Archive for September, 2006

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‘Hail, pizza!’

September 27, 2006

Pizza

Pizza

Pizza. Everybody loves it. Everybody eats it. And while delivery is good, and restaurants are better, homemade pizza is the best. Home cooks everywhere — from the savant pie-dough-maker to the lowly Boboli ready-made crust buyer — have experienced the thrill of concocting some magical pie masterpiece out of that doughy blank canvas. Hail, pizza!

Unlike myself, who errs more toward the Boboli side of homemade pizza, my husband (of course) makes his own pizza dough. Don’t kid yourself. There’s a difference — and his is better. And for novice breadmakers, once you get over the goosebumps that may rise from having to tangle with active yeast (those little beasties), you’ll find this a rewarding dough-making exercise. Your stomach will thank you, and you may never call Dominos again.

And don’t forget the toppings. I’m a traditionalist myself (think DaVinci), when my husband lets me handle the pizza topping portion of the show. My masterpieces include the usual suspects of sauce, cheese, meat, veg. But my husband, wisely, rips away my paintbrush before I’ve overdone it. Too many toppings equals soggy, greasy pizza. So be a beautiful minimalist, and chow down on that gorgeous still life: Pizza.

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Are you ready for some chili?

September 26, 2006

Spicy Texas Chili

Spicy Texas Chili

Chili inspires passion in many people. From chili cooks who haul their campers to Texas to compete in cookoffs to humble consumers of the meaty stew, everyone has their favorite. I am no different. I love me some chili.

Fortunately, my husband makes two varieties — and they’re both so different that they needn’t war in my heart for supremacy. One, Cincinnati Chili, is a hometown favorite, but would be unrecognizable as chili to many a chili-lover. (It’s served over noodles, for starters.) The other is the subject of this post: Spicy, meaty, hearty, Texas chili.

This kind of chili is delicious. Beans, big chunks of vegetables, and let’s not forget morsels of meat that have stewed in that spicy tomato concoction. What’s not to love? If there’s a twinge of cold in the air — anytime of year, even it’s from overactive air conditioning — I’m ready for a steaming bowl of Texas-style chili. With cornbread.

Read on for the recipe, fellow chili lovers…

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Behold! Macaroni and cheese…

September 25, 2006

Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

You say cheese, and I say “Where? Can I have some?”

Yes, I love cheese. But who doesn’t? Cheese is fantastic. And it comes in so many wonderful, varied flavors. Just gazing at the vast offerings of our Whole Foods cheese monger — a tiny fraction, I’m sure, of the true number of manufactured cheeses — makes me weak in the knees. Tasting all these cheeses is a worthy obsession for a lifetime. Every time I think I’m at the ultimate cheese summit, I discover that there’s yet more Everest to climb. Right now, for example, I’m obsessed with bleu cheese. But there are so many bleus! What can a girl do? Try them all, of course.

But I digress. We’re talking today about macaroni and cheese. And nevermind about the macaroni. The cheese is the thing. Here my husband has combined four glorious cheeses to make a zesty, sharp, melty delicious sauce that smothers the pallid macaroni and raises mac and cheese to new heights. And unlike the familiar Kraft macaroni and cheese — which fond childhood memories will not allow me to knock — this is a hearty, delicious casserole dish. You have to power your spoon through a wonderfully crunchy bread crumb layer to mound out the steaming, cheesy macaroni and its dairy-ful sauce.

My stomach is growling just thinking about it. Yours, too? Read on for my hubby’s recipe.

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It’s called ‘special’ for a reason: Spicy red sauce

September 22, 2006

Spicy red sauce

Pizza

Ah, red sauce. This tasty concoction has been a staple in my diet since the hubby started his cooking endeavors. Sure, it’s changed over the years. Sometimes he’ll amp up the spices, sometimes he’ll lift the heat levels, sometimes he ‘ll dash in booze of various types to see what will happen (always a worthy cooking experiment). And, as loving wife and hungry companion, I’ve amiably tried them all. (Not a huge sacrifice in the scheme of marriage, we’ll all agree.)

After these many years of experiments, however, the testing has slowed — and now he seems to have perfected a wonderfully flavored, hearty tomato sauce. It clings happily to pastas of all shapes and sizes, and makes a delicious base for the homemade pizzas that exit our oven. It has a rich — sweet, not acidic — tomato flavor, and a surprising kick that I think goes great with the starchy, buttery vehicles it always sits on. I’ve always referred to this sauce as “special,” and now that my days as guinea pig are over, I know I’ll get a reliable and hearty meal every time I order “special pasta.” Care to try it? Read on for my husband’s explainer…

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Tomatoes, artichokes, pasta — oh, my!

September 21, 2006

Pasta with tomato artichoke

The benefits of starting this blog have been manifold: My husband cooks all the time, he’s inspired to conjure new and interesting recipes, and the deliciousness of the dishes he makes keeps escalating. I should be completely happy, right?

Well, there’s one teeny, tiny drawback to this exercise. I am forced to wait for my food! Yes, that’s right. Sometimes it’s not ready when I walk in the door; and, worse still, I have to take pictures of it in various stages of doneness, taking care that my drool doesn’t get all over the “product.”

That’s why I love this recipe. Not only is it delicious — which is key — it is also incredibly quick and easy. In about the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta, the entire sauce can be assembled and finished. And since my agenda is to eat delicious food NOW, this recipe is absolutely perfect.

I’ll say one final thing before my husband takes over: I love that this sauce includes artichoke hearts. They are so tasty. And asides from the ubiquitous spinach and artichoke dip and the occasional fancy salad, you hardly ever have occasion to eat them. So I thank my husband for conceiving of one more way for me to eat that mysterious vegetable/dinosaur relic, the artichoke. You’ll be glad, too, if you try this sauce… Read the rest of this entry ?

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Watch the meatloaf dance… into sliders

September 20, 2006

If you’ve made the meatloaf below, you can make these sliders, too!!

Backgrounder:

For those of you not from the Midwestern US or not burger aficionados, ‘slider’ is a term coined to describe small burgers that can be eaten in a few bites. The term is most commonly associated with White Castle hamburgers. They also get colorful names like ‘gut bombs’ or the more practical name ‘mini-burgers,’ which is showing up on menus at large chain restaurants. Either way, the wife and I think of them as sliders. Enjoy!

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See the meatloaf, eat the meatloaf

September 19, 2006

Southwestern Meatloaf

Southwestern meatloaf

Meatloaf is a food product shrouded in mystery for me. It’s meat. But it’s also a loaf. There’s, like, bread and stuff in it. You can slice it like bread, but you can also eat it like a hamburger. Some people love it, and they wax nostalgic for their mom’s famous recipe. Some people despise it, holding it in the same esteem as the fruit cake they kick aside when they want the door to slam shut.

Like my husband, I never ate meatloaf as a kid. Shock. Horror. I even had a good mom; no, a great mom. Was this lack of meatloaf her one flaw, or a childhood nightmare she spared me from?

Well, judging from the magical meatloaf my husband has produced, maybe it’s the one teeny, tiny flaw my dear mother harbored. It’s true: She did not make meatloaf this good. (Actually, she did not make meatloaf at all.)

The meatloaf my husband made is hearty and thick; it has a lot in common with a good burger. But its texture is more complicated — spotted with vegetables, strewn with tortilla chips, and flavored with Southwestern spices — a mere burger isn’t an adequate comparison. When you add to that the meatloaf’s requisite toppings: fresh salsa, salsa verde and queso fresco, you have a piece de resistance — a loaf of meat for the ages. Or for me. To eat.

Read on for my hubby’s secrets, and fond memories of his similarly meatloaf-less childhood… Read the rest of this entry ?