Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year 2015: Bos Creek Ribeye With Creamy Horseradish Sauce

As you all well know, this has been a year of big change for me and my family. We love our new home and have gotten a few things done, but injury and Christmas have made us rework our renovation schedule a bit. That's OK, there's no big hurry. The ugly bits aren't going anywhere.

I also decided to get a part time job earlier this year. Like many of us who were lucky enough to stay at home while we were raising our children, I found myself feeling unfulfilled since their high school graduations. I simply adore my new job assisting chefs prep for their classes at a nearby cooking school. Thank goodness there was a job opening at my "happy place". I feel all warm and fuzzy just walking in the door. This might explain my blogging gaps lately, but I'm slowly getting my rhythm back.

So in just a few days we will be saying goodbye to 2014 and hello to a brand new year. I really love New Year celebrations because it is the last excuse we all have to splurge with some decadent little nibbles and drink a glass or two too many to wash them down. I adore appetizer suppers and they are a New Year's tradition around here.

A few days ago I was contacted by meat company, Bos Creek and asked to help them get the word out about their new company. They offer mail order, all natural, grass feed and finished beef in a variety of subscription packages that are shipped directly to your door. They also offer pork from Berkshire pigs, and chickens that are both free to forage and are fed a non GMO diet during the winter months.

Anxious to sample some of their beef I decided to try a little New Year's Eve recipe dry run,  Since I only had a small beef sample, and I wanted to get as many opinions as I could, I borrowed an appetizer recipe idea from my niece and served one of Bos Creek's ribeyes seared in my cast iron skillet, then cubed, along side a creamy horseradish sauce for dipping.

My football watchers really enjoyed this dish. The beef was super flavorful without the gaminess that is sometimes found with grass fed and finished beef. The nice size 13 ounce ribeye was tender and delicious, just perfect with the horseradish sauce (recipe follows).

If you would like to learn more about Bos Creek and their products and prices, please click here. I hope you all have a safe and delicious New Year and a prosperous and healthy 2015!

Creamy Horseradish Sauce

1 cup sour cream
2 ounces grated fresh horseradish (or prepared horseradish to taste)
1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh parsley (optional)
1 small garlic clove, crushed
2 - 3 tablespoons whole milk (to thin the sauce out a bit)
1 pinch white pepper
Salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a medium size bowl. Stir well to combine. Cover and let sit for at least an hour.

Serve with beef cubes, whole sauteed mushrooms, roasted fingerling potatoes or homemade potato chips.

Makes about 1 - 1/2 cups.

I think a great little secret (Gary Rhode's not mine), is to rub steaks with a little beef bouillon paste made from bouillon granules and a tiny bit of water.  Let it sit for an hour or so so the meat can absorb the flavor. Besides a little pepper, you really don't need any other seasonings. The bouillon contains all the salt and flavor you will need.

Sear your seasoned steak in a screaming hot cast iron pan or outdoor grill for just a few minutes on each side; remove, cover and let it rest for a few minutes before cutting into cubes and serving.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Applegate Uncured Good Morning Bacon: Creamy Bacon, Mushroom and Onion Soup

I love my association with Applegate. They produce clean meat products without hormones or antibiotics, and I like clean meats without hormones or antibiotics. Win, win I'd say.

A few days ago the folks at Applegate sent me a box with a couple of packages of their Good Morning Bacon inside. In my opinion it is not exactly traditional bacon by definition, but pretty darn close. This bacon is made with meat from the pork shoulder instead of the belly, resulting in a cut of meat that is 60% lower in fat than regular bacon but is still pretty tasty.

Now, I didn't exactly admit to Applegate (like I am admitting to you now) that I am not a real breakfast girl. All I know is they said "bacon", and I said "yes". If given a choice I would much rather have leftovers from the night before for breakfast than eggs any day. When it comes to bacon though, I can eat it 3 times a day, so I think I am qualified.

For this post I did actually consider doing something breakfasty like an egg sandwich, but I believe that most people already have their own favorite recipe for those. I also thought about making some pancakes and spiking them with bacon, but it seems like I already did that a few months ago. So to be true to myself, I decided to use this delicious, super lean bacon in one of my favorite soups, cream of mushroom.

I stopped buying most canned soups years ago. Once I discovered how easy most of them are to make, I kicked the can in favor of homemade. The biggest trick of all to making homemade soups is not getting carried away and making too much. Who needs 6 gallons of soup for a family of four? The only other problem I ever had was adding too much rice or pasta. After years of dry soups in the fridge, I now only put about half as much pasta or rice in as I feel inclined to. Thanks to this rule and lots of bacon, they now turn out great every time.

For more information about Applegate and their products, including their Good Morning Bacon, please click here.

Creamy Bacon, Mushroom and Onion Soup

This soup certainly isn't just something that you add to casseroles, although you certainly can if you like. This soup is a meal in itself. Flavorful, hearty and elegant enough to serve to your mother-in-law. Make this once and you'll kick the can too.

4 ounces Applegate Good Morning Bacon or lean streaky bacon, chopped
3 nice big shallots (or 1/2 of a small yellow onion), finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter or light olive oil or a combination of both
8 ounces crimini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-3/4 cup HOT chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup of your favorite white wine (can be substituted with additional stock)
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (Whole milk can be used but you will have to increase the flour by an additional tablespoon to thicken the soup. If heated too high for too long, milk can curdle, so I advise adding it at the end of the cooking time, just long enough to heat it through.)
1 healthy pinch white pepper
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper

Place bacon in a large saucepan set over medium high heat. Cook, stirring frequently until it is browned. Add the shallots and cook for 1 - 2 minutes longer or until they start to sweat. Add the Mushrooms and cook for 2 - 3 minutes longer, stirring frequently. To this stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.

Sprinkle the flour over the top of the mushrooms in the pan. After stirring and cooking for about a minute longer, slowly add the hot stock while stirring constantly. Add the white wine, whipping cream, pepper and rosemary. Bring to a boil before reducing heat to low, covering and simmering for 5 minutes.

Before serving add salt and pepper to taste. Serve piping hot with croutons or crumbled bacon sprinkled on top.

This recipe serves 2 large dinner size portions or 4 small appetizer size portions.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Well-Seasoned Kitchen Cookbook Review and Giveaway: Elegant Wild Rice Salad

At this time of year as everyone gathers together with their family, I get just a little bit melancholy thinking about how much I miss the loved ones that I have lost. I miss my mom, dad, grandparents, special aunts and uncles and several friends that passed away far too soon. What I wouldn't give to spend just one more Christmas with them. On the bright side, I must also say that remembering the ones I have lost also makes me that much more grateful for those that I still have in my life.

On this same sentimental train of thought, I was recently offered an opportunity to review a very special cookbook by a mother and daughter team, Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper. After noticing that her mother was beginning to suffer the early effects of memory loss, daughter Lee was wisely inspired to begin this book as a way to engage her mother by evoking memories of their time together cooking and entertaining.

As I looked through "The Well-Seasoned Kitchen", which contains over 180 recipes, I was slightly reminded of one of those well loved community or Junior League cookbooks. You know the kind I am talking about. The ones where contributors' favorite recipes are cooked and tweaked until they are nearly perfect, then lovingly compiled. I have a couple that I count as some of the favorite cookbooks that I own.

More along the lines of a Junior League cookbook, this book contains recipes that are smart and a little bit more dressed up than your usual community offering, but just as approachable. From Tex-Mex Cheese Fondue and Dijon Pork Chops with Arugula to Frozen Brandy Alexander Pie and Nama's Lemon Love Notes, this is definitely your go to cookbook for a bridal shower, al fresco dinner party or girlfriend luncheon.

Sadly, Sally passed away a few years ago, but what a great gift she left behind in the form of this cookbook. I really enjoyed flipping through their delicious recipes and reading her and her daughter's anecdotes and seeing their family photos. It is a nice little peek into the lives of a loving mother and daughter and their warm, well-seasoned lives. In my opinion, just perfect for this time of year.

Elegant Wild Rice Salad

After pouring over this cookbook several times (like I like to do), I finally landed on making this recipe since I thought it a good one for Christmas and New Year's buffets, and boy was I ever right. I can see where this dish would be just as perfect with a prime rib roast as it would be with a chicken salad sandwich. This would also be a great party dish since it makes enough for at least 8 - 10 people.

3 cups wild rice, rinsed, or a mixture of wild with white and/or brown rice (I used wild and brown jasmine)
2 - 6 ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts
1 - 10 ounce package frozen peas, thawed and drained
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 pint small cherry tomatoes, halved
Toasted slivered almonds (I used a 2.5 ounce package)

1-1/3 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon celery salt (I used celery seed with good results)
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 of the juice from 1 jar of the marinated artichokes

In a large saucepan, heat 2 quarts and 1 cup water and rice to boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until rice is done. Drain off any remaining liquid. Drain artichoke hearts, reserving marinade for dressing. Chop artichoke hearts and add to rice with thawed peas, green pepper, green onions, tomatoes and half of the reserved marinade. Set aside.

In a large lidded jar, combine all dressing ingredients and shake well. Toss half into rice mixture. Cover and chill. Just before serving, toss again and taste. Add additional dressing as needed and season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with slivered almonds and serve.

Rice salad can be made the night before and refrigerated.

As with all my giveaways, I like to keep things simple. You are entered by just commenting below or on Savoury Table's Facebook page by clicking on the button at the top right of this page. If you'd like to purchase a copy of this book it can be found in bookstores, home good and specialty gift shops, and on I will be choosing my winner on Monday, December 15th. Drawing is open to US addresses only. Please be sure I have a way of contacting you in case you are my winner. If notified, you have 48 hours to contact me or an alternate winner will be chosen. Good luck!

For more inspiration and information, visit

Friday, November 28, 2014

Food Truck Road Trip Cookbook Review and Giveaway: Loco Moco Mazemen (Beef Ramen with Miso Gravy)

Shortly before I headed west for the World Food Championships, I got an email about doing a review of a really fun cookbook called Food Truck Road Trip by bloggers Kim Pham and Philip Shenn with food writer,Terri Phillips. You very might well recognize Pham and Shen as the bloggers behind Saveur magazine's pick for Best Culinary Travel Blog, I usually always agree with Saveur's blogger picks, so when I got a chance to look this book over, I was more than happy to oblige.

Food Truck Road Trip is a bright, colorful cookbook loaded with the authors' picks of some of the best food truck recipes from around the country. All of the recipes are prefaced by a little history of the chefs and their inspiration for their trucks and their recipes. I love reading the background on these entrepreneurs, because deep down inside I wish I could load up a cute little trailer with my favorite recipes and watch the diners line up at the window. Maybe someday.

For some this is dream is a reality and Pham and Shen have sought them out and compiled 100 of their best recipes for this book. From soup and sandwiches, to American comfort food with a little Latin, Asian and fusion foods in between, this book is a beautifully photographed tour of some of America's best food trucks. Oh yeah, they didn't forget about those with a sweet tooth. There's lots of recipes for drinks, desserts and snacks in there too.

Since I always like to cook the books that I review, I combed through this one no less than ten times trying to land on just the perfect recipe. It was really a tough decision, what with trying to decided between Wes Islip's (Melts My Heart, San Jose) crab salad grilled cheese, Timothy Mark Abeil and Caleb Patrick Orth's (Flat Iron, Los Angeles) Oxtail Mac N' Cheese, and Joe Glaser's (La Bella Torte, New York, NY) Rosemary Olive Oil and Blood Orange Cake. See what I mean?! Hard choices!

After changing my mind several times I finally landed upon Loco Moco Mazemen from the tiny food cart, Poi Dog Philly, owned by Kiki Aranita and Chris Vacca, from (you guessed it) Philadelpia, PA. I just loved the Hawaii meets Japan vibe of this beefy noodle dish. Nevermind that I found 8 packages of ramen and an unopened container of miso when we moved. Well, maybe it did have just a bit to do with my decision, but I'm so glad it worked out like this, because we really enjoyed it.

Loco Moco Mazemen (Kiki Aranita & Chris Vacca, Poi Dog Philly)

3/4 pound ground beef
4 eggs
4 - 1/4 ounce dried ramen noodles

1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/3 cup diced white onion
2 tablespoon shoyu (I used soy sauce)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Miso Gravy
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons white miso
1 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste

4 tablespoons fried shallots
Pinch of furikake (a spice blend also known as rice seasoning)
8 sheets roasted Korean seaweed for garnish (optional)

To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add the ground beef, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat, add the eggs and boil for 6 minutes. Drain and immediately dunk in ice water. Peel and set aside.

Cook the ramen noodles according to the package directions, drain and set aside.

To make gravy, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in the flour. Once the roux browns lightly, 1 to 2 minutes, whisk in the beef stock, then the miso. Add the black pepper and salt to taste. Cook for about 6 minutes until the gravy thickens.

Remove the beef from the refrigerator, add to a skillet set over medium-high heat and saute until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Divide the noodles among 4 bowls, dress with the miso gravy, then top evenly with the beef, 1 egg, the fried shallots and furikake. Tuck 2 sheets of seaweed next to the rim of each bowl.

My only note here is that I thought that the gravy was a bit floury so next time I will back off the flour a bit and go with my trusty 1 to 1 ratio of fat to flour and use 2 tablespoons instead of the 1/3 cup called for in the recipe. We also thought this dish needed a bit of a spike in flavor (maybe because I didn't have any seaweed) so we squirted a little sriracha on top and sprinkled it with a bit of cilantro and some chopped green onions. 

OK, now for the fun part, my giveaway. I've got one copy of this fun book to give away to one of my readers. I like to keep my giveaways simple so just by commenting here or on Savoury Table's Facebook page (click the button at the top right of this page), you are entered to win. I will hold my drawing on Friday, December 5th. If you are chosen as my winner, you have 48 hours to contact me or I will choose another winner so please be sure that I have a way to contact you. Good luck!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Finally Home and Cooking Again: Maple Pumpkin Bread and Butter Pudding

Well, the big move is over. While the last few loads of stuff we really didn't want but were afraid to throw away is still haunting me in corner of the garage, things are starting to come together. We can now locate everyone's underwear, and toilet paper is no longer a scarce and precious commodity since the Costco box has been located.

If you are new to this site, you might not know that we recently traded a nice new-ish house in the burbs for a smaller 50 year old house closer into the city. No longer wanting the high taxes that support the highly rated and sought after schools that we no longer need, we are now living in an older established neighborhood that is very reminiscent of ones where my husband and I grew up. The taxes are low and the trees are big. Just what we wanted.

Fifty-two years ago to be exact, a man named Pifer built our new house for his family. From that moment until just a few weeks ago, his family owned this home. Although they did rent it out for years, no house flippers touched one single light switch in the house. Most of it is exactly as it was built all those years ago. Again, just what we wanted.

Mr. Pifer chose the best of materials for his house. From the select hardwoods in the bedrooms and hallway, to the bronze tone Tappan oven in the kitchen (which still works perfectly), it was nothing but the best for this house. We are now discovering the ups and downs of plastered walls and the basement boiler and loving every minute of it.

By trade, Mr. Pifer was in the tile business. Most of the rooms in this house were carefully designed by him and applied by some of the best tile layers in the city. Our new to us house was no doubt a tile showplace back in 1962.

Unfortunately for us, Mr. Pifer didn't cover his house with octagonal marble or white subway tiles. It is decorated in spearmint and forest green in two of the bathrooms, a pinkie beige and chocolate brown in the master bath, and a bright lemon yellow and burgundy in the kitchen. The striking blue/gray, coral and white chevron pattern in the entry hall defies all description. It is a virtual porcelain rainbow around here.

To avoid a double move and do most of the renovation ourselves, we decided to just move in and redo it one room at a time. What the hell were we thinking?! Not only are we living with unattractive decor, but we are also living with grime in every nook and cranny. So, instead of painting and primping, we are scrubbing, scouring and stripping . . .  and having a blast.

If all these goings on aren't enough, I have just landed from a whirlwind trip to Vegas for a cooking contest working holiday. It was fun and I got to see scores of friends, but I have never been so happy to get back home and back to work.

Seeing that I am now back to semi normal, I guess that it is about time to get back into the swing of things, and I think I'll start off with a holiday themed blog post. Even though I'm not a huge pumpkin fan, I have gotten the distinct impression that many cooks are, so I am going to dedicate this one to you, and you know who you are.

This pumpkin recipe is a beautiful bread and butter pudding. It starts off with some stale or dried out bread spread with some of my favorite Epicurean Butter and is then doused with a pumpkin custard and baked to a golden brown. It is a great dessert when you don't want something that is overly sweet to end your meal.

Well I guess I better quit talking and leave you with this delicious pudding. There is a well built cleaner known as the Rug Doctor waiting for me in the basement and he is growing impatient. The excitement never ends around here. It is good to be back.

Maple Pumpkin Bread and Butter Pudding 

8 ounces (1/2 loaf) of stale sweet Hawaiian bread, sliced into 1/2" slices

1 - 3.5 ounce container of Maple Syrup Epicurean Butter or 6 tablespoons softened butter blended with 1 - 2 tablespoons maple syrup, depending on how sweet you like it

1 cup pumpkin puree

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 healthy pinch ground cloves

1 healthy pinch allspice

Butter the bread slices liberally on one side with the flavored butter. Stack slices one on top of the other and slice into 1" squares; set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, whipping cream, salt, ginger root, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and all spice.

Add the bread crumbs and stir gently with a wooden spoon to coat; set aside.

Spray an 8" square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the bread mixture into the dish and spread evenly. Cover and refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place pudding into the preheated oven and bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until the custard is set. Remove and cool for approximately 10 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm or chilled with a dollop of melted maple flavored butter, whipping cream or ice cream.

*I was given samples of Epicurean Butter to create fun recipes. I was given no monetary compensation in return.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Something From Nothing #29: Old Fashioned Bean Dip

When you take on a big move like the one we are in the middle of, you find out a lot about yourself and your family. So far I've discovered that we don't like to throw things away. "We" also like to buy lots of blog props, and someone has amassed a huge collection of Clinique's gift with purchase bags. Wonder who that could be?

Since I only have one more trash day before we leave, I am pitching and cleaning like a woman possessed. Come Sunday night the refrigerator and pantry will be empty and gleaming. A slow and painful death has been promised to anyone who should foul either one in the quest sustenance. I'm sorry, if you are hungry go eat your snacks in the car. By tomorrow the kitchen will be a food free zone. Until then I'm cooking everything I can put my hands on so we don't have to move it.

For lunch today we had the perfect Something From Nothing dish. Nothing fancy and simple to make, my old-fashioned bean dip is really nothing more than a can of beans pureed that you spice up however you wish. Roll some of this up in a warm tortilla or add chips and maybe just a little bit of cheese, and you have a great little football snack or a house mover's light lunch as I told my boys today.

So here you are, Something From Nothing #29 . . .  by the skin of my teeth.

Old Fashioned Bean Dip

Oh go ahead and add some bacon if you must. You know I love it, but this recipe really doesn't need it and it will be eaten by everyone. Vegans, vegetarians and carnivores alike will all love it.

1 - 29 ounce can pinto beans, partially drained (removing about 1/4 - 1/3 of the liquid will give you a nice consistency)
3 tablespoons chipotle sauce or adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers (Tabasco sauce to taste can also be used)
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon mild chili powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Serve as is at room temperature or heat and garnish with cheese, cilantro, pico de gallo, green chiles or green onions.

Makes about 2 cups.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Moving Forward: Italian Wedding Soup

Everything is pretty much done around here with the exception of the physical move. We've been through the negotiations of price and just a very few inspection objections and now we wait for the all important verdict of the appraisal gods. Barring a last minute upset, we will be in a new (to us) house this time next month.

It has pretty much been smooth sailing with all the packing. We have just rented our second storage unit which tells my husband that I have amassed far too much stuff in my lifetime. Never mind that our garage contains more tools and gadgets than a job site on This Old House. We also have enough hiking and camping gear to outfit an army of sherpas on a their way up Everest, but it is my four crates of Halloween decorations that have put us over our lifetime limit of crap, or so it has been insinuated.

I actually kind of like this storage unit thing. Usually by now we are walking through a tunnel of boxes looking for the one that contains printer paper, the blender or the dog's brush. When you take your packed boxes directly to storage there isn't a prayer of finding anything so you just do without, and that builds character, or so I've told my son. He'll be a lot more appreciative of his favorite white T when he sees it again on the other side of this move.

Eating our way through the freezer is going relatively well too. We've had some strange combinations lately and no one has given me any attitude about it. I think they know that if they ever want to see said white t-shirt, or their precious, all important and totally necessary baseball card collection again, they need to retain their sense of humor and be nice to the cook.

So, the next protein that popped up in my freezer line up just so happened to be a 1 pound package of ground turkey. I'm not really big on turkey burgers, but I love me some turkey meatballs and when I make turkey meatballs, they always end up in Wedding Soup. Not only will this soup recipe help me to clear out the freezer, but it also gives me an opportunity to use up one of the eight, count 'em EIGHT, partial boxes of pasta in my pantry, and the scraps of veggies in the crisper in a most delicious way.

This might just be the last dish on our table that makes sense for awhile, because the pickins' are getting mighty slim. Looks like a whole lot of something from nothing will be going on around here soon. You know I'll keep you posted on what I come up with.

Italian Wedding Soup

This popular Italian-American soup is named so not because it is served at weddings, but because it is the perfect marriage of meat and vegetables, and I couldn't agree more. Usually I am a fan of cream or tomato based soups, but this brothy soup has me totally won over.

For the meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 of a medium size yellow onion, grated or very finely chopped
1 slice of sandwich bread, grated into breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon cream (optional)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 - 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl place ground turkey, onion, breadcrumbs, cream (if using), Parmesan, Italian seasoning, egg, salt and pepper. Mix until ingredients are just combined. Divide mixture into slightly heaping tablespoons. Roll each portion into a ball and place in baking dish, leaving as much room as possible between them.

Place baking dish into the preheated oven and bake uncovered for 30 minutes, turning them half way through. After baking time, remove from oven and set aside until ready to use.

Makes approximately 24 meatballs.

2 tablespoons light olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
8 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1 bay leaf
1 cup Swiss chard, chopped
2/3 cup dried ditalini pasta

Pour oil into a large stockpot set over medium high heat. When oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion, celery and carrot. Stirring frequently, cook the vegetables for 2 - 3 minutes or until they start to sweat.

Add the chicken stock, fennel seed and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the cooked meatballs, Swiss chard and pasta. Replace cover and cook until pasta is al dente, approximately 12 minutes.

Serve piping hot with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese if desired.

Makes approximately 8 servings

Just a small footnote here: Even though I like my meatballs browned just a little, I also sometimes poach them in the soup liquid instead of baking them and they turn out just fine. If you'd like to try this, gently drop the uncooked meatballs into the stock at the same time you add the fennel seed and bay leaf. Gently simmer them for the remainder of the soup's cooking time and they will be cooked through and tender.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

On the Move: Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk

This is the first time I have had the time or inclination to write a blog post in over two weeks. This move has really taken its toll on my blogging time. The past 14 days have been totally devoted to maintaining an immaculate house, showing it to strangers and looking for a new place, much less cooking anything that has an aroma or setting up my camera to take photos of it.

I'm really not complaining at all. Downsizing is something I have wanted to do for a couple of years now. Where I once wanted a house big enough that we could all spread out, I now want cozy and compact . . . and two less toilets to clean.

The house we have settled on is in an older part of town and was built in 1962. It has had only one owner for all these years, and as my husband would say, it is built like a brick shithouse. I guess that is good because he smiles the smile of a lucky man when he says it.

It needs lots of cosmetic work, but that is exactly the kind of house we were looking for. Ever since we married we have dreamed of buying an old neglected house and turning it into something special and now is the time. I would like to apologize in advance if you're not interested in hearing about staining concrete and removing overgrown shrubbery because it is coming.

Before all that goes down, we have to say goodbye to the house we are living in now. It is new and bright and tight, and I know I am going to miss it. It is one lucky family who is going to get to move in here and I know it is going to be emotional when we turn the keys over to them. It is a happy house that we have filled with love and cherished memories and I wish the same for them. Now it is time for us to make memories in a new place.

For some reason when we put our house on the market two weeks ago I agreed to include my 2 year old refrigerator in the sale. Someone please kick me next time I agree to something like this. Not only does this mean I'm going to have to fit a new refrigerator into my renovation budget, but I also have to empty and clean the heck out of this one, so I am starting now.

To get going, I decided to finally thaw a chicken that has been hanging around in the freezer for a couple of months now. As it worked out, the same day I pulled it out of the freezer, Faith from The Kitchn happened to write a rave review about  Jamie Oliver's recipe for Chicken in Milk.  She said it was the best chicken she had ever eaten, so I shared it on my Facebook. Seeing this post, a couple of well trusted cooking friends said that while good, they had both had better. With these two conflicting reviews, I knew I had to try it for myself.

My own verdict surprised even me. Even though I totally trust my cooking friends, I so wanted to fall in love with Jamie's recipe. With Faith's recommendation, I felt sure that this was going to be my new go to recipe. Well, I have to give this one to my cooking friends. Although very good, I'm still in love with Roasted Chicken With Bacon and Forty Cloves of Garlic, but I invite you to make Jamie's tasty recipe and decide for yourself. With just a few easy ingredients, what the heck. You never know you might find yourself in camp Faith and fall in love with it.

Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk

1- 3 pound chicken
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Olive oil
1/2 of a small cinnamon stick (mine was about as big around as a drinking straw)
1 handful of fresh sage (my sage died weeks ago, so I just used my whole dried leaves)
Zest of 2 lemons
10 garlic cloves
2 cups whole milk

For Jamie's method, please click through to his site here.

Since I wanted to give a fair review on this recipe I followed Jamie's recipe very closely with the exception of using my dried sage instead of fresh, and since it is me, I draped the top of my chicken in bacon. I also used Faith's recommendation of covering the chicken for half of the cooking time and leaving it uncovered for half.

While moist and tender and pleasant in flavor, the chicken wasn't as flavorful as I thought it would be. The curdled milk solids and aromatics do make a sauce of sorts, but not as vibrant and enjoyable as I had hoped . . .  even with my bacon on top.

My recommendations? Well far be it from me to try to improve on Jamie's recipe, but when he says to season your chicken, season it really, REALLY well inside and out. Next time I might even cut one of my zested lemons in half and stick it in the cavity. The milk curdles anyway so why not kick up the flavor with some more lemon. And while I'm at it, I loved draping it in bacon. Everything goes better with bacon in my opinion.

Brown seasoned chicken well on both sides.

Place browned chicken snugly in a baking dish that is big enough to accommodate all the ingredients. This is the point that I draped my chicken in a couple of pieces of thin sliced bacon.

Shhh, don't tell Jamie that I draped his chicken in bacon. I learned this trick from Delia Smith years ago and in my opinion it makes any chicken or turkey better.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Applegate Half time Giveaway

I don't know if you have noticed or not, but Savoury Table has been kind of quiet lately. I usually try to post about every five days or so, but for the past few weeks I've been aging my posts a little bit longer. There's really no earth shattering reason. There's no crisis in my life or news of glamorous adventures, we are just trying to do what lots of people are doing right now, we are trying to sell our house.

For anyone who has sold or is selling their house, you know what a pain it can be especially if you have lived in it for more than 5 years. We have accumulated so much junk over the last 11 years that it has surprised even me. There is not one thing in this house that hasn't passed a serious "want or need" head chopping. I still have a lot of junk but it is the cream of the crop junk that remains. Round 2 head chopping will take place when we start to box things up. Round 3 when we arrive at our next place and start to unpack. After that we should be good for another 10 years.

Since our house is on the market I haven't been cooking at all. I kills me to say this, but due to the smell and airborne grease, we are temporarily a bacon free home. I have been taking great pains to make sure that my house smells like clean cotton with maybe a little apple cider Yankee Candle aroma around the kitchen to cover up any lingering odors. Oh the cruelty of it all! A family can exist on cold sandwiches and salads for just so long. I hope it sells quickly because I feel a mutiny brewing.

Luckily for me, Applegate came along to stock my fridge with a sampling of their new Half Time lunch kits to feed to my "boys". They have teamed up with Annie's and Stoneyfield to make a lunch you can feel good about giving to your kids . . . no matter how old they are. I love Applegate products because they are free from any artificial ingredients, preservatives, antibiotics or hormones.

Applegate supplied me with 3 kits which each contain ham, chicken or bologna, crackers, cheese, yogurt and some gummies or cookies for dessert. Along with these lunch kits, my package included a coupon, activity book, a create your own lunch bag and markers for coloring said bag. They have also offered an identical package for me to give away to one of my readers.

If you'd like to win this Applegate gift, just leave me a comment and you are entered. Since I have enabled Google+ commenting and not everyone has it, you can leave a message on Savoury Table's Facebook page and that will count too. This drawing is open to US residents only. I will give this prize away at noon mountain time on Friday, September 26th. Good luck!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Local Flavor: Non GMO Salt Restaurant and a Couple of Seasonal Cocktails

Chef Bradford Heap, chef/owner of Salt and Colterra restaurants, and Dave Asbury, farmer/owner of Full Circle Farms

A couple of days ago blogger friend Abbe, author of This Is How I Cook, and I drove over to Boulder for a cocktail reception at Salt restaurant. Abbe had been there several times for dinner, but I was really excited because this was my first time visiting this popular Colorado restaurant.

Opened in 2009 in the former location of Tom's Tavern in downtown Boulder, Salt is the second restaurant opened by chef/owner Bradford Heap. In 2006 Heap opened Colterra, which is located just a few miles down the road in Old Town Niwot. Although these restaurants are at different locations, they share one very important thing in common, Heap's passion for serving food with integrity.

Colterra boasts its own on-site vegetable gardens which enable them to use only the freshest, seasonal ingredients resulting in menus that continually evolve and change. Colterra's menu is further influenced by Chef Heap's classical culinary training in Italy and France. The dining rooms are handsome and comfortable, or you can choose to dine on the stone patio which lies under a canopy of hundred year old cottonwoods.

Like Colterra, Salt's menu is also influenced by Heap's European training, but the atmosphere here is that of a warm American Bistro. From the open kitchen with a wood-burning rotisserie and oven, to the brick clad walls of the basement bar complete with a Fleetwood Mac LP spinning on the old school hi-fi in the corner, this restaurant is as warm and comfortable as a good friend's house, but with an air of a sophisticated urban eatery.

The reason for the gathering on this particular Wednesday night was a celebration for Chef Heap's commitment to keep both of his restaurants' kitchens 100% GMO free through his partnership with the local Full Circle Farms and Oxford Gardens who both grow "clean" produce. GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are plants in which the DNA has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally, usually to enhance yields and increase disease and insect resistance.

Both restaurants have always been committed to using locally produced and humanely raised products, but now with their non GMO policy, diners are assured a completely clean dining experience. From the use of organic corn in their recipes, to using only cane sugar in their drinks and desserts, this is a way of cooking and dining that they are truly passionate about.

On this particular evening we were treated to several delicious appetizers including a homemade andouille sausage served with yellow and brown whole grain mustard (my favorite), Soul Patch melon tartar (OMG), a gorgeous seasonal bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella, achiote marinated pulled pork on blue corn tortillas (fabulous!), brie with organic raspberries and a moist and delicious carrot cake. They were all truly outstanding.

To compliment the appetizers, we were offered two of the restaurants seasonal drinks. The Dancin' Padron, which was a very herbal, peppery gin based cocktail garnished with a sprig of rosemary, and the Fuzzy Fashion cocktail which is a combination of Colorado bourbon, Palisade peaches, and a touch of sugar and bitters. Both were perfect for this beautiful Colorado evening on the patio.

If you live near or plan to visit the Boulder area and would like to visit one or both of these restaurants, you can find Salt at 1047 Pearl Street in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. Colterra is located just a few miles down the road at 210 Franklin, Niwot, Colorado. For more information about these two restaurants, please click on the links above.

Fuzzy Fashion

2.5 ounces bourbon
Once sugar cube
One slice of a ripe peach
2 dashes of Saba (a reduced grape juice syrup)
4 dashes of Angostura bitters

Muddle peach and sugar together. Add remaining ingredients. Shake. Serve over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a fresh peach slice. Enjoy.

Dancin' Padron

1 slice padron pepper
1 large slice green bell pepper
1 - 1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce orange rosemary simple syrup
4 dashes of celery bitters
1 rosemary sprig for garnish

Muddle peppers. Add remaining ingredients. Add ice. Shake. Double strain and serve "up".

Monday, September 8, 2014

Something From Nothing #28: Fresh Ricotta Cheese

Summer is starting to wind down, and depending on where you live you might have only a few more opportunities to wow your friends and family with your backyard culinary prowess. If you are like me and feel that you have pretty much pulled all of your rabbits out of your hat, then this recipe for fresh ricotta is just what you need.

Light, creamy, buttery, and oh so simple to make, this is the epitome of something from nothing. The only hitch here, and a minor one at that, is that you have to have two simple and inexpensive pieces of "special" equipment. You will need a couple of pieces of cheesecloth, which can easily be found at most supermarkets, fabric stores or hobby shops and a screen type strainer, which is also widely available at any discount, department or cooking store. The one shown here is very big, but one of those 4 cup strainers with a handle and two little upside down hooks on the opposite side will work nicely.

Once you make this simple base recipe, you can serve it plain with crackers or apple chips, top it with pesto, honey or jam, mix in herbs and spices for sweet and savory versions, or drain it longer (cover and place in the refrigerator for at least one to two hours) for a drier cheese that you can cook with. You won't believe how versatile and delicious this is to make. I truly hope you will give it a try. Fresh ricotta is the best.

Fresh Ricotta

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place milk, cream and salt in a medium size sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Let sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

While milk is sitting, line a screen type strainer with 2 layers of cheese cloth and set it over a bowl so it can drain and catch the whey.

Pour the milk mixture slowly into the prepared strainer. Allow to drain undisturbed for 20 to 30 minutes (longer for a drier cheese), emptying the whey from the drainage bowl if necessary. If you just can't bear to throw your whey down the drain, click here for some interesting suggestions.

Gently roll or scoop the cheese out into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Cheese will keep for 3 - 5 days.

Makes about 1 cup of fresh ricotta.

Served with bread crisps or crackers and topped with honey (shown above) or cherry preserves (shown here), you just can't beat this for an easy and delicious appetizer.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A New Favorite: Peanut Butter Candy Bar Cake

A few months ago my neighbor asked me if I would like to help her with a cake she wanted to make for a bridal shower. Since discovering my new passion for cake decorating (i.e. trying to decorate cakes), I have noticed that there aren't nearly enough excuses to bake cakes, so I of course said yes.

In preparation for the big event, I surfed the web and found five contenders for just the right chocolate/peanut butter cake to honor the bride and groom. After sleeping on it, my neighbor chose a Snickers cake featured on Bake Noir .

This cake turned out to be a luxurious, dark chocolate cake layered with ribbons of peanut butter mousse and a center of silky salted caramel and peanut filling encased in a rich chocolate ganache frosting. Wow, was this ever a decadent cake. Absolutely perfect for an engagement celebration.

So, the next day I just couldn't get this cake out of my head and I decided to play around with the ingredients a bit to make it more of what my idea of a Snickers bar tastes like. Mine came out really well, and I should know since I made it two more times to make sure, but I still encourage you to make them both and see what you think.

Peanut Butter Candy Bar Cake

Bake Noir's beautiful cake starts with a homemade cake that I am sure is just wonderful, but since there are several components to the cake, and we are challenged here at high altitude, we went with our favorite cake mix. If you prefer to go the homemade route, please feel free to do so and use your favorite recipe.

1 box white cake mix prepared to package directions (I used Pillsbury which called for 3 whole eggs, cooking oil and water)
3/4 cup malted milk powder

Prepare cake batter according to cake mix package directions, with the addition of the malted milk powder. Pour batter into 2 - 8" cake pans that have been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, lined with parchment paper, and sprayed again. Bake according to instructions. Remove from the oven, cool for 5 minutes before removing the parchment and turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer preferably overnight. This step isn't essential, but I believe, as do many others, that it makes for a moister cake.

Peanut Butter Icing and Filling

4 ounces (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
8 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer in a large bowl until they are completely combined. Add whipping cream and vanilla and mix on low until just combined. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, blending well after each addition. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Peanut Caramel Filling

6 ounces granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup hot whipping cream
2 ounces unsalted dry roasted peanuts
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 pinch kosher salt

Place sugar and water in a medium size sauce pan; stir well to combine. Cook over medium high heat until it starts to boil. Once it gets to this point, reduce the heat to medium to keep it at a slow boil (do not stir). Cook until it turns a golden brown.

Reduce the heat to low and add the hot whipping cream (be careful as it will foam up), stirring constantly. Add the peanuts, butter and salt. Stir until the butter melts. Transfer mixture to a cool bowl. Cover and refrigerate until it is completely cooled and thick; set aside until ready to use.

Chocolate Ganache Drizzle

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup hot whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Place chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. Pour hot cream over the top and stir. Add butter and place into the microwave. Heat at 15 second intervals, stirring after each, until all chocolate chips are melted and ganache is smooth. Cover and set aside until ready to use.

Cake Assembly

Remove cake layers from freezer and unwrap. With a serrated knife, carefully cut layers in half. Spread about 2/3 to 1 cup of peanut butter icing and filling on top of one of the cut layers (don't go too crazy here because you will need what is left to ice the cake). Replace the other half of the layer on top of the icing.

Now spread the top of the first layer with the caramel peanut filling.

Top the caramel filling with the remaining cake layer, repeating the icing step above.

Ice cake with the remaining icing. Refrigerate for approximately 1 hour or until it is firm.

Remove cooled cake and pour cooled ganache over the top. Refrigerate until ganache is set before serving.

Store uneaten cake in the refrigerator, covered.

This is a nice, big, rich cake that easily serves 12 - 16