Sunday, April 24, 2011

Check out the guest of honor, Benson, who was not-so-secretly hoping for the ham to take a nasty spill.


Easter Brunch Complete!

What a whirlwind of weekend cooking! Stay tuned for pics coming very soon. Here's a hint of one of the highlights -- a handwritten recipe for cheese grits I found in my grandma's recipe box. A further teaser--it contains a pound of cheese and a stick and a half of butter. Paula Deen, take that!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Brunch Planning...

So I spent yesterday trying to contain my excitement while I planned a menu for next weekend's Easter brunch. I'm cooking for a few friends, and, as usual, I can't wait to go all out (my husband: "you're doing too much;" me: "it's Easter!!") My good friend and downstairs neighbor Meredeth gave me this awesome brunch cookbook, Bubby's Brunch Cookbook, and although I've never visited the restaurant from which the book is derived, I think I would be a fan based on the recipes inside. Here's a sneak peek of what I'm planning for Sunday (and, of course, photos and videos of the ensuing insanity will be uploaded soon after):

  1. Rhubarb Coffee Cake

  2. Biscuits Deviled Eggs (my grandma's--and, oh yes, they will be dyed beautiful Easter egg colors courtesy of PAAS)

  3. Cheese grits (also a recipe I stumbled upon in my grandma's recipe box)

  4. Silver dollar Chocolate Chip Pancakes

  5. Glazed Ham

  6. Asparagus Leek Frittata

And definitely all the mimosas and bloody marys one can drink. Sooo stoked!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Back in the, kitchen...

So I'm back. I know it's been awhile, but my New Year's resolution (I know it's March) was to begin blogging again. The truth is I spent all day yesterday cooking, which made me long to tell you lovely people how it all went. I tried out this Turkey Pozole soup recipe from the Today Show. I highly recommend it--it's relatively healthy (for those of us who are trying to be slaves to our Weight Watchers points), and very tasty. And we all know I have a soft spot (my belly, ha!) for anything related to Mexican fare. The recipe calls for turkey meat, so I took it upon myself to purchase a frozen turkey breast, which actually worked just fine (although it did clock in at 3 lbs, a little more than the 2 lbs. the recipe calls for). Just make sure your turkey meat is fully thawed (unlike mine)--it was definitely tough to get the browning going. More soon...hope you missed me and my musings on all things food!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ladies' Night

Every lady needs a ladies' night now and then to keep her sanity. Usually this involves meeting at a restaurant and chatting over a bottle (or three) of wine, but this time around, my friend Danielle suggested the more economical approach--cooking at home. Hence the Weehawken kitchen moved to Danielle's apartment in, well, Weehawken.

The dish of choice? Mac and cheese. And what's a stick-to-your-ribs hearty dairy bonanza if it doesn't come from the countess of cream herself, one Barefoot Contessa.

Listed as a "kids' recipe" in her Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook (who are you trying to kid here, Barefoot), this is the most indulgent whole-milk-and-cheese-explosion version of mac and cheese you'll ever need. For those who dare, here's the recipe.

To balance the meal, first we made a salad, and Danielle made some delicious eggplant croquettes (note them sitting on the stove adjacent to the QUART of whole milk warming up for the mac and cheese). Check out the recipe here.

Then we began the heavy eating, er, cooking. Katie started grating mountains of cheddar and gruyere as Emily drooled.

The hardest part of making this dish is at every step, you want to stop and taste the velvety smooth cheese love. It calls out as it's cooking, like a Siren. Here's Danielle sneaking one before we poured it into the baking dish.

Once I fended away the fellow females, I got the dish ready for the oven and "made" some (frozen) cheesy garlic bread. (I know, I know, but you can never have too much cheese).

By the time the buzzer went off, to say we were ready was an understatement.

Now as if the night could not get any better...

Over dinner, Danielle asked my opinion on Cablevision's (Weehawken's SOLE cable provider) decision to yank the Food Network. My inarticulate grumbly growl was the only response I could muster. At that moment (I kid not), Danielle got a text that Scripps and Cablevision had made up.

This called for a celebratory dance around the television.

Oh, Food Network, how I had missed you!!! I'll never again underestimate the joy in an all-day marathon Food Network cake challenge on a cold and lazy weekend.

Sidebar: Danielle and I share a love for our Weehawken kitchens. In her spare time, Danielle crafts the cutest refrigerator magnets, with everything from cuts of meat to fruits and veggies. Check out her Etsy store here and pretty up your kitchen.

Monday, January 18, 2010

40 Cloves of Garlic and Couscous--Not Your Mother's Fried Chicken

Jeff's parents came to visit this past weekend, and I love nothing more than cooking for the family. But cooking for those who have been cooking since before you were born (and someone who cooked for 3 boys!) is a daunting task. What did Jeff's dad want? Fried chicken. And Jeff's mom makes killer fried chicken. Where does this leave me? Good question.

Enter my hero (drumroll please), the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten. In her Barefoot In Paris book, Ms. Garten gives a French alternative to the batter-fried American chicken (although there is NOTHING wrong with that)...make a creamy delicious sauce with cognac and an absurd amount of garlic. Need I say more? Check out the recipe here. (PS--to those of you planning to make this--the grocery store sells whole chickens that are already cut up--who knew?)

Here's my chicken frying, and Jeff's mom peeling the garlic (yes, all 40 cloves. She is a patient woman.)

One for me and...

Now, what to make with French chicken? Glad you asked. According to the Barefoot, Moroccan Couscous. Sounds pretty exotic, right? The combo of saffron threads and cumin filled the kitchen with an irresistible aroma, and the taste perfectly balanced the 40 cloves of garlic. Check out the veggie variety prior to roasting:

Here we are sitting down to dinner after the Saints victory against the Cardinals.

Geaux Saints!!! (Sidenote--the Weehawken Kitchen will be all New Orleans food all the time on Superbowl Sunday if the Saints win next weekend! Who dat!)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cold Weather Chili

My husband claims I have an aversion to chili. I don't really--it's just that his definition of chili is taking everything going bad in the refrigerator and putting it in a crock pot. Not so appealing, eh?

While Jeff complained to one of our friends (who is an amazing cook in her own right), she insisted on sending me a recipe to try out. I agreed to try it last weekend at my husband's urgings. It was delicious. Adding the fresh cilantro and basil at the end especially lightens and brightens the rich chili flavor.

Here's the recipe. It's an adaptation from the "Pinto Bean Chili" recipe in Great Good Food by Julee Rosso (Crown Publishers, 1993).

Olive Oil
2 Diced Onions
6 Garlic Cloves, Minced
2 Pounds Lean Ground Beef
2 Teaspoons Paprika
2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Oregano
2 Tablespoons Chili Power
2 Cans Plum Tomatoes, Corarsely Chopped w/Their Juice
1 Chopped Red Bell Pepper
1 Chopped Yellow Bell Pepper
1 Chopped Orange Bell Pepper
3 Cups Beef Broth
3 Cans Pinto Beans (drained & rinsed) - NOTE: I only use canned b/c it's easier for me - you can use dried beans if you have the time to soak them overnight. In that case you're looking at 3 cups of beans
1/2 Cup Minced Fresh Basil
1/2 Cup Minced Fresh Cilantro

1. In a large stockpot, heat the oil over low heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Add the meat and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until browned. Sprinkle with the paprika, cumin, oregano, and chili powder, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the tomatoes, peppers, broth, and beans. Bring to a boil, partially cover, and simmer 2 1/2 hours.

2. Taste and adjust for seasoning; stir in the basil and cilantro.

I also add salt, pepper, extra chili powder and a little cayenne during the 2 1/2 hours simmering.

Now Jeff swears that where he's from (the Midwest), people eat peanut butter sandwiches with chili and dip them into the chili bowl. I think that sounds gross, but he insisted I put a picture of it in here.

He is one happy husband.