Saturday, December 31, 2011

Welcome 2012; farewell to 2011

As an end-of-year wrap-up, here were the Top 5 blog hits on Lori K's Cafe in 2011. Some of them are from previous years; clicking on the item will take you to the original post.

15 food trends for 2012 (109)

A fluffy cloud of a crabcake

Crabcakes come in many guises. Most of the ones you get in restaurants are heavy on the breadcrumbs and light on the crab, maybe with a little celery for crunch and red bell pepper for color. Many also rely on mayonnaise for creaminess. All in all, not a very nutritious or inspiring dish, although because we love crab, we keep ordering them, hoping that one might rise above the rest.

But anyone who really loves crab and crabcakes should find a copy of Tom Douglas' "I Love Crab Cakes! 50 Recipes for an American Classic." (Get the hardback; you'll be using it a lot if you truly love crabcakes.) It was there I found Thierry's Dungeness Crab Cakes, which are crab — seasoned lightly with black pepper, minced garlic, shallots, chives and basil — pressed tightly into a round mold, then doused with beaten egg yolks and bread crumbs on each side and fried for a minute on each side until the crumbs are golden. They are served with clam aioli. Now that's a CRABcake. (That recipe can be found by clicking HERE.)

So this week, with Casey's Backfin Crab on special, I tried another recipe from the book, and it too was wonderful. It has the flavors of the Pacific Rim, is light as a cloud and the texture of the crab dominates. The recipe follows.

Side note: In 2011, the Associated Press Stylebook recognized "crabcake" as one word.

Coconut Milk Crabcakes With Lime Zest 
from "I Love Crab Cakes!" by Tom Douglas (Morrow, 2006, 150 pages)
Must Credit Author and Publisher if you lift this off my site! Lori Korleski Richardson
Makes 8 large crabcakes

1 can coconut milk, unsweetened (not coconut water)
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
1 pound crabmeat, drained, picked clean of shell and lightly squeezed if wet
3 scallions, thinly sliced, both green and white parts
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup panko, plus up to 2 cups more for dredging
(Lori's note: Japanese panko crumbs will yield the lightest cakes, but regular crumbs can be substituted. I had neither and ended up using what I had, matzo crumbs, and even they worked well.)
2 large egg whites
Peanut or canola oil for frying
Thai sweet chili sauce
4 lime wedges

Combine the coconut milk and lime zest in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer until the milk is reduced by about one-third, adjusting the heat as necessary. (You should have about 3/4 cup reduced coconut milk.) Transfer the coconut milk to a large bowl and refrigerate until cold.

When the coconut milk is cold, add the crabmeat, scallions, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Stir in the 1 cup panko. Whip the egg whites into soft peaks (when you lift the beater, the whip should keep its shape for at least a moment or two). Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the crab mixture gently but thoroughly.

Divide the mixture into 8 portions, then flatten them into patties. Pour panko so that it covers the bottom of a shallow container. Dredge the patties in the panko, replenishing as needed. If time permits, you can cover and chill the cakes for 30 minutes or more. This will make them easier to turn when you fry them.

When ready to fry the crabcakes, place 2 large iron skillets over medium-high heat and pour in enough oil to coat the bottoms of the pans about 1/8-inch deep. When the oil is hot, shake off any excess crumbs from the patties, add 4 patties to each pan, and reduce the heat to medium. Fry until the crabcakes are golden brown and heated through, turning once with a spatula to brown both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. The internal terature of a crabcake should read 155 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the crabcakes from the pans and drain on paper towels.

Transfer the crabcakes to plates, serving 2 to each person, accompanied by ramekins of sweet chili sauce and lime wedges.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A good deal for good veal

I love veal. One of my uncles raised Black Angus in Wisconsin and he would slaughter a calf or two each year. Although I felt a little sad when eating an animal we had fed and petted, I loved the taste and texture of the meat.

But for years, I never ordered it in restaurants or bought it at grocery stores because of the inhumane treatment of calves at cattle processors. Who could enjoy a nice veal chop when those pictures of calves stuffed into cages so small they couldn't move were dancing in your head? Impossible. So I gave it up.

That has changed now that I know people who raise grass-fed beef and have visited the farms where the cattle are raised. I know they are good stewards of the land and treat their animals right. So once again, I'm eating veal.

Osso bucco is an excellent winter dish, but usually it takes at least an hour and a half to cook. Yes, it is slow food at its finest. But those who need to hurry it up in order to get dinner on the table just need to break out the pressure cooker. It still will take 40 minutes, enough time to make risotto while the meat is cooking. If you don't have arborio rice, it's good with plain rice, polenta or even couscous. But the creaminess of the risotto and the tender, melting shanks are pure heaven together.

Lori K's osso bucco for the pressure cooker
Serves 4

4 veal shanks
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil
2 cups red wine
2 cups veal or beef stock

1/2 fennel bulb, sliced
1 medium onion cut in quarters
1 carrot, sliced
1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp coriander seeds
5 garlic cloves garlic

3 rosemary sprigs 

3 thyme sprigs 

8 sun-dried tomato halves

Season veal shanks with salt and pepper. Brown all sides in hot olive oil in the bottom of the pressure cooker, then take out and put aside. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, allowing the alcohol to evaporate. Sprinkle the vegetables in the bottom of the pressure cooker to form a platform to place the veal shanks. Add the fennel seeds, bay leaf and corriander seeds. Add the stock. The level of liquid should be about 2/3 up the level of the meat. Put the cover on and raise the heat till 15 psi's is reached. Hold that level for 40 minutes. Let cool naturally. Remove and set aside the veal shanks. Pass the vegetables and stock through a coarse mesh using a wooden spoon to squeeze out the liquid from the vegetables. The remaining stock should be boiled down till the desired consistency is achieved and any fat skimmed off.

Serve in a wide bowl on a bed of risotto (see below), rice, couscous or polenta. Add a scoop of the mashed vegetables, top with the meat, and ladle the sauce over all.

Either add the bone marrow to the sauce, or remove the marrow and serve separately with sea salt on toast.

As with most stews, osso bucco will benefit from a day in the refrigerator. This also makes it easier to remove the fat. Before serving, brush the shanks with sauce and glaze under the broiler or in the oven at 500 degrees.

Simple risotto
Serves 4-6

7 cups (appoximately) low-salt chicken broth
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup arborio rice (8 to 9 ounces)
1/4 cup dry white vermouth
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving

Bring broth to boiling, then keep on simmer. In a separate pot, melt the butter and add the rice. Cook and stir until the rice is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the vermouth and stir until the rice is almost dry, then start adding the broth a ladle at a time, cooking and stirring until most of the moisture is evaporated before adding the next ladle. Before adding the last cup, taste; stop when the grains are al dente. Stir in the Parmesan and serve hot.

Sauté ¾ pound wild mushrooms and ¾ cup of sliced leeks in 2 tablespoons butter. Add just before the vermouth.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Taco Bell moves even further from Mexican food

If you like Nacho Cheese Doritos, you're going to love what Taco Bell has in store for 2012: A taco called Doritos Locos Taco with a shell made by Frito-Lay with its Nacho Cheese flavoring.

According to Nation's Restaurant News, Taco Bell chief executive Greg Creed told investors and analysts Wednesday that 2011 had been a terrible year for the brand, thanks to a lawsuit attacking the chain’s seasoned beef and a shortage of new products to help drive traffic.

“We didn’t change our beef recipe or pay the plaintiff one penny, but [the suit] had an impact,” Creed said. “It was very clear that we didn’t have enough innovation to overcome what we didn’t anticipate happening.”

Also look for a Chef’s Signature lineup of "upgraded" tacos and the reformulation of marinades and seasonings.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Goodbye to Staunton Grocery

One of the gems we found on our first trip to Staunton after we got to Virginia in the fall of 2008 was the Staunton Grocery. (To read my review of the place, click HERE.)

 It had lofty goals of being a white-tablecloth place with gourmet food, all locally sourced, but with a casual atmosphere. I think it succeeded well at that. But alas, this email came today:

To our Loyal Guests, Farmers, Supporters & Friends,

Six years ago I moved from New York City to the town of Staunton, Virginia, with a goal. I wanted to create the first farm to fork restaurant in the Shenandoah Valley that was chef driven, locally sourced and with none of the trappings of a traditional fine dining restaurant. I wanted to bring something new to the area and help bill this great town as a destination for dining and agriculture.

In a lot of ways my goal was simple. Cook great food, sourced from the best farmers for appreciative guests and they'll come back. And you all did! In fact at The Staunton Grocery I've had more loyal guests come, more consistently, than any other restaurant I've ever been a part of.

I wanted to make people feel that they were coming home to eat, just with some new ingredients that they may not use regularly at home. Over our five year run there has been a lot of changes, new faces and lots of political and economic change, but we have always managed to keep executing that original goal.

With great sadness in my heart we will be shutting the doors of The Staunton Grocery. Our last service will be Dec. 23, 2011, which is just about five years to the day of our opening. If you are interested in keeping in touch and finding out about the development of new projects please follow me on my new twitter account @chefiab. I am also in the process of developing a blog which will be announced on my twitter page.

For our last two weeks of service we will be offering a 50% discount on our wine list for wine with dinner or "to go." Stop by and fill your cellar with some unique wines from the only award winning wine list in the Valley, most of which is unavailable in wine shops or restaurants in the area. Or stock up on some house made pasta or charcuterie. All pasta's are $10 per pound and pates and terrines are $15 per pound.

I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for all of your kind words, loyalty and continued support of me and my dream. I wish you all of the best in your endeavors and hope to see you again soon where ever I may end up.

Ian Boden
The Staunton Grocery

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pho-tastic opportunity

I think we will attend Lessons and Carols at St. Paul's Memorial Church at 5:30 this Sunday evening, then head on over to Ten for dinner.

 Pho! For One Night Only.......THIS SUNDAY! 
(repost from The Diner of Cville on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 11:27am) 

HANDSOME BOY NOODLES  Handsome Boy Noodles, a pop-up restaurant by Ten-Sushi Chef Pei Chang and friends, will have its first incarnation Sunday, Dec. 4, at Ten’s downtown location.
This one-night-only restaurant will feature noodle dishes, like pho and ramen, as well as modern bahn mi sandwiches. Other plates possibly in the works are dumplings, Korean-style chicken wings and seasonal kimchi.
All profits from the evening will be donated to a charity to be determined.
Menu prices will be low, ranging from $5 to $10 per bowl of deliciousness. No reservations; walk in business only.
Delicious food, cold beer, inexpensive prices.
Ten is on the downtown pedestrian mall, 120 B East Main Street, Charlottesville, VA 22902. The Handsome Boy Noodles restaurant will be open Sunday, Dec. 4, from 6-11 p.m. only.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The secret to a juicy turkey

Lots of people say they hate turkey because it’s too dry. 
The solution: Begin your preparation the day before. 

Start with a fresh turkey. I figure a pound per person, and that's usually enough to have some leftovers.

Cut off the thighs and legs; season and cook separately. I like to boil them in a mixture of duck fat and oil until they are really tender, take the meat off the bone, then crisp it up in a hot oven for a few minutes before serving. You can even cook them the day ahead if you want to do this; it will just require a little more time to crisp up the meat.

Cut off the back and use it to make a nice stock, along with the neck, heart and gizzard. Cook the liver separately.

Get a 5-gallon bucket and line it with a food-quality plastic bag. Pour in a gallon of orange juice mixed with a cup of salt and any seasonings that you like. Put the breast (a 5-gallon bucket can hold two breasts from up to 20-pound turkeys) in the brine overnight.

Thanksgiving Day: Drain and dry before rubbing with oil or butter. Start your oven at 450 degrees and after you put the breast in, turn it down to 350.  Roast until the internal temperature is 165 degrees (about 12 minutes per pound). Do not baste, and keep oven door closed as much as possible.

When the internal temperature reaches 165, take it out of the oven and just let it rest in a warm place that's free of drafts. (If you want the skin to stay crispy, do not tent.) Wait at least 10 and up to 30 minutes. Slice and serve.

It won't look like a picture postcard this way, but it'll taste a whole lot better.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tony, Tony, Tony, what are we going to do with you?

If you didn't catch Anthony Bourdain on Letterman Monday night, you can view a clip of just his segment here. I'm such a fan; if I wasn't so broke after this summer's travels, I would have been first in line to see him at his recent Charlottesville appearance. It made me insanely happy to hear he quit smoking; if he can do it, there's hope for all.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Honey that's not so sweet

Now that we've all been made aware of the potential harm of high-fructose corn syrup, many of us have been looking for products featuring sugar or a better substitute. Unless you're a strict vegan, you might have chosen honey, because it's all natural, right? Maybe.

The problem with honey that comes from places such as China or India is that all the pollen is filtered out. Wait - shouldn't that be a good thing? For people with pollen allergies and such? But when all the pollen is filtered out of honey, which usually involves heating and diluting the honey to force it through ultra-fine filters, the honey cannot be traced to its source. And some of those sources have been adding antibiotics and other stuff to the honey before shipping it on.

Food Safety News tested more than 60 jars bought at various outlets in 10 states and the District of Columbia. The contents were analyzed for pollen by Vaughn Bryant, a professor at Texas A&M University and one of the nation's premier melissopalynologists, or investigators of pollen in honey. The results:

  • 76 percent of samples bought at groceries had all the pollen removed, These were stores like TOP Food, Safeway, Giant Eagle, QFC, Kroger, Metro Market, Harris Teeter, A ;, Stop & Shop and King Soopers. 
  • 100 percent of the honey sampled from drugstores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS Pharmacy had no pollen.
  • 77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores like Costco, Sam's Club, Walmart, Target and H-E-B had the pollen filtered out.
  • 100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions from Smucker, McDonald's and KFC had the pollen removed.

Bryant found that the samples Food Safety News bought at farmers markets, co-ops and Trader Joe's had the full, anticipated amount of pollen.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon is nothing new. Back in 2004, a Guardian newspaper story quoted the operations director of Britain's largest honey packer, Rowse, saying, "The trouble is there are so many places in the world where people are selling dodgy honey. Once you spot a problem area, it moves elsewhere."

To read the Food Safety News story in full, click here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Musical soup

I saw this in a Smithsonian newsletter and had to share this with my cooking friends. The orchestra plays the vegetables in an unusual concert, then makes soup for the audience with them. To read more about this group, click here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

15 food trends for 2012

What will you be seeing in restaurants in 2012? Lisa Jennings in Nation's Restaurant News reported that hospitality consultant Andrew Freeman is predicting the following trends:

  • More modern Thai cuisine Street-style Indian food including the ultra-hot ghost peppers 
  • Grilled cheese 
  • Healthful indulgences 
  • French fries with dipping sauces and fancy cuts 
  • Eastern European food 
  • Wild ice creams with savory flavors like bacon and lobster, as well as vegetables and unusual spices, are appearing in house-made ice creams. Grass and horseradish? Douglas fir? Those are just some of the new flavors that restaurants are offering 
  • Hand-pulled noodles. Celebrity chef Martin Yan plans to open a new concept in San Francisco in February 2012, where a noodle chef will twist and pull lumps of dough into strands of thin noodles using only his hands. 
  • Herbed liqueurs and beers 
  • Stroop, a Dutch dark treacle syrup, used in savory dishes such as potatoes with bacon, apple and grilled chicory 
  • “Snow ice,” a version of shaved ice cream imported from Taiwan

  • Schnitzel sandwiches

  • House-made flavored marshmallows (The posting I did on some savory marshmallows back in May 2010 has been one of the most-accessed pages on this site.)
Lamb belly

  • Goose eggs

  • Douglas fir ice cream pop at Atelier Crenn in San Francisco 
  • The use of crispy skin, whether from pork, chicken or fish. Chicken skin tacos have gotten a lot of buzz lately, and even the New York Times has featured a recipe for them. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Make-ahead apple cake

This cake, courtesy of Diane Phillips, can be made up to a month ahead and frozen; the sauce can be made up to a week before and kept in the refrigerator.

Hot Apple Cake with Caramel Pecan Sauce
Serves 8

Ingredients for cake
2 sticks butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1-1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 tsp. baking soda

3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 tsp. vanilla

Ingredients for caramel sauce 
4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup pecan halves

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup whipping cream

Vanilla ice cream

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch cake pan. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, until well blended. Add flour, spices and soda and beat until just incorporated. Mix in the apples, nuts and vanilla. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove to rack to cool. Refrigerate the cake when cooled. Reheat in 350-degree oven for 10 minutes before serving.

To make the caramel sauce: Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add pecan halves. Add brown sugar and whipping cream, and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce boils and sugar dissolves. Refrigerate for up to a week. To serve, place a wedge of warm cake onto dessert plate. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and spoon hot caramel pecan sauce over all.

Per serving (with sauce and ice cream): 485 cal.; 5 g pro.; 52 g carb.; 29 g fat (15 sat., 11 monounsat., 3 polyunsat.); 115 mg chol.; 177 mg sod.; 2 g fiber; 31 g sugar; 54 percent calories from fat.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Want a stress-free Thanksgiving? Start early

Thanksgiving is a hard concept for the cook in the family: What in the heck is there to be thankful for? You cook and cook and cook, and present a beautiful table, yet in an hour or two, everyone's stuffed and in front of the TV and there are mounds of dishes to be done. Well, I can't help you with the cleanup, but you can take a load off the front end of the production by preparing many of the traditional dishes ahead of time, so that all you really need to prepare on Thursday is the turkey. Here's your timeline: Start cooking Sunday; buy bird Wednesday. Sunday: Make the apple cake and/or the pumpkin ice cream pie and freeze (the sauces can be refrigerated). Monday: Make the Gulliver's Corn. Refrigerate. Tuesday: Make the Curried Cream of Pumpkin Soup and the Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes. Blanch the green beans and make the sauce for that dish. Refrigerate. Wednesday: Pick up a fresh turkey, allowing 3/4 to 1 pound per person. Make stock from the neck and giblets. Make stuffing and gravy; refrigerate. Wash turkey in cold water and dry well; cover and refrigerate. Set the table and cover with a sheet. Take the cake out of the freezer and thaw overnight in the fridge. Thursday: Determine when you would like to eat. Calculate the cooking time, stuff the turkey, place it on a rack in a large roasting pan and bake as directed. If you don't stuff the turkey, put the dressing into a loaf pan and cook it with the turkey for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 45 minutes while you heat the soup, the gravy and vegetable sauce on the stove, and bake the potatoes and corn in the 350-degree oven. Take out the green beans from the fridge. After 25-30 minutes, take out the potatoes and corn and crank up the oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, serve the soup and urge everyone to start without you. Carve the turkey. Remove the stuffing to a serving dish, or slice it from the loaf pans. Toss the green beans with the sauce. Turn down the oven to 350 degrees. Serve and enjoy! For dessert, put the apple cake into the oven 10 minutes before you're ready to serve. Heat up the sauce. Serve up the cake and top with sauce. Or soften the ice-cream pie a bit by putting it in the refrigerator before sitting down to eat, then serve it with its sauce after the meal. Actually, the cake can be made up to a month in advance, and it's good for any fall event. I'll reprint the recipe tomorrow. The rest I'll post the week before Thanksgiving so you'll have time to shop.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What a jerk! Chicken, that is

As I mentioned yesterday, I cooked some jerk chicken for the Canterbury students on Sunday night. I used a turn-of-the-century (2002) recipe from Gourmet (I so miss that magazine, but thank God for

The word "jerk" comes from the Peruvian term for dried strips of meat charqui. Jerk in Jamaica refers to the seasoning (which varies, but always includes allspice, lime, sugar and habanero peppers), the method of preparing the meat (a daylong marinating, in which the meat is poked all over to let the marinade permeate it), and the cooking over fire (unfortunately, I don't have access to pimento wood, which adds extra flavor the Jamaican dishes).

 Given that it was a church dinner in Virginia, I felt that the spice may be too intense for the crowd. So I increased the amount of chicken, scallions, garlic, onion, lime, soy sauce and olive oil by 5, but kept the spices to the amounts shown below. The marinade tasted very hot, and I wondered if just 4 habaneros for 40 people still were too many. But the chicken cooked up to be very juicy and spicy, but not mouth-searing in the slightest, and the students seemed to enjoy it immensely.

Another note: I used our usual barbecued chicken technique to insure that the meat cooked through: I used only boneless, skinless thighs, and cooked them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes before throwing them on the grill.

Jerk Chicken a la Gourmet 
Makes 8 servings


For jerk marinade:
3 scallions, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
4 to 5 fresh Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, stemmed and seeded
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons salt (I omitted this; soy sauce is quite salty)
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons black pepper
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

 For chicken:
4 chicken breast halves with skin and bones (3 pounds), halved crosswise
2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks

Accompaniment: papaya salsa (the papayas looked horrible and I couldn't locate canned, so I went without this) 


Make marinade:
Blend all marinade ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Marinate and grill chicken:
Poke chicken with a two-tined fork all over. Divide chicken pieces and marinade between 2 sealable plastic bags. Seal bags, pressing out excess air, then turn bags over several times to distribute marinade. Put bags of chicken in a shallow pan and marinate, chilled, turning once or twice, 1 day.

Let chicken stand at room temperature 1 hour before cooking.

To cook chicken using a gas grill:
Preheat burners on high, then adjust heat to moderate. Cook chicken until well browned on all sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Adjust heat to low and cook chicken, covered with lid, until cooked through, about 25 minutes more.

To cook chicken over charcoal:
Open vents on bottom of grill and on lid. Light a large chimney of charcoal briquettes (about 100) and pour them evenly over 1 side of bottom rack (you will have a double or triple layer of charcoal). When charcoal turns grayish white and you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 3 to 4 seconds, sear chicken in batches on lightly oiled rack over coals until well browned on all sides, about 3 minutes per batch. Move chicken as seared to side of grill with no coals underneath, then cook, covered with lid, until cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes more.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Poem: Potato Soup

It's been a good cooking week so far: Jerk chicken and moros y christianos for 40 to feed the Canterbury Fellowship Sunday night, salt cod cakes and a salad of feta, Bosc pears, cucumbers and romaine for two at home last night. But before I post those recipes, a poem today from, by Daniel Nyikos of Utah.

Potato Soup
I set up my computer and webcam in the kitchen
so I can ask my mother’s and aunt’s advice
as I cook soup for the first time alone.
My mother is in Utah. My aunt is in Hungary.
I show the onions to my mother with the webcam.
“Cut them smaller,” she advises.
“You only need a taste.”
I chop potatoes as the onions fry in my pan.
When I say I have no paprika to add to the broth,
they argue whether it can be called potato soup.
My mother says it will be white potato soup,
my aunt says potato soup must be red.
When I add sliced peppers, I ask many times
if I should put the water in now,
but they both say to wait until I add the potatoes.
I add Polish sausage because I can’t find Hungarian,
and I cook it so long the potatoes fall apart.
“You’ve made stew,” my mother says
when I hold up the whole pot to the camera.
They laugh and say I must get married soon.
I turn off the computer and eat alone.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Candied bacon - need I say more?

I saw this recipe last week on Jamie Oliver's Facebook page and socked it away for when clementines are back in season (around Christmas). But after watching a food show that featured maple glazed donuts with bacon on top, I dug it out and made the substitution of marmalade for the sugar and clementine juice sauce. I still plan to try the original, but the tartness of the rind in the marmalade (homemade; many thanks to Bettina Blackford for a splendid gift) was a perfect foil to the richness of the bacon.

Lori's candied bacon salad
Adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe
Serves 2

For the creamy dressing:
• 2 tablespoons good-quality extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon nonfat yogurt
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
• 4 slices of thick bacon or a meaty sliced smoked pork jowl
• 1 clove garlic, peeled
• 2 heaping tablespoons orange marmalade
• 1 jigger of Meyer's rum
• 2 large handfuls of mixed salad leaves, washed and spun dry
• 1 red bell pepper, diced
• 1 seedless clementine or mandarin orange, peeled and sliced horizontally
• a small bunch of fresh mint leaves, optional
• freshly ground black pepper

To make your dressing, put all the ingredients into a large serving bowl, whisk together, and season to taste. You want it to be slightly too acidic, so add a splash more vinegar if you think it needs it. Put to one side.

Get a large frying pan on a medium heat, add the bacon and cook until lightly golden (but not really crispy), turning them every so often. Remove the bacon to a plate and drain all but a tablespoon of the fat. Squash your garlic clove and add it to the pan, then turn the heat up a little. Cook until the clove is golden, remove it, then add the marmalade and rum and whisk until blended. Put the bacon back in, being careful not to touch the syrup. Stir the bacon around until it is coated on all sides and gets sticky. Use tongs to carefully remove the bacon to an oiled plate and let them cool.

Grab your bowl of dressing and add your salad leaves. Add the bell pepper and the orange slices. Add your mint leaves, if using, then use your hands to toss and dress everything thoroughly. Lay your candied bacon on top then pass the bowl around the table and let everyone serve themselves.

Wine suggestion:
Californian Fumé Blanc

Cleanup suggestion:
Pour hot water into the pan with the marmalade drippings and soak the utensils until after dinner. Cleanup will be easier.

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Lobster" salad sans lobster

Technically, this blog is on hiatus until I return to Charlottesville in September, but I just had to share this item from

Times-Picayune writer reveals there’s no lobster in Zabar’s ‘lobster salad’

New York Times | Times-Picayune | Bangor Daily News
New Orleans Times-Picayune arts writer Doug MacCash stopped by Zabar’sduring a recent New York vacation and checked out the Lobster Salad ingredients: wild freshwater crayfish, mayonnaise, celery, salt and sugar. “Wild freshwater crayfish? Really? At $16.95 per pound?” he wrote in a Dining blog post. “Zabar’s manager was not available when I phoned for comment.”
The Bangor (Maine) Daily News followed up with a “No Fake Lobsters Allowed” editorial, which reported that the Maine Lobster Council “quickly got on the case” and called Zabar’s president Saul Zabar and told him that federal regulations prohibit deliberate misbranding of food products. The New York Times reports today that Zabar’s has decided to change the name of its “lobster salad” to “seafare salad.” Saul Zabar says:
We really didn’t think that we were doing anything that was not completely up and up, but there was an element that might be confusing, and with all this stuff going on, I decided now’s the time to clarify.
MacCash tells the Times’ James Barron that he laughed when he heard about the name change. “It tickled me to have traveled from New Orleans to New York in order to eat crawfish.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Scallops and a touch of bacon = fast dinner

Here's a delicious way to get dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Lori K's scallop-bacon pasta

4 ounces dried whole-wheat spaghetti
1/2 pound scallops
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cooked bacon bits
1 clove crushed garlic
4 large basil leaves, snipped into ribbons
1 tablespoon snipped parsley
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the spaghetti. Cook for 12-15 minutes until al dente.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and add the bacon bits and garlic. Wash and dry the scallops

You can use the time to prepare a salad: Lettuce, maché, yellow bell pepper, cucumber, radishes, tomatoes, feta.

Stir the bacon bits from time to time.

About 8 minutes after you start the spaghetti, add the scallops to the bacon bits. Cook them until they are just firm, about 4 minutes each side.

Drain the spaghetti; if it looks like it's sticking together, rinse in hot water.

Add the bacon-scallop mixture to the spaghetti and toss. Add the spices and toss again. Serve with salad and bread if you'd like.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bread pudding - a NOLA treat

As you may have gathered from past entries of this blog, I'm not much of a baker. I like to cook, but desserts are not my forte. But I do love bread pudding, and since I haven't found a good prepared one, I do bake one every now and then.

My tips:
  • The bread must be stale. The best bread to use in this has no preservatives. True French bread does not; it's very crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. But really, any stale bread will do. I've used old hotdog and hamburger buns that were frozen for months.
  • Beat the eggs and brown sugar well before adding the milk. Do not add cinnamon or nutmeg to the milk. It will separate. Much better to sprinkle the spices on the soaked cubes and stir.
  • Make sure all the cubes have soaked. Mash them down to make sure they all get contact with the liquid.
  • Do not try to skip a step and soak the pudding in the pan you cook it in. It will stick and stick badly.

I served this with a Bananas Foster topping at last night's dinner we cooked to raise money for our youth group's New Orleans mission. Click HERE for that recipe. It's pretty good without the rum, too. Full disclosure: I forgot the pudding in the oven and it cooked for a little more than an hour instead of 40 minutes. I skipped the browning step. It was still good, or at least people were kind enough to say it was. Also, everything marked optional was not in the bread pudding at that dinner. If you need a recipe that will serve 75, email me.

Lori K's bread pudding for 8-10

4 cups cubed day-old French bread (about a loaf)
3 eggs
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 cups fat-free milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional)
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup pecan pieces (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 tablespoon butter (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.

Whisk together eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl. Blend in milk and vanilla. Stir in the toasted bread and raisins (and nuts, if using). Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour. When soaked, add cinnamon and nutmeg.

Meanwhile, lightly coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish with canola oil or nonstick cooking spray. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Skim off froth and cook until it begins to turn light nutty brown. If it burns, start over.

Pour the bread mixture into the prepared baking dish. Drizzle cooled browned butter over the top. Bake the pudding for 40 minutes, or until firm in the center. Increase the oven temperature to 425°F and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until the top is brown and puffed.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Soy sauce - but not what you think

Soy beans are a super source of protein, even out of the can. But the canned beans, although remarkably tender, are as bland as a corporate memo. To buck them up, I drained the beans and rinsed them thoroughly, then simmered them in Herdez Chipotle Salsa as the rice cooked and the sirloin tip roast finished up on the grill. They were good - and HOT! For a little less spice, cut the salsa with tomato sauce; for a lot less, just add a tablespoon of the chipotle to the tomato sauce.

These may be my new favorite barbecue beans.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A nonfat, no-salt kick for fish and other white meat

Our grill went on the fritz last month, so we've been pan-frying more than usual. But to get the taste of the grill without grilling, I had to get a little creative. Since chipotle is already made with smoked, ripe jalapeños, I hit upon mixing a tablespoon of chipotle sauce with the juice of a half lime and brushing fish, chicken or pork with it before pan-frying. Coat the cast-iron skillet with olive oil and heat it to medium high on our outdoor burner before adding the meat. The Pacific rockfish fillets took about 5 minutes total; the boneless pork chops pounded to about a 1/4-inch thickness took just a little longer, about 8 minutes.

Meat and fish cooked this way is also delicious in soft tacos; before you put the meat on, turn the oven on to 350 degrees. On a cookie sheet, place 4-6 corn tortillas in a single layer, then sprinkle them with cheese (if you are watching your fat content, use veggie shreds or part-skim mozzerella). Put in the oven until the cheese just starts to melt. Cover with meat, jalapeños, lettuce, diced tomatoes and/or guacamole and serve.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Heavenly deviled eggs

Southern Living
One dish that always shows up at our Earth Day dinners at St. Paul's is deviled eggs, because so many people in the Charlottesville area either own laying hens or have a source of eggs from cage-free, free-ranging chickens. I don't know if the eggs are any better for us humans, but the yolks have a deeper color and a single yolk can flavor a half-dozen egg whites for an omelet or scrambled eggs.

Wikipedia notes:
The term "deviled," in reference to food, was in use in the 18th century, with the first known print reference appearing in 1786. In the 19th century, it came to be used most often with spicy or zesty food, including eggs prepared with mustard, pepper or other ingredients stuffed in the yolk cavity.
In some parts of the Southern and Midwestern United States, the terms "salad eggs" or "dressed eggs" are used, particularly when the dish is served in connection with a church function - presumably to avoid dignifying the word "deviled."
Here's my recipe. The measurements are approximate; I usually just add enough mayo to make it creamy, and the capers can certainly be to taste. My garnish of choice is smoked Hungarian paprika.

Lori K's heavenly deviled eggs
Makes 24

1 dozen eggs (make sure they are at least a day old)
1 tablespoon capers, drained
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup of Duke's mayonnaise (more or less)
Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
Paprika (smoked adds a little extra zest)

Put eggs in a large enough pan so that they fit close together but not crowded. Cover completely with cold water and add a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of vinegar (this supposedly helps keep the shells from cracking, and if they do, keeps the whites from oozing all over the place). Bring to a FULL rolling boil, then turn off the burner. If it's chilly, cover the pan. After 25 minutes, transfer the eggs to a bowl of cold water. When they are cool, shell and rinse the eggs, dry, then half lengthwise. Remove the yolks and put them in a bowl. Put the whites on your serving plate; if you don't have indentions, use curly parsley to keep the eggs from rolling around on the plate.

Mash the egg yolks gently and mix the rest of the ingredients except the paprika. It's best if you start with about half the mayo and then add just enough to make the mixture creamy. Fill the egg white cavities with a spoonful of the yolk mixture, then sprinkle with the paprika. Chill, then serve.

If by any chance you have leftovers, chop them up and use them for sandwiches the next day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cookbook giveaway: Food for the Soul

Food for the Soul: A Texas Expatriate Nurtures Her Culinary Roots in ParisMonique Y. Wells should have done a little research before naming her cookbook: It shares a title with at least a half-dozen others. But her subtitle is unique: "A Texas Expatriate Nurtures Her Culinary Roots in Paris."

It could have been an interesting book, and I had high hopes for it. Some of the stories are touching, some shed light on historical events and all are well-told, but they are hard to read, having been placed on pages with stripes. The recipes are defiantly non-French; they could come from any community cookbook published in the South, with a few notes on where to find Crisco and catfish in Paris. Her substitutions are grand: She suggests using the Dutch cheese Mimolette for Cheddar, the outer leaves of young cabbages or broccoli for collards, smoked chicken for ham hocks, TUC for Ritz crackers. She didn't find a substitute for Cool Whip, however.

The full-color photographs by Daniel Czap are professional and mostly on full pages in this large 9x12-inch book. The pastries show off Wells' French cooking school education and are as beautiful to look at as they probably are to eat.

If you'd like this cookbook, which originally sold for $45 in 2000, leave a note below (click on the word "comments") and send me an email ( on how to get it to you.

Here's an example of the recipes in "Food for the Soul."

Makes 10-12 biscuits
Oven: 475ºF

Monique Y. Wells writes: According to my mother, cream of tartar is the key to producing wonderfully light, tasty biscuits. Some of her friends have taken to adding it to just about anything they bake, apparently with great success.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk

Sift the dry ingredients together. Using a pastry blender or a fork, cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour the milk into it. Blend with a fork until the flour is moistened and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. knead lightly (10-12 times), then roll out to 3/4-inch thickness. Using a clean, floured cutter with a sharp edge, cut the dough into rounds. Do not twist the cutter or you will seal the edges and inhibit the rising action. Re-roll scraps lightly to make more rounds. If you want crusty biscuits, place the rounds 1 inch apart on cookie sheets; for soft-sided biscuits, place the rounds just touching into 2 well-greased round cake pans.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A little knowledge = danger

The City Cook, Kate McDonough, often rambles her way to an interesting column, and today's was definitely a winner.

When I left The Sacramento Bee, one of the notes I stuck on my calendar was to keep an eye out for Nathan Myhrvold's cookbook that was in the works. Well, it took three more years, and at $625 for the six volumes, I had neither the budget nor the time to review it when it finally did appear. But I've been keeping up with the press on it, and it's been interesting.

Here's a bit of what Kate had to say today:
In a Q&A about his book in Fine Cooking magazine, Dr. Myhrvold included a recipe from Volume 5, this one for a hamburger. It requires (his words) "...a bun toasted in beef suet; the glaze on the bun is made from suet, tomato confit, beef stock, and smoked salt. Then comes layers of maitake mushrooms and sous vided (Me: is that even a verb?) romaine lettuce that's been infused with liquid hickory smoke. Next, a vacuum-pressed tomato, a slice of cheese made from Emmental, Comté, and wheat ale; and a beef short rib patty that's been ground to vertically align the grain. Next a layer of cremini mushroom ketchup with fish sauce."
Reading this made me want a peanut butter sandwich.
To read the full item, click here. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cookbook Giveaway: Pacific Grilling

Pacific Grilling: Recipes for the Fire from Baja to the Pacific NorthwestIf I had to point to one way Californians are different from the rest of the country, it would be the importance of patio culture. The casualness Californians are so famous for extends from there. The grill is set up for cooking year-round, and used except in the most inclement weather (high winds, heavy rain).

Denis Kelly has captured the essence of this culture in his 2000 book, "Pacific Grilling." It's a small, softcover volume, but it's 239 pages are packed with excellent ideas, techniques and recipes. It has two drawbacks: Softcover books are hard to cook from since they do not easily fold flat without damaging their spines, and it has no photographs, only scattered illustrations by Kurt D. Hollomon.

Kelly wrote, with sausagemeister Bruce Aidells, one of the best books ever on cooking most every kind of meat, "The Complete Meat Cookbook." "Pacific Grilling" also has great meat recipes, but with more of a Pacific Rim flair, and rounds out a cook's meal with plenty of yummy vegetable dishes, numerous ways to grill fish and poultry, and even desserts to grill later as the coals cool a bit.

Here's a recipe from the book for ratatouille, which I've made many times and adore. Ratatouille is extremely versatile and gets even better a day or more later as the flavors co-mingle and intensify. Chopped, it makes a great topping for grilled bread appetizers; rinsed of its dressing and puréed, it can be mixed with a little broth and heated to make a hearty soup. Tip: If you make the marinade in a blender or food processor, it will come out homogenized and creamy.

If you want this book, which is in like-new condition, leave a comment (click on the words below this post that say "0 comments" and it'll bring up a box for yours) and a way to contact you. If you want a copy of the recipe to print out and use, email me. I hope someone who has enjoyed this blog will claim this book that has given me so much enjoyment.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cookbook giveaway: Mod Mex

Mod Mex: Cooking Vibrant Fiesta Flavors at HomeMexican food is among my most favorite cuisines, and it's really hard to give up a cookbook with such delicious recipes for old favorites and new twists, but this week's offering is "Mod Mex: Cooking Vibrant Fiesta Flavors at Home" by Scott Linquist and Joanna Pruess. It has recipes from Dos Caminos Mexican Kitchen in New York.

I know this post is dated April 1, but it's no joke! The book is from Andrews McMeel Publishing, published October 1, 2007, 224 pages and has about 125 recipes. It's hardback and has lots of great photographs.

If you want this week's book, "Mod Mex," be the first to click the PayPal button (Buy Now) below, follow the directions to deposit a payment to my account, AND leave a comment at the end of this blog item with some way to contact you for your address or in case you were not the first one (I have only one copy of each book). I will send the book by Priority Mail. Offer good in the United States only at this time. You don't need a PayPal account, but you will need a credit card to pay with the button.

If this isn't the book for you, keep checking back on Fridays. I offer a different cookbook each week. I'll edit the post to indicate when a book is no longer available.

If you live in Charlottesville, you can save the money by coming to pick up the book. Be the first to leave a comment, with a way to contact you.

To give you an idea of the recipes in "Mod Mex," here is a sample recipe.

Wild Mushroom and Huitlacoche Sopes with Queso Fresco and Tomatillo Avocado Salsa
Makes 12 (2 ½-inch) sopes

The most difficult part of this delicious recipe is actually finding the huitlacoche (also spelled cuitlacoche). This corn fungus, also called "Mexican truffle" or "Mexican caviar," is greatly revered in Mexico. The kernels have a smoky-sweet flavor. It is best fresh or frozen, but it is also available canned from some online Mexican food suppliers. Your best option is to purchase it frozen, but even that may be hard to find. Otherwise, try a trip to Oaxaca in the fall! If you can’t find the mushrooms listed here, use portobellos or any combination of mushrooms that you like.

Sope dough (masa)
1¼ cups corn flour for tortillas
2 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening
½ cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa
½ ripe avocado peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 cup salsa verde

Mushroom-Huitlacoche Filling
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup mixed sliced mushrooms (such as shiitake, cremini, and oyster mushrooms, but any variety may be used)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ to 1 teaspoon ground arbol chile powder
½ cup huitlacoche
1 tablespoon chopped fresh epazote or a combination of flat-leaf parsley and oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup crumbled queso fresco
¼ cup crema or sour cream
3 radishes, trimmed and cut into thin strips

Make the Sopes: In a large bowl, mix together the corn flour, lard, water, and salt, and knead gently until the dough is smooth, about 3 minutes. Roll about 3 tablespoons of masa into a ball, and then flatten the ball using your thumb and the palm of your hand to form a 2½-inch-round disk, approximately ¼ inch thick. Repeat until you have 12 disks. Set aside while preparing the salsa and filling.

Make the salsa: In the jar of an electric blender, combine the avocado and salsa verde, and purée until smooth. Refrigerate until needed.

Make the filling: Heat ½ tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over high heat until almost smoking. Add the mushrooms and ½ tablespoon of the butter and sauté until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, turning often. Transfer the mushrooms to a small bowl.

In the same pan over high heat, stir in the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil along with the onion, garlic, and remaining ½ tablespoon of butter. Reduce the heat to medium and sauté until the onion is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chile powder, huitlacoche, and epazote. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Return the sautéed mushrooms to the pan and cook just to heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 or 3 masa disks and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, turning once, just to firm them slightly. Remove the disks from the pan, let them cool slightly, and then gently pinch the edges to resemble a small tart shell. Return them to the griddle, and continue cooking for 5 minutes more. Remove, wrap in aluminum foil, and keep in a warm oven.

Spoon 1 tablespoon of Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa onto each sope, and then add 2 tablespoons of warm mushrooms. Top with 1 teaspoon of queso fresco, a dollop of crema, and a sprinkle of radishes. Serve warm.

—from MOD MEX, page 24 · Andrews McMeel Publishing