Monday, December 26, 2011

Dinner Tonight - Beer and Cheddar Soup

Recipe courtesy Food and Wine magazine, posted below. The recipe has alot of steps but is well worth it! This is seriously my new favorite soup. Made recipe exactly as directed with no substitutions. Added some home-made croutons on top, thanks to Zac. Used the leftover challah bread from breakfast casserole I made for Christmas Eve with Zac's family.

Zac did all the prep. Very nice chopping and dicing job! Garlic, onion, celery, jalepeno (seeded), and thyme.

I cooked the bacon, removed from the pan along with some of the fat. Next we sauteed the vegetables, garlic, and thyme in remaining bacon fat.

Lots of cheese! 

Other ingredients: cooked bacon, chicken stock, heavy cream, and lager

Added half of lager and stock to pot to reduce

Zac making the roux, almost ready to add to the soup

Cheese, bacon, cream, and remaining lager have been added. It's almost ready!

Finished product.  Added croutons and enjoyed!


Beer-and-Cheddar Soup

Contributed by 



  1. 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  2. 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  3. 1 small onion, finely chopped
  4. 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  5. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  6. Garlic-rubbed toasts, for serving
  7. 1 cup heavy cream
  8. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  9. 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  10. 1 large jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  11. One 12-ounce bottle lager or pilsner
  12. 1/2 pound piece of slab bacon, sliced 1/3 inch thick and cut into 1/3-inch dice
  13. About 2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  14. 1/2 pound sharp yellow cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
  15. 4 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded


  1. In a large saucepan, cook the bacon over moderate heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a bowl. Add the celery, onion, jalapeño, garlic and thyme to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 8 minutes. Add half of the beer and cook until reduced by half, 5 minutes. Add 2 1/4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
  2. In a small skillet, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Whisk this roux into the soup until incorporated and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, about 8 minutes. Add the heavy cream, cheddar cheeses and the remaining beer and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bacon and season with salt and pepper. Add a few tablespoons of broth if the soup is too thick. Serve the soup with garlic toasts.


The cheddar soup can be refrigerated overnight. Rewarm gently and thin with additional broth.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


June 21, 2011 - First attempt at a Ham and Cheese souffle.  Used Hubert Keller's recipe (below), and watch his show before hand to make sure we had all the steps just right.  It turned out perfectly! Well, next time I won't fill up the souffle dish quite as much.

perfect prep is essential! This is after step 7, right before 
the egg whites are folded into the batter.

Use the oven light to keep watch, don't open the oven door!

Almost done!

Ready to serve

Ham and Cheese Souffle
Serves 6
Makes 1, 2‐quart Souffle

For Souffle Dish:
1 tablespoon softened butter
¼ cup flour

For Souffle:
6 tablespoons butter
¾ cup flour
2 ¼ cup whole milk, chilled
5 egg yolks
½ pound Gruyere cheese, grated
½ cup ham, diced small
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
10 egg whites

1. Generously butter and flour a 2‐quart soufflé dish. Remove any excess flour.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour
and stir for approximately five minutes to make a roux. Add the milk slowly
and whisk until the mixture is very smooth. Continue whisking over
medium‐high heat and cook until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue
cooking for 4‐5 minutes until the mixture gets very thick.
4. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks one at a time until fully
5. Using a wooden spoon, mix in cheese until melted. Add chopped ham, and
season with salt and pepper.
6. Transfer the mixture to a medium mixing bowl.
7. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with an electric mixer on mediumhigh
speed to soft peaks.
8. Using a rubber spatula, transfer ¼ of the egg whites into the soufflé mixture
and stir until fully combined.
9. Add half of the remaining egg whites and fold gently together until mixture is
smooth. Add the remaining egg whites and fold in gently, being careful to
keep the airiness and lightness of the mixture.
10. Spoon the mixture into prepared soufflé dish, and bake 40 minutes or until
soufflé raises and is golden brown. Serve immediately.

40 Cloves and a Chicken

June 11, 2011

Earthfare in Montgomery opened recently, and gave out a "free meal" coupon that included a whole raw chicken, organic carrots, and pre-made mashed potatoes.  We made Alton Brown's 40 Cloves and a Chicken with our free chicken.  It was delicious! Super simple, will definitely make again.  Recipe below. 



    • 4 lbs whole chickens, cut into 8 pieces
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 40 garlic cloves, peeled
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and brown on both sides in a wide fry pan or skillet over high heat.
  2. Remove from heat, add oil, thyme, and garlic cloves. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Remove chicken from the oven, let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burgers with Grilled Asparagus - May 2011

This past Friday I was craving a hamburger and was in the grilling mood. I haven't made hamburgers in a while, and decided to stuff them like I'd seen Rachael Ray and Hubert Keller do on their cooking shows.  I cooked bacon and onions, and shredded sharp cheddar, creating little mounds between two thin patties.  After grilled, I topped off with more cheddar, and made a spicy aoli.  I took a short cut and used pre-made mayonnaise (made with olive oil), and added dijon mustard, garlic, and lemon juice. Buns were toasted, added lettuce and tomato.  Burgers were great!! the cheddar melted wonderfully, and the bacon flavor came through nicely.   I grilled asparagus, dressed simply with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper prior to grilling.

Pan-Roasted Scallops and Mushrooms - May 2011

Yesterday, for the first time I went to a new grocery store in Montgomery called Earth Fare, very similar to Whole Foods and Fresh Market with natural, organic, and local foods. I got ingredients for several new dishes including this one, from Tom Colicchio's cookbook "Think Like a Chef."  2 lbs of mushrooms are pan-roasted with thyme, tarragon, garlic, shallots, olive oil, salt and pepper. Scallops are similarly pan-roasted with butter added. For the mushrooms, we used cremini, shiitake, and white button.  Zac made the dish from start to finish, my only contribution was eating it! Wonderful meal!  The mushrooms were very similar to the roasted mushrooms we ordered from Tom Colicchio's Craft restaurant in Atlanta last year.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie and Gazpacho Appetizer - May 2011

This weekend we decided to make two new dishes, Gazpacho for an appetizer dish, and Hubert Keller's french style roasted chicken pot pie (which we'd recently seen on his show Secrets of a Chef on PBS). I had never had Gazpacho before, and Zac recently had it at Michael's Table in Montgomery.  Both were a lot of fun to make, and making the pot pie was very similar in process to making the short ribs a couple weeks ago. We used 3 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken, and it worked great. The chicken was very juicy.  Also used white wine versus Madeira.  The puff pastry on the pot pie was perfect! Gazpacho nice and cool for an especially hot day! Will make both of these recipes again!

Copyright 1999 The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
4 to 6 servings


  • 1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!
After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

French Style Chicken Pot Pie
By Hubert Keller
Serves 4

1 whole chicken (3 pounds) cut into 8 pieces, skin on
2 slices bacon, diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup Madeira wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
12 pearl onions, peeled
15 baby carrots, peeled (see note)
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, quartered
2 egg yolks
2 sheets puff pastry

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper and set aside.
3. In a 3‐quart stove‐top casserole pan or sauté pan over medium high heat, cook the bacon until almost crispy. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
4. Remove half of the bacon fat from the pan and add the chicken pieces, skin side down. Sear the chicken over medium‐high heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until lightly brown in color.
5. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the diced onion, diced carrot, thyme and garlic and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
6. Add Madeira wine and bring to a boil.
7. Add bacon, chicken stock, and chicken pieces. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan, and cook 45 minutes at a low simmer.
8. Meanwhile, in a 10‐inch skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter with the sugar. Add the pearl onions and baby carrots, stir to coat, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
9. Add ¼ cup water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and let cook for 15 minutes at a low simmer, or until vegetables are tender. Remove and set aside.
10. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in the skillet and add the shitake mushrooms. Sauté for 2 minutes over medium heat. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and add ¼ cup water. Cover the pan and let cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender.
11. When the chicken has finished cooking, remove the chicken pieces and place in a 2.5 quart pie dish or low, round casserole. Top the chicken with the mushroom, onions and baby carrots, spreading them evenly around the chicken.
12. Pour the remaining chicken cooking mixture through a fine‐mesh strainer into a small saucepan. (The remaining solids are not used in the dish).
Simmer the liquid over medium heat for about 5 minutes, to reduce and thicken. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
13. Pour the sauce over the pot pie.
14. Roll out the puff pastry sheet so it is 1 inch larger than the pot pie dish.
15. Beat the egg yolks with 2 teaspoons of water to make an egg wash.
16. Brush the top of the puff pastry sheet with the egg wash. Then brush the egg wash on the brim of the chicken dish. Place a piece of puff pastry, egg wash side up, on top of the potpie and press down along the brim of the pan to seal the edges. To create a design, take a sharp knife and cut diagonal lines, just barely cutting through the dough.
17. Place each pot pie on a baking sheet, and bake in preheated oven 25 to 30 minutes, or until puff pastry is a deep golden brown.

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs - May 2011

This was our first time making short ribs, and I'm pretty sure my first time eating short ribs. We made these for Zac's 30th birthday dinner with this family. Everything went well and turned out perfectly!! We used Hubert Keller's recipe, copied below.

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs
Serves 4-6
  • 4 pounds short ribs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small onions, peeled, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, sliced thinly
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 1 ½ cups red wine, pinot noir
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 sprig fresh sage
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Heat olive oil in 5-quart sauté or casserole pan over high heat.
  3. Lay the short ribs out on a clean work surface and season all sides with salt and pepper.
  4. When oil is almost smoking, add ribs and let sear on high heat, 5 minutes per side or until well browned. Use tongs to rotate the ribs.
  5. Once browned on all sides, remove ribs with tongs and place on a baking tray.
  6. Add onions, carrots, celery, ginger, and garlic to the same pan.
  7. Smash the lemongrass stalk with the back of knife, slice, and add to pan. Sauté vegetables for 2 minutes, or until softened.
  8. Over high heat, add red wine and scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon as wine comes to a boil.
  9. Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, brown sugar, parsley, beef stock and sage leaves to pan and bring to a simmer. Add ribs back into pan and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
  10. Place casserole in pre-heated oven for 1.5 hours. Remove cover and continue cooking for an additional 1 hour.
  11. When rib meat is very tender, remove ribs from oven, using tongs to place on baking tray. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  12. Pour the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a saucepan, removing all of the vegetables. Over medium low heat, simmer the sauce for 5 minutes until darker in color and thicker. Add the ribs to reheat.
  13. Serve ribs with sauce over polenta or other side dish of your choice.

Oven Baked Churros

Saw this recipe in May 2011 Southern Living Magazine. I had puff pastry in the freezer, so gave it a shot. These are delicious!! Puff Pastry itself is hard to beat, but coated in cinnamon and sugar makes it even better!!



  • 1 (17.3-oz.) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup melted butter


1. Preheat oven to 450°. Unfold and cut puff pastry sheets in half lengthwise, and cut each half crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips. Place strips on a lightly greased parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.
2. Meanwhile, combine sugar and cinnamon. Remove pastry strips from oven, and dip in butter; roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Let stand on a wire rack 5 minutes or until dry.
Southern Living MAY 2011

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Years Day 2011 - McCrary family dinner

2011 started off with a New Year's Day dinner with the McCrary side of the family at our house. In attendance were Zac's aunt Marcia, cousin Drew, aunt Susie and her husband Jim, Zac's parents Bill and Martha, and Zac's sister Laura and her boyfriend Will.  Oh, and me, Zac, and Fritz.

Cooking before guests arrive

Dining Room

Kitchen Table

Cambodian Chicken-and-Rice Soup with Shrimp (Food and Wine Magazine Recipe, see below)
Stove top Mac and Cheese (Alton Brown Recipe)
Roasted Asparagus and Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin with Bearnaise Sauce
Susie's Squash Casserole
Laura's Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
Martha's Caesar Salad and Tomato, Onion, Cheese Salad
Marcia and Drew's Chocolate Cherry Cake
Strawberry Cake (from Nancy Patterson's in Montgomery)

Cambodian Chicken-and-Rice Soup with Shrimp Recipe
by Ratha Chau



One 3-pound rotisserie chicken
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 cup water
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup cooked jasmine rice
8 shelled and deveined medium shrimp, halved lengthwise (about 1/4 pound)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1 Thai chile, thinly sliced
Lime wedges, for serving


1.Cut the chicken into legs, thighs, breasts and wings. Cut each breast crosswise through the bones into 3 pieces. Remove the thigh bones and cut each thigh in half.

2.In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the ginger and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the stock, water, fish sauce, honey and rice and bring to a boil. Add the chicken pieces and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and cook just until opaque, about 1 minute. Stir in the lime juice, cilantro, basil and chile and serve right away, passing lime wedges at the table.

2010 comes to an end

Throughout the year I've photographed food, but did not write down the recipe used, the occasion, etc.  So this post is a compilation of random food adventures throughout 2010.  It's been fun looking back!

Pork dish

French toast with sauteed plantains. It was delicious!

First pepper harvest of the year.  We use home-made Earth Boxes to grow our veggies.

On the right - Chicken Milanese with tomato fennel sauce by Giada De Laurentiis.    On the left is a Parmesan pasta with portobello mushrooms. This was my first time working with fennel. It was delicious!  

I made several variations of mango salsa this year.  This dish is a grilled chicken breast with mango salsa, peas, and store-bought Indian naan bread.

Rachael Ray's loaded nachos! This has been a favorite of ours since seeing it on 30-minute meals in college. Yum-o!

Another favorite since college. Cooking Light's blueberry power muffins. They are my favorite blueberry muffins, and very good for you! Great frozen then reheated in the microwave before heading off to work!

I love meatballs. Dish above is home made Italian meatballs with a mozzarella cheese sauce, rosemary roasted potatoes, and salad.

Up next: 2011!