Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Perfect Asparagus

Every day it seems I become more and more like my mother. My teenage self would find this to be a point of despair; my almost-30 self is actually a bit pleased with the notion. We look the same. We talk the same. We both have a weakness for popcorn and peanut M&Ms. I’ve inherited her kind eyes, her child-bearing hips, and her love of Neil Diamond. However, there is still one major subject on which we politely disagree.


When my mom cooks asparagus, I clench my teeth to resist complaint as the lovely stalks become overcooked in boiling water on the stovetop, going from bright crisp green to limp canned-peas green in a matter of minutes. She knows this, we’ve discussed it. She simply prefers soft, thoroughly cooked asparagus vs my preference of crunchy, barely blanched stalks. But hey, if she’s making dinner, who am I to argue? Never criticize the cook.

In my own kitchen, though, I have one rule for that welcome harbinger of spring: the simpler, the quicker, the better. My definition of asparagus perfection is this recipe, which is so simple I can hardly call it a recipe.

Dare I say it, I think my mom would even like it.

Perfect Asparagus
To test the freshness of asparagus, bend a stalk about an inch from the bottom; the bottom bit should snap off crisply. Bendy asparagus = old asparagus. Look at the tops too; the buds should be tightly grouped together. I added approximate measurements in case you must measure, but I’d recommend just eyeing it.

1 lb. asparagus stalks, rinsed, patted dry, and bottom ends trimmed off
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
2-3 Tbls. extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tsp. red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
About ¼ c. freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat broiler on high heat. Spread asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt and drizzle olive oil over the top. Toss a bit to spread the salt and oil around. Place under broiler for 3-5 minutes, watching carefully, removing just when browned markings start to appear. Toss the asparagus then place under broiler again for 1-2 minutes until additional browned markings appear but before it gets burnt/black. Remove from broiler, transfer asparagus to serving platter, drizzle with vinegar or lemon juice, top with parmesan, and serve.

Variation: instead of using the broiler, grill asparagus just until char marks appear.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Oatmeal Pancakes

Did you try the buttermilk pancakes yet? Pretty awesome. But let’s say you want to change it up a little bit. Maybe you’re looking for something a little heartier, more toothsome (Hi Steph). Maybe you’re watching your white flour consumption and want a more whole grain option for breakfast (Hi Mom). Or maybe you’re just on a pancake kick (Hi Me).

Reader, meet Oatmeal Pancakes. Oatmeal Pancakes, this is Reader. I think you guys will get along just fine.

I found this recipe on In Praise of Leftovers, who found it on Orangette, who adapted it from some cozy inn in who-knows-where (maybe an inn in Innsbruck?). Now it lands in your lap. Don’t you love the Internet? If it made it this far, maybe it’s worth a try.

Warning: the oatmeal needs to soak in the buttermilk overnight. I know, ugh, preplanning, but it’s painless, I promise. Hopefully your weekends are leisurely enough to allow for a home-cooked breakfast now and then. Or dare I even suggest this on a weekday? Is that ridiculously crazy? Oh, how lovely it would be to pretend just for a day that we lived in the era of Tuesday morning pancakes.

Oatmeal Pancakes
From Orangette

2 cups rolled oats
2 cups buttermilk
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. table salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted but not hot
Vegetable oil or spray, for greasing the pan
Maple syrup, for serving

The night before:
Combine the oats and buttermilk in a medium bowl. Stir to mix. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

The morning of:
Take the bowl of buttermilk and oats out of the fridge. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Add the eggs and melted butter to the oat mixture, and stir well. Add the flour mixture, and stir to blend. The batter will be very thick.

Warm a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat, and brush (or spray) with vegetable oil. To make sure it’s hot enough, wet your fingers under the tap and sprinkle a few droplets of water onto the pan. If they sizzle, it’s ready. Scoop the batter, about a scant ¼ cup at a time, onto the pan, taking care not to crowd them. When the underside is nicely browned and the top looks set around the edges, flip the pancakes. Cook until the second side has browned.

Re-grease the skillet, and repeat with more batter. If you find that the pancakes are browning too quickly, dial the heat back to medium.

Serve hot, with maple syrup.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cherry Vanilla Milkshake

It’s not cherry season. It’s not milkshake season. Frankly, in North Dakota right now it’s not anything season, so if I want a cherry milkshake while there is still snow on the ground, I’m not going to apologize for it.

I don’t know what I’d do without a freezer. Well, actually I do know what I’d do: just keep all the frozen stuff outside my back door, since it is cold enough there for six months out of the year at least. We’d have a feast every spring when the snow started to melt. You’d all be invited. I hope you like venison.

Knowing how tough it can be to get decent fruit from grocery stores here in the winter months (you think someone would have figured out how to transport a crisp apple by now), I stock up on bags of frozen fruit. Some of it is locally grown produce that I’ve stored away, but I also get frozen organic fruit on sale now and then at the grocery store. The quality of frozen organic fruit is usually excellent, and maybe it’s just my imagination, but I think the organic stuff packs a bigger flavor punch (smaller size, more condensed flavor). They’re great for smoothies, oatmeal, muffins, pancakes…and milkshakes.

Sometimes I get very specific food cravings, and lately, a cherry vanilla milkshake has been calling out to me. I don’t even know that I’ve ever had a cherry vanilla milkshake, it just sounded really really good.

So I whipped one up. Yum. Craving satisfied. Meanwhile, in mid sip I noticed that Ben managed to bite off the tip of his only baby bottle.

I'm just glad it was the bottle nipple he bit off and not some other nearer/dearer nip. Here child. Go play in the pots and pans.

If you really want to get crazy (and I know you do), add a swirl of chocolate syrup to your cherry milkshake. And speaking of fun, crazy things (although it has little to do with milkshakes), you need to watch the new OK Go video. Click here. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen on YouTube in a long time. You can watch it while drinking your cherry vanilla milkshake. Double joy.

Cherry Vanilla Milkshake
3/4 c. vanilla ice cream
3/4 c. frozen sweet cherries
1/2 c. milk

Blend until smooth.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Buttermilk Pancakes

How do you like your pancakes? Pancakes are one of those foods that are drenched in nostalgia. When you are eight years old sitting at the table in your pjs with sticky Aunt Jemima fingers, basking in the glow of no school Saturdays, chowing down on pancakes during a cartoon break, you don’t really care if mom used buttermilk or Bisquick. You just know that it’s Saturday and the Smurfs are going to be on soon, and then you are going to go outside and work on that backyard fort with your friends from down the street and that is basically a perfect day.

Frankly, I still think that’s a perfect day.

I grew up on these simple pancakes, but lately I’ve been converted to the power of buttermilk. I won’t bore you with my limited understanding of how the acid of the buttermilk interacts with the baking powder and baking soda to make the cakes fluffier and how its tanginess adds a layer of flavor…just trust the generations of pancake flippers before us who figured this out well before we ever reached for a skillet.

I still love the pancakes I grew up on, but now as a grown-up who is a little more consciencious of her carb consumption, if I’m eating pancakes, I want the very definition of pancake – light, fluffy, almost powdery melt-in-your-mouth pancakes.

These…are the definition of pancakes. In fact, dare I say it, they may be the best pancakes I've ever made. Or maybe I'm just having a really good day.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to my fort construction.

Buttermilk Pancakes
From Fine Cooking mag

3 Tbls. butter, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour (feel free to substitute up to half with whole wheat flour)
1/4 cup sugar
2 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
Vegetable oil for the griddle
Pure maple syrup for serving, along with additional butter

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk and eggs. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Whisk gently until dry ingredients are almost incorporated; stop before the batter is evenly moistened. Add cooled melted butter and mix just until the batter is eenly moistened (there will be lumps). Let the batter rest while you heat the griddle.

Heat an electric griddle to 375 degrees. Lightly oil the griddle. Working in batches, pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto the hot griddle for each pancake, spacing about 1" apart. Let cook undisturbed until bubbles start popping on the surface and the edges look dry, about 2 minutes. Check the underside to ensure it is nicely browned, then flip and cook other side for 1 minute. Repeat with remaining batter, adjusting heat as needed to prevent burning or undercooking. Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.

Friday, March 19, 2010

March Madness: The Cake vs. Pie Tournament

I don't get into college basketball, but I do enjoy dessert. Fortunately, Jezebel.com has taken on the massive challenge of finally determining the dessert champion! Check it out and vote here.

Frankly, I already disagree with some of the seeding. Red velvet over German chocolate? Pecan pie over rhubarb pie? But it's all in good fun. Who do you think will win? I think it will definitely be cake over pie, but after that I'm not so sure. The carrot vs. ice cream cake battle will be a good one to watch.

Let the games begin!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bratwurst with Cabbage and Apples

I’ve already professed my love of cabbage on this blog, but in case you missed it: I really like cabbage. I mean, I really like it. One could say I love cabbage. I’m ok with that.

In fact, I realize now that I've posted cabbage and apples before. A different recipe, but still. Let's just say I think it's underappreciated, and worth another look.

Cabbage and apples. It's like peas and carrots. Calvin and Hobbes. Mork and Mindy. Last fall was an amazing year for my mom’s apple tree, and I still have plenty of homemade mason-jarred applesauce and apple pie filling lining my cupboard along with bags of sliced apples in the freezer. Spring is just around the corner, so let’s squeeze it one more hearty wintery sausage, cabbage, and apples dish while we still can, shall we?
Feel free to play polka music during dinner, if it puts you more in the German dinner spirit. This isn't traditional polka, but I find this weirdly entertaining. I'm a nerd like that.

Bratwurst with Cabbage and Apples
Adapted from Food and Wine

4-6 bratwurst
One 3-pound head of green cabbage—halved, cored and coarsely shredded (12 cups)
1 cup Riesling
1 and ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 Granny Smith apples—peeled, halved, cored and sliced 1/8 inch thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the wine, lemon juice and sugar. Let marinate for 30 minutes, tossing often.

Meanwhile, prepare bratwurst via your preferred method until thoroughly cooked (boil, pan fry, grill, roasted over an open campfire, etc.).

In a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and its marinade and cook over moderately high heat, tossing, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, about 20 minutes. Add the apples and toss well. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are just tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sick Day Tea

In case you're wondering what exotic concoction I'm fixing for dinner here tonight, prepare to be unimpressed:


I'm sick.

Drunk on Nyquil when the baby woke up yet again this morning, I groggily called into work to say that there was no-way no-how I was making it to the office today. I clumsily got the crying baby dressed, my lovely husband (also sick) took him to daycare, then we crashed in separate bedrooms, snoozing as much as our sore throats and hacking coughs would let us, occasionally passing each other in the kitchen when we made trips for more water and oj.

Ahhh, the romance.

But this post isn't a plea for sympathy. I'm actually feeling a bit better right now. No, this post is to inform you that if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, you need to brew some of this. Seriously, you'll instantly feel better and as a bonus, you'll make your grandma proud for using a home remedy. However, for the record, I'm grateful for living in a world with Nyquil, Halls, and Mucinex.

Thanks for the recipe, Ibti. This stuff worked wonders.

Sick Day Tea
Ibti puts minced garlic in her brew as well; I left it out, but by all means, throw it in if you'd like. My 94 year old a-raw-garlic-clove-a-day grandpa would approve.

In a small pot, combine:

1 cup water
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 TBSP honey
a pinch of cayenne powder
1 inch peeled, minced ginger OR 1/4 tsp powdered ginger OR just use ginger tea in place of the water

Heat on the stove top until warm.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Girl Scout Cookies!

I got my Girl Scout cookies today! All the colorful boxes tied with a string, delivered by my co-worker’s adorable seven-year-old daughter in her first year of Scouts wearing her little blue apron with a few scattered badges sewn on (I guess you have to be a certain age to get into the classic green/brown uniforms). Her mom tells me she worked really hard on cookie sales, not only to have funds for activities but also because she had her eye on a particular prize – a stuffed frog.

I know one could look at these as just pre-packaged, overpriced cookies, turning our youth into door-to-door salespeople at a tender age, but even looking at it that way, you have to admit it is still pure Americana - capitalism, kindness, and our collective sweet tooth in action. What’s your favorite? I used to be a Shortbread gal, but I think I’m more of a Samoa chick now…or, excuse me, Caramel deLites. However, Thin Mints are running a close second. And let’s not even go into the fact that DQ is now adding Girl Scout cookies to their Blizzards. That’s like crack topped with chocolate crack icing. You can’t resist.

And by the way, our little cookie seller got her frog.

If you are in the Bismarck area searching for a Girl Scout cookie fix, click here to see dates and locations for cookie booths around town.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tuna Noodle Casserole

I just wanted to use up some celery.

You know how you pick up some celery at the store, maybe using a couple ribs for some soup or stuffing…and then the rest just sits there, slowly wilting in the crisper, dying a long, sad, silent death. I’m not the type to just munch on raw celery. I don’t even really like celery unless it’s cooked and hidden in something. Or raw but covered with peanut butter and raisins. Then I can be coerced.

Since food is a terrible thing to waste, I tried to think of ways to using up the celery. A challenge, to be sure. Stir fry? Still too crunchy and raw tasting for me. Waldorf salad? Ummm, no. Cooked up with carrots and onions and slipped into spaghetti sauce? I guess maybe, but spaghetti sauce feels like an easy out.

Flipping through that gorgeous green Gourmet Today, I noticed something surprising: a recipe for tuna noodle casserole. That’s so 1962, I love it. The recipe called for mushrooms, but I thought this could be a good place for celery instead. Perfect! One little problem: my husband claims not to like tuna.

So here we are. I don’t like celery. He doesn’t like tuna. So I’m going to make a massive pan of tuna noodle casserole with celery so we can both disgruntled about dinner, apparently.


But somehow, the creamy sauce, egg noodles and crispy topping worked their magic, and we ended up eating half the pan for dinner, the other half making awesome lunch leftovers. I don’t even know why I bother with plates sometimes; I should just set out the pan with a couple forks. Two fewer dishes to wash. Or hey, just go trough-style. Then no need to wash the forks either!

Ben has the right idea.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 Tbls. butter
About 6 ribs celery, sliced
3 tsp. soy sauce
1/3 c. sherry
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
3 c. pheasant stock (or canned chicken broth)
1 and 1/2 c. whole milk
3 tsp. lemon juice
Two 5-oz. cans tuna, drained
9 oz. egg noodles (usually come in 12 oz. bag - use most of the bag)
3/4 sleeve saltine crackers, crushed (about 1 to 1 and 1/2 c. of crumbs)
1/4 lb. shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tbls. vegetable oil

Butter a glass 9x13" dish. Set aside.

Cook noodles in boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in large heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add onion and celery with pinch of salt and cook until softened, about 5 mins. Add soy sauce and sherry and boil, stirring occasionally until evaporated. Scrape veggies out of pot onto a separate plate and set aside.

Melt remaining butter in the pot over moderate heat. Add flour and cook, whisking, for 3 mins to make a roux (a browned butter-flour paste that acts as a thickener). Add stock in a steady stream, whisking constantly, and bring to a boil, whisking. Whisk in milk, reduce heat, and simmer, whisking frequently, for 5 mins.

Stir in celery/onion mixture, lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp. salt into sauce. Flake tuna into sauce and stir gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. Add cooked noodles and stir gently to combine. Pour mixture into buttered dish and spread evenly.

Toss together cracker crumbs and cheese. Drizzle mixture with oil and toss again. Sprinkle evenly over casserole. Bake at 375 degrees until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling, 20-30 mins.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Walleye En Papillote

When people find out I’m a food blogger, especially a wild game blogger, after the laughter subsides I sometimes get asked for something different to do with game. Ok, so I've only been asked this twice, but still, it's a valid question. We all know how to fry up venison steak in a cast iron pan or batter some fish, but what about some other ideas for cooking up venison/fish/pheasant/grouse/rabbit/squirrel/road kill?

Hey, don't knock it. Just because the deer got hit by a truck instead of a bullet doesn’t necessarily mean the meat is no good.

Since we’re in the Lenten season, let’s talk fish. If you find yourself in a rut, grabbing for another box of Shore Lunch or that dreaded can of condensed soup, consider reaching for the parchment paper instead. You’ll get brownie points for presentation as everyone at the table opens their own little packet of perfectly steamed fish and veggies. Ooh la la.

This recipe is completely open to improvisation; just ensure the veggies are cut thinly so they cook quickly. In fact, although this turned out fine, zucchini and carrots would not be my first choice – it’s just what I had available. Maybe you have some celery and mushrooms knocking around in your crisper you could use instead. Leeks and asparagus tips would be gorgeous. Or maybe go Mexican with cabbage, carrots, a little taco seasoning and a slice of lime instead of lemon. Be inspired by what you already have – a secret to a happy life as well, I’m told.

Walleye En Papillote with Carrot and Zucchini
Adapted from How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

2 lbs. walleye fillets
1 zucchini, shredded or julienned
3 carrots, shredded or julienned
White wine vinegar
Olive oil
Old Bay seasoning
1 lemon, thinly sliced

Combine carrots and zucchini; set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut 8 1'-square pieces of parchment paper or aluminum foil. On each, place about 1/2 cup carrot-zucchini mixture, dividing equally among the parchment pieces. Then top each pile of veggies with a couple walleye fillets. Splash a little vinegar on the fish (about 1-2 tsp), then drizzle each with olive oil (about 1 Tbls). Sprinkle generously with Old Bay and finally top each with a lemon slice.

Wrap up each into a packet (fold three corners into the middle, then roll up into the fourth corner). Place the packets in a single layer fold side down in a large baking dish (I used two 13x9 dishes, four packets in each). Bake for about 20 minutes. Check fish in one package; the fish should be thoroughly cooked and flake easily with a fork. Serve packages closed, allowing each diner to open his or her own at the table.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

Oh boy, here we go again.

You may recall the mouthgasm that was the preztel caramel ice cream...if so, you'll totally understand why I HAD to make these cookies. I saw them on Karen Cooks and knew they had to be mine. All mine. I'm such a salty/sweet addict.

Although it's not terribly labor intensive to make cookies, I'm still trying to figure out how to bake with a baby at my feet. Lately, my method is to just let him do whatever occupies him, as long as he isn't hurting himself. This means he does stuff like this:

And like this:

Don't even ask about the toilet paper roll.

I guess I could just order take out, grab some Pepperidge Farm Milanos and call it good, not have to worry about baby chaos in the kitchen - but I'm a sucker for the homecooked stuff. And there's nothing wrong with a little baby chaos now and then, right? These cookies were totally worth it.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies
You may be thinking, 'Pretzels? Really Beth? I'm not sure about this. I'm scared. Hold me.' But it's ok. These are great. Promise. And they have oatmeal in them, so you can eat them for breakfast. That's the rule. I only had two cups of oats, so raided my husband's hunting/camping food stash and used a couple packets of instant oatmeal to make up for the last cup, one regular packet and one cinnamon spice - still turned out great. Thanks for the recipe, Karen!

1 ½ cups flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups oats
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup pretzel pieces (crunched up pretzels w/ your hands or a rolling pin)

Preheat oven to 350F; line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift flour and baking soda together and set aside. Cream the butter and sugars together. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix well. Add vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix well. Add the oats, chocolate chips and pretzels and mix well. Place rounded tablespoons onto the sheet and cook 10-14 minutes. Cool for a minute on the sheet then transfer to a wire rack.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lentil, Sausage, and Kale Soup

For a blog called Rhubarb and Venison, I sure haven’t been posting many game recipes lately. I guess I’m just a girly girl at heart – I love my red KitchenAid mixer and the smell of flour, butter, and sugar baking up in the oven.

But a gal can’t live on baked goods alone…although it would be fun to try. So here’s a recipe with one of my favorite forms of venison: bulk Italian sausage (half pork, half venison). So easy, so versatile, so good.

The idea of making your own sausage may sound intimidating - I know I sure didn't think of trying it before meeting my sweetheart carnivore. But sausage is nothing more than ground meat mixed with spices. Easy peasy. If you don’t want to blend your own spice mix, most butchers will sell you the seasonings, even measuring it out for your exact weight of meat. You don’t even have to stuff the meat into casings – just leave it in bulk form, freeze it in 1-lb. packages, and be prepared to be crowned spaghetti sauce royalty.

So we have the manly Italian sausage, mixed with the decidedly more feminine lentils and kale – a perfect balance, if you ask me. I don’t know if there is such a thing as a recipe dedication, but I’m going to do it anyway. I dedicate this recipe to my dear mom, the only other person I know that appreciates a dish of lentils and kale as much as I do.

We must be related or something.

If you’re looking for more on all things venison, check out these excellent blogs on eating wild.

Fat of the Land
Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
Cooked Animals

Lentil, Sausage, and Kale Soup
Adapted from Cooking Today. I know. I'm addicted. Have you ordered your copy yet? Don't skip the vinegar - it's adds a ton of flavor.

1 and 2/3 cups brown lentills, picked over and rinsed
4 cups water
4 cups pheasant stock (or store-bought chicken broth)
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tbls. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
2 Tbls. tomato paste
1/2 lb. kale, ribs removed and chopped (4 cups packed)
1-2 Tbls. red wine vinegar

Combine lentils, water, stock, bay leaf, and half of garlic in 4-quart pot and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a 5- or 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderately high heat. Add sausage and cook until brown, breaking up with spoon, about 7 minutes. Transfer sausage to a bowl, leaving any oil in the pot. Reduce heat to moderate and add onion, carrot, celery, remaining garlic, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 5 mins. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 2 mins. Add sausage and simmering lentils with cooking liquid, and simmer uncovered until lentils are tender, another 10-15 mins.

Stir in kale and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Discard bay leaf, stir in vinegar to taste and season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How to Get a $2 Copy of Gourmet Today

Yup, that’s right. Two bucks for a brand spankin' new copy of this fab cookbook. You only need to know two things:

1. Although it retails for $40, you can find new copies of this cookbook online for as low as $9.95 + $4 shipping = $14 total. That’s a steal of a deal. Check the alternative booksellers on Amazon, or do a Froogle search for lowest price.

2. Once you receive the book, you should see an offer on the cover for a free subscription to Gourmet magazine. However, instead of the now-defunct Gourmet subscription, you can send in a copy of your receipt with the form on the back cover flap for a $12 refund (details on the form; refund offer valid until 12/31/10).

Bada-bing, $2 cookbook! And a really good one at that.

Disclaimer: in no way do I guarantee any of this, as the prices can change at any time, there may be copies out there without the refund offer, or the refund offer could be rescinded. I’m just speaking from my experience – I’ll have to wait 6-8 weeks to ensure the refund check comes through.

Good luck and happy cooking!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Quinoa with Mango and Curried Yogurt

Is it spring yet, Mr. Robin?


I love the four seasons, but I’ve never felt quite so cooped up as I have this winter. Maybe it’s the baby. Maybe it’s some sort of internal restlessness making itself heard. Maybe it’s just a touch of the winter blues. Whatever it is, I’m just itching to take off these layers and lay in the grass. I can’t wait for my hands and feet to be warm again, digging in the garden dirt. I’m looking forward to throwing open the windows, shaking out the rugs, and hanging laundry on the line outside.

I want to hear birds and crickets again. Winter is so quiet.

It’s times like these that make me thankful for grocery stores. As much as I try to eat locally, a gal can only handle so much bratwurst, potatoes, and kraut. In the middle of winter as local pickings get sparse, a ripe mango can make all the difference in my day. $3 for those plastic containers of fresh herbs seems like a ridiculous price in August, but in March, it’s a small price to pay for the flavor of those precious leaves.

Hubby was away last weekend snowshoeing in the Badlands, so I made this dish just for me. A big bowl of summer with mango, mint, red pepper and curry. According to the recipe, it makes six servings as a side. And I ate it. All of it. Well, I ate half, then came back to it for a couple more nibbles, and then thought ‘What the hell’ and just went for it, scraping the bowl for the last summery bite. Somehow, the indulgence buys me a little more patience as I await the first glimpses of green.

Quinoa with Mango and Curried Yogurt
From Gourmet Today. Haven’t tried quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) yet? It’s worth checking out – look in the natural foods section of your grocery store. If you can’t find it, I bet this dish would be great using basmati rice instead.

1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbls. lime juice
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. finely grated peeled fresh ginger
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbls. vegetable oil
1 and 1/3 cups quinoa
1 firm but ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2" chunks
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4" dice
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped

Cook quinoa according to package directions.

Meanwhile, whisk together yogurt, lime juice, curry powder, ginger, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined.

Once quinoa is cooked, set aside to cool a bit, then toss quinoa with curried yogurt and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature.