Jeanette - Off The Cuff

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Blogger at: and -- My name is Jeanette, and I was born in Sweden, but unlike the famous Muppet, I am not a professional Swedish Chef. I actually studied design and photography. I also was a freelance indie-rock critic for several magazines from 1998-2005, and had an in-house PR company for a while. Cooking is in my DNA--my dad's brother was a chef and their father was a pastry chef, my mom's mother was a caterer, who published a cookbook of traditional Finnish breads and pastries when she was 92. Everyone else in my family loves to cook, and we're not afraid to experiment. I have a yen for interior design and remodeling.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Meredith's Meatball Phở

Once upon a time in 1984, when my family moved to the United States, I was a little girl, and our neighbors became good friends with my parents. They had a daughter that was the same age as me, and we became fast friends. We roller skated in her garage, to the Pointer Sisters, Wham! and Prince, and swam in the lake, and caught sunfish and left them to "dry" on the pontoon, where we forgot them for several days, and then decided to toss them back in the lake. Who knew that sun-dried sunfish were buoyant? They floated to shore and bobbed in the waves.

As a child of the 80s, it's also worth noting, that my dear friend got me my very own  Cabbage Patch doll for my birthday. And for one glorious week in the summer, our two families rented a full sized motor home and vacationed together all over Minnesota and Wisconsin, hitting up all the mini golf courses, RV parks, water theme parks, and camp sites. These are those lingering sweet memories of my youth.  Anyway, we moved many times, time passed, and we did -- as kids did in those days -- stay in touch via regular letter writing. Thanks to modern times, internet, and social media, we are now still able to exchange photos and updates with far more frequency than we did the last few years.  And since I'm a newbie mom with little to no time to blog about recipes, I asked her to share a guest post with me that she had written about on Facebook.

She had me at "Phở" ... This Vietnamese savory soup is easily one of my favorites! (Note: I may add more photos when I get a chance to make this myself. )

So here it is:

Meredith's Meatball Phở

1 lb. Ground pork
1 cup water chestnuts, small dice; divided.
1/2 cup soy sauce; divided
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 tsp. Fresh ginger puree; divided
1 tsp. Fresh garlic puree; divided
1Tbsp. Dark sesame oil
2 quarts chicken stock
1 package rice noodles (fresh preferred)
1 cup asparagus chopped into 1" pieces
1 cup oyster mushrooms, cleaned and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 head bok choy, sliced
1 cup snow peas, halved
1 bunch green onions, chopped; divided
1 bunch pea shoots (or bean sprouts)
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Fresh lime (optional)

For meatballs:
Place ground pork, half of the pureed ginger, garlic, water chestnuts and soy sauce in a bowl. Mix well with your hands, and roll into approximately one and a half inch meatballs. (Should make about 24). Place on baking sheet and bake in 350° oven for 20-25 minutes.

For soup:
In a large pot on medium low heat,  combine stock, remaining ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Add fish sauce and bring to a simmer. Add in snow peas and asparagus and simmer for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, bok choy, some green onions and noodles. Cook until noodles are soft.

When ready to serve, add meatballs and garnish as you like.

This is ALWAYS a hit in our house no matter what fresh ingredients I use!

Friday, June 26, 2015


Raspberry Ginger Kombucha on the rocks
Kombucha. Odds are that if you live outside of the West Coast, you've probably never heard of, let alone tried, this stuff. It's a very hippie-dippy sort of beverage, that people seem to take very seriously around here. The finished product that you drink from a glass is essentially a mildly carbonated chilled (fermented) tea, that is full of probiotics, which is gut-flora heaven, I've been told.  Kombucha followers are not but slightly cult-y, but that's kind of charming too. We all want you to join us. Join us... Join us... Where was I?

Oh yeah, the process of making it involves a big ol' floating fungus in a jar, and it looks a bit like a science experiment gone awry.  But if you can get over the initial shock factor of the process, and take a non-biased sip you'll probably find it quite delicious. Depending on the kind of tea and additional flavors you are inclined to add, it can taste like all sorts of delicious fruits, berries, and herbs (ginger is very common), but in general, it has a mild acidity, like a glass of white wine, perhaps, but only 1% alcohol  -- if that -- and it's a little bit fizzy like a soda, so you could drink it any time of day (although it does have some caffeine, like tea does, so if you're sensitive, you should not drink it later in the day.)

The pronunciation, in case you are still stuck on that, is "Kohm-BOO-cha," and many aficionados refer to it as "Booch" for short, which is a nod back to home distilled "Hooch" during prohibition days. I first heard of Kombucha a couple of years ago, when I saw it in the health food aisle at a local store, and I first tried it about a year back at a friend's house. She had a locally made brand, and it was light in color, like champagne, almost, and fizzy, and citrus-y, and delicious. Store-bought kombucha can be upwards of $6-10 a bottle, so if you are the least bit kitchen-savvy, you can save lots of money by making it at home.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Turkey Chili

This chili came together a month or two ago, but I made it again 2 more times, and it's always yummy, so I figured I should blog it for my fateful... uh... I mean, Faithful followers.

This one is on the milder, savory side. You could definitely pack some heat into the mix by increasing spices or adding some hot sauce or jalapenos but I liked how it was really tasty, and could be kid friendly as well, if that's a concern to anyone.

So... as pictured here below, the contents are pretty simple.


1 package ground turkey
1 cup cooked rice
1 can kidney beans *(or try other beans, instead of kidney / black)
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 can tomato paste (Cont'd below)

1/2 yellow or white onion, finely diced
1 tsp Oregano (more to taste)
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp Chili Molido Powder
1 whole chipotle pepper

(Optional, 1/2 tsp cayenne powder, to make it spicier)


Begin by dicing up the half onion, into small pieces,  and then add a bit of butter or vegetable oil to the bottom of a large soup pot or cast iron Dutch Oven, over medium heat. Add onions, and sautee, stirring often until translucent or slightly caramelized.

Turn up heat to medium high, and add in ground turkey. Break it up frequently with a spatula or spoon to brown it evenly.  When it is cooked through, pour in spices and seasonings, and add all the canned ingredients. Let this simmer for at least a half hour or more.

Serve to your liking, with shredded cheese, corn muffins, sour cream, chopped onions,  or other toppings like hot sauce, jalapenos, or chives.

For more chili of my chili recipes, check out these options, Sweet potato chili and Black Bean Chili with Cilantro.

Until next time!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pistachio Cedar Planked Salmon, and Salmon Leek Chowder

Here are two easy and salmon recipes I made yesterday and today, all from one four-pound $20 whole salmon. If you can learn to fillet and debone your own fish, you can save so much money on seafood dishes. So here is Pistachio Crusted Cedar-Plank Salmon, and Salmon Leek Chowder.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Orange-Raspberry Pots De Creme

I've been making this recipe for a year or two ever since I first saw it on The Pioneer Woman's website. The beauty of it is that it only takes a few minutes to prepare. And you do it ALL in the blender. You could make this with as few as 4 ingredients, or add a few extras for oomph. It looks super fancy, and tastes so rich and decadent that you could easily fool your guests into thinking that it has taken hours of cooking over a hot stove.

I made a few tweaks to the original recipe, just to switch up the flavor profile a bit. Other than that, all credit goes to the inspirational and beautiful Ree Drummond!


12 oz chocolate chips
4 eggs
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup piping hot strong coffee * (see my suggestions)
1 cup frozen or fresh raspberries
Zest from 1 orange
1 tbsp Triple Sec (I used DeKuypers, but if you're fancy, by all means get the Cointreau or something.)

Whipped Cream for topping.


First brew about 1-2 cups of coffee -- very strong.

I would suggest using double the normal quantity of coffee grounds to what you normally use, to assure a really concentrated flavor.  Personally, I made my coffee as Pour-Over (which, for the uninitiated, is exactly what it sounds like: A method of manually pouring hot water through a coffee filter in a cone straight into a measuring cup.) For my pour-over, I used about 3 tablespoons of coffee beans, to 1.5 cups of boiling water (assuming that almost half the water will get trapped into the ground coffee).

To really extract the flavors, I actually ran the coffee through the same grounds 2 more times. I'm sure there are baristas that would faint from reading that, but I'm just keeping it real!

Get your blender set up and have all your ingredients ready.

Distribute the raspberries evenly into the bottoms of ramekins, small demitasse coffee cups, or mini Mason jars. 

Next crack the eggs into the bottom of the blender, add the chocolate chips, liqueur, and salt.

Zest an entire orange and add the zest into the mixture.

Run blender on high, until there is a pudding-like texture.  While that's happening, microwave your coffee for a minute again to make sure it's super hot. It has to be hot enough to set the egg-proteins up like a custard. Pour the coffee into the blender, and run it on high again to mix in the coffee, and then immediately pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins or jars. Let it set up in the fridge for at least 2-4 hours before serving.

Top with whipped cream, some raspberries, and/or orange rind for a nice garnish. And pace yourself. You'll want to eat it all really fast, but also want to savor each bite.

Ideas that could be swapped for the orange/ raspberry combo, would be to use mint extract, Kahlua, vanilla extract, or a shot or two of spiced rum just to take this in a different direction.   Or use white chocolate chips and instead of coffee, try using very hot, double-strength Earl Grey tea and lemon zest. Lots of variations that might be fun to experiment with.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Anyone remember David Cross singing "Chicken-pot, chicken-pot, chicken-pot-piiiiiie" on "Just Shoot Me" ...? It's kind of an obscure reference, but it makes me laugh every time I think of it.

Now then, some disclaimers.

1. I'm a pretty decent cook, but I'm a mess when it comes to pie crust. This one actually turned out quite okay taste and texture wise, but it was hard to roll out and kept splitting apart. Nine out of ten times, I get a store-bought rolled pie crust for my quiches and pies, because well, it's $4 toward me not having a meltdown in the kitchen. Trader Joe's has a good one that I like which is not full of weird synthetic ingredients. However, I was not at TJ's yesterday so instead I opted to make my own crust, and I used the recipe in this book Good Kitchen Magic which I think should make a good crust in theory. My trouble is that I don't usually get the dough to bind together with the first 2 tablespoons of water as they say. Sometimes even the 3rd tablespoon of water doesn't do the trick so maybe I'm using too much flour. Who knows. Either way, I won't chide you for using a store-bought crust, because I do it all the time myself.

2. This is NOT a quick meal. It can be made significantly faster with a few shortcuts, which I'll put in parentheses next to directions or ingredients. Of course, as with any of my recipes, alterations are often necessary.

3. Even though I know my way around a DSLR, it is January in the Pacific Northwest, and rather gray, and I have no window light in my kitchen, and it was dark outside anyway, so I have done my best to get some good photos with my tripod and bounced light.

4. Because of the multiple steps and ingredients, read this all the way through before starting the recipe so you see the way I split up my directions and ingredients.

5. This recipe can make two 6-inch pies, (I made my pies in cast-iron skillets) or one larger 9-inch pie either in a skillet or in a glass pie dish, so you'll divide up your dough and filling accordingly. 

Thus, I present you with Chicken-Bacon-Pot-Pie.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Garlic & Pink Peppercorn Butterflied chicken with Pan Gravy

Woopity-doo!! I'm posting a recipe! I think some of you will find this one worth the wait, at least in terms of the gruesomeness of the step-by-step photographs. I have been hoping to do a photo-journalistic instruction on how to butterfly a chicken (a trick I only learned myself last year) but it's so useful for doing whole birds.  Bonus: It was a reasonably sunny afternoon (which meant BETTER PHOTOS!!) And Bonus #2: I wrangled my husband into manning the camera and tripod I didn't have to wash my raw-chicken hands every 3 seconds, set the camera timer. That would have been tedious, and impractical. So thank you, dear for making this infinitely easier. Good job on the pics, too!

Anyway, back to the bird at hand.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Red Curry Barramundi

Barramundi! Barramundi!! That's fun to say. (I feel like Will Ferrell in "Elf" when he keeps repeating "Frrrrancisssco!! That's fun to say!" Speaking of which, Christmas is less than 5 months away. Wow. And I have not posted a recipe since March. My sincere apologies, but I doubt if any of you feel bereft.)

Anyway. Barramundi! I had never heard of this relative of the Sea Bass (which reminds me of the "Kick his @, SeaBass" line from "Dumb and Dumber" ... okay, I'll stop with the movie quotes.)

So sea bass... Barramundi. I do have a point. I had never heard of this fish before, but saw frozen fillets at CostCo recently and thought I'd take a crack at incorporating it into my seafood rotations.  It's a mild, flaky, white fish, and it's considered a sustainable seafood variety. The fillets defrost quite fast in a bowl of cold water, and cook easily since they're evenly thick.

I've tried a few different twists on using it in Fish Tacos (I'll blog that some other night) and then last night I was jonesing for Red Curry, so I thought rather than chicken or pork, I'd put fish in it.  I had a few garden-fresh veggies from my yard, and incorporated some green onions, yellow zucchini, sugar snap peas, and then a few other things from my refrigerator. 

This is the link to the company that markets Barramundi: The Better Fish

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Basil Mozzarella & Pistachio Mushrooms

I hastily made these little appetizers for a party last night. I have made other mushroom cap hors d' oeuvres before, usually with garlic, parmesan, parsley, or some similar combination. But last night I was trying to figure out what I had on hand, and this was the end result.  Took about 10 minutes to make them, not including the oven-time.

And since I -- as par for the course -- have not posted a new recipe for 2 months, this was a quick one to upload for you to try out.

The measurements are approximate, since I was in a hurry and did not write anything down.

I also only have one photo from the end result, so you can use your imagination for the rest.  (PS. In the photo I intentionally left off some of the pistachios for a friend with nut allergies.)

Baby Portabella mushrooms (approximately 24-36 depending on the size)
1/4 lb mozzarella (I used firm kind, instead of "fresh" so it wouldn't be as runny when melted)
1 stalk of green onion, or equivalent amount of chives
2 or 3 fresh basil leaves
1 or 2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup of shelled roasted pistachios


Begin by snapping off the stems on the baby portabella mushrooms carefully so that they leave a little cup to stuff.  If the stem breaks too much, you can scoop it out with a teaspoon carefully to hollow it out. Brush off any loose dirt with a paper towel, or pastry brush. 

Trim off the root end and wilted green tops on the green onion stalk, and cut it into smaller discs.

Use a blender or mixer to puree together the cheese, basil and green onion with the olive oil. Use a teaspoon to scoop cheese mixture into each mushroom cap, and top with a couple of pistachio nuts.

Roast in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minute until cheese is bubbly and hot.  They are good served warm, but also quite tasty even at room temperature.  They are really easy to make, and pretty fancy-tasting.  The basil makes a nice bright flavor contrast to the umami earthiness of the mushrooms, cheese & pistachios.  Try experimenting with other herbs if you'd like-- sage, oregano, or rosemary, used in moderation so as not to be too bitter.  Remember a little goes a long way.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Smoked Salmon Pasta a la Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo-- star of the silver screen, one of the most iconic faces of the Golden Era of Hollywood, well known for her roles in Anna Karenina and Camille -- was also famously Swedish, which means she shared her heritage with yours truly.  Okay, so we're not related that I know of, but we do have that DNA overlap.  Allegedly, this is her favorite pasta-dish, culled from one of my mom's Swedish cooking magazines, and I would like to imagine that on those days when she "Vanted to be alooone" she curled up in a cozy wool blanket with a big bowl of this stuff. 

This is another one of those stand-by dishes my mother has made since I was a little girl, and in fact, here is the original recipe that Dad scanned for me from Mom's cut-out recipes in a binder.  It is really quite quick to make, and something like elegant comfort food!

The heading there says "Celebrities' favorite recipes".  Even if you have no idea who this mega-star of the 1930s was, make this dish, and pour up a glass of crisp white wine...


1/2 lb smoked salmon, cut into small chunks -- (Also, please note that the type of smoked salmon that I use is the "hot smoked" salmon that is more firm, and crumbly, and still has skin on that needs to be peeled off.  The cold-smoked salmon that still looks more like Lox and still can be sliced into thin strips is not the kind I would recommend in this recipe.)
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
2-4 ripe, red tomatoes, such as plum, Campari or Roma (or one can diced tomatoes)
2 tbsp fresh parsley, (you could also use basil or oregano to sprinkle)

Pasta -- enough for four servings, preferably a thick toothy kind, like linguine, tagliatelle, pappardelle, or fettucine


Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for a few seconds until skins split.  Set aside and cool to touch, and then peel off the skins. 

Cut up salmon and tomatoes, and mince garlic.  Start with one clove, add more if desired....

Heat the oil in a skillet or sauce pan at medium, and then stir in tomatoes, garlic and salmon.  Stir over medium heat for a minute or so to heat through, and then pour in cream.  Reduce heat, and let simmer, while pasta is cooking. 

Drain pasta, drizzle with more olive oil, if desired, and ladle into bowls, and top with salmon-sauce.   Sprinkle with grated parmesan if desired, and sprinkle on fresh parsley (or basil or oregano.)