Creamy Jalapeno Dip

Posted in Manna on July 10th, 2015 by Annabelle – 6 Comments


Welcome to the July edition of Let’s Lunch!  This month, we’re all sharing a recipe from our travels.  I admit, I travel on my stomach.  If I am going anywhere, what I want to eat while I’m there goes into the planning at about the same time as the plane ticket.  (Looking to have some steak tartare later this month, and I REALLY need to get on that plane ticket thing.)  This is particularly true on my trips to Texas, because I love Tex-Mex.  Sure, it may not be authentically Mexican, but it is by far my favorite US regional cuisine.

This recipe was inspired by the creamy jalapeno dip that one of my favorite lunch joints brings you along with the salsa and chips.  This isn’t it (the exact contents of their recipe remains a mystery), but it still goes great with chips, crudites, or fish tacos, and should tide me over until my next trip south.

Creamy Jalapeno Dip

2/3 c. mayonnaise
1/3 c. sour cream
1/4 c. buttermilk
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (seeds removed if you like it mild, included if you like it hotter)
3 Tbsp. each chopped dill, chives, cilantro, and flat-leaf parsley
1/3 c. canned green chiles, drained

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Adjust salt to taste and serve with tortilla chips or crudites.

Still hungry?  Check out the other offerings on Twitter, hashtag #LetsLunch, or below:

Hawaiian Island Panzanella Bread Salad at Spicebox Travels.

Watermelon Cucumber Cooler Cocktail at Asian in America.

Sardinian Seadas from Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan.

Moroccan B’Stilla at Monday Morning Cooking Club.

Rogan Josh at Tea and Scones.

Updates from Inside the Igloo

Posted in Manna on February 13th, 2015 by Annabelle – 12 Comments


Greetings from Boston!

As anyone who’s been watching the news in the US probably knows, we’ve been having some weather around here.  Specifically, snow.  Upward of six feet of snow, with more on the way. We’ve broken the 20 day snow record, we’ve broken the 30 and 40 day snow records, all that we have left is the snowiest winter record, and hey, there’s still a month of winter to go.

None of this snow has melted.  It lines every street, every sidewalk, in banks higher than my head.  I cannot express to you how unrelievedly snowy it is here right now.  It’s been challenging to get groceries in for the last three weeks, with the result that when I heard that this month’s Let’s Lunch theme was noodles, my mind took it somewhere other than comfort food.  I don’t even want to contemplate how much starch out of the cabinets I’ve eaten lately!

Instead, I offer you salad, as antidote to winter.  Okay, I know I am not actually going to get scurvy (I know this because of the lifesaving citrus-y sidecar I had at the cocktail hour last night), but the psychological pressure of all this snow is starting to make having something fresh and green seem like an emergency.  Also, I have a new peeler. It came in a set which I bought because they were pretty colors (this is how all my kitchen equipment happens), and it peels vegetables into lovely julienne. Who doesn’t want to play with that?  If you’re in the northeast, try this bright, lemony salad during Sunday’s snowstorm and remind yourself: summer will come again.  Eventually.

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Rosemary Whole-Wheat Shortbread

Posted in Manna on December 12th, 2014 by Annabelle – 2 Comments


Welcome to the last Let’s Lunch of 2014! This month’s theme is non-traditional traditions. Although my family does have a pretty non-traditional Christmas dinner (Chinese hot pot!), since I’ve posted about that in the past, I thought I’d turn the theme around and post about a traditional non-tradition: something in the spirit of Christmas tradition that I haven’t done in the past.

Growing up in the Midwest, I loved a white Christmas, but the very best Christmases were the ones when my parents would make the 24-hour drive south to Fort Worth so that we could spend the holiday with my grandparents. Most of my favorite Christmas cookies are ones I can remember my grandmother making, and although she’s no longer with us, I still cherish the pages in my cookbook written in her handwriting.

This shortbread is one of her recipes, with an extra Texas twist in honor of my parents’ Austin neighborhood where Christmas happens these days: rosemary. Rosemary grows by the side of the road in their Hill Country neighborhood, in whacking great shrubs that make the little plastic herb packages I get here in the north look like a joke. All you have to do is brush your hand over it to come away sweetly fragranced.  It’s not the Christmas I grew up with, but it’s a tradition I can definitely get behind.

The recipe after the jump!

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Quick Chinese Spicy Cucumbers

Posted in Manna on September 19th, 2014 by Annabelle – 2 Comments

Welcome to the September edition of Let’s Lunch!  This month, our theme is pickles.  I am a big fan of a fresh pickle; the full-sour is, well, a little too much sour for me, but I will be delighted to eat a half-sour any day.  The beauty of the fresh pickle is that you can do it with almost any vegetable (I’m fond of radishes), and without having to commit precious kitchen space to cucumbers you are not going to be able to eat for a couple of weeks.

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Afternoons on the Water (Let’s Lunch)

Posted in Manna on July 11th, 2014 by Annabelle – Be the first to comment

Welcome to this month’s Let’s Lunch!  For July, we’re taking advantage of the warm weather (at least here in the northern hemisphere!) and focusing on meals al fresco, from dinner on the patio to your Fourth of July picnic.

Now, I like a good picnic as much as the next girl, but my most cherished memories of outdoor meals are from long days on the river in a canoe.  My best childhood friend and I made a tradition once we were old enough of making an annual canoe trip on one of the local rivers.  The livery would put us into the water eight miles up a broad, lazy river, and we’d spend all afternoon exploring, sunbathing, and swimming before making our way back down just in time for dinner.

Naturally, serious provisioning was required for such a demanding endeavor.  The contents of the cooler varied from year to year, but we usually took chicken, Bugles, a few ripe plums, lemonade, and our staple: a batch of butterscotch brownies.  Chewy, nutty, and full of brown sugar, we’d bring the whole batch and they’d be gone before we reached the livery again.

The recipe follows after the jump; take some along on your next hike, or just whip up a batch for dessert, but don’t expect them to stick around — they’ll be gone before you know it!

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Grapefruit-Bourbon Cocktail

Posted in Manna on May 9th, 2014 by Annabelle – 2 Comments

Welcome to this month’s Let’s Lunch fruit fiesta! It’s still slim pickings here in New England as far as seasonal fruit goes, so I thought I’d share one of my favorite cocktails with the last of the winter citrus.  Grapefruit may be a winter fruit, but this cocktail is pleasantly summery to counteract all the gray weather we’ve had lately.  And any good fiesta needs a drink, right?

Grapefruit-Bourbon Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces bourbon
3 ounces fresh pink grapefruit juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
3 mint leaves
Mint sprig to garnish

Combine first four ingredients in a shaker and shake with ice.  Strain into a rocks glass with ice and garnish with mint sprig.  Enjoy!

Still hungry?  (Or thirsty?)  Check out the other offerings on Twitter, hashtag #LetsLunch, or below:

Rejuvenating Balinese Green Apple Salad at Spicebox Travels.

Cantaloupe Pie at Tea and Scones.

Mango Refrigerator Cake at Asian in America.

Sticky Pears at Monday Morning Cooking Club.

Spring’s Bounty (Let’s Lunch)

Posted in Manna on April 11th, 2014 by Annabelle – 6 Comments


Welcome to the April edition of Let’s Lunch!  This month’s theme is blissful simplicity: three ingredient recipes.  I’m not normally a pared-down sort of a cook, with one exception: the preparation of beautiful seasonal produce.  Sometimes, it’s best just to let Mother Nature speak for herself.

Coincidentally, this is the time of year when I inevitably become obsessed with spring produce.  You will note that I do not say that this is the time of year when spring produce shows up in our local farmer’s markets.  This is the North, folks.  This is just the time of year when I feel like it ought to be showing up.  I’ll be delighted to see it in another month when it actually arrives.

In the spirit of spring fever, however, I picked up some lovely asparagus that probably flew here from California, and gave it just a tiny bit of help to make it special with a dash of truffle oil.  Turns out, this may be just enough to tide me over until May.

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Eggs for Bren

Posted in Amusements, Manna on March 7th, 2014 by Annabelle – 7 Comments


Welcome to this month’s Let’s Lunch!  The delectable theme for March is dishes inspired by literature.  For a compulsive reader like me, it was hard to know where to even start.  I’ve been reading and dreaming about things my favorite characters ate since preschool.  (Anyone else remember Bread and Jam for Frances?  How about the scene in Little House in the Big Woods where Laura and her family make maple sugar candy by pouring syrup into the snow outside?)

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Let’s Lunch: Olympian Eats

Posted in Manna on February 7th, 2014 by Annabelle – 16 Comments


Welcome to this month’s Let’s Lunch!  I’m sure you hardly need to guess what this month’s theme is; is anyone capable of thinking about anything today but the arrival of the Winter Olympics?  Naturally, being as obsessed with Greek food as I am, the Olympic theme immediately suggested Greece to me, but a brilliant friend did me one better by pointing out that the lighting of the torch cries out for things that are on fire.  (I swear I am not a pyromaniac, but is flaming food not more festive?  Come on.)

Having spent my childhood making regular pilgrimages to Greektown for dinner, saganaki (pan-fried cheese) immediately sprang to mind.  We ordered saganaki every time we went, and while the process of having it brought to the table (“OOOOPPPAAAAAAA!!”) was intermittently terrifying, it has remained one of my favorites.  This would be a great snack for the opening ceremonies.

Since this isn’t a breaded, deep-fried number, you need a cheese that will actually hold up to being pan-fried instead of turning into a puddle in the bottom of your pan.  I use halloumi, but Greece has a whole slew of delicious sheep’s-milk cheese that will also fit the bill, including graviera, kefalograviera, and kelalotiri. I have also seen kasseri frequently recommended for it, but my own personal experience with kasseri was that it was too melty for the task.  If you find you’re having that sort of issue with your cheese, freezing the dredged slices before frying and then using rather a high heat may help.

Cheesy deliciousness after the jump.

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Let’s Lunch: Kummerspeck

Posted in Manna on January 17th, 2014 by Annabelle – 7 Comments


Oh, Germany.  I do so love the way you make new words by jamming existing ones together.  How else would we end up with a word like kummerspeck?  In case you hadn’t heard it before, kummerspeck translates to “grief bacon,” meaning the weight you gain from emotional overeating.  How do we not have this word in English?

Grief bacon is the theme for this month’s Let’s Lunch.  Being as the holidays are just over, I could take this as an opportunity to post a healthy recipe to address the results of the seasonally traditional overeating, emotional and otherwise, but what fun would that be?  Bacon, frankly, makes pretty great cause for grief bacon, but if I am feeling really down, I prefer to be beaten soundly about the head and shoulders with the Stick of Chocolate.  (And Scharffen Berger makes some really great chocolate chunks for just that purpose.  They are SO my favorite.)

After the jump, the brownies I want when I am In A Mood, preferably a trifle undercooked, and always chocolated to the teeth.

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