In celebration of Kendall’s birthday and the second season premier of Girls- we gathered at kitchen 43 to mush up all the colorful berries we bought from Earth Fare. We learned about the loveliness of superfine sugar and how it really does dissolve better than regular old sugar. The black pepper was a nice touch along with the lime garnishes, tequila and club soda. It was beautiful to make and tasted pretty good too! We quickly ran out of tequila and added whatever was around. It all tasted pretty darn good and was perfectly paired with a birthday cake (we bought one), a quick birthday song and a room full of awesome ladies hanging out.
We decided to meet on a Sunday morning and eat breakfast while making some extra granola to get us through the week.
Most of the ingredients, Lindsay W. got from Trader Joe’s, so we just needed a few things from Earth Fare. We bought dried tart cherries instead of just dried cherries and it gave the granola an interesting tartness that may or may not have been called for in the recipe.
For the latkes (which none of us had properly had before I think), we used a box grater to shred the potato. When the time came to wring out the moisture, I thought again, really? Is that necessary? But it absolutely was. We were surprised to see how much liquid came out of those potatoes. The end result was a latke that was near perfection in my book. The slightly sweet taste of the onion, the finely shredded potato and the egg mixture that held it all together made it so much better than the regular potato pancakes I make several times a week as a meal. We opted to top our latkes with an egg like Deb Perelman has in the picture.It doesn’t list chives as an ingredient, but it’s in the picture. Having the egg as a topper made it a meal, without it, the latkes (as tasty as they were) would have left us wanting a little something more.
We doubled the recipe for the granola so we could have something delightful to eat in the morning the next week. We learned all about wheat germ, what it is and how to use it because the recipe calls for it to be included. We used several baking sheets in the oven and what came out was a nice, crunchy granola sprinkled with coconut, cherries, walnuts and salt. It wasn’t chewy and didn’t clump together like Deb’s does in the picture, but we were still happy with our homemade granola.
December 14, 2012 7PM-10PM
Cooking Adventure Numero Dos- For this Friday night, we met over at Apartment Z and picked out a tough looking recipe- the pot pies. We chose a light salad to go with it and to get our blue cheese recipe out of the way! All three of us pretty much loathe blue cheese, but since we are following the recipes exactly as they are written, we are not allowing for any substitutions for the first time around. None of us actually cook this way in our real lives, and we thought we’d learn a lot by sticking to what is written.
We headed to Earth Fare and split up into sections- dairy, veggies and starches. We gathered around the cheese counter at Earth Fare and asked lots of questions- which blue cheese is the least blue? Are there any that don’t taste like mold? etc, etc. The lady behind the counter asked a great question- if none of you like blue cheese, then why are you buying it? We told her about our challenge- to cook through an entire cookbook following each recipe exactly as it’s written.
We got to the counter and split the receipt three ways. The total was $55.74 (we also bought a bag of chips to munch for the ride home). The last recipe was about the same amount and since we made two each time, I estimate each recipe costs $10-$20 to make, not including the basics that most people would already have in their fridge. Both of these recipes included pancetta, so there were a few things that overlapped and a few things we used from our pantries (flour, vinegar, eggs).
When we got back to the apartment, we read through the recipes and realized we needed to dough for the pot pies to chill for an hour, so Lindsay W. made those first. I worked on browning the pancetta (for the top of the salad and for the filling of the pot pies) which was an interesting experience since I had not eaten meat in a long time. Lindsay H. worked on the filling for the pot pies which smelled so good, we were (maybe it was just me) tempted to stop right there and eat that soup-like goodness that paired perfectly with the red wine we sipped on as we chopped,stirred and mixed.
As the pot pies went into the oven, we assembled and ate the salad. None of us are particularly fans of Iceberg lettuce, you know how we feel about blue cheese and anything in the onion family makes my mouth burn for hours (there were chives as a garnish). Nevertheless, we were brave and ate something none of us would normally cook or order off a menu. We were pleasantly surprised. The Point Reyes blue cheese we got wasn’t very strong (although some bites still made the hair on our arms stand up if we got a big chunk) and the way the dressing slid in between the layers of the crunchy lettuce was really good. The browned pancetta on top added texture and saltiness to the creamy dressing and cheese. We ate more than we thought we would have and even went for seconds.
Finally, the pot pies were ready. They came out of the oven looking so pro! Even better, the taste was incredibly amazing. The vinegar in the topping was the perfect compliment to the richness of the broth awaiting inside our bowls. It was fun to eat, beautiful to make and so filling.
November 30th, 2012 5PM-7PM
Our first one! The Smitten Kitchen gals met at the Notso Hostel kitchen to pick our first recipe and head to the store for ingredients. We had a Brian Regan concert to attend in North Charleston at 7:30- so we were on a time crunch! Since we were all carpooling to the comedy show and had invited some guests over beforehand to taste our first following-a-recipe-exactly-as-written experiment, we choose a hearty meal (it was chilly that night) and an appetizer to add to the menu.
Corn Risotto-Stuffed Poblanos & Avocado Tartine with Cucumber and Sesame Seeds
We delegated the different tasks- Lindsay W. to make the risotto, Vikki to blister the poblanos and Lindsay H. was working on the Avocado Tartine. It was our first time making risotto and we learned that the key is to add the broth slowly, that’s how all the starchy goodness from the rice is released and combines to make the delicious texture that is risotto. We were very proud. We had a gas burner so it was easy to blister the peppers and after they cooled, the skin peeled right off. Blistering them gave the meal a smoky flavor that added all the other ingredients: corn, onion, garlic, beer, cheese, sour cream and cilantro. The sour cream drizzle on top was excellent. When I saw the instructions to whisk in milk I thought (as I do most times I am following directions- do I really have to do that?) The answer is yes, because it was that much more awesome than just plopping on dollops of sour cream onto the stuffed peppers. The crumbled queso never really softened and stayed true to form, even after going into the oven. I was grateful there was shredded Monterey Jack cheese in the risotto to fix my cheesy-starchy aching that tends to come out on cold(ish) winter nights.
The last sentence of the recipe says, “Eat them while they’re hot” and I agree. We had an lovely quick dinner party, all of us sitting on the floor around a coffee table and drinking wine and the leftover beer from the recipe (it won’t stay good in the fridge!). Whoever hosts the kitchen for the recipe gets to keep leftovers and so I enjoyed the extra poblanos the next day- but they really are the best when they come right out of the oven.
The avocado tartine was a yummy addition to the meal and went so well with the peppers. If you have a cat’s tongue when it comes to spicy foods, the poblanos may be too much. The avocado cooled off the spiciness and the cucumber tossed in the rice vinegar was what made this better than your average avocado toast. When we bit into the baguettes, half of the topping tended to spill off onto the plate and the other lucky half landed in our mouths. It was a great start to our cooking adventure.