Monthly Archives: June 2014

Veal Bolognese

Bryan and I had our first “married” Christmas this year. For Christmas Eve, I wanted to make a special dinner for us, one that would pair well with a fantastic red wine and would fill our house with a delicious, wintry dinner aroma.
Since Bryan is half-Italian and he was spending his first Christmas with me down in L.A., I looked through my favorite Italian cookbook: Giada de LaurentiisEveryday Italian. I found her recipe for Bolognese, which I had made before to my husband’s great delight. While her recipe calls for ground beef, I find the flavor too heavy and instead decided to make it with veal. So our Christmas Eve dinner was settled: Veal Bolognese with Pappardelle Noodles. It was an absolutely wonderful dinner, and even better on Christmas night when I re-purposed the sauce for chicken sausage ravioli. Seriously delicious.
Veal Bolognese

Here’s how you make the Veal Bolognese:
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 celery stalks, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and minced
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 8 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 package Pappardelle (flat+wide) noodles

In a large skillet, heat the oil over a medium flame. When almost smoking, add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is very tender, about 8 minutes. I actually set my oven timer to help keep my timing on track. Add the celery and carrot and saute for 5 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the ground veal, and saute until the meat is no longer pink, breaking up any large lumps, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley, basil and 1/2 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper, and cook over medium-low until the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Stir in the cheese, then season with more salt and pepper to taste. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over a medium flame before using.

In a separate pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and drizzle of olive oil to the water (the salt will help season the pasta and the oil will prevent it from sticking together). Drop in the Pappardelle noodles and stir consistently to keep the noodles from sticking to one another. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 6-8 minutes. Drain the noodles, reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid. Add the liquid to the Bolognese and bring to a simmer, helping to thicken the sauce even more.
Place the noodles in a serving bowl. Top with your desired amount of Bolognese and gently toss until the noodles are coated. Top with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese and serve. Enjoy!

I Need Some Comfort. Food.

As many of you may know from reading my other blog, An Inconvenient Tumor, my husband, Bryan, was diagnosed with a brain tumor last April. It’s been a long eight months filled with fear, determination and hope. Bryan has fought through radiation and several rounds of chemotherapy, and the tumor has shrunk by more than half (great news!). He’s doing really well but during his chemotherapy weeks, e.g. right now, he’s exhausted. He sleeps about twelve hours per night and several hours during the day, leaving me with lots of time on my hands.

This whole period has forced me to re-evaluate what is important in my life and understand what I truly love. Because doing the things that I love gives me comfort, and being comforted helps me recharge my emotional and physical batteries. Hence starting this blog.

I’ve found great comfort in food, and most recently, in baking. Over the past few weeks I’ve been a baking maniac, whipping up dozens of cookies, brownies and as of last night, pumpkin cupcakes. I always start with a base recipe and then make it my own, because frankly it’s more fun that way and I love to experiment with ingredients and flavors. So that’s just what I did with last night’s pumpkin cupcakes. Pumpkin is seriously one of my all time favorite flavors, so when Fall arrives and I start to see fresh and canned pumpkin lining grocery store shelves, I squeal with delight and start to clap. It doesn’t matter who sees me; it’s my little cheer to “welcome” the amazing fall flavors.

Here’s the pumpkin cupcake recipe:

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup salted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree (I used Libby’s but you can use Trader Joes brand, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and the spices. In another bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and eggs. Add dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Then whisk in pumpkin puree.

Line the cupcake pan with liners and fill each about halfway with batter. To avoid mess, I scooped all the batter into a gallon Ziploc bag, cut off the corner and essentially piped the batter into each cup liner. Bake until tops spring back when touched and a cake tester comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes (I did 23 minutes). Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely before icing.

Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer or a whisk (a whisk can be tough on your hand, watch out!). With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract and you’ve got yourself gorgeous, delicious buttercream icing. If you want to keep it simple, you can always use a simple spoon or knife to apply the frosting to each cupcake. However, to jazz it up, use a piping bag with a decorative tip to create a flower, zig zag or other fun pattern. Add even more personality and flair with colorful cupcake liners, sanding sugar or candy!

Breakfast Brilliance: Make Ahead Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Make Ahead Breakfast; Oatmeal in Jars
Photo: TheKitchn

Let’s talk about breakfast. Who doesn’t love a hearty, satisfying, delicious start to their day? Look up steel cut oatmeal in the dictionary and “hearty, satisfying and delicious” might as well be the definition. The one word that won’t be there, however, is fast.

Steel cut oatmeal — while wonderful — is a chore to make, taking the better part of an hour to cook in a boiling water bath. Which is why I was so excited when I came across a brilliant breakfast idea at The Kitchn: make-ahead steel cut oatmeal in jars. Basically, it’s a week’s worth of breakfast in one Sunday night swoop.
Here’s the Sunday night scoop (or whatever night marks the “beginning” of your week): Put five servings of steel-cut oats in a pot of water, bring to a boil, then cover and turn off the heat. Let the oats sit overnight and they’ll be perfectly creamy and tender in the morning. 
Divide the oats and water among five jars and every morning, grab ’em when you’re on the go. Give the oats a few minutes in the microwave, mix in your favorite toppings — I go for fresh berries, a drizzle of honey and splash of non-fat milk — and enjoy an incredible start to your day. Breakfast brilliance, no? 

May The Forks Be With You: Star Wars-Inspired Foods

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or on another planet), you’ve heard of George Lucas’ film phenomenon, Star Wars. I mean, I’m the farthest thing from a Star Wars fan, but even I know that the film has become so ingrained in American culture that the quote, “May the force be with you” is as well-known as “Four score and seven years ago.” Recently I’ve come across a few Star Wars-inspired foods that even I’ll admit are pretty awesome. My personal favorite, which is what inspired this post are the Williams-Sonoma Star Wars cookie cutters and pancake molds. My husband will definitely be getting some Star Wars cookies for his birthday. There’s also a Yoda pizza, R2-D2 cookies and a Tauntaun wedding cake. While they’re fun, I really have to ask: what the hell is a Tauntaun, anyway? From the photo below, I don’t think I want to know…

Williams-Sonoma Cookie Cutters

Williams-Sonoma Pancake Molds

Yoda Pizza

Source: Geekologie.com
R2-D2 Cookies

Source: BakeAt350.com
AT-AT Wedding Cake

Source: StarWarsBlog.com
Dead Tauntaun Cake
(Totally gross to anyone who’s not a huge Star Wars fan)
Source: StarWarsBlog.com

Dead Tautaun Cake, Part 2

Source: StarWarsBlog.com

1980 Star Wars Collector’s Edition Corn Flakes

Source: StarWars.com

Kobe Beef Sliders From…A Catalogue?

It’s that time of year again; when your mailbox gets stuffed to the brim with catalogues for everything. Decorations, gifts, furniture, food and much, much more.

I have to admit, when you’re flipping through Williams-Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, Mackenzie Limited and other food-based catalogues, every appetizer, entree and dessert looks amazing. Personally, I’ve never ordered any holiday food from a catalogue, but last week, my grandma did. She ordered a full Christmas dinner with a stuffed turkey, green bean casserole, praline yam casserole, a yule log and coconut cake. But the one item I want to talk about is Mackenzie’s Kobe Beef Sliders. My grandma ordered them as an appetizer and when we opened the box, they were ADORABLE. To me, anyway. To anyone else they were just tiny little frozen burgers. But really, how can you not consider itty-bitty burgers topped with bacon and cheese to be irresistible?
Here’s what they looked like when they came out of the box:
And after 10 minutes in a convection, here’s the finished product:
So were they worth it? Well, it depends. First, on how strapped for time you are. If you’ve got time to make your own sliders, I say do it. But if you’re strapped for time but perhaps not for cash, then give these a try. They come 18 to a box, have a great flavor and are great to look at. Our only complaint was that the bun was too crunchy from the oven, almost like a cracker rather than a soft, warm burger bun.
So, for the first catalogue Christmas order, it wasn’t bad. Would I rather make it myself and save some dough? Of course. But for anyone with an extra $44.95 to spend and a hankering to have 18 bacon and cheese sliders on hand just in case company stops by, I say go for it. You can’t go wrong with bacon.