quelle est une doorknob?

the joke is. a girl is like a doorknob. at one point or another in her life, everybody gets a turn at her.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

She almost stole my recipe! Corn, crab and shrimp chowder ...

Oh emm jee Lan, I actually was thinking about making a bacon based vichyssoise for this month's challenge (very unconventional), but decided not to because I really wanted chowder. So I ended up making corn, crab and shrimp chowder, I guess I'm glad I did!!

This is a recipe that has sort of grown over the years, it always comes out different, warm, better, tastier and this time I don't know why but I felt the need to use shrimp instead of clams or white fish. I really just like this recipe because it's full of potatoes and corn, two of my favorite soup ingredients.

(1) can of sweet corn
(2) cans of crab (lump preferred) or those of you in the south, get the fresh stuff!
(4) cups of seafood stock (seasoned and boiled lobster shells + shrimp shells)
(3) cups of light cream (or heavy cream if you so desire)
(6) strips of bacon, cut into small pieces
(4) cloves of garlic, halved not chopped
(1) pound of large shirmp, de-veined and halved
(4) medium-large yukon gold potatoes, cubed
(1) large onion finely chopped
woooorcestershire sauce
tabasco sauce
(2) sprigs of thyme
(1) tbsp Old Bay seasoning
(1) tbsp Salt

In a pot, cook finely cut bacon until almost brown, remove from heat and disgard all but one tablespoon of the bacon fat, set the bacon aside. Put pot back on the burner and add in onions and sautee until transluscent, add bacon back in and sautee for another 2-3 mins, do not burn bacon to a crisp. Season with salt, back pepper. Add in seafood stock and bring to a simmer. While it's coming to temp, peel & cut potatoes into small cubes.

Add in can of corn (with liquid), garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon tabasco and woooorcestershire sauces and bring to a gentle boil. Add in cans of crab with juices, and potatotes and let simmer for 30-40 mins. While soup is simmering, peel, de-vein and halve shrimp. Add in light cream, old bay and shrimp, bring back up to a light simmer for 15 mins. You may need to skim the top of the soup as needed.

Cook up some more bacon and crumble on top, serve with some warm delicious bread on a cold day.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Auriane's Mom's Leek and Potato Soup

this is what my friend Auriane wrote me to inspire me this month:

Hello love,

Well, with your time off, I thought you could use a few cooking inspirations... I think you should create a healthy (maybe even use the Cuisinart to finely grind broccoli and add a bit) leek and potato soup with bacon for your current challenge. Bacon would compliment leek and potato so well, dontcha think? The soup comes out a lovely creamy green, and tastes like heaven. Very soothing, especially in the winter time. Is it cheating to use a recipe? Because my mom has a great one, if you need.



and so that is what i made...

Auriane's Mom's Leek and Potato Soup
copied and pasted from email

2 medium leeks, 2 medium peeled potates in bite size chunks, 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, 4 cups of chicken broth (bouillon cubes broth is fine).

Cut off ends and tough green parts of leek. I just use the white part, with about an inch of the green part. French from the countryside often use the whole leek, and just cook longer, but I think the tough leaves are bitter tasting. Slice leeks sideways to rinse very thoroughly and get out all sand/dirt (this is the only hard part of leek soup). Slice into 1/2 inch rounds, and saute in butter or olive oil over medium heat until the leeks begin to change color slightly (they'll get brighter). Do not brown them! Add the potatoes and saute for another minute or two, stirring. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, cover and cook until potatoes are tender about 15 minutes. You can eat it this way, or put it in a blender or cuisinart to make a delicious cream soup--don't over process. It's yummy to sprinkle with pepper and stir in a big spoon of fresh cream or sour cream in the bowl.

j'adore this soup. it did not come out green tho. i didn't add broccoli and use the greens of the leeks. i actually have a container in the freezer for consumption later this month. and of course, i added some bacon on top.


stay warm out there doorknobs, it's effing cold!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

November theme ...

Fall is upon us, tis the season to waffle in those delicious fall spices and enjoy a warm bowl of soup when coming in from the brisk air.

This month's theme is Soups, bacon required. That's right, your soup must contain bacon someway shape or form.

Due date: December 7th.

Party on peeps!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Breakfast for Dinner

Let me begin by saying...I AM SO FULL. I started this challenge with three "nevers". I've never made homemade pancakes. I've never made hollandaise sauce and I've never had eggs benedict. I accomplished all three tonight.

Matt and I were very pleased with everything this evening. Lucky for us there are plenty of leftovers and I believe I'll be having this again tomorrow night!

Making eggs benedict was much easier than I assumed. Poached eggs are now on the top of my list. I've been watching Food Network for a while now so I had a pretty good idea on the how to's including the splash of vinegar in the water. The hollandaise sauce was simple as well. You just have to keep your eye on it. But who knew that just a couple of ingredients would create such a lovely yellow concoction.

The pancakes were pretty good as well. I kept them in a warmed oven until we were ready to eat so i think that toughened them just a tad. However, the topping I made for it....HEAVEN! It was a stick of softened butter (Paula Dean will love me now), three tablespoons of OJ concentrate and 1/3 cup of honey. Mix well and slather the cakes. I didn't think twice about that bottle of syrup. What's nice is that the butter mixture will go well on my english muffins.

I am pretty worn out b/c I've been up FOREVER and I'm stuffed so I'll pass on detailing the recipes. However, I'd be glad to share should anyone be interested.

Until next time fellow doorknobs keep those buns and ovens HOT!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

banana-chocolate-waffle sandwich

for this month's challenge, i knew i had to make a waffle sandwich. last month i happened to mention to jab about a waffle maker, i could've sworn he had one. as a surprise he bought me one! i was so excited. at first chance, i had to make use of my new kitchen toy.

naturally, i made my roommate sous chef. and we had breakfast for dinner. the poor girl had no idea what to do. i like to think that am helping her ... not only in feeding her but also giving her tips in the kitchen.

the waffles came out well. i am not much of a waffle person but i did enjoy the process of making the batter and using my new maker. i included a side of corned beef hash (crystal's favorite) and topped it with a sunny side up egg (my fave).


it felt like a slightly rushed breakfast/dinner. we were busy eatting but taking turns getting up every so often to check on the waffle maker. we ended up with quite a bit of waffles that i subsequently reheated for breakfast that week. not complaining!

for "dessert" i made my waffle sandwich. sliced bananas and spread of nutella chocolate on both waffles. it was so decadent. everything i thought it was going to be when i first saw its creation.


i thought of making up another batch of waffles, and this time making a savory sandwich, similar to the McGriddle. i probably will when i have more time but for now, the waffle maker is on the kitchen counter, next to the coffee maker. it's still too new of a toy to put away. :)

Start the day off right!

Who doesn't love breakfast?

This month's challenge, I wanted to make a complete breakfast of delicious things I've tried in the past or things I've seen recently that I wanted to put a twist on. On the breakfast/brunch menu:

- Potato galette (not pastry kind)
- Spicy roasted pepper & prosciutto piperade omelette
- Peas and bacon
- Roasted garlic tomatoes

Potato galette:
- [Very] thinly sliced white/yukon gold potato
- Cheddar cheese
- Light cream
- Salt & pepper

In a bake proof frying pan (or bake-ware you can skip the fry part), line the pan with one layer of the potatoes. Sprinkle some salt, pepper and cheddar cheese. Top with another layer of potatoes and repeat. Complete with three layers. Place on stove top and fry on medium heat for about 7-8 mins, this will set the galette. Pour 1/3 cup light creme over top and add a bit more cheddar cheese. Place into 375 oven for 15 mins.

Spicy roasted pepper & prosciutto piperade omelette:
- Thinly sliced onions
- Thinly sliced mushrooms
- Prosciutto
- Roasted red pepper (coarsely chopped)
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- Salt
- Pepper
- 1 clove garlic

A piperade is a sautee mixture of peppers, onions, garlic, and tomatoes. I omitted the tomatoes in my recipe since I was going to be pairing roasted tomatoes. Crack three eggs and whisk with pepper and finely chopped jalapeno & garlic. Quickly saute onions, mushrooms in some olive oil, add in roasted red peppers as onions are almost complete. Add in beaten egg mixture (set burner to med-low). Allow omelette to set for a few minutes and then layer the slices of prosciutto on top of the omelette. Place the pan under a broiler for 3-4 mins.

Peas and bacon:
- 3 slices of bacon
- 1/2 cup sliced onion
- 1 package of frozen (or fresh) peas

Cut bacon into small pieces, and saute until brown. Add in onions and then peas.

Garlic roasted tomatoes:
- Sliced tomatoes
- Crush garlic
- Salt & Pepper
- Olive oil

place sliced tomatoes in a bake-safe dish, top with salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil. Bake for 15 mins at 375.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Most Important Meal of the Day

This month's challenge.......(drum roll).....BREAKFAST/BRUNCH.

Let's go beyond scrambled eggs, bacon, and a burnt muffin. Let decadent ingrediants take over your kitchen. Lan, I realize you just did the caviar/egg dish, but there are other items to choose from. It can be one item or a complete meal....whatever you have time for. I think these days we're all pretty slammed with things to do.

I chose breakfast/brunch b/c it's my favorite meal. Sometimes I have breakfast items for dinner.

Good luck knobs!

Deadline: Nov 2

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hello Autumn!!

Monday marked the first official day of Fall. Much to Lan's dismay this means crisp air, falling leaves, and football. But it also means soup! One of my favorite places to get a quick bowl of soup is McAlister's Deli. It's your average sandwich/salad, etc chain place, but they're not too bad! My friend Sallee and I looove to get the soup on a chilly day and have it served in a breadbowl. So, that's what I've chosen for this month's challenge: broccoli cheddar soup in a breadbowl. Naturally, the day I chose to make the soup it was 80 degrees.
Ingredient list:
1 bag frozen broccoli
3 or so cups of vegetable stock
2 cloves of garlic
1 sm yellow onion
salt and pepper
dash of nutmeg
sprinkle of thyme leaves
shredded cheddar cheese
couple pats of butter
round loaf of bread
The onion and garlic were chopped and dropped into a large stock pot with melted butter. I sauteed those for about 10 minutes. The onions and garlic were pushed to the side while I made a roux in the pot with butter and flour. after that cooked for a sec i mixed the onions in and then added the veggie stock. i let that simmer for a bit until it thickened. add stock as you see necessary. i like my soup thicker so i didn't add too much more. after the mixture thickened i added the broccoli, thyme and nutmet and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Why 30 minutes? i don't know. Just sounded good. Afterwards I transferred the mixture into the food processor to blend until smooth. Put it back in the pan, add about a 1/2 cup of milk, cream, whatever. I used half and half to save a few calories (plus i can use that for my mix drinks later on). Throw in some cheddar cheese and stir until it melts.
I took the round bread loaf and hollowed it out saving the torn bread for dunking. Ladle the soup and enjoy!
Until next time fellow doorknobs, keep those buns and ovens hot!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bringing my favorites home ...

I've been insanely busy lately and when I get insanely busy, I always end up at my local favorite stand-by. Papa Razzi. Papa Razzi is part of a group of Boston restaurants run by the Back Bay Restaurant Group that includes italian, seafood, american bistro, steak, and (my most favorite after Papa Razzi) french bistro.

I've tried a number of things on the menu and have thoroughly enjoyed them all but my favorite meal typically begins with a caprese salad, followed up by mozzarella fritta, completed by penne con pollo.

For this month's challenge, I decided to recreate those dishes, nix the caprese (fresh mozzarella + heirloom tomatoes + basil)

Mozzarella fritta:

  • fresh mozzarella, sliced and patted to remove excess water
  • flour
  • eggs
  • milk
  • panko bread crumbs
  • parmesan cheese
  • salt, pepper
  • olive oil (or canola for frying)

Create a dredging station, first dredging plate should be flour, second should be (1) large egg + small bit of milk whisked, third plate should be panko breadcrumbs combined with 1/3 cup parmesan cheese + salt + pepper.

Dredge the sliced mozzarella and then bring (1) cup of oil to temperature. Fry on medium high heat until golden brown. I typically serve with some marinara sauce (always have some in the fridge) and maybe some fresh basil.

I also made penne con pollo. This is a delicious, simple recipe of penne (or ziti) sauteed with juicy delicious chicken, asparagus, plum tomatoes, garlic white wine & butter sauce.

Penne con pollo:
  • 1-lb chicken breast (or tenders)
  • Asparagus
  • (4) plum tomatoes
  • (3) cloves garlic, sliced
  • Penne or ziti
  • Salt + pepper
  • Crushed dried red pepper
  • (3) tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp paprika

Cut chicken into 1" pieces, combine with some olive oil, pepper, paprika. Boil ziti/penne. In a saute pan, saute the pieces of chicken until seared/slightly brown. Add in garlic and saute for one-minute. Add in cut asparagus, tomatoes and continue to saute for 2 minutes. Add in wine, butter, salt + pepper. Tomatoes will break down, sauce will thicken, add in sprinkle of dried red pepper before serving.

I'm glad I took the time to participate this month given my insane schedule, the dishes turned out terrific and it was mentally relaxing.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

my take on a My Thai appetizer

i remember as a child thinking it was rather normal for peter or my mother to go out to the garage and do the frying out there. the times that they had to do quick stir fries in the house, it was also very normal for one of them to yell out for me to haul ass upstairs to shut all the bedroom doors to keep the food fumes out. i found myself doing the same thing today. the hauling ass to shut all the bedroom doors. also, this month's challenge taught me a lesson. it taught me that i am not a fryer. the splatter of the oil and working fast bit, not fun. however, the end product was worth it.


my thai is a thai/sushi restaurant in mt. vernon. i've been there a number of times. and each time i've had their Crispy Green Beans. sometimes i think about it. i think about how crispy and hot that first bite is. i also think about the fact that the green beans are always still green and moist on the inside, but the outter layer is golden brown. and from the moment i tasted this appetizer i knew i had to re-create it.

and that is why i made it this month's theme.

My My Thai Crispy Green Beans
green beans, probably 1/2 lb
tempura batter, follow package instructions
oil for deep frying
2 tbls oyster sauce
1/2 tsp garlic chili

deep fry the green beans til golden brown, it's ok if they stick together. be sure to place on towels to drain excess oil. (i kept it warm in the oven while i finished off the batch.) once all fried up and dried up, place in serving dish, drizzle with the oyster sauce and chili. how simple is that? how incredibly awful for your hips is that???


with a dish like this, doorknobbin is a tad bit more challenging but i'm totally up for it! :)

Happy Doorknobbin' Hookers!

Friday, August 29, 2008

September : Restaurant Month

this month's theme challenge is inspired by my subscription to Bon Appétit. actually, i don't subscribe anymore. i wish i could but i end up with piles of all these mags, doggy earred pages and they take up too much space. plus, with the plethora of online food bloggers/community, why pay? however, i am a tad bit burned out with the world wide web and i'd like to scale it back. to the point of unless i'm part of an blogging event that requires me to use an online recipe, for the month of September i will only be using recipes from cookbooks, magazines or what grandma tells me. i encourage you to do the same.

having said that, there's a section in Bon Appétit where readers can ask the magazine for recipes of dishes from their fave restaurants. that got me thinking. there are plenty of dishes i've had at random restaurants that i'd love to recreate at home. and so this month's theme: a dish (or two or three) from whatever restaurant(s), remake it at home. Be sure to include where the dish(es) came from!

Deadline: September 28th.

Til then, Happy Doorknobbin Bitches!

Sizzlin' in August

Matt and I love to grill during the warmer months so I was pretty excited when this challenge was announced. We have a charcoal grill so things usually take a little longer for us. That's ok though. It gives us time to chill outside, drink cold beer and watch Elvis chase the birds.

I originally started out doing Steak Quesadillas with an avocado salsa. What I ended up with was a very large steak burrito instead.

First things first: light the grill. Apparently I got the wrong kind of charcoal so it took Matt a sec to get it going, but he succeeded.

Actually lighting the grill was second. I started out by marinating a big steak. I got a large plastic bag and filled it with the following: lime juice, cayenne pepper, garlic chunks, cumin, and chili powder. I covered the steak well in those ingredients and let it sit for about 2 hours. While it marinated I made the av-tomato salsa.

I simply cut up a few roma tomatoes and a large avocado (maybe two i can't remember). i mixed in fresh cilantro, garlic, lime juice, s&p. fresh and delish. (good job on yours lan!!)

Next came the veggies. I cut up onion and green pepper, made a tin foil pouch to place them in, added s&p, a little EVOO, and set them on the grill to cook until tender.

Time for the steak to hit the heat:

And now for the tortillas.....they don't need to be on the grill for too long. Just long enough to get a few char marks and get toasty.
I sliced the steak into long strips and we piled the meat, veggies, sour cream, and salsa into our tortillas. I really enjoyed this dish. Matt REALLY enjoyed the dish. In his opinion the marinade made all the difference in the world...it had a nice heat w/out being too hot to eat. It was extremely tender as well.
Until next time, fellow doorknobs, keep those buns and oven hot!

Monday, August 25, 2008

tex-mex burger

i have to say i am not a fan of mexican food. i'm just not. i could use a taco or some nachos every once in awhile but yeah. it's not my favorite cuisine. whatevs. this month i made two mexican/latino inspired dishes. i think i've hit my quota for the year.

i remembered an episode of Simply Delicioso: Ingrid Hoffman where she made latin burgers. i decided to make burgers but used ground chicken and seasoned the meat with taco seasoning. you can either grill or pan-fry the burgers. to be on the safe side, i cooked these burgers very well done, just cus they were chicken. i did use the idea of caramelized onions on top. next, rather than the extra carbs of hamburger buns, i used a slice of texas toast. along with the onions, i topped the burgers with sliced avocados and drizzled the entire pile with salsa. for a side, i made a cucumber, tomato and avocado salad with cilantro dressing. the entire thing, surprisingly, was delicious.

avoc. tom salad

Cucumber, Tomato, & Avocado Salad with Cilantro Dressing
cut up the cukes, tomatos and avocados into small bite size pieces. put in bowl, season with salt and pepper. for the dressing, chop up cilantro and mix in olive oil and red wine vinegar. mix it all together.

tex mex burger

happy doorknobin!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pork, the other white meats.

Pork is delicious, pork is very delicious when it's cooked low and slow. The smell should stick to the insides of your nostrils as the sweet brown sugar and spices waffles from your grill into your house. Pulled pork BBQ tacos with homemade salsa, cucumber salad and spicy black beans. As a snack, I also made jalapeno corn bread muffin pork sandwiches. Sorry, if there's a few different pieces to this entry, I was hungry.

Slow roasted pork butt:

  • Pork butt (or pork shoulder)
  • Dry rub (brown sugar, garlic powder, black pepper, red pepper flakes, paprika, onion salt, parsley flakes, chili powder, mustard powder) ... proportions to preference - about 2tbsp each except brown sugar, use 4tbsp.
Dry rub the pork butt the night or day before. Place in a ziploc bag and refrigerate overnight. Take out of fridge and let come to room temp, about 30 mins. Place on a medium-hot grill and sear both sides, 2-3mins each side. Place on far side of grill, indirect heat (maintain grill temp between 200-225 degrees) and cook for 5-6 hours. Alternatively if you don't want to maintain a grill for that long, you can place into an oven at 200 degrees for 6 hours, covered. Buy or make your favorite BBQ sauce (for later)

First on the menu my jalapeno corn bread pork snackers:
  • Cornbread (1c cornmeal, 1/2c flour, 1tbsp sugar, 1tsp baking powder, 1tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 2 eggs, 1c buttermilk, a couple of finely chopped jalapeno's/habanero's)
  • Bake at 400 degree for 12-15 mins, until golden brown, let cool
  • Slice in half, top with pulled pork (place hunk of pork in a bowl, add in a heaping tablespoon of BBQ sauce, pull)
  • Eat.

For my dish, I decided to combine my enjoyment of BBQ foods and mexican foods ...

For homemade salsa, use a 3-2-1 recipe:
  • 3-parts tomatoes, 2-parts jalapenos, 1-part onion, +cilantro, +pinch of salt
  • I actually use about 10-12 roma tomatoes, 6-8 jalapeños + 1 habanero, 1/2 bunch of cilantro, half a large yellow/vidalia onion, salt, small squeeze of lime
  • Put through mini-chopper, combine
  • Eat (with chips if you like).
Hot spicy black beans:
  • 1/2 Finely chopped onion
  • 1 finely chopped jalapeno
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 can black beans
  • Sautee first (5) ingredients, add in beans and water, simmer on low until most of water has evaporated
  • Eat.
Cucumber salad:
  • Thinly sliced cucumber
  • Thinly sliced daikon radish
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 habanero's
  • 2 jalapeno's
  • 1 big mason jar
  • Bring water to boil, add in vinegar and sugar, turn off heat and allow sugar to dissolve
  • Put sliced cucumbers and radish into jar in addition to rough slices jalapeno and habanero along with a few peppercorns, pour vinegar mixture into jar
  • Place in fridge for 5 days.
  • Eat.
Finished product, pork in flour tortilla's topped with salsa, cucumbers, and beans:

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ready, set, GRILL!

Ok ... August is winding down the summer, although you folks in the south seem to have extended summers August is unofficially the last month of summer, well that's how I think of it because I used to have to go back to school in September.

I love mexican food. I love grilling and BBQ. August challenge is tex-mex-grill (that is, make something tex-mex and add in the element of grilling part or all of it)

We all know mexican food typically consist of 6 ingredients assembled in one of 14 ways, but I am sure we all can come up with a few new nuances to your standard Mexican plate.

Deadline is August 31st. Viva la revolucion!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

HI-YA!! Battle Meatloaf!

Well, isn't this coincidental. I started cooking tonight, without checking in on the site and low and behold, Kelcy beat me to the punch line. It's ok - we all have our favorites and sometimes they coincide, meatloaf is just warm comfortable food. I'm not sure why I like meatloaf so much, I think it has to do with the fact that my parents always made me Nem Nuong when I was a kid, I consider it a bit of a Vietnamese derivative of American meatloaf, except the consumption medium is slightly different with rice paper and trimmings. When I went away to college, I missed Nem Nuoung and at the time, I happen to find a new love for American meatloaf. It's since stuck. Whether it's frigidly cold up here in Boston or the warmth of the summer heat, I'll still enjoy it. I use a relatively standard recipe as follows:

  • 1 green (or red) bell pepper finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion (sweet vidalia) finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic

Take the above three ingredients and I like to run it through a mini food chopper/processor instead of hand chopping for a fine chop. Take the ingredients and gently saute them in a pan with olive oil on medium/low heat until a fair amount of the moisture is cooked off. This should take about 7-10 mins. Let cool while combining the following ingredients in a bowl:
  • 1lb of ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs (or half and half plain and italian)
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp crushed red pepper

Mix the above ingredients along with the saute mixture into a bowl, thoroughly combine/mix (using your hands are best). At this point you can place into a loaf pan, but I prefer to just form a loaf on a baking sheet, bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 mins. About 30-40 mins into the cooking process, top the meatloaf with the red sauce below.

While meatloaf is cooking, make a simple chunky red sauce with:
  • 1 large can whole tomatoes
  • 1 large vidalia onion very roughly chopped
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • water
  • salt
  • pepper
  • sugar
Take onions and saute in olive oil for a few mins, until slightly cooked, while they are cooking, open can of whole tomatoes and rough chop into chunks. Add chopped tomatos to sauteed onions in addition to tomato paste and garlic cloves. Add 1.5 cups of water. Salt, pepper, and about 1 tbsp of sugar to taste. The sauce should be simple and fast to make as well as chunky and delicious.

When the meatloaf is done, I sometimes serve it up with a side of gamelli or cellentani with tomato sauce topped and a simple spinach and tomato side salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

What REALLY makes my day isn't the above plate, I just make the meatloaf as an excuse to really have meatloaf ... the day after - and how I really enjoy a good meats-loafs. Get a chewy/crusty loaf of italian bread, lightly butter one side and place into a fry-pan. Next place a few slices of pepper-jack cheese (yes, that hot spicey jacky-stuff), a slice of meatloaf a dollop of tomato sauce, a few basil leaves, another few slices of cheese and the other slice of bread. Lightly fry 3-4 each side, cheese will be gooey, and I enjoy with a side of sauce to dip in. Ok, I'll admit it's not the most calorie conscious sandwich, but make one and you'll understand.

This ain't your momma's meatloaf

One meal that always fills my belly is meatloaf with mashed potatoes. now, the thought of packing meat into a loaf pan is just....weird. it doesn't seem right. and sometimes it's weird to me that i even dig this meal so much due to growing up a vegetarian. even know i eat minimal meat. anyway, so that is my comfort meal. my go to dinner when i want to eat something hearty. however, now that i'm kicking 30 up the wahoo and constantly watching the scales (except for bakery tour days) i don't make it the old fashioned way with beef and potatoes and all the good stuff. instead i've taken the lighter route.

instead of beef i used ground turkey. here's what i added to the meat for some extra flavor:
-crimini mushrooms
-1/2 onion
-red pepper flakes
-sea salt and pepper
-handful of bread crumbs

i always put a glaze on top. there is no recipe for it. i throw ketchup, brown sugar, and worcestershire into a bowl and mix. i taste and add what i feel is necessary. sometimes i add spices, but tonight i kept it at these three ingredients.

i put the meat mixture in the pan, topped it with the glaze, covered with foil and baked @ 350 for 35 minutes. i don't know where i got 35 minutes but it seems good. once it's cooked i take off the foil and put it back in the oven with the heat off just to brown the top a bit.

ok, so on to the mashed potatoes. i do love a tater. but i needed something tonight that wouldn't stick to my gut for the next 2 days. my twist is to use cauliflower. here's what i did:

-steamed 1 head of cauliflower
-heated a little 1/2 and 1/2 with butter in a pan
-once the cauliflower is cooked, i put it in my mixer and added the butter/cream mixture.

true, they're not JUST LIKE mashed tates, but omg, i love it. add some sea salt with pepper and that's good eats.

i needed a vegetable so i did something that Lan actually taught me....the avocado salad. i changed it up a bit from what she showed me waaaay back in the day. i chopped an avocado and a yellow tomato. i added some grey salt, pepper, lemon juice and touch of extra light evoo. delish.

so while it's not your traditional meatloaf comfort meal, it's certainly delicious and better for you. matt even went in for a second helping.


i had to add my hot cocoa drink to this even though it's probably the most simple things. however, this is the drink i adore. when it's cold out it warms my bones. i don't make it so much in the summer b/c it's sweltering out, but tonight i did just for you guys! i'm not sure what makes it so special to me except that it could be what relaxes me so well....especially when i'm snuggled under an electric blanket.

tres simple recipe. i add milk to a small saucepan (medium low heat please!), 2 tb of unsweetened cocoa, 2 tb of sugar (or add more if you like it sweeter). mix that up, heat it through. meanwhile, add a hefty shot of Irish Cream to your mug. and by hefty i do mean 1/4 of the way up. ok, not that much, but make sure you can taste it. add the chocolately mixture to the mug once heated through and enjoy. i don't add whip cream or anything like that usually. a little too much in my opinion.

so that's it. i'm stuffed, but feeling good and i believe i'm ready to snuggle in and get some sleep. until we meet again fellow doorknobs, keep those buns and ovens hot!

ode to my grandparents

so big k's theme for the month had me slightly stumped. there are so many different foods that warm my soul. so i decided to pull up memories of some pretty important people in my life. i was raised by my paternal grandparents until i was about 10 or 11. they are a comfort to my soul. it is because of grandpa that i love swiss cheese, mama celeste pizza, and sour apple jolly ranchers. it is because of grandma that i love spicey food, pâté, wonton soup, and phở . i remember weekend mornings having breakfast with them. grandma would warm up a mug of milk for me, and grandpa would sneak a spoonful of sugar in. there'd be sliced oranges or ritz crackers to munch on. as i got older, grandpa would take me to pastry shops and always, always, always he would get me a napoleon. i would sit at the table and happily eat my pastry while he sipped his coffee and smoked his cigarette. grandma was no slouch. she made cream puffs for me. that stuff was so good! i was called bánh bèo face for a good reason.

so i decided to make a hybrid of both pastries. i'd make the body of the cream puff but use the napoleon cream and icing. that's my twist.

the batter was a bitch to stir. this was before i added eggs. i just hate babysitting at the stove, it's not my favorite.

once the eggs were fully incorporated in the batter, it became slightly too pliable for my liking. the whole piling it high up etc is a crock. don't sweat it.

the first batch, i followed the recipe to a T. i reduced temp, turned oven off, ignored the puffs and they came out hard. they smelled good tho, exactly like how i remember them to smell.

the second batch came out much better, i ix-nayed the whole 20 minute wait in the turned off oven. eff that.

the Napoleon cream filling came out well, taste wise. but in retrospect, i should've done a cream puff filling. the napoleon cream filling is to be spread between layers. whatever, it still tasted good.
verdict: a lot of work that really, helped me keep my mind off random drama. i'll definitely make these pastries again, just not combined. my new roommate Crystal was tastetester and she had 3!

For the Cream Puffs, i used this recipe.
For the Cream Filling and icing, i used this recipe.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Challenge: Soul Food

By soul food I do not mean collards, fried chicken, and grape soda. Show us your comfort foods, what makes you feel better after a rough day, but give it a unique twist.

Deadline: July 31

Good luck fellow knobs!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bringing the yellows of summer.

So, I started thinking about this challenge a few weeks ago and earlier this week (sorry for the delayed post, but it's still on the deadline!) and came up with a plethora of ideas for Yellow recipes ... alas I decided on one that would help ring in the warm weather and tastes of summer.

I decided to make Chilled Yellow Tomatoe Soup with Garlic Brioche and Grilled Shrimp. It's quite easy, as long as you've got all the ingredients prep'd ahead of time.

First, make a simple cilantro vinaigrette (pepper, honey, mustard, oil, white vinegar, cilantro) and marinate the shrimp, set aside.

While the shrimp are marinating, grill up some corn, follow Kelcy's recipe below, or just as simple, take some ears of corn, wrap in foil and throw on the grill for 15 mins, remember to turn.

You can set the corn aside as you prep the rest of the dish. Take (3) medium (to large) yellow tomatoes along with (3 or 1.5 regular cukes) pickling cukes (peel and remove all seeds of the cukes) and place into a blender, cut cukes and tomatoes into small pieces to make the blending process easier. To this blended mixture, you will add: 1.5 tbsp white vinegar, 1 tbsp garlic chili sauce, 2 tsp worcestershire sauce, 2 tsp salt, cracked black pepper. Blend to combine.

Take a piece of crusty bread (rustic italian, sourdough, etc) and make a garlic brioche by sprinkling some olive oil, garlic powder, pepper, & paprika and then grilling/toasting under a broiler.

Take the marinated shrimp and grill for 1-min on each side.

To complete the assembly, ladle the tomato puree into a soup bowl, place the brioche in the center, top with grilled shrimp and corn and garnish with finely chopped cilantro, jalapeno, and a small amount of red-tomato.

Challenge Yellow

I chose to do three items for our first showdown. I did this b/c my items were very simple so I had the time.

The first is corn on the cob. Easy? Yes. However, my method of cooking the cob was not the traditional boiling pot of water. I cooked my ears on the grill. We were already grilling out so I thought, what the heck? To do this you simply peel back (but not off) the husks, remove the silt and soak the corn for about thirty minutes in water. This helps to steam and prevent the ears from burning. Pull the husks around the corn tightly. Put them on the grill for about 30 minutes and you're done. No aluminum foil needed.

To add a kick I softened one stick of butter and added two crushed cloves of garlic and a hunk of gorgonzola cheese. I loved it, however, I think Matt could have done without the gorgonzola part in the butter.

My next item was lemonade. Again, easy. I did not use a powder mix. Mine was fresh squeezed. I started with simple syrup of one cup of water and one cup of sugar. It was a tad sweet so I would suggest using a smaller amount of sugar. I juiced 5 large lemons through a sieve (b/c I hate pulp), added the simple syrup, and 4 cups of water. omg. SO good! Just for giggles, I added a shot of Southern Comfort to our glasses. You have an instant Soco-laide. It takes a little bit of time to squeeze the lemons, but it's sooo worth it.

Last but not least....dessert. I chose a panna cotta recipe that Lan and I did before and altered the ingredients. Espresso Panna Cotta

Instead of the espresso I went with a vanilla flavor dish with lemon whipped topping. For the whipped topping I added lemon zest and a bit of the juice along with a little bit of sugar. Delicious!

This was a fun challenge. Although I went tres simple I thoroughly enjoyed my dishes. Until we meet again, fellow doorknobs, keep those buns and ovens hot!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Angry Asian's Yellow Fever

i made two dishes. because i felt like it.

the first dish was polenta. i'd never made it before, nor had i ever tasted it so i figured i'd learn something in the process. furthermore, i knew it was a soft food which we all know i'm a big fan of right now due to the grill.

i used instant polenta mix, just followed the package directions, only i added a cup of heavy cream to thicken the mixture a bit and make it smoother. i quickly spread the polenta onto a greased rimmed baking dish, evenly distributing it. then i set it aside to cool. i had a few items in the fridge i wanted to get rid of. i made a simple roasted red pepper jam, basil pesto chicken salad and regular chicken salad. once the polenta was cool enough to handle, i used a flower cookie cutter to shape little appetizer sized portions and added a dollop of whatever topping on top. it tasted ok, i don't have anything to compare it to but i thought it was pretty to look at.

the second dish was citrus semifreddo that i saw Giada make on her show Everyday Italian. Naturally, i had to change a few things in the recipe. rather than using amaretti cookies, i used molasses cookies (i'd never even heard of amaretti cookies and i couldn't find it in any of the stores i went to.) plus, i like molasses cookies. i also did not use limoncello, rather i used a mojito mix.

it came out ok. it melted the instant i took it out of the freezer so i had to move fast. jab taste tested it first, he said it was very lemon-y. he liked it but i know it's definitely not something he would normally eat. he said it reminded him of sorbet. he really liked the molasses topping.

i thought it was a nice snack to have, it's been hot all week. it's creamier than sorbet, a tad bit citrus-y. my roommate tasted it too, and noted the topping. (take that Amaretti cookies!) i don't think i'll be doing this recipe again, i did come across a mocha semifreddo that i'd like to give a whirl. i wish it didn't melt so quickly cus i'd take the rest of what i have leftover into work for my coworkers to devour. now i gotta eat it.

Citrus Semifreddo:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 ounces purchased amaretti cookies crushed (about 20 small cookies) plus more for sprinkling
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons limoncello
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 lemon, zested 1 lime, zested
  • 1 cup whipping cream

Spray a 9 by 5 by 3-inch metal loaf pan with nonstick spray. Line the pan with plastic wrap, allowing the excess to hang over the ends and sides. Combine the crushed amaretti cookies and the melted butter. Put in the lined pan and press down to firm and form a crust.

Whisk 1/2 cup of the sugar, the egg yolks, lemon juice, lime juice, limoncello, and salt in a large metal bowl to blend. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water). Whisk the egg mixture until it is thick and creamy, and a thermometer inserted into the mixture registers 160 degrees F, about 5 minutes. Set the bowl of custard into another bowl of ice water to cool completely. Stir in the zest.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in another large bowl until firm peaks form. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the custard. Spoon the mixture onto the prepared crust. Fold the overhanging plastic wrap over the custard and freeze until frozen, at least 8 hours or up to 3 days.

Unfold the plastic wrap. Invert the semifreddo onto a platter and peel off the plastic wrap. Cut the semifreddo into 1-inch slices and sprinkle with crushed amaretti cookies and serve.

recipe courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis.

Happy Kitchen Doorknobbin'!