Wednesday, August 27, 2008

beagles and breakfast

Since I posted a picture of Huck, I thought I should post one of Pebbles today. I took this in the early spring. She had just woken up and was coming down the stairs and put her head through the railing as she likes to do. Only this time, she was lower on the stairs, so she got to give the love of her life (who happens to be the love of my life) a gentle head butt. Much more like a cat than a twerpy but lovable spazoid beagle. Pebbles really prefers my husband. I cannot really blame her. I was not feeling well last night and was quite grumpy about not wanting to go to Baltimore in the first place and grumpy about not wanting to eat at various unfamiliar restaurants in Baltimore last night. I really just wanted to come back to the eastern shore of Maryland (the nicer shore of Maryland for certain) and eat somewhere familiar and comforting. Like at home! Anyway, I swear that man is a saint for putting up with me. Love you sweetie!

Ok, so here is my favorite breakfast. I know it is not glamorous or anything but it is my favorite. Well, this week anyway. Egg in toast or hole in one or whatever you want to call it. I call it "egg toast" which is like the most boring name in the world, right? I use a flower shaped cookie cutter to cut the center out of a piece of bread out, cook it in a tablespoon of butter and crack an egg into the hole, turn it over and yummy! Looks like I had a small bowl of grits with it... I love grits. Most people I know do not like grits but I hold that they have not had properly prepared grits and therefore do not know that in fact they like grits. I take it as a personal challenge to make people enjoy grits. I think the name is unfortunate... grits just does not sounds lovely. It sounds... well, gritty.

Alton Brown did a show about grits and polenta and hominy. I know, I must have some sort of fascination with Alton Brown because I talk about him a lot. I should say that even after 3 years of culinary school and 8 years as a professional chef, I still learn something every time I watch his show! He has a new show coming on called "Feasting on Waves" and I am excited about that since I really enjoyed "Feasting on Asphalt" I thought both Feasting on Asphalt documentaries (1 and 2!) were fabulous. Not just food but the story of food and the people who make it. I loved the old man who just kept repeating "chicken shake" when Alton tried to get him to tell him how he seasoned his fried chicken. All good southern cooks have their own chicken shake recipe, I think.

Enough of my blathering for today.

Monday, August 25, 2008

all dressed up

I have long wanted a picture of my sweet beagle boy wearing my husband's red bow tie. I think he looks fabulous but he was just not wanting to cooperate with the camera at all. I think I have mentioned before how he is really camera shy. Such a handsome boy has nothing to be shy about. I think this picture make him look like an old dog when he is really a young adult beagle. Maybe 3 or 4 years old. That is a drawback to getting dogs from the pound - you don't know their birthday. Of course, the rewards of rehabilitating a scared little guy is more than worth it. We celebrate "gotcha day" around our place.

The chicken is all dressed up, too. That is Cornell chicken from this last month's issue of Cook's Country. Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country are both rather picky about their recipes, so I will just post a link here for the recipe. I believe you have to register to get their recipes from the website. It is basically a chicken brined in cider vinegar and then cooked with a coating of dijion mustard, cider vinegar, and sage and rosemary. I did not grill mine but roasted it in the convection over with pearl onions. I really enjoyed this chicken. I brine my turkey for Thanksgiving and I believe that the brine makes all the difference in the flavor and texture of the turkey. I gave a recipe for my brined turkey to a young friend who said she will always make it that way now!

I used a whole bird, which I "spatch-cocked" which brings up a lot of controversy. I guess spatch-cock is now a slang term that means much what it sounds like. It is also a cooking term which means to remove the backbone and keel bone from a whole bird so it lays flat and cooks much better and more uniformly. Alton Brown (love him!) did this in step by step directions on a Cornish Game Hen on his show "Fowl Territory" which is worth a read. He writes very well about cooking technique, which if you have ever tried to do, you know if not as easy as it sounds.

I made the mistake of Googling spatch cock to find out the origins of it. I mean, I believe originally, spatch was the verb and cock referred to the chicken itself but now it is all a verb. The results from my Google search cause me to weep for humanity. Just saying.

Friday, August 22, 2008

all things Cuban

I have long wanted to go to Cuba. I don't know what the appeal is really. I think it is all wrapped up in Ernest Hemingway, old cars, and 1950's Hollywood glamor. Oh, and food. Yeah, food is generally the motivating force behind much of what I do and want to do in life. Heck, the only reason I work is so I can eat. My sewing hobby is also wrapped up in food - keeping my hands busy keeps me from eating, right?

Which brings me to the Cuban sandwich. I do not know how Cuban this thing really is. For all I know it is Cuban the way Olive Garden is Italian and that is to say not at all. I do love this sandwich of ham, roast pork, cheese, cheap yellow mustard, dill pickles, and awesome grilled bread but it is always the man I call my husband who thinks to eat this for dinner. Smart man! Alton Brown made one on his episode called "Sandwich craft" and I must confess here that I love Alton Brown's hokey, goofey names for things but I feel nothing but distaste when another Foodtv chef calls a dish, "Cashew! God bless you chicken!" Hmmm... I wonder about my fickleness sometimes.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

recipes? we don't need no stinkin' recipes!

I subscribe to a number of magazines. Real Simple (a gift, actually), Sports Illustrated (gotta read about the baseball men), The National Review (yes, I am a republican), and Cooking Light. I do love Cooking Light. Last month's issue had on the inside cover a picture of "creamed corn, with bacon and leek" and then a url to find the recipe on their website. Hmm... well, I don't have Internet at home. My husband and I both stare at computers all day at work and while we actually have 2 computers in our house (mostly for playing games), we don't subscribe to an ISP. We also do not have a land line phone but that's another story. I thought to myself, "how annoying, Cooking Light! Thank you for adding another step to my recipe reading experience!" Anyway, I decided that I know how to make creamed corn and I know what bacon and leeks are so I don't need Cooking Light! No, sir, I don't need them at all!

Okay, so here is my recipe for creamed corn with bacon and leeks. It was delicious, I might add.

First of all, you need one of these -
What's that, you ask? Why, it's a corn zipper! Works like a charm. It pulls the kernels right off and then I can use it to go back and get the milk out of the cob. It was gift (from the same person who gives me Real Simple!!). You can buy one here.

Creamed corn with bacon and leeks

What I used -
6 ears of fresh corn or 3 cups of frozen corn kernels
1 large red pepper, large dice
1 bunch of leeks, white part only, washed really well and sliced into 1/4
5 slices of extra thick sliced bacon
1/2 - 1 cup of milk
1 cup of chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of dried thyme

How I did it -
In a large pot, cook the bacon over medium high heat until crispy. While the bacon is cooking, use the fancy corn zipper to remove all the corn kernels and pulp and milk from the corn cobs. Remove bacon, reserving the fat. Put the corn kernels, red pepper and leek into the reserved fat and season with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Cook until the leek and red pepper are tender - about 5-8 minutes, stirring often. Add the milk, corn pulp and milk, stock, and thyme and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender (you have one, right?) spot blend some of the corn or you can mash the corn with a potato masher or a fork or just leave it all whole but the idea is for some of the corn to be pureed - hence creamed corn. I supposed you could put a cup or two in a food processor or blender but be really super careful as it really stinks to get hot creamy corn all over your arms. Happened to me in culinary school. Yikes was that hot. Anyway, I crumbled the bacon and put half of it in the corn mixture and half of it on top.

Okay, so I did log onto Cooking Light and read their recipe and they put cornstarch and sugar in the recipe. I don't think summer corn needs any sugar and the pulp and milk from the corn seemed to thicken mine just fine. Also, CL did not add a red pepper or any dried thyme, so I would say my recipe is altogether superior to theirs, right? Although, their picture is (as usual) much better than mine. I really need to take some classes, you know?

Hmmm... well, my sister is coming to visit me at the end of September and I so very excited about that! I really need to start on that quilt.

Monday, August 18, 2008

land of the living

Oh yuck, I was so sick last week. I really hate being sick. I don't think many people like being sick but this last cold is a real drag. I am feeling better today. Actually, I felt okay yesterday, so I actually went to church and the grocery store. I also made dinner. Pictured above is the fruit of my labor last night - garlic rubbed flank steak with chimichurri sauce served with yellow rice and black beans. Oh my gosh, this was so delicious! My husband proclaimed the meal to be "excellent" and I was feeling pretty good about myself. I got the recipe from Cooking Light and it can be found for free on their website. I guess since they publish the recipe on the web, I could list the recipe here but I have all this fear about the Cooking Light police coming and messing with me, you know?

Anyway, while sick I managed to read a lot, watch many episodes of Monk, and sleep. Also, I planned out a quilt I am going to make. I have never made a quilt before, but I am feeling pretty confident. I need to get to the fabric store and get started since I want to have it finished when my sister comes to visit at the end of September. Hmmm.... crazy, right?

Monday, August 11, 2008


I have a rotten, nasty cold and lower respiratory infection that seems to want to stay forever. Woe is I! Gosh, chicken soup and hot tea sound great.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

pick me up

We had guests last night for dinner, which was really nice. My husband's best friend from his undergraduate college and wife have recently relocated to our same state and live only an hour away across the Chesapeake Bridge. We are really very excited about that. The dogs were very good and we had a good time. As they are very smart, educated people the conversation was fabulous. I am still pondering this morning why tragic art is considered of more validity in our culture. I guess I will be pondering this for awhile

I made caesar salad, lasagna rolls and tiramisu. I love all those things very much. My camera had a small melt down and I had to format the memory card ( I didn't even know I could do that) this morning, so I lost all of my pictures from last night. Great. Anyway, I served my tiramisu in small footed, glass dishes with coffee. Needless to say, my picture of it was not this great. That picture is from Cooking Light, I think. The recipe is not. It might be from FoodTV but very much modified.

Tiramisu 6 servings
6 egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups espresso
1 tablespoon of marsala wine
36 ladyfingers
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate shavings, for garnish

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Cream mascarpone cheese and cream cheese together until smooth. Add cheese to egg mixture and beat until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of espresso and mix until thoroughly combined.

In a small shallow dish, add remaining espresso and marsala. Dip each ladyfinger into espresso for only 5 seconds. Place the soaked ladyfingers on the bottom of a 11 by 8 inch dish making them fit the bottom.

Spread evenly 1/2 of the cheese mixture over the ladyfingers. Arrange another layer of soaked ladyfingers and top with remaining cheese mixture.

Cover tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Before serving, top with finely grated chocolate shavings.

My dinner guests really like this. They had only had tiramisu once before at a restaurant in Chicago, so they were pleased to have it at someone's house.

Monday, August 4, 2008


So, I got a lot done on vacation. I know that is a strange sounding sentence since vacation is supposed to be about relaxing but I am not one to do nothing. It's just not in my blood.

I managed to do everything on my list except for refinishing the small, ugly pink rocking chair. Our master bedroom has been repainted from a 30 year old, dull, cold white to a fresh coat of "Devonshire Cream" from Martha Stewart. It's just dreamy. We rearranged the furniture and added a couple of new furniture pieces to the room. The beagles even got a new doggie den or crate. I might even get a picture of it. The bedroom, not the dog crate. I made a new valance for my bathroom which is lovely and I put up new blinds in the master bedroom, sewing room and kitchen. All of those rooms have valances or curtains, too but the blinds were in terrible condition. I washed them pretty regularly but they were there years before me, you know? Anyway, new blinds are pretty.

I watched some baseball, cooked some food. I made a Chicken Taka Masala from a recipe from Cooks Illustrated. I understand that they are really picky about people putting their recipes on blogs so I will leave it at that!

I have company coming this week - Tuesday my husband's best friend from his undergraduate college and his wife are coming to visit for one night on the way to the beach, which will involve me making lasagna rolls and Caesar salad and Tiramisu for them. I should get some wine for that... I should bake some bread tonight. Wow... I have a lot to do. Anyway, my mother in law is coming for like 3 days on Friday and that of course gives me more excuse to cook and clean and that makes me happy. Really, it makes me happy to cook and clean.

Okay, back to work.