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I *Heart* Andrea

September 24, 2011

As you may know, we Joneses don’t often follow recipes. However we DO own many, many cookbooks which provide countless hours of entertainment and inspiration!

One recent purchase, Asian Dumplings, by Andrea Nguyen, has provided many hours of tasty delights, unique flavors and inspiring culinary adventures.

One recipe I was dying to try after having read it a few months back is found on page 53: “Nepalese Vegetable and Cheese Dumplings.” One of our favorite restaurants in Madison, Himal Chuli, which serves Nepali cuisine, makes similar Tarkari Momo (the Nepalese name for these dumplings).

Not only are these dumplings one of our favorite dishes at Himal Chuli, Andrea’s recipe begins by heating whole milk and curdling it with lemon juice to make fresh cheese! You know it’s going to be great when the first step in the recipe is to make cheese.

I made a full batch of these dumplings late last night in order to use up some greens from our veggie boxes and to freeze for a later date. The recipe makes 32 dumplings, though I ended up with even more filling leftover and 26 dumplings in the freezer (plus 6 on our plates).

The exotic flavors in these dumplings comes from fresh cilantro, cumin, Sichuan peppercorns, hot peppers, fresh ginger and garlic. I served it with some ratatouille, but any tomato/pepper based sauce that you jazz up with lime juice, hot peppers and other seasoning would be perfect.

Andrea provides great detail in all her recipes, including step-by-step instructions and tips for freezing most recipes. Rather than copying down her recipe here, I’m going to recommend you get the book, or simply explore some new and interesting dumpling recipes – you won’t be disappointed!


Caramel Peaches

September 22, 2011

Erika – What should we have for dessert?
Eric – Ice Cream!
Erika – Eh…
Eric – (shock!)
Erika – I want something warm…
Eric – Fine, I’ll be right back.

Warm, gooey, bursting with flavor. What more do you need?

4 peaches cut in half, pitted, skins removed
2 T butter
1 heaping spoonful of honey
freshly grated nutmeg
2 slices ginger

Melt butter and honey over medium heat, add ginger and nutmeg. Place peaches cut-side down, spoon sauce over top. Cook till sauce browns moving peaches from time to time to prevent sticking. Serve immediately, cut-side up, covered in caramel and garnished with the ginger slice.

Harvest Moon

September 22, 2011

The name of the new drink made more sense 9 days ago when the Harvest Moon was rising, when the drink came into being than as I post it; but who cares.  This drink has a spice that is hard to put your finger on unless you are in the know.  Erika first thought I had brought her some lovely ginger concoction!  The various ingredients play off each other and meld to an delightful depth.  The cocktail is so named as it matched the color of the rising moon on Sept. 12th.

Harvest Moon
2 oz Cane + Abe (or another Dark Rum with a noticeable oak character)
1/2 oz Annisette (or Raki for a drier version)
1/2 oz Triple Sec (preferably a dry, perfumey one like Luxardo)
dash Old Fashioned Bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.

Okra and Pancakes!

September 12, 2011

Our okra is producing like crazy right now and I’m loving it!  The other day for breakfast I caramelized close to a half pound of okra in butter and a pinch of salt to put over pancakes; most delicious breakfast ever (excluding all other ridiculously great breakfasts of course).  Okra takes a bit to get any delicious browning on it, so start it a few minutes be for putting you pancakes on.

8 oz. fresh okra
1 T. butter
large pinch sea salt

Melt butter.  Add okra, stir occasionally, keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.  Salt when it starts to brown a bit.

By weight:
2 parts liquid : 1 part egg : 1/2 part fat : 2 parts flour (any combination of your favorite grains will do)

Mix liquid, egg and fat.  stir in flour (salt and baking powder also if using).  Heat pan with some butter over medium heat.  Cook a minute or two per side.

Top pancakes with okra and drizzle with maple syrup (I prefer grade B for its more robust flavor, especially here).

Epic Tomatoes!

August 26, 2011

Oh man! Is there anything better than in season tomatoes right off the vine? No. There is not.

The excitement of tomatoes (and everything else both exciting and mundane) occurring at a accelerated pass this month have led us to a tomato centric post lacking specificity. Though we believe it will sufficiently inspire greatness. So here are our tomato creations Aug.-2011.

Zucchini Pappardelle:
Basically, thinly sliced zucchini takes the place of fetichini and is topped with peppers and tomatoes! Um, yes please!


August Pizza:
A thin crust (100 grams whole wheat flour, pinch of salt, a bit of yeast and 60 grams water), pre-baked for 2 minutes at 500F on a stone, flipped and in for another 2 minutes. Thin layer of pesto spread across the crust (basil, Parmesan, cashews, and olive oil blended in the food processor) and a layer of sliced tomatoes. A layer of cheese (2/3 mozzarella and 1/3 smoked mozzarella). Then more tomatoes, peppers and chioggia beets. Back in the oven for 10 minutes. Cool for 4-5 minutes. Best. Pizza. Ever.


Tomatoes, cucumbers, celery tops, fresh parsley, almonds, green pepper, garlic, olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Put it all in the food processor, turn it on, then turn it off; done. Thyme for garnish. Enjoyed this with a glass of Antica Formula (yeah, straight vermouth).


Risotto w/ summer saute:
Risotto was cooked in homemade chicken broth. Quick saute of garlic, zucchini, yellow turban, shredded carrots, and tomatoes in olive oil. Enjoyed with a colabritive brew from Mikkeller at nøgne Ø: Tyttebaer, a wild beer with lingonberries.


Dried tomatoes!
Drying tomatoes is the greatest thing to ever happen to a preserver. If you are trying to can enough tomatoes to last the winter, buy a dehydrator, you’ll be so happy! They are like candy and make amazing sauces. Plus, you can turn the dry tomatoes into powder, add a bit of liquid and spread it on winter pizzas; the result is far superior to paste as it is processed at a far lower temp and reatians much of its August character!


Tomato-Melon Salad:
Watermelon is the perfect foil for tomatoes; no joke! Quartered small tomatoes, balled watermelon, cubed cucumber, chopped onion and olives, crumbled feta tossed in olive oil and a bit of vinegar and lime juice, plus salt an pepper.


5 minutes meal:
Move over Rachel Ray, I’m taking over with a five minute meal! Cube tofu, cucumber, and tomato; chop dill. Heat oil, brown tofu. Add tomatoes and cucumber, sprinkle with salt and pepper; heat through (20-30 seconds). Turn off heat, add dill; stir. Serve.

Cydonia Cola

August 26, 2011

As it turns out, cola is an unexpected concoction of botanicals (orange zest, lime zest, lemon zest, lavender, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, and of course vanilla). It is really a delightful flavor that doesn’t have to come in a sugary over carbonated blend from a giant multinational corporation. Nor does it have to be a soda-pop!

Set that aside for a moment.

I make mead (honey, diluted with water and fermented). One of my favorite meads to make is a hydromel (low strength) braggot (mead with malted grain) that vaguely resembles a schwarzbier. I make a gallon of “tea” with 150F water and 1/2 lbs carafa malt (a huskless or debittered roasted malt from Germany); steep for 30 minutes. Put 2 gallons cold water in a carboy, add tea and 6 lbs honey. Stir or shake to dissolve honey. Rehydrate yeast (I use lavin D-47), preferably with Go-Ferm, add to carboy. Using a bit of yeast nutrient (blend of DAP and Fermaid-K) helps things (but not absolutely necessary as the malt adds some needed nutrients); I only use an addition before adding the yeast and after 24 hours for this low gravity mead. See the BJCP mead guide for a complete resource on mead making (BJCP Mead Guide). The resulting mead is something of a chameleon. The vanilla pops when enjoyed with something sweet and the burnt pops when paired with the savory. Moreover, it’s only a scant 3% abv so you can enjoy it for dinner and dessert!

OK, back to the cola. The light vanilla-roast and light fruity esters of the mead, plus the lightly sweet vanilla oakiness of brandy and a bit of sweet herbally goodness from a red vermouth (plus citrus if you use Punt e Mes) and an herbal-orange bit from Peychaud’s bitters results in a remarkably cola-like concoction! Plus it has the bonus of the light natural carbonation of the mead and not leaving your mouth coated with sugar… oh, and the booze.

As for the name, I was listening to Muse when I started this post, and Cydonia Cola sounded way cooler than the term “Adult Cola” that had been kicking around our house for the past few months.

Cydonia Cola
1 oz Brandy
1 oz sweet vermouth (I prefer Punt e Mes here, though Antica Formula or even Cinzano or Noilly Prat will do)
1-2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
5-6 oz Schwarz Mead

Fill high ball with ice. Pour ingredients in order listed. Serve with a stirrer or straw.

Coffin Nail

August 25, 2011

When your night cap leaves something wanting, you need to bring things home in a definitive way.  This beverages serves such a purpose; there’s no where else to go!

Coffin Nail:
1 part Brandy
1 part Fernet Branca
1/2 part Creme de Menthe (do your self a favor and get Marie Brizard or make your own)

Pour into shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into cocktail glass. End your evening.

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