Posted by Kurt on January 29, 2013
Challah Bread is a egg bread that is a Jewish bread made for the Sabbath. At least, Wikipedia says so. My wife is not Jewish, and she loves Challah bread any day of the week. Now, I haven’t gotten to working with yeast breads…yet. We buy ours at the supermarket. Normally, we just eat the bread as is with nothing on it. It really is that good. However, sometimes I want more.
This particular day after the Jewish Sabbath, I wanted French Toast.
Source: Food Network 365 Calendar 2012. Not sure of the day.
Ingredients: Challah bread sliced, 1/8 cup of sugar, teaspoon cinnamon, 1 egg, ½ cup of milk, ½ tablespoon of butter (more if needed). Serves 2.
Process: Whisk the milk and the egg until beaten. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in another bowl (or you can just buy the McCormick premixed version…but then you can’t control how much sugar if you do). Give the bread a bath in the milk/egg mixture. When you bathe the second side of the bread, sprinkle the mixture to your liking on the bread. Meanwhile, you should have heated a pan with the butter on medium heat. Put the cinnamon sugar side down, and the sprinkle the other side. Repeat, until you do all the slices. Serve with maple syrup, fruit, or whatever else you like.
Results: The French toast was flavorful and filling.
Verdict: Since we are trying to go through a lifestyle change (alright, we are dieting), this is a special treat meal. I would have taken pictures, but we ate it too fast.
Posted in Cooking, Recipes | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Kurt on January 24, 2013
Baked chicken is easy. Baked chicken legs is cheap and easy. Now, that you have stopped snickering. Let’s get on with the post.
Even though you didn’t ask, I’m going to tell you how I bake chicken legs. I take two tablespoons of smoked paprika. Don’t settle for the paprika that your grandmother put on her potato salad. Spend the extra money for the good stuff. It actually has a flavor. I put about a fourth of a tablespoon of the following in: ginger, salt, cayenne, tarragon and oregano. A tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of cinnamon complete the dry mixture. Put a little olive oil on the drumstick and then coat heavily with the dry mixture. Back until cook through.
The hard part in our household is not finding a protein that is tasty; it’s finding the vegetable that is the hard part. On this particular night, we settle on glazed carrots. On our last trip to the market, we purchased some maple syrup to replaced the processed pancake syrup we had in our fridge. Using my trusty How to Cook Everything as a guide, I set out to make maple glazed carrots. After cutting the carrots into coins, I added 1/3 of a cup of white wine, a tablespoon and half of maple syrup and two more tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil and cook down until they reach the desired tenderness.
An easy midweek meal.
Posted in Cooking, Recipes | Tagged: Carrot, Maple syrup | 6 Comments »
Posted by Kurt on January 14, 2013
I taught graphic design to high school students for years. In that class, I teach that you judge a book by its cover. Ok, if you are in high school you judge a book by its size first then its cover. When I first started to get into cooking, a cookbook cover caught my eye. It was just a big bright red book with large white serif lettering. The last word was in italics for emphasis. Its title was a mighty bold statement.
How to Cook Everything.
I picked it up and stared to read. Well, I looked for specific recipes. No way will he have a recipe for scrambled eggs or toast bread. I was wrong.
Now, I don’t write my cooking blogs to show my cooking prowess. I write my cooking blogs for the exact opposite reason. I want to learn how to cook. Most of my cooking in the twenties consisted of putting some seasoning on meat and throwing it between a Forman grill. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Yet, when I tried a few online recipes to cook something a little more complicate, and that would also allow me to eat a few days off of it, I found out I actually enjoy doing this. When I received How to Cook Everything as a gift, I started to do more. I started to experiment more. I started to cook things without a recipe.
I have a ton of cookbooks now, but How to Cook Everything is my cooking bible. It is written in a plain language for people who aren’t experts in the kitchen. Mark Bittman, the author, rates the recipes for difficulty. There are drawings to show you how do the simplest of things such as mincing garlic. He, correctly, assumes that plenty of people who buy his book come with very limited kitchen backgrounds. The first time I cooked a meal for a large group, I used this book. Everybody had seconds.
Considering the size of the book, I’ve made very few of the recipes in the book. And no, I will not be doing a Kurt and Mark blog. However, I have made quite a few and a few I memorized. To me, that’s the sign a great cookbook. Also, there are iPhone and iPad apps for the cookbook as well.
Posted in Books, Cooking, Media | Tagged: Mark Bittman | 3 Comments »
Posted by Kurt on January 4, 2013
One of the challenges I set out for myself this New Year is to cook at home more. I have a pretty decent amount of go to dishes that I can cook, but I want to push myself to expand my repertoire. I want to try to cook twenty-five new dishes this year. Hopefully, I will learn new techniques and be able to save some money by eating at home more often.
The first new recipe I cooked this year: Chicken with Tarragon Cream. I got the recipe from a bargain book called Chicken. Yes, it’s all about chicken.
- 2 Tbsp Light Olive Oil
- 4 Skinless Chicken Breasts
- 3 Shallots, finely chopped
- 2 Cloves Garlic (Minced)
- 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Mushrooms (Sliced)
- 2/3-Cup Dry White Wine
- 1 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Tarragon
Well, those are supposed to be the ingredients. Winn Dixie didn’t have any fresh tarragon nor did I, so I went with dried tarragon. Also, I used extra-virgin olive oil due to that was what I had. Due to buying Tyson, I had three large breasts that I halved so I really had half a dozen breasts. Except that one of the halves was almost all fat, so I just discarded it before I put it around my waistline.
All prepared before I turned on the stove.
I started cooking the chicken in olive oil until they became golden brown. Then, I turned down the heat and cooked them until they internal temperature was around 140. Putting the chicken aside, I cooked the shallots and garlic making sure I didn’t brown the either. I then added the mushrooms and basically stir-fried them for about 3-4 minutes. I put the chicken back in and added the wine. I let that cook until most, but not all, of the wine evaporated. I finally add the cream, the tarragon, and salt and pepper. I let that cook for a while until the cream thickened some.
What looks like the simpliest part is the hardest…making the mushrooms tender without burning the garlic and the shallots.
Meanwhile, I baked some asparagus (with a little olive oil and Cajun seasoning). I placed the chicken and the asparagus on the plate and spooned sauce over both.
The finished plate
Due to the time, I’m not sure I would cook this mid week again. Also, due to the cream, it’s heavy on the calories. This could be a dish reserved for dinner parties or just a nice stay at home weekend meal.
Posted in Cooking, Recipes | Tagged: Chicken, Tarragon | 5 Comments »
Posted by Kurt on March 29, 2012
Big Green Egg smoker/grill/bbq (XL size) (image via Wikipedia)
This past month, Cristina and I were able to finish off a lot of long-term bills which means extra money in our pockets. While I put the extra money into my savings account, I created a wish list of cooking items I want.
A top-notch cutting board: I’ve spied a few at local arts and crafts fairs that I would like. That way I’m shopping local and getting a quality handmade board.
A proper stove: I never really thought about it before until I read this (including the comments), but most electric stoves are stupidly design. It truly doesn’t make sense to have the controls in the back. Our house was turn-key and is only electric. If I must have an electric stove, I want one with the controls in the front.
A Green Egg: I’ve never met a person who owns the Green Egg of any size who doesn’t use the hell out of it. For those of you who don’t know, it is a smoker, an oven, and a grill. So not only can you have great barbecue, you can make pizza, bread, quesadillas, and pretty much anything else you want on it. After tasting the pork from the Big Green Egg competitor at Hogs for the Cause (which we will be writing about soon), Cristina understood why I wanted one. Hopefully, we will have one by summer.
Posted in Cooking | Tagged: big green egg, Electric stove, electric stoves | 2 Comments »
Posted by Kurt on March 27, 2012
The half marathon has come and gone. Our original plan was to take a week or two break from working out. Of course, this translates to a three-week break. In those three weeks, I’ve also took a break from watching what I eat. It’s amazing how ten pounds can come back on so quickly. It’s time to hit the gym again.
It’s also time to start cooking eighty percent of my meals again. It’s time to go back to the farmer’s market to load up on fruits and vegetables. Time to buy fish from trusted markets. If anybody from the bayou saw me fish they would demand my Cajun card back on the spot. In full confessional mode, I’ve only been fishing twice resulting in only four fish that were taken home. And I’ve never been hunting. Thank god for my Cajun blood lines because when I think about it, I’m a terrible Cajun.
But I digress.
I don’t believe that good food means bland food. I’m getting confident enough in my cooking skills that I feel I can alter any recipe to fit both our picky taste buds and our shrinking waistlines. Yet, I’m always looking for help. One of the blogs I’ve been following lately is memeinge. There are plenty of healthy recipes on her site that I can’t wait to try out…especially the healthier cookie dough dip.
How do you keep flavor in your dishes while keeping calories low?
Posted in Cooking | Tagged: Cajun, Cooking, healthy-living, nutrition | 4 Comments »
Posted by Kurt on March 2, 2012
Cristina is a first generation Italian-American. I’ve been to Italy. Cristina has asked me to make stuffed shells for her for some time. She knows I love to cook and has confidence in my abilities. Yet, I get nervous anytime I cook Italian food, especially since her dad was an Italian chef in New Orleans. With all that pressure, I decided to make stuff shells.
The catalyst for this was a taco party we had for her thirtieth birthday. We had plenty of cheese left over. We also happened to have ricotta cheese, Barilla shells, and some tomato sauce. I had put off making shells, but I couldn’t any longer.
After reading the recipes from Just off The Red Street Car Line and the back of the Barilla box, I decided to do a bit of this and a lot of that from both recipes.
While boiling the shells to make them soft, I made the stuffing. We were doing this without meat, so it was really just a cheese mixture. 15 ounces of ricotta cheese with not so well measured out Colby jack mixed together with some fresh Parmesan (please try to get the real thing not that stuff made by Kraft or from Wisconsin. The real thing has to come from Italy. Trust me, you will taste the difference). I threw in some Italian and Cajun seasonings and mixed. I then put a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a bake pan.
When the shells were ready to be stuffed (after about 6-8 minutes of boiling), I took them out and placed them on a sheet. I stuffed them and then put them in my baking pan and added more sauce, some pasta water, more Colby jack, more Parmesan, and more sauce. It made about 15 shells (boil more for when some break…and they will).*
Cristina seemed real pleased with the result. She didn’t complain at the three meals she made out of it.
*I’ll try to do a better job of taking pictures of my cooking. Just have to get used to having a camera in the kitchen.
Posted in Cooking, Random, Recipes | Tagged: Barlla, Pasta | 1 Comment »
Posted by Kurt on September 28, 2011
Mario Batali, My Favorite TV Chef (Image via Wikipedia)
“Imagine the View, but with food,” must have been the pitch producers for the awfully named The Chew must have thrown at ABC executives. The show premiered Monday and stars Top Chef’s Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly, Daphne Oz (Dr. Oz’s daughter), as well as Iron Chef’s Mario Batali and Michael Symon.
Since I watch Multo Mario every morning on the Cooking channel before we head out to work, Cristina thought it would be a good idea to tape the show. It was. It’s lightweight, especially compared to Multo Mario, but it is good for coming up with simple ideas. Both Batali and Symon have cooking segments that feature much simpler recipes than their own cooking shows which is good considered the target audience is more soccer moms than food nerds. Each of the recipes they have done in the last two days were easy recipes that really could be done in a home kitchen by a novice cook. Carla Hall food segments are truly easy and are closer to the Rachel Ray type of cooking. She did dip some apples in pancake batter and grilled them which looked interesting.
What amazes me is that there is a plethora of cooking shows on television and most of them are doing well in the ratings yet people seem to cook less and less. As I stated in an earlier post, it’s not that difficult and, if you plan right, it’s cheaper. In the time it takes me to pick up Wendy’s, I can usually cook something better tasting. I’m not opposed to eating out especially if you are supporting a local business (we just had Phil’s Grill, in fact). I guess most of the audience for these shows just enjoy food porn.
Posted in Cooking | Tagged: American Broadcasting Company, Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly, Mario Batali, Michael Symon | 2 Comments »
Posted by Kurt on September 26, 2011
Yesterday, in the Sunday Review of the New York Times, Mark Bittman wrote an Op-Ed piece on how junk food is not actually cheaper than regular food (if you want to read it, go ahead, we’ll be here when you get back). He talks about how families can really cook healthy food for cheaper. He buys all of his groceries at regular supermarkets and doesn’t buy organic or shop at stores such as Whole Foods. It argues that if you have time to sit in front of the tv, you have time to cook (especially, even though he doesn’t say this, now most kitchens have TVs in them).
Why am I right about this? Well, cooking at home has made a very positive impact on both Cristina and me. We both lose weight when we cook at home even though a meal we make at home often is chicken nachos. My blood pressure has reduced dramatically even though I apply salt to almost everything since cooking, by my definitions, doesn’t include boxed items that are loaded with sodium.
What’s amazing too about cooking at home is what happens when we eat out. Yesterday, we went to the Alligator Festival to sample the food. What normally would have been a first course at a festival for us quickly filled us up. It also increases my self-esteem because I know I cook better than almost all fast-food and chain restaurants, not because I am a better cook then the guys and girls on the line, but because I work with better ingredients.
Finally, it is cheaper if you do some planning. We try to cook only what we are going to eat which multiplies the number of meals we get from something. Also we try to apply the principle of amortization to our food (Example: I made baked chicken legs with potatoes and carrots. When you figure out the unit prices it came to right about five dollars for the total meal. Wendy’s usually runs me for sixteen dollars). Also, and this may be the weirdest thing I say to some people, but we really don’t need to eat meat every meal. Lentils, for example, have ten grams of protein per serving plus a good amount of fiber, both of which will make you feel full faster. In fact, it is rare that you will see Cristina and I eat meat more than once a day.
Sorry if this blog comes off a little preachy but it is a blog. Cooking and eating better is something we feel passionate about. Also, cooking is not hard especially since I can do it. Trust me, I’m clumsy and three women who love me the most (Cristina, my mom, and sister) can attest to how much little common sense I have. In fact, I still haven’t learned that it is a good idea to close the microwave door when I’m finished with it. Mark Bittman didn’t say it in his article, but I will for him. If you really don’t have any idea of how to cook, he did write a book called How to Cook Everything.
Posted in Cooking | Tagged: Alligator Festival, Mark Bittman | 3 Comments »