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

Blogging is FUNdamental

Posted: January 31st, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 21 Comments »

Here are some fun facts about me, for post # 98.

  • I have this interesting habit of playing pretend. If I really want a certain ingredient, like frozen broccoli, but I have another frozen vegetable instead, I will cook in the same manner, using the other frozen veg, and firmly pretending that the other frozen veg is broccoli. I’m always a little surprised when I bite into my food and it’s NOT what I expected, but since I was ignoring the facts all along, I get what I deserve.
    • Case in point: The other night I tried to make a variation on my Auntie Beth’s yummy broccoli-rice casserole. It had to be a variation because it was 10 pm and I didn’t have basically any of the ingredients, except rice. So I used my rice cooker and the handy steamer attachment to cook the rice and defrost some frozen spinach, I reduced some milk and a splash of chicken broth, seasoned it with salt, pepper, cumin, and a teeny bit of nutmeg, and shredded the last of my yummy leerdamer cheese. I put some parmesan into the milk sauce, mixed the rice, spinach, and Leerdamer together, poured the milk sauce over, and topped it with parm and breadcrumbs. Baked at 400 for 20 minutes.

    The whole time, I was imagining that my frozen spinach was, in fact, frozen broccoli. I was surprised when it wasn’t. Even though I encountered its non-broccoli-ness every step of the way. But it was tasty. And bonus points for being an easily identifiable foodstuff: a casserole.

  • I often say in my job that the level of work I’ve put in has earned me a cheeseburger. Or, “I deserve a cheeseburger”. I really believe that payment in cheeseburger would work for me as a bonus incentive. I’m not saying I earned the calories. I’m not saying anything about how food can be earned in the psychological sense. I mean in the strictest physical sense, working till 8pm two nights in a row earns me a cheeseburger, and somebody needs to get on that.
    • Case in point: Last night, Jesse and I went to Bonnie’s, which is Jesse’s burger place from back when he used to live in the neighborhood. My burger place is DuMont Burger, and we are both fiercely loyal. Like, even though Bonnie’s is less fancy and has quicker service and more places to sit, I will always prefer a DuMont burger. ALWAYS. Even if Bonnie’s is just as good. So last night, sicne Bonnie’s is closer to our apartment, and DuMont Burger is in Williamsburg which is close to nothing unless you live IN Williamsburg….we went to Bonnie’s after I got out of work at 8pm, and had cheeseburgers. And for the first time in history. Seriously. I finished my entire cheeseburger and the majority of my fries. I would have eaten them all if Jesse hadn’t been filching them off my plate, allegedly to scoop up the last of the amazing spicy mayo/french fry sauce they have. It was brilliant. It was delicious. When I took the first bite, I realized that I really, truly HAD earned a cheeseburger. Nom.

That’s enough fun facts for now. I’ll be back some other time, possibly tonight, with more fun and food.
Inching our way to the big 1-double-oh!!

Full disclosure part deux

Posted: January 28th, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 22 Comments »

I’m not, honestly, 100% sure what I just ate for dinner. I mean, I know what the elements of the food were. I know what went into my food, so empirically, I do know what I ate for dinner.

But knowing what went INTO a dish isn’t the same as knowing what the dish……is.
Let me explain, before you all stop reading.

Last night, Jesse and I went out for Restaurant week. I think I’ve written about restaurant week before, but in case you’re just picking me up, here’s the jist: NYC loves their restaurants. New York knows that restaurants are expensive. So, to thank the New York faithful who continue to pay tons of money for the pleasure of eating fancy food, the New York restaurants pick a 12-day period in January, and again at the end of July, where fancy famous restaurants offer fixed-price 3-course menus at lunch and dinner.
In the past, we have gone to Steak Frites, Aspen, and Butter. This year, we went to Zoe. It was delicious. I need to give this place its own blog, but regardles, I have to discuss the mussels that I had as a starter. They were steamed in a red curry coconut broth. The broth would have been a fabulous soup all on its own. In fact, when I replicate it, I will serve it with rice and make it a soup. I will make it soup without the mussels. The coconut milk and red curry paste were so perfect, and I’ve only ever had mussels steamed in white wine, so it was pretty different for me. But it was delicious. I would have eaten just the mussels all night. But, fortunately, we also had delicious entrees and paradigm-shifting desserts. Life is good.

However, Jesse has either come down with a stomach bug, or contracted a mild something-or-other from the restaurant. So he is not eating. I therefore had to fend for myself.
As I’ve previously stated, I’m not big on cooking for one. Unless that one is Jesse, or someone else that I love. I’m not so good at cooking for just me. I’ll usually just make a big plate of spinach and call it a salad, or scramble an egg, or make a grilled cheese if I’m feeling fancy. I’m clearly not very good at taking care of myself. But, tonight I was also starving, and basically needed some food.

So I made…. something.
I started out simple. Hashbrowns. Basically an excuse to eat 2 leetle red potatoes – I have no shame.

Then, I steamed the left-overs of a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables, and melted some butter in a frying pan. I threw 1/4 of a cup of rice in, stired it around a bit, and then added a can of Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles. I added about half a cup of chicken stock, and let it simmer away. I added probably another half-cup of chicken stock over the cooking, until the rice was cooked. Then I stirred in the steamed formerly-frozen veggies, and a whole ton of shredded “taco” cheese.
I put a couple fried eggs and some more cheese on top. I ate it. It was yummy. It wasn’t a casserole. With beans it could have been huevos rancheros sans tortillas. With chicken, and baked, it would have been a casserole. My original idea was to make it a scramble, but we only had 2 eggs and that would have been dwarfed by the quantity of other stuff.
I’m going to be eating it tomorrow for lunch, hopefully.

Hopefully Jesse will be feeling better by tomorrow. Because I don’t like ie when my love is sick. And of course I don’t like cooking for one.

Woohoo!!! Celebrate!!

Posted: January 24th, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 14 Comments »

This is my 100th post.
Just so we’re clear on this. That’s huge. Because that means that roughly every 3-4 days since I started this blog, I’ve posted food talkings or food ramblings or recipes. That’s a lot more frequently than I talk to my mom, a lot more frequently than I hang out with most of my friends, a lot more frequently than I keep track of putting my clothes away after work.

In celebration:
No, I did not take this in a chip shop. Not even in Chip Shop. This was taken in my own apartment, on my plate, a picture of fish, and chips, that I cooked in my kitchen.
Trust me when I say this. It is worth the effort. It is worth the lingering scent of frying. It is worth the small grease burns I received. The only way it would have been better is if I had let it drain properly, possibly if I had floured before dredging. But basically…. this was fantastic. Delicious. Frying potatoes is worth the time. Frying the fish is absolutely fantastic. The recipe I used wasn’t really a recipe. I used 2 cups of flour, salt, pepper, a beer, and buttermilk. Basically, I poured in the beer, the batter looked like a dough, so I added buttermilk until it looked like thin pancake batter. Then, I dunked the tilapia filets, and dropped then in some 375-degree vegetable oil until they were golden brown. About 5 minutes. Tilapia cooks quickly. It’s delicious.
The potatoes I sliced about a quarter-inch thick, and then cut them into fries. I fried them for 10 minutes, salted them, and left them to drain on a sheet of paper bag in the oven in a 225 degree oven afterwords.
The whole thing was dleicious with some HP Brown sauce and another Toasted Lager or two. The grease hangover will come. But for now… I am totally happy that I undertook this as my hundredth post.
Tonight, it will be fried chicken. NOT deep-fried. Just my traditional way. Maybe for post 101, I’ll photograph the whole process, so you can see what I do and why my fried chicken is so good that my Oklahoma-born boyfriend requests it and calls it the best he’s ever had. (He could be just being nice, but he’s not like that. Seriously.)
Stay tuned!!

*EDIT* Blogger lied. This is not my 100th post, but my 96th post. Harrumph. Apparently, they count “drafts” as “posts”. Even the abandoned ones that are nothing more than a title. So… I lied. But not really. We’ll just celebrate again on my ACTUAL 100th post. So there!!

The inevitable slowdown

Posted: January 22nd, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 28 Comments »

This week, I have been…. uninspired. To say the least. I’ve cooked. I’ve done things. The recipes are mostly out of books. I’m just… not wowed lately.
On Monday, Fresh Direct stretched their delivery policies to the limit. Saying that they will deliver between 8 and 10 has meant in my experience, that they’re coming around 8:30, 9:00 latest. This particular Monday, Fresh Direct’s drivers arrived at, no joking, 9:57pm. Amazing.
So once we got the groceries, and tucked them away, I set about making dinner. Sauteed turkey cutlets marinated in lemon juice and herbs, and sauteed green beans.
The turkey was pretty straightforward – honestly, it was 2 lemons’ worth of juice, some thyme and sage, salt, and pepper, marinated for 10 minutes and then sauteed in olive oil.
As I’ve mentioned, I have a….problem with overcooked green beans. So I blanched them in salt water, shocked them in ice water, and then sauteed them in butter with lemon zest, salt and pepper.
The turkey breasts got to rest while I made a quick sauce of chicken stock, cream, and a little bit of butter. It was pretty tasty, especially a couple days later on a bed of spinach cold at lunchtime.

On Tuesday, we had miniature meatloaves with gorgonzola gravy, and proscuitto smashed potatoes. I was not wowed by this meal. From now on, I will make my own meatloaf, as opposed to following Rachael Ray’s recipes. Because this meatloaf was a lot like a hamburger and not much like meatloaf. It was very intensive and dirtied a lot of pots. I would recommend that if you make this, do not make 4 mini meatloaves, sear them, and then bake it. Make 1 big meatloaf and bake it. It won’t be a 30-minute meal, but it’ll be better. Then you’ll only dirty 1 frying pan, 1 saucepot, and 1 stock pot for the potatoes, and 1 cookie sheet for the meatloaf.

Oy. The meatloaves tasted a bit like hamburgers, only y’know…. made of veal and sirloin…. and drowned in a gravy that didn’t really have enough time to develop any flavor. This is a common complaint with Rachael’s recipes. I think this one is better done by oneself. Don’t follow Rachael’s recipe 100% if you’re making this. Use it as a guideline, and season. seriously.

Wednesday, yesterday, I made Baked Eggs with Bacon and Tomato Bread Salad.
This is another Rachael Recipe, but this one was pretty good. I tried to beef it up, so to speak, because I didn’t have a microwave to defrost the package of frozen spinach. So I added some sliced mushrooms, half an onion, and a couple garlic cloves to a skillet. When they were all nicely sauteed and stuff, I added fresh spinach, and some proscuitto shredded up. That all sauteed for a bit, before adding some chicken stock and cream. However, the double bulk of frozen spinach would definitely have soaked up more of the stock/cream than my 5-ounce package of fresh spinach did. Then, that mixture was seasoned (of course) and spooned into 2 small oval casserole dishes that will someday be used for creme brulee…. 2 eggs got cracked into each dish, the whole thing got covered in cheese, and it was baked for about 12 minutes in a 400-degree oven.

The salad was amazing. A couple slices of bacon, and some proscuitto, sauteed until crispy. 4 slices of bread, toasted up and then rubbed wtih a garlic clove and buttered. Then, cubed up, tossed with halved cherry tomatoes. The bacon drained and a quarter of an onion sauteed in the bacon grease and a little olive oil. Bacon tossed with the tomatoes and bread chunks. 2 tablespoons of balsamic went into the skillet with the onion and bacon grease. Then, a lot of black pepper and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
The dressing got thrown into the bowl with the bread, bacon, and tomatoes… NOM!!!

Now tonight, I think we’re having pasta with burst cherry tomatoes, green beans, and garlic. Tomorrow, Fish & Chips. Saturday, Fried chicken. CHECKIT!!

Here we are again!

Posted: January 18th, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 23 Comments »

Last night, I had cooking school!
Marla came over and I taught her to make Walnut Crusted Chicken, which I cooked for her almost a year ago now. Instead of the Goat cheese mashed potatoes I made last time, I used gorgonzola. Otherwise, incredibly similar.

We were incredibly classy, drank some Bud Light, and played a little Rock Band after the flour flew and the chicken cooked. :) It was a lovely night, and now Marla can cook this dish for several of her friends who are excited about it. I’m glad to hear that people are excited about Marla’s explanation of my food!

Tonight, we used up the left-over walnut chicken breast, as well as a bigol’ can of crushed tomatoes that was in the cabinet from last week’s Tortilla Soup situation. I made a simple tomato sauce — 3 garlic cloves, 1 shallot, the can of crushed fire roasted tomatoes, salt, pepper, and a teaspoon of sugar. I boiled some whole wheat pasta (Barilla. It. is. deeeelicious.) and when the sauce was all bubbly and yummy, I threw the cut-up chicken in. When the pasta was done, I drained it and mixed it in with the sauce, chicken, and some cheese. I’ve suddenly learned how to take decent photos of my food with a crappy camera, so we’ll see more photos with some actual quality. Get excited!!

Full disclosure

Posted: January 16th, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 33 Comments »

I like cake batter more than I like cake. I like it a hell of a lot better than I like cupcakes. I’d rather just take the cake batter, and a spoon, and go to town. That being said….
these ones were pretty good, if I do say so myself. And oh-so-simple. Yellow cake, and, I’ll admit it, Chocolate Fun-Fetti icing.
Enjoy. :)

I make good

Posted: January 14th, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 28 Comments »

Mid week post. Here we go.
I love planning recipes. I love figuring out what we’re going to eat. I love sitting with Jesse and talking about the week’s food, because he has some interesting ideas about flavor, about texture, about food in general. The last time we ordered groceries, Jesse decided that we should have Chicken Tortilla Soup. Mind you, he had never consumed said dish, nor had he any idea what was in said dish. But he requested it. And I live to serve. OR at least, to come up with 7+ meals a grocery trip.

Sunday, January 11
So Sunday, it was Chicken Tortilla Soup. I used a recipe that I found on Epicurious — which reminds me, if you’re not a member of Epicurious, shame on you. Shame shame shame. Join now. NOW.
I didn’t really do the recipe the way it said to. I didn’t want to buy chiles. I didn’t want to buy fresh tomatoes. I don’t know what on earth epazote is. So…. I went old school. I bought canned fire-roasted tomatoes with diced green chiles (I suppose this would be the spot for Ro-Tel?), I used homemade chicken stock, I used parsley, and I used tortilla chips. I’m a rebel. I’m a half-asser. I’m a crazy lady. You love it.
I did some shoddy math and I’ll admit that. I used a whole 28-ounce can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes. AND a 15-ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles. You should use JUST 1 15-ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles (or Ro-Tel) and NO BIG CANS. So I just mixed together the cans of tomatoes with the appropriate amount of other ingredients (couple-two-tree big sprigs of parsley instead of whatever epazote is) and let it go. I crumbled in tortilla chips. I used the blender. I used my own stock instead of stock-in-a-box but you could totally use the boxed. I just happened to have a big orange bowl of it in the fridge.
I don’t know what cooking the tomato mixture in the oil did for it. But I fully respect that it was supposed to do something. In the end, it was way more tomatoey than it was, I feel, supposed to be. But I still enjoyed it. Garnished with chopped avocado, shredded cheese, and tortilla-chip crumbs, and served with cheesey biscuits, it was ….. well…. nom.

Monday, January 12
This was risotto night. As we all know, I love making risotto. I will put anything in a risotto that I can think of. Monday, it was beef broth (boullion cubes…. don’t judge), marsala, red chard, sauteed mushrooms, cannelini beans, and gorgonzola. It was amazing. I didn’t take a picture. I was too busy eating. I’m sorry.

Tuesday, January 13
Again, I’m sorry, no photo. Quiche. Pie crust was made in my new food pro from a few entries back, and I love it. So easy. So fast. So wonderful. My favorite thing about pie, or quiche, or tart, is always the crust. This crust was lovely. The filling was not my best, but by far not the worst. Caramelized onions, thick-sliced rind-on bacon, swiss cheese, egg, cream, parsley. Pretty good. Even better with HP Brown Sauce the next day. No lie.

Wednesday, January 14
There’s some saying that necessity is the mother of invention, and invention is the necessity of mothers. Invention is also the necessity of girls who have nearly-empty fridges and don’t want to have “Mus-go” night (when my mom would have left-overs for dinner, she called it mus-go night, becuase everything must go). So… as any 20-something would, I reached for the peanut butter. For my birthday last year, my mom got me a 6-pack of PeanutButter & Co.’s gourmet peanut butters. One of them, which we never opened, was their “The Heat Is On” — spicy peanut butter. So tonight I made spicy peanut-garlic noodles. I boiled roughly 3/4 of a pound of whole-wheat spaghetti, and minced 3 cloves of garlic. When the pasta was almost al dente, I sauteed the garlic in olive oil for a few minutes — 2 or 3 tops. I added the garlic to about 3/4 of a cup of the spicy peanut butter, which you can make by taking plain ol’ smooth peanut butter and adding hot sauce, chili powder, cumin, and red pepper flake to your taste. Then, I added a cup of the pasta water, and the drained pasta. I shredded in a few leftover baby yellow carrots, and called it dinner. :)
I know, it looks like beige pasta. It looks boring. I assure you, it’s not. It’s spicy and delicious and it’s almost like cold sesame noodles, which I (not-so-secretly) secretly love. Try this. Seriously. And bonus points for mixing your own spicy stuff with plain peanut butter, because then it’s exactly as you like it.
And we all love that!!

Technically, this is two posts in one.

Posted: January 11th, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 21 Comments »

So I missed 3 posts in one week, but not really. Y’see, nobody counts Mondays as posting days — especially not the first Monday back to work after a long break. And anyways, Saturdays shouldn’t count, especially not this past Saturday, because I was cleaning. I did laundry. I picked up my floordrobe and put it all in the closet or the chest’o'drawers. That’s gotta count for something, even if it’s not actually blogging.
So this is the third post of last week, and the first post of this week. Sunday’s a good day to start things over, right?

Wednesday, January 7
Our friends Steele and Laura came over for dinner!! I got to use my food processor!! I got to make ORZO!!! And Steele brought some of his amazing HOMEBREW!!!
It was a good night.

For dinner, I cooked a variation on Chicken Kiev, and orzo with spinach pesto. Mmmm….
For the compound butter, instead of shallot, garlic, and thyme, I used minced onion that had been rehydrated (why chop an onion when you’re only using a tablespoon?), I think a small garlic clove, parsley, salt and pepper. And Butter. Obviously. I whirled it all around in my food processor Tuesday night, so that the flavors could get all comfy with each other overnight in the fridge. Then, I wrapped it up in parchment paper and let it sit.
Wednesday, Steele was incredibly helpful and smashed the crap out of the chicken breasts for me. I put 2 rounds of compound butter, a few spinach leaves, and some swiss cheese inside the chicken breast, and then rolled them up and proceeded as usual. They got to sit in the fridge for about an hour while we waited for Laura and Jesse to show up… which I think only helped things, because the recipe actually tells you to let them sit for about 4 hours after you’ve rolled them up – but who the hell has that kind of time??
They were baked as usual. WHile they were in the oven, I boiled the orzo and made the spinach pesto – about 2/3 of a bag of spinach, 1 garlic clove, some parsley, and salt, pepper, and cheese. Olive oil. A little lemon zest. WHIIRRRRLLL in the food-pro with some olive oil drizzled in until it was all delicious.

Thursday, January 8
Beer and pizza were required for watching the BCS title game — Steele’s homebrew, my cast-iron skillet pizza, and the Sooners….. sad. :(
The pizza, however, not sad. Delicious. I made my traditional pizza dough, no beer added because as much as Steele’s delicious beer makes me want to bake, I wanted to drink it, not waste it in pizza dough. So, the crust got some flavor punch instead from some garlic powder and dried parsley. After it rose, I heated up some olive oil with 3 cracked garlic cloves, some red-pepper flake, and more dried parsley.
Once I formed the dough in the skillet, I brushed the bottom crust with the oil (which I never remember is not a good idea unless you’re GRILLING the pizza – always makes it oily.), then topped it with sliced mozzarella, sliced tomato, spinach, thinly sliced shallot, more of the flavored oil, more torn mozzarella, and shredded parm. I baked it, sprinkling more parm over the crust at various intervals, and then…. finally…. nom!!!
Too bad the Sooners didn’t do as well as the pizza. There’s always next year, and at least I got to see the Sooner Schooner run around once! :)

Friday, January 9
This dinner was seriously whelming. So whelming, in fact, that I didn’t want to take photos. The side dish was delicious and I will definitely make it again, but the chicken part wasn’t as awesome as I was hoping.
I took 2 chicken breasts and seasoned them with salt and pepper, poultry seasoning. I cut pockets in both, and stuffed them with swiss cheese and sauteed mushrooms. I wrapped bacon around them at put them in to bake. Then, I sauteed some shallot and garlic, and added some chopped-up Red Chard. When it was all soft and darker green, I added about a cup of total liquid, which is too much. 1/3 of a cup of chicken broth, and 2/3 of water. I let that simmer away for a while, and then added about half a can of cannelini beans, with the liquid that was attached to the beans. And of course, salt, pepper, some red pepper flake. Usual suspects for when I make greens.
It simmered away until most of the liquid was reduced. I added about a tablespoon of butter and some grated parm, and served it with the chicken breasts.
I need to cut a bigger pocket in the chicken, I need a more flavorful filling, and I need to season more. Probably a stronger cheese. Maybe use skin-on chicken breasts if I can find them, I don’t know. Something to work on. Jesse just suggested butterflying the chicken breasts, then stuffing and folding them over like a book. This is a good plan. We won’t abandon this one just yet.

Saturday, January 10
The good old standby. RoniCheese. I used pre-shredded “seriously sharp” Cabot cheddar, and pre-shredded Kraft “nondescript swiss” cheese. I used tri-color radiatore. You may not know this about me, but I have some negative history with tri-color pasta. When I was in college, every time I’d buy the tri-color cheese tortellini from Barilla, I’d boil them in broth and eat them as a sort-of soup. And every time, the spinach ones would be undercooked. Spinach pasta and I have been at odds for a long time.
This time, however, the spinach pasta knew its role, and knew it was destined for some delicious cheese sauce bathing, so it cooked up properly and was pretty darn delicious. DuMont Burger uses radiatore pasta in their heavenly Mac & Cheese – the one that inspired me to make my own so I didn’t have to pay 14 dollars every time I wanted some…. which is all the time.
I think I prefer the old standard of Cavatappi pasta, gruyere and ementaller cheese — although the Leerdammer we had last time I made it was spectacular, so maybe we’ll go with that instead of ementaller in the future.
In any event. This one was pretty good, and I can’t complain. Especially because I’m about to go eat the left-overs. NOM!!!

Until next time. :)

A few thousand more words

Posted: January 6th, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 24 Comments »

I get bogged down with the pressure of blogging. I cook something. I take photos. I sit down or don’t sit down but suddenly somehow it’s 11:30, I’ve gotten completely wrapped up in a Law & Order, SVU mini-marathon on TBS or an hour of Diners, Drive-ins & Dives on Food Network, or the like…. and I’ve failed. Yet again. To blog.
Jesse offered me a less ambitious goal for the new year’s resolution. 3 blogs a week. I can handle 3 blogs a week. IT’s way less pressure than 7 blogs a week, way more likely I’ll keep up with it. If nothing else, I can do what I’m about to do and just post a crap-ton of pictures.

December 23. Big Plate o’Yum.
Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, exchanging Christmas gifts with Jesse, making candy, wrapping gifts, etc etc.

Where else would you find a young, pretty 20-something on the first Friday night of 2009??
Of Course!
In her apartment….

…baking cookies on a whim. Trust me on this one: don’t substitute shortening for butter. Even if you just bought butter and don’t want to use up 2 sticks in one go. Use the butter. Becuase shortening is easy, it’s friendly, it’s always at room temperature…. and 30 minutes later, your cookies are hard as a rock and you’re disappointed. Plus, they don’t get all brown and yummy.

Continuing the trend of ugly but delicious food….
Java pot roast from Crockpot365. If you try this recipe, definitely use salt. Season the meat. Don’t use balsamic. Just because it says “vinegar” on the bottle does NOT mean it’s the same thing. I’d recommend using wine if you don’t have Red Wine Vinegar. But the balsamic definitely left an extra *twang* that you’re not always looking for to go along with a half-package of cream cheese.

And then, there were two great loves in my life….
My brand new (ok, ok fine…. refurbished) Cuisinart Food Processor that also has a blender caraffe!!!!!! (the other one is Jesse, so we’re clear) which enabled me to make……
I am honestly ridiculously excited for the oncoming pesto-ness. Pesto with basil, with parsley, with spinach, arugula, piscachios, walnuts, hazlenuts, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes –joy. Plus, I can make milkshakes and my own mayonnaise (yes, I know using the blender would be cheating….) all sorts of amazing things.

Which brings us to tonight, when I made tomato soup and panini…all comforty-like…
True story: halving canned tomatoes and roasting them at 325 for half an hour ish really DOES make them taste better!! And if the sugar in the juices doesn’t burn your parchment paper, you could probably roast them longer and it would make it even better. Not that I know anything about the juices of the canned tomatoes burning the parchment paper. Nope, not this expert cook. certainly not.

Alright. Round one complete. Next time…. round 2. Hopefully figuring out how to post recipes and pictures without getting all bogged down and stuff. Or at least ingredients. Procedures….. something….. I hope. :)

Wrap up, move up, catch up.

Posted: January 2nd, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 1 Comment »

I love homey comfy foods. I’ve mentioned this before, I’m sure. But I do. I love foods that are rich and savory and simple and….delicious. They’re not always the most photogenic foods, although I will admit to the occasional beautiful roast chicken. But most of the things I love to make aren’t “money-shot” foods. They’re just darn tasty.
Recently, we’ve had a lot of that. A couple weeks ago, I made a bangin’ meatloaf. I used both beef and veal, sauteed carrot, celery, shallot and mushrooms, bisto, marsala wine, egg, crumbs, and parm. It was delicious. I’m not sure why it was so good…. but it was bangin’.
I made a roast chicken on Monday, one of the better ones I’ve ever made, and also one of the most winged ones ever — I literally had no idea what I was going to do with it until I started doing it. Luckily, the amount of Firefly Sweet-Tea vodka that Lyssa and I had consumed throughout the day did not compromise the quality of the chicken. I salted it inside and out, sprinkled pepper and poultry seasoning over the skin and smeared it with olive oil. I snuck a pat or two of butter under the skin on each side of the breast, and a bay leaf. I stuffed half an onion and half a lemon in the chicken’s cavity, and put it in my pre-heated casserole dish breast-side down, flipped it after 10 minutes, gave it another 10, and then added in some baby yellow carrots, turnip, onion, and garlic cloves that were all tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Marvelous. And it’s making a marvelous stock as well.
I also had a go at eggplant parm, which is funny because I’ve never cooked or eaten it before it my life. Luckily, parm is a pretty standard procedure, and baking breaded eggplant smothered in sauce and mozz was something I was down for.

Yesterday, to properly bring in the new year, I made New Years Lucky Lentils — in some traditions, specifically the ones I ascribe to since Jesse doesn’t like beans, lentils are eaten on New Year’s day, because they resemble coins and are said to bring luck and money. They were ugly. But delicious.
I’m sure that this is a lot like how to cook collards, but having never had collards, I had to go my way. So — an onion, and a rib of celery cooked until softened in some butter and olive oil. Then, garlic and proscuitto were added, while Red Chard was prepped. Salt was obviously added. The chard was sweated and softened and cooked down until it was time to add the lentils. These got sauteed sort of with the chard and the stuff, just generally trying to convince them to suck up some of the buttery vegetabl-y goodness. Then, about a quart of chicken stock and a couple red pepper flakes went in. It simmered for about 45 minutes, maybe an hour. Served over rice, it was delicious, but as I said before….ugly.

Tonight, it’s burgers. Tomorrow, soup I think, from the stock I’m making tonight. Also, we have pot roast, in the slow-cooker, on schedule.

I resolve to blog more, try new things, give you pictures.