Friday, November 30, 2012

Bacon Hash ...inspired by Nora Ephron's Heartburn {cook the books}

I loved to cook, so I cooked.  And then cooking became a way of saying I love you.  And then cooking became the easy way of saying I love you.  And then cooking became the only way  of saying I love you.  I was so busy perfecting the peach pie that I wasn't paying attention.  p.135

I get Nora Ephron.  The way she uses food as an expression of love.  The way she can get lost in it without even realizing that that is what she's doing.  Until she does.  Until it hits her in the gut and causes her to send clumsily chopped onions all over her television audience.

Heartburn is a fictionalized account of Ephron's second marriage.  Well, her second marriage leading up to her second divorce.  Her counterpart, Rachel is a cookbook writer who finds out that her husband is in love with another woman when she is seven months pregnant with their second child.

Her use of food and humor are what have always drawn me to her writing, and somehow, she manages to use both to great advantage in what could be (okay, sort of is) a heart-wrenching tale.  Rachel is torn while trying to decide what to do about her husband (forgive him and beg him to forget "her" or to push him in front of a speeding bus).   And then there is her (totally legit) reasoning about why Thelma (the other woman) will never fit in with their friends like Rachel does (they are all food people...Thelma is not).  And then there's that little thing in her head that, even while grieving, causes her to wonder if every man she interacts with is single (and would make a good husband).
Ephron manages to wind wacky, yet identifiable, emotions throughout a whole story in which nobody wins.  They just make decisions and go on living.

And, knowing me, you've got to expect that there is some food inspiration coming up.  You are no incorrect.  There were several things that I contemplated making.  Things that were mentioned in passing.  Some were even written out in semi-recipe form.  There was a joke about Kreplach which undoubtedly made me want to head into the kitchen to make some.  You know, so that I could be in on it.  But first to find out how to make it.  But that was early on.  My urges changed.  I almost made a good old-fashioned sourcream-smothered cheesecake with a graham cracker crust.  Or maybe something delicious involving capers - if only to prove that no matter what Ephron says, people really DO like capers.

 In the end, I was torn between two of Rachel's (Ephron's??)  favorite comfort foods. For a while, I just could not get the shrimp fried rice with Chinese mustard and ketchup out of my mind.  It was something she loved to eat when "feeling blue".  But what it really came down to was the fact that lately, I've been feeling shitty.  Clogged sinus kind of shitty.  It makes it hard for me to concentrate and really, all I want is something easy.  Easy and soothing.  And that came in the form of another of Rachel's "feeling blue" foods, Bacon Hash.  Because really, how can you go wrong with crispy bacon and potatoes topped off with a runny yolk?  It is pure comfort food.

Bacon Hash

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Keywords: breakfast entree bacon eggs potatoes

Ingredients (varies)
  • bacon
  • cooked potato(es)
  • egg(s)
optional
  • black pepper
  • Tabasco, or other hot sauce
Instructions
This is one of those non-recipe recipes. Use as much or as little as you like to serve as many people as you like.

Cut some bacon into small pieces and start to cook it over a slow flame so that some of the fat is rendered. Add some diced, cooked potato and cook slowly until the potato and bacon are crisp and golden.

Eat with an egg. And black pepper and Tabasco, if you wish. And a cup of good coffee.

adapted from Heartburn
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This round of Cook the Books is being hosted by Simona of Briciole.  You have until December 3rd to get your entry over to her if you'd like to participate.  I will be hosting our next selection, to be due January 28th, The Hunger Games.  I hope you join us!

I am sharing this post with:
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related posts...

Fizzy Lifting Drinks . . . inspired by Charlie & the Chocolate Factory {cook the books}

Mussels in White Wine & Fennel . . . inspired by Lunch in Paris {cook the books}

Pozole Rojo . . . inspired by The School of Essential Ingredients {cook the books}

Fruit & Grains Salad w/ Edible Flowers . . . inspired by Garden Spells {cook the books}

Midnight Breakfast Skillet

Corned Beef Hash

Warm Bacon and Egg Salad


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Beurre Blanc ...inspired by Julie & Julia {food 'n flix}

So I'm pretty sure that there's not many people... "food people"... out there who haven't seen Julie & Julia.  I watched it pretty much immediately when it came out.  I bought it when it was released on DVD.  And every once in a while, I sit down to watch it.  Or at least parts of it.  My favorite parts happen to be the Julia parts.

Crazy how a tiny little woman like Meryl Streep can nail a tall, boisterous woman like Julia Child so perfectly.  The little glimpse into Julia's life is endearing in every way.  I love how much she loves life.  Paris.  Butter.  Cooking.  Brie.  Eating.  She loves it all!  It's infectious.  If I didn't already feel the same way, I'd be a food-lovin' convert.
The Julie part.  Meh.  I mean, I like Amy Adams...but I just don't see her as Julie Powell.  She so sweet and mousy.  Julie is known for being foul-mouthed and... well... less nice?  Less meek?  Something.  I mean, Julie is who she is.  But Adams is not who she is.  Feel me?  Anyhoo.

I have to identify with the food blogger aspect.  The urgency to not leave people...readers (if there is actually anybody out there) hanging.  The need to complete what she started with her Julia project.  The glory that is a perfectly golden roast chicken.  And maybe my favorite Julie-scene, bringing the best-ever chocolate cake to the table and diving in with an appreciative husband.  With reckless abandon.
So.  Picking a recipe inspired by this flick was pretty simple.  I mean...hard...but simple.  Let me set the scene.  Julia's sister Dorothy had just come to visit Julia and Paul in Paris.  After picking her up from the station, they go to a restaurant.  They're eating Brie (while ooohing and aaahhing about how it's the BEST cheese ever) and drinking red wine.  Julia and Dort are chatting excitedly like sisters who were close and hadn't seen each other in a while...

Julia (excitedly): I got the chef at Chez la Mère Michel to give me the recipe for beurre blanc.

Dorothy (in a cute, whimsical Dort sort of way): Beurre blanc. What's beurre blanc?

Julia: Butter in a white wine vinegar reduction.

Dorothy (chewing and nodding): Mmmm...

Julia: You whisk them together... and the acid in the vinegar works on the milk solids in the butter so that the butter, instead of melting, becomes this creamy, light, frothy... with, with a kind of, a fantastic... subtle kind of...

Paul (suave): Tangy.  It has a tanginess.

Julia (knowing wonder): Tanginess...

Paul: Yes.

Julia (in splendor): Well, that's... that's who I married.  Anyway, you serve it on fish and it is splendid.  I'm going to make it for you.

And well, if you know me at all, you know my affection for French sauces.  Especially French butter sauces. Ummm... Hollandaise.  Béarnaise.  And much like those sauces, I don't make Beurre Blanc often.  I actually think I've only made it two or three times in the last 5 years.  It's another one of those that I made alot while working in restaurants.  But not much at home.  I'm gonna go ahead and say that's a good thing.  It's so much better to bathe in the creamy, rich, tangy glory sporadically.

Keeps it special, ya know?

Beurre Blanc

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5-10 minutes
Keywords: sauce butter wine vinegar French

Ingredients (~1 cup)
    reduction
    • 2½ Tbs. white wine vinegar
    • 2½ Tbs. dry white wine (or vermouth or lemon juice)
    • 1 Tbs. minced shallots
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • ⅛ tsp. pepper (black or white)
    • 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) butter
    to finish
    • 8 oz. (16 Tbs.) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 16 pieces
    • salt
    • pepper
    • lemon juice
    Instructions
    Place all of the ingredients for the reduction into a 6-cup medium-weight saucepan and bring to a boil until reduced to a syrupy consistency (~1½ tablespoons should remain). This won't take long once it starts boiling.

    Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately beat in 2 pieces of the chilled butter. As it softens and creams in the liquid, beat in another piece. Set the saucepan over very low heat and, beating constantly, continue to add the butter, one piece at a time, once the previous piece is almost entirely absorbed.
    The sauce should be thick and ivory-colored, about the consistency of a light hollandaise.

    Immediately remove from heat as soon as all the butter has been added. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, and/or lemon juice.

    note:
    I love Beurre Blanc best served over fish (like the White Bass seared in Brown Butter with Haricot Verts pictured), but it's also wonderful over veggies, veal, or chicken.

    ever-so-slightly adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
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    Food‘nFlix Food 'n Flix is being hosted by Leslie from La Cocina de Leslie this month with her pick, Julie & Julia. Today is the deadline...I'm sliding in just under the wire this month.

     Next month we'll be watching (the original) Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (hosted at WellDined). Plus, we're getting an early start on January's flick, The Hunger Games which I will be hosting in conjunction with Cook the Books (that's why it's an exciting 2-month special edition!). So, if you're a fan...or want to be...pick up the book and start reading and then watch the film and do a post inspired by both. I hope you join us!

    p.s...there are still a few food 'n flix hosting slots open in the second half of 2013.  If you're interested, shoot me an email with your movie choice and the month you prefer (click HERE to see open spots and previously viewed flicks), and I will add you to the schedule.




    related posts...

    50 Women Game-Changers in Food #1: Julia Child- Hollandaise

    Sauce Bearnaise + my FAVORITE meal

    50 Women Game-Changers in Food #50: Julie Powell - "Home at Last" Chicken

    Salmon en Papillote #CookforJulia

    Julia Childs French Bread: Batards

    Cake Batter Martini . . . inspired by Because I Said So {food n flix}

    Noodle Soup . . . inspired by The Ramen Girl {food n flix}


    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    Buttery Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls

    Sometimes I see something and immediately know that it will be in my kitchen in a matter of days.  Maybe even hours.  That was exactly the case when I saw these rolls over at Karen's place.  I knew without a shadow of a doubt that my family would love them.  I knew they should make their way onto my Thanksgiving menu.  So they did.

    They were touted everything from "awesome", to "the best", to "mmmmm".  And then I was told I should have made two batches.  Also, they must be on the menu every year from here on out.

    See.  I know what they like.
    The thing is, these rolls are the perfect accompaniment to any meal.  Gorgeously burnished with butter.  Soft and fluffy.  Plus, if you cut them in half and layer some leftovers inside - they make a great sandwich roll!

    Buttery Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls

    by Heather Schmitt-González
    Prep Time: 1½ - 2½ hours (largely unatt
    Cook Time: 24 minutes
    Keywords: bake bread Christmas Easter Thanksgiving American

    Ingredients (16 rolls)
      dough:
      • ⅔ c. lukewarm water (100°-110° F)
      • ½ c. lukewarm milk
      • 2 oz. (56 g / 4 Tbs. / ½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
      • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
      • 1½ tsp. fine sea salt
      • ¾ oz. (21 g) instant potato flakes
      • ¾ oz. (21 g) nonfat dry milk
      • 14¾ oz. (417 g) bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
      • 7 g (~2¼ tsp.) instant yeast
      to finish:
      • ~2 oz. (56 g / 4 Tbs. / ½ stick) salted butter, melted
      Instructions
      in bread machine:
      Place all ingredients into bread machine in order listed (or in order specified in your manufacturers instructions) and press dough cycle.

      in stand mixer:
      Place all of the dough ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer that is fitted with the dough hook attachment. Turn on low until all of the ingredients are just combined. Turn up the speed to medium and knead until you have a soft dough, ~7 minutes.

      by hand:
      Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon or dough whisk until ingredients are all combined and too hard to work with the spoon. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until dough is soft and pliable, ~10 minutes or so.

      next step - mixer or hand kneading:
      Form dough into a ball and place into a well-oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and set aside until doubled, ~60-90 minutes.

      finishing - all methods:
      Turn dough out of machine or bowl onto a lightly floured work surface; press gently to deflate.
      Divide dough into 16 even pieces (~1.8 oz. / ~52 g each) and form them into balls.

      Grease two 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans and then place 8 rolls in each pan, spacing them evenly apart. Cover the pans with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towels and allow to rise at room temperature until the dough is puffy and the individual pieces are touching each other, ~60-90 minutes.
      Preheat oven to 350° F during last 15-20 minutes of rise time.

      Slide both pans into the preheated oven and bake until the rolls are golden and have an internal temperature of 190° F, ~24 minutes.
      Remove pans from oven and generously brush the rolls with melted butter (you might have a little left after brushing). Let sit for 2-3 minutes, and then carefully remove them from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.
      Eat warm or at room temperature. Store, tightly wrapped at room temperature for 2-3 days. Place on a baking tray and reheat for a few minutes if making in advance.

      note:
      You can freeze the partially risen dough in advance, if you like. Allow dough balls to rise about ½-¾ of the way and then slide the pans into the freezer. Once frozen solid, turn the dough out of the pan and slide it into a freezer-safe zippered baggie. The night before you want to bake them, place the frozen dough back into a greased pan, cover the pan with greased plastic wrap, and allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the pan from the refrigerator about an hour or so before you're ready to bake them. Preheat oven and bake as normal.

      adapted from Karen's Kitchen Stories
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      I am sharing this post with:
      Yeastspotting
      BYOB 125 x 125 Tasty Tuesdays 33 shades of green hearthnsoul150


      Monday, November 26, 2012

      Maple-Glazed Acorn Squash w/ Dried Cranberries {12 Weeks of Winter Squash}

      This year, squash took its rightful place at my Thanksgiving table.  I mean really, winter squash just sort of belongs at an autumnal feast, does it not?  Sure, it's always been around in the form of pie.  Or maybe as one component of a salad.  But for reasons unknown, this is the first year that it has earned a serving plate of its own on our table.

      Maybe it's because the sweet potatoes always earned all of the orange-glory.  But really, winter squash comes in more warm shades.  Like yellow.  Okay.  That's just one more shade.  Still.
      This simple, vibrant dish of roasted acorn squash nestled itself very nicely into the fold of things this year.  And earned winter squash its due on all future Thanksgiving menus.

      Maple Glazed Acorn Squash w/ Dried Cranberries

      by Heather Schmitt-González
      Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
      Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
      Keywords: roast side vegetarian soy-free nut-free squash cranberries Thanksgiving Christmas American fall winter

      Ingredients (serves 4)
      • oil or melted butter
      • 2 small to medium acorn squash
      • coarse salt
      • freshly ground black pepper
      • 1½ Tbs. melted butter
      • 2 Tbs. maple syrup
      • 1 Tbs. fresh thyme + a few sprigs for garnish
      • grated zest of 1 orange
      • 2 Tbs. dried cranberries, chopped
      Instructions
      Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

      Cut the ends off of the squash and then slice, crosswise, into ½-inch rounds. Use a biscuit cutter or small, sharp knife to cut the seeds from the center of each slice. Drizzle the slices with a bit of oil or melted butter and season with salt and pepper.

      Set on prepared baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes.

      In the meantime, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the maple syrup, thyme, and orange zest; swirl to combine and remove from heat.

      Remove squash from oven and brush slices evenly with the maple syrup mixture and then scatter the cranberries evenly over the squash slices. Slide back into oven and roast until tender, glazed, and starting to turn golden in parts, 10-15 minutes longer.

      Transfer squash rings to serving plate and garnish with extra thyme sprigs.

      adapted from Thanksgiving: Recipes for a Holiday Meal
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      If you have a few minutes, head on over and visit my 12 Weeks of Winter Squash co-host, Joanne of Eats Well With Others and see what she cooked up in her kitchen with winter squash this week.  And then share with us what you have been doing with winter squash below!



      1. Maple Glazed Acorn Squash w/ Dried Cranberries

      2. Roasted Balsamic Curry Vegetables &FreshCranberrie

      3. Roasted Cinnamon Ginger Delicata Squash

      4. Old fashioned pumpkin pie

      5. Pumpkin Pie Bread Pudding with Bourbon Icing


      Sunday, November 25, 2012

      Italian Sausage & White Bean Bake {#SundaySupper #HelpingHands}

      When you're not right on top of the damage waged by natural disasters, it's easy to let it slip to the back of your mind.  Go on with life as usual.

      I consider myself blessed to have celebrated Thanksgiving in my home with my family while enjoying good food cooked in my kitchen and watching football on television.  For that, and all of the other gifts in my life, I am thankful.

      Not everybody was as fortunate this year.  Many victims of Superstorm Sandy are without their homes...their kitchens...their televisions.  They are thankful for their lives and the lives of their loved ones.  They are strong.  They are rebuilding.  But they could use our help.
      So somewhere in the middle of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, reach into your hearts and reach out with your hands.  Be it in the form of donations - (monetary or otherwise), volunteering your time and/or your labor, or baking a comforting meal for someone in need - reach out and lend a helping hand.

      And while it may seem small in the scope of things, nothing compares to something homemade shows up at your door when you are feeling low.  A gesture.  A dish that warms not only your body, but also your heart and your soul.  This comforting casserole is full of warmth from the creamy white beans to the sweet Italian sausage to the scent of the herbs mingling with both in the steam that makes its way through the crispy bread crumb topping.  Deliver it to the door of somebody who needs it...maybe take along a green salad, a bottle of white wine, and a pan of brownies for a complete meal.

      Italian Sausage and White Bean Bake

      by Heather Schmitt-González
      Prep Time: 15 minutes
      Cook Time: ~50 minutes
      Keywords: bake entree beans bread sausage fall winter

      Ingredients (serves 8)
      • 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
      • 1½ lb. sweet Italian sausage
      • 3 leeks (white & light green parts), halved lengthwise & sliced into half moons
      • 2 carrots, sliced about same size as leeks
      • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
      • ½ c. white wine
      • 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
      • 2 (15 oz.) cans cannellini or great northern beans, drained & rinsed
      • small handful fresh parsley, chopped
      • leaves stripped from a few sprigs fresh thyme
      • ~10 fresh sage leaves, chopped
      • ¼ tsp. salt
      • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
      • 2 c. bread crumbs (fresh or dry, fine or coarse, or a mix)
      Instructions
      Preheat oven to 375° F.

      Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large deep-sided pan over medium-high heat. Push the Italian sausage out of its casings in little bits the size of tiny meatballs (or, if you sausage is bulk, add it to the pan as is and break up with a wooden spoon). Cook, stirring often, until sausage is browned, 8-10 minutes.

      Add leeks and carrots to the pan and continue to sauté for another 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes longer. Add the wine and let it cook for 1 more minute. Dump in the tomatoes with their juices and bring to a boil. Tip in the beans, fresh herbs, salt, and pepper; stir to combine. Transfer mixture to a baking dish that has been coated lightly with cooking spray.
      Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and then sprinkle it evenly over the whole thing. Slide into preheated oven and bake until the bread crumbs are golden and crispy and the mixture is bubbling around the edges, ~30 minutes.

      Serve warm or hot. Wrap leftovers well and refrigerate; equally delicious (if not more so) the next day.

      adapted from The Good Neighbor Cookbook
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      This week’s Sunday Supper is hosted by Liz from That Skinny Chick Can Bake and we are lending helping hands to those affected by Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast.

      Feeling inspired?  Join us Around the Family Table for Sunday Supper and let’s make a difference in the lives of others.  Our #SundaySupper this week is all about #HelpingHands to those that need our help.

      Breakfast and Brunch
        Comforting Casseroles and Entrees
          Warming Soups and Sides
          Sweet Endings
          Please join us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper.  In the evening we will meet at 7pm EST for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat.

          All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.

          We’d also love to feature your Helping Hands -type dishes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers, too.  So tell me - what do you like to cook or bake and bring to those in need of some comfort?  I'd love to hear what you make, I'm always looking for inspiration.  Feel free to leave the link to any in the comments.  Also, if you are looking for a way to make a monetary donation and aren't sure where to go, you can click on one of the two buttons directly below and perhaps help either Hope Force International or New Jersey Relief Fund.
          Sundaysupper-clear