Nothing qualifies me as a gourmet except my love of all things gourmet. From wine to waffles, mustard to meatloaf, and lobster to lardo. I am finally ready to share my love of food, cooking and dining out with all my on-line friends.

 

My girlfriend came to spend last weekend with me, and this was the treat I set out to greet her when she arrived, since I knew she would be hungry. 
I love to entertain and any opportunity to bring out all my kitchen stuff is a good day for me!  I decanted a nice bottle of Rioja that my friends gave me, from when they lived in Spain.  It is called Beronia and it went nicely with my 2 year aged parm from Italy and my Irish Cheddar.  We also had a stack of Sopressata to go along with some multi-grain crackers. 
Not a bad little appetizer.  Of course for dinner, I made my signature risotto with Italian sausage, sweet carmelized onions, lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, and wilted arugula.  I also had a fresh garden salad of goodies that I picked up at the farmers market.  I think my favorite part of this dinner was that almost everything was farm fresh.  The veggies and all the fixins were fresh from the farm to the market.  Gotta love living in the salad bowl of America!!!

My girlfriend came to spend last weekend with me, and this was the treat I set out to greet her when she arrived, since I knew she would be hungry. 

I love to entertain and any opportunity to bring out all my kitchen stuff is a good day for me!  I decanted a nice bottle of Rioja that my friends gave me, from when they lived in Spain.  It is called Beronia and it went nicely with my 2 year aged parm from Italy and my Irish Cheddar.  We also had a stack of Sopressata to go along with some multi-grain crackers. 

Not a bad little appetizer.  Of course for dinner, I made my signature risotto with Italian sausage, sweet carmelized onions, lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, and wilted arugula.  I also had a fresh garden salad of goodies that I picked up at the farmers market.  I think my favorite part of this dinner was that almost everything was farm fresh.  The veggies and all the fixins were fresh from the farm to the market.  Gotta love living in the salad bowl of America!!!

Mmmm…Chorizo and Eggs
When I think of breakfast or getting a late night snack after a long night of dancing, I think of Chorizo and Egg breakfast tacos.  Since it is hard to come by breakfast tacos, I opted for the meal with a side of two tortillas. 
This was taken at a place called The Breakfast Club.  They serve you on a platter and there is more food than you can shake a stick at, but I enjoyed every last morsel!
This is also a great way to cure a hangover, incidentally!

Mmmm…Chorizo and Eggs

When I think of breakfast or getting a late night snack after a long night of dancing, I think of Chorizo and Egg breakfast tacos.  Since it is hard to come by breakfast tacos, I opted for the meal with a side of two tortillas. 

This was taken at a place called The Breakfast Club.  They serve you on a platter and there is more food than you can shake a stick at, but I enjoyed every last morsel!

This is also a great way to cure a hangover, incidentally!

Fresh Bread

Nothing like the smell of fresh bread to make a house smell like a home….and less like rotten garbage that should have gone out a day earlier. 

Can’t wait for that stuff to come out of the oven and into my mouth…NOM NOM NOM

Engagement Chicken Part 2

So the first time I tried the “engagement chicken,” it was undercooked and I may have served my husband up a case or salmonella rather than romance.  I started calling it “divorce chicken,” or at least a “legal separation,” chicken. For those of you that cook, you will know that I had the simple issue of under cooking my bird, rather than anything.

Mind you, I also thought I would be all resourceful and do everything in my Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker.  For those of you not familiar with Pampered Chef, this is the cooking version of Amway.  You know those direct sales things where they come to your house and do demos and tell you all about the reason you should buy their products and then of course, sell their products.  I was the WORST Pampered Chef consultant ever in the sense that I only did it to further my own habit of owning more cooking products that I had no room for in my house.  Being the self aware individual I am, I had realized that the fact that my kitchen product addiction had moved into my guest room, laundry room and pantry was a fair indicator that I had enough kitchen stuff. 

Clearly, I have digressed.  To make a long story longer, my girlfriend Sara and I were talking about roasted chicken.  Her husband said that it was one of his favorite dishes he bought.  She sent me her recipe, which was very similar to my engagement chicken recipe.  However, this time, I cooked it for the proper time AND I used a proper roasting pan.  I put a full layer of fresh veggies from the farmer’s market underneath (fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, onions and Gilroy garlic).  The veggies came out covered in fatty caramel goodness and the entire chicken was cooked to a perfect temp.  I even ended up with juicy breast and fully cooked thighs. 

I may not have gotten an engagement ring over this chicken, but it certainly goes into the hall of fame for best dinners with my hubby.  Not a bad way to end the night! 

Here is the recipe my friend shared, and you will see it is very similar to the engagement chicken.  If you don’t have twine to truss your chicken, you can just tuck the legs underneath:

1. Rinse the entire bird inside and out. Pat dry.
2. Stuff cavity with any/all of the following: herbs (rosemary and thyme are my favorites, but anything you have on hand will work), garlic cloves (smash with the side of a knife first), lemon wedges. MG - I use lemon halves
3. Tie legs together with kitchen twine and tuck wings underneath body. (To tuck wings, pull wing tip back towards butt of chicken, or whichever end the wings are closest to, then pull underneath body.)
4. Rub entire body with melted butter or olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. If you have a roasting rack, place the chicken on top of this. I cut up potatoes, toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper and put them under the rack. The potatoes roast in the chicken fat - delicious. If no rack, you can still place the bird directly on top of the potatoes or some carrots, celery and onions. Add a little chicken broth to prevent burning.
6. Roast at 375 for 20 minutes per pound (I start checking about 15 minutes early just in case.)
7. Cover and let rest for 10-15 minutes. MG - You can use aluminum foil and tent it over the roasting pan, but it is best to take it off the roasting pan and put it on a plate and cover it.

8. While the chicken is resting, you can make a quick pan gravy by setting the roasting pan over two burners. Add enough flour to absorb the drippings and create a paste. Cook while stirring constantly for a few minutes. Pour in 1/4-1/2 cup of white wine while whisking constantly. Cook for one minute. Add about 1-1 1/2 cups of chicken broth and continue whisking. Let cook down for 5-10 minutes and season with salt/pepper to taste.

Don’t Quit Your Dayjob - The Reprise

I have to admit my hopes were dashed, after my stock-turned-aspic event.  I took that giant bowl of gelatinous chicken sludge and threw it back on the stove for another 6 hours.  I reduced it to about 20 ounces.  I started with about a gallon or so of liquid and it had become this thick brown goodness. 

So it wasn’t a total loss and it turned out beautiful.  I made my “engagement risotto,” tonight and I put a couple tablespoons of it in the dish.  It was “the best you have ever made.”  I stand, relieved.  For those of you, or at least my single follower to date, who doesn’t understand the “engagement” reference, it is based on a recipe called “engagement” chicken.  Well, I have to tell you it is a good thing I am good at risotto, because I ended up with nearly-raw-legal-separation-chicken.  It was literally bleeding in the thighs and the breasts were near the consistency of a piece of comfor-foam.  You know - the kind of foam they make Tempur-pedic mattresses with.  Maybe one of these days I will learn to bake a chicken….stay tuned!

Don’t Quit Your Dayjob!

I am not sure if anyone else suffers from this, but I often think I am better at something that I actually am.  In this case, it refers to cooking and what I think I am great at, is making stock. Chicken stock, specifically. 

My husband and I are pretty good at eating healthy and I mostly cook pretty healthy stuff at home.  One of the things I like to do, is strip rotisserie chickens and use the meat in a variety of things.  Once that is done, I like to save the carcass and then boil it down for about 8 hours and make a rich stock.  Normally, when I strip the chicken, I toss out the skin and fat, to keep things really light and low in fat.  This week, I decided to use the skin, fat, etc., and the carcass when I boiled down the chicken.  It was a love affair in a dutch oven; or so I thought. 

For the first few hours, things were going exactly as I expected them to.  As things would cool, I would scrape that “skin” that formed on the top of the stock.  (I think you could repair gutter leaks with this kind of stuff)  After about 9 hours on the stove, it was a delicious and rich stock.  Every now and then, I would peel off a layer of skin, as it cooled.  My plan after that was to stick it in the fridge and then pull off the thick layer of fat that would congeal on the top.  Are you hungry yet?  If not, it gets better!

Fridge time! 

I stick it in the fridge for about three hours so it will cool.  I go into the giant bowl and I start to scrape off the top layer of fat.  I keep scraping, thinking I will get to the liquid part.  Well, apparently I am an ace at making chicken jello.  I ended up creating an accidental aspic.  I have to admit that I like my gelatin grape or cherry flavored…and most often with vodka. 

I tossed a good scoop of this into some quinoa the other day and it was fabulous, but I think I am going to keep cooking the half gallon of this mess into a nice finishing sauce. 

Wish me luck!

Step 5:  Marriage Friendly Pizza
1.  Remove from oven and drizzle balsamic vinegar on top.  Use something well aged to add sweetness.  This will balance out the flavors.  I used an 18 year aged balsamic, which is sweet, sticky and perfect for the tangy goat cheese, salty prosciutto and bitter arugula. 
2.  Enjoy! 
I drank a glass of King Estate Pinot Gris from Oregon, which was a nice pairing  against the goat cheese and arugula, in my uneducated opinion. 

Step 5:  Marriage Friendly Pizza

1.  Remove from oven and drizzle balsamic vinegar on top.  Use something well aged to add sweetness.  This will balance out the flavors.  I used an 18 year aged balsamic, which is sweet, sticky and perfect for the tangy goat cheese, salty prosciutto and bitter arugula. 

2.  Enjoy! 

I drank a glass of King Estate Pinot Gris from Oregon, which was a nice pairing  against the goat cheese and arugula, in my uneducated opinion. 

Step 4:  Marriage Friendly Pizza
1.  Crumble lots of goat cheese on the pear side of the pizza, and any leftovers on your significant other’s half. 
2.  Put in pre-heated oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

Step 4:  Marriage Friendly Pizza

1.  Crumble lots of goat cheese on the pear side of the pizza, and any leftovers on your significant other’s half. 

2.  Put in pre-heated oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

Step 3:  Marriage Friendly Pizza
1.  Layer fresh & organic baby arugula across the entire pizza.

Step 3:  Marriage Friendly Pizza

1.  Layer fresh & organic baby arugula across the entire pizza.

Step 2:  Marriage Friendly Pizza
1.  Layer fresh sliced Bosc pears on top of the prosciutto.
2.  Layer crumbled goat cheese on top of the chicken.  I only put the cheese on half, for now.

Step 2:  Marriage Friendly Pizza

1.  Layer fresh sliced Bosc pears on top of the prosciutto.

2.  Layer crumbled goat cheese on top of the chicken.  I only put the cheese on half, for now.