Archive for May, 2011

I am doing something today that I haven’t done in a long time on this site: I am posting a recipe without a photo.  Gasp!  Alert the media!  Seriously, you all know what BBQ sauce looks like.  With a food like BBQ I care more about the ingredients then the color and am therefore imposing that on you all.

This BBQ  sauce is perfect for grilling chicken.  The trick is to baste the chicken with the sauce about every 12 minutes as its grilling.  Or you can use this sauce for anything else you can imagine.


Aunt Nancy’s Barbecue Sauce – 1 Knife


  • 10 tablespoons Ketchup
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 8 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder (sometimes also called dry mustard)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Two ¼ inch slices of lemon


  1. Peel a garlic clove and mince it into small pieces, or press it through a garlic press.  Set aside.
  2. Cut two ¼ inch thick slices off a lemon and set these aside.
  3. Cut the skin off of a ½ inch section of ginger, and then run that section of ginger over a fine grater.  Set about 1 teaspoon of the grated ginger aside.


  1. In a medium saucepan, not yet on heat, combine all of the listed ingredients above.  Stir to mix.
  2. Put the saucepan on a burner over medium heat.
  3. Stir the sauce occasionally so further blend it.
  4. Cook the sauce for a few minutes until all of the ingredients are incorporated together.
  5. Once finished use the sauce to coat your favorite meat and enjoy!

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It’s starting to get hot in DC, which means the office is starting to get freezing.  Office air conditioning is a curse and a gift, but it means that a lot of my lunches stay piping hot.  But if I want to eat al fresco, then I want my food either grilled or cold.  That is where potato leek soup comes in.  You can serve it piping hot or chilled ice cold.  This is one versatile soup.

To add to the versatility is the fact that you can substitute white onions for the leeks if you don’t have any around.  I learned that trick from Alton Brown.  I wound up making the soup this time around with onions and really enjoyed it.  Of course, if you have leeks, use them!  I did one additional substitution, which is that I used chicken broth.  I need to up my protein intake and so added it in.  It also added a nice flavor.


Potato Leek Soup – 1 Knife (Adapted from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest)


  • 3 fist-sized russet potatoes (or equivalent in size)
  • 3 cups leeks (3 or 4 big stalks)
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 stalk celery (see below for celery storage tip for remainder of celery head)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup vegetable broth or water
  • 3 cups milk
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • cracked white pepper to taste (or just use black, whatever)


  1. Wash the carrot and cut into ½ inch chunks. Set aside.
  2. Wash the celery and cut into ½ inch chunks.  Set aside.
  3. Wash and peel the potatoes.  Cut into ½ inch chunks.  Set aside.
  4. Wash the leeks carefully to remove any sand and dirt. Cut off the roots at the bottom and the thick greens off the top so all that’s left is they white and light-green stem.  Cut the stem in half down the length, and then slice into ¼ inch pieces.  Set aside.


  1. Warm up 4 tablespoons of butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Once melted add the leeks, potato, carrot and celery to the pot.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes to soften the leeks.
  3. Add the broth to the mixture, cover and reduce to medium-low heat.
  4. Cook for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender, stirring regularly.  You can add extra broth if the liquid runs low in the pot.
  5. To puree you can use a stick blender directly in the pot, or you can transfer the content of the pot into a blender.  Blend together with the milk until smooth.   If the blender is too small for everything you can transfer half into the blender, blend it, then move it to a heat-proof bowl while you then blend the second half.  Then combine both portions in the pot and stir to mix them together.
  6. Add the salt and pepper to the soup and stir to mix well.
  7. If serving hot, ladle it into bowls and enjoy!  If serving chilled place it in the fridge for a few hours to cool, serve and enjoy!

* I love it when I have to buy a whole bag of celery for a recipe but only need one stalk – not!  To keep it from going limp and rotten while it hangs out in your fridge wash and cut the whole thing down to small sticks (think snack size) and place them in a bowl or container.  Cover the celery with water until its all submerged.  You can store the celery this way easily for a while, plus you have an easy to grab snack just hanging out in your fridge.

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I don’t know why, but when I was at the farmer’s market last Sunday I thought it would be a brilliant idea to buy some meat and braise it.  I encountered some reasonably priced buffalo short ribs, and I was set.  I was also determined to cook these short ribs without a recipe, instead cooking entirely based off of my knowledge of food and what tastes good together.  Because of this measurements are inexact.  I literally was pinching out of seasoning jars.  Also because short ribs tend to be a marquee dish I decided to take the liberty of naming this recipe after myself.  It’s my blog, and I have that kind of power.

I decided to make sweeter-style short ribs.  I also wanted to use smaller quantities of seasoning so that the flavor of the buffalo could really sing.  Also, what’s great about short ribs is that no matter what you put in the pot that meat is going to taste delicious.

Rachel’s Buffalo Short Ribs – 2 Knives


  • 1 lb buffalo short ribs
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (or butter)
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup strong beef bullion (one bullion cube)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Pinch fennel seeds
  • Big pinch of nutmeg
  • ¼ cup Raisins


  1. Remove the skin from an onion and chop it into a coarse dice, set aside.
  2. Remove the peel from the garlic, chop it into a dice and set aside with the onion.
  3. Wash and pat dry the ribs with a paper towel.
  4. Cut the ribs so that each rib has meat on each side of it.
  5. Sprinkle the ribs with the salt and pepper.
  6. Boil 1 cup of water in a small pot over high heat.  Once boiling add one cube of bullion and allow to dissolve.  Once the cube is dissolved turn off the burner.


  1. In a large pot heat the ghee/butter over medium heat.  Once the ghee/butter has melted add the onion and garlic to the pan.
  2. Sautee for about 3-5 minutes stirring occasionally so that the onions soften and begin to turn translucent.
  3. Push the onions to the side of the pan and place the short ribs on the exposed bottom of the pan to brown them.  Turn the heat up to medium-high.
  4. After about a minute use tongs to turn the short ribs to brown the other side.
  5. After browning the meat for another minute or two lower the heat to low.
  6. Add to the pot the wine, tomatoes, beef bullion stock, and raisins.  Stir to mix.
  7. Add to the pot the cinnamon, cayenne, cumin, fennel seeds and nutmeg.  Stir to mix well.
  8. Allow the ribs to braise over low heat for four hours, stirring occasionally.  If liquid runs too low while cooking you can add more red wine.  
  9. Once ready, serve and enjoy!

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I love the warmer weather months for a lot of reasons.  But one of my top five reasons I love the warmth is that it means the farmer’s market finally becomes alive again.  After a winter of nothing but beets, potatoes and apples there is green again!  I have to say, I love my local farmer’s market located at Dupont Circle.  If you live in DC, you should go there.  I’m also excited that the White House farmer’s market a few blocks from my office is also opening soon!

I hope to start cooking a lot for this blog based on what’s in season.  Since I live in DC things will come into season a week or two before they will in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest.  This should give plenty of lead time when shopping and planning.

Today at the market there was lettuce and greens galore.  I decided to make myself a big old salad for the week.  Now salad is boring, but I thought to start the season right I’d give you a recipe for homemade salad dressing.  I use a special seasoning blend called “Lake Shore Drive” in this dressing but you can easily substitute with a quantity of another dried herb or seasoning mix.  Thyme, sage, Greek seasoning mixes all come to mind.  Salad dressing is an easy way to branch out and try new things without taking a big risk.


Simple Salad Dressing – 1 Knife


  • ½ lemon
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried mustard powder (you can also substitute in Dijon mustard)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Lake Shore Drive seasoning (your choice, see above)


  1. In a small bowl squeeze the juice from the lemon, removing any seeds.
  2. Add to the bowl the oil, mustard powder, salt, pepper, and seasoning.  Stir well with a fork to combine.
  3. Pour as much as you want over your salad, serve, and enjoy.  The dressing should last in the fridge for a few days.

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I am pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I love to cook up big batches of something to eat throughout the week.  Of course at some point I start to get sick of what I cook, but I try to make dishes I can happily eat for a while.  I liked making this pasta salad since it had fish (very good for you) and had a light citrusy zing.

There is one weird thing about this recipe… its based off a recipe I found on the Atkin’s website.  Now not to judge Atkin’s, or the fine folks who are on that diet, but how on earth does a pasta salad fit under that Atkin’s diet no-carb philosophy?  Just curious is all…

Now a quick tuna note.  The original recipe calls for tuna packed in oil.  I don’t buy that stuff. I like to use “Solid White Albacore in Water.”   I feel like canned tuna can be a polarizing food, and I fall strongly into the “Solid White Albacore in Water” camp.  If you fall into the packed in oil camp, go with what you like.  Besides, it’s you eating this recipe now, not me.

Pasta Salad with Tuna, Capers and Lemon – 1 Knife (Adapted from Atkin’s)


  • 8 oz dry bowtie pasta (measured to about 4 cups dry)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 12 oz can of tuna
  • ¼ red onion
  • 1 3.5 oz jar capers
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  1. Put a large pot of water over high heat.  Once the water is boiling cook the pasta according to the directions.
  2. Once the pasta is cooked and strained in a colander run cold water over the pasta to stop it from cooking.
  3. Cut the red onion into a small dice and set aside.
  4. Open the can of tuna and strain out the water or oil and set aside the tuna.
  5. Squeeze two tablespoons of lemon juice into a small bowl and remove the seeds, set aside.  Do this step after step 6.  WordPress had some formatting issues and so I had to put this step first to keep things looking pretty-ish.
  6. To make the lemon zest simply rub the skin of a lemon on a plane grater and set aside.  If you do not have a grater/zester, do the following alternative:

1)      Using a paring knife carefully slice some of the yellow lemon rind off of the lemon to get about a 1 inch patch of rind.

2)      On a cutting board cut the rind into long, very thin strips, about 1-2 millimeters wide.

3)      Then cut those strips into tiny pieces by cutting down the length of the strips.


  1. In a large bowl combine the pasta and olive oil and toss to coat.
  2. Add to the bowl the tuna, onions, the capers and their juices, the lemon juice and the lemon rind.
  3. Stir the salad until it is well mixed.
  4. Sprinkle the salt and pepper into the salad and stir again to mix, serve and enjoy!

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This weekend is the official start of summer in these parts.  Here in DC we’re partying at Virginia Gold Cup (shout out to University Row); meanwhile others are celebrating the Derby.  Yes, this includes big hats.  Big, HUGE hats.  And mint juleps.  Mint juleps as far as the eyes can see.

With my girls, the key to a delicious julep is mint-infused simple syrup.  My good friend Sass makes it the best, so I have featured her simple syrup recipe as a part of this julep recipe.  This simple syrup recipe makes quite a bit and will keep for a few weeks, so you will have plenty for extra juleps any time you want.

The second key to a good julep is the ice.  If you can make shaved or crushed ice it makes the julep that much tastier (just run the ice through the grater of a food processor).  If you only have ice cubes that is fine, however it will take longer for the ice to cut the sweetness of the simple syrup.

Mint Juleps with Sass’s Mint-Infused Simple Syrup

Simple Syrup Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs mint

Julep Ingredients:

  • 2 oz bourbon (sour mash works best, like Evan Williams)
  • 2 oz simple syrup
  • 3 mint leaves
  • 1 sprig of mint
  • ice to fill the cup
  • 3 oz soda water (optional)

Cooking the simple syrup:

  1. In a small saucepan add the sugar, water and mint, cover and place over medium heat.
  2. Allow to boil for a few minutes, stirring occasionally so the sugar doesn’t burn on the bottom.
  3. After about 5 minutes and the sugar is all dissolved remove from the heat.
  4. Remove the mint from the syrup, and allow the syrup to cool for at least an hour before using.

 Making your Julep:

  1. Pack a glass full of ice, hand packing if you are using shaved or crushed ice.
  2. Bruise the mint leaves by rubbing them in your hands so they turn darker.  Add the mint to the glass.
  3. Pour the bourbon and simple syrup into the glass.
  4. Add the soda water if you prefer to cut the sweetness.  I do this, but I know it’s not a traditional ingredient, hence it being optional.
  5. Add the spring of mint for garnish, and enjoy!

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Today’s potluck is comfort food themed.  This left the door open to so many different foods.  The only problem is that my comfort foods don’t work well with Ben’s entrée of meatball subs and/or grilled ham and cheese with tomato soup.  My comfort foods are eggplant parmesan, bagels with lox, noodle pudding, beef burgundy – foods that are either the star of the show, or I’ve already cooked recently on this blog.  I decided to go for a different favorite, green beans and spaetzle.  My dad would prepare the Bird’s Eye version to go along with a steak for dinner on busy work nights.  I decided to take things up a notch and cook the whole dish from scratch, including the spaetzle.

Now I should mention that my dad has given me flack lattely for in his view underrating the difficulty of some dishes.  I’m not going to sugar coat this dish, making spaetzle is a right pain.  It is messy and requires a lot of quick work.  So this recipe is not for everyone, but if you have a good sense of adventure and are willing to clean up whatever mess you make I recommend giving it a try at least once.  And if it turns out well you’ll have a great dish to make for potlucks and nice dinners for years to come.


Bavarian Green Beans and Spaetzle – 3 Knives (Spaetzle recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Spaetzle Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons salt

Green Bean Ingredients:

  • 1 32 oz package of frozen cut green beans
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1 small white onion
  • ½ cup beer (lager, pilsner or anything light – I used Miller Lite that I am trying to get rid of)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • spaetzle

Spaetzle Prep:

  1. One hour before you plan to cook the actual spaetzle, make the spaetzle dough by combining the flour, eggs, egg white and milk in a small bowl.
  2. Stir well until everything is well incorporated.
  3. Chill the spaetzle dough in the fridge for at least an hour prior to cooking.

Cooking the Spaetzle:

  1. In a large pot of water add the salt and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. In the meantime fill a large bowl with water and about 1 cup of ice to create an ice bath.
  3. Place half of the dough in a colander with circular holes, and using a spatula or the back of a spoon press the dough through the colander and into the boiling water.  I highly recommend wearing an oven mitt on the hand holding the colander over the water.
  4. Once the dough is pressed through allow to boil for two minutes.
  5. Using a slotted spoon remove the spaetzle from the pot and transfer it into the bowl with the ice bath.
  6. Once you have removed most of the spaetzle (getting all will be tough), repeat steps 3-5 with the remaining dough.
  7. Set the spaetzle aside in the bowl to be added to the green beans later in the recipe.

Green Bean Prep:

  1. Add the frozen green beans to a large pot of water and set on high heat to bring to a boil.
  2. Remove the skin from the onion and chop it into a fine dice.  Set the onion aside.
  3. Cut the bacon strips into small ½ inch pieces.  I just used the lean parts of the bacon, removing the excess fat.
  4. Measure and set aside ½ cup of beer.

Cooking the Beans:

  1. Once the green beans are boiling turn off the heat and strain the green beans, setting them aside.
  2. Heat up a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.  Once hot add the bacon.
  3. Cook the bacon for about 1-2 minutes until some of the fat has released.
  4. Add the onions to the pan and cook with the bacon for about 5-10 minutes until lightly browned.
  5. Add the beer, sugar, salt and pepper to the pan and bring to a boil.
  6. Once the liquid has boiled for about 2-3 minutes remove the pan from the heat.
  7. Add the green beans and stir well.
  8. Strain the spaetzle making sure to get ride of any access water.
  9. Finally add the spaetzle, mix well, serve and enjoy!

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