Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More frittata madness!!

This time it's healthy!!
123 calories per serving
5.7 g fat (1.8 g saturated)
13.1 g carbs
7 g fiber
5.4 g protein

Serves 4

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons butter
3/4 pound wild mushrooms (such as shiitake), chopped into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
5 egg whites
2 tablespoons each chopped fresh herbs (such as chive, parsley, chervil)
Squeeze of lemon

Heat oven to 350°. Heat oil on high in a 6-inch cast-iron skillet for 2 minutes. Add butter; when it foams, add mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and sauté 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add onions and thyme; sauté 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in egg whites with a heatproof rubber spatula until eggs start to set. Transfer skillet to oven and bake 5 minutes, until golden. Sprinkle with remaining herbs and lemon juice. Cut into wedges and serve.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sugar cookies - butter cookies - whatever

During my lovely Vermont Christmas holiday this year, Q's mom and I spent an afternoon doing girly bonding things, like gabbing and decorating cookies. We had a lovely time, and while I normally skip the sugar cookies in favor of chocolate chip, I loved the crafty aspect of it.

Until I ate one.

Ho. Lee. Cow. So freaking numtastic.
I'd like to try to make these for Easter, but we'll see if that actually manifests into reality. I have no idea where she got the recipe, but here we have it.

(They're called "All-Purpose Butter Cookies" but really? That's kind of lame. They should be called OHMYGODTHESEAREGOOD Cookies or something.)
1 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg - room temperature
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
2 tbsp oj (or fresh lemon juice)
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer. Add egg and mix well. Add juice and extracts. Beat in flour mixture, careful not to overmix. This toughens the dough and makes it tough to work with.
Divide dough in half. Flatten into disks and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate or freeze. Remove from fridge 10 minutes before rolling on floured surface. Cut out into desired adorable shapes. This may require a trip to Sur la Table or something first.

Easter Copper Cookie Cutters, Set of 3
Wouldn't these be freaking adorable? Seriously - with little cotton candy fluffs for the tails on the buns? I'm dying.

Bake cutouts on ungreased cookie sheets at 360 degrees (seriously? 360?) until edges begin to brown, about 8 minutes, depending on thickness. Remove cookies from cookie sheets and cool on racks.

Mix 1 cup sifted confectioner's sugar with enough light cream to produce a thick spreading consistency. Flavor with desired flavorings (vanilla, yum), and color with food dye to desired colors. Put frostings into plastic bags (or pastry bags if you're fancy; or those cheap little squeeze bottles you can get at kitchen supply stores if you're a perfectionist) and pipe onto cookies.
I think I trust Martha's Royal Icing recipe a bit more, especially since Q-mom used her own recipe too (instead of this one), and I do believe she said hers had (MORE!) butter in it. Yum.

Based on what I learned when this lady was on Martha, you might want to do a slightly thicker version for outlining, and a little looser version for "flooding." She made her icing with meringue powder, water and sugar. Too many recipes!!!!

** Update 02.15.11 **
Happy Valentine's Day!!!
After a frosting failure last Easter (note the lack of photos), this batch turned out perfectly.  Yum!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cocktails and Infusions

Thanks to Nirvino spoiling me rotten, I've been hard into the fun, new, tasty, cuisine type cocktails lately. Even more so than when Bourbon and Branch first opened, or when I was hanging out at Rye Bar, or when I first got into the classics - Sidecars, Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. I'm still dreaming about the Rio Grande at 15 Romolo.

Anyway, I was at Sasso in Boston last night, and they're a home infusionist's heaven. Not just cucumber in vodka, mint in some rum, pineapple in whatever - forget standard or simple. These guys are doing stuff like vanilla and pear in bourbon (HELLO), pineapple and cinnamon, star anise, apple pie; all in gins, rums, vodkas, bourbons. . . . I'm going to have to try to sneak back and steal their infusion list and give it to Q so he can start making me some new infusions (they had several that were similar to the ones he makes).

I had a drink called The Huntington - the bartender drizzles honey inside a martini glass, shakes up Maker's Mark and pear juice with ice, and pours it into the glass. It might just replace my Manhattan. It's awesome. I'm thinking of carrying pear juice in my purse with me so SF bars can make it for me. I bet it would be awesome with that vanilla cognac Navan, or maybe I'll just infuse some Maker's with vanilla at home OMG I'msoexcited.

In any case, this doesn't look like the latest menu posted online, but here were some others that I might want to recreate:
Spiced Cherry Martini (stoli vanil, spiced cherry puree)

Chilled Apple Cider (Zacapa 23-year rum, spiced apple cider)

Parisian Martini (stoli raspberry, pineapple, raspberry, champagne)

Raspberry Truffle (stoli raspberry, godiva white chocolate, bailey's, chambord)

Blackberry & Brown Sugar Mojito (bacardi, muddled blackberry & mint, brown sugar, soda)

And also, who knew Safeway had hopped on the infusion train?
  • 1 liter vodka
  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed and dried
  • 1 cup raspberry flavored liqueur
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 twist lime zest, garnish
To make the blueberry vodka: Pour out approximately 1/3 of the bottle of vodka into a holding container; set aside. Score each blueberry with a small nick and place into vodka bottle. With the vodka previously set aside, fill the vodka bottle until just below the neck. Add just enough raspberry liqueur to top off the bottle. Let sit in a dark place for 2 weeks. 
To make martinis: In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine 2 parts blueberry vodka, 1 part raspberry liqueur, and a dash of lime juice. Shake vigorously and strain into glass. Garnish with twist of lime zest.

Please post your infusions!!!!!!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hot & Sour Soup

While we're on the topic of soup, I remembered that I really want to try making Hot & Sour soup at home. I LOVE this stuff, but restaurants can be so hit or miss. Some are awesome, some kind of bleh. Cook's Illustrated was taunting me with their recipe but they can FORGET IT if they think they can get me to subscribe to them again just for this. The interwebs and I will defeat you ATK!!

Hot & Sour Soup
5 dried wood ear mushrooms
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
8 dried tiger lily buds
4 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup diced bamboo shoots
1/3 cup lean ground pork
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1/2 (16 ounce) package firm tofu, cubed
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion

Soak the dried mushrooms and tiger lily buds in warm water for 20 minutes. After trimming off any tough stems, slice the mushrooms. With the fingers, shred the tiger lily stems.
Place the mushrooms, tiger lily buds, stock, bamboo shoots, and shredded pork into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in soy sauce, sugar, salt, white pepper, and vinegar. Combine cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water. Add a little of the hot soup to the cornstarch, and then return all to the pan. Heat to boiling, stirring. Add the bean curd, and cook 1 to 2 minutes.
Just before serving, turn off the heat. Stir the egg in gradually. Mix in sesame oil. Sprinkle each serving with scallions.

Several folks mention subbing out shiitakes and other mushrooms for the wood ears and tiger lilly buds, but I have confidence that I'll be able to find them out on Clement. There was also a lot of talk about adding more vinegar, using rice wine vinegar and no sugar, and upping the soy, plus dashes of Sriracha here and there. I'm sure I'll do plenty of doctoring to taste and post my notes here. Word on the street is that the egg makes it cloudy - one clever person waited until it was off the heat for a couple of minutes and then added the beaten egg and she says it makes the difference.

Spicy Pork with Rosemary Potatoes

I am a sucker for rosemary potatoes. I love the damn things. And I'm always looking for fun new stuff to do with pork (aside from carnitas), and this looked damn tasty last Saturday morning.

Spicy Pork with Rosemary Potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 (3-pound) pork roast, cut into 4 steaks, 2-inches thick
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 russet potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, stripped
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
To prepare the pork: Place cumin seeds, red pepper flakes and peppercorns in a spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. Place in a small bowl and mix in garlic powder and salt. Rub mixture all over pork. Let sit at room temperature, 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss potatoes with rosemary, oil and salt. In a small saucepan, bring sugar, vinegar and orange juice to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking Sweet and Sour Sauce until it reduces by half, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, swirl in butter and keep warm before using.
In a 13-inch cast iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. When pan is smoking hot, add pork and sear on both sides. Add potatoes and place in the oven until pork is cooked through and potatoes are tender, about 40 minutes.
Serve pork chops with rosemary potatoes and drizzled with the Sweet and Sour Sauce.

This was a pretty easy recipe, though my skillet was too small so I had to do it in batches. I can't say I'm too wild about it. I thought it was okay, but I've had better. I don't have a spice grinder so I went mortar and pestle and it did not make nearly enough rub so I supplemented with already ground spices. I served it with Aylene's yummy greenbeans. I think the leftover pork will make killer Cuban sandwiches. Yum.

Chicken Paillard

We can thank Tyler Florence for making me crave this one. Maybe while I'm up in wine country I can make it for lunch. Open a nice crisp white, sit out on the patio. . . mmmm.

Chicken Paillard with Creamy Parmesan Salad
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs, whipped slightly with splash milk
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 egg yolks*
  • 2 clove garlic, smashed
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup organic grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bag fresh baby arugala
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, boccancini, halved
  • Shaved Parmesan, for garnish
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Begin by pounding out the chicken breast gently between 2 pieces of plastic wrap.

Prepare a breading station with flour, whisked eggs and milk, and panko crumbs. Season all with salt and pepper. Coat the breasts in flour, egg then panko. Lay the coated breasts out on a flat tray and refrigerate to let the crust dry out (about 10 minutes) this will ensure there is less moisture and less chance your coating will break when frying.

Shallow fry the paillard in hot oil for approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side depending on how thick the breasts are. Drain well, season with salt and set aside when done.

Put the anchovies, egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice, and water into a blender and process for 30 seconds until the mixture is smooth. With the blender running, pour the olive oil in slowly for the dressing to emulsify. Stir in the Parmesan, season with salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper; set aside. (Refrigerate the dressing if you will not be using it right away.)

Prepare the salad by splitting the grape tomatoes in half through the middle lengthwise, mixing all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the dressing and toss the salad well.

To serve lay the warm, crispy chicken paillard on the base of the plate and top with the salad. Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese, a wedge of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.

I might forgo the egg in the dressing altogether to lighten it up a bit - I'm already frying the damn chicken.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Aida was calling them one dish wonders, I think they just sounded like some really yummy soups.

Baked Potato Soup
  • 4 ounces bacon, small dice
  • 1 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 5 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 medium russet potato, large dice
  • 2 medium red potatoes, large dice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 quart (8 cups) chicken stock
  • 1 sourdough baguette, cut into1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded aged cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Heat bacon in a large pot over medium-high heat until crisp and fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plated with a slotted spoon and discard all but 1 tablespoon drippings.

Return pot to stove and add onions and garlic. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Add potato and stir to coat. Add vinegar and scrape up any browned bits. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until potato is fork tender, about 20 minutes. Heat oven to 450degreesF and arrange a rack in the upper third.

When soup is ready, ladle into 8- to 12-ounce ovensafe bowls and top with two baguette slices. Pile cheese and bacon on top and repeat to make 4 to 6 servings. Place on a baking sheet and place in oven until cheese is melty and browned, about 5 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool slightly, top each bowl with a dollop sour cream and a sprinkling of green onions and serve.

"Lazy" Pork Hot Pot
  • 1 1/2 quart (6 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 5 medium garlic cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 (2-inch piece) ginger, sliced
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, caps removed and reserved, tops thinly sliced and reserved
  • 3/4 pound pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced on bias, for serving
  • Toasted sesame oil, for serving (optional)

Combine broth, sherry, soy, garlic, ginger, and mushroom stems in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to low and simmer until broth is infused with flavors, about 30 minutes.

Strain broth, return to pot over high heat, add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add pork and mushrooms and cook until pork is just cooked through, about 3 minutes.

Garnish with green onions and sesame oil, if using, and serve.

Mini frittatas

I do not know why I own any cookbooks. I can't even remember the last time I opened one of them (though I do love my BH&G and Southbeach ones). In fact, I think I might need to get rid of them. Yay spring cleaning!
Anyway, I get enough inspiration from tv and the internet, as is evidence to the number of references I make in this here blog. Giada did it again and enticed me with something tasty and so very, "Duh, why didn't I think of that?" Mini. Frittatas. People please. Tiny things are cute and think of how many different flavors I could make! Man, I can't wait to host a brunch at my place. I am READY. 10 minutes effort for 40 frittatas? Hell, I won't even have to get up early.

Mini Frittatas

  • Nonstick veg oil cooking spray
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced ham, chopped
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray 2 mini muffin tins (each with 24 cups) with nonstick spray. Whisk the eggs, milk, pepper, and salt in a large bowl to blend well. Stir in the ham, cheese, and parsley. Fill prepared muffin cups almost to the top with the egg mixture. Bake until the egg mixture puffs and is just set in the center, about 8 to 10 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittatas from the muffin cups and slide the frittatas onto a platter. Serve immediately.

My head is swimming in an endless possibility sea of flavors: gruyere, ham, bechamel (Croque Monsieur!); classic tomato and basil; leek, shallot and bacon!; zucchini and goat cheese and herbs de Provence!; caramelized onion and blue cheese! Oh my goodness, I could do this forever. Do you think 40 different flavors all at once would be excessive?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Corned Beef & Cabbage

Between this helpful recipe and Trader Joe's, I made my first ever corned beef dinner for St. Pat's. It wasn't as falling apart as I'm used to, maybe next time instead of cooking it on high for four hours, I'll go for low for 8 hours. Or maybe high for 6 hours. Decisions decisions.
In any case, the TJ's beef came ready seasoned - I just popped it into the slow cooker with a can of Murphy's Irish Stout and water until the meat was covered. That was it.
Once the meat was done, we let it rest for 20 minutes while I cooked the potatoes and cabbage in the reserved cooking liquid from the meat (I just transferred it to another pot and put it on the stove), as the recipe suggested.
Served up with mustard and dark beer, it was tasty, and a fitting toast to Miss Shaddy O'Shea, who I'll miss forever.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jalapeno Cornbread & Tortilla Soup

Ina Garten does it again, tempting me with her tasty treats. Under the ruse of "getting away with something" while her husband is away, she plans a wild night of bridge with her gay boyfriends. Rockin, right? At least there were pineapple margaritas.
She made chicken tortilla soup and these yummy cornbreads. I have a pretty kick ass tortilla soup recipe from my dad but hers looked pretty good too. Yum, tortilla soup. Her recipe is way more involved than mine, and if I could think of it right now, I'd post it, but that might have to wait a bit while my early onset Alzheimer's settles down.

Jalapeno Cornbread
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
  • 8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions
  • 3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tortilla Soup
  • 4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 1/2 quarts chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
  • 2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
  • 6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas

For serving: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.


Margaritas are pretty awesome and I typically kind of suck at making them. The one exception to this rule so far are my Pomegranate Margaritas, but even those usually require an insane amount of tasting and tweaking. I think I overdo the bitter aspect since I try not to add sugar - juice, yes, simple syrup no.
Sangria is my drink. Probably explains why I tend to like sangritas, even if they are ridiculous and probably stemmed from some poor restaurant not having enough to serve someone a full margarita or sangria so they combined them. Swamp water it may be, but it's delicious swamp water.

ANYWAY, the next time it's margarita o'clock, I'm reaching for this tasty little recipe. That Ina Garten, boy, she knows how to party.

Pineapple Margaritas
  • 2 cups lime juice, about 20 limes
  • 2 cups white tequila
  • 2 cups Triple Sec
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh pineapple juice
  • Fresh pineapple slices, for garnish

Combine the lime juice, tequila, Triple Sec, and pineapple juice. Fill a cocktail shaker 1/2-way with ice and fill 2/3 full with the margarita mixture. Shake for 30 seconds and pour into glasses. Decorate with fresh pineapple slices and serve ice cold.