Archive for July 2009


Everyone Loves Salsa!

July 31st, 2009 — 9:37am

door-county-014I may have mentioned this past Wednesday’s concert on the square was the final concert of the series. Six weeks go by way too fast. I seriously don’t know what I will do with myself on Wednesday evenings moving forward, and also how I will get myself through another year before the series starts up again next June. door-county-010

But one thing is for certain—I will carry forward the iron chef challenge throughout the year. I’m guessing maybe one per month…perhaps apples in September, squash in October, turkey in November…clearly the ideas are churning. We may lack the Madison symphony orchestra, temperatures in the mid-70’s, and the beautiful capitol square setting, but the great food and good company will continue.

This week’s ingredient was corn. Interestingly, for the first time, everyone ended up bringing the same dish—salsa. Clearly, many variations to chose from…door-county-004door-county-012door-county-011

And hilariously, Julie also brought candy corn. I think she wins this week’s challenge. That took some brains and creativity. And I can personally attest that it’s not easy to find seasonably inappropriate candy. Also…my god, we were popping those candy corns like crack addicts.

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I also want to give props to everyone who joined me for this year’s series. I had a blast, and certainly appreciated that so many of you took the time to come out and humor me by participating in the weekly iron chef challenge. It was great to hang out with all of you and enjoy our fabulous culinary creations. Until the next iron chef challenge…

1 comment » | Kristin's Kitchen, Madtown Lovin'

Spicy Watermelon & Corn Salsa

July 31st, 2009 — 9:24am

door-county-005For this week’s iron-chef corn challenge, I picked a recipe for Spicy Watermelon and Corn Salsa. The weird part is that I don’t even like watermelon—not even a little bit. But I had trouble coming up with a corn dish that was a) interesting and unique, and b) picnic appropriate. The spicy watermelon corn salsa was the first recipe I found that seemed to fit the bill. It also sounded refreshing and light—perfect for a July picnic.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the salsa and the mix of sweet and spiciness. Even the watermelon hater in me thought it was pretty good. But I thought someone else would appreciate the leftovers more than I would, so I bottled up the remaining salsa and gave a jar to my friend Kim as a mid-week snack.door-county-0171 Following is the recipe.

Definitely not your average salsa, this wonderful watermelon and corn salsa stands apart from the tomato variety. A little spicy, a little sweet, this salsa works great as an appetizer served with corn chips. It can also be used as a condiment for tacos, burritos, or even a turkey burger!

2 cups diced watermelon (about 1/2-inch), seeds removed
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
2 jalapenos or 3 serrano chiles, stem and seeds removed, chopped fine
Juice of 1/2 lime (2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place the watermelon, corn, and chiles in a medium bowl.

Mix together the lime juice, brown sugar, and salt until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the watermelon mixture.

Gently toss until everything is coated with the liquid.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the flavors to meld.

Serve with corn chips or as a condiment for tacos, burritos, turkey burgers, etc.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Dinner at Harvest Tonight

July 30th, 2009 — 12:18pm

1283228414851563391Tonight I have reservations with a few friends for dinner at Harvest as part of Madison’s Restaurant Week—a six-day foodie celebration during which 30 local restaurants offer a three-course prix fixe meal ($25/person).

With it’s evolving menu and emphasis on local, organic, and seasonal ingredients, not to mention it’s grand location on the capitol square, Harvest is consistently named one of the best restaurants in the country. Recently, it was named by Organic Style magazine as one of the top 20 restaurants in America, and it was also named by Gourmet Magazine as one of America’s top Farm-to-Table restaurants.

During my 8+ years living in Madison, I have amazingly not yet dined there—which is seriously an embarrassment since I consider myself  a studied foodie and faithful Madisodian. Some of you may be thinking…wait, I thought you have had dinner at Harvest. Nope. Twice now I either had or thought I had reservations at Harvest, to no avail. The first time, my best friend threw me a surprise birthday party instead (the reservation at Harvest was merely the set-up to fool me).  And the second time, during this past winter, the same friend and I had real reservations, and ended up canceling them due to a disagreement (which certainly would have made for an uncomfortable dining experience at Harvest…and the only kind of discomfort I want to experience there is the variety in which my belly is stuffed with too much good food).

So tonight’s the night. I’ve been studying my options and am leaning towards the following picks: zucchini and almond soup, roast breast of chicken with fennel and olives, and the chocolate cake and caramel sauce. Wish me luck!

Comment » | Restaurant Reviews

Lance Likened to Sarah Palin

July 30th, 2009 — 7:19am

090707_sn_armstrongtnMy brother sent me an interesting article from Slate Magazine about Lance Armstrong’s return to professional cycling and his often divisive and combative personality, and in-your-face self-promotion. Following is an excerpt.

His bizarre, histrionic behavior while off the bike, though, leaves one to wonder whether this guy is cut out for public life. Lance actually shares a few traits with Sarah Palin. They both react to any criticism with extreme defensiveness. They demonize their enemies while at the same time cultivating nonstop melodramas that keep them in the news. And while they both periodically issue petulant threats to quit, you get the funny feeling that neither one is going away anytime soon.

I guess it’s pretty obvious what I think about Lance Armstrong…arrogant and annoying are two adjectives that immediately come to mind. Unlike the legitimacy of his cycling career (I have to say…I still have lingering suspicions that Lance is, or has been, what I like to call a “dirty bird”), there’s certainly no denying the incredible amount of donations and attention he’s brought to cancer research—but still, somehow  it all seems like a personal quest for attention and self-promotion.

He’s certainly not going away anytime soon. Just like Sarah Palin, clearly he was made for the spotlight.

I think I better watch my back now…

1 comment » | Uncategorized

Door County Triathlon Race Pics

July 30th, 2009 — 6:42am

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Professional race pics from Door County Half-Ironman Triathlon (7/19/09)

2 comments » | Racing and Training

Zucchini, Basil, & Goat Cheese Pizza

July 28th, 2009 — 12:10pm

door-county-026On Sunday night I made the most incredible homemade pizza. I chose a recipe for Zucchini, Basil, and Goat Cheese Pizza that I found on an excellent food blog I recently discovered—Eggs on Sunday. As I enjoyed the first few intensely flavorful slices, I asked myself incredulously, I made this? 

I found most of the ingredients at the farmers’ market on Saturday morning. Although I considered making my own crust, in the interest of time, I opted to pick up pre-made dough at Fraboni’s, a great Italian market a few blocks from my apartment. door-county-009

I did also end up “splurging” on a pizza stone over the weekend (I actually already owned a pizza peel). I had been thinking about purchasing one for some time now—people seem to rave about their results. I finally caved and found one at Target for just over $10. I figured, if we’re gonna do this, let’s do it right. And what a steal at $10!door-county-013

All I have to say about this pizza is wow. The cheeses, roasted squash, red pepper, basil, and garlic (mmm…garlic) made for such a delicious combination. I’m still dreaming about those first few slices…

I have a feeling that a new kid on the block (i.e., homemade pizza) may soon overtake my long-standing granola obsession…could it be true?

1 lb. pizza dough (your favorite recipe)
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
a pinch of hot pepper flakes
a small handful of basil leaves, torn or thinly sliced into chiffonade
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 ounces fresh goat cheese

If you’re roasting the squash, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lay the slices of squash out on a sheet pan, brush them with olive oil on both sides, and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast until the bottoms are brown, then flip and continue roasting until the tops have started to brown as well. This usually takes me about 20 minutes total. (Alternatively, you can grill the squash.) Set aside.door-county-018

When you’re ready to make the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F, preferably with a baking stone on the bottom rack of the oven. Roll out your pizza dough onto a peel or the back of a sheet pan (dust the peel or sheet pan with flour or cornmeal first, or you can roll the dough out onto parchment first before transferring it to the stone.) Top with the shredded cheeses, then the garlic, hot pepper flakes, roasted/grilled squash slices, torn basil leaves, and crumbled goat cheese.

Bake pizza until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, about 8-10 minutes.

1 comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Banana Bread a la Culinary Institute

July 27th, 2009 — 11:04am

door-county-0011I had a mean craving for banana bread over the weekend. And thus, my Friday night was devoted to whipping up two tasty loaves. I searched far and wide, but was unable to locate my favorite recipe for banana bread, so I resorted to my stash of cookbooks to find a new recipe to try. I opted for the following, a recipe straight from the culinary institute (and surely one can trust any recipe the culinary institute stands behind, right?) door-county-007

I stuck to the recipe, but omitted the pecans. I ended up giving one loaf to my friends Julie and Matt, and kept the other myself. When I saw Julie and Matt again on Sunday morning, Matt enthusiastically declared that they had nearly polished off their entire loaf. And from a cook’s perspective, you can’t get a better compliment than that.

Banana Nut Loaf, The Culinary Institute of America’s Breakfasts and Brunches
Makes 2 loaves

If your bananas are ready to make into banana bread before you are ready to use them, freeze them (in their peels) until your next baking day. They’ll keep for up to 2 months. After they thaw, they will practically puree themselves.

6 bananas, very ripe
1 tsp. lemon juice
3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup chopped roasted pecans

Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare two 8-inch loaf pans by spraying lightly with cooking spray or rubbing with softened butter.

Puree the bananas and lemon juice together using a blender or by hand. You should have about 2 cups mashed bananas.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Combine the banana puree, sugar, eggs, and oil and mix on medium speed with a paddle attachment until blended, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl as needed. Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Mix in the pecans.door-county-029

Divide the batter evenly between the loaf pans. Gently tap the filled pans to burst any air bubbles. Bake until the bread springs back when pressed and a tester inserted near the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.

Cool the loaves in the pans for a few minutes, then remove the bread from the pans, transfer to cooling racks, and cool completely before slicing and serving or wrapping. They can be held at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 6 weeks.

1 comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Kritter on Twitter

July 27th, 2009 — 10:27am

tour_11Following much peer pressure from my brother (@korevec), I have finally broken down and created a twitter account (@klkorevec). For those of you who are not as techically geeked out as my brother, twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are posts made up of 140 characters that display on the author’s profile page and delivered to the authors’s subscribers, known as followers.

I still have a lot to learn, but I’m gonna give it a shot. My brother assures me that twitter is the way of the future. He also claims that blogs are passe, but I’ve chosen to selectively ignore that piece of advice…because this madcitygirl is going to keep ‘er going strong.

2 comments » | Uncategorized

The School of Essential Ingredients

July 27th, 2009 — 6:46am

bauermeisterI have a lot of catching up to do on book reviews. I figured it might be easiest to start with the most recent book I’ve read and work back from there. Last week, I finished The School of Essential Ingredients, a novel by Erica Bauermeister. My friend Karen checked it out for me at the library last month, after it was featured on NPR in a segment entitled “Independent Booksellers Pick Summer’s Best Reads.” I’m guessing Karen thought the cooking theme might resonate nicely with me. As someone who enjoys reading cookbooks for fun, I’d say it was a good pick.

Karen had first tried to reserve the book through the UW campus and Madison Public Library systems, but apparently there were already 70+ person waitlists. A week later, Karen was at the library in the small lake resort town of Green Lake—and there it was, prominently displayed on a front table. Funny how something is featured on NRP, and Madison residents go batty. Elsewhere, it’s just another book.

Karen told me that the librarian described it as a “sweet book.” I think that’s probably the best description. Although it was a little too “pollyanna” for my tastes, it was a nice summer read and my inner-foodie especially loved the evocative food descriptions, such as the following:

Claire lifted the crab to her mouth, closing her eyes one more time, shutting out the room around her. The meat touched her tongue and the taste ran through her, full and rich and complicated, dense as a long, deep kiss. She took another bite and felt her feet settle into the floor and the rest of her flow into a river of ginger and garlic and lemon and wine. She stood, even when that bite, and the next and the next were gone, feeling the river wind its way to her fingers, her toes, her belly, the base of her spine, melting all the pieces of her into something warm and golden.

Seriously. Has crab eating ever sounded so orgasmic?

In terms of the story line, the book is about eight people from various backgrounds and stages in life who come together for a weekly cooking class. The novel details their various life stories, and describes how the transendent experience of cooking and eating great food, coupled with the relationships developed during the course of the class, transform each of their lives.

If you love food and are looking for a “sweet” summer read that will leave you hungry for more, The School of Essential Ingredients is a nice option.

Comment » | Books, Film, and Music

Cherry Bomb

July 23rd, 2009 — 7:53am

I knew we were in for a good thing when I received the following e-mail last week from my friend Matt (Kim’s husband), immediately following my e-mail invitation for this week’s concert on the square and ensuing iron chef cherry challenge.

Kristin-
Like my talent show performance at the lake, I would like to incorporate highly flammable items into my entry. I searched the website you provided and did not see a policy regarding the detonation of cherry bombs during the orchestra’s performance. I mean really, is there a better way to get the pit out of a cherry than with a cherry bomb? My hope is that the music snobs who frown upon those who chat and – you know – enjoy a summer evening will not object to minor explosions in the background. I also hope the orchestra can play a jazzy, snazzy version of “Tijuana Taxi” for the masses.
Rest assured, I will not attempt to juggle the cherry bombs. My old friend – who we now call “Stumpy” – once tried it and, well, there’s a reason we call him Stumpy.

I was falling out of my chair laughing  as I read the e-mail, and it certainly left me with high expectations going into this week’s challenge. Unfortunately, in the end Matt was unable to join us for the concert. But Kim proudly carried the “torch” on his behalf, armed with ingredients for the “Cherry Mary,” a drink Matt invented and named, which calls for champagne, maraschino cherry syrup, and fresh cherry garnish with a cherry twizzler stir stick. It was delicious and refreshing. Clearly, Matt and Kim rose to the challenge. However, I must admit I was a tad disappointed by the lack of promised combustion.

My friend Kelly, in from Austin Texas, also joined us for the concert and iron chef challenge. She brought cherry salsa, which she created from a simple recipe of cherries, jalapeno peppers, lime juice, sugar, and salt. It was awesome. She served it over cream cheese on crackers and triscuits. I loved the sweet cherries contrasted with the spicy jalapenos. I will certainly be re-creating this recipe soon.

As I detailed in a previous post, I opted to make chocolate-covered cherry cookies for the concert. They were good—nice and caky, albeit a little messy—but I was certainly not a contender in this week’s iron chef challenge. Again. In the end, I’d have to call it a tie between Kim and Matt’s “Cherry Mary” and Kelly’s jalapeno cherry salsa.

I wish I had better pictures from the evening, but unfortunately, I forgot my camera—which felt like I was missing a limb. Luckily, Kim was able to snap a few quick pictures on her iPhone. Next week I promise to be more responsible.

Speaking of next week—sadly, next week’s concert is the final concert of the season. The iron chef ingredient is CORN. Bring it.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen, Madtown Lovin'

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