A Brit, a Yank and a Kitchen

Wednesday, May 31

I'll show you mine, if you show me yours....

I have to admit to a guilty pleasure... one that even forces me to open up Rachel Ray's magazine. An overwhelming curiosity to see what food stashed other people have. Whether I am in line at the grocery store, discretely poking my head into friends and families fridges... or *gasp* checking out the monthly article Rachel Ray has in her mag where she highlights someone's fridge. Its like some sort of bizarre form of voyeurism. But I like it.

Apparently, I am not alone... the folks over at Sweetnicks have decided to encourage us all bare all and open up those fridges! Myself included! Un-censored! OMG!

So what have I got in there... hmm...
I've been on this Asian food kick lately... probably a result of my recent trip to Ran-Getsu a couple weekends back.

So inside you will find (visible from top left to bottom right in the main compartment):
Margarine, pepto, plain yogurt, umeboshi, capers, eggs, strawberry jam, lite soy sauce, fermented black bean paste, a compartment full of cheese, firm tofu, dijon mustard, mayo, sambal oelek, sour cream, a little tube of durian, more eggs, leftover pizza, century eggs, peach yogurt, silk, milk, more silk, framboise beer, fish sauce, pimento olives (for my dirty martinis!), Mr. Brown coffee, and bouillon paste.
(and on the shelves): lime and lemon juice, black bean sauce, thai peanut dressing, hoisin sauce, japanese sesame sauce (sooo good on steak), minced ginger, GOBS of hot sauce (this is the south!), dark soy sauce, pickle relish, white cooking wine, some dressings, BBQ sauce, ketsup, and a few misc mustards.

The three things you will ALWAYS find in our fridge is Silk, eggs, and cheese. =)

That was fun. =)

Monday, May 29

Tandoori Grilled Chicken

Memorial Day weekend always calls for something grilled outside! And since the folks over at Peanut Butter Etouffee are holding a BBQ challenge... need I any more excuse?

After spending the better part of the morning Saturday hitting up our favorite ethnic markets, starting with the southeast asian market, where we scored a fresh bun filled with ground pork, whole chunks of char siu, tiny diced century egg, and a whole quail egg... On weekends they get shipments of southeast asian specialties. I spied what I thought to be fresh duck eggs.. very fresh, with feathers still stuck all over them. They were fresh alright... with the chicks even in them! I've heard of this specialty before.. I'm actually pretty sure I've seen Anthony Bourdain subjecting himself to this unusual delicacy... but I think its the one thing I probably couldnt eat... unless perhaps chick and egg were diced so small they are no longer recognizable. Afterwards we made our way to the Japansese/Chinese/Korean market, where I proceeded to spend too much on potential bento box goodies. Conveniently in the same plaza is an Indian market... Dave's favorite... and picked up some side items for our Indian BBQ.

Tandoori chicken is soo wonderful... I've made it once before using this recipe, but have always roasted it in the oven. This is Memorial Day weekend people... no roasting in the oven!!

On with the recipe!

4 tbsp lemon juice
6 large cloves garlic
2 inch ginger root
1 onion, chopped
1 small green chilli
2/3 cups plain yogurt
1 tbsp cilantro
2 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground chilli
1/4 tsp mace
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 whole chicken, in pieces, pricked with a fork


Blend the lemon juice, garlic, ginger, onion and chilli to a smooth paste in a blender or food processor.. Place yogurt, ground spices and salt in a bowl and stir in the paste. Put the chicken into the marinade and rub it all over the chicken. Cover and leave to marinade overnight (or longer!)

Heat grill to medium low, and grill for 40 minutes, turning once, basting with marinade.

We had this with naan, palak paneer, and jasmine rice. As an appetizer (while the chicken grilled) I fried up some popadums and made some onion chutney. Simple recipe... 1 onion, 1 tsp paprika, a tsp ketsup, 1 tsp vinegar, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1/4 tsp cumin, salt to taste... all chopped together in a food processor.

Dreams of.... Breakfast?

Would you think I'm a freak if I told you I am now literally dreaming up recipes?

Yea... Apparently culinary adventures are finding me in my sleep.

Officially my first "dreamt up" recipe.

I give you, eggs baked in a tomato. I'm sure I could think of a fancier name... but really then I think that would be asking too much of my subconscious. There was another item in my dream, but upon waking I'm not sure exactly what it was... some sort of bread or biscuit filled with sausage meat... or something. But it was the egg I was most excited about when I woke up.

Take a tomato, half it, scoop out the insides, salt, and set upsidedown on a paper towel for about 15 minutes to remove moisture.

Bake the tomato halves in the oven at about 350 for 15 minutes or so. Remove, break an egg into each half, and return to the oven until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

Garnish with some chopped scallion.


Saturday, May 27

Wensleydale & Corn Quiche

I had 3/4 of a wheel of Wensleydale left sitting in my fridge, so I decided I should make use of it before it was no good. After a quick search online and sifting through several recipes, I settled on a corn and wensleydale quiche. I am a big fan of corn.

I combined my recipe with some good old know-how from Julia Childs and in the end it was really very good. Plus I learned Wensleydale shreds very nicely... very soft.

We had this with a salad drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a bit of truffle oil, and chopped walnuts.

So here's the recipe! =)


1lb short crust pastry
4oz Wensleydale cheese, grated
4oz sweetcorn kernels
1/4 each sliced red and green bell peppers
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste


Line a 10" flan tin with the pastry
Spread the shredded cheese in the bottom and cover with sweetcorn and lay the sliced peppers radiating out from the center.
Whisk the egg, milk, salt & pepper, and hot sauce together and pour on top
Bake at 400 F for 25 minutes or until set and lightly brown.

Tuesday, May 23

Tuna Poke

No, its not the newest rage in bizarre food sports. It's "poke", pronounced, "po-keh", apparently a very popular dish in Hawaii which involves an array of ingredients, usually mainly a raw fish of some sort. I snagged this recipe from foo(d) bar, a fellow geek and freak cook. Rare is the geek/cook combo. He posted his description and recipe on his blog here, and it is the recipe I followed, I would suggest you do the same.

There is a fish market near here (Claytons) that always has wondeful fresh fish, and also carries sushi grade tuna. Now I have no skills in sushi rolling, and find sashimi a little too plain for dinner, so I was pretty stoked when I stumbled across this recipe. Not to mention it sounded spicey.. and Dave and I are big fans of spicey! I'd finally be able to make use of that lovely tuna they carry at Claytons.
It was DEAD easy to prepare, just mix everything and marinade. While everything was chillin in the fridge I sliced up a carrot and let it marinade in some vinegar and rice wine, and fixed some short grain rice... then proceeded to get carried away doodling with some sriracha on the plates.

Needless to say it was WONDERFUL. It just melted in the mouth. Dave said to fix this anytime! I have no problem with that, it was SO easy. He also said we should rename it, "Hawaiian Tuna Poke with Sambal Oelek and Truffle Oil", and charge $40 a plate. Excluding the ingredients I alrady had on hand, the whole thing cost me about $16, including truffle oil and tuna. Can't beat that.

Monday, May 22


Sunday evening Dave and I made our way to our friend Tom's birthday party, being held at one of my favorite restaurants, Ran-Getsu. Ran-Getsu is a chain of restaurants in Japan, the one in Orlando is the only one outside of Japan, so needless to say the food is authentic, and ranked at #4 out of 9,000 Japanese restaurants in the country, only 2 places behind the famed Nobu... its a REALLY good place. Good as in authentic, not fancy and frilly.

Everybody sprung for sushi, I decided to have another go at urchin, since the first time I had it, it was horribly off and I lost my taste for it. Ran-Getsu's was wonderful.. the best way to describe it is that it tastes of the sea, similar to the flavor of crab eaten fresh from the shell, or the juice of an oyster.. but with a texture of butter. Oh it was good.
Just about everyone in the party decided to opt for Ran-Getsu's most popular, Suki Yaki. Its a fix it yourself dinner... which I love, a really interactive way of eating. They bring out a big plate of finely sliced beef, and another plate of assorted veggies and potato noodles. You start by heating up some oil and fat in the pot, then add a couple strips of beef, until cooked to your liking, dipping them in raw egg briefly (youve got to trust the restaurant!) to cool it down before plopping it onto your little rice bowl. The veggies are added, along with a concoction with soy sauce and dashi.. and another which is a clear seaweed broth, both in little pots that you can add as you feel necessary. You just keep going on like this until the plates are empty, and your tummy is full. Such a fun experience. They also do Shabu Shabu, which is almost identical, except instead of grilling, you do your cooking in a big boiling pot of mild broth. And instead of egg for dipping, you get a wonderfully flavorful sesame sauce.

Tom had the great idea of asking about an ice cream he had tried in San Fransisco, called Mochi Ice Cream. Little balls of ice cream wrapped in a thin rice dough, so you can pick them up with your fingers. To our joy, our host Haru ran off to the kitchen and returned to tell us that they could arrange us to have Mochi. It was SOOooo good. Three flavors they gave us, red bean, green tea, and vanilla. I really enjoyed the green tea. I found a recipe for mochi ice cream online, I am JUST crazy enough to try to make it.

Needless to say it was a fun night, always even better when everyone there is really enjoying the food and experience too, the way this particular group of friends does.
If you ever find yourself in Orlando, and want a memorable dining experience.. Ran-Getsu my friend!

Wine-O Party

Dave, me and BillA friend had a bit of a wine tasting party over the weekend after a recent trip to Sonoma, and wanted to geek out over wines and share his excitement. I of course wont pass up an opportunity for some good free wine... even if it is over an hour drive away! ;-) I thought it was a fantastic idea... I will definitely be stealing it when Dave and I get into our new house! From left to right is Dave, me, and Bill in the photo above

These were the wines we had our fun with Saturday night:

Name: Columbia Crest Grand Estates
Vintage: 2003
Region: Columbia Valley
Grape: Chardonnay
Outside in the hot humid night
Name: Five Rivers
Vintage: 2003
Region: Paso Robles
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon

Name: Ravenswood Vintners Blend
Vintage: 2003
Region: Sonoma, Lodi, Mendocino
Grape: 76% Zinfandel, 9% Carignane, 8% Petite Sirah, 7% Mixed Blacks

Name: Montes Alpha
Vintage: 2003
Region: Colchagua Valley
Grape: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot

Name: Boudale Rouge (Domaine Brusset)
Vintage: 2003
Region: Cotes du Ventoux
Grape: 60% Grenache, 15% Carignan, 15% Mourvedre, 10% Clairette

Ben and CarolineThe winner for me was the Boudale Rouge. My palate is still rediculously undeveloped, so when I recognize an aroma or flavor now, I get pretty excited. It is something I have only just recently begun to notice... like when I had a pint of my favorite British brew Boddingtons, and for the first time tasted and smelled honey, no wonder there is a flippin bee on their logo!! But anyway... yea... I took one whiff of the Boudale Rouge... having not heard of a single grape on its label.. unsure of what I was in for, and there it was... raspberry. Very distinct, I looked all excited at Dave and said, "I smell raspberry!!", I tasted it and there it was too. I read the little print out Bill left by all the bottles describing aromas and flavors and there it said, "...flavors of raspberry..." I was so proud of myself. My little tastebuds are growing up.

Wednesday, May 17

Chicken Soup

I wish I had a better camera. Then maybe my food would look mildly appetizing on here! But I feel some imagery is better than none, so until I can afford something better... thats what youre gonna get! ;-) But trust me when I say this soup was really pretty.. with the bright orange carrots and delicate little parsley leaves floating around.. and the ever so comforting haze of golden chicken broth with little flavorful specks suspended inside... mmmm...

Dave hasn't been feeling well... so I decided to fix him some good ol chicken soup. This one is pretty easy as it calls for an already cooked whole chiken, which reduces some of the cooking time. We thought it was pretty good, just a little on the salty side, couldnt decide if it was the prepared chicken (I got a rotisserie chicken from Publix) or the chicken broth that caused it. Next time I'll use less broth and more water, I think the broth that is prepared in the first phase gives enough flavor on its own. You could use egg noodles in this in place of rice.. just let the carrots and celery cook a little on their own to soften before adding the noodles.

Very yummy... and although it has a long cooking time, it was very easy to make. We have leftovers for lunch today. Mmmmm.


1 cooked chicken (roast or rotisserie)
3 celery ribs
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
6 fresh parsley sprigs plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
10 cups chicken broth
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup jasmine rice, rinsed


Remove meat from chicken (I was bad and ate the wings and oysters while taking it apart.. teehee), reserving skin and bones. Coarsely chop 1 celery rib and put in a large pot along with chicken bones and skin, onion, parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and chicken broth. Simmer, partially covered, 1 hour.

While broth is simmering, shred about half of chicken meat into bite size pieces. Cut remaining 2 celery ribs into 1/4-inch dice.

Pour chicken broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing hard on solids with back of a ladle and then discarding them.

Return strained broth to pot, then add carrots, diced celery, and rice and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and rice is very soft, about 30 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken and chopped parsley.

Enjoy with some buttered bread and feel better!

Tuesday, May 16

Eau de Stilton

You heard me right.... Dave.. your people are insane! I love my stilton.. but I wouldnt wear it..... or would I??? o_O

Loathing in FoodTVland

Dave knows that Rachel Ray just rubs me the wrong way.... she just comes off as entirely fake, that she is secretly a complete raving bitch.. or a lunatic... or a drunk.. havent put my finger on it yet. Mind you, I have no reason to think this is true... I've never met Rachel Ray, I've never heard anything bad about her, never seen her in anything but smiles... But that's it, something superficial... there's something about that smile.. that taking every musle in her face and neck to force that smile. Thats right Rachel... smile for the camera and tell us how good that Spam sushi is... (I kid you not!!) And as Anthony Bourdain put it, anyone can eat on $40 a day if you stiff the waiter.

So during my time poking around my favorite blogs, I've found a motherload of other foodiebloggers who loathe one particular FoodTV star or another... and theyre pretty damn funny.

My adventures began with I Loathe Sandra Lee.. and apparently someone else agrees, and someone else.
then there is,
Paula Deen
Giada's Giant Head -for the record, her smile annoys the Hell out of me, I dont think I've ever seen anyone with such a toothy smile... I like the show, as long as I dont watch it.
More Giada funniness
Rachel Ray
An entire online community of people annoyed by Rachel Ray...
..a whole list..
Thankfully TVgasm had nothing bad to say about my favorite Alton Brown

Quote of the day: "Alton Brown is awesome, he can smoke a salmon in a hotel parking lot with a cardboard box."

Anyways.. yea... I'm bored....


The other day at Petty's (the local meat market & specialty shop) I picked up a little jar of English double cream. I love this stuff. Especially on scones. But.. I have no scones... this is Florida... most of the people here have never even heard of a scone, not even the American versions of them. So I figured it was a good chance for me to try a recipe out of one of Dave's cook books, "Great British Cooking". He said he had made a few things out of it before, and they were all pretty spot on, so instead of digging through allrecipes and epicurious, trying to distinguish the English scones from the American scone recipes.. I decided to just go with the one, single, scone recipe in his entire book. I am so glad I did, even though the honey threw me off a bit, they ended up tasting every bit as good as any I'd had in the UK... or from the handful of British bakeries whom you can order frozen scones from. My only mistake was that I rolled them too thin, instead of the siggested 1/4 inch thick, I will do 1/2 inch, maybe more, next time.

We enjoyed these last night with a thin spread of butter, strawberry jam, and a big dollop of cream. Yum. The rest are tucked away in the freezer, I doubt they will be there long.


2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
3 ounces butter
1 heaping tbsp honey
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix all dry ingredients, gently mix in butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Create a well in the center, and add milk and honey. knead on a lightly floured surface until you have a light springy dough.

Roll out to a disc approx 1/2 inch thick, and using a glass, cut out your scones. Place them on a greased and floured surface, and brush the tops lightly with beaten egg.

Bake for 7-10 mins on the top rack of the oven.


Monday, May 15

"Voting With Your Fork"

"Historians of the future will marvel at the existence of a civilization whose population was at once so well-fed and so unhealthy."

This is a really interesting read regarding the "food revolution" that seems to be starting in this country.... I agree that the whole idea of "buying local" is a great one... but after a few weeks of trying to find my own local farmers market.. I've come to learn the closest one is in Tampa... a 4 hour drive away. Sad, really. I can't even find a place that sells fresh morels or peas... and theyre in season! Things do need to change...

In Memory of?

You know how when someone dies, it suddenly becomes in vogue to talk about them? Reminisce about their wonderful accomplishments... perhaps commemorate them.. give them awards....

I've just noticed that New Orleans has become the newest dead celebrity... like people are expecting that it will never return to what it once was... and therefor celebrate "what it was".. even if they didnt particularly care for it in the first place...

I'm not sure how many times I've heard in the last several months.. "I went to New Orleans before Katrina.." like its some kind of state of the place that will never be again.

Morbid, people... get off the band wagon.. really...

Sunday, May 14

Cornish Pasties

AS long as I've known Dave, he has kvetched about a lack of decent Cornish Pasties to be found in the country. The frozen ones bought in specilty shops just don't cut it, says he! As a matter of fact, the only decent ones we've found to date are in EPCOT at Disney, but we can't really afford to 1. drive to Orlando, 2. pay the $60+ admission to get into EPCOT, 3. then pay the $12 they charge for it.. every time he has a craving for them! So as you can imagine I was pretty giddy when I found a recipe in this months Saveur for them.

Much to my delight, I made a massive mess in the kitchen making the dough.. which called for lard... alas... meat sales people look at you like youre speaking another language when you ask for lard... all I could get was suet... it had to do. Apparently, its IMPOSSIBLE to get lard in this country. Go figure. I could get a deep fried candy bar I'm sure no problem. With fries too if I wanted... but I digress... MASSIVE mess in the kitchen, flour... everywhere. Dave even found some on the windowsill this morning... dont ask.

We thought they turned out alright... now I'm not the Cornish Pastie connoisseur that Dave is... but he seemed to enjoy them, although he did say the pastry seemed a bit overcooked.... maybe it was a texture thing... replacing lard with suet... who knows. But next time I wont cook them as long and see if it makes a difference.

So here is the recipe, modified a little from Saveur this month...


2 1/2 cups flour
9 tbsp cold lard cut into small pieces (I had to use suet)
9 tbsp cold margering cut into small pieces
1 cup peeled grated rutabaga
1 large russet potato, peeled, cut into small cubes
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1lb ground chuck steak
1 egg lightly beaten
salt & pepper

Mix flour, lard, margarine and 1 cup water in a large bowl, using your hands, gently forming into a dough ball.. trying not to mix the fats into the flour. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and roll into a 8x10" rectangle, and fold as you would a letter. Repeat this process 8 times, and refrigerate dough, wrapped in plastic, for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces, shape into balls, then into discs. Working with 1 disc at a time, and rewrap and refrigerate others. Roll out disc into a 9" round.

Combine potato, rutabaga, onion, and beef, and take a quarter of it into the round of dough. Brush egg along one side, and fold the dough over the meat mixture to form a half moon. Pinch edges to form a seam. Transfer pastry to a8x12" piece of parchemt paper. Repeat process for remaining 3. Brush tops of pasties with remaining egg. Arrange pasties on a baking sheet, with edges of parchment paper folded up between them.

Bake the pasties until light golden, about 15 mins, reduce heat to 350 and continue to bake until deep golden, about 50 minutes.

Let them cool a bit before eating. Dave likes his with HP. I liked them as they were... yum!

Cheap Wine

Dave and I like to have a glass of wine with our dinner... or beer... depending on what we're having.. ;-) Obviously we can't go dropping $15+ every couple days for a new bottle so it became necessary to find a decent table wine. And did we ever luck out! Publix has been carrying this French wine, in both red and white for $3.99 a bottle. And maybe we are just that ghetto, but we enjoy it more than some bottles we've spent 3-4 times as much on!

So, if you ever wonder what it is we're most likely sipping on on a nightly basis, there you have it! -I even used this white for my mussels below!

Mussels in Wine

I'd been craving just some plain old mussels, and lucky me.. our fish market had just been delivered a live batch of wild ones. So on my way home from work I snagged a couple pounds and set to work over the sink cleaning and debearding them... there has to be an easier way to get rid of those beards.... every once in a while I'd luck out and find one open and yank the little beard out before it shut up again. But the majority just wouldnt let go!

Anyways... besides the cleaning part... this is SUCH an easy, healthy, and cheap ($6 for 2 lbs!) dinner.

Here's what you need-

2 lbs live mussels
2 cups dry white wine, like Gewuztraminer
1 bunch finely chopped parsley
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp butter
salt to taste


Saute your onions & garlic in the butter until they are soft and begin to become transluscent. Add parsley, and saute briefly, then add wine and bring back to a boil. Once boiling, carefully add the mussels, cover, and simmer until they have all opened.

Serve in big bowls with the cooking juices poured over top, and enjoy with some nice buttery pieces of French bread.

Friday, May 12

Crab & Corn Chowder, Round 1

Last night was round 1 of me trying to recreate the delish crab and corn chowder we had at Cafe Margeux a week ago. This was my first time ever making chowder, and I learned quickly that getting the consistency right isn't as easy as I thought! This one turned out way more watery than the creamy concoction they served us at Margeux... but very much like the photo in Julia's book (recipe wasnt far off from hers either- another from epicurious).. so I guess its a matter of taste.. and I prefer the thick creamy kind. So I'm gonna have to have another go at this one eventually, I tried adding a roux when I realized it wasnt thickening up... but I imagine I would have had to have made a massive amount of it to make a difference, because the bit I added (maybe half a cup).. didnt make a hill of beans! I may just email Cafe Margeux and ask them if they'd be willing to share the recipe... since its not on their regular menu... one can hope! I mean... Meg O'Malley's.. the Irish place in town, had no problem telling us where they get their bangers!

Next time I wont use near as much bacon.. as the flavor is overpowering... I also fried up some onion slices as garnish...

Anyways, on with the recipe!


6 ounces bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, diced
2 1/2 cups bottled clam juice
3 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 pound fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 pound fresh crabmeat, coarsely flaked or chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
4 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning


Sauté bacon in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons bacon fat. Add onion to drippings in saucepan and sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add potatoes and stir until coated. Add clam juice; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 10 minutes.

Add cream, corn, crab, fresh thyme, old bay and half of bacon; cook uncovered until potatoes and corn are tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle chowder equally into 6 bowls. Garnish with remaining bacon and enjoy!.

Creamy Pea Soup

Tuesday I decided to use up the last of the 2 lbs of peas I bought last week, so I made pea soup.

God it was good.

This recipe I modified from Dave loved it, I loved it, leftovers galore... now gone. We had this with leftover roast chicken. And for lunch yesterday with ham sandwiches on some yum olive bread from Publix.

My dad should be happy, because without the cream, this can be vegetarian. =)


2 medium shallots, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 (4-oz) boiling potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 lb frozen baby peas (3 1/2 cups), thawed
1 cup heavy cream (optional)
1 tablespoon crème fraîche or sour cream, either one mixed with 1 teaspoon water


Cook shallots in oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add potato and salt and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add broth and simmer, covered, until potato is tender, about 15 minutes. Add peas and cream and simmer, uncovered, 2 minutes.

Purée in batches in a blender. Reheat soup and season to taste with salt.

Garnish soup with a drizzle of crème fraîche mixture. -My drizzle job was crap!

Thursday, May 11

More cheeese Grommit!

I've officially begun my adventures in cheese. Cheeses outside of my regular choices... usually blues like Stilton, or soft Frenchies like Camembert or Brie...

Todays adventure cheese of choice is Wensleydale!!
Now, I've had Wensleydale before... cheap versions I'm sure.. produced here in the US, overloaded with cranberries so you cant taste it anyways.. and after tasting it, there is a MASSIVE difference. The cheese I scored today is actual Ewes milk Wensleydale! I've spied this little round at our local meat market (which also sells a variety of specialty cheeses) before.. but at $10 a pop... I hadnt sprung for it yet. Today was payday.. so I figured what the heck.

So I plopped the round down on the counter and cut through the thick white wax rind, exposing the cream colored, firm white cheese inside... sniffing it.. a little sweet... tiny crumbles sticking to the knife. The texture is almost grainy at first... and then it softens up in the mouth with a nice mild flavor.... should be excellent with crackers, the way Wallace likes 'em.... or melted on something... mmmm... ideas ideas... they say that sweet smell my sniffer sniffed was a hint of honey flavor.... maybe like wine... my pallette isnt developed enough to taste it, but I can certainly smell it.

After a bit of research I learned that this cheese was introduced by French monks in the 13th century, was originally blue veined (as all great cheeses are.. right?).. and was made from ewes milk. Eventually switching to cows milk, and later loosing the blue vein to become just white... so sad!

So I think this was a successful day in my cheese adventure!

Sunday, May 7

Wine dinner at Cafe Margaux

Friday evening Dave and I went to a wine and menu tasting at a little place in old Cocoa Village called "Cafe Margeux" for one of their monthly wine tasting dinners. I'd never done anything like it before so I was totally stoked about the whole thing.

The entire time I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera... every course that was set in front of me, I'd groan under my breath... "Ugggghhh... why didnt I bring my camera??" So I'll do my best to describe all the yumminess in words... tho I know nothing compares to a picture!

The menu was as follows:

Crab & Corn Chowder with Fried Leeks paired with 2005 Ruffino Orvieto Classico
Now, I'm not sure if it was just because I was starving at this point... or that I love crab, almost as much as I love corn... but as humble a course as this was, it was by far my favorite!! The chowder was a rosey color, with big chunks of potato and crab... garnished with the green bits of leek, fried up like you would get those shoe string onions... very yummy. I've made it my self appointed mission to recreate this chowder. The description the restaurant gives the wine is as follows, it would be better than mine, since I'm pretty sure my pallete for wine isnt quite up to snuff yet... but I am getting better! "Crisp light lemon & pear flavors with a hint of minerality. A well balanced finish." .. I am no big fan of white wines, but I did actually enjoy this one... better than all the other whites we had that night.

Fennel & Watercress with Ratatouille
Tat Soy & Frisée with Pine Nuts
Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette paired with
2004 Ruffino "Lumina" Pinot Grigio

I agreed with Dave on this one... "wasn't too fussed with this one".. the frisee was pretty bitter... tho they said the Pinot Grigio took the bite away... I was still pretty hungry at this point and couldnt bring myself to take a sip of wine between each bite... hehehe... such an ameteur I know! But there were pine nuts... so it scored points for that! The whole thing was pretty much just jumbled together as salads do, on top of the Tat Soy which was sort of fanned out underneath. The restaurants description of the wine... "Light bodied straw gold in color with apple, pineapple, mango
& lemon zest flavors."

Soft Shell Crab with Spicy Cognac Sauce
Scallion Risotto paired with 2003 Ruffino "La Solatia" Chadonnay

Presentation on this one was okay... little scooped mound of Risotto with the crab set sort of askew against it. This one was really fantastic til we got to the body of the crab... the shell was pretty much inedible... sort of like trying to eat shrimp shells.... the legs and claws were perfect though, too bad. Also found the sauce to be more sweet than spicey.... The chardonnay was also WAY sweet for my taste... its too bad.. this was the course I was most looking forward to!

Sliced Pheasant with Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey
Sweet Potato & Chipollini Pancakes paired with
2000 Ruffino "Modus"

This course lifted my spirits after the two previous didnt quite do it for us! The pheasant was wonderfully tender, and the honey sauce was an interesting change... complimented the pancakes well I thought, the whole thing went together really well and all the flavors seemed new to me. Little orange potato cakes, surrounded by the red honey sauce.. with slices of pheasant fanned out along one side. Red wine also came into the picture at this point so that made things even better!

Veal Rib Chop Scented with Sage
Wild Mushroom Beggars Purse
Pinot Noir Reduction paired with 2001 Ruffino Chianti Classico "Riserva Gold"

As much as I hate to say it, this course was such a let down!! 2 veal chops, leaning against a really cute little wonton-like purse tied shut with a chive... presentation on this one was splendid. The flavors were nice, but the textures were off... the mushrooms for one, tasted like they were reconsituted dried mushrooms that hadnt quite been soaked long enough.. and the veal, undercooked even for my taste, and I like rare... this was jiggly... if you catch my drift! BUT... the wine saved the day for me in this one.. I am a sucker for Chianti, and this was a nice one... I was thrilled to find it being sold at an Italian specialty shop nearby this morning! Yay!

And last but definitely not least..
Bittersweet Chocolate Tarte
Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake paired with 2004 Robert Mondavi Moscato d’Oro

ooohhhhh...... this one was just sinful... a massive wedge of bittersweet sponge layered with chocolate mousse... so decadent Dave and I couldnt finish them... sadly the remaining halves still sit in the fridge! I'd never had Moscato before, it was very sweet, but I'm starting to think these people knew what they were doing, because the bitterness of the chocolate in the cake really worked with the super sweet wine. haha!

They did give us an after dinner liquor...Alexander "Platinum" Grappa
If you've never had Grappa before... I highly DONT suggest it... the only description that comes to mind is... hmmm... PAINT THINNER! Basically the stuff is made of all the junk wineries can't use in wine... the skin, leaves, seeds, and stems of grapes... tastes just as lovely as it sounds.. yes! I couldnt help but giggle listening to the other diners around us commenting on it... "This stuff is like lighter fluid.."... and "Don't knock over the candle.." were all I could hear within earshot. hehehe.

But even though every course didnt meet my probably too high expectations, I enjoyed the whole thing enough to want to do it again next month! =)

Friday, May 5

Newky Brown Pork

This one, I am proud to say, is completely my own lovechild.

First it was a simple pan fried pork chop, then a pork chop simmered in broth after frying... then I said... hmm.. "You look thirsty pork chop, have some beer" Newcastle Brown Ale is the drink of choice in this house (when we're not drinking wine!), so that is what the pork got... and lo and behold.. it made happy pork!

I decided to try another recipe from epicurious, smashed potatoes and peas, I thought they turned out nicely. Also made wine & honey poached pears, but we still haven't tried them, theyre in the fridge chillin.

So anyways, on with my recipe! =)


* 2 teaspoons salt
* 1 teaspoon dried sage
* 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 2 pork chops or loin chops
* 7 mushrooms, sliced
* 1 bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale
* 2 tablespoons butter
* olive oil
* 1 cup water
* 1 cup pork or beef broth


1. Combine the salt, sage and black pepper in a small bowl and rub on both sides of the chops. Melt the butter and a tiny bit of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and saute the pork and mushrooms for 5 minutes per side, or until well browned.... I will sometimes add additional olive oil if things start looking like theyre drying out.

2. Add hot broth and Newcastle to the pork, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

3. Once cooked, remove the pork from the pan and place somewhere warm. Reduce the sauce in the pan to gravylike consistency, using a bit of cornstarch mixed with warm water as a cheater if you like!

Serve with potatoes, or greens, or potatoes AND greens... mmmmm.

Thursday, May 4

Balsamic Chicken

Dinner last night, Lunch today.

One of the fruits of my playtime in the kitchen last night was my dinner, with leftovers for lunch today for Dave and I -which I think is nice left cold over some salad greens. Its a dish I seem to make often, since most of the ingredients are always on hand, and it's easy in a pinch. Last night I had this with some simple roast potato wedges and salad.


* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
* 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
* 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
* 1 red bell pepper, sliced
* 1 small onion, quartered


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

2. In a decent size casserole dish, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Place chicken in the dish, and marinate 5 minutes.

3. Place red bell pepper, onion, in the baking dish, and toss to coat.

4. Place the chicken and vegetables in the preheated oven. Bake chicken for 20 minutes, or until juices run clear. Remove rosemary sprigs before serving.

I love cheese & I love peas

So imagine my excitement when I spied this recipe over at Seven Spoons the other day! Yesterday after work I decided, since Dave's mum has returned to the UK, to take an evening to myself to play in the kitchen. I would be alone, since Dave had his first night in the 8-ball league, which meant I could reek complete havoc in the kitchen.... and did I ever! So I whipped up some Pea and ricotta crostini... which tasted devine... although it didnt end up quite as firm as hers.. mayhaps I cooked my peas too long, or added too much olive oil.... I will try again next time =) Instead of parmesan, I used a couple of shards of Asiago. The photos a bit crap I know, but that's why I have a new one on my wishlist. ;-)

Wednesday, May 3

No foie gras for you!

Sucks to be you if you're a foodie in Chicago!

Apparently, in some lame act of political posturing in the name of "animal rights", a ban of foie gras in Chicago, selling and serving, has gone through. Chicago is awefully far away, but whats done in one place is often done in another... and another.... a bit disturbing that the goverment now tells you what to eat... because its "inhumane"....

What about veal? Oh wait... "beef... its whats for dinner".... and the masses of chickens, stacked in cages, beaks lopped off to prevent them from pecking eachother to death from lack of space? Oh no, gotta keep that price down on your 99cent semi-chicken McWhopper....

"Ald. Joe Moore (49th), sponsor of the first-in-the-nation ban, said it sends "a powerful message that we uphold the value of a civilized society." ...

Right.... civilized.... a civilized society where a double beef patty on a toasted bun is the idea of haute cuisine!

I mean I don't eat foie gras often... twice in my life actually... but I do know I love it... and its a special treat... something the majority of the world recognizes as one of earths most wonderful gastronomical pleasures..... and if I ever get a little craving for it... I'd like to know I can get it... without having to leave the country...

In this country on a daily basis Americans eat animals who are raised in far worse conditions than those of the foie gras producing geese and ducks...


Tuesday, May 2

pídàn shòuròu zhou

Also known as congee.... or to be more specific, pork and century egg congee. There is a Chinese joint in Orlando called Chan's that serves an authentic Chinese dim-sum in the morning to early afternoon. On any given Sunday you can expect to have to wait for a seat for up to a half hour. I was introduced to this place by my old room mate Kin, from Hong Kong, who would often come here with his grandfather for some good "home style" nosh.

Needless to say I was hooked, and it wasnt long before I was trying to deconstruct the amazing array of flavors that I was experiencing there... namely their congee. I would sit in anticipation every time I went to Chan's... scoping out the ever elusive soup cart.... harassing the already swamped waiters, "zhou?".. and then 2 seconds later, "zhou? rice soup?" Sometimes I'd get it... sometimes I wouldnt... so I decided to set out on my own personal mission to crack this recipe, scouring the net and books for references. After several attempts, none quite measuring up... this weekend I finally nailed it.... the difference being short grain rice, and about an extra hour and a half cooking time to accomplish that velvety texture I enjoyed so much at Chan's. I still have some char siu left over... I'm going to make more this Sunday... can't wait.

So here you have it... my recipe for pork and century egg congee!


* 1 cup short grain rice
* 8 cups water
* 1 pork boullion
* 2 cups char siu or roast pork, cut into small cubes
* 2 century eggs - hard boiled
* 6 scallions
* 1 tbsp vegetable oil


1. Rinse rice and place into a large pot. Add vegetable oil to rice, mix, and let soak for 10 mins.

2. Meanwhile, chop scallions into small rings.

3. Add 6 cups of water, pork boullion, char siu, whites and some greens of scallions, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 1.5 hours, stirring frequently.

4. Dice hardboiled century eggs into small cubes.

5. After 1.5 hours add remaining water and century eggs and continue cooking until the congee is at a thickness you prefer, stirring often, approx another 1.5 hours.

6. Serve hot in small bowls, garnished with a drop of oyster sauce, chopped scallion greens and small slices of yau ja gwai (fried chinese bread stick, or chinese crullers - you can get these in most Asian Markets, in the frozen section)

Black & Tan

I couldnt help but giggle a little when I ran across this story on Ben & Jerry's new flavor ice Cream, Black & Tan. But it makes one wonder.... what do they call a Black & Tan in Ireland? Does an Irishman get offended when someone haplessly wanders into their pubs and orders a Black & Tan? I think this is kind of important to know! It was this sort of PCness that put an end to my all time favorite Ben & Jerry flavor "British Invasion"! They didnt even release it under a new name once they yanked it off the shelves... and if they did, I never learned of its new guise!

Dave and I scored ourselves a pint of this evil militia ice cream concoction just the other night actually.... unfortunately, we were a bit disapointed in its lack of any resemblance to stout whatsoever.... oh well... there is always beerimisu...

I love cheese

I love cheese. I don't know near enough about cheese as I would like to... or as much as I pretend I do. I took this photo at a random fromagerie in Paris.... I couldnt tell you what a single one is, save maybe that brie... it is a brie there right? I know I am a huge fan of a strong pungent cheese... Stilton has had my heart for years, but blues is about as far as my knowledge of cheeses goes. This, I think will be my personal little mission for a while.... expand my pallette on what in my opinion is one of man's most wonderful foodstuff.

MMmmm.... cheese......

Monday, May 1

And it Begins...

I've decided it's time. Time to start my very own food crazed blog. My own little corner of the web to blather on and on about anything and everything food. Restaurants, recipes, my ruthless experiments in the kitchen on my deer sweet, and ever eager guinnea pig Dave. Hope someone out there will enjoy what is to come!