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.

Showing posts with label Book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book. Show all posts

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Remedy Quarterly Article

In case you missed it, my first ever true byline in a publication came out last month. Pick up a copy of the "Risk Issue" of Remedy Quarterly to check it out! Lots of fun food stories and recipes involved in the cute magazine.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Inspiration from around the Web

The world has been offering up some truly inspiring recipes these days, so I thought it was high time I passed on a few recipes from others that I've loved lately so you can get in on the delicious action. These are all foods that will find their way onto my table again and again.

April Bloomfield's Oyster Pan Roast (from John Dory Oyster Bar)--if I died today, I would be happy that at least I had gotten the chance to eat this. One of the best dishes I've had, perhaps ever. This recipe from the NYT gets you pretty close to the actual dish served at the restaurant. I'd add a bit of butter at the end to finish it off.
Honestly, though? Just buy A Girl and Her Pig already. There's not a bad thing I've tried from this one and it is all simple, lovely fare that you can't get enough of (yes, even the veal kidneys. No lie.).

While we are on the subject of cookbooks--please also pick up a copy of Plenty from London's Ottonlenghi. You won't ever struggle with eating vegetables ever again. One of the best cookbook purchases I've ever made.

Corn with Miso Butter and Bacon from Savour Fare. She takes a slightly complex David Chang recipe and simplifies it so it is a breeze to prepare and let me tell you--you will be buying every ear of corn you see from here on out to make this again and again.

So, so easy refrigerator pickles from A Way to Garden. For some reason the husband and I have been on a pickle binge and these may be the best ones yet.

Brown Butter Tomatoes from food52. Can you even call this a recipe? Somehow, though, the caramel notes of the cooked butter coating the fresh tomatoes will make this one of the greatest simple treats you've tasted all summer long.

What have you been loving lately?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Food Book Fair

Many days I have to pinch myself to make sure it's all real that I am here and living well and happy in New York City. How lucky am I to live in this place with such a bounty of opportunities. Especially with an abundance of food culture. Not only are there countless restaurants of innumerable cuisines, but there are a large, growing number of food artisans and specialty shops. There are also many food conferences. Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending one of the days of the Food Book Fair, held at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg.

Straight from the website, The Food Book Fair was "the first ever event bringing together food publications from around the world alongside a dynamic set of events celebrating food writing, reading, and activism." There was a small bookshop set up in the lobby of the hotel filled with cookbooks and food publications, along with a table set up for book signings. Then there were series of panels occurring all weekend long with food personalities discussing everything from food and science to food and art to food and technology. I was able to attend three of the panels. The first discussed food studies with four food studies professors/teachers. This was a very interesting discussion, but unfortunately it covered such a broad spectrum of topics that I never felt like we were able to delve in as deep as I would have liked on any of them. I left feeling intrigued and excited, but wanting more.

Next up I sat in on a conversation with April Bloomfield and the co-author of her new cookbook, A Girl and Her Pig, JJ Goode. This was such a great talk about how these two worked together to write a book that was truly from April's voice and heart. I was excited about the cookbook before, but once the panel was over I really couldn't wait to get my hands on it. And, thanks to the bookshop, I didn't have to! Not only could I pick up a copy of the book, but I also got the opportunity to meet April and JJ and have a short chat while they signed it for me. Looking forward to spending lots of time curled up with this one!

The final panel of the day featured Harold McGee (author of On Food and Cooking) and Maxime Bilet (co-author of the tome Modernist Cuisine) discussing food, science, and modern gastronomy. This is another conversation that I wish could have gone on much longer. How can you discuss all of this plus the process of putting together Modernist Cuisine in just one hour! I was definitely disappointed to not get more time to listen to Mr. McGee speak but grateful for the short opportunity, as well as the chance to also get his autograph in my own copy of On Food and Cooking.

Overall I felt like I had an inspiring, thought-provoking day in my food life. And on top of it all, I was in Williamsburg on a Sunday which meant some time wandering around the Brooklyn Flea (and all of the yummy food vendors), an afternoon snack at Bakeri, and dinner at Marlow and Sons. Not a bad way to end the weekend!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Corn Bisque

We’ve had a slew of gorgeous spring weather here in New York City. Luckily I’ve been able to take advantage of it with a picnic in the park with the husband, some nice long runs, days off to bask in the sunshine and warm winds. As a matter of fact, right now I’m lounging right next to the window with the fresh spring smells drifting in. I could take a nap and be perfectly content, but choose to plod through and update my blog for my loving readers instead!

In actuality, though, the clean, crisp air is making me feel productive and refreshed.  I love the energy that those first really warm days bring with them. They also bring along a craving for lots and lots of vegetables. Unfortunately we still have a bit of time to go before spring produce starts to show up at the markets and honestly I’m a little worn out on kale and the rest of the winter bounty. So to satiate my cravings I turned to some frozen veggies.

Frozen corn may not be as sweet and succulent as the fresh stuff come July, but it will do in a pinch and will transform itself into a creamy, delectable soup that just fits that in-between seasons mood I’m in.
As a creamy soup like this just isn’t quite hearty enough for a full meal around our place, I paired this with Chicken Wings with Mushrooms from Ferran Adria’s The Family Meal. A to-die for, fast, deeply flavorful dish that I started craving again as soon as it was gone. Anyone who needs some inspiration for easy weeknight meals should pick up a copy of this cookbook. It’s my newest go-to fave.

Corn Bisque
5 servings

2 TB olive oil or cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
24 oz. frozen sweet corn, thawed and drained*
1 t. fresh thyme
3 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1 c. cream
4 TB butter
Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat. Once hot add the onion and cook until transparent, about 4-5 minutes. Then add the celery and carrots. Cook until they are tender, about 6-8 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the corn and thyme, stir, and cook for about 2 minutes more. Then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Then remove the pan from the heat and use an immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup. 

After it is pureed, pass it through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Return the strained soup to the dutch oven and return to the stovetop at medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and then add the butter. Stir until melted, then add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.
*If desired you can save back 1/2-3/4c. of the whole corn kernels before beginning the recipe to add to the soup when you add the cream to give added texture.

Ferran Adria's Chicken Wings with Mushrooms

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On Killing a Lobster: A New Year's Resolution

On New Year's Day I work up sore, hung-over, bruised (all thanks to an immensely tough night at work) and desperately needing something to eat. Dim sum called to me, with its wide variety of food and endless pots of tea. But I knew that dim sum is never quite right with only two people to partake. So instead the husband and I creaked out of bed and headed to Shanghai Café.

We dug into porky soup dumplings (of which I could have eaten 2-3 orders of 8 by myself), fried wontons, crispy pig ears, rice cakes with mushrooms. I felt satisfied, yet not weighed down like I would have had we gone for the burgers/fried food that tends to be our go-to after a long night of drinking. I have a feeling soup dumplings will soon replace all other hangover cravings as #1. If only I could come by them more easily (meaning a jaunt down my block instead of a subway slug to Chinatown).

As we were eating away the pain of the night before, Joe declared a resolution for himself in the year that had just begun--to eat something new at least once a month, but preferably once a week. To really take advantage of the fact that we live in a city where you can get almost anything your heart desires and so many things it never before knew it did. Day 1 resolution complete: soup dumplings and pig's ear.

The idea of doing something new took hold with me in a slightly different way. I plan on tagging along on Joe's adventures of new foods, but for my own account I will be cooking something new at least once a month in the kitchen. What better way to expand my craft and better understand this thing I love so much. So I will be hunting down recipes/techniques I have never attempted or searching out ingredients which have never crossed my kitchen's threshold. I am excited for the personal education it will bring.
To start my resolution off right, I came across a recipe in The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Child for Homard a l'americaine.

Lobster. And not the lobster meat that you can buy precooked, and toss into the pot none-the-wiser where the meat came from. This is live lobster that you kill and chop up just before putting it into the pan and lighting it on fire with cognac (or bourbon in my case) and  then tossing along with some vegetables and garlic into a rich, creamy tomato sauce. I must admit I was excited by the prospect while simultaneously feeling completely overwhelmed and skeeved out by it. I want to feel connected to my food and to understand it to the core, which I believe means understanding all the processes involved in getting it from its original form to the plate, from harvesting/fishing/hunting/slaughter to butchery to prep to heat. I have been present at the killing of animals before, even helping to butcher a pig that I had helped raise (and is still to this day the tastiest pork I have ever eaten). I grew up around hunters and ranchers. This is nothing new to me. Doing the deed itself is.

I suppose that's not 100% true if you think to include oysters and shellfish. Somehow I feel like this is a little different, however. These guys don't have little eyes that sit in judgment as you move towards them with your sharp knife. These things don't jump around on the counter after you have made the first cut, cracking through the shell {shiver}, while you hop around the kitchen, screaming curse words to make a sailor blush. And then continue to jump around even when you have finished chopping them up and plopped them into the hot oil in the skillet. As you are eating the mussels you don't remember how they shook their claws at you as you carried them home in a paper bag on the subway.
It's judging me right now...

So it is different, yet really the same. You are still ending a living creature's life. I know so many people have a problem with this--some therefore decide to no longer eat meat, which is a choice I respect despite not wanting to make that choice myself. Some continue to eat the meat and yet keep themselves separate from the journey of their dinner to their table--they don't want to see the chicken feet or the fish heads. Give them the fillets and chicken strips and don't remind them where it came from. This is the mentality that frustrates me every time. Respect your food, especially if you are going to eat meat. By understanding the process and its journey you are able to give it thanks for its life and for its contribution to your own. Perhaps it sounds silly to thank the lobsters for their lives as you are taking them, but somehow the food tastes sweeter when you are able to do so.

I hate to say that this wasn't the most delicious lobster I have ever tasted (after the effort and mental trauma that went into it, don't you wish it was??). More practice and experience will one day make this good dish great but the sense of accomplishment I felt as I plated the dish more than made up for its shortcomings. I conquered something new and have one more thing I can check off my "to learn" list. Not a bad way to start off 2012.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


These are my purchases over the last couple of weeks: Ferran Adria's "The Family Meal", Daniel Humm and Will Guidara's "Eleven Madison Park Cookbook" (signed by them both, by the way. Got to meet them when I picked up the book a few days early at Sur la Table), and the second edition of David Chang's "Lucky Peach". So much inspiration and beauty that my head may explode.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


A few years ago, when I picked up Julie Powell's "Julie and Julia", I was shaken a bit to the core. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey of the book and put it down feeling inspired. It planted a tiny seed in my brain that is, in part at least, responsible for my transformation and for my current career path through life. Yes, it's just a book, but something in Julie Powell's words spoke to me in a way that was necessary at that point in time. So you can imagine how excited I was when her newest book, Cleaving, hit bookshelves.

In Cleaving Julie is once again on a culinary mission, albeit a slightly different one than her previously impossible task of cooking through the massive tome of MTAOFC. This time around she has set out to understand the ins and outs of an art that had all but disappeared, but luckily for her (and for all of us, really) seems to be slowly eeking back into existence: butchery.

Again Julie Powell had me laughing out loud--her candor and honesty can be shocking but is definitely funny. But there are also moments that she seems to punch you in the gut and take the wind out of you with her words. However, a lot of times I felt the story to be choppy and a little hard to follow. Some of the metaphors were so weak they had me literally rolling my eyes in frustration. The way the story unfolded frustrated me, but it does seem like that is just exactly the way Julie P. would tell the story to you in person--tumbling out in bursts until the end. I don't want to give too much away, but I think it is no secret that a large part of this book is about her struggles within her marriage. As much as I realize that this is the way real life is, part of me took this really personally and it made me sad (why I take such personal offense to strangers' love lives breaking down is a mystery--rather ridiculous, I admit, but there you go...). I think there's that small part in a lot of us that just wants real life to be a little closer to a fairy tale and it never really is.

Overall, though, I enjoyed reading as Julie learned and grew in this new world for her. I also love the recipes interspersed throughout the book--I feel like more memoirs (even ones not about food) should have recipes included. They give me a better understanding of a person and a memory that the author is trying to convey. These also made me ready to run out to my nearest butcher and order enough meat for every meal for the next couple of weeks--no vegetables or starches necessary. I've spent the time since finishing the book envious of all those cuts of meat Julie went home with. I've also once again stepped back to review where I am along my personal path. I feel pretty damn good about where I am these days. I'm not sure what exactly it is about Julie Powell's words that brings that out in me but I'm appreciative of it just the same.
(And yes, you are allowed to leave me comments telling me how corny that all sounds.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"Julie and Julia"

"I didn't learn to cook until I was 32. Until then, I just ate."
Julia Child

Monday night I got the opportunity to see a pre-screening of "Julie and Julia" (thanks so much to Cathy over at Not Eating Out in New York). To anyone who knows me (or who has read this blog for a while) it's no surprise that I love the books "Julie and Julia", "My Life in France", and that I love Julia Child. I also love Meryl Streep (but who doesn't?) and Amy Adams. Needless to say, I was pretty stoked for the film.

Since the movie hasn't hit wide release as of yet, I'm not going to do a big review. I will just say that I loved it. And that Meryl Streep knocked it out of the ballpark kitchen. And that I left the theater filled with hope and inspiration. Especially as an inching-towards-30, married actress waitress, living in the big city feeling a little like I'm drowning while trying to find myself. I may not know what my future holds, but I do know that it is not too late to find my calling and lead my version of a successful life. Plus, like Julie and Julia, I have a remarkable husband standing beside me giving me his faith and eternal support. Pretty damn lucky, I am.

And, until I find my path, I can just keep eating.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fried Zucchini Blossoms, Grilled Lamb Chops with Tomatillo Relish, and Cheesy Broccoli

I just finished reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. I think this is a book that every single consumer should read, even if you are someone who doesn't love cooking. The ideas and information in this book are critical to the future of our planet and environment.

And, like anything I read about food, it inspired me to try something new in the kitchen. I went to the Union Square greenmarket again, this time dragging the hubby along to help me decide what to have for dinner (and maybe to help carry some things as well...). We ended up with some lamb, baby fennel, yellow plums, tomatillos, broccoli, zucchini blossoms, and some Mean Beans from Rick's Picks (green beans in a cayenne dill brine). I love how a meal can just reveal itself to me as I wander around the market. And these local, in-season meals always seem to be the best.

Fried Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms
10-12 zucchini blossoms
8 oz. ricotta cheese
2 TB baby or regular fennel, chopped
1 TB of chopped fennel fronds
1 egg
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 c. flour
1 1/4 c. sparkling water
1/2 c. cooking oil

Gently wash the zucchini blossoms to remove dirt and bugs. Pat dry and set aside.
In a small bowl mix together ricotta cheese, chopped fennel and fennel fronds, egg, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Place mixture into a pastry bag or a plastic baggie and cut off the end.
In another bowl, mix together flour and sparkling water until smooth.
Heat cooking oil in a saute pan over medium/high heat.
Carefully take each zucchini blossom and open the petals and remove the pistils with a knife, your fingers or scissors. Squeeze in about 1-2 TB worth of ricotta mixture into each blossom. Close up the top of the petals by twisting them together. A little ricotta mixture may leak out from between the petals and this is ok.
After all of the blossoms have been filled, dip each one into the flour/soda mixture and place into the hot oil. Cook until light brown and crispy, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate with a paper towel to drain oil. Serve immediately.

Grilled Lamb Chops with Tomatillo Relish
Grill Rub:
2 t. garlic powder
2 t. herbs de provence
1 t. coriander seed powder
1/2 t. cardamom powder
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper

Mix together. Rub onto Lamb chops and allow to sit at room temperature for one hour before grilling.

Tomatillo Relish
2 yellow plums, chopped
2 tomatillos, chopped
1 t. shallot, minced
1/8 c. of a medium heat spicy pepper, chopped finely
2 TB olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together all ingredients in a small bowl. Allow to sit for 1 hour before serving. Also great with chips or tacos.

Cheesy Broccoli
1 head broccoli, chopped
1/2 c. milk
8 oz. velveeta, chopped
1/2 c. shredded monterrey and colby cheese
4 Mean Beans (or a few slices of jarred jalapenos), chopped finely
salt and pepper

Heat about 2" of water in a saucepan until boiling. Add the broccoli and cover the pan and cook until broccoli is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Drain immediately after cooking.
In a separate saucepan, heat milk over medium heat. Do not bring the milk to a boil. Once milk has heated through, add the cheeses, Mean Beans, and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until cheese has melted. Add the broccoli to the pan and stir to combine.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Spanish Tapas Night: Tortilla Espanola, Aioli, Croquetas

There are some days when I walk out of the door in the mornings, take a deep breath, and smell Spain. It's something about the crispness in the air, but a little bit of an acidic, bitterness as well. It transports me right back to Ronda, walking over the gorge, looking out onto the mountains where the sun is rising on my morning walk to school. Or to the gazebo overlooking the cliff where my friends and I would hang out, play chess, write in our journals, and watch the sun set. God I miss it there.
Someday I will go back and show my husband around the town and country that helped me to learn a lot about who I am. But for now, I've got to be content with traveling in a little simpler way...via food.
When I moved back home from my semester abroad, one of my Christmas gifts from my little brother was this cookbook:

I absolutely love it. It is nothing fancy, and the recipes aren't either, but they are truly Spanish. There are tapas that I actually ate at the little bars and not just someone's updated/fancy ideas of what Spanish tapas are. But there are also the recipes for things that I would eat every day in my host mother's home. Just by opening it's pages I feel like I'm stepping across the ocean.

So this night I decided to make a couple of my husband's favorites from the tapas restaurants we've been to, but are also the two things that I remember most from the bars and from my home away from home in Spain: Tortilla Espanola and Croquetas. They are simple but so full of flavor and definitely full of memories.

Tortilla Espanola
(from Cooking in Spain)
Note: I have had to "translate" the quantities a little because they are in metric.
4 medium Potatoes
3 TB chopped onions, optional (in my humble opinion, onions shouldn't be optional in this recipe ;)
1/4 c. olive oil
4-5 eggs
1/2 t. salt

Peel the potatoes and either cut them in dice or into very thin slices. Heat the oil in the frying pan until very hot and add the potatoes, and onions if desired. Stir and continue frying without letting the potatoes brown, stirring them frequently. With the edge of a metal spatula or skimmer, keep cutting into the potatoes, dicing them as they cook. When they are quite tender (about 15 minutes) place a plate over the frying pan and drain off the oil into a heat proof container. Place the potatoes in a bowl. Beat together the eggs and salt until very well combined an stir the eggs into the potatoes and mix well.

Return the oil to the frying pan and let it reheat. Now pour in the egg and potato mixture. Let it set on the bottom, regulating the heat so it doesn't brown too fast. Use the spatula to firm the edges of the tortilla all around it's circumference. Shake the pan frequently to keep it loose on the bottom. Place the plate over the pan, drain off the oil and turn the tortilla out onto the plate. Return the oil to the pan, adding a little more if necessary and slide the tortilla back in to cook on the reverse side. Remove the tortilla when it is golden by sliding out onto serving plate. Serves two as a main dish or four to six as an appetizer or first course.

(recipe from my grammar teacher in Spain)
1 egg
1 TB sunflower oil (I used canola)
juice from 1 lemon
1 clove garlic
about 3/4-1 c. olive oil

Mix together the egg, sunflower oil, lemon juice, salt, and chopped garlic in a food processor or using a hand/immersion blender (I prefer to use an immersion blender because that is how I learned). As you continue to blend, add the olive oil very slowly, one drop at a time, so the mayonnaise doesn't break. Continue adding until the aioli is the desired consistency.
(This time around I let my aioli be thinner than a traditional mayonnaise so I could use it easier as a sauce for my tortilla. It still is great tasting this way and isn't quite as thick.)

(from Cooking in Spain)
3 TB oil
1/2 small onion, minced
4 TB flour
1 c. milk
1/8 t. grated nutmeg
1/2 t. salt
2- 7oz. ham steaks, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten with a little water
1 1/2 c. dried breadcrumbs
oil for frying
for half of my croquetas I also used 4 oz. of goat cheese

Heat the oil in a saucepan and saute the minced onions until they are transparent. Do not let them brown. Stir in the flour and let them cook briefly, then whisk in the milk. cook, stirring constantly until this sauce thickens. Season it with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir in the ham (and the goat cheese if using. I did half with and half without.) Spread the mixture in a dish and refrigerate it until solid. Place the beaten eggs in a dish, the breadcrumbs in another. With moistened hands, form the croquette mixture into balls, cylinders or cones. Dip each croquette first in breadcrumbs (or flour), then in beaten egg, then again in breadcrumbs, taking care that they are well covered. Allow to dry in a cool place for 30 minutes. Heat oil in deep fryer and fry the croquettes, a few at a time, until they are golden, about 3 minutes.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"Tender at the Bone" and Cocount Bread

There are books that keep you entertained. There are books that you can't put down. And then there are books that inspire you. Ruth Reichl's "Tender at the Bone" is all of the above. This isn't only a book about food, it is about the fellowship involved with food and shows how food isn't just nourishment for the body, but nourishment for the soul.

This is the first of Ruth Reichl's books that I have read and already I am in love. Through these stories you can see that she holds herself open and is ready to inhale all adventures and sensations that come her way. Everywhere she goes she meets someone new who isn't just an acquaintance, but becomes a friend and she somehow finds a way to open these people up and learn so much from each of them. It is an amazing reminder to look around yourself and not let opportunities and experiences get away--even the small ones because there is always something new to learn.

Within the book are recipes that help to mold the stories and give you more insight into Ruth's life and the lives of all of those she encounters. Recipes like this are a more clear and insightful look into someone's life than a photograph. You can smell their smells, taste their flavors and feel their sensations of kneading the dough or breading the cutlet of meat. If you close your eyes you can almost imagine yourself cooking alongside them.

This recipe is from Ruth's college roommate, Serafina. The coconut bread is just slightly sweet--not nearly as so as banana bread. It is a wonderful accompaniment to the Garlic Lime Chicken and Spicy Corn Casserole that I made (both also recipes from friends). It's also nice with a little butter and a good book.

Coconut Bread
(from "Tender at the Bone")
1 c. warm water
1/2 c. sugar
2 pkg. active dry yeast
4 c. white flour, plus extra for kneading
1/2 pound butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 t. salt
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 medium sized fresh coconut (I was feeling particularly lazy and used 1 c. of shredded coconut instead. I am sure the bread would taste better with fresh, but the shredded still tasted good)
Put water in a large bowl. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add yeast, stir, and let sit a few minutes until it foams.
Add 1 1/2 c. of the flour and mix until smooth.
In another bowl, cream butter, eggs, salt, and vanilla until very well mixed.
Remove coconut from shell, chop and put in a blender. Grate finely and add to butter mixture.
Add coconut-butter mixture to flour and mix until in forms a smooth dough. Add remaining flour, a little at a time. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead until it forms a smooth, elastic ball, about 10 minutes.
Put dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled.
Punch down, shape into a free form loaf, and set on an ungreased baking sheet. cover with a towel and let rise 1/2 hour more. Preheat oven to 350.
Bake for 50 minutes to an hour. Let cool on a rack.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Chicken and Noodles, Spinach in Beurre Blanc

I have been reading My Life in France by Julia Child and feel that I have been channeling her spirit. She is energetic, full of life, and has an incredibly deep passion for food that is hard to not catch yourself when reading her words. So, I had to pull out my French Chef Cookbook and take advantage of all of the hard work and research that Julia put into these recipes. I was desperate to spend the whole day cooking.

I had already decided it was time to break in the Kitchen Aid, and therefore had decided to make my grandmother's homemade chicken and noodles and some mashed potatoes. I love how comforting the chicken and noodles are and they are one of my favorite dishes of all time. The mashed potatoes make a perfect pairing.

While flipping through The French Chef Cookbook I came across the perfect dessert to satisfy my need to use the Kitchen aid, and my need to do some French cooking: Charlotte Malakoff au chocolat, an amazing chocolate almond cream molded in ladyfingers. I also decided I needed to try out a beurre blanc sauce and decided to serve it with some veggies. I was thinking about asparagus, but since there was none to be found at the market, I went with spinach instead. I don't care that this sauce has way too much butter in it, I will definitely make it again and again--it is amazing!

Since the Charlotte recipe is pretty intense, I will post it separately, but I wanted to talk about it here since it was involved in the deflowering of my KA. All of this together was a pretty full day of cooking, but it felt great to be back in the kitchen after the long holidays keeping me away.

Grandma's Chicken and Noodles


2 c. flour

3 egg yolks

1 whole egg

2 t. salt

1/4-1/2 c. water

Put flour, yolks, egg, and salt into a bowl and mix with hands. Slowly add water by tablespoon full until dough can be formed into a ball. Allow dough to sit for at least 10 minutes (very important!). Separate into 4 parts. Using flour, roll out each section until it is very thin and long (about 6"X12"). Use a pizza cutter to cut noodles (can be as thin or thick as you like. They will plump up some when cooking. I like to make mine a little less than 1/2" wide). Place noodles aside and allow to dry at least one hour before adding to soup (the longer you let dry the less they will stick together in the soup).

Whole Chicken

garlic salt

chili powder

season salt

garlic powder

bay leaf

2 chicken bouillon cubes

Place chicken in large pot and cover with water. Add seasonings and bring to boil. Cover and cook until chicken is tender--about 1 hour. Once chicken is finished, take out of water (reserve water for soup) and let cool, then separate the meat from the skin/bones and finely chop. Add the meat back into the water with the noodles and add salt and pepper to taste and cook for at least one hour. If you prefer, you can place the chicken and noodles into a crock pot at this time and cook on high for a few hours or on low all day.

Spinach in Beurre Blanc

(sauce recipe from Julia Child's "The French Chef Cookbook")

1/4 c. wine vinegar, preferably white (I used red and it was fine)

2 TB lemon juice

2 TB dry white vermouth

1 TB finely minced shallots or scallions

1/2 t. salt

1/8 t. white pepper

2-3 sticks (1/2 -3/4 lb) chilled butter cut into 1/4" pieces (I ended up using 2 sticks)

2 c. fresh spinach leaves

Boil the vinegar, lemon juice, vermouth, shallots or scallions, salt and pepper in the sauce pan until liquid has reduced to 1 1/2 tablespoons. Remove sauce pan from heat and immediately beat in 2 pieces of chilled butter with a wire whip. As butter softens and creams in the liquid, beat in another piece. Then set pan over very low heat and, beating constantly, continue adding successive pieces of butter as each previous piece has almost creamed into the sauce. Sauce should become a thick, ivory cream, the consistency of a light hollandaise. Immediately remove from heat and season to taste. Add spinach, stir together for 30 seconds and serve.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Fried Apples 'n Onions and Steak topped with Basil Pesto

I am a nerd (if the Harry Potter posts didn't already tip you off...). Most of my childhood was spent with my nose in a book and to this day I have a hard time not getting emotionally involved and completely sucked up into the story I am reading. As a child, I especially loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and read them often. One month, when we received the Scholastic Book order form (which I would pour over every time it came and dream about owning all of those books), I stumbled upon "The Little House Cookbook: Frontier foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Stories" and had to have it. I loved looking through this book and imagined making everything in it, but eventually it got put in with my mother's other cookbooks and I forgot we had it. In college, when the cooking bug bit, my mother sent me this book to help me in my cooking endeavors and to remind me of the times we cooked together.

And I have finally made a recipe from this book: Fried Apples 'n' Onions. It was one of Almanzo's (Laura's husband) favorite dishes, and is a great side dish. The flavors all work really well together and it isn't too sweet and the bacon on top makes it amazing. I made a couple of changes to the recipe, mostly because the recipe in the book would feed about 10 people (even with the smaller version that I'm posting here, Joe and I each had two large servings and a little left over).

Fried Apples 'n' Onions
5-6 pieces of bacon, chopped
1 extra large yellow onion, sliced very thinly
2 tart apples, cored and sliced thinly (you want to have an equal amount of sliced apples and onions)
1 Tbsp. Brown sugar

Fry bacon in a skillet until brown and crisp. Set them aside. Drain all but 1 Tbsp. of fat from the skillet, then add the onion slices. Cook them over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Cover with apple slices in an even layer. Sprinkle brown sugar over all, cover the skillet, and cook until tender, a few minutes more. Stir only to prevent scorching. When finished cooking sprinkle with bacon pieces and serve.

I served the apples n' onions with steak topped with a basil pesto. The nutty, herb flavors in the pesto pair amazingly well with a grilled steak. I didn't have a real recipe for the pesto, but threw the ingredients in until it looked right. I blended together 2 large handfuls basil leaves, 1 small handful of walnuts (there were no pinenuts at the store, and I wasn't about to leave the house and wait for another subway just for pinenuts), 1 clove garlic. Then I added about 1/2-3/4 cup olive oil and a handful of grated parmesan cheese.