Archive for May 2011

Rhubarb-Strawberry Lattice Pie

May 31st, 2011 — 2:49pm





Last week I officially kicked off rhubarb season by baking a Rhubarb-Strawberry Lattice Pie, the recipe of which is featured in the most recent issue of Martha Stewart Living. I love rhubarb and this pie was tasty. Luckily, my explorations in cooking with rhubarb have only just begun. This Friday marks the next Iron Chef Dinner—and, you guessed it, rhubarb is the selected ingredient. Should be a delicious and interesting culinary adventure. Any suggestions for great rhubarb recipes? Let me know!

Rhubarb-Strawberry Lattice Pie (makes one 9-inch pie)
From Martha Stewart Living, June 2011

For the filling
1 3/4 lb. rhubarb, cut into 3/4-inch-thick pieces (6 cups)
6 oz. strawberries, coarsely chopped (1 cup)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp. finely grated orange zest, plus 1 tbsp. orange juice

For the crust
2 disks Pate Brisee
All purpose flour, for surface
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Make the filling: Mix together rhubarb, strawberries, granulated sugar, cornstarch, zest and juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

2. Make the crust: Roll out 1 disk pate brisee to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch plate. Pour in filling; dot top with butter. Refrigerate while making top crust.

3. Roll remaining disk pate brisee to a 1/8-inch thickness on a slightly floured surface. Cut into at least fifteen 1/2-inch-wide strips using a fluted pastry cutter.

4. Lay 8 strips across pie. Fold back every other strip, and lay a horizontal strip across the center of the pie. Unfold folded strips, then fold back remaining strips. Lay another horizontal strip across pie. Repeat folding and unfolding strips to weave a lattice pattern. Repeat on remaining side.

5. Trim bottom and top crusts to a 1-inch overhang using kitchen shears, and press together to seal around edges. Fold edges under, and crimp as desired. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

6. Brush crust with egg wash, and sprinkle generously with sanding sugar. Bake pie on middle rack, with a foil-lined baking sheet on bottom rack to catch juices, until vigorously bubbling in center and bottom crust is golden, about 1 1/2 hours. (Loosely tent with foil after 1 hour if crust is browning too quickly). Transfer pie to a wire rack, and let cool for at least 2 hours (preferably longer) before serving.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Derby Menu and Recipes

May 31st, 2011 — 2:06pm

Below is my full menu and recipes from this year’s Kentucky Derby party.  I mostly stuck with tried-and-true favorites from the past two years, but also incorporated a few new recipes from The Kentucky Derby Museum Cook Book, first published in 1986, but new on my bookshelf this spring.

After slaving away in the kitchen for the better part of a week, I think the meal turned out well. I always try to do plenty of prep work in advance in an attempt to avoid last minute stress, but somehow that never really pans out for me. Probably just trying to juggle more than I can realistically handle.

But the moment my friends arrive with festive spirits and full Derby gear makes it all more than worthwhile.

2011 Kentucky Derby Menu
Mint Juleps
Bourbon Slush
Museum Mushrooms
Cheese Straws
Peach-and-Bourbon-Basted Pork Chops
Artichokes Au Gratin
Bourbon Yams
Southern Butter Rolls
Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie
Bourbon Balls

Museum Mushrooms (serves 8-10)
3 oz. pkg. cream cheese
2 tsp. chopped chives
6 strips crisp bacon, crumbled
16 to 20 fresh mushrooms

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cream cheese, chives, and bacon. Remove stems from mushrooms and stuff with cheese mixture. Bake 15 minutes, then broil until brown.

Bourbon Yams (serves 6)
4 medium yams, unpeeled
1 stick butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Bourbon

In a large pot, place yams and cover with water. Boil gently until tender. Cool. Peel and slice lengthwise. Layer in a greased 2-quart casserole.

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add brown sugar and Bourbon. Heat this mixture until sugar is dissolved; pour over yams. Bake at 350 degrees about 20 minutes, or until bubbly. May be made a day ahead.

Artichokes Au Gratin (serves 6-8)
2 9-oz. pkgs. frozen artichoke hearts
1/4 cup margarine
1/3 cup flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1 1/2 cups milk
1 slightly beaten egg
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/2 cup crushed Pepperidge Farm stuffing

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cook artichokes as directed on package; drain, reserving 1/2 cup liquid. Melt margarine in saucepan. Stir in flour, salt, and mustard. Gradually stir in milk and 1/2 cup artichoke liquid, stirring until thickened over low heat. Remove from heat, and stir sauce gradually into egg and half of cheese; blend well. Put artichokes in single layer 9x12x2 inch baking dish. Pour sauce over to cover. Sprinkle with rest of cheese, then stuffing and paprika. Bake 15 minutes.

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Post Aquathon Blues

May 27th, 2011 — 12:47pm

madison-aquathonThe risk of pushing your body to the limits is that it’s entirely possible to push too far. And last week, that’s exactly what I did. Just a few days after Saturday’s Ice Age 50, I decided to try the first race in the Aquathon series. It’s a short race—just a 1,000 meter swim, followed by a 5,000 meter run—but it’s still intense. A little more than my body was ready to handle at that point.

I felt terrible throughout the Aquathon. Certainly didn’t help that the water temperature was a mere 56 degrees. During the swim, my body was numb and my head felt as if it were about to explode. Exactly how cold does the water need to be to cause hypothermia, I contemplated as I forced myself to keep moving my seemingly increasingly lethargic arms. Sadly, it was my first swim since Ironman Wisconsin last September, which didn’t help matters. It felt nice to get out of the cold water and onto the run. But my feet remained completely numb for the first mile-and-a-half. They were like bricks. And my legs were still stiff and tired from the weekend’s trail running. I finished the race, and although it wasn’t pretty, I was still glad to have given it a shot and participated. ap_cold_medicine_080905_mn

But then just a day or two after the Aquathon, everything caught up with me. What started as a subtle head cold gained increasing momentum throughout the week resulting in a hacking cough, sore throat, aching head, dripping nose, and days off from work. It’s been pure misery. But I suppose it has taught me to be more careful about my limits and what my body is actually capable of.  I guess it’s also made me appreciate my health in general…despite the whining I’ve done this week, my cold is absolutely nothing compared to the pain and suffering some people experience on a daily basis.7aae3bd0-083c-574a-9871-8b399b3a8ad4image

What I’m struggling with at this point is the fact that I’m signed on as a pacer for the Madison Marathon this coming Sunday. All week I’ve been holding out hope that I’d miraculously recover in time to be able to lead my pace group to a 3:40 finish. This morning I attempted my first run since last Saturday. It was a 3-mile jaunt around Monona Bay. I had trouble breathing and practically hacked up a lung. It became more clear that I’m in no condition to run a marathon. Let alone a 3:40 marathon. Yet still, I remain hopeful. Clearly, I haven’t learned a thing.

1 comment » | Racing and Training

Ramp It Up!

May 18th, 2011 — 11:50am

The ramp is my new favorite early spring vegetable. Also known as a wild leek, it’s a plant native to North America that typically grows on steep hillsides near rivers.  The plant is characterized by long, smooth green leaves with a skinny reddish stem and white bulb that emits a strong garlic odor. The ramp’s pronounced onion flavor lends itself nicely to a variety of dishes such as eggs, pasta, potatoes, soups and salads. Known as a delicacy in many circles because of its very limited season (typically 3-5 weeks) there are annual festivals dedicated to its celebration in the states of  Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virgina, and West Virgina.

I was introduced to the ramp earlier this spring and haven’t been able to get enough since. The last few weeks I’ve bought bunches at the Dane County Farmers’ Market like they’re going out of season—which they are. I started by experimenting with pickling ramps and using them on salads and sandwiches. A friend and I made a particularly delicious salad with Snug Haven spinach, pickled ramps, sunchoke chips, Bleu Mont bandaged cheddar, and a homemade vinaigrette. Delicious.

Last week I tried the following recipe for Pasta with Ramps and Cured Pork. It was the best meal I’ve made in quite some time. The flavors were otherworldly. It’s time to ramp it up, folks.

Pasta with Ramps and Cured Pork (serves 6)
Recipe from Gothamist

2-4 bunches Ramps – depending on budget and inclination
1 lb. box pasta – spaghetti or linguini
Kosher salt
¼ – ½ lb. thickly sliced speck, prosciutto, or cooked bacon (I used speck)
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Regianno-Parmasan or Pecorino Romano for grating
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Reserved pasta water

1. Trim off the root ends of the ramps, and clean them by removing the outermost layer of the white bulb. Be careful to wipe off any remaining dirt or slime. Wash them and spin or towel dry.

2. Fill your largest pot with water, salt (2 tablespoon per gallon), and bring to a rapid boil – a large pot promotes better cooking.

3. Cook pasta till al dente, scooping out a cup of pasta cooking water near the end once the starch from the pasta has leached into it.

4. While the pasta is cooking, separate the white bulb from the green leaf of each ramp and chop the white bulb finely. Stack the green leaves and slice in half lengthwise. Julienne the cured pork into slices, ½ inch if you are using speck or prosciutto, ¼ inch if you use bacon.

5. Using a large sauté pan or saucier, cook the chopped whites in oil, salting with sea salt for 2 minutes over medium high. Add in the cured pork and cook for 1 minute more. Add the butter in and then the Ramp greens, cook until they are just wilted adding a bit of sea salt and black pepper along the way.

6. Remove from the heat and wait for the pasta to finish cooking, don’t forget to reserve some of the cooking water.

7. Drain pasta and add 2/3 of it back to the cooking pot, which will still retain some heat. Stir in the Ramp mixture, grate in ½ cup of cheese (more or less to taste).

8. Add the eggs and toss quickly to distribute evenly. Pour 2 tablespoons of the pasta water in and add the rest of the pasta. Stir and evaluate. If it seems stiff add a bit more pasta water, and if it needs pepper, salt or cheese put it in.

9. Serve with extra grated cheese, sea salt and a pepper mill for tableside addition

4 comments » | Kristin's Kitchen

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

May 16th, 2011 — 7:52am

sharon-jones-the-dap-kings-e1269982149431Tonight I have tickets to see Sharon Jones & The Dap- Kings at the Capitol Theater at the Overture Center in Madison. The nine-piece band from Brooklyn produces music that is often referred to as “retro soul.” One music critic places Sharon’s “raw power, rhythmic swagger, moaning soulfulness, and melodic command firmly alongside Tina Turner, James Brown, Mavis Staples, and Aretha as a fixture in the canon of soul music.” Praise doesn’t come more glowing than that.

Seems like I’ve been waiting for this show for months.  In anticipation, I’ve been listening to their fourth album—I Learned the Hard Way—on my turntable non-stop for weeks.  Last week there was a great article in Madison’s 77 Square about Sharon Jones. Entitled Onstage and off, Georgia-born Sharon Jones holds nothing back, the article gets at the heart of why Jones is exactly the kind of performer you want to see live. Should be an explosive show.

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Ice Age 50 Race Report

May 15th, 2011 — 2:56pm

2323232327ffp53986nu3264_9_45wsnrcg3636958532My mental state leading up to this year’s Ice Age 50 was so different from last year. There was no self-doubt. I wasn’t even nervous. In fact, it seemed like I was just getting ready for another long training run. It probably wasn’t ideal to be that relaxed about it all, because I ended up procrastinating important pre-race preparations. Like for example, showing up at 8pm (closing time) on Friday night at Endurance House to buy energy drink powder for the race. Or not taking the time to look up directions to the race site and getting lost on my way there—cutting it too close for comfort for morning-of packet pick-up. Not my smartest moves, but I guess it all worked out.2323232327ffp53989nu3264_9_45wsnrcg3636958632

The race started shortly after 6 a.m. on Saturday. I wouldn’t say I took off hard, but I wouldn’t say I eased into the race either. It wasn’t necessarily my plan, but I felt good and wanted to break away from the big packs of runners and find my own rhythm. There are certainly times I love chatting with other runners, but at that point I yearned for solitude—I wanted to run alone and enjoy the quiet peacefulness of the woods. Plus I remembered feeling like I had just a little too much energy left at the finish of last year’s race. So I thought maybe this year I could run a little less cautiously.2323232327ffp53984nu3264_9_45wsnrcg3636957_32

The first 9-mile loop on the Nordic trails felt really good. I was glad I had spent so much time running there in the weeks leading up to the race because the hills seemed much less daunting. After the Nordic loop, the course meandered through the forest and onto the Ice Age trail. I then kicked in my nutrition plan (PowerBar Ironman Perform lemon-lime flavored electrolyte sports drink, PowerBar stawberry banana energy gels, a few Salt Stick caps, and a few PB&J triangles later in the race). When I start fueling, it’s usually only a matter of time before my stomach starts acting up. I was thankful to come upon an aid station with a PortaPotty relatively quickly. But after waiting outside the occupied PortaPotty to the sounds of distressed groans, moans, and grunts, it became clear the guy inside wasn’t coming out anytime soon. Damn. I continued on and hoped the feeling would pass. It didn’t, so I found a nice hidden area in the woods to do my business.2323232327ffp539_4nu3264_9_45wsnrcg3636957932

My crew magically appeared at around the half-way point. I was still feeling pretty strong at that point. I was happy to see them and thankful that they arrived with the water bottles and gel packets I had packed ahead of time. I re-filled my water bottle and stuffed my pockets with new energy gels. One of my favorite memories of the day was coming up to a Hawaiian themed aid station a bit later in the day and spotting my dad dancing with a big grin on his face. It was good stuff. My crew’s support definitely helped get me through the rest of the race.2323232327ffp5397nu3264_9_45wsnrcg36362232

I started having a tough time around mile 30. My legs were screaming and my energy levels were tapering off quickly. It was exactly the opposite of last year’s race when I felt poorly during the first 30 and then great for the last 20. I worried that maybe I had taken it out too fast. Twenty miles was still a long way to go—which was something a few of the guys felt the need to remind me of—you’re running pretty quickly. We still have 20 miles. Have you done this race before? It always feels good to say, yes I have. But I knew they were kind of right. I wasn’t sure how I was going to run another 20 miles. But I knew I’d find a way.2323232327ffp539_nu3264_9_45wsnrcg36362832

I started popping energy gels and drinking more frequently in an effort to replenish my energy stores, but then my stomach began acting up again. After another bathroom break in the woods, shortly followed by a wrong turn on the trail (which luckily didn’t take me off course for more than a few minutes) and the start of rain, things started going smoother. I seemed to find my rhythm again. It helped to break down the race into smaller segments—Ok, 6 more miles till 40. It’s like an Arb loop. And once you’re to 40, you’re practically home-free. 2323232327ffp539nu3264_9_45wsnrcg363695932

During the last several miles, I buddied up with another runner—the co-race director of the Kettle Morraine 100. Our conversation thankfully made those last painful miles pass quicker. By that point, my Garmin had gone dead (guess there’s not enough battery life to run 50 miles). I had a feeling I was going to be close to finishing in 9 hours. So my goal then became to break 9. I tried to kick it in and run up the hills I’d normally walk. Luckily, I made it—but just barely. I finished in 8:56. I was three minutes off my time from last year and once again the 6th female. It was a good race and I was proud. Afterward, I hobbled to the nearby La Grange General Store with my crew to share stories from the race over a round of beers. Definitely a great day. Now, I can barely walk…but it still feels good.

9 comments » | Racing and Training

Ice Age 50 Trail Run

May 13th, 2011 — 10:52am

ia50elevationAt 6 a.m. tomorrow morning I’ll set out on a 50-mile journey along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, an area recently named among the “crown jewels” of U.S. trail running by Runner’s World Magazine.

When I toe the line for tomorrow’s Ice Age 50 Trail Run, it will be with a mix of excitement and calmness. Excitement for a new experience, meeting new friends, pushing my physical limits, and basking in the glory of the great outdoors. Calmness will come from knowing that I’ve completed the necessary training leading up to the race and from having experienced the race from start to finish last year.  I suppose there will be a bit of trepidation, too. Those hills are ferocious.

I’ll be joined during parts of the race by a great spectating team—my parents and also my boyfriend. I look forward to seeing their smiling faces when I pop out of the woods at designated crew stations. More than Gatorade and Gu, their love and support will give me the strength to press on when my legs are screaming and energy levels are plummeting.

It should be an awesome adventure, for sure. Hopefully I’ll come back with a few good stories, satisfyingly stiff legs, and a shiny finisher’s belt buckle.

2 comments » | Racing and Training

Scenes From a Derby Party

May 9th, 2011 — 12:52pm


Ladies of the Derby


Mint Juleps and Bourbon Slush


Pre-Dinner Singing of “My Old Kentucky Home”


The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports


Buying Mint at the Farmers’ Market


The Men of the Derby


Table is Set


Let the Races Begin


Julie and Matt Swapping Hats


Cheering for Our Favorites


Dessert is Served

1 comment » | Uncategorized

Scenes From A Royal Wedding Party

May 4th, 2011 — 3:40am




Only the finest family heirloom china and silver; a 4 a.m. start time; tacky William and Kate memorabilia imported from Canada; dual monitors rotating between coverage on NBC, ABC, E!, and TLC; table-side waffles and Royal English tea; framed pictures of a family trip to Great Britain ages ago; a hat making craft station with crowns, feathers, and bows—all of the makings of a royal wedding party fit for the queen.

2 comments » | Uncategorized

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