Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Anna Stchur

In response to Michelle's most recent comment:

Yes, the diatribe on llamas is long overdue. One of these days though, I promise.

As for impending infant news... why yes, I do in fact have news. And a whole new blog to go with it.

Visit the Stchur Family Blog (aka Tales from the Crib).

Or view Anna Photo Albums on Spaces.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fried Eggplant Tomato Soup with Orzo

It's been quite a long time since I posted, but this dish was so much fun that I figured I had better blog it so I can reference it next time I want to make it.

As usual, I can't take credit for the core of the recipe, but my version is way easier to follow. The order of the instructions from the original recipe didn't mesh well with my kitchen habits, so I re-worked it a bit into something that I think makes more "kitchen sense."

First things first: The Ingredients

  • 5 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 large eggplant, peeled (optional) and diced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of uncooked tiny pasta -- I used Orzo
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 to 4 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 large potato, chopped
  • 3 to 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 20 basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 70 oz of canned diced tomatoes (two 28oz cans + one 14oz can); alternatively, you can use fresh tomatoes (about 8 large tomatoes, diced -- I did this, but it was a pain
  • several tablespoons of olive oil
  • some dried oregano (how much? who cares)
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
Pay attention:
Don't be overly concerned with chopping the vegetables. Diced onion, minced garlic, choffonade basil leaves, whatever! This is all going to be pureed eventually anyway, so don't waste time chopping anything too finely.


  1. Peel (optional) and dice the eggplant, rise, and drain in a colander. Salt liberally, toss, salt again and then set aside and let drain for roughly 30 minutes.
  2. Heat salted water to boiling, add orzo and drain when al dente.
  3. While water is boiling, chop the onions, garlic, and celery. Then, in a stock pot, fry the vegetables in a few tablespoons of olive oil (till onions begin to brown).
  4. Take the browned vegetables, along with the tomatoes and blast them in your food processors until smooth (leave them in the food processor -- we'll be coming back to this step).
  5. Meanwhile, add the potato (coarsely chopped), basil, and vegetable broth to the stock pot; bring to a boil.
  6. While soup is heating, heat some olive oil in a wok and stir fry the eggplant. Tip: be sure the olive oil is very hot so that the eggplant browns nicely. And don't use too much oil -- otherwise it will be soggy and greasy; also, toss frequently.
  7. Once the eggplant is browned, add the orzo and oregano and toss for a few minutes more. Then, transfer to a plate and set aside.
  8. Now that the soup has had a chance to heat, the potatoes should be soft enough to puree. Using a slotted spoon, add the potatoes to the food processor and blend until they are thoroughly incorporated with the tomato/celery/onion mixture that your pureed before. Once smooth, stir the mixture back into the stock pot.
  9. Wait a few minutes and then add in the eggplant and orzo.
  10. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Say a prayer. Eat and enjoy!
This soup can be served hot or cold, but I think it's best hot with a French baguette.

Comments welcome.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Best Hummus Ever!

This recipe is seriously awesome, and while my good friend, Bryanski Stolichniov, deserves most of the praise, credit totally goes to me for my awesome (and much needed) additions to spice it up.

The original recipe was just called "Hummus." BORING!

The new recipe is called "Tomato and Avocado Hummus." YUM!

  • 2 cans garbanzo beans/chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • A few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic (more, IMO, is always better)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp parsley (fresh or dried)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 can (12 or 14oz) unseasoned diced tomatoes
  • 2 small (ripe) avocados
  1. Cut the avocados in half, length-wise and twist apart. Slam your knife blade (carefully) into the avocado pit (of whichever half held onto it) and twist to remove it.
  2. Using a spoon, scoop the avocado out of each half and into a food processor.
  3. Add garlic to food processor.
  4. Blend for a few pulses, until the garlic is minced and the avocado is broken up.
  5. Add chickpeas and diced tomatoes (juice and all) to the food processor.
  6. A few more pulses.
  7. Add remaining ingredients, and blend until very smooth.
  8. Refrigerate for an hour or two if you want it to thicken.
  9. Say a prayer.
  10. Eat and enjoy.
This hummus is excellent with so many things. I've made sandwiches using toasted bread, hummus, and cucumber -- add a few slices of fresh avocado and some tomato slices and it's even better.

I've also put this hummus on burgers, and that is quite good as well.

And of course, you can't go wrong with good old pita bread.

Comments welcome.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Perfect Cup of Coffee

People are always asking me how I make such great coffee (ok, well actually almost no one asks me that -- maybe not anyone... ever). But still, I make the best coffee (and that's not gossip, it's fact).

Note: You can see a demonstration video of the techniques outlined in this blog entry here.

And I'm here to pass my wealth of coffee information on to you, but before we get started, we need to lay some ground rules, so here goes.
  1. Always starts with fresh, whole-bean coffee. If your coffee is pre-ground, from one of those tin cans, it's stale before you open it. Don't bother.
  2. Use only cold, clean, filtered water (doesn't have to be bottled, brita or pur filtered is fine).
  3. Use high-quality filters (#4 filters, or a gold-mesh filter).
  4. Do not pre-grind your coffee. Grind just before brewing.
  5. Have a spray bottle handy, filled with water.
  6. Always use the following ratio of coffee : water (and never deviate from it). Use 2 level tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces of water.
  7. Store your coffee beans in air-tight canasters (not in the fridge, though the freezer is acceptable for long-term storage if you use freezer bags and store away from strong-smelling foods).
  8. And finally, don't measure water using your coffee carafe. Use a real liquid measuring cup.
It might sound like a lot of rules (and a lot of work), but once you've gotten the routine down, you can get a pot of coffee brewing in about 5 - 7 minutes.

Now that we've gotten the rules out of the way, here's a step-by-step guide on how to make that perfect pot of coffee.
  1. Measure the coffee: For each cup of coffee you want to make, measure one coffee scoop of beans and add them to your grinder. Some people recommend a heaping scoop when you're measuring beans as opposed to grounds. You can do this if you want, but I tend not to worry too much about it.

    NOTE: A coffee scoop is (officially) two tablespoons. I actually recommend buying a coffee scoop (one of the stainless steel ones with a really long handle), but as long as you get two tablespoons, that's the key.

  2. Grind the beans: Grinding time will vary depending on how much coffee you're grinding. Generally speaking, you want the coffee as fine as you can grind it without it actually going through your filter (if you're using a gold mesh filter, or #4 paper filters, you can grind it pretty fine without a problem).

  3. Add the freshly ground coffee to the pot (this part is easy).

  4. Measure the water: Remember, use 6oz of filtered water per 2 tablespoons (1 coffee scoop) of coffee. Always measure with a liquid measuring cup. Don't bother trying to use the markings on the coffee pot or the coffee carafe.

    NOTE: Some of you might be thinking that this ratio is going to create coffee that's like mud, and you might be tempted to try less coffee b/c you "don't like strong coffee." Believe me, it isn't strong coffee that you don't like. It's bitter coffee. And bitter coffee comes from two things: 1) Stale coffee, and 2) Using too LITTLE COFFEE!

    If you don't use enough coffee, you'll actually over-extract the coffee grinds, and this leads to bitter tasting coffee. Please, use 2 tablespoons per 6oz of water (it's what all your major coffee shops are using -- some use even more!).

  5. Add the water (this part is easy).

  6. Spritz the coffee grinds with water using your spray bottle. This is a tip I learned from Alton Brown, and it totally makes a difference. By making sure that the coffee grounds are pre-soaked, it helps ensure that the water stream doesn't go right through the grounds, but rather soaks into them evenly.

  7. Turn on the coffee pot (this part is easy).

  8. When the coffee is done brewing, I recommend turning off the coffee pot immediately or within 10 minutes or so. You don't want the coffee to continue cooking. It will burn and you will taste it (ever had Starbucks?). I recommend a thermal carafe. That way you can turn the pot off immediately and let the carafe keep the coffee warm without cooking it.

  9. Add cream if you want (I recommend only real half-n-half and the color of your coffee should be about one shade lighter than a brown paper bag). I discourage sugar, but hey... it's your coffee.

  10. Say a prayer (yes, even for coffee). Drink and enjoy.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

I wish I had a wonderful turkey recipe to post for everyone this Thanksgiving, but unfortunatley I don't. Since we just moved from Baltimore to Seattle, I'm completely out of my element. I don't have my pots and pans, I don't have my spices... I don't have my KOSHER SALT! You really can't cook anything well without kosher salt.

So this Thanksgiving, Em and I took the easy way out. We went to the local grocery store and bought a bunch of pre-seasoned, pre-packaged Thanksgiving Day type items (stuffing, potatoes, turkey, etc).

So that's really all I've got to say for today. It's a shame; Thanksgiving is such a food-centric day. It had potential to make for a great blog entry if only the timing were a bit better for me. Oh well.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Well... it's been far too long since I've posted, but I figure this is worth it (even if it isn't about cooking).

I got a job with Microsoft, and Emily and I will be moving out to Seattle in three weeks!

This is part of the reason that my blog as been so neglected. I was spending an awful lot of my free studying for the interviews.

But now that that's over with, I'm hopful that I will once again be able to start blogging new and exciting recipes for everyone. My goal this time around is to do a blog post at "reasonable" intervals -- something like once per week.

I'm also planning to start a technical blog, and I will of course post the address of that one, on this one, once it's ready to go (but I'm not sure exactly when that will be).

Ok, that's all for now.
Pray for our flights!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Wonder Slacks

I'm going to buy "World Famous Black-Elastic Wonder Slacks"