Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Amazing little appetizer

This is Allison's specialty and now my favorite summer appetizer - what should we call it Allison?

Sliced peaches
truffle honey
triple cream cheese (Allison recommends: delice de bourgogne or pierre robert)
cracker of your choice

Chicken and Smoked Sausage Etouffee

Recipe: Tyler Florence

* Extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 pound andouille sausage links
* 4 leg-thigh chicken pieces
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (we used less than half this amount)
* 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
* 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
* 1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
* 4 cloves garlic
* 1 (12-ounce) can beer (Lager Times from Trader Joes)
* 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
* 2 bay leaves
* 2 tablespoons paprika
* Pinch cayenne pepper
* 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
* 2 scallions diced


Set a Dutch oven (I used a large stock pot) over medium heat and add a 1 TBSP of olive oil. I cut up the sausage and browned slightly as I rendered some of the fat. Remove and set aside on a paper towel. Season chicken with plenty of salt and pepper and add skin side down to the pan. Cook over medium heat to render fat for 7 to 10 minutes, then turn to brown both sides of the chicken. Remove and set aside on a paper towels.

With the pot still over medium heat add 2 tablespoons butter to melt with the fat then add flour and whisk to incorporate, and then swap to a wooden spoon. Cook until it is nice and brown (you want a nice deep rich colored roux), about 10 to 12 minutes.

Dice the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Add the vegetables to the pot with the roux and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes to sweat out some of the moisture, then deglaze the pot with the beer. Add the stock, bay leaves, paprika and cayenne. Return the chicken pieces to the pot and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 1 hour. Remove the chicken pieces from pot to a cutting board and shred the meat. Discard the bones and return the meat to the pot. Cut the andouille sausage into chunks and nestle back into the pot amongst chicken to heat through.

Give it all a final taste and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with plenty of parsley and scallions.

When this was finished Mark ended up skimming off quite a bit of the fat. Due to the fact that we didn't add as much flour our Etouffee had less of a gravy consistency.

This was absolutely delicious! We served it with jasmine rice because that just happened to be what we had on hand. It worked very well with it. In the picture you can see that Mark topped his serving with red chili flakes for a little kick.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lamb Shanks with garlic and herbs

Recipe adapted from: Atkins for life Cook book

After working a string of several 14-15 hour days I asked Mark if I could make anything special for Friday night wind down meal. Mark perused a few cook books and found a recipe for crock pot lamb shanks. They were super easy and absolutely delicious. Try em' out and let us know what you think:

6 (1-pound) lamb shanks
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 large onion
1/4 c dry white wine
1/2 cup diced tomatoes in juice (I used one large fresh tomato from the garden-yum!)
14 oz low sodium beef broth
1 tsp gravy flour
1/4 c chopped parsley for garnish

1. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Place in slower cooker with meaty ends down. I had the butcher cut the shanks down so they would easily fit into our slow cooker. Add garlic, rosemary, thyme, onion, wine, tomatoes, and broth. Cover and cook 8 to 9 hours on low or about 5 hours on high until shanks are very tender.

2. Remove shanks from liquid, cover, and set aside. Remove and discard any herb sprigs, remove garlic, and mash with a fork, then return to broth. Skim excess fat from broth and whisk in a small amount of thickener until smooth (gravy flour worked well. Pour over lamb and serve sprinkled with parsley.

I served this with pureed cauliflower and it was delicious! Wishing I would have taken a picture - next time!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Allison's Birthday Dinner!

This was such a fun & delicious meal to create! We decided to go with a middle eastern theme.

Homemade Pita Bread (recipe compliments of John Dials):

3 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
1 package of dry active yeast


1. Sift flour and salt together in a large bowl.

2 Combine yeast, sugar and 1/3 cup very warm water-give a quick stir and set aside for 5 minutes to activate yeast.

3. Make a well in the flour/salt mixture and add the yeast, 1 cup warm water and the olive oil.

4. Gently stir to gather dough into a ball-you may need a touch more water-depending on where you live, altitude.

5. Turn out and knead for 10 minutes.

6. Put into a LIGHTLY greased large bowl, cover and place in a warm spot for around 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

7. Punch down and knead to smooth.

8. Cut dough into 12 pieces, form into rounds, roll out and place on a dusted baking sheet, cover and let rest for 45 minutes.

9. Preheat oven to 500F degrees or turn grill on to high.

10. Once placed on the grill, cover quickly and check after about 90 seconds. Brush with a little bit of olive oil and turn with tongs and cover for another minute or so. Cooking times and temps will vary depending on grill. Let cool about 5-10 minutes at least before you try serving (the bread will still be cooking after you pull it out).

11. Some like to wrap the cooked pitas in a slightly damp tea towel for a minute or two-then cool and place in plastic bags. We opted to place cooked pitas onto parchment paper, on cooking sheets, and cover with a dry tea towel.

Greek Salad

3 Large cucumbers (spoon out seeds)
1 large tomato
1 block of feta cubed
2/3 cup of pitted kalamata olives
1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP olive oil

If you let this salad rest overnight the flavors are much more pronounced. It is easy, delicious, and very seasonal for summer in the pacific NW.


C'mon now... we didn't make our own dolmas....we have a 2 1/2 year old! Instead we went to our local middle eastern specialty store and found a canned brand recommended by the store attendant.

Attached to one of our favorite restaurants Ya Hala is a middle eastern specialty market. The restaurant is located at:

8005 SE Stark
Portland, OR 97215
(503) 256-4484

Dawali is the brand and the dolmas incorporated tomato in addition to the garlic & olive oil - very tasty! The brand was Lebanese rather than Greek. Like Ya Hala restaurant, the market incorporates Greek & Lebanese favorites.


1 large container of plain yogurt (whole fat, not pre-stirred)
1/2 lemon juiced, pinch of lemon zest if desired
4-5 cloves crushed garlic
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and grated (with a cheese grater)
2 TBSP mint finely minced (or you can use parsley)
Salt to taste


1. Place yogurt in a sieve (some recipes advise using a tea towel) over a bowl in the fridge for 2 hours to drain off any extra fluid.

2. Once yogurt is drained prepare remaining ingredients and add.

3. You can serve at this point, however, if you have time to refrigerate for an hour all the way up to over night you should do so. Flavors tend to mix and intensify the longer you let this dish set.

Serve with pita or with meat. We served along side our grilled leg of lamb. Delicious!