Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday Morning Pancakes from Grandma's Cookbook

Drizzled with real maple syrup and loads of butter... pancakes are lovely on a cold December morning.

In 1978, my grandpa gave my grandma Betty Crocker's Cookbook; it's full of grandma's notes and a few food smudges. All proof of years of use. Hidden within the pages are also clippings and other papers, usually full of kitchen tips.

It just so happened this morning, when I went to open the book, the page that fell open was the pancake page! And what fluttered out was a newspaper clipping from 1986, describing the many uses for vinegar. What the connection might be, I can only guess. Fortunately, vinegar is not an ingredient for the pancakes.

1 egg, beaten
1 c flour
1 c milk (I used 2%)
2 T butter, melted
1 T sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Blend until there are no lumps, let rest about five minutes. Drop by the 1/4 c onto a hot griddle, about 1-2 minutes on each side. Bigger pancakes will take longer.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fresh Cranberry Scones

Ah, I was lucky one day. It doesn't happen very often that I acquire totally free food. Fortunately, an associate of the company I work for send a box of fresh cranberries to the office. Only three of us wanted anything to do with them; I left happily that day with 2 pounds of the pretty little things from Wisconsin, which supposedly makes them "local" for those of us in Chicago.

I promptly threw them into the freezer and rabidly tried to find cranberry recipes. It was in this frenzy that I stumbled upon this delight. It's quite good, and 2 pounds of cranberries will make almost four batches.

1-1/2 c fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped up in a food processor
1/2 c brown sugar
zest of 1 orange (make sure it's organic unless you want to eat pesticide)
2-1/4 c all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
12 T. cold butter, cut into pieces
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c milk (2% works perfectly)

Heat the oven up to 350°F. Toss the cranberries with sugar and orange zest in a big bowl, then set aside. In a food processor (or regular bowl), mix up the flour, baking powder, salt, and cut in the butter. Add to the cranberry group, and mix well. Add milk and egg to this, and form a soft dough. Knead on a floured surface. Cut into rounds/wedges, or drop by the spoonful, onto a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Yields about a dozen scones.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What?! Leftover Risotto?

Yes, it's true. I made risotto for dinner one day and the stars must have aligned just so, as there were plenty of leftovers. This has never happened to me before. Typically there is nothing left of this marvelous Italian comfort food.

The big question: What does one do with leftover risotto?

I researched the query and arancini ("little oranges"--but they aren't orange, nor is that an ingredient) would be a definite possibility. Little balls (hence, the term "oranges") of risotto which are deep fried. Another one was risotto al salto, which are just pancakes made of risotto and a little egg (something like potato pancakes, apparently).

Arancini was my answer, which accompanied bowls of steaming soup. If I had found some mozzarella in my fridge, I would have put little pieces into the center of each. I didn't deep fry them; just a little olive oil in my cast iron skillet did the trick. They had flat sides because of this... I guess that made them rustic. He he.

leftover risotto
1-2 eggs, slightly beaten---put this into a bowl
1-2 c dry bread crumbs (I used Panko)---put this into a shallow dish
olive oil for frying

Shape the leftover (cold) risotto into balls about 2" in diameter. Dip each into egg, then the bread crumbs. Shallow fry until browned and crispy on each side. Drain well (pat with a paper towel to catch any extra oil) and serve.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Comfort Food: Beef Stroganoff

The night I made this, it was cold and damp outside... enter more comfort food!

My cooking ways have given way to heartier meat dishes this season; the beef I purchased for this was a single pound of hormone-free extra lean stew meat (perfect for high pressure cooking, so that it gets tender). It was easy to fill in the gaps with a bunch of cremini mushrooms, straight from an Illinois farm. Next time, though, I'd like to double the recipe.

This dish was prepared in a pressure-cooker; though I haven't tried it, I'm sure it would also work on the stove top or a cozy baking dish.

1 lb beef stew meat
3 T olive oil
2 T flour
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 c broth (I used a veg bouillion cube)
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 c sour cream
sea salt & pepper
egg noodles, cooked for serving
paprika for garnish (optional)

In the bottom of the pressure cooker, brown the meat in the oil. Add onions, cook about a minute. Add flour, and coat beef and onions. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the sour cream. Seal the lid and start building pressure inside the cooker. Once the pressure has built up, let it cook for about 20 minutes. After the pressure has been released, stir in the sour cream and season. Serve with the cooked egg noodles, and sprinkle with a little paprika.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Toona Noodle

It's November already! I've certainly noticed the days getting shorter. While my daily schedule hasn't changed, the fact that it is dark when I leave work forces the mental challenge of preparing dinner without feeling like the entire evening is a crapshoot.

Enter my two very bestest kitchen buddies: the slow cooker and the pressure cooker. I find it ironic that these routes to a meal are of two extremes, very very very slow and super rocket fast.

Colder weather has also brought comfort food cravings upon us, which is the main reason I've been making tuna noodle casserole in my slow cooker. There is almost 30 seconds worth of prep time! Wow! I've only made this so far on weekends with the setting on High; if you do the Low setting, be sure to give it a stir about a 1/2 hour before eating, just in case it isn't thick enough. I like mine so that it can stand on end with a spoon.

I have one very important note about the recipe below. Typically, I don't purchase "cream of xxx" soup because of the high msg content. The soups I use below are made by Health Valley, no msg, and are of the ready-to-use variety (in other words, they are not condensed). If you choose to use a condensed "cream of xxx" soup, add 1 cup of milk to the recipe.

Slow Cooker Tuna Noodle

2-1/2 c elbow macaroni
1 14.5oz can cream of celery soup (not condensed)
1 14.5oz can cream of mushroom soup (not condensed)
2 6oz cans tuna (low salt if available)
1/2 c bread crumbs, browned in a little butter so they are crisp (croutons would be ok, too)
1 c frozen green peas

Combine the macaroni, soups, and tuna in a greased slow cooker (it may stick badly if it isn't greased). Cover and cook on High for 2-3 hours, or Low 7-9. I have found in my slow cooker that it cooks rather quickly, so be prepared.

Stir in the frozen green peas (they'll thaw quickly), sprinkle with bread crumbs and serve.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Beet Latkes

Our most recent CSA delivery included, oh yes, more beets. I swear, we have had the most varied diet this past summer by being exposed more veg like this. It helps that they are such a beautiful color! These latkes are best when eaten right away...don't let them get too cold.

4 c coarsely peeled & shredded beets (food processor works great)
1/4 c flour
1-1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cracked black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
oil to fry

Press water out of the beets (note: if you do this with your hands, wear gloves!--I used a spatula and a colander) and set aside. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and pepper. Mix in beets and eggs.

Fry in 1/4 c amount, spread to about 3-4 inches round and cook 4-5 minutes on each side. Serve with sour cream and more cracked pepper.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lentil, Potato, and Green Pea Curry

I remember hearing the word "curry" for the first time in fourth grade, and tried to guess just how it could taste. In northeast Iowa during the 80's, there really wasn't a lot of Indian food around. Not surprisingly, I have never actually tasted curry as I had imagined--I would no doubt need to taste test numerous authentic versions before finding something as deliciously close!

In the meantime, this recipe has become a staple at our home. It's not exactly the same as going to a restaurant, but it is quick to make. The trick is to cook a bunch of lentils at one time and freeze them; they are easy to thaw out and make the dish much faster to put together. My other recommendation is to buy some really good Indian curry paste. It's worth the price if you plan to cook dishes like this often, as a jar can really go a long way.

You could easily substitute chicken or beef (fish? not sure) for the lentils; just brown/cook and add when you would normally add the lentils. For the peas, you could mix them in with the rice (as shown) or with the curry itself. They'll cook quickly either way.

2-1/2 c cooked brown or red lentils
1 onion, diced
1-2 T oil
2 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
2-4 T Indian curry paste (depending on how hot you want this to be)
1 T Indian curry powder
1 tsp sugar
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 c frozen green peas

Begin by getting the rice going; basmati is fantastic with this dish, but short grain or regular white rice would be okay too.

Secondly, put the diced potato into a microwave safe bowl, and add a little water. Cover and cook 5-10 minutes until cooked about 90% of the way. This will save you time later on the stovetop.

Now, to begin the curry. Carmelize the onions in the oil. When browned, add the curry paste and curry powder. Cook about 1-2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, cook another 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils and potatoes, simmer for 10 minutes or so. Add frozen peas and turn off the heat after about a minute.

Serve with the rice.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Corn Muffins

These were a great addition to last night's southern comfort meal: bbq tofu, Korean-inspired collard greens, and baked potatoes. The original recipe called for cornmeal--all I had was quick cooking polenta--and it worked well. Either could be used.

Corn Muffins
1 c flour
1 c cornmeal or quick polenta (not instant)
2/3 c sugar
1 tsp salt
3-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 c milk
1/3 c veg oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine dry ingredients; in a separate small bowl, combine egg, milk and oil. Add wet ingredients to dry, and mix until just combined. Pour into a muffin pan (12-count) and bake 15 minutes.

Sunday, September 16, 2007



Today I spent the afternoon in the kitchen, which was not a bad thing. Somehow, cooking usually centers my mind and the week ahead feels much easier to deal with. The added bonus is that most of this week's dinners are prepped and that means less time after work making food. I've read up on the once-a-month-cooking concept, but have not jumped on the bandwagon entirely; it seems to me that this method of cooking would be a bit limiting to me. I've got cookbooks on my nightstand and bookmarked foodie sites for constant inspiration—I'd change my mind far too often. So, I thought I'd start with once-a-week-cooking (kind of).

This barbecue sauce is from the book I Like You by Amy Sedaris. The original recipe must have made a barrel of sauce; my smaller version gives me almost 20 oz or so. Its name is Vulgar Barbecue Sauce....her reasoning was, it's so good it's vulgar. Who could mess with an amazing name like that? I plan to use this later on in the week with fried tofu, collard greens (from our CSA--never had them before!) and maybe some cornbread.

1/4 c butter (half a stick)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small poblano pepper, finely chopped (or regular green pepper)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tsp tobasco sauce
1 tsp chili powder (more if you like)
1 c apple cider vinegar
16 oz ketchup (not catsup...he he)
3/4 c brown sugar (white would work ok if you're out)
2 T worcestershire sauce
sea salt & pepper

Melt butter in a medium size saucepan, and saute onion, garlic, and poblano/green pepper. When the onion starts to look translucent, add the rest of the ingredients and stir to blend. Simmer this for 45 minutes, stirring every so often (otherwise, it will stick to the pan). Bottle in a jar or other container and keep in the fridge.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Ten Nectarines

I'm a big fan of nectarines, more so than possibly any other fruit. Nonetheless, when our last CSA delivery included ten of them I knew I wouldn't be able to eat all of them before they went bad (and I knew John wouldn't... he has an aversion to stone fruits). Fortunately, I found some fantastic instructions on how to freeze them for later use on ice cream, pound cake, etc.

The process itself was a breeze; no cooking or making sugar syrups. Biggest lesson learned? Nectarines are very delicate, and bruise easily. Once you've got a bruised part, it turns a dark color and gets mushy. I used fresh grapefruit juice for the fruit acid part (it was all I had on hand that would work) and cane sugar. I'll be reporting back when it's snowy outside and I'm still enjoying some nectarines.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Spaghetti and Meatballs


When I asked John, what should I write about spaghetti and meatballs?... The response I received was “They're SO good..." And, simply put, that is the best way to describe this classic dish. I usually purchase a jar of marinara sauce, but this time I happened to have a bunch of fresh tomatoes. What to do? Make sauce, of course.

Slow-cooker Marinara Sauce
6 fresh tomatoes (peeled, seeded, chopped)
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1 T tomato paste
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
sea salt & pepper (to taste)

Cook onion & red bell pepper in olive oil until softened. Put this, the tomatoes, and rest of ingredients into a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. You may need to add a little more water to this, depending on how juicy the tomatoes are; the mixture could dry out. After the full cooking time, puree the mixture (if you don't like chunks) in a food processor and keep warm. You could also add other veg to this, like zucchini or carrots.

1 lb ground beef
1 c fresh bread crumbs
1 T dried parsley
2 T parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 egg
sea salt & pepper

Mix and form into 1-1/2" balls. Brown in a skillet. Mix with marinara sauce in a saucepan and heat thoroughly until the meatballs are cooked through.

Serve over spaghetti!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Bright Shiny New Toy

“Fear not the pressure cooker!” These very words wandered through my mind as I made my first, uh, pressure-cooked food item. Given to me as a birthday gift (thanks mom and dad!) this item really did feel like a new toy. Nothing to be afraid of--no one should ever have to run from a kitchen tool (except dull kitchen knives, they're certainly scary).

Our first playtime session together was cooking dried black beans, done in (total time) about 45 minutes. I was so worried the pressure would cause the cooker to explode in my face or blow up our building. However, all turned out just fine. They were the best black beans we'd ever tasted, surely surpassing the canned variety (not to mention at a fraction of the cost). The instructions I used were in the manual that came with the cooker, and it worked perfectly.

My second adventure was with chicken stock, and I swear this is the best way to make it. I've been converted.

Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock
bones & bits from 1 rotissiere chicken (no skin or icky fatty parts. yuck.)
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 small onion, sliced into quarters (leaving the skin on gives the stock a nice golden color)
a few peppercorns
1 bay leaf
enough water to cover the ingredients
(you could also add 1 tsp salt, but I prefer to add that later on when I'm making soup)

Put all ingredients in the pressure cooker, secure the lid, and put on the little topper. Once the little topper (or whatever it's called) on the pressure cooker starts to wobble, set a timer for 15 minutes. After this time period, remove the pot from heat, and follow your cooker's instructions for decreasing the pressure inside the pot. I run mine under cold sink water.

You'll need to strain this well, as you don't want weird chicken parts ending up in your stock (at least, I don't). Traditionally, cooks use a few layers of cheesecloth over a colander and strain it into a big pot or bowl. I, however, never have cheesecloth on hand and have found that the large fine mesh strainer I use to wash rice works perfectly. Let this strain for about 10 minutes or so, to ensure that all the liquids have drained. Discard the chunky parts.

Let the stock cool down. Once cool, I usually pour it into a container or two (measure it out so that you know how much is in each one), chill in the fridge and then stick them into the freezer. The stock could also be stored in the fridge for a day or two; my problem with this is that I'll forget it is there.

I haven't tried other versions of this yet, but I would think that this process could also produce a tasty vegetable stock or beef stock.

As Iowan as Apple Pie

Yes, count 'em: twelve apple pies! Yesterday at my parent's house was a flurry of apple peeling (Dad's job this year), slicing, pie crust making, and no doubt nibbling. The apples, of unknown variety, were plucked fresh from their orchard just in front of the house. No pesticides or anything; seriously all-natural. I missed out on all this baking (sniff-sniff, damn the six hour drive!), but thanks to Rae there are photos to share!

I don't have my mom's recipe for apple pie written down anywhere, but it is very intuitive and I think I can go on memory. Growing up, Mom, Grandma, and Grandpa would be doing this almost every summer with apples from various local orchards in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Basically, you need to start with a pie crust (purchased or homemade) and some peeled & sliced apples. Toss the apples with a mixure of sugar & cinnamon (and, if I remember correctly, a little cornstarch thrown in?). Place into the bottom pie crust and top with bits of butter. At this point, you could either use a top crust (and make pretty designs with a sharp knife or fork for ventilation) or, as shown in the pictures above, use a crumb topping. Bake until golden brown. One of the best by-products of all this is leftover pie crust, topped with sugar and cinnamon, and baked until done....delicious.

Mom usually stores these in the freezer so that we can enjoy apple pie in the dead of winter. Who wouldn't love that?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Beet Affair


I entered the world of savory tarts with this little gem, carrying in hand a bundle of perfect organic beets (again, from my Fresh Picks delivery). What does one do with beets? It was an adventurous journey, consisting of multiple steps and then misreading the actual baking time—we ended up eating far later than usual. I tend to steer away from intense recipes like this, but all in all it was a good time. John took a peek and (hopefully?) wondered if we were having cherry cheesecake for dinner. “Aw gee, newcomer to this foreign land,” I responded, “it's Beet Tart!”

It was surprisingly tasty, and we both went back for seconds. There was even enough for lunches the next day...and we licked the plates clean (nasty habit, I know). Beet tart, anyone?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Salmon Burgers, Harumi-Style


Oh, my...has it really been so long since my last post? So much has happened in our little corner of the food world. For starters, we received our second Fresh Picks delivery last Saturday filled to the brim with goodies (and from which peach cobbler and rosemary potatoes emerged). I think it has actually changed, for the better, the way we are eating. And, I might add, it is much easier to plan menus around a central group of organic produce and round it out with proteins and starches.

This recipe is adapted from Harumi Kurihara's book and is supposed to also have ground pork in it (I found my copy of this book second-hand; it's apparently a former NYC public library resident). The addition of pork sounds delicious... it is only because of my lack of desire to battle traffic that it was omitted at the time.

12 oz fresh salmon
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 T butter
1 small potato, peeled & chopped
4 oz ground pork
1 egg, beaten
salt & pepper
veg oil

3 T soy sauce
1 tsp chili sauce (or Asian style chile paste--I just used the Louisiana hot sauce I had in the fridge)
1 T lemon juice
sugar to taste
finely chopped cilantro
(other suggested toppings are mayonnaise & freshly cracked black pepper, or pesto)

Remove bones and skin from salmon (or, better yet, buy it that way). Chop finely until it is almost ground.

Microwave potato until cooked, then mash and cool. Do not add milk or butter or anything like that. Meanwhile, saute onion in the butter until softened, but still somewhat crisp. Cool.

Mix salmon, pork, onion, potato, beaten egg, and season with salt and pepper. Fry in veg oil in batches (makes about 10-12 burgers). About 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on how large you made them.

While the burgers are frying, mix together the dressing ingredients. To serve, spoon dressing over the burgers .

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Kimchi-Tofu Soup

I've been interested in Korean dishes the past few days; this soup is made primarily of kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage...spicy!) and tofu. It's really easy to make, and there are a variety of different kinds of kimchi in grocery stores. Some are spicy, some garlicky, and others very mild. Serve this over rice and it's a meal in itself.

5-6 cups chicken stock (homemade!)
1/4 c soy sauce
1-1/2 c kimchi, coarsely chopped
1 c mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 c scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp ginger root, finely grated
8 oz firm tofu, cut into cubes (soft tofu will fall apart)

Bring stock and soy sauce in a soup pot and bring to an easy boil. Add kimchi, tofu, mushrooms, scallions, and ginger. Simmer for about 20 minutes (a little longer won't hurt). Serves 4.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Garlicky Shrimp

A simple, easy way to cook shrimp--and very versatile. This is great with crusty bread and a salad.

1 lb shrimp (leave tails on it you'd like)
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
some red pepper flakes
juice of 1 lemon
chopped parsley or cilantro
1-2 T olive oil
1 T butter

Begin by heating olive oil and butter together in a large pan (I use a wok), add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until slightly browned. Add shrimp and cook until pink. Finish be squeezing lemon juice over everything and adding parsley/cilantro. Toss and serve.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Korean Vegetable Pancakes

This past Saturday morning was spent at our local farmer's market in Printer's Row. We bought way more than anticipated, and my bike basket had almost reached maximum load. In a quick decision to use some of the fresh veggies (and give in to our cravings for Korean) I decided to try this out. The dipping sauce is essential...I think these have become a household staple!

Korean Vegetable Pancakes
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 carrot, cut into thin strips
1 zucchini, cut into thin short stripes
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 T sesame oil
2 eggs
1 c flour
3/4 c water
canola oil

Wash & prep the veggies. Mix together flour, eggs, and water. Heat the sesame oil in a pan and lightly stir fry the veggies until tender. Set veggies aside in a separate bowl to cool.

In the same pan (clean off if there are veggie chunks) heat up a few tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat. Place small mounds of veggies in the pan and then pour a small amount of batter over them. Cook on one side until browned, then flip. I found that the pancakes fell apart slightly with this flipping action, but settled together nicely once cooked on both sides.

Keep warm and serve.

Dipping Sauce
1/2 c rice vinegar
1/4 c soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 T sugar
1 T grated ginger root
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Mix together and let stand for while you prepare the pancakes.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Road to Portobella Burgers


Before I type any other words, I must say this: I just finished reading I Like You by Amy Sedaris and it is freaking hilarious. And simply put, awesome. It is probably the best food/cooking/entertaining book I have read in a long, long time. Ms. Sedaris, please start a magazine, too!! Then I may finally subscribe to one.

Okay, now on to the reason for the oddball photo above (I say oddball only because it doesn't do this dish any justice). The other night, portobella mushroom burgers just sounded good. The trick is to marinate it before cooking. As for the toppings--sadly, the only burger-appropriate toppings I could locate in our fridge were goat cheese (yum!) and red onion (passable). Use whatever you like.

4 portobella mushrooms
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 tsp Italian season (I tend to skimp on this--too much can be overpowering)
1 clove garlic, pressed
sea salt & pepper, to taste
goat cheese or other cheese

Clean the mushrooms up, and place smooth-side down on a shallow plate or baking dish. Mix the vinegar, oil, and seasonings and pour over the shrooms. Let stand for about 10-15 minutes, turning over twice to evenly distribute the liquid.

Preheat a grill or broiler to medium-high. If grilling, be sure to brush grate with oil; if broiling, line a pan with foil because this can get messy. Grill/broil on each side for about 5-8 minutes. Brush with more marinade if needed.

For the last few minutes of grilling, add cheese. Serve on buns with more toppings!

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Buckhorn Birthday

It was my birthday this past Saturday--yes, that lucky 07-07-07. That, along with lets-go-camping-together plans a year in the making, brought us to Buckhorn State Park on the Wisconsin River for camping with Brent & Michelle. It was hot. And humid. We were snacks for the local mosquito population, and hauled everything to our campsite with a cart. Climate conditions and bugs aside, though, it was a fantastic weekend.

Michelle made these great little campfire pizzas with an eclectic mix of ingredients (some from the garden, some from a local Polish grocery...the only one in the area). We were licking our fingers afterward and wanting more; I think someone said, “Hey, that's pretty ballsy! Putting that on pizza!"... thus, the little dish was given its name.

Michelle’s Ballsy Pizza
(feeds 4 as an appetizer)
2 Garlic pitas
chopped tomato
chopped mustard greens
chopped mushroom
a veggie bouillion cube
4 big slices Provolone cheese
some butter

Lightly spread some butter on one side of each pita. Then, crumble about 2/3 of the bouillion cube and sprinkle on the pitas. Add chopped veggies, and top each with 2 slices of cheese. Cook on a grate over a campfire, or on a grill until the cheese is nicely melted. Cut each in half and serve to hungry campers.

Michelle was so sweet and made me a birthday dessert as well! They were little shortcakes with raspberries and a liquer on them. The creamy stuff was some sort of Swedish pudding/creme filling. They were served with little bits of filled chocolate. Yummmm......

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Ichiban Eggplant Pizza


What does one do with an ichiban eggplant? I asked myself this very question as I harvested our very first little eggplant. It was almost a sad harvest, as the eggplant had looked so cozy nestled in among the plant's leaves. All's well that ends well, though—this pizza was a delicious solution to the conundrum.

1 japanese eggplant, sliced into 1/8" rounds
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 small head broccoli, cut into slivers
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
4-5 oz goat cheese
2 T pressed garlic
1 T red pepper flakes
olive oil

1 pizza crust

First, toss the eggplant and red pepper with olive oil, salt & pepper. Broil for about 3 minutes, turn pieces over, and broil another 3 minutes (more or less--you want them to be just slightly undercooked). Set aside.

Meanwhile, carmelize the onions in a little olive oil (sprinkle with salt & pepper); when they are browned, add the broccoli and cook for just a few minutes. Do not overcook the broccoli! Remove from pan and set aside.

Heat about 2 T of olive oil in the pan, and cook garlic & red pepper flakes for about 30 seconds. Remove from pan and set aside.

Pre-heat over to 350 degrees.

Now is the fun part, getting your hands into it! Smear the pizza crust with some olive oil. Then, layer on the eggplant, red bell pepper, broccoli, and onion. Dot with pieces of goat cheese. For the final step, sprinkle the garlic mixture over everything.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or when the crust becomes a nice golden brown.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Simplicity of a Scone


The other night I suddenly had a burst of energy and decided to make scones! There are so many variations on this, add currants and orange rind...or a touch of maple syrup. I have often mixed together everything except the buttermilk, store in the fridge overnight, and finish it all up in the morning. Minimal effort for a breakfast of fresh scones and hot coffee!

Preheat over to 400 degrees (F)

2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into pieces
1/2 c chocolate chips (or any number of other things!)
2/3 c buttermilk (I've used 2% regular milk too, and it works fine)
1 egg + 1 T milk (mix for egg glaze)
powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar

Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Cut in butter until the mixutre resembles cornmeal. Add chocolate chips, then buttermilk. Be careful not to overmix!

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet. I usually form a flattened circle with the dough, about 8" or 9" in diameter, and score into six wedges. Brush with egg glaze. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

When out of the over, dust with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar, and broil for a couple minutes to melt (I think this step is probably optional...they're just as good if the sugar topping isn't melted). Careful, sugar burns easily!

Enjoy with a hot cuppa really strong coffee.

How to Cook a Tart (by Nina Killham)

It's been a tough week, and maybe it's the call of the sunshine outside but I haven't been very inspired by food lately. Just in time, however, a package was delivered to my door via an indie bookseller in Michigan: How to Cook a Tart by Nina Killham. It's light-hearted, funny, dark, contains way too many references to food...and I found it to be perfect. All I can say is, it is a great summer read and highly recommended.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Teriyaki Experiment


One of my favorite addictions is watching cooking shows on public television. For a couple of reasons (well, principle & price) we don't have cable, so I'm not privy to Food Network programming. However, whether it be Scandinavian Cooking, Oregon foodies or French fast food, I'm perfectly at home in front of Channel 11 on a lazy Saturday.

It was one of those easy Saturdays that I happened to watch America's Test Kitchen, and they were cooking from-scratch Chicken Teriyaki. It looked delicious. If I could smell and taste through a television (a la Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) I'm sure it would have been a heavenly experience indeed.

Now, I don't mind eating chicken but having to handle it raw throws my nerves into a spastic fit. I simply can't stand it; it once mingled with the scent of raw onions on a wooden cutting board and ever since that frozen moment in time I don't cook raw chicken at home (unless absolutely necessary; there's nothing shameful about a rotisserie bird). It was with this revulsion in mind that I chose to make from-scratch teriyaki with tofu. Why couldn't it work? Cook some rice, fry up the tofu, and top with the sauce. The results were fantastic!

Rice, Japanese-style
2 c short grain rice (rinsed under cool water & drained)
2-1/2 c cold water
Combine in a 2-quart saucepan (that has a tight-fitting lid) and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to almost nothing, top it with the lid, and simmer for 15 minutes. After the timer goes off, turn the heat off and let sit another 10 minutes.
Note: Begin cooking the rice before the other stuff, as it takes at least 25 minutes.

Fried Tofu
1 block of tofu, frozen for 24 hours, thawed in the fridge, and then pressed (makes for better texture)
canola oil
Slice the tofu, and sprinkle with a tiny bit of sea salt. Heat oil in a heavy pan, and add tofu. Cook about 3-5 minutes until browned & crisp, then flip and do the same on the other side.

Teriyaki Sauce
In a saucepan combine:
1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
2 T mirin
1/2 tsp corn starch
In a small saucepot over medium heat, combine the soy sauce, sugar, ginger, and garlic. Stir to dissolve the sugar. In a small bowl, dissolve the corn starch in mirin, and add to the pot. Boil for about 3-4 minutes, until reduced and thickened to a glaze-style sauce.

Serve the tofu over rice, and drizzle with teriyaki sauce.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Moroccan Stew


We've decided to try a few new vegetarian entrées, after a disastrous night of hot dogs and potato salad. Sure, the pups were kosher but still processed with plenty of...stuff. Whatever that is.

This Moroccan-ish stew was surprisingly good. I think any vegetables could be used; some of my measurements are very approximate...use what you have and whatever you can get your hands on! Perfect food after a day at the farmer's market.

Moroccan Stew
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chili pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground coriander
1 28-oz can stewed tomatoes with juice (or whole peeled tomatoes, run briefly through a blender)
1 red pepper
1 small zucchini
1 handful chopped cauliflower (more or less)
3 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 c seedless raisins
1 15-oz can chickpeas (or 1-1/2 c cooked)
sea salt & pepper

1 c couscous
1-1/2 c water

Begin by heating the olive oil in a pot and add the cumin, chili pepper, red pepper flakes, and ground coriander. Cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until translucent. Add tomatoes, simmer for 3-5 minutes.

Add the rest of the vegetables, raisins, and chickpeas. You might want to add about 1/2 c water if the mixture seems too dry (keep in mind, as the veggies cook down, they'll release water and the mix will become more "stew-like"). Top and simmer for about 20 minutes.

While the stew is simmering, get the couscous going. Package directions may differ; I buy mine in bulk and use this method. Bring water to a boil, add a dash of sea salt. Stir in the couscous, top with a tight fitting lid, and turn off the heat. Let this sit at least five minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Check the stew for doneness (veggies tender) and season to taste. Serve the stew over couscous.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Asian-Inspired Chicken Salad

In the past, I have had terrible luck making any sort of Asian-inspired salad or noodle dish. The sauce, typically peanuty, usually ends up being too sweet, too salty, or too....nasty. Fortunately, I found this recipe online and have fallen head over heels for the dressing. I've made a few changes, which are reflected below. I'm also envisioning it over noodles with fried tofu or steamed veggies.

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons peanut butter (I used chunky)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons chipotle pepper puree (optional--I finely chopped 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup canola oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 11oz bags salad greens
1/4 pound snow peas, thinly sliced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts

In a medium size jar (with lid), combine vinegar, peanut butter, ginger, chipotle pepper puree, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, and canola oil. Shake well to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl, and toss with dressing.

The salad greens I bought came with little packets of fried wonton strips. Why let them go to waste? They were a delicious addition to the salad—crispy chow mein noodles would work, too. John tried the salad in a wrap and found himself licking the dressing off his fingers once finished!

Summertime Foods (Part 2): Iced Tea

Sunny days and cool drinks are a natural combination. I admit, I'm a bit afraid of making sun tea as I've heard many horror stores about bacteria. Ew. Not one to give up easily, I quickly hunted down and tweaked an iced tea recipe that can be safely made indoors. I used loose tea, since that's what I had on hand (a delicious black tea with dried lemon--on sale!--from Tea Source in St. Paul). Note: I prefer iced tea really strong, and slightly feel free to adjust this recipe to your own liking. A combination of green & peppermint teas works well, too.

4 tea bags, or 3 tablespoons loose-leaf tea in a muslin bag or filter (your choice of tea)
2 cups fresh cold water
1/4 cup sugar
Additional fresh cold water
lemon slices & ice cubes (optional)

Place tea bags and sugar in pitcher or jug. Bring the two cups of water to a rapid boil, and pour into the pitcher. Let this steep for 20-30 minutes (the first time I made this, I think I forgot about it and it steeped for about an hour... whoops). This makes the “concentrate”, and can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Remove the tea bags, and add enough fresh cold water to make about 2 quarts. Cover & refrigerate before serving. Serve with lemon slices and ice cubes. This makes about 8 servings of iced tea.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Summertime Foods (Part 1): Black Beans

Each day this week, the temperature has increased a few degrees and I'm scrambling to collect recipes that require little to no actual heat. I'm not into the raw food lifestyle, so mostly I am paying attention to dishes that can be grilled or salads hearty enough to be a main dish.

We eat a lot of black beans. In fact, I rarely buy any other variety. Once I have a pressure cooker, I'll be cooking them myself but in the meantime they must be purchased in cans. An absurd thing I noticed one day was the addition of high fructose corn syrup or other additives in canned beans. Why?? Fortunately, the store we shop at has its own organic brand (only a few cents higher in cost), which has only the addition of sea salt and water. Perfect.

An amazing black bean salad recipe can be found at Simply Recipes; we had this a few nights ago (made without any changes to the original recipe) and there were no leftovers to spare. It is delicious, and with the exception of the beans, mostly raw. I served this with grilled sweet potatoes and it was sooooo great on a warm evening.

I'm very excited about my recipe below, but it makes sense on a hot day only if the patties are grilled. I've tried a few burger recipes in the past, and usually they are tasteless with a weird texture. These are fresh tasting and hit the spot:

Black Bean Patties
1 15-oz can black beans (drained & rinsed, mash with a fork)
about 1/2 c shredded carrot
1/4 c red onion, finely chopped
small handful of chopped cilantro
3/4 c frozen corn (rinse under cool water to defrost slightly)
1 egg
fresh bread crumbs, as needed (around 1-1/2 c)
few dashes of Louisiana hot sauce (suit to your taste buds)
sea salt & black pepper for seasoning

Combine all ingredients, adding bread crumbs as needed. Season to taste. Form into patties, should make 5-6 depending on the size. If it's hot out: grill 2-3 minutes (or as long as necessary) until nicely browned. If it's cool enough to make them indoors, fry in a skillet with a few tablespoons of veg oil for 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve like a regular burger!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Potatoes Yayoi & The Furry Bandits

Before a pack of raccoons pillaged our campsite at 3 a.m. and stole the butter, ice, and a granola bar still in its wrapper, we were cooking with a campfire in Giant City State Park. It took a few hours to get the campfire going (somehow, we got it started without lighter fluid) and enjoyed delicious grilled apple/chicken sausages and these lovely potato packets. I call them Potatoes Yayoi, in honor of my friend who first taught me how to make them. She told me that this was how it was done in Japan when cooking over an open flame, and it is the ultimate easy campfire food. They literally melt in your mouth.

Potatoes Yayoi

1 campfire
1-2 sweet potatoes per person, plus enough foil to wrap each into a little packet

Cut a slit into each sweet potato, and wrap tightly in foil. I tend to do this burrito-style. If I remember correctly, Yayoi said to add butter before grilling, but I have found that it works fine without doing this. Place the packets in the hot embers of the campfire, and forget about them for 1/2-1 hour. Use tongs to remove them (obviously, they’ll be hot) and if they seem squishy in the packet, they are done. Open carefully, and place a big dollop of butter into each one. Be generous with the butter—camping is no time to start dieting. Yum.

The next morning, after discovered the bandits had made off with a few items, we set off to our favorite downstate cafe, Long Branch Cafe (100 E. Jackson St, Carbondale, Illinois—sorry, no web site). This place is vibrant and puts most other casual organic vegetarian places to shame; the coffee rocks and the ambience makes me want to live next door. I enjoyed an omelet with tomato, spinach, and herbed cream cheese (complete with biscuit) and John had a soysage & egg buttermilk biscuit with vegetarian gravy. My mouth is watering again just thinking about it.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Salmon Croquettes


As a kid, I remember nibbling on canned salmon and crackers with my mom at the kitchen table. It was (and still is) a delicious tidbit to eat! The thing with salmon is that there are so many different preparations: canned, smoked, grilled, poached, steamed... the list could go on and on. Sadly, it can be difficult to find good-quality fresh seafood in Illinois, so we are left to improvise with everything else (so is life in the Midwest, -sigh-). This is one of the ways I like to eat canned salmon—the herbs and lemon are essential. I usually keep an airtight container of fresh bread crumbs in the freezer, and then discovered Panko crumbs at the Chinese grocery store down the street. They are sooooo much better, but in all honesty either one will work fine.

It's become a tradition in our household that whenever canned fish is opened, the cats get a sampling in their tiny dishes. I swear they are purring as they eat it.

1 15-oz can salmon (bones removed)
2 eggs
small handful chopped cilantro (parsley works, too)
juice from 1 lemon
sea salt & cracked black pepper
1 bunch green onions, chopped (white part only)
Panko or fresh bread crumbs
oil for frying

Mix the first six ingredients, adding enough of the bread crumbs to be able to form patties (about seven of them). Fry on each side for about 2-3 minutes or until done.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Kabobs in the Dark

My parents visited this weekend, and with all my “oh my goodness we just got a gas grill” enthusiasm we did kabobs. Beef, chicken, and salmon... why stop with just one?! Among bottles of Corona and a red wine from Spain we devoured those tasty little morsels plus some fresh berries. The unfortunate part was that it got dark before we finished the cooking!

I didn’t really follow any recipes, but here are some guidelines to follow with any kabobs. I marinated the beef, chicken, and salmon as follows:

• soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, chopped green onion

• honey, dijon mustard, dash of soy sauce, black pepper

• fresh lemon juice, cracked pepper

We skewered them with red onions and mushrooms, I think next time I'd add in red bell pepper and tiny potatoes. There are so many other marinades to try too... my vegetarian tendencies go out the window with stuff like this!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rocks. Chick'n. Quorn....

This weekend, we were supposed to be in southern Illinois. We were supposed to be camping in the rugged Trail of Tears State Forest, at the southern end of the Ozarks. We were supposed to be eating eggs cooked in a cast iron skillet over a camp stove. We were supposed to go without a shower for three days and smell like nature. However:

The forecast was for rain...and lots of it. As far as I know, it is STILL raining as I write this Sunday evening. As you might have guessed, we ended up staying in Chicago.

Not that it was so bad....but yesterday we tried to console ourselves. We could have been hiking through beautiful terrain and drinking late night wine in the forest. Instead, we found ourselves measuring concrete once again with our hiking shoes as we passed Starbucks. Ugh. And we made up a ridiculous song about rocks, chick'n, and quorn. Every verse was the same....

A bright little shiny part of our weekend (literally) is our new tabletop gas grill. This means that grilling on our super windy deck is now possible! Our beloved charcoal grill just wasn't going to cut it anymore for a time-efficient evening meal. Tonight it is perfectly cool outside and we are both happily remembering that we have tomorrow off. We're grilling quesadillas and inhaling guacamole.

Black Bean Quesadillas
1 15-oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 bell pepper (red or orange), chopped finely
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
1-2 c shredded cheese (we used pepper jack)
5-6 12" flour tortillas
vegetable oil (for grilling)
Combine ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Season with salt & pepper.
To make quesadillas, brush one size of tortilla with vegetable oil. Turn over, and spread a layer of filling on one half. Fold in half, and place on a hot grill. Grill 1-2 minutes on each side. Repeat with remaining tortillas. We usually cut each of these into 3 wedges for easier eating.

2 avocados
juice from 1 lemon
juice from 1 lime
1 T chopped red onion
1 tsp sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1 Roma tomato, chopped finely
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped finely
Mix all ingredients together, and keep the avocado pits in the guacamole to maintain that beautiful green color. Chill (if you can wait) and serve.

After tonight's meal, we came to the conclusion that this may just be the first of many hot weather staples.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Green Weekend (and a graduation)

We spent last weekend in my nativeland for Rae's college graduation (B.A. Biology from Luther College; soon she'll be off to post graduate study learning to make body parts... er, prosthetics!). It was fantastic to hang out with my family for a few days, and even with the high energy that is always part of a graduation weekend we enjoyed quite a bit of the area's tranquility (something we can't get in Chicago). Above is a picture of John holding a little piece of Iowa.

Brent, Michelle, John and I went for a little walk before the graduation ceremony to Twin Springs: cool, serene, and beautiful.

This is Mom's new vegetable garden, it's fantastic! It's in an area on the acreage that gets plenty of sunlight, and in no time it will be bursting with veggies. Fortunately, the pups Lucy and Ollie haven't made their mark here....

Cucumber seedlings, freshly sprung from the garden. They are so sweet, and so tiny. Isn't it crazy to think about how food begins?

I counted about five of these big guys over the weekend, they're huge. And loud, I might add.

A cozy nest was spotted in one of the evergreens lining the acreage my parents live on. Tiny morning doves are taking a nap.

These two, a little older, were a riot. In peeking in at them, they froze as if stillness would hide them from our curious eyes. I wonder what they are thinking.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sweet Potato Fries

Oh, yeahhh....sweet potato fries. Sometimes there is just nothing better. Even if you don't like sweet potatoes, they're worth trying. A co-worker of mine suggests adding dried dillweed, but I think they are just fine on their own.

1-2 large sweet potatoes (or yams, if that's what is available)
olive oil (or butter)
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the sweet potato into strips or wedges; be sure to make them as uniform as possible for even cooking.

Spread on a baking sheet or 9” x 13” pan, and drizzle with olive oil (about 1-2 tablespoons; if using butter, dot the potatoes with bits of butter). Sprinkle with salt & pepper, and toss to make sure everything gets coated. Place in the oven.

They'll probably take 45-60 minutes to bake properly...seriously, though, this is one dish that I can easily forget about as long as the timer is on. I like them crispy, but take them out whenever they are easily pierced with a fork and done to your liking.

Leftovers rating: High. Delicious anytime.

(Almost) Faux Paella

Okay, this really isn't paella at all. There isn't even seafood in it (though there could be...maybe I'll use some shrimp next time). It's “almost” in that there is rice, a little meat, some peas, and some seasoning... and, well, that's about it. It was almost 90° today, and I came home from work looking for a quick and easy food fix. This is great on its own for a light meal, or combine with salad or another side dish.

1 box Spanish rice mix (I used Near East brand)
1/2-1 c cubed ham
1 c frozen peas

Cook Spanish rice according to the package directions, and add ham near the beginning of the process. Once the rice is cooked, stir in frozen peas and cover for a few minutes until they thaw. Fluff the rice with a fork and eat!

Leftovers rating: High. Why not?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Meet Simon on Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day! I called my mom earlier today, and she woke up to a happy surprise: my dad built a vegetable garden for her and brought her breakfast in bed. sweet! I'm planning to get a few pics of the garden when I visit next week. She's been digging in the dirt all morning now (one of her favorite pastimes) and has a few tomato plants and some pole beans firmly in the ground.

On a non-gardening note (but related to eating)
this is Simon the Squirrel. In some strange way, he has become part of our lives and munches happily on nuts whenever possible (we have to ration the nuts, as I worry he'll become too dependent on us). Simon talks to us with his body language, and it is absolutely hilarious (everything seems to translate to “I want a nut”). Fortunately, he gets along just fine with our other deck inhabitants...crows are nesting on the east side, sparrows to the west, and we keep seeing a male cardinal that must be living in the vicinity as well. Oddly, Simon likes to dig near the romaine lettuce plants but won't actually uproot them. Sign of affection? Neuroses?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Tomato Blossoms

The three tomato plants are all blossoming, and a couple of pea-sized fruits are budding out. I'm experimenting with the Topsy Turvy tomato planter my mom gave me a couple years ago; the plant is upside down and it is supposed to be a way to grow the veg (fruit?) without stakes. So far, so good, though at the time the seedling itself was almost too big to insert properly into the contraption...note to self, don't squish tomato plant to the point roots break. Lesson learned.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Roasted Vegetable Wraps with Goat Cheese


Happy May Day! We decided to celebrate the occasion with roasted vegetable goodness (I'm sensing a theme this week with wrapped items, too....) and came upon a substantial log of Vermont goat cheese at the grocery store. The wraps themselves only require about 4 ounces (or less) of the cheese, so now I'm on the hunt for ideas to make use of the rest of it! This recipe is really just “a little of this, and a little of that” and it can be easily modified.

1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced on the diagonal
2 medium sized portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 small bunch asparagus
6 wraps
3-4 oz goat cheese
juice of 1 lemon (optional)
sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss vegetables with a few tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet or 9x13 pan, and roast for about 30 minutes (the exact time will depend on your oven as well as how thick/thin the vegetables are).

When finished, drain in a colander to remove the excess moisture (otherwise, the wraps will be a little soggy). Put some of the vegetables on a wrap, squeeze a touch of lemon juice over them (optional), and add a little black pepper. Slice a little goat cheese over the top. Fold the wrap burrito-style and cut in half for easier eating.

Leftovers Rating: Medium/Low. The vegetables lose some of their flair, but it's fine for lunch the next day.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Mother Earth Gardens


We spent last weekend in the lovely Twin Cities visiting Brent & Michelle. It didn't take us long to fall in love with their neighborhood, and they took us to a few places we are still dreaming about.

The first adventure was to Mother Earth Gardens, where Michelle also happens to work. I have never been to a more serene and carefree garden shop. They made it easy to want to grow-your-own; we walked away with scented purchases of German and Roman Chamomile, Thyme, Lavender and Cilantro.

Turkish Delight & Momos

Brent & Michelle also took us to one of their favorite food haunts: Black Sea Restaurant in St. Paul. The husband-and-wife team running the place were so sweet, I had trouble getting upset when told that the Turkish coffee wasn't available late night (who knew?); fortunately, they had baklava and this great box of Turkish Delight for us to take back to Chicago. Yum!

Yet another restaurant we visited was
Everest on Grand, where we failed to remember the camera but will never forget the momos. Ah, the momos. I think we actually became sufficiently addicted to them in the short time we were there. I vow to learn how to make those fabulous little dumplings...