April 18, 2006

MOVING TIME!!

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:33 pm by Jeff

Hey cool kids…because I'm fed up with people not being able to make comments, I'm moving my cooking blog to my new site:  www.cforcooking.com .  It's just hosting my blog right now, but it should be ROCK SOLID!! I thought that hosting my cooking blog online would make things easier, but it so didn't :(  Lesson learned…I'll send everyone an email with the updated info…but once again, please accept my apologies for all the comment posting problems online.

 

Eating NYC Part 2

Posted in Dining Out, Reviews at 9:24 am by Jeff

On Saturday in NYC it was about 80 degrees and super nice outside.  We had spent the day at the Met and went on a really nice walk in Central Park (we had never done that before).  After walking around the better part of Manhattan for the day we were nice and hungry as we grabbed a cab and headed over to Cafe Boulud

We were greeted by nice hostesses with legit French accents! Thank goodness for "Open Table", I got reservations earlier in the week and we were seated straight away.  Service was more than a bit attentive as there were about 3 different people attending to our needs from wine to entree's.  I started off with a Yellow Corn/Pork Tamale complete with three different types of dipping sauces (salsa, braising sauce, lemon yogurt) and it was SOOO yummers!  I had a glass of the Pino Gris.  For dinner I had a "Peeking Duck"…it was really good, though the marmalade glaze combined with the wine was waaay too acidic.  It was accompanied by some potatoes and saute'ed vegetables.  Good stuff!  Steph had goat cheese ravioli in a savory pea sauce (VERY delicate).  For desert, Steph had the Artisanal cheeses while I had the Grilled Pinapple coconut/carrot cake.

Overall Impression:  I felt that the food was very good at Boulud with the exception of dessert.  The pineapple was super thick and difficult to cut.  The combo of the wine/marmalade was very rough on my throat.  Service was very very good…very attentive and always around whenever we needed anything.  The ambiance on the other hand left a lot to be desired.  Noisy and cramped we were forced to listen to this horrible woman tell her 15 year old daughter how 'fat' she was and how she should start skipping desert (the girl wasn't fat at all).  It was too well lit, and bright…which was too bad as they had some really nice art work.  All in all, I think that it had a lot of potential as the food and service was really good, but I wouldn't be going back there any time soon. 

P.S.  Back to cooking tomorrow…promise! :D

Pix from the market:

April 17, 2006

Eating NYC Part 1

Posted in Dining Out, Reviews at 7:42 am by Jeff

So, we're back from the NYC! We had a GREAT weekend and had a blast…from staying at the W on Lexington to eating out at two of the finer restaurants that NYC has to offer. Arriving in NY we headed over to the hotel to see if we could check in…despite a little rain, we were in high spirits as we were allowed to check in. It was around noon so we headed up the street to the Broadway Diner where I got a Ruben (hey..it's NYC!!). It was pretty damn good, though a bit salty. We walked quite a bit through the rain when Steph suggested we take a break…it was here we entered Grand Central where I got to walk the same route where I've seen on Bobby Flay's "Boy Meets Grill". Very cool stuff…I've attached some pix below.

Friday night we headed over to Bolo. I know, I'm a fan…but it really was a very nice night and the food was super yum. We started out with some Tapas for appetizers…they were all so tasty and visually interesting. I also kicked it off with his Pomegranite Martini….mmmm…was soo smooth and not too sweet! For dinner I had the special, which was….FRIED SOFT SHELL CRABS! I've never had them before….and as I am on a culinary journey to try new things…I gave it a whirl. In the words of Homer Simpson…it was…mmmmmmm!!!! It was not greasy at all…it was light and airy and flavorful. Steph had a Calamari, Squid Ink Risotto that came with two VERY large prawns. Dessert was a 'crispy' chocolate moose with some port infused sorbet.

Overall Impression: The food, to say the least, was incredible. Portions were generous and extremely flavorful. The primary ingredients were allowed to shine and the spices were accents not overpowering. The drinks were very creative and balanced between the alcohol and the mixers. Service was very attentive when we first sat down…but somewhat tapered off towards the end. We didn't feel like we were being rushed, but the food came out fairly fast…maybe a bit too fast. Ambience was typical NY…many tables jammed next to each other, but surprisingly the restaurant was fairly quiet and good for conversation. I recommend this restaurant without any reservation for a wonderful, fun night out…would be a great time for a family or group of friends with the tapas!

I'll continue this review tomorrow (as we had a big day today) with dinner and dining from Sat down in the NYC!!

Pix from Grand Central:

April 13, 2006

Weekend Chef

Posted in Fluff at 7:03 am by Jeff

So, I'm somewhat lucky to work for a financial firm in that we have Friday off. Steph and I are using this opportunity to go down to NYC. Now, I'm a pretty big fan of the food network and one of my favorite chefs is Bobby Flay. While we are down in NYC we are going to hit a couple nice restaurants and one of them is owned by Flay called Bolo. His flagship restaurant Mesa was pretty much booked all weekend so I thought it'd still be nice to try out one of his restaurants. This was somewhat of a spontaneous trip and thus a lot of places are booked. Mario's restaurants were booked solid as were Jean Georges (well…unless we wanted to eat at 11pm)..thus I decided to take a look at the NY Times to see what I could find. What I found was one very interesting looking French Restaurant named Cafe Boulud. Looks like it'll be a fun time…though I won't be doing much cooking until Sunday.

I'm thinking we might do a leg of lamb for Easter supper along with some sides. Nothing is final…but it should be a really fun time as I've never cooked a leg of lamb before! That said, I can't wait to get dolled up and try some new restaurants this weekend after visiting some museums :) Think I can sneak my camera in?

By the way…check out the Lasagna my wife made with the left over Ricotta/Sauce!  This is the sort of thing that I'm not quite good at (yet!).  When I saw the left overs…I really wasn't sure with the leftovers, but my whirling dervish cooking wife went right away  to the cupboard, pulled out some noodles and went to work.  I have to say it was super yummy and I contributed by making the sauce/cheese mixture and getting outta our kitchen! :)

 

April 12, 2006

Tiger cakes

Posted in Cooking, Fish, Vegetarian at 7:01 am by Jeff

After having a couple days of yummy Italian food, I felt it was time to switch gears and try something different. Thinking about what I had in the pantry when I remembered that I had a bunch of shrimp left over from a couple weeks ago (gotta love the versatility of frozen shrimp!!). Now…what to cook that wasn't the same ol same ol. What I came up with was a super coolio recipe from Epicurious for Shrimp cakes with Chili Lime Cream sauce. I thought it would be a good idea to compliment the cakes with a nice salad…and to go with that, I thought that I'd make a nice Honey Mustard salad dressing from scratch! (how ambitious am I?)

Starting off we got the ingredients ready for the salad dressing:

I was pretty excited to use honay (Honey) as I have a sweet tooth the size of Savannah.  Kicking it off, I put the honay in a pot with the vinegar to get it dissolved.  As I assembled the other ingredients I noticed that for some reason I was sticking to the floor….DAMN IT!!  I was betrayed by that sweet sweet honay bear!! lol  I took off my flip flops and washed down the floor.  I then moved on to assembling the dressing…slowly whisking in the oil.  What I was left with was a super yummy salad dressing which would work well for topping the shrimp cakes (I hoped!). 

Next it was on to the assembly of the shrimp cakes.  I called this recipe 'Tiger Cakes' because these are frozen tiger shrimp.  The recipe called for throwing these in the food processor, but after consulting with my pal Al at work we thought it'd be best to roughly chop the shrimp instead of blending them…this would give it a bit more texture and body.

I threw all the ingredients in a bowl and started stirring it up.  It came together fairly quick as I threw in some PANKO BREADCRUMBS!! mmmm…panko!! This brought the mix to a nice solid mixture suitable for forming and eventual dredging into more panko for a crunchy exterior.

Ready for deployment!  In a large cast iron skillet I heated up some oil and began crisping up each side.  When all was said and done, I think the shrimp cakes came out pretty damn good.  I dried the cakes on a drying rack which kept them really crisp and yummy…the salad (admittedly store bought) was very good and I really LOVED the honey mustard dressing on top of the shrimp cakes.

Lessons learned:  Judging when the shrimp cakes were done was a bit difficult as I think I made them a little too thick.  I probably could've used a bit more oil when I fried the second batch.  I get a bit nervous when I see smoke while frying and need to 'get over it'.  I also used cilantro instead of chopped parsley in the dressing and it worked out really well.  I would also be more cautious of my friend the honay bear…he is one sneaky character and is prone to making life sticky for all who come into contact with him!! ;)

 Finished!!

April 11, 2006

Vampire protection

Posted in Cooking, Vegetarian at 6:40 am by Jeff

So, tonight I became a victim of my own success.  See, in making yesterdays Rollatini, we had quite a bit of leftovers to eat for tonight.  In addition, when Steph saw that we had some left over ricotta filling, she made a little lasagna (inspired IDEA!!) so we haven't even dug our forks into that yet.  I was going to make a dessert for tonight, but in talking it over with Steph…the time it would've taken to make dessert would've meant we'd both be asleep.  That said, it was time to improvise and go back to one of my favorite Italian-type side dishes which takes zippo in the way of time….GARLIC BREAD!!   Yeah, I know…not very exciting, but man…with the sauce that I made yesterday I figured it couldn't hurt to have some around.

Up until I bought my knife set, cutting bread was such a pain…I don't know how I cut bread before :)

Of course, can't have garlic bread…perfect opportunity to break out the garlic press!  Steph and I go this at Ikea down in Maryland a few years ago…it works like a charm :) 

We are big fans of garlic in this house…I try to avoid using garlic powder as real garlic tastes so much better!  So, I melted some butter along with the garlic, brushed it on the bread and sprinkled on some cheese.  Under the broiler it went as I kept a close eye on it.  I've been told I always burn garlic bread…so once the cheese got melty…it came out of the oven.  That said, it came out pretty yummy and a good accompaniment for the marinara sauce from yesterday.

Lessons Learned:  Didn't take really that much to put this together so not a lot of room to grow here.  Personally, I like garlic bread on bagettes, but hey…all tastes good with butter and garlic :)

Finished!!

April 10, 2006

Time to Rollatini

Posted in Cooking, Vegetarian at 8:11 am by Jeff

Last week I was curious to try out a Giada De Laurentiis recipe for Eggplant Rollatini, but it just wasn't in the cards with the schedule that Steph and I had. Sunday however, was a totally different story but taking a look at the recipe, 3 eggplants was WAAAY to much :) Kicking off cookin' I decided that it was best to start with the marinara sauce.

One trick I picked up from Molto Mario was to slice up the garlic instead of just choppin' it up. Slicing it fairly thin, frankly is just pretty dang fun as opposed to sending it through the garlic press :) Sauteing up the mirepoix started making the house smell super yummers.

I threw in some red pepper flakes (yes, how crazy am I going off the recipe and adding my own dash?!?!?). I threw in some crushed red tomatoes and let it start simmerin' for an hour. It was about this time that I got some unexpected help….my wonderful wife had taken over the kitchen to make some cookies and it was then she offered up some help! Hoo-RAH! Steph had already started slicing up some of the eggplant…I hadn't even thought of it…but she was using the mandolin!

Action SHOT!! lol The slices were super thin and uniformly the same size as I laid them out to be salted on a baking tray to sweat out the bitterness. It sounds super geeky but I do love watching the moisture come to the surface. Steph laughed at me watching the eggplant and called me "Science Boy" hehe…maybe so, but it was still fun.

After about 20 minutes, I took the sweated eggplants and washed off the salt and residual moisture leaving me with some yummy, sweet eggplants…ready for some EVOO and subsequent grilling in the grill pan.

Steph was working making the filling as I snuck in with a little fresh nutmeg as I love nutmeg with ricotta cheese. Grilling up the eggplant Steph started assembling the stuffed eggplant.

Rolling up these little guys we made sure to put the seams side down so that they wouldn't leak out as we cooked them.

While Steph finished up rolling up the eggplant, I put the sauce in the blender to smooth it out and I have to say it came out pretty damn good. It didn't really need any additional seasoning as I covered the eggplant with sauce and some additional parmesan. The final product was met with rave reviews from Steph. We finished off the plating with some garlic spinach for a green vegetable.

Lessons Learned: This was the first time I've felt that Steph and I worked together in the kitchen fairly well. Working together made the job move a heck of a lot faster. Also, I have to say that the mandolin worked super well. I would've never thought of that as I seem to be married to my knives at times…lesson well taken for slicing objects in a uniform pattern at a fast pace. Also, it didn't take much to put together a fairly easy, tasty marinara sauce :)

FINISHED!!

April 9, 2006

A Foodbloggers Meme Around the World

Posted in Memes at 10:40 pm by Jeff

1. Please list three recipes you have recently bookmarked from foodblogs to try:

2. A food blog in your vicinity:

3. A foodblog (or more) located far from you:

4. A foodblog (or several) you have discovered recently (where did you find it?):

  • Simply Recipes….one of the first food blogs I ran into
  • Cooking Medley…I love Indian food and this blog has some great recipes with lots of great Indian friends who also have cooking blogs

5. Any people or bloggers you want to tag with this meme?

  • I'm somewhat of a cooking blog newbie…probably no one would respond*shrug*

April 7, 2006

Beyond Rangoon

Posted in Cooking, Fish at 8:34 am by Jeff

It's been a fairly stressful week at work so I think that Steph and myself were in need of a treat. So after kicking around some ideas with my pal Al at work when I realized that I had some leftover wanton wrappers…that could only mean one thing…CRAB RANGOONS!

When looking at the different recipes online, I had to go find one from the Trader. If you don't know anything about Trader Vic, he's the guy that pretty much brought chinese food to mainstream America. I'm not saying he's the first person…but anyone that invented the Mai Tai is ok in my book for telling me how to create a crab rangoon. This was far easier than the potstickers from the other day…essentially after chopping up the crab…it was throw in a dish to mix!

A half hour later I extracted the mix from the chill chest and began assembling my rangoons. This time around, I put the mixture on, 6 at a time instead of just one. I used a teaspoon full of filling instead of a tablespoon…man it made life easier filling those little SOB's ;)

It was about this time, that I realized that some troll had swapped out canola oil with vegetable oil at the grocery store and I had mistakenly taken that instead of the desired canola. So, I put a bit of oil down in the cast iron dutch oven…not enough for deep fry emersion, but enough to fry. The first few were a bit over done…not burned or anything…just a bit over done. I used a drying rack/cookie sheet combo to dry them so they'd remain crisp….I'd never fried anything like this before and I didn't want them to get soggy.

Steph came home from work and was a bit wary of the smell of fried cookin'. However once she tried the rangoons she was pleased as puched to have some pretty yummy tasting snacks.

Lessons Learned: I felt that I rushed the process as Steph called giving me a half hour to assemble and cooked the rangoons. This was all my fault, as I should've started a bit earlier…thus I was assembling rangoons while cooking at the same time, but they cook super fast! lol In addition, I found that for this cream cheese based recipe, a 'real' teaspoon worked better than a measuring teaspoon as it was very sticky stuff.

Finished!!

April 6, 2006

Cap’n Jeff’s Tuna Surprise

Posted in Cooking, Pasta at 7:42 am by Jeff

The other night I was stuck at work fairly late….when I got home, I got a call from Steph telling me that I was on my own for dinner. As I had no desire to go back out, I turned to look at my options. In general terms I was thinking either "Microwave Burrito" or maybe some "Pasta". It was then I had a brilliant idea…I'd take the pasta, some leftovers and a can o' tuna and make a casserole of sorts!!

Our stars for the night:

Now, ya'll may be wondering what exactly is the 'surprise'? I mean…it looks like pretty standard fare, despite the fresh parmesan and the semi expensive tuna in oil…well….tonight's secret ingredient is….(in best Iron Chef Chairman Voice):

PANKO BREADCRUMBS!!! Usually, I'm a fresh breadcrumb type of guy…but I've been dying for an excuse to use these as I salted the water (for the pasta) and began grating the cheese.

Seriously…how good is that tuna looking? I was brought up on tuna in fresh water, and truth be told, it is way more healthy for you than the dark tuna in oil. HOWEVER, there isn't much taste to those tuna's packed in water with light meat…the dark meat in oil actually tastes like something! Pasta cooked and strained it was on to the assembly of the dish in pyrex. I started with a layer of breadcrumbs, then pasta, then tuna, next the pasta sauce followed by the cheese and breadcrumbs…looked a bit like this:

After I baked it for 10 minutes…I threw it under the broiler for another five to get a nice golden crust on top.

I will say, for a dish I threw together in a short period of time, there was a lot of flavor and good mixture of textures that wasn't overally unappealing to the eye ;)

Lessons Learned: Nice to keep an open mind when doing dinner…try to kick up an ordinary dish into something you may not have thought of. It didn't take that much longer to put this together than just throw pasta and sauce together, but it was so much more flavorful and enjoyable.

FINISHED!!!

April 5, 2006

Eastern Burrito

Posted in Cooking, Meat, Pork at 12:30 am by Jeff

I had some left over filling from the potstickers as I sat down to figure out what I was gonna do for dinner last night. I also had some leftover pork and some other goodies, as I had the inspired idea to make some kicked up burritos! I started off by setting up my workspace. A coolio trick I learned (by watching the food network of course) is to put a wet paper towel down underneath my cutting board…thus keeping it steady as a rock through cutting.

I then proceeded to chop up some crunch and yummy bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. I've always loved water chestnuts and thought they would be a good substitute for lettuce.

VERY exciting colors, eh? hehe I added some chili/garlic sauce and stirred them together to combine with the existing filling.

After sauteing the meat and assorted veggies together….I started to construct my Burritos…adding some preshredded italian cheeses and whole wheat tortillas making sure to use tin foil on a cookie sheet for easy clean up later on.

All in all, I think they came out fairly well. The ginger, pork and hot sauce gave the burritos a yummy flavor while the water chestnuts added a nice crunchy dimension to my east meets southwest burrito.

Lessons Learned: Basically it was a nice throw together leftover dinner. I managed not to mangle my fingers in any sorta way…so I would judge this dinner a success. Not a bad presentation if I do say so myself for a burrito!

FINISHED!!

April 4, 2006

Two fingers and a potsticker

Posted in Cooking, Ouch!! at 6:36 am by Jeff

I pretty much was a cooking fool on Sunday. I mean that in both a good and bad way….see, Steph got me this issue of cooks illustrated that had a recipe for pork potstickers. Being the adventerous type of joe, I thought that would be a good opportunity for me to get to know how to cook with wanton wrappers. Being the nice guy that I am, I also thought it would be nice if I could cook somevegetarian potstickers for Steph. Armed with both recipes I set out to cook.

Let me say that although I totally understand if someone is a vegetarian…prepping for a vegetarian dish takes 3x as long when lots of veggies and tofu is involved :)Bok Choi and Nappa Cabbage were two of the primary ingredients as I began slicin’ and dicin’

Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to inflict my first injury…maybe baking is easier…less knives around for me to hurt myself with

As Steph is the tofu expert in the family I enlisted her help to determine what would be the best way to press the tofu to get out the excess moisture. Apparently, “1000 Vegetarian Recipes” is the way to go!

It was about at this point that things took a turn for the Monty Python when I beveled one of my fingers. See, I generally have considered myself a fairly good veggie chopper…since I’ve been cooking, I’ve been able to increase my speed. However, what I can’t control is the old people (lots of old people live in my condo complex) leaning on their car horns generally getting me upset. That said..welcome to cut #2…probably my worst so far…yet Steph was able to get me bandaged up pretty quick.

As the cut was fairly deep, Steph told me to take a seat and she took over some of the prep work. I have to say, watching her made me realize how far I have to go…she should be onIron Chefshe is so fast and so neat. She makes me look like I’m standing still and when she was done and let me take over again, the place was super clean. Back on track, mypotsticker fillings were both done

With that I began assembling the individual potstickers. Let me tell you, if the Chinese have many hells, one of them has to be the hell of making tofu potstickers. The tofu doesn’t hold together like meat and blows up super easy.

After a few broken wonton wrappers…I started getting into it, yet never truly mastered the process. The key, I found, was the first fold and pinch (going diagonal). If that didn’t work…forgettaboutit. Eventually, I got 18 veggie and 16 pork ready for fryin’

Yeah…some don’t look super hot…but the new ones are the ones on the bottom and to the right…not too bad if I do say so :) Then it was on to the frying pan for some crisping prior to the steaming (which was followed by a bit more crisping).

This part of the operation went fairly smooth…though the potstickers did stick to the pan during the second crisping and had to be removed with a spatula. In addition, they also stuck to the paper towel that was recommended for blotting excess oil. The end result was fairly tasty I have to say!! The porkpotstickers were just as good as anything I had got in a restaurant…while the vegetarian, truth be told, could’ve used a bit more flavoring.

Lessons Learned: This process took a DAMN long time. I started at 4:30 and was eating at 7:30. Don’t let your potstickers cool…they are best warm, but that could be tough as you can only fry so many at one point. The dipping sauce should not be overlooked…I mistakenly pitched the extra green onion and the sauce wasn’t as good without it. Oh yeah…don’t chop while one is angry!!lol
FINISHED!!

April 3, 2006

Half baked

Posted in Baking, uuhh...not quite at 5:42 am by Jeff

So, I decided this weekend to dip my toe into the baking pool by trying out an Alton Brown recipe for Blueberry Muffins. I really haven't baked anything before beyond some chocolate chip cookies so I thought this looked relatively straightforward as I separated the dry from the wet goods

The DRY:

The Wet(note the sugar):

Alton recommends 'sifting' by putting the dry ingredients into the food processor. I did this as I whisked the wet ingredients together in a bowl.

Ready to combine:

Alton recommends not over stirring as I looked over at the mess I made in a relatively short amount of time.  I combined the wet/dry for long count of ten.

I have no idea how I make a mess so fast, but hey…I do a pretty good job cleanin' up after myself :D I greased up my pan, grabbed my trusty ice cream scoop and started dishin' out the batter.

Ready for the oven…

20 minutes later I checked the muffins with a toothpick and they were ready to come out. I tried dumping them out onto a tea towel to let them dry (per the instructions) when I realized they weren't coming out.Uggg…the tops of them were flat as well as I set them aside and tried to gently coax them out…results were mixed at best.

It seemed the blueberries settled on the bottom….not good times. Technically, they tasted pretty damn good but they just seemed to miss. Hey..it's a process, right? Can't get 'em all right on the first crack, eh?

Lessons Learned: I think I need an oven thermometer…though I followed the temperature instructions, but from my research online , it could've been too hot. Oh…also, I noticed that Steph had most cooly left out some liners for the muffins.  Unfortuately, I noticed this AFTER cooking!! lol  Not sure what else could've gone wrong…could be the recipe sucked *shrug* next time…I'm using my Moms! :D

Finished!!

March 31, 2006

Weekend plans…

Posted in Cooking at 6:55 am by Jeff

If there is one thing that I haven’t tried, it’s baking. I’ve heard that “If Cooking is an art, Baking is a science”. Well…I am somewhat of a nerd, so maybe baking will come easy? lol So, armed with my Alton Brown “I’m Just Here for More Food” book, I’m going to try and shoot for making some muffins. I’m debating between blueberry and chocolate as I love them both equally…and really hope I don’t botch it. So, I hope ya’ll getout and enjoy some of this weekend…Steph and I are headed up to the Decordova musem to hear Steve Almond read from his book “Candy Freak“, so…all in all, should be one sweet weekend!

March 29, 2006

ALL IN!

Posted in Cooking at 8:05 pm by Jeff

Yeah, once in a while I’ll be flippin’ around the channels and come across some poker tournament. The closest I’ve ever come to a casino poker game has been last Feb. when “Diamond” Dave and I lost a combined $260 playing Let It Ride in about an hour down at Mohegan Sun. That said, I do love it when some joker with a fun name like “Chris Moneymaker” throws in all of his chips…walks away from the table while the annoucers are screaming about how he went “All in”. As I sat at work on Tuesday, I was contemplating what I had in the fridge and how I could make it into a dinner….I had left over tomat’s, potates and Zuch from the previous night that’s I’d better do something with….I had some turkey sausage from the other week that I HAD to use. Hrm…could do a stir fry of some kind….oh wait…how about some sorta soup?!?!? Hadn’t made any soup beyond an onion…Maybe it’s time to go ALL IN!!

When thinking about a soup…I thought it might be nice to have some sorta ‘hot/sour’ soup, like you might get at a Chinese restaurant. After doing some research I realized that what I needed was chicken broth and rice wine vinegar. Well…neither was too big of a problem, but I substituted Apple Cider for rice vinegar as I figured I could use it later on in more applications…what I had before me resembled this:

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I also had the bright idea that I was going to not only use Chili/Garlic sauce, but also a couple of the serano chilies my pal Al gave me. “AH HA!” I thought…no way am I gonna process these without some gloves!! My eyes were thanking me as I donned some surgical gloves to cut up the chili as well as a small onion. The onion went into the cast iron dutch oven with some of the curry/ginger oil while some EVOO went in the cast iron skillet for the sausage:

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Yes, different wooden spoons for both to avoid cross contamination (can you hear Alton Brown talking through me). The onions became translucent as I added the potatoes thinking they’d take a while to get soft….after a bit…the zucchini went into the pot. At this point I deglazed the sausage with a bit of the chicken broth. In addition, it was now time to add the rest of the broth into the dutch oven and add some SPICES! The chili/garlic went in as well as the serano chili, vinegar and thyme. I brought the ‘soup’ up to a boil and dipped a spoon in to try as I kicked the heat back to a simmer. Ok, now the fact that I turned bright red and began coughing could’ve been a sign that the ‘soup’ was too hot, but whatever! I pressed on, eventually adding the sausage to the pot.

032906Fd
SMOKIN’!!

As I finished off the dish with some left over Gruyere and some cilantro, I wasn’t quite sure what I got myself into, but I was determined to give it a whirl. You know…it WAS damn hot, but not inedible…it was, a bit hotter than a ‘hot/sour’ soup, but it wasn’t terrible and who can argue how yummy sausage is(beyond vegetarians…I know)?

Lessons Learned: Less is more when adding spicay stuff! Gotta figure out how to mellow out heat better :) I think I’m looking forward to my class in making soups…I think I need it!! lol

FINISHED!!!

032906Fe

March 28, 2006

V for Vegetable!!

Posted in Cooking at 8:50 pm by Jeff

Bouch (Jenn) posted up this recipe last week that looked intriguing. I feel somewhat bad as I don’t cook vegetarian all the time, so I don’t get feedback from my most supportive audience (Steph). Thus, with knife in hand I began the process of slicin’ up some major vegetables.

032806Fa

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Onions, potatoes, tomatoes all got choppy chopped. I had caught the later train on Monday because of a meeting and the kitchen was still a mess from the night before (filet mignon project). I was really a nervous wreck as although the place was a mess, I wanted to get the food in the oven as it was going to take quite a bit of time to cook. I used some of the curry/ginger oil to saute up the onions which would act as the base for the dish. Eventually, it was time to put the whole shebang together. And per my rushing around…what dish did I need? Oh yeah…the same dish that needed to be washed from the night before. Typical for the nights work.

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Looks pretty, eh? It was even better looking when it was totally cooked with some cheese!! Oh man did that smell good when cooking :)

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Lessons Learned: Well, I’m not 100% sure I followed the recipe to the letter as I had lots of leftover veggies
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Also, I forgot to add the garlic…I don’t think it was missed as there was tons of flavor in the dish. I will say, the curry/ginger oil passed with FLYING COLORS!! Dang…was super yummy and added some nice depth to the dish. I probably would’ve made another little dish wish the leftovers, but at that point I was totally wasted.

FINISHED!!
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March 27, 2006

Ginger…my arch enemy

Posted in Cooking at 9:32 pm by Jeff

I’m at Shaws grocery store yesterday picking up some Jamacian curry powder for an infused Ginger/Curry oil courtesy of a Ming Tsai recipe when the woman bagging asked “Are you here buying for yourself or did someone send you?” For some reason I could feel myself turn scarlett red as I told her that indeed I was there for myself….I have no idea why I was embarassed I mean, who cares? Anyhoo…onwards…kickin’ it off we had our base ingredients

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I had no idea if I had bought enough ginger for the equivilant of half a cup of minced ginger. Ug! So, since I don’t have a microplane it was on to my friend the box grater…needless to say, I’ve never minced this much ginger before and although I fought the good fight…I think the ginger won:

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A quart of oil and my cast iron dutch oven awaited my newly minced ginger as I flipped on the stove to a nice medium.

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Once the ginger began to color, I took it of the heat and dumped a cup of the curry powder into a saute pan over medium heat. I whisked often as I’ve been told that curry can burn super fast. By dry roasting, it releases the essential oils. I went with some Jamacian curry as although Ming recommended Madras curry…I couldn’t find it! lol As soon as the curry powder began to smoke I added the ginger/oil and brought to a simmer

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Taking it off the heat I let it cool then put it in a Mason jar for storage in the fridge. I’m gonna try this out along with Jenn’s vegetarian dish and hopefully it should add an interesting dimension on the vegetables!

Lessons Learned: I might have turned down the heat a bit when toasting the curry powder. I was semi paranoid about burning the powder and it seemed to cook fairly fast. Ginger really gets super slick and I think I’m going to avoid using my box grater again for it….my knuckles and finger tips just can’t take it anymore.

FINISHED!!

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March 26, 2006

Steak…not just for black eyes anymore!

Posted in Cooking at 8:11 pm by Jeff

Last week Steph picked up a copy of Cooks Illustrated for me. I had never seen the mag before, but it had lots of fun articles and tips. One of them was a pepper encrusted Fillet Mignon that really caught my interest. I’ve cooked other pieces of meat before, but none that thick so I decided to give it a whirl on Sunday. Prep looked fairly easy as I started off by crushing some peppercorns and flipped on the Pogues (nothing like some Irish music while cookin’!)

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I used a cast iron skillet to bash the heck outta them…worked out fairly well then it was on to putting them in a pan with some oil to simmer for a bit. I never use to use a cast iron skillet before I met Stephanie, but now I find it great for everything from sauteing to smashin’ stuff!! lol Allegedly, this process mellows up the peppercorns bite, but who knows if it really would work

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Once that was done simmering, I let it cool to room temperature, added some salt then packed it on the meat. I had earlier cut up my fingers a bit grating some ginger for another project, and adding pepper to open wounds wasn’t 100% fun!! lol I had to wrap the now pepper encrusted tenderloin to rest for an hour so that it held onto the crushed pepper.

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Now that the meat had rested I pumped up the oven to 400 degrees and got the cast iron skillet nice and hot. I seared the meat per the instructions causing quite a bit of smoke…I didn’t know if this was because of the pepper crust or what…but it seemed a bit more smoky than usual. Our condo has 2 smoke detectors…however, since they are RIGHT next to the kitchen, the both go off if there is smoke. Needless to say, I planned ahead and took ‘em down prior to searing! ;) After searing it was into the oven for another 5 minutes then onto slotted cookie sheet to rest. While it was resting, I made an infused blue cheese butter. There was supposed to be chives, but I didn’t feel it was worth it for the extra $ as I don’t really love butter on my steak. I think the final plating says it all…looks pretty yummy, eh?

Some lessons learned….the Peppercorns did indeed mellow out after sauteing them…the steak was indeed really good, but it could’ve used another couple minutes in the oven. I don’t know why I had to put it on a cookie sheet instead of continuing to use the cast iron skillet. Blue cheese butter…pass…give me the straight up steak next time :) Oh..btw…my Mother in law thought my picture was too serious looking…so I took a new self portrait…like?

FINISHED!!

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March 23, 2006

Not so Sloppay Joe

Posted in Cooking at 5:22 pm by Jeff

So, there are times when all I want to do is sit at home and have something super easy to cook and as I sat at work on Wednesday afternoon I was thinking….hrm…burgers…but then I thought…maybe I should look up something more interesting on line. That said…I found Rachael Ray’s Sloppy Joe recipe. It looked interesting…but 1/4 cup of brown sugar plus tomato paste made me a bit wary of adding that much sugar. As I went to the store to buy the ingredients I had a couple brainstorms….#1. I would use a bit less sirloin and add(insert Iron Chef voice here)SWEET ITALIAN CHICKEN SAUSAGE and #2. I’m gonna kick up the heat on this recipe by adding a little:

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BAM!! Jalepeno and Chili Garlic sauce! I know…a little crazy as I began choppin’ away I thought this would be a good take on a traditional easy to cook dish. Eventually I got all the prep work done:

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Then proceeded to forget the first rule about working with hot peppers….DON’T RUB YOUR EYES after handling them. YEOWCHAS! Not good times as I began to saute the meats…eventually adding just a splash of brown sugar and some of Emeril’s Southwest Seasoning. Eventually, I stirred in the peppers and onions. I went with red onions instead of yellow as they seem to retain their flavor a bit more than yellow. About this time, Steph came home as I discussed what I was cooking “Maybe you should add in less than what you think of for the tomato sauce” I was already wary of using the tomato paste along with the tomato sauce….so I used a bit less of the tomato sauce and pitched the paste (actually…put it away for later use) and let it simmer.
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After simmer for a bit…it reduced down the sauce…maybe not as thick as I would’ve liked…but that was ok. The final plating included putting it over a whole wheat pita (a roll would’ve been best…but it’s SO much damn bread! lol) and some shavings of gruyere cheese. Yum…it was sweet while at the same time a bit spicy…a good upgrade for a dish I’ve probably only had a couple times in my life and may just make again…though I might thicken the sauce a bit more :)

FINISHED!!
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March 21, 2006

Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sautee it…

Posted in Cooking at 8:42 pm by Jeff

So, I’m sitting at work on Monday thinking to myself “what would be something different that we haven’t had in a while in the Galvani/Gonski household”. Then I thought…how ’bout some SHRIMP! Haven’t had shrimp in a dogs age and I haven’t really cooked it that much. It was a chilly day so I knew that I could stop at the store and leave said shrimp in the car while I went to the gym. Only issue is that STAAAH (Star) Maaaaket(Market)’s fish department should be condemned. Thus, I decided that frozen shrimp was the way to go….besides…most shrimp is frozen anyhoo. Points for anyone who can identify my title quote.

I went to the store, bought my stuff and hit the gym. I came home, and (after washing hands) I started some Trader Joe’s Brown Basmati rice (which takes 40 minutes to cook) and defrosting the shrimp. Now…I’ve normally defrosted the shrimp just in some sorta colander, but I read somewhere that ‘washes away flavor’ and to put in a ziplock which is just what I did:

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I hopped in the shower and was super excited when I came out because I got to wear my new monkay boxers…if seeing me in monkay boxers (under shorts) and my Alton Brown Apron isn’t the sexiest thing you’ve ever seen I don’t know what is ;)

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I’m cooking another Bobby Flay recipe. Gulf Shrimp with Green Chili Slices. It seemed a bit different than just garlic and butter which is why I wanted to try something different. Here’s everything before prep.

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Note the Santoku blade..I love it…makes for quick choppy choppy :) After getting everything chopped I peeled the shrimp (easy because they were deveined already). The bag/defrost worked fairly well for those keeping score at home. I got the pan smokin’ hot then added the oil…I’ve never seared shrimp…and with the high degree of water they spurted oil all over the place! lol, However, I was able to get them seared very nice then I removed them to a separate dish:
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How nice are those? I threw in the peppers and softened them up, adding garlic after a little bit. I didn’t have the time/desire to make my own shrimp stock so I substituted light chicken broth, making sure I got up all the shrimp bits from the bottom of the pan and brought the whole shebang to a boil:

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Reduced the liquid by (about) half then I stirred in fresh Cilantro and some butter (after removing from the heat) Man, it was good eats…just for ya’ll at home, I thought I’d make a nice presentation just for you…I hope you like, next time I’ll try not to have the basil oil run!hehe

Finished!
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March 19, 2006

Dang it Napoleon go make yourself a Quesa-dilla

Posted in Cooking at 10:37 am by Jeff

So, this weekend I decided I was gonna make Bobby Flay’s Camembert-Caramelized Onion Quesadilla with Apple Chutney. It looked pretty good on TV the other day and I was curious to try and make it because…#1. It involved apples in a savory application #2. I’ve never had Camembert cheese and #3. It involved carmelizing onions which I hadn’t really done well.

Starting out with our vegetables it seemed like a good idea to begin with the yellow sweet onions since they’d need about 45 minutes to cook. My friend Priya told me once that the way to avoid teary eyes (which I was getting) was to peel them under running water. Onions chopped, into a pan of butter and EVOO they went.

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Then we were on to chopping up the base ingredients for the apple chutney

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I remarkably made it through the prep process with no cut fingers! This was a milestone for me, as last week I had chopped my thumb pretty good with the peeler…now I’ve cut myself before with the knives but man…the peeler hurts like a SOB!! I don’t own a microplaner for the ginger, so I used an Alton Brown recommendation and wrapped my grater in plastic wrap and it worked pretty damn well!

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As the onions were happily carmelizing away I started in on cooking the vegetables and apples for the chutney.

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The onions and vegetables/apples cooked down to a soft consistency as I got out the cheese and cut off the rind. Soft like a brie, it was tough cutting off the rind as it quickly turned the consistency of butter. Ug! I laid out the torilla’s and evenly (as much as I could) distributed the carmelized onions and cheese. I started warming up the grill pan (as that’s what we do out here in the ‘burbs with no real grill). I made little three tiered quesadillas while removing the chutney to a bowl for cooling

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Grilling the three Quesadillas was an education on how long to leave them on the grill for. Steph seemed to like them more crispy..and I had to agree. The cheese was very melty…a bit too much at times.

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Finishing the dish off Steph made some guacamole (which ROCKED!) and we had some corn chips. We both really liked the dish, but agreed that the cheese probably could’ve been different…it was a bit too melty. Maybe next time…..a havarti would be substituted. The chutney was great…a little spicy a little sweet. Steph completed the dish with a Corona which I would recommend for anyone having this. All in all…it probably would be pretty good dish for a partay if you wanna try something different. I also would recommend going with flour tortillas as although whole wheat is good…nothing beats old school white flour for taste :)

Finished!

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March 17, 2006

Adventures in Searing

Posted in Cooking at 8:59 am by Jeff

I watch a lot of shows on the food network. I seem to be streaky with whom I like watching as I seem to learn a lot from each individual chef. Lately, I’ve been watching quite a bit of Bobby Flay and I decided that I was gonna learn how to cook chicken and steak in a new way. Now, I don’t have a grill, but I do have a cast iron skillet…Normally, cooking chicken ends up being more like stir fry rather than searing. Thus last week I bought a pound of chicken breasts and was determined to figure this out.

Night one…..tried to make my own marinade with all sorts of crazy ingredients…not enough oil in the marinade and ended up creating a ton of jalapeno infused smoke that sent Steph’s eyes watering and me coughing

Night two…only seasoned the chicken breast with salt/pepper and put oil (EVOO) in the pan directly…turning down the heat. Both sides seared fairly well and I finished in the oven. I would rate this as a sucess!

Night three….similar to night two except that I created a sauce using dried Ancho chilies. As I took the chicken out of the oven after searing…it felt a bit too squishy. Cutting into it confirmed….it wasn’t cooked enough…should’ve left it in for a while longer. Sauce turned out to be great…like an earthy tomato sauce.

Night 4 STEAK! Using the lessons I learned with the chicken I got a couple NY strip steaks and a French recipe for a shallot/wine sauce. I got the pan SUPER hot, liberally brushed on EVOO on S/P seasoned steak and let ‘er rip! It worked perfectly :D I was even able to put together a nice sauce that included a reduced French Bordeaux, Shallots and some beef broth that went on top…all in all…not a bad experience taking Steak from concept to sauce :D

March 16, 2006

First Post

Posted in Cooking at 11:19 am by Jeff

So…I’ve been digging cooking lately. I’ve always been fascinated with watching TV shows about cooking and now with a DVR I’m able to watch many more cooking shows at warp speed! That said, I’ve never really been into cooking too much beyond makin’ Chili with mi madre around football season. Lately, that has all changed….I’ve been experimenting more with cooking and armed with some super sharp knives, a sodium distribution device and an $80 pepper mill…I’m cooking quite a bit. That’s what this blog will be about….my adventures in cooking, what works, what doesn’t and how many damn ways I can slice my fingers. As I love photography…I’ll be taking pictures of what I cook (good, bad or otherwise) and links to the recipies if I find them online. As always…suggestions, complaints and flames are welcome! Hope you check in often.

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