Tuesday, September 22, 2009
So I did mention a life altering pie when talking about last week's dinner party, did I not?
Have you ever seen on Saturday Night Live when Will Ferrell does James Lipton’s Inside the Actor’s Studio? In one sketch Kate Hudson is Drew Barrymore (which, incidentally made me like Kate Hudson a lot more, because she was very funny) and there's a point where they are talking about the movie E.T. Will Ferrell/Lipton says in classic, overdramatic Liptonian run-on sentences: “If you have not seen this film go right now to a store where videos are sold and rented and rent it or buy it and WATCH IT.”
Well, if you have never had Corn and Tomato Pie go right now to a place where tomatoes and corn are sold or rented and buy some or rent some and tuck them into a biscuit crust and pile them with shredded cheddar cheese and bake them, and EAT THEM. I am not going to dial down the drama here.
This pie could best be described as "stupid", "incredible" and my personal favorite, "straight ridiculous." The recipe I used was in last month's Gourmet. And the directions can be found online here.
Even though I think it is tedious and annoying to peel and seed tomatoes, you're going to want to take those extra steps in this case. I read another food bloggers account of making this pie and the only complaint voiced was that it was very soupy. And my friend Stevie made this pie as well and she said that it was, in fact, soupy.
So I heeded the suggestion to seed the tomatoes, even though to me that always feels like a total mess and a whole lot of work and makes the tomatoes look all ugly and stuff but in this case, it's merited.
My pie was not soupy. It was creamy and crusty and savory and delicious. I am counting the minutes until it's acceptable for me to make this again. You should make it. Quick before all the corn and tomatoes are gone!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
So this past weekend found two of my favorites visiting and they brought with them two very awesome reasons to celebrate. Val, brave soul that she is, offered to be the first of our clan to enter the age of 31. Go Val! Happy Birthday! And Shawn, Nina’s main squeeze, gave us an equally squeal-worthy reason to clink glasses when last weekend he up and decided to make an honest woman of our Neens. Lucky boy.
We had a celebratory dinner on Friday night (don’t worry I’ll cover the menu and the RIDICULOUS pie eventually) but when my ride turned into a pumpkin around midnight I found myself eager to lengthen the visit. So I offered to host breakfast in the morning.
I think breakfast is just about the best meal you can make for people. There’s something really fun about taking the time to prepare a proper meal in the morning when we all too often just jam a bagel down our throats. Having company before noon is pretty nice. For one, it’s an excuse for me to make my bed for once in my life and it’s kind of nice to see the table set first thing in the morning.
I really never gave breakfast enough credit until my 20s. In fact, I used to be one of those ninnies that thought “oh, but if I eat breakfast I get so hungry and then I end up eating more throughout the day.” Um, not if you eat a proper breakfast, dummy. Plus, when you deny yourself breakfast, you deny eggs all of the incredible possibilities that they have to offer. Behold the frittata. My mom, sister and I love us a frittata. If we had our own reality show you could play a drinking game in accordance with how often one, if not all three, of us brought up frittatas, made frittatas or just voiced our general approval of frittatas. When telling both of them about my Saturday breakfast menu they both sort of clucked approval and nodded (well I could hear my sister nodding from California) “Frittata. Way to go” and “Yup. Can’t go wrong with a frittata.” It’s kind of obnoxious. In fact, as a write this I’m beginning to loathe the word “frittata” (drink).
But in all seriousness. You really can’t beat this. I never made a f------a for this many people. All I did was up it to twelve eggs instead of six. It took a bit longer to cook but it puffed up beautifully and cut effortlessly, like a giant egg pie, if you will. Trust me on this: frittatas are your friend. We also had homefries, bacon, English muffins and a pitcher of mimosas. But truly the frittata was the star of the show.
HEIRLOOM TOMATO and FRESH HERB FRITTATA
Serves 8 (you can easily scale this back to six eggs, and it serves 4)
1 small white onion, diced
1 large heirloom tomato, thinly sliced
1 small clove garlic, minced
Handful of chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley, garlic chives and basil)
Cheese of your pleasing (I used feta, shredded cheddar and a sprinkle of parmesan)
Heat oven to 350. Spray an oven safe skillet with olive oil, drizzle some additional oil in the pan (about 1-2 tbsp.) warm over medium-high heat. Saute onion until translucent, just a few minutes, add minced garlic, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Crack eggs into large bowl and whip aggressively with a wire whisk. The fluffier you get your raw eggs before you transfer them into the pan, the lighter and fluffier your cooked eggs will be. Pour eggs into sauce pan. Lower heat. Add sliced tomatoes and some more salt and pepper. Add cheeses. Sprinkle the top with the herbs. Remove from burner and place into oven. Bake about 35 minutes (maybe longer). I originally set my timer for 15 and it wasn’t even close. I added another 15 and then periodically checked on my pan. If you grab the handle and give it a wiggle, it should not jiggle in the middle. I kept checking on mine and the minute the center appeared firm, I took it out and cut it into wedges. The result was moist, not dry, but also cooked through, so none of my dear guests ran the risk of salmonella. And I couldn't do that to them. They're too good looking after all.
SPICY, SAVORY HOMEFRIES
3 large Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 small white onion, diced
seasoned salt, chili powder and Old Bay Seasoning
Cover potatoes with cold water and set to boil on the stovetop. Test a larger chunk at about 10-15 minutes. Once the potatoes are fork tender, remove from heat and drain. Heat a good drizzle of vegetable oil in a nonstick pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for a few minutes, until translucent. Add potatoes to the pan. I did drizzle in a bit more oil at this point, as the taters tend to soak it up.
Homefries are probably the first thing I ever cooked myself when I was little. The key to delicious, red tinged, smoky homefries is paprika. Lot’s of it. When I realized I was out, I improvised. I read the ingredients on my Old Bay seasoning and paprika was one of them. Sold. I used generous sprinkles of that, along with a smaller pinch of chili powder and about a ½-1 teaspoon of Lawry’s seasoned salt. I have never in my life purchased seasoned salt before. Frankly it scared me a little bit, but it was an ingredient in my mac and cheese last weekend. Funny enough, it came in handy once again as a really nice way to salt up these homefries.
While I was cooking this particular breakfast, I turned the heat on these down to medium-low and just gave them a turn every once in a while. They are low maintenance and it’s kind of nice to just let them cook and let the flavors merge together while you prepare the rest of breakfast. Plus I really like when there are little burned bits of potato and onion in my homefries, but that’s personal preference.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
While we’re speaking of my flaws as a blogga, let me just tell you what I did this past weekend? Saturday was my mans’ 31st birthday and I thought it would be fun to throw him a little birthday dinner. So I lovingly sent out an email invitation to parents and buddies alike. I plotted, schemed and recipe planned. I decided on a delicious, inexpensive and somewhat low maintenance meal so that I could maximize face time with guests. I wanted to wow on a budget. I washed the floors, set the table and bequeathed upon my Squeeze, a fresh birthday tee shirt.
I brought my mom’s china up from the basement and washed it, stacked it artfully on the table and set up a buffet.
I walked down to Michelle’s and snipped fresh herbs from her window boxes, I used my mortar and pestle for the first time in my everloving life. I marinated pork tenderloins and made croutons and Caesar dressing from scratch. I prepped, prepared, cleaned and chopped. I garnished the freaking hummus for god’s sake. And I smugly thought to myself, I could so totally write for Real Simple. I mean what is that magazine except common sense tips coupled with good art direction, really? I could do that, I thought.
And then, I took absolutely ZERO photographs. Of the food, of the people, of the cake, of anything. I completely failed to document the process all together. I got one shot of the macaroni and cheese as I made the sauce. That’s it. I can go out and take 75 pointless photographs over the course of a weekend, but I actually do something I live to do, like throw a dinner party, with all intentions of blogging about it and then completely space. Apparently five two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc were more captivating than my little Canon. So sorry about that.
The food came out great. You’ll have to take me at my word on this one, because well, that’s alls I’ve got. My mom brought crab cakes and clams casino, which were fantastic. I found two incredible recipes on Pioneer Woman’s website. One for a decadently garlicky Caesar salad and the other for the Most Ridiculous Mac and Cheese You’ve Ever Had. The only cooking photo I took that night:
You can find both these recipes, here and here. I made a big corn bread in my cast iron skillet, which I have been snacking on ever since and I made herb rubbed pork tenderloin with shallot jam along side. It was delicious, and fortunately was great for sandwiches, because even after packing up generous to-go containers for Paul’s buddies, I was still swimming in leftovers, including a carrot cake from White’s Bakery which could have been the death of me, if I had not brought the remaining half to my aunt’s house for Labor Day. All in all it was a great success but next time, I’ll remember to pay more attention to my camera and less attention to my wine. It’s better for everybody.
HERB RUBBED PORK TENDERLOIN with SHALLOT JAM
(shallot jam was found on thekitchn.com, pork tenderloin, I made up on my own. I also tripled this recipe (okay, quadrupled) to serve my crowd)
For the jam:
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup chicken broth
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 heaping tablespoons apricot preserves
salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat; add shallots, season with salt and pepper and brown well, stirring often for about five minutes. Turn heat up to high and pour in chicken broth, simmer on high while broth reduces, using wooden spoon to scrape browned bits of shallot off the bottom of the skillet (again, about five minutes). Turn the heat down to med-low and pour in balsamic. Simmer for another five minutes and stir in apricot jam or preserves. My apricot preserves were low sugar, so I added a few generous pinches of cane sugar. The mixture will thicken a bit but remain very stirrable. I made this the day ahead and refrigerated it until I was ready to cook my pork. Then I heated it up and served it on the side. It was tasty. A little too tangy, so next time I might dial down the vinegar and up the pinch of sugar to a teaspoon. Or let the vinegar cook off more. This jam keeps well in the fridge. I have been putting it on leftover pork sandwiches all week.
For the pork:
1 pork tenderloin
Chopped fresh sage
Chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper
I snipped my fresh sage and rosemary into a wooden mortar and pestle. I added a generous amount of sea salt and crushed black pepper and a light drizzle of oil. I then crushed it into a sort of chunky herby paste.
Remove pork tenderloin from packaging and pat dry. Generously salt and pepper both sides and then rub with the herb mixture. Place in a freezer bag and drizzle with enough oil to coat. Let marinate for anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours.
Preheat oven to 350. Heat oven safe skillet over med-high heat and coat pan with olive oil. Sear the tenderloin on all sides until brown. Place skillet directly in oven. Cook until thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 160 degrees. Remove from oven, let rest a few minutes. Slice and serve.