Saturday, October 31, 2009

Parmesan Crisps

Into the 10th hour ( I think) of Veal Stock,
I needed a little instant gratification.
Parmesan crisps are ridculously fast and simple, It's just grate, form and bake.. and OOOOO it smells divine! This is how they look before baking. These crisps are used as a garnish in many of the recipes and when formed into a cup shape, they hold a lovely goat cheese mousse. I tried to make some cup shapes (supposedly you take the volcanically hot cheese and stuff it into a clean egg carton egg-space and it cools to form a cup.) After quite a few expletives and singed fingers, I decided to wait for Mr. Asbestos fingers to help with this... he's also known as the wonderful supportive husband around here. We'll have these crisps as a Trick or Treat for grown ups snack.

Here's how they look when done The lighter color ones are the correct ones, the others had too much cheese... I didn't know such a thing was possible :

Happy Halloween everyone

See you soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

OoooOh Shiny!!!

Isn't it pretty? And so shiny!! We went shopping today for the various utensils I need for this project and first on the list was a 20 qt. stockpot. My little 12 qt wasn't gonna cut it for 10 lbs of veal bones (which arrive at the butcher tomorrow btw). I gravitated to the All Clad display at Cook's Warehouse and a very helpful young man looked up the price and quoted me $445... um.. no thanks. As my husband was choking and wheezing in the next aisle, the young man said wait.. how about this one? It was All Clad, it was 20 qts.. and best of all, it was $79! SOLD! Not really sure what the difference was other than the price but this one is fine for me. He helped me find a few other items on the list and assisted with my pastry bag selection. I really wanted those vintage Atlanta demitasse cups but $15 each was too much for just "cute". Anyways, Cooks Warehouse in the ATL area is great place to shop with friendly and knowledgable staff. (And no FTC... I paid full retail and received only good service - no gifts -so there!)
We went on to stimulate the economy in a large way at a few shops nearby but that has nothing to do with this blog. Except I must ask you this, Do you not think it is really really stupid to make it illegal to donate a new mattress set to charity? I mean NEW.. too soft for our old backs and didn't work out.. illegal. We also had a lovely lunch at a Thai restaurant we used to frequent when we both worked in midtown... memories.
As if all that and the new meat mallet weren't enough excitement, I came home reading about the Salmon Tartare first recipe in the book, and I read that Chef Keller HIMSELF said, "you can fill it with anything you want" I always knew there was a God, but on this particular point I was very grateful. It's a tiny little cornette which looks like an ice cream cone and I'm thinking I'll use a savory mousse of some kind or a tomato confit and olive tapenade. Very excited. Can't wait to get started.
See you soon.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Once again, not laundry... My veal bones will be in on Thursday and I'll start my veal stock. Tomorrow we are heading to the Cook's Warehouse as I need some special cooking accessories. I was thinking about inviting neighbors for some wine, canapes and maybe the "Caeser" salad. Hopefully we can get that done soon and get some pictures up.

This Bolognese sauce has been simmering most of the day and I can't wait for dinner! I don't like the fennel taste of Italian sausage so I use bratwurst instead. This recipe makes a ton! I like to freeze it so we have about 6 dinners ready in a moment's notice.

Meat Sauce
a little olive oil
1 package of Johnsonville regular brats (casing removed)
1 lb ground pork
2 lb ground chuck
2 onions roughly chopped
2 celery stalks cut up
2 carrots peeled and cut
3 cloves garlic
1/4 c italian parsley
1 T fresh oregano
Dried Italian seasoning to taste
Salt and Pepper
2 28 oz cans tomatoes ( I like Muir Glen or Hunt's)
2 c white wine
1 small can evaporated milk
2 T tomato paste

Brown meat in a large heavy pot until no longer pink. drain fat. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Place the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, fresh herbs and parsley in a food processor and puree then add to the meat pot. Add the wine and simmer down until reduced by half.

Meanwhile put your tomatoes and paste in a separate pan , add dried Italian herbs to taste and reduce until the tomato mixture is thick about 40 min.

Add tomatoes to meat and simmer for about 20 min, then add evaporated milk.
Serve with Rigatoni or penne .. or any pasta you want!

See you soon.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tomato Confit

This is an awful picture, and it looks like a frightful mess but I wish you could smell this !

Believe it or not, I have actually made this wonderful stuff before, from Virginia Willis' book "Bon Appetit, Y'all" It's pretty straightforward, slow roasting tomatoes with a little olive oil, salt thyme. It really intensifies their flavor. The French Laundry cookbook instructs you to sort of shape the tomatoes into a four petalled flower. Obviously I didn't do that.. Maybe once I get a trained staff, I will haha. Chef Keller says he uses them as a garnish on a variety of dishes. I like them on an omlette or scrambled eggs, or even on crostini. I make it mostly in the summer when I have more tomatoes growing in the garden than I can give away.
See you soon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Not Laundry but still tasty

I have a couple of friends in Iowa who tend to microwave everything they eat. And when one of them said "I haven't had good meatloaf since my Mom died" of course my heartstrings tugged. So anyway, these guys are getting some meatloaf.. meatloaves actually! Some of (most of) these beauties will be bundled up, put in the deep freeze and soon shipped to Iowa just in time for the older one's Birthday. Happy eating guys!

The recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton's old Food TV show. My copy doesn't even have the show name on it...

3 tsp. Olive Oil
1 1/2 chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs
1/2 c milk
2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Hot Sauce
1 tsp fresh marjoram
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb ground chuck*
1 lb ground pork*
1 1/2 c fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1/2 c ketchup
4 T light brown sugar
4 tsp cider vinegar
In a skillet heat the oil, add onion and garlic and sautee just until soft about 5 min. set aside and cool.
In a mixing bowl whisk the eggs, milk, mustard, hotsauce, marjoram thyme salt and pepper.
In a large mixing bowl mix the meats, egg-milk mixture, bread crumbs parsley and the cooked onions and garlic. Take a small piece and cook in a skillet to taste for any necessary seasoning adjustments.

Poke holes in the bottom of mini loaf tins and load the meat mixture in. Place the tins on a baking sheet. Brush with 1/2 ketchup glaze, bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20-25 min. until glaze has set. Brush with remaining glaze and bake until that has set as well (about 5 min. Internal temp of the loaves should be 160 degrees.

* These are the parts of the recipe I modified, the orginal called for twice ground meats and some veal.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I was excited to finally get going on this. Gazpacho is one of the simplest recipes in the book and is traditionally served as a cold refreshing soup. I wanted to get this done while there were still decent tomatoes available... certainly not the height of the season, but better than February!

I started this recipe yesterday. First I made the Balsamic glaze which took quite a lot of time, around 4 hours I think. Basically, you very carefully reduce 2 cups of balsamic vinegar to about a half cup, carefully controlling the temperature the whole time.

Sorry about the poor picture quality, the only device I hand at hand was my iPhone... not the best in terms of quality but hey, it's what I had.

Next I chopped and peeled and chopped some more, (there are about a dozen ingredients in this gazpacho). When all mixed together, the ingredients have to sit in the fridge overnight. Here's how they looked before their trip to the chill chest:

Pretty isn't it? Very colorful and had a wonderful fragrance too!

After a night of rest, the veggies jump into the blender where they are pureed into a smooth refreshing soup. You could taste each of the flavors, lots of acids but balanced with some cucumbers and there is a tiny bit of cayenne pepper in here that gave it a nice little kick.

Once pureed, you spoon it into a bowl and drizzle some of the balsamic glaze on top. I am not at all artistic and I am sure I drizzled more than they would at the French Laundry but I thought it looked pretty and the sweet acidity really was a nice complement to the soup.

So there you have it! One recipe (two if you count the glaze) down and a lot more to come. I had a lot of fun with this, and luckily my neighbors have said they will help eat the results. Not sure what's next, maybe another recipe with the balsamic glaze.

See you soon!

Monday, October 19, 2009

I got the book

Just got home from Barnes & Noble where I finished my Christmas shopping and treated myself to the only copy of The French Laundry Cookbook on the shelf. All indications are that this project ain't gonna be cheap. I suppose I could put on my old Project Management hat and develop a budget and timeline, but then I'd probably never do this... So once again, God Bless my husband, the most supportive spouse on the planet.

I figured I would start with veal stock since it is a key ingredient to many of the dishes, but upon inspection, realized I only have a 12 qt. stockpot and I need a 20 qt. pot. Ok, so maybe I'll just start at the beginning....

I hate salmon. I mean I really hate it. Once I was served an amuse bouche at a nice restaurant and I didn't listen to the description.. (it was so pretty!) and just popped it in my mouth. What I hadn't listened to was the part about the goat cheese and the salmon tartare. With that pretty little bite in my mouth I was literally gagging, and right in front of the waiter!! I managed to swallow it but it was not an easy task. And today, I opened my beautiful new $50 cookbook and what's the first recipe? Salmon tartare.... Maybe I'll start with a soup.

See you soon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The beginning and a birthday

By way of introduction, I am a semi-serious home cook in the Duluth suburb of Atlanta, GA. Today was my husband's birthday and we shared a meal at Abattoir with his wonderful brother John and his equally wonderful wife Cheryl. We had a fabulous time at lunch today with John and Cheryl. Abattoir was fantastic as always, lots of dishes shared and a good time was had by all.

There was a fair amount of discussion about this project, so I guess this is as good a place as any to begin this journey. I want to challenge myself. To try new foods, to learn more about cooking and develop my skills. I am a home cook, no claim to chefdom, but I enjoy cooking and more importantly, nourishing the people I love (and some I don't even know) with food that is prepared with love and the best ingredients and techniques I can muster. To me, cooking is one of the most basic conduits of love, it has in essence, a spiritual element.

I am a devotee of Molly Wizenberg on Orangette I follow the local food blogs regularly and I have been looking for a project to challenge me and help me grow. I knew about Julie Powell's project when she was a blogger... before there was a movie. The idea intrigued me, but Mastering the Art of French Cooking just wasn't for me. I recently read Jimmy's "Eat It Atlanta" post about a French Laundry inspired dinner party and my brain said AHA! Thomas Keller and all of his restaurants, especially The French Laundry have always excited me. What a genius, what technical mastery. What a stretch! (for me anyway). So I decided to cook my way through the French Laundry Cookbook. Very quickly I realized this has already been done, but that doesn't matter to me... it's a personal challenge. To see the amazing job Carol Blymire did, check out And as a disclaimer at the start, I won't do every recipe, but I might supplement with some of Keller's other cookbooks. I can't see my self butchering a lamb.... but Jim is dying to saw a pig's head in half, so we will see!

I don't even have the book yet, but I am already planning. We have a busy holiday season coming up and lots of "normal" cooking to be done, but I hope to start soon, with baby steps.
And hopefully I will get better at this blogging stuff, and linking... I used to design websites fer crying out loud!! Getting old has its pros and cons....

See you soon.