Showing posts from 2015

2015 New Years Cocktail - The White Squirrel

OK, every year for the last several years, my spouse and I have rung in the new year with our dear friends, M and D. About 3 years ago we started including another couple, B and R.  The six of us have season tickets to a local theater company, and always attend a Sunday matinee together then head out for a dinner somewhere afterward.

So the six of us do this collaborative 5-course dinner for New Years Eve. This year I am responsible for the cocktail, the soup course and the seafood course.

The cocktail always poses a quandary, these dinners are an endurance event, wine with each course so you can't get too liquored up during appetizers or  you won't be able to enjoy the rest of dinner!  Let's just say, it's happened.  SO. I want to make something in the Cosmo-family of cocktails but not quite so boozy as a Cosmo - which are usually mixed with mostly vodka and cranberry juice dribbled in for color.

I thought I would make a sweet clear cocktail using Citrus infused Vodka…

Clark's Ham Potato Corn Chowder

Long time, no post.  I'll try to fix that this year.

This is something to do with leftover ham from Christmas.  It relies on a LOT of convenience items (condensed soups) that I don't use a lot.  These Cream of Whatever soups are fantastic shortcuts in the kitchen, but they tend to be a little heavy on sodium and bland - so you really need to add your own flavors to make the dish special.  

In a large skillet or sauce pan:
2 tbls butter

Add to the pot, and saute, until onions and celery are translucent:
2 medium onions, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced or shredded
1/2 cup celery, diced

Add, Bring to a simmer, and simmer for 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender
3 cups potatoes, diced
4 cups chicken broth

1 can, Campbells Cream of Celery Soup
1 can, Campbells Cheddar Cheese Soup
2 - 3 cups diced ham
1 can of creamed corn

Simmer for another 10 minutes, and the chowder is ready to serve.  However, if your are feeling extravagant, and want to really bump up the comfort-…

Lemon Cheese...because Lemon Curd is a little too fussy.

I am sure you are wondering what I filled that awesome Shortbread crust.  Lemon Cheese, of course!  This was adapted from an old Nathalie Dupree cookbook, New Southern Cooking.  I cut it by 1/3 because it's the perfect amount for a 9-inch tart, her's was created for a 12-inch tart crust.  But the great thing about it is that you can adjust up or down depending on how much you need.  The magic ratio is:

1 egg
1 lemon (juice and rind)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbls butter

Adjust up from there...

Lemon Cheese differs from Lemon Curd in that it's much, much less fussy.  Lemon Curd requires you to separate eggs.  I don't like separating eggs. [I know I did separate an egg in the previous recipe, but that was only one, and I used the white immediately in a quick morning scramble] Lemon Curd usually uses 4 - 8 egg yolks - which means you have to figure out what to do with your 4 - 8 egg whites - not a tragedy, but long after separating eggs I have often come across a container with an…

Perfect (and super easy) Shortbread Crust

A few years ago, my friend, St Cheryl of Shirlington, gave me a recipe for a Shortbread tart crust that I thought was pretty much perfect.  It had 3 ingredients - flour, confectioners sugar and butter, was quickly assembled in a food processor, patted into a tart shell and baked.  I have been using it ever since.  Over Christmas this year, I found a recipe on the Martha Stewart site for a Press-In Shortbread Tart Crust.  It's brilliant, and the perfect amount for a 9-inch tart pan. It similar to St. Cheryl's, but a bit richer.  It has a single egg yolk, regular sugar, butter and salt.  Martha assembled it by hand, which I file under "Life Is Too Short", so I used the food processor - if you don't have one, I highly recommend one, I have had this Cuisinart for over 20 years.  I also reduced by half the amount of salt, because I thought it was too salty.

So here goes.


In your food-processor bowl, with the blade attachment inserted, add:

What's for lunch? A Refridgerator-Clearer Frittata

Frittatas are a go-to leftover clearer in my house.  Leftovers present a challenge to cooks that have finicky eaters in the house. I happen to love finding things to do with them, but I have run across finicky eaters that don't like leftovers, or anything do to with them.  Frittatas, which are essentially a baked omelet, are a great disguise for anything that you need to rid of in your fridge. 
Last night was a "Wii Kirk" at our little Presbyterian church in Arlington, VA. WE have about one a month in the cooler times of the year.   The pastor's wife, St. Cheryl of Shirlington, and I bake a total of about 20 to 30 pizzas for whoever shows up, we set up a big screen with a Nintendo Wii attached for the kids or whomever to play.  People bring things to share, like salads, dessert, wine, home brewed beer, etc.  It's a grand way to start the weekend!
Anyway, I found myself looking for something to make on Saturday for lunch.  These were the things that fell out of m…

Clark's Knearly Kno-Knead Artisan Boule

Several years ago, the NY Times Mark Bittman, published a  No-Knead artisan bread recipe that launched thousands of youtube and blog posts. It's really simple - flour, water, salt and a lot less yeast than you think you'd need, bake it in a cast-iron dutch oven in a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes with the cover on, 15 minutes with the cover off.  The result is a lovely, round "store bought" appearing loaf.  The crust is crunchy and the inside is moist and chewy.  A long rise time gives it a tangy, sourdough flavor. The magazine Cook's Illustrated, tweaked this recipe a year or so ago, adding beer and a some vinegar - allowing for a shorter rise time and a more pronounced sourdough flavor.

Mark Bittman's recipe never worked right for me, the bottom was always burned.  Also, because it was no-knead, I often found streaks of unincorporated flour in the boule - not cool.  Kneading for just about 2 minutes, will ensure this doesn't happen.  I have made several…

Garden Season is Nigh!!

ZOMG!!!  It's getting near to garden season!!!  I cannot wait!  Are you with me??

Vegetarian "Pizza" Soup

Ok, it's not pizza, but it's really tasty. This is how this soup came about, it's one of the few recipes that I made up all by myself [preens a little :-)],  We do this thing out our Presbyterian Church called Wii Kirk every month or so.  Wii Kirk is on a Friday nights and the pastor's wife, whom I will always refer to as Saint Cheryl of Shirlington, bake an assortment of pizzas from scratch for whomever shows up.  The kids play Wii on the big screen, the parents have a glass of wine or two and have a nice start to their weekend.  It's become a mostly secular tradition at our little church. Saint Cheryl and I have a good time doing it, and it brings people to the church that might not attend a Sunday service.

Last year my spouse and I were doing this 28 day diet called Shred, and a Wii Kirk happened in the middle of this program.  I created this soup so that we wouldn't be tempted by the luscious pizzas- it didn't work, but it's a really amazing soup, …

Spinach-Cannelli Bean Soup

I have made a version of this before with chicken and chicken stock, but this version is vegan and 'fasting-day' friendly.  I think a serving (a heaping cup) would probably be around 150 calories.  The two cups of pureed beans for the 'Bean Broth' add a creaminess to the soup that "almost" makes it seem like there is dairy in it.  I believe that this was adapted from a Lynne Rossetto Kasper (the host of that awesome public radio show, The Splendid Table) recipe, hers had chicken in it, I am pretty sure.

ABOUT THESE BEANS:  I prepared one pound of cannelli beans according to package directions, but they came out mushy. I am not sure what I did wrong.  I boiled them for a minute, then allowed to soak for an hour, then cooked for about 40 minutes (the package said to cook for ONE HOUR(!)).  One pound of dried cannelli beans yeilded between 5 and 6 cups of mushy beans.  They taste fine, it's just the texture.


PUREE in a blender, and se…

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew

I am still looking for low fat, vegan soup options for our two 'fasting' days. I combined two different recipes, that I found out on the intertubes and the results were WONDERFUL, you have the black beans with a with savory spices and big chunks of sweet potato that add a subtle nutty, sweetness. It's hearty enough to stick with you for a while.

About The Beans:  this recipe uses one whole pound of black beans.  I made them from dried beans, because I had the time and it's no big deal, they take approximately a couple hours ( pick through for small stones, add a tsp of salt, cover with water, bring them to a boil and remove from heat, soak for an hour, then cook until they are tender - black beans take about 30 - 40 minutes).  You don't don't have to babysit them, which makes it easy if you work-from-home.  One pound of dried beans yields about 6 - 7 cups of cooked beans.  If you don't care to cook your own beans, use three 15-oz cans of canned black beans (…

Sweet Potato, Collard and Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Sriracha Sauce

OK, so Joe Yonan of the Washington Post published this a couple weeks ago in the Food Section.  Joe is a vegetarian, and I have used his recipes before because Joe likes really big flavors.  This recipe appealed to my Southern roots - hello! - Sweet Potato, Collards AND Black Eyed Peas - what's not to like??

Anyhoo, when we tasted this, my beloved said, "It would be perfect with BACON!", which would completely negate my goals of reducing meat consumption, right?  Even though it was true - it was  bland.  I bumped up the salt and pepper amounts and it was better, but still a little boring.  I thought, what about Sriracha?  This made a LOT of soup, so I added probably about a 1/4 cup of the Sriracha to the batch.  It was really good, the Sriracha added the Umami that this soup was missing.  Though, there's no bacon in it, the Sriracha adds a sweet, smokiness that was sorely missing.

It's a gorgeous soup, as you can see from the WaPo pic.  I actually made my own Bl…

Vegan Cabbage Soup

So, my spouse and I started this 5-2 diet in January, that started over in England.  The gist is that you subsist for 2 days a weeks on 500 - 600 calories for the day.  Our "fast" days are on Monday and Thursday, because that works well for us both.  I am chief-cook in our marriage, so I thought it would be cool if we went essentially vegan two days a week. Baby-steps, right? The first week was the hardest, but it's gotten much easier every week.

Anyhoo...I have been looking for really hearty, but low calorie soup options. I used to love this soup that my Grandmother, we called her Dee-Mama, made back when I was a kid. It was hearty and  comforting.  Dee-Mama's was, most assuredly NOT vegan (I think it either had bacon or sausage in it). So, this is not a family recipe, but it's inspired by one.  This may be too spicy for you with the Chipotle pepper (from Penzey's, by the way), but adjust accordingly.

Vegan Cabbage Soup

In a large-ish stockpot heat:

1 - 2 …