A Brit, a Yank and a Kitchen

Thursday, September 28

Habaneros Anyone?

These are some of the habs that a fellow at my work has been donating to me over the past few days. Apparently he has a plant almost as large as I am that produces masses of these angry little buggers, so many that he can't give them away. Well... I changed that. haha!

I made a pot of what we've dubbed "Angry Nosebleed Salsa".. since it literally gave our friend Greg a nosebleed. I plan on making a few more batches of it up and jarring it... giving it to unsuspecting friends. MUAHAHAA.

I've also tossed several into the freezer... with unkown future destinations.

I am also drying out a bunch.... Dave naively took a nibble off the tip of one of the dried ones thinking the process might mellow their fury.... hehe. That was fun. I'm hoping to harvest some seeds from some of the dried ones as well... so I can grow my own shrub of death.

Another plan I have... that I am hoping to tackle in the next week.. is to make a blueberry habanero sauce.

Gonna pickle some too....

I'm starting to feel like the Bubba Gump of Habaneros. Pickled habaneros, blueberry habaneros, habanero hot sauce, dried habaneros, habanero salsa....

Monday, September 25

Steak @ Gregs

Yesterday we were invited over to our friend Gregs for his often bragged about steaks. His uber high top secret recipe... which from what I understand makes up the bulk of his diet... obviously means he has had a LOT of practice making these steaks. And ooooh boy did it show.

He marinated the steaks for 30 hours in his concoction, which tenderizes the meat and adds a rich strong flavor. He then cooks them over a high flame... letting the flames lick the meat... making the fat on the edges crisp up oh so yummily.

The meat just literally melted in the mouth with a burst of flavor. Crispy on the outside, soft and buttery on the inside. I wish I had leftovers. I couldnt believe I ate the whole thing. We had his steaks with a family recipe of baked (grill baked in his case) potatoes, which are covered in bacon and salt... which gives the skin a nice flavorful crisp. Bacon on the OUTSIDE of a potato! I'd never thought of that! It worked!

My contribution to the feast was some very very angry salsa made from a couple of the massive mound of habaneros a friend at work gave to me (I'll be making a post about those tomorrow).

All in all, good food, good company. Even the dog was sleepy from a full and content belly. ;-)

Friday, September 22

Garlic Shrimp Linguini with a Creamy Blue Cheese Sauce

I had a sizable wedge of Stilton I needed to find a use for.... my mom gave us a box of linguini over the weekend... and I have some frozen shrimp.... so I decided to combine these things for our dinner last night. I thought it was pretty nice... very strong tangy blue cheese flavor. Plus it made the kitchen smell soooo nice. Definitely not something you would want to eat though if you dont like blue cheese!


3 cloves of garlic, minced
a big chunk of blue cheese (we used Stilton)
a buncha shrimp (12-16?)
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1/5 cup white wine
1 cup cream
olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with warm water
fresh or dried parsley
cooked linguini (or any other pasta)
salt and pepper to taste

Sautee garlic in butter and olive oil in a large deep pan for a minute or so, and add shrimp. When shrimp are cooked remove them and place them somewhere to keep warm. Deglaze pan with the wine and let simmer for a minute to cook off alcohol. Add cream, and return to a simmer, stirring constantly, add cheese until melted. Add parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Add cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened. Toss the sauce with your pasta, arranging shrimp on top. Sprinkle pine nuts all over. And enjoy!!! =)

Thursday, September 21

What Happened to Real Food?

I've been reading a book called Real Food, and it has catapulted me into a keen interest in.. well.. REAL foods... and our complete lack of access to it!

So much of it is treated like a drug trade.... deviants meeting at exits off of highways, or at gas station parking lots.... exchanging the contraband that is raw dairy. Why is it that buying or selling a natural foodstuff, that since the dawn of time has been our natural right... is now a crime? Stories of armed inspectors raiding raw dairy farms as though they were drug labs, farmers being treated as nothing more than crack dealers, run rampant..

Then, meats we humans have been eating for centuries... foie gras, horse.. both recently seeing bans across the country all in the name of "animal rights". But wait.... as an example many of the horses consumed were pet horses or retired race horses who were on their way to their end anyways. These animals for the most part lived healthy lives, were able to run and graze. Why waste? Is that the better end? Sure, I agree it sounds cruel to put poor old Blackie on the dinner plate... but his life was probably by far a better one than that of the chickens who are caged so tightly together that their beaks must be lopped off to keep them from pecking eachother... or the highly intelligent pigs, who's natural instinct is to dig and roll in earth... are intstead caged over hard cold concrete. Cows milked so dry that their skin hangs from their bodies, never even seeing the light of day.... It makes one wonder what is REALLY the driving force here. Why is the government telling us what we can and can eat? They tell us it is for our own health, for ethical and moral reasons... but if that is so why is nothing done about the mass meat farms? Why then do I have the choice to eat nothing but McWhoppers my entire life? Concerned for my health indeed....

Not to mention the industry that is mass produced produce. I've learned that it is near impossible to find farm co-ops in my area... simply because local farmers have been run out... farmers who's families have been farming for centuries now have to turn to something else, as there is no competition for the giant that is the big industrial farms producing and shipping unripened produce to your local walmart. why pay $1 for that floret of broccoli, rasied lovingly in rich soil, picked at its peak, full of nutrition and flavor from a local farm... when you can get a something that looks like broccoli and kinda tastes like broccoli, grown in poor sick soil, ripped from the earth by some great machine long before it should be - shipped to where you can buy it at your local supertore for 20 cents?? It might not be as nutritious, or tastey, but it fills you up, and thats what matters most right? Seems like thats all that matters anymore.

Tuesday, September 19

Chicken Piccata

So, we officially had our first "real" home cooked meal in the house last night!

I do prefer my tried and true recipe for Chicken Piccata, I dug up the old original I found online a while back... and remodified it to the way I do it below. ;-) This recipe was what I came to trying to make something similar to the chicken piccata at Cheesecake Factory that I love so much. =)


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, flattened with a mallet
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
1/4 cup cream
2 tbsp capers


In a shallow dish or bowl, mix together flour, salt and paprika. In a separate dish or bowl mix together egg and milk. Dip chicken pieces in egg mixture, then in seasoned flour.

In a large skillet, heat butter or margarine over medium high heat. Saute chicken pieces until golden brown. Add mushrooms and saute for 3 to 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl combine the broth, wine, lemon juice and cornstarch. Mix together and pour mixture over chicken and mushrooms. Reduce heat to medium low and let chicken mixture simmer for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Add cream and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Add capers in the last moments. Serve over angel hair pasta! mmm! =)

Friday, September 15

First Night in the New House

So last night Dave and I spent our first night in our new house. It was a blast, so exciting! There is no furniture in the house yet, so we threw blankets all over the bedroom floor, it made for one massive bed! ;-) The cat has placed us on her blacklist, and has taken up the pantry as her center of operations.

Of course first order was to get the important part all set up, THE KITCHEN!!!

We popped our bottle of Moet, and enjoyed it with an incredibly romantic dinner of..... Zatarains Smothered Chicken!!! Thats right folks! We spared no expense!

Here's a couple shots:

View of the Great Room

View out the Living Room Window

Needless to say it might be a few before I can make another post... we will be moving all weekend, but I'll post as soon as I cook our first proper meal in the house! =)

Oh, did I mention Dave carried me across the thresh-hold the first time we entered the finished house? hehehe *^_^*

Tuesday, September 12

Filet au Poivre

Dave won 4 Omaha Steak Co. filets from some convention he registered for online... in the end he didnt go, but hey, free steak is free steak eh?

So I used 2 of them tonight to prepare Dave's favorite, Filet au Poivre.

I've made this once before, but massacred the sauce.... I am getting better at sauce making however, and tonights was joyfully a complete success!! =)

I got my original recipe from Saveur (ironically, who I worked for as their web designer from 99-01). I modified it a tiny bit to fit my now forming cooking style and available ingredients.;-)

I can't stress the importance of making sure your meat is room temperature before you cook it. I'm not sure at what point I realized this... but I really think it is a common mistake, and causes the meat to cook very un-evenly. I imagine many people wonder why they cant get their steaks to cook like the ones they have in restaurants.... I know I used to!

2 tbsp. whole white peppercorns
2 beef filets, each about 1 1/2'' thick
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef broth
1/4 cup heavy cream

1. Coarsely crush peppercorns in a mortar and pestle. Press peppercorns into both sides of each filet using the heel of your hand, then season to taste with salt.

2. Heat oil and butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add filets and cook until a good thick crust has formed, about 3 minutes. Turn filets and reduce heat to medium. Add 4 tbsp. butter and cook filets 3 minutes more, for medium-rare, basting with the buttery juices as you go. Transfer filets to an oven safe plate, and place in an oven set at 350 degrees, cook until the internal temperature reaches 130.

3. Add wine to skillet to deglaze and cook until alcohol has burned off, about 1 minute. Whisk in brothand continue whisking until sauce thickens and emulsifies. Boil for 1 minute more, adding cream in the last moments... then spoon over filets.

OMG this is so good. The best way to prepare steak imo.

We also tried a new wine (to us) tonight... Clancy's 2003 Shiraz blend. I first spied this in the most recent issue of Wine Spectator, and when I saw it at the market today, my decission was made. Can't beat the $13 price tag either. I'm not much of a wine critic... I thought I tasted a hint of plum... or something.... anyways we enjoyed it... one of these days I'll figure out how to be a good wine enthusiast. ;-) For now, I just know what I like and know what I dont.. and this one... well it was quite nice.

Monday, September 11

Authentic Chicken Teriyaki

Alot of people think Teriyaki is defined by the sauce that is poured over veg, meat.. and has nothing to do with the method. I am guilty of this myself.

A few months back I purchased a book called Japanese Homestyle Cooking, which is actually a Japanese cookbook, translated into English. It doesnt get much more authentic than that. This book is quickly becomnig one of my favorite cookbooks, especially when I want something quick and easy.. but a bit exotic at the same time.

Here follows this fantastic recipe for real chicken teriyaki, like your Japanese grandma used to make.... err..... yea.

2 large chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
4 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs mirin
1 Tbs sugar

Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.
Dredge each piece lightly in cornstarch, and panfry in some oil in a skillet until browned on all sides.

Add the soy sauce and ginger, mirin and sugar. Lower the heat and cook, turning several times, until the sauce is reduced and thick.

Of course youve got to have this with some Japanese rice, and some miso soup. We also had some stir-fried veg with this.

So much yummier than just pouring some bottled teriyaki over a piece of grilled chicken.

Sunday, September 10

The Perfect Breakfast

Funny story.

It is important that you first read this post over at C For Cooking, and my comment.

I never did end up mentioning this post to Dave..... and this morning, he decided to make me breakfast in bed. I woke up to him hovering over me with a plate of scrambled eggs on toast, which looked suspsiciously similar to the ones Jeff posted. Due to my phobia of eating things in bed (crumbs!!!) I ended up taking it out to the dining room, and what did I spy on the stove??

A saucepan! Crazy Brits and their saucepan scrambled eggs!! Experiment accomplished!

Thursday, September 7

Chicken & Chanterelle Mushrooms

Yesterday while driving past the produce place in town, I noticed their sign advertising fresh chanterelles. I am a sucker for wild mushrooms... I couldnt resist... I'm like a fly to light... helplessly drawn to the earthy fungi.

I had a very specific recipe in mind... I knew what ingredients I wanted to use... wine, cream.... but I wasnt sure how to execute it... so I rummaged around online and melded a couple different ones I found together and came up with this.

Frying the chicken with its skin on adds lots of crispy texture..mmm.... meat is ALWAYS so much better with the bones... and skin!!

It was so good. The house still smells beautifully mushroomy.

Chicken & Chantrelle Mushrooms

2 whole chicken breasts, with skin and bone in
1/4 lb chanterelle mushrooms
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp dried parsley
2 tbsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Melt about 1 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan... lightly flour your chicken, and fry on both sides for about 5 mins on each side... adding more butter as necessary. Remove chicken and place on a plate with a little olive oil drizzled over top and stick in the oven at 375 with a thermometer inserted, and cook until it the internal temp reaches around 160. Remove, and let rest for about 5 mins.

Meanwhile, in the leftover fat in your pan that you fried the chicken in, add onions, garlic and mushrooms and sautee til the onions start to go transparent. Add wine to deglaze, then the broth, parsley and thyme. Cover and let simmer until you take the chicken out. While the chicken is resting, turn the heat up a bit on the mushrooms, uncover and let the sauce thicken.... adding cream in the end. Drizzle the mushroom sauce over the chicken and enjoy.

We had this with some fresh green beans.

Monday, September 4

Fancy Pants Breakfast

I posted this recipe a few months back, after having dreamt about it.. literally.

I decided to make it again... this time, I modified it a little... used bigger tomatoes, and added mozzarella. Still very yum. I find it hard to believe I'm the only one who has thought of this??

Its pretty simple really.... cut the tops off two large tomatoes. Scoop all the filling out so youre left with a little nifty tomato bowl. Salt generously inside, and turn upside down to draw out the moisture for about 15 mins. Pat insides with a paper towel.

Place the tomato bowls onto a lightly oiled baking sheet and fill about 1/4 of the way with shredded mozzarella. Carefully break the egg into the tomato.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 30 mins. Garnish with some chopped green onions.

Arrange fancily like I did if you want to pretend you run and fancy pants B&B like Dave and I were this morning.

Sunday, September 3

Price Family Biscuits & Gravy

The sanity of my moms side of the family has always been questionable... and this breakfast is a prime example of where things go a bit awry... in an oh so wonderful way.

Dave calls this "stodge on a plate".
You wont need to eat for the remainder of the day after this one.

This breakfast was the only way my mom could get my sister and I out of bed on weekend mornings... and today, she uses it to bribe us to come visit. It is always an ordeal when this breakfast is made.... everyone jumps in and starts tearing everything... bacon, biscuits, eggs into little bits, tossing them into a big bowl (in my moms case, into the big "bowl we're never gonna use", named that because when my mom wanted to buy it, my dad said to her, "We're never gonna use that bowl!")

It is important that you do not use real, home-made biscuits....
ok.. maybe you should...

WHAT?? you ask!? OMG! Blasphemy! Yes, that's right... all the way back to my grandma, we've been using those little tubed pilsbury biscuits. I think its these biscuits imperfections that makes them perfect for our biscuits and gravy. Fresh biscuits are too light and fluffy... they wont hold their own against all the other ingredients and eventually fall apart into mush. Trust me.. I've tried. If it aint broke, dont fix it. Besides, the crown jewel of this breakfast is the gravy!

4 poached eggs
6 pieces of fried bacon
6 large pilsbury biscuits
3 tablespoons flour
"alot" of milk (my mom's exact words when I asked her for a measurement)
pepper and salt to taste

Tear everything up and throw it into a big bowl.

Dave busy at work on this most difficult, finger searing step.

In your pan with the rendered bacon fat, add the flour and stir constantly to make a roux. Stir until nice and smooth. Add milk... I'd say 2 cups at least to start.. and keep adding more until it is to the thickness you like. Never stop stirring. Add pepper and salt to taste... sometimes a bit of Mrs Dash.


Once the gravy is done, pour it over the bits in the big bowl, and stir everything together. Eat.

Find a place to take a nap.