Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie has always been one of my favorite things. When I was a kid, I felt the independence of making my own (in the microwave). When I started to actually cook, I began to experiment with making my own from scratch. I love the crust, so sometimes I will make a pie crust for the top. A few months ago, I bought some puff pastry and used that for the top, which was quite a revelation. Then most recently, my mom brought over some phyllo dough and we tried it with that. I love all three, so what ever you have on hand, give it a try. I usually save this one for when I have some leftover cooked chicken. It's also a GREAT use for that leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

All you need to do is chop some onion, garlic, celery, carrots & potatoes and saute them with some olive oil & salt & pepper. Chop up the chicken and add that to the pan. Throw in some green peas, chopped herbs and about a Tbs. of flour. Cook for a minute or so and then add a cup (or more depending on how much you are making) of chicken stock or water. Cook until thickened.

If you're using a pie crust, place bottom crust in pie pan. Pour chicken mixture into your pan & top with whichever crust you're going with. Brush top with oil or some cream to help it to brown in the oven. If you use a pie crust, poke a few holes in the top too.

Bake until golden. Beware of molten lava hot filling if you eat it too soon!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pecan Raisin Bread

My new issue of Bon Appetit came in the mail a couple of days ago and I came across this recipe adapted from Del Vecchio's Bakery. It was supposed to be Raisin, Walnut & Pecan Bread - but I didn't have walnuts, I did add a pinch of ground cardamom & cinnamon though, which made it really fragrant and snazzy. This is one of those breads that takes some planning though. As in, I started it before breakfast & it came out of the oven in time for a late dessert. But it was perfect for breakfast this morning, toasted & dripping with butter. Bread freaks of the world unite! This one is a keeper!!! Here's the recipe:

2 C. warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 1/2 Tbs. Active dry yeast or 3 1/4 oz. envelopes
1/4 C. vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
2 1/2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. salt
5 1/2 C. Bread Flour
2 C. raisins
1/2 C. Chopped Pecans + 1/2 C. chopped walnuts (or whatever - see pecan note above)
1/4 C. packed brown sugar
You really should consider the cinnamon & cardamom - a pinch of each, or more if you like

Mix water & yeast in a lg. bowl. Leave it for a bit - 10 minutes or so - till yeast dissolves & gets a bit foamy.
Stir in oil, sugar & salt.
Add the flour and stir together until "a shaggy dough forms" - that's what the recipe said & it does look a little scrappy at this stage.
Transfer to your flour dusted counter and knead for about 8 minutes till soft but not sticky.
Add raisins, nuts, etc & knead to blend. This was pretty strange, actually because it seems like it's never going to mix together. But it does. Especially after it raises.
Brush a large bowl with oil, plop in the dough, rub it around a bit, cover and refrigerate overnight - or in my case, I waited 8 hours. This also seemed counter intuitive - the bread recipes I've been making lately always raise on the counter. But I obeyed anyway, and it worked.
The recipe says to line a baking sheet with parchment, (which I never have, so I didn't - but if you have it, be my guest) and then shape the dough into 2 6 inch rounds and let rise in a warm place for two hours.
Preheat oven to 350 and then bake bread for about 45 minutes till it sounds hollow when you tap on it. Cool completely (or as completely as you can) before slicing.
You're gonna love this one!

Bacon & Egg Sandwich

Speaking of sandwiches... I can't believe I've never come across this combo before!! I mean, bacon & eggs - come on! The sandwich guru came up with this one. Basically it's an egg salad sandwich with bacon on it, but we jazzed it up with avocado, tomato, lettuce & horseradish cheddar on sourdough bread. This became part of a picnic along with a pretty killer pasta salad, if I do say so myself, that we took to the beach yesterday. Probably a good thing to eat these outside anyway, they're pretty goopy, but sooo good!

"Life is like a sandwich - the more you add to it, the better it becomes""

Friday, March 26, 2010

Naan Bread

I recently went to The Himalayan Kitchen, here in Honolulu with my friend who is Nepalese. To my delight, she ordered just about everything on the menu and I have been fantasizing about it ever since! I have tried to make naan bread a couple of times before, to no avail. But FINALLY I had success! I made saffron rice, cucumber with yogurt & lemon & garlic, and filled the naan with a curry meat concoction. It was a big hit!!! Give this one a try the next time you need to feel like you have ventured to the Himalayas.

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.
  2. Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  3. During the second rising, preheat a grill pan. The recipe said to preheat it to high heat, but mine smokes up the whole house no matter what, so I tried to not have it too high. It still smoked up the whole house. Anyway...
  4. At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Giant Thursday Sandwiches

Almost every Thursday, here's what happens at my house for lunch: The sandwich guru (no, not me) makes these ginormous sandwiches and then we attempt to finish our work-from-home dispatching, photo editing, printing, or whatever else is supposed to get done.

If you can catch the scale in the photo, this sandwich is about a foot and a half long. This one in particular was filled with smoked turkey, bacon, cheese - then tossed under the broiler, then topped with avocado, tomato, red onion, lettuce & what we call "cowbell", as in, "I need more cowbell" - which is a mixture of Chipotle Tobasco & mayo. And this must be served with a cold beer, of course.

Sometimes this doubles as dinner, but I have to confess we can do some serious damage to a ginormous sandwich on a Thursday afternoon!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ever wondered what mountain bikers eat?

Every so often I find myself surrounded by a bunch of dirty mountain bikers. I'm always the only girl. I drink a beer, listen to talk about trails, bike parts, and bad jokes. I love it. And let me tell you... these people can EAT! But what? In case you don't often find yourself in a huddle of testosterone, allow me to give you a glimpse into their world...

1. What food do you bring with you on the trails?

K: Sandwiches
M: Cliff Bars, granola bars
J: Sandwiches, energy bars, chips
C: A snadwich made with Nutella & Bananas

2. What is your favorite beer?

K: Sam Adams - Winter Lager
M: Boundary Bay IPA
J: New Belgium Brewing 1550
C: Rogue Hazelnut Brown

3. What is your favorite post-ride meal?

K: Lasagna
M: Gourmet Pizza
J: Spaghetti
C: A big, tasty burger with beer

4. How much water do you drink while riding?

K: 20 oz/Hr.
M: 2 cans of PBR... or 40-60 oz. water
J: 1-2 "leters"
C: I've never counted, I just drink to fight off thirst

5. Can you cook? What's your specialty?

K: Does spaghetti with cold sauce count? I don't need to, my girlfriend is a crazy cook!
M: Meat, Chicken, Fish, all on the grill
J: Yes, Fajitas
C: Tacos, steaks on the grill, traditional Ceasar salad (no anchovies)

6. What is your favorite hot sauce?

K: Tapatio & Chipotle Tobasco
M: Ass Pucker... Name says it all!
J: "Chalula"
C: Cholula or Sriracha (rooster sauce) it's a toss up

7. Do you have any food phobias?

K: Not if I'm hungry enough, but I'm not a big fan of fish. Except ahi sushi
M: Egg plant, Bad tofu
J: No
C: Spoiled Poke

8. Can food be sexy? If so, which foods?

K: Yes. Riches sauces are sexy
M: Hmmmmmm, colorful presentation but not sexy
J: Yes, chocolate syrup
C: Yes, chocolate

9. What was your favorite food as a kid?

K: Spaghettios
M: Pizza or Chicken Nuggets, can't remember
J: Pizza
C: Pizza

10. Have you ever worn an apron?

K: An apron or JUST an apron? Yes, I used to work at a sandwich shop
M: In the bike shop, at the grill AND in the kitchen
J: No
C: Yes, a big rubber one for washing dishes in Army boot camp

"Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world".

~Grant Petersen

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sunday Dinners

My parents live about 25 minutes from me and my mom comes over on Tuesdays & Fridays to hang out with my kids. Now that my kids are older, my mom & I have started to try to use these days, before we pick the kids up from school, as our time to grab a coffee, go to Costco or run errands together. I am so grateful for her presence in my life. But usually grandpa is working during these times and sometimes, I have appointments with clients on these days or things are just so hectic that we can be like two ships passing with a hug & an I-love-you & a thank-you -for-hanging-with-the-kids.

So I decided to start a new tradition: Sunday dinners. We do it every other Sunday afternoon. Grandma & Grandpa come over around 3:00 and I shoo my mom out of the kitchen to go play with the kids, while grandpa & my son play a game or watch the game on TV, while I whip up a fabulous family meal.

This past Sunday we ate chicken cacciatore, pasta & spinach salad outside in the garden. After dinner we watched the kids goof around around and my mom & I even had a few spare minutes to sit under the arbor & finish our wine in the afternoon sun. I am so grateful to have these times and I am a believer that sometimes you really do have to carve out the schedule & make these times happen.

Sundays aren't just limited to my parents, you know. If your in the neighborhood, please come by and join us for a Sunday dinner!

Quote of the Day:

“The strands of spaghetti were vital, almost alive in my mouth, and the olive oil was singing with flavor. It was hard to imagine that four simple ingredients [olive oil, pasta, garlic and cheese] could marry so perfectly.”

Ruth Reichl, 'Tender at the Bone' (1998)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dining out in the world

I don't know about you, but I don't get out much. Into the world that is. But as you do know, I am a freak for food from every country where food is eaten. Here's a funny quiz that someone sent me (which I must confess, I got 5 out of 11 correct!). Anyway, jot down your answers & see how your cultural dining etiquette fares...

P.S. the answers are posted in the comment section but no peeking till your finished!

1. Do Chinese mothers make their children eat everything on their plates?
a). Yes, food is very expensive in China
b). No. Cleaning your plate in China is considered rude
c). Yes, but only if it has rice in it

2. When people in Austria clink glasses while making a toast, they must look each other in the eyes. Why?
a). It's polite to know somebody's eye color
b). It's a game to see who can clink without looking at the glasses
c). They are acknowledging each other's existence

3. If you're left handed & your Iranian host gives you a right handed fork by mistake, what should you do?
a). Just use the left handed fork with your right hand
b). Politely ask for a left handed fork
c). Just eat with your right hand

4. In a Spanish snack bar, what should you do with your crumbs, old napkins, food wrappers & other debris?
a). Pile everything up on an empty plate
b). Just throw everything on the floor
c). Use the trash bags that are on every table

5. what do the English think about Americans eating fried chicken with their hands?
a). Americans are hopeless slobs
b). It's ok if there are no utensils around
c). Chicken should be boiled, not fried

6. What's the correct way to ask a chef for ketchup in France?
a). "Give me the ketchup, Bud!"
b). There is no right way to ask a chef for ketchup in France
b). Ketchup, s'il vous plait

7. In snooty restaurants in Germany, what is the proper way to cut your potatoes?
a). With your fork
b). With your knife
c). With a genuine Flickenmasher potato slicer

8. In Canada, how do the Inuit people say, "Thank you the food was excellent"?
a). They perform the ancient "Dance of a Thousand Thanks"
b). They burp
c). They leave coins under their plate

9. If you're eating a whole, baked fish in Poland, why shouldn't you flip it over?
a). Because you'll capsize the fisherman's boat
b). Because you really don't want to see what's under there
c). Because the bones will become loose and that's considered very bad luck

10. In parts of Scotland, is it acceptable for kids to do their homework right after dinner?
a). No way. After dinner is always BBC family TV time
b). Of course, that's the perfect time to do homework
c). Uh, well most kids aren't home after dinner

11. How do you show your host you liked your meal in Japan?
a). Bang your water glass loudly on the table, but not so hard that it breaks
b). Applaud loudly
c). Slurp your noodles as loudly as possible

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Melty Chocolate Cake

This could also go under the title: What I Had For Breakfast This Morning. This crazy chocolate cake recipe was actually called Fondant au Chocolat. Which, really sounds quite fancy & intriguing - but I thought it sounded a little intimidating & well, snotty. However, this is a really easy recipe and makes a melty, mushy, creamy, brownie-like situation. This recipe is pretty much made of chocolate, eggs and butter - yowza! There's just a spoonful of flour added at the end. You must give this one a try...

Preheat oven to 350. Grease & flour a 9 inch round cake pan.

Break 7 oz baking chocolate into smallish pieces and put them into a double boiler over simmering water. Pour in 1 Tbs. Hot espresso into the chocolate and stir till melted.
Add 1 3/4 sticks (I know!!! Shhh, just do it...) of butter and combine till melted.
Add 1 C. sugar, then add 5 eggs, 1 at a time, stirring well after each addition.
Finally, add 1 heaped Tbs. of flour.

Pour mixture into cake pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. The cake should still be very moist in the middle.

Remove from oven & let cool completely before turning out onto a plate. Now, the recipe then said to "cover in foil and try to resist eating for one day". But I, of course, do NOT recommend this. I mean really. If you're capable of that kind of self control then be my guest, but you know that's not happening at my house! Anyway, we scooped on some vanilla-carmel ice cream and ate it while the cake was still warm. Oh yeah baby!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

We interrupt this survey...

I just had to tell you... Successful gnocchi was finally achieved in my kitchen!! I believe this was my third attempt of late, and at LAST it worked. This recipe was from Tyler's Ultimate on the Food Network website. I didn't follow the sauce advice, but that's just me... It really wasn't that complicated, didn't take a million hours, they were light & fluffy, and best of all, they didn't turn into mashed potatoes when I cooked them!

Anyway, give them a try... And now... back to the surveys...