Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Eve party for Deux

Trying to plan a menu for New Year's Eve. So far I have this:

Image via


Image via peet-astn flickr

Monday, December 26, 2011

Duchess Potatoes

We revised our Christmas menu to include these:

Duchess Potatoes

They are piped mounds of yummy potatoes. The recipe was a modified version of the The Pioneer Woman's recipe. 
  I think it is a keeper and these cute little mounds of potatoes will show up on our plates on many more Christmases to come.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Trying to finalize the Christmas dinner menu

Christmas Menu:

Prime rib with a Tuscan rosemary rub served with a mushroom sauce

Scalloped potatoes with dill

Sauteed spinach with garlic chips

Clover leaf rolls with rosemary and sea salt

Artichoke dip & mushrooms stuffed with Brie for appetizers

Coconut cream pie for dessert

Friday, December 9, 2011

iBio: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

If you have the slightest interest in technology, I highly recommend the biography of Steve Jobs. It was interesting to read about the conception of Apple and its products. I was amazed at his passion for Apple. When he was given his diagnosis, he could have easily have chosen to quit his job and travel the world. Instead, he chose to stay and help make a "ding in the universe" with game changing devices. Would those products exist without Steve Jobs? Maybe, but they would not have impeccable style and exemplify perfection.  
"Stay hungry, stay foolish" - Steve Jobs

Monday, December 5, 2011

Texas Chili

When a cold front moved through, my mind immediately thought of chili for dinner. For some reason I associate chili with cold weather. Maybe chilly = chili?? For a while, I used the pre-made  chili starter, you know, the one that comes in a box with all the spices, but I noticed it was missing something. I realized that I had never made chili from scratch, so I decided to give it a try. I came up with my version of Texas chili. How long has it been since you've had a big, steaming bowl of Texas chili? Well, that's too long! - Sorry, you knew I had to go there.

Texas Chili:

1 1/2 pounds, grass feed ground beef, (I used the 90%)
1 can kidney beans, (you can make this sans the beans if you like)
2 cans tomato sauce
1/2 onion, finely diced or microplaned
2 cloves garlic, finely diced or microplaned
2 1/2 cups beef broth
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon mexican oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1/4 cup beer  
1 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 cup masa incorporated into 1/4 cup warm water
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large soup pot, add ground beef. Cook until meat has browned (3-5 minutes). Add finely minced onion and garlic. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Add spices, tomato sauce, sugar and beef broth. Bring to a boil. Cook for 30 minutes on simmer. Add beer and beans and cook 10 more minutes. Mix masa and hot water in a small cup, add to chili. Top with shredded cheddar and diced onion.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I have a "thing" for roasted vegetable soup. I realized roasting veggies brings out the caramelized goodness in them. To make roasted vegetables into a soup is pretty simple. Just add liquid, such as chicken stock, heavy cream, coconut milk, etc., puree your roasted veggies and voila! you have a soup. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup:

1 butternut squash peeled and diced
I onion, peeled and sliced into long strips
2 carrots
3-4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt & pepper to taste
sage leaves for garnish
 *chili oil for garnish

Place butternut squash, onion and carrots on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Put roasted veggies into a stock pot, add broth and heavy cream and puree until smooth.

*Chili Oil: 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Mix well and drizzle on top of soup when you are ready to serve. 


Friday, November 18, 2011

Baked Apple Chips

I have a fondness for apples. I think it is part of the reason I look forward to fall. I can't wait for apple season to begin. I usually eat them for breakfast or for a snack. When I was craving my mid afternoon snack the other day, I thought why not do something different. That is when it occurred to me to sprinkle them with apple pie spices and bake them. The first batch did not turn out. In fact, thanks to the oven being set too high, they were slightly burnt. I also realized it helps to cut the apples on a mandoline. I just tried to slice mine really thin. The thinner you can get them the crispier they will be. I also realized that you want to cook them on a low temperature. I set the oven at 200 degrees, however, when I make them again, I would set it at 250. The slow and low method is the best. I didn't even bother to core them. I think next time I'm going to experiment with a variety of different apples. Here is my recipe:

Baked Apple Chips
1-2 Apples (I used jonagold)
Spices - Vanilla sugar, ground cloves and cinnamon

Slice apples very thin. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange apple slices. Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes. Flip apples over and cook for another 30 minutes.

I'm thinking that these would go well with some pumpkin butter. What do you think?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Panna Cotta

Ever since traveling to Italy, I've been obsessed by this dessert. It is one of those dishes that just melts in your mouth, literally!! My husband and I decided to try to recreate this creamy, decadent dessert. Panna Cotta is typically served with fresh fruit. We decided to serve ours with macerated blueberries and candid lemon peels.The panna cotta recipe that comes the closest to bringing me back to that wonderful food memory in Tuscany is this Gourmet recipe:


1 envelope unflavored gelatin (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons cold water
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half
1/3 cup sugar, Plus 1 Tbs.
1 whole vanilla bean, (1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract)


1. In a very small saucepan sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand about 10 minute to soften.

2. In a large saucepan bring cream, half and half, and sugar just to a boil over moderately high heat, stirring. Remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture and vanilla seeds. Divide cream mixture among eight 1/2-cup ramekins and cool to room temperature. Chill ramekins, covered, at least 4 hours or overnight.

3. Dip ramekins, 1 at a time, into a bowl of hot water 3 seconds. Run a thin knife around edge of each ramekin and invert ramekin onto center of a small plate.

Yield: Serves 8


Monday, November 7, 2011

Technique @ Le Cordon Bleu: Review

I recently discovered Le Cordon Bleu has a signature restaurant in Austin,TX. Technique, as its called, is located inside the cooking school, near the Domain mall. The meal is prepared by Le Cordon Bleu students and is overseen by a chef instructor. For lunch, the menu contains a variety of starters, main plates and desserts. You have your choice of three courses for $10.00. No, I did not leave out a zero. Your choice of a starter, main plate and dessert, and I'll repeat, for only $10.00. I was hoping there was not some sort of catch to this, like you have to leave 80% gratuity or dance on the table after your meal, but there were no hidden fees. The dining area is small and contemporary in decor. In fact, there is limited seating, so making a reservation on their website would be my suggestion, instead on just walking in and hoping to get a table.

I started with the Watermelon Arugula Salad, while the hubby had the Caprese Salad. 

For the main plate, I opted for the Halibut, while the hubby had the Veal Shank. 

 For dessert, I had the Salted Carmel Pot de Creme and the hubby had the Chocolate Mousse. I'm going to be honest here, I liked his choice better. 

Overall, It was a lovely lunch for an affordable price. To get more information on  Technique in Austin, TX, please click here. 
You don't have to dance on the table here to get the $10.00 "special". You can do that on your own time.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rustic Pizza Night

There is nothing better than a homemade pizza. The crispy crust, the sauce from scratch and hand picked toppings, will make you want to stay in, rather than go out, for a slice of pie. Until I get my wood burning stove from Italy, (ha, ha, dream on) this homemade dough recipe is the next best thing. It's actually Wolfgang Puck's pizza dough recipe 
We cook the pizza on a pizza stone to make the crust nice and crispy.
For the sauce I use a 
  Classic Marinara (recipe to follow).
Add your on toppings and cheese and you are ready for some fantastic pizza. 

Classic Marinara:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3-4 large garlic cloves
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 can (35oz) whole italian tomatoes with juice (San Marzano) crushed with your hands
1 pinch sugar
2 sprigs fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepan, heat oil. Add garlic and cook over medium heat, until garlic is golden. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add canned tomatoes, stir in sugar, basil and salt/pepper. Bring to a boil. Simmer sauce over low heat for 30 minutes.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Curried Carrot Coconut Soup

Wonderful roasted vegetable soup with a Thai twist.
Veggies ready for roasting

Spice Blend

Carmelized goodness

Curried Carrot Coconut Soup Recipe:

1 Bunch Carrots peeled and chopped
1 Medium Sweet Potato peeled and sliced
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
1/2 medium Red Onion, Sliced
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
1 Teaspoon Yellow Curry Powder
1 Teaspoon Red Curry Powder
Olive oil
1 Clove Garlic, Sliced
2 inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
1/2 can Coconut Milk
3 cups Chicken Broth

Arrange chopped veggies on a large baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over them and bake and 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes. 

In a large soup pot, combine 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, garlic and ginger. Saute for a couple of minutes.

Add your roasted veggies, spice blend and chicken broth. Puree in a blender, food processor or break out the boat motor (hand held blender). Blend until smooth.

Stir in your coconut milk. Serve with a wedge of lime and cilantro. 


Friday, October 21, 2011

The Uchi Experience: Review

I'm always a bit skeptical when I read numerous of positive reviews on a restaurant. My first thought is, "Can it really be that good?". Especially when it comes to a sushi restaurant. How many times can you reinvent a sushi roll? Well, Uchi in Austin, TX lives up to the hype. It really is that good. It is a sushi restaurant, but so much more. It is actually described as,"Contemporary Japanese dining and sushi restaurant". The play on textures, hot vs. cold elements and sweet and spicy components is like a symphony in your mouth. 

My husband and I got really lucky and were able to score a "coveted table" on Thursday night. Mind you, this is a college town where Thursday night has been deemed "date night". Good luck finding a table with no reservations. Somehow the planets aligned and not only did we walk in and get a table, we also found a primo parking spot. Ok, truth be known, we were probably there a little early for the college crowd. 

The atmosphere is typical Austin style, mixing old with funky and new. The seating is cramped, but I'm sure that they are trying to squeeze as many people in the place as possible, rightfully so, because the place was packed. 

The waitress informed us that the menu was geared towards small plates, tapas style, if you will. These small bites encourages the patrons to try varied dishes without getting full. We started with the standard edamame and sake. Next, we tried the macho cure, which highlights smoked yellowtail. The dish is presented with cooked to perfection yucca chips. These root chips serve as a vehicle to get the yellowtail into your mouth. The smoked fish is somewhat salty and is a wonderful contrast to the sweet asian pear. Now my taste buds are humming. Sweet, salty and a textural element, oh my!! Next we had the spicy tuna roll. Time to pause for an observation here. There was no wasabi in sight. I'm thinking that this overpowering condiment takes away from everything that the chef is trying to accomplish. The fish here is the star of the show. Why mask it with subpar flavors. 

Needless to say, in the words of the now disgraced Arnold Schwarzenegger, "I'll be back". Next time I'll try to take pictures before I hurriedly shove all that glorious food into my mouth. Here is the link if you would like to check out the menu: Uchi.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Paging Matt Lauer

Attention Matt Lauer, I made your favorite chicken dish. Have to admit this dish has become a favorite of mine as well. When I first heard the ingredients in this recipe, my initial reaction was Yuck!! I think it was the dried prunes that elicited the response. Once I tasted the dish, my reaction changed to YUM!! The sweet prunes nicely off set the vinegar and complimented the salty olives. This is one of those go-to dishes if you are having company for dinner. Just make sure to give it enough time to marinate.

 P.S. Matt I have leftovers in the fridge if you want to stop by.

I used the  Silver Palate's Recipe or you can try Matt's Recipe I don't think there is much difference in the two.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kale Chips

Kale Chips are a healthy easy to make snack. All you need is some Kale (I like to use the dinosaur kale variety), olive oil, salt & pepper and parmesan cheese to garnish. That is it!! First, wash the kale and dry it very well. I usually put mine in a salad spinner to get the excess water off or you could pat it dry with a towel. Then rub your kale down with olive oil. Give it a nice little massage, making sure to get the olive oil into the kale. Season with salt & pepper and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Garnish with parmesan cheese.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Gnocchi with Two Sauces

Gnocchi with a Mushroom and Arugula Sauce

Gnocchi with a Lamb Ragu

This past weekend we had a Gnocchi throw down. With two wanna be chefs in the house there is always room for some healthy competition. We started with some homemade Gnocchi... Yes, we are crazy enough to make Gnocchi from scratch. Then came the sauces. I made a Mushroom Arugula sauce while the hubby made a Lamb Ragu. The throw down was considered to be a tie... mostly because the participants wanted to come back and eat at our house again.

Mushroom Arugula Sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced
 2 cups beef broth
4 large portobella mushrooms, chopped
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup arugula 
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon white truffle oil 
parmesan to garnish

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add minced garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add chopped portobella mushrooms. Saute for 3-5 minutes. Add beef broth and cook for 15 minutes or until the sauce has reduced. Add in Arugula, salt & pepper. Cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream.  Add homemade or store bought Gnocchi to the sauce. Drizzle with truffle oil and garnish with parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


My Dad has a great sense of humor

Double Chocolate Malted Tart



Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter. Combine cookie crumbs and butter in a small bowl and mix until thoroughly moistened.
Transfer to an 8-inch tart pan. Using the back of a cup or measuring cup, press mixture into the pan with a removable bottom until evenly covering the bottom and sides of the pan. Set in freezer until set, at least 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and set aside. Place cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.
Remove from heat and whisk in malted milk powder until smooth and pour over chocolate. Let sit until chocolate is starting to melt, about 1 minute. Gently stir until all chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, small piece by piece, until evenly incorporated.
Turn mixture into the prepared tart crust and spread until even. Cover loosely and refrigerate until filling is set, at least 1 1/2 hours.