Sunday, January 27, 2008

Open Pit Duck

The euphoria of Spagio Cellars and dining surrounded by thousands of wine bottles could not mask the fact that the Smoked Duck Pizza might as well be smoked, pulled pork on a crust featuring asian barbecue sauce.

It is with great sadness that I type that sentence; although, the writer in me is quite impressed with the word choice and voice. It also is with a humbleness that can only be understood by other foodies who must admit that they were wrong; they ordered the wrong thing. In the world of competive menu orderers, this is difficult. You know who you are. You look at every aspect of the menu. You curiously wonder what the other people are getting; so that in the end, your order is the looked at with longing gazes. And you know that feeling of satisfaction, that little chair dance that your ass cheeks do, as you take a bite of the perfect choice. And with every triumphant feeling, of course the feeling of defeat is equally emotion causing. The lament is shocking.

As I was saying, a wine store with a menu, servers, and the ability to just walk up to shelves and coolers and pull something out and drink it at a table, is a delight! With a $5 corkage fee, a normally 55 dollar bottle of wine can be had for 25. And the cheese plate accompaniments and drool-provoking dessert case makes it easy to overlook the Smoked Duck Pizza and how uninspiring it was. If a meat is smoked, I suppose it doesn't matter what it was before the 'smoking'. And so it is foolish to eat the duck, if it will just taste like pork. And thus the title, Open Pit Duck. sigh.

But of course I recommend Spagio Cellars! Just don't get the duck pizza, no matter what other bloggers may gush about it.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sunday Roasts and Soups

Sunday was not without explitives and sated noises. I would title this as such, but perhaps the focus would be wrong. Because honestly, this is a blog for recipes, really. The explitives were from my vegetable peeler (second-string peeler) snapping in two. Somehow, during the holidays, the first-string peeler walked out. Call it a "no bagel no bagel" walk out. Call it a thievery. Whatever it was, it is gone.

The sated noises were caused by two things made in my new, red, Mario Batali Dutch Oven. It is so cute when novices to cooking still think that a dutch oven has to do with sheets and flatulence. That sounds like ANOTHER title for a post...but I digress.

First item ever made in my dutch oven was vegetarian vegetable soup. I think this is fairly comparable to the ridiculous fad diet Cabbage Soup, but I love it. It is a good snack, when you crave something hot. And it is nice for lunch too. Since school starts, meaning work starts, again tomorrow, it is onto preparing for weekly lunches.

Vegetarian Vegetable Soup
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 LARGE onion (or atleast mine was large) chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 zucchini squash
1 yellow squash
1 large brocoli stalk
2 yellow potatoes, cubed
1 can chopped tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
1/2 green cabbage head, chopped
water (about 6 cups, or to cover)
bay leaf (1)
garlic salt (a smattering)
oregano (some shakes)

In a heated and olive oiled dutch oven, cook carrot, celery, and onion. Add garlic. Then add all vegetable, except the cabbage. Be sure to season at just about every step. You'll still end up adding salt at the end. Cover with water, add seasoning that you prefer (mine were the garlic salt, oregano and bay leaf) and simmer until potatoes are soft. Add cabbage and cover for about 15 minutes. Voila! Salt if it needs it; since I didn't use chicken broth, it needed it!

The second dish prepared, causing the MOST yummy noises, was a roast. I combined a couple recipes that I found in my Annual Cooking Light books. Sure, the website is free, but it is nice to sit down with an actual book sometimes.

We shall name this dish: Cocoa Roast with Sweet Potatoes
1T Unsweetened Cocoa
1.5t cumin
1.5 t coriander
1.5t paprika
1.5t chili powder
1.5t garlic powder
1.5t oregano (dried)
1/8t cinnamon
1/2 cup flour
3lb Round Roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 4 pieces
olive oil
1/2 large onion, largely sliced
4 cloves garlic
1 can chopped tomato (14.5 ounces)
1/2 cup red wine (divided)
1 can beef broth
2 T balsalmic vinegar
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, halved, and rough chopped (only about 8 pieces per potato)
2 t flour (for slurry)

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine first 8 spices. Dredge meat pieces in the mixture. Remove meat, and add flour to the remaining spices. Dredge meat in flour/spice mixture.

In Dutch Oven, heat olive oil and brown meat on each side. Remove. Add onion and garlic and cook. I used some red wine to help pick up the remnants from the browning of the meat. I added a little of the beef broth as well. Once cooked, add rest of broth, tomato, and vinegar. Add meat back to pot. Cover and cook in oven for 1 hour. After one hour, carefully remove and flip the meat in the pot. Nestle in sweet potatoes. Cover and cook another hour.

Remove meat from the pot and set aside, about 15 minutes. At this point, I was heating water and cooking some egg noodles. Remove sweet potatoes from the sauce. Create a slurry with about 1/4 cup red wine and 2t flour. Pour into sauce to thicken, and then return potatoes. Pull apart meat, into manageable pieces and add back to pot.
Servings: 6ish

And now for the PICTURES!

Boy doesn't this look like dog food.

But this one...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Some Food Pics! and Recipes too!

I am such a slacker when it comes to taking pictures of the food. I know why. I am obsessed with the food actually being HOT when I serve it. Most of my food pictures are portions AFTER I have already eaten. And as a single girl on a budget (that is my mantra for the year), I can't afford to make an extra portion for posterity. "posterity" is a fancy name for "the readers".

Picture Numero Uno: The horror of the Red Velvet Cake Truffle. I don't recommend making them, so I will not give the recipe.

Picture Numero Dos: New Year's Day Pork and Sauerkraut, extra kraut-y
1 3-4 lb Pork Loin, sliced into 8 pieces
4 yellow potatoes, quartered
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cans of saurkraut, juice included
4 T brown sugar
1 really big apple, chopped
shakes of caraway seeds

In crockpot, layer first can of sauerkraut, onion, and apple. Place browned, salted, and peppered, pork on top. When I cut the pork, I didn't cut all the way through, so it fans out a little in the pot. Place potatoes around the pork. Sprinkle the caraway seeds on top. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of pork. Pour last can of sauerkraut over pork and potato. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. The pork will just fall apart.

We liked it with all the juices. And the potato tastes like sauerkraut, which we liked too. If you want it a little sweeter and less tart, add more sugar. And you could possibly use NONE of the sauerkraut juice from ONE of the cans and be just fine. My audience for this dish wanted ALL the juice...oh and I gave it to him. "you like-a the juice?"

Picture Numero Tres: Ham and Cheese Mini Frittatas
Oh so good! And I put this recipe into It has 9 grams of fat and 170ish calories per 6 little frittatas. You could cut some of the fat out by using skim milk and egg beaters. But 9 isn't that bad, to me! And I made these with some other variations for my Christmas Party! I did a bacon and leek (awesome!) and a potatoa, red pepper, and onion. You could do WHATEVER you want for these. They rock!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Battle Begins

I am currently battling with my computer. Not that there is anything wrong with it; I am just WAITING for something to be wrong with it. You see, it is brand new. And new things just seem to have little bumps in the road.

I think my computer smells my fear. It knows I am scared of it; so, it is taking advantage of my nerves and acts up just a little. At what point do you decide something is wrong. Or at what point do you decide, Oh this is what it is supposed to do?!

So in the mean time, I hosted one of the biggest events EVER this last weekend and I took ZERO pictures. The amount of cursing in my head about this huge mistake is deafening. I am really mad. I took a couple pictures of the prep work. Okay, only two pictures of the prep work and it was of my red stained hand after rolling Red Velvet Cake Truffles. Woopity Doo!

I hosted the meeting of my parents and my "person's" parents. It was a Saturday night. It was an appetizer type party. There was lots of drinking. The appetizers came out in waves.

The first wave (all recipes will follow):
Rosemary Cashews (a fortuitous gift from a student)
Mini Frittata three ways: bacon and leek, ham and swiss, and potato, onion and red pepper
Cocktail Shrimp
A trio of dips: Salsa (my standard recipe), black bean (my standard recipe), and hummus (store bought)
Carmelized Onion and Butternut Squash Purses

The second wave:
Porcini Mushroom Fondue
Chicken Skewers

The third wave:
Mini twice baked potatoes (My dad called this "a good pill")
NY Strip Cheesesteaks on french bread slices

Red Velvet Cake Truffles
Carrot Cake Truffles...for both truffles, I would not make them again. Just too much!
Pecan Pie Cookies
Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
Bailey's Whip Cream in Chocolate Cordial glasses (they looked like little thimbles)

an Albarino for the white wine
a french Pinot Noir (Klingenfus, awesome!)
Spanish Cava, Rose'...When I brought this out, the "person's" mother thought there was a big announcement. Clearly she needs to learn that sparkling wine should totally be an ALL THE TIME drink!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Maple Mustard Cream Sauce

The sweet potato gnocchi (SPG) was supposed to be my signature dish. It is unique and something not many people would go through the pains of making. Honestly, gnocchi making is pretty fun! And it is so reassuring to know that restaurants who make their own gnocchi, fresh, DON'T do the crazy fork markings. I still do though. It is a cute personal touch. Literally, every gnocchi gets personally TOUCHED!

The recipe that I use makes a POOP TON of gnocchi. And the gnocchi I cooked last night had been frozen, thawed in the fridge, and then rolled last night. So if you freeze the dough, it will still come out as if you didn't. When you freeze the dough, I recommend freezing it in about the size of a bratwurst, wrapped in parchment paper. When thawed, they probably need some flour added.

This recipe is from epicurious, and I think it is the same as the one I have. But I got mine from another website.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Sage Brown Butter:
2 1-pound red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), rinsed, patted dry, pierced all over with fork

1 12-ounce container fresh ricotta cheese, drained in sieve 2 hours 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 3/4 cups (about) all purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
6 tablespoons chopped fresh sage plus whole leaves for garnish

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sweet potatoes on plate; microwave on high until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Cut in half and cool. Scrape sweet potato flesh into medium bowl and mash; transfer 3 cups to large bowl. Add ricotta cheese; blend well. Add Parmesan cheese, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and nutmeg; mash to blend. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto floured surface; divide into 6 equal pieces (two pieces will create two servings, freeze the remaining). Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into 20-inch-long rope (about 1 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. Cut each rope into 20 pieces. Roll each piece over tines of fork to indent. Transfer to baking sheet.

Bring large pot of water to boil; add 2 tablespoons salt and return to boil. Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender (uh when they float, they are done), 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to clean rimmed baking sheet. Cool completely. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Preheat oven to 300°F. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until butter solids are brown and have toasty aroma, swirling pan occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Add chopped sage (mixture will bubble up). Turn off heat. Season sage butter generously with salt and pepper.

Transfer half of sage butter to large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add half of gnocchi. Sauté until gnocchi are heated through, about 6 minutes. Empty skillet onto rimmed baking sheet; place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining sage butter and gnocchi. (This seems entirely too high maintenance...just toss and go!)

Last night, I served these with Pork and a Maple Mustard Sauce (featured in a previous blog entry). This sauce actually went GREAT with the gnocchis! SO I took a picture of the gnocchi atop the sauce. A really nice and different way to eat them. And who doesn't love sweet potato with some maple syrup??

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Who's Ready for a new Apron??

These aren't your grammies aprons! I think Paris might call them, "hot."

So if you like, check out my google page for directions on how to get your very own!: Cook's Wear by Kristy.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Cook's Wear by Kristy

My cooking focus has been transferred to a focus on aprons. I want to make cute aprons. So I have been learning how to do this. I learn by trial and error, so I bought some patterns and some fabric, and I have been trying to create cute aprons. So far, I have made one. I am not sure if I should take a picture yet.

The idea: I want to sell them. I figure I can sell them a little cheaper than the boutique aprons I have seen at Anthropologie and online.

Soon I'll post my products!

In the mean time, a recap of my week in eating, so you can see how my cooking has suffered:
Monday: Chinese Take-Out
Tuesday: Leftover Chinese Take-Out
Wednesday: Chicken Caesar Salad and Orzo pasta
Thursday: Taco Bell Grilled Stuft Burrito
Friday: Peanut Butter and Jelly for far.