easter bread 2013


This was not my favorite Easter bread to date. Of course it wasn’t only bread but also candied oranges….and then Rob accidentally stuck his finger in the risen loaf before I baked it.

To be fair the kitchen was a disaster because of course I was also trying to simultaneously compile a southern feast, complete with, from scratch, sweet potato pie.   Yes, marathon cooking on Easter Sunday. Rob did make some excellent pie dough and it was his first attempt ever: gold star.

…and we ate well, we ate very well.


muffin stuffin

Can we discuss this idea of Rachael Ray’s to use muffins to make stuffing? Because muffins are just way too sweet to make stuffing out of!  A little sweet would be good but muffins are too much. Of course I made the muffins so I guess I could have put less sugar in them. hindsight. I even was short one leek and so I used some shallot which should have helped! Thank goodness for the lemony gravy to balance it a little bit.

This meal does have an old school comfort food vibe about it…kind of makes me want to turn on Lawrence Welk and drink some Ernest & Julio Gallo Chablis. If only I had some canned peas and potato buds too. (okay not really. yuch)

savory bread pudding for xmas eve

pan of spinach artichoke bread puddingOkay, so I was going to make lamb shanks but the lamb shanks that I found at the grocery in my hometown in Wisconsin (not a place where lamb is a particularly popular meat) turned out to be inedible once removed from the shrink wrap and weird sticky bandage-like-wrapping-stuff. They were returned. Have you ever returned meat? Not fun.

Then my mother said that my aunt who was coming to dinner was a vegetarian, (Turns out she actually isn’t any longer.) but I found a recipe online from Emeril, (Not usually my favorite, as you can tell from my Emeril-less cookbook collection.) but all the ingredients would be available and fresh at the local grocery store and I thought it was non-controversial (I was wrong. Savory bread pudding, kind of like savory cheese cake or flan, disturbs people.) but everyone said they liked this, a kind of like spinach-artichoke dip with the bread (and lots of brie) already in it. It was rich and yummy and the leftovers were great.  Mid-westerners seem to turn their noses up a bit at the idea of eggs for dinner, at least a holiday dinner. For those of you that agree…we did have a side of steak.

I also made some mushroom latkes and onion-applesauce which were tasty but not very pretty and I didn’t have a good picture for the blog.  The recipe you will see calls for celery root. Again one of those things you take for granted in Chicago but that does not seem to be popular in Wisconsin, yet.  I finally found some squishy-moldy ones… I substituted with good old fashioned potatoes.

Bad mashed potatoes?

Okay, I have not written anything in awhile but I’ve had a run of bad luck and who wants to read post after post about the really yucky food I made last week, which I threw out and ended up eating pizza and sandwiches. So here is the summary:

steakandmashedmasher cakes, steak in lots of steak sauce and salad

Yes, bad mashed potatoes, sorry Alton, they were actually bad. Maybe I did something wrong? Although I’m not sure how that is possible. I also did not like the cognac blue cheese sauce.

I did really like the ‘masher cakes’ recipe where you mix the leftover mashed potatoes with an egg and some green onion then cover in panko bread crumbs and fry…yummy. I then also doctored the questionable cognac blue cheese sauce into some homemade steak sauce that was pretty yummy. So take-2 was pretty good.

fish with fennel and couscous

And this one was really gross. Swordfish steaks with fennel. I put it on some whole wheat couscous…..seriously foul. There was no take-2 here and I threw most of it away. Thank you Moosewood.

taramasalataAnd finally Taramasalata…two bites…that is all I managed. The rest went in the dumpster.  This is supposed to be a very popular dip in Greece made with salted/cured fish roe. Now, I like smoked fish; I like roe (fish eggs); I like dip made with smoked fish; I really hated this!!!   I will not be trying it again.  If I ever find myself in a seaside cafe in Greece, then, perhaps, someone might talk me into trying it just one more time.  I will try not to memory gag.

chickpeas and lamb chops (deja vu)

lamb, chickpeas, potatoesThis is a dinner from last week. I was out of town all week and I didn’t get around to posting.

The grilled smashed potatoes are delicious! It is a multi-step process: boil, smash, brush with olive oil and chopped fresh rosemary, and grill.  Mine were falling apart so I was glad to have the ceramic grill grates with lots of surface area. I don’t cook a lot of potatoes so this was a nice change for me. recipe

But more grilled lamp chops! These really are kind of a go.  Just a nice bite of meat to go with the rest of my dinner; marinade was a lemon vinaigrette. recipe

…and More Chickpeas! Warm Chickpea and Swiss Chard Beet Green Salad with Sumac; this is a middle eastern recipe and it is SWEET…I can’t say I like it. darn. I found, not exactly the same recipe but really close online.

I warn you…do not make these grits

grilled pork loin, grits, corn on the cobI realize people do much more elaborate and difficult things on the grill… but brining, and then grilling with indirect heat, a whole pork loin is by far the most ambitious of my grilling projects to date; so I feel like the grillmaster and there is no one here to tell me otherwise! ha! :p

And I warn you. Do not make these grits! You will eat them, and eat them….and not be able to stop until you are quite sure you may explode. If you have a love of sweet corn. If you are one of those people who can’t get enough of anything carb’y. if you tend to go back for just one more spoonful… I will say it again. Do not make these grits because they are far too delicious. Here is how to make them.

  1. Grate a vidalia onion and cut the kernels off two ears of sweet corn.
  2. Cook the grated onion in some oil on the bottom of your pan until translucent, add corn and cook a few more minutes.
  3. Add 2 cups of whole milk and 2 cups of water and 1 tsp of salt. Bring to a boil and whisk in 1 cup of grits. (not quick cook! just plain old coarse-ground dried corn)
  4. Turn to low stir occasionally. The recipe said for 45 to 60 minutes but mine were thick and creamy and started browning on the bottom of the pan at  about 30 minutes.
  5. In the meantime grate 3/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano and chop 1 tablespoon each of chives and parsley.
  6. Once the grits are done add the cheese, 2 tablespoons of butter, the herbs and a couple handfuls of coarsely chopped spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Try not to eat it all by yourself

…actual recipe

a greekish dinner

The salad dressing/marinate for the chicken was great with the fresh oregano and lemon zest.  The feta I bought at the local grocery was fab-u-lous but I have a huge wedge of it!  This is no little package of feta crumbles so we may end up in a too much of  a good thing situation. I also got some great kalamata olives and Lebanese style pita. Then I cranked up my grill for the chicken. (I’m still in love and it has been so rainy here in Chicago I still haven’t had a chance to use it much) –> recipe on Rachael Ray

This was my first attempt at using phyllo too and I don’t think it went all that well. The recipe is trying to make it easy on you by not making you layer hundreds (exaggeration) of sheets of phyllo with melted butter.  This recipe calls for about 4 sheets each and this just really isn’t enough. These spanakopita-sorta’s are okay but I also made the bakla-squares (simplified baklava?) and they were pretty bad. I will spare you the photos. I notice that they did on the web site too. –> spanikopita, bakla-squares


The future?: google earthing other people's dinner tables