Why we started this idea????

A passion for food, wine, friends and entertaining is a big part of our life. This is a way for us to document our experiences, passion for food & life and also share it with others.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mini Lobster Rolls

With the Super Bowl coming up you might be looking for some new appetizer options. Or possibly with Valentine's Day just around the corner you might be looking for a special starter to a romantic dinner. 

Either way these mini lobster rolls are a perfect match for either occasion or even better just as a great kick off to a Sunday dinner. 

This sweet, fresh and creamy seafood salad stuffed inside of some sweet Hawaiian rolls are absolutely divine. Additionally, they are over the top tasty and relatively simple to throw together. 

I started with a 1/2 pound of pre-cooked lobster. The recipe also called for using a 1/2 pound of pre-cooked lobster. I wasn't able to find pre-cooked lobster so I used a defrosted lobster tail that I baked in foil in the oven to use for the salad.

One addition to is that I do wish we would have first read the reviews for this recipe I found on Epicurious afterward that recommended hollowing out the rolls a bit before filling them with the salad. We just split them and it was difficult to fit much salad inside and the rolls are pretty sweet and although delicious can compete with the sweetness of the lobster and shrimp.

These yummy little bites of lobster and shrimp would be the perfect upscale addition to any Super Bowl gathering. Or if you are anything like me they'd be great to enjoy while watching the commercials since my hands will be busy turning the pages of my magazine during the actual game. 


Mini Lobster Rolls (recipe adapted from Epicurious)
1/2 pound cooked lobster, finely chopped
1/2 pound cooked shrimp, finely chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
24 small soft dinner rolls

Stir together all ingredients, except rolls, with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, then chill, covered, until ready to serve.
Cut down into tops of rolls to split them, but do not cut all the way through, and fill each with 1 rounded tablespoon seafood.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Fennel Themed Supper Club

We just kicked off our first gathering of Supper Club for 2013. The horrible flu hit one of our families so we were a smaller crew in January. 

The Guys staying out of the kitchen

Jenni & Arnie hosted us all. And they choose the fabulous theme of fennel. Is there any better tasting Winter veggie than fennel. Maybe, but it's definitely in the top 5. 

We kicked it off with an appetizer platter of Smoked Salmon with Grilled (roasted) Fennel and Red Onion Crostini. We found the inspiration on Epicurious, it called for smoked trout but we not huge fans of trout nor is it as easy to find and smoked salmon is.

 It was supper yummy. 

We moved from the appetizers to the dining room table.

Next we made a Creamy Fennel and Potato Soup also from Epicurious. 

Kris & Jeff made a wonderful Roasted Vegetable Salad with a Honey Dressing. A recipe they found on My Recipes.

Jenni & Arnie's main dish was a fabulous Braised Lamb Shanks with Fennel and Baby Potatoes from Bon Appetit.

As always we had plenty of great wines and one interesting Mangria to go along with our meal.

As usual I forgot to get photos of the dessert...arggghhh...we had some very tasty chocolate cupcakes with vanilla been and java chip ice cream. It was a perfect ending.

It was a good night with awesome food. We are all in agreement that fennel is delicious! 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pasta e Fagioli

Mmmmmm.....just remembering this soup that we made last week, "mmmm" is what comes to mind.

Hearty and earthy made with pasta, beans, pancetta and spicy Italian sausage. This Italian peasant soup left us feeling anything but deprived. 

The recipe we used didn't call for the Italian sausage originally but we were absolutely reaffirmed with this tweak when we took the first bite. It gave the soup another layer of flavor as well as a little more meatiness than the thinly sliced pancetta that we used provided. 

Served with some jazzed up refrigerated bread sticks brushed with olive oil, garlic and parmesan cheese it was great meal for a chilly Monday night.


Pasta e Fagioli (Adapted from Cuisine at Home January/February 2013)
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
6 oz. diced pancetta
1/2 lb ground spicy Italian sausage
11/2 cups diced onion
1/2 cup each diced carrots and celery
2 Tblspns tomato paste
1 Tblspn minced garlic
2 sprigs fresh thyme and sage
1 dried bay leaf
3 cans diced fire roasted tomatoes in juice (14.5 oz each)
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 cups dry ditalin pasta
Grated parmesan
Minced Italian parsley

Brown sausage in a large dutch oven and drain on paper towels. Cook pancetta in dutch oven. Transfer to paper towel lined plate and set aside with sausage.

Reserve 3 tablespoons drippings. Saute' onion, carrot, and celery in drippings until onion browns, 6-7 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and garlic, cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Deglaze pan with 1 cup chicken broth, scrapping brown bits. Add beans, remaining broth, sausage and pancetta. Add thyme and bay leaf. Cover dutch oven and cook 20-30 minutes until heated through.

In meantime cook pasta as directed on box. Drain. Add pasta to bottom of soup bowls, ladle soup over pasta. Grate parmesan over soup and add minced parsley. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Spiced Creamy Spinach Casserole

I love when we find a new dish that is truly nothing like we've made before but is full of the familiar flavors we know and love.

This Spiced Creamy Spinach Casserole is one of those exact dishes. We crave and adore Indian food. Those aromas and flavors...truly nothing compares. One dish we love to order when we visit our favorite local Indian restaurant, Gateway to India, is Saag Paneer. Spinach with yummy melted cheese it's so good.

When we made the Indian Spiced Salmon we wanted a side dish to round out the theme of the meal. We thought this recipe was perfect. 

A bit different; it called for Farmer's cheese instead of paneer and it had cubes of naan in the casserole. Finding farmer's cheese was bit of a challenge but luckily we found it at Metropolitan Market.

But the flavors were spot on. It was great stuff. The recipe made far too much of this casserole but it was super yum. And we also cooked with a brand new ingredient to us, Fenugreek, which evidently is used in many Indian dishes and is slightly flavored like maple syrup. 

Want to make a dish like you've never made before? We suggest giving this one a try. It could even make a great veggie main dish. 


Spiced Creamy Spinach Casserole (from Cuisine at Home January/February 2013)
3 Tblspn. unsalted butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1 Tblspn. minced fresh ginger
1 Tblspn. minced garlic
1 Tblspn. minced jalapeño
11/2 tspn ground cumin
11/2 tspn ground coriander
3/4 tspn turmeric
3/4 tspn ground fenugreek
3 Tblspn. flour
21/2 Cups whole milk
3 Cups cubed naan (or flatbread)
8 oz. diced Farmer's cheese
2 pkg. frozen, chopped spinach thawed and squeezed dry
Salt & Pepper to taste
Lime Wedges

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat 2 quart baking dish with non-stick spray. Melt butter in saute pan over medium low heat. Add onion  through fenugreek and sweat until onion in softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in flour to coat, cook 1 minute. Whisk in milk, cook until thickened about 5-8 minutes. Add naan, cheese and spinach with gravy. Season with salt & pepper. Transfer to baking dish. Bake until heated through and bubbly. Serve with lime wedges. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Salmon with Indian Spices en Papillote

During spring and summer fresh, wild caught salmon is pretty much on our weekly menu at least once or twice. 

During the winter months it's less often on the menu because finding it fresh is not as easy. But thank goodness it's also not impossible. 

During summer months we enjoy grilled  salmon with as little ado as possible. Because truly with excellent salmon you don't need much to make it extraordinary. 

But during winter we like to try some more creative preparations. We also love Indian flavors and fish cooked in parchment paper (or technically; en papillote.) It's healthy, fresh and makes for a somewhat easy clean up after. So this recipe along with a great raita sauce was a perfect match for us to try.

We let the pureed flavor mixture marinate on the salmon in the fridge for 15-20 minutes before wrapping the salmon in the parchment packets. 

Evidently wrapping fish in a pretty parchment packet like we get when we order in a restaurant isn't as easy as we thought it would be. Although our packets weren't pretty they did the job. 

The salmon turned out moist, succulent and perfectly flavored. 

It doesn't make for a great picture while in the parchment. This salmon was fantastic on a cold, winter evening. The exotic flavors made us feel it warm and like it wasn't really the middle of January. 

We loved it. Can't wait to make it again. 




Salmon with Indian Spices en Papillote
1/2 cup coarsely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon garam masala
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 2-pound center-cut piece of boneless salmon fillet, skin on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1  1/2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
3/4 cup finely chopped peeled, seeded cucumber
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
2 scallions, finely chopped1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

 Heat over 350 degrees. Purée ginger, 1 tablespoon garam masala, garlic, coriander, and cumin and 1/2 cup yogurt in a blender until coarse purée forms. 

Put salmon into a baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Coat salmon with ginger pureée. Let marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes. Wrap salmon in parchment paper like wrapping an envelope.

Meanwhile, stir yogurt, cucumber, cilantro, scallions, lime juice, and remaining 1 teaspoon garam masala in a medium bowl. Season raita to taste with salt and pepper.

Place parchment packets on cookie sheet cook 15-20 minutes until salmon is firm. Transfer salmon to a platter. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with raita.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I 100% self admit I am not a baker. If I haven't mentioned it before let me just say that my staff loves for me to cook for them but they tell me to stick to cooking and refrain from baking (said with the most appreciative of tones of course :)

The good thing is I'm okay with it. I don't get much pleasure from baking. I mean exact measurements, precision....not really my idea of fun in the kitchen.

But every now and then I do try again. And pretty much when I do give it a try it's either for a holiday tradition or something I'm doing to show some love for G.

When we first started dating he couldn't get enough of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. So I would, on occasion, make them for him. Through the years he's become much more of a dark chocolate fan. These triple chocolate chunk cookies are more in alignment with his cookie cravings these days.

He loved these cookies. They aren't exactly the most aesthetically pleasing cookies but the flavors hit the spot. 

I brought the majority of the cookies to school to get them out of our house and they we're a big hit with my teachers. 


Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies
2 C all purpose floor
3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 sticks softened butter
1 C packed brown sugar
3/4 C granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz. white bar chocolate chopped
1/2 cup dark chocolate  bar chopped
1 C chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (or silicon mats.

Whisk together dry ingredients. Cream butter and sugars with a mixer until fluffy about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg. Add vanilla. 

Add flour mixing until flour is no longer visible. Stir in chocolate and nuts until distributed.

Drop by spoonful or scoop on to prepared cookie sheets. Bake cookies until edges are set, 12-15 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheet, then transfer to rack. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Julia Child's Recipe for Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms & Cream

One of my favorite chicken dishes in the whole entire world is Chicken Marsala. There is truly nothing more tasty than the combination of mushrooms, wine and cream sauce over chicken in my opinion.  To be honest almost every new Italian restaurant we try I always first order the chicken Marsala to decide whether it's a restaurant that I want to revisit a second time or not.

I also learned to make chicken Marsala pretty well at home. But when I saw this recipe pinned on Pinterest made by Sugar & Spice by Celeste from Julia Child for Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Cream Sauce I decided I needed to give it a try because it had all of the things I love in a chicken recipe.

I finally got around to making it on a Tuesday after a horrifically awful day as a principal responsible for adults who make horrific choices with children but are legally protected by a very strong contract. Comfort, distraction from reality and a reason to open a good bottle of white wine were the perfect remedy for a bad day and need to make this recipe.

This may be the most simple, perfect recipe I've made yet from Julia Child. It really was straight forward and came all together quickly.

Although made with cream and dry vermouth this version of chicken with a mushroom cream sauce was so bright and tasted so much lighter than my favorite chicken Marsala recipes. We both think the addition of lemon juice made a huge difference in the lighter feel of this recipe. We served it with steamed asparagus and plain version of Risotto. 

We both loved this recipe and it easily will be added to one of our favorite recipes collection.

We enjoyed the dish paired with a wonderful Oregon made Chardonnay, Nuthouse made by Argyle Winery that we enjoyed visiting. 


Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons 
(Chicken Breasts with Mushroom and Cream)
Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Knopf, 1961) From Sugar & Spice by Celeste

4 supremes (boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Big pinch white pepper
5 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced shallot 
1/4 pound diced or sliced fresh mushrooms
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the sauce:
1/4 cup white or brown stock or canned beef bouillon
1/4 cup dry white vermouth
1 cup whipping cream
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons freshly minced green onion

Directions:Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rub the chicken breasts with drops of lemon juice and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a heavy, oven-proof casserole, about 10 inches in diameter until it is foaming. Stir in the minced shallots or green onion and saute a moment without browning. Then stir in the mushrooms and saute lightly for a minute or two without browning. Sprinkle with salt.

Quickly roll the chicken in the butter mixture and lay a piece of buttered wax paper over them, cover casserole and place in hot oven. After 6 minutes, press top of chicken with your finger. If still soft, return to oven for a moment or two. When the meat is springy to the touch it is done. (Please Note: Although Julia suggests to check the chicken after only 6 minutes, I cooked it for closer to 30-40 minutes. Please use a meat thermometer to ensure the correct temperature, 165 degrees, before serving!)

Remove the chicken to a warm platter (leave mushrooms in the pot) and cover while making the sauce (2 to 3 minutes).

To make sauce, pour the stock and vermouth in the casserole with the cooking butter and mushrooms. Boil down quickly over high heat until liquid is syrupy. Stir in the cream and boil down again over high heat until cream has thickened slightly. Off heat, taste for seasoning, and add drops of lemon juice to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with green onion nd serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Source: “Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I” by Julia Child (Knopf, 1961)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Baked Thai Spiced Chicken Wings

Football season and playoffs seem to bring out the chicken wing cravings around here.
We love pretty much all versions of chicken wings. But if I have anything to say about it they won't be deep fried, breaded nor heavily weighed down with the flavor of vinegar. I love them grilled but if the weather is too horrible then baked will suffice. ( I know these 3 requirements would be sac-religious to many serious chicken wing fans. G's definitely a serious wing connoisseur but he's  just gotten used to my palate or compromises on occasion, allowing me to jazz our wings up my way or he's, after almost 15 years, finally learning; Happy Wife, Happy Life.)

But one thing we are in ABSOLUTE agreement about in regards to chicken wings is that; regardless of the specific flavors  or cooking preparation they must be hot & spicy. 

And this baked Thai flavored version met that requirement. 

We served them with some wonderful oven roasted baby potatoes and our craving was fully met and satisfied.


Baked Thai Spiced Chicken Wings
1/2 Cup coarsely chopped lemongrass
1/2 Cup finely chopped cilantro
6 large cloves garlic, minced
2 Tblspns Sambal Oelek (or Sriracha)
2 tspns ground turmeric
2 tspns sea salt
20-30 Chicken wings

In large bowl, combine all ingredients. Add the chicken wings, cover and marinate for at least 2 hours, up to over night. Bake wings in a 350 degree oven on a a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cook 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Romaine Salad with Avocado and Caper Dressing

We do love a good salad. And sometimes I have to admit we get into a bit of a salad rut of always making the same salad over and over.

Our most favorite salad rut usually consists of some sort of organic greens; baby spinach, romaine or mixed greens most often. Some sort of fruit; apple or pear most often. Some sort of nuts; almonds or pecans often. And most often either a honey mustard type dressing or a raspberry vinaigrette. 

But then this recipe for a simple dressing that I found on Pinterest  inspired me to get out of our salad rut after such a long time.

This salad made with chopped romaine, slices of avocado, shaved Parmesan and a caper vinaigrette was the perfect change up to get us out of our boring salad habit. It was a bit hearty with the avocado and Parmesan. And it was a bit briny with the caper vinaigrette. 
Basically it was just what we need to give us more reasons to change up our salads a little more frequently.


Romaine Salad with Avocado and Caper Dressing
3--4 Cups roughly chopped,clean romaine
1 avocado, sliced
Shaved Parmesan
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin olive oil
1/4 Cup fresh lemon juice
1 tspn anchovy paste
1-2 Tblspns finely diced shallot
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tblspn creamy Dijon mustard
1Tblspn drained capers
Salt & Pepper

Mix anchovy paste, lemon juice, shallot, garlic & mustard. Slowly whisk in olive oil until it emulsifies. Add the capers and Salt & Pepper.

Gently mix the romaine and avocado. Toss with the dressing. Top with shaved romaine.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Beef Short Ribs with Tomatoes & Roasted Poblanos

The week before Christmas G was in the mood to spend a cozy Sunday cooking. Which we have have to admit is quite unusual this time of year. Because typically between November and March if it's a Sunday he's in the mood to be on the mountain.
 But when he is in this kind of mood its quite usual that beef short ribs will be on the menu. And even more usual that it will be a recipe inspired by Rick Bayless. So no surprise on this particular Sunday he made these wonderful Beef Short Ribs with Tomatoes and Roasted Poblanos.

We took the Porkchop along for a walk up to Metropolitan Market to pick out some gorgeously plump bone-in beef short ribs. She was  a bit rambunctious and needed some exercise before we hunkered in for a sitting by the fire, cooking most of the day... kind of day.

G found this recipe in Rick's Mexico One Plate at a Time cookbook. 

We started by roasting some smoky poblanos.

From this point G pretty much took over  & I went to play with the pup.

He first seared the ribs to get them browned and seasoned. 

Then he made the wonderful flavorful sauce to braise the ribs in.

He braised the ribs in the tomato poblano mixture for an hour and a half. I got in the picture a bit at this point and made some mashed, roasted sweet potatoes to serve our ribs on.

The ribs were amazing. Smoky and tender over the sweet mashed sweet potatoes. They were fantastic.

We decide to do a vertical tasting of our favorite Spanish everyday wine, Granacha de Fuego, along with our ribs. We tasted the 2010 alongside the 2011 vintage.

It was a great meal with some of our favorite wine. 


Beef Short Ribs with Tomatoes, Poblanos and Herbs (from Rick Bayless Mexico: One Plate at a Time)
5 poblanos
5 Tblspns vegetable oil
2 lbs bone in beef short ribs, trimmed of excess fat
1 large white onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 lbs ripe plum tomates
1 1/2 tspns fresh thyme
Cilantro for garnish
1. Roast poblanos under broiler until skin is blackened on all sides. Place charred poblanos in plastic or paper bag for 5 minutes to steam. Rub off blackened skin. Pull out stem, tear open and remove seed pods. Rinse to remove all seeds. Cut into strips.
2. Heat oven to 325 degrees. In dutch oven add vegetable oil. Sear ribs uncrowded in batches until all 4 sides are richly browned. Remove ribs to a plate and tip off all but a generous coating of oil at the bottom of pot.
3. In dutch oven reduce heat to medium. Add onion, stirring frequently until golden. Add the garlic and stir 1 minute, add tomatoes. Stir ocassionally until tomatoes have softened. Stir in poblano strips and 1 tspn salt and chopped thyme.
4. Nestle ribs back into tomato mixture, spooning sauce over them. Cook in over 1 1/2 hours. Check meat, it should be fork tender. In not braise another 15 minutes.
5. Remove meat to warm plate. Tip pot to collect sauce on one side and spoon off fat that rises to top. Taste the sauce. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Spoon sauce over meat to serve. Garnish with cilantro if you want. (G loves cilantro so he always does.)