31 October 2009

Happy Halloween!

From the first costume of the weekend ... Susie Homemaker. Happy to say this is often how I look, on non-Halloween themed occasions ;)

Happy Halloween foodies. Get your ghoul on.

(also, costume #2 coming tonight. stay tuned)

30 October 2009

Turkey Hash

I love using leftovers, especially when they're delicious ones like roasted turkey.

Kickin' off the morning with a hearty turkey hash, using some more of that slow roasted turkey, a quick cooked potato (poke holes, 2.5 minutes on high, then flip, 2.5 more minutes), red onion, turkey bacon, cheddar cheese and chives. Add a little broth or turkey drippings if you have it, some chili powder, salt and pepper and there ya go. Bliss on a plate.

Happy Friday :)

Soup, continued

My endeavor earlier this week, and the subject of the last post here, left me with a Costco amount of homemade poultry stock (turkey + chicken).

Recipe #1 was inspired again by Elise's Mom's Turkey Soup, so I started to shred some turkey, chop up onions, carrots, celery and some tomatoes and let them become friends again.

The second soup I first made last year when I was living in the Back Bay, and just realized I may have inadvertently made it one year to the day that I first tried it. Either way, there's no reason we can't revisit favorites, and now we can add the photo (from last year, so apologies for the photo quality. I had yet to get my EOS xTI).

Last year, I used leftover frozen tom yum soup broth so it had a wonderful lemongrass undertone but also quite a kick from the Thai chiles Sam and I used. I really liked the spice, and replicated this time (sans chiles) with a few dashes of Sriracha.

Ten Minute Couscous Soup with a kick
Adaapted from Heidi @ 101Cookbooks

(KT note ... looks like I first made this soup the exact day Heidi posted it, then again this year, also on the 26th. Bizarre. Hm. :) )

7 cups great-tasting broth - in my case turkey/chicken (can eyeball this)
2 or 3 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup regular couscous
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets, cut into tiny pieces smaller than your thumb
1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets, cut into tiny pieces smaller than your thumb

Bring the stock to a boil with a few dashes of oil and the hot pepper flakes. When it comes to a boil, remove from heat and add the couscous. Wait two minutes, then add the broccoli and cauliflower. Wait another 2-3 minutes until the vegetables lose their raw edge and you're done! I added a few shots of Sriracha, but you can leave as is, add some sundried tomatoes and goat cheese or any other sort of topping you'd like. The soup is very forgiving, so have fun and play.

'Tis the season (for roasts and soup)

I tried to be clever, I really did.

The weather has finally shed the last of the hot, humid lackluster "summer" here in Boston - a summer that I frankly don't really remember. It happens when you frequent airports regularly enough to know the waitstaff and flight attendants (slight over exaggeration, but only slightly).

The fall is by far my favorite time of year, with winter being a close second. Growing up in the closest thing Western NY has to the tundra, you either accept the snow and grow a fondness for it, or start crafting your escape plan to the Carolinas or Florida as soon as you pass basic word recognition in elementary school. I was one of the former, as you can tell.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, one that I'll actually be hosting here in my little Brookline apartment this year and more importantly cooking for my out of town family. So when I saw a 1/2 bone in turkey breast at the supermarket, I plopped one in my basket and thought I'd start the turkey season a bit early. Heck, why not.

The prep was simple. Rough chop up some onions, and lay in the bottom of the pan with carrots and celery to make a rack. Mix together melted butter, garlic, (some people even call for mayo ... which seems interesting) and some herbs and rub under the skin and over the bird. Pour a little bit of stock over so there's some liquid in the pan, and into the oven it goes.

After 2 1/2 hours or so (I googled temperatures by pound), this was the result.

And ... it was perfectly cooked. Even after my jetlagged self fell asleep sitting up before 9 pm. Thank god for kitchen timers.

I had a craving for one of my favorite cranberry dressings, as well, so I started to toss ingredients into the food processor. A friend had brought two different dressings to a big Boston-based Thanksgiving we had in 2006 (and made a 23-lb bird, to boot) - one the traditional jam like cooked down version, and the other this delightful, fresh cranberry and orange relish. Just wasn't right calling it a "dressing".

Cranberry-Orange Relish

1/2 - 3/4 bag of fresh cranberries
1 orange, with rind, chopped into small pieces (unless you have a beast of a food processor)
2 TB of sugar
1/2 cup (or more to taste) of chopped walnuts

Put into food processor. Turn it on. And look, you're done :)

The result should be tart, a little bit but not too sweet, and finely chopped. This is perfect for turkey sandwiches, adding to yogurt, hell - I even put on top of cranberry chocolate chip pancakes (oh heck yes).

I had saved a roasted chicken carcass in my freezer (ah, travel. Thank god for pre-roasted things at the supermarket) to make stock, and after picking at the turkey here, decided to combine them both to make the monster pot of all pots of stock.

I followed Elise's Mom's recipe for stock, including a few other things to just plain clean out the fridge.

So in went Mr. Chicken Carcass, the turkey bones with a bit of meat still attached (I had plenty, so a little lost was fine to me), an onion, carrots, celery, peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, a mushroom bouillon (more on this magic ingredient from Italy later), and water to cover. I even added some leftover red wine, mushroom and bacon gravy (from operation pork schnitzel) just for kicks. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 4+ hours. Strain and there you go. Sometimes it needs a bit more salt or some other missing ingredient.

Added benefit, the smell that perfumes your house. This was almost reason enough to make. :) Soup recipes to come in the next post.

21 October 2009

Wordless Wednesdays: Italia (trieste, venezia)

The tale of two zucchini breads - which one reigns supreme?

I've been watching a wee too much Iron Chef. Secret ingredient here is zucchini.

It was the battle of sweet v. savory zucchini bread, one a recipe from Elise @ Simply Recipes, pitted against one from Hannah @ Honey & Jam.

I really wanted to like you, savory zucchini cheddar bread, I really really did. But it just wasn't in the cards. Was it the parsley + dill? The onions? Lack of sugar? I don't know. But alas, we're just not meant to be.

On the other hand, Elise's recipe for zucchini bread, which I put chocolate chips and dried cranberries in, was divine. And as a frequent zucchini bread maker with my trusted recipe, I can say that there's been a sub in the recipe card box, and Elise wins hands down.

Have a look for yourself ...

Here's the winning recipe, folks, brought to you by Elise at Simply Recipes. Well done, my dear. My hat's off to you (if I was wearing a hat). :)

Elise's Zucchini Bread

2 eggs, beaten
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups grated fresh zucchini
2/3 cup melted unsalted butter
2 teaspoons baking soda
Pinch salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix in the grated zucchini and then the melted butter. Sprinkle baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour, a third at a time. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg and mix. Fold in the nuts and dried cranberries or raisins if using.

Divide the batter equally between 2 buttered 5 by 9 inch loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour (check for doneness at 50 minutes) or until a wooden pick inserted in to the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool thoroughly.

Makes 2 loaves.

Group dinners - Moqueca de peixe

So, blog readers (I'm going to pretend there are some out there. humor me), I have to let you in on a few tidbits about myself, and a secret. I swear, this'll be quick.

First off, I grew up with boys. Outside of two female cousins I saw quite frequently, the majority of my childhood was spent trying to fit in with my older brothers friends, and wondering why I didn't seem to be able to tolerate female nonsense. It took me years to accept that, treasure the select gal friends I had, and give up on the rest. :)

As a result, it's safe to say that about 75 - 80 percent of my close friends are men. No shocker there.

With that out of the way, on to the secret part. Not-so-secret part, we're busy people, between work, vacations, travel etc., it's often hard to get the same people in one room to catch up. My group of pals in Boston do this usually through some sort of orchestrated potluck or group dinner (once had a skirmish with a friend over negative connotations for the word "potluck". oy). And the secret here ... the majority of the guys out here are not only skilled engineers (I work at MIT) but incredible cooks.

I kid you not.

(photos compliments of mrwalter)

This past August called for one of these dinners, hosted at my place. I set out to make Moqueca de Peixe, a Brazilian fish stew, with saffron rice, and just for fun, some margarita cupcakes for dessert (recipe here). The moqueca couldn't be easier, as long as you have the special ingredient (dende oil, available in Latin markets) and we were good to go.

Also on the table was a barley mushroom risotto from Abe, a grapefruit and avocado salad from our french delegate Olivier :), a sweet corn + black beans + tomato salad from Matt, some guacamole from Sam and a number of desserts from Rick. In the past, they've brought whole roasts, fruit tarts made from scratch, pumpkin cobbler that was to die for, and the list goes on. We like good eats, what can I say.

All in all, one of my favorite way to catch up with people I love. Hands down.

With the story out of the way, on to the moqueca, which I highly recommend you try when you have a crowd to entertain.

Moqueca de Peixe (Brazilian fish stew)

Quantities in the recipe are relative, do what seems best for your pot. It's all about the layering in this one.

Serves 6-8 hungry men.

1.25 - 1.5 lbs of firm white fish and other seafood (I used swordfish tips, striped bass, and a few peeled jumbo shrimp at the end)
4 large tomatoes
2-3 peppers (I used red and orange)
A large onion, 2 if needed
Lime juice
Minced garlic (3 cloves or so)
2.5 cups coconut milk
3 TB dende oil
Salt and pepper
Spring onions
chilies, either diced, or use chile oil / hot sauce (I used chile oils from recent trip to Brazil)

Cut the fish into bite size pieces and place in a bag. Add the lime juice, salt, ground pepper, and minced garlic. Marinate fish 30 minutes to 2 hours (be careful it doesn't cook ceviche style).

Drizzle a bit of olive oil in heavy bottom pan. I used my pasta pot, which worked perfectly. Cut the vegetables into rings and layer half of them, peppers, tomatoes, onions, then some salt and pepper.

Add a layer of fish with the marinade (omitting the shrimp, since that cooks quickly, we can add that at the end).

Layer the vegetables again.

Meanwhile mix together the coconut milk, dende oil (it should be a nice reddish color), and chilies / chile oil. Pour over the vegetables and fish. I needed slightly more than 1 can of coconut milk, but you may not. The mixture cooks down, but you still want it to be stew-like.

Bring mixture to a boil, and simmer gently, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove cover and simmer for 25 minutes more, or until vegetables are well-cooked and tender. If you're adding shrimp, add in the last 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with chopped scallions before serving. Serve with rice (in my case saffron rice), fried plantains or whatever else you'd like as trimmings... like margarita cupcakes. Hell, why not?

03 October 2009

Rainy days

Today's one of those days in Boston where the sky repeatedly opens up and drenches the living daylights out of anything not covered. Best defined as a waterlogged day, where all you want to do is nap, in my case bake, and plunk yourself on a comfy sofa or chair with a hot toddy (above).

So instead of typing out the 3 recipes I tested out today (one I'm not so crazy about, but 2 for 3 ain't bad), I'm going to take a break from the regularly scheduled programming and do something fun... and a bit revealing about me. Are you excited? :)

And with that, time to go remove apron, wash flour off self, and change out of my PJs. I know, I'm sad about it too.

(borrowed from The Boastful Baker)

Last song I purchased from iTunes: Nomo's "Ghost Rock"

Made for dinner tonight: Well, for last night - spicy ramen to help kick my head cold. Sriracha has healing powers, I tell ya. Tonight I'm heading to a potluck / housewarming, relieving me of my dinner making duties for the evening.

Currently drinking: Actually just made myself a latte using a Tyler Florence method for frothing milk with an immersion blender, with a bit of vanilla sugar.

Playing on iTunes right this very second: "For Blue Skies" - Strays Don't Sleep

Currently reading: Study guides, and about 2 pages into Don Delillo's "Americana".

Laughing about: The fact that I started today with the intention of being really productive, and here I am at 4:27 pm wearing a frilly apron and pjs, covered in flour, and about to take another nap (#2 for the day) before heading to Rick's.

New to me, easy and delicious dessert I recently made: hands down, the Red Velvet double decker cake I made for my birthday. Not necessarily "easy" if you count being covered with food dye like war paint, but most delicious one of note made recently.

Song I can’t stop playing over and over and over again: "Colly Strings" - Manchester Orchestra

Currently knitting: Had a brief stint knitting when I was 19. And by brief, I mean maybe 2 weeks.

In need of: More hours in the day.

Playing on the iPod now: "Tonight" the acoustic version by Lykke Li (thanks to tfly).

Will soon attempt to learn: How to ace exams that will not be mentioned. Or to finally practice my guitar.

Not getting enough: Studying done. Sadly, life doesn't stop for that sort of thing. Oh, if I could just have a giant remote control for life.

Hyped up about: Fall. I love everything about it from pumpkin-related goodies, the weather, sweaters, hot toddies. Then again, hot toddies can almost always be justified.

Something I need to do tonight if it kills me: Get to Rick's housewarming pot luck.

Craving: Hmm, I just made what I was craving ... pork schnitzel with a red wine bacon mushroom gravy. And let me tell you ... it was awesome.

Trying to learn how to: better balance work and personal life, the latter not really existing much these days. But that's OK.

Something I thoroughly enjoy: Rainy days when all I have to do is nap, read, and nap some more. Mittens. Good single-malt. Surprises. Food-related / themed gifts.

Hell hath frozen over because: I've started running again. Started is loosely used here.

Best thing I’ve bought this month: Flyopen cardigans. Granted, they're just a heavier version of the other ones I have ... so my wardrobe is a bit bland, so shoot me.

What I might be for Halloween: I'm terrible at these sorts of things, outside of the year Nic and I went as the milkman (Nicole) and the pregnant house wife (take a guess).

Still bragging about: The four-course Christmas meal I made alone for 12. It's remarkable what a little anger can produce. Hopefully this Thanksgiving won't involve that component, but be just as delicious.

Looking forward to: Seeing Adam this week, Alex in 2 weeks in Italy, also ... for it to be December 6.

Not looking forward to: The impending aches and pains of my work schedule for the next 9 weeks. Body, please bear with me, and I apologize in advance.

Playing on the iPod now: "Lover, you should have come over" by Jeff Buckley.

Next up on the reading list: After Delillo, "Maggie Cassidy" by Kerouac.

Can’t believe: That it's almost time for Playoffs. :)

Absolutely, positively obsessed with: Trader Joe's Triple Gingersnaps (thanks to SJ), Dogfish Punkin, and the blue-cheese stuffed dates wrapped in fresh pepper bacon from Hop and Vine in Portland (thanks to Ross).

Must make time to: Study, clean, pack for the next two trips, and take care of a laundry list of items I've put off for the last mmm 6 months. Example: getting a bedframe / boxspring.

Trying to decide: Where and what I want to be in 5 years. Nothing like a big pie in the sky question for this rainy Saturday.

Last dessert I baked: Zucchini bread (and muffins) with chocolate chips and dried cranberries.