Living the Dream

Last week we went to the U.S. Open. It was a dream of my husband’s and although I like golf I think I could have lived without it. The deal was, however, that we would go into East Hampton the next day and hopefully run into Ina Garten. How could I pass up a deal like that?

The golf tournament was ok. It rained, I was soaked, they played on. Blah, blah, blah. I did however see Tiger pull off a good bogey, Bubba walked by and Michelson played very well on the 9th. It wasn’t a bad ending to the day, but certainly there were better things ahead of us. LIKE SATURDAY IN EAST HAMPTON!

Coincidentally, Ina had posted a blog about if we came to East Hampton, here were her favorite places to go. (are you kidding? it was like an invitation to stop by for dinner!) So there I was, with my list, headed to the land of Ina Garten. I would run into her and she would then realize we were destined to be the best of friends. (I might be stretching the truth just a little bit here and although she never responded, I did send her an email inviting her out to dinner).

The first stop (and the best stop) was a little cheese shop in Sag Harbor. It was called Cavaniola’s Gourmet Cheese. I walked in and fell in love. It was so quaint and I knew if I lived closer, I would be there every day. The girls in the shop were so nice and so helpful. We tasted a couple of cheeses I had never had and of course bought some. I ended up buying some of their gourmet items also, much to the chagrin of my husband’s wallet.

I walked in and fell in love. It was so quaint and I knew if I lived closer, I would be there every day. The girls in the shop were so nice and so helpful. We tasted a couple of cheeses I had never had and of course bought some. I ended up buying some of their gourmet items also, much to the chagrin of my husband’s wallet. And as you might have guessed, I asked if Ina really came to the shop. The girls said she came in all the time, was a sweet and as real as anyone. I thought I would hang out for a week or two and wait for her but my husband really wasn’t keen on that idea, so we had to leave.

As I left, I asked them to say “hi” to Ina for me, and told them she just hadn’t realized we’re best friends yet. I’m sure they think I’m some crazy stalker-ish kind of person. I’m not really. I’m just a wanna-be Barefoot Contessa kind of person hoping to run into one of my favorite idols.

And Ina Garten, I’m still waiting and hoping for your phone call.

Practice makes perfect

One of my favorite saying is from Julia Child, “Cooking is one failure after another, and that’s how you finally learn.”  I try new things all the time and sometimes they come out pretty darn good and other times they can be a dismal failure.  But I find the more I do things, the better I am at them.

Such was my semi failure in the kitchen today.

I wanted to make pâte á choux with a Limoncello cream idea.  I have made profiteroles before and they came out okay, so when I saw a step by step in my favorite food magazine I thought I would give it another try.

Everything was going beautifully.  I had all my ingredients ready to go and went step by step.  The water, sugar and butter boiled just like it was supposed to.  I then added the flour and stirred until it pulled away from the sides of the pan, just like it was supposed to.  Then the eggs were added…. and something went wrong.  I apparently missed the part where it said to beat the eggs first, but I beat the eggs in and it seemed to work okay.   According to the directions, this is supposed to be a smooth batter that drips from the spoon in thick ribbons.  Mine?….not so much.   It was a very thick and didn’t drip at all.   I even added an additional egg as it suggested if your batter was too thick.  No drip.  It stuck to the spoon like it was glued.

Well, this is what I found out after the fact that might help you when you make them.  Apparently even though it didn’t say any different, from asking questions, the best way to add the eggs are when they are beaten but also removed from the heat and beaten with a paddle mixer.   Add your eggs one at a time and the true test of the batter being correct,  when you run your finger through it, is the track that your finger created should take approximately 2 seconds to ooze back together.   If it takes longer, add another egg and test it again.  If it takes less time, throw the batter out and start over.  That was helpful advice too little too late, but I hope you have much better luck with it than I did!

So don’t worry if it doesn’t come out right the first time.  Have fun with it and just remember what Julia said and make it again. Chances are, the next time, it will be that much better.

Bon Appétit!!

Practice makes perfect

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 21 minutes
Servings 3 dozen

Ingredients

PATE A CHOUX FROM FOOD AND WINE

  • 1 1 /2 cups water
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 200 grams all purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 8 large eggs

LIMONCELLO CREAM

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 Tablespoons limoncello (you could also substitute lemon zest and juice if you don’t want the liquour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1.  Pre-heat the oven to 400° F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan, combine the water, butter, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a tight dough forms and pulls away from the side of the pan. 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

  1.  In a bowl, beat 7 eggs and add to the dough in four batches, stirring vigorously between additions until the eggs are completely incorporated and the pastry is smooth. (**please note recommendations for adding eggs in post above) The dough should be glossy and very slowly hang, stretch and fall from the spoon in thick ribbons. If necessary, beat in remaining egg.

  2. Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe 1 1/2-inch rounds onto the baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between them.

  3. Bake the choux for 30 minutes until browned and puffed. Let cool completely. Using a serrated knife, halve each puff horizontally. Fill each one with Limoncello cream or filling of your choice.

LIMONCELLO CREAM

  1. Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, heavy cream, Limoncello and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Pipe or spoon filling into Pâte à Choux. You could also add a raspberry or blueberry if desired.

Stuffed Skirt Steak

If my husband was a math equation it would go like this: Peter equals carnivore plus red meat plus steak.   It would also be every day of the week. I am not such a person.  Maybe that’s why I never did well in math?

I’ve talked about this before.  My husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy and i’m more chicken and rice so for us to find a middle ground is not only difficult but a sublime lesson in compromise.  I think we have hit the nail on the head with this recipe.  We both wanted to clean the plate..

I had told him I would have steak for dinner.  I didn’t want to but it had been quite awhile and the cave man was coming out in him.  Peter typically wants a steak he can chew….I want a steak without big chunks of fat.  Our compromise is skirt steak.  I can appreciate the rich buttery taste of the fat without being slapped in the face with it and my husband still has the texture he loves..

I actually got the idea for this recipe from a food show program.  It wasn’t a skirt steak and it wasn’t this stuffing, but it gave me the idea to incorporate what I love into this dish.  I believe that is what cooking is all about….inspiration and taking what you love and making it your own.

This had the crust on the outside and the inside gave the steak an incredible richness.  I wasn’t kidding when I said we wanted to clean the entire plate!

Go and enjoy this recipe! I have learned that every once in a while, there is room for compromise and there is nothing wrong with a good steak.

Stuffed Skirt Steak

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 2 pound skirt steak, butterflied and pounded thin
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces proscuitto diced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 4 ounces button mushrooms, diced
  • 6 ounces sundried tomatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 3 ounces goat cheese

Instructions

  1.  pound butterflied skirt steak to approximately 1/4 inch thick. Salt and pepper and set aside.

  2. cook proscuitto in olive oil until slightly crisp.

  3. Add shallots and cook until tender, approximately 2 minutes.

  4. Add mushrooms and cook until brown.

  5. Add sundried tomatoes and cook an additional minute.

  6. Turn off heat and add spinach. Stir to incorporate.

  7. Spread mixture over butterflied steak. Sprinkle goat cheese over mixture and salt and pepper. Fold ends in and tie with kitchen string.

  8. Grill on 400 degrees. Rub olive oil on the outside of the steak. Grill 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until a crust forms. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes.

  9. Slice and serve.

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes with Rum Flavored Cream Cheese Icing

I make cupcakes.  The funny thing is, I don’t really like cake.  I don’t make the big cupcakes that are all the rage now – the ones where it’s loaded with a pound of sweet icing and you can only eat a half of one and even that makes you so full you can’t even finish it..   No, I make the mini ones.  It’s one bite and you get all the flavors together.  You can even eat two if you like them enough.

I got the idea for this by watching a show on the food network.  Pineapple upside down cake in a cupcake.  Genius!  That got my mind racing.  Tropical, rum, coconut…it all goes together very well with pineapple.  And that my dear friends is how this cupcake came about.  I hope you are going to love it as much as I did.  YUM.

Roasted Fennel and Sausage Orecchiette

Pasta has always been one of my favorite go-to comfort foods.  it’s probably not the best thing for my diet, but on a cold night there is nothing better.  For someone like me, however,  the basic tomato sauce can be a bit boring so I’m always trying to find something that ranks a little higher on the taste thermometer.

I think I found something.

This had everything I was looking for…ingredients that could stand alone individually on flavor, lots of color and it was not your typical spaghetti and red sauce.  I wasn’t sure how it was going to go over with my husband…he is after all, a sauce man and you typically cannot change is mind.  The pressure was on…..

I adapted this from Giada’s cooking show.  One of the things I changed was the sausage.  You can use whatever sausage you like but I opted for a sausage made at Whole Foods.  Chicken sausage with red peppers and garlic..  One of their best in my opinion with a lot of zest and flavor.  And for me, I roasted the fennel just a bit longer than the time given, only because I like mine a bit more charred.

The aroma when cooking this meal was amazing, the colors were beautiful and the taste was so flavorful.  I don’t think my husband even realized there wasn’t a sauce.  I must have changed his way of thinking because he went back for more!

I love this meal and I think you will too.  Pair it with a nice salad and some crusty bread and you’ve got a comfort food that your guests will all enjoy!

Pin It on Pinterest