Kaddo Bourani (Afghani Pumpkin w/Yogurt & Beef Sauce)

This dish is a change from the norm, but ’tis the season to show off pumpkins. Today’s dish is kaddo bourani, which originates in Afghanistan.

Kaddo Bourani (Afghani Pumpkin w/Yogurt & Beef Sauce)

Now I’m going to guess that you’re in one of two crowds in your reaction to this dish: (1) I’ve never had Afghani food before and have absolutely no idea what its like or (2) I’ve had Afghani food before from some amazing restaurant called Helmand and they had something just like this!

Well to the number oners, Afghani food is really tasty. My impression of it is sort of like Indian food as far as flavor and style goes, but “drier” (compared to the more stew-like curries that we all know and love). Definitely worth trying if the opportunity ever presents itself. To the number two folks out there, my first (and sadly only) exposure to Afghani food was at Helmand in the Boston area, and yes,… click to read more…

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Acorn Squash Stuffed with Beef

Along with the pumpkins, October rings in a great variety of squash. Acorn squash is a fun one to work with, providing you with a rich, orange-colored, naturally sweet bowl that is ideal for stuffing with something savory. You’ll find a really wide range of interesting fillings out there–apples, nuts, rice, meats–all sorts of things. No matter what the filling though, they all have one thing in common: they showcase the tender texture and the sweetness of the squash.

Acorn squash stuffed with beef

In this case, I’ve stuffed my squash with a ground beef mixture which has Mexican flavors akin to a milder mole sauce that is tilted less towards spicy and more towards sweet and savory so as to enhance the sweetness of the squash. There’s a lot of savory spices and a small amount of heat, but a lot of the major players in this mixture work towards having a fuller profile of sweetness:… click to read more…

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Tamale Pie

Tamale Pie is a great dish with a weird name. I almost hate calling it by that name because it doesn’t sound appetizing and the name is so uninformative–its not a pie and has absolutely nothing tamale-like about it. Its sort of a tex-mex flavored casserole held together with ground beef, cornbread, and a salsa-like mixture. Its crumbly like cornbread, moist, and zesty. And for something tex-mex, its very comfort-foodish.

Serving of tamale pie w/avocado and sour cream

I was inspired by the version of tamale pie from Simply Recipes and was surprised to learn that this is actually a commonplace dish. Prepare yourself for some really heavy news: I never encountered tamale pie growing up.

For me, this dish is nice because you can easily make it from a lot of fresh ingredients or substitute in some pre-made components with ease. I try to strike a middle ground, keeping it full of… click to read more…

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Michael Burgers!

This is what started it all. The one thing that I got good at before I could really cook.

For me, cooking started as a college-time exploration of marinate it in some storebought sauce, throw it (and all of the sauce) on the George Foreman grill, and then see what happens–yikes! But this dish wasn’t in that category: burgers. They were easy to prepare, cheap, and fed a crowd with ease. And what a crowd-pleaser! People asked for these–and not “hey, could you make burgers?” but “hey, I could really go for some Michael Burgers!” This made it seem like I was on to something…

Burger time

I’m going to wax philosophical here, but I think a big part of it is simply that people have really grown accustomed to flavorless, flat, dull burgers with a slice of (to quote Gordon Ramsay) plastic cheese on top. Nobody really expects anything from a burger, so this is a dish where you can… click to read more…

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Red wine reduction mushroom steak sauce

I wish I had a more elegant sounding name for this sauce since the grocery-list style name seems pretty blah to me.

When it comes to steak, everybody has an opinion about how to prepare, what should go with it, and so on. I tend to appreciate a thoughtfully prepared sauce with my steak (mmm, bernaise) and I think that this one fits the bill. Flavor-wise, this sauce is rich, dark, earthy, and kind of heavy on the mouth, but it really stands up well with a good steak.

  • 1.25-1.5 cups of a full-bodied, dry red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz is preferable–something nicer than cooking wine, but nothing too fancy/expensive)
  • 4-6 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 shallots/chives (the greens, not the bulb)
  • a handful of coarsely chopped baby bella (or some other small kind) mushrooms
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
  • a pinch of flour

recommended, but optional:

  • italian flat-leaf parsely
  • basil/tarragon
  • oregano

Finely… click to read more…

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