Saturday, February 27, 2010

Random questions with Jessica

This is going to be one of those very rare non-cooking related posts--I will warn you in advance!

I'm behind in posting again so keep checking back--I have at least 3 blog posts to go.

First off, if anyone has any new questions to ask me, please ask! I'll add the questions to my FAQ's if they are TJOC related.

I have hit 50 followers on TJOTJOC which blows my mind! And I would love to know more about you guys. I'm going to randomly answer some questions and I love you to answer them too. When I hit 200 followers on Facebook or 100 followers on the blog, I will give away another copy of TJOC.

1. Favorite restaurant of all time: Russian Tea-time in Chicago. I've actually managed to drag almost all of my friends. Their black currant tea is amazing and all of their sugar cubes are made in-house!

2. Favorite chain restaurant: The Melting Pot. Since they are franchises, they are all slightly different, but I love them. I love fondue and I think TMP is fun. In fact, we are heading there for Josh's birthday tonight!

3. Favorite food of all time: Always a difficult question. My grandmother's ravioli was so good it could run you for all other ravioli. She also made amazing Easter bread.

4. Favorite comfort food: As an Italian-American, I love pasta and it absolutely is comfort food. I also love tortilla soup with homemade tortilla chips and I make a terrific rice pudding. Stuffed artichokes--my grandmother always made them and they remind me of her. I make them pretty frequently.

5. Least favorite spice: I recently learned that I don't like saffron, which is just as well since it's so expensive. I also don't like cinnamon, which puts me in a rare group of people.

6. Tea or coffee? Pepsi or coke? I love tea (hot and cold, green, black, or herbal, tea in all forms). I don't drink coffee. I love Coke (the drink, not the drug) and can't stand Pepsi--it's just too sweet for me.

7. Favorite candy? I'm not big into candy, believe it or not. I LOVE chocolate covered cashews. I also love homemade marshmallows.

8. Favorite alcoholic drink? I love Bloody Marys. I love Chocolatinis. Beerwise, I love fruit lambics, espacially Lindeman's Lambic Cassis. I love fruit beers like Abita Strawberry or Leinie's Berryweiss.

9. Have you ever hosted a meal for more than 6 people? Well, sort of. This Thanksgiving I cooked about 80% of the food and we had 6 people, which is the most I have ever cooked for. It was at mom's house, so I didn't officially host it. I'm looking forward to one day hosting a dinner party!

10. Do you prefer baking or cooking? Baking, absolutely. I like measuring and I like precision (I am a scientist after all). I love making candy, which is the ultimate in precision cooking. I don't like baking at high-altitude because half the time my food doesn't turn out right which is very frustrating.

Now your turn! You don't have to answer all the questions and if you ask new ones, I will edit the post to answer them :)

Add to Technorati Favorites

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Marinated goat cheese with fresh thyme (p. 77) and Pizza with mushroom, sausage, and pepperoni (p. 191)

Another short post!

Marinated goat cheese with fresh thyme (p. 77) has been on the randomly selected list for a while and I've been meaning to make it for at least a year. I don't know what my problem is but it's just such a boring recipe.

Honestly, you mix olive oil and chopped thyme and plop some goat cheese into it:

Honestly, I don't think it's enough marinade. Either that or my bowl was too big--but it was a small Tupperware container! It was good but boring. I like goat cheese so I was happy with it but there was absolutely nothing special about this recipe and I can't see myself making it again.

I've had good luck with TJOC's pizza before so I was looking forward to Pizza with mushroom, sausage, and pepperoni (p. 191). There is nothing new or novel about this recipe but everything doesn't need to be new or novel.

I buy my pizza dough at Whole Foods. It comes in a tub and is so convenient. I stretched it and brushed it down with olive oil:

I browned some Italian sausage in a pan-I was supposed to drain it but there was almost no fat. Bizarre.

I assembled the pizza--spread some canned pizza sauce onto the dough, added the sausage and pepperoni, and then added some mushrooms. Into the oven the pizza went:

And the pizza was done!

It was delicious! So beautiful. This is the kind of pizza that is so good, fast, and easy that you wonder why there is such a booming frozen pizza industry. Honestly, if you live near a place that sells pizza dough, make your own pizza! It's so much better than frozen! And pepperoni, sausage, and mushrooms is a classic pizza combination for a reason--they go together so well.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Delicious dinner at Moe's Original BBQ!

I'm not the kind of blogger that gets invited to press events or gets sent free stuff to try out and talk about. I think the companies like people who are far more foodie than I am for those sorts of things. So when I got invited to a press event by Moe's Original Barbeque I was extremely excited.

And the food on the menu looked delicious:

From Drop Box

When we walked in, I thought the place was adorable. I have this strange aversion to eating in places that look like fast food joints--if it sets off that trigger, I get the food and take it home. Sometimes BBQ restaurants set me off but this place was really cute and easy to eat in:

When we got there, the menu was even more extensive than what had been emailed to me! The owner invited us to help ourselves to some spinach dip with carrot sticks and celery as an appetizer. It was really good but most places have pretty good spinach dip:

And they offered us beer!

Obviously, I live in Fort Collins, so Fat Tire is offered everywhere (and is what Josh drank) but I was happy to see the Schlitz! This will probably get me driven out of FoCo but I don't love New Belgium as much as everyone else so it was nice to have some choices that aren't frequently offered here.

I ordered chicken wings with summer squash casserole and macaroni and cheese as the sides.

The chicken wings had a really terrific sweet flavor but were pretty dry:

I don't think I would order them again. On the other hand the sides:

were DELICIOUS! The summer squash casserole was obviously homemade and had a nice creamy texture that reminded me of the version I make. Same with the mac and cheese--it didn't come out of a box and had a nice tangy cheese flavor. So good!

Josh got pulled pork with the mac and cheese and creamed spinach:

The pulled pork was tender and flavorful. The creamed spinach was perfect--just enough cream to showcase the spinach, rather than to hide it (the way it should be). I didn't love the cornbread but Josh did--I thought it was dry but he found it perfect.

Since it was Josh's birthday I got us two little desserts:

The owner heard that it was Josh's birthday and showed up with two shots of whiskey:

Uh oh! I hate taking shots but I felt like I should since it was Josh's birthday! ::shiver:: I still hate taking shots. It was a great gesture though!

One of the desserts was banana pudding which was TERRIFIC. It had a nilla wafer on the top and bottom and was absolute perfection. I could have eaten five of them. The other was a Nutter Butter Icebox Pie--it tasted EXACTLY like Nutter Butters! Yum!

From the press kit:

The Beginnings

Moe's Original Bar B Que was founded by three Bama boys: Mike Fernandez, Ben Gilbert, and Jeff Kennedy. After meeting at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, they instantly became friends and had a mutual interest in all things Southern: BBQ, live music, college football, and whiskey.

In 1988, Mike hooked up with Moses Day in Tuscaloosa and began learning to fire roast meats. When Moses fired up his backyard barrel pit, everyone in T-Town knew where to go. The boys were lucky to learn from Moses and his distinct style that makes up Moe's original flavor of BBQ. The boys loved the mountains and eventually they all landed in Vail, Colorado where they each refined their cooking skills. By using fruit wood to smoke the meats and hitting it with two sauces, they knew they had something special. Moe's Original BBQ smokes all meats fresh daily and unlike other BBQ joints, they don't stop there. They prepare eight to ten Southern style side dishes everyday with recipes derived from mothers, grandmothers, nannies and housekeepers.

Moe's Original BBQ is a Southern soul food revival. Working diligently as a team, Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que serves up a unique, all things Southern, bar-b-que experience.

And I believe that they are using actual recipes instead of frozen food from Cisco. I really recommend trying Moe's if you get the chance. I'll be going back to gorge myself on sides and desserts--and a nice cold Schlitz.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Chicken and Rice (Arroz con pollo) (p. 435)

I learned a lesson while making Chicken and Rice (Arroz con pollo) (p. 435) but I'll get to that at the end of the post.

The first step of the recipe was to brown some chicken thighs and remove them from the pot but since that's essentially the first step of every TJOC chicken recipe, I didn't think I needed to take pictures of it for the 40th time. Next step--I sauteed a ton of onions and some ham in some olive oil.

I added two cups of long-grain white rice and coated it with fat:

To the mixture I added garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper and cooked it for another minute. I then added chicken stock, oregano, and saffron (which was optional).

Saffron always amazes me. It's sooo expensive. It's expensive because it takes about 150 flowers to yield one ounce of saffron. ONE OUNCE! That's amazing.

And it looked like this:

I added the chicken and simmered it for about twenty minutes before adding peas and green olives:

It was cooked a while longer (the recipe says 10 more minutes but the chicken as nowhere near done [use your meat thermometer! Food poisoning sucks!] at that point). And it was done!

How was it? This is one of those recipes that I can't judge well. First off, I'm not totally on-board with TJOC's love of leaving the chicken on the bone in recipes like this. I find it really annoying to have to shred the meat when it's in the midst of all that rice--it's messy and annoying. Second, I now know that I hate saffron. Really hate it. Like, I had a couple bites and couldn't force any more of it down. I hope to limit my saffron consumption, which shouldn't be a problem, considering how expensive it is. Josh wasn't in love with the recipe either, so we had a lot of wasted food. The recipe wasn't difficult, though, and if you like saffron, it would probably be a hit in your household.

So I can add saffron to cinnamon in my hated spice category. What is on your list?

Add to Technorati Favorites

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Coconut rice (p. 357), Meatloaf II (p. 512), and Lamb curry with tomato (p. 497)

Sorry regular readers! I've gone on a two month long no-posting break for some reason. I apologize and promise not to do it again! I haven't been cooking enough, especially if I hope to hit my 201 recipes in 2010. I've been desperately working on my dissertation research so I can get the heck out of school! My graduation party in May should be a great time to knock out some recipes.

I did a bunch of cooking in mid-February (all on the same day but I'm going to spread out the posts). Coconut rice (p. 357) would have been a really easy recipe if I didn't live in Colorado, where rice rarely turns out.

I brought coconut milk, water, jasmine rice, ginger, and salt to a boil in a saucepan, stirred once, covered, and cooked over low heat. I found the directions confusing--only stir the ingredients once? Doesn't that mean there will probably be big pockets of salt? I cooked it for about 25 minutes and sprinkled some toasted coconut on the top.

It was okay--I didn't really know what to eat it with. It was only mildly coconut-y until I sprinkled the toasted coconut on the top. In my opinion it was too coconut-y. I like coconut but it always reminds me of suntan lotion, which isn't very appetizing. I know someone recommended this recipe to me--what did you eat it with?

I had high hopes for Meatloaf II (p. 512) because Meatloaf I was absolutely delicious. The recipe was totally different. I mixed ground beef, horseradish, chili sauce, salt, pepper, diced bacon, chopped onions (a TON of onion), cracker crumbs (an entire cup!), and an egg with my hands (does anyone else like this part? I always think it's fun to smash the food).

I then shaped it into a loaf and rolled it in more cracker crumbs:

And poured some chicken stock in the bottom of the pan. This recipe isn't made in a loaf pan, so it's probably lower fat (the fat drains out). I baked it for about an hour and it was done:

This was a very very strange meatloaf. Josh really liked it, I wasn't as sure. The flavors were stranger, there were WAY too many onions, and the bacon didn't really crisp. I liked the crackers because I like some crisp on meatloaf. I don't see myself making this recipe again, especially when there is a delicious meatloaf recipe right above it. And there really wasn't a big enough meat:everything else ratio, so the meatloaf was crumbly. Plus I'm kind of turned-off by all that grease on the bottom of the pan.

Those of you who know me in real life know what an enormous geek I am. A huge geek. In just about every way (I don't play WoW or DnD but that's about it). I'm going to out myself to the rest of you now. I love those stupid Facebook games--MafiaWars, SororityLife, CafeWorld, etc. When I'm playing CafeWorld, I always read off what I'm "cooking" to Josh and he tells me what he would order. Recently, he's been "ordering" the lamb curry. So I thought it would be funny to make Lamb curry with tomato (p. 497). We can LARP CafeWorld!

The recipe looks so complex and is actually really simple.

The first step is to coarsely chop a 28-oz can of tomatoes, reserving the juice. Make sure you do this on a cutting board with troughs, otherwise you are going to have a HUGE mess.

The next step is to make your own curry mixture--I ground cumin, coriander, garlic, fresh ginger, turmeric, and ground red pepper in my spice grinder. It smelled delicious!

I sauteed an onion in some vegetable oil and added the spice mixture to it:

Some of the tomatoes and the tomato juice were added to the onion mixture, along with lamb stew meat.

I added the rest of the tomatoes and tomato juice:

I removed the lamb and cooked the liquid down until it was thickened. And it was done!

It was really good! It smelled absolutely amazing. My only issue with the recipe is that it really doesn't make that much--it says 4 servings but that would really be 4 small servings. It actually got even better when held overnight--the flavors melded perfectly. This would be one of those recipes that would be easy to fool around with too--it would be great with pork or turkey (or even tofu) in my opinion.

I promise I am catching up on my blogs so be sure to check back!
Add to Technorati Favorites

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Buttermilk pancakes (p. 644)

I needed to make plenty of food for the week. I don't know how I feel about the nocturnal schedule I'm currently on. I get a lot of work done during the night. I go into the office from about midnight until about seven am when it's entirely empty. There is nothing online to distract me. And I work, work, work. The problems with the schedule are that it's really difficult to cook because Josh is either sleeping (and I don't want to stomp around in the kitchen right above the bed) or I just woke up. It's also difficult to run errands to places like the bank because they are only open during my sleeping time!

So I've been trying to cook a lot all at once so it can just be heated up. And I thought Buttermilk pancakes (p. 644) fit the bill. Buttermilk pancakes are essentially the same as pancakes but with buttermilk instead of regular milk, a little more baking soda, and a little less baking powder.
Dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in the other:

Mix them together, being careful not to overbeat:

And cook in a medium pan until bubble start to rise to the top, flip, and finish cooking.

Delicious! I really liked this recipe. The buttermilk lent a nice slightly sour flavor to the pancakes and they were light and fluffy. I made a big pile of them and then heated them up over the week. I like to make little pancakes instead of big ones.

I will absolutely make this recipe again--I like pancakes and they are so easy and fast.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chicken paprika (Paprikas csirke) (p. 431)

First things first--I was fooling around on the TJOC website because I seemed to remember that Chicken paprika (Paprikas csirke) (p. 431) was one of the recipes with an error in it and I wanted to know what it was. While on the website, I found that there are 204 TJOC recipes online! I never give recipe details because I figure you should buy your own copy of TJOC and it seems like plagiarism but if they are posting some of them online, I should link to it in the blog post! So I'm going to go into old blogs and post the links. Considering a lot of people stumble on this blog while looking for a recipe, I think it will be a nice addition to TJOTJOC.

And I was right--Chicken paprika is one of the recipes with a mistake. And it's a big mistake. But I'll get to that later.

The recipe says to add the chicken to the skillet and cook until golden:

I then removed the chicken and added three cups of onions, cooking them slowly until they start to caramelize:

The recipe calls for a quarter cup of sweet paprika--that is a LOT of paprika, almost an entire little canister. I used Penzey's sweet paprika, which was recommended to me by my friend Rachel, who loves it. I also add minced garlic, a bay leaf, and some salt and pepper.

***THE MISTAKE--the first printing of the 2006 edition doesn't include a cup and a half of chicken stock and it should. If I didn't include the chicken stock, the recipe would have burned and been a disaster. Make sure to modify your copy of TJOC***

I added the chicken, reduced the heat, and cooked until the chicken was done (use your meat thermometer, don't guess):

The chicken was removed and the sauce was boiled until it was almost pasty (a real judgement call--I didn't want it to burn so I just boiled it for a while and then figured it was good enough). I whisked in some sour cream and boiled it until it was thickened:

The recipe says it's only 4 servings but I would say it was considerably more--more like 6-8 servings. We ate it for about a week.

This was absolutely amazing! It was strongly flavored but not spicy--perfect for those of you who like mild but flavorful food (it seems like an oxymoron). It heated up really well. And the sauce was the best part--I wish it made a lot more sauce because it would be great to dip bread in. The one change I would make is to take the skin off of the chicken--it just got soggy and wasn't very good. The thighs were nice and juicy.

MAKE SURE YOU MAKE THE CHANGE TO THE RECIPE! This recipe would be an utter failure if I made it like it was printed in my copy of TJOC. It would have burned and been disgusting. So make the change, now!

Add to Technorati Favorites

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New Orleans bread pudding (p. 822) and Southern whiskey sauce (p. 852)

As I mentioned in the last post, I decided to have a New Orleans tribute day which included jambalaya and New Orleans bread pudding (p. 822) with a Southern whiskey sauce (p. 852).

I am an experienced bread pudding baker--I love bread pudding and frequently make it. In fact, I'm the second generation of people who love bread pudding--my mom and dad used to make it from leftover donuts all the time in college. So the fact that this recipe confused me is really impressive--I don't know if I would have guessed my way through the directions correctly if I had never made bread pudding before.

The recipe says to cut French or Italian bread into half inch slices and then arrange the slices almost upright in tightly spaced rows.

What does that mean?

Usually the loafs aren't sliced--was I supposed to leave it in a loaf?

I figured no, I would slice it one way, and then slice it into strips:

I think that was correct, since the recipe turned out well. I sprinkled dried cranberries over the bread (I used cranberries instead of raisins because I like them more).

I mixed eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large bowl until frothy:

I poured the liquid over the bread:

And let it soak for an hour. I then baked it for about an hour until the top was puffy and lightly browned:

And onto the sauce--

I melted butter in a small saucepan and then stirred in sugar, bourbon (Maker's Mark!), water, nutmeg, and salt). I used TJOC's trick for adding in an egg--I added hot sauce to a beaten egg and then added the mixture back to the sauce. I figure they want you to do it that way so you don't end up with scrambled eggs in your sauce.

I then cooked it for about a minute and set it aside for an hour (conveniently the amount of time the bread pudding needs to be in the oven):

I poured it over the bread pudding and it was done:

Not only was it good but it knocked two recipes off some of my more-neglected chapters (desserts and frozen desserts and sweet sauces). The bread pudding was light and fluffy, with a nice bite from the dried cranberries. The whiskey sauce was delicious but STRONG. I don't recommend bringing a serving of this to work--you would smell like you took a couple whiskey shots at work. The bread pudding kept really well, too. In fact, I think it got better over time, as the flavors melded.

Add to Technorati Favorites