Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chicken in Creamy Tomato Curry: Chicken Tikka Masala

Last weekend our friends Matt and Adrianne had us over for dinner. I had mentioned that I had been in the mood for some spicy Indian food and so Adrianne came across this recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala by Aarti Sequeira. We both love Aartie and her show Aartie Party on Food Network, so she was pretty sure this dinner would be a hit. OH. MY. GOODNESS. I have found a brand new love. It is super spicy, creamy, rich and impossible to stop eating. Serve over rice and along side some wonderful Naan or crusty bread is essential for sopping up all the sauce. You don't want any of that stuff to go to waste. I loved it so much I made it myself that same week- which I never do. This recipe will be in constant rotation in our household for sure. LOVE, LOVE!

When Adrianne made this, she used the two Serano Chili's, seeded and deveined and it was clear-your-sinuses spicy!  We all loved it, but if you are sensitive to heat you may only want to use one instead of two. When I cooked the dish, my grocer didn't have Serano Chili's so I used two Jalepanos.  This produced pretty much no heat at all, but still a lovely flavor.  I was in the mood for heat so I added a bit of chili powder and a little cayenne pepper and that did the trick to kick it back up a notch.

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Chicken in Creamy Tomato Curry: Chicken Tikka Masala
recipe courtesy Aartie Sequeira

1 cup plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, put through a garlic press or finely minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into large bite-size chunks

3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch thumb ginger, peeled and minced
2 serrano pepper, minced (seeds removed if you don't want it spicy)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
8 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups water
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves, optional
1/2 cup heavy cream
Fresh cilantro leaves, minced
Serving suggestion: Cooked rice, warm naan bread or crusty bread.
For the marinade:

In large bowl, mix the yogurt, ginger, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Poke chicken with a fork, then add to marinade. Fold to cover and marinate at least 30 minutes, at most refrigerated overnight.

For the sauce:
When you're ready to make the curry, place a large skillet over medium heat, and add the butter and olive oil. When butter has melted, add the garlic, ginger, and serrano pepper. Saute until lightly browned around the edges.

Add the tomato paste and cook until the tomato has darkened in colour, about 3 minutes. Add the paprika and garam masala, and saute for about 1 minute to draw out their flavours.

Add the tomatoes, salt, and water. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 20 minutes. Take the pan off the fire, and allow the sauce to cool for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, fire up your broiler, and cover your broiler pan in foil. Pull the chicken thigh chunks out of the marinade and place on the sheet. Place under the broiler, and cook about 7 minutes on each side, until charred and cooked through. Cook's Note: Don't worry if the chicken is still a little uncooked, but very charred on the outside; you can finish cooking the chicken in the sauce.

Pour sauce into a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Pour back into the pan, and bring back up to a boil. Add the chicken and fenugreek leaves, if using. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes.

Add cream and stir through. Garnish with minced fresh cilantro if you like, and serve over rice, with naan or a crusty piece of bread!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Caramelized Onion, Pumpkin and Ricotta Tortellini's with a Walnut and Sage Brown Butter Sauce

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Caramelized Onion, Pumpkin and Ricotta Tortellini's with a Walnut and Sage Brown Butter Sauce
makes 50-60 tortellini's, one serving is 6-8 prepared.

1 package Won Ton Wrappers
small bowl of water

For the Filling
1 cup pumpkin- NOT PUMPKIN PIE FILLING!!!! (about 1/2 of a 15 oz. can)
1 cup ricotta
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch nutmeg
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence (this is a common blend of herbs from France, containing savory, rosemary, thyme, fennel seed, oregano, basil, and marjoram. If you don't have any Herbs de Provence or can't seem to find this in a store, any combination of these would still be nice.)

For the Sauce
4 Tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
a small bunch of fresh sage leaves, whole of roughly chopped
fresh ground black pepper

In a saute pan over medium heat, melt one teaspoon butter.  Once it begins to froth, turn down your heat, add the onions and saute for 15-20 minutes on low so they caramelize and turn into an almost jam-like consistancy.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin, ricotta, garlic, salt, pepper, nutmeg and Herbs de Provence.  Once the onions are at the right consistancy, add them to pumpkin/ricotta mixture. Taste your mixture to make sure the seasoning is correct.  Adjust as needed.

On a cutting board, lay out 4-6 wonton wrappers and spoon just under a teaspoon filling into the center of each one.  Dip a finger into the small bowl of water and wet around all four sides of the wonton.  Fold in half, corner to corner making a triangle.  Making sure there are no air pockets, press down firmly to seal.  Bring both corners up to meet each other and seal with a bit of water, making a little purse-like bundle.

Set aside on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet while you are working.

If freezing, put entire tray of tortellini into your freezer.  Once frozen, remove from freezer and divide into servings in ziplock bags for future dinners and refreeze.

To cook your tortellini's, fill a medium stock pot 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil.  Once you get a nice rolling boil, add a teaspoon salt and carefully add the tortellini's.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, or just until they float to the top.  If cooking from frozen, add 2-3 more minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon.

For the sauce
In a DRY medium saute pan over medium heat, add your chopped walnuts and toast, tossing often, until they begin to lightly brown and give off a nice nutty fragrance.   Add your butter to the walnuts.  Once the butter is melted add the sage leaves.  Swirl the butter, watching it closely.  It will foam and then start to become a beautiful chestnut colored brown.  You will also smell the wonderful nuttiness the butter gives off when it browns.  This means it is ready.  Be careful no to overcook the sauce- it can turn from brown butter to burnt butter very fast.  Once finished cooking, remove from heat and add a couple grinds of black pepper.  Pour over the raviolis and serve.  The crispy sage leaves are completely edible- don't you dare pick them out!  They look so pretty and add such a wonderful flavor to the dish.  

This dinner exceeded all of my expectations.  The torellinin's were exactly what I had a taste for in my mind. The meal was elegant, rich, and very gourmet.  Yet it was so simple to prepare.  Scott was a little unsure of how he would care for pumpkin tortellini's, thinking they would be too sweet for his taste.  But they have a much more savory flavor, with just a touch of sweetness that balances out the richness of the butter and walnuts.  He said they were delicious and was very impressed with the results.  Jackson gobbled his up, no questions asked!  I thought for sure he would at least ask me what was inside the noodles, but no!  He ate every single last bite.  This recipe was a winner with my whole family.  I am so excited I have quite a few more servings in my freezer for a quick dinner- or a pretty little lunch for myself during the week.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tuna Melt

This is almost a knife and fork sandwich; it is gooey, messy, but seriously finger licking good.  The addition of the red wine vinegar really completes the full flavor of the tuna salad.  It keeps it tasting fresh and bright. Don't leave it out!

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Tuna Melt
recipe adapted from allrecipes

2 (6 ounce) cans solid white tuna in water, drained  ("solid light tuna" doesn't mean healthier!  Please don't make that mistake!)
1/4 cup mayonnaise, plus a little more for spreading on muffins
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 english muffins, split
2 slices cheese of your choice, (I used American) broken in half
tomato slices and lettuce for garnish

Preheat the oven broiler.

In a bowl, combine the tuna, mayonnaise, celery, onion, and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the english muffins on a baking sheet, and broil 1 minute, until lightly toasted.  Remove from the oven and spread 2 halves with the tuna salad.  Place 1 cheese slice on top of the tuna salad, layer with a tomato slice and top with remaining cheese slices.

Return the tuna salad topped muffins to the preheated oven, and broil 3 to 5 minutes, until cheese is melted. Meanwhile, spread mayonnaise onto the two reserved halves of english muffins.  Once finish broiling, remove from oven, top with the lettuce and remaining halves of english muffins.  Serve with a nice bowl of Gourmet Tomato or Loaded Potato Soup.  Enjoy!

Find my recipe and more at Foodista.com!

Tuna Melt

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pork Chops Stewed in an Olive, Tomato and Lemon Sauce

Last nights dinner was a pure creation of "What do I have in my pantry that I can pull together to make for dinner tonight?"- and it was AMAZING!  I am so excited with how the flavors worked together.  It had some sweetness from the tomatoes, a bit salty and briny from the olives and the lemon juice rounded everything off with that hint of acid and citrus.  It was a beautiful dinner, and one that I would be proud to serve for company. The best part- it all came together in under 30 minutes!  

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Pork Chops Stewed in an Olive, Tomato and Lemon Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Cooking spray
4 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut loin pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 garlic cloves smashed
1/2 cup vermouth or dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup sliced green olives
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped (or one tablespoon dried)
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Heat canola oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over high heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow bowl and dredge pork in flour, turning to coat; shake off excess flour. Add pork to pan and cook 2 minutes on each side to get a nice sear. Then put the lid on, turn the heat down to medium (you still want to hear a sizzle) and cook 3 more minutes a side or until browned. Remove pork from pan.

Add the onions ot the pan a sauté until just beginning to caramelize. Add garlic to pan; sauté 10 seconds. Add vermouth, chicken stock, lemon juice, rosemary and tarragon.  Simmer over high heat letting the liquid reduce a bit- about 2 minutes.  Turn your heat down to medium and add the olives, and tomatoes.  Whisk in 1 teaspoon of flour to thicken the sauce; simmer 5 minutes. Return pork to pan; cook 1 minute to give the pork a bit of a reheat.  Serve over potatoes or steamed rice and nice crusty bread on the side to sop up all those delicious juices.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Two Bite Delights- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake Bites

This past weekend I participated in a Spring Shopping Extravaganza. There was something like 24 different vendors, fun island music and a full cupcake bar with over 300 cupcakes!  My friend Dana from Uppercase Living put together the whole thing.   She did such a fantastic job!

Dana and her beautiful table.  Go check out her site right now!  Such cute stuff!

This was the first event that My Retro Kitchen took part in, and I am so glad I went!  It was such a fun day.  I made some new friends, did lots of networking and of course shopping and eating lots of cupcakes!  Thanks to the Extravaganza you are going to be seeing lots of fun giveaways in the upcoming future.  Yay!

I wanted to do something a little different and definitely fun for the cupcakes My Retro Kitchen was providing. While brainstorming I thought back to the Cake Bites I made for Jackson's birthday party.  These were so much fun and a total hit.  What could I do to turn these into cupcakes?  Top them on a Resee's Cup of course!

The whole process, once you get the hang of it is pretty simple.  The first five or six I dipped looked a little wonkey.  But after that it was pretty quick and they looked great. First you take a box of cake mix and bake as directed for a 9x13 pan. After you bake the cake, let cool completely. Once cool, crumble into a large bowl and mix with about 3/4 of a tub or store bought cream cheese frosting.  Use the back of a large spoon or your fingers. This can get a bit messy, but no biggie. That is part of the fun in baking, right?!  Roll mixture into quarter-sized balls and place on a baking sheet that has been lined with waxed paper or a Silpat. You should get anywhere between 50-65.

Chill for several hours in the fridge or about 15-20 minutes in the freezer. Be sure not to freeze, you just want them to get super cold. The colder the better.  Meanwhile, unwrap your Resee's Cups. Be sure you have had them in the fridge getting nice and hard and cold. They can get a bit melty with all the handling otherwise. Take the cream cheese frosting you have left and smear a little bit onto the top of your Resee's Cups.  This is going to be the "glue" to hold the cake balls and the candy together.  Gently press the two together and put back into the fridge.

Once chilled well, take them back out and gently press the cake ball together with the candy to "seal" the edges and create a cupcake-like look.  This will insure that the cakeball doesn't fall off the Resee's Cup during the dipping process.  Then put back in the fridge to chill again.  I had two trays I was working with.  I found it easiest, since I only had room in my freezer for one tray, always keep the one I wasn't working on in the freezer.  That way they would get nice and cold quickly.  Making it easier to work and a nice pace and not have to wait around between each step.

Once the pressed cupcake bites are nice and cold it is dipping time!  Melt your chocolate or candy melts in the microwave or double boiler according to package directions.  Since you don't have a nice long lollipop stick to hold onto, I found it easiest to use a small glass bowl and melt a little bit of candy melts at a time.  They dip easiest when the chocolate is nice and hot.  The small bowl made it possible for me to dip the whole top into the melted chocolate and carefully rotate them to get the chocolate all the way up to the edge of the Resee's Cup creating a "cupcake".  While the chocolate is still hot on the dipped cupcake bite, it is time to decorate.  I used a combination of m&m's, sprinkles and remember those candy buttons on the long strip of paper.... yeah, these.  

Be creative.  Anything small and cute will work!  Gently press the candies into the warm chocolate and replace onto your cookie sheet in the fridge to harden.  I found it easiest to keep the cookie sheet of the cupcake bites I was working on in the fridge and just take out one at a time.  This would keep them nice and cold and insure the candymelts hardened smoothly.  

My pretty cupcake tower at the Spring Shopping Extravaganza

Once they are completely cool, they can be stored in an airtight container for a few days on the counter or even longer in the fridge.

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1 box of chocolate cake mix
1 tub cream cheese frosting
2 bags of Resee's Cups (I used one bag of regular and one bag of dark chocolate)
1 bag of candy melts, color and flavor of your choice OR a brick of almond bark
an assortment of candy or decorating sprinkles- be creative! I used Candy Buttons, M&M's and sprinkles
mini cupcake papers, if using (optional)

I joined these linky parties! Go check them out too!
Anything RelatedBeauty and Bedlam

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fridays, Feasting With Friends- Featuring Kelly Roshelli

One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends."
~Laurie Colwin 'Home Cooking'

Kelly Roshelli
Kelly and her beautiful daughter, Avery

Our guest for todays Fridays, Feasting with Friends is my lovely college friend Kelly Roshelli.  We met while attending Ohio University, what seems like simply ages ago!  Kelly is just about the most bubbly person you will ever meet.  She is silly, full of life, and enjoys every. single. second. of it!  It is impossible to not feel happy and have a wonderful day when you are in her company.  I used to always say that Kelly was my wild and crazy friend, but that isn't at all the right way to describe her.  What I always meant by this statement was that she was always so brave and outgoing.  I have always been a more reserved person.  I love letting loose, but I tend to shy away from the limelight; which usually means taking the backseat to many things (although deep inside I would love to be that one on that stage singing my heart out to a crowd...)  But with Kelly, I feel braver, stronger and so much more outgoing.  She brings out those sides to me that I seldom see any other time.  I admire her zest of life and in that way wish I could be just like her.  Thank you Kelly for bringing out in many ways, my best self, the one I am usually too afraid to let loose- but makes me feel so great when I actually do!

Kelly lives with her sweet husband Erick and their stunning daughter Avery, just outside Washington D.C. Although the distance stinks, for I would love to see her more often, she is amazing at making time for her friends back here at home when she comes to visit.  One of the coolest things she and I got to share was being pregnant at the same time and now bonding over the joys of motherhood like we never have before.

Kelly and I, both wonderfully pregnant at her baby shower

Maybe one day (forever fingers crossed) she and Eric will decide to move back to Ohio.  But until then I will enjoy our phone conversations and live up every second I get to spend time with her family at each visit.  I love you Kel!  Thanks for your beautiful friendship and for always making time.

Please enjoy todays Fridays, Feasting with Friends.  And I hope that one day you too can experience the Joy of Kelly.  Because it really is an awesome thing.

What is your favorite thing to cook?
I love to cook my dad's homemade spaghetti sauce! I usually whip up a huge batch on a weekend afternoon and freeze it in 2 person servings!

How about your least favorite thing to cook?
I'm not a big fan of cooking anything on the grill; that's Erick's job!

What is your favorite local restaurant and what is one you are dying to try out?
a fun favorite restaurant is called Marrakesh. It's Moroccan and super fun. I love taking people there from out of town!

Music and food go together so beautifully. You are hosting a dinner party, what would be on your playlist?
Good question....I'm not super big into music, so maybe some Jack Johnson?

What would you choose to be your last meal on earth?
Cheese!!! I LOVE cheese, all kinds, if I could eat cheese for every meal every day, I would! Kinda cheesy, haha.

What are you currently reading?
I'm not much into novels, so right now I'm reading Baby Led Weaning. It's a book on how to start my 7 month old straight on solids instead of puree's first since she seems to like to feed herself instead of me spoon feeding her!

don't you just want to eat her up?!!

What is your favorite Kitchen Gadget?
My garlic press....couldn't live without it!

Do you have a signature go-to dish?
Lately I've been making a variation of a greek styled quinoa dish or a mixture of the pad thai dish from Amie's website using the peanut sauce instead of the traditional pad thai sauce.

What is your favorite thing about where you live in Alexandria, VA?
My favorite thing about living in Alexandria, is how it is so close to so many things to do. 15 min to DC, about an hour to the mountains and wine vineyards, and not far from the beach. I also love the weather! We get all 4 seasons with a fairly mild winter which is great and makes it so there is almost always something in bloom!

Do you have a favorite meal from your childhood and do you cook it today?
I love grilled cheese and mac and cheese....go figure, they are both with cheese!

Top 3 Movies of all time?
I love SO many movies! Favorite Comedy is Multiplicity, Favorite Kids is Hook, and I love Vampire movies, the super hero type movies like X-Men and Iron Man, and loved Inception last summer!

What was your happiest moment in life?
Seeing my daughter's heartbeat on the sonogram for the first time, I still cry when thinking about it!

Where do you do your grocery shopping?
Harris Teeter or Whole Foods

What is your favorite guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
Chocolate. I love those little dark chocolate Dove Promises.

Can you tell me about what you are most proud of?
My daughter, Avery.

Kelly, Eric and Avery

Do you have Culinary Resolutions that you would like to accomplish this year?
I am trying to learn to cook more healthy meals and getting my family to enjoy different types of foods.

One word that best describes you is: 
no clue! My husband just called me Dynamic :)

I actually asked Kelly for this recipe.  She was baking a batch the last time I talked to her and it got me in the mood!  I have never tried making them before so I am excited to use her recipe.  Thanks Kel!

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Meringue Cookies
Meringues are egg white-sugar cookies that are baked for a long time at a low temperature.

4 large egg whites
1/2 tsp distilled white vinegar, or cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with foil.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until frothy. Add vinegar; beat until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add sugar; beat until glossy stiff peaks form. Beat in vanilla.

Spoon tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart each, making about 44 cookies.
**Actually I put the mixture into a cookie decorating funnel (not sure the correct name) and squeeze out the cookies. This makes them look much prettier like the ones from Trader Joes.

Bake until meringues feel dry and crisp all the way through, about 3 hours. Turn off oven; leave meringues in oven for 1 hour. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks to cool completely. Peel meringues off foil and store in an airtight container.

Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.

This recipe is such a winner because of so few ingredients and relatively low calories for what you get...fat free. and Very versatile, you can use tons of variations with extracts such as lemon, peppermint, chocolate added to make many flavors...I even thought of maybe using food color to make for different holidays!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Good Morning Idaho"- Eggs Baked in Potatoes

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As soon as I stumbled across this recipe from Real Simple, I just had to try it!  It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone here how much I love eggs.  They are so comforting and delicious.  I'm already head over heels in love with my other baked eggs recipes.  There is the traditional recipe, Baked Eggs, and then there is the fancier (but just as easy!) Eggs Baked in Tomatoes with Prosciutto and Pesto.  This is the perfect addition to the list.  Plus it is all the best breakfast components in one delicious bite- eggs, bacon (or sausage) and potatoes.  Yum!  We enjoyed these as a dinner with a bowl of Roasted Red Pepper Bisque.  It was a lovely combination.  Jackson told me I should make his eggs like this from now on.  This has easily become his new favorite food.

While making these guys the name "Good Morning Idaho" popped in my head and I loved it!  I think it is the perfect name for the perfect dish.  They are very easy, with modest ingredients that you will probably always have on hand.  You need one large baking potato per person.  Rub them in olive oil, sprinkle the skin with coarse sea salt and puncture all over to avoid an explosion in your oven.  Roast at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly so you are able to handle them. Once cool, carefully cut the very top of the potato off.  Sprinkle this little yummy bit with pepper and enjoy before moving on to the next step.  This is the bonus for being the chef *wink*

Now you want to take a spoon or a large melon baller and very, very carefully scoop out the insides of the potato.  You don't want to remove too much, because you'll want the potato as part of your meal too.  But you will need room to crack your egg in.  Sprinkle the insides of the potatoes with salt and pepper and add a pat of butter.

What do you do with all that potato you just scooped out?  Save it to make Potato Puffs of course!

While you are roasting your potatoes fry up some bacon or sausage until crisp.  Allow to cool and then chop into pieces.  I used prosciutto since I had it on hand, but any breakfast meat would be good.  Now you want to add some of your yummy ingredients to the inside of the potato bowl, being careful to leave enough room for the egg.  For these potatoes I used prosciutto, chopped green onion, finely chopped fresh rosemary and shredded cheese.

Now very carefully break one egg into the center of each bowl.  Sprinkle with additional cheese, herbs and meat.  Place into a rimmed baking dish and return to the oven at 350 for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the whites of the egg have set and you have the yoke done to your liking.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bacon and Herb Quinoa

Quinoa, pronounced "keen-wah", is commonly considered a grain, but is actually the seed of the plant and is closely related to spinach and swiss chard- wild huh?!  It is thought to be one of the most "ancient" of all foods, "the gold of the Incas" which provided stamina to the warriors.  This "grain" is incredibly high in protein and is actually considered a "perfect protein" because it includes all 9 of the amino acids.  Making it great for people who suffer from migraines and diabetes.  Since the birth of my oldest son I am a Chronic-Daily-Headache (CDH) sufferer.  Meaning I have gotten a headache every single day for the past 4 years.  I also get a whopping migraine every now and then.  Not fun.  I take beta-blockers which help considerably, but do not rid me of them completely.   I am always looking for other ways to help ease the pain and make them more manageable.  So when I read about eating quinoa to help I thought well why on earth not!  Plus, who isn't looking for something other then rice or potatoes to have with your dinner....  I have only started adding it to my diet so I don't yet know how it will effect my headaches- I will report back in the future with my findings.  Hopefully this little guy will do some magic!

Quinoa has a wonderful nutty flavor, and can be eaten either cold or warm.  I tasted it for the first time over the summer at a wedding shower and really enjoyed it.  This was my first time making it at home.  I found it super simple and was a big hit all around.  Jackson, my four year old even loved it!  Score!

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Bacon and Herb Quinoa
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained (don't skip this step unless your Quinoa states that it has been pre-rinsed)
1 1/2 cups Chicken Stock (water my be used instead, but the stock gives a much richer flavor)
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
4 scallions, chopped into 1/4-inch lengths
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 strips of bacon, chopped
a few dashes of extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and stock; bring to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until all liquid is absorbed and the grains are translucent, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, pick parsley, oregano and thyme leaves from stems, chop leaves coarsely, and set aside.

Chop bacon into bite sided pieces and saute over medium heat until browned. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. In the same saute pan that you cooked the bacon, remove all but 1 tablespoon of grease and add your onions. Saute until translucent and just beginning to caramelize.

Toss the quinoa with the olive oil, chopped green onions, butter, and chopped herbs and mix until combined. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, top with cooked bacon. Garnish with a sprig of fresh parsley and serve.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fridays, Feasting With Friends- Featuring Amelia Sawyer

"One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends."
~Laurie Colwin 'Home Cooking'

Amelia Sawyer

Today's guest on Fridays, Feasting with friends is Cleveland native Amelia Sawyer.  She is the author of the wonderful, and very often, hilarious blog Chefs Widow.  Have you read this gem yet?  If not, oh please go add it to your reader.  It will bring a smile to your face for sure!  Along with her husband and Chef Jonathon Sawyer, they are the proud owners of The Greenhouse Tavern, named "Top 10 Best New Restaurant in America" by Bon Appetit Magazine.  Scott and I dined here for my birthday and our first date out since having Owen and immediately we fell in love with the place.  The atmosphere is cozy and warm and the food is not only local and fully sustainable, but to-die-for delicious.  It was a romantic evening and I am so thankful to these two for giving Cleveland such a special place.  We've decided that it is our definite new favorite restaurant and can't wait to go back and try out the new menu (it changes regularly per what is in season). Amelia is not only a writer and restauranteur, but also the mother of two beautiful children, Catcher and Louisiana.  These two are some of the cutest kids I have seen!

Their family is incredibly busy and I am very honored that Amelia was so lovely about doing this interview for me!  Thank you so much Amelia- you are a doll!  I can't wait to pop over and say thanks in person.  So for todays Fridays, Feasting with Friends I am proud to introduce you to Amelia Sawyer.

What is your favorite thing to cook?
right now I am really into two things: homemade veggie and potato chips using root vegetables and potatoes.  We have been getting lots of root vegetables from our CSA, Chef's Garden- radishes, sweet potatoes, etc. so they make great potato chips!  The second thing is condiments.  Most recently I made a batch of ketchup and next up is mayo.  My husband of course knows how to make these, but I want to learn myself.  

How about your least favorite thing to cook?

fish probably.  I don't cook it; I don't know when it is done.  I don't know when it is not done.  So I just don't do it!

What is your favorite local restaurant and what is one you are dying to try out?

Mine!  After that I would say Lolita.  I actually would love to try out Stone Mad with Eric Williams from Momocho.  He is helping to redesign their menu.  But I want to try it out in the summer because their patio is rockin'. 

Music and food go together so beautifully. You are hosting a dinner party, what would be on your playlist?

The Troggs- With a Girl Like You
Stephanie Says- The Velvet Underground
Home- Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zero's
Windowsill- Arcade Fire
Rumour Has It- Adele

What would you choose to be your last meal on earth?
I would choose to have a giant Italian feast cooked by my husband.

What are you currently reading?
I just finished reading Highlights Magazine with my daughter..... honestly I am going to be going on a cruise in a few days so I have been reading a book about all the different ports for the cruise line.

What is your favorite Kitchen Gadget?
Right now the mandolin for the potato chips and dehydrated veggie chips.  It's awesome.

beautiful potatos from Chef's Garden sliced and ready to become chips!

Do you have a signature go-to dish?
Polenta with tomato sauce.  It's easy and my grandma taught me how to cook it.  It is a staple in Italy so I grew up eating it.  My kids love it plus it is a nice, healthy go-to dish.  It's so versatile!

What is your favorite thing about the Cleveland area?
Probably the culinary scene, it's pretty rockin'!  Yeah, it's pretty fantastic!   We are in the spotlight nationally for our culinary achievements.  My generation is choosing to stay here in Cleveland and help to rebuild the city and make it livable.

Do you have a favorite meal from your childhood and do you cook it today?
I was so excited when I read this question because I have a story for you.... As a child my mom would make pimento and cheese sandwiches on white bread.  It was just cheese, pimentos, mayo and salt and pepper on white, but I loved it!  I haven't had white bread in ages, but I was recently thinking about how I loved this sandwich.  Well just recently I was eating at Greenhouse with my daughter Louisiana, and on the menu I see a Pimento and Cheese sandwich!  My husband had no idea that this was an old favorite of mine.  Of course I ordered it.  It was totally different, served on a baguette with roasted red peppers- but it was great.

Top 3 Movies of all time?
Sound of Music
The Descent

What was your happiest moment in life?
I absolutely can't pick just one. There are a few.  Having both of my kids!  The best and the happiest following birth was when Jonathon called me to say he won Food & Wine "Best New Chef". It made the past 10 years validated. We worked really hard. I was so, so proud.

Where do you do your grocery shopping?
We get a veggie delvery from Chef's Garden from Milan, OH. They just started this pretty amazing home delivery through FedEx. We are 90% process free, so our staples we get from Farmer Jones Farm or the restaurant. If I don't get it there I go to Heinen's and seasonally I like to go to the farmers markets for our meats. It is too hard to try and go there with young kids and strollers in the winter, so I save it for the summer.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
Pizza! I can't go to New York anymore because all I eat is pizza.  Motorino is the best ever.  I also love Frannie's from our old neighborhood. Love, love, love.

Can you tell me about what you are most proud of?
My life. Is that too vague?! But I love it! We aren't normal, but it's awesome and I am proud of it. We take lots of risks and out of all that we have fun.

Do you have Culinary Resolutions that you would like to accomplish this year?
I want to learn to cook and perfect Pho Bao.

One word that best describes you is: Passionate

Print this Recipe

Fromage Blanc
Recipe by Chef Jonathon Sawyer of The Greenhouse Tavern

2 qt. Fresh Whole Milk (raw milk if possible, if not get organic and pasture fed)
1 cup Heavy Cream (local and pasture fed)
1 lemon juiced & peeled
Salt, to taste
1 Large Raw Globe Artichoke Split

In a large, heavy-bottomed, stainless steel saucepan; bring milk, lemon peel, artichoke, and cream to a scold (around 165 degrees). This should be done over medium heat, stirring the liquid only a few times with a flat wooden spatula (approximately 15 minutes). Pull saucepan off the heat and season with lemon juice and salt to taste. Allow to rest and return to room temperature over 15 minutes.

At this point the milk mixture should be separated (resembling curds & whey). Set up a cheese straining station with a colander or china cap line with double ply cheese cloth (or a coffee sock). Carefully ladle the curds & whey from the saucepan into cheese straining container. Allow hanging until desired texture is reached (30 minutes for cottage cheese like texture, 3 hours for ricotta like texture, & 24 hours refrigerated for true Fromage Blanc texture.)

Finish fromage blanc by whipping with a high quality extra virgin olive oil and fresh picked thyme.

Serve with grilled bread.

Finished fromage blanc can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Can also be served w/ jellies, honey, and fruit compote as a breakfast or dessert.

Winner of the "Best of the Best" Cookbook and Vintage Inspired Apron!!

And now for the moment that all of you have been waiting for... 
drum roll please......

The winner of the cookbook Best of the Best Vol. 11: The Best Recipes from the 25 Best Cookbooks of the Year by the editors of Food and Wine Magazine and the vintage inspired apron is......

True Random Number Generator  100Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Shari said...
My favorite recipe is definitely Homemade Oreos. oh. My.

Congratulations entry #100- Shari!  You are my winner!  I have emailed you and now you have 48 hours to get back with me to claim your prize or I will have to choose another winner.  I hope you enjoy your goodies!

Thank you to everyone for entering my very first giveaway!  I hope you all stay around and have some fun in My Retro Kitchen with me!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Garlic and Rosemary Crusted Pork Tenderloin

This meat was incredibly flavorful and very juicy.  We loved it and will definitely make it this way again.  I served the pork alongside the Petite Mushroom Terrines and a salad for a perfect dinner.  

Print this Recipe

Garlic and Rosemary Crusted Pork Tenderloin
4 large garlic cloves, pressed
4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 2 1/2-pound boneless pork loin roast, well trimmed

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 13 x 9 x 2-inch roasting pan with foil. Mix first 4 ingredients in bowl. Rub garlic mixture all over pork. Place pork, fat side down, in prepared roasting pan.

Roast pork 30 minutes. Turn roast fat side up. Roast until thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 155°F., about 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.

Pour any juices from roasting pan into small saucepan; set over low heat to keep warm. Cut pork crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Arrange pork slices on platter. Pour pan juices over. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired.

Recipe from epicurious

**Today is the last day to enter my giveaway for a free cookbook Best of the Best Vol. 11: The Best Recipes from the 25 Best Cookbooks of the Year by the editors of Food and Wine Magazine and a vintage inspired apron! Click {here} to enter! ** 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Petite Mushroom Terrines

These little beauties are earthy, satisfying, and just bursting with flavor.  Baked in ramekins they are the perfect size for a side dish. But I think the next dinner party I host I may make them using my mini-muffin tin for tiny, one-bite appetizers.  The way the earthiness of the mushrooms blend with the garlic, herbs and green onions, they just taste so springy to me.  Makes me want to put my Wellies on and go splash in some puddles.

Print this Recipe

Petite Mushroom Terrines
2 Tablespoons Canola or grapeseed oil
8 oz cremini or porcini mushrooms, chopped
8 oz white mushrooms, chopped
2 Tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon heavy cream or half and half
1 egg
2 egg yokes (don't throw away those egg whites!  save them for a healthy scramble in the morning)
1/2 bunch fresh chives (or 4 scallions), chopped
1 Tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter or oil 4 ovenproof ramekins or 4 muffin tin cups.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and saute all the mushrooms for 5 minutes.  Increase the heat to medium-high, swirl in the butter and saute the mushrooms until the moisture evaporates and the mushrooms are lightly browned.  Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the cream or half and half, egg, egg yokes, chives, and parsley together.  Stir in the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.  Pour into the prepared ramekins and bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.  Run a knife around the inside of each terrine and unmold.  Serve at room temperature.

I served these along side a Garlic and Rosemary Crusted Pork Tenderloin and the flavors were wonderful together.  Pork recipe to follow tomorrow!

**ONLY TWO DAYS LEFT!  Don't forget to enter my Giveaway for a free cookbook Best of the Best Vol. 11: The Best Recipes from the 25 Best Cookbooks of the Year by the editors of Food and Wine Magazine and a vintage inspired apron! Click {here} to enter! **


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