Archive | March, 2011

RecipeHacking Deadline Extended!

28 Mar


The deadline for this round of RecipeHacking was yesterday and so far I’ve received only one submission. I’m trying to not feel too sad about this because I’m sure you all have good excuses. Right? So, in the hopes that more of you have just been ruminating on it but haven’t had a chance to cook your creation, I’m extending the deadline a week. New deadline is Sunday, April 3rd! Spread the word! Go have fun in the kitchen and report back to us about your new invention! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Here is the original post in case you need a refresher.

Here are some hints if you’re having trouble getting started: Think about changing the shape (individual servings vs. one big pie?), flavors (what would shepherd’s pie be like with an asian or mexican twist?), swapping typical ingredients for more exotic or unexpected ones (who says it has to be potatoes on top? or that the filling has to be lamb or beef?). The possibilities are endless and that’s what RecipeHacking is all about!

Winner gets bragging rights and a small prize!


Spice-Crusted Salmon

25 Mar

In an effort to expand our repertoire, we have been visiting quite often. Recently we tried this recipe and I think it’s a keeper! I was skeptical because I’m not a huge fan of fennel seeds but combined with the coriander and complimented by the sauce, they really worked in this recipe. And I love any excuse to use cilantro. The yogurt based sauce was light and fresh tasting.


  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 teaspoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 4 6-ounce salmon fillets with skin
  • Lime wedges
  • Mix yogurt, cilantro, 1 teaspoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon oil, ginger, and garlic in small bowl. (I cheated and used minced ginger from a jar and it turned out fine.) Season with salt and pepper. Place fennel seeds and coriander seeds in heavyduty plastic bag. Using mallet, crush seeds. (If you have a young child in your house, this is the perfect job for them to help with. Toby used one of his toy frying pans to pound the seeds to smithereens and had great fun doing it.) Sprinkle fillets with salt, pepper, and seeds. I didn’t think it looked like enough to fully coat the fish but it was the perfect proportion.

    Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fillets, seed side down. Cook until brown, about 3 minutes. Turn over. Cook until just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons lime juice. Place fillets on plates. Top with sauce; serve with lime wedge.

    We served it alongside white rice and green beans. Sounds kind of boring but the plain sides really let the stronger flavors of the fish and the sauce shine.

    (This recipe appeared in the Bon Appetit November 2010 issue)

    A Culinary Trip to Senegal

    18 Mar

    This past weekend the cooking club I’m part of got together for an African themed dinner. It was a lovely night – a gorgeous table set with perfectly presented food. All the recipes we selected were from Pierre Thaim‘s beautiful cookbook, Yolele! Recipes from the Heart of Senegal. I chose to make the vegetarian entree which was Vegetable Mafe, a root vegetable stew. It was the first time I really tried cooking this type of cuisine. The stew turned out ok but I think we all agreed it needed a little something. A good recipe worth tweaking to make it even better.

    Other menu items included: Yucassoise (like Vichyssoise made from Yuca instead of potato), Couscous & Smoked Tofu Stuffed Tomatoes (recipe actually called for Fonio, which is an African grain difficult to come by in our immediate area so we improvised with the couscous), Avocado & Mango Salad, Salmon Charmoula (my favorite of the evening), Black Eyed Pea Salad, Roasted Mango and Coconut Rice Pudding, and Chocolate Volcano

    Here’s the recipe and my two cents about the process and the finished product. Continue reading

    I like this

    17 Mar

    Who needs words to follow a recipe?

    RecipeHacking Challenge #5: Shepherd’s Pie

    12 Mar

    In honor of St. Patrick’s Day next week I’m choosing a quintessentially Irish dish to hack. Shepherd’s Pie! It’s been a while so if you’ve forgotten how RecipeHacking works or are new to RecipeHacking here’s the general idea. Look back at previous posts to see how we’ve challenged our readers to hack macaroni and cheese, beans and rice, pizza, and thanksgiving leftovers.

    Time to get creative in the kitchen! Tweak this Shepherd’s Pie recipe and post your creation in the comments section below. I can’t wait to see how you hack this one! Deadline for this hack is: Sunday,  March 27. The winner will win bragging rights and a small prize!

    Here’s a pretty basic recipe for Shepherd’s Pie adapted from Joy of Cooking:


    • 1 1/2 pounds all-purpose potatoes, peeled, quartered, and rinsed
    • Salt
    • 3 tablespoons butter, divided, 2 tablespoons kept chilled
    • Freshly ground pepper
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
    • 1 celery stalk, chopped
    • 1 pound raw ground lamb (for shepherd’s pie) or raw ground beef (for cottage pie) OR 1 pound finely-chopped leftover cooked lamb or beef
    • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup beef or vegetable stock
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme OR 1 teaspoon dried
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary OR 1 teaspoon dried


    Put the potato chunks in a large pot of cold water. Bring to a boil, add a teaspoon or so of salt, and cook until tender but not waterlogged, 10-15 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain the potatoes. Return them to the pot and cook over low heat for a minute to remove excess water. Then mash, adding the cooking water along with 1 tablespoon butter and salt and pepper to taste. Beat with a wooden spoon until fluffy.

    Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over a medium-low flame. When hot, add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 15 minutes.

    Increase the heat to medium and add the meat. Cook raw meat for about 10 minutes, stirring and breaking it up with a wooden spoon; brown leftover meat for about 5 minutes, stirring for even coloration. Spoon off any fat. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Add the stock, herbs, and salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Allow the meat to cool slightly.

    Spread the meat in a 9-inch pie plate or baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the top, making irregular peaks with the tines of a fork. Chop the remaining 2 tablespoons cold butter into small pieces and scatter over the top. Bake in the preheated oven until browned and heated all the way through, 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving in the baking dish.

    The sap is flowing…bring on the pancakes!

    4 Mar

    I’m a New Englander so I’m accustomed to having real, local maple syrup and I’ve been to a sugar shack and watched them boil down the sap more than once. I know that when the temperatures start to fluctuate this time of year you can expect to see the taps on the maple trees. The syrup is delicious and it alone is something to look forward to, but even more exciting and delightful is the custom of local sugar shacks hosting pancake breakfasts on weekends during the short sugaring season. I had never heard of this until we moved to this area and even then it took us a few years to catch on and actually go.

    Last year after two failed attempts to go to the North Hadley Sugar Shack (waiting more than an hour with an antsy toddler? not happening!), we discovered Steve’s Sugar Shack in Westhampton. The crusty snow was melting into slick mud, there was so much steam from the boiling sap it looked like the place was on fire, and the smell of pancakes and maple syrup was in the air. We sat at  one of the many big long tables, wedged shoulder to shoulder with other pancake lovers. It was pretty bare bones. Nothing but pancakes served on a paper plate but it was one of those fun experiences that made me feel connected to my local community.

    This year I’ve caught wind about a place that is serving carrot cake pancakes. Two of my favorite things combined into one amazing sounding breakfast food? Yes, please! It’s at one of the sugar shacks farthest away from where we live, but I think it might be worth the trek one of these Saturday mornings.

    If you’re interested, here’s a guide to some of the local sugar shacks. Pancakes for everyone!