30 September 2011

Chicken Paella for Dorothy ...

This week's Game-Changer is all about teaching the next generation of chefs and hospitality professionals. Dorothy Hamilton has earned her way onto this list by observing the best of vocational education in Europe and bringing the model to the States via her French Culinary Institute, which has morphed to become The International Culinary Institute. What started as a small school for students of French cuisine in Manhattan has become a well-respected school of culinary arts with a west coast branch in San Francisco. To boot, Hamilton has branched out to lend support to an alternative education and rehabilitation program for incarcerated folk and their families. She has also worked  on developing a vocational program designed to train housekeeping professionals with the knowledge and savvy it takes to run an estate from the winecellar up to the housekeeping quarters - kind of like an Upstairs, Downstairs training camp. Yes, of course, I'm simplifying, but you do get the ghist, right?

Her niche has been education - vocational education that implements a strong immersion model - an 'in the trenches' approach that specializes students, giving them skills and knowledge of the food and hospitality industry - laudable work, I  say, in this age where there is such a huge stress on getting into the right college, getting your degree, going for the degree that will get you big bucks ... blah, blah, blah.

So, my quandry has been deciding on what to make as a small tribute to this powerhouse of a woman? Well, I read a Dorothy Hamilton interview in which she stated her love of making chicken paella ... I KNOW! Paella!?! Well, there you go ... a French chef with a love of the cuisine to the south of France! Since I love paella ...

This one's for you, Dorothy! This is my version of Chicken Paella ... enjoy!

chickpeas in lieu of green peas

26 September 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

What kind of peanut butter person are you - smooth or crunchy? We have an on-going argument in our house. SB, who consumes the vast majority of the peanut butter claims that there is no place for peanut bits in the peanut butter, but I disagree. I love peanut butter crunches in peanut sauce, in peanut butter cookies, in the filling of peanut butter pie, and in mouse traps ... but that's another story. So, I buy SB his jar of smooth and have on hand the smaller jar of crunchy for my consumption needs.

Today is a day to bake peanut butter cookies. I am using crunchy peanut butter because it makes a more interesting cookie, texturally speaking ... not to mention it tastes better. Silent Bob will come out to the kitchen when he smells that first batch and he'll ask for a sample. He'll pour a glass of milk, take a bite of the first warm cookie, and moan, "Not crunchy again!" I'll smile and nod emphatically. Then, he'll moan, "Oh, okay. I guess I can stomach that." This will be said in his very best Eeyore voice. Then, he'll nab a stack of two or three warm cookies and retire to the couch to watch a little football. And that will be that ... one more little salvo in the on-going peanut butter war.

24 September 2011

Bisque and a Book - 'The Lobster Chronicles' by Linda Greenlaw

Back in the day, lobsters were poor folk food. Don't laugh! There were actual laws prohibiting prisons from feeding their prisoners lobster more than once a week! Just imagine! Well, there's no problem in this grey cottage with eating lobster frequently - that is , if the budget would just allow!

Summertime is the time for me to splurge a few times and buy lobsters from a guy down the road. His son has a lobsterman's license over on the coast of New Hampshire, so he sells his catch inland, where he has a sure market. I go into his little shop and pick a few out of the tank, but I rarely consider all the hard work that goes into harvesting these bottom feeders. It's constant work, maintaining lobster traps and lines, hauling, baiting , resetting them. The tourists always love seeing the little lobster boats chugging in and out of harbor, but they don't consider the work either when they are tying on their lobster bibs and bellying up to a table of boiled lobster with drawn butter.

Linda Greenlaw addresses that issue for anyone curious enough to wonder just what does go into being a lobsterman (er ... woman). She has written a chronicle of a year in the life of a lobsterman and I must say, she doesn't romanticize things. It's a hard life that one has to love in order to keep to ... the sea can be a cold, dangerous, unforgiving environment. Currents can play havoc with equipment, weather conditions can be life-threatening, political intricacies can make for bad blood between fellow lobstermen, and the lobsters can come and go (often at the worst possible times). Still, Greenlaw keeps at it ... and writes of her life with honesty, poignancy, and humor. This was a fun summertime read, but on this first day of Fall ... and in honor of Homarus americanus, I am making a Lobster Bisque this evening to have with fresh bread and a green salad.

23 September 2011

Maida Heatter - Dessert Goddess

What rock have I been under, that I have never heard of Maida Heatter? Though her education was in the art and fashion design and merchandising arena, she settled on a career as a pastry chef and cooking instructor. The quality of her recipes and finished products endeared her to Craig Claiborne and various celebrity media personalities and brought her into the realm of cookbook publishing. She has been awarded the James Beard Foundation Award on three separate occasions, had her recipes published in such places as Food & Wine Magazine, the New York Times, Women's Day, and Chocolatier. Her desserts have graced tables at Spago, The Four Seasons, and various Presidential luncheons ... high praise, indeed! Who knew? Not me!

21 September 2011

Pumpkin and Herbed Ricotta Stuffed Shells

perfect for a centerpiece or a jack o' lantern

Pumpkin Season is upon us and I am chock full of ideas for the next few dinners, desserts, and snacks - all incorporating pumpkin mash, pumpkin cubes, and/or pumpkin seeds. Of course, I'm NOT going to overload poor SB day after day with pumpkin dishes, but we'll certainly get our fill in the next few weeks.

because only a masochist with a machete chops, stews, and mashes their own pumpkin

Tonight, I'm in the mood for pasta, so I'm making these little stuffed shells that have a pumpkin/ricotta cheese /herb filling. I halved the recipe so that we don't have them sitting in the fridge for more than a day. That way, I can make more pumpkin-y things and not have SB crabbing at me. The recipe reflects enough stuffing for twelve shells - dinner and a lunch of leftovers. Perfect for two people...

lined pasta in a lined bowl

20 September 2011

Random Recipe - Clip-Outs and Magazine Corner Folds

Who doesn't have a pile of magazines set aside with 'must make recipes' marked by page folds? How about that folder or bag or box of newspaper clip-outs, scrawled index cards or slips of paper with recipes given by friends? I have a treasure trove of plastic shopping bags (two of them), a desk organizer, and a pile of magazines filled with such things! Dom has asked us to reach in and pull a random clipping for this month's Random Recipe - and that's exactly what I did.

17 September 2011

Another Beautiful Cake - Chocolate Beetroot Cake

My cricket is coming home for her birthday dinner this evening and I made her a birthday cake! She will blow out a candle, open a gift, and cut into this lovely little cake that I made this morning. Pardon the purple and pink icing drizzle ... I just HAD to do it! It is SOOO reminding me of Sara's My Pretty Pony days; I swear she had little plastic ponies that were the exact shades of this icing drizzle! Come to think of it, I think she also had purple and pink sweat pants, t-shirts, barrettes, and socks! Maybe even sneakers! Yup! I'm positive ... thank God, her fashion sense has improved. Mine, however ...?

With beet juice in such a vibrant shade of purple, I just had to play with the colors! Yeah, I know pretty purple geraniums and mint are redundant, but Sara didn't see my other pretty cake of last week (another birthday cake!). It's all new to her! Happy Birthday, sweetie!

16 September 2011

Duck With Forty Cloves of Garlic - A Silver Palate Recipe

Right now, my kitchen, my dining room, my living room, my house smells of roasting garlic, sweet fennel, and onions ... they're all roasting their way to a platter of roasted duck, made in tribute to Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. Too bad those ladies couldn't be sitting down to dinner with us this evening. I would love to hear the stories of their first years together as a team at The Silver Palate. I'd enjoy hearing about the travels of Sheila, as she did her worldwide recipe search for her All Around the World Cookbook, and how Julee ended up owning an inn and restaurant on the shores of Lake Michigan. Alas, Sheila is no longer with us and Julee has her own schedule that is NOT aligned with mine ... alas.

14 September 2011

Pan-Seared Pork Tenderloin with Apples, Onions, and Garlic

My husband is finally home from his big bicycling adventure! Hurray! He has good photos, a travel journal documenting all his adventures, and a bit of a sore butt and tired legs! He also has a great tan and a cute sunburned nose. For Silent Bob's first meal back from the road, I pulled out the stops and made something so wonderful! I sent him out to the garden to cut the first of the Brussels sprouts, made an easy creamy Farfalle with White Cheeses, Chives and Lemon Juice and this gorgeous pork dish. The original recipe has you slice the pork into thin ribbons and stir-fry it, but I love thick pan-seared tenderloin (pork and beef) and the pork medallions that I cut were perfect in this dish.

12 September 2011

September 11, 2011 --- And Jenna

Who is not blue today, thinking about the events of a decade ago. I know I was in a funk most of the morning. I rattled around the house, waiting for Silent Bob and Rich to come home. They are due late this evening, so I've made a beef stew. I will worry all day whether they'll have problems coming over the border, what with all the speculation on an intended terrorist attack on the anniversay of 9/11. This morning's church service was heavy on the 9/11 mourning, the TV is all about Ground Zero memorial services, the Internet has been heavy on the images of that day and peoples' memories. I find the whole thing so very sad ... I have my own memories of that day. They're seared firmly - like a brand. I suppose it's good to remember and honor the loss of so many and the valor of those who rushed to aid in the chaos of that day, but oh! it brings up such hurt. So, my one nod to the day began this morning with a prayer and listening to John Adams' beautiful music - 'On the Transmigration of Souls'. That is enough, I think.

What I've needed was a 'pick-me-up' and it arrived mid-afternoon with a ring of the back door bell and barking dogs. Jenna, my dear young neighbor, came for a visit with a bag of her cherry tomatoes. She was so proud to tell me that she grew them herself in her little garden! Just looking at her sweet grin was impetus enough to invite her in and suggest that we 'do something with them right a way'! So Jenna helped me prepare them for roasting ...

10 September 2011

Mushrooms and Fideos with Arugula and Hazelnuts

That Rachael Ray loves her pasta ... and so do I. This was a fast and easy meal that hit the spot in a healthy way.  Because Silent Bob isn't around these days, I halved the recipe. It made enough for my dinner and lunch the next day. Rachael calls this Spaghettti 'Risotto', but in Spain, broken noodles like these are called Fideos, so that's what I'm calling them ... it's easier to type and I'm feeling lazy.

I love the earthiness of this recipe. The combination of the bitter arugula, nutty noodles, and hazelnuts wrapped around those mushrooms is just perfect. I normally use quite a bit of cheese on my pasta, but it's not needed here. There are so many other flavours going on that more cheese would mask them, and we wouldn't want to do that, would we? No, we would not!

This has earned a place on my list of favorite pasta recipes. Try it and tell me what YOU think!

09 September 2011

Orange Muffins with Candied Ginger

Random Bakes of Kindness

When I want to 'treat' someone, I usually bake them muffins or cookies. They're easy to transport, can be 'increased' easily if I need big batch offerings, and they are the recipes at which I excel - brag, brag, I know, but it's true.

Anyway, I'm always on the hunt for good recipes to add to the arsenal and this one is a new find. I was digging around on a site dedicated to muffin recipes ... wahoo! The recipe originally had chopped figs, but I liked the sound of candied ginger with all that citrus. I also like the idea of an orangey citrus glaze drizzled over the tops of the cool muffins. I've never been one for dietary discretion. What can I say? Besides, this sweet treat is for one of the sweetest folks I've met of late.

... a baker's dozen muffins ... some for a sweet girl and some for me

Elizabeth David's Poulet à l'estragon

There's a lady who has been around the bases a few times. Good grief, her bio reads like a racy romance novel, and I'm sure she'd take umbrage at that, but tough. She came from a properous English family that bankrolled her early jaunt through Europe dodging Nazi invasion, drinking and carousing with actors, writers, and libertines. She finally married some Schmo (I say this facetiously) and when things got dicey, she moved back to England and shacked up with some other Schmo. Man, oh man. That seems to have been her mantra. 

There! The racy stuff is out of the way. In between all that libidinous putzing about, she developed a taste  and skill for cooking the French and Mediterranean flavours. In post-war England, she championed a return to flavour - olive oil, garlic, the herbs of southern Europe, simple rustic treatments for vegetables and meats that would bring back to life a beleaguered post-war kitchen. Of course, there was other stuff in there - writing books on cuisine, doing magazine articles, co-owning a kitchen store that marketed pottery, pots and pans, and all manner of gadgetry, developing a kitchen 'lifestyle' look that became stylish during the 60's  ... you know, the usual kitchen diva stuff. For these actions, she has made the Gourmet Live List of 50 Women Game-Changers ... #14 on the list.

08 September 2011

Waiting ...

Apple and squash season are just around the corner here in New England. There are bags of early apples and hard squash making their way into the stalls at farmer's markets and onto the produce stands at the super. I don't know how I feel about this ... I'm not really ready to say farewell to summer. I still crave the sounds of locusts way up high in the oak tree just out back and the hum of the window fan in the night. I'm already missing the hummingbirds. They left last week ... no more aerial acrobatics and chittering when the feeder is empty. I'm not ready for the September song of crickets and katydids in the grasses by the rock walls. I still want to hear bluebirds and orioles in the trees and hedgerow down in the lower yard.

06 September 2011

Tomato Tart ...and Roasted Tomatoes

... a new and improved tart after a sleepless night

I have been obsessing all night about a tart that I made yesterday for my daughter Kate and her friend, Seth. It looked sooo good when it came out of the oven. I followed the recipe directions to a tee, but when we put our forks to the crust, it was hard. There wasn't enough tomato to the tart, and the cheese had hardened . To say it was a disappointment would be an understatement. To boot, the kids kept saying how 'delish' it was, but we all knew it was just 'meh'.

Yet, a tomato tart at this time of year should be the most flaky crusted and succulent bit of pastry on Earth. For heaven's sake, it's the height of tomato season! There was plenty of cheese in the filling, but it lacked moisture ... so my quest begins! Lunch today will be the new and improved ... and then, we'll see.

05 September 2011

A Joke And A Pickle - Part 2

Remember my need to research abit? Well, folks, I found out that I've been using the wrong cucumbers all this time. Turns out I should have been using pickling cucumbers, so that's just what I did. I met the nicest girl today in my quest to find good fresh cucumbers and green peppers. Tracy, the owner of the local CSA, gave me enough produce to make the small batch bread and butter pickles that I wanted. She looked like Mother Nature herself out in the field picking herbs to bundle for her CSA members' baskets. That was a nice way to start the day!

And the Winner Is ...

... the names went into ... what else but a mixing bowl

Congratulations, Vicki! Burdick's Chocolates headed your way! Thanks to everyone who popped in to say hello and congrats on the 100th follower post! It's the little milestones in life (actually attained!)  that make for a momentary 'puff up', a smile to oneself, and then, a sigh. Now, on to higher ground!

Reeni and Vicki have treats headed their way! And I'll have to think about the next little goal ... and the next fun giveaway!


04 September 2011

Another Beautiful Cake ... Lemon Buttermilk Cake

I'm not usually a fan of sheet cakes. I like layer cakes. A flat sheet cake has its place in the scheme of things, though. It's easy to serve to a crowd. It can be cut into small servings without falling apart. It's easy, period.

03 September 2011

Ethel Gendron's Beet Pickles

...sterilized jars upside down to keep the insides clean

Remember that pickled beets recipe that I was hoping to get? My sister-in-law came through for me and called it in the other day. Hurray! I can make pickled beets as a surprise for Silent Bob. He will be SO pleased  that I finally did something different with the produce! So here we go ... 

...sweet and sour brine ingredients

01 September 2011

Crispy Curry Fried Chicken

She's perky, she's pretty, she's published, she's TV-produced, she's packaged. She embodies the epitome of what the modern media has done to market cooking and the 'young lifestyle'. She's made the rounds of the 'chef shows' showing that she can hold her own, put her wedding in Tuscany 'out there' for her fans to oogle, hosted parties at an Austin-based music festival, become gossip fodder for the tabloids, coined terms that are making their way into common vernacular and the dictionary. She's fast-tracked her name to 'brand status' that can be found on magazines, cookwear, kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, and television shows. Why, of course, she's Rachael Ray.

We're moving right long on our list of 50 Women Game-Changers - One Perfect Bite's Blog Share; it's becoming a weekly tradition for me. I have learned a lot reading all the other bloggers' posts. Plus, I've gotten ideas from their photos and techniques for tablescaping and presenting their dishes ... everyone is just so unique! That's what amazes me about food blogging ... it reinforces our individuality and creativity, while showing us all the diverse ideas and people 'out there' in cyberspace. I hope you are having as much fun scoping the other contributors' websites as I am!

Let's see what's up for this week!

No apologies here ... fried food coming your way. This recipe comes from Rachael Ray's book, Look + Cook - imagine boneless chicken thighs slathered in a spicy curry yogurt, tossed in a spicy curry flour coating, and fried up in a light canola oil to a 'juicy on the inside/crispy on the outside' finish. This was a perfect meal for me to make for myself while Silent Bob is off galavanting, as I made just what I would eat with no leftovers. The rest of the chicken thighs are bagged up and waiting for another meal. It was easy, fast, and tasty - the trademark of a Rachael Ray recipe!

Rachael has made it to the list that Gourmet Live put together. She's a Game-Changer ... and she's Number #13 on a list of 100 women who have influenced the food industry. I'm sure many folks will have something to say about her placement on the list and the number at which she comes in, but I'm not going there. IMHO, she makes some damn fine food and although her snappy attitude grates on me at times, I can look past it ... anyone who comes up with a fried chicken dish like this is okay in my book.