Monday, October 12, 2009

Food Network Finally Hits one outta the park.

I used to be a HUGE fan of the food network, but well, it's gotten kind of - I don't know, um icky. I've really lost faith in their chef choices lately. I mean Ellie Kreiger gives me the creeps - no body - I mean NO BODY smiles that much! And the chick that does the cooking for a week shtick - puh-lease! Even the old standbys don't do it for me any more Emeril is looking pretty apoplectic and Giada's big head is well bigger and her food doesn't match! Paula Dean's food is starting to become too repetitive - butta butta butta - oh and a dash of mayo to go with. Sorry Paula, now I love me some butta but there is a limit ya know. Guy Fieri - nope, I won't even go there - blechk.

Admittedly I don't watch much anymore because it was getting stale so I may be missing some new and fresh stuff. Actually I guess I HAVE because I watched Anne Burrell on "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" the other day. She's a little bit out there and that was good. I liked her style and the way she was kinda just talking to herself and cooking away. I truly believed it when she tasted the dish and did a little happy dance cause it was so good - unlike the Giada Cranberry Granita Debacle.

**See Giada cringe at her own recipe!

Anyway I happened upon Anne cooking Butternut Squash Soup - one of my all time fav winter warming meals! Well, it looked interesting enough that I decided to watch the entire show - and boy am I glad I did!

The other recipe featured on the show as Braised Cabbage Stuffed with Pork. I had actually missed the beginning bit and came in right when she was rolling the cabbage leaves...she made it look SO easy! Once finished and put together this dish looked like something that I HAD to try.

I went out and bought all the ingredients - which for some weird reason I had not one thing in the recipe in the house. Well, M took me shopping and while we were driving I mentioned maybe serving orzo with the cabbage and M just looked at me like I had made up the word. So, I explained what orzo was and he made a quantum leap - Risotto, me likey - ya I guess I shouldn't have described the orzo as looking like rice! I'll leave the risotto story for another post though...Anyway I gathered up all the bits and pieces and went home to gleefully cook all day.

Now the recipe is listed as easy and it really wasn't tough, but there were a lot of steps so it was way more time consuming than the 30 minutes of the show! Gee wish I had a souse chef to do all my grunt work!

Don't make the same mistake I made with the sauce veggies - I should have processed them a little longer to achieve a real paste, mine was kind of a little chunky - didn't alter the flavor but it kept the sauce from being as smooth as I would have liked. One other thing I changed - I HATE LOATH DESPISE Rosemary - and it called for a lot in the stuffing. Nope sorry that bit got skipped, I replaced it with more Thyme and a little more red pepper flakes than they called for. The flavor was superb if I do say so myself. Oh, word to the wise - cook more cabbage than you think you'll need. The fakin' stuff disintegrated while I was preparing the other ingredients - and no I did not over cook it. It just kinda tore into small pieces all by itself (That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!).

Another pitfall? Pan size, make sure you have a big enough skillet to accommodate all those yummy bundles. I was a little tight on space and my giant skillet didn't have a cover so I just skipped the cover and simmer 15 minutes and just simmered the whole thing for 30 minutes or so.

Let me tell you, I have never had stuffed cabbage before so it was a total and very pleasant surprise when I tasted them. Oh, my YUM YUM YUM!

This is a real keeper and a great meal for a very blustery fall day (ya 46 degrees on Oct 10 global warming my a'nt fanny).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Constitution Day

Lo those many years ago, on this day in 1787, did 39 great Americans set pen to paper to sign the single most important document in the history of these United States.

Take a moment to contemplate the power which that single piece of paper has wielded, the security which that piece of paper has provided, the freedom that you have enjoyed under it's shadow.

Now think about what would have happened if those men had never met.

Protect the Constitution.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Zia Zhiang Mien

One of my mostest favoritest dishes at the local Chinese restaurant is Zia Zhiang Noodles and one of my mostest favoritest blogs is "use real butter" - with a name like that how can you go wrong -right?

Anyway I can't tell you how THRILLED I was to come across Jennifer's post titled "Very Cool". She gives a fabulous (as always) recipe with gorgeous (as always again) pictures and instructions that even my husband could follow! Okay, maybe not M, but you get the idea. The recipe of the day was Zia Zhiang Mien and I just could not pass it up!

A few months ago a little Asian Market (ya, that's what they call it too!) opened up right across the street from where I work. I had occasion to drop in to pick up fish sauce for last week's short ribs and was completely in awe of all the neat stuff they had! With recipe in hand I dropped in and started the hunt for all the lovelies in Jennifer's Dad's recipe. Well, thank gawd she had pictures of everything! Let me tell you, Asian Markets are, well, Asian, and 99% of what they have is not labeled in English (some stuff was but where's the adventure in that?!). Anyway with lots of hand gestures and some help from the shop keeper's son I was able to get everything I needed and all for under 20 bucks. I just LOVE this place!!!!

There's lots of chopping and dicing which I find to be pure joy. And I was inspired by the beauteous photos so I even put everything into pretty little bowls and took my own photo - not as pretty as Jen's but I'm proud just the same.

The recipe turned out just wonderful, reminiscent of my local fave, but much better. I was so pleased, it even looked right - and the flavors were perfect - although just a tiny bit too spicy for me, so next time I will cut the chili garlic sauce by a little - not a lot though, the flavor mellowed a little over night (left overs for lunch - heaven!). I don't know about you but when I can reproduce (even better) a dish that I have had in a restaurant I fee pretty good! Give this one a try you won't be disappointed.

You can find the recipe here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Not Just A Pretty Face

Ya, by now everyone knows I'm a sucker for a pretty face, or in this case a pretty picture. I spotted the magazine cover from the opposite end of the aisle. fine Cooking June/July 2009, Issue #99. The cover featured a beautiful shot of beef short ribs - and of course the word ice cream was printed there as well - talk about your eye candy!!!!

I've been trying to limit my magazine purchases to avoid a possible landslide of monumental proportions from crushing some unsuspecting passer by in my house. Nine times out of 10 I thumb through and to see if there really is a recipe in that issue that I would ACTUALLY make. Problem is, until my recent attempt at reform I ALWAYS decided that there was. And, like so many other cooking mag addicts I would dog ear the page and set it aside to "make this soon". As stated my "make this soon" pile has become a hazard. This time I didn't, I just grabbed up the pretty picture and scurried to the register to purchase my guilty prize before anyone caught on.

I didn't relegate this mag to the "pile", this time I kept it floating around the kitchen, then neatly stacked on top of the magazines on the coffee table - basically in my face at all time. And, in M's - which one day resulted in him asking "are ya gonna make this?" while holding up said pretty picture and pointing? What else could I say but "yup".

Part of what attracted me to this mag was the short ribs - I seem to be stumbling over short rib recipes like it's some kind of message lately. Well I figured it was time to heed the call and make some! Over the last few weeks I've seen short ribs at my local bulk food store on a regular basis so that's where I headed once the decision was made. Well, let me tell ya, it must have been a mirage because there was a dearth of short ribs in my area. I tried said bulk food store - beep thank you for playing...I tried the grocery store I NEVER shop at any more because they had the audacity to change hands and change floor plans, again beep. However, I was regaled by the Meat Manager for a solid 10 minutes about something to do with ordering and green and slimy. I'm pretty sure he was speaking English, or some English. Ya, I could not understand a freakin' word this guy was saying but he was on a roll so I just stood there, smiled like an idiot, nodding like a bobble head doll until it seemed like he had finished...then I dropped my basket and ran!!!

Last resort was another local, but kinda out of the way store that I hardly use but M thought it might be worth a shot. Thank gawd for M - although they did not have the English Short Ribs called for in the recipe they did have boneless short ribs. I got a very good explanation of butchery from a nice young man (did I really say that - man I'm getting old). Well he talked me into trying the boneless 'cause - guess what - short ribs are a FALL food item! Ya, like why would a magazine print a recipe for summer grilling using an item usually reserved for fall???? (To their credit they do mention you may need to special order - way in the backity back of the magazine).

I had to make a few adjustments due to the fact that I used 4 pounds of boneless meat rather than bone in...more meat guys, oh ya! I also did not use the grill for braising as called for in the recipe, it was just too much of a pain and the bugs were crazy that night. Other than that I followed the recipe closely and was rewarded with short rib perfection! My photo is not as pretty as fine Cooking's is but boy the ribs were spectacular!!

There are heaps of steps so plan accordingly. I made this on a week night, next time I will save this for a weekend. Oh, any changes I made are noted in my version of the recipe - click the link below the photo.

Friday, August 07, 2009

There really is no Blue Food

Gorganzola...doesn't really roll off the tongue now does it? And why would it with all that FUZZ. I am not a fan of Blue Cheese in general - I like it IN things but not on it's own. Oh no, that nasty mold just makes my skin not only crawl, but bunch right up and run away!!!EUWWIE. KAK. YUCK.

Now if you mix it into something, say a dressing or sauce - Gorganzola Cream being my absolute fav - so I can't see the offending fuzz - well then okey dokey I'm in. I mean not all blue cheese is fuzzy, I admit, but some have those weird little icky looking blackish chunky bits - hang on I have rub the goose bumps off my arms...Okay, better now, I think I'll just skip the mental visuals for now!

I'm really not adventurous when it comes to food, normally I throw stuff out that has grown hair! SO imagine my surprize - first when I chose this recipe, and second when I absolutely loved it!!!

Pasta with Asparagus and Gorgonzola Sauce

I was just browzing my fav italian cook book - Betty Crocker's Cooking Italian - when the beautiful photo caught my eye. I was sold by the photo and only slightly dismayed when I read the gorgonzola part. I figured if it looked THAT good it had to taste THAT good!

Well, I have made the recipe twice. The first time I skipped the parsley 'cause I was out, ya I know "what a chef" no parsley - sheesh. We really liked it, but I thought well, it could be creamier and it needed, um something.

I decided to try it again, this time using the parsley - should have skipped it, it was pretty strong. I also added the "creamy" that was missing by adding a little pasta water to emulsify things (that's my 50 cent word of the week!). The "something" I thought it needed was a squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the end - perfect. Even with the parsley this one was great! I'll drop the parsley and dub this one a keeper!

** Oh, and I flung some extra gorganzola on top for artistic license!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Listen to this Man

This is the best thing I have seen with regard to health care out there. This is a smart man, I would vote for him - too bad I am from the People's Republic of Massachusetts.

Don't let big governement force YOU to reduced quality care, rationing and a reduced quality of life. You work hard you should be able to keep your money AND your health care. It's yours, you worked for it, no one GAVE it to you...Vote them OUT!!!