Sunday, February 22, 2009

a classic french dish cooked to impress

in my last post i mentioned the coq au vin. i realize it was kinda pointless to post that lil' blurb but the smell was just so kick ass and i was alone in my apartment and didn't have anyone else to share it with!

so now, here it is. another classic french dish attempted. another smashing success. (toot! toot!)

although i now own mastering the art of french cooking i decided to go with a recipe i found in bon apetit.

first things first. check out this kick ass new dutch oven i treated myself to.

although i adore my single woman's dutch oven (thanks what's for dinner!!) and have put it to good use it was time for an upgrade. i picked up this 5 3/4 quart chantal talavera at tj maxx. yes, le creuset is my dream and they even had some at tj maxx (marked WAY down from their original price) but i had to ask myself, why spend $120 when you can spend $50? someday i'll own a le creuset. just not yet.

so into the delightful new single woman but cookin' for a crowd's dutch oven went 4 whole chicken legs, chopped carrots, celery, onions, some fresh thyme and a couple of bay leaves.

then i added a bottle of cheap red wine to the mix.

then i stuck it in the fridge to marinate over night. look at those chocolate stouts. mmmmm.

here is something else sweet. a friend helped me set up a new bank account and as a promotion they offered $50 in free groceries. woohoo! i stocked up on some pantry essentials!

after marinating all night i took the dutch oven outta the fridge and let it come up to temperature on the counter before sticking it on a hot stove.

in the meantime i tackled the pearl onions. whew. what a pain in the neck! i boiled some water and dumped the onions in for about 2-3 minutes. then i drained them and dumped them right into a bowl of cold water. i cut off the root end and according to various sources the onions should just pop right out when you squeeze 'em. some popped right out. others did not. this took a few minutes.

next i quartered some 'shrooms.

i set aside the onions and the mushrooms and pulled the chicken out of the pot.

i patted the chicken dry with paper towels, seasoned them with a lil' salt and pepper and then set them aside. i put the dutch oven on the stove top over medium low heat to heat it through.

i sauteed the onions and mushrooms in a lil' butter over medium heat.

once they were tender (about 7 minutes or so) i took them out and then fried up my bacon.

once the bacon was brown i removed it from the pan, crumbled it up and added it to the bowl of 'shrooms and onions. then i wiped out my skillet and browned the chicken over medium-high heat.

this smelled SO good. really, really good.

once the chicken was nice and brown i added it back to the
pot o' goodness.

now it was time to just walk away and let it simmer uncovered.

here it is when it just started simmering.

and here it is again after about an hour and a half.

at this point i removed the chicken to a plate and drained the entire pot over a big bowl. i added the chicken and the liquid back to the single woman but cookin' for a crowd's dutch oven. what of the other trimmings? they went down the disposal. they left their flavors in the liquid and it was time for them to say goodbye.

i added the mushrooms, onions and crumbled bacon to the mix and warmed it through over medium heat.

then i packed it up and headed over to my dad's. my secret boyfriend eric ripert suggests serving coq au vin over noodles and julia and company suggest serving it with parsley potatoes and buttered peas. i decided to serve it over garlic smashed potatoes.

i roasted a bulb of garlic with a lil' olive oil and some salt and pepper for about 40 minutes or so. then i squeezed the cloves out of their skins and roughly chopped them.

i made pretty traditional smashed potatoes (butter, milk, salt and pepper) and then smashed in the chopped roasted garlic for that lil' something extra.

and here is my coq au vin over garlic mashed potatoes.

this was really, really good. the chicken just came right off the bone and we lapped up the sauce with a nice crusty hunk of french bread.

mmm. mmm. mmm.

man, french cooking is tops!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

wish you were here

man oh man. i wish you all could smell the wonderful smells that have taken over my entire apartment. as i post this update a big pot of coq au vin is simmering on my stove.

it smells sooooooooooo good.

i am making it to take out to someone i love very much for a celebratory dinner.

i'll let you know how it turns out!

Monday, February 16, 2009

homecookin' for librarians

every year the university library i work for hosts a chili and soup cook-off. last year i entered for the first time and served up my kale, chorizo & potato soup. i love that soup and i got a ton of compliments but apparently the namby pamby judges thought it was "too hot." ppppfffftttt!!!!

so this year i wanted to tone down the spice and serve up something a lil' more homestyle. some real homecookin' that would stick to the librarians' ribs.

i went with my grandma's tried and true ham pot pie. this is a time honored tradition in our family. any time there is some leftover ham my gma will make a big pot and the whole crew gathers and slurps it up.

last year i decided to start collecting family recipes so i asked gma for the ham pot pie recipe. she told me that there was no recipe and i should just come over and watch her make it. so i watched and i took notes and i decided to try it out for the first time on the librarians.

here are my notes.

saturday i headed up to the west side market for provisions. i picked up half of a smoked bone-in ham that was about 7 pounds. now, this is way too much ham. my gma usually just uses holiday leftovers but this was the smallest one i could get and besides bigger is usually better!

once i got home i chopped a large yellow onion into thick slices. i put the onions and the ham into my big stock pot and covered it with cold water. i put it on the stove and simmered it for about 7 hours until the ham was falling off the bone.

here it is after a few hours. it doesn't look like much now but just wait!

once it was falling off the bone i took it off the heat, let it come to room temperature and then stuck it in the fridge for 2 days.

monday night after work i skimmed the layer of fat of the top and pulled the ham out.

i chopped the ham against the grain into big chunks then i added it back to the stock. actually i added about 2/3 of it back to the stock and froze the rest. i put it on the stove on medium heat and got to work on the rest of the elements.

homemade noodles seemed a little intimidating. i suggest a breckenridge vanilla porter to help with that.

the notes i made said, "3 eggs - beat to very light." hmmmm. i took this as, "beat the hell out of the eggs." so i did.

then i added a lil' salt and a couple of tablespoons of ice water and whipped it some more. i added 2 cups of sifted flour and "worked it with my hands."

this was the stickiest stuff ever!

with my clean hand i called gma. she said, "add some more flour. you need a lot of flour."

after i figured out the dough i kneaded and rolled and then laid it out on cookie sheets. i used a pizza cutter to cut the noodles.

when the soup was hot (but not boiling) i added the noodles a few at a time - stirring constantly so they wouldn't stick. i cooked these for a while and in the meantime sliced and peeled five big russet potatoes. then i added those to the soup.

this simmered some more until the noodles were all plumped and floating and the potatoes were cooked through and just starting to fall apart.

so this was my library chili and soup cook-off entry. i took third place. actually fourth since there was a tie for second. more importantly though - i got a TON of compliments and i took home an empty crock pot. one woman even told me that the noodles were just like her mom used to make! woohoo! apparently my co-workers have better palates than the panel of judges!

what can i say? sometimes i like to toot my own horn.

Friday, February 6, 2009

playin' ketchup
or is it catsup?

the fancy french eggs have really come a long way. man oh man. i think i have eaten them every sunday morning for the last month. ha! delicious!

so good in fact i had to show them off for a few of my friends. a couple of weeks ago we had a giganto snow storm. giganto.
here's proof:

(thankfully this is not my car but it was just a few blocks away.)

the day before the giganto snow storm everyone at my work was buzzin' about a possible snow day. the university rarely grants us snow days so i didn't want to get my hopes up too high. but then the news was calling for it and everyone was talking about it and i couldn't help but be sold.

after work i went to acme for provisions.

i picked up eggs, heavy cream, maple sausage links, OJ, beer (mmmm.....) and wine - the essentials. then i sent out the message, "yo! if it's a snow day and you are within walking distance come over. i'm making breakfast!"

i was sad when i went to bed cuz it didn't seem too bad out but then bright and early at 6:30 am i got the emergency text with those precious, magical words, "the university will be closed today."


i got into the kitchen after going back to sleep for a while and by 11:00 served up fancy french eggs, cheesy scrambled eggs, toast with strawberry jam, sausage links, pancakes, duck fat potatoes and vegan potatoes.

i put on the coffee and some friends brought over their flasks (jamison [thanks stormin' norman] and tullamore dew [thanks viper]). and when those ran out we took a step down and poured jim beam into our coffee.

six brave, hungry souls took on the elements and we pigged out, said again and again how we couldn't believe how much fucking snow there was, watched a boy named charlie brown and played buzzword and uno.

it was a pretty fucking kick ass snow day!

in other cooking news i pulled out an old standby for super bowl sunday.

pulled pork.

mmmmm. this is after about 5 hours at 300 degrees. i reduced the juice by half and added it to my trusty mustard/cider vinegar sauce. i served it on super cheap white buns and it was a hit. of course. slow roasted pork slathered in a vinegary sauce? come on. it's a no brainer.

here are some cool photos.

this is mike and jeff's super meat party aka venison jerky makin' party. i tasted the finished product. mmmmm.

here are some of the fixin's for the cioppino i made the other night. man oh man. i LOVE this stew. you can use just about whatever seafood you can find and it is super, super easy. and delicious of course.

gentle ben had the day off so he headed to the west side market and later some crazy latin fish market for the sea creatures. he couldn't get little neck clams so he got those gigantic ones. he also picked up some bay scallops, shrimp and mussels. one of my dearest old friends and his red headed lady friend brought the last essential item - the wine.

when ben got to my house the mussels were all opened. this kinda freaked me out. i consulted the joy of cooking and they said to stick 'em in the freezer. if they closed up they were good to go. if they stayed open they were deadly! well, not deadly but not good either. not a single one of those damn things closed. rats. no go on the mussels for safety's sake.

and here it is. mmmmmm. so good. so very, very good.

ben also picked up a baguette which i stuck in the oven so it could get nice and warm and crusty. we slathered butter on chunks of bread and sopped up the broth between bites of clams and shrimps and scallops. yum.

and now for a side note - a bit of vanity. lots of friends and family say, "i love your blog!" yet no one ever leaves comments except my fellow bloggers, the viper, the shitetarian and xenia.

you can leave a comment every now and then. it would sure make me feel nice and maybe give me some kind of reason to continue this blog other than my own nerdom.

that is all.