozen shrimp instead of fresh and 5-minute grits instead of stoneground available -- the dish was incredibly satisfying and flavorful. Cooking the grits in bacon and the shrimp in a cup of butter (2 sticks!!) probably accounts for the flavor and buttery shrimp goodness. Hey, I never said this was a healthy dinner idea.

This recipe is apparently reprinted from Michael Ruhlman's Ruhlman's Twenty: 20 Techniques 100 Recipes A Cook's Manifesto. I'm curious to see some of his other recipes.

Monday, October 10, 2011

On repeat

Snack on repeat: wasabi peas. Pro column: spicy and amazingly crunchy. If you put too many in your mouth, the wasabi shoots up your nose and clears your sinuses. Con column: contains MSG. Why, wasabi, why?

Song on repeat: It Will Rain by Bruno Mars. This song is a trifecta: it's a slow jam, it's from the latest Twilight movie soundtrack, and Bruno Mars happens to kind of be adorable.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

J&G's Butternut Squash Soup

Be under no illusions -- working with butternut squash is a huge p in the b. That being said, this recipe makes a pretty awesome soup.

I actually made this soup once last year and was underwhelmed by how little meat it had (none). It just wasn't filling. Yet fall is here again and I found myself craving this soup as an appetizer or a light lunch. So let's revisit.

The recipe calls for crème fraîche, and I can't read or say "crème fraîche" without thinking of a South Park episode that P had me watch a while ago. Um, this:

Harris Teeter didn't appear to sell crème fraîche, but the word on the street is that you can make your own using some cream and buttermilk and a little time out on your counter. It can be used like sour cream, but unlike sour cream, it can also be whipped. I decided to leave the crème fraîche experiment for another day and use Greek yogurt, which is arguably more healthy but still makes the soup plenty creamy.

I also followed the shiitake mushroom suggestion, because seriously, what are black trumpet mushrooms?? The shiitakes have their own distinct flavor, but I couldn't help liking them paired with the butternut squash.

The results taste like you're slurping up a bowl of autumn.

Full disclosure: I am not posting a picture of my soup because it didn't look quite as creamy (and bright orange) as the soup shown on metrocurean. Sorry for being so self-conscious about my butternut squash!

As a side note, Jean-Georges has a new cookbook that is to be released shortly. I am hoping to acquire it and perhaps have it be a contender for the next cookbook club book. What? Yes, cookbook club. The subject of another, later post (that will blow your mind).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I feel like i should start blogging again POD

Hello, Blog!

It's been almost a year since I've written and yes, I have totally missed you.  

I thought about you today. And thought about what you could look like post-makeover. All strutting around with a new theme, a new direction, if you will.

Any ideas? Ideas:

1. The first-world trials and tribulations of living with a vitamin b12 deficiency (underlying mystery element: is there a tapeworm somehow involved?! Probably not, but what if!)
2. A weekly guide to shopping at the Costco and what to do with 2-pound bags of shredded mozzarella and 2-pound containers of tzatziki yogurt dip. What samples are "in" and what samples are "out"?
3. The Russian Mother's Advice column (advice provided courtesy of my very own Russian mother). Advice topics range from proper fish oil consumption to proper pillow materials, from shoe styles to pregnancy preparedness. Whatever you're doing, you're doing it wrong! Or could be doing it better! From Russia[n mother] with love. 

Just kidding. It's good to see you.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Make 1,000 lovely things -- Homemade bows

Check out these beauties:

They are large and in charge and they match the gift wrap just right. I made one for my sister-in-law, own mother, and boyfriend's mother, weee!

For detailed instructions and inspiration, look here.