Friday, August 30, 2013

silver and gold

doorknob in our house

on the stairs in the Madison MOCA

yellow carrots in thrifted bowl

window in our dining room

curried red lentil stew

It's been a long time since I've posted because I've been so busy with work and company visiting.
These are some photos I've been accruing over the past weeks.
(all photos taken by myself except #2 and #4 by Matt)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

meatless with mushrooms

This week was a pretty good week for animals.  We had several vegetarian meals, which were all very yummy.  This meal will be my first official "Meatless Monday" link for the Midnight Maniac blog (whose author I was delighted to discover is a fellow Wisconsinite!).  Our vegetarian attempts have recently become even more appealing, as our trip to Japan helped Matt and I both get over our mushroom "issues" once and for all.  Their earthy, meaty qualities were perfect for these flavorful meatless tacos.

I was able to whip this up fairly quickly since I had roasted and peeled the hot peppers earlier in the week to make our own rendition of this decidedly meat-ful torta (I'll leave description for another post).  I am about ready to start roasting up a huge batch of peppers--poblano, red, yellow, orange, and otherwise hot--on the weekends to have on hand all week for sandwiches, salads, soups, and the like.  I could also use a vat of roasted garlic in the fridge at all times.

Anyway, I digress.  I simplified the taco recipe a bit by switching out fresh epazote for dried oregano and omitting the coxita cheese.  I also used some frozen fresh salsa I stored away last fall instead of making the salsa quemada, though it sounds quite tasty as well.  Next time we thought we'd add a bit of Greek yogurt (our go-to sour cream substitute), but overall this turned out very well.  But look out--for us this made a ton of filling.  I'll be eating this as a salad topping all week!

Mushroom, Rajas, and Corn Tacos with Queso Fresco
adapted (slightly) from Epicurious

2 Anaheim chiles
1 poblano chile
1 c frozen or fresh corn kernels (about 1 ear)
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt
1/2 white onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 lg clove garlic, thinly sliced
6 oz cremini or white button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1 tsp oregano, preferably Mexican
Fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 c queso fresco, cut into small cubes
6 warm corn tortillas
Salsa quemada or your favorite salsa
Cilantro sprigs

Roast the chiles as for rajas.  If you have a gas stove, it's simple to quickly char the skin on the peppers directly over the gas flame.  If you're like me and are stuck with electric, it's not much more difficult.  I roast the peppers under a hot broiler in a small pan lined with foil for about 5 minutes on each side, staying nearby to check every so often, until all sides are blackened and beginning to blister.  Put the peppers in a plastic zippered bag and seal for about 15 minutes, or until the chiles have cooled and the skin is readily peeled.  Pull the stem from the top and strip the skin from the peppers, then remove the seeds and cut into 1/2-inch dice.

Heat a heavy pan (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat until very hot.  If using frozen corn, place corn in colander and rinse until thawed.  Allow to drain and dry somewhat before the next step.  In a bowl, toss the corn with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Spread the corn in the hot pan and let it blacken slightly, without stirring, for 30 seconds. Have a lid ready in case the kernels begin to pop. Remove the roasted corn from the pan.  In the same pan, heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and diced chiles and cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown. Season lightly with salt and remove from the pan.

Reduce the heat and add the remaining olive oil. Add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the corn and chiles to the pan and stir to reheat.  Turn off the heat and stir in the oregano, black pepper, and queso fresco.
To assemble the tacos, spoon some vegetables onto a tortilla. Top with a generous tablespoon of salsa. Top with cilantro and sour cream or Greek yogurt, if desired.

Monday, August 26, 2013

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

friday night burgers and fries

One meal we keep coming back to is some variation on burgers with oven fries. Since spring seems to have come early in the midwest (cross your fingers that it stays), yesterday was the perfect day to dust off the grill and cook some bison patties. Yes, the actual, fiery, outdoor grill. Not the George Foreman. We topped the burgers with our go-to topping, chipotle caramelized onions. I'm not sure whether these are caramelized in the "right" way (see here for a tutorial), but they always turn out very well.

Chipotle Caramelized Onions
adapted from Food Network

1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 - 1 chipotle in adobo, finely chopped, or about 1 tsp dried chipotle chili powder (go easy--you can always add more later!)
1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1 tbsp beef broth, chicken broth, or water
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Place all ingredients in a medium saute pan and cook on medium, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and cooked down (about 30 minutes). If things begin to stick too much, add another tablespoon or two of water. These keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

bison burger with sharp cheddar, bacon, chipotle caramelized onions, and avocado

I also took the opportunity to try a new recipe for oven fries. The NY Times recipe involved preheating the pan in a very hot oven while preparing the mixture of sweet and red potatoes. This intrigued me. Could the hot pan make for crispier fries? I could not fit all of the potatoes into one pan and grabbed another at the last minute, thus unintentionally conducting a sort of experiment that compared a preheated pan to a pan at room temperature.

The results were varied. As I should have foreseen, the sugar in the sweet potatoes quickly caramelized and then scorched on the preheated pan (you can see some of them in the photo). They turned out better in the cool pan. On the other hand, I preferred the red potato wedges that crisped up in the preheated pan. I could have gotten the same effect in the cool pan if I left them in longer, but the high heat cuts the cooking time down from 40-45 minutes to 25-30. I would definitely recommend this method, but leave out the sweet potatoes.

Oven Fries
adapted from
makes 4-6 servings

2 pounds waxy potatoes, such as red potatoes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Place in the oven while you prepare the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into wedges that are 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick at the thickest point and toss with the olive oil and salt.

Remove the hot pan from the oven, and add the potatoes to the pan in an even layer. Be sure they don't overlap or they won't crisp. They should sizzle. Return to the oven, and lower the heat to 450 degrees. Roast 25 minutes or until tender.

Remove the pan from the oven, and loosen the potatoes from the foil using an offset spatula. Return to the oven and cook for another five minutes. Serve at once, seasoned with more salt if desired.

Friday, August 23, 2013

matt cooks

Poor Matt was left at home until almost 7 while I was finishing report cards at school. He made the entire meal, from searing and roasting chicken thighs to picking the meat off the bones. It was really great (both to eat it and to not have cooked it!). By the way, we did not make the salsa ourselves. The recipe was hard enough already.

Matt also grilled bison burgers for our first outdoor meal of the year (see Ollie sniffing in corner).

Bison Burger with Pepper Jack Cheese, Avocado, Tomato, Bacon, Onions, and Greens

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

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Monday, August 19, 2013

six new-old things

Over my break from grad classes, I finally put inspiration from Casey's blog to work and made this jewelry holder. 

I painted an old bulletin board with an old off-white paint on the cork, then taped the cork off and spray-painted the frame glossy black.  Then all I had to do was screw in some inexpensive gold cup hooks and I had a much more attractive and organized way to keep my jewelry.  The cork holds my brooches and pins as well as extra pendants on straight pins.

Next up is a new Madison spot we like that is not really all that new to the city.  In the past year or so, Madison Sourdough opened a restaurant featuring their yummy breads.

I got a the bacon/goat cheese deal, which I liked better than Matt did.  He got the chicken salad, which he liked better than I did.  Both were really solid sandwiches with tasty side salads.  Plus we ordered a chocolate croissant, too quickly inhaled to be photographed.  We will be returning. 

bacon with fig marmalade and goat cheese on five grain sourdough

chicken salad with apple, pine nuts, red onion, aioli, and greens on country sourdough

Right after the holidays, Matt and I had a very successful trip to Good Style Shop, which has just changed hands but will likely still be providing a great deal of my vintage wardrobe.  I found this lovely spring coat.  Let's hope the groundhog was right so I can wear it soon!  It has a nice houndstooth wool lining, but it's not nearly heavy enough to tackle these below-zero windchills.  And, since I've been practically living in my boots this winter, I was thrilled to pick up this cute new-old pair.  Apparently, I've got a thing for camel-colored clothing right now.


Below is a video of my favorite new song, played live.  It's from Ty Segall's last full-length, Melted, which came out last summer.  I'm just a little slow on the uptake sometimes.  (I'm working on getting the sizing of the video right...) Edit: I finally got the size of the video right!

Finally, just for fun, is a brand-new picture of my old dog.  Not all the white on that face is snow!
Stay warm!

Monday, August 12, 2013

first csa meal

This week Matt and I picked up our first box of vegetables from our CSA (community-supported agriculture) share with Amazing Grace Farm. We got spinach, arugula, pok choi, radishes, asparagus, and baby onions. Here's the first meal I've made with the fresh ingredients.

asparagus pasta carbonara with salad of greens

Also, check out this great recipe for chicken satay stir fry with orange-scented jasmine rice. Be warned, there is a ton of peanut butter in the sauce. I cut the amount down to 2 tablespoons and it turned out great.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


It's been quite awhile since I've posted about cooking. It's about time I share some tasty meals! Last night Matt grilled some marinated chicken breasts and I made a yummy quinoa side dish.

grilled chicken with yellow quinoa

Tonight I threw together some things I had leftover, making a zucchini side dish and putting it on a flatbread. It was pretty delicious.

flatbread with roasted lemony zucchini & red onions, chicken, pine nuts, and feta

Tomorrow it's off to California for us! Hopefully there will be great food and shopping to post when I get back.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

another easy dinner

Somehow when I'm menu planning, I can manage to fill one week with incredibly painstaking recipes and the next with very simple meals. I typically don't notice this trend until the groceries have been purchased and it's time to cook. It seems his week has been on the easy side. Here's a sandwich recipe that took us less than 20 minutes to whip up tonight.

These sandwiches are a more modest version of the super-sweet Monte Cristo which is typically topped with powdered sugar and raspberry jam (sometimes Matt fixes his that way still!). What makes these Monte Cristos is a french toast-style bread filled with some kind of meat and cheese.

Turkey Monte Cristos
adapted from Family Circle
Makes 4 sandwiches

8 slices sourdough bread (the crustier the better!)
sliced turkey breast
4 slices muenster cheese
Dijon mustard
tomatoes (optional--we just happened to have some around)
arugula, basil, or spinach leaves
3 eggs
1 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp butter

Assemble the sandwiches with the mustard, turkey, tomatoes (if using), muenster, and greens. Beat the eggs in a bowl with the milk, nutmeg, and cayenne.

Heat 1 tbsp of the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until bubbly. Quickly dip each side of the assembled sandwich in the egg mixture. Fry two sandwiches for a few minutes on each side, until brown and the egg is cooked and the cheese is beginning to melt. Transfer the sandwiches to a warm oven and turn the skillet down to medium heat. Cook the other two sandwiches. Serve with your favorite kettle chips. Easy!

*Note: If you'd like to make a more traditional Monte Cristo, leave off the mustard, add ham, dust with powdered sugar at the end, and serve with raspberry jam.