Sunday, November 4, 2007

Iron Chef

So I have been watching the Next Iron Chef every Sunday for the past 5 weeks, and so far I've found it too be pretty interesting. The challenges have been difficult and yet amusing and fun at the same time., and it definitely brings out the best and worst in people when they're competing. Now we're down to three chefs, John Besh, Micheal Symon, and Chris Cosentteno. I believe the next challenge is supposed to take place in Paris. I do feel as if I should predict who will win. When it really comes to it, I believe it will be a battle between Besh and Symon. Consentteno doesn't seem to have the right attitude for it, plus the judges have remarked multiple times that while he can put on one or two outstanding dishes, he's not consistent. There is always a dish or two that isn't so great. Personally, I really want Besh to win. He's a good chef who knows how to have fun but can be serious about his work when he needs to, plus he's from the South, can't really beat that. But also I wouldn't be opposed to Symon winning. He's just as good and fun-loving. He's also won two challenges, which I'm sure bugs Besh, but he's done a good job. I suppose only time will tell, so watch the episode tonight at 9 on Food Network.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


This morning, I'm fixing a breakfast for some friends and we are having Monkey Bread. Personally, I LOVE Monkey Bread, but not just because it tastes so yummy in all its sugary goodness. I also love it because it reminds me of home and of Christmas past. My mom always used to fix it for breakfast Christmas morning, along with Eggs Benedict and grapefruit. It always fills the kitchen with a wonderful smell, and it's so incredibly easy to fix!

Monkey Bread

Grease and flour a large tube pan. In it evenly distribute 24-30 frozen rolls.

Combine the following ingredients in a small mixing bowl and then sprinkle over the frozen rolls:
1 pkg NON-instant butterscotch pudding mix (3.75 oz)
1 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 Cup chopped pecans

Melt 1/2 cup butter in microwave on low power and pour over rolls. Do not cover and allow to rise at room temperature for overnight (max 8hrs).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake bubble bread for 25-30 mins. Let stand for just a few minutes before turning out onto a large serving platter.

Hope you enjoy this delicious bread as much as I do!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Busy, busy, busy

There are times that I get so distracted with work and with school that I forget to relax. I get so worked up that I really just can't focus on anything else. This is obviously a problem, not just because I feel stressed out emotionally, but I end up feeling bad physically. And one thing that has made my week just a little bit better is my mother. I was reading her blog and noticed that she posted a recipe that always reminds me of when I was little: molasses cookies.
Now these cookies can turn out to be crunchier if you make a little on the small side, but personally I like my when they are still soft and warm from the oven, so make them just a little bit bigger than you would normally make them, maybe about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide.

Molasses Cookies

1.5 Cups butter
2 Cups sugar
Cream those two in an electric mixer with wire whisk.

.5 Cup molasses
2 eggs (one at the time)

Sift together the following six ingredients and then add to *wet* mixture:
4 Cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cloves
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon

Stir until well blended. Chill the dough before rolling it into small balls.

Bake at 375 degrees on ungreased cookie sheets for 10-12 mins, depending on the size of the ball :)

Makes 4 dozen

These also happen to be one of my dad's favorite cookies that we make. And they will taste even better as fall is on its way: the spices in the cookie just make you smile. Well, I hope that you enjoy these cookies as much as I do, and they can also help you to relax a little. Maybe just sit down with a book, a mug of tea, and then delectable cookies.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

End of Summer

So it's been a little while because school's been starting back resulting in a very busy time of the year. But I feel that I need to take note of the last good crop of the summer. A bit earlier this month my family received some tomatoes from a friend, and it was his last crop this summer. So while it was very kind of him, we ended up having a lot of leftover tomatoes that we had no clue what to do with. And so, after much debate, we decided to fix homemade tomato soup.
It was the most wonderful soup that I have ever had! I mean sure Campbell has it moments, but this was simply divine. Coming from Georgia, it may have seemed to hot to have soup, but this was not the case. We served it with a roast beef sandwich in pita bread with alfalfa sprouts and horseradish sauce. We also served cheese straws with it which only improved the soup. And because I loved this soup, I thought that I would share it with you. :)

Tomato Soup

8 cups fresh, August tomatoes, peeled and seeded

NOTE: I strained my peelings and garnished 1 cup fresh juice.

Save it!

1 large yellow onion, chopped finely
6 stalks celery, very finely chopped

Cook the above ingredients in a saucepan for 20 minutes until the veggies are soft. Strain them in order to separate the pulp from the stock, pressing gently to extract as much liquid as possible. As a result, I had approximately 5 cups of cooked tomato pulp ( including onions & celery) and 4 cups tomato stock.

Place the stock only in a small saucepan and simmer until reduced by half. Set aside. Puree the pulp in a food processor. Set aside.

In a large pot, melt 6 Tbs butter; and add 6 Tbs flour, stirring with a wire whisk until well-blended and smooth. Cook until this roux turns slightly brown. Dont walk away! This will burn easily.

Add 5 cups beef stock. (I cheated and made mine with bouillon cubes. This is why I dont have to salt the soup in the end.) Stir the roux quickly as you add the stock to create a smooth base. Add 2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp paprika. Cook over medium heat until the mixture starts to boil.

Reduce to low heat and add the tomato pulp. Stir well. Cook for 5 minutes without boiling. Thin with the tomato stock (I used the two cups mentioned at the beginning of the recipe.) I suppose one could thin with a little warm milk or cream, making the result *Cream of Tomato Soup*, but I'm getting off topic.

I hope that you enjoy as much as I did! Happy Summer!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Dark Tort

So my mother gave me a book to read because she knows how much I like to cook and she thought I would enjoy it. It's titled Dark Tort, written by Diane Mott Davidson. It's a mystery but the main character is a caterer named Goldy. So far I've found it very enjoyable, and what pleases me most about it is that it includes some yummy recipes in the back.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Living in Georgia, it is impossible not to have peachs during the summer. It's what we're known for and they are absolutely decadent during the summer. I'm sure it's a fruit that I could get anytime of the year if I really wanted to, but it's not something I want to have all year around. It's a food that makes summer what it is, a wonderful time to relax with friends and family and to enjoy some good food, whether it's tangy BBQ or a sweet peach.
Now a peach can be enjoyed multiple ways: fresh, a little ripe by itself. It works wonderfully for breakfast with some cottage cheese or on a salad at lunch. It can be used to make salsa for chips or for a topping on fish. But I love it in dessert! Sometimes I enjoy it with some vanilla ice cream and little bit of peach schnapps, but I love the recipe that my family had on Sunday. It's a peach crisp, very much like an apple crisp. Now I must warn, this dessert will be gone as fast as you can say peach, so make sure you make enough for everyone.

Peach Crisp
Peaches, 32 oz, frozen, sliced (if you can find good ripe peaches, that's an even better option)

Toss with 1 C of sugar, 4 Tbsp of flour
Place in an oblong pyrex dish (3 qrt)

Top with mixture
2 C oatmeal
1 C butter, melted
1 C brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1-1/2 C chopped pecans

Bake 45 minutes @ 350

*Top with some ice cream while still warm


Monday, August 6, 2007


I was going through some of my mother's recipes the other day (and I'm still working on it; she has a LOT of stuff) and I found a letter. It was from a friend of hers who she knew when she was still living in Rome, GA. Now, many of the names I didn't recognize, but attached was a recipe that my mother had requested for a seafood stew. Even though I haven't fixed it yet, it sounds delicious so I thought I would share it.

Seafood Stew
8 cups peeled shrimp ( you can also toss in crawfish, crabmeat, oysters, fish)
3 or 4 onions
2 cans of tomato paste
1 qt water
4 or more bunches of green onions
1 large bell pepper
6 Tbsp parsley
1 cup celery
10-12 cloves of garlic
1 or 2 red hot pickled peppers
1 lemon, including the rind (rind should be peeled, being careful not to peel off any of the pith)
Paprika, chili powder, sal and black pepper

First, saute the chopped onions (not green ones) and separate from grease. Then you make a roux- by browning flour in 1 1/2 sticks of butter. Add flour to use up all of the grease, probably 10-12 Tbsp. Cook slowly in iron skillet, stirring all the time. When nearly brown, add tomato paste and onions and cook until dark brown- but do not burn- keep stirring all the time.
Now chop all the vegetables fine- green onions, parsley, bell pepper, celery, garlic, hot pepper, and lemon. (Usually I pare the yellow part of the lemon and chop it up. Then I cut the lemon and squeeze the juice into liquid.)
Put the roux in a large boiler and warm, then add the water slowly while stirring to keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a boil- add chopped vegetables, salt to taste, chili powder to taste (probably 2 Tbsp or more) paprika to taste and color. Simmer for 2 hours, then add shrimp and other fish and cook until meat is done.
Serve over rice.

This sounds like a wonderful recipe to me and one that would be wonderful on a summer night or during the fall. Now personally, I would add some okra in there to make a gumbo, but I think it would be just as good without.
I have really enjoyed going through my mother's recipes and seeing all the wonderful things that she has enjoyed over the years. Do you have a favorite recipe from a family member that helps you to remember?

Sunday, August 5, 2007

What I'm Reading

Right now, I'm reading a very interesting food book called How to Read a French Fry. The author of the book is Russ Parsons, who is a journalist for the Los Angelos Times. This is his first book, and so far it's very interesting. It goes into some detail to explain the science that's involved in cooking, and in doing so one is able to better understand what is happening while cooking. I find it helpful because I feel that it's teaching me to be a better cook and to better understand what happens when things go wrong.
I also happen to own his second book How to Pick a Peach. This book explores the food industry in relation to grocery stores. It looks into how food has lost so much of its flavor and texture due to mass production. Food is now grown to look pretty and to ship well rather than for its flavor which is ten times more important! It encourages the reader to look into what they are buying in the store and to explore the possibilities of buying from local farmers.
I find on Sunday afternoons that I enjoy a good book to read and possibly a nap to help me enjoy the rest of the weekend. If you enjoy cooking as I do, or if you're just looking for a good read, I suggest either one or both of these books.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


One of my favorite summertime eats is tomatoes. I love having a tomato sandwich for lunch or maybe a BLT or just having them plain. But the one thing that has come to annoy me about tomatoes is that they can be eaten all year around! Now, I know that this is just a product of American commerce, but you must know that isn't how it should be!
Now, folks, let's remember there are in fact four seasons in one year, and there are fruits and vegetables that are best during those seasons. In order to not be completely put off one veggie or fruit, it only seems logical that you eat it while it's in season and at it's best. Which is why I stick to having fresh tomatoes only during the summer, and I look forward to them all year.
One of my favorite toppings for tomatoes is garlic cream cheese. It's a simple recipe but absolutely delicious! It's not only great with tomato sandwiches, but it also works well on BLTs or just having in plain with crackers.

Garlic Cream Cheese

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c mayo, Duke's preferably
garlic, enough to fill garlic press*

Combine all ingredients until well combined. Serve immediately or wait until the next day. It's better after sitting for a day, and continues to get better.

*You can change to garlic to suit your taste, more or less, but keep in mind that the flavor gets stronger after the first day.

Now, for those of you who don't like mayo(Dean....), it may have something to do with the fact that you're using Miracle Whip or something silly like that. But I feel the need to inform you that the only mayonnaise that is worthy of the name is Duke's. It may cost a little bit more, but trust me, it's worth it. And if that thought of mayo just grosses you out, just keep in mind that mayo is really nothing more that eggs and oil, so nothing really wrong with it. Just try the Duke's and then decide.

And so to end for today, have a tomato sandwich with some garlic cream cheese or just have it plain, but remember it's a summer food. That's when is grows and that is when it is best, so enjoy it at it's best. :)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Grant Achatz

This being my first post, I thought I would start out with a chef that I have recently discovered. His name is Grant Achatz, owner of Alinea restaurant in Chicago. He has received multiple outstanding awards from people such as the James Beard Foundation, Gourmet magazine, and Food and Wine magazine.
I heard about him first through Food Network. His restaurant was featured in a show based mostly upon his cooking technique. He is known for applying the newest methods of molecular gastronomy, such as using liquid nitrogen as a coolant, etc. His restaurant features mainly two tasting menus consisting of 12 or 24 mini courses. Now, I've never been to his restaurant, but from what I've heard about it, it's spectacular and if I ever happen to be in Chicago, I plan on making a reservation.
What distresses me the most about the hot upcoming chef is that he has recently announced that he has squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth. Basically, that means that he has a malignant cancer in the mouth and it has reached Stage 4; this means that the cancer has possibly spread to his lymph nodes. But as far as I know, he is optimistic about chemotherapy. But even if chemotherapy works, there is the possibility that he may lose his sense of taste. This could be a severe blow to his culinary career, and yet I have read that he is hopeful. He stated that taste would not keep him from his career, just as deafness did not stop Beethoven from writing one of his greatest symphonies. I certainly hope that chemotherapy is successful because it would be heartbreaking to lose such a tremendous talent.
If you want, you can read the full article on Grant Achatz in the Chicago-Tribune. I found the article through Molecular Gastronomy News. Here's the link:
I hope that this first post has inspired someone to look into the career of this brilliant culinary mind, and that you will keep him in your prayers as he will be in mine.