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!!!!!!!