April 25th, 2011

Magazine Monday: Bacon & Leek Risotto with Poached Eggs

Bacon & Leek Risotto with Poached Eggs

Somewhere, the god of Plating and Presentation has smiled down upon me.

Before I begin, I would just like to say that this photo  is quite possibly the best plating job I have ever done.  Perfectly poached eggs (a first!) gracefully sitting atop creamy but non-gloopy risotto (no broken yolks!).  I even remembered to garnish! To top it all off, even my chintzy kitchen lamp was cooperating with me and gave me perfect lighting.  Truly, this was like those ultra-rare days where you wake up with perfect hair.  No matter how hard you try, you can’t replicate it.  It. just. happens.

That being said, as pretty–and delicious–as it turned out, while making this I was reminded why I only make risotto approximately twice a year: it is very time consuming and labor-intensive for something that is not really all that filling.  One bowl and egg each just was not enough, although my second bowl seemed too rich and I almost didn’t finish it.

This dish is indeed very rich.  I even cut out half the bacon for frugality’s sake (though I used a very good quality applewood-smoked bacon with a highish fat content), used 4 cups of vegetable stock and 1 cup of water (it’s what I had on hand) instead of 5 cups of chicken stock, and forgot to put in the 2 tablespoons of butter at the end.  I can just imagine it if I’d followed the recipe exactly.  It would be too rich for my tastes!

My alterations are proof positive that this dish can be made inexpensively and still be really good.  It just took me a grand total of around an hour, which is more than I like to spend on one meal, though some of you might think, “That’s labor-intensive? pshaw!”  If you want a lot of flavor bang for your buck and think it is worth the time spent, this deal is for you.  If you want it to be more filling, serve it with a crusty baguette and seasoned olive oil for dipping.  YUM.

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March 28th, 2011

Magazine Mondays: Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

Wow, I haven’t done a Magazine Mondays post in a really long time! But oh man, I just can’t resist sharing this one with you.

This past week, in honor of Mardis Gras, I decreed we would have Cajun theme week.  It was good.  It was very, very good.  I want another Cajun theme week, and although that goes against the rules of theme week, I don’t think The Grump would complain.  So I think I will be incorporating more Cajun food into our diet.  Especially this jambalaya.

Now there are a few things you should know about this jambalaya:

  1. It calls for an awful lot of meat and my largest pot is not big enough, so we improvised a little.
  2. Some of this meat is andouille sausage, which is somewhat hard to find in my area, and some of it is linguiça, which I luckily found at my regular grocery store.
  3. We did not use linguiça because the night before, TG used it for red beans & rice even though he wasn’t supposed to.
  4. The red beans & rice were delicious with linguiça, and there wasn’t room in the jambalaya anyway.

This was so good that we gobbled it up (minus the half of the leftovers that are in the freezer for a future busy night) before I could get a picture. Ok, I gobbled up my leftoverjambalayalunch before I could get a picture.  So you will get to look at the picture from the magazine, since Bon Appétit was kind enough to put it online.  This works out since their photography skills are 8,000 times better than mine anyway.

This was also so good that The Munchkin gobbled up a bowlful and didn’t have room for the pizza pocket I’d made her because TG said jambalaya would be too spicy for her (she has a penchant for chili, too, by the way).

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July 26th, 2010

Magazine Mondays: Sloppy Joe on Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

Sloppy joe on cheddar-buttermilk biscuits

It’s hard to believe it’s been two weeks since my last post.  If you follow me on twitter or know me outside of the internet, then you already know the reason.  I have a job! Monday, July 12th was my first day as a Graphic Designer at a smallish marketing firm in northern Connecticut.  I really enjoy my new job, but I’ve been spending these last two weeks getting used to my new schedule and it’s a bit draining.  I was getting up at 5:30 in the morning, which is ridiculously early for me.  Now my shift is an hour later, and eventually I will be working 11am-7pm.

Cooking has been…interesting…since starting this job, too.  I have decided to do most of my baking & as much cooking as possible on Sunday, so that when I get home from work I have very little to do to make dinner.  Then I pack my lunch for the next day and prep things for breakfast so when I get up at the butt-crack of dawn, I can toss some things in the oven or on the stove while I do my morning workout.  My menu planning really comes in handy here!  I’m also utilizing the best food-chopping gadget in existence – my boyfriend.  I leave Brian a list of things to prep for me when he gets off work early in the day, and then I come home and finish up.  Or he makes dinner.  It’s nice how well it’s worked out.

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June 13th, 2010

Anatomy of a Meatloaf

A couple months ago I got in a bit of a debate with my dear, yet culinarily-naive friend, Robert, about meatloaf.  He had asked me to do some ‘how to’s on different traditional comfort foods – and he insisted that I not “screw them up” by adding things, or making them healthier, etc.  He wanted the straight-up original recipe goods.  The actual debate was that I had to try to explain to him that there is no set recipe for “traditional” food.  What is traditional for one family or region is not so for others.  People do different things, so I couldn’t give him what he really wanted.

Now, just because there isn’t a set recipe doesn’t mean there isn’t a set formula.  Cooking is not only an art, it’s a science.  Baking relies heavily on various chemical reactions, and to a lesser degree, so does cooking in general.  At the very least, it requires certain elements to achieve certain results.  It’s easy to see – if you don’t want your meat to stick to the grill, you oil it first.  If your food is plain, you season it.  It’s very basic.  Understanding the formulas behind different dishes means we can make it how we want – as simple or complicated as you desire.

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May 21st, 2010

Granddaddy and his ribs

Bread of Life: Cooking with Saint Rose

The official cookbook of the Saint Rose of Lima Catholic parish.

Before I begin telling you about my Granddaddy’s ribs, I need to apologize for my site being down for this past week.  There’s some awkwardness on the part of my web host and I was trying to fix it and failed temporarily.  Sorry about that! Everything’s up and running fine for the next 3 months, when I try again.

Now that that’s out of the way…It’s time to get down to the very important matter of my Granddaddy and his ribs.  Granddaddy is my maternal grandfather, born and raised in Hampton, Virginia, where my mother was born and raised, and I after her.  He is one of the last remaining Southern Gentlemen.  He speaks with a Tidewater accent, and calmly but sternly reprimands my brother and cousins when they forget to take off their hats indoors.  He tells stories about himself and his brothers from when they were kids, or from when he was in the Marines back in the Korean War.  He just turned 80 in March.

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