Friday, December 28, 2007

2007 Year in Review

Another year gone, a new one to dawn. We had an interesting 2007... some ups and downs, a great summer, more camping and fishing, visits with family, a new nephew, and lots of cooking. There is no doubt that 2008 will be a much more interesting year on many fronts - including in the kitchen.

We did a Year in Review last year with each of our Top 5 blog posts, so we thought we'd do it again!

Stacey's Top Five!

5. Butternut Spinach Gratin
We love butternut squash - and this was a delicious, inventive use for it!

4. Pickled Pink Eggs
These were awesome - if you like pickled beets, you'd love this.

3. Beer Can Chicken
Our juiciest, most smokey, most tender, most flavorful chicken yet!

2. Enchiladas with Cuke Salsa
Delicious with mole sauce and the fresh veggies - great leftovers...
And, with video!

1. Blended Soups!
Green Soup, Carrot Soup, Butternut Squash Soup, Black Bean Soup - we love delicious fall soups made with our new handblender! Can't wait to try more...

Mike's Top Five

5. Fiddleheads and Fishing
My top five are of posts that remind me of things I enjoy in life - this post reminds me of fishing!

4. Corned Beef and Cabbage
St. Patrick's Day in Boston is one of our favorites... this corned beef was delicious.

3. Boston's South End Restaurants
I enjoyed putting this post together - it reminds me of our old apartment in the South End. Now I'm craving some B&G Oysters!

2. Mojitos and Fish Tacos
The quintessential summer time meal, reminds me of long days in the sun on the back deck, relaxing after playing a game of tennis.

1. Cucumber Salad
This recipe and this post reminds me of my youth and my family... plus the cuke salad is delicious!

We are thankful for another year and looking forward to more posts in 2008. Have a Great New Year and happy eating! See you then...

Boston Chef

Sunday, December 09, 2007

WCB - Blogging our Cat on the Weekend

It's still the weekend, so we're joining in the Weekend Cat Blogging at one of our favorite food blogs - Sher's What Did You Eat!

From our earlier post, you can see that this is his favorite spot:

And here is Osiris and his new toy, a q-tip that he found on the floor wayyyy on the other side of the house. He brought it over to that favorite spot in the kitchen.

Bonus picture:

Friday, December 07, 2007

Green Soup

How do I love my hand blender? Let me count the ways…

I think I’m on a journey and that journey involves creating blended soups in all the colors of the rainbow. The color of the day is GREEN. And seeing that it is the holiday season, perhaps the next one I shall create will be RED! This soup is heavy on the spinach and zucchini, hence the green color. It’s full of veggies and vitamins and good stuffs, so if you can’t get your hubbie or kids to eat their veggies, this might be the way to go.

Sautee 1 diced onion and 3 sliced carrots in 2 tbs butter on lowish heat just so they sweat and don’t burn. Soon add 2 ribs of diced celery, and let that get happy for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, defrost your frozen spinach and zucchini. Now, if this were the summertime, I would have used fresh zucchini, but they didn’t look too good at the store, so I opted for frozen. You’ll need roughly 1 16oz bag of zucchini, and perhaps the same amount of spinach ( I honestly just eyeballed it).

After about 10 minutes of sweating, I added 4 peeled and cubed Yukon Gold potatoes to the pot. After that simmered for 5 minutes, I added the green veggies, and then topped that off with stock just to the top of the veggies. For seasoning: a big handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped up. Then about 1 tbs dried basil, 1 tsp dried thyme and 1 tsp Penzey’s Shallot Salt, along with S&P to taste.

I let that simmer (low boil) for 30 minutes and then I blended it all up! You know the drill by now, if it’s too thick, add more stock! Wow, even M was impressed at how delicious this soup was. One night we had it with grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches, and the next with grilled up some Cajun seasoned chicken breasts. The potatoes added some thickening starch to the soup that would even satisfy a meat and potatoes guy!

Coming soon, red soup…

And here's my little helper:

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pumpkin White Chocolate Cookies

Happy Thanksgiving! We just got back from spending a wonderful holiday weekend in upstate New York with family. I thought I'd share a cookie recipe that I've now made 3 times in the last month since they've been such a hit! If you don't like chocolate chips, you could fold in nuts, raisins, or nothing at all! But I think that hidden surprises in cookies are delightfully fun.

Sift the following (this recipe makes about 30 cookies):
1 2/3 c. flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. In a separate bowl, cream 1/3 cup softened unsalted butter with 1 cup of sugar. Then add in 2/3 cup canned pumpkin, 2/3 of an egg (silly, I know!) and 3/4 tsp vanilla extract. After that is incorporated, add to the dry ingredients. After all the flour is mixed in, fold in some white chocolate chips (about 1 cup).

Plop down the dough in about golfball size rounds onto a greased cookie sheet and then flatten down a bit since they will fluff up during baking as these cookies do take on a cake-like consistency (but not as bad as some other recipes I've tried). Bake in the upper third of your oven for 14-18 minutes depending on your oven and then transfer to a cooling rack with paper towels underneath the rack.

While cookies are cooling prepare a light icing that consists of lots of powdered sugar with a bit of ground ginger and cinnamon with a little bit of milk. I've never really measured, but you don't want it too thin or it won't adhere to the cookies! Drizzle on, let harden about 10 minutes, and you're good to go. For a more decadent icing, you can add melted butter.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

I have to make this dish at least once a year, not only because it's yummy, but the presentation is really cool. Acorn squash are very easy to find even in your local market. They are a "winter squash" that has an orange flesh, and is aptly named since they do resemble acorns. You can simply cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, sprinkle with brown sugar and some butter and then bake them!

I had made marinara sauce a day before since I had the time to simmer it for a long time -- I froze half and set aside the rest in the fridge for the squash the next night. The first thing to do is pre-heat your oven to 375. Wash the squash (2 of them), and then cut it in half lengthwise (not around the equator) and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish flesh side up. Put a little bit of water in the dish and cover with foil. Bake for 40-55 minutes or until the squash is just fork tender (not mushy!)

While the squash was baking, I sauteed up some spicy turkey sausage (a little over a pound), and then added my sauce to the pan to reheat. While that was simmering away, I cooked up some whole wheat rigatoni just al dente. When the squash were done, I removed them from the dish, dumped out the water and then returned them to the dish. In went some rigatoni (extra pasta went around the squash). Then came the sausage/sauce mixture, and to top it all off, some mozzarella cheese. Back into the oven at 400 for 20 minutes or until the cheese is starting to brown on top.

The spicy sausage pairs well with the sweetness of the acorn squash -- another fall delight! Oh, and this would serve 4 if served with a side salad!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Curried Carrot & Parsnip Soup

Yup, another soup post. Why? Because soup is good. It can be the starter of a multicourse meal or the star of the show with a crusty loaf. Truth be told -- my new hand blender is just so damn cool.

So we've done a butternut and a black bean, and I'm sure a potato, pea, green veggie, tomato and corn will soon be following. However, tonight I turn my attention to the carrot and the parsnip. The funny thing is that I don't think I've ever eaten a parsnip -- maybe out at a restaurant, but I've certainly never purchased one at the market. According to wikipedia, parsnips have higher nutritional value than carrots, and apparently wild parsnips are often confused with hemlock. So unless you're an expert forager, I'd either grow them myself or stick to the store.

I usually put carrots in all of my soups, but never has it been the star! I started out by sweating 1 small diced onion in a couple tbs butter. During this time, I diced 5 large carrots and 2 large parsnips. When all were cut up, I tossed them in with my onion in the soup pot. I then diced up 2 celery ribs and threw them in as well with a drizzle of olive oil. After about 10 more minutes, I tossed in about 5 cups of stock (just over the top of the veggies) and let them come up to a boil with some salt and pepper, 1/2 tsp ginger, 2 tbs curry powder and 1/2 tsp HOT curry powder. I also threw in about 8-10oz diced canned tomatoes and let everything simmer for about 25 minutes.

Then you know what happens -- out comes the blender. After pureeing, check the consistency and taste and adjust with more spices and more stock if necessary. Garnish with either some plain yogurt or some low-fat sour cream and you have yourself a satisfying soup. We paired ours with a field green salad with roasted chicken, but the soup certainly could have stood on its own!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

On the evening that we first got our new handheld blender (my birthday) we didn’t have any fresh butternut squash in the house - but, really by chance, I had some frozen squash with which we whipped up some squash soup. That soup came out great, but I wanted to try the real thing - including roasting the squash first to bring out its earthy sweetness. M and I went pumpkin and mum hunting this past weekend, and we happened upon a little nursery that was selling all those items, plus some lovely butternut squash. We quickly scooped them up and brought them home with the hope of turning them into a fall soup.

As you know by now, we really make things to taste, so I can only give you approximate measurements, but as long as you don’t go overboard on anything, you could tailor this recipe to your liking!

I started out by peeling 1 large butternut squash, taking the seeds out of the belly and cutting it all up into 3/4-inch cubes. Onto a baking sheet with a bit of olive oil and into a 420 degree oven for 15 minutes, then give them a toss and throw in for another 10 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, fine dice 1 onion, and put that into your soup pot on medium heat with 1.5 tbs butter. While the onions are sweating, fine dice either 2-3 normal size carrots or about 12-15 baby carrots. Throw those in when you finish cutting. Now on to 2 ribs of celery really fine dice as these take awhile to cook, and throw them in the pot too! These veggies may take 15-20 minutes to really sweat down without burning. When they are all adequately tender, throw in your fork tender squash, 1/2-cup of cranberry apple cider (the tartness of the cider balances the sweetness of the squash and carrots – you could also just use apple juice or throw in a diced apple when you are cooking down the veggies) and pour in enough chicken stock to just cover the veggies (you can always add more stock later to thin it out)...

Let that come to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer for at least 15 minutes along with 1/4-tsp ground ginger, 1/4-tsp nutmeg, 1-tsp ground sage, 1 more tbs butter and some salt and pepper to taste.

After that has had time to get all happy, it’s time to turn to your trusty hand blender. Word of warning, once blending has begun, do not lift the blender above the surface of the soup unless you want an orange splattered kitchen! Turn it off first! And here we go...

The soup turned out a bit too thick after the initial puree, so we just added more stock and tasted to adjust the seasonings as it did need some more S & P. This soup is so filling, and it made enough for 8 bowlfuls! Roasting the butternut squash really is divine, but take my word for it, frozen would work too and no one would know!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Spicy Black Bean Soup

The latest addition to our kitchen is a mighty powerful Cuisinart handheld blender. I think it may change my life! It could make me crazy – I can imagine myself trying to puree everything from steak to eggplant parm... but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I have yet to exhaust all the normal recipes that are floating in my head, in cookbooks, and on the internet.

I knew I had always had black beans in my pantry for a reason – healthy, full of protein and a long shelf-life! Plus this soup kicked butt.

This is a what-do-I-have-in-my-crisper-drawer kind of soup, and you really can’t go wrong. I had half a red onion, half a green bell pepper, 10 baby carrots and 2 ribs of celery, all of which I diced pretty small so they would cook quickly. Into my soup pot went 1 tbs butter, and then the onion, followed by all the other veggies and 3 cloves minced garlic. I would add the onions, chop the next veggie, put that in and repeat. After about 15 minutes of sautéing, I added 2 16 oz cans of rinsed black beans and just enough stock to come up to the top of the beans... less is better because you can always add more after pureeing.

After letting that come up to a boil, I turned down the heat and let the soup simmer for 15 minutes with 1 tbs cumin, 1/8 tsp ground chipotle, 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano and S&P to taste. Then the fun began!! This blender is like a mighty boat motor - it demolished the soup in five seconds flat! I chose to blend the entire pot, but if you like yours chunky, you can always remove maybe a cup of veggies, puree the rest and then add the intact veggies back to the pot.

Finished the soup off with a dollop of sour cream, but you could also do crushed tortillas, cilantro, or cheese!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Beer Can Chicken

We wish we could share the sweet, smokey smell...

This beer can chicken is, in my opinion, the best chicken we've ever made. It is our crispy, buttery, smokey, succulent, sizzling chicken masterpiece and it literally stands on it's own. The perfect chicken.

We had tried Beer Can Chicken once before but we rushed it and hadn't done enough research. It came out kinda dry and none-too-flavorful. It was ok, certainly not great.

This time, we did it right and followed all the necessary steps, starting with brining the chicken (1 roaster chicken - ours was 6.5 lbs.) in a brine of ~2 quarts water, 1/2 cup kosher salt, a few big tbls of sugar, a bunch of ground black pepper and crushed bay leaves, a long pour of soy sauce, and many shakes of Texas Pete's hot sauce. Certainly that could have brined overnight, but we only had the day to do it - so it got a few precious hours in the bath.

An hour before we were ready to put the chicken on it's perch, we prepped some hickory chips to add that wonderful smokey flavor to the gas grill... a few big handfulls (maybe 2-3 cups) of the wood chips got a soak in a bowl-full of 1/2 beer and 1/2 water.

Additionally, we made a "rub" of sorts that would be multi-purpose... The rub consisted of pretty much equal parts: ground black pepper, kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and a mix of dried oregano/basil plus a little bit of cumin. To that, we added much MORE than an equal part of smoked spanish paprika.

After an hour we drained that beer/water, added the chips to two separate small aluminum trays and placed those trays under the grill grates - on top of the burner-protectors. Then we fired up the grill, started melting a stick of butter in a saucepan on low, and took out the chicken.

After draining the brine, we thoroughly rinsed the chicken with cold water. Then, after using paper towels to dry inside the cavity, we squeezed in the juice of 1/2 a lemon and tried to swirl the juice around as best as possible. Then we scooped in a couple spoons of that pre-made rub... and dried off the exterior with paper towels, prepping it for a massage.

On a big plate, we began brushing on some of the melted butter (be sure to save at least 1/3 of it!) all over the chicken - top, bottom, back, front. Then we sprinked and rubbed in that spice mix - spreading it all over the buttered chicken as best as possible. We ended up shaking on a little extra salt/pepper/paprika on some spots that needed extra attention. Then we got out a beer can...

A 16oz Miller High Life can, to be exact! After washing the outside of the can, about 2/3 of it went into a frosty glass for the chef, leaving 1/3 of the beer in the can. I used some scissors to cut away most of the top of the can, leaving a large opening. The last of the rub (a couple big spoons), the rest of the butter, and the juice of the other 1/2 lemon were then added to the beer in the can and swirled together. This left the can about 2/3 full of liquid - you wouldn't want to go any higher than that with the liquid.

Finally, put the can on the plate, and slide that chicken right down onto it. Et voila!

By now the grill is HOT and the wood is smoking, so we reduced the heat on the two outer burners and turned the middle burner OFF - and placed that chicken right down onto the grill, supported like a tripod by the beer can and the two legs. Monitor the temperature to try to bring it down and hold at 350. Eventually, after lots of playing with it, we had it steady at 350 but you'll have to watch it at first as everything adjusts. Yer looking at about 18-20 minuts/pound of chicken - but really the important thing is ~170 for the breast and ~180 for the drums.

We left that cover on and took maybe one little peek halfway through - we wanted that smoke to be stuck in there (as much as possible on a gas grill) and we knew we'd be rewarded... from about an hour in, the smell of the smoke and the chicken cooking right on the grill and the beer/butter/lemon was wafting through the air and tempting our appetites.

Ours was ready in just under 2 hours and we carefully removed it to a platter, still standing up, with two sets of tongs for it to rest for ~15 minutes. After that, with one set of tongs holding the chicken and the other gripping the bottom of the beer can, we slid that sucker off and onto a cutting board to be carved.

It was delicious... like we said, smokey and sweet, a little lemony, crispy skin. The extra paprika had burned in the places where it was a little too thick (as you can see by the before and after pics), but no big deal. TENDER breast meat, hints of lemon and sweet smoke - possibly the best we've had. Dark meat that had that dark-red smoked appearance and the texture of butter. Crispy skin and meat falling off the bones... Wonderful! Can't wait for leftovers tonight!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Butternut Squash and Spinach Gratin

Yay, fall is here! This is our favorite time of year, because it denotes the beginning of cool weather foods. From stews to braised meat to all things pumpkin – this is such a special season!

Epicurious had some top autumn recipes on their site, and I found this one for Butternut Squash and Spinach Gratin which looked wonderful and completely unlike anything I’ve ever made!

First, fine dice a small onion and a few cloves of garlic and sweat them out over lowish heat in 3 tbs butter for about 8 minutes... do not let them burn! While that is going, peel 2 butternut squash, chop the neck off from the belly. I scooped out the seeds from the "belly", but in the end, I only needed the "necks" of the squash. I cut the necks in half lengthwise and tried to use this slicer we had, but that really didn’t work, so M just sharpened the Santuko knife for me, and I sliced them crosswise no thicker than 1/8". Just be careful of your fingers!

Then I folded the onion/garlic/butter mixture into 30 ounces of thawed frozen spinach (which we had thoroughly dried via hand-squeezing with paper towels.) Also going into the mix was 1.5 tsps salt, 3/4 tsp black pepper, rounded 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1 cup of heavy cream.

Now it’s time to contruct! I sprayed some Pam on my shallow ceramic 9 x 13 baking dish (epicurious says not to use glass, although I’m not sure why?). Then layer squash, spinach mixture a sprinkling of grated Parmesan (this is another deviation from the original recipe), then repeat, ending with squash and some more cheese. Wax or parchment paper on top and then throw it into the top third of your 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Then remove paper and put in for 12 more minutes.

When we took the dish out to remove the paper, the cheese on top was all stuck to the paper and I was out of Parm, so I threw some Jack cheese on top. Perhaps tenting foil instead would have prevented this outcome.

Overall, this dish was AMAZING…the only thing different next time would be a bit more salt and perhaps some crushed red pepper. The funny thing is how much the butternut squash looked like peaches the way I cut them! Each time I took a bite, I expected some sweet juicy fruit, but instead got a slightly sweet earthy flavor – food trickery!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Asian Chicken Stew

Two nights ago, I cracked open some newly purchased Penzey’s spices and sautéed some chicken breasts and some veggies in a flurry of Asian flavors. That night we served everything over rice and it was quite good, but last night I had something more inventive in mind...

I had saved 2 chicken breasts, leftover veggies (onions, peppers, celery, shredded carrots, shredded iceberg lettuce b/c I had no cabbage!) and some of the sauce which consisted of stock, soy sauce, ginger powder, dried mustard, MSG, and garlic. I chopped up the chicken and put that and the veggies/sauce into 4 cups of stock and 4 cups of H2O. I added 2 tsp more of ginger, some more dried mustard, garlic, dried sweet California basil, 1/8 tsp MSG, dash of cayenne, and the juice of 2 limes. I slowly brought that to a boil while I prepared the DUMPLINGS!

I did not intend these to be Asian-style meat-stuffed dumplings, but more like the dumplings my Mom taught me how to make for her chicken and dumpling stew. One cup of flour, 1 tsp baking powder, some garlic powder, 1 tsp Penzey’s Lemon Pepper, and some more dried sweet California basil, mixed thoroughly. Slowly add in 1/2 cup cold water. Don’t add it all at once, add about half, then stir. Repeat until it’s a sticky, but not too wet consistency. Drop them into the now boiling soup, in about 3/4 inch balls... they fluff up! I then shredded some more lettuce, threw that in, and let it continue on slow boil for 25 minutes at which time I threw in some chopped fresh flat leaf parsley. Take a dumpling out, cut in half to make sure it’s cooked through and then you’re good to go!

The soup turned into something more akin to a stew b/c it thickened up from the bits of flour that came off the dumplings. The dumplings themselves had such a nice lemony-garlic flavor and reminded me of wonton soup! But the highlight for me was that it tasted something like a hot and sour soup which is the dish that I judge the quality of an Asian restaurant by! My nose was running, I had a tangy tongue and I was in heaven!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Roasted Cauliflower

Something about this dish makes me forget about carbs - since the only thing we had with it were M’s delicious boneless pork chops (brined, then seasoned with salt, pepper, and italian spices and seared, finished in the oven, and eaten with a little pan sauce/gravy... yummm!) and a glass of wine.

I took 1 ginormous head of cauliflower and cut it up into smallish florets. Into a 9x13 baking dish with the following: 1 sliced tomato (slices then cut into quarters), juice of 1 juicy lemon, 4 cloves of garlic cut into thick slices so they won’t burn to a crisp, some white pepper, several drizzles of olive oil, salt and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Into a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, remove and stir everything up, put it in for 30 minutes more or until fork tender.

This is a super easy dish... I love how the tips of the florets get a bit carmelized, bringing out the earthy sweetness in the cauliflower.

Who needs carbs?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Smothered Pork Chops

Thank you, Summer! We've had a great one - we camped, went to the beach on Cape Cod, played tennis, canoed and fished, took long weekends and trips, got tan, grilled alot, and generally enjoyed Summer. But, as of this Sunday, you bid us adieu and we welcome in your long-lost cousin, Autumn.

Perhaps our favorite time of the year here in New England, we love all things Autumn... the weather turns cool and crisp (no more humidity!), the maple and oak leaves turn brilliant colors and the leaves eventually fall (and we get to rake them), we visit the pumpkin farm and pick out some nice ones to carve into jack-o-lanterns for Halloween (and we get to watch cheesy horror movies!), we get to enjoy the last days before the harsh New England winter rolls in and shutters us up until April, and we get to make comfort food!

And what could be more "comfort food" than gravy-smothered pork chops? This idea popped into our heads and - after a little research, this easy recipe was new for us - we were ready to get comfortable... Along with some leftover yellow tomatoes and some long grain/wild rice, this was a very easy meal to make on a cool, late-summer night.

We helped some frozen ~3/4" thick, bone-in pork chops dethaw by adding them to a brine (after sitting in the fridge overnight) of water, salt, sugar, bay leaves, worchestershire, and hot sauce and letting them hang out for most of the day. When ready, we took these out and rinsed and dried them thoroughly, then added them one-at-a-time to a big freezerbag that was full of all-purpose flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

When all were rinsed, dried, and seasoned/floured we got our big enamled-cast-iron pan nice and hot and added a good amount of olive oil to the bottom of the pan, then browned each of the pork chops for maybe 3 minutes per side. We took those out and added a little more oil to the pan, and then added a tablespoon or so of all-purpose flour (a little goes a long way) and stirred the flour into the oil until we had something like a roux. Then, we stirred in about a cup of chicken broth and scraped up all the burnt bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon, just like we're told to do! Finally, we added some chopped (from a can!) buttom mushrooms for an additional touch.

Not the prettiest picture...

We gave that gravy about 5 minutes of simmer time before adding the pork chops back in and letting them go for 4-5 more minutes. We chopped up some tomatoes and plated our rice, then a nice, big pork chop, and then smothered everything in that delicious gravy... came out great - the perfect comfort food to kick off Autumn!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Crazy Chicken Curry

Cool September winds remind us of hearty meals that warm us from the inside out. I’m not sure where I got the inspiration to make this, but the recipe is solely my own and you’ll have to bear with me on my ingredients list since I really was just slinging things in the pot! The star of the show is the spice – Penzey’s Hot Curry Powder along with some Cinnamon and Tandoori Seasoning. Their spices are nothing to sneeze at (har har) – we had started running out of garlic powder and hadn’t ordered anymore, so I had to grab some from our local supermarket. We did a smell test and we both turned our noses up to chemical smell of the market bottle... quality and freshness really does make a difference!

I cut up 2lbs chicken breast into 3 inch chunks, seasoned with salt and the above spices. I browned them briefly in some olive oil, and then removed from the dutch oven. In went 1 medium onion, and 5 carrots (both sliced thin). After 10 minutes, I deglazed with 1/4 cup chicken stock. At that point, I threw in 2/3 of medium sized eggplant that I had peeled and cubed. I had to add more olive oil at this point because eggplant just soaks it right up!

In another pot, I brought up some chicken stock to a boil and blanched 1/2lb green beans for 3 minutes. After that, I parboiled (8 minutes) 4 white potatoes which I had cubed. After removing the potatoes, I reserved some of the starchy broth to add to my curry as needed.

After the eggplant sautéed for 5 minutes, I added 1cup of the reserved broth and a 32oz can of diced tomatoes with their juices. More of the star spices went in with some salt and the green beans. After bringing up to a boil, I added the chicken back to the pot and simmered covered for 15 minutes. At that point, I added the potatoes, and chcecked the liquid level which should come to the top of the meat and veggies, but not quite covering it. Add the reserved stock if you need more! When the chicken was cooked through (make sure not to overcook!! No one like tough chicken!), I stirred in 1 cup of low fat sour cream and it was finished! You could add plain yogurt or coconut milk, but sour cream was what we had on hand!

The aroma in our house was completely divine, and this was really enough for 3 nights.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Oregano Steak with Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Oregano has rocketed to the top of our favorite-herbs list... we love the tangy, slightly-spicy, and a-little-bit-bitter flavor it adds to savory dishes - both in fresh form (growing out on our deck) and in dried form. Obvious oregano uses are in sauces and on pizzas, but we decided to add a healthy amount of dried oregano to a dry rub on a big boneless top sirloin - to see how the flavor went with a grilled steak.

Along with a little olive oil and salt and pepper, we rubbed in a good deal of dried Mexican Oregano (less sweet, more spicy than Medditeranean Oregano) all over our steak, then wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap and let it hang out in the fridge for a couple of hours. The steak was then removed from the fridge to come close to room temperature, and we started the grill.

When the grill was good and REALLY hot, that steak went right in the middle and cooked for 4 minutes/side. We removed the steak to a cutting board to rest - and sprinkled some fresh oregano leaves over the top. The heat woke that fresh oregano up and - combined with the grilled oregano in the rub - it smelled fantastic.

Along with the steak we grilled some sweet potato wedges and mixed up an onion-and-chive dipping sauce to go with them: 1 cup low fat sour cream, 1/4 cup mayo, 1 tbs Penzey's Fox Point Seasoning, some white pepper, salt, and some garlic powder, and dried chives.

This sauce - and some sliced cukes - added to the Greek feel of the oregano steak, which was tangy and spicy and delicious! Now, where will we apply oregano next??

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Yellow Tomato Salsa over Grilled Chicken

Along with the tons of cucumbers my parents gave us from their northern Maine garden, they also gave us 10 smallish green tomatoes. We asked them what kind they were, but they couldn't remember the exact name other than they've planted them before -- or had they!?!?! When they started to turn yellowish, we started drooling --every day we would watch them, but they weren't turning red! What was going on?? One started getting soft too, so I gave Mom a call to find out what was up! Did they not like being in Boston? Nope, Mom said, I think your father bought yellow tomato plants by mistake! Well, that gave us the go ahead, and boy were they delish. In this dish they remind me of mango or yellow pepper b/c for us, it is rare to have a yellow tomato! This was a very simple Friday night meal, but it was full of flavor!

For the salsa, I chunked up 2 yellow tomatoes, 1 avocado and a quarter of a red onion. Some salt and pepper and the juice of 2 limes, et voila that's it! M brined some chicken breast earlier in the day, and topped them with some Penzey's Cajun Seasoning. Grilled to perfection with a side of couscous and topped off with the yellow tomato salsa, a great summer night meal!