Saturday, January 29, 2011

Beef Stew

This is a nice and easy stew recipe. I switched lamb to beef and it was great. Really just what we needed after many days of snow. I cut this recipe in half and we still got 6 servings out of it.

Garlic Stuffed Artichokes

This has a serious amount of garlic in it. If you aren't a garlic lover, move along.

1 head of garlic PER artichoke
1/2 bunch of curly parsley per artichoke
olive oil
salt and pepper

First, prep the garlic and parsley. Finely chop each head of garlic in a food processor. Then, process however much parsley you need.

Next, trim the artichokes. Cut the stem off flat so the artichoke will stand up on its own and removing any of the really tiny leaves. Cut the top of the artichoke off to open up the artichoke so you can stuff it. Trim the spiky part of the remaining big leaves. Rinse. If you are making a lot of them, you can soak them in lemon water so they don't turn brown.

To stuff each artichoke, first loosen up the leaves starting at the outside working in towards the middle. Starting from the outside, stuff each individual leaf with garlic, until you've gotten far enough into the middle section that the leaves start to get too small to stuff. After the garlic, stuff each leaf again with parsley.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I never add enough salt the first time.

Place the artichokes in a pot, you can use more than one if you don't have a really big pot. Fill with just a small amount of water so that there is enough to steam the artichokes.

IF YOU MESS UP, IT WILL BE THIS: you have to constantly monitor the water level as you simmer the artichokes. If you let it all evaporate, the artichokes will burn. I've done this, you can still eat the leaves but the heart gets a burned, bitter flavor. And the heart is the best part of these.

Depending on the size of the artichoke, it may take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours for them to be done. When the artichokes are done, the leaves will pull out very easily from the bunch. Sample a big leaf on each artichoke so that you know the meaty part is done. Keep cooking at 10 minute intervals until they are done. Add more salt and pepper as you taste them if necessary.

Awesome second dish: you can keep the broth from the simmering process to make amazing risotto.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Zealand 1.0 Brisbane, Auckland, Mount Manguanui Beach

New Zealand was amazing. We want to go back. You should go. Its beautiful, laid-back, and full of good food and wine. It is also worth noting that its a very affordable place to visit and the dollar is even worth something.

Getting to New Zealand.

No getting around the fact that this is far way. It was about 14 hours to Brisbane and then a nine hour layover and then another 3 hour flight to Auckland. If you go I suggest bringing the sportsguy's basketball book. Its really good and really long. Perfect.


We had a bit of time here, so we decided to venture out into the city and are glad we did. Taking the train from the airport to the city was very reasonable and easy. We hadn't done a lot of planning for this and opted for just heading to the city center and checking out the main shopping district. As will become obvious about us and this trip, we vacation with our stomach.

A few of the highlights include

Our first clue that bacon was really important down under

Not the only instance of chicken being used as a condiment that we saw

The best thing about Brisbane was this thing called a bay bug. Imagine if lobsters were only the tails.


After some much needed sleep, we got up and wandered around until we found a cafe for breakfast.

As you can see I won again

After breakfast we headed to the zoo to prove that we were here to do more than eat

This is a tuatara. It only lives in New Zealand and there are only two species like it. Its only other relatives were dinosaurs and they died over 200 million years ago.

After the zoo we headed for an early dinner around the harbor area. We settled on Kermadec Seafood Brasserie. The place was beautiful with a nice view of the water. Some of the best oysters I've ever had.

Our main course was also awesome. Oven Roasted Hapuku. With fennel, clams, mussels and prawns, fresh lemon thyme and pan juices.

Mount Manguanui Beach

This is a really beautiful place surrounded by the ocean. Unfortunately it was raining for our time here. Luckily the main street kept us busy with a nice assortment of shops, restaurants, and bars. Most importantly this was our first introduction to the New Zealand Platter at Latitude 37. Every bar has its own version but basically think cheese plate on steroids. Plenty of meat, smoked salmon, mussels, and on and on. The perfect compliment to a few glasses of wine or beer. It was at this point that I knew I was falling in love with this place.

As you can see it was no match for us.

Every place we walked into seemed to take real pride in making great food. This coffee shop was no exception.

A bacon and feta muffin. How did I not think of that?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

al pastor torta

This will be the first of many sneaky posts about leftovers. One of the keys to making cooking a way of life is to A) make enough for leftovers. you can't cook every single meal or you'll get frustrated and quit. B) turn leftovers into something new. I know I sound like Martha Stewart. Shut up.

Ok this dinner included al pastor torta, ceviche, and jalapeno chips. We already posted about ceviche. Don't ever make ceviche without enough for leftovers. Seriously. Also we only go so often without jalapeno chips. Now the torta. First time with this and it was amazing. It was amazing because the al pastor was amazing and putting it between two slices of bread just works. But it really works. I'll also say you could put a lot of other stuff on this and it would be great but we kept it simple for the first attempt.


al pastor
Cheese (we used spicy jack)
shredded lettuce


Getting the bread right matters. I toasted it before putting it in the oven. Crunchy goodness is key. Heat the oven to 400ish and put it in with the al pastor on one side and cheese on the other. Let the cheese melt and throw some lettuce on it. Done.

al pastor- try #1

If you can't wait to see the taco, just scroll to the bottom now.

I really like tacos al pastor and we had a spare pork shoulder in the freezer (i love our fridge), so why the hell not. It also gave us an excuse to go find the Mexican grocery store because our local Kroger obvi doesn't have dried pasilla or guajillo chiles.

Cooking time: 30 minutes prep plus 5:30 total cooking time

4 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1 in. pieces
5 dried pasilla chiles
5 dried guajillo chiles
1 cup white vinegar
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs adobo seasoning
1 tsp ground annato seeds
half a pineapple, chopped into 1/2 in. pieces
salt and pepper

The recipe I was loosely using said to boil the peppers for 30 mins to soften them. It took like 7 minutes. Also it wasn't hard to de-seed them. In a blender or food processor, you add the chiles, vinegar, garlic, cumin, adobo, ground annato, salt and pepper and blend it until smooth.

Then slice the pork into small strips. I'm not sure how exact this has to be... we ended up slicing the pieces even more before we reduced it all on the stove at the end.

Pour the chile mixture over the pork in a slow cooker.

Add the pineapple. Cook on high for 5 hours... or longer on low.

Remove from slow cooker and reduce the liquid on the stove.

Add toppings :) I'm gunna get called out for the cheese, I know.

Aaaand... a very yummy taco. Not bad for the first try.


Monday, January 17, 2011


There is no dispute in our house that can't be resolved by a good batch of ceviche. We love it with carnitas or any Latin dish really. Really we just love it. We've eaten it for breakfast. There is some chopping involved but its no fail. Add it to the list of affordable and easy treats.

Ingredients (Serves 2-4)

1/2 pound white fish (we usually use halibut but are trying flounder today) cut into bite size pieces.
6 shrimp boiled for 1 minute (to eliminate bacteria risk) and then chopped
4 limes (or two limes and 2 oranges) Enough to mostly cover the ceviche
1/2 tomato seeded and chopped
1/2 Green pepper diced
1 jalapeno diced
1/2 cup of red onion diced
1/2 mango diced
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
1 tbsp white vinegar
dash or more of hot sauce (not tabasco because tabasco sucks. We use tapatio)


Throw it all in a bowl and stir it up. Cover it and put it in the fridge. Should be ready in three hours. Stir it every hour or so. Better overnight.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


This is a big post. I've been perfecting this carnitas recipe for months.

Cost: under $20
Time: 30 minutes, cooks for 8 hours
Makes 4-5 meals

4-5 lb. pork shoulder
4 cups chicken broth
2 Tbs. garlic powder
2 Tbs. onion powder
2 Tbs. cumin
2 Tbs. cayenne or chili powder
1 Tbs. coriander
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 bay leaves
black pepper
lime juice

For the tacos:
pickled red onions
green sauce

Place the pork in a slow cooker and add all of the spices. Then add 4 cups of chicken broth. Cook for 8 hours on high. Once you can shred the pork, transfer the pork and juices to a large pan. Bring the liquid to a boil on the stove, then turn down the heat and let reduce until the broth is more like a thick sauce.

I need to take better pictures:

Spicy Pickled Brussels Sprouts

These are my favorite pickles. I bought a jar of them once and loved them so much I soon after ordered a case. Once Andrea taught me how to make pickles, this was a no brainer. We usually just eat them out of the fridge all day, but they also make a nice addition to a cheese plate.
It should also be noted that these are cheap and easy to make. Fancy pickles in the grocery run you 8 bucks. Depending on the price of brussels sprouts, this easily costs you half that.


1 pound brussels sprouts (for this, smaller is better)
1 jalapeno (sliced)
3 heads garlic (sliced)
8-12 black peppercorns
pinch chili powder
few springs dill (torn up)
few squirts hot sauce (or more)
few shakes red chili pepper flakes (or more)
1.5 cups white vinegar
1.5 cups water
1.5 tablespoons salt


Trim and then boil brussels sprouts for 7 minutes. Most pickles don't need to cook, but brussels sprouts need it.

In a separate pot, add rest of ingredients and bring to boil. Drain brussels sprouts and put in container. Pour over pickling liquid and let cool. Refrigerate. Ready to eat after a few hours but better overnight. They keep for several weeks.

Pickle-Brined Chicken

THIS IS SO GOOD. As we've already established, pickles are amazing. So why not pickle chicken?

Pickle-Brined Chicken

Cost:about $20
Cooking time: overnight to brine, then a good bit longer

This is one of the more involved recipes we've put up yet. That and I am really slow at prepping stuff. You start by brining the chicken breasts overnight in pickle brine. Then you bake the chicken leg meat that gets shredded into the swiss chard for the base of the dish. Bake the chicken breasts, saute the swiss chard and add the leg meat, and you're good to go... in about 2 hours.

Mussels and Frites

This is one of our favorite meals. It also happens to be cheap and easy to make.



3 pounds mussels
A few tablespoons of oil or butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots
Several cloves of garlic
1 Cup white wine
1 shot Ouzo or Pernod
A few tablespoons of chopped parsley
1 chopped tomato (optional)


To clean the mussels, scrub them with a brush under water and then remove the "beard" by just ripping them off with your fingers.

Heat the butter/oil in a pot over medium high heat. Cook the shallots for 5 minutes and then the garlic for 3 or until the shallots are translucent. Add the tomato, wine, ouzo and some salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, stir well, then cover the pot, and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until all the mussels are opened (discard any that do not open). Pour the mussels and the sauce into a large bowl and serve hot. I like to toast up some thin slices of bread to serve with it.


2-3 whole potatoes
Oil for frying (peanut is best, veggie is acceptable)
bowl of water for soaking
Salt and pepper to taste

Easy. For two people, pick 2-3 of your favorite potato (both Russet and Yukon Gold work well). Slice into fry-shaped pieces... I like them shoe-string skinny, but you can make them as fat as you like. Put raw fries into a bowl of water to soak for at least 30 minutes, up to several hours (or even overnight if you are the plan ahead type). This gets the extra starch out of them, and for what I'm sure is a very scientific reason, they just turn out better this way. Dry fries before you throw them into the oil.

Heat oil on medium high, or if you are using a deep fryer like us, around 340 degrees. You are going to fry the potatoes twice, working in batches. On the first go 'round, pull the fries out of the fryer just as they start to turn brown, between 5 and 10 minutes depending on the size of your fry. Let drain on a paper towel as you fry the rest of the batch. Turn up the heat slightly (around 355-365 degrees), and fry a second time, this time letting them brown as much as you like. I like them pretty brown, but its up to you! Again, put done fries on paper towel to drain as you finish the rest. Then salt and pepper to taste. I can't wait to get enough duck fat to, well... you know.


Chipotle Ketchup

All you need here is ketchup and some chipotle (can packed in adobo sauce). In a food processor add chipotle to ketchup a little at a time until its as spicy as you want it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sweet pickled carrots

We love pickles. We like to keep between 2 and 4 kinds of pickles around. I was deterred because of the canning issue for many years. We don't can, we do "quick" or "refrigerator" pickles. They take 10-15 minutes to make and are ready in a few hours and keep for weeks. If you love pickles and aren't making them at home you should consider trying it. We're addicted to it around here.

Important to remember for pickles is the 1-1-1 rule. 1 cup water-1 cup vinegar-1 tbsp salt (for sour) or sugar (for sweet).


Add 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, cinnamon stick, couple cloves, half dozen black peppercorns and bring to boil.

Chop 4-5 carrots anyway you want

Pour pickling mixture over carrots. Let cool and refrigerate. Ready to eat in a few hours but get better overnight.