Tuesday, December 1, 2009

cookie takedown


i'll be participating in another takedown. i think that cookies are going to be a lot easier than my prior takedown task.

suggestions, thoughts and support welcome!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

what i learned from my csa

i had my last pickup from my csa last week and i was sad to see the season end. i've traveled the vegetable road from delicate spring greens to summer squash and, most recently, thanks to the cool and rainy weather here in the northeast, mounds and mounds of potatoes.

i'll admit that the mass of vegetables i received each week was initially overwhelming and i felt guilty each time i pulled a wilted veggie from the depths of my fridge. however, as the season progressed, i learned to take charge and control my csa share.

here's a quick list of what my first csa share taught me:

1. food is beautiful.

the variety of colors and shapes ready to be made into sustenance for my body was an amazing sight. my favorites were the rainbow swiss chard and the turnips (yes, turnips - their white and purple bodies topped with bright green are just gorgeous).

2. food is dirty.

most of us get our produce from a grocery aisle where the veggies line up like soldiers and are misted every 1.2 minutes for that perfect camera-ready sheen. the carrots are straight and unblemished (or bagged and smooth if you like those "baby" carrots) and the lettuce is bagged and triple washed.

my first csa pick-up was, to my surprise, dirty. there was actual, honest-to-goodness, d.i.r.t. on this food. it was a reality check for me and then it became a source of pride. i was happy to wash the dirt off of my veggies each week. my farmer had worked hard to coax these veggies to life in the dirt, and i was happy to wash it off.

3. food is not perfect.

yes, fresh produce is beautiful, but its not perfect. heads of lettuce had blemishes on them, my carrots weren't ruler straight, and my eggplant were sometimes misshapen. i realized, as i cleaned, cooked and ate through my share, perfection at the grocery store is only skin deep. my csa veggies had more depth and flavor than any grocery veggie could ever have.

4. the freezer is your friend.

i learned that i would not be able to eat each week's share within the week i received it. i blanched and froze greens, peppers and carrots. i made and froze pestos and soups. and, now, i'm looking forward to a winter of enjoying the remains of my csa.

5. it really does feel good to know where your food comes from.

hands down, i had a great csa. our farmer from stoneledge farm sent a update from the farm to csa members each week. i loved hearing about the preparations, the work and the hurdles. when our farmer told us that "late blight" had come to the farm and that there would be no tomatoes for the season, i was disappointed. however, my disappointment was tempered by the sadness you could sense in the farm's message. they had started seedlings in march, transplanted in may and staked the plants in june. until then, i had never truly appreciated the hard work that goes into caring for the food sources that come to my plate everyday.

~~~~~
if you live in nyc and want to join a csa, take a look at just food. if you're outside of nyc, wilson college has a searchable database of csa's.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

the most delicious muffins in the world

(i'm not exaggerating)

i so wish that i could take credit for this recipe, but, alas, kudos must go to the delicious life for her carrot muffins with cream cheese filling.

the only changes i made to the existing recipe were to omit the raisins and walnuts (i just don't like "surprises" in my baked goods) and to substitute confectioners sugar in the cream cheese filling portion.

these muffins were a hit at home and at work. they'll make you appear to be a cooking goddess.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots

cream cheese filling
4 oz cream cheese - softened
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

sift dry ingredients together. in a separate bowl, combine the carrots, egg, and oil and mix. add carrot mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well.

scoop mixture into greased (i used butter) mini-muffin tins. add dollop of cream cheese mixture to each muffin. bake for approx 25 minutes in a pre-heated 350 degree oven.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

potato, leek and sorrel soup


in an effort to use all of the veggies from my csa, i made a soup tonight that contains 4 different items from this week's haul.  its turned out quite nicely, and i'm going to freeze most of it (sans dairy).  the soup was complemented nicely with a hearty rye bread.

1 tablespoon butter
2 slices bacon - chopped
1 medium onion - diced
1/2 cup carrots - diced
1 leek - sliced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon flour
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup water
1 lb potatoes - diced in 1 inch cubes
1 bunch red sorrel (seen at right) - cut off stems and slice thinly
2-3 sprigs summer savory

cream (approx 1 tablespoon to 1 cup soup)
parmesan - grated to top soup

melt butter in large pot, add bacon, onions, carrots and cumin.  saute over medium-high heat until onions are translucent.  add leeks and saute until leeks are soft.  salt and pepper to taste.  add flour, stirring constantly until flour dissipates into the mixture.

add chicken stock, water, potatoes and summer savory.  cook over medium heat until potatoes are cooked approx halfway through.  at this point, add the sorrel, salt and pepper to taste, and cook over medium heat until the potatoes are soft.  

let soup cool and puree the mixture.  prepare soup to order:  cook over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon cream per 1 cup soup (or more if desired).  top with grated parmesan.  enjoy!

Friday, August 28, 2009

veggie & goat cheese lasagna

its been a fun summer (a little too fun for blogs posts) and i've been making good use of my csa veggies.  just before taking a two week trip (food photos to come), i was becoming buried in summer squash.  i also had to empty the fridge before the trip.  this lasagna is a result of using only ingredients (excepting the noodles) that i already had in the fridge.  the result was delicious. 

3 cups marinara
3 lbs summer squash - sliced
1 cup onion - diced
2 leeks - sliced and sauted in 1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces ricotta
8 ounces goat cheese - room temperature
1 egg
2 tablespoons fresh parsley - chopped
bechamel sauce (1/2 cup butter, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup cream)
8 ounces whole wheat lasanga noodles - cooked

to prepare bechamel sauce:
melt butter in sauce pan over medium heat, gradually add flour to melted butter, stirred constantly to blend flour into butter.  once all flour has been blended, cook on low for 2-3 minutes.  slowly add cream to mixture, and cook on low for 3-5 minutes.  remove from heat, blend with 3 cups marinara (makes a pink-ish orange sauce).

to prepare squash:
in 1 tablespoon butter, saute diced onion until glistening.  add squash, salt & pepper.  saute for 3-5 minutes over medium heat (do not over cook).

to prepare cheese mixture:
add ricotta, goat cheese, parsley and egg; mix well 

to layer lasagna:
spoon thin layer of marinara/bechamel sauce on the bottom of the pan and top with noodles, then layer, sauce, leeks, squash, cheese mixture, noodles, sauce, etc.  top the casserole with cheese sauce.  bake at 350 degree for 45 minutes to an hour.  let cool, slice and enjoy!

Monday, June 29, 2009

slightly southern swiss chard


i originally crafted this recipe for the mustard greens that came in my last csa pickup.  from growing up in the rural south, i was familiar with cooked greens (collards, mustard and turnip greens), but i hadn't cooked with them before.  as a dutiful cook, i began with the basics.  about these greens, mark bittman, merely said that they were a green of the South that are "traditionally boiled to death with smoked meat."    i turned to one of my southern culinary gurus, mama dip.  

this recipe is a compromise between my southern tastebuds and my desire to keep the nutrients and integrity of the fresh greens.

i found my adaptation worked very well with rainbow swiss chard (i didn't even have to blanche it first).

1/4 yellow onion - finely chopped
3 slices bacon - diced while raw
1 bunch swiss chard (or other green - the heartier the green, the longer the cooking time)
1/8 chicken stock (water will do)
dash red pepper flakes (to taste)
salt and pepper

in large saucepan saute onions, add salt and pepper, add chopped bacon and cook over medium high heat until bacon is crispy.  add swiss chard, stock, and red pepper.  cook uncovered over medium heat until chard is wilted and stock evaporates (5-7 minutes).  serve over polenta (see below).  note: in the photo, i have more liquid than i would have liked, thus i reduced the amount to add for the recipe.  however, the rainbow chard is just so pretty, i couldn't resist showing it cooking.

2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon butter
1/4 cup tomatoes - diced
3/4 to 1 cup quick-cooking polenta (more or less depending on how thick you like your polenta)
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese (or whichever you like, a white cheddar also works nicely)
salt and pepper

add stock, butter and tomatoes to a large sauce pan.  bring to simmer.  slowly stir in polenta.  turn heat off, add cheese and stir until blended.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

cooking away my csa

i've joined cooking away my csa, a group of food bloggers who will be sharing their csa-product recipes at least once a week on their blogs.  thanks to flour girl for creating this group - its a great way to make sure that we all get the most out of our csas.

eating well magazine will be posting some of the recipes as well.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

bok choi & pork stir fry

springtime csa produce is primarily greenery - which means a.lot.of.salads.  i was pleased, however, to get bok choi this week and last night i made a tasty stir fry.  its budget friendly and good for you!

1 lb pork - cut all fat away, cut into 1/2 inch cubes  (marinate pork in 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon olive oil and cracked pepper for approx 1 hour)
1 teaspoon peanut oil (or other vegetable oil)
1 small onion 
1/2 cup carrots - sliced thinly
1 garlic scape - diced (or 1 clove garlic)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger - diced
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (aka rooster sauce!)
1 head bok choi - sliced in 1 inch sections
1 teaspoon lemon juice

in large skillet (or wok, if you're lucky), saute onions in peanut oil over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes.  add pork and marinade, cook for 5-7 minutes or until pork is brown on all sides, add ginger, carrots, garlic scape, and chili garlic sauce, toss over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, add bok choi and lemon juice and toss until the bok choi is slightly wilted.  

serve over rice.  enjoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

bounty from the farm

today marks the second week of gathering fresh veggies from my csa.  last week's bounty included red leaf lettuce, mizuna, arugula, and a small bunch of radishes.  i dragged all of this from new york to ocracoke island, and used the radishes to make a delicious simple relish for some freshly caught fish that we grilled (recipe below).

this week (seen at right) the farm delivered bok choi, buttercrunch lettuce, mustard greens, and garlic scapes.  

its looking like a great summer already.

simple radish relish
1 bunch radish - diced (approx 1/4 cup)
1/2 large cucumber - peeled and diced (approx 1/4 cup)
1/2 small red onion - diced (approx 1/8 cup)
1/2 lime - juiced
1 teaspoon vinegar (i used apple cider because that was the only one available)
1 teaspoon olive oil
dash sugar
salt & pepper

mix all ingredients and marinate for at least 4 hours.  overnight is best.



Tuesday, May 19, 2009

goodbye fried chicken, hello fried rice!

* simple supper series *

when i make rice for a dish, i always make extra so that the following evening, i'll have leftover rice for this dish.  i toss in whatever produce and protein i have lying around (the recipe below is based on what i had in my fridge tonight).  its not so much a true fried rice as it is a chinese-takeout inspired rice pilaf.  the best part is that its nearly as fast as ordering take-out and its even more satisfying.

1 medium onion - finely chopped
1/4 cup carrot - diced
1/2 cup broccoli - chopped
handful frozen corn niblets
1/2 cup protein (chicken, pork, beef, tofu - whatever you have leftover in the fridge) - cubed
1-2 eggs - scrambled, cooked, and chopped
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (optional - if you want a spicy kick)
2 cups cooked rice (brown or white)

heat large saute pan over medium-high heat.  add olive and sesame oils.  once oil is hot, add the onions and carrots.  cook 5-7 minutes over medium heat until the veggies are nearly cooked through.  add remainder of veggies, protein, soy sauce and garlic sauce.  saute for 3-5 minutes and then add rice.  at this point, it depends on how "fried" you want your rice.  mix the rice and veggie mix well, toss in the scrambled egg, and cook over medium-high heat until rice is heated through (another 5-7 minutes).  

(title of post taken from a dave chappelle skit)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

cupcake cookoff at union pool












i went to the third annual cupcake cookoff hosted by the brooklyn kitchen last evening.  there were sixty entries that ranged from banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting topped with bacon bits, to vanilla citrus cake with mascarpone frosting, to mexican hot chocolate cupcakes.
my favorite, aesthetically, was a vanilla cupcake with strawberry frosting topped with bluebirds and ladybugs (at left) by cake hero.  she got my vote.  i also really liked the 24-carat cupcake (at right).  this was a carrot cake cupcake with cream cheese frosting.  

cupcakes aside, my favorite part about the event was that all proceeds benefited the greenpoint soup kitchen.  

(below: creamsicle cupcakes & mexican hot chocolate cupcake)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

chicken marsala with fried zucchini

my friend taylor makes the best chicken marsala.  i've been begging him to send his recipe to me for months.  alas, he hasn't, so i improvised based on observation and taste.  below is the result.  taylor (seen at right enjoying . . . something) always serves his chicken marsala with breaded zucchini, and who am i to break tradition?

chicken marsala
2 chicken breasts - pounded flat (to approx 1/2 inch thickness)
1/2 cup onions - finely chopped
1 1/2 - 2 cups mushrooms - sliced
1/4 cup (or more) marsala wine (ironically, taylor always uses the "taylor" brand - its also the cheapest)
1/4 cup scallions - sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
enough all-purpose flour to lightly coat chicken

pre-cooking prep:  after pounding chicken breasts, pat dry, rub down with salt and pepper and lightly coat in flour.

place olive oil in medium-hot skillet (large enough for the chicken breasts to lie flat).  add onions and saute until onions are soft (5-7 minutes).  add butter, raise heat and add mushrooms.  saute over medium-high, adding marsala wine if the mushrooms get dry.  cook for approx 7-10 minutes.  add chicken, more marsala and brown chicken on both sides.  salt and pepper dish to taste as you cook.  just before chicken is fully cooked (10 minutes or so), add the scallions, allow to slightly cook (3-5 minutes).  remove from heat, rest 5-7 minutes, serve.

fried zucchini
2 cups zucchini - thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons finely ground bread crumbs
2 tablespoons onion - finely chopped (or grated)
3-4 tablespoons parmesan or pecorino cheese (grated)
salt & pepper to taste

add above ingredients to a large mixing bowl.  toss until breadcrumbs and cheese are evenly distributed amongst the zucchini.  saute over medium heat until zucchini are cooked through (or longer if you want them crispy).  the zucchini can also be baked at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

  

Monday, March 30, 2009

the notorious PIG


i'm so exhausted from spending the weekend making 300 bacon meatball stuffed bacon biscuits, that i can't even write something clever here.

however, i do want to provide the recipe and let you know that you can see clips of the takedown on good morning america's website! my dish is the one named the notorious PIG.

meatballs
4 ounces button mushrooms - chopped
1/2 medium onion - finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
dash cayenne pepper
1 lb ground pork
6 ounces bacon - cooked and crumbled
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons fresh parsley - finely chopped
1 egg
1/2 cup finely ground breadcrumbs

in saute pan, melt butter over medium-low heat and add onions. salt and pepper onions and cook 5 minutes. add dash cayenne and mix well. turn heat to medium-high, add mushrooms and cook another 5-7 minutes.

in large bowl, combine cooked mushrooms with all ingredients, except the breadcrumbs. mix gently until everything is incorporated together, then mix the breadcrumbs into the mixture.

roll into quarter sized balls. stuff with cream cheese (see below).

cream cheese
4 ounces cream cheese - softened
1 tablespoon chives - finely chopped
2 cloves garlic - roasted
2-3 tablespoons bacon - cooked and crumbled.

mix all ingredients together until well blended. refridgerate to harden before stuffing into meatballs (its easier to stuff with cold rather than softened cream cheese).

once the meatballs are stuffed, sear them in a saute pan until all sides are browned. drain on a paper towel. wrap in biscuit dough (click here for my biscuit dough recipe - one batch should cover all of the meatballs), brush tops with an egg wash, and bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. yields approx 12 delicious biscuit wrapped meatballs.

enjoy!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

countdown to the takedown

the brooklyn bacon takedown is tomorrow.  there's been quite a bit of press about the event, and i'm a little nervous about feeding the crowds.  nevertheless, my fridge is full and i'm determined to have 300 of my bacon tidbits by tomorrow afternoon.


Monday, March 23, 2009

spring!


it may have snowed on friday and it may be 25 degrees this morning, but spring is definitely here.  i spotted these crocuses on a long walk yesterday.  

Saturday, March 14, 2009

lentil soup

i've received a couple of requests for this soup (and i hear its a rainy day down in north carolina), so even though i'm hopeful that our cozy soup days will soon be behind us, i thought i'd post this recipe.

i developed this last winter when i couldn't find any lentil soup recipes that i liked:

2-3 slices bacon
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion - finely copped
1 clove garlic - diced
1 stalk celery - diced
1 medium carrot - peeled and diced
2 plum tomatoes - diced
1 teaspoon cumin
dash red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon red wine/worcestershire sauce
1 cup lentils - rinsed and picked through
3-3 1/2 cups chicken (or veggie) stock
1-1 1/2 cups water

in large soup pot, melt one tablespoon butter under medium-low heat.  chop bacon and add to pot.  cook bacon over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes.  add onion, garlic, celery, carrot, cumin, red pepper flakes and bay leaves (add the other tablespoon of butter if you need to).  cook over medium heat until veggies are soft (approx 7-10 minutes).  salt and pepper to taste as the veggies cook.  add one tomato (reserve other) and one tablespoon red wine (or worcestershire sauce, or both!) to mixture.  mix in lentils and chicken stock.  stir well and cook until lentils are done - 20-30 minutes.  add water or chicken stock as the soup cooks depending upon how thick you want your soup.  

serve with a sprinkling of the raw diced tomato on top (chives are also a nice addition).   i also like to eat mine with a nice hunk of homemade whole wheat bread, but the lentils are filling enough that you certainly don't need that.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

food rut

occasionally, i get in a food rut:  i don't feel like cooking, i don't know what i want to eat, and i feel generally uninspired about food.  i'm chalking that current feeling up to the switch in seasons.
  
i am excited about getting off the wait list for a neighborhood csa.  the farm that supplies the csa looks so pretty, and i immediately began fantasizing about making a day trip to visit my veggies.  

i'll be getting a weekly supply of fresh veg and i anticipate that making sure i don't let anything go to waste will be a challenge.  however, if anything is going to get me out of this food rut its the weekly sample list of what the farm will likely produce!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

bacon takedown!!


i am super excited to announce that i'll be a contestant in the brooklyn bacon takedown!!!!!  the takedown will take place on march 29 at the beer hall in williamsburg.  details are above.  i am currently in recipe development - any thoughts, ideas, brainstorms or requests are welcome.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

fish curry

at my requests, the boy is making fish curry for dinner tonight.  live, from brooklyn, its fish curry!

2 stalks celery
1 small-medium red onion
1 small red pepper
1 scallion
2 thin carrots
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon fresh parsley
2 14 oz cans coconut milk
3 tablespoons curry powder (he used madras)
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds - crushed
1/4 teaspoon cumin
dash fish sauce
teaspoon fresh ginger - diced
3 medium red potatoes - cut into bite sized pieces
1 1/2 cups sugar peas
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes - halved
1/2 stalk lemongrass
1 lime - juiced
1 pound white fish (we got some really good looking dover sole in chinatown today)

chop the veggies and saute in large pot with 2 tablespoons butter for 5-7 minutes.  salt and pepper to taste.  

keeping burner on medium-low heat, add coconut milk, curry powder, coriander, fish sauce, and cumin.  then add ginger, potatoes, snow peas and tomatoes.  place stalk of lemongrass in the pan.  salt and pepper to taste again.  let simmer for 10 minutes and prepare the fish in a separate pan (saute in bit of oil with salt, pepper and juice of 1/ 2 lime).  add fish to curry, add remaining lime juice, and let cook down a bit (another 15-20 minutes).  serve over rice, garnish with fresh cilantro and enjoy!

oops!  forgot to mention the spiciness - he added 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes and a teaspoon of chili-garlic sauce.

Friday, February 20, 2009

urban composting

something i've lamented since moving to new york is the lack of opportunity to compost my food waste.  a year or so ago, i looked around for a location, within manhattan, where i could drop off my weekly waste.  i was sure that i would find something in central park but didn't, and so composting in new york seemed impossible.

i thought very briefly about the options for indoor composting in yesterday's article in the times.  and, i just don't think i'm hardcore enough.  i also know, that despite her unwavering support for my hippie ways, an indoor composting system would kill L.  

i see two different possible scenarios:  the smell, wafting up to her hyper-sensitive nose, would simply strike her dead, or an errant worm, escaped from his compost nest, would wriggle his way towards her, causing immediate heart failure on her part.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

best laid plans

(not a valentine's day joke . . . well, maybe a little bit)

last night, i was way too grumpy to blog this, but as always morning brings perspective.  i had decided to make cookies for the boy for valentine's day.  i conceived a very pretty dried cherry and white chocolate drop cookie and decided that it would be tasty and pretty with the red and white.  i planned on using a regular chocolate chip cookie recipe and then subbing the cherries and white chocolate - makes sense, no?

so, after work, i set off upon my dried cherry/white chocolate mission.  i went to my neighborhood go-to for all things fancy and was dismayed to find that not only were the dried cherries the color of rust (not the bright red i fancied), they were dried with some chemical process.  the dried cranberries sitting next to them were just the right color and were naturally dried, so i decided to go with that.  on to the chocolate!  and there was none.  

so, i put the cranberries away and went to my regular grocery.  there, the cranberries were dull and the white chocolate was only in bar form.  at this point, it was getting late, i was overly frustrated and deep inside, i knew that the boy would actually prefer old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies.  i left empty handed, and here i am this morning, making cookies without a pretty valentine's theme.

oh well.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

carolina blue biscuits

well, they're not actually blue, but i'm posting this recipe in honor of carolina's win over rat face last night.  biscuits for basketball, you ask?  well, when i lived in chapel hill, a certain southern fast food joint offered great biscuit deals.  their biscuits are lovely and sweet tea divine. . .

but, on to my biscuits:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (i use kosher salt)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup buttermilk

mix dry ingredients with spoon.  butter should be cold, but not too cold (i like to let it sit out of the fridge for 15-30 minutes before using).  cut stick in half lengthwise and then slice both halves into pats of butter.  mix butter into dry mixture.  i use my hands for this and i think it produces the best biscuits.  if you've got a fancy mixer, feel free to use it, but i really think that handmade biscuits taste the best.  mix butter and flour until butter is incorporated (there will still be plenty of loose flour, but all of the butter will be pea sized and completely flour covered).  add buttermilk.  mix in with a (wooden) spoon.  you can try to completely mix it with your spoon or with the aforementioned fancy mixer.  however, i again have to plug the hand mixing method.  its messy, but it really gets you delicious biscuits.

also, i totally don't roll my biscuits.  i shape them (as you would shape a mini-meatloaf or a meatball).  i know this may seem sacrilegious to some, but its just how i do it.  

coat the tops with an egg wash and bake at 375.  length of cooking depends on what size you make your biscuits (i make monsters and minis).  basically, you want the tops and the bottoms to be golden brown. 

fun additions:
goat cheese
cheddar cheese
chives
parsley
rosemary

Saturday, February 7, 2009

curry time


i had been in the mood to try a new soup when epicurious posted a curried butternut squash and lentil soup as its recipe of the week.  i bookmarked it, made sure i had plenty of broth in the freezer and made my first trip to kalustyan's.

i don't know which was more fun: exploring kalustyan's shelves or making the soup.  this picture reflects only a portion of the shelves of spices in the store.   

as for the soup, it turned out better than i expected.  i made a few alterations to the recipe:  i didn't add the ginger.  to be honest, i didn't add the ginger because i had forgotten to pick it up.  when i realized i didn't have ginger, i just couldn't go back outside because, y'all, its cold up here in new york.  but, after completion, i was happy that i didn't have the ginger.  i think it would have added a little too much sweetness to the soup.

i only added 1 quart (4 cups) of liquid - 3 cups chicken broth and 1 cup water.  i also added a teaspoon of cumin and a tablespoon of white wine.

i topped the soup with the cilantro oil.  i also topped the soup with butternut squash seeds that i toasted in harissa - spicy, tangy and crispy - they were a perfect topping.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

fried chicken for shaina

one of my favorite things in the world is feeding those that i love.  that's why when i got an email today from a good friend on the west coast requesting my fried chicken, it made me sad that i couldn't just up and fly to make it for her.  sorry, this is the best i can do...

soak raw chicken in buttermilk (8 hours to overnight) in the fridge (!)

remove chicken from fridge 30 to 45 minutes before breading and cooking

when you're ready to bread the chicken, prepare three shallow dishes:

one with plain all-purpose flour (add some salt and pepper)
one with scrambled egg wash (i add a little water to the eggs as i scramble them)
one with an even mixture of all-purpose flour, finely ground bread crumbs, healthy dose of ground cumin, a little paprika, and salt and pepper

before removing chicken from buttermilk prepare medium sized skillet or pan with approximately an inch of canola or vegetable oil (oil will not cover chicken), and turn onto medium heat.

remove chicken from buttermilk and let drain.  dredge first in plain flour mixture, then egg wash (let wash drip off a bit), and then the flour/bread crumb mixture.  

gently add chicken to oil and fry until outside is golden brown, flipping once to fry on both sides - approx 5 minutes on each side.  do not crowd chicken in pan.  if necessary, fry in batches.  

i've found that boneless chicken (i.e. chicken fingers or strips) are easier and pretty popular.  yes, you lose a little flavor from not cooking on the bone, but i don't miss it too much.  if you are cooking chicken on the bone, you'll want to put the chicken in a 350 degree oven after frying to cook the rest of the way.



Monday, February 2, 2009

superbowl meatballs (aka superballs)!!

a very brave friend of mind hosted a superbowl party in her home one week before her due date.  i ate myself silly and i actually watched the game.  

my contribution to the evening were mini-meatball subs.  i made the meatballs and sauce at home and took sliced mozzarella and sliced sub rolls over.  for homemade marinara, i follow a basic recipe like the oh-so-sexy giada's, but i usually add a dollop of honey to cut the acidity and some red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.  

the meatball recipe is my own, but just like everyone else's . . .

1 pound ground chicken or turkey
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, roasted or sauteed in oil (anything to cut the sharpness), chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh basil
1 egg
1/2 cup (approx) finely ground breadcrumbs

mix the above (hands are best) until ingredients bind together.  pre-heat skillet on medium heat with minimal amounts of oil (olive or vegetable).  at the same time, have marinara sauce simmering on low heat.  roll meat mixture into balls and sear on all sides.  place seared balls into marinara to finish cooking through.  enjoy right away or later.  these also freeze well.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

of snausages and scarves

well, just one scarf actually - i'm almost finished with the scarf for my mom's birthday.  will post a pic of the completed project, but in the meantime, here's one of the detailing....

also, this is all over blogs and the paper, but i just couldn't resist posting about the BACON EXPLOSION

this looks so amazing.  i already talked to my neighbor, downstairs dan, and this baby is going into his smoker out back as soon as we get a nice weekend day in new york.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

knitting


i didn't intend for this blog to focus solely on cooking.  however, over the holidays, i was in overdrive on the cooking end of things.  lately, i've been able to make time for other fun nesting activities -- namely knitting.

the knitting girls and i are making a baby blanket for a close friend.  i finished my first square this week:

no, we are not making a brown baby blanket -- we're making a patchwork of dark pink, light pink, cream and this brown.  we're each making four 9 by 9 squares and are going to seam the pieces together and possibly knit and seam a border.  

i've heard that group knitting projects can be hard because everyone knits at different tension levels.  we're committed to making a lovely homemade gift for our motherfriend-to-be, and i don't think she'll mind at all if its a bit wonky.

Friday, January 23, 2009

"bolognese" sauce

when the knitting girls came over last march, i made a pork roast.  a had enough left over that i had to do something other than have sandwiches, so i made "bolognese" sauce.  i jotted the recipe down in my journal and forgot about it until recently.  it was a great way to use leftover bits of meat.

1 medium onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 small carrots (chopped)
1 stalk celery (chopped)
1 cup pork loin (chopped)
1/2 cup raw bacon (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon fresh sage
1 can tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1-2 cups stock (chicken or veal)
salt and pepper to taste

saute the onion, garlic, carrots and celery in olive oil until veggies are semi-soft.  add pork, bacon, and herbs and cook on medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes.  add tomato paste and cook for 3-5 more minutes.  add wine and stock.  reduce heat and cook uncovered so that it will reduce for 1 1/2 hours.  add more stock if sauce becomes too thick.  salt and pepper to taste throughout cooking process.

serve over pasta. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

asian-inspired beef salad

all this snow is helping me finally begin to post some of the new year's recipes.  

this is a very unprofessional photo of the salad, which was, despite its appearance, quite delicious. 

my inspiration for this salad was one that i had at a restaurant in my neighborhood.  i know i'm biased, but i liked the one i made even more....


salad
bibb lettuce
fresh mint
1 green apple
1/2 small red onion

tear medium-sized leaves of bibb to desired salad amount.  slice small handful mint.  finely slice green apple and onion.  mix ingredients well.  top with dressing and beef.

salad dressing
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger - finely chopped
1 teaspoon (approx) fresh mint - finely chopped
1 teaspoon (approx) fresh cilantro - finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil to taste

whisk together all ingredients except olive oil.  slowly whisk in olive oil to mixture until dressing meets desired consistency.  i don't like oily salads, so i don't add more than 1/4 cup or so of olive oil.  

also, i dislike overdressed salads, so when making this salad for two, i probably used less than half of what the above dressing yielded.  but, it makes for lovely leftover dressing or marinade.

beef
1 lb. flank steak
2 tablespoons cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
dash sesame oil (not too much, its strong)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ginger - finely chopped
2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
small handful mint - finely chopped
small handful cilantro - finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

whisk together vinegar, oils, and ginger soy sauce.  add ginger, garlic, mint and cilantro.  mix well and pour over steak.  marinate 4 hours to overnight.  remove beef from refrigeration at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.  sear to desired temperature (as the picture suggests, i prefer rare to medium rare).  let rest before slicing.  top the salad the with sliced beef. 

enjoy!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

cold and snowy weekend cream of broccoli soup

this weekend was a bit of a nasty one - weather wise.  so this morning, when i had bacon that was nearing the end of its life, i decided to make soup (i love using bacon in my soup bases). 

the boy requested broccoli soup and here's the result...

2 tablespoons butter
2-3 slices bacon - chopped
2 shallots - finely diced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup water or stock
1 stalk celery - chopped
1 medium carrot - chopped
1/2 yellow onion - chopped
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
pinch sugar
2 bunches broccoli - cut up
1-2 cups chicken or other stock
1/2 cup half & half
4 ounces white cheddar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper

melt butter in large pot (large enough for your soup).  add bacon and shallots.  cook for 5-7 minutes, slowly add flour and water, stirring continuously as you add the flour.  add celery, carrot, onion, pinch sugar and cumin.  add salt and pepper to taste.  make sure the mixture is covered in liquid and cook until veggies are soft - approximately 10-15 minutes.  add broccoli and chicken stock.  cover pot and cook until broccoli is soft - approximately 10-15 minutes.  take mixture off the burner and with an immersion blender (this is the easiest way, you can also do in food processor, but that can be dangerous with a hot mixture), blend until mixture is liquified.  add half & half, nutmeg, and cheese and place back on burner and cook until cheese is melted.  

top with homemade croutons and crumbled bacon - enjoy!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

bad blogger

i haven't been writing here, but i've certainly been cooking a lot.  i've got recipes on various scraps of paper and promise to put them up soon.  

as a teaser, i'm listing my new year's eve and day menu below.

new year's eve picnic:

homemade chicken nuggets
mini buttermilk biscuits
cheddar and apple slices

new year's day extravaganza:

lunch
white chili with homemade salsa

dinner
bacon wrapped scallops
beef salad (actually quite delicious, despite this terrible name.  i'll try to think of something when i post the recipe)
lamb chops served with wilted kale and a sunchoke puree
chocolate gourmandise