Sunday, April 30, 2006

Still as good

Hello friends.

We had guests over last night for dinner and the requirement, vegetarian. So I went back and made this: Stir Fried Noodles with Chilis and Lime.

It's still amazing and still really really good. Head over to the original recipe page for further notes!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Generally not into Mustard

In my mind, I don't like condiments for sandwiches. If I'm having a burger, ketchup is okay...but not so it's dripping off the bun/burger. Not good. Mayo is NOT an option. Sorry kids...NO NO NO. And if mustard makes its way onto my food...I generally scrape most of it off. Not really my thing. When I have a sandwich, it's usually dry. Ga' tad dry!

Well, tonight's dinner was all about the MUSTARD! Shocking!

The recipe is from the magazine I mentioned the other day, Intermezzo. It did call for one main ingredient that isn't allowed in our house, so I won't mention it and will just give you the altered recipe. If you want to know you can guess or....get the magzine.

Chicken with a Shallot Mustard Sauce

Serves 2

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, split and pounded thin
Salt & Pepper
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 TB butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 TB grainy Dijon mustard

Season chicken with salt & pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and saute chicken until cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Move chicken to a warm plate and cover with foil.

Melt butter in the same pan. Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes until shallots turn translucent but do not burn. Add the wine and scrape browned bits off bottom of the pan; add cream and mustard. Cook until sauce has reduced by half and is quite thick. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Return chicken to pan briefly to rewarm, serve chicken with sauce on top.

The dish was really good. The one TB of mustard really pulls up front! More so than the shallots or wine. When I make this again, I would cut the mustard (tee hee) in half, get the flavor but not overwhelm the full dish. We served it with this hearty full grain rice, a great compliment.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Cheesey Ravioli Ragu

The only order for dinner...something with sausage.

So...we have Ravioli with Sausage Ragu.

The recipe is an Emeril Lagasse creation. But his calls for frying the ravioli...which I am totally in favor of, but have no interest in actually doing that tonight. So I have 'fresh' four cheese ravioli from the store and whipped up this Hot Sausage Ragu.

Hot Sausage Ragu:
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 lb hot sausage
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
3/4 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 (15 oz) cann diced tomatoes with their juices
1 (8oz) tomato paste
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
Pinch of sugar

In a medium pt, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring, until brown and the fast is rendered, about 4 minutes. Add the onions, garlic, crushed red pepper, salt, basil, oregano, black pepper and bay leaf, and cook, stirring, until soft, 4 minutes. Add the tomatoe paste, blend in. Add the wine and stir in throughly. Add the diced tomatoes and sauce. Bring all to a simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thick and the flavors are blended, about 30 minutes. Add water as necessary to keep from getting to thick. Add the cream, stir and warm. Remove from heat and cover until needed.

The directions are slightly different than Emeril's recipe, but it's essentially the same. I didn't use the sugar and there seemed no need. The final result. Delicious!!!

Little Debbie better watch her ass

Cuz it's on!

I am making cookies for my first day of my new job. I know, I's insane and completely 100% dorktastic.

So...I made two cookies.

Here is the first:

Chocolate Kahlua Whoopee Pies
with Vanilla Mascarpone Cream Filling

Makes 10 Pies

For Cakes:
8 TB unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp Kahlua
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk

For Filling:
4 TB unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
Seeds scraped from 1 Vanilla Bean
3 Cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment papper.

2. Using a stand mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light in texture. Add egg and liqueur. Beat until blended. On low speed add flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Beat until well blended, and crumbly. Add milk and beat until smooth.

3. Drop batter from a round Tablespoon onto prepared cookie sheet, spacing cookies about 3 inches apart. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until center springs back when lightly pressed. Cool completely before filling.

Make filling:

4. Using a stand mixer on low speed, mix all ingredients until well blended. Whip on high speed 3 to 4 minutes or until fluffy.

5. Using a knife or a small spatula, spread a generous amount of filling on bottom of one cookie. Press bottom of another cookie on top of filling ot form sandwich. Wrap pies in plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.


I got this recipe from a magazine I picked up a few two or three weeks ago. I've been dying to try this since then. And they are perfect! And really quite easy. I followed the recipe almost exactly. I only used the 1/2 cup of cocoa I put in the ingredients above. The original called for 3/4 of a cup. I think perhaps, now having tried them, that maybe 2 TB of Kahlua instead of 2 tsp. Oh, and the magazine is called Intermezzo; Fine interludes in Food, Wine, Home & Travel.

Made these again. Some step by step photos here.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Beta Carrot Salad

Dinner tonight was pretty simple and pretty tasty. I took a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis' newest cookbook and adjusted it for what I had on hand and then while at the store this afternoon running around the produce section crazy as a hen, I decided to make a carrot salad as the side dish.


Beta-Carrot Salad
Serves 2-3

3 medium carrots, peeled and shredded on a box grater, through the large holes
1 lemon juiced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, about 1/3 cup
1 TB cilantro, chopped
1 TB thyme, chopped
Pinch of Salt/Pepper and ground coriander

In a medium bowl whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, cilantro, thyme, salt, pepper and coriander into an emulsion. You might need a little more or less olive oil, depending on how much juice the lemon has. Pour about 1/2 over the grated carrots and toss. If you need more, add more. I had a bit left over...I didn't want the carrots to be swimming. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or so. Toss before serving. Serve in a small bowl, or allow to drain a bit, so the liquid that draws out of the carrots doesn't spill all over your plate.



And the second dish:

Pollo Spiedini
Serves 4, 2 kebabs per person

As mentioned, this is from Giada's Family Dinners. Giada says that Spiedini is Italian for kebabs. Her recipe calls for swordfish. Not something I could find at Giant and something I'm not sure I like. Or would be comfortable with. So, I replaced the swordfish with chicken.

2 TB Olive Oil
1 1/2 tsp Herbes De Provence
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into pieces, less than 1 inch square, any larger, they will need to cook longer than the next ingredient...
8 slices bacon
8 skewers, if wood, soaked for 30 minutes in water

In a large bowl, whisk the oil, herbes, salt & pepper to blend, add the chicken and toss to coat. Thread the chicken alternately with 1 slice of bacon onto each of the skewers, wrapping the bacon around the chicken cubes as you go.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for medium-high heat or preheat a ridged grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the skewers until the chicken is cooked through and the bacon crisp, about 8-10 minutes, turning as they cook.


The spiedini doing the dirty work!

And Yum!!! I used the grill pan (I'm sure a grill would be even better) and it worked well, just watch the temperature and how the spiedini are cooking, lower or raise heat accordingly, again, you don't want to burn the bacon or have under cooked chicken.

I think the carrot salad was lovely with the kebabs, great for refreshing the palette after bites of the chicken bacon kebab.


The finished dinner. Pretty good, would do it again.
The carrot salad would be great in the!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Bolognese Sauce

We had some ground beef that was about to cause some serious problems in the fridge, so we had to use it up and use it quickly. And I thought a classic bolognese sauce would be a good use for the beef.

So I gathered up the ingredients that I had on stock:

1 TB olive oil
1 TB butter
1 medium/large onion
2 large carrots
1/2 lb Sweet Sausage
1 lb Ground Beef
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 cup milk
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce (the can is 1/2 the size of the 14 oz, approx.)

Finely grate the carrot on your box grater. If you don't have a box grater, finely dice the carrots. Finely dice the onion.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over high heat. When sizzling, add the onions and carrots. Toss to coat and saute for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is soft. Add the sausage, crumble and brown. Add the ground beef, crumble and brown. Season with salt and pepper.

Here's a step that I could have done, but didn't. Drain the excess fat off.

With the skillet on high heat, add the wine. Lower heat and simmer until the wine had reduced and evaporated. At that point add the milk and simmer until reduced and evaporated.

Add the diced tomatoes, their liquid and the sauce. Partially cover and simmer on low heat for up to two hours. I went about an hour...the longer the better. Stir occasionally. If the sauce becomes to dry, add some water.

Serve on spaghetti with grated parmesan!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I love my grandma

At the end of February, my Mom and aunt Katie visited for an extended weekend. The first night they were here, Lord & Lady B and Joyous came over for some drinky drinks and some fixed up nummies. At one point in the evening my Aunt Katie said to me...

K: "Have you made grandma's french fried pork chops?"
Me: blank stare
K: "You remember the french fried pork chops right?"
Me: "OH MY GOD, SHUT UP....I totally forgot about those devils!"

The story goes like this:
Way Way back in the land before time...actually not that long aunt is only going to be grandparents owned and operated a tavern called Heinie's in Appleton, WI. There was the beer and booze, but there was also the food. I think Friday night's were for Fried Chicken and grandma went to grab the chicken to prepare it from the freezer, but grabbed the wrong thing...oops. She grabbed pork chops. Oh well, she continued. (I don't have a recipe if you try this...trial and error) Coat the chops in flour then dunk them in a beer batter of Aunt Jemima and fry them in big ol' pot of hot oil until golden brown and delicious.

The chops get the nice crispy coating and then stay perfectly moist on the inside. I seem to always remember having these with some sort of potato, usually mashed, maybe home-fried, or maybe just fries? Now that I mention it I can't remember. The chicken was made with the same was the fish....!

Well, I decided to try these puppies out tonight.

I didn't write anything down as I was moving along so what I give you is the guesstimate recipe! When I try this again in the future I'll try to give a more specific recipe, or clarify if needed.

Preparing to be naughty!

Audrey's French Fried Pork Chops

1 1/2 cups of Aunt Jemina pancake mix
1 bottle of beer
pinch of salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, cayenne
4 small, boneless pork chops, trimmed of fat

Several cups of vegetable oil heated over medium high heat.

When the oil is hot, mix 1 cup of pancake mix with nearly a bottle of beer, salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash and cayenne. You want this to be looser than pancake batter, but not watery. I used a full bottle of beer...I should of had a chug of it first, then I would have had the right amount.

Take your chops and dredge them lightly in the remaining 1/2 cup of pancake mix.

Now dip the pancakes in the beer batter until coated, allow excess to drip off, then carefully lower into the hot oil. You want to oil to stay hot, so when you add the chops, raise heat to high. Watch the bubbles and the chops. If they get to dark, lower the heat.

After five minutes, carefully turn the chops over and cook for another five minutes.

The chops should be done at this point, remove from oil and set on a paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle with a touch of salt. Serve immediately!

I served my chops tonight with Green Beans sauted ligthly in olive oil and toasted pine nuts and Parmesan Mashed Potatoes with Crispy Fried Shallots...OMG this was good. The shallots: THINNLY sliced and put in a tiny pan with olive oil over medium to medium high heat, stir regularly with a fork. Watch carefully, as they start to brown, they will brown quickly. When browned, remove to some paper towel. Toss these on your potatoes.

French Fried Pork Chops with Green Beans w/ Toasted Pine Nuts
and Parmesan Mashed Potatoes w/ Crispy Fried Shallots.

My Life in France

Since Saturday, I have been the proud owner of MY LIFE IN FRANCE by Julia Child with Alex Prud'Homme. Since Saturday I've been wanting to post about the book, but thought I should wait until I've finished reading it.


I am not even 100 pages into the book and I am in love, inspired, happy, joyful, enlightened, envious; I wish I could go one...but I'm not that great with adjectives.

Written by Julia and her...grand-nephew, Alex, the book focuses on Julia and her husband Paul's time in Paris, shortly after getting married and while Paul was stationed in France with the U.S. State Department. Of course, we know the story of Julia learning to cook at L' Cordon Bleu, eventually pairing with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck to write MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING, then moving back to the U.S. and creating her show, THE FRENCH CHEF on PBS, bringing gourmet food to the U.S....the rest is history. But this provides the details in a way you can't even begin to appreciate with my novice narrative, so I'm not really going to try.

So far in the book, we've experienced Julia's First French Dinner, fresh off the boat from the U.S. and before they even make it to Paris. I swear I could taste it all, savoring every bite, and I've never had Sole Meuniere! Subsequently we taste more meals Julia and Paul have, and we go through her early cooking classes, trips to the country-side and the true love that Paul and Julia had for one another....and the cooking experiments at home.

Just last night I patted my book as I was preparing to head to bed to read, "We're moving to Paris for a few years so that I can immerse myself in the art of French cooking and live like this." There might have been a grunt or nod, but nothing I can call a verbal contract. I've never been to Paris and although I've often wanted to go, it has never been on the top of my list of destinations. It has certainly moved up there with this book.

I've always had one memory of Julia, standing tall, proud and goofy, before a copper bowl of egg whites with a large wisk in her hand, pronounced to the camera in her marbled voice that she was going to whip the eggs to a soft peak and like a snapped rubber band, her upper body contorted and she whipped those whites into a frothy pillow in a flash! That image will always be with me.

Julia lost Paul in 1994, I think, and the world lost Julia in 2004. Alex Prud'Homme had been interviewing Julia and collecting data and photos*, creating outlines and such to help her with the book focusing on these years in France. When she died, Alex continued the book with Julia as the main author. Just in the past month, MY LIFE IN FRANCE was published and released to the masses. My understanding is that it's already on the best sellers lists! I am having a hard time not reading it at my desk. I have a few days off next week before I start my new job and I do plan on finishing the book then.

**Photos...these are not of Julia's cooking, at least not yet, they are photos, mostly taken by Paul and they are amazing. They are not on plates the middle of the book, they are tucked right into the narrative and really capture and portray Paris and France and Julia. There have been more than a few I thought would be lovely matted and framed...would I want to tear the pages out of the book to do this....? We'll have to see.

And if you haven't heard, the American History Museum is closing their doors after Labor Day for two years of renovations. As of now, you can head over and take a look at Julia's Kitchen. It's pretty damn cool!!!

All this said, I'd recommend you pick this book up for a read. I had it on my wishlist and planned to get it, but then I started reading review after review praising it and being a sucker, I picked it up and couldn't be happier.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Next Food Network Star

You should head over to the Food Network website and vote for:

The Next Food Network Star.

Your choices are:




I was really cheering for Carissa, but she didn't make it to the final three, so I'm voting for Reggie, big silly, funny, comforting Reggie. If you haven't watched The Next Food Network Star and don't mind, head over and vote for Reggie. If you have been for whom you like.


This Friday (4/21) will be my last day at my current job and I need to celebrate! I'm planning on having a few beers at the District Chophouse. I will be there at 530pm until 730pm. Come join me! I'll be upstairs!
I might be there later than 730 or I might move onward. So if you can't make it at 730 let me know and I'll let you know where I'll move to. But if I find a stool and a cold beer mug I might just stay planted.

District Chophouse * 509 7th Street NW * Washington, DC

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Give My Regards

I'll be signing off for the weekend again as we make what is becoming our traditional Spring Theatre trip to New York. We'll spend time with The Kara, visit Sha-Nay-Nay, her hubby and little Sha-Bay-Bay.

Have a wonderful weekend, a blessed holiday and good eats.

See you next week.

Antioxidant Enriched Vodka

This past Saturday Lady Brandenburg and I celebrated our new jobs. My new job I start in a week and her job she's had a few weeks under her belt. We gathered at the Brandenburg Manor and celebrated with friends and family. The primary drink ingredient for the evening was pomegranate juice! And Scott spent most of the evening with the Pomegranate Martini. I was well on the way to schnockered after the first one and yet I continued with several more. They are really really naughty! Adult Kool-Aid.

Pomegranate Martini (serves 2)
1 ¼ cup Pomegranate Juice
1/2 cup vodka
2 Tbsp. Cointreau
2 squeezes of lime

Pizza! Pizza!

Before I forget my own name, I have to share the dining experience we had two weeks ago when J-lo’s mom was visiting…I did promise afterall.

On Saturday, April 1st, we got up bright and early and headed to the National Zoo to see our second favorite Butterstick. Well, the most favorite butterstick is actually edible, wrapped in gold and imported from Ireland.

After roaming the zoo for a few hours, we were starving. Being somewhat in the neighborhood, we headed up Macomb Street to 2 AMY’S.

EVERY SINGLE WEEK on the Tom Sietsema chats on, someone asks Tom: “Where can I get good pizza in Washington?” And Tom’s basic response is: “Everyone, say it with me…2 AMY’S!”

The pressure finally was enough to get me up to that neighborhood. It’s funny, we used to live up there when in grad school at American University and at that time, we’d be hanging at Cactus Cantina for chips and salsa and stale margaritas. If were kickin’ it up, we would go next door CafĂ© Deluxe. But the funniest thing about this neighborhood, on the corner of Macomb and Wisconsin Avenues is Zebra Lounge. Zebra Lounge used to be Brothers Coffee. And it was where J-lo and I had our first date on 12/03/99.

Anyway….back to the point.

2 AMY’S is a tiny little pizzeria tucked almost out of view, off of Wisconsin Avenue. Specializing in authentic Neapolitan pizzas, this place is worth a trip! You walk in and have the large wood/brick oven to your right and several tables on the left. This place is tiny, but frankly, I don’t think it would rock as much if it were a larger restaurant.

We were almost immediately seated, despite the short line at the door. When we were walking up we said it might take us a while to get a table…not at all. But this was like 2pm on a Saturday.

The menu is short and sweet. Featuring several types of pizzas and some small bites.

I had the 2 AMY’S pizza with meatballs. Really, it’s a perfect crisp, blistered and chewy crust topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella, some salt and olive oil. The meatballs were pretty darn good. But just a ‘wee’ bit dry.

But we didn’t start with pizza; I’m getting ahead of myself. We had some beautiful Procuitto di Parma on some very lovely bread. And after snarfed that down I remembered hearing about their Risotto Balls, so we ordered some Suppli a Telefono (rice balls with mozzarella and something else…the rice was slightly orange and almost tangy.) But OMG! Sooo good.

Then of course, the pizzas came. I ate mine all by my unsharing self. And I was bound and determined to eat it all!!! I think I did too.

J-lo and his mother shared the Margherita Extra…a Margherita with cherry tomatoes. From the sounds of it, they enjoyed theirs as well.

And I think I’m missing something??? Like we had something else to start…but I can’t remember???

Regardless, if you like a good old school, authentic pizza, head to 2 AMY’S. And FYI: They are certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association…aka, the PIZZA POLICE.

Must be Memorex!

(I wrote this post in mid-March, but it was when Blogger was being really I just saved it and remember it today.)

March 24, 2006:

I was leaving my office suite today and in the hallway, there was a giant bin of trash. Another office on the floor was doing some spring cleaning. Good for them. As I was walking past the trash bin, my eyes connected to an item in there and the baseball bat of supressed memories came gliding down and knocked me right between the eyes. It is how those neurons can just bring up forgotten memories without a moments notice and leaving you dazed and cornfused.

I now have a moment, a point in my history, when I can say, without a doubt, this is when I became interested, scratch that, become obsessed with cookbooks and recipes. Sure, the years of being partially raised by my grandmother and early years of food programs on public TV had a role in what shaped me, eventually bringing me to where I am now.

Sometime approximately 25 years ago I found myself opening cupboard doors in the kitchen looking for something, a snack, a toy, a secret, I don't know what. And during that activity I found my mothers recipe box. It was hiding in the bottom cupboard, behind stacks of pans and generic brand canned veggies, you know, things mom would never use.

These were not heirloom recipes, passed down from my grandmother, recipes I would die to have now, as I can't remember but a few tasty treats. No, these were recipes in a box that were given to my mother as a gift sometime in the previous 5-10 years. Perhaps a sweet sixteen gift, a newborn baby gift, your first apartment gift, a 'thanks, but I can't go to the bar with that' gift. And as I discovered, they were recipes never used...and never opened.

I tore into that recipe box and card sets like a kid in a candy store. A lovely red plastic box, hinged and opening upwards. Cellophaned stacks of cards with titles and color coding at the top. And the piece de resistance, Divider Cards!!! Ahhhhhhh. The anal retentive angels sang!
I wish I could remember recipe titles, divider names, but I can't. But I remember sitting with this box for hours, organizing meals I knew I wanted. From some fried disaster for a snack to mashed potato/meat loafed entree, something molded or a pudding or cake dessert...those were my favorite cards, the desserts!

Eventually that recipe box found itself on the kitchen counter, sometimes clipped recipes would make there way in the box, but I never found mom opening it to look for a recipe to make for dinner. But I would find myself looking through it and reading the cards, and reorganizing them again and again, I think the last time I looked in that recipe box was around 12-13 years old.

I wonder if my mom still has her Betty Crocker Recipe Card set? It might be interesting to find out. Not that I need or want it...but if it was still around, it might make an interesting conversation piece about the evolution of the home cook from the 70's housewife to today's crazed, time consumed families. And to see where my obsession came from.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Chicken in White Wine

We recently had Lord & Lady B over for dinner with J-lo's mom. I decided to head into THE SILVER SPOON for recipes for dinner.

Here is the main entree:

Chicken in White Wine
Pollo Al Vino Bianco

2 TB Olive Oil
1 Garlic clove
1 Fresh Rosemary Sprig
1 Chicken cut up
1 bottle dry white wine
Salt & Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Heat the oil in a roasting pan, add the garlic and rosemary, then add the chicken and cook, turning frequenty until golden brown all over. Season with salt and pepper and pour in the wine so that the chicken is almost covered. Cover the pan with a double layer of foil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, return the roasting pan to the oven and roast until the wine has evaporated is tender and cooked through.

And that my friends is the way THE SILVER SPOON presents their recipes. Simple and straightforward. I did add about four more garlic cloves and a total of three rosemary sprigs. Also in the early steps, with the garlic and rosemary just added to the oil, I added a large onion, sliced. Done and done.

I served the chicken with Aspargus Risotto and Cake with Orange Frosting. I'll get the cake recipe up sooner or later. The Risotto...just make a risotto and add some blanched asparagus...basically.

Poulette der patata de' provence!?!?!

I'm full of crap I know! I like the sound of this dinner, but seriously, if the title of this post is translated if probably says something like "Scott is a complete dork."

Anyway, last night was a "what's in the fridge/freezer for dinner" kind of night.

I had some frozen, almost freezer burned chicken, two potatoes, one onion, one and a half leeks, wine and butter. The cupboard was fully stocked with herbs. So, what did I make.....

Poulette Der Patata De' Provence!
aka: Scott is a complete dork

2 medium-large white potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
Olive Oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced into half moons (I only had 1 1/2, but if I did again, I'd use 2)
1 TB Herbes de Provence
1 lb pack of boneless skineless chicken breasts, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
1 cup white wine
2 TB butter

Over medium high heat in a large skillet, add in about a TB of olive oil. Add the potatoes, toss to coat with the oil and allow to saute and start to get browned. Add the onions and leeks. Cook for about 5 minutes, until everything starts to soften. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle in the Herbes de Provence. Toss to coat.

Carefully scootch the veg mixture to the sides of the pan and lay down the chicken slices. Keep moving the veg to make room for the chicken as you add it...I just started to so put the veg onto of the chicken, sort of layering it. Allow to cook for 5-8 minutes, getting a nice crust on the chicken...and the steam will continue to cook the veg.

Turn the chicken pieces to cook the second side. Add the wine to deglaze the pan. Gently move the ingredients around. You don't want to mush the potatoes. Simmer for a few minutes until the wine has reduced to a nice saucey consistency. Stir in the butter to enrich the sauce.


(not much to look at, but pretty tasty)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Another Non-Food Post:

Cloud 9-But not in a really great way...getting offered this new job, accepting and now getting ready to process myself out of my current job left me in a daze. So what did I do today...I stuffed envelopes for a mailing....all day. Good brain melt project.

Of course I was plugged into the iPod all day and I thought it would be fun to share, as I really enjoyed everything that scrolled across today:

  • Golden-Jill Scott
  • Behind These Hazel Eyes-Kelly Clarkson
  • Take a Chance On Me-ABBA
  • Are You Gonna Go My Way-Lenny Kravitz
  • Lose Yourself-Eminem
  • Canned Heat-Jamiroquai
  • Give A Little Respect-Erasure
  • Erotic-Madonna
  • A Little Less Conversation-Elvis Presley
  • Take Me Out-Franz Ferdinand
  • Express Yourself-Madonna
  • Super Trouper-ABBA
  • South Side-Moby
  • The Remedy-Jason Mraz
  • Soul Education-Jamiroquai
  • One Evening-Feist
  • Go Where You Wanna Go-Mamas & Papas
  • American Idiot-Green Day
  • What You Waiting For-Gwen Stefani
  • Crossroads-Jonell Mosser
  • Juicy-Better Than Ezra
  • I'm Still Standing-Elton John
  • Curbside Prophet-Jason Mraz
  • Somebody to Love-Queen
  • Flashdance...What A Feeling-Irene Cara
  • Sexual Revolution-Macy Gray
  • Fighter-Christina Aguilera
  • Sexx Laws-Beck
  • Vogue-Madonna

Good Times.

OK, there might be a post tomorrow, but hopefully after that, things will resume slightly! Take Care.

It's Finally Official

I want to share...I GOT A NEW JOB!!!!

I just turned in my official resignation letter and let me boss know I'll be leaving.

I'll be heading to the University of Maryland in just over two weeks!


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Pesto Pesto

Tonight I was in the mood for pesto.

(I promise the big weekend meal will be posted Friday or Saturday...the chicken in wine, asparagus risotto and cake....I mentioned it a few days ago.)

But tonight was for pesto!

Pesto is possibly one of the worlds oldest sauces. A few reports I've read state that pesto derives its name from the process in which it is created: pestatura (grinding leaves) in a murta (mortor) and pestellu (pestle). Presto Pesto!

Every sources does say this still creates the best tasting sauce, if...and only if the wrist twists the pestle and tears/grinds the basil leaves, releasing their essential oils and all their flavors! If the pestle is used to pulverize the leaves, the full flavors are not realized. It is said that creating the pesto in a food processor shears the leaves, blocking the cells from again, releasing their oils. It is also possible that too much heat is created by the machine erradicating the aromas and flavors.

All that is good and proper, but I don't have a proper mortar and pestle, so I can't really do that. So, I used my food processor! Pllllbttt on ancient Italian traditions!!! (just kidding)

So my Pesto...easy peasy:

Assemble your ingredients: (and quantities are approximates)
2 cups fresh basil, loosely packed
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts...toasted is much better!!!!
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1-2 garlic cloves (I had two large cloves and it was probably the amount of 4 medium cloves, too much garlic in my opinion)
Pinch or two of salt
Few grinds of black pepper

Give them a quick whirl.

After a quick whirl, all the goodies will look like this: The coarse texture you want.

At this point, turn the machine on and quickly drizzle in approximately:

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Soon your pesto will look all creamy and yummy and green. DONE!

I added my pesto to some pasta will some quickly sauted pieces of chicken. YUM!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Trying to relive a memory

No, I've never been to Morocco, but when we went for J-lo's birthday to Marrakesh, they served us one dish that was pretty much hands down the favorite!!! Their Roast chicken with preserved lemons and olives. It was the most succulent chicken in the world and so amazing.

About two weeks ago, Simply Recipes posted a recipe for Moroccan Chicken with Lemon & Olives. I knew I had to try it.

So this past Wednesday I invited the Joyous over for some tasty chicken and LOST.

Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives
from Simply Recipes (w/some notes by me)

2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 chicken, 3-4 lbs, cut into 8 pieces (or 3-4 lbs of just chicken thighs and legs, the dark meat is more flavorful) (I just bought a pre-cut up chicken, it worked well)

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped

The peel from 1 preserved lemon, rinsed in cold water, pulp discarded, peel cut into thin strips
(I had two regular lemons. One I sliced thinly, the other I peeled into large zesty strips, then juiced that lemon)
1 cup green olives, pitted (we had Kalamata olives)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup raisins (we had Golden Raisins, I think Nigella calls them sultanas!)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I prepared both and forgot them, I was moved to drooling and wanted to eat)

1. Combine all the spices in a large bowl. Pat dry the chicken pieces and put in the bowl, coat well with the spice mixture. Let the chicken stand for one hour in the spices.

2. In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces, sprinkle lightly with salt (go easy on the salt, the olives and preserved lemons are salty), and brown, skin side down for five minutes. (If you are using a clay tagine, you will skip the browning step, heat only to medium heat and use a heat diffuser on the heating element to prevent the tagine from cracking.) Lower the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and onions. Cover and let cook for 15 minutes.

3. Turn chicken pieces over. Add the lemon slices, olives, raisins, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer on medium heat, then lower the heat to low, cover, and cook for an additional 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and quite tender. (I used the regular skillet and covered it partially to help keep some heat in and allow some steam to escape)

4 Mix in fresh parsley and cilantro right before serving. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Serves 4 to 6. Serve with couscous, rice, or rice pilaf. (I served with couscous that had toasted pine nuts, cilantro and 'sultanas.')

Further Reading:
Seven Essential Spices in a Moroccan Kitchen
Testing Tagines from the New York Times
Flights to Marrakech from Expedia-if you are interested!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Quick Update & From Scratch


I hope to have full posts back tomorrow...maybe Wednesday....J-lo's mom leaves tomorrow and tomorrow evening, I might just crash!

When I return, with Bloggers Blessing, I will be posting pictures and recipes for:

  • ~Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives, served with a couscous with pine nuts, raisins and cilantro
  • ~Roast Chicken in White Wine, Asparagus Risotto and Orange Glazed Cake, all brought to us by the great editors at The Silver Spoon.
  • ~Mini reviews for 2 Amy's, Zatinya and maybe a third depending on dinner tonight

It's been a wonderful weekend and I feel I need to detox with carrot sticks and wheat thins.

In other news while blobbing out after the roast chicken in white wine, waiting for or having just finished the cake, the question came up: We know what "from scratch" means, but what is it's origins?

Very interesting, we had to do a quick google (scroll down) and found this very interesting answer which J-lo nailed the first part spot on:

The Devil made me bake it.

Dear Evan: Delighted to discover you and your mission . . and one day after we did I have a conundrum. We were at lunch and I commented to my wife that her soup was particularly flavorful. I then asked whether it was a prepared soup or from a recipe. "No," she responded, "it's from scratch." Of course we've heard the expression "from scratch" zillions of times, and everyone is clear as to meaning . . but wherefore and whence . . or should I just say, "whencesoever"? My efforts toward this end stop at William and Mary Morris' "Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins," which attaches scratch to "Old Scratch," a nickname for the devil. This, in turn, is derived from an old Norse word "scratti," meaning "devil" or "sorcerer." All of which is of absolutely no help. Can you locate a more likely route? -- Carroll F. Raaum, via the Internet.

Please don't say "whencesoever." It gives my spell-checker conniption fits. Speaking of conniptions, I must admit that I was taken a bit aback by your assertion that my parents' book (published by HarperCollins, by the way) connects "from scratch" with "Old Scratch." Perhaps you have an old edition. (I'm not being facetious -- there were three separate volumes before the current Second Edition.)

In any case, if you check under the entry for "scratchcake" in the Second Edition, you'll find an explanation of "from scratch." It means, of course, from the absolute beginning, without any advantage, in this case without benefit of a prepared soup mix. The phrase comes from the lingo of 19th century sporting events, specifically the "scratch" drawn in the ground which served (and often still does) as the starting line of a foot race. A runner "starting from scratch" received no handicap or benefit -- whatever the contestant accomplished was due solely to his or her own efforts. So, too, is a cook baking a cake without the benefit of Betty Crocker or her ilk said to be making it "from scratch."