Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

In which we get lots of pictures

Posted: July 22nd, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 23 Comments »

Ok, so this post could be about lots of things. It could be about the splurge dinner that we had last night, and it will be a little. It could be about the amazing job I did of caramelizing a red onion. And it will be. It will also be pictures of all the food I’ve neglected to post photos of over the past week, and for my adorable readers, who are both harpies, and Harpers, some pictures of my adorable kitchen.

We begin with parmesan-crusted chicken. As you may recall, it was served with a salad on top instead of alongside.
I think that dredging in flour, as the recipe suggests, would make the coating stick better after the eggwash, but for a first try at an old favorite, it was quite the tasty.

Next up on our roll of photos will be several photos of our grilled pizza Sunday night, complete with pictures of my grill, Jesse, and the gut that I develop when sitting in a hammock holding a plate in my lap. I’m not ashamed.

The nommy grilled pizza that we made. Well…. one of them. We split the dough into two pizzas so that we could grill them evenly.

And here’s my grill!! My daddy painted it green for me, which is good because a character like me can’t have a plain-colored grill!!

And here is Jesse!! Happy to be eating!!

And here I am with my hammock gut. Sexy.

Last night, we had Poor Man’s Au Poivre, although really only a rich man could afford it. Rachael Ray calls it Pepper-Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom-Marsala Gravy, and Roasted Asparagus. And I think we all call it “Nommy”. Unless you’re a vegetarian. In which case, I pity your life choice. Anyways, it was a lovely dinner, albiet a bit… warm for last night. Although, since we ended up soaking up the cream sauce with hunks of bread after the tenderloins were gone, I think it was well worth it:
Tonight, I took some pictures of our kitchen while making Farfalle with Chicken, Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions, and Goat Cheese. Here they are, with no real explanation unless it’s incredibly necessary.

We have a wine rack above our fridge. Seriously. Built in. Be jealous, or afraid, which ever. We also have a full-sized stove, in a New York City apartment. I’m in heaven.

And those would be my cookbooks. In a cabinet. No, not all of them. But some. Enough? Maybe, maybe not. We’ll see.

And of course, tonight’s dinner:
Enjoy, kids!!

In which let’s face it…. life is pretty good.

Posted: July 21st, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 4 Comments »

Wednesday night, I made the parmesan-crusted chicken breasts. One big issue with it was that the recipe called for dredging in flour, egg, breadcrumb/parm combination. I have not had the means or ….moolah to buy the basic staples of life yet (flour, sugar, cornmeal, brown sugar…) so I had to double up on the breadcrumbs and nix the flour. The meal was delicious anyways. On top of the thin-pounded, breaded and cheesed chicken breasts, was a salad of mixed greens and citrus vinaigrette (don’t get scared, it just means lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper). I threw shaved parmesan on top, and called it dinner.

Thursday we were supposed to have mussels, because it would be quick and easy and since we were moving everything we own out of our basement and into our living room so that our owner could tile our basement floor. We’re still waiting, in all honesty, for that to be finished. But at any rate, Whole Foods was out of mussels, so we had to let it go. Soup and sammiches it was.
Friday we were out being crazyfolk, and missed out on dinner, but that was in the plan. Saturday we ended up missing dinner but not as planned — we got invited to go hang out with some friends and play Monopoly, which was really fun, and ended up lasting until we got home at 4am.

Sunday, we had pizza on the grill. Pizzas made with Whole Foods pizza dough, and olive oil steeped with red chili flake and dried basil, mozzarella, tomatoes, pepperoni, shallots and garlic.

Tonight we’re having a bit of a splurge, which I’ll write about later. Also hopefully, I’ll be posting pictures of last night and Wednesday night’s dinners later tonight. Because I took them. I swear!!!

In which I (finally) get my groove back

Posted: July 16th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | No Comments »

Miraculously, we got the gas turned on in our apartment on Monday as promised. We had grocery shopped banking on this being the case, but like most things we’ve banked on with this apartment, it could have easily gone to shit. It’s a relief to be able to cook on my stove. Grilling is something that I like as an alternative, but my little kettle grill can’t handle actually cooking on its top. So we have to be judicious. And cook in side. GLEE!!!!!

Monday night we kept it pretty simple. We have a salad of endive and blue cheese, with a basic vinaigrette, and pasta. Angelhair, with a “sauce” that was only a sauce in that it got poured over the pasta. Olive oil and butter, two smashed garlic cloves, and a pinch or two of red pepper flakes. Let it sizzle until the garlic starts to smell really nice, then fish out the cloves and pour over pasta. The garlic flavored the oil just enough, but neither of us were eating a whole garlic clove.

Tuesday night, while watching the All-Star Game (GO AL!!! GO RED SOX!!!), we had Honey-Lime Glazed Salmon, with Warm Black-Bean etc Salsa.
I can’t find a link to this recipe, anywhere, so I’m going to give the basics from memory. It can be found in Rachael Ray 365:No Repeats. You start by chopping up a red onion (I used a shallot) and two cloves of garlic, and starting them cooking in 2 tbs of olive oil, with some cumin, crushed red pepper flake, salt and pepper. While that’s happening, you combine the juice of a lime with 3 “tablespoons” (glugs) of honey, and some chili powder. Roll your salmon filets around in that to get them all coated, and then put them in a medium-sized skillet with 2 more tbs of olive oil in it. I like fish not cooked all the way through to “well done”, so I would say about 3 minutes/side. While that’s getting happy, chop up a bell pepper, add it to the shallot and garlic, and add about half a package of frozen corn. Toss that around, and add about a quarter to half a cup of chicken stock. Let that cook for a few more minutes, while you mind your salmon and open and drain/rinse a can of black beans.

Add the black beans, take the salmon off, and when you’ve got the salmon on the plates, put some chopped up cilantro and some baby spinach in the veggies. Toss it around until the spinach wilts, and serve it up alongside. I suppose you could also wait a little longer to start the salmon, and then serve the salmon on top of the veggies. If you’re feeling fancy.

It was pretty darn nommy. I’m really happy that we went for this.

Tonight, we’re having the Parmesan-crusted chicken with salad.

Then, we’ll make another menu for the rest of the week, because shopping on Monday was as bad as we feared, so we have to go shopping again on Thursday to start the new routine.
I will, of course, keep you posted!!

In which I admit defeat.

Posted: July 10th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 15 Comments »

Ok, I’m not going to lie. It’s really hard to get excited about grilling every day. It’s really frustrating to have to light a grill and hope it stays lit and finish cooking in the dark every single night. And I know, It’s only Thursday, right? I’ve only had to cook on the grill 3 nights. But god. All I want is a dish of pasta. Or some Mac & Cheese. Some steamed vegetables with brown rice. Soup. Something that doesn’t require the smell of charcoal smoke. Something that is not solely a meat product. Something…. different. I can’t bake. I can’t roast. I can’t sautee or blanch or anything.
And I mean, in theory there are a million different things to grill, and a million different ways to make things taste. But frankly, I’m still sick of it. Especially considering that I had to wait until yesterday to get the check from the brokerage reimbursing me for all the money I spent last week on a hotel and restaurants. So I was broke, which meant that I couldn’t get nice ingredients. I couldn’t buy a piece of mahi mahi or a whole salmon or something to cook. On Tuesday, I bought a chicken and asked the butcher to butterfly it for me, so I could make Bobby Flay’s Rosemary Bricked Chicken. It was pretty good, but it is very frustrating learning about grilling by doing. I don’t know if I was using too few charcoals, or wasn’t letting enough air get in, or what. But basically, the chicken was supposed to cook for 8-10 minutes on each side. This chicken cooked for 8 minutes on the first side, and about 20 minutes on the other side. And in the end, Jesse may have gotten food poisoning from it anyways, even though I used a probe thermometer to ensure doneness. But somehow, there was still a pink bit that invaded Jesse’s chicky leg.

stupid chicky.

Along with the chicken, we had grilled vegetables (sort of. I mean, they were cooked, but the coals weren’t all that hot and I was tired and hungry) and boxed couscous (I heated the water to a boil, dumped in the couscous, covered the pot, and took it off the grill to sit on the kitchen counter.)

Last night, my sick boyfriend and I attempted to eat baked potatoes. I had trouble with this as well. I’m having trouble lately with keeping the grill hot. What am I doing wrong, Grill-experts??? Should I have to add more coals after 20 minutes? What’s up?! Argh.
I can’t wait till I can grill only by choice. I can’t wait until we can resume our routine of grocery lists and menu plans and weekly shopping. I miss it. I miss the familiarity. And, I miss being able to cook inside. BIGTIME.

Until next time, friends, when hopefully I will post a happier entry.

In which we feel the Thrill of the Grill

Posted: July 8th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 3 Comments »

We have finally, sort of, moved into our new apartment.

Sort of.

Over the weekend of the 27th through the 29th, Jesse and I moved all our stuff except for the big things into the new apartment. On Monday the 30th, I was called at work by the head of the brokerage, and told that we couldn’t actually STAY at our apartment. So basically, we were forced to abandon our stuff and go to a hotel for 3 days. And this, kids, is New York. Our options were either:
1). Get a room in an expensive hotel in Manhattan for 3 nights, or,
2). Get a room at the Holiday Inn in Weehawken, NJ for $30/night for 3 nights.

Since Jesse was working and I was on vacation for the 1-3 of July, we decided to get a hotel in Manhattan. Because since I couldn’t be spending my vacation setting up our apartment, I preferred Manhattan to spending my 3 days off in the great state of New Jersey. Seriously.

Luckily, all of our things remained safe. Jesse checked the apartment every night, making sure that the builders (who were only there on Tuesday, and possibly only to drop off our appliances, which didn’t fit in their slots) didn’t go through anything of ours. I think that not being able to unpack made it a lot easier to secure our things, since all our boxes were taped shut, and it would have been really obvious had either a box gone missing, or one been opened that was previously taped. Plus, there were no drawers to rifle through, since they were still full of clothes and shrink-wrapped (easier than packing the clothes up).

So, we spent a lot of time eating at restaurants, and saw Wall-E, and I wandered the city a lot, checking out Tompkins Square Park, East River Park, and other places where my fellow homeless people hang out. It was enlightening. Finally, we were allowed back in on Thursday night, to find that our fridge worked (although it didn’t fit its cabinet, so was in the middle of our kitchen) but our stove did not (no gas. as of this writing, no gas until 7/14. Which means no hot water, no hot showers, and no indoor cooking until 7/14).
Friday, we enjoyed free pizza and free beer while watching the Macy’s Fireworks from a friend’s office building on Water Street.

Saturday, in a change of plans, my parents came down to New York. They brought my puppyface Chloe for a visit (she’s a Bernese Mountain Dog. Not really a puppy anymore…. she’s 2). They also brought a hammock for our back yard that folds up into a duffel bag, and….. MY GRILL!!

That evening, we made steak and corn on the cob on the grill. The steaks were wonderful – I just sprinkled them with Salt and Pepper, and let them rest for about 10 minutes before putting them on. The corn, since we couldn’t boil water, went on the grill wrapped in foil with a pat of butter. I think it probably cooked for about 10 minutes, maybe only 8, I flipped it over halfway through…. but basically, the corn gets sort-of steamed, sort-of roasted, sort-of basted with the butter. It’s delicious and I personally greatly prefer the texture to that of boiled corn.

The next morning, I used the grill to heat the water in my teakettle for coffee, and in conjunction with my cast-iron skillet to make eggs, and last night I made burgers from pre-made frozen patties that my parents bought at Costco and brought down for us for our freezer. Have I ever mentioned that I never made real burgers (aka smushed up ground beef, etc) until this past year? I never did. We always ate pre-made patties. And I still think they’re ok.

In summation, we’re going to be eating a lot of grilled food in the coming days because we can’t cook indoors. Which is good because it gives me a LOT of chimbly practice — I’m really good at starting fires. I just need to remember to start cooking before it gets too dark to clearly see my food. Because the embers, they don’t give a lot of light. So…. live and learn.

Until next time!!