April 29, 2009

You can never have too much cheese!

Since Vanessa keeps posting every day, making me look bad, I thought I would take it back to the old school with a nice warm tasty soup on a cold rainy day.

Coburg Inn Beer Cheese Soup from The Big Book of Soups and Stews

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup diced celery (I used 2 smallish stalks)
1/2 cup diced carrot (I used 1 large carrot)
1 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
5 cups chicken stock or broth
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese (I used more like 5)
2 cups firmly packed grated cheddar (I used smoked medium cheddar)
1 12 oz bottle of beer, allowed to go flat (I used Drop Top Amber, not flat)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add celery, carrot, and onion and saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Add flour and mustard and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Slowly stir in stock. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add cheeses, stirring until melted. Add beer, salt, and pepper and simmer, uncovered, over low heat to blend flavors, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Note: The soup thickens and the texture improves the second day. Warm carefully over medium-low heat, as it scorches easily. Add more liquid if the soup is too thick.

As you can see, I noted what I changed above in parentheses. This recipe was super easy, and turned out amazing. The only thing I would do differently is to saute the veggies a tad longer. They were a tiny bit crunchier than I would have liked. I was just so impatient to eat! I served this with fresh sliced french baguette.

Veggies and Cheese!

More ingredients and simmering!

Voila! Yummmm!

The perfect end for a rainy spring day, paired with watching Battlestar Galactica with my favorite guy.

April 28, 2009

Land of Giant and Farmer's Markets

Michelle and I have a Monday night tradition-food and wine and tube. This last Monday it was time to use up some homemade tomato sauce that DP and I whipped up over the weekend using some amazing yellowfoot mushrooms from the Farmer's Market. The sauce turned out incredibly well and we served it over some delicate homemade spinach fettucine that was also purchased at the market. And I tell ya, if you're of the mindset that pasta is pasta is pasta, think again and try the fresh stuff....(drool)....

So, there was no way I was letting that sauce go to waste and I quickly thought of Chicken Parmesan for a fast and easy dinner. Served alongside were some roasted baby asparagus (also picked up at the Farmer's Market-god I love that place) served simply with garlic salt and lemon pepper. In all that eating haste I forgot to grab the camera, so you'll just have to trust us that it was damn delicious. What we DID manage to document was the BIG CRUMB COFFEE CAKE we made for dessert.

I snagged a few stalks of rhubarb at the good ol' FM thinking it was time to try my hand with them since I never had. I took this recipe from one of my flagship food blogs Smitten Kitchen. I can honestly say that I never fear when using a recipe from this blog; the woman has class. This turned out spectacular and my only regret was not getting enough fruit to load into it, which is my own damn fault. But, my oh my, the crumbs were GIGANTIC.

Big Crumb Coffeecake with Rhubarb
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Butter for greasing pan

For the rhubarb filling:
1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed (I also threw in an apple because I was short on rhubarb)
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

For the crumbs:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1 3/4 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose)

For the cake:
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour (again, used all-purpose)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

2. To make crumbs, in a large bowl, whisk together sugars, spices, salt and butter until smooth. Stir in flour with a spatula. It will look like a solid dough.

3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

4. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.

5. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Monster crumbs
Fresh from the oven
In need of some vanilla ice cream

April 24, 2009

Criss Cross Applesauce

So in order to give you all the impression that we whip up something nightly, I've decided to start documenting anything remotely photo-worthy. And by me I mean me yelling, "Michelle get the camera, I'm doing something!". Because sometimes, when it comes to blogging at least, it's quantity over quality. I shed a small tear during my morning blog roll if my favorite foodies don't update daily (shout out to smitten kitchen, simply recipes and culinary in the desert-you guys rule large amounts of foodie ass).

I've been sitting on some apples gone wrinkle-y for a while now so I picked up some cider and lemons to turn them into applesauce. Mich was shouting "Apple Butter!" from her blanket fortress on the couch but we discovered that that takes 12-15 hours in a slow cooker, so we'll save that for the inevitable next time that one of us lets apples go south.

Raspberry Applesauce
adapted from Joy of Cooking

4 apples of any sort, peeled, cored and cut into inch size pieces (you don't have to peel them but it's a personal preference
1/2 cup of apple juice or cider (less if you're using really juicy apples)
1 lemon, squeezed
1 cinnamon stick (I was out so I used whole cloves)
1/2 pint of raspberries

Put all ingredients in a medium size saucepan, cover and cook on low heat until apples are soft and most of the liquid has cooked down, about 20 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick (or cloves). Add to the pot:

1/3 cup sugar (I used a combination of brown and white sugar and really you can tinker with this to your liking, some might cut all of the sugar out and decide to let the fruit stand on its own)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Stir until the sugar has dissolved and turn off the heat. At this point you can decide what sort of texture you want your applesauce to have. If you want it slightly chunky, just mash it up roughly with a potato masher, which is what I did. Since I added the raspberries, I would have liked a food sieve to get the seeds out, but I don't.

This was a great way to use up mealy apples! Given my pet peeve of spoiled food, I get a small thrill when I find a way to make use of something that would otherwise be thrown out. And this was great on toast or just the way it is.

Peeled and ready


Mmmmmm toast.

April 23, 2009

Please and Thank You

Being that I bought an entire pound of bittersweet chocolate to make a flourless chocolate cake while we were away in Bend last weekend, only to discover that I needed an electric mixer and had none, I decided that something was to be done with all that chocolate. It's been a while since I made some good ol' fashioned chocolate chip cookies. I came across the NY Times Jacques Torres' recipe via Nosh and Tell and decided to give it a go.

Jacques Torres' Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon cake flour (I used regular flour)
3/4 cup bread flour
1/4 tablespoon salt (you can sprinkle coarse salt on top in lieu of this)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 pound or 8 oz best-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used 1 bar of 4 oz bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate and found them to be chocolate-y enough)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl cream together butter and sugars. Add egg and mix well. Add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla, mix well until combined. Fold in chocolate chunks.

*Instead of adding salt to the recipe, I sprinkled coarse salt on top of the cookies before baking. I've been seeing some food bloggers do this and since I'm such a fan of the coarse sugar/salt thing, I jumped right on that bandwagon.

Using a 4 ounce scoop for larger cookies or a tablespoon scoop for smaller cookies scoop cookie dough onto prepared cookie sheet placing about 2 inches apart. Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 20 minutes for larger cookies and 15 for smaller cookies. Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

My oven cooks a little high so I took these cookies out at about 11 minutes. I like to take cookies out a tad early and then let them finish cooking on the sheet before removing them. I find you get a better consistency that way.

These cookies were near perfect when cooled just a little but still warm. They hardened up more than I like after they completely cooled. Not a terrible recipe, and maybe it's the fact that I didn't use the fancy flour, but I like my cookies less crunchy. Back to my Joy of Cooking standby!

Sitting Pretty

And they all lived happily ever after.

April 16, 2009

Hippity Hop!

No soup in this post, but! Our lovely little home had been planning a big Easter Extravaganza for months. Well, since Easter last year, to be honest. Instead of dying eggs the old boring way with kits from the store, we decided to try this!

Here are the ties we used:

20090410_Easter_002 (1)

Here are our finished eggs:


They did not turn out as vibrant as we had hoped for, but they still look 1000 times better than if we had just done plain old regular egg dying! In addition to these eggs, we made a bunch of decorations such as bunny rabbits and flowers cut out of construction paper, and taped them up around the house. We also made (and ate!) a lot of fantastic food!

Michelle decided that she wanted to make Macaroni and Cheese from scratch. After looking at loads of recipes, the final recipe was modified from Food Network's Paula Deen.

Yummy and Easy Mac 'n' Cheese

4 cups macaroni
4 cups cheese, a mix, your choice of cheese. I used about:
1.5 cup grated Aged White Cheddar
1/2 cup grated Gruyere
1/2 cup grated Fontina
1 cup grated Smoked Gouda
1/3 cup grated Chipotle Cheddar
1/2 cup sour cream
6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
a few dashes of Nutmeg
a few dashes of Cayenne Pepper
1.5 cup milk
breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
Nonstick spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pot, bring water to boil. Sprinkle a little salt and cook macaroni until al dente. Drain pasta and place in a large bowl and while pasta is still hot add all the cheese and fold it in. In a separate medium bowl, using a whisk, combine the sour cream, butter, eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne, and milk. When mixed, add to the macaroni
mixture. Spray casserole dish with nonstick and pour macaroni mixture into the dish. Bake for 30 minutes, sprinkle bread crumbs on, and bake for a few more minutes until it looks pretty crispy on top and bubbly around the edges. Top with additional cheese, if desired.

It was delicious and a huge hit with everyone at the party! It was one of the first dishes to disappear! We forgot to take pictures until a lot of the food was already gone, but here is how the
mostly eaten macaroni turned out.


Vanessa made her holiday family tradition, Nut Loaf. A vegetarian dish made just like meat loaf but with nuts and cheese and ground mushrooms. It's a crowd pleaser every time.

Cheese and Nut Loaf
Source: The Tassajara Recipe Book (a great vegetarian resource)

2 tablespoons butter or oil
1 onion
1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
1 small green pepper
1 teaspoon each dried thyme, savory and marjoram (you can use whatever dried spices you like but I stick within these boundaries)
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
1/2 cups cashews, chopped
4 eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
3/4 pound grated cheese: cheddar, gruyere, fontina, smoked (whichever you like but I always make sure to use Parm and something smoked)
1/4 cup mixed fresh herbs such as parsley, oregano, thyme

If you have a food processor, you're going to make good use of it. If not, make sure to finely chop the onion, mushrooms, garlic and green pepper and skip to heating the butter or oil up.

In food processor finely chop onion. Heat up butter or oil in a large skillet pan. Throw in onion and cook until translucent. While that is cooking put garlic, mushroom and pepper in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. When the onion is cooked, add the chopped mushroom/garlic/pepper mix, dried herbs and salt and pepper, then cook until soft. Let cool slightly and then put into a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Check the seasoning but leave a little undersalted because the saltiness of the cheese will come out later while baking. Liberally butter a 9-inch loaf pan. Put mixture into pan and smooth out the top. Bake for an hour in a 350 degree oven. Take out and let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

And scene.

Vanessa also whipped up a Carrot Apple Salad and an Apricot-Mustard Glazed ham (I cheated and bought a pre-cooked ham and just did the glaze/baking part). Oh and deviled eggs.

Hope you all had a lovely Easter!

Love and bunny rabbits,

V and M


April 11, 2009

Back to Soup

Sorry for the momentary diversion but it can't be all soup all the time. Just most of the time. Ahem.

This last week we whipped up some Creamy Asparagus Soup using some asparagus I snatched up at the PSU Saturday Farmer's Market and some left over buttermilk I was itching to use up (I get antsy if I know there's impending spoilage in the fridge). This recipe came from Mich's soup bible, aka The Big Book of Soups and Stews. We modified it slightly because the grocery store only had one leek left so we subbed a yellow onion. Also, we sauteed some shrimp in orange juice, salt and pepper to throw on top. Oh and those red strips? That's our attempt at "presentation" with a couple of red bell pepper slivers. All in all, a solid soup.

Creamy Asparagus Soup with Shrimp
adapted from The Big Book of Soups and Stews

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 leeks, whit and light green parts only, sliced 1/2 cup chopped celery
1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
3 cups chicken stock or broth
1 lb asparagus, tough end removed and discarded, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (can use low-fat)
1/2 cup bay shrimp for topping (we used large ones as that is what we had)

In a soup pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add leeks and celery and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add potato and stock. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, about 10 minutes. Add asparagus and simmer, covered, until potato and asparagus are tender, about 10 minutes longer.

Transfer to blender or food processor in batches and puree. Return to pot and stir in salt, pepper, and buttermilk and reheat. For a creamier soup, puree again. Serve in bowls with a few shrimp sprinkled on top.



Done! <3!