Thursday, August 24, 2006

Breakfast, southern style

Breakfast when Trey stays over is one way to tell that he grew up with more southern influences than I did. This morning he requested that I make something that I'd never really had before, much less cooked. He wanted buttermilk biscuits with sausage gravy (and then he wanted more sausage and scrambled eggs on the side). So, I set about looking for a recipe and cooking everything to the best of my ability, this was the result:

One of the things that helped out with making this was that I already had buttermilk in the fridge from when I made the buttermilk mashed potatoes the other night. The recipe I used to make the buttermilk biscuits was originally from, and it makes a dozen biscuits, but I couldn't imagine the two of us being able to eat that many before they dried out, so I cut the recipe in half and made six hearty biscuits instead.

The biscuits come out moist and flaky and delicious, I had one with the sausage gravy (as Trey suggested) and one with cherry preserves, which was also exceptionally tasty. Here are the two variations:

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

New Pork Roast

Tonight's dinner was a product of happenstance. I had decided to make a roasted pork tenderloin, but I wanted something other than the two ways I usually make it. I was hoping to get a recipe from Carol that she made for us in Montana, but she was nowhere to be found. But, as luck would have it, the newest issue of Everyday Food arrived today, so just as I was contemplating the fate of dinner, a new plan fell into my hands. I decided to make Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Apples and Onions with Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes and Wilted Spinach and Cherry Tomatoes. If that laundry list of dishes doesn't inspire you, let me offer a picture of the finished product...
This was our dinner:

Everyone agreed this was really good. Each element was flavorful and delicious and all the dishes went well together. The pork tenderloin came out perfectly cooked, full of flavor, and quite moist. My only complaint was the issue of the glaze. The glaze went on top in the beginning but it was supposed to be brushed on, and that was virtually impossible due to the consistency of the stuff. I drizzled it on instead and then set some aside as directed to drizzle on at the end. By the time the meat was done cooking the glaze had gone completely hard, so I reheated it and then drizzled. The result was pleasing to the eye, but the drizzles hardened and were nearly impossible to eat, so they were mostly discarded. This could have been my fault and I could have somehow made the glaze incorrectly, but in the future I would just use the glaze for the cooking and leave it off on the end unless the consistency somehow changed so it was more cooperative to work with. This is what the pork looked like when it came out of the oven:

This spinach was simple, fast, and a nice contrast in color and texture. The balsamic vinegar and olive oil matched nicely with those ingredients in the roast. I left the heat on a extra minute or two to warm the tomatoes after they were added to the spinach.

The roasted apple and onions were one of my favorite parts of the whole meal. Technically they are part of the pork recipe, but they don't touch the pork during the cooking process, so I thought of them separately. They came out soft and tasting almost buttery (despite having no butter on them). The olive oil, salt, and pepper bring out the natural qualities of the apples and red onion, and it's very good. I used Braeburn apples, they worked perfectly.

The final side was the buttermilk mashed potatoes. They were a big hit. The thing I loved when I was making them was that they got really creamy with just a potato masher. Usually in my family mashed potatoes are actually whipped potatoes, and these were still good and creamy, but completely different from the whipped variety.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Breakfast pizza

Normally I would be opposed to eating pizza for breakfast on the basis that it doesn't seem like an appropriate or nutritious way to start the day, but I found an exception to the rule... When the pizza is breakfast pizza, it's perfectly acceptable to eat it for breakfast. Do try this at home!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Fish and risotto - a winning combination

Tonight's dinner consisted of three delicious elements assembled by Emily and myself. We had spinach, poached tilapia (which I have to admit was not my favorite way to make tilapia because despite numerous spices it was somewhat lacking in flavor), and a lovely risotto with asparagus, peas, and parmesan. The risotto was my favorite part because I am a fan of risotto in general, it made for a good dinner.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Breakfast of champions

Breakfast in Charlotte this morning was inspired by breakfast in Atlanta the other morning. I had some leftover omelet filling that I brought with me to North Carolina and employed in my breakfast making. To go with it I had bacon and spelt toast. This two egg omelet had a filling of fresh corn, sauteed onions, spinach, mushrooms, and cheese. It came out of the pan looking quite nice. Just for the record, fresh corn is one of my favorite things to mix with eggs, I love the nights when we have leftover corn on the cob because I save it and cut it off the cob the next morning to go with my breakfast - yum!

Friday, May 26, 2006

One. still top of the list

No pictures, but dinner last night was amazing and worthy of description. Dad, Jon and I went to the old stomping ground: One. Midtown Kitchen for a graduation celebration dinner since I am finishing college and Jon is finishing middle school. In my opinion, One. is one of those places that is consistently good. Their menu, which changes daily, had some delicious standbys as well as new surprises, and I can always find something delicious that suits my mood and appetite. Last night was no exception.

Thankfully at last night's meal I was allowed to take charge and choose the appetizers. I selected the buffalo mozzarella and the fried green tomatoes. The mozzarella came in three little balls, each topped with strawberry rhubarb compote, with one also topped with a leafy green substance (I'm not sure what it was called - sorry! But it was a nice complement), and another topped with fried basil (yum!) The tomatoes came in a round of fried balls which were accompanied by grated parmesan cheese and herb butter. The batter was thin and crispy, the tomatoes were firm, the butter and cheese melted and infused everything with flavor, it was all quite good.

For dinner I had a dilemma. There were two fish dishes that sounded good, one a crusted flounder and the other a nice piece of halibut. Both of those were quite tempting, but one other dish caught my attention: melted duck leg. I am a sucker for duck, it's one of my favorite meats, and when I see a good opportunity to get some it's usually hard to resist. So, it wasn't a big surprise when I let the fish choices cancel each other out and went for the duck leg. I was not disappointed. When our entree's arrived I received a thick leg with no fat served on top of sweet potato puree, wilted greens with onions, and an unidentifiable, darkly colored fruit sauce. It was so good; the meat was tender, flavorful, and fell right off the bone, while the skin was crispy (maybe it had been fried?) and provided a perfect contrast to the meat. Everything about it was delicious and pleasing, I was in heaven.

As fate would have it, we caved in and decided to get a dessert as well to split between the three of us. It too exhibited the same quality as the rest of the meal. I chose one of the sorbet flavors of the day: coconut, and we were rewarded with three mouthwatering scoops, just enough for us to split without feeling like we might explode from overindulgence. Much to our delight the coconut sorbet came served on top of three coconut macaroon squares which were sweet, chewy, and crunchy all at once and which paired nicely with the cool, smooth coconut.

Even without ordering anything particularly exotic I was in foodie paradise with the three enticing courses. Even the less adventurous members of my dinner party found tasty food that they too could enjoy. It was a treat for the palate, and it confirmed my belief that One. Midtown Kitchen still offers one of the best bites in Atlanta.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Chicken with garlic and lemony pie

There is currently no oven in my house. It has been this way for quite some time now (more than two weeks) due to the fact that the old oven broke a little while ago, we ordered a new one, and said new oven is taking it's precious time arriving. Of course, there is more to the story than that, but this is a food journal, not an oven crisis center. It is, however, relevant that we have no oven because it has meant that I have to come up with creative dishes to make without an oven when we eat dinner at home...not the end of the world, but it has been a little trying at times. Tonight we have guests and I was determined to feed them. I planned out my menu based on something I saw over at Adam's website The Amateur Gourmet. He made Chicken with 40 cloves of Garlic and I knew that was the dish for me. To go with it I made broccoli with rosemary and wild rice.

For the chicken recipe (you really should try it!) just click on the recipe name above or go check it out at Adam's website. Rosemary broccoli is just broccoli steamed with rosemary, the flavor is infused in the steaming process, it's a nice touch. The wild rice came from an Uncle Ben's box, and it was quite tasty (especially with the sauce) no need to go inventing your own recipe, you're making a fabulous chicken dish, people will worship you afterwards, let someone else worry about those sides.

Then there was dessert...I was in a panic, what can you possibly make for dessert without an oven??? Of course, anyone who cooks will know that there are plenty of desserts to be made without an oven, but I have a propensity for baking and thus I was at a loss as to what else I could do. Then it hit me! I would make Debbie's Lemon Icebox Pie, it's easy, tasty, and requires no baking - perfect!

Before I explain the story behind the pie, let me tell you how well it was received. The dinner, by the way, was very popular, it's a great way to make chicken. I warned everyone throughout the meal that they had to save room for dessert because I knew the pie was at least worth a modest slice. So, after dinner pie was served, people perked up out of their chairs, every dessert plate was scraped clean, the guests even went for seconds and scraped that plate clean too. I was very pleased, everyone loved it, it complemented the meal, it wasn't too heavy, it was great! Also, there is no second picture of a slice of this pie because we were too wrapped up in eating it with vigor to be bothered to stop and take another picture.

Now the back story: I tried this pie one day when I was over at Trey's parent's house for dinner. It's his mom's recipe (hence the name I gave it, I'm not sure what she calls it) and she was kind enough to share the recipe with me after I tasted the pie. She told me that it's easy to make, and you can't go wrong. I though it was tasty when I tried it; now that I've made it myself I think she's a genius. I'll share the secret recipe now.
To make Debbie's Lemon Icebox Pie you need:
1 can condensed milk
6 oz. can frozen lemonade, slightly thawed (if for some reason you can't find the small cans, I couldn't, just get the big can and use half of it)
9 oz. Cool Whip
1 graham cracker crust
All you do is:
Mix condensed milk and lemonade. Fold in the chilled Cool Whip. Pour into crust. Chill a few hours before serving. Trey's mom is my personal hero.

I made this first thing when I got back from the grocery store, it took 5 minutes, it was great. I could only find the big lemonade cans and when I went to pour half in it got away from me and I ended up putting in the whole thing. I didn't think this was the end of the world, so I just mixed away. When I went to pour it in the pie shell I did have some leftovers though. Now, let's be honest, had I stuck to the recipe and not poured in the entire thing of lemonade the proportions might have been perfect and there might not have been any leftovers, but then again there still could have been, who knows? But, frivolous details aside, there were leftovers, and I wasn't about to let them go to waste. To this end, I had some fresh strawberries that I had just picked up at the grocery...when used to scoop up portions of leftover lemonade filling, they are quite good, I highly recommend it. If, however, you don't have any fresh fruit or you can't finish it all, I would put the leftovers back into the empty Cool Whip container and stick it in the freezer to sample later when no one's watching or to serve to unsuspecting (or unexpected) guests who missed out on the pie and now think it's lemon mousse or something exotic like that. It's so easy to make this pie it sort of feels like cheating, but it's so good no that one will care, and who says you have to slave away in the kitchen making dessert when you don't have an oven and you already fixed prize winning chicken? The whole meal is delicious, just make it, you won't be sorry.

*****I've finally spoken to Trey's mom since making this pie and she told me she calls it Lemonade Pie. She also shared a few more secrets/tips: one variation is to use pink lemonade...tastes pretty much the same, but has a festive pink color. The other thing she told me was that it is normal to have leftovers when you use the regular sized pie crust (it wasn't really my fault after all!) Apparently they sell a slightly larger than average graham cracker crust, and if you get that one then all the filling fits, you just have a few spoonfuls left over. So, you can either make a bigger pie, or a regular one and save the leftovers, or eat them with fruit as I did, or just be creative - you can't go wrong. Anyway, my thanks to her for sharing her recipe, we certainly enjoyed it!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving feast

This was the spread at our Thanksgiving lunch in NC, it was unbelievable.

There was pea casserole covered in cheese:

my favorite brussel sprouts lardons:

plenty of turkey for everyone:

squash casserole, another family favorite:

mashed sweet potatoes with pineapple mixed in and pecans with brown sugar on top:

stuffing with apples, raisins, and walnuts mixed in for texture:

gravy to go on top of everything:

cranberry salad from a can:

and Rainbow style cranberry salad made by me:

It was a lot of food:

Then, as if that wasn't enough, we had dessert as well. There was a caramel apple pie and a pumpkin cheesecake in addition to homemade pumpkin ice cream and homemade molasses ice cream:

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Sometimes in the days leading up to Thanksgiving you need food that is quick, easy, light, but satisfying. This meal fit the bill completely.

As the picture shows, Mom made grilled cheese with homemade chicken soup. This was the perfect lunch fix for a November day in North Carolina.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Eating Boston

Although I was in Boston for two whole days, I only managed to make it back with pictures of one meal. That doesn't mean we only had one meal worth photographing, I just wasn't on point. For example, the breakfast we had our second day was a breakfast buffet at the restaurant attached to our hotel, but I had a really good omelet that morning, so it's unfortunate there are no pictures. That afternoon we had Italian food in Little Italy and that evening we went and saw Derailed and then walked to the Houston's at Quincy Market and split a late dinner of spinach dip and fresh, delicious halibut with french fries. You can never go wrong with Houston's, I think that was my favorite meal, the fish was very very good.

But, I do have pictures of our first meal in Boston when we went to lunch at the Purple Shamrock near Quincy Market. Trey was hungry when we got there so we decided to order crab cakes to split as appetizer to tide us over until the food came. Trey loves crab cakes, he couldn't he is licking his lips in anticipation while he dreams about those warm crab cakes.

I was thirsty.

Then the crab cakes arrived with aioli and a mixed greens salad. They looked tasty. Aren't they pretty?

Trey was really excited, he couldn't wait to dig in, but he patiently let me take a picture. They were very good, we wanted more! But we had more food coming, so we savored what we had.

For lunch I tried something new. I got the lunch special, which was a 1 pound lobster with french fries and cole slaw. Having never tried a whole lobster before, I figured Boston was as good a place as any to do it. This is what I got:

It was a tasty lobster but I had quite a time breaking it open. Having never had the experience before I wasn't exactly sure what to do, but Trey helped me out with instructions of what was edible and then physical force later when was trying to make a fool of myself with the claw crackers. It was an amusing experience.

My reccomendation: If you're ever in Boston, get the fish (or any seafood, really).

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Fried okra!

Today I had a new southern food experience. Trey, unofficial king of all things southern, made fried okra from scratch at my house! Although I love fried okra, I had no real concept of how to make it from scratch, and I'd never tried it homemade before, so this was an exciting occasion for me. It looked surprisingly easy (just takes some time) so I think I could try to make it again myself someday. He took a bunch of okra and washed it in a big bowl. He then proceeded to cut the ends off with a pairing knife and slice each of the pieces into a few sections and drop them into another bowl. It's OK to get water into the bowl while you're doing all this because it will help the coating stick when the time comes. After all the okra was cut up, the flour went into the bowl and he tossed the bowl around to coat everything evenly (this step can be messy, he went outside). Afterwards it looked like this:

Meanwhile a big pot of oil was heating up, and when it was hot enough to fry, he carefully slipped half the okra into the pot. It boiled like crazy and then calmed down. It's important not to cook it too fast or the outsides will just burn at the whole thing will be crispy. You have to watch them, because once they're done they need to come out fast or they will be overcooked. Honestly, I just remember this taking a long time, I don't know how many minutes it was. I recommend keeping an eye on it and taking them out when they've reached the desired brownness. When in doubt, pull one out and try it.

When ours were done they looked like this:

We drained them on paper towels and salted them while they were still hot. They are really addictive, once you start popping them in your mouth it's hard to stop.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Classic Risotto

Tonight for dinner I decided I would finally satisfy my craving for risotto. I bought the ingredients a few days ago, but hadn't had a chance to make it since it takes a little more hands-on time that certain other things. But tonight it was mushroom risotto with peas and a hamburger. Clicking on the link above provides step by step instructions for making this risotto, but I'll also post it here.

You will need:
8 cups low-salt chicken broth
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onions
10 ounces white mushrooms, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or short-grain white rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and ground black pepper

To prepare:
Bring the broth to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan then keep the broth warm over very low heat while you are cooking the rice. The broth has to stay warm as it's added or it will not absorb as well.

Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the white mushrooms and garlic. Saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the rice and let it toast for a few minutes.

Add 1 cup of hot broth; simmer over medium-low heat until the liquid is absorbed, stirring as constantly as possible, about 3 minutes. Continue to add broth a little at a time and cook, stirring, until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy. This should take about 30 minutes (the rice will absorb 6 to 8 cups of broth). Add the wine; cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Stir in the peas. Mix in the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

Any kind of risotto makes good leftovers, but this recipe is enough for six people.

For dessert I made a chocolate cake with mini chocolate chips and chocolate icing. I had some issues with the two layers of the cake not cooperating and fitting together nicely, so instead of cutting away all the cake I added sweetened shredded coconut between the layers and iced over it. Everyone loved it, here are the results:

Cruzan lunch

Today for lunch I decided to recreate one of my favorite foods in St. Croix. I pulled out a tomato, some corn, a can of black beans, cheese, and a tortilla. When mixed together and placed appropriately in a skillet they made a delicious black bean and corn quesadilla.

Monday, November 14, 2005

breakfast of champions

Today Trey and I had a delicious breakfast feast before heading out to class. It consisted of bacon, sausage, sautéed potatoes, scrambled eggs with bacon, sausage, and cheese, and pancakes. It was much better than anything you'd get at the popular breakfast places around town.

Friday, November 11, 2005

the real tortilla

Tonight's post features a new addition to my cooking world. He's my friend Trey, he likes to cook, and tonight he made dinner at my house. Appropriately enough for my tortilla comparison, he made real tortilla española!
Real tortilla is a different experience from what we saw yesterday. First he peeled baking potatoes and sliced them really thin. They went into a hot pan with olive oil to cook through.

Meanwhile he sliced a zucchini really thin and cooked that in another pan with onions and olive oil.

Once everything was cooked enough they got mixed together in a single pan. Then you add the beaten eggs.

This all cooks slowly so it can cook evenly through. It has to be flipped and everything, it's a crazy process.

This one was cooked to perfection through, Trey was happy with it. See the proud father look?

But that wasn't all! We also picked up some fish while we were at Publix, and Trey transformed it as well. We got the lemon herb catfish and he breaded it with flour and cornmeal and fried it. I'd never had catfish before, but this was really good. In the end we had a feast because he also had some leftovers that he brought with him and we decided to eat those as well. There were mashed potatoes and meatloaf that his mom made. The meatloaf was really good, I need to figure out how she made it.

We were happy with our meal, it will have to go on the menu at our future restaurant. But anyway, after all his talk about being a good cook, I was impressed by the actual results of Trey's cooking. He seemed happy with it too, see:

Thursday, November 10, 2005

tortilla comparison

Today at the grocery store I saw some smallish potatoes that looked like they could be useful for some cooking project, so I bought them. Upon returning home I saw that there was a recipe on the bag for a potato onion frittata. I wanted to try it because it sounded suspiciously like tortilla española except that they made it a strange way. They suggested that you take the entire bag of potatoes and boil them until tender. While you're doing that you're supposed to chop up and onion and a few cloves of garlic and sauté them until the onions are soft.

Then you slice up the potatoes and mix them with the onions, salt and pepper, and some herbs and put them in a pan with some olive oil.

You add 6 to 8 eggs mixed with a little milk and pour that on top. Then the whole things goes in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes. When it comes out it looks like this:

I liked it OK, but it wasn't as good as real tortilla.