Wednesday, January 30, 2008

From Marketer to Marketer

On occasion I get emails from PR folks asking me to share information about events and products. Little do they know that at my day job I am pitching to bloggers about my clients' services and products. So, in order to help a brother out and share the love, here is a recent email I got from Hormel Foods...

"The Big Game is this weekend! Experts are predicting more than 100 million viewers this Sunday, and they’ll all be looking for tasty game day treats.

To prepare fans for a perfect game day party, Hormel Foods is offering a play-by-play to create three SUPER easy, delicious BACON dishes. In an easy-to-follow “how-to” video available on, the experts at Hormel Foods’ test kitchens guide readers as they prepare Onion Bacon Dip, Bacon Cheese Dogs and Monterey Ranch Ham Sandwiches. All the recipes feature bacon, which makes everything that much better!

To view the video, click here:"

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Alinea- Part Two

*click to enlarge

Well, I must say the food here really is fantastic and it truly is an experience. Highlights were the black truffle 'explosion', the chicken skin crisp and trout roe. The only course that didn't deliver was the sweetbreads. Some plates had up to 32 different flavors which looked great on the plate and usually married well together. The kitchen was pristine and very quiet. My only real complaint was our wine guy. I know there's a fancy name for them but I call him 'the wine guy'. He was so stuffy it was brutal. Each word was so rehearsed and I dreaded each time he came to our table. Other than that, Alinea was worth it. It's expensive but worth having once. They are doing some pretty amazing things there.


Recipe of the Week: Andouille Sausage and Shrimp with Creole Mustard Sauce

I am making this dish tonight for my boyfriend. I'll serve this over fettuchini pasta.
*next day note... this was awesome. Yumm. We loved it. I added some red pepper flakes for a little more heat. Dish comes together really quickly. Highly recommend it.

Andouille sausage and shrimp with creole mustard sauce
Bon Appétit February 2007

Prep: 35 minutesTotal: 35 minutes
Servings: Makes 4 to 6 servings.
subscribe to Bon Appétit

1 pound uncooked peeled deveined large shrimp
1 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning*
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound andouille sausage, cut crosswise on diagonal into 3/4-inch-thick pieces
1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch-wide strips
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
5 tablespoons Creole mustard (such as Zatarain's)2 teaspoons red wine vinegar*Available in the spice section of most supermarkets.

Toss shrimp with Creole seasoning in medium bowl to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add sausage pieces, cut side down. Cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer sausage to bowl. Add shrimp to skillet; cook until browned and just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl with sausage. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, bell pepper, and thyme to skillet. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add broth, mustard, and vinegar. Stir until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Return sausage and shrimp to skillet. Simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Alinea- Part One

Today is the day.

After 2 months of waiting, my reservation at Alinea has finally arrived. Named by Gourmet Magazine as the #1 Restaurant in 2006, Alinea is a combination of food, science, service and art. Chef Grant Achatz has been trained by some of the best, including Charlie Trotter and Thomas Keller. He's also dabbled in wine making where he learned the ins and outs at La Jota Vineyards. Not bad for a 32 year old.

To top it all off, Chef Achatz was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth in July of 2007 but after treatment his cancer is now in remission. He's won countless awards, including the 2003 "Rising Star Chef of the Year" Jame Beard award.

Look for pictures, tasting menu and much more tomorrow!


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Old School Oatmeal Cookies

My brother in law made these staple cookies this weekend and they were fantastic. He added golden raisins.


3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 stick butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt (opt.)
3 c. Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices; add to butter mixture, mixing well. Stir in oats. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 9 minutes for a chewy cookie, 10 to 11 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire cooling rack. Store in tightly covered container. 4 1/2 dozen.
OATMEAL COOKIE SQUARES: Press dough onto bottom of ungreased 13"x9" pan. Bake about 25 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely; cut into 1 1/2" squares. Store in tightly covered container. 4 dozen.
VARIATIONS: Add any one or combination of two of the following ingredients, if desired: 1 cup raisins, chopped nuts, or semi sweet chocolate, butterscotch or peanut butter flavored pieces.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Oldies but Goodies

I know I haven't posted this week and it's not cause I am not cooking. Nope. It's just that I cooked two recipes that I have already posted on the blog. You see, it's freezing here. We have a high of 2 tomorrow in Chicago. So that calls for some serious comfort food. So, what's on the menu you ask? Shrimp and Grits and Parpadelle with Lamb Ragu. You really can't go wrong with either of these and you'll sleep like a rock with a belly full of goodness.

I encourage you all to dust off some oldie but goodies this week and bare the cold. Look for great recipes this weekend as i am headed to Atlanta to cook with my sister and her foodie family.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Dulce de Leche Cake

For those of you that know me this is going to come as a real surprise...I baked a cake today. Crazy, I know.

I'm not a baker. I hate math, i hate to measure things to the exact amount- it just doesn't gel well with my personality. However, I wanted to keep myself busy in the kitchen today and I have an office full of girls that love sweets that I can give it to. So, why not?

I looked through some cooking magazines and came across a recipe from Saveur for Dulce de Leche. I used store bought dulce de leche from Stonewall Kitchen (of course).

2 tsp. butter
1 tbsp. plus 2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1⁄2 tsp. fine salt
6 eggs, at room temperature, separated
1 1⁄4 cups sugar
1⁄2 cup whole milk
1 1⁄2 tbsp. dark rum
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 16-oz. jar dulce de leche (milk caramel)

1. Heat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9" × 13" baking pan with the butter and dust with 1 tbsp. of the flour. Invert the dish, tap out the excess flour, and set aside.

2. Sift the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside. Put the egg whites into a large bowl and beat with a hand-held electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. While the mixer is still running, add the sugar in a gradual stream and continue beating again to soft peaks. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add the reserved flour mixture and the whole milk in 3 parts, beating until smooth after each addition. Add the rum and vanilla and beat again briefly until smooth.

3. Pour batter into reserved baking pan and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Set the cake aside and let cool slightly for 30 minutes.

4. Whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a bowl. Using a knife, poke the cake with holes all over, penetrating to the bottom of the pan. Pour the milk mixture over the warm cake and set aside to let cool completely.

5. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled and liquid is absorbed, at least 4 hours. Spread the dulce de leche across the top of the cake and serve.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Fish for people who don't like fish

We grew up with a mother who never cooked fish - ever - despite all of the men in our family being stellar fisherman, she just didn't go there. As a result, I am not a fish person and my sister Lizzie isn't either. I was shocked to find that there is a fish recipe I like, and maybe even love and so I feel that I have the duty to share this with any fellow fish-haters. It is from my absolute favorite cookbook, "I am Almost Always Hungry" by Laura Zarubin that has recipe names like "You buy Prada, I buy Truffles" and another menu titled "If I could only eat first courses in Italy, I would". Cooking fish in parchment paper is foolproof. We have since use this same recipe using dill and salmon and it was perfection. Highly recommend it!

Hallibut Fillet Baked in Parchment Paper


12 3-inch springs of rosemary
6 halibut fillets - 1/2 lb each
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 360 degrees. Cut 4 sheets of parchment paper into 6, 12-inch squares on a work surface. Place two springs of rosemary in the center of each piece of parchment, then place a halibut fillet on top of the rosemary springs. Laura suggests having the fishmonger cut the halibut as fillets rather than as steaks. We had them cut as steaks and they were still delicious, but apparently they are flaky in a really fabulous way when you get them as fillets. Drizzle the halibut with olive oil. Bring the front and back of each piece of parchment together over the centers of each fillet. Gently fold together 3 times and then fold the end of the paper under the packets.

Place the packets in a heavy-duty baking pan and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the fish from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, unfold the parchment paper and gently slide a spatula under the fillets and plate them. The fish completely falls apart and is infused with the rosemary flavor. We made a lemon/Parmesan/Italian parsley pasta to go with this and it was well, really good - and remember, all words from a fish-hater here.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Gage

Run don't walk to Chicago's new and finest gastropub across from Millennium Park. Seriously. Finally, my beloved Chicago has caught on to the gastropub trend (Spotted Pig anyone?) Happy days are here again.

I have some friends in town from NYC and anytime an old NYC friend comes I feel serious restaurant pressure. After all, New Yorkers love to eat and they love restaurants. I had heard some buzz about The Gage from some friends and co-workers and decided to give it shot. Talk about being fat and happy.

Don't go here if you're on a diet. Everything is too good and too tempting. They have an extensive booze list specializing in whiskey, wine and beers. After all, it's run by an Irish father-son team. The menu is split in to 4 sections: snacks, first, second and third. I'm always down for a scotch egg but it's the mussels that everyone talks about here. And for good reason, too. We also tried the daily risotto special with broccoli rabe and roasted cauliflower, the tenderloin and a fondue starter. Everything had tremendous flavor and was cooked perfectly. The (cute) chef made rounds around the restaurant and we gave him huge praises while we rubbed our growing bellies.

Did I mention that the space was fantastic?

Pillsbury Sugar Free Cinnamon Rolls with Icing

*From Simone in New York City

Pillsbury Sugar Free Cinnamon Rolls with Icing
(1 roll = 110 calories/ 3.5g fat/ 360mg sodium/ 23g carbs/ 3g fiber/ 0g sugars/ 2g protein)

There are few things quite as satisfying as devouring a warm, gooey cinnamon roll dripping with icing on a winter morning. And we are LOVING the Pillsbury Doughboy for coming up with a sugar-free version that tastes just as good as the real thing <> . And not only are they low in calories, these things even contain 3 whole grams of fiber. Woohoo!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Goulash for Porter

Not too long ago my pals Andrew and Emily welcomed baby boy Porter Takehiro (photo by A. Skwish) to their fam, and then they decided to buy a house, so last night Jamie and I went over to help pack and to bring dinner. First of all, he's a total pumpkin, but then again, he's got the coolest parents ever, so that was a given. After spending an hour or so packing books, (they have a LOT of books) we tucked into this delish goulash that I had made the night before. I was inspired by smittenkitchen's lead -- she must live in my hungry brain! But what really sealed the deal is that goulash was one of my grandfather's favorite dishes, and making or eating it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I served it over big dumpling egg noodles and with a white wine and dill cucumber salad. It was so homey and easy and perfect for winter. My only complaint is that it was a little watery ... I think I'd reduce the water.

Gourmet, December 1994

5 slices bacon, chopped
3 pounds boneless chuck, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 medium onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons paprika (preferably Hungarian sweet*)
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup tomato paste
5 cups beef broth (i used homemade stock that i made from the short rib bones)
1 beer (i used 2 below, new belgiums winter ale)
1 teaspoon salt
2 red bell peppers, chopped fine

In an 8-quart heavy kettle (helllloooooo new dutch oven. are you sensing a trend in my cooking?) cook bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp and transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. In fat remaining in kettle brown chuck in small batches over high heat, transferring it as browned with slotted spoon to bowl.

Reduce heat to moderate and add oil. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden. Stir in paprika, caraway seeds, and flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Whisk in vinegar and tomato paste and cook, whisking, 1 minute. (Mixture will be very thick.)

Stir in broth, water, salt, bell peppers, bacon, and chuck and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer soup, covered, stirring occasionally, 60 to 75 minutes.
Season soup with salt and pepper. Soup may be made 3 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, before chilling, covered. Reheat soup, thinning with water if desired.


A different but similar Braised Short Ribs

I did short ribs for my NYE dinner, cause anything braised is a winner for dinner parties with me. Liz, I was going to do your recipe, it looks so good! But I ended up with a small variation because I ain't pureeing anything. I have a. no food processor, b. no mixer, c. no immersion blender -- all I have is one borrowed blender that gets very upset when I use it for, well, basically anything. Now, this recipe looks like a lot of work, but it's really not, especially for the deliciousness of it. Also, I braised the ribs the day before, let them cool, and refrigerated them overnight so the flavors could meld together and so I could easily scoop out the gloppy nastiness that collects as the fat congeals at the top. Don't need that in my dinner, no thanks. Then I just warmed them up at 350 with some other stuff for maybe, oh, an hour?

I also made a freezer full of stock from the bones because, oh, did I mention? I made TWELVE POUNDS of short ribs. I had ten hungry people coming, and I had to get enough in their bellies to prepare for the copious amounts of champagne, hello! You should have seen me at the meat market -- I could hardly hold the bag it was so heavy and awkwardly shaped. Luckily, Jamie was there for the assist (after I convinced him we didn't need the halved pigs head across the aisle. Or the chicken feet. Or the beef tongue) so thanks, honey. Here's some shreddy beefy goodness for you.

Braised Beef Short Ribs

Gourmet, October 2006
Walter Manzke at Bouchée and L’Auberge Carmel, Carmel

From Epicurious: The signature dish at Bouchée is similar to boeuf bourguignon except it uses short ribs, which create a more elegant presentation for individual servings. The addition of vinegar offsets their robust meatiness. Any remaining sauce would be great served over egg noodles.

For short ribs
4 (8-oz) pieces bone-in beef short ribs (HAAAAAAAA ha ha ha ha. Did you read above? Okay, so now quintuple everything below)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (14-oz) can whole San Marzano tomatoes in juice, puréedin a blender with juice (my stupid blender can handle this, but that's about it. basically, it's a big glass gazpacho-maker)
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
4 cups brown veal stock (yeah, right. a. i hate everything about veal, b. nobody carries veal stock. i used chicken)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 tablespoon Banyuls vinegar or red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Braise short ribs:
Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 250°F.
Pat beef dry. Heat oil in a wide (12 inches in diameter) 3- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown beef on all sides, turning with tongs, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Add chopped carrots, onion, and garlic to oil in pot and cook over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup puréed tomatoes (reserve remainder for another use) and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Add wine and boil, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 8 minutes.
Add veal stock, thyme, bay leaf, vinegars, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to sauce, and bring to a simmer. Skim fat from surface, then add beef along with any juices accumulated on plate and cover pot with a tight-fitting lid. Transfer to oven and braise until beef is very tender, 4 to 5 hours.

Assemble dish: Transfer a short rib to each of 4 soup plates and keep warm in oven. Pour sauce through a medium-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids, then skim fat from sauce. Boil sauce, if necessary, until thickened and reduced to about 3 cups. Season with salt and pepper. Add about 2 cups sauce to vegetables (reserve remaining sauce for another use), then spoon mixture around short ribs.

Makes 4 servings. We quintupled to serve 10, with leftovers.


Perfect with Roast Chicken

I'm trying to cook a little healthier for us this month after our month of gluttony (which is why i haven't been posting, I've just been eating. Non-stop) so I've been making lots of different vegetables to spice up our meals. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm in loooove with plain, roasted cauliflower. Toss those babies with some olive oil and kosher salt and into the oven for 30 minutes or so? Yum! Very few make it to my plate, instead landing in our bellies straight off the roasting pan. To spice it up a little, I tried this combo, though, which was fantastic. A tad too spicy for Jamie but he did manage to eat his whole serving with one bite of this, one bite of roasted chicken. I'd highly recommend it.

Okay, clearly by now we've established that I don't really follow recipes all that well. I have a bit of a short attention span, so generally I just scan to get the gist, and go from there. It's also because my chronic disorganization (the bane of my loving and incredibly organized boyfriends existence) means that 9 times out of 10, I'm missing some ingredient by the time I get home. Sometimes, I wing it, sometimes said boyfriend has to run to the store, which is across the street thank god.

So... I didn't have any potatoes. Or coriander. Or jalapenos (thank god). I made everything else just as it should be, and while it was a teensy bit soupy, it was still great. The potatoes would probably suck up that soupiness. Which is probably why they were in the recipe to begin with. Oops.

Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes

1 (1 3/4-lb) head cauliflower, cut into 3/4-inch-wide florets
1 1/4 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeño, including seeds
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup water
Accompaniment: lemon wedges

Put oven rack in upper third of oven and place a shallow baking pan on rack. Preheat oven to 475°F.
Toss cauliflower and potatoes together in a bowl with 3 tablespoons oil, cumin seeds, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Spread in hot baking pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender and browned in spots and potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes.
While vegetables are roasting, cook onion, garlic, jalapeño, and ginger in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until very soft and beginning to turn golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Stir in water, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet, then stir in roasted vegetables. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.
Makes 4 side-dish servings.



It's rare that I make desserts -- I'm not much for sweets -- but I do love bread puddings so I made this chocolate bread pudding to cap off my NYE feast. It's from Gale Gand, of Tru. It's made with croissants, which made it more puddingy than bready, and I tend to like a breadier consistency, so I think I'll use real bread next time, but damn, it was all sorts of delicious. Best served warm, with champagne. But then again, what isn't?

I didn't cook mine in a water bath, FYI, and it turned out just fine. I did however, double the recipe and try to fit it in a 9x13 pan.... don't do that. I had like, 2 cups of custard mix leftover and even so, my kitchen still smells like burning chocolate from all the overflowing of the pan.

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

Gale Gand

Note: The croissant-cream mixture can be refrigerated, covered, up to 1 day in advance. If so, add 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time.

4 to 6 croissants, preferably 1 or 2 days old
2 cups half-and- half
2 cups heavy cream
Pinch salt
4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 eggs
1 cup sugar

Vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional

Cut the croissants into 1-inch cubes. You should have about 3 1/2 cups. Place the cubes in an ovenproof baking dish.

In a saucepan, heat the half-and-half, cream, and salt over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to make sure the mixture doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. When the cream mixture reaches a fast simmer (do not let it boil), turn off the heat. Add the chocolate and whisk until melted.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together. Whisking constantly, gradually add the hot chocolate-cream mixture. Strain the mixture over the croissant pieces and toss lightly. Let sit while the mixture is absorbed, at least 15 minutes. As it soaks, fold the mixture a few times to ensure even soaking.
When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a roasting pan that's 2 inches deep and larger than the baking dish with paper towels. Fill the pan with very hot water and place the dish of bread pudding inside. Bake until set, about 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on each serving.


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Chorizo, Lentil and Tomato Soup?

It's a gray day in Chicago so I decided to stay around the house and get organized for the new year. I unpacked the rest of my Christmas presents, reorganized my books, did my laundry and raided my pantry. I decided to challenge myself to see if I could make an original recipe using only what I had at my house at that time. I looked in my fridge. Chorizo. I love Chorizo. Let's use that. Red pepper. Check. Onion. I'll take it. And on and on and on.

I broke out my new dutch oven and started my creation. The verdict? See after recipe...

Chorizo, Lentil and Tomato Soup
1 chorizo link
1 onion
1 large can peeled whole tomatoes
2 small can diced tomatoes
2 tblspoons of tomato paste
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 cup green lentils, soaked and rinsed
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 1/2 cups beef broth
1 1/2 cup water

Add chorizo, garlic and onion to dutch oven and brown on medium heat, 6-8 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir for two minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer on low- medium heat for 25 minutes. Add water and simmer for another 15 minutes. Skim oil from chorizo off the top before serving.

Serve warm.

Verdict: Call me crazy but this actually turned out to be pretty good. It just goes to show that good food, creativity and saving money can actually go hand-in-hand.


Recipe of the Week- Cinnamon Raisin French Toast

I love salt but some mornings I wake up with a sweet tooth. When that's the case, I turn to this classic recipe to get my morning sugar rush.

Cinnamon Raisin French Toast
7 large eggs
2 1/2cups half and half
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 1 1/2-inch-thick slices cinnamon-raisin bread or French bread
4 tablespoons (about) unsalted butter
Maple syrup (optional)
Powdered sugar (optional)

Whisk first 6 ingredients in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Add bread to egg mixture and let soak 20 minutes, pressing down occasionally.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add bread to skillet. Cook until golden brown, turning once and adding more butter as needed, about 3 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake until bread puffs up and is firm in middle, about 30 minutes. Serve warm with maple syrup, if desired.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Szechuan Green Beans

Ever since I got back from vacation, I have been working pretty hard and laying low. Tonight, I am going to whip up my Cashew Chicken recipe for a friend and watch a movie. To accompany the entree, I quickly googled to find a Szechuan Green Bean recipe. I found this recipe on and it looks full-proof. The only thing I would add to this are some seasame seeds. I like to sprinkle them on top before serving.

Szechuan Green Beans
1 lb green beans
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon hot chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

Rinse and drain green beans;trim off and discard stem ends.

Cut green beans into 2- to 3-inch lengths.

In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, chili flakes, and white pepper.

Set a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over high heat.

When pan is hot, add green beans and 1/4 cup water.

Cover and cook, stirring once, until beans are bright green and slightly crunchy to bite, 3 to 4 minutes.

Uncover and cook until any remaining water has evaporated.

Add oil, garlic, and ginger to pan stir until green beans and garlic are slightly browned, 1to 2 minutes.

Stir soy mixture and add to pan; bring to a boil and stir until most of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce thickens and coats the beans, 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour into serving dish.