Archive for May, 2011

In the seemingly neverending quest to use up stuff from the freezer/fridge/pantry, I made this tart, and I finally used up that super expensive Dufours puff pastry!! Which I gotta say, was quite a bit better than the usual Pepperidge farm.

I used the following:

1 sheet puff pastry rolled out

6 oz sherried crimini mushrooms (sauteed mushrooms and thyme, deglazed pan with sherry)

a few tablespoons mascarpone

a few ounces shredded aged gouda

minced sage


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Roll out puff pastry – score edge 1/4 inch from edge. Layer with mascarpone, aged gouda, sherried mushrooms and sprinkle with sage. Throw in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Verdict: Pretty tasty!

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I’m back…sorta.

So a few years ago I started this blog cause I wanted to keep track of recipes I had made. Then…I started to get sucked into the whole blogging thing – arranging food for semi decent pictures (I was even considering buying a super expensive camera JUST for this purpose). I spent time trying to market the blog and spent lots of time writing content. And then…it wasn’t fun anymore and became an obligation. So instead, I’m just going to keep this as a personal food diary. That’s it.

We’ll see how long this lasts…

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Guac the way I make it (more or less)

Guac the way I make it (more or less)

We’ve been making a ton of guacamole lately. Which is kinda weird for us – not something we usually eat. Thought I’d post the recipe here.

Do you really need a recipe for guacamole? Probably not. It’s kinda like salsa – add a little of this, a little of that and voila. But anyhoo, here it is just for fun:



1 Haas Avocado (ok, those ones usually in the store) – a little squishy to the touch

1 medium sized tomato seeded and chopped

1 T red onion or so

1 clove of garlic minced (pressed, whatever)

1 jalepeno seeded (wuss) and chopped

1/2 lime

1 T or so (give or take) cilantro chopped

salt. Do.Not.Forget.To.Salt.Your.Food


Combine. Eat it. The end.

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Sometimes, you need an easy weeknight meal. And this can be an easy weeknight meal with just a smidge of forethought.

This dish comes together in the time that it takes to boil pasta PROVIDED you have some roasted garlic. So just make sure you have that ready, m’kay?

How to roast garlic: preheat your oven to 350 degrees, take a head of garlic, lop off a little of the stem (not the root) end, put it in a piece of foil, coat it in oil, close up the foil tightly around the garlic and roast for about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle – squeeze roasted garlic from each of the cloves.

Store: use right away, freeze or refrigerate in airtight container for up to a week tops.

Anyway, I had a craving for pasta with peas in a cream sauce and came across this one from Wolfgang Puck that sounded like it would fit the bill. He uses goat cheese, I use mascarpone. I like feta, but plain old goat cheese is a little too rank for my likings. Hence the swap.

Pasta with Peas and Prosciutto in Mascarpone Cream Sauce

Adapted from Wolfgang Puck
Serves 4-6

3 T olive oil
1/2 medium white onion (4 oz), chopped fine
2 T of roasted garlic
1.5 cups Chicken stock
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 oz Mascarpone cheese (Puck uses goat cheese here)
1 T butter (Puck uses 4 T…I couldn’t do it)
1/2 t minced fresh oregano
1/2 t minced fresh thyme
12 oz pasta (Puck uses Penne)
8-10 oz shelled peas (Puck uses 8 oz, but a bag has 10 so…)
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes cut into strips
1/4 cup prosciutto cut into strips
chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook till al dente.

2. While the pasta is cooking, in a large saute pan, heat the oil. Over medium heat, saute the onions until golden.

3. Stir in the garlic, stock, Parmesan, Mascarpone and butter. Cook until the sauce thickens slightly. Season with the oregano, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add the cooked pasta to the saute pan. Stir to coat.

5. Stir in the peas and tomatoes and cook 1-2 minutes longer. Just before serving, stir in the prosciutto. Adjust seasonings. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley if desired.


Ms. Pantry Raid

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Boiling bagels gives them a crisp crust

Boiling bagels gives them a crisp crust

Do you like your bagels steamed or boiled? That is the question.

To be honest, before I made them myself, I didn’t have a clue. If someone had told me – I know the place to get the best hand rolled, steamed bagels, I would say GREAT! Lead the way! Being not from Bagel-land, I had no idea what makes a great bagel. A little research has unearthed the fact that bagel afficionados prefer the boiled bagel. It’s the way they “used to do it” before places with the 6 inch Cinnamon Crunch bagel took over the world (not naming any names here).

What does boiling do exactly? Well, it gives the bagel a little bit of a chewy crust. And really, you when you make these, you will realize this makes all the difference in the world. The water doesn’t really penetrate very far into the dough during boiling (something about the starches gelatinizing), so there is this very slight crust that is formed that forms when baking. You will notice the little bit of crunch on the crust that you just don’t get from steamed bagels. And the bagels themselves are chewier. To be honest, they rule. The little bit of crust is the “holy cow – these are so much better” that willl set your homemade, boiled bagels apart from the ones you get at the local bagel shop (well, alright, unless you are lucky enough to live by a place that actually boils their bagels. Most don’t though ¬†– it is too labor intensive a process).

Next up, of course, there is the water controversy. As in, “bagels can only be made from water from Brooklyn. The End”. Well, what’s a Chicaogoan to do? I mean, I COULD import water like this Bagel place. Alas, I think good old Chicago tap will have to do.

Alright, making your own bagels takes time, but it isn’t hard. It is a two day process. Which is actually ok because you want your bagels fresh, first thing in the morning, right? So get to it. You won’t be disappointed.

The recipe I used is from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread, which, if you haven’t already checked this book out and are interested in baking, GET THIS BOOK PRONTO (and if you don’t want to get the book, head over to Smitten Kitchen for the recipe). It is bread making demystified. And if you are interested in learning bread making with a whole mess of people from around the world, get in on the BBA Challenge (I, personally, cannot bring myself to bake bread every week, but I will s-l-o-w-l-y work my way through the book on my own).

Oh Рone note РI caramelized some onions to use as a topper. I would not recommend doing that. They are just way too greasy. Instead РI would probably purchase onion flakes or some sort of dehydrated onion product.  Just my two cents.

Finally – storage. I stored mine on the counter on a plate…loosely wrapped in plastic wrap for maybe 3 days. I would have stored them in the freezer, but we had company that weekend and managed to blow through the whole batch pretty quickly. I would not, under any circumstances, stick them in the fridge.


Ms. Pantry Raid

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Ever been to one of those olive oil/vinegar bars? I know they are popping up all over the place – even the local mall. When I was in Door County, WI a few months ago, I finally visited one.

If you live in, say, the Chicago area, you should be quite familiar with Door County. It’s one of the 20-some destinations in Wisconsin that frazzled Chicagoans escape to on the weekends during the summer. And as such, yes, there is a bit of Chicago-Wisconsin animosity. I know – I used to live there. I readily used the term FIB* and yet…now I am one.

Anyhow, Door County is filled with little shops and restaurants. I am a bit nostalgic about the place – having gone there almost yearly since birth (in my pre-FIB days). As I said previously, on my most recent trip, I came across a little olive oil/vinegar bar called Fish Creek Oilerie. They had all kinds of oils and vinegars to sample. I came across their aged balsamic – did a shot and…swoon! This is some of the best balsamic vinegar I’ve ever had. Especially for the price. So I scarfed up a bottle.

Now what to do with it? Tons of things. I’ve been meaning to glaze some chicken with it. But for today, we’re going to throw it on some berries.

I wish I could give a recipe for this, but I really don’t have one. I eyeballed everything.

More or less, this is what I did:

Balsamic Vinegar
Vanilla Extract

Sliced some berries.

Poured a few tablespoons of balsamic into a bowl. Added a smidge of sugar. Tossed in the berries and stirred to coat.

Then I grabbed another bowl – threw in maybe half a cup of mascarpone cheese. Then maybe 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla. And maybe some sugar. Stirred it up.

Then I put the berries in a serving dish and served them with a dollop of mascarpone.

Good stuff! Enjoy!

Ms. Pantry Raid

*For your education: FIB.

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