Sunday, April 29, 2007

Kiki is out & on the grill!

Quick post for my new grill experiment.

Frites on the grill. They go with bbq things and really, grilling is much better than frying, both for health & taste.

This all started because I wanted some big wedgie type oven fries, but on the grill. I asked HubbyPoo to slice the taters. I want wedges, I said, like steak fries. Since I don't eat steak, he determined that I meant like a frite. No, I said like a big steak wedge. We went back & forth, but since he had the knife, he cut like he was sure I wanted. I pouted, but said fine these will do. But they're not what I asked for. So I made the first version & we thought, hey this is pretty good. Need to work on the overall texture & try to not burn the sides too much, but we may be on to something.

So last night, to go along with our turkey thigh (marinated in beer, soy sauce, dijon & rosemary) we decided to have the fries again.

HP: "I know what you wanted last time, the big wedges. I'll cut them that way."
Me: "No you can't, you have to cut them the way you originally did."
HP: "I don't remember what I did, can't I just cut them the way you wanted?"
Me: "No, I liked they way you did them last time, that is what I want now!"
HP: "OK, I'll try to do that. So you want them how?"

How do we ever get anything done? But he did a great job of cutting taters. After a little encouragement.

The taters:
I used fairly big redskin potatoes, because that is what I had. They were "roughly peeled" (some off, some on--like the cukes you see in salad bars)
Preheat the grill on high. A hot grill is important.
I soaked them in cold water while waiting for a pot of water to boil.
I blanched the taters in boiling water for about 10 minutes. That was a little too long--first time I did about 3-5 which wasn't quite enough. I'd say 7 minutes is probably the key. You want them to be tender, but not mushy. If they were pasta, they be al dente.
Drain & toss with olive oil & some tasty herbs. I used some herbs de provence & Porcini mushrooms and a little sea salt.
If using a gas grill, reduce heat, be sure that you are not directly above any hot spots. Try to avoid the flame. If using charcoal, set up for "indirect heat" (Push coals to sides & cook in the middle)
I put my fries on a grill tray (Like you would use for fish or small veggies).
Grill for about 10-15 minutes. Flipping & redistributing a couple times during cooking.
Way Yum!!

(The turkey was good as well, but not very inventive.)

And a good dinner was had by all!


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Isn't this one of those self-posting blogs?

toothpaste for dinner

I hope it's ok to share this.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Kiki is out & on the grill!

In honor of the beautiful weather, I have spent a few more hours in my garden along with a few hours just hanging out on my back porch. It is a second story "sleeping porch" that over looks the back yard. Which is also kind of a garden, maybe it's a yarden?

Having spent time outside, who wanted to go back in? but there was still dinner to attend to. So on the grill we go. I have a very basic gas grill. (My dad & sister chipped in & gave it to me for my birthday 5 or 6 years ago. I'll admit that I don't do whatever grill maintenance you are supposed to do to a grill, but it has served me well.) So on my very basic grill I'm always happy to find that I can make some outstanding things. (My husband has a very expensive grill, it has been sitting under it's cover and been used only once or twice since he moved in 3 years ago)

Ok, enough of that paragraph (that should probably be severely edited, but probably won't be). I will try to make it through the descriptions of my food with out the further use of parentheses) I will insert a sad aside into this paragraph. My batteries were dead & I have no photos of this. That is truly a loss! (I guess I'll have to make it again) (oops, darn parentheses) (hey there they are again)

Friday night dinner:

Pizza on the Grill

I made my first pizza on the grill. My brother-in-law does this with some frequency, so I thought, hey why not. His original recipe comes from Stephen Raichlin's Barbecue Bible. I don't know if he still uses those recipes, but I did not. I looked at that recipe, as well as Raichlin's BBQ USA recipe for pizza on the grill. I love his books & every recipe is a winner, but I still made up my own recipe (based to some extent on his). You can also visit Mr. Raichlin at

The Crust

  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Honey
  • 1 1/2 packages active dry yeast (can probably get away with only one, but I had an open one)
Mix together and let sit 5-10 minutes or until foamy.
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea or kosher salt
  • 3 Tablespoons corn meal
  • 3 Tablespoons Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Mix thoroughly then slowly add
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • about 3 cups white flour
mix together(I use my hands) using more or less flour to achieve a somewhat slack dough. Do not over mix, take a break & let it sit if you need to. Knead into a basic ball like shape place in a large oiled bowl, cover and let sit until doubled in bulk; this will take 1 1/2 - 2 hours. (I let mine sit longer than that, I had to trim a bowl & pick up my car & go to the farmers market so I'm not sure how long it sat) Ideally it would sit in 72-75 degree draft free w/ a little humidity, but if you don't have a rain forest handy do your best. If you are trying to get a real head start on dinner or are preparing for a bbq or company or what have you, you can refrigerate it over night at this point. When it has doubled, punch it down and divide into 4 or 5 small disks; you will want the pizzas small enough to handle. Cover and let rise, about 40 minutes - an hour. While it is rising, create your toppings.

For our pizza, we used Caramelized Onions (HP really likes them on pizza), Shrimp and Two Sauces. Sauce #1 was a basic Italian pizza sauce that I made from a #10 can of tomatoes over the winter. Sauce #2 was a variation of an alfredo sauce.

Super Thick Alfredo apologies on the vagaries of my measuring, I wasn't really thinking about it:
  • about 3-4 Tablespoons butter
  • about 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • about 1/4 - 1/3 shredded Parmesan cheese
  • about 2-4 Tablespoons goat cheese
In small saucepan over low heat, melt butter with cream slowly add goat cheese & parmesan and stir until melted. Season with Salt & Pepper. Yum! (Also tastes good on pasta like regular Alfredo)

Assemble your toppings (I did slightly pre-cook the shrimp then let them finish on the grill)

At this point, preheat your grill. Put it on high & close the lid. You want your grate to be hot, hot, hot!

Stretch your dough into crusts; instead of using flour to stretch and pull, use olive oil, you shouldn't need a lot, maybe a tablespoon. Form crusts on something that you can carry to the grill and hopefully slide your pizzas off of and onto the grill (maybe a cookie sheet?). Your pizzas should be small enough that you can pick them up and put them on the grill without stretching or tearing the dough. (If you have a Pizza Peel you don't need to worry as much about the size, dust it with cornmeal and slide your pizza on).

Topping your pizza:
You do not top the traditional way!
  • First goes the cheese, so it can be close to heat & melt. Also you don't want a lot of wet on your crust.
  • Next goes your meat. All meat should be pre-cooked, my shrimp was slightly under cooked to avoid it getting too rubbery on the grill.
  • Next went the onions
  • Finally the sauce is splatted on top. Use your sauces some what sparingly, this is more about the crust.
Onto the grill we go!
Your grill should be really hot by now, so turn down the burners to actually cook. If you have a big fancy grill, try doing a very hot side and a medium side.
Slide or manhandle your crusts onto the grill. If using two zones, start by putting it onto the hot zone to sear the crust.
Close lid. Don't peak for first minute.
Ok, you can look now, if you have 2 zones, slide your pizza to the medium zone. If you have 1 zone, just check to be sure you don't have any hot spots. Close lid. Cook for around 5 minutes or until sauce & cheese appear to be bubbling.

And a good dinner was had by all!


Friday, April 20, 2007

Out of the kitchen & Outside!

What a great day! The sun was shining and the temperature was glorious!

I took a walk to the ceramics studio so I could work on a couple mugs and drove to the farmer's market with the top down! Woooo HOOOO!

While I was out & about, HP was home toiling in the yard. We have a very small yard, so it doesn't take much to whip it into shape. A couple hours here & there and it is looking presentable. Today was the first real "couple hours" so it isn't quite presentable, but it was nice enough that we could dine al fresco.

The late frost did a little damage, it is still too early to tell how much. What we do notice is that the early blooms on the magnolia got a little frost bitten on the edge, but the blooms that are coming out now look (and smell) great! I'm a little worried about the peony. When they first come up, they look like red asparagus jumping out of the ground. The tips were out during the cold snap, but they seemed like they slowed for a little while so they could gather the energy to spring out today. All of the things that seemed to take a break for the cold & hold off on showing there face until there was warmth and sunshine to bask in have begun to shyly make an appearance. The hostas are inching out wrapped around themselves, taking stock of the day before they decide to come shove through the dirt. We have little grape hyacinth dotting the back bed and the tulips are opening up for all the world to see out front. Bit by bit my yard is coming out to play.

Of course, there is always the one that shows up early & doesn't seem to care about the weather. Yes, like that party guest that you didn't really want to invite, the weeds (as weeds & party guests will do) have shown up early, they spread out while everyone else was taking it easy and of course, they always go to areas that you had hoped to keep off limits. Really, is there an Emily Post on weed etiquette? I don't mind them showing up, but really, do they need to bring all their relatives. And honestly, the way they reproduce! Please, get a room & keep it out of my yard. So politely, I try to tell them that I've really had enough. They should really just be going on their way--I hear there is a great vegetable garden down the street a few blocks. But, I'm sure they will be the last to leave and I'll have to continue cleaning up after them.

This is what my yard looks like at the end of the summer...


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sushi Night

Sunday HP decided to make sushi. It was the second attempt, & I was too tired to photograph it, but I do have the photos from the first try.

(I'm glad that I was too tired to photo it. First try was really quite successful. We watched the video & read some techniques on the internet. Second try, not nearly as pretty. The rice wasn't quite right (may have had a measuring error & may have been the rice itself) We didn't watch any video before hand. HP thought it would be easy since we were so successful the first time.

Me, I was off volunteering & making clay flowers for an open house at the arts center all day, so when I got home, I just wanted a glass of wine. (Thanks to Holly who gave me a few bottles of wine on Saturday, so I got to have a glass with dinner))

So Sunday's wasn't very pretty, but the pictures are from our first try, last month.
Massaging the rice in the steamer bowl

The rice is put in a large shallow bowl to cool and the sushi vinegar is poured over top
Fanning the rice to cool it & help the moisture evaporate
The ingredients Ahi Tuna, Smoked Eel (Unagi) & Salmon. (the salmon was camera shy) along with avocado, cucumber, green onion & wasabi

Forming the nigiri (topped with unagi)

Making the tuna roll rolling and rolling
We started feeling advanced so we did the rice on the outside too

And finally the finished plate


Saturday, April 14, 2007

My first Raku

This is a quick post, yesterday I did my first Raku firing. I was helping one of the Studio Artists, but I had 2 pieces that were made with raku clay and wanted to try. The Pictures don't show the colors & the metallic glow very well, but I thought I'd try. Click any of the pictures for bigger, I'm not sure I ever resized the small cup so it is really big.

A Short Description courtesy of John & Anne Lockett They teach at Stonehall Adult Education Centre in Acocks Green, Birmingham, UK. Visit their website for additional information.

Modern Raku Ware
- The rapid firing and cooling of the traditional Japanese Raku process is arguably the only thing that it has in common with modern raku work. In an attempt to enliven the colours achieved in Raku firing, potters around 1960 began experimenting with glazes and with the placing of the hot pots into piles of leaves, sawdust, straw and other combustible materials (a process known as post-firing reduction). It is this relatively modern firing process which we follow to produce our own range of Raku pots

small cup

"Flower Pot"


Friday, April 13, 2007

Searching for Inspiration

So I pulled some salmon out of the freezer for dinner tonight. Now I'm trying to figure out what to do with it.

Was planning to go to an old favorite, with a parmesan, basil & lemon breadcrumb crust. It is quite yummy, but I don't have a lemon & really don't want to go to the store.

I want to use the basil. It has been holding up quite well (I bought the stuff in the store that has roots & you store in a glass of water so it stays alive. It doesn't grow, but at least it lives. My basil seeds are just thinking about sprouting. More on that soon. My parenthesis is longer than the original paragraph)

Ok, I've got salmon & basil & parmesan. Maybe a cream sauce w/ tomatoes? Sadly I only have canned, but for a sauce they are just as good. In fact they are generally better because they are not that meally dreck they pass off for "vine ripe"[should be ripened, but I don't have time to edit all those stickers at the grocery store] tomatoes.

I seem to be going of on tangents today. If anyone out there has any suggestions for my salmon, please pipe up.

Anyone, Bueller, Bueller?


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Meme in the Kitchen with Kiki

For Sarah Louise, I have Memed (is that the proper use of the past tense???) I made a few tweaks, but hey, it was talking about the kitchen, I can’t leave it the way it was!

In the kitchen with...Kiki, humming something different each time I’m in there

Variety is the spice of life.
In my cupboard, I have this many spices: ummm, a lot
Rack or no rack? Drawer, rack, plus a basket for the “spares”
Alphabetize? In the drawer. My Husband insisted.
Which spice do you use most often? .I go through phases. Maybe Cumin.
Which recipe? I use it in a lot of recipes. That is why it is the spice I use most often.

It's like the pot calling the kettle black.
Coffee or tea? Coffee in the morning. ½ a pot. Every day.
Do you make coffee at home? Daily.

Do you buy Grounds or Beans? Beans! Coffee Pot has a grinder built in
If you make tea, loose or in bags? Tea bags.
How many kinds of tea do you have? I have a small variety in a box, plus I have some Earl Grey, some Celestial Seasons Chai, Red Zinger, Berry Zinger. And Tetley big bags for iced tea.

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
I use my stovetop: Almost daily this time of year. Less in the summer--I can't stand the heat, so I go for the grill!
I use my oven: Plenty. I’m contemplating bread now that I have done the Pizza dough. Still Life with Menu has a great Country Bread w/ oat, wheat & white flour.

Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?
Soy or cow? Cow.
Skim or whole? 1%
How many gallons a week? ¼ or so

How often do you drink Chocolate Milk? At least once a week. Is my usual “treat” for grocery shopping

Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one's life” -Anthony Bourdain

Three Cookbooks You Love

  1. Anthony Bourdain Les Halles Cookbook I’ve only made a few recipes, but the book is an entertaining read on it’s own
  2. The original Moosewood Cookbook I’ve had it since I thought I’d try to be a vegetarian in college. It is now held together with duct tape from so much use.
  3. The Fanny Farmer Cookbook. It came with my husband, they were both great additions to my home : )

Three items in my freezer (right now):

  1. About a gallon of homemade broth, about ½ gallon homemade tomato sauce
  2. Frozen Tuna, Salmon, Shrimp
  3. Girl Scout Cookies

Three things in my fridge (right now):

  1. Multi-colored Easter Eggs. Will probably be made into egg salad for lunch
  2. Red & Green Thai Curry Paste. I bought it this weekend at Wegman’s in State College. (The only grocery store I actually like, but I’m glad there is not one that is convenient, I’d spend waaaaaaaaaaay too much on groceries)
  3. ½ a Gallon of Iced Tea

Item I am most chagrined about: The mysterious cheese drawer. Cheeses go in, they come out, and some little remains hide in the back until I’m not sure what they originally were

Item I bet no one else has: Tait Farms Raspberry Grille Sauce. I love that stuff!


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It's a Box!

Yay! The doorbell rang & I got a box!

I really love those, ya know.

Let's check out today's box, shall we.

No layers of wrapping or distractions of fluff here. A single layer of newspaper is folded back to reveal...

Is it?

Could it be?

My sister, PJ has unwittingly fed my addiction. She sent:


I'm shocked. She should know that there is more than just love when it comes to girl scout cookies. (I have an addiction, as chronicled here). I'm not sure she realizes that I have this addiction, but I have realized that addiction is something to discuss with your family, not hide.

She was strong this time. She sent the cookies away. She knew that had she allowed the cookies in her house again, she would not be able to resist their sirens call. Yes, she confessed to me what transpired with her first order of girl scout cookies (She has a niece who is a girl scout as well as the daughter of her best friend. She is required by the laws of friendship & aunthood to order cookies from these girls). What tragedy could have occurred that PJ would not even allow girl scout cookies in her house?

Her confession began, "I can't even look at them, I picked up the order and drove straight to the shipping place to send them away again"

"Why, dear sister, whatever happened to cause this distress?" I inquired sweetly, concerned.

"The first order came in. It started innocently enough, Maggie & Don don't like Samoas, so they gave me their boxes. After the initial shock that someone could actually not like a Girl Scout Cookie, I began to feel bad for the poor little cookies. " Her narrative began slow, thoughtful.
"The girls looked so hopeful on the box. I couldn't let them down, so I opened the box to have one. I just wanted them to feel better. Then one led to another," she took a deep breath here, and the words came tumbling out, "before I knew it, I had to hide the box. Not just from myself, I was too embarrassed by the number of cookies I had consumed to let anyone else know that they even came into the house.
"I hid them, and I waited. I slept fitfully, knowing they were down there--taunting me. The next day, when my husband was at work & the kids were in school, I attacked. I couldn't let them get to me anymore. So I finished them off."
I think a little sob escaped at this point, but she strongly continued her story. "First it was the Samoas, then the Tag-A-Longs, I ate them 2 at a time. Finally, well, the poor Thin Mints didn't stand a chance. After I licked the plastic container & had the last shred of coconut from the Samoas, I knew what I had to do." She took a deep breath, I could hear her smile.
"I destroyed the evidence. No one will ever know those cookies came into this house. I sent you the second order of cookies. I knew you would know what to do with them. I can't allow them in my house again! At least, not until next year..."

At this point I realized that the addiction, like an alcohol addiction, is probably genetic to a certain degree. I look back, and finally I understand why my mother wanted to be the leader of the brownie troop. It wasn't for the girls. It was for the cookies.

I was alone when I received the cookies. I held them close, and sniffed their aroma. Then I hid them away. The Tag-A-Longs went behind the purple rice, that I bought for a special occasion. The Samoas, buried deep beneath the large pile of canned tomatoes. And the Thin Mints, well, I'll just say they went into the deep freeze.

I fought the urge, to ravage those boxes. I too was home alone with those innocent looking delicacies. The ambrosia in a box. So far, I have been strong. But I know, well I know that umm excuse me. I'll finish this post later. I have to go defrost my freezer...


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Pizza Nights!

As I mentioned in my last post, I dove in & made Beth's Pizza Dough. I loved the fact that I did a little mixing & threw it in the fridge to deal with later. It was not a lot of work & made for a delicious couple dinners.

Saturday Night's Pizza got the full treatment of pics & narration, Monday's you'll just get the highlights

Friday night I mixed up the yeast, flour & water; it did not look like a "lumpy pancake batter" so I added a splash more water. My yeast expired last August (ok, I'm behind on my baking) but it was stored in the freezer, so I decided to go for it & see what would happen.

Saturday night, I pulled out the dough. In my elderly yeast did it's job & my dough rose in the fridge. (Yay!) So I divvied it up to Saturday night dough & Monday night dough & went on about my work.

I started stretching & pulling, going gently & stopping if the dough was cranky. HP asked if I could throw it in the air like real pizza guys. I tried & got a little air, but we'll just leave it that I made a great catch.

I moved my dough to the parchment paper to let it rest & began gathering my toppings. Sauce went first w/ a little cheese mixed in. It was home made from a batch I made a couple months ago. I don't recall the original use for it, but I made plenty. Glad I have pizza recipes to try it out on. Next went the basil, then caramelized onions and (left over) asparagus. It was topped with an Italian cheese blend (yes, the shredded stuff in the dairy section of the grocery store.) and into the oven it went. A few minutes later voilá it was dinner!

Not bad for a first pizza. The dough was a little thick in spots, and the whole thing probably could have benefited from another minute or two in the oven (HP was in charge of pulling things out of the oven on Saturday night and he seems to have been just a tad impatient.) The result was a thick, soft bready dough that tasted great and made a wonderful pizza. HP says the caramelized onions are what made it.

Monday night's pizza was a little less organized. We spent the first half the day at Daddo's house a couple hours ago, then drove home, dropped off The Girl at her mom's house. I knew I had the dough in the fridge & needed to get back to it, so we stopped at the grocery store for our toppings. Mixed mushrooms (shitake, baby bella, oyster & I don't remember what else is in the mix). A sweet onion and some fresh mozzarella balls from the deli. (the little ciglione or however that is spelled).

I pulled the dough out, it had been stored in a ziplock bag, so it seemed to have some bubbles in it, but as I worked it there was no problem. I put the onion & mushrooms on the stove w/a splash of wine & a knob of butter so they could caramelize away while I thawed some sauce, prepared the dough & preheated the oven. Then it dawned on me that I had used the last of the parchment paper on the kringla. Things were not looking good. I don't own a pizza peel, so I was in a bit of a sticky wicket. So I pulled my stone out of the oven & decided that it was going to be made directly on that. I added a little extra olive oil to my dough to avoid sticking, then mixed in some dried Tuscan herbs because it sounded good at the time.

I let the stone cool to a warm, but handleable temperature. I dusted it w/ corn meal and proceeded to stretch my dough on top. I was much more even handed than the first one & got a pretty uniform layer. After it rested, I smeared the dough with sauce, added the sliced mozzarella, next was basil, then the mushrooms & onions and topped with the Italian cheese & into the oven it went. We were a little more patient with the pizza (especially since the stone wasn't oven hot) and didn't retrieve it until everything was bubbling and toasted. The pizza turned out fabulous. The camera was still hidden away, so I didn't get a pic of this one, but it was even better than the first!

And a good dinner was had by all!


Saturday, April 7, 2007

in the kitchen, not on the kumputer

Am in the kitchen today (tonight)

Made pizza from beth's dough at It was quite yummy & I have pics! they will be posted next week. (promise) Our toppings were: homemade tomato sauce, parm. cheese, basil; caramelized onions (from here) asparagus tips (also left over from there) and mixed Italian Cheese. (from the grocery store. mozzarella, asiago, parmesan, romano, provolone shred & mixed)

Am currently boiling eggs for The Girl to dye when she gets off work at the ball park (in about 2 hours)

Also shortly to start said kringla. Actually started last night, but am baking tonight. And I'm leaving in 12 hours to see my dad. Miles to go before I sleep!


Thursday, April 5, 2007

I'll change this if I figure out what the point of this post is

It is 5:15, and I have no idea what I'm making for dinner. Last night's dinner was really good & I don't think I can meet those expectations. I'm not up for the pressure.

It is 5:15, and I should be in the kitchen, not on the computer. But the kitchen is a scary mess. Once upon a time, my husband told me that if I cooked, he'd clean. Silly me, I believed him. What was I thinking? In all fairness, this has been one of those weeks where we've both been busy & neither one of us was running at 100%, so we'd clean up a little then decide to come back to it.

Now I have to get back to it. I have no more clean measuring cups (not that I am committed to using them, but they are taking over valuable counter space) My kitchen truly is not large enough to handle dirty dishes. I have about 18 inches of counter space on a good day. If I clean off the island that serves as a kitchen table/crap collector/drop-off zone I can get another 24 inches or so.


I'll have to clean & clear every spare inch if I'm going to follow through with my plans to make Kringla for The Girl as an Easter treat. Kringla is a Norwegian soft cookie (normally in the shape of an infinity sign, but this was the pic I found), and she loves it. Since she gave up sweets for Lent, I thought it would be a nice reward, as it is a very rare treat. I've only made it 2 times, though her grandmother will occasionally send it (store bought as it is a major project to make & grandma has enough going on).

A bit of history: HP's family is partially of Norwegian origin (you can't tell by looking at him though), when they emigrated to the US, his great grandfather (a former member of King Olaf's Royal Ski Patrol. I swear, I can't make this stuff up) changed the family name. Seems he thought Sveergard was too hard to spell. (In fact, I'm willing to bet I spelled it wrong) When he changed his last name, he picked something shorter, and translates roughly to "By the Fjord." Sadly, my husband didn't pay much attention to genealogy, he thought his name meant "Buy the Ford" and now we have a "Crapmobile" Contour that has started once in the past 3 months. (ok, I did make up the "buy the Ford" part, but the rest is true, including the dead crapmobile)
Kringla is labor intensive as well as space intensive. Last time I made it, I destroyed the cheap little hand blender that I used. The kids, worried that that could end my Kringla making career, got me a lovely little kitchen-aid hand blender for Christmas. Tragedy averted!

So, I feel that the kitchen-aid is up to the task, the real question is am I?

I'm not sure what this image is, but it came up when I was trying to do an image search for Kringla, does it mean No Kringla?


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Spring in the Kitchen

This morning, while waiting for the car, I wondered around the internet for a little while. After a hop here & a skip there, I wandered over to Joke's blog, Same thing, But Different. He was writing about food, and there were a couple posts, one was risotto. Hmm a spring time risotto, the perfect use for my asparagus. So I commented that I would make that for dinner. That is a major commitment for me, especially before my first conversation with my husband. (He left the house early, I only said "grrmmph, lub u, didja sayme any coffee?" before he was on his merry way.) So I swirled it around in my head to try it on and when my husband came home and we had an actual conversation, it went along these lines.

HP: Hi I'm home, did you save me any coffee?
Me: Umm, maybe. How was your appointment?
HP: Fine, nothing exciting. Not much coffee here.
Me: Yeah, well. You drank a lot before you left.
HP: I didn't think I had that much. Are you going to...
Me: Sure ya did. What do you think of Shrimp & Asparagus Risotto for dinner
HP: Wow, that sounds good.

So now I had committed. My mysterious cheese drawer was woefully empty so I made my 3rd trip to the grocery store this week. I think I'm done that for a while. Eventually I decided to make dinner. I started late, which is never a good idea, especiallly with something that requires patience like risotto. Oh well.

How Kiki cooks Risotto:
At some point, not early enough, I pulled the stock & the shrimp out of the freezer to thaw.

Some time later, I open a bottle of dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio (or pinot gris, if you prefer). Poor a large glass of said wine, sip and contemplate the mess in the kitchen. Most of it was theoretically going to be cleaned by HP, so I leave it for him.

Realize that the wine that is going into the risotto needs to be brought at least to room temp, so I search for a clean measuring cup & poor 1/2 cup in; I leave that on the stove (not on a burner) so I'm not putting something cold into my risotto (a no-no). It dawns on me that all my chicken stock is still solid ice, so put it in the microwave to thaw. I start slicing my onion (I slice, then chop) I soon realize that I have much too large of an onion, so I stop, get some butter from the fridge and start the back burner with a little butter & a little wine so I can caramelize some onions since I have them sliced. Microwave beeps, what did I put in there? Oh yeah. Check on stock, still a large stockcicle. Zap some more. Have some more wine. Start chopping shallot, decide to grab another shallot to add to the onions that are caramelizing. check on stock. Almost done, zap. Chop garlic. Decide I want this to be garlicy, so I chop some more. End up chopping 5 big cloves. Pull stock out of micro and put onto stove to get it simmering. Put butter in pan for risotto & try to check that I have everything, drink a little more wine. When butter is melted, I add the onions, saute a little, then let soften. Next I pull Asparagus out of fridge, chop; get HP to peel shrimp & grate Parm. Shallots & garlic go in w/ the onions, I splash more wine into the onions caramelizing on the back burner and everything is happy. I have another sip of wine, and I'm working on being happy as well. Into the pot goes the risotto. It gets all pretty & glossy, then next goes the wine. It smells great going in. Bit by bit the stock goes in. Stirring, & sipping the risotto gets cooked. (With occasional visits to splash the caramelizing onions with wine)
Soon it's time for the big finish, first the shrimp, next the lemon juice & the asparagus. A little cheese, and finally a few asparagus tips that I held for decoration.
Gosh that turned out pretty! I really wish I had my camera in the kitchen (One of these days I'll be that organized) The soft pink of the shrimp and the bright green of the risotto against a soft creamy risotto back ground. A very thin slice of lemon and some fresh ground pepper and a small sprinkle of cheese and it's on the table. There is just enough wine left in the bottle for HP & I to have some with dinner. ( I may have sipped many times, but I did so in moderation.)

I have to say, it tasted as good as it looked; and a good dinner was had by all!


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Easter Candy Fun


Monday, April 2, 2007

And the snack of the day is....

No dinner tonight, just snacks.

turkey meatballs in a mango-orange-ginger-bourbon sauce. I will say, the bourbon does matter. I used some Bookers that was given to me, but wish I was able to use the FAR superior Maker's Mark instead. Even with the inferior bourbon, the sauce was pretty tasty. A little sweet, a little spicy. Just needed a little on the sour side to be better (along w/ real bourbon) but I am currently out of Tait Farm ginger shrub. And what else did we make?

Hubby-Poo's hummus. Nothing different or unusual here. Just a great blend of acid/spice/base. His hummus is consistently good. Not much I make is consistent, though it is usually good!

Also on the menu: Another HP favorite, spinach dip. His recipe is from the Pensacola Junior League Some Like it South.

And finally, for dessert. I made brownies for grown-ups. They have a raspberry-Chambord icing w/ (hopefully) bittersweet glaze. I was improvising from a recipe for a chocolate mint brownie (that is out of this world). I left them in the fridge for the icing to set and haven't had a chance to taste them yet. I don't want to interrupt the meeting, but may need to before long. Since I was busy making these snacks, I didn't get a chance to eat much.

I was planning to take pictures of some of the spread, but sadly the battery on the digital needed to be charged.

And now for a quick gripe. As I indicated above, I am a huge fan of Maker's Mark Bourbon. I am even a Maker's Mark "Ambassador," spreading the love (of MM) whenever I can. (Any one interested in becoming an ambassador, let me know & I'll get you more info). Anyway, back to the gripe. A friend with a good heart, knows that I am a bourbon drinker, and while he is fully aware of my preference being the kind soul that he was, and in possession of some excess bourbon, he gave me the Bookers. First of all I have to say, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, yuk. It tastes like corn squeezings that were left in the still a little too long. Secondly, I'll add that, upon review of the Booker's very own website their bourbon is "truly the absolute best." I need to state for the record, that they are big fat liars. Thank You.


Sunday, April 1, 2007

I should be making dinner....

Actually, I should have made dinner an hour ago. I even had a plan for dinner.
Turkey Steak (a cut of the thigh.) with a crust of coconut, cinnamon, cloves, coriander... served with a carrot puree with ginger and shallot, based mainly on this. A little couscous for my starch and it would have been dinner. See, it sounds yummy--I really had the best of intentions. I was going to make dinner after my nap. HP is recovering from a cold and is snoring in the weee hours of the morning. A pillow over the head hasn't been helpful. So my nap didn't work out as planned. And it was 4:30. So diet coke and nachos were the snack to wake me up and get me cooking. After a little while I looked at my dear HP and said, "I think it's your turn to cook." and bless his heart, he is did. And not only is he making dinner (Turkey burger for me, Hamburger for him. He got "real meat" out of the deal, so he isn't suffering) He took the rest of the ground turkey and made 3 burgers for the freezer, so when we decide to have burgers we can just pull them out. AND he made, "like 100 meatballs" with the rest of the turkey. He has a meeting here tomorrow, which generally requires some refreshment for the poor board members, so meatballs it is. I will create a ginger-peach sauce and they will be the warm snack. HP is going to make some hummus. He somewhat follows the SouthBeach recipe (found here along with Baba Ganoush), it's yummy and good to have the around the house. I think I agreed to make brownies also. It will be "day 2" so I'm not entirely convinced the guests will ever see them.


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