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July 25th,
written by Arthur

In college, the cafeteria made a potato-leek soup.  It was terrible.  The flavors weren’t blended.  The leeks under cooked.  The broth very water.  Ick.  This recipe has none of those problems.  It’s great to have before a dinner, keeps well in the fridge, and makes a great lunch.

Again, this recipe hails from The America’s Test Kitchen.



  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 to 5 pounds of leeks, white and light green parts only (about 11 cups) and rinsed thoroughly
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 3/4 pounds red potatoes (5 medium), scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 2 bay leaves


Trim the leeks and discard the root and the dark green leaves.  Slice the trimmed leeks in half length-wise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces.  Rinse the cut leeks thoroughly in a bowl to remove dirt and sand.  Strain.

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium low heat.  Stir in the leeks and garlic.  Cover and cook until the leeks are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.  Stir in the broth, potatoes, thyme, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Smash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot to thicken the soup (this step really helps take the soup to the next level!) Discard the bay leave and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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July 15th,
written by Arthur

It has been hot. Brutally hot. The thought of standing over a hot stove or further heating the apartment with the oven is unbearable. In these dog days of summer, cool meals are critical. Enter cold cucumber soup. You don’t have to heat a thing and the stuff actually makes you feel cooler.

This recipe hails from The America’s Test Kitchen.



  • 4 cucumbers (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, halved, and seeded–to seed run a small spoon inside each cucumber half to scooop out the seeds and surrounding liquid.
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 cups buttermilk


Cut one of the cucumber into 1/4 inch cubes and reserve.  Process the remaining three cucumbers, sour cream, dill, sugar, mustard, and garlic in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl or container.  Stir in buttermilk and reserved cubed cucumber.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes (or up to 6 hours).  Season again with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

July 7th,
written by Arthur

Last Sunday, Rick and I were finally able to get in a cook. It’s been a minute since the two of us have co-piloted on a cooking project.  Something about 7,800 miles of the Pacific ocean and these United States of America between Taipei and New York. The cooking was a classic affair with an old friend, complete with a series of minor mishaps requiring creative solutions but resulting in a tasty meal.

We decided on a Mexican theme.  After perusing a few cookbooks, we settled on arroz con pollo and zucchini and corn with cream.  Rick took the lead on chicken dish as I worked on the side. Brothers in arms in the kitchen. Just like old times; if only a few others from Minnesota were able to stop by.

The tribulations started with the ingredients and continued until the meal was on our plates. My roommate Nick kindly agreed to add our groceries to his stop on the way home from a Sunday in the office. Unfortunately the store was out of cilantro.  My dish called for a lot of cilantro: one cup, chopped.  The watercress the grocery employee of the month pushed on Nick wasn’t going to cut it.  I would have to do without.  My next surprise came in green flecks growing on the top of my Mexican crema.  I was forced to sub in some yogurt.  The result was a more liquidy dish than might be desired.

Rick’s arroz con pollo started out well.  But 10 minutes after the listed cooking time, the rice was still hard, the chicken still under cooked, and much liquid was unabsorbed.  Another 10 minutes did little to improve the situation.  (I rarely use the cookbook the recipe came from because I don’t trust it.) But this was Rick’s time to shine.  He proved once again that he is a god damn MacGyver in the kitchen.  After brain storming, we pulled out the chicken, shredded it, and pan cooked it as Rick cooked the rice like a risotto.  Another five minutes and boom.  Dinner was served.

The result may not have been what we had in mind when we set out.  But it was adventure to get to the end and a satiating end it was.

July 3rd,
written by Arthur

In undergrad, one of my professors would invite his current students to his house for a spring semester barbecue. After we’d eaten grilled meats and consumed a few libations, he would asked everyone in the room to describe they’re best summer.  The professor would go last, describing his last summer.  He would start by explaining his philosophy that if last summer wasn’t the best summer of your life you aren’t living it right.  I’ve adopted this philosophy for myself and after years of law school and bar study (studying for the bar not drinking in one) I feel ready to make this the best summer of my life.

I’ve been off to a social start enjoying the thin line between an amazing summer of endless fun and functional alcoholism. Night after night out with old and new friends I walked this tightrope and now have jumped off to explore what else this summer has to offer.  Last night, I was home at a reasonable hour and grilled some simple fish tacos and spent an hour or two with the roomies and the dog in front of the TV.  It was a moment of relaxation as satisfying as my recent late night equatorial adventures. I’m looking forward to mixing in more constructive and/or home based pursuits.

A couple of friends and I have each chosen five goals for the remainder of 2013.  Each person is in charge of planning the execution of their own goals with the others welcome to join in.  My culinary goals include cooking one recipe from Modernist Cuisine at Home, brewing a batch of my own beer, and taking a class on butchering.  Summer is flying by fast and, while it’s already been fantastic, I know there is more to come.


June 24th,
written by Arthur

CSAThis year, I joined a CSA for the first time.  CSA stands for community supported agriculture.  A CSA is an organization that connects its usually urban members with a local farm.  Members typically pay a fee and are required to put in some level of volunteer work.

I choose the Greenwood Heights CSA which offers members a weekly or bi-weekly vegetable share, egg share, and/or fruit share.  Since it was my first go and I was unsure how quickly I could cook through the bounty, I opted for bi-weekly shares of veggies and eggs.  I would have loved to have had a fruit share, but all slots were filled by the time I registered.  Bread and salmon shares have also now been added, but I decided to stick with the veggies and eggs.


This last Saturday was my volunteer day (all members need to do one) and my second share pick-up.  Any fears I had about crazy militant hippies have been set aside.  My fellow volunteers were fine normal people excited about bringing home some fresh vegetables.  We  made small talk as we refilled the vegetable bins depleted by the other members throughout the morning.

The produce this was week was beautiful–in aromas and colors. The full green smell of fresh veggies is incomparable to the stale smell at too many grocery stores.  Bright colors. The chard, in particular, was vivid. Chard is a vegetable I’ve never bothered to look at much less cook. I should have. Richly colored red, yellow, and orange steams vine their way in to rich green leaves.  The flavor is a little mild, but nothing that salt, onion, garlic, and maybe a little bacon can’t fix.

A perk of volunteering is being able to take a split of any leftovers.  My fridge is stocked with veggies for the week.  Already, chard has been grilled, salads made, garlic scapes mixed into burgers, and kimchi set-up to ferment.  I can’t wait to see the treats coming out of the ground in two weeks.

June 19th,
written by Arthur

‘Tis the season.  Summer.  Where the table life of bananas drops to days.  I can’t think of a better way use those aging bananas than banana bread.  The recipe below comes from America’s Test Kitchen and yields a tasty moist loaf.



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously coat an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray.
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk the mashed bananas, melted butter, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla together in a separate bowl.  Gently fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined.  Don’t over mix; the batter will look thick and chunky.
  3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, about 55 minutes.
  4. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes before unmolding onto a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.

There is an option where you can add nuts (1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped), if you’re into that kind of thing.  As a person of moral character, I am not.


June 12th,
written by Arthur

This tuna pasta salad is one of my summer staples.  It’s great with some grilling.  Prefect to have in the fridge for a quick no cook meal on a hot day.  Prefect for a midnight snack, if you’re my roomate Nick and your girlfriend recently started sleeping over. I wish I could say that I learned how to make this dish during my days in Minnesota (it has the word salad in the name and mayo as a significant ingredient), but this came to me from an East Coaster.

The below is a rough sketch for the salad.  Use whatever portions of ingredients suit your taste.


  • Small red onion, minced
  • 3-4 stocks of celery, chopped
  • 3 5 oz. cans of tuna, drained
  • 1 pound bow tie pasta, cooked
  • 1 1/2 cups of mayonnaise


Mix it all together in a bowl.  Chill in the fridge.  And enjoy.  (I like mine with a little Louisiana style hot sauce.)

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June 9th,
written by Loren

My favorite food group, bar none, is meat. I know that’s a distinctly American and distinctly unhealthy predilection, and it’s something I’m focusing on trying to change as I lose weight (down 25 pounds!).  But there is something so satisfying about the look, smell and feel of meat which is so hard to duplicate. Even as I try to add more vegetarian recipes to my repertoire, I  do my find myself noticing the lack of meat in those dishes.  One way I’ve found to try to replace that is by using mushrooms. Mushrooms have a somewhat similar, earthy flavor, and portobellos specifically also have a very meaty, toothsome texture.

This recipe, from America’s Test Kitchen,  makes a fantastic pasta sauce using very little meat, and in a very short amount of time for a ragu. The time you spend caramelizing the tomato paste helps develop very deep and complex flavors without having to spend hours simmering away.

1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup of chicken broth or stock

Muir Glen Organic consistently wins the taste tests at America's Test Kitchen, so I stick with that brand.

Muir Glen Organic consistently wins the canned tomato taste tests at America’s Test Kitchen, so I stick with that brand.

4 oz pancetta, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 portobello caps, gills and stem removed, cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 2lb can of whole peeled tomatoes
Splash of red wine (optional)

First, add your dried porcinis to a bowl, and add the chicken broth. Cover with plastic wrap, poke a few holes to vent, then microwave on high for 1 minute and allow it to steep in the broth for 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon, then run the broth through a sieve and coffee filter, set over a bowl to reserve the liquid. Chop the porcinis, and set aside.

Use a spoon to scrape the gills out of 2 large portobello caps, then cut into 1/2 inch dice and set aside.

Pre heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add the diced pancetta. Allow the fat to render and the meat to brown for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add  the mushrooms , olive oil, garlic, tomato paste and rosemary and stir to combine. This should be cooked over medium heat for 7 minute or so until the tomato paste begins to caramelize and brown.

Now add the can of tomatoes which you have crushed by  hand, along with either the juice of left in the can, or a splash of red wine, as well as the chicken broth which you rehydrated the mushrooms with. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce heat to medium low, then allow to thicken for 20 minutes or so. Salt and pepper to taste. You may also need to skim off some fat from the top of the sauce depending on how much rendered out of the pancetta.

Reserve a few tablespoons of the pasta water to thin the sauce to the consistency you desire before serving.

You can garnish your plate with some basil chiffonades and grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigianino if you like. But with or without, you will love this and make it again.

Mushroom Ragu

June 4th,
written by Arthur

Tomato SoupEvery once and a while, I take a mouthful of something I’ve cooked and think “damn, I can’t believe I made this.”  The food tastes better than I would expect from myself.  Hell, it tastes better than I expect from a restaurant. This happened to me a few weeks back when I took my first bite of my first homemade tomato soup.

When it comes to tomato soup, I’m used to the canned variety—usually Campbell’s or, if I’m feeling fancy, Progresso.  It’s been my lunch time meal at Heal and Hearty more times than I can count.  But the creamy tomato soup from the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, fresh off the stove, blows these away.  The flavor is slightly sweet, savory, and full of umami.  A little fresh baked bread was the near perfect pairing (though some grilled cheese might be necessary).

The recipe advises the soup should take 50 minutes.  It was my first go at the recipe, I was baking bread, and distracted by the apartment’s new canine addition, so it took me a bit longer.  America’s Test Kitchen recommends that you can take the soup most of the way to completion (through step two), refrigerate or freeze, and complete with the cream when ready to serve.


  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes drained, 3 cups juice reserved
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablesp0on tomato paste
  • 2 tablesspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavey cream


  1. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the drained tomatoes, onion, brown sugar, and tomato paste.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and the tomatoes begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly stir in the broth and the reserve tomato juice, scraping up any brown bits.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.  Puree the soup in a bleeder or food processor until smooth.  (You can also use an immersion blender, which doesn’t make for as smooth of a puree, which I actually prefer here.)
  3. Return the pureed soup to the pot (if you didn’t use an immersion blender) and stir in the cream.  Bring to a brief simmer, then remove from heat.  Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste before serving.
June 3rd,
written by Arthur

Back YardIt’s been a long busy spring, but I’m done with my exam (CFA, level I) and it’s summer!   

Sunday morning, Nick, Becca in and I cleaned our much neglected shed.  Sunday evening, Nick, Stu, and I built a picnic table and assembled the new grill.  The yard is ready for friends and food.

Since, early March, while I’ve been neglecting the blog, I engaged in a weight challenge at work.  While I ended-up taking third (measured as percent of weight lost) and missed the $750 pool, losing 20 pounds over the three months is prize enough.  The weight loss was almost all driven by changes in diet.  Maybe it deserves a post, but it was through the boring obvious means: cut out (down) the booze, cooking almost all my meals, lower the in-take of carbs, lower the in-take of meat, lots of veggies, eat close to the ground, etc.  Though I can say I’ve learned to eat healthy without feeling deprived, I can’t wait for some cheeseburgers fresh of the grill.

I’m looking forward to an epic summer.