All posts for the month October, 2008

Yes, Halloween is upon us and what better dish to serve than deviled eggs?  Everyone loves deviled eggs,  they are great at parties and they are easy to make.

OK, I must admit the idea of serving deviled eggs actually came my friend Skyle who told me she makes them into scary Halloween ghosts and serves them on top of a plate of black beens (using black peppercorns for the eyes, rice for maggots, and carrot strips for feet.  She’s obviously far more creative than me.)

Instead of ghosts, why not pumpkins?  Try adding in a little red food coloring to egg yolk mixture and a dollop of wasabi or a chive for the for the stem.

My personal favorite is to use a lot of red food coloring and a little sriracha hot sauce.  Bloody Halloween hearts with a fiery twist.

Recipe: Deviled Eggs

If you don’t have a family favorite, here’s a recipe I like for deviled eggs.  This one has a lot of greenery in it, so you might omit the celery and green onions to make the recipe a little prettier.  Or you can leave it in because it tastes awful good.

  • 24 eggs
  • 1 cup of light mayonnaise
  • 3 teaspoons mustard
  • 3 teaspoons white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 inch piece of celery, finely minced
  • 1 green onion, green top only, finely minced
  • Paprika for garnish

Put the eggs into a pot and cover the eggs with water.  Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot, and turn off the heat.  Let the eggs sit for 14 minutes.

Peel the eggs and halve.  Remove the yolks and put into a mixing bowl.  If you are making Skyle’s eggs, cut the bottom off of the egg and pull the egg from the bottom.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir to combine.  Once the ingredients are well mixed, put them in a piping bag or into a plastic bag with a corner snipped.

Fill each white with the egg mixture and sprinkle with paprika for color.


(Photo courtesy of Skyle.)

So in my post Watermelon Wine, I had mentioned that while I had been less than enthusied by the watermelon wine, I had not come away empty handed from Davenport Orchards & Winery on Sunday.  That’s because I found a new sweet red: Charlemagne.

I had to try more than one wine.  Far be it from me to stop at one glass when they are giving wine away.  I tried the Cayuga, the Seyval Blanc, and the Rhubarb.  But it was Charlemagne that really caught my attention.

The Sweet Red Wine Charlemagne

Yes, it was sweet.  Like after-dinner or reduced-to-syrup-and-served-over-ice-cream sweet.  At the same time, though, it had a bolder flavor than I am used to in sweet red wine and it had a nice floral bouquet.  Plus, the sweetness was not overpowering so I actually got to taste the wine, not the sugar. The wineries in Newberg Oregon is where you can find top quality wine.

Plus I found that the United States Marine Corps private labels it and serves it at its galas.  So I figured if it was good enough for them, well it was probably good enough for me, too.

Going to Lawrence

If you are ever in the Lawrence, Kansas area, stop by Davenport Orchards and Winery (it’s about 5 miles East along K-10.)  If you like dry reds, the Chat in the Dark is very good and their Apple Wine is still my favorite desert white ever.  Though don’t tell ’em that the blogger who didn’t like the watermelon wine sent you.  It probably wouldn’t do you any good.

Okay, here is my second entry in  Cate and Sarah‘s $7 Dinner Challenge.  If you have not heard of the $7 Dinner Challenge, these two amazing food bloggers have challenged the rest of us to create a  two-course meal for four including a full serving of vegetables for just $7 total. So for today:

Pea and Potato Burritos With Roasted Bananas

To get the evening started off right, our family of four will be dining on pea and potato burritos, a great vegan go-to dish that is hearty and tasty.  Half a bag of peas provide a serving of vegetables to the family (A bag of frozen corn can be substituted instead, though it will change the taste pretty dramatically.)  Desert is cinnamon roasted bananas.

Pea and Potato Burritos

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, cut into 1 inch dice
  • 1/4 pound of onion, finely diced
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1 12.5 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/2 bag of peas
  • 4 tortilla shells
  • salt and more pepper to taste

In a sauce pan over medium heat, add the can of tomato sauce, chili powder, the tablespoon of black pepper, and a healthy pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil and simmer to reduce.  This can stay on the stove until dinner is ready.  The longer it has a chance to reduce, the better it will taste.

Put the potatoes into just enough cold water to cover them and bring to a boil.  Boil until fork tender (15-20 minutes.)

Remove the potatoes from the water to cool and put about 4 tablespoons of the starchy potato water into a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and boil/saute for about 2 minutes.  Add the potatoes and two teaspoons of black pepper back into the skillet.  Cook for 5 minutes or until the potatoes are dry.

Mash the potatoes with a fork and add the peas.  Mix and cook until the peas become warm.

Take out the flour tortillas and fill each with a quarter of the potato/pea mixture.  Right before you serve, test the tomato sauce for salt, adjust if necessary, and pour the tomato sauce on top the burritos.

Roasted Cinnamon Bananas

  • 1 pound bananas
  • 1 tablespoon, cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons, powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl, mix the cinnamon and the powdered sugar.

Leaving the banans in the peel, cut the bananas in half lengthwise and then cut each half into two.  Cover with the sugar/cinnamon mixture and bake peel side down for 15 minutes.  Serve warm.

(Now would be a good time to pour the sauce on the burritos.  It should be reduced by now ;))

Well, what do you think?

Oh, yeah, the tab:

Tortilla .75
*Garlic .38
*Potatoes 2.38
Peas .55
Chili powder .57
Tomato sauce .47
1/4 lb. onion .33
Bananas .58
Cinnamon .57
Powdered Sugar .10

For a total of 6.68

If you want, you can add 32 cents of cheap oil when sauteing the onions and garlic.  I just am not smart enough to do the math on that.

Davenport Farms Norton GrapesToday, I stopped by Davenport Orchards & Winery today to pick up a few bottles of locally produced wine.

I owe a lot of Davenport.  It is the first winery tour I ever took and strangely enough, I think I still have a bottle of apple wine I purchased that day stored in my under counter wine cooler.

I have moved on to new liquid loves, but every year I make it back to pick up a little something.  For the past two years, it’s been apple wine.  Not only is it delicious, but they are always out of what I really want: their watermelon wine.

Not this year!  This year they had several cases of it.  Which could only mean that either I had come at a different time of the year, they had made more of it, or they had sold less of it.  I think they have only had it three years, so it is likely they are finally ramping up the production, although given the economy, it is quite possible that they are selling less.

Still, I was happy that I finally got to try it.

Watermelon Wine in Review

Well, sadly, all in all, watermelon wine is nothing to write home about (though strangely it is something to write a blog post about.  Oh well.)  Honestly, I think they cut the watermelon down too far because it tasted like rind.  Which is never good.

Really, that’s pretty much all I have to say about it.  It was not near sweet enough and it tasted green.  I was saddened, because I figured I’d be taking a small loan out to buy their entire supply and spending the next month drunkenly blogging about watermelon wine recipes.

Still, I didn’t come away totally empty handed.  More on that tomorrow.

But until then, please has anyone else had watermelon wine?  Leave me a comment and tell me your experience?

Photo courtesy of Davenport Orchards & Winery.

So at some urging from Judy, here is my recipe for fried artichokes, which  was heavily inspired by the same dish at La Bodega in Kansas City, MO.  It is the perfect combination of salt from the “ham” and sweet from the garlic vegannaise.

Fried Artichokes

  • 8 large artichokes
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 4 slices of tofurkey lunch meat (if you’re not veg, you can substitute ham), halved
  • 6 tablespoons of egg replacer
  • 2 tablespoons of soy milk
  • 1 cup of All Purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Canola oil for frying

To make the dipping sauce:

  • 8 tablespoons of vegannaise
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder (or roasted garlic)
  • Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of sriracha hot sauce

Process the artichokes.  I’m going to defer to eHow until I can get some pictures up.  (I know, I know.)

Dredge the artichokes in corn starch and shake off the excess.  Then wrap the artichoke in half of a slice of the lunch “meat”.  Trim any extra meat so that it wraps around perfectly.   Stick a toothpick through the artichoke so that the lunch meat stays closed.  Let the artichokes sit for 10 minutes to let the cornstarch set.

While the artichokes are resting, mix the egg replacer and soy milk (or eggs and regular milk if you are not vegan) together in one bowl and the flour, garlic, and salt and pepper in another bowl.

After ten minutes, dip the artichokes into the egg mixture and then the flour.  Shake off the excess flour and put on a plate to set.

Bring the frier to temperature while the crust is forming on the artichokes.  Fry the artichokes until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.

To make the dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

It’s hard economic times.  American families are watching their food budgets shrink as the price of just about everything else explodes.

As Americans struggle to find creative ways to stretch their food dollar, Cate and Sarah have issued the $7 Dinner Challenge to us food bloggers: face what so many other Americans must every day and try to come up with a way to prepare a meal and either a dessert or appetizer for a family of four for under $7.

It’s a challenge and fortunately it is one I find intellectually challenging or else I think I would find it horribly, horribly depressing.

$7 Lentils and Rice Pilaf
with Carrot/Hummus Appetizer

The evening starts off with half a jar of hummus, the brand of which I did not write down.  However, I found it in the Asian aisle for $2.99.  Carrot strips from the dipper.

For the main course, the family will dine on a vegetarian favorite: rice/lentil pilaf.  This dish sacrifices nothing but high price with the addition of frozen peas, a pound of onion and a full stick of butter.

Carrot/Hummus Appetizer

  • 1/2 of a jar of hummus
  • 1 pound of whole carrots, peeled and cut into sticks

To save money, buy whole carrots, peel, and eat.

Rice/Lentil Pilaf

  • 2 ¼ cups white rice
  • 2 ¼ cups lentils
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 pound white onion, diced
  • 1 32 ounce bag of frozen peas
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Put rice, lentils, and salt in a rice cooker with 9 cups of water.  Start the rice cooker.  If you do not have a rice cooker, put the rice, lentils, salt and water into a pot and bring to a boil.  Cover and cook until the water is absorbed.

Once the rice and lentils are finished, melt a stick of butter over medium heat.  Turn the heat to high and add the onion.  Sauté until soft.

Add the frozen peas and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the peas are warm and the onions translucent.

Add the rice and lentils to the skillet and mix thoroughly.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

That’s one of the best $7 meals you will ever have.

And to prove this dish meets the $7 challenge:

Balance Sheet
(All prices valid at Target in Overland Park, KS)

1.50 hummus (1/2 of 2.99 jar of hummus)
.45 carrots  (1/2 bag of .89 cent carrots)
.45 white rice (1/2 bag of .89 cent white rice)
.50 lentils (1/2 bag of lentils)
.64 butter
1.29 onion
1.09 peas
6.37 Total

Did you know that today is World Bread Day, a celebration of a food that is eaten by nearly every culture in the world?

To celebrate the day, I decided to do what I always do when confronted with difficult baking questions: ask my wife for help.  She is the family baker and she pointed me towards her family’s secret bread recipe.  Which I will now post on the Internet.

Aunt Rita’s Bread 

  • 3 3/4 war water (preferrably between 105-115 degrees)
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 10 cups of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter

Combine 3/4 cup of water, yeast and sugar in a cup and stir.  The yeast should rise to the top in a minute or two.

In a mixing bowl, add the flour and salt.  In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine the remaining water with 3 tablespoons of melted butter.  Add the liquid to the flour mixture and mix well. 

Continue mixing and adding flour until the dough is elastic.  Knead 8-10 minutes.  Brush the top with the remaining tablespoon of melted butter and put in a warm place to rise.

When the bread doubles in size, shape into loaves and put into greased loaf pans.  Put in a warm place to rise a second time.

When it it has doubled a second time, bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.

Baingan Bharta is my third favorite Indian dish (after the Rucci fry at Rucci in Overland Park, KS) and Cauliflower Manchurian, also known as the greatest meal ever.  For those not familiar with the dish, baingan bharta is an eggplant curry made from ginger, garlic, chilies, and cilantro.

But You Said Pumpkin

That’s right.  Baingan Bharta is traditionally made with eggplant, but this is Fall and stores are so full of pumpkin that there is no room for shoppers.  So, in the hopes of eating seasonal, I thought it might be fun to swap out eggplant for pumpkin.  (This is, of course, not a decision I take lightly, me since I really love eggplant.)

I also played with the spice blend just a little.  Whenever I cook with pumpkin, I try to use nutmeg, allspice, and sometimes cinnamon because those spices typically go with pumpkin (think pumpkin pie.)  In this case, I added ground coriander because it can be used as a nutmeg substitute and it is very Indian.

Pumpkin Baingan Bharta

  • 2.5 pounds pumpkin, cut into 1 inch squares
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 can of plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup, yogurt or heavy cream
  • 1 Serrano chili, diced
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Coat the pumpkin in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Bake the pumpkin in the oven for 45 minutes.

Mix the garlic and ginger in a food processor with just enough water to form a smooth paste.  This can be done with any quantity of ginger and garlic.  It can also be made by mashing the garlic and ginger with a knife.

Put the remaining oil in a skillet and heat over a medium flame.  Toast the cumin seeds for 1 minute.  Add the onions and cook until they become soft, which usually takes 3-5 minutes.

Add the garlic ginger paste, curry powder, coriander, and chopped tomatoes.  Reserve the tomato juice.  Cook for 2 minutes.

Add the pumpkin, tomato juice, yogurt, and chilies.  Cover and cook for five minutes.  Remove the lid and continue cooking until the sauce thickens, typically about 10 minutes.

Add the cilantro and cook for another thirty seconds and serve with rice and naan.

Poverty is not something I talk very much about on Blog Well Done, but given the importance of Blog Action Day, I thought I would take a moment to discuss it.

As my friend at the Peanut Butter Project has rightly said, it is difficult to eat well when you are in poverty.  This statement hits close to home for me since I am a food blogger and I play with food all the time.  I play with food while others starve because they fell on hard times or were born in a country where food is not bountiful or where it is hoarded by totalitarian governments.

Don’t get me wrong, I love food blogging.  I love cooking.  I love watching the look on people’s faces when I feed them good, but after only the briefest self-reflection, I cannot help but wonder I am not part of the problem.

I am going to continue doing what I can.  I need to keep feeding money into my Kiva account, which I use to help others create food across the world.  I beg you all to do the same.

I have also thought about volunteering to help teach others how to stretch their food dollar to provide better nutrition.  Maybe it is time to stop talking about it and start doing it.  After all, the only way to end this problem is to do something about it.

So in a fit of what can only be called madness, I bought a bushel of apples.  Now, I must eat these apples…

So I am going to start cooking apples…  Apple cakes, apple muffins, apple sauces, apple pies, apple main courses, apple sides.

What I want from you all are suggestions…  Give me your favorite apple recipes!