Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving and Barefoot Bloggers Mexican Chicken Soup!

Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving with lots of good food and a loving time spent with family. Its the perfect day to sit back and reflect on all the many things we have to be grateful for. I'm not cooking my official dinner until Sunday so check back for blog updates next week!

This week's Barefoot Blogger's pick was Ina's Mexican Chicken Soup. I made this recipe a few months back and it was really good. It made so much we still have some left in our freezer! So, instead of making another batch, here is my original review of the recipe. Thank you to Judy for picking this one. It would be the perfect way to use up that leftover Thanksgiving turkey!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Raspberry Creme Brulee

I'm not sure what prompted me to try this creme brulee recipe. I think it must have been the raspberries. Its not that I wouldn't want to make a creme brulee recipe, but I am seriously in love with the creme brulee recipe from the Culinary Institute of America that I have been making for years. To me it was the epitome of perfection. I recently watched Ina make this recipe and it reminded me of a local restaurant, Adelmos that makes the most wonderful raspberry creme brulee. I was already making Beef Burgundy for our anniversary and thought creme brulee would be a perfect ending since its one of my husband's favorite desserts. My original creme brulee recipe is a bit time consuming so this one worked out since it had very few steps. I can honestly say this recipe was amazing! One of those jaw dropping, wow this is good experiences! I was honestly sad that I halved the recipe and we had no more of these delicious custards to eat! Raspberries and creme brulee are just a perfect combination together. Now, I'm torn about which recipe is my favorite. My husband said he would have to try them both back to back. I'm not sure I'm going to be having a creme brulee tasting any time soon but at least now I have two absolutely decadent recipes to chose from! I should have gotten a picture, they were really beautiful, but I wanted to enjoy a romantic anniversary dinner and not worry about picture taking! So you will have to use your imagination! My husband and I have had six amazing years together and I am looking forward to celebrating our 50th one day!

A couple notes about the recipe: Several reviewers on the Food Network site stated that Ina added cardamom to the creme brulee on the show, however, its not listed in the recipe. I could not recall so I made the recipe as is and it was perfect. Also, I made one change. I used 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract. I just think creme brulee should have pretty little flecks of vanilla in it!

Raspberry Creme Brulee

1 extra - large egg
4 extra - large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
3 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons framboise liqueur
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste)
1/2 pint fresh raspberries

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the framboise and vanilla. Distribute the raspberries among 6 (6 to 8 - ounce) ramekins and then pour the custard mixture into the ramekins until they're almost full. (I use a large glass measuring cup for easy pouring.)

Place the ramekins on a sheet pan and carefully pour hottest tap water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are just set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate until cold.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar caramelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

Source: Ina Garten/Food Network

Friday, November 21, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers-Chive Risotto Cakes

This Barefoot Blogger bonus recipe was chosen by Deb at the Kahakai Kitchen. This recipe is from Ina's newest cookbook Back to Basics. This one gets rave reviews in our house. I made mine late on Thursday so I had the benefit of the hints and suggestions of those who made them earlier. Several bloggers reported having problems with the rice mixture staying together. I made sure to refrigerate mine for about five hours and I used a ceramic bowl to hold the rice mixture The ceramic really helped to chill the mixture well. I also used my non-stick green pan to fry mine. Using these two suggestions, I had no problems keeping my risotto cakes together. I didn't have Greek Yogurt. I intended to have Greek Yogurt, but didn't realized I purchased a cup that had honey in it. So, I strained plain yogurt through a sieve and used that. I also mixed in Romano cheese with my Fontina. These would be the perfect compliment to a warm bowl of soup, which is how I served them. They would also do well as a lunch dish with a beautiful green salad or in smaller portions as an appetizer. Every year I make an Italian dinner on Christmas Eve and I may use these as a side dish or appetizer this year. I think you could change up the cheeses and herbs or add vegetables and really do a lot with this recipe. I also love that you can make it any time without having to slave over a pot of risotto!

Chive Risotto Cakes

Kosher salt
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
½ cup Greek yogurt ( I used plain organic yogurt that I strained)
2 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 ½ cup cups grated Italian Fontina cheese (5 ounces) ( I mixed Fontina and Romano)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
Good olive oil

Bring a large (4 quart) pot of water to a boil and add ½ tablespoon salt and the Arborio rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The grains of rice will be quite soft. Drain the rice in a sieve and run under cold water until cool. Drain well.

Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, chives, Fontina, 1 ¼ teaspoons salt, and the pepper in a medium bowl. Add the cooled rice and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, until firm.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Spread the panko in a shallow dish. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Form balls of the rice mixture using a standard (2 1/4 –inch) ice cream scoop or a large spoon. Pat the balls into patties 3 inches in diameter and ¾ inch thick. Place 4-6 patties in the panko, turning once to coat. Place the patties in the hot oil and cook, turning once, for about 3 minutes on each side until the risotto cakes are crisp and nicely browned. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Continue cooking in batches, adding oil as necessary, until all the cakes are fried. Serve hot.

Source: Ina Garten, Back to Basics, Clarkson Potter, 2008.

Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving dinner is one of my favorite meals. I love turkey, sweet potatoes (marshmallows are a must), stuffing (real stuffing-made from tearing bread, not boxed or packaged), cranberry sauce and of course a dessert made with pumpkin. Although, we will not be hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, I just couldn't resist making my own dinner as well. After all, leftovers are one of the best parts!. I'm trying a few new things this year, brining a turkey, cornbread stuffing. This stuffing will have stiff competition against our family recipe. I'm also jazzing up my traditional sweet potato casserole and trading in pumpkin pie for a pumpkin roulade! My dinner will be served the Sunday after Thanksgiving so look for reviews then!

Apple Cider Brined Turkey

Corn Bread Sausage Stuffing with Apples

Cranberry Sauce

Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Marshmallows

Mashed Potatoes with Crispy Shallots

Homemade Rolls

Sauteed Green Beans with Mushrooms

Pumpkin Roulade with Ginger Buttercream

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers-Mini Chocolate Orange Chunk Cake

I haven't had any new recipes to blog this week since we've been enjoying some of our favorite standby recipes, penne with turkey meatballs, roast chicken with potatoes and lemon, and easy whole wheat dinner rolls. I did however, make Ina's mini chocolate orange chunk cake which was one of this month's barefoot blogger bonus recipes. I'm planning to make the other bonus recipe, chive risotto cakes, for dinner tonight. These cakes were really good. They would be darling on a dessert buffet for the holidays. The orange flavor combines really nicely with the chocolate. The only problem I encountered with this recipe was my ganache was a little too thick. I could have easily remedied that by thinning it out with some more half and half but I was in a hurry. So, my poor little cakes are not the prettiest things, but that is what happens when you end up finishing these at 9:30 p.m. at night. So please forgive their appearance and definitely give them a try. I made a few changes to the recipe as noted below, based on ingredients I had on hand. Thanks to Lisa at the Lime and the Coconut for picking this recipe. I always love an excuse to break out the mini-bundt cake pan! I would recommend making these a day ahead. The flavor seems to intensify overnight.

Mini-Chocolate Orange Chunk Cakes
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/8 cup grated orange zest (2 large oranges)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 ounces buttermilk at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup good semisweet chocolate chunks

For the syrup:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (I only had 1 orange, so I made a simple syrup and added about 1/2 tsp of orange extract after I took it off the heat)

For the ganache:

  • 4 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (I used half and half)
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 6 individual serving baking molds, such as the flexible non stick 100 percent silicone molds.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, then the orange zest.

Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 1 tablespoon flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the molds on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pans, put them on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cakes.

Source: Ina Garten/Food Network (note a similar recipe appears in the Barefoot Contessa Parties, however, that recipe is double in quantity as it calls to be made in a full size bundt and there are some additional differences as well)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Slow Cooker Cajun Red Beans with Andouille Sausage

Yes, I will admit this is a Sandra Lee recipe! However, its one that passes muster in my house. No artificial or processed ingredients involved! This was really simple to make and definitely a keeper. We barely had any leftovers! Even our picky toddler ate a fair share. Who knew I should have been feeding him Cajun all along! I used the whole tablespoon of Cajun spice and it was just right for my husband but a little too spicy for me. I will probably adjust the seasoning next time. I also purchased fresh made andouille sausage rather than the pre-cooked kind. My natural grocer makes sausages on site with no nitrates, msg or other additives. If I make it with the pre-cooked sausage, I will buy the Whole Foods Chicken Andouille Sausage which is also free of additives. To adjust the recipe, for the fresh sausage I removed it from the casing and cooked it on the stove first and then added it to the slow cooker. This recipe is not a good one to leave cooking all day in the slow cooker. Mine stayed in the slow cooker on warm past the 4 hours and it was starting to get a little crispy around the edges of the pot.

Cajun Red Beans with Andouille Sausage

1 package (13 oz) Cajun style andouille sausage, diced

2 cans (15 oz each) kidney beans, drained (I used organic)

1 can 14.5 oz diced tomatoes with onions and green peppers

¼ cup frozen chopped green peppers (I omitted, but would probably use fresh bell pepper)

¾ cup converted rice (I used minute rice)

2 cups vegetable stock

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (I used a salt-free blend)

Salt and pepper

In a 4 quart slow cooker, combine sausage, beans, tomatoes and green peppers. In a medium bowl, stir together rice, vegetable stock, and Cajun seasoning. Pour into slow cooker and stir thoroughly. Cover and cook on high setting 3-4 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: Sandra Lee, Semi-Homemade Slow Cooker Recipes 2, Meredith Books, 2007.

Barefoot Bloggers-Herb Roasted Onions

This week's Barefoot Blogger recipe of Herb Roasted Onions was chosen by Kelly of Baking with the Boys. This recipe could not have been easier to make. The onions were not only delicious but also make a beautiful presentation. I would love to try the dressing in this recipe on other roasted vegetables. I served these with Ina's Loin of Pork with Garlic and Fennel, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, and Chai Spiced Applesauce. These onions would also work well as a side for roasted chicken or turkey.

Herb Roasted Onions

  • 2 red onions
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the stem end of each onion and carefully slice off the brown part of the root end, leaving the root intact. Peel the onion. Stand each onion root end up on a cutting board and cut the onion in wedges through the root. Place the wedges in a bowl.

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the onions and toss well.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a sheet pan, reserving the vinaigrette that remains in the bowl. Bake the onions for 30 to 45 minutes, until tender and browned. Toss the onions once during cooking. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with the reserved dressing. Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste and serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: Ina Garten/Food Network.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Loin of Pork with Fennel and Garlic

This week's Barefoot Blogger recipe is Ina's Roasted Onions (check back Thursday for the update and review!) I knew I wanted to make a whole meal around that dish. I was thinking pork and my grocery store must have been in sync because they had this perfect loin of pork which was beautifully frenched in the case. This dish makes a very elegant presentation with very little effort. The crust adds a great flavor to the pork. I used fresh thyme instead of rosemary since I had that on hand. I also adjusted the proportions since my pork loin was only 2 lbs. I cooked mine past 140 degrees since I don't like my pork pink inside.

Loin of Pork with Fennel and Garlic

  • 1 (5-pound) loin of pork, bone in,"frenched" and tied
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Allow the pork to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Place the pork, fat side up, in a roasting pan just large enough to hold it comfortably. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade process the garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, and fennel seeds until roughly chopped. Add the olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper and process until it forms a smooth paste. Rub the paste on top of the pork and roast for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F. Remove from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to sit for 20 minutes, then remove the strings, slice between the bones and serve warm.

Source: Ina Garten/Food Network.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chunky Chai Applesauce

One of my favorite things to order from Starbucks is a Chai Tea Latte. When I received this month's issue of Cooking Light, I knew I had to make the Chai Spiced Applesauce. I decided this would be a perfect pairing with Ina's Loin of Pork with Fennel and Garlic. I also added buttermilk mashed potatoes and Ina's roasted onions to round out this meal. This recipe did not disappoint. This is probably the most flavorful applesauce I have ever had. The balance of spices works really well in this recipe. It also received high praise from our toddler who was shoveling it in his mouth like there was no tomorrow! Note, I mashed mine with a potato masher at the end so it would be a smoother applesauce. Prior to mashing it looked more like baked apples. This is a perfect accompaniment for pork and would also be a nice addition to a Thanksgiving menu.

Chunky Chai Applesauce

Yield: 3 2/3 cups (serving size: about 1/4 cup)

  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • Dash of freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine cider and apples in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in sugar and remaining ingredients; simmer 12 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture is thick. Cover and chill.

Source: Cooking Light Magazine, November 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Easy Comfort Food

I've been under the weather with a cold this past week and have not really cooked much. Thank goodness for Thai take-out and Pizza delivery! Last night, I decided I wanted to cook but didn't have the energy to go to the store. I remembered this recipe from a recent addition of Kraft Food and Family and luckily I had all the ingredients. This dish was so easy to make and really hits the spot if your not feeling great. Although the recipe is titled fettuccine Alfredo its better likened to a creamy chicken and noodles. It didn't quite have the rich creaminess I expect of an Alfredo dish. The dish was really good nonetheless. Peas or carrots would be a great addition to this dish. I used homemade chicken stock and chicken leftover from making the stock in this dish. Its really nice to have those items frozen on hand, ready for quick use.

Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken

1/2 lb fettuccine, uncooked (I used egg noodles)
1 1lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips (I used cooked chicken leftover from making chicken stock)
1 1/4 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth (I used homemade)
4 tsp flour
4 oz Philadelphia cream cheese, cubed
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese grated
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
Fresh Parsley for garnish

Cook pasta as directed on package.
Meanwhile, heat large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium heat. Add chicken, cook 5-7 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally. Remove from skillet. (I used chicken already cooked so I skipped this step and just added the cooked chicken at the end). Mix broth and flour in same skillet. Stir in cream cheese, 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and pepper; cook 2 min., stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens. Stir in chicken.

Drain pasta; place in large bowl; Pour chicken mixture over pasta; toss to coat. Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese and top with 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley before serving.

Source: Kraft Food and Family, Fall 2008 Issue.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ginger Brownies

Last night I went to my monthly craft night get together. Each month someone picks a craft project and then hosts at their host. Its really been a fun thing to do and has taught me some craft projects I would have never known about. I am lucky to have some very crafty friends! In the last couple months I have learned of the wonders you can do with modge podge and scrapbook paper! This month's project was jewelry making. This was extremely fun to do. I may just be heading to our local craft store for more jewelry making supplies! Besides, the fun get together we always have some yummy snacks. My husband joked that he was going to start coming to craft night when he found out about the wine and snacks! I wanted to make a dessert to take last night so I looked through one of my new favorite cookbooks, Martha Stewart's Cookies. I found this recipe for ginger brownies and had all the ingredients on hand. These were really good and had a nice spice flavor to them. They would be delicious with a warm glass of Chai Tea. These would also be the perfect finish after a serving of chili. Besides being delicious, the nice thing about this recipe is you mix it all in one pot and pour it in the baking pan.

Ginger Brownies

Makes 16

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Line bottom with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over 2 sides. Butter parchment; set aside. Melt butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in remaining ingredients.
  2. Pour batter into prepared dish. Smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Lift out, and let cool completely on rack. Cut into sixteen 2-inch squares. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 4 days.
Source: Martha Stewart's Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and Share, by Martha Stewart Living Magazine, Clarkson Potter 2008.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

One of my favorite things to order out is La Madeline's tomato-basil soup. Last week when I received my copy of Ina's new cookbook, Back to Basics, I knew this tomato soup was the first recipe of many that I wanted to try. This recipe also allowed me the opportunity to make my own homemade chicken stock which is something I wanted to check off my cooking goals list. And who doesn't like the smell of chicken soup cooking all day? The stock was really not hard to make and I think it did make a difference in the flavor of the soup over the usual canned stock. A bonus to making the chicken stock is at the end you have a perfectly tender chicken to chop up for chicken salad or other recipes that call for cooked chicken. Of course I'm going to tell you this soup was wonderful, its an Ina recipe after all! I followed Ina's directions and pureed it with my food mill and I really liked the texture it had. It was very reminiscent of La Madeline's soup. My husband really liked the peppery bite the soup had and thought the Parmesan toasts were the perfect finishing touch. The only change I made to the recipe was to use half and half instead of heavy cream. I would note that unlike other Ina recipes which generally yield large quantities this one only makes 5 servings. Also, I halved the chicken stock recipe and still had plenty left over to freeze.

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream (I used half-and-half)
Julienned fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Parmesan Toasts or croutons

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

Add the cream to the soup and process it through a food mill into a bowl, discarding only the dry pulp that's left. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves and/or Parmesan toasts.

Parmesan Toasts

1 French baguette
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the baguette diagonally into 1/4 inch thick slices. Make as many slices as you like to serve with the soup.

Place the slices on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a thick layer of grated Parmesan on the toasts and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until the toasts are lightly browned. Cool to room temperature.

Homemade Chicken Stock

3 (5 lb) roasting chickens
3 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
6 carrots, unpeeled and halved
4 celery stalks with leaves, cut in thirds
4 parsnips, unpeeled and cut in half (optional)
20 fresh parsley sprigs
15 fresh thyme sprigs
20 fresh dill sprigs
1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

Place all ingredients in a 16-20 quart stockpot. Add 7 quarts water and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim any foma that comes to the surface. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 4 hours.

Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander, discarding the solids. Pack in quart containers and refrigerate. When the stock is cold, remove the surface fat and refrigerate again.

Source: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter 2008.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Royal Chef

This last week was so busy, I almost forgot to post this! Last weekend, as one of my birthday presents, my Mom took me to an event where Darren McGrady, the Royal Chef was speaking and promoting his book. Chef McGrady spent many years as a chef to the royal family and then personally as the late Princess Diana's chef. He gave an insightful speech detailing his experiences with the royal family as well as what it is like to work in the royal kitchen and cook for dignitaries as well as host a party for 15,000. If you get the chance to hear Chef McGrady speak, I highly recommend it. Chef McGrady hosts cooking classes in our area, so I'm looking forward to taking one of his classes. I'm also looking forward to trying the wonderful recipes in his book, Eating Royally. I'm considering doing a traditional English meal with Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding for Christmas and I think his book will be the perfect resource.