Wednesday, October 28, 2009

DHS' Flaxseed Crusted Mushrooms

One of my very dear friends/colleagues invited me to try the flaxseed crusted mushrooms she had made last night and packed in her lunch today.

And I gladly accepted. I waited until her class started their in-class writing, and I went on down to taste these little goodies.

I'm running out to buy flaxseed today. On my lunch break.

All DHS did was dress some exotic mushrooms in olive oil, sprinkle crushed flaxseed over them and bake them. Who knew incredibly healthy veggies were so very tasty? And her olive oil and garlic green beans were just as crack-a-lious.

Thanks, DHS, for sharing your lunch with me. I do have to admit, though, I had a moment of "You know you're addicted to food when..." I walked in your class to eat your lunch.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Simple Little Dinner I'm Quite Proud Of

I don't just get comfort from "comfort food." All food comforts me. Cooking comforts me. And I embrace that, especially on days I can't (for more reasons than one) articulate the exact reasons why I'm sick and tired, achy, bitchy, pissy, whiney, exhausted, done-with-it-all, etc., etc.

Today was one of those days I came home from work and just needed to decompress with a counter-shark lab at my feet, a glass of wine (the best $6.99 wine I've ever had in my life!), some stellar recipes, and my LeCreuset.

Suddenly, all became right my own silent little-world-bubble.

Tonight I made Lamb Chops with Yogurt Sauce (Everyday Food), Lemony Shredded Brussels Spouts (Everyday Food), and Baked Carrots and Parsnips (Jamie Oliver--At this point can I cook a meal without using one of Jamie's recipes???).

I was quite pleased with how everything turned out. (Even though I wish the picture showed the true colors a bit better...)

This completely local-foods meal took me 40 minutes to prep and cook. That's rad. And I didn't use a different skillet for the brussels sprouts. While the chops were resting I cooked up my precious little cabbage heads in the same skillet I seared the lamb in so they took on a little more flavor. And lemon. Thank God for lemon. It pulled this whole meal together. And mint. The yogurt sauce calls for cilantro, but I couldn't bring myself to by that plastic-container-crap from the grocery store. So I used our crazy-ass mint (from our organic gardener) that won't die no matter what. And it was awesome! I also used a red candy onion (from the same organic farmer) rather than a shallot, and it was perfect too. All the flavor in the sauce brought out the lamb's flavor. --I'm thinking next year I going to buy a lamb--

Writing this post kinda makes me want to eat it all over again. Right now.

Luckily, I've learned to control myself through Weight Watchers...

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Weekend of Cooking, Eating, and Grading

This weekend almost all of my dreams came true.

My all-time favorite poet joined FD and I for brunch at our house. We had bacon, goose, radishes, tomato salad, kale chips, and roasted potatoes. Everything we ate came from Ohio. It was a fantastic little meal, but what made it so fantastic was sharing it with Rachel Zucker. (Thanks, Rachel! I hope we can share another meal together soon!) My only regret: I didn't take any pictures.

[After brunch and before dinner I graded essays.]

For dinner that night, we invited friends over for homemade pizzas: one game pizza and one
pepperoni-onion-mushroom pizza. I served a side salad of bibb lettuce, radishes (clearly, I'm addicted to them), and red onion with the Everyday Food garlic and herb vinaigrette. Again,
great company. My only regret: I didn't take any pictures.

[After dinner I tried grading essays, but that was a futile cause.]

For lunch the next day, my foodie friend Lenz made me Chicken Liver Pate with wine soaked figs, as she promised. I was happy. And I finally remembered to take pictures.

What I loved about the pate was whatever condiment/garnish we added changed the flavor. On its own, the pate was rich, salty, and metallic-y (in a good way). Paired with a radish, the pate took on some heat and the pepperiness of the dish came alive. With yellow mustard, the sweetness moved to the forefront. With a fig, the earthy, gaminess came alive. I loved every bite. And if we hadn't decided to have a 3-course lunch, I would have eaten half the mold pictured above.

Our second course was artichokes with white wine reduction, butter, and Canal Junction's Burr Oak cheese dipping sauce. Lenz boiled the artichokes in salted water for about 45 minutes. In the meantime she made the sauce. We sat down to a feast of leaves and hearts. I was impatient for the third course, so quite frankly, all the peeling wasn't worth it to me. Lenz helped me get the heart, and after that I waited for the main course of game and polenta--my new food addiction.

As a token of appreciation, I'll let Lenz post her own polenta recipe. It's one I'm going to use again and again. As she says, polenta is the grown-up version of Mac 'n' Cheese. I adore it. And this course's was no exception. My only regret was that we didn't bake it right away after serving it. It got hard. I attempted reheating it on the stove later that day with more water and bouillon cubes. It just wasn't the same. Next time I'm baking it right away. Definitely.

Confession: Lenz and I cooked and ate from 11-3. That's food dedication.

[I graded later in the evening--after my wine buzz wore off...]

[The next morning and afternoon I graded like a fiend.]

Sunday was our dear friend Babs' birthday, and I wanted to give her something special. Of course, that gift would be a meal. But not just any meal. A Jamie Oliver meal. If I can't give her the man, I can, at least, give her his food.

For our first course, I served a simple garden salad with mushrooms, radishes, and red onion. Then for dinner I made her the Steak, Guinness and Cheese Pie with Puff Pastry Lid with a side of peas with the artichokes' wine, butter, and cheese dipping sauce. I was quite proud of how
everything turned out. (Though, I'm not sure why my pie filling was lighter and less liquidy than Jamie's...I will need to explore this more...) The taste, though, was spot on. It was the perfect birthday/comfort food I could have made for Babs' October birthday, and I think she was quite happy. My only regret: Babs made her own dessert because I suck at baking. And her cream cheese pound cake with pomegranate and cranberry sauce was a perfect ending to a spectacular meal.

[After dinner I could not grade. I was too full. But I finished this morning. Go, me!]

All in all, this was the best weekend I've ever had with grading.

Food does make everything better.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Happy Halloween: A Table Setting

I scored the table runner and spider web basket at Crate and Barrel after last Halloween. They were on wicked sale.

I adore how they look with our Crate and Barrel dining set.

(Yes, if you didn't know, I am a label whore, even when it comes to my holiday decorating.)

I just wish now that I had bought the matching place-mats and fabric napkins...

Here's to a Happy Halloween season and the good treats that come with it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Must-Have iPhone/iTouch App for Home Cooks

My dream has (almost) come true.

On my iPhone, not only can I watch Twilight as much as I want, but also I can now watch Jamie Oliver as much as I want.

Ah, the simple joys in life.

For $7.99, you too can download Jamie Oliver's 20 Minute Meals.

That seems pricey, doesn't it? I don't normally buy apps that aren't labeled as free. But this one is well worth the cash.

Not only does Jamie provide recipes, 50 of which are new--meaning, not found in his cookbooks or website--but also he has included an overview of each recipe, the shopping list for each recipe (which you can use to create your interactive grocery list, complete with being able to mark off the items in your cart), a photo step-by-step breakdown of the recipe (many of which include audio tips from Jamie), AND helpful hint videos on topics such as knife skills and pestle and mortar skills.

What's so fantastic about Jamie is, he isn't belittling or cocky in his how-to videos. He's just a dude who wants to help you enjoy cooking efficiently and intelligently. *Sigh*

I bought the app yesterday and already have next week's meals planned with my shopping list created! And I've watched almost every hour and half's worth of videos, which I found entertaining and informative. The app is simple, easy-to-use, and visually appealing.

Additionally, I get the impression from the app's description and Jamie's videos, too, that the app will be updated with new recipes and videos periodically. Cool?

Now, Michael Symon needs to create an app, and all my iPhone fantasies will be fulfilled.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kale: The Answer for Restlessness

I hate being sick. Mostly because I hate feeling helpless and tired. I'm a high energy person.

This week I was t-boned by some strange virus that should be labeled as the flu.

Awaking from a 6-hour nap yesterday, I heard Kale calling my name. I answered. Mostly because all this sleeping is making me feel restless, useless, and frustrated.

In a cold-like, zombie-like trance I roasted up some kale chips using a recipe (and kale) from Prose and Potatoes (and her garden!)

They are delicious. It's nice to know even when I'm sick I can still cook fairly well. That made made me feel a little bit better.

If you aren't a fan of kale, definitely try this recipe. It's the bomb!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Fall Evening Dinner--Outside

My new obsession: pork.

I want to know about all about it, and I want to eat it all the time.

My consistent obsession: Jamie Oliver.

After the stellar success of Jamie Oliver's pork shoulder recipe, I thought I would be able to trust him for some ground pork recipes. Of course, my English love didn't let me down.

Tonight we tried Jamie O's Green Chilli. Imagine the love child of a fresh, full-of-chilies chilli and the most amazing taco meat you've ever eaten. That's Jamie's recipe.

I didn't use all green peppers and chilis, which the recipe calls for, though. I need color, but everything else was spot on. I adored this recipe, yet I would make a few changes in the future. First, I would add WAY LESS water. He calls for 1/2 a cup. I would add a 1/4 and then see if it needs more. If so, I would add a tablespoon at a time. I had gotten my ground pork and ground venison (how I love when those Brits call it minced meat!) all dry, but when I added the 1/2 cup of water, it made the mixture wet again. Also, I would add one very hot chili pepper. We had some "medium hot" chili peppers, but those weren't hot enough for me. I needed more heat, which I think would have made the dish more edgy. Next time, I'm adding more heat--be it through the addition of jalapeno and chili powder.

The mint, lettuce, and lime make this dish, though, so be sure to dress the dish with those seemingly unneeded garnishes. Also, it's great with the tortilla, but I think nacho chips would as good or even better.

The best part of this meal was eating outside in the chilly evening with an ember-hot-fire in our outside fireplace roaring at our feet. I've been feeling under-the-weather today, but FD's fire
and Jamie's Green Chilli made me feel like a million bucks.

Leave it to my two favorite men to make me feel better.

Dishing Out Some Dishes

We've been making some good eats, but over the past month I haven't had too much time to post them.

Finally, I have some time.

This 'za is one of the best we've made in awhile. Turkey pepperoni, local onions, local shiitake mushrooms.

Vension steak with local heirloom green beans steamed with onions and vinegar and mashed local potatoes with bleu cheese and port caramelized onions. Both side dishes came from the 2009 Cook's Illustrated Fall Entertaining issue. The port caramelized onions were beyond the bomb. They were off the hook!

Finally, Roasted Beet Soup. One of the most delicious soups I've made in a long time. But messy to make. At least for me. I had the bright idea to use my immersion blender rather than my food processor. Most times this is a good idea. This time it wasn't. My French oven is huge, and there wasn't really enough beets to puree, which caused quite a bit of splatter. Enough that FD walked in the kitchen and asked, "Who did you just murder?"

I'll make it again, though, because it was that delicious! Thanks, Carrie, for recommending that recipe to me.

After another section of grading and three more cups of echinacea tea with lots of lemon and honey for this crazy sore throat I have, I forsee me spending some quality time in the kitchen and whipping up some more good eats!

(Dishes not pictured: Jamie Oliver's recipe for pesto; bacon-wrapped divers with walleye and rainbow chard and a side of pasta with pesto; Moosewood black bean casserole; Zingermann's peppered bacon cheddar scone with scrambled eggs; spaghetti squash with marinara sauce and local greens; and tofu curry with local blue potatoes. Suddenly, I'm starving...)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Chicken Feet (aka Hobbit Hands)

Let it to Lenz to get me to eat something that looks like Hobbit hands.

After coming home from a chicken slaughtering workshop, Sarah called me in an ecstatic frenzy; she had scored some chicken feet and I was going to come over and try them with her.

I couldn't say no.

I didn't want to say no.

While she parboiled and fried and marinated the chicken feet, I roughly chopped veggies for our stir-fry.

We got our nerve from a couple glasses of sake. And she prepped me by having me read a blog post about eating chicken feet. Honestly, I was more nervous about this food adventure than eating bull testes. Strange, huh?

Sarah's marinade for them was divine. Gooey with lots of heat.

The chicken feet: not so much for me. They're a lot of skin, tendons, and bone with little to no meat. If you love wings, maybe you would like chicken feet.

I'm a breast and thigh girl. And I'll think I'll stick with those.

However, I have a feeling I would love chicken livers...

But I'm thankful that Sarah cooked them and made me try them. I'll try anything once.

Symon's Roast

I heart Michael Symon.

Here's a cook-dude who could open restaurants in LA, NY, or Chicago, but he keeps it real and opens them in Cleveland and Detroit. That brings a huge smile to my face.

Our families are in Cleveland.

Some of best of friends are in Detroit.

We can eat Michael Symon's food whenever we want.

Located in the historic Book Cadillac Hotel is Detroit's gorgeous Roast. But I'm conflicted.

I didn't like Roast as much as I like Lola, Symon's flagship restaurant.

The deal is this: the food was good, the service was good, the atmosphere is good. But it all just felt good. I wanted to have a fuckyesawesome!-spaz-freakout, but it never happened. Did I drink too much wine? Did order too much food? I feel like it's my fault that I missed something I shouldn't have.

What I enjoyed most was the company of our friends Sarah, John, and E (who took this magnificent pics for my blog! Thanks, E!)

Let me be clear: in the moment of dining at Roast, I was in food heaven. The beef tartar was to die for. The rib eye with shallot confit was amazing. The roasted chicken was mouth-watering. The short rib smelled divine.

But I was disappointed that our server didn't describe each meat on our charcuterie board. The wild boar was incredibly salty. The roasted bone marrow wasn't all that special. The brownie with lime was disgusting.

Can you see why I'm torn? I thought after a few weeks, I would feel happier about our visit. That I would have made my peace with the pro's and con's to the point it would be all pro. But I still feel a little ripped up and just not right about it.

Would I go back? For sure. Maybe I will drink less wine. Maybe I will only order one starter. Maybe I will ask our server to talk about the food more.

The definite is I want to go there again with our D-town dinner companions. They rule during every dining experience we have with them, even if the meal isn't all that.

And I will always heart Michael Symon, even if I'm not sold on Roast.

(For all the fab photos taken by E., check out my Facebook album.)

Friday, October 2, 2009

October Issue of Connotation Press LIVE!

Can't get enough food writing?

Want some new great recipes?

The theme this month: Offal.

A special thanks to the lovely ladies who contributed this month: Sarah P., Sarah L., and Carrie H.