Thursday, December 18, 2008

Open Door Open Kitchen

For my out-of-town readers, and in case you didn't see the article in our local newspaper, The Wichita Eagle, here's a link to the story Joe Stumpe wrote about my food blog.

Jaime Oppenheimer, a photojournalist from the Eagle shot the photos (which do not appear online). Jamie was nice enough to share a couple out-takes from our shoot. Very nice shots.

Obviously I'm not just a cook, but a comedian too. (Actually, I don't remember what we were laughing at.)

Habibi, my sweet little dog loves momma's cookin' too. Short ribs are one of his favs.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dark chocolate heaven

I was never a real dark chocolate lover until my husband came along. He LOVES dark chocolate. Like most women love chocolate of any kind; he lives for dark chocolate. Randy's love for dark chocolate has rubbed off a bit, so I made these beautiful little truffles today.

Cooking the chocolate.

All ready to be chilled.

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Truffles
Yields 30 truffles

2 cups Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Baking Chips
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Coatings (coat in one):
Chopped pecans
Sweetened coconut

Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add butter and stir until melted. Add chocolate to saucepan. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and pour the chocolate mixture into a shallow bowl. Cover and cool in the fridge until firm, at least two hours. Roll mixture into 1" balls. Roll each ball in the coating of your choice (or 10 in each like I did). ENJOY!

Fruition in my kitchen

I like how that rhymes. Randy's son, Josh, an aspiring chef and fabulous cook happens to work at one of my favorite restaurants in Denver, Fruition. Josh was home for the weekend and wanted to cook us dinner. We, of course, very enthusiastically obliged his wish. And boy was it amazing. I'm telling you - Josh has learned so much in the past 8 months he's been living in Denver. He's going somewhere in the culinary world. He's not sure where yet - but I'm sure it's somewhere great. The pics below should entice you to go to Fruition when you are in Denver.

Amy's Family Dinner

As you've probably read about before here, my good friend Amy comes for dinner on Wednesday nights. This particular week, Randy was out-of-town, and I finally had Amy's dad, Mark and his lovely girlfriend Gayle over for dinner.

I learned a valuable lesson this night too - ALWAYS ask new dinner guests if they have any food allergies before planning the menu. Gayle is allergic to nuts, and I'd coated the halibut in almonds and put pesto (pine nuts) on the pasta. However, Gayle was very gracious about the situation, and it turned out okay.

Amy's salad - way to go babe! (Amy loves to eat and is learning that cooking can be equally fun.)

The menu that evening was almond-encrusted halibut and jumbo shrimp with an orange burre blanc sauce, pesto bowtie pasta and fresh green beans.

We all had a great time!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cupcake Perfection

Barefoot Contessa's Coconut Cupcakes

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk (I must have used milk because I don't remember buying buttermilk)
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:
1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Chicken with Pancetta and Balsamic Vinegar

Thank you Mark Bitten. He is one of my favorite cookbook/blog authors, but I especially love him for this recipe. I was searching his blog for a recipe using my pancetta from La Quercia, and found this one. It will NOT disappoint I tell ya. I even served it to some foodie friends and they were way impressed.

Cook the chicken in cast iron. Makes all the difference.

Pancetta, my second favorite cured pork. Next to bacon, of course.

Beth and me - about to eat. (Of course our husbands had nothing to do with the pictures, they just wanted to EAT!)

Trout Almondine

Digging into the my new, beloved Artfully Done Cookbook has been such a joy. I've thumbed through it making mental notes on what to make first. Trout Almondine was a wonderful choice, and was a crowd pleaser the night I made it. (If you live in Wichita, buy your fish at the Fish Company for the freshest catch - I know its VERY ironic to use the word fresh when we're talking about Kansas. Just trust me though).

Plating dinner.

Enjoying dinner with Randy and Amy. (Thanks AJ for snappin' the pic.)