Sunday, 19 December 2010

the end is near (of first semester)! and I couldn't be happier

The past couple of weeks have been stressful. I had the majority of my finals last week and my first solo recital at Juilliard this past Friday. Luckily, I only have 2 finals left and then I can go home to the warmer weather of Houston.
I did get some cooking in last week. A surprising amount of cooking considering the fact that I was so busy.
On Monday night, I made a dish called Orange Chicken. It's a recipe from my mom and it's something I grew up eating. It is called orange chicken because it looks kind of orange in color, not because it tastes like oranges or anything. It's really easy to prepare. First preheat the oven to 350. You need chicken parts with skin and bone...whichever parts you like best. Personally, I got a chicken breast. You place the chicken in a pyrex dish or shallow pan. Sprinkle the chicken with garlic salt, pepper and paprika, and then pour Italian dressing over it, allowing some of the dressing - At home we use La Martinique French Vinaigrette, but I couldn't find that in New York, so I used Newman's Own Italian dressing - to fill up the bottom of the pan. Rub the seasonings and dressing into the chicken and then add a small amount of water to the pan. Place the chicken in the oven and bake for an hour. This is my finished product, along with the hunk of bread that I had as a really boring side:

The side dish may have been boring, but the chicken was delicious!

For my birthday, my amazing roomates gave me a grill pan. This has been very useful for my steak cooking. I used it for the first time on Tuesday night. Both Liz and I had a steak. We sprayed the pan with Pam, sprinkled the steaks with salt and pepper, and cooked them each for about a minute on each side. They were thin steaks, so they cooked fast!
They turned out so good! I can't wait to use the grill pan more in the future!
On Wednesday night, when I finally got home from school at 10:00, I made penne pasta with roasted tomatoes, basil, ricotta, and parmesan.
First, I roasted the tomatoes. I placed a box of cherry tomatoes on a cookie pan covered with foil. I poured olive oil over them, and sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. After heating the oven to 400 degrees, I put them in the oven and left them there until they started to look a little bit wilty. That's how you know when they're done.
While I was roasting the tomatoes, I cooked the pasta. I then chopped up some fresh basil, and mixed together the pasta, basil, tomatoes, fresh ricotta cheese, and parmesan cheese. Roasted tomatoes have to be one of the most delicious things ever, and they taste even better with pasta, cheese, and basil:

Our kitchen was crowded that night. Liz was busy cooking eggplant parmesan for our friends/the vocal holiday party. This time she included ricotta cheese, just to give it a little extra flavour. It was sooo good! Apparently it got devoured in seconds at the party.
On Thursday night, my parents came to town! We ate at a restaurant called Delta Grill. It was a restaurant that I had been to once before with my sister and her friend Ashley. The fried chicken is amazing, as well as the chicken BBQ sandwich. My parents and I really enjoyed it.
That night, I baked cookies! They were simple Toll House chocolate chip cookies, which can always be counted upon to be delicious. You can find the recipe and instructions here.

That was the extent of my cooking this week.

I also ate at some amazing restaurants this week. On Friday night, my parents and I went to Bar Americain, one of Bobby Flay's restaurants. We all shared tuna tartar to start. It came with slices of toasted bread, capers, cheese, and other garnishes. My mom hates raw fish and even she liked it. That's how good it was. My dad and I both had steaks for dinner, and we agreed that they were the best steaks we've had in a long time. My mom had duck and it was also incredible. For dessert, we shared an amazing apple tart.

On Saturday night, we ate at Blue Smoke BBQ. I had been craving barbeque for a long time. I had read about this place on a friend of mine's blog, and it was on the sifty fifty, so we decided it must be good. It was. It was different from most of the bbq I've had but it was incredibly good. We shared Texas Beef Brisket and Beef Ribs. Everything was extremely tasty. It definitely satisfied my bbq craving. Before dinner, I tried one of their blood orange margaritas, and it was one of the best margaritas I've ever had. Overall, Blue Smoke was a great experience!

Now it's time to finish up finals and go home to Houston!!!!!!!


Sunday, 21 November 2010

EAT SOME FISH WOMAN!

"Eat some fish woman." Those were my sister's words to me after she read my first blog post. She thinks I eat too much red meat, which is probably true. As a result, this post is dedicated to my sister Rachel!
Tonight, I made salmon for dinner!
With tomatoes caprese on the side!
I'm not a huge fish eater, but I do really love good salmon. Also, salmon is so quick and easy to cook. It was perfect for a night like tonight when I didn't want to cook anything that would take too much time.
Caprese makes a really easy side salad. Unfortunately, I forgot to buy basil when I was at the store, so my caprese was sadly lacking in the basil department.
It was a tasty, fairly low-calorie meal!
On a note unrelated to food, Liz and I have decided that we want to train for the new york city half-marathon in March. Liz runs a lot, and I started running more seriously about 3 weeks ago. I've gotten to where I can run 5 miles at a steady pace without stopping. This is a pretty big deal for me, as I used to be opposed to running as much as 1 mile. My sister did team in training to train for her first half-marathon, so Liz and I are looking into doing that! Who knows, perhaps I'll follow in my sister's footsteps and train for a triathlon at some point!

Making the Salmon:
Warning, this isn't a very exact recipe.
First, pre-heat the oven to 350˚.
Then, start by chopping a handful of parsley. After that, chop a clove of garlic in with the parsley, as well as some thyme. Chop all of that together until it is very fine. Then add salt and pepper. Spread this mixture evenly over a six ounce piece of salmon. You don't want this mixture to be spread too thin, so make more if need be. Once this is done, cover a baking pan with aluminum foil and place the salmon on top.
Once the oven is done pre-heating, put the salmon in and bake for approximately 15 minutes. I like my salmon to still be a bit pink in the middle, so cook it more or less depending on how you like it.

Making the Caprese salad:
Slice a tomato into slices that are approximately 1 centimeter thick. Slice some mozzarella to put on top of each tomato slice. Pour however much balsamic vinegar and olive oil you like over the top. Remember to buy basil and put a leaf of basil on top of each piece of tomato with mozzarella.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

and so my favourite month begins

There are 4 main reasons why I love November.
No. 1 is, of course, that my birthday happens in November. (and so the countdown begins...26 more days)
No. 2 is that Thanksgiving (one of my favourite holidays) happens in November.
No. 3 is that the really cold weather begins, and I get to start wearing pretty coats, boots, scarves, etc.
and last but not least, No. 4 is cranberry sauce:
This is the time of year when cranberries are in season, which means they are everywhere. Cranberry sauce is one of my favourite things to eat, and it's so easy to make...all it takes is a bag of fresh cranberries, a cup of sugar, a cup of water, and about five minutes of boiling.
Things I'm looking forward to making that involve possible use of cranberries:
scones
more sauce
muffins
duck
more sauce
turkey
and maybe some new recipes too

happy beginning of the winter/holiday season!!!
go eat some cranberries

much love,
me

Sunday, 31 October 2010

happy halloween y'all

two things i love: fruit and perrierother things that are awesome...pumpkins and cookies. especially cookies with our names on them. courtesy of my wonderful mother!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!


Sunday, 24 October 2010

post-flu culinary adventures


I just had the flu.
It was awful.
After spending an entire week in bed eating nothing but saltine crackers and the occasional bit of soup, I finally emerged from my room last monday to become a functional human being again.
Of course, when my appetite finally came back, I was craving my ultimate comfort food... spaghetti (the word which caused me to lose the 3rd grade spelling bee).
On my first night eating food again, I started with plain spaghetti, butter, and parmesan cheese. There are few things as satisfying for me as that.
Then, I decided to get a bit more creative. I bought a new food processor! And with it, I made homemade pesto. This led to a few nights of really enjoying spaghetti with pesto sauce. Once again, very satisfying and very simple.
However, my favourite food in the world happens to be raspberry tart, so I decided it was time for me to invest in a tart pan and bake some tart. I made a tart and invited all of my friends over to eat it (if someone else didn't eat it, I would eat the whole thing, and that would just not be ok). Everyone seemed to enjoy the tart, which was pretty gratifying!
As you can see, liz was pretty excited to try some tart:
Our next culinary adventure of the week was eggplant parmesan. Liz is italian, and she knows her italian food. She even has uncles in philadelphia who own an italian restaurant. In other words, she's legit. Tonight she taught me how to make eggplant parmesan. It was amazing! And, it was surprisingly easy. First we chopped up our eggplant into fairly thin slices. Then we dipped it in egg batter, then breadcrumbs, then egg batter again, then breadcrumbs again. We don't mess around with our breading.
After that, we fried the battered and breadcrumbed eggplant slices in a pan with some olive oil.
You want to fry them until they are lovely and crispy and golden!

After that, the key is to eliminate some of the grease from frying by draining the fried eggplants in a paper towel in a bowl!
Then, we spread a thin layer of spicy tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. The fried eggplants went in a layer over the tomato sauce. After that, we covered this layer of eggplant with shredded parmesan and mozzarella cheese. A layer of tomato sauce went over this. Then, we repeated the process. Another layer of fried eggplants went on top of the first, then another layer of tomato sauce. Before adding another layer of cheese, this concoction was covered in foil and put into the oven (which had been preheated to 350 degrees). We then baked it for around 30 minutes. We used a pretty small pan, so if you're using a larger pan, you may want to bake it for closer to 45 minutes. After taking the eggplant parmesan out of the oven, we added another layer of parmesan and mozzarella. The foil was added over the top again and it was baked again for 5 minutes (or until the cheese melts). The foil was then removed and it was baked sans foil until the cheese turned golden brown (once again, about 5 minutes). After removing the dish, we let it sit for about 20 minutes until we ate it.
Here's the thing. I have never been a fan of eggplant in any form or fashion. I LOVED this. It was so ridiculously good. I never thought I could appreciate eggplant this much.
Our eggplant parmesan was a work of art. Not only did it taste amazing, but it also looked rather wonderful.
That, ladies and gents, is how you make eggplant parmesan.

On a completely unrelated to food note, I went back to bikram yoga today for the first time in a few months. It was amazing. I had been having some shoulder problems from my extensive viola playing, and just the one bikram class made them go away. I truly believe that there is not much that is better for you than doing bikram yoga. I think I'll start going back regularly. Here's to a healthier lifestyle! (Mind you, eggplant parmesan is not adding to said healthier lifestyle)

Eggplant recipe was courtesy of miss Elizabeth Sutphen.
Raspberry tart recipe was from Gourmet magazine.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Hello blogging world!


I've been saying for a long time that I want to write a blog. Finally, after a lot of procrastination, I am writing my first blog post. I've decided that the best night to start my blog was a night when I cooked steak. Steak is my favourite food, and it is
something that I cook multiple times per week. I plan for this blog to mostly be about cooking and eating food. Subjects I will also occasionally touch on are viola (!), books, and friends. I live in new york city, in a very tiny apartment, with my lovely roomates (and guest chefs) Simon and Liz (seen below)!
Tonight, Liz and I had a lovely dinner date together. We cooked a new york strip steak for each of us, and bruschetta! Seeing as we don't have a grill, our preferred method of cooking steak is pan-frying. This is rather messy, occasionally sets off our smoke alarm, and sometimes ends in burns on my arm. It's worth it for how delicious it tastes. Tonight we decided to pretty much use every spice in our cabinet to season our steaks. This resulted in steaks seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic salt, italian seasoning, paprika, and cumin. It sounds like a bit much, but it turned out to be rather delicious. We ended up with perfectly cooked
(rare), juicy, deliciously seasoned steaks!

Since we had really wonderful tomatoes from the farmer's market at 66th st, we made bruschetta as our side dish. Since the tomatoes were so good on their own the bruschetta was amazing!

All in all, it was a delicious meal and a lovely night!

Steak:
sprinkle paprika, ground cumin, garlic salt, salt, pepper, and italian season on the steak
heat olive oil (or butter) in a pan
pan-fry steaks until they reach desired level of done. personally I like my steaks pretty rare, which was about 2 1/2 minutes on each side on medium-high heat.

Bruschetta:
chop tomatoes (we used one pretty big tomato)
mix tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl
let sit for a while
serve over sliced french baguette
if you aren't lactose intolerant/kosher and eating it with meat, you can melt mozzarella cheese on the bread or sprinkle fresh mozzarella on top of the bruschetta!