Bologna to Bolognese: Adventures With Food

Food is necessary. Food is fun. Food is an adventure!

My name is Shannon and this is my adventure, my love affair with food.

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tradition With a Twist

Probably one of my favorite things about summer is going on picnics and when I think picnics the first thing to come to my mind are all the great salads that are a staple of these outdoor feasts. We all have our favorites and there are endless variations but today I want to share a version of two of my favorites with a tangy common denominator. So freshen up your Mojito and dive into potato salad and a slaw with a twist.

There is something satisfying and comforting about potato salad. It is hearty and creamy and delicious. all of those wonderful attributes also make it an enemy of the waistline. Have no fear there is help! This recipe for Lime and Thyme potato salad not only has less fat than your traditional potato salad but it also kicks the flavor up a notch.

Lime and Thyme Potato Salad

6-8 red skin potatoes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 lime zest & juice
1 tbsp dried thyme or 1 bunch thyme finely chopped
salt & pepper to taste

*** A Note. You can cut the calories in this further by using fat free sour cream and lite mayonnaise but you will lose some flavor. If you do opt for the fat free condiments then I would suggest adding more Thyme and Pepper and maybe more lime as well.***

Cook your potatoes until they are tender. I like to leave the skins on but you can peel them if you want. As soon as they are cool enough to handle dice the potatoes and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Taste and adjust flavors as necessary. Allow to sit for at least an hour before serving.

Now my second salad for you is new to me but oh so good. I adore coleslaw, or really anything involving cabbage. It is such a wonderful vegetable. While it has it's own distinct spicy flavor it is also a wonderful canvas for other flavors. Add in today's common ingredient, lime, and you are half way to heaven. So let's go all the way. This recipe has been altered slightly from it's original version (Creamy Cilantro Lime Slaw) which I took from

Zingy Lime Slaw

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
Juice of two limes
Zest of 1 lime
1 Serrano chili seeded & minced
2 garlic cloves minced
1 bunch chopped cilantro
1 half green cabbage sliced
4 green onions minced
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mix everything together and allow to sit for at least an hour before serving. (If the chili adds too much heat you can use less or add some sugar to compensate.)

These delicious salads will freshen up any picnic menu and just in time for the Fourth of July they are sure to be the stars of the show!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

SHHHHHH! It's a secret.

As with any good adventure this delectable tidbit comes with a back story. When I was first out of college I did some temp work at an industrial chemical company in Ohio. I worked in the sales room and one day we had one of those pot lucks where everyone brings their best kitchen goodies. Well one of my co-workers brought in a crock pot of deliciousness. I think it was short ribs but all I really remember was the sauce. It was a hit with everyone and that led to the story. She explained that the sauce was a secret family recipe from her husband's mother and she wasn't allowed to know how to make it until they got married. So you ask, how do I have it? Well the story continues... It turns out her husband had just recently left her and their two young children. So with no hesitation she wrote out the recipe and made photocopies all around. I believe her last comment on the subject was "Share it!" and I have done my best over the years to do just that. So here is the secret Kreuger family rib sauce. It's so fantastic you'll want to make it your own family secret but I hope you'll share it instead!

Kruger Rib Sauce

4 Tbsp butter
1 large Vidalia Onion (At least! The more there are the better it is)
1 large bottle ketchup (I find the generic brands work better)
2 c brown sugar
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground red pepper
1 ½ tsp paprika

(You can increase the spices if you want more heat, though I suggest trying it as is first. Another change that is equally scrumptious is to add Chipotle chili to give the sauce a smoky southwestern flair. )

Dice your onion and sweat it in a large pan with the butter. Add the ketchup, spices and brown sugar. Stir well and simmer for 1 hour or until thick.

This sauce is fantastic on ribs but goes equally well with chicken, meatballs and just about any other meat that presents itself for grilling. Ok, I'll admit it this sauce is so good I could drink it, and I'm not the only one! Once you've tasted this you may never go back to another rib sauce. Enjoy and remember to pass it along!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hot Pepper Buns

These are the Red Pepper buns mentioned with the grilled portobellos but truly they deserve their own post.

I have been adventuring in bread for a few months now and am starting to experiment with starters. So when looking for the perfect bun to accompany my grilled Portobello I thought a sweet and spicy bread would be perfect. This recipe is based on the Tomato rolls in Carol Field's "the Italian Baker".

This recipe calls for a preferment. For the experienced baker this is your starter. If you have a well developed starter by all means use it. Otherwise here goes.

To make your Preferment/Starter/Biga…

Biga (makes 2 1/3 cups)

¼ tsp active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp water room temperature
3 ¾ cups flour

Stir the yeast into the warm water and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining water and then the flour 1 cup at a time. Mix for 3-4 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and allow to rise at a cool room temperature for 6-24 hours. The starter should triple in volume. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Pepper Buns

(makes 10-12 buns)

2 ½ tsp active dry yeast (1 Pkg)
1 tsp sugar
1 cup plus 3 tbsp warm water
2 Tbs Olive Oil
½ cup Biga (125 g)
3 ¾ - 4 1/4 cups (500-550 grams) unbleached flour
2 tsp salt
20 oz (2 Tbsp) dried onion
1 cup pureed Roasted Red pepper (150G)
1 Ancho Chile Chopped fine (10G)

Stir the yeast flour and sugar together and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Add 2 tbsp of oil and starter. Stir vigorously breaking up the starter. Add the salt, stir in the flour 1 cup at a time until the dough comes together. Knead 8-10 minutes until silky and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl to rise for 45 minutes.
Turn the dough out, cut into 12 pieces and shape into round balls, allow to rise for 45 minutes. Prior to baking baste with an egg wash and dust with dried onions and cornmeal. Bake in oven that has been preheated to 400 degrees F. Bake approximately 20 minutes. Cool on a rack.

These are wonderful with rich flavors like the grilled Portobello, with Brie by itself, or with a dash of Horseradish and some roast beef. A wonderful addition to any baker's recipe book!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Grill's Up!

Grilling season is officially upon us and as summer sets in I spend more and more time thinking about what to put on the menu for weekend barbecues. While I enjoy meat, I love vegetables. One of my favorite grilling foods are Portobello mushrooms. You find them at the State Fair all smothered in juicy grilled onions and sometimes eaten alone, other times on a bun. No matter what dress that lovely plump mushroom up like a steak and even my carnivorous hubby is left craving more.

Grilled Portobellos

Ingredients: (serves 2)

2 large Portobello mushroom caps
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2-3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Gently wipe your mushrooms with a damp paper towel to clean them. Place mushroom caps in a ziploc bag or container and add the ingredients of the marinade. Allow to sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Grill mushrooms on a medium hot grill until tender. When they are almost done top with slices of Brie cheese. I like to serve my shrooms on a toasted red pepper bun with spicy cayenne mayo and roasted sweet Vidalia onions.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Four Words...Six Syllables...Charades and Dak Galbi

Dak Galbi, is a South Korean dish normally made by stir-frying chicken in a (chili pepper paste) based sauce, with sliced cabbage, sweet potato, scallions, onions and rice cake together on a hot plate. It is a local specialty food for the city of Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, and is commonly associated with students and soldiers because it is an inexpensive alternative to traditional "galbi" or grilled meat dishes.

I like to be adventurous when I cook and am pretty willing to try anything once. So when my husband asked me one day to attempt a Korean dish he liked. I took up the gauntlet and my quest to make Dak Galbi ensued.

So I searched diligently for a recipe and after much discussion he agreed that these ingredients sounded the closest to what he had eaten in Korea. Finding the ingredients was a whole other adventure. Really you are going to need to go to an oriental market of some kind. A Korean grocery would be best but I have seen these ingredients in other markets as well. I began my search with a list of ingredients all written out in English...just in case you don't see the problem with this on the horizon...let me be more clear.

When I got to the small family owned Korean market near our home I found I could identify some of the items on my list. I used all my wily language savvy ways but it came down to I couldn't read and no amount of trying was going to cut it. So I approached the shopkeeper and told him what I needed. He looked at me as if I had lost my mind. I tried a few more times, attempting to wrap my mouth around the Romanized gochoojang and gochoogaroo before giving up and showing him my list. That didn't help either. I was beginning to get frustrated now and am sure he wished I would just buy something and go away. I tried the name of the dish and showed him a picture and at last we had common ground. (Apparently I didn't butcher the name too badly.) So I asked how to make it and he began to take me through the steps carefully with many points, pantomimes and flourishes until I had a handle on it and the right ingredients. (I now have a much greater respect for Charades!) He also made a few changes to the initial recipe I had found so I consider this a fairly accurate representation of the dish though I imagine it is like any regional dish in that every cook has their own subtle changes.

Dak Galbi


2 - 3 Large Chicken Breasts
1 yam - sliced thinly
3 green onions - sliced
1 onion - sliced,
1/2 cabbage - chopped into ribbons
1 1/2 carrot, thinly sliced
2 oz plain rice cake (oval or tubular shape - ***note*** not the type of rice cake you find in American stores. You will need to get these from an oriental market)

Chili Paste Sauce:

*** Note*** For those who don't love spicy hot foods. If you follow this as written it will be quite hot for most. You can cut the heat by adding more sugar or cutting the chili powder. If you like mild heat I would halve the chili powder if you are very sensitive to spices I would cut it down to 1/2 tablespoon.

4 tablespoons Korean chili paste
2 tablespoons Korean chili powder (***note*** NOT in any way similar to your American chili powder - this is a powdered red chili and is quite spicy)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar (I prefer brown)
1 teaspoon honey


Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry. Cut the chicken into bite size (1 inch) pieces. Mix ingredients of chili paste sauce. Mix part or the sauce mixture in with the chicken to marinate while you prepare the vegetables. Make sure the Yam and Carrots are sliced thin so they will cook in a reasonable amount of time.

To prepare the rice cakes bring a pan of water to a boil then add the noodles. (about 1/2 of a large bag) When the noodles float they are ready. Remove and drain well. (You can add seasoning to the water if you choose and the noodles will soak up the flavor.)

Using a deep pan or wok add heat some oil and when it is ready add your Yam and Carrots, stir them for a few minutes before adding the onions and chicken. Stir for a few minutes before adding the cabbage and the rest of the sauce spice mixture. Stir until combined and put a lid on if possible. Stir often and when the vegetables are almost done add the rice cakes and reduce the heat to simmer for the last 5-10 minutes. Keep stirring often to avoid burning the rice cakes to the bottom of your pan. Add the sliced scallions at the last minute.

The challenges this dish posed were well worth it. It is a wonderful healthy and filling dish full of flavor and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. It was definitely an adventure from start to finish!