Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thinking about food

So much in the blog-o-sphere is about the thing I made and my recipe. It's what we do here at What Am I Cooking Central, of course. But what about the conversations about food? The things we learn to do, the things we love about cooking, the Essence of Eats?

My friend Mary and I sit and talk about vegetables and crops of apples and the differences in flavors and bite the way the wine friends talk about wine varietals. Now, her job, her J-O-B, the thing she's paid to do each week, is think about and learn about what's happening in food and specifically, in the biggest Farmer's Market on the left coast. But we talk about it all (and have for years) because we just enjoy it. It's more than what we're throwing together to feed a clan. There's the joy in it that gave Mrs. Rombauer the idea for the title of the book, we can depend on, JOY OF COOKING.  (It's historical. I laugh when I see the book's spine through the glass door of kitchen book space - thinking of how in Julie & Julia, Julia Child called her, "Mrs. Joy.")

I also spend time with Marjorie talking about food ideas and on Christmas day as we were eating the Tater Tot casserole Janet brought to the breakfast gathering, we were secretly trying to sleuth out the ingredients. (The recipe has been long illusive to us, though we've asked. It is a favorite at the gathering and, I thought I understood why you might keep it close.) Not long after we finished quietly throwing ideas around, "cream cheese and sour cream, nutmeg?" she came and apologized for forgetting to share it with me. She really forgot I wanted it. (I think she took pity on me, thankfully. My two kids would eat the whole pan, given the option.) And it turns out it's an Emeril Lagasse recipe. Mine all mine! You can find it here: Kicked Up Mac and Cheese.

See what we do when we talk about it? It. The deliciousness and fun we have compiling? I learned how to seed a pomegranate over at Food Wishes this week with no blood and no purple fingers and was on the phone with my mom within minutes to share the fun. She immediately went after two she had on her counter and called back almost giddy with delight. She'd seeded two pomegranates in 20 minutes rather than the 30 it usually takes her for one. We laughed and asked each other what took us so long to learn this over and over as she shared her amazement.

Food is fun. Yesterday, following my son's amazing presentation of Chicken and Mushrooms, my girlie spent time on line and found recipes for Shrimp Fettucini Alfredo, a Caesar where you keep the Romaine leaf whole and an apple cake dessert. She wants to feed us for New Year's Eve.  I'm all for it.

Let's keep the fun of all the Christmas holiday cooking (and the time to plan, create and share) in our hearts as this New Year arrives. And let's plan to offer what we enjoy in the conversation and the recipe sharing all year through.

Happy New Year to you. And Bon Appetite!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Chicken & Mushrooms. Done!

We did it. And when I say we I mean my 15 year old son was at the helm.
We made this: just chicken and mushrooms.

The meal is really simple with a little bit of finesse. Chicken breasts down to sear, flip, continue, add mushrooms, move to the oven, remove breasts, cook on the stovetop, deglaze with water, cook down and serve.

Oh my.

No original pics today, the boy needed his sous chef! (This is from foodwishes, you need to see this fabulous site.)

We served these alongside sweet potatoes( baked at 400 for almost 90 minutes) and a miners leaf salad with just olive oil and tomato vinegar. Yum.

Do try.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chicken & Mushrooms

This is what I'll be doing today. Through Dorie Greenspan's blog I happened on to the genius of Chef John at Food Wishes.

I vote we all just cook this today and call each other to discuss!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cream Cheese Ice Box Cookies - Joy of Cooking

These are truly the perfect Christmas Cookies.

I'm going to go make some, roll them out and let the decorating begin! Join me?

About forty-two 21⁄4-inch cookies
Whisk together:
   2 cups all-purpose flour
   ½ teaspoon baking powder
   1/8 teaspoon baking soda
   ½ teaspoon salt

Beat in a large bowl until fluffy:
   11 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
   3 ounces cream cheese, softened
   1 cup sugar

Beat in:
   1 large egg
   1 teaspoon vanilla
   (¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest)
   (Decorative sugar, cinnamon sugar, or nonpareils)

Stir in the flour mixture until blended. Refrigerate until slightly firm, about 1 hour. Shape the dough into a 12-inch log. Refrigerate or freeze until very firm. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease or line 2 cookie sheets. Cut the log into 3/16-inch-thick slices and arrange about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Before baking, sprinkle the tops with:
   (Decorative sugar, cinnamon sugar, or nonpareils)
Bake, 1 sheet at time, until the cookies are browned at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand briefly. Then remove to a rack to cool.

Oh, we thank you Irma Rombauer and Joy of Cooking.

Christmas Cookies!

Let's go!

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside. (No mention of a sifter here.)

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add the beaten egg and vanilla mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about one hour (or overnight) or until firm enough to roll.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Keep turning the dough as you roll, making sure the dough does not stick to the counter. Cur out shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to chill the dough which prevents the cookies from spreading and losing their shapes while baking.

Note: if you are not going to frost the baked cookies, you may want to sprinkle the unbaked cookies with colored crystal or sparkling sugar.

Bake cookies for about 8-10 (depending on size) or until they are just beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Frost with royal icing and sparkling sugar, if desired. Be sure to let the royal icing dry completely before storing. (This may take several hours.)

Frosted cookies will keep several days in an airtight container. Store between layers of parchment paper or wax paper.
Makes about 20 - 3 inch cookies.

For Royal Icing with Egg Whites:
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg white with the lemon juice. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.

Thanks to Joy of Baking
Picture courtesy: 
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