Sunday, October 25, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
One of my favorite magazines is Real Simple. I call it my housewife guidebook. It kept me sane during my Bryn Mawr days and certainly it keeps me entertained now planning for holiday fests occurring in the near future. In the age of the Internet I also get weekly emails with yummy, and more importantly simple recipes to make. Last week I received this one and Sunday night dinner was planned.
Spiced braised beef with sweet potatoes
1 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into chunks
2 sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 large red onion, cut into wedges
1/2 cup dried apricots
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 10-ounce box couscous (1 1/2 cups)
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
2 cups baby spinach (1 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped
In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the beef, potatoes, tomatoes (and their juices), onion, apricots, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup water.
Cook, covered, until the meat is tender, on high for 4 to 5 hours, or on low for 7 to 8 hours.
Ten minutes before serving, prepare the couscous according to the package directions.
Add the chickpeas to the slow cooker and cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the spinach. Serve with the couscous and sprinkle with the almonds.
I got a little heavy handed with the spices and the meal had a bite. Although the Real Simple recipe says it is easy to reheat, I found the first time around was the best. It was like a Mediterranean beef stew and I really think that you could mix and match some of the ingredients with your own tastes.
Giada has a similar beef stew recipe with sweet potatoes. I have also tried another recipe with lamb that had many of the same flavors and ingredients. Hopefully with a winter full of weekend crock pot meals I will find some real winners.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I think you can use just about any recipe for apple pie. Really if you think about it there are only 5 or so ingredients: pie crust, apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice and flour. I do however have two tricks I like to use when making pie.
Second, I assemble the pie first with a bit of the dry sugar concoction, add apples firmly stacking them into the crust, and then add the rest of the dry ingredients before adding the second crust. (To me, fruit pies have a bottom crust and a top crust, none of this crumb topping here.) This allows for the sugar to bubble at the bottom with apple juices but also seep through from the top.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
My thought process was that at the interview studio she would stick around and chat with fans. Boy was I wrong, not that she was not gracious and didn't want to be overcome with overzealous fans but the Times people would allow none of it. No pictures, and no hugging. She was came in talked, answered a few questions and out she went.
This was a 45 minute conversation between Giada and Pete Wells. Pete Wells is an acclaimed writer for the NY times and has won many awards for his food pieces and editorials. He is however not known for his live interview skills. Lets just say it was a bit of an awkward interaction between the two.
There was the normal food questions of: how did you get started, who inspired you and what is your favorite food?
Her favorite kitchen gadget of the moment are the different size graters or Microplanes. She is not a lecturer and does not plan on entering the political arena for sustainability of food and agriculture. Her solution is to eat a variety of foods not only for your health but the health of the plant. She is no Jamie Oliver.
Some parts were cute, some were interesting, and some were not so great. Giada is much smaller than she looks on TV and was quite fashionable for this interview. Let's just say the jewelry and the heals would have gotten in the way of the cooking.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I got to see the man from Japan that is on Iron Chef. There was a mini competition at the Grand Tasting. I also ran into Ellie Krieger and the newest Next Food Network star Melissa Diarabian. I somehow walked right past Tyler Florence and didn't notice until Jordan brought it to my attention. I kind of wanted a picture of his butt but thought it might be somewhat inappropriate. I do get a bit star-struck at times.
Friday, October 9, 2009
There are a variety of champagnes that I consider superb deals and won't break the bank either. Moet Chandon (white star label) is a favorite, as is Veuve Clicgnot (I lovingly refer to this as the orange label). Mumm also offers a good champagne. These bottles can range from $35-$45. The taste is amazing. You will one immediately tell the difference from some cheap grocery store bottle and two you will never be able to go back to the ordinary Korbel. Unless of course you are making mimosa, then by all means use the cheap stuff.
If you have something to celebrate go out and get a bottle of one of these champagnes and some strawberries. It is such a trip. It is a nice change of pace from going out to eat or giving a gift; it lets someone know they are special.
Now, my next feat is going to go to the champagnes of all champagnes - I am still waiting for my Dom Perignon.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
I had to get my extravagant birthday notions from someone. For me, it was my mother. Thus this being the first time I have seen my parents since my birthday it was only a matter of time before she whipped up a mini celebration.
I am a big fan of supporting small local bakeries. Baking is a hard business to make a profit in so any patronage is greatly appreciated. However, the cake above was purchased from Whole Foods. Now despite recent anger with some of their business practices, I believe Whole Foods is a far better business than most. Who could resist that chocolaty goodness? This is the 6 inch chocolate ganache cake. The point of this blog is to say, just because it is a big show grocery store does not mean they cannot produce high quality, real ingredient products. So if you are in a bind, do not fret.
The other point is that simple can be better. The trend for cakes these days is to to go above and beyond. Theme flavors and candy bar mimicking cakes can be delicious but you can only be inundated with so many flavors at once. Don't be suckered into the extremes, pick one filling and a complimentary frosting and be done.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love the crisp cool air, the changing the of the leaves, and the opportunity to have the oven on without dying of heat. Its tradition in my family to go to the apple orchards every year. Each place I have lived we have seemed to locate one really go orchard to stake out. In Maine it has been Wallingford Orchards. I do live in New York now but happening to be visiting Maine this week. Thus, it would be be fall without a trip to the apple orchard.
I do find it a bit strange that I manage to go in and out of there with no pictures of the actual apples.