Wednesday, February 25, 2009

remembering nonnie

Nonnie, you'll live on in our hearts and our kitchens. You've inspired us all to live better lives. We love you, and we'll miss you, but you're only a story and a recipe away from us now. Salute...

Mary Cellucci Tringe

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

depression, meet youtube

Last night, I called my grandma, as I try to every week. We got to talking about work, my job, my brothers jobs, and she paused pensively, and remarked what interesting times these were. She told me about when she grew up in rural Nebraska, when the crops were dying and the grasshoppers and dust destroyed everything - how hard things were for her. She feels like she missed out on a lot of her childhood because her family went through such hard times when she was so young. Her dad, along with most every one of her neighbors, lost their farm during the depression. She remembers having to ride her bike all the way into town, with a basket full of eggs, which she would trade at the store for sugar, or flour, or whatever they needed. She went on to remark how much different the recession is now, and what kind of people it's affecting.

But - so interesting. We grew up hearing these stories, and it's taking a massive economic meltdown to make them ring true, or at least that's the case for me. That's why I find the link in today's post so interesting - 91-year-old Clara the cook, has a small web series on YouTube with instructional videos about what her and her family ate during the Great Depression. Pasta with peas, egg drop soup, baked bread. Hope you have a few minutes to watch.

Here's CLARA:

If you're anything like me, then maybe hearing Clara's stories remind you of your own Grandmother. And, like they always reminded us, we could learn a thing or two from them.


Monday, February 23, 2009

new toy!

Squee! I'm so excited. Here's my new Mario Batali enameled cast iron pan. I've been wanting this thing forever - can you imagine the possibilities? Braised short ribs. Stew. Risottos galore. Last night, on its maiden voyage, we tried out a hearty shepherd's pie. Here's the recipe:

Shepherd's Pie:

1/2 C. olive oil
2 lbs. extra lean ground beef, browned, drained
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 onions, diced
4 carrots, diced
1 heart of celery, diced
1 C. frozen green peas
1 C. frozen white corn
1/4 C. flour
8 oz. beef stock
6 oz. Guinness
1/4 C. Worcestershire

2 lbs. new white potatoes, boiled, smashed
8 oz. sharp cheddar
1 C. heavy cream
4 T. butter
2 T. salt

For the pie, heat the olive oil in the bottom of your skillet. Add onion, sautee until translucent (10 mins). Add carrots, celery. Sautee 10 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add browned ground beef. Stir well to combine. Sprinkle flour over top of mixture, stir to combine. Add Guinness, to deglaze pan. Stir, until sauce thickens. Add beef stock, a little at a time. Add worcestershire, salt, and pepper to taste. (We also added a bit of balsamic and some Frank's hot sauce, because, why not?). Make sure the base tastes good on its own. At the very end, add peas and corn. Stir.

Topping: Combine potatoes, butter, cream, and cheese, salt, and pepper, and mash until combined to your liking. Spread in even layer on top of the beef mixture. Drag fork over top to create ridges.

BAKE: 350-375 oven for 1 hour, until top is golden brown and pie is beginning to bubble around edges. Dig in.

Friday, February 20, 2009

sick day :o(

It's a sick day on Reservoir Road, folks. Since this is the tenth time I've made this soup this season (it's a long winter indeed, Miss Ingalls Wilder), I figured I'd post it here, along with my other favorite remedies. Bearing in mind that I'm a known hypochondriac and I have no medical knowledge whatsoever, here's to you, and your health:

Recipe for a Sick Day
-1 packet Emergen-C, dissolved in cold water
-1 bottle Gatorade
-1 bowl Chicken Soup (recipe follows)

Not Quite Grandma's Chicken Soup But Easy Enough That You Can Make It While You Are Sick:
Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 5-10 mins
Cook time: 30-40 mins

You'll need:

2 T. olive oil
4 large carrots, peeled
4 ribs celery
2 yellow onions
5 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
fresh thyme
1 t. turmeric
1 lemon
8 oz. egg noodles of choice
2 boxes Kitchen Basics chicken stock
1 rotisserie chicken

1) Dice onion, and crush or finely chop garlic. Sautee for 7 minutes in olive oil on low heat until translucent.

2) Dice celery (including tops of celery), carrots, add to pot. Sautee for 5 minutes until beginning to get tender. Add 1 box chicken stock. Cover pot, keep on low while you...

3) Cut out breast meat from rotisserie chicken, discard skin (reserve dark meat for snacks for the healthy people, or add to soup if you wish). Dice the breast meat in 1-2cm. cubes. Add to pot. Add 2nd box of chicken stock, 1 t. turmeric, 1 bay leaf, and a few sprigs of thyme. Stir to combine, then simmer on medium-low for 20-25 minutes.

4) Remove thyme sprigs, remove bay leaf. Add noodles, cook until done, stirring often. Just before serving, add juice of lemon.

Enjoy! And, feel better.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

eat your vegetables

Because they are DELICIOUS...especially with this insane garlic bread.

6 oz. mixed baby greens
1 sm. can yellow corn
1 jar roasted red peppers
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 jar pimento-stuffed green olives
5 oz. fresh mozzarella


3-4 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 T. olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Chop red peppers, olives. Drain corn, mix with greens, olives, mozzarella, tomatoes, and red peppers. Toss, eat, be happy.

On to the less healthy stuff, the garlic bread. I first saw this recipe on Emeril's page, but I've since seen it used by Mario Batali, and most recently in Gwyneth Paltrow's always-enlightening (can you hear my snark from there? ...good.) weekly newsletter, "Goop." Here you go, from Emeril and Mario and Gwyneth and me to you, with love.

Garlic Bread:
1 baguette
5 T. butter
1/2 Parmesan Cheese
2 T. chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
4 garlic cloves

1) Melt butter in microwave. Crush garlic cloves into butter, then mix well. Add cheese and parsley to butter, mix. You should now have a paste.

2) Cut baguette as you would normally for garlic bread (I cut it in half, then split those halves open, making four gigantic pieces).

3) Slather garlic/parmesan/butter/parsley paste over bread.

4) Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

5) Indulge.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

what zone? the calzone!

Calzones: Pizza, folded, and baked. I'm giving you three recipes for it, all of which should be mixed with the cheese base. The BEAUTY part about these, is, you can fill 'em with whatever you wanna fill 'em with, and it'll probably taste like awesome. Here's what you do.

Cheese base:
1 C. ricotta (Part Skim is fine)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 C. provolone/mozzarella shredded
1/4 C. parmesan or romano, shredded

Sausage & Mushroom

Open package of pepperoni, place in skillet over low/medium heat. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring often. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towel. Discard grease. Mix with cheese base.

Sausage & Mushroom:
In a bowl, mix pre-sliced cremini mushrooms with 1/4 C. olive oil, 3 T. balsamic vinegar, 1 t. rosemary, plus 1/4 t. salt and the same amount of pepper. Spread on baking sheet - roast mushrooms in 400 oven for 20 minutes until bottoms are beginning to get brown.

Meanwhile, break up 1 lb. spicy italian pork sausage in a skillet. Sautee over low/medium for 10-15 minutes until browned. Drain on paper towel and discard grease.

Combine sausage and mushrooms with cheese mixture.

Steam 10 oz. fresh baby spinach. Chop 1/2 C. sundried tomatoes. Chop up can of artichoke hearts. Mix with cheese and get ready for yuuuuuum!

OK - so for the dough...I happen to be dough-inept, so I buy the frozen kind and let it thaw then I roll it out really awkwardly but what I think is good enough...into about a 15 inch circle. Place cheese + _________ mixture in middle of dough, then fold over, and press edges together well. Try this trick: put your thumb on the edge, push down, and using your other hand, bring a tiny bit of dough over your thumb then slip your thumb out. Repeat for the entire edge, looks sort of "braid"-ish. Don't forget to make slits in the top of your calzone with a paring knife, or else you will have a pizza explosion in your oven. (No, that's a lie but it might not turn out great, so remember to make the slits).

To get a good, pizzeria-style crust on your 'Zone - do this: Heat your oven to 425 degrees. Place your pans in the oven while it preheats. When your oven and pans are preheated, take the pan out of the oven. Pour olive oil (1/4 c.) on it. Gently, carefully place your calzone on the hot baking sheet, and place it back in the oven for 15-18-20-25 minutes until done to your liking.

Sauce, baby, sauce:
1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 shot premium vodka (no, 2, you can drink one)
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 t. salt

Stir, simmer on low for 10 mins, or until heated through.

ENJOY with a glass of vino and your friends. Ooh la la, CALZONES!

all apologies

I haven't posted in a long time. A really, really, really long time. Since Bush was in office! We've kept cooking at 3345 Reservoir Road (Thanksgiving! An Election Night party! An Inauguration gathering!)...but, my job schedule picked up, we did some traveling over the holidays, my iPhone broke, and I had to walk uphill to school in the snow 15 miles both ways.

Anyway, I thought it was an interesting exercise to chart the peaks and valleys of the past year, as well as where I've been.

2008 In Travel (asterisks indicate traveled there more than once):
Omaha, NE*
Montpelier, VT*
Aspen, CO*
Los Angeles, CA
Outer Banks, NC*
Barcelona, Spain
Minorca, Spain
Mdina, Malta
Taormina, Sicily, Italy
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Rome, Italy
San Francisco, CA
Sebastopol, CA
Haena, Kauai, HI
Kapalua, Maui, HI
Walnut Creek, CA
Napa, CA

Strikes & Gutters:
13 law school rejection letters
1 law school acceptance letter
1 new baby (Kiva!)
1 brother graduated (Mike!)
1 dog, briefly adopted and given back.
1 election won (Mark Pryor, AR)
1 election lost (Ronnie Musgrove, MS)
1 New President
1 new haircut
6 new pairs of shoes
34 blog entries
For the first time in 6 years...0 changes in address!

Now, back to the food biz. Let's eat, I'm FAMISHED.

(Pictured: Our New Years' Eve activity: Family Guy, a bottle of Clos, and enough cold meds to tranquilize a horse...) Happy 2009.