Pannukakku: Finnish Pancake

Pannukakku is one of my favorite Finnish recipes. When I was growing up, I would wrinkle my nose at the custard-like consistency of the Finnish pancake, but now it’s one of my favorite breakfasts. My husband, who never had this growing up, loves it too. I top it with a raspberry sauce, but any fruit topping would go really well with this dish. For the sauce, boil a pint of raspberries with a tablespoon of sugar and water.

Pannukakku

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

3 c. milk

1/2 c. butter

1 3/4 c. four

Beat eggs. Add 1 c. milk and flour. Gradually add remaining milk, sugar and salt. Beat until thick and smooth. Melt butter in 9×13 pan in the microwave and pour most of it into the batter. Pour batter into baking pan and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

Melanzane alla Parmigiana

A friend of mine did a cooking tour in Tuscany and brought back the recipes for the dishes she made while she was there. One of the recipes she shared with me was Melanzane alla Parmigiana, Eggplant Parmesan. This simple dish is wonderful. I pair it with spaghetti tossed with sauteed garlic and olive oil and homemade garlic bread. I also served it with Michael Chiarello’s Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Marcona Almonds and Pecorino.

Eggplant Parmesan

2 medium size round eggplants

3 eggs

1 c. flour

Vegetable oil

1 medium size ball of mozzarella

1/2 lb. parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic

2 basil leaves

1 lb. tomato sauce

Salt and pepper

Peel the eggplants and slice 1/2 inch thick. Place them in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Create several layers and place a dish over the eggplant and put a soup can on top to weigh in down. In a large frying pan, warm the olive oil and garlic. After a few minutes, remove the garlic and add the tomato sauce, salt, pepper and basil. Cook on low heat for 30 minutes. Cut the mozzarella cheese in small cubes. Beat the eggs and put flour in a flat dish. Wash eggplants and pat dry. Dip in egg, then flour. Fry in oil on high heat. Put sauce in baking dish and layer eggplant and sprinkle the two cheeses on top. Repeat. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.

Meeting Chef Michael Chiarello

One of the perks of being a food lover in Houston is that there are endless restaurants to try and many opportunities to meet food idols. Chef Michael Chiarello was in Houston this week, signing copies of his Bottega cookbook and bottles of his new line of wines, which are exclusive to Central Market. I had the pleasure of meeting him and having him sign a copy of his cookbook. Inside the front cover he penned, “Love as you cook!” I was also curious where he was going to eat while he was in town, so I asked him. He pulled out his iPhone and told me he was going to meet some friends at Uchi, an award winning Japanese and sushi restaurant. I haven’t made it there yet, but it’s on my list of restaurants to try.

His Bottega cookbook is filled with recipes from his Bottega restaurant in Napa Valley. I’m having a friend over this weekend and we’re going to make an Italian meal, which will include Chiarello’s Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Marcona Almonds and Pecorino.

It’s Fall: Time for Some Veal Stew

It’s fall here in Houston, which means its 90 degrees and sunny. I’m a Midwest girl at heart, so it was no surprise that I tried running out of the house this morning with a scarf around my neck. My favorite things about fall are the cool weather, color season and making food that warms the insides. In college, my roommate would pull out one of her family favorites: veal stew. She didn’t make it that often because we never had enough money to buy veal on a regular basis, but when she did it filled our empty apartment with a lot of warmth. This recipe is very simple, but is not lacking on flavor. Don’t make this if you’re in a rush, it needs lots of time to simmer and do its thing.

Veal Stew:

2 pkg. veal stew meat, about 1 lb.

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 can Italian seasoned tomatoes

2 boxes beef stock

Handful of Amish noodles

Saute the onions in olive oil until translucent. Add the meal and brown with the onions. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the beef stock and simmer for four hours until the meal falls apart. At the end, add the noodles and cook until tender.

Harry’s Restaurant and Cafe: Home to the Feta Fries

My husband and I have eaten breakfast on the weekends at Harry’s ever since we stumbled upon it soon after we moved to Houston. From the outside, it looks like any other breakfast place, but the creative and delicious items on the menu set it apart. Harry’s is known for its Feta Fries, hot French fries, sprinkled with herbs and feta. They are served with what I consider the best honey mustard sauce I’ve ever had. Some of our other favorite dishes are their breakfast tacos, a croissant breakfast sandwich with fried egg, grilled tomatoes, ham and cheese. They also have fantastic biscuits, which are perfection with butter and honey.

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Opa Houston! The 46th Annual Greek Fest

My co-worker and friend John and I had planned on going to the 46th annual Greek Fest at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Houston on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012. Our plan was to take advantage of their free shuttle service from Lamar High School to the festival grounds. We arrived at the school, along with hundreds of other people, at 11 a.m. and expected to hop on a shuttle and go feast on delicious Greek delicacies. Two-and-a-half hours and multiple 10 minute promises later, shuttles began to arrive to pick up the sunburned, cranky and hungry crowds of people. Our Greek Fest experience was not off to a good start, but they gave us free admission and bottles of water once we arrived at the fest.

It’s a good thing the food at the Greek Fest was AMAZING or the day would have been a total bust. We decided to split up, get a little bit of everything and share our take.

We had a dinner plate, which included pastitsio (pas TEET see oh – baked macaroni with beef filling and Romano cheese topped with bechamel sauce); tiropita (tee ROH pee tah – triangular-shaped cheese-filled puff pastry); spanakopita (spa nah KOH pee tah – spinach and Feta cheese rolled in filo); keftedes (kef TE thez – Greek meat balls with fresh mint); and salata (traditional Greek salad with seasonings, vinegar, olive oil, and Feta cheese, garnished with olives, tomatoes, and a salad pepper). We also had Dolmades, which are stuffed grape leaves, and Souvlaki, seasoned and marinated tenderloin cubes with onions, prepared over burning coals.

After taking a tour of the church and making our way through the throngs of people in the gift shop, we stopped and got dessert. We had Never-on-Sundae, vanilla ice cream, topped with baklava sprinkles, Baklava, nuts, butter & spices in layers of filo pastry, topped with honey syrup, Kourambiedes, all-butter cookies with toasted almonds, topped with powered sugar and Finikia, sweet honey cookie with various spices, topped with nuts.

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