Monday, October 27, 2008

Herb and cream cheese dinner biscuits

So I developed this recipe from one that I made ages ago from the Simply Recipes site. Hers is a Chive and Goat Cheese scone, mine is more of a amalgamation of what I had in my house, but it was even better this time than the first time! There's a discussion on her site as to whether they are scones or biscuits, but I choose to label mine biscuits.

These would be fantastic with a roasted red pepper soup, or chicken noodle, or something like that.

This recipe is a smaller version of the Simply Recipes scones--more appropriate for two people than four. Feel free to double, though.


1 cup all-purpose flour (you could try making it with half wheat flour for something heartier)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper (or more, to taste)
1/4 STICK butter (1/8 of a cup), cut in small cubes
1/2- 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (use what you like here, I made mine with chives, thyme, parsley, and tarragon because that's what I had and what sounded good, but feel free to use basil, oregano, rosemary, garlic, etc.)
2 oz cream cheese (I bought the kind in a box--when you open it, it has scoring lines on the foil. I'm thinking it was like 1/3 - 1/2 a cup)
1/2 cup heavy cream, diluted with a little milk (so, I took my half-cup measure, filled it 2/3 full with cream, and the rest with milk)

Heat oven to 400.

Mix all your dry ingredients together. Add your herbs. mix the butter in, incorporating with your hands until it's a grainy floury mix. You can also throw it in the food processor and blend until this point. Mix in chunks of cream cheese, but do not wholly incorporate, mix until mostly blended but chunks still appear. Dough will be sticky! I love to blob down big rounds onto a greased cookie sheet or silpat. Cook until starting to brown around edges, about 15-20 minutes.


The World's Best Tortilla Soup

So I've promised this recipe to about a zillion people.

It's the best, best, best tortilla soup recipe ever. When I make it, Charlie and I slurp it up until our bellies bulge out and start to ache. And then we eat some more. I NEVER halve this recipe, because it will ALL disappear. It's even BETTER (if possible) as leftovers. I should note that this recipe is adapted from the Cook's Illustrated version, though, I think mine is even BETTER than theirs.


Necessary equipment:

A big soup pot
A blender or food processor (if you only have a blender, start with smaller chunks of things before blending)
A strainer
A large bowl (preferably one that isn't made of glass and didn't belong to your great grandmother--they tend to break when making contact with boiling broth)

Notes: I like my soup SPICY. If you don't like yours this way, then cut back on the Jalepenos--particularly in the blended mixture--make sure you put SOME in, just not the whole one that I like to add.

Necessary ingredients:


8 or more round corn tortillas, cut into 1/2" strips
1 T vegetable oil
Table salt

for the SOUP

4 bone-in chicken thighs (skin removed, trimmed of excess fat)
8 cups chicken broth (I like the Pacific brand in the box)
1 very large white or yellow onion or 2 small/medium sized ones (I like yellow better in this)
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled (I like to cut them in half or into quarters)
1 sprig fresh oregano (needs to be fresh)
8 or 10 sprigs fresh cilantro
Table salt
1 can Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes (use either regular or the kind with green chiles--we used the green chile kind last time and it was AWESOME)
1 medium jalepeno chile
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce (you can buy these canned, and they freeze just fine if you don't use the whole can)
1 T vegetable oil

1 lime, in wedges
1 avocado, chopped into small chunks
crumbled cotija cheese (salty deliciousness)
fresh cilantro
Mexican Crema or sour cream

Nooow, GO!

1. FIRST MAKE THE TORTILLA CHIPS. Heat your over to 425 degrees. Put tortilla strip slices in a bowl. Drizzle with vegetable oil. Toss with your hands until all strips are coated. Spread out on the baking sheet and then sprinkle with salt. Put in oven and bake until crispy and just starting to brown around edges. You'll have to check these frequently to prevent from burning. Put them in a bowl or on a plate once they're ready.

2. NOW MAKE THE SOUP! Chop onion into quarters, removing root end. Pour chicken broth, raw chicken thighs, 2 garlic cloves, 2 onion quarters, cilantro, oregano, and salt (to taste) to a boil over med-high heat in your soup pot. Boil for about 20 minutes or until the chicken cooks through. Once the chicken is cooked, use tongs (or a tricky two-fork dance) to remove the chicken from the pot and put it on a plate to cool a little. Meanwhile pour the soup broth into a large bowl through a strainer--straining out all the solids. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it into bite-sized pieces. Toss the bones.

Puree the tomatoes (you can do this while you're waiting for the soup to boil) in your blender/food processor with the remaining onion and garlic, the jalepeno, and the chipotle chile (plus one tsp of the adobo sauce). Blend/puree until smooth.

Now put a T of veggie oil into your soup pot. Pour the tomato puree into the bottom of your soup pot. Cook it over medium to med-high heat for 10 minutes until it gets simmery and bubbly. Now add your saved soup broth back to the pot. Bring it back to a simmer, and let it cook for 15 minutes to let the flavors mingle and have love children. Add chicken, and bring it back to a simmer, to ensure that the chicken is hot again.

3. NOW SERVE. Put tortills strips in the bottom of bowls. Ladle soup over tortillas. Top with cotija, avocado, sour cream, jalepeno, cilantro, lime, etc.

4. SLURP SLURP SLURP (groan about your belly being too full) SLURP SLURP SLURP.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tasty garlic mushrooms and Parmesan zucchini

Here are a couple favorite vegetable sides that Charlie and I love. Can't say I acquired them anywhere, these are of my own trial-and-error creation more than anything.

These mushrooms are perennial fall favorites. SO flavorful. Just make sure everyone eats them, because they are garlic-riffic!

Tasty mushrooms with garlic, thyme, and sherry

2-3 cups crimini mushrooms (the little brown ones). For this recipe, try to find the smallest ones you can, I'm talking ½" across MAX, otherwise halve- or quarter- larger ones. They need to be bite-sized, but still with some substance for nom-ing. This may look like a ton of mushrooms for two people, but they cook down a LOT. And you will eat a LOT of them J

2 Tbs Olive oil

4-5 Large garlic cloves, finely minced (or, better yet, smooshed through a garlic press)

2-3 Tbs Sherry

½ Tbs Butter

2 Tbs minced, fresh thyme

¼- ½ tsp red pepper flakes

Coarse ground salt and pepper to taste

Put olive oil into skillet, and heat to medium-high.

While pan is heating, cut larger mushrooms in half, and, if necessary, into quarters.

Grind in salt and pepper. When oil is hot, add minced garlic and mushrooms.

Let mushrooms cook until they begin to release some of their liquid.

Add sherry. The pan should still be hot enough that it sizzles and boils. Continue cooking over medium to medium-high heat until most of the sherry evaporates. If it evaporates extremely fast, add a little more.

Add butter and thyme. Butter should melt around mushrooms, combining with the olive oil and thyme to create an amazing "sauce."

Serve in any of the following ways:

- With toasty bread that's been brushed with olive oil.

- On a warmed pita with hummus, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, red onion, and dill-yogurt dip (see Kefta kebab recipe below)

- As a stand-alone side

Alternative: use a marinade of the above ingredients (excluding the mushrooms, of course), to soak Portabella caps in before grilling on the barbecue.

Parmesan Zucchini rounds

Again, another easy side dish, and a simple variation of the garlic-salt-parmesan-vegetable combination. This is a staple for Charlie and I. We probably have it once a week—especially during the summer. The key is to use high heat to sear/brown the zucchini rounds so that they don't get mooshy.

1 small zucchini

2 cloves garlic (optional)



Olive Oil

Parmesan cheese

Slice the zucchini into ½ - ¾ inch rounds. Heat olive oil in a large pan (preferably not Teflon) over medium-high to high heat. Lay zuch's in pan, so that they do not overlap. Sprinkle with minced/crushed garlic if you so choose at this point. Season zuch's with salt and pepper.

Cook until pan side of zuch starts to brown. Flip rounds, sear on reverse side. Remove from heat and grate desired amount of parmesan over the top of zucchini, allowing it to melt.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Lamb Cumin Stir Fry

I’ve had 6 lovely lamb chops living in my freezer for over 3 months now. They were a beautiful deep red with minimal fat. I’ve never cooked lamb before, so was thrilled when Ariel sent me this recipe from the New York Times food blog by Mark Bittman. Despite my inexperience with lamb, this was fast and easy. In the future, I would consider marinating the lamb night before so I could just come home and throw everything in the frying pan. Not surprisingly, this dish was better the second day. Because the bone in a lamb chop has so much flavor, I froze the bones for future use. A hearty winter soup stalk maybe? Open to suggestions.

4 servings

About 30 minutes (but I had help chopping the garlic. I hate touching garlic)

Definitely use the cumin seeds as recommended, and not ground cumin. It’s really fun to toast the seeds, and they release this delicious smell through out your house. The slight crunch is fantastic.


1 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder (I think just about any part of the lamb will do)
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes, or to taste (I like a little more)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Peanut or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, to film the bottom of the skillet (Olive worked just fine for me)
1 cup trimmed and roughly chopped scallions
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

1. Cut lamb into 1/2-inch cubes (easier if meat is firmed in the freezer for 15 to 45 minutes). Toast cumin seeds in dry skillet over medium heat, shaking pan occasionally, until fragrant, a minute ortwo. Toss together lamb with cumin, chili, garlic, soy sauce, a large pinch of salt and a healthy grinding of pepper. If you like, cover and refrigerate until ready to cook, up to 24 hours. (I marinated mine for 2 hours. Still very tasty).

2. When ready to cook, put a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet (ideally, it will hold the lamb in one layer, or nearly so) and turn heat to high. When hot, add lamb. Cook, undisturbed, for about a minute, then stir once or twice to loosen lamb from skillet. Cook another minute, then stir again. Add scallions, if using, and cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions glisten and shrink a bit and the meat is about medium. (I cooked my lamb to medium, and honestly, in the future, I think medium rare would be preferable.)

3. If you want a slightly saucier mixture, stir in 1/4 cup water and cook another minute. Serve hot over rice, garnished, if you like, with cilantro.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The recipe that started it all

Since Ms. A mentioned this recipe below, I figured what better concoction to include for my first post!

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

4 cups crimini mushrooms (you can use whatever variety you would like, but I recommend mostly crimini. I've also wondered what throwing a few morels in would do...)
1 large onion, chopped (enough for approx. 1-1.5 cups chopped)
4 tsp paprika (I use more!)
4 tsp dill (ditto)
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
6 tbsp butter or olive oil
1/3 cup flour
1 3/4 cups milk
2 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup sour cream (would also be fabulous with creme fraiche!)
Fresh parsley or chives

Heat large skillet or 5 1/2 quart pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coarsely chop onion(s). When pot is warm add olive oil, or butter if you prefer.
Add onion, paprika, dill, sea salt, and pepper. Cook until onion begins to get tender. Stir in flour, taking care not to let it burn.
Add milk, water, and mushrooms. Bring almost to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered.
Remove from heat and add soy sauce, lemon juice, and sour cream.
Serve garnished with more sour cream if you desire, and parsley or chives.
Best consumed with freshly-baked bread!

Edited to add: Most of these measurements are really approximations. You can add more seasoning, milk, water, sour cream, whatever as you like!

This recipe is from L'ivre de Cuisine, a compendium of recipes from the French American International School community, where I used to work. I cook from it regularly, so you'll most likely see more recipes from that book here.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A few favorite recipes.

Here are a few that we've made recently and have been stunning.

First, the infamous Chipotle brownies. Oh holy yum. They have heat, and kick, and lots of tasty.
Thank you Smittenkitchen.

Also from Smittenkitchen, a really knock-out recipe for Kefta Kebabs.
These knocked my socks off. I know all of you don't eat meat, but you really should. JUST for these. Then you can go back to being a vegetarian. Pleeeaaaaase? You can even use humane, friendly-raised lamb?

I wasn't sure I'd like the mint sauce (it was really good, though), so I made an additional sauce for dipping, identical except substituting dill in for the mint. It was awesome. I've made the sauce again to use as a condiment for some awesome pita sandwiches I might have to share with you later. Which CAN be made vegetarian, if you use mushrooms instead of chicken. You'll just toot a lot between that and the hummus. But, yes, more on that later.

Finally, one last recipe we've made recently: MIGAS!
We were both feeling low the other night and made them as Tex-Mex breakfast-for-dinner. MMM. TASTY. And VEGETARIAN. Anyhow, ultimate comfort food. And make sure you really kick up the spice, because 1 1/2 jalepenos didn't do much for me.

Southwest black bean and corn salad.

I originally posted this over on portlandiaquill, and I'm pretty excited about it. It's the first recipe that I've wholly created on my own that I've put down into firm, scary type.

We've made it twice now, and Charlie and I are so excited about it. After it's first spin as a main course one night for dinner, we tested it out on Devon when she came to visit last weekend, and it was fantastic then too.

I hope you try it out and adore it. From my heart to yours!

The "I just moved to Idaho" Southwest black bean and corn salad:

2 cobs of fresh, sweet corn (not frozen corn, it just doesn't cut it)
1 can black beans
1/2 C diced tomatoes
Chipotle chile powder, blended chilies in adobro sauce, or a chipotle sauce of some sort
1/4 C of your favorite salsa (I had Mrs. Renfro's mild salsa on hand, you could use fresh tomatoes instead if you wanted, I suppose--it's kind of used as a sauce or "dressing")
about 1/2- 1/3 C minced yellow onion (use red onion if yellow is too strong, and you add more or less depending on personal tastes)
1/4-1/3 C mined cilantro (again, adjust to your personal taste)
1 diced medium red bell pepper
1 diced medium avocado
Juice from 1/2 a large lime

Boil corn on cob for just the briefest amount of time--enough to slightly heat through, but not so much as it loses its CRUNCH. Remove corn from heat and let cool.

Meanwhile, heat beans in saucepan over medium heat with diced tomatoes, chipotle, and a little salt and pepper to taste. Add Chipotle according to your heat preference. ALTERNATIVE: we made this last weekend without the diced tomatoes, and it was awesome, too.

When beans are warmed, and flavors are all mixy and tasty, remove from heat. Don't let your beans get mooshy from overcooking.

Cut corn kernels from cobs.

Combine all ingredients except lime in large mixing bowl. Squeeze lime over the top. Refrigerate to cool, or serve warm.

We ate this with cornbread and a simple green salad, and it was AMAZING.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I doubt anyone from the "outside world" is still reading along on this site, but, in case you are I suppose a little explanation is in order.

As is referenced in the description bar, Bloom is undergoing a little bit of a tectonic shift. Don't let the earthquake fool you, though, it's going to be better than ever.

I was recently talking with my lady friends Devon and Celeste, and we realize that we all had collections of recipes that we drool over (and drool to hear one another talk about)--but no easy place to share them. I got home from work today and it occurred to me: the poor little Bloom blog is getting no love. Wilting and withering.

Thus, I've decided to repurpose this place as a location for a close group of friends to share their favorite cooking exploits. The "YOU MUST TRY THIS" recipes, the "I'll bet this is AMAZING" links, and the "Can you PLEASE give me the recipe for that??" requests.

Blame Celeste's tweeting about her Hungarian mushroom soup. That's what started it.

It'll take a little while to get things going, and some things are certainly off-limits (sorry, you can't have my dad's cornbread recipe, or my mom's blueberry muffin recipe, or our family's Danish Fluff recipe), but hopefully this will become a great reference for things we've found (please link and credit, no thieving!) and for things we've created.

I imagine that the appearance of this blog will change a little in the days to come as well. Stick with us through our growing pains.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Bites #2: Beets!!

Until about 2 years ago, I viewed the beets as an artificially colored vegetable that comes out of a can and is usually cut with funny ridges to resemble a potato chip. Beets always looked appaulingly bright, like sweet and sour chicken. It wasn’t until eating the beet salad at Lucy’s Table, that I discovered how amazing beets really are. Inspired by this eye-opening eating experience, I attempted last week to recreate the same salad as best as I could from memory.

In the end, I’m quite pleased with this salad. It’s very easy to put together, and packs all the fresh sweet flavor of a fresh, roasted root. The below instructions are more of a guide then specific instructions.

1 firm but ripe pear
4 beets (it’s fun to mix golden and red)
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Goat cheese (though I noticed that lots of people tend to pair beets with feta which I’m sure would also be delicious. I’m just not a huge fan of feta).

· Remove the greens from the beets. Roast the beets until tender, about 1 hour at 400F. A good way to do this I think is to put them between two layers of foil, drizzled with a little olive oil and salt.

· Let beets cool. Peel the skin off your beets (it really just melts off after the roasting), and slice width wise. Make similar sized slices of the pear.

· Whisk together in a 1:1 portions olive oil and balsamic and 1 finely chopped shallot.
Arrange the beets and pears as desired, and drizzle the dressing. Crumble goat cheese on

Now in the future, I would consider adding slices of blood orange to this, but that amount of amazing color might be too much! Also, I’m pretty sure that a clever person could find just the right lettuce to put under all of this. As well, I’m pretty sure that the dressing could be livened up, but this was so delicious and simple.

If anyone has tried a beet salad of their own, I would love to hear about your success and recommendations.

photo from: