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Kitchen Basics / Practical Cooking / Recipes / Cocktails

The Craft of the Cocktail

There is little question that the food the Boiler Room has served for the past few years is crowd pleasing. Patrons and critics alike agree the menu is on par with other great restaurants in much larger cities. The decor – which, as you might imagine, I always notice – is charming in the sunken Read the Rest…

Brent Crampton: Mixing Beats and Beliefs

Imagine a bar, dance, and live music venue where truly, emphatically, everyone is welcome. And imagine that its founder is a DJ whose beginnings as an adopted child allowed him to embrace diversity, creativity, and new experiences in a global fashion. Imagine no more. House of Loom is the place; Brent Crampton, the face. We recently caught Read the Rest…

Friendsgiving

A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure of attending my first official Friendsgiving hosted by my good friend Amanda. It was a delightful experience! I found it especially enjoyable this year because I have no family residing near me to spend time with during the holidays. (I did just make my way back Read the Rest…

Sea Change

[Minneapolis Star-Tribune] Jessica and I had the chance to dine at Sea Change last weekend. It’s a seafood (surprise) restaurant located in the Guthrie Theater at the Mill District in Minneapolis on the Mississippi River. I’m sure your first thought is of the somewhat ridiculous idea of seafood in the Midwest. Sure, we’ll never have Read the Rest…

The BRT

That’s bacon, ramps, and tomato. It’s summertime (pretty much) and there’s nothing I love more than a BLT when it’s so nice outside. Especially once the tomatoes start to come in and you can pick them right out of your backyard. We’re not quite there yet, but the high season for ramps just passed. I’m Read the Rest…

Family Recipes: Oatmeal Wheat Bread

One of the other recipes that I came across in my mom’s massive collection was oatmeal wheat bread. Seeing as how I’m baking constantly these days, I thought it would be fun to try an older bread recipe and see how it came out. While I didn’t stick to it completely, I modified it (somewhat Read the Rest…

Condimental

One thing (or many things) you can count on in everyone’s fridge is an inordinate amount of condiments. From the most serious chef to the bachelor who eats every meal out, there are always condiments in the fridge. There was a time–and I’m sure I’m not alone in this–that the only thing in my refrigerator Read the Rest…

Family Recipes: Mom’s Date Bars

Recently, my mom gave me access to her treasure trove of recipes she’s collected over several years, so I decided to do a series of recipes that came from our families and share them with you guys. The first thing I found that jumped out at me was a recipe for “Mom’s Date Bars”. This Read the Rest…

Pantry Party

It wasn’t that long ago that Christopher and I were doing shots at the bar on Saturday nights and now? We are organizing our pantry for fun. Before you find us incredibly lame, let me plead my case. First, Christopher bakes for a gourmet foods supermarket and brings home snacks–among other things. The man is Read the Rest…

Waffle Stack

What is it about breakfast? Not only is it the most important meal of the day, it’s the best, by far. The old stand-bys like eggs, bacon, and toast work well on their own, of course. But when combined, they become some kind of super-meal, achieving near-sentience while delivering a flavor explosion unlike any other. Read the Rest…

Variation On a Reuben

The Reuben. A classic sandwich, born right here in Omaha, Nebraska (according to some). I have to confess: I’ve never liked it. It’s the sauerkraut. My grandmother always tried to get me to eat it, insistent upon its greatness. To my credit, I tried, but I just couldn’t stand that insanely sour flavor. As recently Read the Rest…

Attack of the Baker

I believe I’ve mentioned before that since Christopher is a baker, we have flours, sugars and all matters of baking accessories stuffed in cabinets and somewhat organized on the stand alone cart above. This is a good solution for our kitchen and it does add some charm and much needed storage. Jenny Steffens Oh, but Read the Rest…

Everything In Place

What’s the one thing you always, always see in every cooking show or segment? No, not equipment you’ll never be able to afford, or kitchens, for that matter. It’s what’s known in culinary circles as mise en place. Literally translated, that’s “everything in place”. It’s being completely organized, when it comes to both ingredients and equipment, Read the Rest…

Bankers’ Cookies

Every Christmas season, one thing I could always look forward to was the wealth of cookies and candy made by my mom. She kept them in a makeshift freezer some would just call a screened-in porch, so I became quite adept at opening those doors as quietly as possible in the middle of the night Read the Rest…

A Kitchen Gift Guide

Continuing everyone’s favorite holiday reading tradition, gift guides, we’ve picked out some great ideas for your kitchen. It seems like (at least to me) that the kitchen is never complete. There’s always another sauté pan, or knife, or appliance that would make my job easier and more fun. Here are some picks that will hopefully Read the Rest…

Anatomy of a Menu

Last week, in one of my thousands of Black Friday-week junk emails I was sorting through, I noticed one in particular from Apple. They were offering El Bulli: Cooking In Progress, the 2011 documentary about the famed restaurant, for a 99¢ rental through iTunes. So I hit “rent” and Jessica and I sat down to take Read the Rest…

How To Make Risotto

Ah, risotto. The fanciest of the basic rice dishes. It’s confounded chefs on Hell’s Kitchen for several seasons, and can inspire terror in many a home cook. However, it’s much easier than most think it is. It’s very similar to pilaf, in that they’re both cooked in chicken stock (most of the time). The main Read the Rest…

Wedding Sangria

My husband and I are celebrating our fourth anniversary this month. I’ve been to quite a few weddings recently and each time, I’ve reflected on the planning process – so relieved that it’s all behind us. Faced with a tight budget, we did just about everything ourselves (without Pinterest!). At our bar, we kept things Read the Rest…

Homemade Vanilla

As the holidays approach, we scramble for hostess gifts and holiday presents for people who have everything. The holidays can be stressful and costly, but not if you plan ahead. So start now and make homemade vanilla extract because it’s cheap, easy, and fun–and if you buy real vanilla at the store, it’s expensive. Any Read the Rest…

Here’s A Thing (Or Two) That I Learned

With the busy schedule of COOP and Birdhouse, this session, I had to limit my schooling to just one class, Foundations II. Technically, this is just a step up from, you guessed it, Foundations I. While this is kind of true, as I’ve learned, it will more than likely become International Cuisine in the 2013 Read the Rest…

Accessible(ish) Molecular Cooking

I’m saying “ish” because there’s always some layer of molecular gastronomy that is outside of most people’s reach. But ChefSteps is aiming to make it easier for the everyman with their new online culinary school. And it’s free. If you’re not familiar with it, molecular cooking is the use of science and technical advances to Read the Rest…

Adventures in Culinary Arts

Those of you that follow my kitchen-classified posts around here have probably noted my mentions of being enrolled in culinary school. It’s been a fascinating experience so far, if an exhausting one, so I thought I’d share some of the everyday details of what it’s like. The first thing I know everyone is thinking; Omaha Read the Rest…

6 Fantastic Wines for Under $20

(click through the image twice for full-size) We all know there are really too many wines to sort through. Whether you’re standing in front of a thirty foot-long aisle at the grocery, or trying to decipher the wine list at most decent restaurants, often times we’re faced with a choice of several names we’ve never Read the Rest…

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers

Being married to a native New Mexican means that there always has to be some kind of pepper planted in our garden every summer. A couple years ago I ordered jalapeño seeds from Johnny’s, the fantastically-named “El Jefe”. It’s turned out to be the most reliable and delicious thing I plant every year, without fail. Read the Rest…

A Lavender Cocktail

With no exaggeration at all, this drink is amazing, and the lavender adds a great subtle flavor. Here’s what you need: Dried lavender 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup water Vodka Lemonade Champagne First, make a simple syrup. Bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once boiling, add the lavender, Read the Rest…

Flour Power

There are a lot of different kinds of flour out there. Most types are pretty self-explanatory–cake flour for cakes, bread flour for bread–but knowing what you get from each and how they can be interchanged can get confusing. The big difference between all the types is the level of the protein in each that forms Read the Rest…

The Michelada

The michelada is one of those cocktails that’s incredibly easy to adapt and tweak. It varies wildly by region in Mexico, and can be changed to fit your own local ingredients as well (to a certain extent). It’s also an amazing morning cocktail. Not that I’m endorsing AM drinking or anything. The basic ingredients are: Read the Rest…

Arugula Pesto

With the overabundance of arugula in our garden, and the fact that it practically grows like a weed (it reseeds itself quite easily), it’s a perfect candidate for making pesto. The standard, of course, is basil, which we have plenty of as well, but we usually like to wait until as late in the season Read the Rest…

Baked Eggs

With the flurry of eggs arriving daily to our coop, we thought it appropriate to feature them in a dish. The very first week of my very first culinary class, we studied eggs. One of the dishes was baked eggs, which is easy to put together, and even easier to create your own variation. We Read the Rest…

The (COOP) Ward Eight

Ever since I discovered the existence of the Ward Eight, I’ve been trying to order one in bar after bar, with diminishing results. Most barkeep responses are “What the hell is a Ward Eight” or “What’s in that?” or they just stare at me for a minute or two, then hand me a bottle of Read the Rest…

The Bread Starter

When I first started baking my own bread, I would always go with a simple recipe from the Joy of Cooking. Flour, water, yeast, sugar and salt, sometimes with butter. It would all get mixed right at the moment I was ready to bake. It was only years later that I attempted to make my own Read the Rest…

Gazpacho

If you’re like most of the US this summer, you’re dealing with some completely unbearable heat. Around here, with the last two days pushing a high of 105° and the ten days before that all in the upper 90s, there’s not much cooking and baking we’ve been in the mood for. You can’t eat salads Read the Rest…

Rice & Beans, Three Ways

Rice and beans (R&Bs)… always a household favorite growing up in Jersey after my parents returned from a vacation to Puerto Rico in 1982. My mom adapted her own version of this dish that is easy, quick, healthy, and cost effective. After nearly thirty years of eating R&Bs I feel like I am a bit Read the Rest…

Mini Patriotic Pound Cakes

There’s probably not a cake more along the lines of COOP’s mission of simplicity and accessibility than the pound cake.  The classic recipe calls for a 1 : 1 : 1 : 1 ratio of butter, eggs, flour and sugar. Of course, over the years, additions such as salt and baking powder have perfected the Read the Rest…

The COOP 5: Kitchen Essentials

With the hundreds, if not thousands of kitchen tools available to the home cook and baker today, sometimes it’s hard to know what’s worth the investment. We’re sharing our choices for the most essential products to make things easier in your kitchen. The Microplane can be used for zesting fruit and grating cheese. It’s super Read the Rest…

Pimm’s + Herbs

If you have never had a classic Pimm’s Cup, then do that right now. It’s a liqueur based on gin, with spice and citrus hints. Too hard to describe, really, you’re best just trying it. We’ve made our own variation on the original, using some fresh herbs from our garden. Remove the leaves from the Read the Rest…

Slice and Dice

If you’ve ever eaten at a restaurant where the chefs have at least minimal talent with their knives, chances are good you’ve seen some amazing shaping of vegetables. There’s a good reason for this. The thing that we were bashed over the head with, every week, in culinary foundations was knife skills. We spent the Read the Rest…

Bacon, Egg, and Arugula Sandwich

Remember the film Spanglish, from 2004? I didn’t really like it. There were plenty of awful characters, and James L. Brooks’ films always seem to me like they’re trying too hard to show the viewer how real and raw human emotion is. Half the time it comes across as extremely hokey; maybe that’s just a constant Read the Rest…