Monthly Archives: January 2012

For the Love of Pork…

It may not be 100% authentic Alsatian, but how can you go wrong with three kinds of pork, sauerkraut, apples and a bottle of beer poured over the whole mess?!

Traditionally, Choucroute Garni is made with white wine.  However, being the good Midwestern girl that I am, beer seemed the natural way to go.  These flavors are more familiar to me…  cooking with beer is not exactly a foreign concept.  The smell of bratwurst & onions simmering in beer is something that greeted me as I came in the kitchen door of my parents house after school on many afternoons.

This is the kind of meal that you gear up for, like Thanksgiving dinner.  I’m in no way suggesting that you make this every week.  Like Thanksgiving,  this is reserved for once in a while when you need a good stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal.

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Doing My Part to Prevent Scurvy…

Every now and then I buy random things and hope I can make something good with the various items that have found their way into my cart.   Once in a while I’ll stumble upon something magnificent, on (thankfully rare) occasions it’s been a disaster, in which case the pizzeria is on speed dial and more often than not it’s pretty good, although I’m in no way getting sassy about it…
One of the ingredients that found their way home with me were finger limes.

 
 
They are rather interesting… inside the lime are little pearls that resemble caviar.   It’s a great garnish for fish, drinks, hors d’oeuvres or even desserts.
 
A beautiful piece of wild grouper had also found its way home with me in my ever-present quest for eating healthier, so this was my jumping off point.  A couple of years ago, on a trip to Punta Cana in the  Dominican Republic I had grouper grilled on the beach and that is where my love for this fish was born. 

Mason Jar Dressings

A very good childhood friend of mine sent me some salted caramels over the holidays and I have been rationing them out on a daily basis.   Needless to say, when I see commercials for all of the various weight-loss companies it makes me cringe a bit knowing I’m a few bites away from needing an intervention.
Therefore, I’ve taken it upon myself to get back into the swing of things.  Like everyone else, I get a bit out of control during the holidays and then, when all of the over-eating makes me feel like Jabba the Hutt, the pendulum swings back the other way and I get myself back in line.

As you well know from previous posts, I have no shortage of mason jars in various shapes & sizes cluttering my cabinets and there is a reason for this,  besides canning.  They are useful for many different things, quick salad dressing being one of them.

It honestly couldn’t be easier…  pour everything in & shake it up.   The best part of making your own salad dressing aside from it being much less expensive, is that you know exactly what’s in it.   There are no dyes, no high-fructose corn syrup, no ingredients that require a Ph.D. in Chemistry to pronounce.

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Catching Snowflakes On My Tongue…

As I write this,  I’m looking through my living room window watching the snowflakes swirl about in the gray sky. 
Normally, this would elicit a groan from me but I feel I cannot begrudge Mother Nature a few flakes…  it IS January after all and we’ve had more than our fair share of unseasonably warm temperatures.

Catching snowflakes on your tongue is something we all did as kids,  but THIS kind of snowflake is much tastier.

A few years ago, I was trying to come up with an idea for a drink that tasted more like dessert than a cocktail.   I did, and it was dubbed “The Snowflake” but then…  marshmallow vodka came on the scene and I became obsessed with somehow incorporating this into the drink.  So, I’ve slightly modified it from it’s original version and made it more of a cocktail.

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Nourishing My Soul…

This one is for my Momma.  It isn’t anything terribly exciting, just damn good.  This is the only meal that my Mom actually asks me to cook for her when I’m home and I am more than happy to oblige.  For me, there is no meal more soul-satisfying than roast chicken.
It is without a doubt, my favorite meal.  I could have it every week and never tire of it.

The way the house smells when it is in the oven, the sound of the skin sizzling (which is exactly what I’m listening to as I write this…) makes my mouth water knowing that in a few moments when it is on my plate, I will sink my teeth eagerly into the perfect bite.

The crunch of the super crispy skin, the fat oozing out  and coating my tongue. This is sublime satisfaction… the look of complete and utter joy on my face.
THIS is the meal you serve to the ones you love.

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Pavlova with Raspberry Coulis

It is that time of year again when we all resolve to do better, eat better & live better.   Life is about balance and although we may be a bit more stringent about our eating habits, every now and then one needs dessert. 

Giving in to something a little less detrimental can keep us from going through a midnight fridge raid, faces smeared with chocolate sauce as if it were war paint…  and in that crazed state it would be a war in which we had clearly been defeated.

We are all familiar with the pangs of deprivation and quite honestly, I’m not a fan.  In lieu of depriving myself from culinary pleasures, I’ll temper them with a better choice.

Pavlovas are the lighter side of sweet.  They are a meringue, made from egg whites and a bit of sugar.   Granted, there is a billowy layer of whipped cream (and fruit!) piled on top,  but if you are being extra good, you can omit the whipped cream… although that will change the dessert entirely.

 

While pavlovas are not cloyingly sweet, they pair well with fruit that is slightly tart.  If you happen to live in a region where fresh passion fruit is available, that is a delicious option.  I like pairing this with raspberries as well because they are not overly sweet and their crimson hue looks strikingly beautiful against the stark white of the cream.

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