Monthly Archives: May 2010

Update 1: List of 30….

30 Before 30….UPDATE!

A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.” -Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Quick update of where we are on our list:

  • 4 recipes done, 26 to go.
  • 1 underwhelming end result, 1 lovely housewarming gift, 1 delicious french sauce, and 1 fabulous piece o’ beef
  • 5 never before used ingredients
  • 1 indulgent dinner party
  • 1 1/2 pounds of butter used.  I know…you’re so impressed.

I haven’t been cooking as quickly as I had hoped….time to pick up the pace! My “2 recipes a week” schedule has been derailed by weekends pretending that I could still attend bachelorette parties/weddings and not feel almost 30 the following day.  But, don’t worry intrepid eaters, we’ll make it.  This will come to a more satisfying conclusion than LOST did.  Seriously…so many questions!!

And a friendly notice to our upcoming house guests, local friends, and dinner invitees: start fasting now…you’ve got lots to eat.  Also, please buy some more wine.

Here’s where we stand:

1. Paella– still pending

2. Crown Roast/Standing Rib Roast– going to require its own dinner party!

3. Gravy– I have a recipe chosen and willing participants!

4. Homemade pasta and Bolognese sauce – nothing planned yet

5. Potato Latkes– I’m thinking a weeknight dinner for this one.

6. Hollandaise Sauce Great success!

7. Duck l’Orange– have a friend who’s called “dibs” on this one for dinner.

8. Some kind of Curry A little underwhelming…but great leftovers!

9. Red Velvet Cake– 30th birthday cake?!

10. Real Fried Chicken– mmmmm, anytime sounds good.

11. Salmon on a Plank– perfect for a summer grill out.  Who wants in on this one?

12. Homemade Cinnamon Rolls– we have July house guests…so this will be perfect!

13. Soft pretzels– no plans yet

14. Lobster– a few friends pitched the idea of a “BYOL” party…which could be interesting.  Very interesting.

15. Soupe de poisson or similarly, bouillabaisse– still in the works

16. Chicago Style pizzanext week!

17. Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes– no plans yet…anyone want to plan a wine and dessert night?

18. A “Turducken”– making for a friends housewarming party in July

19. Sourdough Bread– may have to get the “starter” going next week

20. Shepherd’s Pie– no plans yet

21. Coq au vin– might be perfect for another round of house guests.  Guess people aren’t so much flying over as they are staying over…

22. A really, genuinely good casseroleWe’re armed and ready to deploy! Watch for it soon…

23. Pea Soup– waiting for a cool spell…it’s been too hot in flyover country!

24. Soufflé– gathered a few recipes, now I just have to work up the courage!

25. Real Gumbo– perfect for another group dinner.  I’m sensing trend here…

26. Tiramisu– maybe bring this along to book club?

27. Homemade Applesauce So simple. So delicious.  So….apple-y.

28. Polenta– weeknight dinner with the handsome husband

29. Beef Wellington Blown. Away.

30. Key Lime Pie– making for our 4th of July house guests…lucky them!

Set the's time to eat!!

So: hit the treadmill…the next few weeks will be full of butter and deliciousness. Thank you to everyone who’s been reading….I’m having more fun than you can imagine!

xoxo Flyover Foodie

p.s. Hope you are enjoy the long weekend!

Currying Some Favor

“The lion is most handsome when looking for food.” – Persian poet, Jalal Din Rumi

Curry Powders

While trying to come up with a name for this post, I kept getting the phrase “try to curry favor” stuck in my head.  I don’t know where this came from since I’m pretty sure I’ve never used that expression.  But,after checking to make sure it meant what I thought it meant, I does sort of work for this post.

One of the handsome husband’s favorite foods is curry.  Of course he likes it about 29389 times spicier than I do, but nonetheless, its still a favorite.  So he was excited to see it on the 30 before 30 list.  I guess you could say I was currying some favor when adding it to the list.  See what I did there?!!  Food pun…fantastic.

Last week I started digging around for a recipe for chicken curry.  Seems easy, right?  Not really.  Most of the recipes seemed either overly simple or were big enough to serve 10 people.   So I sort of combined two recipes.  This one from and the recipe for chicken curry from The Joy of Cooking.

Instead of giving you a step by step of the recipe, I’ll do a quick summary of each part.

Ginger, onions, garlic, and red chilies

First, sear the chicken for a couple minutes on each side then remove from the pot and keep warm.  Then you’re going to melt…you guessed it, butter.  This household needs to buy stock in butter…honestly. Into the melted butter goes chopped ginger, onions, garlic and dried red chilies.

After it was all really soft I added the tomato paste, and curry powder.

And now a brief clarification: curry powder is sort of a myth.  Curry powder is actually a mixture of a bunch of other spices you probably already know about: cumin, coriander, turmeric, red pepper and something called “fenugreek”, which is an amber colored seed with a strong smell.   So it’s basically like buying “Italian Seasoning”….just more exotic and with its own fancy name.

Chicken curry....almost done.

So now into the pot goes chicken broth and a can of coconut milk.  Mmm….coconut milk.  Bring to a simmer and add chopped tomatoes, cilantro, lemon juice and some lime zest.  I actually added some chopped carrots and green pepper as well.  Now pop the chicken back in and let it simmer until its thickened and the chicken is fully cooked.

We added a little salt and some crushed red pepper, since it didn’t have enough kick for the handsome husband.  Not terribly surprising since it wasn’t making me sweat/clearing my sinuses out.

All in all, it was pretty good.  But, it wasn’t as good as the curry I’ve had at restaurants.  And, the chicken was a little bland.  Joy of Cooking suggested using thighs, but I didn’t feel like they had much flavor.  The sauce was really rich, but it didn’t get as thick as I would have liked.

Oh- and it stained my favorite spatula a scary yellow color. (see pic above)  Grrrr.

Curry dinner for two...and plenty for leftovers!

So, all in all…not the ringing success that some of the other recipes have been.  But, I was still currying favor with the handsome husband with leftovers the next day.  No?  Too much?

UNFORESEEN BONUS: I discovered that you can buy low fat coconut milk.  I’m sure purists would wince at that, but c’mon,  I have suit pants that need to fit!  And coconut milk is delicious in this sauce and I’m hoping to use it as a summer marinade.  And by marinade I mean in pina coladas.

More to come soon…including a list update!

Sauce for Wellington

So in my excitement to post about the 2010 Beef Wellington Extravaganza, I forgot to mention the sauce I made to go with it.   I have to share…its really good.

Joy of Cooking recommended several different recipes for sauce to go along with the beef, including a mushroom wine sauce.  I used that recipe as my jumping off point.

First, you want to use the pot that you used to sear the beef roast: all the flavor and-  I’ll say it- the fat will provide a great base for the sauce.  Next, chop up about 2 cups of mushrooms and 1 medium sized shallot.

Mushrooms and butter...mmmmmmm

Melt a couple tablespoons of butter in the pot and then toss in the chopped mushrooms and shallots and some kosher salt.   Saute them for a few minutes then add in a few tablespoons of the duxelles that you reserved and a couple tablespoons of Madeira.  You KNEW that duxelles would come in handy, didn’t you!?

Cooking down the mushrooms

After a couple more minutes, add a few cups of chicken stock.  I tossed in about 2 1/2 cups…it was all that was left in the fridge!  Now, let it cook and cook stirring occasionally until its cooked down and thickened.  The beauty is that you can turn the heat way down and leave it on the stove until your roast is ready…just make sure you stir it every so often.

I added some more butter (shameless) and a little black pepper toward the end of cooking.  I just kept tasting the sauce and adding to taste.  It made a gravy-boat-full of sauce….that’s the metric system.

It was fantastic with the beef wellington, buttery and with the same deep flavors of the roast.  Also the mushrooms stay firm and are great secretly plucked out of the gravy boat and eaten with the wellington and any sides you make to go with it.

NOTE: I feel like this recipe is pretty much the standard approach to many sauces:  Deglazing the pan you cooked meat in, adding flavors (mushrooms/shallots) and then adding liquid (stock/Madeira) and reducing down.

I apologize for the lack of a “finished product” picture….it got devoured pretty quickly.  Consider that an endorsement!

More soon…I apologize for the brief hiatus!

Calling all Casseroles!

“I refuse to believe that trading recipes is silly. Tuna fish casserole is at least as real as corporate stock.”

– writer Barbara Grizzuti Harrison

Broccoli Casserole, image from Cooking Light Magazine

In order to stay true to my roots in flyover country, I included “a casserole” on my list of 30 recipes.  It was intentionally vague.   I have a limited casserole experience and even less casserole knowledge.  Yet, the casserole is a pillar of life in flyover country.  Having at least one delicious casserole recipe in my repertoire will be a right of passage for me.

A casserole, technically, is pieces of meat or poultry and vegetables baked with a binding starch and some form of liquid, often accompanied by a crunchy topping.  It is different from a stew because you bake it rather than cook over heat on a stove top.

The problem is, I don’t have any tried and true, delicious casserole recipes.  My mom occasionally made the one with scalloped potatoes and ham, but few others.

Confession: I didn’t eat green bean casserole until I was in college.  We never had it….ever.  No, it was not even part of the Thanksgiving regalia.  SECRET: I don’t really even like it.

The infamous green bean casserole, absent from my childhood home.

The goal is to make a casserole on Sunday evening.  Sunday is the four+ hour LOST finale extravaganza, so I will be out of the kitchen and on the couch. Perfect night for a casserole!!  SO– I’m soliciting your recipes and suggestions.

What is the best casserole you’ve ever had?  Is there a recipe that puts all other casseroles to shame?  Are there <gasp!> gourmet casseroles out there?

And include the story.  Is this the tater tot casserole your mom makes when you come home?  Is it the tuna casserole your spouse begs you to cook?  Is it the recipe off the back of a soup can label?

** Leave me a suggestion in the comments or email me at  Thanks in advance for sharing!

Hollandaise and Spargel Parties

“Woe to the cook whose sauce has no sting” – Geoffrey Chaucer

A few years ago, I was traveling in Germany during the late spring.  It was then that I discovered the German’s love of spargel (pronouced “shpar-gul”)  There were signs on the side of the road advertising spargel for sale, billboards advertising spargel dinners.

According to our tour guide, aka my older brother, there were even parties centered around eating it.  Clearly it was a food whose seasonal arrival brought on a fury of consumption.  Though we never attended one, my travel partner and I enjoyed declaring “SPARGEL PARTY!!” whenever we were in a particularly festive mood.

Someday I will attend one….someday…..


Spargel is white asparagus.  It’s just like regular green asparagus, but grown underground.  Its special growing method keeps the plant from photosynthesizing, so it stays both tender and white.   Kind of like being indoors during a Midwestern winter.

Many of the signs advertising tempting vegetable showed it plated with a yellowish sauce.  I later found out spargel is typically served with hollandaise sauce.

While shopping for beef and pate last weekend, I spotted white asparagus nestled in with the other green vegetables and snatched it up.  Being of German roots and having a slew of ties to Germany, it seems fitting to give spargel its proper due: I would prepare hollandaise sauce.  Also, out of respect, I will refer to it by its given name: spargel.  SPARGEL PARTY!!

You prep spargel just like asparagus: Rinse it off and remove the hard or woody ends of the stems.  I roasted it in the oven, just tossed in a little olive oil and some salt.  About 15 minutes in a 350° oven should do it.  You want them to be a little firm still.

Now for the sauce.  Lots of recipes for hollandaise include scary descriptions of sauce gone awry.  Words like “curdled”, “broken” or even “scrambled” were warnings of the delicate nature of preparing hollandaise.

For this reason, I went with Alton Brown’s recipe from The  He seems like the right guy to foolproof a tricky sauce like this.  Since there were just two of us for dinner, I cut the recipe by 1/3.    I didn’t think we needed 1 1/2 cups of hollandaise sauce.

Start by heating an inch of water in a sauce pan and finding a bowl that will sit comfortably on top of the pan.  The sauce is cooked over the steam from the water.  Simmer the water and then turn to low.  SLOW AND STEADY are going to be the key words to this recipe.

I whisked my two egg yolks and water in the bowl, off the heat, for about a minute.  Add the little bit of sugar and mix for another 30 seconds.  Now…time for some steam heat.

Place the bowl over the heated, slightly steaming water.  Stretch your arm…and start gently stirring with your whisk.  You don’t want the eggs to cook solid (ie. scramble) so make sure you keep them moving gently.  I was whisking for a good 5 minutes before I noticed that I could pull the whisk through and see a clear line.

Once I saw that happening, I lifted the bowl off the heat, set it on a hot pad, and added in one of the small pats of butter.  I had already cut my butter into pats and then cut those into quarters.  I basically had little cubes of butter.   I added one and then whisked until it was fully melted before dropping in another one.

Whisk, whisk, whisk

After adding every 4 or so cubes of butter, I would pop the bowl back on top of the pot on the stove to get rewarmed. I would keep adding butter slowly while it was on the stove as well.  And yes….I was whisking the whole time.

Eventually I added all the butter.  Yes….a whole stick of butter had slowly melted in there.  Our butter consumption has spiked in the last week.

Slowly I added the lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and a dash of cayenne pepper while still whisking.  After tasting, I a little more salt and a couple grinds of pepper to bring out the flavor just a bit.  The sauce had NOT separated or gotten too thick or started cooking into scrambled eggs.  Victory. SPARGEL PARTY!!

A few more whisks and tastes…and, could it be?!  Had I really just made hollandaise sauce!?   I poured it into our milk frothing pitcher from the expresso maker. (shrugs) It was nearby and had a handle and a pour spout.    The recipe made about a cup of sauce.

Are you ready for it?  Ready?

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