Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hockey Night in Canada

Guy offered to make Peanut and me dinner on Friday and I agreed to bring dessert. I then learned that it was Guy's birthday so his husband Larry and I conspired to make a very special birthday cake. See, there's nothing that Guy likes more than hockey and he's got mad pride in his Canadian roots.

Though I could have made things look a bit prettier with colored frosting or candy, I was worried that it would be too sweet - especially for Guy who I knew wasn't the biggest dessert fan. So I decided to decorate the entire thing with fruit. In the center, the red in the Canadiens symbol is a "mosaic" of strawberry pieces.

Larry, Guy's husband, provided figurines to make the cake perfect - representing the Canadiens and Caps, Guy's favorite teams.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Simple Sunday Chicken

This week, I needed a simple roasted chicken recipe- one that I could accomplish after a weekend away in Philly (celebrating Peanut's parents 40th anniversary) followed immediately by a "Sunday Funday" outing with Javier and his friends visiting from NYC. Ina's recipe, which I had made before, would do the trick. It's simple:

1. Melt some butter and baste the chicken (Santa left me the nifty silicone basting brush in my stocking!):

2. Stuff with garlic, lemon, and thyme. Chop up some onions and scatter them around the chicken, then roast for 90 minutes on 425:

3. Make a gravy using chicken stock, flour, and the drippings and enjoy!

A simple recipe, indeed, but one that was still very good. It wasn't as sweet as last week's, and Peanut commented on its rich flavor - a feature, most surely, due to the butter and the onions roasted alongside it. I'm a gravy guy, so I liked this one primarily because of the gravy that was served on top of it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Is it all about the brine?

If there's somebody who could probably teach me how to cook lamb, it's Geoffrey Zakarian. His wife is one of my closest childhood friends, and she swears to me that his lamb dishes are out of this world. Fortunately for me, his cookbook has a recipe for Butter Basted Roasted Chicken.

Geoffrey's recipe and technique involves brining the chicken (submerging in water with dissolved sugar and salt) overnight with some star anise, peppercorn, dill seed, corriander seed, and bay leaves. Before cooking, the cavity is seasoned with celery salt, thyme, rosemary, lemon, and garlic and you place some pads of butter under the skin. Like last week, you sear the chicken before cooking. And when cooking, you take it out every 15 minutes (hopefully not burning your hand like I did) to baste it.

The result? Simply amazing. Peanut and I both commented at how flavorful this chicken was. And it tasted delicious when paired with roasted cherry tomatoes and steamed broccoli. Two Sundays down... ~50 to go! And during that time I will hopefully think of some more creative photo options... and how to properly truss a chicken!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Blackjack Dinner

Attendees: Peanut, Trevor, and Nico
Cocktails: Prosecco
Hors d'oeurves: Crudite
Entree: Rack of Lamb Persillade
Side: Sweet Potato Steak Fries
Dessert: Sabayon with Blueberries

Peanut and I are heading to Las Vegas in a few weeks to celebrate Nico's 40th birthday. In preparation, close-to-professional gambler Trevor came over to teach us how to play blackjack. I reciprocated by providing dinner. IF ONLY I COULD BE PROUD OF WHAT I MADE?!

People, I did not want to post about the meal because it was FAR from the favorite meal I have made. But people (i.e., Peanut) told me that I had a responsibility to post my greatest misses as well as my greatest hits. Ina, my love, I usually love your recipes, but what did I wrong with the rack of lamb? I cooked it for as long as you said, and its internal temperature (I checked) said it was done, by why did it look so raw? And the sweet potato steak fries - well, that was just my fault for not cooking them long enough (I blame it on being too eager for blackjack to start).

But the dessert- my friends, the dessert was DIVINE! I called up LL and used her classic sabayon recipe that involves 6 egg yolks and then such precise measurements as 5 1/2 "shells" of white wine and 1/2 shell of Grand Marnier. Whisked to perfection with a white wine custard served warm with blueberries.

Let's hope for a a greatest hit next time....

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Roasted Chicken: A "Perfect" Sunday Night Supper

I know that I have been on hiatus for a while and to be honest I thought maybe RSVP was dead. But I was amazed over the holidays about how many people (read: two, one of whom was my mother) told me that they were upset that I stopped posting. So, I am back... with Peanut in tow.

Returning to the blog isn't a New Year's Resolution, but I have decided to bring the new year in with a new year's goal. In between writing my novel and learning to play acoustic guitar (resolutions I've had every year since college), starting today my goal is to roast a chicken by a different recipe every Sunday night for the rest of the year. Of course, I'll cook other things that I'll try to remember to photograph, and take pics and make up nicknames of all of our exquisite dinner party guests, but for 2011 it's all about the roasted chicken.

I started it off with a recipe that was a bit on the strange side- chicken in milk. It's Jamie Oliver's recipe, and you essentially brown the chicken on the stovetop in butter and olive oil, then cook it in the oven (375 for 90 minutes) with 2 cups milk, 10 cloves of garlic, the zest of two lemons, some cinnamon, salt, pepper, and sage. I served it with leftover mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.

In the pot:

On the plate:

My one sentence description: Moist, but a bit boring (but very easy to clean up afterwards).
Peanut's one sentence: Light and citrusy, adding new life to leftover mashed potatoes.

So, stay tuned for more exciting photos & posts this year, and LOTS of roast chicken! If you have a favorite roast chicken recipe, or one that's been passed down in your family for generations, send it to me and I'll try it out!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Whoopie for Girl Scout Cookies!!!

I supply girl scout cookies to Peanut's entire office, so instead of bringing home 30+ boxes of cookies on the metro (again), I organized a pick up on Sunday with my supplier. In exchange for the cookies (and along with a check) I brought a treat I'd been dying to make for a while: Whoopie Pies (click on the link for a fun history). My recipe was from Zingerman's in Ann Arbor (one of the best things about the summer I spent there).

You know things are serious when I bust out the candy thermometer:

The perfect consistency for the stuffing:

Halfway there:


And the reward (or at least, what we got to keep):

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A dinner planned (kind of) for a month

Attendees: Peanut, Ferris, Domingo
Raspberry Royale

Hors D'Oeurves:
Cheese, Crackers, and Salami

Prosciutto, Fennel, and Pomegranate Salad

Main Course:
Braised Short Ribs

Massed Potatoes and Sauteed Swiss Chard

Milk Chocolate Souffle

Dinner on Saturday was actually scheduled about a month ago by Peanut and Ferris. I mean, what is that? I have a hard time planning social activities for tomorrow! Which is probably why the menu wasn't finalized until Friday and nothing was purchased until Saturday morning. Still, Peanut and I managed to pull off an amazing dinner, which started with hors d'oeuvres from our new local market opened by the same owners of one of our favorite restaurants,

The first course of salad was a bed of arugula with some mint, green onions, and tossed lightly in olive oil. This was topped with thinly sliced fennel, draped in proscuitto, and scattered with pomegranate seeds.

The main course were braised short ribs, care of one of my favorites, Suzanne Goin. The recipe is truly delicious and EASY- it just takes a while: About an hour or so of prepping, three hours of braising, and another 20 minutes of final touches, including sauteing the swiss chard upon which the ribs were served.

And served with a simple sauce made of some horseradish and creme fraiche and alongside some mashed potatoes.

If you really like to cook, there is nothing more rewarding in my experience than successfully making a soufle. There's a certain excitement that occurs when you turn the light on in the oven and see that your soufle has successfully risen. This recipe for milk chocolate soufles was care of this month's Bon Appetit.

And I can't forget the perfect nougat whipped topping (egg white, honey, amaretto, and heavy whipping cream) that accompanied the soufles (be sure to serve extra in a bowl for passing)!