Sunday, March 25, 2017: Dinner No. 82: Simple Salmon & Cous Cous; Crumb Cake for Dessert
Mar 29th, 2017 by Katekoster

Tonight I wanted to try cooking something new so I decided to make roasted salmon.  I served it with some dishes I have made before so I didn’t have to worry about too many new things.  Those side dishes were couscous, broccoli, and kale salad.  Max made a delicious crumb coffee cake for dessert (see below)


The salmon was suprisingly easy: I cut it into four or five pieces, put it in a pan skin side on the bottom, drizzled it with olive oil and salt and pepper and then put in the oven at high heat for 10 – 15 minutes.  I rotated the  pan once but didn’t flip the pieces, because then the skin would be on top.

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The broccoli was just simply steamed and the kale salad was a mix of kale, shredded brussel sprouts, pecorino cheese and chopped almonds. (Mom loves it).


Coffee Cake Crumble

For dessert, I (Max) wanted to make one of my favorite New York treats.  It’s a coffee cake with a crumble topping (sometimes called crumb).  We did a search of recipes online and cam eup with this one:


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsps ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 package (2-layer size) white cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

First we preheated the oven to 350°F.  Then we mixed the flour, sugars and cinnamon in large bowl and cut in the cold butter with our pastry blender (you can use 2 knives if you don’t have a pastry blender) until the mixture resembled coarse crumbs.

Then we beat the cake mix, egg, sour cream, melted butter and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute or just until mixed.

Then we spread the batter in an evenly greased and floured 13×9-inch baking pan. Then we sprinkled it evenly with our cinnamon-sugar-butter topping mixture.


We baked it 30 to 35 minutes or until the cake pulled away from sides of pan. We also tested it with a sharp knife. Then we cooled it on a wire rack. Then you can cut into squares to serve.


We really loved the crumb topping on this but we are going to work on the cake.  (We followed the recipe and use a cake mix but next time we are going to make everything from scratch. The cake wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t as dense and moist as we expected it to be.)

Thursday, March 23, 2017: Filet Mignon Taste Test
Mar 24th, 2017 by Katekoster

For Alex’s birthday, we cooked, among other things, filet mignon.  But mom ended up by filet mignon from 3 different stores (first she bought too little at the first store, then she thought she had enough when she bought it at the second store, but then remembered how much we love filet mignon so went to a third store to get a little bit more).  At each store she paid a different amount per pound for the filet mignon.  At the first place, she spent $42.99 per pound.  By the way, she didn’t mean to spend that much: she thought it was much less expensive because the price was displayed by the serving size not by the pound…it said $12.90 for 1 so she thought it was $12.90 for 1 pound. Man was she mad when she got home and there was only 1 little piece of steak (1 serving and it had cost $13!!!)  At the second store she paid $29.99 per pound (still too expensive, Mom said, but a bargain compared to the first store plus it was for Alex birthday).  And finally at the third store she paid $8.99 per pound.  Anyway, since we had filet mignon from 3 different stores, at 3 different prices, we decided to do a taste test.  Neither of us knew which filet was the most or least or middle expensive.

Here’s what they looked like beforehand:


We later learned that going counter clockwise from the top, the two small ones were the most expensive ($42.99/pound), then the next 3 small ones were medium expensive ($29.99/pound) and the finally the two largest ones were the least expensive ($8.99/pound)

And here is what they looked like plated, with mashed potatoes:

(Mom cut pieces from each sample and put them in the same order as they were before they were cooked).  The results were:

Max- All the steaks tasted amazing. The only difference for me was the toughness of the cut. The larger the steak, the tougher the cut, which is why I liked the smallest steak the best and the medium one second, and why the biggest ranked third. Later I found out that the smallest was the most expensive, the medium size was less expensive and the biggest piece was the least expensive.

Alex – I agree that all the steaks tasted great but I liked the medium sized (medium priced) steak the best.  The smallest one (most expensive) tasted good but was very soft. The big piece (least expensive) actually tasted better than the smaller one but was definitely the chewiest.

So one conclusion about filet mignon: the less you pay, the more you chew!

PS: here’s Alex’s birthday cake:


Friday March 17, 2017: Dinner No. 81: Shepherd’s Pie
Mar 20th, 2017 by Katekoster

Tonight I (Max) decided to make shepherd’s pie with ground lamb.  It seemed a good Irish recipe to make on St. Patrick’s Day.  Essentially its ground lamb and vegetables topped with mashed potatoes.  What better combination?  The recipe is pretty simple but there is a fair amount of peeling and chopping.

First you start the mashed potatoes (peel 1- 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, chop, put in pan with water and bring to a boil.) Note: try to use yukon gold potatoes if you can.

While the potatoes are cooking, preheat oven to 400 degrees  and make the meat filling; here are the ingredients:

  1. 1 cup chopped onion
  2. 2 carrots peeled & chopped small
  3. 2 cloves garlic, chopped small
  4. 1- 1./2 pounds ground lamb*
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  7. 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  8. 1 cup chicken broth or wine (we used wine)
  9. 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
  10. 2 teaspoons chopped thyme

Sautee the onion and carrots in olive oil until they start to soften, add the garlic and stir well. Then add ground lamb and salt & pepper.  Cook till meat is cooked through and browned.


Then add the tomato paste, broth (or wine) and herbs.  Bring to boil and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

When potatoes are tender, drain and add 1/4 cup cream and 3 oz. unsalted butter.  Salt and pepper to taste (as if you were going to eat them straight).**


Finally, spoon the lamb mix intion a 11 x 7 pan, top with mashed potatoes and bake for 20 -25 minutes until potatoes begin to brown.


If you like you can add 1 cup of peas to the lamb mix before you put it in the dish.  We prefer our peas on the side (and some of us prefer no peas at all:).

*In our portions, everyone agreed that more lamb was needed with the large amount of mashed potatoes in the dish. We recomend adding at least another 1/2 pound of ground lamb.

**The potatoes were quite plain. Without Yukon Gold Potatoes, large amounts of salts are neccessary.

For dessert we had an improvised “dobosh torte”.  We accidentally bought a plain pound cake (it was labelled pumpkin bread but once we tasted it we realized it was mislabeled).  My mom remembered that her mom had told her a trick for making a fast “fancy” torte.  You slice a store-bought pound cake horizontally and then you make a quick frosting of melted chocolate chips and butter and spread it between the horizontal layers and on top.  We tried it and it tasted really good.  It wasn’t the prettiest cake we have ever made but it still tasted good and was definitely better than plain old pound cake.

Chocolatecoveredpoundcake    Chocolatecoveredpoundcake1






Saturday, March 11, 2017: Dinner No. 80: Dessert First! With Rack of Lamb, Mashed Potatoes & Roasted Veggies.
Mar 12th, 2017 by Katekoster

Alex is making dinner so I (Max) made dessert before hand, and I so want to eat it now.  I made a Bouche Noel (yes I know it’s not Christmas, but we didn’t make this at Christmas and I have been craving it ever since). It is actually pretty simple: 1) make vanilla sponge cake; 2) let cool; 3) make chocolate butter frosting; 4) frost cake and use fork to make frosting look like bark and 5) EAT! The only problem is that I have to wait to eat it until after dinner. Here is the final product…can’t wait to try it!

20170311_174436(0)  yuletide log

And here are the steps for making the yuletide log.

  1. separate 4 eggs
  2. beat egg whites with sugar
  3. whisk egg yolks with vanilla
  4. gently incorporate yolks into beaten egg whites
  5. mix flour/salt/corn starch together
  6. sprinkle flour mix on top of egg mix and fold
  7. bake, let cool and frost.
  8. the frosting recipe is secret (but has a lot of butter!)

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So I (Alex) was in charge of the rest of dinner (dessert was pretty amazing, I have to say:) but my lamb was pretty good too!


For the rack of lamb, I (Alex) first made a simple marinade of chopped garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and olive oil.  I let the lamb marinade in that for 2 hours. Then I covered the bones with aluminum foil and cooked them at high heat (400 degrees) for about 10 minutes, and then 300 degrees for another 10 minutes.  Then I let them rest for 10 minutes.

20170311_175906   20170311_195535   rackoflamb

For the mashed potatoes, mom and I peeled a bunch of yukon gold potatoes, boiled them and then mashed them with LOTS of butter.  They were delicious!

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Finally for the roasted vegetables, I cleaned and quartered brussel sprouts and asparagus and drizzled them with olive oil and salt and pepper.  I roasted them before I cooked the lamb and then just heated them up again right before serving.

20170311_191635  roastedveggies

Sunday, March 5, 2017: Dinner No.79: Kale Salad, Skirt Steak and Baked Potatoes
Mar 6th, 2017 by Katekoster

We cooked skirt steak again tonight because we are working on perfecting our spice rub for it.  (Last time we made it, we didn’t have paprika, which resulted in the rub being very salty).  This time we got it just right and it was delicious.  We also made a huge kale salad (with almonds, pecorino cheese and a mustard dijon dressing).  Then on the side we had baked potatoes and green peas.  For dessert, home-made oatmeal raising cookies.  It was a simple, but delicious meal.

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For the skirt steak, always check the steak to make sure there’s not clear membrane on it; if there is try to remove it.  Then we let is marinade in a dry rub for at least 2 hours.

Our dry rub marinade is as follows: 1/4 cup garlic powder, 1/4 cup onion powder, 1/4 cup paprika, and 2 teaspoons table salt.  If you want it a little more spice, add 2 tablespoons of ancho chile powder.  Rub in into both sides of the steak, cover with plastic and let sit for 2-4 hours.  Cook steaks on high heat 2-3 minutes per side.


The salad is also pretty easy but you do have to chop a lot: the kale is better if its chopped up pretty small, and then you have to chop the almonds up and grate the cheese.  You can also add shredded brussel sprouts but we didn’t have any.  Just make sure your knives are sharp.

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