Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunny Morning

Seattle is enjoying its first sunny weekend in a long time! There is new growth on the paperwhite bulb I planted in early January. It feels like spring might just be around the corner, for this weekend anyway. I have recently bought another container for planting some hyacinths once they become available. Last year I fell in love with their scent. It started with one perfuming the kitchen and when that faded, I replaced it. I ended up purchasing three in succession. Those bulbs are in the yard now. Hopefully, they will visit us again this spring.

Saturday morning Jack woke up with the cough he has had for about a week now. Enough was enough, he was ready to go to the doctor. I made arrangements and then started thinking about breakfast. We had just over an hour before the appointment. Hmmmm... I have really been into grapefruit lately. I recently picked up the February edition of "Eating Well". There is a whole section on citrus; savory and sweet. I decided to make Jack and I the dessert "Grapefruit Brulee"(p. 57) for a quick breakfast before his trip to the doctor. You may think that I am quite daring to attempt a brulee in a short amount of time. You may also think I am a little silly for serving a dessert for breakfast. Fear not. Although I respect the magazine, I think "brulee" was used loosely and this is a dessert on a diet.

Grapefruit Brulee
"Eating Well" Feb 2007
Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough

3 large pink or ruby-red grapefruits
6 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon of butter, cut into tiny pieces
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1. Position oven rack about 5 inches from broiler; preheat broiler
2. Slice the stem end and opposite end off each grape fruit. Stand the grape fruit, one cut end down, on a work surface. Cut off the rind and pith with a sharp knife, making sure to remove all the white pith. Cut each fruit into 4 rounds, about a half inch thick, by making slices parallel to the ones you made on the top and bottom.
3. Place the slices in a large baking pan in a single layer. Top each with 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar, dot with butter and sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg.
4. Broil the grapefruit until bubbling and starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Drizzle pan juices over each serving.


Jack found a warm grapefruit to be a little odd. He wondered if he might like it better cold. I, on the other hand, loved this dish. The membranes around each section of the fruit take a little navigating, but it's worth it. The butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar go nicely with the tart, sour grapefruit.

The doctor said Jack had a cold that was heavy on the cough. Maybe the vitamin C from breakfast will help him out. I guess I should take a look at some chicken soup recipes next.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Arsenal of Family Recipes

Last week Jack had a brilliant idea. He employed his love of cooking breakfast to host a pancake playoff breakfast last Sunday. Eleven of us gathered around the television to watch a very close game in which our charismatic Seahawks lost to the Chicago Bears. Yes, I did use the term "charismatic"to describe a pro football team. We've got nice guys Josh Brown, Matt Hasselbeck, and Shaun Alexander. In fact, once you've seen Shaun Alexander's smile, you'll realize there's no argument. Ah, I digress. What to do when your team must exit the playoffs? Employ your best emotional eating techniques and enjoy the food. My humble opinion tells me there is no better way to get over that 49 yard field goal in sudden death overtime, making the score 27-24. Jack's blueberry pancakes were in our bellies to aid in adjusting to the end of the season.
For my part, I sought out my best Midwest brunch recipes; Cheese Strata and Sticky Buns. I usually try to eat healthy, but I bring out these recipes for special get-togethers and holidays just as my extended family does. When you're part of a 20-member, Midwest family with German-Catholic roots you can expect congregating for nearly every birthday and first communion. This presents many opportunities for testing recipes on a broad range of tastes and ages. Winners will emerge. Since I've moved to the West coast, my mother has been supplying me with hand written or typed instructions for the tried and true, the food of my memories.

Cheese Strata
Grandma Lucile Bohr

1/2 cup Margarine or butter
10 - 12 Slices of bread, trim crusts and cut/tear into cubes
1 cup Crab meat, canned or frozen, drained
1/2 cup Old English cheese, cut into cubes (I doubted this cheese could be found in Seattle, so I used the almighty Cheddar)
4oz of Canned or fresh mushrooms
5 Eggs
2 cups of milk
Salt, pepper, dry mustard, red pepper (I guessed a teaspoon of the first 3, & a conservative 1/2 teaspoon of the red pepper)
I added cubed red bell pepper (1 small pepper)

Melt butter in a 9 x 13" pan. Put half of bread cubes and cheese cubes in pan. Sprinkle crab meat and mushrooms over top. make another layer of bread and cheese cubes. Combine eggs, milk, and seasonings; pour over all. Let stand overnight in fridge. Bake at 350 about 1 hour. Serves 8 to 10.

For variation in tastes and budget, try substituting ham, chipped beef, tuna, shrimp, or lobster for crab.

Sticky Buns
Kris Bauman

2 dozen Frozen dinner rolls
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 cup Nuts
1/2 cup Brown sugar
1/2 cup Sugar
1 (3.5 oz) box Butterscotch pudding (not instant)
1/2 stick Butter

Grease a 9 x 13" pan well. Melt butter and brown sugar together and spread on bottom of pan. Sprinkle nuts, then dry pudding mix. Mix white sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle on top of mixture in pan. Place dinner rolls in pan. Cover with foil and let stand in a warm place overnight.
Bake uncovered, at 350 four about 30 minutes. Invert on plate immediately.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Holiday Pictures

This is a quick pictorial post.

Christmas Eve a Karen's. This was her yummy crab cheese dip with a cute presentation.
Me cooking Roast Beef Tenderloin with Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Stuffing from the Cook's Illustrated December 2006 issue.

There' s some spinach in there too.
A silly picture Annabelle going for a gift bone. Thanks mom and dad!

Getting Steamy in the Kitchen

I am back after a long absence - whew! There were the holidays of course and a new job before that. I have been cooking all along, but not from the "Asian" cookbook. It's time to get back into the fish sauce and garlic. In November, I made "Steamed Fish and Green Onions with Ginger" from page 58. My mouth still waters when I remember this meal. We splurged on the fish; halibut for $15.99 a pound - oh, but it was worth it. To me, halibut tastes buttery, yet clean, almost crisp. It has a refreshing quality to it that makes me feel a little healthier for eating it. The ginger and green onion flavors in the sauce add to that satisfying, yet healthy experience. This kind of meal is great after a few nights of heavy eats. In the past, Jack and I have made a tofu udon noodle dish with ginger, garlic and green tea leaves used like a spice when we feel like we need a "cleansing". I can add this recipe to that category.
I had a certain challenge as I prepared this meal. The fish is mean to to be steamed in a bamboo steamer. I have admired bamboo steamers from afar. I used to eat dim sum at Pike's Market on my lunch break when I worked downtown. The vendor had large bamboo steamers for the steamed meat-filled dumplings and buns. My Christmas list and time constraints did not allow me to buy one before making this meal. Our limited storage in the kitchen makes me hesitate as well. Anyway, I had to come up with a makeshift version of the traditional steamer. I filled my stir-fry pan with a bit of water and placed a metal steamer in the pan. The fish is instructed to be placed on top of a bed of green onions on a plate. The bed of green onions was simple, but what a way to add flavor! I placed the plate on the metal steamer and covered the setup with a frying pan. I believe this will be the closest to mechanical engineering that I will ever get.