Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lamb and Cous Cous

During my junior year in college, I lived in Aix-en-Provence, France, where I first had a dish called 'cous cous.' Because of the long and sometimes contentious relationship France had with Algeria, many of recipes made the transit from North Africa to the streets of Paris and Aix-en-Provence. Thus, when I was living in France I was able to try many different versions of this delightful dish. Cous cous was one of my favorite meals when I lived there, but after I returned to the United States, was not able to find a restaurant that had it on their menu. Fast forward to 1990 when the Maven and I were living in Monterey and I was going to graduate school. Dee was working for a local company and she took a client out to lunch at a restaurant in Pacific Grove called Fandango. Lo and behold, this delightful restaurant had cous cous on its menu, and Fandango's version of it was justs as wonderful as the cous cous I had in France. Now, let's get to 2008. We had our kitchen remodeled and I am motivated to try out new recipes and cous cous was high on my list. I found a recipe for this dish on line and last night I tried my hand at Lamb and Cous Cous and I am happy to report that it was an unqualified success. Deirdre loved it and I have been tasked to make it again soon. Below is the recipe:

Lamb with Couscous

Vary this recipe as you will, using beef or chicken instead of lamb and adding or subtracting vegetables. The heat level is also optional: harissa or another hot sauce can be used more copiously if you like spicy food or left out altogether if you want a milder stew. The easiest thing is to stir in just a touch of fiery hot sauce and let your guests add more if they wish.

3 pounds boneless lean lamb shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks
1-1/2 cups finely diced onions
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp paprika
1-1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
About 1 tsp salt
About 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of saffron (optional)
1 tsp dried mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro stems (save the leaves for garnish)
3 cups coarsely chopped onions
4 cups water
3 carrots, cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks
2 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzos), homemade or canned
3 cups 2-inch chunks peeled winter squash, such as butternut or acorn
2 cups 1-inch chunks peeled turnip
1 cup raisins (optional)
Pinch of ground cinnamon (optional)
2 tsp Harissa, or other hot sauce, or to taste (optional)
2 cups 2-inch zucchini pieces
2 to 3 cups instant couscous

Combine the lamb, onions, garlic, spices, saffron, mint, and cilantro stems in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the water and bring to a boil, adding more water if necessary to cover lamb. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, or until the lamb is tender.

Add the carrots, chickpeas, winter squash, turnips, and the optional raisins, cinnamon, and harissa or other hot sauce to the pot, making sure they are covered with liquid (add more water if needed), and cook, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the carrots and squash are tender. Taste for more harrisa or hot sauce and salt and pepper.

Almost all the couscous available in the United States is already cooked or instant. Once you've added the squash to the stew, cook the couscous following the directions on the box. Spoon the couscous into a large, shallow serving bowl and ladle the stew over it. Pass harissa or another hot sauce at the table.

Yield: Serves 8, with leftovers

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Dinner

Christmas dinner at the Cafe this year was a bit more traditional than in years past. Deirdre wanted me to prepare a turkey, so I once again brined a turkey breast overnight for our meal. I prepared the same brine I used for our Thanksgiving meal and I am happy to report that the turkey was just as moist and flavorful as the first brined turkey I cooked last month. The sides included wild rice pilaf, cranberry sauce and a chopped salad. We enjoyed a bottle of Grayson Pinot Noir, slightly chilled, with our meal. Our reindeer friends, acquired at Art of the Table, kept the watch over our table as Dee and I enjoyed our meal. Tonight, I will be trying my hand at a traditional Moroccan dish, Lamb with Cous Cous.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Balsamic Pork Chops

I made this meal last night, courtesy of the Super Mom. It was nothing short of fantastic!

Balsamic Pork Chops
Recipe Courtesy: Southern Living, October 2001

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 (3/4-inch-thick) boneless pork chops
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chicken broth
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
Garnish: fresh rosemary sprigs

Combine flour, 1 teaspoon rosemary, salt, and pepper. Dredge pork chops in flour mixture.

Melt butter with oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Add pork chops, and cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove pork chops.

Add broth and vinegar, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Cook 6 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Add pork chops, and cook 5 minutes or until done. Serve over rice. Garnish, if desired.

**Cook's Note: I think the garlic in this recipe goes in much too early. Per the recipe, by the time you saute the garlic and brown the chops, the garlic has been sizzling away over medium-high heat for nearly 10 minutes. The first two times I made this, the garlic was scorched and bitter. I'd recommend browning and removing the chops, first, then saute the garlic just before you deglaze.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Slight change in plans...

Much to the chagrin of the Super Mom, earlier this week I planned the following menus for the coming week:

Sunday: Stay in Bed Stew
Monday: Chicken Masala
Tuesday: Chicken with Tarragon and Cream
Wednesday (Christmas Eve): Balsamic Pork Chops
Thursday (Christmas Day): Brined Turkey Breast
Friday: Leftover Turkey

Of course, no plan survives first contact with the opposition. Instead of eating at home for Christmas Eve, we have been invited over have dinner with Bud & Barbara, our "GR parents." Thus, my new menu for the week looks something like this:

Sunday: Stay in Bed Stew
Monday: Chicken Masala
Balsamic Pork Chops
Wednesday (Christmas Eve): Beef Tenderloin
Thursday (Christmas Day): Brined Turkey Breast
Friday: Lamb with Cous Cous

The Stay in Bed Stew was nothing short of fantastic, while the Chicken Masala was rather pedestrian. The Masala was easy enough to make, as all I had to do was back a few chicken breasts until they were done, than simemr the pre-cooked chicken in the Masala sauce for 15 minutes or so. The Vindaloo sauce is a lot spicer and much more aligned with our tastes.

I am excited about the Lamb with Cous Cous. I lived in France during most of my junior year in college and one dish I grew quite found of was, you guessed it, Lamb with Cous Cous. I found a recipe for it that looks very similar to the meals I had in France. Of course, full report to follow on how that meal turns out.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Amateurs discuss tactics...

And professionals discuss logistics. Thus today was all about planning meals for the coming week. Here is the current menu plan for the week:

Sunday: Stay in Bed Stew
Monday: Chicken Masala
Tuesday: Chicken with Tarragon and Cream
Wednesday (Christmas Eve): Balsamic Pork Chops
Thursday (Christmas Day): Brined Turkey Breast
Friday: Leftover Turkey

I have made up list of ingredients needed for each meal and over the course of the next few days I will forage for them all

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Citrus Chicken

Last night our friend Ann Marie came over to make Citrus Chicken. Below is the recipe:

- 1 whole chicken
- 1 lemon, cut into pieces
- 1 orange, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1-2 cups chicken stock or broth
- 5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 cloves, minced
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Oregano to taste
- Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
- white wine for deglazing the roasting pan

Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Wash and dry the chicken. Stuff the chicken with the cut up lemon, orange and 5 garlic cloves. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and season the top of the it with salt, pepper, oregano and cayenne pepper. Pour the chicken stock into the roasting pan. Place the chicken into the oven and cook until the internal temperature of the chicken is 170F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the lemon and orange juice and season to taste. After the chicken has been cooking for 45 minutes or so, baste the chicken with this liquid. Continue to baste the chicken every 15 minutes until done.

Once the chicken is done, remove it from the roasting pan, place it on a cutting board and loosely cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. While the chicken is resting, place the roasting pan on a stove under low heat. Deglaze the pan with white wine and add some more chicken stock. Reduce the liquid for 5-10 minutes. Strain the liquid and place it in a gravy boat/dish.

Carve the chicken and serve, pouring the reduction over the meat.

Cook's Notes:
This was an incredibly easy dish to make and each bite of the chicken was tart and juicy. With the chicken, I served rice pilaf and steamed broccoli. We washed it all down with a bottle of 2004 Leewin Estates Prelude Vineyards Chardonnay. I will definitely make this dish again!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Citrus Chicken

Tonight our friend Ann Marie is coming over to make a dish she calls "Citrus Chicken." All I know for sure is that chicken and citrus is involved. Full report to follow.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Post-Ex of the Brined Pork Tenderloin

I am happy to report that the herby brined pork tenderloin I made for Friday night's dinner was nothing short of fantastic. I brined the tenderloin for 8 hours, removed it from the post inwhich it soaked, and put it into a cast iron skillet. I then placed the skillet into an 375F oven and I cooked the tenderloin until it reached an internal temperature of 160F. I removed the tenderloins from the skillet, then covered them with aluminum foil and allowed the meat to rest for 10 minutes. I had already prepared a salad, so while the meat was resting Deirdre mashed the red skin potatoes with a little butter and milk. Our plates were loaded up with a few slices of pork, mashed potatoes and some green onion garnish. I took a bite of the pork and the meat was incredibly tender and moist. We enjoyed a bottle of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouvea with this meal, slightly chilled. Bottom line: This meal was a winner. I think that my next brining adventure will be with chicken.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Herby Brined Pork Tenderloin

Tonight we will be expanding our foray into brining. Our friends at Art of the Table provided the brine we used for our turkey for Thanksgiving, and we used the generic brine. When we purchased the generic brine, we also picked up a jar of herby brine. I am happy to report that I am currently brining a pork tenderloin which I will roast tonight. I am still working on the side dishes, but I will definitely enjoy some Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveu. Full report to follow!

Dinner with Henry & Jan

Last night we had our friends Henry & Jan over for dinner. They were unable to attend last month's Kitchen Warming Party, so they had not seen our new kitchen. I made one of Deirdre's favorite meal, Tenderloin DeLuxe. There was one "Oh my" moment last night. I put the tenderloin into my new GE oven at 6:35PM, and in the past it would normally take 40-45 minutes for the roast to reach an internal temperature of 124F. Well, in less than 20 minutes, the internal temperature was 100F. I reduced the temperature of the oven from 400F to 300F to slow down the rate at which the temperature was rising. In the end, the roast took 31 minutes to reach the "medium rare" temperature of 124F.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Post-Ex on the Filet Mignon

For my birthday, I made a pan seared filet mignon with a Cabernet reduction sauce. It is a simple, yet messy meal to make. Messy in that the filets are cooked in melted butter and olive oil in a pan on top of the stove and the oil/butter mix tends to spatter. Anyhow, the steaks cooked for about 10 minutes total, then I removed them from the heat and loosely covered them with foil.

For the reduction, I simply deglazed the pan with 2/3 cup of Cabernet,
added some more butter and capers and reduced until the it was, well, sauce consistency. Our friend Amy, proprietor of Art of the Table, suggested that a bottle of Piccolo Cru from Paoletti Winery. Amy did not lead us astray and the wine perfectly complimented our meal.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Turkey Vindaloo

We had a lot of left over turkey following our Thanksgiving meal. The uncooked turkey breast was 8.4 lbs., so I had to find some creative ways to make use of the left over turkey. Our friends at Art of the Table provided a perfect way to make use of some of the turkey. Amy suggested that we try adding some turkey to Indian Vindaloo Simmering Sauce. The recipe was simple enough: Simmer sauce with 1 1/2 lbs cubed poultry for 10-15 minutes and serve over rice.

This simmering sauce had a wonderful aroma while heating, and I spooned the simmered sauce over cous cous. It was incredible easy to make and the sauce was spicy and inviting. I will definitely try more of the sauces made by Maya Kaimal.

Turkey Carcass Soup

Last night I sliced off most of the meat from the turkey breast I cooked for our Thanksgiving meal. I had the remains of the turkey, along with a lot of roasted skin that I wanted to put to good use. This morning I started to make "Turkey Carcass Soup" using the recipe below:

1 Remove all the usable turkey meat from the turkey carcass to save for making sandwiches later or for adding to the soup.

2 Break up the leftover bones of the carcass a bit, so they don't take up as much room in the pot. Put the leftover bones and skin into a large stock pot and cover with water by an inch. Add any drippings that weren't used to make gravy, and any giblets (except liver) that haven't been used already. Add a yellow onion that has been quartered, some chopped carrots, parsley, thyme, a bay leaf, celery tops, and some peppercorns.

3 Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to a bare simmer or just below a simmer. ( If you would like to have a clear stock, keep the stock below a simmer, as the more you simmer, the more cloudy the stock will be.) Skim off any foamy crud that may float to the surface of the stock.

4 Add salt and pepper, about 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper. It sort of depends on how big your turkey is. You can always add salt to the soup later.

5 Cook for at least 4 hours, uncovered or partially uncovered (so the stock reduces), occassionally skimming off any foam that comes to the surface. To help maintain a steady, even heat, you can cook the stock in a 180-200°F oven.

6 Remove the bones and veggies and strain the stock, ideally through a very fine mesh strainer.

7 If making stock for future use in soup you may want to reduce the stock by cooking it longer, uncovered, at a bare simmer or just below a simmer, to make it more concentrated and easier to store.

Making the Turkey Soup

Prepare the turkey soup much as you would a chicken soup. With your stock already made, add chopped carrots, onions, and celery in equal parts. Add some parsley, a couple cloves of garlic. Add seasoning - poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, marjoram and/or a bouillion cube. Cook at a bare simmer until the vegetables are cooked through. (Or you can sauté the vegetables in a little fat rendered from the soup first, and add back to the soup right before serving.) You can add rice, noodles, or even leftover mashed potatoes (or not if you want the low carb version). Take some of the remaining turkey meat you reserved earlier, shred it into bite sized pieces and add to the soup. You may also want to add some chopped tomatoes, either fresh or canned. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes a dash or two of Tabasco gives the soup a nice little kick.

Our Dutch oven is in the oven, simmering away at a warm 200F. Sometime just before noon, I will strain the stock and make the actual soup. I have to say that the house has a wonderful aroma of turkey right now!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Post-Ex of the Brined Turkey

I am happy to report that the brined turkey breast I prepared for our Thanksgiving meal was nothing short of fantastic. To say that it was just a turkey breast is a bit of a misnomer. What I inadvertently purchased was the entire chest of a turkey! Anyhow, the directions on the bag were pretty simple:

"Pre-heat an oven to 325F. Rub olive oil over the turkey. Roast, breast side up, until the internal temperature is 170F."
The instructions also listed a chart that showed approximate cooking times. For an 8-9 pound bre
ast, the chart showed cooking times of 2 1/2 - 3 1/4 hours. I put the turkey into my new oven at 3PM and I figured we would be eating around 7PM. How wrong I was. The turkey's internal temperature reached 170F in precisely 2 hours and 12 minutes. My new GE Profile stove certainly cooks things quickly and efficiently! We were able to adjust the cooking start times of the side dishes and dinner was served at approximately 5:30PM.

As for the turkey, I c
arved off a few slices for Deirdre and I to enjoy and enjoy it we did. The meat was tender and juicy, with just a hint of the spices and salt that were used to brine it. The gravy was made using the drippings (what little there were) from the turkey, Dee made the whipped potatoes, and while the turkey was resting I popped the biscuits into the oven. The side dishes and the biscuits were all done at the same time and served piping hot. Yep, it was a great meal.

And yes, Samson got a few snitches of turkey.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


To set the record straight, here at the Cafe we are non-traditional celebrants of Thanksgiving. By that I mean that I do not always cook a turkey for our Thanksgiving. Over the course of the past few years, I have made the following for our Thanksgiving meal:

- Chicken Curry with Apple Curried Cous Cous
- Peppery Flank Steak
- Tenderloin DeLuxe

However, this year turkey will be the main course of our feast. Since it will just be me and the spousal unit for dinner on Thursday, I decided against buying a whole turkey. Instead, I purchased what I thought was a whole turkey breast. Last weekend, we were at our favorite foodies store, Art of the Table, and the owner and proprietor, Amy suggested that we brine our turkey. By sheer coincidence, I was planning on brining the turkey, but Amy had a pre-made brine for us. The brine is made by a company called Golden Fig Epicurean Delights. How can I go wrong using something made by a company with such a cool name?

Back to the story. This afternoon, I prepared the brine. It was simple enough to do. All I had to do was boil some water, add the brine and some brown sugar. A few minutes later, I poured the brine over the turkey breast, which was patiently waiting in a large pot. I have placed the pot into our fridge in our basement where it will quietly sit until tomorrow afternoon when I will place it in the oven for a couple of hours.

This will be our Thanksgiving menu:

Brined Turkey with home made gravy
Whipped Red Skin Potatoes
Caesar Salad
Pie Apple

Full report to follow on how this meal turns out.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Tonight is the long awaited Chilipalooza. Below is the recipe I will be making tonight:

2 lbs ground beef
1 lb pork sausage
1 16oz can whole tomatoes
1 15oz can tomato sauce
16oz water or beer
8oz tomato juice
2 6oz cans tomato paste
1 onion, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
1 T crushed red pepper
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
2oz chili powder
1 bay leaf
cumin and more pepper to taste

In a large pot, crush the whole tomatoes. Stir in the tomato sauce, tomato juice, onion, crushed red pepper, ground pepper and water/beer. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and crumble in half of the meat, tomato paste and chili powder. Crumble in the remaining beef and simmer, uncovered, for an hour. Add cumin and pepper to taste. Simmer for 15 more minutes and serve.

Our neighbors are coming by at 5PM tonight for some oat pops and at around 6PM we will sample each chili recipe.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Some good eats

We are busy preparing for the holiday feast, our favorite time of the year, Thanksgiving. We did some prep work with our weekly visit to Art of the Table to pick up some goodies. This year, Paul is going to brine a turkey breast. We picked up a couple of different brines from Amy; one is a traditional brine with sage, rosemary and juniper berries; the other is a herby brine with coriander, lavender, tarragon and lemon peel. Doesn't that sound heavenly? They are made by Golden Fig Epicurean Delights. Of course, there will be a full report to follow and I imagine that it will be glowing.

We also took Amy's recommendation of a delicious 2005 pinot Balletto from Sonoma to accompany our turkey. I like white wine well enough but we were thinking crazy and decided on a red. Crazy. Crazy good.

Tonight, we are taking it culinarily easy with a couple of rib eyes on the grill. While resting, we put a bit of gorgonzola cheese on top to give the steak a zing.

Happy eats!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Real Simple Chicken Curry

I made the recipe below at the Cafe tonight. As the name implies, it was real simple to make. However, please see the Cook's Notes for my recommendations for improvement.

Real Simple Quick Chicken Curry

1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 cup tomato juice
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 large skinless, boneless chicken-breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)

Accompaniments: 2 cups cooked rice; 1/2 cup salted, shelled peanuts; and 3 scallions, slivered.

In a large, deep skillet, cook the onion in the oil over medium heat, stirring, until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato juice and simmer for 2 minutes to blend the flavors. Add the chicken and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the salt. Serve half the chicken curry over rice. Top with the peanuts and scallions. Freeze the remaining chicken curry.

To Freeze: Spoon the chicken curry into a freezer container. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months.

To Reheat: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or in the microwave. To serve Quick Chicken Curry as is, cover with plastic wrap and heat in the microwave for 7 to 9 minutes or until heated through, stirring once. Or spoon into an ovenproof baking dish. Cover with foil and place in a 325° F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.

Yield: Makes 4 servings with leftovers

Cook's Notes: This was easy to make but it was not spicy enough for our taste. I will make this dish again, but next time I will add a a little more red wine, some crushed red pepper and increase the amount of "curry powder."

Technically, there is no such thing as curry powder. A tablespoon of curry is made by combining:

1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried coriander
1/2 teaspoon teaspoon dried ginger

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Post-Game of the Prime Rib

I am happy to report that last night's meal of Prime Rib us Jus was an unqualified success. Deirdre made a command decision that we should make a salad as our veggie instead of cooking some vegetable. We also made the following potato dish:

Redskin Potatoes (however many you think you need for the amount of people)
Minced Garlic (1 or 2 cloves or however much you wan to put in) (optional
Pepper to taste
Butter (just a Tablespoon or two)Milk and/or Chicken stock (enough to get the consistency you want)
Fresh Chopped Parsley to garnish (optional)

Half the redskin potatoes, put in a large pot, add cold water and salt (kind of like how you do when you cook pasta). Bring to boil. Cook until fork tender. Drain the potatoes. To the same pot add the butter, potatoes, garlic, pepper to taste, and a little bit of milk or chicken stock. For the mashing, you can either use a one of those mashing tools, a fork, or a beater. Mash until you get them to the consistency you like, keep adding liquid if needed. Add the parsley for a nice presentation.

This potato recipe was sent to us by our friend Ann Marie. The spuds were quite yummy. Thanks, Ann Marie!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Prime Rib au Jus

Tonight I will be making my first prime rib of the season.

We will be having our friends Mary, Deb, Margaret and Pat for dinner tonight. I am still thinking about the side dishes. I will serve some sort of potato dish and a veggie

Rib Roast “Prime Rib Style” au Jus
One 8-10 lb boneless or bone in (I prefer bone in)
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup freshly cracked pepper
2 medium onions, peeled and thickly sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced large
1 whole celery stalk, diced large
2 plum tomatoes, cored and diced large
10 garlic cloves, peeled
½ cup dry red wine
3 cups beef stock Cracked pepper and kosher salt to taste

1.Preheat the oven to 400F.
2.Combine the salt and pepper.
3. Dry the meat with paper towels, then rub all over with the salt and pepper, pressing gently to be sure the salt & pepper mix adheres to the roast. Place the meat on a sturdy rack in a roasting pan and arrange the onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes and garlic around it. Insert a remote reading thermometer into middle of the roast, then place the roast in the oven and cook until well browned, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300F, stir the vegetables around, and roast until the meat is done to your liking. 120F is rare, 126F is medium-rare, 134F is medium, 150F is medium-well, and 160F is well done.I like to pull out the roast at 122F.
4.When the roast is done, remove it from the pan, cover it loosely with foil, and set aside to rest for 20 minutes or so.
5.Place the roasting pan, with the drippings, over high heat on the stove. Add the wine and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the brown crusty stuff in the bottom of the pan. Add the beef stock, bring back to a simmer, and reduce by about 1/3. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to your taste. Strain the au jus into a gravy boat and discard the vegetables. 6.Carve the beef into 1 inch slices and serve with the au jus.


At our recent Kitchen Warming Party, our neighbors decided that all of us needed to get together some night soon and enjoy some chili. I queried the neighbors and the best date was determined to be Sunday, 23 November. Yep, it is a school night, but we had no intention of the self titled Chilipalooza to turn into a night of beer drinking with some chili on the side. I am hoping to gain a few new chili recipes at the gathering. Updates to follow.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


It is a cold and rainy Sunday, which makes it a perfect day to make a pot of chili. I am going to try the recipe below:

- 2lbs ground beef or turkey - 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 16oz. can whole tomatoes - 1 T crushed red pepper
- 1 15oz. can tomato sauce - 1/2 t freshly ground pepper
- 16oz. beer or water - 2oz. chili powder
- 8oz. tomato juice - 1 bay leaf
- 2 6oz. cans tomato paste - 1 T cumin

In a large pot, crush the whole tomatoes, stir in the tomato sauce, tomato juice, onion, crushed red pepper, ground pepper and water/beer. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and crumble in half of the meat, then add the tomato paste, cumin and chili powder. Now crumble in the remaining meat and simmer uncovered for an hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This is an easy recipe and the chili can be made as spicy as you like.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cafe Update

We have had an enjoyable number of days in the Cafe. The kitchen is officially warmed from the Kitchen Warming Party and the chi is starting to flow beautifully.

I am at home this weekend, on vacation - or more aptly called 'stay' -cation, hanging at home enjoying some quiet time. I ran over to Sam's Club to pick up some staples and some meats were reduced for quick sale. To save $5-6 on meat is a treat and I don't often pass it up.

Yesterday, I made Stay in Bed Stew. It wasn't an ideal day for stew - in the 70s. It was delicious and at least I have some leftovers. ;) Today I planned a little better and have a flank steak marinating to grill tonight. Here is the recipe:

A Fantastic Flank Steak

1 1/2 T Dijon mustard
3 1/2 T red wine vinegar
1/2 t crumbled dried oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 flank steak (1 1/4 - 1 1/2 lbs)

1. Prepare the marinade. In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, oregano, salt & pepper. Slowly drizzle the olive oil, whisking constantly until thickened; add the garlic. You can also make the marinade a day ahead and store, covered, in the refrigerator.
2. Add the flank steak to the marinade and turn to coat it well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for about 8 ours, turning the steak once or twice. Remove from the marinade and pat dry.
3. Broil or grill the steak over high heat, 3 inches from the heat source. Cook for 6 minutes a side for medium rare. Remove to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice the steak thinly on the diagonal and arrange on a platter.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tuscan Style Pork Tenderloin Roast

Last night I made Tuscan Style Pork Tenderloin Roast. It was easy to make and was delicious. Here is the recipe:

2 T chopped fresh thyme (or 1 T dried)
1 T chopped fresh sage (or 1 1/2t dried)
6 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
2 T olive oil

1 pork tenderloin or boneless pork loin roast

In a small bowl, mix the thyme, sage, garlic, salt & pepper to taste and enough olive oil to make a thick paste. You might need more or less than 2tablespoons of olive oil.

Run the herb paste all over the pork roast and place the roast into a shallow dish. Cover, and refrigerate for 4-6 hours. About an hour before you plan on putting the toast in the oven, remove the roast an allow it to come to room temperature.

Pre-heat an oven to 350F. Place the roast into the oven and cook until the internal temperature is 150F. Remove the roast from the oven, place on a cutting board and loosely cover with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Cook's Notes: I actually cooked two pork tenderloins. I tied them together using butcher string. I placed the remote temperature probe into the thickest part of the tenderloin.

I could not have been happier with how the roast turned out. The thyme and sage gave the meat a wonderfully soft taste. Along with the roast, we served Deirdre's World Famous Chopped Salad and plain cous cous. Thanks to our friend Amy at Art of the Table, we enjoyed a bottle of Greco Campania from the Benito Ferrara Winery. The wine complemented the pork perfectly.

I will be looking for more recipes I can cook in our new oven as the weather here starts to turn to winter. While I love to grill, it is sometimes better to cook indoors when it is snowing.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Steak au Poivre

I made the following recipe last night at the Cafe:

Steak au Poivre with Red Wine Pan Sauce

- 4 boneless beef sirloin steaks (at least 1 inch thick)
- Salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- olive oil
- 1 T unsalted butter
- ½ red onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 cup beef stock or broth
- 1 T tomato paste
- 1 T cornstarch combined with 2 T water
- 2 T freshly chopped parsley

Sprinkle both sides of the steaks with generous amounts of salt and pepper. Cover the steaks and let them stand at room temperature for an hour or so before cooking.

In a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the steaks and cook to desired doneness, turning once, 3-5 minutes a side for medium rare. Remove the steaks from the pan and transfer them to a platter. Loosely cover with aluminum foil while you make the pan sauce.

In the same pan over medium high heat, add the butter and melt. Add onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is softened (2-3 minutes). Add the wine and beef stock/broth and boil until reduced by half, 4-5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, whisk in the cornstarch mixture and the tomato paste and simmer, whisking occasionally until slightly thickened. Add more stock if the sauce seems too thick. Stir in the parsley and season to taste.

Spoon a generous amount of the sauce over the steaks and serve at once. Pass any extra sauce at the table.

It was a yummy dish, but next time I make it, I will use more onions and less tomato paste.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dijon Chicken Breasts

Tonight I made Dijon Chicken Breasts. I served this dish with a chopped salad and a handful of small red potatoes. Below is the recipe for the main dish:

Dijon Chicken Breasts

1/2 cup canned unsalted chicken broth or stock
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 chicken breasts

1. Combine the chicken broth, onion, garlic, mustard and thyme in a large skillet. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium low heat. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover, and cook the chicken for 25-30 minutes, until cooker through.
2. When the chicken is done, remove from the skillet and cover with foil to keep warm.
3. Reduce the liquid in the skillet until reduced to sauce consistency, 2-3 minutes.
4. Serve the chicken breasts and pour the reduced sauce over the breasts.

Serves 6

I only cooked two chicken breasts, but I used the amounts listed in the recipe. I had not made thsi dish in quite a while and it was a yummy meal. It is a deceptively simple and elegant dish. I decided to make this reciep because I knew that I had all the ingredients in my fridge. I suppose that I was facing the same thing that the Recovering Lawyer was facing on Saturday. It is amazing the stuff you can whip together with just a few simple basics and a few minutes of effort!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mustard Crusted Pork Roast

Last night I made the recipe below, which was sent to us by Lisa H a few weeks ago. It was easy to make and it was delicious. I like to make a recipe 4 or 5 times, tweaking it each time until I get it just right. This was the second time I made this dish and I started tweaking things. We washed it down with a bottle of 2005 Sommers Reserve Criston Willamette Valley Pinot Noir:

Mustard Crusted Port Roast
4/5lb boneless pork roast
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 T dried rosemary
1/2 cup coarse grain mustard
3 T olive oil
3 T balsamic vinegar
8 garlic cloves, mashed or minced

Pre-heat your oven to 375F. Place the pork in a roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle the rosemary over the roast. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Place the roast in the oven, uncovered, and cook until the internal temperature of the roast is 160-165F.

Cook's Notes:
1) I cooked the roast until the internal temperature reached 165F. The roast was tender and juicy at that temperature.
2) I used Dijon mustard instead of coarse grained mustard. Dijon is an acceptable substitute.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Chicken Breasts with Tarragon and Cream

I am trying the recipe below tonight. Full report to follow!

This is a Chicken breast recipe is cooked with tarragon, chicken broth, a little white wine, and heavy cream.


  • 6 boneless chicken breast halves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream


Sprinkle chicken breast halves with salt and pepper; dredge with flour. Set aside remaining flour.

In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Brown chicken on both sides, Remove chicken; keep warm. Add onion to skillet and sauté for 1 minute.

Add wine to skillet; increase heat to high and cook until liquid is almost evaporated, stirring to loosen browned bits on bottom of skillet.

Reduce heat to medium-low; add reserved flour, stirring to a thick paste. Add tarragon and chicken broth. Return chicken to skillet; cover and cook until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove chicken breasts to a hot platter. Add remaining butter and heavy cream to the skillet. Heat through; pour creamy tarragon sauce over chicken breasts.

Tarragon chicken recipe serves 6

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chicken Kiev

Tonight's dinner was Chicken Kiev. Well, technically, it was two chicken breasts I bought at Meijers on Sunday that were labeled as Chicken Kiev. They were not thet bad. All I had to do was stick the remote sensing temperature probe from our oven into one of the chicken breasts and put them into a pre-heated 375F oven and cook them until the internal temp reached 165F. To be honest, the meal was OK, but nothing great. The Chicken Cordon Bleu I purchased at the aforementioned Meijers a few weeks ago was much better. It is a bit of a challenge during the work week to be terribly creative with my meals, so anything that is simple Monday-Thursday night works for me. Now that I have purchased pre-made Chicken Kiev, I might be motivated to try to make them from scratch:

Chicken Kiev

  • 4 boneless chicken breast halves
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 teaspon white pepper, or black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 egg, beaten with 2 teaspoons water
  • 1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
Blend the softened butter with parsley, chives, pepper, and salt. Divide into 4 portions and chill until firm. Flatten each chicken breast half to about 1/4-inch thickness by pounding each between wax paper or plastic wrap. Place a portion of the chilled butter mixture in the center of each flattened chicken breast half. Roll each to completely enclose the butter. Dust each roll in flour then dip in beaten egg and water. Roll in bread crumbs then place in lightly greased baking dish. Cover and bake at 350° oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer.
Chicken Kiev serves 4

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Dinner

Tonight, I am making a pot of chili. As the evenings are starting to cool down here, a hot bowl of chili sounded like a great idea for dinner. I found basics of this recipe a few years ago and I have modified it a little. One modification I made was to add a pound of pork sausage instead of three pounds of ground chuck.

Paul's Chili

2 large onions, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 carrots, sliced
3 lbs boneless beef chuck, ground coarse (cut back if adding sausage)
lb pork sausage (optional)
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon crumbled dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried hot red pepper flakes
2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
1 1/4 cups beef broth
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot cook the onions in the olive oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened. Once the onions are softened, add the garlic and carrots, then cook and stir the mixture for 1 minute. Add the beef and cook it over moderate heat, stirring and breaking up any lumps, until the beef is no longer pink. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, and the red pepper flakes, then cook and stir the mixture for 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce, beef broth, cider vinegar and bring the mixture to a boil. After the mixture begins to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally for 50 to 60 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 15 more minutes.

Serves 6

Save the date!

Now that the kitchen is done, it is time to warm it up with a party. We thoguht a great date to have a kitchen warming party would be a few weeks after we move back into the kitchen, as we are still working out the chi and flow of things in our new space. Also, 1 November will be the one year anniversary of my first "retirement, so that seems like a perfect night to celebrate. Thus, on the evening of 1 November, we will be throwing a kitchen warming party! Details to follow.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Lunch with friends

On Friday, I had lunch with two wonderful people. There just is NEVER enough time to cover all the bases, especially when the food is incredible.

Abi made us lunch and how she did it with an incredibly active two year old, Noah, well it's just nothing short of amazing.

She served perfectly warmed Chicken Squares. I asked for the recipe and she kindly shared. Oh, these are SO perfect.

Chicken Salad Squares

1 package of puff pastry dough or 1 tube of crescent rolls

2 cups cooked chicken
½ cup of diced celery
4 oz. of cream cheese [I use light or low-fat cream cheese]
2 tablespoons of melted butter
2 tablespoons of milk [I use skim milk]
1 teaspoon salt

Optional additions:
½ cup almonds
½ cup of dried cherries
½ cup of diced apple

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Blend filling ingredients and include any optional additions to the filling. Separate pastry dough into 4 inch squares (a tube of crescent rolls yields 4 squares). Place the squares on an ungreased baking sheet. Spoon approximately ½ cup of the filling onto the dough, and then pull the corners of the square up to one another so that the filling is encased by dough.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the dough is golden brown.

Follow up recipe - Pork Tenderloin

Last week, we decided to cook dinner in our new kitchen and invited our friend, Deb to join us. Since Deb has done so much to help us - recommended the Deb Memorial Pocket Door and all the painting, it was only right that she was our first guest. We had a pork tenderloin to cook, no time to marinate it so we put out an SOS to our friends and cooks extraordinaire - Lisa and Jen.

Both responded immediately with fantastico recipes. Since we wanted a recipe with few ingredients and no marinade, we choose a recipe from Lisa. Holy cow was it GOOD. And with the cost of food, pork is so affordable. We will most definitely make this again.

Mustard-Crusted Pork Roast

4-5 lb boneless pork loin roast
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 TBS dried rosemary
1/2 cup coarse grain mustard
8 cloves garlic - mashed or minced
3 TBS olive oil
3 TBS Balsamic Vinegar

Place pork in greased roasting pan. Rub w/salt, pepper, rosemary. Combine next 4 ingredients and spread evenly over pork. Bake at 375 uncovered for 1 to 1 1/4 hours (or until pork internal temperature registers 160 degrees

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday Night Dinner

Tonight was the first night in our new kitchen. I made a pork tenderloin dish, shared by Lisa of the "Marble and Mud" blog fame. The meal was nothing short of fantastic. Look for the recipe in the Cafe soon!

Friday, September 12, 2008

OK, the party is in its initial planning stages...

As Deirdre wrote earlier, our kitchen is almost done. The transformation has been nothing short of amazing, thanks to our friends at HWC Homeworks. When we were about a week or so into the project, Deirdre and I started to think about having a party to celebrate the new space. We thought that people have house-warming parties, so why shouldn't we have a kitchen warming party? Our home in EGR is filled with wonderful memories, but the new kitchen has not had enough time with us, yet. Thus, on the night of 1 November, we will have a Kitchen Warming Party. Details to follow.

Soups for the fall

Deirdre here....If you have been following our individual blogs, you know about the kitchen. It's almost done. The most beautiful combination of tile, wood, stainless steel and quartz as I have ever seen. And it beckons us to cook. Anything.

Much to our friend Lisa's chagrin, fall is here. It is cooling off and some of the tips of the leaves have started to turn. Lisa, I promise pictures. And with fall comes yummy cook-in-the-oven meals. I have been keeping a list from the magazine Real Simple, and just can't wait to cook. This looks amazing. And six other one-pot meals can be found here.

Mexican Chicken Soup
2 whole chickens (3 1/2 pounds each)
4 carrots, halved crosswise
1 large yellow onion, halved
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 avocados
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
3 limes, halved

Rinse the chickens and pat dry with paper towels.

Place the chickens, carrots, onion, and salt in a 12-quart pot. Add enough cold water (about 16 cups) to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently, uncovered, for 1 hour. Skim off any foam that appears. Transfer the chickens to plates; let cool. Remove and discard the carrots and onion. Add the rice to the broth and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, shred the chicken meat, discarding the skin and bones. Add the meat and pepper to the broth and heat for 3 minutes. Scoop the avocados into individual bowls and ladle the soup over the top. Sprinkle with the cilantro and squeeze on the limes.

Recommended: 12-quart pot

To Freeze: Omit the avocados, cilantro, and limes. Let the soup cool, then ladle into large resealable bags, filling each one halfway. Store for up to 3 months.

To Reheat: Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or thaw partially in the microwave. Warm in a covered saucepan over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Scoop the avocado into bowls, ladle in the soup, and garnish with the cilantro. Serve with the lime wedges on the side.

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New world order

This weekend marked the first time that I cooked in the kitchen alone. Paul was visiting family and I had the time, ingredients and courage to cook. Alone.

I took a recipe out the recipe book that came with our Convection/Microwave. Chicken Enchiladas. It was okay but not good enough to post and recommend. I need to do some tweaking to get it to recommendable state. I will play with the recipe and post when it's worthy.

The very cool thing about the oven (as I frequently discuss with my friend Barb) is the fastbake feature. These enchiladas cooked in 23 minutes. Total. 19 to cook and 4 minutes with the little extra cheese on top. (Diary is GOOD for you) :) I could probably throttle back to 3 minutes with the toppings.

If you are looking for something new to cook, check Lisa's blog, another culinary diva who loves to cook, eat and drink. She IS someone you would want at a party. :)

We are relatively cooking blandly right now. We promise new and exciting adventures in cooking when the kitchen comes together.

Monday, September 1, 2008

New meal in the Convection Oven

Well, we are smoking...ha! Our first meal from the kitchen was terrific. We made a pork chop meal in a 2 quart Pyrex container. The pork chops were dirt cheap at Meijer, a place were we are doing a lot more shopping. Along with some chili sauce, a little brown sugar, sliced onions and lemon, the chops cooked for about 45 minutes, and rested for about 10. They were absolutely delicious. I have some extra for lunch.

Along with the rest of world, we are conscious of where we shop, going local as much as possible. Meijer has amazing produce, far better than our local (and very high priced D & W), an excellent selection of dry goods and milk/yogurt products and all the bottle and can beverages known to man. A far better selection than Sam's Club and lower prices than D & W. And we are supporting a local business. We keep our membership to Sam's Club for the lower gas price - and that is significant, and we buy staples there as well.

We were going to do the chicken enchiladas tonight but our neighbors Dennis and Amy are doing a final hurrah for the summer - some brats on the grill, a couple of cold Oberon and Founder's Ale and some fellowship. We have later in the week with rain coming to cook indoors.

Cheers from the Cafe!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

What's cooking?

Well tonight, it's going to be ribeyes on the grill, along with asparagus and corn. Paul has become the corn grilling man. He wraps it in tin foil and it is JUST perfect.

Our friends at Art of the Table recommended a unique bottle of zinfandel for our ribeyes.
Since they have never steered us wrong, we immediately obliged. We will post a review of the wine post Saturday meal.

It is so wonderful to be cooking again. We have work space in the kitchen, the weather is nothing short of perfect and those bag o'salads are coming in quite handy. With the convection oven installed, we have some flexibility for meals. Whew. And when the rest of the appliances are installed, the possibilities will be endless.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A long, lonely summer

We have no kitchen. Ummm, I guess technically we do have a kitchen, only it's several walls, a subfloor and a nicely painted ceiling thanks to Paul and Deb. So what have we been doing all summer? Jimmy Johns, 10 minute and a host of local restaurants with coupons from friends. This has not been an inexpensive proposition - not from the renovation perspective or the eating out perspective. All the way around it's been expensive!

So I dream of baking in my new kitchen. We will have a convection oven and by friends' accounts, it is pretty slick. Here is my first order once the new kitchen is up and humming.

Blueberry Cobbler (courtesy of Lakeside Living and Entertaining)

1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup sugar, divided (I might try Splenda)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water (not to be confused with the boiling water part)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups fresh blueberries rinsed and drained.

Oven 400 degrees. Baking sheet covered with aluminum foil.

In a large bowl, mix flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Stir in boiling water just until mixture is moist.

In a separate bowl, dissolve corn starch in water. Mix in remaining sugar, lemon juice and blueberries. Transfer to cast iron skillet and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

Drop dough into skillet by spoonfuls. Place skillet on baking sheet and bake 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My favorite Salad

Deirdre posting...

Salads I think are the most overlooked component of a good meal. When we lived in San Diego, one of my very favorite restaurants was Sammy's Wood Fired Pizza. The name was a misnomer, as some of the BEST items on the menu were salads. And pasta. But salads are the focus here. I loved their chopped salad and worked to replicate it, just as deliciously but not as much work. So here is my very best knock off. Enjoy.


* 1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
* 12 leaves basil (or more) chopped
* 3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
* 1/2 cup salami, cut into thin strips (optional)
* 2 tablespoons scallion, chopped

I can't replicate the dressing but I can do one better. (Paul) Newman's Own Dressing is the best for it. Using sparingly. This salad doesn't keep so use it up! Eat up, too.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

OK, I have been slacking...

In all the excitement the past few weeks, I have neglected this blog. I need to make the time to keep it updated.

Summer is upon us and I am hoping that some of the readers of this blog who are also members of the East of the Equator Cafe will start to share their warm weather recipes!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What's in the Oven?

We had a wonderful and lively discussion today at lunch about ...baking. I have two friends who believe that baking is an art and should not start with a box. Of anything.

From that conversation came two recipes.

Marcie gave us recipe #1 and said that it was not only easy but fabulous. Keep in mind that Marcie would like to own her own bakery some day. I would trust anything that she says. :)

Her comments: Here is the recipe. A couple of notes: you could probably use any kind of nuts. I love pecans, but I think walnuts would be good too, and usually aren't as expensive as pecans. Watch the cake. I didn't have to bake it the entire 35 minutes, but I used a glass pan. I also had to broil the top for about 3 minutes before it got really bubbly and caramelized. But you have to watch it so it doesn't burn. I also added a 1/4 tsp of nutmeg to cake. I think that is it.

Oatmeal Cake with Coconut-Nut Topping

1 c. quick cooking oats
1 1/3 cup flour
1 1/4 cup boiling water
* tsp. salt
* cup butter
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup brown sugar
* tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs

* cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup coconut
3 T. milk

Pour boiling water over oatmeal, cool. Preheat oven to 325. Cream butter, sugar and eggs. Sift flour, salt, soda, baking powder, cinnamon and add to creamed mixture. Add oatmeal. Place in a 9 by 13 inch greased cake pan. Bake at 325 for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

For Topping: Boil butter, brown sugar and milk in a heavy saucepan for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add nuts and coconut. Spread on baked cake and return to oven under broiler for 1 minute or until bubbly.

Jennifer shared her best-cake-in-the-world recipe. Not only is she a fabulous IT director, she is a terrific cook.

Her comments: "This cake uses a cake mix to make a crust, over which there is a cream cheese layer. Easy to make."

Gooey Butter Cake III

  • 1 (18.5 ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Mix cake mix, melted butter or margarine, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 eggs with a spoon. Pat into a 9 X 13 inch pan.
  3. Mix cream cheese, 2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla with an electric mixer. Slowly beat in confectioner's sugar. Pour over cake layer.
  4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Simply Delicious

Posting by Deirdre

I am a huge fan of Parade Magazine. Not because of the gossip or the stories, not even because of Marilyn Vos Savant. I LOVE their recipes. Simply Delicious by Sheila Lukins has some of the best darn recipes that I have seen. This week, she has a recipe for Flank Steak, a summer staple in our house and a Lemon Caesar salad, yet another staple! Wow. My lucky day!

If you don't subscribe to our Foodies GR, check out Parade this week. I think the Flank Steak will be a homerun!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hearty Chicken Strew

Dee challenged me to make her a new dish for our Easter Dinner. I was going to cook that perennial favorite, flank steak, but Dee wanted something with chicken. I searched the internet and found a recipe titled "Hearty Chicken Stew." I had most of the ingredients in the fridge, but I had to run out and get the spuds. I made this recipe for dinner and I am pleased to report that not only as it easy to make, but it was also delicious. I am going to post this recipe in the East of the Equator Cafe momentarily. This dish goes great with a loaf of crusty bread and a hearty Chardonnay.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I was poking around the internet the other day and I found a recipe that needed capers. I had made a dish that needed capers earlier in the week and I wanted to put the remaining capers to good use. Well, I made this recipe last night and it was nothing short of fantastic. I followed the recipe as written. As for the ingredient "poultry seasoning," I used Mrs. Dash Grilling Blend for Chicken. The coating of flour and parmesan cheese adhered quite well to the chicken breasts and it turned into a spicy coating. In addition to the chicken, I served Pine Nut Cous Cous and green beans. Additionally, we washed it down with some chardonnay. All in all, it was a great meal and I would recommend it to anyone who likes chicken!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Filet Mignon with Horseradish Sauce

Recently, I made this dish and I have to admit that it turned out great! I cooked the filets until they were done to our liking, and while the meat was resting I whipped up the sauce. I followed the recipe as written, and the sauce had a light horseradish flavor. I am a big fan of horseradish, but I wanted to follow the recipe exactly before I tweaked it. The sauce was light and creamy with just a hint of horseradish flavor. While the sauce was yummy, I would have preferred more horseradish taste. The next time I make this meal, I will add more horseradish sauce.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Chicken Provencale

Julia Child once said that she needed to make a recipe at least 10 times before she was comfortable with a recipe. Well, I have at least 6 or 7 more tries to get this recipe right. Tonight I made perhaps my best rendition of this dish. The HR Maven was quite pleased with this attempt at the meal. I have not even begun to think about Friday night's meal. Updates to follow.

OK, I have been slacking...

I have not done a very good job updating this blog. Truth be told, I have been busy looking for a job. Yes, I am trying to become a working stiff once again. The search has been a lot of fun, perhaps too much. and it is chronicled here. I am going to head out this afternoon and do a little grocery shopping for tonight's dinner and the weekend. I see some baked chicken in our future...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Chile con Carne Recipe

As requested by Swani, the recipe for tonight's meal is posted below this text. For anyone who wants access to all the recipes in the Cafe's group, drop me a note ( and I will send you an invitation to join the us.

Chili con Carne

2 large onions, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 carrots, sliced
3 lbs boneless beef chuck, ground coarse
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon crumbled dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried hot red pepper flakes
2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
1 1/4 cups beef broth
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot cook the onions in the olive oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened. Once the onions are softened, add the garlic and carrots, then cook and stir the mixture for 1 minute. Add the beef and cook it over moderate heat, stirring and breaking up any lumps, until the beef is no longer pink. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, and the red pepper flakes, then cook and stir the mixture for 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce, beef broth, cider vinegar and bring the mixture to a boil. After the mixture begins to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally for 50 to 60 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 15 more minutes.

Serves 6

Chili con Carne

Tonight I am making one of my favorite meals, Chili con Carne. When I was growing up, my mother would make chili and serve it with rice. I always loved the aromas that would permeate the kitchen when she made chili. Also, I thought that "carne" meant rice, since chili had, well, its own name. How wrong I was! The word carne is the Spanish word for meat. After I started making my own chili, I stopped serving rice with the dish. I did start adding cheese and sometimes sour cream as a side to the main course. We will probably wash this meal down with a few oat pops. Life agrees with us.

The Prime Rib was great!

The prime rib was yummy last night. I have not made a roast in a while, but much like riding a bicycle, you never really forget how to cook it. I have a lot of left overs, so Dee and I will be enjoying this meal for a few days to come!

(Note from Dee) Oh yeah. It was terrific!

Saturday, February 23, 2008


OK, I have been ignoring this blog for a while. Truth be told, I have been busy. Busy with trying to find a job! Sure, you might think that I should not be shirking my responsibilities to maintain the East of the Equator Cafe, but you are getting what you pay for when you visit this blog!

All kidding aside, it has been a busy couple of weeks for me. I have applied for a few positions in and around Grand Rapids, one of them is the job of Director of Readiness and Response for the American Red Cross. I had my second interview last week and I am now waiting for the decision of the Chief Executive Officer. Look here for more information about my job search.

Back to dinner tonight. A few months ago I made a bunch of beef stock. I use the stock to make the au jus for prime rib, as well as for the base for a few different sauces and reductions.
In my freezer I have four servings of beef stick and given the cold, cold weather we are experiencing here in the Enchanted Mitten, also known as the Motherland to this person. At breakfast this morning I spoke to the spousal unit as to her desires and I suggested prime rib. The wife looked with favor upon this proposal, so during our shopping trip this morning, I purchased an 8 pound roast, along with a few other things needed to make this meal.

Some people look at prime rib as an extravagance, but it is quite economical. The roast I purchased was $6.97 /lb, and there is little waste when it comes to this cut of beef. Also, this roast will give rise to a couple of left over meals, too. We will be enjoying a bottle of Estancia Merlot. Side dishes will be French Green Beans and some sort of tossed greens, too. It is a cold, grey Saturday here, so this meal will help take the chill out of our bones.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


With the bathroom on a mini hiatus, Paul decided to cook tonight. He is making Chicken Provencale since it has been over a week since he made it. :) I think that we are having rice, steamed asparagus and a salad.

This is one of my favorite meals and Paul continues to tweak and experiment. I encourage you to try it!

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Please go to this link to hear about what I made for dinner on Friday night!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I added something to the recipe for the Chicken Provencale last night. When I was at D&W yesterday, I happened to be in the "Pickles and Condiments" aisle and I walked by a bottle of capers. I thought that a few capers might improve the overall taste and texture of the meal. I threw in a couple tablespoons of capers into the skillet when I added the tomatoes. I am happy to report that the capers did as intended: they made this delicious dish even better. I will amend the recipe in the group to reflect the addition of capers, as an option, for this dish.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tuesday Night's Dinner

I am making Chicken Provencale tonight. I will serve this dish with some cous cous and tossed greens and we will most likely wash it down with some Australian Chardonnay. Julia Child once said that as a cook, she felt that she needed to make a recipe at least 10 times to be comfortable making the dish. This is only the second time I have made this dish, so I have a ways to go with this recipe! I am going to incorporate more chicken in my menus as it is inexpensive, easy to cook and more importantly, when properly prepared it is good for you!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Chicken despite disrupted Chi

Dinner was a joy. We were sitting around this morning in sub zero temperatures, drinking coffee and enjoying the fire in our fireplace. I said to Paul, "I think I would like chicken for dinner." And despite our Chi being completely displaced, Paul obliged. Chicken with Lemon and Capers. Chicken pan friend with a magnificent sauce of lemon, butter, white wine and capers. Oh, magnifique! A little chicken and herbed cous cous and a salad, it was perfect for a bitterly cold winter night.

The recipe is in the Group list. Email me if you need it!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Filet Mignon

OK, I have not posted much to this blog recently. My chi has been somewhat disrupted. Our fabulous contractor, HWC Homeworks, started work on our second bathroom and I have not been in much of a mood for cooking. Part of the problem is that redoing any room in your house is a dirty, dusty job. We had just cleaned up the mess from the remodeling of our first bathroom project and this new project stirred up the dust again. The dust and dirt is not as bad as the first project, but it is just as pervasive. This week I will endeavor to improve my postings on this blog.

For the record, tonight I am making Pan Seared Filet Mignon with Cabernet Sauce. Yum!

Friday, January 18, 2008

My Friday Meal

Deirdre posting...

Tonight, Paul is cooking. Since I have worked a grueling day, Paul was kind of enough to ask me what I wanted.

Tonight, I have opted for Cilantro Chicken. It is fabulous. The chicken is soaked in honey, lime juice and olive oil and baked. At the end of the bake, we top it with cheese, salsa and cilantro. It is easy to cook and easy to clean up. We will compliment the chicken with cous cous, a ceasar salad and a Chilean chardonnay, Veo.

If you would like the recipe or want to rub elbows with some foodie Grand Rapids nerds, drop us a note. We would love to have you join our group!