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.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Appetizer Phyllo Shells

I love worcestershire sauce. For that matter I love any sauce. My mom used to make a marinade for chicken with worcestershire sauce mixed with butter and herbs and I would sneak a few tablespoons full to eat on its own. I will pretty much do this with any sauce. I'll just sit and eat it with a spoon--no bread required.

I had the thought the other day of how good a worcestershire cream sauce would be. I wasn't sure what to serve it with, though. But then I saw the beautiful roasted onions in last month's "Food and Wine" and knew I had a match.

I also wanted to do something a little different (since Joe isn't a big onion fan and just in case the onion/worcestershire combo didn't work out) so I also did some balsamic soaked figs with blue cheese. And I put everything in pre-cooked phyllo shells that are the perfect appetizer containers. If I did these again I would try using regular cipolline onions instead of the frozen, however (but that would require me living next to somewhere where I could actually find them....).

Roasted Onion Phyllo Shells
1/2 c. sour cream
3 TB worcestershire sauce
1/4 t. celery salt
1/4 t. season salt
frozen cipolline onions, thawed and patted dry
olive oil
salt and pepper
prepared phyllo shells (pre-cooked)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Mix together the sour cream, worcestershire sauce, celery salt and season salt. Set aside.
Toss the cipolline onions with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for about 20 minutes, flipping once.
Place 2 roasted onions in each phyllo shell. Cook for about 8 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Top with worcestershire cream and serve.

Balsamic Fig and Blue Cheese Phyllo Shells
Dried figs
balsamic vinegar
blue cheese
prepared phyllo shells (pre-cooked)

Cover the dried figs with the balsamic vinegar and soak for at least 3 hours.
Place blue cheese and one fig in each phyllo shell. Cook at 350 degrees for 8 minutes, or until cheese has started to melt.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chicken and Chorizo Paella

As I said in an earlier post, one of my goals this year is to try out traditional/classic recipes in order to expand my culinary knowledge. I think this serves a couple of purposes. 1. I want to learn some new techniques that maybe I've never tried (or get better at ones I have). 2. I think by understanding the basics of a recipe it is easier to alter it to suit your needs/desires. And 3. I think that the more basic recipes you know the easier it becomes to create new ones.
Lesson #1 for me in my personal cooking school: paella. I chose this for a couple of different reasons. I've mentioned (probably way too many times....) that I studied in Spain for a while in college and I've made a few different recipes that I picked up there. But I haven't ever attempted a paella. And I actually don't think that I've even eaten paella since I've been back.

Also, I also hate to admit it, but I have never made real rice (except for risotto a couple of times). Every time that I have made rice it has been the minute/instant kind. For some reason I've been intimidated by real rice. It was time to try it out for real.

A couple of tips I picked up: leave the rice alone when it is cooking! I have a habit of being way too impatient with my food and stirring it/flipping it/ bothering it too much. I promise the rice will turn out better if you leave the lid on and don't stir it. Also, make sure to do the last step to form the socarrat on the bottom of the rice. This is the crunchy, well cooked rice on the bottom layer (socarrat means toasted). It's the best part of the paella! And finally, make sure to have friends--this recipe makes a lot!

Chicken and Chorizo Paella
3 chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2" chunks
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. celery salt
1 t. season salt
3 links chorizo, sliced
3 TB olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 15oz. can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c. Valencia rice
1/2 c. white wine
2 c. chicken broth
1 TB chopped cilantro
1 TB chopped parsley
pinch of saffron
3/4 c. frozen peas, thawed
1 8oz. pkg. frozen quartered artichoke hearts, thawed

Mix together the garlic powder, paprika, celery salt and season salt. Toss with the chicken cubes and set aside.
Heat olive oil over medium-high in a large skillet. Add chorizo and saute. Remove the chorizo and add the chicken to the pan. Cook chicken on all sides until cooked through. Remove chicken from the pan. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and saute. Add the tomatoes to the onion and garlic. Cook until the all the ingredients begin to come together, about 10 minutes.
Next, add the rice to the tomato mixture. Stir for a couple of minutes and then add the chicken broth, saffron, parsley and cilantro. Bring the rice to a simmer, moving pan around a little to even out the rice and vegetables. Simmer for about 8 minutes, then stir back in the chicken and chorizo and add the artichokes and peas. Place a lid on the pan, turn down the heat, and cook until the rice is ready, about 25 minutes (depending on the rice). Leave the lid on the pan and don't stir the rice during this time. Once the rice is ready, remove the lid from the pan and turn up the heat. Cook until you begin to smell the toasted rice, about 4 minutes.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Liz Logelin Foundation

I just wanted to take a moment to point out a new link up in the left-hand corner of my blog. This will take you to the website for the newly founded Liz Logelin Foundation. The foundation is there to help those parents and children who have lost a spouse or parent to get through the first year after their tragedy. It is run by Matt Logelin and some awesome supporters. If you haven't heard Matt's story, you can hear it here: www.mattlogelin.com. I think this is a great organization to support and urge you to check it out.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

BLT Avocado Bowls

Lately I have been eating a lot of avocados. It's the perfect snack. Slice it up and sprinkle it with some salt and pepper. Yum.
One day when I was cutting up an avocado I thought of how great it would be to use one as a "bowl". It's a perfect little serving dish of it's own when you leave on the skin. And avocado would taste delicious with a lot of different fillings. So this is the first take on this idea. I'm sure it won't be the last. This version would be a great side dish for a BBQ or picnic. I served it with some cheeseburgers.

BLT Avocado Bowls
2 avocados
salt and pepper
lemon juice
3 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
1/2 c. shredded lettuce
1/4 c. diced tomatoes
2 TB mayonnaise
1/4 t. dried parsley
1/8 t. garlic powder

Cut the avocados in half, leaving the skins on, and remove the seed. Sprinkle with lemon juice and salt and pepper.
Mix together the bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, parsley, and garlic powder. Spoon 1/4 of mixture into each avocado half.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Roast Cajun Pork Two Ways

So far, I'm doing pretty well on a couple of my New Years resolutions. For one I just ran my first race of the year yesterday morning. A five mile run through Central Park. I had to drag myself out of bed at 5:45am after getting home from work the night before at 2am just to get there, but I did it! And I am so glad I did. It was a cold morning, but the wind was light and there was no rain or snow so it was a nice morning for a run. And I felt really great when I was finished.
So now I am one race down, eight more to go so I can qualify for automatic entry into the 2010 NYC Marathon. I'm hoping to get in through the lottery this year, but if I don't at least I know I'll be able to run the following year for sure.

One resolution I (obviously) am not doing so hot with is keeping up with the blog. I've been cooking and taking pictures and I even have a back-log of things I've been wanting to blog about, but just haven't been doing a very good job of keeping up with the actual writing. Oh, well. I'm sure at some point I'll get back into the grove and do a few posts a week for a while before slacking off again. That's just the way my blogging seems to go.

For this post, you get two different meals from the same cut of meat. I cooked the Roast Cajun Pork one night and we had Cajun Pork Paninis the next night. I love using leftover roasts for paninis. Just pick out a fun spread and a fun cheese and you're set!
For the roast pork, I used an injector set that I got from my mom for Christmas. It came with a Creole butter that I used, but you can make your own pretty easily.

Roast Cajun Pork
2.5 lb boneless pork loin roast
3/4- 1 c. creole butter*
2 TB Cajun seasoning
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Using an injector, inject the creole butter into the pork tenderloin all over. Rub the loin with the Cajun seasoning and salt and pepper.
Place the loin on a roasting rack in a roasting pan and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 250 (or 260/275 if your oven will not go that low). Roast until the temperature in the deepest part of the meat reaches 150-155 (this will take anywhere from 1-2 hours depending on the thickness of the meat. Check the temperature the first time around 45 minutes.) Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.
*for the creole butter mix 1 c. of melted butter with 4 TB creole seasoning. A good creole seasoning mix here.

Roast Cajun Pork Paninis
4 small ciabatta rolls, sliced in half
4 slices of roasted Cajun pork
4 slices of manchego cheese
4 TB red pesto

Spread the red pesto onto the inside of the ciabatta rolls. Place the meat, cheese, and other half of the roll together to form a sandwich. Cook in a panini press or on a grill pan with a weight on top until the bread is toasted and the cheese has begun to soften.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Herb and Prosciutto Scallops

First up, I would like to commend all of you bloggers that have been able to update your blogs over the holidays. I just don't know how you have the time. I, however, just continue to slack off on my poor blog. Maybe I should make a New Years Resolution for how often to update this thing...but I'd never keep it.

One resolution I've had, and will continue to have, is to try new things in the kitchen. For the coming year I've decided to choose a bunch of traditional/classic recipes to focus on in order to better understand some basic cooking methods. And I'll continue to make up new recipes. These resolutions are easy to keep. I've always got a lot of new things bouncing around in my head--and there's always inspiration to be had by just wandering around the grocery store when I have no clear idea of what to make. That's where these Herb and Prosciutto Scallops came from.

These are so easy to make but feel fancy--especially with the balsamic reduction drizzled over top. And they feel a little more so when served next to this Bagna Cauda with artichokes and Belgian endive:

Herb and Prosciutto Scallops
(with Balsamic Reduction)
3/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1 TB butter

6 TB butter
1 t. thyme
1 t. sage
1 t. rosemary
14 U10 scallops
7 slices prosciutto

Heat the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the vinegar heats up turn down the heat to just keep the vinegar from bubbling. Stir occasionally. Cook until the balsamic has reduced and is a good drizzling consistency, about 40 minutes. Stir in the cold butter right at the end of cooking.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop the thyme, sage and rosemary and mix together with the butter. Rub the herb butter all over the scallops. Take 1/2 of each slice of prosciutto and wrap around the outside of each scallop. Place scallops in a baking dish and bake about 12-15 minutes. Turn the oven up to broil and broil the scallops for about 5 minutes, or until the prosciutto is crispy. Serve drizzled with the balsamic reduction.