Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Melissa D'Arabian Responds.

On my last post, about my take on the potato gratins of Melissa D'Arabian, the last Next Food Network Star, I wrote, "And why does she pronounce her name "DEE-Arabian" instead of dArabian?" Well, within a few hours, I received this email: Hi Rosie, I loved the pictures of the potato gratins you made...beautiful! thanks for posting them. :) To answer your very reasonable question....living in France, we did pronounce it dArabian....but once we moved to the US, I found myself "re"pronouncing it DEE-Arabian so darned often when people gave a blank look that I just finally lefted out the pitstop. Life's short....i don't want to spend twenty extra seconds pronouncing my name twice. :) Especially given I have the whole apostrophe thing to deal with after we've established the pronunciation. so there you have it! Funnily enough, our answering machine still has the "old" pronunciation, even though we've been in the US for like 5 years. :) warm regards, Melissa And Melissa was kind enough to write back, allowing me to post her response.
Rosie,
Please feel free to share my note to you with your readers...thanks for checking!! :)
Melissa I also asked Melissa another question which has been bothering me:
Hello again, Melissa. I have another question for you. I really liked the idea that your original promo was based on - the Kitchen Survival Guide. Then, the next week for your first show it was all about $10 meals. What happened, if you don't mind my asking? I was very sorry that you were "limited" to $10. You lived in Paris and cooked French food. I would have loved to have seen a show with French cooking in it, embellished by your experiences in France. I felt that the powers that be at Food Network took what could have been a great series and just more or less put you in a neat little box. Sadly, I was disappointed with what FN did. Thanks for your time. Rosie
And Melissa responded again: I actually see the ten dollar dinner concept as being an addition to the survival concept! It incorporates the very real challenge that many people face....how to make interesting food on a budget. I know not everyone is on a budget, but my hope is have food that is delicious enough that even non-penny pinchers want to make it. (In fact, don't know if you watched NFNS, but I made my potato bacon torte as part of my thousand dollar dinner party...and it costs literally pennies a serving....if it can impress THAT crowd of amazing chefs, well, it's likely to impress most regular folks no matter how inexpensive.) in short, I love the challenge. Is that all I can cook? of course not. But it gets to my roots, and I love it. :) Melissa Rosie to Melissa: May I quote you on my blog? Melissa to Rosie: Thanks for asking...yes you can. would you drop me the link to the post when you're done? have a great day, Melissa Well, shoot. This makes Melissa and me new BFF's! I thank you, Melissa, for taking the time to read and respond. You are a very gracious lady and I look forward to seeing your second season. Congratulations on your success. Now, If I find out this is actually Hairball, from HairballsOnTheCarpetOfLife, pretending to be Melissa, Immona be soooo pissed.

Rosie Makes Potato Cups.

I hate to admit it, but I got this idea from Melissa d'Arabian on The Next Food Network Star. And why does she pronounce her name "DEE-Arabian" instead of dArabian? My body wanted a carb fix and as you know I'm very in tune with my body. What my body wants, it gets.
I sliced potatoes very thinly with my Cuisinart Mandoline. I'm able to slice potatoes with this gadget but not much else. If you look at reviews of this product, they are not favorable. I could buy a no-brainer unassembled bookcase at IKEA and it would have more instructions than this gizmo. One of these days, I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and figure this thing out.
I took my little potato slices and layered them with mozzarella and Swiss cheese and sage and thyme.
Add some salt and pepper. Top with cheese. Pour in heavy cream to fill the muffin cups. Just pretend the cream is in the cups.
I baked in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes, until the cheese was nicely browned and everything bubbly.
These are pretty little muffin cups full of yumminess and flavor.
I scooped them out with a spoon ...
... and they stayed together. This is what I call a Happy Meal. It's rich with cream. It's comfy with potato. It's tasty with herbs. It's smooth with cheeses. And I believe endorphins were released. Potato cups and whole wheat pasta with pesto. Carb overload. I know. But my body was screaming for this. Like I said, my body is a temple, and when it talks to me I listen. And eat accordingly.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mr. Hawthorne Makes Pesto All By Himself.

Mr. Hawthorne is making pesto today. All by his lonesome.
As you know, Mr. Hawthorne doesn't do a mise en place. And he gets annoyed when I interrupt him to shoot pictures,
so I'll just narrate as best I can.
He actually went out in my garden and picked the basil himself. I didn't think he even knew where the basil was.
Three garlic cloves.
First he processed the garlic.
Then he added in a handful of pecans.
Stuffed some basil leaves in.
Stuffed some more basil leaves in. Maybe two cups, packed.
While the processor is running, he added in the olive oil. Bertolli Extra Light. Add in just enough to get a nice paste.
Finally he added in the parmesan cheese and processed some more.
Season with freshly ground salt and pepper.
And we have a winner. The amounts of all these ingredients aren't etched in stone. If you want it more garlicky, then add more garlic. If you want it more cheesy, then put in extra parmesan. If you want it nuttier, then by all means add more nuts. Actually, the traditional recipes for pesto call for pine nuts. I'm not all that fond of pine nuts, but I love pecans, so pecans go into my pesto. You could use walnuts if you prefer. And for a nuttier, more intense flavor, you could toast the nuts before adding them.
Pesto with whole wheat pasta. Kathy, I thought you'd like the whole wheat touch.
Pesto on apple slices for a different flavor combination.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Rosie Makes Pita Bread.

The other day I made a delicious bean salad,
which in turn led me to make tahini and hummus,
 which in turn led me to think about making my own pita bread.
I know, it's scary how my mind works.
My ingredients:
3 cups Prairie Gold whole wheat flour
 (+ a bit more - maybe 1/4 cup- for kneading)
 ( I found the flour on one of my trips to Yoders Market in Yanceyville, NC.)
 2 tsp salt
1 pkg yeast
2 TB olive oil
1 1/2 cups water
I mixed all the ingredients together.
I turned the dough out onto a lightly floured board
and started kneading,
 using just sprinklings of the reserved flour as needed.
Here's my dough after about 10 minutes of kneading.
I covered the dough and let it rest for about 20 minutes.
 And lookie ... it's spread out.
 Then I kneaded for about 10 more minutes
adding a sprinkling of flour as needed.
This is a sticky dough.
I turned the dough into my oiled bowl,
covered in plastic wrap, and put it into the refrigerator.
For the first four hours,
 I checked the dough every hour and pressed it down.
 Then I just left it alone for 2 days in the fridge.
Supposedly the long rise develops the flavor.
Two days later, I'm ready to make pita bread
. I go to get my dough out and find that Mr. Hawthorne
 has placed heavy tupperware containers on top of my dough.
Thank you, Mr. Hawthorne.
I let it come to room temperature
and did my trick of nuking a wet towel,
 then wrapping it around the bread,
and letting the heat and the steam do its magic in the microwave.
As I said, the dough is very sticky.
I divided the dough into 12 little balls ...
... then rolled each one out into a disk,
about 1/4 inch thick, covered with plastic,
and let rest for about 20 minutes.
And here are my little disks.
video video
I ended up rolling the disks back into balls, and flattening with my hand and letting them rest again.
I preheated my oven, with a pizza stone in it, to 500 degrees. About 2 minutes before baking an individual pita,
 I spritzed it with water, as the dough will not puff if there's not enough moisture.
 You could knead the extra water in,
but spritzing is a lot easier.
Then I cracked salt over top and
 placed the dough on the 500 degree pizza stone (or cast iron skillet)
and baked for 4 minutes.

Ugh. My first attempt.
This is what the un-spritzed pita looked like.
 I'm not feeling the love here.
Second attempt.
 Pita takes some work.
 And a little practice.
Not quite there yet.
Now, I'm getting somewhere.

I'm starting to feel the love.
WHOOT, indeedy!
I'll do better next time.

Not too shabby for my first attempt.
 Next time, I'll press them out a bit thicker,
maybe even add some all-purpose flour,
 and I think I'll have perfect pita.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mr. Hawthorne Makes Moreover Soup.

In case you don't know what "moreovers" are I'll redirect you to the original post, here. And this is what I wrote: Nothing goes to waste in the Hawthorne Household. And I don't refer to the remnants as leftovers. Immediately after writing the word "leftovers," I knew I needed another word that was more real, more definitive, and positive. First I thought of the word re-do's. But that implies it wasn't done right the first time around when it certainly was. Then I considered do-overs. But, of course, that, too, has a negative connotation. I've put a lot of thought into this, trying to come up with just the right word which describes the process of what I do in the life chain of the produce and viande I prepare and serve and consume. And my word is moreovers. Think about it: You've already produced and served a wonderful, satisfying, convivial repast. So, what's next? MORE is next. When you say "Moreover," you're likely going to top what you previously said, put an exclamation point there, and/or put it in bold or italics. So, I have no leftovers. I have MOREOVERS!
Moving on to today's moreovers, I had a bit of the short ribs from the other day and also the pork tenderloin and Mr. Hawthorne is making Moreover Soup.
A large can of Dei Fratelli crushed tomatoes went into the pot, along with some potato chunks. Mr. Hawthorne tasted and pronounced these tomatoes way superior to store brand tomatoes.
Pickings were slim on the boneless beef ribs.
Plenty of pork, though.
Mr. Hawthorne chunked the pork and added that to the pot ...
... along with some frozen green peas. I believe Mr. Hawthorne put in a beef bouillon cube, freshly ground salt and pepper, oregano, and a few drops of Texas Pete. You could add whatever veggies you like - onions, celery, carrots, turnips, lima beans. They'd all be good. Heat through.
And you have a wonderfully flavorful, hearty, Moreover Soup.
Ooooh. What's that holding the soup in? (Not the paper towel.) Why, I believe it is homemade pita bread ...