February 2010


How about an almond-y twist on French toast? Talk about almond joy! I often make this just for me.

Almond French toast with "meat candy"

ALMOND FRENCH TOAST FOR ONE

1 egg
splash of milk
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon sugar

handful of sliced almonds
2 slices bread (I used a lovely sourdough boule)
butter for toasting
maple syrup

Whisk together egg, milk, almond and sugar; soak bread with egg mixture. Toast in a buttered pan over medium heat till golden brown. Aw, heck, you know what French toast is supposed to look like–kinda like faint tiger-stripes on each deliciously eggy slice (see above!).

Throw the almonds in to warm them up in some of the butter. You can simply sprinkle them over the top of the toast, but getting them buttery beforehand is an even better idea.

Serve with vanilla maple syrup–take a vanilla bean and let it hang out and infuse in your syrup bottle. Mmmmmmmmmmm! I had mine with candied bacon and blame Rick Bayless for wearing his “Bacon is meat candy” t-shirt when I saw him on Mexico: One Plate at a Time yesterday. It’s dangerous to be quite so suggestible…and dammit, I want that t-shirt. 🙂 

http://newsblaze.com/story/20080829153259rocc.nb/topstory.html

CANDIED BACON

Dredge bacon in brown sugar and cook as usual. My favorite way to do it is in the oven on foil (or parchment). Just about 10-12 minutes per side at 350 degrees F will do the trick. IMPORTANT: resist the temptation to blot or rest the bacon on a paper towel no matter how you cook it ’cause it will stick!

It’s winter, I’ve had spring fever since January…and isn’t it amazing how a pound or two can creep up on you when you’re stuck in the house snacking on your Valentine’s candy?! Time for a green lunch.

Why can’t it be just a little sexy? How about a delicious turkey club without the bread? It’s a nice way to make a meal out of a salad and not feel deprived.

turkey club salad = sexy green lunch

I made blue cheese dressing for the first time, by halving a recipe Nancy (Phurstluv) kindly provided on Chowhound, adapted from Fine Cooking. I’ve been wanting to try this since the summer. Here it is, halved, for those of you who are cooking just for you–or for two–as I often do!

BLUE CHEESE DRESSING

½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream (I used Daisy Light)
a few splashes of half-and-half
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
(try Buttermilk Blue from Wisconsin–mmmmm–see link below)
1 clove garlic, run through garlic press
1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
¼  tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Yields 1 cup

Here is the original recipe:
http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/grilled-hearts-romaine-blue-cheese-dressing.aspx

About Buttermilk Blue:
http://www.rothkase.com/blue.html

And now, the salad! A mound of spring mix, topped with grape tomatoes, slices of turkey from the deli, 2 slices of crumbled bacon, sliced cukes, half an avocado, decorated with a few dollops of homemade blue cheese dressing. So I had two cookies after that. Is that wrong? 🙂

Here’s an easy and satisfying dish for a cold day–white chicken chili. I just finished the last bowl yesterday. It’s a hack of a couple of recipes I found on cooks.com. It may not be traditional chili, but I promise you, it’s tasty!

White Chicken Chili - here's how it starts

WHITE CHICKEN CHILI

1.25 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders, cubed OR ground chicken (turkey works, too)
1 can small, white beans, rinsed
1 small onion, diced
1 10-oz. box frozen corn
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup white wine (I use Meridian chardonnay)
2 cups chicken broth (1 can if you don’t have stock)
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon adobo
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 cup sour cream (lowfat is fine)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack)—have extra cheese on hand for serving atop each bowl of chili
cilantro for garnish (optional)
your favorite tortilla chips (mine are Tostitos Organics with yellow corn)
olive oil to coat the bottom of the saucepan

NOTE for heat seekers ONLY: If you want to spice this up, slice a chipotle in adobo. This will set the dish on fire.

Heat olive oil in large pot (one you would use to make spaghetti sauce). Sauté onions.

Add chicken, sprinkled with adobo; cook till chicken is not pink.

Add chicken broth, cumin, white pepper, salt, hot sauce and lime juice. Bring to a boil.
If you’re seeking heat, add the chipotle in adobo here.

Add corn, beans, bell pepper and white wine. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for approximately 30 minutes.

Next add sour cream...

Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and shredded cheese.

Top each bowl with crumbled tortilla chips, a little extra shredded cheese and some fresh cilantro, if you like.

White Chicken Chili is served!

Bet you’ll love it. Let me know if you give it a try.

Well, I guess it’s really pork one way with three different applications, but now that I’ve got your attention…

On Superbowl Sunday, I made country pork ribs for the first time.

Ribs ready to sear, y'hear?

I seasoned the ribs with Penzey’s Barbecue of the Americas and smoked paprika. Then, after somewhat searing both sides, cooked ’em slow and low with one sweet onion and a bottle of beer.

Slow and low, that is the tempo!

I also made a BBQ sauce, using a recipe from Mastering the Grill (Andrew Schloss and David Joachim)  as the jump-off point: Sweet, Hot and Sour BBQ Sauce. It’s ketchup and honey mustard in a 2:1 ratio with brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Tabasco (I used sriracha) and black pepper. Pretty simple, but pretty acidic. I didn’t like the sauce at first, so I added molasses then a little soy sauce to mellow it out. Not to be immodest, but it really was quite tasty with the pork.

So, how to pull off pork three ways? Like this!

Lunch: ribs and peas

Dinner: pulled pork nachos topped with cheddar & bits of jalapeno–
I served brown and red rice cooked in chicken broth on the side

Pulled porkapalooza!

Breakfast: cheesy eggs with pulled pork and sprigs of cilantro rolled up in a warm flour tortilla

Cheesy eggs + pulled pork + tortilla = breakfast

Makes you want to pork out right now, doesn’t it? Admitting it is your first step toward recovery. 🙂 Go for it!

 

Could this be the ultimate CCC?

Hello, gorgeous!

Those were literally the first two words out of my mouth when I removed this batch of chocolate chip cookies from the oven yesterday, followed soon thereafter by two more:  Got milk?

Playing in the kitchen is all about inspiration from a variety of sources. These cookies were inspired by my quest for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie (CCC for short) and fueled by recipes I found while googling:

http://wordstoeatby.blogspot.com/2004/12/best-homemade-chocolate-chip-cookies.html

and

http://notwithoutsalt.com/2009/01/28/the-last-chocolate-chip-cookie/

For whatever reason, as strikingly similar as my recipe was to the links above, my cookies don’t look quite the same. These are pretty much Debbie’s cookies with Ashley’s finishing salt and turbinado twists, minus the rolled dough log. And, quoting Debbie in shorthand, “HFS” indeed!

Purrfection!

I’m blown away by how good they taste, so here are my little nuances:

Use softened, regular (salted) butter.
Do go 50/50 with white/turbinado sugar. Great idea!
Add 1/2 cup of chopped pecans.
I used 1/2 cup of dark chocolate Callebaut chunks and shards. As much of a chocoholic as I am, this is just the right amount of chocolate for me.

Use a generous scoop to make BIG cookies. These beauties were meant to live large.

Ready to roll!

Do add finishing salt to each cookie. I did so at the halfway point of baking (6 minutes).

Halfway to heaven--time to add the finishing salt!

I was thrilled to find the bulk spices counter at Whole Foods. There, you can get just a little bit of something you may need for just one recipe. I’ve always wanted to try finishing salts, anyway, and was able to pick up a little baggie of Australian flake salt for approximately $1.50 (it was just under $30/pound).

Australian flake salt = pretty in pink

One last note–as stunning as these cookies are, they were meant to be shared. Some have already traveled to Manhattan; others are on a longer journey, which brings me to a closing sappy note about friendship.

As I stood in line at the post office minutes before closing time yesterday, realizing I had blasted out of the house without the address for my delivery (seriously?!), I began calling friends fast and furious. Who will answer? Who will research this for me so I can get this package in the mail while the cookies are fresh and before we get clobbered with snow? Let me propose a definition of true friendship right now. A true friend will answer, google, reserve any questions or judgments, and look forward to hearing the details later. I am truly lucky to have not one, but two friends who did just that…and one who left a message. 🙂 Love you guys!

April Katt guards cookies as they cool.