Sunday, May 24, 2015

Potato Explosion?!

Last night I decided to make my twice baked potatoes. So, I scrubbed my 2 regular Idaho baking potatoes and poked a fork in each one. I had the oven at 350 degrees and put them directly on the rack. Normally I would just do this in my little toaster oven, but I already had the oven heated as I was slow baking some ribs earlier. Oh, how I wish I had. It would have been a smaller area to clean. As they seemed to be happily baking away in the oven we heard a muffled boom. I thought, oh that's the oven heating, you know how it can occasionally make sounds? Then I heard it again and Rich said - what was that?? That's when I opened the oven and discovered that my potatoes had EXPLODED. What the hell? Has anyone ever had this happen? I really have no idea. Anyway, hilariously enough of the potato had remained in the skin so I was able to complete my twice baked- once exploded potatoes - I just had to bake them in a pan instead of their skins. 

What on earth caused this? Needless to say, I will stick with my toaster oven next time this mood strikes! Thankfully my sweet hubby graciously cleaned the oven for me today since even though it is supposed to be "self-cleaning" we've heard that KitchenAid is notorious for blowing up the heater when you use it - another What the hell?!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Bread - varieties are the slice of life!

I got a couple new cookbooks (yes, I did get rid of a few too) and tried some different bread recipes - and I loved them all! This enough gluten for ya? And no this wasn't all in one weekend - this is over the last couple months - and I always share with neighbors because as much as I love bread I don't think eating all this would be that great for my waistline - everything in moderation!
Cardamom Braid

Chocolate Cherry Hazelnut Fougasse
Pecan Cinnamon Loaf

Blueberry Buns
These are from various cookbooks and since they were all labor intensive I'm not repeating the recipes here - buy the books! 

Home Baked Comfort - this one has lots of recipes from great bakers
My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz (fougasse)
Jamie Oliver Magazine - the blueberry ones - I found them online and watched the video to figure these out - pretty tricky!
And now I can't remember where the cinnamon loaf is from - it was really tricky too - as you basically make cinnamon rolls then cut them into chunks then pile in a loaf pan and it bakes all together. HAPPY BAKING!

Post note: sorry about the title pun - I get a little carried away sometimes ; 0

Monday, April 27, 2015

Fully loaded Chicken Sandwich And special salad

 Don't ask me why but this last weekend I was craving a chicken sandwich. I happened to have a couple boneless skinless breasts and decided to make a quick yet tasty lunch for us. The good news was that the day before I had gone to the bakery and bought these foccacia rolls so I was ready! I sprinkled the chicken with my favorite citrus salt from The Girl and the Fig and a dash of olive oil and quickly grilled them. While they were grilling I thought - this sandwich needs some bacon - and while digging through the cheese drawer I came across a few leftover slices of proscuitto and decided to use that up instead so I ran out to the grill and carefully wrapped up each piece in a couple slices and just let them brown up a bit. Next I mixed some mayonnaise with a bit of Siriracha - spicy Thai sauce all the rage - spread it on my lightly toasted bun then sliced some avocado and my amazing sandwich was born! Lunch is not boring at my house!

Salpicao - Brazilian chicken salad
And this plate of amazingness is Salpicao - a traditional Brazilian chicken salad that my dear friend Paula showed me how to make. It's shredded cooked chicken breast with shredded carrots and yes - shoestring potatoes - and the best part - homemade mayonnaise! That tied the whole dish together - we served it in little butter lettuce boats for a taco-like way to eat it. Oh and normally this gets made with "canned" shoestring potatoes - but I had the brilliant idea to go to Bistro Ralph and buy their "1000 fries" and it was perfect! Can't wait to make this again this summer with fresh white corn kernels. And that mayo was sure nice drizzled on some sliced avocado too.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Comfort Food - always a good idea

Maybe your tummy is upset or you have a little cold. Or maybe you just need a little love. Well that is what it represents to me LOVE. And sometimes I just need to show a little love to myself - so a couple weeks ago I had a bit of a sore throat and just wanted some chicken broth - but then I thought - maybe a bit of egg to add protein and some tiny pasta and voila - Egg drop soup with pasta was born.
Egg drop soup

Egg Drop Soup serves a couple

4 cups homemade chicken stock (hopefully you have some in your freezer)
1 carrot chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 eggs beaten
1/3 cup tiny pasta shapes cooked
1 green onion chopped (or I happened to have a fresh green garlic so I used that - yum!)

Heat the broth to boiling and add the carrot and cook until tender. Then add ginger and soy sauce and when it's bubbling stir a spoon around so you create a whirl then drizzle in the eggs slowly and stir in the same direction. Take off the heat and add the pasta and green onions or garlic. Serve and warm up your tummy with the goodness. 

Cheddar crust Chicken Pot Pie

Now this was a chicken pot pie that I made the crust - see the little specks - that is shredded cheddar! It was just OK, it did make 2 crusts so I froze one and I think I'm going to try it with apple pie next time… I do love that rolling pin - my Great Great Grandfather made it!
Now this soup - ultimate comfort. I've made a few of Ree Drummond's recipes and haven't been disappointed - definitely try this one - creamy and chunky Sausage Potato and Kale soup - oh so comforting.

I'm beginning to think the key to comfort food is Chicken broth!
Sausage Kale Potato soup

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Special meal for my man

I'm going to share a secret with you... men LOVE women who can cook. Ok, now this really isn't a secret - and I don't mean to be sexist but it's true. I love that my man can fix things around the house - it's a good trade - our skill sets do fall upon the gender based party lines - but at least we complement each other. Anyway, I made a special meal to treat him for being such a sweet guy - love you honey! 

my love on our Paris anniversary trip

Skinny Fried Onion Rings with grilled steak and grilled shrimp  - and it's not even his birthday!

on a Paris bridge
Can't believe this trip was over a year ago! Now we are past anniversary number 26 - unbelievable! Just wish the dollar was doing as well then as it is now - I say we go again!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Leftovers Re-imagined

Leftovers are really my favorite food. Now, I'm not talking about some gross mush that you brought home from a restaurant - I'm talking about the fact that I always cook for more than 2 people so I'm guaranteed a meal or 2 for the next couple days. Now the real trick is to re-imagine them. Don't just eat the same thing the same way you served it the night before - obviously some things can't be changed but lots of things can. One of the easiest things to change up is a roasted chicken - I can't even count the ways you can re-do it - a really easy one is to then make chicken fajitas - just sauté some onions and peppers and then roll up in a tortilla with salsa and some avocado slices if you have them and voila - new meal! I could go on and on on this front but I want to tell you about the one I did this last week -  I made up a use that I had never even thought of before!
Saturday night I made my Jewish Brisket for my visiting friend Suzanna with some potato latkes (I know, I'm a week late for passover) luckily I had cooked the beef that morning because we went to SpoonBar and imbibed a couple of cocktails before I came home to serve up dinner - the only thing I had to whip up were the latkes.  While warming up the brisket I realized the sauce was a bit liquidy and chunky with tomatoes and just not looking that appetizing. Then I had the brilliant (buzzed) idea to puree the sauce - so I whipped out my hand blender and turned my not so great sauce into a delicious gravy. Now, that was good that night of course but then the next day I decided to turn my leftover brisket and gravy into a pasta sauce - and boy was that a winner! All I did was chop up the brisket and then cook it with the gravy - tossed with some fat paparadelle noodles and no that's not parmesan on top - it's freshly grated horseradish!! I'm telling you it was brilliant. If I do say so myself ; )

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Homemade Pasta - it's like music to my mouth!

Music played on a Chitarra (translation guitar) that is. That is my lovely instrument below that my equally lovely friend Carolyn brought back for me (and one for herself) from her trip to Rome in December. And this thing is not small! I couldn't believe it when she walked into my house with such a big box - Carolyn you are "double tuff" carrying not one but two of them back on the plane! Either that or crazy - as she also has 4 kids! Anyway, homemade pasta is pretty easy to make - but as you can see lots of equipment is needed. Okay, you don't need a chitarra but it sure is fun to have. What you do need (and I guess you could do it all by hand as I'm sure Italian grandmothers have been doing it that way for centuries) is a food processor and a pasta machine - this rolls it into thin sheets - pictured below and can also cut it. For the chitarra you lay the medium thickness sheet on the strings - wires tightly strung across the board and then with a rolling pen you press them through to cut them into long spaghetti-length noodles that are square rather than round. The magic happens when to unstick the pasta you run your finger across the wires - it really is like music! And let me say this is the only kind of music I make! Anyway - here is a basic pasta dough recipe - I promise it is a lot of work but worth the effort once you have all the equipment. Oh, final note - once you have made the pasta either use right away or freeze it cut and tossed with some semolina flour into nests - as Carolyn and I found out the first time we made it - it turns grey in the fridge - yuck. I guess you could dry it - but then you are defeating the purpose of fresh pasta if you ask me. 

Fresh Egg Pasta Dough per person

100 grams "00" flour (available at specialty stores) or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 egg
salt (for cooking water)
(about 3 eggs to 2 cups flour is good for 4)

Obviously don't make this just for one serving as it freezes really well - but this is just the basic measurement. Put the eggs and flour in a food processor and whiz it up until it kind of rumbles in the bowl - you want it to come together but not be sticky. You may need to add more flour - it's a bit of guess work. Turn the bowl out and work it together into a round - refrigerate covered in plastic wrap for about 30 min.  Roll through your machine until desired thickness and then cut and toss with a little semolina flour. Cook right away in boiling salted water for just a couple min or freeze in a ziploc in little nests. If you are trying this you bought the Atlas machine - so follow the instructions on putting it through. This is just so you have the basic premise. Enjoy!