Saturday, January 28, 2012

Second Semester

I haven't blogged in a while because last Sunday I flew back to Wisconsin and started my second semester! I've been so busy this week with settling in and new classes. Also, on Sunday I was supposed to get in to Madison at 4:30 but my flight got canceled so I had to rearrange things and didn't get in until 11:30 and had an early class the next morning! It was quite stressful.
It has been good to be back so far but I am already missing the California weather, restaurants, and cooking. I will be blogging much less here but will still try to keep you up to date on my food adventures!

On my second to last night at home, my family and I went to a great restaurant called Michael's. It was in a really cool outdoor covered patio-ish thing, and sort of had the feel of being in Hawaii or somewhere like that. The food was delicious!

My mom had a Gin and Tonic with special tonic water. I'm not sure what was so special about it, but it was good!

Amuse Bouche - Potato Chip with Creme Fraiche and Caviar

Green Salad with Fines Herbes

Wisconsin (ha!) Veal Ragu with hand cut pappardelle and rainbow chard

Hawaiian Walu with muscles and croutons

Pear Apple Crisp

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Delicious Family Dinner

Tonight, Richard and I cooked dinner for our families. 
Richard and I love food. We love to watch food network, go to restaurants and eat great food, learn about food, and we love to cook, especially together. I especially love to cook with him because he is the one who first got me into food and cooking.

 Even though we've had basically a month of from school, we haven't really had much time to cook dinner together so when the chance came up to cook dinner today, we took it right away. This is what we made tonight - Grilled Garlic Artichokes, Candied Walnut Goat Cheese and Fruit Salad, Chicken with Morel Cream Sauce, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, Sautéed Beet Greens, and 24 Hour Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. 

Richard came up with the menu, and everyone loved it. 

The potatoes and chicken are recipes from Ina Garten, and the artichokes, beet greens, and salad are our creations. The salad was something Richard came up with a few years ago and since then it has been one of his - and my - favorites. The recipe is included below.

The chocolate chip cookies are from a blog I follow called Taste Food Blog (the original recipe is here). We followed the recipe exactly except for half of the dough, instead of using semi-sweet chocolate chips, we substituted mini peanut butter chocolate cups that we got from Trader Joe's, which turned out great. (We also ate some of the cookie dough before the whole 24 hours was up... oops!)

Richard grilling artichokes



Beet Greens




Everything was delicious and I had so much fun. Definitely my favorite way to spend the night :)

Candied Walnut, Goat Cheese, and Fruit Salad
Serves 6-8

2 bags spring mix lettuce
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/2 cup candied walnuts
handful of grapes
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup creamy balsamic dressing (I like Annie's)

Combine the lettuce and all toppings in a large bowl. Add the dressing. Cover the bowl with a lid (the top to a large pot or pan works well) and shake the bowl until the salad is tossed and all ingredients are combined. The avocado and goat cheese will give the dressing and salad an extra creaminess that is wonderful. Serve immediately (or the greens will wilt).



Last night Richard and I went to a new restaurant called Catch. It's at the Hotel Casa Del Mar right on the beach. We went at night so we couldn't actually see the beach, but you could tell that in the day time it would be beautiful.

We had...

Artichoke Soup with Reggiano Crouton and Lemon Oil

Slow Braised Short Rib with Farro, Brussels Sprouts, and Black Garlic Gremolata

Carlsbad Mussels, Grilled Bread, Morcilla, Parsley Aoili, Shoestring Fries

We also had pumpkin tortellini and hamachi with peppercorns, but we forgot to take pictures of those :(
The food was really really good. I will definitely want to go back next time I am home!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fish en papillote + The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

I recently read a book called The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn, and I loved it.

This is the summary provided on her website:
"Inspired by a supermarket encounter with a woman loading up on processed foods, Kathleen Flinn decided to use her culinary training to help nine novice cooks find their cooking confidence. The Kitchen Counter Cooking School takes these lessons and provides practical, healthy tips to boost your culinary self-confidence, and strategies to get the most from your grocery dollars, as well as simple recipes to get you cooking."

The book is told as a narrative, but also contains lots of recipes along the way. I decided to try a wonderfully simple, delicious, and healthy recipe called "Fish en papillote" or fish in parchment paper.
I love this recipe because it is really flexible. You can basically use any type of fish, herbs, and vegetables you want. For mine I used atlantic char, which is similar to salmon, thyme, and zucchini, carrots, and garlic. I served mine with brown rice with herbs. It turned out great.

Fish en papillote

2 (10 x 12) inch pieces of parchment
2 (4 oz.) piece of fish or thinly sliced chicken breast
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
Few sprigs of fresh herbs (dill, basil, thyme, rosemary) or a ½ teaspoon dried
Splash of white wine, water, or chicken stock
Few thin lemon slices
Salt and pepper
About ½ cup of vegetable for flavor and garnish: shallots, onion, garlic, zucchini, carrot, broccoli, fennel, mushrooms, etc. each finely chopped or sliced
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Fold each sheet in half and cut out a large heart. On one half of each paper heart, drizzle half the olive oil and add generous pinches of of salt and pepper. Add the fish and turn over to coat. Place herbs, lemon, wine and vegetables on top of the fish. Crimp the edges of the parchment or foil and shut carefully to avoid allowing any liquid or steam to escape from the package during cooking. Place the packages on a baking sheet and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes. Allow to sit at least one minute, and then open carefully.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Dinner + Recipe for Roasted Beet Salad

This was our sunday night dinner - 

Irish Soda Bread

Roasted Eggplant Spread

Lemon Garlic Chicken, Truffle Risotto, Sautéed Baby Sprouted Broccoli 

We also had roasted beet salad, which was delicious. I found these beets at the farmers market yesterday and just had to get them because they looked so beautiful! The recipe is simple, healthy, and delicious.

Roasted Beet Salad
Serves 6-8

8 beets (I like to use different colored beets - it makes the salad look gorgeous!)
1 bag lettuce (you can use any kind you like... I used a "Stellar Mix" from the farmers market)
4 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut off the beet greens but leave about an inch of the stems if you can. Wash the beets, pat dry, and place them on a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss so the oil coats all the vegetables. Wrap the aluminum foil around the beets to create a sealed compartment for them. Roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes, until the beets are soft and can be easily pierced with a knife or fork. Remove the beets, open the aluminum foil, and let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins by gently wiping the beet with a damp paper towel. The skin should come right off. Slice into 1/4 inch thick slices, and set aside.

To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper in a bowl and whisk until combined. Place lettuce in a bowl, and add some of the dressing. Toss with your hands and add dressing until all the leaves are lightly coated, but not soaked. 

Place a handful of lettuce on each plate, then arrange the sliced beets. Crumble the goat cheese and drizzle with olive oil before serving.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Katerina's Pizza

Last night I went to my friend Anna's house for dinner. Her mom, Katerina, is from the Czech Republic and is an amazing cook. As soon as she invited me over for dinner and I found out that she was making her famous pizza, I couldn't wait for dinner!

The pizzas have a delicious, crispy thin crust and always have incredibly tasty and fancy toppings.
One pizza had pesto, prosciutto, arugula, pepper, and cheese. The other was a greek style pizza with olives, tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese (I think) and onions.

My favorite pizza and a great night!

Almond Applesauce Bread, Adapted

Last week I made this great recipe from a blog that I follow called Eat, Live, Run called Almond Applesauce Bread. The original can be found here. I followed the recipe exactly, except I added 3 small diced apples, which gave the bread even more texture and made it delicious. I really recommend that you try this recipe! Enjoy

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Week + Kale Salad

This week has been really busy! First of all, Monday was the rose bowl! While it was really sad that we lost, the game was really really fun!

For the rest of the week my good friend from school was visiting me so I was busy showing her all around LA. But we did make a delicious dinner that I am going to share with you!

We made a Kale Salad,

Hanger Steak with Provencal Butter (Ina Garten)

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash (Ina Garten)

Mushroom Risotto (Ina Garten)

It was all delicious! The risotto especially. I've never made risotto before, but this one worked out perfectly so I will definitely be making it more often.

This weekend I will hopefully be cooking more and will have more recipes to share :) It has been so beautiful and warm here - it pretty much feels like summer. I am loving it.

Recipe for Kale Salad
Serves 4

1 large bunch kale
1/2 cup pine nuts
Juice of 3 lemons
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Tear or cut the kale into small pieces, and set aside. For the dressing, combine the lemon juice and olive oil. Toss the dressing with the kale and set aside for about an hour. The acidity of the lemon juice removes the bitterness that kale sometimes has, so it is important to let it sit for a while. When ready to serve, add the cheese and pine nuts.