A Brit, a Yank and a Kitchen

Thursday, December 28

Hungry for a month

Remember a few months back when I posted about Dave and I going on a grocery budget (due to TWO mortgages!! >_<).. and then went on my raging fit about how horribly a person has to eat with so little money? And how its just impossible to eat healthy.. and how jacked up society is.. etc etc... (hey it was a bad day)...

Dave just sent me this link to this guys blog. It is absolutely fascinating. He challenged himself to live off of (well... feed himself off of) no more than $1 a day, and blogged about it. It is also a bit inspiring to try a similar challenge... I'm sure my tastebuds are too spoiled to eat nothing but ramen and rice for a month... but you seriously cant beat an $8 grocery bill for a week! O_O

Anways... thought some of you out there in foodie land would appreciate this one! =)

Tuesday, December 19

Curried Pumpkin Soup

This is the curry pumpkin soup I have listed on my wedding menu. =) I've made this soup for years now and it always just hits the spot, especially at this time of year. If youre feeling especially adventurous... serve the soup in little individual hollowed out pumpkins.... or serve from one very large pumpkin (might want to line the pumpkin with plastic to prevent leaking!! (learned this one the hard way!!)

This recipe is so rediculously simple.

Although this is most easily made with canned pumpkin.. it works just as well with most pureed squash... particularly butternut! =) MMM!


* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1 onion, finely chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed
* 1 tablespoon curry powder
* 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
* 3 cups chicken broth
* salt & pepper to taste


Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until onions are transluscent. Add curryand stir until fragrant.

Stir pumpkin, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Puree soup.. or serve chunky style ;-).

Serve with a dallop of sour cream.

Tuesday, December 12

Meatloaf Meatloaf Double Beatloaf

There is a fellow at work... and all we ever talk about is what we cook... or what we've eaten... and we both look at eachother in wonder and ask, "How is it you dont weigh 300 pounds?"

So he told me that last night, he made a meatloaf. I honestly couldnt tell you the last time... if ever... I've craved meatloaf. But as he described his jalepeno infused meaty masterpiece... I was suddenly struck with inspiration.

Mind you, I've never made a meatloaf on my own... and the last time I was near one was probably when I was a kid and my mom passed the "dirty work" of mixing everything together to me. So I needed a good recipe... and who better to turn to than good ol' Alton Brown?

I've decided Alton Brown is the food God. I am going to make a little altar to him and hang it over the stove... sort of like the Chinese kitchen God.

Dave told me it was "the best meatloaf he's ever had".... okay well granted he says he's only ever had meatloaf once before... EVER.

Log o meat.

But I agreed... it was also the best meatloaf I've ever had as well (sorry mom!!). Some of the methods seemed strange to me... first there seemed to be a HUGE amount of veggie vs meat going into it... but omg it worked. I was also confused reading the recipe that it wasnt baked in a loaf pan. It took a little bit of online investigating to figure out why.. and the reason is to keep the loaf from stewing in its own juices. Dry heat = good.

I wouldnt change a thing about this recipe. Nada. It was that good.

Alton Brown's Meatloaf


6 ounces garlic-flavored croutons
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and broken
3 whole cloves garlic
1/2 red bell pepper
18 ounces ground chuck
18 ounces ground sirloin
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 egg

For the glaze:
1/2 cup catsup
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Dash hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon honey


Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a food processor bowl, combine croutons, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and thyme. Pulse until the mixture is of a fine texture. Place this mixture into a large bowl. Combine the onion, carrot, garlic, and red pepper in the food processor bowl. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped, but not pureed. Combine the vegetable mixture, ground sirloin, and ground chuck with the bread crumb mixture. Season the meat mixture with the kosher salt. Add the egg and combine thoroughly, but avoid squeezing the meat.

Pack this mixture into a 10-inch loaf pan to mold the shape of the meatloaf. Onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, turn the meatloaf out of the pan onto the center of the tray. Insert a temperature probe at a 45 degree angle into the top of the meatloaf. Avoid touching the bottom of the tray with the probe. Set the probe for 155 degrees.

Combine the catsup, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and honey. Brush the glaze onto the meatloaf after it has been cooking for about 10 minutes.

Saturday, December 9

Chicken with Stilton and Grilled Pears

Believe it or not, I got this recipe out of a diet cook book! O_O I've been cooking out of this book quite a bit for the last few weeks, as Dave and I are trying to eat more healthy.. and I have been trying to adjust my cooking style from heavy cream and butter, without sacrificing quality for crap diet recipes designed for people who are trying to break themselves from McDogfood.

So far every recipe I've tried has been very good.. although I think I might get burnt out of tomatoes soon! ;-) This one, thankfully.. didnt call for a single tomato.. AND... I got to use blue cheese. The original recipe calls for Roquefort.. but I had Stilton on hand... so that is what I used. =)

I also roasted some acorn squash since it looks so yummy and tempting sitting there in produce.. just saying.. "eat me! eat me!"..... what? Squashes dont talk to you?

Anyhoo.. this is a modification of the original, & scaled down for 2.. but still just as healthy! =)


1 large chicken breast, cut in half
2 T Stilton
.5 C fat free yogurt
a quarter of a red onion, diced
1 scallion, chopped
ground white pepper
kosher salt
1 pear, cut into 6 slices
lemon juice


For the sauce, combine yogurt, onion, scallion, white pepper, and Stilton in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cover the sliced pear with lemon juice.

Salt and pepper the chicken breast and grill until cooked, adding the pears to the grill once the chicken is about half way done.

Serve with the Stilton sauce spooned over top of the chicken and pears and enjoy! =)

Wednesday, December 6

Rajya Metok - Tibetan Yak Cheese

The Tibetans have a name for yaks which roughly translates into "a wish granting gem that gives you everything you want."

The cheese itself may not be an old tradition... but the culture and people it breathes new life into is perhaps older than all of cheesemaking history. The yaks that produce this cheese have been grazing on the same pasturelands for over 40,000 years.. grazing naturally on dozens of plants and flowers growing in pure, unpolluted soil.

I think its pretty common knowledge that the people of Tibet have a hard fight to keep their culture and traditions alive... and the particular group of Tibetan nomads who produce the milk for this cheese are just that sort. With the Chinese invasion.. much of their culture was repressed.. their yaks were taken... their lifeblood.. generations of livelyhood... lost. In the 80's, the yaks were returned.. but much was forgotten. So along comes a monk with a vision to link the nomads back to their yaks... and at the same time be able to be self-sustained. And that vision was cheese. Sounds like my kinda monk!

From what I understand this is a very very new cheese... targeted specifically to a Western palate... the Tibetans themselves typically only use yak dairy for butter, yogurt, milk and apparently a very sour short lived cheese. But if this is a way to help give these people the ability to live the way they are accustomed to and preserve their traditions.. and I gain some yummy cheese out of it.. I am totally in.

So I totally rambled about that didnt I? I sort of accidentally stumbled upon this stuff on igourmet while shopping for some cheeses.... I was intrigued... and decided to do a little research. Not only is the cause behind the cheese a righteous one... but the cheese, and the cheesemaking process is like a curd-nerds dream come true. Animals free to roam under the sun, chewing happily on whatever their tastebuds drive them to... hand-milked by nomads who have been doing so for thousands of years.

So youre probably wondering how on earth it tasted? Just like that... it tastes of the earth. Dave looked at me like I was nuts when I told him it smelled almost like the inside of a stable.. hay... the musky scent of a large cloven animal. The texture is hard and grainy... much like a pecorino. Definitely a grating cheese. It does not melt on the tongue.. rather it sort of begins to crumble, and from what I read it has to do with the unique protein content in the cheese since the dri (a female yak) produces a milk with twice the protein and minerals of cow's milk. The flavor is very mild and milky at first... but give it a moment and the flavor intensifies into sharp and sweet. The lingering flavors afterwards are earthy, milky... perhaps even a little minty.

In the back is our wedge of yak cheese... we tasted this tonight with a Valençay we also ordered from igourmet.. I could do so much damage at that place I tell ya!

I definitely recommend this cheese to anyone who wants to enjoy a wonderful pure cheese steeped in a bit of a different sort of tradition.

Order your own.

Some cool info packed links:
World Tibet Network News

Sunday, December 3

Raglan Road - Downtown Disney

Last night we met up with some friends who were visiting from Blackpool England. They visit about every other year.. ever since I was about 11 years old when I became penpals with the daughter (Sarah) of the family. I always look forward to their visits, although we all make it a point to keep in touch during the time in between. Now, Sarahs husband has an aversion to food that isnt "normal"... (i.e. non-Brit fare)... so I suggested that we give Raglan Road a try. Its a new place in Downtown Disney (they always stay at Disney)... and one that Dave and I hadnt tried before... (I pride myself in having tried just about every single restaurant at Disney ;-))

Like most restaurants they brought out some bread for starters... nice dense soda bread... but for dipping they gave us a "Guiness & Honey Reduction with Olive Oil". It tasted more of honey than anything, but I thought it balanced out the soda bread nicely... although it was a bit disapointing considering how cool it sounded.

I ordered the Shepherds Pie... the presentation was fantastic! Unfortunately the flavors didnt impress me as much. The menu read that the mince was supposed to be beef and lamb... and honestly I tasted no lamb at all. But... it was pretty!!

Dave ordered Fish & Chips... his comment was.. "eh". We agreed that the Fish & Chips are better at the Rose & Crown in EPCOT. Though... they were presented nicely too.. complete in paper wrapper.

The dessert on the other hand was fantastic. We ordered and shared a sampler... and judging by how we all attacked it at once, we all enjoyed the bread & butter pudding the most. Served complete with its own little jugs of two sauces, Vanilla Creme Anglais.. and a butterscotch caramelly thing that I didnt touch cause I'm not the biggest butterscotch fan. Besides the bread pudding was vanilla ice cream with raspberries in a yummy little cookie shell... and a chocolate mousse. All were fantastic.. but I'm stickin with the bread pudding!

Service was ok... our waitress was attentive, but the girl who brought out the dessert just plopped it down in front of us without explaining the different sauces. We had to wait for the waitress to come back and explain them. Also a warning that an 18% tip is added to the bill for parties of 6 or more. Well more than I would tip if I had been given poor service.

All in all though the time was enjoyable.. the atmosphere is nice, dark and ambient.. I also noted that parties with small children were all seated in one isolated section of the restaurant.. I liked that! The food was presented beautifully... altho the flavors fell just short of what I would anticipate after catching sight of my leaning tower of Shepherds Pie.