I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Fried Chicken and Risotto Carbonara

As much as I like to try to cook new things, I can't help how the cold weather lulls me into making comfort food. All I can think about are hearty dishes or things mom used to make--anything that really warrants curling up on the couch under a blanket to eat.
The other day this craving manifested itself in fried chicken. I have made fried chicken before, but I have never done it right--and it has never turned out this good. There's nothing fancy about it, but it's damn good.
I decided to pair it up with a risotto. I have never made risotto before and was racking my brains trying to come up with how I wanted to prepare it, since there are endless possibilities. I ended up coming across some friends discussing pasta carbonara and decided to work this into the risotto. The creaminess of the risotto works so well with the creamy carbonara sauce and the smokey bacon adds great flavor.
Fried Chicken
Chicken pieces (I used all legs because that is what I had, but you can use whatever you like)
1 1/2 c. flour
1 t. salt
2 t. pepper
2 t. paprika
2 t. season salt
1 t. garlic powder
2 eggs, beaten
2 c. cooking oil

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Mix together flour and seasonings in one bowl and place eggs in a separate bowl. To coat the chicken, roll in flour, dip into beaten eggs, then roll again in the flour. Once oil in pan is ready and hot, place coated chicken in pan, cover with a lid and cook, turning once, until chicken is cooked through and crispy (about 20 minutes).

Risotto Carbonara
2 c. raw spinach
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 stick butter
4-5 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1 c. arborio rice
3 c. chicken broth
2 eggs
salt and pepper
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese

In a small saute pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes, then add spinach and stir until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.
In one saucepan, heat the chicken broth until simmering, then turn down to very low heat.
In a separate saucepan cook chopped bacon over medium-high heat. Remove bacon when cooked and set aside. Add onions to bacon grease, turn heat to medium, and cook for approximately 3 minutes. Add rice, stirring for about 2 minutes. Stir in 3/4-1 c. of the chicken broth and stir until broth is completely absorbed. Gradually stir in remaining chicken broth 3/4-1 c. at a time, making sure liquid is absorbed before adding more.
In a bowl beat eggs together with salt and pepper. When rice is finished cooking, add spinach and garlic, bacon, and the eggs and stir to bring everything together. Add parmesan cheese and stir. If desired, add more parmesan cheese on top when served.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My First Thanksgiving

I've been a naughty blogger.
I know it's that time of year when everyone is trying to be their best--Santa is coming soon, after all--but it is also that time of the year when everyone falls behind on certain obligations. With Christmas shopping, extra work, the cold weather tempting you to just curl up on the couch and get nothing accomplished, and with your hot water in your apartment not working and keeping you from any clean dishes to cook with, it may be difficult to keep up with a blog. So I will try to redeem my blogging self by hopefully finally making some of the updates I have been meaning to get to for a while. Starting with Thanksgiving, only a few weeks late.

When I thought of my first Thanksgiving here in the city, I had dreams of inviting all of my friends over who couldn't make it home, either, and making a huge spread where everyone could stuff themselves to oblivion and drink entirely too much and enjoy one anothers' presence (perhaps more than they would enjoy their families...). But my dreams were crushed upon learning I would have to work on Thanksgiving day. I would have to give up my holiday to wait on those who refuse/can't cook dinner for their own families and choose instead to sit in a crowded, loud restaurant around other families who do the same. I guess it's a good way to do things if you really don't want to speak much to Uncle Al--you can sit at the opposite end of the table and ignore him through most of the meal, while I deal with his crazy requests. Just how I want to spend my holiday--dealing with family that isn't even my own.

Once I moved past my complete bitterness, I decided I would take advantage of my day off before Thanksgiving and prepare a feast for Joe and I to enjoy when he got off of work. It maybe wasn't exactly how I pictured my first Thanksgiving I would make on my own, but it turned out to be very nice anyway.

I made a turkey breast with lots of butter, seasonings and beer, which was very moist, but not quite as flavorful as I'd have hoped. Next year I hope to improve on my turkey skills. I also made a pretty basic green bean casserole, fried potatoes and the recipes that follow. The pumpkin cake was made to take to work to ease the pain of working on a holiday. All in all, it turned out pretty well.

Sweet Potato Praline Casserole
(from Trish)
6 lrg baked yams cooled
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/8 teas. grated nutmeg
1/8 teas. cinnamon
1/8 teas. allspice
1/2 c. cream
1 well beaten egg

Praline Topping:
1 stick of butter
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 T. flour
1 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. brandy
Peel potatoes and cut into 1" pieces. Spread in greased shallow baking dish. Melt butter in small sauce pan and add nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and cream. Remove from heat and add beaten egg. Pour over potatoes and mix well mashing some of the potatoes. Spread out evenly.Topping: melt butter in sauce pan. Whisk in brown sugar, flour, pecans and brandy. Mix until smooth over low heat. Spoon over potatoes. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
I cut this recipe down quite a bit because it was just for 2 people and used canned sweet potatoes because with everything else I was making I felt too lazy to cook them on my own.

Dinner Rolls
(recipe from my grandmother)
1 package yeast dissolved in 1/4 c. warm water
2 eggs, beaten, room temp
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. salt
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1 cup warm water
4 cups flour
Make sure ingredients are room temperature! Mix together all of the ingredients in a bowl. The mixture will be sticky. Cover and let rise in a warm, non-drafty place until doubled in size (about 2 hours). Lightly flour countertop and dump dough onto surface. Knead for just a minute or two. Form the dough into small balls (about 2" in diameter) and place on baking sheets, giving them room to rise again. Cover with a dish towel and let rise again until doubled, another 2 hours or so. Then remove the towels and bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.

Caramel Apple Pie
(recipe from my mom)
1 pie crust
7-8 Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
3/8 c. sugar
3/4 c. Brown Sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. nutmeg
caramel pieces (about 15, unwrapped)

Mix together all ingredients and place in pie crust.

1 1/2-2 c. oats
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 stick butter
cinnamon and nutmeg

Mix topping ingredients together (should be a sticky consistency). Pat on top of apple filling, covering whole pie. Seal edges of crust with foil. Cook pie at 350 for 70 minutes. When pie is finished, drizzle top with caramel sauce (about 1/2 c.)

Pumpkin Cake
(from Chandra)
2 16 oz. cans pumpkin
1/4 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 c. packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 can evaporated milk
1 yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1 c. chopped walnuts

Combine pumpkin, salt, spices, brown sugar and eggs. Add milk, mix well. Pour into a greased 9X13" pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix on top. Pour melted butter over cake mix. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Sprinkle nuts on top and bake for 20 minutes more. Test in center of pan with knife to see if pumpkin is done. Knife should come out clean. Top with whipped cream if desired to serve. Store in refrigerator after cooled.