Thursday, June 30, 2011

Where's my dinner?

Today was the last day of my week-long literacy class. It's been amazing to be away from my office for a bit, talk to other teachers, and learn more than I ever knew there was to learn about vocabulary and literacy from some brilliant educators.

But enough of that, you aren't here to read about school. Let's talk about the food. Actually, there isn't much to talk about. I haven't cooked since last Sunday. It's been mostly take out and PB&J around here. But, it's about 9:45pm, and I still haven't had dinner. I'm itching to cook something on the lighter side; something straightforward and fast.

After a quick assessment (applying my teacher terms here...), I found that some tomato, parmesan, onion and fresh(?) rosemary. A flatbread pizza is what's for dinner.

I saw something like this on a food blog last week, but I can't remember which one. So please don't go around telling people that I invented this amazing thing, because I didn't.

I caramelized about half an onion in some oil with a small teaspoon of sugar to move the process along. After the onion, I sliced some tomato as thin as possible, shredded a little parmesan and sprinkled some rosemary. I topped it off with a drizzle of olive oil and popped it in the oven. Top and pop.

I am satisfied.

What do you eat when the moon is high?


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bella Notte

With all this talk of Italy in our house, plus my love of European-style grazing I decided tonight to make a Mega-Dinner. It didn't take much convincing to get Neighbor Jill in on the action, and by 5pm, we had popped open a bottle of Pinot and were scrubbing clams.

I know Sanne will probably come back with a lot of ideas (I hope) for recipes, so I might be infringing a bit by going Italian tonight. But I just can't help myself. Plus, Jill is headed that way next weekend, so we thought this would be a great way to send her off.
aren't they beautiful?
We started with a classic bruschetta of tomato, basil, mozzarella, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Perfection.

...and snacked on some stuffed peppers, marinated olives, prosciutto and shaved parmesan.  

I needed a white wine for this recipe, and so Jill picked up this one. I have been more into red recently and haven't enjoyed a white in a while. But this was gooooood. 

I got this magazine a few months ago. Its the new and improved Bon Appetit, and this so happens to be the Italy Issue. I've been referring back to it ever since I bought it. It has a lot of great tips on making the perfect pasta. Tonight I decided to try their recipe for Spaghetti Alle Vongole or: Spaghetti with Clams. Summer makes me want to eat lots of shellfish, know what I mean?

I think I've said it before, but I'll go ahead and say it again. What I love about Italian food is the simplicity. Nothing overpowers anything else. Also, it uses very few ingredients, so cooking italian won't break the bank. ;)

For this one, all you'll need is:
6oz spaghetti
4T evoo
1 garlic clove
1/4t crushed red pepper
1/4c white wine
2lb clams
2T roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley (I just realized that I totally forgot to add this. My bad.)

Start by thinly slicing 1 clove garlic, and cooking it until golden in 3T olive oil. Add 1/4t crushed red pepper, swirling it around until cooked.

Cook pasta until its just about al dente (but not quite), about 2 minutes. You'll finish cooking it in a few. Drain pasta, reserving about 1/4c or more of the water. Don't forget like I did...

Meanwhile, add 1/4c white wine, return to a simmer and add clams. Cover and cook until clams open. Then, with tongs, transfer them to a separate bowl.

Like so.

Add 1/4c pasta water, return to boil and add pasta. Toss pasta thoroughly in sauce. If it seems to be too dry, add a little more pasta water. This is also when you should add the parsley. Then put the clams back in.

Serve with finely grated parmesan cheese. The finer it is, the easier it melts into the sauce. :)

See! Wasn't that easy? But wait-- there's more!

This one is called the Grown-up Sundae. Vanilla Bean ice cream, a little chocolate syrup and a shot of espresso. 


So simple, but sooo satisfying. If you manage to let it melt before you scarf it all down, it becomes a delicious iced latte.

I want to remind you that you can contact us via email at: Send us recipes, links, pictures... it might be more convenient than leaving it in the comments section. But please, keep leaving us feedback there :) And, if you're looking for anything in particular, our recipe index is still in the side bar ~>

A few of you have mentioned to me that you've tried a recipe or two of ours... how about the rest of you? What would you like to see more of this summer? Grilling? Something interesting with a lobster? More Italian? (please say more Italian) 

Have a good Monday!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Chicken Parmesan according to a 6-year old

Tonight, my 6 year old cousin Amanda called me to "chit chat." She was at my sisters' house, cooking dinner and watching The Goonies. She told me how to make Chicken Parmesan. Here are her step-by-step instructions:

"Take some chicken. Put it in the egg, put it in the bread put it in the pan. Then you put some cheese on there, some sauce on there, and then some more cheese. And then you put some more noodles. Then you put it in the oven. You set an alarm and you wait until the alarm does: 'beeeep' then you have to take it out of the oven and then you can eat it."

Later, I remembered to ask for a picture, but this is all my sister could get:

Here she is awake:

Today, in the 11th hour, I found out that a spot opened up in this class that I need to take. It's a week-long institute on literacy and the instructor sent me approximately 13 articles, journals and book excerpts to prepare me for each speaker. Oh, and it starts on Monday.

And so tonight its reading and takeout.  That goes for Saturday and Sunday, too.

Sushi and Development of Orthographic Knowledge and the Foundations of Literacy, a winning combination.

Have a great weekend! Do something fun for me!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

100th post, Southern-style!

Happy 100th post to us!! We wanted to do something extra special to mark this event, and it just so happened to coincide with our Southern-potluck-fire pit going-away party for Josh, who is leaving next week for medical school in Atlanta. So we decided to collect recipes from all of our guests and give you a schmorgusboard of southern delights and, as always, a ton of pictures. Sanne made some banana pudding and hibiscus limeade, and the two of us tried our hand at Sipsey's Southern Fried Chicken. Our friends brought the rest. Special thanks to Becky for providing the most perfect soundtrack ever for the party! Please note: If you're into healthy eating, you might wanna skip this post. "Health food" in the Old South is about as scarce as bird crap in a cuckoo clock. (You like that one? I've got more!)
Here's a breakdown of the menu...

hibiscus limeade
Sanne picked up a couple of bags of limes to make a childhood favorite, Limeade. Meanwhile, I was looking through my new Real Simple and came across a page of lemonade modifiers, one of them being hibiscus tea and mint. So, Sanne added some hibiscus tea (Tazo Passionfruit tea) to the limeade.

2 cups fresh lime juice
heat on the stove 1 1/2-2 cups sugar to 2-2 1/2 c water; just enough to make a simple syrup
meanwhile, steep 3 Tazo Passionfruit tea bags in 1 1/2 c hot water
Let cool to room temperature and add water to taste
vodka optional, but highly recommended

extra points if you use a mason jar!

served in recycled wine bottles


banana pudding
Normally before a party, we're busier than a pair of jumper cables at a redneck picnic. So this time around, we purposefully chose simple recipes. For instance: your granny's banana pudding. Layer banana pudding, cool whip, vanilla wafers and banana slices in a clear bowl. Ta-da! Beautiful dessert, and without a single stick of butter!

watergate salad
For some unknown reason, southerners love to put odd things in pudding and jello. My Grandmother made me a cookbook once of her favorite recipes, and I kid you not, there was an entire section of congealed salads. Although this particular dish may not have originated in the south, watergate salad is an excellent example of the southern congealing-obsession, and therefore, a necessary component of our party. Blake and Shanu were the brave souls who decided to tackle this, and it turned out to be very tasty. I found a copy of the recipe as well as a short history here.

you'll need:
2 small packs of Jell-O Pistachio Pudding (four serving size boxes)
1 can crushed pineapple (20 oz)
3 cups miniature marshmallows
1 tub Cool Whip (12 oz)
½ cup pecans (chopped)

Pour the dry Jell-O Pistachio Pudding powder in a bowl. Add the marshmallows.
Drain the pineapple but save the juice. Add the pineapple to the pudding mixture and pour in ¼ cup of pineapple juice. You may want to add more juice. If you pour in all the juice, then the salad is pretty runny. Many recipes call for pouring in the pineapple without draining and adding juice to taste which doesn’t make much sense. The key to having the salad turn out great is in controlling the juice, so drain the pineapple and then add juice to the desired consistency.
Fold the Cool Whip in. Don’t stir hard or use a mixer. Just mix until the flavors and color are blended.
Then fold in the nuts.
Chill for an hour or two before serving.

collard greens
Blake and Shanu brought these gems as well. They are simple, healthy(-er than everything else on this page) and uber-southern. I don't have Blake & Shanu's exact recipe, but I found a similar one on Southern Living. I like how it says to use a piece of cornbread to sop up the "potlikker". Definitely click on the link, it's a cute article called "Your Mama's Way or Your Way?" It gives you old fashioned southern recipes and their younger, quicker counterparts, which you can make on your busiest day, including fried catfish, apple dumplings, and honey-bourbon glazed ham.

trim stems by any means possible

boiled peanuts
If you ever want to have boiled peanuts for an event, its important to know that: 1) they should cook more or less for an entire day. And 2) they require approximately 7 cups of salt (that is only a slight exaggeration). 

potato salad
Jill whipped up a delicious potato salad with yellow potatoes, sour cream, dijon mustard and a little vinegar, celery, s+p, and yellow onions. When she said there was no mayonnaise in it I was like, "Don't you piss down my leg and tell me it's rainin'!" But its true! Just when I thought these kinds of things were always better with mayo, Jill makes me eat my words. Well done!

cheese grits
Our roommate Rajiv needed a little more explanation on this dish (see: Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny), but no Southern themed anything is complete without it. Kelsey added cheese and bacon to hers, and it made me happier than a puppy with two tails.

Alex "carried the watermelon" Watermelon is an important southern-summer party staple, and we couldn't have done it without you, Alex! Why didn't we have a seed-spittin contest?

Bless her heart, Elizabeth seemed a bit reluctant about the whole concept. It became clear when she showed up with New Hampshire beer "to represent the North" and called us "you people" (hey, we aren't war-ing; it's all about the food!). Hopefully we gave her a positive southern experience, with our endearing rhetoric and sugar-fied tea.
She was gracious enough to try her hand at cornbread, using a recipe from Food & Wine magazine. She also brought a homemade honey-cinnamon butter; her own recipe. Yum!

you will need:
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and put it in the oven.
  2. In a bowl, combine 1 1/3 cups of cornmeal with the sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  3. Put the remaining 2/3 cup of cornmeal in a medium heatproof bowl, add the boiling water and stir well. Stir in the buttermilk and eggs, then add the dry ingredients and the melted butter. Mix until just blended. Pour the batter into the hot baking dish and bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Turn the corn bread out onto a rack to cool completely.

peach cobbler
Josh went directly to Paula Dean for this one, and she didn't disappoint. The fun thing about this recipe, is that you layer the fruit on top of the batter. As it cooks, the batter rises around the fruit. Oh, Paula! Is there any cobbler trickery you don't know?

4 cups peeled, sliced peaches
2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup water
8T butter
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups milk
ground cinnamon, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine peaches, 1c sugar and water in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.
Mix remaining 1c sugar, flour and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. Sprinkle top with cinnamon, if using.
Batter will rise to top during baking. Bake for 30-45 minutes.
Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, y'aaaawwwwwlll!

southern fried chicken
I have never in my life made fried chicken, so I was more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockin chairs. Also, as party hosts, Sanne and I would not have been satisfied with anything less than perfect. I consulted several recipes, including Sipsey's. Taking a few components from several of them, this is a winning recipe:

you will need:
chicken, bones in
gallon ziplock bags
vegetable oil
salt and pepper

Salt and pepper your chicken, then soak in buttermilk for several hours in the refrigerator in large ziplock bags, flipping once so as to coat both sides evenly. 


In another gallon-size ziplock, mix flour with s+p, and whatever other seasonings you like. Make sure you have plenty of salt! Toss a few pieces at a time.
Heat enough vegetable oil in a pot to nearly cover chicken. The oil needs to be at least 345 degrees to cook chicken thoroughly. CAREFULLY put a couple of pieces of flour-coated chicken in the oil. Use a lid or splatter screen to keep that hot oil from splashing on you. Also, don't crowd the chicken. 3 good sized pieces should fry nicely in a large pot. They need to cook for about 5-8 minutes on each side. Keep an eye on it; you'll be able to tell when they're ready to flip.
Drain on a cooling rack or paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

Our chicken turned out so amazingly good and beautiful, Sanne and I were giddy with excitement, high-fiving each other as it was coming out of the fryer. What can I say, we're huge nerds.

Of course, there was a big ol' jug of sweet tea. There was also some sweet tea flavored vodka, courtesy of Kate. But don't drink too much of that, or you'll feel like you were ate by a goat and s#!t off a cliff. I'm just sayin's all...

Clockwise, from upper left: Watergate salad, watermelon, honey-cinnamon butter, cornbread, collard remnants
sweet tea, peach cobbler, banana pudding, liquor
happy plate

We were feeling nostalgic and a little sad that this was our last party (for a while) with Josh. But all the food turned out so great, and the company was fun, too. And, as always, it wouldn't be a party if there wasn't a little dancing at the end. Here are a few more shots from our soiree.

Sarah's cuter than a speckled hefer in a pansy patch!

Sanne's camera got a little tipsy...
late-night watergate snacking

Jiffy feet

We had been talking about throwing a southern party since we moved to Boston, almost 2 years ago. I must say, that it was everything we hoped it would be. Memories of hot boiled peanuts from a roadside stand on the way to the beach and "pickin a switch" were fondly recalled over plates of fried and congealed goodies, while Reba, Johnny and Conway serenaded us from an open window. It was a great night. As the old saying goes: "If things get any better around here, I may have to hire someone to help me enjoy it!"

What are your favorite southern foods? Any other great southern sayings we should know about? We don't want to isolate our northern friends either... what are some favorite food memories/sayings(?) specific to north of the Mason-Dixon?
Whew! 100 posts down! What would you like to see from us in our next 100 posts?