Archive for February 2013


Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 2/27

February 28th, 2013 — 10:29am

February 2013 100 This week’s Slow Food UW Cafe lunch was perfect for yesterday’s snowy and blustery day. My picks included: Pork, White Bean and Pepper Chili; Bacon Corn Bread; Spinach, Roasted Capers, Sesame Seed and Sprouts Salad; and Mexican Chocolate Cake Balls.

Comment » | Madtown Lovin'

Lentil Soup with Sausage and Chard

February 26th, 2013 — 12:20pm

When my friend Shayla recommended this soup recipe and revealed that she’d made it twice in one week, I was sold. Other than the obvious health benefits (the soup is chock full of nutritious vegetables and protein-packed lentils), it seemed like a hearty and comforting soup, perfect for the middle of February.

Luckily I had all of the ingredients on hand when I extended a last-minute dinner invitation to my friend Krista, who joined me to hear Aron Rolston speak as part of last Thursday’s Distinguished Lecture Series event. The soup was everything I imagined it would be, and with a tall glass of wine and great conversation, the perfect way to start our evening.

Lentil Soup with Sausage and Swiss Chard (slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation from Secrets of the Best Chefs (Gina DePalma); serves 6)

1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 package of sweet Italian ground sausage
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced or diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons
4 cloves garlic, sliced (reserve half for later in recipe)
Kosher salt
1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
6 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups shredded or thinly sliced Swiss chard leaves or kale
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese to finish

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the sausage and stir occasionally until it starts to brown, about five minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrots, first two garlic cloves, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaves, tomatoes, water (2 x empty 28-ounce cans full), more salt and black pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes.

When the lentils are cooked, add the chard and cook until the leaves are tender, just a few minutes. Discard the bay leaves.

To finish, divide soup among bowls and add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 garlic cloves to a small skillet and heat over medium until the garlic softens and hisses. Drizzle over soup bowls, and top with fresh Romano cheese. Leftovers will keep for several days in the fridge.

1 comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Arroz con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding)

February 22nd, 2013 — 8:54am

Every great meal must be followed by a great dessert. Or so I figured after completing preparations on the cemitas. Luckily Larry has a mini-library of Rick Bayless cookbooks, offering countless dessert options to accompany any Mexican entree. I flipped through his copy of Authentic Mexican and was drawn to a recipe for Arroz con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding). When I realized I had all of the ingredients on hand except a lime (which seemed unessential), the matter was settled.

This recipe is perfect for the winter months when you just want to comfort your soul with a bowl of something hot, soft and delicious. The flavors are subtle and wonderful—a combination of cinnamon and custard. I’ll admit my pudding was a little soupy. Next time, I’d keep the pudding over the stove a bit longer. I was perhaps a bit quick on the draw under the advisement to remove the custard from the heat once the “liquid shows the first signs of thickening.” But I also loved the soupiness and slurped it up with delight. By the next day, the rice had fully soaked up all the liquid. As a final testament to its deliciousness,  in a household of two, this dessert that serves 8-10 was gone in under 24 hours. Did I mention it also makes a great breakfast?

Arroz con Leche (Mexican Rice Pudding) (from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless; serves 8-10)

2 inches cinnamon stick
A 2-inch strip of lime zest (colored rink only), 3/4 inch wide (I left this out)
1 cup rice
1 quart milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup raisins
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into bits
Ground cinnamon, for garnish

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan, add the cinnamon stick and lime zest, then cover and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Pour in the rice, let the mixture return to a boil, stir once, then cover and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Stir in the milk, sugar and salt, and simmer over medium to medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid shows the first signs of thickening, 20 to 25 minutes. Take from the heat and remove the cinnamon and stick and zest. Beat the egg yolks until runny, stir in the vanilla and a few tablespoons of the hot rice, then stir the yolk concoction back into the rice mixture. Mix in half the raisins, then spoon the rice pudding into a decorative 8-inch square baking dish.

Preheat the boiler and dot the rice pudding with butter. Set the dish under the heat long enough to brown the top, 3 or 4 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining raisins and the ground cinnamon, and serve warm or at room temperature.

1 comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Chile-Marinated Pork Sandwiches on Cemita Rolls

February 21st, 2013 — 6:46am

I love cemitas, a sandwich that originated in Puebla, Mexico that is served on a brioche-like, sesame-seed covered roll with toppings including a thin cut of meat, avocado, chipotle peppers, Oaxacan string cheese, thin slices of white onion, and the secret weapon (and most difficult ingredient to find), papalo, a pungent herb similar to cilantro.

Unfortunately Larry and I have yet to locate a decent tasting cemita in Madison. And we’ve learned that deliveries to Madison of papalo are few and far between. We were thrilled when our friends Jill and Ryan made homemade cemitas for our Iron Chef Chili Pepper dinner last March. The sandwiches were mind-blowingly good and one of my all-time favorite Iron Chef dishes. We realized then that we could make our own cemitas at home in between visits to Mexico (or at least bigger cities with better Mexican restaurants) for the real thing.

This past weekend we made the sandwiches for the first time at home. I loved making the chili paste and the wonderful aroma that filled the kitchen while toasting the cumin, peppercorns, clove, and cinnamon in a skillet over the stove. Thankfully the recipe makes a double batch of the chili paste, so we’ll be able to make our next round of cemitas much faster. This is another recipe that takes work and patience, but it all pays off in the way of an incredibly good-tasting sandwich you won’t forget.

Chile-Marinated Pork Sandwiches on Cemita Rolls (from Gourmet via Epicurious, May 2004, makes 4 large sandwiches)

For chile-marinated pork
6 dried guajillo chiles (1 1/2 oz)
1 dried ancho chile (1/2 oz)
4 thin (1/2-inch) rib pork chops (1 lb total), bones discarded
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 whole clove
1 (1/2- by 1/4-inch) piece cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, quartered
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican), crumbled
1 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

For sandwiches
4 Mexican cemita rolls (available at Mexican bakeries) or 8 sesame seed hamburger buns
2 ripe California avocados
1/2 cup fresh papalo leaves (available at Mexican markets) or cilantro leaves
6 oz Oaxacan string cheese, finely shredded with your fingers (1 1/2 cups)
4 canned chipotle chiles in adobo (optional), finely chopped
1/2 large white onion, thinly sliced
1 large plum tomato, thinly sliced crosswise

Prepare chiles and pork:
Discard chile stems and cut guajillo and ancho chiles open lengthwise with kitchen shears. Discard seeds and ribs.

Heat a dry 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet or griddle over moderate heat until hot, then toast chiles, a few at a time, turning and pressing down with tongs, until softened and fragrant, about 10 seconds per side.

Transfer chiles to a bowl, then cover with hot water and soak until softened, about 20 minutes.

Flatten pork while chiles soak:
Trim fat and sinews from pork and pound between 2 sheets of wax paper with flat side of a meat pounder or with a rolling pin until meat is about 1/8 inch thick.

Marinate pork:
Heat skillet over low heat until hot then toast cumin, peppercorns, clove, and cinnamon, stirring constantly, until fragrant and cumin is a shade darker, about 1 minute. Transfer hot spices to a blender and add vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, and soaked chiles with about 1/3 cup soaking water, then blend until smooth. Transfer half of chile paste to an airtight container and chill or freeze for another use, then put remainder in a small bowl.

Spread a thin layer of chile paste in middle of a sheet of plastic wrap large enough to wrap all of meat and put 1 pork chop over paste. Spread a thin layer of chile paste on top, then continue layering meat, spreading each piece with chile paste. Wrap stacked pork in plastic wrap and marinate, chilled, at least 2 hours.

Cook pork and assemble sandwiches:
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Season pork chops with salt and sauté, in batches, adding more oil as necessary, until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer chops as cooked to a sheet of foil and keep warm wrapped in foil.

Preheat broiler. Cut rolls in half horizontally and arrange, cut sides up, on a large baking sheet. Broil buns about 6 inches from heat until golden, about 1 minute.

Halve, pit, and lightly mash avocados in peel with a fork, then spread thickly on cut sides of rolls. Season avocado with salt, then top with papalo. Make sandwiches with pork, cheese, chipotles (if using), onion, and tomato, pressing sandwiches together.

3 comments » | Kristin's Kitchen

Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 2/20

February 20th, 2013 — 12:02pm

My picks from this week’s menu included: Cabbage Wraps with Chicken, Rice, House-Grown Sprouts, Carrots, Radishes with Spicy Peanut Sauce; Spicy Winter Vegetable Stir-Fry; Rice and Chicken Porridge Soup; and Honey, Cinnamon Cream Cheese Wontons. Everything was delicious…except the soup, which tasted like burnt corn husks. It was inedible. But I loved the cabbage wrap and vegetable stir-fry. I met two friends from CX for lunch today – Claire and Kate. It was great to catch up. I’ve been experiencing serious withdrawal not being able to see my CX friends every weekend!

Comment » | Madtown Lovin'

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

February 20th, 2013 — 4:50am

I’m often asked what type of food I like to cook most. I  struggle with that question because I haven’t found much I don’t like to cook. If pressed, however, I suppose I’d say that breakfast foods are my favorite. I consider pancakes, granola, scones, quiches, frittatas, and breakfast casseroles among my specialties.

I seriously love pancakes and am constantly trying new recipes. In the last few months alone, I’ve made carrot cake pancakes, lemon poppy seed pancakes, paleo pancakes, gingerbread spice dutch baby pancakes, and my all-time favorite, blueberry buttermilk flapjacks. But I’m also a pancake snob. I strongly dislike pancakes from a box mix (the difference between pancakes made from a box mix and those made from scratch is astounding), and I also generally don’t like pancakes at restaurants. I’ve never quite figured out why, but I’ve felt that way since I was very young. My favorite place to eat pancakes is at home—fresh off the skillet, with a hot cup of French-press coffee and served with real maple syrup.

If you have a leisurely Sunday morning with no place to go and nothing to do, these Lemon Ricotta Pancakes are near perfection—light and fluffy and not too sweet, with a touch of lemon flavor and swirls of ricotta. They take time, my friend, but one must be patient to reap the rewards of pancake bliss. I enjoyed a stack with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and drizzle of maple syrup. But next time, I plan to spruce them up even more with fresh blueberries or raspberries.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes (slightly adapted from recipe by Jill Santopietro for Chow; serves 2-4)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for coating the skillet
1 cup whole milk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
3 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
Powdered sugar, blueberries or raspberries, and maple syrup, for serving

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally; remove from heat and add milk.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla. Add about a quarter of the milk-butter mixture (this will temper the eggs), then whisk in the remaining milk-butter mixture until smooth.

Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks, while sprinkling in the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Fold the egg whites into the batter until just combined.

Gently fold the ricotta into the batter until just combined.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat until hot, about 4 minutes.

Coat the skillet with butter, then pour the batter into the pan by 1/3 cup fulls. Cook until bubbles form on top of the pancakes, about 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes more. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve immediately with powdered sugar, blueberries or raspberries, and maple syrup.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Favorite Albums from 2012

February 19th, 2013 — 12:50pm

The records that were spinning most often on my turntable in 2012 include: Give You the Ghost, Polica; Faithful Man, Lee Fields; Bloom, Beach House; Fear Fun, Father John Misty; Break It Yourself, Andrew Bird; and Blood Rushing, Josephine Foster.

Comment » | Books, Film, and Music

Black Sesame-Pear Tea Cake

February 18th, 2013 — 7:23am

Of all the recipes I’ve tried during the past several weeks, this is the one I think about most often. Although I broke my coffee grinder in the process of grinding the sesame seeds, and my heart sank in disappointment when the top of the loaf collapsed during baking, I still think about it fondly—its unique taste and how beautifully a slice paired with a cup of coffee. I remember its head-turning dark hue, its deep, savory, unique flavor profile punctuated by unexpected soft pockets of pear compote, and its crunchy top sprinkled with sugar. This bread is like nothing I’ve ever tasted. And now it’s in my repertoire always. When I need a break from banana bread, this is just the recipe I’ll turn to.

Black Sesame-Pear Tea Cake (slightly adapted from Elizabeth Quijada of Abraço via Bon Appetit, March 2012; makes 10-12 servings)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature,
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup almond flour or almond meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup black sesame seeds
1 1/3 cups plus
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 (medium) firm but ripe Bosc pear, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon Turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan. In a medium bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, and 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds. Grind remaining 1/2 cup sesame seeds in a spice mill or coffee grinder for about 2 minutes to form a thick paste.

Using an electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter and 1 1/3 cups sugar in a large bowl until well combined, 2–3 minutes. Add sesame paste and beat until blended, 1–2 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk. Beat until pale and fluffy, 3–4 minutes. On low speed, beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Toss pear with remaining 2 Tbsp. flour in a small bowl; fold into batter.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. Turbinado sugar.

Bake until a tester comes out clean when inserted into center, about 1 hour 40 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack.

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Heart Beet Cookies

February 14th, 2013 — 6:28am

What better way to show your love for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day than with a batch of Heart Beet Cookies? I made these for the most recent Iron Chef Dinner and thought it might be appropriate to share the recipe today, on Valentine’s Day. The cookie is a spin on a classic chocolate chip cookie. The color and heart shape won me over at first sight, but after a few bites, I also enjoyed their unique, earthy flavor.

Heart Beet Cookies (makes 2 dozen cookies)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup pureed roasted beets
2 tablespoons  canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In a seperate small bowl, stir together the beets, vanilla and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Mix in the chocolate chips. Spoon the dough by the teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Flatten with the bottom of a drinking glass and cut into heart shapes using a small heart-shaped cookie cutter. Bake 10-12 minutes.

1 comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch – 2/13

February 13th, 2013 — 9:11am

My picks from today’s Slow Food UW Cafe Lunch included: Coffee Barbecue Pulled Pork with Slaw (on a house-made Kaiser Roll); Carrot and Cabbage Salad with Mint and Feta; Sweet Potato Bisque; and Ricotta Cupcake with Beet, Cream Cheese Frosting. All were delicious!

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