just me

Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

OMGOMGOMGOMG. Stress.

In Uncategorized on March 22, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Hello, dear readers. You know I love you, each and every one of you, but I have to announce that Kitchenella will be going on a brief hiatus. Sad. But the reason is because I’m moving into my new house! Happy! And stressed. My kitchen stuff is all packed up, and will be for the next week or two, because major things must be done to my new kitchen before I unpack. So, I won’t be cooking for awhile, but when I come back I promise to share pictures of my new kitchen. You should see this thing! It’s huge, with a vaulted ceiling, exposed beams, a wall of built-in shelves, and two sets of French doors that open out to the pool area. I’m so excited! And it has gas! Finally, I’ll be able to cook right again!

That said, it needs new appliances, new countertops, and a serious paint job. But assuming everything goes well at closing tomorrow (cross your fingers), I’ll be getting on that right away. Before you know it, I’ll be up and running again, even better than before.

So, while I hate to leave you, however temporarily, it is sadly necessary. But there are exciting things on the way – the website will be expanding to include reviews of cookbooks, restaurants, and takeout joints, and the Kitchenella store is being overhauled (by dear Mr. Gorilla the webmaster) to be more attractive and user-friendly. Know what? I need to be overhauled to be more attractive and user-friendly. Anyway, my first cookbook review is gonna be a doozy – it’s all about biscuits and scones, and it’s in the mail as we speak!

So don’t forget about me – I promise I’ll be back!

And I’ll have a garden, too! Eventually. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Advertisements

Herbed Pork Chops

In Pork on March 19, 2010 at 5:56 pm

A tasty twist on the plain old pork chop.

I’m tempted to buy pork chops every time I grocery shop. They’re cheap, and they look so pretty, all pink and petite in their plastic wrapped tray. They look full of potential. I also have this weird amnesia when it comes to pork chops, much like Lewis Black’s amnesia with candy corn. I see it, I want it, I take it home and cook it, I’m disappointed, and vow never to buy it again. Every time. I think, like two months must elapse before the amnesia sets in, then there I am, hovering over the pork section of the meat department.

As you can tell, it happened again! But this time was different. I decided to forgo the plain, gray slab of shoe leather in exchange for something a little more, I don’t know, good. So I experimented, and it worked out well. The secret to making pork chops edible is to not overcook them. Really. Pork can be a little pink in the middle. The other secret is to serve them with cornbread stuffing. Cornbread stuffing helps everything. Mmmm.

Herbed Pork Chops

Ingredients:

2 boneless pork chops

balsamic vinegar in a spritz bottle

1 scant cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon parsley

1/4 teaspoon sage

1 tablespoon rosemary

Directions:

Spritz the chops with balsamic vinegar, soaking well. Let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Mix the rest of the ingredients on a large plate, sifting with a fork to really mix well.

Coat the chops in the flour mixture. Place them in the pile of stuff, turn them over, pat the mixture into all the nooks and crannies. You really want a nice homogenous coat here. It’s annoying because wherever you touch the chop, the flour comes off, but deal with it. Just do your best.

Heat a two tablespoons of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.

Add the chops, and cover for a minute or two. The goal is to hold in as much heat as possible so they cook through without spending too much time on the heat.

Flip the chops after 3 minutes or so. When they start getting a nice golden crust around the edges, they’re done, or close to it. Poke one with your finger – if it’s mushy, it’s not done. If it’s hard, it’s too done, and you need to start over.

Serve with cornbread stuffing and spinach, and even some gravy if you’re feeling adventurous.

Thai Red Curry Fish and Shrimp

In Fish, Seafood on March 18, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Coconut milk makes everything better!

I love Thai food so much! Really, anything that involves coconut milk is tops on my list. Whenever the Mr. and I are discussing the possibility of takeout, I always mention Thai, and he always says no. He’s afraid of it. He thinks it’s all so spicy that it will blow his colon clean out the back of his shorts. I try to tell him that they’ll make it as spicy or as mild as you want it, but he doesn’t believe me.

I decided to prove it to him instead. I figured if he came home from work and the only edible thing in the house was red curry, he would have no choice but to try it. And he did. And loved it. Of course. I made it pretty mild, using only a tablespoon of curry paste, but feel free to add more if you’re adventurous. If you’re new to red curry, start with one tablespoon and taste it, and gradually add more until the heat is at your perfect level. See? Customizable, once again!

Thai Red Curry Fish and Shrimp

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 cups chopped bok choy

14 ounces coconut milk

1 tablespoon (or more) red curry paste

2 tablespoons brown sugar

dash fish sauce

1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 6-ounce Mahi fillets

4 tablespoons dried basil

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add bok choy and saute 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, over medium heat, combine coconut milk, curry paste, brown sugar, and fish sauce. Simmer gently, stirring frequently, until thickened – about 5 minutes.

Stir bok choy into sauce. Empty sauce into a bowl and set aside. Keep using that same pan.

Coat fish and shrimp with basil, and saute over medium heat until shrimp is no longer translucent, and fish flakes easily with a fork.

Add sauce back into pan, toss to coat, remove from heat.

Serve over jasmine rice.

Close your eyes as you ride the dream that is red curry. Go ahead, drink the sauce…


Creamy Potato Soup

In Soups/Stews, Vegetables on March 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm

The ultimate rainy night meal.

Oh, potatoes, how I love thee! Baked, broiled, fried, roasted, mashed. scalloped… is there anything that can mar the cozy, velvety goodness of your fluffy innards? No. In fact, many otherwise mediocre foods improve with potato. I know where the Irish are coming from. I love potatoes so much, I’ll even eat a soup made exclusively from them! Well, not exclusively, but almost.

Is there any better dinner for a chilly, rainy night than potato soup? No, there isn’t. The smooth thickness wraps you in a cozy glow, and when you add cheese and bacon, well, god. You’d have to have been born without taste buds to resist.

This is my recipe for the ultimate potato soup. Some people say it can’t possibly be ultimate if there’s no sour cream, but I say they’re wrong. Sour cream may look pretty on the top, and it may taste good for the first couple of bites, but eventually it dilutes and cools the soup. Save it for the baked. Be a purist, and this classic soup a go.

Potato Soup

Ingredients:

3 pounds red potatoes, peeled and diced

1 cup chopped sweet onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

40 ounces chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

salt, pepper to taste

4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

4 ounces colby jack cheese, shredded

Directions:

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat.

Add the onion, and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes, and stir to coat. Cook another 3 minutes or so, stirring constantly. The goal here is just to singe parts of the potatoes to add a nice, smoky element to the soup.

Add the chicken stock, and boil until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and mash with a potato masher. Don’t worry, I know it’s still chunky. That’s why we whip out our immersion blender and give it a good whirl. The masher part is just to break up the big chunks so they don’t clog the blender. If you were diligent about your dicing, you can skip right to the blender part.

Blend until smooth and creamy.

Speaking of creamy, now’s the time to stir in that cream! Add the salt and pepper too, while you’re at it.

And you’re done! Ladle the soup into bowls, and top with bacon crumbles and generous handfuls of cheese.

And try not to blush when everyone kisses you after dinner!

Mixed Berry Jam

In sweets on March 16, 2010 at 9:25 am

Sweet, sticky, and delicious.

Guess what, guys – I made jam! I’ve never made it before, but I’ve always been intrigued by the process of turning whole fruit and sugar into a cohesive, spreadable mass. So, of course, I decided to experiment. I was a little bit daunted at first by the fact that none of my local supermarkets carry pectin, which by all accounts, is necessary for a successful jam. Pectin, you see, is apparently what hold it all together and causes it to thicken. So yeah, stupid supermarkets strike again.

Instead, for this jam, I relied on the fact that all fruits contain natural pectin in small amounts. I figured that with enough tender loving care, I could make a success of it anyway. Pectin – who needs it? Believe it or not, it actually worked! They consistency was perfect – it’s a bit thicker than most jams, even. If you don’t really like a thick jam, just don’t cook it as long. Really, feel free to take it off the heat whenever you like.

I made a mixed berry jam, because Florida berries are just coming into season and they looked beautiful. Use the best, ripest berries you can find – sweet, with intense color. I’m not sure if this pectin-free method will work with other fruits – if you’d like to experiment, please let me know how it turns out! Otherwise, stick to the berries. Your actual strawberry-to-raspberry-to-blueberry ratio can be whatever makes you happy.

Mixed Berry Jam

Ingredients:

2 cups mixed berries (I left the blueberries and raspberries whole, and chopped the strawberries)

additional 1/4 cup each strawberries, blueberries, raspberries

2 cups sugar

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, combine the 2 cups berries and the sugar, stir to coat.

Combine the 1/4 cup of each berry in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

Add puree to saucepan.

Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until desired consistency is reached. Mine took about 15 minutes, but once the foam is almost gone from the top you know it’s ready.

Remember that the jam will have a thinner consistency when it’s hot, so judge by the residue on the spoon you’ve been stirring with. It will cool quickly between stirs, and you’ll see the true consistency.

And don’t worry if you overcook it a little – as long as you don’t actually burn it, it will just get thicker. If it turns out to be too thick to spread nicely, just nuke it for 20 seconds or so right before use.

See how nice and easy that was? Don’t you feel all domestic and stuff?