Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rainy Saturday

It's been raining hard all day. Cold, hard, windy rain. It's my kind of day because it gives me an excuse to relax and read what I love the most: cookbooks. I just received my copies of The Pioneer Woman Cooks and Steamy Kitchen. The Pioneer Woman Cooks is the most beautiful cookbook I have in my collection- without a doubt. Last night I made a recipe from Steamy Kitchen: Beef and Broccoli. Delicious. Get these books. Now.

Tonight's dinner is about comfort and belly warming. I'm making roast chicken and potatoes, sauteed veggies and Cornbread Yeast Rolls that I read about in this month's Southern Home Living. Yes, I read it. Yes, I live in Oregon. Yes, I still giggle when I read "y'all" in print.

Here's the first rising. Can't you smell the lovely yeastiness?

Second rise after shaping:

Here's the finished product in all its glory! You can see that I already did a QC test- very important before serving. I love these rolls!

Cornbread Yeast Rolls- recipe from Southern Home Living November 2009

Makes 16- 18 rolls depending how small you like them

1 (1/4 oz.) envelope active dry yeast
1 c. warm water (105 degrees- 115 degrees)
1 T. sugar
4 c. bread flower, divided
1/4 c. honey
4 T. butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. plain yellow cornmeal
2 T. plain yellow cornmeal
1 large egg, beaten
1 T. sesame seeds
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper

1 Stir together yeast, 1 c. warm water and sugar in a 2 c. glass measuring cup. Let stand 5 minutes.

2. Beat yeast mixture and 2 c. flour at low speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer, using dough hook attachment, until combined. Add honey, butter, 2 eggs, salt and 1/4 c. cornmeal. Beat at medium-low speed until well blended, scraping bowl as necessary. Gradually beat in remaining 2 c. flour. Continue beating until a dough forms and begins to pull away from sides of bowl. Dough will be sticky. Beat dough 1 minute.

3. Coat a large bowl with oil, place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.

4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silpat. Dust each lined pan with 1 T. cornmeal.

5. Punch dough down, turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 1 minute. Shape dough into 16- 18 balls and place on prepared baking sheets. Cover with clean kitchen towels and let rise 1- 1 1/2 hours until doubled in bulk.

6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Gently brush rolls with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and ground pepper. Bake 18-22 minutes or until golden on top and when bottom is tapped they sound hollow. Let cool on baking sheet. Serve immediately.

To make ahead, prepare recipe as directed through Step 5. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Chill 24 hours. Uncover and bake as directed.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Southern Fried Chicken from the Eastern Suburbs of the Pacific Northwest

Last week I treated myself to a nice dinner at Pomegranate in Redmond, WA. The restaurant is owned by Lisa Dupar, a well-known caterer and fixture in the Seattle culinary scene. I always enjoy open kitchens and Pomegranate's is. As is the catering kitchen adjacent to the seating area. It's live dinner theatre at its best.

I adapted Lisa's Southern Fried Chicken for last night's dinner. 

1 Whole Grown Fryer- cut for frying
Mix together your favorite blend of freshly ground pepper, minced herbs and salt
1 c. buttermilk mixed with 2 eggs
Flour- all purpose
2-3 sleeves of saltine crackers- crushed with a rolling pin until you have coarse crumbs.
Corn, peanut or canola oil for frying in a pan.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Season chicken with your favorite seasoning blend. Dust with flour.

Dip chicken into the buttermilk egg wash.

Roll dipped chicken pieces in the crushed saltines making sure they adhere.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet on medium high heat.

Fry chicken on both sides until golden brown. Keep an eye on it as it browns quickly. Place on baking sheet and bake for 40- 45 minutes until chicken is done.

I served it with roasted broccolini and garlic.

Because I don't like to waste anything in the kitchen, I rendered the chicken fat and skin to make gribbeness. I saved the chicken fat for chopped liver and scarfed down the gribbeness. So good.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my Mom's birthday. Mom is a breast cancer survivor. She got the news and, in her quiet, strong way, went through treatment, listened to her doctors and beat this insidious disease.

My renewed high school friend, Vera, is aggressively working to triumph over this disease that was in her body. She's not quiet about it because knows that knowledge is power.

To these two incredibly strong women in my life, thank you!

In honor of Mom, here is her Peanut Butter and Potato Chip Sandwich that I loved so much as a kid.

Peanut Butter and Potato Chip Sandwich

Serves 1

2 slices of your favorite bread- toasted
Peanut Butter- I prefer chunky
a handful of potato chips- Wise brand is good because they have darker chips.

Smear peanut butter on the top side of both slices of bread.

Put the potato chips on one of the bread slices. Press the chips slightly into the peanut butter.

Top with the other smeared slice of bread.

Lightly press together.

Cutting the sandwich in half is optional.

Crunch and enjoy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday is Laundry Day in New Orleans- Red Beans and Rice

One of the very first things I learned when I moved New Orleans is that Monday is Laundry Day and Laundry Day means Red Beans and Rice. Back in the days when laundry was done by hand, Red Beans and Rice was prepared early in the morning and put on the stove to simmer all day.

Today is Monday and I am doing laundry. In my sparkly energy-efficient machine. My knuckles are spared but here's the goodness just the same.

Red Beans and Rice

Serves 6-8

1 pound dried red beans
3 quarts water or more as needed
1/4- 1/2 pound andouille sausage or chicken cut into cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 t. dried
1/4 small fresh or dried red chile pepper flakes- or more to your taste
salt and black pepper to taste
2 c. freshly cooked white rice
chopped parsley for garnish

1. Wash the beans thoroughly. Bring 1 1/2 quarts of the water to boil in large pot. Add the beans and boil 5 minutes.

2. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the beans to soak for 1 hour.

3. Drain the beans and set aside.

4. Add 1 1/2 quarts of the fresh water to the pot. Add meat, onion, celery, bay leaves, thyme, chile pepper. Bring to boil and cook 20 minutes. Add red beans and simmer until they are tender but not mushy. About 1 hour.

5. Discard the meat, onion, celery and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. There should be some sauce but the beans should not be soupy. If there's too much sauce, bring heat to high and boil to reduce.

6. Serve the beans over cooked white rice. Pass with hot sauce.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cliches That Are Important In My Life

The cliches, "leave it all there" and "stay in the moment" are constants in my life. I understand "leave it all there"  means to devote 110% to my task all the time. This isn't much of a challenge as I'm a Type A personality.

"Stay in the moment" means to cool my jets and pay attention to now. This one is tough. Today's "stay in the moment" lesson happened in this morning's spin class. My teacher, Theresa, is a dynamo and today The Dynamo had us doing sprint intervals. Two of my least favorite training mechanisms. I was thinking about other things and should've been in the moment of when I was to be standing and sprinting. I only made a slight fool of myself. I could have, however, missed something important. It was a great class and I'm that kind of good tired that I feel after a strong workout.

Trainers and nutritionists tell us that we should rehydrate immediately after a workout and refuel our bodies with protein and carbs soon after as well. Here's what I'm refueling with:

Cannellini Bean Dip

1-15 oz. can of Cannellinni beans- well rinsed and drained
3-4 heads roasted garlic, mashed
1 T. chopped fresh rosemary (if you have dried on hand, cut the quantity in half)
2-3 T. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the beans, garlic and rosemary in food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse 5-6 times so everything starts to blend. Turn the processor on to puree and slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the dip is a consistency that you like. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

I like to let it sit for at least an hour so the flavors blend well. If you're hungry now, dive in.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Show Me The Way

I've been rolling this blog around in my head for over a year and here I am. I grew up in a conservative Jewish household on the east coast. We didn't eat pork in our home and, come to think of it, didn't have shrimp, lobster or oysters either. I do, however, have a great memory of bellying up to an oyster bar with my Mom in Annapolis, MD. She showed me the way. I was initiated into the sheer joy of a dozen oysters on the half shell. Every other one was dolloped with horseradish and a hit of Tabasco. A later camping trip to Rehoboth Beach, DE introduced me to steamed lobster, drawn butter and the obligatory corn on the cob. It counted as our vegetable in the meal. Briny lobster juice dripped down our arms, sunburn was forgotten and life stood still. Flash forward thirty + years to the first breakfast I made for my Boyfriend Who Became My Husband The Engineer. Bacon? You want me to cook bacon? I I I never cooked bacon before. I am confident in the kitchen. I can make practically anything.  I had to remind him that I didn't grow up eating it and, therefore, didn't know about or miss it. Would he please give me the inside scoop on the proper way to cook a piece of bacon? He did. That is how I came to love pork.