Archive for November, 2008

turkeymeatloafThanksgiving may be over, turkey unstuffed and carved, but I can’t get enough of that bird!  While my leftovers age in the freezer, I went for the fresh ground stuff to make this killer meatloaf.

Chopped sundried tomatoes add tang to each bite and complement the ketchup on top, which I must say works well despite my initial skepticism.  The meat is surprisingly moist and tender for ground white-meat turkey, which often has a tendency to dry out. I added minced white mushrooms and fresh herbs sauteed in olive oil to help the moisture factor, and baked it for exactly 50 minutes.

Wonderful flavor — and perfect with some roasted carrots and parsnips which you can lightly oil, salt and pepper and toss in the pan with about 15 minutes to go. Couldn’t be easier.

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On Thanksgiving this year, I dined with extended family of Austrian descent. And next to the turkey on their spread was a platter of traditional schwein schnitzel, or breaded pork cutlets. The tenderized pork loin fillets were seasoned, breaded and panfried in olive oil. Often the dish is also served with a lemon, parsley and caper sauce, fried egg and several strips of anchovies.

As chef Roswitha Cusick demonstrates for Peanutbuttermilk, these delicious and crispy schnitzel are easy to make and a fitting complement to any traditional Austrian holiday meal.

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Decadent Brownies


Dense. Moist. Chewy. Ultra-rich. Flaky top. These brownies from scratch used nearly a whole canister of Ghiradelli cocoa powder! ….and “only” two and half sticks of butter, four eggs and two cups of sugar.

I doubled this recipe (Epicurious, November 2003) to make a full 9×13 pan of these treats.

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It’s amazing what you can do with a small kitchen and limited selection of cooking tools. This meal was “simple cooking” at its finest: savory, sophisticated flavors and a beautiful presentation.

Kudos to Bon Appétit for this delicious marinade. Last month I tried it with chicken breasts; it’s even better with pork tenderloin. In just two hours, the meat was well-infused with the essence of thyme, garlic, rosemary, and white wine. I seared the meat in a hot pan before topping with Dijon mustard and roasting in the oven for 30 minutes. The creamy mustard-tarragon sauce on top is sublime.


The slightly tart and peppery flavor of swiss chard was a great complement to the pork. In this preparation, I separated the stalks from the leaves, blanching the leaves first and then cooking the stalks a little bit longer in boiling water. To finish, I sautéed the chard, diced tomatoes, and garlic in olive oil and lemon juice. (Since it was my first time cooking with swiss chard, I used Tom Colicchio’s recipe as a guide.)


Twice-baked potatoes are a family favorite, and even though I didn’t have a Cuisinart — much less a potato masher! — I was able to pull these off with a good ‘ole fork and spoon. I blended the potato with cream, lots of fresh parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. And topped, of course, with sharp Wisconsin cheddar. Yum.

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One of the early staples in my cooking repertoire was the taco dinner: browned ground beef with an Old El Paso spice pack and all the prepacked fixings, from shredded Kraft cheese and chopped iceberg lettuce to flour tortillas and canned salsa. It was always an easy, tasty meal, but certainly not authentic, healthy or inventive. Oh how far I’ve come!

For a recent small fiesta with friends, I prepared two kinds of tacos and two homemade salsas for dipping and topping on the side.

I know “veggie” tacos may not sound the most enticing, but this recipe (Parade Magazine, Jan. 2008) is creative and surprisingly delicious. A medley of diced eggplant, red bell pepper, tomatoes and parsley is sauteed with onion, garlic and seasonings. Red kidney beans and chickpeas add substance and “meatiness” to the mix. Topped with grated cheese in a crunchy shell, these were a winner.

The slow-cooked beef tacos were even more of a hit among with my friends. Cubed boneless beef chuck is stewed for a couple hours in salsa, beef broth, garlic, brown sugar and soy sauce; cilantro and lime juice are added at the end for an extra kick. The meat emerges tender and flavorful, with a finger-licking-good sauce. Highly recommend this recipe (Bon Appetit, Nov. 1997).

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There’s nothing better after a long day at work than a hot bowl of this chili – and a cold glass of beer!

The recipe is a first-rate alternative to your traditional red chili with its unique, and positively addictive, taste. No chili powder here: just cumin, oregano, a dash of cayenne pepper, and cinnamon, which adds a subtle complexity to the flavor.

The spices meld with the gamey flavor of turkey and browned onion and garlic, and they’re stewed with white cannellini beans (a delicate substitute for the typical red kidney bean), yellow corn and mushrooms.

Topped with a handful of grated extra sharp Wisconsin cheddar, a bowl of this chili is a meal in itself.

Turkey White Bean Chili

1/2 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound ground turkey

2 cans chopped mild green chili peppers

1 package mushrooms, sliced

1 can corn

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon oregano

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash of cayenne pepper

3 cans (15 oz) cannellini beans

4 cups chicken broth

Shredded cheddar cheese

(1) In a large pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil for five minutes. Add turkey and brown, around 10 minutes.

(2) Add chili peppers and spices and continue to saute for 5 more minutes.

(3) Add two cans of beans, mushrooms, corn and the broth to the pot.  Using a fork, mash the third can of beans to a puree before adding.

(4) Simmer over low heat for 30-45 minutes.

(5) Top with cheese, salsa and/or sour cream before serving.

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On a recent visit home, Mom concocted this delightful Sunday brunch entree: a southwest breakfast tostada topped with two poached eggs, fresh diced avocado and tomatoes. Sandwiched between the crunchy tostada layers are black beans, cheese, and salsa. It’s an easy preparation, tasty dish, and looks great when entertaining.

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Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside. That’s what you get when you mix-in pumpkin puree with oatmeal raisin cookie batter!  These are tasty cookies with a satisfying assortment of harvest goodness: whole oats, chopped walnuts, and raisins.

The pumpkin and cinnamon spice are subtle autumn flavors that come through in the modestly soft, chewy interior of the cookie. And, they’re not overwhelmingly sweet which makes them taste extra wholesome.

Harvest Cookies

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 sticks butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup raisins

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

(1) Preheat the oven to 350.

(2) Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add egg, pumpkin and vanilla.

(3) Mix in dry ingredients. Then, add raisins and walnuts.

(4) Drop spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.

(5) Leave on sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

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Cauliflower is an often unsung vegetable, relegated to veggie-and-dip platters between the broccoli and carrots. But steamed, roasted or mashed, cauliflower can be incredibly tasty and unique. And it seems to have a special affinity for pairing with cheese.

This recipe, fresh out of the November issue of Gourmet, may seem bland at first glance. But the white wine, garlic, fresh thyme and herb brie meld together to create a sensational taste. It’s a flavorful and creamy risotto that has a unique texture from the almonds and golden-brown chunks of cauliflower.

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