Welcome to One Little Corner of the World. I share with you new recipes, some family recipes, and the antics of my kids. Enjoy reading!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Black Friday - My kind of Shopping

Black Friday – a day that one goes shopping for deals and steals. Fighting with the crowds and traffic. I just couldn’t get into that this year. Instead, my sister-in-law, her sister and I decided to go shopping at Soulard Market in St. Louis.
One of my favorite places there is the spice market. They have all kinds of spices and coffees and teas - just wonderful smells. It is a great place to go. I just love it. We had a very nice time; it wasn’t crowded, and we got lots of fresh produce at terrific prices! I hope you all had a great holiday weekend and a great rest of the year.

Be back soon with new posts!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Julia Child, Dinner, and Friends

Saturday night, four friends got together with their spouses to celebrate Julia Child. A dinner menu was put together, copies of the recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking were handed out, and shopping commenced. The plan was for each couple to bring one or two dishes. Our hosts only had to prepare one dish, since they so graciously allowed the rest of us to trash their kitchen cooking the rest of the meal.

After watching the movie Julie and Julia, we thought it would be great fun to cook a dinner using only Julia Child recipes. Sounds easy, right? Wrong!! While the meal turned out great, there were a few fumbles and retakes along the way.

To start with, I couldn’t properly copy a recipe to save my life. Since I was the only one with the actual cookbook, I said that I would be happy to get everyone a copy of their recipes. The only one I got right was the beef recipe – I found it on the internet. The rest of them weren’t so easy. My sister-in-law was responsible for French Onion Soup and a cheesecake tart. I sent her the Onion Soup – I found it on the internet too. Anyway, I had to copy the rest of the recipes – I did that (or I thought I did) and I passed them out. Sister in Law was the first to call saying that she got my email – and the same recipe copied. Great, just great. Now she can cook the onion soup, twice. Off to the copy machine to correct my mistake. I dropped it off with her, only to remember that I never copied the crust recipe – it is on a different page. I fixed that and felt great. Now I could get on with my recipes. Not so fast. One of my other friends called to tell me that I never copied the caramel sauce recipe – it was on a different page too. I really need to learn how to read her cookbook. Ok, so I fixed that and off I went to cook my recipes.

So, I am at home getting ready to start on my recipes. I was making Poulet Sauté aux Herbes de Provence (Chicken sautéed with herbs and garlic, egg yolk and butter sauce) and Gratin de Pommes de Terre Provencal (Scalloped potatoes with onions tomatoes, anchovies, herbs and garlic). I decided to double check the beginning of the potato section to see if I needed to peel the potatoes or not. I learned that there are two kinds of potatoes – I already knew that, but for some bizarre reason I decided to buy bakers; I never buy them! Ask my husband. It has been two years since we have had baked potatoes for dinner. Guess what? I bought the wrong potatoes – I needed boilers, you know Yukons – that is what I always buy. Oh, well, Hubby will be eating bakers for the next couple of days…weeks…whatever. I bought new potatoes and started cooking.

My sister in law had questions about the crust, so I ran over there to show her the cookbook. She was cooking the soup, onions actually – for the second time. She burned the first batch and had to start over. It wasn’t until she referred to the recipe that she realized she forgot to buy the beef broth – that wouldn’t be noticed! We got that little mess taken care of, and started on the crust for the Tart au Fromage Frais (Cream Cheese Tart). That worked like a charm! There was lots of nervousness about the crust, but it went off without a hitch. Great work!

On Saturday afternoon, I checked my Facebook page and saw that one of my Julia partners posted “Caramel Sauce, take two.” I asked her what happened and she said that the sauce turned grainy, so she had to start over. She was making Pommes Normande En Belle Vue (Applesauce caramel mold). The sauce worked out the second time, and the rest of her dessert went well.

We all decided that we now know why Julie cussed a lot as she was cooking her way through the cookbook; we would be too. It isn’t an easy book to follow. I have to say though; I really like some of Julia’s descriptions. The words she chose cracked me up.

Dinner started with Soupe A L’oignon (French onion soup), which I have to say, has to be the best FOS I have ever eaten. My husband doesn’t even like onion soup, and he devoured his bowl. I even get to make it at home just for us! I am excited about that.

After the soup we moved on to the main part of the meal. Our hosts made Boeuf Borguignon (beef stew in red wine with bacon, onions and mushrooms). Funny thing though; when going to buy the rump roast, our host was told that they aren’t called rump roasts anymore – that term is soo 60’s! Ha – of course it is a 60’s term; it’s a Julia Child cookbook! Funny stuff. There were no problems with the beef dish – smelled great and tasted even better. The meat was tender and the sauce was fabulous.

I made Poulet Sauté aux Herbes de Provence (Chicken sautéed with herbs and garlic, egg yolk and butter sauce). while it was very good, I think I screwed it up – or the cookbook was wrong. The recipe called for white wine and lemon juice – I put in mine and also the lemon juice for the asparagus! The sauce was lemony, but good! We ended up having grilled asparagus, since for some strange reason there was no lemon juice for the Asperges Au Naturel with Beurre au Citron (boiled asparagus – hot or cold with lemon butter sauce).

I also made Gratin de Pommes de Terre Provencal (Scalloped potatoes with onions tomatoes, anchovies, herbs and garlic). There were no snafoos with that dish except that I bought the wrong potatoes – Hubby will be eating bakers for a while. The potatoes had a mild Mediterranean flavor – the anchovies, tomatoes, and onions really blended well with the potatoes.

The desserts, I thought, were very good. I was very impressed with the Tart au Fromage Frais (Cream Cheese tart) – the crust was very well done. Never having eaten a cheesecake with a pie type crust before, I had mixed feelings about it. I thought it was a good combination; though, and it worked well together. My sister in law made a sauce for the tart that added, not only color, but also a brightness to the dish.

The Pommes Normande En Belle Vue (Applesauce caramel mold) had a tart crisp flavor that my husband really liked. In fact he liked both of them very much. The caramel sauce had to be cooked twice, as the first batch turned back to granules. The end result, complete with whipped cream was a great end to a perfect dinner.

We had plenty of drinks too. Not only did everyone bring wine to have with dinner, our host opened the bar and made some amazing drinks like Mai Thais and Margaritas. Everything was just so much fun! I am looking forward to the next get together.

Dinner was a great time, and we plan on doing a group meal again. We probably won’t do a Julia dinner, but it was a neat experience to try it once. I will make the onion soup again and maybe some of the other menu items. I think the best part of the meal was just sitting around the table, talking, laughing, and just enjoying the company.

Taste and Create - Swimming Pasta

Ok, so I am late once again with Taste and Create. I got all caught up with the Julia dinner this past weekend – post to come in a bit – and Thanksgiving which is tomorrow! Tonight’s dinner was my Taste and Create, a pasta dish I found on my partner, Sweet and Savory’s blog. She has tons of yummy looking treats. Head over there and snoop around. She won’t mind!

Anyway, I made her swimming spaghetti, and it was a hit at our house. I did make a couple of changes, but I will note those. Try this on a busy night – it was a snap to make!

1 can of whole tomatoes (I used crushed) – 28 oz can
½ tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
¼ tsp salt
Dash pepper
1 box of medium thickness spaghetti (I used fettuccini)
Shredded mozzarella cheese (I had Provel)
Shredded Parmesan
Sugar – I didn’t use any as I had San Marzano tomatoes, which are already sweet
2 cloves minced garlic – I added this
1 cup red wine

Cook pasta as directed on box. If you use whole tomatoes, I suggest whizzing them in the food processor or taking a knife to them so you are dealing with smaller pieces.

Sauté garlic in olive oil until softened. Add spices and deglaze with wine. Add tomatoes bring to a low boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Another add-on to this dish would be broccoli or zucchini or even green beans. That would add some color to the dish as well as taste.

Have a great holiday – Julia dinner to be posted next!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chicken Dinner - Part Three of Three (Chicken Casserole)

One of the first meals I made for Hubby before we were married was this chicken dish. I remember my mom making it and always saying that it was great for company. A tasty filling meal that required very little effort. I guess Hubby liked it. He married me and he still eats my cooking!

This is one of the easiest chicken dishes. I am going to give the basic recipe here, but you can add or change the recipe however your tastes go.

Chicken Dinner Casserole

4-5 boneless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup white wine
2 14 oz cans cream of chicken soup
2 14 oz cans cream of mushroom soup
1 slice Swiss cheese for every chicken breast
Stuffing croutons

Place chicken breasts in casserole dish. Pour wine over chicken. Place one piece of cheese on each breast. Combine soups in a separate bowl and pour over chicken mixture. Pour stuffing on top of chicken mixture. Cover with foil and place in preheated 350 degree oven for one hour. Remove foil for last 15-20 minutes of cooking to brown the top. Remove from oven – check chicken for doneness. Allow to sit for five minutes and serve.

This time, though, I dredged the chicken in seasoned flour (salt, pepper, garlic, and Italian seasonings) and sautéed to brown the chicken before cooking in the oven. I thought that was a nice touch, if you have the time.

My next entry will showcase a Julia Child dinner my friends and I are making. Should be fun and interesting! See ya soon!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chicken Dinner - Part Two of Three (Italian Wedding Soup)

For the second of my chicken dishes, I chose another Ina recipe. I love Italian Wedding Soup, and she has a recipe for a relatively healthy soup. I of course couldn’t find chicken sausage, so I had to use a less healthy pork sausage.

I made this for one of my friends, who came to dinner with her host daughter from Russia. The boys were excited to meet someone from another country – and they asked her so many questions, they were able to get their language belt loop for scouts. She taught them 39 new words in Russian, along with the alphabet and numbers. They learned some differences between our schooling and theirs. They also played Wii with her, which she really seemed to enjoy.

Dinner turned out really well. I loved that the meatballs were baked, not cooked in oil. I used chicken stock that I made from scratch – the easiest stock to make – and I think that really helped the soup come to life. I think I made the meatballs a little big, but that was fine. I do think next time, though that I will really try to make them bite size.

Substituting pork sausage for chicken sausage didn’t affect the soup at all. The dill and spinach added a touch of freshness that makes all dishes sparkle. I have to say here that I love spinach in soup; I don’t know why, I just do. It adds a layer of flavor that oftentimes totally completes a dish.

My friends loved dinner. I paired the soup with garlic cheese biscuits – ala Red Lobster style. I didn’t have any cheddar cheese, so I substituted sliced Colby jack. Turned out great. Those are my favorite biscuits. In fact, those are the only biscuits that I make well.

Next post is part three of the chicken dinners. Quick question that is totally off topic. We grilled shrimp tonight that I marinated in olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, parsley, lime zest and fresh squeezed lime juice. While I thought it was really good, I also thought it was missing something. Any ideas? I thought about the smoky flavors of cumin, but wanted some suggestions. Thanks! Talk to you all soon!!

Chicken Dinner - Part One of Three (Chicken Bouillabaisse)

Chicken is one of the most versatile meats. I have three entries that all use chicken and use it differently. Tonight’s chicken is a Barefoot Contessa recipe. I love to watch her show – she uses simple ingredients and always has outstanding results.

I have made bouillabaisse before; with seafood of course, but never a chicken bouillabaisse. After watching her make it twice, I decided to try it. I try to not make any changes in a recipe the first time I make it, but I did make a couple of changes. First I skinned the chicken. I just can’t stomach the skin unless it is fried chicken. Second I had problems with the Rouille. For some reason, it came out very, very soupy. I made aioli from this recipe instead, and that was great.

I think this dish would turn out very well made with boneless chicken instead of bone in, making it easier to eat. Overall, I really enjoyed the flavor combinations. The Pernod and saffron add a new level of flavor and richness. While I really like saffron, I thought the pernod was a bit strong, but if you want that rich flavor without spending the 30.00 for Pernod, you can substitute Ouzo, which is much less expensive. I have to say, I just loved the aioli with the chicken. That added a creaminess and blended so well with the tomatoes and garlic.
If you want to try something different, try Ina’s Chicken Bouillabaisse with her aioli recipe. It’s a twist on bouillabaisse and chicken! Next post – Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Meatballs.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pork Burgers and a New Pasta Recipe

I know I haven’t posted to my blog lately. I have been busy with school and the boys. It seems that when it rains, it pours. Between the work at school, and the boys’ activities, I don’t have time to do much extra stuff.

Today though, I tried a new recipe and made up a recipe. Some friends of mine love to cook and introduced me to an author named Nigel Slater. He has written several cookbooks, one of which I own – Kitchen Diaries, A year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater.

Slater takes you on a journey through his cooking, shopping and pantry with recipes ranging from the very simple to much more complex recipes. I thoroughly enjoy reading not only his recipes, but also the inspiration and reasons for creating them.

Pork Burgers with Lime Leaves and Cilantro

4 scallions
4 red hot chili peppers and their seeds
4 medium garlic cloves
The stalks and leaves from a small bunch of cilantro
A thumb sized lump of ginger
6 lime leaves
4 oz pancetta
1 ½ lbs ground pork
Vegetable oil or peanut oil for frying

Chop the scallions, peppers, garlic, and cilantro and finely grate ginger. Roll up and finely shred the lime leaves – they should be as fine as you can get them – then put the lot in a food processor and process until all in finely chopped wand well mixed. Scrape the paste out into a large bowl. Cut up the pancetta, then put it into the processor and process it to a coarse mush. Now add it, with the spice paste, to the ground pork. Mix everything together – I like to do this with my hands – grinding in some salt and black pepper as you go. Set aside in the fridge for about half an hour for the flavors to mingle.

Squash the seasoned pork into about 12 small balls, then flatten them into patties. Pour a little oil into a heavy, shallow pan, just enough to cover the bottom. When it is hot, add half the meatballs and let them cook for several minutes over a high heat, turning them halfway through, till t hey are cooked in the middle and nicely brown and stickily, sensuously glossy on the outside. Enough for 4 with rice and salad

See what I mean? His writing is almost sensual. The way he talks about food, it is almost another guest in the room. If you get a chance, look for one of his books. I thought the burgers were very good. I really liked the freshness of the lime leaves and cilantro. That is a flavor combination that I am really beginning to like. I do think I overcooked them a bit. Since I am not used to cooking pork on the stove; Hubby usually grills or I cook in the oven.

My second recipe is my own creation. I confess, I really like Lipton Noodles and Sauce. I don’t like the idea of artificial flavors, though. Anyway, tonight I tried to make my own noodles and sauce. I am putting the ingredients down, but I have no exact measurements.

My pasta turned out really good – I was impressed, if I do say so myself. I must confess though, I got the idea from Melissa D’Arabian from The Next Food Network Star. She cooked a similar orzo dish. The stock and cheese made a nice little sauce for the pasta – it was an easy one dish meal that could very easily be adapted for any taste profile that one might want.

Orzo Pasta with Sauce

Chicken stock
Tri color orzo pasta
1 clove garlic – peeled
Chives – fresh or dried
Parmesan cheese, shredded

Cook orzo in chicken stock – I used about a quart. Only drain off excess – there should still be liquid in pan, I just drained off a little stock from the top. Remove garlic clove, add chives, salt pepper, and cheese. Stir to combine, check seasonings and serve.