Tuesday, January 19, 2010

birthday weekend

My family arrived from northern New York Friday evening - my oldest greandson and I share the same birthday, and this was his 21st - so, a celebration was in order. They didn't arrive until close to nine p.m., when I put a pot of water on to boil pasta,the sauce for which was ready except for a last minute addiition of sea scallops and a fistful of fresh, chopped mint. I had split a ciabatta in half lengthwise and spread it generously with softened, unsalted butter mixed with chopped, roasted garlic cloves and generous amount of chopped parsley.I baked this at 375 convection till it became bubbly and crisp on the edges, then sliced it. We started with a simple mesclun salad dressed with a terrific vinaigrette - mustard, honey, cider and sherry vinegars and evoo. I put in a tray of broccoli florets tossed with olive oil,crushed red pepper and sea salt along with the bread, and removed it from the oven when it was lightly caramelized. Dessert was a deep dish apple pie, served with the requisit vanilla ice cream. We ate, we talked, we laughed and we drank good wine. What fun!~The next night eleven of us went out for Chinese food and came home to the birthday cake. I'd seen a recipe for a hot chocolate layer cake with a wontonly rich frosting and a topping of home made marshmallows - my first. It was a mammoth success, well worth the considerable effort. Sunday morning I rose long before the rest of the family - I am definitely a morning person - and prepared a frittata - potato and eggs - put it in the oven where it puffed up beautifully and I topped it with a judicious sprinkling of cheese. I served it with thick slices of rosemary toast and offered Budapest coffee cake with the coffee. A wonderful weekend, filled with love and laughter.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

cooking lesson

I offered to give a friend a few cooking lessons so that she could master some techniques and feel more self-confident in the kitchen. For our first lesson, I chose a mediterranean chicken dish, sauteed thighs atop a melange of sauteed onion, garlic, lemon zest and seasonings, mixed with green olives and dried apricots,chicken stock and white wine, with a bit of cider vineage. This was then baked in its skillet. A perfect dish for a cold, wintry night. We prepared brown rice to be served with it, enabling me to demonstrate my way of cooking all rices, using a large amount of boiling water, as I would for pasta. This method ensures each grain emerging separate and fluffy. We also prepared tsatziki, to serve with toasted pita chips before dinner. I've found a brand of pita called Atis which lend themselves particularly well to making thin chips. I brush them with olive oil and zaatar before baking for just five or six minutes, and they stay crisp for several days in a tightly sealed baggie.We had a good time, the chicken was delicious and she took home dinner for that night.