Saturday night – 06/28/2014

I listen to a number of podcasts while driving hither and yon.  Most of them have to do with cooking. As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorites is America’s Test Kitchen Radio. On a recent episode the host and test cook Dan talked about something called ‘Milk-Can Supper’. Long story short it is a one pot meal and it sounded intriguing. Basically you layer red potatoes, cabbage, corn on the cob, carrots, onion and bratwurst in a large pot and use a pale colored beer as the steaming liquid. The end result was delicious.

Since this is a true one-pot meal the menu isn’t very long.

Milk-Can Supper

Caramelized Brown Sugar Cake

Notes under the cut

Tortellini with Asparagus and Peas

I had fresh tortellini, asparagus and a desire to use both up in one dish. It was rainy out, my shoes were off and I really didn’t want to put them back on to go outside to pick any of the fresh herbs we have growing hither and yon. I wasn’t in the mood for tomatoes either. The following recipe is the result and I’m pretty darn happy with how it came out. Enjoy!

Tortellini with Asparagus and Peas
Servings: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes (plus however much longer it takes a pot of water to boil)
Total time: 35 minutes


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, 1/8″ dice
  • 1 red pepper, julienne
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into thirds
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • 1 Tbsp. Penzey’s Mural of Flavor spice blend (or see note)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb. fresh tortellini
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


  1. Fill a pot with 6 quarts of cold water and set it over high heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt and bring to a boil.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. When shimmering add the onions and peppers. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Stir to coat with oil and cook for 5 minutes. The veggies should be slightly softened.
  3. Add the garlic, stir to incorporate and cook until fragrant; 30 seconds to a minute should do it.
  4. Hopefully the pasta water is at a boil by now. If not turn off the heat under the skillet and wait until it is. When the pasta water is ready cook the tortellini per the instructions on the package. Mine took ~12 minutes, which was enough to finish the rest of the dish.
  5. Add the asparagus, peas and veggie broth. Stir and cook, uncovered, for around 5 minutes.
  6. Add the spice blend and heavy cream. Stir to incorporate. Cook for another 5 minutes or so until sauce has reduced. Check veggies for doneness. If you are happy with the texture then turn of the heat; if not then cook a little longer.
  7. Drain the tortellini, shake off excess water and return to the large pot. Add the sauce and veggies to the large pot along with the grated cheese. Stir until sauce has coated all the pasta and the cheese if well distributed.
  8. Enjoy with a bit of freshly ground black pepper (and more cheese, of course).

If I didn’t have the Mural of Flavors spice blend I’d cry. Then I’d mix together 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, 1/2 tsp. ground coriander and the zest from a lemon or orange. Finally I’d make a trip to Penzey’s to get more of the spice blend; it is that good.

I used a ‘4 cheese tortellini’ in this dish. Anything you like will probably work fine. Well maybe not Gorgonzola and anchovies tortellini, that might be a bit strong.

Saturday night – 06/14/2014

We celebrated 3 birthdays this week. I asked 2 of the birthday girls what they wanted for dinner and the answer was breakfast and applesauce. The follow-up on cake color returned blue. I contemplated potato latkes for about 3 minutes and then realized that breakfast means pancakes. Which leads us to the…

4 batches of Alton Brown’s “Instant Pancakes” with real maple syrup and “pancake” syrup
Bacon, turkey sausages and veggie breakfast patties
Watermelon, papaya, and pineapple fruit salad
Homemade Applesauce

Blue Coconut Cake

Notes under the cut

Cumin Ground Lamb with Braised Napa Cabbage

When faced with a cabbage my first instinct is to braise it. When faced with a 15″ long and 8″ diameter Napa cabbage my impulse was to braise it for Saturday night dinner. My partner in cookery suggested some lamb to go with it and his Interweb search turned up a candidate recipe. A bit of tweaking to fit other items that were part of the meal and this was the result.

[Cumin Ground Lamb and Braised Napa Cabbage]

Cumin Ground Lamb and Braised Napa Cabbage

The idea for this recipe came from this recipe at the Hot, Spicy and Skinny blog. I’ve rewritten it to include the ingredients I used and reworked the instructions. Enjoy.

Continue reading

Saturday night – 06/07/2014

I had planned on grilling up a mess of chicken drumsticks today, making some mint rice and a couple of sides. Then the regular gathering of 13 dropped to 7 as the day progressed. I stashed chicken in the freezer for another time and picked up some lamb at the grocery store. An enormous head of napa cabbage procured from Mass. Local Food took the place of the rice. The other two sides remained the same. All in all a tasty meal.

Ground Lamb with Cumin
Braised Napa Cabbage
Foil-pack Asparagus
Slow-cooker Curried Chickpeas (following this recipe)

Cherry Tart with Pecan Streusel

Notes under the cut

Baked Beans

I’ve made these several times for parties or large gatherings. They are heartier than the usual canned version with a nice dense bean.

Baked Beans
Servings: 12 to 16
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 2 hours


  • 4 28-oz. cans of small red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato puree
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 Tbsp. ground red chipotle
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper


  1. Adjust the oven racks so a large Dutch oven (with lid) will easily fit. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Add the ketchup, tomato, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire, paprika and chipotle to a bowl. Stir until the brown sugar has broken up and been well mixed into the other ingredients.
  3. Heat the oil in the Dutch oven over medium until shimmering. Add the chopped onions and a good pinch of kosher salt. Stir to coat with oil and cook for around 5 minutes. The onions should be translucent.
  4. Add the sauce mixture to the pot, stir into the onions, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the beans and incorporate. Cover pot and bake for 75 minutes.
  6. Remove the lid and cook for another 15-20 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Test seasoning for salt and pepper; adjust as desired.

For best results make this dish in advance, cool and refrigerate overnight. Reheat the next day in a slow-cooker or a 350°F oven for 30 minutes.

This recipe is roughly based on one by Dave Lieberman. I pulled the bacon to make it more vegetarian friendly though I don’t mark it as vegetarian because Worcestershire sauce is not vegetarian.

Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad

I made this as part of the menu for my husband’s birthday bash this year. It came together very quickly and was very well received.

Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad
Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes


  • 2 cups frozen roasted corn, thawed
  • 1 ping cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 avocados
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Add the thawed corn, halved tomatoes, lime zest and cilantro to a large bowl.
  2. Juice half of the lime into a smaller bowl. Halve an avocado, remove the pit, scoop out the yummy flesh and cut it into 1/4″ pieces. Toss with the lime juice and repeat for the second avocado. Add the avocado to the large bowl.
  3. Squeeze the other lime half into the larger bowl. Season with a big pinch of salt and a dozen grinds of black pepper. Stir well to incorporate.
  4. Allow to sit at room temperature for 45 minutes for the lime and cilantro to season the dish.

Tossing the avocado with the lime juice is important as it help prevent the avocado from turning brown.

Take care when mixing everything together; a heavy hand will mush the avocado into a very chunky guacamole.

I think the original recipe came from Food Network.

Ted’s Birthday Bash 2014

Yesterday, friends and family gathered to celebrate my husband’s birthday. I simplified the menu a bit more this year and relied a bit more than usual on store bought items.

Chicken Empanadas with Salsa Cream
Veggie Corn Dogs
Deviled Eggs
Onion Dip & Chips
Fritos w/Radish Slaw
Carrots and Cherry Tomatoes

Hamburgers & Hot Dogs
Veggie Burgers
Pasta, Pesto & Peas
Corn, Tomato & Avocado Salad
Baked Beans

Blueberry cupcakes
Brown Sugar Cookies w/Chocolate Chunks
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
Watermelon Cookies

Notes under the cut