Sunday, March 29, 2009

Eggplant is the the kitchen's equivalent of Led Zepplin

I want to like eggplant . . I really do. In fact I've tried it a few different ways in the past year but still haven't found any recipe that makes me say . . now that was good eggplant! If it was a highly nutritious food I would find a way to sneak it in more but that's just not the case. So this past week we had some eggplant parm . . and it was OK, but not great. It is kinda like (brace yourself Caleb) my feeling toward Led Zepplin . . I want to like the music . . but I just don't.

So if anybody has a great eggplant recipe I need to try please shoot it my way, but in the meantime I won't be making any space for it in the garden, fridge or on the plate any time soon.

Besides eggplant we did have some tasty eats this week, here's a quick rundown from the week that was.

Steak, peas and carrots and scalloped potatoes (still too crunchy, i swear these take 2 hours to cook right).
Black Bean and rice enchiladas (totally making these again for the freezer)
Eggplant Parm and spaghetti (we've already discussed this . . no need to re-hash . . hm hashbrowns . . need to make breakfast soon)
Beef and Broc stirfry, fried rice ( I think i finally got the fried rice figured out, it was very tasty!)

A quick preview of this next week, Brussels Sprouts (they're only .99/pound at sunflower this week and every so tasty!) which are especially for Nate and Amy who said they aren't fans, I think we'll make believers out of them this week though.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring snow anyone?

Seems like we've done this before . . . Was it a December . . maybe 2 years ago?

Crossing my fingers it's not as bad as 2003 when we had houseguests for 3 days in Laramie . . 3 houseguests . . in a 2 bedroom duplex . . it was . . . not awesome.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More pork shoulder

In the event you don't know how to prepare and/or shred a pork shoulder there's a great article on it on The Kitchn today.

On a totally different topic, who all ate corned beef and cabbage yesterday? Hopefully you adhered to the Twicebuzzed rules of St. Patty's day.

1. Never, ever, EVER eat corned beef at a restaurant on St. Patrick's day (this goes twice over for anywhere that doesn't have it on the menu the other 364 days of the year). Next year I might try corning my own.
2. Don't drink green beer, only Jello should be that color.
3. St. Patty's day is the absolute best day of the year to get a pint of Guinness since you know it'll be a relatively fresh keg.

Updated March 19, 2009:
Dinner was fantastic, as was the Guinness. More pork shoulder goodness on the foodie blogs today, this time with a mustard cream sauce.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Aluminum Chef Results: Battle Pork Shoulder

I have been bested. More about that later.

This was the inaugural aluminum chef challenge, complete with trophy. After browsing the ads for a budget friendly ingredient we agreed upon pork shoulder, each doing 2 courses but not dessert. We settled upon a scoring method similar to that of popular cooking competitions, 5 points for plating, 5 points for originality, 10 points for taste, everyone would judge.

I started prep early Saturday morning by cutting a portion of my pork shoulder of for use in the appetizer and seasoning the remaining portion with salt and pepper. I was going to be preparing a pasta with pork ragu and so started the sauce early in the day by searing the pork shoulder, browning up some onion and garlic, deglazing with wine and then letting everything simmer together with a couple cans of tomatoes and herbs.

My appetizer was a ricotta pork meatball skewer with veggies and mozzarella balls. I chopped the pork shoulder and mixed it with some ground beef, ricotta, herbs, and other normal meatball fixings. These went into the oven to roast until browned and then covered with a few cups of tomato sauce and cook for two hours.

Curt prepared carnitas nachos and carnitas tacos. The pork was marinated in citrus and cola for a day before the cooking which leant it a very nice sweet and citrusy flavor that helped cut through the fatty pork. They were very tasty dishes.

At the end of the day I was beaten by one point and Curt took home the aluminum chef trophy for battle pork shoulder. There was some difficulty with the mozzarella balls not actually being skewered and falling off that may have cost me a point or two. Never fear, I will have my revenge!

So any suggestions on what future battles we can have?

Menu Time: March 15, 2009

I'm getting antsy to get things planted and this morning I'm looking around the web at some gardening sites. I was thinking about putting peas, lettuce and spinach into the ground today (reinforced by the fact that it'll be 70 the next 3 days) but the ever persistent threat of spring snow and frost in Colorado is keeping me in check. Speaking of green things . . . you better not be drinking green beer this week, have a Bass, Harp or Guinness, which I'll be having of course.

Sunday Lunch
Split Pea Soup

Sunday Dinner
Cabbage and orange salad, white bean soup, braised short ribs, polenta

Monday Dinner
Spaghetti and meatballs, sauted spinach

Tuesday Dinner
Dinner out with some friends/family

Wednesday Dinner
Red beans, sausage and rice, sauted zucchini

Thursday Dinner
Chicken tacos, green salad

Friday Dinner
Pizza Night!

Saturday Lunch
Leftover lettuce wraps

Saturday Dinner
Egg Drop Soup, edamame

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

It's like Family Fued but against ourselves . . in the kitchen

My folks are coming into town this weekend, yeah, to see us and my brother and sister-in-law. When more than 1 of us gets into the same room it pretty much means there is food around, and when it's more than 2 of us it can start to get fancy, some might even say sophisticated. Since I grew up with brothers, and only brothers, we tend to be a little competitive which is of course reaching its way into the kitchen.

This Saturday night there will be, to steal a line from my brother, an Aluminum Chef battle. It's aluminum because you know that other term is copyrighted and our culinary training consists of a Bittman book and Food Network.

We decided on a theme ingredient of pork shoulder* and will each do two courses. No dessert needs to be cooked so we don't have to worry about pork ice cream. So . . I'm soliciting ideas for what to make, I have a few things in mind but I'm always open to suggestion so comment away!

*If you live in the Denver metro area pork shoulder is only eighty-eight cents a pound at Safeway this week which is a mega good deal, go get some!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Menu Time: March 3, 2009

It feels like a short week this week as we are getting ready for my folks to come to town. My brother and are planning some festivities for dinner on Saturday, more to follow. This week's menu is all about using up leftovers from the weekend, all of which meant this week's grocery trip involved milk, yogurt, fruit, broccoli, 2 potatoes and an onion, that was it, amazing.

Pork chops, broccoli, cheesy mashed potatoes, salad and apple sauce.
(pork chops were in the freezer, broccoli was bought, leftover mashed potatoes from Saturday lunch, salad from Sunday dinner and apple sauce from my wife's root canal)

Turkey/ham/cheese wraps.
(we're meeting up with friends for a movie tonight and we're all bringing something to have a picnic, you have to take advantage of this 70 degree weather while it's here!)

Zucchini soup, BLTs

Hash, peas and carrots
(Leftover roast from Saturday lunch, hopefully this is a way to use up roast that we always seem to throw away . . )

Edamame, chicken fried rice, egg drop soup

I'll have an update on dinner Saturday later this week . . quick hint, there will be a theme ingredient and of course a challenge. This one will probably end up in more debate than the Chile cookoff from New Years Eve.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Review: The Capital Grille Larimer Square

My wife and I had dinner last week at The Capital Grille in Larimer Square as part of Denver Restaurant week. This was our first visit to The Capital Grille and overall it was a great experience.

The atmosphere was upscale but not super high end, the bar was hopping when we came in, for a Monday night this place was jumping, no doubt due to the restaurant week specials

The staff was very knowledgeable and quick to help, no pressure to up sell us on anything. We told the server we were interested in a bottle of wine, Spanish, and that we were both having steak. She asked for a price range and gave us a great suggestion with information about both bottles. We went with the 2006 Juan Gil that was a little fruity and not too dry, a good match for our steaks.

1st course
I choose the mushroom soup, my wife the salad. The salad was great, well dressed and with blue cheese, nothing special. the mushroom soup was a little thin but not bad. I'd recomend going with the salad.

Main Course
The Capital Grille was doing the same variation of roast chicken, steak, salmon. I'd had salmon the night before, and we roast chicken at home all the time. That left us with the steak, two options, the Kona crusted Fillet with roasted shallot butter or the dry aged sirloin with au jus. I went with the Kona crusted fillet, medium rare. The sirloin was more my wife's speed, cooked to well done. We added a side of potatoes au gratin and nibbled at the bread basket and sipped our wine as we waited. Diner was out in a relatively quick time and done exactly as we had ordered. I did make the mental mistake of ordering a shade too rare and forgetting that you actually get what you want in a place like Capital Grille, still the steak was wonderful and went well with our wine. The side of potatoes was a nice large portion, great for two people, with a nice bread crumb topping and tasty cheese in every bite.

There was no choice on dessert with the restaurant week special, it was a caramel ice cream served with an almond biscotti and chocolate sauce to pour over the top. It was not a huge portion but after steak and potatoes all I want is something a little sweet to top off a great dinner.

This was our first go at restaurant week though we have been meaning to do it for a few years. We had a wonderful time and suggest anyone who missed it last week try the a restaurant that extended the offer into this week. You can find that list at