Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Ultimate Onion Rings *Recipe #14 page 145*

One word ...... awesome! These are truly the best onion rings ever! The batter is light and crunchy and the onions melt in your mouth! One of my favorite recipes in the book so far.

This recipe serves 2-4 people easily. Begin by slicing 2 large onions, 1/2 " thick. Lightly coat them in 1 cup of a/p flour that is seasoned with salt and pepper.

For the batter: In a large bowl combine 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 2 tablespoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Make a well in the center and add 1 egg yolk. Gradually whisk in 3/4 cup club soda, chilled. Work your way out from the center of the bowl to form a smooth batter. (I had a really thick batter and had to add about 1/2 cup more club soda).

Pour 2-3 inches vegetable oil into a large heavy pot and heat to 375. Dip the flour-coated onion rings into the batter and shake off excess. Fry in batches until golden about 3-4 minutes.

**Slice some garlic cloves into thin slivers and coat with batter and fry for about 1 minute. Drop some fresh parsley (not battered) into the oil for 15 seconds and garnish the onion rings with fried garlic and fried parsley.

Note: I fried extra onion rings after frying the garlic and parsley and the flavor was ten times better.

These were great on their own, but would also be good with some of those special dipping sauces.

Salt-Crusted Porterhouse *Recipe #13 Page 57*

This was a really good recipe for steak and it has a great presentation! It was tender and flavorful and much quicker (for the immense size) than grilling. The crust was very easy to make and I think these steaks would be great for entertaining. After you apply the salt crust and pop them in the oven you are free to do whatever. The oven does all the work for you. However, I would check the steaks after 15 minutes (or less depending on the size). I was trying to achieve a very pink medium and I ended up getting medium to well-done. Next time, I will start checking the temperature of the steak with my meat thermometer after maybe 10 minutes. We ate these particular steaks alongside Tyler's Ultimate Onion Rings. It was a restaurant-worthy meal. I am grateful for that because the steaks alone were $40. I suppose I should learn a lesson in sending a man to the store to buy steak. Why wouldn't he come back with the largest steak in the store?
2 - 18 oz. Porterhouse Steaks (1-1/2 " thick) *mine were about 20 oz. and 30 ozs.
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
6 egg whites
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only
4 sprigs fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
3 sprigs fresh sage, leaves only
4 sprigs thyme, leaves only
3 cups kosher salt * I found I needed more to make a thicker paste*
Allow steaks to stand at room temp for about 20 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with black pepper. Preheat oven to 475. in a large bowl whisk egg whites until slightly foamy. In a food processor (or by hand if you are me) combine garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, parsley, sage, and thyme and pulse until finely chopped. Add herb mixture and salt to egg whites and mix well until it holds together like paste.
Place steaks in center of large cast-iron skillet or roasting dish and mound salt paste on top and around the sides of steaks. Roast about 15 minutes for med-rare (I would check temp around 10 mins.). Your thermometer should say 125 when inserted for medium rare. remove from oven and let stand for 7-8 minutes before cracking salt shell. Slice and serve.

Caramelized Onion and Roasted Rosemary Focaccia *Recipe 11 Page 212*

I'm lucky enough that I still have the same best friends since early elementary school. What does that have to do with caramelized onion focaccia? Well, when we were about 8 years old we would lay out on the front porch and eat cheese and crackers all afternoon while talking and sunbathing. Goodness knows that having a tan at 8 years old is very important! Well, one of my friends just wasn't into cheese with plain crackers. She is going to laugh when she reads this. She was always very creative and into different combinations. One day she decided that she was going to have onion crackers with peanut butter. She was a lover of onions at a young age and continues to be now. Well, nowadays there is no such thing as sunbathing for us four girls. We have 7 children between all of us, and another one on the way. Sunbathing is a distant memory. However, bread with onions and cheese......well that might be the perfect combination.

This was a very easy dough to make:
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (heated to 110-115)
2 tablespoons sugar
3-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine yeast with warm water and sugar in a kitchen stand mixer bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes to dissolve and activate. Using the dough hook attachment, mix the yeast mixture on low speed while adding flour and salt. Once incorporated, knead dough on low speed for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and fold over it self a couple of times. Form into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover with a towel and set in a warm place for 1 hour until dough has doubled in volume.
While the dough was in the oven rising I sliced 2 large onions and caramelized them in a pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper for about 20-25 minutes. I took the leaves off of about 4 springs of rosemary and grated 1/4 Parmigiano-Reggiano. When the dough was ready I was sure to find my 7 year old daughter. Forget about sunbathing and eathing cheese and crackers. This girl has some aggression. She likes to punch dough. And I mean PUNCH with capitol letters. Grease a baking sheet and spread it out on the baking sheet, dough should be 1/2 thick and let sit covered for another 15 minutes. After resting for 15 minutes uncover and press down on it with your fingers to create several small dimples. Drizzle with olive oil and cover with onions, rosemary, and Parmigiano. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 17-20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool.
This would be a good dough for pizza type toppings. Naturally, my husband thinks it would be better with meat. I made the recipe primarily to use on one of my next recipes, which is Tyler's Rosemary-Garlic Mozzarella Balls with Roasted Tomato Dipping Sauce. It calls for 3 cups of cubed focaccia.
Happy Weekend!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Almost-Famous Auntie Anne's Soft Pretzels

Ok, so I'll admit it......I just discovered baking with yeast last week and now it is my new obsession!! I found a recipe for Auntie Anne's soft pretzels in my current Food Network Magazine. It looked easy enough and we have been trapped inside all week, so why not try it?
Well, they are exactly like the real thing. My daughter said they were great (she ate two) and my husband agrees they taste exactly like Auntie Anne's. We are going to be making these a lot. Tonight we tried the original salt pretzel, a pretzel dog, and a jalapeno and cheese pretzel.
The recipe makes 6 pretzels. So if you or your family members are addicted to eating these pretzels when you are at the mall, here you go....
1 cup milk - I used 2%
1 pacakage active dry yeast
3 tablespons packed light brown sugar
2-1/4 cups a/p flour, plus more for kneading
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1 teaspoon fine salt (I used regular tablesalt)
1/3 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons coarse salt (I used kosher salt)

1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup dijon mustard
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

To make the pretzels: warm the milk in a saucepan until it's about 110 (I use a candy thermometer); pour into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. lLet the yeast soften about 2 minutes; stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup flour with a wooden spoon. Dice 2 tablespoons butter and soften; stir into the mix. Add the remaining 1 -1/4 cups flour and the fine salt to make a sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead (with hands), adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot (oven) until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 and grease a large baking sheet. Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn out onto a floured surface. I recommend letting the dough rest (covered for at least 30 mins). Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each rope into a pretzel shape.

Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the coarse salt. (This got a little messy- I used my hands and sprinkled the soda solution on both sides of the pretzel) Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Prepare the sauce and refrigerate.

Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons butter in a shallow dish. Dip the hot pretzels in the butter, turning to coat; place on a wire rack to let excess butter drip off. Serve the pretzels warm with the sweet mustard sauce.

You really have to try these pretzels. You can even make pretzel bites and your own cheese or pizza sauces. Have fun experimenting!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Perfect Roast Chicken & Brussel Sprouts Salad *Recipes 9 &10*

This was by far the VERY BEST Roasted Chicken I have ever ate!! The skin was crispy and golden brown with flecks of parsley running through. The chicken cut like a dream and was very moist, tender and buttery....You could cut the chicken breast with a fork!! It was just simply juicy and delicious!! I highly recommend that everyone tries this Roasted Chicken (page 67) recipe at least once. To accompany the roasted chicken I decided to make Tyler's Brussel Sprouts Salad with Pancetta and Cranberries (page 230). This complimented the chicken perfectly.

Here is the recipe for the Roasted Chicken:

Perfect Roast Chicken:
1 - 4-5 lb. whole free-range chicken
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, halved
1 garlic bulb, halved through the equator
1 sprig fresh rosemary
4 springs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh sage
1/2 bunch fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 sticks unsalted butter; room temperature
2 cups button mushrooms
Preheat oven to 400. Rinse the chicken with cool water, inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Season the cavity with salt and pepper; then stuff with lemon, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and sage. In a food processor combine the parsley and butter and process until well combined. Season the butter with salt and pepper (I was generous with this).
Place the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan. Tie the legs of the chicken together with kitchen twine. Rub the herb butter over the chicken. Put the mushrooms in the bottom of the pan; roast chicken and mushrooms for 1 hour 45 minutes, until the drumsticks move easily in the sockets and the juices run clear (180 in the thickest part) Baste every 30 minutes. Remove chicken to a platter, tent with foil, and let stand for 10 minutes before carving.

I followed the directions exactly and was so pleased with the results. At first I was irritated with Tyler for the amount of butter I was rubbing on that chicken. It certainly seems like way too much. But, I understand it now. The butter helps with the color, the crispness and the tenderness of the chicken. I bought the whole free-range and organic chicken, even though it was $10.50 and I think it was well worth it. The chicken just looked a lot better when I took it out of the wrapping. I am so pleased with this recipe that it is the only way I will ever cook a chicken again.

The Brussel sprout salad will hit just about every taste bud you have. It is sweet (dried cranberries), salty, bitter, savory...You begin with 6 ouces of pancetta and a little olive oil in a saute pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then you add 2 lbs. of Brussel sprouts that are separated into leaves. You then add 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 3 tablespoons shallots, 1 garlic clove minced and toss to combine. Immediately add the 2 tbsps. of balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup chicken broth and cook 3-4 mins. until the brussel sprout leaves have wilted. Season and serve warm. The picture in Tyler's book looks great and bright. When I added my balsamic vinegar it darkened up the final dish quite a bit. It wasn't as pretty as his was, but it tasted really good.

I'm thankful to be inside and have power tonight. We are very lucky!! Kentucky is hitting a record low with the amount of people in the state that are without power. This is one of the worst storms we have had.

Ice Ice Baby......and then snow, lots of snow

Well, you couldn't go anywhere in Kentucky today, even if you wanted to. Almost everything is closed. Schools, Business, doctor's offices, salons.....even Bob Evans opened up late today. I even saw that one of the malls would be closed. Many cities in Kentucky have been declared a state of emergency. There are over 100,000 people without power, including my mother and father-in-law. The roads are so bad that they can't even make it over to our house. Lot so people are stuck inside their house with no electricity or heat and no way to get out. Last time this happened there were people w/out power for 8 days. We live in a new subdivision and our powerlines are underground so we should be okay.

The trees in my backyard are covered with ice, not snow. We have been listening to the sounds of limbs and trees falling since last night. Now it is snowing......realling snowing. It is coming down like a blizzard. The news says there is only 1/4 mile visilibity. I don't even think there is that. I can't even see the field in my backyard. This kind of weather hardly ever happens here and we just aren't equipped to deal with it. I am hoping that my husband can make it home tomorrow. He has been working in Atlanta for the past two weeks.

Well, the kids are out of school and have been all week. It doesn't look like tomorrow looks good either. I think today we will stay in and make Tyler's Perfect Roast Chicken and maybe even his Brussel Sprouts Salad. Of course, this all depends on how the kids fare after being locked inside for four days......

Good luck to everyone who is dealing with this storm. It is a very bad and widespread storm.....I hope everyone stays safe and warm.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Whole Wheat Pullman Loaf *Recipe #8 - Page 215*

I made a very big mess in the kitchen today!! It started with the Amaretto Brownies (see post below) and then I moved onto baking this bread. I wanted to have something to go with the bread so then I made smashed chickpea salad and then strawberry jam

Dishes, dishes, dishes. I actually didn't even mind washing the dishes because by that time the bread was almost finished baking and the kitchen smelled like heaven!! So far, I have to say that I have been most impressed with the baking recipes in this book. My favorites have been the parker house rolls, the brownies mentioned below and this Pullman Loaf. They are very well written and seem to yield the best results so far. Later this week I will be making a Caramelized Onion and Roasted Rosemary Focaccia and by then I will really know how I feel about Tyler's baking recipes.

This yeast mixture did not bubble or rise as much as the yeast for the Parker House Rolls. I think this is because the yeast mix for the rolls was fed sugar and the mixture for the bread was just yeast and water. This is only my second attempt at making any kind of yeasted bread so I am really learning. Anyway, this recipe was easy and straightforward. I noticed this dough was a little more sticky before the first rising and then it became smooth. The top of the bread was sprinkled with milled flaxseeds. The recipe called for plain flaxseeds, but milled flax was all I found. I am going to have some substitutions this week because our local Kroger doesn't carry all these new and trendy things. Sometimes I go to the big city for groceries and sometimes I'm not so lucky.

Overall, I am very happy with this loaf of bread. It is a wheat bread so it is darker in color. The inside is moist, soft and has a nutty quality. My daughter and I will be feasting on this bread all week. We will be having bread with strawberry jam, smashed chickpea salad sandwiches, grilled cheese, and leftover turkey breast sandwiches. I froze some of that basil pesto from my first Tyler recipe and I might get that out and put it to use. We might be getting a winter storm tomorrow so I am glad that we are stocked up on goodies.

Smashed Chickpea Salad....a reason to make fresh bread

Ok, so this is NOT a recipe from Stirring thePot, nor is it even a Tyler Florence recipe. But it is one of the most delicious salads that I have ever ate!! I found this recipe from another blog (Smitten Kitchen) last night. Here is the link: It is a lot like a deconstructed hummus and it is so good that you eat it on its own. But, I am in the process of making Tyler's Whole Wheat Pullman Loaf (courtesy of Stirring the Pot) and I thought this was a great and healthy filling for some sandwiches. I am so happy with this filling.....all I can say is that you should double the recipe. It is very flavorful. I am keeping it at room temperature right now so that it is not cold when the bread is finished baking. Thank God I went crazy at the grocery store today and I have enough to make more. THANK YOU SMITTEN KITCHEN..THIS IS REALLY AWESOME AND HEALTHY!!

Amaretto Chocolate Brownies *Recipe 7 - Page 200*

Well, there is a reason that I couldn't get a very good picture of these..... I had a seven-year old chocaholic standing over my shoulder waiting to snatch one. After she took one, I tried to get a better picture, but the prospect of a homemade brownie with cocoa whipped cream was too inticing. I haven't made a homemade brownie in years. I enjoy a chewy and fudgy brownie and this recipe is exactly what I was hoping it would be.
Here is the other funny thing about this recipe. I live in a dry county in Kentucky and we cannot buy alcohol here. I had to go to the Lexington county line to buy the Amaretto. Incidentally, the liquor store is actually a drive thru across from a rather large trailer park and it is aptly named "First Chance Liquors". Anyway, I have to think in advance if I am going to make a recipe with wine or liquor in it.

2 sticks unsalted butter
8 ozs. bittersweet chocolate chips
1 - 1/4 cups a/p flour
1 tsp. baking power
pinch of kosher salt
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tbsp. amaretto
1 recipe cocoa whipped cream (1pint of heavy cream, plus 2 tbsp. cocoa powder and 2 tbsps. confectioner's sugar beat on high speed until soft peaks form).

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9-inch square pan with greased parchment paper. Melt butter and chocolate chips in a double boiler and stir gently until smooth and shiny. Remove from heat and cool slightly. (*if you do not let this cool, you will have scrambled eggs).
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Using a kitchen stand mixer, beat eggs, sugar, and amaretto on high speed about 3 minutes, until well combined. Reduce speed to low and slowly pour in melted chocolate mixture, to combine. Gradually add flour and incorporate until just combined.
Transfer batter to the baking dish and bake about 50 minutes. Let cool, cut into bars. Serve with cocoa whipped cream.

I followed this recipe exactly, however I added more sugar to the cocoa whipped cream because it just wasn't sweet enough.

I went to the grocery store this morning and I will be making a lot of things this week. Here is a summary of what is to come:
Perfect Roast Chicken
California Bacon & Eggs
Rosemary-Garlic Mozzarella Balls
Brussel Sprouts Salad
Caramelized Onion and Roasted Rosemary Focaccia
Whole Wheat Pullman Loaf - with Smashed Chickpea Salad as a filling (recieved this recipe from another blogger)

Have a great week!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Parker House Rolls *Recipe #6 - Page 216*

Nothing compares to homemade rolls!! These rolls were absolutely delicious!! They were light, fluffy and easy to make. I have never attempted to bake bread or yeast rolls before so I was a little nervous. However, my Mom bakes a lot of bread and I asked her for some tips. I was sure to have fresh yeast and followed Mom's advise on letting the dough rise in the oven over a warm bowl of water.

Overall, the recipe took about 3 hours from start to finish due to the rising time. I really enjoyed making these rolls and started to wonder why I hadn't attempted baking bread before. I think I always felt overwhelmed by the time it takes to let the dough rise. Now I feel like I have to make up for lost time. I'm thinking about baking all the bread recipes in Tyler's book right now.

Tyler's recipe uses bread flour and a/p flour and he cuts an "x" pattern just before baking. It also calls for brushing whole milk onto the rolls prior to baking. He serves his parker house rolls with a melted parsley butter. I also made the parsley butter and it was a great addition to the rolls.

When I make these again I am going to try a few different things. I probably won't cut the "x" pattern on top because I prefer a smooth roll. Instead of brushing the rolls with whole milk, I might try butter. And, I will look for another pan to bake them in so that I can increase the amount of soft and fluffy rolls in the middle. This time I used a large pie pan and most of the rolls were on the edge of the pan. Everyone fought over the soft rolls in the middle.

If you have never tried making your own yeast breads should!! The possibilites are endless. I am really excited to open up a whole new world to bread.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Crunchy Jicama, Mango, and Cucumber Salad *Recipe #5 - Page 241*

This is a colorful, beautiful and refreshing recipe from the fresh and raw chapter. I was very impressed with the colors, textures and overall flavor. It was fresh, crunchy, sweet, tart and had heat from the pepper flakes. I think it would pair well alongside chicken or pork. It would also be great with any Mexican dish.
Jicama was on my list of rare things I needed to cook my way through the book. I had never bought, tasted or cut a jicama before so I was pretty excited to do something new in the kitchen. In fact, I've noticed a lot of Tyler's recipes involve something new for me. I'm glad I chose this book for that reason. It is always fun to do something new and exciting in the kitchen.
I am glad that I cut the recipe in half because it made a huge amount of salad, which I think would serve 4-6 people. Tyler's recipe is double what I have listed below. Unless you want to serve 4-6 people an entire plate of this, I would suggest cutting the recipe in half.
Ingredients are: 1 small jicama, 1 small cucumber, 1 mango, 2 radishes, 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, 1 lime (juice only), extra-virgin olive oil, kosher salt and cilantro.
Peel and cut the jicama into 2-inch long wedges. Slice cucumber in half; scoop out seeds and cut into 2 inch wedges to match jicama. Peel the mango and slice into 2 inch wedges. Cut the two radishes into very thin slices using a mandoline or very sharp knife. Combine all ingredients into a bowl with the dried red pepper flakes, juice of one whole lime, and cilantro. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and toss to coat. Garnish with kosher salt and cilantro before serving.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pot Roast Risotto *Recipe #4 - Page 112*

Several years ago I attended my first cooking class at our local Williams-Sonoma. It was a class all about risotto. I had never ate it before, much less attempted to make it. It was a well $40 spent on that class. The chef made three different types of risotto and by the time I left I really felt confident on how to make it. I learned that risotto was not a recipe it was more of a concept. Since then we have always ate risotto with chicken and were happy to do so. Imagine my surprise when I received my copy of Stirring the Pot and noticed that Tyler makes risotto with pot roast.....What a concept, can it get any better than that. Furthermore, why hadn't I thought of this before?

So, what do you do when it is below zero outside? Stay in and eat, right? I can't think of a better dish to make when it is frigid and below zero outside. This risotto was a 10+. It was by far my favorite recipe of Tyler's so far. My husband and I loved it and will make it again. We won't wait until it gets this cold though. (It hasn't been this cold in Kentucky for 4 years).

I started with a beef shoulder and seared it in a hot pan until brown and crusty on all sides. I don't have a dutch oven so I had to deglaze the pan I seared in with the 1 cup of red wine and then transfer to a baking dish large enough to hold the roast, the wine, the 2 large onions, and 2 quarts of beef broth. This roasted in the oven at 350 for about 4 hours. When it was finished roasting I set aside and covered with foil to keep warm.

I then strained all the liquid from the roasting pan and removed any fat. You use this brasing liquid to make your risotto. For the risotto, you saute an onion for 5 minutes and then add the 2 cups of risotto and stir to coat with oil. Once risotto is coated in oil, Tyler adds 1 cup of white wine. I did not do this, I simply added 1 cup of water. (I already had open an entire bottle of red wine and did not want to open another bottle of wine.....I'm the only one who drinks the wine in my house....bad idea). I continued to stir in the brasing liquid until it was almost gone and the risotto was tender but had some bite left to it. This took about 20 minutes from start to finish. Right before you finish the risotto you stir in 2 tablespoons of butter and almost 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.

I plated the risotto and then topped it with the pot roast, chopped fresh parsley, and more parmesan cheese. Delicious!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Cheese Tortellini *Recipe #3 - Page 78*

This was a really fun and easy dish to make. I cut the recipe in half to serve two because it was just for my Mom and I. We loved the pasta and the cream sauce was delicious. Neither one of us had ever ate acorn squash, but it was pretty good.

I started by cutting the squash in half and sprinkling with salt, pepper and olive oil. The squash roasts at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until tender. After roasting the squash, I set it aside and boiled the fresh cheese tortellini. In a separate saucepan, I added 1/2 cup cream, 1 garlic clove and some dried thyme. Once the cream reduced slightly I added 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of nutmeg. When the cheese melts into the sauce toss with the pasta and fill the squash shells. Top the pasta with additional parmesan cheese and fresh sage leaves and bake at 400 until slightly golden. This dish is really creative and looks really pretty. I think it would be a great dish for a vegetarian.

This recipe is not posted online.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pasta with Pesto

Today I decided to use up some of my leftover basil pesto from the grilled cheese sandwiches. This is not a recipe from the book, but I decided to post it anyway.
I boiled some farfalle pasta and then tossed it with 1/8 cup pasta water and 1/4 cup basil pesto. I topped it will a little bit of grated parmesan cheese. It was really tasty and fresh. Pasta with pesto is about an 8 or 9 on a scale of 1-10.
I still have about 1 cup of basil pesto left. I heard that you can freeze pesto if you top it off with olive oil and put it in an airtight container. I think Ina Garten did this on one of her shows once.
I am going to try this and see how it works.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Grilled Cheese (Smoked Mozzarella and Basil Pesto) *Recipe #2 - Page 106*

I chose this recipe to accompany the tomato soup. It is from the Saute chapter of the book.
The pesto is delicious!! I have never made my own pesto before so easy, fresh and flavorful. I don't have a food processor so I had to get out my blender and it worked great. At first I was going to cop out and buy premade pesto because it was cheaper. I am really glad that I didn't!
I am going to use up my leftover pesto tomorrow and serve it with some pasta. I used two little plastic packs of basil and bought 1/2 cup of pine nuts. The other ingredients were from my pantry. The cost of the pesto is about $8, but very flavorful. Add it to pizza, pasta, sandwiches. It won't go to waste.
Overall, I would give this recipe a 7 on a scale of 1-10. I didn't care for the smoked mozzarella. I would make this again but change the cheese to something else. Maybe fontina? Anyone have any other suggestions? I didn't like the smokiness of the smoked mozzarella. The recipe worked perfectly and if you like smoky cheese, then this is the right recipe for you. For me, this could be a 10+ with the addition of a new cheese.
Basil Pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh italian flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
*Blend this all together in a blender or food processor
Grilled Cheese
4 slices white sandwich bread
4 thick cut slices smoked mozzarella
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clover, peeled
*Using a knife spread basil pesto on one side of the bread. Add two slices of smoked mozzarella to each sandwich and saute in butter until golden brown. Rub each side of bread with the peeled garlic clove.
Repeat for additional sandwiches.
Serves 2, but you have enough pesto for about 5-6 sandwiches.
Time: 30 minutes -

Roasted Tomato Soup with Fresh Basil *Recipe # 1 - Page 81*

I had my mom over for dinner and she loved this soup. I thought it was pretty good. I would give it a 6 or 7 on a rating scale of 1 to 10, 10 being awesome. This is a good rating for tomato soup. I mean can it ever really be a 10?
This was a fairly easy and economical soup to make. I bought a package of vine ripened cherry tomatoes, 3 roma tomatoes, and one purple heirloom tomato. I estimate the ingredients cost around $8 for the whole pot of soup and it was fresh and healthy, until I added the cream....okay and the 1/2 cup olive oil.
I added a squeeze of fresh lemon at the end to brighten the soup up. You could add red pepper flakes, cheese, or croutons/crackers. I served this with Tyler's grilled cheese with basil pesto and smoked mozzerella. I will warn you that it is garlic overload. There are 10 cloves of garlic between the two recipes. Using mouthwash afterwards will not help. You will be warding off vampires for awhile.
The other thing I noticed was that I used one whole cup of olive oil today for two recipes. Yikes!! I better buy stock in olive oil and eat small portions. Tyler must love olive oil.
Here is the recipe.
2 and a half pounds of fresh tomatoes (mix of heirlooms, cherry, vine and plum)
2 small yellow onions, sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
4 cups of chicken broth
2 bay leaves
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup croutons (optional)
Roast tomatoes, garlic and onions with olive oil, salt and pepper at 450 for 20-40 mins. (depends on size of tomatoes). Transfer roasted veggies and liquid into a large stockpot and add 3 cups of broth, bay leaves, and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 mins until reduced by a third.
Remove bay leaves and add chopped basil. Use an immersion blender or a blender to puree soup. Return to low heat and add all the cream. Season and ladle into bowls and garnish.
Serves 4 to 6. Took me about 1 and 1/2 hours to cook start to finish.

Part Two - RECIPES

Now it is time to start cooking!! I was so excited to go to Fresh Market today and buy the ingredients for my first three recipes.

I cooked a recipe from the ROAST chapter - Roasted Tomato Soup with Fresh Basil
Then I cooked another recipe from the SAUTE chapter - Grilled Cheese with Smoked Mozzerella and Basil Pesto. The recipes were very straightforward and easy to do. I enjoyed working with some different ingredients.

I am not going to cook my way from the beginning to end of the book. Instead I am going to sometimes combine dishes from chapters to make a complete meal. Then other times I will probably have to go by what is in season.

The third recipe I am making is from the ROAST chapter - Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Cheese Tortellini. Should be posted sometime this weekend or early next week.

Cookware, Tools & Gadgets

Tyler recommends Falk Culinaire copper cookware, All Clad Metalcrafters Stainless, and Food Tools Hard Anodized. We all know copper is the best, but it certainly is expensive. I have a set of Calphalon non-anodized cookware. It works good enough for me. I have one cheap non-stick pan for eggs. I recently started making an investment in Le Creuset, but that is another topic altogether.

He also recommends high carbon stainless steel chefs knives. I have the Wusthof knife block and I have a whole set of handy things in there. He recommends Shun, Lamsonsharp Silver, and Wusthof Classic Ikon knives. He talks about the right knife for the right job (which knife for bread, fruit, cutting bone, etc). There is also a section on sharpening your knives.

Lastly, there is a page devoted to tools and gadgets and items he wants you to have at hand when you are in your "pivotal triangle". They are pretty basic items (tongs, spatulas, whisks, kitchen towels, measuring devices, etc. As well as tins, cookie sheets, food processor, steamer, bowls, pepper mill. You get the idea.


Organizing your Kitchen

Part one of Stirring the Pot is all about organizing your kitchen. Tyler talks about how your cooking space should be a "pivotal triangle". You should have your prep space, the fridge and the stove all within a step from one another.

The prep space should contain kitchen towels, a really good cutting board, and kitchen utensils (including knives). The stove station should have all your pots and pans nearby. He says you should also create a seasoning station with oils, vinegars, spices and salt and pepper close by for quick seasoning. Note: I put my spices by my stove for this same reason, but the heat kills them. I'm not sure if this is the best idea for the life of your spices??

The fridge, pantry and freezer are a separate section altogether. He basically tells you to pitch all old items and stock these areas like a grocery store. He also suggests rotating items and using all of them within one month. First in, first out.

He goes on to share these helpful tips about your freezer:
2. Wrap your meat three times. First in plastic wrap, then foil, then a labeled and dated resealable bag.
3. Do not store items in the freezer for over a month. They will form ice crystals and these ice crystals are actually the moisture leaving your food, causing your food to dehydrate.
4. Bread freezes well. Put your extra bread in freezer and then pop a couple slices out and defrost in your toaster.
5.Tyler saves his scraps on his cutting board(peelings, stems, garlic paper, herbs, etc) for stock. He keeps a bag or two of scraps in his freezer. Note: I do not make my own stock. I might reconsider this as stock cost me $4 today at Fresh Market.

I followed some of this advice about cleaning out my fridge, pantry and freezer, but I do not leave my cutting board, knives or anything out on my counter. I have a toddler who has a way of climbing and finding these things.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Part One

Tyler's book is broken up between two parts. Part one is mostly about organizing and maximizing your cooking space. It is broken down into nine sections:

The pivot triangle
The pantry
The fridge
The freezer
The Right Knife
Tools and Gadgets

I am going to post summaries about Part One this week. I will start cooking and posting recipes from Part Two over the weekend.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I love to cook.....

Over the past 15 years I have collected more than 100 cookbooks. When I was 17 I wanted to open up my own restaurant with one of my best friends. Somewhere I lost my vision and ended up working full-time in an office with a Bachelor's in Business. Now I have two children and I am a stay at home mom. This is the perfect set up for someone who wants to start an adventure in cooking.

I have always been interested in cooking my way through an entire cookbook. My biggest hurdle was picking the right book. The past few weeks I have been inspired by some really great blogs about food and decided to make this blog a New Year's Resolution.

This morning I chose Stirring the Pot by Tyler Florence because it is a collection of just about 100 recipes. I figure that with two children and a husband who travels that this is just the right size for me to start with. I LOVE the way the book is broken up into sections. Most books are in sections like meat, poultry, side dishes, desserts. Tyler's book is really creative in that his sections are simply: Roast, Saute, Braise, Fry, Grill, Steam, Bake, and Fresh and Raw. Genius!!

I am going to attempt to cook one section at a time. However, some ingredients are hard to find and since I live in the not so big metropolis of Georgetown, KY I might have to pick what is in season or available. I hope you enjoy the blog. Better yet, buy the book and join me!