Tuesday, September 9, 2008

We missed you so!

After a brief hiatus we're back at the stove, stilettos and all! It was a long cold figurative winter in our kitchen this summer and we're both SUPER PSYCHED to get back to it! So without further adieu...

A Summer Fruit Tart of sorts (with a fun little extra)

This tasty goodness began with a post-dinner desperate need for something sweet...oh and healthy too! We found the following in NC's freezer/fridge/cabinets:

2 Nectarines
Multi-grain pancake mix and whatever those directions call for (shameless plug for Trader Joe's Multi-Grain Pancake Mix...this stuff is mmm mmm good as pancakes, waffles, muffins...a summer fruit tart perhaps...)
A cast iron frying pan
Maybe some oatmeal, brown sugar, and cinnamon if you so desire.
And of course, Love. This is usually located in the back corner of the shelf with the sugar...or the butter tray if you're Paula Dean

Moving on:
Heat the pan to a medium high temp and spread some "love" all over that.
Cut up the nectarines, toss in the hot pan with the berries.
Toss a little cinnamon and brown sugar in there for good measure.
Let the berries reduce...we do love a good reduction.
While they do their thing, preheat the oven to 400ish and do up the pancake mix and put it aside for a moment.
Once you've got a some serious liquid going on take the pan off the heat and pour the liquid into a glass or bowl and set it aside for later.
Make sure the berry/stone fruit goodness is spread evenly over the bottom of the pan before we experience the greatness of cast iron cookware.
Pour the pancake mix over the fruit and sprinkle a some of the oatmeal/brown sugar/spices on top and pop that s#*$ in the oven!!

And now we wait...
Check on the oven every so often...we were impatient and checked every 5-10mins. I think it went for about 20mins total.
When the pancake is cooked through and the oatmeal is good and crispy take out the tart and let it cool before digging in!

One more thing: Remember that magic berry elixir we put aside? Good. Go ahead and strain that, pop a bottle of Prosseco and make yourself a Belini because, like L'Oreal says, you're worth it!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Your Liver Will Forgive You

This is a light and delicious dinner to make you feel better about kicking your liver in the face with all that Guiness and cornbeef. Its easy and openended, as usual, so as not to make your hung over head explode. Lets begin, shall we?

Pick a light white fish filet (1 filet/person). I prefer Talapia since it's not prone to flaking apart and its typically easy on the wallet, but of course chose anything you prefer, even salmon!

Grab some cilantro, asparagus, 1 lemon or 2 if you're serving more than , a clove of garlic, salt and pepper (if you're that kid who doesn't have it your kitchen already) and EVOO. On to the non-edible items you need; tin foil, tongs wouldn't hurt but not necessary, a shallow pan.

Preheat oven to 350degrees

Lay out a sheet of tin foil for one filet, the idea is that you'll losely wrap up the filet to cook so make sure its large enough. Season filet on both sides with a little salt and pepper. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Slice the lemon in almost half and put the smaller end aside. Thinly slice the other part the round way and place one or two rings on the filet. Use the smaller bit to squeeze some juice over the filet. Add a couple sprigs of cilantro and fold the foil into a loose pocket around the fish and put the pockets in the oven. They won't take too long, maybe 20 mins. Feel free to check it after about 15 to ensure it doesn't dry out.

Cut the tough white yuck ends off the asparagus and lay it out in the shallow pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Season with some S&P. Finely chop the garlic and sprinkle over the asparagus. Toss the aspargus around in the oil and garlic to make sure its nicely coated. Preferably you'd use the broiler feature on your oven but if your fish isn't done by this time feel free to toss the asparagus in on the top shelf and turn on the broiler when the fish comes out. The asparagus should cook until its lightly browned/crisped.

If you're not into aspargus you can use the same oil/garlic roasting thing with summer squash, zuch, carrot slices, red potato, pretty much anything with some substance.

Hopefully this meal will make you feel a little bit better about the emminant binging you may have taken part in this past weekend; maybe lighter on your feet for the purpose of jigging! No Jigging? Fine, either way enjoy!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Note on Cooking Safety

While we do encourage a little sipping while cooking (a splash for the pot and splash for my glass!) we do not suggest experimenting in the kitchen after, say, overindulging in juice. I recently had a discussion with a friend (we'll call her JEM) in which she relayed her adventures in post "night on the town" cooking.

Moral of the story: Don't cook things involving fire/heat unless you are able to remain conscious throughout the process. Like the PSA along the highway say, "Stay awake for safety's sake."


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

If you give a Mousse a...

...spot of milk and a quick whip you get a delightfully dense flourless cake batter with which to make tasty tarts!
With the intention of bringing some Bitter to the Sweet that is Hallmark's Favorite Holiday (Valentine's Day, for those of you who aren't quite following) NC and MQ ventured to the grocery store last week. We had the right idea going into this experiment (and it was truly an experiment folks!) Basically the idea was a variety of bitter, sour and sweet tartlets; Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse, Lemon Curd, and Raspberry Preserve. Somewhere along the way we strayed from our original plan and created something amazing!

Necessary Items include:
Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Butter, about 1/2 - 1 inch of a stick
Pot in which to heat water and bowl in which to melt chocolate over said hot water (Double boiler system)
3 or 4 eggs, separated (both parts will be used)
Jar of Lemon Curd
Jar of Raspberry preserves
Corn Starch
1/2 Lemon
Mini cupcake pan and average cupcake pan
Puff pastry (we used Phyllo and later decided against it, more on that to follow)

We made this a two person game. MQ was on Chocolate duty while NC handled the fruity reduction... she loves a good reduction... Anyway, we'll start with Chocolate:
- Preheat oven to 350ish
- Fill pot about 1/2 way with water and place bowl (which should be big enough to sit on top of pot without touching the bottom of the pot, see the picture for visual aide) on the pot. Let the water come to a boil and reduce to a medium heat.
- Add the bag of chocolate chips and butter. Stir and allow to melt.
- Once melted add a wee splash of milk, or half and half. Stir it in, it should be getting fudgey... yumm!
- Remove this from the heat and allow to cool to a point where you can dab a little on your lip without pain...then lick it off
- After the chocolate has cooled, fold in one egg yolk at a time.
- Whip the egg whites to a point where they have some serious body then fold into the chocolate mix.
- If at this point your chocolate is light and fluffy than you've got one up on us! Now ruin it by whipping it too hard and breaking the fluff factor.
- Pour the fudgey batter into the average sized cupcake pan, each cup should be filled about 1/2 way.

- Cut some small squares from the puff pastry just large enough to fill the inside of mini cupcake cups. Spoon just a little of the fudgey goodness into each cup.
- Into the oven they go! Keep an eye on them and you will see they rise ever so slightly. Do the toothpick test after 5-7 minutes and assess the remaining time accordingly. They will, despite NC's doubts, cook through!

On to the fruity fun!

- Heat a sauce pan to about medium. Mix half the jar of Raspberry Preserves and half the Lemon Curd together in the pan. (Yes, this is one of those times where you mix to taste, make a sweetly and sour puckingly perfect fruity filling thats all your own!)
- Let this beautiful blend reduce (we love a good reduction...) and stir in a dash of corn starch in to thicken.
- Feel free to get a squeeze of fresh lemon juice in there, more curd, more preserves, whatever you feel is the right step!
- When the mix is thick (basically not runny at all, no one likes a runny filling, are we wrong?) and reflects your personal tastes remove from the heat and set aside while you wait attentively for the faboo-fudge to finish their assent to experiemental greatness!
When the assorted cupcake pans come out (maybe not at the same time, keep in mind) let them cool and then spoon a dollop of the fruit on top of each cupcake and into each tartlet. Arrange attractively on a pretty plate, admire your "fruitful" labor (ha, we're so witty), and indulge in a Bittersweet love affair!!


Monday, January 28, 2008

Delectable Discoveries vol. 1 - Brinjal Relish

This occasional segment has been created to share some of the items we discover in the gourmet stores, markets, restaurants, NYC/Boston streets, Armenian fairs, and mother's pantries of our lives. It could be a recipe, a wine, an odd yet supposedly edible item...who know, you'll just have to stay tuned to find out! Lets begin, shall we?

Forgive us if we are behind the culinary common knowledge times, but we recently discovered that Brinjal is the Hindi name for Eggplant. This awesomely edible and gorgeously colored fruit clearly has many uses (grilled, marinated, moussaka-ed, you get the idea) and has been a favorite, right up there with the Portobello, among those seeking a vegetarian alternative as it provides a texture and level of gastronomical satisfaction similar to carnivorous options. Funfact: Like the tomato, eggplant is not technically a vegetable but rather a savory fruit that we have come to use as we would vegetables.
Not personally being a big fan of the eggplant I was recently pleasantly surprised to discover a use for it in appetizer form. My mother, a virtual Martha Stewart, used a Brinjal relish (we'll say it was made by a popular brand of Indian sauces and various food items that starts with P and ends with -atak's) and combined it with chopped up marinated artichokes. This delish mixture was then spread liberally over the top of a wheel of Brie cheese and tossed in the oven (approx 400degrees for 13-18 mins, just until its spreadabley soft and warm, mmmm). It comes out oooo sooo goooood. How easy was that? Best spread on crostini or something strong enough to hold up the savory amazingness of this delectable delight.
Eat well and with great pleasure!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Fraiche-est Creme

Introducinggggggggg.. MISS CREME FRAICHE!

Miss MQ, as she prefers to be called, has made quite a few ellusions to this NC character. And that fantastical lover of fat, fancy and fabulous has arrived. In the flesh. Or, in the Fraiche, to be more specific.

As a little introduction, I would like to share with you some of my fundamental beliefs about cooking and baking:

* Either activity is always performed more proficiently (and with much more gusto) when bolstered by cocktails... I recommend Champagne (Andre if youre in college or underage, Veuve Cliquot if youre overage and feeling sassy)

* If you Fuck it up ( a word I employ in the kitchen quite often- cooking demands Bravado, DAMNIT) then don't panic... unlike most things in life, mistakes in the kitchen are usually edible

* Salt early and often. Not only does salt add flavor but it also helps meats retain moisture (see: salt on an icy sidewalk) Remember, kids, nobody likes dry meat. Not now, NOT EVER

* Sharing is Caring. Food is about friends, warmth, and bringing people together. But mostly its about FEEDING THOSE MOTHERFUCKERS ! So don't be a fatty and remember to give your friend down the block some of those delicious confections. Or, if your recipe sucks and tastes like doggy doo-doo then feed it to your enemies, I guarantee you they won't come back for seconds.***

* Finally, the rules for the kitchen should be the same as the bedroom: Don't be afraid to experiment. Throw some curry powder in that deviled egg recipe...pair cornbread with a homemade chipotle cheddar butter (that one care of Indigo restaurant, Hamilton)...pineapple juice in with a roasted chicken..Who knows? the possibilities are endless. A disclaimer- while a good chef appreciates daring, The Comestible Divas do NOT encourage introducing curry powder to the bedroom and are not responsible for the results if one is to forego our advice

*** See: Senior year, spicy cupcake. But thats a story for another day. Stay Tuned.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Stuffed Chicken Breast (or pork, whatever you please)

While perusing the local grocery store, NC and MQ created this delish and easy (and even a little classy) piece of dinner time goodness that is so easily adaptable to your own preferences! Its basic idea involves the following:

Something to stuff: In this case we're going to pretend you chose Chicken Breast (1 per dinner guest), but pork chops or veal or other such meats do just as well. (Also consider a portobello if you prefer the veg life!)
A cheese: Again, we'll assume you chose herbed Goat cheese, but the options are nearly endless. you want something that melts well and that you like the taste of, of course!
A bonus stuffing element: You went with prosciutto? Good choice! Fresh spinach is also tasty, as are other softer veggies that will cook well inside your choice of stuffed object.
Sauce making bits and pieces: Lets just say you decided on a red wine and cranberry sauce with scallions or leeks because a warm red will match nicely with the rich Goat Cheese and the cranberry's add a little sweet pop. You'll want to use dried cranberries as they will rehydrate while cooking. Rule #2 (see Holiday Buzz Cake for #1): NEVER cook with wine that you wouldn't drink on its own.

- Begin by pounding out the chicken breast so that it will cook through evenly. No need to make it paper thin by any means, just enough to make it relatively the same thickness throughout.
- Cut a pocket part way through the breast along one of the thin sides (think the orientation of cutting a bagel in half, but don't cut all the way through).
- Season each side of all the breasts with salt and pepper.
- Line the inside of each pocket with a slice or two of prosciutto and fill with Goat Cheese. Don't hold back! It's totally fine if its over flowing with gooey cheesy goodness!
- Bring a frying pan to medium heat. When it is hot hot hot get a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or EVOO, if you will) in there.
- Place the breasts in the pan and let cook most of the way through, maybe 5 mins on each side depending on how thick they are.
- While these cook chop up the scallion, a couple small handfuls chopped should do.
- Remove the chicken and put to the side for moment while we being the sauce.
- Get a little dash of oil in the pan and toss in the scallions. Scrape up the chicken bits on the bottom of the pan and get them cooking too.
- Open your choice of wine and pour generously into a glass. Swirl, smell, swish, swallow, savor.
- Now add about 3/4 a cup of the wine to the pan. Let this reduce and add in a couple small handfuls of the dried cranberries.
- Get the chicken breast back in the pan and let it cook the rest of the way and simmer and suck in the saucy goodness. The goat cheese will get melty and any over hanging prosciutto will crisp and it will all smell divine!

When the chicken is cooked through (feel free to make a small incision in the thickest bit and check it out) plate it up with your favorite side. You must admit that stuffed anything is reasonably impressive, at least in the world of food, so leave your dinner guests in awe of your sudden culinary prowess! No need to thank us, really!

Serving suggestions:
We like a nice salad on the side, or perhaps some steamed spinach with sliced almonds, or butternut squash...the options are endless. Also consider serving the same wine you used to cook with ---- we'll make that Rule #2a.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Easiest Lunch EVER

We love a healthy dose of EVOO, the good fat, and this pasta salad with grilled chicken es muy delicioso y facil. Total time is pretty much however long it takes you to grill a piece of chicken make some pasta. Ready...GO:

Boil water, add a little salt and EVOO to the pot
Heat grilling device (LOVE the griddle/grilling surface you can buy for a 4 burner stove, great for apartments, worth the $$)
While things are heating up and whatnot combine the following things in a mixing bowl:
1/4 cup EVOO
good hand full of fresh green beans (or fresh seasonal veg of choice, sliced zuch or summer squash are also good)
chunks of 1 large or 2 small fresh tomatoes (totally optional, Meg L thats for you)
fresh ground sea salt (Trader Joe's sells awesome disposable salt and pepper grinders)
fresh ground pepper
- toss this all around and give the veg a good coating in the oil

Grill chicken breast, slice when done
Cook enough pasta for 2ish servings (whole wheat pasta is really perfect with this healthy mix of goodness)

Toss pasta and chicken in with marinating veg deliciousness.
Eat without shame or abandon, and put left overs in fridge for another glorious day!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Holiday Buzz Cake

It all began with a trifle...

The Holiday Buzz Cake, as it has come to be known, is the first of our experimental adventures. Essentially, it's a pumpkin trifle and our interpretation is as follows (REMEMBER: #1 rule is it's ok - no - it's essential to taste as you go!):

-trifle dish or clear glass bowl since the layers are pretty
-1 can Pumpkin Pie filling
-.75 stick of cream cheese (adjust to taste, we found this amount made a perfect creamy layer without diminishing the pumpkiny goodness)
-nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, allspice, vanilla extract (go for the real stuff), sugar to taste
-whipping cream
-lady fingers, go 2 packages as we found one to fall just short
-spiced rum, go for the liter bottle and have some left over for cocktails
-Graham crackers
-nut halves of your choice (we like pecans, but walnuts are also good)
-brown sugar for reduction and aesthetic reasons
-1/4 stick budduh

Ok, start with a little reduction. Heat a sauce pan to med/low. melt the butter (DON'T BURN THE BUDDUH!), put about 1/4 cup booze in the pan and let simmer until the alcohol is reduced slightly. Add and melt brown sugar. Taste, you want this to have the spiced flavor and be just slightly boozy.

When reduction is ready dip lady fingers (don't let them soak or they with dissolve) and line bottom of trifle dish. Feel free to dip more in prep for the next layer until reduction is gone.

In a mixing bowl, blend the pie filling, cream cheese, sugar and spices. Scoop a layer over the lady fingers.

In a plastic bag, crush Graham crackers and nuts, sprinkle a layer over the pie filling.

In a second bowl whip the cream, add a dash of sugar if desired, and add a layer to the dish.

Repeat this layering until you get to the top of the bowl. Make a little more reduction, glaze some un-crushed nuts and arrange on top. You can also sprinkle a little brown sugar or the Graham cracker mix over the top.

We've found that this tasty trifle only gets better over time so allow it to sit in the fridge for an hour or more before serving!

Hello Lover!

Welcome and Happy New Year!
NC and MQ like to experiment...in the kitchen...and we began this blog to share the results of our attempts at greatness, fun facts, and other delicious tidbits about or relating to the world of food and drink.
No recipes required, its cooking ad libitum! We're dedicated to making it up as you go along. Everything is more fun that way, wouldn't you agree?

I have to give some inspirational credit to the Culinary Vixens of "Forgot the Eggs?" ...Thanks cuz!