Monday, July 30, 2007

A Weekend at Home

Also means an entire weekend of me and my professional quality 6-burner gas about orgasmic! T and I spent the whole weekend alone together and he let me cook to my heart's content. There were some successes (like the Italian Egg Bake I made up) and some failures (like the Baked Brie that was so terrible that I won't even put it on the menu below). But in all, it was a relaxing, refreshing and completely invigorating weekend.

The two big new dishes were the breakfast dishes on Sat. They were the Italian Egg Bake and Raspberry Stuffed Ricotta Pancakes. The pancakes were made using my Grandmother's cast iron pan that no one could figure out what to do with. Turns out that it is exactly like the one that is being sold in William Sonoma. And the pancakes were DELICIOUS!!!

Italian Egg Bake
1 loaf artisenal bread (I used rosemary olive oil)
3 Eggs
2 links Italian Sausage
1/2 C Milk
1/2 C Italian Cheeses (I used 1/4 C Parmesan and 1/4 Mozarella)
1/2 t Salt
1/4 t Pepper
1 t Italian Seasoning
Olive Oil for brushing (approx. 1/4 C)
1/8 C Parmesan Cheese for topping

Pre-heat oven to 350. Cut top off bread and hollow out the middle with your fingers, reserving the crumbs. Brush the inside of the bread with olive oil to completely coat. Bake in oven 10min, making sure to take out before getting too brown. Brown the sauage links in small chunks and remove to drain on a paper towel. In a bowl beat the eggs, add the milk and cheese and beat again. Stir in approx. 1 C of the reserved bread crumbs, using cut up pieces of the top also if necessary to fill the cup. Stir in the cooled sausage and the spices. Pour the egg mixture into the cooled bread bowl. Top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Bake in warm oven for 35-40 min. Remove, let sit for 12-15 min. Cut in slices and serve immediately.

Update to post:
I went to William Sonoma and saw the pan they used for the stuffed pancake recipe. And while the wells are the same as the one from my grandmother, the pan was markedly different. It was a non-stick aluminum while my Grandmother's is a very well seasoned cast iron. Which heats differently, seasons differently, and is wicked heavy. The pancakes were great, but definitely need to be eaten immediately. They definitely don't keep their nice puffy shape very long.

Also from my Grandmother's arsenal for this weekend I made Green Goddess dressing (the recipe is too fattening to even list the ingredients....I prefer to keep this particular indulgence to myself). On the whole, it was a great weekend. Cook, eat, watch Food TV, rinse, repeat.....

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Whole Weekend

I'm so excited, I feel like a school girl. T is coming home from his business trip and I'm finally home from mine and we are going to spend the whole weekend together. He even promised to turn off Felicity (the Flashing Blackberry). I know, it seems so silly that we had to plan a weekend just to spend time, but I was just feeling so lonely. And I was feeling like work was crashing in on my life and sucking me in. But now I'm planning menus for the whole weekend and I'm so excited about being able to cook for someone.

The current menus are as follows:

Dinner (to be eaten slowly, with wine, on the couch)
Cheese Fondue with roasted onions, sausages, and crusty bread
Chocolate Fondue with pound cake, red fruit, and marshmallows

Stuffed Ricotta Pancakes - Williams-Sonoma Recipe View
Italian Eggs over Foccacia

Dinner (to be eaten at the table)
Not sure yet, but I'm sure I'll get inspired soon......

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Birthday Alone

Well, here it comes again, another birthday. I am, as one of my least favorite ex-boyfriends once told me, "almost 30." Yes, I know many people would remind me that I'm still young and have so much life ahead of me. But I still can't help but feel that my prime is behind me. So, in order to counteract that feeling, and the lonely feeling of spending my birthday alone, I am planning on making Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. I'm starting with the below recipe from FoodTV, which is still my favorite late-night friend. Even though the original Iron Chef isn't on anymore. Who doesn't love the Jackie Chan-feel of the Japanese kitchens and super-seriousness of the competition? While T. did take me to a FANTASTIC restaurant for my birthday last weekend, I am still a little sad that he won't be with me on the exact day to give me a hug as I cry into my cosmo and cup cakes about being an old lady.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe: Recipes: Food Network

I'll post an update on the success of the cupcakes. But for tonight, I'm off to my first cooking class ever. It is kitchen basics, and starting with stocks. Of course T. makes lots of jokes about how I am learning about stocks and bonds, but since I haven't ever had a cooking class I may as well start at the bottom.....with boiling water.

I wish I had more energy to write. But frankly, between the heat, the frustrating job, and being alone right now I just don't have the energy to do much. It will probably be toast and yogurt for dinner again. Sigh.........

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fire Alarm

I've hit pretty close to break-down. Ok, so I am in the process of a break down...... No need to correct me, I know I'm a little unstable. Betweent the move, the family in town, having other people in the house, work travel, T's travel, and just general unrest I've been getting more and more depressed. And having other people in the house makes it pretty hard to find enough space to relax, destress, and get back to normal. I guess its been building for a while.

The fire alarm went off last night, both literally and figuratively. I got to the point of not wanting to be in the house anymore. It was the emotional equivalent of a very loud, uncontrollable siren. Which is probably how I sounded in my crying, shaking, sniveling, dripping breakdown. But it was, in many ways, what I needed. I need some space, I need some quiet, and mostly I need some of the pressures to relax. I think the breakdown came just soon enough to not do anything more drastic than take a little time off with my feet up.

The more entertaining alarm was the bacon that I burned, while talking to my dad on the phone. Apparently bacon cooks more quickly than I think, and it smokes. And not in a good way. But again, we have alarms for a reason, and while the house smelled like burned bacon, and I'm pretty sure we woke up the whole neighborhood, the house is still standing and I did have enough bacon left to salvage the sandwich. Which actually turned out very tasty.

Cheddar, Apple, Bacon Melt with Carmelized Onion Mayo

2 slices of bread (pumpernickel is suggested)
1/4-1/2 Apple, sliced thin
4 strips of bacon
4 Slices of Cheddar Cheese (about 1/4 cup grated)
2 slices of tomato

1/4 C diced red onion
1 T olive oil
1 t port wine vinegar
4 T mayonaise

Saute the red onion in the olive oil and vinegar until very tender and transparent. Combine with mayo and set aside. Saute bacon until just crispy (avoid burning, smoking, and fire alarms whenever possible), let cool and break into 2-inch pieces. Butter bread and lay butter side down in pan. Spread 1 T prepared onion mayo on bottom slice. Layer apple slices, cheddar slices, bacon, tomato and top with the other slice of bread. Grill until cheese melts, flipping sides until done.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Quick, quick

I am usually pretty critical of my own cooking and entertaining. But yesterday I did something that I'm going to pat myself on the back for. Saturday night we went to the wedding of T's cousin. T's family was mostly all there. Family consisting of 2 parents, 3 uncles, 3 aunts, 7 cousins, his daughter H, and a partridge in a pear tree. On a whim, I invited one of his uncles to come over on sunday afternoon to see our new house. But, to be fair, we needed to invite the rest of the uncles, which of course means the aunts come, and the cousins aren't far behind, and the damn partidge somehow made it in too.

Actually, it was a great time. The bride and groom even made it over. As I had 2 hours to prepare I think it turned out pretty well. The recipes are all approximate amounts as I was mostly just throwing things into bowls and plates. But all in all, it turned out very well. There was plenty of food, wine, and family........the way Sunday afternoons should be.


Mini Sandwiches

Smoked Salmon Blinis

Port Wine Potato Salad

Sun Dried Tomato Asiago Dip

Fresh Fruit

Sugar Cookies

(menus to come later......I'm hungry now)

Monday, July 2, 2007

Cheese, Mice, and Moose

There is nothing richer, more satisfy, or more indulgent than smelly cheese, fresh bread, and red wine. T. tells me that I was a mouse in another life for the sheer volume of cheese that I can consume. One of the most wonderful combinations that I have had was presented to me at a Michelin one-star restaurant in Stuttgart. After smiling indulgently and putting "some of everything" on my plate from the cheese cart the waiter started adding a variety of spreads and educating me in the combination of sweet and salty and savory. A super-sweet orange marmelade went with the English stilton like some leather-and-lace cliche...... But it was brilliant!

Left with some very high quality (and appropriately stinky) cheese in the fridge and some rather unadventurous in-laws coming over I made two cheese spreads out of the nice cheese and "some of whatever I could find" in the unstocked pantry. The two resulting spreads were rather tasty, and while certainly not as luschious as English stilton, orange marmelade, and a well-aged Bordeaux, they seemed to satisfy the range of palettes in the house.

Port and Blue Cheese Spread
1 C Stilton or strong, aged Blue Cheese
3 T Butter
2 T Port
2 t Balsamic Vinegar
1 t pepper
Cream Cheese to taste

Beat all ingredients in a bowl until creamy. Add cream cheese in 1 T alottments until taste is mellow enough.

Aged Goat Cheese and Scallion Dip
1 C Aged goat cheese, rind on
1/4 C Mayonaise
1/4 C Sour Cream
1/4 C Chopped scallion
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t salt

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and stir until melted, approximately 8 min. Rind will melt last, do not boil.

Serve both with crudites and pita wedges. Goes well with Three Blind Moose chardonnay. Best if consumed without in-laws present to fully enjoy all flavors, but still good if needing to entertain......