Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Home Cooking...

This apartment must feel like home already. I can tell by getting sick. Not that I recommend getting sick but it is a true test of what you view “home” as. When I was little with a runny nose or fever, nothing was more comforting than my bed pillow on the living room sofa drifting in and out of sleep watching daytime television. When I was sick in college I still craved my parent’s house. That still felt like home to me. But I distinctly remember the first time I got sick in Connecticut at work and all I could think of is getting home to my little apartment and putting my bed pillow on my couch.

This week I had my first cold here in Virginia and desperately wanted to be on my couch next to my beautiful big windows, the sun warming me into a hazy sleep brought on by the Food Network and Robitussin. I came home midday yesterday and did just that.

But enough about that.

What did I cook this week? It was a mishmash of things really. On Saturday night while Jared ate a piece of steak the size of my head (more about that to come), I made myself a delightful panino- GDL’s Panino Di Fontina. I have adored every crusty crunchy panino and crustino Giada has recommended. Maybe someday I’ll write my very own Everyday Panini. But for now, this grilled sandwich with fontina cheese, spinach and red onion was a quick and delicious meal.

So as formally mentioned, Jared purchased a giant piece of a cow at Tom Leonard’s (yes, Stew Leonard from Connecticut had a son Tom who opened a similar store in Richmond of all places!). It was a really economical purchase really. The Tom Leonard’s butcher sliced it into 9 thick steaks that are now lined up in my formally vegetarian freezer. Totally worth it to see how happy he was.

With Jared’s guidance I used one of those steaks to make GDL’s Steak Florentine. I obviously didn’t taste it but Jared seemed to enjoy it. I’ve seen him season the steak with salt and pepper before but this time we added garlic and lemon juice. It looked simple and smelled pretty good but unfortunately that’s all I can really say about that one!

This weekend is the big challenge- Easter dinner. Wish me luck!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wild (Mushroom) Night...

No word from my dozens of bleaders (an optimistic guestimation) on my Easter Extravaganza. But even so, I've decided to go through with it even if no one shows up.

So last night I made Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Basil Pine Nut Sauce. Jared and I had just arrived home from our respective gyms and in desperate need of sustenance. I had been looking forward to this one and it did not disappoint.

You start by roasting pine nuts in the oven for five minutes until they are soft and fragrant, then set aside to cool. While the ravioli boil (for just 5 minutes) you melt butter in a saucepan with basil leaves, salt and pepper and nutmeg. The sauce is poured over the ravioli and you top with the pine nuts and Parmesan.

I made crunchy garlic bread with an Asiago cheese baguette and when plated, I would say it rivaled any pasta dish we could have gotten downstairs in the fancy restaurant that's located on the first floor of my apartment building.

The dish was decadently buttery with a crunch from the pine nuts. For a meal that took maybe ten minutes from start to finish, it looks and tastes a lot more impressive than that and I will definitely be adding it to my growing list of "regulars."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

No Fuss Frittatas...

Trust me, I know how fun it is to hear about my cooking catastrophes and minor meltdowns. If I were meant to not make mistakes I would have been born into a different species. Yes, imperfection makes for hilarity and an entertaining blog (I hope I hope!) but today I’m afraid I will have to disappoint those who relish in my amusing misfortunes. I know this will last all of a minute or two but tonight I have nothing to complain about.

This past Sunday I awoke to a seventy degree day and nothing on my to do list. My boyfriend told me to sleep in as he hung my curtains and made me coffee. Shakespeare’s got nothing on this man. Who needs a sonnet when you have hazelnut coffeemate?

To return the favor- a GDL Potato Frittata. This has to be my new “go to” breakfast dish. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have potatoes, onion and eggs in my house. My fridge is practically begging me to whip this one up!

You start by instantly creating jealousy in your apartment building by perfuming the hallways with the sizzling smells of onion, garlic and potatoes. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, cream, Parmesan and basil and pour it directly over the potato mixture. After about two minutes or when you can see the eggs start to set and pull away from the edges of your fry pan, you put the whole pan under the broiler until the top is golden brown and you can’t stop drooling from the aroma.

The frittata gets flipped onto a plate and served (in our case) with hot sauce and ketchup. I am sure this is much to Giada’s disapproval but I’m French-Canadian and we like our eggs with ketchup and Jared puts Texas Pete’s on just about anything. Apparently “it’s a Southern Tradition” even though he’s from New Hampshire. I don’t get it.

Moving on.

I’m finding my groove here in Richmond. I’m really enjoying my job, which is a pleasant surprise, and I adore my apartment even if it does have an electric stove. With 98 recipes to go in Everyday Italian, I’m confident I’ll make my deadline. Especially since come summertime when Jared and I will certainly be grilling I can knock out some meat dishes (for Jared) and salads (for me) at the same time.

Now I’m going to throw something out there to my blog readers or as Julie Powell called them- bleaders. I’m thinking of going all out for Easter, a big GDL feast and my first big meat dish. What do we think? Here’s the potential menu- Roasted Pork Loin with Fig Sauce, Roasted Baby Potatoes with Herbs and Garlic, Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Raisins and Pine Nuts and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. OK, that last one isn’t quite Everyday Italian but what’s Easter without carrot cake?

Any words of encouragement or advice would be greatly appreciated, bleaders. Let me have it! 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Leftovers for Lunch...

Last week I made my first GDL meal in Richmond. As previously mentioned, there’s still a lot to do with the apartment and learning so much at work so by the time dinner rolls around, I’m absolutely exhausted. But as Jamie suggested and Jared concurred, a GDL dessert had to be made in celebration of the move! So Tuesday I made Orecchiette with Toasted Breadcrumbs with Marinated Strawberries over Pound Cake for dessert.

The Orecchiette with Toasted Breadcrumbs was nothing exciting but super quick and made enough for me, Jared and lunch the next day. But the Marinated Strawberries over Pound Cake were worth devoting several paragraphs to. So here they are…

You start by cleaning, hulling and halving a quart of fresh strawberries and tossing them in a shallow casserole dish. A third of a cup of balsamic vinegar gets poured over them and they sit marinating at room temperature for twenty minutes or as long as it took for Jared and I to eat our Orecchiette.

Next you sweeten the strawberries/vinegar with about two tablespoons of sugar and make the homemade whipped cream. You know the drill on my whipped cream by now but as a refresher- you beat about a third of a cup of heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar to sweeten and refrigerate until ready to use.

The pound cake (which GDL says to just buy ready made, bless her heart) gets sliced and placed on individual plates. The marinated strawberries are spooned over the slices and then topped with a big dollop of whipped cream.

Giada says in her intro to the recipe, “One word: easy. Make that two: delicious.” I say make it a couple more multi-hyphenated words: super-f-ing-scrum-didi-li-ump-tious. There’s a tartness to it from the balsamic vinegar but overall so sweet and creamy. And the different textures beg for your mouth to take another bite. And another. And another. I could go on but instead I’ll just encourage you to make it yourself. It won’t disappoint.

Another simple dish that allowed for leftovers was GDL’s Spaghetti with Garlic, Olive Oil and Red Pepper Flakes. Again, totally simple and quick. While the spaghetti cooks, you simmer olive oil with five garlic cloves and red pepper flakes. The spicy, garlicky mixture pours over the pasta and topped with fresh basil and parsley.

When I’m overloaded with the newness of my job it feels fantastic to escape to the courtyard outside the company lunchroom, sit in the sun and enjoy my Everyday Italian leftovers. There’s a simplicity and comfort to it that has been absolutely necessary these last two weeks.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Virginia is for Lovers...

Yes, I moved to Richmond, Virginia for love. Jared and I are now in a short-distance relationship, which is a dramatic change from our weekend road warrior lifestyle. Though it was a move for love, I will not romanticize this last ten days. It’s an adjustment.

I am a creature of habit, a lover of routine. Not one to typically load everything I own into one U-Haul and move to a town I haven’t spent more than four consecutive days in. But that Saturday, after everything was unloaded (thank you, thank you, thank you Jared and Kenny!) and the boys scurried off to a gun show (yes, I live in the south now) I looked around my beautiful new riverfront loft with boxes strewn about and calmly knew the first place to start- the kitchen.

I once heard that when you are moving into a new home, you should pick just one room and make it your own. You should go slowly through the house. Be polite and introduce yourself, so it can introduce itself to you.

So I’ve been introducing myself to this apartment, my new job and my new town over the last few days. I’m overwhelmed with all there is to still do before I feel like I’m in my routine and at home here and I’m continually amazed at how few hours there are in a day. But I’m trying to take it one room at a time.

Cooking has slowed to maybe one GDL meal a week and as you can see, the blogging even less which saddens me deeply. But then again, I’m sitting here in this stunning apartment with LOST just minutes away with the man I love on the other end of the sofa picking a guitar. This is why I’m here. Virginia is for lovers… and maybe in a few weeks when the to do list shrinks to just a grocery list, Virginia will be for cookers and bloggers and eaters! 

Monday, March 1, 2010

We Interrupt This Blog...

Everyday Italian along with the entire contents of my kitchen have been lovingly bubble-wrapped and boxed. It's moving week people! Please stay tuned.