Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I seem to be going through a phase where nothing I cook turns out very pretty. I blame this on my oven. I even rotated the pie a few times, but alas and alack, it did not get that uniformly golden glow that a pie should have. Luckily, it was still pretty tasty. I say pretty tasty because I was expecting a bit more, but ultimately, it tastes like chicken pot pie. But with more leeks. And mushrooms. Which shouldn't have been unexpected really, seeing as I used my chicken pot pie recipe and added more leeks and mushrooms. I know. I worry about me too sometimes.

inspired by fig jam and lime cordial


1 large or 2 small chicken breasts
1 C half and half or cream (Divided, 1/2 C for poaching chicken, 1/2 C for pie)
1-2 T olive oil
2 leeks
1 container mushrooms (what are those, 8oz?)
4 carrots, cut into coins
1/4 C white wine or vermouth
salt and pepper
1 T flour
2 t thyme

1 half recipe dough
1 egg, or 1/4 C egg beaters mixed with water for egg wash

Salt and pepper the chicken. Add 1/2 C of cream or half and half. Cook at 350 for 20-30 minutes, don't allow it to dry out. You want it moist. When your chicken is done, cut or tear it into bite sized pieces. While the chicken is cooking, slice the leeks into rings and soak in a bowl of water to remove the sand and grit. In a pot, boil some water. Add your carrot coins and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the coins and set aside. In a large pan, add 1-2 T olive oil. Heat to medium. Add the leeks and cook for 5 minutes until softened a bit. Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are tender. Add the tablespoon of flour stir so that it coats the leeks and mushrooms, then cook for 1-2 minutes. Next raise the heat a bit and the poaching liquid from the chicken and the white wine. Give it 1-2 more minutes. Add the carrots and chicken. If it looks dry add up to an additional 1/2 C of cream. Increase your oven temperature to 425. Put your chicken mixture in a large pie dish. Roll out the dough to cover the top. Brush with egg wash. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Planning Ahead

Now that the school year is back in full swing, I simply must start planning meals again. Why plan? For several reasons:

1. I am a lot more likely to make dinner after a long day at work if I already know what I'm supposed to do. There's nothing that forces my hand more than having to make a decision when I'm exhausted. Because when I make decisions while tired and hungry, things get ugly.

2. My brain can not keep track of ingredients. These days money is tight for many of us, and one really good way to stretch your dollar is to not throw out food. Forget not buying expensive, think about how many things you've already bought that you've had to throw out. It kind of turns my stomach. Planning ahead helps me get items out of my fridge and into my dinner. This week, I need to use up a leftover leek from the chicken, leek and mushroom pie I made (I promise to post about that soon). I have some half and half left over from that too that needs using. Also, tonight I'm making something that requires half a can of canned tomatoes, so I planned something to use up the other half of the can.

3. Staving off boredom is another good reason to plan. If I know what I'm making I can keep us from eating chicken four days in a row or pasta every night. Granted there are times when I want to eat pasta every night, but I'm trying to curb those urges.

So with all that in mind, here's the week's plan:

Sunday: I'm trying out Baked Chicken and Pastina. Hopefully with some homemade breadsticks.

Monday: I need to use up some ricotta, so it's Lemon Ricotta Pancakes for me!

Tuesday: In an effort to use up leeks and cream, I'm going to make Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks. Except with turkey bacon instead of pancetta.

Wednesday: To use up the can of tomatoes I will have opened on Sunday (and to get a night off cooking), I'm asking Ryan to make turkey chili. Yum.

Thursday: I'm keeping my options open. Maybe portobello burgers. Maybe portobellos stuffed with artichokes. Either way, it will be vegetarian and mushroomy.

Friday: Turkey Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes. It takes a long time to cook, but the preparation is pretty easy. Just what I need for a Friday night.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Not as Nice as My Mother's Pommes Anna

When I was little, my mother would only make Pommes Anna for special occasions. It's this heavenly melt-in-your mouth conglomeration of potatoes and butter with a crispy crust. Amazing. But you had to wait for it. Maybe it would appear along side the roast beef at Christmas. Or perhaps if a special guest were in town. Because Pommes Anna was a lot of work. At least when I was little it was. Because back then, we had no fancy slicers. The potatoes had to be sliced by hand. And for a Pommes Anna, they have to be uniform thickness. Basically, a huge pain in the you-know-what. And then, they take a long time to cook. The potatoes must be allowed to reach that beautiful, melty state.

So, I don't have a lot of time. I have almost no special occasions. What I do have is a desperate need to eat Pommes Anna. And so I learned to adapt. I use my mandoline slicer to make quick work of the potatoes. I use my baby 6" cast iron to make a Pommes Anna that is just right for two people (yes it could go for four in a pinch, but people will want seconds). I start it on the stove to hasten cook time. And while the result is not as perfect as my mother's, it's still plenty delicious, and more weekday friendly.

for two to four people
Do not attempt without a cast iron pan!!

2 large Idaho potatoes
salt and pepper to taste
butter - you call the exact amount, but we're talking tablespoons here, this is not a diet dish

Use a fancy slicing device to get nice thin, uniform rounds of potato. In your baby cast iron, throw down a healthy (at least a tablespoon) pat of butter. Turn the heat up to medium and make sure the butter melts and coats the bottom of the pan. Preheat your oven to 400 F.

Begin to assemble your Pommes Anna. This dish gets flipped when done, so the first slices in the pan should be pretty. Save your weird off-sized ones to hide in the middle layer. Overlap beautiful uniform round pieces, like so:
Then add another layer of potatoes, this time covering the empty places. After every 2 layers, add a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of pepper. After about every 3 layers, add another pat of butter, breaking it up with your fingers into little dabs, like so:I'm a little random in my administration of the salt, pepper and butter. Just as long as you use enough. It can get rather peppery though so don't use a lot, it shouldn't be overwhelming, despite what my picture shows. When you've layered off all the potatoes and butter, cover the pan with foil and pop it in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a knife goes in with no resistance. Carefully slide a knife around the edge then flip onto a plate. This is where it matters if you have a good cast iron pan or not. Mine usually pops out. It has a gorgeous presentation provided that you watch it and don't leave it in one place on a gas burner for too long while doing other things. If you do that you get a burnt spot like me. Also, feel free to throw a bit of cheese between the layers, like parm or gruyere. But it really doesn't need anything. Just potatoes, butter, salt and some high heat.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Formal Introduction

Any repeat readers among you know that we have long established my laziness, procrastination and scatterbrained tendencies as my leading character traits. So it should come as no surprise to you that it's taken a longer than polite period of time for me to get around to formally introducing you to my dear friend's new food blog. Oh sure, I tossed out a mention of it, but I didn't get much beyond that.

And this is bad because she is very much one of my very best friends. She's the one I call when I have something important to say, but she's also the one I call when I have absolutely nothing to say. She is my confidence. I cannot tell you how many nice things she says about me a day, but it's enough to make me feel like I have my own dedicated cheerleading squad. And these days, she's been my friend long enough that she's becoming my memory. Which is good, because someone's going to have to tell the stories of when we were pretty young things, I remember nothing (and admit even less). I've even spent countless hours filling her in on things that happened before we were friends so that she can remember that too.

In addition to being a stellar friend, she has actual culinary qualifications. Remember all those times I've mentioned my friend, who was a professional baker? Well that's her. The one whose grandmother actually knew Julia Child? Her again. How can you turn down talent like that?

The sum total of my foodie cred is that I'm the girl guys would ask back to their houses for the after party because I could make Kraft mac and cheese without measuring implements. That's all I've got. Better at using a stove than your average frat boy.

So basically, skedaddle on over to My Family Table. Be careful where you sit though. We have a very regimented seating hierarchy. Being close to our host is only part of our goal. We're also trying to make sure she hasn't run out of mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Suddenly Fall

Frankly, with all the complaining some of us did about the heat this summer, we were asking for it. The first weekend after Labor Day was cold in these parts. On Sunday we had the added bonus of a steady drizzle. Honestly, I couldn't have been happier. What better way to while away the day than curl up on the sofa and watch football while tomato sauce burbles away on the stove. This absolutely satisfied my meatball cravings.

Speaking of which, can we talk about my meatball cravings? Point of fact: as a child I did not like meatballs. Not even a little. I don't mean to cast aspersions on my mother's cooking skills, it was just the meatball itself. They just always seemed so squishy. And I did not like certain kinds of squishy. (Who are we kidding, I still don't. See: bananas, eggplant and rare hamburger.) But at some point, I outgrew this. Not only did I outgrow it, I just kept on heading in the other direction. Currently, there are three meatball recipes on this website. This makes four. I swear I'm not obsessed.

adapted from For the Love of Cooking
NB: THIS TAKES ABOUT 3 HOURS TO MAKE. I wasn't kidding about the football game and the rainy day.


for the sauce (PS - this is what takes so long, so if you want to speed things up, buy sauce!)

2 tsp oil
1/2 of a medium onion
6 oz of mushroom (I used baby bellas)- basically this is an 8oz pack with 6-7 mushrooms pulled out
3-4 cloves of garlic
42 oz of crushed tomatoes (this is about a 28oz can and a half)
1 T balsamic
1 t oregano
1 t sugar
at least 1 t red pepper flakes, but more if you like it on the spicier side.

for the meatballs/penne
1 box of penne
enough sauce (see above) - otherwise, I bet you'd need at least a full jar.
1 lb ground turkey (or beef)
6-7 mushrooms (what was left from the sauce)
1/4 C of onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 C bread crumbs
1 egg
1/2 C Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese - 1/4C for the meatballs, 1/4 C for the topping
1 t salt
1 - 2 C shredded mozzarella cheese

for the sauce
Using a food processor, chop the onion, mushroom and garlic until it is a large dice. In a large pot, heat up your oil to medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, mushroom mixture and cook until soft 2-3 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer covered for 2 hours (although I tasted mine after one, and it was really good, so you could probably quit there).

for the rest
Preheat your oven to 350F. Cook the penne according to the directions on the box. In a large bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and egg. Let this stand while you prepare the other ingredients. Blend the mushrooms, garlic and onion in the food processor until finely chopped, but not a paste. Mix this into the bread crumb and egg mixture. Add the 1/4 C of parm, plus the salt and pepper. Finally add the ground turkey and mix gently. Form into small meatballs. In a large skillet, cover the bottom with a thin layer of oil and heat to medium high. Add the meatballs and cook until they are browned on all sides, maybe 15-20 minutes. When they are done, set them aside. Mix the penne in with the sauce. Then VERY gently, stir in the meatballs, you do not want them to break. Then even more gently stir in about half of the mozzarella cheese. Carefully spoon into a large baking dish (I used my lasagna pan). Top with the remaining mozzarella and the final 1/4 C of parm. Cook for 20-30 minutes, but don't overcook or the cheese will dry out a bit.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Disappointment and Pondering

This is a beautiful honey cake. I made it using a fairly majorly altered version of this recipe. Sadly, as pretty as it is, it's just not for me, there just wasn't enough going on there - which is odd, because as I was mixing together the nine million ingredients I was thinking there was too much going on there. At any rate, I ended up very disappointed that I hadn't made my usual (but very nontraditional) little honey cupcakes.

Now I'm left with an underwhelming bundt to finish off and also a bit of roast chicken. (Come on, I know I'm not the only one in this position around Rosh Hashanah). The obvious choice right now is to make soup. But I'm feeling awfully whiny about what kind of soup. Also I kind of want meatballs. I know, not helpful. Since I'm being less than helpful, perhaps you can help sort it out.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Less Than Eloquent

About 12 hours ago, I left my house to go to work. I've spent about an hour and a half driving today (hey, that's my commute) and had over an hour of physical therapy. I sat down about 10 minutes ago. I am exhausted and my verbal abilities are currently at the fbbbt, fbbbt, fbbbt level. I fully intend to be asleep within the next two hours. Lest you think I'm superwoman and somehow managed to whip up this quiche in the midst of all that, allow me to disillusion you. I did not. This is something I made last week. Back when I had time to myself and energy and eloquence.


1 1/2 C thinly sliced sweet (Vidalia) onions
1 T extra virgin olive oil
3 links of sausage, casings removed (for me this was between a 1/2 and 3/4 of a pound)
1-2 oz blue cheese (get what you like) crumbled
1 half recipe dough
1 1/2 C milk
1/2 C egg beaters + 1 egg (alternately, 3 eggs)

Preheat your oven to 400 F.
Place the thinly sliced onions in a pan with the tablespoon of olive oil. Cook on low heat, watching closely to make sure they don't burn. Cook for 15-20 minutes until they are soft and sweet. In the meantime, remove the casings from your sausage and add to another pan. Cook over medium heat using a spoon or spatula to break the sausage up into crumbles. They should be done in about 10 minutes. Drain and set on a paper towel covered plate to dry a bit. Roll out your dough and place it in a 9" pie plate. Place foil over the dough and then fill with pie weights. Bake for 8-9 minutes then remove the foil and weight, prick the dough with a fork and bake for 2 more minutes. Remove and let cool for a few minutes while you whip up the custard. In a large bowl, combine the milk and eggs and whip until frothy. In another bowl, mix together the sausages, the onions and the blue cheese. Evenly distribute the sausage mixture in the bottom of your pie crust. Pour the egg and milk mixture over the top. Bake at 375 F for 25-30 minutes or until the center is set. Let rest for 10 minutes before eating.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Peach and Ginger Scones

Way back when I was in a peachy mood, I harbored a dream of making peach cupcakes, but with ginger. Come on, how delicious does that sound? And then of course, life got in the way. Mainly, the fact that I am incredibly lazy got in the way. So it never happened. Then last week, when I was lamenting the fact that I am far too lazy to have make myself breakfast every day, I decided to whip up a batch of scones (far less labor intensive than cupcakes my friends), using the same brilliant peach and ginger pairing. Admittedly, they are pretty tasty, but I still want cupcakes.

adapted from Everybody Loves Sandwiches

2 C flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 C butter (4 T)
3 T sugar
1/2 C milk
1 egg
1 t vanilla
2 T crystallized ginger, in a fine dice
1 peach cut in a 1/4" dice

Preheat your oven to 425 F.
In a stand mixer combine the flour, sugar and baking powder. Then add the butter and run the mixer until it resembles a coarse meal. Add the ginger and mix again. In a small bowl whisk together the egg and milk until foamy. Reserve a tablespoon of your eggy milk, and add the rest to the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Then add the vanilla. Stir again. Remove from mixer and add the peaches. Gently fold them in by hand. This is an enormously sticky dough, so have a lot of flour on hand when you turn the dough out onto your work surface. Knead it about 12 times. Roll it out to about an 8" circle and cut into 8 slices. Place on a silpat or parchment covered baking sheet. Brush with a combination of milk and egg, and bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack.


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