Thursday, December 30, 2010

Retrospectacle: Random Things From Burp! 2010

Seems that, around this time of the year, people get obsessed with lists. Even those not usually prone to organization start creating them.

There are best lists ... and worst lists... to do lists... and lists of new year's resolutions.
There are awesome lists... mediocre lists... and some pretty bad lists...
And then there are the lists written by our friend Sonja, which are bound to make you laugh. Or at least smirk a little bit. 

The truth is, we were feeling the pressure to make up a little list of our own to bid farewell to the year 2010.  And so, here it is.  It's wacky. And random.  But, it pretty much sums things up.

Random Things From Burp! 2010

Most popular post in our 2010 Summer Herb SeriesDill (written by Amy from Very Culinary)
Most interesting burger of the year:  Teriyaki Chicken Burgers with Macadamia Nut Butter
Best New Ice Cream Recipe:  Malted Milk Ice Cream
Most Popular Post From our Summer Canning Adventures:  Candied Jalapeno Peppers
Recipe Most Likely to Make Us Fat: Pork Belly with Cracklings

And now... here's to a Very Happy 2011!

As we raise our glasses of champagne to ring in the New Year -- bellies full, and hearts overflowing with the emotion of starting anew -- we want you to know that we'll be thinking of you!  

Our year has been made more complete thanks to each one of you... your smiles, your well wishes, your laughter, your comments, and your emails made each and every day of 2010 truly special.  And, as we wrap up our year, we shall look forward with anticipation to 2011 -- and another great year of inspiration, celebration, and great eating.

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©BURP! Where Food Happens
Want more? Read Lo's latest ruminations at FOODCrush, her Milwaukee Magazine blog.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Roasted Porcini Chicken: They Call Me Mimi

Lo: How about Porcini chicken for dinner tonight?
Peef: You want to make a Puccini chicken?
Lo: NO -- PORCINI chicken.
Peef: Oh, ok. Can we call the chicken Mimi?
Lo: What?! Um... no.  Besides, I don't like to name my food, remember?
Peef: Oh, yeah.

(After some time)

Peef: Is it ok if I call her Mimi?
Lo: Do what you must, just keep it to yourself.
Peef (Out loud): Come here, little Mimi, let me get my hands under your skin.
Lo (now disgusted): PEEF! Enough!

This scenerio may or may not have actually taken place in the Burp! kitchen.  Nonetheless, we like the idea of a little opera singing chicken named Mimi.

For those completely lacking in knowlege of opera trivia, Puccini (a pretty famous opera composer) just happened to have a little opera by the name of La Boheme.  It wasn't exactly about a chicken. But, well, you'll forgive us for our imagination, won't you?

The fact is, there is a character in La Boheme whose name is Mimi... well, Lucia, but people call her Mimi. And Mimi is just lovely (much like this chicken recipe).

If you're in the mood for a bit of culture while we're cooking, here's a snippet of the wonderful and talented Maria Callas singing Mi Chiamano Mimi.

 Italian not so good?
Well,  that's not a problem. The gist is that Mimi just met her neighbor, Rodolfo, who happens to be a writer. They are attracted to each other and she sings him this aria which mentions something about living alone and making these beautiful fake roses.  They don't smell pretty, but she likes them, and she adores April kisses and, conveniently, she also likes poetry. By the end of her aria, Mimi & Rodolfo end up being quite enamored of one another.

And that's your music lesson for the day. And it serves a dual purpose because you can totally picture Peef as Rodolfo -- thinking his chicken named Mimi is pretty innocent and cute, right?

The fact is, we love a good roasted chicken. This one happens to be full of flavor -- thanks to the simple magic of something called "porcini dust," which just happens to be dried porcini mushrooms ground into a fine powder with a coffee grinder.

The porcini powder is mixed with fresh garlic, white wine, salt, and a bit of olive oil, and then spread between the skin and the meat of the chicken. 

Earthy and garlicky, this chicken is completely & amazingly delicious.  And, although it makes wonderful use of the rich, deep flavor of porcini mushrooms, it does so judiciously, so it won't completely break the bank.
The recipe gets even better when you choose to cook the chicken in the same pan with halved new potatoes and quartered turnips.  The vegetables caramelize nicely and they absorb plenty of the earthy flavor from the porcini mushrooms, along with that deliciously savory chicken flavor.

Perfect for company.  Just pair with a green salad and a bit of crusty bread.

Porcini Roasted Chicken

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©BURP! Where Food Happens
Want more? Read Lo's latest ruminations at FOODCrush, her Milwaukee Magazine blog.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sloppy Lentils: Crockpot Staple

Is anyone else struggling to be inspired in the kitchen?

If not -- well, maybe you don't want to waste your time on this time-saving post.

If yes -- then please read on.

Seems to me that all of our energy during the month of December is sucked up by holiday preparations, decorating, and gift shopping.  If I spend any of my creative energies on cooking, it's pointed in the direction of our annual holiday feasting -- not everyday weeknight dinner fare.

But, I'm making peace with that reality.  

This week, life sent us -- not lemons -- but a bag of lentils from the Indian grocer. So with that, my friends, we made.... sloppy lentils.

A vegetarian riff on everyone's favorite comfort food sandwich, the sloppy joe, sloppy lentils is absolutely brimming with deliciously healthy vegetables (just look at all those delicious pieces of carrot and onion poking out from beneath the lentils).

Best of all, you can whip up this dish in the blink of an eyeball. Even on a weeknight.

You will really like this idea if you answer "TRUE" to two or more of the following statements:
1) You are preoccupied with more important activities than cooking (sad but true).
2) You own a crockpot.
3) You are not allergic to legumes.
4) It's cold outside and you're looking for something warm and filling to eat.

Even better than the fact that this can be made in a crockpot, it can also be made ahead.  Because it just so happens that this dish tastes even better the next day.  And even the next.  So, make up a whole vat of it.  You may not need to make dinner again for a whole week ;)

Sloppy Lentils

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Korean Pork Belly Fries: Crazy Delicious Fusion

I'm still musing about that lusciously tender pork belly, the last of which ended up in a batch of fried rice the other night for dinner. But, I also can't stop thinking about the Korean pork belly fries we made with that first round of succulent meat.
It started with an article I read about Chicago's Del Seoul restaurant, located in Lincoln Park, which presents a delicious jumble of Asian inspired fusion cuisine -- cross-cultural tacos, banh mi sandwiches, dumplings, and a variety of not-so-traditional riffs on traditional Asian fare.

One thing on their menu that caught our attention right away were the "Kimchi fries" -- thick hand-cut fries topped with sautéed kimchi and onions, kimchi salsa, thin slices of pork and topped with melted cheddar and Jack cheeses, sour cream, and scallions.

When I mentioned the idea of making these "meal worthy" fries for Thanksgiving, Peef looked at me earnestly, a small tear developing in the corner of his eye, and replied, "Yes, please."

From there, the game was ON.

We started a few days early to give ourselves time to put together a homemade batch of Korean kimchi. Following the wisdom of a variety of recipes, we decided upon a simple version of the classic -- featuring locally grown Napa cabbage and gorgeous fuschia-flecked Beauty Heart radishes.
By the time Thanksgiving arrived, our kimchi was bubbling along nicely and it was time to think about making up a kimchi salsa. We kept things simple by putting together a few diced Campari tomatoes (not local, but as good as we'll find this time of the year in Wisconsin), about 1/2 cup of finely diced kimchi, a small handful of chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. The salsa was fresh and spicy with a pleasantly vinegary/limey kick and a LOT of flavor. This salsa would be great with tortilla chips or on fish tacos.
We also sliced up an onion and sauteed it with about 1/2 cup of the kimchi. To that mixture, we added some of the roasted pork belly and set the mixture aside.
And then it was time to make fries. We cut our potatoes (skin-on) into medium sized fries, rinsed them and soaked them in ice water for a few hours, and then gave them a double fry at 375 F -- first for about 10 minutes, and then 2-3 minutes for the second phase.
And finally... we covered those steaming hot, crispy fries with the sauteed kimchi & onions and some shredded Monterey jack & cheddar cheeses. A few moments under the broiler made everything melty -- and then we piled on a dose of the kimchi salsa, some chopped scallions, and a drizzle of sour cream.
You'd think these fries might turn out to be kimchi overload - but they're really not. The vinegar makes a great foil for the richness of the pork belly and the fries. The cooked kimchi delivers a completely different (more subtle) flavor than the fresh, and the salsa really brings a freshness to the dish that made all the other flavors pop.

The verdict? Divine! And crazy delicious.

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©BURP! Where Food Happens
Want more? Read Lo's latest ruminations at FOODCrush, her Milwaukee Magazine blog.