Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Brown Butter Shortbread

Sooooo. Not a lot of baking this Christmas. I made Martha Stewart's shortbread (awesome recipe, Ms. Martha), but most of that went to school for friends and teachers...(I was SURE there would be some left...). So when I decided I really wanted to bake something for keepers, I made Brown Butter Shortbread. This is so good. Between the browned butter and the brown sugar, there's nothing not to love about this. It is simple and one step above...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I Got to Go to Volt.

That is all...for your viewing pleasure-- I got to go to Brian Voltaggio's Volt in Frederick, Maryland.
Let's start with the Amuse Bouche-Beet meringue with foie gras, a twist on shrimp and grits and arctic char with Meyer lemon (loved loved loved)
Course 1. Pickled huckleberries. Daikon. Umm. Country Ham...and stuff...oh, ramps?? I need study notes.
Course 2. Maitake mushrooms w steel cut oats and a foam of beer and yeast. I think. (see comment above about needing notes...

Course 3: Arctic char with rye crumbs, caramelized cabbage..and..NOTES PLEASE! Here's what. The fish was awesome. Silky smooth, perfectly cooked. Awesome  dish.

Course 4: Pasta. Calamari Bolognese..Bacon. Mmm.

Course 5: Lamb. I think this was my fave, even though I thought I was done w the savory dishes...fried kale, too.
Course 6: Are you still with me? Frozen chocolate mousse. Ice cream. Crunchy brittle...Homemade marshmallow.
Are you full yet? Too bad. Because you get petit fours:
And  tasted each one:

Then I PAINTED them...(okay.  I lie. I did that today...)

and then? Then they sent us home w mini coffee cakes. So we could wake up and eat at Volt at Home...

The end.
It was pretty wonderful and very special.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Smashed Roasted Potatoes OR Another Reason to Use Duck Fat

I love potatoes. And I love luxurious things like duck fat. Duck fat I can buy already rendered and in a jar. I like this as a side dish to a nice turkey dinner...oh, and hey. Just in time for you to work it into your (American) Thanksgiving dinner menu. (Sorry to you Canadians--missed you by a day.)

So for a bit (okay, a lot) of indulgence, I decided to roast red potatoes WITH duck fat. Win win, right?

And these are simple.

1. Cook potatoes until just tender. I tried to buy very evenly-sized potatoes so they all cooked at the same rate--I bought slightly large potatoes and cut them in half--more surface area to get all nice and toasty, duck-fat-brown. Now heat oven to 425F.
2. Let potatoes cool slightly. Place in bowl with duck fat (enough to coat them all and then some, okay?).
3. Line baking sheet with parchment. Pour potatoes out onto baking sheet, shaking them into one single layer, cut side down if you had to cut your potatoes (if the potatoes are small enough, you can just cook them whole). Smash each potato just enough to break the skin and reveal some of the good insides.

If you want, drizzle a smidge more duck fat onto the open potatoes. Salt generously.
4. Roast until the potatoes start to turn golden brown.
5. Eat too many.

Any questions?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Most Requested Dinner...

When I ask Bryn what she would like for a special dinner, it is always "Eva's Lasagne," which happens to be real Italian lasagne, which I happen to make from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking...I just don't do the spinach noodles. Eva made it with plain noodles the first time Bryn tasted it, and that is the way she remembers it..

So Friday, I made Marcella's bolognese. Added silky bechamel to it.

I made my own lasagne noodles--rolled to #8 on the Atlas pasta machine, so thin you can read through them. I precooked them the way Marcella says to (this was the step I whined about the first time and brought Marcella herself to my blog to say: suck it up buttercup. Why would you want to do it less than the right way?? I paraphrase, of course.)

 I made a lot of layers. A lot.

And it was good.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Marcella's Chicken Marches Style--Egg and Lemon

How fitting I learned of Marcella Hazan's death on Facebook--my first interaction with her was a whine after making her lasagne bolognese--couldn't I please skip the step of par-boiling the noodles? She was the first comment:
Marcella Hazan said...
NO! You are doing so well, why backslide?
I practically did back flips--I bragged, I made people go read her comment (more than the blog)..then I went and friended her on Facebook, where I followed her over the next three years. Just last week she invited people to weigh in on the merits of homemade "extruded" pasta (think...penne and rigatoni ...tubular stuff...). She didn't like homemade versions and preferred to get top quality dried--(not noodles, mind you: homemade all the way). 

I worked my way through other recipes of hers..they all stressed simple methods, great food. Don't overdo things. (I mean, LOOK at that lasagne. Noodles, sauce..parmesan. And it's awesome.)

Tonight, I knew I wanted simplicity and I knew I wanted it to be from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. This dish, fricassee chicken with lemon and egg, Marches style, was it. The ingredients list is short: butter, onion, chicken, stock, egg yolk, lemon juice. The method--melt the butter, add onion to skillet and cook until golden. Add chicken, seasoned with salt and peper, to skillet. Brown the chicken very well. Remove chicken breasts, leave thighs and legs in skillet. Add stock to skillet, cover skillet (lid ajar) and let simmer about 40 minutes. Uncover, return chicken breasts to skillet, and cook, simmering at least 10 minutes, then turn heat up some, and continue cooking, turning chicken from time to time, until sauce is almost gone. Remove pan from heat. Whisk yolks (2) and lemon juice (1/4 cup, about 2 lemons) together, then stir into sauce in skillet, stirring to combine and coat chicken (the yolks cook and thicken with the heat)..

The end result is chicken that was so tender, it almost just fell apart and it was full of flavor. This is a classic example of simple Italian cooking at its best. At Marcella's best. Tonight's dinner was for you, Marcella.

Here's the recipe from a group that cooked its way through the entire book. Good idea, folks.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Deep Dish Pizza.

Is it really pizza? The Italian in me says no, but the foodie in me asks: who cares? I was directed to this recipe by my friend, rave and off I went to find the recipe. My old friends at Cook's Illustrated have perfected this's almost foolproof AND you make the sauce yourself--just make sure you have a can of really good Italian tomatoes in your cupboard at all times (so you can make this pretty much whenever you want to)...It's actually...pretty easy and the ROI? Awesome.

Here's a link to Cook's Illustrated (paid)...and a link to someone who posted the recipe (I don't have permission to post.)

Make the Sauce
Folded Dough--Like the Best Croissant dough!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chocolate Babka!

Is there anyone who doesn't know the Seinfeld Chocolate Babka episode? It's timeless--and means that anyone who lives outside of NYC ought to know what a chocolate babka is (at least know that it's a coveted loaf of bread, right?) I right?

So when Paula Shoyer's recipe showed up several times in my FB feed, I finally realized the time had come. Time to make my own chocolate babka.

Paula is author of The Kosher Baker (cover recipe? Chocolate Babka) and a cooking teacher in the DC area. And she is good. Her books are full of delicious recipes accompanied by beautifully styled photos. (Let the record show: my babka looks NOTHING like the beautiful loaf in Paula's photo)...

I also did not make it kosher--I used butter. Three. Sticks. of. Butter. Per. Loaf.

I have officially given up chocolate croissant because now I can eat Chocolate Babka.

I didn't use loaf pans--wish I had--and that is why my little loaves are flattened. Also pinch pinch pinch the seams closed--I lost some of the chocolate filling to the baking pan (it turned into chocolate candy. I pried it off the parchment paper and thoroughly enjoyed it)...

I am going to get some loaf pans and make this again. People are already crazy for it.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Kale Salad--No, Really. Kale Salad.

Gotta say-- I thought, "No way." No way would I EVER eat raw kale--as in raw kale salad--voluntarily. Then I had a version at Dean and Deluca in Charlotte. And I was hooked.

A bit of research and I discovered that "the" method is to drizzle ribbons of cleaned/spun dry kale with a bit of olive oil and salt and to "massage" the kale--it kind of wilts and softens with the working--quite quickly, in fact.

I tried to recreate D and D's version, but it's not quite right. Guess I'll have to experiment more often. My notes from when I ate it say "Orange, cream, olive oil, parmesan." Gotta go with what I've got...

Here's the first version:
1 bunch kale, cleaned, cut into ribbons
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1/2 orange
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup yellow raisins
3 green onions, finely sliced
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Place kale in large wooden bowl. Massage kale with olive oil and salt until soft.
2. Drizzle with buttermilk. Stir. Add orange and lemon juices, garlic, raisins, onions, nuts and cheese. Mix all together. Serve room temperature.

My "tasters" didn't like one of the flavors and it MIGHT have been the buttermilk. Maybe replace that with 1/4 cup half and half? I'll let you know if I edit it.

Here is what I DO know: Now I'm craving a good kale salad.

Eat your Greens!!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

And to Go with Barb's Granola Gold? Homemade Greek Yogurt

In the vein of homemade is best-made, I decided to give Greek yogurt a shot--I wanted it to go with my homemade granola. Recipes abound on the internet, and no you do not need a yogurt maker (just another gadget). It is hands--off prep (almost)--but I did set a timer to remind me when the 7 hours of magic were up, or I probably would have gone to sleep and forgotten about the yogurt, which was busy fermenting in the oven.

You need:
Large cooking pot
Food thermometer
2 tablespoons prepared Greek yogurt with active cultures

Glass bowl or crock with lid (lots of people use slow-cooker crock)
cooling rack
cheesecloth (or, if you are like me, good paper towel instead)
Large bowl
Make sure all containers, pots, utensils are super clean

Yogurt with the marks of the cheesecloth (paper towel!) left on it
Homemade Greek Yogurt

1/2 gallon milk (buy good milk--use skim, 2% or whole--I used 2%)
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt

1. Pour milk into cooking pot and place over medium heat. Measure 2 tablespoons of the milk into a small bowl. Mix those 2 tablespoons milk with 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt. Set aside.
2. Let milk come to 180°F (use candy thermometer or instant read), stirring often as temperature rises to keep milk from sticking to pot.
3. When milk reaches 180°F, pour into glass container and set container on cooling rack. Let temperature fall to 110°F.
4. Turn oven on to 150°F or Warm setting.
5. Stir up the reserved milk/yogurt mixture and add to milk in glass container. Stir to combine well.
6. Place lid on container (I used a bowl and covered the bowl with a plate). Wrap container in large dishtowel (use 2 if you have to--you want to have it completely covered, top and bottom) and place wrapped container into 150° oven. Turn oven OFF and turn oven light ON. Make sure it stays on until you remove yogurt from oven.
7. Set timer for 7 hours. At the seven hour mark, remove container, unwrap. You will have regular yogurt at this point. Place container in fridge for at least 1 hour to cool.
8. Place cheesecloth-lined strainer over large bowl. Gently scrape/pour yogurt into lined strainer. Return this to fridge and let sit about1 to 2 hours. Check yogurt after 1 hour--you can decide how thickened you want the yogurt (mine sat 2 hours in the strainer)...To store, place in sealed container and store up to 1 week. (After straining, I had about 5 cups yogurt)...

Note--I think I can make a second batch using 2 tablespoons of THIS batch--will update here when I've checked that out. My goal is to not buy ANY Greek yogurt any longer, not even as starter.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Orangette...Oh. My.

I thought I'd catch up on some reading this afternoon, so I pulled up Orangette (a.k.a. Molly Wizenberg, author of one of my FAVES, A Homemade Life)...and fell headlong into losing the afternoon. I read her links. Read the recipes. Oohed and aahed over the photos.

Felt a twinge of jealousy--she's got Orangette AND she's writing for Food 52...Can I be you, Molly?

And realized maybe if I worked more at making wonderful things (as opposed to losing my afternoon reading about wonderful things!), maybe I'd have have a shot.

Or not...she's good. She's really, really good.

Go. Read. Lose an afternoon to her. You can thank me later.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Barb's Granola Gold...

I am going to package this stuff and sell it--Barb's Granola Gold. It is that good. No, really. But you don't have to buy the expensive stuff I'll be selling at the next farmers' market. You can make the recipe I give you here.

Credit for even getting me to try this goes to my friend, Sandra, who posted a version of this in a writers' forum. The part of the forum where we talk about everything BUT writing. Her words (I paraphrase)--most of the ingredients are already in the house, you mix it up in one bowl, no stove top work, then bake.

And done.

Me being me and me not having all of the ingredients Sandra listed led to my own twists...Worth it.
Ps. Great minds think alike. My buddy Robin Garr posted about fruit and yogurt, which are only enhanced with a sprinkling of granola, of course, on his blog, Eat. Feed. Love. Live.--homemade yogurt coming here on Wednesday.)

Barb's Granola Gold

2 tablespoons molasses (unsulphured)
1/4 cup golden syrup (British product, pretty easy to find) OR honey
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt (use something more coarse than table salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
5 cups oats (old-fashioned oats, not quick cooking and not steel cut)
2 cups slivered almonds
2 cups golden raisins

1. Heat oven to 325F. In a very large bowl, whisk together the molasses, syrup or honey, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, oil and melted butter. Stir in the oats, almonds and raisins and mix to coat all ingredients well.
2. Spread mixture into rimmed baking pan, pressing it into 1 shallow layer. Bake 20 minutes. Rotate pan and bake another 20 minutes until mix is starting to turn golden brown. Cool completely. Break into bits and store in airtight container. Makes about 8 cups cereal.

I am eating more yogurt than ever as an excuse to sprinkle a tablespoon of this over the yogurt every time I eat it--because truth be told, I could eat a cup of this at a time...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Paleo Anyone?

Eating Paleo? It's in. Since it's my job to know about these things, here are the basics--The intent is to eat the way our ancestors may have eaten in the Paleolithic time--hunting and gathering, that's what they did then. And they hunted and gathered meat, fruits and veg--there was no farming, so grains don't make the cut. No salt, no refined sugar, some honey, perhaps.

That said, I decided to test this recipe. Gotta say, I pretty much loved it. Chuck roast, lots of onions, root vegetables (I used golden beets as called for and rutabaga. Believe it of not, I am allergic to celeriac/celery root. I know. I'm exotic that way. Trust me, it's a well-known food allergy in Europe. Thank my Italian ancestors. I digress...), red wine (okay, so they didn't farm, but they knew how to let grape juice ferment, right?? I'm in.).

The only twist I made to this recipe is that I seared the meat first. I'm a big fan of really getting a good brown on the meat, because then when I deglaze with that red wine, I get an incredible rich flavor from all that good stuff on the bottom of the pan (culinary vocab lesson: fond. That's what the good brown stuff is. Fond. You will need to know this if you are watching Top Chef Masters. Okay, joking. You'll need to know that if you are IN Top Chef Masters. I'm not. I still like knowing it....ARGH. I digress AGAIN.)

Bottom line? Awesome stew and easy and satisfying--because of the beets and the rutabaga (a.k.a swede, a.k.a. yellow turnip), I didn't even come close to missing potatoes in this. I browned the meat and the onions, with the garlic going in just a minute or so before adding the wine to deglaze, then adding all the rest of the veg...cover it and pop it into a 300F oven for a few hours. Awesome--do NOT miss out on the orange peel, which really adds a lovely note to the dish. I walked back into the house a few hours later and I could still catch the lingering scent of that orange/savory goodness. What a treat.

As with any stew, I can only imagine this will be even better a day later. Guess what's on my menu for lunch?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Not quite Two Years Ago...And I am thinking One Year from Now...NYC Triathlon...

It occurs to me that I am out of shape..And that two years ago I was in the best shape of my life. My little band of partners (a.k.a. Paul's Posse) just finished the NYC Tri last weekend and I found myself wishing I had run it!

So this week, I've done some jogging. Today I just rode 8 miles and I SUFFERED through them. To do the NYC Tri, I need to swim about a mile, bike about 24 miles and then run 10k.

Sounds daunting. But Hey. I need a project.

Here's my post about the 2011 NYC Triathlon--and a link to Paul's Posse

Catching up...I did it (two-plus months ago, that is...)

Poor little Babette Feasts blog. I tell you, I have not been feasting much lately. August and September were an absolute whirlwind of travel, starting with the NYC Triathlon.

That was SO much fun. And exhausting. Here's the thing. The swim? Fine, no big deal (although choppy...I worried about people without experience, then found out my cousin Amy finished faster than I did. And that is my strong event. Her weak one. I guess I really am old....but that's okay, because guess what? I did the NYC Triathlon!)...I did the barefoot run by grabbing the swim shoes I'd stashed under a bench right by the swim exit...then I stopped and used a bench to sit down and get out of my wetsuit...then I toweled off, put on bike shorts and headed transition time for swim to bike was something awesome like 15 minutes.

What? It's not like I was angling for a medal!!

Anyway, then came the bike ride. Now mind you, I had really worked myself up into a state about the bike ride. They were predicting rain and all I could think of was how very bare the tires on the road bike are. Skid city is really what I was thinking. But what really happens is that you get on ...and you RIDE. You don't think you are going to fall, you just RIDE. You avoid people and you RIDE. You are very glad you are wearing the sunglasses, even though it is too dark, because wet roads kick up sprays of water right into your face and you RIDE. Then it starts pouring rain and you still RIDE. You ignore the fact that your sister, after she dropped you off for the event the day before, took note of the turnaround point and thought.."Far." You hit the turnaround point. The rain stops and the headwinds pick up...

Oh, man, I was so tired at the end of that ride. I do hilly-er hills in Charlotte, but these were loooooong, slooooowwww climbs and they took a toll.

But I got into the transition and I changed socks (so smart, to have read that it's a good idea to have some dry socks on hand), said hey to Sam as I exited the transition area (he was waiting for his relay team member to send him on his way) and promptly DIED.

Duh. uh. IED.

You start up a steep hill and I walked. You get to 72nd Street and I walked. I tried to jog and happily, I was actually jogging when I passed my little band of cheerleaders (Pat, Sushil, Simone, Gary, Julien +1, Gabby)...and then I had to walk again. All I could think was I have 6 miles to go. I was my own worst enemy. All the positive reinforcement thoughts went out the window.

I made it to each mile marker by running to the next tree down the way. Then walking. Then running to that lamppost I could see. Then walking...Then running to that big rock. It had been cool (ish) and raining during the bike ride. Now the sun came out and it was like running in a steam room and the temperature just seemed to rocket up to 90.

That is some hilly park, Central Park. Finally, around mile 4.5 Sam caught up with me. I was really feeling all kinds of crap so I said hey and see you at the finish. Sam kept running (again, when he caught up to me, I was, surprisingly, jogging)...then turned around thinking I was right behind him only to see me walking.

He waited. When I caught up to him, Sam made me start jogging and didn't let me quit. He kept me going by saying, "Come on, let's pass these two.." Then he would set his sights on the next runner or two and we'd pass them.

It was hard, but I was so touched. We crossed the finish line together and I cherish that moment.

but I gotta say, I felt awful. I wanted to cry. The volunteer who met me at the finish line asked me how I felt and must not have believed me, because he asked me my name...Truth? I should have told him I felt like crap and taken all the help he had to offer.

Scenes from the day:

Waiting in line for bus to the starting transition zone...where you then had to walk a mile to get to swim start. Yes, I was almost late...

Sam around 4:30 a.m. while waiting for the bus.

I actually stopped on the "run" to take a shot. Stupid to carry the camera at all.

Look, that's me saying hi..and trying to look like I'm having fun.

Me, Sam, Gabby, Gary
Still, I am glad so very glad I did this. The feeling of accomplishment in this cannot be matched by other things I do, mostly because this is so far out of my own comfort zone. To all of you who supported my efforts, you are so appreciated.

You MUST check out Amy's highlights, one of which was Amy, her sister Jill and me riding our way from hotel to transition zone through the streets of NYC. AWESOME. (I didn't make any of the photos because I felt like such ...yuck.)

Friday, July 19, 2013

What are YOU eating?

heat of summer....salad, salad and more salad...Ground lamb kebabs and a big salad just the way I like it: lettuce, onion, almonds, raisins, my homemade dressing and blue cheese.

That's enough...but...NO PHOTO. I totally need an iPhone so I can take photos ALL THE TIME.

What are you eating in this heat???

And this: if it can be grilled? I grill it. No more heat in the house.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fourth of July: Lemonade

So I love going to fairs--state fairs, county fairs, town fairs, you name it. Not for all that fried food on a stick but for the lemonades...You know the stuff. The squeeze a fresh-cut lemon into a cup, add sugar and water and shake it up then hand it over.

True story. When we moved into our oh-so-lovely house in Louisville, KY oh-so-long ago (wish I'd never left!), one day the boys wanted a lemonade stand. Well, to be honest, I didn't really HAVE lemonade mix. What I DID have was lemons, water, ice and sugar. So I showed the boys how to make lemonade and set them up with a stand to make the real deal.

Well, the little girls next door came over for some lemonade and one of them took her cup back to her dad, saying--It's not even YELLOW. Well, the dad heard that and practically ran out to buy himself a cup of real lemonade, noting he hadn't had real lemonade in...forever. (Okay, years not forever. But you get my drift.)

Nothing compares to real food. Real drink. Real anything. So today, make yourself some real lemonade. Really almost as easy as adding fake powder to water.

Today, I decided my Fourth of July needed REAL lemonade.

1 quart water
2 lemons
Simple syrup: 1/2 cup sugar to 1/2 cup water, heat until sugar melts and let cool...

Roll lemons on counter to soften and make easier to juice. Cut in half. Use fork to extract all juice from each half, straining through fine mesh strainer.
Add lemon juice to water. Add simple syrup to taste. Stir. Pour over ice.

Now drink real lemonade.

Sunday, June 30, 2013


Lots of food words here...

Love it.

Also love the remember, know, cook, David, best section.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday, Link Day

Best Bacons!! Now that is my kind of article. Farmland makes #2, but my own have, Nueske's applewood smoked is nowhere to be found. That? That bacon should be #1.

A photographer's life...

I am thinking I need a logo. A brand. A friend introduced me to 99 Designs. AWESOME concept.

Cronuts. Need I say more?

So this article dissects the trick of levitation off a double decker bus in London, but I say skip the article and just enjoy the trick (as part of a Pepsi commercial, which you can see if you scroll down to the bottom of the story)--enjoy magic for what it is: an illusion.

Wine tasting anyone?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Shells...the start..

Today's efforts were short...rough morning. But it's a start and I like where it's going...It's interesting to me to see the painting next to the photo in this space...I need to learn something here, although I am not sure what it is (yet..).
What I painted (not finished yet!)

What was there...

Watercolor Friday: Vision of Things to Come

I am heading out to paint this morning and will post the results later...but in the meantime, I wanted to put this sunrise up for your viewing enjoyment.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Re-Post: Looking Back

The Blogathon links, forever for me, to my brother's death two years ago in May. There is still a hole in our family where he should be. On the upside, when Blogathon rolls around, I revisit the posts I made during that month and remember David. Blogging became one reliable thing for me and almost meditative. I want to repost two things today. One is the haiku from that month and the other is the post I made on the last day of the blogathon, because I think it always rings true:

Life Goes on

Simple routines get
us through the days. Moments are
now more difficult.

Looking back..

It is difficult even to think about what to say. In the middle of this very fun exercise of daily blogging, my brother died. I did my best to continue, and I did well every day except for the very day of his funeral--frankly, the routine of doing the blog helped. Every routine helped.

To those of you who visited and sent condolences, thank you so much. It means a lot, this little connection.

You didn't know David, but he was a quirky, smart, SMART guy. So smart that many of us didn't even understand everything he did and we all seemed to butt heads with him often. But when we did, short hours (minutes) later would find us contentedly sharing some of his bread, some extra-virgin olive oil that he likely hand-carried back from Italy in a suitcase of his own design, kitted out with foam padding and cut-outs for bottles of wine and cans of olive oil (I came across the design plans as I went through his papers this week).

He was famous among family and friends for the bread--he worked hard on those recipes and, in true science fashion, his recipes are really formulas--vast spread sheets with variables, equations, questions, constants...

He always made great bread.

So today, please go open a bottle of wine you may have been saving for a special day. Pitch the sliced bread and either bake a loaf or go get REAL bread, good bread. Drizzle out a bit of really good olive oil, and savor it all with family and friends. Because today is a special day.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Great Experiment...

Remember when I told you about Japanese Pizza, a.k.a. okonomiyaki? Last night was the experiment night...after reading a bunch of recipes, I settled on a basic plan--I would sauté shredded cabbage with onion and carrot. Coat it with a batter of flour and egg, salt and pepper. Fry it up, top it with green onion, hoisin and Kewpie Mayonnaise...Consume.

The general consensus? Mine was good, but not the same. My base was much heavier and not as crispy as the one we had at the sushi bar...and looking back at that photo in the link above, I can see how much more FRIED the one we had out was..

I aslo learned that in addition to the Kewpie mayo, there also exists okonomiyaki sauce. Now I must find both. (I made my own kewpie mayo from an online recipe here.)

Barb's Japanese Pizza (Refinements to come)

4 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 large onion, sliced thin.
1 tablespoon oil
1 carrot, grated
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
Splash soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

6 eggs
2/3 to 1 cup flour
S and P to taste

Oil for frying.

Thinly sliced scallions
Chopped cilantro
Fried "crispies"
Kewpie Mayo
Hoisin Sauce

1. Saute the cabbage with onion in oil over medium high head. Add carrot and ginger and cook until cabbage is wilted. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and stir in soy sauce and sesame oil.
2. Whisk eggs with flour to relatively thin batter. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Heat oil for frying in non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle in some of the batter to get the "crispies" to mix with scallions for the topping. Fry to golden brown and crispy. Remove from heat and drain. Crumble into bits.
4. Add cabbage mixture to batter. Stir to coat well. Heat oil again over medium high heat and place about 1/3 of mixture into skillet (about 9- or 10-inch skillet). Fry until bottom is golden brown. Flip pizza and cook second side.
5. Slide pizza out onto rack to cool slightly and drain any excess oil. Place onto cutting board. Top with scallions, cilantro, some sliced almonds
and bits of fried batter. Drizzle all with mayo and hoisin. Slice into wedges and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

5 More Things Everyone (You, I mean) Should Know How to Make

So I couldn't stop at just five essentials to make. Here are five more dishes I think can get you through
Perfectly Scrambled. I could eat this every day.

1. Omelett and scrambled eggs. This is a two-fer. I happen to think a perfectly scrambled is pretty..sublime. No, really. Soft, not dry. Pretty (yellow AND white, not overly scrambled. A touch of butter...Here. Have at it with this post. Perfect Scrambled Eggs. As for omelets, try Alton's recipe. What is better than a cheese omelet? (Alton's is a chive omelet. Pretty awesome..)

2. Pancakes. Okay, please. Pancakes don't come from a box. They don't come from a bottle that you just have to squeeze into a hot skillet. They are simple to make. So learn. I lean on Cook's Illustrated for their best recipe pancake. (For the record, CI is one of very few websites I pay for. Technique, ingredients..what a jumping off point...and pretty spot-on recipes.) If you can't find it there, google CI pancakes..You'll learn what you need to know.. Ps. You can make buttermilk by adding white vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk. "Clabbered" milk, but perfect substitution.

3. Chile. Okay, look. Party=Chile=Hit of the crowd. You can feed a crowd with chile. (a.k.a. chili)...I spent more than a decade in Louisville, KY, where I learned to love chili over spaghetti (Cincinnati Chili)...Lot's of cinnamon, plenty of GOOD. Here's a Food Network recipe for Cincinnati Chili.

4. Chicken Salad. Okay, here's the go-to: chicken. mayo. sour cream. Mango chutney. golden raisins. onion. celery. curry powder. garlic or garlic powder. S and P to taste. Cilantro. And if you love crunch (I do) toasted almonds. Not up for curried chicken salad? Leave out the curry powder and mix it up...

5. One Awesome Dessert--Pick your favorite and then go to town and be THE expert at it. My son once made a creme caramel that I remember to this day. I think should make that HIS go to recipe. Another friend turns out a fruit crisp without a second thought (can you say easy AND delicious?) you love pie? Memorize Dorie Greenspan's perfect pie crust and then work on the filling. Me? I like simple desserts, so I can make a killer brown butter shortbread and this awesome AWESOME Lemon Ginger and White Pepper Pound Cake from Maida Heatter. Or wait, how about Martha's Upside Down Cranberry Cake...I can't pick just one..What do you make?

Today I am working on perfecting my own Japanese pizza with a friend. I'll take photos and let you know how we do.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Blogathon 2013 Haiku: I Paint

I mix a color.
Brush to paint and to paper.
Not what I had planned.