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Archive for December, 2010

This recipe is based on an old Yiddish-a-bachur dish. I made a similar dish years ago at my old man’s house and thought it’d be good again. It was, but I might have made it a tad spicy for preggo’s taste buds. It’s that cayenne pepper I love so much. It didn’t turn out quite as pretty as I had wanted because the phyllo dough I had was pretty old and not as easy to work with as a fresh bought pack. I had to work faster than normal and didn’t get as many photos as I would have liked. Oh well, what can you do? It still tasted pretty damn good and that’s all that really matters.

My ingredient list included 12 oz of skinned salmon that I cut into three portions (we only needed one lunch the next day instead of 2), 1/2 cup of strained tomato, 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes, 5 garlic cloves minced, 2 ribs of celery chopped, the juice from half a lemon, 1 green bell pepper diced, 1/2 onion diced, 1 broccoli head broken down with stem skinned and chopped, a handful of cilantro chopped, and some phyllo dough (they spell it Fillo, take your pick).

Before I made the sauce I salted and peppered the salmon and then squeezed the lemon juice all over. I let it sit and rest while making the sauce. I heated up my sauce pan and added about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. I sweated down the onion, celery, and green pepper for about 7 minutes before adding the garlic and letting it saute for another 1 minute or so. Then I poured in the strained tomato and the canned tomatoes and let them boil down for about another 7 minutes. I grabbed my cayenne and ground cloves out of the spice rack and threw a few dashes of each in. Cut back on the cayenne if you want it less spicy. I seasoned with salt and pepper, turned of the heat, and stirred in the cilantro.

Working as fast as possible and using a moist dish towel to keep the phyllo from drying out I wrapped up the salmon. I layered 3-4 sheets on top of each other, topped it with a piece of salmon, spooned some of the sauce on top of the salmon, wrapped it all up, place it on an olive oiled baking sheet, and brushed more olive oil all over the phyllo to give it a nice golden color in the oven. I did this for all three pieces of salmon. Then, I put the sheet into a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

I steamed the broccoli during the last 5 minutes of baking time and re-heated the rest of the sauce. To serve, I threw it all on a plate and slapped a bowl of white rice next to it.

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Pregnant women need to snack. Fetus’s need nutrition. Fetus’s push against the digestive tracts of pregnant women. Sometimes you just need something to accommodate all three of these statements. That’s why I created this muffin yesterday. It’s packed full of healthy grains, probiotics, fiber…you know, things that keep the pipes running smoothly. And let’s be honest here though, these muffins aren’t just for pregnant women!

I used 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour, 1/2 pound of pitted prunes chopped up, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 cups of plain kefir, 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/2 cup of rolled oats.

In a large glass bowl I first mixed together all of the dry ingredients very thoroughly. Then, 1/2 cup at a time I stirred in the kefir until I had a nice smooth batter. After that I added the prunes and mixed them in. I poured them into my 12 muffin pan that had been lightly sprayed with baking spray and tossed them into a 400 degree oven. It took about 25 minutes for them to cook. I took a good night’s sleep for them to do their trick on me. I couldn’t be happier with the results of these muffins…both of the results.

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Last night I made a classic Beef and Barley stew. I didn’t quite make it using the classic ingredients though. Instead of potatoes I used sweet potatoes. Instead of the popular pearl barley I used hulled barley. Instead of stew meat, usually beef from the round or chuck roast, I used brisket. Oh brisket, how I love thee! I did this for health reasons as sweet potatoes have more nutrients than regular ones and hulled barley is a whole grain that still has the germ, it has 8 essential amino acids. While brisket isn’t any healtheir than typical stew meat it’s all about flavor and texture.

My ingredient list included 3 medium sized sweet potatoes skinned and chopped, 1 tablespoon of dried oregano, 2 medium sized carrots chopped, 3 stalks of celery chopped, 1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce, 1 onion chopped, 2 cups of beef stock, 2 medium sized parsnips chopped, 5 cloves of garlic diced, 1 14oz can of peeled whole tomatoes, 1/2 cup of rinsed hulled barley, 2/3 cup of edamame, and 1 pound of brisket cubed. Not in the picture are 1 tablespoon of flour, 2 bay leaves, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

I started by heating up my stock pot. Once hot I poured in the olive oil, added the brisket, and sprinkled the flour on top. I stirred it all around just until the surface of the beef turned brown and no longer pink. Then I added the onion, celery, and garlic and sweated them down for about 5 minutes. After that I poured in the stock, added the bay leaves, brought it up to a boil, covered, turned the heat down, and let it simmer for about an hour.

Once the hour passed by I tossed in the barley, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, worcestershire, and oregano. I let that come back to a boil and let it simmer for another 45 minutes.

Finally, I added the edamame and tomatoes with their juice. I took each tomato out one at a time and broke them up with my hands as they dropped into the stew. Once everything was mixed in I seasoned with salt and pepper and let it stew for about 15 more minutes to bring it all together.

A couple slices of toast, a bowl of hot beef and barley stew, and a nice cold beer and that’s all she wrote.

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This is a dish I made last week when I noticed that blue crab meat was on sale. The meat came in little sealed containers and was much fresher than canned crab meat. I thought making a spaghetti with it would be a good way to go. I also made a simple soup to go with it, along with some wheat bread. I made this Friday night so the recipe is only portioned for 2 servings.

I made the soup first since I could just re-heat it when the spaghetti was ready. I used 1/2 an onion sliced, 2 garlic cloves chopped, 1 carrot chopped, 1 can of cannellini beans rinsed and drained, 1 cup of chicken stock, and a large handful of baby spinach.

Real simple, I poured the stock in a soup pan and added the onion, carrot, and garlic. I brought it to a boil, turned the heat down, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Then I added the beans and spinach and turned off the heat. The beans and spinach don’t need to be cooked so I could just let them heat up when I re-heated the soup. Before serving I seasoned with salt and pepper.

The spaghetti was real simple as well. I used 1 red bell pepper chopped, 1/2 onion chopped, 1 14oz can of Italian peeled tomatoes, 1 8oz container of blue crab meat, 3 cloves of garlic chopped, and 3/4 oz of basil.

I threw the onion, tomatoes, and garlic and into my blender. I filled the tomato can about half-way with water and added that as well along with a few red pepper flakes. I let it go until I had a smooth tomato sauce.

In a pan I heated up about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sautéed the red pepper for 5 minutes. Then I poured in the tomato sauce and let that come up to a boil. Once it started bubbling I turned the heat down and let the raw onion and garlic in it cook out for about 10 minutes. While that was going on I picked through the crab meat to make sure all of the shells had been removed and then added it to the sauce with all of its juice. I cooked some spaghetti noodles according to package instructions, heated up the soup, seasoned the crab-tomato sauce with salt and pepper and added the basil, and then served it all up.

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The other night Yuki was craving a big burger. To be honest, I should have knocked her up a long time ago. Pregnancy has her craving red meat. I’ve often said that red meat is my favorite vegetable. She wanted a burger, who was I to say no? We had a Groupon for the Paramount Room so it all worked out a little too perfectly.

The Paramount Room is known for their $9 Kobe Burger. They also have a nice beer list. Yuki couldn’t enjoy the beer list, but I was more than happy to enjoy it for both of us, I mean the three of us.

It’s your basic neighborhood bar with exposed brick walls, loud rock’n’roll, and a TV over the bar playing the Bulls game (it’s still weird to see Hinrich in a Wizzards uniform). The menu is nice and short with basic bar food fare. We really didn’t have to look at the menu though because we both knew we’d be full of Kobe Burger way before we ever walked through their front door. And boy were we ever full of Kobe Burger!

I know the picture is terrible, but just imagine two plates with 1/2 pound burgers, lettuce, tomato, and red onion. On one we got the french fries, on the other we got the tempura green beans. The fries came with ketchup and a garlic aioli while the green beans came with a red chili dipping sauce. I got my burger with the applewood smoked bacon, sautéed mushrooms, and blue cheese. Yuki got the same only with cheddar instead of blue.

I will say, the beef was not Japanese Kobe, it was Kobe-style wagu beef probably from Nebraska (most beef that’s called Kobe in America is not from Japan). If it were real Kobe from Japan there is no way they could serve 1/2 pound for $9, it’d be more like $35. That said, Kobe-style beef from Nebraska is not a bad thing, it’s still a very tasty high quality meat. That came through in this burger as it was a very delicious burger. Very juicy and full of beefy goodness. They are also using high quality bacon and cheeses (no velveeta on this plate!). What really made the burgers stand out though was the sautéed mushrooms. I was fully expecting regular old button mushrooms, maybe cremini. No no no. They went full-out and threw some oyster mushrooms under the bun for these bad boys! While the flavor of oyster mushrooms was nice with the beef it was the texture that put it over the top. Very nice touch, very nice indeed.

As for the fries and tempura green beans, they were just your average fries and tempura green beans. They were cooked properly though and the sauces were nice. With garlic aioli on top of my blue cheese I was extremely kissable!

All in all I would definitely put the Paramount Room’s Kobe Burgers up with the best of them. Are they the best? Probably not, there are some damn good burgers around, not to mention the ones I grill up myself (ask any of my high school buddies, I am famous for my ghetto burgers). They are in the discussion though, thanks to the oyster mushrooms. With the Paramount Room being very close to our apartment I can definitely see more trips there in our future, as long as Yuki is pregnant and craving red meat.

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Yuki made this soup the other night. We came across uncased sausage at the store and that made her want to make this soup. It’s a very simple, very healthy, very tasty, and very quick light dinner. While she made the soup, I did all of the prep for her. I love using my santoku!

We picked up 1 pound of the sausage, I sliced 1/2 onion, chopped up 1 head of broccoli, 7 fingering potatoes, 1 carrot, 1/2 head of cabbage, sliced 2 blocks of fried tofu, and diced 3 garlic cloves. She used 1 cup of chicken stock for added broth flavor.

In a soup pot she boiled 2 cups of water with the chicken stock and added everything. She let it slowly simmer for about 15 minutes and then seasoned with salt and pepper. That’s all it took. A simple boil lets the ingredients to the talking. She had some white rice with hers while I just grabbed some bread to go along with my bowl.

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Friday night Yuki and I took advantage of another Groupon we had purchased a while back. Gotta love Groupon, great opportunities to try new places at a discount. This one was for an Ethiopian restaurant we haven’t tried yet, Demera. We love Ethiopian food and had read good things about Demera, so it was one of those things that had to be done.

Apparently we weren’t alone in our love for Ethiopian food. We didn’t have a reservation and when we got there, about 6:30 or so, we were told there was a 15-20 minute wait. No worries, we had just driven all the way up to Lawrence and Broadway, no way were we going to turn back. A few minutes of waiting and the manager came by and said there would be a 35-45 minute wait. Eh? How’d it get longer? It ended up only being about 15 minutes, so I’m glad we stuck it out.

Typically a beer drinker with Ethiopian food I saw that they have house made honey wine. Had to give that a try. Not so sure I’m glad I did. It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t say it was good either. Honey fermented with hops. It was like a honeyweiss without the bubbles. Not a big fan of honeyweiss. Oh well, it was tolerable. Next time I’m sticking with beer though.

We started off with the Sambussa Sampler. Basically it’s one each of their sambussas…beef, chicken, tuna, lentils, and spinach. Served with a spicy little chili sauce they were all very good. Simple, but delicious and homemade.

For the main course we had to go with the Messob, traditional communal dining. That way we could sample a bunch of different items instead of each of us ordering 1 dish. Plus, it’s the Ethiopian way to eat. Why eat American-style at an ethnic restaurant? Starting at the top and going clockwise we got the quosta (spinach), ye-shimbra assa (ground chickpeas), michetabish (ground beef), ye-salmon dulet (salmon with homemade cottage cheese), doro wat (chicken and hard-boiled egg in berbere, Ethiopia’s national dish), lega tibs (lamb with rosemary), and a salad in the center. Of course, everything was served on top of a piece of injera with plenty of injera on the side to grip and scoop our food. We couldn’t finish everything, but we expected that. Gotta love Ethiopian leftovers the next day, yet another similarity between Ethiopian food and Indian food (simmered food, communal dining, similar spices, same upset stomach, etc.).

In all honesty, we probably could have finished our dinner, but not only would we have missed out on leftovers, we would have missed out on dessert! We decided to split the hibist volcano. I’ve never had hibist bread before. It’s very much like a thick sweet roll. If it weren’t for the refreshingly cold ice cream on top I don’t know that we could have eaten it all. The spiced lemon sauce was really good as well.

Overall, everything we ate was delicious! Would I call Demera the best Ethiopian food in Chicago? I don’t know about that. Ras Dashen and Abyssinia are right up there as well, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the three. I think it all depends on what you are looking for. If I were in the mood for doro wat I would go to either Ras Dashen or Abyssinia. If I wanted seafood I’d come to Demera (the salmon was fantastic with the jalapeno and cheese). It’s really a toss-up. I’m sure I’ll be back at all three at some point in my life, and my digestive system will be all the better for it.

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The other night I made one of Yuki’s favorites, a dish she usually makes. She, like most Japanese absolutely love nabe in the winter time and it’s hard to blame her. You just can’t beat a good table-top soup filled with meat, veggies, and a good broth. I think chicken meatballs rolled in cabbage is her favorite and one she’s made quite a few times for me, so this time I made it for her.

First thing I did was get the meatballs wrapped and ready to go. I used chicken stock as my base for the broth so I used 2 cups of it to soak a heaping tablespoon of dried hijiki seaweed for about 30 minutes before I could do much else. When the hijike was rehydrated I strained the broth into a soup pot. The rest of my meatball ingredients were 1/2 red onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 inch of ginger, 1 pound of ground chicken thigh, and a small head of napa cabbage.

To make the cabbage more pliable I dropped it into some salted boiling water and let it boil for about 2 minutes. Then I took it out and shocked it in ice water. The boiling water softened it making it easier to roll while shocking it in ice water helps it retain its color.

In a glass bowl I grated the onion, garlic, and ginger into the chicken meat, added the hijiki, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and mixed it thoroughly. Then I rolled walnut-sized meatballs in the cabbage and secured them with toothpicks.

The rest of my ingredients for the nabe were 6 green onions chopped, 2 small carrots chopped, 1 small daikon chopped, 7 fingerling potatoes halved, 8 shiitake halved, a package of fried tofu sliced, and 1 Honey 1 Rib (yes, I am finding creative ways to finish up those ribs since I over-ordered).

I put the rib in the chicken stock that had already soaked the hijiki and added 2 cups of water. I brought that to a boil and let the rib simmer in the broth for about 15 minutes. Then I strained the broth into our nabe (clay pot). The rib added some nice smokey depth to the broth. It also gave me some moist tender meat to nosh on while finishing up the cooking.

Then I brought the broth back to a slow boil and added the chicken-cabbage rolls. I let them cook for about 15 minutes to make sure they cooked all the way through. Once they were cooked I took them out and set them aside.

I kept the broth at a low boil and added all of the veggies. I let them all cook for about 10 minutes.

Once all of the veggies were cooked I added the chicken-cabbage rolls back and took the nabe to our table-top propane burner.

 To serve, I poured about a tablespoon of ponzu in each of our bowls. We helped ourselves by adding broth, meatballs, and vegetables along with a dash of togarashi. I had white rice topped with ground sesame seeds along with it.

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Armed with a full slab of ribs left from Honey 1 BBQ I threw together a chili-like stew. After sitting in the fridge for a day they did get a little dry. That deep smoky meat was perfect to use.

I chopped up 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 orange bell pepper, 1 carrot, 1 onion, I minced 3 cloves of garlic, soaked 1 cup of black beans for 1 hour after boiling for 2 minutes, 1 can of white kidney beans, 4 ounces of baby spinach, shredded the meat off 1/2 slab of ribs, the bbq sauce that came with the ribs, and used 2 cups of chicken stock.

In my large stock pot I heated up some olive oil and then sweated the peppers, onion, carrot, and garlic for about 8 minutes or so.

While that was going on I realized that I had 3 yukon gold potatoes sitting around. So, I skinned them, chopped them up, and added them to the pot. I let them cook for about 3 or 4 minutes before adding the chicken stock.

While the chicken stock was being brought up to a boil I noticed I had a couple of tomatoes. So, I chopped them up.

When the stock came to a slow boil I added the tomatoes along with the meat and let that simmer for about 8 minutes before adding all of the bean and the bbq sauce. I turned the heat to med-low, covered the pot, and let it go for about 15 minutes. Right before serving I added the spinach and stirred it in until it had all slightly wilted. Then I turned off the heat and served it.

I placed some toast in the bowl before scooping the stew in. Then I topped with some habanero-jack cheese and some sour cream. It tasted fantastic! I got 4 servings out of this and still have 1/2 slab of Honey 1 BBQ ribs left.

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Ground lamb was on sale at the store, so I picked a pound up and made this Indian-style curry with it. Usually, curry is made with chunks of meat, I improvised since ground lamb was cheaper.

First thing I did was make the meatballs. I put the lamb in a glass dish, sprinkled 1 teaspoon of ground cumin on top, then grated in 1/2 a red onion,  2 garlic cloves, and 1/2 inch of ginger. A little salt and pepper and I mixed it all together.

After letting the mixed meat sit for about 10 minutes I rolled it up into quarter-sized balls. I let them sit in the fridge to hold shape while I got the curry sauce ready.

For the curry I used 1 cup of coconut milk, 1 carrot rough chopped, 1/2 red onion rough chopped, 1 medium-sized yam skinned and diced, juice from 1 lime, 1/2 inch ginger chopped, 4 garlic cloves chopped, about 3 ounces of baby spinach, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 can of chickpeas, 1 teaspoon each of garam masala, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and coriander, and the seeds from 4 cardamom pods.  There’s a big juicy orange bell pepper in the picture, but I decided not to use it for the curry.

With my pestle and mortar I ground up the coriander seeds and cardamom. I added the rest of the spices to this mixture.

I threw everything except for the yam, chickpeas, lime juice, and spinach into my blender and let her rip until I had a nice smooth sauce. I decided to add 1 tablespoon of flour while it was blending to help thicken it up while I cooked it.

I heated 1 tablespoon of ghee in a large skillet and browned the outside of the lamb balls. Once they got some color and I was sure they’d hold their shape I removed them with a slotted spoon leaving behind the ghee and lamb fat.

I poured in the curry sauce and let it come to a slow simmer for about 10 minutes to take the rawness from all of the veggies that were in it.

Then I added the diced yam, chickpeas, and meatballs. I let them cook in the curry for about 15 minutes to make sure the meatballs were cooked through and the yam not too hard. Just before taking the curry off the heat I added the spinach and mixed it in so that it wilted slightly. Then I turned off the heat and mixed in the lime juice while seasoning with salt and pepper.

I served it with white rice and garnished with some fresh cilantro.

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