Julia Child inspired coq au vin

Look at the new toy I bought for D and for me last weekend ~

My wannabe chef and Francophile simultaneously swooned. I’ve been working to, and not really kind of attaining a better work/life balance recently, which has allowed me to play around a bit more in the kitchen. (Instead of just allowing D total control of that domain.) I’ve wanted Le Creuset cookware for ages and so am really excited to have finally started a collection. In stereotypical homage to Julia Child, I went with a classic coq au vin for our first meal ~

I went with a combination of a Happy Birthday Julia pin and the Le Creuset recommended recipe. (I used all the ingredients listed on the link, but tested the Le Creuset’s recommended slow cook method. Two and a half hours at 275 degrees provided some really delicious, fall-off-the-bone chicken.) The sauce was good the first day, but even more delicious the next.

I will admit that coq au vin is not in my most favorite French recipes, but along with boeuf bourgignon, salade frisée aux lardons and a few others, I felt like I just needed to know how to cook a classic coq au vin. I’ll definitely be repeating on cold fall and winter days. 


Recipe for fresh citron pressé

Happy labor day, friends! What better treat to close out summer than fresh-squeezed lemonade? 

Well, mine was more akin to the French citron pressé, which actually tastes like lemons instead of just sugar 😉 This recipe was super easy –

~heat 1 quart of water with 3/4 cup of sugar on medium heat

~when sugar is completely dissolved, add an additional quart of water and take off heat

~while the sugar water is cooling, avail yourself of the opportunity to squeeze the heck out of about 15 to 20 lemons

~add sugar water and stir

Serve with lots of ice and garnish with fresh mint or basil. Enjoy!

Roasted okra and vegetarian enchiladas

Per usual, we ate well in the DH household last week. We had a couple of pitfalls, but I’m glad when these happen because we learn to cook better the next time around. Here are some highlights with simple recipes of our culinary adventures from last week ~

Roasted okra. Please don’t judge me by the amount of ketchup I put on my buffalo burger. It’s one of my guilty pleasures.

Roasting is the easiest way I have found yet to prepare okra. I snagged a pound from the market  last week and stored it in a paper bag in the fridge to minimize bruising. (Thanks, Alton Brown, for the tip.) Then, I set the oven to 425 degrees, and spread out the okra marinated in a bit of olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper on a baking pan. About 20 minutes later, we had a delicious side for the burgers and salad with leftover Goddess dressing.

We also enjoyed vegetarian enchiladas last week.

Excuse the half-eaten picture, but this was one of those experiences where I learned *a lot* whilst cooking. So the process itself was definitely not a sight to behold. Now that I’ve done this once, I don’t think it’ll be quite so complicated the next time around. I’d also recommend making the sauce on a Sunday when you might have more time, storing it in the fridge or freezer, and then pulling out as needed. These enchiladas were a bit of a smorgasbord with lots of left-over and fresh veggies from my ecstatic return to the Baltimore farmer’s market last week ~

, but of course you could stuff with any protein you are craving. I chose to sauté these chopped beet greens left over from an appetizer, as well as some cabbage that I needed to use up. I combined it with fresh cilantro (a controversial taste I know, but I never miss an opportunity to cook with it), black beans, corn and shredded cheese. I’m sure you know the drill, but you’ll want to warm the tortillas a bit, then stuff with your chosen ingredients (I did about 3/4 of a cup of of my vegetarian delight), roll up the tortilla, place in a glass baking dish and then cover with the red enchilada sauce ~

In the food processor, you are observing ~

-1 28 oz can of fire-roasted tomatoes

-4 diced jalapeños (roasted in the oven at 400 degrees for about 4 minutes, then seeded and chopped)

-2 cloves of garlic

-1/4 tsp of ground cumin

-freshly ground black pepper to taste

You’re going to want to pulse all this until it’s as liquid as possible (which with our little guy was not all that liquid-y). This did not prove to be a big problem though because what you do next is strain the mixture into a sauce pan with 1 tbsp of olive oil.
Like this ~

You’re going to constantly stir the sauce for 5 to 7 minutes, until it’s about the consistency of tomato paste. Then add 2 cups of chicken broth and allow it to come to a boil. Finally, you’ll simmer the aromatic concoction to allow it to reduce some until it’s the consistency you desire. For me, this ended up being about 10 minutes.

Now you’re ready to pour the sauce over the stuffed tortillas.  Bake for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Here are some tips I found that you shouldn’t follow if you stumble across them as well:

1. Don’t cover the bottom of the pan in the sauce, put in the tortillas, then attempt to stuff and roll them. Embarrassingly obvious after the fact I know, but being the sheep rule-follower I am, I followed this direction. It made no sense and a big mess. Just stuff and roll them on the counter, then place in dish.

2. Don’t feel like you have to get the peppers or chiles the recipe you find calls for. Go with your preferred level of heat. That’s why we did jalapeños.

3. Don’t brush the tortillas with olive oil and put them in a 500 degree oven for 10 minutes. D warned me on this one but refer back to #1 to see why I followed the direction. We did get delicious tortilla chips, but they were not roll-able enchiladas.

Of course, the sauce is the most labor-intensive part, but if you like avoiding preservatives and have a little bit of time, I think it’s well worth it. What did you cook last week?

Easy summer recipes for soft crabs and green goddess dressing

We spent our weekend relaxing and eating. After what seems like every weekend out of town for two months straight, it was nice to stay around before I started my new job (!) today. On Friday, D made a true Maryland specialty, soft crabs. They were de.li.cious.

His recipe seems rather simple to me (although I am no expert at frying). I think you can do it easily, too, if you have access to fresh, local, soft crabs where you live. Follow these couple of instructions.

~ dredge each crab in a combo of 50/50 all-purpose flour/corn meal mixed with Old Bay Seasoning and some salt (this will help the egg wash stick)

~ douse each soft crab in an egg wash

~ then coat each one with the mixture of Old Bay-seasoned flour/cornmeal again (double dredging gives a nice crispy coating)

~ insert into a medium-hot pan with enough oil to cover the pan and with enough extra oil to provide a bit of depth, no more than a centimeter

~ allow the crabs to sizzle on each side for about 5-8 minutes (depending on heat) until crispy brown on both sides; the crab cooks quickly, but the coating needs some time to get crisp

~ drain excess oil off the crabs on a paper towel

~ put on toasted rye bread with liberal mayonnaise, Romaine lettuce and local tomatoes. The perfect summer treat.

I struck out a bit on my recipe for the weekend, well, at least on the delivery. I loved this pin that used peppers as the vehicle for dip ~

, and decided to do the same for our outing to a to a vineyard Saturday evening with some other couples. I figured this would be the perfectly pretty vehicle for munching on crudités dipped in homemade Green Goddess or good ole’ Ranch. When the purchased peppers did not properly stand up on end, I sliced off the bottoms without, admittedly, thinking at all about the repercussions. In my defense, the thick Ranch stayed in place. Having made Green Goddess for the first time, I didn’t think about how much runnier it was than the Ranch. Let me amend that statement. I didn’t think about it for the split second between pouring it into the bottomless pepper and then observing it promptly running right back out the bottom and all over the platter. Woopsie. D smartly spatula’d the dip into a bowl and, understanding my sometimes over-obsession with everything being “pretty”, he placed the bottomless pepper (yellow of course since it would have green dressing in it, pretty color contrast) into a small-ish pinching bowl. Covered as the rest of the platter was in veggies, you almost couldn’t see it. Now I am all the more wiser for the next time I should desire to insert dip into a pepper. Also, people, consider the utility of Tupperware style dishware when transporting to a picnic at a vineyard as opposed to platters with runny dip. Just a few words from the wise.

All of the minor snafus aside, the Green Goddess was divine and we have enough for salads for the week. It’s a Barefoot Contessa recipe (seems like everything I like to make is), and given my basil is growing the best of all my herbs this summer, we shan’t be wanting for it this winter. (I plan to freeze and take out for a taste of summer all winter long.)

Herewith, the Contessa’s easy to follow instructions, which I found here. I substituted 2 % Greek yogurt for the sour cream to make it a bit healthier. ~

  • 1 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (6 to 7 scallions)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream


Place the mayonnaise, scallions, basil, lemon juice, garlic, anchovy paste, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the sour cream and process just until blended. (If not using immediately, refrigerate the dressing until ready to serve.)


Link love

My favorite links of the week include ..

… an easy pickle how-to from Anthology Mag ~

… some super cute Japanese washi masking tape to spruce up any wrapping job ~

some stunningly perfect pink peonies ~

… an intricately beautiful mosque ceiling in Isfahan, Iran ~

… these cheeky neon planters from an Etsy shop ~

… this child-like reminder to keep the magic alive ~

… and this office gallery wall. I never get tired of them!

What have you stumbled upon this week?

How to: sweeten up Greek yogurt without too much sugar

I love Greek yogurt in all its forms ~

yummy tzatziki, photo via {here}

a healthier version of a baked potato with sour cream, photo via {here}

or less artery-clogging than mayonnaise based tuna salad, photo via {here}


But, in the summer time, my favorite way to eat Greek yogurt is definitely with whatever fruit is yummiest and sweetest that particular week. Recently, though, I’ve been feeling less than enthused about this breakfast, mostly because the acidity has been a bit overpowering. Do you know what I mean? I don’t like any of the traditional yogurts (since they cost you minimum 20 grams of sugar a pop and usually include high fructose corn syrup) and so couldn’t switch to those. In a rare epiphany moment, I found the perfect solution yesterday afternoon:

-Add 1 part any type of whipped cream (usually under 5 grams of sugar per serving) to 2 parts yogurt. Slice up your preferred fruit (I can’t get enough of peaches and plums the past couple weeks) and enjoy! The sweet we all crave minus the yucky preservatives 🙂

I didn’t take this pic but it’s what my delicious late afternoon snack looked like yesterday ~



Easy tips to get the best omelette

As usual, D has made my birthday especially special. To celebrate the big 3-0, I was kidnapped to a surprise beach trip earlier in the week and am now enjoying some time with family at home in Richmond. What with all these thoughtful surprises, I wanted to return the favor so I made us a nice omelette breakfast after my morning run:

I’m an egg kind of girl – I like ’em any which way – poached, soft-boiled, fried or scrambled. I do feel however, that they are rather finicky to prepare. I had all but given up on cooking omelettes because they always ended up looking more like scrambled messes than the fluffy concoction I was going for. Luckily, I’ve figured out some tricks. Herewith are my tips to cooking a successful omelette. (If you find them difficult like I did. If not, let me know what your tricks and tips are!):

-Use only a bit of olive oil in the pan (2 counts, about 1 tablespoon). I find it works much better than butter.

-Use medium to medium-high heat. I was impatient before and would try to cook them on high heat with consistently poor results.

-Use no more than two eggs. Two egg omelettes allow the flavor of the fillings to come through rather than just an overpowering egg coat. I think too many breakfast places use many more than two eggs, making the omelette way too heavy.

-Slightly pull up a side of the omelette and tilt the pan to allow the uncooked egg to slide under. I used to try and flip the whole eggy mess, thereby making an unintended scramble.

-Add in your chosen fillings (today we had avocado, bacon, onions, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese) when the omelette is cooked almost through. Then turn down heat so as not to burn the eggs but still allowing cheese to melt.

-I’m still mastering transferring the omelette from the pan to the plate. Inevitably I lose ingredients en route and so like to display escaped ones prettily on top as a kind of preview as to which flavors await.

What is your favorite omelette?