Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sweet Basil! I love this book!

Three Cups of Tea

I am trying to select books for this blog that impact my business decisions and as well as, my life in general. This particular selection is definitely in my top 5 favorite books. I think what I took away from it was ... at any moment your life, our world, our business etc. can change -- dramatically. Life in general is highly unpredictable. Overall, I just was truly enjoyed inspired by the story Greg told.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My essentials...

Trader Joe's Chocolate Molten Cakes --- These cakes ROCK! And, they are perfect for the microwave.

Wicked Wednesday...returns

This is a little twist on Chicken Piccata... a great dish as I almost always have all the basic ingredients. The recipe is an adaptation from Ina Garten.
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 eggs with just a dash of water
1 cup Italian-seasoned dry bread crumbs
4 chicken breast halves, boneless, skin removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth or dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers or black olives chopped and drained
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

Pound chicken breasts between within a freezer bag until thinned and evenly flattened. In a shallow dish, whisk together the mustard and eggs. Place bread crumbs in a wide, shallow bowl or pie plate.

Dip the chicken breasts into the egg mixture then into the bread crumbs, coating well. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken until browned on both sides about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a baking dish. Bake until cooked through - 4-5 minutes at 375. Pour excess fat from skillet; add chicken broth, lemon juice, capers (or olives) and salt. Bring to a boil, scraping browned bits from the bottom of skillet. Stir in chopped parsley. Spoon sauce over chicken, and serve immediately. Makes about 4 servings.

Chanel Mascara

There's never enough time to shop and my priorities in terms of shopping have been: work suits, shoes for work, clothes for the weekend, attire for anything special and then makeup. I generally end up buying random makeup at Target which is okay, but good makeup can really be worth it. So, about once a year, I go to Saks or VonMaur and buy some new expensive makeup....which brings me to my Chanel mascara. I LOVE this mascara. It was definitely not one of those makeup purchases...where I didn't think it was worth it. It runs around $20. I like my powder and lip gloss from Chanel as well, but nothing beats the mascara!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Poblano Soup

I had this soup at a Christmas party this year and my neighbor and friend, Molly passed the recipe onto me the other night...compliments of Gourmet magazine. I would never have selected this soup from its list of ingredients, but it was such a great surprise and wonderful for a cold winter day.

This soup, served hot in a shot glass, is wonderfully warming, and the spicy heat from the chiles will wake up your taste buds. It's a great way to kick-start some festive conversation.
Makes about 32 hors d'oeuvre servings
1 1/2 pounds fresh poblano chiles (8 large)
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds1 whole clove or 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
4 whole allspice or 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup mild olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped (1 cup)
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
3 to 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
Equipment: heatproof shot glasses or espresso cups
Roast chiles: Roast chiles on their sides on racks of gas burners, 1 or 2 per burner, on medium-high (or on rack of a broiler pan about 2 inches from heat), turning with tongs, until skins are blackened all over, 4 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, then cover and let stand 20 minutes. Peel chiles, then stem, seed, devein, and coarsely chop.

Make soup: Heat spices in oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring, until fragrant and oil begins to simmer, 1 to 2 minutes.Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add roasted chiles and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Purée chile mixture with cilantro and 3 cups broth (total) in 2 or 3 batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), about 2 minutes per batch.
Return mixture to cleaned saucepan and add cream. Bring to a simmer, adding more broth to thin if necessary, and season with salt.
Cooks' note: Soup can be blended and cream added (but not heated) 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.Thin with broth and season with salt when reheating if necessary.

Where in the World are Julie and Marya?

First let me start out by saying, I love Indian food, especially really good Indian food from a place like, Haandi in Falls Church, VA. Anyway, two of my dear friends from Virginia are traveling in India for the next 2 weeks in an area called Pondicherry. I haven't heard from them yet and I cannot wait to hear about their exciting adventure!

Can food solve a work dilemma?

I was recently promoted and have taken on a new role. I am really enjoying the experience and I am working with a really dynamic team, but because I am from another part of the company, I think there is some skepticism about my role on the team. Thus, I am struggling to feel completely comfortable with everyone. So, I have a plan. I should start out by saying I almost never bake and in Columbus, there is an unbelievable bakery called Delicacies by Shari. She's more than a pastry chef or a baker, she is an artist. So, I think I am going to have her make me some really cool cookies and win them over with food! I also I love this Ina quote.
"Food is not about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable."Ina Garten

Just a thought...friends and relatives far and near

One of the things that I am realizing about my blog and that occurred to me today as I was talking to my awesome friend, that I have a hard time keeping up with all my friends and generally it's the basic "How's your job?" How's the baby?" "When are you going on vacation?" "Are you ever coming to visit?" etc. (I have lived a handful of places since I graduated from high school in Western NY State -- Ohio, New Hampshire, and Virginia.) However, with the blog it's as though my friends see another part of my life -- cooking etc., and I am excited that as they post more (hint-hint) , I will get to "see" more of their lives.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A new grocery store wine

Just a quick post was a very long day of meetings! Anyway, I found a new grocery store wine. It's Chilean and very cheap...$7.99. PKNT is great for a weeknight when you need a moment to wind-down.

My essentials....

In terms of measuring out the perfect amount of salt when seasoning, I really like Alton Brown's salt cellar. Furthermore, Alton is also one of my favorites on Food Network. Who is your favorite?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

One quick note...Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares

Speaking of Gordon... The new season of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares is back on BBC and he is returning to his old stomping ground... the Fenwick Arms -- one of my favs, La Parra de Burriana in Spain.

Kitchen Equipment Question???

So, Emily, one of my favorite cousins called me tonight and was asking me about kitchen equipment. The question was about steamers... but then we had a whole discussion about equipment that we have or would like to have, but know that we wouldn't use frequently. I can definitely identify with this situation as it relates to my mandolin. No, it's not an expensive one, just something I found at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I don't use it very often and it takes up some room in my storage area. The same goes for my potato ricer... it's amazing for mashed potatoes.

So, what's your piece of equipment that you either own and don't use very often or something you'd like to purchase? ( all my friends to whom I know you are reading this... you'd better post!)

Winter Garden

I am missing spring and summer.....just a wee little bit today. These pots are my herb garden from last year...don't know where the basil pot has landed??? Anyway, I live on a ravine with lots of shade, so I put my herbs in pots that I can move around. It was an "experiment" this year, but was well worth it. Herbs in the store are $$$, so it definitely paid off and it was so easy to run outside and get what I needed in my backyard.

Hummus Appetizer

We had our neighbor over the other night for wine, snacks and good conversation. I made this dip and served it with crackers. (It's an adaptation from a recipe in Ladies Home Journal this month -- I know... my mom sends it to me. :)

1 8 oz container of hummus
2 leeks, white and light-green parts only, very thinly sliced
10 ounces assorted mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil and a dab of butter over medium-high heat until melted; add leeks. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until just golden, about 6 minutes. Add mushrooms and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook until mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in thyme.
3. Spoon hummus onto a plate... in a circular pattern. Top hummus with mushroom-leek mixture and garnish with thyme, if desired. Serve at room temperature with crackers. Makes 4-1/4 cups.
(You could also top it off with some crumbled goat cheese.)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My essentials...

My very reliable and skilled cleaning lady is critical to my sanity. It took me a while to convince my husband that this was a necessity, but it's such a great feeling when I come home from work on Friday and my house is CLEAN! (I always invite my friends over on Friday's knowing it's one less thing to worry about. :)

Friday, January 25, 2008

So, last night... I phoned it in.

No excuse other than, I worked late and Wendy's was on my way home:)

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The first Wicked Wednesday

Having made chili last night for tonight's dinner, I realized while I was sitting in an all-day meeting that I needed a "mustard recipe". So, I decided to have hash instead of just chili. I microwaved a few small white potatoes for about 5 minutes, tossed them in a bag with dijon MUSTARD and some chili pepper, salt, and pepper...cut them into small 1 inch pieces and then fried them in olive oil for about 4 minutes. Then tossed in the chili, whipped up a little guacamole and served the chili hash with cheddar, guacamole and fresh cilantro. Very yummy on a very cold winter's day!

Monday, January 21, 2008

My essentials...

The zyliss cheese grater...only intended for hard cheeses, but there is no easier way to grate a luscious tangy pile of parmesan cheese. I bought mine over 1o years ago and it's still going strong.

Sweet Basil! This book was good!

Every once in a while, I will come across a book that really changes my perspective on life, relationships, raising kids, work etc. Last winter, I read The Long Tail by Chris Anderson and I have been talking about it ever since. (Thank you, Auntie Kathy) It is technically a "business" book, but really it's about everything we consume and that the world is becoming a "long tail". Think about a graph with a really long tail across the X axis. The best example in the book is iTunes -- before internet music sales, stores sold the most popular songs based on shelf space. Today, shelf space is non-existent and you can buy virtually any music you desire regardless of demand. The book gets into lots of other areas, e.g, education. It's a quick read and I highly recommend it!

Okay, girlfriends... I have a question

Over the weekend, I was talking about my new favorite tv show, Mad Men and how the world has changed for women since the 1960s. It's been a dramatic transformation; however, the way I see it at times is... We may have it all -- career, family, and education, but we also have to do it all -- cook, clean, laundry, extra kid stuff.

So, my question is... Is it fair? Will it ever change? How can we better manage all of our responsibilities? If you have it all figured out, or even part of it... let me know.

Senator's Caesar Salad

SIL is related to a state senator in New York and SIL has been mastering the art of the caesar based on his recipe. It went well with our pasta dish on a cold winter's night!

1 large head romaine lettuce
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large cloves garlic
anchovy paste to taste (1 tsp.)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh is best)
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse ground salt
2 egg yolks for large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
Trim the romaine lettuce of bruised or browned leaves, then cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Wash and drain the lettuce, pat it dry and refrigerate for 30 minutes to crisp the leaves.
Peel the garlic cloves then put in a large wooden salad bowl.(I did not have a wooden bowl, but the glass was okay...would have been just a tad better in a wooden bowl.)
Mash the cloves against the sides of the bowl with the back of a wooden spoon.
Rub the pieces against the bowl until they begin to disintegrate.
Remove most of the mashed garlic from the bowl and discard (oil from the garlic will remain in the bowl and flavor the salad).
Now add the anchovy paste, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and egg yolks and blend well. Slowly drizzle in the oil mixing with a wire whisk until a creamy mayonnaise type dressing forms.
Add the lettuce, croutons, cheese and salt. Toss everything together and serve directly from the salad bowl!

A fun night with my fantastic SIL

I am lucky to have a fantastic SIL (sister in law) and she came for a visit without BIL -- had to work:(. So with a babysitter on the schedule, we hit a few places in and around Columbus on Saturday night. We started out at Z Cucina and then moved onto Spagio Cellars and then had one last drink and a little dessert at my favorite, Alanas.

At Z Cucina, I definitely recommend the lemon drop martini, the beef carpaccio and the shrimp and gnocchi. (I went off the small plates menu.) Spagio Cellars is fun because you can select any bottle of wine from their great selection and for a small corking fee sit in the cafe and enjoy your bottle. Alana's as always was great and my favorite of the night. The flourless chocolate tort was very yummy.

Is it gravy? Is it stock?'s Champagne punch. My awesome friend Jen introduced me to this yummy treat -- very fun for a girl's get together.
Champagne Punch
1 cup Triple Sec
1 cup brandy
1/2 cup Chambord
2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
1 quart chilled ginger ale
2 chilled 750-ml. bottles dry champagne, cava, or sparkling wine (save the good stuff)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Coming soon.. Wicked Wednesdays

If you attended The Ohio State University in the 90's or even before, you will know what I am talking about. Anyway, I am going to give it a new with mustard!!!

Where's the beef?

So my awesome friend Jen who grew up on a cattle farm was all excited to come over and cook a recipe with me and then "blog" about it. We were all set to make Shepard's Pie with ground beef. But guess who forgot the beef!?? Fresh beef from the farm at that!

Anyway, we debated using chicken but it really called for beef. So, we ran to the store grabbed some beef and we were good to go.

For the filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground sausage
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped very small
1/2 pound mushrooms
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups veggie or beef stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the crust: (This is where we get a little lazy.)1 package ready-made potatoes (like Bob Evans)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup scallions, cleaned and chopped
1 cup Cheddar
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven and brown meat – should be about 80% cooked . Remove the meat from the pan. Add the onion to the pan and saute until the onion are translucent - about 5 minutes. Add the chopped carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, tomato paste, thyme, parsley and cinnamon. Stir and saute for 2 minutes. Next, stir in the flour then the wine and stock. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed. Return the meat to the pan and bring to a boil. Cover, turn down the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Cook the potatoes according to the package.
Season with salt and pepper. When the meat is ready, spoon it into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and level it out with the back of the spoon. After that, spread the mashed potato evenly all over. Sprinkle the scallions on top of the potato, scatter the cheese over the scallions and bake the pie until the top is crusty and golden, about 25 minutes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Miscellaneous Cheese

So, I have lots of random cheese in my fridge... cheddar, parmesan, farmers, swiss, cheese sticks, and goat. In an effort to utilize some of my cheese, I made croque monsieurs tonight. (They had ham, but you could have easily left it out for a veggie.) I combined a few different recipes, as I didn't find one that I preferred. It is really cold today, so the croque was perfect with sauted green beans and a cheap bottle of vinho verde fronm Portugal. (If you are a cheese lover and you happen to go to London, you cannot miss.....Neils Yard Dairy.)

Croque Monsieur for 2 (My 4 year old passed on this "treat.")

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups hot milk
Pinch of nutmeg
8 ounces Swiss cheese (or whatever you have), grated (2 cups)
Handful freshly grated Parmesan
4 2 inch slices good bread, or whatever bread you have
Dijon mustard
6 slices deli ham (You could also use turkey.)
Preheat the broiler.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a whisk for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper to taste, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Swiss and the Parmesan and set aside.
To toast the bread, place slices on baking sheet and broil for 2-3 minutes. Turn each slice and broil for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Swiss. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Spoon cheese sauce over tops of sandwiches, sprinkle with the remaining Swiss, and broil the sandwiches for approx. 5 minutes-- until the topping is lightly browned.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Kids and Food

My son loves a handful of foods and blueberry muffins are definitely one of his favorites. I think he grew fond of them after having them at Starbucks. Anyway, muffins you make at home can be much healthier and kids love to be part of the process. So, today it's cold, wet, and rainy; thus, we spent the morning making muffins...just a traditional recipe. He loved making the muffins as well as eating them. I actually try to do this with other foods he enjoys. Again it's healthier, but it also gives kids better exposure to "home-cooked" foods. We have even made chicken nuggets!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

More Gordon

I mentioned earlier that I really enjoy Gordon Ramsay, particularly his BBC show Kitchen Nightmares. If I had lots of $$ and time, I would go on a Ramsay BBC tour of the UK. Anyway, I am reading one of his books about his life, Roasting in Hell's Kitchen....not sure how you write more than one... anyway, I am truly enjoying the book, particularly his business style. His style acutally parallels corporate America.

My essentials....

Tomato paste in can usually turns out to be such a waste. You only need a tbsp. or so generally. Once I discovered paste in a tube, I said goodbye to the cans. The first time I bought it I forgot to refrigerate it once it was opened...oops.

Traditional Bread Pudding

I was going to create a lenghty post around the Ohio State - LSU Championship game for which cooked a traditional New Orleans feast, but I lost my motivation when the game took a turn for the worst. I am over it, so now simply in the context of food...not food and game... I will share my Bread Pudding experience.

1 cup whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
4 cups cinnamon-raisin bread ripped into 1/2 inch pieces
Butter or use non-stick cooking spray -- 8-inch square baking dish. Whisk first 6 ingredients in medium bowl. Place bread in prepared dish. Pour milk mixture over and let stand 5 minutes. Push down bread into custard. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place bread pudding in larger baking pan. Add enough boiling water to baking pan to come 1 inch up sides of dish with bread pudding. Bake until pudding is puffed and golden brown on top, approximately 50 minutes. (Be careful not to overcook -- really keep an eye on it the last 15 minutes.) Remove dish with bread pudding from water and cool slightly. Cut into squares. Serve bread pudding warm with sauce. (Can be made ahead - microwave to reheat.)

Bourbon Sauce (if you are not into the bourbon sauce - whipped cream and chocolate sauce will do)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespoons bourbon (like Wild Turkey)
Pinch of salt
Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in remaining ingredients. Simmer until thickened, whisking often, about 3 minutes. Cool slightly.

Easy soup for a cold winter day...

I love soups that are essentially a meal in themselves. This one is really easy and great with store-prepared rotisserie chicken. (Or leave it out and make a veggie version)

Chicken Tortilla Soup
6 tablespoons Vegetable oil
4 10" to 12" corn or flour tortillas
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 small bunch of cilantro
1 - 8.5 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
4 cups broth – veggie or chicken
14 ounces of canned or frozen corn
3/4 - 1 1/2 Tablespoons ground cumin
1/2 - 1 Tablespoon chili powder
4 bay leaves
2 cups Rotisserie Chicken
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
juice from 1 lime

Cut up 2 of the tortillas into 1/4 inch strips and fry them in 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. You want them to be a golden brown. Remove the strips from pot and transfer to some paper towels to drain. Season with a little salt. (Kitchen essential – tongs for flipping)

Heat the remaining oil over medium high heat and sauté the onions for a couple of minutes. Then add garlic and sauté for another minute or two. Tear the remaining 2 tortillas into bite size pieces and add to the pot.

Now add the cilantro, stir, and cook for a minute more. Add the canned tomatoes and the stock, cumin, chili powder, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, add the corn, chicken, and cayenne.

Add your lime juice and adjust spices. Reheat, and serve with the fried tortilla strips..

I served this soup with the fried tortillas, grated cheddar cheese, and sour cream. You could also add some avacado.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I want an hour to myself. VW here I come...

So, today is Saturday and my car needs an oil change, so....I am “volunteering” to take the car in for the next oil change. Many car dealers and oil change shops have cable TV, magazines and comfy chairs. It usually takes about an hour…just enough time for your “mental moment”!

The Art of the Junk Bowl

Rachael Ray has mastered "fast" cooking and her "fast" cooking is very appealing to moms who need to cook fast!

I definitely believe that one of Rachael Ray's keys to her ability to cook so fast and so well is her ability to be organized and efficient in the kitchen. She is always thinking 3 steps ahead. One of her best suggestions that has saved me a lot of time is her "junk bowl" for the left over stuff, e.g., onion peels, wine foil, paper towels, ends of garlic, seeds from a jalepeno......etc.

Anyway, I either use a tupperware container or a larger mixing bowl if I am really going to make a mess. It saves me several trips to the garbage can, could potentially be used in a compost, and saves you from clogging your disposal. (It took me a long to find out that there is very little you can put down your disposal.)
My "junk bowl" was a result of the chili below, which was quite good, especially with the corn cakes.

Beef and Black Bean Chili with Green Onion Corn Cakes
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray
2 pounds ground beef sirloin, 90 percent lean
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons dark chili powder, 2 palm fulls
1 tablespoon cumin, 1/2 palm full
1 cup beef stock or broth, 1/2 a 14-ounce can or paper container (I used Better than Bouillon)
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce or tomato puree
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, a handful, optional
2 (8 1/2-ounce) packages, corn muffin mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Butter, for greasing griddle pan

In a large deep skillet or pot, brown ground beef in oil over high heat. Season meat with salt and pepper, then add Worcestershire sauce. Reduce heat to medium high when the meat is browned and crumbled, then add onion, garlic, red peppers, jalapeno. Season veggies and meat with chili powder and cumin. Cook veggies and meat together 5 minutes. Stir in broth and scrape up pan drippings. Stir in diced and pureed tomatoes and black beans. When the mixture comes to a bubble, reduce heat to simmer and stir in cilantro, optional.
Mix together 2 packages of corn muffin mix with 1 cup milk, 2 beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and sliced scallions. Batter should be thick. Heat a nonstick skillet or griddle pan over moderate heat. Nest a pat of butter into folded paper towel and wipe hot pan surface with it to lightly grease. Pour corn cake batter into the hot griddle pan or skillet in 3 or 4-inch rounds. Cook 2 or 3 minutes on each side, until golden. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining batter.

To serve, top bowls of beef and black bean chili with green onion corn cake toppers. Eat the chili and corn toppers as you would a pot pie, grabbing some of the corn cake with each spoonful of chili.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Top Chef Recipes

I don't get to watch Top Chef very often, but when I do I find it "food inspiring". Anyway, last season I saw a recipe for Fingerling Potatoes with Cauliflower, Cherries, and Goat Cheese. I gave it a try with regular small white potatoes. (Fingerlings are good, but $$.) Dried cherries can be hard to find, so you could also use Craisins -- you know for kids or just dried cranberries, but I really like the sweetness of the cherries. The cauliflower can definitely stink up your kitchen, so be prepared.
A note about Top Chef recipes - Because they do things on the fly on the show, the recipes are not always well-documented, so be prepared to improvise to deal with the ambiguity. The one below was an exception and rather easy.

Cauliflower and Fingerling Smash
3 cups fingerling potatoes, sliced, half-inch rounds
3 cups cauliflower florets, medium-bite size
Milk (enough to cover)
1/2 cup chevre
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
Salt and pepper to taste
Place potatoes and cauliflower in heavy bottom pot; cover with milk and simmer on medium-heat until tender making certain not to overcook potatoes. Strain; reserve some cooking liquid.
(I used a potato masher before adding the remaining ingrediants.) In a mixing bowl, add potatoes, cauliflower, chevre and cherries, folding repeatedly, breaking down potato starch. Add parsley and season with salt and pepper

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

My essentials...

Broth is obviously a requirement in lots of recipes and I try to keep it as a staple in my cupboard, but I also always keep Better Than Bouillon on hand. It's a great concentrated broth that needs to be mixed with hot water. It also adds great flavor. I have only tried the veggie version. (I try to do veggie versions of lots of things as my mom and one of my most amazing friends, Marya are vegetarians.)

Gordon Ramsay Anyone?

Okay, I admit it...I love Gordon Ramsay. Next time I am in NYC or London, I am definitely going to visit one of his restaurants. I also love the BBC version of Kitchen Nightmares. Anyway, my wonderful mother gave me a Gordon Ramsay cookbook for Christmas and I gave one recipe a go tonight...a relatively easy one. Tagliatelle with mushrooms -- I didn't have time to make my own pasta -- will I ever? And, I could not find Tagliatelle, so I used a long wide pasta that I found at Giant Eagle which worked fine. Essentially, it was mushrooms, shallots, olive oil, butter, cream, arugula, parmesan, and pasta -- in that order. How could it not be good?