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Fruits of Our Labors: Cookbook Club 101

11 Jan
Image sourced from kcrw.com

Image sourced from kcrw.com

Pesto is much-loved around here — I’ve cooked with it in pasta dishes, as a pizza sauce, and even as an addition to hummus or other dips. And while I’ve enjoyed playing with the basil – Parmesan – pine nut formula by swapping in spinach, kale, cashews, almonds and more, until recently, I had never ventured too far outside of that routine. That is, until I tried Rachael Ray’s Roasted Red Pepper Pesto.

That is, until my DC girlfriends and I created a Cookbook Club.

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A Little Bit of Luxury: Cooking with Truffle Oil

11 Jun
Image sourced from google.com/images

Image sourced from macchiinc.com

Sometimes, when I’m watching “Top Chef” or “Chopped” or any slew of cooking TV, I hear chefs reference the almighty “truffle oil.” Until recently, I’d never even tried the stuff. All I knew was that it came from mushrooms. Which sounds like a complicated process (did they press them? Infuse them? Squeeze them in a vice? Stomp on them like that episode of “I Love Lucy?”).

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Get This Party Starter

4 Apr

Well friends, I’m having a party.

Image sourced from Wikimedia.com. Granted, there's no way my party will be this cool. But hey, a lady can dream.

Image sourced from Wikimedia.com. Granted, there’s no way my party will be this cool. But hey, a lady can dream.

No, this isn’t a party to relive one of the best comedy films of the nineties. Young Kid and Play got me beat on the cool scale. However, this one should be just as fun, because it’s a birthday party! And you, lovely readers, are invited to join in on the fun.

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Laissez Les Bons Temps Roulez! Quick Jambalaya for Mardi Gras

12 Feb

Hi Y’all! Today is that greatest of holidays, Mardi Gras!

Image sourced from google.com

Image sourced from google.com/images

Also known as Fat Tuesday, Pancake Day (Hullo hullo, UK friends!), Carnivale, and a slew of other names, it’s the last day in the Liturgical (read: church) year before the season of Lent begins. Once upon the middle ages and Renaissance, Christian folks would give up sugar, butter, meat, and most of what makes a diet pleasurable during those 40 days and 40 nights, leaving them with nothing to do the day before but … eat, well, everything. Hence, one of the world’s best food-fests was born!

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London 2012: An Olympic-Sized (Fishy) Feast

28 Jul

Friends, as I’ve likely told all of you about 80k times, I spent a semester studying abroad in London while I was at Notre Dame. Those four months, in a word, were awesome.

I took this picture; my current nostalgia rating is at about 10,000 on a scale of 1 to 100.

Ah, memories — flashback to the spring of 2008, that wonderful time when the pound-to-dollar exchange rate was at an all-time high and my impoverished American self lived off of warm pints of ale, cans of Heinz beans (they were only 50p! Holy affordable canned legumes, Batman!) and HobNobs. (Yet, magically, did not gain weight — I am, in hindsight, grateful for carlessness and the need to walk 4-5 miles a day to and from class / on adventures. Call it the poor-student-in-a-foreign-country diet.)

Mostly, the exercise was an attempt NOT to look like Henry VIII by the time I went home. Chubby bugger.

Last night, as I watched London host the Opening Ceremonies, I definitely went all misty-eyed at the sight of Parliament, double-decker buses, and even that floppy-haired bit-of-a-goober known as London’s mayor, Boris Johnson. (Fun fact: I saw him in person once. His hair is actually quite floppy.)

Image sourced from the Press Association. See? Hilariously floppy hair.

But more than that, I’m sharing with you a few fun ideas for hosting your own London Olympic-Sized Feast, complete with an easy menu that’s very new-chef friendly. (and some tasty brews to boot!) [Thanks to the lovely Ms. LeAnn Parson for inspiring the idea, as she has her own feast (complete with Cottage Pie) in Indianapolis.] I have my own London experience and the great Jamie Oliver to thank for nahy of these ideas. His book Jamie’s Kitchen: A Cooking Course for Everyone is one of the BEST I’ve used to learn basic cooking techniques (he even teaches you how to cut an entire chicken up for saute yourself), and his Fish and Chip Recipe (linked below) is, as he’d likely say, “top notch.” Enjoy! (And as much as I love the Brits, go USA!)

Olympic-Sized Feast — fun for a party! Watch some of your favorite events and nosh on the menu I’ve created here. Many of the British items are easily found in the international aisle of your local grocery store; check the fridge case for specialty cheeses, and the Asian foods section for anything Indian.

Appetizers and Snacks:

  • Various British cheeses with crackers (Wensleydale; Cheddar; Red Leicester; even a Stilton if you’re feeling daring!)
  • Toasted naan bread, sliced or cut into wedges, with an Indian chutney of your choice (those Brits love them some Indian food)

Main Course:

  • Jamie Oliver’s Fish & Chips (recipe courtesy of Food Network)
  • A side of Mushy Peas (heat frozen peas until thawed and hot; mush slightly with a fork; add butter, lemon juice, salt & pepper to your liking)
  • All the proper fixins: Malt vinegar, HP sauce, tartar sauce, and even Ketchup if you so desire.

Dessert:

  • HobNob cookies (or “biscuits”), served with a steaming cup of Earl Gray or Lady Gray tea
  • Scones with clotted cream & strawberry jam. (All surprisingly easy to find in your mainstream American grocery.)

Ales to Try:

  • Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale
  • Boddington’s (comes in a yellow can)
  • London Pride or London Porter, if you can find them
  • Strongbow cider (or, if you can find it, Magners or Bulmer’s)

And there you have it! A fun way to get your friends together, nosh on British foodstuffs, and celebrate the Olympics. Will you be watching the Olympics this year? What are your favorite snacks for sporting events? Are you a fan of British cuisine, or do you think the pairing of those words constitutes an oxymoron? 🙂