February 23, 2010

Fried Fromage D'Affinois with Homemade Strawberry Preserves and Grilled Ciabatta

The following is an excerpt from the Food Lover's Companion, p. 526, describing Fromage D'Affinois, an amazingly soft and delicious cheese. "This French treasure is made from pasteurized cow's milk. The downy-coated rind encloses a soft, smooth, ivory-colored paste, the flavor of which is delicate and creamy with hints of grass and mushrooms. Though Fomager d'Afifinois has 60-percent fat content, it tastes more like a triple-cream cheese because of a special process the milk undergoes." Mixed with the sweetness of the homemade strawberry preserves and the crisp ciabatta, this amazing appetizer is one to make again, and again, and again. Enjoy!

Fromager D’Affinois
1 Egg, flour and bread crumbs for dipping
1 Tbs Vegetable Oil
Arugula for garnish

Ciabatta, thinly sliced and toasted

1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
Juice from 1 lemon
2 cups sugar

1. Add sugar and lemon juice to a sauce pan and bring to medium high heat.
2. When sugar has fully dissolved, add strawberries and sitr until reaching 220 F, then remove from heat.

3. Meanwhile, coat the cheese in the flour, then the egg mixture and repeat.
4. Then, dip the cheese in the breadcrumbs.

5. Add oil to sautee pan, then (when hot), add cheese, gently browning each side

6. Add arugula to top of cheese then plate in 3 distinct sections. As you can see, I had no arugula so I used parsely.

February 18, 2010

Confession of a Teenage Foodie

Ok, I'm not a teenager but the title was too catchy to pass up. Confessions of a middle-aged foodie just doesn't have the same appeal. Yes, middle-aged according to my teenage daughter. Ouch.

I have loved food for as long as I can remember. Never mind that we all have to eat to stay alive. My love for good food goes well beyond the need for regular nourishment and nutrition. I confess - I really love food. If I weren't already taken, in the words of my old elementary school friends, I would marry it. And I don't love food in some sort of gluttonous, overeating way, though if you put a plate of truffles in front of me you better move aside... quickly.

This passion for food started when I was very young as you can see.

I’m 3 1/2 years old in South Africa at an Ice Cream shop called the "Milky Way." I am scarfing down something delicious while my chocolate dipped ice cream cone waits patiently in hand, and the pie and milkshake on my right are also biding their time until I greet them.

This next picture must have been after I saw someone trying to sneak some of said pie and milkshake.

These are the earliest pictures I have of myself. Well, there is that one of me in the tub, but that’s not getting posted here. My love for food continued through my early working years. In fact, almost everywhere I have worked in my life has involved food in one way or another. And Wendy's for the last 11 years - need I say more?

So what is it about food that has melted my heart and seared my soul these many years? I think it has something to do with the incredible variety of tastes and textures and flavors that are out there. I love the way a good steak sizzles as you place it in a hot iron-clad pan. I love the smell in the kitchen when baking Dried Apricot and Almond Scones. I love the gentleness and subtlety of perfectly risen soufflé. I love the way brie melts and combines with jam inside puff pastry. I love the delicate flight of a moist omelet as it flips gracefully in the air like Shaun White on the halfpipe.

Now don't get me wrong. I still love a good bowl of Cap’n Crunchberries on occasion (saving the berries for last of course) but my real love and passion is for all things gourmet. Many people have called me a "Foodie" in the last few years and I've thought a lot about that. Am I really a foodie? After extensive research into the batter, I mean matter, I have created a Foodie Awareness Quiz. Here are 20 questions to help you determine if you're a foodie.

1. If you know the difference between a trifle and a parfait, you’re a foodie.
2. If you’ve ever made choux pastry or profiteroles, you’re a foodie.
3. If you think a microplaner is a small aircraft, you're not a foodie.
4. If you take pictures of your food at restaurants before you eat, despite how many strange looks you get (especially from your spouse and children), you’re a foodie.
5. If you are ok adding cheese to any kind of seafood, you're not a foodie.
6. If you have ever talked about “flavor profiles," you’re a foodie.
7. If you regularly ask your waiter for the recipe to the meal you just ate, you’re a foodie.
8. If you ask how many calories or carbs are in your food, you're not a foodie.
9. If you’re looking through pictures from your last dinner party and there are no pictures of the people who came – only pictures of the food, you’re a foodie.
10. If you have an insatiable desire for hollandaise made from scratch, you’re a foodie.
11. If you think that "clarifying" butter means speaking about butter more clearly, you're not a foodie.
12. If someone mentions "notes" at dinner and you think they're talking about the background music, you're not a foodie.
13. If you own any Silpat, you’re a foodie.
14. If you think that Sur La Table or Williams Sonoma are furniture or clothing stores, you're not a foodie.
15. If your son asks for his own Brie en Croute for his birthday instead of a cake, you're a foodie.
16. If your DVR is full because of food related programming, you're a foodie.
17. If you think that julienne, chiffonade, batonnet, brunoise, and tronchette are french cities, you're not a foodie.
18. If you cringe at using ground nutmeg instead of fresh-grated, you're a foodie.
19. If you could spend an hour browsing through cheeses at Whole Foods, you're a foodie.
20. And lastly, if your family regularly asks "Can't we just eat something normal tonight?" you're a foodie.

How did you do? Are you a foodie? If so, I highly recommend you get the book "The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion" by Sharon and Ron Herbst (pictured above.) My sister sent me this amazing reference guide for Christmas and it is now one of my favorite books about cooking. Tired of looking up food related terms on dictionary.com? This book has over 6,700 food related entries. You won't be disappointed.

We'll I'm off now to cook up a dish a la jardiniere or maybe some tournedos rossini. Not sure what those are? They're on pages 232 and 376. See you in the kitchen!

February 15, 2010

Personalized M&M's

When I saw an ad on TV about a month ago for personalized M&M's, I knew it would be the perfect Valentine's gift for Jeni since M&M's have always been her favorite. The process was extremely easy. Basically, you go to the "My M&M" website, upload your pictures and phrases, pick your colors and you're done! You can click on either of the pictures here for a closer view. I wish I had taken a picture of Jeni as she opened them - it was a sight to see. Very fun and very memorable. Happy Valentine's Day Jeni - I love you!

February 03, 2010

Kara's Dinner Party

Last week I had the privilege of cooking up a 6 course meal for Jeni's cousin Kara, her husband Todd and some of their friends and family - 8 people total. It was a really fun night and I enjoyed hosting and cooking and listening to the conversations at the table. Below is the menu from the evening and the picture above was the main course. Thanks Kara and Todd for letting me cook!