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

It’s AlIIIIIIIIIIIIVEEEEE

Posted: October 29th, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Alex Runs Joh Cooks, Chicken, Johanna, Silliness, vegetarian | 2 Comments »

Hello friends! As you may have noticed over the past week, PGUK has had some serious troubles. Most of them stemming from server issues.

However!!! We are back, live, and with no lost content! So never fear, your favorite lady bloggers (we ARE your favorites, right?????) can get back to their rigorous cooking-and-eating schedule (like we ever got off it) and fill you in on every bit of it!

For now, I’ll leave you wtih a preview of what’s coming from me on PG:

Alex Runs, Joh Cooks is BACK with 3 protein-packed recipes – spoiler alert: 1 of them is FRENCH!!
Poulet Provencal, another AMAZING recipe from the March 2008 Gourmet Magazine
Apple. Cider. DONUTS
The most outstanding Mushroom Risotto you’ve ever eaten.
An all-new take on Eggplant Parm

And much, MUCH MORE!!!

Get excited, my friends. Very very excited. :)


A giant interweb dinner party

Posted: October 14th, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Chicken, Johanna, delish, slow but worth it | 26 Comments »

The following is a very formative recipe for me.
Like many cooking stories that begin this way, this recipe involves leeks. It also, luckily, involves Gourmet Magazine. AND, it has a past.
When I was just starting out with this blog, this was the first recipe I ever cooked from Gourmet. So for A Mingling of Tastes’ Worldwide Gourmet Dinner Party, I had to take it on again.

Gourmet March 2008 — Chicken in Riesling

ChickyChickyBrowning

1 whole chicken’s worth of parts sprinkled with salt and pepper, and browned (in batches) in a combination of butter and olive oil.

4 medium (ok 2 HUGE) leeksEverybody in!

2 HUGE leeks chopped, along with 1 shallot, browned in butter. The browned chicken pieces, as well as any juices accumulated on the plate, added back into the Le Creuset with the leeks.
Before the Braise

4 medium (ok, 2 HUGE) carrots are cut up and added into the casserole, along with a cup of Riesling. And here is where I had the problem a year and a half ago, and where I had the problem again tonight. The next instruction tells you to boil until the liquid is reduced by half …. 3-5 minutes.
I can confirm for you that after boiling the hell out of the dish for at least 10 minutes, the liquid level had INCREASED rather than reduced by half. This is frustrating to me.

Regardless, the chicken, carrots, wine, and leeks went into the oven to braise, and when they came out, they met their old friend “heavy cream”, and became…. Chicken in riesling.
The big reveal

The things that amazed me about this recipe last time around could be summed up in this phrase: “Basically, I was proud that my first foray into nice cooking had produced something so…. nice.”

That’s the thing. That’s what I will miss about Gourmet. Their recipes were perfect. And they made me confident. I was brave. Even though I initially was intimidated by all the techniques involved, when I approached this dish last night I was confident. I knew I could do this dish. And I was not disappointed. It was the perfect thing.

Cheers, Gourmet. You always knew the perfect thing. And this week, I’ll be cooking a few more, to send you off in style.


An open letter to Conde Nast

Posted: October 5th, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 20 Comments »

If you have been watching Twitter at all today, you have heard the news: Gourmet Magazine is being shut down by Conde Nast. Personally, I think this is a huge mistake.

While there have been many food magazines in my life since I started cooking, I have always loved Gourmet. Everyday with Rachael Ray is flashier, Bon Apetit has quicker recipes, Cooking Light might keep us from all getting heart disease, and Saveur is the fanciest stuff around. But in the end, the one I come back to time and again is Gourmet. I trust Editor-In-Chief Ruth Reichl to draw on her time as a restaurant critic when profiling and selecting the best restaurants of the year. I expect her to infuse every page with her unique culinary sensibilities and education. I have never imagined anything other than that she will provide the best possible issue based on whatever theme the month provides.

In particular, I look forward to Gourmet’s Thanksgiving issues. As a cook and a lover of feeding people, I have many dreams about the day that I cook my own Thanksgiving dinner for my family. In all of those daydreams, I make my Thanksgiving menu from an amalgam of favorite recipes culled from Gourmet’s November issues. Items such as this gorgeous turkey, this inspired take on an apple pie and of course, this answer to butternut squash mashed with brown sugar and maple syrup. I imagined tearing out and including new favorites, making a whole scrapbook of Thanksgiving recipes, all from Gourmet’s amazing wealth of ideas.
And now…. there will be no more. No more reading Francis Lam’s excellent food writing, although luckily, I can still follow him on Twitter. No more beautiful regional profiles and celebrations, like January 2008’s Southern Food Issue.

Gourmet magazine helps me love food. Bon Apetit and Every Day with Rachael Ray help me bring it into my kitchen, show me stuff I can make and things I can whip up with 20 minutes and 5 ingredients, but they’re not special. They’re just not Gourmet. I read Gourmet for the beautiful things, the aspirational recipes. The dinner parties and glamorous events. In a world full of people encouraging you to Semi-Home-Make things, to put together dinner in 30-Minutes, and asking us to replace sugar with applesauce in baked goods…. don’t we deserve a magazine that shows us that it’s ok to use a ton of butter, or spend 3 hours on dinner, or do something absolutely amazing, and marvel in the praise it brings you?

In the end, cooking is always a little amazing, and more than any magazine, Gourmet understood that, while still appreciating the ….. less fancy elements.

In conclusion…. SAVE GOURMET!!!!


Alone in the kitchen

Posted: October 1st, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 18 Comments »

Laurie Colwin has an essay in Home Cooking about cooking for one. It’s titled, “Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant”. In it, she details all the crazy things that she ate when she lived in her studio apartment in the Village. She only had a glorified hot plate, and a mini-fridge, no kitchen sink, so she made a lot of soup, and a crap-ton of eggplant. She muses on cooking for one, and what people actually eat when they’re alone.

It’s been at least 2 years since I’ve been faced with truly cooking for one. I never do it. Suddenly, over this past weekend, I was faced with the prospect of cooking for one, for 3 whole days.

Jesse was called away to Tulsa, on a fambly emergency. He left painfully early Saturday morning, and I was left to my own devices. Faced with the concept at 5am, I quickly decided that rather than cook myself something, I’d settle for a cup of cold coffee, and a bowl of left-over Chickpea-Leek soup. Then, Bakezilla rescued me from having to try and fend for myself for dinner, by inviting me over and plying me with wine and pumpkin desserts. Sunday and Monday were kind of sad, food-wise. I’m out of the habit of making food for one, as evidenced by the fact that the absolutely BITCHIN home fries I made for myself on Monday night were far too much for just me. Expect a recipe soon, although as a teaser, let me mention that it involves 1 baked potato, 1 red bell pepper, 1/3 of an onion, and….. BUTTERNUT SQUASH! It is joy. On a plate. Get excited.

I worked my way through Caccio e Pepe, pasta with chickpeas, and Spicy Sesame Noodles in Broth, home fries with fried eggs, and the rest of the soup. And finally, Jesse came home on Tuesday to his very late birthday dinner, and his little birthday cake.

For me, it’s nicer to know that there’s a whole pork roast in the oven, and mashed potatoes and full-sized cake layers, and all sorts of things meant for more than just one. Besides, have you ever tried making bolognese for one? I mean, steaming a bit of broccoli rabe, while boiling some noodles (you DO have a combination saucepot-steamer, right?) and mixing up a soy-sriracha-sesame oil dressing is all well and good, but you shouldn’t eat that 3 nights a week, or you’ll have hypertension and bags under your eyes.

So find somebody, and cook for more. Or, get some really, REALLY sturdy, label-friendly tupperware. :)
Tell me, friends…. what do you eat when it’s just you? What’s your eggplant? Can of cannelini beans with Italian dressing? Tons and tons of Toast? Spaghetti with chili sauce? Spill it – if character is what you do when nobody’s watching, culinary character is what you EAT when nobody’s watching.

Mine? Cold leftovers of any type. Mashed potatoes. Polenta. Steamed greens. Fried chicken. Doesn’t matter. Cold left-overs all the way.
Or chickpeas out of the can.
Or Cannelini beans with vinaigrette. I’ll admit, that one’s all me.