Saturday, November 28, 2009

souper snowday

Last night the thunder and lightning, at our mountain cabin, was astounding.  When I was a kid lightning frightened me. I was told that if I counted between the lightning and the thunder, each second between, indicated the miles between the strike and me.
While half asleep, I found myself thousand, two-one thousand....
as much as I love a great storm
...and i really do...
living in the mountains
amongst the trees
in a fire zone
lightning still scares me
a little
but I was comforted by the fact that it was raining
or so i thought

to my surprise

when the sun began to show
all i saw was white
a blanket of white
our first snow of the season

I bounded out of bed, and still in my flannels
threw on boots
and grabbed my camera
and started snapping

and then i went to the kitchen
and made soup
from the thanksgiving leftovers

Turkey Broth
(printable recipe)
large pot of cold water
turkey carcass and any bits no one will eat 
(in my family there is always an odd wing or leg left)
1 onion--sliced in half--skin on
2  carrots
2 celery stalks
3 or 4 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
fresh parsley
put the pot on the stove and let simmer for 3-4 hours
use the broth for the soup
Turkey and Vegetable Soup
(printable recipe)
olive oil
1/4 chopped onion
1 carrot--chopped
1 celery stalk--chopped
any leftover veggies
i used
sauteed mushrooms
roasted root vegetables
green beans--chopped
kernels from 2 ears of corn
1 roma tomato--seeded and chopped
brussel sprouts w/pancetta
and some spices
i went with cumin and cayenne
1/4 cup white wine
turkey broth
bits of turkey 
shot of tabasco (optional)
heat a small stock pot and add just a bit of olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until they begin to soften but not brown.  Add the rest of the vegetables.  Stir and let cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the white wine and let it absorb a bit.  Then add enough broth to make your soup.  Let simmer until all the vegetables soften.  Add turkey bits both from the broth and any other leftovers you may have.  Add seasonings, including any additional salt and pepper needed. Add tabasco if using. Let simmer just a couple more minutes

Freeze the rest of the broth for future use.
I am going to make twice baked potato soup next

Friday, November 27, 2009

i think it went well

we cooked for 35, although we are only 18
18 hungries
of all ages, shapes and sizes
we were equal  in our desire to eat good food
and it didn't disappoint
Our day began at sunrise
off to the grocery to pick up our special order
fresh turkeys
3 of them
yes 3
you heard me
one for the roaster
and two for the deep fryer

we worked in the kitchen
my mom, my aunt and I
slowly working our way through the list of tasks posted on the fridge
in a rhythm that only those whom have cooked together season after season could perfect.

We all have our strengths and we eased into our roles as if time hadn't passed between us.

a friend arrived and rotated in and out as help was needed
she sous chef'd with hubster on the turkeys
which were fabulous
by the way
he marinates them with double secret sauce
injecting until they looked like they'd been on 'roids.
and then fries them until they submit
so here was our menu
The first bottle of bubbly popped around noon and we carried on from there.
We had planned to sit for dinner at two..
...the best laid plans...

However, when it was ready to serve up the grub...
the vibe changed
big time
and there was a bit of a frenzy
and everything got on the table
and the side table
and the third table we had to move in to fit everything
and soon enough
our dinner plates were full
and the only photo I have
is this one
and as promised 13 days before (click me)

The house was not dirty, and it was tidy.
There was a place for everyone at the table
The food was delicious and plentiful
Laughter floated to the rafters
There WAS football
...and pie
I resolve to carry this feeling of gratitude with me today and all days...
as I have much to be thankful for
and many to be thankful to..
and now to some recipes
Roasted Root Vegetables
(printable recipe)
i used a melange of the following
sun choke
whole garlic cloves
and i tossed them in
olive oil
kosher salt
and then I roasted them at 400 turning occasionally for about 45 minutes
then I pulled them out of the oven and drizzled with balsamic vinegar and popped them back in the oven
until they were glazed and cooked through
and a little crispy
I added more salt and pepper to taste
and served
Cranberry Fluff
(printable recipe)
this is a recipe from my husband's childhood. His Aunt Ethel used to make it and it has become a family favorite.
note: it is best made a day in advance
2 small tubs cool whip
1 medium can pineapple chunks in syrup
1 bag cranberries-remove 1 cup and set aside
3 TBS sugar
1 cup toasted walnuts--chopped
take the 1 cup of cranberries you set aside and  place in saucepan.  Add sugar and 2 Tbs pineapple syrup.  Cook over low heat until the cranberries begin to pop.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.  Meanwhile chop the other cranberries in half if small, quarters if larger and toss into large bowl.  Add cool whip and walnuts.  Cut the pineapple chunks in half and add to the mixture...pour in all the remaining pineapple syrup.  Add the cooled cooked cranberries and fold all together.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Green Bean Salad
(printable recipe)
with creamy balsamic dressing
fresh green beans 
sweet 100 tomatoes
toasted almond slivers
durkee onions
salt and pepper
1 pkg italian dressing mix 
(prepare according to directions except for the vinegar use 1/2 red wine and 1/2 balsamic and don't add water)
2 Tbs light sour cream
The green beans should be crispy for this salad.  You can either quickly toss in salted boiling water and then shock in an ice bath
you can put in a bowl and pour boiling water over and let sit until the water cools to tepid. 
layer in serving bowl with the tomatoes and almonds
Toss with dressing, but have a light hand. A little goes a long do not want to glob this dressing on.
Top with durkee french onions

As you can see by the menu, we served so many things.  The pumpkin pie recipe is here.
If you see something on the menu that you want the recipe for...just comment and leave your email address and I will send it to you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

we just might make it...

Thanksgiving is tomorrow
and we have been working diligently on getting the cabin in working condition
and I didn't think we would be ready (click me)
but as I sit here with my cold cup of tea (brewed at 8am and I am just getting to it now)
and a lunch of peanut butter and crackers
and look around the place
i think
we just might make it

our first guest arrives at 3
all the guest rooms are ready
the bathrooms are clean and functioning
the fire is lit
the pies are baked
champagne is chilling
and all that is left to do is dust a bit and move the tools to the basement
and maybe a nap
but probably not
that would be pushing it
..i actually have a tear in my eye as i write this
i can't believe
mike and i
with our two hands
have turned this place from a big mess
into a home

...that needs work

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday Night Supper Club

It's here I am....
I needed to do something easy because we are up at the cabin doing renovations and I don't have a lot of time to fuss about. I went with brisket

I served it with warm rolls, baked beans and a green salad.
And tomorrow it will make a perfect beef dip sandwich for our arriving guests.

Easy Brisket
 generous use of spice mix
 a few glugs of olive oil
325 degree oven
To Make the Spice Mix
mix together: 1 Tbs kosher salt, 2 tsp black pepper (i used pepper with worcestershire flavor combo i found at the market), 1/2 tsp cayenne, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 Tbs dried oregano, 4 1/2 tsp garlic, 2 Tbs chili powder, 2 Tbs brown sugar. Keep in airtight jar.
Dry the brisket with paper towels.  On all sides, lightly coat with olive oil.  Just a bit so the spice will stick.  Then rub with spice mix.  It will make a bit of a generous.
Place in a roasting dish or casserole...something with a bit of room.
Pop in oven. For a 3lb piece, I put it in the oven for about 4 hours. 
Let rest for 15 minutes or so before slicing.

Eat Up! 

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Renovation and What I Ate Part 3

We are making great progress on our renovation...while the cabin will always be a work in progress...
..we are now comfortable inviting guests to come and stay.

One of the tricks we found for enjoying a project of this size, is to take the time to enjoy a meal out, or the company of friends.  We had such an opportunity on Friday night.

Our friends Joe and Monica invited us for a small holiday gathering at their home.  Although the drive was an hour, it was well worth it.  We had a wonderful time visiting and I couldn't believe the spread Monica put out..and Joe's zagat worthy bar!.  

I hope Monica won't mind me sharing this...but she served an appetizer so yummy that I had to remove myself from the actual kitchen area, for fear that I would eat them all.  I am conscious that there is a polite amount of consumption at a  party. And I am pretty sure the entire platter isn't it.  So as a result, I talked about the bits all the way home and well into the night.  I then got up early the next morning and hit the grocery store to get the supplies for said delight.
..and then we had them for lunch...
my oh my oh my....

I didn't get a picture, because well...the hubster and I were burning our fingers plucking them from the dish fresh out of the oven. I completely forgot my senses...

it wasn't until the dogs were "cleaning the pan" that I thought...hmm..i should have taken a photo.

so here's the recipe (gleefully stolen)
Monica's Smokin' Little Smokies
(printable recipe)
1 pkg little smokies
1 pkg bacon
brown sugar
cayenne pepper (my addition)
Cut the bacon pieces in thirds...and wrap a piece around each link.  Place in a casserole dish.  Sprinkle brown sugar over top.  Lightly sprinkle cayenne pepper (if desired).  Place in 375 oven until bacon is cooked and brown sugar is beginning to look like it will ruin your pan.

Now...for the renovation. I have been working on two of the guest rooms.  The loft had been portioned off to 2 rooms and for the time being we are keeping it that way. Our ultimate goal is to knock down the wall and make a nice large loft-slash-den area for music and lounging.  Hubster plays the banjo and the acoustics will be great for bluegrass jammin'.'s what I have done...
rooms before
both rooms looked like this...mirror images of eachother
another angle

and for the after...

green room
blue room

to see more of our renovation: see here and here

Now I am off to get more projects done before the crowd arrives on Wednesday...lots of cleaning to do!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

deer camp soup {tuesday night supper club}

During the 3 minutes of fall weather that we had this past week, I started thinking about soup.
I heart soup
And then it warmed up
...but my taste buds don't know anything about atmospheric temperature
So I was still craving soup

I married a hunter.
Have I mentioned that about 100 times already? is relevant to the story.
When he was a kid his father used to make what they called deer camp soup.
It was what they ate at deer camp.
Now mind you...I grew up in Los Angeles.  For me camp was where city kids went in the summer to sing songs and earn leathers.  The first time I heard deer camp I was slightly confused.  I thought perhaps it was DEAR a place that he really longed for or that was expensive. But then I thought...that is not how my husband talks.
So I asked... a sort of way that made me feel like a complete and total Chrissy....
me: So...what goes on at this camp for deer?
him: Huh?
him: camp for deer?
him: city girl
me: nevermind
I caught on...eventually....after writing letters to his family in Camp Douglas.  What is it with the liberal use of the word-slash-action camp?
Mike had very fond memories of this soup and wanted me to recreate it.  Here is the direction I received. It's tomatoey and I know it has tomato juice in it....and chunks of tomato...and meat..and some sort of beans....but it is very tomatoey.
Well...that's a start
Then one summer in Alaska we were going camping (notice the proper use of the word) and king salmon fishing.  And we set up camp, along side Willow Creek. And it was a bit cold, even for July. And I thought, this would be a great day for soup.  So I started concocting. By the time the guys arrived with their prizes in hand...

...I had something pretty good. And very welcomed.
I have played with the recipe a bit since then...making it a bit more spicy. But you can fine tune it to whatever you like.  It is basic and simple...and a whole meal in one bowl.
Deer Camp Soup
(printable recipe)
slug of olive oil
1/2 large onion--diced in small pieces
2 cloves garlic--finely chopped
1 lb lean ground beef 
(i used ground venison for this particular batch)
3 cups Mr and Mrs T's bloody mary mix
4 1/2 cups tomato juice
1 tsp lemon pepper (optional)
1-15oz can kidney beans--drained
1-28 oz can diced tomatoes
2-3 dashes worcestershire sauce
pinch cayenne (optional)
hot sauce to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Pour enough olive oil in the bottom of a heated pot, to coat in a thin layer.  Drop in onions and cook until translucent and starting to brown.  Drop in the garlic and cook for about a minute.  Add beef or venison and cook, breaking up pieces, until no longer pink. Drain if there is fat at the bottom of the pan. If you use venison, you can skip this part.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 30 minutes allowing all the flavors to meld.  Taste for spice, salt and pepper.
If it is too thick for your liking add chicken stock or water.

I served mine with a cheesy crouton, but that is totally optional. It is great with saltines or oyster crackers crumbled on top.
Eat up!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

sunday giving, sunday grace

On Sunday, Julie and I had our box collection party for Operation Christmas Child.

If you measure success in bringing people together for a wonderful cause, sharing stories, laughter and good cheer, and a pile of shoe boxes full of goodies, then our "box collection party" was a great success.
We have such generous friends and family who put together beautiful gifts that will make wonderful surprises for the children who receive them.
So, thank you to my dear friends who generously gave of their time and spirit for this cause.

In order to show our gratitude, Julie and I put out a spread and gave everyone a gift.

We had a
give a box, take a box 

Each box was filled with cream scones and a bundle of tea
we also gave each person a jar of marmalade
so they could sit back, enjoy a bit of tea
and revel in their generosity
it was the least we could do

We also had a
please eat a lot 

I love German Chocolate Cake...but I also love pie. So, Tedesco Tart was born.
Tedesco Tart 
(printable recipe)
(tedesco is german in italian--how's that for complicated!)
1 recipe chocolate crust
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips--melted
1 recipe vanilla custard (or 2 boxes pudding if you are going rogue)
1 recipe coconut topping
1 recipe bittersweet chocolate ganache
Blind bake the chocolate crust in a tart tin at 325 until done.  Once it is cooled, spread melted milk chocolate in a thin layer over the entire bottom and up a bit of the sides.
Once the chocolate is cooled, pour cooled custard or pudding in the crust and spread evenly. Pour an even layer of ganache over the top and let firm up in the fridge.  Top with coconut topping.  Remove from fridge about 30 minutes before serving if a cold day. If a warm day, it will need less time to ease up.
Chocolate Crust
( from Claudia Flemming's "The Last Course")
1 cup unsalted butter--softened
1/2 cup + 1Tbs confectioner's sugar
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
pinch of salt
In a mixer cream butter and sugar until just do not want to incorporate too much air in this.  Add yolks and vanilla and beat until just incorporated.  Mix all dry ingredients together and add to the butter mixture.  Mix until just combined.  Pat into a circle and chill until firm, about 1 hour.  Roll out and fit into a 9" tart pan.  You will have excess dough. I like to have my crust a bit thicker than normal for this tart as it is holding a lot of stuff! But if you like a thinner crust, by all means, roll it thinner.
Vanilla Custard
2 1/2 cups whole milk
pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbs unsalted butter
1/4 cup + 3 Tbs Cornstarch (i know it seems like a lot but this recipe needs to have a firm custard)

Heat the milk to just a simmer over low heat.  Meanwhile whisk together the yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Once the milk comes to a simmer, use it to temper the yolks.  Put the entire mixture back into the pot and on the stove over low heat. Use a whisk to whisk while the mixture begins to thicken.  You do not want to cook the eggs, but you do need the custard to thicken.  Once the mixture bubbles in the middle, and is a big thick mess, take it off the heat.  If you think you may have cooked the eggs, then run it through a sieve...if you are confident, then don't.  Pour mixture into a clean bowl and add the butter and vanilla.  Whisk until the butter is melted.  Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until cold. Or you can put the bowl over a bowl of ice and stir until it cools.
Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache
1/2 lb bittersweet chocolate (use 60% or higher)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
heat heavy cream to just a simmer. Pour over chocolate and let sit until chocolate begins to melt.  Stir until it becomes nice and glossy. Add vanilla. Let cool just a bit, but make sure it is still pouring consistency when you pour onto tart.
Coconut Topping
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans
Place milk, sugar, yolks and butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook until thickens--about 15 minutes or so.. Keep an eye on it and stir frequently. Don't freak out if it looks like the eggs are cooking, because they will. It will also start to darken a bit.  Remove from heat and stir in coconut and pecans.  Let cool before placing on tart.

So, that is it.  Looks like a lot of work, but it isn' comes together nicely.  It's a great holiday dessert.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Renovation and What I Ate Part 2

We have been working on the cabin.
Well, kind of
There was so much to do, so much we have much left
There's the interior work, but we also have the whole yard/garden to deal with.  It took me an entire day to sort out just a corner of it..
I pulled up the tomato plants, the pumpkin patch, and the rest of the carrots and lettuce and cut back the roses to just about the nub.  They hadn't been tended to in 4 years and had grown to over 6 feet. I am hoping that we can get them back in the great shape that would make Dodo proud.  Have I mentioned that the previous owner of the house was Dodo Denny? She played Mike TeeVee's mom on the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Could it get any better?
Dodo was a big fan of the garden and an obvious bird watcher.  There are bird houses in every corner of the garden, on the deck, attached to the house, on the roof...
This past Spring, there were lots of little birdlets chirping around here.

Today, Mike trimmed the pear tree, and is contemplating taking down another tree that just makes a mess and is poorly placed.
 I vote yes.
 Please don't tell the Audubon Society.
 To be fair there are a ton of other trees for the birds...and I let them eat all the grapes

What we didn't do was rake the leaves.
Too many of them
and it is cold out
and i am a city girl...come on!

But what we did do was finish the master bedroom.
There's a small problem...we only seem to have 1 before picture. So you will have to use your imagination.  Imagine a room, shaped like a box.  With white walls and "trim" of 1x2 floor boards. The floor was rust shag carpet, covering 1950's striped carpet, covering old crusty glue on top of sub-floor.

Our inspiration for this room is Africa.
master bedroom before
still before with a makeshift paint job i did to cover the tobacco stained walls

the awful floor after pulling 2 layers of carpet and crusty glue

and after
still after

I have loads of photos from my trip years ago, along with several Masai wedding necklaces which I think will look fetching on the walls of our newly fabulous room.

We did all the work ourselves...including the floors. Although I need to give Mike the full credit for them. I really had nothing to do with it..except I did the math.
and supported the purchase of a really cool smoker-slash-Q
which I used to make us our very first homemade dinner the cabin
I also feel the need to say this...
...after a day of hard physical work
a glass of wine doesn't do it.
But a bottle of beer.
That is the trick
try'll agree
and if you need a project to do
to work up the thirst
i have one or two for you...
just ask
I'll make some dessert
like this one
*for previous renovation blog post see the renovation and what I ate part 1

Friday, November 13, 2009

When Ready is Relative...

For those of you who aren't panicking, like me...
...Thanksgiving is 13 days away...THIRTEEN DAYS!!!
okay, that is almost 2 weeks...
But we are hosting
In our mountain cabin

that is under construction
and not, oh its a bit untidy because we are under construction
oh...don't mind the hole in the wall because we bought this fixer-upper that was empty for 3 years-except for the family of mice we found in the wall, and the ground squirrels that seem to have made a home in the loft, and the arachnid-land we have set up in the sun room.  And I call it the sun room because that is a nice way of saying, the room with the rotting walls that lets the sun in.
Oh...and can you pee before you come?
I thought it would be nice to have a holiday in the cool mountain air, just like John Denver.
So I put it out there, like 3 months ago.
Hey...we would like to host Thanksgiving if anyone is interested.
 And I figured we would have 3 months to get the place in tip top shape.

But then there was the end of summer traveling.  And then the October traveling...and then Halloween. And here we are 13 days before the big day and I am sorta thinking, we might not be ready.

I have always done my best work at the last minute.  I work well under pressure.  Which is great. But this isn't a term paper...this is Thanksgiving!  Who wants to be the one who threw the Thanksgiving that people whisper about?
Not me.
Here's the good news.
 I have the menu figured out and everyone has an assignment.
I ordered the fresh turkeys which will be ready for pick-up and the deep fryer on T-Day

Today we purchased a second fridge and an awesome smoker-slash-Q.
Not on the critical list...
...but more fun than pulling up carpet.

Here's what I haven't done:
is that even grammatically correct?
I want to make this announcement....Mike and I are committed to being ready
But ready is relative.
The house will not be dirty, but it might not be tidy.
There will be a place for everyone at the table
The food will be delicious and plentiful
Laughter will float to the rafters
There WILL BE football
...and pie

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

So I Spent the Afternoon In Tears....

...weeping, like I had a year's worth of crying stored up and hit my breaking point.  And in public no less.  But it isn't a rare occasion that I cry, actually I do it a lot.  Not, oh you hurt my feelings, so I am going into the corner to cry.  More like...that scene from Chariots of Fire where they are running on the beach and the music is building to a crescendo and you can see toil and victory on their faces.
Add music to just about any situation and you can just hand over the kleenex.
Today I attended a beautiful and emotional Veteran's Day celebration at our American Legion Post.  Every year, they hold a flag retirement ceremony. Flags that are too damaged to be flown, are respectfully disposed of by fire.  Veterans, children of veterans, friends of veterans, lined up to dedicate flags to fallen comrades.  As each flag was dedicated and subsequently burned, my emotions became more and more exposed.  It was a bit distracting...thank goodness we were outside and I could wear my over-sized sunglasses---it, combined with my camera--were very good camouflage.
It was an amazing afternoon and I am filled with Gratitude for the men and women who are our military.  I am Proud of my country and flag.  I am filled with Faith.
What an wonderful day...despite the tears.
By the time I got home I was in need of some comfort.  But it was too early for a drink, and I don't find solace in ice cream. What to do, what to do?
Donuts make me happy.
I thought, "I should make donuts"
So I did
and I took a photo--okay about a thousand photos
and then I gave the donuts away
almost all of them
i kept a few
because they look so yummy
and I have a husband who is a veteran
and he deserves a treat
on Veteran's Day
But I abstained
which I don't really don't want to do again
Red-White and no more Blues Donuts
(printable recipe)
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbs baking powder
2 Tbs melted butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add the butter and mix in until well incorporated.  Stir in the dry ingredients.  Turn onto a floured board and gently knead, incorporating more flour if needed.  You will probably need about another 1/4-1/3 cup flour.  Flatten dough out to about 1/2" and cut in donut shapes. I used a 2" round cutter and then the large end of a frosting tip for the center hole.  
Fry up.
You can dip in a icing made of powdered sugar mixed with a bit of vanilla and some cream, or chocolate ganache, or powdered sugar...or a myriad of other things. I am thinking that an icing made from apple cider might be delish.  But I'm only looking at the donuts...not tasting.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday Night Supper Club

When  I was a kid, on Halloween my mom would serve meatball sub sandwiches.  I don't remember exactly, but I think the tradition started  because the kitchen was under construction and rather than cooking another meal on the hot plate, she picked up meatball subs from Shakeys.  Each year, I think about that tradition, and wish that I was carrying it on.
But we spend Halloween away from home, and I am not so bold as to suggest to our host, what to serve  for halloween dinner. 
At least not yet. I'm still young.
Rewind to this past Halloween. I was in half-costume and hungry.  I ran to a local sandwich shop to pick up a couple of italian subs and what do I see?  A meatball  sub and it looked so delicious.  I thought, next time, that is what I am getting.
And a couple of days later I did.
And it was terrible.  
Not like anything I remember or want to eat again. I am not even sure the balls were meat.
And right then I decided meatball subs were going in the rotation...and soon.

So, tonight, Tuesday night, I made them, with homemade bread, and they were pretty darn good.

Meatball subs are easy.  Especially if you do a bit of planning and use store bought rolls (which I suggest doing unless you are obsessed like me). 
I made Sunday Sauce, on Monday and I loaded it with meatballs in preparation for tonight's dinner. 

Sunday Sauce
1/2 large onion--finely chopped
1 medium carrot--finely chopped
1 celery stalk--finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic--finely chopped
olive oil
1 1/2 lbs beef short ribs-bone in
1 lb country style pork ribs--boneless
3 links italian sausage cut in half
as many meatballs as you please
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
1 heaping tsp dried oregano
2-14oz cans crushed tomatoes
2-14 oz cans tomato puree
1 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in large pot.  Toss in onion, carrot, and celery.  Do not let them brown, but cook until they begin to soften. Add garlic.  Add meat in batches to brown (not the meatballs).  Pour in wine and let it sizzle a bit and scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Dump in the tomato puree and crushed tomatoes.  Add herbs.  Put burner on low, cover and let simmer.
Meanwhile, prepare the meatballs.

I usually add raisins and pignoli nuts to my meatballs, but since I knew I was using them for the sandwiches, I omitted this step.
ground beef
ground pork
grated parmesan cheese
bread crumbs (if you use store bought go for the seasoned one)
I mix the beef and pork together half and half.  Use 1 egg per pound of meat.  Put the meat in the bowl and break the eggs on top.  Shake the breadcrumbs over the top of the meat so it covers the expanse of the meat, but only a dusting.  Do the same with the parmesan, but a bit more than a dusting..but don't dump. Pour enough milk on top so that it can moisten the bread crumbs, but you don't want mush.  I would say about 1/4 cup per pound of meat.  Add salt and pepper...add a bit and then fry up just a smidge to test the seasoning.  Bottom line, you can always add salt to your meatballs when you are eating's not like you are cooking in a restaurant and people are judging you...or people who are paying that are judging you.
Have a gentle hand and mix all together. Form into balls--the size is your choice.  
Heat a frying pan over medium heat.  Put a bit of olive oil on the bottom and fry the meatballs until the outside is browned evenly. The meat will not be fully cooked, which is the point.  As you take the meatballs out of the frying pan, place them in the sauce to finish cooking.  Both the sauce and the meatballs benefit from this me.
Continue cooking the sauce under simmer until all the meat is cooked well. The rib meat should be falling off the bone and the meatballs should be firm.

When you make the sandwiches--toast the bread and then be generous with the meatballs and sauce.  Top with provolone cheese and pop in the oven or broiler to make the cheese nice and melty.

On Sunday I made a tart and I had a bit of  the custard in the fridge.  I had been promising the hubster that I would make ice cream for him, so I had to make good. My word is my bond you know.

Ice Cream in a Pinch
I took about 1 cup of custard and added to it  1 cup of milk chocolate chips melted in about 1/4 cup of cream making it a bit of a ganache. I threw in a shot of very strong espresso and whisked it all up.  The mixture was cool, so I didn't have to chill it in the fridge and I dumped it right into the ice cream machine.  30 minutes later I had a mildly chocolate, minimally coffee flavored, very smooth ice cream.  As I packed it into the tub for future eating, I swirled in nutella...for nutella ripple ice cream. 
While the ice cream was freezing, I made a quick hazelnut brittle

Hazelnut Brittle
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs honey
Put sugar in a saucepan.  Add enough water so the sugar has the consistency of wet sand.  Add honey and put over low heat.  Let cook away until the sugar and honey is melted and the mixture starts to turn color.  Once you see the color beginning to amber, swirl the even out the color.  I like mine a soft amber, so a few minutes into coloration, I throw in the hazelnuts and swirl a couple of times. Don't be vigorous...just do it a bit to move the contents around.  Pour the hot sugar on a silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet.  Let cool. Be very sugar is like molten will burn, and burn bad.  Let the brittle cool and then break into pieces
Eat Up!

Monday, November 9, 2009

OMG or Oh My Ganesha

My friend April and I had an amazing meal at Jitlada Restaurant last week. April had been reading about it in various magazines and on internet sites for months and was anxious to try it out. I, on the other hand, hadn't heard of it--and had sort of written off thai food for a bit because I couldn't convince my husband that thai food is good.
He's not a fan.
But he hasn't been to Jitlada-land

Surprisingly we walked into a nearly empty restaurant, just before noon, on a Thursday. Apparently the best kept secret is Jitlada, just before noon, on a Thursday. Review after review, talks of having to wait for a table and a constantly packed dining room. Tip of the day---go there for lunch.
The only other occupied table was a group of LA County Sheriffs.
 Hot diggity---good food and men in uniform...could a better day be had?

The menu is enormous. And not in a Cheesecake Factory way...where there are pages and pages of random stuff...and really only 2 things you want to eat. This menu looks like the best dinner party I ever attended--pages and pages of unbelievable treats.
 Authentic, spicy treats.
I couldn't wait to order...but how to decide?

April had done her research, so had a general idea of some items that were a must. Also...Jitlada helped us out a bit by pointing out some of the Chef's specials both on the menu and a framed notice of really special specials. Thank goodness, because it will take me a very long time to get through the whole menu.
I might even be tempted to try lamb here...the food is that good!

The owner...Jaz is adorable.  I just want to hug her.  It was like we had entered her kitchen at home. She is dedicated to serving fresh, authentic Thai food. She is also dedicated to making sure each customer has a delicious meal and a great time.
 There is no compromising.

We ordered 4 dishes....

Chef's special-special-- Morning Glory Salad--fried watercress salad with shrimp. Eventhough the watercress was battered and deep was crispy and very fresh tasting. It was, in a word, amazing. I can't do the salad justice here, believe is worth trying...and then eating the entire plate. *this photo is courtesy of jitlada restaurant's website.

Our waiter recommended the rice salad. He felt it would go well with the other dishes we ordered, so we went with it. I am so happy we did. It might have been my favorite dish of the afternoon. It was a cold salad and very simple. But it had a flavor that I can't quite get my finger on..but I am almost certain there is lemongrass in there somewhere. Lemongrass and a melange of goodness that is unnmistakably yummy. Yes...words are currently escaping me. I mean really, how many times can I say good without it becoming an ineffective adjective?*this is a photo i hastily took before polishing off the entire plate of rice.

Based on recommendations from YELP we ordered the crouching tiger hidden dragon beef. Actually, that wasn't it's name...let me check my notes..
ah yes, the crying tiger beef. You know what...i am crying too...crying that I can't eat it every day.
 This is the dish that I am convinced will turn my hubster into a Thai Tippler. Seriously delicious.

Our final and most serious dish was the Spicy Brown Sugar Chicken. This dish is not sweet at all. But I imagine there is a bit of sugar to assist in the spicy aspect. This dish will get ya coming and going... in a good way. SBSC is spicy. without hiding the appeal.
It is a real skill to be able to create a dish so spicy that it cures nasal congestion, but doesn't mask the amazing flavors.

During our meal, Jaz flitted in and out...sharing stories and generosity.  She offered beer to match the food, a dessert of warm coconut pumpkin custard that melted in my mouth (something else I know hub will love), and a not very subtle thai coffee that kicked me into top gear.  I am hooked.  Coffee, coconut, beer, spicy food....AND men in uniform.
 Call the medics, I feel a swoon coming on.

*some photos are from the website (the good ones!)
** while at Jitlada we met Jo, a food enthusiast/blogger and Jitlada-fan. She eats here quite often and has very good taste, so if you don't believe me, believe her! You can find her here.

Jitlada Restaurant
5233 W Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 663-3104
Mon. 5:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Tue-Thu. 11:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Fri-Sat. 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Sun. 11:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Friday, November 6, 2009

ladies with marmalade and a cause

I know it is only November, but Christmas is right around the corner and it is never too soon to start collecting prezzies.
My cousin, whom also happens to be my friend, and I came across a charity called  samaritan's purse.  The group that runs this program is a religious organization which neither of us are affiliated with--but like its holiday project, operation christmas child.  Each November, they collect and distribute shoe boxes, filled with Christmas goodies, to underprivileged children around the world. Julie and I thought it would be fun and rewarding to throw a "box collection" party. So we are.

We LOVE putting together parties and supporting a good cause, makes it that much more enjoyable.

We both are a bit crafty, have similar taste, and  have a secret sewing weapon in Julie's mom.  Here are some pics from a baby shower we threw (for another cousin who also happens to be Julie's sister-in-law).
Champagne and coaster "baby blocks"
I made these favors to resemble baby bibs and filled with jelly beans.  We made the cookies too!
I especially love the "Ethan" banner that Julie created and draped across the mommy-to-be's chair.

It really was a bunch of fun.

But I digress...

Julie and I have been planning for this party for a couple of months and what is most  important to us is that everyone brings a christmas box, has a great time, and leaves with a treat.
One of the yummies we are giving is a jar of homemade carrot-orange marmalade.  Before you say...oh is really good.
This is a recipe I learned in India. Each morning, I would enjoy this marmalade with warm croissants (yes plural) and a nice smear of sweet butter.  I fell in love with the flavor and didn't have to beg too much to get the recipe.
These two lovely and helpful young ladies are Julie's daughter and my niece.  They are smart and nice and never do anything wrong (wink, wink).

So last Sunday afternoon we buckled down and canned a bunch of jars of marmalade.

The party is this weekend, so stay tuned for pics and more recipes from the event...

Carrot-Orange Marmalade
6 medium carrots--grated
12 oranges peels on--thinly sliced
3 lemons peels on--thinly sliced
6-7 cups sugar (depending on the sweetness of the oranges)
1 cup orange juice
2" knob of ginger--peeled and kept whole
1 Tbs fresh ginger-very finely chopped
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Let sit overnight or at least 6 hours in the refrigerator to meld flavors.  When you slice the fruit, make sure you catch all the juice in the bowl.  When you are ready to cook the marmalade, dump everything in a large heavy pot on med-low heat.  Cook for several hours covered--checking periodically to make sure the bottom isn't burning. After several hours, remove the top and lower the heat and cook until the sugar syrup begins to thicken and get nice and sticky. Do not let it burn. The cooking process should take 4-5 hours.  But you can walk don't have to stand over the stove.
Once the marmalade is ready, you can put it in jars and store in the fridge. If you want to store for longer you must go through the canning process.  Please use proper and sanitary procedures to do so.
This recipe makes approximately 15-5oz jars.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tuesday Night Supper Club

It's no secret that I am married to a hunter.  Well, my hunter came home last week with a cooler full of deer meat. We butchered it down, packaged it up and filled the freezer.
Venison does not taste like beef.  It has a more intense flavor, more earthy. I have heard it called gamey, but gamey makes me want to gag.  Venison doesn't want to make me gag.
It is very lean and can be gussied up or dressed down.
Tonight I am dressing it down.

My hubster likes pizza and we are always on the hunt for a great pie with a thin crust. I thought I would try and make a dough with minimal yeast and low gluten to minimize the lift and chewiness of the an attempt to get a thin crispy crust.
I figured I would give it a try for Tuesday Night Supper Club.
The results were fairly successful.  The pizza tasted much better than it looked. It looked homemade and scrumpy (scrappy and frumpy at the same time)....but my toppings rocked!

At Mike's request I made him a half and half pizza...half pepperoni and half ground venison.

"veneroni" pizza
2 1/4 cup tipo 00 or cake flour
1/8 cup olive oil 
1 cup tepid water
1 tsp active dry yeast
pinch sugar
1/2 tsp salt
In a large bowl, place the flour and salt.  Make a well in the center.  Drop a pinch of sugar in the water, then add yeast.  Let sit a few minutes making sure the yeast is alive.  Add olive oil to liquid.  Pour liquid in the well and mix to incorporate.  Remove dough from bowl and knead incorporating more flour if needed.  You should knead for about 10 minutes. You want your dough to be smooth, but it won't be completely springy.  Place in an oiled bowl.  At this point you can place in the fridge overnight---or for the afternoon and bring out about an hour before you want to make the pizza.  You can also buy pizza dough...but I think it will be more bread-y than this recipe.
You can buy pizza sauce but I like to use marinara sauce. I always have some in the freezer.  
 1/2 lb ground venison or other meat--cooked well and in small crumble.
pepperoni slices
grated parmesan cheese
grated mozzerella
fresh basil leaves
mushrooms--thinly sliced
dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
very good olive oil
Roll out the dough to your desired thickness. I like it thin and crispy, so I go very thin.  I immediately put it on the pizza peel that I have dusted with cornmeal.  Trying to get the dough off the counter is a challenge otherwise.  Spread sauce on top, sprinkle with oregano and sprinkling of parmesan.  Top with meat.  Place mushrooms on top, along with basil.  Put as much mozzerella as you can stand. I like to dot with a bit more marinara--top with salt and pepper and drop on a pizza stone in a very hot oven. When it comes out of the oven, drizzle a bit of olive oil on top. Place the pizza stone in the lowest rack and turn the oven to the highest temp. Allow the stone to heat with the oven.  I usually get the oven going about an hour before I start to put the pizza together.  

I was craving a cheese pizza, so I made this for myself
cheese pizza
marinara sauce
parmesan cheese
pinch dried oregano
fresh mozzerella--sliced
grated mozzerella 
arugula leaves tossed in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper
Roll out dough, top with marinara.  Sprinkle parmesan and oregano.  Arrange sliced fresh mozzerella on top--add basil and top with some grated mozzerella. 
 I don't like gooey-gooey, so was a bit sparing on the cheese.  Once the pizza comes out of the oven, top with the arugula.  It will sort of melt into the pizza and make a lovely warm salad.

So there you have it.  Homemade pizza.  The good news is, you can make the dough in advance or you can buy it.  The rest is really easy.  I still maintain that it is less expensive than delivery pizza...especially if you are a generous tipper.  Tip yourself instead!
Eat up!


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