Friday, March 22, 2013

Shroom city, welcome to it.

Guys. This is so good.

That's what I captioned this picture when I posted it on instagram the other day.
It wasn't quite accurate.  This is not so good... This is SO good!

It's mushroom ragout.  Sounds boring right?  Ok... maybe not boring.  Not interesting? whatever... you should make this.

I swung by whole foods on my way home from work after a long day knowing that I wanted to cook something that involved a little more care... a little bit of prep.  I think cooking is generally my go-to relaxation technique. A little wine, a little knife skills (prob best in reverse order), a little dump and stir and I feel so much better no matter what came before the wine, chopping and stirring.

Anyway, when I walked into whole foods, I saw this gorgeous mushroom display (sidenote:  how do the whole foods overlords know how to make the food look SO appealing?? Gets me every time.) They probably had 10 different types of mushrooms.  I picked up wood ears, chantarelles, cremini and hedge hogs along with a package of local white button mushrooms and headed home.  They also had oyster, enoki, porcini, portabellas and a couple of other varieties.  Mushrooms are cool because you can get really deep, caramelized, meaty flavor without too much cooking time, like after a long day at work.  Did I mention I had a long day at work?


Below is a rough estimate for a recipe.  I don't generally like to use recipes, I like to make things up.  The problem with this is when you want to share something that is So. Good.  Well - if it sucks when YOU try to make it, consider this fair warning..  (just kidding - this won't suck... you could just dump all these ingredients in a feedbag and give it a shake and it would still probably taste good)

I served this on the side of a Niman Ranch ham and a few roasted beets.

The beets made for a great balance of sweet and savory and complemented the earthiness of the mushrooms really well.  (All those words mean nothing except for mmmmm gooooooood.)  This would also make a great pasta sauce if you used a bit of pasta water to thin it out. Or over steaks!  The possibilities are endless.
Mushroom Ragout with Bacon

2lbs various mushrooms, sliced (I used white button, cremini, chantarelles, wood ears and hedge hogs)
1 yellow onion, diced
3 Strips thick cut bacon, diced ( I use niman ranch or truck patch farms bacon)
1 Sprig Thyme
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup stock (you could use any kind - I used homemade veal stock)
1/4 cup white wine
2 tbsp coconut milk (my husband is allergic to casein so I used this instead of regular cream.  You could also use a knob of cream cheese or a spoonful of creme fraiche)

Brown the bacon pieces in a heavy bottomed skillet.
Once browned, remove the bacon and set aside leaving the rendered fat in the pan.
Add the diced onions to the pan and slowly begin to caramelize on medium heat.
When the onions are just starting to caramelize, add the mushrooms, a few shakes of salt, and cook until they give off all their water and begin to caramelize.  (If you have some mushrooms that are more delicate like the wood ears, add the other mushrooms first, cook them off a bit and then add the more delicate ones)
At this point add the thyme sprig and the tomato paste and brown.
Add the wine to the pan and deglaze, scraping all the browned bits off the bottom.  Reduce the wine a bit and add the stock and bacon and stir.
Add the coconut milk.
Let simmer for about 10 minutes over low heat until liquid has reduced to a glaze and mushrooms are soft.
Serve with a drizzle of truffle oil over top (optional not optional)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A little home happy hour...

Hi both of you who are left!  You are in luck because today I have a fantastic cocktail recipe for you that I think I might just have made up a couple of weeks ago. (Note:  I am positive that it's basically impossible to make anything up these days but I refuse to search the internet just to refute that statement and see that someone has done this better than me with prettier pictures - so... here is a totally original recipe that I obviously made up).

The week had been an exhausting one.  Work has been challenging, there was an impending snowstorm be excited about and then let down by and a huge grant to recover from.  There were deadlines, bills and paper rewrites.  By the time Friday afternoon rolled around the idea of spending the evening out and about had zero appeal.  So, on my way home from work I swung by whole foods for some rations.  Olives, pickles, popcorn, kale chips and a little soppresatta seemed like a perfectly reasonable dinner.

While I was there, I noticed it was still blood orange season.  They had the most perfect blood orange cut in half on display, practically screaming to be made into some sort of cocktail.  So I snagged four of them and headed to the register.

By the time I got home, I realized that a drink of decent strength was needed to soften the exit from the workday (that was a poetic way of saying that a glass of wine wasn't going to cut it)  so I set my sights on some bourbon, my drink of choice when the going gets tough.

At first, my plan was to juice the oranges and use it as a mixer with some fresh mint but that sounded sort of meh and I was in the mood for something a bit more bracing.  While it would probably make for a delicious drink, I was planning to use a pretty good bourbon and didn't want to completely cover the flavor with juice and herbs.  So, the blood orange old fashioned was born.

Why yes, I am still using my Christmas table cloth... thanks for asking!
And it was delicious!

Burnt Sugar Blood Orange Old Fashioned

2 ounces whiskey (rye or bourbon – I used Black Maple Hill Bourbon Whiskey)
1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 Blood Orange wedges
Maraschino cherry (I didn't have any of these sadly)
2 teaspoon blood orange juice (for muddling)
Sprinkle the sugar on top of the blood orange wedges.  Hit them quickly with a culinary torch (as if you are making creme brulee topping) until they start to caramelize.  If you don't have a culinary torch (thanks adam!) you can stick them under your broiler (on high) as close as you can get them for a minute or two.  Drop the cooled orange wedges in the bottom of an Old-Fashioned glass. Add the bitters and juice directly to the sugar on the fruit so that they begin to absorb.  Muddle with the back of a spoon or a muddler.  Add the whiskey and one or two large ice cubes. Stir gently. Garnish with a thinly sliced blood orange.  You can top with a splash of seltzer if you like but that would make you a pansy.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

on turning thirty...

Pfft Pfft... this thing on?

anyone out there still reading this?

oh... hi :)

I'm not going to do any promising that I will be back and posting regularly but I am going to offer you a new post because I just want to do some gushing about my amazing friends and a fantastic cidery in Maryland.  Is cidery a word?

A few weeks ago I turned thirty.  I feel fine... maybe a little more crotchety... My yoga teacher tells me that this is when the wisdom comes.  Well, I think I felt it the day after I turned 30... it was either wisdom or a hangover.  Maybe 80/20 wisdom/hangover?  I wasn't dreading my thirtieth but I wasn't especially excited about it either.  There are always things that you don't get to in time right? But before my birthday I decided I would embrace it and not be upset because I didn't accomplish x, y or z.  After all, I have accomplished a lot of things in the years leading up to thirty that weren't even ON my 'list'.  Those have to count for something, right?  Right.

Anywhoo.  I woke up the morning of my birthday to hot coffee from my husband, this view:

and the most perfect weather for some fall frolicking along the vineyards of western Maryland.  My amazing friend Sarah had planned a full day of cider and wine tasting, picnicking and general merriment with some of my closest friends.

Why yes, those are 30 glasses I'm wearing... thanks M!

We started the day in a decked out party bus and made our way to Distillery Lane Ciderworks.  This place was awesome.

The ciders were fantastic and they had a great selection.

You can also get non alcoholic cider, go apple picking, and get a tour of the orchard, which we took them up on.

Woodberry Kitchen features several of their ciders in their cocktails and by the glass.

My favorite was the Encampment.  It was nice and dry with just the slightest hint of fizziness and the packaging was great.

After Distillery Lane, we headed to Black Ankle Vineyards for a tasting and picnic.  Black Ankle probably makes some of the best wine in Maryland and is also featured on the Woodberry Kitchen Menu.

We had our tasting, purchased a few bottles and spread out for a nice picnic and some headstands.  Typical.

Following Black Ankle we headed to Linganore Winery where we tasted SIXTEEN "wines" for five dollars.  There were certainly no more headstands after that.

Once wine tasting was over, we headed to Miguel's in Silo Point for dinner which we needed and margaritas which we did not.  It was a fantastic day and I still get the warm fuzzies every time I think about it.

Thank you friends and family.  You are amazing.  So. Amazing.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kitchen Tools

Hi friends... I've been working on this series of posts for a while but when I saw this article about the one trick ponies of the cooking world in the New York Times dining section, I knew I had to get on it.  

As all (eight) of you know, I've been married now for almost 2 years. 

This definitely makes me something of an expert.  As you all know, I'm quite the domestic… except that I don't clean.  Or do laundry… or really anything besides cook and leave a giant mess for my loving husband to clean up.  While I'm not going to dole out marriage advice on this post (even though I know you're all just dying for it), I am going to offer some pretty solid tips on building a kitchen together from the ground up.   I cook at least once every day so I have a good feeling for what we use and don't use (even if I had a temper tantrum in crate and barrel because I absolutely needed it  we decided to put it on the registry) on a regular basis. 

I'm going to keep my suggestions pretty lean here because a. Ruhlman's done a great job and b. you really just don't need that much.  This is especially true if you have a lot of awkward cabinet space and not a lot of quality counter space.  A wise man once told me that nothing should be stacked on top of anything else unless what's underneath is exactly the same.  Keeping that in mind, here are my suggestions for kitchen basics that use up limited storage space. 

Pots and Pans

Yes… I will admit… the allure of a shiny new 12 piece cookware set is strong.  But trust me... Avoid it.  First of all, you are more likely to get all the pieces you want if they don't come in one giant $500.00 box and secondly, how annoying is it that the 3 lids that come in these sets are considered “pieces” (hint: VERY annoying).

I really recommend All Clad Stainless Steel cookware.  It's a bit pricier but it is seriously worth the money as it will hold up well over time and you can get some good deals.  It also has some heft to it so it will hold heat evenly. 

All Clad 2 piece fry pan set.   
All Clad Essential Pan 
All Clad 6qt Deep Sauté Pan 
All Clad Stainless Steel Soup Pot 
(this place has some great pricing on all clad )

I'd say get either the Deep Sauté Pan or the Soup Pot if you don't have room or budget for all of these pieces. 

I would also recommend two pieces of Cast Iron… A nice skillet (bonus, you can turn it upside down under your broiler and use it as the most effective pizza stone ever) and a Dutch Oven.  These puppies are heavy and require a little extra care but they will last you forever.  You will be handing them down to your grand kids fo sho. 

Here are two great, inexpensive options… you can always go with Le Creuset or Staub if you’re fancier!

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet 
Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven 

If you absolutely can't live without a nonstick pan, I recommend the Bialetti Aeternum Sauté Pans.  We have recently acquired one of these after Bon Appetit Magazine recommend them and I have to say, they make my omelette making process significantly less f-wordy.


Here’s a perfect starter set from Wustof:

These knives can accomplish almost anything you need to do in the kitchen.

I have Shun knives.  I have to say, they are beautiful AND amazing tools.  I highly recommend them and I use multiple ones daily.  Does everyone need a multi-piece knife set from Shun?  No.  Will the two piece starter set I just listed from Wustof do just fine?  Yep!  If you are constantly in the kitchen and cooking is one of your hobbies and you’d rather get knives than take a weekend trip somewhere then I would definitely suggest Shuns. 

If you are not the person I just described then definitely stick with the Wustofs.  I would maybe consider adding this Shun santoku to your collection though… it will make fast work of onions AND fingertips (I speak from experience here.)

My advice with knives is to take care of them.  Hone them with steel regularly and take them to get sharpened at a local knife sharpener when they need them.  Treat em well and they will last a long, long time. 

One exception… I'm going to let you in on a secret.  I have some other knives… knives that I use more often than my Shun.  They're the sharpest effing knives I've ever used.  and my 4 piece set cost me about 20 bucks… and I may or may not buy the paring knives in bulk… I hone them until the edge is worn down and then (carefully) toss them.  They're thin but damn they're sharp. 

Here's the deal though… if I tell you about them, you CANNOT buy them.  If I try to go to the sketchy yahoo store and buy them next time and they’re sold out because my (eight) readers bought them all, I will be pissed.  PISSED.

Here's the link  What I would recommend you NOT buy from them is an 11” with a pointed end, an 11” with a blunt end, a 7.5” and the 13.5” cleaver.  Don't do it. 

Up Next: Cooks Tools and Big Ticket Items to round out your kitchen essentials. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sleeping the Night Away

It's been a while since I've been back here with a legit post but I have a good one for you today.  And while we're at it, I'd like to take this time to pimp my guest post on my friend's wonderful blog Choose Your Journey.  I love her blog, it's definitely my favorite fitness blog out there.  So please check it out!

Anyway - back to it.
I stumbled across a pretty cool blog called ecosalon.  They have all sorts of interesting articles.... Some funny, some informative, some just generally awesome.  While I was perusing the archives, one article on ten foods that can help with sleep caught my eye.  I have pretty significant sleep issues.  I tend to have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and then, if I actually do fall asleep, waking up in the morning.  While I don't imagine this article being a cure-all for my problems, it seems like a good place to start.

Tart Cherries from Eco Salon

Some of the suggestions include popcorn (due to its levels of tryptophan), tart cherries (from their melatonin boosting antioxidants) and halibut (high levels of B6 as well as more tryptophan).  There are 17 more items on the list so go check it out in its entirety.

And of course, since it's one of the suggestions, I'll give you a quick and easy recipe for an addictive popcorn snack.

Truffled Herbes de Provence Popcorn

3 Tbsp Unpopped Popcorn Kernels
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Truffle Oil
1 Tbsp Herbes de Provence *
Extra Salt (to taste)
Paper lunch bag

Toss the popcorn kernels in a bowl with olive oil
Pour the oiled kernels into the paper bag and fold the top over once.
Place the bag on a microwave safe plate and microwave on high for two minutes or until the popping begins to slow (2-3 seconds between each pop)
Dump the popped popcorn into a bowl and toss with truffle oil, herbes de provence, and more salt if desired.

*Bonus sleeping tool - Herbes de Provence generally contains lavender which is known to increase relaxation and improve time to sleep.

Happy snoozing!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy VD

Hi Friends!

Happy Valentines Day!  Hope you and your loves have a great one.

To Justin - So True  (from pinterest user bianca_leigh)

I know it's been quite around here again lately but I'm hoping to get back to regular posting when life settles down (hopefully soon!)

What are you all doing for Valentine's Day?  Usually I don't celebrate but this year the hubs and I are going to an awesome sounding dinner at Smoke and Barrel in DC with my friend Sarah.  I have already peep'd the menu and have locked my sights on a venison tenderloin entrée.  The three course dinner is paired with some of Ommegang beers.  Everything sounds so fantastic.  Here's the link if you're interested in checking out the tavern.  My friend Matt is the tavern-keeper and I'm so excited to check it out.

Anyway, I hope to be posting with more regularity in the near future so don't forget about me :)


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

So here's the thing....

We had a great party on new years eve.  I could go on for quite some time about how lovely my friends are and how I constantly feel so lucky to spend these special moments with them because they are so freaking fantastic.  But noone really wants to read that, right?  So instead, I'm going to show you the most amazing picture ever taken.  It pretty much sums up new years eve.

M & A... Not too serious to fist bump.

We had a great time, consumed quite a bit of bubbly and an equal or greater amount of snacks (I'll post the menu below in case anyone is interested in a recipe or two).  But really, I just am so happy that I could ring in the new year with no shoes, a fantastic NYE tiara and a party dress in my home with my husband and my friends, new and old.  I feel SO LUCKY.

Enough gushing... here's the foodstuffs!
Truffle Popcorn
Curry Yogurt Dip and Veggies
Bacon Jam Rolls
Rosemary & Black Pepper Pickled Grapes
Bay & Mustard Marinated Olives
Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup
Mushroom and Thyme Spread
Carrot Hummus with Lamb Ragu
White Wine and Homemade Mustard Glazed Ham with Rye Bread

If you want any of these recipes, hit me up!

Happy New Years everyone.  If the last few days have been any indication, it's going to be a great year.