Another of Life's Simple Pleasures
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Life's Simple Pleasures
Thursday, June 3, 2010
I can't say it's cheese, either, but it sure is good!
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The biggest surprise to me? The main ingredient to this thick, creamy dream of a "cheeze" spread is oatmeal. Of course I saved the container as a reference to the ingredients used. I have since been playing around with a recipe, I have made it 3 or 4 times with great success. Saturday I tried to make queso dip or what I grew up calling Rotel dip; basically Velveeta cheese melted & mixed with Rotel tomatoes. This was the dip of my youth; I no longer make Rotel dip, but I must admit, if there is some at a party, I do have a dip or two or ten! I haven't mastered the consistency of the original Rotel dip, yet; but I was in a hurry to get to a cookout, so didn't spend too much time on it. I ended up pureeing the batch with the Rotel tomatoes with a plain batch; the result had a wonderful spicy, smokey flavor. I didn't hoover over the bowl as my husband did at the cookout(he has developed more of an "interest" in this spread since his first taste), but I do think that my "cheeze" was enjoyed by vegans & non-vegans alike (I came home with an empty bowl). Next batch, I'm adding fakin' bacon bits! They can't say it's cheese & neither can I, but we sure do love it at our house!
Where, oh, where has Jamie been?
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
So, now to answer the question, where has Jamie been? Being that we live in a seasonal tourist community, winter is my slower season for my private chef business. I do have clients that come into town throughout the year, but I am not as busy as in the summer. This winter Sean & I have worked hard on the Airstream. I should really say that Sean has worked hard on the Airstream. I am so grateful to have a husband who believes in me & loves me so much to work as hard as he has to make my dream a reality. We are converting the Airstream into a commercial kitchen & plan to open a natural foods cafe next month! However, for the record, I will DEFINITELY continue my private chef business; I love it!
In the past several months I have catered some weddings and large charity fund raising events, such as Walton County Habitat for Humanity's Christmas party & Paint A Difference, as well as participated in some cooking demonstrations. (I will include some photos from some of those events.) I have also been developing & testing my recipes for the cafe. It's all very exciting, but lots of hard work. Today was a very exciting day, I finally submitted my building permit application to Walton County! Now I will anxiously await their response! We do have a website for the cafe & Sean has been blogging about his progress in the 'Stream (my loving nickname for the big, silver bullet). Please check out the new cafe website. And for any of my regular clients or potential clients who may be reading this, don't hesitate to give me a call or send me an email, I am still very much in the private chef business.
And to the foodies out there, more food posts to come soon.
(Obviously a cooking demonstration!)
Ratatouille, polenta & seeing red
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Sean was working, so when he got home I was excited to see what he thought about it; he loved it, he ate 3 bowls full! I saved a little to try the next day, to see how the flavors melded overnight. I had an appointment yesterday morning & didn't get home until well after lunch & was starving. I went to the refrigerator & pulled out the polenta & started searching for the ratatouille. Frantic, I couldn't find it, I went to the sink & to my horror there was a small container with what appeared to be the remnants of my beloved ratatouille in it. I was on the phone; I told my Mother that I would have to call her back, she quickly hung-up, not wanting to hear my wrath. I called to Sean in his office, indeed, he had mindlessly eaten my precious leftover ratatouille while talking on the phone & not thinking of my request for him to leave it alone. What ensued is not printable! I had to go to him later & apologize for being so angry. It had taken me a couple of hours, or longer, to prepare this dish! He was sorry that he had eaten it & all was well...except I had not gotten to taste my day-old ratatouille...that he informed me in the middle of my screaming "was even better today"! Thank you very much!
1 lb. eggplant
1 lb. zucchini
1 t. salt
7 T. olive oil, divided
2 c. thinly sliced onion (I used yellow)
2 green bell peppers, thinly sliced into strips
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 lb. firm but ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded & cut into 1/4 in. strips
3 T. minced fresh parsley
Peel eggplant; cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then cut into 3-inch-long, 1-inch-wide strips. Cut zucchini into same size strips. Place vegetables in large bowl; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Drain; dry with paper towels.
Heat 4 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add eggplant and zucchini to skillet; sauté until light golden, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to plate; reserve.
Add 3 tablespoons oil to skillet; heat over medium heat. Add onion and peppers; sauté until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
Place tomato strips atop onion-pepper mixture in skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover skillet; cook over low heat until tomatoes begin to juice, about 5 minutes. Uncover; baste vegetables in skillet with juices. Boil until juices are almost evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer 1/3 of onion-pepper-tomato mixture to 2 1/2-quart pot; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley. Top with half of eggplant and half of zucchini, then remaining onion-pepper-tomato mixture; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley. Layer remaining eggplant and zucchini over; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley. Cover; simmer over low heat 10 minutes. Uncover; tilt pot and baste with accumulated juices. Increase heat to medium; simmer uncovered, basting several times with pan juices until only 2 to 3 tablespoons juices remain in pot, watching closely to avoid scorching, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cool slightly. Cover; chill. Serve at room temperature or rewarm over medium-low heat before serving
I have very much been enjoying corn lately; in different forms, though. A week or so ago I prepared food for a very casual lunch & had some Mexican cornbread muffins left over. A favorite lunch of mine last week was a fried egg, Mexican cornbread & a tomato; very nice combination of flavors & textures. Today, I reheated a piece of polenta & ate it with a fried egg & tomato--again, delicious! I think I may be onto something!
I realized a couple of days ago that this month is Vegan Month of Food or VeganMoFo; it's basically to bring awareness to veganism & vegan food bloggers commit to blogging about vegan food 5 days a week for the entire month of October. I love the concept & even considered making the commitment. However, I just don't have the time; the Airstream is rolling right along (pun intended!) & is requiring much of my time & energy. I am looking forward to reading so many vegan food posts by so many talented cooks & funny bloggers!
Speaking of the Airstream, we received some very positive news last week regarding the location we are trying to get approved to open our all-natural, slow food, organic, mostly vegetarian cafe. As a result, we are working towards obtaining a building permit & finishing out the inside of the 'Stream as quickly as possible. We have set some goals & a timeline & are very excited about all that is happening! It will give me an outlet to cook the food that I am passionate about, healthy food, & also, a kitchen to prep for my personal chef jobs in. Speaking of which, I better head to the kitchen & get busy with some prepping that I need to get done for another job!
The "Good Time"
Monday, September 21, 2009
I love snowballs, you know, shaved ice. My sister lived in New Orleans for years & it was just a short walk from her house to Pandora's in the City Park area. I would go visit her in the summer & would have to make at least one trip to Pandora's while I was there, even as an adult. When you eat a snowball the ice begins to melt & eventually you have a cup of slush, this is what I named the "good time"; it's the best part of the snowball. Well, the term has bled over into many other things, like when you order a pizza & after several pieces have been taken out of the box & there is a huge glob of cheesy goodness stuck to the cardboard, this is the "good time". Or the brown crust at the bottom edge of a pound cake that sometimes wants to break off, that is definitely the "good time". Or when you are eating spaghetti & there is just a little sauce left in the bottom of your bowl & you have a small piece of garlic bread left & you use the bread to sop up the last bit of sauce, that is the "good time".
I imagine you are getting the point. Well, tonight I was actually at home, not cooking or prepping for clients & decided to cook for me & Sean. I made a delicious stir-fry with fresh vegetables & lightly fried tofu. I had not eaten much today so I served myself a very generous bowl of brown rice & stir-fry. Did I mention that I love tofu; really, I eat it straight out of the package. Well, I ate & ate & ate, all the while saving some "good time", which tonight happened to be the chunks of tofu; I wanted to savor them at the end. The problem was that I got full before I got to my "good time". Don't fret, I ate it all; as my assistant, Donna & I say, I made a happy plate (Can you tell I taught preschool for almost 5 years?). But my "good time" wasn't quite as good as it could have been had I not been so full. I have always loved food & loved to eat. I can remember being a child & eating so much that I would be chewing a bite & have to spit it out because I knew that if I swallowed it I would be sick to my stomach. Okay, I admit, that was not healthy! But it does prove that my love of food runs deep & long!
On to my stir-fry, it took me about 5 years to perfect the stir-fry. I have considered getting a job in a Thai restaurant just to learn their techniques & sauces & such. In the early days, I would add too many ingredients to my stir-fry. Then even when I simplified my ingredients, my vegetables would come out overcooked. I have some tricks, which make things much simpler. I admit, I would still love to learn from the owner/chef of Benjarong in Mary Esther, he is the former chef at Royal Orchid in Miramar Beach. His vegetables come out with just the slightest bit of char & his cucumber salad is something I dream about. However, Sean did say tonight that this was the best stir-fry he can remember having in a long time. Here's what I do...
For the sauce:
2 T. sesame oil
2 T. vegetable oil
6 scallions or 1/4 onion, chopped
2 T. minced garlic
1 T. minced ginger
1 1/3 c. vegetable stock
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. sugar (I use sugar in the raw)
a couple pinches crushed red pepper (or to your taste)
2 T. white vinegar
2 T. cornstarch
2-3 T. cold water
Heat oil in skillet, add ginger & onions, saute until tender (if adding mushrooms, add them with the onions & let them soften). Add garlic & saute about a minute. Add stock, soy sauce, sugar, red pepper & vinegar. Mix well. In a small bowl combine cornstarch with cold water & mix to dissolve cornstarch. Add cornstarch slurry to the skillet & stir to thicken. You may need to add a little more slurry depending on how thick you want your sauce.
For the vegetables:
Choose whatever combination you like; my favorites are green beans, mushrooms, cabbage & broccoli. I prefer to just use 2-3 vegetables at a time. Steam your vegetables for a couple of minutes, not until they are done, just until they are crisp tender. Tonight I used cabbage, green beans & mushrooms. Again, for the mushrooms, I sauteed them with the onions. Then I steamed the beans & cabbage together, about 5 minutes. Add your vegetables to your sauce just to heat.
Sometimes we just have a vegetable stir-fry over brown rice, but tonight I added tofu. (For frying tofu, I use extra firm.) I have often read to toss tofu cubes in cornstarch prior to frying. I have never tried this method & decided to try it out tonight. I only used about 1/2 an inch of oil in my skillet & added the cornstarch covered tofu chunks & lightly fried them. The cornstarch did give them a nice crisp exterior that they would not have had otherwise, very nice result. I added this to my vegetables & sauce & tossed it all together. Typically my last step would be to add chopped cilantro to my stir-fry; unfortunately, we are out of cilantro. (Note to self, add cilantro to grocery list.) Even without the cilantro, the stir-fry was delicious! (The lighting wasn't the best for the picture, the colors were much better than they appear.)
I had half a pineapple left over from making a pineapple upside down cake for clients last night; so I decided to make one for us. Of course I had to veganize my recipe. I also added coconut milk & shredded coconut to the cake batter. Just a few minutes ago I went back into the kitchen to get a little bite of the "good time" from the cake--the crusty edge, but the cake was already completely gone! I ate so much tonight that my stomach hurts--just like my childhood days! I guess that's one way to know that dinner was a success!
Labels: Benjarong, coconut, fried tofu, Mary Esther Florida, Miramar Beach Florida, New Orleans Louisiana, Pandora's, personal chef, pineapple upside down cake, Royal Orchid, snowballs, stir-fry, vegan