Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A little information for myself.

It's been a while. I've been extremely busy with the Holidays.Too busy. Busier than I thought I had to be. Baking cookies can really be a task. Especially when you can't make up your mind on which ones to bake and insist on test baking. I had intentions on writing a holiday cookie marathon post, but during cleanup at around 1:40 A.M., I tripped over the oven rack, that tripped over the laptop cord, which pulled my laptop straight to the wooden floor. Needless to say,due to the fact that the same laptop was dropped once before from the top of a moving car, it no longer turns on. I have my entire life on that thing, and it's not backed. My excuse for not bringing it to the shop has been the fact that the Apple store is way too busy during the holidays(yes, true.)But really I'm just scared that they will tell me I've lost everything(again.) So I have had no internet time, and no blog time either. I'm starting to miss it, obviously. However, everything is saved on my laptop and I have no idea where to start on any other.
Due to no internet, I've read every cooking magazine this month from front cover to back cover, more than twice. Davis cooked Christmas dinner from Bon Appetit, and now he is obsessed with cooking. Let's hope this lasts. Because of my cookie marathon, I had no time to cook anything for Christmas dinner with my family. I did however, bake a Coconut cake for Davis' family which was a success even if I messed up on the recipe due to the stress on an unprepared kitchen. Now I have to go figure out dinner. To dine in or dine out,my life's biggest question.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Southern desserts. So decadent.

I've been living in the South for a long time, and yet it's still hard for me to truly describe Southern food. I know a little. It's flavors, it's simplicity, it's soul. But I've never cooked it. Never really read about it. And I don't eat it as much as I would like to. I do know that Southerners, love their food. If they could get fried chicken and green bean casserole everyday, they would. I do think what they love the most is dessert, especially the way Nana made it. 
Let's talk about pie for a little bit. I think pie is easily the favorite among most people around here. I'm talking about any flavor of pie. Apple, pecan, peach, banana cream, lemon cream, coconut, (they love coconut) sweet potato and the list goes on. What kind of pie you get usually has to do with occasion and season, as the south is very abundant with the growth and availability of beautiful fruits and vegetables all year long. There are also cobblers, pound-cakes, coca-cola cakes and gooey toffee cake. 
Gooey Toffee cake is not something I had at a friends house, but something I've had too many times at one of the city's best restaurant, Rathbun's. Kevin Rathbun is one of the city's biggest celebrity chef and plays a huge part in providing the city with delicious food and beautiful restaurants. Being from the South has a influence on his cooking, since he was born in Texas and now lives in Georgia. But chef Rathbun gets his inspiration from all over the world. However his pastry chef, Kirk Parks,seems to really love the South and Southern desserts. Always working with banana, peanut butter, Jack Daniel's, toffee, pecan and all things South! My favorite dessert in the city of Atlanta is by far the Gooey Toffee Cake with Jack Daniel's and Pecan Ice Cream. I've had it too many times to count on two hands and fall in love everytime. It's wonderful any time of the year, but always shines on cold nights. The warm gooey center of the cake, with the decadent toffee sauce always seems to warm me up. One of the single desserts where the ice cream could be optional for me since the cake is the star.

I was getting ready to e-mail Bon Appetit and ask them for the recipe. I did a Google search to see if I could find any write-ups on it, and found the recipe on the restaurant website and on a book called Atlanta's Classic Desserts which I can't wait to get my hands on. Most of the book is available through Google books, so that will so for now. I also can't wait to try other recipes  from the Rathbun's website such as: Banana Fritters, Pecan and Pumpkin Cobbler, Banana Cream Pie, and Cast Iron Roasted Georgia Peaches.  They all sound so delicious and simply Southern.

Of course I'm going to try savory dishes as well, such as Kevin's Lamb Meatballs, his spicy Thai Rare Beef,  the Shrimp and Okra and the addictive Jalapeno Cream Corn. I'm sure Davis is going to be having a few good days ahead of him. 

Sunday Supper was fantastic and so fun. I will talk about it later, when I get some photos from Victor's camera. There were so many photo's taken that night, I would have no idea where to start. Having a precious little baby around is so liberating. I haven't experienced that in while. Can't wait for next time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Oh boy.

I've been working on the aesthetics of this blog. It's no where near where I'd like it to be, but at least I've done something towards it. I'm hoping it will come together in the near future. I really do wonder why I care, but oh well. I think I'm simply envious of the gorgeous blogs I read daily. There really are some beautiful people out there doing beautiful things. It's good feeling knowing that.
     Ever since I found out about the discontinuation of the one and only Gourmet magazine a little piece of me has been gone. I have spent hours of my life reading the beautifully written articles. I would seat and admire the photos always screaming out "Oh my" or "baby look!" It really does break my heart that I have no more Gourmet to look forward to. But I have been looking for a replacement. Of course I read all the most known publications out there, but I wanted something new. Yesterday, when I stopped at B&N to pick up some magazines, I grabbed a copy of Fine Cooking. I flipped through the pages real quick and left. Later that night, I went through the magazine and was very happy with the diversity of it. There are so many wonderful recipes, like pork tamales with double chile sauce. A great article on the difference between baking powder and baking soda. And my favorite, a section on new cookbooks and what they are all about.
Speaking of new cookbooks, I'm waiting on Ruth Roger's Grey Italian Cookbook and also The Zuni Cookbook. UPS seems very busy right now and the delivery time has gone from around 2 p.m to around 7p.m. No bueno. I'm inpatient when it comes to these things. I'm also very busy and have to head to work. Now. And find an Ashley Farms whole chicken. By Saturday! I might have to give Star Provisions a call.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's delightful, it's delicious, it's delectable.

My poor little hands are so dry. I have a thing for hand washing dishes. I always told myself I will not have a dishwasher at my home. I know one day this choice will kick me in the ass. I much rather spend the extra thousand or so on a better over or stove. I really do enjoy washing dishes by hand! And always with intensely hot water. However, my hands remind me of old tree barks.

I suppose I've been busy. Let's see here. The beginning of last week I did nothing. Yes, absolutely nothing but eat ethnic food and read cookbooks. Then there was Thanksgiving. Which was wonderful. There's also the day I gave blood and almost passed out over ten times. But who's counting? Took me hours to feel better. I think the exuberant amount of wonderful food I ate for dinner at my place of work that night finally got me back on my feet. Literally.

A little recap on my most recent adventures. For Thanksgivng, I baked two tarts. A cranberry tart from Dolce Italiano, which was a huge success with the Americans. Brazilians don't so much like tarts, especially tart tarts. The recipe called for Gina's polenta pastry crust. I did have all the necessary ingredients, but I had her classic sweet pastry dough in the fridge ready to be used. So I used that instead. The recipe also called for 3 cups of cranberries. That is a lot of cranberries and I believe next time I will use less. The cranberries where simply cooked down with light corn syrup and sugar. After the cranberry mixture was cooled, the recipe called for a mixture of cream, flour and egg yolk to be added to the cooled cranberries. I took the liberty to add a few extra items to this mixture before incorporating it with the cranberries. That being: ground ginger, orange zest, vanilla extract, brandy, and a little marscapone.I strained the liquid mixture throught a fine mesh sieve, added it to the cranberries, and pour it into the tart shell. It came out wonderful! I will however, try the polenta dough next time just to see how I like it.

I wanted to bake the best pecan pie ever! I baked a variation of Alfred Portale's Walnut Tart found on his 12 Seasons cookbook. I made many changes to the recipe, but both of us had the same vision. A nutty delicious tart. In the tart dough I used pecans instead of macadamia nuts. I also used pecans in the filling instead of walnuts. This tart was absolutely wonderful. Delicious with ice-cream. However, I do think most Americans, (yes I'm stereotyping) would prefer a variation that is closer to their gooey, overly sweet, "all- American" pecan pie. I intend to try this again very soon. Keeping it clean and conscious of course. I also made Alfred Portale's Pumpkin Creme Brulee from the same book. So yummy! Next time I will try it with all cream instead of the half cream half milk ratio. I like a creamier creme brulee.

My savory bites where kept simple, but oh so tasty. I made brussels sprouts with prosciutto and shallots. My ultimate favorite that I make all winter long. And a butternut squash + potato gratin. The gratin came from Alfred's cookbook as well. It is such a great book. I can't wait to try out more, more, more!

There was no turkey this year! Yep, no turkey. We had a turkey breast but there are no photos of it. We always have turkey on Christmas Eve, and mother didn't feel like making it twice this year. And it was such a small get together, unlike most years, there was no one to impress. We did have Boston Pork Butt! My favorite. So succulent. So flavorful. Always perfect. I will be attempting it myself on Christmas day for Davis' family.

On Sunday I'm having my beautiful friend Jessica, her lovely husband and precious son over for an early dinner, late afternoon Sunday Supper. I wish I had a copy of Ad Hoc by now, but it's backordered on Amazon until December 17th. And I only get books on Amazon. It's completely okay that I don't. I feel like it would help me with my intentions on serving a completely family style supper. But oh well. I'm thinking roast chicken. Big, proud, elegant, delicious and comforting. Everyone loves chicken.Of course, there will be roasted veggies with it. Haven't decided quite yet which ones I will pick. Something seasonal I'm sure. I've done roast chicken before. But it has been a while and last time I did it completely by instinct. This time I have no doubt it will be wonderful since I tend to learn from the best. Julia child and one my newest obsessions: The River Cottage MEAT book! Hugh is a huge fan of roast chicken and has pages explaining all the goodies you should know about the bird. I'm also very excited about serving the River Cafe's "Chocolate Nemesis" cake. I'll be baking them individually and I have some pretty ramekins coming in the mail soon. I also have eighteen squares of  Valrhoma 70% bittersweet chocolate coming in the mail. From somewhere. I hope it makes it okay, and on time. It's very late and now I hear the rain outside yelling sleep. I'm not sure why but it always takes me hours to accomplish these posts. I need to get a hang of this.