Destination: Norway

27 03 2011

This month with My Kitchen, My World, we travel to Norway…another of the Scandinavian nations.  I didn’t quite make it to Destination:  Sweden a few months back.  My choice of recipes is more Scandinavian than Norwegian, I’m afraid… It was darn tasty nonetheless!


You now know the extent of my knowledge of Norway…  I think I was having a bit of help from the gnomes while I was preparing my dish… One came out beautifully, the other totally fell apart!   Uff-da!  LOL!

Norwegians depend on the fishing industry for their primary protein…fish.  I’m sure fish (cod, salmon,shrimp…) coming out of the cold North Atlantic waters is fabulous.  I prefer Atlantic fish to most Pacific fish.  The water is colder, and it affects the taste of the fish.  The fish has less “fishy” taste.  As usual, getting decent quality anything sea-worthy is difficult this far in-land.  I can get frozen…but it’s packaged so I can’t see what I’m buying, and I’m touchy about that habit in marketers.  It usually means they wouldn’t want you to see it…  I held off and went with shrimp.

My dish, Scandinavian Open-Face Bay Shrimp Sandwich…is tasty beyond reason.  I wasn’t sure how I’d like dilled-lemon mayonnaise mixed with mustard…but oh!  It was wonderful!  I used medium shrimp, which are very close to the size of the bay shrimp we can get here, and cut them into pieces, 1/2 inch chunks.  Rather than using bread, pumpernickel no less, I had some nice, soft French Rolls that toasted up nicely.  The recipe also called for fresh cucumber slices on the sandwich…I could have sworn I had a cucumber in the fridge!  Instead, since we were already using dill, I added slices of dill pickles in place of the cucumbers.  I’ll remember this recipe in the summer when cukes are plentiful and cold sandwiches taste best!

Tasting Notes~
I wouldn’t hesitate to fix this recipe again.  Like I said…especially in the summer!  Although a little on the sloppy side, this sandwich had a lot of flavor…the mustard melded with the dill and lemon and added just the right amount of pizazz!  We both enjoyed it thoroughly!

Visiting Norway was quite fun!  I spent at least 3 afternoons collecting recipes I’d like to try.  One of the recipes I want to try involves Norwegian pastry and sweets.  It’s cold there…so they work off each and every calorie easily!   Next month we travel to Egypt…

That ought to be interesting!  What I know about Egyptian food you can put into a thimble and still have room for your thumb!  Come back and see what I put together then!


French Fridays with Dorie: Scallops with Caramel Orange Sauce~

27 03 2011

This week our French Fridays with Dorie recipe is Scallops with Caramel Orange Sauce.  In the sidebar of the recipe in Dorie’s Around My French Table cookbook was a notation that this recipe went very well with Spiced Carrots just a few pages away.  I don’t know why I thought Spiced Carrots were on our list this month…but I did, and jumped right on that!  So…I have a VERY ORANGE plate!  That’s okay, because she was right…the two go excellently together!

Scallops have been difficult to come by where I live.  I ended up picking up some at Trader Joe’s…not as large as I’d have liked, but wild-caught.  I could have gotten a nicer sear on my scallops…these are the pretty ones…the others were pretty pale in comparison.  I used a smallish, heavy bottomed pan…and figured out quickly that when the scallops were ready to turn, they released from the pan nicely.  The smallish pan didn’t allow the scallop juices to evaporate enough, and half of my scallops simmered more than got a sauté.  Although the others were pale, they didn’t over cook, and the sauce colored them up some.  Oh well…  I’d try this again, so next time…the sauté pan will be pulled out.

Tasting Notes~
This was a really nice recipe for scallops…and for carrots, but that’s another story!  The caramel orange sauce went together easily, and was much like a gastrique.  The scallops needed nothing more than a quick sprinkle with very little salt (I withheld the last salting in the pan because I already had a lot of liquid off the scallops to deal with) to make the flavors POP!  I served a side salad with a creamy savory dressing to break up all the sweetness.  It made a great foil!  The seriously sweet caramel sauce was tempered by the tanginess of the orange juice and the final addition of butter to mount the sauce.  We found the little strips of orange zest gave the sauce a bit of a marmalade flavor, but next time, I’d poach them in the sugar syrup as suggested.  I felt that the zest strips were tiny enough not to need the sugar…and that was mostly true.

I’d encourage anyone to give this recipe a try.  It sounds complicated, but it’s not.  The sauce takes several minutes to prepare, but it sits on the side nicely waiting to be used…and could even sit overnight!

Thirty Minute Thursday: Oops…

24 03 2011

Look Who’s Cooking!

It looks like the only one cooking Thirty Minute Thursday this week is Chaya of Bizzy B. Bakes!  I confess…my week has been really busy, today there was a service I really needed to attend, and then we came home to no electricity.  Combine dark rooms with a raging storm outside, and cooking wasn’t high on my list.  I’m glad Chaya cooked, even though her review isn’t very flattering for the book…that sometimes happens!

Chaya made the Simple Meat Sauce and found it decidedly simple…too simple for her tastes.  I have to admit…that wouldn’t be a recipe I selected either.   Especially not after having made some really fine Bolognese from Giuliano’s mother’s recipe (we prefer the earlier Classic Italian cookbook’s recipe).  I have to agree with Chaya…a meat sauce, especially a good one, is going to take some time.

No worries…I’ll be pretty much back on task next week.  There won’t be so many interruptions in my week for awhile again now!  I actually have ricotta in the house right now, so I’m thinking something with ricotta is coming up soon!

This just in…
Kayte from Grandma’s Kitchen Table has taken on Farfalle ai Piselle e Lettuga…Farfalle with Peas and Lettuce in English.  This dish looks absolutely gorgeous!  White with colorful bits and pieces…  Kayte says it would make a great potluck dish.  I’m going to remember that!  We occasionally have potlucks where I work, and something so close to a vegetarian dish like this is wonderful!

Cook the Books: An Embarrassment of Mangoes~

20 03 2011

February and March found us taking an imaginary trip to the tropics…to the Caribbean!  We followed Ann Vanderhoof and her husband, Steve, as they ventured out from their home port of Toronto, CAN and headed south…south…south…to An Embarrassment of Mangoes!  Dining options and weather change along the way.  We follow the couple from one harbor to the next as they explore their ports, meet the locals and learn about the local foods.  Ann tells it like it is…there’s no sugar coating her trepidations, or rain on her delights.  I hadn’t gotten far into the book at all when I started craving conch.  Now, how I’m going to satisfy THAT yen, I have no idea!  LOL!

Together the couple weather a few storms, including coming very close to a hurricane.  We get to see inside the cockpit and learn the pitfalls and joys of sailing and cooking the Caribbean.  There are a number of recipes in the book…many appealed to me greatly, but…acquiring unique items where I live is a little difficult, so I searched the internet for recipes from the areas visited that appealed to me.

That’s how we ended up in Jamaica.  I love the combinations of spice and savory in Jamaican cooking.  I’m just a bit timid about stepping out on my own with those seasonings.  I’d also gotten the notion that all Jamaican food was searingly hot as well.  Not necessarily so!  The recipes I found at Caribbean Choice weren’t all hot and spicy.  There were so many variations!  I settled on ~

Five Spice Roasted Chicken

Paired with…

Coconut Rice


Tangy Pineapple Cabbage

Everything came together very nicely.  I marinated the chicken for about 45 minutes to allow the flavor to get into the meat some.  The cabbage dish was interesting.  I selected it at first thinking it was a salad with a cooked dressing…I may reconstruct it as one.  The cabbage dish was ok, but not something I’d enjoy a lot of.  It did go quite well with the chicken and the rice though.  The rice is so mildly seasoned!  A bit of onion, curry, and the unctuous smooth taste of coconut milk.  This was a perfect backdrop for the spiced chicken.  The glaze for the chicken was just about good enough to lick the plate over, and the rice helped soak up every drop.

Last, but not least, we have dessert…A Lime and Coconut Pie.  Ok…this one isn’t exactly Caribbean for certain, but it sure topped off our dinner nicely.  The recipe calls for 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks…which made me think of topping the pie with meringue.  It really made a great little pie out of a simple buttermilk pie.  Ok, a coconut milk laced buttermilk pie.  This was my first experience with a pie made with buttermilk…it came out much like a custard, but yet a bit like a pudding as well.  The lime and the coconut go very well together, although I could handle more of the lime flavor.  Darn…we may have to try this pie again…

I really enjoyed An Embarrassment of Mangoes.  It was a gentle read that opened my eyes to another cuisine!  I love the recipes from this area, and am anxious to try others!  Thank you Jamaica!  And thank you to Deb from Kahakai Kitchen for hosting and Ann Vanderhoof for a great book!

Food -n- Flix: Tortilla Soup~

19 03 2011

I recently discovered a different Foodie group out on the ‘net… Food -n- Flix.  How fun!  I watched the movie from the last time period, Woman on Top, but I didn’t get to post in time.  The flick of the moment is Tortilla Soup;   the story of a retired chef with 3 adult daughters who’s lost his taste for Life.  My recipe choice was immediately obvious to me!  One of my friends has a recipe for Tortilla Soup that gets excellent reviews…and yes…she shared!

Christina’s World Famous Tortilla Soup~

Chicken broth (1 large can)
canned green chiles
canned diced tomatoes
avocado-cut in chunks
fresh cilantro
cheese, grated
corn tortillas
tortilla chips
1 chicken breast, cubed
Salt & pepper to taste

Pour the broth into a large pot.  Add onion, garlic, diced tomatoes and juice, and chicken.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until chicken is done.  When chicken is fully cooked, tear a few corn tortillas into small pieces and add to the soup.  Add green chiles and cilantro.  Simmer 10-15 minutes more.  Turn off heat, stir in cubed avocado.

To serve, crush a handful of tortilla chips into each serving dish, and top with hot soup.  Garnish with grated cheese, additional chopped cilantro (and whatever else your heart desires).

Tasting Notes~
I didn’t have an avocado.   That would have been a really nice touch.  So, I added sliced black olives and some green onion instead.  I seriously doubt there’s much you could do that would make this recipe bad… It has a wonderful texture from the tortillas that have cooked in the broth.  And there’s something about the taste of the slaked lime that remains in the corn, imparting its own flavor to the soup.  Seriously yum.  Now that Christina has shared her base recipe with me…I’ve got to play with it and add a few things.  Structure a few things… I’ll be back with the results another time!  In the meanwhile, this is one of the very best Tortilla soups I’ve ever had.  So far.  Watch this space!  *Ü*

Movie Notations~
Kind of a fun little tale that promotes la familia…  Amusing…  Food porn everywhere that man went!  Arrrrrgh!!  LOL!  I’d die for that kitchen!  Oh well…  They could do a sequel…Enchiladas…Dad and the girls, finally all married…with children!  Regardless, Tortilla Soup was fun to watch!

I’m also linking this to girlichef’s search for THE BEST Tortilla Soup EVER!


French Fridays with Dorie: Beggar’s Linguine~

19 03 2011

French Fridays with Dorie is chugging right along without my help…  I’m having trouble making the time to shop AND cook.  Well…I’m getting cooking done, but it’s not “group” cooking!  LOL!  I promised to make dinner for a friend’s birthday…his choice…his choice?  Fried chicken.  And then there was the yen for salmon I couldn’t quite get away from either.  Oh well.  So…I finally got to pick up the odds and ends I didn’t have stashed in my cabinet (figs, pistachios) and we got busy with this.

The timing on this recipe is really pretty good!  There’s plenty of time to do all your mise en place while your water heats for the pasta.  It won’t matter if you’re still prepping when the pasta goes in.  It’s going to need to cook for about 3-5 minutes before you start making the sauce.  The sauce cooks pretty quickly, but stay with it so you don’t brown your butter too much.

I used a Le Creuset 2-1/2 quart casserole for making the sauce.  It provided even consistent heat, and would hold enough heat to finish cooking the pasta in the sauce.  All of the little bits and pieces are cooked in the oil, so everything disperses through the pasta pretty well.

I had a couple of hearts of rib eyes that were left from a previous meal that I broiled for a few minutes, just enough to heat them through well and get the juices moving again (had been med. rare).  I didn’t want it to cook much more, but I did want it hot…all the way through.  I mixed up a bit of Gorgonzola cheese with a pat of butter for a richly flavored steak topper.  The pasta went exceptionally well with the steak.  The flavors and textures complimented each other nicely.

Tasting Notes~
Okay.  I confess.  I planned to blow off this recipe because I’m timid about combining sweet and savory.  There.  I’ve said it.  Is there a “program” for people like me?  *Ü*  Dorie’s FF Bloggers changed my mind…everyone thought it was so good…  I asked hubby if he minded a little trip to the wild side…and he was game.  He’s so good about such things!  Still…I was prepared to not like the dish.  The flavors are difficult to explain…  First off, this dish is not sweet.  Banish that thought.  It has an essence of sweetness when you encounter a raisin, but still not really sweet.  Remember, there’s a lot of butter and pasta here.  The toasted nuts mellow the butter and the sweetness of the fig (which actually wasn’t all that sweet, nor particularly to my liking…but I got past my objections) and the raisins.  The ratio of tidbits to pasta is nicely balanced so you don’t get bites that are without flavor, nor too many bites with too many tidbits.  It was really, no kidding, good.  I loved the essence of orange that spread throughout the dish.  It was just a whisper… Thanks, Bloggers,  for all your comments on the site forum! You won me over and I’m SO glad!  LOL!

Thirty Minute Thursday: Fettucine Limone~

17 03 2011

My menu selection this week came about because I needed to cook some lovely salmon, and I needed a side.  Hubby suggested a nice, creamy pasta…so with that and salmon in mind…I went searching through the pages of Thirty Minute Pasta to find just the right “go with” dish.  When I ran across Fettucine with Lemon, I thought I had a match!  The salmon was cooked according to Tyler Florence’s Pan Roasted Soy-lacquered Salmon…seriously a yummy dish!  It’s got a little teriyaki flavor, and the lemon sounded like a great foil for the salty-sweet salmon.

Pasta, lemon juice, lemon zest, butter and cream…what could be simpler?  The recipe went together in no time flat.  It was a great package too.  I put the water for the pasta on, and when it came to a boil, I started the salmon.  Next time, I’ll add the pasta to the water, and then start the salmon.  The timing will work a little better that way.  The salmon needs 12-15 minutes in the oven…the pasta needed about that much time to cook.  I’d have been happier with the salmon a little less done, and have the ability to be hands free long enough to make a little glaze for the fish.

Tasting Notes~
The lemon taste in this dish is smoothed by the addition of heavy cream, but it’s bright and utterly delightful!  I found I wanted a bit of salt I didn’t see in the recipe…just enough to enhance the lemon flavor!  I was a little worried about the citrusy flavor of the pasta sauce with the teriyaki…and then I saw that Tyler dresses the plate with fresh cilantro and lime…lime! Lime and lemon are like Burns and Allen!!  They get along perfectly!  The balance of the flavors was really wonderful.  The salmon was slightly salty-sweet…so the lemony pasta really was an ideal foil.  Each of the flavors enhanced the other for a perfect combination.  Try this one.  I think you’ll really like it!

Look Who’s Cooking~
Kayte from Grandma’s Kitchen Table has created Linguine alle Zucchine e Cipolle (linguine with zucchini and onions).   Oooh…this looks wonderful!  I can’t remember if I’ve made this one yet, but I did buy zucchini to be able to do a few of the zuke pastas.  I have a bad habit of thinking of zucchini as ONLY a summer food!  Shame on me!  LOL!

Chaya from Bizzy B. Bakes has created Fusilli Margherita…fusilli with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese…Mmmmmm!! Tomatoes, oregano and mozzarella cheese….  I want this when there are tomatoes galore in my garden.  I love bringing fresh tomatoes and basil in to cook with!!  This is a colorful and stringy dish!  It’s a lot of fun to eat too!  Chaya says she doesn’t need an excuse to fix pasta…I’m getting to be the same way.  It’s so versatile, and really works with a lot of foods!

Birthday Creativity…

14 03 2011

It always gets a little interesting when a foodie of any level has a birthday in the family.  I think we all get a little thrill deciding what to prepare…how can we do something a little new and different with a favorite stand-by?  This year it was definitely my turn for that.  Hubby asked for a steak and lobster dinner, with a sunflower nut pie for dessert.   So I picked up some raw beast, a big ol’ crawdad (ok…cousin of crawdad…) and put a potato in the oven.  Oh…and made a pie.

I picked up a pair of rib-eye steaks, a pair of small (the largest available!) lobsters, and the sunflower nuts for the pie.  I’m ultimately very disappointed in the quality of the meat.  I need to remember that a couple local markets only put questionable beef on sale.  The beef was well seasoned with the rub I usually use, moistened with balsamic vinegar.  It had a great flavor…it just wasn’t as easy to eat as one might imagine.

I studied a bit on sous vide cooking, and methods of cooking lobster, and came up with the idea that cooking the lobster sous vide might yield a very moist, not overcooked dish.  I cut the shells and separated the meat from the shell as much as I could.  I placed about a Tablespoon of butter inside the shell of each lobster (each lobster weighed about 6 oz. each), and topped each with a translucent slice of lemon.  I cleaned one of the trays well so I could use it to keep the spines of the lobster from puncturing the bag.  Next time, I’ll wrap the spines with a bit of foil.  I arranged a few lemon slices on the bottom of the styro tray, set the lobsters on the tray, put the whole thing into a Food Saver bag and sealed it.  I had a pot of water at about 130° F waiting for the lobster to make the plunge.  I stirred the pot from time to time to keep the water circulated and used a heavy pot to keep the package submerged.  Remember when I said I used styrofoam?  Good idea, but way too buoyant for this application.   It also made it difficult to completely surround the lobster with the heated water.  Still…the result was near what I anticipated.

The lobster was almost poached in butter and its own juices mixed with a bit of lemon.  I added no other seasonings to the bag before I sealed it.  There was plenty of salt…almost too much at the head end of the tail. You could taste the difference from the meat being frozen in salt water after cleaning.  That meat was a bit salty…inside the tail though…there was a lovely lobster and butter flavor.  Neither of us really tasted the lemon at all.

Put it all together and add a baked potato…and you’ve got way too much food to be able to enjoy dessert!  LOL!  Yes… I made the sunflower nut pie…this time with the addition of chocolate.  I can hardly wait to taste it!

Oh…my.  That’s not good.  That’s wonderful!!!  I wish I could send you a bite…  This is as close as I can get…

That’s not a bad way to celebrate….Pi Day!!

Thirty Minute Thursday: Spaghetti alla Puttanesca Bianca~

10 03 2011

For Thirty Minute Thursday this week, I selected Spaghetti alla Puttanesca Bianca….or Spaghetti with Olives, Capers, and Anchovies.   This recipe is found in the Seafood section of Giuliano Hazan’s Thirty Minute Pasta.

I have to tell you…this goes together incredibly quickly.   You’ll have plenty of time to do the little bit of chopping and prep work, put your feet up for 10 minutes, and then start your pasta and sauce.  It’s quick!  Ok, I halve all the recipes, but it doesn’t take much longer to chop 2 Tablespoons of something than it does to chop 1 Tablespoon!

Don’t even bother to start cooking your sauce until you’ve added the pasta to the water.  This sauce cooks in less than 5 minutes, start to finish.  I didn’t find that my anchovies “melted” into the olive oil the way it described…although it came pretty close.  I was able to find pitted kalamata olives at Trader Joe’s.  When I saw those, there was NO way I was leaving without at least one jar!  *Ü*

Tasting Notes~
I’m not even going to try and say that you won’t taste the anchovies in this dish.  I’ll say you may not taste them…and, depending on your ability to appreciate those savory tastes that lean toward fishiness…like anchovies or sardines or mackerel…you may enjoy this dish immensely!  My husband really enjoyed it.  He thought it made a great side dish to cold fried chicken.  I guess the textures were opposite and the flavors complementary.   I, on the other hand…went and got the cold fried chicken that was left from last night, because, sadly, I do not have the ability to enjoy that fishy taste.  I can usually eat anchovies…on a Caesar salad…if I can control the amount I’m eating.  I find it takes just a little bit for me to enjoy the flavors.  I think that was where I ran into difficulty with this dish.  The anchovies may have been too heavy for my taste, and if I reduced it some, it might be fine.  It wasn’t bad, it was just more of a fishy taste than I could eat a plate of.  I’ve made other sauces with anchovies and not had this problem.  Like I said, Bruce enjoyed it and couldn’t quite place the “fishiness” I commented on, and if he did…that was one of the flavors he liked and was intrigued by.

Look Who’s Cooking…
Joining in and cooking some great dishes from the same book are:

Chaya from Bizzy B. Bakes.  Chaya made Penne with Spinach and Ricotta this week, and does it ever look good!  So far, Giuliano is keeping within the time lines in her kitchen!  Lovely presentation Chaya!

Kayte from Grandma’s Kitchen Table is also with us, and she created Linguine al Limone, or Linguine with Lemon.  She says this one is a keeper…and she’s already working up her own combinations for additions!  You GO Kayte!  I have to agree with you!  And you won’t ever know just how close we came to doing the same recipe on the same night! LOL!  I was looking at this and the lemons on the butcher block!  I’m glad you made it first though…now I know to make sure and add half a pound of the shrimp in the freezer!

Five Stars in my eyes…

5 03 2011

I just finished reading Five Star Foodie’s blog, and her review of a 5 star restaurant in New York.  It left me wondering what 5 star restaurants exist in California, and where they are….  I was aware that The French Laundry in Yountville has 5 stars, but surely there is another restaurant or two in the San Francisco area…how many are in the Los Angeles area?  Here’s Forbes’ answer…

California – Laguna Beach:
California – San Diego:
California – San Francisco:
California – Yountville:
Two of these are within driving distance…and would be an incredible overnight escape and treat.  Seriously something to think about…  About the only vice we still have lurking around is our love of food…good food!  It’s certainly something to think about!  While thinking…here are the Michelin 3 star restaurants in Northern California…both nearby….uh oh…
French Laundry, The Wine Country Napa Valley Reserve a table
Restaurant at Meadowood, The (New) Wine Country Napa Valley Reserve a table 


Ok…The French Laundry is on both lists…and the 2nd restaurant is a new addition. Interesting…  Sadly, there’s nothing any closer, but that’s ok.  I still think a night off on an adventure sounds pretty wonderful!  In the meanwhile…back to the kitchen (and the garden!)…