Monday, April 24, 2006


So, I learn something new everyday. For a girl that grew up in Texas and has had her share of salsa verde, I had never made anything with tomatillos before. I really thought they were just spicy green tomatoes.

And that is exactly what they look like, but they have husks on them! I had no idea! And once you cut them open, they don't look like tomatoes at all, but more like an eggplant.

They were firm on the outside and dense and seedy on the inside and the flavor was perfectly spicy and tart, and I made a lovely salsa with 1015s, quartered cherry tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro, and I dressed it in lime juice and a tiny bit of olive oil:

Then I sauteed diced chicken in olive oil, garlic, lime juice, and chili powder, and put the chicken, a generous amount of the salsa, and some shredded jack cheese into a simple salad of romaine, radiccio, and radishes. No dressing needed. The flavor was brilliant.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

They're here!!!

A word about 1015s... GO GET THEM NOW! They're only available from mid-April until about mid-June. 1015 onions were developed by an A&M horticulture professor in the early 1980s and are by far Texas' leading vegetable crop, upwards of $100 million a year. These onions are known by chefs the world over for their crisp texture and mild, sweet flavor, and of course, since they're from Texas, they grow up to the size of a grapefruit and can weigh as much as a pound!! In 1983, Texas held a "name the onion" contest for their new million-dollar baby and the winner was something like "The Texas Supersweet"-- but no one has ever called them anything but the "1015"- so named because the crop is planted on October 15th.

Seriously y'all. You can eat it like an apple. Also, they are huge and predominately single-centered, so they make fantastic onion rings.

Texas Sweet Onion Salsa:
2 C chopped 1015 SuperSweet Onion
2 C diced fresh peaches
1 to 2 T finely minced, seeded serrano or jalapeno (I don't like the taste of peppers but I like the kick, so I just use the seeds out of a jalapeno... I know, weird)
5 T chopped fresh cilantro
3 T tequila
2 t grated lime peel
2 T fresh lime juice
1/4 t ground cumin (optional)

I've also made this salsa with halved green grapes instead of peaches, and mint instead of cumin. Be creative! Serve with tortilla chips and chicken and beef skewers (marinate in lime juice, olive oil, & chili powder and grill). YUM!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Back to the Basics: Puttanesca

[poot-tah-NEHS-kah] The name puttanesca is a derivation of puttana, which in Italian means "whore." According to one story, the name purportedly comes from the fact that the intense fragrance of this sauce was like a siren's call to the men who visited such "ladies of pleasure." Another story just states that as prostitutes rarely had time to cook, this was their standard throw-all-the-left-overs-in-a-sauce meal.

Either way, puttanesca is a staple at Chalet J, as I almost always have the ingredients on hand even if it's grocery day. I whipped up this one at Krysten's last week:

This one involved what was left over in her fridge, which was fettucine noodles, grape tomatoes, spinach, red onion, green olives, garlic, and tomato sauce, and it was really good, but here at my house I usually make it a little something like this:

Throw a couple of swirls of olive oil in your skillet. Set your stove to medium high heat. After the oil gets hot you can back it down to medium. Throw in a couple of cloves of garlic and about a half of a white or yellow onion, chopped. Stir occasionally, until onions start to get translucent. If I have mushrooms I will add them at this point and cook them until almost done as well. I cheat with this dish and add a can of mostly-drained Del Monte Diced Stewed Tomatoes (I always keep the kind with basil and oregano; they're delicious, cheap, and time-saving, and the only thing in there that I wouldn't add myself is a little corn syrup). If you want to use your own stewed tomatoes, I would stir in fresh basil and oregano right before serving. Once that gets bubbling, I add a small can of plain tomato sauce, a small can of sliced black olives, drained, and about twice that many green olives (I always have olives; if I have Queens I will slice them as well; if they're the tiny ones I will either halve them or leave them whole). Reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer while you cook your pasta. Salt and pepper to taste and serve with freshly grated parmesan or another hard cheese, and some fresh basil, torn or chiffoned (roll up a few leaves into a cylinder and cut into thin ribbons).

There are obviously many variations on a basic puttanesca; I've been known to add celery, carrot shreds, whole garlic cloves, a squeeze of anchovy paste, pearl onions, Italian sausage (cooked and drained), capers, kale, and many other ingredients. My parents ruin it with add in green peppers. If it gets too thick, add more sauce, a bit of chicken broth, or dry white wine; too watery, add a bit of tomato paste. Enjoy!

the salad!

So, I made this salad from Orangette today. It's not quite as pretty as hers, but it is tasty!! I added lemon juice to the vinaigerette, of course.

1 endive, sliced on the diagonal
1/4 head raddichio, chopped
3 radishes, sliced in thin rounds
handful of cilantro, leaves only
1/2 small avocado, diced
1/4 C crumbled feta
freshly cracked black pepper

1 T whole-grain mustard
3 T red wine vinegar
1 t fresh lemon juice
1/2 t salt
olive oil, to taste

Mix up the first 4 ingredients and then stream the olive oil in very slowly, whisking contiuously until it reaches the desired consistency. YUM! Thanks Orangette!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

"Jam? Good. Custard? Gooood. Meat?? GOOOOOOD."

OK, so I have many things to post, including the Orgasmic Cherry-Amaretto Topping that Krysten and I created this weekend... but I've been really busy today. I will tell you that I just spent $120 at Central Market and I couldn't be happier. I bought wine and fancy mustard and anchovy paste (for caesar dressing) and cheese (feta, white stilton with apricots, basil & garlic gouda, cheddar with carmelized onions) and olives, they have an OLIVE BAR-- and produce: brussells sprouts, tomatoes, 1015 onions (yay!), tomatillos, radishes, radiccio, endives (I'm going to make this salad), romaine, avocado, apples, pears, Meyer lemons, and more! Mmmmmmm.

More to come.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Perfect Lemon Drop Martini

by Jamie & Krysten

It only took 4 tries... but we got it! (Or maybe we just think it's the perfect lemon drop martini after the first 3? Nope, this is definitely it.)

3 oz citron vodka
1 1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz triple sec

Put all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Divide into two really cool martini glasses. Watch Friends. Love life.


My mom is not a cook. I'm not sure where I got it, because that woman will only make things that involve the words "instant" and "ready-made." *holds vomit in* Anyway, that being said, before I left the house in 1994, I had only ever tasted canned pears. So there's absolutely no mystery why I thought I didn't like them.

I have since then discovered that I LOVE pears. My favorite is the sweet and juicy Green Anjou, but I also like Red Bartletts, super crisp Seckels, and dense, flavorful Boscs. Boscs have a shorter shelf life than an Anjou, but when they're good, they're good. My all-time favorite way to eat a pear is simply raw, with a hunk of good cheese and a glass of crisp white wine. Seen below, my mid-morning snack of a good Bosc and some fresh Edam:

OK, so I forewent the wine, as it's 9:30am. *weg*

I have a really good self-developed dessert made with pears, and Chanelle has inspired me to post if for you here:

4 large pears of your favorite variety, or whatever is in season
4 T brown sugar
1/4 C walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 C gorgonzola (or your favorite bleu) cheese, crumbled
about 4-6 oz. good port

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. It's easiest if you have a corer, but you can do it yourself with a long, thin, sturdy knife. Remove each core while keeping the pear intact (including the bottom). Nestle the pears in a square baking dish so they fit snugly and don't fall over. I use an 8x8 Pyrex which works if you have fairly big pears. If not, put them in indivual ramekins in the dish. Stuff each core cavity with thin layers of brown sugar, gorgonzola, and toasted walnuts. Fill up the cavity with port. Bake about 20 minutes or so, until the pears collapse in on themselves. Serve immediately.

Sorry there are no pictures, but this is an incredibly rich and beautiful dessert, and is actually very healthy! It's full of vitamins A and C, fiber, and calcium. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

guilty pleasure

Call me gross... but this is a breakfast of champions.

Cold, leftover take-out dumplings. Mmmmmmmm....

Friday, April 07, 2006

back to the basics: chapter 1

Back to the Basics, for my Tom, who loves salmon but only knows how to cook 2 things: jack and squat. :) He doesn't even own any pots and pans, but I'm going to get him on the right track. This is the easiest thing in the world to cook.

Tom, go to the store and get yourself a nice filet of fresh salmon. Make sure the flesh is firm and pink and doesn't smell too fishy.

I would say to use olive oil, since everyone keeps that in his pantry, but since you probably don't, I say go ahead and get yourself some sesame oil. It's got a great, intense flavor that goes really well with the fish.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Get a glass baking dish and pour a little oil in the bottom, just about a tablespoon. Tilt the dish around until the bottom is coated well so the fish doesn't stick. Lay the fish skin side down. Lightly prick the salmon with a fork, and drizzle just a little more oil on top. Add a teaspoon of minced garlic (also a staple, but it keeps well, so just buy a jar).

Squeeze 1/2 lemon over the top and then leave the lemon in the dish with the salmon. Add pepper and cook about 20-30 minutes, or however well you like it done. It should be able to flake easily with a fork.

Once it's almost done, drizzle a little honey on the top and pop it back in the oven on broil for about 2-3 minutes. It'll make a nice little crust on top.

I throw a few sesame seeds on top for crunch (and flair!) and serve as is, or with sauteed mushrooms and a caesar salad:

I can't wait to hear all about it! XOXOX

It's true...

... I make the best tuna salad in the world. Ask Sandy. Or Evan. Now, I know my Arizona girls (who make up roughly half my reader base) don't like fish... I KNOW! You can substitute 12 oz. chicken (cooked and diced).

This recipe is a staple in my house, plus, I really enjoy making it because I find all the chopping and dicing soothing. Weird? Quite possibly. But I turn on some tunes, sing really loudly, and choppity-chop-chop until I forget whatever's bothering me. That's right- you get recipes and pop-psychology all in one here at Dine Well!

So, my entries and pictures will never be as witty and awesome as Chanelle's... but I'll give it a whirl!

First, take 12 oz. of chunk white tuna packed in water and drain well. (Or, use chicken! Geez.) Next, chop 1/4 of a large white onion. This part is really fun for me because I get to use my Ulu knife:

After the onion, chop 1/2 a large apple:

Eat the other half of the apple while you're chopping. Decide you can't eat an apple without cheese and pause to slice a little havarti. Now, I used a Fuji apple because that's what I had, but it looks prettier if you use a Red Delicious. Next, chop 3-4 stalks of celery, to your preference. I like mine really crunchy so I use a lot! As a side note, the best way to store celery is in aluminum foil, but I have found standing it up in a mug with about an inch of water (like you do with asparagus) works just as well:

Next, fresh dill! Mmmmmm, so fresh and summery! Dill is a strong flavor so you only need about a tablespoon. The leaves off one stalk should be plenty.

Of course, since very, very few things come out of my kitchen without cheese, grate about 1/8 C parmesan or romano, or whatever hard cheese you keep on hand. Grate it finely so it doesn't soak up too much of the moisture.

Finally, add in 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 T whole-grain mustard, a generous amount of fresh cracked pepper, and just enough mayonnaise to mix everything together well. Now, this is my least favorite part because I hate mayonnaise and all it has to offer. I have to let my tuna salad (or chicken!) sit for a few hours so the flavors can settle in and I can't taste (or smell, ew) the mayonnaise. *shudder*

After a couple of hours, serve with your favorite bread or cracker. Enjoy!!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Lemon-Blackberry Goodness

I'm not sure what to call this dessert... it's supposed to be a pie, but of course I can't let any recipe BE, and I'm not a huge pie buff anyway. So I put it in ramekins like custard, but there's no dairy, so it's not really custard. Anyway, let's just call it Lemon-Blackberry Goodness... as I can never, ever get enough lemon! The blackberries are really delightful right now, but you can use raspberries, blueberries, pitted cherries, or any other berry of your choosing.

3/4 C fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3/4 C sugar
3 eggs
2 egg whites
4+ T freshly grated lemon zest
4 T melted butter
1 C fresh blackberries

Set oven to 325. Whisk together lemon juice and sugar and set aside. With your mixer, beat eggs and egg whites together until frothy; slowly add in lemon juice mixture and beat until it turns a bright yellow color. Stir in zest and butter.

Grease 6 small ramekins and cover the bottom with berries. Fill with lemon mixture and set on a baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes and cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Lady Mix-a-Lot

Today is the day... I cheated on Lent and bought a mixer. I wanted to make a dessert tonight and realized that when I moved into this apartment, I got rid of my old mixer (which, by the way, was a Sunbeam Mixmaster from the 50s or 60s which belonged to my grandmother). I hoped the discarding would prompt me to buy a new one more quickly... but it didn't, so I finally went today. It was very hard to not "shop" but I did a pretty good job.

I know my Arizona chefs live and die by their Kitchenaids, and I, too, was fully prepared to spend the money on the label, much like other women do with purses. However, when I got to the store, I realized that the best selling mixer in America only comes in black and white. Seriously. Now I can do red (my pots and pans) or brushed chrome (my other appliances) but I absolutely cannot do white or black.

My friend Amy told me she bought her mother a Sunbeam for Christmas (because if it's good enough for Paula, it's good enough for Anne) and it was a better deal. Begrudgingly, I looked. True story. It doesn't have the fancy attachments, but I don't need those anyway because I have my fancy food processor, but the motor is better than the Kitchenaid, it has the same whisk/paddle/hook, and does it? Yes, it comes in red and brushed chrome. To put icing on the cake (pun intended) - not only is it a full $100 cheaper than the comparable Kitchenaid model at regular price, but it was on sale. So even though I argued with Amy about wanting the Kitchenaid more than both my kidneys... I got this:

I used it tonight to make custard and I adore it. Step back, Kitchenaid! There's a new sheriff in town! (Custard to be posted in separate entry.)

Monday, April 03, 2006


So, most of you know that I never use pre-made sauces. I can't stomach the chemicals they usually contain, and don't approve of the unnecessary sugar, and generally enjoy making them on my own.

However, my Jewish friend Heidi recently introduced me to Soy Vey! Oh... mi... gah. It's the product of a Chinese girl and Jewish guy and it sort of a soy/teriyaki blend and it's just fantastic. All natural, no preservatives, and kosher... if you're into that kind of thing.

Tonight I sauteed 1/2 cup of onions and 1/2 cup of mushrooms in 1 T of sesame oil. Once the onions became transparent, I threw in a 5 oz. lean filet mignon, sliced, and after a couple of minutes on each side, added 2 T of Soy Vey! Served with a dash of sesame seeds, green beans al dente, and a glass of sauvignon blanc. Yum!!