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

In which it’s delicious

Posted: November 20th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 19 Comments »

The boiled kale was great. It really was. And in an amazing turn of events, I managed to make perfect toast. Like…. it was gorgeous. Beautiful toast.
Of course, it got all sogged up with the broth and the slippery kale and the egg yolk and the melting gruyere…. but still. For a minute, right between when I pulled it out of the broiler and when I smeared it all over with a garlic clove — just golden, still soft, but crispy too…. it was wonderful.

So, the recipe, in case you didn’t click on the link to Orangette.
1 medium yellow onion, diced.
2 tablespoons of butter and about the same of olive oil.
2 finely sliced garlic cloves.
A pinch of crushed red pepper flake.
Reportedly, about 8 ounces of kale. I used a bunch of Lacinato kale.
About 4 cups of a combo of water and chicken stock.

Put the oil and butter in a pot to melt up, and then add the diced onion while you’re slicing the garlic and stripping the kale leaves away from the woody stems. When the onions are clear, but a little soft, add the garlic and a pinch of red pepper flake. Start slicing your (well washed) kale leaves into little ribbons – I did this by rolling them all up together and then slicing them perpendicular to the longest part (aka I took a leaf, stood it up, rotated it 90 degrees so it was lying on its side, and then cut it across so that my knife was going up and down)

Add the kale to the pot, with some salt, and toss it all around until the kale is all wilty. Then, add the water and stock until your kale is covered by about 1/2 an inch. Or until you get sick of it and have decided that it’s done regardless. Not that this is when I stopped pouring in water or anything…. of course not.
Bring the liquid up to a simmer, and cover the pot while turning the heat down a little. You want it, apparently, to keep simmering and not boil. Whoops.

After about half an hour, fire up your broiler, slice your bread, and get your eggs out. Taste the kale – you might need to add salt. I sure did. Toast the bread up, and fry a few eggs. Perhaps get out the left-over hunk of gruyere that’s in your fridge from Mac & Cheese making last week. To plate, grab the bread from the broiler and rub it all over with a garlic clove.
Put it in the bottom of a soup plate.
Spoon the kale and some broth over it. Shred some gruyere over (or parm/romano/whatevs), and then top with a fried egg. I’d recommend sunny side up — Jesse’s plate looked much more beautiful with the sunny-side eggs than my over-”quick before the top cooks too much” egg. More gruyere is always welcome here.

I brought out a second slice of gorgeous toast for dipping and soaking and the like, because the first piece got really soggy really fast.

And to my darling reader in Tulsa, OK — I promise that as soon as I have more batteries for the camera, I will take more pictures. For now, they’re being utilized by the drums. Smooches.

In which there is no ketchup

Posted: November 19th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 1 Comment »

I’m going to post this lunchbreak, to catch up to where we should be. I’m not going to backdate, even though i kind of want to. SO I’ll admit. I broke National November Blog Posting Month or whatever it’s called. But I got halfway through. Legitimately. And I’m not giving up and letting it go for the rest of the month, even though It’ll be tough because Thanksgiving is coming. But regardless…. here we go.

Monday. November 17th.
The plan had been to use the left over pork shoulder cooked on Sunday and do something fabulous with it. But since it was bad, there was no help there. And we didn’t really have much else in the way of…. food. Because when the plan ends, you need another plan ready to go.
So I turned to the staple of frazzled cooks everywhere.


I had eggs, potatoes, an onion, and I scrounged up some pancetta slices. I even had some cheese left. (Honestly, I had a ton of cheese left). So, I shredded my potato and half the onion on my grater, and put them into a pan to cook like hash browns. These potatoes are weird, and kind of wet, so I had to press them out with a paper towel to get some of the moisture out so they would get a little crispy, instead of just mushy. I sliced up the pancetta into similar shapes as the potatoes and onion, and I got them in the pan as well. While everything got happy, I whipped up 6 eggs and some cream. Y’know, to ensure that we would still get our caloric intake for the meal.
I poured them in, on too high a heat, but whatever, and began to scramble. Added a little hot sauce, salt, and pepper. A little curry powder went in with the onions and potatoes.
It was good. I put shredded cheddar and the feisty romano on top. We finished off the boxed soup from last week, and had a small salad. Deeelish.
And of course, we had some ice cream with salted caramel sauce on top. Naturally.

Tuesday. November 18th.
The original plan for Tuesday was to have Pizza. Wall*E had arrived on BluRay and in honor of hte Captain of the Axiom and his desire for a pizza plant, we were going to order a pizza. But some things went crazy with our finances (ahem, holler student loan payment going up unexpectedly) and while we sort of have the money for pizza, it’s all tied up in savings accounts and suchlike. Not accessible. So regardless…. we made pizza instead.
We didn’t have much, so I worked with what we had.

Basic Pizza crust, sprinkled with mozzarella. Half a thinly-sliced onion. Garlic cloves smashied. Arugula. Gorgonzola crumbles. Olive oil over the top. Baked at 425 for about 20 minutes. Delicious. INcredible. You’d never know this was a refrigerator clean-out instead of a planned meal. In fact, I probably shouldn’t have told you.
Strike all of the above. This was a totally planned pizza. We wanted to make our own. And we thought that the above ingredients would go perfectly together. And they did. Teh End.

Tonight, I think we’re having boiled kale, inspired by Orangette, probably some others, Rachael Ray, and basically, my desire to be warm. I’ve wanted this for days, and I’ve never even had boiled kale before.
So, you’ll get a post tonight, my loves. I promise. I’m back on the wagon.

In which we have a roast

Posted: November 17th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | No Comments »

So my original plan for tonight’s dinner was to do something fun and fabulous with the remaining Pork shoulder that I hadn’t turned into yummy pork tacos last week.
I was researching different things to do with the porky goodness, when I ventured to remove it from the fridge. It had gone bad. I didn’t realize that pork could go bad so quickly. I was used to chicken, which you can put in the fridge for a week and it’s ok. But, this huge hunk of pork was not ok. I had to throw it out.
This wouldn’t have been such a huge problem if my dearest Kristin wasn’t coming over for dinner tonight!! So I ran to the store next door, which thankfully has really really ghetto pricing, and bought a pork loin roast. It was kind of fab. I used a combination of a Tyler Florence recipe and a Nigella Lawson recipe, because among other things, I’ve never cooked roast pork before. I had mixed Tyler’s rub before I bought the smaller roast, so I went for it, even though Tyler’s rub is for pork shoulder, which means tougher meat out of which one needs to coax juices. It had a lot of salt in it. So, I rubbed it all over the pork, and set it to marinate like Nigella and Tyler recommended. I roasted it according to Nigella’s instructions, although eventually I needed to pour some water into the roasting pan because things were getting a little dry. But in the end, it was pretty delicious and I’m sure that if I were to do something else, like butterfly it, rub the inside with flavored butter and herbs, and then tie it up and roast it with the butter stuff on the outside too, it’d be even better. The flavor didn’t appear to soak into the meat all that much. I didn’t slit the meat to allow the flavor to get in. I’m nto sure what the real issue was But basically, I’m ok with it. And we had mashed tatoes, and salad, and I got to see my girl for a while and talk. It was good.

Roast Pork a la Tyler and Nigella
Tyler Florence’s marinade:

4 pasted garlic cloves (I used my microplane)
A handful of oregano (I used parsley since I didn’t have oregano fresh) chopped up fine.
A tablespoon of salt for each pound of the meat.
A tablespoon of coarsely grated black pepper
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil (I used olive oil)

Nigella Lawson’s marinade:
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 pasted garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
6 bruised peppercorns
6 crumbled bay leaves

In both cases, you rub the marinade all over the meat, contain it, and leave it to sit for as long as you can. Tyler recommends cutting slits about an inch deep into the fatty part of your pork shoulder, and I would also recommend doing this if you’ve got a pork loin roast, to let the flavors get more inside the meat. It was probably too salty, although all the salt created much juiciness. Pork just doesn’t really taste like much without some flavorant.

So once the marinating was done, I used Nigella’s roasting method, although I have a bone to pick with it.
She says to slice up 1 onion and put it in the bottom of the roasting pan, and then put 10 bay leaves on top of the onion, and the pork on top of that. Then, you roast for an hour and 45 minutes, at 400 degrees, basting regularly with “pan juices”.
#1 – my onion burned up.
#2 – I had no pan juices. Maybe this is a result of the salty marinade crust thing. Maybe I should have added 3 more tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. But there was nothing with which to baste this sucker. So I had to just pour in some water eventually, to keep the onions fron burning so badly that they set off my smoke alarm or made the porky goodness taste like burning. I welcome any and all input for why the hell this happened.

Regardless, once the pork came out an hour and a half later, it was juicy and tender and the juices ran out and created a lovely little jus thingie that I spooned over the pork and the mashed potatoes to feed my hungry friend and my love.
And now I’ve said good night to my friend, and taken out the smelly trash. My fridge no longer stinks, and I’m much happier about all the rest of this stuff. Now…. to bed, and byebye till tomorrow!!!

In which I win

Posted: November 15th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Bake-zilla, Johanna | 1 Comment »

So I just created a recipe. Like, a muffin recipe. I worked it out in my own little brain and I made it and it’s pretty darn delicious.
Shock. Awe. Amazement.

Apple Pecan Muffins, with a Salted Caramel Drizzle.

they didn’t come out perfectly. They’re a bit moister than I’d like, although that can be adjusted either by baking longer or by adding a touch more flours. I’m pretty confident. Plus, I could have created a drier applesauce by not ignoring the author’s indications regarding the right amount of water to go into the saucepan with the apples. I need to not get over-confident. I need to remember that I don’t know how to intuitively make everything. Like applesauce. Also, I should probably research apples to see which ones hang onto themselves a little bit better while cooking, because McIntosh and Gala are went to mush. And I probably should have held out a little longer while making the caramel drizzle. I pulled it before it got the right color, so it just looks shiny atop the muffins, instead of caramel-y. But…. next time.
Howevs. Here is my recipe. Tweak if desired.

Step 1. Applesauce
I borrowed the particulars of this from the recipe in Bon Appetit for Chaussons aux Pommes (apple turnovers).
4 apples. I used 2 Gala and 2 McIntosh, feel free to pick your faves. Peel, core, and chop up into chunks. Put in a saucepot with 1/4cup of water. Bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer until the apples are soft. Mash them with a potato masher. Let the applesauce cool.

Step 2. Pecans
I like roasted pecans. So I put them on a cookie sheet, and toasted them up in a 350 oven for a few minutes, then reserved them and let them cool too.

Step 3. Muffins
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease your muffin cups.
Put the following in your mixer’s bowl:
1 3/4 cup applesauce
1 stick softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
Mix until everything is light and fluffy. If you have little bits of butter showing in the mixture, that’s ok too, I had that.
Once everything is incorporated, add 3 eggs, one at a time. This bit is very wet, and there will be batter flinging all around regardless of how careful you are. Accept it. Scrub your walls.

While the Butter/Applesauce/Sugar are mixing together, in a separate bowl, combine the following:
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix these to combine.

Once all the wet ingredients are combined, take your mixer bowl off the stand, grab a spatula, and start adding in the dry ingredients a little at a time. Don’t over-mix…. once you can’t see the flour in the batter anymore, add some more. When you can stand your spatula up in the batter and it doesn’t tip over, it’s done.
Add the chopped up pecans. I probably added about a cup.

Depending on the type of apples you used, you may not need all the flour, and that’s ok.
I used an ice cream scoop to get my batter into the muffin cups. These don’t rise that much, so you can fill the cups right up to the top. You can totally use the paper liners if you want to, but you don’t have to.

Bake them for 23 minutes, and then test by sticking a toothpick into the center of one. It probably won’t come out clean. These took around 25 minutes for me. Maybe longer. Keep testing and adding on a minute or two. I wasn’t watching the clock, sadly, as much as I was watching my caramel sauce. Cool them in the pans for about 10 minutes, and then take them out and cool them on a rack.

Step 5. Drizzle.
Make the Salted Caramel sauce:
1 cup of sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup.

Put those 3 into a pot, stir until the sugar is dissolved, and then cover and cook for 3 minutes.
Uncover and boil until the caramel is a golden amber color, shaking the pot to make sure it doesn’t burn. When it’s a golden amber color, remove it from the heat and amass the following ingredients:
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt.

After 30 seconds off the heat, add the cream to the caramel. This will bubble up, don’t be scared. Be brave. mix in the cream, then add the butter and salt. It’s delicious. Let it cool.

Once everything is cooled down, drizzle the caramel over the muffins (put the cooling rack over a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet) and let it sit for a few.

They’re so good. I’m pretty satisfied. And I see the potential and it’s infinitel I’m trying it with bananas and walnuts next. GET EXCITED!!!!

In which we light it up

Posted: November 15th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | No Comments »

It’s going to become a muffin situation in here tomorrow, which will carry through the week. Hopefully it’ll be a good one. I’ll be posting.
But tonight, I saw Quantum of Solace, which I recommend to everyone regardless of whether I know you or not. SEE THE MOVIE. It’s good. And Daniel Craig is beyond sexy. But that’s not the point of this blog.
I just roasted a pepper on my gas burner. It was a pretty amazing experience. It went so well that i’ll probably roast another one if we have pizza guests tomorrow like I’m hoping we will.
I put the pepper on the burner, directly on the gas element, and I turned it round and round. I think tomorrow I might want to broil it instead, but maybe not because I’m not sure I can get it close enough to the heat. I need to find the perfect set of tongs for htis – obviously metal would be ideal (no melting the head of hte tongs) but it gets hot so fast. Maybe metal heads and coated handle? Something?
Someone come up with an idea for me. Please.
For now, I’m going to rinse the skin off my pepper, chop it up, boil some spaghetti, and sautee some spinach in garlic and butter. Probably a shallot if we still have one. And then, I’m going to mix it all together with the spaghetti and add some romano and call it dinner. NOMMMM!!!

IN which we follow up

Posted: November 13th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 1 Comment »

Well. The taco soup is delish. I had some for lunch today. I’ve had more for dinner. I think I will second Leah’s potential for bathing in it.
However, I’m exhausted so I won’t be bathing in it tonight. This morning, I got up and baked muffins to bring in for the birthday breakfast we had for my boss. The muffins were, luckily, a HUGE hit. So huge that I had to pass on the recipe to one of hte other managers. She is a huge fan of these things. My boss literally called me into her office to write the recipe down for her friend (the other manager). She then asked me where the recipe came from. The truth is, I kind of made it up. I took a banana bread recipe, and tweaked it around and swapped the bananas for pumpkin, and the walnuts for chocolate chips, and messed with the seasonings, and the amount of flour and….. basically I created a recipe. I’m kind of proud. I’ll post it later, but right now, I’m going to bed because I am le tired. Or at least, going to read “How to Eat” by Nigella in bed. :)

In which we’re cutting it close

Posted: November 13th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 2 Comments »

Ok. So we just got back in from a movie (JCVD) and it’s after 11 and I have to get up at 5:30 to make pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for work tomorrow because it’s my boss’s birthday.
But I need to post.

I’m making Leah’s Taco Soup tonight. Here is the recipe, in her own words. I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you how it went.

If I could only have one meal for the rest of my life, it would probably be this. I would consider bathing in it. I call it “taco soup” but it is probably closer to a chili. It makes A LOT. I usually end up snacking on it all weekend and freezing leftovers. It takes about 10 minutes to make—the longest part is cooking the meat. The rest is dumping cans in a pot. Oh man, I think I will make this on Saturday!

Leah’s “Taco Soup”

1 lb ground beef (I use turkey. Tastes the same!)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can Ro-Tel
1 can kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can hominy (tastes like little cornbread balls in the soup!)
1 pkg taco seasoning dry mix
1 pkg Hidden Valley Ranch dressing dry mix

Brown the meet. Pour off the grease. Add chopped onion and cook on medium heat until tender or 5 minutes. Add all the cans (do not drain. You want the juices.) Add taco seasoning and ranch dressing mix. It’s ready to eat but if you let it simmer 20-30 minutes it’s even tastier!
Serve with your favorite toppings. Good with cornbread. We like fritos, chopped onion and shredded cheese. I add a few dashes of hot sauce if I’m feeling feisty.

Editor’s note — I have no idea what Ro-Tel is. I had to Google it, and I couldn’t find it at Whole Foods or on Fresh Direct. But Muir Glen makes fire roasted diced tomatoes wtih chipotle peppers, and I feel like that’s close enough.

The onions just went in. For the first time ever, I’m not salting, because I know that canned beans and stuff are very salty. SO, I’ll tell you about the deliciousness as soon as I can keep my eyes open long enough to post it tomorrow. :)

In which the cupcakes steal the show.

Posted: November 11th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 3 Comments »

So tonight for dinner, I made Musty Crusty chicken, and Wild Rice risotto. The risotto was a little weird because despite my most nurturing efforts, wild rice has a harder bran coating, or whatever, and therefore doesn’t absorb stock the way that arborio does. So…. I had to improvise, and pour in a few ladles of stock, cover the pan, and let it bubble for a few, then come back to it and repeat. It took a darn long time. And yet, it was pretty good. It just doesn’t get soft the way I want it to. Ever.

But the real star of tonight’s show was this delicious recipe for Chocolate cupcakes with a Salted Caramel frosting.
I of course messed around, and made a different chocolate cake recipe, because I didn’t have the amount of butter necessary for her cake recipe. And I didn’t make the same frosting recipe (not the caramel. I followed the caramel recipe exaclty) because I didn’t want to use 2 sticks of butter AND a package of cream cheese to frost cupcakes that just Jesse and I were going to be eating. That seems a bit rich.
So I took a page from Half-Assed Kitchen’s book and made babycakes (mini cupcakes), because I call Jesse Babycakes.
These took ages. I always am wary of making cupcakes, because they always take for darn ever. You have to bake them, and because I only have 1 mini pan, you have to do the shuffling act and bake the batter in waves. And then you have to let them cool. And then you have to make the icing. And then once the icing sets up, you have to ice the cuppycakes.
It’s so much work. And, I’ll admit this freely, I always want the cupcakes a lot more when I start baking them than by the time I finish. But, regardless, Jesse wanted these cupcakes and I wanted to try and make caramel, and eat cupcakes, so cupcakes were made.

They’re good. The frosting is pretty good, but I think that I need to keep more of the caramel sauce for the frosting next time. Basically…. it’s good and there’s room for improvement.

Also…. beware. Salted Caramel sauce is going to be playing into my daily life. Everywhere. Any chance I get. Ice cream. Brownies. Toast. Get excited!!

Until tomorrow…..

Lunchtime Links

Posted: November 11th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna, lunchtime links | 2 Comments »

Hello there, readership.

I decided that since I usually spend my lunch hour in the pursuit of left overs and, I would today post a few links to food blogs that I thoroughly enjoy.

Feast away::
The Half-Assed Kitchen. Perfect for me, my life, and my readership. She’s smart, and not too fussy. It’s awesome.

Also, this post from Orangette (does anyone NOT read this girl???) is pretty much making me wish it was still tomato season. Does anyone have a hothouse where they can give me a few tomatoes??? Anyone??? ….. I thought not. Anyways — Molly got it from Luisa at the Wednesday Chef, but since it’s already linked, I don’t have to do the double linking thing. Whew.

This isn’t actually food related, but I love the pictures of this woman’s fridge, and wish it were my own. I wish I was this well-prepared, not to mention that Jesse could y’know, make duck confit and that I had enough zipbags and whatnot to make and freeze that much stock, etc.

That’s all I’ve got for today, but I think that’s pretty good for a new section.
Check back sometime next week for another edition of Lunchtime Links!!

In which we mix it up

Posted: November 10th, 2008 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | No Comments »

Ok, so part of the beauty of havving a written-down, planned-out menu is that you don’t have to think about what you want for dinner. You thought about that a few days ago. You have bigger things to think about. Like…. knitting fuzzy slipper socks for a friend who needs some warmth and love right now. Or building a website. Or thinking up Christmas gifts. Seriously. Better things. Bigger things.

But this week, we kind of lightened up on the whole “weekly menu” thing. We made it on the fly while trying to get our order in before 11pm on Thursday night. I didn’t write it down, although I have a pretty good idea of what was supposed to be on it. Burgers Friday, Pork tacos Saturday, Bleu-cheese Stuffed chicken Sunday…. after that, the dishes were sort of malleable and I’m not sure exactly which one was supposed to go with what day. So tonight I gave Jesse a rundown of the choices, and his pick for tonight was macaroni and cheese. Smart boy.
Tonight’s roni featured extra sharp New York cheddar, and Cave aged gruyere. Cavatappi pasta.
I learned some things from this roni. I learned that I’m unsure as to the nature of such a strong gruyere and such a strong cheddar dancing together. I’m not sure if it’s exactly a happy partnership. I learned that Cavatappi is my new favorite pasta for cheese sauces…. because they’re big thick hollow corkscrews, so sometimes you’ll get a noodle that’s covered in AND filled with cheese sauce….. and it’s amazing to have the cheese sauce squeeesh out when you bite. I learned that the Romano cheese I used as the top crust cheese is exactly the kind I should always be using. I learned that Jesse will go out and buy flour for me if I realize right when I should be adding it to the pancetta/shallots to make the roux….. that I’m all out of it.
I think I need to work more on the cheese partnership. Maybe a milder cheddar, or not so strong a Gruyere. Maybe.

It was good though, and now I have to go pick up the needles and get to knittin. But I wanted to keep up. I wanted to not blow the Na No Blo Po Mo Fa So La Ti Do or whatever the acronym is.

So now, time to “click the pricks”…. I love old Scottish sayings!!!! :)