Posts tagged ‘Kitchen Terms’

October 15, 2014


A lot has changed since out last blog posting.  Life gets very busy and sometimes some things fall through the cracks.  Enough with the excuses- we are reviving the blog.

Since March 2013 we have managed to sell our house, move to a new one and remodel a kitchen.  Hopefully all of that is enough excuses to warrant the blogging dry spell.  The kitchen in our new house had last been touched sometime in the 1950’s.  there were bright yellow walls, yellow cabinet insides, small tile countertops, no garbage disposal, no dishwasher, a 1950’s GE latch handle fridge (with an in-fridge 12”x12” freezer), and yellow and blue vinyl floor.  It was a spectacle.  Needless to say, it had to go.  There was no way this was going to work for us.

Our home is a traditional 1910 home in NE Portland and we wanted to update the kitchen without making it too contemporary- more of a classic kitchen with modern touches.  After 11 long weeks of construction and chaos, we are finally moving back into the kitchen and getting reacquainted with cooking utensils…enough thai take-out, pizza and delivered dishes!  We are getting back to cooking food we love and teaching our daughter that “out to eat” is not the only way to eat well.




Demo surprises:



New floors and drywall:



Ready for cooking:








Perhaps this blog will have more tasty weekday meals in the future or continue with our many culinary splurges.  Either way, the Culinary Expeditions will continue…         

September 12, 2011

Pappardelle alla Bolognese

Pappardelle alla Bolognese


2  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3   tablespoons butter

3   carrot, finely, diced

2   medium onions, diced

4   rib celery, finely diced

5   cloves garlic, diced

1   pound ground beef

1   pound ground pork

1   pound ground lamb

¼   pound pancetta or slab bacon, ground

9   oz. tomato paste

3   medium tomatoes, roasted and diced

1   cup milk

1   cup dry white wine

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating

Wide noodle pasta, cooked and drained


In a large 8-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent and soft but not browned, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the beef, pork, lamb, and pancetta and stir into the vegetables. Add the meat over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together until browned.

Add the tomato paste, roasted tomatoes, milk, and wine and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 ½ hours.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and remove from the heat.

Mix a little sauce with cooked and drained pasta and toss gently.  Serve in large bowls and add additional sauce as necessary.  Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Pasta has long been near the top of my favorite comfort foods list.  There is something about it that just makes me feel so satisfied after a nice bowl of tasty pasta.  I don’t make pasta dishes nearly as much as I should at home and I am always browsing restaurant menus for my favorite combination of pasta and sauce….a wide noodle Bolognese.  I love meat…and by definition, Bolognese is a meat sauce.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

I have had many different versions of Bolognese and they all seem to be a bit different; mostly all good, but just different.  With a little time in front of the computer with my friend, Google, I set out to find out what a real Bolognese sauce was.

From what I was able to gather, Bolognese is a simple, hearty meat sauce in every sense of the word , that dates back at least to the 5th century.  The meat is usually comprised of beef and pancetta and sometime pork as well.  It is mixed with very few other competing ingredients, such as the traditional mirepoix (a mix of diced carrots, celery, and onions), garlic, tomato paste, wine, and milk.  It really is a very simple mix that yields a very meaty, thick sauce.  Some add tomatoes, including myself, giving it more of a red color.  The traditional recipe, without the tomatoes, yields a much more brown colored sauce.

With my admission of adding tomatoes, I guess the word is out that I am not a cooking purist, so I might as well divulge my other straying’s in the Bolognese world.  I have been experimenting with the different meats included and have found that mixing several types yields a much more complex, deeper taste.  In this recipe, I used, beef, pork, lamb, and pancetta.  That should be enough meats!

It should be noted that the Italians do not pair a Bolognese sauce with the pasta shape spaghetti. Wider shaped pastas are thought to hold up to the heavy sauce better and provide the right balance of noodle to sauce.  To each their own though…

June 7, 2011

Parmesan Crusted Scallops…and the Honorable Sigrid

Some people design a room around a prized piece of art or furniture. Margie designed a basement room around her foos ball table.  Likewise, many people will design a meal around a key ingredient or bottle of wine. When Mike’s mom, Betty, was in town last week, her prized bottle of Bergstrom Sigrid Chardonnay was our inspiration. We like Chardonnay, but have never tasted a Chardonnay this heavenly. This wine is nimble and performs a waltz on your tongue.  Feel free to snicker at this description (I sometimes mistake wine reviews for the Sunday comics), but only after you’ve sampled it.

The Honorable Sigrid

With Sigrid as our inspiration, we decided to make Parmesan crusted scallops with a clam and bacon risotto. Sauteed spinach was thrown in to provide veggie balance and aesthetics.

This recipe has a short cook time so it was important for us to employ a ‘mise en place’ strategy.

Terminology Time-outmise en place
 [MEEZ ahn plahs] is a French term used to describe the approach of getting ingredients assembled and prep work completed before launching headfirst into cooking. The key objectives are to ensure you have all the ingredients necessary and have them ready to go so that you can execute the recipe properly at the proper times. This prevents

With three cooks in the kitchen, we divided, conquered and had all of our ingredients prepped before starting in on the risotto.

  • Bacon was cooked and vegetables were chopped for the risotto.
  • Lemon Thyme Beurre blanc was started.
  • Scallops were prepped: they were washed, the legs were removed, and they were coated in the flour mixture. The parmesan mixture was assembled and egg was beaten (we held off on coating in the parmesan mixture until right before cooking the scallops).  

flouring the scallops

  • The butter used to fry the scallops was clarified.

Terminology Time-out: Clarified butter allows you to cook using butter (with all the yummy flavor that only butter can provide) at high temperatures without burning the food. To clarify butter, melt unsalted butter until it bubbles and spoon the foamy fat off the top. Pour off the clear liquid into a container (leaving behind any thick, milky residue at the bottom).  You can even freeze clarified butter if you seal it tightly.

Clarifying Butter

We had to open a bottle of dry, white wine to use in our risotto so we enjoyed an aperitif of Anne Amie vineyard’s Pinot Blanc after starting the risotto but before beginning to cook the scallops.

Clam and Bacon Risotto

Parmesan Crusted Scallops with Lemon Thyme Beurre Blanc

Makes 4 portions

8 each        large sea scallops with foot removed

to taste       salt & pepper

½ cup         flour

1 each         egg, whisked

1 cup           Japanese bread crumbs (Panko)

¼ cup         Parmesan cheese, shredded

½ cup         clarified butter  (can use olive oil, if need be)

1                   recipe Lemon Thyme Beurre Blanc


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season each scallop with salt and pepper and toss with flour. Mix bread crumbs with Parmesan cheese. Dip each scallop in egg, then press into bread crumb mixture, coating on all sides.

Preheat clarified butter in a large sauté pan.  Fry each scallop on both sides until golden brown.

Scallops before browning

Scallops after Browning

Place scallops on a baking sheet and bake for 3-4 minutes, until done. Serve with Lemon Thyme Beurre Blanc.

Lemon Thyme Beurre Blanc

20 each             lemon thyme sprigs

½ cup               Marsala wine

1 T.                  chopped onion

¼ cup               water

1 T.                  heavy cream

¼ lb.                whole butter, cut in cubes

as needed        salt and pepper


Pull 1 tsp. lemon thyme off the sprigs and chop finely.  Reserve.  Save the rest of the sprigs for steeping in the wine.

Bring Marsala wine and onions to a boil in a small sauce pan.  Cook until it has reduced in volume by half. Add water and return to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Add lemon thyme sprigs and steep for 20 minutes. Strain the wine mixture and return to sauce pan.  Add cream and chopped lemon thyme.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove pan from heat.  Whisk in butter cubes one at a time.  Let the butter melt and be incorporated before adding the next cube. Season as needed with salt and pepper.

As planned, we finished cooking the scallops last. We assembled a generous portion of risotto before planting the mammoth scallops and token greenery around it. The scallops were outstanding and extremely decadent. And did I mention the Sigrid???

The Final Dish

May 16, 2011

Braised Beef Short Ribs

In spite of Margie’s recent cholesterol test results, we decided to combat the extra long Pacific NW winter gloom with some of the best comfort food known to man – braised meat. Braising is a slow-cooking technique used to produce tender meats. We like it. A lot. In addition to being tender, the resulting dish tends to be rich since the meat cooks in its own fat and juices. Bring on the fat, but don’t tell Margie’s doctor. When dining out, we’ve started noticing the same technique applied to vegetables like “greens.“

Before embarking on a labor-intensive recipe (such as this one), it’s important to ensure you are properly equipped. From time to time, we’ll try to introduce you to some kitchen tools. For now, we’d like to introduce you to the absolute basics.

Proper Footwear: For time-consuming recipes, you’ll want to ensure your feet remain comfortable and pain-free. For us, this means crocs. Just like our cats, our crocs are “indoor only,” not to be worn in public, by anyone, EVER.

Crocs (our ideal cooking footwear)

Cooking Oil: No, we’re not talking about grapeseed oil or olive oil (although they’re now finding that it does not tolerate heat well)…we’re talking about the fluids that help loosen you up for some good, creative cooking. If your craft is golfing, you know this as “swing oil.” We recommend that you find a bottle of your favorite wine or craft beer and pour yourself a nice glass before embarking on the cooking mission ahead of you.

Cooking Oil


Another goal we’d like to accomplish with this blog is to introduce folks to some cooking terminology. As our repertoire expanded beyond collegiate favorites (Margie’s roommates would vouch for the brilliance of “chicken in the mud”), we’ve been forced to learn some hoity-toity kitchen terms. We thought we’d share some of those with you.

Several of the ingredients in this recipe constitute what is called the “trinity.” This describes the medley of chopped carrots, celery, and onions, often used in sauces and braises. Margie is NOT a fan of cooked carrots, but is oddly accepting of them in this somewhat camouflaged form.  If you are over for dinner and hear Margie refer to it as the “trifecta” or “triumvirate”, nod in agreement, but keep in mind she meant trinity.


And now for the recipe…

Braised Beef Short Ribs

3.5 lbs           beef short ribs



2 T.                  cooking oil  (we used grapeseed oil, but vegetable or olive would work)

1T.                   cooking oil

1                      yellow onion, diced small

3                      garlic cloves, minced

3                      carrots, diced small

2                      celery stalks, diced small

2 T.                  thyme, chopped

750ml             red wine (preferably a strong one like cabernet sauvignon)

4 shots           espresso

32 oz.              beef stock

15.5 oz.           canned diced tomatoes

3 oz.                canned tomato paste

4 T.                  grainy mustard

3 T.                  flat leaf parsley, chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Trim all beef ribs of excess fat and any silver skin.  Season meat generously with salt and pepper, on all sides.  In a heavy, cast iron pot (we used Le Creuset) heat 2 T. cooking oil over med-high heat .  Add short ribs to pot and brown on all sides.  Cook meat in batches if necessary.   Once browned, remove from pot and discard rendered fat.  Wipe pot clean.

Meat browning in progress


Heat remaining 1 T. cooking oil in pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and onions and sauté until browned, about 5-7 minutes.  Add carrots and celery, continuing to sauté for 3-4 minutes more.  Add thyme and stir to mix.

Add the wine, espresso, and half of the beef stock to the vegetable mixture and bring to a boil.  Add diced tomatoes, tomato stock and mustard and mix well.

Braising begins...

When we decided to make this recipe, Mike invited our good friend Scott to join us.  Mike and Scott decided the meal was worthy of one of their “big guns” wines. Both Mike and Scott had acquired a bottle of this fantastic wine, a 1997 Super Tuscan, Bacio Divino, years ago. We opened the first one while we were still cooking to sample the wares. While both wines were excellent, they had both aged to have very different taste profiles. Ours was fairly earthy while Scott’s was a bit more fruit forward.  Both were excellent wines, and it was interesting to taste two identical bottles next to each other and compare difference, bottle to bottle.

Mmm, tasty!

Return the browned short ribs to pot and add beef stock until all ribs are covered by liquid.  Place pot in oven, covered and braise for 3-3.5 hours until meat is tender, flipping occasionally throughout braising period.

Remove short ribs from pot and set aside.  Reduce liquid over med-high heat until reduce by at least 1/3, or to your desired thickness.

As sides to the braised short ribs, we served some Parmesan polenta, over which the ribs were placed along with some roasted shallots and Brussels sprouts.   Not everyone is a fan of polenta, but Mike has been somewhat fixated on it lately, so that is what we had that night.  The choice of Brussels sprouts was an easy one for us, as it is one of our favorites (look for a blog post about our favorite recipe for them in the future) and simple roast vegetables satisfy Margie’s health quotient while also not detracting from the star of the show.

Veggie Nirvana

Serve beef short ribs over parmesan polenta of mashed potatoes.  Drizzle with reduced sauce.

Sprinkle with parsley to finish.


Dinner is served

Did I mention it was a great night?

Good food was had with good wine and good friends.  Sorry we didn’t save any…

CPC (clean plate club)