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.