Archive for May 2014

Paris in the Footsteps of Julia Child

May 22nd, 2014 — 3:53am

dehillerinI’ve been given an incredible opportunity to travel to Paris for work this week to host a travel group following a seven-day Julia Child-inspired itinerary.

In preparation for the trip, I read “My Life in France,” an autobiography by Julia Child and her grandnephew Alex Prud’homme. Julia and her husband, Paul, ventured to France in 1948 when Paul was assigned a job at the American embassy in Paris. Julia was immediately smitten. “Oh, la belle France—without knowing it, I was already falling in love!” The authors paint a vivid picture of Julia’s fun-loving relationship with Paul and their love affair with French food—-“the tastes, the processes, the history, the endless variations, the rigorous discipline, the creativity, the wonderful people, the equipment, the rituals.” Julia’s enthusiasm is absolutely infectious.

During the trip, we’ll experience many highlights of Paris, and also visit a number of areas Julia frequented during her time in Paris, like the kitchenware shop E. Dehillerin and the Rue Cler neighborhood where Julia liked to shop for meats, cheese, fruits, and produce.

I’m so excited to get to know the people with whom I’ll be traveling, and for this unique opportunity to experience the City of Light in the footsteps of Julia Child.

Comment » | Vacation and Travel

Iron Chef Mexican Dinner

May 21st, 2014 — 5:38am

From left to right, top to bottom: arroz con leche (Mexican rice pudding); Mexican beers (Corona, Negra Modelo, and Pacifico); margaritas; cochinita pibil (slow-cooked achiote pork) tacos with roasted habanero salsa; chicken mole enchiladas; chicken suiza enchiladas; posole; tres leches cake; and Mexican chocolate mousse with burnt rum.

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Sausage With Chard and Rhubarb

May 20th, 2014 — 5:32am

DSC02792I’m always on the lookout for recipes and ways to use rhubarb that don’t involve adding boatloads of sugar. It’s not easy. That’s why this savory recipe from Melissa Clark stood out to me. Melissa Clark, a food writer for The New York Times, is one of my favorite recipe authors. Her recipes are very reliable, and she has a great way of putting a new spin on a particular ingredient or traditional recipe. I really enjoyed the simplicity of this dish—a hot Italian sausage on a bed of sauteed Swiss chard leaves. It’s very spring. The mustard seeds, garlic, rhubarb, and sausage juices provide a little heat and interesting, complex flavors.

Sausage With Chard and Rhubarb (from Melissa Clark via The New York Times; serves 2)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound hot Italian sausage (pork or turkey)
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced rhubarb
1 pound red or white Swiss chard, center ribs removed and leaves chopped
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper, as needed

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm oil. Prick sausages with a fork and place in skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer sausages to a plate.

Add shallots to oil and reduce heat to medium. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in mustard seeds and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add rhubarb and greens, a handful at a time, and a large pinch of salt. Cook until the greens wilt and become tender, about 10 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper. Serve sausages on top of greens.

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Ramp Deviled Eggs

May 19th, 2014 — 8:56am


Rumor has it that ramp season in Wisconsin is soon coming to a close. I bought a bunch from Harmony Valley Farm at Saturday’s farmers’ market just in case it ends up being the last opportunity. I wanted to bring something to my friend Claire’s graduation party later that day, but I didn’t have much time to cook. Thankfully, I had all of the ingredients on hand for ramp deviled eggs: eggs, ramps, and a little mayo and mustard. It’s a very quick and easy recipe, and the eggs look great topped with ramp green garnish, on a bed of ramp greens. I doubled the recipe for the party. The deviled eggs were a hit. And most importantly, I learned that my friend Claire is a huge fan of deviled eggs, which was perfect.

Ramp Deviled Eggs (from Chef Bonita at Harmony Valley Farm)

3 eggs (boiled, cooled, and peeled)
3 tablespoons ramp bulbs (finely chopped, reserving the greens for garnish)
1⁄4 c mayonnaise
1 t mustard (yellow or dijon)
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)

Slice the eggs from top to bottom and remove the yolks. Place the yolks in a bowl and the whites on a plate. Add the remaining ingredients to the yolks and mix well with a fork. Spoon the mixture into the egg white halves.

To serve, place the deviled eggs on a bad of raw ramp greens. Garnish with finely sliced ramp greens.

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Bike Blessing & Blueberry Pancakes

May 19th, 2014 — 4:25am

DSC02847My favorite bike rides involve some kind of adventure and food. One of my teammates proposed Sunday’s ride to Vermont Lutheran Church for their 5th Annual Bicycle Breakfast, which included a blessing of the bikes, and breakfast with Vermont-style pancakes (buttermilk and granola), fruit sauces (blueberry and rhubarb), sausage, orange juice, and rifle-range coffee. Proceeds supported DreamBikes. I was able to more easily motivate myself through the very hilly 30-mile trek to Vermont Valley knowing that pancakes were on the other side. When we finally pulled up to the church mid-morning, we were just in time for the bike blessing. Afterward, we headed down to the church basement, where we loaded up on pancakes, sausages and coffee. The breakfast absolutely hit the spot. Without it, I’m not sure how I would have gotten myself back to Madison. It was a great Sunday adventure, and a breakfast I will dream about until next year. DSC02833



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Asparagus and Ramp Pesto Mac ‘n Cheese

May 15th, 2014 — 7:21am

DSC02746I was really excited about this recipe and the combination of two of my spring favorites—asparagus and ramps—with mac ‘n cheese. I really like the flavor from the ramp pesto, and the addition of gruyere cheese and a bit of grainy mustard truly put this dish over the top. Thankfully, this recipe makes enough mac ‘n cheese to feed a family, or plenty of leftovers for two. I’ll definitely be adding this one to my repertoire. It’s springtime comfort food at its finest!

Asparagus and Ramp Pesto Mac ‘n Cheese (from Closet Cooking; serves 4-6)

4 cups water
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cleaned, reserving the stems
1 pound pasta, your choice
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups gruyere cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1/2 cup ramp pesto
1 cup gruyere cheese, grated

Bring the water and reserved asparagus stems to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes then remove the stems from the water.

Add the asparagus to the water and simmer until just tender, about 2 minutes.

Remove the asparagus from the water and set aside, reserving 2 cup of the water.

Start cooking the pasta as directed on the package.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it is bubbling and it has turned a light golden brown.

Mix in the flour and let simmer until it returns to a light golden brown.

Mix in the reserved asparagus water and cheese and heat until the sauce has thickened and the cheese has melted.

Season with salt and pepper, remove from heat and mix in the mustard, ramp pesto, cooked pasta and asparagus, and pour the mixture into a baking dish.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven until golden brown on the top and bubbling on the sides, about 30-40 minutes.


4 comments » | Kristin's Kitchen

Boiled Egg, Seared Asparagus & Pickled Onion Sandwich

May 14th, 2014 — 7:00am

DSC02725I’ve made this sandwich three times in the past two weeks. It was made even better with fresh asparagus and a French baguette from Saturday’s farmers’ market. I love the combination of hard boiled eggs, seared asparagus, and a slathering of French mustard and olive oil on a fresh baguette. The pickled onions are also a nice touch. I think it’s one of the most beautiful sandwiches I’ve ever seen! When I went to Stella’s at the market to pick up a baguette on Saturday, I was disappointed to see that they were sold out. Just in case, I asked if they would be getting more, and was pleasantly surprised when one of the employees got on his walkie talkie, radioed the driver, and reported back that they’d have a delivery of baguettes—hot from the oven—in 12 minutes. Twelve minutes later, armed with a steamy baguette and fresh asparagus, I was off to make my new favorite sandwich.

Boiled Egg, Seared Asparagus & Pickled Onion Sandwiches (from The Kitchn; serves 2)

1/2 a bunch of asparagus spears (about 15-20 spears)
2 small baguettes (or one large one and you’ll have bread leftover)
2 eggs, hard boiled
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons diced raw onion
2 tablespoons French mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
lemon juice to taste
fresh dill
salt and pepper

Hard boil the eggs and set aside. Trim the asparagus by cutting off the woody ends and cutting the spears in half length–wise as best you can. Dice the red onion and put in a small bowl with the red wine vinegar, set aside the onions while you’re doing the other parts of the sandwich.

In a large skillet over high heat, add a little oil. Sear the asparagus spears, about 3 or 4 minutes on each side. You want a little bit of char, so don’t move the asparagus very often. Split two mini baguettes in half (or one large baguette) and remove a little of the doughy center so the asparagus and egg can fit inside. Toast the bread lightly. Smear with good mustard, a little olive oil. Top with sliced egg, 1/2 of the asparagus, dill, and spray a little lemon all over the interior of the sandwich. Season with salt and pepper.

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Chocolate Blueberry Brownies

May 12th, 2014 — 8:09am


The biggest challenge of last month’s iron chef dinner was determining what to make for dessert. There aren’t many options that come to mind for me when I think of spinach. But I found the answer when I discovered this recipe while paging through Giada De Laurentiis’ new cookbook, Giada’s Feel Good Food. These brownies were inspired by a trip Giada took to St. Jude Children’s Research hospital, where the chef there, Mile T. McMath, makes brownies with blueberries and spinach. These brownies are moist and subtly sweet, supercharged with flax seed, blueberries and spinach. I don’t miss regular brownies at all while I’m eating these.

Chocolate Blueberry Brownies (from Giada’s Feel Good Food; makes 12 brownies)

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 large farm eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ cup Organic cane sugar
½ cup Blueberry and Spinach Puree (recipe below)
4 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. flax meal
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup rolled oats, ground in a food processor
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Blueberry and Spinach Puree
1 ½ cups raw baby spinach
¾ cup fresh or frozen unsweetened blueberries
½ tsp. lemon juice
2-3 Tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray only the bottom (not the sides) of a 9-inch square baking pan. Make the Blueberry and Spinach Puree first (recipe below). Set aside. Melt the butter and chocolate chips together in a double boiler or metal bowl over simmering water. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, stir together the eggs, vanilla, sugar and Puree. Combine this mixture with the cooled chocolate mixture.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flours, Flax Meal, cocoa powder, oats and salt. Add to the chocolate mixture and mix (do not over mix, similar to mixing pancake batter). Mix in the chopped walnuts, if using, then pour the entire mixture in to the baking pan. Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the pan before cutting the brownies. Brownies will keep up to a week in the refrigerator, covered tightly.

Blueberry and Spinach Puree
Wash and dry the spinach thoroughly (even if it’s triple-washed, bagged spinach). Bring the spinach and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Turn the heat down to low and allow to simmer 10 minutes.

Rinse and drain blueberries. Place blueberries, cooked spinach and lemon juice in the work bowl of a food processor or blender. Process on high until smooth, stopping occasionally if necessary to scrape the bowl. Add the more water if necessary, to make a smooth puree.

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Asparagus in Review

May 9th, 2014 — 6:01am

Rumor has it asparagus will make its first appearance at Saturday’s farmers’ market. Listed below (and pictured above) are my favorite recipes from the past several years.

Phyllo-Wrapped Asparagus with Prosciutto
Shaved Asparagus Pizza
Squid Ink Pasta with Asparagus
Asparagus, Poached Egg, Spring Onion & Garlic Over Grits
Fresh Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Crisps
Asparagus, Artichoke & Shiitake Risotto
Asparagus Rounds
Aspragus Breakfast Sandwich
Penne with Asparagus Carbonara
Asparagus and Ricotta Pizza (not pictured)
Asparagus and Gruyere Tart (not pictured)
Spaghetti with Asparagus, Shiitake Mushrooms, Lemon, and Chives (not pictured)

Comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Spinach and Matzoh Pie

May 8th, 2014 — 8:57am

DSC02609One of the dishes I made for last month’s Iron Chef Dinner was this Spinach and Matzoh Pie. I assumed it would taste like spinach lasagna, but it was actually much more like spanakopita. The matzo crackers took the place of thin sheets of phyllo dough. It’s a great dish for Passover, or any time of the year. The leftovers were also delicious warmed up the next day. This was actually my first time cooking with matzo. I also recently tried a recipe from Ruth Reichl for Matzo Brei, a wonderfully simple mix of butter, eggs, and crumbled matzos that Reichl calls “one of life’s perfect foods.”

Spinach and Matzoh Pie (from Gourmet, 2008; makes 8 servings)

1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped dill, divided
1 (16-ounce) container cottage cheese
2 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
6 ounces feta, crumbled (1 1/2 cups), divided
6 matzos (about 6 inches square)

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.

Cook onion in oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put spinach in a sieve and press out as much liquid as possible. Add spinach to onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/3 cup dill, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Purée cottage cheese in a blender with milk, eggs, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper until smooth. Reserve 2 cups in a bowl and stir remainder into spinach with 1 cup feta.

Stack matzos in a deep dish and pour reserved cottage-cheese mixture over them. Let stand 15 minutes to soften.

Arrange 2 soaked matzos side by side in a generously oiled 13- by 9- by 2-inch (3-quart shallow) baking dish. Pour in half of spinach filling. Cover with 2 more matzos, then pour in remaining filling. Put remaining 2 matzos on top and pour any remaining cottage-cheese mixture over them. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup feta.

Bake, uncovered, until golden and set, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then serve sprinkled with remaining 2 tablespoons dill.

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