February 21, 2011

Pommes Dauphinoise

I love reading Nigel Slater's cookbooks. His recipes are wonderfully written. Take, for instance, his recipe for Pommes Dauphinoise in Appetite; he titles this recipe "a creamy, unctuous potato dish." Slater writes:
A shallow earthenware dish of gratin dauphinoise is a perfect thing, the slices of potato scented with garlic and wallowing in cream, its top lightly browned. It seems sacrilegious to add or subtract from the classic recipe. [...] Despite the almost obscene quantity of cream, there is still a frugal simplicity in this dish.
Pommes Dauphinoise is a French dish from the Dauphiné region, near the Italian border. It consists of thinly sliced potatoes layered in a shallow buttered dish with sliced garlic, topped with heavy cream, and baked until brown & bubbling.  According to Gourmet Britain, "The dish should be perfumed with garlic, plenty, not just a token amount - and please, no eggs or cheese toppings."

I made this tonight to go a long with a big, juicy, grilled T-bone steak. I ate about half the steak and saved the rest of my appetite for more of these potatoes, proclaiming "The French sure do know what the fuck they're doing!"

A Creamy, Unctuous Potato Dish
(aka Pommes Dauphinoise)
from Nigel Slater

February 17, 2011

Angry Lobster

Let's face it: Valentine's Day sucks...and it doesn't matter if you're in a relationship or not. While I like getting gifts as much as anyone, I don't like the pressure of having to do something romantic for V-Day. Going out to eat is out of the question for us, as it's usually so crazy-crowded at the restaurants. It just feels like such a forced holiday.

So, this year, I decided to have an Anti-Valentine's dinner party for a few friends. For decorations, I set a vase with three long-stemmed red roses in the middle of the dining room table. Then, I cut the blooms off and left them laying on the table. I also set out a heart-shaped box of chocolates for my guests...after I'd taken a bite out of each one, of course. I called my appetizer course--a chunk of bleu cheese--"Love Stinks." I made Red Hots infused vodka as an aperitif.

I asked my guests to bring an appropriately unromantic dish to share...something bitter, sour, spicy, or otherwise un-love-ly.

February 16, 2011

Egg Yolk Raviolo

A couple years ago, the Food Blog Mafia gals went to dinner at Acero, an Italian restaurant in Maplewood. One of our favorite dishes was the Egg Raviolo, a "Farm Fresh Egg Yolk Wrapped in Delicate Pasta." When you cut into this huge, round raviolo, a warm yolk oozes out. So freakin' delicious. 

I've been wanting to recreate that dish at home ever since that meal. When I saw a similar recipe in Mark Peel's newest cookbook, I knew I had to try it soon. It was the perfect recipe for my next cooking project with my friend Stephanie

I was fairly intimidated by this dish at first. I mean, so many things could go wrong...you could break the yolk while assembling the raviolo, the pasta could bust during cooking, the yolk could get over-cooked...  

But, what I discovered is that this is a pretty easy recipe to make! And it's simply stunning to look at. I ate two of these for dinner and made more for lunch the next day.  

Giant Ravioli with Spinach, Ricotta, & Egg Yolk
slightly adapted from Mark Peel's New Classic Family Dinners

February 4, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie: Basque Potato Tortilla

I've joined a new online cooking group: French Fridays with Dorie. Created by the people behind Tuesdays with Dorie (a baking group), these bloggers are cooking their way through Dorie Greenspan's new cookbook Around My French Table.

I made quite a few of the TWD recipes from March 2008-December 2009. I joined the group to force myself to learn baking skills, which I did. After nearly 2 years of making weekly desserts, though, I had just had to stop. That was simply too much sweet stuff.

Recently, though, I've found myself with all kinds of cooking plans that I never follow-through with. I figured that having a weekly cooking project would be a good idea to get motivated. Though, I still may not complete each week's recipe, my goal is to try at least two every month.

The rules for this group are simple: Make the chosen recipe each week, post on Fridays, but don't publish the recipe. Also, there is no minimum posting requirement...which is nice as I was eventually "kicked out" of the TWD group for not posting.

photo from Around My French Table
This week's recipe is for Basque Potato Tortilla, which I've been referring to as a "potato quiche." It's more like a frittata than a quiche, though, and it's easy to make...brown potatoes & onions with garlic & rosemary, combine with beaten eggs, cook slowly without stirring in a cast-iron skillet until set, finish under the broiler.

Meant to be served at room temperature, this is a popular Spanish hors d'oeuvre (often served in bite-sized pieces on toothpicks) served in the Basque region of France, according to Dorie. I ate it warm for dinner with a side of braised kale with garlic & lemon. Jerad ate a few cold slices for breakfast the next day with a side of ketchup (Ahh, Jerseyville).

Upcoming recipes:
Feb. 11 - Orange-Almond Tart
Feb. 18 - Pancetta Green Beans
Feb. 25 - Short Ribs in Red Wine & Port

February 2, 2011

Winter Panzanella

Today is our 6th snow day in 2011. We haven't had a full week of school yet this semester. You'd think that with so many days off, stuck in the house, that I would be super productive. You'd be wrong. I tend to increase my laziness on impromptu vacation days. Instead of catching up on grading, reading more, cleaning, or doing laundry, I tend to zone out in front of the computer or piddle around in the kitchen. 

And, you know what? I don't feel bad about that at all. 

Last weekend, knowing that a snowpocalyse was approaching St. Louis, I planned a few cooking projects for the week...involving comforting winter recipes that are healthier than my usual carb-loaded cold weather fare.

The first of those recipes is a winter panzanella. Panzanella is a summertime salad made with toasted bread cubes, ripe tomatoes, garden-fresh basil, & soft mozzarella cheese. It is our favorite thing to eat in the summer. Of course, the pale, mealy tomatoes you find in the winter will just not do in a salad. So, I found a more seasonally-appropriate version that replaces the tomatoes & basil with radicchio & brussels sprouts. Crispy bacon & crunchy apples are added. It's really delicious, filling & comforting. 

Winter Panzanella
adapted from Bon Appetit

February 1, 2011

Spring 2011 Cooking Classes

Kitchen Conservatory's spring schedule is now posted. To register, call Kitchen Conservatory at 314-862-2665 or register online. Here are my upcoming classes:

SUSHI ROCK AND ROLL - Saturday, Feb. 12 @ 12:00-2:30 OR Saturday, March 19 @ 12:00-2:30 (hands-on)
  • Wrap and roll your favorite sushi in a hands-on class. Learn to use a variety of ingredients to create incredible hand rolls that will showcase your inner artist. Enjoy salt-and-pepper edamame, then learn to prepare sticky sushi rice and make a variety of hand-formed nigiri, and rolled maki, including spicy tuna rolls, California rolls and Philadelphia rolls. Create lemongrass sorbet for a refreshing dessert.
GIRLS' NIGHT OUT: JUST GRATE! - Saturday, March 5 @ 6:30-9:00 (demonstration)
  • Enjoy camembert fondue with crudités, crispy baked cheddar straws, fromage fort canapés, gorgonzola custards with pears and hazelnut vinaigrette, plus baked goat cheese with spicy tomato chutney. Served with white wine sangria.
GIRLS' NIGHT OUT: EDUCATING 'RITA - Saturday, March 26 @ 6:30-9:00 (demonstration)
  • Menu includes champagne margaritas, tuna ceviche, grilled shrimp soft tacos with mango guacamole, Mexican grilled corn salad, and strawberry-lime sorbet.
DATE NIGHT FOR COUPLES: GOLDILOCKS & THE THREE BEERS - Sunday, April 3 @ 5:00-7:30 (hands-on)
  • Forget the porridge, chair, and sleeping - the three tastings of beer will be just right and plenty cold! Join me (aka "goldie" locks) & my beermeister husband in a fun evening for couples. This hands-on class will prepare beer cheese fondue with soft pretzels, local lager with spicy Sriracha chicken wings, fruity Belgian wheat beer with grilled scallops and corn salad, plus creamy stout with chocolate hazelnut cake and vanilla ice cream.
DATE NIGHT FOR COUPLES: FROM BEER TO SUSHI ETERNITY - Friday, April 15 @ 6:00-8:30 (hands-on)
  • Be prepared for a fun evening of sushi designed just for couples. Enjoy salt-and-pepper edamame & spicy cucumber salad, then learn to prepare sticky sushi rice and make a variety of hand-formed nigiri, and rolled maki, including spicy tuna rolls, California rolls and Philadelphia rolls -- all served with cold beer that Jerad has chosen to pair perfectly with sushi. Finally, we'll make lemongrass sorbet for a refreshing dessert. 
HEIR AND A PARENT: WIZARDS IN THE KITCHEN - Saturday, April 16 @ 10:00-12:30 OR Sunday, May 1 @ 1:00-3:30 OR Saturday, June 18 @ 10:00-12:30  (hands-on)
  • Attention all Muggles! Experience the world of Harry Potter and make magic in the kitchen as I help you prepare delightful dishes described throughout the J.K. Rowling series, including The Three Broomsticks' butterbeer, ham & cheese pasties from the Hogwarts house-elves, Mrs. Weasley's potatoes with béchamel sauce, and Aunt Petunia's individual berry & pudding trifles. Before you apparate home, you'll make edible wands to help ward off He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. This class is designed for children, at least 7 years of age, plus a parent.