This past weekend, I was pulling open the curtains in our bedroom, and realized one of the panels was stuck to the window.  It was actually frozen to the window.  What?? How?? Where was the water coming from? I proceeded to feel around the window, only to discover the entire ledge at the bottom of the window was encased in ice.  The truly crazy part of this whole situation is the fact that our apartment building was built in 2007, and this is the kind of insulation we get?

So yeah, it’s definitely cold.  But I really shouldn’t complain, as my mother informed me yesterday morning that it was  -10 degrees in NY,  so this 25 degree weather we’re getting in DC is quite balmy in comparison.  I don’t mind the weather too much, it just leads me to spend most of my time holed up in my apartment.. being rather antisocial.  So instead of getting out I’m staying in, lighting candles, jacking up the heat, and making soup- chowder to be exact.  This was a first for me, and quite a success.  Brandon deemed it to be one of his favorite dishes I ever made.  I can’t take all the credit though, it’s a Ina dish of course.  But I did make a few small tweaks which I think add great flavor to this chowder, I strongly urge you to incorporate them.

East Hampton Clam Chowder from Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Serves 6-8

I followed Ina’s recipe to a T, but made the following additions:

  • Begin the soup by sauteeing 2 slices of diced thick cut bacon for 5 minutes, until slightly crispy.  Then add in the onions and 1 T butter.  Due to the bacon fat, I omitted 3 T of butter.
  • To finish the soup, add in 5 dashes of Tobasco and 2 T of Worcestershire sauce
  • Serve with a sprinkling of parsley, adds great color and freshness

Lamb is one of may favorite proteins.  I tend to like it best in Greek dishes, where the preparation often involves the flavors of lemon, thyme, oregano, and olive oil. My affinity for lamb may have something to do with the fact that Greek food, overall, is one of my favorite cuisines.  My family spent 10 days in Greece when I was 15, and even 10 years later, I can still vividly recall the meals we ate. This past weekend I made lamb burgers for the first time.  I kept the ingredients in the burger simple, so as not to take away from the natural flavor of the meat.  Lamb has incredible flavor on its own, so when cooked (whatever the form) you never want to bury it with too many additional flavors.

I created a yogurt feta sauce to top the burgers.  A yogurt sauce is really the only appropriate condiment for lamb burgers, and shouldn’t be eaten without.  Ketchup definitely does not serve as a substitute!

Grilled Lamb Burgers with Feta Yogurt Sauce

adapted from Gourmet Today

Serves 4

1 1/4 lbs ground lamb

1 tsp ground cumin

2 garlic cloves minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 T chopped flat leaf parsley

zest of 1/2 a lemon

4 whole wheat buns or pitas

1 cup greek yogurt (no less than 2% fat content)

1 T lemon juice

3 T grated english cucumber, squeezed out with paper towel

1 small garlic cloves, grated

1/4 cup crumbled greek feta

1/4 tsp salt

Combine the last 6 ingredients together to create the yogurt sauce, cover, and place in the fridge until ready to serve (this can be made several hours ahead, the longer the ingredients sit, the better.)

Combine the first 7 ingredients together, being sure not to overmix.  Form into four 1 inch thick patties and set aside.  Meanwhile coat a heavy sauce pan generously with olive oil, and heat over medium high heat for 5 minutes.  Place the patties in the pan and cook covered for 4 minutes.  After 4 minutes flip the burgers and cook for 3-4 minutes on the other side, until they’re not too soft in the center, but still have a slight give.  Place cooked burgers on a plate, cover, and set aside to rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, ligthly toast your buns.  Place a patty on the bottom bun, and slather the top bun with yogurt sauce.  Enjoy immediately.

(Photo Credits: I have photos of my burgers, but sadly they are stuck inside my Mac which is sick at the moment.  For this post, photo credits go to myrecipes and Closet Cooking.)

My dear chocolate peanut butter chip cookies*, you are my favorite thing to photograph.  You are positively glowing against the back drop of my couch side table.  You stack up so nicely! Makes me want another one of you right now. This week has been unusually exhausting, and you’ve provided much needed support.  You’re always there, patiently sitting in a tupperware container on my counter, waiting for me to nibble on you when I get home from work.  I’ll most definitely be making you again!

*I followed this recipe to make these cookies, and used a combo of peanut butter and chocolate chips since that’s what I had on hand.  The unique thing about this recipe is the use of bread floor and the melting (rather than creaming) of the butter.  These tweaks make for a slightly denser, but still moist and chewy cookie. I’ll definitely be experimenting with my flour proportions in the future to perfect my cookie texture.

Things that are way overdue in my life right now: phoning an old work friend, dropping off my dry cleaning, making pizza from scratch.

Hurrah! I can cross the last item off!  It’s probably not the most important, but still, it happened.  And now I can focus on my other overdue things.

There were both good and not so good things about this pizza.

The Good:  the topping combos were money- the cheese blistered perfectly- we had leftovers for lunch today

The Bad: the dough was too chewy-we almost set our apartment on fire trying to crisp up the dough in the oven

For the dough, I followed Smitten Kitchen’s Really Simple Pizza recipe.  I’m positive the problem with the dough was not the recipe, but me.  And my yeast or my flour our my kneading technique.  One or all of the above was the reason my dough didn’t rise properly.  Nonetheless, I think I will be sticking to the No Knead Pizza Dough since that has produced much better dough for me.

Despite the dough mishap this pizza was still quite delicious.  I think that had a lot to do with the topping selections, and I’ll take credit for that!  Homemade dough or not, you should spend one night making this pizza at home.

Bacon, Gorgonzola, and Onion Pizza/ Artichoke, Kalamata, and Hot Pepper Pizza

Makes one 13 inch pie, topping portions cover 1/2 a pie

Make your dough (making can involve buying pre-made dough at the grocery store). Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven now to warm up (this will help crisp up the bottom of the pie!)

Saute 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 T butter, and 4 minced cloves of garlic of low heat for ten minutes.  Next, dice 2 slices of bacon and saute over medium heat for 5 minutes, until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and add in 1/4 cup of a thinly sliced red onion.  Saute for 5 minutes until it just begins to soften.  Take 2/3 cup defrosted artichoke hearts and ten kalamata olives, roughly chop.  Have on hand one 6 0z bag of shredded mozeralla.

The Assembly:  Roll out dough to a 1/4 inch thick.  Brush the garlic/oil/ butter mixture across the pizza.  First layer:  chopped artichokes on one side,  2.5 T crumbled gorgonzola on the other.  Second layer: mozzarella, liberally cover the pie with 6 0z of cheese.  Last layer: gorgonzola side gets bacon and red onion, artichoke side gets olives and red pepper flake to taste.  Lastly, generously grate some parm over the entire pie.

Pop the pizza into the oven for 11-13 minutes, until top is blistered and bubbly.  Enjoy immediately!

Monday afternoons (or Sunday, if it’s not a 3 day weekend) are made infinitely better with mulled cider.  This afternoon, from 3-4pm, I watched Brothers and Sisters while folding laundry and sipping hot cider.  It was glorious.  You can, and should, do it to.  Well everything except the Brothers and Sisters part, you can pick your own show.

Step 1: Get yourself some Williams Sonoma Mulling Spices.  Yes you could make your own, but theirs is just so aromatic, and they come in a beautiful tin.  All reasons to buy them.

Step 2: Measure out 2 cups of cider and 1 T mulling spices.  Place the ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

Step 3: Strain the cider over your mug (if you have cheese cloth, you can wrap the spices in it and drop the bundle in to simmer).

Step 4: Enjoy immediately with a clementine, cookies, or whatever afternoon snack you have on hand.