Monday, March 24, 2008

Foodie T.V.

Any noteworthy foodie has read, once, if not twice, and owns a copy of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. A memoir that defies all food writing, in my personal opinion. Anthony Bourdain has written many sin-filled and delicious books since that debut and has gone on to star in a Travel Channel production called No Reservations. I just finished watching Season 2 of this charming and often fearless account of travel, food, and relevant culture. It's my pick of the week, if not the month and if you're a devoted Netflix renter like myself, you will not be disappointed.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pass The Croque Monsieur...

Oui, oui mon amis.......(yes, yes my friends) it's French night at Chez Sacks. Last summer Paul and I went to Indianapolis for the day. We ended up having lunch at a cool French bistro in the Broad Ripple area of town. Paul ordered a Croque Monsieur - basically a French style grilled ham and cheese. Last night I attempted to make it, quite successfully I will add, thanks to a recipe from my gigantic Gourmet cookbook. It's actually quite simple, delicious and honestly, fattening, but worth every creamy bite. What separates this grilled ham and cheese from the classic American version is the type of cheese used (gruyere) and the sauce (Mornay). The sauce consists of a basic bechamel sauce with gruyere cheese and some dijon mustard. The sauce is liberally applied to the interior of the sandwich and once the sandwich is finished on the stovetop, more Mornay sauce is placed on top of the sandwich, placed under the broiler til it's bubbling. Our tummies were definitely satisfied, so were our hearts.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Foodie Art

When I returned from having dinner with Lisa last night, I arrived at Paul's house to find that he made some new art. For those who don't know, Paul is venturing out in the genre of stencil art. He has made quite a few pieces already including one of Johnny Cash, Ben Harper and myself (which you can see on my myspace page). This is his latest creation using a small opaque cutting board. For those who don't already know I am obsessed with polka dots, my man knows me well. Keep your eyes peeled, Paul will have his very own blog dedicated to stencil art and I will post the blog site. Til then enjoy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Photo Opp!

The main reason I am adding this photo to my blog is just because I like the way that it looks. Paul is actually responsible for taking it. So what's inside you ask? BLT & Potato Soup - a Rachael Ray recipe, which was pretty tasty. Even tastier with the homemade stock I added to it. This photo was taken right after I served big bowls of the soup alongside some chewy sourdough rolls I bought at Fresh Market. I like how the soup creates a rim or edge around the Le Creuset dutch oven and makes it look like a big bowl or plate.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Live Without Bread...I Think Not!

You could think..gosh, why is Teryll teasing me? Or perhaps other thoughts of drowning yourself in a vat of real butter with showers of rustic country bread falling down all around you is racing through your mind? Alas, I digress......the truth is no matter what carbo-less diet you've forced upon yourself, we all can agree that there is utter perfection in a chunk of homemade bread slathered with real butter. Let us have a moment of silence in honor of bread.
This recipe for rustic country bread comes from my cooking school back in California.
I have really been in the bread making mood and thought I would revisit this yummy recipe. The crust turned out decent but the crumb (or "interior of the bread") didn't quite turn out how I would have liked. It turned out dense, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I was looking for groovey pockets of air and gas to invade the dough. After perusing some bread books at Barnes & Noble last night, I think I have narrowed down the "error of my ways" - I think I "handled it too much" prior to its second rise, thus getting rid of all the good air and gases. Never fear, I will not give up!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Viva La Pasta!

The joy that a good bowl of pasta brings can sometimes be beyond the English language or any other language for that matter. In an attempt to reclaim said joyful bowl of carbohydrate filled delight I resorted to a recipe, a family friend (Jo Marie) shared with me quite a few years ago - Tomato & Brie Pasta. Yes folks, there's a good ol' fashioned block of brie in this dish and it's smoothy creaminess lends itself to speechless "ooohhhs" and "aaaahs". Just a few basic ingredients for this sauce is all that is required - some fresh tomatoes, lots of extra virgin olive oil, minced/chopped garlic, salt, pepper, red chili pepper flakes, toasted pine nuts, a block of brie cheese (remove the rind) and lots (and I say LOTS) of fresh basil, chiffonade style baby. Voila, a pasta to die for is born.

Now I made this pasta following the night of a "cooking" class I attended (not taught), though it was more like a demonstration, focused on the secret ingredient of pasta. Without divulging too much negative energy or chalking it up to food snobbery, I must remind you all of the three cardinal culinary sins involving the use of pasta.
1. NEVER EVER ADD OIL TO YOUR PASTA WATER - Yes folks, it's a myth but adding oil to your water does not help your pasta nor does it reduce the chance of your pasta sticking together. In fact the only thing you should be adding to your water is salt and lots of it.
2. ALWAYS SALT YOUR SAUCE - Now I understand if you have serious health issues involving sodium why you would choose not to salt your food, but when you are cooking, salt is essential to bringing out the best flavors of all your ingredients, as well as balancing out flavors.
3. NEVER EVER EVER EVER RUN YOUR COOKED PASTA UNDER COLD WATER - what happens when you commit this cardinal culinary sin??? You rinse off all the good starches in your pasta - these starches help bind the sauce to the pasta. Rinsing your pasta in cold water is basically a recipe for pasta soup. I digress.
Anyhow, after this demonstration, I really needed a "pasta boost" - something to rekindle my love for pasta and I could think of no better way than to pull out Jo Marie's recipe and step to it!

Monday, March 3, 2008

La Salade

I went to Fresh Market on Friday evening (for those West Coasters reading my blog, it's a small equivalent to Whole Foods here in Fort wayne) to pick up a few items. Of course, I couldn't resist a few additional items which I admit were not on my shopping list. Those two items were goat cheese, pecans and a Meyer lemon. I planned on making steak and baked potatoes for dinner on Sunday, but wanted to make a delectable salad to go along with it. I'm trying to venture out into the land of creative salads these days. It's so easy to stick to the boring "house salad", so to speak. I had some dried cranberries at home and as soon as I saw that goat cheese I knew it had to be incorporated into my salad. Threw in some chopped pecans as they compliment both the cranberries and goat cheese and for a treat, I made a Meyer lemon viniagrette. For those of you oblivious to the wonders that are Meyer lemons, it's a lemon with the skin the color of a pale, pale orange. It's flesh is a wee bit sweet tasting too. They are divine. My viniagrette consisted on minced shallots, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, juice of 1/2 a Meyer lemon, and grapeseed oil. Voila - la salade!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Whoppers....the way to a girl's hearts.

I tried a new recipe this morning from a baking book I recently borrowed from the library. The name of the book is Baking: from my house to yours by Dorie Greenspan. Dorie has quite an impressive career in the culinary world, having worked with Julia Child and even affiliated with Bon Appetit, one of the many foodie magazines available for us to devour.
This was one of the first recipes that caught my eye because it included malted milk powder and coarsely chopped Whoppers, the chocolate covered malt balls many children and adults adore while watching a movie. My heart rang out simply because I love chocolate malts more so than shakes.
First things first - there was a very important instruction left out of the recipe, what temperature to preheat and bake the cookies at. I perused other cookie recipes in her book and decided on 350.
Paul, his parents and kids were my taste testers - I had two bites of the cookie myself, purely so I had some basis to write this blog. Overall, the cookie was tasty, soft and chewy. It's texture was definitely cake-like (agreed by all tasters) and you really couldn't decipher the malted milk flavor unless you bit into one of the whoppers. The recipe called for a cup of malted milk powder so I expected the cookie to exude more of the malted milk flavor. That may be something I can play with, if I decide to give this recipe another go.