Monday, November 4, 2013

Cooking with Us: E7: Tuna Tataki

I've really been fiending for Jai-Yen's (in Chicago) style Tuna Tataki for quite a while now.

While "tataki" can mean anything from seared, sliced beef or tuna to just those things cut up small, we are gonna stick with calling this tuna tataki, b/c how could Jai-Yen ever be wrong when their food tastes so right?

For this dish you absolutely need sushi-grade tuna (which you will probably have to order from the seafood counter at your local grocery store.)

Needless to say, I was super pumped when my tuna came in this past Saturday!

As usual I suggest viewing this full-screen and in high res. 
Also, please don't judge my attempts at Japanese ;)

The excitement begins!
(Photos et al beyond the jump!)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cooking with Us: E6: Tipsy Talk and Fondue

While we were working on our flank steak the other night, we also made fondue! We were going to make it as a topping, but got hungry and ate it first instead.

I thought I would share our tipsy talk and fondue recipe, because it was funny - at least, to me!

Our in-depth conversation about countries ^-^

Real fondue recipe (also a great steak topper):

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cooking with Us: E5: Mexican Flank Steak

I married Val! and I hate flank steak!
So, I recently reached out to my Facebook friends to ask what they'd like to see made on my blog.

My friend Jay was the first to reply - with a request of steak with peppers... more specifically, flank steak!

My husband is very much *not* a fan of flank steak.  Still, he is usually up for a challenge. He married me, after all, didn't he? 

 He was also feeling under the weather so wasn't in a mood to argue. His only stipulation was that I get the meat from Meisfeld's - our local meat market. No problemo!

What follows is our attempt at slow cooking a 2lb flank steak in a ton of deliciousness (veggies, salsas, beer), which we started way too late in the day.

As always, please watch the video in high res.
 Even my sister, Vanessa, makes an 'appearance' via cell phone :)  

Some photos, a semi-recipe, and the transcript follow!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Butternut Squash & Turkey Soup

My little fall forest
 For many of us, it's fall right about now - or was when I made this last week for myself, my husband, and our friend Leigh.

 As it's in the 40's outside right now, it's sure feeling more like winter to me.

I guess that works out either way, as butternut squash soup is great for fall and winter - though the squash may be more difficult to find as the season edges onward.

Once again, we were lucky enough to have one of Theron's very thoughtful coworkers give us a huge squash from her neighbor's garden.

You may also notice these photos are darker than usual - that's because Theron was trying out a new camera.  They are *too* dark, IMO...
We sent the camera back ;)

I microwaved the squash for approximately 25-30 minutes in 15 to 10 minute intervals, where I would test it for squooshiness. 
Finally, I pulled it out and let it cool b/c believe me - 
you do not want to cut into this and start messing with it right away. 
 This baby was HOT!

 But once it's cooled it's super easy to peel off the skin. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cooking with Us: E4: Chili

Howdy gang!

Welcome to another vlog ;D  This time - instead of waxing in typeface about the past, and my mom's chili as I wrote on here last year, I decided to video tape it for posterity... or something ;)

It's getting close to late October here in Wisconsin, which means it's definitely chili weather.  For my family in Tejas, it may be another month yet before it is truly, as my cousin Karen said the other day, "caldo weather."

(Though caldo is not what we're talking about here.. Back to chili!)

But why don't you click the video below, or go to youtube, full screen that baby, and follow along for some truly awesome (and actually surprisingly, not super-spicy chili!)

^ You know you want to view me in high-res.

As usual, the transcript and recipe follow, but first, I am going to do a photo blog as well, for all you out there who don't want to view my cooking in all its 2 dimensional motion glory ;D

Via screen grabs again, of course!! :)

First, we started with 1.5 lbs of 90% lean ground beef.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cooking with Us: E3: Apple Picking and Smoke Salmon Crostini


I hoped to have this vlog up last week, but the past couple of weeks have been crazy, not least of which due to the fact that this past weekend was mine and Theron's one year wedding anniversary! 

That pic on the right is from one year ago, October 13th 2012. Don't we look happy? :)

For our anniversary we went to Chicago (of course!) and picked up a replica of the top tier of our cake, which was awesome and apple-spicy!

Speaking of apples! This post is about apple picking, and something you can make with them that is not apple pie.  

Also in this video, I included an attempt at apple sauerkraut (a simple recipe I found online) that was truly an utter failure!

And then we made something truly delicious - which was of course - a total win!

As usual, I suggest viewing this at high quality and full screen. :)

The transcript and recipe will follow, but I wanted to tell you a little about the day. 
First of all, it was an absolutely beautiful day to be picking apples in such a gorgeous orchard.

As you might have guessed, this is a screen grab from my podcast. How awesome is that apple tree?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Home Cooking Heroes Spotlight: Peter's Smoky Chipotle Chicken Soup

Petie & I during his visit in May
You guys probably all remember Peter from his Home Cooking Heroes debut, when he taught us how to make amazing scallops. Or perhaps you recall him more recently from his podcast on how to make awesome salsa?

Well folks, we are in luck once more, as he has shared his photos and recipe on how to make a Tangy Tomato-Chipotle soup with chicken and veggies!!

Unlike normal, I'll put the ingredients list at the top (the full recipe will follow the photos as always):

- 1 qt of tomato purée
- 2 cups of chicken broth
- 2 cups diced boneless chicken
- Frozen (or fresh) mixed veggies
- 2 Reconstituted dried chipotle peppers
- 2 teaspoons of cilantro purée
- Sour cream (or plain yogurt)
- Salt, black pepper, onion powder, white pepper, oregano

(Peter adds that you can use regular cilantro, but that it tends to stick to your teethy weefys. Howevz, that's up to you!)

The photo post is in Petie Pie's own words:

I like using a heavy enameled pot for soups. Even heating, good for low and slow!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Slow Cooked Brisket

My dad smoking bbq for Theron's first visit to Texas

Even typing the title, I feel like I have made an affront to my father.  The man makes his own bbq pits and smokers as a hobby, for love of God!

I don't know that my parents have ever slow-cooked brisket... Well, Ok, to be fair, smoking is slow-cooking... but you know what I mean... the electronic, plug it in, choose a setting, and leave variety.
One of my dad's home-made smokers:) I'm so proud!
But back to our blasphemy:

Theron has been wanting a slow cooker for a little while now (like every other kitchen gadget known to man) and what did he want for the inaugural test run of this slow cooker to be?  Pork roast, right?  Ham?  No!  He was emphatic that it be the much belov-ed Brisket!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Theron's Birthday Breakfast Burger

No, this is not a burger.
Hi folks!

Around here (here being wherever my hubby and I happen to be) we don't just celebrate a birthday, we usually celebrate a birthday 'week' - or at the very least - weekend, so that's a lot of what's been going on lately. (IE also part of the reason I was absent last week - sorry!)

I was super inspired by a pin I found on pinterest and decided I would make Theron a pretty intense 'breakfast burger' for him the day after his birthday, as his bday was on a Thursday, and he took the following Friday off from work.

This is the burger!
On his birthday we made chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting (pictured above). Yes I said 'we', as he insisted I wait for him to get home from work so he could help make them!

He's kind of crazy, but always in a cute way.

But back to the (belated) birthday breakfast burger... (phew!)
Well, it wound up being more like a 'brunch' burger because it took awhile to make!  In fact, I ended up having to drag him out of bed to assist me, so be warned :)

Did I mention that the Friday we made this was Friday the 13th?
Oooh, Creepy!

I'm a regular Martha Stewart!  Or just... also crazy.
Anyway, on to the burger! And my mom asks that I forewarn you: This is not a health recipe!
For special occasions only :D

Friday, September 6, 2013

Olive Tapenade Recipe

Yesterday I made one of the easiest hors d'oeuvres I've ever attempted, and was super pumped it turned out so good and so quickly!

 Ever since I was 22 (as I stated in my History of Caviar post) and my sis and I hosted a
gothic beauty pageant / art show that was catered by her friend, I realized I actually liked olives.  Olives, you see, were on the catered food platter and, after a glass of wine, tasted less pungent to me than they did on a raw, non-numbed palate.  As with many things, the more you try something in all it's forms, the more apt you are to enjoy it. Thus, by the time I moved to NYC, I realized I outright lurved olive tapenade.

Two things about this dish: If you're pronouncing it tapanaid you're saying it wrong; it's actually pronounce tapanahd / tapan-odd as it hails from the south of France.  Also, tapenade is sort of a translation for the dish which, rudimentarily, contains olives (duh), capers, olive oil, and anchovies... so when you're saying olive tapenade, you're sort of saying "olive olive mixture."

But who cares, really?  When it is super simple to make and turns out so wonderfully, it doesn't matter what you're saying!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cooking with Us: E2: Peter's Famous Salsa

Production still as taken by Theron ;)

Hi Gang!

Welcome to our second installation of 'Cooking With Us' where we feature my best friend, Peter, and his delicioso salsa!

He actually flew down from NYC to surprise me, and decided he'd teach me to make his amazing salsa whilst visiting.  Are you rubbing your eyes?  Yes, he is a native New Yorker, and yes, he makes tremendously amazing salsa!

And yes, I admit our video does sort of sound like an infomercial for the Ninja blender... but, well, the Ninja is awesome!!  We also (shocker alert) made this salsa super spicy - but you can easily adjust it to your own taste.

The video has closed captions and the transcript and recipe will be provided after the jump!!

As with the last video, I highly recommend you set your playback to at least 720 if not 1080.  This time I added music and more transitions, hopefully making it more fun.  I think it's pretty obvious we were having fun!


Up the resolution :)          ^
Or go watch it in high-res on youtube :D

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Val!'s Guacamole & Pico de Gallo

Guacamole, there are so many ways to make it!  And it is possible there is no one right way to make it - despite my probably having said the exact opposite in the past.  Maybe something along the lines of, "I make the best guacamole anyone has ever made ever!!"  

I grew up with guacamole that looked a lot like the one pictured below, except without the tomatoes.

My mom's a guacamole purist, you see, which means it'll be avocado (of course), with some garlic powder, lemon juice, and maybe a little salt for taste. 

She shakes her head ruefully when she is in the same room as me making guacamole concurrently.  
(Did you catch all that rhyming? Wow!) 
That is how dichotomous our guacamoles are.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Yes Mum? A scone with clotted cream and jam?

Scones are so pretty
AKA - we try to make some after the jump.

Ah the scone... And if you're British, Scottish, Canadian, or Australian you might have just read that as 'scohn' - well, interesting, ye olde Brits! (And the like...)
For those of you who follow mi blog, you know I'm a wee lassy of the [German]-Irish descent living in the Good Old US of A, where we pronounce it Skown :)

I found the pronunciation divergence funny as I was watching a podcast on how to make scones the other day. (OK, I watched maybe 3 minutes of it... it was really boring)... but that's neither here nor there.  Point is, she said, "today we are making scohns." ORLY?

The first time I think I had a scone was at a McDonald's in Paris.  Yes, you read that right... It was nearly our last morning there, and I didn't feel like fighting to decide what I wanted for breakfast.  I honestly can't say whether or not, before that point, I'd ever even eaten Mcy D's for breakfast. So it was, at the ripe old age of 17, I walked into a McDonald's near Les Halles and ordered what they then called the "Maxi McMorning Sucré."  I recall it came with many things, and as it's been 16 years (erg), my memory has become vague... but for the sake of my teenage remembrance, it had pancakes, an english muffin, and a scone.  I remember the scone.  As I said, I think it was my first.

Monday, April 29, 2013

History of the Chili [Pepper]

What do you think of when you think about chili peppers?

Does your mind jump to your favorite salsa at an authentic Tex Mex restaurant?

 Maybe you can't shake the idea of that awesome spicy #6 Thai curry you had for dinner last night, or the extra hot vindaloo you love at your favorite Indian spot. 


After all, India is the top producer of chili peppers in the whole wide world!  

Friday, April 26, 2013

Cooking with Us: E1: Chicken-Stuffed Poblanos


And welcome to the first video podcast for this site - Cooking with Us!

We were really excited to finally do our first podcast, and made one of our staple dishes - Poblano peppers stuffed with chicken, cooked with chipotles in adobo!

I definitely suggest changing the settings on the video to high resolution.

I'll put the recipe & transcript from the video itself below :)

Hope y'all enjoy!


You'll need (for Two People):

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Slackerdom, Random thoughts on Chilies, Sushi, and Tasting Menus

Hi gang,
Sorry I've been such a slacker around these parts.  Well over a month ago I started another food-history post, this time about the chili pepper. I wrote a great introduction but then got halted in a phase I normally love: the extensive research phase.  And it isn't even like this particular research is difficult.

I have found myself in a strange slump, though when I think about it, it really isn't all that strange.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chef Spotlight: Greg Biggers of Cafe des Architectes in Chicago

Chef Biggers
I'm super excited to share our first Chef Spotlight - and equally so because we are featuring culinary genius, Chef Greg Biggers, of Cafe des Architectes in Chicago.

Chef Greg Biggers
Theron and I fell in love with this restaurant a couple years ago - and met the chef not long after discovering it.  How that came about?  We ordered many appetizers and small plates and the chef wanted to know who was doing this crazy ordering - because, he said, that's the same way he likes to order!

For this article, my notes will be written to help explain people and phrases.

Without further adieu, let's meet Chef Biggers!

V: Can you tell us a little about your educational and working background in the food industry?

CG: I started washing dishes in Alabama where I was born and raised at 15. I have been in the kitchen ever since. I started my first cooking job at 18 and met my first real chef, Matthew Wood, who encouraged me to get out of Alabama and go to culinary school.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The History of Foie Gras

The History of foie gras, if you can believe it, and you probably can, is about as old and intriguing as that of caviar.

Sliced Foie Gras

The difference, however, comes with the fact that foie gras is a far more controversial delicacy than caviar.  It is something you either love or hate - and not just because of taste and texture, but because of animal right's groups citing animal cruelty. The common French method of gavage (the force-feeding of ducks to fatten their livers) has galvanized activists in very recent history to the point of getting foie gras sales banned in Chicago in 2006. Foie gras, however, is not a delicacy which fans could give up lightly, so it only took two years, and some very passionate chefs, for that ban to be repealed.  Even the mayor of Chicago at the time, Richard Daley, thought the ban was 'the silliest law' ever passed by the city council. That being said, there is a current ban in California on the sale of any foie gras made using the force-feeding method, and many other such laws around the world. Love it or hate it, it has been around for a long, long time, and I highly doubt it's going anywhere anytime soon. So let's dig in to the rich history of this very rich delicacy.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Home Cooking Heroes Spotlight: Georgette & Tommaso's Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Fig Appetizer

Hi There!
For our second installment of Home Cooking Heroes I am very happy to introduce to you my cousin Georgette Jupe, and her long-time boyfriend, Tommaso.  Georgette grew up in the Southern US but has, since 2007, called Florence, Italy home.

Georgette & Tommaso

A few weeks ago, Georgette mentioned on her Facebook page that she and Tommaso were going to be making bacon-wrapped figs. That sounded really exciting to me - as anything bacon-wrapped has a high chance of being darn good, and figs are, in my mind, rather exotic.