A Little About Me

New York, New York
As a newly married woman, it has become my mission in life to learn how to cook. Gone are the days of picking up sushi and ordering curries. In order to jump-start my education, I enrolled in the Institute of Culinary Education's Fine Cooking I course where I learned the basics, from roasting to boiling to mousse-making (ok, maybe not that basic)! I've attempted to replicate some recipes - somewhat successfully- and create a few of my own. This blog is for friends and foodies and is intended to document my cooking adventures (and occasional fiascoes). Enjoy the pictures and bon appetite!

Friday, February 26, 2010

"He Just Smiled and Gave Me a Vegemite Sandwich"

Just this week, I returned from a fantastic two week honeymoon in Australia (you may have noticed a recent lack of postings). The land down under was amazing and I had the opportunity to taste some new things and have some of the most incredible seafood! I know this blog is supposed to be all about the meals I make but, since I appreciate all food (whether I make it or someone else does), I can't help but share some photos of my favorite Australian grub!

Passion fruit is a flavor I am very familiar with, but in more of an artificial way. The fruit, grown mainly in Southern Australia, with its slimy interior, tangy flavor and crunchy seeds was a favorite of mine!

The seafood in Australia was among the best I have ever had. Because the cities we visited were right on the water, everything was really fresh. Australia, a former British territory, still displays a strong British influence; hence the omnipresent "fish and chips." This particular version, from Doyle's at Watson Bay, used Barramundi, aka the Australian seabass, and tasted just as good as it looks!

Fried Calamari. No. Words. Can. Describe. This. Dish.

BBQ Prawns - these were amazing and tasted like they had just been caught.
They took me forever to open (lack of skill) but kept me full as I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge

These are from a wine store where you're able to mechanically pour your own tastes or glasses of Australian wine.
The Australian Wine Industry is the fourth largest exporter in the world and I have to say that several wines from the city of Adelaide were among the best I've ever had; particularly those from Iron Gate Estate in the Hunter Valley Region.

No trip to Australia would be complete without a taste of vegemite.
I was curious to try this condiment, made known to me through the Men at Work song "Down Under."
Made from concentrated yeast extract, it was salty and pungently strong -- a taste one needs to develop.
My husband and I were not fans, but Australians swear it's delicious on white toast with butter!

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Delicious Dinner Party

Last night, Lauren and I put together a really nice dinner for the men in our lives. On the menu: mixed greens with breaded goat cheese rounds and caramelized pecans and homemade butternut squash ravioli. It was a long day of cooking, but our guests were pleased :) Below, the results of slaving over the stove all day:

Ingredients for Goat Cheese Rounds
goat cheese log
beaten egg
bread crumbs
all purpose flour
olive oil

Start by separating log into sections - thickness may vary.
Next, dip the cheese round in flour, followed by egg and then coat with the bread crumbs.
(I would add some salt, pepper and a dried herb like parsley to the breadcrumbs for extra flavor.)

Next, heat a pan and pour in the olive oil once it is very hot.
Place the coated goat cheese round in the hot oil, frying for about a minute, or until the side is a light golden brown. Flip and repeat on the other side.

Ingredients for Caramelized Pecans
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup pecas

Start by melting the butter in a frying pan over low heat.
Add the brown sugar and pecans. Stir until evenly distributed. Spread out on wax paper to cool.

Ingredients for Butternut Squash Ravioli
Package of wonton wrappers
1 beaten egg
2 lbs pre cut and cubed butternut squash
2 tbsp marscapone cheese
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 dash cayenne pepper
handful of sage leaves
olive oil
salt and pepper

Toss the butternut squash with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Roast the butternut squash by placing in the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove and let cool.

To make the ravioli filling, combine the butternut squash, marscapone cheese, parmesan, salt, pepper
and cayenne - for a little kick - in a food processor.

Scoop a spoonful of the filling onto one wrapper.
Coat all four edges with the beaten egg and place another ravioli over it.

Using a fork, press down all edges to seal in the filling.

Lastly, drop the ravioli in boiling water and leave until it rises .... about 1 minute or so.
To finish, heat up some olive oil and butter in a pan, drop in the chopped sage to fry,
and add the ravioli. Cook on both sides until lightly browned.
Remove and serve with contents of pan. Lastly sprinkle with parmesan.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What My Husband Calls " The Best French Toast, Ever"

Even though it took us a while to get out of bed this morning, I still found the energy to whip up some homemade challah french toast for my husband. Using mini whole wheat challah rolls that I store in the refrigerator, I was able to make my husband what he calls "the best french toast, EVER!" (He actually did say that)

challah roll, cut into slices
3 eggs
half and half
Aunt Jemima syrup
vanilla extract

Start by cracking three eggs into a baking dish.
Add a large splash of half and half (milk is fine too) and syrup, a small splash of vanilla extract,
and a pinch of salt and cinnamon. Whisk the ingredients together.

Next, cut your challah roll into slices and place them in the batter so they can soak it up.
Make sure to flip the pieces so both sides can absorb the mixture.

Melt about a tbsp of butter into a hot pan, then add the challah.
Cook each side on low for a couple minutes, frequently checking to make sure your breakfast isn't burnt.

Serve with some fruit (you'll need something healthy to counteract all that butter!)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Arborio Rice and Escarole Soup....A Family Affair

In between eating lunch and dinner out for Restaurant week, I found a couple of hours this afternoon to replicate a soup I had made in last week's class. Seeing as how my mom suggested I put the recipe (not just the picture) online, and my sister actually helped me make it, this soup truly is a family affair!

1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 tbsp butter
1 cup escarole
1/4 cup arborio rice
3 cups chicken stock
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper

Start by making a mirepoix (the French for a combination of celery, onion, and carrots).

Next, add the butter and stir, allowing the fat to coat the vegetables. Cover and let the vegetables sweat for around 8 minutes.

Next, add the chicken stock and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice, cover the pot, and allow the mixture to cook until the rice is al dente.

Below is my handy sister-assistant, mixing the mirepoix!

Just before serving, stir in the escarole and lemon juice. Season more if needed.


Lemon Juice

Serve and enjoy!