Archive for January, 2009

Top Chef-Thur Morning Tally

I really am not good at the Top Chef Fantasy Game. I received 1 pt from last night’s episode!

I had Jeff, Jamie, and Stefan. Stefan won so that was great, but both Jeff and Jamie were on the losing team although their individual dishes were pretty good.

I am getting tired of whatever drama Leah and Hosea have going on. It was particualrly awkward when they were in the kitchen and Leah was upset with her performance. Hosea went to hug her and she walked away.

I had the episode recorded on DVR and I was tempted to fast forward through that stuff (I also watch ANTM and often fast forward through cattiness in the house).

Anyway, I was surprised how people picked teams. I would have thought that talent would have won out over personality. People chose their teams based on who they like and both teams were medicore.

Stefan, Jamie, Fabio, and Jeff did pretty solid work but they were divided between the 2 teams. I like Carla so I was disappointed in her desserts. I did love it when Stefan got out ice to chill his.

I think I’ll stick with this line up and see what happens.


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The recipes have been posted for Obama’s Luncheon.

I think the apple dessert and the stuffed pheasant sound pretty good. The recipe notes that chicken may be substituted for pheasant and stock or canned broth which makes this a little more accessible for home cooks.

There is also apparently an archive of menus going back to Reagan’s luncheon in 1981. Bush had sour cream drop biscuits at his first luncheon in 2001. Unfortunately, no recipe which is too bad because I could go for some sour cream biscuits.

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Cheeseburger Paradise

Despite the winter weather, I felt like cheeseburgers. I decided to try a few new things with them.

I usually put the burgers onto a hot skillet to brown both sides and transfer them to the oven to finish them. This way the outside gets a good sear but the inside stays juicy.

I also like to grate a little onion into the hamburger to add a nice oniony flavor without it being overpowering.

This time I grated the onion, and smashed a garlic clove to add to the ground beef. I also threw in salt, black pepper, and oregano. I worked it together but not too much.

I tend to form small patties (I guess they are almost sliders) so I made 4 patties out 1/2 of beef.

I seared the patties on the hot skillet and transferred them to the oven.

I decided to sautee onions to top mine (Pat isn’t too into onions but he does like the grated onion).



I added some grated sharp cheddar cheese and the onions and then cut the buns down a little bit.

They were good although I am not sure the oregano added much. A little bit of summer to get me through the winter.

a little bit of summer in the winter

a little bit of summer in the winter

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Last week, I threw together a home-made macaroni (really penne) and cheese.

I felt like I didn’t have any food in the kitchen (it’s been amazingly cold and snowy in Chicago so I haven’t been out grocery shopping in a while). I started thinking and I did have little bits of a few cheeses, milk (skim, nothing fancy), half a stick of butter, flour, frozen veggies, and 3/4 of a box of penne.

I started a roux with a tablespoon of butter and flour.  I added a cup of milk. (The last time I made this, I did 2 cups of milk to 1 tbsp of butter and flour but I wanted more liquid since I was baking that and this wasn’t going to be a casserole.)

I cooked the pasta with some frozen broccoli while I was adding about 1 cup of grated cheese (white cheddar, sharp cheddar, parm, and Gruyere) to the thickened sauce.

I grated a tsp of nutmeg and about 2 tsp of sweet paprika to the sauce. I drained the pasta and poured the sauce over it.

A comforting meal with almost no groceries when there is  knee deep snow and a -16F windchill.

comfort food

comfort food

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I like to make new things so I don’t have much of a repertoire of recipes. There is a cauliflower soup I’ve made for years, and Donna Hay’s macaroni and cheese, but mostly each week is a set of new recipes.

This chicken dish might make it on the list of regulars. The recipe is adapted from a Fitness magazine (don’t laugh Runner’s World and Her Sports have great recipes, too) recipe. I changed the amounts and scaled it down a little.

Lemon Caper Chicken

1 large chicken breast
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp capers
black pepper

The chicken breast is cut into pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper.

The olive oil is heated in a non-stick skillet. The chicken is browned on both sides.

The pieces are removed and kept warm. The chicken stock, lemon juice, and capers are added to the pan and brought to a boil. Allow to simmer until the sauce becomes syrupy. Season with black pepper to taste.

Serve sauce over chicken.

lemon caper chicken

lemon caper chicken

Pat and I both agreed that this recipe should make a regular appearance.

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Again, I don’t think I am too great at the Bravo Top Chef Fantasy Game. My overall score is 37 and my rank is 7550. For this episode, my score is 14 and my rank is 2688.

This last week I had Stefan (sort of jerky but a good chef), Jamie ( a good chef, but whiney sometimes), and Ariane (I thought was a good chef).

Jamie and Stefan were part of the winning team with Carla (who is pretty cool and makes great pastry). Ariane got sent home after badly butchering a lamb. I got to say Hosea and Leah don’t look too great right now.

They need to stop their flirtation and focus. Personal relationships don’t mix well with professional ones. I know that this isn’t their day job but it makes things awkward for everyone and people in the romantic relationships generally don’t give their best.

My picks for next week are Stefan, Jamie, and Jeff. Jeff generally makes good food; sometimes he does too much and his dishes suffer but I think he’ll do well.

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My mother’s stew

In honor of frigid temperatures, here’s a recipe to keep you warm.

This a recipe of my mother’s and one of my favorites growing up. The first time she gave me this recipe, she left out the stock and I started making it and realized there was no liquid. I called her in a panic and she said there should be liquid from the chicken stock. I sighed and added some.

My Mother’s Stew

1 lb round chuck in chunks
flour to coat beef
Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp vinegar (a little less or more to taste)
32 oz chicken stock
5 medium potatoes also in chunks
2 medium carrots cut in rounds

Mix flour, Lawry’s, and pepper. Dredge beef in flour mixture.

Heat stock pot over medium flame. Add dredged beef and brown. Remove beef and add vinegar to deglaze pan. Add stock, meat, and vegetables.

Simmer for at least 1 hr.

fend off cold weather stew

fend off cold weather stew

It tastes even better as a leftovers the next day.

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