Sunday, May 6, 2012

french bread

you know in the bible, it says man cannot live on bread alone, but i've been surviving on this bread for the last few days. it is DELISH!! there is nothing like fresh baked bread to make life livable once again and i think this may be the best (and easiest) bread i've ever baked.
2 pkg yeast
1/2 c. warm water
2 c. hot water
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
5 tbsp vegetable oil
6 c. white flour
1 egg white
sesame seeds (optional)

dissolve yeast in 1/2 c. warm water; let stand for 10 minutes. in a large bowl, combine 2 c. hot water, sugar, salt, vegetable oil, and 1/2 of the flour; beat well. stir in dissolved yeast. add remaining flour and mix well. rest 10 minutes.

repeat four times. kneed one or two times on a floured surface. divide in half. roll each half out and roll up like a jelly roll. place seam side down in french bread pans or on a cookie sheet (i like to dust the pan with corn meal first). cut slits in the top and brush with beat egg white. sprinkle with sesame seeds. let rise for 30 minutes. bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

pasta alfredo with chicken and veggies

i've got zucchini coming out my ears! i have one plant, ONE PLANT and i can't keep up with it! and since i am currently overrun, i find myself in the unenviable position of needing to use it. i'm working on some more inventive ways to use it, but i'm also relying on some old favorites. like this one:

alfredo sauce
1 tbs butter
1 clove garlic, chopped (the smaller the pieces, the stronger the flavor)
heavy cream
grated parmesan cheese

melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. add garlic. allow garlic to steep in the butter for a minute or so, DO NOT brown. at this point, you may choose to remove the garlic pieces, or leave them in. add heavy cream. this is the body of your sauce, the amount that you add will determine how much sauce you ultimately have. without increasing the heat, whisk cheese into sauce and bring to a low boil. allow to bubble for 2 minutes, or until sauce reaches desired consistency.

i use this basic recipe and add in grilled chicken breast and sauted veggies. in this case that means zucchini, mushrooms, and tomatoes.

fig bundles

i get my produce from this great little traveling co-op called bountiful baskets. it's a really good deal and i get my fruits AND veggies for the week. actually, mine usually last two weeks. the catch is, you never know exactly what you're gonna get, but that's also part of the fun. my last basket brought me a surprise. figs. i've never had them before, and i wasn't even sure what they were right off the bat. this is what they look like, just in case you've never seen them either:

being the adventurous person that i am, i was determined to use them. so, i went on a little scavenger hunt and i found some recipes that sounded really good. of course, i never actually follow recipes, so this is my reinterpretation of one of the one that i read.

figs bacon (one slice per fig)
bleu cheese crumbles
sea salt

cut a small slit in the side of each fig, piercing through to the center.
is it just me, or does my hand look really old in this picture?
stuff one average sized (or larger than average is you prefer) crumble of bleu cheese into the slit you just cut.
 seriously! big, old looking, man hands!
now, wrap each stuffed fig with a slice of bacon. the bacon i used was thick cut, thinner might be better in this case.
place wrapped figs on a baking sheet and slide into a 400 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until the bacon browns and begins to crisp up.
let cool slightly on baking sheet, then transfer to a platter. drizzle with honey and sprinkle with sea salt. serve warm.
VOILA! so simple and really delicious!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

something yummy for which i can think of no suitable name

spring is here! spring is here! it's about time!!! for those of you not yet able to enjoy the lovely weather i have here. i am sorry. i just heard that many of my dear friends and family members received a lovely april fool's joke from mother nature. she clearly doesn't own a calendar. april fool's day was friday. HELLO! well, i made a meal tonight that is perfectly suitable for any time of year and any sort of weather. well, maybe not the intense heat of summer, since it involves lots of roating, but the other three seasons will love it! i can't think of a good name for it that isn't super long (balsamic and herb crusted chicken with roast vegetables is a mouthful), so if you have any suggestions, i'd love to hear them.


1/2 large or 1 small onion
3-5 carrots, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1 lb baby or "new" potatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tbs balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
whisk together herbs, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. toss veggies and let marinade 15 minutes. scoop out veggies and place in a roasting pan. reserve marinade for chicken. roast veggies at 375 degress 45 minutes to 1 hour or until tender.


* the chicken is a little dark, not because it is burned, but because balsamic vinegar has a high sugar content (as far as vinegars go) and that get's dark in the oven.

1 whole chicken
1/2 large or 1 small onion, cut into wedges
remaining veggie marinade

preheat oven to 375 degrees. rinse chicken and pat dry, your coating will not stick to a wet chicken.  truss your chicken (or don't. i never do) and place in a roasting pan. place onion in the cavity. pour herb mixture over the top and give your bird a loving massage. place him in the heat lodge known as your oven and let him roast until he reaches a balmy internal temperature of 185 degrees and/or juices run clear. serve with roasted veggies.

just to be sure nothing went to waste i made a pan gravy from the drippings (just add a tablespoon or so of flour and whisk in some chicken stock to finish it off)

and to round out the meal, a big, fat salad:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

minestrone soup

relatively inexpensive, super filling and enormously delicious, not to mention easy, soup is pretty much the greatest meal ever. it's also (arguably) the most comforting. i don't know what the weather is like where you are, but where i am it's a little cold and a lot windy and that just makes me want a big bowl of soup. soup like this one:

easy minestrone
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 bunch asparagus, chopped
1 large (28 oz) can tomatoes with juice
1 can white beans, drained
1 bunch kale (i used purple kale because i like the color), roughly chopped
6 cups chicken stock

handful of small pasta or broken bits of pasta

begin by sauteing mushrooms, onions and asparagus in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 3-5 minutes. add tomatoes, white beans, kale and chicken stock. cover and simmer 20-30 minutes. add a handful of dry pasta 5-8 minutes before serving. i like to serve mine with a generous grating of parmesan cheese right on top.

*this is just the recipe for the version of the soup i made recently, but you can substitute the veggies based on what you have around. minestrone is equally delicious with zucchini, carrots, celery, potato, or eggplant. you can also substitute the kale and use cabbage, spinach or some other dark, leafy green.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

stuffed pork chops

realizing, of course, that there are about a million things with which you could stuff your chops, i am working on a better name for this meal. you should just know that i find this particular combination of flavors thoroughly satisfying.

stuffed pork chops
you will need:
4 bonless pork chops
1 small or 1/2 a large acorn squash*, diced
1/2 a medium onion, diced
8 leaves of fresh sage
salt and pepper
sharp paring knife
heavy skillet (i'm partially to cast iron, but use what you've got)
the stuffing:

saute onion and squash in a tablespoon or so of oil. after 2 minutes, give half of your sage a rough chop and add it to the pan. season with salt and pepper. continue to saute, stirring often 4 more minutes. remove from heat and allow to cool while you prep the pork.

prepping the pork:

it is difficult to stuff something which has no cavity, so you must create one. if raw meat grosses you out, i am sorry, but it is a necessary evil. for this portion of the preparations, you will need a sharp paring knife. now, i know paring knives are generally reserved for fruits and veggies, but in this case, it really is the best tool for the job. cut a small slit in the side of you chop. when i say small, i mean small. about an inch or so. any larger and the stuffing will fall out as it cooks, and this is not what we want. now, use your paring knife to enlarge the cavity inside the meat without making the opening slit any bigger. be careful not to cut through the meat on any edge, but make sure the stuffing will have a home within a 1/2 inch or so of all sides of your chop. this can be a little tricky, but be patient, work slowly, and you will be fine. when you're done you should have something that looks like this:

stuffing the chop:
this can get a little messy, but it is totally worth it. i have no fancy tools for this job, i simply shove the stuffing into the prepared pork chop with my fingers. if you have a better method, i'd love to hear about it. be careful not to overstuff the chop. you want enough squash in there to have some in each bite, but not so much that it is overflowing.
 that one on the left was too full, he lost some of his filling during the cooking process...

preheat oven to 350 degrees. season your chops with salt and pepper and press a sage leaf into one side, it will stick (without the aid of any adhesive even!). preheat a skillet to med-high heat and add a tablespoon of oil. place chops, sage side down, into the pan. once they're down, don't move them until they have had a chance to sear, so make sure you position them accordingly. work in stages if you need to. after about 2 minutes, flip and repeat the process on the sage free side.

transfer chops to a baking dish and add enough water to cover the bottom of the dish. cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.** remove foil and continue to bake 5 minutes. voila! dinner!
i think the pork chop looks like he's wearing a hat. maybe, a beret. i guess he's french (which would explain why he looks so grumpy...)

*butternut squash can be used as well, since the flavor and texture are surprisingly similar (almost indistinguishable)
**if you are using an oven proof skillet (like cast iron) there is no need to transfer to a baking dish. simply add the water to the skillet, cover, and bake. since the skillet is already hot it will cook faster so reduce your cooking time to total 15 minutes instead of 20

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

the best is yet to come

i spent the weekend cooking, just for you. now i just have to find the time to put all of that goodness out here. no worries, it's coming. patience, grasshopper...