Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Week of Eating In

So I thought it best to post a little photo montage of my week of eating in thus so far.  I will begin with dessert, because I am pregnant and that is how I roll.

This rugelach, with apricot Ina Garten recipe is totally divine.  Chef informed me that I have been pronouncing rugelach wrong all these years.  I have been saying "roogala" when he says its "rugalak"  Being that I am from South Florida I feel like I have a pretty good handle on Hebrew lingo, but he is a Schwartz so I guess he probably knows better.
Next is another Barefoot Contessa recipe...perfect poached fruit in this gorgeous orange and lemon zest vanilla syrup.

Now onto a starch...Noodle Kugle with Yellow Raisins. 

And what do you serve this strange starch with...the easiest brisket (aka pot roast in some parts) ever.

I thought I would share a little picture of some parsley and green onions grown by yours truly!

I used them in this recipe from The Pioneer Woman Blog...a killer pasta and mushroom sauce.  By some sort of divine intervention she posted this blog on Tuesday and it just so happened that I had every ingredient necessary in my fridge and garden.  She calls for thin spaghetti, but I used Bucatini, because it is my new favorite pasta!

Wednesday was my birthday...and I confess Chef and I went out to lunch.  I needed a treat...I am officially less than a year away from 30.  As a sign that middle age is creeping up on me...I caught a little cold and Chef made me homemade chicken noodle soup with artisan pappardelle pasta for dinner.

I will be enjoying the soup again for dinner tonight...but for tomorrow night I am thinking about trying out The Blushing Hostess recipe for Tandoori Apricot Chicken...since I have apricot preserves leftover from the rugelach!

I am not so sure about what we will be dining on Saturday or Sunday...but we will be dining in! Share with me any new recipes you have tried out this week...I am always looking for something simply delicious.  
Happy Eating In!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Eat In Challenge

Note to Self:  Do not engage toddler in conversation about bubbles before hitting the publish button on your blog, which is exactly next to the delete button.

Earlier today I deleted this post.  I had worked on it over the past two days and in one split second poof.  C'est la vie.  So here goes with round two...

Last week I came across The Week of Eating in Challenge and I would like to invite you to join me in this little adventure.  It begins next Monday, February 22 and the idea is to eat every single meal for an entire week at home, or eat food that was cooked at home.  Now this may seem daunting to some, but it is the way most people across the world it can't be that hard right?

I have a personal chef and a toddler, so needless to say we eat dinner at home almost all the time. Lunch is another story, granted we often lunch at our own restaurant 29 South which isn't really really "eating out"  as it is more like "eating work."  At least that is what I tell myself, but we do go out to brunch every Sunday.  Brunch is my favorite meal and there is nothing like enjoying it when someone else is cooking.

So why try this Eat in Challenge?  Personally, lately I have been feeling a little guilty.  Due to our lunching out so much Lil' Bit always has leftovers which in turn often are replayed for her either at dinner or the following lunch.  She often eats dinner before Chef and I, mainly because Chef is not usually home at 6 pm which is her dinner time.  While I cook a simple, yet tasty meal for Chef and I to eat at 8ish...Lil' Bit often eats leftovers with an added veg or grain.  Leftovers = microwave = yuck.

Some less personal reasons...well eating out can get a little pricey, and you have so much less control over the quality of the food you are eating.  We try to eat mostly organic at home, and to do so here in Fernandina Beach at any restaurant other than our own is next to impossible.

But more importantly, to cook and eat at home is an essential part of a nation's cultural identity.  Food is a unifying aspect of any culture, and America is quickly loosing its culinary heritage.  For generations the different culinary traditions of the various regions of this country were passed down at the stove and at the dinner table, and they are becoming obsolete.  They are being replaced with weird dinners in bags that you just pop in the microwave, or entire meals to be eaten in the front seat of your car.

As a side note:  Regularly eating meals in your car is weird unless you are homeless and you live in your car.  That is the only exception.  And on that same note...hamburgers are not snacks for crying out loud!  But I will save that rant for another blog post.

With all the modern technology to make cooking at home processors, blenders, dishwashers, spray on olive oil...the list is is amazing that today we often complain that we don't have the time or energy to cook a meal of whole foods at home.  Our grandmothers and grandfathers did it with so much less.  

So that all being said, I challenge you to eat in next week. If you go to the link above and sign up you will find all sorts of fun little tools to help, like a spreadsheet to help you compare the cost savings of your week of eating in versus a week of eating out as well as neat phone aps.

Eat in...turn on the music, pour yourself a glass of wine and relax into a recipe.  Although I would just stick to coffee or juice while making breakfast.  You can do it.  Do it for your it for your it for yourself.  If you are single, throw a potluck, invite a neighbor over, or perhaps make a date of it. There is no better way to get to know a person than a meal prepared and shared together.  

I am going to give it whirl, although my birthday is next week and for my gift Chef is giving me a day at the spa.  I may have to cheat and eat a salad in between my massage and facial.  I is a rough life, but somebody has to live it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Lupercalia...or Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!  I was once told that Valentine's Day was invented by Hallmark, but the truth be told is that Valentine's Day has been celebrated long before the greeting card corporation existed. In Ancient Rome, February 15th was the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, a festival of fertility, and it understandably had romantic undertones if you know what I mean.  In an effort to convert pagans, the Catholic Church changed the holiday to February 14th in 496 and called it St. Valentine's Day in honor of two martyrs, Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni.  It wasn't until the middle ages, 1400's,  that Valentine's Day became officially associated with romance.

Chef and I started a new Valentine's Day tradition this year.  It was inspired by the pagan origins of the holiday as well as the tradition of my friend Andrea and her husband Charles.  Charles gives Andrea rose bushes every year which she plants in her garden.  This gesture struck me as darling.  I told Chef from now on in I wanted a pair of plants and in return I would make him the feast of his choice.

Two beautiful azalea topiaries were my gift this year and for his feast...traditional Jewish comfort food.

Course 1 Chopped Liver (not my favorite...the things we do for love)
Course 2 Brisket with Carrots and Onions
Course 3 Noodle Kugel
Course 4 Poached Fruit
Course 5 Rugelach

Unfortunately,  Valentine's Day is a work day for all chefs, so we shall celebrate our feast next weekend.  I hope you all enjoy well and love well!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Light at the End of the Tunnel

My octogenarian grandmother, who has been living with cancer for six years says that February is the worst month of the year..."Everyone in our family dies in February." Sister, as we all call her, tells me this every year, and every year I tell her "Well, Sister,  it is my birthday month... so just think of that as a little light at the end of the tunnel." 

The end of winter can feel a bit cavernous, and February is seemingly colder and darker than any other.  It is winter's grand finale.  Granted I live off the coast of North Florida, so it is not exactly winter with a capital 'W' here, but there was a freeze this week and the days are cold...well lets just say its sweater weather.  I will take Florida winter over Florida summer any day, but with Lil' Bit the cold weather is just as suffocating.  We can only spend so much time outside before her runny nose tells us it is time to go back in.

This year I found a way to make my own little light at the end of the winter tunnel.

Chef and  I rigged up a little seed hatchery in our garage with heat lamps.  First I began with just seeding the trays and keeping them in the garage away from the cold rain.  After a week and no sprouts I told Chef we had to get some heat lamps.  Two days basking under the artifical light little green shoots began popping up.  You could practically watch them grow.  I feel like I have a little secret taste of Spring which I visit twice a day to water and tend.  It is really lovely.  I recommend it for all of you with a case of the winter blues.  You can buy the heat lamps at any hardware store and they are inexpensive.

Most people start their seeds inside, but with two cats, two dogs, and a toddler there is no safe place to keep our little green hatchery.  Our garage has a few windows, and it seems to be working well...although I do move them outside for sunshine regularly.  The crookneck squash, cucumbers, and blue velevet okra are the biggest of the litter...sturdy little sprouts. 

The Sungold tomatoes, Matt's Wild Cherry, Zapotec and Arkansas Traveler tomatoes are a bit more temperamental.  As are the Little Finger Eggplants and the herbs...basil and parsley.

I am growing these with high hopes for the 29 South garden, as well as for a plot I share with 2 other mamas at the 9th Street Community Garden.  Any extras we will donate to the community garden's Earth Day plant sale. 

Last weekend at our community garden meeting we had a potluck and I brought the most delicious cornbread on the face of the earth.  I know that is quite a claim to make, but it is true. A number of fellow gardeners asked me to share the recipe so I thought I would include it in this week's post.  My mother-in-law found the recipe and it is the only cornbread that she serves and it is the only cornbread I will ever serve.  Cornbread is such a great winter staple, goes fabulous with soups and stews and all things hearty!  This particular recipe is simple and makes a rich, creamy gritty mealy texture...that is impossible to stop eating.  Enjoy!

All-Time Favorite Sour Cream Cornbread / CookWise / Shirley O. Corriher
Makes 10 Servings

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups canned creamed corn
  • 1 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 3/4 cup corn, canola, or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups cornbread mix or self-rising cormeal, slightly packed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 Degrees F
  2. Beat the eggs slightly in a medium mixing bowl.  Stir in the creamed corn, sour cream, and oil.  Add the cornbread mix, salt, and baking powder.  Stir to blend well.  
  3. Spray a 9-inch skillet with an oven proof handle (I use a silicone baking pan you can also use a 9 inch round cake pan)and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Pour in batter.
  4. Place the skillet on a burner over medium high heat for 1 minute (Skip this step with the silicone pan or bake pan). Then place on a shelf in the upper third of the oven.  Turn the oven down to 375 Degrees and bake for 35 to 40 minutes to brown the top. (check with knife, it may take longer)  Watch carefully.  
  5. Brush the top with melted butter fora shiny finish.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Game Day

I am not much for televised sports. I love to go to live games of every variety (except for perhaps golf), if not just for the extraordinary people watching and the thrill of the mob mentality, but for the sheer excuse to drink large quantities of cheap beer and eat stadium food. 

If for some godawful reason I must stay home in order to "watch the game" with Chef, which luckily only happens maybe once a year, when his Alma Mata UGA plays UF, I justify this torture by making one of my favorite junk food delights of all time...French Onion Dip. I grew up in a home where professional football was on the television throughout the season. Admittedly, we often cracked open a can of Frito Lay onion dip and a bag of Ruffles and munched out watching grown men tackle, toss, and grope their way to victory or defeat.

The next sentence may be shameful to some, but I will confess.  I had to go online on Tuesday to find out who was playing in the Super Bowl this Sunday.  The Colts, I had a feeling were in, but I had no clue who the hell they were up against.  The Saints.  Uncastrated young horses verses canonized virginal humans. Should be a good game.

Okay, enough sports talk.  Back to the dip. Being that I try to avoid processed foods of any kind, I searched out a fantastic recipe for French onion dip and for the second year in a row I have made it from scratch. Those dark chunks in the picture above are caramelized onions. I am telling you the stuff is unbelievable. Ruffles now makes a preservative free, trans-fat free, artificial flavor free "natural" potato I indulge in a bag or two of the dip friendly snack food.  They are not organic, but they are krinkle cut which is essential in the scooping technique of French onion dip.

This is the perfect game day chip and dip combo. There is no french onion salad dressing mix involved. No ma'am. This is the real deal. I thank Ina Garten for making this junk food into a whole me justification to eat it in massive quantities.  It is a beautiful thing.

French Onion Dip/ Ina Garten:  This dip is worth every last calorie of fat.  Enjoy!

  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise
  1. Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8 thick half-rounds.  (about 3 cups of onion)
  2. Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat
  3. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized
  5. Allow the onions to cool
  6. Place the cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth.
  7. Add the onions and mix well.  
  8. Taste for seasoning and serve at room temperature