This past fall Ben and I took a long overdue trip/honeymoon/holiday and found ourselves in Spain. It was a weeklong gastronomical adventure tapas hopping from one restaurant to the next. We did our best to eat and try as much food as humanly possible dining on octopus, iberico ham, prosciutto, ham croquettes (FYI, in Spain, the pig reigns supreme), salted cod, fine olive oils, cured tuna, foi gras prepared different ways, paella and the freshest seafood you could imagine. Amazingly, we did not gain the 5-10 lbs that we’d banked on bringing home with us due to all of the walking, sightseeing, and exploring that Barcelona and Valencia had to offer.
We had a recurring trend throughout our meals, and it began the first day at our first official Spanish tapas restaurant. We’d just unloaded our luggage at the flat that we’d rented, and wondered through the Born district in search of a bite to eat. We sat down to a meal of shrimp, tomatoes and goat cheese, foi gras with ginger bread, potato and ham croquettes, and a wonderful tomato bread that became our Spanish staple that we’re sharing with you here.
It was just over 6 years ago that Ben and I moved back to the Midwest from Colorado. As sad as we were about leaving a city and state that we loved where Ben had earned his photography degree, I had my first
“job” out of college, where we alpine slid through the Rockies, where we’d eaten extremely well (if you need Denver restaurant suggestions- let me know- I’m your girl), and made lifelong friends, we knew that moving back to be closer to our families was the best thing for us. We really missed the quality time with our families, and the holidays just didn’t cut it. There’s something very comforting in the simplicity of just going home and being with your family. This dish is near and dear to me. Ben’s mom made this for us once shortly after the move, and I’ve probably made it 100 times since. It has all of the elements that will make your taste buds dance. I hope you like it.
We hope that everyone had a great weekend. We did celebrating our good friends’ weddings (Abby + Jason and Tim + Emily), the 4th of July, parents’ anniversary (congrats Judy & Steve to 40+ yrs of wedded bliss), and a sister’s birthday (Kari- happy birfday!), and we topped it all off with a trip to the emergency room. There was an incident in the kitchen, involving a Wustof, a bundle of cilantro and my left index finger. The good news is that the dish was saved and the finger was salvaged- thank you very much Resident, soon to be full-fledged Dr. Rassman. Hopefully you all were able to remain unscathed in your Independence Day festivities. I’m sure that you all had many BBQ’s and cookouts and more of those to come with the remaining month(s) of summer. So with that in mind if you do find yourself as a guest or host and can’t think of something light, summery, salady, and tasty, give this couscous salad a go because it fulfills all of thee above requirements.
One of my favorite memories from my childhood is my mother making noodles from scratch. I can recall many times when coming home from school and my mother would have noodles hanging and drying all over the kitchen. I thought it might be fun to recreate a memory from her past. When I asked my mother what food takes her back to her childhood, her response was rice pudding. She described it as having a creamy texture with a sweet finish and has tried to recreate this dish with little success. I thought that we would try of honor her memory with my version of rice pudding.
It’s hard to believe that fall is already upon us. Football season has officially started- thanks Chiefs for giving Kansas City a “W”. We’ve been able to turn off our a/c on occasion. Oliver’s shedding has reduced significantly. Friends are lighting up their fire pits. The Halloween paraphernalia is hitting the store shelves. The new fall prime-time television season is about to start which means new premieres and the final season of The Office with the beloved Steve Carrell. Just as life changes with the season, so does the local produce. One of our family favorites that gets worked into our fall/winter food rotation are our Acorn Squash Potatoes. It’s quick, easy, tasty, and good for you. Not only that, but it’s the type of dish that will turn squash skeptics into fans of this affordable and healthy produce. It’s packed with nutrients, and when cooked well, gives a sweet, earthy flavor that is wonderfully rich. This squash potato combination is great because you can dress it up or dress it down. We had it for dinner last night with chicken sandwiches, and we don’t have a holiday dinner without it. Hope you enjoy.
It’s pretty unbelievable how fast a year can go by, and that’s what we’re celebrating. It was 1 year ago on September 3, 2009 that the Foodies officially launched the Four Foodies. We’ve eaten very well over the past 12 months, and it’s been a pleasure sharing and trying some new recipes, flavors, and memories with you. Our favorite thing about the blog has been hearing from you. Your feedback and comments are what keep us going, and we try our best to reply to your questions & comments.
Another thing that we’d like to say- we sincerely apologize for having been negligent over the past month. It’s been a very busy summer between seeing friends and family, and needless to say we’ve dropped the spatula. I’ve been fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and training for the Women’s Nike ½ Marathon in San Francisco. Ben has recently moved into a new studio space that will put us in close proximity to our favorite farmer’s market, so we’ll have inspiration of the local farmers to keep us cranking out new posts. We also went on a long overdue and well deserved trip to Europe. Our souvenirs that we brought back were the few pounds that we gained while dining on the anything and everything that sounded good, looked good, and smelled good. Rest assured we’ll be serving up a new recipe inspired by the Dutch, and no, there’s nothing freaky deaky about it.
So, to mark our anniversary, we are repeating the dinner that we had the night we kicked off the Four Foodies. My first go at this dish was a few years ago. Ben was skeptical- with good reason. It was another one of those odd cravings- “I want it, yet I’ve never had it.” We’ve served it many times since marking other special occasions- the first 2008 Presidential debates, my older brother Scott’s visit to KC, my sister & husband’s visit this past March when she gave me the big news that they were preggers, and of course the launch and now anniversary of the Four Foodies. It’s fun. It’s festivus. It’s Jambalaya
Strange as this may sound, but Ben’s four cheese macaroni is somewhat of a wedding staple. Last year we had the honor of cooking the rehearsal dinner for a couple of our best friends Mark & Jane on the beautiful beach of Fripp Island in South Carolina. It was an amazing night. 60 of their friends and family had traveled from all over the country to be there, so no pressure right? We successfully pulled it off- no food poisoning; no one went hungry; and everyone loved the stick to your ribs mac & cheese. So, November rolls around, and we figure, “If we can cook for 60 we can totally handle 120, right?” That’s what pretty much happened. A friend of Ben’s was shopping for a caterer do to her wedding reception that followed a destination wedding in the Bahamas. Ben writes up a menu featuring the mac & cheese, and it’s done- we’re cooking for 120ish. I have to tell you that never in my life had I ever felt like we were more “in the weeds” than that night, but we made it through- marriage in tact (our marriage that is), guests with full bellies, happy bride & groom that were even happier that there was mac & cheese that they’d be able to offer to family & friends staying in town with them. And that leads me to our latest newlyweds, our wonderful friends and neighbors, Bill & Sarah. We began talking about their rehearsal dinner way before we were even asked to do it, and a month before the date, they popped the question to us, “Will you, Ben and Kim, cook our rehearsal dinner?” We said, “Yes!” The guest list was petite consisting of the wedding party and the Foodies. Sarah’s sister Emily hosted the dinner at her home giving Ben and I free reign over her kitchen and grill. The menu consisted of French potato salad with new potatoes & hariots verts, a bountiful mixed green salad with a mixture of in season produce, a few tenderloins of pork and beef served with an arugala salad and horseradish sauce served on fresh rolls, homemade ice box cookie ice cream sandwiches, and of course the mac & cheese. The thing that we’d like to let you know is that Sarah is a vegetarian, and we offered to create a special dish just for her, but she declined having sampled the mac & cheese previously saying that the mac & cheese would be perfect for her. So this is our tribute to our wonderful friends that have given us the honor of feeding their loved ones during the most memorable times in their lives- we give you the sacred recipe for Ben’s four cheese macaroni.
What do you make when you are having a winter that won’t quit? Here in the midwest we have having a losing battle with old man winter. Just when you think the weather is going to let up, a new storm comes along and traps you inside for a week straight. We are trying to make meals that will help with cabin fever. Risotto is a process, and with patience and a few staples from the kitchen, you can make a wonderful, creamy meal.
One of the advantages of learning the risotto cooking process is that you can use the rice as a foundation to mix and add your favorite flavors. We stayed traditional this round and made a classic sweet pea risotto.
I have to tell you that I will on occasion crave something that I have never tasted before- it’s strange, but it has happened two times (that I’m aware of). Generally this is a condition that I’ve heard of while having a having a bun in the oven- not the case here- just a random unsolicited food craving. The first craving was for shepherd’s pie- nothing too unusual about this. I like meat. I like potatoes, carrots, onions, and peas, so this wasn’t a too farfetched foodie desire. Ben on the other hand was a bit skeptical- nothing against the components of the dish, but as he put it, he’d had “a bad experience.” I imagine his experience was similar to the first time that I “experienced” vodka- not good- not good for three days, and understood his noncommittal interest in the suggestion for dinner. I take great satisfaction in turning one’s taste buds around, and that’s exactly what I did to Ben with this tasty, wholesome meat pie.
The first meal that we all cooked together almost three years ago was pizza. We all showed up with our store bought crusts, our packaged Hormel pepperoni, Kraft shredded cheeses, jars of, and metallic flavored canned olives. Mmmm- nothing beats the taste of brine. Don’t get me wrong- they were good, but we’ve stepped it up a few notches since. Homemade sauce. Pizza dough- not just baked, but grilled. Our feature pie of the night was the traditional using fresh tomatoes from the local farmers’ market, basil from Mark & Jane’s back yard, oregano from Ben & Kim’s back yard, and buffalo mozzarella fresh from the refrigerator section of the (can’t win ‘em all).