Friday, November 25, 2011

The Everything Sandwich

So much to be thankful for! Like Port Townsend Creamery's Off Kilter Cheese which I have finally purchased. I knew it was coming out, and when I went to Pike's Place the other day I saw they had their own stand! Oh, so exciting! They had samples of all their cheeses and so I was finally able to taste Off Kilter. I love french cheeses but the NW has awesome cheeses too. I don't why I didn't just buy it then and there, I think I was worried that I wouldn't be able to eat it all by myself. But at the store today I knew it would be perfect on our left-over sandwiches.
I tossed everything that I loved on my sandwich, and it miraculously worked out. One side of bread had Chive and Garlic Hummus and the other had Aioli. I stuffed the sandwich with the aforementioned Off Kilter cheese, spinach, salami, turkey, cranberry jelly and jalapenos. All the flavors went together spectacularly. I can't wait to make my Turkey Pot Pie.

Post-Thanksgiving Waffles

Oh-Em-Gee. These were such a treat. I happen the checkerboard affect with the chocolate looks pretty neat. It was a bit of an accident. I had already started cooking the waffle and realized I had forgotten the chocolate. :( So I opened the waffle maker and added them in. It melted the chocolate into the waffle craters. It turned out awesome. On the downside it got all over the waffle iron and was a bitch to clean. It also infected Casey's blueberry waffle. ;)
The chocolate I used was 100% baking chocolate. It was pretty bitter and the powdered sugar and syrup went so well with it! The waffle mix was Bob's Red Mill High Fiber Organic Whole Wheat Pancake and Waffle mix. I'd make my own but his just does it so well.

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Blanching the green beans

Green bean salad with vinaigrette, dried cherries and walnuts

Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts, shallots and leeks with butter

White Chocolate Cranberry Pie courtesy of Abby
I feel pretty bad that I didn't take a picture of Casey's baked potato stir-fry. I really liked it. He diced potatoes and baked them with jalapeno, bell pepper and onion. He also made the gravy in a garlic-onion roux. As for my contribution I made a green bean salad and a brussel sprout stir fry. Both were pretty good, though I liked the brussel sprouts much better. Which is good since I bought way too many. I really don't feel like posting the recipe but I linked them. Both recipes are from Bon Appetite, again. The cranberry pie was a pleasant surprise. The only thing I do with cranberries is open the can of jellied cranberry and put it in a pretty dish. Cooking with cranberries is actually totally alien to me. But this was amazing. Not to sweet, but not too tart, and you gotta love the 'yum'. Thanks Abby!

Turkey Brine

Star Anise

Lots of salt, star anise and peppercorns

The Lineup

It just needs some raw meat
Happy post-Thanksgiving! What a smorsgabord of food that graced our table. Good food, good wine and good people! So much to be thankful for. I am not quite sure if this turkey brine worked. I mean it's hard to tell. I did not notice that the meat was noticeably flavorful. I think it did however help keep the meat moist. I ended up overcooking the turkey a bit so while it was tougher than I wanted it to be, it was still moist and I think it was because of the brine. Check out the recipe on Bon Appetite.

The Turkey the day after brining, sitting at room temp before being put in the oven

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Garlic Knots

Olive Oil and Spices

The uncooked dough...

...covered in goodness...

...than cooked

Check out that steam action!

I have actually posted these delicious garlic knots before. The picture was so awful and there probably wasn't even a recipe that you skimmed over it. But really these are amazing. They are made from the Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits (probably not the best thing for you).
I must confess that I am very particular when it comes to cooking oil. Most of the time we use olive oil, occasionally coconut oil and sometimes butter. Anytime I read vegetable oil or canola oil or anything of the sort I use olive oil. I love olive oil. One day I was making carrot muffins and I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil, it was amazing. The carrot muffins had this slight grassy earthiness that was really different. Though, I admit if I am deep frying I will use some other kind of oil. But only because I am cheap like that. After you use the oil enough you have to toss it, and I just could not do that to olive oil.

Garlic Knots adapted from Real Mom Kitchen

1 can Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits
1/4 c. EVOO
Spices - I used whatever dry spices I had on hand, even some paprika. I would have added parmesan if I had some, but no luck. But, I did have parsley, basil, sage, oregano and garlic powder.

Mix Olive Oil and Spices in small dish. Take biscuit, roll out into small rope, make knot. With pastry brush, cover with olive oil goodness. Bake as directed from packaging directions. (350 @ 15 minutes.)

This is at it's best when dunked in tomato/marina sauce.

Breaded Fish Salad with Warm Shallot Vinaigrette

The detox is over and I jumped into the heavy, sweet, salty, creamy foods that cold, rainy weather demands in full force. It did not agree with me. The more Case and I toss in these Detoxes wether they last a weekend or three weeks the more we realize that we just enjoy healthy foods more and more. Not necessarily even healthy, just not full of crap. We've really enjoyed toying around with gluten free/vegetarian even vegan diets. I am a little worried this might possibly be considered 'yo-yo' dieting and I know that is no good. I don't think Case has anything to worry about but I love me some Pumpkin Spice Lattes and nothing in that is remotely good for you. After a few days of eating out we were both craving some lighter fare. I feel like this dish would be more appropriate for the summer but we were happy to have something refreshing. I went to the farmers market and got these out-of-season ingredients to combat the bad karma of shopping inordinately out of season. I don't know if I am embarrassed or proud to admit that the fish is actually Safeway pre-breaded chili lime frozen fish. It's really tasty.

Serves 3

1 Large Tomato, diced
4 Radishes, sliced
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1 1/2 c. Frisee
1 c. Boston Lettuce

Warm Shallot Vinaigrette adapted from Real Simple

1/3 c. plus 2 Tb. EVOO
2 Large Shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar (though it does call for white wine vinegar)
freshly ground salt and pepper

Heat EVOO and shallot in pan until softened. Add vinegar. Heat 1 minute.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mom's Vegetable Soup

This is more of a variation of my Mom's soup. My Mom only had potatoes, tomatoes, leeks, carrots and broth. I actually forgot to get carrots, oops. So I added half an onion, garlic, spinach, half an orange pepper and celery. For spices I added turmeric, cumin, parsley, and paprika. When it was done and blended I drizzled balsamic vinegar, olive oil and fresh black pepper. It was pretty good. My mom's version, of course has cream and butter so it lacked a certain richness but I really liked it. I'm loving the balsamic vinegar that Case got me for my birthday, I've been adding to everything.

Acorn Squash stuffed with quinoa and kale

This recipe is the start-ish of a detox. It's a little stop and go but we officially started today. I cut the acorn squash in half and rubbed it with olive oil an salt, roasted it for 30 plus minutes. While it was roasted I started caramelizing one large shallot, boiling a bunch of kale and cooked the quinoa in coconut milk. When the kale and quinoa was cooked I mixed them together, stuffed the squash and sprinkled the shallots over the whole thing.

Pear Vodka Part II & Caprese Skewers

Mashing up the Pears

Clouded Pear Vodka
Remember my previous Pear Vodka Post? On November 5th I was able to unveil for few friends at home. I churned it up in my POP container (which by the way, worked fabulously) and strained it twice. Once through a normal strainer and again through a fine mesh tea strainer. I made it with lime and tonic water and it was very satisfying.

These skewers are always delightful! Cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls on a skewer drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and some good quality salt. I put these in little ceramic containers and let them just soak in the vinaigrette. Mmmmmmm.

Dessert for Breakfast

Ben and Jerry's Creme Brulee Ice Cream, frozen cherries and almond butter. It might get better than this. But I'm not convinced....

Friday, November 4, 2011

Roasted Acorn Squash, 'Seared' Scallops, Oyster Mushrooms

Squash + Brown Sugar + Butter

Oyster Mushrooms

 Olive Oil + Saffron

The so-so picture. What!? I was hungry..

I'm not sure how I feel about this dish. I would say the final line was that it was good, but it could have been better. And really that's what I get for cooking when I am starving! Of course the tantalizing smells of the roasting acorn squash are wafting through my apartment making me so excited to eat I rushed the searing scallops and crispy bacon. :(.

I hear searing scallops is an art and clearly I didn't do it quite right. Still good though. They were in fact perfectly cooked and for that I am infinitely happy, but not seared. I was paranoid of over-cooking them which turns them to rubber. No good. The bacon could have been a little crispier too. I really want to make this again and do it right.

This recipe is a recreation of something I ate on vacation in the Olympic Peninsula. Also, this was just for me so it's fairly small.

1 Acorn Squash, cut in half, seeds and guts disposed of
3 slices of bacon
1/2 lb. of large scallops
2 tsp. saffron strands
handful of mushrooms (I used oyster)

Start the Acorn Squash. Mix brown sugar and butter in a bowl. Smear this amazing concoction in the acorn squash and grind salt and pepper on top. I cooked the squash at 400 for almost an hour. While it is cooking chop some bacon and some mushrooms. Cook the bacon in a large non-stick pan and get it greased up. Push the bacon to the side of the pan and add the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms to the side of the pan with the bacon. In a small bowl mix olive oil and saffron strands. Get your pan fairly hot, add the saffron olive oil and sear the scallops about 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Since this recipe was not 100% successful I would totally look somewhere else for scallop searing instructions (like I will next time I make this).
When the scallops, mushrooms and bacon are done, pull the acorn squash out of the oven and stuff amazingness letting some of the stuffing fall out over the side. Like I do with half my meals, drizzle with EVOO, salt, pepper.

Whiskey Bread Pudding

Whiskey and Vanilla Bean Seeds.

Gently tossing the bread with the heavy cream and letting it sit overnight in the fridge. It makes baking it the next day so effin easy. Since the recipe calls for day old bread you need the buy the bread two days before you plan on eating this dish. That requires too much planning ahead in my life, so I used fresh bread and worked out lovely.

Fresh from the muffin tin

Potlucks are fun and all...but I wanted this all to myself. Thankfully, I will be making this tomorrow again for a whole 'nother set of people. Yee-haw. This bread pudding turned out much better than my pumpkin bread pudding, I'm sure using actual bread helped a lot but I also used a few too many croutons last time and it wasn't as creamy as I would have liked it. As for the whiskey, I hate whiskey but it added a little bite to the dish that was toned down by the massive amounts of cream and complemented the sweetness! Since this was a potluck, making these in muffing tins seemed perfect. But I forgot that muffin tin cooking is quite a bit faster so the bottom ended up burning a little teensy bit. But not so horrible, it gave it a burnt sugar taste. I quite liked it. I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit and it calls for pecans which I omitted since it is a big no-no for my braces. But if I could have added them I would have. 

Whiskey Bread Pudding
Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 lb. day-old rustic white bread
1/2 c. melted butter
2 Tb. plus 1 c. sugar (it calls for 2 Tb. and 1 1/2 c.)
5 large eggs
4 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 Tb. poppy seeds
3 Tb. Whiskey (it calls for Bourbon)
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (Really?! What are you supposed to do with the other half. I just used the whole damn thing)
2 c. pecan pieces

Day Ahead:

Toss bread, melted butter and 2 Tb. sugar in large bowl and set aside. Using electric mixer beat eggs and sugar until fluffy and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Add cream poppy seeds and salt, beat to blend. Place bourbon in small bowl with scraped vanilla bean, whisk and add to cream mixture. Pour egg mixture over bread add pecans and toss well. Transfer to baking dish/muffin tin, whatever swells your heart with happiness. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. 

Day Of:

Preheat Oven to 325. Bake until top is well browned in spots. 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.