Monday, May 24, 2010

turkey burgers, potato wedges, cherry tomato salad

Tonight I made turkey burgers. I put in my usual grated onion, and added some chili powder. I topped them with sharp cheddar cheese. The potato wedges were made from Yukon Gold potatoes tossed in olive oil, a little garlic salt and some dried chives. The potato wedges get a little better every time I make them, which makes me happy. I've figured out that they need about 30 min @ 450 and then another 10-15 min under the broiler to really crisp up the way I like them.

The salad was sort of a riff on guacamole. I chopped up a (very) ripe avocado, some cherry tomatoes, and a little onion. I grated a clove of garlic into it, added just a little salt, and the juice of half a lime. I tossed everything together and let it get nice and cold. It turned out very well, though Mark commented that the raw garlic was a little hot for him. I thought it was a good pain, myself. ;)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

bonus truffles!

I made these from the leftover chocolate ganache that I coated the birthday cake with. I just took spoonfuls, rolled them (quickly...they're very melty!) into some semblance of a ball shape, and rolled them around in unsweetened cocoa powder. I brought them to work with me to share, because I'm still kind of on chocolate overload from the birthday cake. ;)

birthday cake

Today is my mom's birthday! She's a major chocolate fiend, so I wasn't surprised when she wanted a chocolate birthday cake. We decided to call it "Near Death By Chocolate", and you'll see why.

I confess that I'm not much of a baker. It's a bit too rigid for my liking. I'm more of an improviser and unless you have a pretty good grasp of what you're doing, baking isn't too forgiving in that respect.

I used a recipe from King Arthur Flour, which is just down the road from here (oh yes, be jealous). The recipe called for hazelnuts but I couldn't find them in any sort of affordable quantity, so I skipped them and just went for chocolate on top of chocolate, smothered in chocolate. The cake itself is pretty standard. The frosting between the layers is bittersweet chocolate, and the ganache is bittersweet chocolate combined with heavy cream. I had a little mishap with the ganache as I was applying it to the cake. I didn't realize the recipe was for about twice what I'd need to cover the cake, so I blithely dumped three quarters of it on, only to panic when it started to overflow the edge of the plate and creep across the counter like The Blob. I managed to clean it up and salvage a lot of the extra, which I used to make truffles...stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chicken Thighs and The Best Salad Ever(tm)

For tonight's dinner, I was inspired by a recipe my friend Karen (KNUTTY!) shared with me for a salad with warm caramelized onion bacon vinaigrette. Just reading the recipe made me hungry, and since I had a few slices of bacon that needed to be used up, tonight was a good night to try it.

You start by frying the bacon, of course, then you add some olive oil, a sliced onion, and some brown sugar. Continue cooking the onions on low heat until caramelized (15-20 minutes), then add some balsamic vinegar and allow to cook another few minutes.

I made big beds of greens on both plates, chopped up a bit of yellow tomato, added the crumbled bacon, then scooped the caramelized onion mixture right on top of the greens. I topped the salads with some shards of a really nice sharp raw-milk cheese from a local farm.

My intention was to make the salads the main dish, with some meat as more of a side-dish than the main focus. I baked some boneless chicken thighs (yes, that's shake'n'bake on them...DON'T JUDGE ME!) and steamed some broccoli to go with.

I have to say...the combination of sweet vinegary onions, salty bacon and sharp cheese was AWESOME. I'll definitely make this again. Thanks, Karen!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Beef and Broccoli Stir-fry

Quick, easy, and yummy. I sliced up:

1 large onion
1 package of button mushrooms
1 head of broccoli

I tossed it in a ripping-hot pan with some canola oil in it, and stir-fried it until the onions and broccoli had softened a bit. I dumped the veggies into a bowl, then tossed into the pan:

1 lb of "stir-fry beef" (which basically amounted to chopped up eye of round, as far as I could tell)
3 cloves of chopped garlic
several splashes of soy sauce

I let the meat cook about 2 minutes, then put the veggies back into the pan with the meat and stir-fried a couple more minutes until the meat was done.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Grilled Pork Tenderloin Medallions and Veggies

It's been a gorgeous day (albeit windy!) and I was hearing the siren song of the grill pretty much all day. I had a pork tenderloin thawing, and I kept contemplating an effective way to cook it on the grill. Then it hit me...DUH! Slice it into medallions! I decided to have some grilled veggies with it, and this is what I ended up with:

For the medallions, I made a dry rub of a little garlic salt and some dried rosemary, marjoram, basil, parsley and black pepper. I sliced the tenderloin into slices about 3/4 of an inch thick and rubbed the mixture of herbs onto both sides of each medallion, then grilled for about 5 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side. This yielded nice, moist medallions with just the slightest tinge of pink left in the middle (the best way to have pork, in my opinion).

Veggies were eggplant, zucchini, baby portabella mushrooms, garlic cloves and red peppers. I stuck the red peppers on the grill whole and let them char for a while, turning every few minutes. I then put them in a ziploc bag and let them steam for 20 minutes so that I could remove the skins, seed and slice. For the eggplant, I prepped it by slicing, salting, and letting it rest in the colander for 30 minutes. I sliced the zucchini in about inch-wide slices and stuck them on skewers along with the mushrooms and a bunch of cloves of garlic (I didn't bother to peel them, as the peels come off nicely once the garlic is cooked, anyway). I made up a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and brushed a little onto the skewers and some onto the rinsed and dried eggplant rounds. The eggplant went onto the grill for just a couple minutes a side, with a brush or two of additional oil and vinegar during cooking.

The skewers cooked for about 5 minutes a side, with additional applications of the dressing, as well.

I was pretty happy with how everything turned out, though I wish I hadn't used the garlic salt in my pork rub. Mark said he didn't mind it, but I'm really salt-sensitive and I found it somewhat overwhelming. All in all a good Sunday dinner!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Chicken Bacon Salad

Tonight's supper was Chicken Bacon Salad. There's not much I like better than a combination of sweet, salty, crunchy, hot and cold all in the same bite - this salad delivers just that, and was very satisfying.

This recipe yielded two pretty big salads. I couldn't finish all of mine, and even Mark was full when we were done (which is always an achievement).

Salad Ingredients:

3 boneless chicken breasts (you could also use an equivalent amount of thighs, tenders, anything boneless)
6 slices bacon
1 large head romaine lettuce - torn up
1/2 an apple - I used Granny Smith - chopped
1/2 cup red onion - cut into rings

Preheat a large pan (I use a cast iron one) on medium. Chop bacon into 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch bits, put into pan and cook down, shaking or stirring occassionally to prevent burning. While bacon is cooking, slice chicken into about 2" pieces, set aside.

When bacon is crisp and fat is rendered out, remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Carefully place chicken into pan with hot bacon fat. Cook until golden brown (about 5 minutes), then flip chicken pieces to cook on the other side (a couple more minutes). While chicken finishes cooking, assemble your vinaigrette:

Vinaigrette Ingredients:

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard (or to taste)
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper

Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients in the bottom of a large bowl till combined. If you really hate mustard, you don't have to put it in, but you'll need to add your oil a little at a time to the other ingredients as you whisk to keep the dressing emulsified. Mustard is a natural emulsifier.

Once dressing is combined, add romaine lettuce and toss gently to coat with dressing. Transfer to serving plates.

Remove chicken from pan and allow to drain on paper bag or paper towel while you assemble the rest of the salad. Add the chopped apple, rings of red onions, and crispy bits of bacon to the dressed salads, then add the chicken pieces to the top and serve.

You could garnish with some chopped pecans or walnuts, and I think this would be nice with chopped avocado, as well. I actually bought an avocado intending to have it on the salad, but I wasn't paying enough attention when I picked it out and it was rock hard (and useless) when I tried to cut into it.


I suppose I ought to explain myself.

I love food. Probably too much.

I love to eat, yes...but I also love to look at food, and most of all, I love to cook. I love everything
about it: the smells, the sights, the sounds, the science of the kitchen. Cookbooks, utensils, ingredients - I collect them all. Watching people appreciate and enjoy things I've made gives me a major happy. Knowing that I'm taking basic components and turning them into something tasty excites me to no end. Yes...I love food.

So, now that we've got that out of the way, I should probably introduce myself. My name is Shelby, I'm 30 years old and I live in rural Vermont with my husband Mark, and our dog Junior. Am I a chef? No. I'm not a baker, either. I'm just an enthusiastic home practitioner, and somewhat of a mad scientist to boot. I enjoy cooking for my family, taking pictures of the food I've made, and sharing
recipes with others. I was doing this solely on Facebook for a while, but then I decided that I might as well corral all this stuff into a blog and see what happens.

Please feel free to leave comments or email me. I'm interested in peoples' input about recipes, pictures, food in general, requests for things you'd like to see me make or write about, etc.

Thanks for reading!