Friday, July 30, 2010

One Year Anniversary Peugeot Pepper Mill Giveaway

One year ago today, I started my blog with this post, proclaiming my intentions and telling a bit about myself.  Yay, one year anniversary!!  What I didn't tell you was this: the reason I really started my blog was because I was very lonely.  My entire social circle disappeared after Katrina and because I have worked from home for the past 5 years, I had little opportunity to rebuild it.   Kid Cayenne (my wife, were it legal... otherwise known as partner, since it isn't) and I share most aspects of our lives, but my wide open-armed love of food is not really one of them.  I decided that if I were to build a new circle of friends, I wanted it it to include other people who shared my obsession for food so that I'd have kindred souls to exchange recipes and ideas with, fixate on obscure ingredients with and hopefully even share a meal with.  My blog is my attempt to create that for myself, both virtually and in real life.

This means I need readers and even more, I need commenters.  I need the exchange.  I need the give and take.  I need YOU, dear readers, to talk to me about what you think, what you like and don't like.  What you agree with, what you don't.  What you are intrigued by and what you can teach me.   I need feedback.

I know you are out there.  My stats tell me you are. Since few of you comment, I've decided to try luring you all out by offering an anniversary celebration giveaway of one of my favorite kitchen/dining room tools: the Peugot pepper mill.  I've had mine for years and it's dear to me.  Even though I have one, I would happily take another.  It is beautiful, both in aesthetic and design.  It functions superbly.  It is perfect for stove-side or table top.  I will be giving away one Peugeot Paris u'Select 9-Inch Chocolate Pepper Mill that features Peugeot's masterfully engineered grinding mechanisms and the patented u'Select feature, which lets you choose the grind from six settings with a simple turn of the base.  Yours will be even better than mine, which has the old style adjustable grind mechanism and doesn't lock into place.  I hope you all enter because this is a fine pepper mill and deserves a wonderful home.
How to Enter:

Leave a comment on this post telling me one thing about yourself.  Any one thing.  Anonymous comments will be not be counted, since I would have no way of knowing who you are.  One entry per person.  Entries will be accepted until midnight on Saturday, August 14, 2010.  The winner will be announced on Monday, August 16.  Winner will be selected randomly.  The giveaway is not sponsored by anyone but little old me.

Good luck!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Penne with Baked Tomatoes

I recently mentioned a recipe I wanted to share with you.  It's great for this time of year, when the grape tomatoes are little jewels of sun warmed power and flavor and perfection.  It'll be fine later, when the tomatoes are hothouse harvested too, but right now, if you go down to the farmer's markets (or your own backyard if you are far fancier than I am), you can get little tomatoes that taste so entirely like their destiny that you are reluctant to do what I'm doing, smothering them in bread crumbs and cheese and sticking them in a hot oven.  If you are, I get it, but push past and try this anyway.  It's so worth it.

I have become a big fan of The Wednesday Chef and this is the second recipe I've made from her blog.  She got it from The Best American Recipes Cookbook.

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound very ripe grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano
2 TB freshly grated pecorino (or more Parmigiano)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound dried penne or other pasta
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Grease a 13x9-inch baking dish with one third of the oil. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, in the dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Please ignore my vaguely dirty stove and focus instead of the beauty of these tomatoes.  Gorgeous, right?

In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheeses and garlic.  Mix well. Sprinkle the bread  crumb mixture over the tomatoes, making sure that each cut side is well covered with the crumb mixture. The recipe made a bit more than it felt like I needed.  I think I sprinkled a bit more after I had taken this photo and still had a bit left.  I'm sure adding it to the pan would have been fine.

Bake until the tomatoes are cooked through and starting to brown on top, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, or until al dente. Time the pasta so it finishes cooking around the same time that the tomatoes are ready to come out of the oven.

When the tomatoes are done, add the torn basil and stir vigorously to mix everything into a sauce of sorts. Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the baking dish.  Add the remaining olive oil and fold it all together until the tomatoes and cheesy breadcrumbs are married with the pasta. Serve at once.

Serves 4


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mahony's Po Boys, New Orleans

It's been yeeeears since I last went to Mahony's.  So many years that everything is completely different now.  I remember a small dining room that was very much like sitting in someone's front parlor.  It is now opened up and light, airy, still cozy but with far more space.  An extensive po-boy menu graces the front wall.

I went with a friend and we split the Fried Green Tomato and Grilled Shrimp 12 inch po-boy.  While the remoulade was a little too Creole-mustardy for me, she pronounced it the "best po-poy I have ever eaten."  High praise, indeed.

The tomatoes were freshly fried in a crisp cornmeal batter.  Shrimp were perfectly grilled.  The sauce was heavily flavored with green onion, Creole mustard and more (too much flavor for me actually but my lunch companion was fine with it).  All in all, a very nice po-boy.

Mahony's Po-Boy Shop on Urbanspoon


Friday, July 23, 2010


I haven't abandoned my blog, I swear.  It just turns out I have rheumatoid arthritis (diagnosis confirmed solidly last week), which explains why I'm too tired to cook and my right hand* hurts too much to chop or lift a skillet.  I'm being treated and in time, the meds should make things all better,but in the meantime, please forgive the posting irregularities.  I'm still here.  Just cringing into my wrist brace, practicing my gimp moves and waiting the two + months for the DMARDs to work their magic.

Anyone eating anything delicious lately?  Or have any suggestions for things to cook that require little or no hands to prepare?

* I'm right handed.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

CSA Vegetable Sauté

I try to make a habit of visiting the Hollygrove Market and Farm on Tuesday afternoons.  They are kind enough to be there at non-crack of dawn hours (noon-6pm!) which makes it much, much easier for me.  I'm not the kind of girl who likes to sacrifice her morning sleeping time, no matter how beautiful the produce at the Farmer's Market.

Last week, I got the Box instead of just shopping the Lagniappe table the way I usually do.  It was filled with things I knew exactly what I wanted to do with and influenced my week's menu nicely.  Among other things, I was able to cook:

  • Fresh Blackeyed Peas with Cornbread and a sliced tomato and cucumber salad
  • Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree
  • Penne with Baked Tomato Sauce (will post the recipe for this soon.  it's wonderful)
  • Pork chops with Vegetable Sauté (the addition of a little bit of cornmeal makes this even better than a regular veg sauté, since it introduces some crispiness and texture to the dish)

For the Vegetable Sauté:

3 TB olive oil
3-4 new red potatoes, cut into small enough pieces that they can cook quickly (about 12 pieces per potato)
6 large okra pods, cut into half inch slices
1/2 cup cornmeal
salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
1 yellow squash, cut into half moons
1 small zucchini, cut into half moons
1 small red bell pepper, halved, cleaned and sliced
1 clove garlic, minced

Heat olive oil in heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat.  Mix cornmeal and a bit of salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste in a mixing bowl.  Toss cut potatoes in the cornmeal mixture to coat and then shake off excess.  Add to skillet and fry gently, turning after 2 minutes (or when golden on bottom side).  Continue to fry gently, without stirring too much, until potatoes begin to soften on the inside but have crisp exterior.
Meanwhile, toss okra in remaining cornmeal mixture and shake off excess.  Add to skillet when potatoes are beginning to soften through.  Sauté until okra is also golden, about 2 minutes.

Add squash, zucchini and red bell pepper.  Sauté until vegetables are beginning to caramelize but still firm/crisp, about 4-5 minutes.  Add minced garlic and sauté one more minute.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 side portions.


Friday, July 9, 2010

I Need Ego

I've been carrying on an infatuation with a coffee cup for what seems like forever... it's so perfect, so very, very asymmetrically perfect.  It's by Iittala from the Ego line, and I can't get my mind off it. Pristine white porcelain designed by Stefan Lindfors of Finland, it has this lovely off center stance, balanced by a wideset handle that touches down lightly on the saucer.  I could write it a poem, I love it so.

There's a stunning photo of it here (all gorgeously lit and romantic):  I open my coffee cup cabinet, see my mismatched mugs and envision a pristine row of Iittala Ego coffee cups and saucers in their place.  Poor chipped, wrong sized, rotten old mugs haven't got a chance of ever holding my affection when there's a cup like the Ego in the world.  Only trouble is, good grief, they're spendy.  $40 for one cup and saucer.  One.  My love remains unrequited.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pasta With Eggplant Puree

Contrary to the photographic evidence, this is a VERY sexy sauce.

I won't try to compete with the beautiful way in which Francis Lam or The Wednesday Chef have written this dish up.  If you don't already read their food blogs, begin immediately.  You can get both the recipe, lovely instructions, far better photos than mine, and the benefit of proper writing technique.

What I will tell you is that this is my new favorite thing.  I put mine over the best pasta I could get my hands on (splurged on the glorious $6/lb Rustichella d'Abruzzo) and thought I had found a portal into heaven.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Citrus Marinated Chicken with Mango Chutney, Black Beans and Rice

I've been sitting on the photos of this dish for over a month now, so they predate the arrival of the Fyrkat grill.  The most delicious way to cook the chicken would certainly be on the grill, although my broiler does a fine, fine job.  My version of the recipe originates back several years to a day when I had no idea what to cook for dinner (what else is new?).  I have a friend who, among other things, is genius at suggesting how to transform my random fridge and pantry ingredients into beautiful meal ideas.  On this day, I had a mango, some canned black beans and the ubiquitous boneless, skinless chicken breast.  Her suggestion of citrus marinated chicken with mango chutney, black beans and rice became one of mine and Kid Cayenne's favorite home cooked meals.

1 mango, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime
red chili pepper flakes or crumbled dry red chili peppers (to taste)
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast (although certainly you could use different cuts)
about 1/2 cup dry white wine

Combine mango, onion, garlic, lemon and lime juice and chili flakes in a nonreactive bowl.  Add chicken breast, slightly burying under the marinade ingredients.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to marinate.  Turn chicken breasts over once half way through.

Preheat oven to broil or prepare hot grill.

Remove chicken from bowl and lightly scrape away any remaining bits of marinade ingredients (to prevent burning while cooking).  Salt and pepper the chicken.  Broil or grill chicken until cooked through. The time depends on your heat and the thickness of your chicken. For chicken breasts, 6-7 minutes on each side is probably adequate but please check for doneness .

Chicken should be nicely browned on each side, firm to the touch, but not hard and juices should run clear.

Meanwhile, cook your remaining marinade in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Once the mango begins to break down and the onions are transparent, add white wine.  Continue to reduce while the chicken cooks, stirring occasionally.  They should finish about the same time. Chutney will be thick, sticky and jam-like.

Serve chicken with chutney, rice and a side of black beans (sauté a little diced onion in oil until translucent, add a can of rinsed and drained whole black beans, a splash of water or chicken broth and salt and pepper to taste.  Heat until steaming).


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