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STILL GOOD: Veggie Skillet Cakes with Green Goddess Dressing

December 14, 2013


These are really good, and a lot healthier than regular potato pancakes with sour cream. The original recipe comes from Whole Foods Market, and you can see below for the ways I messed it up the first time, and then the tweaks I made to the original recipe and cooking method, and the addition of Green Goddess Dressing.

3/4  teaspoon chili powder
2   (8-ounce) russet potatoes, peeled, shredded and squeezed of excess moisture  (SQUEEZED WITH A PAPER TOWEL. MESSY. USE REGULAR TOWEL.)
4  tablespoons unsalted butter
2   parsnips, shredded
1  large egg, lightly beaten (DID NOT BEAT)
2   carrots, shredded
1  teaspoon fine sea salt (USED WHATEVER SALT I HAD)
1/2  cup finely diced red onion (ONLY HAD YELLOW ONION)
1/4  cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1  large egg white, lightly beaten (WHAT? NO.)

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, until it begins to sputter and is covered with a layer of foam, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and wait until sputtering stops. Skim off and discard foam; pour clarified butter into a small bowl, leaving behind any milky liquid. (THIS SEEMED LIKE A STUPID EXTRA STEP. JUST MELTED SOME BUTTER.)  

In a large bowl, combine the vegetables and onion. Sprinkle with flour, salt, chili powder and nutmeg, and toss to coat. Stir in egg and egg white.  (I JUST USED TWO EGGS AND MASHED EVERYTHING TOGETHER WITH MY HANDS.)

Brush a large skillet with clarified butter and line just the bottom with parchment paper. (PAIN IN THE ASS.)  Brush the paper and sides of the skillet generously with 1 tablespoon more clarified butter. Heat the skillet over medium heat until hot. Pour in vegetable mixture and press gently. Cook, running a spatula around the edges of the skillet occasionally, until bottom is very brown, about 12 minutes.  (BOTTOM WASN’T GETTING BROWN, GOT IMPATIENT*. TURNED UP HEAT.) *THE START OF ALL PROBLEMS, ALWAYS.

Place a round platter upside down over the top of the skillet. Grasp sides of the skillet and platter with oven mitts and invert pancake onto the platter. (THIS SEEMED LIKE A LOT OF ACROBATICS. BUT I DID IT!) Press back in any stuck bits of pancake. (PLENTY OF STUCK BITS) Wipe the skillet clean, place parchment back in the skillet and brush generously with clarified butter. Slide pancake back into the skillet (browned-side up) and continue to cook over medium heat, loosening edges with a spatula and shaking the pan occasionally to loosen the bottom. (STARTING TO SMELL SOMETHING BURNING, BUT PANCAKE LOOKED OK.) Cook until bottom is browned and crisp and pancake is cooked through, about 12 more minutes. (AT ABOUT 10 MINUTES REALIZED PARCHMENT PAPER WAS ON FIRE. HAD TO REMOVE) Invert the skillet again to remove pancake. Cool 5 minutes before cutting into wedges. (PANCAKE WAS MORE OF A HASH AT THE END, AND A LITTLE CHARRED. BUT STILL GOOD.)



1 red onion, sliced
2 parsnips, peeled and grated
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 russet potatoes, peeled and grated, squeezed and drained of excess liquid
2 scallions, diced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 stick butter

Add all ingredients except for butter to a bowl, mix with your hands until eggs and flour are incorporated. Heat a non-stick skillet on medium and add 1/4 stick of butter. Drop mixture by heaping spoonfuls (you can make these as big or as small as you want, depends on how long you want to spend cooking) into skillet, and cook over medium heat until both sides are browned (at least 5 minutes per side, depends on how big you make them). Press frequently with spatula to keep them in pancake form, but if these fall apart you can just cook them into a hash and they are just as tasty. Let skillet cool between batches and add more butter before each batch. Top with Green Goddess Dressing, recipe follows.

Green Goddess Dressing:
2 cups 0% (fat free) greek yogurt
2 scallions
juice of one lime
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper
4 gloves garlic
at least 1 cup chopped basil, have two cups available so you can adjust if it is not basil-y enough

Throw everything in a blender and puree.  Add more basil if you want. Puree again. The end. This should last 4-5 days in the fridge.

Feast: Dinosaur BBQ, Syracuse NY

December 10, 2013
photo by dave copeland

photo by dave copeland

Dinosaur BBQ is now a chain with 7 locations, but back in the day the original, in Syracuse, NY, was not the place you’d take your wife for dinner before a weekend with her friends and their babies. In the last ten years it has gone from biker bar to group hang out spot, but the decor is still pretty honky tonk, with license plates and signs that read “temperance ignored here” on the walls.

The food is quick and rich – brisket, pulled pork, ribs, fried green tomatoes, deviled eggs, cornbread. I had brisket and pulled pork with a side of mac and cheese and coleslaw, and while it was all good, I particularly enjoyed the brisket- tender without being fatty – and the mac and cheese. Most BBQ joint mac is dry and tasteless, but this is something you want a full bowl of. Judging by the amount of hits you get by googling “Dinosaur BBQ mac and cheese recipe,” it looks like many have tried to imitate it, and for good reason.

If you’re driving through Syracuse, this is a must stop destination. Otherwise, you might want to try the Harlem or Brooklyn locations.

photo by dave copeland

photo by dave copeland

NOT GOOD: Lemon Meringue Pie

December 2, 2013
my pie looked good, but not this good (photo from

my pie looked good, but not this good (photo from

One of my husband’s favorite desserts is lemon meringue pie, so this Thanksgiving I set out to make one. I immediately jinxed myself by remarking that the recipe didn’t seem too complicated, and in true form, ruined the pie completely. Now I’m going on a quest to find an error-proof lemon meringue pie to redeem myself, but for now, here’s all the ways I messed up Alton’s Brown recipe:

Lemon Filling:

  • 4 egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (USED JARRED LEMON JUICE)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 (9-inch) pre-baked pie shell (THOUGHT PIE SHELL WAS PRE-BAKED. WAS NOT.)
  • 1 recipe Meringue, recipe follows

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Whisk egg yolks in medium size mixing bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch, water, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine.  Turn heat on medium and, stirring frequently, bring mixture to a boil. Boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and gradually, 1 whisk-full at a time, add hot mixture to egg yolks and stir until you have added at least half of the mixture.  (NOT SURE WHAT I DID WRONG HERE, BUT EVENTUAL PIE WAS TOO SOUR AND FILLING WAS NOT THICK ENOUGH. IF I HAD TO GUESS, SHOULD HAVE USED JUICE FROM ACTUAL LEMON AND MORE CORNSTARCH.)

Return egg mixture to saucepan, turn heat down to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and gently stir in butter, lemon juice, and zest until well combined. Pour mixture into pie shell (AGAIN, THOUGHT SHELL WAS PRE-BAKED. WAS NOT. PUT FILLING INTO RAW SHELL.) and top with meringue while filling is still hot.  Make sure meringue completely covers filling and that it goes right up to the edge of the crust. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until meringue is golden. ( MOTHER SABOTAGED PIE. SHUT OVEN OFF JUST AS I PUT PIE IN.) Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Make sure pie is cooled completely before slicing.

Meringue Topping:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 pinch cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and then gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Use to top lemon filling. (MERINGUE WAS REALLY EASY TO MAKE! BUT, DID NOT MATTER AS ONCE PIE COOLED THE UNBAKED CRUST MADE IT COMPLETELY DISGUSTING.)

Don’t worry Dave, I’ll get this right eventually. I’ll start by baking the crust.

Canadian Thanksgiving, Eh?

November 28, 2013


This year, Dave and I went to Toronto on our mini-moon, not realizing that the day after our wedding was Canadian Thanksgiving, eh. Fortunately Canada doesn’t shut down the way we do, and we enjoyed feast after feast. In particular, we asked a local chef where to grab breakfast. He gave the perfect answer: “You go to St. Lawrence Market, you get a plain peameal bacon sandwich. No egg, no tomato- you can get an egg sandwich anywhere. Peameal Bacon Sandwich.” Peameal bacon is sort of like our version of “Canadian” bacon, only so much better. Dusted in cornmeal, it is tender and juicy. The sandwich itself made me want a nap afterward, but well worth it.

This year on Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my new husband, my family and friends, my health, and all future opportunities to discover new, delicious things.


market olives meat

STILL GOOD: Cherry Cheesecake Cupcakes

November 25, 2013


My mom used to  make these at Christmas and I loved them. I could never get enough of them and since they are so small, it didn’t seem so bad to have three or four. Now it seems kind of wrong to have that many, but that doesn’t mean I don’t do it.

Thanks to It’s for the recipe used in this installment of “Still Good: Recipes that still work even after I get my hands on them.”

Here’s the recipe, and, in bold, all the ways I messed it up:
  • 2 1/4 cups graham crackers, finely crushed (about 14 sheets)
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract (DID NOT BUY. COMPLETELY MISSED THIS INGREDIENT.)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • For the topping
  • 4 cups sweet cherries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together graham crackers and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Pour in melted butter and stir with spoon until evenly coated. (ONCE MADE DID NOT SEEM RIGHT. POURED OUT ABOUT HALF OF MIXTURE AND ADDED SOME MORE BUTTER. NO MEASURING WAS INVOLVED.) Divide graham cracker mixture among 24 paper lined muffin cups, adding a heaping teaspoon full to each. (24 SEEMED LIKE TOO MANY TO HAVE IN THE HOUSE SO AT THIS POINT DECIDED TO HALF THE RECIPE.) Press mixture evenly into each cup. Bake in oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool while preparing filling.
  3. In large mixing bowl, add softened cream cheese, 1.5 cups sugar, and flour. Use a hand or stand mixer to mix on low speed until well blended and smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and blend on low speed just until combined after each addition. (USED THREE THINGS OF CREAM CHEESE, THREE EGGS, SAME AMOUNT LISTED OF EVERYTHING ELSE. SO, SORT OF HALF. OMITTED THE CREAM BECAUSE IT SEEMED* THAT WOULD MAKE IT TOO WATERY.   *NOT SURE WHY ALL OF A SUDDEN I THINK MY BAKING INTUITION IS SO GOOD.) Scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula as necessary. Add vanilla, sour cream and whipping cream and mix just until combined.
  4. Tap mixing bowl against counter top about 30 times to release some of the air bubbles. (DID NOT DO.) Divide mixture among muffin cups, filling each cup nearly full. Bake in heated oven for 20 to 23 minutes; centers should still jiggle slightly… don’t overbake! (If tops begin to crack, they’ve been baking too long). (FOUR OF MINE CRACKED.) Remove from oven and allow them to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 1 hour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.
  5. To garnish before serving, place a dollop of cherry topping on top (directions for preparation below).
  6. For the cherry topping: In a small bowl, whisk  corn starch and cold water to make a slurry; set aside.
  7. Place cherries and sugar into large microwave-safe bowl. (USED TWO CUPS CHERRIES AND 1/4 CUP SUGAR, AND HALF OF SLURRY.) Stir to combine and microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring after the first minute. Add cornstarch mixture to the cherries and continue cooking on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring briefly every 30 seconds. (FORGOT TO STIR BRIEFLY EVERY 30 SECONDS.)
  8. Remove from microwave, stir in vanilla extract and chill until ready to serve. (TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL: DECIDED NOT TO MEASURE VANILLA AND WAY TOO MUCH CAME OUT OF BOTTLE. CHERRIES TOO VANILLA-Y, BUT, STILL GOOD!)


Food: Garlic Cheddar Risotto

November 23, 2013


More risotto! This is a combination of Mio’s Mac and Cheese and Nigella’s Cheddar Cheese Risotto. The danger with mac and cheese is that it can become too dry – especially if you bake it for too long. The danger with risotto is that it can become too gluey – especially if you don’t add enough liquid or let it sit for too long. The good thing about this recipe is that it combines both worlds but minimizes the risk. If you want to make this a faux mac and cheese, top with panko breadcrumbs after toasting in some butter.

Cheddar Cheese Risotto – serves four

2 cups arborio rice
8 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chives, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp butter

two links chorizo sausage, browned

Heat the chicken broth in a separate pot until warm. Brown the onion and garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the rice and stir to mix everything over medium heat. Add the wine, red pepper, and mustard and stir until absorbed by the rice. Add the broth by 1/2 cup increments until it is absorbed into the rice.  Once you have added 8 cups of broth (or enough that the risotto relaxes on the plate), add the cheddar, parmesan, butter, and sour cream, stir to combine. Salt to taste. Top with chives. Serve immediately. If using the variation, add the chorizo with the cheddar and parmesan.

Food: Lemon Tomato Risotto

November 21, 2013
Forgot to take a picture. Here's one from instead.

Forgot to take a picture. Here’s one from instead.

I’m into risotto. It’s one of those dishes that makes you feel really accomplished for taking the time to cook, but is actually really easy. Once you learn the basic ratio (1 cup arborio rice to 4 cups chicken broth) and recipe (brown the onion and garlic, toast rice, slowly add liquid), you can take it any direction you want. I made this  last weekend, it’s reminiscent of pappa al pomodoro and great for a fall day. If you want to  make it extra decadent, you can add the butter and cream at the end, but you don’t need them for this to be rich and filling.

Lemon Tomato Risotto – serves four
2 cups arborio rice
8 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
28 oz crushed tomatoes
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped basil
juice and zest from one lemon
salt to taste
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat the chicken broth in a separate pot until warm. Brown the onion and garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the rice and stir to mix everything over medium heat. Add the wine and stir until absorbed by the rice. Add the broth by 1/2 cup increments until it is absorbed into the rice. After two cups, add the herbs and the lemon juice and zest. Once you have added 6 cups of broth, add the tomatoes. Depending on the consistency at this point, you may not need to add anymore broth. You want the risotto to relax on the plate- it shouldn’t be soupy it shouldn’t be solid either. At this point you can add the optional butter and cream if you want to make the dish more decadent, but this also makes it extra rich. Salt to taste. Top with parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.


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