Last night I did not want to cook. The downside of an oven. Once it heats up your kitchen in the summer, forget it. Especially since it's been so nice and we've forgone the air conditioner in favor of having the windows open. So I made the Green Grape and Kiwi Chicken Salad Sandwiches out of the Tea Time Magazine. Super healthy ingredients, (I suppose the croissants are a bit borderline) no cooking and you were satisfied. I substituted iced tea for hot tea and it was perrrrfect...
This is the Eggs Blackstone recipe from the Breakfast Comforts Cookbook. I now know that poaching eggs isn't one of my favorite things to do. This is a bit of a worky recipe, but most of the recipes in this book are fairy easy.And it includes step-by-step instructions on how to poach eggs in case, like me, you have never done that. The cookbook has everything from egg dishes to coffee cakes to mimosas. And the other thing I reaaally like about it? Most of the ingredients one usually has in their cupboard already. All I had to buy for this was the applewood smoked bacon. I highly recommend this for days when a bowl of cereal won't do.
Well I meant to feature a different cookbook every time but once I bought that damn clay pot I've been cooking in it almost every night. Tonight is the Chicken & Brie recipe with the ad lib of hot sausage and rice from The Clay Pot Cookbook. This is not only an issue because I am stuck in a culinary rut, but because I am trying to paint the kitchen. I partially painted the wall behind the butcher's block table and now I can't take food pictures. As you can see.
Well, you can kinda see. Here's the deal, help me out, those of you who like to paint, come over and paint my kitchen. I will pay you in food. Tonight was SUPPOSED to be the Cornish Games Hens with Potatoes and Onions out of The Best of Byerly's. But while I'm on the subject of Byerly's...
It's funny how much I remember the Minneapolis grocery stores from when I was a kid. I remember the bright orange sign from National in the Apache Mall. I remember the to-die-for Huckleberry ice cream cones from Lunds. And the cafeteria at Byerly's in Golden Valley. Every time we went out that way to the pediatrician, I would beg to stop there for one of their tuna fish sandwiches after the trauma of seeing the doctor. Years later, during my cookbook buying frenzy, I had to have volumes I & II of the Byerly's Cookbook to replicate their famous wild rice soup since I was living in Chicago and couldn't find anything like it there. They carry and create some amazing dishes. Now one doesn't shop at Byerly's for their prices. In fact, I got suckered into buying a $15.99 bottle of salad dressing to get my finicky child to eat salad.
It should really be called "Ridiculously Expensive Dressing". But It gets my finicky offspring to eat salad. If I can't be a Tiger Mom or a French Mom and have my children eating zucchini flowers or something else impossibly healthy while practing violin and speaking a couple different languages, well then, there's always something nutritious at Byerly's for everyone.
In fact, today at Byerly's I found yet ANOTHER food publication I absolutely had to have. Although it doesn't look particularly nutritious, my thought is, if you put a lot of time into the cooking, chances are since it isn't processed and you are cooking from scratch, then it must be good for you.
This magazine is full of girl food. Cute chicken sandwiches, Lobster salad, hors d'oeuvres on bread cutouts of stars, totally my kinda reading material. In retrospect, I think I only went goth in high school is because of some misguided idea I would end up looking like someone with Lady Mary's wardrobe from Downton Abbey. Well, OK, It would have been Lady Mary in mourning but that's besides the point. Hats,gloves, long skirts, I am really a bit more of an old soul than a rebel. Bring out the formal dinnerware, have a garden party with mint juleps rather than a backyard barbecue, a tea party with petit fours and canapes. That's what I'm talking about.
So I had leftover chicken, hot sausage, shrimp, chicken broth & tomato from the Paella. I sautéed some chopped onion & garlic with the meats, added bay leaf, Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning, the 1 & 1/2 tomato, and a small can of tomato sauce. In a separate pan, I sautéed the rice with a little olive oil & butter for 2 minutes. Added the rice to the meat and sauce and consolidated in the clay pot. Cooked at 480 for 60 minutes. Oh, and added Tabasco to my liking. Mmmmm....it's not in the Clay Pot Cookbook...it should be...thanks John for your amazing Jambalaya recipe..my introduction to "junk food" cooking.
I'm not certain that this is legit, but heck, since it's my Mom's birthday also, I'm going with it.
Happy Birthday Mom! And everyone else, Happy National Champagne Day!
Mimosas with old friends on the patio at Monte Carlo in Minneapolis, May 2010. Where life as I know it all started.
The Clay Pot just arrived after a misstep. I didn't read the description of the pot I originally ordered and received a glazed pot.
Big mistake. The pot has to be soaked in water prior to cooking and glazing would inhibit the release of moisture.This "wet-pot"cooking technique dates all the way back to the Etruscans circa 500 BC. But not having wasn't a big deal. I didn't feel like cooking on a Friday night. Off to the grocery store for paella ingredients. Not just any paella, Valencian paella using a hybrid recipe from both ccokbooks. Yum.
The cooktop on the new stove.
(Running out of saffron)
Years ago, a good friend by the name of John gave me his personal jambalaya recipe. He called it "junk food" cooking. Basically, you can put any sort of junk you have handy in it. Chicken, sausage, and shrimp are common. Cajun jambalaya dishes find also alligator, crawfish, turtle and oysters. Whatever is available locally. The technique of "junk food" cooking works well with its Spanish cousin, paella. While I start with the basic chicken-sausage-shrimp for my meats, some include snails, rabbit and pork variants. The vegetables of the dish are also varied and can include tomatoes, lima beans (no thanks), peas, string beans, artichokes (yum) pimentos and capers. The constant here, though, is the rice. Penelope Casas in her book The Foods and Wines of Spain defines the heart of the dish as such:
The unknowing diner has come to believe that paella is basically a a seafood dish accompanied by quite ordinary rice when, if fact, is it just the opposite. "When the rice is good the rest is superfluous," my husband, a dyed-in-the-wool Spaniard, is wont to say.
Here is where the clay pot comes in. Prior to cooking, the terra cotta clay pot is soaked in water for 15 minutes. That aides in the steaming effect of the dish. Hence, you can put in rice barely sautéed in chicken broth into the pot and an hour later, left to marinate in clam juice, saffron, basil, thyme, paprika, along with the meats and vegetables, and you get the most amazing rice dish. The meats really are secondary. (although I have never included rabbits though I've been tempted as they used my flowers as a salad bar this spring). I made it last night. it didn't last 24 hours.
Technically National Cookbook Month is in October. But, born out of necessity, I'm moving it up to August, because since we've acquired some fancy new appliances. I have waaay less $$ to spend on going out to eat. So I hereby declare August as "Cookbook Month" and I will be featuring my favorite dishes from my favorite cookbooks, crafted by hand from yours truly.
I've always felt that I've lacked any sort of discernible talent. I can't sing, I was an average student, I am usually late to the party rather than the life of, and any involvement in school sports simply ended in disaster. And they have yet to come up with any sort of award for chronic daydreaming. Eventually I did come up with a couple things that I like to do. I'd also like to think that I do them relatively well.
I like to revamp houses. Although that's something that's been born out of necessity, I do enjoy seeing what a place can become with the right paint, the right stain, right fixture, etc. So when I got a brand new stove and new refrigerator, combine that with my love of cooking, let's just say that the possibilities are endless.
Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until Friday. The recipe from the first book, The Foods and Wines of Spain by Penelope Casas, requires a clay pot which will arrive via postal carrier on that day. (woo-hoo!) However, once the clay pot arrives, I can jump right into the next cookbook, The Clay Pot Cookbook by Grover Sales. SO excited.
A Minnesota native returns after 13 years away discovering a whole new food landscape.