Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Preview of a Labor Day #SundaySupper

Only time will tell how many more days of nice weather are left this year...

...and I'll end August by looking forward to September.

Next Monday is Labor Day which marks the unofficial end to summer and with all those backyard barbecues occurring this weekend, the team at #SundaySupper has decided to profile some dishes for these events. This week, I have decided to expand my participation to the role of host but first I think it's important to highlight the history behind the day.

Please check out the other bloggers participating this Sunday:

Sunday Supper Movement

Refreshing Drinks
Amazing Appetizers and Sides
Enviously Good Entreés
Delicious Desserts

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each Sunday. We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm EST. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here → Sunday Supper Movement.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer Panzanella

Summer Panzanella

Like my gazpacho dish I published last month, panzanella has been on my radar for a while. The dish originates out of Tuscany and it's a tomato and bread salad that, like gazpacho, is also popular in the warm summer months when tomatoes are in season. This dish also allowed me to return to my roots by making food from scratch.

The Challenge

Making a pantry item from scratch to be used in another dish.

The Source

I guess you could say I'm returning to my roots in this respect too because I used Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking by Michael Chiarello with Janet Fletcher as my source. The croutons can be found on page 38 and the panzanella is on page 94.


1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
6 cups crust-free, day-old bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese, plus more shaved slices from a wedge for garnish
2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups arugula


1. Make the croutons: Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet. When it begins to foam, add the bread and toss to coat in the butter, then add the grated parmesan and toss again. Immediately transfer the bread to a foil-lined sheet pan and place in the oven, tossing the bread once or twice, until the bread is crisp and lightly colored outside but still soft inside, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

2. Combine the panzanella ingredients: Drain the tomatoes of any excess fluid in a colander while preparing the rest of your mise en place. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, basil, tarragon, croutons, salt, and pepper. Divide the salad onto serving plates and garnish with arugula and shaved Parmesan.


When I presented this salad to Mrs. Stuntman, she complained about the absence of protein (i.e. no bacon? fried egg?). Then she tasted it. I must admit, I'm not a huge fan of raw tomatoes, but it was one of the most well-seasoned and balanced salads I've eaten. I also wanted to get this dish in before the summer tomato season was finished this year. Chef Chiarello has also adapted the concept of the panzanella for the autumn, winter and spring using produce in season so I hope to profile those versions in the future.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pea and Bacon Risotto

Pea and Bacon Risotto

As I was reviewing some photographs on my hard drive recently, I noticed one that I took a couple of months ago but forgot about it. I remembered my original plan was to use it as a ruse discuss the recent cases of cyber-bullying that many food bloggers have experienced, but I will instead defer to my friends, Nancy of gotta get baked and Dianne of Will Write for Food who have so eloquently wrote about the topic earlier this year. If I may summarize, I think I speak for most food bloggers when I say that we would be happy if you shared our work so long as you ask permission first.

The Challenge

About a year ago, I wasn't satisfied with a risotto that I published so I wanted to clean it up and refine it. Had I published it when I first prepared it, it would have been a seasonal dish with fresh peas but I prepared it again over the weekend using the frozen variety because I remembered it was so flavorful.

The Source

I adapted this dish from Food & Wine magazine's website.


6 ounces (approximately 6 slices) bacon, cut into batons
2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
7 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for garnish
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Finish the mise en place: In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a gentle simmer. Combine 1 cup baby peas with 1 cup water in a blender. Purée and reserve. In a large skillet, render the bacon over medium heat until crisp, approximately 6 minutes. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain and reserve approximately 1 tablespoon bacon fat.

2. Start the risotto: In the same skillet the bacon was cooked, add the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and sweat to soften, approximately 5 minutes. Stir the rice into the onions, ensuring each grain of rice is coated in oil evenly. Deglaze with the white wine and stir the rice until it has evaporated. Add enough stock (one or two ladels) to cover the rice and stir continually until all the stock has been adsorbed. Repeat the process of adding more stock and continually stirring until adsorbed until the rice is al dente and creamy, approximately 25 minutes.

3. Finish the risotto: Once the rice is al dente, stir in the reserved bacon, pea purée and the remaining thawed peas until warmed through. Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan, reserved bacon fat and butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Served in warmed bowls and garnish with additional parmesan.


I slightly overcooked the rice in the risotto I prepared this past weekend, but the flavors work well with each other.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

Like my previous dish, I originally profiled this classic sauce in a prior website but I wanted to again for a number of reasons. When I published it the first time, it got overshadowed because it was the first time I made pasta from scratch. Secondly, I ran into this version which largely uses the same ingredients but slightly altered technique so I wanted to determine of these differences affected flavor.

The Source

Adapted from page 154 of the recipe guide of Top Chef University DVD set.


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced medium
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped finely
2 ribs celery, chopped finely
2 medium carrots, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
2 bay leaves
3-4 leaves fresh basil, torn plus more for garnish
1 cup fluid from canned tomatoes or whole milk
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried spaghetti
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for garnish


1. Prepare the protein: In a Dutch oven or a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, place the pancetta into the pan and cook to render the fat but not crisp, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Raise the heat to medium high and add the ground beef to the pancetta and stir to combine, breaking up the large pieces of meat. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the beef is well browned and no longer pink, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan using a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan and reserve.

2. Flavor the sauce: Add the mirepoix ingredients to the pan of rendered fat and sweat. Stir in the garlic and cook until the onions are translucent, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute or two so the flavor concentrates. Deglaze with red wine and reduce so the alcohol evaporates. Add the torn basil leaves and bay leaves and cook for another ten minutes to blend the flavors. Add the tomatoes and reserved meat, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add tomato fluid if the level gets too low.

3. Cook the pasta and finish the dish: During the last 30 minutes the sauce simmers, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and boil for a minute or two less than the box instructions dictate. Reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain. Then add to the sauce and continue to cook to blend the flavors. Plate onto warmed bowls and garnish with chiffonade basil and parmesan cheese.


The recipe I profiled can be found on Saveur Magazine's website. I live this version better because it doesn't simmer as long (however you certainly could do so longer) and it utilizes the pancetta fat more constructively.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Presenting: Thick Pork Chops with Spiced Apples and Raisins

Thick Pork Chops with Spiced Apples and Raisins

A quick side: My toe is much better.

This dish is one of my first successes as a food blogger and originally appeared on my first website in the spring of 2010. At the time, I had very little culinary experience and was just following a recipe but upon further examination, this dish has more technique in it than I first realized. More on that later.

I can't find the first picture I took three years ago but it wasn't very good. I reshot the dish a couple of months later bur still wasn't satisfied. I still am not completely content with the photography, but this is the first time I was happy with the plate presentation. Over the years, I prepared this dish every few months when pork chops went on sale like they were last week.

The Challenge

Improve my presentation skills.

The Source

This is a Tyler Florence recipe that can be found on Food Network's website.


I substituted kosher salt for sea salt and apple juice for apple juice concentrate. Otherwise, ingredients and their quantities remain unchanged.


In summary, the pork chops are brined first, seared on the stovetop, and then roasted in the oven. While the pork is roasting, apple slices are simmered with some spices.


I remember how fragrant my kitchen was the first night I cooked this dish. The simmering apples reminded me of potpourri bouquets my mother used to have around the house when I was growing up. From a culinary standpoint, I like this dish because it is so well thought out. Pork chops have a bad reputation of being dry, so this preparation method takes steps to avoid this pitfall. This dish introduced me to the concept of a brine that I use on poultry so often. Secondly, Chef Florence uses an old restaurant trick by just searing the protein on the stovetop just to get the exterior caramelized and then cooking it through in the oven.

In other news, I hadn't commented on the Next Food Network Star recently so I thought I'd do so here. I was surprised to see Stacey leave when she did. I voted for Rodney because culinary skills can be learned but his charisma can't. I don't think Russell presents himself well, and the concept Damaris presented doesn't seem to appeal to Food Network's core audience.

I was able to find the second picture I took of the dish:

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pan-Seared Halibut with Corn Hash and Asparagus Pureé for a Music-Inspired #SundaySupper

Pan-Seared Halibut with Corn Hash and Asparagus Pureé

A little bit of behind the scenes notes for the last couple of dishes. Let me first start by noting that I hate to leave my work to the last minute, but sadly that was not the case with the dessert I published last week. I planned on preparing the dish Thursday evening, but Mrs. Stuntman was not home unexpectedly that evening. I don't remember what prevented me from preparing the dessert on Friday, but suffice to say, it didn't get done. In fact, the picture of the dessert was taken only hours before it was published. I had competed in the rib competition earlier that Saturday and was tired when I returned home. I finally gathered enough energy about 7pm to prepare and finalize the dish which I completed about 3 hours later. I was still writing about the dish until about 1am Sunday morning when I could no longer keep my eyes open and scheduled the dish to be published at 1:30am.

So on Sunday evening I was reviewing the themes for upcoming #SundaySupper events and this one sounded like fun. The theme is dishes inspired by music. So Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday was spent picking a song and conceptualizing a dish using my copy of The Flavor Bible. Once finalized, I committed to it Wednesday afternoon and was going to purchase my ingredients on Thursday morning to prepare that evening but I woke up with an immobilizing toe injury. I could move but not without discomfort and even going from room to room took minutes, not seconds. Thursday evening, Mrs. Stuntman even had to buy a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket deli because I couldn't cook any dinner that evening, much less one of sufficient quality for this publication. Friday I was downing pain meds like candy and was able to suffer through the preparation of a favorite dish but I had to wait an hour for the pain in my foot to subside before I could plate it. I was close to emailing Susan of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen (this week's host) to back out of my commitment but decided to wait until Saturday morning to confirm. Low and behold, Saturday I was still in pain but was bearable and was able to make it to the store. So here I was again, back on a Saturday evening hours before my deadline cooking the dish I was supposed to publish in just hours. It was 10:30pm last night Pacific Standard Time before I tasted my dinner.

Thankfully, the dish itself softened the blow. More on that later.

I would argue that tastes in music are even more subjective than tastes in food. Take a look at the wide variety of genres that inspired the dishes below and you'll see. In high school, I started out in the late 1980s listening to those hair bands. These bands didn't have a dedicated radio station so the only place I could find their music were these rock stations that mixed in some 1970s music (think Led Zeppelin, the Who, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, etc.) By the time I graduated high school, I was completely frustrated with even MTV because their playlist consisted of about a half-dozen songs, but I found blues listening to Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. From there, I found Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and B. B. King, just to name a few. One upper division course I was able to take while attending college and have it count towards my degree was a jazz history course and have been hooked ever since.

My favorites? I like older material such as Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Herbie Hancock, and John Coltrane. I believe "Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis is the single best piece of recorded music that was made in the 20th century. Another favorite is the live version of Dinah Washington's song, Fast Movin' Mama. (I almost got into an accident the first time I heard it because I was driving at the time and laughing so hard.) Some more contemporary musicians I recommend are Dee Dee Bridgewater, Regina Carter and Dianne Reeves. I can tell that I'm getting old because I hear the lists of Grammy nominations every winter and have never heard of most of the nominees, let alone heard their music. I've found that there is a certain charm in older music that is missing in music published today: Deeper lyrical content and the restraint shown to simply imply rather than the need for many musicians to describe in graphic detail. For example, as I was doing research for this dish I remember reading something somewhere which made the point that many jazz songs which reference food are euphemisms for sex.

Don't worry. The song that provided inspiration for this dish may be taken at face value. It's about two buddies going to a house party in New Orleans one evening long ago that got raided by the police. I only noted a dish inspired by Ella Fitzgerald and a second one inspired by Etta James this week but I felt there needed to be more representation of old school music. Besides the obvious reference to food in the title, I picked this song in particular because Louis Jordan was referenced as a major influence among those that laid the foundation for rock and roll sixty years ago. (Think Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, and Little Richard and others.) In fact, Saturday Night Fish Fry has been considered by many as the first rock and roll song.

The Challenge

One of the reasons why I waited to finalize a concept for this dish was because halibut went on sale on Wednesday. (I also considered Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones and The Lemon Song by Led Zeppelin.) When I thought of fried fish, I kept thinking fish and chips which was confirmed by The Flavor Bible which noted asparagus, lemon, potatoes and spinach as complementary ingredients to halibut.

The Source

I adapted the halibut from Food Network; the hash from Food & Wine; and the pureé from epicurious.


1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch lengths
2 teaspoons lemon juice
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 large russet potato (approximately 1 pound)
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups spinach leaves (approximately 2 ounces) rinsed and dried, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 halibut fillets (6 to 8 ounces each)


1. Prepare the pureé: In a medium saucepan, bring well salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and boil until tender, about 6 minutes. Remove the asparagus to a blender with a slotted spoon and pureé, reserving 1 cup of the boiling water. Squeeze in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. If the consistency is too thick, add the reserved water as necessary and pureé until smooth. Keep warm in that saucepan while you prepare the other components.

2. Prepare the hash: Place the potato in a small saucepan and fill with water until the potato is completely submerged and bring to a boil over high heat. Add a large pinch of salt and cook until just tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove the potato with the slotted spoon and reserve. When cool enough to handle, cut potato into a medium dice. (It may not be cooked all the way through.) Add the corn into the same boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, approximately 3 minutes. Drain, pat dry with paper towels and reserve. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and cook until lightly browned, approximately 5 minutes. Add in the reserved corn and cook until lightly toasted, approximately 3 minutes. Add the 3 cups spinach and cook until wilted, approximately 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper, then remove from heat, but immediately add the parmesan and stir to melt.

3. Sear the halibut and finish the dish: While the corn and potatoes are cooking in the pan, heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and season the fillets with salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot, add the fillets to the pan and sear for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove to a platter to allow for any carryover cooking. To plate, spoon a tablespoon of the pureé onto a plate. Place a spoonful of hash onto the pureé, then top the hash with the fillet and garnish with torn spinach leaves.


I was surprised how well-balanced this dish is considering the conditions in which it was constructed. The sweetness of the corn balanced the hit of acidity in the pureé with the savory fish and potatoes. Mrs. Stuntman especially enjoyed the pureé and thought it was the best component of the dish. Overall, the dish contained the complexities of flavor expected in any fine dining establishment. Lastly, you'll be glad to know that I can guarantee I won't be rushing my next dish because I've already prepared it.

For reference (and in case you haven't heard the song), it was uploaded to YouTube and can be listened to below:

Other Sunday Supper Participants

And finally, please check out this week's other Sunday Supper contributors:

Prelude (Beverages):

Calimocho (Red Red Wine Cocktail) from La Cocina de Leslie inspired by Red Red Wine by UB40
Dark & Stormy Cocktail Recipe from An Appealing Plan inspired by Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen
Horchata from Treats & Trinkets inspired by Horchata by Vampire Weekend
Orange Crush from Magnolia Days inspired by Orange Crush by REM
Pineapple Lemonade Slushy with Coconut Water from Sue’s Nutrition Buzz inspired by Lemon Tree by Peter, Paul & Mary
Strawberry Tequila from Shockingly Delicious inspired by Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles

Overture (Appetizers):

Mustard Dill Beer Bread from Curious Cuisiniere inspired by In Heaven There Is No Beer a German Polka

Intermezzo (Entrees & Sides):

Chicken and Bacon Cheddar Waffles from I Run For Wine inspired by Glady’s Knight
Classic Fried Chicken from The Food Army Wife inspired by Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band
Margarita Chicken from In The Kitchen With KP inspired by Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet
Meatball Duet from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings inspired by On Top of Spaghetti by Tom Glazer
Pan-Seared Halibut with Corn Hash and Asparagus Puree from Crazy Foodie Stunts inspired by Saturday Night Fish Fry by Louis Jordan
Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy BBQ Pulled Pork from Neighborfood inspired by Something Like That by Tim McGraw
Spaghetti and Pork Meatballs from Family Foodie inspired by On Top of Spaghetti by Kidsongs
Teriyaki Burger from Juanita’s Cocina inspired by Cheeseburger in Paradise by Jimmy Buffet

Finale (Desserts):

Banana Cream Pie Bars from Peanut Butter and Peppers inspired by Tra La La Song by The Banana Splits
Banana Pancake Ice Cream with Maple Brittle from Foxes Love Lemons inspired by Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson
Cherry Pie from My Cute Bride inspired by Cherry Pie by Warrant
Cherry Marshmallows from Pies and Plots
Chocolate Cappuccino Cream Puffs from Runner’s Tales inspired by Choux Pastry Heart by Corinne Bailey Rae
Chocolate Chip, Walnut and Caramel Banana Bread Ice Cream Sandwich from Ruffles & Truffles inspired by Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani
Chocolate Covered Caramels from Big Bear’s Wife inspired by At Last by Etta James
Coconut Rum Blondies from Gotta Get Baked inspired by I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts by Danny Kaye
Easy Blueberry Recipe: Fruit Tart from Growing Up Gabel inspired by Blueberry Hill by Fats Domino
Espresso Nib Ice Cream from Vintage Kitchen Notes inspired by Black Coffee by Ella Fitzgerald
Fancy Watermelon Lime Popsicles from Daily Dish Recipes inspired by Watermelon Crawl by Tracy Byrd
Fresh Peach Pie from Killer Bunnies, Inc. inspired by Sweet Sweet Pie by PWEI
Jammin’ Oatmeal Cookies from What Smells So Good? inspired by Jammin’ by Bob Marley
Many Flavors Whipped Cream from Noshing with the Nolands inspired by Whipped Cream and Other Delights by Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass
Peach Basil Pie from The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen inspired by Peaches by POTUSA
Pina Colada Poke Cake from Cookin’ Mimi inspired by Two Pina Coladas by Garth Brooks
Peach Donuts with Brown Sugar from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks inspired by Peaches by POTUSA
Peach Strudel with Honey Bourbon Frozen Yogurt from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures inspired by My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music & Wild Honey by U2
Rainbow Pops from The Urban Mrs inspired by Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice
Salted Ripple Chip No-Churn Ice Cream from Cupcakes & Kale Chips inspired by Ice Cream by Sarah McLachlan
Salted Peanut Swirl Peanut Butter Ice Cream from girlichef inspired by Salt Peanuts by The Quintet
Shall We Dance? Fairy Cakes from The Ninja Baker inspired by Shall We Dance from the Japanese Film
Sugar Crusted Zucchini Bread from That Skinny Chick Can Bake inspired by Sugar, Sugar by the Archies
Tangerine Sorbet from Webicurean inspired by Tangerine Speedo by Caviar
Yeasted Banana Bread from Jane’s Adventures in Dinner inspired by I Like Bread and Butter by The New Beats

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm EST. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here ? Sunday Supper Movement.