Sunday, January 31, 2010

Food Philosophy

I must share my latest (non sexual :) ) foodie crush... I am enamoured by the smart, interesting and fascinatingly foodie content of Food Philosophy and its mastermind, Jennifer Iannolo. This is one sharp foodie.

Food. Sensuality. Sass. These are the three words that greet you when you first land on the website. Three words that say so much about what I imagine to be her food philosophy. A philosophy that I am happy to subscribe to...

There are pages upon pages of articles on food related topics such as Exercising your Mental Mouth, which discusses both your "inner chef" and the notion of food memories. What about Rosemary-Scented Hair? And let's not forget about her event, Sex on a Plate... yeah, I wish I could teleport to New York for this.

Gawd... I hope I don't sound like a crazy!! It's just foodie-awesomeness that makes me smile and want to cook and create even more...

Exotic rice pudding

All I wanted after this past wintery weekend in Banff was some sort of subtly sweet and warm... After lazing on the couch for a few minutes, I couldn't wait a moment longer and had to get back into my kitchen. Oh... how I missed it this weekend!

I have been thinking about making rice pudding for weeks now... and figured that this was the perfect time to check that off of the foodie to do list!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another beauty... and Creamy Dreamy Goodness

I get completely wrapped up in the story telling way of Deb, the creator of A Smitten Kitchen... this blog/website is a tremendous resource that strips away the pretense of cooking and marks successes and failures with equal flair. Her style of writing seems to transplant you into the circumstance in which she created or adapted a given dish... I am unfailingly drawn into her world. So, with that, I welcome you to add to your blog roll, the wonderful works of A Smitten Kitchen.

Courtesy of A Smitten Kitchen and America's Test Kitchen Cookbook, my mom made these Dreamy Cream Scones for Christmas... though, my mom's take on the title is Creamy Dreamy Scones.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hot hot chocolate

Now, I had a bit of chocolate left from the breakfast bar dipping and was not so interested in the scraping and mess of cleaning it out... so I opted to make a mug of hot chocolate! I was thinking of a mole sauce as I chose the spices to accompany the chocolate... but you can really add what you would like.

Ingredients (if starting from scratch):
- 40g (1/4 cup) chocolate (I prefer dark chocolate.)
- 250 mL (1 cup) milk
- Salt
- Cinnamon
- Chili powder

Melt the chocolate. Whisk in 250 mL of milk. Bring to a low boil. Sprinkle with cinnamon, a dash of chili powder and a dash of cinnamon. Stir and enjoy.

Breakfast in a bar..

True to form and most cooks, I cannot seem to make it through a single attempt at a recipe without adapting it to my own particular taste and style. Add this, remove that... bake longer, cool less. Whatever it may be, it seems to be what makes cooking more enjoyable.

The original breakfast bars recipe came courtesy of Nigella Lawson and her cookbook, Nigella Express. She didn't underestimate the allure of these bars when she confessed that not only she, but everyone she has given them to, has become happily addicted to them.

Enjoyment aside, these bars have been a lifesaver. I made them before a week-long business trip and saved myself many a miserable breakfast search. And I've saved myself from a coffee shop turnover by keeping a container of these bars in my office at work. Have I sold you yet??

Smoky Mac and Cheese

All I could think about when I woke up to several inches of snow this morning was that I needed some sort of warm, oozily fantastic comfort food... and what better to scratch that itch than to make mac and cheese.

Mac and cheese is the best way to use up whatever cheese remnants you have migrating around your fridge. I never seem to have much of any one kind of cheese, so aside from the roux, each batch of mac and cheese seems to be a completely new invention.

After reading a few different mac and cheese recipes on Epicurious and scouting out the contents of my fridge, I decided today's mac and cheese was to be "smoky." I had about half a round of Applewood Smoked Cheddar, a few pieces of Applewood Smoked Bacon (leftover from sandwiches earlier this week) and some chipotle peppers left from my last batch of Chipotle Caramel Corn. Hence... smoky.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Yam Fries..

Typically, after the week at work, I will feel one of two ways about cooking dinner that night.. Either I need something that can go from fridge to table in the shortest time possible... or, I need to lose myself in the prepping and stirring and anticipation of a carefully prepared meal.

This Friday was the former... I did not want to labour in the kitchen but, rather, wanted something quick and easy. So, I opted to marry the sticky mustard chicken with yam fries... something simple and snackable but not labour intensive.

You can adjust the proportions depending on how many you need to feed... or how hungry you feel.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Forget Wing Wednesday... I'm going for Thigh Thursday!

Chicken thighs are probably my favourite piece of chicken to cook with, if I'm not cooking a whole chicken. Bone in, skin optional. Chicken thighs, in my opinion, do not fall into that boring, bland, "I don't know what else to cook, so I'll cook chicken" category.

I used Donal Skehan's sticky mustard drumsticks as the base for dinner tonight.

As I write this, the house is filling with a sweet and spicy aroma of marmalade and mustard... my mouth is watering. My mom made a lovely marmalade for each of us for Christmas this year, so I used that in this recipe. (Maybe she'll let me add that recipe to these pages...)

Thoughts for next time:
- I think I would marinate the chicken in advance. The chicken was good but I definitely think that some extra chill time with the mustard and marmalade couldn't hurt.
- I may try a batch with the skin on... though I don't think that anything was lacking in its lack.

I can't wait to try these tomorrow... cold with a salad.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bacon, Avocado and Sundried Tomato... Salad

Shockingly, I had actually finished an entire loaf of bread (that only happens about once every two months) and had yet to replace it before my next craving for the Bacon, Avocado and Sundried Tomato Sandwich..

So, I had to get a bit more creative than adding cheese or something to the normal sandwich and what I came up with was a salad version of the same sandwich. (Don't worry... I'm certainly not turning into a virtuous salad-eating foodie, as this salad can really not be considered a healthy option.)

I mixed together the key sandwich components (bacon (chopped), avocado (also chopped) and sundried tomatoes) with lettuce and some leftover cooked prawns. For dressing, I drizzled olive oil and lemon juice over everything.

Definitely satisfied the craving.

Love this blog... and the sandwich that is a mainstay.

The Good Mood Food Blog is the brainchild of Donal Skehan... a guy who took his love of food and photography to the web... and, as of October, to print.

I'm still working my way through the recipes, finding it a real challenge to choose what to make from the mouthwatering photos laid out in front of me.

I have, however, several times made a version of Donal's Bacon, Avocado and Sunblushed Tomato Sandwich, which I first discovered courtesy of a friend. I love this sandwich because it seems that I always have the components on hand and, because of that, I am saved from eating microwave popcorn over the kitchen sink when I am feeling supremely lazy.

Use as much or as little of each ingredient as your tastes direct...

I typically walk in the door, turn on the oven and pop a few pieces on bacon on a sheet. While that bakes away, and after I've gone through my just-arrived-home routine, I'll slice an avocado and toast the bread. Onto the warm bread, I will slather on as many sundried tomatoes as I can fit. Top with the bacon, then the slices of avocado, then the second slice of bread.

You can easily give this sandwich a new twist with different cheeses, breads or other fresh ingredients.

This is about the time I will put on a movie, cozy into the couch and dig in...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Benny with a Buddy

January is the time of year when everyone seems to be either money or waistline conscious... or a combination thereof.

In my opinion, there is very little bad about eggs benedict. English muffins are not bad as far as carbohydrates go. There is a whole string of commercials espousing the benefits of Eggs (yes, with a capital E). You do have bacon and butter in the hollandaise... but you can find many a nutritionist that will tell you that it is important to have fat in your diet as well. Sure, they aren't waiving the flag for saturated fats but, sometimes, that is the only way to go.

At the end of the day, or meal, eggs benedict are a bit of a caloric splurge but seems somewhat more justifiable when said splurge did not come along with a $40 bill for the pair of you.
Yep, I can justify just about anything...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Newest Addition to the Shelf

Aside from the position of honour on the stove for the Le Creuset (I'm thinking that I need to rename the casserole), there are equally honourable positions on the shelves that house my cookbooks.. Top shelf, middle or bottom...

The top houses my family recipe book, given to the three girls on Christmas one year, as well as a compilation of my own Foodies recipes put together by my sister for another Christmas. I also have my cooking notebook and some coloured pens here.

The bottom is where the lesser used but still appreciated books dwell. With very little intention, it seems that this is where the sweets and treats books ended up - Anna Olson's Sugar and the sequel, Martha's Cupcakes, etc.

The middle is the home for my most favourite of the published book variety. My collection of Nigella Lawson's cookbooks, Jamie Oliver books (including the incredibly beautiful Italy), as well as Anthony Bourdain and Frances Mayes culinary journeys. Here I have added to the ranks a very authentic and traditional tome on Italian cooking.

La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy

Click on the title for a review... and if you're brave, you may want to consider adding it to your own collection.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Chocolate Gingerbread

It is no secret that, in terms of chefs, I am completely in awe of Nigella Lawson. She is quite striking herself and makes no bones about her love affair with food, which I quite enjoy. Her food is comforting and delicious and she treats it all with a slight dash of eccentricity.

Now, I haven't made a cake or anything along those lines in quite some time... and, after making this cake, I know why... you could easily stand over the kitchen sink in a very Miranda Hobbes versus the chocolate cake battle, eating slice after slice, completely forgoing the plate and even the fork.

Here is Nigella's Chocolate Gingerbread... courtesy of her cookbook, Feast. It is wonderfully complex with the ginger warmth and chocolate sweet.

I reduced the amount of chocolate chips and used the mini ones. A) Because it was all that I had but B) that, for me, was the perfect amount of chocolate. I also reduced the cooking time by 5 minutes... I think the cake would have been dry otherwise, so keep an eye on it around the 40 minute mark.

One substitution... I did not have any ginger ale and wasn't braving the cold for a mere 60 mLs, so I used 60 mLs of sparkling water with a scant 1/2 tsp of powdered ginger dissolved into it. Seemed to work just fine!

Other than that, the recipe uses a frightening amount of sugar, so just forget that and enjoy the treat, remembering that you don't do this that often... ;)

Going for the gusto... Boeuf Bourguignon

Well, after starting off with an homage to family with the first Le Creuset endeavour, it only made sense to go big or go home with the next outing.

I have made Beef Bourguignon before but never nearly as faithfully as this attempt with Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her Boeuf Bourguignon.

The recipe is linked but I did make a few minor adjustments... I didn't boil the bacon rind. I just used a few strips of regular bacon. It was all that I could find. And, unfortunately, I had to omit the onions at the end, as I could not find any small onions at any of the markets, given the weather. I did make the buttered mushrooms though, which was a tremendous addition.

For the wine, I used a reasonably priced 2006 Georges Duboeuf Cotes du Rhone.

The result, after three hours of simmering in the oven, the straining and plating of the meal, was wonderful. It was probably the best boeuf bourguignon that I have ever made. I'm excited to eat it again today, as it only becomes better as it sits and the flavours continue to mingle.
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