Friday, September 24, 2010

Birthday Dinner

I'm back! And better than ever. Ok that may be an overstatement. But I'm doing well and am putting up a long overdue post. In my defense I did loose my camera which slowed the whole posting business.

Anyhow, for my birthday last week I had family dinner with Chad(cousin), Lindsey (cousin's wife), Kenna (cousin), Evan (cousin's finance), and Mike (good friend from school). The original plan for the evening involved going out, but honestly I am more of a homebody than anything else, as you know Miss Xochi, and I love to cook for people and entertain, so this was the perfect way to celebrate my birthday. It was actually a gift for me to be able to cook and then just relax at home.

When deciding what to make I kept thinking of the Gordon Ramsay lamb shanks that I have posted on here before ( ). The sauce haunts my dreams it's so good. So, I made the lamb shanks, mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus, and for dessert drunken bananas. By the end of the meal I was so happy from all the good food vibes and happy family and friends time. I slept so deeply after everyone left, it was incredible.
Pictures from the meal are provided by Lindsey, my cousin's wife. She brought her camera over to take pictures of the food and I'm so glad she did. I LOVE Lindsey! She's the best. We forgot to photograph dessert though. I must had been too blissed-out over the food to remember, plus beer and things were consumed which make me relaxed and more forgetful.

Each of us had a whole shank for ourselves, which means that there was A LOT of food. Out of all of us, only Mike entered the "clean plate club". Everyone else had food left on our plates. That worked out just fine for Ruby though, she loved getting leftovers.

I wish you could have been there Xochi! I kept offering people tastes of the sauce as I was making it. I LOVED it! If I had been by myself I would have been a bit more amorous with the sauce. I think everyone else felt just as passionately as I did about the sauce, although it's hard to imagine someone equaling the intensity of feeling I have about that stuff. I wish I could make lip gloss out of it. *Yum*

So despite the lack of pictures of the final product, I would like to post the instructions for the "Drunken Bananas". It's basically just bananas foster, but I get a little scared/lazy to light it on fire. So it's simple, basic and completely delicious.


4 ripe bananas
2 shots brandy (you can use rum or any other brown alcohol I think, but I had brandy for cooking at my house so I used it)
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp brown sugar (I didn't use measuring utensils for this, but guessing worked out pretty well).
1 tsp cinnamon

Start by slicing the bananas. Then you melt the butter in a large sauce pan. Add the bananas. Coat the bananas with butter. After the bananas are coated add brown sugar and cinnamon. Add the brandy. Do not pour directly from the bottle to the pan. I guess this is a fire hazard. I just put the alcohol into a shot glass first. Then continue to cook the bananas until the liquid is a sauce-like consistency. This help the dessert from not tasting too much like alcohol and gives all the flavors the chance to saturate each other.

Serve over ice cream and enjoy! I've also found that these bananas make a great filling for crepes. You could even put the ice cream or nutella in the crepe with them, but that might be taking things just a little too far.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Raspberry Bavarian Cream


Tony is allergic to raspberries. I found this out this weekend when I decided to attempt Raspberry Bavarian Cream from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Tony and I had gone to the store and raspberries were ridiculously on sale- 16 ounces for $2.00. So of course we bought two containers. I needed a way to use up a bunch quickly because berries don’t stay good for long, so I pulled out Julia Child’s book and settled on this fantastic dessert (I was already thinking of doing this because I watched Julie and Julia this weekend). I used up almost all of one container and Tony scarfed down almost all of the other one. A few hours later the Bavarian Cream was done and a very red Tony and I rushed to Nugget to get Benadryl. *sigh*Looks like Chocolate Bavarian Cream from now on. ;)


Begin by thoroughly mixing 1 1/2Tbs gelatin (1 1/2 packages) with 3/4c orange juice. Set aside to soften. Separate 5 eggs. Place the yolks in a medium bowl along with 1/2c sugar and beat with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes or until the mixture is a pale yellow color and it forms a ribbon when pulled away by the beaters.


In a medium sauce pan, bring 1 and 3/4c milk to a boil on the stove. In the meantime, beat 1tsp cornstarch into the yolk mixture. When the milk is boiling, transfer it to a cup with a spout (I used my measuring cup) and slowly dribble it into the yolk mixture while beating with the electric beaters. Seriously, do this SLOWLY so the yolks don’t scramble. Pour the mixture back into the medium sauce pan and set over medium low heat. Stir slowly and constantly with a wooden spoon, scraping all along the bottom and sides until the mixture reaches 170 degrees (I used a meat thermometer) and lightly coats the back of your spoon. Don’t allow the mixture simmer! Remove from the heat and beat in 1Tbs vanilla extract. You could stop here and serve this light custard sauce warm, or you can continue on by immediately beating in the orange juice and gelatin mixture. Mix until it is completely incorporated. Rinse the medium mixing bowl and transfer the orange custard to it. Set aside to cool.


Puree about 12 ounces of raspberries in a food processor or blender. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove all seeds. You should have between 3/4c ~ 1c berry puree. Cover and set in the refrigerator. Using a wire whisk electric blender, whip 1/2c heavy whipping cream in a small bowl until stiff peaks form. Cover and set in the refrigerator.


Place the reserved egg whites in a medium bowl along with a pinch of salt. Using beater attachments on an electric mixer, beat the tar out of the whites until soft peaks form.


Sprinkle in 1Tbs granulated sugar and continue beating until the mixture becomes stiff and glossy and you can form stiff peaks with your beaters. Delicately fold this mixture into your warm custard by adding about 1/3 of the egg white mixture at a time and gently folding and scooping using a rubber spatula. The first addition will be lost in the custard, but the next two additions should make the custard noticeably lighter and fluffier. Be sure not to stir, but fold! Pop out a full tray of ice cubes into a large bowl along with 2 cups of cold water and place the medium bowl filled with the custard mixture inside to cool quickly. Gently fold the custard mixture frequently to keep it from separating.


When the mixture is cold, but not quite set, gently stir in the raspberry puree. You can leave it swirled or mix it in completely so it’s a uniform pink color (I kind of wish I’d left it marbled).


Gently swirl in the reserved whipped cream. Make a pretty pattern with this one, it’s all about looks now. At this point, Julia says to put the custard in a serving mold and then refrigerate for 3 ~ 4 hours or overnight, then pop the custard out of the mold and serve it on a chilled plate. I don’t actually have a pretty desert mold, so I left the custard in that yellow bowl and scooped out about half a cup full as I wanted it, served with a slice of Sara Lee pound cake and fresh raspberries. Oh my God Sarah, this was so good! The raspberries are just one option- you could do this with any pureed fruit, any juice, chocolate, whatever! It was rich and satisfying and took forever to make, but was so worth it. I wish you were here to eat it with me! After Tony’s rather scary immune response, he decided to not partake in the finished product. Bummer for him, but OH MAN I seriously enjoyed licking this bowl clean. :)


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Stuffed Squash Blossoms


It’s the height of summer and the Davis farmer’s market is bursting with produce. I went there this morning and loaded up on green beans, corn, celery, Meyer lemons, and was really excited to see squash blossoms! They were kind of wilted (I got there just before closing), but they called to me from their box, just begging to be bought. The guy cut me a deal (12 for $1.00 = half off, crazy right?) and I walked away smiling. I have a recipe I put in my personal recipe book last year, right around when I first started it, for fried stuffed zucchini blossoms (1) that I never got to try because the season for vegetable blossoms ended so quickly. It’s an Italian appetizer and right after snapping the shot above, me and the guys gobbled each and every fried blossom down.


To begin, you’ll need squash blossoms, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, salt, flour, baking powder, seltzer water, and oil for frying. Gently wash the blossoms and remove the pistils.


Slice the mozzarella into 1/4" wide pieces a little bit shorter than the length of the blossoms. Pick one basil leaf per flower. Roll a piece of mozzarella in a basil leaf and stuff into a blossom.


Gently twist the ends of the flower to close. Repeat until all of the blossoms have been stuffed. Pour about 1" of vegetable oil into a pan and set over medium high heat. Prepare the batter by mixing together 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp baking powder. Slowly whisk in 3/4 cup seltzer water to make a thin crepe-like batter. Test the heat of the oil by dripping a bit of the batter into the pan. When the batter immediately begins to bubble up, the oil is hot enough. Turn the hit down a smidge to maintain temperature without scorching the blossoms. Using two forks, dip a stuffed blossom into the batter and completely coat it. Transfer to the pan. Repeat until the pan is full, but not overly crowded.


Allow the blossoms to fry, turning occasionally, until slightly browned and the cheese starts to melt (3 ~ 4 minutes). Using a slotted spoon or small spider, transfer the blossoms to a paper towel-lined plate. Immediately sprinkle with salt. Repeat until all blossoms have been fried. Serve hot and enjoy!

Stuffed Squash Blossoms

  • 12 squash blossoms, pistils removed
  • 12 1/4"-wide pieces of fresh mozzarella
  • 12 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup seltzer water
  • vegetable oil for frying

Carefully rinse the blossoms. Stuff each one with a mozzarella piece wrapped in a basil leaf. Gently twist the tips of the petals to close. Place about 1" of oil in a pan over medium high heat. In a small bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder. Slowly whisk in the seltzer water. Test the heat of the oil by dropping in a bit of batter to see if it sizzles. Turn the heat down a smidge to maintain temperature. Using two forks, dip a stuffed blossom into the batter and transfer to the hot oil. Repeat until the pan is full, but not overly crowded. Allow the blossoms to cook, turning occasionally, for 3 ~ 4 minutes or until they become slightly brown and the cheese melts. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the blossoms to a plate lined with paper towels. Immediately sprinkle with salt. Repeat until all blossoms have been cooked. Serve hot and enjoy!



Sunday, May 9, 2010

Garlic Bacon Mashed Potatoes

So, I know the picture shows you the lamb too, but this post is going to focus on the delicious concoction that is "Garlic Bacon Mashed Potatoes". It is a glorious culinary delight, that combines multiple comfort foods into one (i.e. bacon, garlic, and mashed potatoes). I know that you probably won't be able to use this in your home Xochi, due to the lack of pork products, but you might be able to substitute turkey bacon. There's a good chance it won't be the same though. :oP

There is no real recipe for this, it was just a brain storm. So feel free to experiment wildly with it.

So first, boil some potatoes. I prefer to use yukon gold potatoes, but I you can use any kind you like. My grandma Sarah likes to use red potatoes. I think that yukon gold's come out a little creamier, so that's why I use them. Another thing to consider with the potato preparation is whether or not you'll peel them. I take a half-and-half approach. I'll peel the potatoes, but I'll leave on some skin. Some people like lots of skin on their mashed potatoes and others like absolutely none. It's entirely up to you how much skin you'd like.

While your potatoes are boiling, set a frying pan to medium low heat for the bacon. I used 3 slices of bacon for about a pound of potatoes. The whole thing made roughly 4-5 servings. If you want more bacon, use more, if you feel your pores clogging and your heart constricting as you read that suggestions, then this might not be the post for you.

Fry the bacon in its own delicious juices. After you've done that move the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate to soak up the excess grease.

At this point I disposed of some of my bacon grease, leaving about 2 table spoons in the pan. Put the pan on medium heat and add the minced garlic. Saute until golden brown.

At this point you can finish up the prep on the basic mashed potato recipe. Check the potatoes doneness with a fork. When you can easily puncture the potato with minimal amounts of force it is done. Generally this takes 15-20 minutes of boiling, but it depends on the potatoes, your stove, and a number of other variables.

Once you're certain that the potatoes are done, drain the water out of the pot. Add about 1/3 cup of milk, 2 tablespoons of butter, and the garlic. Then use a fork or a potato masher, or whatever you want and smash some taters! I only recently purchased a potato masher, and I really don't think using a fork is much harder.

Using a large kitchen knife chop your bacon into bits. It should crumble pretty easily. Take the bacon bits and add them to the glorious mashed potato mixture. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cinnamon Apple Crepes


So after my super long hiatus, I took a cue from you Sarah and decided to try something from Mastering the Art of French cooking- crepes! This morning I made Cinnamon Apple Crepes for breakfast (although by the time I finished it was noon so I suppose this was lunch). The crepes were adapted from MtAoFC- just the basic crepe batter for savory crepes (not dessert). The filling is my own invention, apples cooked in butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a bit of rum. This was really really good.


Begin by making your crepe batter. Combine 1/2 cup cold milk, 1/2 cup cold water, 2 eggs, 1/4 tsp salt, 3/4 cup flour, and 2 tbs melted butter in a blender and mix on high for one minute. Cover and put in the fridge while you make your filling. MtAoFC said to let the batter sit for at least 2 hours, but who has time for that?? My batter sat for about 20 minutes and the crepes turned out fine.


Next peel and dice 3 granny smith apples (I only did 2 and couldn’t stuff the crepes to capacity which was very very sad). Actually, 4 apples might be better and leftovers are delicious…


In a saucepan over medium heat, combing 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Stir the mixture till it is thoroughly combined and bubbling gently (2~3 minutes).


Toss in your diced apples and stir to coat them in your syrup. Add 1/4 cup dark rum and stir gently. Allow your mixture to bubble gently for about 5 minutes or until the apples are soft and the syrup no longer smells like alcohol. I converted this recipe from one for bananas foster and you’re supposed to light the rum on fire to make a flambĂ©. I tried that here, but it wouldn’t catch. I think the apples released too much water and it diluted the rum too much to allow for ignition. It’s okay, if you allow the mixture to cook down the flavors become more concentrated and the alcohol all burns off. Seriously tasty stuff. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.


Lightly brush a 7" chef’s skillet (pan with gently sloping sides) with vegetable oil (or use a vegetable oil spray) and set over medium heat.


When the oil is smoking hot, take the pan off the heat and pour in a little less than 1/4 cup of batter. Swirl immediately so the entire bottom of the pan is covered in a thin layer of batter. Place the pan back on the heat and allow the crepe to cook for 60~80 seconds.


As soon as the edges look slightly brown, flip your crepe over. I did this by pinching an edge with thumb and forefinger on both hands and gently flipping it, but you can also use a wide rubber spatula or if you’re really cool you can jerk the pan slightly upward just as you draw it back to you and flip it in the air (thank you Julia Child). Allow the other side to cook for about 20 seconds or until it is slightly browned. The second side doesn’t cook nearly as nicely as the first side because there are all these air pockets that get in the way and you end up with this ugly spotty mess. The second side of the cooked crepe always ends up as the inside of the served crepe, just because the first side cooked is always the prettiest with all it’s lacy brown coloring. See?

IMG_5038 IMG_5053

Repeat this process till all of the batter is used up (I made 10 crepes). Keep the crepes stacked one on top of another and that will keep them warm and pliable. Fill each crepe with the cooked apples and roll into a crepe shape keeping the end of the crepe tucked underneath. Drizzle with the brown sugar sauce and serve warm. Tony mentioned he would have liked some whipped cream with the crepes. I understand, something creamy would have definitely added to the experience. If these had been for dessert I would have served them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I think I’ll take some ricotta cheese and mix in a little bit of honey and spread that on the bottom of each crepe next time, then put the apples on top, sort of like a cheese blintz. What do you think?

Cinnamon Apple Crepes


For the crepes:

  • 1/2 c cold water
  • 1/2 c cold milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c flour
  • 2 tbs melted butter

For the apple filling:

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 granny smith apples (peeled and diced)
  • 1/4 c dark rum

Begin by making your crepe batter. Combine 1/2 cup cold water, 1/2 cup cold milk, 2 eggs, 1/4 tsp salt, 3/4 cup flour, and 2 tbs melted butter in a blender and mix on high for one minute. Cover and place in the fridge to set while you make your filling.

To make the filling heat 1/2 cup butter in a large skillet and add 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Stir to combine. Add the apples and toss to coat. Add the rum and stir gently. Allow the mixture to bubble slightly until the apples are soft and the syrup no longer smells like alcohol (about 5 minutes). Set aside.

Lightly brush a 7" chef’s skillet with vegetable oil and place over medium heat. When the oil is smoking hot, remove the pan from the heat and pour in slightly less than 1/4 cup crepe batter. Swirl so the batter evenly coats the bottom of the pan. Return the pan to the heat and allow the crepe to cook for 60~80 seconds or until the edges of the crepe turn slightly brown. Flip the crepe and cook the other side for about 20 seconds or until that side is just barely browned. Remove to a plate and repeat the process till all the batter is gone (makes about 10 crepes).

Fill each crepe with the desired amount of apple mixture and roll tucking the seam underneath. Drizzle with the brown sugar mixture and serve warm. A scoop of vanilla ice cream makes a fantastic side. Enjoy!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Coq au Vin

After a month long hiatus from the kitchen (thanks a lot grad school), I'm back and I think I might be better than ever. For my return I choose a challenging and time consuming dish that is worth every bit of effort I put forth.

Coq au Vin. Or Cock of the Wine (get your mind out of the gutter, it's talking about chicken). It might at well be called "The Best Freakin' Chicken You'll Ever Eat" or "Kill Me Now I Can Die A Happy Woman". It really is that good. My taster, John, who is usually very stingy with compliments, said this about the dish. "Sarah, you should start a restaurant and just serve this every three hours." It and the lamb shanks are battling it out for the best things I've ever made. John likes this better, but I'm not sure there's a clear winner, except for me for getting to eat this stuff.

I used to be skeptical about French food. Why were they the gourmet touch stone? They had snails, bread, and cheese, but the Italians had pasta, prosciutto and risotto. It seemed like a no brainer to me. Now, I think I know the secret to the France's culinary success. It consists of three things: Butter, Bacon, and Alcohol. You really can't go wrong with that combination. Each French dish I've made thus far has moderate usage of all three, and I really think they were on to something.

Then of course there's the braising and the sauces. Okay okay, I guess I just didn't know enough about French food to fully appreciate it. But now, I've been converted. It may take a ridiculous amount of time to make (3-4 hours), but the end result is so good that it's totally worth it.

The recipes so large (5 lbs of chicken) that I will be eating leftovers of this all week long. I served it over mashed potatoes to make the dish go even further and I cannot comprehend getting tired of it, even if I eat it for every meal for the rest of the week.

(This is how excited I am about this meal!)

Coq au Vin
From Molly Stevens All About Braising


1/4 pound slab bacon rind removed, cut into 1/2-inch dice
One 4 1/2 to 5 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces (I just got a whole cut up chicken from the market, it's way easier)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
All purpose flour for dredging (about 1/2 a cup)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion (about 8 oz.), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 carrot, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons Cognac or other good brandy
One 750-ml bottle dry, fruity red wine
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup chicken stock (I used my homemade vegetable stock that I had in the freezer)

The garnish:
10 oz. pearl onions (about 24; frozen pearl onions, not thawed, may be substituted) [I used frozen and they worked great!]
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. First for the bacon. Place the diced bacon in a cold, large Dutch oven or other heavy lidded braising pot, set over medium heat, and cook the bacon, stirring often with a slotted spoon, until well browned and crisp on the outside but with some softness inside, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Set the pot with the rendered bacon fat aside off the heat.

2. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

3. Rinse the chicken pieces with cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Season on all sides with salt and pepper. Spread the flour in a wide shallow dish, and dredge half the chicken pieces one at a time, pacing each one in the flour, turning to coat both sides, and then lifting and patting lightly to shake off any excess [I dredged all the pieces at once to save time and counter space, just note that you won't be able to brown them all in the same batch].

4. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the rendered bacon fat in the pot and place over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, ease in the dredged pieces of chicken, skin side down, without crowding.

Sear on both sides, turning once with tongs [I had no tongs so I used two forks and probably singed off some arm hair... must buy tongs], until a deep golden brown crust forms, 7 to 10 minutes total.

Transfer the chicken to a large platter; dredge the remaining pieces [I did this step earlier], discard the flour. Add another tablespoon butter to the pot, sear the remaining chicken. The second batch may brown faster, lower the heat if it begins to burn at all. Transfer the chicken to the platter, pour off the fat from the pot without discarding the tasty browned bits. Return the pot to medium heat.

5. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and melt it over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot, and toss to coat the vegetables in the butter.

Saute, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are beginning to soften and are flecked with brown, about five minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to smear the paste through the vegetables. Add the Cognac [I used a shot glass and had to use slightly more than 2 tablespoons in order to deglaze the pot] and bring to a boil to deglaze, scraping the pot with a wooden spoon to dislodge the crust [the crust is what makes the whole thing so glorious]. Simmer, stirring a few times, until the liquid is almost all gone. Raise the heat to high, add the red wine, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and parsley, and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to medium-high and simmer rapidly until the wine reduces by about half, about 15 minutes. Stir in the reserved bacon and the stock and bring to a boil. Using a ladle, scoop out 1/2 cup of braising liquid and set aside for later cooking the pearl onions.

6. Add the chicken pieces to the pot in this order: place the legs, thighs, and wings in the pot first, then put the breast pieces on top of them, skin side down. (Keeping the breast pieces on top protects them from overcooking and drying out.) Pour in any juices that collected as the chicken sat and bring to a simmer [I forgot to add the chicken juice and didn't notice a difference, but it would be a good point to remember the more juiciness the better].

Cover the chicken with parchment paper, pressing down so that the paper nearly touches the chicken and extends over the sides of the pot by about an inch [I also forgot to get parchment paper and thus skipped this step as well. The chicken was definitely not dry at the end of this so I wonder what purpose the parchment paper serves.]. Cover with the lid and place on a rack in the lower third of the oven to braise. After 15 minutes, turn the breast pieces over with tongs [or forks]. At the same time, check that the liquid is simmering quietly. If not, lower the oven temp by 10 or 15 degrees. Continue braising gently for another 45 to 60 minutes, or until the breasts and dark meat are fork tender.

7. Meanwhile, cook the garnish. [I used frozen pearl onions for this, so I'm skipping her step for boiling and peeling fresh ones.] Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute, stirring and shaking, until tinged with brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, add the reserved 1/2 cup of braising liquid, cover and simmer, shaking the pan frequently, until the onions are tender when pierced (3 to 4 minutes, if using frozen; 12 if not). Remove the lid, increase the heat to medium high, and boil to reduce the liquid to a glaze.

Transfer the onions and liquid to a small bowl, scraping the pan with a rubber spatula [I had to remind myself that the pan was hot to keep from licking the glaze off of it. So good!]. Return the pan to a medium-high heat and add the remaining 1.5 tablespoons of butter. When the butter stops foaming, add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and saute briskly. The mushrooms may release a lot of liquid at first. Continue to saute, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms develop an attractive chestnut brown sear, about 10 minutes. Remove them from the heat and return the onions and liquid to the skillet. Set aside.

8. Take the chicken out of the oven. It looks and smells like heaven. Try to refrain from dipping your head into the pot, or attempting to make love to the chicken at this point [that's from me, not Molly].

Remove the chicken pieces to a platter and cover the chicken to keep it warm. Let the braising liquid settle and then skim off any fat from the top. Place the pot over high heat and bring the juices to a boil. Reduce the juices until thickened to the consistency of a vinaigrette, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf.

Lower the heat, add the onion mushroom garnish, heat through, about more 4 minutes.

Spoon the sauce over the chicken pieces, sprinkle with the chopped parsley, and serve.

Prepare to have a foodgasm. Try to keep your "O" noises to a minimum so the neighbors don't get concerned.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Banana Nut Friendship Bread


So I sort of allowed my one yeast baggie to grow into twelve and I’ve been forced to bake pretty much every day to keep them from taking over the kitchen. The original Friendship Bread recipe leaves a lot of room for experimentation so I decided to tackle banana nut bread. I substituted bananas in for liquid and made a few other changes and surprisingly enough, it worked! I’m trying new versions for scones and chocolate chocolate chip bread this week too. Once I perfect those puppies, I’ll record the recipes for you Sarah (or anyone else who wants them!) so you can have a bunch of options when you get your starter. ;) I’ve found that the longer you allow your yeast to grow the more your baked goods rise when cooked. If you use a starter right when you split it, the final version doesn’t have that awesome fluffy bread-like quality. So wait! Ignore my previous post’s instructions and use a starter when it’s at least 5 days old. Okay, so on to Banana Nut Friendship Bread!


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease two non metal loaf pans with butter and sprinkle all the sides with cinnamon sugar (1/4 cup sugar plus 1 tsp cinnamon).


In a non-metal bowl smash 2 large bananas (or 3 smallish ones). To that add an aged yeast starter, 2 eggs, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup oil, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 cup sugar, 2 cups flour, 1 box of instant banana (or vanilla or white chocolate) pudding mix, and 1 cup chopped walnuts. Mix with a non-metal spoon until just combined.


Pour your batter into the prepared pans so they are no more than 3/4 full. Sprinkle the tops liberally with cinnamon sugar. Pop them in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. The length of baking time will vary greatly depending on the size and shape of your loaf pans so keep an eye on them! Cool and invert the pan over a plate and the bread should slide right out. Slice and enjoy!

Banana Nut Friendship Bread

  • Friendship Yeast Bread Starter (Mine was about 5 days old)
  • 2 large bananas (mashed)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 box instant pudding (banana, vanilla, or white chocolate)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease two non metal loaf pans with butter and sprinkle all the sides with cinnamon sugar (1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon). Combine all ingredients in a non-metal bowl with a non-metal spoon. Pour the batter into your prepared pans so they are about 3/4 full (less is okay, more is NOT). Sprinkle the tops with more cinnamon sugar and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes or until the tops are nice and brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. The baking time will vary depending on your pan size and shape so you just have to keep an eye on them and allow them to bake until the bread is totally set. When the loaves are done, remove from the oven and cool until you can handle them. Invert a pan over a plate and slide the bread out. Slice and enjoy!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blueberry Friendship Muffins


My buddy Ted recently gave me a ziplock bag full of a sloppy yeast mixture he swore turned into the most delicious bread he’d ever eaten- Friendship Bread. I was skeptical, but Ted was true to his word and this bread was amazing. It’s not really bread, it’s more like a cake. The key is to have this yeast mixture which is fed and grown by each person who receives it (I’m saving one for you when you come up here for Picnic Day Sarah!).  You allow your baggie to sit at room temperature and ferment for 10 days. At the end of the cycle you put your slightly smelly yeast mixture into a non-metal bowl along with 1.5 c sugar, 1.5 c flour, and 1.5 c milk and mix with a non-metal spoon. Portion that new mix out into 4 ziplock bags (about 1 cup each) and give three to friends. With the remaining portion you can make friendship bread!


In a non-metal bowl mix together one of your newly split yeast mixtures plus 3 eggs, 1 cup oil, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 tsp salt,                  1 1/2 tsp vanilla, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder,               1/2 tsp baking soda, 2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 large box instant pudding (try vanilla first).


Gently fold in 1 lb frozen blueberries (you can substitute anything else here that you want, like nuts, dry fruit, chocolate chips, etc).


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 or 3 cupcake trays with paper liners (this recipe makes about 30 muffins). You could also grease those cupcake trays with butter and then sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar (1/4c sugar plus 1 tsp cinnamon) but I was mistrustful of this because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get the muffins out. :) Fill the trays almost completely full and sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar. Pop them in the oven for 45 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool and enjoy!

Blueberry Friendship Muffins

  • 1 freshly split cup (or so) of yeast mixture
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c oil
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 large box instant pudding (vanilla is a good choice)
  • 1 lb frozen blueberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 or 3 cupcake trays with paper liners (makes about 30 muffins).
  2. Combine all ingredients (except the blueberries) in a non-metal bowl and mix with a non-metal spoon. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  3. Fill each cupcake liner almost completely full. Mix 1/4c sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon to make cinnamon sugar. Sprinkle each muffin with a bit of cinnamon sugar.
  4. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  5. Cool and enjoy!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Italian Egg Soup


We’re almost into spring up here, but the weather has been fickle and vacillating back and forth between blue skies and warm weather to cold, gray, rainy days. I wanted something warm a few days ago and Italian Egg Soup totally fit the bill. This soup is a take on a classic Italian dish called “stracciatella” which is taken from the Italian word stracciato meaning “torn apart.” This is a direct reference to the way the eggs are cooked in the dish. At the very end of the cooking process you whisk in some lightly beaten eggs which transform the soup from brothy to creamy, flecked with little feathery egg bits that melt in your mouth and give the soup a curiously thick and luscious taste. The original recipe is really light, usually only comprised of chicken broth, herbs, and eggs. This recipe is much heartier and really flavorful while still being extremely healthy. I thought it was a really filling dinner (with a side of french bread), but Tony caved about half an hour after inhaling his soup and ate a couple of turkey dogs. I think his body wanted more calories- there are like 200 in one bowl of soup. This is basically delicious diet food. :)


Begin by heating 6 cups of chicken (or veggie) broth and 2 cups of water in a covered medium sized soup pot. In the meantime,  chop one bunch of green onions (chives, scallions, whatever) separating your white ends from your greens. Add the white ends to the broth as well as a washed 15 ou can of cannellini (white kidney) beans and 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg. Let this mix come to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Add 2 cups of whole wheat Rotini pasta and simmer uncovered for about half as long as the box says to cook the pasta, or about 4 minutes. I really love whole wheat for this because it’s super healthy, has a great nutty flavor, and it’s sturdy enough to retain some bite after sitting in warm soup for a long time.


While the soup is simmering, grab about 4 leaves of mustard greens (or as much of some other light tasting, leafy green lettuce-style veggie to produce about 3 cups of chopped greens). Remove the tough middle stem and stack the leaves on top of each other to prepare for a chiffonade cut. Roll them like you’re trying to make a long tube (it kind of looks like a cigar) and then, starting on one end of the tube, slice down to make a ring about as thick as your finger is wide and move all the way down your tube making this cut. It’s easy if you keep your knife tip on the board and your most distal knuckles acting as a guiding cut point for the broad side of your knife. Set the greens aside and lightly beat 6 eggs in a cup.


After about 4 minutes of boiling toss in your mustard greens and allow them to wilt for about a minute.


Stream the beaten eggs into the soup while whisking vigorously. The liquid changes from a clear, brown broth to a lighter, cloudier soup. The egg bits should settle into small, feathery pieces when they cook. Allow the soup to simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Add about 1/4 tsp black pepper, 4 tbsp lemon juice, and all of the green tops from the onions. Adjust for taste.


Ladle the soup into some bowls and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. This soup would go really well with some crusty french bread or garlic bread and maybe a Cesar salad. I hope you try it!

Italian Egg Soup

  • 6 cups chicken or veggie broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 15 ounce can Cannellini beans, washed
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced, whites and greens separated
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups whole wheat Rotini pasta
  • 3 cups chopped mustard greens
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste

In a covered medium pot bring the broth, water, beans, onion whites, and nutmeg to a boil. Uncover and reduce to a simmer. Add the pasta and cook for half as long as the box instructions direct you to, or about 4 minutes. As the pasta boils, chop your greens chiffonade-style and lightly beat your eggs in a cup.

Add your mustard greens to the pot and let them wilt in the soup for about a minute. While whisking constantly, stream in the beaten eggs (they should look like little feathery strands as they set). Allow the soup to cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and mix in the pepper and lemon juice. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with french bread or garlic bread. Enjoy and remember you can easily mix up these ingredients!