Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Beef Stuffed Chard with Marinara and Gorgonzola

When life gets complicated and intense I like to focus on the things that make me happy and one of those things obviously is cooking.  The other thing that helps me on days like today is now reminiscing about our fun adventure in Europe, so I will continue on with the stories!  After Dijon we went to Paris for 5 days.  The place that we stayed ended up being nice once we got in but boy was that an ordeal just trying to get the keys.  To make a long story short the owner of the apartment has a cleaning guy who then also hands off the keys to the guests and he was definitely up to something sketchy.  He told us all these stories once in person and once over the phone as to why we couldn't get into our apartment at the original time...anyway 4 hours later we finally did get in and had a moment to rest.  The building also had really steep stairs as you can see in one of the pictures below.  That night we went on an adventure around town and stopped at a couple fun and hospitable bars but while we were walking around I found the funniest barber shop ad (pictured below).  The next day before we really began our adventures we ate breakfast at this cute little corner bar and I had thin rye toast with jambon, fromage, and tomates (pictured below) and it was amazing!  Speaking of food last night I adapted this recipe and it was so very tasty and healthy too!

Serve 2-3

The Ingredients
1 pound 90%-lean ground beef
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup onion, minced, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
8 large Swiss chard leaves, stems removed (see Tip)
1 14 ounce can chicken broth
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup Gorgonzola, (optional)
1 cups mushrooms, sliced

The Process
1.  Gently mix beef, almond flour, 1/4 cup onions, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl until just combined. Divide the mixture into 8 oblong 3-inch portions.

2.  Overlap the two sides of a chard leaf where the stem was removed and place a portion of beef there. Tightly roll the chard around the beef. Place each roll, seam-side down, in a large nonstick skillet. Pour in broth, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a roll reads 165 degrees F, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any remaining broth.

3.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining onion, mushrooms, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and thickened, about 8 minutes. Serve the chard rolls topped with sauce and Gorgonzola cheese, if desired.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Skillet Chicken with Bacon Cream Sauce

After we left Switzerland we had another 1 day stop in Dijon, France.  I didn't do a lot of research about Dijon before we left and so I had the impression that it was a small town but boy was I wrong, it was definitely at least the size of PDX.  Here we stayed in an adorable little garden cottage with a very sweet host who left us fresh croissants from the bakery.  We wandered around this city for hours and we went to the famous mustard shop called Maille founded in 1747.  This shop was amazing and we bought lots of gifts for people here, we did save two things for our selves though which were apple cider vinegar and a mushroom mustard.  There were tons of people on the main shopping street,  huge music boxes,  beautiful fountains (pictured below), and something similar to a puppet show.  We later found out that we were at the Saturday market that happens every week.  We eventually made our way back to our cottage and decided we were too tired to cook so we found a little sushi place near our home called Sushi Wabi.  It was so delicious, if you look at the picture below towards the back you can see they even gave us duck sushi!  I wish we had a little more time in Dijon but more time in Paris was also just fine with me.  We also enjoyed lots of wine from Rhone.  I adapted this recipe last night for dinner and it was crazy delicious, although my sauce didn't seem to thicken up like it was suppose to.

Serves 4-5

The Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 chicken thighs
salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chicken stock
8 strips bacon (cooked, fat drained off, and chopped into small chunks) - divided
5 thin lemon slices
2/3 cup heavy cream.
2 green onions, chopped

The Process
1.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Generously season chicken thighs with salt and pepper - make sure to season under the skin too. Add chicken thighs skin side down to the hot skillet. Cook for about 5-7 minutes on high-medium heat, covered, skin side down, without flipping, checking occasionally, until the skin side is very well browned.

2.  Remove chicken from the skillet.

3.  Add minced garlic and a small amount of chicken stock to de-glaze the pan and cook the garlic for about a minute. Add the remaining chicken stock (1 cup). Add half the bacon (cooked, fat should be drained off, and chopped into small chunks).

4.  Add chicken back to the pan, on top of bacon and in the chicken broth. Arrange 5 thin lemon slices around chicken thighs - and cook, simmering, covered, for about 20 minutes, until chicken is done and is no longer pink in the center.

5.  After chicken is cooked, remove it from the skillet. Remove lemon slices from the skillet - it's very important that you remove them now, do not leave them in for the sauce otherwise it will be too sour. Add 2/3 cup heavy cream to the skillet. Bring to boil and mix everything well, scraping from the bottom. Immediately reduce to simmer, add chicken thighs back to the skillet and reheat.

6.  To serve, spoon some of the sauce over the chicken thighs, and sprinkle with remaining chopped bacon and chopped green onions.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Crab Cakes

This post will  not be about Europe but I will continue with Europe next post.  This past weekend we went yurt camping in Fort Stevens.  We went with a bunch of our good friends and had an amazing weekend.  On Saturday a couple of us went out crabbing (picture below) and we were extremely successful and caught 30 crab!  They went out the day before and caught 24, so we had so much crab to share hence this post.  (And don't worry I ate lots and lots of plain crab and butter too).  Saturday we also went out mushroom hunting but it was pretty picked over and we never found a good batch, must of used up all of our luck with the crabbing.  That evening we went down to the beach and I saw some of the biggest jelly fish washed up on shore, I would say they were about the size of a manhole.  Anyway let's talk food, I adapted these crab cakes to go along with a surf and turf like meal (steak and seafood), not pictured veggies and Gorgonzola cream sauce for the steak.  I just squeezed a little lemon over the crab cakes.

Serves 2-3

The Ingredients
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons mayonnaise, preferably homemade
2 tablespoons coconut milk
6 ounces lump crab meat
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
2 teaspoons dill pickle, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons coconut flour
few grinds black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

The Process
1.  Gently combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a medium mixing bowl. Carefully shape into 4 patties; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2.  Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the crab cakes until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.

Monday, October 19, 2015

French Onion Beef Stroganoff

After Germany we spent one night in Zurich, Switzerland.  We took a double decker bus to get there and during the drive I caught a glimpse of the Swiss Alps, they were breathtaking.  When we arrived in Switzerland we were so tired because we had to be up by 4:30 am to catch our bus, but we still managed to adventure around town.  We grabbed some wine and snacks and took off.  We came upon an arboretum that just happened to be on the Zurichsee and there we sat and took in the view (pictured below).  We eventually headed back to our place and decided to go out for dinner.  We found this little Vietnamese spot  and of course I had to get some pho (pictured below) and it was delicious.  Switzerland was a very clean city and the people definitely kept to themselves but all around it was still a fun experience.  Let's talk food, I adapted this recipe last week and instead of using noodles I replaced them with broccoli and it turned out great. Also again you can see my obsession with French Onion anything continues to strengthen.  Enjoy!

Serves 5

The Ingredients
¼ cup unsalted butter
3 medium onions, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 sprig thyme
6 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1.5 lbs round steak, cut into chunks
Kosher salt and black pepper
All-purpose flour
¼ cup red wine
1½ cups beef broth
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 cups broccoli, chopped and steamed
⅔ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
4 slices of Swiss cheese

The Process
1.  Melt the butter in a large, high-walled and heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, sprig of thyme, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cook until the onions are soft and nearly caramelized, about 20 minutes.

2.  Add in the mushrooms (with a little more butter, if necessary), and saute until the mushrooms are soft and slightly browned and the onions have caramelized, about 5 more minutes. Discard the thyme and remove the onions and mushrooms to a bowl.

3.  Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high, and sprinkle the steak with salt, pepper, and flour. Saute until browned, about 3 minutes. Remove the steak and set in the bowl with the mushrooms and onions.

4.  Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Add in 1½ cups beef broth and ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and bring to a low simmer. Add back in the steak, mushrooms, and onions and let simmer, covered, until the broth reduces slightly and the steak is cooked, about 8 minutes.

5.  Remove the beef mixture from the heat and add in the ⅔ cup of sour cream, stirring well. Mix in the steamed broccoli.

6.  Top with Swiss cheese. If in a ovenproof pan, put under the broiler until cheese is melted and slightly browned. If not, leave the pan on the burner on medium-low, cover, and heat until cheese melts.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Mustard Balsamic Pork Chops with Gorgonzola Celery Salad

One of the other days we spent in Germany we traveled out to see Dachau Concentration Camp.  As you could assume this was a very intense day, we spent close to 3 hours there slowly taking in what we could.  Below are some pictures from the camp including the gate into the camp, one of the crematoriums, and the gas chambers.  It was very important to us that we sought out this part of history in order to pay respects and further understand the complexity of it all.  Once we left we really needed a pick me up and we realized we were starving so we went to this little hole in the wall pizza place.  Did you know that pizza is everywhere?  It seems like that is the one thing that every country has, and this was good pizza too.  We both got the beer pictured below and ate our pizza until we were ready to take the 40 min. train ride back to our home.  That night we decided to stay in and made our own dinner in the adorable little kitchen.  Now let's talk recipes, I made and adapted these two recipes the other night and it was such a filling and tasty meal.  I will definitely make this salad a lot, so refreshing and a good way to use up celery! Also don't mind the messy plate in this picture I forgot to wipe the edges ;)

Serves 4

The Ingredients

For pork chops:
4 pork chops
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp grainy mustard, I used Dijon 
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp dry or fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

For salad:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
6 cups celery, thinly sliced
 to taste salt and pepper

The Process
1.  Add all the pork ingredients (minus pork chops) to a bowl and whisk until the mixture begins to emulsify.

2.  Add the pork chops to the same casserole dish you'll use to bake them and pour the marinade over the pork chops. Make sure you rub all it all over them. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to overnight (I did 1 hour and they tasted great).

3.  While these are marinating make the salad.  Whisk together olive oil, Gorgonzola, vinegar and parsley in large bowl.  Add sliced celery and mix well.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Chill.

4.  When pork is done marinating preheat oven to 425 F degrees.  Remove plastic wrap from casserole dish and bake them for about 30 minutes or until done.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Coconut Lime Chicken Soup

Back to Germany, when we were there it was Oktoberfest which I was a little nervous about because the idea of it seems overwhelming but we had an amazing time.  In our first beer hall (pictures below) we meet a wonderful elderly couple whom where from Munich.  They didn't speak English that well but luckily Michael speaks some German so we were able to converse.  We ended up sitting and talking for hours, we told them we had just gotten engaged so the old man (Marcus) kept talking about life and love.  By the end we got his card which had a love poem on the back and we decided we are going to start emailing with him.  It was such a magical moment in time that I will forever treasure.  We continued to wander around Oktoberfest and saw the beautiful horses (pictured below) hauling kegs to each beer hall.  We went into 3 or 4 different beer halls and I ate some currywurst (pictured below) but the last one we went into was pretty wild.  People were up on the tables chugging entire steins and singing and dancing along.  There is a main band in every hall but in this hall the band was playing super random American music, they even played some songs from Grease (the movie).  We couldn't stop laughing it was so random, but again it was so so fun!  We wished we had more time in Germany because we wanted to go back to Oktoberfest for another full day.  Anyway here is a delicious soup that I adapted to help heal me since I've been feeling under the weather.  Perfect fall soup!

Serves 5

The Ingredients
1 15 oz can coconut milk
8 oz skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 head of bok choy, chopped
3 small pieces (about 3-5 inches long) of lemongrass stalks
5 cups chicken broth
2 serrano peppers, diced
2 tsp brown sugar
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 tbsp fish sauce
Juice from 3 limes

The Process
1.  Spray a large pot or dutch oven with olive oil, and place over medium high heat.

2.  Using the flat side of a knife, carefully smash the lemongrass stalks a bit to release some of the flavor.

3.  Add the onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and serrano peppers, and 1/4 cup of the chicken broth into the heated pot. Cook until onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

4.  Stir in the chicken and pour in remaining chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium, cover and let simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.  Remove chicken from soup and transfer a to plate.

5.  Now stir in the lime juice, brown sugar, bok choy, fish sauce, coconut milk, and cilantro. Cook for another 4-5 minutes or until the bok choy is tender. Remove lemongrass stalks before serving.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Braised Chicken with Kale and White Wine

Wow today has been a very trying day so far at work, doesn't help that I'm sick but numbers and money can really make things difficult.  Anyway let's talk about food and Europe and things that will make this day turn around!  Our next stop on our trip was Munich, Germany and it was our favorite stop!  After an early morning, a 4 hour flight, and long train ride we finally arrived at the adorable house we were staying in.  Our first mission was to go to the store and buy some food for the 4 days we were staying there but after the store we found this awesome restaurant called Franziskaner Wirtshaus und Biergarten.  Here we had an amazing meal, I had meatballs with kale and potatoes covered in a cream sauce (pictured below).  Michael got the crispy pork with gravy and potato dumplings.  We also had our first German beers here and the waiter was the best, so genuine and nice.  People often say you don't have to tip in other countries because they are not accustom to it...well that is just not true.  There were only 2 people on our whole trip that wouldn't take a tip, everyone else really really appreciated it so just keep that in mind next time you travel.  On another night we were in downtown Munich and were looking at amazing buildings like the Marienplatz (pictured below).  After exploring we ate dinner downtown at a place I can't even remember the name of but we had delicious original bratwurst and cheesy spaetzel with crispy onions (pictured below) they were both to die for.  Onto the recipe, I adapted this recipe last Friday night and it turned out delicious and perfectly saucy.

Serves 2

The Ingredients
4 chicken pieces - I used bone-in thighs
2 tbsp Hungarian paprika
kosher salt, ground pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic,  minced
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig thyme
1 large bunch kale (or more!), center rib removed, cut into 1 inch strips
2 tbsp honey
1/8 cup heavy cream

The Process
1.  Sprinkle chicken with paprika, salt, pepper and rub all over.

2.  Heat oil in your braising pan or large skillet and add chicken pieces skin side down.  Do not crowd the pan, so you may have to do this in batches.  Brown the chicken turning occasionally, until it's brown on both sides and transfer to plate. This takes about 8 minutes.

3  Add onion and garlic to pan, cook stirring often until softened, about 8 minutes.  Return chicken to pan, add broth, wine, herbs and bring to a boil.  Cover, and simmer about 30  minutes.

4.  Remove lid, stir in the kale, honey and cream, and let the sauce cook down for another 15 minutes.  Adjust seasonings with more salt and pepper.  Serve with lemon wedges.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Caramelized Onion and Bacon Smothered Pork Chops

So thankful it is Friday, it has been a very long first week back from vacation and I am exhausted.  And no I am still not caught up with all my work, hopefully by next week.  So let's get back to Iceland, we made it out to the oh so famous Blue Lagoon (pictured below) and it was beautiful and we soaked for several hours and wore our algae face masks.  One of the nights we went on a fun adventure walking round the city (wine in hand) and we came upon a big amazing church (pictured below, also photo by Michael), it was definitely one of the most break taking structures we saw in Iceland.  Oh and something else happened in Iceland...I got engaged!!!!!  Michael and I walked to this special point on the coast (about 30min) and at this point it was an amazing view, it was sunset, and there was a natural hot spring that you could dip your feet in (pictured below).  So before we settled into the hot spring he said come over here and I put my stuff down and turned around and there he was on one knee.  Of course I said yes, it was a pretty darn romantic proposal and evening.  Onto the food, I adapted this recipe Tuesday evening after a long day at work and it warmed the house and filled our bellies.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 small onions, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 pepper
4 pork chops, 2 inch thick
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream

The Process
1.  In a large saute pan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove to a bowl, reserving bacon grease.

2.  Add onions to bacon grease and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 15 to 20 minutes, until onions are soft and golden brown. Add onions to bacon in the bowl.

3.  Increase heat to medium high and sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper. Add chops to pan and brown on the first side 5 minutes. Then turn chops over and reduce heat to medium, cooking on the second side until internal temperature reaches 135F, about 7 to 10 more minutes. Remove to a platter and tent with foil.

4.  Add broth to pan and scrape up any browned bits. Add cream and simmer until mixture is thickened, 2 or 3 minutes. Return onions and bacon to pan and stir to combine.

5.  Top pork chops with onion and bacon mixture and serve.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

French Mushroom Soup

Well we made it back alive from our across the world adventure and boy was it a blast!  I don't even know where to start, perhaps I'll just do one story per post.  Let's start in Iceland (the beginning of our trip) this is where we went to the restaurant Dill and it was unbelievably amazing food.  We had 7 courses with wine pairings, as to not overwhelm you with pictures here are 3 courses we had: salted cod with parsnip, apple, and fried cod cream; and cabbage with roe and lamb sausage; tomato variations with buttermilk and yarrow (pictured below).  The atmosphere was wonderful with some folky music in the background and a calm and soothing feel in the air.  The staff were all very nice and professional as well.  Going to this restaurant was definitely one of the major highlights of our trip, it was such a romantic night and Michael actually loved the fish!  As I have mentioned before he is not a very adventurous eater so I am very happy he liked all the things he ate.  The other courses we ate (not pictured) were: carrot with smoked mayo and sol; kale with sour cream, fried onions and cheese; black radish with cream cheese and millet; beet root liver and roasted yeast; dried catfish burnt butter dill; reindeer tartar; sourdough and lamb fat butter; arctic char with butter and birch, mushrooms and fresh cheese; braised beef cheeks with wild mushrooms, new potato, and arctic thyme; burnt cake with currants and whey; and blueberry and cream, juniper and skyr.  I felt so spoiled!  Once we got back to Portland (1 week ago today) it felt like fall so I immediately wanted to make a soup.  I adapted this recipe and pretended like we were still in France.  Enjoy!

Serves 5

The Ingredients
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 cup butter, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken stock
2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
Pinch of dried thyme
1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms, I used shiitake, cremini, and portobello, trimmed and thinly sliced
Coarse salt
Juice of 1/4 lemon
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
Plain whole yogurt (dollop as a garnish, optional)

The Process
1.  Cook onions in 4 tablespoons butter in a large stockpot over medium heat until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook over low heat for 4 minutes without browning. Add the stock, blending it completely with the flour. Add the parsley and thyme, and simmer for 20 minutes.

2.  In a large skillet, heat remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the cremini and portobello mushrooms and season with salt. Cook until softened, and then add the shiitake mushrooms. Season with salt and lemon juice and cook until mushrooms are deep golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

3.  Reheat stock mixture to a simmer. Whisk the egg yolks and cream until blended. While whisking, slowly add a cupful of the hot soup into the cream mixture and add back to the soup and heat to just below a simmer (if the soup simmers, the yolks will curdle). Add the cooked mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Serve garnished with parsley and plain yogurt.