Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dijon marinated chicken and olives

Last week was marked with cooler weather and this worked well on one of the breezier, cooler nights.

2 tablespoons whole-grain dijon mustard
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves

2 chicken breasts

1.5-2 cups green olives
1 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 pound tomatoes (i had romas on hand for this one)
2 cups white wine

Preheat oven to 425 deg F.

Mix the first four in a bowl and marinate the chicken breasts for 15+ minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a dutch oven on medium high until just smoking and sear the chicken breasts on both sides, about 2-3 minutes each side.  Remove chicken to a plate, lower the heat to medium, and add the wine and cook the alcohol off - about 1-2 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients, stir, place the chicken breasts on top, cover with lid, and place in oven for about 10-15 minutes until mushrooms are just cooked.  I like my mushrooms just barely cooked as the residual heat from the dutch oven will continue cooking the mushrooms after you take the pot out of the oven.

Spoon into a bowl with lots of sauce and serve with bread.  We used toasted pita which made great spoons.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cucumber Caesar dressing

If you like Caesar salad, you should try this recipe.  It's my take on a lighter, newer version.  It's a cross between wonderful, summery tsatski and creamy, savory caesar.  It's almost a quarter of the fat and calories too. In case you haven't enjoyed tsatski yet:  It's a greek yogurt sauce that is magic on anything.  Greek yogurt with cucumber, garlic, and lemon.  On that side note, you should try it sometime.  We use it on sandwiches and grilled chicken.

1/4 cup greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1-1.5 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cucumber

Puree everything but the cucumber in a blender / food processor until smooth.

Shred the cucumber on a grater and use your hands to squeeze some (not all) of the water out.  Mix with the dressing and refrigerate for about 10-15 minutes.

Toss with your salad and enjoy a caesar that is lighter and zippier.  And feel great about yourself because you ate salad which is crisp and alive.

I strongly recommend you either grill or find someone to grill some chicken marinated in lemon, olive oil, and garlic to enjoy with this salad.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


My father in law, Dan, has a specialty in that he makes ebelskievers on occasion.

I tried making them one morning before church thinking I could knock them out quick.

They're a pain in the ass.

Three things I learned from my experience:
1)  Do not skimp on the oil / butter / shortening that you use.  Otherwise the abelskievers will not brown properly and will stick and will drive you insane.

2)  These take a hell of a long time to make.  Do not make ebelskievers if you need to be somewhere else in the next 2.5 hours.

3)  They are worth the effort.

Here's the low-down:

Take a nice pancake batter recipe and make sure to whip the egg whites into soft peaks and fold them peaks into the batter at the very end.  I whipped my egg whites with the sugar from the recipe near the end of whipping to form a quasi-meringue texture.  This made it easier to fold the whites into the batter without deflating the egg-whites so easily.

Heat your ebelskiever pan (yeah, you gotta get some extra hardware for this.  DO NOT get that stupid "pancake-puff" pan that they advertise on TV.  That is of the devil and a perversion of what is Danish culture.  Get a cast-iron pan from Lodge Logic on amazon if  you can't find it anywhere else).  Drop a pat of butter and then a heaping tablespoon of batter into each well.  In about a minute or two you should be able to use toothpicks to rotate the little guys to brown the other side.  Give about two minutes and then remove and repeat for next batch.

These are delicious.  They're one of the first things Dan made for me when I moved here to marry his daughter.  When he cooks food for you, he does it in a way where you want to sit down and talk.  He's in a different stage of his life now and even though it's different, much of what I see now is the result of a life of struggle and rebirth in his own right.

When we're born, God walks with us through life.  For some of us, tragedy strikes and we hurt.  For some of us, God flips our lives over.  Sometimes it sucks when he flips us over because our lives spill out and you freak out because it looks like the batter of your life is getting everywhere.  But He is an expert at abelskievers and after flipping you see the deep, carmelized, crispy browning that has been happening this entire time.  Sometimes we don't always notice that deep down underneath all the chaos and emotions of our lives, we are slowly carmelizing into a brisk, sweet crunch that can only happen from patience, practice, and heat.  And after he flips, we begin to brown the next side of our lives.  

Oh yeah on a side note, these are traditionally served with a sprinkling of a special type of large-grain sugar but Dan uses powdered sugar with much success.  We dipped ours in maple syrup from

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fathers Day

I could have posted this on Fathers Day but I was caught up being with my family.

Yesterday was the baby shower for Ian who is not yet born but cooking in the womb of the most beautiful and wonderful woman in the world.  Thank you everyone for your support.  I struggle with socialization and do not express gratitude as often as I should.  You challenge my soul to rise up and shine the light of God in ways I never thought possible.

And on that note...

My daughter is going on four years.

I can't help but day dream what she's going to be when she's older.

Own her own restaurant?  Naw, I don't want that kind of life for her.  Too much.

Maybe a few years and then to her own bakery.  A slightly better pace.

I don't know but i know a few things:

She helps me love my wife more than I ever thought.

She makes me aware of my own weaknesses and how I can be a better man.

She reminds me that life isn't always about efficiency, perfection, and order.

She makes me damn proud.

And with Ian just around the corner, I day dream again...

Of long afternoons with a family that cooks, bakes, and eats.

Because we love food.  Not the quantity of food.  Not the quality of food.  But the meaning of food.

Food brings us together.  Great food should be shared.  Enjoy real food in real quantities.  Every meal is a sacred gift from the Lord your God and should be viewed and enjoyed as such.

"No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed.  Instead he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light."  - Luke 8:16