Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Play around with the ingredients. Don't like meat...try a veg combo? Want shrimp? Try it!
Tonight I wanted to make these as I haven't made them in a long time and thought they would be tasty and simple for a lazy night. We're both exhausted after a busy few nights.
Last night when we were coming back from dinner in Baltimore, someone decided they didn't need to yield when merging into our lane...crunch! Ugh...but all is fine and good and our little doll will be brought in to be fixed up next week.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
The last goal...take a cooking class.
I headed out to Sur La Table in Pentagon City today to take a Beginning Pasta class.
Sure, I've made pasta before. Sometimes it was sublime and great...other times...not really.
I figured if I was going to improve my homemade pasta skillz, I should have someone who knows what they are doing show me...it worked! Within minutes I knew exactly what I've been doing wrong...so look out world.
Our teacher was great, Chef Elizabeth Madigan. She used to run the Sur La Table in Richmond, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu.
She gave us the basic pasta recipe...
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
a large pinch of salt
Done and done....
well, run it through the food processor until it forms a ball. It might need a small bit of water, but you'll know....once the pasta dough forms a ball in the machine, let it go for about 30 seconds, allowing it to 'knead.' Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes or so. Then roll it in your pasta maker.
The thing I learned today. You need to treat your dough rough. I used to treat it more like I would a shortbread dough...lovingly and gentle. No wonder it would fall apart one me.
After the dough, the class made four different sauces and I tried them all...the reason this is huge...there were mushrooms! I tried them. (I'm still alive!) And a sauce that was all peas. Now as freaked by that, but thats a new one to me!
Here are the sauces...you'll see at least two of them on here in the future:
Cappellini with Roasted Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives
Linguine with Lemon Cream and Prosciutto
Pappardelle with 1000 Herbs
Open Lasagne with Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce
My group made the Pappardelle with 1000 Herbs....it was a really interesting, tasty pesto...in a nutshell.
The linguine had lemon and orange zest and about 800,000 peas. But it was really good. The prosciutto was great, but I a little wigged out by the color of it after it warmed in the sauce...a brownish grey...but very tasty.
The Cappellini had the tomatoes roasted with oil, balsamic and some herbs. Then it was all tossed with pine nuts and cheese.
The lasagne was really mushrooms, cream, Marsala and cheese. Really the sauce itself was tasty. The mushrooms were fine..but really I don't care for them still.
To get us started, here the is...
Pappardelle with 1000 Herbs
1 lb pappardelle
3/4 lb plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/4 inch dice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup fresh basil
2 TB fresh tarragon
2 TB fresh mint
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh sage
1 tsp fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp fresh marjoram
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Roughly chop all the herbs and put into a food processor with the cheese and olive oil. Wizz together until it creates a nice smooth sauce.
When the pasta is done, drain and add to the pesto and tomatoes...toss. Taste to adjust seasoning and serve immediately with additional cheese.
Now, the fine print of my experience....made me a little grumpy.
I went in and sat at a table, there were four other people. An old man with eyebrows that were trying to reach out an grab me, an old lady and a kid were together. Then there was a woman. Chef ordered the three sets of tables to break into four. Each group doing one sauce.
At this point the old lady turned to the woman and I and said..."We're TOGETHER"...essentially ordering either the woman or I to leave...I really didn't mind moving to another table, but it was said in a tone that was completely unacceptable.
So I moved to another table. I didn't want to be with someone who was going to be like.
I moved to the back table, a table assigned to make the papardelle...which I wanted to make anway.
But This table was going to present it's own challenges. But ultimatley it was a great group and I only had to have a little patience. One person at my table was handicap and in a wheel chair, her mother and grandmother were there with her. They were fun. We joked and they were impressed with my cooking skillz...HA! As I said though...a little patience was needed, I couldn't just jump in and do everything. So I spent a lot of time standing back while everyone got their turn.
I would so do a class again. The classes are small, 12 people for the hands on classes. I'm sure the demo classes are larger. AND...I signed up to recieve information on how to be a kitchen volunteer...to help prep for the students and then to help as the students do their thing....I'll see what's in it for me...but it might be a fun opportunity.
OK, I need to go in case this newest thunderstorm knocks out the web! Stay DRY!
AND go see AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH...I finally made it...great movie...depressing, eye opening and well done. I remember a major environmental push when I was a kid and it was mentioned in the movie. I hope this causes enough dialogue to get people thinking and acting again...the future is pretty grim if our course isn't changed!
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Now I need to clean up.
And my new sign over the kitchen threshold!
Friday, June 23, 2006
Actually our restaurant was Mike's Crab House in Riva, MD, across the water from Annapolis. It was good and didn't take much to get there...we did end up on the 'scenic route' there AND back! I would go again.
Although tasty...I prefer my crab to come in cake form.
One funny story...we were sitting there eating and we were covered in crab and BBQ and butter and all that sort of stuff...and on the table was this little bowl and we thought, great, a water bowl to wash our fingers....I started and someone else followed....oops...it was vinegar! Our fingers were clean, but damn did we stink.
BTW: did you know that the latin name for the Maryland Blue Crab translates into "beautiful swimmer that is savory." Just makes me giggle.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
(sorry, no measurements again)
Hot Packets, Tex Mex Style
1 tube of poppin' fresh crescent roll dough
Roasted red pepper, sliced
Unroll the poppin' fresh and push two of the triangles together to form a square. Lay in some chicken, peppers, salsa and cheese. Fold over to make a little pocket, squeeze and seal the edges.
Beat one egg and brush ontop, sprinkle on a little extra cheese. Bake for about 17 minutes. Yum!
These were good. I'd maybe make these again. I won't say, but my chicken was cilantro lime chicken and I used homemade salsa...but I think if you buy all premade ingredients, you can make this really super easy.
Terri in WI....what is the filling your mom uses? I think there are a bajillion options as to where you can go with this.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
So, I did.
I don't have a recipe that I work from so I'm going to try to remember the recipe here.
1 can of whole, peeled tomatoes (dice the tomatoes, reserve all juice)
1/4 onion, diced fine
1 TB olive oil
In a small sauce pan heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the onions, when they are soft and translucent add the tomatoes and their juice. Simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes.
For the cutlets:
1 lb chicken cutlets
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2-1 cup shredded or grated parmesan
1 TB dried parsley
1 TB dried oregano
2/3 cup flour
pinch or two of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
and tasty mozzarella cheese, sliced
You'll need three plates:
1) this plate will have the flour, salt/pepper and cayenne pepper
2) this will have both eggs, lightly beaten, with about 1 TB of water
3) this plate will have the breadcrumbs, parm, parsley, oregano, all tossed together
In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat until shimmery.
Take a cutlet, dredge in the flour, coating both sides. Transfer to plate 2 with the egg, quickly dunk and allow excess egg to drip off. At plate 3, lay the eggy cutlet into the mixed crumbs/parm and gently press, flip and repeat-coating both sides with crumbs and parm.
Carefully place the cutlet in the hot oil and allow to cook until golden brown and delicious. Flip and repeat. IF you have thin cutlets, this will only take a few (about 3) minutes per side. Transfer to a warm, paper towel lined plate.
First, preheat your oven's broiler.
Pour the sauce into the bottom of a small baking sheet (mine was about 5x9 inches). Lay the cutlets on top of the sauce, gently overlapping each other. (I was able to fit three cutlets in my baking dish.) Once laid out, place the mozzarella cheese on top. Place in under your broiler for a few minutes...watch carefully so the cheese doesn't completely liquidate and burn. When done, allow to rest for a minute. Serve Hot!
Golden, brown & delicious!
You might notice a roasted bell pepper in the back...that's for tomorrow!
They were really tasty!
Fresh and hot out of the oven.
Make sure you get a little of that sauce on top.
Next time out the sauce will get some fresh basil to bring it up a notch, otherwise it was perfectly simple and really tasty.
Monday, June 19, 2006
*The Northeast Native American tribes revered blueberries and much folklore developed around them. The blossom end of each berry, the calyx, forms the shape of a perfect five-pointed star; the elders of the tribe would tell of how the Great Spirit sent "star berries" to relieve the children's hunger during a famine.
*In the winter of 1620, the Pilgrims established a settlement at Plimoth (spelled Plymouth today). Many perished during the first few months, but those that survived went on to build homes and establish farms. Their neighbors, the Wampanoag Indians taught the settlers new skills that helped them survive. They showed them how to plant corn and how to gather and use native plants to supplement their food supply. One important native crop was blueberries!! The colonists learned from Native Americans how to gather blueberries, dry them under the summer's sun and store them for the winter. In time, blueberries became an important food source and were preserved, and later canned. A beverage made with blueberries was an important staple for Civil War Soldiers. In the 1880s a blueberry canning industry began in the Northeast USA.
*North America is the world's leading blueberry producer, accounting for nearly 90% of world production at the present time.
*July which is also known as National Blueberry Month
*Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA) have found that blueberries rank #1 in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables.
*One serving of blueberries is equal to one-half a cup.
So what's with all the silly blueberry facts? I mentioned at the end of yesterday's post that we might have created a new cocktail!!! Guess what's in it? YEP, blueberries. We were at the BLUE MOON in Rehoboth having a drink before dinner. The night before I had clementine flavored vodka and soda, a light, tasty, cool drink. When we got up to the bar at BLUE MOON, J-lo saw they had Blueberi Vodka, I wanted to keep the theme going from the night before and asked for a blueberry vodka and soda. J-lo had the same thing. The light blueberry scent gently perfumes the air before you have a sip. Tasty! But needed another flavor note, we chatted and thought a little simple syrup to help enhance the blueberry flavor. OK, sounds good, but let's go a step further and go with a touch of blueberry syrup, garnish with blueberries and a sprig of mint...Really good.
A light flavorful cocktail with just a touch of sweetness.
2-4 tsp of blueberry syrup (below)
2 oz Blueberi Stoli Vodka
Garnish of fresh mint leaves and fresh blueberries
To make the syrup, in a small sauce pan simmer 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup sugar, until all the sugar is dissolved. Add 1 1/2 pints of blueberries, simmer about 5 minutes or so. The blueberries will pop open and melt into the hot syrup. Let the mixture come up to a boil, carefully watch the mixture. Stir in the juice of 1/4 of a lemon. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Gently push the pulp through the sieve. Allow the syrup to cool. Yum. And probably really good on pancakes!!!
For the drink: put the syrup in the bottom of your glass, add a few cubes of ice. Carefully pour in the vodka, top off with soda water and garnish with a sprig of mint and a few blueberries.
All the blueberry facts above lovingly ripped off from The Blueberry Council.
After washing and drying our potatoes, I tossed them in olive oil, salt, pepper and dried thyme. I put them on a medium baking sheet into an oven preheated to 400 degrees. About 30 minutes in, I turned them and let them go for another 15 minutes. Perfect!
I served our Fingerling's with Chicken & Leeks, doctored up a bit.
In a nutshell, the chicken was coated lightly in flour, salt/pepper and Herbs de Provence and sauted in butter. When golden brown, I placed them on a bakin sheet in the oven to stay warm and finish cooking through. Spoon out any goopy bits from the pan and tossed in the leeks. Stir and saute until just soft in the remaining butter. When soft, sprinkle a tsp of flour and stir to incorporate. Cook for a minute, add the wine and bring to soft simmer, it will thicken. Stir in the juice of a quarter lemon. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve the chicken with the leeks spooned over the top. Quick & tasty!
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Well, we're back from our weekend to Rehoboth and are well rested. I was so tempted to take a nap when we got back, but I didn't...so it's going to be an early night for me. But I wanted to give a quick update on our adventures.
1) Our B&B was really nice.
2) Food was alright. Lunch the second day was a Crabby Dick's where we had seafood. Dinner that night was at the Purple Parrot, where we ate way too much. We shared two bowls of onions rings and I had BBQ ribs that were awesome. I ate way to much of it.
3) We went to the beach after dinner that night...walked in the sand and touched the water, but no ocean swimming.
4) Shopping was great!
Here's a quick round up of the shopping:
FYI: We think we've invented a new cocktail. I'm not saying anymore until we actually work a recipe out. If it works...new HOUSE DRINK! Stay Tuned!
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Quick scan of the appetizer menu...mozzerella sticks are inappropriate, I'll have those.
They had an extra crunchy coating of breadcrumbs and crushed pretzels. A whole new level of deliciousness. I highly recommend trying that if you ever make Mozz Sticks. Maybe it was the booze talking, but I inhaled each one and only shared a tiny bite with J-lo.
I have used crush pretzels before, long ago, on chicken. Pretty good, but there was something missing and I hadn't gone back to try it again...I'm going to revisit this scenario later!
Friday, June 16, 2006
All that said, I still didn't do too much cooking last night. I went to a favorite from when I was growing up. A simple dinner mom would throw together. Kielbasa with potatoes and corn. Mmmmmm!
For the two of us, I had a package of kielbasa, sliced up, one large baking potato cut to a medium dice, 1/2 an onion diced and corn. The potatoes were particularly good this time around. I sauted the onions solo with a dab of olive oil until they were golden, then set aside. Another dab of olive oil, potatoes, salt. pepper and paprika...let that go for awhile until done. Incorporate the onions. YUM. The sausage, just slice and cookin a hot pan with a touch of olive oil until crisp and golden.
Alright kittens, I'm packing my bag and heading to the beach for the weekend. I'll be back Sunday and hope to get good posts up next week! Have a safe and lovely weekend.
Monday, June 12, 2006
The chicken...in a small bowl mixed: 1 TB dark brown sugar, 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp kosher salt, 3/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground tumeric. Then sprinkle and rub onto a pound of chicken. I had a pound of chicken tenders, I grilled those on our little grill.
The chicken was served with a fresh little salsa...mix all the following in a bowl and let stand while cooking the chicken: 1/2 fresh pineapple cut into small cubes, 4 large radishes trimmed and cut into a small dice, 1/2 orange pepper cut into a small dice, small handful of cilantro chopped, 2 TB fresh lime juice and kosher salt and fresh pepper.
My Giant sort of sucked today, so I didn't have radishes or cilantro...I improvised...needed something green, something crunchy, something red and something a little peppery. So I used a little celery, parsley, tomatoes and jalapeno...all cut into a small dice.
And then for dessert...this weekend we made a trip to Eastern Market (more in a day or two on that) and I picked up some fresh strawberries...there was some left over pineapple and I found a jar of NUTELLA>>>>! YEAH BABY! Better than fondue!!!!
A good dinner when all is said and done. The chicken was good...and the salsa was interesting, I'm sure we'll have this again...but in the meantime, Fine Cooking had two other spice rub/salsa combinations I might try!
Friday, June 09, 2006
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Deconstructed Pesto Pasta
serves 4-6 as a main course
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 lb shapely pasta
6 TB Olive Oil
8 Cloves of garlic, thinnly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup coarsley grated Pecorino Romano
2 cups basil leaves, cut into 1/4 inch strips
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a 10-inch skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until golden in places, about 5 minutes. Pour onto a plate and set aside to cool. When the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to directions until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, gently heat the olive oil and sliced garlic over low heat in the same skillet used for the nuts, stirring frequently, until the garlic starts to turn golden, 4 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 3/4 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
You'll notice I added a pinch of red pepper flakes for shits and giggles!
When the pasta is done, scoop out 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and reserve. Drain the pasta and return it to the post. Pour the garlic and olive oil over the hot pasta and toss. Pour the reserved pasta water into the skillet, swirl it around, and pour it over the pasta. Toss well. Add the pine nuts and the cheese and toss again until thoroughly mixed.
Transfer to a serving bowl and let cool for 5 minutes. Then, just before serving, toss in the basil. Pass extra cheese around for those who want more.
OK, so when all is said and done...this was a fine experiment in deconstruction and understanding the quality of your ingredients, but it just isn't as good as taking all the ingredients and whirling together to create your own homemade pesto. Don't get me wrong, I ate two bowls of it and am fully stuffed, I enjoyed it, but in terms of a sublime meal, ehh!
Sunday, June 04, 2006
About a month ago, I made some cookies and took plenty of pictures but I only posted the one photo for the cookie I shared the recipe for....I never posted the other recipe because I wasn't fond of the final results...but I really liked this photo...with the sun shining in.
Anyway, Ms. Brown was generous and gave up her secret Apple Spice Cake recipe and I need to share it with you.
APPLE SPICE CAKE
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 TB ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3 to 4 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (3 cups)
1 cup chopped assorted nuts, such as pecans and walnuts (optional)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Caramel Sauce (see below)
Nonstick cooking spray with flour
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 12-cup bundt pan with cooking spray;
2. Working over a large sheet of parchment paper, sift together flour,
cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; gather sifted ingredients into center of
sheet; set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment,
combine vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs; mix on high speed until lemon
4. Fold reserved parchment in half lengthwise; with mixer on medium
speed, gradually shake in dry ingredients until just incorporated.
5. Add apples and, if desired, nuts, to batter; mix to combine. Add
vanilla, mixing until incorporated.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until a cake tester inserted in
the center comes out clean, 75 to 90 minutes.
7. Remove from oven, and cool slightly on a wire rack.
8. Invert cake onto rack; turn cake right-side up to cool completely on
rack, and serve drizzled with caramel sauce.
Makes enough for 1 cake
1 cup light-brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1. Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook,
stirring, until thickened to desired consistency.
Both recipes by Dorothy Mae Brown
NOTES: I don't have a bundt pan, so I thought it would make sense to use a muffin pan and turn these into Apple Spice Muffins. Well, it sort of worked. These don't really rise, so they are more of a flat top muffin...but they still taste great. If they are to rise, I'm sure they need just a smidge of baking powder. Outside of that change, this is a great recipe with lots of great taste! The caramel sauce...it's wonderful...sinful...decadent...great for this cake, or ice cream...or just for a taste when you're looking for a snack in the fridge. All that said, the cake is great even without the sauce. So for those of you who like the sweet, but not the SWEET, don't worry about the sauce....or just put a light drizzle on the cake.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Boeuf À La Catalane
Beef Stew with Rice, Onions and Tomatoes
Serves 6 people
Takes about 3 hours from start to finish
Here is a hearty dish from the Spanish-Mediterranean corner of France.
¼ lb of bacon
2 TB Olive Oil
3 LB lean stewing beef cut into cubes
1 ½ cups sliced onions (1 large onion)
1 cup white rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 to 3 cups beef bouillon/stock
2 cloves mashed garlic
½ tsp thyme
Pinch of saffron
1 crumbled bay leaf
1 lb. ripe red tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced and chopped (1 ½ cups)
Extra bouillon as needed
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 325.
Cut the bacon into ½ inch slices and simmer in 1 quart of water for 10 minutes. Drain, dry and brown lightly in oil in the skillet. Remove with a slotted spoon to a 3 quart oven proof casserole.
Dry the beef on paper towels. Heat the fat in the skillet until almost smoking then brown the meat a few pieces at a time. Place in when browned in the casserole.
Lower heat to moderate, and brown the onions lightly. Remove them with a slotted spoon and add to the casserole.
Still in the same fat, stir the rice over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes until it turns a milky color. Scrape into a bowl and set aside until later.
Pour any remaining fat out of the skillet, add the wine and stir for a moment over high heat to dissolve any browned bits, pour into the casserole.
Add stock almost to the height of the meat. Salt lightly. Stir in the pepper, garlic and herbs. Bring to simmer on top of the stove, cover tightly, and set on the lower rack of the oven to simmer slowly for 1 hour.
Remove casserole from oven. Stir in the tomatoes, bring to a simmer on top of the stove, cover and return to the oven for an additional hour or so of very slow simmering. When the meat is almost fork-tender, remove casserole from oven. Raise oven heat to 375.
Tilt casserole and skim off fat. You should have 2 to 2 ½ cups of liquid; add more stock if necessary. Stir in the rice. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove, cover and set again in lower third of the oven. Regulate heat to keep liquid at a full simmer for 20 minutes so the rice will cook. Do not stir the rice. Ad the end of this time it should be tender and have absorbed almost all the liquid. Remove from oven and correct seasoning.
**May be prepared in advance to this point. Set aside, cover askew. To reheat, cover casserole and place in a pan of boiling water for about half and hour.**
Just before serving, delicately fold the cheese with a fork into the hot beef and rice. Serve from the casserole or on a hot platter with green salad, french bread and a big fat red wine.
Outside of the time commitment, this was pretty easy to make. There is a great aroma that permeates your house!
Overall this was very tasty. Some changes...a little more thyme and tomatoes. No parmesan...it didn't heighten the flavors, it had a certain pungency to it, but nothing transcendent. Maybe bring the wine to 1 ½ cups of wine, instead of 1 cup, and then a touch less broth. I would finish the dish on the stove (cooking the rice) instead of the oven, a little easier to manage the cooking process. The beef was super tender and flavorful, so well worth the time. As for simmering the bacon in water. That's interesting. In Julia's book, she says she does that for American bacon because of its extra saltiness and smokiness...the simmering pulls that out. It seemed to work, but not so much that it is worth the extra step. Oh, and an extra pinch of saffron, I think I was too conservative and didn't want to use too much, but in the end, you couldn't taste the pinch I added. Bon appetite!
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Mmmm, it's sooo good! Did you like it? Did you make it? Let us know what you think, what you did? When we get comments from everyone, I'll post them all together. Please feel free to leave the comments in this post!