Wednesday, April 30, 2008

morels? no problem!

A friend of mine, an avid mushroom hunter, gave me some of his most recent morel haul. So generous! It was my first time having morels to cook with, so he also gave me preparation and cooking instructions.

Soak them for about an hour in salted water? No problem!

Drain them, dust them with flour and fry them in butter? No Problem!!

Enjoy these simply-cooked, luxurious morsels with a beer? NO PROBLEM!!!

Meaty and earthy yet delicate...I can see why people are maniacs for these shrooms. And darn! Apparently I missed a class dedicated to these fanatic-having fungi at the Kitchen Conservatory this week. Kelly from Sounding my Barbaric Gulp went, and was in charge of the ravioli. This was just after she posted about her fried false-morels (heh. peckerheads!). Now she needs your help, morel-ites...are these morels she found too dry?

So now I need to get my butt in gear and go hunting...the season is short!

Monday, April 28, 2008

grilled salmon with white bean salsa and grits

This was our Saturday night dinner. I had my eye on this white bean avocado salsa from a Schnucks Cooks recipe card, and asked Jack to figure out what to grill to go with it. He had been wanting to grill fish, so he chose salmon. We put everything on a bed of grits (instant, cooked with milk...) The Salmon was simply seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic powder.

The salsa was really tasty. I tweaked the original recipe to personal preferences...adding more jalapeno and a little bit of fresh garlic. I would eat this as a side salad, also.

White Bean and Avocado Salsa

6 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1 can (15 oz) navy beans, rinsed & drained
1 large tomato, diced
1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded & diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt to taste

Stir everything together (gently) and chow down.

Friday, April 25, 2008

you smell delicious!

So I have this addiction. Tiny bottles of perfume! The ones pictured above are from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (BPAL) and Possets. I've been hooked on BPAL for a while now. Possets is a new discovery for me, and I love their stuff so far. Basically, these two companies sell oodles of different perfume oil blends, which you can get in sample form in these adorable little viles (BPAL refers to these samples as "imp's ears.")

Hours can be wasted perusing the sites and all the scents. The descriptions alone are enough to get you hooked! For instance, BPAL's description for their scent "Gluttony," which is from the Seven Deadly Sins collection, says: "Thick, sugared and bloated with sweetness. Dark chocolate, vanilla, buttercream, and hops with pralines, hazelnut, toffee and caramel." Yum! I like this one, smells too sweet right out of the bottle, but like most of these oils, it mellows and/or on the skin, and, on me, becomes almost like a sweet cigar smell. Another favorite is called "Jack", which is described thusly: "The scent of warm, glowing jack o’lanterns on a warm autumn night: true Halloween pumpkin, spiced with nutmeg, glowing peach and murky clove." Again, out of the bottle, this is crazy sweet and pumpkin-y...actually like a pumpkin that's been out on the porch a few days...but once on, it's more like pumpkin pie!

Possets, as I mentioned, I just discovered. They are a little cheaper than BPAL, and have less selection. But they still have lots to choose from, and some really tasty sounding foodie scents. Today I wore the one called "Gingerbread Whorehouse" about which the site says: "The Gingerbread WhorehouseThat gingerbread house from your childhood? Well the neighborhood has changed and now it sports a red light out front! Very foody, very sweet, very sexy, very grown up in a sex kitten way. This is European Gingerbread given an American Cajun jolt with the spices, cher! Mmmm. Unisex, sexy-sex, and wow. Oh, the sign outside does say,"Ho Ho Ho House". Heh. You might end up with a whole new reputation." How can I resist?!?! I love the smell, too. I also bought it's partner, "Gingerbread Crackhouse." Ha!I can't say enough about these Posset scents, but I won't go on forever...just one more..."The Girls Love Limeys!"--Midsummer's really and truly beautiful pairing of honey and lime and secret ingredients, just like bees make. It is a real beauty again. Tart and sweet at the same time, a tiny bit spicy and full of life. And, Yes, the word "limeys" is doing double duty! I tried this one last night and it's so neat! Honey and Lime...I mean come on! Oh, also? Possets is FAST. I ordered 2 sets of samples on a Friday afternoon, and they had mailed them on Saturday! BPAL is a little unreliable as far as getting orders out in a timely fashion...

Apparently food scents have become more and more popular in recent years for perfume. I'm certainly all for this trend...though I'm not crazy about those sweet fruity scents that made Bath & Body Works the success it is...those grow old for me. I seem to be drawn to the smells of baked goods...

For hardcore foodies, Demeter has all sorts of food perfumes. From the downright delicious, such as basil, angelfood and waffles, to some redonkulous scents...beet root? mushrooms? rye bread? sushi? Yup, they are for real. I am intrigued by the "fiery curry," though. That seems like it could be sex in a bottle, no?

So there you have it...I've admitted to an addiction. Apparently I have to be drowning in food at all times. If I'm not eating or cooking it, I have to be reading about it or SMELLING it.

Do any of you have a favorite food-based scent? What food smells would you like to see captured in a bottle?

Monday, April 21, 2008

bratcho battle

You guys. We totally made bratchos. HA! Not only did we make bratchos, we made 2 different versions of bratchos! Heck yes we did!

See, when I saw bratchos on the Grizzlies menu, I thought it was pretty brilliant. 2 glorious stadium foods together at last! Visions of sauerkraut and melted cheese danced through my head. Then I took a look at what the Grizzlies bratchos involved:"A diced bratwurst marinated in tangy buffalo sauce placed on top a boat of tortilla chips and nacho cheese sauce." Wha? I don't put wing sauce and nacho cheese on my bratwurst! This is not jiving with the bratchos of my dreams.

But, they were the brilliant inspiration for our dinner. So we had to give props to the original by making them. And since I could not deny my own bratcho daydreams, we made bratchos 2 ways...the bratcho battle was ON!

Jack was in charge of grilling the brats and making the OB (Original Bratchos), while I tended to my idea of bratchos. Using jarred nacho cheese and a quick homemade Buffalo sauce (basically equal parts hot sauce and butter), Jack made these:

The bratchos of my fantasies involved 2 kinds of shredded sharp cheddar, melted onto the chips in the oven, diced bratwurst and sauerkraut (the kind from the refrigerated meat section...not the canned!):

The Grizzlies bratchos were just too much. Too salty, too goopy. My bratchos were the clear winner. Melty cheese. Salty, fatty grilly brats, and crisp, tangy, slightly sweet kraut. Home run! Sorry Grizzlies!

Friday, April 18, 2008

can the krispy kreme burger be topped?

One of our hometown Minor League ball teams, the Gateway Grizzlies, made headlines a couple of years ago by introducing the Krispy Kreme hamburger as part of thier concession selection. That would be a hamburger with cheese and bacon with a split krispy kreme glazed donut as the bun. Day-yum! (Of course, Paula Deen, being the butter and grease queen that she is, has outdone the original by bringing a fried egg and an extra donut to the party...)

Back to those wacky seems crazy-ass food items are thier schtick now. Here is a list of the food specialties that will be available throughout the season this year (from the Grizzlies website):

- Baseball’s Best Soft Preztel: Consists of a J&J Snack Foods SUPERPRETZEL® that is marinated in Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce and served with a slice of mozzarella cheese melted over the top of it. The soft pretzel will come with your choice of ranch or blue cheese dressing. It is available all season long.

- Chili Cheese Dog: A Farmland 8:1 hot dog smothered in chili and topped with shredded cheddar cheese. It is available all season long.

- Buffalo Chicken Sandwich: Buffalo chicken strips layered on a fresh baked bun then smothered in Swiss cheese and ranch dressing. Grilled onions are optional and it is available all season long.

- Bratchos: A diced bratwurst marinated in tangy buffalo sauce placed on top a boat of tortilla chips and nacho cheese sauce. It is available from June 19th to June 27th.

- Porksteak and Sweet Tea: A grilled porksteak smothered in barbecue sauce and served with a cup of sweet tea. It is available from July 1st to July 3rd.

- Twinkie Dog: A deep fried Twinkie is cut open and a Farmland 8:1 hot dog is deep fried then placed in the middle. It is available from July 11th to July 13th.

- Taco Dog: A deep fried Farmland 8:1 hot dog is placed in a crispy taco shell and topped with your choice of shredded cheese, sour cream, and taco sauce. It is available from July 21st to July 23rd.

- Philly Cheese Steak Nachos: Tortilla chips draped with shredded steak and topped with Cheese-Wiz. It is available from July 27th to August 4th.

- Crazy Corn: Popcorn mixed with Peanut Butter M&M’s. It is available August 19th to August 24th.

- Super Pierogies: Mrs. T’s Pierogies topped with chili, shredded cheddar cheese, and diced onions. It is available from August 29th to September 3rd.

Did you see that?!? TWINKIE DOG!! Like, whoa. I'm not saying I wouldn't try it...but that's some crazy food shennanigans to be sure. And I must admit, we'll probably making up a batch of Bratchos or two this summer. That's pretty darn brilliant, I think. And it's fun to say, too.

So, readers...thoughts? Do you want to try any of these? Or do they disgust and horrify you?


Monday, April 14, 2008

sausage & fennel bread pudding

It's Spring, yes. However, this weekend decided to be cold and rainy. It sleeted, even! Luckily, Jack had found a recipe that was perfect for such dreariness. So yes, this is yet another entry about something Jack, not Iron Stef, made. And this time, it's not a sandwich...although it does involve bread...

Sausage & Fennel bread pudding. Comforting and flavorful, this bread pudding had a tender middle with bits of browned toasty bread sticking out. Fennel and Salsiccia are a match made in heaven, to be sure, the bread and custard mixture their celestial cloud in which to float about and frolic like delicious angels. Divine.

Here's the recipe:
Fennel and sausage bread pudding

2 tablespoons butter, plus more for buttering the pan

3 cups whole milk

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 links mild Italian sausage (about 15 to 18 ounces total)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced crosswise (about 4 cups)

1 tablespoon minced shallots

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

5 eggs

8 cups stale sourdough bread, crust on, cut or torn into about 1/2 -inch pieces (about a 1-pound loaf)

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, fennel seeds and black pepper. Heat over high heat until just before the milk reaches a simmer. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

2. Remove the sausage from its casings and break apart into small pieces in a medium sauté pan. Cook over medium heat until the sausage is thoroughly cooked and beginning to brown. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside on a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

3. Wipe out the pan and heat the 2 tablespoons of butter and the olive oil over medium heat until frothy. Add the fennel and cook until caramelized, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add the shallots and salt and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and set aside.

4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in the cooled milk and then stir in the bread, sausage, fennel mixture and parsley until well combined. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, pressing down to make sure the bread is submerged (Jack ended up adding about a cup more milk at this point, because the bread didn't seem submerged...). Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes while the bread absorbs the liquid.

5. Bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown, rotating once for even cooking. Serve immediately.

Friday, April 11, 2008


The other night we made a muffaletta....okay, Jack made it while I watched. He's the sandwich master of the house, afterall. Our muffaletta didn't stray too far from the traditional. Basically, a round Italian loaf of bread layered with, in order from bottom to top, olive salad, Mozzerella cheese, Capicola ham, Mortadella, Provolone cheese, salami and more olive salad.

Speaking of Olive Salad...

Jack's Olive Salad for Muffalettas

1/2 c. Kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 c. Spanish (green) olives, chopped
1/2 c. giardinera (Italian pickled carrot and cauliflower), chopped
1/4 c. pepperconcini, chopped
1/4 c. roasted red pepper, chopped
1 shallot, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 stalk celery, minced
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar (or giardinera/pepperconcini pickling liquid)
½ tsp. ground black pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together, taste it for seasoning, let sit for at least half an hour, then make a muffaletta with it!

After assembling the sandwich, we put another plate on top of it and some weight...we used a caraffe of water, but a big can of tomatoes or something would work, also. Let it smush and meld and delish-i-fy for a half hour or so.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

grilled pizza and tequila lime cheesecake!

This past weekend was el-perfecto weather-wise. Sunny, breezy, high 60's. Fantastic! Great for grilling stuff and eating refreshing desserts and drinking beer.

We decided to attempt grilled pizzas. For the crust, we simply used some of those frozen dinner roll dough balls. Coat them in olive oil, and put them in a bowl and cover to let them thaw and rise. When they were nice and soft and puffy, knead and flatten on an oiled surface. Tip: if the dough is resisting staying in the shape you want, put it aside and let it rest a few minutes while you start another crust.

To grill: first of all, have all your toppings and sauces chopped and ready to'll need to do the topping part quickly. Put the flattened crusts on a clean, well-oiled hot grill. Once they look done on that side, flip them over, then quickly top the pizzas. Let cook until cheese is melted (or before crusts get too dark on the bottom...whatever comes first).

We had a few combinations...pepperoni and bacon, anchovy and red onion, and a bbq chicken pizza (based on a papa john's pizza...what?) that had red onion, pineapple, bacon and chicken. The bbq chicken one had a sauce that was 2 to 1 Jack's homemade pizza sauce and sweet baby rays bbq sauce. All were topped with fresh shredded mozzarella cheese.

For dessert, I had made a Tequila lime cheesecake from a recipe that in Conscious Cuisine by Cary Neff, a cookbook I have from the library. It's got lots of yummy-looking recipes...all healthy! I veered a little from the recipe, but not much. Here's what I did:

Tequila Lime Cheesecake
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup toasted unsweetened coconut powder
¼ cup apple sauce
3 cups fat free cottage cheese
1 ½ cups 1/3 less fat cream cheese
2 cups raw cane sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lime zest
¼ cup key lime juice
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 packages unflavored gelatin powder
1 tablespoon tequila

Combine graham cracker crumbs, coconut and applesauce in a bowl. Press the crumbs into the bottom of 9.5” springform pan and set aside.

Puree cottage cheese in a food processor until smooth. Add the cream cheese, sugar, zests and lime juice. Process until combined, about 2 minutes. Pour orange juice into a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin powder over it. Let stand for about 2 minutes. Stir over medium heat until the gelatin is dissolved. Stir in tequila. Add gelatin to cream cheese mixture and mix well. Pour this onto the prepared crust and smooth out the top. Cover and refrigerate to let the gelatin set…at least 4 hours.

The recipe in the book also calls for a tequila lime glaze, which we skipped because it required even more setting up time and we couldn't wait any longer. We did make a sort of tequila lime glaze, though, with tequila, key lime juice, fresh orange juice, citrus zest and sugar. It was thickened with a slurry of cornstarch and water. This should be pretty tart, to make a good companion for the cool, creamy, sweet cheesecake.

Yay good weather!

Monday, April 07, 2008

shrimp & grits casserole

The March 08 issue of Cooking Light had this recipe for shrimp & grits casserole. How fun is that? I thought it was a fun idea. So I made it. It was good! The grits were really creamy. I think I'll make this again, except I may cook the grits only as a casserole, and cook the shrimp separately. This was really "shrimpy."

I dotted it with Sriracha and served it on a bed of spinach that I cooked with bacon, shallots and garlic...(cook some bite size pieces of bacon, remove bacon and dispose of all but 1 Tbsp of bacon grease. Cook a shallot and a couple cloves of garlic in bacon grease until starting to brown, add spinach and cooked bacon and cook until spinach is wilted.)

Here is the casserole recipe:

2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 (3-ounce) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 large egg whites
1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp, coarsely chopped
Cooking spray
Hot pepper sauce (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Combine milk and broth in a medium heavy saucepan; bring to a boil. Gradually add grits and salt to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan, butter, and cream cheese. Stir in parsley and next 4 ingredients (through shrimp). Spoon mixture into an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until set. Serve with hot pepper sauce, if desired.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

STL food bloggers potluck!

This pretty pretty picture of my mini meatloaf cupcakes was taken by Jonathan Pollack at a potluck he and his wife, Stef from Cupcake Project, generously hosted at their home on Sunday. Jonathan is a wonderful photographer with a camera set-up that gives me major lens-envy. Check out his site! Hire him!

So yes, I made the famous meatloaf cupcakes. Pretty much the same as here. I did make some colorful mashed potatoes for little extra batch was orange, made by adding lots of paprika, and one batch was bright yellow, made using turmeric and saffron. As always, they were delightful.

The potluck was fun! I got to meet a whole bunch of fellow food bloggers from the area. A great group of peeps, though I admit I didn't get to talk to everybody. I did get the buffet line going, though...

That dish I am lunging eagerly for has some potato flatbreads that Nupur from One Hot Stove made. She had a curry sauce and several fixin's to go with them. Man those were good. (EDITED TO ADD: Nupur sent me the link to her blog entry on how to make these glorious nibbles. In her e-mail, she adds: "But I posted this recipe such a long time ago, and the way I make it now is a little different :) The patties that I made had a little turmeric, ginger and garlic in addition to the ingredients mentioned. The curry- I skipped the tamarind and jaggery (unrefined sugar) because I served the chutney on the side.") I could have eaten them all night. Except there was so much other awesome food to eat, too...including some amazing desserts. I guess you'd expect as much from a gathering of food bloggers, huh? Still...I needed another stomach. For real. For instance, check out Kelly's Tyler's Ultimate mac & cheese. Barbaric Gulp indeed! Also, you can see more of Jonathan's photos from the evening (they'll make you drool) by going to his website and entering the code FOODBLOG in the box below.

Here's a list of all the blogs representin' at the potluck (Oh geez I hope I got everybody...please yell at me if you were there and I failed to give a shout out):

smith family recipes -Margaret recaps the potluck, and here's the recipe for her dish, the fabulous "Unnamed Italian Dish."

sounding my barbaric gulp -Kelly's recap and recipe for her dish, Tyler's Ultimate mac & cheese.

the kitchen at serafina studios -Kristen & Gabriel put some photos and such of the potluck up here.

resourceful living

miss food snob -Amy posts her lemon tart recipe here.

ZiNur -Natalia's coconut rum cake was a huge marriage-worthy. Here's her recipe for this "Bienmesabe."

show me vegan -Lisa brought Orzo with Roasted vegetables!

i digress...

becky and the beanstock

one hot stove -Nupur, as mentioned above, made divine ragda patties. She writes a bit more about the potluck in this post, after some awesome-looking "dosas" which I need to try. now. Also, notice one of my favorite photos from the night...the date-tamarind chutney being poured (by moi!) onto a ragda patty. Money shot!

everybody loves cheese

veggie venture

cupcake project -Stef made yummy-shmummy lavender cupcakes.

stl today's recipe exchange

It was fantastic to meet everyone. I hope we do stuff like this more often. Please check out these blogs. they rule the Lou!