September 23, 2007


In July, my friend Erin & I went to a Novel Cuisine class at Kitchen Conservatory, a small cooking school in St. Louis. These classes are a combination book club/cooking class. The July class was on Nigel Slater's memoir Toast, a collection of childhood memories associated with food. The chef prepared a meal (rarebit puffs, roast chicken, mashed potatoes, & trifle) while we discussed the book.

It was so much fun that I took Sarah there last weekend for her birthday. This class was on The Secret Life of Lobsters. Guess what was on the menu? You got it. Lobsters. Lots of lobsters. We watched as the cook made fresh lobster stock and steamed live lobsters. Then we dined on lobster risotto, lobster bisque, lobster salad, & lobster potstickers.

I was surprised at how easy the risotto was to make. I had always thought that risotto needed constant attention. Not so. The chef just stirred in some stock, then let it simmer until absorbed before adding more stock.

I had already decided to make risotto at home last week, so I took a cue from Kitchen Conservatory's recipe. I used chicken broth instead of lobster stock and mixed in mushrooms & spinach. Then, I topped it with parmesan cheese & sauteed shrimp. It was creamy, but not as flavorful as the lobster version. Though, I will try a different risotto recipe sometime this fall.

In Search of the Perfect Mac & Cheese Recipe

My quest started with Alton Brown's Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese. The sauce, which is made with eggs, evaporated milk, and sharp cheddar, is mixed in a pot with cooked macaroni. It was very creamy, but the taste wasn't what I am looking for. It was almost too cheezy. I think the sharp cheddar was too much, though it was better reheated the next day.

Attempt #2 was a spur-of-the-moment adaptation of the same recipe. I used monterey jack instead of sharp cheddar (less 1/2 cup) & added some steamed broccoli. Much better. The cheese wasn't so overwhelming, and it was pretty good cold the next day.

Next experiment: Baked mac & cheese. Anyone got some good recipes?

September 10, 2007

Curry Lime Chicken Wings

There is a new Borders bookstore in town, and I went there a couple weeks ago on my lunch break. I browsed cookbooks while lunching on a cheese & tomato melt & pot of Earl Grey tea. And I couldn't resist copying down a chicken wings recipe from Tyler Florence's Tyler's Ultimate cookbook.

Since I had the day off yesterday, I made these for a late after grocery shopping lunch. They were an excellent combination of spicy, tangy, and slightly sweet. Here's what you do:

Put chicken wings on a baking sheet or in a baking dish or whatever you prefer. Drizzle them olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Bake at 425 about 30 minutes or until they are crispy.

Meanwhile, blend 1/2 stick of softened butter with 2 teaspoons of red curry paste, the zest & juice of one lime, a tablespoon of honey, and a splash of soy sauce.

When the wings are done, toss them in the curry butter. The butter will melt and coat the wings.

September 3, 2007