Sunday, September 6, 2009

Photo bomb, catch up

I have been cooking and taking pictures of food a lot, but I have neglected to blog about it. I've taken the lazy way out, and posted most of my pics to my Facebook photo album instead. However, since there may be an occasional reader who doesn't know me in person and therefore does not have access to my FB, here is what you've been missing!

If you cook and don't own a mandoline slicer, you should seriously consider investing in one. Yes, I said "investing," because a good one is not cheap, but it is well worth the price tag. I used mine this morning to make hash browns. The results were far superior to the mushy shreds you'd get using a cheese grater!

My mandoline is a De Buyer Pro-V, which retails for about $200. My husband bought mine at Williams-Sonoma, but they apparently don't have my model any more. You can find them at Amazon here.

The onset of fall-like weather where I live has prompted a baking urge, and nothing says "fall" to me like apple pie. This one was made with Alton Brown's pie crust recipe and my own mixture of about 2 1/2 pounds of peeled and sliced green apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch. I used a lattice cutter for the top, which is quick and easy, and then brushed on egg white and sprinkled with turbinado sugar.

I was recently gifted with a deep fryer, and although this particular model isn't worth a crap, I gave it one last shot. The fryer itself didn't work (won't heat up past about 300º, even after heating for half an hour), but I transferred the oil to my trusty Lodge dutch oven on the stove top and fried up a mess of onion rings to go with some burgers on the grill.

These onion rings are fantastic, vegan, and super easy. Martha Stewart provides the recipe.

A friend recently introduced me to pesto, which I had never made myself. This inspired me to make some cilantro pesto, because I had some in the garden and I love the stuff. I found an easy recipe online and served it over grilled chicken breasts.

On the side is a delicious and summery salad of fresh corn, black beans, and cherry tomatoes. The recipe came from America's Test Kitchen, which requires a membership.

My nearly 3 year old daughter watches me cook and take pictures of food all the time, so it wasn't a complete surprise the other day when she announced, "Mama, I take a peeshoo of you food." She had already eaten when I sat down with my husband to some Zatarain's dirty rice, shrimp, and andouille, and she was walking around with my camera. The girl is a budding foodie and a budding photog. I'm so proud!

Boneless chicken dinner. I love this stuff. If you have not yet learned how to make sauces and gravies using a roux, then you are truly missing out. My own chicken-fried chicken is super easy- salt and pepper boneless breasts, dip in beaten egg, roll in flour. Heat vegetable oil to 350º, in an electric skillet and at a depth of about 1/4". Flip chicken twice, until spotty brown on both sides.

Keep chicken warm while you make gravy. Pour off all but about 2 tbsp. of the oil, return to heat, and whisk in about 2 tbsp. of flour. Slowly add about 3 cups of milk and whisk constantly. Season with salt and pepper.

The buttermilk biscuits are Tyler Florence's recipe, and they are to die for.

My adaptation of a favorite dish from Abuelo's Mexican Food Embassy, something they used to call Pechuga con calabaza. It's a milk-based sauce (bechamel) with sauteed zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper flakes, onion, garlic, roasted bell pepper, sun dried tomatoes, and corn, which is simmered with sauteed chicken breasts and served over rice. It's nearly 2:30 a.m. right now, so I'll get the recipe later!

Delicious sugar cookies with royal icing and sprinkles:

Another America's Test Kitchen recipe, grilled flatbread. An excellent stand-in for pita or naan, and really simple to make.

Alton Brown's Garden Vegetable soup. Super easy and ever so delicious, especially with fresh summer corn, tomatoes, and green beans.

Sensing a theme here? I love Alton Brown. His recipes rarely fail me. Here's his red beans and rice recipe, with a slight alteration. His version calls for making pickled pork. I'm lazy, and that part calls for a lot of effort, and a lot of vinegar, which my husband doesn't like. So I left out the pickled pork and used some andouille sausage. Delicious!

Another Food Network chef that I appreciate is Cat Cora. We have had her souvlaki recipe twice now, and it's pretty good. I did make two amendments: Cat's recipe calls for dressing the lettuce and tomato with a vinaigrette, which I omitted the second time due to husband's previously mentioned aversion to vinegar.

Husband did offer a good suggestion for the second go-round, which was to try topping the meat and pita with some tzatziki sauce. Again I turned to Alton. I omitted the mint and substituted parsley. Quite tasty!

Pizza Bianca recipe from America's Test Kitchen. A very simple wet pizza dough that's not rolled, but rather semi-poured and stretched onto the cookie sheet. It's quite oily, though, and I'll probably reduce the olive oil next time.

I topped the dough with a simple no-cook pizza sauce from Cat Cora. The sauce makes plenty, and freezes well in a zip-top bag. I adjusted the recipe by adding more tomato paste (6 oz. instead of 4) and less water (about 3/4 cup instead of 1 1/2), and I didn't have fresh rosemary but I did have parsley.

Add some diced salami, crumbled Italian sausage, and fresh mozzarella, and you have a pizza that rivals any parlor in town.

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed this very long and very overdue post. Now get out there and get cooking!