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, December 18, 2008

Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies

Christmas really snuck up on me this year. I had every intention of baking like mad and making tons of candies and sweets and snacks. But now I'm only two days away from heading home for a week and just don't have any time. Hopefully I will make up for my slacking off in this department once January rolls around--I've got a lot of recipes piled up that I want to try! Although, I suppose my waistline is thanking me for putting off making all of these treats...

I did find the time to make some of these Ghirardelli Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies to send in with Joe for some of his coworkers, though. I stumbled across this recipe in a Gourmet magazine ad and just couldn't wait to try it. I have to admit that the Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe is one of my faves, so I was really hoping that this recipe would live up to that one. And it didn't disappoint. Chocolatey, rich, with just enough crispiness on the outside and a soft middle. The perfect type of cookie.

Ghirardelli Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies
(Ghirardelli)
Yield: 24 cookies
12 ounce(s) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
11 1/2 ounce(s) 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
6 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 cup(s) sugar
1/3 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
1 cup(s) chopped walnuts

In double boiler over hot water, melt bittersweet chocolate chips and butter. In large bowl with electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs and sugar until thick; stir into chocolate mixture. In small bowl, stir together flour and baking powder; stir into chocolate mixture. Gently mix in semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts. Using a sheet of plastic wrap, form dough into two logs, each 2 inches in diameter and about 12 inches long. As dough will be quite soft, use plastic wrap to hold dough in log shape. Wrap tightly; refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm. (Dough may be frozen; thaw in refrigerator before proceeding with recipe.) Heat oven to 375°F. Unwrap dough; with sharp knife, cut into 3/4-inch slices. Place slices 1 1/2 inches apart on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until shiny crust forms on top but interior is still soft. Cool on baking sheet; store in airtight tin up to 1 week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Focaccia Bread Pizzas

Pizza is probably our favorite meal around this house. We'll eat delivery, frozen, homemade, thin or thick crust, many different toppings (but mostly pepperoni :) ). Sometimes, though, you want to take a classic and change it up a little.
I decided to take focaccia bread and make it the main course by topping it with some pizza toppings, making it a heartier dish. The thicker "crust" of these pizzas is full of flavor and would be great on it's own, but really comes together with almost any toppings you want to throw on. We took this recipe and made two smaller square pizzas with it, using two different sets of toppings (we HAD to have one with the traditional pepperoni/mozzarella topping!). This meal would make a perfect treat on the go or would be great for a picnic as well.

Focaccia Bread Pizzas

1 c. warm water

3 TB olive oil (plus more for drizzling)

1 1/4 t. salt

3 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

2 pkg. dry active yeast dissolved in 1/2 c. warm water for 10 minutes

1 TB fresh rosemary, chopped

1 TB fresh thyme, chopped

For two pizzas: Drizzle 2 9X9" baking dishes with 1 TB olive oil in each one. Combine all of the ingredients with an electric mixer and mix for 60 seconds.

Scoop 1/2 the sticky batter into each pan, cover, and let rise at room temperature for 60 minutes, or until it becomes puffy.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Poke the dough all over with your index finger and top with toppings of your choice (do not go overboard on topping, though! this isn't a traditional pizza), pushing the toppings slightly down into the dough. Bake the bread until the toppings begin to brown, about 35-40 minutes.

for toppings:

mushroom/goat cheese/truffle oil pizza

2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

2 oz. mushrooms (mixed works well: shitake, baby bella, crimini)

1/2 c. baby spinach

1/4 stick butter melted, mixed with 1 clove minced garlic

1 TB truffle oil

Spread the garlic butter mixture onto the prepared, risen focaccia dough. Place the spinach leaves, mushrooms and goat cheese on the dough. Bake as directed. After finished baking, drizzle the pizza with truffle oil and serve.

pepperoni pizza

4 large or 10 small slices pepperoni

1/2-3/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Sprinkle the cheese on the risen focaccia dough. Top with pepperoni slices and bake the focaccia accordingly.

Friday, December 5, 2008

French Pickled Garlic

I love garlic. I mean, I know a lot of people like garlic, but I LOVE it. I love when I cook with it and my fingers smell of garlic for a couple of days from chopping up so much. I love eating whole heads of roasted garlic even without any bread. I find a way to put garlic in pretty much everything I make. In fact, I'm slightly surprised that I haven't made a garlic dessert. I'm sure eventually I will.


When I was living in Spain, I came across something I had never tried: Pickled garlic. It was in this cute little wine store in the town I was living in. I was a little wary of trying it--fresh garlic can be a little harsh and I worried the pickled would be weird to eat alone. But it wasn't weird at all. It was wonderful. I kept the little jar in my room and ate the entire thing myself. I'm sure I smelled of garlic for a week. Ever since then I have been on the hunt for more. It finally came to me that I should just try making some. So I searched out some recipes and decided to give this one a shot.


I really liked this version, but the rosemary is a pretty powerful flavor in it. I can't wait to play around with it next time. Next time I also need to give some away, because again I am eating the whole jar myself. Ah, well. Garlic keeps those pesky vampires away, right??

French Pickled Garlic
(from epicurious.com)
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 small dried chile pepper
1 small thyme sprig
1 small rosemary sprig
1 small bay leaf
10 black peppercorns
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pickling salt
1 cup peeled fresh garlic cloves

Put all of the ingredients except the garlic into a nonreactive saucepan. Bring the contents to a boil, and gently boil them for 5 minutes. Add the garlic. Return the contents to a boil, then cover the pan, and remove it from the heat. Let it stand at room temperature for 24 hours.
Bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil again, then transfer them to a half-pint jar. Let the jar cool, and cover it tightly with a nonreactive cap.
Store the jar in the refrigerator. The garlic will be ready to eat in about 5 days, and will keep well for about 1 year.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Eggnog Ice Cream

As usual, I'm a little late on the game, but how was everyone's Thanksgiving? I hope your day was filled with good friends and family, many reasons for thanks, and especially good food.

I actually had Thanksgiving off this year. As a waitress, I can't remember the last Thanksgiving where I had the whole day off (and before I was a waitress I worked at a grocery store that was open every day except Christmas, so I worked a lot of those Thanksgivings, too). I couldn't believe my luck this year. So I invited over the crew (old college friends, new city friends, etc.) and got myself ready to host my first Thanksgiving.

Everything turned out so well. We had some beer dip and figs wrapped in blue cheese and prosciutto for appetizers, then moved on to the main event. The turkey was free range and had so much flavor on its own (and turned out so moist! I was very proud of my first full turkey). I think I finally perfected my grandma's dinner rolls (I've gone in and made a few notes on the recipe if you want to give it a shot--sweet, delicious, perfect for a turkey sandwich). We also had the obligatory green bean casserole (yes, I love the cream of mushroom soup version...so sue me...) and some sweet potatoes. These roasted sweet potatoes with garlic oil and fried sage from Gourmet were to die for. I've been craving them ever since. I'm serious: try them now.


Finally we ended the meal with my mom's Caramel Apple Pie, pumpkin pie, and eggnog ice cream. I tried my own crusts this year for the pies and while it worked for the pumpkin, it wasn't sturdy enough for the apple so I had to run out and buy an emergency pre-made pie crust for the apple. Oh, well. Maybe next year. For the pumpkin pie I went with the basic Libby's recipe, but used coconut milk instead of evaporated milk. Yum. And I added cinnamon and ginger to the crust.


Now, the Eggnog Ice Cream was Joe's idea. And I am so glad he had it. It was the perfect accompaniment with the pumpkin pie, but was great on its own. It really tastes like the holidays. And it stayed creamy and perfect even after a week in the refrigerator (there's one or two bites left....I keep thinking I'm saving them for Joe, but I'm tempted to run in there and eat them now...).

Eggnog Ice Cream
2 c. eggnog
1 c. whipping cream
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 TB dark rum (we used Cpt. Morgan)

Combine all ingredients except the rum in a saucepan and cook over medium heat. Using a candy thermometer, cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 170 degrees F. Remove from heat. Mix in the 1 TB rum and allow the mixture to cool slightly (let it sit out until it is just above room temperature, about 40 minutes or so). Pour mixture into a lidded container and refrigerate overnight (this is very important in the consistency of the final product--don't skip this!).
Remove from refrigerator and mix ice cream according to the ice cream maker's instructions. Place back into a lidded container and freeze at least 1 hour before serving.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sage Roasted Squash

I had some leftover Sweet Dumpling Squash from the Chiefs get-together we had the other week. I thought maybe I would use it to make ravioli or a soup, but then a friend told me about how she had roasted some squash with sage and shallots and I had to give it a try. This was seriously, seriously good. I've craved it every day since we had it and am going to have to have it again very soon. The only bad part about this recipe is the peeling the squash, which I find to be a pain in the rear.
I served this with my Curried Pork Chops. If you haven't tried these yet, they are so easy and have a ton of flavor. I used organic pork chops this time around and grilled them on my grill pan, and I don't think I've ever cooked meat so well. They were perfect (well, almost. I did have to throw Joe's back onto the grill because I undercooked it initially, but then they were perfect). I had to post this picture because it's so much better than the one I took when I initially posted this recipe.

(ok, I know I sound like I'm bragging a lot in this post, but really--this was a damn good meal!! :)

Sage Roasted Sweet Dumpling Squash

1 sweet dumpling squash (acorn squash will work as well)

1/2 stick butter

1 t. sage

1 TB chopped shallot

1 t. brown sugar

1 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

2 oz. goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and de-seed the squash. Chop it into uniform pieces--about 1 1/2" cubes.

Melt the butter and mix in the sage, shallot, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Toss with the squash pieces. Place on a baking sheet and roast about 45-50 minutes or until just beginning to brown and crisp along the edges. Toss with crumbled goat cheese just before serving.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gruyere Ale Fondue, White Chocolate Raspberry Fondue

Fondue is one of my favorite meals to share with my husband. It's easy and fairly quick, but always feels fancy and special. Plus I feel healthy eating all of those fruits and vegetables (let's ignore all of the cheese, cream, bread and chocolate.....).

In the past all of the fondues I have made have been variations on cheddar fondue and basic chocolate fondue. But this time around I really wanted to get in and try out some new things. I used to think I did not like Gruyere cheese, but have been proved wrong and knew it was time to try a fondue with the cheese that belongs in it. But, I feel that any cheese dish is improved with the addition of beer, so I used it instead of wine that traditionally goes into the dish. It does make it easier for the cheese to seize up (the wine helps prevent this), but if you are careful with the heat and the stirring, you should be ok.
The white chocolate fondue is very sweet, but is a great change from the traditional chocolate. I'm a big fan of this with bananas and strawberries particularly.

Gruyere Ale Fondue
2 TB butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 TB Worcestershire sauce
1 1/3 c. beer
2 c. Gruyere cheese, grated
1 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
2 TB flour
chopped vegetables, bread, etc. for dipping

Toss the grated gruyere and parmesan with the flour and set aside. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute, being careful not to burn. Add the beer and the worcestershire sauce and turn up the heat to medium high and cook until it just begins to boil. Turn the heat back down to medium/medium-low. Add the cheese and stir slowly until the cheese melts. Try not to over stir as this will cause the cheese to seize up. Serve in a fondue pot as soon as the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth.

White Chocolate Raspberry Fondue
1/2 c. heavy cream
12 oz. white chocolate, chopped coarsely
1/8 c. raspberry vodka
fruits, angel food cake, etc. for dipping

Mix together all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium/medium-low heat. Stir constantly until the chocolate has melted and the sauce is smooth. Serve in a fondue pot immediately.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Apple Lambic Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I've been playing around with using an apple lambic beer in a baking project for a long time. And what better opportunity than when I have friends coming over to be my guinea pigs? I tried these out for the Chiefs party that we had last week. They did not disappoint.
The apple lambic (I used Lindeman's Pomme) was not the dominant flavor in the cupcakes but it did give a nice tartness to them. The bit of cocoa gives them a nice, rich flavor. And the cinnamon cream cheese frosting rounded out the spiciness well.

Apple Lambic Spice Cupcakes
(makes about 20 cupcakes)
1 c. apple lambic beer
1 stick, plus 1 TB unsalted butter
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. sour cream
2 eggs
1 TB vanilla extract
2 c. flour
2 1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350. Place cupcake papers in muffin tins (or grease muffin tins).
Chop the butter into chunks and combine with the lambic beer in a large saucepan and heat to melt the butter. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa and the brown and the regular sugar. In a bowl, whisk the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla, then add to the beer mixture. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger and then fold into the batter. Pour into the muffin tins, filling about 3/4 of the way. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes, remove from the muffin tins, and cool completely on a rack before frosting.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
16 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
8 TB butter, softened (1 stick)
2 c. powdered sugar
3 t. ground cinnamon

Beat together all ingredients until the icing is fluffy. Spread onto cupcakes once they are cooled.

Margarita Dip, BLT Roll-ups, Micheladas

Last week the Chiefs were playing the Jets. Which meant we could actually watch the game at home like the good ol' days. We invited over some friends and decided to make it an all day deal--we'd watch the game and have some snacks and then afterwards I would make dinner and we'd have a late celebration for my birthday. It was a small crowd but it was a really good time.

During the game we had a nacho cheese dip, Buffalo Chicken dip (yes, two different types of dip, but both were requested), Margarita Dip, BLT Roll-ups, beer and micheladas. Micheladas are like a beer bloody mary and in my opinion are one of the best "brunch-y" drinks ever.

Afterwards we had a vegetarian lasagna, gougeres, roasted squash and wine. Twelve hours after everyone arrived, after much food and great conversation, our guests finally headed home (with leftovers in their bags so Joe and I wouldn't have to eat them all!). The Chiefs may have lost their game, but all in all it was still a great day.

Margarita Dip
(from Better Homes and Gardens)
1/2 c. whipping cream
3 c. angel and/or pound cake cubes
3 c. assorted fresh fruit
1/2 c. sour cream
1 TB OJ concentrate (I actually used 1 TB pineapple preserves)
4 oz. cream cheese, cut up and softened
1/4 c. sifted powdered sugar
1 TB tequila
1 TB lime juice

Mix sour cream, OJ concentrate, cream cheese, sugar, tequila, and lime juice until combined. Add whipping cream and blend until fluffy and mixture mounds. Serve immediately or cover and chill up to 24 hours. Serve with cake and fruit.

BLT Roll-ups
3- 8" flour tortillas
4 oz. cream cheese
6 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 c. shredded lettuce
1 large tomato, diced
bacon ranch dressing

Divide the cream cheese, bacon, lettuce, and tomato into thirds. Spread 1/3 of the cream cheese onto each tortilla. Sprinkle 1/3 of bacon, lettuce, and tomato onto each tortilla. Roll each tortilla up tightly, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Once chilled, cut the roll-ups into slices about 3/4" wide. Serve with bacon ranch dressing.

Micheladas
for each Michelada:
2 TB Worcestershire sauce
juice from 1/2 lime
pinch of salt
couple drops of Tabasco sauce, to taste
3/4 c. tomato juice cocktail
1 Mexican beer
ice

If desired, rim a pint glass with salt. Add ice to the glass, then add Worcestershire sauce, lime, salt, Tabasco and tomato juice. Top off the glass with beer. Serve the drink with the beer so you can continue to top off the glass as you drink it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cooking with Love Round-up

Thank you so much for everyone who participated in the Cooking with Love event! I really enjoyed reading your stories and the recipes you paired with them. Make sure to check out everyone's blogs for their full story. I just love how food can bring us together!


Becke over at Columbus Foodie submitted her recipe for Pork and Sauerkraut. She talks about how she used to hate sauerkraut, but her husband eventually brought her around. It's a really simple recipe, and it looks so tasty!


Stacey over at Simply Tasty tells us about how she snagged her hubby with Hamburger Helper. :) She gives us a recipe for a homemade version of the boxed stuff that looks so much healthier and a lot more fun.

Nemmie over at Cast Sugar tells us about her husband's sweet tooth and how she helps to cure it with chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. That is one of my favorite combos, too.






Rubybean over at Broken Yolks contributed with her "How to Score a Husband Cookies". These tasty treats are filled with chocolate chips and toffee pieces. My kind of cookies.

So, I promised a prize to one of you. I put your names in a hat and the winner is Nemmie! Shoot me a message so I can get your address and send you your prize: a copy of Intercourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook. (Let me know if you've already got it and you'll get something else instead!)

Thanks again everyone! And if anyone out there has some other stories for me, I'm still on the hunt for more for the project I'm working on, so send them my way--any stories about cooking and love will do!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fall Fruit Panzanella Salad

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to make my way up to Williamsburg to The Brooklyn Kitchen. It's not only a great, cute kitchen supply store. They also offer up classes on everything from ice cream to canning to pig butchering. And they host a foodie book club. It's my ideal gathering: a bunch of people who love to read and love to cook/eat/talk about food picking a book, reading it, and gathering together to discuss it. The conversation may steer away from the book at times, but never strays far away from food. One of my favorite parts about the book club is that at each meeting the members are asked to bring a dish that is inspired by the book that has been read.
Last month's book happened to be "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbera Kingsolver. It was a book I had been wanting to read for a while now and Joe had brought it home for my as a surprise before I even knew it was the book club book. I was very excited about the coincidence.

I had many ideas about what to bring along with me, but finally I decided to go with something that I have been really wanting to try out: a dessert panzanella. I love traditional panzanella salad, and just thought that some cinnamon and fresh, in-season fruits would be a great accompaniment to the crispy bread. What's really nice about this dish is that it is incredibly flexible: you can throw anything in. Try it with some plums or mango or substitute rosemary or sage for the basil. And it's sweet enough to be dessert, but not so much that it can't be served as a side.

Fall Fruit Panzanella Salad

1 stick butter

2 1/2 TB sugar

1 1/2 TB cinnamon

8" round loaf tuscan/country style bread

4 peaches, chopped

3 apples, chopped

3 TB sugar

1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut the bread up into cubes about 1" on all sides. In a large bowl melt the stick of butter and mix together with the cinnamon and sugar. Toss in the bread cubes until evenly coated. Spread the coated bread cubes on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook until toasted, about 15-20 minutes, stirring a couple of times to cook evenly. Once toasted, set the croutons aside and allow to cool.

While toasting the croutons, toss the peaches with the 3 TB sugar. Allow this to sit for at least an hour to let the peaches juices flow. Then mix together with the chopped apples and the basil. Finally mix the fruit mixture together with the bread croutons. Allow everything to sit together for at least 30 minutes before serving.

This recipe makes a huge amount of this salad! It probably feeds a good 10 people, so keep that in mind if trying it out yourself.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Back!

I've been on vacation in San Francisco, but am finally home. I will have some new posts soon (including one of all the awesome things I ate while on vacation), but I just wanted to stop by and remind everyone of the Cooking With Love event!
And I'm trying slowly to catch up on reading your blogs since I've been away--my reader is overflowing! Promise to get to them all soon.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Chicken Roll-ups with Vermouth Sauce, Corn Risotto, and Gougeres

Or, the very, very yellow meal.

I have made gougeres many, many times. I have posted them in my blog a few times, although until recently I didn't realize that was what I was making. The very first time I made them they puffed up beautifully and were light and fluffy. The second time around they turned out just about as nice. But every single time since then they have turned out flat and slightly dense. I have no idea what I was doing wrong. It was infuriating that they weren't turning out. Luckily they still tasted good.

This time around, I actually knew what I was making, and decided to give a slightly different recipe a shot. I went with Ruth Reichl's from "Garlic and Saphires". (now that I think about it, though, I may have tried this recipe before but I couldn't find gruyere so I used something different...maybe the consistency of the cheese has something to do with my puffing issues...) Whatever it was--the cheese, the recipe, the temperature in my kitchen, the smiling down of the gods--they came out perfectly. And tasted heavenly. Let's hope the next time around they turn out just as well!
I do have one question about these: how in the world do you pronounce them? I have read the name so many times but have no idea how to say it out loud.

Along with these (although I truly think I could eat a whole meal of just gougeres), I also made Corn Risotto from the very first issue of Edible Manhattan. If you have an "Edible" publication for your neck of the woods I suggest you pick one up immediately! And finally the meal was rounded out by some chicken rolled up in prosciutto, cheesy goodness. Not too shabby.

Chicken Roll-ups with Vermouth Sauce
3 chicken breasts
6 slices prosciutto
5-6 provolone cheese slices
salt and pepper
2 TB olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c. dry vermouth
1/4 c. heavy cream
salt and pepper

Butterfly the chicken breasts, cutting them open longways to make a thinner, larger piece of chicken. Using a meat mallet, rolling pin, or canned good, pound the chicken until it is an even width, about 1/2". On the inside of the chicken, layer on two slices of prosciutto and 1 1/2-2 slices of provolone cheese. Roll up the chicken, salt and pepper the outside, and place seam side down.
In a saute pan, heat 2 TB olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, place chicken in the pan, seam side down. Brown the chicken on all sides. Then turn the heat down to medium and cover the pan. Cook until the chicken is done and the juices run clear, about 8 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pan and allow to sit while preparing the sauce.
In the same pan that the chicken just came out of, add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown. Then add the dry vermouth. Stir to pick up all of the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Finally, add the heavy cream and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly. Serve over top of the chicken.

Corn Risotto
(Sara Jenkins, from Edible Manhattan)
I did cut this recipe back and didn't follow it down to every single detail, just took the basics of how I usually cook risotto and went with it. I used arborio rice, shallots instead of onions, didn't put the cobs in the stock, but I wish I would have! I think the chicken stock totally overpowered the corn flavor of this dish. Next time I may use some water in place of the stock)
2 TB olive oil
2 TB unsalted butter, divided
2 slices thick bacon, cut into 1/8" pieces
1 small onion, finely diced
4-6 ears fresh corn, kernels sliced off and cobs reserved
2 c. carnaroli rice
1 c. dry white wine
5 c. homemade chicken or pork broth heated to a simmer with the reserved cobs
1 1/2 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or grana padana
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil and 1 TB butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, until melted. Add bacon and cook, stirring constantly, until bacon starts to crisp, about 2 minutes.
Add onions and pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until onions start to wilt and turn translucent. Add corn and cook until starting to brown and caramelize. Add rice and, stirring constantly, cook for 5 minutes. Add wine; stir until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 1 c. broth and cook, stirring constantly, until mostly absorbed, about 3 minutes.
Add 1/2 c. of broth and, stirring, cook until mostly absorbed, 2-3 minutes. Continue adding the broth by 1/2 cupfuls, stirring constantly, until you have 1 c. broth left. Add 1/2 c. of the remaining broth, stir another 2-3 minutes, then add the remaining 1/2 c. broth, and cook, stirring for 1-2 final minutes. Risotto should be tender yet slightly firm. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese and remaining butter; cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve immediately with freshly ground pepper and extra Parmigiano, if desired.

Gougeres
(Ruth Reichl)
Servings: 8 as an appetizer
1 c. water
1/4 lb (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1-1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
5 eggs
1 c. diced Gruyère cheese
Pepper to taste
1/2 c. grated Gruyère cheese


Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Combine the water, butter and a teaspoon of the salt in a saucepan and bring it to a boil, stirring until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat, let cool slightly, stir in the flour, and mix well. Return pan to the heat and stir with a wooden spoon over high heat until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the eggs, one at a time until well combined. Add the diced cheese, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper, stirring well.
Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto a well-buttered baking pan. Smooth the top and sides of each gougère with a knife, and sprinkle with grated cheese.
Bake in batches for 25 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Serve immediately.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

End of Summer Pasta, Garlic Almond Green Beans

I have been trying to be much better about using things I have in the fridge or in the pantry in planning my meals instead of buying a bunch of new things and letting others just sit around and go bad. As I was going through the refrigerator I noticed a pint of small cherry heirloom tomatoes (I had purchased them at the greenmarket because they were way too pretty to pass up) and a recipe I had once made from Rachel Ray popped into my head. I didn't go back and look at the recipe, since it is such a simple idea (and you are able to do pretty much whatever you want with it), but it is based on her recipe. And I also got rid of three different types of long, skinny pasta--I had just a little left of each one. If you can find some of the last tomatoes of the season floating around, this recipe is a simple, tasty one (and it would be lots of fun--or maybe just really messy--with kids).

End of Summer Pasta
1 pt. of cherry tomatoes (preferably a mixed variety)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 TB shallot, minced
1 TB fennel, minced
1 TB dried basil (if you have fresh it is better!)
1 TB oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. parmesan
8 oz. pasta, cooked

Cut each of the cherry tomatoes in half and place in a large bowl. Add the garlic, shallot, fennel, basil, oregano. Using your hands, squish together all of the ingredients so it is a soup-y, chunky mess. Add the olive oil, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.
Right when the pasta is finished cooking, drain it, and then toss immediately with the tomato mixture. The heat from the pasta will be enough to "cook" the tomato mixture enough so it is warm.

Garlic Almond Green Beans
2-3 c. fresh green beans, trimmed and cleaned
1/2 stick butter
3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/4 c. sliced and toasted almonds
salt and pepper
juice from 1 lemon

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and almonds and cook until the garlic is tender. Add the green beans. Cook, stirring often, until the green beans are cooked through, but not so long that they become mush, about 6 minutes or so. Top off with salt and pepper and lemon juice to serve.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Cooking with Love Blog Event

My anniversary is coming up next week so I am feeling the love. I'm also working on a project and need your help. I need your stories about cooking for that special someone. They can be stories of baking cookies for that crush in middle school, or making an amazing (or disastrous!) dinner to impress someone on a first date. It can be stories of your first meal for your new husband or wife, or cooking together with your date. I want them all! Email your stories to chompdown@gmail.com.

And in correlation with these stories, I've decided to host a blog event. Take your Cooking with Love Story and make a recipe that somehow goes along with it. Post it on your blog, and then send me an email at chompdown@gmail.com (with Cooking with Love Event in the subject line) with the story, a pic of the food, and a link to your blog entry. You don't have to have a blog to participate, though! If you want to be included in the round-up and the competition, just shoot me an email without the link to your blog. ;) Also, if you don't want to cook something up and participate in the event, that's ok, too. I would still love to hear your stories!
As a thank you for your help and participation in this event, one lucky someone will win a prize once all entries are in. Since this is my first blog event, I'm going to give myself some extra time to prepare, so you have until October 24 to get in your entries. I'm looking forward to your stories! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section or shoot me an email.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brown Sugar and Roasted Peach Ice Cream

Ice cream #2 for my new KA attachment. I wanted to play around and do something different with this batch, but I also wanted to take advantage of the fruits that are in season right now, so this was perfect. The shot of Jack Daniels also added a really nice flavor to the whole thing. The ice cream base is based on Alton Brown's recipe for serious vanilla ice cream.

Brown Sugar and Roasted Peach Ice Cream
4 peaches
white sugar
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup whipping cream
7/8 c. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1 TB Jack Daniels

Cut the peaches in half and pit them. Toss with some sugar (I used white sugar because I ran out of the brown, but you can use either). Roast on a baking sheet, skin side up, at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the peaches are soft and the skins are brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Then remove the skins, chop into small pieces and set aside in the refrigerator.

Combine the half and half, whipping cream, brown sugar,and vanilla extract in a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Attach a frying or candy thermometer to inside of pan. (see note below) Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to 170 degrees F. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Mix in the Jack Daniels at this time. Pour mixture into lidded container and refrigerate mixture overnight (or for at least 6-8 hours) to mellow flavors and texture.
Freeze mixture in ice cream freezer according to unit's instructions. Add the chopped peaches in the last 3-4 minutes of churning. Remove to a plastic container and place in the freezer for at least one hour before serving.

NOTE: If you do not have a thermometer, bring the mixture just barely to a simmer. As soon as you see a bubble hit the surface, remove it from the heat. Do not let it boil.

NYC International Pickle Day

Pickles have a rich history with New York City. As early as the 1600's cucumbers were grown all over Brooklyn and then brought into Manhattan to be made into pickles and sold at the markets. In the 19th century there was a pickle boom of sorts on the Lower East Side when they were made and sold at pushcarts all around the area. They were cheap and easy to make at home and were a way for those trying to get by to make some money.

With pickles being such an important part of the city's past it is no wonder that the New York Food Museum would want a day to celebrate one of our (or at least my) favorite treats. This year Pickle Day was held on September 14 at Orchard and Broome, outside of one of the NYC pickle institutions: Gus' Pickles.

But Pickle Day was not just about the cucumber variety (although those were there, too: like the sours, half-sours, and spicy ones given away by The Pickle Guys). There were the people from Rick's Picks with their pickled okra, green beans, beets and more (I blogged about how much I loved their Smokra not long ago...amazing). I fell in love with the garlic pickle relish from McClure's Pickles. I also didn't say no to the bloody mary mix they had made by taking their spicy garlic pickles leftover juices and mixing it with tomato juice. Yum, yum, yum. Russ and Daughters was their with pickled lox and herring. China Food Imports had some delicious kimchi. Cafe Katja had pickled cantaloupe. I also saw pickled watermelon, pickled garlic scapes, pickled peaches, and pickle candy (unfortunately these were just lime flavored with a picture of a pickle, but they were good nonetheless). And surprisingly, one of my favorites all day: pickle truffles (yes! pickle flavored filling dipped in chocolate) from Roni-Sue's chocolates. Sounds strange, yes, but tasted really good! Can't wait to go by Roni-Sue's in Essex market and try out some other flavors--the Manhattan (i.e. the drink) flavored one is especially calling my name.

As I was leaving pickle day, I got one more treat: pickled grapes. Sweet with a little tang. Just perfect. And, for a donation to the NYC Food Museum (which I am really happy to support--keep up the good work!!), I got the recipe for these tasty treats. For a pickle lover like myself, I couldn't have asked for a better day.

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.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

I finally got my ice cream attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer! I realize that summer is over and the weather is beginning to cool down, and for many people that signals the end of the ice cream season. The hubs and I, however, eat ice cream year round. And what else are you going to use to top off all of those delicious pies and cakes and desserts you make throughout the holiday season??

I already have many, many ideas for ice creams. I could probably make one a day for the next few months without any repeats if ice cream were all we ate every day. But for the first batch to break in my new toy? It had to be cookies and cream. It is simple. It is my favorite. It is my husband's favorite. Plus, you have some leftover Oreos lying around to nibble on while you wait for the ice cream to churn and then to set up in the freezer. Not too shabby.

For this I used the recipe in the instruction booklet. In the future there will be recipes I have created, and I'm sure a few I'll steal from fellow bloggers. This recipe is good, but I do suggest throwing in a little alcohol (maybe a tablespoon of vodka) to help keep it from turning into a rock in the freezer.

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream
(KA Ice Cream Attachment booklet)
2 1/2 c. half and half
8 egg yolks
1 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. whipping cream
4 t. vanilla
1/8 t. salt
1 1/2 (or 2, if you are me...) c. chopped oreos

In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat half and half until very hot, but not boiling, stirring often. Remove from heat; set aside.
Place egg yolks and sugar in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and wire whip to mixer. Turn to speed 2 and mix about 30 seconds, or until well blended and slightly thickened. Continuing on Speed 2, very gradually add half and half; mix until blended. Return half and half mixture to medium saucepan; cook over medium heat until small bubbles form around edge and mixture is steamy, stirring constantly. Do not boil. Transfer half and half mixture into large bowl; stir in whipping cream, vanilla and salt. Cover and chill thoroughly, at least 8 hours.
(If using a KA ice cream attachment:) Assemble and engage freeze bowl, dasher, and drive assembly as directed. Turn to STIR. Using a container with a spout, pour mixture into freeze bowl. Continue on Stir for 15-20 minutes or until desired consistency. Add cookies last 1 to 2 minutes of freeze time. Immediately transfer ice cream into serving dishes, or freeze in an airtight container.

White Garlic Soup and Eggplant Parmesan

While flipping through the "Cooking in Spain" cookbook for my tapas meal, I came across a few different soups I really wanted to try. I love the simplicity and great flavor of Spain's soups. There aren't a lot of ingredients to many of them but they are comforting and wholesome tasting. You really get the sense that these soups helped sustain people through tough times but also were there to give an easy snack or to keep people cool on warm days.

This white garlic soup, like gazpacho, is better after it sits in the fridge for a few hours (and it's even better the next day). The flavors come together and the garlic flavor really comes through. I just used regular red grapes to add to this, but if you can find some wine grapes, I would love to hear how that flavor changes things!
The eggplant parmesan is almost as simple to make as the garlic soup. I love the flavor that parmesan cheese adds to the breading for the eggplant. I don't even need the marinara sauce on top to eat these crispy eggplant pieces, although it's good with the sauce, too.

Ajo Blanco Con Uvas
(White Garlic Soup with Grapes)
(Cooking in Spain)
3 thick slices bread, crusts removed
3/4 c. almonds, blanched and skinned
3 cloves garlic
1/4 c. olive oil
1/8 c. (sherry) vinegar
2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. water
muscatel grapes
I also added: season salt, coriander seed powder, paprika, and pepper.

Soak the bread in water until softened, squeeze it out and put it in blender or processor with the almonds and peeled garlic. Blend to a smooth sauce (adding a little water if necessary). Then, with the motor running, add the oil in a slow stream, then the vinegar and salt. Beat in some of the water, then pour the contents of the container into a pitcher, wooden bowl or tureen and add the remaining water. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt or vinegar if necessary. serve garnished with peeled and seeded grapes. Serves 6.


Eggplant Parmesan
1 eggplant
flour
1 or 2 eggs, beaten with a little water
3/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
3/4 c. dry breadcrumbs
1 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese
marinara sauce

Peel the eggplant and then slice. Place into a colander and all sides. Allow to sit for 30 minutes. Then rinse under running water and pat dry.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix together the parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs in a bowl.
Dip each slice of eggplant first into flour, then into the egg mixture, then finally into the parmesan/breadcrumb mixture. Place each slice in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake the eggplant pieces for about 6 minutes on each side. If the breading has not browned or crisped up enough, I like to turn up the oven to broil and quickly crisp that coating. Watch carefully if you do this as not to burn the eggplant! Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on each slice of eggplant and return to the oven for a minute until the cheese melts. Serve topped off with a couple of tablespoons of marinara sauce.
I love serving this with pasta topped with an alfredo sauce.

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.

Aioli
(recipe from my grammar teacher in Spain)
1 egg
1 TB sunflower oil (I used canola)
juice from 1 lemon
salt
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.)

Croquetas
(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, August 28, 2008

Tostones and Mojo Sauce

I grew up eating a lot of canned veggies as a side dish. Throughout college and my early married life almost no meal was served without canned green beans or corn. Now I have broken out of that rut and am constantly on the lookout for new, interesting side dishes.
This dish may be a new all-time favorite. Tostones are plantains that are sliced, fried, squished, and fried again. Mojo is actually a marinade that is used for meats, but can also be used as a sauce (it is pretty yummy served over pernil). The tostones are excellent on their own, but top them off with a little mojo and they are heaven. The tostones recipe is from multiple sources--most of them are almost identical in directions, but the mojo is my own take on this sauce/marinade.

Tostones
(multiple sources)
2 plantains
cooking oil
warm, salted water
salt

Peel the plantains and slice into pieces 1-1 1/2" thick. Heat enough oil in a skillet to have it about 1" deep over medium high heat. Make sure the oil is hot before beginning to cook!
In small batches, cook the plantain slices about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel to drain.
Using anything flat and slightly heavy (or using a tostone press, if you can find one), press/squish the plantains on a flat surface until they are about 1/4" thick.
Dip the squished plantains into the salty water and then place back into the hot oil. Cook until they are slightly brown and crispy on each side.
Salt immediately after removing tostones from the frying oil. These can be served alone or with a sauce, such as mojo.


Mojo Sauce
Juice from 3 limes
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 TB chopped cilantro
1/4 t. cumin
1/8 t. allspice
1/3 c. olive oil

Mix together lime juice, garlic, cilantro, cumin and allspice. Add olive oil slowly as you are briskly whisking the mixture. Can be used as a sauce or marinade.

Nemmie's Crunchy Pea Salad

Don't you just love the food blogging community? So many cool people and so many great ideas. And people will actually "listen" to you go on and on about food!
I love Nemmie's Blog, Cast Sugar. I always bookmark things from her site and this is one of those that I've been wanting to try for a while. It's one of those great summer treats that helps you stay cool in the kitchen by not having to cook (except for a little bacon) and is cool and refreshing to eat. I think it would be the perfect picnic side dish. So thanks Nemmie for such a great recipe!

Nemmie's Crunchy Pea Salad
(from Cast Sugar)
8 slices bacon
1 (10 oz.) package frozen green peas, thawed and drained
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/3 c. finely chopped red onion (or use green onions)
2/3 c. low-fat sour cream
1 c. chopped cashews or sunflower seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.In a medium bowl, combine peas, celery, onion, and sour cream. Toss gently to mix.Just before serving, stir nuts and bacon into salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I'm a Half Marathoner

No, this post has nothing to do with cooking. But it does have to do with taking advantage of all of the things this city has to offer, which really is one of the things this blog is about.

On Sunday, July 27, I got up (sooo early in the morning, around 3:30am) to run the Nike NYC Half Marathon. I couldn't have asked for better weather for a late July morning. It was a little rainy at first, but then that let up and it was cloudy and fairly cool the rest of the race. I lined up for the start with the about 10,600 other people and got ready to run.


It was such a fun experience. We ran a little over a full loop of Central Park, then around mile 7.5 we exited the park down 7th Avenue. I got to see my wonderful hubby for a brief moment and a quick kiss around 47th Street, and then it was on to Times Square. The streets had been shut down and we got to run right down the middle of the road, getting cheered on by spectators and tourists, and getting serenaded by bands along the way. Right after mile 9 we turned onto the West Side Highway and finally finished up the 13.1 miles at Battery Park. I finished in 2:22:54, a 10:54 pace. Not winning any races, but I was proud to just finish this time around! I'm looking forward to running another so I can get faster. Also looking forward to running a full marathon next year...I'll let you know when I decide which one to run.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Garlic Pork Chops with Sauvignon Beurre Blanc, Crash Hot Potatoes, Sour Cream Veggies

As much as I love coming up with new recipes or taking old recipes and changing them around, there are some nights where I want a really good meal that I don't want to have to think about. This is when I love turning to my fellow bloggers.

Yesterday I was really ready to actually cook again (and even to deal with the heat in my kitchen for a while to have an actual meal). When I opened up my google reader one of the first recipes I came across was Nemmie's Garlic Pork Chops with Sauvignon Beurre Blanc. Just the sort of thing I love (lots of butter and garlic and pork! my favorite things). I also have been dying to try out Pioneer Woman's Crash Hot Potatoes. I served these alongside of my mom's sour cream veggies.

Thanks so much ladies for an amazing meal. I have to say that the white wine sauce over top of the crash hot potatoes is maybe one of the tastiest things ever. You must give it a try.

Garlic Pork Chops with Sauvignon Beurre Blanc
Ingredients:
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 thick pork chops
2 Tbsp. virgin olive oil
8-10 cloves garlic, in crosswise slices
2 c. sauvignon blanc or other dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Salt and pepper pork chops on each side. In a large saute pan or skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and saute garlic until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer garlic to a small bowl and set aside.
Put pork chops in hot pan, cover, and cook over medium-high heat until golden brown, 10-15 minutes per side, adding a tablespoon or two of wine to pan if it starts to smoke. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil.
Add wine to pan and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Cook to reduce liquid by half. Reduce heat to low and add butter, stirring until melted. Turn off heat.
Place pork chops on warmed plates. Garnish liberally with garlic and drizzle with pan sauce. Pass any remaining sauce at the table. Serve with sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, riesling or gewürztraminer.


Crash Hot Potatoes
The Cast of Characters: New Potatoes (or other small, round potato), Olive Oil, Kosher Salt, Black Pepper, and whatever herb you like. I’m using Rosemary (I used basil).

Begin by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make, and cook them until they’re fork-tender.
Next, generously drizzle olive oil on a sheet pan. This will mean the difference between the potatoes sticking and not sticking, so don’t be shy here.
When the potatoes are tender, place them on the cookie sheet……Giving them plenty of room to spread out. Next, grab your potato masher and gently press down on the potato until it slightly mashes…Then rotate the masher 90 degrees and finish flattening it. Of course, you don’t want to absolutely smash it into the pan—you want it almost to resemble a cookie. Repeat until all are flattened. And really, I don’t know why you couldn't use the bottom of a glass for this step if you don’t have a potato masher. The surface might not be as textured and interesting, but I think it still might work.
Next, brush the tops rather generously with olive oil. Next, grab some Kosher salt. You can use regular salt, but I’d really recommend using kosher. It adheres to the potatoes more easily and really flavors them nicely without getting too salty. Be ye ever as generous with fresh ground black pepper. Now, you can grab some chives…or thyme…or whatever herbs you have available. Whatever herb you use, just chop it pretty finely and sprinkle over the top.
Now throw them onto the top rack of a very hot (450-degree) oven, and cook them for 20-25 minutes……Or until they’re golden and crispy and sizzling.


Sour Cream Veggies
(from my mom)
3/4 stick of unsalted butter
3/4 c. sour cream
salt and pepper
2 c. of frozen veggies (I prefer a broccoli, cauliflower, carrot blend)

In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the sour cream. Add the frozen vegetables and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the vegetables are cooked through, around 8-10 minutes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Prosciutto Robusto Panini, Insalata Caprese

And I continue with the recipes for those who can't stand to spend too much time in their sweltering hot kitchen. I do miss cooking some intense, time-consuming meals, but I just can't deal with dripping sweat into whatever it is I'm cooking--not really worth it.

So here we have another easy, quick, no-oven-necessary meal. A little heat from the grill pan on the stove, but they cook so fast it won't matter too much!


Prosciutto Robusto Panini
a piece of ciabatta bread, cut in half
2 pieces of prosciutto
slice of robusto cheese (robusto is a gouda style cheese)
1 1/2 TB pesto

Spread the pesto on one half of the ciabatta bread. Top with the prosciutto, robusto, and the other half of the ciabatta. Place onto a hot grill pan and place a heavy pan on top of the panini to work as a "press". Watch carefully so the bread does not burn. Flip once and remove once the sandwich has been heated through and serve.


Insalata Caprese
3 large heirloom tomatoes (I like to use 3 different kinds of heirlooms to add some variety to the flavor)
3/4 c. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
2-3 TB fresh basil, chopped
2-3 TB extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix together all ingredients. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs, Buttermilk Cornbread, Creamed Spinach

I know that most people use their slow cookers in the winter. They turn out hearty, rich, comfort foods that are perfect for those cold winter nights. But for me, the slow cooker is a lifesaver in the hot summer months. I can turn it on, throw in some ingredients and keep myself out of the sweltering kitchen.

Thus the inspiration for slow cooker ribs. And what better sides to accompany the BBQ than some homemade cornbread and creamed spinach? There aren't any, I tell you. I do have to say the last cornbread recipe I posted on here was just ok. This one (from allrecipes) is perfect. I'm in love. (it is a sweet version, though, so those of you who are in the "cornbread shouldn't be sweet camp beware).
I did make my own homemade BBQ sauce to use on these ribs and it was just ok, so I'm not going to post it. Once I perfect the art of BBQ sauce, I will let you all in on the secret, though, don't you worry.

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs
2.5 lb pork short ribs (cut into individual ribs)
2 1/4 c. BBQ sauce, divided
1 bottle beer (I prefer Stella)
salt and pepper

Salt and pepper the ribs on all sides. Place into slow cooker with 1 1/2 c. BBQ sauce and beer. Turn on cooker to high and cook for 2 1/2 hours. Turn to low and continue cooking until the meat is very tender and pulling away from the bones (about another 1 1/2-2 hours). Remove ribs from cooker (without the cooking liquid)

Place the ribs with the remaining 3/4 c. BBQ sauce into a saucepan over medium high heat. Cook on all sides of the ribs, about 3-4 minutes per side. Serve with the sauce.


Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread
(allrecipes)
1/4 pound butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt


DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Creamed Spinach
(Emeril Lagasse)
2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and tough stems removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (I used onion instead)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes. Drain in a fine mesh strainer, pressing with a large spoon to release as much water as possible. Finely chop and set aside.
Melt the butter in medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, just until the liquid is released. Add the cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and cook until the cream is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.