Oct 16, 2010

chēzˈbûrˌgər so̵̅o̅p

cheese·burg·er (chēzˈbûrˌgər) noun: A hamburger topped with melted cheese.
soup (so̵̅o̅p) noun: A liquid food, with or without solid particles, made by cooking meat, vegetables, fish, etc. in water, milk, or the like
     I have a confession to make:  I don't like soup.  I never have.  It is less than thrilling for me to be served a bowl of soup and I dislike the muddled tastes of most soups most of all, however this year in an effort to be more conservative and push myself to enjoy different things, I am on a mission to find soup recipes that I like.
This definetley fits the bill.  I dont know whether it is because its more chunky than most soups or because it has some of my favorite elements (HELLO CHEESE!!) but I really enjoyed this recipe and will most definetly be adding it to my repotoire of recipes that feed a crowd.

Cheeseburger Soup
1 lb ground beef

1 onion, diced
3/4 cup shredded carrot
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3 cups vegetable broth
4 cups potatoes, cubed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
1 1/2 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter or 4 tablespoons margarine
ketchup, mustard and sweet pickle relish for garnish.

In a large pot, brown ground beef and onion add broth, celery, carrots, parsley and potatoes. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. In a saucepan, melt the butter and stir in flour. Add the milk and stir until smooth. Gradually add milk mixture to the soup, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Stir in cheese; continue to stir until cheese is melted. Make sure once you have added the cheese that you do not let it boil. Garnish with ketchup, mustard and sweet pickle relish and serve with crusty bread.

Pop. Six. Squish. Unh-uh. Cicero. Lipschitz. *

I've been really obsessed with making pizza lately and there was only so much time before I decided to make a Chicago style stuffed pizza.  My absolute favorite kind of pizza ever. Not that I have ever been to Chicago, but I have had the delivery! So tonight I decided to try my hand at the double crusted goodness.  This recipe was really good, and making it in my spring form pan was a great idea. It made it super easy to get out of the pan, and I think it will help with not making the crust soggy. I might have went a little overboard on the filling but all in all it was delicious.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp yeast
6-8 TBS water
4-4.5 TBS
3/4 tsp Kosher salt
3/4  tsp sugar
Proof the yeast, then add to the dry ingredients. Mix and knead for 2 minutes. Coat the dough ball with oil. Let rise for 3-6 hours.

1 Package of chopped spinach (Well drained, and by well drained I mean squeezed and drained)
1 c. shredded mozzarella
1/4 c. sliced olives
1 onion sliced and lightly sauteed in olive oil
12 large pepperoni
1/2 c. crumbled cooked Italian sausage
1/4 c. Parmesan

1 large can organic crushed tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic smashed and finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. agave sweetener
Italian spices to your taste
crushed red pepper flakes (I went heavy on those)

combine and set to side.

 Preheat the oven to 450° F. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a work surface. Knead for about 1 minute. Divide the dough into two pieces, about 1/3 and 2/3 of the dough. Roll out the larger piece in a large circle until it is about 3 inches larger than the spring form pan and 1/8 inch thick. Butter the bottom and sides of the pan and  place the dough into the pan and push it into the bottom and sides. The dough should overlap the pan by about 1 inch.  Roll the second piece until it is the same size as the pan. Mix the  cheese and spinach together and place in bottom of pan. Then add a layer of pepperoni and on top of that sauteed onions and olives.  Top with spicy sausage and add another layer of cheese and then tomato sauce.  Lay the second piece of dough on top, then roll  the two edges of the dough together with your fingers to form a thick border. Press down on the filling with your hand, and cut a 1-inch slit in the center of the top crust to allow steam to escape.

* A couple of things in hindsight:
--I wish I would of baked the pizza and then put the sauce on top of the finished pizza.
--I wish I had made this bad boy all vegetables and also made the spinach layer a little less thick.  It was good but I wanted it mixed in more.
--Next time purple onions instead of white and more spice definitely.

All in all it was pretty good I  am going to continue on my search for a super yummy buttery good crust and possibly one that doesn't have to rise so much.

I know, I know weird title if you have never seen Chicago, which I was singing lines from while cooking, photographing and writing this blog!

Oct 8, 2010

How to Make a Green Bean Utterly Unhealthy

SA and I are pretty boring.  We rarely go out during the week, and much prefer to spend our evenings, walking our hotdog bandido, watching movies, or just hanging out.  We do however make exceptions for our friends T and M who literally live around the corner for us.  We like to go over, let our fur babies hang out together in their back yard and a lot of times we eat dinner together, and hang out.  A lot of times it's spontaneous.  This time we were going over to pick up some tomatoes that M grew.  Well, going to pick up tomatoes turned into lets have dinner! Great! Worked for us...except I had already defrosted some meat and also had big plans.
So we decided to have a combined dinner!!! Best of both worlds! T and M were having fried zucchini from the garden and some pork chops on the grill.  SA and I were totally having a junk food night and were having a buffalo chicken pizza complete with Ray's buffalo chicken hot sauce, cheddar cheese and homemade pizza dough.  Oh, and fried green beans with a P.F. Chang's like sauce to go with it.  Crazy menu, I know but in my defense, SA brought home some mutant large green beans from his boss and I wasn't sure what to do with them!
At any rate, we decided to eighty-six the pork chops and had fried zucchini and green beans and buffalo chicken pizza for dinner.  Delish! I wish I had taken pictures of the buffalo chicken pizza, but I am sure that is something that is going to make it into our rotation, however, I will share the fried green beans with sauce!

Tempura Green Beans
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2/3 cup ice water

Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg slightly and mix with the ice water.
Stir in the dry ingredients. Stir only until mixed; mixture will be slightly lumpy.
Honestly, when I got to this point I just dumped the EXTRA LARGE green beans in the bowl and then fried them roughly a minute in some fairly hot vegetable oil, turning once until they were golden brown.

P.F. Chang like- sauce for fried green beans
1 cup  mayonnaise

2 1/2 tablespoons Sriracha hot chili sauce
6 green onions, whites only, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
Put everything in a blender or a food processor and process till smooth.

Fair warning: this sauce is CRAZY addictive.  I think by the end of the night we were dipping everything in it!!!

Oct 4, 2010

Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles

I think I'm on an octoberfest kinda kick today...
and yes, I know those aren't egg noodles, but this recipe was so bomb that i just used some noodles we had and called it...delish!

Pork Schnitzel (source: delightfully borrowed and slightly modified from Tyler Florence)
4 boneless pork loin chops (about 5 to 6 ounces each)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
4 cups panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 sprig thyme
Lemon wedges

Begin by placing each chop between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and gently pounding them out with the flat side of a meat tenderizer until they are an even 1/4-inch thick.

Put the flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Whisk the eggs and milk in another shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Put the bread crumbs in a third dish and again season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge each piece of pork in flour, then in the egg and finally into the bread crumbs, pressing the bread crumbs onto the pork gently so they have a nice even coating.
Lay the breaded pork cutlets in a single layer on a plate lined with parchment and refrigerate, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes to allow the coating to dry out a little and adhere to the pork.
Heat oil and butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the thyme sprig and let it fry for about 1 minute to infuse the oil. Remove the thyme sprig and reserve. Gently lay the cutlets into the pan and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to paper towels to drain. Season with salt and transfer to a serving platter while still hot

germanaustrianslovakian delight

    Last night I decided it was time to go back to my roots so to speak.  I'm sure that it is very unPC of me but I always just lump all of the dishes from Hungary, Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia together(unless of course we are talking dessert, then I can joyfully name where each tea ring, kolache and dumpling is from). In my mind you have a little stew of some kind, a knoedel of sorts and perhaps if you are feeling daring a lump of sour cream on top and you call it germanaustrianslovakia food.
     Maybe when I get to culinary arts school I will learn something different and my life will be revolutionized.  Maybe not, but for now, my little Czech self is going to claim that last night I went back to my roots...
making Hungarian Goulash.
     Now with this dish I think the SA said it best when I said:
"Is it good? It better be, it's been cooking for the last three hours" and SA said:
"It took three hours to make this?"
and I glared.
Now don't get me wrong all of those three hours were not spent in the kitchen, but STILL. It was a really long time to cook and not feel wildly enthusiastic about the dish. Don't get me wrong, it was still really good and the leftover goulash was delish today so in the end... would I recommend this dish?
Sure it was good. :)

3 pounds of stew meat cut into bite size pieces seasoned with salt and cracked pepper
2 large onions sliced thin
olive oil for searing
2TBSP Hungarian  paprika
2 garlic cloves sliced thin
1 TBSP caraway seeds
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 large can of tomato sauce
1/2 c. vegetable stock
kosher salt & pepper to taste
flour for searing meat

In a large dutch oven with a lid add enough olive oil to coat the pan and turn on high heat until oil shimmers but does not smoke. Pat the meat dry and dredge in flour seasoned with kosher salt and cracked pepper. Sear meat for about three to four minutes per side until it has a nice brown. When meat is all seared turn the heat to medium and add a little more olive oil and cook till the onions are tender about three to four minutes. Add the garlic and cook till fragrant thirty seconds more. Add the tomato paste, and paprika and cook for one to two minutes. Then add the tomato sauce, caraway seeds, lemon zest and stock and stir well. Bring to a summer for about fifteen minutes and taste for seasoning, adjusting as necessary. If the sauce is to thick add more stock or water until its the consistency of gravy. Simmer for two hours.

     Now lets talk for a second about these bread dumplings.  The first set I tried to make fell apart in the water it was gross.  Just a scummy top layer of bread and grease. Yuck! I almost was unwilling to try again, but I sucked it up, drained the pot and added a little panko to the dough.

After all... my brotknoedel brings all the boys to the yard!

Brotknoedel or Bread Dumplings
 loaf stale French bread, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (I used panko)
2 strips of bacon

.Place the bread cubes into a large bowl. Heat the milk until it starts to bubble at the edges, then pour it over the bread cubes. Stir briefly to coat the bread. Let soak for 15 minutes.

.Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions; cook and stir until tender. Stir in the parsley, and remove from the heat. Mix into the bowl with the bread along with the eggs, salt and pepper and bacon.
Use your hands, squeezing the dough through your fingers until it is smooth and sticky.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. The water should be at least 3 or 4 inches deep. When the water is boiling, make a test dumpling about the size of a small orange or tangerine, by patting and cupping between wet hands. Gently drop into the boiling water. If it falls apart, the dough is too wet. In this case, stir some bread crumbs into the rest of the dumpling batter.
Form the remaining dough into large dumplings, and carefully drop into the boiling water. Simmer for 20 minutes, then remove to a serving plate with a large slotted spoon. They should come out soft, spongy and delicious!

Oct 2, 2010

Edible Thistles and Other Fun Things

Today was such a great day, not only did I get a new hair color: HELLO brunette/red head! But I got to celebrate one of the cutest kids I knows first birthday(she was very delicate and grabbed small bites instead of mawing into the cake). Tonight for dinner I had some chicken that I had defrosted two days ago so I HAD to cook it today.  It was quickly approaching the point of no return. 
A couple of weeks ago I saw a recipe for chicken breasts stuffed with artichokes and goat cheese, so going into the kitchen I had the kind of  had something like that in mind.  However, once I got into the kitchen and surveyed my ingredients it wasn't gonna happen. No goat cheese, but I DID have some feta. It was on.  In my opinion, stuffed chicken breasts are a pain in the ass.  They take a long time to cook, they are hard to tell if they are done, and meh...lets just face it most of the filling ends up in the pan you cooked it in, thus turning to SAUCE. So, I decided to make chicken breasts with a delicious delicate creamy sauce...NOM!
Chicken Breasts with Artichoke Feta Sauce
14 ounce can artichoke bottoms chopped
1/4 cup crumble  feta cheese
2 skinned, boned chicken breasts
¼ tsp pepper
2 tsp butter
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup organic vegetable broth

Heat 1 teaspoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts, and cook 6 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from skillet. Set aside; keep warm. Scrape the pan and add the vegetable broth, feta and artichoke hearts stirring constantly. Add spices, and lemon juice, stirring until feta is slightly melted and incorporated.

p.s. Taking pictures of tan things is so difficult! Sorry about the ugly pictures!

Oct 1, 2010

Heeeelllllo Gougeres!

     Tonight I was in the mood to try out a new recipe, and I wanted to try something completely different, so I jumped online and it seemed that there was a new group cooking their way through a French cooking cookbook and the first recipe was for gougeres.  Since I don't have the cookbook I wont try and join the cooking group, but the pictures intrigued me: puffy little flaky cheesy bites. Who wouldn't love that?
The recipe was super easy, and I will definitely be earmarking this one for easy entertaining, especially going into the holidays.


slightly modified from:
Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

1 c water

4 T (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 c (about 7 oz) all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 c  grated Cheddar cheese
1 c grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t chervil

Lightly grease a baking sheet and preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Combine the water, butter, and salt in medium saucepan; turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until the butter melts, just a minute or two longer. Add the flour all at once and cook, stirring constantly, until the dough holds together in a ball, 5 minutes or less.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating hard after each addition (I used my kitchen aid). Stop beating when the mixture is glossy. Stir in the cheeses, black pepper and chervil.
Drop teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheet and bake until light brown, 10-20 minutes.(mine took about 18-22)
I finished the gougeres with a couple of rough chopped tomatoes mixed with a little fresh garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt and rosemary.