Saturday, February 24, 2007

In my kitchen, cuz ...

It was rainy outside. (Anyone pick up on my allusion to Crooked Still?) And since Joe sprained his ankle, we decided to bum around the house today. We were inspired to make something from our Viking Cooking School classes. Here's my slightly modified version of Lemon Chicken Tagine with Saffron Rice.... I didn't have a tagine and couldn't find (or afford) saffron. I'll post the recipe tomorrow, when I have more energy.

Lemon-Chicken Tagine (The Viking Cooking School)
1 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Salt, pepper to taste
1 tsp paprika
4 Tbs olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 sticks cinnamon
1/2 tsp saffron, crushed
1 tsp tumeric
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup chicken broth
1 can artichoke hearts
6 Tbs fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 Tbs lemon zest
3 Tbs honey
1 cup olives
3 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro

Got all that? I didn't have saffron.
Season chicken with salt, then pan fry in 2 T oil. Set aside after it's golden brown on all sides. Preheat oven to 350. Add remaining oil to pan and heat,then cook onions til tender. Then ad garlic, cinnamon, saffron, turmeric, cayenne, black pepper, cumin, coriander and ginger. Cook until aroma is released. Pour chicken broth into a dutch oven or heavy stock pot, add chicken, onion mixture and artichoke hearts to pot. Sprinkle lemon juice and zest over chicken, then drizzle with honey. Cook about 20 minutes, until chicken is almost done. Add olives and fresh cilantro, then return to oven until chicken is very tender, about 15 minutes more.

Rice: Heat 3 Tbs oil in a sauce pan, add 1 onion finely chopped and cook til tender. Add 1 cup rice, and stir like crazy for a minute. Add 1/4 cup golden raisins. Add 2 cups water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, simmer and cover for 20 minutes. Remove lid when all moisture is absorbed, but before you smell the rice burning to the bottom of the pot. "fluff," as they say in recipes, then add some toasted pine nuts and fresh parsley or coriander.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Doves at dusk

The birds have been more active since things have thawed. The big black farm cat slinks around more regularly.
Is he too wondering when the bluebirds will arrive?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bargain Bites

I've been scrambling to get together my February food column. I know that most of my topics probably don't appeal to the average Hoptowner, so I was trying to feature some local eats. Cheap eats. Bargain Bites? Brilliant, I thought. Now the difficult thing is making those meals appeal to me.

Update: Here's the column:
Emily Parrino Kentucky New Era

Bargain Bites
Wednesday, February 28, 2007 12:10 PM CST
3 local meals with ethnic flair for less than $5

After living in Hopkinsville a year, I am learning there are ways to expand my palate on a shoestring lunch budget. Here are three cheap local lunches to help you escape the office in the middle of the day. I invite you to add to the Bargain Bites list on my blog:

Haut Dog: 2 Chicago-style hotdogs at Coffee And... $3.50
Pros: At $1.75, the loaded link is the thriftiest item on the menu at the Main Street café. But owner Hilarie Dawson takes the time to make her franks look presentable, if not outright artistic. The tomato, cucumber, relish, onions and mustard toppings are packed neatly into the bun in a way that is both visually appealing and easy to handle without worrying about a rogue pickle dropping into your lap.
Cons: A true Chicago dog is a Vienna, soaked for hours in the nitrite-laden pot liquor of its predecessors. This unhealthy but scrumptious effect is difficult to duplicate in Coffee And...’s microwave. Another downside of the meal is the overwhelming onion breath that will haunt you (and possibly your coworkers) for the rest of the day.
Bottom Line: You can eat a very pretty version of a Chicago classic in an attractive atmosphere without spending a pretty penny. And ... if you’ve been good all week, you’ve got the option of splurging on one of the decadent scones, brownies or dessert coffees.

Personalized Pizza: 2-topping, 7-inch pizza at Pizz-A-Roma $3.75
Pros: Pizz-A-Roma offers several affordable, large-portioned lunch specials. A black marker board near the register posts a luncheon size pizza with two toppings and a drink or 1/4 of a stromboli with chips and a drink for $3.75. A three-topping 7-inch pizza costs $4.13, and for an additional 50 cents you can sample the full range: pepperoni, sausage, beef, mushrooms, ham, onions, green peppers, anchovies, olives and bacon. Unlike chain stores which offer good deals only when toppings and sizes are set by the store’s terms, Pizz-A-Roma gives customers plenty of choices — and as it seems to be busy — plenty of time to be indecisive about those choices.
Cons: If you’re sensitive to smoke, you might find the aroma of cigarettes overpowering the savor of your meal. Those who prefer tender, yeasty dough as a base for their Italian pies might be disappointed by the crunchy, pre-formed crust.
Bottom Line: You can eat a hearty, customized meal in a classic diner setting (complete with video games and a juke box for faster eaters), but don’t expect it to stack up to your Italian grandma’s meals.

The Speedy Oven: 3 soft chicken tacos at El Bracero $3.95
Pros: The army of servers at El Bracero ensures your order will be promptly taken and served. Ironically, it’s easy to fill up on freshly fried chips and drippy salsa in that brief interval before lunch arrives. The menu includes more than a dozen meals under $5, such as three chicken tacos for $3.95 — a savory way to satiate a delicate appetite. Or three dense and saucy beef tamales for $4.80 — which can make a hungry man’s belly bulge. A side order of pico de gallo makes everything from the crumbs left in the chip basket to the tacos taste a little further south of the border.
Cons: The same dish may be vastly different in heat and doneness from one visit to another. Also, while servers do take substitutions (such as hold the sour cream) the din of the restaurant sometimes means an order gets lost in translation.
The Bottom Line: Expect to be seated and to start eating in hurry as the frenzied pace and generally zippy flavors of El Bracero allow you to do.

Emily Parrino is a New Era copy editor. She can be reached by 887-3298 or

Monday, February 19, 2007

Siam Terrace

Monday morning Joe and I returned to the dingy coridors of Gregory Hall and visited with some of our favorite journalism professors. After our heads were filled with inspiration and ideas, we headed to Siam Terrace, the best Thai restaurant in town, for Panang Tofu and Java Chicken. This time they had a salad with a very fresh tasting grated diakon dressing. We also ordered fresh spring roll... it didn't have much of interest inside, but the thick dipping sauce more than makes up for it. Also, the tender rice wrapper was just right.
Siam Terrace employs a pepper system in its menu:
1 pepper = beginner
2 peppers = intermediate
3 peppers = expert
4 peppers = Congratulations! You've become Thai

I've only ordered 1 pepper dishes... which compare to Toy's Thai Kitchen's spicer dishes. I've got a long way to go in training my taste buds to speak Thai.

After lunch we swung by Art Mart for gourmet cookies for the road. Unfortunately, we inhaled the chocolate chunk pistachio and chocolate chunk cookies too fast to photograph. Joe has interviewed the owner of the Urbana store, and says they use a special process to chunk the belgian chocolate for their cookies. I'm guessing the ratio of chocolate to dough is close to 50/50.


Sanjana Paul is 3 now, and a sweet precocious little girl. Still just as photogenic as she was when I took her portrait for my photojourn class last year. We stayed with Alina, Satnam, Alex, Prema, Sanji and Daniel for one night on our trip.

Alina and Prema made a delicious feast (of course!) and then proceeded not to eat very much of it themselves. The naan and aloo gobi were delish. Joe and I brought papad, chutney and samosas from Basmati, our favorite date night restaurant in Champaign.
Get a glimpse of the elements we encountered on our wintry weekend getaway.


After the Lord's table meeting, we tromped from the Union along snow-covered sidewalks to ISR. I'm posting my virtuous salad, but got full on turkey, bacon and dressing.
Our end of the table was talking about Chitzenitza and the Mayans... as Alison had just spent a semester researching them, and the Tans had gone to the Yucatan for a family vacation.
The other end of the table was having an animated discussion on picking out good cantaloupe.
"You thump it?"
"No, you shake it to hear if there's juice inside."
"So you don't tap it?"
"Squeeze it to see if it's soft."
"I thought you were supposed to smell it."
"No, look at the circle. If the circle is big, it will be sweet."


We arrived in Champaign (actually Mount Zion) on Saturday just in time for lunch. Evangeline Tan warmed us with some vegetable soup and pot stickers. She didn't really want to be in the picture though! We had a nice afternoon of fellowship and in the evening, we learned a new game: Sequence. Girls team won!! Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Another goodbye, another lunch

Like Matt and George, Jake is leaving the New Era for the Leaf Chronicle. But no hard feelings, we wish him well at his new gig.

Jake chose Sakura for his last-day lunch and we all ordered bento boxes. I think Jake enjoyed it. Sakura has a much nicer atmosphere than Yamato. But though Sakura is free of agressive waitresses, I find their food a little pricey (there's no 22-piece sushi special) and a little too salty.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Using our birthday loot

I'm particularly fond of fish cakes for my Shabu Shabu, and they can't be found just anywhere. These were purchased in Nashville at K&S market. But we can also buy them at Seoul Oriental Food on Fort Campell Boulevard around Gate 6 (I think) in Oak Grove.

Game Night 2

Though it might look like I've resorted to product placement in my blog, this is actually a shot of Stahl demonstrating how to make her world famous (alcohol free) 1 cup cobbler. :-)
Emily's adorable cat, Torii, stared unflinchingly through the glass of the screen door as we played Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture Edition. I guess he was probably disapproving how bad Joe and I were at the game. The moment the door was opened, a blur of creme and brown fur flew into the house and disappeared. A few rounds later, someone found Torii munching on chicken bones in the kitchen.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Lemon Meringue at CWRU

A little walk with Joel and Bryce down memory alley... and to the dumpster with the pie that wasn't.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Food at work

The newsroom is very good at coming up with good reasons to eat good food. Melinda and George's baby shower was our excuse today.
Jennifer wowed us with her cheese grits, strawberry cheesecake, and country ham and biscuits. Michele made a carrot cake so George wouldn't have to eat cheesecake.

I made a "superfoods" white bean and caramelized onion dip:
1 can cannelinis
juice of 1 lemon
1 yellow onion (caramelized)
3 T fresh flatleaf parsely
salt and pepper to taste. All zizzed in the blender.

I like this picture of Rachel. She made a vegan greenbean casserole, which made my tummy extremely comfortable. Mary D provided the brownies. I didn't eat any of the cheeser creamier desserts. But my eyes enjoyed gobbling them up. Aren't they photogenic?

Monday, February 05, 2007


I'm 29 today. So in the interest of staying alive for as long as possible, we celebrated with a Viking "Superfoods" class. Why, you ask, are avocado temaki, sweet potato fries and shitake, Asian greens and Salmon with coconut lime broth considered Superfoods? Read on.

Well, the official answer is they are made of unprocessed ingredients brimming with antioxidents, nutrients, essential fatty acids, fiber and the like. But I think another answer is that they look like the rainbow and taste good enough to make you wish you had two stomachs. When it comes down to it, though, it's just really fun to say "superfoods" -- or "supa-foodz" if you're from Boston, like our chef-instructor Dave.

This class was different than the Thai and Moroccan dinner parties Joe and I took before. It was smaller and more laid-back. It was also great fun to watch my parents. See what I mean?

I attempted to learn some new skills such as: Zesting a lemon better than Rachel Ray, zesting a nutmeg nut like Rachel Ray, Slicing and dicing just about everything with a ceramic knife (which, looks like plastic annd costs $80), and rolling sushi.
I avoided cutting off any extremities and kept my index finger safely off the top of the clever blade.

We were giddy with excitement nearly 3 hours later when we finally got to chow down.

Superfan Stuffed-le

Sunday was another good food day... our superbowl (Da-Bears!) spread included healthier fare like Tribe 40 spice Hummus (my new favorite brand) and crisp vegetables, blue corn chips and salsa, clementines and not-so-healthy tequila-lime chicken wings. Though the game ended left us feeling down right drizzled on, our stomachs were quite happy.

Before the game, Joe and I warmed up with a chili lunch at Restoration House. I loved Shirley's inclusion of elbow mac in her dish.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Birthday Bun

Pho fun
Actually I didn't get a good shot of Joe's 'seafood everything' Pho. But isn't my bun (a vietnamese dish with fresh veggies on noodles with a tangy sauce) beautiful?

The dish was pretty tasty. But I wish they'd used mi fun noodles, which would have held the flavor of the thin vinegar sauce better than the slick high-starch noodles they used. Those same wiggly noodles tasted great in their fresh spring rolls.
One of many birthday meals of the weekend, we enjoyed a Vietnamese lunch because Mom studies her tour books thoroughly. The restuarant was full of southeast asian faces and it was close to K&S Market in Nashville-- an ethnic megastore that we perused after our bellies were full.

Friday, February 02, 2007

More 'snow'

6:00 a.m.
I was shovelling hot oatmeal into my mouth when I decided to peer between the mini-blinds. Behold, another pretty but pesky fleece of snow to drag us into work an hour early. After I finished cleaning off the car, I couldn't help but snap a shot.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Turkey soup for the soul

One of the "interesting" things about living in the South is the amazing agitation that occurs with even the most gentle dusting of snow. If there's white stuff on the ground schools close. Cars spin out everywhere. And I have to get to work by 6:30 a.m. so the paper can go to press an hour early. Even imagined imminent snow sends all of Hoptown to the grocery store to stock up on bread and milk. (And as my co-worker says, when they realize it hasn't snowed yet, they all head out to the Chinese buffets)

SO all that griping really was a prelude to a new recipe: Turkey Matzo Mood-boosting Soup. Joe and I really needed to go to the grocery store to buy bread and milk... but seeing the parking lot brimming, we decided to head straight home and forage for our dinner. Here's what I came up with:

Turkey Matzo Mood-booster
1 turkey carcass, frozen since Thanksgiving
1 carton chicken broth
1 cup baby carrots - halved
1 red bell pepper - large pieces
1 sweet potato - large cubes
1/2 a large sweet onion - chopped coarse
1 package Matzo ball mix (thanks, Mom)
1 tsp Montreal Chicken Seasoning
1 tsp Lemon Pepper

I filled a large pot with enough water to submerge the turkey bones. Let it boil until the broth smelled nice. I removed the bones and scavenged for any remaining meat, which went into a bowl. Then I added the chicken broth and seasoning. Next I thawed 2 turkey drumsticks and 2 turkey wings in the broth until they were warmed through. I removed them and tore off the meat. Next carrots and sweet potato chunks went into the pot. When they were nearly tender, I added the pepper and onion. Meanwhile, make the Matzo batter and refrigerate 15 minutes. My veggies were tender before the Matzo was ready, so I scooped them out with a slotted spoon to stop the cooking and set them in a bowl. Next I balled up the Matzo and tossed it into the boiling broth. Lid on for a 20-minute simmer. When it was ready I added turkey, veggies, broth and 1 Matzo ball to two bowls. Good stuff.