Maybe cooking is

Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

For this week, I was inspired by the humidity of the previous week to try out some truly Southern dishes.

Appetizer

It was necessary to fortify myself before simmering the main dish for an hour – I washed off some organic raspberries.  I also smeared some local Prairie Fruit Farm herb goat cheese I had picked up at the Urbana farmer’s market on some Carr’s table water crackers, topped off with some spicy, jalapeno-infused jelly that I bought at the Charleston Marion Square farmer’s market.  I had set them out all of these ingredients about 30 minutes earlier to make sure they were room temperature so that smearing was easier.

Jalapeno-jelly with goat cheese on table crackers. Excellent, rich appetizer.

If you want to make your own jalapeno or habanero jelly, just mix it in with either strawberry or grape jelly.  Here are some recipes: Habanero Pepper Jelly and Jalapeno Pepper Jelly with pectin.

Main Course

Meanwhile, I had my mama’s recipe of shrimp jambalaya in mind.  First, I had to cook the bacon (an entire pound!) and rice to get things going.

Basmati rice was all I had, and then some bacon, and in the background the vegetables to chop up - onion, green pepper and okra.

While the bacon cooked and the rice absorbed the water, I chopped vegetables and mixed together the spices.  Once the bacon was done, I put together the green peppers and onions in the bacon grease with the spices.  I added in the shredded bacon and frozen shrimp (there’s no fresh seafood in the Midwest) but no sausage (not my thing).  Then I put in the 2 cans of the tomatoes and okra.  Okra can get slimy if you put it into a dish too early, which is why most encounters with it are fried.  I added the rice and stirred it all together, then added about a cup of water to make it more saucy.  Here’s a similar recipe.

This is how it looked before it simmered for an hour.

It was a delicious meal, with plenty of freezer-ready leftovers.

Dessert

While the shrimp mixture was simmering, I shredded 2 cups worth of carrots and mixed together the batter for my Southern-style carrot cake.  I baked two layers of cake and let them cool overnight.  The icing, with coconut and walnuts instead of pecans, I made the next morning and put together the cake.

Two-layered carrot cake with coconut and cream cheese icing, infused with walnuts.

The cake was intended for sharing – it was huge!  And I made double the icing to make sure there was enough to cover the cake.

Recipe Search Engines

There are a lot of recipe search engines out there.  So which one should you turn to?

Recipe Puppy is one that is unsponsored.  It’s good for looking up what you have left in the fridge and figuring out what to make that night.  Another one is Recipe FinderCookzillas is one that is heavily photo-based.

Foodily is Google’s recipe search engine, and pulls recipes from all over the Internet using the ingredients you have.  The LA Times Technology blog did an extensive overview of the website, the latter of which launched this past February.  Will Google come to dominate the recipe-searches, too?

Not if Microsoft has anything to say about it.  It apparently has a cooking search function that allows you to search within a single website, not that I could find it.

For a great overview of the foodie search options, check out the NY Times article, “Can recipe search engines make you a better cook?” from this past May.

Separately, there are lots of food Wikis out there, too – of particular note is Goons With Spoons, which has tasty recipes.

I hope this search-launching point prepares you with a wealth of great recipes to try.  Happy cooking!

Thought for the week: “Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.”Bubba character from Forest Gump movie, 1994

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BAKING

Cookies

Natalie’s bake-off party on March 10 inspired a dig for some delicious cookie recipes.  I tried my hand at five batches of three types of cookies:

  1. Two batches of oatmeal raisin (which Williams-Sonoma says comes from their kiddie cookbook)
  2. Two batches of banana-oatmeal power cookies
  3. One batch of oatmeal-cherry and almond spice cookies (it made around 40 big cookies or so)

At first, I was working with my hand mixer, but since all of these cookies have oatmeal as a base, the dough gave the motor a hard time.  I switched to using a spoon and elbow grease.

I ditched the mixer after this photo opp for these oatmeal-based cookies.

The oatmeal raisin is perfect.  Loved it.  I made one batch with regular raisins and the second batch with golden raisins.  Either one is very good.

The banana-oatmeal power cookie packs a lot – walnuts, banana, coconut, cinnamon, golden raisins, and oatmeal.  It’s a tastier version of a granola bar.  The consistency is more banana-breadlike than oatmeal-cookie like.

My culinary change-up were the main ingredients of the last cookie.  Originally, the recipe calls for dates and walnuts as the main duo, but that’s more a fall cookie taste and I couldn’t find dates (or didn’t really care to find them).  Instead, I substituted in dried cherries and almonds.  I used uniform dried cherries, not dried cherries jubilee, which is a mixture of different type of cherries.  Health flash: Cherries are low in vitamins and minerals, but they’re great sources of antioxidants, act as an anti-inflammatory, and can ease you into sleep with their melatonin content.

Fun fact: Without the word “dried” in front of it, the phrase cherries jubilee refers to this flaming dessert popular in the 1960s.  Is anyone having a Mad Men-themed party?

Monkey Bread

Moving from cookies onto bread, over spring break I tried a new challenge of Monkey Bread.  Since I’m not a morning person, there was no way I was going to get up early enough to make this for breakfast, so I whipped it up before dinner.  It’s a pretty simple recipe, but I couldn’t resist modifying the dipping stage.  After you cut the biscuits into quarters, the recipe says to dip them in butter and then roll them in the brown sugar mixture.  I wanted the final baked good to retain moisture, so I whisked two eggs into the butter mixture.

These eggs and biscuits could be a meal on their own, but I have bigger plans for them.

I also had to make 1.5x the amount of brown sugar mixture because I ran out 3/4 of the way through dipping (or halfway into the second layer of biscuits).  I also used walnuts as opposed to the traditional pecans.  I poured butter-flavored, corn-syrup, bad for your entire well-being syrup on top.

Don't let the biscuit quarters soak too long - they'll return to a soppy dough consistency. Quick dip, then sugar them up!

I baked it at 325 degrees (not 350 as said in the recipe) for about 30 minutes, checking on it at the 15, 20, and 25 minute marks.  The baking pan I used was actually a stove-top pan used for pan-frying.  It doesn’t matter what you use as the container in the oven because once it’s done and has sat for about 5 minutes, you flip it over onto a plate.

Because it has a brown color to begin with, you have to watch it carefully in the oven to make sure it doesn't burn.

This is a great dessert or breakfast food, either warmed up or eaten room-temperature.  You can add more syrup, though it’s not really needed.  Yum!

COOKING

Chili

Racing legend Carroll Shelby developed a cheap, easy, stove-top chili mix in the 1970s – who knew?  Because packaged soups tend to have high sodium content, which is one reason they’re so great when you’re sick, I didn’t throw in the salt packet included in the box.  I sauteed an onion first and then added half the ground meat (turkey not beef).  I would recommend adding chili flakes for those that love spicy foods.

Cooked onions for about 5 minutes before adding meat to brown together.

In the last 5 minutes, I threw in a can of pinto beans.

With all ingredients, just about ready to serve.

For finishing touches, I added shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and chopped chives.

Although it was good, I’m not sure if I’d make it again just because the high sodium content made my temperature rise – but I’m hyper-sensitive to the effects of food, anyway.

Pasta

Taking advantage of East-coast based gourmet grocery superstore Wegmen’s, I tried out some frozen pesto and five-cheese stuffed ravioli rounds with their vodka blush sauce.  I sauteed some mushrooms in virgin olive oil before adding the sauce to the stove top and then grinding in a lot of fresh pepper.

Wegmen’s, in addition to the recipes provided on its sites like most grocery stores now, even has videos of cooking demonstrations:

Chili-rubbed Pork

This recipe takes prep because it’s a rub.  Similar to a marinade, you have to let the meat sit 2-24 hours – the longer, the more strong the flavor.  I used light brown sugar instead of regular sugar because I didn’t want to disturb the neighbors for a cup.  Brown sugar is just regular sugar with added molasses, light containing less molasses than dark.  I figured molasses wouldn’t change the flavor too much and might add a crystalized component to the pork when it cooks.

STATE COLLEGE

During Spring Break, I visited Frank at State College.  While there, I cooked the above recipes, but we also went around town to a few local favorites. Including the Nittany Lion Shrine!

Frank and me at the Lion Shrine!

Since it was sunny, we walked to the PSU Bekey Creamery.  How cool is it that Pennsylvania’s (state) university has agricultural students that make its own ice cream?  They have over 100+ flavors, but never all at once.  I got a standard five scoops of cookie dough ice cream (they only have one size).  The Department of Food Science currently offers a 7-day short course for ice cream making in January – an extension of the course it originally offered in 1892.  I would totally take it if I was enrolled there!  Except that there’s a closed book final exam, and I don’t think auditing is an option.

Halfway through the week, it got cold and by the end, it was flurrying.  We warmed up at Herwig’s, an Austrian Bistro and one of the top ethnic restaurants in the area, and I tried to pronounce my authentic dish.  We bribed the cashier with a beer to avoid getting yelled at in Austrian fashion for not finishing my dinner.  True fact.  They list threats about it at the tables.

When strolling, I noticed a cupcake boutique – *ndulge cupcakes.  The woman that opened the bakery did so because bakeries make her happy – after spending almost 40 years in advertising, TV, and radio.  Much like Georgetown Cupcake, the bakery has cream-cheese based icing, but it also offers buttercream frosting.  Pretty delicious cupcakes – the peanut butter cup (cream cheese) won me over as opposed to the realli vanilli (buttercream).

Quote of the week: Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.” – Jim Davis, cartoonist, (1965-)

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, Mattea finishing her dissertation, and Mitra visiting me this weekend, I attempted to bake a two-layer fresh strawberry cake.  But Mitra and I ran into two minor glitches.  Possibly because this was our first attempt as adults at a cake from scratch.

The first that the owner of this cake recipe (a self-proclaimed foodie bride) didn’t appear to have a frosting recipe listed, so we borrowed this one.  Then we found that she had hidden the icing recipe in her comments.  By that time, we had already committed to our back-up.  She also calls for almond extract in her frosting, which I don’t have.  Upon further evaluation, her icing is similar to wedding cake icings.  But I would recommend staying away from buttercream or cream cheese based frostings for this cake – it’d just simply be too rich with either of those.  Butter or shortening icings are great.

Foodie bride wanted us to wrap the cake pans in tin foil on the outside. I believe this was to prevent the edges and bottoms of the cakes from burning, but don't have that confirmed.

Mitra separating those eggs like a pro - only the creamy whites for our cake!

The second was a fail to plan, plan to fail moment.  Although foodie bride asks us to puree 24 oz. (2 lbs) of strawberries, she didn’t intend for us to use all of it in the cake batter.  Instead, just about 3/4 of a cup will do. Did I look back at the recipe to check this?  Nope.  In went 2 cups of strawberries.

Just before the moment of no return. I think they call this dramatic irony.

The fate of this cake is sealed: it will carry the burden of more than twice that amount of strawberries intended. And it will do it well. P.S. Check out my mom's old school mixer.

So our batter was a little more dense and took about 15 minutes longer to bake in the oven.

Two cakes will become one.

Thus, we didn’t have any strawberry puree to use between the layers of the cake (but I wonder would that have caused the layers to slip apart?).  We layered on the frosting between the cake layers instead.  Don’t worry, though.  Extra yummy with all that homemade love.  Especially with the sprinkle job.  Chocolate sprinkles patted onto the sides, pink sugar crystals on top.  Mitra, Mattea, Natalie and I dined like queens.

The whole cake.

Love the look of the double layer!

In our other time during the weekend, we explored.  Whoever says that the Midwest doesn’t have its moments is wrong.  Check out these snow kingdom relics.

A comfy snow lounge chair in the middle of downtown Champaign? Of course. It even had a back cushion!

The bikini snowman was an instant hit. We pulled over for a quick picture. (Edited with Instagram iPhone app!)

Overall, it was an awesome weekend.  Happy Valentines Day, everyone! ♥

Quote of the week: “I don’t believe in low-fat cooking.” – Nigella Lawson (1960-)

Guess who’s food blog made it to the one-year mark?!  Probably a bagillion people’s, but that includes mine!  Thanks for reading, commenting, sending recipes, suggesting tips – all of it was very helpful in 2010.  I’m excited about the new recipes to try in 2011!

But nostalgia takes over when the ball drops sometimes.  So I have to recap the best of the last few days of 2010 foodie moments/ recipes:

Thanksgiving dinner at Mom's (master chef, uncertified): sweet potato and raisin salad, turkey with gravy, oyster stuffing, fresh-baked dinner roll, cranberry sauce, black olives.

I’ve been warned in the past that cookies from scratch are disproportionate in appreciation ratio: they take a long time to make and get eaten too fast.  But they’re relaxing to make on a Friday afternoon to unwind – as long as you have an electric mixer.

I tried these “spicy” gingerbread cookies, which aren’t really spicy.  These cookies have a citrusy zest because they have grated lemon peel and have a nice thicker consistency.

Make sure to cake the surface in flour so that the cookie dough doesn't stick!

The easy-to-make icing can be colored or left plain.

I made green icing, too, but it didn't fit in the picture. In heart bowls!

This recipe is good for last-minute cookies: although the dough needs to sit in the fridge for 2 hours, they only bake for 6-7 minutes and then cool for 10 minutes or so.  If you want to put on icing, you’ll need to allow more time to cool.  The cookies are great without icing, too.

I also made a batch with white icing. Finished product needs to be placed on cooling racks.

These cookies are recommended.  A chocolate-lover favorite is always cream cheese chocolate brownies.  I have a special Christmas Cookie cookbook from my childhood where I found this recipe, and I don’t think it’s in print with the publisher any longer.  Interesting moment: the publisher creates books for brands.

In celebration of the holidays, I also visited a reindeer farm!

Feeding three reindeer from Alaska at Hardy's Reindeer Ranch!

I baked large loaves of zucchini bread as gifts for some of my relatives during the holidays.  They loved them.  Cha-ching.

Add some saran-wrap, some ribbons and voila! Yummy Christmas present.

I also made some vodka sauce with mushrooms and penne pasta. I actually didn’t use this recipe, but it looks pretty good from Food Network.

Add the green leaves last so that they don't overcook.

Stirring in the whipping cream before pouring over penne pasta.

Some other successful and delicious meals have included:

 

  • Veal Scalopini – the moisture contained in the meat makes this dish really worth making.
  • Slow Cooker Turkey Chili – delicious and spicy chili!  Really amped up with chives, sour cream and shredded cheddar.
  • Old-Fashioned Pancakes – the basics are sometimes the best
  • Apple Crisp – nice combo of what you’d expect from a baked apple pie, but with oatmeal!

Okay, so sorry for the hiatus, but this post offers the best of the best, so that’s an adequate consolation prize, right?

Quote of the week: “Cooking is at once one of the simplest and most gratifying of the arts, but to cook well one must love and respect food.”Craig Claiborne (1920-2000)

Wow, what a hiatus.  It’s October.

But I’m back.  And I’ve got lots of pictures and recipes to share.

Tonight, I made veal scallopini with a baby bella mushroom gravy.  I know it sounds fancy, but it’s really not, and it’s pretty easy, even though I modified the directions.

 

Veal frying with olive oil and butter.

 

First, I breaded and fried the veal.

 

Veal - pink au jus stage.

 

You can tell the veal finishes cooking when its juices run clear (as opposed to pink).

 

Breaded and cooked veal cutlets.

 

After I removed the cutlets from the pan, I deviated.  I decided to melt the rest of the butter to saute the sliced mushrooms.

 

Mushroom saute

 

Then I poured in the broth on top and mixed in the remnants of the fried dough.  I like thick gravies, so I let it simmer for about 30 minutes and stirred occasionally.  This really let the broth absorb the flavor of the dough, which then the mushrooms absorbed.  Oh, and I forgot to add the parsley, but I didn’t really need it anyway.

 

Simmered for 30-45 minutes to create a thicker gravy.

 

I served it with some real mashed potatoes!  …That I picked up from the grocery store pre-made.  Resorting to short cuts isn’t cheating if it tastes good, right? The whole meal was really tasty.

 

Veal in mushroom gravy with mashed potatoes on the side.

 

 

The close up

 

As a side note, I’ve switched over to using real, unsalted butter instead of margarine.  And I’m kind of into organic fruits now, especially berries.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

In other food-news, I have discovered some precious resources on the University of Illinois’ campus.  One is the Bevier Cafe located just down the block from my department office.  This is the “food laboratory” for students in the Food Science and Human Nutrition department, who also staff and manage it.  It.  Is.  Awesome.

The other resource, down the hall from Bevier Cafe, is the Spice Box.  This is the student-run restaurant in the Hospitality Department and appeals more to a fine-dining experience with a price fixe menu and two-course special menu.  I have plans to visit it shortly but it honestly takes more concentrated effort due to reservations and scheduled dining events, of which there are none in the immediate future.  I’ll keep my eye on it.

My cooking, plus endless new cuisine experiments, should tempt you East Coasters to come visit!  🙂  As far as the past items, I’ve been cooking, take a look below and tell me what you like.  Also I have random pictures from this past summer.

Bellamy Mansion, Wilmington, NC – late June

 

Some say the Bellamy House is still haunted by its former servants.

 

 

Bellamy porch. I have one of my other photos of the grounds hanging up in my apartment. Come see it!

 

 

The famous, modern servant staircase in the antebellum mansion.

 

Cooking in Chicago – mid-July to mid-August

 

Sisterly effort: this meal includes steamed asparagus and a turkey sausage and sun-dried tomato main (my contributions) and a mozzarella, tomato and basil paired with fresh sangria (from my sister).

 

 

I whipped together a penne pasta sauce incorporating: Trader Joe's organic vodka sauce as the base with added onion, black olive, and shrimp.

 

 

Lady Gaga singing live at Lollapalooza. We stood in a crowd for three hours, but it was worth it so I could dance to rah rah ah ah ahhh. My sister got this shot! I want her bra.

 

Cooking in Urbana-Champaign – late August-present

 

Local Curtis Orchard apples for some apple pie.

 

 

Gooey, apple pie sugar syrup. I added two tablespoons of cinnamon to the recipe.

 

 

Apples added into the mix.

 

 

Softening up those apples.

 

 

I'm getting better at my pie lattice-work.

 

 

Close-up of the finished pie.

 

 

Dinner: rib-eye steak with A1 sauce and sweet potato with a Blue Moon citrus splash on the side.

 

 

Zataran's dirty rice mix for a Southern-themed dinner party.

 

 

Dirty rice after simmering for a half hour. It was a hit at the party!

 

 

Dinner: salt and peppered, broiled pork and steamed asparagus with lemon juice.

 

Thought for the week (which fits nicely with my study of media): “It’s amazing how pervasive food is. Every second commercial is for food. Every second TV episode takes place around a meal. In the city, you can’t go ten feet without seeing or smelling a restaurant. There are 20 foot high hamburgers up on billboards. I am acutely aware of food, and its omnipresence is astounding.” – Adam Scott, author, The Monkey Chow Diaries, June 2006

Rolling Thunder is a notorious Memorial Day weekend spectacle along Constitution Avenue in D.C.  Albeit a patriotic tribute, it’s one of the reasons I headed south to visit Charleston, South Carolina last weekend with my family.  Another was the seafood, like this tasty appetizer at the waterfront Fleet Landing Restaurant.

The presentation of Fleet Landing restaurant's crabcake and fried green tomato appetizer es magnifique!

Another was the beauty.  Charleston (and frequently Charleston Place Hotel specifically) is named one of the top destination wedding spots in the country.  It’s not hard to see why.

One of the many Charleston gatehouses brimming with flowers.

And yet another was the company.  I met up with my childhood friend Katie, a cellist in the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, for brunch at 82 Queen.

Is it crab benedict if you get Hollandaise, but no egg? Family brunch + Katie.

I’ll be upfront.  I was on vacation time.  There was no time to think about me cooking in Charleston.  The only cookbook I cracked open was the Second Presbyterian’s merely to browse, which has some tempting family recipes that I tried at its tea room lunch.

I was oblivious to church tea rooms until I ate my lunch there with a full bluegrass band playing 1930s tunes.  The church serves time-intensive dishes made fresh daily from its kitchen.  Items on the menu include Southern favorites such as okra soup, gazpacho, biscuits, salads, chicken salad sandwiches, shrimp roumalade, and to-die-for desserts such as almond torte, chocolate vanilla cheesecake, and carrot cake.  And they take orders via phone for carry out!  (Whoever thought of carry out from the church/the equivalent of your mama’s kitchen?)  But it’s usually for a limited time during the year to fundraise or support a charity.

Yesterday, right before my neighborhood blackout (overloaded grid) and my plans for cooking dinner were derailed, I was happily baking my favorite dessert for the first time: pies.  Per Jillian Michael’s mantra that a great fitness plan is one that can be adopted into your daily regimen (I know the opposite of exercise is making pie, but bear with me), I believe that a great recipe is one that can be modified to fit your daily routine.  So my confession is that I didn’t make the pie crust from scratch.  But the filling was no can, indeed.  That was all my handiwork.

In making my blueberry pie, I first pre-baked the crust to give it a more solid base.  After pinching the dough around the edges, I put some aluminum foil in the center and then put a round CorningWare French White dish in the middle to prevent a bubbling up of the crust during baking.  I probably only baked it for about 8 minutes or so at 450 degrees.

To get frankly Alton Brown style, thermal energy makes blueberries expand and burst open.  For blueberry pies, there are two instances during which this happens: 1) boiling and 2) baking.  Therefore it makes sense to add a layer of fresh blueberries at the bottom of the pie that will burst in the oven.  The rest of the filling is created by boiling blueberries, sugar, flour, and lemon juice until it’s thick and dark purple.  I used lime instead of lemon juice to give my pie a summer tang and poured the boiled layer on top of the fresh blueberries.

Blueberry pie filling

For the top crust, I decided to get creative and make pretty lattice-work with star cut-outs.  I had a small amount of leftover dough, and in my inventive mood, I chopped up a Jazz apple (a relatively new breed of apples) and made a mini version of apple pie.

Blueberry and apple pies. Check out those hand-cut stars!

Pies are perfect for summer, and any other time of the year if you ask me.

Thought for the week: “Don’t get fancy. Have you cooked an apple pie? You don’t know what you did wrong? Do this: Take two or three apples. Put them on a table. Study them.” – Paul Prudhomme, 1940-

I didn’t get a chance to write about my brunch last weekend, but I’ve got the full scoop for you in this post plus this weekend’s recipe!

Last weekend, I hosted a brunch with my roommates and my friend Megan.

Let me just say that I’m not a morning person.  So really any foray I make into the breakfast part of a cookbook should be applauded.

Secondly, mimosas are always approved.

Thirdly, my roommates – Julia and Jessica – are awesome cooks with backgrounds in gourmet and commercial cooking (Julia worked here last summer), which means the average breakfast instantly becomes more creative.  They push me to try new things, plus they explain cooking (even though sometimes they disclaim, “don’t try this at home/ without supervision because what I’m doing is dangerous”).  Think of two Indiana Joneses in a one-person sized kitchen.  (Pause for visual.)  Conclusion: they’re amazing.

This was my first attempt at these dishes in various ways.  For instance, I’ve never made bacon on the stovetop.  I quickly learned to keep the temperature low to avoid splattering, hot oil.  And instead of ol’ reliable scrambled eggs, Jessica suggested a frittata.  A frittata, a type of Italian omelet or crustless quiche that includes anything you want to throw into it (a convenient place for leftover dinner meats, so I’m told), is easy and delicious.  Sold.  Loosely following a recipe, I scrambled 9 eggs and mixed in milk, spinach, green pepper, onion, shitake mushrooms, parmesan cheese and crumbled bacon with slices of Swiss cheese on top.

While I managed these two items, Jessica and Julia took the reins on the ebelskivers, which are essentially pancake balls filled with blueberry preserves and have a special pan (Rachel Ray says you can get them from Bed, Bath & Beyond).  Ebelskivers can burn easily and take special attention, so I observed J & J this round.  Topped off with champagne mimosas, the brunch menu was a hit:

  • Main: Frittata and ebelskivers with maple syrup
  • Side: Bacon
  • Drink: Mimosas

Frittata

Bacon

Ebelskivers with blueberry preserves

This weekend was the snow-M-G/ snowpocalypse.  Virginia’s Governor declared it a state of emergency Thursday before any hint of precipitation on Friday.  Naturally I was on alert with the rest of the district and we stocked up at the grocery store as if we would never see food again.  Hand baskets and shopping carts were in demand.  The woman behind me in line forgot her reusable bags in her car but didn’t want to leave the checkout line to get them.  I imagine both the grocery stores and the city government benefited from the snowstorm.

My car in snowpocalypse before digging it out.

At the National Cathedral on Sunday.

Sunday was my big cooking day.  For breakfast, I whipped up scrambled eggs and Swiss cheese with Texas Pete hot sauce, bacon, and toast with butter and blueberry preserves.  It wasn’t my main focus, but I thought I’d mention the effort.

My resolution-inspired dish was dinner.  I selected a baked chicken and tomatoes with fettuccine recipe from Beatrice Ojakangas, a food writer who has appeared on TV with Julia Child and Martha Stewart and studied with Simone Beck and at the Cordon Bleu in Paris.  She requested diced tomatoes, chicken, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, olive oil, fettuccine, parmesan, and basil for the recipe.

Beatrice knows what she’s doing, but it takes some time to make this dish, more than the hour and five minutes she estimated for cooking and prep, at least for a beginner.  Overall, the chicken was juicy and the dish permeated the air with Italian spices.  Apparently, though, I shouldn’t cook acidic items (like tomatoes) in an aluminum pan (whoops).  So next time it’ll be glass.

My Sunday night Super Bowl meal:

  • Appetizer: Romaine lettuce salad with black olives and champagne dressing
  • Main: Baked chicken and tomatoes with fettuccine recipe
  • Drink: Bourbon and diet Pepsi
  • Dessert: Yellow cake with chocolate icing

Baked chicken and tomatos with fettuccine and salad

My favorite ads of the Super Bowl: The Denny’s breakfast ads with screaming chickens.  Also, Career Builder’s “casual workday everyday”/ underwear at work ad and Audi’s Green Car of the Year commercial.

Side note: I loved The Who’s performance at half-time.  Roger Daltrey sounds great for 65 and Pete Townshend is a genius.

Thought for the week: “The qualities of an exceptional cook are akin to those of a successful tightrope walker: an abiding passion for the task, courage to go out on a limb and an impeccable sense of balance.” – Bryan Miller

Bryan Miller

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