Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Look. Here's a peach I messed with. Not great. Not awful, but not great either.
I spent the afternoon making soups for the week. I have a carrot-cumin, asparagus-thyme, tomato-basil, and cold cucumber put up for our lunches and dinners. Of course, when you cook, you also spend an inordinate amount of time washing dishes, wiping counters, peeling things, and cleaning the sink. (sigh). There was no point to that. I just needed to whine a second. Thanks for your indulgence.
Sometimes when you menu plan, if you are going to try something new, you get to the grocery and find that they don't have what you need. Such was the case yesterday with the fish we'd picked. That's when you grab something else and make the best of it. So what was going to be Striped Bass something or other, turned into Grilled Flounder with Parmesan.
Grilled Flounder with Parmesan
Green Beans with Lemon Vinaigrette and Parmesan Bread Crumbs
Potato Rosti, which is supposed to have an umlaut over the o, but I can't find it on this blog tool.
I have GOT to work on better lighting. Isn't that awful? It's so bad I'm actually doing research on the interwebs. I know, right!?
But lighting aside, you look at this picture and "Hey!", you say, "That looks like hash browns!" Well, they're not. They're much fancier, because instead of being called "hash browns", they're called something Danish or German or Swiss with an umlaut. Well, it would have one, if I could find it. (Shall I state the obvious, that this is my hobby, not my profession?)
The flounder was put on the grill on a foil-lined pan and a mixture of (nonfat) mayo, worcestershire sauce, anchovy paste, parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice spread on top. (Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Yes, it's kind of like Ceasar dressing). Phillip loved it. He kept saying it tasted like crab. (That's a high compliment since we both love crab.)
The green beans were very simple - toasted bread crumbs mixed with a little parmesan cheese and lemon zest were sprinkled over green beans that were cooked in salted water, drained, then tossed with lemon juice, a little sugar, salt, pepper and olive oil.
Now if I could get the blasted lighting to work out as well as dinner, I'd be in business.
Friday, September 25, 2009
I do love MasterCook, but it isn't the prettiest software in the world. I guess for twenty bucks, they didn't feel like spending much time on aesthetics. On my meal plan there in the middle, I can insert recipes from my cookbook, most of which I've imported off the web. Thank goodness most cooking magazines have their recipes on the web site. I still love to browse through the hard copy, and that's how I select the recipes I want to try, but then I can go to the computer, pull it up on their site, and quickly import it into my cookbooks. (yes, complete with the source). That keeps me from having to hand-type it in, let's me also import a picture of the dish, and allows me to recycle the magazines when I'm finished with them.
Here's my own personal procedure:
- Get a cooking magazine (let's say Bon Appetit for a change, since I use Fine Cooking as my example most of the time) out of the mailbox.
- Jump up and down, clap hands and go "yaaaay!"
- Put it on the coffee table, look at it longingly, and go back to work.
- Finish work, pour myself a glass of wine, sit down and read it cover to cover, turning down the pages of the dishes I want to try.
- Put the magazine on my desk.
- When I have 30 minutes or so, open the pages to the ones I've turned down, go to the web site, search for those, and import them into Master Cook. I have these separated into "To Try" cookbooks. Like "To Try - Main Course". I don't put anything in my permanent cookbooks that I have not tried and want to cook again.
- Recycle the magazine.
- Sit down at my desk. (Oh, all right, I'm usually there anyway.)
- Pull up Master Cook.
- Browse through my "to try" cookbooks and insert recipes I want to do that week into the meal plan. I have mine divided into courses so I can pick a salad and a main course, or a salad for dinner, or soup, or whatever.
- When I'm finished with the meal plan (about 30 minutes), I click the tools menu and export all the ingridents of all the recipes to the shopping list.
- View the shopping list and check the items I don't already have.
Go to my Pantry, which I set up when I first got the software - it has things I like to keep on hand all the time, like peanut butter and seltzer and milk - and select the items I need from the grocery. Then I click another button and add those to the shopping list.
- The shopping list puts everthing in order by section of the grocery. I dink with it a little, to suit the way I shop, then save it.
When it's time to go, I print it out and walk out the door. (The list it prints has handy little checkboxes next to it.)I didn't always have software, of course. My old-fashioned way of doing it was to fold a piece of paper lengthwise, and write the days of the week on one side, then write headings for the sections of the grocery on the other side. I'd jot down the recipes straight out of the cooking magazine or cookbook and make the grocery list as I went. This was honestly probably faster than my current procedure, but it limited me to the current issue, and if I wanted to cook something again, I had to go dig it out and magazines take up too much storage space.
The amount of time this takes me really is about 30 minutes, not counting the initial browsing and importing time. Now we have a week of meals planned and I don't have to think "what am I going to cook" at 6:00. I just look at the list and pick something. And I know I have all the ingredients in the kitchen, waiting to go.
This week, I've also planned to make another lot of vegetable soups. Phillip and I have both missed having them in the fridge, ready to eat for lunches. I'm going to make some that are good hot, too, since it's "pretend fall". I get to play in the kitchen! Yay! I'll keep you posted.
For being pretty low on groceries, it's not a bad lunch. And it's got lots of vegetables. Go, me! I reheated the veggies with some of the chicken, and put it warm over green leaf lettuce with a little homemade lowfat ranch dressing. I'm working on the menus for the upcoming week on my lunch break and will post about that later.
Happy lunch hour, everybody!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The reason I put this question out there in the first place is because of my cooking magazines. The ideal is to cook the "European" way - go to the market, see what's fresh and appealing, skip home with your basket and make a delicious meal out of it. That's the dream. Let's look at it a minute. Isn't it pretty? Ahhhh...
OK. Time to wake up. Let's look at reality square in the face. Well, at any rate, MY reality, and the reality of the friends I've talked to.
First of all, none of us (meaning the peeps I asked) live in big cities. Or Europe. We live in towns with sprawling suburbia, where the nearest supermarket is a 10 minute drive, for the most part. Ten minutes doesn't seem like all that much, but when you double it (for driving there AND home) and then add in the time it takes to get out of the car and go in there and buy your stuff, you're talking 30 - 40 minutes. When you tack that on to every single day, it's a significant time chunk that personally, I'd rather spend doing something else. If it was a fresh European market, I'd happily spend 30 minutes a day wandering through there. But the Teeter... not so much.Then there's the "fresh" factor. I wouldn't exactly call the food in supermarkets "fresh". At least not open-air market fresh. The stack of Braeburn apples they're restocking with on Monday came in a big ol' shipment last Thursday that left the processor in a truck three days before that. It's being kept in the back in a refrigerated area. So "fresh" is relative there. If you go in Tuesday, you're getting the same batch of apples you got the day before, the day before that, and three days before that. Perhaps I exaggerate, but you get the point. Shopping daily at the supermarket does not get you meals that are any fresher than going once a week, for the most part.
Of course, there are an increasing number of Farmer's Markets, and I love 'em. But ours is downtown, and once a week - on Saturday mornings. For my friends who live farther out, and have little kids, forget it. We're fortunate that it's convenient for us, since we live close to downtown. But there again, I go and buy a bunch of stuff and use it through the week. By Thursday, it's certainly not new anymore. Newer than the supermarket fare, yes, but not all shiny.
So to make the best of a situation that isn't ideal (by cooking magazine and chef standards), I try to plan a week of menus. When I take the time (and it DOES take some time), we eat better, and there's less waste. I try new things, and we don't wind up with a variation of the same old last-minute meals. You know what I'm talking about. "Crap. It's 6:00, and I haven't started dinner. Hmm... I guess I can roast some potatoes, and cook some chicken." We eat healthier, too. As I've mentioned time and again, vegetables are my nemesis, and I either cook them in ways that get left on the plate (see yesterday's entry), or don't have any to cook in the first place because I didn't plan and it's Thursday and we're out of everything except frozen blackeyed peas.
MasterCook makes this tons easier for me. It lets me browse my cookbooks for things I've stuck in there that I want to try, assemble a week of menus, then export a shopping list for it. I can go in and edit the shopping list for the location of the items, too. It automatically puts a grocery store location for standard items, and I can change that to "Farmer's Market" or "Costco", for example, which lets me then organize the list as I go place to place.
So this morning, I have a Salad and Soup cookbooks sitting on my desk, and at some point this evening, I will sit down and plan this week's menus. I've already decided that since it's a free weekend, I'll be playing Domestic Goddess. I'm going to cook a bunch of vegetable soups (I have a chicken thawing now to roast for dinner tonight and will make the remains into stock tomorrow), and we're going to try some new salads this week. Saturday morning will be Farmer's Market and grocery - oop - actually I bet we wind up going to the grocery tomorrow. Someone is out of bananas for his breakfast smoothies. (He hasn't discovered that yet. I'm expecting some swearing from the kitchen shortly.)
So stay tuned and tomorrow we'll do some menu planning together!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Me: And you can't have it.
Monday, September 21, 2009
There were no amazing culinary adventures over the camping trip. We brought some leftover chicken and tomato stew and heated that over the camp stove for dinner. For breakfast, the most important thing is coffee.
When we got home, I made a shower my first priority. I'm really not a big fan of sand, and don't like having it stuck all over me. Once I got cleaned up, and we got some lunch, we spent the remainder of the afternoon cleaning up all the camping gear and putting things away. When dinner time rolled around, I was seriously ready for a big glass of wine and something that I could simmer for a while so I could upload pictures (like this one) and relax for a bit.
So turkey bolognese it was. I chopped some carrots and added them to the bolognese to get some more veggies in there. We had that and a salad, and a nice red wine, and debriefed about the trip. We talked some about our camp food experience at dinner. Ziploc bags simply will not keep water out when you're kayaking. So I had packed a lot of our food in clamp-top plastic containers. They were bulky, and of course didn't keep the food from knocking around inside there so that some things were a real mess. Obviously, when you're kayak camping, space is at a premium.
For camping, this is what you have to work with.
You have to get all your gear and food...
...into this. And I'm not talking about the big middle part. That's where I go. We had Ps kayak too, but it's still not a lot of space.
Ice and big coolers are out. We have four soft coolers, and the amount of ice or ice paks you can take with you is pretty limited. So last night we started talking about what our options are. There are the dehydrated backpack meals, but you can probably guess that I'd prefer to cook it myself and eat "real" food. We decided the thing to do would be to get one of those vacuum sealers. Then we can freeze the packets. Little bricks of air-tight (and water-tight) food that will fit in small spaces and we can heat up easily. It's an intriguing idea that I'm looking forward to trying out.
But last night I was too tired for anything except talking about it. My bolognese made me even sleepier, and I was in bed by 9:00. I think I was sound asleep by 9:02. Clean sheets on a Pillow-top Sealy Posturepedic vs. a grit-covered Thermarest. Ahhhhh... no contest.
Nothing like a camping trip to make you appreciate both nature AND the comforts of home.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Kitchen Confidential, Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
I know. Who hasn't read this one? I read it when it first came out, before Anthony Bourdain was all the shizzle and stuff. I liked it then, and I still like it. He's got a tough attitude and a good sense of humor. That said, I doubt I'd get along with him if I met him. And having known a few chefs now, I can say with certainty that not all kitchens operate the way he describes. But it's definitely entertaining.
Food in History by Reay Tannahill
I read this ages ago, and have re-read it recently. It's not an easy read, but it's fascinating. I love, love, love history, and I loved this book. It goes all the way back to theory of cooking in prehistory and goes on up. She also wrote Sex in History, also great.
My Life in France by Julia Child
Again, who hasn't read this one? It's wonderful and her voice is so clear, she could almost be sitting and reading it to you. Comforting.
Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany (Vintage) by Bill Buford
THIS book really gives a good picture of what working in a restaurant kitchen is like. I loved it. Bill Buford is a good writer, spins a good tale, and took a pretty amazing journey from a journalist trying to write a story to jumping whole-hog (pun intended) into the food industry. I loved this.
Life Is Meals: A Food Lover's Book of Days by James Salter and Kay Salter
I love to just thumb through this and read a few passages before bed. The anecdotes and menus are just jits and jots of the act of cooking, eating and sharing table with friends and loved ones. Some of the comments are a little pretentious, and I've muttered at it a few times, but overall, it's enjoyable.
The Oxford Companion to Food 2nd Ed by Alan Davidson, Tom Jaine, Jane Davidson, and Helen Saberi
No, I haven't read the whole thing, but it sure is pretty! It's a wonderful reference, and a great book to just sit and thumb through from time to time.
The New Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
Everyone who loves to cook should own this book. Quote me.
The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America by Michael Ruhlman
Wow. Read this. Really.
The Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of American Food--Before the National Highway System, Before Chain Restaurants, and Before Frozen Food, When the Nation's Food Was Seasonal by Mark Kurlansky
This is a collection of writings submitted to the WPA before WWII. They were supposed to be compiled into a book, but the war interrupted that effort. Mark Kurlansky obtained the manuscripts from the Library of Congress and has put them together in this book. It's interesting reading for history peeps.
Anyone who has any other must-read recommendations, I'm all ears.
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, salted and peppered
- 4 ea chicken sausage (mine was Italian seasoned)
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 - 28oz. cans whole tomatoes plus juice
- 1 cup okra, sliced
- 1 eggplant, sliced, salted and patted dry, then cut into wedges
- 1-4 inch sprig fresh rosemary
- 4 ea fresh sage leaves
- 1 bay leaf
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Look, see? I took a picture of it. You don't have to comment on the photography skills, or lack thereof. I need better lighting. I hate the flash. And that LED lighting thing doesn't work all that well either.
Phillip was rapturous about it. Here is his "restaurant description". "Kale & Catfish salad with black-eyed peas and “panko-pups”—light panko-breaded catfish filet over kale with black-eyed peas, roasted carrots and parsnips, and “panko-pup” croutons; sweet champagne-honey vinaigrette".
The "panko-pups" came about because I hate wasting panko crumbs. I was cooking the catfish and looking at my dredging pans, and eyeing a lump of panko that had wrapped around a blob of egg white and thought "what the hell?" so I dropped it in the pan with the catfish. Then I thought "Well, I might as well go ahead and use up what I got." So I grabbed fingerfuls of egg white, dropped them in the panko crumbs, gobbed them together, salted and peppered them, and tossed them in the pan with the catfish. And used up all the rest of the panko crumbs. Yay!
OK, here's the recipe: (Note: I am not Fine Cooking or Bon Appetit. I do not have a test kitchen and I don't always pay close attention when I'm doing something in the kitchen. While this is marginally better than those old colonial "receipts" that have you mixing "a good amount of flour" with "a standard amount of lard or butter", it is not going to be perfect. Feel free to tweak.Catfish Fillets
2 each catfish fillet
3 each egg whites
1/2 cup flour
1 cup panko crumbs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 each carrots, peeled and cut
2 each parsnips, peeled and cut
4 cups kale, washed and drained
2 cups frisee lettuce, washed and drained
3 Tablespoons Champagne wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Black Eyed Peas
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 1/2 cups frozen blackeyed peas
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1. For the blackeyed peas: Sautee the chopped onion and celery in the olive oil until soft. Add a healthy pinch of kosher salt. Add the blackeyed peas and the chicken stock. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer about 45 minutes.
2. For the salad: Mix together the Champagne vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, salt and olive oil. Wash and drain the kale and frisee well, and tear into bite sized pieces. Be sure to leave out the tough stems of the kale. (Kale may take extra washing to get all the grit off.) Mix together the kale and the frisee, and then dress. Let sit for 20 minutes, tossing occasionally.
3. For the roasted vegetables: Cut the carrots and the parsnips into finger-size pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast at 400F for 30 minutes.
4. For the catfish: Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in a skillet. Salt and pepper the catfish fillets. Dredge in flour, and shake off excess. Dip in beaten egg whites and shake off excess. Dip in panko crumbs and place in hot oil. Cook on each side about 4 minutes, until golden brown.
5. For Panko "Pups". Drop a spoonful of egg white from the catfish dredge into the panko crumbs. Place in the hot oil with the catfish. Salt and pepper and cook on each side until golden brown.
6. Assemble the salad: Place half the dressing-tossed greens on the plate. Arrange the roasted vegetables around the edges. Add the Panko Pups around the edges. Place a serving spoonful of drained blackeyed peas in the middle and top with a catfish fillet. Serve warm.
Note: I had reservations about the "vinegariness" of the salad. I think it worked well with the flavors, and it certainly cut the bitterness of the kale, but I worried it was a little overpowering. Phillip says absolutely not, but he eats more southern greens than I do. (Like, try never.) But overall, it worked and is reasonably balanced. You could cut back on the amount of dressing for the kale if you think it's too much.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Life can turn on a dime. You do not want to be on your way to see your husband, and walk under a giant red TRAUMA sign in the ER, and you do not want to walk in and see the above. It's just scary.
Seriously, though, he's fine. And he was fine when he was in this getup. They put it on as a precaution. He was even pretty fine when he first got hit. He made sure he called the department secretary FIRST to tell her to please let his class know he wasn't going to make it. THEN he called me to let me know he'd been hit by a car. And, he felt good enough to be a complete tourist in the ambulance and take pictures of the interior with his cell phone.They released him at 3:00. We came home and grabbed a quick bite, since we hadn't eaten since breakfast, then we had to go downtown to get his bike. He'd gotten hit right in front of the Port City Java on the corner of Grace and Front, and they were nice enough to hold his bike for us until we could get back and pick it up. It was pretty banged up. We took it on in to Two Wheeler Dealer for repairs.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Speaking of bored, I didn't take pictures of this meal. Because it would have been. (Boring, that is.) Here is a picture of a very dapper man with a salmon.
Oh, those Scots! They know how to dress for their sports. (sigh) Isn't he lovely? I do have a thing for well-dressed gentlemen, I admit. I'll pause while you look at the picture some more.
OK. Back to dinner. The potato pancakes were leftover smashed baby reds that I made a couple of nights ago. I feel driven to use leftovers that are still good when I've cleaned out the fridge. I preceded dinner prep with that, and it always makes me feel guilty to throw stuff away. Not guilty enough to eat it, but still guilty. These were stil just fine, and pattied, salted, then dredged in flour, they made a nice crispy side dish that I enjoyed more than the salmon. (See meat and potatoes reference above.)
The soup, was another vegetable soup from fresh farmer's market fare. (I know I served that first. I'm trying to keep you on your toes.) I got some pretty zucchini and needed to use it tonight. It doesn't keep all that long. So I chopped an onion, sauteed it in a little olive oil, added sliced zucchini, covered that with chicken stock (yeah, I do make my own, actually), then simmered and pureed with the immersion blender. It should be good cold, too.
Tomorrow I need to make a quick run to the grocery for a couple of things to make a new kale recipe that was passed along to me by a new acquaintance, Melissa Costello. I'll give you the lowdown on that later.
We got some beautiful flounder at Fresh Market and I was standing there trying to figure out what I wanted to do with it, when I started thinking about that beef dish I made for game night. I decided that the stuffing for that would be pretty good in the flounder. So I chopped up some bread crumbs, added just a little parmesan, and some fresh basil, spread that on the flounder, rolled it up, and grilled it. Very nice.
Monday, September 7, 2009
And now, on to the true disaster. The Plum Cake. There have been times, when cooking, that I haven't been paying attention, and have omitted a fairly important ingredient (like sugar), but I usually catch it while still in the batter phase, so that I can correct the problem before the product goes in the oven. Unfortunately, that was not the case with the plum cake. I couldn't figure out why it wasn't rising. Was my baking powder old? Was my oven temperature off? Was it the pan? (Yes, folks, this is called "grasping at straws".) Finally, while the lump of lead in the oven was finishing off, I started making the brownies and got to the "add the eggs one at a time" part of the recipe and my brain started wheeling backward to the plum cake put-together, searching for the part on THAT when I added the eggs. Aaaand came up empty. No eggs. No wonder the thing wasn't rising!
It was, needless to say, NOT a beautiful cake. It was more like a brownie - dense and chewy - decidedly not cake-like. Phillip pronounced it "really good anyway", though, and made me take it to the party. The bizarre thing was that I got a LOT of comments on that plum thing and requests for recipes, which I may not provide. (Let's face it. If they make the REAL recipe, they're going to say "Hey! How come mine is a completely different texture?")
So, for your consumption, here is the recipe for Ann Smith's Plum Cake. (Ann Smith was a friend of my grandmother's.) When made correctly, it is a moist, delicious bundt cake with warm spice flavors. When made incorrectly, it is a dense, chewy brownie-like thing with warm spice flavors. You can decide if you want to omit the eggs, but if you do, I'd recommend making it in a brownie pan instead of a bundt cake pan, just for appearances.
Ann Smith's Plum Cake
2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup wesson oil
3 each eggs
2 jars plum or apricot baby food (Good luck finding these. Sheez. See my other post. I used some ridiculous flavor combination, and I don't think it gives nearly as good a flavor as the unadulterated fruit baby food.)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
Beat the sugar and oil together until well-blended. Add the eggs, one at a time (or not, if you're going to mimic my incompetence) until incorporated. Add the bastardized-with-too-many-fruits baby food, then stir in the dry ingredients. Bake in a greased and floured bundt pan at 350F for about an hour. Have more patience than I do about turning out cakes. Let it cool in the pan until the sides pull away slightly, then loosen it and dump it on a plate. Or, you can do like I do, NOT have patience, grasshopper, flip the thing over on a plate then pull the bundt pan off to discover that about half your cake is still stuck on the bottom and have to paste together an already unattractive cake (because of the whole not putting in the eggs thing).
Friday, September 4, 2009
So I've decided on a Glazed Lemon Cake, a Plum Cake and Walnut Caramel Bars. I should be able to get those cranked out in fairly quick order tomorrow morning.
An aside about the Plum Cake. This is a recipe I love that I grew up with. It's basically a very moist bundt spice cake. It calls for a jar or two (I forget) of plum or apricot baby food. Now, you guys know I don't have kids, and apparently, I have missed a memo or two on children's products. What on earth happened to plain old single fruit baby foods? I scoured the aisle and couldn't find plum OR apricot. Oh, I found plum and banana and apple, and apricot and apple, and apricot and prune, and plum kiwi grape passionfruit twist. It's like pantyhose. Too many choices. But no "plum" or "apricot". Did babies complain about the lack of complexity in the fruit flavors? I'm mystified.
So this cake will have two jars of the closest thing I could find - plum bastardized with apples. I'm sure it won't impact the taste of the cake too much, but it's still just leaves me wondering what happened. I mean, the Gerber baby still looks like the same kid. Why did they have to mess with what went in the jar?
I will snag the camera out of my PFD pocket tomorrow morning to get a few pictures.
I have a few meals to catch up on, once I remember what we've eaten since Game Night on Saturday. But last night we had a good corn and basil soup and some turkey cutlets with apples.
Here's Fine Cooking's picture of the soup. I'm pretty sure Scott Phillips took it. He totally rules. Mine didn't have the proscuitto in it. It was tasty, though! I expect it will be good cold, too.
The turkey cutlets I browned in olive oil, then sliced some apples and browned those in olive oil and served them with the turkey. Pretty good. I'm seriously ready for fall.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Back in mid-summer, I decided I wanted to start a game night/potluck group. So I sent an email out to a handful of good, fun friends to gauge the interest. I got enough responses that we gave it the green light, and I hosted the first one here a few nights ago. The idea is that we take turns hosting and get together about once every two months. The host picks the game and prepares the main course, and everyone else claims another part of dinner and brings it along.
Pootie and I picked Turbo Cranium and I made braised beef braciole stuffed with basil and fresh mozarella. It's a flank steak, pounded thin, then spread with a mixture of bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, mozarella cheese, and fresh basil. It's tied up after rolling up like a jelly roll and braised in tomatoes and onions and mushrooms. Mine wasn't quite as beautiful as the recipe picture, so I didn't bother photographing it. I sometimes have issues following instructions (ahem).
Recipe: Secure with kitchen twine in five or six places.
Me: "Oh, pooh. Three will be plenty. "
Dinner: All right, hoser, I'm planning on falling all to pieces in this pot. Good luck slicing me and putting me on a platter later!
It tasted fine, but I was not able to put much emphasis on presentation. Therefore, I shall distract you with another game night video.Stephanie and Chris brought a delicious variety of twice-baked potatoes. They went perfectly with the beef and were good enough that I made sure I snagged the recipe from Steph afterward. Yasmin and Robert brought appetizers - Yasmin did some great filled jalapenos and some crackers with cheese and bell pepper. Good! Poor Jenn (who was abandoned for some lame-ass football draft pick something or other - rest assured we talked trash about him) had played not one, not two, but SIX games of Ultimate Frisbee that day, and still managed to pull herself and a salad together and drag her tired butt over.
Dan and Christina brought dessert and also some kind of powerful alcohol from Dan's trip to Korea. He'd just gotten back that day, and I gotta say, for a dude with major jet lag, he performed well. Turns out Robert spent over a year living in Korea, so there was much discussion about it and about the liquor Dan brought, proper serving procedure, etc. I thought it tasted like ispropyl alcohol, frankly, but Dan and Robert enjoyed it. I had made a pitcher of pomegranate margaritas, so between those, the Korean IPA, and the wine, it's no surprise that the game degenerated.
We started out in three teams of three, but then there was a child bedtime emergency and we lost Chris and Steph. After that, we just sat around yapping and reading each other questions and cracking adolescent jokes.
We used the obnoxious Turbo Cranium timer to pick the next host, so Christina and Dan have it next. I had a good time, and I think everyone else did. Even Jenn, who was almost dead on her feet by the time she left. Looking forward to the next one!