Friday, August 21, 2009

A Real American Winner

I'm very excited that Rick Bayless won the first season of Top Chef Masters. His video is adorable. What a low-key guy!

It was interesting to have watched the series and root for the finalists; I would have been OK with either Bayless or Hubert Keller winning, but the previous couple of episodes Michael Chiarello came off like, well, a jerk, so I wasn't rooting for him. Particularly in the episode where the finalists had to interview former Top Chef contestants, he made them scramble to chop stuff for him, and asked everyone how to pronounce his name. Degrading interivew questions! The other 2 chefs treated the TC-ers more respectfully, both in the interviews and during the ensuing challenge.

Oh, and in the video Bravo calls his "exit interview" he says he "could have manipulated the outcome" of the finale by choosing a different dish! What an egomaniac. He's a good-looking guy but did not deserve to win.

I also think it was fitting Bayless won because his is a true American cuisine; Keller cooks from a French background; Chiarello from Italian roots; but Bayless has Oklahome BBQ roots and specilizes in Mexican cuisine, which is also North American.

I also want to say that I like that Kelly Choi hosted the Masters episodes; we watched her on her NYC-cable channel days and it's nice to see her on a bigger stage.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lamb Burgers

This is adapted from this Lamb Burgers recipe, but of course, we made it our own using what we had.

* 3/4-1 lb. lamb shoulder, chopped fine (we used our Oscar mini chopper, which had the advantage over hand chopping in that we were able to pull the sinewy strings out whole)
* 2 TB chopped fresh parsley
* 1 TB dried oregano
* 1 TB garlic, chopped
* 1 tsp. white vinegar
* 1 tsp. honey
* 1 tsp. ground cumin
* 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
* 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Place the lamb in a large bowl and mix with the parsley, oregano, garlic, vinegar, and honey.
Season with cumin, allspice, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.

Shape into 3 or 4 patties.

Coat the bottom of a large saute pan with olive oil and heat. Add lamb burgers and cook until well done. Place on rolls and eat!

Oh, and we had a raita/tzaziki sauce: Mix together 1 c. plain yogurt, 1/2 finely shredded cucumber (without the seedy inside part), 1 tsp. garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, pepper to taste.

Husband and I think these would be even better with some tomato and lettuce on top; as it were, with the rosemary ciabbata rolls we put them on, it was really filling. But tasty!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Shrimp in Veggie Broth, a la CSA

This is adapted from a recipe in the Feb 2009 issue of Bon Appetit, which did not have zucchini or broccoli stems.

Serves 4:

4 Cippolini onions, chopped
Broccoli stems, peeled, and small leaves from 2 or 3 bunches, chopped
2 medium zucchini, peeled and halved and cut into 1/8-inch rounds
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 TB paprika
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, we used with jalapeno
2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 8-oz bottle clam juice
3 c water
4 small red potatoes, scrubbed and cut in 1/8 inch slices; I cut the bigger ones in half so the size would be similar.
1 lb. peeled, deveined medium shrimp

1. Heat oil in large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute until almost tender. Add broccoli, zucchini and saute until just tender.

2. Add garlic and paprika; stir 2 minutes.

3. Stir in tomatoes and juice and cook until liquid has evaporated, stirring frequently (about 15 minutes). Toward the end, stir in rosemary and red pepper.

4. Stir in clam juice, then water, and bring to a boil.

5. Add potatoes; simmer until they are almost tender, about 5 minutes.

6. Add shrimp; simmer until just cooked through, about 5 minutes.

7. Remove from heat and cooking pan immediately (to avoid overcooking the shrimp). Season with salt and pepper.

Blue Bear's BlogHer '09 Experience

I had a great time at BlogHer in Chicago.

To be quite honest, I was a little confused about whether we were at BlogHer or BagHer.

And I wished Mommy let me go to the foodbloggers session but oh, well.

Here I am at LaGuardia Airport waiting the 3 hours our flight was delayed. Although we thought it was a bum steer to have to pay for Internet access, it was worth it. We got all the hot dog recipes posted and did some other stuff too.

When we finally arrived at Midway at 1 am, we had to take a cab. We took this picture for DuckyBoy so he could compare to NYC taxis.

Friday's Newbie Breakfast was fun, we hooked up with Sara and everyone was nice. We did our first of many business-card shuffles.

Next we attended our first session, on Owning Your Expertise.

Lemme see: "Hi, my name is Blue Bear, and I'm an expert in Holt-Wright Family Recipes, because I'm the coordinator and mascot of their recipe blog." Sound good?

I didn't drive this Camaro but it was cool to see it at the Expo.. DuckyBoy says it's the kind of car Bumblebee is.

I was really hoping to win the full set of McDonald's Teeny Beanies!

If you look closely you'll see that one space is empty and guess what, we know which one it is -- it's the little guinea pig, FluffBall!

BowlHer sounded like fun. The feather boa was too big for me, but I liked the chocolate Goldfish and the bag.

Mommy tried to explain how fun CheeseburgHer was, but I didn't quite get it. Guess I'da had to have been there.

I do like this cool T-shirt I got, even though it's from Build-a-Bear and I'm not!

Did I mention how hard it was to get up every morning? I was up waaaay past my bedtime every night! And the bed was very soft and comfy.

We met one more BlogHer in the shuttle to the airport (she's in front of me to the left), and got the scoop on the AlphaMoms bloggers' conference in September in Asheville, NC!

Since we hadn't been able to FedEx anything, we repacked the carry-ons at the airport to condense from 3 to 2, and ate our swag Stacy's Parmesan chips in case security wouldn't let us carry them through. They were delish!

Bye, Chicago! Bye, fellow BlogHers! Hope to see you next year in NYC!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Displaced Wall Street Executive Dog

Right now I'm waiting for my flight to Chicago to attend BlogHer with Mommy. Our flight is delayed like 2 hours so I thought I'd post the recipes for and assorted minutiae about our WINNING hot dog in the 4th Annual Great Hot Dog Cookoff! Yes, we won "Toy Dog" category, meaning the best rich-tasting dog.

Buns: We found a great price at the Entenmann's outlet on QB: 3 packages of 16 buns for $3!

After much back-and-forth with a Stop & Shop employee about whether the dogs we had were weiners or franks, and what exactly was supposed to be on sale and where it was (turns out that store doesn't even carry that item, but the sign was up anyway), we got all-beef Oscar Mayer dogs for BOGO-- that's buy one get one free for the uninitiated -- which means about $2.30 per pack of 10.

Another BOGO special, we got Plumrose bacon on sale the day before the sale ended, also at Stop & Shop. Scott spent about 5 hours cooking all 14 pounds in the oven so each piece stayed nice and straight.

Prime Rib Chili
We made modifications to the original Chili recipe as follows:
* Instead of deer meat, use well trimmed, finely diced prime rib.
* Use 2 lbs prime rib and 1 lb ground chuck.
* Sautee the veggies in bacon fat instead of olive oil.
* Deglaze the pan with some white wine before dumping everything back in.
* Cook on low in crock pot 6-8 hours.
* We also added 1 tsp. cumin.

Ski Weekend in Vermont Cheddar

Scott was tempted to use any-old Cheddar but I insisted on Vermont, since that's what we said. Right? So we got Stop Shop brand on sale, 10 ounces for $2.50 (technically it was 2 packages for $5, but since we bought 10 that was no problem.)

We got both the Mexican Riviera Crema recipe and the In-the-red Onion Relish recipe from a Bobby Flay Food Network page from an episode of Boy Meets Grill. We get a lot of our recipes from the Food Network site.
* We used sour cream, Daisy brand, because it, of course, was on sale.
* We left the serrano chili out of the Relish because we just didn't have one. I'm sure it would be good with it as well, just have more kick to balance the sweetness of the cooked red onions. (Who knew?)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chicken Stock

This is loosely based on Alton Brown's chicken stock recipe from, of course,

The good thing about something like stock is you can use whatever you've got. This is what I had:
  • Raw bones from 8 thighs
  • 2/3 of a large onion, quartered
  • 8 baby carrots
  • Celery (I didn't have any celery so I threw in maybe a scant tsp of celery seed)
  • Thyme (yay, CSA from last year!)
  • Bay leaf
  • Peppercorns
  • Garlic (didn't have a clove so I put in a heaping tsp. of the jarred chopped stuff)
Cover with water. Boil for about an hour, adding water to keep covered, until you re-read the recipe and realize you're supposed to turn it down to a simmer.

Simmer for 6 hours, or until it's finally DB's bedtime and you have time to strain and cool it off and put it in jars and refrigerate.

I actually did put the hot stock into 2 different containers and put it in an ice bath in cold water in the sink as the original suggests. I couldn't find my thermometer (even though it was right in front of me), so couldn't check if it got to 40 degrees, but I did cool it off.

Yield this time: 7 cups.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cider-Cured Pork Chops

This recipe is from Sam Sifton for The New York Times a few years ago.

We made the whole meal as part of Mother's Day 2009:
Cider-Cured Pork Chops
Caramelized Apples and Onions
A Cheat's Bordelaise Sauce

But the shopping, oh the shopping! made all the difference. We got everything on Saturday so the meat could brine for at least one whole day.

We went to Butcher Block in Sunnyside for the meat. (We call it "the Irish butcher." Db is willing to go with us becuase the story carries all kinds of unusual British chips, like onion flavored and bacon.

In order to get the meat the way he wanted it -- whole bone instead of sliced through -- Husband asked for "loin chops, frenched," and apparently the butcher thought that was a lot of work so he told us how to order next time: "Just ask for thick-cut chops, bone-in."

I was skeptical of the description in the article (from the Magazine, January 23, 2005) of the bed of "pillowy apples" the chops were on, but lo and behold, those Granny Smiths really were pillowy. And delicious. They were also from the Irish butcher.

The white onions, though, were from a bodega by the shoe store where we had to go to get our son's new shoes. I ran in to get Husband a soda and noticed how nice the onions looked, and decided to grab them right there. produce is so hit-or-miss around here, especially onions -- our next stop store might not even have white onions or no good ones.

We've never cooked with white onions before, they were really good. Mild.

Husband was a little disappointed not to have demi-glace for the sauce, but I thought it was good. 25 hours? 2 recipes to cook before you can even get to making the demi-glace? 2 gallons of sauces to boil down? Maybe we'll buy some online for next time.

I have to agree with Sifton's last sentence of the article: "It's a fiddle, sure. But it makes for a fine Sunday night dinner." It definitely did.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

* Appetizer: Baked Brie en Croute
* Main dish: Cider-Cured Pork Chops
* Side dish: Twice-Baked Potatoes
* Dessert: Vanilla ice cream

* For DB: Chicken Nuggets in Sleeping Bags

The Baked Brie recipe came from Food Network and a chef named Jill Davie from Josie in Los Angeles, a contestant on The Next Iron Chef. We haven't been into the US version of Iron Chef; too formalized, I guess. We prefer the organic chaos of Hells Kitchen and Last Restaurant Standing. Maybe we just like the Brits, too. But I like the sound of some of Jill's other recipes, too. We found this one because we were looking for brie in puff pastry.

We didn't find as big of a wheel as she calls for; maybe ours was 5 or 6 inch. So we only needed 1 sheet of puff pastry and didn't use all quarter-cup of the dried cherries. Oh, and it only had to bake for 30 minutes.

Oh, now I see it says to turn the oven down after 20-30 minutes. Uh, we didn't do that. Maybe that's why ours was so liquidy. We though we needed to let it rest longer before we served it. (We'll try both things next time.)

We've had this recipe for a while.

I thought we'd be too full to eat twice-baked potatoes but they actually were a really good complement to the pork, which was much lighter than beef. Following an recipe, we baked the potatoes at 350F for an hour (my in-laws kept trying to convince us they had to cook at a higher temp but we held firm), then cut off the top and scooped out the inside, mixed in the other ingredients (we left off the bacon but it sounds delish) and let them sit on a baking sheet until it was time to put them back in the oven, again at 350, for 15 minutes or so.

Since it was Mother's Day I actually didn't help with the potatoes. Thanks for your help, Anna!

I for one was very excited to have a whole sheet of puff pastry left over from the baked Brie. I made Chicken Nuggets in Sleeping Bags for DB. I actually saw the recipe on but don't want you to have to join the site to see the recipe, so I've linked something very similar at Recipezaar, another site we trust.

I was so pleased he not only tucked right into them but also really liked them; we just never know about something new. I left off the ham. The cheese baked really nicely, almost disappearing into the pastry. And DB himself had the best idea for making the face -- I told him I left off the faces since he doesn't like ketchup,and he suggested using Easy Cheese next time!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Welcome to Blue Bear's Kitchen

Blue Bear has been told by the Internet Marketing Fortune Teller that blogging might be a good way to boost his coaching business, based on his socialization preferences.

Meanwhile, Mom and Dad are thinking we might use this blog to post Dad's weekly recipe tryouts.