Archive for the ‘BN Channel Food’ category

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Blogging The Recession: French Toast Sticks

Food Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on Chaos In The Kitchen}
first appeared on Blog Nosh Magazine on March 30, 2009

I love french toast.  Our family has always made french toast for special breakfasts, more so than pancakes, eggs, or waffles.  I have always enjoyed making it for the kids when they were little but now that we are so busy in the mornings before school we don’t have it very often.  A great weekend recipe is a huge batch of french toast, with all the extras sliced into sticks and stashed in the freezer for the grab and go convenience of school mornings.

frenchtoast

I made these with some indulgent challah bread but any Texas Toast or thick cut sliced bread will work.  The nice thing is you can buy the ”priced to sell” stale bread since you will be soaking it in egg and frying it anyway.

French Toast Sticks

serves 12 kids or 6 adults, prep 10 min, cook 15 min
  1. In a pie dish, wisk together eggs, milk, salt and cinnamon or vanilla, if using.
  2. Dip one or two bread slices into the egg mixture at a time.
  3. Let them sit and absorb the egg while heating a skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Sprinkle your hot skillet with oil and carefully removed the soaked bread from the gg mixture, allowing the excess to run off.
  5. Fry one or two pieces at a time over medium high heat until eggs are cooked and brown.  Soak the next two slices in the egg mixture while you are cooking.
  6. They should only take a couple minutes per side to cook.  Remove slices to a cooling rack, sprinkle the skillet with oil and continue frying until egg mixture is gone.
  7. Once toast is cool, slice into thick sticks and place on a baking sheet to freeze.  Once frozen, place the sticks into a freezer bag to store.
  8. To reheat: remove the number of sticks desired and microwave in 30 second intervals until warmed throughout, about 1-2 minutes.

Cost Analysis:

frenchtoast2

Editor’s Pick by Beth from Blog O’ Beth:  Katie is currently featuring a great series on her blog titled “Blogging The Recession”. Her ingenuity in taking daily convenience foods and turning them into cost-efficient home recipes is delectable.  Make sure you subscribe to Chaos In The Kitchen so you won’t miss any of these great budget friendly recipes.  Make sure you check out the original post so you can see what all her kitchen savvy readers have to say.

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St. John Restaurant

Food Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally Published on Gourmet Chick}

The best excuse ever to eat eye popping amounts of pork is to gather together 18 of your closest friends and book a whole pig at St. John Restaurant in Farringdon in London, England. You really do need to book the pig in advance. A deposit of £320 at least a week before your meal is required to reserve the pig which we affectionately began to refer to as Percy. Yes, Percy would die for our eating pleasure however where else but St. John’s to best appreciate and pay tribute to the life of the pig. The head chef at St. John Restaurant, Fergus Henderson, is the champion of the concept of ‘nose to tail’ eating. We could be sure that every part of the pig would be appreciated in all it’s glory and used and consumed right down to the last trotter.

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For the privilege of eating a whole pig our group is allocated the private room at the front of the restaurant. Just around the corner from the Smithfield meat markets, the austere white washed walls of the restaurant and the waiters clad in butchers aprons are a nod to the area’s continuing carnivorous traditions. The bone marrow served with parsley salad is St John’s signature dish so I have no intention of passing up an opportunity to sample the bone marrow despite the lashings of pork that was to follow.

You are presented with a very primeval looking assortment of bones (pictured) and the idea is to scoop out the marrow from inside the bones, spread it on the accompanying pieces of toast and finish with a sprinkling of sea salt and parsley. If you are a lover of lard this is the dish for you. The dark unctuous bone marrow is speckled with glistening pieces of fat creating a spread for your toast like no other. The marrow is incredibly rich and after two pieces of toast I am done. I must admit that it does go rather nicely with the bottles of pinot noir that we are making short work of.

For the less adventurous you can choose squid as a starter. Served in large platters mixed with wedges of fennel and green sauce the squid is fresh, light and a welcome alternative for those who are squeamish enough about Percy without wanting to suck their starter from the inside of pieces of bone. However, there is no avoiding the fact that we are eating a whole pig as Percy is brought to the table by our waiter balanced on a large metal tray. The pig’s skin is golden and glistening and the aroma of roasted pork sparks a Pavlovian reaction.

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Our waiter expertly carves the pig at the table putting all who have hesitated before a leg of lamb for a Sunday roast to serious shame. Huge platters are filled with mounds of mouth watering pork meat, crispy skin and stuffing soaking with the juices from the meat. The pig is accompanied by simple bowls of boiled potatoes and cabbage. It has to be the best pork that I have ever tasted. It is so moist and flavoursome. The bone marrow may have been an interesting, perhaps one off experience but the whole pig is something you wish you could repeat on a weekly basis.

The desserts on offer reflect the simplicity and honesty with which all the dishes at St. John Restaurant can be characterised by. A huge slab of dense chocolate terrine is served with creme fraiche and bloated stewed prunes. The terrine is ridiculously rich and even the serious chocoholics at the table struggle to finish it but I don’t hear any complaints from them. A big platter of assorted cheeses served with some crisp bread and raisin bread is the perfect way to end the meal.

St. John Restaurant has just been awarded its first Michelin star and there has been some debate over this award. Sure the white tablecloths at St. John Restaurant are covered with paper and the typical Michelin fare of amuse bouches and palate cleansers are thin on the ground. However, the food at St. John Restaurant has created an impact around the world and brought a particular type of British cooking back into prominence. Judging by our feast of pig it is a Michelin star that is well overdue.

Details: 26 St John Street, Smithfield EC1M 4AY, (Ph 020 7251 0848)
Damage: Pricey
Rating:  9/10

You may also be interested in reading about my meal at Hereford Road in Notting Hill which is run by one of Fergus Henderson’s proteges. If you are in the area and not in the mood for offal try Vinoteca for great wine and simple dishes directly across the road from St. John Restaurant.

Editors Pick from Jennifer at Playgroups are No Place for Children:   Most people, even those who know me well, do not know of my secret desire to travel and eat local, exotic, gourmet foods.  That’s why this post about St. John’s Restaurant from Gourmet Chick truly spoke my private language.   Gourmet Chick is an Australian girl living, eating, and documenting her culinary adventures.  Her blog also features her adventures outside of London, as well as her recipes.  For those whose only choice in their quest to be a foodie traveler is to live vicariously through others, then you’ll adore her blog.  Please subscribe to Gourmet Chick and follow her on Twitter so you’ll never miss another of her adventures.

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It may be hard to pronounce, but it’s delicious to eat!

Food Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally Posted at Chaos in the Kitchen}

We don’t make many casseroles in the Chaos household. I have nothing against them but the kids don’t eat well when their food is all mixed up together. This is one of the few casseroles that I do make. It is like a lasagna in that it is not a quick, one dish meal-it requires making different things then assembling the final dish, but it isn’t difficult and it makes a TON. I usually take the opportunity to divide this into two smaller casseroles then I store one in the freezer for another night. The great thing is leftovers are just as wonderful, and you will have plenty of them.


This is another Greek dish that I cannot vouch for its authenticity. I will tell you though not to freak out about the cinnamon stick. It is not like putting ground cinnamon in the dish-please don’t do that!-it just imparts a subtle warm, richness to the beef. Honestly I can’t taste it at all, the meat just tastes meatier. Daddy Chaos says he can taste it but not enough to freak him out, he told the kids it was Christmas meat.

I love pastitsio. The meat sauce is flavorful and rich and the bechamel covered noodles are light and creamy. The edges get chewy and browned-a requirement for any good casserole. Try this for the first time on a chilly weekend when cooking and baking seem like the perfect afternoon activity and I promise you’ll be hooked after the first bite.

Pastitsio

serves 12, prep 1 hour, cook time 2 hours

Meat Sauce

Pasta

Bechamel Sauce

  1. Prepare meat sauce first. Heat oil in a large skillet and add onion. Cook until softened and add garlic.
  2. Add meat and cook until browned, breaking up chunks with a wooden spoon. Add remaining meat sauce ingredients, mix and simmer one hour, covered.
  3. While meat sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to boil then salt generously and add pasta.
  4. Cook pasta to al dente, drain and return to the cooled pot. With the heat off, stir in butter, milk, eggs and cheese. Set aside.
  5. Prepare bechamel sauce by melting butter over medium high heat in a large sauce pan or medium pot. Whisk in flour and cook for several minutes, whisking smooth, do not allow the roux to scorch.
  6. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly until thickened. If your milk is cool and sauce seems thin, bring to a boil stirring constantly then remove from heat once thick. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  7. Beat 3 eggs in a medium bowl for bechamel sauce: slowly add sauce to beaten eggs, being careful to keep from curdling the eggs. I usually start by tempering the eggs, that is I dip my whisk in the hot sauce then whisk those drops into the eggs, then continue doing this a few times before attempting to slowly dribble about a 1/4 cup of sauce into the bowl.  Once you’ve gotten about that much successfully incorporated, you can go ahead and slowly add the rest.
  8. Remove the cinnamon stick from the meat, allow sauce to cool slightly and prepare casserole dishes.
  9. Grease a large lasagna pan or two medium casserole dishes with oil then construct pastitsio by layering: pasta mixture, meat sauce, more pasta mixture. Finish by covering with bechamel and sprinkling grated Parmesan over the top.
  10. Bake casserole at 350°F for approximately 45 min to 1 hour until bechamel is set and golden. I bake two casseroles and remove one at about 30 minutes. Allow it to cool then cover in plastic wrap then foil and place in the freezer for another dinner.
  11. Once casserole is nicely browned on top, remove from oven and allow to rest 20 minutes.
  12. Clean up kitchen, prepare steamed veggies or salad, then cut pastitsio into squares and serve.

Editor’s pick from Christine at byflutter : Katie over at Chaos in the Kitchen makes the impossible look simple. Her food is delicious, creative leaves me drooling with every post. This post is about a wonderful casserole, Pastitsio. Looking for something to make for 2 or 20? Give this recipe a try. It is gooey and simple enough for kids to enjoy, but is a far cry from the same old mac n cheese. Visit Katie’s wonderful blog, or subscribe here.

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September 1, 2009 | BN Channel Food, Featured 1, Tuesday 2

Can I Send It Back?

Food Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally Featured on Noble Pig}

There’s always that fleeting moment in a restaurant when your wine server brings over the bottle of wine you ordered, drops the cork in front of you and pours you a little splash to taste. At this point everyone at your table, including the server are all waiting for your seal of approval.

Do you always say it’s good? What if you don’t like it? What if you think something is wrong with it? Do you send it back? Would you rather avoid the confrontation and drink the wine you think is flawed because you don’t really know if there is something wrong or not?

Many people have expressed to me their hatred of this moment.

They don’t know what to do with the cork and they don’t know why they are tasting the wine.

Let’s start with the cork. It’s plopped down right in front of you, what should you do with it? Nothing. Just leave it alone, I know it feels like you should fondle it, but you don’t need to.

What’s really important is tasting the wine. It has been given to you to see if the wine is spoiled or “corked.”

So here’s what you do…keep the base of the glass on the table while holding the stem. Gently swirl the glass a couple of times, shooting the wine up the sides of the glass. As the wine drips down the sides it evaporates and gives you more to smell. Really stick your nose in it, giving it a big whiff and then give it a taste.

Do you smell a lovely perfume of fruit and spices? If you don’t and what you do smell is a musty aroma reminiscent of damp newspapers and a mildew stench, you can almost guarantee your bottle is “corked”, the world’s most prevalent wine flaw.

When a wine is officially “corked” technically it means a chemical known as TCA (2,4,6-trichloranisole) has gotten into the bottle as a byproduct of mold in the cork or the winery. It kind of smells like a wet dog that has rolled itself up in a mildew blanket. Yummy, right? However, sometimes the mildew smell isn’t prevalent and the wine aromas and flavors are just dead, completely masked by the TCA. This is when a corked wine is harder to spot.

But as soon as you suspect a flaw in your wine, DO let your server know.

Sometimes it’s not noticeable until you are halfway through your first glass. If it is truly flawed, any good waiter or wine steward worth their salt will smell and taste the wine and know you are right. At a reputable restaurant the bottle will be replaced and you will not feel like an idiot. No scene will be made. Sirens will not go off.

The restaurant is reimbursed for all corked bottles so DO NOT FEEL BAD.

And even though modern technology has greatly reduced the amount of flawed wine in the marketplace it still exists. It’s an organic product and flaws will always be possible.

For cork taint, varying sensitivity thresholds exist for everyone, even the experts. I myself am only able to detect it at slightly higher levels. But some can pick up even the slightest trace.

And remember, corkiness is not the only wine flaw. Things like Brettanomyces, volatile acidity, sulfites, sulfides and oxidized wine also occur.

So go with your gut, if you think a wine is spoiled ask the opinion of the wait staff or restaurant management. A reputable restaurant will smoothly take the bottle back if found flawed.

But do remember, spoiled wine is the only reason you get to reject a bottle. Not liking what you ordered does not warrant an excuse to send the wine back. You are stuck with it at this point. This is why it’s a great idea to ask for help when selecting something to go with your meal.

Editor’s Pick by Samantha of Samanthics: What do I want out of a food blog? I want someone who would be an approachable diner in any type of restaurant, someone who will happily launch a conversation about pork cheeks because their enthusiasm for food transcends questions from strangers. I want someone who defies haughtiness, someone who has a no-recipe-too-tough attitude, someone who loves food so that they can’t help but think, and consequently, write about it day and night. I am not opposed to beautiful (or even simple) photographs of any type of food.

Enter The Noble Pig into my line of sight. Cathy is a winemaker-to-be, transplanted from California to the Willamette Valley. She talks about how much she eats with no regret – I love her for that – and also because next to pictures of her children on her blog she lists them as Hooligan #1 and Hooligan #2. I have similar hooligans, would-be good behavior a casualty of a food-obsessed life. As far as wine goes, listen up: if you’ve ever found yourself in the awkward situation with a “Something isn’t right about this” wine while dining out, make sure you read the original post, epiphany-like.  Be sure to subscribe to Noble Pig so you don’t miss a moment of her love affair with all things savory.

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this right now

Food Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally Published on Food Loves Writing}

Morning, and the kitchen is quiet, with sunlight streaming across the sink and onto the wood floors, and I pour coffee, grab my lunch, take my keys from the little basket by the door. There will be 20 minutes at least, between me and the office, along expressways of commuters, and I will look at them, talking on their phones, singing with their radios, glancing at their watches, before I park and walk inside, up stairs to my desk, to begin the work day, to talk with my coworkers and double-check spellings at Merriam-Webster and watch the geese fly past my window and onto the roof.

soup

5:30, and I’m getting in my car, like I’ve done so many times, and I’m stopping by the train station, like I do every day, and I’m walking in my front door, and I’m eating dinner, again. It’s spring here—when did spring come? Weren’t we just talking about fall and winter and how I hated the snow? The light lasts longer now, and the days are warmer, rainy. I take it all, eagerly, greedily, like it will never end.

You know, I’m only 26—I find myself throwing the only in there more and more, the way it’s inserted into excuses from guilty children like, I only skipped one homework assignment or I only said that because the other kids did. But as much as I know we are guaranteed nothing, in terms of time, in terms of living, I also know 26 is, usually, not a lot of life to have lived and, usually, it’s not enough time to warrant strong opinions or heavy reminiscing. But I do: I look at the moments around me—the way the grass looks when it’s wet, shiny with dew and fragrant with summer; how my mom makes me laugh when she does, when her mouth closes and her nose widens and her eyes slant, just slightly, as her body shakes, like her mother’s did; the kindness someone shows you when he carries in your bags, so you don’t have to—and I think, I am living this.

This, right here—the morning coffee and the conversation and the drive home in daylight to a cozy evening with a book and blankets—this is life, and it’s a gift, and I am living this.

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Sunday night, for my brother, I made this soup. He helped me remove shells from pistachios, unpopping their hard, tan skins and piling their green and purple bodies into a measuring cup, which reminded me of the biscotti I made, almost three years ago for a wedding, when my dad and I shelled bags of pistachios like clockwork on the sofa, for hours. And I chopped an onion and some celery and a clove of garlic, softening them all with a half a stick of butter in a big pot on the stove, and the smell was intoxicating, like music, buttery and fresh and sweet, the scent of Thanksgiving stuffing or a warm night at my grandma’s house. And we ate it, this creamy nutty soup, he and I, while we laughed about something I don’t remember now, in a way that’s everyday and not at all, and it was good.

Cream of Pistachio Soup

Adapted from CDKitchen.com

I have decided, now that it’s ending, that the redeeming part of winter is, without a doubt, soup. This version is pure creamy, savory comfort, with the taste of pistachios and just a tiny bit of crunch from the crushed nuts you sprinkle on top. It’s hot and soothing. It’s milky and nutty. It’s a nice way to spend an evening, especially with people you care about.

As far as the recipe proper, my biggest suggestion regards the broth. I was out, so I used bouillon cubes to make my own, and, although this worked, it made the results a little saltier than I’d prefer. Next time, I’d use a low-sodium broth from a can and just add salt to taste. Play with it, though. Let me know what works for you.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons dry sherry
6 cups regular-strength chicken broth (or 1 49.5-ounce can of chicken broth)
1/4 cup cooked white rice
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 cup heavy cream
Whole chives

Directions:
Rub off as much of the pistachio skins as possible, set nuts aside. In a large pan over medium heat, cook the onion, celery and garlic in the butter until onion is very limp but not brown, about 10 minutes, stirring often.

Add sherry, 3/4 cup of the pistachios, broth, rice and parsley. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender to bite, about 25 minutes. In a blender or food processor (or using a stick blender), whirl soup, a portion at a time, until very smooth, pour through a wire strainer and discard residue. Return soup to pan.

Add cream to soup and stir over medium-low heat until hot, 5 to 7 minutes. Garnish servings with whole chives and sprinkle with the remaining pistachios.

Editor’s Pick from Samantha at Samanthics: She had me at dry sherry, but writer and self-taught chef Shannalee T’Koy, the blogger behind Food Loves Writing, plays upon both food and writing like sweet and savory. In Shanna’s self-described “literary food blog”, she “talks about food to talk about everything else, so that things make sense.” Food is her medium. I find that a beautiful way to communicate. Her blog is delicate but piercing. A love of eating, cooking and writing converge in her blog, expressed with awareness of all things around her. Her blend of everyday ingredients with astute observations results in a very filling meal. If you’re hungry for more, slice into the original post, or subscribe so you needn’t skip a meal.

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