May 26, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chipster-Topped Brownies

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was chosen by Beth of Supplicious. Chipster-Topped Brownies are basically standard brownies (made with 9 ounces of chocolate and 2 sticks of butter!) with a thin layer of cookie dough baked on top.

I used peanut butter chips in my cookie dough layer. The top gets very crunchy, while the dough underneath melts into gooeyness...not your standard cookie texture. The brownie layer, of course, was fabulous. I swear, once you make real brownies (with melted chocolate), you'll never use that boxed mix again!

Anyway, I took these to a beer tasting party at Mike & Irene's house on Saturday, and they seemed to be a big hit!

*Note: A lot of Dorie's recipes say to bake the pan on a cookie sheet. Someone in the TWD group recently asked about this...does it make the bottom cook more evenly or does it prevent burning? As far as I know, baking a pan on a cookie sheet doesn't affect the baking at all. Instead, it's simply an easy way to get the pan in and out of the oven without having to grab the side of the pan and potentially messing up the top of the cake.

May 25, 2009

Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps

Last weekend, I made lettuce wraps for dinner and posted a brag on Twitter: "My recipe for lettuce wraps is frickin' genius!"

And now, as demanded by my friends and readers, here is that recipe. I think it's an awesome combination of spicy, sweet, salty, and sour. And it goes great with a cold beer!


1 pound of ground beef (or chicken or chopped shrimp)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1 teaspoon candied ginger spread (or finely chopped candied ginger pieces) *
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
zest & juice of one lime
handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

*Note: If you don't have candied ginger, you could use freshly grated ginger root with a bit of honey or agave nectar for sweetness.


1. Saute the onions in a little bit of olive oil, just until they begin to soften. Add the meat and brown, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Add the curry paste & ginger spread to the pan and stir until it's melted & incorporated into the meat. Add the soy & oyster sauce, stir to combine.

3. Turn off the heat and add the lime zest, lime juice, and parsley. Taste for seasoning. Add more curry paste if you'd like it a bit spicier or more lime or more ginger or whatever you think it needs...but you should be able to taste each of the components: spicy, sour, sweet, salty.

4. Serve on iceberg or Boston bibb lettuce leaves.

May 21, 2009

Fava Bean Salad with Fennel & Mint

In her cookbook, Alice B. Toklas (Gertrude Stein's companion) wrote, "Cookbooks have always intrigued and seduced me."

I'm obsessed with books. I have stacks in nearly every room of my house...on the coffee table in the living room, on the night stand in the bedroom, on the table & some chairs in the dining room, on the kitchen counter....everywhere.

Lately, I've been particularly obsessed with cookbooks. Even though I have so many cookbooks that I've never cooked from, I still want to buy more.

My most recent acquisition is A Platter of Figs by David Tanis.

It's a beautiful book with seasonal menus. And when I spotted fava beans at Soulard farmers market last week, I knew exactly which recipe from the book I'd try first. I'm a little sad that favas aren't available more often so that I could eat this whenever I was that good.

Fava Bean Salad with Fennel & Mint

2 cups shelled fava beans
1 fennel bulb, trimmed & thinly sliced on a mandolin
2 scallions, thinly sliced
3 sprigs mint leaves, coarsely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
fruity extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt & black pepper
  • To prepare the fava beans, remove the beans from their pods & boil them for 2-3 minutes. Shock the beans in ice water, then pop them out of their skins. See photos of the process here.
  • Mix the beans with the sliced fennel, scallions, and a good sprinkling of salt. Drizzle generously with the olive oil to coat. Add the mint leaves & lemon juice. Toss and taste for seasoning.
  • Top each serving with a few grinds of pepper and, if desired, a few shreds of parmesan cheese.

May 12, 2009

Roasted Radishes

I went a little overboard at Tower Grove farmers market last Saturday, buying bunches of radishes from two vendors. I couldn't resist those red & white beauties!


While I love eating fresh raw radishes dipped in herb salt or sliced thin on toasted bread with herb better (Herbes de Provence is my favorite to use), I knew I wanted to try roasting them instead...a recipe I've seen lately on foodie pic sites such as Foodgawker.

Initially, I saw the recipe on a blog called The Bitten Word. They weren't 100% enamored with the results, so I decided to look at the original recipe, which was printed in Food & Wine last month.

And, whadda ya know! It's Gerard Craft's recipe! I just met him on Thursday when I enjoyed a wine dinner at his restaurant, Niche! For those of you who aren't aware, Chef Craft was chosen as one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs last year. I've eaten at Niche twice now (the first was for my 35th birthday in October) and the food has been superb each time (and he was nice to talk to, which is always a plus!).

Anyway, I really liked the roasted radishes. While they do lose their crisp pepperiness, the addition of lemon with the bitter greens creates a nicely tart side dish.

Roasted Radishes with Radish Greens

According to Food & Wine, "Gerard Craft came up with this clever recipe one year when his local farmer had an abundance of radishes. Craft tried roasting them. The result: warm, crisp-tender radishes with delightfully bitter greens, which he finishes with butter and lemon."


  1. 3 bunches small radishes with greens attached
  2. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  3. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  4. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  5. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 500°. Trim the radishes and wash the greens; pat dry.
  2. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the radishes, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the radishes for 15 minutes, until crisp-tender.
  3. Return the skillet to the burner and stir in the butter to coat the radishes. Add the radish greens and cook over moderate heat until they are wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and season with salt. Serve the radishes right away.

May 10, 2009

Kale Chips

I wish I had something witty to say today, some cute story that transitions seamlessly into a recipe.  But, I have no childhood memories or witty anecdotes about kale.  At least, none I can write about to a public audience.

I guess I could talk about how I'm such a food snob, yet I bought a bag of freshly-made pork rinds at the Soulard farmers market yesterday...because I'm helplessly addicted to chips of all kinds.  There's something...magical about snacks.  Ok, maybe not magical...but I do love me some chips.  Oh, that salty crunch!  It's my only weakness. 

My all-time favorite snack is Lay's chips dipped in ketchup. A close second is ruffled chips & French onion dip, with Fritos & bean dip right behind.  My standard back-up is buttered popcorn with lots of salt.  

But, I'm an adult now.  At 35 years of age, I simply can't eat snacks without consequences like I used to.  Chips are a treat for me...something I'll indulge in at a BBQ or party, but not something I buy on a regular basis.

Yet, I still crave the salty crunch!  To overcome it, I tried making kale chips last week.  I'll admit that they did satisfy my craving...and I didn't feel guilty about eating an entire tray's full!

Kale Chips

  • Cut kale leaves (without heavy stem) into 2-inch pieces. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil on top, then toss the leaves around so they are well-coated. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
  • Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes, turning leaves once during cooking, until crispy. Be careful not to burn them or they'll turn bitter!

From Beer to Sushi Eternity

Jerad and I taught our first cooking class together last night...a sushi & beer class for couples. I was amazed at how well everyone did their first time rolling sushi. They were a great group, and we had so much fun (I wish I'd gotten a picture of everyone)!

Here are some of the rolls they made:

Tuna with asparagus & cream cheese

Salmon with asparagus & avocado

Carrot, green apple, & cream cheese

Philadelphia roll

Crab with asparagus & Nigiri (in the background)

We're teaching the class again in September. Check out the schedule of classes at Kitchen Conservatory for more info and to register.

May 5, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Tiramisu Cake

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was chosen by Megan of My Baking Adventures. It's a simple two-layer vanilla cake that's moistened with espresso syrup, iced with espresso-spiked mascarpone whipped cream, filled with dark chocolate chips, sprinkled with cocoa powder, and decorated with chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Once again, I'm getting this posted near the last minute....but it's not for a lack of trying. I actually baked the cakes last night, wrapped them in plastic wrap, and put them in the fridge. And I had every intention of icing them as soon as I got home. BUT...when I got home from work today, my kitchen was overrun with ants!

It's happens every year about this time...especially if we've had a lot of rain. The first time it happened was several years ago. It was Memorial Day weekend, and I was having a bunch of people over for Sunday brunch. I spent the entire day on Saturday getting ready, including baking scones from scratch. I stacked them neatly in a domed, glass cake stand and set them on the buffet in the dining room.

The next morning, I woke up to find the cake plate--inside & out--covered in tiny ants! I was devastated and grossed out all at once! Afterward, I tried everything to get rid of the ants...everything, that is, besides spraying poison all over my house and yard. I tried leaving out corn meal for them to eat (supposedly, they will take it back to the nest, eat it, then died because it expands in their stomach). I tried putting baby powder around the window sills and other places they might be getting in (they weren't supposed to like walking through it). I tried organic ants traps and sprays. Nothing worked.

Eventually, I broke down and called an exterminator to spray outside around the house only. And, that did it. So, every year, when I start to see ants roaming around the kitchen, I call for the guy to come spray. They were scheduled to come last week, but apparently there was too much rain. I called them again tonight.

Still, I was hesitant to put the cake together tonight and create an ant's sugar paradise. I mean, you drop one little speck of sugar and they are ALL over it.

Nevertheless, I got it done tonight, then promptly stuck the cake in the fridge & bleached the countertops.

May 3, 2009

Upcoming Cooking Classes

Here are the cooking classes I'm teaching at Kitchen Conservatory this summer:


Sat, June 6 @ 6:30 pm to 9 pm


  • Prosecco & saba cocktail
  • Roasted red pepper & caramelized onion bruschetta
  • Antipasto salad with oil-cured olives, locally-made artisan salami, radicchio & arugua
  • Halibut with Sicilian caper & tomato salsa
  • Limoncello trifle with pound cake, blackberries, & mascarpone custard


Fri, June 26 @ 6:30 pm to 9 pm


  • Espresso martini
  • Coffee-infused mushroom soup
  • Grouper glazed with coffee, honey, & red chile with coffee slaw and grilled pineapple
  • Classic tiramisu.


Sat, Aug 22 @ 6:30 pm to 9 pm


  • Sweet tea martini
  • Classic pimiento cheese spread on crostini
  • Artichoke-crab beignets with remoulad
  • Couscous and feta-stuffed red bell peppers
  • Mint julep peaches with cheesecake ice cream.


Sat, Aug 29 @ 6 pm to 8:30 pm


  • White sangria with peaches & grapes
  • Lime-bathed peanut salad with tomatoes & jalapenos
  • Caramelized onion bread with olives & parmesan
  • Vegetable kabobs with toasted walnut, red pepper, chive& pomegranate marinade
  • Mushroom, spinach, & tofu-stuffed black tea spring rolls with mango-chutney dipping sauce
  • Mesquite chocolate chip cookies.


Sat, Sept. 19 @ 6 pm to 8:30 pm


Jerad and I are doing a repeat of this class since it sold out the first time. In this hands-on class you’ll learn to make salt-and-pepper edamame, sticky sushi rice, a variety of hand-formed nigiri and rolled maki, including spicy tuna rolls, California rolls and Philadelphia rolls -- all served with Japanese beer.


Saturday, Sept. 26 @ 6 pm to 8:30 pm


  • Lavender-tangerine mimosas
  • Garlicky lavender-curry hummus with baked pita chips
  • Spinach salad with lavender-lemon vinaigrette
  • Northwest lavender crab cakes
  • Lavender couscous with artichokes
  • Lavender-honey ice cream & lavender sugar cookies.

If you're interested in taking a class,
you can call Kitchen Conservatory at 314-862-2665
Hope to see you there!