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Friday, September 28, 2007

Skillet Beef Sroganoff

I prepared this dish on Wednesday evening and it was actually very good. This came from Cook's Country April/May 2007 issue which has gotten a lot of use from me. The sauce is very creamy and the brandy makes it rich and tasty.The leftovers are good, too. I'm not sure how I feel about cooking the noodles in the same pot, it does save on clean up, but it seemed to take longer for them to cook. The meat used in the recipe is called sirloin tips or flap meat. You pound the meat into an even 1/2-inch thickness, then cutting with the grain, slice the meat into 2 inch wide strips. Slice those strips against the grain, into 1/2-inch pieces.

Skillet Beef Stroganoff

1 1/2 lbs. sirloin tips, pounded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Salt and Pepper
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
10 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped fine
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 low-sodium beef broth
1/3 cup brandy
1/3 pound wide egg noodles
2/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp. lemon juice

Pat beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook half of beef until well browned. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with 1 tablespoon more oil and remaining beef.
Heat remaining oil in now empty skillet until shimmering. Cook mushrooms, onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt until liquid from mushrooms has evaporated, about 8 minutes. (If pan becomes to brown, pour accumulated beef juices into skillet.) Stir in flour and cook for 30 seconds. Gradually stir in broths, then brandy and return beef and juices to pan. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over low until beef is tender, about 30 to 35 minutes.
Stir noodles into beef mixture, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until noodles are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Off heat, stir in sour cream and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Creamy Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

This recipe came from my April/May issue of Cook's Country, which has become my favorite cooking magazine. It's from the Cook's Illustrated people and the recipe's just seem to be more assessable and are recipes that I want to try out. Last night I made this soup since the weather was cooling off, it was creamy, cheesy and good. I served it with some warm crusty bread and a nice salad, which makes a great dinner in our house. I used ground chipotle pepper in my recipe instead of cayenne and topped it with a sprinkle of smoked Spanish paprika for extra color and taste. I will post the recipe as printed in the magazine.

Creamy Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 pounds broccoli, stems peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces, florets chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese, plus extra for garnish
Salt and cayenne pepper

Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broccoli stems and cook until bright green and just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in broth, increase heat to medium-high and simmer until stems are tender, about 5 minutes. Add florets, cream and nutmeg and simmer until florets are tender, about 5 minutes.
Puree soup in 2 batches in blender until smooth, return to pot and bring to simmer over medium heat. Stir in cheddar until melted and season with salt and cayenne. Serve garnished with extra cheese.
Soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat over medium heat until hot, but do not boil or cheese will separate.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dos Hombres-Rivermarket

Stacy and Tracey invited us to dinner last night. They wanted to go to Tarantino's, but we had just eaten there Saturday night, so we ended up at Dos Hombres. I wish we had just gone to Tarantino's, the menu is varied enough that we could have had completely different food(and much better food and much better service). Dos Hombres is just a so-so restaurant. The service is not that great and the food is very hit and miss. This was our third and probably last trip there.
Dan and I ordered beers because they do have a good house amber. The girls had already ordered the cheese dip and when it came out, it was not very warm. Dan and Tracey shared the Dos Fajitas and from the food leftover, it did not look like they enjoyed it much. I had the Cheese and Onion Enchiladas, which were okay, but the portion seemed a little skimpy compared to other Mexican places in town. Stacy had the Fajitadilla from the appetizer section. It was a large tortilla filled with steak and grilled fajita veggies, served with sour cream and guacamole. This was one of the better dishes on the table and a bargain, because it was half price.
The company was great, but the food just does not hold up to all the choices we have out there! Next time, we will take them to Senor Tequila, where the food is much better. Dos Hombres is located in the River Market at 528 Walnut.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Panera Bread

Hooray!! Panera is now open at 311 NE Englewood Road in the Creekwood Commons shopping center. The restaurant is very spacious on the inside, with lots of natural light and a fireplace. They have a nice outside eating area as well, which is always welcome in my opinion. We already bought a loaf of bread there last night, their 3 Cheese Bread, which was very good. I'm not typically a fan of chain restaurants, but Panera always serves up good food and the service is typically good. I look forward to many meals there.

Maple Plank Salmon

Last night I used a maple plank for my salmon. It imparts a subtler wood taste than either the alder or cedar, but it was just as good. I marinated the salmon for about 20 minutes in the juice of 2 lemons, 1/2 cup white wine and a clove of garlic coarsely chopped.
Before placing it on the plank, I sprinkled it with salt and pepper, fresh dill and more chopped garlic. I love using planks for salmon and really need to try and expand my horizons and use them for other fishes and meats.
I served the fish with some cooked carrots and this amazing couscous from Green Acres Market in Briarcliff Village. It is an Israeli Couscous with Edamame and Mint that you get from their deli counter. It's nice, light and refreshing and perfect served with fish.

Chicken Pizza with Roasted Garlic

Thursday night I decided make pizza, but I wanted something a little different from the norm. I made the crust, Semolina Pizza Crust from a past posting, then came up with the topping. I started by roasting a head of garlic in the oven, slicing off the very top, drizzling it with olive oil, wrapping it in foil and baking it for an hour at 375. Once it is cool enough to handle , I squeeze the head of garlic and the pulp comes right out. I mixed it with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then rubbed that onto the prepared crust.
I then seasoned 2 skinless-boneless chicken breasts with Penzey's Pizza Seasoning and grilled them in my square grill pan until cooked through. I cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and placed it on the pizza.
I then topped that with a mixture of mozzarella and Parmesan and baked it for 12 minutes at 450 degrees.
I drizzled it with a little more olive oil and a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar that I had reduced down to a syrup before serving it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ron Gutierrez- Vocalist at Cascone's

Saturday night, I took Dan to Cascone's for his birthday. Not only did we enjoy an excellent meal, but we were treated to the incredible voice of singer, Ron Gutierrez. Ron preformed in the main dining room with a guitarist and did an awesome job. His voice is silky smooth and he has a varied repertoire. Our waitress told us he sang Pink Floyd's "Another Brick on the Wall" at his previous engagement there, I should have requested it. He was very enjoyable and if you get a chance to hear him, you should take it. He has a website, so check it out.

The dinner was great too. Dan had the Italian Flag Combo, which consisted of Chicken Parmigiana, Lasagna and Fettuccine Alfredo($15.95). I had Johnny's Combo; Lasagna and Spaghetti with Italian Sausage, Meatball and Mushrooms ($16.95). I started with the Chicken Pasta soup because I don't care for their salad any longer and the soup was very good. The entire meal was excellent, as always. They are located at 3733 N. Oak Trafficway KCMO 816-454-7977. Great food and music, you can't get much better than that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Four Cheese Mac & Cheese

Last night I decided to clean out the cheese drawer in the refrigerator and see if anything was salvageable. All was fine, so I decided to mix it up some and make mac and cheese. I did this by weight, so sorry for those of you that are used to cups and such for measurements. I am not mathly inclined, so I cannot do the exchange. Just do like I did, cut the cheese and then weigh it!
Four Cheese Mac & Cheese
3/4 lb. penne pasta, cooked and drained
1 Tbsp. butter
4 scallions, chopped
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup half and half
3 1/4 oz. Gorgonzola
3 1/4 oz. Brie
2 1/2 oz. Asiago Pressato
1 oz. Piave Vecchio + 1 Tbsp. for top
3 tsp. bread crumbs
olive oil
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375.
In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat; add scallions and saute for 4 to 5 minutes until soft. Add flour and stir for 1 minute. Slowly add cheese and half and half, stirring until cheese is melted and mixture is creamy. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Add pasta and stir well. Place pasta in ovenproof, buttered dish. Sprinkle with extra cheese and breadcrumbs, drizzle with olive oil. Bake in oven until brown and bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Stacey's Cheese Tray

Sunday afternoon, Stacey, Tracy and Cheryl came over to help Dan celebrate his "39th" birthday. I smoked some ribs and Italian sausage, made up a really good batch of guacamole(if I do say so myself!) and baked Martha's Ricotta Cheesecake . Cheryl brought really good cookies and brownies and Tracy brought some wonderful roasted red pepper hummus from Costco. The cheese tray pictured at the right was Stacey's addition. There was a creamy Brie, some Pesto Jack cheese and this incredible Cabernet brined White Cheddar. The colors of the cheeses against the pears and grapes lokked great and that white cheddar was awesome.

Stacey brought me a couple of goodies too. She brought over the September issue of Food and Wine, which is totally dedicated to Italian foods and wines. And she gave me a copy of the Junior League of Birmingham, Alabama's newest cookbook Tables of Content. It's a beautiful cookbook, with some great recipes and pictures. How sweet is she? I always love a good gift!

Ricotta Cheesecake

This recipe is from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. It's a very simple cheesecake to put together and the flavor is very nice. It tastes a lot like a lemon custard or even a lemon meringue, but either way it is good and simple. My cake turned out just like the picture in the Martha's book. Pureeing the ricotta gives it a very silky and smooth texture, the batter turns out very nice. Instead of using regular sugar for the pan, I used raw sugar to give it a little crunch and it worked nicely.

Ricotta Cheesecake

Unsalted butter, room temperature, for pan
3/4 cup sugar, plus more for pan
1 1/2 lbs. fresh whole milk ricotta cheese, pureed in food processor until smooth
6 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375. Generously butter and sugar a 9-inch springform pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the ricotta, egg yolks, flour, 6 tablespoons sugar, zest and salt until combined, set aside.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on low speed until foamy. With the mixer on high, gradually add the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar, beating until stiff and glossy, 3 to 4 minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, fold a third of the egg-white mixture into the ricotta mixture until combined. Gently fold the remaining egg white mixture until just combined. Pour into pan and bake until center is firm and the top a deep golden brown, about 1 hour.
Transfer to a wire rack and cool ten minutes. Place another wire rack on top and invert cake to rack to remove from pan. Reinvert cake and cool completely, top side up. The cheesecake is best eaten the day it is baked but can be refrigerated, covered loosely with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes prior to serving.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cafe Trio

I have held off on posting about my last dining experience at Cafe Trio because it was not that great of an experience. Dan and I have eaten there on numerous occasions and had great food and service , but this was obviously an off night.
We went with a group of friends, Tracy, Stacy, Cheryl and our friend Dan, to celebrate Tracy's birthday. It didn't hurt that Cafe Trio sent me a free meal coupon for my birthday and August 18th was the last day I could use it.
We started off with a couple of bottles of wine, one Pinot Grigio and one Merlot, which were both reasonably priced at $24 and both good.Tracy and I started with Ricky Martin martinis to celebrate our birthdays. They were nice and fruity and priced at $8.00. We ordered the Baked Brie ($10) which was a little over baked and runny and the Spinach and Artichoke Dip ($8) which was good.
For our dinners, my Dan and Cheryl ordered the Pesto Penne ($18), which was a large bowl of penne pasta with grilled chicken, artichokes, asparagus tips, cherry tomatoes, feta and pine nuts in a creamy pesto sauce. They both enjoyed their meals and had quite a bit leftover to take home.
Tracy ordered the Pistachio Encrusted Tilapia ($24), a talapia filet topped with ground pistachios and served with a raspberry chipotle chutney. She liked this dish and the bite I had was very good. Stacy had the Pan Seared Halibut ($28) a nice piece of halibut served with sauteed spinach, caramelized onions, feta grits and a roasted tomato coulis. She loved her fish and highly recommended it.
Dan had the Rack of Lamb ($27), it was roasted lamb encrusted in spices and stone ground mustard. This was very underwhelming and overcooked in the center. I had the 16 oz. KC Strip Steak Gorgonzola ($28) a strip steak topped with Gorgonzola cheese and a mushroom and artichoke sauce. I ordered mine medium rare and it came out rare. The sauce on top also overwhelmed the steak and was just an ugly dish.
As the busboy cleared away the plates, he dropped a big glob of butter down Cheryl's back. Without any apology he just started wiping it off and walked away. The waitress, Pam, also seemed to be a little flighty and not quite altogether. I will eat here again, because I have ordered things that I like and the atmosphere is nice. The place is always packed on the weekends and they have some great live music.They are located at 3535 Broadway KCMO 816-756-3227 www.cafetriokc. com. Make reservations to ensure a table, especially on the weekends.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cherry Tomato and Watermelon Salad

My friend Lisa gave was the inspiration for this salad. She commented on an earlier post about a watermelon salad that she makes and I went with what I had. I have no shortage of cherry tomatoes, they come up every year on their own in one of my flower beds and I just let them grow freely.
I cut cherry tomatoes in half, salted them and added a splash of olive oil and fig flavored balsamic vinegar, chopped fresh basil and one clove of garlic. I then added some chopped watermelon in an equal proportion to the tomatoes and topped it all with freshly grated Piave Vecchio.
This was a great salad to pair with the pasta. I really love using watermelon this way and would never have thought of it before.

Bowtie Pasta w/ Chicken, Peas & Mushrooms

Last night was one of those clean out the cupboards type of dinners. Since my son was in town for the weekend, I did not spend any time searching for recipes to prepare in the coming week and had not graced the doors of my grocery store in over a week. There are certain things I always have on hand and I thought I would put them to use here. This is actually one of my favorite pastas, I usually make it with fresh mushrooms and peas, but thought I would use up some of the chicken in the freezer.
I took 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them into bite sized pieces, seasoned them with salt and pepper and browned them in hot pepper olive oil over medium heat. Turn down the heat and add one 4 oz. can of sliced mushrooms, drained. Add 1 cup of thawed frozen peas and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. At this point I add 1/2 pound of cooked bowtie pasta and stir to mix. Add more olive oil if needed and salt to taste. Serve it with chopped fresh basil and freshly grated cheese. I used Piave Vecchio, which is my all time favorite cheese, but any dry , hard Italian cheese would work.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Stroud's Restaurant & Bar

Last night, after some serious Target shopping, we decided to head up to Stroud's and check out the wait. We lucked out, it was only 30 minutes, so we put our name in and sat outside and waited. For those of you who have never been, Stroud's serves up some of the best pan-fried chicken you could ever eat (out side of my Mom's that is). You have choices on what types of dinners you want, from the regular dinner to all white, or all breast. They serve incredible pork chops, chicken fried chicken, hamburger steak and my favorite, the Chicken Fried Chicken. It's a boneless, skinless breaded breast that is pounded and fried. I get mine with the gravy on the side, so that the leftovers can be heated without gravy on top. Dan usually orders the regular dinner that comes with 1 wing, 1 leg, 1 thigh and 1 breast. There are also fish and steak choices that I hear are really good.
Speaking of gravy they serve up a nice thick, peppery chicken gravy that is great on their homemade mashed potatoes or thinly sliced cottage fries, my favorite. They also serve up green beans just like mom made, overcooked with bacon and onions and ever so tasty. The sides come family style and they bring more if you run out.You also get a basket of warm and delicious cinnamon rolls. You can start with a salad or a nice bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup, always a winner in the colder months. They are located north of the river at 5410 NE Oakridge Rd. Kansas City MO 64119 816-454-9600. Just leave your calorie counters at home and enjoy some of the best home style cooking in the area.

Cornmeal, Jalapeno and Fresh Corn Scones

I saw this recipe in my September '07 Cooking Light and thought they looked beautiful. They do turn out nice and the dough was very pliant, but the flavor was pretty much nonexistent. I turned them into pork sandwichs for my son the next day and he said it was pretty much the worst corn bread he had ever eaten. The sandwich was good though, with Dijon mustard and apple jelly to add a little flavor to the bland bread. The bread took more like 32 minutes to bake, so just watch it if you decide to make this one.
Cornmeal, Jalapeno and Fresh Corn Scones
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 1/2 Tbsp. chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (about 1 ear)
2 Tbsp. finely chopped seeded jalapeno pepper
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in corn and pepper. Add buttermilk, stirring just until moist (dough will be slightly sticky).
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 2 or 3 times with lightly floured hands. Pat dough into a 9-inch circle on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cut dough into 12 wedges, cutting to, but not through, dough. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.

Pan Roasted Pork Loin with Leeks

This is an excellent and simple pork dish from the September 2007 Cooking Light. It was their best pork recipe in their 20th Anniversary edition and I can see why. In their recipe they do not season the meat before browning it, so I sprinkled mine on all sides with salt, pepper and garlic powder. I used a pork sirloin roast for my recipe. This is the recipe for Lombo di Maiale Coi Porri which for some reason gets edited out when I try to post it as the actual name, some Italian discrimination or something!!?
Pan Roasted Pok with Leeks
4 large leeks (about 2 1/4 lbs.)
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. butter, divided
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided
1 (2-lb.) boneless pork loin, trimmed
1/2 cup dry white wine
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Remove roots and tough upper leaves from leeks. Cut each leek in half lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices. Soak in cold water to loosen dirt.
Combine leeks, 1/2 cup water, 1 teaspoon butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or until leeks wilt. Pour the leek mixture into a bowl.
Heat remaining 2 teaspoons butter in pan over medium high heat. Add pork to pan. Cook 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add remaining salt and pepper and white wine to pan; cook 15 seconds, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Return leek mixture to pan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours or until pork is tender. Remove pork; increase heat to reduce leek sauce if too watery. Cut pork into 1/4 inch thick slices. Serve with leek mixture. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Sale Con Tartufo Bianco

Yesterday, my box of goodies from O & Co. arrived in the mail! While we were in Seattle we came upon an O & Co. in the Pacific Palace mall downtown and of course we had to go in. We first shopped in their stores in Paris and were excited to find some here in the states. We have had excellent customer service in every store we have gone into and the one in Seattle was no exception. The guy working at the Seattle location kept bringing things for us to taste and we kept adding things to our order. He pointed out this wonderful white truffle salt and the fragrance was so incredible, it was like Tuscany in a jar. I used it last night on my tomatoes and on some roasted asparagus and it was wonderful. It's a combination of grey salt from the Atlantic and nice sized pieces of freeze dried white truffle. The taste is just as incredible as the smell and you get that great truffle flavor without the high cost. The product is TartufLanghe's Sale Con Tartufo Bianco.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Young Frankenstein The Musical

The reason that Dan and I went to Seattle was to see the new Mel Brooks musical Young Frankenstein. It really was worth the trip and turned us on to a whole new city that we fell in love with. Here are a few of my impressions of the show.

It played at the Paramount in Seattle, which is a lovely old theater that seemed to be a part of the set. The sets themselves were great and the show had some nice special effects. There is a great musical number, "Roll in The Hay" with Roger Bart, Sutton Foster and Igor that was pretty unique. There are also 2 great show stoppers, "Transylvania Mania" and "Puttin' on the Ritz", both of which are big song and dance numbers. Andrea Martin made me giggle with her song "He Vas My Boyfriend" and Megan Mullally gives new meaning to "Deep Love".

The show itself was way too long, coming in at just under 3 hours. They will have to do some cutting, which will be hard, because the show truly follows the movie. Mel Brooks not only wrote the book, he also wrote the lyrics and the music. Since he is the producer it will be hard for him to cut his baby. There are a 3 or 4 songs that could be shortened, if not cut altogether.

The cast was very good, I especially enjoyed Andrea Martin's Frau Blucher and Megan Mullally's Elizabeth. Megan's voice was incredible and she was very funny. Roger Bart is good as Dr. Frankenstein, it will be interesting to see if his voice holds up after all the screaming he does. Christopher Fitzgerald is very funny as Igor and gets some of the best lines. Shuler Hensley Monster is good, it's too bad they don't use his beautiful singing voice more. Sutton Foster is one of my favorite Broadway stars and she is underused and misused in this show, she pulls her part off, but really does not have much to work with.

I want to see the show after it opens in New York, just to see if they cut it and how. It starts previews there on October 11 at the Hilton Theatre. If you like the movie, you won't be disappointed with the musical. The Seattle crowd loved the show and seemed very enthusiastic, it will be interesting to see how it plays in New York.

Of coarse Dan and I were a couple of Stagedoor Johnnies and hung around the back door lurking for autographs. We got autographs from Megan, Andrea and Roger and they were all very pleasant and willing to give some face time to their fans after a long night on the stage.

Risotto w/ Fresh Mozzarella,Grape Tomatoes & Basil

This is one of those recipes that sound really good, but the end result is just okay. I was excited when I saw this recipe in my September 2007 copy of Cooking Light, it seemed to have so much going for it. I added garlic to my recipe thinking it would need that, but in the end it was still lacking in flavor. The balsamic syrup that you drizzle over in the end was wonderful and could have made this dish much better if there was more of it. It was also my first experience with leeks and in my opinion there was way to much of that in the recipe. In the end, I think it needed an addition of Parmesan to give it that added creaminess you expect from risotto. I will try this one again next summer, it could be a really good dish.
As I am typing the recipe, I find that part of my problem is the fact that I don't always pay attention to instructions. The recipe calls for an addition of half and half that I totally forgot to add. There went my creaminess! I will definitely try this one again.

Risotto w/Fresh Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes & Basil

3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 1/2 cups fat-free, less- sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 cups chopped leek
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup half & half
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/4 fresh basil, chopped
5 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, finely diced

Place vinegar in a small, heavy saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until slightly syrupy and reduced to 1 tablespoon, about 4 minutes. Set aside.
Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Keep warm.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek and saute 3 minutes. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add wine and cook 1 minute or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup of broth; cook five minutes and stir often. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup a time, until liquid is absorbed, stirring often. Stir in half and half, salt and pepper and cook 2 more minutes. Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes, basil and cheese. Place about 1 cup risotto into six shallow bowls; drizzle each with 1/2 tsp. balsamic syrup and 1/2 tsp. oil.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Red Wine, Pork and Tomato Sauce

This is a nice sauce recipe I adapted from Pappardelle's Pasta. I bought some really nice flavored pastas at Pike Place Market in Seattle from Pappardelle's and they had recipe for each pasta. This sauce was for the Rosemary Garlic Linguine, but it also works well with regular pasta. I had it the next day with regular pasta and actually enjoyed the sauce more. Since you have to take the meat off the rib bones after they have cooked, it does get a little messy. You can find thenm on the web at

Red Wine, Pork and Tomato Sauce

1 lb. linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 lbs. pork spareribs, cut apart and trim fat
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Season ribs with salt and pepper and brown on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. Remove ribs to a plate. Add garlic and rosemary and saute for 30 seconds. Add wine and simmer. Scrape bottom of pan to loosen browned bits. Simmer until reduced to glaze, about 2 minutes.
Add tomatoes, crushed red pepper and brown sugar and mix well. Add ribs and accumulated juices. Bring to a boil and reduce to low, cover and simmer gently. Turn ribs several times until meat is very tender and falling off the bones, about 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Transfer ribs to clean plate. When cool, remove meat from bones and shred with fingers. Return meat to sauce and simmer until heated through. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Toss with drained pasta and serve.

Watermelon Salad

When we were in Seattle, we ate at this incredible little pizza place Serious Pie - Seattle, WA where I had this great watermelon salad as a starter. I attempted to recreate it at home using those ingredients available to me. I bought a seedless watermelon that was a little lacking in flavor, but juicier than any I had ever had before. I used a shallot, because I knew I would never find a purplette onion, and it worked well. I was able to get the ricotta salata at Better Cheddar. Instead of using cayenne pepper on the watermelon, I used Penzey's Northwoods Fire Seasoning, a blend of chipotle pepper, Hungarian paprika, garlic, rosemary, thyme, pepper and cayenne. The watermelon needs to be cold for this recipe, so make sure you slice it in 1/2' slices ahead of time. To assemble just put slices on a plate; sprinkle with seasoning and thinly sliced shallots and thinly sliced cheese. It's a nice change from a green salad in the heat of the summer.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Alder Plank Salmon

This weekend, I decided to try out something other than a cedar plank for salmon. We had bought an assortment of planks from Restoration Hardware and one of them was alder wood. When we were in Seattle, it seemed that this was the wood used in a lot of the restaurants , so that was the plank I used this time. It really did impart a different taste to the fish, which I actually preferred, it was not as strong as cedar.
Like the cedar, you let the plank soak in water prior to grilling and I place it on the grill without the fish to let it heat up first. I marinated the salmon with the juice of 1 lemon, 1 orange and a 1/2 cup of white wine along with the zest of the lemon and orange. Before placing it on the plank, I salt and pepper the salmon. When the salmon was finished I topped it with chopped flat leaf parsley and chopped chives.