Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Breakfast Staple


These are eggs from Jack's Hole--- my mom and brother's egg selling business.  You can't really tell, but that BIG one is a blue egg!  You also cant really tell how orange the yolks are!

This morning I made "omelets" and "hashbrowns."

I start by slicing up the potatoes- I had some small yellow and red potatoes from the CSA.  I slice in quarters and then cut into 1/8" chunks.  I add to a pan with olive oil and mashed garlic clove.  I turn on high and begin to brown, and turn down the heat.  I added fresh rosemary from the CSA and some salt and pepper.  I turn occasionally to get all sides cooked through. More like potato chunks rather than hashbrowns...

For the eggs, I add a touch of oil to the pan and mashed garlic.  I added in some diced onion, tomato, red and green peppers left over from the burritos, and threw in some fresh thyme.  I let it cook for just a minute while I cracked open four eggs, added a splash of water, s&p.  I whisked with a fork, and poured over the veggies.  I left it cook almost through and flipped it over, and laid some shredded cheese on top.  It's more like a egg and veggie pizza rather than omelets...


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Friday, August 27, 2010

Burritos

Making some bean burritos in my new Penn apron!  I got this as my departing gift! Tonight I put CSA red and green peppers in with the beans and spices (see the bean dip recipe below) and made Spanish rice (ok I cheated and used Rice a Roni with diced fresh tomatoes from CSA as well). I layered cheese on the burrito, then the beans and some rice, then little lettuce, tomato, onion.  It needed sour cream, or more cheese!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Put the Lime in the Coconut

 So, as I've mentioned before, one of my favorite cookbooks is @Blanchard's Table.  I actually got this cookbook years before I first used it.  My boss from my first job out of college gave it to me after she went to visit her mother who lived in Anguilla.  Blanchard's Table is a restaurant on the island.  (It's even weirder that my other friends went to the island AND the restaurant.  They also lent me a copy of the Blanchard autobiography "A Trip to the Beach" about the trek from Vermont to Anguilla, and starting a restaurant.  The first 2/3rds of the book is amazing!)

Ok back to the cookbook.  As it might be my favorite cookbook, for certain things I suppose, inside is one of JW's favorite recipes.  Calypso Chicken: [as listed on Blanchard's website: Calypso Chicken: a Caribbean blend of flavors made with ginger, lime and coconut; pan-roasted and served with creamy polenta and a medley of vegetables.....38.00]
Luckily, my chicken doesn't cost $38.  Barely even $10. For 3 people.  And tons of sauce left over. 


I have referenced the NPR story before, but that is where you can find the recipe.  But for those that are lazy (mainly me), here it is, modified for how I make it: 
6 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves (the thinner the faster they cook)
3 tablespoons plus 1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (I like the full fat coconut milk, and reduce the fat in the cream to milk)
1⁄2 cup heavy cream (see above, I use 1% because thats what i usually have)
1 1⁄2 tablespoons freshly grated lime peel
3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger (I keep forgetting to buy it and just been using powder, NOT THE SAME, but ok)
1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄3 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped (if i have it, if not, I'm not buying it)
3 tablespoons toasted shredded coconut, optional (I put it in the pan with the chicken, and it "toasts" in the juices of the chicken)
Preheat the broiler or prepare the grill. (in my case, a grill pan)
In a large bowl (or a large ziplock baggie), coat the chicken with 3 tablespoons lime juice and the oil. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1⁄4 cup lime juice, coconut milk, cream, lime peel, ginger, salt, and pepper.(use a coated whisk if you are using non-stick!) Heat until small bubbles form around the edge of the pan and set aside. (dont boil. its gross)
Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade, and broil or grill them until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes depending on size. Reheat the sauce, but be careful not to let it boil. (See, told ya.) Transfer the chicken to individual plates or a serving platter, and spoon the sauce over. Sprinkle with the cilantro and toasted coconut, if desired, and serve immediately.
Yum!
You see my chicken here with broccoli on the side. Don't do that. It didnt cook. it was gross. you are better off just doing my usual half boil half steam by adding 1" of water to a pan and throwing them in and adding a lid. wait til they are bright green and drain. smoooother in butter S&P!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Greek Flavor

Since JW's mom was heading off to Greece this week, I decided to make us a little Greek dinner.  Plus, I had an eggplant from the CSA, and I don't like eggplant. But baba ghanoush I seem to like.  So Greek it was!

After roasting the eggplant, it felt like and smelled like the cross between a banana and a squash.  I wanted to take a photo, but I was too busy :)

I did follow the directions for the baba ghanoush almost perfectly-- I even bought the sesame seeds!

 

Baba Ghanoush

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. Place eggplant on baking sheet, and make holes in the skin with a fork. Roast it for 30 to 40 minutes, turning occasionally, or until soft. Remove from oven, and place into a large bowl of cold water. Remove from water, and peel skin off.
  3. Place eggplant, lemon juice, tahini, sesame seeds, and garlic in an electric blender, and puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer eggplant mixture to a medium size mixing bowl, and slowly mix in olive oil. Refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

I did not follow the souvlaki and tzatziki recipe completely... I used lamb instead of pork and had no mint.  The tzatziki was no good, by itself. Together on the pita it was great!  But, the HIT of the night sure was the marinade and the lamb! wow. that was great!

Souvlaki with Tzatziki

Ingredients

1 1/4 pounds trimmed pork shoulder, cut into 3-by- 1/2-inch strips (I used Lamb)
1 large onion, cut through the root end into 1/2-inch wedges
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup Greek-style whole-milk yogurt
1/2 European cucumber, seeded and finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Warm pita, for serving

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, toss the pork strips and onion wedges with the olive oil, lemon juice, chopped oregano and half of the garlic paste. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and let stand for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the yogurt, cucumber, mint and the remaining garlic paste. Season the tzatziki with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a large cast-iron griddle or grill pan until very hot. Add the pork and onion wedges along with any marinade and cook over high heat, turning once or twice, until the pork and onion are tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the pork and onion to plates and serve with the tzatziki, lemon wedges and pita.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What to do as a single lady

Much like Amanda H, I have a single lady dinner (things I eat when Jw isn't home). my two favorite (ok I consider many things favorites) veggies, beets and stringbeans, Jw doesn't really like. so whenever he's not around... they are on the menu! and they may be all the menu!

tonight, he's at the phillies game, so of course ill indulge in beans and beets!

I will also eat it shifts! I got home from work hungry and ate leftover pizza AND pasta! (two meals already blogged, but I did make a second pot of pasta and sauce last night from my grandmom's recipe- can't get enough!) I ate in front of rachael ray... I'm not really a fan, but she is making homemade sausages so I'm entertained...

back to tonight's main attraction- the butter carriers! I will boil the beets (too hot for roasting) and steam the beans, and smother them all in (salted) butter and s&p!

I just can't live without butter. I think I only enjoy vegetables so much because they are perfect butter carriers- the mechanism to move the butter to my mouth! yum!

---if anyone's been following me on Facebook, yes, tonight is half the reason I needed the 2 lbs of butter!---

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Rock bottom

This must be as low as it gets. Papa John's pizza and a salad.

But at least I made the dressing:

Whisk together 1/4c red-wine vinegar, 2t Dijon mustard, and 1 garlic clove, in a small bowl until combined well, then add 1c olive oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified. Whisk in 1 1/2t fresh thyme, 1 1/2T basil, and salt and pepper to taste.


Yum.


Papa Johns was $10 for a large 3 topping pizza.  We had 2: green pepper, onion and mushroom on Original crust; and tomatoes, onion, and 3 cheese blend.


perfect meal for my day long hangover.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Repeats

I must be sick of thinking of new recipes, or sick of blogging.... not sure which.

Tonight, I made the beer simmered sausages again.  When I read over my original post, hoping that I finally could benefit from all the writing, I realized that I couldn't recreate the recipe at all!!!

Here it goes again, my modifications to the Epicurious recipe:
Beer- Simmer Grilled Sausages

  • a toothpick
  • 6 uncooked sausages, such as sweet or hot Italian sausages
  • 1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 beer, as needed (I used Yards Brawler- my second favorite beer, after Miller Lite and before Guinness)
1. Prick each sausage a half-dozen times. Arrange the onion slices on the bottom of a sauté pan just large enough to hold all the sausages. Place the sausages on top and add beer and water to cover (the ratio should be about 3 parts beer to 1 part water). Place the pan over medium heat and gradually bring the liquid to a simmer, not a rapid boil. Poach the sausages until half-cooked, 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Lightly spray the pan and place sausages and onions on the hot grill pan. Grill until the casings are crisp and nicely browned and the sausages are cooked through, 6 minutes per side. You may want to rotate the sausages 90 degrees. Transfer the sausages to plates or a platter and let rest for 3 minutes.  


Tonight, I served it with pesto tortellini and Brussels sprouts. [see comments for "recipes".]

Lemon Risotto, again

I need to read my own blog more often.  I didn't realize, or remember, making risotto since I started blogging.

So, here is another slight variation, but that's how I cook everything!

I added 1 teaspoon butter (which, for the first time in my life, seemed unnecessary) and 1 T of olive oil to a pan, along with 2 cloves of garlic.  Then, I added 1 c of Arborio rice and let it get coated in oil for 1-2 minutes.

Then I added 1/2c of white wine, and let the liquid evaporate.  Then, I added 1/2c of stock to the rice, stirring and allowing to absorb/evaporate.  As each addition reduced, I added another 1/2c, totaling 3c of stock.

Then, I added the zest and juice of 1 lemon and 1/4c of Parmesan cheese (or I wish I had only added 1/4c!) S&P.  Stir and serve!

We also had a nice pork- Smithfield garlic and herb tenderloin- that I got on sale for $6.99 from ShopRite! And some broccoli with butter and S&P (i should have used that butter from the risotto for the broccoli! Who knew I'D ever run out of butter!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cuisine Quest from Chestertown

I spent the better part of the weekend in Chestertown, MD, with my family.  Today, I spent a few hours with my grandmother: taking her to Downey's for ice cream, taking her to and from the hospital to see my grandfather, and spending time in her house looking at her "collection" of mini perfume bottles and jewelry.  She told me many stories and made references to everything from her/our family, their houses in St. Mary's County, her time in Germany, Spain, and Mexico, furniture, stolen silver, hearing aid batteries and cookbooks.

I always loved my grandmother's cooking.  I'm not sure if it was because she served meat, or if it was because we always got ice cream right after we finished dinner, or if it was just the adventure of not being at home.  There are a few key things I remember about eating at my grandparents house: my grandfather made popovers and ate melon with salt and pepper; my grandmother kept evaporated milk in the cabinet, baby food jars for leftover bites of food, and toasted the cereal so it wouldn't be stale. I also remember that she made great sliced cucumbers, pork chops ("Grandmom, this sure is good chicken."), and my absolute favorite, spaghetti sauce.

I haven't tasted another spaghetti sauce like it.  The other day I made pasta and I overcooked the noodles, so they were pretty swollen.  Those noodles got me thinking about my grandmother's meaty pasta sauce.  I thought about sending her a note, or calling her on the phone, but I wasn't sure if she would be able to tell me the recipe.  I mentioned it to her yesterday, in passing, but this afternoon, while we were in the kitchen waiting for the rain to stop, I asked her about it again.  

I was sitting in front of their cookbook shelves, and she told me to grab the "Joy of Cooking."  It didn't have a spine any longer, but I knew which one it was.  I pulled it out, and looked up sauces, and turned to the page where it might have been.  Studying the stains on the pages, it didn't seem like this was the right book. So, she kept looking at the pages while she had me grab the "Fannie Farmer" off the shelf.  As I start flipping through the new book, I think to myself that it is incredibly clean, how can the stains tell me any story in this cookbook?  She then begins to tell me that my grandfather had bought her this new version and she never liked it.  It wasn't weathered like her older copy... but she didn't know where the other copy was.  I stopped, and moved a few boxes from the bottom shelf, and noticed two more books without spines.  I took a guess, and grabbed one from the shelf.  My lucky day, her older copy of Fannie Farmer!  

I turned to page 147, and handed her the book.  Are any of these the recipe you used? We start looking at the pages and reading the ingredients. The one in the middle of the page took her interest, and as she read the ingredients, I knew we had found the right one: "One tablespoon of sugar!?! I never used that much sugar. Maybe a half a teaspoon, at the most!" Her comments proved that it was the right recipe, but it seemed recreating it wouldn't be so easy, since each ingredient had needed a comment.  I quickly scribbled notes.

I got my notes home, along with a Amazon.com box full of tomatoes from my dad's garden, and began the quest. Mashed 2 cloves of garlic, diced 1 onion, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil were all added to my Le Creuset pan.

I then added just a little more than 1 lb of ground beef (I wanted it extra meaty) and waited for it to brown.  (if it had been fatty, I would have spooned off all but 3 tablespoons of fat.) Meanwhile, I diced 5 tomatoes and added them to the pot, hopefully about 2 1/2 cups. 

I stirred and added in 1 little can of tomato paste, and "rinsed" the can once with tomato juice and a little bit of red wine. I added five drops of Worcestershire sauce, about 1 teaspoon of sugar, basil, and oregano, as well as S&P.  I let it simmer for at least 30 minutes.

As the sauce simmered, I cracked the lid since my grandmother's was always a little thinner then what I had thus far.  I also started on making cornbread, Brussels sprouts, caesar salad, and a banana bread.

The Caribbean corn bread comes from "at Blanchard's Table" cookbook.  Since I agreed to make banana bread for my coworkers last day tomorrow, I only had 2 sticks of butter for 2 baked goods.  I decided to half the cornbread recipe.  

1/2 c flour, 1/2 c cornmeal, 2T baking powder, 1/2t salt in a bowl. In the mixer, 1 stick butter (room temp), 3/8c sugar (ok, so I put in a little more than 1/3c, or you could do 6 Tablespoons). Then 2 eggs, one at a time. Then add 3/4c cream-style corn and 1/4c crushed pineapple and 1/2c of cheese (although I added a little bit more of all three).  Mixed in the dry to the wet ingredients, and poured them in a small bread loaf.  If I had used the full recipe, I would have used a 9" Pyrex. 325 degrees, for an hour to hour and fifteen.


For some reason, I took the cornbread out after 30 minutes, because it was already brown. But when I cut into to it to serve, obviously, it was still gooey.  I cut off two cooked pieces, and put it back in the oven.  [JW said it was the best cornbread ever... um, hello, it's raw!]


In a sauté pan, I added a clove of garlic, a tablespoon of butter, a tablespoon of olive oil, and halved Brussels sprouts.  I sauteed them for a few minutes until brown and flipped them to the other side.


When the pasta was more than done, I added noodles back to the pot and spooned sauce over them and tossed.  I plated everything and sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top.


ahhhh.... so good!  I think I did it.  Tomorrow will be the true test.  The leftovers were always the best part.  I also froze some of it, as that's what my grandmother did.  I can't wait to eat that one day too.


I think I remember digging bay leaves out of the pasta as a kid... next time!

1.24.11: I just found this picture online, and needed to archive it!

The week of no cooking

A rare week of no home cooked meals. We were at the Phillies multiple nights in a row (a 15-9 loss, 2-0 win), I went out to eat with staff from Washington College, went to a goodbye happy hour and then was too tipsy to cook (alone at least), a baby shower, crabs with my family... and it still continues.

But that doesn't mean I don't have recipes to document. First off, this week my coworker Emily brought in lunch for us! It was awesome- and I wish that I wasn't leaving so we could do it more often. She brought chicken salad, and we bought bread from cosi!

Even though I didn't make it, I need to remember the recipe. I always seem to make my chicken salad like my tuna salad, but it always turns out a bit odd. ES gets out the crock pot and frozen chicken. she leaves it to go for 2 hours. then she shreds the chicken, adds chopped celery, mayor, and s&p. yum. I gotta remember not to over do it next time, and no more canned chicken for us.

The other meal I want to remember is my meal at R2L. I had multiple glasses of proseco, that I have no problem remembering :) but I want to write more about my beet salad. anyone taking notes? this is in my last meal, ok? it was a variety of beets with micro greens and goat cheese mousse and a truffle vinaigrette! for dinner I had the salmon with spring onion, barley, walnuts, and lemon. It was what I was looking for that evening.

But, to be honest, the view of Philadelphia from the 37th floor, Prosecco, and beets could another experience I wanna have again soon!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Battle of WW vs. JW

Well, tonight's verdict is still out. I enjoyed our meal, quite a bit, and JW, meanwhile, found it "just ok and I'm not going to be super excited if I see it again."

Man, tough crowd.  Since it wasn't a grand slam, I'll only briefly summarize.  I had some Napa Cabbage from the CSA to utilize, and every dish I research contained RAMEN NODDLES- and that wasn't going to happen.  So, I found another recipe from Epicurious (I think I'm going to give it a rest, the site has an app for my phone, but to be honest, I haven't really been IN LOVE with any of the dishes.  Back to allrecipes... the rating system is more predictable), this one was for Scallops with wilted Napa Cabbage slaw.

Well, I didn't have scallops, I have frozen shrimp (they are the easiest thing to defrost when you don't own a microwave and don't plan ahead). So, I reluctantly made the dressing, which reviewers marked bland, and dressed the cabbage, a shredded carrots and some onion.  I sauteed the shrimp and moved them to a plate to deglaze the pan with the remaining dressing, and threw in a T of Kraft [dont tell JW] Asian Sesame (or something) salad dressing. Added the sauce to the shrimp and then wilted the slaw in the pan. With some reheated cous cous, I plated all the items and we ate.

I enjoyed my meal, and JW wasn't impressed. However, he proclaims that I generally make such amazing meals, that this one wasn't up to my typical standards. I suppose he's just making sure I cook again tomorrow night.

Cooked Carrots to remember

For an ordinary dinner, I wanted  to remind myself how to make these carrots that JW deemed "the best ones ever."

I adapted another recipe from Epicurious for Carrots Glazed with Balsamic Vinegar and Butter.  Here is what I did...

I blanched 4 small carrots from our CSA.  Then drained them and added 2T of  butter to the saute pan and melted it over medium heat for 5 minutes. Covered and cooked until carrots are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. Stir in 2T of light brown sugar and maybe 3T of balsamic vinegar. Cooked uncovered until carrots are tender and glazed, stirring frequently, about 12 minutes longer. Seasoned with a dash of cumin, ginger, salt and pepper.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The ironic dinner party

Well, what was intended to be a welcome dinner was so delayed that it became a good bye dinner instead. we invited my to colleagues over and their significant others, for a meal that that became an endless list of food highlighted by wine from their recent trips to Napa.

The meal started in the office. we saw each other from 9am, when i arrived and concluded past 11 that night. (I hope they weren't sick of me.) We left work together at 5 on the trolley and caught our shuttle home- making sure to get the mail since my new, and only, tablecloth hadn't arrived.

We found it, proceeded upstairs and set the table before anything else. it is the first time Ive had guest over to watch the whole production, which was a new change. we crowded our skinniest chairs into the kitchen and cracked open, after ten minutes of trying, a bottle of champagne.


The meal began with a timing list i made with takes and time frames to make all these items on time: cheese and crackers, tomato, basil, mozzarella skewers, chicken with mango avocado salsa, cous cous, asparagus, salad and chocolate cake with ice cream and sorbet.

The last dish to be eaten started first since the sour cream for the icing needed to be room temperature. the rest of the cake was next, in steps, with marinades and salsa in between. the best part was having ES read me the chocolate dump it cake recipe for AH's book in between multitasking. maybe I could get used to help in the kitchen.

Or maybe not. i started to get drunk. i stopped measuring. i think there were some concerns about the fizziness of the batter and the hot sauce on the chicken... when our other, lesser, halves arrived, they left the kitchen and i finally had my space to cook as I pleased. ;)

I took a break to put together apps and sent them out while everyone had beer and wine. I enjoyed capturing moments of the conversation from the kitchen as JW ran around trying to watch pieces of the Phillies in the other room. the asparagus was cooked with garlic, butter, and lemon. The cous cous was started and the chicken was finishing. dicing the salad and making the dressing was last.

The dressing was an improvised version of epicurious... too bad I don't measure and cant recreate. I omitted the shallots, anchovy paste, but all else was close enough. [Whisk together 1/4c red-wine vinegar, 2 1/2t minced shallot, 2t Dijon mustard, 1 garlic clove mashed into paste, and 1/2t anchovy paste in a small bowl until combined well, then add 1c olive oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified. Whisk in 1 1/2t fresh thyme, 1 1/2T basil, and salt and pepper to taste.]

We had dinner, had conversation, we had wine, we competed to tell stories, and we had a great time.
The plates were cleared and I ate too much. i finished the icing and put in some candles for MS even if just to show off the cake. she was right, we didn't need the parchment paper, it came out perfectly. we served it with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet and devoured it. and ate the rest for breakfast in the office the next day...

photos courtesy of ES

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Taco Salad with Fresh Lettuce

JW swears to his co-workers that the only reason I make taco salad is so that I can hide wilting (or he says "rotting") lettuce and make him eat it.

So tonight, for the record, I made taco salad without questionable salad greens.

Me as a Bean Dip... obviously the focal point of the party
Not only is this post to state this fact for the record, it is also to share the W family recipe for bean dip.  Frequently requested, and truly the only reason I get invited to parties.  People even say so.  (And, for a fact, I have been tagged in photos on Facebook where my bean dip has appeared, and not me...)

So for my taco salad, I begin with my bean dip recipe, and instead of a pie dish, I pile it high on top of lettuce and tortilla chips.  Each time I may add avocado, or fresh tomato, onion, cilantro, or whatever else is in the fridge that might be wilting and I can pass off in a heap.  Don't tell JW.

~~~
W Famous Bean Dip: (im making up the portions because i do this so much- feel free to improvise- you honestly cant go wrong.  JW one time added butter to the beans- unnecessary- but what are you going to do?)

1 can refried beans (i like fat free or vegetarian- they taste the same!)
1 can black beans (drained)
dash of the following garlic powder, red pepper flakes, cayenne, paprika, chili powder --- (or use 1 tablespoon taco seasonings) BUT- heavy on the cumin! (I dust the whole pan of beans)
4 oz sour cream (i like light sour cream- tastes the same!)
8 oz salsa (i like medium heat- its a crowd-pleaser)
6 oz shredded cheese (I like a mixture- usually just easier to buy a taco or mexican mixed bag- but cheaper to grate your own Monterrey or Colby Jack)

Combine refried beans and black beans in a saute pan.

Warm in pan mixed with a dash of the spices.

Layer in beans in a pie dish.
Layer sour cream on top.
Pour on salsa and shake dish to spread evenly.
Layer shredded  cheese on top.

Microwave for 5 minutes or until melted. Or 350° oven for 10 minutes.
~~~

The trick to taco salad, however, is to put everything on the plate, top with cheese, THEN the hot beans, THEN more cheese and sour cream. Duh.

The Gift of the Gellert

My friend MG, whom I lived with in London, came to visit this week.  Although I didn't actually cook for MG, we enjoyed a few culinary "adventures" during her stay.

Hours after her arrival, we ventured to Tria to dissolve a memory of a bad first date and utilize a frequent shopper card collecting dust.  We managed to add several wines, beers, and many dollars to our card, and had a great time catching up and taking notes for the future.

Once home, or maybe even the next day, MG and I were discussing said blog, and hanging around my tiny kitchen.  She glanced up and noticed my Pillsbury "The Complete Book of Baking" cookbook, and exclaimed, "My mother had that cookbook!  She always made the chocolate pecan pie!"  I pulled the book down from the shelf, which included the big metal canister of flour resting on top.  (MG was impressed with herself as she didn't flinch as this entire tower crossed over her head... as was I, to be honest.)

We quickly found the chocolate pecan pie recipe, and our mouth's watered as we started at the large glossy photo.  We critiqued the recipe, and MG added commentary about her mother's successful pies with store bought pie crusts.  I had just made the peach tart, so was thinking I should try the the real crust if I ever ventured to make the chocolate pecan.

"Do you even have a rolling pin?" MG so curiously asked.

"No. I've always thought about buying one. I looked at one yesterday..." I trailed off, thinking about all the odd wine bottles I have used over the years as a substitute rolling pin.  She didn't need to know.

This cookbook is the best thing that ever happened to me.  It was my second cookbook ever (the first was a Klutz Kids cookbook that came with plastic measuring spoons); and the only book, I swear, that my parents gave me with a transcription, "Merry Christmas, 1995." The best part about this baking book are all the photographs.  It took me years to actually attempt something that didn't have a picture.  But, everything, every single thing, I have attempted from this book has been a hit.

I remember making pumpkin cookies for a family holiday party that I couldn't force people to eat.  I deemed it a disaster but made my aunt take some home with her.  She called me the next day to report her kids ate them in the car and couldn't get enough.  I make them repeatedly now, and my frosting technique gets better and better each time. Always tasty.

And, this book doesn't steer me wrong. Wonderful chocolate chip cookie recipes, apple cobbler, banana breads, and who can remember all the other things I've made over the years....

"Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual"
But, when MG left today, she left my a little gift.  A nicely wrapped tube from, obviously, Williams Sonoma.  Inside, the most beautiful red rolling pin I've ever seen.  The only thing worthy enough will be the chocolate pecan pie, for you, as I think about your mother.

And MG, my dear... do you recall those mini-pizzas I made in London? Of course you do, I'm the one that forgets.  You asked where I learned to cook, and I didn't think I had an answer, or maybe I was thinking  it was rhetorical.  However, I found your answer.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

the peanut mistake

Tonight's meal started in very much a haze.  As I walked home from work, I thought about the options.  Knowing that I'm having coworkers over on Thursday (therefore, the fridge is full of ingredients I cannot use) and realizing that tomorrow was a new CSA order, I had to use up some of things still remaining.  Watermelon, that was certain.

But, did I want to recreate this watermelon, corn, shrimp salad I had when I was at Rose Tatoo last week? What about the classic WW taco salad? OR space out chicken meals this week and have Calypso Chicken from @Blanchard's Table?  Per usual, I called JW and asked him his opinion. But, I have to break it down if I want answers...

"Are you feeling like chicken, shrimp, or taco salad?" "Shrimp or Chicken..."

Hmmm. Shrimp, I guess.

So- I had read about a coconut-lime sauce in @BT, so I decided to try it out.  Simple enough- 1/4c lime juice, 1/4c vinegar, 1/4c brown sugar, 1c coconut milk, 2 T soy sauce, 1/4 peanut butter. Well, all I had was chunky.  

In the saucepan, I warmed the peanut concoction. In a saute pan, I added a dash of olive oil and coriander seeds I crushed, and slowly added the shrimp (as I defrosted under running water and peeled, and of course JW, de-veined them). Once the shrimp were cooked, I added some of the sauce, and then decided to make brown rice in the original saucepan.

Meanwhile, I ventured into recreating the Rose Tatoo salad by using a suggestion from Epicurious.  I don't even know that I followed any sort of recipe. I started by cutting 2 shallots, sliced the corn off one cob (wish I had more... tomorrow!), an avocado, some red leaf lettuce, tossed in some feta cheese, juice and zest of a lemon, olive oil, S&P, and VERY CAREFULLY sliced and de-seeded the watermelon.

I plated the dinner- shrimp on top of rice, which was making me nervous, and then the salad on the side. JW made the sparking water from our Penguin.

It was way too much peanut butter. It was not a coconut-lime sauce. I think with the shrimp, it was tooo powerful.  Maybe with chicken? 

The salad was AMAZING!!! It was a perfect summer delight.  I'm hoping that tomorrow, adding the shrimp to the top of the leftover salad, will be a good lunch. 

Maybe I need to rinse off the shrimp!

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wally's peaches

After reading AH's book and finding a peach tart recipe, I knew that it'd be one of the firsts I wanted to make. The perfect time came for a memorial birthday dessert party, for someone that had very much loved peaches.  The tart started to come together many days before. I purchaser some organic peaches at whole foods, but it kept being too hot to turn on the oven.

On Wednesday, as I walked to work, the Amish farmer's market started to set out their peaches for sale so I bought a quart.  By Saturday, after shopping for new kitchen appliances, I had hoped the peaches would be perfectly over ripe...

Well, the WF's peaches were great: soft and super juicy.  The Amish peaches were... very hard. I freaked! The recipe says very ripe! Since I wanted to make 2 tarts, I could either make just one or I could mix the two kinds together and home for the best. So that's what I did- 5 peaches per tart, 2 hard, white ones and 3 juicy ripe ones.

The crust, of course, comes first and couldn't have been easier. In a 9" pie dish (because I didn't have two square 8"), I mixed together 1.5c flour, 1/2t salt, and 1t sugar. in a bowl, I added 1/2 c olive oil, 2T milk, and 1/2 t vanilla extract (even though it called for almond). Pouring the liquid into the dry, I used a fork to mix it all up and used my fingers to thin it out and shape it in the dish. the recipe said only to have it 3/4" high and I was reluctant. But I took some off... I wish I had done more as it burned later.

Then to those peaches- I tried a paring knife first on the super soft peaches which seemed to work best to get off the skin. Then for the hard white ones, I opted for the peeler, which was faster. I sliced them all into 6 chunks. Thinking that the peaches on the bottom of the dish would cook faster because they would also boil in the other peaches' juices, I layered them on the bottom. The riper chunks were placed on top.

Next it was a bowl of 3/4c sugar, 2T flour, 1/4t salt and 2T cold butter mixed with my fingers till it was like sand, especially since I used unbleached flour. Then sprinkled generously on top and threw in the oven at 425 for 35-45min. at 30, I had to take it out, it started to burn and I had to get to the party!

Photo from: http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2008/09/nectarine_tart.html