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Jul. 30th, 2009

Double Blog -- Gluten-Free Peach Muffins + Black Bean, Tomato Tostada

I'll admit it, I've become afflicted with culinary ennui.  Typically, my interest in both cooking and eating is a constant on which I can rely, but that's not been the case lately.  I've been only vaguely interested in cooking for pleasure lately, and believe me, I'm just as surprised about it as you are.  What's much more shocking is that I'm not even particularly hungry.  The only thing that's sounded good to me recently is sushi, and while it sounds VERY VERY good, I'm low on cash flow and will have to settle for family meal and cheerios snack mix instead.  That said, I can't let my laziness get in the way of my blogging.  As my way of reconciling for my two-week absence, I've put together this double blog!

The first recipe, for gluten-free peach muffins, resulted in my wanting to bake the peaches my mom left at New Smitty's but not having enough of them to make a pie - thus, muffins!  I also had a surplus of greek yogurt thanks to my propensity to buy it every time it's on sale.  I'm almost sick of raita and tzatziki, so I was in search of another approach.  The result was a vanilla-laced greek yogurt to top my light and delicious peach muffins.

   Peach muffin recipe...Collapse )

Part two of this blog installment belongs in the Single and Starving vault, for sure.  This Black Bean and Tomato Tostada is so easy, you can be enjoying tostadatation in about ten minutes.


To include a proper recipe for this tostada would insult your intelligence.  Simply pan fry a tortilla shell in about a Tbs. of oil.  Then, top with black beans, cheese, thinly sliced tomatoes, and more cheese.  You can melt the cheese in the oven for a couple of minutes, or if you use a smaller size tortilla, I would throw that thing in the toaster oven and leave your regular oven off.  Because it's way hot outside.  Way hot.  I finished mine off with a hearty handful of cilantro and the requisite dollop of daisy.  I seasoned my black beans with some freshly-ground cumin and a little crushed garlic.  Also, after I sliced my tomatoes, I allowed them to drain for a couple of minutes on a paper towell because soggy tostada is unacceptable.

stay cool,

Jul. 15th, 2009

Gluten-Free Baking 101

I've been on an ambitious and slightly impractical baking kick lately.  I'm tired of near misses in the world of gluten free bread; I've resolved to come up with some successes, so I've been honing the "easy stuff" - gluten free muffins and quick breads.  The procedure for making muffins, especially the gluten free variety, couldn't be easier:  Sift together dry ingredients; combine wet ingredients; pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until combined.  The gluten free variety are easier simply because you can mix the batter endlessly with no fear of overworking the gluten and creating a tough muffin.  No one wants a tough muffin.

But someone might want these gluten-free blueberry muffins with vanilla blueberry syrup:

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Jul. 3rd, 2009

The Week In Food

This has been a most excellent week for food.  RVANews ( rvanews.com/features/yogurt-marinated-chicken-kebabs-with-basmati-rice-and-cucumber-raita/ ) published a recipe of mine for their 4th of July grilling installment, and I received a slew of positive feedback on it.  My mom's boss is using the recipe for his next supper club.  Precious.

Work has been going absolutely brilliantly for the past couple of weeks.  I've been concentrating on improving the desserts, and I've had some wonderful successes:

This is the Boca Negra from Baking With Julia, one of my favorite cookbooks.  I love BWJ because the recipes are lovely and, for the most part, well written despite being compiled from a group of disparate  'pastry elites' from Gale Gand to Marcel Desaulniers.  Actually, one of the main reasons I love it is because I know that when I see a recipe allegedly from Marcel, it really means its from Kelly Bailey.  There's one for mint chocolate night caps, and I swear I can hear her dictating the recipe when I read it.

The Boca Negra is a flourless* chocolate cake that uses bourbon to enhance the natural awesomeness of the bittersweet chocolate.  I'm sure I don't have to tell you how much I enjoy using bourbon and chocolate together.  ("You know what this cake needs?  Booze.")
  *The Boca Negra from BWJ actually has approximately 2 T of flour in it, but because Paul Keevil, an owner of Millie's, was recently diagnosed with Seliac's disease, I substitute a gluten-free flour mix from Bob's Redmill, and it works like a dream.

Then there was the blueberry mango pie.  I'm in the process of perfecting my pie crust (and who among us isn't, really?)  I'm having more successes than failures in the crust department, and this was one shining example.  However, the fillin' could've used another tablespoon or so of binder, as the fruit was quite juicy.  In further pursuit of pie crust, I made an apple tart yesterday, for which I resurrected KB's totally awesome BOURBON pie filling (someone's got a problem, and that someone is me.)  The tart was a smashing success.  Dongettes in attendence, Susie, Kendra, and Angie, were completely enamored with the light, buttery crust and the delicious corn-syrupy fillin'.  

Tart Fillin' (Inspired, per usual, by KB)

2c. corn syrup
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. bourbon (I usually use jim beam for this kind of thing.)
4 T melted butter
1 T vanilla
6 eggs

Bring the first 5 ingredients to a simmer.  Lightly whisk eggs.  Temper hot liquid into the eggs.  Cool in an icebath. 

(This makes more than enough for a 9 in. pie and can stay refridgerated for about 2 weeks.)

I've also been practicing my devotion to the cold soup, most recently exhibiting itself in a chilled cucmber soup with smoked salmon and dill blossoms.  I just adore dill blossoms because they look like fireworks.  Regard:

  Charming, no?

Finally, in the personal cooking realm, I was positively thrilled to be the recipient of someone else's culinary skills.  Since I began cooking professionally, it's been pretty rare for someone to want to cook for me, and usually I'm fine with that.  I mean, I do it because I love it.  When I have a household of people over, I want to be cooking and feeding and hostessing.  But ocassionally, I want someone else to cook for me, and it's usually at breakfast that this need most fully expresses itself.  I want to be lazy.  I want to watch.  I want to put on a Three Dog Night album and pad around the apartment barefoot as though I were a stranger in it.  

Such was the case when dear, sweet, stinky marc made me the most winningest breakfast sandwich......EVER.  I've been reliving the breakfast sandwich experience until as recently as today, when I finished off the last of the English muffins.  

  English Muffin, Smokey-Ass Bacon, Fried Egg, Horizon American Cheese Singles, Sriracha, and Boy Magic.  Yes.


Jun. 19th, 2009

Single and Starving: Smoked Duck and Blue Cheese Salad

Jim's European-Vacation-Inspired smoked duck and goat cheese terrine has made me simply crazy about smoked duck.  To be honest, I'm not usually a fan of smoked foods.  But not only have I become a fan of smoked duck, I'm also newly a fan of using the smoker.  Turns out, it's quite easy, and it's a a great excuse to dwell outside during a bustling, hectic sunday brunch at Millie's.  So, inspired by these two new loves, I got my own duck breast and flexed my smoking skills on my step-dad's smoker.  The result was this most enjoyable salad:

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Jun. 11th, 2009

Single and Starving - Yogurt-Marinated Pork Chops and Wilted Arugula

Yesterday was a perfect day for outdoor dining and a bottle of Albarino.  I entertained a new friend on the porch of New Smitty's until sundown (whereupon we commenced to playing Simon's Quest on NES.)  To sustain us during our 7-hour porch-dwelling, I made some yogurt-marinated pork chops (which is, kind of, all I want to eat lately) and a little wilted arugula with chick peas and tomatoes.  We enjoyed the meal with a 2007 Martin Codax Albarino that was quite pleasant indeed.

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Jun. 2nd, 2009

Single and Starving: Game Hens and Grilled Veggies

Thanks to a very sweet, generous donation from the Biomom, I was motivated to host a modest back-yard get-together featuring everyone's favorite tiny bird, the game hen.  Also featured is a cornucopia of vegetables, pretty much all of the veggies in my kitchen at the time. (warning: no actual 'cornucopia' appears.  I'm saving mine for Thanksgiving.)  But the real special guest is my first pepper of the season, which was marinated, grilled, and split three ways among Jon, Mitch, and myself.  Regard: 

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May. 26th, 2009

Single and Starving: Gazpacho!

I vowed to Branch that I would post yesterday, but alas, a Memorial Day filled with day-drinking and bug bites rendered me useless by sunset.  This morning I woke up hot and hungry and could imagine no better remedy than my favorite summer gazpacho, inspired largely by the Wildflour in Roanoke.  I'm a big fan of cold soups.  Lately at Millie's I've served a chilled fennel with shrimp (inspired by a delicious soup Ryan used to make at the FC,) a minty pea soup (also known as 'Stephanie's Best Table Soup,') and a sweet corn soup with chive-y crab.  Cold soups aren't generally huge sellers anywhere I've worked, but I implore you, soup-purchasing public, to give them a fair shake.

"shake it like a bowl of soup" - Otis Redding.

Mas Gazpacho...Collapse )


May. 17th, 2009

Single and Starving: Pantry Salad

On a slightly overcast day, when you're touched by ennui and compelled to stay indoors at any cost, only a pantry salad will do.  The pantry salad is any salady concoction one can whip up without having to run to the store, so of course, it's different for everyone.  My pantry salads almost always feature chick peas because my cabinets almost always contain chick peas.  I buy them compulsively.  I mean, you can never have too many chick peas, right?  Who's with me?  ...

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May. 7th, 2009

What Would Kelly Bailey Do?

Let me take a second to tell you about Kelly Bailey:  The 30-something bombshell is, by far, the best chef I've ever worked under.  She went to CIA and worked at the Trellis for a bazillion years and then made the (quite prudent) decision to go to the Fat Canary, which was the first restaurant to employ your's truly.  She's a marathon-running, animal-loving, totally inspiring FORCE in my life.  For a sad couple of years I actually didn't have contact w/ Kelly (who, by the way, just got married this past weekend!!) due to my unfortunate mental breakdown and subsequent peace-out from the FC.  In short, my boyfriend/sous chef broke up with me, and I went a little crazy...heh.

And though I only knew Kelly for a couple of years, it is her guidance that has been the most salient in the past few years.  At the FC, I was a bit of a moron.  I was reactionary and emotional and just too much of a 23-yr-old girl to really get it.  Kelly was patient but stern with me whenever necessary.  Not only did she impart some of the most faithful recipes in my collection, Kelly also taught me to look at the whole picture before shooting off my gob.  I honestly believe that she made me not only a better cook but a better person.

Today was a trying day at Millie's.  I was tempted on more than one occasion to shoot off the aforementioned gob, but thankfully, I centered my shit and bit my tongue.  I think Kelly would be very proud.  I looked at "the bullshit" in the context of the restaurant and really earnestly thought about what the most appropriate step would be.  I think I'm on my way to a resolution, and most importantly, I didn't make a total fool of myself.  Score. 

I believe that a restaurant is a hard place to work not because cooking is difficult but because cooking with other people is nearly impossible.  I've always been a bit of a soloist -- an only child and never a team member growing up, dealing with people when I HAVE to do so can be quite a task.  But I'm working on it...at least until I'm self-employed ;-)

So, please enjoy this picture of the Lobster Scallop Cannelonni with Smoked Tomato Butter and Snow Pea Salad (one of tonight's new menu items!) while I do some much-needed decompressing with good-time pals Jon, Al, and Josh. 


Single and Starving: Duplicitous Tuna

Inspired by the story of Frank Abagnale, the identity-morphing subject of book/movie "Catch Me If You Can," I decided to take two radically different approaches to the same tuna steak.  I purchased one tuna steak from Ellwood Thompson's (www.ellwoodthompsons.com) and created two distinct meals from it, which makes this prime "Single and Starving" material.  It was a fun, easy, cheeky way to treat 8 dollars worth of tuna. 




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