30 March 2007

Sheer Kitchen - Sheer GENIUS!!!

Holy cow! i want! I Want! I WANT!!! This concept kitchen by SHEER is AWESOME! Just check out the pictures on their website. It's incredible how much storage and useful space there is in just a sphere and a storage cabinet. I WANT ONE!

Happy Birthday Aaron!

Yesterday was Aaron's birthday, so Ben and I joined his (ex?)girlfriend, Kara, and him for dinner at Freemason's Abbey Restaurant in Downtown Norfolk. It's an old historic building that was originally a church, but now it's a restaurant. They kept all the old architecture, so it's rather cool to eat in. Ben said that he'd want to go back just to sit in the building, but the food itself wasn't anything spectacular, just par. Here's what we ate:

Apettizer: FRIED CALAMARI - Hand-battered fresh calamari rings on a bed of marinara sauce.

This was pretty good. I wish the calamari was crunchier, but the marinara sauce was good.

House Salad: A section of iceberg lettuce with cucumbers, red onion, cherry tomato, a cracker of some sort, and cheddar cheese. Thousand Island dressing and a slice of cantaloupe on the side.

Um.. wtf? I like salads using iceberg lettuce because it's crisp and clean tasting. However, if you're going to serve it as something that needs to be cut up, then please at least give me a wedge of lettuce that has been cleaned. And perhaps it was cleaned, but they forgot to take off the wilty outside layer. Minus points. Oh, I could have done without the cheddar cheese as well. A different cheese would have been better.

Main Course: VEAL PALLARD - Veal cutlets dusted wwith flour and pan-seared, topped with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and herbs, served over a rosemary demi-glaze

I've never had veal before, so I thought I'd give it a try. It was ok, but I don't think that I'll ever have veal served like this again. The dish was a bit heavy on the mozzarella and the rosemary. It was reminiscent of veal parmesan, but without the marinara sauce.

Main Course (Ben): FRESH GRILLED SALMON OSCAR - A boneless filet of North Atlantic Salmon grilled and topped with tender asparagus spears, backfin crabmeat and Hollandaise sauce

I had a try of this. It was alright. Ben didn't like the Hollandaise sauce. He said that it wasn't right for the salmon. He probably should have gone with the Chicken Cordon Bleu.

Main Course (Aaron and Kara): ROAST PRIME RIB AU JUS - The best Midwestern beef, slowly roasted and served with out special au jus: I didn't get to try their food, but it looked good. Aaron seemed to enjoy his meal quite a bit.

Dessert: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pie. This was just like eating a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. It was pretty good. I love the way they ask you if you want dessert. Instead of bringing you a dessert menu, they bring out a plate with all the dessert choices on it. It's a great marketing scheme because you're more likely to order dessert if you see what it looks like. I forgot to take a picture, sorry.

The waitress was pretty good. She brought Aaron a free mug since it was his birthday. And she was on top of things (for the most part) throughout the dinner. Her only miss-hap was when she forgot to bring us water, but that was only once. Wine for the evening was 2003 Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva, and paired well with all of our food, save Ben's salmon, but I don't think he cared.

29 March 2007

Please sir, can I have s'more?

So... it's been quite a while since I've posted anything that I've cooked at home. I'm not saying that I haven't been cooking (how else would I survive?), but just that I haven't been cooking anything worth posting. In any case, here's my first venture into the world of traditional British food: Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding!

I've had roast beef before, but usually it's the sliced lunch meat you get on sandwiches. And it's not usually my favorite. I'm a salami kind of girl. I have heard of roast beef for dinner growing up, but my mom (or rather my grandmother) never made it. I don't think she knew what it was, and she'd probably laugh at the idea of having sandwiches for dinner. I never knew what Yorkshire pudding was, and I assumed it was some sort of dessert (being an ignorant American, and all). Obviously, it isn't. It's a side usually served with dinner, and I'm not quite sure yet how I feel about it. I think if we ate it right away out of the oven, it would have been spectacular, but we had to wait a while because Ben went for a jog. Perhaps better results next time.

Here are the recipes, courtesy of Nigella Lawson.

Roast Beef:

1 roast of beef (enough to feed whoever is coming over - your choice of part)
olive oil
salt and pepper
Essence (optional)
Vegetables to roast with (optional)

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Rub seasoning and oil and rosemary all around the roast. Place on a rack in a roasting pan. Scatter vegetables around. Roast for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350 degrees F, and continue to roast until an instant read thermometer yields 115 degrees F when inserted into the middle of the roast. Remove from the oven and cover with foil. Let sit while you make Yorkshire Pudding.

Yorkshire Pudding

1.25 c milk
4 eggs
salt and pepper
1 T vegetable oil
1.5 c flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place your baking dish in the oven to heat up. Whisk together milk, eggs, salt and pepper, and oil. Let sit for 15 minutes. Whisk in flour, a little bit at a time, until you get a smooth batter. Pour into your heated baking dish and bake for 20 minutes, or until puffy and golden. "Bring to the table triumphantly!"

The result was pretty good, which makes me happy! :) What makes me even happier is SPRING!!! The big trees on my street have been blooming for about a week, and it's glorious. Yesterday was a beautiful day, so I took some pictures of it. I'm not sure what kind of trees these are, but they have the awesome little white flowers that just brighten up the street.

Also, the egglings I got for Christmas from Ben are finally sprouting (after I had to plant the reserve seeds that come with them). YAY! They're so cute!

26 March 2007

TRAN = lazy this past weekend

Alright, so I didn't cook much this weekend. Only dinner yesterday for Ben and me, and even then, it was Shake'n'Bake pork chops, baked potato, and green beans. Nothing special. Nonetheless, I still have something to post.

The round up for HHDD#10: Cheesecake is now up on Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. My entry is #46. Voting ends this Saturday (March 31) and you don't have to be a participant to vote, but you can only vote once. So choose wisely. Send your vote to luvbriere (at) gmail (dot) com.

22 March 2007

Yesterday was a stir-fry day.

I had some tofu and veggies that needed to be used, so I decided to make a stir fry for me and my roommates. At first, it was just going to be cauliflower, asparagus, and tofu, but they were only selling white asparagus at the store (and asparagus tips, but I didn't want those), so I had to add a little more color to the dish. I think it turned out pretty well.

Tran's Tofu Stir Fry

1 head cauliflower, florets only
1 bunch asparagus, blanched and cut to 1-inch length
5 carrots, chopped/halved/quartered to match asparagus
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped to bite-size
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped to bite-size
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T vegetable oil
1 T sesame oil
2 T fish sauce
1 T soy sauce
1 T chili flakes in oil
Tofu, cut into appropriate sized cubes and deep-fried

Heat vegetable oil and sesame oil in a large pan or wok. Add garlic and stir. Add cauliflower and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add fish sauce, soy sauce, and chili flakes; then add remaining vegetable. Stir fry for about four minutes. Add tofu and stir; lower heat to med-low and cover. Let cook for 5 minutes. Serve over rice.

I couldn't find the chili flakes in oil at the market, so I made my own. Turned out pretty nicely.

Chili Flakes in Oil

1 bottle sesame oil blend (sesame and canola)
1/2 onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3 oz. crushed red pepper flakes

Heat oil in a small sauce pan with onions and garlic until small bubbles appear. Remove from heat and add red pepper flakes. Let steep until cool. Remove onions and garlic, and transfer to a container.

20 March 2007

The Restaurant Round-up

I never take my camera to dinner when we're going out to a restaurant. Ok, wait, I take that back. I always take my camera, but then I feel weird about taking pictures of the food while I'm at the table with other people. In any case, there are a few restaurants around here that we frequent, and I thought I'd share them with you, since I haven't done that yet.

Thai Erawan
2900-Q Hampton Highway (Rt.134)
Yorktown, VA

Bubba's Ship Galley Inc.
105 Rens Rd
Poquoson, VA

Nawab Indian Cuisine
11712 Jefferson Ave.
Newport News, VA

Al Fresco Italian Cuisine
11710-A Jefferson Ave
Newport News, VA

That's all for now. I'm sure I'll discover more the longer I'm down here.

19 March 2007

Competition Round-up

Alright, here's a quick round up of the upcoming food-blogging competitions that I've decided to participate in:

Waiter, There's something in my . . . Easter Basket! (WTSIM #3)- Hosted by thepassionatecook
Food Fight: Eggs (FF#1) - Hosted by Eating out Loud
Fish & Quips: Is English food a joke? (one off) - Hosted by Becks & Posh

You can find a lot more over at Is My Blog Burning?, but these are the ones that I've decided to spend a little time on. Actually, not much time, but I thought it would be fun. Anyone have any good ideas on English food (aside from fish and chips)?

Oh.. Happy eating.. and happy cooking!

green and black

I had no idea this cookbook even existed, but I discovered it today, and I want it! Green&Black's makes my favorite chocolate, which Ben will buy for me on occasion. And everyone knows that along with my obsession with food and cooking and eating, I have an equal obsession for chocolate and desserts and chocolate desserts (Dinner isn't complete without dessert - though I have been known to turn down dessert once or twice). In any case, for a girl who loves Green & Black's chocolate, this book would be perfect for me. I wonder if they sell it at Barnes&Noble. (They do! It just looks not as pretty without the white cover).

Nhan, Don't Read This!

I was really bummed on Saturday because Ben had hopped an early flight to San Diego to give a presentation at this SPIE conference. He's going to be gone for a week, and I probably won't get to talk to him much because of the time difference and the fact that he'll be very busy with the conference and I have this ridiculously early old person's bedtime. Anywho. . . I was feeling down and had noticed that my roommates picked up the mail (but not all of it) and I had a package waiting for me. YAY! I love getting mail!

My favorite person in the whole world, Nhan, whom I've known since my freshman year of highschool, sent me a present that he picked up in Viet Nam (Side note: I was really bummed when I went home for Christmas this year because I didn't get to see him. He left for Viet Nam a couple days before I flew in, and he didn't come back until the day after I had left). I haven't seen him since July, and I don't get to talk to him as much as I would like, so I was really surprised and excited to get something from him. He sent me these really cool orange plates. I love them. They're in my favorite color, and they're from my favorite person.

So. . . I decided that I'd send him something to show my gratitude. I made these "black and white" meringue cookies to send off to him. I have kind of a love-hate relationship with meringues. Sometimes I love them because they're light and airy and sweet and awesome, if they come out just right. I hate them because they're so fragile and I always seem to burn them or not get them cooked all the way, and they sometimes tend to stick to my teeth or the inside of my mouth. They probably hate me; no love on that side of the relationship. In any case, I made a ton of these little cookies, but most of them burned on the bottom and had to be trashed. Luckily, there were just enough good ones to pack up in a box and send off to Nhan. I hope he likes them. And I hope he doesn't read this before they get to him, that would ruin the surprise.

16 March 2007

HHDD #10: Mascarpone Orange Cheesecake

Here's my entry for Hey Hey, It's Donna Day #10 - Theme: Cheesecake. It's an altered recipe from the Zesty Lemon Cheesecake I had the other day when Ben and I went to A Chef's Kitchen.


1 lb. ginger snaps, ground into fine crumbs using a food processor
2 tbsp. granulated sugar

1 stick + 2 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Combine all ingredients to get a coarse, crumbly mixture. Press into the bottom and sides of a 10" springform pan. It is not essential that the crumbs go all the way up the sides of the pan. Bake in oven for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool while you make the filling.

Note 1: Here's a trick I got from Chef John. He said to turn the bottom of the springform pan upside-down when putting it together. This will prevent what he calls a "rim effect" which makes the cheesecake more difficult to cut later on. However, this also allows for butter to seep out more easily, so I also lined the outside of the pan with a layer of foil and then placed it on a cookie sheet while baking.

Note 2: I actually made the crust the night before and let it sit in a cool oven until I had made the filling. However, I meant to get up early to make the filling, but ended up over sleeping. I didn't get to make the filling until the afternoon, so the crust has been sitting in the oven for a whole day. This doesn't appear to be a problem though.


2 lb cream cheese
8 oz. mascarpone
4/3 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 large eggs
zest and juice of one orange

50 ml Contreau
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine cream cheese, mascarpone, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Blend on medium until smooth and creamy. Mix in eggs, one at a time, on low speed. Add in remaining ingredients. Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until the interior reads 165-170 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Let cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Note 1: It's important that all the ingredients for the filling are at room temperature. This makes it easier to mix everything together, and it prevents you from adding any more air into the filling.

Note 2: Chef John said that to prevent cracking, you can try baking with the oven door slightly ajar. But, he also mentions that the best way to prevent cracking is to just let it happen and cut the cake just right so that you don't notice it when serving or cover it with a garnish.

Note 3: At 375 degrees F, it took a really long time for my cheesecake to finish baking; I think upwards of about an hour and a half. I also turned the the oven off for the last 10 minutes of baking, and let the cheesecake sit in the oven with the door slightly ajar for about 10 minutes before pulling it out to cool.

The Garnish: Chocolate Candied Orange Peel

3 large oranges
3 cups sugar

1 tsp salt

semisweet or dark chocolate, melted (optional)

Cut the peel on each fruit into quarters. Pull the peel off in these quarter sections, reserve fruit for something else. Slice peel into 1/4 inch-wide strips. Place peels in a saucepan with salt and cover with cold water. Boil 15 minutes, pour off water and add fresh water. Boil 20 minutes. Change water again and boil another 20 minutes. Drain and cover with 2 1/2 cups sugar and 1 cup water. Simmer, stirring constantly, until all the syrup has boiled away. Do not let the peels scorch. Spread on wax paper. Roll peels in remaining sugar. Let dry.

Store in an airtight container for one week at room temperature or frozen for one month. You can also dip the peels in melted chocolate and let them harden on wax or parchment paper.

Last note: I found that the cheesecake was perfect alone, or maybe with a little whipped cream. The candied orange peel was much sweeter than I imagined that it would be, so dipping it in dark chocolate would help balance the sweetness.

15 March 2007

God Bless You Please, Mrs. Robinson. . .

Today, Starbucks is holding their Second Annual Coffee Break, between 10am and noon. Now, I don't particularly like the drip coffee that they brew in the shops, but it's free. How could I say no to that? Actually, it took a little coaxing from Karen for me to actually go and get it. It was taking away from the time I was spending trying to start the introduction to my thesis, and it was a little bit of a drive to the nearest Starbucks. But. . . now that I'm back, it was well worth it.

I have to say that I like making drip coffee at home and adding my favorite flavored creamer in it, but something about that way they serve it at Starbucks just doesn't do it for me. First off, they don't have flavored creamers - you have to pay extra for flavor shots, and that would have completely defeated the purpose of FREE, so I stuck with sugar and half&half for this cup. The one thing that made up for the fact that the Breakfast Blend isn't that great was that they were giving away free samples of their pastries at the Starbucks at Coliseum Central. I went with the blueberry muffin and the tazo chai bar. I would have taken more, but they limited it to only two per customer.

Other things I encountered on my adventure:
  • Shiny chrome spinners on a Chrysler mini-van
  • Mrs. Robinson - Simon and Garfunkel
  • Four F-22s taking off from Langley AFB

Better than being in the audience on Food Network!

Last night, I took Ben out to this place that we've been meaning to go to for quite some time now. It's called A Chef's Kitchen. It's the brainchild of John and Wanda Gonzalez. John started off cleaning dishes in a restaurant at age 14. In his culinary career, he worked as a line cook at the Ritz-Carlton in Tyson's Corner and soon became head chef there. He and Wanda decided to open their business (in Williamsburg, VA) after watching Emeril on Food Network and deciding that it was unfair that not everyone in the audience was able to taste the food. Thus, A Chef's Kitchen was born!

This month's menu was delicious, and I wish I had the money to go all the time. I think I can settle for once every other month, for a special occasion or with someone special. Luckily, they give us copies of all the recipes and good tips on how to prepare everything. Also, all the wine in the store (no matter where it comes from) is only $10. I went home with a really tasty Hillinger Pinot Grigio from Austria. Ben really liked the Dolium Malbec from Argentina, but I didn't care too much for it. Another great thing about the store is that they sell great spices that I can never find in a regular grocery (and sometimes not even at Medik's). Oh... one more thing before I get to the menu, John told us about this great Spanish grocer called La Tienda. They sell stuff online and ship, but they are also local. I'm gonna check it out soon-ish. Here's the rundown of the menu:

Soup Course: Early Spring Pasta Fagiole Soup with Baby Arugula and Oven-Dried Tomatoes

This was great. The pasta was cooked perfectly, and it could probably be a hearty meal all in itself if it were a bigger portion. The balance of flavors was spectacular, and it was surprisingly easy to make. This was pared with the Pinot Grigio, which was also an awesome match.

Salad Course: Asparagus and Artichoke Salad with Toasted Walnut-Parmesan Vinaigrette and A Chef’s Kitchen Skillet-Baked Corn Bread

The asparagus was great, but the artichoke was a little too much for me. The dressing seemed really easy to make (and alter to my own tastes and flavors), so that was a plus. Oh, and the corn bread was delicious! I definitely need to invest in a good cast iron skillet now. I'll make corn bread all the time.

Seafood Course: Pan-Seared Diver Sea Scallop with Truffled Rutabaga

John pointed out to us that a lot of pan-seared scallops that you see on TV or in restaurants are dredged in flour. So, in fact, it is not the scallop that is getting seared, but the flour on the outside. He said the trick is to get your pan super hot so that you won't need to dredge the scallop in flour. The scallops had just been picked up fresh that morning from a man in Norfolk. Just a simple salt and pepper will be all the seasoning you need.

This was my first time eating rutabaga, and it tastes surprisingly similar to cauliflower. I like that. The green ring is an infused oil, and a sprinkle of finely diced red pepper finished the dish. This dish was paired with a wine I didn't care
too much for, so I didn't take note of what it was called.

Meat Course: Mixed Grill of Certified Hereford Beef Filet, New Zealand Lamb Rack and Homemade Chorizo

I don't care how much it costs, Hereford Beef is the best. If you don't know much about Hereford Beef, click on the link and you'll be sold. It was so juicy and tender. The lamb was also cooked perfectly. Oh, and the homemade chorizo. . . EXCELLENT! I am going to make some and put in my freezer so that I can have it any time I want. The meat course was served on a bed of sauteed butternut squash. Sam (the sous chef) just sauteed it with some olive oil, salt, and cayenne pepper. This dish was paired with the Dolium.

Dessert Course: Zesty Lemon Cheesecake with Candied Medjool Date Chocolates

The dessert was a little on the lemon-y side, but still very good. And the Medjool Date was spectacular. John told us that this recipe was something that he's had for decades. That they always used to make it when he worked at the Ritz-Carlton, and the executive chef before him took the recipe with him to a restaurant he opened out in Colorado. He also gave us some great tips on how to make the crust and change it up from lemon to orange cheesecake.

I was starting to lose hope that I wouldn't get a cheesecake done for HHDD #10, but I think I'll be able to pull some inpiration from this one.

In addition to the wine, I ended up purchasing this nice big box of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt that should last a year (or so) and a 2.5 oz. container of La Chinata smoked paprika, which I've never cooked with before, but only because I couldn't find it in the store. I'm excited to start cooking these recipes and just trying out new things with what I learned from this class. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is in the area (traveling or visiting), and I'll probably return to this place a few times while I'm down here.

Oh, one last thing, Sam and John both mentioned that a really good conical strainer is a must have in the kitchen. Direct quotes:

- "It makes everything taste good."
- "It costs some ungodly amount I won't tell you."

Here's one similar to the one that they were using: Chinois with Stand. Smaller, and probably not as expensive, but still does the trick.

14 March 2007

Soup in a Minute!

I finally made the soup I had planned on making a few days ago, and it was. . . hmm. . . Let's just talk about it for a minute. The recipe was for Peruvian Sopa a la Minuta, taken from a Whole Foods recipe card I've had for quite a while. Since I was cooking for just me (with leftovers), I cut the recipe down by half. I also added crushed red pepper flakes while I was browning the meat, for that extra kick, and a sliced jalapeno pepper while it was simmering to get it a little more spicy. I think what it lacked most was salt, or at least more seasoning. I think some paprika would have been good. In any case, I ate it, and it was a bit bland, but good.

Peruvian Sopa a la Minuta

.5 lb ground beef
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium yellow potato, 1/2" cubes
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
2 c beef broth
1 c water
1/4 lb capellini or angel hair pasta

Bring a pot of water to a boil.

Season meat with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Brown meat in a medium sized sauce pan over medium-high heat. Remove to a plate and discard all but one tablespoon of fat. Sautee onion, bell pepper, and garlic for 4 minutes. Add potato, cumin, salt and pepper, and saute for another 2 minutes. Add broth and water, bay leaf, and jalapeno pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. In the mean time, add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente (about 6 minutes). Add browned beef to soup, and continue to simmer for a minute or two. Serve soup over pasta in a large bowl.

13 March 2007

I'll feed you if. . .

. . . you move some furniture for me. :)

Wasn't sure what I wanted to make for dinner last night, but it wasn't soup. So that's day 2 of not making the recipe I have ALL the ingredients for. It was a red meat kind of day, but not beef. Ben came over to (help me) move my new used couch from the garage to my bedroom (on the third floor). The couch is made of solid wood and is extremely heavy. Needless to say, I wasn't much help. Luckily, I live with two other guys who are always willing to lend a hand. In any case, I felt that since he was doing this for me, I should make him a pretty decent dinner. I usually make pretty decent dinners, but this had to be a little something extra. Enter stage left. LAMB CHOPS! I had never made lamb chops before. The last time, Karen made them and we ended up smoking up the entire apartment and the hallway. I found a recipe online for Parmesan Herb Lambchops, and I thought it would pair well with these onion potato cakes I read on Fancy Toast. They turned out alright, but I don't think I cared for the potato cakes too much. The lamb was good, though. I didn't have many vegetables on hand, so the dish looks rather dull (like cardboard), unlike Martha's beautiful picture. -->

You can find the recipe online at the links above. It's just like making Chicken Parmesan, only you use lamb instead of chicken, and you also add a layer of chopped mint and parseley before dipping the lamb in a beaten egg. Easy as pie!

11 March 2007


Me: Hello? Voice: Don't forget to change your clocks! ::click::

Ok, so that didn't really happen to me, but it appears that spring has come early this year. That's right. With daylight saving time starting three weeks earlier than usual and the gorgeous weather we've been having down in HR, I do believe that winter is gone. At least for me.

We all went over to Sarv's last night, rather than go out and spend lots of money getting drunk and still having someone left out as DD. I made pasta (but, again, forgot to take pictures -sorry) and we watched Snatch. I've got a recipe for you anyway, sans picture (you get a picture of this tree in front of my house instead).

Tran's Standard Pasta

Ingredients: 1 lb. pasta of choice 1 28 oz. jar pasta sauce of choice 1 lb. ground meat of choice 1 large yellow onion (or 2 medium sized), diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 pkg button mushrooms, halved and sliced 1 red bell pepper, diced 1 tbsp Italian seasoning 1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes salt and pepper shredded Parmesan and Romano cheese

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta to desired doneness. Drain and set aside.

Brown meat in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Season with seasoning, pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook until onions are tender, about five minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for another five minutes. Add sauce and simmer over medium-low heat for ten minutes. Serve sauce over pasta and with bread. Sprinkle with cheese if desired.

Garlic Bread

1/2 French baguette 2 tbsp butter 2 cloves of garlic, minced 1 tsp Italian seasoning shredded Parmesan and Romano cheese Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Halve baguette lengthwise. Melt butter with garlic and seasoning. Spread evenly onto baguette halves. Cover with cheese. Place in oven and bake until cheese is melted and bread is crisp, but not hard.

I got kind of lazy for dinner today. I was going to make a quick soup (a recipe for which I picked up at my last visit to Whole Foods), but I was too hungry when I got home from the market to be able to cook anything decent. Instead, I cooked the last of my asparagus with some Vienna Sausage I had sitting in the pantry. Just sauteed with garlic and olive oil. I ate it with some slices of sesame semolina bread I bought from Panera Bread today. It wasn't the best meal ever, but, surprisingly enough, it wasn't half bad.

09 March 2007

Surprisingly. . . she was craving chicken. . .

For those of you who know me well enough, you will know that I'm a steak and potatoes kind of girl. I like my meat medium rare with some herb butter and my potatoes anyway you'd like to serve them to me. It was quite a surprise (to myself and especially to Ben) when I was craving chicken last night for dinner. I had e-mailed him suggesting a type of roast, but decided that the time put into it just wouldn't cut it for me. On the otherhand, steaks are pretty fast to cook, but I just wasn't feeling it. So, I opted to make chicken instead.

Roasted Chicken and Veggies:
one chicken, cut up
1.5 tbsp butter

1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
splash of soy sauce
salt and pepper

Veggies: 5 carrots. 1 celery heart. 1 yellow onion. 10 pearl onions. 5 cloves of garlic. 1 pkg button mushrooms. or your choice.

Veggies should be cut to what I like to call "roasting size." This means the carrots and celery stalks are cut into thirds and halved (if necessary). The onion is cut into sixths. pearl onions and garlic are just peeled. mushrooms are halved or quartered.

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Season on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil and butter in a roasting pan over two burners at med-high heat. Add garlic and cook for a minute. Add chicken pieces, skin side down. Add soy sauce. Cook on both sides for 4-5 minutes, until you get a nice brown color. Add veggies around chicken. Transfer to oven and roast until an instant read thermometer reads 175 degrees F in the thickest part of thigh piece and juices run clear, about 40-60 minutes. You can make a gravy from the drippings if you desire, but I didn't. Serve with rice.

Sorry, no pictures of this meal. By the time it was done, we were all so hungry that I forgot to photograph it. You get a picture of this Le Creuset set that I really want instead. ;-)

07 March 2007

feeding my addiction. . .

I've forgotten to post about only the best website for food EVER! TASTESPOTTING! Ok, so yes, there's a link to the website on the side bar over there ---> (to the right), but that hardly does justice to the complete awesomeness of Tastespotting.

Here's all you need to know about it. . . Tastespotting is the food-obsessed brainchild of notcot.org (or is it notcot.com? In either case, both are very cool sites.), and its sole purpose in life is to deprive my day of any useful or productive work toward my thesis. It allows registered users (a group of which I can proudly - or shamefully - say that I am a member) to post pictures of and links to food related items all over the internet. It links random web-surfers who like to eat food to crafty bloggers who love to make food (and photograph it to no end - yay for food p**n!). If you don't have time to check all the wonderful food blogs out there (I, personally, subscribe to at least 20 - 10 of which have new posts every day), then it's a wonderful site that gives you small tidbits of information under each picture, and you can choose for yourself if you want more information.

My dear Broccolini, where have you been my whole life?

Ben made dinner last night - which means WE made dinner together. Baked salmon (seasoned before I got to his place, so I have no idea what was on it - but it was good) and sauteed broccolini. A very simple meal for a very simple evening, but, nevertheless, very tasty. He isn't a huge fan of the broccolini since he's more fond of the florets than the stems, but he knew that I liked them, which is why he purchased them the last time he was at the market. I have to say that the broccoli stems are my favorite, which is why I prefer broccolini or Chinese broccoli over the traditional broccoli you find in the produce section of the market. I like the crispness of the stems, in addition to the fact that the little green bits from the florets always get stuck between my teeth (like that elusive pepper).

Tonight's menu is just a mish-mash of what I have in my fridge. So much to choose from! I have veggies (grape tomatoes, celery, carrots, green bell pepper, asparagus, yellow onion, pearl onions, garlic), fish (tilapia, flounder, shrimp), one chicken thigh (bone-in), bacon, tofu, tortellini, half a jar of tomato basil pasta sauce (Paul Newman), dried pasta, in addition to my herbs and spices and oils and etc. etc. etc. Here's what I came up with: Pasta Carbonara (using tortellini instead of plain old dry pasta) and a side of roasted veggies (grape tomatoes, pearl onions, and asparagus spears with a garlic and herb butter), perhaps I'll also toast up the last of my tomato-basil bread as well. Since it's still the middle of the day (not even lunch yet, and I still have a trip to the gym or the runners source before I even start cooking dinner), just picture it in your head and a picture will be up later today. Here's a quick recipe though:

Tortellini Carbonara

2 oz. bacon or pancetta
extra virgin olive oil
3 egg yolks
a splash of milk or cream
a handful of parseley, chopped (or 1 tsp of dried parseley flakes)
1/2 c. grated parmesan or romano cheese (or both)
1 pkg. tortellini (for 2)
black pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Throw in tortellini until they float to the top. Cut bacon into strips (crosswise). Cook in oil until translucent (do not burn). In a bowl, mix yolks, milk, cheese, and parseley. Toss cooked tortellini (quickly - this will cook the eggs). Add bacon and black pepper.

Roasted Veggies

veggies of choice (I used grape tomatoes, asparagus, and pearl onions)
a few cloves of garlic (minced)
mixed dry herbs (your choice - an herb mix would also work well)
enough melted butter to coat all veggies (or extra virgin olive oil)
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Melt butter in a small (oven-safe) pan over med-low heat. Add garlic and herbs. Stir. Add veggies and toss to coat. Salt and pepper pan before transferring to oven. Cook to desired done-ness.

UPDATE: Later that day. . .

So. . . dinner went off as discussed above (earlier today when I was starving - just before lunch). It was okay, but not the best. The veggies were a little over done and the tortellini a little underdone. I ended up not having dried parsley (or fresh parsley, for that matter), so I ended up seasoning with an Italian herb mix instead. All in all, not bad for cooking and watching a movie at the same time (Marie Antoinette).

I even had enough time to make cookies before I was off to buy myself a new bathing suit (TYR - so I can get my swim on at the Y).

05 March 2007

Who needs to read when they can cook instead?

Here's a list of cookbooks that I'm dying to get my hands on (Ok, not dying, but you can understand from my choice of words how badly I want them): in no particular order

Nobu Now -Nobuyuki Matsuhisa

How to be a Domestic Goddess - Nigella Lawson

Can I Freeze It? - Susie Theodorou

The Reach of a Chef - Michael Ruhlman

Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook - Anthony Bourdain

I'm Just Here for the Food: Version 2.0 - Alton Brown

Cooking by Hand - Paul Bertolli

The Nasty Bits - Anthony Bourdain

Working the Plate - Christopher Styler

Washoku - Elizabeth Andoh

Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook - Martha Stewart

The Martha Stewart Cookbook - Martha Stewart

As of this moment, that's all of them. But as a striving cook, any and all cookbooks are helpful and welcome.