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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Company Pot Roast: Barefoot Bloggers

We made this pot roast tonight and it was good.  That's about all I can come up with for it, good.  Unfortunately pot roast is just not one of my favorite meals.  It was something we had frequently as a kid growing up, but I never went crazy for it, or begged my mom to make it.  It's a good, hearty, winter meal.  But, as we ate this tonight, I just thought of all the other things I'd rather have made.  I have a google reader filled with starred recipes, a shoe box full of recipes snipped out of magazines, and way, way too many cookbooks and pot roast just doesn't top my list of 'must try' dishes.  Sorry all you pot roast lovers!  It was very good, and I thought the leeks were an interesting addition.  The sauce was very rich and flavorful, we had a ton left over, and will freeze some up to use as an addition to pasta sauce, or in place of the tomatoes in chili maybe.  It was good, just not good enough to take up a place in my regular rotation.

Ina's Company Pot Roast

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Creme Brulee: Barefoot Bloggers

Mmmmmm, creme brulee.  This used to be my favorite dessert to order at a restaurant.  Then, for the first birthday Zach celebrated after we started dating I got him a creme brulee kit from Williams Sonoma, and I haven't ordered it at a restaurant since.  As a good girlfriend, hoping to get the 'perfect presents' for the first birthday we would have in our relationship (about 7 months long at that point), I had heard him mention wanting to make creme brulee several times in passing.  Well, I know you need a torch for that, and it seemed like he just wanted to play with fire, not unlike most boys.  And, the idea of having to go buy a torch just for the kitchen was a bit strange to me, since my dad is a welder.  If we needed a torch, he just went and got one out of his truck.  Torches were used in our house for tasks that other households would simply use matches for.  Pilot light out?  Dad can get his torch.  Need a candle lit?  Dad can get his torch.  Electric go out and the lanterns need to be lit, Dad got his, well, you get the picture.  But, as I thought more about it I realized, buying a creme brulee kit for my boyfriend meant my boyfriend would make creme brulee, and who would help him eat it?  Oh yes, me!  So, it's now what Zach refers to as the original 'self-serving gift' of our relationship.  :-)

We've always mainly stuck to the recipe that came with the kit from Williams Sonoma.  But, this Ina recipe gave us a chance to try a new one.  It was very yummy.  I added Amaretto instead of the Grand Marnier that the recipe called for.  I just prefer the flavor.  Our usual recipe uses real vanilla beans and steeps the beans in the cream, so this one was a bit simpler, and just as good.  We found a keeper!

Ina's Creme Brulee

Cheese Souffle: Barefoot Bloggers

I made one change to this recipe, the type of cheese.  Neither Zach or I like blue cheese, not at all.  So, I read through the reviews of the recipe, and also looked up an alternate recipe and subsequent reviews for a cheese souffle from one of my other favorite Food Network personalities, Alton Brown.  From these sources I got the idea to change the cheese to Emmanteler.  I gotta say, I did not love this recipe.  I am glad I made it, since souffles are one of those things that you hear about being tough to master, but I didn't think it was hard to make at all, I just did not like the texture for this type of savory flavor.  I will try a chocolate souffle sometime in the future, but probably not a cheese one again.  It just wasn't that appealing to me.

Ina's Blue Cheese Souffle

November/December Cookbook of the Month

So, I've been a bad blogger, a very bad blogger.  November has been a crazy month, and we haven't even hit Thanksgiving yet!  I had two weeks at work where I had to stay each night, and if I stay late, the traffic increases and my evening commute lengthens from just over an hour to almost two hours.  Yeah, not fun.  So, those nights have been devoid of trying any new recipes and filled with leftovers, frozen pizzas and quick non-recipe meals -- quesadillas, rice and beans, nothing good to really blog about.  I like my entries to be something I tried for the first time, or an old favorite, but I like them all to be actual recipes, not general, anyone-can-throw-this-together-kind-of-food.  Also in November was my birthday - yay!  Which also resulted in a string of meals out at restaurants.  I will blog one of those visits soon, to Vintage 50, which was amazing, but back to the point of this post, we haven't been doing too much blog-worthy cooking lately in our kitchen and it's time to fix that.  Of course I say this as we are about to leave town for Thanksgiving, but since we also tend to do a decent amount of cooking at my parent's house, I'll be sure to take any pictures for new entries.

As a result of the craziness of November, I won't be able to get three recipes out of my cookbook of the month choice, partially because of time, and partially because it was so hard to pick just three!  So, I'm making it a double month book and will try for 5 or so between November and December.  I've chosen The Best Light Recipe, by the fine folks at Cook's Illustrated.  I love their extensive testing of recipes to determine what really is the 'best' version of something.  Also, Zach just got me a subscription to the monthly magazine as part of my birthday present, so look for some of their regular recipes too!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sage Polenta

We planted some sage in our mini herb garden this summer.  We just moved into a new apartment in the middle of August and decided now that we live farther south it would be a decent time to start a pot of herbs.  In Upstate New York we would have only gotten a few weeks before a hard frost would kill the herbs, but in Virginia we're hoping to keep them going until early to mid November.  So, sage was one of the herbs we planted.  Then we were left with tons of sage and not a lot of recipes that use it!  So, this was a result of one of Zach's sage recipe searches.  It was very yummy and a definite keeper recipe!  It would be great as a side dish, or as we used it, in exchange for mashed potatoes as the base of a sauteed sausage, peppers and onions mix.  We left out the roasted corn as we had everything else on hand, and it was fine without it.  Since we used it as a base for the sausage mix I think it was better without it in this purpose, but the roasted corn would be great if you were using the recipe as a straight side dish.

Creamy Polenta with Roasted Corn and Fresh Sage

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 1 hour


  • 2 ears corn
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Grill corn in the husks, or roast in the oven; cut kernels from cob.
  • In a heavy 4-quart saucepan heat oil over medium heat. Stir in garlic and onions; reduce heat to low and cook until onions are translucent.
  • Stir in water and milk and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Slowly stir in cornmeal, whisking thoroughly. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking and burning. Season with salt and pepper; simmer 15 minutes more.
  • When cornmeal is tender, stir in corn, sage and Parmesan cheese. Transfer to a large bowl to serve.

Apple Scones

This is another recipe from the Apple Cookbook.  I've never made scones before and think that these turned out pretty well for my first attempt!  We had Zach's family visiting and I never got to eat one, so I think it's a good sign that they were popular!  The dough was rather wet to work with, so I was a bit nervous, but I think it was a very humid day that caused it.  Hopefully next time I make them I will actually get to taste one!  I actually deviated from the recipe when it came to the cooking method.  It said to cook on a griddle or skillet, but I baked them at 450 for about 20 minutes.  Here's the picture, the scones are on the left :-)

Apple Scones
The Apple Cookbook


1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1/4 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
1 large apple (McIntosh, Golden Delicious are suggested in the book, I used Paula Reds.)


  • Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg into a bowl.  Add the sugar and mix.
  • Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles large crumbs.  Make a well in the center.
  • Beat the egg and yogurt together in a small bowl.  
  • Peel, core and finely chop the apple.  Stir into the yogurt mixture.
  • Pour the yogurt mixture into the center of the dry ingredients and, using a fork, stir to form a soft dough.
  • On a floured surface, pat the dough into a 1/2 inch thick round and cut into 8 triangles.
  • Heat a griddle or heavy skillet over low to medium heat and sprinkle lightly with flour.  Cook the scones triangles for 5 minutes, until they are golden brown on the bottom.  Turn and cook for 4 minutes longer, serve warm.