Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Brioche Rolls

To say that the culinary undertaking for Christmas this year was extensive would be an understatement.  (Prime rib with bacon porcini sauce, truffle brownies, and homemade ice cream if you're out of the loop, thus far.)

I figured that my go-big-or-go-home mentality shouldn't get in my way, so we had brioche rolls and caesar salad (more on that on Friday) too.  I had never made brioche before, in any form, but this recipe from my collection of Bon Appetit mags (going on 3 years worth) seemed like a good place to start.

I have never dealt with such sticky, buttery dough in my life; it was challenging.  And time consuming.  But like any good wannabe chef, I soldiered on.

I applied ample amounts of butter to my stone muffin pan, to be sure that the brioche rolls wouldn't stick.  As it turns out, the rolls themselves were so buttery I needn't have worried.  Better safe than sorry, though!

A little egg wash and a sprinkling of course kosher salt made all the difference.  These rolls were buttery, sweet, salty, and AMAZING.  If this is the reason I gained weight over the holidays, then I'm not mad at 'em.

What's not to love?!

Valentino via Bergdorf Goodman

I'll say it again . . . what's not to love.  If sweet, salty, and buttery applied to a flat, these would be them.  Valentino may call them Rockstud flats, but they will be known forever in my heart as brioche flats.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Easiest Prime Rib

Way back in 2010, I attempted a prime rib for the first time, for Christmas dinner.  It was fine.  I overcooked it.  But it was fine.  This year (or, now, last year!) I was determined to do better.

The first step, of course, was to make a rub.  I used the following recipe (originally found here):

2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

While the recipe said to only use a couple of tablespoons for a five pound roast, I used all of it (on my five and a half pound roast, which sat for about an hour until it was room temperature).

I had my butcher cut the roast off of the bone, then tie it back on, for optimal flavor.  I also decided to roast my prime rib in the big ass turkey roaster I bought for Thanksgiving.  It worked quite nicely!  

First, I put the prime rib in the roaster (preheated to 375) and let it roast for one hour.  Then I turned it off, and let it sit for 3 hours.  As the instructions indicated, I DID NOT OPEN THE LID!  When we were getting ready for the big feast, I turned the roaster back on to 375 and let it cook for another half an hour.  I let it stand while I finished up the sides and that was that!

It turned out much better than the first time, for sure.

I served the roast with this porcini and bacon sauce.  Please forgive the lack of pictures of the sauce, they weren't blog-worthy.  I honestly don't know that this could have turned out any better.  It was rich and flavorful, and perfect for Christmas!

When I see a prime rib, with its dark brown exterior and warm, reddish-pink center, it's hard not to think of chocolate brown Louboutins.

via Saks

The fact that these are also suede is not lost on me.  Meaty.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Favorite Things Thursday: Any New Books?

As someone who spends most of her time in either (a) the kitchen or (b) the library, I experience a great deal of joy when the two intersect.  One of my colleagues introduced me to Any New Books? and my life has never been the same.

Using the site, you can set up preferences to receive weekly emails about the latest and greatest titles in that subject area.  I have my account set up to receive boat-loads of alerts, but my favorites are in Cooking, Food, & Wine and Health, Mind, & Body.  I've found some great cookbooks in these weekly emails, and definitely recommend them for anybody who loves books and cooking!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Truffle Brownies

The F had two choices, this year, for Christmas dessert:  caramel custard with homemade whipped cream or truffle brownies with homemade ice cream.  Obviously you know which one he chose, based on my inability to blog in order.

And despite the fact that there are no pictures or personal details of the F on this blog, I think we all know he's a chocoholic.  I used this recipe, from the July 2010 issue of Bon Appetit (foregoing the walnuts because I do not care for walnuts in my brownies).

These brownies are RICH, peeps.  A chocolate force to be reckoned with.

I chose to bake my brownies in a pie plate and invert them onto make cake stand, because I liked the presentation.  The ganache slid down the edges like slime on the head of a celebrity at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards.

I was thrilled that my new camera seemed to capture the rich fudginess.  Too bad these pictures aren't scratch and sniff.

A warm, gooey brownie calls for warm (gooey?) boots.

Golden Goose via Barneys

If these aren't the shoe equivalent to a decadent brownie, I don't know a pair exists!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Quickie Friday: Grilled Tilapia Packets

Blah blah I hate fish blah blah.  In an attempt to make fish (a) easy and (b) cooked somewhere other than my kitchen, I threw a bunch of stuff on a piece of foil and threw it on the grill.

For the sake of those of you who like tilapia, here is the recipe:

4 tilapia filets
2 jalapenos, sliced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 zucchini, shredded
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 cup whole kernel corn (I used frozen corn that i thawed before I put it in the packet)
4 large sheets of aluminum foil

Place a tilapia filet atop each sheet of foil, then season with the chili powder, salt, and pepper. Place a layer of jalapeno slices on each filet, followed by an even amount of the remaining ingredients.  Seal the foil packets tightly, then place them on a grill over medium high heat for approximately 10 minutes. 

That's it!  I served the tilapia with a side of spicy quinoa and black bean salad.  It was great, as fish goes.

And these are great, as cheap boots go.  Thank you, H&M!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Some time ago, the F got me the ice cream attachment for my beloved KitchenAid Classic Plus Stand Mixer, and it changed my life.  Not in any cerebral way, just in the way that now I can eat homemade ice cream, a joy which I had rarely experienced in years prior, and certainly not ever experienced in my own kitchen.

Homemade ice cream is easy.  It takes time, yes, but there is very little skill involved.  Very little skill and a lot of egg yolks.

I pulled this recipe for standard vanilla ice cream right from my KitchenAid Best-Loved Recipes cookbook (and added a little extra vanilla):

2 1/2 cups half and half
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

Place egg yolks and sugar in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and wire whip to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 30 seconds, or until well blended and slightly thickened.

Continuing on Speed 2, very gradually add half-and-half (your eggs will curdle if you don't do this SLOWLY, peeps!!!); mix until blended. Return half-and-half mixture to medium saucepan; cook over medium heat until small bubbles form around edge and mixture is steamy, stirring constantly. Do not boil.

Transfer half-and-half mixture into large bowl; stir in whipping cream, vanilla, and salt. Cover and chill thoroughly, at least 8 hours.

Assemble and engage freeze bowl, dasher, and drive-body interface. Turn to STIR Speed (Speed 1). Using a container with a spout, pour mixture into freeze bowl. Continue on STIR (Speed 1) for 15 to 20 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Immediately transfer ice cream into serving dishes, or freeze in an airtight container.

I made the ice cream on Christmas Eve, and we had it on Christmas day with truffle brownies (more on those on Tuesday).  I had no idea that making plain old vanilla ice cream (my favorite, by the way) would be so easy and rewarding.  But I can tell you that I'll never go back to store-bought!

I am quite certain that a nude, leather, peep-toe pump is the shoe equivalent of classic vanilla ice cream.

 Jimmy Choo via Neiman Marcus

Because I am now making a habit out of homemade, classic vanilla ice cream, I may have to make a habit of these, as well.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Two Bean Sausage Chili

So what do you think of the blog's facelift?  I would love to hear from my readers; I think it's much more true to my personal style (black!  simple!  black!) and allows the food to be more of the focus.  I'm also going to work on better-incorporating the shoes into the post, by picking shoes that relate to the recipe at hand.  Ready? 

Two Bean Sausage Chili

1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can great northern beans (drained and rinsed)
1 lb hot ground sausage, browned
1 bottle beer of your choosing (can be substituted with water)
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes (I used "chili" tomatoes, that had chili powder added)
2 jalapenos, diced (seeds removed if you're afraid of the heat)
to taste:  white pepper, cayenne, salt, cumin, oregano, rosemary, chili powder, garlic

Dump EVERYTHING into the crockpot, turn the heat on low, and watch the magic happen!  Seriously, 6-7 hours on low (4-5 on high) and this chili will be ready for game day (Tuesday).

I top my chili with plenty of cheese and lots of finely-diced red onions.  Typically I add oyster crackers to the mix, as well, but we were fresh out and I didn't miss them.

Chili with a kick calls for shoes with a kick, don't you think?

Christian Louboutin via Barneys

If these don't fit the bill, I'm not sure there are a pair out there that do!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Quickie Friday: Cream Cheese & Jalapeno Stuffed Chicken

I am always looking for new things to do with chicken, especially during the week when I'm often pressed for time (and starving after a day in the library!).

For this recipe, combine:

6 oz. cream cheese (I used fat free)
2 green onions
2 large jalapenos
salt, pepper, and garlic to taste

Cut a large slit into the sides of four chicken breasts (be careful not to slice them all the way through) and spoon the cream cheese mixture into the chicken and use bamboo skewers (or kitchen twine) to secure the closures.

Pan-fry the chicken in a fat of your choosing (I used some of my compound butter) until it's browned on all size.  Then pop the frying pan in the oven for about 15 minutes (at 350 degrees). 

I served the chicken on top of 2 cups of white rice that I combined with one can of Rotel and shredded cheese.  Not the best picture, but it's an easy meal that can be thrown together in no time!

I have been on the hunt for some mid-heel pumps for quite some time (for the days when the library is REALLY crazy) without success.  Until now . . .

These are, of course, sold out in my size, so the search continues.  Do any of you have a mid-heel pump that you recommend?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Turkey Parmesan Meatballs

When my mother and aunt were in town, way back in October (where did the time . . . year! . . . go?) I decided to try my hand at a turkey parmesan meatball recipe of my own creation.  I am not going to lie, it turned out well. 

First up, the red sauce.  I started by sauteing a half cup of red onion in a little olive oil, then adding four cloves of minced garlic garlic once the onions became slightly translucent.  At that point, I added one 28 oz. can Cento tomatoes (whole), sugar (about 2 tablespoons), as well as oregano, basil, red pepper, salt, and pepper (to taste).

I crushed the tomatoes as the mixture simmered, to ensure a nice thick, rich sauce.  I then covered the sauce and set to work on my meatballs (first step, preheat the oven to 350 degrees).

1 lb. ground turkey
1 egg
1/2 c. parmesan
1/2 c. breadcrumbs
one medium red onion
1/4 c. chopped parsley
4 cloves garlic
To taste:  oregano, basil, red pepper, salt, pepper

Combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl and use your hands to combine well.  Shape the mixture into racquetball-sized meatballs.

I browned my meatballs as best I could on all sides.  And set them aside, momentarily, to drain any residual fat.  I poured a few large spoonfuls of my red sauce into a 9x13 baking dish, then placed the meatballs on top.

I poured the remainder of my sauce over the meatballs, and added a few slices of fresh mozzarella for extra credit (cheese never hurts, especially fresh mozzarella!).

After baking for about 20 minutes, I served the meatballs with some sauteed spinach and a mixture of orzo and shredded zucchini.

That photo does not do the meal justice.  The meatballs were filling, yet light, and the side dishes accompanied the cheesy flavor of the meatballs perfectly.

I think that these wedges would accompany my spring wardrobe nicely:

Pollini via Saks

I'm not familiar with Pollini, but at this price point and with shoes that are this gorgeous, I suspect we'll be great, lifelong friends. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

I still have a few posts to do with old photos, so bear with me . . .

I made this salted caramel pretzel bark as a treat to bring to our holiday luncheon at work.  A few people around campus know about the blog and my love of cooking (in heels!) so my bark was well-received!

I used the following recipe (retrieved and modified slightly from this recipe):

  • ½  bag of mini pretzel twists
  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup total)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups dark chocolate chips
  • course kosher salt
 Preheat your oven to 350, and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Throw down a single layer of pretzels.  In a saucepan (medium works best), melt the butter and brown sugar together until it is bubbly and thick.  Remove it from the heat and pour it over the pretzels.  It will not cover all of the pretzels!  (I was really concerned, at this point, but I threw it in the oven anyway, for 5 minutes).  After the caramel-oven phase, top the whole thing with chocolate chips and use a spatula to spread the chips out a little.  As the original recipe suggested, I put the pan back in the oven for about 5 minutes to ensure optimal meltage.  After five minutes, I gave the chocolate layer a sprinkle of course kosher salt, then put the whole thing in the freezer for 2 hours before breaking it up into bark and boxing it up!

I used slightly less chocolate (personal preference) and the bark was still plenty chocolate-y.  I also went with dark chocolate (again, personal preference) and it turned out wonderfully!

I failed to take photos of the finished, broken up product, but this was SO DELICIOUS (but slightly painful to break apart - I got caught on sharp pretzel edges once or twice).  And a huge hit at my holiday luncheon.  Mission:  Accomplished.

Another mission accomplished:  shoe success!

The F - who NEVER reads my blog, btw - tracked down the (sold out at Nordstrom) Cole Haan's I'd been eye-balling and surprised me with them for Christmas.  It's been a long while since I've snapped a pic of shoes on my very own feet, so here you go!  Messy desk and all!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Quickie Friday and Variations on a Theme: Festive Frittata

I am not ashamed to admit that frittatas are my fall-back dish when I have very little in the house, in terms of groceries.  I used more south-of-the-border flavors this time around, and it did not disappoint.

2 eggs plus 6 egg whites
olive oil
one small white onion, diced
one clove garlic, minced
one half yellow pepper, diced
cumin, white pepper, salt, cayenne pepper (to taste)
Mexican cheese, shredded (or other cheese of your choosing)
one avocado, sliced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Beat the eggs together and set aside.  Saute the onion, garlic, and yellow pepper over medium heat until softened, about 3 minutes, then add the seasonings.  Saute for an additional minute, then add the eggs.  Stir gently until the eggs start to set, 3-5 minutes, then top with your cheese and pop in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Pull the whole thing out of the oven, top with avocado, slice like a big delicious egg pie and enjoy!!!

While I like to try trends on my feet (why not!) I don't like to spend a lot of money.  The flatform trend that is all over the spring collections isn't my cup of tea.

These wedges, however, are flatform adjacent while still having an actual heel, and therefore worth a try.  Have you tried flatforms?  Love them or leave them?  Tell us in the comments!!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year, New Direction

Hey Peeps, happy 2013!

I am so thrilled to be back to blogging in the new year, and hope to have big things in store for the blog (as well as personally and professionally)!  One big change you're going to notice right away is that my pictures are better . . . why, you might ask?!

Because the F got me a new DSLR camera!  (The Nikon D3100 14.2MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens, to be exact).  I took TONS of pictures during my holiday forays into cooking WAY TOO MUCH, and I can't wait to share them with you!

In the mean time, I have a couple of old dishes to share, then it's off to the races.

I can't wait to share this year with you!