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 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!