Saturday, February 26, 2011

French Food At Home

I've been watching a new cooking show lately - French Food at Home with Laura Calder. Really fun soundtrack - a jazzy background with what could be French vocalizing or it could just be someone scatting gently. Her kitchen is so homey - big windows with rustic panes, bright blue tile for her back counter top, a big farmhouse sink, and with all these rustic touches, she has juxtaposed state of the art appliances and a contemporary kitchen island. I know - it sounds awful, but somehow it really works!

Laura is a unique host as well - her show is from Canada, and perhaps there food hosts don't feel the need to over sell each dish - she is very low key. The food she makes looks simple, and you are encouraged to try things you never have before. No "watch out for this" or "if you don't do this, xyz will happen", and there is an assumption you know cooking terms like "bain marie". Frankly I find her so refreshing!

I'm looking forward to trying this recipe very soon - Easy Pastry Shop Apple Tart.

If you like food TV - you can find Laura Calder on Cooking Channel :) Enjoy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Suzee's Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Last Monday was President's day - I woke up late and lazy - isn't that what holidays are for??

Fresh Direct had broccoli on sale - 1 bunch for $1.99 and 2 bunches for $3. And it was time to do something with it! I love broccoli cheese soup, and lately I've been avoiding prepared soups as they have WAY too much salt for me. I've been looking forward to this soup for a while :)

I took all the broccoli, and peeled the stems (peel them well to get down to the soft inner core), and chopped them up. I added them to a dutch oven.

I had 2 quart containers of homemade chicken stock (read - no salt at all), and I added that frozen, along with one can of fat free low salt chicken broth, and cooked the broccoli very very well done.

Of course the frozen stock melted and I took a stick blender to all that broccoli. It took a little time, but I managed to get all those pieces blended up :)

I added a t onion poweder, 1 t garlic powder, 2 t sea salt and 1 t of fresh ground pepper. I also added a cup of shredded cheddar, and mixed it all up.

I served it in mugs with a dollop of low fat sour cream - and it was delicious!!

Looking back, I think I would serve the cheese as a garnish rather than stirring it in - one cup compared to all that broccoli and stock meant you couldn't taste it as clearly as you'd like. I don't want to add more, I want to taste more :)

Let me know how it goes for you! Enjoy!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Leftovers are my favorite!

I love leftovers. I think they are the key to getting a meal on the table during the week. Not having to prepare more than one special dish, or sometimes anything at all feels pretty good after walking back from the train.

Brunch is a traditional time to use leftovers. Rick loves steak and eggs, and I love potatoes. So this morning we had a nice holiday treat!

I thinly sliced left over baby red potatoes, and sauteed them in a nonstick pan with a little butter.

When they were done, I added some thinly sliced steak to the pan. I had undercooked this steak for planned leftovers, so the heating didn't over cook this NY strip. That would have been a sin!

After the steak was heated, I added eggs to the pan with a scosh more butter. This is one time where Rick and I agree - over easy is the way to go!

Sprinkle it all with a bit of sea salt, and it's perfect. For some reason Rick feels the need to add ketchup, but that is his plate.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Suzee's Roasted Asparagus

These lovely roasted spears are enhanced by a sprinkling of sharp cheddar cheese. My friend Suzanne used to roast asparagus in a little oil with freshly grated parmesan cheese grated over the tips. She has many wonderful dishes, and if you get the opportunity to partake in a dinner she has made, don't miss it!

I make her version frequently, but decided the other day to shake it up a bit and see how this might taste.

Wash and snap the ends off a bunch of asparagus, and roll them in some olive oil. Lay them in a sheet pan in a single layer, and roast for 15 minutes or so at 350. Pull them from the oven, and add shredded sharp cheddar cheese to cover the tips. Continue roasting for another 15 minutes. Delicious! The cheddar is surprisingly a more flavorful cheese in this preparation - perhaps because the shreds are larger, so more cheese is used overall. Whatever the reason, it is a heartier flavor, and quite tasty. I think Suzanne would approve.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Suzee's White Bean Puree

I was reading facebook entries, and since I "like" Food and Wine, I saw the entry about "What's for dinner tonight" referencing baked chicken, roasted brussel sprouts and white bean puree. It reminds me of my own 30 minute meal entry, as I cook the meat and veg this way frequently. So what I honed in on was the white bean puree.

I recently started cooking with cannellini beans. They are smooth, and delicate, and delicious. What drew me into this recipe as well was the use of dried rosemary. Every time I use dried rosemary, I'm never pleased. The flavor is flat, the needles are hard, and I find it interrupts my enjoyment of whatever I'm making. So, you think, why would you want to make this recipe? The method used to freshen the rosemary - you simmer the needles in olive oil for 3 minutes prior to mixing into the beans. Hmmm...maybe that could work.


That doesn't mean this recipe is a failure. Just that I'd recommend minced fresh rosemary instead. Rick really liked it, and it is really nice hot, warm or room temp, so a great appetizer or snick snack with raw or roasted veggies, or crackers.

Here is my version:

1 T fresh minced rosemary
1 T fresh minced thyme
4 or 5 fat garlic cloves, minced
2T olive oil

In a saucepan on low heat, combine  these ingredients, and let simmer for 5 minutes.

2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 C white wine
1/2 C water
1/4 t salt
1/4 t freshly ground pepper

Add these ingredients to the saucepan, and start mashing with a potato masher to create a smooth combined dip. If your beans are resistant, feel free to pull out your food processor or mini food chopper to make your puree. Also a stick blender would work.

Once the mixture is hot, and smooth, move to a serving dish, and pour a tablespoon or so of the most flavorful finishing olive oil you own. It is quite amazing how the fruitiest of olive oils makes such a difference in this dish.

I had some long thin organic carrots I roasted peeled but whole, and they were just fabulous dippers for this nutritious dish. I recommend trying the roasted carrots as your dipper  - they too are great hot, warm or room temp, so it would be a great finger food dish to serve with cocktails.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Romantic Days

Man of my dreams

Love shared, love created

A new chance

A family joined

Seven years ago

A realization

Thoughts and dreams

A life of possibilities

Preparations and travel

Lent is an issue?

Quick and dirty

Time to start a family

Friends come together

A party of joy

White dress and tux

Swish and dancing

Life shared, life anew

Grand happiness, deep sorrow

Shared emotion, and quiet comtemplation

What next?
Love alive.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

SD26 at Madison Sq Park

Monday night we took advantage of Restaurant week at SD26. It has a contemporary decor, with a fun looking cocktail lounge as you enter. Walking past the bar, the dining room opens up with a cathedral ceiling, and open kitchens. There is actually a salumi and artisan cheese station as well - I think if I find myself here again, I may have to take advantage of that!

When we sat, we ordered cocktails from the specialty menu. Our server had an iPad which showed the cocktails and wines. It was a novelty, and perhaps they do have a direct link to inventory, but really kind of kludgy in practice.
I ordered the SD26 Negroni cocktail - a vodka martini with Aperol (what is that??) cucumber and lemon. Well - you know how I love me a good cucumber martini :) The first sip was acidic, sour and cucumbery, which I didn't care for. The second sip, the flavors seemed to meld together nicely. It was an enjoyable cocktail, garnished with a lemon slice attached to a cucumber slice with a toothpick - the 2 wheels looked like a double button as the toothpick threaded the wheels. Rick ordered La Verita, a rye whiskey with maple syrup, bitters and black pepper. It was fabulous! Garnished with a lemon wheel, it had a light fragrance, and a smooth finish.
When we sat at our 2 top table in the middle of the room, long home made grissini were laid in a silver basket. They were at least 18" long, and delicious! Nice breads were served, including a fresh focaccia, and a light poufy roll. This beautiful bottle of olive oil was seriously the best olive oil I've ever tasted. Beyond fruity, beyond peppery...I hope sometime I find a bottle of this lovely stuff to take home!

My appetizer was the Uovo Raviolo with truffle butter. As I sliced into the beautiful pillow of pasta, the lovely yolk ran, and the warm cheese oozed...Happy sigh! So delicious!

Rick ordered the spinach and pear salad. It was light and fresh, just what he was looking for.
My entree was the guinea hen - it is boneless, with a rich sauce including chestnuts and the poultry rested on a bed of julienned brussel sprouts. It was savory, tender and very filling! I took home about half for later.
Rick ordered the beef cheeks for dinner, and I did get a taste! Rich, thick sauce derived from the borolo broth, tender beef - it just melted in my mouth. Divine!
For dessert, I had the tiramisu - it was the classic, and very tasty. Rick had the panacotta, and it was light, fresh, and a wonderful ending to the meal.
Overall, SD26 has fabulous food. The flavors are fantastic, preparation perfect, and service efficient. The only thing that would keep me away from SD26 is the loud atmosphere. With the hard contemporary decor, there is nothing to prevent you from having your thoughts interrupted by the conversation a few tables away. Well, and the tables right next to you as well. There were lots of business deals "going down" and after work cocktails and dinner while debriefing the day. I am glad we got a chance to try the excellent cuisine, but I'm not sure we'll be back.