Thursday, November 26, 2009

Big Day

See youn the flip side, you can follow me on Twitter if you are bored; lin on the right.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A French Tease

A sampling of what's coming down the line for tomorrow's dinner...

Perfect! Onions caramelized in the oven. A delicious base for the richest onion soup you can imagine. Next step, add stock, broth, cider, wine, herbs and simmer.

Beouf bourguignon after 3 hours in the oven. Next step, strain out the goodies and add braised pearl onions and mushrooms. Will be served on mashed potatoes.

Stay Tuned for more goodies...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cracker Please!

I have to start this post with an apology, I don't remember where this recipe came from. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a Martha Stewart recipe, but I have no idea. What I do know, these are delicious and worth trying. Let's get started.

Cheddar Rosemary Crackers

You need three tablespoons for fresh rosemary, which has been finely chopped. I think that's about 1/2 a cup of unchopped rosemary. I still think rosemary is one of my favorite herbs, based solely on aroma alone.

Delicious butter. Use the best butter you can get. Here we have Kerrygold, unsalted Irish butter. Chilled.

Mix together the flour, butter, cheddar & parm, seasoning (cayenne pepper and this time I tossed in a small bit of chipotle chile as well.) One egg yolk.

Mix together with some cold water, then add the rosemary. The dough will be crumbly and won't pull together. On the counter you will dominate the dough. You will make it do what you want. You must be aggressive and you force. Pushing and kneading, the dough will come together.

Roll the dough into a log shape, wrap with paper or plastic wrap and chill for a couple hours.

Slice the dough into 1/4 inch disks.

Bake until golden brown and delicious. As they come to room temperature, I think the flavors are best. They are tasty fresh from the oven, but I think they are best about an hour or two later.

Ta Da! You don't get too many with one batch. So, don't snack on more than one or two before your guests arrive, or you won't get to share. I think the recipe yields 2 dozen.

Cheddar Rosemary Crackers

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekend Catch Up

Bummer. Can't seem to find my camera. I think it's in a location in which I am not. Go figure.

We had a great weekend. Saturday I cooked and prepped all morning for a meet & greet for the local LGBT community at our house. It was a lot of fun, with lots of yummy treats. I'll get the photos up soon.

I made:

Cheddar Rosemary Crackers


Cheesy Sausage Balls


Turtle Cheesecake Dip

Pumpkin Pudding

We were also treated to some warm spinach artichoke dip and warm taco dip.

Sunday was for the most part, a day of rest, with the main adventure being the shopping for groceries for Thanksgiving Dinner.

I spent some time going over all the recipes and figuring out what we needed versus what we had in the pantry. Thank god I keep a stocked pantry, or I would have been out a few hundred extra! That being said, I managed to keep the bill below $200 for a five-course French dinner. Two ingredients along were over $50. Damn French with their highfalutin tastes! But I'm so frakkin' excited!!!!

Tonight I start the cooking and prep work. Stay tuned for more adventures.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cozy Braised Chicken

The other night the Fabulous Becca & Mia from Red Letter Days in San Diego rolled into town on a cross country drive. As I continue to lobby the creation of Red Letter Days East Coast, I thought I'd try seducing the ladies with some braised chicken and plenty of sparkling wine!

It might take some time, but I'm pretty sure it worked!

Start with the recipe here.

Braised Chicken with Shallots, Fennel and Bacon

Get some of your ingredients ready. Fennel. Shallots. Carrots. Bacon.

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Sear until the skin is crispy in the reserved bacon fat! Don't worry, the chicken doesn't cook through, just get the skin crisp and some of the fat is rendered out.

Pour out the fat from the pan, reserving one to two tablespoons. Start sauting the vegetables.

Carrots, Fennel, Shallots with an herb blend of thyme, sage, rosemary and parsley.

Snuggle the chicken into the vegetables and add some dry white wine and chicken broth, bring to a simmer, cover and place in the oven for an hour.

Remove the chicken from the braising liquid and scoop the veggies out to the side. Boil the liquid until it's reduced down to about one to two cups. Stir in a tablespoon or two of butter. In the last minute or two of simmering, add the bacon. Pour over the chicken.

Serve steaming hot.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chinese Style BBQ Pork

Last night was a very tasty dinner that required a little advanced planning. This pork roast requires 24 hours of marinading for the best flavor. I would be interesting in trying to let the pork marinade for 48 hours. There was some good flavor going on, but I'm wondering if longer is better in this instance.

I served the pork with my carrot/cilantro salad.

For the salad, I started with the recipe located here as inspiration. I used the vegetable peeler to make ribbons from the carrots. The cilantro was very tender, so I didn't chop it, just torn it apart. (mistake!) The dressing was lime juice, rice vinegar and olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. I didn't have any sesame seeds or sesame oil; which I wanted to use for an additional layer of flavor and texture. The salad was good, except the cilantro really was over powering! Next time, no matter how rustic and easy I'm trying to make something with cilantro, I will chop it.

The pork was really easy. Mix, pour, marinate, roast, rest, slice, serve. And you can do most of the work the night before. Don't be tempted to add an additional star anise pod, you'll see in the recipe, it's flavor is strong and aromatic, which is good, but like the cilantro in the salad, can be over powering. Use just one! Next time I make this, I might consider brush with some reserved marinade/sauce, then placing under the broiler for a minute prior to serving, to get the outer layer extra caramelized and crunchy!

Leftovers of this pork would be divine in stir-fried rice!

Chinese Barbecued Pork
Adapted from: 5 Second Rule

3-4 lb pork loin roast, cut into 2 large pieces
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 TB dry sherry
1 tsp 5-spice powder
2 scallions, smashed
2 stems cilantro, smashed
1 pod star anise

Mix sugar, soy sauce, sherry and 5-spice.

Place pork in a dish or zip top bag, pour soy mixture over the pork. Add scallions, cilantro and star anise. Zip the bag shut and give everything a good solid squish around.

Place in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Turn and squish once in awhile.

Preheat oven to 350. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and parchment (the sugar will make a huge mess as it caramelizes, the foil makes clean up easy, the parchment prevents the roast from sticking and tearing the foil). Remove pork from the marinade and place in the center of the baking sheet.

Strain and reserve the marinade. Simmer reserved marinade for at least 10 minutes, watch carefully as it reduces to a thick sauce.

Roast pork for 30 minutes, basting once or twice with reserved sauce. Flip the pork, baste again, and roast for an additional 10 mintues. Until the pork caramelizes and just begins charring at the edges.

Transfer meat to cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Drizzle some additional sauce over the sliced pork.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tweet Tweet

I am planning to Twitter my way through Thanksgiving. Feel free to follow me. I have opened my profile up to the public and am now getting the hang of this Twiting business.


Fair might get an earful about a lot of random stuff not related to this blog or food in general.

The Hot Tamale Pie

Last night's dinner was a simple, tasty one. Tamale Pie. This is a throwback to the days when I was cooking Rachel Ray on a regular basis. I think this was a Rachel Ray recipe, anyway. If it was, I feel it's a strong example of what she does right and where there could be improvement. As is, the recipe is easy, fast, anyone can try it and make it work. Dinner in a snap. Prep, toss in the oven, clean up, serve and enjoy. Where there is room for improvement is in the flavor department. The recipe can come off as a little bland, at least for me. So, you will need to start experimenting with flavors to bring the dish up a notch of two. Add some additional spices to base. Last night I added some shallot, coriander and chipotle chile powder. Combined with the onions, garlic, peppers and cumin, we now have a great base. The cornmeal topping, well, that is really bland if you don't play around. I cooked my topping with cream, chicken broth, Adobe seasoning, plenty of black pepper and at the end, stirred in some cheese. Now we're talking!

Of the few times I've made this, last night was spot on. We were very pleased.

You'll notice in the photos, I made the Tamale Pies in individual ramekins. With half the recipe I had 6 individual pies. I do this more as a convenience for saving extras for lunch. Just cover, reheat and go. It is also helpful with portion control. Except we each ate TWO instead of one! We didn't have a side, give us a break! Anyway, you have beef, tomatoes, corn, onions, peppers and lots of good, rich spices. Basically, a solid chili, without the soupy base.

Top the pies with cooked cornmeal/grits and sprinkle a little extra cheese on top. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until golden and bubbly.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Catch Up

I know I know I know...sorry. Geesh. I'm alive! I'm cooking. I'm just not blogging! I'm not giving it up...just siphoning my creative energy into a new side project...and it's wiping me out. I can't believe how many people have contacted me in the past week or so to make sure I'm alright. Love you all very much!!! Thanks for thinking of me!

So, to quickly catch's been a few weeks since I've posted anything. We've had a few good things happen in the kitchen at Parkway Manor, and a few not great things.

This was ok. It's supposed to be a Bavarian Creme Cupcake...the custard set up almost to a tofu texture, it was nasty...tasted good, but nasty texture. The cake was good. The chocolate ganache didn't really work. I ended up sticking it in the fridge overnight and whipping it with the mixer the next was tasty! Almost a rich chocolate mousse, with small chunks of chocolate in it. I was hoping these would have been fun for halloween. I tried to make the custard orange, and use a darker chocolate for the ganache. I had no red food coloring, only yellow. And the chocolate...once it was whipped, it was such a pale brown, there was no hope...

Here is a base for Roasted Red Pepper Soup. It's divine. Really tasty. Garlic, shallots, lots of red peppers, tomato and broth. Finish with a little cream.

The start of a salad. I was hoping for some Napa Cabbage, but Giant is ghetto sometimes and you can't get all the good stuff you need. So, it's green leaf, shredded carrots (w/ a peeler, instead of a grater) and cilantro.

The salad with finished with some toasted almonds, chunks of chicken and a soy-ginger dressing. Mmmm!

This was redonk! Super good. 2005 was a great year in Napa for cabs and this bottle, one of the most expensive bottles of wine I've bought ($25!!!), was so worth it. Please note, I rarely, rarely spend more than $10-$15 on a bottle of wine. This was a HUGE splurge, but divine!

Oh the carnage! The awesome Cab was served with Filet Mignon with a red wine/shallot pan sauce and white cheddar mashed potatoes. There was a salad on the side with pears, cashews, dried cherries on romaine with a balsamic basil dressing. Stupid Good!

Another soup base. This is the starter components for an amazing Tortilla Soup. The base is what takes the time...and that's only because it goes whiz whiz in the processor. Next time I make it, I'm making a double batch of starter, so the second pot can be just minutes away.

The final soup. The broth is phenom! But what makes it are the accoutrements! Chicken, Avocado, Cheese, Tortilla Chips, Sour Cream (if you have it, we didn't), Cilantro, Fresh Lime Juice. It's spicy, it's smokey, it'll make your sinuses sing with joy as they clear up. I really want to make this again...soon!

So there you have a it. A snap shot of the past few weeks. Part of the delays have to do with multiple nights away from home for work or when we go out for one reason or another. The other day, I've mentioned before, I'm trying my hand at writing fiction and my goal is finish 50,000 words or more by December 31, 2009...I have a ways to go, but I'm struggling through, as much on a daily basis as possible.

The holidays are here. They aren't even around the corner. If you are participating in a Thanksgiving Dinner, whether you are hosting or you going to a potluck, you should be making your plans now. Do you shopping as soon as you can, at least for the pantry staples and then just get the fresh produce and meats next week. The stores are madhouses and I like to do what I can to avoid them!!! I am really excited about Thanksgiving, even though I still don't have my menu fully worked out. I'm by-passing the traditional feast and going in a different direction all together! Stay tuned.

I have a full menu this week; Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. I'm out for work on Monday and Friday. So postings will hopefully pick-up, but they might still be slow.