Rainbow-Themed Dinner

Cooking with friends is such a treat! It’s nice to share a meal together, but sharing in its preparation makes it that much more of a bonding experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Chopped Night 2013

December 23rd was the third annual Chopped Night at the Van Spronsens’ house! (In case you’re not familiar with the idea, each family member is given three ingredients and a course, and must make a dish appropriate to that course that uses all three ingredients.)

This year we all had to bring our A-game, because there were three additional challenges to make the evening that much more special:

  1. We had a theme! This year’s theme was Italian.
  2. We were each given four special ingredients to use in each dish instead of three.
  3. We were asked to provide a drink pairing with each course.

It ended up being a tremendous success! Here are the culinary creations our family came up with:

Antipasto #1 (Doug)

Required Ingredients: Prosciutto, Friulano cheese, pears, balsamic reduction

Prosciutto Pintxos

Prosciutto Pintxos

Drink Pairing: Ford Cocktails (by Ivan)

Ford Cocktails

Antipasto #2 (Jon)

Required Ingredients: Bocconcini, lemons, chard, Campari tomatoes

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Fried Panko Bocconcini with Chard Crisps & Tomato Chutney

Drink Pairing: Burdock Dandelion Soda with Mint Sprig (by Leah)

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Insalate (Matt)

Required Ingredients: Radicchio, olives, orange, egg

Italian Chopped Salad

Italian Chopped Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

Drink Pairing: Festive Flips (by Shari)

Festive Flips

Primi (Leah)

Required Ingredients: Squid ink pasta, ricotta, artichoke hearts, foccacia

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Sicilian Pasta with Foccacia Crumb

Drink Pairing: Pinot Grigio

Secondi (Ivan)

Required Ingredients: Tenderloin, porcini mushrooms, fennel, rosemary

Pork & Fennel

Dijon Pork Tenderloin with Merlot Porcinis & Grilled Fennel

Drink Pairing: Chianti

Cantorini (Shari)

Required Ingredients: Farro, anchovies, sundried tomatoes, grey squash

Farro & Grey Squash

Farro with Squash & Tomato

Drink Pairing: Chianti (served alongside previous course)

Dolci (Elyse)

Required Ingredients: Apple, pear, vanilla, basil


Apple & Pear Galette with Basil Disaronno Whipped Cream

Drink Pairing: Lillet Prosecco Cocktails

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Nice work, everyone!

Phenomenal Yam Recipe

Recently I discovered this phenomenal side: Yams with Brown Butter Vinaigrette. It was amazing and really simple. Actually, just make the brown butter, and make the yams however you want.

I would use slightly less actual butter than they did; maybe 1/3 cup instead of half. I’ve also tried with onions instead of shallots; it worked, but it wasn’t quite as interesting. Apple cider vinegar works great when you don’t have red wine vinegar.

We didn’t have the full 50 minutes to get the yams done, so we just quartered them, poked them all over with a fork, roasted them for 30 minutes or so in the oven, sliced them, and poured the brown butter over-top. Yum!

Pancetta and Roasted Squash Risotto


Continuing the risotto theme, I made a fantastic risotto (epicurious, of course) and I felt I should post the recipe here. I paired it with black bean chicken with asiago and asparagus (i.e. contents of fridge).

Some comments:

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Fishes Delicious

Here’s a simple recipe I used to spice up the cod Dad gave me. You’ve probably made similar recipes already in your travels, but I found this particular combination truly spectacular:

1 cup crushed soda crackers (the finer the better)
2 minced cloves garlic
4 leaves finely chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp each salt and pepper (adjust to preference)
1 tbsp lemon juice

4-6 cod fillets, skin removed
4 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 300°F. Mix first group of ingredients. Rinse and pat dry the cod fillets. Immerse them in olive oil, then roll them in cracker mixture. Arrange on a pan and bake for 15-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.