Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Grampa Shop

I was quite looking forward to Friday night, as we were invited over to WA and EY's for dinner.  WA lives in N. Liberties, in a cute house with lots of character, and is the wonderful location and shooting location for Grampa Shop. Let's just say, there is a Caribou in the dining room. On the floor. Staring up at the antelope on the wall.  (Ok... the whole house isn't taxidermy, that's it. But, it just was impressive, to be honest.) The backyard was set-up was divine-- small lights and candles lit the patio and the table with a very romantic glow.  The vines and potted plants, and the rustic collection of items around, added a very European flair to the space.

I must fast-forward to the food!  After indulging in some wine as other guests arrived, the first course was served with a sparkling RED that I have to mention now so I don't forget. The wine was a gift to Wayne from his brother, a 2009 Francesco Vezzelli Lambrusco Graparoosa di Castelvetro "Rive dei Ciliegi" from Moore Brothers.  It was the most unique sparkling I've ever had, and I look forward to the next trip to MB for a bottle (and it seems to be $16)!

The food was definitely something to write about.  The first course included lightly fried calamari, squid, little fish, scallops, shrimp, and probably other sea creatures that I don't remember but were marvelous! A nice homemade aioili to accompany.

The main course was a snapper WA grilled up-- the grill is a converted fireplace from a skeleton of an old carriage house at the back of his yard.  The fish was intended to be added to rice papers, diced veggies and herbs, and a great little vinaigrette.  I certainly got better at rolling by wrap number two, but it was tasty.  Then, we all noticed the sliced steak on the table too- and I added that to my second, or was it third, wrap.

The wine kept following and we all chatted about things from flower arrangements to movies that I've never heard, let along seen.  Then it was time for dessert, diced summer fruit and berries with vanilla ice cream. Perfect end to the evening. At 1am.  

Thursday, July 29, 2010

the fresh grocer

Me in my bday apron cooking up burgers & corn!
I figured tonight's dinner was going to consist of many items from our CSA- courtesy of Wimer Organics. I already had the corn planned out, onion, and the watermelon half Casey brought to me at work today (we share the CSA and splitting it at the pick-up spot seemed too messy).

I also had some ground turkey in the freezer that i began to defrost.  Remembering, vaguely, that there was a burger recipe somewhere in the house, I began to dig through every cookbook.  And then, realized that it was in the Forklore cookbook from Fork Restaurant (where I used to work) had the best burger recipe--- and one that is true to the meat.  The recipe essentially says S&P the meat, add to grill.  I thought this version was perfect for the ground turkey, although it called for sirloin, since turkey tends to turn into mush if you handle it too much.  Knowing that turkey tends to dry out quickly, and I like a thoroughly cooked burger, I added some shredded cheese to the middle (ala Juicy Lucy- for those Minnesotians out there).  I added the burgers to a hot grill pan.

Meanwhile, I boiled water for the corn and started to slice the burger toppings (tomatoes, onion, pickles, basil) and the watermelon.  I laid the buns open in the grill pan to toast. After flipping, I added a slice of Swiss to melt.

Once the burgers were done and the buns toasty from the same pan, I added ketchup, mustard, and mayo to the bun, plopped on the burger and all the fixings.  They were like 5" high!  Buttered and S&Ped the corn.

Everything was super tasty.  Of course, JW freaked that the watermelon wasn't seedless (I mean, you can't have an organic seedless watermelon...), so I had to pick the seeds out for him.  I, however, enjoyed spitting them, hopefully keeping them on the plate. I ate almost 1/4 of the whole watermelon!
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Amanda Hesser, round 1

With Amanda's recipes still calling my name from last week's vacation, I decided tonight was finally the night for creamy lemon risotto.

Starting with butter, added the rice, browned, and then added some wine (my own twist).  Then, gradually added the chicken stock, with some lemon zest halfway through.  Finishing off the stock, I realized I added all the zest too soon, so I squeezed half a lemon into the pan.  In lieu of creme fraiche, I added some greek yogurt for the zing.  Also added some Parmesan cheese.

I bought the rice at the store, and low sodium chicken stock, but forget to think about a main course.  I thought about getting a fish, but forgot to go to the store on my way home.

Settled for canned salmon- made salmon cakes: salmon, egg, mayo, butter, chopped scallion and sage (CSA), S&P.  Oh man, I forgot the cracker/bread crumbs! guess we didnt need it.  Kneeded it with my hands, divided the bowl in fourths, and formed patties and added to a saute pan while the risotto finished.

I also made a nice salad from our CSA box- baby lettuces, red lettuce, cucumber, onion, cherry tomatoes (I cut a big one into pieces, I think JW was tricked into thinking it was a normal sized tomato- I'll spare you from what he thinks about cherry tomatoes. He's crazy.), and squeezed half a lemon over it- Ken's Lite Balsamic.

JW made me baggie up the risotto and salmon cake for tomorrow's lunch. I should have hidden it for myself...

Forgetful Chicken

This dish may be the exact reason why I need a blog.  I had made this dish before from "Not Your Mother's Weeknight Cooking," but I couldn't remember which marinaded chicken dish I loved and which was just ok- the Greek yogurt/Dijon or the sour cream.

I think it's the greek yogurt/dijon (Coq au vin in dijon yogurt sauce) that's just ok, and of course the one I made tonight; though this version was better than my first attempt.  Literally just yogurt, dijon, and tarragon (or fennel seeds and marjoram, in my case), S&P.  Add chicken and white wine to Pyrex, and layer the sauce on top- bake for 30 min under foil, take foil off and cook for 15 more.

It certainly makes for a moist chicken, but I end up knocking off any access sauce.  Oh well.  I'll maybe put on less sauce next time. If I remember... maybe I'll just make the sour cream marinade instead.

Monday, Monday, Monday

I just remember the broccoli.  And I think that is only because I ate it again last night.

What did we eat?!

seriously. I need to remember to take some ginkgo.

a little behind

So, I thought that with my new phone (it's supposed to be incredible, it's in the name!) maintaining a blog would be easy... easier. Obviously wrong.

Let's see if I can even differentiate between the meals in my head any longer... Yes- so Sunday brunch turned into eggs for lunch, as it was well past 1pm before I actually decided I was hungry.  Still not having been to the store, I fixed eggs over-easy (JW' choice over scrambled) with sauteed white and red potatoes (from the CSA) in olive oil with rosemary and lots of onion (CSA again!) and garlic, S&P.

Since I originally was going to make scrambled eggs with some diced zucchini, onion and garlic, I had a saute pan and a cutting board full.  So, I put the lid on and started to brainstorm for dinner.... while watching the series finale of The Hills...

Still refusing to go to the store, dinner was going to have to come from the freezer.  With a new app on my new phone, I searched Epicurious for something to do with sausages.  I settled for a recipe that featured beer poached Italian sausages that are then grilled.

What a fantastic way to prepare sausages!  I sliced up a few thin slices of the onion (from breakfast) and layered them in the bottom of my saute pan.  Having defrosted 6 hot Italian turkey sausages, I laid them on top of the onion.

In search for the ideal beer for poaching, I had to settle for our hodge-podge (though more elaborate than usual!)- Miller Lite ("obvi"), Brawler, Pacifico, Modelo especial, and Presidente.  After weighing the options of which beer would match the dish and which I'd prefer to drink, I opted for the Pacifico (though JW later told me I should have gone with the Presidente because there were two left).  I added 3/4 of the beer (and drank the rest) and added enough water to make sure the sausages were submerged.

While I poached the meat, I began to heat the grill pan, and laid the sliced zucchini around the edges.  I transfered the sausages to the grill pan, and drained the liquid off the onions and began to caramelize them.

Oh right, I totally forgot that I also made "Spicy sweet potato patties" (, as I had some mashed sweet potatoes (maybe they were yams) left over from dinner the night before.  I put them in a bowl, but it wasnt enough! So since the recipe called for shredded raw sweet potato, I found another yam in the fridge and added it to the bowl. I also shredded a portion of the same onion,  added in 2 eggs, cumin (maybe a little too much), and chili powder, S&P.  I made them into patties and sauteed them in a pan while the sausages cooked.

The meal was fantastic- really enjoyable.  I liked how the sausages plumped up- and the best part truly was still not having to go to the grocery store.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What started all this anyway?

So, after reading Amanda Hesser's novel "Cooking for Mr. Latte," a diary of the NYT food critic's life, I've been compelled to figure out if I have a cooking style.  Much like Amanda, I find myself having a hard time collecting all the recipes I love, and love to make, and thought that such a blog would allow me not only to create an electronic recipe book with my notes and nuances, but it would begin to help me understand a little bit more about the better cook I want to be.

However, this blog may be unnecessary before it starts.  In my first cooking endeavor after deciding on this brilliant idea, I already discovered and labeled my cooking "style."  I am resourceful, if nothing else.

Last night's dinner explains it.  After a week at the beach, there were obviously no fresh ingredients in the house.  Dinner, a thought that began at 9:30pm, was limited to canned goods.  The meal began as a choice between jarred pasta sauces: tomato based or alfredo. With JW preferring the tomato after a week of what seemed heavy on carbs and a day of Hardees cheeseburgers, I decided to spruce it up a little.

With whole wheat linguine boiling in the pot of salted water, I added frozen chopped spinach to a saute pan.  As it began to melt, I smashed and diced a garlic clove and added it to the pan with a drizzle of olive oil, S &P.  After a few minutes, I added half the jar of tomato sauce and a little Sav Blanc from the fridge.  As the pasta finished cooking, I scooped a portion of the pasta water and added it to the sauce, along with red pepper flakes and some V8 juice that was in the fridge, to help make it a little thinner.  Once the noodles were drained, I returned them to their pot, poured on the sauce and tossed.  After scooping the pasta into bowls, I added a generous dusting of Parmesan cheese.

It turned out to be exactly what I wanted to eat for dinner.  JW, of course, wanted more cheese.