Monday, October 27, 2008

Hashing It Out

Here's another one to add to the breakfast-for-dinner annals. It's a bit involved and hardly zip one-two-three, like the blueberry buttermilk pancakes I made for dinner last night-but I'm on a bit of a kick you see, turning our days upside-down, inside-out- adding a little topsy-turviness to our daily routines. Nowadays the kiddles are half expecting to be greeted at the breakfast table with a steak, a slice of birthday cake in their lunchboxes, and every kind of breakfast dish for dinner. Last night was pancakes, tonight- salmon hash, tomorrow night perhaps I'll go basic with a bowl of homemade granola? This is just another one of my spurious phases- I trot down these random paths every once in a while- when I need to create a diversion, rather tame (and lame), when I think of all the other truly naughty things I can be doing.

This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

Dilled Sour Cream: stir into one c. sour cream 1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill, a dash of salt, a few good grinds of pepper and a squirt or two of lemon juice. Set aside.
Salmon Hash: in skillet heat 2 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. veg oil- once butter melts add 1 lb. potato dice or shred ( I used Simply Potatoes hash browns for ease). Coat in butter mixture and cook until potatoes start to turn tender and brown around the edges. Continue to turn over cook for about 5 mins until uniformly soft. Then stir in 1 c. of diced red onion- and pat mixture down with spatula. Cook until onion is soft and translucent. In a small bowl mix 1 tbsp dijon mustard with 3 tbsp. half and half and generous grinds of pepper. Scrape up the hash mixture and stir in the mustard mixture. Continue cooking and scraping up the hash, tamping it down with the spatula every so often. Then mix in 1 lb. flaked cooked salmon fillet, 2-3 tbsp. of snipped chives and 1 tbsp. dill and a few dashed of tobasco sauce- cook until heated through. Serve hot, topped with a nice dollop of dilled sour cream and a sprinking of capers.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chicken Fantastico

At last, the chicken recipe I've been looking for since getting hitched. Everyone knows that each good home cook worth his/her kosher salt, has a good roasted chicken recipe in their repertoire. I finally found mine. And I've definitely been getting my dollars worth out of it- as well as a few rounds of praise.

Chicken Fantastico
Mix 1 tbsp. onion powder, 1 tbsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1 1/2 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. paprika with 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. Brush chicken pullet pieces evenly with olive oil mixture. Place uncovered in 375F oven on rack 6-8" from top for about 1 hr., cover with foil and leave in for another hour.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Party Hearty

Chez nous has been party central over the past few days. Kiddlette's birthday party on Sunday kicked it all off. It was a convivial scene, between the uproarious antics of Rogow the amazing clown/magician, the Tinkerbelle themed decorations, and the menu dictated by all of Kiddlette's favorite things: freshly made grilled cheese sandwiches, a pound cake topped with whipped cream frosting, and cups of yummy hot chocolate. Kiddlette was thrilled by the mound of presents she recieved, not so thrilled by my decree that she may only open one a day...
By the party's end the house looked like a trashed Disney float- sagging streamers, deflated balloons, shredded Tinkerbelle tableware. A sure sign of a rollicking good party among the Pre-K set.
As soon as the last goody bag was dispensed, I headed straight back into the kitchen and began preparations for last night's Italian themed dinner. My friend C. was on the guest list, and the inspiration behind the menu. A few weeks ago we were to meet for dinner, I suggested Italian, she dismissed the idea saying that "there's no good Italian around here". I stuck my nose in Lidia Bastianich's fine Italian cookbook, and didn't resurface until I devised an appropriate menu. I started with a rich and flavorful tomato bread soup, moved on to a simple chicken cacciatore that comprised of just 4 ingredients: san marzano plum tomatoes, chicken cut in 8ths, olive oil, and fresh fragrant rosemary- simply good. I also made a meat ragu sauce that was just fantastico! It utilized 2 cups of red wine, and reconstituted porcini mushrooms, it percolated on the stove for hours and filled the house with a hearty and robust aroma. Served with hefty rigatoni pasta- I half expected the table to burst into a round O Sole Mio. Dessert was where I departed from the theme and probably shouldn't have. I baked a chocolate chip cookie pie that just wouldn't set, not sure why... I wasn't going to serve it, but was cajoled into bringing it out- it was like eating warm cookie dough, which I'm not bananas about, but our guests seemed to enjoy.
Today I made a chocolate cake that almost made me cry. Not because it was beautiful to behold, although it certainly wasn't an eyesore. It was chocolate cake that you could wrap your soul around. Deep, dark, chocolate flavor, moist texture, there's nowhere to go but Happy when you're savoring this cake. And the ease of this recipe takes you from Happy to Relieved.

Beat together chocolate cake mix, 1 package chocolate instant pudding mix, 4 eggs, 1 8oz. conainer sour cream, 1/2 c. vegetable oil, 1/2 c. water, and 1 tbsp. vanilla extract. Stir in 1 package of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Pour into greased bundt pan. Bake in 350F oven for about an hour, or until it passes the toothpick test.
Chocolate Glaze: mix 1/2 c. sugar, 1/4 c. milk, and 3 tbsp. butter in saucepan on med. heat. Stirring constantly, bring to boil and boil for a minute. Take off stove. Stir in 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 tsp. vanilla extract until chips are melted and glaze is smooth and glossy. Pour glaze over cooled cake.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Cure

I need chocolate. I need it like I need oxygen. I need it or else I will fade. It is my lifeline, my manna, my saviour. O Chocolate! How I do love thee. Every so often I am struck by an extreme bout of Chocolate Fever, I'll go on a bender where the only things that pass my lips are chocolate in nature and flavor. I am in the bittersweet grip of one of these rages. One half -box of truffles later, I decided I had to get pro-active and concoct my own cure. A be-all-and-end-all of chocolate comfort cravings. Death by chocolate, indeed.

Nutella-Mascarpone Stuffed Chocolate Bread Pudding w. Peanut Butter Sauce
Cut up a large challah into bite sized cubes. Place in large bowl. In med. sized bowl whisk 8 eggs and 1 c. chocolate milk and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Pour egg mixture over challah cubes, stir so bread is covered in mixture. In another bowl (this recipe requires a lot of glassware-it's worth it) mix together 1 c. nutella and 1 8 oz. container mascarpone cheese. In a casserole dish, cover bottom with half the soaked challah cubes. Then spread nutella-mascarpone mixture over challah layer. Top nutella-mascarpone layer with the rest of challah cubes. Place in fridge for a few hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature and then place in 375F oven for about 30 mins.

Peanut Butter Sauce
In a saucepan over med. heat combine 1/2 c. peanut butter, 1/2 c. heavy cream, 2 tbsp. corn syrup, 1/4 c. brown sugar. Stir until smooth. Serve warm.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Phoning It In

I'm almost positive that I'm not unique in the feeling that my life revolves around my family's belly. If not cooking a meal, I'm at the market getting ingredients for their next feeding. When not preparing lunchboxes, I'm rationing out treats. Holidays, birthdays, sundry special occasions all need to be catered. Usually I dig it. Usually it's a labor of love. Usually it's just what I do.
This weekend was unusual. And that's when take-out is a beautiful thing. This lack of inspiration also coincides with a missing camera. Hopefully both will return soon.