Saturday, September 26, 2009

My Kitchen

After carefully examining all of the storage space that my kitchen provided, I knew that I would not be able to sto-away all of my recipe books. I could leave them out, but only two of them are cute enough to be displayable. I knew I needed some sort of piece of furniture in the kitchen to house my goods.

I found this piece at the River Market Antique Mall. I was there looking for frames for my friend's baby shower and this beauty was sitting in the corner of the first floor just glowing. It was screaming, "I would look perfect in your kitchen! I could hold all of your cookbooks and recipes and still have two drawers as catch-alls! Don't you want me? I used to be a doctor's medicine cabinet- could I be any cooler?" I replied with a "cha-ching". It was a little pricey, but when you fall in love with something- you have to make some sacrifices. And I did. My kitchen is now complete.

Acqua Pazza

I love going through my recipe books on Sundays to see what I want to cook the upcoming week. Last weekend, I came across a recipe that I wrote down while watching Rachel Ray a couple of years ago. It was Red Snapper in Crazy Water (Acqua Pazza). I remembered her using anchovies to create the strong flavor in the soup and this intrigued me. I made sure I bought all of the ingredients at the store that day and was ready and excited to try this recipe.

· 2 1/2 lbs. of red snapper fillets with skin, cut into 3 inch chunks (I used sole fillets without skin and they worked fine.)
· salt and pepper
· 1 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
· 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
· tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
· 3 cloves garlic, crushed
· 1/2 jar flat anchovy fillets
· 1/2 cup of white wine
· 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
· 3 tbsp. capers
· 3 scallions, chopped
· 1 quart chicken stock
· fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
· crusty bread, for dipping

· Season fish fillets with salt, pepper, and seafood seasoning.
· Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
· Add red pepper flakes, garlic, and anchovies. Melt down the anchovies in the oil.
· Add fish fillets to pan skin side down, if the fish has skin, to crisp it. Turn and brown the fish for about 3 minutes.
· Add wine and de-glaze the pan. Then, add sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and scallions.
· Stir in chicken stock. Let all of the flavors simmer together in the soup for a few minutes.
· Serve fish in shallow bowls with plenty of broth. Garnish with parsley and plenty of crusty bread for dipping and dunking.

This dish was very surprising because of all of the flavor. I would have to say that the best part was dipping the bread in the broth. I made Parmesan garlic bread to dip. Don't let the anchovies intimidate you. They melted down perfectly and added a wonderful flavor. This would be a great meal to entertain with because it is super easy to make and you could make a huge pot of it. Paired with a salad, it would perfect.

I will say that when I make this next time, I will definitely add all of the sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and scallions when the soup is cooking. But, I might take them all out when getting ready to serve. The broth had so many chunks in it, that it would have been more enjoyable to get those flavors with out having to eat the source.


Friday, September 25, 2009

My New Spice Rack

I bought this old milk crate from a friend's garage sale a few months ago for two dollars and wasn't quite sure what to do with it. I have been antiquing since then and seen these same crates priced as high as $20. I got the steal! On the day we moved into our new house, my friend Lizzie stayed all day to help me get my kitchen in order. We came across this piece and she suggested I use it as a spice rack. I spray painted it white and ordered these little cannisters from Specialy Bottle. They were only 75 cents a piece. I think it turned out pretty cute and it goes well in my kitchen which is mint green and white with stainless appliances. I enjoy the little pops of color in each container. It was an easy project that added a whole lot of spice in my life.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Udon Miso Soup

A couple of weekends ago, after shopping at the River Market for fresh produce, I decided to drop by the Asian Market. If you can get past the heavy aroma of fish (I only breathe through my mouth), it can be quite an experience. There are ingredients there that you cannot find any place else and the prices are pretty hard to beat, as well. On this particular shopping trip, I picked up a few different packages of noodles; whole wheat, buckwheat, soba, and udon. I also grabbed a couple of varieties of mushrooms and tofu. They had frozen packages of shumai which I ended up taking to a friend's house that night. They were delicious little dumplings that only needed microwaving for prepping.

I couldn't wait to get my ingredients home and start cooking. I didn't know what I wanted to make while I was shopping, but I was inspired by a soup that JJ ate over Christmas last year in L.A., traditional Ramen. Reminisce with me. I didn't use pork belly or hard-boiled eggs, but the soup was pretty tasty. I decided to cook the udon noodles in a soup. They came with a miso seasoning packet, so the rest of the cooking was pretty much just figuring what else I wanted to go in the pot. I guess you could say it was a little more authentic version of Ramen Noodles. (you lived on them in college...) The udon noodles came already cooked and vacuum sealed. Udon is my favorite, because the noodles are so chunky.

· 1 full package of udon noodles with the flavoring packets
· 3 cups water
· 1 package of oyster mushrooms
· 1 package of enoki mushrooms
· 1 grated carrot
· 1 package of form tofu, sliced into cubes
· 2 green onions, sliced
· 3 tbsp. of soy sauce

· follow instructions on package to cook udon noodles.
· add in the remainder of the ingredients
· let simmer for about 10 minutes to let the flavors marry.
Use chopsticks for the noodles and a soon for the broth.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Julie and Julia

I am not sure about you... but since seeing the movie, Julie & Julia, I have been totally charged and inspired to cook (and blog about it). Every night that I have been home since seeing the movie, I have been in the kitchen cooking away.

I took away some "learnings" from the movie.

· Don't take yourself or life too seriously.
· Love is the best ingredient. (cheesy, but true)
· Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to error that counts.
· If you have passion for something, success will follow.
Boeuf Bourguignon looks like the most amazing dish!

If you have not seen this movie or read the book. I suggest you do. It is the most delicious treat of the summer!

Alaskan Halibut

I was so delighted when my friend, Linda, came back from a recent trip to Alaska and brought me back a fresh cut of Alaskan Halibut. She knows I love to cook and handed over a one pound cut of the fish. I think that must have been the sweetest and most thoughtful gift I have ever received! Linda caught the fish herself while in Homer, Alaska. The Halibut was about 35 to 40 pounds and was filleted right on the dock. It was then taken to a processing plant where it was cleaned and flash froze on the spot.

I kept the fillet in my freezer for a few days trying to decide the best way to cook it. It was a little intimidating because I wanted it to be perfect. Since it was so fresh, I decided to go simple and let the fish speak for itself. I put a little olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon, and frutti de mar seasoning on both sides of the fish and placed it in my grill pan just over medium heat.

The fish was succulent and mild, meaty yet flaky. It was absolutely delicious and the freshest fish I have ever cooked for myself.

Thanks, Linda!

The picture above was taken during her fishing excursion.
See the mountains in the background? Beautiful!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Kitchen

After moving into my new house only a few months ago, I have struggled with where and how to fill it up with things we like. I seem to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen, so I started there. The kitchen is probably the main reason I fell in love with the house in the first place. Its original farmhouse sink and wood counter tops, Viking stove, and slate floors make me want to put as much thoughtful detail into the rest of the house. It was a space I had dreamed about, never thinking I could afford. Let's just put it this way, I love love love my kitchen and I feel like I belong there.

The picture above is a little touch that I added to my favorite space after shopping at the River Market Antique Mall. I saw these acrylic letters in a large box in the back of the store and immediately thought of putting them in my kitchen.

Not that I need a reminder to do that, but I thought it was cute.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Time to Make The Donuts

I apologize for the light posting lately. It is not due to lack of cooking or lack of eating for that matter. A couple of weekends ago, I made homemade donuts for breakfast and surprised JJ in bed with them. It is a lot easier than it looks. I found the recipe in a Real Simple few years ago and remembered it because it was truly "real simple."

· tube of biscuits from the grocery store (Grands makes larger donuts)
· canola oil (or vegetable)

· cinnamon sugar

· Mix the cinnamon & the sugar together. Just under a 1/2 cup for one tube of biscuits.

· Pour the canola oil in a pan just covering the bottom of the pan over medium heat. I am not a big fan of frying because it is not healthy but mostly because hot oil in the kitchen scares me. But, for donuts, it is essential.

· Open of the tube of biscuits (which for me, is a daunting feat. I never know when it will pop and I do not like surprises.)
· Cut out the centers of the biscuits to create the donut shape. I use a pineapple corer. (Keep the centers- those will be your donut holes!)

· Put a few of the donut shaped biscuits in the pan when the oil has reached it's temp. They will cook fairly quick. You are going for a golden brown color and once one side has reached golden brown, flip the donut to cook the other side.
· Once your donuts are cooked in the oil, take them out of the pan and place them on a plate layered with paper towels. This will absorb the extra oil.

· Then, dip your cooked donuts in the cinnamon sugar mixture and place on a serving plate.

· Repeat steps until all biscuits and donut holes are cooked and sugary.

Best served warm.

You donut know how good these are until you try them!