Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pan-Roasted Pork Chops with Crispy Prosciutto and Roasted Red Grapes *Recipe 25 - Page 64*

I chose this dish because I had leftover prosciutto from the gnochhi recipe. We had all the other ingredients on hand, so it was really easy to put together. I was excited because this is a meal that everyone in my house can eat. My son is allergic to so many things that we can all rarely eat the same meal in one setting. But, today I didn't have to cook two different meals and that always makes me happy...especially when it's time to do the dishes. It was a really good recipe and I was hoping to have leftovers, but no such luck. It got gobbled up in one setting! That's always a good sign. The pork chops were very juicy and tender from the brining. The pan sauce was excellent and had a really unique flavor from the grapes that were roasted in the pan. The sauce went together really well with my garlic roasted potatoes on the side. Crispy prosciutto.....need I say more? I could eat this stuff by the trayful!! Make way more than you need, it is addictive. The flavors in this meal were so complimentary to one another. I'm pretty sad that there is none left over.

2 quarts water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 whole cloves
6 allspice berries
4 bone-in pork chops, about 1-1/2 inches thick
extra virgin oil
1 pound California red grapes, on the vine and cut into 4 smaller bunches
freshly ground black pepper
8 slices (3 ozs) prosciutto
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in slices and chilled
fresh italian flat-leaf parsley leaves for garnish (I didn't have this, my local store doesn't carry it)

In a resealable bag combine the water, sugar, the 1/4 cup salt, thyme, cloves, allspice berries to make a brine. Add the pork chops, seal the bag, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Note: While the pork chops are brining take advantage of the fact that your husband and daughter went to the video store and your 2-year old is napping. Run to the bathroom and take a much needed luxurious bubble bath. Now that you and your pork chops have both had time to soak you can start cooking.

Preheat oven to 425F. Drain and pat dry pork chops. Set two large cast-iron skillets over medium-high heat and add a 2-count olive oil to each. Add 2 chops to each skillet and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until golden. Turn chops, then push them to one side and set grape clusters in pan. Drizzle with a litte oil and season with salt and pepper. Place skkillets in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes until chops are cooked through (160F). Remove from oven and set chops and clusters of grapes aside on plate; keep warm. Note: Tyler's recipe says to cook the prosciutto in the oven at this point, but your chops would get cold for sure. I cooked the prosciutto prior to the pork chops by placing it on a roasting tray in a single layer and roasting for 15 minutes, until golden and crispy. It was really easy to reheat in the oven when the chops were done. I simply put the tray back in the oven for about 1 minute.

Combine pan juices in one pan and set over medium heat. Add chicken broth to the pan, scraping the bottom to loosen all the brown bits. Whisk in the chilled butter to thicken the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Serve pork chops with roasted grapes, crispy prosciutto, and pan sauce. Garnish with parsley.

Serves 4 (I made a total of 6 pork chops)
Time: 1 hour

Try this one! You'll enjoy it for sure.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Berry-Brioche Bread Pudding with Lemon Fondant *Recipe 24 - Page 204*

This is one of the most delicious things I have ate in a long time! Even if you don't think of yourself as a bread pudding fan, this is an awesome recipe! It is dense and crisp on top and tastes like berries with a lemon glaze. Absolute heaven! Worth blowing the diet. I couldn't find brioche bread, so I made my own. Please make this recipe, you will not be sorry:


You will need: 6 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks, 3/4 cup whole milk, 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, 3/4 granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling, 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 (12-14oz) loaf brioche, 2 cups mixed berries(blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), 1 recipe Lemon Fondant

Lemon Fondant: Combine 2 cups of confectioner's sugar with the juice of 2 lemons and 2 teaspoons lemon zest in a bowl. If necessary, add a splash of water to achieve a dizzling consistency.

Directions: In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and egg yolks, the milk (I used 2%), cream, 3/4 cup sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest. Tear the brioche into large pieces (couldn't find locally, so I made my own). I tore mine in pretty large chunks and I am happy I did. Layer the torn brioche pieces in a 9 X 11 baking pan with 2 cups of the mixed berries. (I bought a bag of frozen blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries and it was exactly 2 cups of berries. This was a much cheaper and easier option. The bag was $2.99 and then I had the berries on hand for whenever I made the brioche). Pour the egg mixture over the top and press down gently on top with the flat side of the spoon so the bread soaks up the liquid. Set in the fridge for 15 minutes to soak.

Preheat oven to 350F. Sprinkle the bread pudding liberally with granulated sugar. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes until pudding has puffed up slightly and the custard is set. (If it gets too brown on the top, tent it with foil while baking). Serve warm bread pudding with a drizzle of Lemon Fondant. Pure Heaven. And, this is coming from someone who TRIES to like bread pudding. I say I try, I really don't enjoy it. However, this recipe is decadent and just plain delicious. I am willing to bet anyone will love it and I am thinking about making it for our new neighbors who are moving in this weekend.

This is the only Tyler recipe that I have made this week. I was behind from being sick with the flu last week. We had to get caught up on so many things....

Serves 6 to 8 (more like 8)

*Tyler's version takes 1 hour. I made the bread myself so it pretty much took me all night!! You know a recipe is terrific when you are writing about it at midnight.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I bought a great new book all about baking breads! It really is a pretty book by Eric Treuille & Ursula Ferrigno and it is simply called "bread". It is a wonderful resource for a new baker. It shows pictures of each bread and gives many variations on each recipe. It explains all about working with dough, as well as different types of flours and add-ins. I am currently IN LOVE with this book. It's the best $12.95 that I've spent in awhile.

Tonight I baked a loaf of brioche. One of the reasons that I've started baking bread is because there are no good choices at our supermarkets. I have never seen brioche or challah at our market. I don't even think Panera carries this type of bread. Well, now I am so excited that I can bake any bread that I want or need. And, the best part: I can do it myself! Cheaper, fresher, and just better!!

This is only about the 8th or 9th time that I've baked any bread at all and I would still consider myself "very new". They say that brioche dough can be hard to work with and it certainly was. It went fine up until the time that I had to work in one and a half sticks of butter. Then it truly became a buttery and greasy nightmare and my husband, daughter and myself really didn't think the bread would turn out.

I am very happy to say that it turned out very tasty. I have never had brioche before, but it is very much like a croissant. I will be making this bread again very soon. We were very impressed. I made this loaf for my next post, Berry-Brioche Bread Pudding with Lemon Fondant. I think Tyler would be impressed that I made my own brioche!! The recipe is not included in this post, but you can find many others online at foodnetwork or allrecipes.

Happy Weekend!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chicken and Marsala w/out Mushrooms *Recipe 23 - Page 87*

This has not been a great week. My daughter had a fever all weekend and ended up with strep throat and then I tested postive for the flu, strain A. I have never had the real flu before and do not care if I never get it again. I got a burst of energy one night and decided I had better cook the chicken in my fridge before I had to throw it away. If this recipe hadn't been so easy than this chicken would've bit the dust. I didn't have the mushrooms, but decided that I would go ahead with it anyway. I was surprised at how easy and delicious this recipe was. I was also happy that I did cook this because then my daughter and I had leftovers to eat all week. I will totally make this dish again and again. You know something is really good when you can eat it while being sick with the flu!!

Ingredients: 1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces, kosher salt and pepper, extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 stic unsalted butter, 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 bunch fresh tyme, 2 cups halved button mushrooms, 2 diced shallots, 1-1/2 cups sweet Marsala wine, 1 cup chicken broth, 1/2 stick butter cut into cubes, 2 cups penne pasta

Directions: Rinse chicken pieces, then pat dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large roasting pan heat a 3 count of olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken and brown in hot oil for about 10 minutes, until golden all over turning pieces to brown on all sides. Remove chicken from pan and set aside on another plate. Add garlic, thyme, mushrooms, and shallots to hot roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper and saute until mushrooms are brown and shallots are slightly caramelized. Deglaze pan with Marsala and chicken broth, scraping brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

Nestle chicken back in pan, making sure each piece has contact with bottom of pan. Top each piece of chicken with butter. Cover the pan with the lid, leaving it slightly askew. Cook over medium-low heat about 30 minutes (or until chicken is 180F with a thermometer). Baste chicken with pan juices periodically.

Meanwhile, cook the penne pasta to package directions. Season with the chicken with salt and pepper and serve with penne pasta.

This is recipe is a keeper!! Easy and delicious!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Homemade Pizza Dough/Pizza

I was searching blogs the other day and found a great group who attempts to bake all their own breads. This was really appealing to me since baking bread is my new obsession. Cooking my way through Tyler's book forced me to reattempt baking with yeast. I had a successfun run with his Parker House Rolls and have been hooked ever since. I am curious about all breads now and my husband has been wanting to try pizza from scratch. This pizza turned out better than I thought it would. The whole house smelled like a pizzeria and the pizza itself was so good! You would think it came out of a brick oven. I used a pizza dough recipe from food network: This recipe seemed to have really good reviews. Let me just say that we were so impressed with this pizza dough that I do not see a reason to change recipes.

The key to baking this pizza was to put your pizza stone in a 500F oven and let it heat up. Prepare the pizza and slide onto the hot stone. You will hear that sizzle when the pizza heats the stone. That is what makes that crust so good. We topped our pizza with tomato sauce, lots of pepperoni, and a spicy marinated mozzarella cheese. I also added some fresh basil, red pepper flakes and some freshly grated parmesan. The end result was out of this world! We are excited about coming up with all kinds of toppings.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day Truffles

Happy Valentine's Day!!! What better way to celebrate than with chocolate? Today I made four different types of truffles. I followed Alton Brown's recipe on Food Network and omitted the brandy. I wanted to make truffles without liquor since they were for children. Instead of coating the truffles in cocoa power we used: crushed and salted cashews, rainbow sprinkles, powdered sugar, and mint flavored sprinkles. The truffles turned out so pretty and they were so addictive!! They were smooth and creamy and well, I had to try all four different flavors. If you love a good truffle recipe, try Alton Brown's on Food Network:

Potato Gnochhi with Peas, Prosciutto, and Ricotta - TFF

When I created this blog I was fortunate enough to find another blog named Tyler Florence Fridays. This blog is so much fun to be a part of. We can cook any recipe from Tyler's collection and then everyone's recipes are posted each Friday. There is always a wide variety of items each Friday and I really look forward to seeing what others cook. It is inspiring to me since I am currently cooking my way through one of Tyler's newest books, Stirring the Pot. This recipe was our February monthly challenge. If you click on the TFF link on my page you will be able to view the recipe.

This dish was very flavorful and was full of different textures. There was the crispy prosciutto and peas, the soft and fluffy gnochhi, the creamy ricotta, and the smooth sauce with shallots. I don't think I would change anything about this dish. It really is a perfect and complex dish and hits all your taste buds. I will say, however, that this was a rather lengthy dish to prepare. I'm guessing it took at least over an hour to get everything together and plated. Towards the end there were several things happening at once. Next time, I would make the gnochhi ahead of time, if possible. I would also have the ricotta prepared and set aside. This way you could concentrate on cooking the gnochhi, baking the prosciutto, blanching the peas, and making the sauce.

I am looking forward to seeing other people cook this recipe during February. I am willing to bet that everyone who tries this recipe will love it.

Good recipe Tyler!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chicken Parmesan *Recipe 22 Page 84*

This is a great classic recipe and will become a staple in my home. For some reason we usually go out to eat and get chicken parmesan. Why oh why do I spend $12 or more on this when I can make a whole batch for the price of one? Anyway, this chicken parmesan was even good leftover the next day.
extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 bunch fresh basil sprigs (about 8 sprigs), leaves only
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
2 28-ounce cans whole San Marzano tomatoes - handcrushed-
pinch sugar
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1.5 lbs. total)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water
1 cup dried bread crumbs
1 8oz. ball fresh mozzarella, drained
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 pound spaghetti

Note: I made one change to this recipe. Tyler said to drain the 2 28oz. cans of tomatoes. I did this to begin with and reserved the liquid. (I don't throw anything out, let alone San Marzano tomato juice). While cooking the tomato sauce it was very chunky and did not look like it would cover the whole dish. It also didn't look very appealing either. I added all the tomato juice back into the sauce and it was still barely enough to cover the chicken and the spaghetti. If you try this your juice. You will probably need it.

Saute 1 medium onion with the garlic and bay leaves in about 2 tbsp of olive oil. Cook and stir for 5 minutes until fragrant and soft. Hand tear half of the basil leaves. Add the olives and hand-torn basil. Carefully add the tomatoes; cook and stir about 15 minutes until the liquid is cooked down and the sauce is thick. Season with sugar, salt, and pepper. Lower the heat, cover, and keep warm. **This is where you will probably have to add your juice back in depending on how you like your sauce.

Cover yoru chicken breasts with parchment or plastic wrap and pound until 1/2 thin. Put the flour on a large shallow plate; season flour with salt and pepper. Combine eggs and water in a wide bowl and beat until frothy. Put the breadcrumbs on another large plate and season with salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof saute pan heat a 3-count of oil over medium-high heat. Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, then dip them in the egg wash to coat, letting excess drip off. Finally, dredge the cutlets in the breadcrumbs. When the oil in the skillet is hot, add cutlets and saute for 4 minutes on each side, until golden and crusty, turning once.

Set aside 1 cup of the tomato-olive sauce. Pour the remaining sauce over the chicken (I left some chicken showing because I like the crispy parts) and sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan. Bake about 15 minutes or until bubbly.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti to package directions and toss with remaining tomato-olive sauce (or leave it plain for your 7 year old daughter who is picky). Cut remaining basil leaves into shreds. Serve chicken over spaghetti and garnish with shredded basil. (Then cut the chicken breast in half and share with your mom because it is way too much to eat).

Takes about 1.5 hours
Suggested servings is 4, but we served about 5-6 with 3 chicken breasts (they were huge) I think each person can only eat about 1/2 of a chicken breast.

Enjoy! Coming up soon is Chicken with Mushrooms and Marsala and the February special for Tyler Florence Fridays!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rosemary-Garlic Mozzarella Balls with Roasted Cherry Tomato Dipping Sauce *Recipe 21 Page 143*

As a child and teenager my mom forbid me from ever cooking with grease or frying food. For years I listened as she emphasized how dangerous hot oil was. When I got my own place and started cooking I never messed with oil. One day, my husband wanted me to "fry" the french fries. I looked at him like he was crazy! I told him "I've never fried anything before. It's too dangerous!" Well, you can guess the reaction I got from him. Needless to say, I fried those french fries and later on I called my mom to tell her what I did. I was 29 years old and I had just fried my first food!! My mom and I laughed and laughed. She never realized how serious I took all that lecturing. Well, now this story gets better.....

My mom came over on Sunday and I was going to make these FRIED mozzarella balls. She said nothing about me frying with oil and I proceeded to get started. I tried the first batch and the cheese melted in the oil. According to Tyler this means that your oil isn't hot enough. I turned the heat up on the oil and discovered my thermometer was broken. This is where everything went wrong! I didn't have another thermometer and the oil started popping and just became too hot. Well, you can imagine what this did to my mom. My two children were banned from coming anywhere near the kitchen. (hmmm...sounds familiar). My mom kept saying "I don't know about this frying with oil makes me nervous". I was in my own little world (this happens when I cook) and I kept trying to fry those mozzarella balls. I got a few good ones, but overall had issues without my thermometer. I'll have to go run and buy a couple to keep on hand in case one breaks again.

These mozzarella balls were absolutely delicious despite all the issues that I had. The tomato dipping sauce was awesome and this is a "make again and again recipe". I am going to try this one again. This recipe is like 10 stars.

Tomato Dipping Sauce: 2 cups cherry tomatoes, 1/2 medium onion -cut into wedges, 1 garlic clove-peeled, extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Preheat oven to 425F. Set tomatoes, onion, and garlic on roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until tomatoes are slightly caramelized. Remove from oven and transfer to a blender, puree; using a towel to cover the lid. Transfer tomato mixture to a pot and simmer over low heat until thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper.

Mozzarella Balls:
3 cups cubed focaccia bread- I used the focaccia I made a week ago. (I had frozen leftovers)
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely shaved
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 pound buffalo mozzerlla, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 eggs, beaten
vegetable oil, for frying.

Using a blender or food processor, make bread crumbs out of the focaccia. Stir in rosemary and shaved garlic, season with salt and pepper. Place flour on a shallow plate, season with salt and pepper. Dip mozzarella in flour, shaking off excess. Dip into egg, then coat completely in focaccia bread crumbs. Place on a tray, set aside in the refrigerator. Pour 4 inches oil into a large heavy pot and heat oil to 375F. Fry a few mozzarella balls at a time for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown and cheese is just beginning to melt. (Keep oil hot or cheese will melt too much and the balls will fall apart.) Drain on paper towels. Season with salt. Serve with Tomato Dipping Sauce.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Zucchini Ricotta Bruschetta *Recipe 20 Page 246*

This recipe was so perfect for the 70 degree weather we had today! It was fresh, crisp, healthy and just refreshing! My mom and I loved it and divided up the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. This is something that is delicate and pretty enough to serve at a baby or wedding shower. It is best served room temperature which makes it perfect for entertaining. You should really try this recipe if you are craving fresh flavors and trying to eat healthy.

1 zucchini
kosher salt
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 French baguette
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 cups whole-milk ricotta
1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest (I used a regular lemon)

Using a mandoline or sharp knife, shave zucchini lengthwise into paper-thin ribbons. Lay ribbons flat in a single layer on a kitchen towel and sprinkle liberally with salt. Let stand for 10 minutes until the salt has drawn some of the water out of the zucchini and ribbons are pliable. Wash zucchini ribbons under cold running water, drain, and pat dry with paper towels. Toss ribbons with fresh mint and drizzle with oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut baguette into 3/4 inch slices on a bias. Lay bread slices on a roasting tray and drizzle with oil. Bake until golden brown on both sides, turning once. remove from oven and rub with garlic while still warm.

In a medium bowl combine ricotta and lemon zest; season with salt and pepper. Stir until well combined and the ricotta is light and fluffy.

To assemble bruschetta, heap a small spoonful of ricotta mix on each piece of toasted bread. Top with a few layered slices zucchini and mint. Finish with a sprinkle of salt on top.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Crepes Suzette with Kumquat-Butter Sauce and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream *Recipe #19 Page 208*

Friday night we went to a movie in Lexington and passed by Whole Foods on the way home. We ran in and I found all kinds of goodies, including the kumquats for this recipe. I have seen a kumquat before but have never ate one and was curious about them.
I decided to cook this recipe for breakfast today. Crepes are a breakfast food, right?
I started by making the crepe batter:
2 cups whole milk
2 eggs
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
pinch kosher salt
Place milk and eggs in a blender and blend. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, blending after each addition to ensure a smooth consistency. Add melted butter and salt; blend for 30 seconds until batter is smooth. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
For Kumquat-Butter sauce: (I think Tyler collaberated with Paula Deen on this recipe) In a small saucepan, combine 2 sticks of unsalted butter, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice, 1/2 lemon-juice only, 1 cup sliced kumquats, 1 vanilla bean-split. Cook about 10 minutes, until it begins to carmelize. Remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier. Place pan over heat and cook about 10 minutes more until sauce is reduced and syrupy. Set aside and keep warm.
Preheat oven to 350F. To cook crepes, dip a piece of paper towel in veg. oil and grease a small crepe pan or nonstick skillet. Ladle a small spoonful of batter into the pan. Move pan from side to side, so batter evenly cover the entire bottom. A good crepe should be paper thin. Cook over high heat; flip crepe when you see the edge turning golden brown. Remove crepe from pan and fold in half and then in half again, to form a triangle shape. Repeat with remaining batter. Line up crepes in a baking dish and spoon sauce over to just cover crepes. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until crepes are slightly crispy and brown around the edges and sauce is thick and syrupy. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream.
The recipe suggests that this dish takes only 50 minutes to make. I think it took a lot longer than that. I thought slicing the kumquats would be quick and easy, but they are little, hard to hold onto, and they also have seeds. I think this dish is worth making, but not really for entertaining or as dessert after dinner. There are a lot of steps and it takes quite awhile. You would not want to start this with guests over.
Overall, this dish was good, but almost too sweet. The crepes were swimming in the kumquat-butter sauce when they came out of the oven. I think that the dish would be better if you cut the recipe for the sauce in half and just drizzled it on top of the crepe before serving. This method would cut out most of the sweetness. I saved some crepe batter and sauce to try this method later. The crepe batter was a dream to work with. As far as I'm concerned, this is the ultimate batter for crepes!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bacon-Wrapped Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Gravy *Recipe #17 Page 54*

For the roast you begin by laying down a sheet of parchment paper and layering about 6-10 slices of bacon (depends on size of roast). Recipe calls for a 2lb. beef sirloin roast. I bought a 2.5 lb roast. Sprinkle bacon with: 2 cloves garlic, sliced, 2 sprigs rosemary-leaves only, 4 sprigs thyme-leaves only, and kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. After the bacon is seasoned, you place the roast on top of the bacon and use the parchment paper to wrap the bacon around the roast evenly. The bacon will stretch if you need it to. Use kitchen string the tie up the roast and drizzle with olive oil. Place in a roasting pan and roast at 375F for about 1.5 hours or until meat thermometer reads 135F (for medium-rare) in the thickest part of roast. NOTE: My roast was larger than the recipe stated and 1.5 hours was too long for medium rare. I would start checking around 1 hour. Once the roast has reached the desired temperature, place aside on a plate to rest for 25 minutes.
For the gravy, skim and discard the fat from the drippings in the pan, leaving 1/4 cup remaining. NOTE: I only had 1/4 cup total fat/juice/drippings total in the bottom of my pan. Place roasting pan on top of stove top and set at medium-heat. Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour into pan and stir with a whisk until thickened. Whisk in 1 cup beef broth (I thought I had some beef broth, but didn't. I ended up using spicy V-8). Simmer about 12 minutes until flour is cooked and gravy is slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper and serve with sliced beef roast and yorkshire pudding.
Yorkshire pudding: Preheat oven to 425F. Grease a round 9-inch baking pan (nonstick) and place in the oven while you make batter. In a large bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour, pinch of kosher salt, 3 large eggs, 1-1/2 cups milk (room temp) and 2 Tbsps, melted unsalted butter. Whisk for 2-3 minutes until smooth and shiny. Pour batter into hot pan and bake about 30 minutes (mine had to bake about 40 minutes) until pudding is puffed and golden. Serve immediately.
The flavor profiles were all there, however my roast ended up being pretty tough. My roast was .5 lbs. larger than the recipe and I followed the time listed (1.5 hours at 375). While cooking from Stirring the Pot, I will start checking with a thermometer periodically. Maybe some of Tyler's suggested "cooking times" are off a bit. However, I do not think that cooking this roast to medium made it tough. It seems like I just got a bad cut of meat. This is rare for Whole Foods, but I guess it happens. Sirloin roast by nature is one of the leaner cuts and when I sliced mine there was a line of fat right down the middle of each slice. Not appealing!! I am pretty convinced it was a bad cut. I would love to hear what others think though. Please share your ideas on this one.
The gravy and yorkshire pudding were great and I will make the pudding again. It is a totally different texture and consistency than anything else. I would liken it to a pancake. This recipe is a keeper!
The pictures for the recipe are not that great. We had a crazy day today. I woke up at 4am with my 2 year old son who had a fever. He insisted on going downstairs to watch Mickey Mouse. Naturally his ears, head, toes and even his milk (yes, even the milk) was hurting and we never went back to sleep. At 8am the fun really starts....try to find a doctor who is open on Saturday, locate the latest and greatest Webkin for birthday party daughter is going to, run out to buy the Webkin and make it home in time for sick toddler to go to doctor's appointment, sick toddler throws up as he is going out the door to doctor's appointment, wash toddler's brand new coat and special blanket, doctor's appointment starts right when it is time to leave for birthday party, answer the question "when can I leave for the party" approximately 100 times, realize that you do not have beef broth as you pull your overcooked roast out of the oven. Use V-8 in place of beef broth, and unlock door for husband and screaming toddler who had no sleep.
Now I have to say that I was pretty lucky in all of this. Yes, I woke up at 4am but it was my husband who went to the store, took the little one to the doctor, and eventually took my daughter to her party. I mean I was at home inventing new gravy recipes after all. It's not everyday one makes gravy with V-8. Well, finally it was time to take a picture of the meal and eat, except for the flash on the camera wasn't working. I stared dazed and confused at the camera and then I got smart. I found the one person who can fix anything. The guy who had been "fixing things" all day long and you know what? I realized that today wasn't a bad day at all!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Rant for going "Kroger-ing"

Ok, I have to explain this post. I am very frustrated with the local grocery store options. We recently moved from Lexington, KY to Georgetown, KY and the difference in grocery shopping is night and day. We have one pretty small Kroger and then a Super Walmart. I don't do Super Walmart and you don't want to get me started on that. The Kroger store is fine and the people are nice enough, but you just can't count on them to have anything on your grocery list. As you can imagine, this is a problem for someone who likes to cook. I have been use to shopping at Fresh Market, Whole Foods, Critchfield Meats (local butcher), and several other stores. I decided to research other grocery options in Georgetown and I couldn't find anything. I did find this comment about our local Kroger. It really made me laugh and I wanted to share it with you:

The Kroger was recently remodeled. Its former location was in the current Ace Hardware building just up the road. The parking lot is always packed and you will always see someone you know at the store. Most of the staff live here and have worked at the store for years. Be sure to say "hi" to Charlie Hoffman, the butcher. He is a really nice guy and a Kentucky State Representative.

Wow, the parking lot is always packed? That sounds like so much fun!! In fact, it sounds like the perfect place to take two children.

Secondly...I'll see someone I know. Well isn't that just peachy!! No pressure there. I mean I always go Krogering in my Sunday best and my children are so well-behaved in the store. You better look good while shopping at this Kroger... you might be screaming at your daughter while in your sweatpants with no makeup and run into her 2nd grade teacher. That's always the kind of thing you expect at the grocery store.

What was that they mentioned.....most of the staff lives there? Wierd. Maybe they could do something about the rotting garlic that has been in the produce department for the past 2 months. I mean I understand going to Lexington for off the wall ingredients, but garlic? Surely if someone is living there then they will see the rotting garlic. I hope, I really do.

And, the last statement. Well, that just says it all. "Say hi to Charlie". How did they know that was the entire reason for packing up two kids in an ice storm and going to the grocery? I think I've been missing something my whole life. I think it's finally dawned on me...Grocery shopping is a social event!!

Next time my husband asks what we're going to do over the weekend; I'll simply tell him that we're going Krogering! I'll be sure to tell him that we've misunderstood the grocery store all along. I'll have to tell him that we don't go to the grocery to buy quality produce or common cuts of meat. We don't expect to find anything on our list. I'll tell him that we are going Krogering because it's so slammin' you can't even find a parking spot. I'll follow that up by explaining that we might see a few local celebrities and maybe even one of our neighbors, teachers or contractors. I might suggest that we meet some of our friends in the parking lot and go inside together.

Seriously, I have decided that I will probably try to go to Lexington for my groceries. The options are just a lot better and the prices are too. It makes a difference if you can get fresh ingredients.

Happy Shopping!!

Shrimp with Sugar Snap Peas and Cashew Butter *Recipe #16 Page 100*

This dish is exploding with flavor! This recipe delivers in a hurry. It was as simple as making some jasmine rice and cooking the shrimp in the sauce. I think this would be a great weeknight meal that cooks in around 30-40 minutes and is both fresh and healthy. I recommend this dish based on the flavors and textures alone. You could do this dish with chicken also. I am happy that I decided to go ahead and cook this dish tonight. My mom really enjoyed it.

Note: My local grocery did not have fresh shrimp so I had to settle for frozen. Even tough they were frozen the dish was still fabulous. I skipped the step of cooking the shrimp and I simply added them at the end so they could heat through. I also forgot my sesame oil and had to substitute vegetable oil instead. The dish was so flavorful that I didn't miss the sesame oil.

Shrimp w/ Sugar Snap Peas and Cashew Butter:
Serves 4
Time - 35 minutes (actual - about 40)
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup roasted cashews
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. sambal chile paste
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails on
1 cup sugar snap peas, finely sliced
3/4 cup soy sauce *this is almost the entire bottle* - I think you could use about 1/2 cup
1/2 lemon, juice only
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 cups cooked jasimne rice
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
Scallions, cut into thin strips, for garnish
*Tyler's recipe does not state when or how to cook the jasmine rice. Follow the package directions for 2 cups. This takes about 20 minutes of active cooking and 10 minutes to rest. I started this first because I wanted it to be fresh and hot when the shrimp were ready.

For the cashew butter, combine butter and roasted cashews in a food processor until well combined. *Note: I used my blender to crumble the cashews and then softened some butter and mixed it by hand* On a piece of parchment paper, form cashew butter into a log shape. Roll the parchment paper around the butter and twist the ends. Refrigerate until ready to use. Note: I would do this earlier in the day. You really don't want cold butter from the fridge on your hot rice and shrimp. It would be ideal to pull out of fridge and set on counter while dish is cooking. Note: This cashew butter is terrific. It is worth it to only make the cashew butter and serve with rice or anything else you can top it with. I have quite a bit of it leftover and plan to use it all.

In a large saute pan heat sesame oil (*2tbsp could be reduced to 1tbsp), ginger, garlic, and sambal paste over high heat; toast until fragrant. Toss in shrimp and saute until shrimp turn pink. Remove the shrimp and set aside on a plate. Add sliced sugar snap peas to the pan, then add soy sauce, lemon juice, and brown sugar. Cook until peas are crisp-tender. Toss shrimp back in the pan to combine. Serve over rice with a spoonful of cashew butter and garnish with fresh cilantro and cut scallions.

Happy Cooking!!

California Bacon and Eggs *Recipe #15 Page 90*

I can honestly say that I will never make this again. It was a disaster in the kitchen and took much longer than I planned. In the book, Tyler starts off by making the crispy potato pancakes, then fries the bacon and the eggs. The last step is making the celery pesto. This was totally against my better judgement and my cooking experience was telling me to start with the pesto, but I wanted to follow his directions.

I started with the potato pancakes and then fried the bacon. I put this on a baking sheet and let it set in the warm oven. I then turned my attention to the celery pesto and realized that I needed to toast the walnuts. I put them in a pan and toasted them. (The oven was already full) After the walnuts were toasted, I started on the pesto. Let me just say that making celery pesto is not a fun thing to do. You combine celery ribs (which I cut small), celery leaves, parsley, garlic, walnuts and olive oil and mix until combined. I wish it were that easy. Nothing would mix together and I think it took me close to 20 or 30 minutes to blitz all that up in the blender. It was entirely frustrating and I almost quit several times. By the time I got the pesto finished the bacon and "crispy" potato pancakes had set warming in my oven for at least 30-40 minutes. Well, you can guess that I was not happy because the whole dish took about an hour and a half and made a heck of a mess in the kitchen. To save anyone else the trouble, I am not going to post this recipe online. It was pretty and tasted fresh, but it is just not for me. Should anyone feel wild and crazy in the kitchen, this is your recipe. Good luck keeping everything hot and totally make the pesto before you even start. I also hope you have an awesome blender. It needs to be the "Hercules of blenders" to cut through celery and walnuts.

I was supposed to cook Shrimp with Sugar Snap Peas and Cashew Butter tonight at my Mom's......
I don't know if I'll get around to that or not. I'm kind of worn out after that mess. Instead we might do something that is less trouble...maybe Zucchini Ricotta Bruschetta. We'll see how I feel after a couple of hours.