Friday, December 28, 2007

Lazy Day Chicken & Dumplings

This is the recipe on which Lo bases her lazy day version of chicken & dumplings. It's a great basic slow food recipe meant for a day when you have the time to linger around the stove and enjoy the process.

That much said, we all know that Lo can't follow a recipe without tinkering -- so her chicken & dumplings are invariably different. They're almost always chocked full of veggies (broccoli, more carrots, peas);in addition, Lo adds a splash of white wine to the roux, thickens the sauce a bit more than average, and often serves the dish "pot-pie" style in individual serving dishes. So, feel free to improvise. But, try this at LEAST once in its full glory before cutting corners. It's time consuming, but well worth the effort.


{Lazy Day} Chicken and Dumplings
Tyler Florence

Creative Commons License
©BURP! Where Food Happens

Menu: Christmas Day Dinner

A bit late, perhaps. But, here's the low-down on our Christmas Day feasting.

  • Arugula salad with raspberry vinaigrette, beets, and phyllo-wrapped goat cheese slices
  • Prime rib roast
  • Porcini & bacon sauce
  • Horseradish cream sauce
  • Sauteed green beans
  • Yukon gold potato gratin (inspired by the version made at the Fog City Diner - San Francisco)
  • Wine: JC Cellars, The Imposter (2005), California

And... possibly the best part... the lovely Frozen Grand Marnier Torte with Dark Chocolate Crust and Spiced Cranberries which we paired with a bottle of Bogle Petit Syrah Port (v2005), California (incidentally, the grapes for this pressing were harvested on Lo's birthday)




Creative Commons License
©BURP! Where Food Happens

Friday, December 21, 2007

Peppermint Bark

By request... another one of our favorite recipes for the holidays. This tastes just like the peppermint bark that you can buy at Williams Sonoma.

Layered Peppermint Crunch Bark
Bon Appétit December 1998

17 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker's), finely chopped
30 red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies, coarsely crushed (about 6 ounces)
7 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons whipping cream
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract


Turn large baking sheet bottom side up. Cover securely with foil. Mark 12 x 9-inch rectangle on foil. Stir white chocolate in metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water) until chocolate is melted and smooth and candy thermometer registers 110°F. (chocolate will feel warm to touch). Remove from over water.

Pour 2/3 cup melted white chocolate onto rectangle on foil. Using icing spatula, spread chocolate to fill rectangle. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup crushed peppermints. Chill until set, about 15 minutes.
Stir bittersweet chocolate, cream and peppermint extract in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat until just melted and smooth. Cool to barely lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Pour bittersweet chocolate mixture in long lines over white chocolate rectangle. Using icing spatula, spread bittersweet chocolate in even layer. Refrigerate until very cold and firm, about 25 minutes.

Rewarm remaining white chocolate in bowl set over barely simmering water to 110°F. Working quickly, pour white chocolate over firm bittersweet chocolate layer; spread to cover. Immediately sprinkle with remaining crushed peppermints. Chill just until firm, about 20 minutes.

Lift foil with bark onto work surface; trim edges. Cut bark crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips. Using metal spatula, slide bark off foil and onto work surface. Cut each strip crosswise into 3 sections and each section diagonally into 2 triangles. (Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Chill in airtight container.) Let stand 15 minutes at room temperature before serving.


Creative Commons License
©BURP! Where Food Happens

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Chocolate Covered Cherries

We've been making chocolate covered cherries for at least nine years now. We give them as gifts around the holidays -- and everyone (it seems) loves them. We've hammered out our own special recipe, and tweaked it each year in the hopes that it would end up "just right".

Well, I'm pleased to say that, FINALLY, I think there is a method to our madness. So, we're ready to share our techniques with the world.

As you all know, there are no mysteries here in the BURP! kitchen. After all, good food is meant to be shared!

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRIES



We like to put ours in waxed paper lined cookie tins and give them as holiday gifts!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Kitchen tools we wished we owned

Our entire (albeit small) KITCHEN (along with part of our basement and a section of our spare bedroom closet) is devoted to the storage of useful kitchen tools. There was a time when we would have DENIED being gadget freaks; but, these days we are beginning to realize our obsession. Whenever a new piece of kitchen equipment (or tableware) is introduced to the household, it inspires a frenzy. Where in the WORLD are we going to put another piece of kitchen equipment??

Our lack of space, however, doesn't prevent us from dreaming...
Here's a list of a few of our latest desires (you might be surprised by the things we DON'T own):

  • The Miraculous SideSwipe Spatula Mixer Blade -- Oh, the things we could whip up effortlessly with this handy dandy gadget. It would be the perfect accompaniment to our 6-quart KA mixer!
  • The ever useful enameled cast iron Dutch Oven (we wouldn't even be snobs about the branding on this one)
  • The Tagine -- for cooking up Middle Eastern, Asian, and African specialties.
  • The Mr. Bento Lunch Jar -- oh, the feasts we could cook up and take to work if only we had two of these!
  • We definitely need a new meat thermometer (I really need to check out the Cook's Illustrated ratings on these), as our old one has seen better days.
  • Oh, yes! And a pizza peel for making Burp's seriously delicious pies.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup

We made roasted heirloom tomato soup for the first time this August (when we were inundated with lovely, garden-fresh tomatoes) -- and it blew our socks off.

Lucky for us, I made an entire batch in September to stow away in the freezer for later... and what a great idea that was! This delicious soup saved our anniversary!


Soup shown here with a delightful brie, tomato, and avocado sandwich on kalamata olive ciabatta bread.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Maple Brine for Turkey

Since the maple brined turkey is always the highlight of Thanksgiving dinners at our house, I thought I'd share.


Maple Brined Turkey

4 quarts water
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup kosher salt
3 heads garlic cloves, unpeeled
6-8 bay leaves
1 cup soy sauce
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups fresh ginger, unpeeled, chopped
2 teaspoons dried chili flakes

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
Refrigerate until cold.

To prepare turkey, remove and reserve giblets and neck from turkey. Rinse turkey with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat.

Place turkey in large stockpot. Pour cooled brine over the top. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours, turning bird occasionally.

For a crisp skin, remove bird from brine, pat dry, and place in a roasting pan overnight (uncovered). Roast as usual.

NOTES:
We like Alton Brown's roasting technique (30-40 minutes at 500ºF; then 350º for remaining time).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Day Menu

We've decided to keep Thanksgiving fairly simple this year. But, that won't stop us from doing some of our favorites -- like Lo's spinach gratin. If you're curious, here's a sneak peek at our menu (which, if you know Lo, is never REALLY set in stone). We'll be back with pictures, if we can manage that amid all the merriment.

Maple brined turkey
bacon, apple, and caramelized onion stuffing... er, dressing
roasted winter squash halves
spinach gratin
brussels sprouts & pearl onions in horseradish cream
mashed potatoes with garlic & buttermilk
Paul's dad's "famous" cranberry relish (this is the recipe with the whole oranges, if I'm not mistaken)

There will also be pumpkin praline pie, supplied by Peef's mom.
And Kris & Kris will make the event more merry by bringing the wine!

What?! Not adventurous enough for you?
Well... just stay tuned. Maybe our Christmas menu will whet your whistle!

Friday, November 2, 2007

REJECTED: Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore

We have standards here at BURP!
What that means is that we only share recipes with you that we've actually tried. It also means that we only publish recipes here on our blog that meet the BURP! stamp of approval. If we wouldn't feed it to guests at our home, we don't share it with you.

But, sometimes it's amusing to share with you some of the stories of the items that will NEVER make the BURP! menu.

Our latest attempt at Crockpot Cacciatore is one such story.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Best Vanilla Cupcakes EVER.

Hands down, one of the best vanilla cupcakes we've tried. We actually made these for Lo's sister's baby shower, and frosted them with pink vanilla buttercream frosting. Lo found the recipe on Epicurious as she was scurrying around at the last minute before the shower. It was the most serendipitous of discoveries. Simply delicious.


Amy Sedaris' Vanilla Cupcakes
from Amy Sedaris's I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence
(her commentary--which is quite hilarious--is included in italics)

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups milk

Turn oven on to 375 degrees F.
Put butter in mixer and beat at medium speed until somewhat smooth. Pour in sugar and beat well. Add 2 eggs. I like to crack the eggs on the side of the bowl while it is moving, which can be really stupid. I like to take chances. Yes, I have had to throw away my batter because I lost eggshells in the mix. Yes, it was a waste of food and yes, I know how expensive butter is, but what can I say? I'm a daredevil. Mix well. Add: vanilla, baking powder, salt, flour, and milk. Beat until it looks like it is supposed to and pour into individual baking cups, until they are about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Should produce 24 cupcakes; I get 18 because I'm doing something wrong, although my cupcakes were voted second best in the city by New York Magazine.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cabbage and Leek Gratin with Mustard Cream

This recipe is phenomenally delicious, and destinctly savory. We made a variation of it with local artisanal horseradish white cheddar and some of the perfect leeks we found at the farmer's market a couple of weeks ago. Perfect for a cool autumn evening.



Cabbage and Leek Gratin with Mustard Cream
from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thyme Scented Turkey Meatloaf

Lo is not generally a fan of meatloaf, which she sees as a glorified hamburger -- with filler. "If I want a burger," she often says, "I'll just make a burger." Therefore, meatloaf is rarely sighted on the menu here at BURP!

This recipe, from our friend Betty Rosbottom, is the oft-mentioned exception to our "no meatloaf" rule. It's tasty. And different. And nary-ever dry (thanks to the apples). See for yourself...


THYME SCENTED MEATLOAF
with Shiitake Mushroom Gravy
SERVES 4 to 6

MEAT LOAF
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
1/3 cup finely diced carrots (1/4-inch dice)
1/3 cup finely diced leeks (1/4-inch dice), white parts only
1/3 cup finely diced celery (1/4-inch dice)
1 pound ground chicken or turkey
1 ¼ cups fresh bread crumbs
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium unpeeled tart apple (such as Granny Smith), cleaned and grated
2 egg whites

To prepare meatloaf: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium, heavy let over medium-high heat. When hot, add carrots, leeks and celery saute, stirring, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Cool. Place ground chicken or turkey, bread crumbs, thyme, salt, pepper, apple and cooled sauteed vegetables in a mixing bowl and stir well to blend. Add egg whites and mix well; mixture will be quite wet. Divide in half and shape into 2 oval loaves. Spray a roasting pan generously with nonstick cooking spray and put loaves in pan. Dot loaves with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. (Meat loaves can be prepared 1 day ahead to this point; cover and refrigerate.) When ready to bake, arrange a rack at center position and preheat to 350°F. Bake meat loaves for 40 to 45 minutes, until cooked completely through. Remove and cool for 5 minutes.

FOR GRAVY
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
1 ½ cups finely chopped green onions (including 3 inches of green tops)
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems discarded, cut into l-inch strips
4 ounces white cultivated mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly through stems
Salt (to taste)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

To prepare gravy: Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a medium, heavy skillet. When hot, add green onions and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until mushrooms are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste, remove from heat and set aside. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a medium, heavy saucepan. When hot, add flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add broth and whisk until sauce is smooth and just thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in soy sauce. Stir in mushroom mixture. Taste and, if desired, add more salt. (Gravy can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate; reheat to serve) To serve meat loaves, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices and arrange on a serving platter. Ladle some mushroom gravy over slices. Pass any extra gravy separately.

From "American Favorites" by Betty Rosbottom

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Restaurant Review: Bayou

So, Bayou isn't exactly the new kid on the block anymore.
But, we managed to avoid all the hype until yesterday when we visited for Lo's birthday.

Not the BEST cajun food we've had (Fishbones in Delafield is still the clear winner in our book); but we enjoyed ourselves. And the dessert made the trip worthwhile.

Check out the review on the News From Peef & Lo blog.

Monday, October 8, 2007

White Bean and Sausage Stew

Since the weather is bound to cool down at some point, I thought I'd share a new recipe. This is something we "threw together" for dinner a couple of weeks ago -- and it turned out to be an instant autum favorite. It's a variation on the traditional cassoulet, and is PERFECT for cool temperatures. We like it with a spicy sausage and a hint of red pepper flakes, but this is a great dish for improvisation. Try Italian sausage and basil (add the basil at the end of the dish to finish) or chorizo with poblano peppers and pinto beans (serve tortillas on the side). Paired with some crusty bread, this is a fantastic one-dish meal.


Spicy Bean and Sausage Stew

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
10 oz. spicy sausage (such as andouille), sliced into rounds - we used chicken sausage
1 cup chicken broth
1 14.5-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
1 lb curly green kale, ribs removed, chopped
1 14.5 oz can white (or pinto) beans, drained and rinsed
salt
pepper
Crusty bread

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the red pepper and red pepper flakes and saute until red pepper begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes more. Add kale with about 1/2 cup of the chicken broth. Increase heat to medium-high, cover, and allow to steam for about 5 minutes (or until kale begins to wilt). Add the sausage, remaining broth, tomatoes and their juices. Allow to cook for 5-7 minutes at a simmer, allowing the juices to reduce slightly. Add beans and allow to remain on the heat until heated through. Remove from heat. Season with the salt and pepper and spoon into individual bowls.

Serve with bread.
Yield: Makes 4 servings

Thursday, October 4, 2007

EW's Black Bean Mushroom Chili

This is not an original Peef and Lo recipe (although, if you read through my notes, you'll find that we don't exactly follow the rules). But, it is a lovely thing, nonetheless. And one of our very favorite vegetarian comfort foods. The spice combo might sound unusual at first -- but, it's lovely and earthy. And entirely worth making.

It is made all-the-more-fabulous by the fact that it is a crockpot recipe, which means it can simmer all day long and supply us with a lovely meal at a fraction of the time-commitment of most BURP! meals.


MUSHROOM BLACK BEAN CHILI
Eating Well Magazine

1 pound dried black beans (2-1/2 cups), picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup mustard seeds
2 tablespoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds or ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds or ground cardamom
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 pound mushrooms, wiped clean, trimmed and sliced (4-1/2 cups)
8 ounces tomatillos, husked, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup water
5-1/2 cups mushroom broth or vegetable broth, homemade or canned
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 to 2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1-1/4 cups grated Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes, cut into wedges

Soak black beans overnight in 2 quarts water. (Alternatively, place beans and 2 quarts water in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour.) Drain beans, discarding soaking liquid.

Meanwhile, combine olive oil, mustard seeds, chili powder, cumin and cardamom in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Place over high heat and stir until the spices sizzle, about 30 seconds. Add onions, mushrooms, tomatillos and 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are juicy, 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover and stir often until the juices evaporate and the vegetables are lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Add broth, tomato paste and chipotles (with sauce). Mix well.

Place the beans in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Pour the hot mixture over the beans. Turn heat to high. Put the lid on and cook until the beans are creamy to bite, 5 to 8 hours.

To serve, ladle the chili into bowls. Garnish each serving with cheese, a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cilantro. Pass lime wedges at the table.

Yield: 10 servings, generous 1 cup each.

LO NOTES:


  1. This never fits in my 5-quart slow cooker... so be sure to use a 6 quart.

  2. We tend NOT to use low-fat dairy products

  3. We like thick chili (and beans), so we tend to add MORE black beans than are called for (and only about 32 oz of mushroom broth, rather than the recommended)

  4. We almost always use 2-3 cups of tomatillo sauce in lieu of the fresh tomatillos.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Cupcakes - the obsession

OK -- I'm inspired. By a company who does a phenomenal job of making truly creative (and apparently tasty) cupcakes. Whiskie Bits Bakeshop.

Whiskie Bits is a one-woman dealio, if I'm not mistaken. So, her creations are truly impressive. Just check out her site and tell me you don't agree.... mochamisu cupcakes, anyone? And they're PRETTY too!

Some of you might know that Peef and Lo have been obsessed with cupcakes for quite a while now. And that we baked up a veritable FEAST of cupcakes for our niece's birthday just last year.

Now, it appears, we have more food for thought.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Stout Floats - Take TWO

Admittedly, our first try at stout floats was a bit disappointing. But, we're not the sort of people who give up easily. So, we decided to try them out again -- this time with a bit of improvisation. Basing this version on what we know about Irish "car bombs" -- as well as the taste memory of something we sampled recently in a local restaurant -- we came up with the following recipe.

Peef and Lo's Car Bombs

Slow Roasted Pork with Melted Apples

I had to share this fantastic recipe, which we made to share with friends over the weekend. It's a lovely, fall-apart roast, with an exceptionally flavorful marinade. I would cut down on the salt the next time I make this; but, otherwise, it's exceptional. And perfect for an autumn meal.

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Melted Apples

Monday, September 17, 2007

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup


What better idea for the hoards of heirlooms we harvested from the garden?

This is a LOVELY soup. Recommended by a friend, and one of the best I've tried in years.

Roasted Tomato Soup
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (mix of fresh heirlooms, cherry, vine and plum tomatoes)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 small yellow onions, sliced
Vine cherry tomatoes for garnish, optional
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I did use less oil here)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 quart chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, optional
3/4 cup heavy cream, optional

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Wash, core and cut the tomatoes into halves. Spread the tomatoes, garlic cloves and onions onto a baking tray. If using vine cherry tomatoes for garnish, add them as well, leaving them whole and on the vine. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until caramelized.

Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot (set aside the roasted vine tomatoes for later). Add 3/4 of the chicken stock, bay leaves, and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third.

Wash and dry basil leaves, if using, and add to the pot. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Return soup to low heat, add cream and adjust consistency with remaining chicken stock, if necessary. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish in bowl with 3 or 4 roasted vine cherry tomatoes and a splash of heavy cream.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tormented Eggplant

So, I thought I'd come back to share the beloved "tormented eggplant" recipe, since so many of you have commented to me that it sounds so good.

It definitely takes a bit of effort at the outset -- but it is SO worth it.
I love the recipe even more because it comes from a guy by the name of Biker Billy. Gotta love that, right?


Tormented Eggplant: A fiery recipe for your summer barbecue
Your riding buddies will be quite surprised by these barbecued devils. Sitting on your grill, they look like whole, plain eggplant, no thrills there. But when you remove them from the grill and slice 'em open, oh boy, it's party time! The sharp tang of the jalapeños blends wonderfully with the earthy tones of the sun-dried tomatoes. The process of slowly roasting on the grill allows the eggplant to become infused with all those great flavors.

Sliced crosswise, 1/2 to 1 inch thick, these Tormented Eggplants make the perfect centerpiece for a plate of grilled vegetables, or a welcome side dish with any pasta or Italian-style main course. I also enjoy making sandwiches with them. However, when you serve them, the only torment will be deciding who gets the last serving.

You can prepare them the day before you grill them.

2 medium-sized eggplants
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 medium-sized onion, diced
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, minced
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
5 to 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
Toothpicks for securing

Cut the blossom end (opposite to the stem end) off each eggplant. (It is best to cut inwards at an angle, so that the end, when it is removed, resembles a cone. This will help the open end seal better after the eggplant is stuffed.) Using a long, thin sharp knife, carve out most of the flesh from inside each eggplant. Be careful to leave the skins intact (and unpunctured), with a 1/2-inch-think layer of flesh still attached. These hollowed eggplants form "shells" that will be stuffed later. Set the shells aside and coarsely chop the scooped-out flesh.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the jalapeño peppers, onion, and sun-dried tomatoes and cook until the onion begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, black pepper, oregano, and the chopped eggplant and cook until the eggplant is tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. And the basil and mozzarella cheese and toss together.

Stuff each eggplant shell with the filling. Close the eggplants by replacing the ends, using the toothpicks to hold them in place. Place on a hot grill and adjust the distance from the fire to ensure slow roasting (turning often to expose all sides to the flame) until the eggplant is tender on all side, 30 minutes.

Cut the roasted eggplant crosswise into thick slices and serve them immediately, remembering to remove the toothpicks.

From Biker Billy's Freeway-a-Fire Cookbook

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Grill Fest 2007 In Pictures

Some images from Grill Fest 2007
Prepping for Tormented Eggplant

Tormented Eggplant - the final product


Perfectly Grilled Sweet Corn

Garlic Lime Shrimp with Dip

Happy, Satiated People (eating coconut-lime sours)


Grill Fest 2007

And now, what you've all been waiting for ... a glimpse of Grill Fest 2007. Grill Fest is one of our favorite summer traditions. Each Labor Day weekend (or thereabouts) we get together with friends and create an incredible season meal.

This year's grill fest was a veritable local feast (with a few obvious exceptions... can you say shrimp? and coconut?).

What was on the menu?
  1. "Damn hot" peppers
  2. Lime & garlic marinated shrimp with horseradish cilantro dip
  3. Goat cheese stuffed tomatoes
  4. Rustic grilled garlic toasts
  5. "Tormented" eggplant (eggplant stuffed with sundried tomatoes, garlic, jalapenos, and other goodies)
  6. Grilled corn on the cob with herbed compound butter
  7. coconut-lime sours

Aren't you just drooling already?

I'll be back with pictures in just a bit!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Life at Burp

So, inspiring dinners have been pretty rare at our house lately. We've been tangled up in automobile dealings (see our latest scrape and subsequent fix on the News from Peef and Lo blog) and haven't really spent much time cooking.

However, we have been doing a bit of thinking about what BURP! might look like... if it actually existed.

In a conversation over sandwiches and salad the other evening, we decided that a "salad and sandwich night" would probably be a summer fixture at BURP! Even in the winter months, we could pilot a more warming "soup and sammie" night.

To give credit where credit is due, we've been fond of the "soup and sandwich" concept for quite a while. It all started with a sandwich book we ran across, written by Nancy Silverton. She talks about a successful sandwich night in that book... and it always seemed to really fit into the BURP! branding concept.

The BURP! concept has evolved pretty steadily over the years. It has gone from dirty, hippie coffee joint... to semi-upscale trendy spot... to down-home oasis... to its current incarnation -- something that embraces aspects of ALL of the above. Whenever we're cooking, we're considering whether or not the food we're making fits into the BURP! concept. Some days it does; some days it doesn't. What we share here are versions of our favorites that we think might do justice to the BURP! menu.

So, what IS BURP! these days?
Well -- BURP! is that spot where everyone loves to go to dinner. It's the place you go to feel comfortable when dining alone; but, it's also a spot where you can hang with a group of good friends. BURP! will never be the spot to "see and be seen"... because we're not really about appearances here. We just want everyone to feel at home.

So, come hungry. We're waiting on you. ;)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fish Tacos

Peef and Lo's Favorite Fish Tacos

So, having been inspired by stories of San Diego fish tacos, and lured in by the lovely treats sampled at area Mexican restaurants, Peef and Lo decided that they'd experiment with their own (local) creation. The contrast between the cold, crunchy slaw and the perfectly cooked fish is a real winner. This particular version is now one of their favorite ways to eat fish.



FISH
2 filets of firm white fleshed fish (we like catfish, although these tacos were made with locally raised trout)
cajun seasoning (or a mix of salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and thyme)
2 T virgin coconut oil

SLAW
2 cups shredded red or green cabbage
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped finely
a splash of lime juice
1 tsp honey

tortillas (we usually use hand-made whole wheat tortillas)

GARNISH
guacamole (one of our favorites)
salsa (salsa verde is fantastic)
sour cream

Rinse fish and pat dry. Season well with cajun seasonings and allow to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes.

Mix mayonnaise with chipotles, lime juice, and honey. Toss with cabbage. Set aside.

Heat oil in cast iron (or other heavy weight) skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish filets, and turn heat down to medium. Cook 3-6 minutes per side, depending upon the thickness of the fish.

Heat tortillas to soften. Layer fish, slaw, guacamole, salsa and/or sour cream in each tortilla.
Take a deep breath -- and enjoy.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Our Summer Favorite: Bleu Cheese BLT's

Bleu Cheese BLT
makes one very local sammich

2 slices locally produced whole grain bread
2 T mayonnaise (we forgive you if this is not local, as it is a condiment)
1 tsp minced garlic (or less, or more)
3 T crumbled local artisanal bleu cheese
1 T finely chopped basil leaves (from the back yard)
2-3 tsp balsamic vinaigrette (made from balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a spot of basil)
1/2 cup baby arugula leaves -- strewn carelessly about
3-4 slices heirloom tomato (also from the back yard)
3 pieces of thick-cut bacon (taken gently from a nearby pig and cooked until crisp)

Mix crumbled bleu cheese with mayonnaise, garlic, and basil. Set aside. Toss arugula with balsamic vinaigrette. Set aside next to the mayo mixture. Allow them to have a short conversation before rudely separating them.

Take your two slices of bread and slather them liberally with the delicious (if slighly upset) mayonnaise mixture. Lay your scrumptious slices of tomato atop the mayo... and your crisped bacon atop the tomato. Strew the arugula (a bit more carefully this time) over the bacon, trapping it underneath the second slice of bread.

If you are polite, you'll want to cut your sammich in half.
If you are Peef, you will bit into it and let it drip down your arms.

Enjoy.

Restaurant Review: Maxie's

OK -- the Bad Bloggers are back.
And it's time for the "it's about time cuz you ate there almost a week ago" restaurant review.
If you have been wondering how Maxie's holds up to the palates at Burp! you can now rest easy.

We give it 2 out of 4 burps.

What does that mean?
Well, let's start with the appetizer: the heirloom tomato salad with goat cheese.
This dish held up relatively well, considering its relatively steep price tag. The tomatoes, perfectly ripe and juicy, and sliced to perfection, wreaked of summer. The fact that they were local heirlooms was an added bonus. They were splashed with a slightly tangy balsamic vinaigrette, which helped to bring out their sweetness, and accompanied with a pleasantly tangy (and "goaty") chevre. *slurp* The app earned at least 1/2 a burp all by itself.

Our entrees didn't quite live up to all of the hype.
The first thing we noted is that it took an unusually long period of time for them to compose our dinner plates. Peef ordered one of the specials -- the St. Louis style ribs, which (while tasty) were crisped to an almost charred blackness on one side. The ribs were almost redeemed by their accompanying sides -- crisped french fries, a lovely arugula salad with fresh sweet corn and a small bowl of delectable cajun baked beans (which packed quite a punch of flavor).

Lo's fried oyster po'boy fared a bit better. In fact, of all the dinners, the sandwich platter won our vote for best choice. The oysters, crisped to perfection, seemed a bit bland on their own. But, when paired with the zest of the cajun mayonnaise and a bit of crunch from a leaf or two of fresh lettuce, they made a fine sandwich. The "cajun fries" turned out to be nothing more than waffle fries embellished with a bit of cajun seasoning; but they were crisp and perfect when dunked in a bit of ketchup and chipotle tabasco sauce. What made the sandwich platter unique were the homemade refrigerator pickles -- which were a pleasant cross between a sweet pickle and something more tangy. These would have been great placed right ON the sandwich; but, they were equally lovely eaten right out of hand.

Our dinner companion (Lo's dad) ordered crab cakes, which were served with a generous portion of sweet potato fries ("different" -- but "like dessert for dinner" he declared) and a lovely mound of bleu cheese coleslaw (which didn't thrill his palate -- he doesn't like blue cheese--but which Lo thought was nicely balanced and a pleasant departure from the "usual" slaw). Again, the sides overshadowed the main dish (two over-crisped crab cakes) and left us all feeling as if seafood really were something better ordered on the East Coast, rather than in Milwaukee.

The factor that made us decide that the trip was ALL worthwhile turned out to be dessert. The three of us sampled TWO of the offerings -- the key lime pie and the bourbon peach tart -- both of which left us smacking our lips with delight. The key lime was "too tart" at the start, but the flavor mellowed out into limey bliss as it mixed with the pleasant crunch of the graham cracker crust. The peach tart tasted home-baked, with a slightly too-thick crust and a filling of fresh bourbon-soaked peaches, caramelized in a hot oven. The desserts were capped off with cups of genuinely fabulous coffee, which left us lingering at the table long after we declared ourselves "too full to move".

We'll give Maxie's another chance to earn another burp... maybe for dinner, but more likely for lunch when we can sample more of the sandwich menu. And we'll definitely be back for more dessert (and coffee).

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Coming Soon... A restaurant review!

We've been out on the town (at least once in the past week)!
And we have sampled the delectables at a new local restaurant.
Check out MAXIE'S (which, unbeknownst to us, turns out to be a "second generation restaurant concept"...er, a chain?)

In their own words: "Maxie's Southern Comfort opened its doors on May 5th, 2007, serving Southern Inspired “from-scratch” cooking."

Between three of us, we managed to sample a number of items -- an heirloom tomato salad with goat cheese, St. Louis style ribs, a crabcake platter, and the fried oyster po'boy sandwich. We also tried their key lime pie and a slice of bourbon peach tart.

We'll be back with our review of the place when we get a spare moment!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Pastitsio


We were inspired by the bounty of eggplant this week -- a few Japanese varieties from our CSA, as well as an Udalumpet and a Florida Highbush from our own garden. So, we decided to make a Greek-inspired main dish casserole. For those of you who can appreciate moussaka, this will be a real treat (it's what inspired the dish -- so its resemblance is no accident). Vegetarians can add zucchini and tofu crumbles in place of the lamb for a vegetarian main dish (we'll do that another day, for sure!).

Pastitsio
This Greek pasta dish is reminiscent of moussaka
Serves 6-8
INGREDIENTS:
2 T olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T + 1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 T dried oregano ( 2 T fresh, chopped)
Black pepper
Salt
¼ cup Italian flatleaf parsley, chopped
28 oz tomatoes, in their own juices
1 lb ground lamb
1 cup red wine
6 T olive oil
6 cups eggplant, cubed (2 medium)
1 medium red pepper, chopped

CUSTARD:
2 cups milk
½ stick butter (2 oz)
3 small garlic cloves
¼ cup flour
¼ cup feta, crumbled
1 cup Gruyere (Swiss) cheese, grated
¾ cup cottage cheese, drained for 20 minutes
1 tsp nutmeg, ground
5 large eggs

8 oz penne (or other tubular pasta), preferably whole wheat
½ cup dried bread crumbs

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft (about 5-6 minutes). Add ground lamb. Cook until lightly browned. Add red wine and boil until reduced by ½. Add tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minuites. Add cinnamon, allspice, oregano, pepper, salt, and parsley. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until almost all liquid is evaporated.

While sauce is simmering, heat 3 T olive oil in large skillet. Saute eggplant until golden brown, in batches, until all is cooked. Drain on paper towels. Saute red pepper until tender. Set eggplant and pepper aside.

Mix feta, gruyere, and cottage cheese together with nutmeg. Set aside.
Beat eggs with whisk until light yellow and frothy.
Preheat oven to 350ºF

Melt butter with garlic over medium heat. When melted, add flour and stir until golden, about 2 minutes. Add milk ½ cup at a time, stirring until combined after each addition. Bring to a boil. Take off heat. Add cheese to milk mixture. Stir until cheese is melted. Add 1/3 egg mixture to milk mixture. Whisk until incorporated. Then, add remainder of egg mixture. Stir to combine.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; mix pasta with lamb mixture.

Grease 9x13 baking pan or casserole dish. Add ½ eggplant mixture to pan. Pour lamb/pasta mixture over top. Layer rest of eggplant over top of lamb mixture. Pour egg/milk/cheese mixture over top. Top with bread crumbs.

Bake at 350º for 50-60 minutes, or until custard is set. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.




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Monday, July 16, 2007

Stout Floats

So, we were feeling ambitious after dinner on Friday night. We'd just stuffed our bellies full of delicious grilled Copper River King salmon, creamed spinach, and buttermilk mashed potatoes. But there was still room for a bit of something sweet. Why not make a beer float?

We had a bit of vanilla porter on hand, so we subbed that in for the stout in the recipe. Which seemed like a fairly good idea (vanilla - blackberry - icecream... yum). However, our initial reactions to the bitter-sweet-cool treat was a bit of a mixed bag. No, they didn't blow us out of the water. But they didn't gross us out either. The sweetness of the blackberry brandy and icecream was a very nice contrast for the bitterness of the beer. In fact, the combination seemed to have REAL possibilities.

So, we plan to try them again. This time, with a coffee or chocolate stout.

If you're looking for something truly unique, you've got to try one of these.

Stout Floats
Gourmet, June 2007


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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Brilliant Beet Risotto

Before I share the recipe for one of the more lovely risottos I've ever made, I have to admit that I was inspired by a six-year old.

It's true. The August 2007 Food & Wine magazine featured a number of prodigious child chefs. One of them, little Alex Donowitz, bowled me over. Not only with his crazy hair (so cute). But also with his thoughts about beets.
Alexander Donowitz, who's been a vegetarian for all of his six years, combined two of his favorite ingredients—beets ("because red is my favorite color")and cheddar cheese—to create this super-creamy, vibrant risotto. "I think I'm the only kid in my class who eats beets," he says. (FOOD &
WINE
)
I loved the idea of putting the raw beets in the food processor so that they could cook right along with the risotto, and I was very intrigued by the cheddar/beet combination. But I'm hopeless at actually following a recipe. So, of course, something had to change. I had to "up" the beet quotient (cuz that's what I do). Risotto MUST have garlic at our house. And we added a bit of horseradish to act as a foil for the sweetness of the beets, and we subbed a locally produced horseradish cheddar to give it a bit of additional kick. It turned out to be a truly fantastic combination -- one that is sure to become a classic at BURP!

Brilliant Beet Risotto


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Monday, July 9, 2007

July CSA Dinner

So, Saturday night we celebrated the BEAUTY and bliss of fresh produce.
How so? you might ask.
By having a CSA dinner with our friends S & N, of course.

This tradition began two springs ago when we took a first big step toward "locavorishness" by subscribing to our local CSA. Rather than tackling an entire box of veggies on our own (which leaves us room in the fridge for gardening and farmers' marketing and such), we decided to split our share with Steph & Nate.

When Steph suggested that we consider hosting celebratory meals with our bounty, we all thought it was a brilliant plan. After all, what could be better than feasting on farm-fresh produce (some of which is literally HOURS from its harvest) with good friends? We couldn't think of much. And so, the CSA dinner was born.

Our first dinner this CSA season consisted of a great salad, fantastic fresh mozzarella skewers with rosemary, beet raita with pita chips, and a fantastic rhubarb crisp for dessert.

Saturday's feast was a bit less "on" insofar as sticking to our CSA box, but it was still pretty decent:


  • Grilled catfish tacos
  • Guacamole
  • Pineapple salsa
  • Chipotle coleslaw (for the fish tacos) -- made with crisp red cabbage
  • Chile-lime marinated yellow squash
  • Grilled corn on the cob
  • Cuban Sidecars (for refreshment)
  • Dessert: Bayless' chocolate pecan pie bars

OK -- so the corn idea might have been a bit premature. And pineapple and avocadoes are pretty far from being "local" fare. But, really, everything was pretty fresh. And really quite fabulous. Despite the (somewhat oppressive heat), we sat outside in the yard, basking in the evening breeze and just enjoying our time together.

And isn't that what it's all about anyhow?




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Friday, June 29, 2007

Caramelized Onion and Poblano Enchiladas

I was in a sharing mood today, so I thought I'd drop by and offer up another recipe. I just typed this one up for a friend, and thought it warranted a posting. This recipe isn't anything new from our repertoire. But it is a recipe that we come back to, time and time again. Everyone who samples these enchiladas loves them. And they appeal as well to the carnivorous crowd as they do to veggie lovers.

Caramelized Onion and Poblano Enchiladas
Inspired by a recipe by Jack Bishop
Serving Size: 4 as a main course

FILLING AND TORTILLAS:
1 tablespoon canola or corn oil
1 pound onions (about 3 medium) -- halved and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese –- shredded (about 2 cups)
4 oz. Neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese)
3 poblano peppers
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves -- chopped
10 6-inch corn tortillas
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

1 can/jar of your favorite enchilada/red sauce

Preheat the broiler. Place poblano peppers on a cookie sheet and place about 4 inches beneath the broiler. Allow all sides of the poblano skins to blister and blacken, turning about every 7 minutes or so. When poblanos are well spotted, put them in a brown lunch bag and allow them to sit for about 10 minutes. When poblanos have cooled slightly, peel the skin from each, running under water as necessary to remove blackened bits. Slice open and remove stem and seeds. Slice into thin ribbons.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions, sugar and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to brown slightly, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring often, until the onions are browned deeply and very soft, about 15 minutes. Scrape the onions into a medium bowl, add the cream cheese, mix thoroughly, and allow to cool. When mixture is close to room temperature, add the sliced poblanos, about half of the cheese and the cilantro to the bowl with the onions and toss to combine.

Move the oven racks to the lower-middle and the upper-middle positions and heat the oven to 300°F. Divide the tortillas among 2 large rimmed baking sheets and generously spray both sides of each tortilla with cooking spray. Bake the tortillas for 3 minutes, or until pliable to roll easily. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 400°F.

Spread half of the chile sauce evenly across the bottom of a 13" x 9" glass or ceramic baking dish. Arrange the heated tortillas on a work surface. Working with one tortilla at a time, spoon about ¼ cup of the onion filling across the center of the tortilla. Roll up the tortilla very tightly (the ends will be open) and place it seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.

Spoon the remaining sauce over the filled tortillas, making sure the sauce coats each tortilla from end to end. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup (2 ounces) of cheese over the filled tortillas. Cover the baking dish with foil and place it on the upper-middle rack of the oven. Bake until the enchiladas are hot, about 20 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and uncover the pan. Serve.

We love this served with some freshly made guacamole and sour cream.


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Friday, June 22, 2007

Lamb burgers with succulent fresh figs

So, we've been busy here in the kitchen of BURP!

It all started with a trip to the grocery store on Monday, when we spied the first fresh mission figs of the season. The deep purple beauties were absolutely perfect -- ripe and succulent, with little sign of bruising. This is a relative rarity here in Wisconsin -- which is far from the growing regions of the fabulous fig. So, we were enthralled, and decided that we HAD to buy them. Lo remembered something about a lamb recipe she'd run across that used fresh figs, so we picked up a pound of ground lamb as well -- figuring we'd put our heads together and think of something for dinner that evening.

After much discussion, Peef and Lo decided to make lamb burgers. What to do with the figs? Well, why not chop them finely and add them to the patties? Despite any of the trepidation we first felt about the fruit/meat combo, it turned out that this was a brilliant plan.

These babies are our favorite lamb burgers so far! They are juicy and flavorful. And the figs, paired with a bit of bleu cheese, provide a great sweet-salty contrast that takes them over the top. YUM.

Lamb burgers with fresh figs
1 lb ground lamb
1 tsp ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt black pepper - to taste
splash of balsamic vinegar
4-5 fresh figs, chopped

crusty rolls
bleu cheese (we used buttermilk bleu)

Combine all but figs in a medium bowl and work lamb with your hands to combine. Add the figs and mix gently until well incorporated. Form ground lamb into four patties, and allow to sit at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes.

Heat grill pan or charcoal grill to medium-high. Grill burgers for 4-5 minutes/side (medium to medium rare) -- or until cooked to your liking.

Serve burgers on a nice, crusty roll topped with crumbled bleu cheese.


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Friday, June 8, 2007

The Story of Burp! The Imaginary Restaurant

So, how does the notion of an imaginary restaurant get started?
Well... the idea has been percolating for a long, long, time.

For as long as we can recall, Peef has wanted his own coffee shop. Throughout high school, he collected ashtrays and coffee cups as preparation for his grande plan — a wild, bohemian place filled with black coffee and beautiful women. A place of beat poets and jam sessions. A dirty little corner affair that stayed open late in the evening and catered to an artsy fartsy college crowd. But alas, the days of the coffee house grew tired. And the Seattle coffee craze became a trend of the past. And Paul gave up his cappuccino dreams ...

BUT THEN, in the spring of 2003, a restaurant went up for sale in Peef and Lo's neighborhood. Peef's eyes lit up in dayglow, and he began to chatter endlessly about the possibilities. They would quit their jobs. And start a restaurant. It would be fabulous.

As he put it to Lo — “It would be SO cool. We could have a restaurant SLASH coffee and jazz bar. During the week we would just serve appetizers and drinks and coffee. And we’d feature little live quartets and ensembles for entertainment. And on weekends, we would have a full-blown gourmet menu.”

He even started analyzing our daily meals — to see which of the entrees might be WORTHY to appear on the regular menu. The turkey-apple meatloaf that Lo discovered one night made it onto the menu. As did the fried calimari with aioli from New Year’s Eve. Lo’s “Mexican” tiramisu (served in oversized coffee cups) also made a big impression.

THEN came the discussion of NAMING the place. Peef and Lo went through any number of names before deciding on something very simple… “How about BURP! ?” The name evoked a sense of dietary satisfaction. It was a bit rough — but definitely not too derogatory. And it definitely didn’t make the place sound stuffy.

We could establish BURP! as a place for GOOD food, GOOD times, and free thinking. It was an excellent plan. And best of all — we could use the visage of a BABY for our namesake. It would be cute. Hip. And very cute.

So -- to make a long story short, the idea of BURP! really came up as kind of a joke — a random musing on a dull night. But somehow, the dream has stuck. And it won’t go away. So, I guess we’re somewhat obligated to cultivate it.

The way we have it figured, staying home and thinking about menu items will keep us from any number of other self-deprecating activities. It’s kind of like our anti-drug, so to speak. So, I think there could be a real future in this pastime.

I mean, come on — an imaginary restaurant. There are weirder things…. Right?

Ultimately, we're just two hopeless food geeks who harbor a genuine love for delicious (sustainable) edibles. We're not fancy, or fussy. But, we do love to create new and wonderful things in the kitchen. We keep the dream of BURP! alive through daily experimentation, and we share our successes (and failures) with you.

Email us at peefandlo(at)sbcglobal(dot)net

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