Monday, March 28, 2011

Not quite Tuscany

Winter is refusing to leave us and after long walks with my dog Jackson I am always looking for a good warm-me-up meal. Perhaps the desire to be somewhere warmer inspired me to make a Tuscan white bean soup, and it certainly hit the spot! Since I couldn't find a recipe online that I really liked I decided to use my talents and make up my own. This is what I ended up with!

Winter Warm-up Tuscan White Bean Soup
You will need: 2 tablespoons butter, 1/2 onion, 2 celery stalks, 2 leeks (thinly slice only the white parts), 3 sliced carrots, chopped or sliced 4 garlic cloves, bunch of fresh spinach, 2 15oz cans of white beans, 4 c chicken stock, thyme, salt, pepper.
Sautee onion, carrots, celery and leeks in butter until soft. Add garlic and spices to your liking, sautee couple more minutes, add spinach and after it wilts pour in the chicken stock and drained beans, boil and cook on low heat for few minutes.
Very easy to make and super tasty! If you think you may not be able to handle the garlic, make sure to decrease the amount - this soup would definitely not be enjoyed by vampires, that's for sure!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fish the Scandinavian way

You probably thought I was making Lutefisk! Truly, I don't think I have the stomach for that... Instead, Chef Jeff proposed we try preserving fish in a authentically natural way and make our own lox. He made sure we had a fresh salmon fillet and covered it with a mix of sugar and salt 1:1 ratio. You can use whatever spices you desire on the fillet itself before you preserve it, he opted to cover it with fresh ground black pepper.
Yes, this is a lot of salt and sugar, but rest assured none of it actually makes it to your plate. When you unwrap the fillet it needs to be rinsed off of the natural preservatives. We let the fillet sit in the fridge, covered in salt and sugar and wrapped tight in plastic wrap for 24 hours. After that, Jeff sliced it really thin while I was salivating. Bagel and capers are common companions to lox, but since I am not a die hard bagel fan, we chose Tuscan bread and dressed the sandwich up with thinly sliced red onions. Now, that's what I call a perfect Sunday lunch!

Friday, March 18, 2011

How to make chicken happy

Just roast it in butter! And no, I did not use Paula Deen's recipe, although from the word "butter" I know you may have suspected that! However, Barefoot Contessa's Ina Garten, one of my favorite food show hosts, raves about her roasted chicken she makes for her husband every Friday. Can roasted chicken be THAT good, I thought?
Oh, yes it can! AND so simple! Stuffing the cavity with salt, pepper, lemon and garlic and roasting it with vegetables is not very complex, yet it creates a delicious meal because of the little extra things that are involved. The chicken has a very delicate flavor of lemon and garlic, and not too overpowering at all. Adding a fennel bulb as one of the vegetables may seem a bizarre thing to do, but this vegetable is sweet and very pleasing when roasted. Baking potatoes in olive oil and chopped garlic in a separate pan will allow them to develop a nice crunch, which is what I always seem to miss out on when roasting chicken and veggies using other recipes.
You can find the recipe for Perfect Roast Chicken here. Now, not only the chicken is "Perfect" - check out those veggies, too!
Garlic Roasted Potatoes with a delicate crunch is how I like them!
Mmm... Gravy...

Friday, March 11, 2011

There heeeere!

When you live away from your home country sometimes you search for the little pieces that remind you of it. For me it's usually food. Now, living in North Dakota doesn't exactly present with too many opportunities to get Polish food, and when I crave some Polish flavors I resort to either going on trips to Polish Town in Chicago or Poland, of course. A much better, quicker and cheaper alternative would be ordering food online, and since Fat Tuesday was approaching quickly, and the Polish tradition is to eat doughnuts on this day, I though to myself - what a better dessert to have than some Polish doughnuts, or paczki!
Quickly I got online and ordered from Polana store online, that offers variety of other Polish foods, as well. Polish doughnuts vary from American doughnuts in appearance and the way they're prepared; they are also deep fried, but they're round and don't have the traditional American hole in the middle. Paczki are filled with confiture, or jam and glazed with icing. Traditional paczki are never prepared any other way.
And now, there here. As delicious as I remember. And I'm not sharing!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Heart attack breakfast

Everyone knows I like a good dessert, especially one that has European roots. Although I find American doughnuts little too sweet for me, I sure appreciate French pastries, such as beignets, or deep-fried pieces of dough covered with powdered sugar. Cafe du Monde, recommended at our hotel, is famous for those little pieces of goodness! Now, when a cafe shows up on the wikipedia page under the word "beignets", when it IS the VERY definition of beignets, you should not omit it when visiting New Orleans!

Let me tell you how to eat those little wonders. Step 1. Go to Cafe du Monde and keep in mind it will be very busy!
Step 2. Sit on the bench with a good view of Decatur St. Take couple sips of the famous cafe au lait made with chicory infused coffee.
Step 3. Hold the bag filled with beignets and powered sugar and shake it good to ensure even coverage!Step 4. Even if you want to eat all of your beignets at once, you have to control yourself and eat one at a time. Otherwise you will be covered with powdered sugar. Well, who are we kidding, you will be covered in powdered sugar anyway!

Step 5. Let it all go and devour those yummy pieces. You don't have to be well-mannered while eating those, everyone around you is doing the same thing!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Soft shell crab

Crabs shed their outer skeleton in order to grow for about a week at a time. Some species of crab can actually be eaten in that form, along with the soft shell that is covering them. While in N.O. Jeff wanted to try this delicacy and was not disappointed with it! Served battered and deep fried and with a dipping sauce was a very interesting addition to our culinary adventures!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Raw or grilled

That's your choice when ordering oysters. Which one are you going to have?
Char-grilled oysters are covered with cheese and served with buttery toast, so the choice seems pretty obvious, right? Wrong!
The Anna's Tasty Award goes to raw oysters at Acme Oyster House in N.O.! Served with sauce of ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce) and crackers are a true hit!

At work cracking them open!
Just waiting to be devoured.
Dipped in the sauce and on a cracker.
The grilled oysters were delicious too, but I thought that frying them covered in cheese took away from the natural seafood taste I was looking for.