Sunday, November 29, 2009

Brian's Birthday!

The beginning of November was Brian's birthday-- so, again, this post is quite old. I'm catching up! Only a few more until we're at Thanksgiving, hah! Then maybe I'll get to Christmas ones before Christmas happens. We'll see.

I cannot begin to tell people how I appreciate Brian. He has been so, so very helpful to me. In many ways, my life fell apart pretty quickly. After Jeff and I broke up, I lost my job (show was cancelled), could not find nor afford a new apartment, and a lot of family issues started popping up. One right after another. Brian was definitely a stone-- he was my friend who helped me through the break up, then later when we were together, he helped me move, he helped me find a place to stay (I split my time between him and a few of my female friends who are wonderful, wonderful people and I adore them endlessly), and talked me through many of the other issues of the time. He's patient and understanding and doesn't get upset too often.

He's also helped me (by just happening to talk to the right people at the right time) with finding a job. I am now an agency signed fashion model. Woah! That's pretty crazy, right folks? I'm including in this post a rare photo of myself, at a recent fashion show.

Yes, that is me. Without the normal Foodival picture formatting.
Anyway, there's a lot of good things that have happened and some of them I can thank Brian for, and some of them I can thank Lady Luck for. For example, this blog was listed in PC Magazine's top 50 blogs of 2009, found here. I have many to thank for that, but I'm not sure if I'm allowed to? (You know who you are, and I appreciate you very, very much).

This is starting to sound like a Thanksgiving post. I AM GIVING THANKS. Well, it is after Thanksgiving, and so the mood perhaps is just striking me.

Also I have a few other opportunities up my sleeve. And this being-a-model-and-not-spending-75-hours-a-week-animating thing does give me more time to bake. But it also means I guess I'm supposed to watch it? Or something? Eh! Caution to the wind!

Anyway, on to the food.
So for Brian's birthday (oh yeah, that's where this posted started), I really wanted to show him how much I adore and appreciate him. And thus I made him BBQ Ribs! I mean, come on, that's how you show a guy you like him, right? Ribs? Yes? (No?) Well, it was my way. With it, I made smokey cheesy creamed corn, which I made mixing a recipe I found here with what I have had before at Grub (tasty place, that).

The ribs I made in the Alton Brown method-- the kind he made on both Good Eats and when I went and filmed with them in Florida for Dear Food Network. Except I couldn't find baby back ribs at my local market (what!?) so I used spare ribs (eh-heh-heh). And I also made my own glaze, because I wanted to do things my own way. I'm stubborn that way. But you'll see inspiration. You should check out Alton's recipe, because who doesn't love Alton Brown? It can be found here.

My glaze came out a little thin-- but Brian liked it. It was, however, very flavourful. I really liked it. My dinner came out much better than my cake-- which was delicious, but I did an attempt at meringue frosting that failed terribly. That's why I'm not showing a picture of it. However, I will probably attempt something similar again because the cake was so darn tasty, maybe make it into cupcakes, and post it. We still haven't finished the cake-- it was too much for one guy and one girl. Nobody else seemed to want it's scariness. Hah!

But the dinner. Now that was envy inspiring.

Brian's BBQ Ribs
Based loosely in method and style off of Alton Brown's Baby Back Ribs

1 rack spare pork ribs.
kosher salt
black pepper

Rub: note* This will make enough rub for many a rib rubbing. Also good on any pork product.
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup chili powder
1/8 cup paprika
1/8 cup garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayennee
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard

BBQ Sauce:

1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/4 cup instant espresso or very strong coffee
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup hard apple cider
1 teaspooon onion powder

Place the ribs on a sheet of wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil. Season them liberally with salt and sprinkle approximately 3 tablespoons of the rub on. Turn the rubs, meat side down, and tightly seal each pouch. Refigerate overnight.

The next day, heat the oven to 250 degrees.

Open one end of the pouch and pour in 1 cup of hard apple cider. Reseal the pouch and place on a sheet pan in the oven for 2 hours. Remove the ribs from the oven, carefully open one end of the pouch and pour the braising liquid into a heatproof measuring cup. Reseal the pouch and place it and the liquid in the fridge (for up to 8 hours).

The fat in the braising liquid will have solidified on the top and can be removed at this time. Transfer the liquid to a small saucepan and add the honey, brown sugar, ketchup,apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, espresso, cayenne pepper, celery salt, and onion powder. Whisk to combine. Set over medium high heat and reduce to a glaze.

Heat large, cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Brush with olive oil, and place the ribs flesh side down, and cover. Decrease the heat to medium, and leave alone for 4 minutes. Flip and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Repeat if not charred enough. Remove the ribs from the pan and cut the ribs (I had to break mine with my hands, it was gruesome). Add the ribs and half the glaze to a large, large serving bowl, and toss throughly. Serve the remaining glaze on the size.

Roasted Potato Stacks
Recipe from Seasaltwithfood

2 white potatoes, scrubbed
1 tablespoon Cup Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Chopped Rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons Lemon Juice, or to taste
Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Oven at 425 Degrees Farenheit.

Lightly oil two muffin cups in a muffin pan

Slice the pootatoes very thinly with a mandoline or a sharp knife.
In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with olive oil, rosemary, lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.
Stack the potatoes in a muffin pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes turn crispy on the outside and the flesh is soft.
Transfer the muffin pan to racks to cool for 2 to 3 minutes before carefully removing the potatoes. Serve warm.

Smokey Cheesy Cream Corn
Recipe inspired from Food Channel

2 strips bacon, 1/2-inch diced and drippings
1/4 cup onions, chopped
1/2 package frozen corn
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup half and half or cream
Salt and pepper
1/8 powdered ginger
a dash of cayenne
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp chipotle powder
1 clove of garlic, minced
a sprinkle of cajun, if desired

Cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and cool, then crumble.
In the drippers saute the onions until soft, but not brown. Add the garlic and allow to cook for 1 minute. Add the corn and cheese. Cook stirring about 10 minutes. Add the cream and seasonings. Heat until bubbly, then serve topped with bacon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chocolate Caramel Tart

So after I made the delicious Autumn Pork Roast, I served up this delicious dessert of Chocolate Caramel Tart. I actually had this recipe bookmarked for a long time before actually making it, I kept coming back and eyeing it-- when will I make this? On what occasion can I possibly make this?
Ah, on this such occasion.

This was delicious-- it's super rich, sweet. The caramel is delicate (the first time I burned it), and it goes well with the chocolate pastry and the ganache. Well, how can you go wrong? Really, it's a simply flavoured dessert. Rich, dark chocolate. Rich, sweet caramel. Topped with some sea salt, and voila! There really isn't much to say.

What I will say is this. It's absolutely fantastic to pull this out of the fridge, slice it, and have the caramel just slightly puff and ooze out from the sides. It's fantastic to have there be a string of caramel to your mouth. The salt adds another dimension of flavour (this salt I got from Il Fornaio for participating in their passport program). The chocolate is both rich and dark, not too sweet, to allow the caramel to shine more keenly.
The chocolate crust, while a little difficult (again, I don't have a lot of room in other peoples kitchens), was yummy-- very tender, almost cookie like.
I could also see this being very good with a chocolate mousse layer as well, then topped with a ganache. My ganache was pretty mousse like-- I was in a rush and didn't really concentrate on how much cream I was pouring in. It just missed the fluffy.

Chocolate Caramel Tart
Recipe from Lottie + Doof

Chocolate Tart Dough

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Caramel Filling

1/2 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoons sour cream (or creme fraiche if you can find/afford it)

Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, and mix until just combined. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and form it into a disk; wrap well. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the tart dough into a large circle 3/16 inch thick. Transfer the tart dough to a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press into pan. If it falls apart at all just push it back together in the pan. Chill the tart shell in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Prick the shell all over with a fork. Line with parchment paper filled with pie weights or dried beans and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights, and bake until the pastry looks dry and set, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. (The tart shell can be made 8 hours ahead.)

Place 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan. Add sugar and corn syrup, and cook mixture over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until it becomes an amber caramel-- you might want to remove it at about medium color, I removed it at a lighter colour because my pans cook hot-- this should take about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and carefully (the mixture will bubble up) and slowly add the heavy cream followed by the butter and sour cream. Stir until smooth.
Pour the caramel into the cooled tart shell and allow to set, first at room temperature and then in the refrigerator.

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and let stand for 2 minutes, then stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour the ganache over the tart. Refrigerate until set.

Remove the tart from the refrigerator 5-10 minutes before you are ready to serve it. Cut the tart into slices and sprinkle each with Fleur de Sel.

Also, I had to change my blog counter (sad!). The other site I think has died, and so it has started over. Goodbye 10k hits. Maybe this time I'll do you right and make you something.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Autumn Pork Roast

I gotta admit, it's been busy. We all know this, I've said it like my last five posts. We all know this because I made this beauty back in like, September. Maybe late September. But it was still September. Since then I've made few other things (it sucks to not have your own kitchen, let me tell you that. I'm fine with using other peoples, but jeez, it's still kind of difficult).
But that's okay. Because I've made some pretty delicious things the few times I've actually made things.

This was a pork tenderloin, a recipe I got from Dutch Girl Cooking/Kayotic Kitchen

It was a nice little dinner I made for Brian and I. It wasn't too difficult to prepare-- I actually remember it being quite easy (as opposed to the dessert, which wasn't too hard either, but I think we were under a time constraint).

The pork turned out super tender and delicious. The mushroom cream sauce was divine!! I mean, it was kind of like a cream of mushroom soup-- but in sauce form-- and also fresh. Which makes sense, since it was basically a roux with mushroomness added. Whatever, it was good, and I loved it, and Brian loved it too.

To go with it I made a quinoa pilaf. Brian is trying to do a healthy thing, and I was trying to be mindful of it (sort of). Quinoa is super healthy, it's high in fiber and protein, one of those delicious ancient grains. I believe I flavoured this one with vegetables, and... chicken stock, I think. And some saffron. And rosemary. It's been too long, so I fail. Next time, I promise to write down what I do-- because it was quite delicious (though a liiiittle bland, I needed to heavier on the salt, at least).
All in all a fabulous meal. I don't make pork a lot so it was a nice change of pace-- and these pork tenderloins (hah, I accidentally typed porn at first) are quite easy to make and delicious.

Autumn Pork Roast
Recipe inspired from Dutch Girl Cooking/Kayotic Kitchen

1 pork tenderloin
3 oz mixed mushrooms -- I used a mix of regular white button and criminis.
1/2 medium red onion
1 1/2 heaping tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon course mustard (I used dijon)
1/2 tablespoon crushed rosemary
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup milk (I used a bit of cream too)
2 tablespoons butter
flat leaf parsley
worcestershire sauce

Rub the pork tenderloin with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Rub the course mustard and rosemary over the meat. Set the meat aside and allow the flavours to meld.
Meanwhile, chop the mushrooms and onions, coarsley.
Grate or mince one medium sized garlic clove.
Heat a tablespoon of the butter and sautee the onions for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook over low heat for about another 3 minutes, until the mushrooms are starting to soften and 'wilt'. Add the flour and cook for a minute to nuetralize the floury flavour. Pour in the milk/cream and stir until it is lump free. Bit by bit, pour in the chicken broth until you have the right consistency-- I think I may have used 1/2 cup because I wanted it thick and creamy, but not too dry. Simmer the sauce on a low heat for about 15 minutes.

Heat the remaining butter over medium-high heat and brown the meat on all sides. Cook for a few minutes on each side. Pour in some of the broth (or some water), and cover, allow to braise for 10 minutes or so (make sure it's cooked all teh way through, but with some very slight pinkness to the center).

Chop the parsley.

Once the meat is done, remove from the pan and cover with aluminum foil -- allow to rest for 5 minutes. In that 5 minutes, season your sauce with worcestershire, pepper, and salt. You may need a lot of it. :) Add the parsley last, serve over the pork tenderloin.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Red Velvet Pancakes -- The Griddle

Alright, I'll admit, these aren't the best photos. I'll also admit that these were taken awhile ago. Also, I didn't make these. The Griddle did. Now, I know by now I'm not the first blogger to post about The Griddle's pancakes-- they're pretty amazing. Nor am I the first blogger to even post about their Red Velvet Pancakes-- a special that they've been bringing back more and more.

However, out of respect to these pancakes, I decided to make a rare post about someone's cooking that wasn't my own.

Oh, The Griddle. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
1 way is coffee, served fresh in a french press.
2 is the bacon, cut thick and fried right.
3 is selection, from breakfast to lunch
4 is.... well, this list could just keep going, so let's cut to the chase and say it's the pancakes.

I used to come here with Jeff, when I did we'd get the Golden Ticket -- Brown sugar bananas, caramel, streusel, walnuts.... sweet, rich, and definitely more than either of us could handle alone.
Another good selection? Barry Yellow -- raspberry lemon. Delicate, but delicious.
Also good is Eyes Wide Open -- chocolate chips... with espresso. Yes, espresso. I got these the day that I also tried the most amazing pancake in the world.


The Red Velvet pancakes.

I feel like more places are following this trend-- Red Velvet is originally a southern thing. I hadn't even heard of Red Velvet until I moved to the South (I also lived in a food bubble). But since I've moved to California they seem to be a staple in most cupcake-cake-restaurant related places. Either that or, hah, NY Cheesecake. You'd think they'd lean towards something that has more Californian flair. For that I have no reason, except maybe after eating a lot of avacados all you want is some sweet, sweet red chocolate with cream cheese frosting.

But yeah, Red Velvet Pancakes. These are completely awesome. The pancakes are huge, the size of my face (or your face, but I don't know how big your face is), sweet though not overly so-- not as sweet as, say, a cupcake. They're lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar... and topped with swirls of cream cheese frosting. When served, they are brown on top-- chocolate pancakes! But once cut into.

Look at that. It's below. The red is so brilliant, so bright.
Serve up with a side of bacon and some french press coffee and you have yourself one of the most fantastic mornings. And maybe, just maybe, a sugar coma. :)

So, if you are ever in Los Angeles. And you ever want something delicious. Go, go and try The Griddle. At least check out there super rocking out menu online. Then go. Come to LA to go-- and also eat a lot of other good food here. It is highly recommended.
By me.
By Kirsten (who got us the Red Velvet pancakes).
By South Park (they go the very last morning on the very last episode of the run, ie seven episodes)
By Los Angeles.
By the Hanson Brothers?

(Sam, Kirsten, Caitlin all enjoy red velvet pancake more than they know how to describe)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chicken... Kiev. Esque.

Alright, enough about depressing posts that talk about all the food I made before sadness happened in my life. Right? Right!

Let's get onto some new things. I HAVE made things, despite what it seems like. I make grilled cheese sandwiches, and pastas. :) Things I don't really post (though, I am tempted to start posting grilled cheese sandwiches. They're just so good!). But I did make this a little while ago, and it turned out really nice-- and I have lots of plans to make things in the future. I have a whole list of recipes I want to try out in my favourites folder to get me feeling more into cooking so I can create some of my own again. Plus, I have my whole list of personal recipes that I HAVE made and HAVEN'T posted on here that I get the pleasure of making for Brian.

Oh, right, Brian.

So there's this guy, he's pretty awesome. He's tall. Funny. He's the kind of guy that watches sappy movies and works at CBS and thinks about Meta things and does improv. I like to make fun of him a lot-- but not as much as I like to hang out with him. Oh, yeah, he's my boyfriend now. Probably should mention that part.

None of this has to do with food, except that hurray! He likes to eat!! That means more food on the table. When we first started, I dunno, dating or whatever, I made him this meal of-- of basically chicken kiev. Except I didn't roll it stuffed with butter and herbs. I instead flattened it, dredged it in flour --> milk --> panko. Then I pan-fried (sigh) it in a butter I had earlier mixed with herbs and deliciousness in my mortar. So the butter was all... buttery and herby.

Served with some creamy mashed potatos-- just white rose potatos mixed (with a fork) with butter and sour cream and milk. And a bit of parmesan. Oh, and some rosemary. Oh, and some garlic.

Mm, yeah.

I topped the 'chicken kiev' with some fresh basil, it sort of got sauteed in. Brian loves basil, and so do I. So basically that means basil is going to go in everything, hah! If only I could get him to admit that cinnamon is as awesome as it is.

I still plan to cook some for Jeff. We're still good friends (oh, crazy life). But you'll see less mentioning of him here. That's okay, I know you're not here for the personal life, you're here for the food. Unfortunately, the two are married in my mind.

Chicken Kiev

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup (approx) panko bread crums
1/2 cup (approx) flour
salt and pepper
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, thyme, basil, and parsley
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
chopped fresh basil to top
salt and pepper

Grind the rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley and garlic together in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle. Add the butter, salt, and pepper and mix to form a paste. Refridgerate for 30 minutes and allow the flavors to meld.
Mix the flour with salt and pepper. Take the chicken breasts and flatten them with a meat mallet. Lightly dredge the chicken in the flour, dip in the milk, then into the panko bread crumbs.
Remove the herbed butter and melt the majority of it, saving some, in a medium saucepan over medium to medium-high heat. Add the chicken breasts and fry until golden brown on the outsides and cooked all the way through-- approximately 4-5 minutes each side.
Top with chopped basil and serve, covering with the saved melted butter. Salt and pepper to taste.