Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cookbooks from the Library

I have a decent and growing collection of cookbooks at home. In an effort to save money, support my community and NOT star on the next Hoarders (I'm actually a minimalist at heart), when I find a new cookbook of interest, which is weekly, I try and track it down at my local library. If it's that good, I can always go purchase it at a later date. 
The new one I just checked out is: Super Natural Cooking: Five Delicious Ways to Incorporate Whole and Natural Foods into Your Cooking, by Heidi Swanson.
Aside from cookbook writer, she is also a photographer. I look forward to flipping through Super Natural Cooking for visual inspiration, as well as learning something about natural whole foods and incorporating more of them into my every day. She also has a new book coming out in two weeks. So, if I like what I see, there will be another soon. Reviews to follow...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Blood Oranges

Photo by Greg Jacobs
It's blood orange season! I thought I would try a different recipe (different for me) and make a Blood Orange and Cardamom Upside Down Cake with Cardamom Whipped Cream, from David Lebovitz. Results were tasty. But I can't help but think it might have tasted better with pears perhaps. I am attempting to use ingredients in new and different ways (again, for me). I am used to oranges as something to eat fresh, or squeeze for juice. So making a cake with them was definitely a stretch. I think it turned out pretty well though. Next citrus experiment, I'm pretty sure will have to involve kumquats, before they are out of season. Check out the beautiful colors...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Listening/Cooking, Reading/Looking

listening- marc maron WTF podcasts
cooking- chipotle meatballs and blood orange upside down cake with cardamom whipped cream
reading- gossip magazines and food blogs
looking- anjelah johnson standup

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Margarita = Margarita

The perfect Margarita (also known as the Hepler'ita)
Ratio 3:2:2
3 parts Tequila - Cazadores is my preference, as well as preferred at graveyards across Mexico
2 parts Triple Sec
2 parts Fresh Lime Juice - MUST be key limes

Before and After

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wine Tasting

The last two weekend's of cooking class were actually on Wine. We tasted wine at 9:30 a.m. I'm not going to pretend like I've never drank that early. But, you know, I've never set an alarm, washed my face and gotten ready to drink that early.
I've gone wine tasting at vineyards in Paso Robles, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez Valley, Napa, Sonoma, Santa Cruz, Temecula, Spain, Oregon.... I have hosted and attended wine parties, frequented local wine shops, planned vacations specifically to taste wine. In other words, I have had some wine tasting experience. But NEVER have I tasted like I did over the last two weeks. And learned so much. A few things I learned and will do differently on future tastings...

Weekend one- Taste with the whole mouth.
Wash it left, right, under tongue, over teeth, and roof of mouth.
Nose should penetrate the plane of the glass opening when sniffing.
Store white wine AND red wine at same temperature.

Weekend two- Wine is an ingredient. Cook with it. Use it as accompaniment with food.
Food and wine should go together and bring out the best in each. Not be a detriment, nor pull out bad flavors or make anything taste less fresh or delicious.
Taste wine by itself. Taste each part of a meal or food by itself.
Taste wine again.
Taste food altogether. Then wash it down with wine.
Think, discuss, share. Repeat.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Making Turkey Meatloaf, whilst Wigging out at Denko's

Sent from my iPhone

Ah-Ha moments in food

The day I had my first steak at Ruth's Chris. Frankly, I had never really enjoyed steak before, and didn't know why everyone made such a big deal. Then one year for Brother John's birthday, we went to Ruth's Chris, and wow- the sizzling plate, perfectly cooked steak, crispy on the outside... I finally got it! Haven't been the same since.

Ginger and Zinfandel. Once while visiting Brother Mike, I made a Gingerbread Cake for my family to enjoy after dinner. I asked if he had anything that would go with it, I was thinking coffee or liqueur. He brought out a bottle of Turley Old Vine Zinfandel. Maybe he knew at the time what a magical pairing Ginger and Zinfandel is. And it was. We felt pretty cool to have 'discovered' it without knowing.

Bananas and caramel.. or maybe it was butterscotch. I don't know. It was a pie from a German restaurant that wasn't there a year later when I wanted to revisit. For some reason those two flavors were so good together. I may have to pursue German Cookery and see if this is a traditional thing, or if it was just a fluke.

Artichokes and milk. I don't know why. I remember this one as a kid, which is probably the last time I had a glass of milk with a meal.

My next cooking class will be on Wine and Food pairing. We will not only put together wines/foods that are harmonious, but discordant as well, just to learn a lesson. I look forward to it!

Friday, March 4, 2011

with a wink and a smile

Well Menu Development class was a bit hectic, kinda stressful at first, then kinda fun. I thought we'd get some kind of lecture, but instead we pulled a number out of a hat, and were assigned a tray of raw ingredients, with which we had to make a 3 course meal. yikes! I got 2 beets, 2 tangerines, 4 red potatoes, asparagus, watercress, and a chicken breast on the bone. We were able to use a lot of pantry items like garlic, oil, some nuts, flour, sugar, some spices, etc. Anyway- I made the best of it! I might actually want to try and make all of it again. This was jumping into the deep end of cooking, and hoping for the best. Remember that post about failing harder? Well, it wasn't so bad..
Roasted Beet, Tangerine and Walnut Salad over watercress in a citrus vinaigrette 

Roasted Chicken with a Tarragon Herb Compound Butter and roasted potatoes and asparagus

Tangerine Pavlova with Fresh Fruit Supréme and whipped cream