Flipping again through my favorite UK food magazines, I spied an advertisement which I cannot tell you what the product was, but what I can tell you is that it had a slice of marbled ice cream that appeared to have been prepared in a loaf pan. There was no accompanying recipe, no source of information, yet suddenly an idea was born. I pondered.
Now I’m certain that this is not a new fangled dessert, it’s too easy to be such, but it was the first time that it had occurred to me to put ice cream into a shape other than a) cone 2) dish or 3) Baked Alaska. How ‘cool’ is that?
Here are a dozen and a half highlights of 2009:
Organic carrots – cleaned 5lbs at a time. In 2009, our kids discovered vegetables beginning with carrots.
Stock – This year we were quite intentional about regularly making stock and using as the flavor base not only for soup, but also for rice, couscous and even to saute vegetables in a low fat way.
Tortilla soup with homemade tortilla chips – Soup became the staple of the year as we developed favorite flavor profiles.
Ribs – Ken perfected BBQ ribs this year with a savory rub and a long and low process of cooking.
Pizza – He also perfected both crust and topping combinations to the extent that it’s a rarity that we eat carry out pizza.
Salmon Chowder – This soup used both our kitchen made stock and utilized seafood which we had made a commitment to eat more of in 2009.
Roladen – A favorite, reminiscent of our days in Munich. Also one of the most Googled recipes of 2009.
Ice Cream Cake – The temperature on July 8, Madeleine’s birthday, was 104 degrees and thus we decided to have an ice cream cake for her. What a fun new way to celebrate. I’d like to try to make one.
Ox Tail Soup – Another of the most Googled recipes of 2009, however, it was probably one of my biggest culinary disappointments of the year. I had wanted to try ox tail for a very long time and when I came to find out that my maternal grandmother, one of my earliest cooking teachers, made it that desire increased. Well, the soup/stew wasn’t what I expected. Maybe I’ll try again in the new year.
Charlie Trotter – Eating at the Kitchen Table and meeting Charlie himself was an amazing way to celebrate Ken’s dissertation defense and inaugurate the final steps toward his PhD (which he received in May).
Meatballs – One of the funniest food episodes this year is when I made meatballs, and I kept making them, and making them, and rolling them, and preparing them, and making them… 442 in total.
Hot and Spicy Chicken Wings – Mine are the best in the Valley, no, in the world.
Olive Burger – Hungry for an olive burger like the one at the Keyhole Bar in the UP, I tried to re-create one. My version was quite delicious, but still it just wasn’t quite it. Unplanned, our summer vacation included a 2000 mile (each way) road trip to the UP and the Key Hole Bar where I ate the real thing.
The Perfect Steak – Ken’s grilling mastery is off the charts: delicious, juicy, and what beautiful grill marks on the steaks. Likewise, he’s grilled fish, ribs, ratones, and vegetables.
Grilled Cheese – This was Madeleine’s first grilled cheese that she made “all by herself.” Another Madison House Chef is launched.
Blueberry Muffins – 2009 was a year of baking and sharing baked goods. Baking is still one of my favorite ways to relax.
Pork Picnic – We tried and successfully accomplished Pulled Pork!
Bok Choy – This was our new vegetable of the year. While I’d eaten it many times before, I had not ever cooked with it, but now it’s in the regular rotation of vegetable sides.
Looking to 2010 I’m hopeful to do more baking, to explore more vegetables and create new ways to eat them, and to eat at another world class restaurant (maybe in Spain, the UK, or Finland). I look forward to learning to make homemade sausage, finding a great paella recipe, and continuing to catalogue these recipes (and share them) via this Madison House Chef blog.
Happy New Year, 2010 – Enjoy!
This year I was fortunate enough to be part of a very traditional part of Christmas preparations here in the valley -- the making of tamales. What a wonderful experience to be standing side by side with Mexicans and Anglos alike, preparing a delicious holiday food, all the while hearing stories of generations of families working together to craft the festive food of masa, lard, meat and beans. Through the community work of preparing for the next days fiesta meal, I enjoyed entering a little deeper into the culture of a warm and welcoming community where family, faith, and respect are still highly valued and reflected in daily life.
This evening we’re hosting our annual Advent – Christmas Party to thank the leadership that work with me throughout the year. This year’s menu of desserts and red wine includes a new Peppermint Yule Log and of course, the annually requested New York Style Cheesecake with cherries.
This cheesecake is a long time staple in our family; it’s been in my recipe box for nearly 20 years and in my mother’s long before that.
Having decided that meatloaf just didn't seem to be the meal I wanted to remember as our last of 2008 I went to the store and picked up some Johnsonville sausage and a bit of ground pork. Channeling my inner 1970s hostess the meatballs began to cook I thought "it smells like a holiday." I remember my mom making mini italian meatballs (aka cocktail meatballs). She plunked them into a pan with onion soup mix and water to keep them moist and hot until we ate them (at the party, of course) with BBQ sauce. Delicious.
Here's my version... one based on her recipe whose origin I don't know. Mom? Where did the recipe come from? I guess: Auntie Weeza.
For a small batch (10-12 dozen)
1.5 lbs fresh ground beef
1 lb fresh ground pork
1 pkg sausage (mild; 5 Johnsonville size sausages)
1 pkg of Lipton Beefy Onion soup mix, dry
1/2 a container of Italian bread crumbs (I have no clue how much... a cup?)
Place all ingredients into the bowl and mix together thoroughly with your hands.
Roll into 1 inch balls
Place in 350 degree electric frying pan. Cook on one side until a 'crust' forms and they roll over easily to the uncooked side. You know it's time to turn them when the cooked color of the meat reaches about 1/3+ of the meatball. Roll them over and cook the other side. There is no timing here -- just cook them until they are 'done' and no longer pink. This is the one and only time I condone well done beef, but the pork and sausage are in there too thus I'm being safe.
Drain on a paper towel (or paper grocery bag). Put into a serving dish. Eat with a toothpick.
These freeze FABULOUSLY and the meat comes together in triple, or more, easily. I like to do a big batch 5 lbs each meat and then freeze them. (Hey, my hands are gooky with meat, might as well keep going, they don't take long and kids find rolling meatballs to be fun.)
These mighty bites make great meatball subs, go well in spaghetti sauce, or go easily onto a pan next to the pizza rolls when someone has the late night munchies (I won't say who...)