Monday, February 13, 2012

Poutine: /puːˈtiːn/ (noun) Canadian dream on a plate.

Ah, birthdays. Not that I actually wanted to "celebrate" celebrate... just a night off from cooking, grab a bite with my guys, etc.  So, we went to the Comet Cafe and lo and behold... the specials blackboard pulled me into its orbit with the offering that shone like St. Peter with a halo: Duck Confit Poutine.  Yes, you read that right.  Duck confit + fontina curds + beer gravy + fries = happiness. 

Sometimes it doesn't take a lot to make things right with the world.  Happy Birthday, indeed.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"Planking"... the other kind.

Yesterday was "Boy2 and Daddy Day"... Monday will be "Boy2 and Mommy Day" since his school is closed for a self-imposed holiday/furlough until Tuesday. Being that it was about 5 degrees outside and we got about 6" of snow, it probably wasn't a bad idea that school was closed. The actual bad idea was that I asked the Husba to go to Whole Foods today because they were having a wild sockeye salmon sale ($7.99lb!!). C'mon... that's a steal. Terrible roads and snow notwithstanding.

OK, I admit I shouldn't have asked him to go clear on the other side of the city just to buy salmon, but they only seem to have sales like this on Fridays (what, nobody works?!?) and well, he was home anyway... I will say that I had the most delicious dinner. Thanks, hon.

I ended up using my standard BBQ dry rub - usually reserved for ribs and other grill items, it was wonderful on the salmon. I happen to have some grilling planks (alder, cedar, maple and the like) so I grabbed the cedar plank and pretended I lived in Seattle again. I used to eat salmon like this all the time but for some reason I've neglected buying this lovely fish since moving to Milwaukee. Let's just say it's probably a bad idea to use the planks indoors (yes, I soaked it) because it completely overtook our tiny house with the smell of burning cedar. And not in a good way. It smelled like my college dorm where everyone would burn Nag Champa and hang Indian tapestries on the walls. Nevertheless, it sure was tasty.

Dry Rub Recipe:

1/4 c internet search
3T googling for BBQ dry rub
1T deciding on whose recipe to use because mine's a secret!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Winter Harvest

Boooo. Two whole posts in 2011. C'mon already - let's get this puppy back in gear!

Now that the holidays are over, I'm thinking fresh. Not "juice cleanse" or "tofu-palooza" fresh, but I haven't been to the Milwaukee County Winter Farmer's Market in about two months so I'm starting to crave some tasty winter veggies. Which, in Milwaukee, means root vegetables or something from the cabbage family. I have a few subscriptions to food magazines and I'm pretty sure at least 2 or 3 have included a Cauliflower Steak recipe this month. Not sure what they're trying to do with that, but I definitely don't need to pretend my cauliflower is steak. Cauliflower is awesome all on its own - whether it's roasted until nutty and crisp around the edges or smooth and creamy in a soup. One of my favorite recipes is from the West Town Tavern in Chicago and involves horseradish, mustard and cream. Which is never a bad thing.

Cauliflower Gratin

2 heads cauliflower
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup minced, peeled shallot
2 cups heavy cream
1 Tablespoon Grey Poupon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cut the cauliflower into small florets. Chop the stems fine and reserve separately. Blanch the florets in salted, boiling water until tender. Drain, shock in ice water and reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan and saute the shallots until very tender. Add the chopped cauliflower stems and the cream. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until stems are very soft. Puree in a blender and season the cream with the Grey Poupon mustard, the horseradish, nutmeg, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Mix the seasoned cauliflower cream with the florets. Butter a pan 9"x13"x2" and scrape the cauliflower into the pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese evenly over the gratin.

Bake 350° about 20-25 minutes until the top is golden and the gratin is bubbling. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bento attempt #1... it's lunchtime!

Today, Boy2 started K-4 at a brand new school. He was soooo excited! So was I, since I decided that the city-wide lunch program was pretty gross and I declared I would make a lunch for him every day. Not just a lunch... a bento lunch. That's right, I don't have enough to do with a full-time job and running around, but I also swore I'd make fun lunches for my kid. Idiot.

I'll say this - the school sent out a lunch calendar with a series of photos proclaiming "same great lunch... different packaging!". With a mystery-fried-meat-patty, powdered mashed potatoes, congealed gravy and some sort of canned or frozen grey vegetable. Oh, and an apple. Honestly, Boy2 would probably just eat the apple. He's the only kid I know who doesn't like potatoes. Fries? Sure... mashed, roasted, baked, au gratin, etc.? Nope. So here I am, committed to making a nutritious and fun-looking lunch every. single. day.

Last night at 10pm, I hastily threw together said lunch (yes, I've known about the first day of school for a LONG TIME)... I'm busy. :) And I forgot to take a photo. So for day 2 I'll try to document my "bento-like" attempts at lunch. Keep in mind, I'm not trying to send a vegetable still life work of art. Just lunch. That he'll actually eat.

Today's offerings:

water bottle, half frozen
milk money ($0.35)
container 1: ham pinwheels (tortilla, ham & enough cream cheese to hold it together/rolled up and cut like sushi)
container 2: cherry tomatoes & cheese flowers (our garden tomatoes w/marble jack cheese cut into flower shapes and skewered)
container 3: bing cherries, raisins, an apricot and a small cup of graham bunnies w/2 Hersheys drops. (cookies & cream)
2 ice packs

Not a bad first attempt - I wish I took a picture.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Oh happy day - it's State Fair time! The Wisconsin State Fair starts tomorrow and while I don't necessarily subscribe to "jam it on a stick and call it good" food, we look forward to going every year. On deck for 2011: deep fried butter. I know... I don't know what it is, either. And I'm not going anywhere near it. Nor am I partaking in last year's phenom: the Krispy Kreme Burger. Or was is the chocolate-covered bacon? I don't know - it was deep fried. The gyros and souvlaki at the Apollo tent are more my speed... washed down with a nice local brew from the micro tent. Actually, I think the first AND last stop will be at the micro tent - before heading over to the midway to watch Boy2 go nuts on the rides.

And I'll be saving a little room for a cream puff.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Baking Blitz

I've been on a baking frenzy the past two weeks: ciabatta, scones, focaccia, soft pretzels, whole wheat flaxseed bread, pastry dough, pizza dough, hand pies, peanut butter-filled chocolate chocolate chip oatmeal cookies... ACK! The thing is? I. DON'T. BAKE.

No, really. I don't.

I can't say what prompted the change of heart, but I used to be terrified of making yeasted breads. Quick breads? Fine. Cookies? No problem. Roasting, braising, sauteeing? Bring it on. Something about that yeast always scared me into thinking I couldn't handle it. But I started a pottery class a few weeks ago and all of a sudden I was back into the swing of wheel throwing and wedging that clay on a board... and presto, I wanted to knead bread. And lots of it. So I did... and my family has turned cartwheels ever since.

Maybe it's because fall is here. Maybe we all feel like carbo-loading. Who knows - I like spending $0.38 on a beautiful, crusty loaf vs. $4.69. I also like showing my boys that great food doesn't come from a box.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Every so often, the stars align and a moment (or three) of bliss occurs. My moment was around 10:30 Saturday morning and I'd worked my way through most of a fresh pot of coffee from early in the morning. The Husba took Boy1 and Boy2 on an extended errand while I rummaged through the refrigerator for something to eat - when I spotted it: the package of wild Alaskan salmon I impulse-purchased at Whole Foods the night before. This, I thought, is why you don't go grocery shopping when you're hungry. But thank you, oh hungry Friday night stomach(!), I shall enjoy my salmon with every possible pairing available. Red onion? Check. Lemon? Check. Dill? Check. Rye toast and capers? Check check. Even those tiny little cornichon pickles? You got it! A dab of cream cheese and I was transported back to 1988 when I sat in a cafe in Helsinki, desperately pointing to something on the menu in the hopes it wasn't gelatinous fish or pig hearts.

"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." ~Lao Tzu