the blue lamp cafe.
(part of brett's logjam.)
About the Cafe: I should make it very clear that I am not a good cook. I am not completely incompetent; given a recipe that I have watched prepared I can usually do it again. However, I should not be left to my own devices in the kitchen. Things have a habit of going inedibly awry.
This is opposed to my wife and mother-in-law, both of whom are very good cooks. They use recipes as starting points and inspiriational guides. Dishes change and mutate based on the available ingredients and tools. Sometimes, the really good recipes go for years before they are written down.
I'd like to change that.
About the Lamp: The Blue Lamp is the centerpiece of the Blue Lamp Cafe. It's the favorite light of patrons and cooks alike.
Some patrons of the Cafe have even been known to ring the Lamp to indicate their satisfaction with a meal, though the proprietors have in turn been known to discourage such behavior. It wouldn't do to break the Lamp, now would it?
21 June 2006
I really like this dish, but my son Trip loves it. He can’t get enough of it.
He also can’t put enough of it in people’s hair; his hair, my hair, Merrystar’s hair - doesn’t matter. Hence the dish’s name.
* 1 pound of chicken breasts
* 1 cup chicken broth
* 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
* sprinkle of garlic
* sprinkle of basil
* 1/2 pound of fresh green beans
This is a one-skillet meal:
- Brown chicken in skillet.
- Add everything else.
- Heat to boil.
- Cover, cook on low heat for 20 minutes or so.
Serves 2 + 1 toddler. (Conditioner optional.)
Merrystar notes: This is actually a modified version of the recipe on the back of the chicken broth package. And I think a cup of broth was a bit much actually; I would cut it back to maybe 3/4 next time.
21 May 2006
Merrystar: “You know I don’t measure any of this, right?”
Of course! Still, this white chicken chili is one of my favorites.
It started off life as an unassuming chicken casserole, got modified for Merrystar’s use on a stovetop in Holland, and further modified here in DC. You’ll need one pot, a stovetop, and:
- 1 package boneless chicken breasts (about 1-2 lbs)
- 2 cups of chicken broth, or water and chicken bullion
- 1 big can of chickpeas
- 1 big can of cannellini beans
- 1/2 package of frozen corn
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 small can of diced green chilies (which we never seem to actually add)
- Cumin and garlic to taste
- Dice the chicken into 1-inch chunks.
- Add the onion and chicken and spices into a large soup pot on medium heat.
- Cook the chicken. Stir regularly to prevent sticking.
- Add the stock, cannellini beans, chickpeas and corn.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.
- Leave on a simmer for at least 30 minutes, if not a little longer. It’s chili, you can keep it warm for a long, long time.
- Optional: add the green chilies about 5 minutes before serving.
Merrystar notes: One of the few recipes I can make completely without looking it up. In theory one is supposed to use a can of white corn (thus making it “white” chili all the way around), but I always forget to buy it. Sort of like the chilies. I like to drain/rinse the beans, but my mom doesn’t bother.
8 May 2006
Merrystar makes this fairly often: it’s a one-skillet job, simple to throw together after work, and (fairly) easy to do with Trip underfoot. (The trickiest part is when you’re removing the casings from the sausage. That’s the only messy part of making this one.)
I’ve seen her do it enough that I can do it basically right, but I always - ALWAYS - screw up and put the wrong tomatoes in. (Tonight, I used stewed, not diced.) It didn’t surprise me that there was no recipe, or at least no recipe that we have in our files.
Here’s what you need:
- One package of sweet italian turkey sausage (Shady Brook Farms or similar, but really any type of sausage will work)
- One medium onion, diced
- Three or four fresh medium-sized zucchinis, diced
- Two cans of diced tomatoes, no salt, drained (Del Monte is the usual brand we have on hand)
* Shredded cheese (omitted when I’m eating.)
Grab a large covered skillet and:
- Chop up the onion and put into the skillet on medium-low heat.
- Remove the casings from the turkey sausage and add to skillet. Separate into chunks with a fork while browning.
- Add the zucchini after the sausage is browned. Cover the skillet and let everyting cook for 15 minutes or so.
- When the zucchini has started to soften up, add the drained tomatoes. (If you’re busy, don’t bother waiting. Dump the tomatoes in at the same time.)
- Simmer on low heat. If a lot of liquid forms, remove the cover to let it boil off.
- (Optional: add the cheese a little before serving to cook it into the mixture.
There’s no absolute time limit here - I usually can get this done in 30-45 minutes, Merrystar is a bit faster with her prepwork and can do it in 30 minutes.
Merrystar notes: It’s actually easier to use non-link sausage; the sausage I like just happens to come in links. For faster prep, the link sausage can just be sliced up, or (I suppose) even cooked whole. And in summer it’s nice to use fresh tomatoes, not canned.
A nice variation is to use spinach instead of the zucchini: cook the sausage; add undrained tomatoes (and a pinch of sugar); let it simmer for awhile (the longer the better really) and then dump in a whole bag of baby spinach to wilt a few minutes before serving. Eat with crusty bread to mop up the broth.
6 May 2006
Okay, let’s kick this off with an old favorite. This is the sort of cake that makes people who don’t like cake like cake.
Noodle on that for a bit. Enjoy the cake while you do.
- 1 3/4 c. boiling water
- 1 c. uncooked oats (quick or old-fashioned)
13/4 c. lightly packed brown sugar 12/3 c. granulated sugar
- 1 stick (1/2 c) margarine
- 2 eggs
- 1 3/4 c. unsifted all purpose flour
- 1 package (12 oz) chocolate bits
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1/2 t. salt
- 2 T. cocoa powder
- (Optional: 3/4 c. walnuts)
Okay, ready? Turn the oven to preheat at 350 degrees and:
- Pour boiling water over oats and let stand 10 mins.
- Add both sugars and margarine.
- Stir until margarine melts.
- Add eggs and mix well.
- Sift together flour, soda, salt and cocoa.
- Combine flour and sugar mixtures. Mix well.
- Add half the choclate bits and pour into a greased and floured 9/13” pan.
- Sprinkle walnuts and remaining chocolate bits on top.
- Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven ~40 minutes or until toothpick in center comes out clean.
While we usually want to start gobbling this cake as soon as it comes out of the oven, it’s a good idea to cover it and let it cool down a bit (an hour or two) before serving.
Serves a whole bunch.