Category Archives: Recipes

Thanksgiving 2010

Mmmm… winter holidays!

This cranberry cider was Beth’s Thanksgiving invention- it’s simple and tasty at half cranberry juice, half sparkling cider, a shot of light rum and cranberries and maybe a cinnamon stick to garnish.

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Stale

Stale like this bread that I turned into croutons to perch delicately atop this caesar salad accompaniment to a delicious french onion soup topped with more stale bread and some defrosted comte.

Stale like this blog which at last update belonged to March and now belongs to November, having seen a late May marriage and no small part of business and bustle since.


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Squash

We grew a bunch of it this year. We had squash vines exploring the sidewalk, wrapping around the mailbox, and climbing the neighbor’s apple tree. We stored some dozen or so large winter squash in Beth’s garage this winter- pumpkins, sweetmeats, galeaux d’esine, delicata… They’re about at the end of their collective rope now, though. Mold spots were starting to appear on the hard rinds, and the stems were loose. The obvious solution was to eat a lot of squash, which was no great hardship for either of us.

This is the first of several winter squash recipes that I’ve made over the last few weeks. The inspiration came from 101 Cookbooks and a few idle moments in the WinCo bulk aisle. See, Beth and I both have a tendency to taste new things. She found adzuki beans in the bulk bins- I typed their name into a couple favorite food blogs, and found a tasty looking recipe on 101 Cookbooks. A few tweaks later, I had a new favorite soup.


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Kufta, Part 2:

Time for one more shot of the Kufta Kebab. This time it’s a Syrian preparation of kebab wrapped with muhammara, walnuts and yogurt. I saw a recipe in a newsstand Bon Appetit magazine the day after I made Kufta, and I couldn’t resist giving it a shot. That recipe called for pomegranate syrup, which I didn’t have, so I made an approximation with lemon juice, honey, and a touch of molasses. If I’d had grenadine, I’d have used that and lemon juice.

The important part of the dish, though, is fire-roasted red peppers. I spent a couple hours over a bbq grill last fall, roasting a dozen or two red bell peppers until the skin charred and split. It’s just as easy to do a few over a gas burner, or under the broiler, but it’s hard to match the smoky char of the bbq. I love my grill. This year I intend to try making my own charcoal for it, but that’s still a ways off.

BTW- don’t try to warn me about the dire health and environmental harm caused by charcoal grilling. I once ate s’mores roasted over a railroad tie fire. The Earth is frankly relieved that all I’m doing is charcoal grilling.

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Kufta, the Kebab of Love

Every country has street meat.

I remember giving a 12 or 13-year old Iraqi boy a $5 bill for falafel (ok, it’s not meat, but hey- it’s amazing), which he would run to us as fast as he could. Down the street to the falafel stand, back to us, then back to the stand with more bills. The falafel was fantastic, nestled with lettuce, tomato and sumac in distinctive diamond teardrop shaped pita bread. I heard a rumor once that this falafel stand in Hwar Rajab was then-Iraq commander General Petraus’s favorite in all of Iraq.

Our interpreter Ricky was surprised I knew what sumac was. He had tried explaining the spice to another American, who thought it was the American poison sumac and that the Iraqis were trying to poison him. Iraqi sumac is different. It’s a ground red berry, gritty and lemony. I was delighted to find a jar in a Indian market.

Sumac is an essential ingredient in another quintessential Iraqi street food: kufta kebab. Most Iraqis just call it kebab, which confuses Americans who expect chunks of meat or vegetables (Americans can be lax about naming street food). In Iraq, a ground meat sausage on a stick is kebab, chunks of meat on a stick is tikki, and shaved, roasted ground meat is shawarma. Kebab is my favorite- it’s ground fatty lamb, seasoned to perfection and grilled until the fat melts and drips out, leaving behind a lace of meat and spice.

I deconstructed kebab while in Iraq, badgering Ricky to get more details about the recipe. I’ve made it a few times here, where it’s hard to get fatty lamb. I usually use a mix of fatty hamburger and lamb to get the texture close to right. The original recipe didn’t have garlic in it, but garlic and lamb seem like such a good fit.

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Group Brew

I spent yesterday at an event run by the Snake River Brewing Club, the homebrewing club that I’ve been a part of for several months now. We brewed around 80 gallons of strong scotch ale and split it up into smaller portions to ferment it. We’ll be getting back together in a month or so to combine the beer into a used Merlot barrel to age for several months.

My brewing system only handles 5 gallons at a time, so I cooked a pot of chili and photodocumented the brew while the guys with 10 and 15 gallon systems did the brewing. The chili was a cheaper version of my favorite recipe– I had chipotle peppers this time, and I used ground beef instead of the tastier chuck roast. One of the other guys brought a Bacon Explosion, which I was interested to try. I’ve never seen one up close before.

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Thanksgiving, Redux

Here’s a lighter take on Thanksgiving that I made a couple weeks ago. Marshmallow-topped yam casserole became roasted yams with caramelized onions; turkey gravy became celery pesto, and mashed potatoes became turnip gratin. We ate this with a bottle of Avery Fifteen, an anniversary ale with hibiscus, figs and white pepper, fermented with a strain of the wild yeast Brettanomyces. The beer complimented the meal in stellar fashion- the brett gave it a tart, wild flavor that cut the richness of the yams and gratin well, while complimenting the celery and capers in the turkey.


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