New Blog Site: Please Update Your Bookmark!

I’ve moved my blog! Le Culinary Creusette is now Commuter’s Kitchen.

Why? Well I already have five Le Creuset items, so it’s hard to aspire to own more. Plus over the past year, my daily driving commute has started to compete with my cooking time, and I realized this was a better topic that more people can probably relate to.

Read what Commuter’s Kitchen is all about here and check out the sharing links follow the new blog by Facebook or through an email subscription.


Gym Dinner: Spicy Cashew Chicken

So I've sold my soul and joined a gym, which is great for my health, but sad for my weekday dinners. I use to come home around 6:30, but now it's late and I'm tired and take out is not an option. So I've started collecting a few quick dinners that require fewer ingredients and even less prep, but aren't your typical boring meals: introducing Gym Dinners.

This first recipe was something I've been meaning to try for awhile, taken from my sister's blog, Brioche & Bourbon. It was spicy, filling, and tasty.

Perfectly cooked chicken!
Chipotle Cashew Chicken
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2-3 chipotles en adobo 
  • 1 Tbl. cilantro- chopped finely 
  • 1 tsp. lime zest 
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar 
  • 2 Tbl. tamari or soy sauce 
  • 2 garlic cloves- finely chopped 
  • 2 Tbl. fat free mayo 
  • 1 tsp. olive oil 
  • 1/2 c. roasted cashews, plus more for garnish
  1.  Preheat oven to 425. Roast cashews on a low heat for 5 minutes until nicely browned. 
  2. Combine all ingredients, except the chicken, in a food processor.
  3. In an oven safe pan place the chicken and pat dry and season lightly with salt and pepper. 
  4. Rub the marinade over chicken and bake in the oven for 45 minutes until breasts are plump. Serve with lime wedges.
Side Dish Idea: I bought two small sweet potatoes, and roasted those at the same time as the chicken. Just peel, toss with a little olive oil, brown sugar, and salt, and roast until tender. Add in half a red onion, cut in large slices, to give it extra depth.


Recipe Revamp:
Eggplant Pizza

Last summer I discovered the joys of putting eggplant on pizza, and while it's an absolutely amazing recipe in terms of gooey deliciousness, I found an even better one a few weeks ago that adds in even more levels of flavor to the pie. The za'atar I used I had brought back from Jordan, and this was really a great way to use it up.

The Sprouted Kitchen
Roasted Eggplant & Za'atar Pizza
Dough Recipe
2 c. bread flour
2 t. yeast
1 t. sugar
1 T. olive oil
1 c. warm water

Tahini Spread
3 Tbsp. Tahini
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 Clove Garlic, minced
Pinch of Salt + Pepper

1 Eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/4" discs
2 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Generous Pinch of Dried Oregano
1 Small Yellow Onion, in large slices
3/4 Cup Shredded Mozzarella
1 Tbsp. Za’atar
1/3 Cup Crumbled Feta
Fresh Thyme Leaves
Salt + Pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 500. Mix dough ingredients together and let rise for 30-45 minutes.
  2. Mix all of the tahini spread ingredients together in a bowl, set aside.
  3. Drizzle eggplant and onions in a roasting pan and toss with salt, oil, and dried oregeno. Roast for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Once dough has risen, spread it out on a pizza stone and place the tahini spread across the surface, followed by the za'atar. Sprinkle the mozzarella, the eggplant chunks and charred onions, and the crumbled feta. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top, and baking the pizza for 12-15 minutes until the edges crisp up. Garnish the top with a generous sprinkle of the fresh thyme leaves.


Pork Tonkatsu (aka Japanese Schnitzel)

Chris recently took two work trips, one to Germany and the other to Japan. Upon his return, he could not stop raving about the schnitzel he had over in Germany. It was so good, he ordered it every night.

Chris in love with Schnitzel
When I saw this recipe in July's Bon Appetit, I thought it would be a fun way to combine his two experiences into one meal. While I don't pan fry often, if you control the heat of your pan well you don't use that much oil, and the panko crunch kind of simulated a deep fry without all that fat.

It was also incredibly fast to make, the only prep I recommend is pounding down the cutlets to an even width around 1/8-inch so they cook evenly and quickly.

My version
Pork Tonkatsu
Bon Appetit, July 2011 
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) 
  • 4 4-ounce boneless center-cut pork chops, pounded to 1/8" thickness 
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided 
  1. Whisk eggs and 1 tablespoon mustard in a medium bowl. Combine panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on a large plate. Season pork lightly with salt and pepper. 
  2. Dip in egg mixture, then in panko, pressing to adhere. 
  3. Working in 2 batches, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook pork until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side, adding 1 tablespoon vegetable oil after turning. Drain on paper towels. 
Step 1

Step 2

Step 3


A Food Memorial:
Beef Brisket

Tata's Brisket
All week long I've listened to a lot of memorials and remembrances of people speaking of those they loved who were lost ten year ago today. They bring back memories of my own, except not ones that happened on 9/11, but those who were important to me who were lost in the last ten years, especially my grandfather, George Weaver.

I've already gone into detail about my quest to remember my grandmother through food, but when I think of an actual food memory, I jump immediately to Tata. After Maria's death, I remember my parents were worried because George had lost his appetite amid his grief. He loved strong flavors, especially garlic, but in the last few years of Maria's life, her allergies and body really couldn't tolerate those flavors.
Tata, after 9/11
I'm not sure how it started, maybe because I borrowed his car every day for school, but at some point in the following months, I would come home from school and eat small meals with my grandfather. The meal I remember most was when I walked in and just smelled an overpowering odor of garlic. Garlic bread, Garlic Salad—just about everything was covered in cloves.

We didn't eat a lot, but kept each others company, and over time, both of our spirits lifted. My family continued our Sunday night traditions of eating over at his house. I started picking up menudo, his favorite tripe soup, at drive-thru Mexican restaurants. He went on to live until 2007, eating exactly what he wanted right until the end.

My grandfather didn't cook a lot, but his signature dish he made for the family was the following brisket recipe. The sauce, a fantastically delicious mixture of horseradish and cream, is legendary—originally gaining fame as a favorite dish of Stanley Marcus, of Neiman-Marcus. Everything my grandfather loved about flavor can be told through this recipe. Definitely for horseradish lovers, the sauce also has a subtleness that comes from the apples and cream so it won't scare away those with a more modest love of the root.

The Original Recipe, taken from an ancient newspaper
Boiled Brisket with Horseradish Sauce
Helen Corbitt Cooks for Company
5-6 lb. beef brisket, with fat
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1 celery stalk, with leaves
2 carrots
2-3 Sprigs Parsley
6 Peppercorns
1 bottle Beer (Darker is better)
1 t. salt (added after 1 hour of cooking)

Horseradish Sauce
1 cup cream
1 cup reserved juice from meat (fat removed)
1/4 c. grated horseradish or horseradish sauce
1/2 t. dry mustard
1 t. chopped chives (very thin)
1/4 c. diced apple (very thin)
  1. Place beef with fat in dutch oven with the rest of the brisket ingredients. Bring to a boil, add salt, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 3-4 hours, until meat is tender.
  2. After 2 hours, remove 1 cup of the liquid from the pot and cool, skimming off the fat. When the brisket has around 30 minutes left, make the sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients and heat on low. Note: Be careful not to bring the sauce to a boil, or else the cream will curdle.
  3. When brisket is tender, remove from pot. Cut away all excess fat, and then slice the meat in long, skinny pieces. Serve with sauce and white rice.


Recipe Revamp:
Turkey Chile

A really great recipe is never finished. After reading about Endless Simmer's impossible quest for recipe perfection, I began thinking about my own tried and true recipes and how I could revamp them.

The rain this week in the DC area has brought my mind to fall, and SOUPS, so the first place I turned to is the turkey chile recipe I've made for a few years now (courtesy by sister's friend Robin). The combination of the beer, chocolate, and molasses makes it a great recipe in its own right, but yesterday night I found a way to make it even better, with an ingredient that should be in every chile recipe from now on: chiles!

The recipe below is the same as previous, but includes two types of dried chiles, although the types can vary depending on what you have around. Adding the chiles at the beginning made the broth both rich and smokey, and added a level of depth that the chili that reminded me of mole. While this recipe was never very spicy to begin with, there was now a nice bite at the end. I also threw in some bell peppers for good measure, which went well with the smokiness of the broth.

Turkey Chile
  • 2 strips bacon
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped into large pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 dried ancho chile, deseeded and diced
  • 1 dried New Mexico or California chile, deseeded and diced
  • 16 oz. package ground turkey
  • 2 T. chili powder
  • 1 T cumin
  • 2 t. paprika
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 1 t. cayenne pepper
  • 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 14 oz. water
  • 12 oz. beer--amber or darker brew preferred
  • 1 c. frozen okra (optional)
  • 1/2 c. frozen corn (optional)
  • 2 T. molasses
  • 1 T. dark chocolate
  • Garnishes: cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions, Fritos (if you don't want to make corn bread), and bacon from the first step.

  1. In a dutch oven, cook two strips of bacon, cubed into small slices, and remove when cooked. Leave the bacon grease in the pot to use to cook the rest of the chili---the flavor you get out of it will really make this dish!
  2. Dice 1 medium onion and 2 cloves of garlic and add to pot. Saute 2-3 minutes. Add in dried chilies and bell peppers, saute until onions are translucent.
  3. Add in ground turkey-cook for 5 minutes (should only be partially cooked)--then add in your spices (more cayenne if you want a spicier finish) and then your beer, tomotoes, and water. Keep the mixture at a simmer for about an hour, adding more water as needed if the liquid level gets too low. 
  4. After an hour, add in your molasses, chocolate, and optional frozen veggies as needed.  Cook additional 10-15 minutes until chili thickens to your likening. Season with salt and pepper---garnish with cheese, bacon bits, sour cream. Serve with corn bread.


How to Grill a Pizza: Party Style

I've hosted pizza parties before, and while having 10-15 people over to make their own individual pizzas is fun, it has its down side too. Unless you have a large kitchen, crowding around a stove can turn a room into a messy sauna pretty quickly.

A perfect solution presented itself this weekend, when I was away at the lake for Labor Day. In a house without AC, I decided to finally give grilled pizza a try. Taking the party outside let everyone come and go from the grill as their pizza-making turn arose, but didn't have the claustrophobia of my kitchen.

I had heard a few stories about how to grill pizza from friends, who assured me placing a pizza directly on the grill would work. My instinct, knowing how my dough tends to be more on the sticky, gooey side, was that the pie would fall straight through the cracks of the grill, so to prevent this, I took my typical dough recipe and adjusted it slightly, using bread flour, and letting the dough rise for a full hour.

For the party, I also tripled the following recipe, and formed five smaller pizza balls from the group. Below are my notes, and pictures of my first efforts. Super thanks to my friends who had done this before and manned the grill, assuring me it would work.

Finished pizza--all in one piece!
Grilled Pizza Dough
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 2 t. yeast
  • 1 t. sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 t. oil
  • 2 cups bread flour plus more
  1. Preheat the grill to a medium heat.
  2. Mix the yeast, oil, and water together until combined, then add it to the bread flour. Stir together, or knead by hand, until dough forms a solid ball. Add more flour, up to another quarter cup, until it looses its sticky consistency and forms a ball.
  3. Let rise for at least one hour, punch it down, and then work it into a flat dough, oiling your hands if necessary. A ball the size of your hand should flatten out to a medium pizza that is easily handled on the grill itself and serves up around 6-8 slices.
  4. Oil the grill grates, and one side of the pizza. Place the oiled side onto the grill and grill until the dough moves easily around on the grill and has browning marks on its side.
    Dough on the Grill
  5.  Oil the second side of the pizza, and flip it on the grill.
    Grilled Side Up

  6. Working quickly, spoon the sauce and all toppings except cheese on the grill. Note: Grilling shortens the cooking time of veggies, especially bell peppers or onions, so if you like those less crispy, consider slightly sauteeing them before adding them to the grill.
    Add toppings directly to grill
  7. Close grill cover and let the veggies cook on the pizza for 3-5 minutes. Move the pizza to the top rack if possible to avoid direct access to the heat and add cheese. Keep on grill until cheese melts, but be sure to watch the bottom and make sure it doesn't get too crispy.
Two pies cooking at once.